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in which it may be involved; and if he can understand that he entertains incorrect notions on the subject, he will be found by no means impervious to conviction.
Upon the authority of, and in accordance with the example of a painter of the highest distinction in his profession, a claim has lately been advanced, by certain artists, to a copyright in all the pictures they have ever painted, that have not been purchased with a specific understanding to the contrary; although the parties who may desire to engrave them, should have received the full permission of the proprietors so to do.
The consent to such an arrangement, involves, in the first instance, the whole weight of an obligation to the possessor of the picture; and in the next, a pecuniary sacrifice, in some instances far beyond the value of an advantage so entirely collateral, to the artist; although the painting which is the subject of the demand, may have been executed either by commission for the owner, or purchased by him, without the slightest reservation, at some public exhibition for the sale of works of art. Indeed, a gentleman cannot, if this right be recognized, lend even the portrait of a member of his own family for the purpose of an Annual, until the artist has
settled the remuneration to which his approbation of the proceeding is considered to entitle him : nay, the principle is carried to so great an extent, that an individual, giving a liberal price for a picture, without any reservation whatever, is afterwards liable to be called upon for any additional sum the artist may think proper to name as his own estimate of the value of the copyright, before he can proceed to apply it to the very purpose for which he may have purchased it. The case is by no means a suppositious one. It is but justice, however, to the great body of British artists to mention, that at present this claim is asserted only by a few of its members; and that even of that few, some support it rather from an idea that they are protecting the interests of their art, than from any feeling of a mercenary or illiberal character.
The Editor of “The Literary Souvenir" has alluded to this demand, on the present occasion, simply with a view to bring its fairness and propriety to an issue, at once, by ascertaining the general opinion upon the subject. It is either equitable or it is not : that there is no legal foundation for the claim, is beyond a doubt. If equitable, and some sort of moderation be not observed by those by whom the privilege is to be exercised, it will soon go far to
destroy a class of works, which, it may be confidently affirmed, has been of essential benefit to British artists. As, however, many of their most distinguished patrons have expressed their determination to resist the claim thus assumed over the pictures in their several collections, the ultimate interests, if not the dignity, of modern art appear likely to be compromised, should the demand be any longer persisted in.
Having thus stated the case with the temper and moderation with which questions of this kind ought always to be discussed, the Editor will now turn to the more agreeable task of acknowledging his obligations to those individuals to whom he stands indebted for the loan of several of the paintings engraved for the present volume.
For the portrait of Viscountess Belgrave, he is indebted to the kindness of the Marquis of Stafford.
The splendid picture of Jacob's Dream, is from the collection of the Earl of Egremont, of whose magnificent gallery at Petworth it forms one of the most striking and appropriate ornaments.
The portrait of Mrs. Siddons, in the character of Lady Macbeth, one of the finest productions of the pencil of the lamented G. H. Harlowe, is from the collection of the late W. Leader, Esq., of Putney
Hill. As a slight engraving from a chalk drawing by Harlowe, of Mrs. Siddons in a different scene of the tragedy, has already been published, it may be proper, to prevent the two prints from being confounded, to mention that the picture from which the frontispiece to this volume has been copied, is an oil-painting, the size of life, and has never before been engraved.
The Brigands' Cave, the principal figure in which is an actual portrait of the wife of a celebrated brigand of Sonnini, was obligingly lent me by the proprietor, T. Erskine, Esq.
The pictures from which the remaining engravings have been executed, were all (with one exception) purchased expressly for the work; at a cost as large as that of the whole series of engravings.
The literary contents of the following pages, will be found to comprise a variety of contributions from pens not hitherto engaged in publications of this description; but although the Editor is enabled to boast of the avowed assistance of a great number of the most distinguished writers of the day, he has continued to be influenced, less by the importance of the name, than the intrinsic merit of the production. The fallacy of endeavouring to produce an impression upon the public mind, by means of mere titles (whether of literary or fashionable notoriety), has been made sufficiently manifest to deprive it of even its mercantile utility for the future.
It is, perhaps, scarcely necessary to offer an apology for having affixed Lord Byron's exquisite address to Ianthe, to the “Childe Harold and Ianthe" of Mr. Westall. The Editor regrets that he is restrained by feelings of delicacy towards the living, from mentioning circumstances connected with the history of this illustration, which would have greatly enhanced its interest to the public. It may, however, be permitted to him to state, that a picture of Lord Byron and the young lady to whom Childe Harold was inscribed, was commenced by Mr. Westall during his Lordship’s lifetime ; although, in consequence of the interference of the lady's family, it has never been completed.
58, Torrington Square,
Sept. 25, 1829.