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Title: Anecdotes of Painters, Engravers, Sculptors and Architects, and Curiosities of Art
Author: Spooner, Shearjashub
Language: English
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                         PAINTERS, ENGRAVERS,

                       Sculptors and Architects,


                          CURIOSITIES OF ART.


                  SHEARJASHUB SPOONER, A. B., M. D.,

                           TO MODERN TIMES.”

                           IN THREE VOLUMES.

                                VOL. I.

                               New York:

                       PUBLISHED FOR THE AUTHOR,

               BY G. P. PUTNAM & COMPANY, 10 PARK PLACE.



This work is not a mere compilation, or republication of anecdote. It
will be found to contain much original matter, and much of the most
interesting and instructive portions of the history of art. For a list
of authorities, the reader is referred to the author’s Dictionary of
Painters, etc., and for a convenient reference, to the Index at the end
of vol. iii. The author has studied his subject _con amore_, for many
years, and has gathered abundant materials for three more volumes,
should these be favorably received. But he fears lest in these
romance-loving days, the recital of the trials, misfortunes,
achievements and exaltations of those men of genius and fine
sensibilities, to whom the world is indebted for the creation and
development of the most beautiful arts, will fail to arrest the
attention or move the heart.

Although it does not become a man to prate of himself, yet the author
trusts he will be pardoned when he speaks of his _labors_ and their
_object_. For a long period, his labors have been directed to the great
object of the restoration and publication of Napoleon’s magnificent
works, the Musée Français and the Musée Royal, a notice of which may be
found in vol. iii., page 302, of this work. He trusts he may soon be
able to present the first numbers to the public. These, and his other
achieved undertakings, have made his life one of the most untiring
industry. In order to find time for these enterprises, and still attend
to the calls of his profession, he has been obliged to deprive himself
of repose and relaxation; and during the five years he was engaged in
publishing Boydell’s Illustrations of Shakspeare, and in preparing his
Dictionary for the press, he spent but one evening out of his study,
except those of the Sabbath, relinquishing his toil only at midnight, to
be resumed at dawn.

These self-imposed labors have not been assumed through any mercenary or
selfish motives. His experience has taught him the precarious results of
literary and publishing enterprises of the nature undertaken by him, in
the present state of the Fine Arts in our country. The amount of capital
and labor he has invested has been enormous, and the risks
proportionate; his books admonish him that he has already embarked many
thousands of dollars which he can never hope to regain. Still, what he
has accomplished is to him a theme of pride and exultation; it has also
been a labor of love. His reward is the consciousness of having done
something toward awakening a love for, and an interest in art and
artists, and that he will leave to his countrymen, for their delight and
instruction, so many world-renowned and world-approved specimens of the
highest art. Posterity must be his judge; but he cannot forbear to add,
that can he now succeed in restoring the great works before mentioned,
and leave them as a rich legacy to his country, for the promotion of the
Fine Arts in coming time, he will have accomplished his every earthly


Infelicities of Artists--an Extract from the American
Edition of Boydell’s Illustrations of Shakspeare,
containing anecdotes of Torregiano, Banks,
Barry, Blake, Proctor, &c.,                                            1

Advantages of the Cultivation of the Fine Arts to
a Country,                                                             6

Antiquity of the Fine Arts,                                           12

The Pœcile at Athens,                                                 13

Mosaics,                                                              15

The Olympian Jupiter,                                                 17

Painting from Nature,                                                 18

Apelles,                                                              18

Apelles and the Cobbler,                                              23

Apelles’ Foaming Charger,                                             24

Apelles and Alexander,                                                25

Apelles and Protogenes,                                               25

Benjamin West’s Ancestry,                                             28

West’s Birth,                                                         29

West’s first remarkable Feat,                                         30

Little Benjamin and the Indians,                                      30

West’s Cat’s Tail Pencils,                                            30

West’s First Picture,                                                 31

West’s first Visit to Philadelphia,                                   32

West’s Ambition,                                                      33

West’s first Patron,                                                  34

West’s Education,                                                     35

West’s Dedication to Art,                                             36

West’s Early Prices,                                                  38

West’s Arrival at Rome,                                               39

West’s Early Friends,                                                 41

West’s Course of Study,                                               43

A Remarkable Prophecy,                                                43

West’s Fondness for Skating,                                          44

West’s “Death of Wolfe,”                                              45

Michael Angelo,                                                       47

Michael Angelo and Julius II.,                                        50

St Peter’s Church,                                                    50

Michael Angelo and Lorenzo the Magnificent,                           52

The Cartoon of Pisa,                                                  53

Michael Angelo’s Last Judgment,                                       54

Michael Angelo’s Coloring,                                            56

Michael Angelo’s Grace,                                               57

Michael Angelo’s Oil Paintings,                                       58

Michael Angelo, his “Prophets,” and Julius II.,                       58

Bon-Mots of Michael Angelo,                                           59

Washington Allston,                                                   60

Allston and Vanderlyn,                                                62

American Patronage at Home and Abroad,                                66

Raffaelle Sanzio di Urbino,                                           70

Raffaelle’s Ambition,                                                 70

Raffaelle and Michael Angelo,                                         71

Raffaelle’s Transfiguration,                                          72

Death of Raffaelle,                                                   74

Character of Raffaelle,                                               74

La Bella Fornarina,                                                   75

The Genius of Raffaelle,                                              76

Raffaelle’s Model for his Female Saints,                              76

Raffaelle’s Oil Paintings,                                            77

Portraits of Pope Julius II.,                                         78

Manners of Raffaelle,                                                 78

Peter Paul Rubens,                                                    79

Rubens’ Visit to Italy,                                               80

Rubens’ Enthusiasm,                                                   80

Rubens’ Return to Antwerp,                                            81

Rubens’ Habits,                                                       82

Rubens’ Detractors,                                                   82

The Gallery of the Luxembourg,                                        83

Rubens sent as Ambassador to the Courts of Spain
and England,                                                          83

Death of Rubens,                                                      85

Rubens’ Numerous Works,                                               86

The first Picture brought to Rome,                                    88

Etruscan Sculpture,                                                   90

Campus Martius,                                                       91

Electioneering Pictures at Rome,                                      91

Dramatic Scenery at Rome,                                             93

Apelles of Ephesus and Ptolemy Philopator,                            93

Apelles’ famous Picture of Calumny,                                   94

Sir Godfrey Kneller,                                                  96

Kneller and James II.,                                                97

Kneller’s Compliment to Louis XIV.,                                   97

Kneller’s Wit,                                                        98

Kneller’s Knowledge of Physiognomy,                                   99

Kneller as Justice of the Peace,                                      99

Kneller and Clostermans,                                             100

The Cavaliere Bernini,                                               101

Bernini’s Precocity,                                                 101

Bernini’s Striking Prediction,                                       101

Bernini and Louis XIV.,                                              102

Bernini’s Works,                                                     103

Bernini and the Verospi Hercules,                                    104

Fanaticism destructive to Art,                                       104

Paintings Evanescent,                                                106

The English National Gallery,                                        107

The Nude Figure,                                                     109

Different Schools of Painting Compared,                              110

The Old Masters,                                                     111

Prices of Galleries,                                                 112

Love makes a Painter,                                                112

John Wesley Jarvis,                                                  113

The Biggest Lie,                                                     118

Jarvis and Bishop Moore,                                             119

Jarvis and Commodore Perry,                                          119

Jarvis and the Philosopher,                                          120

Jarvis and Dr. Mitchell,                                             120

Jarvis’ Habits,                                                      121

Robert Fulton,                                                       122

An Exalted Mind and True Patriot,                                    123

Gilbert Charles Stuart,                                              124

Stuart goes to London,                                               125

Stuart as Organist,                                                  126

Stuart’s Introduction to West,                                       126

Stuart and West,                                                     128

Stuart’s Scholarship,                                                131

Stuart’s Rule of the Payment of Half-Price at the
First Sitting,                                                       131

Stuart’s Powers of Perception,                                       132

Stuart’s Conversational Powers,                                      133

Stuart in Ireland,                                                   136

Stuart’s Return to America,                                          137

Stuart and Washington,                                               137

Stuart’s Last Picture,                                               138

Stuart’s Reputation,                                                 139

Stuart’s Drawing,                                                    139

Stuart a Punster,                                                    140

Stuart born in a Snuff-Mill,                                         140

Stuart’s Nose,                                                       140

Stuart’s Sitters,                                                    141

Stuart’s Mark,                                                       142

Stuart and his Dog,                                                  142

The Temple of Diana at Ephesus,                                      144

The Dying Gladiator,                                                 144

Fabius Maximus,                                                      145

Love of the Arts among the Romans,                                   146

Comparative Merits of the Venus de Medici and the
Venus Victrix,                                                       147

The Effect of Painting on the Mind,                                  147

Pausias,                                                             148

The Garland Twiner,                                                  148

Protogenes, the great Rhodian Painter,                               149

Parrhasius,                                                          150

The Demos, and other Works of Parrhasius,                            150

Parrhasius and the Olynthian Captive,                                151

The Vanity of Parrhasius,                                            152

The Invention of the Corinthian Capital,                             152

The Invention of Sculpture,                                          153

Praxiteles,                                                          154

Praxiteles and Phidias compared,                                     154

The Works of Praxiteles,                                             155

The Venus of Cnidus,                                                 155

Praxiteles and Phryne,                                               156

The King of Bithynia and the Venus of Cnidus,                        157

Phidias,                                                             157

Phidias and Alcamenes,                                               159

Ingratitude of the Athenians,                                        159

The Jupiter of Phidias,                                              160

Phidias’ Model for the Olympian Jupiter,                             161

Apollodorus, the Athenian,                                           162

Apollodorus, the Architect,                                          163

Trajan’s Column,                                                     164

The Death of Apollodorus,                                            165

Hogarth,                                                             166

Hogarth’s Apprenticeship,                                            167

Hogarth’s Revenge,                                                   168

Hogarth’s Method of Sketching,                                       168

Hogarth’s Marriage,                                                  168

Successful Expedient of Hogarth,                                     169

Hogarth’s Picture of the Red Sea,                                    170

Hogarth’s Courtesy,                                                  171

Hogarth’s Absence of Mind,                                           171

Hogarth’s March to Finchley,                                         172

Hogarth’s unfortunate Dedication of a Picture,                       172

Hogarth’s manner of selling his Pictures,                            172

Hogarth’s Last Work,                                                 175

Jacques Louis David,                                                 176

David’s Picture of the Coronation of Napoleon,                       178

David and the Duke of Wellington,                                    184

David and the Cardinal Caprara,                                      185

David at Brussels,                                                   185

Pierre Mignard,                                                      186

Sir Joshua Reynolds,                                                 188

Reynolds’ New Style,                                                 189

Reynolds’ Prices,                                                    191

Reynolds’ in Leicester Square,                                       192

The Founding of the Royal Academy,                                   194

Reynolds and Dr. Johnson,                                            195

Dr. Johnson’s Friendship for Reynolds,                               196

Johnson’s Apology for Portrait Painting,                             197

The Literary Club,                                                   198

Johnson’s Portrait,                                                  198

Johnson’s Death,                                                     199

Reynolds and Goldsmith,                                              199

The Deserted Village,                                                200

Goldsmith’s “Retaliation,”                                           200

Pope a Painter,                                                      201

Reynolds’ First Attempts in Art,                                     202

The Force of Habit,                                                  202

Paying the Piper,                                                    203

Reynolds’ Modesty,                                                   203

Reynolds’ Generosity,                                                203

Reynolds’ Love of his Art,                                           204

Reynolds’ Criticism on Rubens,                                       205

Reynolds and Haydn’s Portrait,                                       206

Rubens’ Last Supper,                                                 206

Reynolds’ Skill in Compliments,                                      207

Excellent Advice,                                                    208

Sir Joshua Reynolds and his Portraits,                               208

Reynolds’ Flag,                                                      209

Burke’s Eulogy,                                                      209

Reynolds’ Estimate and Use of Old Paintings,                         210

Influence of the Inquisition upon Spanish Painting,                  211

A Melancholy Picture of the State of the Fine Arts
in Spain,                                                            217

Don Diego Velasquez,                                                 226

Velasquez honored by the King of Spain,                              227

Velasquez’s Slave,                                                   228

Luis Tristan,                                                        229

Tristan and El Greco,                                                230

Alonso Cano,                                                         230

Cano’s Liberality,                                                   231

Cano’s Eccentricities,                                               231

Cano’s Hatred of the Jews,                                           232

Cano’s Ruling Passion strong in Death,                               234

Ribalta’s Marriage,                                                  235

Aparicio, Canova, and Thorwaldsen,                                   236

Bartolomé Estéban Murillo,                                           236

Murillo and Velasquez,                                               236

Murillo’s Return to Seville,                                         237

Murillo and Iriarte,                                                 238

Murillo’s Death,                                                     238

Murillo’s Style,                                                     239

Murillo’s Works,                                                     240

Murillo’s Assumption of the Virgin,                                  241

Castillo’s Tribute to Murillo,                                       242

Correggio,                                                           243

Correggio’s Grand Cupola of the Church of St.
John at Parma,                                                       244

Correggio’s Grand Cupola of the Cathedral at
Parma,                                                               246

Correggio’s Fate,                                                    249

Annibale Caracci’s Opinion of Correggio’s Grand
Cupola at Parma,                                                     253

Correggio’s Enthusiasm,                                              255

Correggio’s Grace,                                                   255

Correggio and the Monks,                                             256

Correggio’s Muleteer,                                                256

Duke of Wellington’s Correggio captured at Vittoria,                 257

Correggio’s Ancona,                                                  257

Portraits of Correggio,                                              258

Did Correggio ever visit Rome?                                       259

Singular Fate of Correggio’s Adoration of the Shepherds,             261

Curious History of Correggio’s “Education of Cupid,”                 262

Magdalen by Correggio,                                               264

Discovery of a Correggio,                                            265

Lionardo da Vinci,                                                   266

Precocity of Da Vinci’s Genius,                                      266

Extraordinary Talents of Da Vinci,                                   268

Da Vinci’s Works at Milan,                                           268

Da Vinci’s “Battle of the Standard,”                                 270

Lionardo da Vinci and Leo X.,                                        271

Lionardo da Vinci and Francis I.,                                    271

Death of Da Vinci,                                                   272

Da Vinci’s Learning,                                                 272

Da Vinci’s Writings,                                                 273

Da Vinci’s Sketch Books,                                             275

The Last Supper of Lionardo da Vinci,                                276

Copies of the Last Supper of Da Vinci,                               278

Da Vinci’s Discrimination,                                           279

Da Vinci’s Idea of Perfection in Art,                                280

Da Vinci and the Prior,                                              282

Da Vinci’s Drawings of the Heads in his celebrated
Last Supper,                                                         284

Francis I. and the Last Supper of Da Vinci,                          284

Authenticated Works of Da Vinci,                                     285

Works in Niello,                                                     286

Sir Christopher Wren,                                                290

Wren’s Self-Command,                                                 290

Wren’s Restraints in designing his Edifices,                         292

The Great Fire in London,                                            293

St. Paul’s Cathedral,                                                294

Wren’s Death,                                                        295

Wren and Charles II.,                                                295

Thomas Banks, the English Sculptor,                                  295

The Genius of Banks,                                                 297

Banks’ Kindness to Young Sculptors,                                  298

The Personal Appearance and Character of Banks,                      299

Flaxman’s Tribute to Banks,                                          300

Joseph Nollekens, the English Sculptor,                              301

Nollekens’ Visit to Rome,                                            301

Nollekens and Garrick,                                               302

Nollekens’ Talent in Bust Sculpture,                                 303

Nollekens’ Bust of Dr. Johnson,                                      304

Nollekens’ Liberality to Chantrey,                                   304

Nollekens and the Widow,                                             305

Nollekens’ Compliments,                                              306

An Overplus of Modesty,                                              307

The Artist Footman,                                                  308

An Architect’s Stratagem,                                            309

The Freedom of the Times in the Reign of Charles II.,                309

Hanneman’s Picture of “Peace,”                                       310

Weesop,                                                              310





It is deemed appropriate to devote this page to the infelicities which
often fall to the lot of men of genius, in hopes to strike a sympathetic
chord; since to them the world owes all that is beautiful as well as
useful in art. It is well known that men of fine imaginations and
delicate taste, are generally distinguished for acute sensibilities, and
for being deficient in more practical qualities; they are frequently
eccentric, and illy adapted to contend with the coldness and
indifference of the world, much less its sarcasm and enmity. The history
of Art is full of melancholy examples.

When Torregiano, the cotemporary of Michael Angelo, had finished his
exquisite group of the Madonna and Child for the Duke d’Arcos, with the
assurance of a rich reward, the nobleman sent two servants, bearing two
well-filled bags of money, with orders to bring the work to his palace.
The sculptor, upon opening the bags, found nothing but brass maravedi!
Filled with just indignation, he seized his mallet, in a moment of
uncontrollable rage, and smashed the beautiful group into a thousand
pieces, saying to the servants, “Go, take your base metal to your
ignoble lord, and tell him he shall never possess a sculpture by my
hand!” The infamous nobleman, burning with shame, resolved on a terrible
revenge; he arraigned the unhappy artist before the Inquisition, on a
charge of sacrilege for destroying the sacred images. Torregiano was
imprisoned and condemned to death by torture; but to escape that awful
fate, he destroyed himself in the dungeon.

It is not necessary to go back further than the history of this work, to
find melancholy examples of the trials of genius. Thomas Banks vainly
endeavored to introduce a lofty and heroic style of sculpture into his
native country. He could obtain no commissions to execute in marble his
most beautiful and sublime compositions, and was compelled to confine
himself to monumental sculpture. James Barry, after struggling with
poverty and neglect all his days, died in a garret, a raving maniac. A
subscription had been started for his relief; but it was all expended in
defraying his funeral expenses, and in erecting a monument to his memory
in St. Paul’s Cathedral, with this inscription,--“The Great Historical
Painter, JAMES BARRY. Died, Feb. 1806, aged 65”! His remains were laid
out in state, in the Great Room of the Adelphi--the true and appropriate
monument of his genius. The Society had requested the members of the
Royal Academy to decorate their Room, and when all others declined,
Barry nobly came forward, and offered his services gratuitously, which
were gladly accepted. He spent seven long years in decorating this
apartment with fresco paintings, which the Society publicly declared was
“a national ornament, as well as a monument of the talents and ingenuity
of the artist”; and Dr. Johnson said, “They shew a grasp of mind that
you will find nowhere else.” Observe the contrast: Cunningham says, that
when he began this great work, he had but a shilling in his pocket, and
during its execution he lived on the coarsest fare, in a miserable
garret, subsisting by the sale of an occasional drawing, when he could
find a purchaser!

The life of William Blake presents a picture no less melancholy. An
eccentric and extraordinary genius, he seemed, in the flights of his
wild imagination, to hold converse with the spirits of the departed; and
in some of his works there is a truly wonderful sublimity of conception
and grandeur of execution. Although not appreciated during his lifetime,
he toiled on in abject poverty with indefatigable industry, reveling in
visions of future fame. His Ancient of Days was his greatest favorite;
three days before his death, he sat bolstered up in bed, and touched it
over and over with the choicest colors, in his happiest style; then held
it off at arms’ length, exclaiming, “There! that will do! I cannot mend
it.” Observing his wife in tears, he said, “Stay, Kate! keep just as you
are; I will draw your portrait, for you have been an angel to me.” She
obeyed, and the dying artist made a fine likeness. He was cheerful and
contented to the last. “I glory,” said he, “in dying, and have no grief
but in leaving you, Katharine; we have lived happy and we have lived
long; we have ever been together, but we shall be divided soon. Why
should I fear death! Nor do I fear it. I have endeavored to live as
Christ commands, and have sought to worship God truly.” On the day of
his death, Aug. 12, 1827, he composed and sung hymns to his Maker, so
sweetly to the ear of his beloved Katharine, that she stood wrapt to
hear him. Observing this, he said to her, with looks of intense
affection, “My beloved, they are not mine--no, they are the songs of the

Young Proctor, the sculptor, was a student of the rarest promise, in the
Royal Academy. After obtaining two silver medals, the president,
Benjamin West, had the suggestion conveyed to him, that he had better
execute a historical composition. Accordingly, in the next year, Proctor
produced his model of “Ixion on the Wheel,” and in the following year,
“Pirithous slain by Cerberus,” both of which excited great admiration.
In the third year, he conceived a much bolder flight of imagination,
“Diomed torn in pieces by Wild Horses,” which was far more successful
than his previous efforts, approaching, in the opinion of the best
judges, the grandeur of Michael Angelo, and even the Phidian period of
Greek design. But this noble emanation of high native talent could not
find a purchaser, and at the close of the exhibition it was returned to
the studio of the sculptor, who, stung to the heart by this severe
disappointment, instantly destroyed his sublime creation. Derided by his
more favored but less deserving cotemporaries, Proctor shunned society,
and having exhausted all his means of support to produce this last work,
he was reduced to the greatest straits. When Mr. West, after some time,
succeeded in ascertaining the place of his obscure retreat, he stated
the circumstance to the Academy, who unanimously agreed to send Proctor
to Italy, with the usual pension, and fifty pounds besides, for
necessary preparations. This joyful intelligence was immediately
communicated to the despairing artist, but it came too late! his
constitution, undermined by want and vexation, was unable to bear the
revulsion of his feelings, and he shortly after breathed his last, “a
victim,” says his biographer, “to anti-national prejudices.”

The life of Thomas Kirk, termed the “English Raffaelle,” is another
melancholy example of unappreciated genius. Chagrin and disappointment
of his ambitious hopes, consigned him to an untimely grave. Taylor, in
his History of the Fine Arts in Great Britain, says, that a few years
ago, one of Hogarth’s pictures brought at public sale in London, more
money than the artist ever received for all his paintings together.
Nollekens, the sculptor, bought two landscapes of Richard Wilson, for
fifteen guineas, to relieve his pressing necessities. At the sale of the
effects of the former after his decease, they brought two hundred and
fifty guineas each!

Shall instances like these stain the annals of American Art, or will
this free people accord to its gifted sons the encouragement they so
richly deserve? May the sympathies of those who can perceive in painting
and sculpture, most efficient means of mental culture, refinement, and
gratification, be enlisted by these sad memories, to render timely
encouragement to exalted genius! It adds to national and individual
profit, pride, and glory. How much does America owe Robert Fulton and
Eli Whitney? Millions, untold millions!


The advantages which a country derives from the cultivation of the fine
arts, are thus admirably summed up by Sir M. A. Shee, late President of
the Royal Academy, London:--

“It should be the policy of a great nation to be liberal and
magnificent; to be free of her rewards, splendid in her establishments,
and gorgeous in her public works. These are not the expenses that sap
and mine the foundations of public prosperity, that break in upon the
capital, or lay waste the income of a state; they may be said to arise
in her most enlightened views of general advantage; to be amongst her
best and most profitable speculations; they produce large sums of
respect and consideration from our neighbors and competitors, and of
patriotic exultation among ourselves; they make men proud of their
country, and from priding it, prompt in its defense; they play upon all
the chords of generous feeling, elevate us above the animal and the
machine, and make us triumph in the powers and attributes of men.”

Sir George Beaumont, in a letter to Lord Dover, on the subject of the
purchase of the Angerstein collection by the government, speaking of the
benefit which a country derives from the possession of the best works of
art, says, “My belief is that the Apollo, the Venus, the Laocoön, &c.,
are worth many thousands a year to the country that possesses them.”
When Parliament was debating the propriety of buying the Angerstein
Collection for £60,000, he advocated the measure with enthusiasm, and
exclaimed, “Buy this collection of pictures for the nation, and I will
give you mine.” And this he nobly did, not in the form of a bequest, but
he transferred them at once as soon as the galleries were prepared for
their reception, with the exception of one little gem, with him a
household god, which he retained till his death. This picture was a
landscape by Claude, with figures representing Hagar and her child, and
he was so much attached to it that he took it with him as a constant
traveling companion. When he died, it was sent to its place in the
Gallery. The value of this collection was 70,000 guineas. Such instances
of noble generosity for public benefaction, deserve to be held in
grateful remembrance, and should be “written in letters of gold on
enduring marble,” for the imitation of mankind.

