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object, and could never withdraw them without tears. So well did the picture represent the thing itself, even as if the action were then passing before my sight."
to the care of his arms, in visiting Protogenes, who was then drawing the picture of Ialysus.
"This Ialysus (says Pliny) hindered King Demetrius from taking Rhodes, out of fear lest he should burn the pictures; and not being able to fire the town on any other side, he was pleased rather to spare the painting, than to take the victory, which was already in his hands." Protogenes, at that time, had his painting-room in a garden out of the town, and very near the camp of the enemies, where he was daily finishing those pieces which he had already begun, the noise of soldiers not being capable of interrupting his studies. But Demetrius causing him to be brought into his presence, and asking him, what made him so bold as to work in the midst of enemies? he answered the king, "That he understood the war which he made was against the Rhodians, and not against the arts." This obliged Demetrius to appoint him guards for his security, being infinitely pleased that he could preserve that hand, which by this means he saved from the barbarity and insolence of soldiers. Alexander had no greater pleasure than when he was in the painting-room of Apelles, where he commonly was found. And that painter once received from him a sensible testimony of love and esteem which that monarch had for him; for, having caused him to paint naked (by reason of her admirable beauty) one of his concubines, called Campaspe, who had the greatest share in his affections, and perceiving that Apelles was wounded with the same fatal dart of beauty, he made a present of her to him. In that age, so great a deference was paid to painting, that they, who had any mastery in that art, never painted on any thing but what was portable from one place to another, and what could be secured from burning. "They took a particular care (says Pliny, in the place above cited,) not to paint any thing against a wall, which could only belong to one master, and must always remain in the same place, and for that reason could not be removed in case of an accidental fire. Men were not suffered to keep a picture, as it were in prison, on the walls. It dwelt in common in all cities, and the painter himself was respected as a common good to all the world." See this excellent author, and you shall find, that the tenth chapter of his thirtyfifth book is filled with the praises of this art, and with the honours which were ascribed to it. You will there find, that it was not permitted to any but those of noble blood to profess it. Francis the First (as Vasari tells us) was in love with painting to that degree, that he allured out of Italy all the best masters, that this art might flourish in his own kingdom; and amongst oth
"So much these divine arts have been always honoured," &c. "The greatest lords, whole cities, and their magistrates of old, (says Pliny, lib. xxxv.) took it for an honour to obtain a picture from the hands of those great ancient painters." But this honour is much fallen late amongst the French nobility: and if you will understand the cause of it, Vitruvius will tell you, that it comes from their ignorance of the charming arts, "Propter ignorantiam artis, virtutes obscurantur;" (in the Preface to his Fifth Book.) Nay more, we should see this admirable art fall into the last degree of contempt, if our mighty monarch, who yields in nothing to the magnanimity of Alexander the Great, had not shown as much love for painting as for valour in the wars: we daily see him encouraging this noble art, by the considerable presents which he makes to his chief painter.* And he has also founded an academy for the progress and perfectionating of painting, which his first ministert honours with his protection, his care, and frequent visits; insomuch that we might shortly see the age of Apelles reviving in our country, together with all the beauteous arts, if our generous nobility, who follow our incomparable king with so much ardour and courage in those dangers to which he exposes his sacred person, for the greatness and glory of his kingdom, would imitate him in that wonderful affection which he bears to all who are excellent in this kind. Those persons who were the most considerable in ancient Greece, either for birth or merit, took a most particular care, for many ages, to be instructed in the art of painting; following that laudable and profitable custom, begun and established by the great Alexander, which was to learn how to design. And Pliny, who gives testimony to this, in the tenth chapter of his thirty-fifth book, tells us farther, (speaking of Pamphilius, the master of Apelles,) "That it was by the authority of Alexander, that, first at Sicyon, and afterwar through all Greece, the young gentlemen learn ed, before all other things, to design upon tablets of boxen-wood; and that the first place, among all the liberal arts, was given to painting." And that which makes it evident that they were very knowing in this art, is the love and esteem which they had for painters. Demetrius gave high testimonies of this, when he besieged the city of Rhodes; for he was pleased to employ some part of that time which he owed
* M. Le Brun.
