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Apollonius Tyanæus says the same in other words, that the fancy more instructs the painter, than the imitation; for the last makes only the things which it sees, but the first makes also the things which it never sees.
"Leon Battista Alberti tells us, that we ought not so much to love the likeness as the beauty, and to choose from the fairest bodies severally the fairest parts. Leonardo da Vinci instructs the painter to form this idea to himself; and Raffaelle, the greatest of all modern masters, writes thus to Castiglione, concerning his Galatea: To paint a fair one, it is necessary for me to see many fair ones; but because there is so great a scarcity of lovely women, I am constrained to make use of one certain idea, which I have formed to myself in my own fancy.' Guido Rheni sending to Rome his St. Michael, which he had painted for the church of the Capuchins, at the same time wrote to Monsignor Massano, who was Maestro di Casa, (or Steward of the House,) to Pope Urban the Eighth, in this manner: I wish I had the wings of an angel, to have ascended into Paradise, and there to have beheld the forms of those beautiful spirits, from which I might have copied my archangel. But not being able to mount so high, it was in vain for me to search his resemblance here below; so that I was forced to make an introspection into my own mind, and into that idea of beauty which I have formed in my own imagination. I have likewise created there the contrary idea of deformity and ugliness; but I leave the consideration of it, till I paint the devil; and in the mean time shun the very thought of it as much as possibly I can, and am even endeavouring to blot it wholly out of my remembrance.'
"There was not any lady in all antiquity, who was mistress of so much beauty as was to be found in the Venus of Gnidus, made by Praxiteles, or the Minerva of Athens, by Phidias; which was therefore called the beautiful form. Neither is there any man of the present age equal in the strength, proportion, and knitting of his limbs, to the Hercules of Farnese, made by Glycon; or any woman, who can justly be compared with the Medicean Venus of Cleomenes. And upon this account, the noblest poets and the best orators, when they desire to celebrate any extraordinary beauty, are forced to have recourse to statues and pictures, and to draw their persons and faces into comparison. Ovid, endeavouring to express the beauty of Cyllarus, the fairest of the Centaurs, celebrates him as next in perfection to the most admirable
Gratus in ore vigor, cervix, humerique, manusque, Pectoraque artificum laudatis proxima signis.
A pleasing vigour his fair face express'd;
In another place he sets Apelles above Ve
Si Venerem Cous nunquam pinxisset Apelles, Mersa sub æquoreis illa lateret aquis.
One birth to seas the Cyprian goddess owed,
"The idea of this beauty is indeed various, according to the several forms which the painter or sculptor would describe; as one in strength, another in magnanimity: and sometimes it consists in cheerfulness, and sometimes in delicacy; and is always diversified by the sex and age.
"The beauty of Jove is one, and that of Juno another; Hercules and Cupid are perfect beauties, though of different kinds; for beauty is only that which makes all things as they are in their proper and perfect nature, which the best painters always choose by contemplating the forms of each. We ought farther to consider, that a picture being the representation of a human action, the painter ought to retain in his mind the examples of all affections and passions, as a poet preserves the idea of an angry man, of one who is fearful, sad, or merry, and so of all the rest; for it is impossible to express that with the hand which never entered into the imagination. In this manner, as I have rudely and briefly shown you, painters and sculptors, choosing the most elegant natural beauties, perfectionate the idea, and advance their art even above nature itself in her individual productions; which is the utmost mastery of human performance.
"From hence arises that astonishment, and almost adoration, which is paid by the knowing to those divine remainders of antiquity. From hence Phidias, Lysippus, and other noble sculptors, are still held in veneration; and Apelles, Zeuxis, Protogenes, and other admirable painters, though their works are perished, are and will be eternally admired; who all of them drew after the ideas of perfection, which are the miracles of nature, the providence of the understanding, the exemplars of the mind, the light of the fancy; the sun, which, from its rising, inspired the statue of Memnon, and the fire which warmed into life the image of Prometheus. It is this which causes the Graces and the Loves to take up their habitations in the hardest marble, and to subsist in the emptiness of light and shadows. But since the idea of eloquence is as far inferior to that of painting, as the force of words is
to the sight, I must here break off abruptly, and having conducted the reader, as it were, to a secret walk, there leave him in the midst of silence, to contemplate those ideas which I have only sketched, and which every man must finish for himself.
