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Introduction From Utilitarianism and the Art School in Nineteenth-Century Britain

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INTRODUCTION

The democratic refers, or is at least constantly tending, more and more, to refer every thing to the standard of utility, to the greatest-happiness principle; the aristo-cratical, as much, as far, and as long as possible, to the standard of taste, constituting itself the arbiter of taste. Jeremy Bentham, Deontology

In an article published in Studio International in 1970, the art historian Norbert Lynton commented on the origins of publicly funded art education in Britain:the existence of any sort of publicly-financed art education is a very remarkable thing it proves the survival of a superstition that came in with industrialization, a desire for some sort of insurance policy against the end of civilization.1

This book is about how a very remarkable thing, the art school as a state-funded political experiment, was proposed, developed and then dismantled within utilitarian political economy. The historical boundaries of utilitarian political economy in my text are set by George Berkeleys polemic The Querist of 1735, which agitated for the allocation of state funds to art education in Ireland,2 and William Stanley Jevonss comments on The Querist in his Political Economy of 1871 and his later attack on the South Kensington system of art education in the early 1880s. The main focus of my book is on the role of the legislator in the political economy of art education, through an analysis of Jeremy Benthams writing on taste, ethics and utility. In his article in Studio International, Norbert Lynton suggested that publicly funded art education came in with industrialization; this focus on an industrial mode of production as the key explanatory factor, accompanied by the diminution of legislative agency within laissez-faire political economy, was introduced to debates on state-funded art education in the 1830s and had become received opinion by the end of the nineteenth century. In a keynote speech on the history of art education given at the Congress on Social Science in Huddersfield in 1883, Sir Rupert A. Kettle noted that The Royal Academy of Arts was founded in 1765 [sic]. The steam-engine was invented 20 years afterwards. The introduction of this wealth-producing power marks the point of time when the change in the social conditions of the middle classes com1

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menced,3 thus arousing public opinion in favour of alternatives to the academy, and leading to a situation where in 1883, There is no considerable town in England now without a school of art.4 It is an historical irony that this self-actualizing, steam-driven, laissez-faire version of the political economy of art education was to affect the initial development of the publicly funded art school in England in the 1830s, as well as its relation to the Royal Academy of Arts. While Adam Smith could see an economic logic for new forms of pedagogy emerging from new modes of production, he refused to see any political necessity for them. This quandary had an inhibiting effect on the utilitarian architects of the art school in nineteenth-century England, which this book addresses through a return to Bentham. Jeremy Benthams writing on culture, taste and the institutions of art showed that the intervention of the legislator, rather than being written out by natural science and laissez-faire economics, had become more necessary, more complex and more perilous in the nineteenth century. In the early eighteenth century, George Berkeleys theological utilitarianism, in which public happiness is proposed by the legislature in the service of a divine order, offered a clear-cut case for government investment in an art school that would combine economic growth through the creation of needs, with the public display of virtue. Berkeley advocated government support for art education on the grounds that this would bring about moral and economic re-armament through the public affirmation of industry, with easel painting as the supreme product in this moral order of industry.5 Berkeleys politics of refinement and taste uses a public scale of value running from sinful sloth to virtuous industry, with no requirement for subjective sentiments of taste. It presented a vision of the state art school as the lodestar of a fixed moral universe within a closed colonial situation, in which the idle would become the slaves of the industrious.6 Like George Berkeley, Jeremy Bentham eschewed sentiment, but was at the opposite pole of a utilitarian political economy of art education. In his Method of an Institute of Political Economy of 1804, Bentham listed the Royal Academy of Arts as one of four national institutions that could be provided with government support, on the grounds that if it were proven to have public utility, this could not be provided by private enterprise or the spontaneous action of individuals. Other institutions on this list were the Board of Agriculture, the Royal Institution and the Veterinary School. Benthams political economy looks at the academy of art from the point of view of an ethics of utility, which works through and across individuals, communities and governments, constructing assemblages of interest between these domains, rather than building the theologico-political redoubt favoured by Berkeley. For Bentham, therefore, a publicly funded art institution may be included alongside other institutions of public utility in the cause of ethical reconstruction, rather than moral protection. The principle of utility7 cuts across political, social, cultural and aesthetic categories that, Bentham thought, should be provided with

