William Beckford [1830]

William was strongly of opinion that the collection should be purchased for the nation, and lamented that, with the exception of a handful of people, there was in England no sound taste for the arts. “Collections are made from ostentation by people of wealth, who do not know a good from a bad picture. The government is not sensible of the value of art to the nation. It will lavish money upon anything else, but it grudges money for the arts. A minister picks a committee of taste out of the House of Commons, as he would a committee for any other purpose, and his committee does nothing but blunder. There must be a feeling for art–mere admiration won’t do–people admire, and affect to be struck with works of art, because others affect the same thing, just as an opera audience cries, ‘Wonderful!’ at a performance of which is does not comprehend a syllable. The beauty of art must be inwardly felt–the mind in it must be read, interpreted. . . A just taste for art is a cultivated taste; there is no royal road to it, as too many think there is.”–The Life and Letters of William Beckford, of Fonthill

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