In these pompous expressions, or such as these, the Italian has given you his idea of a painter; and though cannot much commend the style, I must needs say, there is somewhat in the matter. Plato himself is accustomed to write loftily, imitating, as the critics tell us, the manner of Homer; but surely that inimitable poet had not so much of smoke in his writing, though not less of fire. But, in short, this is the present genius of Italy. What Philostratus tells us in the proem of his figures,* is somewhat plainer; and therefore I will translate it almost word for word: He who will rightly govern the art of painting, ought of necessity first to understand human nature. He ought likewise to be endued with a genius to express the signs of their passions, whom he represents; and to make the dumb, as it were, to speak. He must yet further understand what is contained in the constitution of the cheeks, in the temperament of the eyes, in the naturalness (if I may so call it) of the eyebrows; and in short, whatsoever belongs to the mind and thought. He, who thoroughly possesses all these things, will obtain the whole; and the hand will exquisitely represent the action of every particular person. If it happen that he be either mad or angry, melancholic cheerful, a sprightly languishing lover; in one word, he will be able to paint whatsoever is proportionable to any one. And even in all this there is a sweet error, without causing any shame; for the eyes and minds of the beholders being fastened on objects which have no real being, as if they were truly existent, and being induced by them to believe them so, what pleasure is it not capable of giving? The ancients, and other wise men, have written many things concerning the symmetry which is in the art of painting,-constituting, as it were, some certain laws for the proportion of every member; not thinking it possible for a painter to undertake the expression of those motions which are in the mind, without a concurrent harmony in the natural measure; for that which is out of its own kind and measure, is not received from nature, whose motion is always right. On a serious consideration of this matter, it will be found, that the art of painting has a wonderful affinity with that of poetry; and that there is be
twixt them a certain common imagination. For, as the poets introduce the gods and heroes, and all those things which are either majestical, honest, or delightful, in like manner the painters, by the virtue of their outlines, colours, lights, and shadows, represent the same things and persons in their pictures."
The EIKONEE of Flavius Philostratus, who flourished in the beginning of the third century, was first printed by Aldus in 1502.-Malone.
Thus, as convoy ships either accompany or should accompany their merchants,* till they may prosecute the rest of their voyage without danger; so Philostratus has brought me thus far on my way, and I can now sail on without him. He has begun to speak of the great relation betwixt painting and poetry, and thither the greatest part of this discourse, by my promise, was directed. I have not engaged myself to any perfect method, neither am I loaded with a full cargo; it is sufficient if I bring a sample of some goods in this voyage. It will be easy for others to add more, when the commerce is settled for a treatise twice as large as this of painting, could not contain all that might be said on the parallel of these two sister arts. I will take my rise from Bellori, before I proceed to the author of this book.
The business of his preface is to prove, that a learned painter should form to himself an idea of perfect nature. This image he is to set before his mind in all his undertakings, and to draw from thence, as from a storehouse, the beauties which are to enter into his work; thereby correcting nature from what actually she is in individuals, to what she ought to be, and what she was created. Now, as this idea of perfection is of little use in portraits, or the resemblances of particular persons, so neither is it in the characters of comedy and tragedy, which are never to be made perfect, but always to be drawn with some specks of frailty and deficience; such as they have been described to us in history, if they were real characters, or such as the poet began to show them at their first appearance, if they were only fictitious or imaginary. The perfection of such stage-characters consists chiefly in their likeness to the deficient faulty nature, which is their original; only, as it is observed more at large hereafter, in such cases there will always be found a better likeness and a worse, and the better is constantly to be chosen; I mean in tragedy, which represents the figures of the highest form amongst mankind. Thus in portraits, the
i. e. Merchant vessels. The passage seems to be so worded, as to contain a sneer at the negligence of King William's government in protecting the trade. Perhaps Dryden alluded to the misfortune of Sir Francis Wheeler in 1693, who, being sent with a convoy into the Mediterranean, was wrecked in the Bay of Gibraltar.