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a new logical-discursive consistency. For this reason, Benthams famous sentence Prejudice apart, the game of push-pin is of equal value with the arts and sciences of music and poetry,8 which is often used to sum up his attitude to the arts and to prove his incorrigible philistinism, should actually be understood as an indication of the need, as Bentham put it, to lay aside the old phraseology and invent a new one9 in the cause of public utility. In An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, Bentham asserted that the proper ethical procedure is to translate the existing language of morality into a new language that engages with the facts of pleasure and pain. If pleasures and pains were the basis of all other entities, this meant that all perception was interested perception: A man is said to have an interest in any subject, in so far as that subject is considered as more or less likely to be to him a source of pleasure or exemption [from pain].10 The Benthamite visual field is structured as a collective architecture of interests moving across time and space, the operations of which are interrupted by attempts to organize it according to the principles of disinterested perception and judgments of taste based on delicate sentiments. If there could be no disinterested or impartial perception, the task of the legislator was to administrate aggregates of interest in the cause of public welfare. For this reason, as Max Hocutt puts it, Bentham should be regarded as a free-thinking empiricist who thought of moralities and laws not as edicts given from on high or built into a priori reason but as systems of conventions implicit in social practices; so known by observing behaviour and improved by calculating utility.11 Bentham was not simply a proto-sociologist who analysed these systems of conventions and social practices, but a political and social reformer who wished to change these social practices in order to align them with the principle of utility. These reforms began with culturally embedded formations such as the aristocracy, whose sinister interests promoted interest begotten prejudice in others.12 Sinister interest was Benthams term for a situation in which the interests of the ruling few acted against the interests of the subject many. Interest begotten prejudice was a personal bias in favour of these same sinister and sectarian interests, of the kind that is expressed in an allegiance to common sense notions of virtue or social standards of taste. Prejudice is thus an obstacle to the more general reformation in the moral13 that Bentham proposed in A Fragment on Government. Bentham identified prejudices of taste with the aristocracy, to the extent of opposing the good taste of the ruling few to the good government of the subject many. Benthams use of utility as a reforming ethical principle for institutions of art, and Berkeleys use of industry as the principle of morality in his political economy of art education, offer radically different modes of government intervention within the field of art education, united only by the manner in which their mutual refusal of sentiment enables the possibility of intervention. In chapters four and five, I show how the duty of industry that allowed Berkeley to differen-

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tiate higher and lower forms of art without recourse to sentiment, and which was later used by William Stanley Jevons to differentiate higher and lower consumers of art, was rejected by Bentham on the grounds that discussion of the duty of industry incited a false consciousness of virtue, which would benefit from being translated into the language of interests. Between the very different forms of state intervention in the political economy of art education offered by Bentham and Berkeley, I also examine a third, non-interventionist and sentiment-based approach to the political economy of art by David Hume and Adam Smith, that minimizes the role of the legislator in the construction of public taste. While Hume establishes the continuity of existing cultural forms on the new grounds of sentiment and taste, Smith favours social common sense and virtuous character over and above government intervention and the demands of public utility.14 In chapter one, I examine Adam Smiths views on intervention in art education in relation to his ambivalent attitude to the Foulis Academy of Art, established at Glasgow University in 1753. In chapters two and five, I analyse Benthams criticisms of David Humes views on social standards of taste. Taken together, Hume and Smith build a sociology of the status quo, which, while foregrounding the virtues of art and industry as Berkeley did, refuses Berkeleys politico-theological interventionism. Jeremy Bentham, who did not believe in a civilization founded on faith, belief or sentiment, but did believe that governments should always intervene solely as partisans of utility, refused the limits set by Berkeleys theological utilitarian state and the stable cultures of taste envisioned by Hume and Smith. For Bentham, also, utilitarian cultural and social reform proceeds through discourse, whereas for Hume the bluntness of discourse, which is the source of prejudice and received opinion in taste, should be countered by the precision of sentiment. I include an analysis of Humes and Benthams respective claims to eliminate prejudice in taste as part of my address to the utilitarian political economy of art education in Britain in the four decades between 1835 and 1875, which are the principal historical focus of my book, and which are centred on the establishment of the first publicly funded art school in England, the School of Design, in 1837. The work of Benthamites and philosophical radicals in parliament to obtain a government grant of 1,500 for the School of Design, through the work of the Select Committee on Arts and Manufactures of 18356, gave public prominence to the issue of a political economy of art education and linked it with questions concerning the public utility of the Royal Academy of Arts. The promotion of the abolition of all exclusiveness in affairs of art15 by the MPs William Ewart and John Bowring, who were the mainstays of the Select Committee on Arts and Manufactures, seemed to be advancing Benthams agenda of a utilitarian ethics for art. John Bowring was also the general editor of Benthams works.16 However, Bowring and Ewart were also firmly attached to a Smithian political economy that focused

