« ForrigeFortsett »
Thus again, we recommend to paint soft and tender to make a harmony and union of colouring ; and for this end, that all the shadows shall be nearly of the same colour. The reason of these precepts being at all enforced, proceeds from the disposition which artists have to paint harder than nature, to make the outline more cutting against the ground, and to have less harmony and union than is found in nature, preserving the same brightness of colour in the shadows as are seen in the lights : both these false manners of representing nature were the practice of the painters when the art was in its infancy, and would be the practice now of every student who was left to himself, and had never been taught the art of seeing nature.
There are other rules which may be said not so much to relate to the objects represented as to the eye; but the truth of these are as much fixed in nature as the others, and proceed from the necessity there is that the work should be seen with ease and satisfaction: to this end are all the rules that relate to grouping and the disposition of light and shade.
With regard to precepts about moderation and avoiding extremes, little is to be drawn from then. The rule would be too minute that had any exactness at all : a multiplicity of exceptions would arise, so that the teacher would be for ever saying too much, and yet never enough. When a student is instructed to mark with precision every part of his figure, whether it be naked, or in drapery, he probably becomes hard ; if, on the contrary, he is told to paint in the most tender manner, possibly he becomes insipid. But among extremes some are more tolerable than others; of the two extremes I have just mentioned, the hard manner is the most pardonable, carrying with it an air of learning, as if the artist knew with precision the true form of nature, though he had rendered it with too heavy a hand.
In every part of the human figure, when not spoiled by too great corpulency, will be found this distinctness, the parts never appearing uncertain or confused, or, as a musician would say, slurred; and all those smaller parts which are comprehended in the larger compartment are still to be there, however tenderly marked.
To conclude. In all minute, detailed, and practical excellence, general precepts must be either deficient or unnecessary : for the rule is not known, nor is it indeed to any purpose a rule, if it be necessary to inculcate it on every occasion. R.
NOTE LVII. VERSE 772. Whence Art, by practice, to perfection soars. After this the Poet says, that he passes over in silence many things which will be more amply treated in his commentary.
“ Multa supersileo quæ Commentaria dicent." . VOL. III.
But as he never lived to write that Commentary, his translator has taken the liberty to pass over this line in silence also.
NOTE LVIII. VERSE 776. What time the pride of Bourbon urg'd his way, &c.
Du Piles, and after bim Dryden, call this hero Louis XIII. but the later French Editor, whom I have before quoted, will needs have him to be the XIV. His note is as follows : “ At the accession of Louis XIV. Du Fresnoy had been ten years at Rome, therefore the epoch, marked by the poet, falls probably upon the first years of that Prince; tliat is to say, upon the years 1643 or 1644. The thunders which he darts on the Alps, allude to the successes of our arms in the Milanese and in Piedmont: and the Alcides, who is born again in France for the defence of his country, is the conqueror of Rocroy, the young Duke of Anguien, afterwards called Le Grand Condé.” I am apt to suspect that all this fine criticism is false, though I do not think it worth while to controvert it. Whether the poet meant to compliment Louis XIII. or the little boy that succeeded him, (for he was only six years old in the year 1644,) he was guilty of gross flattery. It is impossible, however, from the construction of the sentence, that Lodovicus Borbonidum Decus, and Gallicus Alcides, could mean any more than one identical person ; and conse
quently the Editor's notion concerning the Grand Condé is indisputably false. I have, therefore, taken the whole passage in the same sense that Du Piles did: and have also, like him, used the Poet's phrase of the Spanish Lion, in the concluding line, rather than that of the Spanish Geryon, to which Mr. Dryden has transformed him: His reason, I suppose, for doing this was, that the monster Geryon was of Spanish extraction, and the Nemean Lion, which Hercules killed, was of Peloponnesus; but we are told by Martial,* that there was a fountain in Spain called Nemea, which, perhaps, led Fresnoy astray in this passage. However this be, Hercules killed so many lions, besides that which constituted the first of his twelve labours, that either he, or at least some one of his namesakes, may well be supposed to have killed one in Spain. Geryon is described by all the Poets as a man with three heads, and therefore could not well have been called a lion by Fresnoy, neither does the plural Ora mean any more than the Jaws of a single beast. So Lucan, lib. iv. ver. 739.
Quippe ubi non sonipes motus clangore tubarum
* Avidem rigens Dircenna placabit sitim
Mart. lib. i. Epig. 50, de Hipso, toc. M.
164 NOTES ON THE ART OF PAINTING.
NOTE LIX. VERSE 785. But mark the Proteus-policy of State. If this translation should live as many years as the original has done already, which by its being printed with that original, and illustrated by such a commentator, is a thing not impossible, it may not be amiss, in order to prevent an hallucination of some future critic, similar to that of the French Editor, mentioned in the last note, to conclude with a memorandum that the translation was finished, and these occasional verses added, in the year 1781; leaving, however, the political sentiments which they express, to be approved or condemned by him, as the annals of the time (written at a period distant enough for history to become impartial) may determine his judgment.
THE END OF THE NOTES.