painter will not take that side of the face, which has some notorious blemish in it; but either draw it in profile, (as Apelles did Antigonus, who had lost one of his eyes,) or else shadow the more imperfect side; for an ingenious flattery is to be allowed to the professors of both arts, so long as the likeness is not destroyed. It is true, that all manner of imperfections must not be taken away from the characters; and the reason is, that there may be left some grounds of pity for their misfortunes. We can never be grieved for their miseries, who are thoroughly wicked, and have thereby justly called their ca lamities on themselves. Such men are the nat ural objects of our hatred, not of our commiseration. If, on the other side, their characters were wholly perfect, (such as, for example, the character of a saint or martyr in a play,) his or her misfortunes would produce impious thoughts in the beholders; they would accuse the heav ens of injustice, and think of leaving a religion where piety was so ill requited. I say, the greater part would be tempted so to do, I say not that they ought; and the consequence is too dangerous for the practice. In this I have ac cused myself for my own St. Catherine ;* but let truth prevail. Sophocles has taken the just medium in his "Edipus." He is somewhat arrogant at his first entrance, and is too inquis itive through the whole tragedy; yet these im perfections being balanced by great virtues, they hinder not our compassion for his miseries; neither yet can they destroy that horror, which the nature of his crimes has excited in us. Such in painting are the warts and moles, which, adding a likeness to the face, are not therefore to be omitted; but these produce no loathing in us; but how far to proceed, and where to stop, is left to the judgment of the poet and the painter. In comedy there is somewhat more of the worse likeness to be taken, because that is often to produce laughter, which is occasioned by the sight of some deformity; but for this I refer the reader to Aristotle. It is a sharp manner of instruction for the vulgar, who are never well amended, till they are more than sufficiently exposed.
That I may return to the beginning of this remark concerning perfect ideas, I have only this to say, that the parallel is often true in epic poetry. The heroes of the poets are to be drawn according to this rule. There is scarce a frailty to be left in the best of them, any more than is to be found in a divine nature; and if Eneas sometimes weeps, it is not in bemoan
The principal female character in "Tyrannic Love, or the Royal Martyr."
ing his own miseries, but those which his people undergo. If this be an imperfection, the Son of God, when he was incarnate, shed tears of compassion over Jerusalem; and Lentulus* describes him often weeping, but never laughing; so that Virgil is justified even from the holy scriptures. I have but one word more, which for once I will anticipate from the author of this book. Though it must be an idea of perfec tion, from which both the epic poet and the history painter draws, yet all perfections are not suitable to all subjects; but every one must be designed according to that perfect beauty which is proper to him. An Apollo must be distin guished from a Jupiter, a Pallas from a Venus ; and so, in poetry, an Æneas from any other hero; for piety is his chief perfection. Ho mer's Achilles is a kind of exception to this rule; but then he is not a perfect hero, nor so intended by the poet. All his gods had some what of human imperfection, for which he has been taxed by Plato as an imitator of what was bad; but Virgil observed his fault, and mended it. Yet Achilles was perfect in the strength of his body, and the vigour of his mind. Had he been less passionate, or less revengeful, the poet well foresaw that Hector had been killed, and Troy taken, at the first assault; which had de stroyed the beautiful contrivance of his Iliads, and the moral of preventing discord amongst confederate princes, which was his principal in tention. For the moral (as Bossu observes,t) is the first business of the poet, as being the groundwork of his instruction. This being formed, he contrives such a design, or fable, as may be most suitable to the moral; after this he begins to think of the persons whom he is to employ in carrying on his design; and gives them the manners which are most proper to the several characters. The thoughts and words are the last parts, which give beauty and colouring to the piece.
When I say that the manners of the hero ought to be good in perfection, I contradict not the Marquis of Normanby's opinion, in that admirable verse, where speaking of a perfect character, he calls it
"A faultless monster, which the world ne'er knew;"
for that excellent critic intended only to speak of dramatic characters, and not of epic.
* In the epistle in which he describes our Saviour's person and manners.
In his treatise on Epic Poetry.
! This line is a little misquoted. The couplets run
Thus at least I have shown, that in the most perfect poem, which is that of Virgil, a perfect idea was required and followed; and consequently that all succeeding poets ought rather to imitate him, than even Homer. I will now proceed, as I promised, to the author of this book.