After the peace of Amiens, Benjamin West visited Paris, for the purpose
of viewing the world’s gems of art, which Bonaparte had collected
together in the Louvre. He had already conceived a project for
establishing in England a national institution for the encouragement of
art, similar to that of the Louvre, and he took occasion one day, while
strolling about the galleries in company with Mr. Fox, the British
minister, and Sir Francis Baring, to point out to them the advantages of
such an institution, not only in promoting the Fine Arts, by furnishing
models of study for artists, but he showed the propriety, in a
commercial point of view, of encouraging to a seven fold extent, the
higher department of art in England. Cunningham relates that Fox was so
forcibly struck with his remarks that he said, “I have been rocked in
the cradle of politics, but never before was so much struck with the
advantages, even in a political bearing, of the Fine Arts, to the
prosperity, as well as the renown of a kingdom; and I do assure you, Mr.
West, if I ever have it in my power to influence our government to
promote the Arts, the conversation which we have had to-day shall not be
forgotten.” Sir Francis Baring also promised his hearty coöperation.
West was mainly instrumental in establishing the Royal British
Institution. Taylor, in his History of the Fine Arts in Great Britain,
says, he battled for years against coldly calculating politicians for
its accomplishment; at length, his plan was adopted with scarcely an

“The commercial states of the classic ages of antiquity held the arts in
very high estimation. The Rhodians were deeply engaged in commerce, yet
their cultivation of the arts, more especially that of sculpture, was
most surprising. The people of Ægina were equally engaged in commercial
pursuits, but they were also admired for the correctness and elegance of
their taste and manners, as well as their sculpture. A more ancient
people still, the Phœnicians, Tyrians, Tyrrhenians, Etruscans, or
Carthagenians, who were all colonies from one race of men, long before
the foundation of Rome, understood and taught others the working in
metals, one instance of which is remarkable: Hiram, king of Tyre, cast
the brazen sea, and other immense objects in metal, for Solomon’s
temple. Let us cast our eyes on Argos, Athens, Corinth, and Sicyon,
those ancient abodes of good taste and transcendent genius; each of them
were commercial states and cities. The remains of their
beautifully-sculptured marbles, which once were in profusion, and of
which we now strive to possess even the fragments, at almost any cost,
show evidently that their commercial pursuits and relations with other
countries had not narrowed, if it had not rather developed, the powers,
and given that elastic vigor to the human mind that can, under due
encouragement, overcome the greatest difficulties, and produce the
grandest or the most enchanting works of utility or imagination. The
marble quarries of Paros and Pentelicus were by such encouragements
transformed into the noblest temples and most exquisitely beautiful
statues of deities, heroes, and men, that it is possible to conceive.
Such was the case throughout all the cities on the coast of the Ægean
sea and of the Cyclades. Their arts increased their commerce; this was
the source of their wealth; and fully aware of these advantages, their
wealth reacted again on their arts, and thus there was kept alive that
healthful movement of the whole popular mind, directed to the useful and
elegant purposes of life.

“Let us come down to much later times, and to states far less remote,
and ask what it was that gave such wealth and consequence to Venice,
Genoa, Holland, and Flanders, to Pisa, Florence, and Lucca, not one of
which states possessed much extent of territory, nor any large amount
of population? The answer is, ‘their commercial enterprise and industry
did it for them.’ True; but it is equally remarkable, that in all these
states and cities the fine arts gave their powerful aid to those
pursuits, as the splendid manufactures of these people testify. And
where have the arts been fostered with more parental solicitude, or in
what region have they shed more glory upon mankind, than they have done
in these comparatively small territories? But it was the same principle
that produced such splendid works in Greece: the cause and effect were
precisely the same, the mode only was changed. But the principles are
universal and eternal, and they may be brought to operate in other
countries, to the fullest extent, and with as much grandeur, grace, and
beauty, as they ever did attain, even in their most prosperous periods,
under the guidance of Pericles, when they reached the highest splendor
of Chryselephantine art, under the master minds of Phidias and
Praxiteles, Callicrates and Ictinus, and at a later period displayed the
equally resplendent genius of Apelles, Zeuxis, and Parrhasius, in the
time of Alexander--those splendid epochs of painting, sculpture, and
architecture, which shed an imperishable lustre upon the most
enlightened states of the Hellenodic confederacy, and on the throne of
the greatest conqueror of ancient times. We must not omit mentioning
their palmy state in the Augustan age of Rome, and their still more
glorious elevation there during the memorable _cinque cento_.

“But to reach these proud eminences of intellectual grandeur and
extensive usefulness, the arts must be solicited, ample protection must
be afforded to them; similar inducements to those which produced these
great results must not only be offered, but substantially and
permanently provided for their use. This garden of the human intellect
must be regularly and assiduously cultivated with great care, and kept
clear of the noxious weeds that would deform its beauties. Under genial
treatment, all its charms develop themselves, and an endless variety of
interesting and charming creations are called into existence,
illustrating the high principles of religion, the noblest traits of
moral and heroic conduct, and the sweetest dreams of the poetic muse:
but the turmoils of war and high political contention are to them most
injurious, blasting their fairest bloom, as the poisonous simoon of the
desert withers the gardens of Palestine; and to these two causes, and
these only, aided by anti-English prejudice, can we attribute the very
slow advances which the arts had made among the natives of Britain until
the auspicious period of which we are now treating”--time of George
III.--_Taylor’s History of the Fine Arts in Great Britain_, vol. ii, p.


Homer, who flourished about B. C. 900, gives a striking proof of the
antiquity of the fine arts, in his description of that admirable piece
of chased and inlaid work--the shield of Achilles. Its rich design
could not have been imagined, unless the arts necessary to produce it
had arrived to a high degree of perfection in his country at the time he
wrote, though we may doubt whether, at the period of the Trojan war,
three hundred years before Homer, there existed artificers capable of
executing it.

Within a century after the taking of Troy, the Greeks had founded many
new colonies in Asia Minor, and the Heraclidæ finally regained their
ancient seats in the Peloponnesus. It is worthy of remark that about
that period, David built his house of cedars, and Solomon adorned
Jerusalem with her magnificent first temple, and that Hiram, king of
Tyre, sent to Solomon “a cunning man, endued with understanding,” to
assist him in the building of the temple, but more especially to
superintend the execution of the ornaments. (1st Kings, vii, 13, and 2d
Chron., ii, 14.)


The stoa or celebrated Portico at Athens, called the Pœcile on account
of its paintings, was the pride of the Athenians. Polygnotus, Mycon, and
Pantænus adorned it with pictures of gods, heroes, benefactors, and the
most memorable acts of the Athenians, as the incidents of the siege and
sacking of Troy, the battle of Theseus against the Amazons, the battle
between the Athenians and Lacedæmonians at Œnoe in Argolis, the battle
of Marathon, and other memorable actions. The most celebrated of these
were a series of the Siege of Troy, and the Battle of Marathon by
Polygnotus, more especially the latter, which eclipsed all the others,
and gained the painter so much reputation that the Athenians offered him
any sum he should ask, and when he refused all compensation, the
Amphictyonic council decreed that wherever he might travel in Greece, he
should be received with public honors, and provided for at the public

According to Pausanias, Polygnotus represented the hero Marathon, after
whom the plain was named, in the act of receiving Minerva, the patroness
of Athens, accompanied by Hercules, about to be joined by Theseus, whose
shade is seen rising out of the earth--thus claiming Attica as his
native soil. In the foreground, the Greeks and Persians are combating
with equal valor, but in extending the view to the middle of the
composition, the barbarians were seen routed and flying to the Phœnician
ships, which were visible in the distance, and to the marshes, while the
Greeks were in hot pursuit, slaying their foes in their flight. The
principal commanders of both parties were distinguished, particularly
Mardonius, the Persian general, the insertion of whose portrait
gratified the Athenians little less than that of their own commander,
Miltiades, along with whom were Callimachus, Echetlus, and the poet
Æschylus, who was in the battle that day. It is evident that the painter
did not strictly follow history, but treated his subject in a grand
poetic and heroic style, and that too, we may rest assured, with
consummate skill, to have elicited such applause from a people too
refined to be deceived by any meretricious trickery of art.


Mosaics are ornamented works, made in ancient times, of cubes of
variously colored stones, and in modern, more frequently of glass of
different colors. The art originated in the East, and seems first to
have been introduced among the Romans in the time of Sylla. It was an
ornament in great request by the luxurious Romans, especially in the
time of the Emperors, for the decoration of every species of edifice,
and to this day they continue to discover, in the ruins of the Imperial
Baths, and elsewhere, many magnificent specimens in the finest
preservation. In Pompeii, mosaic floors and pavements may be said to
have been universal among the wealthy.

In modern times, great attention has been bestowed to revive and improve
the art, with a view to perpetuate the works of the great masters. In
this way, Guercino’s Martyrdom of St. Petronilla, and Domenichino’s
Communion of the dying St. Jerome, in St. Peter’s Church, which were
falling into decay, have been rendered eternal. Also, the
Transfiguration of Raffaelle, and other great works. Pope Clement VIII.
had the whole interior dome of St. Peter’s ornamented with this work. A
grand Mosaic, covering the whole side of a wall, representing, as some
suppose, the Battle of Platea; as others, with more probability, one of
the Victories of Alexander, was discovered in Pompeii. This work, now in
the Academy of Naples, is the admiration of connoisseurs and the
learned, not only from its antiquity, but from the beauty of its
execution. The most probable supposition is, that it is a copy of the
celebrated Victory of Arbela, by Philoxenes.

Vasari says that the art of Mosaic work had been brought to such
perfection at Venice in the time of the Bianchini, famous mosaic
painters of the 16th century, that “it would not be possible to effect
more with colors.” Lanzi observes that “the church and portico of St.
Mark remain an invaluable museum of this kind of work; where, commencing
with the 11th century, we may trace the gradual progress of design
belonging to each age, up to the present, as exhibited in many works in
mosaic, beginning from the Greeks, and continued by the Italians. They
consist chiefly of histories from the Old and New Testaments, and at the
same time, furnish very interesting notices of civic and ecclesiastical
history.” There are a multitude of mosaic pictures in the churches,
galleries, and public edifices of Italy, especially at Venice, Rome,
Florence, Milan; and some of the greatest artists were employed to
furnish the designs. In delicate ornamental work, the pieces are
multiplied by sawing into thin slabs. Some specimens made of precious
stones, are of incredible value.

In working, the different pieces are cemented together, and when dry the
surface is highly polished, which brings out the colors in great
brilliancy. The ancients usually employed different colored marbles,
stones, and shells; the Italians formerly employed brilliant stones, as
agate, jaspar, onyx, cornelian, &c., but now they employ glass


The Greek masters in sculpture have been happily designated as
“Magicians in Marble.” The taste which the Grecian people possessed for
the beautiful, is well known. It stands among the chief of those
characteristics by which they designated persons of great eminence.
Their artists considered beauty as the first object of their studies;
and by this means they surpassed all other nations, and have become
models for all ages.

Of Phidias, the most celebrated sculptor of Greece, the Athenians spoke
with rapture which knew no bounds. Lucian says, “We adore Phidias in his
works, and he partakes of the incense we offer to the gods he has made.”
Pausanias relates, that when this artist had finished his magnificent
statue of the Olympian Jupiter, Jupiter himself applauded his labors;
for when Phidias urged the god to show by some sign if the work was
agreeable to him, the pavement of the Temple was immediately struck
with lightning. Such incidents though fabulous, are valuable, inasmuch
as they serve to prove the exalted notions the people entertained of the
objects to which they relate.


Eupompus, the painter, was asked by Lysippus, the sculptor, whom, among
his predecessors, he should make the objects of his imitation? “Behold,”
said the painter, showing his friend a multitude of people passing by,
“behold my models. From nature, not from art, by whomsoever wrought,
must the artist labor, who hopes to attain honor, and extend the
boundaries of his art.”


Apelles, according to the general testimony of ancient writers, was the
most renowned painter of antiquity; hence painting is termed, by some of
the Romans, the Apellean art. He flourished in the last half of the
fourth century before Christ. Pliny affirms that he contributed more
towards perfecting the art than all other painters. He seems to have
claimed the palm in elegance and grace, or beauty, the _charis_ of the
Greeks, and the _venustas_ of the Romans; a quality for which, among the
moderns, perhaps Correggio is the most distinguished; but in the works
of Apelles, it was unquestionably connected with a proportionably
perfect design; a combination not found among the moderns. Pliny
remarks that Apelles allowed that he was equalled by Protogenes in all
respects save one, namely, in knowing when to take his hand from the
picture. From this we may infer that the deficiency in grace which he
remarked in the works of Protogenes, was owing to the excessive finish
for which that painter was celebrated. Lucian speaks of Apelles as one
of the best colorists among the ancient painters.

Apelles was famed for his industry; he is said never to have allowed a
day to pass without exercising his pencil. “_Nulla dies sine linea_,” is
a saying that arose from one of his maxims. His principal works appear
to have been generally single figures, and rarely of more than a single
group. The only large compositions of his execution that are mentioned
by the ancient writers are, Diana surrounded by her Nymphs, in which he
was allowed to have surpassed the lines of Homer from which he took the
subject; and the Procession of the High Priest of Diana at Ephesus.

In portraits, Apelles was unrivalled. He is said to have enjoyed the
exclusive privilege of painting Philip and Alexander the Great, both of
whom he painted many times. In one of his portraits of Alexander, which
was preserved in the temple of Diana at Ephesus, he represented him
wielding the thunderbolts of Jupiter: Pliny says the hand and lightning
appeared to start from the picture; and, judging from an observation in
Plutarch, the figure of the king was lighted solely by the radiance of
the lightning. Apelles received for this picture, termed the Alexander
Ceraunophorus, twenty talents of gold (about $20,000). The criticism of
Lysippus, upon this picture, which has been approved by ancients and
moderns, that a lance, as he had himself given the king, would have been
a more appropriate weapon in the hands of Alexander, than the lightnings
of Jupiter; is the criticism of a sculptor who overlooked the pictorial
value of the color, and of light and shade. The lightning would
certainly have had little effect in a work of sculpture, but had a lance
been substituted in its place in the picture of Apelles, a totally
different production would have been the result. This picture gave rise
to a saying, that there were two Alexanders, the one of Philip, the
invincible, the other of Apelles, the inimitable.

Competent judges, says Pliny, decided the portrait of Antigonus (king of
Asia Minor) on horseback, the master-piece of Apelles. He excelled
greatly in painting horses, which he frequently introduced into his
pictures. The most celebrated of all his works was the Venus Anadyomene,
which was painted for the people of Coös, and was placed in the temple
of Æsculapius on that island, where it remained until it was removed by
Augustus, who took it in lieu of 100 talents tribute, and dedicated it
in the temple of Julius Cæsar. It was unfortunately damaged on the
voyage, and was in such a decayed state in the time of Nero, that the
Emperor replaced it with a copy by a painter named Dorotheus. This
happened about 350 years after it was executed, and what then became of
it is not known. This celebrated painting, upon which every writer who
has noticed it has bestowed unqualified praise, represented Venus naked,
rising out of the ocean, squeezing the water from her hair with her
fingers, while her only veil was the silver shower that fell from her
shining locks. This picture is said to have been painted from Campaspe,
a beautiful slave of Apelles, formerly the favorite of Alexander. The
king had ordered Apelles to paint her naked portrait, and perceiving
that the painter was smitten with the charms of his beautiful model, he
gave her to him, contenting himself with the painting. He commenced a
second Venus for the people of Coös, which, according to Pliny, would
have surpassed the first, had not its completion been interrupted by the
death of the painter: the only parts finished were the head and bust.
Two portraits of Alexander painted by Apelles, were dedicated by
Augustus, in the most conspicuous part of the forum bearing his name; in
one was Alexander, with Castor and Pollux, and a figure of Victory; in
the other was Alexander in a triumphal car, accompanied by a figure of
War, with her hands pinioned behind her. The Emperor Claudius took out
the heads of Alexander, and substituted those of Augustus. The following
portraits are also mentioned among the most famous works of this great
artist: Clitus preparing for Battle; Antigonus in armor, walking by the
side of his Horse; and Archelaus the General, with his wife and
daughter. Pausanias mentions a draped figure of one of the Graces by
him, which he saw in the Odeon at Smyrna. A famous back view of a
Hercules, in the temple of Antonius at Rome, was said to have been by
Apelles. He painted many other famous works: Pliny mentions a naked
figure by him, which he says challenged Nature herself. The same author
says he covered his pictures with a dark transparent liquid or varnish,
which had the effect of harmonising the colors, and also of preserving
the work from injury.

Pliny says Apelles was the first artist who painted tetrachromes, or
paintings executed with four colors, viz.; lamp black, white chalk,
ruddle, and yellow ochre; yet, in describing his Venus Anadyomene, he
says she was rising from the green or azure ocean under a bright blue
sky. Zeuxis painted grapes so naturally as to deceive the birds. Where
got he his green and purple? There has been a great deal of useless
disquisition about the merits of ancient painters, and the materials
they employed. When we take into consideration their thorough system of
education; that the sister arts had been brought to such perfection as
to render them the models of all succeeding times; that these painters
enjoyed the highest honors and admiration of their polished countrymen,
who, it must be admitted, were competent to judge of the merits of
their works; that the Romans prized and praised them as much as the
Greeks themselves; that there were in Rome in the time of Pliny many
ancient paintings 600 years old, still retaining all their original
freshness and beauty, it can scarcely be doubted that the paintings of
the great Greek artists equaled the best of the moderns; that they
possessed all the requisite colors and materials; and, if they did not
possess all those now known, they had others unknown to us. It is
certain that they employed canvass for paintings of a temporary
character, as decorations; and that they treated every subject, both
such as required those colors suitable to represent the solemnity and
dignity of the gods, as well as others of the most delicate tints, with
which to depict flowers; for the Venus of Apelles, and the Flower-Girl
of Pausias must have glowed with Titian tints to have attracted such
admiration. Colonel Leake, in his Topography of Athens, speaking of the
temple of Theseus, says that the stucco still bears the marks or stains
of the ancient paintings, in which he distinctly recognized the blue
sky, vestiges of bronze and gold colored armor, and blue, green, and red
draperies. What then becomes of the tetrachromes of Apelles, and the
monochromes of previous artists? for Mycon painted the Theseum near 200
years before the time of Apelles.


It was customary with Apelles to expose to public view the works which
he had finished, and to hide himself behind the canvass, in order to
hear the remarks made by spectators. He once overheard himself blamed by
a shoemaker for a fault in the slippers of some figure; having too much
good sense to be offended with any objection, however trifling, which
came from a competent judge, he corrected the fault which the man had
noticed. On the following day, however, the shoemaker began to
animadvert upon the leg; on which Apelles, with some anger, looked out
from the canvass, and reproved him in these words, which are also become
a proverb, “_ne sutor ultra crepidam_”--“let the cobbler keep to his
last,” or “every man to his trade.”


In finishing a drawing of a horse, in the portraiture of which he much
excelled, a very remarkable circumstance is related of him. He had
painted a war horse returning from battle, and had succeeded to his
wishes in describing nearly every mark that could indicate a
high-mettled steed impatient of restraint; there was wanting nothing but
a foam of bloody hue issuing from the mouth. He again and again
endeavored to express this, but his attempts were unsuccessful. At last
in vexation, he threw against the mouth of the horse a sponge filled
with different colors, which produced the very effect desired by the
painter. A similar story is related of Protogenes, in painting his
picture of Jalysus and his Dog.


Apelles was held in great esteem by Alexander the Great, and was
admitted into the most intimate familiarity with him. He executed a
portrait of this prince in the character of a thundering Jove; a piece
which was finished with such skill and dexterity, that it used to be
said there were “two Alexanders, the one invincible, the son of Philip,
and the other inimitable, the production of Apelles.” Alexander appears
to have been a patron of the fine arts more from vanity than taste; and
it is related, as an instance of those freedoms which Apelles was
permitted to use with him, that when on one occasion he was talking in
this artist’s painting room very ignorantly of the art of painting,
Apelles requested him to be silent lest the boys who ground his colors
should laugh at him. On another occasion, when he had painted a picture
of his famous war-horse, Alexander did not seem to appreciate its
excellence; but Bucephalus, on seeing his own portrait, began to prance
and neigh, when the painter observed that the horse was a better judge
of painting than his master.


Apelles, being highly delighted with a picture of Jalysus, painted by
Protogenes of Rhodes, sailed thither to pay him a visit. Protogenes was
gone from home, but an old woman was left watching a large piece of
canvass which was fitted in a frame for painting. She told Apelles that
Protogenes was gone out, and asked him his name, that she might inform
her master who had inquired for him. “Tell him,” said Apelles, “he was
inquired for by this person,” at the same time taking up a pencil, and
drawing on the canvass a line of great delicacy. When Protogenes
returned, the old woman acquainted him with what had happened. The
artist, upon contemplating the fine stroke of the pencil, immediately
proclaimed that Apelles must have been there, for so finished a work
could be produced by no other person. Protogenes, however, drew a finer
line of another color; and as he was going away ordered the old woman to
show that line to Apelles if he came again, and to say, “This is the
person for whom you were inquiring.” When Apelles returned and saw the
line, he resolved not to be overcome, and in a color different from
either of the former, he drew some lines so exquisitely delicate, that
it was impossible for finer strokes to be made. Having done so, he
departed. Protogenes now confessed the superiority of Apelles; flew to
the harbor in search of him; and resolved to leave the canvass as it
was, with the lines on it, for the astonishment of future artists. It
was in after years taken to Rome, and was there seen by Pliny, who
speaks of it as having the appearance of a large black surface, the
extreme delicacy of the lines rendering them invisible, except on close
inspection. They were drawn with different colors, the one upon or
rather within, the other. This picture (continues Pliny), was handed
down, a wonder for posterity, but especially for artists; and,
notwithstanding it contained only those three scarcely visible lines
(_tres lineas_), still it was the most noble work in the Gallery, though
surrounded by many finished paintings by renowned masters.

This celebrated contest of lines between Apelles and Protogenes, is a
subject which has greatly perplexed painters and critics; and in fact,
Carducci asserts that Michael Angelo and other great artists treated the
idea with contempt. The picture was preserved in the gallery of the
Imperial palace on the Palatine, and was destroyed by the first fire
that consumed that palace, in the time of Augustus; therefore it could
not have been seen by Pliny, and the account must have been related by
him from some other work. In regard to its vagueness, one of the
principal causes, undoubtedly, is a mutilation of the text; but the
whole thing is told with obscurity. Suffice it to say, that in the
opinion of Professor Tölken of Berlin, and the best modern critics, this
wonderful piece could not have contained only _three simple lines_, as
stated by Pliny, else how could it have been termed “the most noble work
in the gallery, and the wonder of posterity.”

At the time this occurrence took place, Protogenes lived in a state of
poverty and neglect; but the generous notice of Apelles soon caused him
to be valued as he deserved by the Rhodians. Apelles acknowledged that
Protogenes was even in some respects his superior; the chief fault he
found with him was, that “he did not know when to take his hand from his
work;” a phrase which has become proverbial among artists. He
volunteered to purchase all the works he had by him, at any price he
should name, and when Protogenes estimated them far below their real
value, he offered him fifty talents, and spread the report that he
intended to sell them as his own. He thus opened the eyes of the
Rhodians to the merit of their painter, and they accordingly secured his
works at a still higher price.

In Protogenes, the able rival of Apelles, the arts received one of the
highest tokens of regard they were ever favored with; for when Demetrius
Poliorcetes was besieging the city of Rhodes, and might have taken it by
assaulting it on the side where Protogenes resided, he forbore, lest he
should do an injury to his works; and when the Rhodians delivered the
place to him, requesting him to spare the pictures of this admired
artist, he replied, “that he would sooner destroy the images of his
forefathers, than the productions of Protogenes.”



Cunningham says, “John West, the father of Benjamin, was of that family
settled at Long-Crendon, in Buckinghamshire, which produced Colonel
James West, the friend and companion in arms of John Hampden. Upon one
occasion, in the course of a conversation in Buckingham palace,
respecting his picture of the Institution of the Garter, West happened
to make some allusion to his English descent, when the Marquis of
Buckingham, to the manifest pleasure of the king, declared that the
Wests of Long-Crendon were undoubted descendants of the Lord Delaware,
renowned in the wars of Edward the Third and the Black Prince, and that
the artist’s likeness had therefore a right to a place amongst those of
the nobles and warriors, in his historical picture.”