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on the improvement of taste as a route to the cultivation of aesthetic practice and social virtue, which pushed them in the direction of non-interventionism and reduced their own agency as legislators. While the very necessity for a Select Committee on Arts and Manufactures and its proposals for the education of the eyes of the people by our own Government17 gave the lie to Adam Smiths reliance on cultural conventions and stable communities that were assumed to be already in place, the School of Design was founded on these same cultural conventions. The final report of the Select Committee on Arts and Manufactures opted for a model of light-touch government intervention dedicated to the establishment of the natural rhythms of free trade in art. The Committees final report indicated a strong adherence to the notion that contemporary social standards of taste could be harmonized with historically established principles of taste within a free trade economy. This was satirized by Blackwoods Magazine in its comments on the work of the Select Committee on Arts and Manufactures as the cultural democracy of a Parthenon on every pudding dish. Benthams opposition between good government and good taste, and the havock [sic] in our predilections18 caused by his ethical revision of aesthetic categories, did not form part of the Committees deliberations or its final report. Bowring and other reformers on the Committee had put themselves in the position of national taste-makers through their attacks on the Royal Academy of Arts and by securing funds for an alternative, government-controlled provision of art education. However, they were unable to mount an effective challenge to the RA because they were intervening on behalf of established powers of taste that the academicians controlled and utilized. Calls to end a supposed monopoly on art by the Royal Academy of Arts were in vain, unless the government could also use the publicly funded art school to position the government as an authority on taste. Since the first meeting to convene a governing body for the School of Design in 1836 included four members of the Royal Academy of Arts, neither of these options were in prospect. It was not until Henry Cole took control of the School of Design through the new Department of Practical Art in 1852 that any serious challenge was mounted to what Cole referred to as the moral impossibility of the Royal Academicians in the School of Design. Coles reforms, which he saw as completing and enhancing the mission of the Select Committee on Arts and Manufactures, put a distance between the publicly funded art school and the Royal Academy of Arts, by placing the active construction of a discourse on public taste by the British government at the summit of his national pedagogy of art. Chapter three, which discusses Coles public work in the field of art education, shows how Coles reforms of the national art education system in Britain occupied an ambiguous position between the language of reform used to differentiate the Royal Academy of Arts from the School of Design by Bowring and Ewart, and the more radical reform of language in the service of public welfare that

