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tores, to the cheap expedient of abstaining from colours, and painting in white and black, was at last forced to give
painting clean over,” and to seek a pious asylam from beggary, in the church. It appears, that Queen Elizabeth not only had her portrait painted by Lucas de Heere, Cornelius Ketel, Frederico Zucchero, Isaac Oliver and Mark Garrard, but that she patronized Lysard, who painted the history of Ahasuerus, for her, (Walpole, vol.i.p. 217,) and Petruccio Ubaldini, an Illuminator on vellum, with many other English and foreign painters, whose names have been proserved by Vertue. These facts clearly show, that Edward VI. Queen Elizabeth, and their ministers, entertained a wish to preserve domestic and ornamental
painting in this country. But the church exclusion of painting bad excited such abhorrence and dislike, or indifference and contempt for pictures, that the public style and the domestic, perished nearly at the same time. The occasional arrival of foreign painters, to practise about the court, cannot be considered an exception to this statement.
In Greece, in ancient Rome, and modern Italy, painting and sculpture, in their very outset, were employed in the decoration of temples, and other public edifices. The subjects were suited to the buildings, of the highest class, religious, heroic, sublime and beautiful. The paintings, statues, and friezes being to be seen from below, generally at a considerable height, or from a distance, required broad effective masses, and grand ideal forms, to make a due impression upon the spectators. Every thing like a littleness of manner must have defeated the end of the artists. Hence, the public or historical style, upon a great scale, and on principles of grandeur, preceded and moulded the domestic style, and the latter, imbibing the great principles of the former, partook of its nobleness and elevation, although its productions were upon a less expanded scale. Thus, in Greece, and in ancient Rome, the ideal grandeur of the public style was communicated to the small works of art, in Painting, Marble, and Gems, which were the productions of the domestic style. After the revival of the arts in Italy, similar causes produced similar effects. Painting and sculpture being employed, from their cradle, to embellish the churches, municipal buildings, and palacos, the public or historical stylo, as in Greece and ancient Rome, procedod the domestic style, and the latter acquired grandeur from the former. The highest class of subjects, the highest powers of the mişd, the noblest flights of the imagination, and the most sublime objects, connected with the love of country, and publio and private virtue, were ombodied and called into action by the ancient artists, in every progressive stage of the arts. But the course cannot be reversed; wherever the domestic stylo takos the lead, the public style, unless sustained by very powerful and constant patronage from the state, inust be of a mixed, inferior character, under the direction of individual patron age; subject to an indiscriminate choice of nature, and deficient in ideal grandeur. This has been the case in all those countries, where, in the sixteenth century, the religious changes were accompanied by an exclusion of painting and sculpture from the churches, and other public edifices. Hence, in a part of Germany, in Holland, Sweden, and Denmark, there being no public style to purify and elevate the domestic style, the latter was formed on the gross taste of the multitude, and never rose above the imitation of ordinary nature. The works of the few artists who painted history in those countries, are characterized by a Dutch taste, a Flemish taste, or a German taste, in contra-distinction from the nobleness and chastity of the Italian schools.
Here we must, again, repeat that the government of England having expelled painting and sculpture from the churches, about the middle of the sixteenth century, and the exclusion of painting baving continued, with a few exceptions, to this present hour, it is plain that, without some powerful patronage and support from the government, the public or historical style, introduced by the patronage of the late king, must depend upon the caprices of fashion, or the fancy of the million, and fall into a feeble, bad taste, if not perish altogether, in the course of a few years,
Although the fierce spirit of hostility against the fine arts bad lost its activity in the latter part of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth century, the prejudices, in which that persecution had originated, maintained their ground; insomuch, that towards the end of George the Second's reign, a general apathy and disinclination to painting and sculpture formed a prominent feature in the British court, and in tho character of the nobility and gentry, the learned professions, and of all those opulent classes of society which were in possession of wealth and power to patronize British genius. It was customary for the few British noblemen, who had acquired a taste in their travels on the Continent, to invite foreign painters and sculptors into England, whenever a commission was to be executed for the embellishment of their mansions. Owing to these long existing causes, it was an afflicting and disgraceful fact, that, at a period when the British statesmen and legislators, the British admirals and generals, the British fleets and armies, had extended the fame of British
wisdom and valour through the globe--the country of Sbakspeare and of Milton, of Locke, of Newton and Wren, could not produce any one historical painter to display the genius of Englishmen in that art. Thus, there being no English bistorical painters, and no English historical pictures, in 1752, when REYNOLDS finally established himself in London, after his return from Italy, the old inveterate prejudice, that Englishmen were disqualified by nature from attaining to excellence in the higher department of painting and sculpture, continued in full force, discouraging Englishmen of genius from the study of those arts, and reflecting unmerited disgrace upon the British nation.
Whoever entertains a hope of exciting the government to provide, in its wisdom and liberality, for the cultivation, or rather the preservation, of historical painting in this .country, must not fail, distinctly and continually, without fear of being censured for repetitions, to hold up THE CAUSE, CHURCH EXCLUSION, which, from the reign of Edward VI. to that of George III. excluded England from bistorical painting ; THE CAUSE, CHURCH EXCLUSION, which continues, and which (unless immediately counteracted by THE POWER OF THE STATE ITSELF) will ever continue to exclude her from any but desultory flashes of genius in that field.
From his conviction, that the highest department of painting was closed in this country, and rendered impracticable by CHURCH EXCLUSION, that illustrious artist, Reynolds, potwithstanding his splendid powers, bis honourable ambition for the attainment of excellence, and his zealous endeavours for the advancement of the British school, did not deem it prudent to attempt history until very late in life, many years after he had been established in London, as the most eminent and popular portrait paigter of modern times, and some years after he had been elected president of the Royal Academy. Barry's biographer bears evidence to this faet, that it was late in life before Sir Joshua turned his hand to historical painting," (vol. ii. p. 260). BARRY, bimself, on his arrival in England in 1771, nineteen years after Reynolds had finally settled in London, or twenty-five after he commenced bis profession there, found the President, in his forty-eighth year, only resolving to enter the bistorical field," which shortly after took place.” (Barry's Works, vol. ij. p. 560.) This delay on bis part fully proves his low opinion of the public taste, or rather that the old dislike and contempt for British historical painting pervaded England. He commenced painting in London as early as 1746, and finally settled in the capital in 1752, after having had the advantages of studying in Italy three years. It is an undoubted fact that his first historical picture, Count Ugolino and his Sons perishing of famide in a dungeon, was not finished and exhibited until the year 1773, when he was in his fiftieth year, and twenty-seven years after his first outset in the metropolis. During the last fifteen or sixteen of those years, we have the testimony of Dr. Johnson, of Reynolds's own declaration, and of his biographers, Malone, Northcote, and Farrington, that bis income, by portrait painting, amounted to 6 or £7000 a year, which clearly shows that he was early in possession of a safficient independence to enable him to pursue historical painting, if he had not considered that the exclusion of pictures from churches, and the anti-bistorical state of the public mind in painting, formed an insuperable bar to success.