Galt says Benjamin’s birth was brought on prematurely by a vehement
sermon, preached in the fields, by Edward Peckover, on the corrupt state
of the Old World, which he prophesied was about to be visited with the
tempest of God’s judgments, the wicked to be swallowed up, and the
terrified remnant compelled to seek refuge in happy America. Mrs. West
was so affected that she swooned away, was carried home severely ill,
and the pains of labor came upon her; she was, however, safely
delivered, and the preacher consoled the parents by predicting that “a
child sent into the world under such remarkable circumstances, would
assuredly prove a wonderful man,” and admonished them to watch over
their son with more than ordinary care.


The first remarkable incident recorded of the infant prodigy, occurred
in his seventh year; when, being placed to watch the sleeping infant of
his eldest sister, he drew a sort of likeness of the child, with a pen,
in red and black ink. His mother returned, and snatching the paper which
he sought to conceal, exclaimed to her daughter, “I declare, he has made
a likeness of little Sally!” She took him in her arms, and kissed him
fondly. This feat appeared so wonderful in the eyes of his parents that
they recalled to mind the prediction of Peckover.


When he was about eight years old, a party of Indians, who were always
kindly treated by the followers of George Fox, paid their summer visit
to Springfield, and struck with the rude sketches which the boy had made
of birds, fruit, and flowers, they taught him to prepare the red and
yellow colors with which they stained their weapons and ornamented their
skins; his mother added indigo, and thus he was possessed of three
primary colors. The Indians also instructed him in archery.


The wants of the child increased with his knowledge; he could draw, and
had colors, but how to lay them on skillfully, he could not conceive; a
pen would not answer, and he tried feathers with no better success; a
neighbor informed him that it was done with a camel’s hair pencil, but
as such a thing was not to be had, he bethought himself of the cat, and
supplied himself from her back and tail. The cat was a favorite, and the
altered condition of her fur was attributed to disease, till the boy’s
confession explained the cause, much to the amusement of his parents and
friends. His cat’s tail pencils enabled him to make more satisfactory
efforts than he had before done.


When he was only eight years old, a merchant of Philadelphia, named
Pennington, and a cousin of the Wests, was so much pleased with the
sketches of little Benjamin, that he sent him a box of paints and
pencils, with canvass prepared for the easel, and six engravings by
Gribelin. The child was perfectly enraptured with his treasure; he
carried the box about in his arms, and took it to his bedside, but could
not sleep. He rose with the dawn, carried his canvass and colors to the
garret, hung up the engravings, prepared a palette, and commenced work.
So completely was he under this species of enchantment, that he absented
himself from school, labored secretly and incessantly, and without
interruption, for several days, when the anxious inquiries of his
schoolmaster introduced his mother into his _studio_, with no pleasure
in her looks. He had avoided copyism, and made a picture, composed from
two of the engravings, telling a new story, and colored with a skill and
effect which, to her eyes, appeared wonderful. Galt, who wrote West’s
life, and had the story from the artist’s own lips, says, “She kissed
him with transports of affection, and assured him that she would not
only intercede with his father to pardon him for having absented himself
from school, but would go herself to the master, and beg that he might
not be punished. Sixty-seven years afterwards the writer of these
memoirs had the gratification to see this piece, in the same room with
the sublime painting of Christ Rejected (West’s brother had sent it to
him from Springfield), on which occasion the painter declared to him
that there were inventive touches of art in his first and juvenile
essay, which, with all his subsequent knowledge and experience, he had
not been able to surpass.” A similar story is told of Canova, who
visited his native place towards the close of his brilliant career, and
looking earnestly at his youthful performances, sorrowfully said, “I
have been walking, but not climbing.”


In the ninth year of his age, he accompanied his relative Pennington to
Philadelphia, and executed a view of the banks of the river, which so
much pleased a painter named Williams, that he took him to his studio,
and showed him all his pictures, at the sight of which he was so
affected that he burst into tears. The artist, surprised, declared like
Peckover that Benjamin would be a remarkable man; he gave him two books,
Du Fresnoy, and Richardson on Painting, and invited him to call whenever
he pleased, to see his pictures. From this time, Benjamin resolved to
become a painter, and returned home with the love of painting too firmly
implanted to be eradicated. His parents, also, though the art was not
approved by the Friends, now openly encouraged him, being strongly
impressed with the opinion that he was _predestinated_ to become a great


His notions of a painter at this time were also very grand, as the
following characteristic anecdote will show. One of his school-fellows
allured him, on a half holiday from school, to take a ride with him to a
neighboring plantation. “Here is the horse, bridled and saddled,” said
the boy, “so come, get up behind me.” “Behind you!” said Benjamin; “I
will ride behind nobody.” “Oh, very well,” replied the other; “I will
ride behind you, so mount.” He mounted accordingly, and away they rode.
“This is the last ride I shall have for some time,” said his companion;
“to-morrow I am to be apprenticed to a tailor.” “A tailor!” exclaimed
West; “you will surely never be a tailor?” “Indeed but I shall,” replied
the other; “it is a good trade. What do you intend to be, Benjamin?” “A
painter.” “A painter! what sort of a trade is a painter? I never heard
of it before.” “A painter,” said West, “is the companion of kings and
emperors.” “You are surely mad,” said the embryo tailor; “there are
neither kings nor emperors in America.” “Aye, but there are plenty in
other parts of the world. And do you really intend to be a tailor?”
“Indeed I do; there is nothing surer.” “Then you may ride alone,” said
the future companion of kings and emperors, leaping down; “I will not
ride with one who is willing to be a tailor!”


West’s first patron was Mr. Wayne, the father of General Anthony Wayne,
who gave him a dollar a piece for two small pictures he made on poplar
boards which a carpenter had given him. Another patron was Mr. Flower, a
justice of Chester, who took young West to his house for a short time,
where he was made acquainted with a young English lady, governess to Mr.
Flower’s daughters, who had a good knowledge of art, and told him
stories of Greek and Roman history, fit for a painter’s pencil. He had
never before heard of the heroes, philosophers, poets, painters, and
historians of Greece and Rome, and he listened while the lady spoke of
them, with an enthusiasm which he loved to live over again in his old
age. His first painting which attracted much notice was a portrait of
Mrs. Ross, a very beautiful lady, the wife of a lawyer of Lancaster.
The picture was regarded as a wonderful performance, and gained him so
much reputation, says Galt, “that the citizens came in such crowds to
sit to the boy for portraits, that he had some trouble in meeting the
demand.” At the same time, a gunsmith, named Henry, who had a classic
turn, commissioned him to paint a picture of the Death of Socrates. West
forthwith made a sketch which his employer thought excellent, but he now
began to see his difficulties, and feel his deficiencies. “I have
hitherto painted faces,” said he, “and people clothed. What am I to do
with the slave who presents the poison? He ought, I think, to be painted
naked.” Henry went to his shop, and returned with one of his workmen, a
handsome young negro man half naked, saying, “There is your model.” He
accordingly introduced him into his picture, which excited great


West was now fifteen years old. Dr. Smith, Provost of the College at
Philadelphia, happened to see him at Lancaster, and perceiving his
wonderful talents, and that his education was being neglected,
generously proposed to his father to take him with him to Philadelphia,
where he proposed to direct his studies, and to instruct him in all the
learning most important for a painter to know.


The art of painting being regarded by the Quakers as not only useless
but pernicious, “in preserving voluptuous images, and adding to the
sensual gratifications of man,” Mr. West determined to submit the matter
to the wisdom of the Society, before giving a positive answer. He
accordingly sent for his son to attend the solemn assembly. The Friends
met, and the spirit of speech first descended on John Williamson, who,
according to Galt, thus spake: “To John West and Sarah Pearson, a
man-child hath been born, on whom God hath conferred some remarkable
gifts of mind; and you have all heard that, by something amounting to
inspiration, the youth has been induced to study the art of painting. It
is true that our tenets refuse to own the utility of that art to
mankind, but it seemeth to me that we have considered the matter too
nicely. God hath bestowed on this youth a genius for art--shall we
question his wisdom? Can we believe that he gives such rare gifts but
for a wise and good purpose? I see the Divine hand in this; we shall do
well to sanction the art and encourage this youth.” The Quakers gave
their unanimous consent, and summoned the youth before them. He came,
and took his station in the middle of the room, his father on his right
hand, his mother on his left, while around him gathered the whole
assembly. One of the women first spake, but the words of Williamson,
says Galt, are alone remembered. “Painting,” said he, “has hitherto
been employed to embellish life, to preserve voluptuous images, and add
to the sensual gratifications of men. For this we classed it among vain
and merely ornamental things, and excluded it from amongst us. But this
is not the principle but the mis-employment of painting. In wise and
pure hands, it rises in the scale of moral excellence, and displays a
loftiness of sentiment, and a devout dignity, worthy of the
contemplation of Christians. I think genius is given by God for some
high purpose. What the purpose is, let us not inquire--it will be
manifest in His own good time and way. He hath in this remote wilderness
endowed with rich gifts of a superior spirit this youth, who has now our
consent to cultivate his talents for art; may it be demonstrated in his
life and works, that the gifts of God have not been bestowed in vain,
nor the motives of the beneficent inspiration, which induces us to
suspend the strict operations of our tenets, prove barren of religious
and moral effect!” At the conclusion of this address, says Galt, the
women rose and kissed the young artist, and the men, one by one, laid
their hands on his head. The scene made so strong an impression on the
mind of West, that he looked upon himself as expressly dedicated to art,
and considered this release from the strict tenets of his sect, as
enjoining on his part a covenant to employ his powers on subjects pure
and holy. The grave simplicity of the Quaker continued to the last in
his looks, manners, and deportment; and the moral rectitude and
internal purity of the man were diffused through all his productions.


At about eighteen years of age, West commenced portrait painting as a
profession in Philadelphia. His extreme youth, the peculiar
circumstances of his history, and his undoubted merit, brought him many
sitters. His prices were very humble--$12.50 for a head, and $25 for a
full-length; all the money he thus laboriously earned, he carefully
treasured, to secure, at some future period, the means of travel and
study; for his sagacious mind perceived that travel not only influenced
public opinion, but was absolutely necessary for him if he wished to
excel, especially in historical painting. There were no galleries in
America; he knew that the masterpieces of art were in Italy, and he had
already set his heart on visiting that delightful country. He made a
copy of a picture of St. Ignatius, by Murillo, which had been captured
in a Spanish vessel, and belonged to Governor Hamilton; he also painted
a large picture for Mr. Cox, from the history of Susanna, the Elders,
and Daniel, in which he introduced no less than forty figures. This work
gained him great reputation, and West always considered it the
masterpiece of his youth; it was afterwards unfortunately destroyed by
fire. After having painted the portraits of all who desired it in
Philadelphia, he proceeded to New York, where he opened a studio, and
Dunlap says for eleven months he had all the portraits he could execute,
at double the prices he had charged in Philadelphia. An opportunity now
presented itself, which enabled him to gratify his long cherished desire
of going to Italy. The harvest had partially failed in that country, and
Mr. Allen, a merchant of Philadelphia, was loading a ship with wheat and
flour for Leghorn. He had resolved to send his son as supercargo, to
give him the benefit of travel, and West’s invaluable friend, Provost
Smith, made arrangements for the young painter to accompany the young
merchant. It happened that a New York merchant, of the name of Kelly,
was sitting for his portrait when this good news arrived, and West with
joy spoke to him of the great advantage he expected to derive from a
residence of two or three years in Italy. The portrait being finished,
Mr. Kelly paid him ten guineas, and gave him a letter to his agent in
Philadelphia, which, on being presented, proved to be an order from the
generous merchant to pay him fifty guineas, as “a present to aid in his
equipment for Italy.”


West arrived at Rome on the 10th of July, 1760, in the 22d year of his
age. Cunningham thus describes his reception: “When it was known that a
young American had come to study Raffaelle and Michael Angelo, some
curiosity was excited among the Roman virtuosi. The first fortunate
exhibitor of this lion from the western wilderness was Lord Grantham,
the English ambassador, to whom West had letters. He invited West to
dinner, and afterwards took him to an evening party, where he found
almost all those persons to whom he had brought letters of introduction.
Among the rest was Cardinal Albani, who, though old and blind, had such
delicacy of touch that he was considered supreme in all matters of
judgment regarding medals and intaglios. ‘I have the honor,’ said Lord
Grantham, ‘to present you a young American, who has a letter for your
Eminence, and who has come to Italy for the purpose of studying the Fine
Arts.’ The Cardinal knew so little of the New World, that he conceived
an American must needs be a savage. ‘Is he black or white?’ said the
aged virtuoso, holding out both hands, that he might have the
satisfaction of touching, at least, this new wonder. Lord Grantham
smiled and said, ‘he is fair--very fair.’ ‘What! as fair as I am?’
exclaimed the prelate. Now the complexion of the churchman was a deep
olive--that of West more than commonly fair; and as they stood together,
the company smiled. ‘As fair as the Cardinal,’ became for a while
proverbial. Others, who had the use of their eyes, seemed to consider
the young American as at most a better kind of savage, and accordingly
were curious to watch him. They wished to try what effect the Apollo,
the Venus, and the works of Raffaelle would have upon him, and thirty of
the most magnificent equipages in the capital, filled with some of the
most erudite characters in Europe, says Galt, conducted the young Quaker
to view the masterpieces of art. It was agreed that the Apollo should be
first submitted to his view; the statue was enclosed in a case, and when
the keeper threw open the doors, West unconsciously exclaimed, ‘My God!
a young Mohawk warrior!’ The Italians were surprised and mortified with
the comparison of their noblest statue to a wild savage; and West,
perceiving the unfavorable impression, proceeded to remove it. He
described the Mohawks, the natural elegance and admirable symmetry of
their persons, the elasticity of their limbs, and their motions free and
unconstrained. ‘I have seen them often,’ he continued, ‘standing in the
attitude of this Apollo, and pursuing with an intense eye the arrow
which they had just discharged from the bow.’ The Italians cleared their
moody brows, and allowed that a better criticism had rarely been made.
West was no longer a barbarian.”


The excitement to which West was subjected at Rome, his intense
application, and his anxiety to distinguish himself, brought on a fever,
and for a time, interrupted his studies; by the advice of his
physicians, he returned to Leghorn, for the benefit of the sea air,
where, after a lingering sickness of eleven months, he was completely
cured. But he found his funds almost exhausted, and he began to despair
of being able to prosecute his studies according to the proposed plan.
He called on his agents, to take up the last ten pounds he had in the
world, when to his astonishment and joy, he was handed a letter of
unlimited credit from his old friends in Philadelphia, Mr. Allen and
Governor Hamilton; they had heard of his glorious reception at Rome, and
his success with the portrait of Lord Grantham. At a dinner, one day,
with Governor Hamilton, Mr Allen said, “I regard this young man as an
honor to his country, and as he is the first that America has sent out
to cultivate the Fine Arts, he shall not be frustrated in his studies,
for I shall send him whatever money he may require.” “I think with you,
sir,” replied Hamilton, “but you must not have all the honor to
yourself; allow me to unite with you in the responsibility of the
credit.” Those who befriend genius when it is struggling for
distinction, are public benefactors, and their names should be held in
grateful remembrance. The names of Hamilton, Allen, Smith, Kelly,
Jackson, Rutherford, and Lord Grantham, must be dear to all the admirers
of West; they aided him in the infancy of his fame and fortune, cheered
him when he was drooping and desponding; and watched over his person and
purse with the vigilance of true friendship. West always expressed his
deepest obligation to these generous men, and it was at his particular
request that Galt recorded their names, and their deeds.


West now proceeded with redoubled alacrity, to execute the plan
recommended by Mengs. He visited Florence, Bologna, Parma, and Venice,
and diligently examined everything worth studying. He everywhere
received marks of attention, and was elected a member of the Academies
of Florence, Bologna, and Parma. In the latter city, he painted and
presented to the Academy, a copy of the famous St. Jerome by Correggio,
“of such excellence,” says Galt, “that the reigning prince desired to
see the artist. He went to court, and to the utter astonishment of the
attendants, appeared with his hat on. The prince was familiar with the
tenets of the Quakers, and was a lover of William Penn; he received the
young artist with complacency, and dismissed him with many expressions
of regard.” West returned to Rome, where he painted two pictures which
were highly commended, one of Cimon and Iphigenia, and the other of
Angelica and Medora. At Venice, he particularly studied the works of
Titian, and Cunningham says, “he imagined he had discovered his
principles of coloring.”


As West was conversing one evening with Gavin Hamilton in the British
Coffee House, at Rome, an old man, with a long and flowing beard and a
harp in his hand, entered and offered his services as an improvisatore
bard. “Here is an American,” said the wily Scot, “come to study the Fine
Arts in Rome; take him for your theme, and, it is a magnificent one.”
The minstrel casting a glance at West, who never in his life could
perceive what a joke was, commenced his song. “I behold in this youth an
instrument chosen by heaven to create in his native country a taste for
those arts which have elevated the nature of man--an assurance that his
land will be the refuge of science and knowledge, when in the old age of
Europe they shall have forsaken her shores. All things of heavenly
origin move westward, and Truth, and Art, have their periods of light
and darkness. Rejoice, O Rome, for thy spirit immortal and undecayed now
spreads towards a new world, where, like the soul of man in Paradise, it
will be perfected more and more.” The prediction of Peckover, the fond
expressions of his beloved mother, and his solemn dedication to art,
rushed upon West’s memory, and he burst into tears; and even in his
riper years, he was willing to consider the poor mendicant’s song as
another prophecy.


There are other minor matters, says Cunningham, which help a man on to
fame and fortune. West was a skillful skater, and in America had formed
an acquaintance on the ice with Colonel Howe. One day, the painter
having tied on his skates at the Serpentine, was astonishing the timid
practitioners of London with the rapidity of his motions, and the
graceful figure which he cut. Some one shouted “West! West!” It was
Colonel Howe. “I am glad to see you,” said he, “and not less so that you
came in good time to vindicate my praises of American skating.” He
called to him Lord Spencer Hamilton, and some of the Cavendishes, to
whom he introduced West as one of the Philadelphia prodigies of skating,
and requested him to show them what was called “the Salute.” He
performed this feat so much to their satisfaction that they spread the
praises of the American skater all over London. West was exceedingly
fond of this invigorating amusement, and used frequently to gratify
large crowds by cutting the Philadelphia Salute. Cunningham says, “Many
to the praise of skating, added panegyrics on his professional skill,
and not a few to vindicate their applause, followed him to his easel,
and sat for their portraits.”


A change was now to be effected in the character of British art.
Hitherto, historical painting had appeared in a masking habit; the
actions of Englishmen, says Cunningham, had all been performed, if
costume were to be believed, by Greeks and Romans. West dismissed at
once this pedantry, and restored nature and propriety in his noble work
of “the Death of Wolfe.” The multitude acknowledged its excellence at
once, on its being exhibited at the Royal Academy; but the lovers of
old art, or of the compositions called _classical_, complained of the
barbarism of boots, buttons, and blunderbusses, and cried out for naked
warriors, with bows, bucklers, and battering rams. Lord Grosvenor was so
pleased with the picture, that, disregarding the frowns of amateurs, and
the cold approbation of the Academy, he purchased it. Galt says that the
king questioned West concerning this picture, and put him on his defense
of this new heresy in art. “When it was understood,” said the artist,
“that I intended to paint the characters as they had actually appeared
on the scene, the Archbishop of York called on Reynolds, and asked his
opinion; they both came to my house to dissuade me from running so great
a risk. Reynolds began a very ingenious and elegant dissertation on the
state of the public taste in this country, and the danger which every
innovator incurred of contempt and ridicule, and concluded by urging me
earnestly to adopt the costume of antiquity, as more becoming the
greatness of my subject than the modern garb of European warriors. I
answered that the event to be commemorated happened in the year 1758, in
a region of the world unknown to the Greeks and Romans, and at a period
of time when no warriors who wore such costume existed. The subject I
have to represent is a great battle fought and won, and the same truth
which gives law to the historian, should rule the painter. If instead of
the facts of the action, I introduce fiction, how shall I be understood
by posterity? The classic dress is certainly picturesque, but by using
it, I shall lose in sentiment what I gain in external grace. I want to
mark the place, the time, and the people, and to do this, I must abide
by truth. They went away, and returned again when I had finished the
painting. Reynolds seated himself before the picture, examined it with
deep and minute attention for half an hour; then rising, said to
Drummond, ‘West has conquered; he has treated his subject as it ought to
be treated; I retract my objections. I foresee that this picture will
not only become one of the most popular, but will occasion a revolution
in art.’ ‘I wish,’ said the king, ‘that I had known all this before, for
the objection has been the means of Lord Grosvenor’s getting the
picture; but you shall make a copy for me.’”


Michael Angelo was descended from the noble family of Canosa. From his
earliest infancy, he discovered a passion for drawing and sculpture. It
is said that his nurse was the wife of a poor sculptor, or as some say,
a mason. His father, Lodovico Simone Buonarotti, intended him for one of
the learned professions, and placed him in a grammar school at Florence.
Here young Angelo soon manifested the greatest fondness for drawing, and
became quite intimate with the students in painting. The decided bent
of his genius induced his parents, against their wishes, to place him at
the age of fourteen under the instruction of Domenico Ghirlandaio. He
made such rapid progress, that he soon not only surpassed all his fellow
disciples, but even his instructor, so that he was able to correct
Domenico’s drawing.

While pursuing his studies under Ghirlandaio, he was accustomed to visit
the gardens of the Grand Duke, (Lorenzo the Magnificent) to study the
antique. One day, when he was about fifteen years of age, he found a
piece of marble in the garden, and carved it into the mask of a satyr,
borrowing the design from an antique fragment. Lorenzo, on seeing the
work, was struck with its excellence, and jestingly told the young
Angelo that he had made a mistake in giving a full set of teeth to an
old man. This hint was not lost; the next day it was found that the
artist had broken one of the teeth from the upper jaw, and drilled a
hole in the gum to represent the cavity left by the lost tooth. The
first work executed by Michael Angelo, on his return to Florence from
Bologna, where he had fled on account of the disturbances in the former
city, was a Sleeping Cupid, in marble, which considerably enhanced his
reputation; but so great was the prejudice in favor of the antique, that
by the advice of a friend, Michael Angelo sent his statue to Rome, to
undergo the process of burial, in order to give it the appearance of a
work of ancient art, before it should be submitted to public inspection.
This fraud, like many of a similar kind at this time practiced,
succeeded completely; and the Cupid was eagerly purchased by the
Cardinal St. Giorgio, for 200 ducats. It was not long before the
Cardinal was told that a trick had been played upon him, and he sent a
person to Florence, in order to ascertain, if possible the truth of the
charge. The latter repaired to the studios of the different artists in
that city, on the pretence of seeing their productions. On visiting the
_atelier_ of Michael Angelo, he requested to see a specimen of his work;
but not having anything finished at the time, he carelessly took up a
pen, and made a sketch of a hand. The Cardinal’s messenger, struck by
the freedom and grandeur of the style, inquired what was the last work
he had executed. The artist, without consideration, answered at the
moment, it was a Sleeping Cupid; and so minutely described the supposed
antique statue, that there remained no doubt whose work it was. The
messenger at once confessed the object of his journey, and so strongly
recommended Michael Angelo to visit Rome, that he soon after went to
that city, on the express invitation of the Cardinal St. Giorgio
himself. Here he executed several admirable works, among which the
Pietá, or dead Christ, has been highly extolled for the great knowledge
of anatomy displayed in the figure. He afterwards returned to Florence,
where he executed his celebrated marble statue of David.


Julius the Second, a patron of genius and learning, having ascended the
papal throne, Michael Angelo was among the first invited to Rome, and
was immediately employed by the pope in the execution of a magnificent
mausoleum. On the completion of the design, it was difficult to find a
site befitting its splendor; and it was finally determined to rebuild
St. Peter’s, in order that this monument might be contained in a
building of corresponding magnificence. Thus originated the design of
that edifice, which was one hundred and fifty years in completion, and
which is now the noblest triumph of architectural genius the world can
boast. The completion of this grand monument was delayed by various
causes during the pontificates of several succeeding popes, until the
time of Paul III. It was not placed in St. Peter’s, as originally
intended, but in the church of S. Pietro, in Vincoli. On this monument
is the celebrated colossal statue of Moses, which ranks Michael Angelo
among the first sculptors, and has contributed largely to his renown.