He tells you almost in the first lines of it, that "the chief end of painting is, to please the eyes; and it is one great end of poetry to please the mind." Thus far the parallel of the arts holds true; with this difference, that the principal end of painting is to please, and the chief design of poetry is to instruct. In this the lat. ter seems to have the advantage of the former; but if we consider the artists themselves on both sides, certainly their aims are the very same; they would both make sure of pleasing, and that in preference to instruction. Next, the means of this pleasure is by deceit; one imposes on the sight, and the other on the understanding. Fiction is of the essence of poetry, as well as of painting; there is a resemblance in one, of human bodies, things, and actions, which are not real; and in the other, of a true story by a fiction; and as all stories are not proper subjects for an epic poem or a tragedy, so neither are they for a noble picture. The subjects, both of the one and of the other, ought to have nothing of immoral, low, or filthy in them; but this being treated at large in the book itself, I waive it, to avoid repetition. Only I must add, that though Catullus,* Ovid, and others, were of another opinion, that the subject of poets, and even their thoughts and expressions, might be loose, provided their lives were chaste and holy, yet there are no such licenses permitted in that art, any more than, in painting, to design and colour obscene nudities. Vita proba est, is no excuse; for it will scarcely be admitted, that either a poet or a painter can be chaste, who give us the contrary examples in their writings and their pictures. We see nothing of this kind in Virgil; that which comes the nearest to it, is the Adventure of the Cave, where Dido and Eneas were driven by the storm; yet even there the poet pretends a marriage before the consummation, and Juno herself was present at it. Neither is there any expression in that story, which a Roman matron might not read without a blush. Besides, the poet passes it over as hastily as he can, as if he were afraid of staying in the cave with the two lovers, and
Our author had previously quoted the lines here alluded to, in defence of the indecencies of one of his comedies.
of being a witness to their actions. Now I suppose that a painter would not be much commended, who should pick out this cavern from the whole Æneids, when there is not another in the work. He had better leave them in their obscurity, than let in a flash of lightning to clear the natural darkness of the place, by which he must discover himself, as much as them. The altar-pieces, and holy decorations of painting, show, that art may be applied to better uses, as well as poetry; and amongst many other instances, the Farnesian gallery, painted by Annibale Caracci, is a sufficient witness yet remaining; the whole work being morally instructive, and particularly the Herculis Bivium, which is a perfect triumph of virtue over vice; as it is wonderfully well described by the ingenious Bellori.
castum esse decet pium poetam Ipsum. Versiculos nihil necesse est: Qui tum denique habent salem ac leporem Si sint molliculi et parum pudici. VOL. II.-22
Hitherto I have only told the reader, what ought not to be the subject of a picture or of a poem. What it ought to be on either side, our author tells us: it must in general be great and noble; and in this the parallel is exactly true. The subject of a poet, either in tragedy or in an epic poem, is a great action of some illustrious hero. is the same in painting; not every action, nor every person, is considerable enough to enter into the cloth. It must be the anger of an Achilles, the piety of an Æneas, the sacrifice of an Iphigenia, for heroines as well as heroes are comprehended in the rule; but the parallel is more complete in tragedy, than in an epic poem. For as a tragedy may be made out of many particular episodes of Homer or of Virgil, so may a noble picture be designed out of this or that particular story in either author. History is also fruitful of designs both for the painter and the tragic poet: Curtius throwing himself into a gulf, and the two Decii sacrificing themselves for the safety of their country, are subjects for tragedy and picture. Such is Scipio restoring the Spanish bride,* whom he either loved, or may be supposed to love: by which he gained the hearts of a great nation to interest themselves for Rome against Carthage. These are all but particular pieces in Livy's History; and yet are full complete subjects for the pen and pencil. Now the reason of this is evident. Tragedy and Picture are more narrowly circumscribed by the mechanic rules of time and place, than the epic poem. The time
The celebrity of that action, which is generally called the continence of Scipio, gives us a woful idea of the gross barbarity of the age in which he lived. What would now be said of a general, who did not act as Scipio is said to have done? Assuredly, his refusing the ransom would be thought more wonderful, than his dismissing, uninjured, the betrothed princess.
