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and the pillar of the flagellation, with character of the angels, and the grow the sponge, &c., in allusion to the suf. tesque animal demons; are among ferings and death of Christ, from instances of a literal obviousness of which result his deputed power as thought and expression that were Judge of the world, are introduced ; common to the time, and which exborne by numerous figures. The tend to a considerable degree through Holy Virgin being brought into the out the work; the causes of which scene, is also, by a somewhat similar may be found in the general state of process dictated by the religious cha intellectual culture already adverted racter of the work, in obedience to the to. But these features are connected high rank which she holds in the hie. with the expression of the work, rather rarchy of the Church of Rome. The than with its plan. martyrs presenting their claims to Such are the modes or forms adopte heaven, by producing the instruments ed in the construction of the picture. of their torture (which certainly serve They obviously and necessarily dea more useful purpose to the specta clare the treatment of the whole to be tor than they possibly can to an om- poetic; of which the sentiments that niscient Judge), is in compliance with are pursued, discriminate the class. a mode of characterising-a pictorial Having thus so far taken into conadjective, general to painting ; but sideration, what may be deemed to which, after this obtrusive manner, have been the general causes that opewas one of the arbitrary features of rated towards the formation of the the art of this period.
particular character of the genius of The introduction of the boat of Cha. Michael Angelo ; and what must be ron is a direct imitation of Dante regarded as being the manner after (which various of the punishments of which it is made visible in the picture the damned also are), authorized and of the Last Judgment: the question supported, as also in the instance of is now arrived at-wherein consists the poet, by the influence which was the individual and characterising exexerted by the works of the ancients. hibition of his genius, as developed in Michael Angelo had before associated that work? heathen mythos with Christian belief, Distinct from the mere enunciation by the introduction of the sibyls of the the subject, and from particular 'ancient oracles, along with the Jewish modes of imitation, and objects improphets, on the vault of the Cappella mediately intended to be embraced ; Sistina, from the supposition that they the grand features of the work, in had predicted the coming of Christ; which its stability is based, and which and, to his imagination, the step was must bear it above whatever may be easy, and characteristic of the intel- the conventional atmosphere of any lectual processes of the times, to the age, are the nature and strength of introduction of any other feature of its expression, and the character of its Greek fable. Or, possibly, it might style. be the result of a direct intention to In expression, the sentiments that connect Christianity with the fate of it enforces, are founded in the common man in general,-to embrace the an- nature of man. The sublime-and, in cients in the general Judgment. If its highest sense, the beautiful-the such was the intention, it may how. merely human - the demoniac- the ever be hoped, that hell is not the only mental and the physical,-expressed place where such an allusion might in the powerful exhibition of those have been introduced.
universal movers of the human breast, The blessed dragged to heaven by hope and fear, are made visible. It is the physical might of angels, who con- the great epic of expectation and tend with demons for their possession dread_picturing their birth and their
the passion and coarseness of the consummation in bliss or in misery. character of Christ, and the expression To the enforcement of “ this bigh ar. of the Madonna at bis side-Charon gument," is the fresco of the Sistine battering the damned spirits with his Chapel devoted. In this it endures, oar* _ Saint Bartholomew with his and of this it must, in many respects, own skin in his hand-the human remain the greatest example in art.
*“ Batte col remo qualunque si adagia.”_DANTE.
Time must sweep away its lines and from the transcription of the meanest its colours; but he alone can be its inanimate object to the visible emdestroyer. Succeeding ages have pro. bodiment of Deity ; it is this which duced, and will continue to produce, endows its labours with vitality..* different characteristics, and to furnish On this ground may be said to new subjects for art, but the grandeur meet, though in each instance varied and strength of Michael Angelo can in their ultimate worth-the maternal not be impaired-it is founded in the holiness of the Madonnas of Raphael expression of the generic nature of the substance of the human body, man. Of this, the picture of the Judg- and its coverings by Titian-its tear ment, absorbed and centred what had and wear by Caravaggio--the odour, already been advanced towards, or laughter, and grossness of Duteh expressed in art ; and, in this respect, dwellings, by Teniers and Ostade-the remains the great monument of moral stare of an ox by Paul Potter, or a painting in distinction from that which Flemish sky by Cuyp. It is the posoriginates, and has its end in the pur- session of this power, which consti. suit of local peculiarities, and in the · tutes the wide distinction betwixt the gratification of individual or tempoproductive, and the passive or simply rary taste. In both, there may be recognitive, mind. Its exemplificaexerted that power in which genius tions possess an effect akin to that of consists, but, in the one instance, it natural objects-it does not present a is isolated from any great or general transcript or reiteration of its subject, purpose, and becomes dependent upon but operates with a new and distinct partial intentions and upon antiqua. impression ;-its efforts present addirian study, and may be buried amidst tions to experience.t obsolete, and particular facts; in the Of this power, the style of Michael other, it is wide and extended, and as Angelo is an eminent example. In endurable as the human race.