Michael Angelo’s greatest architectural work was the cupola of St.
Peter’s church. Bramante, the original architect, had executed his
design only up to the springing of the four great arches of the central
intersection. Giuliano di Sangallo, Giocondo, Raffaelle, Peruzzi, and
Antonio Sangallo, had been successively engaged, after Bramante’s
decease, to carry on the work; but during the inert sway of Adrian VI.,
and amid the catastrophes of Clement VII., little had been accomplished.
At length Paul III. appointed Michael Angelo to the post of architect,
much against his will, as he was then seventy-two years of age. He
immediately laid aside all the drawings and models of his predecessors,
and taking the simple subject of the original idea, he carried it out
with remarkable purity, divesting it of all the intricacies and
puerilities of the previous successors of Bramante, and by its
unaffected dignity, and unity of conception, he rendered the interior of
the cupola superior to any similar work of modern times. He was engaged
upon it seventeen years, and at the age of eighty-seven he had a model
prepared of the dome, which he carried up to a considerable height; in
fact, to such a point as rendered it impossible to deviate from his
plan; and it was completed in conformity with his design, by Giacomo
della Porta, and Domenico Fontana. The work was greatly delayed in
consequence of the want of necessary funds, or else Michael Angelo would
have himself completed this great monument of his taste and skill. If we
are indebted to Bramante for the first simple plan of the Greek Cross of
St. Peter’s, and the idea of a cupola to crown the centre, still it must
be allowed that to Michael Angelo is due the merit of carrying out the
conception of the original architect, with a beauty of proportion, a
simplicity and unity of form, a combination of dignity and magnificence
of decoration, beyond what even the powers of Bramante could have

Such was the unparalleled eminence which this wonderful genius attained
in the three sister arts of sculpture, architecture, and painting. His
chief characteristics were grandeur and sublimity. His powers were
little adapted to represent the gentle and the beautiful; but whatever
in nature partook of the sublime and the terrible, were portrayed by him
with such fidelity and grandeur as intimidates the beholder. Never
before nor since has the world beheld so powerful a genius. The name of
Michael Angelo will be immortal as long as the peopled walls of the
Sistine chapel endure, or the mighty fabric of St. Peter’s rears its
proud dome above the spires of the Eternal city.


Lanzi says that Lorenzo the Magnificent, desirous of encouraging the
statuary art, then on the decline in his country, had collected in his
gardens many antique marbles, which he committed to the care of
Bertoldo. He requested Ghirlandaio to send him a talented young man, to
be educated there, and he sent him Michael Angelo, then a youth of
sixteen. Lorenzo was so pleased with his genius that he took him into
his palace, rather as a relative than a dependent, placing him at the
same table with his own sons, with Poliziano and other learned men who
graced his residence. During the four years that he remained there, he
laid the foundation of all his acquirements.


According to Condivi, Michael Angelo devoted twelve years to the study
of anatomy, with great injury to his health, and this course “determined
his style, his practice, and his glory.” His perfect knowledge of the
human body was best shown in his famous Cartoon of the Battle of Pisa,
prepared in competition with Leonardo da Vinci, in the saloon of the
public palace at Florence. Angelo did not rest satisfied with
representing the Florentines, cased in armor, and mingling with their
enemies in deadly combat; but choosing the moment of the attack upon the
van, while bathing in the river Arno, he seized the opportunity of
representing many naked figures, as they rushed to arms from the water,
by which he was enabled to introduce a prodigious variety of
foreshortenings, and attitudes the most energetic--in a word, the
highest perfection of his peculiar excellence. Cellini observes of this
work, that “when Michael Angelo painted in the chapel of Julius II., he
did not reach half that dignity;” and Vasari says that “all the artists
who studied and designed after this cartoon, became eminent.”

This sublime production has perished, and report, though not
authenticated, accuses Baccio Bandinelli of having destroyed it, either
that others might not derive advantage from its study, or, because of
his partiality to Vinci and his hatred to Buonarotti he wished to remove
a subject of comparison that might exalt the reputation of the latter
above that of the former.


Lanzi says, “In the succeeding pontificates (to that of Julius II.)
Michael Angelo, always occupied in sculpture and architecture, almost
wholly abandoned painting, till he was induced by Paul III. to resume
the pencil. Clement VII. had conceived the design of employing him in
the Sistine chapel, on two other grand historical pictures--the Fall of
the Angels, over the gate; and the Last Judgment, in the opposite
façade, over the altar. Michael Angelo had composed designs for the Last
Judgment, and Paul III. being aware of this, commanded, or rather
entreated, him to commence the work; for he went to his house,
accompanied by ten Cardinals,--an honor, except in this instance,
unknown in the annals of the art.” This sublime work was finished by
Michael Angelo in eight years, and was exhibited in 1541. Vasari says
that at the suggestion of Fra Sebastiano del Piombo, the Pope desired
that it should be painted in oil; but Michael Angelo positively declined
to undertake it, except in fresco, saying “that oil painting was an
employment only fit for women, or idlers of mean capacity.” Varchio in
his funeral oration says, “Such was the delicacy of his taste that no
artist could please him; and as in sculpture, every pincer, file, and
chisel which he used, was the work of his own hands, so in painting, he
prepared his own colors, and did not commit the mixing and other
necessary manipulations to mechanics and boys.”

Lanzi says that Michael Angelo must be acknowledged supreme in that
peculiar branch of the profession (the nude), at which he aimed in all
his works, especially in his Last Judgment. “The subject appeared rather
_created_ than selected by him. To a genius so comprehensive, and so
skilled in drawing the human figure, no subject could be better adapted
than the Resurrection; and to an artist who delighted in the awful, no
story more suitable than the day of supernal terrors. He saw Raffaelle
preëminent in every other department of the art; he foresaw that in this
alone could he expect to be triumphant; and perhaps he indulged the hope
that posterity would adjudge the palm to him who excelled all others in
the most arduous walk of art.”

“The Last Judgment,” says Lanzi, “was filled with such a profusion of
nudity that it was in great danger of being destroyed, from a regard to
the decency of the sanctuary. Paul IV. proposed to whitewash it, and was
hardly appeased with the correction of its most glaring indelicacies, by
some drapery introduced here and there by Daniello da Volterra, on whom
the facetious Romans, from this circumstance, conferred the nickname of
the _Breeches-maker_.” Other corrections were proposed by different
critics, and some alterations made. Angelo was censured for mixing
sacred with profane history; for introducing the angels of revelation
with the Stygian ferryman; Christ sitting in judgment, and Minos
assigning his proper station to each of the damned. To this profanity,
he added satire; in Minos, he portrayed the features of the Master of
Ceremonies, who in the hearing of the pope, had pronounced this picture
more suitable for a Bagnio than a church; and an officious Cardinal, he
placed among the damned, with a fiend dragging him by the testes down to


The coloring of Michael Angelo has been generally criticised as being
too cold and inharmonious, but the best critics now consider that it was
admirably adapted to his design. His chief characteristics were grandeur
and sublimity, and whatever partook of the sublime and the terrible, he
portrayed with a fidelity that intimidates the beholder. It is an error
to suppose that he could not color delicately and brilliantly when he
chose. During his residence at Florence, he painted an exquisite Leda
for Alphonso, Duke of Ferrara. Michael Angelo was so much offended at
the manner of one of the courtiers of that prince, who was sent to bring
it to Ferrara, that he refused to let him have it, but made it a present
to his favorite pupil, Antonio Mini, who carried it to France. Vasari
describes it as “a grand picture, painted in distemper, that seemed as
if it breathed on the canvass”; and Mariette, in his notes on Condivi,
affirms that he saw the picture, and that “Michael Angelo appeared to
have forgot his usual style, and approached the tone of Titian.”
D’Argenville informs us that the picture was destroyed by fire in the
reign of Louis XIII. Lanzi says, “In chiaro-scuro, Michael Angelo had
not the skill and delicacy of Correggio; but his paintings in the
Vatican have a force and relief much commended by Renfesthein, an
eminent connoisseur, who, on passing from the Sistine chapel to the
Farnesian gallery, remarked how greatly in this respect the Caracci
themselves were eclipsed by Buonarotti.”


“It is a vulgar error,” says Lanzi, “to suppose that Michael Angelo had
no idea of grace and beauty; the Eve in the Sistine chapel turns to
thank her Maker, on her creation, with an attitude so fine and lovely,
that it would do honor to the school of Raffaelle. Annibale Caracci
admired this, and many other naked figures in this grand ceiling, so
highly that he proposed them to himself as models in the art, and
according to Bellori, preferred them to the Last Judgment, which
appeared to him to be too anatomical.”


It has long been a disputed point whether Michael Angelo ever painted in
oil; but it has been ascertained by Lanzi that the Holy Family in the
Florentine gallery, which is the only picture by him supposed to be
painted in oil, is in reality in distemper. Many of his designs,
however, were executed in oil by his cotemporaries, especially
Sebastiano del Piombo, Jacopo da Pontormo, and Marcello Venusti. Fresco
painting was better adapted to the elevated character of his
composition, which required a simple and solid system of coloring,
rather subdued than enlivened, and producing a grand and impressive
effect, which could not have been expressed by the glittering splendor
of oil painting. There are many oil paintings erroneously attributed to
him in the galleries at Rome, Florence, Milan, the Imperial gallery at
Vienna, and elsewhere. (See Spooner’s Dict. of Painters, Engravers,
Sculptors, and Architects; table of _Imitators_.)


When Michael Angelo had finished the works in the Sistine chapel which
Julius II. had commanded him to paint, the Pope, not appreciating their
native dignity and simplicity, told him that “the chapel appeared cold
and mean, and there wanted some brilliancy of coloring, and some gilding
to be added to it.” “Holy father,” replied the artist, “formerly men did
not dress as they do now, in gold and silver; those personages whom I
have represented in my pictures in the chapel, were not persons of
wealth, but saints, who were divinely inspired, and despised pomp and


Michael Angelo was a true poet. He was endowed with a ready wit and
consummate eloquence. His bon-mots, recorded by Dati, rival those of the
Grecian painters, and he was esteemed one of the most witty and lively
men of his time.

When he had finished his statue of Julius II. for the Bolognese, the
Pope thought it too severe, and said to him, “Angelo, my statue appears
rather to curse than to bless the good people of Bologna.” “Holy
father,” replied the artist, “as they have not always been the most
obedient of your subjects, it will teach them to be afraid of you, and
to behave better in future.”

Under the pontificate of Julius III., the faction of San Gallo went so
far, as to prevail upon the Pope to appoint a committee to examine the
fabric. Angelo paid no attention to the cavils of his enemies. Finally
the Pope summoned him before him, and told him that a particular part of
the church was too dark. “Who told you that, holy father?” said Angelo.
“I did,” interrupted the Cardinal Marcello. “Your eminence should
consider, then,” said the artist, casting at the prelate a look of cool
contempt, “that besides the window there is at present, I have designed
three more in the ceiling of the church!” “You did not tell me that,”
replied the Cardinal. “No indeed, I did not, sir. I am not obliged to
tell you; nor would I ever consent to be obliged to tell your eminence,
or any person whomsoever, anything concerning it. Your business is to
take care that money is plenty at Rome; that there are no thieves there;
to let me alone; and to permit me to go on with my plan as I please.”

When asked why he did not marry, he replied that “his art was his
mistress, and gave him trouble enough.” Again, that “an artist should
never cease to learn.” When told that some one had performed a
remarkable feat in painting with his fingers, he said, “Why don’t the
blockhead use his brush?” When shown Titian’s Danaë, he observed, “What
a pity these Venetians do not study design.” Of the Gates of Ghiberti,
he said, “they are fit to adorn the portals of Paradise.”


“Soon after Allston’s marriage with his first wife, the sister of the
late Dr. Channing, he made his second visit to Europe. After a residence
there of a little more than a year, his pecuniary wants became very
pressing and urgent--more so than at any other period of his life. On
one of these occasions, as he himself used to narrate the event, he was
in his studio, reflecting with a feeling of almost desperation upon his
condition. His conscience seemed to tell him that he had deserved his
afflictions, and drawn them upon himself, by his want of due gratitude
for past favors from heaven. His heart, all at once, seemed filled with
the hope that God would listen to his prayers, if he would offer up his
direct expressions of penitence, and ask for divine aid. He accordingly
locked his door, withdrew to a corner of the room, threw himself upon
his knees, and prayed for a loaf of bread for himself and his wife.
While thus employed, a knock was heard at the door. A feeling of
momentary shame at being detected in this position, and a feeling of
fear lest he might have been observed, induced him to hasten and open
the door. A stranger inquired for Mr. Allston. He was anxious to learn
who was the fortunate purchaser of the painting of “Angel Uriel,”
regarded by the artist as one of his masterpieces, and which had won the
prize at the exhibition of the Academy. He was told that it had not been
sold. “Can it be possible? Not sold! Where is it to be had?” “In this
very room. Here it is,” producing the painting from a corner, and wiping
off the dust. “It is for sale--but its value has never yet, to my idea
of its worth, been adequately appreciated--and I would not part with
it.” “What is its price?” “I have done affixing any nominal sum. I have
always, so far, exceeded my offers. I leave it for you to name the
price.” “Will four hundred pounds be an adequate recompense?” “It is
more than I have ever asked for it.” “Then the painting is mine.” The
stranger introduced himself as the Marquis of Stafford; and he became,
from that moment, one of the warmest friends of Mr. Allston. By him Mr.
A. was introduced to the society of the nobility and gentry; and he
became one of the most favored among the many gifted minds that adorned
the circle, in which he was never fond of appearing often.

“The instantaneous relief thus afforded by the liberality of this noble
visitor, was always regarded by Allston as a direct answer to his
prayer, and it made a deep impression upon his mind. To this event he
was ever after wont to attribute the increase of devotional feelings
which became a prominent trait in his character.”--_Boston Atlas._


“Notwithstanding the general respect which is manifested to the memory
of this distinguished artist, there are unsympathising, ice-hearted men
of the world who yet reproach him for uncontrollable events in his

The actions of the painter, the poet, and the musician, are dictated
often by other motives than those impelling the arm of the mechanic, or
the tongue of the advocate. Men of genius are of a more delicate
organization than those possessing inferior abilities, and are swayed by
emotions the most lofty that can actuate humanity. The world’s neglect,
the contempt of critics, depressed spirits induced by pecuniary
embarrassments, blast their hopes, enervate their energies, and deprive
them of the potency to cope with the heartless world.

Men there are who would visit the generous Allston with censure,
because, while laboring under disappointments, ill health, and crushed
anticipations, he failed to finish his painting of Belshazzar’s Feast, a
theme that possibly became uncongenial to his pencil. May their ill
feeling be forgotten, and, if the fountain of their sympathies be not
wholly dried up, may it yield a little lenity towards one of America’s
noblest sons.

It may not be inappropriate to insert a tribute to the memory of
Allston, which will serve to vindicate his character from his aspersers,
and exhibit it as traced by one for many years connected with him by the
dearest ties of friendship:

                                                ‘PARIS, November, 1843.

     The Duke de Luynes, a French nobleman, has lately given a
     commission to Monsieur Ingres, the painter, recently Director of
     the French Academy of Arts in Rome, to decorate his palace at
     Dampierre with a series of pictures, the subjects of which I have
     not heard. One hundred thousand francs are allowed to the artist
     for this work. M. Ingres was a student at Rome, pensioned by his
     government, at the time Mr. W. Allston and myself were there
     pursuing the same studies--not, however, aided by a government.

     When the melancholy news of the death of my much regretted friend
     and fellow artist reached here, which was about the time the above
     favor was granted to M. Ingres, I could not but reflect on the less
     fortunate destiny of our highly accomplished countryman, whose
     muse, alas! was doomed to linger out a languid existence in a state
     of society unfavorable to the arts, or at least where there was
     little to encourage and sustain them, compared with the capitals in
     Europe where he had lived and studied. Such an indifference to the
     arts is not confined to one section of our country, but pervades
     the whole United States.

     It is indeed a subject of regret that so highly-gifted an artist
     should not have been commissioned to ornament some public building,
     or private mansion of opulence, with a series of pictures in the
     free style of fresco, comprising poetical designs and landscapes,
     in which he was so superior, instead of being subjected to finish a
     picture which, from some cause, he had become dissatisfied with,
     for the prosecution of which he found himself debarred of even the
     advantages of models and costume, not to mention those of a less
     material nature--the absence of all the great models of art to
     kindle and inspire his genius, etc. A work of the kind before
     suggested would admit of a free execution, independent in a degree
     of models and costume. Such a commission, I am persuaded, would
     have cheered up his spirit, and called forth fresh images from his
     fancy. It is ever to be regretted that he was not employed in this
     way; had he been, our country would no doubt have had a beautiful
     creation from a highly cultivated and poetic mind, now forever

     No one who was ever acquainted with the subject of this notice, but
     must feel sincere regret, also, that so fair and amiable a
     character was not soothed in his latter years with all the ease and
     comfort of mind and body that the world could bestow, which thus
     far has been seldom if ever the lot of his profession in our
     country. How many there are who have not undergone half the
     fatigue, physical or mental, endured by Mr. Allston--not to mention
     the far greater amount of time and money expended in the
     acquisition of his profession than in most other pursuits--yet have
     secured to themselves the means to reach the decline of life in a
     condition to assure ease and comfort. Such is the unequal
     compensation of the world.

     When I look back some five or six-and-thirty years, when we were
     both in Rome, and next-door neighbors on the _Trinita del Monte_,
     and in the spring of life, full of enthusiasm for our art, and
     fancying fair prospects awaiting us in after years--and few
     certainly had more right than my worthy colleague to look towards
     such a futurity--it is painful to reflect how far these hopes have
     been from being realized. Such may be the lot of a great many;
     still we may believe and hope that so melancholy an example rarely

                                                         J. VANDERLYN.”

The Art-Union of New-York have struck a commemorative medal, with
Allston’s face on the obverse side; and thus is the great artist

Genius, that breaks the fetters encircling the mind, is fated to drink
life’s bitterest cup to the dregs. After earth has flung the gem away,
she proclaims its value.

Reformers must be martyrs. Every Socrates must quaff his hemlock--every
Burns pine in unpitied poverty. In life, the artist appears on the
reverse side of the world’s medal--in death, on the obverse.”--_Dewey


The writer has frequently heard our artists bitterly complain of the
meanness of their countrymen in patronizing everything foreign, not only
at home but abroad. It is mortifying enough to them to see the palaces
of many of our merchant princes _disgraced_, not _adorned_, with a
multitude of modern flashy French pictures, without a single piece by a
native artist. How cutting then must be the slight to those young
artists, who, having gone to Italy for improvement, are visited in their
studios, by their countrymen, who, desirous of bringing home some copies
of favorite pictures, give their commissions to foreigners. Our young
artists, during their residence abroad, are generally poor, and
frequently undergo every privation to enable them to achieve the object
of their ambition. Weir says that at one time during his residence at
Rome, he was obliged “to live on ten cents a day for a month.”
Greenough, during his second visit to Italy, was almost driven to
despair. Mr. J. Fenimore Cooper found him in this deplorable state in
1829, and gave him a commission for his beautiful group of Chanting
Cherubs. He had already distinguished himself by several admirable busts
of John Quincy Adams, Chief Justice Marshall, Henry Clay, and others,
but this was the first commission he had ever received for a group. The
grateful sculptor says in a letter to Mr. Dunlap, “Mr. Fenimore Cooper
saved me from despair, after my second return to Italy. He employed me
as I wished to be employed; and has, up to this moment, been a father to
me in kindness.”

Mr. Cooper, in a letter published in the New-York American, April 30,
1831, says:

“Most of our people, who come to Italy, employ the artists of the
country to make copies, under the impression that they will be both
cheaper and better, than those done by Americans, studying here. My own
observation has led me to adopt a different course. I am well assured
that few things are done for us by Europeans, under the same sense of
responsibility, as when they work for customers near home. The very
occupation of the copyist, infers some want of that original capacity,
without which no man can impart to a work, however exact it may be in
its mechanical details, the charm of expression. In the case of Mr.
Greenough, I was led even to try the experiment of an original. The
difference in value between an original and a copy is so greatly in
favor of the former, with anything like approach to success, that I am
surprised that more of our amateurs are not induced to command them. The
little group I have sent home, (the Chanting Cherubs) will always have
an interest that can belong to no other work of the same character. It
is the first effort of a young artist who bids fair to build for himself
a name, and whose life will be connected with the history of the art in
that country which is so soon to occupy such a place in the world. It is
more; it is probably the first group ever completed by an American

When this beautiful group had been exhibited a sufficient time in the
United States, to bring its merits before the public, Mr. Cooper, in the
hope of influencing the government to employ Greenough on a statue of
Washington, wrote to the President, and to Mr. McLane the Secretary of
the Treasury, strongly urging the plan of a statue of the “Father of his
Country,” by the first American sculptor who had shown himself competent
to so great a task. He was successful, and Congress commissioned
Greenough to execute a statue of Washington for the Capitol. The
sculptor received the intelligence with transports of delight, but when
he had had time for reflection, he modestly began to doubt his ability
to do justice to his subject, and “answer all the expectations of his
friends.” “When I went,” says he, “the other morning, into the large
room in which I propose to execute my statue, I felt like a spoiled boy,
who, after insisting upon riding on horseback, bawled aloud with fright,
at finding himself in the saddle, so far from the ground!”

Is it not a burning shame, that the most gifted artists of this great
and glorious country should be compelled to go abroad to seek both fame
and bread, not fortune? What merchant prince will set his countrymen an
example, and, like Sir George Beaumont, bribe Congress and his fellow
citizens to form a national gallery, by giving a collection of casts
from the antique, first class paintings and engravings, rare works of
art, and a library on art, worth 70,000 guineas? It is a mistaken
opinion, entertained by many, that the fine arts are of little
importance to our country. On the contrary, every person is directly
interested. A foreign writer observes that, “silver-plating in the
United States, is what tin-smithery is in Paris.” Fuseli terms Venice
“the toy-shop of Europe;” better Paris. What a multitude of people are
supported in that great city by the manufacture of ten thousand fabrics,
exquisitely designed and executed. The Parisians have a keen perception
of the beautiful, simply from being educated in a city abounding with
galleries and the best models of art, or as Reynolds terms it, “the
accumulated genius of ages.”


By the general approbation of mankind, this illustrious artist has been
styled “the prince of modern painters.” He is universally acknowledged
to have possessed a greater combination of the excellencies of art than
has fallen to the lot of any other individual. It is a remarkable fact,
mentioned by many artists and writers, that the most capital frescoes of
Raffaelle in the Vatican, do not at first strike the beholder with
surprise, nor satisfy his expectations; but as he begins to study them,
he constantly discovers new beauties, and his admiration continues to
increase with contemplation.


Raffaelle was inspired by the most unbounded ambition; the efforts of
Michael Angelo to supplant him only stimulated him to greater exertions;
and, on his death-bed, he thanked God he was born in the days of
Buonarotti. He was instructed in the principles of architecture for six
years by Bramante, that on his death he might succeed him in
superintending the erection of St. Peter’s. He lived among the ancient
sculptures, and derived from them not only the contours, drapery, and
attitudes, but the spirit and principles of the art. Not content with
what he saw at Rome, he employed able artists to copy the remains of
antiquity at Pozzuolo, throughout all Italy, and even in Greece. It is
also probable that he derived much assistance from living artists, whom
he consulted in regard to his compositions. The universal esteem which
he enjoyed, his attractive person, and his engaging manners, which all
authors unite in describing as incomparable, conciliated the favor of
the most eminent men of letters, as Bembo, Castiglione, Giovio,
Navagero, Ariosto, Fulvio, Calcagnini, etc., who set a high value on his
friendship, and were doubtless ready to supply him with many valuable
hints and ideas.


“Michael Angelo, his rival,” says Lanzi, “contributed not a little to
the success of Raffaelle. As the contest between Zeuxis and Parrhasius
was beneficial to both, so the rivalship of Buonarotti and Sanzio aided
the fame of Michael Angelo, and produced the paintings in the Sistine
chapel; and at the same time contributed to the celebrity of Raffaelle,
by producing the pictures in the Vatican, and not a few others. Michael
Angelo, disdaining any secondary honors, came to the combat, as it were,
attended by his shield-bearer, for he made drawings in his grand style,
and then gave them to Fra Sebastiano del Piombo, the scholar of
Giorgione, to execute; and, by this means, he hoped that Raffaelle would
never be able to rival his productions, either in design or color.
Raffaelle stood alone, but aimed at producing works with a degree of
perfection beyond the united efforts of Michael Angelo and F.
Sebastiano, combining in himself a fertile imagination, ideal beauty
founded on a correct imitation of the Greek style, grace, ease, amenity,
and a universality of genius in every department of art. The noble
determination of triumphing in such a powerful contest animated him
night and day, and allowed him no respite. It also animated him to
surpass both his rivals and himself in every new work.”