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Bentham advocated. This ambiguity consists in the manner in which Cole sometimes employed utility as a standard of taste (seen in Charles Dickenss caricature of Cole as the taste tyrant of Hard Times) and sometimes, more radically, as a government standard for taste, by defining bad taste as the product of the sectarian interests of artisans, manufacturers and consumers and good taste as the resolution of these errors in a programme of public pedagogy devoted to the accurate expression of ideas. The confusion between these two positions within a political economy of taste requires that we distinguish a familiar genealogy that runs from Shaftesbury to Kant,19 which is guided by a relation between beauty and usefulness within existing sets of social conventions, from the version used by Bentham, which replaces these social conventions with logical-discursive systems used for grappling with contingent sets of circumstances. In the genealogy of taste from Shaftesbury to Kant, the third Earl of Shaftesbury (16711713) effects a separation of disinterested reflection on the beauty of objects from their utility, and Francis Hutcheson (16941746) posits this reflection as an inner sense. Inner sense theory is rejected by George Berkeley (16851753) in favour of rational empirical comparison linked to utilitarian ends. David Hume (171176) splits this difference by dividing the perception of beauty into two parts, relating firstly to the absolute beauty of species and secondly to the beauty of fitness for ends or uses, whose contingency is counteracted by linking the appreciation of specific utilities to the disinterested operations of sympathy and imagination. In the concluding act of this philosophical relay race, Immanuel Kant (17241804) accomplishes a full transition to an autonomous discourse of aesthetics by claiming that beauty and utility are not identical, but that where an object is intended to be useful its utility is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition of its beauty. In contrast, the relation that Bentham made between beauty as a social convention and the principle of utility does not depend on the viewpoint of the philosopher, but rather on the judgments of the legislator who is confronted with particular aggregates of individual, cultural and social circumstances, and who is required to follow the principle of utility for each aggregate. If the critic of taste abhors what is visually ridiculous but ignores what is socially mischievous, the good government of the legislator on taste follows the opposite path, embracing a visual field replete with all kinds of aberrations of taste, so long as these aberrations promote public welfare and minimize social mischief. Chapter two deals with the position of the utilitarian legislator on taste, focusing on Benthams writing on Time and Place in Matters of Legislation of 17802, and discusses how the legislator could be enabled to act in a manner that would be conducive to public well-being, by translating aesthetically and culturally grounded modes of speaking about taste into utilitarian terms. This chapter also shows why the accusation that Bentham was a philistine, or the counter-assertion that he was not a philistine, are both inade-

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quate, since they leave out the possibility that Benthams philistinism is directed at the translation of cultural conventions on utilitarian terms. My intention in this chapter is to offer an alternative to taste in Benthams writings of legislation that is contemporaneous with a specific meeting of minds proposed by Joshua Reynolds to Adam Smith at Dr Johnsons Club in 1782, which highlights the harmony between Reynoldss pendulum of taste and the virtue ethics of Adam Smith. This allows for a fuller analysis of why post-Smithian political economy was not the best weapon to use against the Royal Academy of Arts in 1836. It also shows the manner in which Henry Cole offered a way through this legislative impasse. This leads me to suggest that Henry Cole should be understood not as a dogmatic utilitarian legislator on taste, but as someone whose position as a legislator on taste was made possible by Benthams utilitarianism. Cole showed that the route to the the abolition of all exclusiveness in affairs of art proposed by Bowring and Ewart lies through the legislator. In chapter one, I refer the direct appeal to legislative consciousness made by John Arthur Roebuck MP, a member of the Select Committee on Arts and Manufactures, who in a speech to his fellow MPs in 1837 said that it required a superiority to established prejudices of feeling and thought to see that what has been taught to us in our cradle and in our youth are the phantoms of a misdirected imagination the lusty offspring of what Bentham called an interest-begotten prejudice.20 Chapter four discusses the end of Henry Coles experiment in the political economy of art education, focusing on the appointment of Edward Poynter, later President of the Royal Academy of Arts, as Principal of the National Art Training School (formerly the School of Design) in 1875, and the attack by William Stanley Jevons on the legacy of Henry Coles South Kensington system of art education in his Methods of Social Reform and Other Papers, which was published posthumously in 1883. Jevonss version of marginal utility, as it was applied to the ideals of Coles public pedagogy of art, appealed to Benthams hedonic calculus but referred back to the theological utilitarianism of George Berkeley. Like Berkeley, Jevons relied on distinctions of taste built on a spectrum of morality leading from the sin of sloth and the duty of industry, without recourse to socially grounded sentiments. Unlike Berkeley, Jevons employed his version of marginal utility to display morality and taste at the level of the individual consumer, and shrank the role of the legislator on taste to that of a professional museum curator. Jevons was concerned as to whether a government-sponsored programme of art education for the people was encouraging working class inertia, when it should be employing museum professionals to incite middle-class individuals to further aesthetic exertion. Jevons de-politicized the utilitarian political economy of art education, and criticized the education of the eyes of the people by our own government that was proposed by the Select Committee on Arts and Manufactures and developed by Henry Cole. An earlier disaggregation of the political

