"Fine Arts: Fine Art Gossip." Athenaeum 1555 (15 Aug. 1857): 1037.

A new Society for the revival of Art in our gross material age is being organized, under the title of "The Mediæval Society." The object of the Society--as set forth by the projectors--"is to be the collection of copies of works of Art of all kinds executed during the Middle Ages, but especially of those executed before the end of the thirteenth century; and this not as counteracting the independent influence of our own time upon it's own Art, but with the view of promoting the study of the mediæval period as the highest and purest of former times." The collection is to consist of the following--"a. Casts of sculpture--foliage, figures, subjects--especially of the French and Italian schools. b. Copies or tracings of early frescoes and of distemper and other wall paintings. c. Copies and casts of works in metal. d. Rubbings of brasses and copies or tracings of stained glass. e. Notes of schemes of decoration in sculpture, painting, and glass, carried out in the Middle Ages, with a view to leading to the more careful treatment of its story in modern sculpture, &c. f. Books bearing upon the various branches of Art and upon costume, &c. g. Photographs, and especially of any sculpture threatened with restoration. h. A wardrobe of costumes, or authenticated reproductions of said costumes, for the use of painters. i. Specimens of Eastern textile fabrics, and of Ceramic Art." The Committee already named consists of Messrs. G. F. Bodley, F. Madox Brown, W. Burges, J. R. Clayton, W. Holman Hunt, W. Morris, C. K. Patmore, R. P. Pullan, D. G. Rossetti, W. M. Rossetti, John Ruskin, Rev. J. F. Russell, W. B. Scott, J. P. Seddon, G. E. Street, Tom Taylor, W. White, B. Woodward, with Mr. F. Warren, as one of the honorary secretaries, and Mr. G. E. Street as treasurer. Some of the rules are striking and original. For example: "The Committee to be prohibited from receiving any ancient objects of Art taken from their proper and original position, with a view to forming a collection of antiquities. The collection of illuminated MSS., pictures, ivories, coins, or seals, vestments, furniture, or moveables, would not be open to this objection, but portions of ancient sculpture, painting on walls, or the like, to be scrupulously rejected, as the object of the Society is in no sense antiquarian, and one of its leading principles will always be the preservation of ancient Art with the most jealous care in its original locality." This rule, if strictly carried out by a body having power to enforce its ideas, would have left the Elgin marbles to the mercies of time, accident, and the Arnauts. Besides, where lies the distinction between a picture and a statue? Pictures--at least the great Italian pictures--were painted for certain localities as often as statues were made for pre-determined sites. If a Raphael may be brought to England--without offence to the Mediæval Society--why not a Phidias?

This document was scanned/transcribed from the original source.

Copyright © 2000 Thomas J. Tobin.

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