Sidebilder
PDF
ePub
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

CONTENTS

DISCOURSE I.

PAGE

The advantages proceeding from the institution of a Royal Academy.-

Hints offered to the consideration of the Professors and visitors. -

That an implicit obedience to the rules of Art be exacted from the

young students. That a premature disposition to a masterly dex-

terity be repressed.—That diligence be constantly recommended,

and (that it may be effectual) directed to its proper object. : 1

DISCOURSE II.

The course and order of study.-The different stages of Art.-Much

copying discountenanced.-The Artist at all times and in all places

should be employed in laying up materials for the exercise of his

Art : . . . . . . . . . . . 10 -

DISCOURSE III.

The great leading principles of the grand style.-Of beauty.--The

genuine habits of nature to be distinguished from those of fashion 25 -

DISCOURSE IV.

General ideas the presiding principle which regulates every part of Art;

Invention, Expression, Colouring, and Drapery.--Two distinct

styles in history-painting ; the grand and the ornamental.—The

schools in which each is to be found.—The composite style.—The

style formed on local customs and habits, or a partial view of

nature . . . . . . .

. . 39

DISCOUKSE V.

Circumspection required in endeavouring to unite contrary excellencies.

- The expression of a mixed passion uot to be attempted.-

Examples of those who excelled in the great style.--Raffaelle,

Michel Angelo, those two extraordinary inen compared with each

other. The characteristical style.-Salvator Rosa mentioned as

an example of that style ; and opposed to Carlo Maratti.-Sketch

of the characters of Poussin and Rubens. --These two Painters

entirely dissimilar, but consistent with themselves. This con-

sistency required in all parts of the Art . . . . . 58

DISCOURSE VI. V

Imitation.-Genius begins where rules end. -Invention : acquired by

being conversant with the inventions of others. The true method

of imitating.-Borrowing, how far allowable. -Something to be

gathered from every school. .

[ocr errors]

39

DISCOURSE VII.

PAGE

The reality of a standard of taste as well as of corporal beauty.-

Beside this immutable truth, there are secondary truths, which

are variable ; both requiring the attention of the Artist, in propor-

tion to their stability or their influence . . . . . 98

DISCOURSE VIII.

The principles of Art, whether Poetry or Painting, have their founda-

tion in the mind; such as novelty, variety, and contrast; these in

their excess become defects.—Simplicity, its excess disagreeable.

Rules not to be always observed in their literal sense ; sufficient

to preserve the spirit of the law.-Observations on the Prize

Pictures . . . . . . . . . . . . 123

DISCOURSE IX.

On the removal of the Royal Academy to Somerset Place. The advan-

tages to Society from cultivating intellectual pleasure . . . 154

DISCOURSE X.

Sculpture : Has but one style.-Its objects, form, and character.-

Ineffectual attempts of the modern Sculptors to improve the art. —

Ill effects of modern dress in Sculpture . . . . . . 158

DISCOURSE XI.“

Genius : Consists principally in the comprehension of A whole; in

taking general ideas only . . . . . . . . 1

DISCOURSE XII.

Particular methods of study of little consequence.—Little of the art can

be taught.-Love of method often a love of idleness.Pittori

improvvisatori apt to be careless and incorrect; seldom original

and striking :—This proceeds from their not studying the works of

other masters . . . . . . . . . . . 190

DISCOURSE XIII.

Art not merely imitation, but under the direction of the Imagination.

-In what manner Poetry, Painting, Acting, Gardening, and

Architecture depart from Nature . . . . . . . 211

DISCOURSE XIV. .

Character of Gainsborough : his excellencies and defects . . . 230

DISCOURSE XV.

The President takes leave of the Academy.-A Review of the Dis-

courses. The study of the Works of Michel Angelo recommended 248

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

INTRODUCTION.

IR JOSHUA REYNOLDS—to whom is the name unfamiliar? to whom, hearing it, does not appear in mental

vision the equally familiar autograph portrait of the deaf artist? This picture, painted originally for Mr. Thrale, shows us the painter “in his habit as he lived," spectacles on nose, eartrumpet in hand-in short, exactly as he was known to his intimates in his latter days in domestic life. Another autograph picture of the artist in younger life hangs to-day in the National Gallery. Close by is seen the portrait by the same hand of his equally illustrious friend, bluff, common-sense Dr. Johnson, whom he represents as reading and holding his book close to his eyes after the manner of the short-sighted. It would seem that this mode of representation roused Dr. Johnson's ire. “It is not friendly” he remarked, “to hand down to posterity the imperfections of any person." This comment of the doctor's is equally characteristic of the man and his times. At so low an ebb was art and art criticism in those days, that people less learned than Johnson failed to grasp the truth of Reynolds' dictum, now become almost a commonplace, that a portrait but receives enhanced value as a human and historical document if it makes us acquainted with any natural peculiarity that characterises the person delineated. Johnson rebelled against the notion he deduced from this circumstance that Sir Joshua would make him known to posterity by his defects only; he vowed to Mrs. Thrale he would not be so known. “Let Sir Joshua do his worst, ... he may paint himself as deaf as he chooses, but I will not be blinking Sam.”

In this anecdote, in this juxtaposition of two great names, each thoroughly representative of their epoch, can be traced both the cause of Sir Joshua's success, and of the difficulties against which he had to strive. Reynolds may with truth be named the father of modern English art, for before him English art can scarcely be said to have existed, since what was produced on British soil was chiefly the work of foreigners. The records even of this older art are sufficiently barren. It would appear that in the reign of Henry III. some foreign artists were invited over to decorate Winchester Castle, but of them and their works little trace remains. At the time when Italy was producing her masterpieces no native artist of whom we have record bedaubed canvas in Great Britain ; and when the pomp-loving Henry VIII. wished to vie with his great contemporaries, Charles V., Leo X., and Francis I., he had to turn to the Continent for the men to execute his desires. That he himself had no true taste or love for the arts is well known ; it was purely the spirit of emulation that prompted him. How crude were his own art notions may be gathered from the written instructions he left for a monument to his memory. They serve equally to illustrate the state of public taste in England at a period when Italy was inspired by the genius of Michael Angelo, of Raphael, and of Titian. The memorandum directs that “the king shall appear on horseback, of the stature of a goodly man; while over him shall appear the image of God the Father, holding the king's soul in his left hand, and his right extended in the act of benediction." This work was to have been executed in bronze, and was considerably advanced when Elizabeth put a stop to its progress. It was afterwards sold by the Puritan parliament for six hundred pounds. Still, for all his own artistic incapacity, it is more than probable that had not Henry, for private domestic reasons, adopted the Reformed faith, England under his reign might have witnessed a prosperous art period, which, it is true, would not have been native art, but might have given impetus towards its birth. Thackeray was fond of saying that it was no idle speculation to suppose what would have happened had Napoleon won the battle of

« ForrigeFortsett »