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An essay by George Augustus Moore

Mr. Burne-Jones And The Academy

Title:     Mr. Burne-Jones And The Academy
Author: George Augustus Moore [More Titles by Moore]

To the Editor of "The Speaker".

SIR,--Your art critic "G. M." is in error on a matter of fact, and as everybody knows the relationship between fact and theory, I am afraid his little error vitiates the argument he propounds with so much vigour. It was _after_, and not before, his election as an Associate that Mr. Burne-Jones made his solitary appearance as an exhibitor at the Royal Academy.--Yours truly, etc.,

R. I.

Sir,-It has always been my rule not to enter into argument with my critics, but in the instance of "R. I." I find myself obliged to break my rule. "R. I." thinks that the mistake I slipped into regarding Mr. Burne-Jones's election as an Associate vitiates the argument which he says I propound with vigour. I, on the contrary, think that the fact that Mr. Burne-Jones was elected as an Associate before he had exhibited in the Royal Academy advances my argument. Being in doubt as to the particular fact, I unconsciously imagined the general fact, and when man's imagination intervenes it is always to soften, to attenuate crudities which only nature is capable of.

For twenty years, possibly for more, Mr. Burne-Jones was a resolute opponent of the Royal Academy, as resolute, though not so truculent, an opponent as Mr. Whistler. When he became a popular painter Mr. Agnew gave him a commission of fifteen thousand pounds--the largest, I believe, ever given--to paint four pictures, the "Briar Rose" series. Some time after--before he has exhibited in the Academy--Mr. Jones is elected as an Associate. The Academicians cannot plead that their eyes were suddenly opened to his genius. If this miracle had happened they would not have left him an Associate, but would have on the first vacancy elected him a full Academician. How often have they passed him over? Is Mr. Jones the only instance of a man being elected to the Academy who had never exhibited there? Perhaps "R. I." will tell us. I do not know, and have not time to hunt up records.

G. M.

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George Moore's essay: Mr. Burne-Jones And The Academy