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sign, or drawing; and the colouring, which in some places he calls the chromatic. Many authors who have written of painting, multiply the parts according to their pleasure; and without giving you, or myself, the trouble of discussing this matter, I will only tell you, that all the parts of painting which others have named, are reducible into these three which are mentioned by our author.
"And also moderates that fury of the fancy," &c. There is in the Latin Text "which produces only monsters," that is to say, things out of all probable resemblance. Such things as are often found in the works of Pietro Testa. "It often happens," says Dionysius Longius, a grave author, "that some men, imagining themselves to be possessed with a divine fury, far from being carried into the rage of Bacchanalians, often fall into toys and trifles, which are only puerilities." † 69.
"A subject beautiful and noble," &c. Painting is not only pleasing and divertising, but is also a kind of memorial of those things which antiquity has had the most beautiful and noble in their kinds, replacing the history before our eyes; as if the thing were at this very time effectually in action; even so far, that, beholding the pictures wherein those noble deeds are represented, we find ourselves stung with a desire of endeavouring somewhat, which is like that action, there expressed, as if we were reading it in the history. The beauty of the subject inspires us with love and admiration for the pictures, as the fair mixture causes us to enter into the subject which it imitates, and imprints it the more deeply into our imagination, and our memory. These are two chains which are interlinked, which contain, and are at the same time contained, and whose matter is equally precious and estimable. † 72.
"And ingenious," &c. Aliquid salis, some what that is well seasoned, fine, and piquant, extraordinary, of a high relish, proper to instruct, and to clear the understanding. "The painters ought to do like the orators," says Cicero;* "let them instruct, let them divertise, let them move us;" this is what is properly meant by the word salt. † 74.
"On which the sketch, as it may called, of the picture is to be disposed," &c. It is not without reason, nor by chance, that our author uses the word machina. A machine is a just assembling or combination of many pieces, to produce one and the same effect. And the disposition in a picture is nothing else but an assembling of many parts, of which we are to foresee the agreement with each other, and the justness to produce a beautiful effect, as you shall see in the 4th precept, which is concerning the economy. This is also called the composition, by which is meant the distribution and orderly placing of things, both in general, and in particular.
† 75. "Which is what we properly call in vention," &c. Our author establishes three parts of painting; the invention; the deDe Opt. Gen. Orat.
For which reason, I esteem this division to be the justest and as three parts are essential to painting, so no man can be truly called a painter, who does not possess them altogether: in the same manner that we cannot give the name of man to any creature which is not composed of body, soul, and reason, which are the three parts necessarily constituent of a man. How therefore can they pretend to the quality of painters, who can only copy and purloin the works of others, who therein employ their whole industry, and with that only talent would pass for able painters? And, do not tell me, that many great artists have done this; for I can easily answer you, that it had been their better course to have abstained from so doing; that they have not thereby done themselves much honour, and that copying was not the best part of their reputation. Let us then conclude, that all painters ought to acquire this part of excellence; not to do it, is to want courage, and not dare to show themselves. It is to creep and grovel on the ground; it is to deserve this just reproach, O imitatores, servum pecus! It is with painters, in reference to their productions, as it is with ora tors; a good beginning is always costly to both; much sweat and labour is required, but it is better to expose our works, and leave them liable to censure for fifteen years, than to blush for them at the end of fifty. On this account, it is necessary for a painter to begin early to do somewhat of his own, and to accustom himself to it by continual exercise; for so long as, endeavouring to raise himself, he fears falling, he shall be always on the ground. See the following observation:
"Invention is a kind of Muse, which be- † 76. ing possessed of the other advantages common to her sisters," &c. The attributes of the Muses are often taken for the Muses themselves; and it is in this sense, that invention is here called a Muse. Authors ascribe to each of them in particular, the sciences which they have, say they, invented; and in general the Belles Lettres, because they contain almost all the others. These sciences are those advantages of which our author speaks, and with which he would have a painter furnish himself sufficiently: and in truth, there is no man, though his un
