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unanimously elected a member of the academy of painting at New York, and likewise of the academy of painting at Philadelphia. We repeat it, that in every country where the fine arts are honoured and incorporated in a NATIONAL FORM, the enrolment of West's name has been deemed an addition of honour to their body by its members.
HAYLEY's verses on West's style, are so just, as far as they extend, that we insert them here, as the criticism of a poet of elegant fancy, who 'had inspected the best pictures on the continent, with much warm feeling and discrimination of their beauties. His love of the fine arts, and his zeal for the advancement of the British School, are strikingly evinced in his Epistles on Painting, from which we borrow the following extract:
Supremely skilld, the varied group to place,
the crowded scene with easy grace;
(Epistles on Painting, Ep. II. I. 177, &c.)
This poet was much struck by West's Death of Bayard, and he endeavoured to rouse Romney to paint the death of Sir Philip Sydney, in emulation of its merits. Romney possessed a strong desire to paint history, but be prudently forbore from an attempt to vie with the great historical painter of the age. Even the publication of the following verses failed of their intended effect :
“ Shall BAYARD, glorious in his dying hour,
(Ibid, 1. 436, &c.) It required some courage to stand out this sort of public friendly challenge. But Romney had yielded to the antihistorical spirit of the time; was then making between 3 and £4,000. a year by painting portraits, and looked up to West with too just a sense of his powers to venture upon the encounter. POPE, with all his fine imagination and exquisite sense of beauty as a poet, from not having had his eyes
educated by opportunities of viewing good pictures early in life, was but a very indifferent judge of painting. He mistook the tame, vapid portraits of his friend and drawing master, JERVAS, for the productions of a second Titian, and, in his epistle to that fortunate manufacturer of stained canvas, flattered him that the beauties of his day, should
6 Bloom in his colours for a thousand years."
HAYLEY had studied pictures, aòd was by far the best critic on the subject among the British poets.
The candour and impartiality of SIR. THOMAS LAWRENCE are proverbial : his frankness and public spirit are well known; his love of his profession, his distinguished genius, and the number of bis brilliant works, confer an important weight on his bigb opinion of Mr. West's historical pictures. His matured taste and judgment must be conclusive in any estimate of excellence in works of art. The relative circumstances of the occasion, and the spontapeous manner in which he pointed out WEST'S gallery as a SCHOOL of INSTRUCTION for the students of the Royal Academy, must, in every reflecting mind, convert his professional advice to them into a proof of West's invaluable science and powers, "strong as holy writ.” An uncalledfor opinion thus given by so eminent an artist, in his character of President of the Royal Academy, as a lesson of direction to the Students, is so free from every thing like an influence, that it is impossible to doubt its origin in an entire conviction. Wbat a guiding light for the Government and Parliament to act upon? What a fortunate opportunity to hearten up the young artists, and maintain the character of the British School, by purchasing those productions of British genius, to place them in the national gallery as lessons for future British students, and specimens of British history painting for the contemplation of foreigners. The liberality with which Sir Thomas Lawrence recently purchased the PANDORA, by that inspired LYRIC PAINTER, ETTY,* is an evidence of his desire to bring forward British genius, and to reward the merit of the living with the same manly promptitude, which he has manifested in doing justice to the merits of the dead. The mild dignity with which he sustained the rank of President of the Royal Academy of England, at Paris, Vienna, Rome, and the other courts which he lately visited on the continent, on a mission from his Majesty, and the signal display of power with which he executed his royal patron's commissions, are still spoken of by foreigners and the British nobility and gentry, who were then abroad, in terms of esteem and admiration. Less powerful and less studied in bis chiarooscuro, less rich in contrast and splendour of colouring, his best works are equal in harmony to those of Sir Joshua Reynolds, more simple, more sweet, and true in the flesh tints. Far superior to that great master in drawing, he is equal to him in the taste of his dispositions and attitudes, ip the choice of his accessories, and in the lively expression of his likenesses. His male portraits have the courtly and easy air of well-bred gentlemen, and no painter but Vandyke and Reynolds ever painted a lovely female of rank with so much enchanting grace, and so happy a union of fashionable refinement and natural elegance.
* The elegance of ideal forms, and the picturesque graces of the most felicitous grouping are combined in the works of this admirable artist, with a colouring as rich in oppositions, as fresh, as vivid, and delicious, as that of Titian or Paolo Veronese, but in general with something more of the glittering silvery tones of the latter. His carnations are filesh itself. The living originality, the breathing, burning spirit of his tints have not been surpassed by any artist (whose works we have seen) since the days of Giorgione himself. If ever 'painting merited the character of “ naute poetry," the charming productions of this bewitching artist's imagination are entitled to that distinction. As our opinion of his merits has been for some years upon public record, we shall not here add any further remarks on the Pandora, which we have, day after day, examined with unabated delight.
If ever the works of any painter belonged to his country, the works of West are peculiarly entitled to that distinction, on account of their merits, of the services which he bas rendered to the British School, and the honour which his performances have obtained for the empire. He was the first British bistorical painter whose genius raised and ennobled art by the power of his hand as a draftsman, by the elevated choice of his subject, the grandeur of its treatment, and the impressive moral which it conveyed. There was then little or no knowledge of the arts in this country. Painting, as in Holland, was obliged to depend on individual patronage, and to follow the caprice of the crowd. Reynolds, when sixty-seven years old, after he had left off painting, frankly owned this fact just before his death :“ I have taken another course, one more suited to my abilities, and to the TASTE of the TIMES in which I live." --Opie (in the Biographical Dictionary of the Painters) bas blamed that great master, we think rather inconsiderately, for this compliance with the times. But no other artișt, even with his peculiarly fine powers, could have done more, or perhaps so much, as Reynolds. He did wonders under the heaviest disadvantages. The state of the public mind may be guessed at from the description of a contemporary artist :-“ NOTHING COULD EXCEED THE IGNORANCE OF A PEOPLE who were themselves learned, ingenious, and higbly cultivated in all things but the arts of design.”(Mem. of Sir J. R. by Joseph Farrington, R.A.) We are not to be surprised, therefore, that West's PYLADES AND ORESTES, in 1766, became, as Northcote has stated it, “ A MATTER OF MUCH SURPRISE;" or that, in 1768, when his Agrippina landing with the ashes of Germanicus, was exhibited, the chief practice of painting lay on the level of fashionable life. For the very few rare deviations from the direct course of unmixed portrait, the country was indebted to the charming fancy and honourable endeavours of Reynolds. The dignified aims of the historical pencil, as an intellectual instrument, correct drawing and costume, deep sentiment, and purity of design, were an unknown language, slighted and contemned. We have showed in a former