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The rarity of excellence in any of these styles of colouring sufficiently shows the difficulty of succeeding in them. It may be worth the artist's attention, while he is in this pursuit, particularly to guard against those errors which seem to be annexed to or divided by thin partitions from their neighbouring excellence. Thus when he is endeavouring to acquire the Roman style, if he is not extremely careful, he falls into a hard and dry manner. The flowery colouring is nearly allied to the gaudy effect of fan-painting. The simplicity of the Bolognian style requires the nicest hand to preserve it from insipidity. That of Titian, which may be called the golden manner, when unskilfully managed, becomes what the painters call foxy; and the silver degenerates into the leaden and heavy manner. None of them, to be perfect in their way, will bear any union with each other: if they are not distinctly separated, the effect of the picture will be feeble and insipid, without any mark or distinguished character.
NOTE XLIV. VERSE 537.
On that high finish'd form let paint bestow
Her midnight shadow, her meridian glow. It is indeed a rule adopted by many painters, to admit in no part of the back-ground, or on any object in the picture, shadows of equal strength with those which are employed on the principal figure; but this produces a false representation. With deference to our author, to bave the strong light and shadow there alone, is not to produce the best natural effect: nor is it authorised by the practice of those painters who are most distinguished for harmony of colouring : a conduct therefore, totally contrary to this is absolutely necessary, that the same strength, the same tone of colour, should be diffused over the whole picture.
I am no enemy to dark shadows. The general deficiency to be observed in the works of the painters of the last age, as well as indeed of many of the present, is a feebleness of effect; they seem to be too much afraid of those midnight shadows, which alone give the power of nature, and without which a picture will appear like one wholly wanting solidity and strength. The lightest and gayest style requires this foil to give it force and brilliancy.
There is another fault prevalent in the modern painters,—the predominance of a grey leaden colour over the whole picture : this is more particularly to be remarked when their works hang in the same room with pictures well and powerfully coloured. These two deficiencies, the want of strength, and the want of mellowness or warmth, are often imputed to the want of materials: as if we had not such good colours as those painters whose works we so much admire!
NOTE XLV. VERSE 579.
His destin'd work, Those masters are the best models to begin with, who have the fewest faults, and who are the most regular in the conduct of their work. The first studies ought rather to be made on their performances than on the productions of eccentric genius : where striking beauties are mixed with great defects, the student will be in danger of mistaking blemishes for beauties, and perhaps the beauties may be such as he is not advanced enough to attempt.
NOTE XLVI. VERSE 584.
his erroneous lines
Which life's best length shall fail to purge away. Taste will be unavoidably regulated by what is continually before the eyes. It were therefore well if young students could be debarred the sight of any works that were not free from gross faults, till they had well formed, and, as I may say, hardened their judgment: they might then be permitted to look about them, not only without fear of vitiating their taste, but even with advantage ; and would often find great ingenuity and extraordinary
invention in works which are under the influence of a bad taste.
NOTE XLVII. Verse 601.
This appearance of ease and facility may be called the grace or genius of the mechanical or executive part of the art. There is undoubtedly something fascinating in seeing that done with careless ease, which others do with laborious difficulty: the spectator unavoidably, by a kind of natural instinct, feels that general animation with which the hand of the artist seems to be inspired. - Of all painters Rubens appears to claim the first rank for facility, both in the invention and in the execution of his work; it makes so great a part of his excellence, that if we take it away, half at least of his reputation will go with it.
- NOTE XLVIII. VERSE 617. The eye each obvious error swift descries ;
Hold then the compass only in the eyes. · A painter who relies on his compass, leans on a prop which will not support him : there are few parts of his figures but what are fore-shortened more or less, and cannot, therefore, be drawn or corrected by measures. Though he begins his
studies with the compass in his hand, as we learn a dead language by grammar, yet, after a certain time, they are both flung aside, and in their place a kind of mechanical correctness of the eye and ear is substituted, which operates without any conscious effort of the mind.
NOTE XLIX. VERSE 619.
Give to the dictates of the learn'd respect.
There are few spectators of a painter's work, learned or unlearned, who, if they can be induced to speak their real sensations, would not be profitable to the artist. The only opinions of which no use can be made, are those half-learned connoisseurs, who have quitted nature and have not ac. quired art. That same sagacity which makes a man excel in his profession must assist him in the proper use to be made of the judgment of the learned, and the opinions of the vulgar. Of many things the vulgar are as competent judges as the most learned connoisseur ; of the portrait, for instance, of an animal; or, perhaps, of the truth of the representations of some vulgar passions.
It must be expected that the untaught vulgar will carry with them the same want of right taste in the judgment they make of the effect or character in a picture as they do in life, and prefer a strutting figure and gaudy colours to the grandeur