those instances of such that the works In style, the picture of the Cappella of most others present, their labours Sistina, presents a most marked and are referable to a material or visible distinct character. All excellence in type ; but of this, there was no such art-that varied and disputed point, standard for the painter of Deity, Prowhich appears (but only appears) to phetic or oracular inspiration, and of vary with the view which is taken of mystic indistinctness; of man face to it, may be found to centre in the per- face with his Judge, endowed with or ception or apprehension, and power of doomed to an eternal existence, either impressing the idea of whatever is its in happiness or in misery. His type subject. In this virtually consists the was mental, and to such must his latruly great in art; and, by an extended bours conform ; and, from their conapplication of the principle, may pro- formation to this, they are, in many bably be found to embrace excellence respects, placed at a remote distance or power in whatever human exertion from the humble sympathies of those endeavours after. In this ability ex- whose ideas are regulated by an immeists, and from this imperfection diver- diate reference to sense. By such a ges. In the wide and varied field of species of apprehension their signifiart, which in painting alone, extends cance can never be perceived. To
* It is necessary here to keep in view the distinction which has been referred to in a former note, as existing between the signification of the term ideal, and that of the idea. The idea is ultimate ; the ideal is the result of comparison : it is a term that has been used to express qualities which are the result of a process of abstraction carried forward, I should say, in a particular direction, with the view of, to a certain extent, subjecting the idea of one thing to that of another :- the mistaken application and misunderstanding of which principle, bas given rise to, at times, absurd discussion regarding it. The term also has been most licentiously used; the mere abuse of which, may, in some instances, have given rise to a species of mental desert, which has misled practice in art.
| The colour, for example, of the Crucifixion by Tintoretto, or the expression of a Spanish face by Velasques, display what has never been met, and what is not the result of any process of generalization. The one is an invention-the other an individuality ; but in both - that is perceived which appears to be thoroughly co-relative with its subject-that, in short, which the mind seems to be fitted to recognise as part of its constituted relations.
refer them to a human standard as es- equally elevated line. Both are widely sential and generic is not enough, al different. It may be said that the though this is the nearest approach Italian expressed, or showed, the mind which has been made towards charac in the body--that the Greek expressed terising them. The form, light and it by the body. The discrimination of shade, and colour, of Buonarotti, are class and character must be regarded frequently the exponents of modes of to have been the aim of Greek artbeing which have no objective exist. the workings of mind and passion that ence: he was called to treat of things of modern art. In Greece, character. which were unseen--of superhuman istic distinction had traced a gradual relations which had been established ascent of physiognomic peculiarity, -to express the influence that the be- from the centaur up to the Olympian lief in the existence of such exercised Jove. The classification of form was upon man-and to connect him with · minutely entered into ; which, by the the invisible. Mysteriousness and masters of the revival of art was comgreatness must be thrown over the paratively little attended to. generic nature of man, and this is Comparisons have been frequently the idea rendered by the works of made betwixt the degree of perfection Michael Angelo. They are sacred to exhibited in the works of Michael Angeveneration, to awe, and to wonder, lo and ancient sculpture, without takTo clothe and impress those sentiments ing the particular style or character of was the aim of his style. Compared either into consideration, and each has with the expression and essential form been made the rule of judging the other, of Grecian art, and with the generic certainly under a very imperfect perceplight and shade and colour of Titian, tion of the true nature of either the one those of the Cappella Sistina present or the other. In those characteristics, a remarkable distinction. They are which constitute the difference of senti. expressive of the fleshly and material- ment, and necessarily of style, bethose of Michael Angelo of the mental tween them, consists much of the parti. and immaterial. Greek art had, it may cular excellence of each. The characalmost be