of this last is left indefinite. It is true, Homer took up only the space of eight-and-forty days for his Iliads; but whether Virgil's action was comprehended in a year, or somewhat more, is not determined by Bossu. Homer made the place of his action Troy, and the Grecian camp besieging it. Virgil introduces his neas sometimes in Sicily, sometimes in Carthage, and other times at Cumæ, before he brings him to Laurentum; and even after that, he wanders again to the kingdom of Evander, and some parts of Tuscany, before he returns to finish the war by the death of Turnus. But tragedy, according to the practice of the ancients, was al ways confined within the compass of twentyfour hours, and seldom takes up so much time. As for the place of it, it was always one, and that not in a larger sense, (as for example, a whole city, or two or three several houses in it,) but the market, or some other public place, common to the chorus and all the actors; which established law of theirs I have not an opportunity to examine in this place, because I cannot do it without digression from my subject: though it seems too strict at the first appearance, because it excludes all secret intrigues, which are the beauties of the modern stage; for nothing can be carried on with privacy, when the chorus is supposed to be always present. But to proceed; I must say this to the advantage of painting, even above tragedy, that what this last represents in the space of many hours, the former shows us in one moment.* The action, the passion, and the manners of so many persons as are contained in a picture, are to be discerned at once, in the twinkling of an eye; at least they would be so, if the sight could travel over so many different objects all at once, or the mind could digest them all at the same instant, or point of time. Thus, in the famous picture of Poussin, which represents the Institution of the Blessed Sacrament, you see our Saviour and his twelve disciples, all concurring in the same action, after different manners, and in different postures; only the manners of Judas are distinguished from the rest. Here is but one indivisible point of time observed; but one action performed by so many persons, in one room, and at the same table;
There is a fallacy in this, which a moment's consideration may detect. Painting does not present in one moment what tragedy shows in many hours, and cannot, on the contrary, show more than one scene, at one minute and point of time. Doubtless, by presenting to us one striking situation, the painting recalls, if we know the story, all that has preceded and is to follow; but this arises from association, and happens equally if we come suddenly into a theatre where a well-known tragedy is performing.
yet the eye cannot comprehend at once the whole object, nor the mind follow it so fast: it is considered at leisure, and seen by intervals. Such are the subjects of noble pictures; and such are only to be undertaken by noble hands.
There are other parts of nature, which are meaner, and yet are the subjects both of painters and of poets. For, to proceed in the parallel; as comedy is a representation of human life in inferior persons, and low subjects, and by that means creeps into the nature of poetry, and is a kind of juniper, a shrub belonging to the species of cedar; so is the painting of clowns, the representations of a Dutch kermis,* the brutal sport of snick-or-snee, and a thousand other things of this mean invention; a kind of picture which belongs to nature, but of the lowest form. Such is a lazar in comparison to a Venus: both are drawn in human figures; they have faces alike, though not like faces. There is yet a lower sort of poetry and painting, which is out of nature; for a farce is that in poetry, which grotesque is in a picture. The persons and action of a farce are all unnatural, and the manners false, that is, inconsisting with the characters of mankind. Grotesque painting is the just resemblance of this; and Horace begins his "Art of Poetry" by describing such a figure, with a man's head, a horse's neck, the wings of a bird, and a fish's tail; parts of different species jumbled together, according to the mad imagination of the dauber; and the end of all this, as he tells you afterward, is to cause laughter; a very monster in a Bartholomewfair, for the mob to gape at for their twopence. Laughter is indeed the propriety of a man, but just enough to distinguish him from his elder brother with four legs. It is a kind of bastard pleasure too, taken in at the eyes of the vulgar gazers, and at the ears of the beastly audience. Church painters use it to divert the honest countryman at public prayers, and keep his eyes open at a heavy sermon; and farce scribblers make use of the same noble invention, to entertain citizens, country gentlemen, and Covent Garden fops. If they are merry, all goes well on the poet's side. The better sort go thither too, but in despair of sense and the just images of nature, which are the adequate pleasures of the mind; but the author can give the stage no better than what was given him by nature; and the actors must represent such things as they are capable to perform, and by which both they and the scribbler may get their living. After all, it is a good thing to laugh at
A Dutch fair. Dryden probably recollected the pieces of Teniers.