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held, that of writing a "public letter" on the proceedings of both, a kind of second edition of his letter on the connoisseurs and the Elgin Marbles in 1816.


But Haydon subdued his feelings, and went on with what easel-work he had upon hand. Hearing at length the committee held the notion that fresco would be preferable to oil painting for the new Houses, and that, in the opinion of the committee, the English oil painters could not " draw well enough to work in fresco;" that "fresco " was not their "element," and that “Cornelius and the German painters accustomed to fresco" must be "sent for," he became indignant. "Here,"


he says, are the patrons of art in England now asking for the Germans to come over and execute great works' in our Houses of Parliament, because, as they allege, the English painters are not equal to the task. Who is to blame if the English painters cannot execute great works? Who was it that left poor Barry to live and die in poverty and want because he painted great works? Who declined to support Reynolds in history, drove Opie into portrait, left Fuseli to live by the print-sellers, and refused to encourage either Hilton or Etty? Who allowed me to be ruined and imprisoned and my school destroyed, because I would paint 'great works,' and dared to tell them that great works should be executed for the honor of their country. Who has pressed down the genius of England by buying nothing but small works and foreign 'specimens'? Does any man in his senses believe that the exhibitions of the Royal Academy show what English artists wish to paint? No, they bring out what they are obliged to paint, they bring to market the goods which will sell. And now because you have degraded the art by narrowing its great calling, you turn round and say, 'Let us call in the Germans.' Shame on you! Shame on you!"

Before a week was over he had pulled down part of his painting-room wall, prepared it, and trusting to his rapid practice in

oil, painted in genuine fresco, without retouching, a magnificent half-length of an archangel. I remember well its ideal and unearthly beauty, for I had to sit stripped to the waist as the model, and saw him paint it. The attempt was a complete success, except that it dried lighter than Haydon expected, but this only added to its surprising beauty. The effect was marvellous and highly poetical. The committee heard of it, and with the meanness of men came up to see. His painting-room I remember was crowded for days, and anybody who formerly said that no Englishman could paint in fresco," now declared "nothing was so easy." The scorn and contempt with which Haydon listened to their idle gabble can be easily conceived. '



Cornelius, the German painter, suddenly arrived in London from Munich. He was received with extraordinary distinction by the Prince, and by Sir Robert Peel. He was taken everywhere by Sir Robert's request. But he never reached Haydon's studio. This was at least remarkable, for of all men he would come and see, one would think he would come to see the intimate friend and correspondent of his own great friend Rumöhr, to say nothing of Haydon's position in the art. But he never came. Haydon began to scent mischief; he had many and various sources of information. In a short time he arrived at the conviction that the Prince was in favor of giving the entire control of the decoration of the Houses to Cornelius, leaving the practical part only to the English artists. I believe him to

1 While at Dover, in May of this year 1841, Haydon suddenly received news of the death of Sir David Wilkie on his way home from the East. It rested on his mind like a horrible nightmare for a month, and took him quite away from everything but vain regrets and reminiscences. He was deeply attached to Wilkie, and so I believe was Wilkie to him. One great regret he had, and that was, that the whole of the thirty-nine academicians were not flung overboard after him, on the principle of sacrificing to the manes of a distinguished man. Woodburn, Wilkie's companion, told my father that Wilkie literally quacked himself to death with drugs. It is curious how often delicate men and women will persist in this dangerous interference with the chemistry of nature.-ED.


have had good grounds for this conclusion. And he had also good reasons for believing that Sir Robert was strongly inclined to think that, "in this case, as in the other," the views of his Royal Highness were perfectly just."

Haydon goes off to Eastlake (30th October) and has a long conversation. Eastlake had seen Cornelius. On the 2d December, 1841, Eastlake had an interview with Prince Albert with reference to the business of the Royal Commission, of which he was appointed Secretary. The Prince, with all that frankness which appears to have distinguished him in his intercourse with professional men, and probably not aware of Eastlake's relations with Haydon, spoke out his views on the subject of the decoration of the Houses. What those views were I cannot say; but I think my father knew, and we can easily infer, for in describing his interview with the Prince, after the Prince had spoken, Eastlake, in a letter which has been published, says, "I thought that the moment had come when I must make a stand against the introduction of foreign artists." But then, evidently fearing he had gone too far, or with the view to draw the Prince out further, Eastlake immediately modified his objections by saying he saw no reason why "Germans might not be employed under English artists." But Prince Albert, upon this, said he saw no reason for that, and would not admit it was necessary; "for," said the Prince, "I am convinced in all that relates to practical dexterity the English are particularly skilful. "


