Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Bids small from great in just gradation rise,
And, at one visual point, approach the eyes,

• Yer deem not, youths, that perspective can give
Those charms complete by which your works shall live ;
What tho' ber rules may to your hand impart
A quick mechanic fubítitute for art;
Yei formal, geometric shapes fhe draws ;
Hence the true genius icorns her rigid laws,
By Nature taught be frikes ch’unerring lines,
Confulis his eye, and as he sees deligns.

• Man's changelul race, the sport of chance and time,
Varies no lefs in aspect than in clime;
Mark well the difference, and let cach be seen
Of various age, complexion, hair, and mein.

• Yet to each fep'rate form adapt with care,
Such limbs, such robes, such attitude and air,
As best befit the head, and best combine
To make one whole, one uniform design ;
Learn action from the dumb, che dumb thall teach

How happiest to supply the want of speech.' The verbal inaccuracy in this last line, in which the adjective happiest is improperly substituted for the superlative of the adverb happily, is not what we meant to have taken notice of. We are of opinion, that in the concluding couplet Mr. Maron has widely deviated from, what appears to us, the obvious sense of the original. If the precept be as it is here rendered, it may be asked, where are such instructors to be met with ? A painter may pass half his life before an opportunity of improving himself by the method recommended may occur to him; and when the opportunity does occur, unless the dumb person be agitated by the very paffion the painter is intending to reprefent, how can he avail himself of it? But let it even be granted that he is agitated by such passion, were the painter to transfer upon his canvass the gefticulations it would produce in a person of this description, it is much to be doubted whether they would appear natural; for though the passions are, with

Componat; genitumque suo generante fequenti
Sit minus, & puncto videantur cun&ta sub uno.

Regula certa licet nequeat prospectica dici,
Aut complementum Graphidos ; fed in arte juvamen,
Er modus accelerans operandi: at corpora falso
Sub visu in multis referens, mendosa labascit :
Nam Geometralem nunquam funt corpora juxtà
Meofuram depicta óculis, sed qualia vila,

• Non eadem formæ fpecies, non omnibus ætas
Æqualis, fimilesque color, crinesque figuris :
Nam, variis velut orta plagis, gens dispare vultu eft.

Singola membra, fuo capiti conformia, fiant
Unum idemque fimul corpus cum veftibus iplis:
Maiorumque filens pofitura imitabitur actus.'

out

out dispute, the immediate language of nature, yet their tone and modification depending so much both upon the organs of bodily sense and the perceptions of the mind, it requires a competent enjoyment of each to express them with due force and intelligence. The ingenious annotator is aware of these objections, and wishes to understand the rule, as dictating to him, to observe how persons, with gaturally good expressive features, are affected in their looks and actions by any tight or sentiment which they see or hear, and to copy the gestures which they then filently make ufe of ; but he should ever take these lessons from nature only, and not imitate her at secondhand, as many French painters do, who appear to take their ideas, not only of grace and dignity, but of exotion and parfion, from their theatrical heroes, which is imitating an imitation, and often a false or exaggerated imitation.'

But, waving every argument arising from the impropriety of the precept as understood by Mr. Mason and Sir Joshua Reynolds, let us refer to the original. If by mutorum is to be una derstood persons born dumb, what becomes of imitabitur? The positions or attitudes of the dumb are not imitations, but ex. preffions. As mutorum, therefore, cannot poffibly fignify those who are born dumb, why may it not fignify the dumb figures upon the painter's canvas? The figures, in short, which imitate in their attitudes the real actions of mea so naturally and juftly, that they may be said, in the language of poetry, to want nothing but speech to be alive. This sense of the paslage seems not only the most obvious, but consistent also with what went before it. Our interpretation may, perhaps, be more clearly exprefled in the foliowing couplet :

So fall with life thy mule creation vie,

Th’expressive attitude shall words fupply. It must be acknowledged, that Mr. M.con's interpretation is countenanced by the marginal intimation of the rule, which 1ays mutorum acliones imitande. Moit probably the marginal enumeration of the rules was drawn up by the first editor and translator, De Piles, who may easily be supposed to have miltaken the sense in this, as he has in many other passages.

