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CHANT ROYAL

were to be “liberal,” and no sympathy for an artist or his family was to influence the selection or the purchase of works, which were to be acquired solely on the ground of intrinsic merit. No commission or orders might be given: the works must be finished before purchase. Conditions were made as to the exhibition of the works, in the confident expectation that as the intention of the testator was to form and establish a “public collection of British Fine Art in Painting and Sculpture,” the government or the country would provide a suitable gallery for their display; and an annual sum of £300 and £50 was to be paid to the president of the Royal Academy and the secretary respectively, for the discharge of their duties in carrying out the provisions of the will.

Lady Chantrey died in 1875, and two years later the fund became available for the purchase of paintings and sculptures. The capital sum available amounted to £105,000 in 3% Consols, which (since reduced to 2½%) produces an available annual income varying from £2500 to £2100. Galleries in the Victoria and Albert Museum at South Kensington were at first adopted as the depository of the works acquired, until in 1898 the Royal Academy arranged with the treasury, on behalf of the government, for the transference of the collection to the National Gallery of British Art, which had been erected by Sir Henry Tate at Millbank. It was agreed that the “Tate Gallery” should be its future home, and that “no power of selection or elimination is claimed on behalf of the trustees and director of the National Gallery” (Treasury Letter, 18054-98, 7th December 1898) in respect of the pictures and sculptures which were then to be handed over and which should, from time to time, be sent to augment the collection. Inasmuch as it was felt that the provision that all works must be complete to be eligible for purchase militated against the most advantageous disposition of the fund in respect of sculpture, in the case of wax models or plaster casts before being converted into marble or bronze, it was sought in the action of Sir F. Leighton v. Hughes (tried by Mr Justice North, judgment May 7th, 1888, and in the court of appeal, before the master of the rolls, Lord Justice Cotton, and Lord Justice Fry, judgment June 4th, 1889—the master of the rolls dissenting) to allow of sculptors being commissioned to complete in bronze or marble a work executed in wax or plaster, such “completion” being more or less a mechanical process. The attempt, however, was abortive.

A growing discontent with the interpretation put by the Royal Academy upon the terms of the will as shown in the works acquired began to find expression more than usually forcible and lively in the press during the year 1903, and a debate raised in the House of Lords by the earl of Lytton led to the appointment of a select committee of the House of Lords, which sat from June to August 1904. The committee consisted of the earls of Carlisle, Lytton, and Crewe, and Lords Windsor, Ribblesdale, Newton, and Killanin, and the witnesses represented the Royal Academy and representative art institutions and art critics. The report (ordered to be printed on the 8th of August 1904) made certain recommendations with a view to the prevention of certain former errors of administration held to have been sustained, but dismissed other charges against the Academy. In reply thereto a memorandum was issued by the Royal Academy (February 1905, ordered to be printed on the 7th of August 1905—Paper 166) disagreeing with certain recommendations, but allowing others, either intact or in a modified form.

Up to 1905 inclusive 203 works had been bought—all except two from living painters—at a cost of nearly £68,000. Of these, 175 were in oil-colours, 12 in water-colours, and 16 sculptures (10 in bronze and 6 marble).

See The Administration of the Chantrey Bequest, by D. S. MacColl (16mo, London, 1904), a highly controversial publication by the leading assailant of the Royal Academy: Chantrey and His Bequest, by Arthur Fish, a complete illustrated record of the purchases, &c. (London, 1904); The Royal Academy, its Uses and Abuses, by H. J. Laidlay (London, 1898), controversial; Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on the Chantrey Trust; together with the Proceedings of the Committee, Minutes of Evidence and Appendix (Wyman & Sons, 1904), and Index (separate publication, 1904).


CHANT ROYAL, one of the fixed forms of verse invented by the ingenuity of the poets of medieval France. It is composed of five strophes, identical in arrangement, of eleven verses each, and of an envoi of five verses. All the strophes are written on the five rhymes exhibited in the first strophe, the entire poem, therefore, consisting of sixty lines in the course of which five rhymes are repeated. It has been conjectured that the chant royal is an extended ballade, or rather a ballade conceived upon a larger scale; but which form preceded the other appears to be uncertain. On this point Henri de Croï, who wrote about these forms of verse in his Art et science de rhétorique (1493), throws no light. He dwells, however, on the great dignity of what he calls the “Champt Royal,” and says that those who defy with success the ardour of its rules deserve crowns and garlands for their pains. Étienne Pasquier (1529–1615) points out the fact that the Chant Royal, by its length and the rigidity of its structure, is better fitted than the ballade for solemn and pompous themes. In Old French, the most admired chants royal are those of Clement Marot; his Chant royal chrestien, with its refrain

“Santé au corps, et Paradis à l’âme,”

was celebrated. Théodore de Banville defines the chant royal as essentially belonging to ages of faith, when its subjects could be either the exploits of a hero of royal race or the processional splendours of religion. La Fontaine was the latest of the French poets to attempt the chant royal, until it was resuscitated in modern times.

This species of poem was unknown in English medieval literature and was only introduced into Great Britain in the last quarter of the 19th century. The earliest chant royal in English was that published by Edmund Gosse in 1877; it is here given to exemplify the structure and rhyme-arrangement of the form:—

The Praise of Dionysus

“Behold, above the mountains there is light,
A streak of gold, a line of gathering fire,
And the dim East hath suddenly grown bright
With pale aerial flame, that drives up higher
The lurid mists which all the night long were
Breasting the dark ravines and coverts bare;
Behold, behold! the granite gates unclose,
And down the vales a lyric people flows,
Who dance to music, and in dancing fling
Their frantic robes to every wind that blows,
And deathless praises to the Vine-God sing.

Nearer they press, and nearer still in sight,
Still dancing blithely in a seemly choir;
Tossing on high the symbol of their rite,
The cone-tipp'd thyrsus of a god’s desire;
Nearer they come, tall damsels flushed and fair,
With ivy circling their abundant hair,
Onward, with even pace, in stately rows,
With eye that flashes, and with cheek that glows,
And all the while their tribute-songs they bring,
And newer glories of the past disclose
And deathless praises to the Vine-God sing.

The pure luxuriance of their limbs is white,
And flashes clearer as they draw the nigher,
Bathed in an air of infinite delight,
Smooth without wound of thorn, or fleck of mire,
Borne up by song as by a trumpet’s blare,
Leading the van to conquest, on they fare,
Fearless and bold, whoever comes or goes,
These shining cohorts of Bacchantes close,
Shouting and shouting till the mountains ring,
And forests grim forget their ancient woes,
And deathless praises to the Vine-God sing.

And youths there are for whom full many a night
Brought dreams of bliss, vague dreams that haunt and tire
Who rose in their own ecstasy bedight,
And wandered forth through many a scourging briar,
And waited shivering in the icy air,
And wrapped the leopard-skin about them there,
Knowing for all the bitter air that froze,
The time must come, that every poet knows,
When he shall rise and feel himself a king,
And follow, follow where the ivy grows,
And deathless praises to the Vine-God sing.