+ M. Colbert.
ers Leonardo da Vinci, who, after having continued for some time in France, died at Fontainbleau in the arms of that great king, who could not behold his death without shedding tears over him. Charles the Fifth has adorned Spain with the noblest pictures which are now remaining in the world. Ridolphi, in his Life of Titian, says, "That emperor one day took up a pencil which fell from the hand of that artist, who was then drawing his picture; and upon the compliment which Titian made him on this occasion, he said these words :-Titian has deserved to be served by Cæsar."" And in the same Life it is remarkable, "That the emperor valued himself not so much in subjecting kingdoms and provinces, as that he had been thrice made immortal by the hand of Titian." If you will but take the pains to read this famous Life in Ridolphi, you will there see the relation of all those honours which he received from Charles the Fifth. It would take up too muc time here to recount all the particulars; I will only observe, that the greatest lords who composed the court of that emperor, not being able to refrain from some marks of jealousy, upon the preference which he made of the person and conversation of Titian, to that of all his other courtiers, he freely told them, "That he could never want a court, or courtiers; but he could not have Titian always with him." Accordingly, he heaped riches on him; and whensoever he sent him money, which, ordinarily speaking, was a great sum, he always did it with this obliging testimony, "That his design was not to pay him the value of his pictures, because they were above any price." After the example of the worthies of antiquity, who bought the rarest pictures with bushels of gold, without counting the weight or the number of the pieces. "In nummo aureo, mensurâ accepit, non numero," says Pliny, speaking of Apelles. Quinctilian infers from hence, "that there is nothing more noble than the art of painting; because other things, for the most part, are merchandise, and bought at certain rates: "Most things for this very reason (says he) are vile, because they have a price;"" Pleraque hoc ipso possunt videri vilia, quod pretium habent." (See the 34th, 35th, and 36th Books of Pliny.) Many great persons have loved it with an extreme passion, and have exercised themselves in it with delight. Amongst others, Lælius Fabius, one of those famous Romans, who, (as Cicero relates,) after he had tasted painting, and had practised it, would be called Fabins Pictor; as also Turpilius, a Roman knight; Labeo, prætor and consul; Quintus Pedius; the poets Ennius and
Pacuvius; Socrates, Plato, Metrodorus, Pyrrho, Commodus, Nero, Vespasian, Alexander, Severus, Antoninus, and many other kings and emperors, who thought it not below their majesty to employ some part of their time in this honourable art.
The principal and most important part of painting, is to find out, and thoroughly to understand, what nature hath made most beautiful, and most proper to this art," &c. Observe here the rock on which the greatest part of the Flemish painters have split: Most of that nation know how to imitate nature, at least as well as the painters of other countries; but they make a bad choice in nature itself; whether it be, that they have not seen the ancient pieces, to find those beauties; or that a happy genius, and the beautiful nature, is not of the growth of their country. And to confess the truth, that which is naturally beautiful is so very rare, that it is discovered by few persons; it is difficult to make a choice of it, and to form to ourselves such an idea of it, as may serve us for a model.
