Chamberss Edinburgh Journal, No. 444

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Title: Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 444 Volume 18, New Series,
July 3, 1852
Author: Various
Editor: William Chambers Robert Chambers
Release Date: April 8, 2007 [EBook #21010]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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No. 444. NEW SERIES. SATURDAY, JULY 3, 1852. PRICE 1-1/2d.

Returning with the circling year, and advancing pari passu with the
multitude of metropolitan musical attractions, comes the more silent
reign of the picture exhibitions--those great art-gatherings from
thousands of studios, to undergo the ultimate test of public judgment in
the dozen well-filled galleries, which the dilettante, or lounging
Londoner, considers it his recurring annual duty strictly to inspect, and
regularly to gossip in. As places where everybody meets everybody,
and where lazy hours can be conveniently lounged away, the
exhibitions in some sort supply in the afternoon what the Opera and
parties do in the evenings. Nearly all through the summer-day, they are
crowded with a softly-rustling, humming, buzzing crowd, coming and
going perhaps, taking little heed of the nominal attraction, but
sauntering from room to room, or ensconcing themselves in colonies or
clusters of chairs, and lounging vacantly in cool lobbies. At energetic
sight-seers, who are labouring away, catalogue and pencil in hand, they
stare languidly. They really thought everybody had seen the pictures;
they know they have: they have stared at them until they became a bore.
But this sort of people, who only come once, why, of course, they
suppose this sort of people must be allowed to push about as they
please. But it is a confounded nuisance; it is really.
The great army of art amateurs, connoisseurs, and the body who are
regarded in the artistic world with far greater reverence--the noted
picture buyers and dealers, have come and seen, and gone away again;
after having lavishly expended their approbation or disapprobation, and
possibly in a less liberal degree, their cash. After the first week or so,
the galleries begin to clear of gentlemen of the class in question; even
artists have got tired of coming to see their own pictures, particularly if

they be not well hung; and so the exhibition is generally handed over
during the greater part of its duration to the languid far niente elegant
crowd we have seen thronging its corridors. The grand day for the
moneyed amateurs, who come to increase their collections, is, however,
that of the private view. This generally occurs on a Saturday, and the
public is admitted on the following Monday. Within an hour of the
opening on the former day, the rooms are crowded with a multitude of
notabilities. You see that you are in a special class of society, or rather,
in two special classes--literary and artistic on the one hand; wealthy and
socially elevated on the other. The fact is evident in the general mutual
acquaintanceship which prevails, principally within each respective
circle, but by no means exclusively so. First, you are sure to observe a
cluster of those peers and members of parliament who busy themselves
most in social, literary, and artistic questions. Bishops, too, are regular
private-view men; capital judges, moreover, and liberal buyers; and we
seldom miss catching a glimpse of some dozen faces, whose
proprietors are men standing at the very top of our historic, philosophic,
and critical literature, and who move smilingly about, amid the keen
but concealed inspection of the crowd, who pass their names in
whispers from group to group.
But the class of regular picture-buyers is quite sui generis. You may
pitch upon your man in a moment. Ten to one, he is old, and has all the
shrivelled, high-dried appearance of the most far-gone and confirmed
bachelorism. Everything about him looks old and old-fashioned. His
hair is thin and gray, and he shuffles along on a couple of poor old
shanks, which will never look any stouter unless it be under the
influence of a fit of the gout. He wears a white neckcloth, arranged with
the celebrated wisp-tie--shoes a great deal too big for him--and to his
keen, twinkling eyes he applies a pair of heavy horn or silver-set
glasses. These old gentlemen appear to know each other
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