Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

to those of Bourdon, he compensates for their regularity, by shading them with woods and rocks; and by placing them on picturesque and agreeable elevations.

Maria HELENA PANZACCHIA, correct in her outline, fascinated by her colouring;—while DANDINI of Florence, like Antigenides, who could suit himself to every musical mode, had the power of imitating to perfection the style of every school, and the colouring of every master. Maria Helena had the faculty of exciting the imagination of her observers in no common degree. This is one of the most delightful effects, which the art of painting is capable of producing. For it is not the actual scenes, presented to the eye, that constitute the principal charm ; it is the fine conceptions, which they awake in the mind; and which float, as it were, in the imagination, in endless variety of forms and fascinations of colour.

GIACOMO BASSANO painted villages with happy peasants, pursuing their various occupations. Without elegance of manner, or grandeur of conception, his touch was waving, spirited, and free. A lover of Nature, he painted her as she generally chooses to exhibit herself;—in rural drapery: but, as he painted, generally, with a violet tint, his morning pieces were not so faithful as his evening ones ; characterizing, as they did, that lovely season of the day,

[ocr errors]

- When languid Nature droops her head,
And wakes the tear 'tis luxury to shed “.

Wilson, upon his arrival in Italy, choosing not to confine himself merely to the study of art, which would have made him an imitator, or a mannerist, studied Nature in her finest attitudes, and among her grandest forms: and, having examined a picture in the morning, would compare its fidelity with Nature in the evening. It was this that enabled him to acquire his bold and original style. On his return to his

a Helen Maria Williams.

native country, the imagery of Italy still hovered in his imagination; and he could never, in the sketching of landscapes, so far forget the lofty character of that lovely country, as to content himself with delineating English scenes, merely as they were. The slopes were too tame and uninteresting for his classic pencil. The result of all which was, that though he never failed to sketch a good picture, he always failed to give a faithful portrait of the scene he intended to portraya.

Sir Joshua REYNOLDS painted only four regular landscapes ; but it was not unusual with him to decorate the back-grounds of his portraits with some masterly sketches of rural scenery. In general landscape, he was, undoubtedly, inferior to GAINSBOROUGH ; and yet the rural decorations alluded to were far superior to any similar ornament of that excellent artist. In clear, well defined landscape, and architectural embellishment, Gainsborough was, beyond all question, the first artist of his age. And so enamoured was he of his art, that on the bed of death he exclaimed, “ we are all going to Heaven, and Vandyke will be of the party."

In the exhibition of moonlight pieces, WRIGHT of Derby had no competitor, worthy of himself. His picture of the Lady in Comus is one of the finest specimens of modern art. And here we might indulge in stating the merits of Ambrosio Lorenzetto, who first carried the art of landscape painting into repute in Italy; of Mignon of Frankfort, whose insects and drops of dew are so exquisitely natural; of Swaneveldt, Jordaens, Watteau, and Tintoret;—of Paul Brill; Herman of Italy; Vandermeulen, Vernet, Julio Romano, and Bourdon : —but we must close our observations with a consideration of the merits of those three masters, whom we may style the commanding spirits of landscape. One word, however, in justice to DOMENICHINO. His pictures are enriched with delightful groups and beautiful figures. I never remember his Mercury, driving the flocks of Admetus to water, and many other efforts of his genius, but with pleasure, allied to delight.

a What English connoisseur can see, without pride and pleasure, the following works of this excellent artist? His Phaeton ; the Boar Hunt; Cicero at his Villa ; Ceyx and Alcione; Solitude; Celadon and Amelia ; and his Witches in Macbeth.

SALVATOR Rosa loved rather to stand, as it were, upon the ruins of Nature, than to wander even among her most beautiful combinations : hence his imagination became bold and creative; and his pencil elevated and sublime : and hence over all his works

- He throws A savage grandeur, and sublime repose. Residing, in the early period of his life, with a band of robbers, the rocks, caves, dens, and mountains, which they inhabited, gave a decided impulse to his taste. In the delineation of savage grandeur, in magnificence of outline, and in the details of the wild and the terrible, he stands without a rival; his storms and tempests being the finest efforts of pictorial art. We behold with astonishment, with awe, with admiration : he was the SCHILLER of painting; as Dante and SCHILLER were the Rosas of poetry.

