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before him, not only acquires a habit of exactness and precision, but is continually advancing in his knowledge of the human figure ; and though he seems to superficial observers to make a slower progress, he will be found at last capable of adding (without running into capricious wildness) that grace and beauty, which is necessary to be given to his more finished works, and which cannot be got by the moderns, as it was not acquired by the ancients, but by an attentive and well compared study of the human form.
What I think ought to enforce this method is, that it has been the practice (as may
be seen by their drawings) of the great Masters in the Art. I will mention a drawing of Raffaelle, The Dispute of the Sacrament, the print of which, by Count Cailus, is in every hand. It appears, that he made his sketch from one model ; and the habit he had of drawing exactly from the form before him appears by his making all the figures with the same cap, such as his model then happened to wear; so servile a copyist was this great man, even at a time when he was allowed to be at his highest pitch of excellence.
I have seen also Academy figures. by Annibale Caracci, though he was often sufficiently licentious in his finished works, dràwn with all the peculiarities of an individual model.
This scrupulous exactness is so contrary to the practice of the Academies, that it is not without great deference, that I beg leave to recommend it to the consideration of the Visitors ; and submit to them, whether the neglect of this method is not one of the reasons why Students so often disappoint expectation, and, being more than boys at sixteen, become less than men at thirty.
In short, the method I recommend can only be detrimental where there are but few living forms to copy; for then Students, by always drawing from one alone, will by habit be taught to overlook defects, and mistake deformity for beauty. But of this there is no danger ; since the Council has determined to supply the Academy with a variety of subjects; and indeed those laws which they have drawn up, and which the Secretary will presently read for your confirmation, have in some measure precluded me from saying more upon this occasion. Instead, therefore, of offering my advice, permit me to indulge my wishes, and express my hope, that this institution may answer the expectation of its Royal Foun
DER ; that the present age may vie in Arts V with that of LEO the Tenth ; and that the
dignity of the dying Art (to make use of an expression of Pliny) may be revived under the Reign of GEORGE THE THIRD.
DELIVERED TO THE STUDENTS OF
THE ROYAL ACADEMY,
DISTRIBUTION OF THE PRIZES,
DECEMBER 11, 1769.