said, perfected bodily sym. ter-even the perfection, it may be metry -- it had embodied physical said, of Greek works, would have mi. strength and intellectual character-it litated, in many respects, against those had carried a material system to its intentions which the works of Michael highest elevation ; but, in the figures Angelo ful6l. Nor would his works of Michael Angelo, the impression is have effected the purposes of the conveyed of a predominating power Greeks. The pantheism of Greece or will, which makes the body its ma pre-supposed the universal materiality chine-a vital energy, which seems or the universal immateriality, of all expressive of the idea of soul in man, things. There were no conflicting distinct, and self-existent. This cn- elements no distinct process of se. dows them with immense power on the paration of mind and matter entered mind; and (laying aside abstract con- into. All was recognised to be of One, siderations in regard to the tendency differing only in grade. Their gods of Grecian theology and philosophy as were rendered in godlike shapes, by a compared to those of later times), must, minute definition of character, which in many instances, be considered to could not be too much regulated by raise them above Grock art; or, if they physical analogy, or laws. * The idea cannot be placed higher than the pers of the superhuman, or the ideal, infection which Grecian sculpture reach- deed existed, and was perfected in ed (possibly the most beautiful ex- every rank of the theogony, but less ample of the attainment of such in the under the influence of a sentiment than history of man), fixes them on an as a type, its original germ; and from
* The sentiment of the supernatural appears to have been comparatively feeble in Greece, from the natural being blended into it by gradual steps, distinct and regular as those to the porticoes of their temples. But, in modern Europe, it was much more a part of the general mind, and even still is so ; was mixed and interwoven with all mental operation, continually starting into view, in a manner that may be likened to the strange forms produced under its influence, which are scattered amidst the fretwork, and grin from every corner of a Gothic cathedral,
which the history, both of ancient and desire, with which his actors seein to of modern art, exhibits a process of be endowed. There is in them a conrefinement, or completion, in the first stant reference to the particular and place, and afterwards of annihilation. imperfect, in connexion with expresBut it was necessary that the style of sion; but this is rendered with a speciMichael Angelo (whether from senti- fic greatness which raises them altoment, or the result of ratiocination, it gether above individual humanity.* is not intended at present to inquire) Not to enter into any lengthened should express the union and con- comparison or to contrast the style nexion of power and imperfection-of of the works of Raphael with those greatness and of frailty. Man must of Michael Angelo, it may be obnot, however, be represented in weak- served, with a view to render more ness; such would have destroyed one evident what has been noticed in great purpose of the work-to elevate regard to the latter, that, in distinchumanity : but the struggle of man, tion from Raphael, he endeavoured declared to be abject, and, at the same to elevate man to the supernatural; time, the inheritor of immortality—"a while Raphael, in his works which worm, a god," must be express have relation to such subjects, brought ed. He has been removed from the the supernatural down to man. No. calm perfectability of the Academy, thing can be more distinct than the or of the Stoa, which, in “reason's impression produced by the Sybils and deepest depths," sought to base bis Isaiah of Raphael, which are said to dignity, and to found the persuasion have been done in imitation of, and to that he might not merely be mortal. rival Michael Angelo, from those of He has been made to expect eternal the Sistine Chapel. The Isaiah is much consciousness. He has been brought after the fashion, but altogether withinto conflict with his passions, imme- out participation of the spirit of Mi. diately overawed by hope and fear. chael Angelo. It may have greatness, Contesting sentiments have become wisdom, and sagacity, but it has no centred in his nature, and contend for inspiration. Raphael stood on a difpredominance over his character and ferent ground. His characters illusfate; and to be the medium of con- trate and explain a creed, and give a veying these, and of conducting mundane relation to its dogmas by him through regions of mystery exciting sympathy and love. In this with power and intellectual gran view, while the efforts of both were deur, was the aim of the style of directed to the one great purpose of Michael Angelo.