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economy of art education had occurred in 1857, when Henry Coles programme of national art education was moved from the control of the Board of Trade to the Privy Council for Education. A pedagogical experiment in the environs of capital conducted under the aegis of the Board of Trade was redirected towards establishing educational standards for art. The School of Design was renamed as the National Art Training School in 1864, and Edward Poynter was appointed as its principal in 1875. Poynters appointment as principal, and an internal inquiry into problems of recruitment and institutional purpose at the National Art Training School in 1888, revealed that insofar as they were not academies or ateliers of art, the government schools of art were failing to deliver. In 1896, the National Art Training School became the Royal College of Art. It is not my intention to identify the Royal Academy of Arts as the culprit in a narrative of the rise and fall of a utilitarian political economy of art education in the nineteenth century. Instead, I will use the larger historical framework offered by Berkeley and Jevons, as well as the views on beauty, utility and the political economy of taste offered David Hume and Adam Smith, to analyse why it was difficult to overcome the moral impossibility of the influence of the Royal Academicians in the publicly funded art school. Chapter five examines this question through the larger framework of the place of the art school within civilization mentioned by Norbert Lynton in his article in Studio International in 1970. It focuses on Benthams differentiation of the duty of industry and an ethics of interest, as a means to address what prevented William Ewart and John Bowrings programme for national art education from defining terms on which state schools of art could exist in a cultural space beyond the academy. I analyse the difference that George Berkeley made in the The Querist between the duty of industry in fine art and the register of industry in design, in order to identify the morality of industry as a key point at which the virtues of the academy will overmatch those of the government school of art within a utilitarian political economy of art education. The moral impossibility of the academy is built into Berkeleys legislative intervention, an impossibility that is only addressed by Benthams specific critique and disambiguation of the duty of industry. The most effective route to an adequate differentiation of the academy and the art school is through a utilitarian legislator and appointed father of art such as Henry Cole, who can begin to re-describe the relationship between the morality of industry and the facts of industrialization within the domain of public taste. The various historical checks to the development of a cultural space for the publicly funded art school are brought up to date in chapter six, in which I imagine the choices facing the legislators of an imaginary Select Committee on Arts and Manufactures of 2012, meeting on the hundred-and-seventy-fifth anniversary of public funding of art education in England. My intention is to look at the contemporary face of a utilitarian political economy of art education in a

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situation in which an educated, professional education in art in art schools, which is sometimes subject to criticisms of its lack of wider cultural relevance, is accompanied by education through art in publicly supported museums and galleries, which continues the historical irony of state support for the virtue and coherence of organic communities. In this Balkanized condition of a political economy of art, I examine three legislative options for an alternative to more returns to Adam Smith in recent proposals for a default or supposedly natural condition for the art school as a community of practice. If Smithian ethics can only offer proper acts in proper places21 and depend upon conventions that already exist to make sense of them, what can the legislator do for a political economy of art education? The three political economic options I discuss are (1) an anti-Benthamite and anti-Smithian reading of Aristotelian eudaimonia, (2) nudge theory and (3) Benthams principle of utility. I argue that nudge theory is a devils bargain with the new eudaimonia, and that the latter is a recipe for government-sanctioned prejudice that recalls the theologico-political regimes of George Berkeley. I conclude by suggesting that Benthams version of a utilitarian political economy of the art school is nothing more or less than the balanced, civic humanist form of the academy placed off balance by aggregate thinking, which requires laying aside the existing phraseology of culture and aesthetics and inventing a new one. It is the same alternative to the academy that was proposed by Bentham in his Manual of Political Economy of 1806, namely the academy from the point of view of utility, or (which amounts to the same thing) a utilitarian ethics for public institutions of art. Taken together, my principal claims in this book are as follows: 1. A utilitarian political economy of the art school should be understood as an engagement with the relation of art to public ethics and aggregate behaviour, beginning with George Berkeleys The Querist of 1735 and ending with W. S. Jevonss reduction of Berkeleys theologico-political vision to a relationship between individual consumers and art professionals. 2. The two extremes of a political economy of art education in Britain are represented by George Berkeleys theological utilitarianism and Jeremy Benthams advocacy of the principle of utility for institutions of art both of these positions are interventionist and advocate changes to the cultural and political status quo. Berkeley intervenes through the creation of needs according to the dictates of an a priori morality of industry, and Bentham intervenes through the re-description of existing cultural and aesthetic categories in the cause of public utility. 3. The relation between public ethics and aggregate behaviour makes the consciousness and actions of the legislator the focus of a utilitarian political economy of art education. It foregrounds a politics of interventionism and non-interventionism within art education, which comes into focus

