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In 1911 it increased to $20,264,115, from which again the Government derives no revenue; and up to June 30, 1912, the figures that are available give the value of imports of old art as $5,259,761, from which the Government derived nothing.
I claim that the taxation of art, whether ancient, modern, or contemporary, is wrong. We are the only, or practiaclly the only, civilized country in the world that places a tax on art. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves for doing so; other countries foster art; they subsidize art schools and art academies; they give prizes out of the national funds for the encouragement of art, and they buy the works of contemporary artists, even of American artists, out of their public funds; and perhaps every member of this committee has seen in the Luxembourg the works of Americans and have been glad to see them there—works by Mr. Sargeant and by Mr. Whistler and by other American painters and scupltors.
I have in my brief carefully and, I think, fairly summarized the testimony before the Ways and Means Committee of the Congress of 1909 on both sides of that proposition. I do not know that this committee will want to take the time to read it, but I have summarized it in my brief to save them that trouble, and have there given, I think, accurately and fairly the arguments pro and con.
I think it is a fair statement to say that all the arguments, both the arguments themselves and from the personnel of those presenting them, were overwhelmingly in favor of unconditional free art. In my brief I have referred to the pages of the seventh volume of the hearings on the tariff act of 1909, in which the arguments in favor of the duty of $100 on all works of art, irrespective of their age, and also in favor of sweeping aside all the duty, are contained. The Congress of that year compromised or, I may say, straddled
, on the question with rather queer results-queer results both as to revenue and as to art. The duty before 1909 was 20 per cent, and in some cases 15 per cent, where there were reciprocity treaties with certain countries. They did not adopt tha suggestion of the tradesmen, and the artists who said that artists were tradesmen, of $100 on all works of art irrespective of their value and their age, but they put a 15 per cent duty on all works of art less than 20 years of age.
We, on the other hand, instead of doing that, instead of buying, as a Government, the works of contemporary artists, put a tax on importation into this country of contemporary art. That is an anachronism and absurdity. The revenue that we get under the present law is not so great that this country should continue in that position. According to the figures, which I will submit to your committee, the value of art imports less than 20 years old, for the year 1910, was $1,701,183 and yielded a duty of $255,178.95. The value for the year 1911 was $1,591,167 and yielded a duty, at the present rate of 15 per cent, of $238,675. The duty up to June 30, 1912, was the sum of $52,179.16 on works valued at $347,861.
A great many people say, and the argument was made before the committee of the House in 1909, that art is a luxury and not a necessity. There are many arguments against that proposition. In the first place, it is not a Democratic proposition. The Democratic Party on art has had rather a good record. The Democratic Party has been in favor of free art, as a party and historically. I may call the attention of the committee very briefly to that fact.
The act of 1832 was a protectionist measure, and yet it placed art on the free list. The act of 1846 was passed by the Democratic Party as a free-trade measure, and one of the principles of Mr. Walker, who was then Secretary of the Treasury, was that luxuries should be taxed the maximum; but that act put art on the free list.
In the act of 1857 art was kept on the free list, and the Democratic Wilson bill of 1894 also put art on the free list.
I am therefore asking this committee to put art on the free list and to put this country abreast of all other civilized countries—I will not say progressive countries; I say civilized countries.
A whole volume could be written on the various phases and aspects of the proposition that art is a necessity and not a luxury. I do not want to use a vulgarism, but I think I could prove that art in the end would pay for itself as a necessity. The French people, as a people, sell millions of dollars' worth of things to the rest of the world, mainly because the artistic instinct and spirit has been fostered in them generation after generation. Where people have an artistic instinct and sense, their products are certain to be finer and better, and to be bought by other nations. That is not limited
. merely to pictures that you see on the walls of museums, or to pieces of sculpture that you see in museums and galeries. It goes into almost everything that is worth having in life; it goes into everything where form, design, color, molding, modeling, or decoration may possibly enter.
If we want to compete with the rest of the world in the finer grades of life, and if we want to raise the standard of our products so we can compete with the works of Germany and France, where art is fostered and not taxed, it will be only good business for us to encourage, at least to the extent of removing the auty on contemporary art, the practice, study, and knowledge of contemporary art.
