« ForrigeFortsett »
in those limited subjects, and peculiar forms, they introduce more or less of the expression of those passions, as they appear in general and more enlarged nature. This principle may be applied to the battle-pieces of Bourgognone, the French gallantries of Watteau, and even beyond the exhibition of animal life, to the landscapes of Claude Lorraine, and the sea-views of Vandervelde. All these painters have, in general, the same right, in different degrees, to the name of a painter, which a satirist, and epigrammatist, a sonnetteer, a writer of pastorals or descriptive poetry, has to that of a poet.
In the same rank, and perhaps of not so great merit, is the cold painter of portraits. But his, correct and just imitation of his object has its merit. Even the painter of still life, whose highest ambition is to give a minute representation of every part of those low objects which he sets before him, deserves praise in proportion to his attainment ; because no part of this excellent art, so much the ornament of polished life, is destitute of value and use. These, however, are by no means the views to which the mind of the student ought to be primarily directed. Having begun by aiming at better things, if from particular inclination, or from the taste of the times and place he lives in, or from necessity, or from failure in the highest attempts, he is obliged to descend lower, he will bring into the lower sphere of art a grandeur of composition and character, that will raise and ennoble his works far above their natural rank.
A man is not weak, though he may not be able to wield the club of Hercules ; nor does a man always practise that which he esteems the best; but does that which he can best do. In moderate attempts there are many walks open to the artist. But as the idea of beauty is of necessity but one, so there can be but one great mode of painting ; the leading principle of which I have endeavoured to explain.
I should be sorry, if what is here recommended, should be at all understood to countenance a careless or undetermined manner of painting. For though the painter is to overlook the accidental discriminations of nature, he is to exhibit distinctly, · and with precision, the general forms of things. A
firm and determined outline is one of the characteristics of the great style in painting; and let me add, that he who possesses the knowledge of the exact form which every part of nature ought to have, will be fond of expressing that knowledge with correctness and precision in all his works. · To conclude; I have endeavoured to reduce the idea of beauty to general principles : and I had the pleasure to observe that the Professor of Painting proceeded in the same method, when he showed you that the artifice of contrast was founded but on one principle. I am convinced that this is the only
means of advancing science; of clearing the mind Om n Babe Certid soapsurdefe
g uard ch, der liten
from a confused heap of contradictory observations, that do but perplex and puzzle the student, when he compares them, or misguide him if he gives himself up to their authority; bringing them under one general head, can alone give rest and satisfaction to an inquisitive mind.