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the scuptor's art is not unlike that of dancing, where the attention of the spectator is principally engaged by the attitude and action of the performer, and it is there he must look for whatever expression that art is capable of exhibiting. The dancers themselves acknowledge this, by often wearing masks, with little diminution in the expression. The face bears so very inconsiderable a proportion to the effect of the whole figure, that the ancient sculptors neglected to animate the features, even with the general expression of the passions. Of this the group of the Boxers is a remarkable instance; they are engaged in the most animated action with the greatest serenity of countenance, This is not recommended for imitation (for there can be no reason why the countenance should not correspond with the attitude and expression of the figure), but is mentioned in order to infer from hence that this frequent deficiency in ancient sculpture could proceed from nothing but a habit of inattention to what was considered as comparatively immaterial.
Those who think sculpture can express more than we have allowed, may ask, by what means 'we discover, at the first glance, the character that is represented in a bust, cameo, or intaglio ? I suspect it will be found, on close examination, by him who is resolved not to see more than he really does see, that the figures are distinguished by their insignia more than by any variety of form or beauty. Take from
Apollo his lyre, from Bacchus his thirsus and vineleaves, and from Meleager the boar's head, and there will remain little or no difference in their characters. In a Juno, Minerva, or Flora, the idea of the artist seems to have gone no further than representing perfect beauty, and afterwards adding the proper attributes, with a total indifference to which they gave them. Thus John de Bologna, after he had finished a group of a young man holding up a young woman in his arms, with an old man at his feet, called his friends together, to tell him what name he should give it, and it was agreed to call it the rape of the Sabines* ; and this is the celebrated group which now stands before the old palace at Florence. The figures have the same general expression which is to be found in most of the antique sculpture; and yet it would be no wonder if future critics should find out delicacy of expression which was never intended ? and go so far as to see in the old man's countenance, the exact relation which he bore to the woman who appears to be taken from him.
Though painting and sculpture are, like many other arts, governed by the same general principles, yet in the detail, or what may be called the bylaws of each art, there seems to be no longer any connection between them. The different materials upon which those two arts exert their powers, must infallibly create a proportional difference in their
* See Il Reposo di Raffaelle Borghini,
practice. There are many petty excellencies which the painter attains with ease, but which are impracticable in sculpture ; and which, even if it could accomplish them, would add nothing to the true value and dignity of the work. · Of the ineffectual attempts which the modern sculptors have made by way of improvement, these seem to be the principal; The practice of detaching drapery from the figure, in order to give the appearance of flying in the air ;
Of making different plans in the same basrelievos;
Of attempting to represent the effects of perspective :
To these we may add, the ill effect of figures clothed in a modern dress. · The folly of attempting to make stone sport and flutter in the air, is so apparent, that it carries with it its own reprehension; and yet to accomplish this, seemed to be the great ambition of many modern sculptors, particularly Bernini : his heart was so much set on overcoming this difficulty, that he was for ever attempting it, though by that attempt he risked every thing that was valuable in the art. · Bernini stands in the first class of modern sculptors, and therefore it is the business of criticism to prevent the ill effects of so powerful an example. : From his very early work of Apollo and Daphne, the world justly expecte dhe would rival the best productions of ancient Greece; but he
soon strayed from the right path. And though there is in his works something which always distinguishes him from the common herd, yet he appears in his latter performances to have lost his way. Instead of pursuing the study of that ideal beauty with which he had so successfully begun, he turned his mind to an injudicious quest of novelty, attempted what was not within the province of the art, and endeavoured to overcome the hardness and obstinacy of his materials; which even supposing he had accomplished, so far as to make this species of drapery appear natural, the ill effect and confusion occasioned by its being detached from the figure to which it belongs, ought to have been alone a sufficient reason to have deterred him from that practice.
We have not, I think, in our academy, any of Bernini's works, except a cast of the head of his Neptune* ; this will be sufficient to serve us for an example of the mischief produced by this attempt of representing the effects of the wind. The locks of the hair are flying abroad in all directions, insomuch that it is not a superficial view that can discover what the object is which is represented, or distinguish those flying locks from the features, as
* Some years after this Discourse was written, Bernini's NEPTUNE was pnrchased for our author at Rome, and brought to England. After his death it was sold by his execators for 5001. to Charles Anderson Pelham, Esq. uow Lord Yarborough. M.
they are all of the same colour, of equal solidity, and consequently project with equal force.
The same entangled confusion which is here occasioned by the hair, is produced by drapery flying off; which the eye must, for the same reason, inevitably mingle and confound with the principal parts of the figure.
It is a general rule, equally true in both arts, that the form and attitude of the figure should be seen clearly, and without any ambiguity, at the first glance of the eye. This the painter can easily do by colour, by losing parts in the ground, or keeping them so obscure as to prevent them from interfering with the more principal objects. The sculptor has no other means of preventing this con: fusion than by attaching the drapery for the greater part close to the figure; the folds of which, following the order of the limbs, whenever the drapery is seen, the eye is led to trace the form and attitude of the figure at the same time.
The drapery of the Apollo, though it makes a large mass, and is separated from the figure, does not affect the present question, from the very circumstance of its being so completely separated; and from the regularity and simplicity of its form, it does not in the least interfere with a distinct view of the figure. In reality, it is no more a part of it than a pedestal, a trunk of a tree, or an animal, which we often see joined to statues. .
. The principal use of those appendages is to