calling attention to religion, it may His forms display moral and phy. be said that he was opposed to Michael sical strength, independently of their Angelo.f The style of Raphael, also, general significance. The movements was much more a derivation from of the machine of the human body are Greek sculpture than that of Michael condensed and rendered energetic, Angelo, but operated upon by a differnot by celerity of action so much as ent sentiment, the dramatic, instead by the impression of powerful will and of the lyric and the epic, which, in
* Minute criticism may find enough to cavil at in various respects in the picture of the Last Judgment; but such things are not connected with the true end or merit of the work. They may on some occasions be alluded to with proft, in guarding practice against particular errors; but the want of perception of the true nature and greatness of this mighty work, can alone lead to their being brought forward in connexion with its general character. There is, without doubt, what in many instances, if only considered in reference to a standard of mere correctness, which rejects erpression as any part of its element; much that may be considered incorrect and exaggerated ; but in most cases, this should rather be held to be connected with the peculiar character and intentions of the work. On some occasions the anatomical expression may be regarded to be monotonous ; on others disconnected and violent; but its author is scarcely ever lost, through dread of either the one or the other, in poverty of imitation.
† An objection may be made to those works of Michael Angelo which do not involve sentiments of greatness or of mystery, that they either partake strongly of them, or when they are avoided fall beneath their subject. He did not enter into passionless humanityhe could not characterise without expressing the struggle of will, power, or suffering. His
Grecian art, throughout all its refined must not be judged by a standard distinctions of character, were strongly which demands their strong and iminfluential.
mediate effect, as displayed in most of The colour, and light and shade of the pictures of the Venetian school, the picture, are analogous to its form; and of Rubens (whose works must they are strictly accordant in senti- be considered to be a mighty school ment with its intention, and conform of themselves); or which makes to and aid its expression. Local or the representation of individual and minute distinctions in the one, and ac- accidental peculiarity its rule. The cidental effects in the other, are almost first of these methods was rejected by entirely denied. They are wholly at the subjection, in which the expression the will of the painter, in conformity of colour, and light and shade, were to his idea. Shade, instead of being held, to the slower mental process that made a means of powerful contrast, is is involved in the perception of form; merely used as a material, that indi. upon which the chief dependence was cates rather than expresses the negaplaced in this work, in obedience to tion of light. It may be regarded as the powerful and definite expression an imperfection in nature, that only a that was necessary,—and the other partial dependence was placed upon was denied by its elevated and abstract in connexion with the abstract ex- character. pression and reference of the painting It is not intended here to enter into of Michael Angelo. On some occa. any refutation of mistaken criticisms, sions the effect produced is almost alto, which have been made on the picture gether independent of it, the contrast of the Last Judgment, nor into any and hues of colour being the medium detailed consideration of the work. adopted; while, on others, colour is re. The methods pursued in its production, duced nearly to simple chiaro-oscuro, which have been attempted to be ex. and a dark obscurity is the solemn at plained, and which, it is hoped that mosphere of various parts of the scene it will now be apparent, were adoptof the Judgment. In the remains of ed by Michael Angelo, or presented ancient Roman painting, from which, by circumstances for him to pursue, and from the notices that have de- being correctly recognised, must suf. scended to us, the style of the Greeks ficiently enable every one to reply to may, to a considerable extent, be de- the former themselves; while, by a just duced, a somewhat similar recogni- application of those principles, which tion of the imitation of light and colour have been considered to have operated appears to have been made by them. towards the formation, and to have led They were wholly regarded, along to the adoption, of the peculiarities of witb form, as part of the means of art, thought and expression displayed in not followed as an ultimate intention, the picture, a correct appreciation of and, thus considered, were in many its various parts may be formed. instances even rendered as negative But, although the work is addressed as possible; while, in others, they to all, in connexion with sentiments were mutually sacrificed,—the one to which all, more or less, endeavour to the sentiment that the other was more enter into, it were almost needless to particularly adapted to convey. say that it is impossible that all can be
Considered as the means of affecting alive to its signification, or undersense, in the works of Michael Augelo stand it. Mental variety may be they are most harmonious, simple, compared to that of physical capacity and severe-they possess impressive in the animal creation. It is not breadth and distinct firmness, with a possible that different individuals transparent delicacy of tone, which should perceive and feel with the altogether removes their expression same convictions, sentiments which from the material character, of which demand, in their perception, conditions colour is powerfully expressive. They which are widely dissimilar in each.
statue of the youthful David is not successful a subject that Raphael would bave excelled in; but had it been the Prophet and King, it would have again been the proper field for Michael Angelo. But it was executed from a block of marble which had been partly sculptured and rendered useless by “ a Master Simone of Fiesole,” who, according to Vasari, bad commenced it as a giant. Its style, however, is widely different from that of the Muses.