“This great artist” (Michael Angelo), says Vasari, “had felt some
uneasiness at the growing fame of Raffaelle, and he gladly availed
himself of the powers of Sebastiano del Piombo, as a colorist, in the
hope that, assisted by his designs, he might be enabled to enter the
lists successfully with his illustrious antagonist, if not to drive him
from the field. With this view, he furnished him with the designs for
the Pietà in the church of the Conventuali at Viterbo, and the
Transfiguration and Flagellation, in S. Pietro in Montorio, at Rome,
which, as he was very tedious in the process, occupied him six years.”
It was at this juncture that the Cardinal de Medici commissioned
Raffaelle to paint a picture of the Transfiguration, and in order to
stimulate the rivalry, he engaged Sebastiano to paint one of the
Resurrection of Lazarus, of precisely the same dimensions, for his
Cathedral of Narbonne. That Sebastiano might enter the lists with some
chance of success, he was again assisted by Buonarotti, who composed and
designed the picture. On this occasion, Raffaelle exerted his utmost
powers, triumphed over both his competitors, and produced that immortal
picture which has received the most unqualified approbation of mankind
as the finest picture in the world. Both pictures were publicly
exhibited in competition, and the palm of victory was adjudged to
Raffaelle--the Transfiguration was pronounced inimitable in composition,
in design, in expression, and in grace. This sublime composition
represents the mystery of Christ’s Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. At
the foot of the Mount is assembled a multitude, among whom are the
Disciples of our Lord, endeavoring in vain to relieve a youth from the
dominion of an evil spirit. The various emotions of human doubt,
anxiety, and pity, exhibited in the different figures, present one of
the most pathetic incidents ever conceived; yet this part of the
composition does not fix the attention so much as the principal figure
on the summit of the mountain. There Christ appears elevated in the air,
surrounded with a celestial radiance, between Moses and Elias, while the
three favored Apostles are kneeling in devout astonishment on the
ground. The head and attitude of the Saviour are distinguished by a
divine majesty and sublimity, that is indescribable.


With his incomparable work of the Transfiguration, ceased the life and
the labors of Raffaelle; he did not live to entirely complete it, and
the few remaining parts were finished by his scholar, Giulio Romano.
While engaged upon it, he was seized with a fever, of which he died on
his birth-day, Good Friday, April 7th, 1520, aged 37 years. His body lay
in state in the chamber where he had been accustomed to paint, and near
the bier was placed the noble picture of the Transfiguration. The
throngs who came to pay their respects to the illustrious artist were
deeply affected; there was not an artist in Rome but was moved to tears
by the sight, and his death was deplored throughout Italy as a national
calamity. The funeral ceremony was performed with great pomp and
solemnity, and his remains were interred in the church of the Rotunda,
otherwise called the Pantheon. The Cardinal Bembo, at the desire of the
Pope, wrote the epitaph which is now inscribed on his tomb.


All cotemporary writers unite in describing Raffaelle as amiable,
modest, kind, and obliging; equally respected and beloved by the high
and the low. His beauty of person and noble countenance inspired
confidence, and strongly prepossessed the beholder in his favor at first
sight. Respectful to the memory of Perugino, and grateful for the
instructions he had received from him, he exerted all his influence
with the Pope, that the works of his master in one of the ceilings of
the Vatican might be spared, when the other paintings were destroyed to
make room for his own embellishments. Just and generous to his
cotemporaries, though not ignorant of their intrigues, he thanked God
that he had been born in the days of Buonarotti. Gracious towards his
pupils, he loved and instructed them as his own sons; courteous even to
strangers, he cheerfully extended his advice to all who asked it, and in
order to make designs for others, or to direct them in their studies, he
had been known to neglect his own works, rather than refuse them his


Raffaelle was never married, though by no means averse to female
society. The Cardinal da Bibiena offered him his niece, which high
alliance he is said to have declined because the honors of the purple
were held out to him by the Pope, who favored him greatly, and made him
groom of his chamber. Early in life he became attached to a young woman,
the daughter of a baker at Rome, called by way of distinction, La Bella
Fornarina, to whom he was solely and constantly attached, and he left
her in his will sufficient for an independent maintenance. The rest of
his property he bequeathed to a relative in Urbino, and to his favorite
scholars, Giulio Romano, and Gio. Francesco Penni.


Raffaelle possessed in an eminent degree all the qualities necessary to
constitute a preëminent painter. When we consider the number of his
paintings, and the multitude of his designs, (it is said he left behind
him 287 pictures, and 576 cartoons, drawings, and studies) to which he
devoted so much study, as is shown in his numerous sketches of Madonnas
and Holy Families, &c., and especially his great works in the Vatican,
in which, in many cases, he drew all the figures naked, in order the
better to adapt the drapery and its folds to their respective attitudes;
and further, his supervision of the building of St. Peter’s church, his
admeasurements of the ancient edifices of Rome with exact drawings and
descriptions, the preparation of designs for various churches and
palaces, with several collateral tasks, it seems incredible that even a
long life were sufficient for their execution; and when we further
reflect that he accomplished all this at an age when most men only begin
to distinguish themselves, we are struck with astonishment at the
wonderful fecundity of his genius.


“His own Fornarina,” says Lanzi, “assisted him in this object. Her
portrait by Raffaelle’s own hand was formerly in the Barberini Palace,
and it is repeated in many of his Madonnas, in the picture of St.
Cecilia at Bologna, and in many female heads.”


“Of his oil paintings,” says Lanzi, “a considerable number are to be
found in private collections, particularly on sacred subjects, such as
the Madonna and Child, and other compositions of the Holy Family. They
are in three styles, which we have before described: the Grand Duke of
Florence has some specimens of each. The most admired is that which is
named the Madonna della Seggiola. Of this class of pictures it is often
doubted whether they ought to be considered as originals or copies, as
some of them have been three, five, or ten times repeated. The same may
be said of other cabinet pictures by him, particularly the St. John in
the Desert, which is in the Grand Ducal gallery at Florence, and is
found repeated in many collections both in Italy and other countries.
This was likely to happen in a school where the most common mode was the
following:--The subject was designed by Raffaello, the picture prepared
by Giulio, and finished by the master so exquisitely, that one might
almost count the hairs of the head. When pictures were thus finished,
they were copied by the scholars of Raffaello, who were very numerous,
and of the second and third order; and these were also sometimes
retouched by Giulio and by Raffaello himself. But whoever is experienced
in the freedom and delicacy of the chief of this school, need not fear
confounding his productions with those of the scholars, or Giulio
himself; who, besides having a more timid pencil, made use of a darker
tint than his master was accustomed to do. I have met with an
experienced person, who declared that he could recognize the character
of Giulio in the dark parts of the flesh tints, and in the middle dark
tints, not of a leaden color as Raffaello used, nor so well harmonized;
in the greater quantity of light, and in the eyes designed more roundly,
which Raffaello painted somewhat long, after the manner of Pietro


There are no less than eight portraits of Julius II. attributed to
Raffaelle. 1. The original, by Raffaelle’s own hand, is in the Palazzo
Pitti at Florence, the best of all; 2. a scarcely inferior one in the
Tribune of the Florentine Gallery; 3. one in the English National
Gallery, from the Falconieri Palace at Rome; 4. a very fine one,
formerly in the Orleans Gallery; 5. an inferior one in the Corsini
Palace at Rome; 6. a very fine one in the Borghese Gallery at Rome; 7.
one at Berlin, from the Giustinian Gallery; 8. one in the possession of
Count Torlonia at Rome. Most of these are doubtless copies by
Raffaelle’s scholars, some of them finished by himself. The original
cartoon is preserved in the Corsini Palace at Florence.


Raffaelle had three manners; first, that of his instructor, Pietro
Perugino, hence many exquisite pictures in the style of that master are
erroneously attributed to him; second, the same, modified by his
residence and studies at Florence, which continued till his completion
of the Theology in the Vatican, though constantly improving; and the
third, his own grand original manner, commencing with the school of
Athens. For a very full life of Raffaelle, with Lanzi’s admirable
critique, see Spooner’s Dictionary of Painters, Engravers, Sculptors,
and Architects.


This preëminent painter, accomplished scholar, and skillful diplomatist,
was born at Antwerp in 1577, on the feast day of St. Peter and St. Paul,
for which reason he received at the baptismal font the names of those
Apostles. Rubens, in his earliest years, discovered uncommon ability,
vivacity of genius, literary taste, and a mild and docile disposition.
His father, intending him for one of the learned professions, gave him a
very liberal education, and on the completion of his studies, placed him
as a page with the Countess of Lalain, in order that his son might
acquire graceful and accomplished manners, so important to success in a
professional career. His father dying soon afterwards, young Rubens
obtained the permission of his mother, to follow the bent of his genius.
He studied under several masters, the last of whom was the celebrated
Otho Venius. He made such extraordinary progress, that when he had
reached his twenty-third year, Venius frankly told him that he could be
of no further service to him, and that nothing more remained for his
improvement but a journey to Italy, which he recommended as the surest
means of ripening his extraordinary talents to the greatest perfection.


Rubens having secured the favor and patronage of the Archduke Albert,
governor of the Netherlands, for whom he executed several pictures, set
out for Italy, with letters from his patron, recommending him in the
most honorable manner to the Duke of Mantua, that at his court he might
have access to his admirable collection of paintings and antique
statues. He was received with the most marked distinction by the Duke,
who took him into his service, and appointed him one of the gentlemen of
his bed-chamber, an honor which was the more acceptable to Rubens, as it
gave him greater facility for studying the great works of Giulio Romano
in the Palazzo del Te, which were the objects of his particular


Giulio Romano’s masterly illustrations of the sublime poetry of Homer
excited Rubens’ emulation in the highest degree. One day, while he was
engaged in painting the history of Turnus and Æneas, in order to warm
his imagination with poetic rapture, he repeated with great energy, the
lines of Virgil, beginning,

    “Ille etiam patriis agmen ciet,” &c.

The Duke, overhearing his recitations, entered the apartment, and was
surprised to find the young painter’s mind richly stored with classical
literature. Rubens remained in the service of the Duke of Mantua, who
had conceived the strongest attachment to him, nearly eight years,
visiting Venice, Rome, Genoa, and other cities, executing many
commissions, and leaving everywhere superb specimens of his magic
pencil. In 1605, the Duke having occasion to send an envoy to the court
of Spain, employed Rubens as a person eminently fitted for the delicate
mission. He successfully accomplished the negotiations confided to him,
painted the portrait of Philip III., and received from that monarch the
most flattering marks of distinction.


In 1608, after an absence of eight years, Rubens was suddenly recalled
to Antwerp by the severe illness of his mother, who died before his
arrival. The loss of his dearly beloved parent was a severe affliction
to him. He had proposed to return to Italy, but the Archduke Albert, and
the Infanta Isabella, induced him to settle at Antwerp, where he
married, built a magnificent house, with a saloon in the form of a
rotunda, which he embellished with a rich collection of antique statues,
busts, vases, and pictures by the greatest masters. This collection he
sold many years afterwards to the Duke of Buckingham for £10,000. Amidst
these select productions of art, he passed about twelve years in the
tranquil exercise of his great abilities, producing an astonishing
number of admirable pictures for the churches and public edifices of the
Low Countries.


In order to continue his mental improvement, to enjoy the sweets of
friendly intercourse, and to economize his precious time, Rubens
regulated his affairs with a precision which nothing was permitted to
derange. He received company at stated times, took regular exercise out
of doors, usually on horseback, and it is said that he never painted
without having some one to read to him from a classic work of history or
poetry. He possessed an extraordinary memory, and understood the ancient
and several modern languages, writing and speaking them with ease and
fluency. His familiar acquaintance with ancient and modern literature,
had enriched his mind with inexhaustible resources.


Rubens’ great popularity naturally excited envy, and created enemies.
Generous and affable to all, and a liberal encourager of art, he found
himself assailed by those who were most indebted to him for assistance.
With the most audacious effrontery, they insinuated that he owed the
best part of his reputation in the great variety of his works, for which
he was celebrated, to the talents of two of his disciples, Snyders and
Wildens, whom he employed occasionally in forwarding the animals and
landscapes in his pictures. The principal of these vilifiers were
Abraham Janssens, Cornelius Schut, and Theodore Rombouts; the first had
the hardihood to challenge him to paint a picture in competition with
him. Rubens treated these attacks with a dignity and philanthropy that
shows his exalted mind, and the goodness of his heart; he relieved the
necessities of his accusers, and exposed his immortal production of the
Descent from the Cross.


In 1620, Mary of Medicis commissioned Rubens to decorate the gallery of
the Luxembourg with a series of emblematical paintings, in twenty-four
compartments, illustrative of the principal events of her life. The
series was painted at Antwerp, except two pictures, which he finished at
Paris in 1623, when he arranged the whole in the gallery. These great
works, executed in less than three years, are alone sufficient to attest
the abundant fertility of his genius, and the wonderful facility of his


In 1628, the Infanta Isabella despatched Rubens on a delicate political
mission to the court of Spain, relative to the critical state of the
government of the Low Countries, and for instructions preparatory to a
negotiation of peace between Spain and England. On his arrival at the
Spanish capital, he was received in the most gracious manner by Philip
IV., acquitted himself of his diplomatic mission to the entire
satisfaction of the Infanta and the King, and completely captivated that
monarch, and his minister, the Duke de Olivares, by the magnificent
productions of his pencil. He executed several great works, for which he
was munificently rewarded, received the honors of knighthood, and was
presented with the golden key, as a Gentleman of the Royal Bed-Chamber.

In 1629 he returned to Flanders, and was immediately despatched to
England by the Infanta, on a secret mission, to ascertain the
disposition of the government on the subject of peace. The king, Charles
I., an ardent lover of the fine arts, received the illustrious painter
with every mark of distinction, and immediately employed him in painting
the ceiling of the Banqueting House at Whitehall, where he represented
the Apotheosis of his father, James I., for which he received £3,000.
Here Rubens showed himself no less skillful as a diplomatist than as a
painter. In one of the frequent visits with which the king honored him
during the execution of the work, he alluded with infinite delicacy and
address to the subject of a peace with Spain, and finding the monarch
not averse to such a measure, he immediately produced his credentials.
Charles at once appointed some members of his council to negociate with
him, and a pacification was soon effected. The King was so highly
pleased with the productions of his pencil, and particularly with his
conduct in this diplomatic emergency, that he gave him a munificent
reward, and conferred upon him the honor of knighthood, Feb. 21, 1630.
On this occasion, the king presented Rubens with his own sword, enriched
with diamonds, his hat-band of jewels, valued at ten thousand crowns,
and a gold chain, which Rubens wore ever afterwards.


Rubens, after having successfully accomplished the objects of his
missions to the courts of Spain and England, returned to Antwerp, where
he was received with all the honors and distinction due to his services
and exalted merit. He still continued to exercise his pencil with
undiminished industry and reputation till 1635, when he experienced some
aggravated attacks of the gout, to which he had been subject, succeeded
by an infirmity and trembling of the hand, which obliged him to decline
executing all works of large dimensions. Though he had now reached his
fifty-eighth year, and was loaded with deserved honors and wealth, he
nevertheless continued to instruct his pupils, to correspond with his
cherished friends, and to paint easel pictures when his torturing malady
would permit, till his death, in 1640, aged 63 years. He was buried
with extraordinary pomp and solemnity in the church of St. James, under
the altar of the private chapel, which he had decorated with one of his
finest pictures. A superb monument was erected to his memory.


The number of works executed by Rubens is truly astonishing; Smith, in
his Catalogue raisonné, vols. ii. and ix., describes about eighteen
hundred considered genuine by him, in the different public and private
collections of Europe. There can be no doubt that a great number of
these were executed by his numerous scholars and assistants, under his
direction, from his designs, and then finished by himself. It is well
known that he employed his pupils in forwarding many of his pictures,
and that Wildens, van Uden, and Mompers, in particular, assisted him in
his landscapes, and Snyders in his animals. His principal scholars were
Anthony Vandyck, Justus van Egmont, Theodore van Thulden, Abraham
Diepenbeck, Jacob Jordaens, Peter van Mol, Cornelius Schut, John van
Hoeck, Simon de Vos, Peter Soutman, Deodato Delmont, Erasmus Quellinus,
Francis Wouters, Francis Snyders, John Wildens, Lucas van Uden, and
Jodocus Mompers. Several other distinguished Flemish painters of the
period, who were not his pupils, imitated his style; the most eminent of
whom were Gerard Seghers, Gaspar de Crayer, and Martin Pepin. Besides
the genuine paintings of Rubens, there are a multitude of doubtful
authenticity, attributed to him, most of which were executed by his
pupils and imitators. Many such, fine pictures, are in the United
States. There are upwards of twelve hundred engravings after works
attributed to Rubens; some of which, however, are of doubtful
authenticity. Those executed by the Bolswerts, Paul Pontius, and other
cotemporary engravers who worked under Rubens’ supervision, are
undoubtedly genuine. There are a great number of his works in England in
the public galleries and the collections of the nobility; there are nine
in the National gallery, fourteen in the Dulwich gallery, and others at
Windsor, Hampton Court, and Whitehall. The enormous value set upon his
works at the present time, maybe seen by referring to the catalogue of
the National gallery; thus, the Brazen Serpent cost £1260; a Landscape,
called Rubens’ Chateau, £1500; Peace and War, £3000; the Rape of the
Sabines, £3000; and the Judgment of Paris, 4000 guineas. Many of the
works of Rubens, like those of other great masters, have suffered
greatly from the effects of time, but more from improper cleaning and
unskillful restoration, especially in retouching injured parts, by which
the original harmony of coloring has been destroyed. Thus his pictures
in the Banqueting house at Whitehall, have been three times cleaned,
repaired, and painted over, so that little of the original splendor of
coloring remains.


The first picture carried to Rome from Greece, according to Pliny, was
the famous Bacchus and Ariadne, painted by Aristides of Thebes. It was
painted on a heavy panel, and King Attalus offered for it, its weight in
gold, which excited the suspicion of the Consul Mummius that it
contained some secret charm. He accordingly broke off the bargain, and
took it himself to Rome, where he dedicated it in the temple of Ceres.
After this example, every Roman commander seems to have been ambitious
of adorning the city with the finest pictures and statues of Greece,
Asia Minor, Egypt, and Sicily. Julius Cæsar enshrined the two exquisite
pictures of Medea and Ajax, by Timomachus, in the Temple of Venus.
Augustus hung his forum with pictures of the horrors of war, and the
glories of a triumph; and he adorned the temple which he dedicated to
the deified Julius with many choice pictures, the most beautiful of
which was the Venus Anadyomene of Apelles. Another, scarcely less
celebrated, by the same painter, was one of Alexander in triumph,
leading War, bound and manacled. This picture was afterwards defaced by
Claudius, who caused the head of Alexander to be scraped out, and that
of Augustus to be inserted. Another picture of especial note, in the
same temple, was one of Castor and Pollux.

Augustus also placed in the Comitium some excellent works, by Nicias of
Athens, and others. The Temple of Peace was rich in pictures of the
highest class. There was placed the most valued of all the works of
Protogenes, the hunter Jalysus with his dogs and game, the Cyclops of
Timanthes, and the sea-monster Scylla, by Nicomachus.

In the Temple of Concord, there was a precious picture by Zeuxis--that
of Marsyas bound to a Tree; and the Muses and the Helen of the same
painter adorned some of the private villas at Rome.

In the Temple of Minerva, on the Capitol, was the Theseus of Parrhasius,
with the Rape of Proserpine, and a Victory by Nicomachus.

In the shrine of Ceres, where Mummius had placed the Bacchus and Ariadne
of Aristides, were several other works by the same painter.

The Portico of Octavia was adorned with pictures of Greek mythology and
history by Antiphilus; and that of Pompey boasted a rare fragment by
Polygnotus, of a Soldier upon a Scaling Ladder, probably a part of some
great battle-piece, which that illustrious painter had executed in honor
of his countrymen. Some suppose it to have been taken from the Pœcile at
Athens, where the pictures were not painted in fresco, but on panels.
The Portico of Pompey was still further adorned with pictures by Nicias,
among which were a large portrait of Alexander, a picture of Calypso,
and some animals, which were much prized. There was also a beautiful
picture of Hyacinthus, by the same artist, which was so highly valued by
Augustus, that, after his death, Tiberius consecrated it to his memory,
in the temple dedicated to him.

The Romans did not hesitate to carry off everything appertaining to the
fine arts in the countries they conquered. The greatest influx of Greek
pictures into Rome, at any one time, was during the edileship of
Scaurus, when, on account of a real or pretended debt owing by the
people of Sicyon to Rome, all the valuable pictures in that city were
seized and conveyed to Italy. Such were a few of the many pictures, the
spoils of war, which were carried to Rome, to adorn the temples,
palaces, and public places, not to speak of those which decorated the
villas of persons of rank and taste.


The Romans were so fond of Etruscan statues that they collected them
from all quarters. At the taking of Volsinum (now Bolsena), they removed
two thousand bronze statues to Rome. The Etruscans were also much
employed by the Romans to make bronze statues of their divinities and
great personages. One of the most ancient remaining works executed by
them for Rome, is the bronze Wolf, “the thunder-stricken nurse of Rome,”
preserved in the Capitol, and of which Micali has given an excellent
figure. There was a colossal Etruscan Apollo, fifty feet high, placed in
the library of the Temple of Augustus, “the bigness of which,” says
Pliny, “is not so remarkable as the material and the workmanship; for
hard it is to say whether is most admirable, the beautiful figure of the
body, or the exquisite temperature of the metal” There was also a
colossal Jupiter of the Capitol, cast by Corovillius out of the brazen
armor taken from the dead bodies of the conquered Samnites. Pliny says
the first bronze statue cast in Rome, was that of the goddess Ceres, the
expense of which was defrayed by the forfeited goods of Spurius Capius,
who was put to death for aspiring to the dignity of king.


The Campus Martius was a large plain without the city of Rome, which was
adorned with a multitude of statues, the spoils of war; also with
columns, arches, and porticos. The public assemblies were held there,
the officers of state chosen, and audience given to foreign ambassadors;
there, also, the Roman youths performed their exercises, learned to
wrestle and box, to throw the discus, hurl the javelin, ride a horse,
drive a chariot, etc.


The Roman commanders made a singular use of painting to advance their
interests. Their inordinate love of military fame discovered a mode of
feeding that ruling passion by means of this charming art. According to
Valerius Maximus, Massala was the first who, when he offered himself for
the consulship, instead of sitting in the market-place, dressed in the
white robe of humility, and pointing to his wounds like Coriolanus,

    “Show them the scars that I would hide,
    As if I had received them for the hire
        Of their breath only,”

caused a picture to be hung up in the portico Hostilia, representing the
battle of Messana, where he had vanquished both the Carthagenians and
Syracusans. The picture told the story of his achievements to the best
advantage, and secured his election. Scipio Africanus was greatly
incensed against his brother, Lucius Scipio, for placing in the Capitol
a picture of the battle near Sardis, which won him the title of
Asiaticus, but in which, his nephew, the son of Africanus, was taken
prisoner. Again, Scipio Emilianus was highly offended at the display of
a picture of the Taking of Carthage, exhibited in the market-place by
Lucius Hostilius Mancinus. It appears that Mancinus was the first to
enter the city, and on his return to Rome, being desirous of the
consulship, he had a picture painted, representing the situation of the
town, its strong fortifications, all the machines used in the attack and
defense, and the actions of the besiegers, in which care was taken that
those of Mancinus should be most conspicuous. This he hung up in the
Forum, and personally explained to the people in such a manner, that he
won their good will, and gained the consulship. We learn from Quintilian
that the lawyers of Rome often made use of pictures in their pleadings
for the purpose of moving the judges.


It is related that when Claudius Pulcher, during his edileship,
exhibited dramas publicly at Rome, the scenery, representing trees,
houses and other buildings was so naturally depicted, that the ravens
and other birds came to perch upon them. Many such anecdotes are related
as having occurred in all ages of the history of the art, but they are
not so sure a test of excellence as people generally imagine, for
animals are easily deceived. The writer has made experiments to satisfy
himself on this point; he has seen a whiffet dog bark obstreperously at
the portrait of a person it disliked; birds approach a picture of fruit,
and bees one of flowers. He has a picture of three dogs, so naturally
painted, that almost every dog, admitted into the room, not only looks
at it, but endeavors to _smell of it_. Every sportsman knows that it is
easy to decoy wild ducks with an artificial one.


