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CHARLES ALPHONSE DU FRESNOY,
ON THE WORKS OF THE
PRINCIPAL AND BEST PAINTERS OF THE TWO
PAINTING was in its perfection amongst the Greeks. The principal schools were at Sycion, afterwards at Rhodes, at Athens, and at Corinth, and at last in Rome. Wars and luxury having overthrown the Roman Empire, it was totally extinguished, together with all the noble arts, the studies of humanity, and other sciences.
It began to appear again in the year 1450, amongst some painters of Florence, of which Domenico Ghirlandaio was one, who was master to Michel Angelo, and had some kind of reputation, though his manner was Gothic, and very dry.
Michel Angelo, his disciple, flourished in the times of Julius II. Leo X. and of seven successive popes. He was a painter, a sculptor, and an architect, both civil and military. The choice which he made of his attitudes was not always beautiful or pleasing ; his gusto of design was not the finest, nor his outlines the most elegant : the folds of his draperies, and the ornaments of his habits, were neither noble nor graceful. He was not a little fantastical or extravagant in his compositions; he was bold, even to rashness, in taking liberties against the rules of perspective; his colouring is not over true, or very pleasant: he knew not the artifice of light and shadow; but he designed more learnedly, and better understood all the knittings of the bones, and the office and situation of the muscles, than any of the modern painters. There appears a certain air of greatness and severity in his figures, in both which he has oftentimes succeeded. But above the rest of his excellencies, was his wonderful skill in architecture, wherein he has not only surpassed all the moderns, but even the ancients also; the St. Peter's of Rome, the St. John's of Florence, the Capitol, the Palazzo Farnese, and his own house are sufficient testimonies of it. His disciples were, Marcello Venusti, Il Rosso, Georgio Vasari, Fra. Bastiano (who commonly painted for him), and many other Florentines.
Pietro Perugino designed with sufficient knowledge of nature; but he is dry, and his manner little. His disciple was Raffaelle Sanzio, who, was born on Good-Friday, in the year 1483, and died on Good-Friday, in the year 1520; so that he lived only thirty-seven years complete. He surpassed all modern painters, because he possessed more of the excellent parts of painting than any other: and it is believed that he equalled the ancients, excepting only that he designed not naked bodies with so much learning as Michel Angelo ; but his gusto of design is purer and much better. He painted not with so good, so full, and so graceful a manner as Corregio: nor has he any thing of the contrast of light and shadow, or so strong and free a colouring as Titian ; but he had a better disposition in his pieces, without comparison, than either Titian, Corregio, Michel Angelo, or all the rest of the succeeding painters to our days. His choice of attitudes, of heads, of ornaments, the arrangement of his drapery, his manner of designing, his variety, his contrast, his expression were beautiful in perfection; but above all, he possessed the graces in soadvantageous ' a manner, that he has never since been equalled by any other. There are portraits (or single figures) of his, which are well executed. He was an admirable architect. He was handsome, well made, civil and good-natured, never refusing to teach another what he knew himself. He had many scholars : amongst others Giulio Romano, Polydore, Gaudenzio, Giovanni d'Udine, and Michael Coxis. His graver was Mark Antonio, whose prints are admirable for the correctness of their outlines. · Giulio Romano was the most excellent of all Raffaelle's disciples; he had conceptions which were more extraordinary, more profound, and more elevated than even his master himself: he was also a great architect; his gusto was pure and exquisite. He was a great imitator of the antients, giving a clear testimony in all his productions, that he was desirous to restore to practice the same forms and fabrics which were antient. He had the good fortune to find great persons, who committed to him the care of edifices, vestibules, and porticoes, all tetrastyles, sistes, theatres, and such other places as are now in use. He was wonderful in his choice of attitudes. His manner was drier and harder than any of Raffaelle's school. He did not exactly understand either light and shadow, or colouring. He is frequently harsh and ungraceful; the folds of þis draperies are neither beautiful nor great, easy nor natural, but all of them imaginary, and too like the habits of fantastical comedians. He was well versed in polite learning. His disciples were Pirro Ligorio, (who was admirable for antique buildings, as towns, temples, tombs, and trophies, and the situation of ancient edifices), Æneas Vico, Bonasone, Georgio Mantuano, and others.