Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead. Originally published by Mackenzie and Dent, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827.
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INSTITUTIONS FOR THE FINE ARTS, AMUSEMENT, &C.
NORTHUMBERLAND INSTITUTION FOR PROMOTING THE FINE ARTS IN NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE
MUSIC and Painting possess the empire of the imagination: they fill us with pleasure, move us to pity, or inspire us with elevated sentiments. Yet men seldom reflect on the practical advantages derived from cultivating the taste. In the painting department of the Fine Arts, Newcastle certainly stands unrivalled amongst the provincial towns in Great Britain; (fn. 1) but, notwithstanding the many splendid and delightful specimens of genius conceived and executed by her native or adopted artists, she has been inexcusably backward in forming a proper establishment for fostering and creating talent. No gallery or exhibition-room has been provided for shewing either the productions of provincial talent, or the works of eminent artists. Accordingly, no pa-noramas have been exhibited in Newcastle for many years, nor could Haydon procure a place for shewing his famous picture of "Christ entering into Jerusalem." At length, Mr. T. M. Richardson fitted up the rooms at No. 3, Brunswick Place, for the private exhibition of his own paintings; but his anxiety for the general advance-ment of his art induced him to resign this project in favour of a public exhibition. This gave rise to the "Northumberland Institution for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in the North of England." The first exhibition was opened on September 23, 1822. The Patrons of this Institution are, The Marquis of Londonderry; Earl Grey; the Bishop of Durham; Lord Ravenswoth; Earl Tankerville; the Hon. H. T. Liddell, M. P.; Sir M. W. Ridley, M. P, Sir C. Loraine, and Sir J. Swinburn, Barts.; M. Bell, Esq. M. P.; C. Ellison, Esq. M. P.; J. G. Lambton, Esq. M. P.; W. Ord, Esq. M. P.; Robert Bell, C. W. Bigge, William Clark, M. E. Davidson, H. Hew-itson, R. Pearson, and J. Trevelyan, Esqrs.; Major Anderson; and the Revds. M. N. Darnell and C. Thorp. The President, Edward Swinburn, Esq.; Treasurer, T. M. Richardson; Secretary, H. P. Parker; and a committee, consisting of twenty artists and connoisseurs.
This Institution has been opened every year since its commencement, and has contained many local productions of the pencil that might challenge approbation amid the happiest efforts of metropolitan genius. The success of this experiment naturally excited a wish for apartments more adapted for the purpose, and for such improved arrangements as might embrace the interests of all parties, give a new stimulus to genius, and, in some degree, reward pre-eminent merit.
This desideratum will probably soon be supplied, as the fine arts are, in this district, attracting a degree of notice unknown in former times. Encouraged by this feeling, it is proposed to erect commodious exhibition-rooms in Blackett Street, adjoining to the Joiners' Hall, with an ornamental stone front, having two wings, each of which may be inhabited by an artist. The mayor and common council, who have lately shewn a laudable desire to encourage the arts, have offered for £20 the ground where the pant now stands, and which it is proposed to arch over, and leave open towards High Friar Street. The intended edifice has been planned by that spirited builder, Mr. Grainger, and has been approved of by Messrs. Richardson and Parker. The plan on which this building is to be erected will, it is understood, be liberal and unexceptionable. A subscriber of one share of £20 will be entitled to three per cent. and have free admission to all exhibitions. A subscriber for more than one share to have free admission for himself, and one friend for each share above the first. It is, however, to be apprehended, that when interest, attendance, repairs, taxes, and other expenses, are paid, little will remain to purchase pictures, or to give prizes as a stimulus to the advancement of the art. Something important might be effected, were the many noble and opulent patrons of the Northumberland Institution, the corporation, and the admirers of the fine arts generally in the north of England, to give liberal donations towards this contemplated public establishment. (fn. 2)