During a voyage in the eastern part of the Mediterranean, Apelles was
driven into Alexandria, in Egypt, by stress of weather. Not being in
favor with king Ptolemy, he did not venture to appear at the court; but
some of his enemies suborned one of the royal buffoons to invite him to
supper in the king’s name, Apelles attended accordingly, but Ptolemy,
indignant at the intrusion, demanded by whom he had been invited;
whereupon the painter, seizing an extinguished coal from the hearth,
drew upon the wall the features of the man who had invited him, with
such accuracy, that the king, even from the first lines, immediately
recognized the buffoon, and thenceforth received Apelles into his favor.


According to Lucian, the reputation of Apelles, and the favor he enjoyed
at the court of Ptolemy, excited the jealousy of Antiphilus, a
celebrated Egyptian painter, who unjustly accused him of having
participated in the conspiracy of Theodotus of Tyre. Apelles was thrown
into the dungeon, and treated with great severity, but his innocence
being clearly established, Ptolemy endeavored to make reparation,
presented him with one hundred talents, and condemned Antiphilus to be
his slave. Apelles, however, was not satisfied with this reparation, and
on returning to Ephesus, painted in retaliation his famous picture of
Calumny, in which Ptolemy acted a principal part. Lucian saw this
picture, and thus describes it:

“On the right, is seated a person of magisterial authority, to whom the
painter has given ears like Midas, who holds forth his hand to Calumny,
as if inviting her to approach. He is attended by Ignorance and
Suspicion, who stand by his side. Calumny advances in the form of a
beautiful female, her countenance and demeanor exhibiting an air of fury
and hatred; in one hand she holds the torch of discord, and with the
other, she drags by the hair a youth personifying Innocence, who, with
eyes raised to heaven, seems to implore succor of the gods. She is
preceded by Envy, a figure with a pallid visage and emaciated form, who
appears to be the leader of the band. Calumny is also attended by two
other figures who seem to excite and animate her, and whose deceitful
looks discover them to be Intrigue and Treachery. At last follows
Repentance clothed in black, and covered with confusion at the discovery
of Truth in the distance, environed with celestial light.”

This sketch has been regarded as one of the most ingenious examples of
allegorical painting which the history of the art affords. Raffaelle
made a drawing from Lucian’s description, which was formerly in the
collection of the Duke of Modena, and was afterwards transferred to the
French Museum.

Professor Tölken, of Berlin, has shown that this Apelles was not the
great cotemporary of Alexander, for the persons mentioned in connection
with the story, lived more than a hundred years after the death of
Alexander--or about the 144th Olympiad. This reconciles many
contradictory statements with regard to Apelles, both by ancient and
modern writers. See Spooner’s Dictionary of Painters, Engravers,
Sculptors, and Architects.


Soon after Kneller’s arrival in England, he painted the portrait of the
Duke of Monmouth, who was so much pleased with it that he persuaded the
king, his father (Charles II.) to have his portrait painted by the _new
artist_. The King had promised the Duke of York his portrait, to be
painted by Sir Peter Lely, and unwilling to go through the ceremony of a
double sitting, he proposed that both artists should paint him at the
same time. Lely, as the king’s painter, took the light and station he
liked; but Kneller took the next best he could find, and went to work
with so much expedition, that he had nearly finished his portrait, when
Lely had only laid in his dead coloring. This novelty pleased, and Lely
himself had the candor to acknowledge his merit. Kneller immediately
found himself in the possession of great reputation and abundant
employment, and the immense number of portraits he executed, proves the
stability of his reputation. He was equally patronized by Kings Charles,
James, and William, and he had the honor of painting ten sovereigns. His
best friend was King William, for whom he painted the beauties of
Hampton Court, and by whom he was knighted in 1692, and presented with a
gold chain and medal, worth £300. In the latter part of this reign, he
painted the portraits of the members of the famous Kit-cat Club,
forty-two in number, and the several portraits now in the gallery of the
Admirals. He lived to paint the portrait of George I., who made him a
Baronet. He died in 1723. His body lay in state, and he was buried at
his country-seat at Wilton; a monument was erected to his memory in
Westminster Abbey.


It was while sitting to this artist, that James the Second manifested a
most surprising instance of coolness and shrewdness united. Kneller was
painting his portrait as a present to Pepys, when suddenly intelligence
arrived of the landing of the Prince of Orange. The artist was
confounded, and laid down his brush. “Go on, Kneller,” said the king,
betraying no outward emotion; “I wish not to disappoint my friend


When Kneller painted the portrait of Louis XIV., the monarch asked him
what mark of his esteem would be most agreeable to him; whereupon he
modestly answered that he should feel honored if his Majesty would
bestow a quarter of an hour upon him, that he might execute a drawing of
his face for himself. The request was granted. Kneller painted Dryden in
his own hair, in plain drapery, holding a laurel, and made him a present
of the work; to which the poet responded in an epistle containing
encomiums such as few painters deserve.

    “Such are thy pictures, Kneller! such thy skill,
    That nature seems obedient to thy will,
    Comes out and meets thy pencil in the draught,
    Lives there, and wants but words to speak the thought.”


The servants of his neighbor, Dr. Radcliffe, abused the liberty of a
private entrance to the painter’s garden, and plucked his flowers.
Kneller sent him word that he must shut the door up; whereupon the
doctor peevishly replied, “Tell him he may do any thing with it but
paint it.” “Never mind what he says,” retorted Sir Godfrey; “I can take
anything from him but physic.” He once overheard a low fellow cursing
himself. “God damn _you_, indeed!” exclaimed the artist in wonder; “God
may damn the Duke of Marlborough, and perhaps Sir Godfrey Kneller; but
do you think he will ever take the trouble of damning such a scoundrel
as you?” To his tailor, who proposed his son for a pupil, he said, “Dost
thou think, man, I can make thy son a painter? No, God Almighty only
makes painters.” He gave a reason for preferring portraiture to
historical painting, which forms an admirable _bon-mot_, for its
shrewdness, truthfulness, and ingenuity. “Painters of history,” said he,
“make the dead live, and do not begin to live till they are dead. I
paint the living, and they make me live!”


In a conversation concerning the legitimacy of the unfortunate son of
James II., some doubts having been expressed by an Oxford Doctor,
Kneller exclaimed, with much warmth, “His father and mother have sat to
me about thirty-six times apiece, and I know every line and bit of their
faces. Mein Gott! I could paint King James _now_ by memory. I say the
child is so like both, that there is not a feature of his face but what
belongs either to father or mother; this I am sure of, and cannot be
mistaken; nay, the nails of his fingers are his mother’s, the queen that
was. Doctor, you may be out in your letters, but I cannot be out in my


Sir Godfrey acted as a justice of the peace at Wilton, and his sense of
justice induced him always to decide rather by equity than law. His
judgments, too, were often accompanied with so much humor, as caused the
greatest merriment among his acquaintance. Thus, he dismissed a poor
soldier who had stolen a piece of meat, and fined the butcher for
purposely tempting him to commit the crime. Hence Pope wrote the
following lines:

        “I think Sir Godfrey should decide the suit,
    Who sent the thief (that stole the cash) away,
    And punished him that put it in his way.”

Whenever he was applied to by paupers, he always inquired which were the
richest parishes, and settled them there. He could never be induced to
sign a warrant to distrain the goods of a poor man, who could not pay a
tax, and he took pleasure in assisting the honest poor with his advice
and purse. He disliked interruption, and if the case appeared trivial,
or was the result of a row, he would not be disturbed. Seeing a
constable coming to him one day, with two men, having bloody noses, and
a mob at his heels, he called out to him, “Mr. Constable, do you see
that turning? Go that way, and you will find an ale-house--the sign of
the King’s Head. Go and make it up.” A handsome young woman came before
him one day to swear a rape; struck with her beauty, he continued
examining her as he sat painting, till he had taken her likeness.
Perceiving from her manner that she was not free from guilt, he advised
her not to prosecute her suit, but seek some other mode of redress.
These instances show the goodness of his heart, and refute the many
absurd and malicious stories that are told of him.


When Clostermans, an inferior artist, sent a challenge to Kneller to
paint a picture in competition with him for a wager, he courteously
declined the contest, and sent him word that “he allowed him to be his


Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, whose renown filled all Europe in the
seventeenth century, was called the Michael Angelo of his age, because,
like that great artist, he united in an eminent degree, the three great
branches of art--painting, sculpture, and architecture, though he was
chiefly renowned in the two last.


Bernini manifested his extraordinary talents almost in infancy. At the
age of eight years, he executed a child’s head in marble, which was
considered a wonder. When he was ten years old, his talents had become
so widely known, that Pope Paul V. wished to see the prodigy who was the
astonishment of artists, and on his being brought into his presence,
desired him to draw a figure of St. Paul, which he did in half an hour,
so much to the satisfaction of the pontiff that he recommended him to
Cardinal Barberini, saying, “Direct the studies of this child, who will
become the Michael Angelo of this century.”


During Bernini’s distinguished career, Charles I. of England endeavored
in vain to allure him to visit his court. Not succeeding in this, he
employed Vandyck to paint two excellent portraits of himself, one in
profile and the other in full face, and sent them to Bernini, to enable
him to execute his bust. The sculptor surveyed them with an anxious eye,
and exclaimed, “Something evil will befall this man; he carries
misfortune in his face.” The tragical termination of the monarch’s
career, verified the sculptor’s knowledge of physiognomy. Bernini made a
striking likeness, with which the king was so much pleased, that, in
addition to the stipulated price, six thousand crowns, he made him a
present of a diamond ring, worth six thousand more.


Bernini received the most flattering and pressing invitations from Louis
XIV. to visit Paris. At length, he was persuaded by the great Colbert to
undertake the journey, and having with great difficulty obtained
permission of the Pope, he set out for France, at the age of
sixty-eight, accompanied by one of his sons, and a numerous retinue.
Never did an artist travel with so much pomp, and under so many
flattering circumstances. By order of the King, he was received
everywhere on his way with the honors due to a prince, and on his
arrival at Paris, he was received by the king with every mark of
distinction, and apartments assigned to him in the royal palace. Louis
defrayed all the expenses of his journey, and to immortalize the event,
had a medal struck, with the portrait of the artist, and on the reverse,
the Muses of the Arts, with this inscription, “_Singularis in
singularis; in omnibus, unicus_.” When he returned to Rome, Louis
presented him with ten thousand crowns, gave him a pension of two
thousand, and one of four hundred to his son, and commissioned him to
execute an equestrian statue of himself, in marble, of colossal
proportions. The statue was executed in four years, and sent to
Versailles, where it was afterwards converted into _Marcus Curtius_, and
where, as such, it still remains.


Bernini designed and wrought with wonderful facility; his life was one
of continued exertion, and he lived to the great age of eighty-two
years, so that he was enabled to execute an astonishing number of works.
Richly endowed by nature, and favored by circumstances, he rose superior
to the rules of art, creating for himself an easy manner, the faults of
which he knew well how to disguise by its brilliancy; yet this course,
as must ever be the case, did not lead to a lasting reputation. “The
Cav. Bernini,” says Lanzi, “the great architect and skillful sculptor,
was the arbiter and dispenser of all the works at Rome, under the
pontificates of Urban VIII. and Innocent X. His style necessarily
influenced those of all the artists, his cotemporaries. He was affected,
particularly in his drapery. He opened the way to caprice, changed the
true principles of art, and substituted for them the false. At
different times, the study of painting has taken the same vicious
course; above all, among the imitators of Pietro da Cortona, some of
whom went so far as to condemn a study of the works of Raffaelle, and
even to decry, as useless, the imitation of nature.” Bernini lived in
splendor and magnificence, and left a fortune of 400,000 Roman crowns
(about $700,000), to his children.


When the Verospi statue of Hercules killing the Hydra was first
discovered, some parts of it, particularly the monster itself, were
wanting, and were supplied by Bernini. Some years after, in further
digging the same piece of ground, they found the hydra that originally
belonged to it, which differs very much from Bernini’s supplemental one;
yet the latter is given in Maffei’s Statues, and other books of prints,
as the antique. The statue was removed from the Verospi palace to the
Capitol, where it now is; and the original hydra, with a horned sort of
a human face, snakes for hair, and a serpentine body, is there also, in
the same court.


Queen Elizabeth was a bitter persecutor of art; she ordered all sacred
pictures in the churches to be utterly destroyed, and the walls to be
white-washed, so that no memorial of them might remain. In her reign, it
became fashionable to sally forth and knock pictures and images to
pieces. Flaxman says, “The commands for destroying sacred paintings and
sculpture prevented the artist from suffering his mind to rise to the
contemplation or execution of any sublime effort, as he dreaded a prison
or a stake, and reduced him to the lowest drudgery in his profession.
This extraordinary check to our national art occurred at a time which
offered the most essential and extraordinary assistance to its
progress.” Flaxman proceeds to remark, “the civil wars completed what
fanaticism had begun, and English art was so completely extinguished
that foreign artists were always employed for public or private

Charles I. was a great lover and patron of the fine arts, and during his
reign they made rapid advances in England; but the blind zeal of the
Puritans dispersed his splendid gallery, and destroyed almost every
vestige of art. In the Journal of the House, July 23d, 1645, it is
“Ordered, that all pictures having the second person of the Trinity, be
burnt.” Walpole relates that “one Blessie was hired at half-a-crown a
day to break the painted windows in Croydon church.” One _Dowsing_ was
employed from June 9th, 1642, to October 4th, 1644, in this _holy_
business, and by calculation it is found that he and his agents had
destroyed about 4660 pictures, evidently not all glass, because when
they were glass he so specified them.

“The result of this continued persecution,” says Haydon, “was the ruin
of high art, for the people had not taste enough to feel any sympathy
for it independently of religion, and every man who has pursued it
since, who had not a private fortune, and was not supported by a
pension, like West, became infallibly ruined.”


“Few works are more evanescent than paintings. Sculpture retains its
freshness for twenty centuries. The Apollo and the Venus are as they
were. But books are perhaps the only productions of man coeval with the
human race. Sophocles and Shakspeare can be produced and reproduced
forever. But how evanescent are paintings, and must necessarily be!
Those of Zeuxis and Apelles are no more, and perhaps they have the same
relation to Homer and Æschylus, that those of Raffaelle and Guido have
to Dante and Petrarch.

“There is however, one refuge from the despondency of this
contemplation. The material part, indeed, of their works must perish,
but they survive in the mind of man, and the remembrances of them are
transmitted from generation to generation. The poet embodies them in his
creations, and the systems of philosophers are modeled to gentleness by
their contemplation; opinion, that legislator, is infected with their
influence; men become better and wiser; and the unseen seeds are perhaps
thus sown which shall produce a plant more excellent than that from
which they fell.”--_Shelley._

There is at least another _refuge_. Paintings are now rendered as
permanent as books by engraving, or statuary, by mosaics. In the time of
Pliny, there were Greek paintings in Rome 600 years old. There is a
painting at Florence dated 886. It is also to be hoped that christianity
and civilization have made such advances, that no more Goths, Vandals,
Turks, and fanatics, will take pleasure in demolishing works of art as
in ages past.


“A fine gallery of pictures is a sort of illustration of Berkeley’s
theory of matter and spirit. It is like a palace of thought--another
universe, built of air, of shadows, of colors. Everything seems palpable
to feeling as to sight: substances turn to shadows by the arch-chemic
touch; shadows harden into substances; ‘the eye is made the fool of the
other senses, or else worth all the rest.’ The material is in some sense
embodied in the immaterial, or at least we see all things in a sort of
intellectual mirror. The world of art is an enchanting deception. We
discover distance in a glazed surface; a province is contained in a foot
of canvass; a thin evanescent tint gives the form and pressure of rocks
and trees; an inert shape has life and motion in it. Time stands still,
and the dead reappear by means of this so potent art!

“What hues (those of nature mellowed by time) breathe around, as we
enter! What forms are there woven into the memory! What looks, which
only the answering looks of the spectator can express! What intellectual
stores have been yearly poured forth from the shrine of ancient art! The
works are various, but the names the same; heaps of Rembrandts frowning
from their darkened walls--Rubens’ glad gorgeous groups--Titian’s more
rich and rare--Claude always exquisite, sometimes beyond
compare--Guido’s endless cloying sweetness--the learning of Poussin and
the Caracci--and Raphael’s princely magnificence, crowning all. We read
certain letters and syllables in the catalogue, and at the well-known
magic sound a miracle of skill and beauty starts to view.

“Pictures are a set of chosen images, a stream of pleasant thoughts
passing through the mind. It is a luxury to have the walls of our rooms
hung round with them, and no less so to have such a gallery in the
mind,--to con over the relics of ancient art bound up ‘within the book
and volume of the brain, unmixed, (if it were possible) with baser
matter.’ A life passed among pictures, in the study and love of art, is
a happy, noiseless dream: or rather it is to dream and to be awake at
the same time, for it has all ‘the sober certainty of waking bliss,’
with the romantic voluptuousness of a visionary and abstracted being.
They are the bright consummate essence of things, and he who knows of
these delights, ‘to taste and interpose them oft, is not


“It is difficult to discover any settled rules of propriety in the
different modes of dress, as all ages and nations have fluctuated with
regard to their notions and fashions in this matter. The Greek statues
of the Laocoön, Apollo, Meleager, Hercules; the Fighting and Dying
Gladiator, and the Venus de Medicis, though altogether without drapery,
yet surely there is nothing in them offensive to modesty, nothing
immoral: on the contrary, looking on these figures, the mind of the
spectator is taken up with the surprising beauty or sublimity of the
personage, his great strength, vigorous and manly character; or those
pains and agonies that so feelingly discover themselves throughout the
whole work. It is not in showing or concealing the form that modesty or
the want of it depends; _that_ rises entirely from the choice and
intentions of the artist himself. The Greeks and other great designers
came into this practice (of representing the figure undraped) in order
to show in its full extent the idea of character they meant to
establish. If it was beauty, they show it to you in all the limbs; if
strength, the same; and the agonies of the Laocoön are as discernible in
his foot as in his face. This pure and naked nature speaks a universal
language, which is understood and valued in all times and countries,
where the Grecian dress, language, and manners are neither regarded or
known. It is worth observing also that many of the fair sex do sometimes
betray themselves by their over-delicacy (which is the want of all true
delicacy) in this respect. But I am ashamed to be obliged to combat such
silly affectations; they are beneath men who have either head or heart;
they are unworthy of women who have either education or simplicity of
manner; they would disgrace even waiting-maids and sentimental

“There is no more potent antidote to low sensuality than the adoration
of beauty. All the higher arts of design are essentially chaste, without
respect of the object. They purify the thoughts, as tragedy, according
to Aristotle, purifies the passions. Their accidental effects are not
worth consideration. There are souls to whom even a vestal is not
holy.”--_A. W. von Schlegel._


“The painters of the Roman school were the best designers, and had more
of the antique taste in their works than any of the others, but
generally they were not good colorists. Those of Florence were good
designers, and had a kind of greatness, but it was not antique. The
Venetian and Lombard schools had excellent colorists, and a certain
grace, but entirely modern, especially those of Venice; but their
drawing was generally incorrect, and their knowledge in history and the
antique very little. And the Bolognese school of the Caracci is a sort
of composition of the others; even Annibal himself possessed not any
part of painting in the perfection which is to be seen in those from
whom his manner is composed, though, to make amends, he possessed more
parts than perhaps any other master, and all in a very high degree. The
works of those of the German school have a dryness and ungraceful
stiffness, not unlike what is seen amongst the old Florentines. The
Flemings were good colorists, and imitated nature as they conceived
it--that is, instead of raising nature, they fell below it, though not
so much as the Germans, nor in the same manner. Rubens himself lived and
died a Fleming, though he would fain have been an Italian; but his
imitators have caricatured his manner--that is, they have been more
Rubens in his defects than he himself was, but without his excellencies.
The French, excepting some few of them (N. Poussin, Le Sueur, Sebastian
Bourdon), as they have not the German stiffness nor the Flemish
ungracefulness, neither have they the Italian solidity; and in their
airs of heads and manners they are easily distinguished from the
antique, how much soever they may have endeavored to imitate


“The duration and stability of the fame of the old masters of painting
is sufficient to evince that it has not been suspended upon the slender
thread of fashion and caprice, but bound to the human heart by every
chord of sympathetic approbation.”--_Sir J. Reynolds._


The prices given for the three great collections of paintings sold in
England within the last century, may perhaps not be uninteresting. The
Houghton gallery, of two hundred and thirty-two pictures, collected by
Sir Robert Walpole, was sold to the Empress Catharine of Russia for
£43,500. The Orleans gallery of two hundred and ninety-six pictures was
sold in London, in 1798, for £43,555; and the Angerstein collection of
thirty-eight pictures was bought by the British government, in 1823, for
£57,000. This last purchase was the commencement of the English National


Quintin Matsys, called the Blacksmith of Antwerp, was bred up to the
trade of a blacksmith or farrier, which business he followed till he was
twenty years of age, when, according to Lampsonius, his love for a
blue-eyed lass, whose cruel father, an artist, refused her hand to any
one but a painter, caused him to abandon his devotion to Vulcan, and
inspired him with the ambition to become a worshipper at the shrine of
the Muses. He possessed uncommon talents and genius, applied himself
with great assiduity, and in a short time produced pictures that gave
promise of the highest excellence, and gained him the fair hand for
which he sighed. The inscription on the monument erected to his memory
in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, at Antwerp, records in a few expressive
words the singular story of his life:

    “_Connubialis amor de Mulcibre fecit Apellem._”


Jarvis, though a wayward and eccentric man, unfortunately for himself
and the world too much given to strong potations, was “a fellow of
infinite jest, of most excellent fancy,” whose “gambols, songs, and
flashes of merriment were wont to set the table on a roar.” He was a
merry wag, and an inimitable story-teller and mimic. Some of his stories
were dramatized by Dunlap, Hackett, and Matthews, the best of which is
the laughable farce of Monsieur Mallet. Dunlap says, “Another story
which Matthews dressed up for John Bull, originated with Jarvis. From a
friend I have what I suppose to be the original scene. My friend was
passing the painter’s room, when he suddenly threw up the window, and
called him in, saying, ‘I have something for your criticism, that you
will be pleased with.’ He entered, expecting to see a picture, or some
other specimen of the fine arts, but nothing of the kind was
produced--he was, however, introduced with a great deal of ceremony,
to Monsieur B----, ‘celebrated for his accurate knowledge of the
English language, and intimate critical acquaintance with its
poetry--particularly Shakspeare.’ Mr. A----, as I shall call my friend,
began to understand Jarvis’ object in calling him in. After a little
preliminary conversation, Jarvis said, ‘I hope, Monsieur B----, you
still retain your love of the drama?’ ‘O certainly, sir, wid my life I
renounce it.’ ‘Mr. A----, did you ever hear Monsieur recite?’ ‘Never.’
‘Your recitations from Racine, Monsieur B----, will you oblige us?’

“The polite and vain Frenchman was easily prevailed upon to roll out
several long speeches, from Racine and Corneille, with much
gesticulation and many a well-rounded _R_. This was only to introduce
the main subject of entertainment. ‘Monsieur B---- is not only
remarkable, as you hear, for his very extraordinary recitations from the
poets of his native land, but for his perfect conquest over the
difficulties of the English language, in the most difficult of all our
poets--Shakspeare. He has studied Hamlet and Macbeth thoroughly--and if
he would oblige us--do, ‘Monsieur B----, do give us, “To be, or not to
be.”’ ‘Sur, the language is too difficult--I make great efforts to be
sure, but still the foreigner is to be detected.’ This gentleman’s
peculiarities were in extreme precision and double efforts with the _th_
and the other shibboleths of English. The unsuspecting and vain man is
soon induced to give Hamlet’s soliloquy, the _th_ forced out as from a
pop-gun, and some of the words irresistibly comic. ‘But, Monsieur B----,
you are particularly great in Macbeth--_that_ “if it were done, when it
is done,” and “peep through the blanket,”--come, let us have Macbeth.’
Then followed Macbeth’s soliloquies in the same style. All this was
ludicrous enough, but upon this foundation Jarvis raised a
superstructure, which he carried as high as the zest with which it was
received by his companions, his own feelings, or other circumstances
prompted or warranted. The unfortunate Monsieur B---- was imitated and
caricatured with most laugh-provoking effect; but to add to the treat,
he was made not only to recite, but to comment and criticise. ‘If it
were done,’ ‘peep through the blanket,’ and, ‘catch with the sursease,
success,’ gave a rich field for the imaginary critic’s
commentaries--then he would expose, and overthrow Voltaire’s criticisms,
and give as examples of the true sublime in tragedy, the scene of the
witches in Macbeth.