Mr. HARRISON. If I do not interrupt you----
Mr. HARRISON. I would like to ask whether there are any difficulties in the administration of the law dealing with art? In the first place, what is art?
Mr. Quinn. That difficulty is inherent in the present law and will be inherent in any law; but I think this committee can define it so there will be no border line of any great dispute.
Mr. HARRISON. If you will pardon the further interruption, a few yars ago, out in the Plaza in front of the Capitol, there was an alleged statue of the Father of His Country, which a paternal Government removed overnight, and it disappeared. No doubt in his day that was art, but to-day that property would be classified as “manufactures of stone not otherwise provided for."
Mr. Quinn. I think probably it would, and perhaps it was provided for after it was removed."
But the law, as at present it stands, defines paintings or sculpture made by artists or professional sculptors, and that is as near as we can come to it.
Mr. Hill. What about wood carving!
Mr. Quinn. I am not interested in that, because that is nearer a mechanical process and has not developed to such degree that we ask the duty removed, I think. I am speaking of things where the work
of a man's hands or his eye enters. You can not come any nearer to it than that. I might think a picture was a work of art, and someone else might think it a daub; but if made by a professional artist and I want to buy it, it ought to come in free.
You can not come any nearer to it than that. The Government would make itself ridiculous if it attempted to define what is and what is not art; and any official would likewise make himself ridiculous if he attempted to define what is and what is not art.
Somebody has said that morality is a question of geography. I do not say that is true, nor do I say that art is a question of geography; but it is a question of time, and geography, and taste, and disposition, and training, and environment, and ideals, and differs in different places at different times. The ideals of one age may not be the ideals of another. It is rather a commonplace, but ideals change and die and perish every day, and new ones come along. The reformer of one day is the conservative of another, and the progressive in art of one generation is the reactionary in another, the same as in politics; so I do not think the Government should attempt in the act itself to define what is or is not art.
I will come, Mr. Harrison, in a moment to a section I have drawn, toward the end of my brief, and explain that more fully.
There are really no arguments in favor of the retention of this duty, except that the Government of the United States wants to keep out all contemporary art for the purpose of getting in a possible $200,000 or $250,000. I had not estimated the expense of collecting that amount, but that expense should be deducted from that figure.
No artists, of any account at any rate, are asking for this protection. They do not need it. They do not want it. American art does not need protection from foreign art. If it does need it, if it is so weak it needs it, then it is not worthy of protection. If it can stand on its own bottom, then it does not need any protection. It should not be protected from what is bad, on the other side, which was one of the chief arguments for the act of 1909. It does not need to be protected from what is bad, and it should not ask protection from what is good. You can not get away from this proposition.
The CHAIRMAN. If it will not interrupt you, Mr. Quinn, four years ago we put art over 20 years old on the free list. That class of pictures, for instance, is largely a very high-priced class, that can only be bought by the very, very rich men ?
Mr. QUINN. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. In other words, we gave rich men their class of art free, and to the poor man or the man of moderate means, we declined to give it free.
Nir. Quinn. You have hit the nail on the head, Mr. Chairman.
This committee should bring within the means and put within the power of the man of moderate means-yes, even the poor man—to acquire contemporary works of art before they become 20 years of age and appreciate in value and then fall into the hands of dealers and then become the hobby or luxury of the rich.
If the committee will pardon me for being personal, I buy a few pictures myself, and I have paid a good many dollars in duty, and I always felt it was an outrageous thing that it should be so.
I do not belong to a class of rich men that can indulge in Rembrandts, or Velasquezs, or Franz IIalls and all the old masters; some of them
good and some of them bad, and some of them forged. I prefer to buy art of my own time, prepared by a man of my own time.
I think I speak for a great many other men of moderate means who want to buy the art of their own time, which is within their moderate means; so I am pleading, not only for this society but for myself and for all like me who want to be men of their own age. I do not want to buy the ideals of artists 50 or 75 years ago. I let that game go to the rich man. I prefer the more exciting and interesting and profitable one, personally to me, of buying living art.
