If it is true that no one can form true ideas in his own mind upon any subject until he has acquired the art of expressing them accurately in language, it is equally true that no one can take in an accurate impression of the things he sees in the world until he has acquired the power of drawing them correctly (Pitt Rivers 1884: 8).

It is clear that Pitt-Rivers had a strong aesthetic taste. His art collection and his other collections prove that. In addition, he seems to have been a strong believer in the positive values of being a 'good artist'. These views are most strongly outlined in his address in 1884, extracts from which are given below.

Pitt-Rivers' address delivered at the annual meeting of the Dorchester School of Art, February 1884

Plate IV, 'The Evolution of Culture'.

In accepting the invitation with which I have been honoured to address you this evening on the subject of Art, I feel that the difficulty of my position arises mainly from the fact that I am not an artist. Of what use, it may perhaps be asked, are Schools of Art if those who study in them are to be lectured by people who have not themselves acquired the first rudiments of technical skill. This consideration would have deterred me from placing myself in what would be a false position if Art were a simple homogeneous trade for which nothing but a special training was requisite. The elements, on the contrary, are so various and complex that few can attain proficiency in all of them, and the qualities which make up excellence are capable of separate treatment, and may be cultivated in other branches of industry without being applied to the production of a work of Art. The history of Art, moreover, is common property, and the origins and early phases of it may perhaps be better dealt with by those who have made a study of the arts of life in general rather than of the fine arts in particular. It is to this part of the subject that I purpose to devote the remarks which I shall make on the present occasion. It may be useful, therefore, to commence what I have to say by an attempt to classify the various agencies which have to be considered in treating of the philosophy of Art. Sir Frederick Leighton in his excellent address to the students of the Royal Academy on Art in relation to Time, Place, and Race, has touched upon this subject in a way that leaves little to be desired. If my classification differs in any way from his, it is because it is impossible for me to see this subject from the pinnacle that he stands upon. I can only deal with it as an outsider from an external rather than an internal stand-point. How, then, shall we attempt to decompose the elements of Art in such a way as to be able to speak to each branch separately? Setting aside ideas of relative importance in the order of precedence, we may first speak of the effects of climate. It requires no special acumen to observe that climate plays a great part in influencing the Art of a country. No one can doubt that the sombre hues of our pictures simply reflect the dulness [sic] of our atmosphere. Who can expect that the gay bright colours of southern painters should be begotten of a November day in the suburbs of London? And in the same way the effect of the sunlight or the absence of it has had a marked effect on architecture and on everything constructed in the round. The same lines and niches which in Italy would produce a well defined shadow in England would produce nothing but a blur. Then, again, the prevalence of heat or cold has determined the form which we give to our buildings, and the proverbial comfort of an English dwelling has been with us a matter of necessity. The Gothic architecture of the North and the classical style of southern Europe have been as much a result of climate as of inheritance, and have been caused by the necessity of obtaining air, shade, or shelter, as the case may be. The high pointed roof, which in England is necessary to divide the waters of our almost incessant deluge, as you go southwards in Europe, becomes flatter and flatter, and in the south of Italy and Africa is entirely replaced by a flat roof. It would be more proper perhaps to say that the influence of climate has shewn itself more in regulating the survival of certain styles according to their fitness than in producing them. Their origin has been caused by the succession of ideas in the human mind and their distribution has resulted from hereditary transmission. Climate, when unassisted by geographical boundaries, has not always had the effect of checking the growth of unsuitable forms, and those who in the north of France or parts of Scandinavia have sat shivering on a frosty day with the wind rushing through the lofty doorway or in the low casemented window along the stone uncarpeted floor, and out at the open fireplace, must often have wished that the influence of climate had been greater, and that the beauties of an Italian style of architecture had been confined more closely to the region which gave it birth. We may next consider how far social influences—in which we may include religions—have modified the art of a country. There can be no doubt that Art has grown up pari passu with the advance of civilisation, and that an inter-dependence has existed between it and other branches of human culture. To take a modern instance, it seems certain that the preference shewn by the French in our own time for sensational and ghastly subjects has been caused by the fearful wars and revolutions which that country has undergone as compared to the smoother course which progress has followed in England, and, if the subjects selected by our artists are often tame and wanting in interest, we may console ourselves with the reflection that it is to the blessings of peace and order that these characteristics are in a great measure due. It has been said that the country is happy which has no history, and certainly happy is the condition of society in which Art has not been stimulated by tragic events. The excellence obtained