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"The beauty of Jove is one, and that of Juno another: Hercules and Cupid are perfect beauties, though of different kinds; for beauty is only that which makes all things as they are in their proper and perfect nature, which the best Painters always choose, by contemplating the forms of each. We ought farther to consider, that a picture being the representation of a human action, the Painter ought to retain in his mind the examples of all affections and passions; as a Poet preserves the idea of an angry man, of one who is fearful, sad, or merry; and so of all the rest for it is impossible to express that with the hand, which never entered into the imagination. In this manner, as I have rudely and briefly shewn you, Painters and Sculptors choosing the most elegant, natural beauties, perfectionate the Idea, and advance their art, even above Nature itself, in her individual productions, which is the utmost mastery of human performance.
"From hence arises that astonishment, and almost adoration, which is paid by the knowing to those divine remains of anti
quity. From hence Phidias, Lysippus, and other noble Sculptors, are still held in veneration; and Apelles, Zeuxis, Protogenes, and other admirable Painters, though their works are perished, are and will be eternally admired; who all of them drew after the ideas of perfection; which are the miracles of Nature, the providence of the understanding, the exemplars of the Mind, the light of the Fancy; the sun, which, from its rising, inspired the statue of Memnon, and the fire which warmed into life the image of Prometheus: it is this which causes the Graces and the Loves to take up their habitations in the hardest marble, and to subsist in the emptiness of light and shadows. But since the Idea of Eloquence is as inferior to that of Painting, as the force of words is to the sight, I must here break off abruptly; and having conducted the reader, as it were, to a secret walk, there leave him in the midst of silence to contemplate those ideas which I have only sketched, and which every man must finish for himself.”
In these pompous expressions, or such as these, the Italian has given you his idea of
a Painter; and tho' I cannot much commend the style, I must needs say, there is somewhat in the matter: Plato himself is accustomed to write loftily, imitating, as the critics tell us, the manner of Homer; but, surely, that inimitable Poet had not so much of smoke in his writings, though not less of fire. But in fhort, this is the present genius of Italy. What Philostratus tells us, in the proem of his Figures, is somewhat plainer, and therefore I will translate it almost word for word: "He who will rightly govern the Art of Painting, ought, of necessity, first to understand human Nature. He ought likewise to be endued with a genius, to express the signs of their passions whom he represents, and to make the dumb as it were to speak he must yet further understand what is contained in the constitution of the cheeks, in the temperament of the eyes, in the naturalness (if I may so call it) of the eye-brows; and in short, whatsoever belongs to the mind and thought. He who thoroughly possesses all these things, will obtain the whole, and the hand will exquisitely represent the action of every particular
person; if it happens that he be either mad or angry, melancholic or chearful, a sprightly youth, or a languishing lover: in one word, he will be able to paint whatsoever is proportionable to any one. And even in all this there is a sweet error without causing any shame for the eyes and mind of the beholders being fastened on objects which have no real being, as if they were truly existent, and being induced by them to believe them so, what pleasure is it not capable of giving? The antients, and other wise men, have written many things concerning the symmetry, which is in the art of Painting; constituting as it were some certain laws for the proportion of every member; not thinking it possible for a Painter to undertake the expression of those motions which are in the mind, without a concurrent harmony in the natural measure: for that which is out of its own kind and measure, is not received from Nature, whose motion is always right. On a serious consideration of this matter, it will be found, that the Art of Painting has a wonderful affinity with that of Poetry, and there is be
twixt them a certain common imagination. For, as the Poets introduce the Gods and Heroes, and all those things which are either majestical, honest, or delightful; in like manner, the Painters, by the virtue of their outlines, colours, lights, and shadows, represent the same things and persons in their pictures."
Thus, as convoy ships either accompany, or should accompany their merchants, till they may prosecute the rest of their voyage without danger; so Philostratus has brought me thus far on my way, and I can now sail on without him. He has begun to speak of great relation betwixt Painting and Poetry, and thither the greatest part of this discourse, by my promise, was directed. I have not engaged myself to any perfect method, neither am I loaded with a full cargo: it is sufficient if I bring a sample of some goods in this voyage. It will be easy for others to add more, when the commerce is settled: for a treatise, twice as large as this, of Painting, could not contain all that might be said on the parallel of these two Sister-Arts. I will take my rise from Bellori before I proceed to the Author of this Book.