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within a laissez-faire political economy of art education in the 1830s that saw the Royal Academy of Arts as the obstacle to a free trade in art. The belief of radical members of the Select Committee on Arts and Manufactures of 18356 in the notion that contemporary social standards of taste could be harmonized with historically established principles of taste within a free trade economy meant that their criticisms of the public utility of the Royal Academy of Arts were ineffective, and a disambiguation of the government school of art and the academy was not achieved through the establishment of the School of Design in 1837. Henry Coles reforms of the School of Design and the national system of art education in Britain showed that an effective approach to disambiguation of the government school of art and the academy proceeds through the actions of the utilitarian legislator on taste, whose circumstances were described in Benthams writing on Time and Place in Matters of Legislation of 17802. A new reading of the cultural Bentham is required, which focuses on the position of the legislator on taste and avoids discussions of Benthams philistinism or non-philistinism. What Henry Cole referred to as the moral impossibility of the academy in the school of art is built into George Berkeleys construction of the publicly funded art school through the requirement for the duty of industry. This moral impossibility is addressed by Benthams specific critique and disambiguation of the duty of industry and the possibility of a re-description of the relation between the morality of industry and an industrial mode of production. The utilitarian political economy of art education exists as the possibility of the civic humanist form of the academy placed off balance by aggregate thinking under the conditions of capitalism. Current alternatives to steady-state civic humanism and virtue ethics, through advocacy for overt government intervention to establish moral standards, or covert intervention through nudge theory, are not viable solutions to the questions of aggregate behaviour to which publicly funded art education is a historical response.

I am aware that these claims, and my central focus on the actions and consciousness of the legislator, give my book a specific focus that excludes discussion of the art school curriculum, except with regard to Henry Coles pedagogy of art as public work. This is partly because a focus on the art school curriculum leads back to the genealogy of beauty and utility from Shaftesbury to Kant and its continuation within nineteenth-century debates on the science of taste. Another reason is that the curriculum of nineteenth-century British art schools is discussed extensively elsewhere. The most recent example of this is Histories

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of Art and Design Education,22 a collection edited by Mervyn Romans, and also in Quentin Bells well-known history of The Schools of Design,23 which focuses largely on intra-institutional issues, avoiding treatments of the political economic intellectual context, as does the general history of art education in Britain by Stuart Macdonald.24 There are many treatments of Victorian Design reform which are too numerous to list here, but which often focus on the question of utilitarianism either at the level of the usefulness of the designed object or as an ideological reflection of industrialization and capitalism. Exceptions (such as Ezra Shaless reflections on Henry Coles public work) are referred to later in the book. There is some discussion of the work of the Select Committee on Arts and Manufactures in the final chapter of Celina Foxs more recent The Arts of Industry in the Age of Enlightenment,25 but it is descriptive rather than analytical, supporting points made elsewhere in her book. Susan Owen briefly discusses the Select Committee in the context of Henry Coles pedagogy of art, in her essay Straight Lines Are a National Want: South Kensington and Art Education Reform in an edited collection on the Victoria and Albert Museum. Holger Hoocks The Kings Artists26 does some analytical work on the Select Committee on Arts and Manufactures in its conclusion, but the focus of his book is on the development of the Royal Academy of Arts in the eighteenth century. Mervyn Romanss Histories of Art and Design Education has two chapters on the Select Committee on Arts and Manufactures that focus on taste and class rather than Benthamism; this is even more pronounced in the analysis of the Committee in an older chapter by Tom Gretton.27 None of the writers that have referred to the Select Committee on Arts and Manufactures have dealt with Benthams writings on taste, and discussions of Bentham in art and design tend to focus on Foucault and the Panopticon. Studies of philosophical radicalism by Joseph Hamburger28 and William Thomas29 do not touch on issues of public taste or utilitarian design reform. A biography of Henry Cole by Elizabeth Bonython and Anthony Burton30 and a lecture published in book form on Coles Chamber of Horrors by Chris Frayling31 do not deal with utilitarianism in depth, although Bonython and Burton point out that there has been little attempt to consider whether utilitarianism might have influenced cultural policy32 within all the volumes of work written on the nineteenth-century revolution in government. In his book The Bureaucracy of Beauty,33 Arindam Datta has done some bold and incisive theorizing on how Henry Coles work in the Department of Science of Art raises the methodological problem of thinking the aggregate within aesthetic theory. Dutta connects the utilitarian idea of the art school to debates on architecture and colonialism, but does not treat Benthams ideas in depth and supports the idea that Henry Cole was offering an illusion of agency in the face of the real agency of industrialization. In Jules Lubbocks The Tyranny of Taste,34 which deals with the political economy of art and taste in the context