"And that a choice of it may be made † 39. according to the gust and manner of the ancients," &c. That is to say, according to the statues, the basso-relievos, and the other ancient pieces, as well of the Grecians as of the Romans. Ancient (or antic) is that which has been made from the time of Alexander the Great, till that of Phocas; during whose empire the arts were ruined by war. These ancient works from their beginning have been the rule of beauty and in effect, the authors of them have been so careful to give them that perfection, which is still to be observed in them, that they made use not only of one single body, whereby they formed them, but of many, from which they took the most regular parts to compose from them a beautiful whole. "The sculptors," says Maximus Tyrius, in his 7th dissertation," with admirable artifice, chose out of many bodies those parts which appeared to them the most beautiful; and out of that diversity made but one statue: but this mixture is made with so much prudence and propriety, that they seem to have taken but one only perfect beauty. And let us not imagine that we can ever find one natural beauty, which can dispute with statues that art, which has always somewhat more perfect than nature." It is also to be presumed, that in the choice which they made of those parts, they followed the opinions of the physicians, who at that time were very capable of instructing them in the rules of beauty; since beauty and health ordinarily follow each other. "For beauty," says Galen,
"is nothing else but a just accord, and mutual harmony of the members, animated by a healthful constitution. And men, "" says the same author, "commend a certain statue of Polycletus, which they call the rule, and which deserves that name, for having so perfect an agreement in all its parts, and a proportion so exact, that it is not possible to find a fault in it." From what I have quoted we may conclude, that the ancient pieces are truly beautiful, because they resemble the beauties of nature; and that nature will ever be beautiful which resembles those beauties of antiquity. It is now evident upon what account none have presumed to contest the proportion of those ancient pieces; and that, on the contrary, they have always been quoted as models of the most perfect beauty. Ovid, in the twelfth book of his "Metamorphoses," where he describes Cyllarus, the most beautiful of all the Centaurs, says, That he had so great a vivacity in his countenance, his neck, his shoulders, his hands, and stomach, were so fair, that it is certain the manly part of him was as beautiful as the most celebrated statues." And Philostratus, in his "Heroics," speaking of Protesilaus, and praising the beauty of his face, says, "That the form of his nose was square, as if it had been of a statue." And in another place, speaking of Euphorbus, he says, "That his beauty had gained the affections of all the Greeks; and that it resembled so nearly the beauty of a statue, that one might have taken him for Apollo." Afterwards also, speaking of the beauty of Neoptolemus, and of his likeness to his father Achilles, he says, "That, in beauty, his father had the same advantage over him, as statues have over the beauty of living men."
This ought to be understood of the fairest statues; for amongst the multitude of sculptors which were in Greece and Italy, it is impossible but some of them must have been bad workmen, or rather less good; for though their works were much inferior to the artists of the first form, yet somewhat of greatness is to be seen in them, and somewhat of harmonious in the distribution of their parts, which makes it evident, that, at that time, they wrought on common principles; and that every one of them availed himself of those principles, according to his capacity and genius. Those statues were the greatest ornaments of Greece. We need only open the book of Pausanias to find the prodigious quantity of them, whether within or without their temples, ar in the crossing of streets, or in the squares and public places, or even the fields, or on the tombs. Statues were erected to the muses, to the nymphs, to heroes, to great captains, to ma
gistrates, philosophers, and poets; in short, they were set up to all those who had made themselves eminent, either in defence of their country, or for any noble action which deserved a recompense; for it was the most ordinary and most authentic way, both amongst the Greeks and Romans, thus to testify their gratitude. The Romans, when they had conquered Græcia, transported from thence not only their most admirable statues, but also brought along with them the most excellent of their sculptors, who instructed others in their art, and have left to posterity the immortal examples of their knowledge, which we see confirmed by those curious statues, those vases, those basso-relievos, and those beautiful columns called by the names of Trajan and Antonine. These are those beauties which our author proposes to us for our models, and the true fountains of science, out of which both painters and statuaries are bound to draw for their own use, without amusing themselves with dipping in streams which are often muddy, at least troubled; I mean the manner of their masters, after whom they creep, and from whom they are unwilling to depart, either through negligence, or through the meanness of their genius. "It belongs only to heavy minds," says Cicero, "to spend their time on streams, without searching for the springs, from whence their materials flow in all manner of abundance."
"Without which, all is nothing but a †40. blind and rash barbarity," &c. All that has nothing of the ancient gusto, is called a barbarous or Gothic manner, which is not conducted by any rule, but only follows a wretched fancy, which has nothing in it that is noble. We are here to observe, that painters are not obliged to follow the antique as exactly as the sculptors; for then the picture would savour too strongly of the statue, and would seem to be without motion. Many painters, and some of the ablest amongst them, believing they do well, and taking that precept in too literal a sense, have fallen thereby into great inconveniences. It therefore becomes the painters to make use of those ancient patterns with discretion, and to accommodate the nature to them in such a manner, that their figures, which must seem to live, may rather appear to be models for the antique, than the antique a model for their figures.
