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Banks, Joseph — How to cite. He was honored for his remarkable achievements in an era of enlightened human endeavor with his: knighthood ; membership of the Privy Council ; and his unmatched 4-decade term as President of the Royal Society — Banks galvanized the great scientific minds of his time, This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Anderson, R. Joseph Banks and the british museum, the world of collecting, — Journal of the History of Collections , 20 , — CrossRef Google Scholar. Paradoxically, despite its announced commitment to non-intervention and personal freedom, the emerging liberal state generated huge amounts of documentation about society and its individual members—tax records, parochial and civil records, the national census from —which digitilization has made more readily available than ever before, allowing this generation of artists to be documented as never previously.
The production of artistic identities through these records is not unrelated to changes in artistic identity itself over the same timeframe. One way of realizing this might be to consider the period outlined above—c. The challenge is thinking of these two frameworks not in sequential or spatially differentiated ways, but as simultaneous and identical.
If this was a moment of unprecedented state investment in the arts from the Royal Academy through to the Schools of Design and government scrutiny notably with the Select Committees , it simultaneously saw the emergence of artistic identities expressing the values of personal freedom, freedom from regulation, and even active opposition to the state. In fact, the purpose of this commentary, and the larger project it arises from, 12 is rather to trouble our relationship with that past. Turner—famously the son of a lowly London barber—pre-eminently.
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The arrival at the Museum of the Townley marbles, together with the development of the prints and drawings collection and its installation in new, secure rooms in the same wing, fundamentally changed the character of the institution. But while the significance of the opening of the Townley Gallery in the history of the British Museum is clear, the opening of the collection to students has barely been noticed in the art-historical literature. The register has been overlooked almost entirely, and the relevance of this development in student access may not even be immediately obvious.
Collection of the British Museum. Figure 1. Attributed to Joseph Nollekens, The Discobolus , —, drawing, 48 x 35 cm. Townley had hoped for a separate gallery to be erected to house the collection, but his executors, his brother Edward Townley Standish and uncle John Townley were unable to agree a plan. With the erection of a new gallery space for the collection underway, the Museum considered how special access might be given to artists.
That the question was posed at all should be an indication of how far the realm of cultural consumption and production was being folded in to the emerging liberal state at this juncture. William Skelton, Charles Townley's visiting card , —, etching, 65 x 96 cm. Figure 3. With the Gallery still under construction, the Sub-Committee was not obliged to move quickly, and it proved to be a protracted and unexpectedly fractious affair.
Much discussion took place. Eight of the twelve students registered on 11 November were current Academy students; this proportion of Academy students to others continues throughout the record. But on the same day Planta noted to the standing committee. The matter was referred on to the general meeting. The same pattern was apparent in subsequent years.
Twenty-five students were registered in and again in , before numbers dropped to twelve in , eight in , picking up with nineteen in , and dropping to nine in The galleries the students gained access to comprised a sequence of rooms within the new wing added to accommodate the growing collection of sculptural antiquities, notably the Egyptian material taken from the French at Alexandria in The Egyptian antiquities dominated the galleries in terms of sheer size, although the visual centrepiece, whether viewed from the Egyptian hall or through the extended enfilade of rooms II—V where the Townley marbles were displayed, was the Discobolus fig.
This changed when, in , the Elgin marbles were put on display at Montagu House in spacious, if warehouse-like, temporary rooms newly annexed to the Townley Gallery fig. The register terminates at this point, although the volume continued to be used to record students and artists admitted to the prints and drawings room upstairs from the Townley Gallery from through to the s. Some form of register must have been maintained, but appears not to have survived, and evidence of student attendance after is largely a matter of anecdotal record. George Scharf, View of the Townley Gallery , , watercolour, Figure The material record of student activity in the Townley Gallery, in the form of images which seem definitely to derive from this special access to the Museum, is extremely scarce.
Turner had apparently attended the Plaster Academy over one hundred and thirty times up to the point he became an ARA, in Anonymous, Marble figure of Actaeon attacked by his hounds , Roman 2nd Century, marble, 0.
Collection of the British Museum , This takes us to the heart of the question about the relationship between art education and the state. This was, in fact, a question raised at the time. Notably, this summary gives the clear impression that the antiques were being opened to the students of the Royal Academy; such is, quite reasonably, presumed by Derek Cash in his recent, careful commentary on admission procedures at the Museum. According to the present practice, each student has leave to exhibit his finished drawing, from any article in the Gallery, for one week after its completion.
Thus stated, the Museum appeared to be fulfilling its public duty in providing free access to appropriately qualified students.
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The bare figures might seem to indicate a steady rise in student interest, which could be taken as a marker of quantitative success. As respects the Department of Antiquities, the students admitted to draw were in less than twenty; in two hundred and twenty-three were admitted.