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of debates on good design, Lubbock discusses Berkeley, Smith and Hume but leaves out Bentham entirely. Although my adoption of the legislator on taste as my central focus leaves out the close analysis of historical dynamics of production, consumption and social differentiation, it is intended to shift the terms for a discussion of government intervention within art education on which the analysis of these historical dynamics generally proceeds. Moving from a sociology of the consumer to Benthams writings on taste is not a return to the great man theory of history, since Benthams aim was to subsume the taste prejudices of great men and good critics within the principle of utility. In this regard, he would have been less interested in Pierre Bourdieus national sociology of taste than his straightforwardly political claim that What is at stake in aesthetic discourse, and in the attempted imposition of a definition of the genuinely human, is nothing less than the monopoly of humanity.35 While Bentham offers excellent resources for a reconsideration of the relationship of utility and the art school, the immediate methodological problem of reading the origins of publicly funded art education in 2012 is that of looking back at political experiments in art education in the nineteenth century from the perspective of a contemporary division between education in art and education through art.36 When Norbert Lynton wrote about the origins of publicly funded art education in 1970, it was from a position between two roles, the first as a representative of education through art as Director of Exhibitions for the Arts Council of Great Britain, and a second role in education in art teaching art history in an art school. His article in Studio International was a polemic against the Coldstream/ Summerson reforms in art education, which had reduced the definition of art education to a single division between studio and non-studio. Rather than construct these kinds of cultural and aesthetic distinctions, the question that Jeremy Bentham posed in his Manual of Political Economy could be phrased as what does the studio look like from a non-studio point of view? This allowed questions of aesthetics to be posed from within the unauthorized cultural zone created by the principle of utility, a zone that is accessed through the reform of language, crossed by contingent sets of interests, and full of ridiculous visual phenomena.

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Copyright – 1 – INTRODUCTION e democratic refers, or is at least constantly tending, more and more, to refer every thing to the standard of utility, to the greatest-happiness principle; the aristo-cratical, as much, as far, and as long as possible, to the standard of taste, – constituting itself the arbiter of taste. — Jeremy Bentham, Deontology In an article published in Studio International in 1970, the art historian Norbert Lynton commented on the origins of publicly funded art education in Britain: the existence of any sort of publicly-financed art education is a very remarkable thing … it proves the survival of a superstition that came in with industrialization, a desire for some sort of insurance policy against the end of civilization. 1 is book is about how ‘a very remarkable thing’, the art school as a state-funded political experiment, was proposed, developed and then dismantled within utilitarian political economy. e historical boundaries of utilitarian political economy in my text are set by George Berkeley’s polemic e Querist of 1735, which agitated for the allocation of state funds to art education in Ireland, 2 and William Stanley Jevons’s comments on e Querist in his Political Economy of 1871 and his later attack on the ‘South Kensington’ system of art education in the early 1880s. e main focus of my book is on the role of the legislator in the political economy of art education, through an analysis of Jeremy Bentham’s writing on taste, ethics and utility. In his article in Studio International, Norbert Lynton suggested that publicly funded art education ‘came in with industriali- zation’; this focus on an industrial mode of production as the key explanatory factor, accompanied by the diminution of legislative agency within laissez-faire political economy, was introduced to debates on state-funded art education in the 1830s and had become received opinion by the end of the nineteenth cen- tury. In a keynote speech on the history of art education given at the Congress on Social Science in Huddersfield in 1883, Sir Rupert A. Kettle noted that ‘e Royal Academy of Arts was founded in 1765 [sic]. e steam-engine was invented 20 years aſterwards. e introduction of this wealth-producing power marks the point of time when the change in the social conditions of the middle classes com-
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