It appears, that Raphael made a perfect use of this conduct; and that the Lombard school have not precisely searched into this precept any farther, than to learn from thence how to make a good choice of the nature, and to give a certain grace and nobleness to all their works, by the general and confused idea which they had of
what is beautiful. As for the rest, they are suf ficiently licentious, excepting only Titian, who, of all the Lombards, has preserved the greatest purity in his works. This barbarous manner, of which I spoke, has been in great vogue from the year 611 to 1450. They who have restored painting in Germany (not having seen any of those fair relics of antiquity,) have retained much of that barbarous manner. Amongst others, Lucas van Leyden, a very laborious man, who, with his scholars, has infected almost all Europe with his designs for tapestry, which, by the ignorant, are called ancient hangings, (a greater honour than they deserve;) these, I say, are esteemed beautiful by the greatest part of the world. I must acknowledge, that I am amazed at so gross a stupidity, and that we of the French nation should have so barbarous a taste as to take for beautiful those flat, childish, and insipid tapestries. Albert Durer, that famous German, who was contemporary to that Lucas, has had the like misfortune to fall into that absurd manner, because he had never seen any thing that was beautiful. Observe what Vasari tells us, in the Life of Marc Antonio, (Raphael's graver,) having first commended Albert for his skill in graving, and his other talents: -"And in truth," says he, "if this so excellent, so exact, and so universal a man, had been born in Tuscany, as he was in Germany, and had formed his studies according to those beautiful pieces which are seen at Rome, as the rest of us have done, he had proved the best painter of all Italy, as he was the greatest genius, and the most accomplished which Germany ever bore." † 45. "We love what we understand," &c. This period informs us, that though our inventions are never so good, though we are furnished by nature with a noble genius, and though we follow the impulse of it, yet this is not enough, if we learn not to understand what is perfect and beautiful in nature; to the end, that, having found it, we may be able to imitate it, and by this instruction we may be capacitated to observe those errors which she herself has made, and to avoid them, so as not to copy her in all sorts of subjects, such as she appears to us, without choice or distinction. † 50. "As being the sovereign judge of his own art," &c. This word, sovereign judge, or arbiter of his own art, presupposes a painter to be fully instructed in all the parts of painting; so that being set as it were above his art, he may be the master and sovereign of it, which is no easy matter. Those of that profession are so seldom endowed with that supreme capacity, that few of them arrive to be good
judges of painting; and I should many times make more account of their judgment, who are men of sense, and yet have never touched a pencil, than of the opinion which is given by the greatest part of painters. All painters, therefore, may be called arbiters of their own art; but to be sovereign arbiters, belongs only to knowing painters.
"And permit no transient beauties to † 52. escape his observation," &c. Those fugitive or transient beauties, are no other than such as we observe in nature, with a short and transient view, and which remain not long in their subjects. Such are the passions of the soul. There are of this sort of beauties which last but for a moment; as the different airs of an assembly upon the sight of an unexpected and uncommon object, some particularity of a violent passion, some graceful action, a smile, a glance of an eye, a disdainful look, a look of gravity, and a thousand other such-like things; we may also place in the catalogue of these flying beauties, fine clouds, such as ordinarily follow thunder, or a shower of rain.