What I test in the remainder of this essay is how these statements stand up to the more individualized account of student activity represented in the biographical record. Among these we could count Henry Monro, Samuel F. Of the one hundred and sixty-five individuals named in the register, it has proved possible to establish biographical profiles for the majority: details are most lacking for about twenty-four of the attending students, although in most of those cases we can conjecture at least some biographical context. Whether they were pursuing their private studies or undertaking more specific professional tasks is not always clear.
There are, certainly, a few cases where the latter appears to be the case. When William Henry Hunt was admitted it was explicitly for the purpose of preparing drawings for a publication; both William Skelton and John Samuel Agar were probably admitted in connection with his ongoing work engraving from sculptures at the Museum. There are at least fifteen male individuals who appear to come from backgrounds sufficiently socially elevated or affluent enough to suggest they were taking an amateur interest rather than pursuing serious studies.
All were admitted without special comment or notice despite the issues of propriety around the drawing of even the sculptured nude figure by female artists which crops up in contemporary commentaries. We have, surely, barely begun to consider the family as the context in which artists are made as much as, if not more than, the studio and academy.
Nor is it straightforward to assume that those individuals who had enrolled as Academy students also had expectations about the professional pursuit of the art. Among the Academy students who attended, a large proportion, including a majority of the most assiduous, were from polite social backgrounds, with fathers in the professions, or who were office-holders or from the landowning classes, including Henry Monro, John Penwarne, Richard Cook, William Drury Shaw, Charles Lock Eastlake, Henry Perronet Briggs, Alexander Huey, Thomas Cooley, Samuel F.
In many cases their brothers, who shared the same upbringing, became doctors or lawyers, property-owners or merchants. A number of individual students gave up the practice of the art—Thomas Christmas became a landowner in Willisden; Richard Cook was able to retire, wealthy; Seymour Kirkup languished in Rome dabbling in the arts; William Brockedon became more engaged as an inventor and traveller; while others were never really obliged to draw an income from their practice but pursued art as a pastime.
It remains the case that there was a high level of occupational inheritance; perhaps thirty-eight of the students 23 percent had fathers who were architects, engravers or artists in painting or sculpture. That his brother became quite prominent as a physician suggests that this was a quite emphatically middle-class family setting. There are several points to derive from this information, even as lightly sketched as it necessarily is here.
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Firstly, it is noteworthy that while female students were a minority they were a definite presence; in this regard, the British Museum was like other spaces of artistic study, notably the painting school at the British Institution. The circumstances which led to their gaining access to the London art world are, therefore, noteworthy, as a third and most important point would be to emphasize how emphatically metropolitan, polite, and middle-class was the British Museum as a site of artistic education.
The Townley Gallery on student days was a place where working artists, students, amateurs, and patrons mingled. When it does appear—most strikingly with the grim life-stories of the siblings Jabez and Sarah Newell—they are among the minority of students from backgrounds neither closely connected with the art world, nor comfortably middle-class or genteel. The examples of stellar social ascent and achievement on the basis of talent alone are real; but they are the exceptions rather than representative. The relative weight of personal and Academic connection is exposed in the record of the provision of references for students.
Of the forty-three referees recorded between and , less than half nineteen were Academicians. One of those was Henry Fuseli, who as Keeper of the Academy Schools through this period must have provided references as part of his duties, and accordingly provided the second largest number of recommendations nineteen; all but one students at the RA.
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The lead in providing references was taken by William Alexander, artist and keeper of prints and drawings twenty-two; mainly but not exclusively students. Overall, officers and Trustees were most active in admitting students. But the same point applies to the artists, most of whom only ever recommended one student, often known personally to them already: David Wilkie recommended his assistant, John Zephaniah Bell; George Dawe provided a reference for his own son; Thomas Lawrence for his pupil William Etty; Thomas Phillips and John Flaxman, the relatives of fellow Academicians; Thomas Stothard, the son of a neighbour Kempe.
If the admission procedure could be interpreted as an opportunity for the Academy to assert a corporate, professionalized identity, based purely on merit, we can nonetheless detect underlying patterns of kinship, personal, social, and geographical affiliation. Simply stated, even if study at the Museum was free and freely available, any given student would still need to access a letter of reference and the time to go to the Museum as well as the material means to acquire the portfolio, paper, and chalks anticipated by the Trustees.
The opening hours for students militated against anyone attending who had to use these daylight hours for work, a point which was made quite often with reference to the Reading Room through this period. Their peers at the Academy who were obliged to work during the day to make a living, or who were serving apprenticeships, would simply not be able to make the hours available at the Museum.
His means of living and leave Him with a feeling of independence.