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had merited so well of the university, by shewing how honourably and profitably to literature and mankind a college life may be spent*.'
Thomas WARTON was an amiable, but eccentric character, and his manners and external appearance were more uncultivated than those of his brother. He had contracted many peculiarities in a life of college retirement, which did not harmonize with the refinements of polished, society; and he is even said to have preferred low company before that of his equals. But he was a man of noble principles, and a proud spirit of independence; and as a scholar, a critic, and a poet, he will long be remembered with respect, and read with pleasure. In the two first of these departments, he is to be numbered inter primos ; but as a poet, his rank is only secondary. He was long the familiar friend of Dr. JOHNSON and Sir Joshua REYNOLDS, and was a member of the Literary Club established by the great Goliath.
We are now to take some notice of Sir JoSHUA REYNOLDS himself, who has honoured the IDLER with three contributions, all on subjects connected with his immortal art. This elegant scholar and most distinguished artist was born at Plympton, in Devonshire, on the 16th of July, 1723. His father, the Rev. SAMUEL REYNOLDS, was master of the free-school in that town, and Joshua was the youngest of ten children. His taste for draw
ing was manifested at an early age, by copy, ing the prints in his father's books; and a treatise on the art, entitled the “Jesuit's Perspective,' happening to fall into his hands, he made himself master of it while yet quite a boy. Such a passionate propensity indicated its own direction; and his father, determined to give him every chance, placed him at seventeen under the tuition of Mr. HUDSON, an eminent portrait painter in London. HUDSON, though at the top of his profession, was but an indifferent artist, whose chief excellence lay in hitting off a lineamental likeness, without any pretension to the finer felicities of composition.
Young REYNOLDS continued with HUDSON a few years, applying himself diligently to the mechanical and rudimental rules of the art; but, on a sudden disagreement, left him abruptly and returned to Devonshire.
Here, without any determinate plan, he followed the bent of his own genius for three years, and produced many compositions which would not discredit his maturer powers. During this time, he was making many friends, both in London and Devonshire. În 1749, he accepted the invitation of Captain, afterwards Lord KEPPEL, to accompany him on a cruise in the Mediterranean; and at the close of that
year, visited Leghorn, Rome, and other of the principal towns of Italy,—residing upon the Peninsula nearly three years. He studied the works of the great masters by'a critical perusal, and deep meditation upon their beauties; and assimilated their conceptions to himself, rather by intuition than imitation. His mind perpetually panted after the effect, but his hand disdained to be servile. In 1752, he returned to London, and executed a whole length portrait of Captain Keppel which placed him at the head of his profession.
Mr. REYNOLDS occupied no intermediate station: he rose at once to be the first among the English artists, and not only became the first, but left all his contemporaries at an immeasurable distance beneath him. On the institution of the Royal Academy of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, in 1769, Mr. REYNOLDS was unanimously chosen president, and on this occasion received the honour of knighthood from GEORGE III. From this chair, which he filled with so much honour to himself and advantage to the rising generation, he delivered annual and sometimes biennial discourses before the academy, elucidating the principles, and illustrative of the practice, of painting. Of these he pronounced fifteen, during his incumbency at Somerset-house; the last of which was delivered in 1790*.
*“Much praise, says Mr. Boswell, is due to these excellent discourses, which are so universally admired, and for which the author received from the Empress of Russia a gor. snuffbox, adorned with her profile in bas relief, set in diamonds; and containing what is infinitely more valuable a slip of paper, on which are written with her Imperial Majesty's own hand the following words : · Pour le Chevalier Reynolds en témoignage du contentement que j'ai ressentie à la lecture de ses excellens discours sur la peinture.' The word ' ressentie,' as it is spelt here, is a violation of grammar : it ought to agree with contentement,' which is masculine, and should consequently be ressenti:' but whether the inaccuracy be with CATHARINB or BOSWELL, parim refert." -Ed.
The great emoluments which Sir JOSHUA derived from the exercise of his art, and the double circumstance of personal popularity blended with pictorial supremacy, enabled him to live in a style of the first elegance and splendour. He died unmarried, on the 23d of February, 1792, of a complaint in the liver, which had long been making an unsuspected inroad'; having experienced a partial paralysis about three years before, which deprived him of the sight of his left eye. He left a large property, which devolved principally to a niece married to the Earl of INCHIQUIN.
The papers by Sir JoshuA REYNOLDS in the Idler, are No. 76, on false criticisms on painting; No. 79, on the grand style of painting; and No. 82, on the true idea of beauty. Of this last, Mr. Boswell informs us that the concluding words, and pollute_his canvas with deformity,' are Johnson's. These essays were the first literary productions of Sir Joshua, and have been subsequently incorporated into his works by Mr. MALONE. They are a pleasing earnest of the talent which he afterwards developed, and display a luminous perception of the principles which can alone conduce to pictorial excellence.
When the first volume of the · Discourses to the Royal Academy' appeared in 1778, Mr. Boswell tells us that JOHNSON expressed great satisfaction, for he was always accustomed to consider REYNOLDS as belonging to his literary school. In what light Sir Joshua regarded Johnson, will best appear from his
own language in a discourse intended to be pronounced before the academy, but which he did not live to complete. He is speaking of his own discourses : • Whatever merit lhey have, must be imputed, in a great measure, to the education which I may be said to have had under Dr. Johnson. do not mean to say, though it certainly would be to the credit of these discourses, if I could say it with truth, that he contributed even a single sentiment to them : but he qualified my mind to think justly. No man had, like him, the faculty of teaching inferior minds the art of thinking. Perhaps other 'men might have equal knowledge, but few were so communicative. His great pleasure was to talk to those who looked
It was here he exhibited his wonderful powers. In mixed company, and frequently in company that'ought to have looked up to him, many, thinking they had a character for learning to support, considered it as beneath them to enlist in the train of his 'auditors : and to such persons he certainly did not appear to advantage, being often impetuous and overbearing. The desire of shining in conversation was in him indeed a predominant passion; and if it must be attributed to vanity, let it at the same time be recollected, that it produced that loquaciousness from which his more intimate friends derived considerable advantage. The observations which he made on poetry, on life, and on every thing about us, I applied to our art, with what success others must judge.'
up to him.