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M, LE CHANOINE VAN PARYS,
A portrait of Helena Forman (kitcat), by Rubens; it is beautifully coloured, but a painter would say tamely painted, from the long-continued lines of the eyes and mouth: this, however, appears only on a close inspection : for at a distance it seems per: fectly well drawn, and an animated countenance; the hands are across, or rather one over the other, finely coloured and drawn; the ends of the fingers a little too thick for a fine hand: she is dressed in black, with slashed sleeves.
THE CABINET OF M. DIRXENS.
Judas betraying Christ, by Vandyck : it is in his first manner, but not equal to others which I have seen of that age; the colouring is disagreeable, from being too red.
AT MADAM BOSCHAERT's,
The Rape of the Sabines, by Rubens, is finely coloured, and well composed. This picture is to be sold, if any body chooses to give for it 22,000 guilders, about two thousand two hundred pounds.
Taking leave of Flanders, we bade adieu at the same time to History Painting. Pictures are no longer the ornament of churches, and perhaps for that reason no longer the ornament of private houses. We naturally acquire a taste for what we have frequently before our eyes. No great historical picture is put up, which excites the curiosity of the town to see, and tempts the opulent to procure as an ornament to his own house: nothing of this kind being seen, historical paintings are not thought of, and go out of fashion ; and the genius of the country, which, if room were given it, would expand itself, is exercised in small curious high-finished cabinet pictures.
It is a circumstance to be regretted, by painters at least, that the Protestant countries have thought proper to exclude pictures from their churches : how far this circumstance may be the cause that no Protestant country has ever produced a history-painter, may be wortby of consideration.
When we separated from the church of Rome, many customs, indifferent in themselves, were considered as wrong, for no other reason, perhaps, but because they were adopted by the communion from which we separated. Among the excesses which this sentiment produced, may be reckoned the impolitic exclusion of all ornaments from our churches. The violence and acrimony with which the separation was made, being now at an end, it is high time to assume that reason of which our zeal seemed to have bereaved us. Why religion should not appear pleasing and amiable in its appendages; why the House of God should not appear as well ornamented, and as costly as any private house made for man, no good reason I believe can be assigned. This truth is acknowledged, in regard to the external building, in Protestant as well as in Roman Catholic countries : churches are always the most inagnificent edifices in every city : and why the inside should not correspond with its exterior, in this and every other Protestant country, it would be difficult for Protestants to state any reasonable
Many other causes have been assigned, why history-painting has never flourished in this country; but with such a reason at hand we need not look farther. Let there be huyers, who are the true Mæcenases, and we shall soon see sellers, vying with each other in the variety and excellence of their works. To those who think that wherever genius is, it must, like fire, blaze out, this argument is not addressed; but those who consider it not as a gift, but a power acquired by long labour and study, should reflect that no man is likely to undergo the fatigue required to carry any art to any degree of excellence, to which, after he has done, the world is likely to pay no attention,
Sculpture languishes for the same reason, being not with us made subservient to our religion, as it is with the Roman Catholics. Almost the only demand for considerable works of sculpture arises from the monuments erected to eminent men. It is to be regretted that this circumstance does not produce such an advantage to the art as it might do, if, instead of Westminster-Abbey, the custom were once begun of having monuments to departed worth erected in St. Paul's Cathedral. Westminster-Abbey is already full: and if the House of Commons should vote another monument at the public expense, there is no place, no proper place certainly, in the Abbey, in which it can be placed. Those which have been lately erected, are so stuck up in odd holes and corners, that it begins to appear truly ridiculous: the principal places have been long occupied, and the difficulty of finding a new nook or corner every year increases. While this gothic structure is encumbered and overloaded with ornaments, which have no agreement or correspondence with the taste and style of the building, St. Paul's looks forlorn and desolate, or at least destitute of ornaments suited to the magnificence of the fabric. There are places designed by Sir Christopher Wren for monuments, which might become a noble ornament to the building, if properly adapted to their situations. Some parts might contain busts, some single figures, some groups of figures, some bas-reliefs, and some tablets with inscriptions only, according to the expense intended by him who should cause the monument to be erected. All this might be done under the direction of the Royal Academy, who should determine the size of the figures, and where they should be placed, so as to be ornamental to the building. *
Passing by Dort, Rotterdam, and Delft, where we saw no pictures, we proceeded to the Hague. The principal collection here is in the gallery of the Prince of Orange, in which are many excellent pictures, principally of the Dutch school.
GALLERY OF THE PRINCE OF ORANGE.
Here are many of the best works of Wouvermans, whose pictures are well worthy the attention and close examination of a painter. One of the most remarkable of them is known by the name of the hay-cart: another in which there is a coach and horses, is equally excellent. There are three
Our author considered the plan which he has here sketched, as likely to be extremely beneficial to the arts, and was so desirous that it should be carried iuto execu. tion, that after it had been determined to erect a monument to Dr. Johnson in Westminster-Abbey, and a place had been assigned for that purpose, he exerted all his influence with his friends, to induce them to relinquish the scheme proposed, and to consent that the monument of that excellent man should be erected in St. Paul's; where it has since been placed.--In conformity with these sentiments, our author was buried in that cathedral; in which, I trust, monuments to him, and to his illustrious friend, Mr. Burke, will ere long be erected. M.