derstanding be very mean, who knows not, and who finds not of himself, how much learning is necessary to animate his genius, and to complete it. And the reason of this is, that they who have studied, have not only seen and learned many excellent things, in their course of studies; but also they have acquired, by that exercise, a great facility of profiting themselves, by reading good authors. They who will make profession of painting, must heap up treasures out of their reading: and there they will find many wonderful means of raising themselves above others, who can only creep upon the ground; or if they clevate themselves, it is only to fall from a higher place, because they serve themselves of other men's wings, neither understanding their use, nor their virtue. It is true, that it is not the present mode for a painter to be so knowing: and, if any of them, in these times, be found to have either a great wit, or much learning, the multitude would not fail to say, that it was great pity; and that the youth might have come to somewhat in the practical part of the law, or it may be in the treasury, or in the families of some noblemen. So wretched is the destiny of painting in these latter ages. By learning, it is not so much the knowledge of the Greek and Latin tongue which is here to be understood, as the reading of good authors, and understanding those things of which they treat for translations being made of the best authors, there is not any painter who is not capable, in some sort, of understanding those books of humanity, which are comprehended under the name of the Belles Lettres. In my opinion, the books which are of the most advantage to those of the profession, are these which follow:
The History of Josephus.
The Roman History of Coffeteau, for those who understand the French; and that of Titus Livius, in Latin.
Homer, whom Pliny calls the fountain-head of invention and noble thoughts. Virgil, and in him particularly his neis. The ecclesiastical History of Godeau, or the abridgment of Baronius.
The pictures of Philostratus.*
Pausanias, who is wonderful for giving of great ideas; and chiefly for such as are to be placed at a distance, or cast behind, and for the combining of figures. This author, in conjunction with Homer, makes a good mingle of what is pleasing, and what is perfect.
The Religion of the Ancient Romans, by Du Choul; and in English, Godwin's Roman Antiquities.
Trajan's Pillar, with the discourse which explains the figures on it, and instructs a painter in those things with which he is indispensably to be acquainted. This is one of the most principal and most learned books, which we have for the modes, the customs, the arms, and the religion of the Romans. Julio Romano made his chief studies on the marble itself.
The books of medals.
The Bass-Reliefs of Perrier, and others, with their explanations at the bottom of the pages, which give a perfect understanding of them.
Horace's Art of Poetry, because of the relation which there is betwixt the rules of poetry, and those of painting.
And other books of the like nature, the reading of which are profitable to warm the imagination; such as in English, are Spenser's Fairy Queen; the Paradise Lost of Milton; Tasso, translated by Fairfax; and the history of Polybius, by Sir Henry Shere.
Some romances also are very capable of entertaining the genius, and of strengthening it, by the noble ideas which they give of things: but there is this danger in them, that they almost always corrupt the truth of history.
There are also other books which a painter may use upon some particular occasions, and only when he wants them: Such are, The Mythology of the Gods; The Images of the Gods; The Iconology; The Tables of Hyginus; The Practical Perspective; and some others not here mentioned.
Thus it is necessary, that they who are desirous of a name in painting, should read at leisure times these books with diligence; and make their observations of such things as they find for their purpose in them, and of which they believe they may some time or other have occasion. Let the imagination be employed in this reading, and let them make sketches and light touches of those ideas which that reading forms in their imagination. Quinctilian, Tacitus, or whoever was the author of that dialogue which is called in Latin De Causis corrupta Eloquentie, says, "That painting resembles fire, which is fed by the fuel, inflamed by motion, and gathers strength by burning; for the power of the genius is only augmented by the abundance of matter to supply it; and it is impossible to make a great and magnificent work, if that matter be wanting, or not disposed rightly." And therefore a painter, who has a genius, gets nothing by long thinking, and taking all imaginable care to make a noble composition, if he be not as
sisted by those studies which I have mentioned. All that he can gain by it is only to weary his imagination, and to travel over many vast countries, without dwelling on any one thing which can give him satisfaction.
their quotas, to furnish out the matter of a good picture. But for the economy, or ordering of the whole together, none but only the painter can understand it; because the end of the artist is pleasingly to deceive the eyes, which he can never accomplish if this part be wanting to him. A picture may have an ill effect, though the invention of it be truly understood, the design of it correct, and the colours of it the most beautiful and fine that can be employed in it. And, on the contrary, we may behold other pictures ill invented, ill designed, and painted with the most common colours, which shall have a very good effect, and which shall more pleasingly deceive. "Nothing pleases a man so much as order," says Xenophon;* and Horace, in his "Art of Poetry," lays it down as a rule,
All the books which I have named may be serviceable to all sorts of persons, as well as to painters. As for those books which were of particular use to them, they were unfortunately lost in those ages which were before the invention of printing, the copiers neglecting (probably out of ignorance) to transcribe them, as not finding themselves capable of making the demonstrative figures. In the mean time, it is evidently known, by the relation of authors, that we have lost fifty volumes of them at the least. See Pliny in his 35th book; and Franc Junius, in his 3d chapter of the 2d book of the "Painting of the Ancients." Many moderns have written of it with small success, taking a large compass, without coming directly to the point; and talking much, without saying any thing; yet some of them have acquitted themselves successfully enough. Amongst others, Leonardo da Vinci, (though without method ;) Paulo Lomazzo, whose book is good for the greatest part, but whose discourse is too diffusive and very tiresome; John Baptist Armenini, Franciscus Junius, and Monsieur de Cambray, to whose preface I rather invite you, than to his book. We are not to forget what Monsieur Felebien has written of the historical piece of Alexander, by the hand of Monsieur Le Brun besides that the work itself is very eloquent, the foundations which he establishes for the making of a good picture are wonderfully solid. Thus I have given you very near the library of a painter, and a catalogue of such books as he ought either to read himself, or have read to him; at least if he will not satisfy himself with possessing painting as the most sordid of all trades, and not as the noblest of all † 77. "It is the business of a painter, in his choice of attitudes," &c. See here the most important precept of all those which relate to painting. It belongs properly to a painter alone, and all the rest are bo wed either from learning, or from physic, or from the mathematics, or, in short, from other arts; for it is sufficient to have a natural wit and learning, to make that which we call in painting a good invention for the design, we must have some insight into anatomy: to make buildings, and other things in perspective, we must have knowledge in the mathematics: and other arts will bring in
• That is to the eye, by diagrams and sketches, &c.
Singula quæque locum teneant sortita decenter.
This precept is properly the use and application of all the rest; for which reason it requires much judgment. You are therefore in such manner to foresee things, that your picture may De painted in your head, before it comes upon the canvass. "When Menander," says a celebrated author,† "had ordered the scenes of his comedy, he held it to be, in a manner, already made; though he had not begun the first verse of it." It is an undoubted truth, that they who are endued with this foresight, work with incredible pleasure and facility; others, on the contrary, are perpetually changing and rechanging their work, which, when it is ended, leaves them but anxiety for all their pains. It seems to me, that these sorts of pictures remind us of those old Gothic castles, made at several times; and which hold together only as it were by rags and patches.
It may be inferred from that which I have said, that the invention and the disposition are two several and distinct parts. In effect, though the last of them depends upon the first, and is commonly comprehended under it; yet we are to take great care, that we do not confound them. The invention simply finds out the subjects, and makes a choice them itable to the history which we treat; and the disposition distributes those things which are thus found, each to its proper place, and accommodates the figures and the groups in particular, and the tout ensemble (or whole together) of the picture in general; so that this economy produces the same effect in relation to the eyes, as a concert of music to the ears.
• In Economico.
the greatest parts of the body ought to appear There is one thing of great consequence to be observed in the economy of the whole work, which is, that at the first sight we may be given to understand the quality of the subject; and that the picture, at the first glance of the eye, may inspire us with the principal passion of it; for example, if the subject which you have undertaken to treat be of joy, it is necessary that every thing which enters into your picture should contribute to that passion, so that the beholders shall immediately be moved with it. If the subject be mournful, let every thing in it have a stroke of sadness; and so of the other passions and qualities of the subjects.
"Let there be a genuine and lively expression of the subject, conformable to the text of ancient authors," &c. Take care that the licenses of painters be rather to adorn the history, than to corrupt it. And though Horace gives permission to painters and poets* to dare every thing, yet he encourages neither of them to make things out of nature or verisimility; for he adds immediately after,
But let the bounds of licenses be fix'd;
The thoughts of a man endued with good sense, are not of kin to visionary madness; men in fevers are only capable of such dreams. Treat then the subjects of your pictures with all possible faithfulness, and use your licenses with a becoming boldness; provided they be ingenious, and not immoderate and extrava
gant. †83. "Take care that whatsoever makes nothing to your subject," &c. Nothing deadens so much the composition of a picture, as figures which are not appertaining to the subject; we may call them pleasantly enough, figures to be let.
† 87. † 89.
"This part of painting so rarely met with," &c. That is to say, invention.
"Which was stolen by Prometheus," &c. The poets feign, that Prometheus formed out of clay so fair a statue, that Minerva one day, having long admired it, said to the workman, that if he thought there was any thing in heaven, which could add to its perfection, he might ask it of her; but he being ignorant of what might be most beautiful in the habitation of the gods, desired leave that he might be carried thither, and being there, to make his choice. The goddess bore him thither upon her shield, and so soon as he had perceived that all celestial things were animated with fire, he • Art of Poetry.
stole a parcel of it, which he carried down to earth, and applying it to the stomach of his statue, enlivened the whole body.
"That it happens not to every one to †92. see Corinth," &c. This is an ancient proverb, which signifies, that every man has not the genius, nor the disposition, that is necessary for the sciences; neither yet a capacity fit for the undertaking of things which are great and difficult. Corinth was heretofore the centre of all arts, and the place whither they sent all those whom they would render capable of any thing. Cicero calls it the light of all Græcia.*
"It arrived at length to that height of †95. perfection," &c. This was in the time of Alexander the Great, and lasted even to Augustus, under whose reign painting fell to great decay. But under the emperors Domitian, Nerva, and Trajan, it appeared in its primitive lustre; which lasted to the time of Phocas the emperor, when vices prevailing over the arts, and war being kindled through all Europe, and especially in Lombardy, (occasioned by the eruption of the Huns,) painting was totally extinguished. And if some few, in the succeeding ages, strained themselves to revive it, it was rather in finding out the most glaring, gaudy, and costly colours, than in imitating the harmonious simplicity of those illustrious painters who preceded them. At length, in the fourteenth century, some there were who began to set it again on foot. And it may truly be said, that about the end of the fifteenth age, and the beginning of our sixteenth, it appeared in much splendour, by means of many knowing men in all parts of Italy who were in perfect possession of it. Since those happy times, which were so fruitful of the noble arts, we have also had some knowing painters, but very few in number, because of the little inclination which sovereign princes have had for painting: but thanks to the zeal of our great monarch, and to the care of his first minister, Monsieur Colbert, we may shortly behold it more flourishing than ever.
"An attitude therefore must be chosen, † 103. according to their taste," &c. This is the second part of painting, which is called design, or drawing. As the ancients have sought as much as possible whatsoever contributes to the making of a perfect body; so they have diligently examined in what consists the beauty of good attitudes, as their works sufficiently in
"The parts of it must be great," &c. † 104. Yet not so great as to exceed a just proportion. But he means, that in a noble attitude,
* Pro lege Man.
most, rather than the less; for which reason, in another passage, he vehemently forbids the foreshortenings, because they make the parts appear little, though of themselves they are great.
† 104. "And large," &c. To avoid the dry manner, such as is most commonly the nature which Lucas van Leyden and Albert Durer have imitated. † 105.
those which obey stretching in length, and on the side of their insertion, it must needs follow, that the parts must be designed in waves; but beware, lest in giving this form to the parts, you do not break the bones which sustain them, and which always must make them appear firm.
This maxim is not altogether so general, but that actions may be found, where the masses of the muscles are situate one over against another; but that is not very common. The outlines, which are in waves, give not only a grace to the parts, but also to the whole body, when it is only supported on one leg. As we see in the figures of Antinous, Meleager, the Venus of Medicis, that of the Vatican, the two others of Borghese, and that of Flora, of the goddess Vesta, the two Bacchus's of Borghese, and that of Ludovisio, and in fine, of the greatest number of the ancient figures, which are standing, and which always rest more upon one foot than the other. Besides, that the figures and their parts ought almost always to have a serpentine and flaming form naturally; these sorts of outlines have, I know not what of life and seeming motion in them, which very much resembles the activity of the flame, and of the serpent.
"According to the rules of anatomy," †112. &c. This part is nothing known at present amongst our modern painters. I have shown the profit, and even the necessity of it, in the preface of a little epitome which I have made, and which Monsieur Torrebat has published. I know there are some who think this science a kind of monster, and believe it to be of no advantage, either because they are meanspirited, or that they have not considered the want which they have of it, nor reflected, as they ought, on its importance; contenting themselves with a certain tract, to which they have been used. But certain is, that whoever is capable of such a thought, will never be capable of becoming a great designer.
"In imitation of the Greek forms," &c. † 113. That is to say, according to the ancient statues, which for the most part come from Greece.
"Contrasted by contrary motions, the most noble parts foremost in sight, and each figure carefully poised on its own centre," &c. The motions are never natural, when the members are not equally balanced on their centre; and these members cannot be balanced on their centre in an equality of weight, but they must contrast each other. A man who dances on the rope, makes a manifest demonstration of this truth. The body is a weight balanced on its feet, as upon two pivots. And though one of the feet most commonly bears the weight, yet we see that the whole weight rests centrally upon it. In so much, that if, for example, one arm is stretched out, it must of necessity be, either that the other arm, or the leg, be cast backward, or the body somewhat bowed on the opposite side, so as to make an equilibrium, and be in a situation which is unforced. It may be, though seldom, if it be not in old men, that the feet bear equally; and for that time half the weight is equally distributed on each foot. You ought to make use of the same prudence, if one foot bears three parts in four of the burden, and that the other foot bears the remaining part. This, in general, is what may be said of the balance, and the libration of the body. In particular, there may many things be said which are very useful and curious, of which you may satisfy yourselves in Leonardo da Vinci. He has done wonderfully well on that subject; and one may truly say, that the ponderation is the best and soundest part of all his book of painting. It begins at the 181st chapter, and concludes at the 273d. I would also advise you to read Paulo Lomazzo, in his 6th book, chapter 4th, Del moto del corpo humano, that is, the motion of a human body. You will there find many things of great profit. For what concerns the contrast, I will only say, in general, that nothing gives so much grace and life to figures. See the 13th precept, and what I say upon it in the remarks.
"The parts must be drawn with flowing, gliding outlines," &c. The reason of this proceeds from the action of the muscles, which are so many well-buckets: when one of them acts and draws, it necessary that the other must obey; so that the muscles which act, drawing always towards their principal, and
"Let there be a perfect relation be- †114. twixt the parts and the whole," &c. or let them agree well together, which is the same thing. His meaning in this place is, to speak of the justness of proportions, and the harmony which they make with one another. Many famous authors have thoroughly treated this matter. Amongst others, Paulo Lomazzo, whose first book speaks of nothing else; but there are so many subdivisions, that a reader must have a good brain not to be turned with them. See those which our author has remarked in general,