by the ancient Greeks in sculpture arose mainly from the prominence given by them to athletic sports. In like manner, the stiff forms of Egyptian art resulted from the dominion of the priesthood, which left little scope for individual talent and reduced all pictorial representation to a dead level of uniformity. It was not until Christianity introduced a religion of the feelings that a wide field was opened for the artist in the expression of the higher emotions. Perhaps the truth of this observation cannot be better shown than by comparing the characteristic change which took place in representations of the Emblem of Maternity which has formed part of the symbolism of many religions. I have brought here a small Egyptian figure of Isis nursing Horus cast in bronze with all the expressionless formality of the Egyptian style, and by the side of it I have exhibited a small terra cotta figure also from Egypt representing the same subject, which I have good authority for attributing to the first or second century of our era. It would perhaps be dangerous to speak with too much confidence as to the exact religious significance of this little figure in the transition between Paganism and Christianity. It is undoubtedly based upon the earlier form of the emblem, but its Christian character, rude as the execution is, is shewn by the tender expression of the mother bending over her child. It is probably the earliest example of the beautiful symbol of motherly affection of the Virgin and child, which has played so prominent a part in Christian worship and which in the Romish church has been emphasised to the extent in some cases of almost supplanting the original conception of a Saviour of mankind. This rise in the expression of the feelings appears to me to be the chief characteristic of the influence which Christianity exercised upon Art in Europe. Whatever may be said of modern Art aesthetically there can be no doubt that in the power of depicting the higher emotions it will bear favourable comparison with any of the works of Antiquity. A comparison with Japanese Art will confirm this view. Infinitely our superiors in the use of colours to the extent of placing us in the position of being their pupils, admirable as they are in the execution of all they undertake in the art of carving, yet with all their power of representing the baser emotions of humanity and of emphasising and caricaturing the expressions of fear, hatred, cunning and so forth, amongst the thousands of Japanese carvings and pictures with which this country has been flooded of late years, it is impossible to point out a single example of a human countenance which approaches dignity or gives expression to any of the higher sentiments. And the same observations will apply equally to all Oriental Art. Far more enduring, in my opinion, than any dogma is the testimony which Art thus bears to the elevating influence of those virtues which Christianity has inculcated, combined with the sense of duty to the commonwealth which we learnt from the Romans. Under this head should also be taken into account the effect which laws and customs and institutions, and the political questions of the day are likely to have upon Art. On this subject, while party feeling runs so high, it would be useless to expect unbiased judgment to be formed. Those who are Conservative in their tendencies will point to the influence which wealth and refinement have always exercised in fostering Art. Men of Liberal opinions will hold that this, like all other branches of human industry, will thrive best under those institutions which leave to each individual the largest amount of liberty that is consistent with the liberty of all. On the other hand the Democratic Socialist will expatiate on the effect which greed of gain has had in debasing Art, and because wealth and freedom are capable of abuse, he will propose the drastic remedy of destroying both, reducing society to its primitive elements, and abolishing under the designation of "unearned increment" all the accumulated wealth, knowledge, and experience which have been bequeathed to us by our forefathers. Thus, when every man tills his own plot of land and produces nothing but what is required for his immediate use, it may be presumed that every man will paint his own pictures. I have exhibited here this evening a series of drawings of men and animals made by savages and by untaught agricultural labourers of our own race, which I have brought here for the purpose of illustrating the remarks which I shall have to make further on upon the first commencement of Art, but they will suffice equally well to explain the condition into which Art will probably relapse under the benign rule of a democracy. Whether mankind will be happier or otherwise in such an Elysium may be a matter of opinion. One blessing may, however, at last be anticipated—Nature's nobleman will certainly have eschewed the pomps and vanities of this life before he is reduced to having his portrait taken gratis in the style of these drawings. Much might be said on the subject of the mechanical part of drawing if time permitted, and the influence which the prevalence of suitable materials has had in promoting or retarding art, on the various minerals available for pigments, and on the materials obtainable for artists to work upon. Thus, to give only a single example, no one who has travelled to Sweden and other countries where suitable timber is abundant for the construction of buildings can have failed to observe the effect which it has had in retarding the growth of architecture, and on the other hand the prevalence of suitable stone in other places has given a great impulse to Art. A remarkable example of this occurs in the island of Malta, where the stone, little harder than chalk when first excavated, has facilitated the construction of beautiful buildings to such an extent that every little village, which in this country would consist of small cottages, is adorned with imposing mansions, such as in