Coming down to the practical question, if this committee shall decide to place art on the free list and have this country, therefore, 'take a stand as regards art with other civilized countries, how shall it be adopted and how shall it be accomplished? I will take the liberty of presenting to you, at the end of my brief, a paragraph which I will take out of the present Schedule N, that section imposing a duty upon works of art less than 20 years old, and put a comprehensive paragraph into the free list. I have also gone through the other sections dealing with etchings, lithographs, statuary, etc., and have grouped them all in one section and followed that with suggestions as to amendments to other provisions of the act.
There is just one point that has not been dealt with in any act and that was not dealt with at the time of the hearings in 1909. That is the question of the number of replicas. They dealt only with ques
. tions of originals. One of the chief arguments at that time was that if you took off the duty from all art we would be in danger of being swamped with copies and forgeries. I ask only for the duty to be removed on originals as to pictures, whether in oils, whether in pastels, or what not.
As to statuary, it is a little different. A sculptor may make one figure and may make one or two or three replicas. There comes a time as to replicas or copies when they cease to be art and become objects of trade; they cross the border line. For example, you may see in Tiffany's examples of Rodin's Basier,” which is nothing but an article of trade. I would not call it a work of art; I do not think Rodin would. I have therefore taken the liberty of suggesting in my brief that sculpture be admitted free and that two replicas of the same made by the artist only be admitted free. That would result in the original, if imported here, and the two replicas being numbered and tagged. They would have to be numbered, and those two would be admitted free. Any other replicas would be taxed.
That accomplishes several purposes. It does not compete with our molders or bronze foundries. It identifies the works of art, and it enables a museum or a private individual to obtain one of the one or two or three replicas of a celebrated work of art. I have put it at three, and think that is very conservative. I know several sculptors who limit their work to five replicas. Rodin makes a great many, and my suggestion as to limiting it to three would shut out a great many of Rodin's things bevond four in number.
As to etchings and lithographs I have also a practical suggestion to make. The number of etchings that may be made from a plate is almost unlimited. The first impressions, of course, as every member of this committee knows, will be better than the later ones. I have suggested that etchings or impressions shall be contined to 20, each one numbered, which shall be admitted duty free. Each one
would have to be numbered and a record kept, and a man would have
a to swear or prove that it was one of the number of 20, and if they got a higher number than 20 or more than 20 were to be imported, they would have to pay a duty on them at the regular rate. In other words, they would pass the border line when they ceased to be art and became an object of trade.
I make the same suggestion with reference to lithographs. The committee may not agree with me, Mr. Chairman, as to where that line should be drawn. It should be drawn somewhere, both as to statuary and as to lithographs and etchings.
The section I have sketched does not admit duty free anything into which the mechanical process enters. It is the work of art made by the artist's hand.
I find what I think is one curious oversight in the present act, and that is that apparently there is no provision made for works of art, such as bronze or other metals cast from plaster made by an artist. The artist makes only the plaster and then sends it to a workman to make the bronze, and a strict interpretation of your present act would exclude all bronze except those made by the artist himself, and in the proposed section I have included any sculpture that is made from casts made by a professional sculptor.
Mr. PALMER. Really an original ?
Mr. Hill. Then what would you do in this case: You have seen in the European galleries scores and scores of men and women sitting in front of a picture and copying it. So far as their work is concerned it is original. So far as the idea is concerned it is a copy. Would you admit that free for the purpose of merchandising ?
Mr. Quinn. No, I should not admit that for the purpose of merchandising. I should admit that if it was bought by a private individual or for a gallery only. But if it is reproduced for purposes of sale, I should tax it, beyond any question; although, if it has such educational value that it is for a gallery or for the use of some private individual who imports it, you might limit it to some American citizen, but I should not have copyists making these in Italy and Germany and other places and flooding this country with $25 original pictures duty free. It is only the original works of art that should come in free,
Mr. Palmer. We have a great many Americans going there and doing that same thing.
Mr. Quinn. Under the present law, works by Americans come in free. I retain that provision. Mr. Whistler settled that question. Any copy by an American should be retained; but you must draw the line there against flooding the market with copies. I do not believe in copies myself unless they are done by great artists, and then if a museum is importing them or a person is importing them himself for his own individual use. In that case I should be inclined to let them come in free, but if they are copies, merely as articles of merchandise or trade, then I think they ought to be taxed.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The brief submitted by Mr. Quinn in connection with his remarks is as follows: