Imágenes de páginas

ture in any individual person makes nothing that is perfect in all its parts. For this reason Maximus Tyrius also says, that the image which is taken by a Painter from several bodies, produces a beauty, which it is impossible to find in any single natural body, approaching to the perfection of the fairest statues. Thus Nature, on this account, is so much inferior to Art, that those Artists who propose to themselves only the imitation or likeness of such or such a particular person, without election of those ideas before ́mentioned, have often been reproached for that omission. Demetrius was taxed for being too natural; Dionysius was also blamed for drawing men like us, and was commonly called 'Argwπoygaqos, that is, a Painter of Men. In our times, Michael Angelo da Caravaggio was esteemed too natural: he drew persons as they were; and Bamboccio, and most of the Dutch Painters, have drawn the worst likeness. Lysippus, of old, upbraided the common sort of Sculptors for making men such as they were found in Nature; and boasted of himself, that he made them as they ought to

be; which is a precept of Aristotle, given as well to Poets as to Painters. Phidias raised an admiration even to astonishment, in those who beheld his statues, with the forms which he gave to his Gods and Heroes, by imitating the Idea, rather than Nature; and Cicero, speaking of him, affirms, that figuring Jupiter and Pallas, he did not contemplate any object from whence he took any likeness, but considered in his own mind a great and admirable form of beauty, and according to that image in his soul, he directed the operation of his hand. Seneca also seems to wonder that Phidias, having never beheld either Jove or Pallas, yet could conceive their divine images in his mind. Apollonius Tyanæus says the same in other words, that the Fancy more instructs the Painter than the Imitation; for the last makes only the things which it sees, but the first makes also the things which it

never sees.

"Leon Battista Alberti tells us, that we ought not so much to love the Likeness as the Beauty, and to choose from the fairest bodies severally the fairest parts. Leonardo


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da Vinci instructs the Painter to form this idea to himself; and Raffaelle, the greatest of all modern Masters, writes thus to Castiglione, concerning his Galatea : • To paint a fair one, it is necessary for me to see many fair ones; but because there is so great a scarcity of lovely women, I am constrained to make use of one certain Idea, which 'I have formed to myself in my own fancy.' Guido Reni sending to Rome his St. Michael, which he had painted for the Church of the Capuchins, at the same time wrote to Monsignor Massano, who was the maestro di casa (or steward of the house) to Pope Urban VIII. in this manner:


I wish I had had the wings of an angel, to have ascended into Paradise, and there

· to have beheld the forms of those beatified spirits, from which I might have copied

my Archangel: but not being able to ⚫ mount so high, it was in vain for me to search his resemblance here below; so

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that I was forced to make an introspection into my own mind, and into that Idea of Beauty, which I have formed in my own • imagination. I have likewise created

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there the contrary Idea of Deformity and Ugliness; but I leave the consideration of ⚫ it till I paint the Devil, and, in the mean ⚫ time shun the very thought of it as much as

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possibly I can, and am even endeavouring ⚫ to blot it wholly out of my remembrance." There was not any lady in all antiquity who was mistress of so much beauty, as was to be found in the Venus of Gnidus, made by Praxiteles, or the Minerva of Athens, by Phidias, which was therefore called the Beautiful Form. Neither is there any man of the present age equal in the strength, proportion, and knitting of his limbs, to the Hercules of Farnese, made by Glycon; or any woman who can justly be compared with the Medicean Venus of Cleomenes. And upon this account the noblest Poets and the best Orators, when they desired to celebrate any extraordinary beauty, are forced to have recourse to statues and pictures, and to draw their persons and faces into comparison: Ovid, endeavouring to express the beauty of Cyllarus, the fairest of the Centaurs, celebrates him as next in perfection to the most admirable statues :

Gratus in ore vigor, cervix, humerique, manusque, Pectoraque, artificum laudatis proxima signis.

A pleasing vigour his fair face express'd;
His neck, his hands, his shoulders, and his breast,
Did next in gracefulness and beauty stand,
To breathing figures of the Sculptor's hand.

In another place he sets Apelles above Venus:

Si Venerem Cois nunquam pinxisset Apelles,
Mersa sub æquoreis illa lateret aquis.

Thus varied.

One birth to seas the Cyprian Goddess ow'd,
A second birth the Painter's art bestow'd:
Less by the seas than by his pow'r was giv'n;
They made her live, but he advanc'd to heav'n.

"The Idea of this Beauty is indeed various, according to the several forms which the Painter or Sculptor would describe: as one in strength, another in magnanimity; and sometimes it consists in cheerfulness, and sometimes in delicacy, and is always diversified by the sex and age.

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