“‘Huen shall we thtree meet aggen?’ but, ‘mounched, and mounched, and
mounched,’ was a delicious feast for the critic--and ‘rrump fed
rronion,’ gave an opportunity to show that the English witch was a true
John Bull, and fed upon the ‘rrump of the beef,’ ‘thither in a sieve
I’ll sail and like a rat without a tail, I’ll do--I’ll do--I’ll do,’
being recited in burlesque imitation, gives an opportunity for comment
and criticism, something in this manner. ‘You see not only how true to
nature, but to the science of navigation all this is. If the rat had a
tail, he could steer the sieve as the sailor steer his ship by the
rudder; but if he have no tail, he cannot command the navigation, that
is, the course of the sieve; and it will run round--and round--and
round--that is what the witch say--“I’ll do--I’ll do--I’ll do!”’ But how
can the humor of the story-teller be represented by the writer--or how
can I dispose my reader to receive a story dressed in cold black and
white--in formal type--with the same hilarity which attends upon the
table, and the warm and warming rosy wine? The reader has perceived the
want of these magical auxiliaries in the above.”

Jarvis was equally ludicrous in his readings from Shakspeare, in
imitation of the stutterer and lisper. The venerable Dr. C. S. Francis,
who was intimately acquainted with the painter, says, “Dr. Syntax never
with more avidity sought after the sublime and picturesque, than did
Jarvis after the scenes of many-colored life; whether his subject was
the author of Common Sense or the notorious Baron von Hoffman. His
stories, particularly those connected with his southern tours, abounded
in motley scenes and ludicrous occurrences; there was no lacking of
hair-breadth escapes, whether the incidents involved the collisions of
intellect, or sprung from alligators and rattlesnakes. His humor won the
admiration of every hearer, and he is recognized as the master of
anecdote. But he deserves to be remembered on other accounts--his
corporeal intrepidity and his reckless indifference of consequences. I
believe there have been not a few of the faculty who have exercised,
with public advantage, their professional duties among us for a series
of years, who never became as familiar with the terrific scenes of
yellow fever and of malignant cholera as Jarvis did. He seemed to have a
singular desire to become personally acquainted with the details
connected with such occurrences; and a death-bed scene, with all its
appalling circumstances, in a disorder of a formidable character, was
sought after by him with the solicitude of the inquirer after fresh
news. Nor was this wholly an idle curiosity. Jarvis often freely gave of
his limited stores to the indigent, and he listened with a fellow
feeling to the recital of the profuse liberality with which that opulent
merchant of our city, the late Thomas H. Smith, supplied daily the wants
of the afflicted and necessitous sufferer during the pestilence of 1832.

“We are indebted to Jarvis for probably the best, if not the only good
drawing of the morbid effects of cholera on the human body while it
existed here in 1832. During that season of dismay and danger our
professional artists declined visiting the cholera hospitals, and were
reluctant to delineate when the subject was brought to them. But it
afforded a new topic for the consideration of Jarvis, and perhaps also
for the better display of his anatomical attainments, he with
promptitude discharged the task. When making a drawing from the lifeless
and morbid organs of digestion, to one who inquired if he were not
apprehensive of danger while thus employed, he put the interrogatory,
‘Pray what part of the system is affected by the cholera?’ ‘The
digestive organs,’ was the reply. ‘Oh no, then,’ said Jarvis, ‘for now
you see I am doubly armed--- I am furnished with two sets.’”


Jarvis resided a long time at Charleston, S. C., where his convivial
qualities made him a great favorite. On one occasion, at a large dinner
party, after the wine had freely circulated, banishing not only form,
but discretion, some one of the company proposed that they should make
up a prize to the man who would tell the greatest and most palpable
_lie_. It was purposely arranged that Jarvis should speak last. The
President began. They

      “Spoke of most disastrous chances,
    Of moving accidents by flood and field.”

Lie followed lie; and as it is easy to heap absurdity upon absurdity,
and extravagance on enormous exaggeration; and as easy to excite
laughter and command applause, when champaigne has been enthroned in the
seat of judgment, each lie was hailed with shouts of approbation and
bursts of merriment. One of the company, who sat next to Jarvis, had
exceeded all his competitors, and unanimous admiration seemed to ensure
him the prize. The _lie_ was so monstrous and palpable, that it was
thought wit or ingenuity could not equal it. Still, something was
expected from the famous story-teller, and every eye was turned on the
painter. He rose, and placing his hand on his breast and making a low
bow, gravely said, “Gentlemen, I assure you that I fully and
unequivocally believe every word the last speaker has uttered.” A burst
of applause followed, and the prize was adjudged to the witty artist.


Jarvis painted the portrait of Bishop Benjamin Moore, who used to relate
one of his quick strokes of humor with great glee. The good Bishop,
during one of the sittings, introduced the subject of religion, and
asked Jarvis some questions as to his belief or practice. The painter,
with an arch look, but as if intent upon catching the likeness of the
sitter, waved his hand and said, “Turn your face more that way, Bishop,
and _shut your mouth_.”


When Jarvis painted the portrait of Commodore Perry, he wished to infuse
into the likeness of the hero the fire which he supposed animated him
during the terrible contest on Lake Erie. During two or three sittings
he tried in vain to rouse him by his lively conversation; he would soon
sink into a reverie; it was evident that his thoughts were far away. The
painter now had recourse to artifice. He deliberately laid down his
palette and pencils, got up, and seizing a chair, swung it over his head
in a menacing manner. This strange conduct instantly brought Perry to
his feet, his eyes flashing fire, and every feature lit up with the
desired expression. “There, that will do,” said the painter; “please sit
just as you are.” The result was the admirable picture which now adorns
our City Hall, representing the hero standing in his boat, with his flag
in one arm, triumphantly waving his sword, as he left the dismantled St.
Lawrence for the Niagara, to renew the contest, resolved to conquer or


Jarvis was a great wag as well as an inimitable story-teller. Whenever
he met with an eccentric genius, he delighted to make him indulge in
strong potations, and then engage him on his favorite hobby. On one such
occasion, a gentleman who had a smattering of Zoology, declared it as
his opinion, that it was possible to change the nature of animals; for
instance, that by cutting off the end of dogs’ or monkeys’ tails for a
few generations, they would become tailless. “That is capital logic,”
said Jarvis, “I wonder that the Jews have now any _tails_!” The
philosopher shot out of the room amidst shouts of laughter.


Jarvis could not forbear to crack a joke on the learned Dr. Mitchell,
whose profundity sometimes led him to analyze cause and effect in a
hyper-philosophical manner. “Can you tell,” said he one day to the
learned Doctor, who was sitting for his portrait, “why white sheep eat
more than black ones?” “But is it a fact?” enquired the Doctor. “Most
assuredly,” said the painter, “as every farmer will tell you.” The
Doctor then went on to give sundry philosophical reasons why white sheep
might require more food than black ones. “Your reasons are
excellent--but I think I can give you a better one. In my opinion the
reason why white sheep eat more than black ones is, because there are
more of them!”


Jarvis, in his more prosperous days, was always improvident and
recklessly extravagant. Dunlap says, “when he went to New Orleans for
the first time, (in 1833) he took Henry Inman with him. To use his own
words,--‘my purse and my pockets were empty; (when he went to N. O.) I
spent $3000 there in six months, and brought $3000 to New York. The next
winter I did the same.’ He used to receive six sitters a day. A sitting
occupied an hour. The picture was then handed to Inman, who painted upon
the background and drapery under the master’s directions. Thus six
portraits were finished each week.” His prices at this time were $100
for a head, and $150 for head and hands.

“Mr. Sully once told me,” says Dunlap, “that calling on Jarvis, he was
shown into a room, and left to wait some minutes before he entered. He
saw a book on the table amidst palette, brushes, tumblers, candlesticks,
and other heterogeneous affairs, and on opening it, he found a life of
Moreland. When Jarvis came into the room, Sully sat with the book in his
hand. ‘Do you know why I like that book?’ said Jarvis. ‘I suppose
because it is the life of a painter,’ was the reply. ‘Not merely that,’
rejoined the other, ‘but because I think he was like myself.’” What a
commentary! Moreland was a man of genius, and might have shone as a
bright star in the history of art, had he not degraded himself by
dissipation, almost to a level with the pigs he delighted to paint. The
glory of both Stuart and Jarvis is obscured by the same fatal passion.
“O that men should put an enemy in their mouths, to steal away their
brains! that we should, with joy, revel, pleasure, and applause,
transform ourselves into beasts.”

“Jarvis,” says Dunlap, “was fond of notoriety from almost any source,
and probably thought it aided him in his profession. His dress was
generally unique. His long coat, trimmed with furs like a Russian
prince, or a potentate from the north pole, and his two enormous dogs
which accompanied him through the streets, and often carried home his
market basket, must be remembered by many.”


It is not generally known that this celebrated engineer was in his early
life a practical painter.--From the age of 17 to 21, he painted
portraits and landscapes in Philadelphia. In his 22d year, he went to
England to prosecute his studies under West, who received him with great
kindness, and was so much pleased with his genius and amiable qualities,
that he took him into his own house, as a member of his family. After
leaving West, he seems to have made painting his chief employment for a
livelihood for several years, though at this time, his mind was occupied
with various great projects connected with engineering. In 1797, he went
to Paris in prosecution of these projects, and to fill his empty
coffers, he projected the first panorama ever exhibited in that city. He
was a true lover of art, too, and endeavored to induce the citizens of
Philadelphia to get up a subscription to purchase some of West’s
choicest pictures, which then could have been bought very cheap, as the
commencement of a gallery in that city.


Robert Fulton, after years of toil, anxiety, and ridicule, thus writes
to his friend, Joel Barlow, immediately after his first steam-boat
voyage from New York to Albany and back:

                                             “New York, August 2, 1807.

     “MY DEAR FRIEND--My steam-boat voyage to Albany and back, has
     turned out rather more favorably than I had calculated. The
     distance from New York to Albany is 150 miles; I ran it up in
     thirty-two hours, and down in thirty hours; the latter is five
     miles an hour. I had a light breeze against me the whole way,
     goings and coming, so that no use was made of my sails, and the
     voyage has been performed wholly by the power of the steam engine.
     I overtook many sloops and schooners, beating to windward, and
     passed them as if they had been at anchor.

     “The power of propelling boats by steam, is now fully proved. The
     morning I left New York, there were not, perhaps, thirty persons,
     who believed that the boat would move one mile an hour, or be of
     the least utility; and while we were putting off from the wharf,
     which was crowded with spectators, I heard a number of sarcastic
     remarks. This is the way, you know, in which ignorant men
     compliment what they call philosophers and projectors.

     “Having employed much time, money, and zeal, in accomplishing this
     work, it gives me, as it will you, great pleasure, to see it so
     fully answer my expectations. It will give a quick and cheap
     conveyance to merchandize on the Mississippi, Missouri, and other
     great rivers, which are now laying open their treasures to the
     enterprise of our countrymen. Although the prospect of personal
     emolument has been some inducement to me, yet I feel infinitely
     more pleasure in reflecting on the immense advantages my country
     will derive from the invention.”


This preëminent portrait painter was born at Narragansett, Rhode Island,
in 1756. He received his first instruction from a Scotch painter at
Newport, named Alexander, who was so much pleased with his talents and
lively disposition, that he took him with him on his return to Scotland.
His friend dying soon after, the youth found himself pennyless in a
strange country, but undismayed, he resolved to return home, and found
himself obliged to work his passage before the mast. He had already made
considerable progress in art, and on his return commenced portrait
painting, although without meeting much encouragement. He was in Boston
at the time of the Battle of Lexington, but immediately left that city
and went to New York, where he painted the portrait of his grandmother
from memory, though she had been dead about ten years, which is said to
have been a capital likeness, and gained him some business. About this
time he painted his own portrait, the only one he ever took of himself,
to the excellence of which his friend Dr. Waterhouse bears ample
testimony. He says, “it was painted in his freest manner, and with a
Rubens’ hat,” and in another place, that “Stuart in his best days, said
he need not be ashamed of it.”


Not meeting with any adequate encouragement, and the country being in a
deplorable state, in the midst of the Revolution, Stuart set sail for
London in 1778, at the age of twenty-two, to try his fortunes in that
city. He was a wayward and eccentric genius, proud as Lucifer withal;
and on his arrival in that metropolis, he found himself full of poverty,
enthusiasm, and hope,--often a painter’s only capital. He expected to
have found Waterhouse, who would have helped him with his advice, and
purse if necessary, but he had gone to Edinburg. Instead of going
directly to West, as he should have done, he wandered about the “dreary
solitude” of London, as Johnson used to characterize the busy hum of
that crowded city to the poverty-stricken sons of genius, till he had
expended his last dollar.


Stuart had a great taste for music, which he had cultivated, and was an
accomplished musician. One day, as he was passing a church in
Foster-Lane, hearing the sound of an organ, he stepped in, and
ascertaining that the vestry were testing the candidates for the post of
organist, he asked if he might try. Being told that he could, he did so,
and succeeded in getting the place, with a salary of thirty guineas a


During all this time, for some unknown reason, Stuart never sought the
acquaintance of West, but the moment that excellent man heard of the
young painter and his circumstances, he immediately sent a messenger to
him with money to relieve his necessities, and invited him to call at
his studio. “Such was Stuart’s first introduction,” says Dunlap, “to
the man from whose instruction he derived the most important advantages
from that time forward; whose character he always justly appreciated,
but whose example he could not, or would not follow.” Stuart himself
says, “On application to West to receive me as a pupil, I was welcomed
with true benevolence, encouraged and taken into the family, and nothing
could exceed the attentions of the great artist to me--they were
paternal.” He was twenty-four years old when he entered the studio of
West. Before he left the roof of his benefactor and teacher, he painted
a full-length portrait of him, which elicited general admiration. It was
exhibited at the Royal Academy, and the young painter paid frequent
visits to the exhibition rooms. It happened that one day, as he stood
near the picture, surrounded by artists and students (for he had fine
wit, and was an inimitable story-teller), West came in and joined the
group. He praised the picture, and addressing himself to his pupil,
said, “you have done well, Stuart, very well; now all you have to do is
to go home and do better.” Stuart always expressed the obligations he
was under to that distinguished artist. When West saw that he was fitted
for the field, prepared for and capable of contending with the best
portrait painters, he advised him to commence his professional career,
and pointed out to him the way to fame and fortune. But Stuart did not
follow this wise counsel, preferring to indulge his own wayward fancy.
He had a noble, generous, and disinterested heart, but he was eccentric,
improvident, and extravagant, and consequently he was always in
necessitous circumstances.


“I used often to provoke my good old master,” said Stuart to Dunlap,
“though, heaven knows, without intending it. You remember the color
closet at the bottom of his painting-room. One day, Trumbull and I came
into his room, and little suspecting that he was within hearing, I began
to lecture on his pictures, and particularly upon one then on his easel.
I was a giddy, foolish fellow then. He had begun a portrait of a child,
and he had a way of making curly hair by a flourish of his brush, thus,
like a figure of three. “Here, Trumbull,” said I, “do you want to learn
how to paint hair? There it is, my boy! Our master figures out a head of
hair like a sum in arithmetic. Let us see--we may tell how many guineas
he is to have for this head by simple addition,--three and three make
six, and three are nine, and three are twelve--” How much the sum would
have amounted to, I can’t tell, for just then in stalked the master,
with palette-knife and palette, and put to flight my calculations. “Very
well, Mr. Stuart”--he always _mistered_ me when he was angry, as a man’s
wife calls him _my dear_, when she wishes him to the d----l,--“Very
well, Mr. Stuart! very well indeed!” You may believe that I looked
foolish enough, and he gave me a pretty sharp lecture, without my making
any reply. But when the head was finished, there were no _figures of
three in the hair_.”

“Mr. West,” says Stuart, “treated me very cavalierly on one occasion:
but I had my revenge. My old master, who was always called upon to paint
a portrait of his majesty for every governor-general sent out to India,
received an order for one for Lord ----. He was busily employed upon one
of his _ten-acre_ pictures, in company with prophets and apostles, and
thought he could turn over the king to me. He could never paint a

“‘Stuart,’ said he, ‘it is a pity to make his majesty sit again for his
picture; there is the portrait of him that you painted; let me have it
for Lord ----. I will retouch it, and it will do well enough.’ ‘_Well
enough!_ very pretty,’ thought I; ‘you might be civil, when you ask a
favor.’ So I _thought_; but I _said_, ‘Very well, sir.’ So the picture
was carried down to his room, and at it he went. I saw he was puzzled.
He worked at it all that day. The next morning, ‘Stuart,’ says he, ‘have
you got your palette set?’ ‘Yes, sir.’ ‘Well, you can soon set another;
let me have it; I can’t satisfy myself with that head.’

“I gave him my palette, and he worked the greater part of that day. In
the afternoon I went into his room, and he was hard at it. I saw that he
had got up to the knees in mud. ‘Stuart,’ says he, ‘I don’t know how it
is, but you have a way of managing your tints unlike everybody else.
Here, take the palette, and finish the head.’ ‘I can’t, sir,’ ‘You
can’t?’ ‘I can’t indeed, sir, as it is; but let it stand till to-morrow
morning and get dry, and I will go over it with all my heart.’ The
picture was to go away the day after the morrow; so he made me promise
to do it early next morning.

He never came down into the painting room until about ten o’clock, I
went into his room bright and early, and by half past nine I had
finished the head. That done, _Rafe_ (Raphael West, the master’s son)
and I began to fence; I with my maul-stick, and he with his father’s. I
had just driven Rafe up to the wall, with his back to one of his
father’s best pictures, when the old gentleman, as neat as a lad of wax,
with his hair powdered, his white silk stockings and yellow morocco
slippers, popped into the room, looking as if he had stepped out of a
band-box. We had made so much noise that we did not hear him come down
the gallery, or open the door. ‘There, you dog,’ says I to Rafe, ‘there
I have you, and nothing but your back-ground _relieves_ you.’

“The old gentleman could not help smiling at my technical joke, but
soon, looking very stern, ‘Mr. Stuart,’ says he, ‘is this the way you
use me?’ ‘Why! what’s the matter, sir? I have neither hurt the boy nor
the background.’ ‘Sir, when you knew I had promised that the picture of
his majesty should be finished to-day, ready to be sent away to-morrow,
thus to be neglecting me and your promise! How can you answer it to me
or to yourself?’

“‘Sir,’ said I, ‘do not condemn me without examining the easel. I have
finished the picture: please to look at it.’ He did so, complimented me
highly, and I had ample revenge for his, ‘It will do well enough.’”


Trumbull, speaking of Stuart as he knew him in London, says, “He was a
much better scholar than I had supposed he was. He once undertook to
paint my portrait, and I sat every day for a week, and then he left off
without finishing it, saying, ‘he could make nothing of my d----d
sallow face.’ But during the time, in his conversation, I observed that
he had not only read, but remembered what he had read. In speaking of
the character of man, he said, ‘Linnæus is right; Plato and Diogenes
call man a biped without feathers; that’s a shallow definition.
Franklin’s is better--a tool-making animal; but Linnæus’ is the
best--homo, animal mendax, rapax, pugnax.’”


Stuart thus explains how he came to adopt a custom, which, when
practicable, commends itself to others. “Lord St. Vincent, the Duke of
Northumberland, and Colonel Barre, came unexpectedly into my room, one
morning after my setting up an independent easel, and explained the
object of their visit. They understood that I was under pecuniary
embarrassment, and offered me assistance, which I declined. They then
said they would sit for their portraits; of course I was ready to serve
them. They then advised that I should make it a rule that half the price
must be paid at the first sitting. They insisted on setting the example,
and I followed the practice, ever after this delicate mode of their
showing their friendship.”


Stuart read men’s characters at a glance, and always engaged his sitters
on some interesting topic of conversation, and while their features were
thus lit up, he transferred them to his canvass, with the magic of his
pencil. Hence his portraits are full of animation, truth, and nature.
This trait is well illustrated by the following anecdote. Lord Mulgrave
employed him to paint his brother, General Phipps, who was going out to
India. When the portrait was finished, and the general had sailed, the
Earl called for the picture, and on examining it, he seemed disturbed,
and said, “This picture looks strange, sir; how is it? I think I see
insanity in that face!” “I painted your brother as I saw him,” replied
the painter. The first account Lord Mulgrave had of his brother was,
that insanity, unknown and unapprehended by any of his friends, had
driven him to commit suicide. Washington Allston, in his eulogium on
Stuart, says, “The narratives and anecdotes with which his knowledge of
men and the world had stored his memory, and which he often gave with
great beauty and dramatic effect, were not unfrequently employed by Mr.
Stuart in a way, and with an address peculiar to himself. From this
store it was his custom to draw largely, while occupied with his
sitters, apparently for their amusement; but his object was rather, by
thus banishing all restraint, to call forth, if possible, some
involuntary traits of natural character. It was this which enabled him
to animate his canvass, not with the appearance of mere general life,
but with that peculiar, distinctive life which separates the humblest
individual from his kind. He seemed to dive into the thoughts of
men--for they were made to rise and speak on the surface.”


Dr. Waterhouse relates the following anecdote of Stuart. He was
traveling one day in an English stage-coach, with some gentlemen who
were all strangers, and at first rather taciturn, but he soon engaged
them in the most animated conversation. At length they arrived at their
place of destination, and stopped at an inn to dine. “His companions,”
says the Doctor, “were very desirous to know _who_ and _what_ he was,
for whatever Dr. Franklin may have said a half century ago about the
question-asking propensity of his countrymen, I never noticed so much
of that kind of traveling curiosity in New England as in Britain. To the
round-about inquiries to find out his calling or profession, Stuart
answered with a grave face and serious tone,

“‘I sometimes dress gentlemen’s and ladies’ hair’ (at that time, the
high craped, pomatumed hair was all the fashion).

“‘You are a hair-dresser, then?’

“‘What,’ said he, ‘do I look like a barber?’

“‘I beg your pardon, sir, but I inferred it from what you said. If I
mistook you, I may take the liberty to ask you what you are then?’

“‘Why, I sometimes brush a gentleman’s coat or hat, and sometimes adjust
a cravat.’

“‘O, you are a valet, then, to some nobleman?’

“‘A valet! Indeed sir, I am not. I am not a servant. To be sure, I make
coats and waistcoats for gentlemen.’

“‘O, you are a tailor?’

“‘A tailor! Do I look like a tailor? I assure you, I never handled a
goose, other than a roasted one.’

By this time they were all in a roar.

“‘What are you, then?’ said one.

“‘I’ll tell you,’ said Stuart. ‘Be assured, all I have told you is
literally true. I dress hair, brush hats and coats, adjust a cravat, and
make coats, waistcoats, and breeches, and likewise boots and shoes, at
your service.’

“‘O, ho! a boot and shoemaker after all!’

“Guess again, gentlemen. I never handled boot or shoe, but for my own
feet and legs; yet all I told you is true.’

“‘We may as well give up guessing.’

“‘Well then, I will tell you, upon my honor as a gentleman, my _bona
fide_ profession. I get my bread by making faces.’

He then screwed his countenance, and twisted the lineaments of his
visage in a manner such as Samuel Foote or Charles Matthews might have
envied. His companions, after loud peals of laughter, each took credit
to himself for having suspected that the gentleman belonged to the
theatre, and they all knew he must be a comedian by profession, when, to
their utter astonishment, he assured them he was never on the stage, and
very rarely saw the inside of a playhouse, or any similar place of
amusement. They all now looked at each other in utter amazement. Before
parting, Stuart said to his companions,--

“‘Gentlemen, you will find that all I have said of various employments
is comprised in these few words: _I am a portrait painter!_ If you will
call at John Palmer’s, York Buildings, London, I shall be ready and
willing to brush you a coat or hat, dress your hair _a la mode_, supply
you, if in need, with a wig of any fashion or dimensions, accommodate
you boots or shoes, give you ruffles or cravat, and make faces for


Stanley, in his edition of Bryan’s Dictionary of Painters and Engravers
says, “He rose into eminence, and his claims were acknowledged, even in
the life time of Sir Joshua Reynolds. His high reputation as a portrait
painter, as well in Ireland as in England, introduced him to a large
acquaintance among the higher circles of society, and he was in the road
of realizing a large fortune, had he not returned to America.”


