« EelmineJätka »
consider arts as they are in us, and according to a certain degree of perfection, sufficient enough to make it known that we possess them above the common sort, and are comparatively better than most others, we shall not find that life is too short on that account, provided our time be well employed. It is true, that painting is an art which is difficult, and a great undertaking; but they who are endued with the qualities that are necessary to it, have no reason to be discouraged by that apprehension. "Labour always appears difficult before it is tried." The passages by sea, and the knowledge of the stars, have been thought impossible, which notwithstanding have been found and compassed, and that with ease, by those who endeavoured after them. "It is a shameful thing," says Cicero,† "to be weary of inquiry, when what we search is excellent." That which causes us to lose most of our time, is the repugnance which we naturally have to labour, and the ignorance, the malice, and the negligence of our masters: we waste much of our time in walking, and talking to no manner of purpose, in making and receiving idle visits; in play, and other pleasures which we indulge; without reckoning those hours which we lose in the too great care of our bodies; and in sleep, which we often lengthen out till the day is far advanced; and thus we pass that life which we reckon to be short, because we count by the years which we have lived rather than by those which we have employed in study. It is evident, that they who lived before us have passed through all those difficulties, to arrive at that perfection which we discover in their works; though they wanted some of the advantages which we possess, and none had laboured for them as they have done for us. For it is certain, that those ancient masters, and those of the last preceding ages, have left such beautiful patterns to us, that a better and more happy age can never be than ours; and chiefly under the reign of our present king, who encourages all the noble arts, and spares nothing, to give them the share of that felicity of which he is so bountiful to his kingdom; and to conduct them with all manner of advantages to that supreme degree of excellence, which may be worthy of such a master, and of that sovereign love which he has for them. Let us therefore put our hands to the work, without being discouraged by the length of time which is requisite for our studies; but let us seriously contrive how to proceed with the best order, and to follow a ready, diligent, and well-understood method.
"Take courage, therefore, O ye noble youths! ye legitimate offspring of Miner• Veget. de Re Milit. lib. 2. ↑ Lib. 1. de fin.
va, who are born under the influence of a happy planet," &c. Our author intends not here to sow in a barren, ungrateful ground, where his precepts can bear no fruit: he speaks to young painters, but to such only who are born under the influence of a happy star; that is to say, those who have received from nature the necessary dispositions of becoming great in the art of painting; and not to those who follow that study through caprice, or by a sottish inclination, or for lucre, who are either incapable of receiving the precepts, or will make a bad use of them when received.
"You will do well," &c. Our author † 509. speaks not here of the first rudiments of design; as, for example, the management of the pencil, the just relation which the copy ought to have to the original, &c. He supposes, that before he begins his studies, one ought to have a facility of hand, to imitate the best designs, and the noblest pictures and statues; that, in few words, he should have made himself a key, wherewith to open the closet of Minerva, and to enter into that sacred place, where those fair treasures are to be found in all abundance, and even offer themselves to us, to make our advantage of them, by our care and genius.
To begin with geometry," &c. Be- † 509. cause that is the ground of perspective, without which, nothing is to be done in painting. Besides, geometry is of great use in architecture, and in all things which are of its dependence; it is particularly necessary for sculp
"Set yourself on designing, after the † 510. ancient Greeks," &c. Because they are the rule of beauty, and give us a good gusto; for which reason it is very proper to tie ourselves to them, I mean generally speaking; but the particular fruit which we gather from them, is what follows: To learn by heart four several airs of heads, of a man, a woman, a child, and an old man. I mean those which have the most general appprobation; for example, those of the Apol lo, of the Venus de Medicis, of the little Nero, (that is, when he was a child,) and of the god Tiber. It would be a good means of learning them, if when you have designed one after the statue itself, you design it immediately after from your own imagination, without seeing it; and afterwards examine, if your own work be conformable to the first design; thus exercising yourself on the same head, and turning it on ten or twelve sides. You must do the same to the feet, to the hands, to the whole figure. But to understand the beauty of these figures, and the justness of their outlines, it will be necessary to learn anatomy. When I speak of four heads,
and four figures, I pretend not to hinder any one from designing many others, after this first study; but my meaning is only to show by this, that a great variety of things undertaken at the same time, dissipates the imagination, and hinders all the profit; in the same manner, as too many sorts of meat are not easily digested, but corrupt in the stomach, instead of nourishing the parts. † 511.
tate the bees, who pick from every flower that which they find most proper in it to make honey. In the same manner, a young painter should collect from many pictures what he finds to be the most beautiful; and from his several collections form that manner which thereby he makes his own.