If from any unforeseen event the poetical works of Mr. Mason were to be loft, this translation only excepted, it alone would entitle him to one of the foremost ranks on Parnaffus : and with equal truth it may be said, that were there no other evidence of Sir Jolhua Reynolds's abilities than what might be collected from the annotations that accompany it, they alone would be sufficient to establith his reputation as a painter. Of these annotations the reader will be particularly pleased with the following, though he may probably have his doubts re

speaking (pe&ting the extent of the principle which the ingenious anno. tator has laid down.

The band that colours well must colour bright,

Hope not that praise 10 gain by fickly white.' • All the modes of harmony, or of producing that effect of colours which is required in a picture, may be reduced to three, two of which belong to the grand ftile, and the other to the ornamental.

• The first may be called the Roman manner, where the colours are of a full and trong body, such as are found in the Transfiguration; the next is that harmony which is produced by what the ancients called the corruption of the colours, by mixing and breaking them till there is a general union in the whole, without any thing that thall bring to your remembrance the painter's pallette, or the original colours ; this may be called the Bolognian style: and it is this hoe and effect of colours which Ludovico Carracci seems to have endeavoured to produce, though he did not carry it to that perfection which we have seen since his time in the small works of the Dutch school, particularly Jan Steen, where art is completely concealed, and the painter, like a great orator, never draws the attention from the subject on himself.

• The last manner belongs properly to the ornamental style, which we call the Venecian, where it was first practised, but is perhaps better learned from Rubens. Here the brighteft colours possible are admitted, with the two extremes of warm and cold, and those reconciled by being dispersed over the picture, till the whole appears like a bunch of howers.

• As I have given in stences from the Dutch school, where the art of breaking colour may be learned, we may recommend here an artention to the works of Watıcau for excellence in this forid style of painting.

• To all these different manners, there are some general rules that muft never be neglected ; first, that the same colour, which makes the largest mass, be diffused, and appear to revive in different parts of the picture; for a single colour will make a spot or blot. Even the dispersed flesh colour, which the faces and hands make, require their principal mals, which is best produced by a naked figure; but where the subject will not allow of this, a drapery approaching to flesh-colour will answer the purpose ; as in the Transfiguration, where a woman is clothed in drapery of this colour, which makes a principal to all the heads and hands of the picture ; and, for the fake of barmony, the colours, however diflinguished in their light, should be nearly the same in their shadows, of a

simple unity of shade, “ As all were from one single pallette spread.” And to give the utmost force, Itrength, and folidity to your work, some part of the picture hould be as light, and some es dark as porfible; these two exiremes are then to be harmonized and reconciled to each other.

Jostances where both of them are used may be observed in two pi&tures of Rubens, which are equally eminent for the force and brilliancy of their effect : one is in the cabinet of the Duke of Rusland, and the other in the chapel of Rubens at Antwerp, which serves

8

23

as his monument. In both these pi&tures he has introduced a fe. male figure dressed in black fattin, the Madows of which are as dark as pure black, opposed to the contrary extreme of brightness, can make them.

• If to these different manners we add one more, that in which a Silver grey or pearly tint is predominant, I believe every kind of harmony that can be produced by colours will be comprehended. One of the greatest examples in this mode is the famous marriage at Cana, in St. George's church at Venice, where the sky, which makes a very considerable part of the picture, is of the lighiest blue colour, and the clouds persealy white; the selt of the picture is in the same key, wrought from this high pitch. We see likewise many pi&tores of Guido in this tint; and indeed those that are so are in his best manner. Female figures, angels, and children, were the subjects in which Guido more particularly succeeded ; and to such the cleanness and neatness of this lint perlearly corresponds, and contributes not a little to that exquisite beaviy and delicacy which so much diftin. guishes his works. To see this style in perfection, we must again have recourse to the Dutch school, parcicularly to the works of the younger Vandevelde, and the younger Teniers, whose pictures are valued by the connoisseurs in proportion as they postels this excellence of a silver ting. Which of these different styles ought to be preferred, so as to meet every man's idea, would be difficult to detera mine, from the predilection which every man has to that mode; which is practised by the school in which he has been educated; but If any pre-eminence is to be given, it must be so that manner which lands in the highett eitimation with mankind in general, and that is the Venetian, or rather the manner of Tician, wbich, fimply confidered as producing an effect of colours, will certainly eclipse with its splendor whatever is brought into competition with it. But, as I hinted before, if female delicacy and beauty be the principal object of the painter's aim, the purity and clearness of the cint of Guido will correspond better, and more contribute to produce ic than even the glowing tint of Titian.

