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prone the Greeks were to allegory, and that this elegant fable is but another way of telling us that portraitpainting was suggested by adolescent affection.
“Although Anaxagoras and Democritus wrote on the rules of perspective, we have no proof that the Greeks, notwithstanding their excellence in the delineation of objects, ever made any proficiency in the application of them. We have no account of any landscape-painter of any great eminence in Greece. Among all the artists of antiquity there was no Claude. But they doubtless excelled in the drawing of figures. We are witnesses of the still surpassing beauty of their statues ; and we should not, therefore, question the excellence of their figure-painters; indeed, the sketches in outline on their funeral vases put this matter beyond question.
“In comparing the remains of Grecian sculpture with the works of the moderns, particularly with the public monuments of the British nation, a very obvious and striking difference is at once perceived and felt. We are sensible, in looking at the relics of Greece, of the presence of a simple grace, an admirable naturalness of form and figure, which is rarely discoverable in the sculptures of the moderns. This seems to be owing to a cause which admits of an easy explanation. The inferiority of the moderns arises from their superior scientific knowledge. They understand the theory of the art so well, that they think attention to the rules preferable to the study of natural phenomena. The Greek artists, on the contrary, appear to have worked from living forms and existing things. This is remarkably obvious in the remaining sculptures on the Parthenon. The riders in them are not singly persons, whose muscles and joints are disposed with exquisite anatomical exactness, and placed on horses individually, equally, correctly formed; but the riders and the horses, as in nature, though two distinct beings, are there shown under
the influence of one impulse, and all those minute and indescribable contractions and dilatations of parts, which arise from their separate conformation, are shewn with the effect of that impulse which constitutes the unity of their mutual exertion. I am not here alluding to the centaurs of the metopes, but to the horsemen of the bas-reliefs on the frieze. It is impossible that this felicitous result could have been obtained by the most careful attention to any system of rules. It is indeed impossible that the artist, whose business is to attain perfection of design and beauty of execution, should be able to give so much time and consideration to the study of rules, as would enable him to work without reference to models in nature. He must unquestionably furnish himself with such a competent knowledge of principles as will prevent him from falling into error; but, if he expects to excel in his art, he must study other things than the principles by which the critics will estimate his proficiency. As poets must be so far acquainted with grammar, as to be able to write correct language, painters and sculptors are required to know the principles of their respective arts. But as that knowledge of grammar which constitutes the merit of a grammarian will never make a poet, so that knowledge of perspective and anatomy which constitutes the merit of a connoisseur will never make a painter or a sculptor. Painting and sculpture are representative arts. Their province is confined to forms that can be exhibited, and excellence cannot be attained in them but by studying such forms as naturally exist. In groups the sculptor may bring together figures that might never have met; as the landscape-painter may combine into one picture objects selected from different views, and thereby produce an effect that, while perfectly natural, shall be more pleasing and impressive than any particular view in nature. But the sculptor must not attempt to
create forms, nor the painter to draw mountains or trees from his own fancy, or they will assuredly never fail to offend, if they do not always disgust. The two grand allegorical landscapes of Claude, descriptive of the rise and fall of the Roman empire, furnish an admirable illustration of the maxim which I would inculcate.There is no part of Italy, various and beautiful as the scenery of that country is, which exhibits such magnificent scenes as those paintings; but still the moment that we see them, we at once recognise all the features of the Italian landscape. The picture descriptive of the rise of the Roman nation informs us, at the first glance, of the moral which the artist intends to convey. The sky indicates the morning. On more close examination we find, by the general appearance of the woods and other objects, that it is the spring of the year; the allegory is still more distinctly told by the introduction of husbandmen employed in preparing the soil; and the rudeness of society is ingeniously expressed by a number of little incidents, that, nevertheless, harmonize with the general tone of the composition; while the style of the buildings and the features of the landscape shew, that it is a probable view of Italy, in the simple and manly ages of the Roman republic. In delineating the decline of the empire the painter has been no less happy. The incidents are chosen with equal skill, and combined with equal judgment. The sun is setting. It is the close of the vintage. The temples are in ruins ; which emphatically tell the spectator how much the reverence for the gods had declined. The peasants are discovered in a state of intoxication, and the painter has contrived to represent this without any ludicrous circumstance. He wished to convey an idea of the corruption of manners, and he has accomplished it without infringing the solemnity of his composition. In the first picture all is vigorous, fresh, active, and produce tive; in the second, all is exhausted, decaying, melancholy, and wasteful. No poem, no oration, could have described the subject more elegantly. The historian who related the fall of Rome, has not employed a pen more correct than the pencil of the artist. It is such productions that shew the superiority of genius. It is this exquisite arrangement, and choice of things actually existing, which obtain the praise of originality.
“ Architecture, painting, and sculpture, may be described as the sensual classes of the fine arts, and poetry and music as the intellectual. The former address themselves at once to our senses. Their aim is to exhibit the resemblances of things which we have seen, but the latter address themselves to the mind, and call up trains of thought by means that have no likeness to those ideas which they nevertheless renew. The influence of painting and sculpture on the mind is like that of oratory, which persuades by the statement of truths ; the power of poetry and music is felt like that of magic, which calls up spirits, and produces miraculous effects by the mixing of certain ingredients curiously culled. As the orator cannot state a truth justly and perspicu, ously, without obtaining an immediate concurrence in opinion from his auditors, so the painter or sculptor can. not exhibit a picture or a statue properly executed, without obtaining the admiration of all spectators. But the jurisdiction of poetry and mụsic is not so universal, for they are dependent on associations in the minds of those to whom they address themselves. Truth is every where the same, but habits are local. And the arts of painting and sculpture are connected with truths, while those of music and painting are dependent on habits.The poet cannot produce any effect unless the reader's acquired intellectual associations resemble those of the poet. Music will produce no sentimental effect, unless in particular passages it tends to remind the hearer of sounds in nature, and by that remembrance to recall the images of the scenes where they were first heard, or of incidents connected with the hearing of them.
“The effects of a local influence, similar to that which has produced the different styles of architecture, is pere ceivable in the poetry of all nations. The more detached, unmixed, and steady the society of any country preserves itself, the more original and singular should be the characteristics of its poetry; and by the same rule, according to the intimacy and extent of intercourse which nations cultivate with one another, the more various will be the points of association in their habits of thinking, and their poetry will the more approximate in resemblance. .
“ The English nation, above every other, has cultia vated a general intercourse with all parts of the world, and accordingly we find poets in that country, whose works, though comparatively popular there, are but little understood, even by the learned, in those districts where the inhabitants have remained less extensively informed; while, at the same time, there are productions in the English language in which the most un. mixed and primitive people may discover transcripts of their own thoughts.
“In the middle of the eighteenth century, all Europe was surprised by the appearance in the English language of the poems of Ossian, works which, whatever may be the debate as to their historical authenticity, are admitted to be fine specimens of a kind of poetry cultivated by the mountaineers of Scotland, and which was felt to be natural, and acknowledged to be original, even by those who questioned their antiquity. In like manner, the conquests of the British in India have added to the stores of the British poets; and in England a kind of poetry is fast growing into repute, which seems to bear the same sort of resemblance to that of the