CLAUDE LE LORRAIN,—the greatest of all landscape painters, if we except Titian,--studied in the fields. Every variation of shade, formed by the different hours of the day, and at different seasons of the year, by the refraction of light, and the morning and evening vapours, he minutely observed. His distances are admirably preserved; and his designs broken into a variety of parts :-and yet though thus divided, every group and every compartment form a whole, on which the fancy loves to pause, and the judgment to linger. “An air of loveliness and content,” says Gessner, “ pervades all the scenes which Lorrain's pencil has created. They excite in us that rapture, and those tranquil emotions, with which we contemplate the beauties of Nature. They are rich, without wildness and confusion; and though diversified, they every where breathe mildness and tranquillity. His landscapes are views of a happy land, that lavishes abundance on its inhabitants, under a sky, beneath which every thing flourishes in healthy luxuriance a.”

Claude was an ideal painter, as Praxiteles was an ideal statuary; his pieces being compositions, for the most part, formed of detached scenes, which he had observed in Italy, uniting into one picture. We never see them but with enjoyment; we never think of them but with delight; and we never fail to turn to them with new pleasure, even after dwelling upon scenes in Nature's loveliest attitudes. Every piece tells a history ;-he selects with grace and with judgment;and, being all poetry himself, he seems as if he were born to make poets, for a time, of all his beholders.

Dr. Beattie says of Corelli, that the harmonies of his Pastorale are so ravishingly sweet, that it is impossible not to think of heaven, when we hear them. A female servant, belonging to the Earl of Radnor, in the same manner, told a learned friend of mine, that she never looked at the pictures of Morning and Evening, in his lordship’s collection, but she thought of Paradise! A compliment even more grateful to the genius of Claude, than the celebrated exclamation of the old vicar, when he beheld Grotius.

Poussin formed his taste among the landscapes of Tivoli ; CLAUDE among the Apennines, between Rome and Naples; SALVATOR Rosa among the rocks, ruins, forests, and excavations of Calabria. Poussin strikes the imagination ; Salvator rushes upon it; Claude attracts, rivets, and fascinates it. Uniting the rich glow of Ariosto with the purity and chastity of Tasso, his pictures are now invaluable. Speaking to the heart and to the fancy with equal eloquence, every design indicates the richest taste, and the most luxuriant imagination. The fancy of the spectator riots ; and, while his heart is the abode of contemplative tranquillity (il riposo di Claudio), he feels almost tempted to make a pilgrimage to the palace of Colonna at Rome, where so many of this great master's pieces are still to be seen. Recalling to our imagination images of innocence and simplicity, we compare them with passages of the wise and admirable Fenelon; whose descriptions of the island of Calypso, of Betica, of Egypt, of Cyprus, of Crete, and of the Elysian Fields, are in the first style of excellence.

a Claude has been accused of not having been able to draw figures. It has, therefore, been asserted, that those, which adorn his landscapes, were by another hand. This assertion is astonishing, when we consider, that in this very metropolis (at the British Museum), there are not less than one hundred and eighty drawings by Claude, in which the figures are expressly by the same hand, that sketched the landscapes.

If the imperfections of the Madonnas of Carlo Maratto are only to be observed, by comparing them with those of Raphael, as we are taught to believe, the defects of Claude are only to be discovered by comparing his groups and his dispositions, with the groups and dispositions of the matchless TITIAN;—the Sovereign of Landscape; as Raphael was the Sovereign of Graceful Attitudes. Studying Nature in detail, he exemplified the truth of that axiom, which teaches, that simplicity is the offspring of judgment and genius. Like the rose-tree of Jerichoa, which neither withers nor decays,– and, therefore, the best escutcheon for a painter's monument, -the pictures of Titian still continue to blush with all their golden bints b; and are as beautiful, as first they were, when newly painted. In the union of force and softness of tint; in lightness of touch ; in felicity of combination, and in harmony of colouring, he was unrivalled.' He was the Virgil of landscape :—and the back-ground to his picture of the Martyrdom of St. Peter is said to be the finest landscape, ever issuing from a mortal's hand !

a Anastatica hierochuntica. b Aureo Titiani radio, qui per totam tabulam gliscens eam vere suam denunciat.

c In the Lawrence Gallery are several studies for this picture, all showing the

« FöregåendeFortsätt »