"A certain grace which was wholly natural and peculiar to him," &c. Raphael in this may be compared to Apelles, who, in praising the works of other painters, said, "That gracefulness was wanting to them; and that, without vanity, he might say, it was his own peculiar portion." See the remark on the 218th verse.
"And cease not day or night from labour, till by your continual practice," &c. In the first principles, the students have not so much need of precepts as of practice; and the antique statues being the rule of beauty, you may exercise yourselves in imitating them, without apprehending any consequence of ill habits and bad ideas, which can be formed in the soul of a young beginner. It is not as in the school of a master, whose manner and whose gusto are ill, and under whose discipline the scholar spoils himself the more he exercises.
"And when afterwards your judgment shall grow stronger," &c. It is necessary to have the soul well formed, and to have a right judgment to make the application of his rules upon good pictures, and to take nothing but the good. For there are some who imagine, that whatsoever they find in the picture of a master who has acquired reputation, must of necessity be excellent and these kind of people never fail, when they copy, to follow the bad as well as the good things, and to observe them so much the more, because they seem to be extraordinary, and out of the common road of others, so that at last they come to make a law and precept of them. You ought not also to imitate what is truly good in a crude and gross manner, so that it may be found out in your works, that whatsoever beauties there are in them, come from such or such a master. But, in this, imi
"Julio Romano, educated from his † 522. childhood in the country of the Muses," &c. He means in the studies of the belles lettres, and above all in poesy, which he infinitely loved. It appears, that he formed his ideas, and made his gusto, from reading Homer; and in that imitated Zeuxis and Polygnotus, who, as Maximus Tyrius relates, treated their subjects in their pictures as Homer did in his poetry.
To these remarks I have annexed the opinions of our author, upon the best and chiefest painters of the two foregoing ages. He tells you candidly, and briefly, what were their excellencies, and what their failings.
"I pass in silence many things which †541. will be more amply treated in the ensu ing Commentary." It is evident by this, how much we lose, and what damage we have sustained by our author's death, since those commentaries had undoubtedly contained things of high value and of great instruction.
To intrust with the Muses," &c. †544. That is to say, to write in verse; poetry being under their protection, and consecrated to them.
OF CHARLES ALPHONSE DU FRESNOY,
ON THE WORKS OF THE PRINCIPAL AND BEST PAINTERS OF
THE TWO LAST AGES.
PAINTING was in its perfection amongst the Greeks. The principal schools were at Sicyon, afterwards at Rhodes, at Athens, and at Corinth, and at last in Rome. Wars and luxury having overthrown the Roman empire, it was totally extinguished, together with all the noble arts, the studies of humanity, and the other sci
It began to appear again, in the year 1450, amongst some painters of Florence, of which Domenico Chirlandaio was one, who was master to Michael Angelo, and had some kind of reputation, though his manner was Gothic, and very dry.
Michael Angelo, his disciple, flourished in the times of Julius the Second, Leo the Tenth, and of seven successive popes. He was a painter, a sculptor, and an architect, both civil and military. The choice which he made of his attitudes was not always beautiful or pleasing; his gusto of design was not the finest, nor his outlines the most elegant; the folds of his draperies, and the ornaments of his habits, were neither noble nor graceful. He was not a little fantastical and extravagant in his compositions; he was bold, even to rashness, in taking liberties against the rules of perspective. His colouring is not over true, or very pleasant. He knew not the artifice of the lights and shadows; but he designed more learnedly, and better understood all the knittings of the bones, with the office and situation of the muscles, than any of the modern painters. There appears a certain air of greatness and severity in his figures; in both which he has oftentimes succeeded. But above the rest of his excellencies, was his wonderful skill in architecture, wherein he has not only surpassed all the moderns, but even the ancients also. The St. Peter's of Rome, the St. John's of Florence, the Capitol,
the Palazzo Farnese, and his own house, are sufficient testimonies of it. His disciples were Marcello Venusti, Il Rosso, Georgio Vasari, Fra. Basiano, who commonly painted for him, and many other Florentines.
Pietro Perugino designed with sufficient knowledge of nature; but he is dry, and his manner little. His disciple was
Raphael Santio, who was born on Good Friday, in the year 1483, and died on Good Friday, in the year 1520, so that he lived only thirty-seven years complete. He surpassed all modern painters, because he possessed more of the excellent parts of painting than any other; and it is believed that he equalled the ancients, excepting only that he designed not naked bodies with so much learning as Michael Angelo; but his gusto of design is purer, and much better. He painted not with so good, so full, and so graceful a manner as Correggio; nor has he any thing of the contrast of the lights and shadows, or so strong and free a colouring as Titian; but he had a better disposition in his pieces, without comparison, than either Titian, Correggio, Michael Angelo, or all the rest of the succeeding painters to our days. His choice of attitudes, of heads, of ornaments; the suitableness of his drapery, his manner of designing, his varieties, his contrasts, his expressions, were beautiful in perfection; but above all, he possessed the graces in so advantageous a manner, that he has never since been equalled by any other. There are portraits, or single figures, of his, which are finished pieces. He was an admirable architect. He was handsome, well-made, and tall of stature, civil and wellnatured, never refusing to teach another what he knew himself. He had many scholars, amongst others, Julio Romano, Polydore, Gaudenzio, Giovanni d'Udine, and Michael Coxis.
His graver was Marc Antonio, whose prints
Julio Romano was the most excellent of all Raphael's disciples. He had conceptions which were more extraordinary, more profound, and more elevated, than even his master himself. He was also a great architect; his gusto was pure and exquisite. He was a great imitator of the ancients; giving a clear testimony in all his productions, that he was desirous to restore to practice the same forms and fabrics which were ancient. He had the good fortune to find great persons, who committed to him the care of edifices, vestibules, and porticoes, all tetrastyles, xistes, theatres, and such other places as are not now in use. He was wonderful in his choice of attitudes. His manner was drier and harder than any of Raphael's school. He did not exactly understand the lights and shadows, or the colours. He is frequently harsh and ungraceful. The folds of his draperies are neither beautiful nor great, easy nor natural; but all extravagant, and too like the habits of fantastical comedians. He was very knowing in human learning. His disciples were, Pirro Ligorio, (who was admirable for ancient buildings, as for towns, temples, tombs, and trophies, and the situation of ancient edifices,) Eneas Vico, Bonasone, Georgio Mantuano, and others.
Polydore, a disciple of Raphael, designed admirably well, as to the practical part, having a particular genius for friezes, as we may see by those of white and black which he has painted at Rome. He imitated the ancients; but his manner was greater than that of Julio Romano; nevertheless, Julio seems to be the truer. Some admirable groups are seen in his works, and such as are not elsewhere to be found. He coloured very seldom, and made landscapes of a reasonable good gusto.
Gio. Bellino, one of the first who was of any consideration at Venice, painted very drily, according to the manner of his ti ne. He was very knowing, both in architecture and perspective. He was Titian's first master, which may easily be observed in the first painting of that noble disciple; in which we may remark, that propriety of colours which his master has observed.
About this time, Georgione, the contemporary of Titian, came to excel in portraits, or facepainting, and also in great works. He first began to make choice of glowing and agreeable colours, the perfection and entire harmony of which were afterwards to be found in Titian's pictures. He dressed his figures wonderfully
well; and it may be truly said, that, but for him, Titian had never arrived to that height of perfection, which proceeded from the rivalship and jealousy of honour betwixt those two.
Titian was one of the greatest colourists who was ever known. He designed with much more ease and practice than Georgione. There are to be seen women and children of his hand, which are adinirable, both for the design and colouring. The gusto of them is delicate, charming, and noble, with a certain pleasing negligence of the head-dresses, the draperies, and ornaments of habits, which are wholly peculiar to him. As for the figures of men, he has designed them but moderately well. There are even some of his draperies which are mean, and savour of a little gusto. His painting is wonderfully glowing, sweet, and delicate. He made portraits, which were extremely noble; the attitudes of them being very graceful, grave, diversified, and adorned after a very becoming fashion. No man ever painted landscape with so great a manner, so good a colouring, and with such a resemblance of nature. For eight or ten years' space, he copied with great labour and exactness whatsoever he undertook; thereby to make himself an easy way, and to establish some general maxims for his future conduct. Besides the excellent gusto which he had of colours, in which he excelled all mortal men, he perfectly understood how to give every thing the touches which were most suitable and proper to them; such as distinguished them from each other, and which gave the greatest spirit, and the most of truth. The pictures which he made in his beginning and in the declension of his age, are of a dry and mean manner. He lived ninety-nine years. His disciples were Paulo Veronese, Giacomo Tintoret, Giacomo da Ponte Bassano, and his sons.
Paulo Veronese was wonderfully graceful in his airs of women, with great variety of shining draperies, and incredible vivacity and ease. Nevertheless, his composition is sometimes improper, and his design is incorrect; but his colouring, and whatsoever depends on it, is so very charming in his pictures, that it surprises at the first sight, and make us totally forget those other qualities which are wanting in him.
Tintoret was the disciple of Titian, great in the practical part of design, but sometimes also sufficiently extravagant. He had an admirable genius for painting, if he had had as great an affection to his art, and as much patience in undergoing the difficulties of it, as he had fire and vivacity of nature. He has made pictures not inferior in beauty to those of Titian. His composition, and his dresses, are, for the most part,
improper, and his outlines are not correct; but his colouring, and the dependencies of it, like that of his master, are most admirable.
The Bassans had a more mean and poor gusto in painting than Tintoret, and their designs were also less correct than his: they had, indeed, an excellent gusto of colours, and have touched all kinds of animals with an admirable manner, but were notoriously imperfect in the composition and design.
Correggio painted at Parma two large cupolas in fresco, and some altar-pieces. This artist found out certain natural and unaffected graces, for his Madonnas, his Saints, and Little Chil-. dren, which were peculiar to him. His manner is exceeding great, both for the design and for the work, but withal is very incorrect. His pencil was both easy and delightful; and it is to be acknowledged, that he painted with great strength, great heightening, great sweetness, and liveliness of colours, in which none surpassed him.
He understood how to distribute his lights in such a manner as was wholly peculiar to himself; which gave a great force and great roundness to his figures. This manner consists in extending a larger light, and then making it lose itself insensibly in the dark shadowings which he placed out of the masses; and those give them this great roundness, without our being able to perceive from whence proceeds so much of force, and so vast a pleasure to the sight. It is probable, that, in this part, the rest of the Lombard school copied him. He had no great choice of graceful attitudes, nor of distribution for beautiful groups; his design oftentimes appears lame, and the positions are not much observed in them. The aspects of his figures are many times unpleasing; but his manner of designing heads, hands, feet, and other parts, is very great, and well deserves our imitation. In the conduct and finishing of a picture, he has done wonders; for he painted with so much union, that his greatest works seemed to have been finished in the compass of one day, and appear as if we saw them from a looking-glass. His landscape is equally beautiful with his figures.
At the same time with Correggio lived and flourished Parmegiano; who, besides his great manner of well colouring, excelled also both in invention and design, with a genius full of gentleness and of spirit, having nothing that was ungraceful in his choice of attitudes, and in the dresses of his figures, which we cannot say of Correggio. There are pieces of his to be seen, which are both beautiful and correct. These two painters last mentioned had very
good disciples, but they are known only to those of their own province; and besides, there is little to be credited of what his countrymen say; for painting is wholly extinguished amongst them.
I say nothing of Leonardo da Vinci, because I have seen but little of his, though he restored the arts at Milan, and had many disciples there.
Ludovico Carrache, cousin of Hannibal and Augustine, studied at Parma after Correggio; and excelled in design and colouring with such a gracefulness, and so much candour, that Guido, the scholar of Hannibal, did afterwards imitate him with great success. There are some of his pictures to be seen, which are very beautiful, and well understood. He made his ordinary residence at Bologna; and it was he who put the pencil into the hands of Hannibal his cousin.
Hannibal in a little time, excelled his master in all parts of painting. He imitated Correggio, Titian, and Raphael, in their different manners as he pleased; excepting only, that you see not in his pictures the nobleness, the graces, and the charms of Raphael; and his outlines are neither so pure nor so elegant as his. In all other things he is wonderfully accomplished, and of an universal genius.
Augustine, brother to Hannibal, was also a very good painter, and an admirable graver. He had a natural son, called Antonio, who died at the age of thirty-five, and who, (according to the general opinion) would have surpassed his uncle Hannibal; for by what he left behind him, it appears that he was of a more lofty genius.
Guido chiefly imitated Ludovico Carrache,. yet retained always somewhat of the manner which his master, Denis Calvert, the Fleming, taught him. This Calvert lived at Bologna, and was competitor and rival to Ludovico Carrache. Guido made the same use of Albert Durer as Virgil did of old Ennius; borrowed what pleased him, and made it afterwards his own; that is, he accommodated what was good in Albert to his own manner; which he executed with so much gracefulness and beauty, that he alone got more money and more reputation in his time than his own masters and all the scholars of the Carraches, though they were of greater capacity than himself. His heads yield no manner of precedence to those of Raphael.
Sisto Badolocchi designed the best of all his disciples, but he died young.
Domenichino was a very knowing painter, and very laborious, but otherwise of no great