• The rarity of excellence in any of these styles of colouring suficiently thews the difficulty of succeeding in them. It may be worth the aruill's attention, while he is in this pursuit, particularly to guard against those errors which seem to be annexed 10, or thinly divided from, their neighbouring excellence; thus, when he is endeavouring to acquire the Roman ftyle, without great care, he falls into a hard and dry manner. The flowery colouring is nearly allied to the gaudy effect of fan-painting. The fimplicity of the Bolognian style requires the nicell band to preserve it from insipidiiy. That of Tițian, which may be calied the Golden Manner, when unskilfully managed, becomes what the painters call Foxy; and the silver dege. nerates into the leaden and heavy manner. All of them, to be per feat in their way, will not bear any union with each other; if they are nor distinctly separated, the effect of the picture will be feeble and insipid, without any mark or distinguished character.'

In thus limiting the modes of reducing harmony of colours to three, it may probably be thought that too much is sacrificed to system, and that the painter is laid under an arbitrary and

unnecessary

unnecessary restriction. His province being to imitate nature, why is he not to avail himself of that variety which nature affords ? It is true that, in general nature, the predominant hues may in some degree be reduced within the limits prescribed. There are, notwithstanding, many fituations and subjects in which, when the painter comes to particulars, he may deviate from established modes, and yet preserve great harmony of colouring; and, indeed, so long as his archetype is in nature, che deviation may be justified upon principles of taste.

Besides the annotations of one of the first painters of the age, the translation is accompanied by Dryden's very entertaining preface to his translation, containing a parallel between poetry and painting-Fresnoy's sentiments on the works of the principal and best painters of the two last ages-Pope's epistle to Jervas, prefixed to Graham's edition of Dryden's translation -and a very useful chronological list of painters drawn up by the late Mr. Gray. Besides the purposes for which Mr. Gray intended it, this list may serve to refute a commonly received opinion, that the practice of painting is prejudicial to human life. . It appears, according to this lift, that the extent of a painter's life is upwards of fixty-one years-a term which few classes of people exceed.

The translation is introduced by a short poetical epiftle to Sir Joshua Reynolds, to whom the poet has transferred the com. pliments that Pope has lavished upon Jervas, who, as Mr. Maron has expressed it,

• knew a day
When mode-ftruck belles and beaux were proud to come,

And buy of him a thousand years of bloom.'
Alluding to this couplet of Pope's,

“ Beauty, frail Aower, that every reason fears

Blooms in thy colours for a thousand years." Whether Sir Joshua is intitled to this compliment, those who are conversant with his paintings will judge. How much is it to be regreted that an artist, whose works have almost every perfection but that of durability, should, from some ftrange unaccountable reason, or at least from no reason that is juftifiable, preposterously neglect to confer upon them so requifite a quality! To with-hold what may so reasonably be expected, and what might fo easily be bestowed, is little less than an infult on the patronage of the Public. Art, III. Obfervations on our Lord's Conduct as a Divine Instructor,

and on the Excellence of his moral Character. By William Newcombe, D. D. Bishop of Waterford. 4to.

16s. Boards. Robinson. 1782. HE learned and judicious Author prefaces this very useful work with a general account of his design, and pays a

suitable

TH

« AnteriorContinuar »