England we look for only in our larger towns, and the contrast between the squalor of the insides of these habitations and the splendour of their exteriors is remarkable. We may now turn to the consideration of Art in its racial aspects. That temperament has much to do with the development of the higher phases of Art I have little doubt, but it would be wrong to assume that because Art has thriven amongst some races more than others, the cultivation or the neglect of it ought on that account to be attributed to racial causes. We must endeavour to ascertain to what extent the other elements which make up excellence in Art have been present or absent in the community before we are in the position to determine how far the result can be attributed to race. My impression is that the general tendency is to overrate the influence of race in the progress of civilisation and to neglect the other causes which I have spoken of. If we trace the geographical spread of civilisation from its first beginnings, whether in Egypt or in the East, and observe the lines on which it has migrated in its continuous development we shall find that it passes the racial boundaries laid down on the ethnological map in such a way as to discountenance the idea of a preponderating influence of congenital racial peculiarities. If we find that in the lines of its migrations it has passed by certain races which we consider inferior and established itself amongst others that we recognise as superior, we must consider how far that superiority or inferiority has been the result of the course which civilisation has taken rather than been itself the cause of condition of society that prevails. If we find many instances of inferior races giving way and disappearing rapidly in the presence of superior races we must consider how far this result is to be attributed to a want of harmony between institutions which have fixed themselves upon the people in such a way as to have become part of their very being, and which in fact have created them, and made them what they are. It is only when individuals have been transplanted early in youth, and brought under the influence of alien institutions, that the congenital capabilities of race and the influence of heredity can be fairly judged of, and even then such cases cannot be accepted as finally determining the question, until complete equality of advantages has been established. On the other hand the influence of heredity, though it is a problem very difficult of solution, is not beyond power of demonstration. To apply these considerations to the origin and development of Art, the only way of approaching the satisfactory study of the question is to take note of the performances of persons belonging to different races and in different stages of culture who are wholly untaught, and notice whether in their first attempts at drawing they shew such different powers of representation as to warrant the idea of congenital inequality. This I have endeavoured to do, and the result is shewn in the rude drawings which are exhibited this evening. From time to time, when opportunity has presented itself, during the last few years I have obtained drawings from untaught aborigines of different savage countries who have come to England, by taking them into a room one by one so as to prevent their copying from one another, and after giving them a pen or pencil and a piece of paper, I have asked them to do their best to make a drawing of me or some other person or object in the room. I have noted their method of proceeding and preserved the drawings, which have been put together and classified as far as possible either by races or by the peculiarities of the drawings. I have done the same thing with untaught country children and adults of our own race, [1] and I have had the drawings mounted on cards in such a way as to enable a comparison to be formed between them and the first attempts of savages. It is hardly necessary to say that it is not an easy matter to obtain the drawings of untaught civilised adults as they are, of course, well aware of their incapacity and are not easily persuaded to expose their inability to draw even the simplest outline. Still, having taken every possible precaution, I am perfectly satisfied of the genuineness of the drawings exhibited, which, it may be observed, are not all obtained by one person, but have been procured by different observers in different parts of the country. It would take some time to characterise all the drawings. I have classified the English drawings as far as possible by the peculiarities of the performances. Thus I have placed on one card all figures in which the hands and feet are represented in right lines like a toasting fork. On another I have placed together all those drawings of men and animals in which the draughtsmen whilst representing the head in profile have shewn both eyes on one side of the head, evidently forgetting that only one eye could be seen on the side of the head, notwithstanding that all the drawings were done from Nature. On another card I have put together all the representations of human form in which the head only is shewn and the body omitted, the arms being drawn as branching directly out of the head and the legs and feet also protruding from the lower part of the head. Here it may be noticed that some of the drawings of Dorsetshire children from six to eleven years of age correspond exactly to one of a male Zulu 36 years of age. In drawing the figure of a man or an animal, the general tendency is to draw them facing to the left in preference to the right. This may possibly be the result of right-handedness. In nearly all cases the heads of men are represented too large in proportion to the body; the reason of this is that the various features of the face by habit are strongly impressed on the mind, and they require space to represent them, whereas the trunk, being a less complex part of the body, is represented small in signification of its relatively inferior importance rather than in its true proportion of its bulk. In every case, whether of Europeans or others, it was found notwithstanding the injunctions to copy from the figures before them, the beginner, after having commenced his drawing, never looked at his model again, all the rest being done out of his own head. It was never found possible to make the untrained draughtsman copy each part separately. The figures are simply signs of the general idea of the object which the person has conceived in his own mind. From this we may perceive how easy it would be for realistic representations in the most primitive condition of Art to pass into symbolism and the earliest stages of writing on the one hand, and into ornamentation on the other hand. In one of the figures of a horse drawn by a Dorsetshire girl of ten years old it will be seen that the head of the horse is represented in the form of a coil. This coil is one of the most primitive forms of ornament employed by savages, such as the Australians, Negroes &c. In another instance, that of Adsumvola, an adult female Zulu, after taking a long time and great pains with her performance she produced a figure with head, arms, and legs in the right places, but quite separate and detached from each other, being apparently unable to connect them by means of the body. Being struck with the resemblance of this figures to many savage drawings which I had seen in which the various parts of the body are detached and jumbled up indiscriminately, I took the paper away, and giving her another, asked her to draw me again. She then repeated the same figure, the limbs being detached as before, but in this case she put the legs in the position of the arms, and the arms and hands down below, where the feet should be. Another circumstance which proves that the figures are nothing more than signs of the idea in a person's mind, is the fact that in several cases it will be seen that European children represented the five toes of the feet, although the model always had the shoes on. On the other hand, two of the adult Zulus, it will be seen, took special care to emphasise the high-heeled boots on the feet, because, being quite unaccustomed to war shoes, this was a part of the costume of Europeans in general which had especially drawn their attention. In some cases the figure is drawn facing full front, when the model stood side way, and vice versa. Taking a general survey of the whole of these drawings, it may safely be said that no superiority can be recognized in the European over the aboriginal first attempts. On the contrary they show remarkable uniformity of capacity and purpose. Some of the Zulu drawings are certainly superior to some of the European ones, even those of adults. It has been stated, I think by Oldfield that some Australians whom he met shewed no power of understanding a portrait, that when one was shewn to them they turned it over several times and could not be made to recognize its likeness to a human being. My son, who was in the last Cape War, also tells me he tried the same experiment with some Zulus, and found them incapable of recognizing a human figure in drawing. That some individuals may have shewn such singular incapacity is not impossible, but it is certainly not characteristic of the race as a whole, for I have in my collection representations of men and animals by Australians fully equal or superior to those which have been exhibited. On the other hand it has been proved by numerous instances that even dogs have had the power, not only of appreciating the figure of a man in a painting, but even of recognising the likeness of their masters. Mr Romanes, in his lately published work on "Animal Intelligence," gives several well-authenticated examples of this peculiarity of the canine race. He mentions an instance of a Dandi-Dinmont terrior which recognised an enlarged photograph of its mistress some time after her death, and sat before it barking for some time with evident signs of recognition. Another case is given in which a dog recognised his master's likeness from amongst a number of others placed on the floor, and went up to it, licking the face. We can hardly believe, therefore, that when this power is possessed by dogs it should be entirely wanting in any large number of the human race. Nor is it only in the first attempts that savages shew themselves the equals of the untrained Europeans. Their power of improvement in many cases is quite on a par with that of civilised people. The Zulus, as is well known, are one of those races who do not cultivate drawing or carving to any extent, whilst their neighbours, the Bushmen - an inferior race in all respects—shew much proficiency in the paintings which they make upon rocks and elsewhere, copies of some of which kindly presented to me by Miss Frere, I exhibit this evening. Yet the capacity of Zulus for improvement under European influence is shown by two very remarkable examples of copies of Venetian drawings in mosaic of glass beads, made at a missionary station by native tribes on the frontier of Zululand. These mosaics, it must be admitted, although they are only copies, are much superior to average performances of European copyists, and could not have been executed by any who did not have a perfectly correct eye for form and colour. In like manner I exhibit this evening a carving in wood made by Comax Indians on the N.W. coast of America, representing a woman nursing her child, and done in the stiff, expressionless style that is peculiar to the carvings of those people, and another in bas-relief done at a missionary station by the same tribe of Indians, who had been taught in which the expression of the face and drapery, as well as the form of the infant, is fully equal if not superior to the best English provincial work. On the other hand, if no great difference is shown between the first attempts of civilised and uncivilised races, collectively the paintings exhibited this evening of the first performances of European children and adults show a marked difference in the capacity of individuals. Whether this is also the case amongst savages I have no means of determining from actual experiment, though I have reason to believe it is also the case with them. I would draw special attention to the performance of George Cross, a Wiltshire mechanic, which is given on one of the cards. This man, although he had never attempted to draw from Nature before, yet as a mechanic his eye had been well trained to form in his profession, and his performance stands out in very superior contrast to the others taken at the same time and from the same object. To what extent this inequality in the first attempts of people may be due to hereditary transmission of qualities acquired by ancestors is, of course, a question upon which it is extremely difficult to obtain reliable evidence. Many celebrated painters are known to have been closely connected with other painters of merit, thus the family of Titian had nine painters in it, that of Van der Velde contained six, that of Teniers three, that of Vandyck three, that of Murillo four, that of Francisco da Ponte six, that of Caracci six. A remarkable example has been brought to notice within the last month in the case of the family of Holl, the academician, in which three generations have been accomplished artists, the last being the superior of the three, but the cases in which hereditary talent runs with the name must be quite exceptional, and where merit runs in collateral branches it generally escapes notice. When we consider how rapidly the ancestral tree fans out into numbers, the number of parental ancestors increasing as the squares of generations so that every individual within five generations has had 62 ancestors, whose qualities have been transmitted, most of whom are unknown by repute, and whose various qualifications have operated in neutralising the transmission of special talent, when it is also considered that the qualities of ancestors do not flow in equal mixtures through the veins of the progeny, but skip one or more generations to re-appear perhaps in full force in a great great grandson in a manner which appears capricious to us in our ignorance of the laws of hereditary transmission, it is not surprising that the sequence of the descent of mental and physical qualities should so often escape notice. But if as many as one-third, or 20 out of 62 ancestors in five generations, had been educated in drawing, the result would no doubt be a general improvement in the capacity of the offspring, so that we may reasonably hope that the advantages to be derived from the establishment of Art Schools will be prospective, and that they will benefit posterity as much as ourselves. Lastly we have to consider amongst those agencies which determine the character which Art taken in any country, the transmission of inherited forms. Forms of ornament and styles of architecture have been transmitted with such unbroken continuity that the various phases which they have undergone are often sufficient to enable archaeologists to determine the place of sequence to which any work of art belongs after the actual history of it has been lost. How and for what purpose the first ideas of imitating the forms of Nature originated in the human mind must be left to conjecture. The earliest specimens of Art that have come down to us - viz., those of the bone caves of France, casts of which are exhibited, show evidence that the art of drawing must have been cultivated for some time by the people that produced them. They are, in fact, far in advance of any of the first attempts of untaught Europeans and savages to which I have already alluded. It seems reasonable to suppose that the power of recognizing a likeness must have preceded the power of executing one, and it is not unlikely, therefore, that Art may have originated in the collection of natural forms in stone and wood simulating men and animals like the chalk flint now exhibited which was brought to me by a workman on account of its resemblance to a horse. This seems all the more probable from the superstition which uncivilised people often associate with stone celts, arrowheads, and other works of Art of prehistoric men which are found in the ground, and which are supposed in many countries to have fallen from heaven. The Chinese have a custom of preserving curious roots and other objects which resemble living creatures, and which by slight embellishment are made into more or less life like representations of the figures they represent. Even in our own time and country the wonderful forms of chalk flints have given rise to singular theories and beliefs on the part of some people, showing how probable it is that resemblances of this kind may have originated the earliest idea of carving likenesses in stone and wood. The history of the fine arts, like all other processes of Art and Nature, may be treated under the several heads of development, degeneration, and combination or reproduction. Of the first and third, typical illustrations may be quoted in the well known development of the various styles of classical and Gothic architecture, terminating in the Renaissance, which was a combination of the two or in the combination of Egyptian and Assyrian styles which took place in the Island of Cyprus. It would far exceed the limits of the time allotted to me on the present occasion to enter into anything like a comprehensive discussion of this large subject. I will therefore confine the remaining portion of this address to giving an illustration of the process of degeneration which is seen in the art of so many people. Mr Collier, in his excellent primer on Art, [2] has done me the honour of quoting two examples of such changes taken from the illustrations of objects in my museum at South Kensington, the one from New Ireland, showing how the realistic representation of a human face was converted by successive copies of different individuals into a figure representing a half-moon, which was the remains of the nose, the only surviving