"In the same manner that bare prac- † 54. tice, destitute of the lights of art," &c. We find in Quinctilian, that Pythagoras said, "The theory is nothing without the practice." "And what means," says the younger Pliny, "have we to retain what has been taught us, if we put it not in practice?" We would not allow that man to be an orator who had the best thoughts imaginable, and who knew all the rules of rhetoric, if he had not acquired by exercise the art of using them, and of composing an excellent discourse. Painting is a long pilgrimage; what avails it to make all the necessary preparatives for our voyage, or to inform ourselves of all the difficulties in the road? If we do not actually begin the journey, and travel at a round rate, we shall never arrive at the end of it. And as it would be ridiculous to grow old in the study of every necessary thing in an art, which comprehends so many several parts; so, on the other hand, to begin the practice without knowing the rules, or at least with a light tincture of them, is to expose ourselves to the scorn of those who can judge of painting, and to make it apparent to the world that we have no care of our reputation. Many are of opinion, that we need only work, and mind the practical part, to become skilful and able painters; and that the theory only encumbers the mind, and ties the hand. Such men do just like the squirrel, who is perpetually turning the wheel in her cage; she runs apace, and wearies herself with her continual motion, and yet gets no ground. "It is not enough for doing well to
walk apace," says Quinctilian, "but it is enough for walking apace to do well." It is a bad excuse to say, I was but a little while about it. That graceful easiness, that celestial fire, which animates the work, proceeds not so much from having often done the like, as from having well understood what we have done. See what I shall farther say, on the 60th rule, which concerns easiness. Others there are who believe precepts and speculation to be of absolute necessity; but as they were ill instructed, and what they knew rather entangled than cleared their understanding, so they oftentimes turn short; and if they perform a work, it is not without anxiety and pain. And in truth, they are so much the more worthy of compassion, because their intentions are right; and if they advance not in knowledge as far as others, and are sometimes cast behind, yet they are grounded upon some sort of reason; for it is belonging to good sense not to go over fast, when we apprehend ourselves to be out of the way, or even where we doubt which way we ought to take. Others, on the contrary, being well instructed in good maxims, and in the rules of art, after having done fine things, yet spoil them all, by endeavouring to make them better, which is a kind of overdoing; and they are so intoxicated with their work, and with an earnest desire of being above all others, that they suffer themselves to be deceived with the appearance of an imaginary good. "Apelles, one day, admiring the prodigious labour which he saw in
picture of Protogenes, and knowing how much sweat it must have cost him, said, that Protogenes and himself were of equal strength; nay, that he yielded to him, in some parts of painting; but in this he surpassed him, that Protogenes never knew when he had done well, and could never hold his hand. He also added, in the nature of a precept, that he wished all painters would imprint this lesson deeply in their memory, that with overstraining and earnestness of finishing their pieces, they often did "There are them more harm than good."* some," says Quinctilian, "who never satisfy themselves, never are contented with their first notions and expressions, but are continually changing all, till nothing remains of their first ideas. Others there are," continues he, "who dare never trust themselves, nor resolve on any thing; and who being, as it were, entangled in their rown genius, imagine it to be a laudable correctness, when they form difficulties to themselves in their own work. And, to speak the truth, it is hard to discern whether of the two is
Pliny xxxv. 10.
in the greatest orror; he, who is enamoured of all he does; or he, whom nothing of his own can please. For it has happened to young men, and often even to those of the greatest wit, to waste their spirits, and to consume themselves with anxiety and pain of their own giving, so far as even to doze upon their work with too much eagerness of doing well. I will now tell you how a reasonable man ought to carry himself on this occasion. It is certain, that we ought to use our best endeavour to give the last perfection to our works; yet it is always to be understood, that we attempt no more than what is in the compass of our genius, and according to our vein. For, to make a true progress, I grant that diligence and study are both requisite ; but this study ought to have no mixture, either of self-opinion, obstinacy, or anxiety; for which reason if it blows a happy gale, we must set up all our sails, though in so doing it sometimes happens, that we follow those motions where our natural heat is more powerful than our care and our correctness, provided we abuse not this license, and suffer not ourselves to be deceived by it; for all our productions cannot fail to please us at the moment of their birth, as being
new to us.
"Because the greatest beauties cannot † 61. always be expressed for want of terms," &c. I have learned from the mouth of Monsieur du Fresnoy, that he had oftentimes heard Guido say, "that no man could give a rule of the greatest beauties; and that the knowledge of them was so abstruse, that there was no manner of speaking which could them." express This comes just to what Quinctilian says,t "That things incredible wanted words to express them; for some of them are too great, and too much elevated, to be comprehended by human discourse." From hence proceeds, that the best judges, when they admire a noble picture, seem to be fastened to it; and when they come to themselves, you would say, they had lost the use of speech.
"Pausiaca torpes, insane, tabellâ," says Horace ; and Symmachus says, "that the greatness of astonishment hinders men from giving a just applause." The Italians say, Opera da stupire," when a thing is wonderfully good.
"Those masterpieces of antiquity, † 53. which were the chief examples of this art," &c. He means the most knowing and best painters of antiquity: that is to say, from the last two ages to our times.