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This appears to have satisfied Eastlake, and nothing more is needed, I think, to show that Haydon's information was correct, and that the Prince, who had formed his opinion of English art from Sir Martin Shee and the Academy, for his Royal Highness was not permitted to visit Haydon's studio or those of the anti-academicians, and anxious to raise a school of fresco in England, had come to the hasty conclusion that no English artist could draw and design sufficiently well to paint in fresco ; hence, in his sincere anxiety to make the public decoration of the Houses worthy of the nation, he sought to introduce the best aid in design that he knew of, and that was from the

Germans, Cornelius, Hess, and Overbeck. In due time the Prince, supported by Sir Robert Peel, formally made the proposal at a meeting of the Commissioners to call over Cornelius, Hess, and Overbeck, and employ them to design the decoration of the Houses. No opposition was offered, those who disapproved took refuge in silence, and the proposal was carried, In a few hours it came to Haydon's knowledge. He brooded moodily over it. His loyalty to the Queen and his delight at finding in Prince Albert some indications of a love for High Art prevented any immediate expression of opinion. He seemed all at once to wish to get out of the whole thing; he talked of going to Italy-going abroad altogether. After a while he wrote to Sir Robert Peel offering to go to Italy and make a careful examination of all the existing frescoes, as, in his opinion, it was highly important this should be done, if fresco was to be employed. Sir Robert Peel coldly acknowledged Haydon's letter, took note of its main suggestion, and shortly after sent out Mr. Wilson, of the London School of Design.

The Royal Commissioners had not met in consultation many times after the breaking of the German stick they had relied on, before they found in what a hopeless predicament they were falling from want of professional men at their Board. Eastlake, their secretary, saved them from making themselves ridiculous by their propositions and counter-propositions, and curious display of incapacity and ignorance on all essential points, by persuading them to adopt Haydon's plan, 1816-17, of an exhibition of cartoons, in order to test the capacity of the English artists in drawing and design, and thus relieved the Commissioners of the difficulty of selecting and entrusting one man to conduct the whole, and the right men to serve under him. It was a weak plan, a poor expedient-on a par with the practice of the Greek mariners casting lots who should have the management of the vessel, instead of boldly choosing the best seaman.


Towards the end of April 1842, a notice of the conditions of this public cartoon competition was issued. Prizes of 300, 200,

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and 100 guineas were to be competed for. The leading painters of established reputation were thus placed upon the same level with their pupils and young students who had never painted a picture. The spirit which dictated this can be easily understood. "If it were not for the Royal Academy," said Collins, the painter, to Haydon at this date, "artists would be treated like journeymen : and there was a good deal of truth in the conclusion, though we may venture to doubt the premise. But the curious feature of this projected public cartoon competition was, that the public were to have no voice in the choice of winners. That was to be done for them beforehand by six judges, of whom Sir Robert Peel put himself at the head! So that we had this result in view: a public competition of artists for a public work was to take place, but certain persons, other than the public, were to choose the artists to be appointed to the work before the public were admitted! The fine "Roman hand" again of the greatest Parliamentary Ambiguity that ever lived, is here distinctly visible. One result was, of course, the introduction of canvassing among relatives and friends, and a decision which, under cover of public judgment, was purely patronage without its honor; and, what was of more importance still, without its responsibility.

The moment Haydon read the terms of the notice, he had grave doubts of the propriety of a painter of his established reputation descending into the arena to compete with beardless boys. He did not approve of competition after a certain age; for young men it might do, but selection was the principle for men of established reputation, and they will then form the students. I regret he did not adhere to this view; but, alas, the legal wolf was once more scratching at his door. He said that if he did not compete, his enemies would have cried out, "See, he shrinks from a public trial!" But surely the man who had painted the "Judgment of Solomon," the "Jerusalem," the Lazarus," the "Punch," the "Curtius," and his hundred other works, could have afforded his greatest enemy the enjoyment of that little triumph. No, it was no fear of that nature that prompted him to enter the lists; it was the hope of win


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