feature of the human face, the other a series showing the gradual changes which took place in the coil and fret pattern in different countries. [3] I have brought here another series from New Guinea not yet published, showing how the carved figure of a man, squatting after the native fashion, underwent degeneration. The bend of the arms at the elbows and wrists gradually came to be represented by an ogee coil. At first two coils were shown on each side of the body representing the two arms, and by degrees a single coil on the front of the breast superseded the two coils on each side, when all resemblance to a human form entirely disappeared, and the design became converted into a mere coil ornament. Drawings of other series of degeneration of coins are also exhibited. All this, it may be thought, is very barbarous and very unlike what would take place in civilised countries, but to prove that this is not the case I tried the experiment of taking a number of realistic drawings of different subjects, and submitted them to the process of having them copied successively by nine people, all of whom had undergone a course of instruction in drawing with various degrees of proficiency. Each person was instructed to copy from the last copy only and not allowed to see the copies which preceded it, so that the changes took place unconsciously on the part of the draughtsmen. The results which are exhibited on a series of cards show that changes fully as great, and very much in the same character took place, notwithstanding that all were educated persons of our own race who had been trained to draw, some being quite proficient artists. It would take too long to describe these drawings; they can be examined afterwards by any of those present who are interested in the subject. Each drawing is marked in the order in which the copy took place. These examples serve to illustrate the process by which changes took place in the forms and ornaments of antiquity. Although the conditions may have differed in regard to the duration of the period over which the course of degeneration may have been spread, it is without doubt by a similar process of successive copies that the transitions of antiquity were brought about, and we are thus enabled to understand their meaning, when all other clues to their history has been lost. It also frequently happens that considerable gaps occur in the series of successive changes in consequence of the connecting links having been lost, notwithstanding which it is often possible by collecting a number of allied forms of ornament and design to ascertain the order in which the varieties occurred, and by this means to assign to each its true place in sequence if not in time. In concluding these remarks I can have little to say about schools of art that has not been repeated dozens of times before. Amongst those who study in them few, of course, can expect to obtain the first places of merit, but that does not detract from the advantages that may be derived by all by acquiring a correct eye, which will be of use to them in every walk of life. If it is true that no one can form true ideas in his own mind upon any subject until he has acquired the art of expressing them accurately in language, it is equally true that no one can take in an accurate impression of the things he sees in the world until he has acquired the power of drawing them correctly. Illustration now enters so largely into all the operations of science, education, and the Press, that a wide field is open for many who are not in the first rank as artists. Other branches than painting and sculpture command the services of students of Art. The art of engraving, it is said, is dying out; certainly my own experience leads me to know that lithography has never attained the perfection that it ought to have done, and work of this kind is better and more cheaply executed abroad than in this country. I believe no more useful field of labour could be entered upon than the endeavour to promote good and cheap illustrations of scientific works. I will not go out of my province by discussing high Art, but, confining myself still to the work of students, I would venture to emphasise the stress which Mr. Collier has laid in his primer on Art upon the importance of adhering to truth of representation. If absolute truth is as unattainable in Art as it is in most other things, certainly there is nothing more beautiful in the human mind than the desire to attain it. Even the styles of the great masters, which are admirable in their originality, are often the reverse of admirable when they are servilely copied by others, and many a promising student has had his prospects nipped in the bud by falling to mannerism before he has acquired the Art of depicting faithfully the forms of Nature. Nor can he be sure that any of the nostrums prescribed for beauty have any better authority for them than the fluctuating fashion of the time or the force of association. When we reflect, for instance, how our ideas of female beauty might have differed, and that, according as we might happen to haves been born - a Negro, a Chinaman, or a Botocudo - we should have admired a woman too fat to move, a cripple too lame to walk, or a face the lower lip of which is forced out two inches beyond the nose by a stud in the shape of a cart wheel, when we see civilised women of our own race disfiguring themselves in the most wonderful manner, dyeing their hair in colours that are incongruous with the colour of their skin, tinting their faces like a clown at Astley's, or swaddling themselves round the legs like a bambino, all in the cause of beauty, when we consider that in costume and decoration the fashions which are thought beautiful at the time are made to appear hideous to us at another time, largely by force of association, may we not be condoned in our scepticism if we ask, if all these things are beautiful, and the truth is not beautiful, what is beauty? Let every man judge it according to his own law. (Loud applause.)

The certificates were then distributed by the CHAIRMAN to the successful students, whose names are given above in the head-master’s report.

Transcribed by AP as part of the Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project June 2010 and September 2011.


NB Added by Alison Petch, not part of original address

[1] Examples of the drawings by Dorset children (all named and aged, described as being from Handley) are held by Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum Pitt-Rivers papers M39a. They were obviously asked to draw a blackboard, a man, a sheep and a dog (they also drew other things) on small pieces of paper

These objects described in this article cannot be matched to entries in the second collection catalogue. However, they can be matched, to a degree, to items listed in documentation for Pitt-Rivers collections before 1884 held by the Pitt Rivers Museum in the so-called Green Book (or day book of South Kensington Museum) is mentioned:

Page 194: 'Green book' entry - South Kensington Receipts, 12 July 1881 - Specimens as per lists attached - Marked 'A' are part of those removed from the Collection on 8 July 1881. 2 bead mosaics by Zulus

Page 195: 'Green book' entry - South Kensington Receipts, 12 July 1881 - Specimens as per lists attached - Marked 'C' are additional loans to the collection 9 drawings on one mount by Zulu's [sic]

'Green book' entry - South Kensington Receipts, 12 July 1881 - Specimens as per lists attached - Marked 'C' are additional loans to the collection 3 drawings by Bushmen in caves

These items were obviously retained by Pitt-Rivers for his private collection and shown in Dorchester School of Art in 1884. Later they were displayed publicly at King John's House.

Other related material include:

'Green book' entry - South Kensington Receipts, 12 July 1881 - Specimens as per lists attached - Marked 'C' are additional loans to the collection 3 drawings by Bushmen in caves

'Green book' entry - South Kensington Receipts, 12 July 1881 - Specimens as per lists attached - Marked 'C' are additional loans to the collection 5 drawings on one mount by Uganda's [sic]

'Green book' entry - South Kensington Receipts, 20 September 1881 - 2 modern Egyptian col'd [sic - coloured] drawings

'Green book' entry - South Kensington Receipts, 1 January 1874 - 1.1 - 1.5 5 Indian drawings [this might refer to more general drawings from India as might the next entry from Persia]

'Green book' entry - South Kensington Receipts, 1 January 1874 -  Persian drawings

'Green book' entry - South Kensington Receipts, 14 September 1876 -  5 sketches

The Bushman sketches were from not recorded as being from Miss Frere, but I think they must be the same ones.

[2] Collier's primer on art is probably a reference to the Honorable John Maler Collier (1850-1934), British artist, who published 'A primer of Art' in 1882. He wrote a series of books about oil-painting and portraiture: see his entries in wikipedia and the Dictionary of National Biography for more information

[3] The New Ireland reference where a representation of a human face 'degenerates' into a half moon sounds like it is a reproduction of the illustration (Plate IV) used in 'The Evolution of Culture', first published in 1875 and subsequently published as the title essay of his collected volume in 1906. This illustration is shown on this page. The other examples given in this address are not identifiable. See here for further information about this illustration and the related paddles.

Bibliography for this article

Bowden, Mark 1991. Pitt Rivers: The Life and Archaeological Work of Lieutenant-General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Fox, A.H. Lane ‘On the Evolution of Culture’, Journal of the Royal Institute, 7 [1875] pp. 357-389

Pitt-Rivers, A.H.L.F. 1884 'Address delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Dorchester School of Art, February 1884' Dorset Chronicle, February 7 1884 (pagination unknown)

Pitt-Rivers, A.H.L.F. 1906 [ed. JL Myers, intro by Henry Balfour] The Evolution of Culture and other essays Clarendon Press Oxford UK

Thompson, Michael and Colin Renfrew. 1999. ‘The catalogues of the Pitt-Rivers Museum, Farnham, Dorset’ Antiquity vol. 73 (no. 280) pp. 377-392

AP, June 2010, information from S&SWM collections added August 2011.

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