“The Duke of Rutland,” says Dunlap, who had the story from the artist
himself, “invited Stuart to his house in Dublin. Stuart got money enough
together somehow to pay his passage to Ireland; but when he got there,
he found that the duke had died the day before. If anybody else had gone
there, the duke would have been just as sure to live, for something
extraordinary must happen to Stuart, of course. He soon got into the
debtors’ prison again; but he was a star still. He would not let people
give him money. Rich people and nobles _would_ be painted by him, and
they had to go to jail to find the painter. There he held his court;
flashing equipages of lords and ladies came dashing up to prison, while
their exquisite proprietors waited for their first sitting. He began the
pictures of a great many nobles and men of wealth and fashion, received
half price at the first sitting, and left their Irish lordships
imprisoned in effigy. Having thus liberated _himself_, and there being
no law that would justify the jailor in holding half-finished peers in
prison, the painter fulfilled his engagements, more at his ease, in his
own house, and in the bosom of his own family; and it is probable the
Irish gentlemen laughed heartily at the trick, and willingly paid the
remainder of the price.”


Miss Stuart, the daughter of the painter, says, “he arrived in Dublin in
1788, and notwithstanding the loss of his friendly inviter, he met with
great success, painted most of the nobility, and lived in a good deal of
splendor. The love of his own country, his admiration of General
Washington, and the very great desire he had to paint his portrait, was
his _only_ inducement to turn his back on his good fortunes in Europe.”
Accordingly, in 1793, he embarked for New York, where he took up his
abode for some months, and painted the portraits of Sir John Temple,
John Jay, Gen. Clarkson, John R. Murray, Colonel Giles, and other
persons of distinction.


In 1794, Stuart proceeded to Philadelphia, for the purpose of painting a
portrait of Washington, who received him courteously. He used to say
that when he entered the room where Washington was, he felt embarrassed,
and that it was the first time in his life he had ever felt awed in the
presence of a fellowman. Washington was then standing on the highest
eminence of earthly glory, and the gaze of the world was steadily fixed
upon the man, whom Botta terms “the Father of Freedom.” To leave to
posterity a faithful portrait of the Father of his country, had become
the most earnest wish of Stuart’s life. This he accomplished, but not at
the first time; he was not satisfied with the expression, and destroyed
the picture. The President sat again, and he produced that head which
embodies not only the features but the soul of Washington, from which he
painted all his other portraits of that great man. This picture is now
in the Boston Atheneum.


After the removal of Congress to Washington, Stuart followed, and
resided there till 1806, when he went to Boston, and passed there the
rest of his days. He painted a great many portraits, which are scattered
all over the country. The last work he ever painted was a head of the
elder John Quincy Adams. He began it a full-length: but he was an old
man, and only lived to complete the head, which is considered one of his
best likenesses, and shows that the powers of his mind and the magic of
his pencil continued brilliant to the last. The picture was finished by
that eminent and highly gifted artist, Thomas Sully, who would not touch
the head, as he said, “he would have thought it little less than
sacrilege.” He died in 1828, in the seventy-fifth year of his age.


As a painter of heads, Stuart stands almost unrivalled in any age or
country; beyond this he made no pretensions, and indeed bestowed very
little care or labor. He used to express his contempt for fine finishing
of the extremities, or rich and elegant accessories, which he used to
say was “work for girls.” Whether these were his real sentiments, or
affectation, it is difficult to determine. He was, however, totally
deficient in that academic education which is necessary to success in
the highest branch of the art--historical painting. He had genius enough
to have distinguished himself in any branch, but he could not, or would
not, brook the necessary toil.


Stuart never had patience to undergo the drudgery necessary to become a
skillful draughtsman. His kind instructor, Mr. West, urged upon him its
importance and necessity, and advised him to frequent the Royal Academy
for this purpose, which he neglected to do. Trumbull relates that
Fuseli, on being shown some of his drawings, observed in his usual
sarcastic manner, “young man, if this is the best you can do, you had
better go and make shoes.”


Stuart was an inveterate punster. Mr. Allston, calling on him a short
time before his death, asked him how he was. “Ah!” said he, drawing up
his pantaloons, and showing his emaciated leg, which in his youth had
been his pride, “you can judge how much I am _out of drawing_.”


Stuart was an inordinate snuff-taker. He used to jocosely apologize for
the habit, by saying that “he was born in a snuff-mill,” which was
literally true, for his father was a manufacturer of snuff. He said, “a
pinch of snuff had a wonderful effect upon a man’s spirits.” An old sea
captain once observed to him, “you see, sir, I have always a nostril in
reserve. When the right becomes callous after a few weeks’ usage, I
apply for comfort to the left, which having had time to regain its sense
of feeling, enjoys the _blackguard_ till the right comes to its senses.”
“Thank you,” said Stuart, “it’s a great discovery. Strange that I should
not have made it myself, when I have been voyaging all my life in these


Stuart always maintained that a likeness depended more on the _nose_,
than any other feature, and in proof of his theory, he would put his
thumb under his own large and flexible proboscis, and turning it up,
exclaim, “who would know my portrait with such a nose as this?”
Therefore, he is said to have generally painted a likeness, before
_putting in_ the eyes. On one occasion, a pert young coxcomb, who was
sitting for his portrait, stole a glance at the canvass and exclaimed,
“why, it has no eyes!” Stuart coolly observed, “It is not nine days old
yet,” referring of course to the time when a _puppy_ first opens its


A portrait was once returned to Stuart with the grievous complaint, that
the muslin of the cravat was too coarsely executed. Stuart indignantly
observed to a friend, “I am determined to glue a piece of muslin of the
finest texture on the part that offends their _exquisite_ judgment, and
send it back again.” A lady once sat to him dressed in the extreme of
fashion, loaded with jewelry and gewgaws, besides an abundance of hair
powder and rouge. Stuart, being _hard up_ for cash, consented to “raise
a monument to her folly.” After the picture was completed, he observed
to a friend, “There is what I have all my life been endeavoring to
avoid,--vanity and bad taste.”

A gentleman of note employed Stuart to paint his own portrait and that
of his wife, who, when he married her, was a very rich widow, but a very
ordinary looking person. The husband was handsome, and of a noble
figure, and the painter _hit him off_, to admiration. Not so with the
lady; he flattered her as much as he could without destroying the
likeness, but the husband was not satisfied, expressed his
dissatisfaction in polite terms, and requested him to try again. He did
so, without any better success. The husband now began to fret, when the
painter losing his patience, jumped up, laid down his palette, took a
huge pinch of snuff, and stalking rapidly up and down the room,
exclaimed, “What a d--d business is this of a portrait painter--zounds,
you bring a _potato_, and expect him to paint you a peach.”


Stuart, it is said, never signed but one picture in his life, and that
was his own portrait, before mentioned, on which he wrote _Gilbert
Charles Stuart_. Dr. Waterhouse says, “his parents named him after his
father, and Charles the Pretender, but Stuart soon dropt the Charles, as
he was a staunch republican. When asked why he did not sign his
pictures, he replied, “I mark them all over.”


In the early part of Stuart’s career as a portrait painter in London, he
had for his attendant a wild boy, the son of a poor widow, who spent
half his time in frolicking with a fine Newfoundland dog belonging to
his master. The boy and dog were inseparable companions, and when Tom
went on an errand, Towzer must accompany him. Tom was a terrible
truant, and played so many tricks upon Stuart, that he again and again
threatened to discharge him. One day, out of all patience at his long
absence, he posted off to his mother, in a rage, to dismiss him. The old
woman, perceiving a tempest, _began first_, and told a pitiful story,
how his dog had upset her mutton pie, broke the dish, greased the floor,
and devoured the meat. “I am glad of it; you encourage the rascal to
come here, and here I will send him.” An idea struck Stuart, and he
consented to keep Tom, on condition that she kept his visit a profound
secret. When the boy returned, he found his master at his easel, and
being roundly lectured, he told a story that had no relation to his
mother, Towzer, or the pie. “Very well,” said the painter, “bring in
dinner, I shall know all about it by-and-by.” Stuart sat down to his
dinner, and Towzer took his accustomed place by his side, while Tom
stood in attendance. “Well, Towzer, your mouth don’t water for your
share; where have you been?” and he put his ear to the dog’s mouth, “I
thought so, with Tom’s mother, ha!” “Bow-wow.” “And have you had your
dinner?” “Bow.” “I thought so; what have you been eating? Put your mouth
nearer, sir. Mutton-pie; very pretty. So you and Tom have eaten Mrs.
Jenkins’ mutton-pie, have you?” “Bow-wow.” “He lies, sir,” exclaimed
Tom, in amazement, “I didn’t touch it; he broke mother’s dish, and eat
all the mutton!” From that time, Tom concluded that the devil must be in
the dog or the painter, and that he had no chance for successful lying.


This famous temple, according to Vitruvius, was designed and commenced
by Ctesiphon, a Cretan architect of great eminence. It was two hundred
years in building, and was accounted one of the seven wonders of the
world. The gods having designated the spot, according to tradition,
every nation of Asia Minor contributed to its completion, with the most
fervent zeal. It was ornamented with one hundred and twenty-seven
columns of Parian marble, of the Ionic order, sixty feet high,
thirty-seven of which were the gifts of as many kings, and were
exquisitely wrought. This great temple was finished by Demetrius and
Paonius of Ephesus. It was afterwards burned by Erostratus, in order to
immortalize his name. It was subsequently rebuilt, but was finally
destroyed totally by the barbarians, in the third or fourth century.


The most famous work of Ctesilas was the Dying Gladiator, which has
received the highest commendations from both ancient and modern writers.
It was long preserved at Rome, in the Chigi palace, but was taken to
Paris with the Laocoön and other antiques, in 1796. These works were
restored by the allies, in 1815. Ctesilas flourished about B. C. 432,
was a cotemporary of Phidias, and with him and others competed for the
prize offered for six statues of the temple of Diana at Ephesus; the
first was awarded to Polycletus, the second to Phidias, and the third to
Ctesilas. He also distinguished himself by a number of other works,
among which were a statue of Pericles, and a Wounded Amazon.


It was not until the second Punic war that the Romans acquired a taste
for the arts and elegancies of life: for though in the first war with
Carthage, they had conquered Sicily (which in the old Roman geography
made a part of Greece), and were masters of several cities in the
eastern part of Italy, (which were inhabited by Grecian colonies, and
adorned with pictures and statues in which the Greeks excelled all the
world,) they had hitherto looked on them with so careless an eye, that
they were not touched with their beauty. This insensibility long
remained, either from the grossness of their minds, or from
superstition, or (what is more likely) from a political dread that their
martial spirit and natural roughness might be destroyed by Grecian art
and elegance. When Fabius Maximus, in the second Punic war, captured
Tarentum, he found it full of riches, and adorned with pictures and
statues, particularly with some fine colossal figures of the gods
fighting against the rebel giants: Fabius ordered that the money and
plate should be sent to Rome, but that the statues and pictures should
be left behind. The Secretary, struck with the size and noble air of the
statues, asked whether they too were to be left with the rest? “Yes,”
replied he, “leave their angry gods to the Tarentines; we will have
nothing to do with them.”


We may judge to what extent the love of the arts prevailed in Rome, by a
speech of Cato the Censor, in the Senate, about seventeen years after
the taking of Syracuse. In vain did Cato exclaim against the pernicious
taste, and its demoralizing effects; the Roman generals, in their
several conquests, seem to have striven who should bring away the most
statues and pictures to adorn their triumphs and the city of Rome.
Flaminius from Greece, and more particularly Æmilius from Macedonia,
brought a very great number of vases and statues. Not many years after,
Scipio Africanus destroyed Carthage, and transferred to Rome the chief
ornaments of that city. The same year, Mummius sacked Corinth, one of
the principal repositories of the finest works of art. Having but little
taste himself, he took the surest method not to be mistaken, for he
carried off all that came in his way, and in such quantities, that he
alone is said to have filled Rome with pictures and statues. Sylla,
besides many others, made vast additions to them afterwards, by the
taking of Athens, and by his conquests in Asia.


The Venus de Medici is placed in the tribune of the Florentine gallery,
between two other Venuses, the Celestial and the Victorious. “If you
observe them well,” says Spence, “you will find as much difference
between her air, and that of the celestial Venus, as there is between
Titian’s wife as a Venus, and as a Madonna, in the same room.”


The effects of the pencil are sometimes wonderful. It is said that
Alexander trembled and grew pale on seeing a picture of Palamedes
betrayed to death by his friends. It doubtless brought to his mind a
stinging remembrance of his treatment of Aristonicus.

Portia could bear with an unshaken constancy her last separation from
Brutus; but when she saw, a few hours after, a picture of the Parting of
Hector and Andromache, she burst into a flood of tears. Full as seemed
her cup of sorrow, the painter suggested new ideas of grief, or
impressed more strongly her own.

An Athenian courtezan, in the midst of a riotous banquet with her
lovers, accidentally cast her eye on the portrait of a philosopher that
hung opposite to her seat; the happy character of temperance and virtue
struck her with so lively an image of her own unworthiness, that she
instantly quitted the room, and retiring home, became ever after an
example of temperance, as she had before been of debauchery.


Pausias, an eminent Greek painter, was a native of Sicyon, and
flourished about B. C. 450. His most famous picture was one representing
the Sacrifice of an Ox, which, according to Pliny, decorated the Hall of
Pompey in his time. Pausanias mentions two of his paintings at
Epidaurus--the one a Cupid with a lyre in his hand; and the other a
figure of Methe, or Drunkenness, drinking out of a glass vessel, through
which his face is seen. These pictures were held in the highest
estimation by the Sicyonians, but they were compelled to give them up to
M. Scaurus, who took them to Rome.


Pausias fell in love with a beautiful damsel, a native of his own city,
called Glycera, who gained a livelihood by making garlands of flowers,
and wreaths of roses. Her skill in this art induced Pausias, in a loving
rivalry, to attempt to compete with her, and he ultimately became an
inimitable flower painter. A portrait of Glycera with a garland of
flowers, called Stephanopolis, or the Garland Twiner, was reckoned his
masterpiece. So great was the fame of it, that Lucius Lucullus gave for
a copy, at Athens, two talents, or about two thousand dollars.


The most famous of his works was the picture of Ialysus and his Dog,
which occupied him seven years. The dog, represented as panting and
foaming at the mouth, was greatly admired; and it is related that
Protogenes was for a long time unable to represent the foam in the
manner he wished, till at length he threw his sponge in a fury at the
mouth, and produced the very effect he desired! The fame of this
painting was so great, that, according to Pliny, Demetrius Poliorcetes,
when besieging Rhodes, did not assault that part of the city where
Protogenes lived, lest he should destroy the picture. His studio was
situated without the walls, where, to the astonishment of the besiegers,
he continued to paint with perfect tranquillity. This coming to the ears
of Demetrius, he ordered the artist to be brought to his tent, and
demanded how he could persist in the quiet exercise of his profession,
when surrounded by enemies? Protogenes replied that he did not consider
himself in any danger, convinced that a great prince like Demetrius did
not make war against the Arts, but against the Rhodians.


This great painter was a native of Ephesus, but became a citizen of
Athens, where he flourished about B. C. 390. He raised the art to a much
higher degree of perfection than it had before attained. Comparing his
three great predecessors with each other, he rejected their errors, and
adopted their excellencies. The classic invention of Polygnotus, the
magic tones of Apollodorus, and the exquisite design of Zeuxis, are said
to have been united in the works of Parrhasius. He reduced to theory the
practice of former artists, and all cotemporary and subsequent painters
adopted his standard of heroic and divine proportions; hence he was
called the _Legislator of Painting_.


One of the most celebrated works of Parrhasius was his Demos, or an
allegorical picture of the Athenians. Pliny says that “it represented
and expressed equally all the good as well as the bad qualities of the
Athenians at the same time; one might trace the changeable, the
irritable, the kind, the unjust, the forgiving, the vain-glorious, the
proud, the humble, the fierce, the timid.” There has been considerable
dispute among critics whether this picture was a composition of one or
several figures. Supposing it to have been a single figure, Pliny’s
description is absurd and ridiculous, for it is impossible to represent
all the passions in a single figure. It does not seem, however, that
Parrhasius usually introduced many figures into his compositions. Pliny
mentions as among his principal works, a Theseus; a Telephus; an
Achilles; an Agamemnon; an Æneas; two famous pictures of Hoplites, or
heavily armed warriors, one in action, the other in repose; a Naval
Commander in his armor; Ulysses feigning insanity; Castor and Pollux;
Bacchus and Virtue; a Cretan nurse with an Infant in her arms; and many
others, apparently composed of one, two, or at most three figures.

Parrhasius was equally celebrated for his small, or cabinet pictures of
libidinous subjects; hence he was called the _Pornograph_. His famous
picture of Archigallus, the priest of Cybele, mentioned by Pliny, is
supposed to have been of this description. Also the Meleager and
Atalanta mentioned by Suetonius. This picture was bequeathed to
Tiberius, on the condition that if he were offended with the subject, he
should receive in its stead one million sesterces (about forty thousand
dollars). The Emperor not only preferred the picture, but had it hung up
in his own chamber, where the Archigallus, valued at six hundred
thousand sesterces, was also preserved.


Seneca relates that Parrhasius, when about to paint a picture of
Prometheus Chained, crucified an old Olynthian captive, to serve as a
model, that he might be able to portray correctly the agonies of
Prometheus while the Vulture preyed upon his vitals. This story is
doubtless a fiction, as it is found nowhere but in the Controversies.
Olynthus was taken by Philip of Macedon, B. C. 347, about forty years
subsequent to the latest accounts of Parrhasius.


This great artist was well aware of his powers, but the applause which
he received, added to a naturally vain and conceited disposition, so
completely carried him away, that Pliny terms him “the most insolent and
the most arrogant of artists.” He assumed the title of _The Elegant_,
styled himself the _Prince of Painters_, wrote an epigram upon himself,
in which he proclaimed his birth, and declared that he had carried the
art to perfection. He clothed himself in purple, and wore a wreath of
gold on his head; and when he appeared on public occasions, particularly
at the Olympic games, he changed his robes several times a day. He went
so far as to pretend that he was descended from Apollo, one of whose
surnames was _Parrhasius_, and even to dedicate his own portrait as
Mercury in a temple, and thus received the adoration of the multitude.


About B. C. 550, there died at Corinth a marriageable virgin; and her
nurse, according to the custom of the times, placed on her tomb a
basket containing those viands most agreeable to her when alive,
covering them with a tile, for better preservation. This basket was
unintentionally placed over the root of an acanthus, the spring leaves
and stems of which growing up, covered it in so elegant a manner as to
attract the notice of Callimachus, who, struck with the idea and novelty
of the figure, modelled from it the Corinthian capital, thus giving a
remarkable proof of the intimate connection between Art, and Nature--the
source of all true art--and producing that exquisitely graceful design
which for twenty-four centuries has charmed the civilized world.


Pliny relates a pleasing and highly poetic anecdote of the invention of
sculpture. Dibutades, the fair daughter of a celebrated potter of
Sicyon, contrived a private meeting with her lover, on the eve of a long
separation. After a repetition of vows of constancy, and a stay
prolonged to a very late hour, the youth fell fast asleep. The fair
nymph, whose imagination was on the alert, observing that her admirer’s
profile was strongly reflected on the wall by the light of a lamp,
eagerly snatched up a piece of charcoal, and, inspired by love, traced
the outline, that she might have the image of her lover before her
during his absence. Her father, when he chanced to see the sketch,
struck with its correctness, determined to preserve it, if possible, as
a memento of such a remarkable circumstance. With this view, he formed a
kind of clay model from it, and baked it; which, being the first essay
of the kind, was preserved in the public repository of Corinth, even to
the fatal day of its destruction by that enemy to the arts, Mummius


Praxiteles, one of the most eminent Grecian sculptors, was cotemporary
with Euphranor, and flourished, according to Pliny, in the one hundred
and fourth Olympiad, or B. C. 360. The place of his birth is not
mentioned. He lived in the period immediately subsequent to the age of
Phidias, but his genius took a different course from that style of
elevation and sublimity which distinguishes the Æschylus of Sculpture.
Praxiteles was the founder of a new school. His style was eminently
distinguished for softness, delicacy, and high finish; and he was fond
of representing whatsoever in nature appeared gentle, tender, and
lovely. Consequently his favorite subjects were the soft and delicate
forms of females and children, rather than the masculine forms of
athletes, warriors, and heroes.


The peculiar abilities of Praxiteles were admirably displayed in the
Venus of Cnidus, which, with the exception of the Olympian Jupiter of
Phidias, has received higher and more unqualified eulogiums from ancient
writers, than any other work of Grecian art. These two great artists may
therefore be considered as standing at the head of their respective
schools; Praxiteles, the delicate and beautiful--Phidias, the grand and


Praxiteles was eminent for his works, both in bronze and marble, but he
seems to have had the highest reputation for his skill in the latter.
Among those in bronze, Pliny and Pausanias mention a statue of Bacchus;
and one of a Satyr so excellent, that it was called _Periboetos_, or the
Celebrated. He also made a statue of Venus; a statue of a Matron
weeping; and one of a Courtesan laughing, believed to be a portrait of
the celebrated Thespian courtesan, Phryne. His Apollo Sauroctonos (or
the Lizard Killer), was the finest of his works in bronze, and was
greatly distinguished for purity of style, and graceful beauty of form.
In the Vatican there is a well-authenticated marble copy of this work,
which is justly considered one of the greatest treasures of that
storehouse of art. Among the works in marble by Praxiteles, the famous
Venus of Cnidus takes the preëminence.


Praxiteles executed two statues of Venus--the one draped, and the other
naked. The people of Coös chose the former, as the most delicate; but
the Cnidians immediately purchased the latter. This work is mentioned by
Lucian as the masterpiece of Praxiteles; and it is also the subject of
numerous epigrams in the Greek Anthology. Its fame was so great that
travelers visited Cnidus on purpose to see it. The original work was
destroyed at Constantinople, in the fifth century, in the dreadful fire
which consumed so many of the admirable monuments of art, collected in
that city.


Pausanias relates that the beautiful Phryne, whose influence over
Praxiteles seems to have been considerable, was anxious to possess a
work from his chisel, and when desired to choose for herself, not
knowing which of his exquisite works to select, devised the following
expedient. She commanded a servant to hasten to him, and tell him that
his workshop was in flames, and that with few exceptions, his works had
already perished. Praxiteles, not doubting the truth of the
announcement, rushed out in the greatest anxiety and alarm, exclaiming,
“all is lost, if my _Satyr and Cupid_ are not saved!” The object of
Phryne was answered--she confessed her stratagem, and chose the Cupid.

Pliny mentions two figures of Cupids as among the finest works of
Praxiteles, one of which he ranks on an equality with the Venus of
Cnidus. It was made of Parian marble. There is an exquisite antique
Cupid in the Vatican, supposed to be a copy of the Cupid of Phryne.


According to Lucian, Nicomedes, King of Bithynia, was so captivated with
the Venus of Cnidus, that he offered to pay a debt of the city,
amounting to one hundred talents, (about one hundred thousand dollars)
on condition of their giving up to him this celebrated statue; but the
citizens, to their honor, refused to part with it on any terms,
regarding it as the principal glory of the state.


Phidias, the most renowned sculptor of antiquity, was born about B. C.
490. Quintilian calls him “the Sculptor of the Gods,” and others, “the
Æschylus of Sculpture,” from the character of grandeur and sublimity in
his works. The times in which he lived were peculiarly favorable to the
development of his genius. He was employed upon great public works
during the administration of Cimon, and subsequently, when Pericles
attained the height of his power, Phidias seems to have been consulted
in regard to the conduct of all the works in sculpture, as well as
architecture. Plutarch says, “It was Phidias who had the direction of
these works, although great architects and skillful sculptors were
employed in erecting them.” Among the most remarkable objects upon which
his talents were exercised, the Parthenon, or Temple of Minerva, claims
preëminence. It was built by Callicrates and Ictinus, under the
superintendence of Phidias. Within the temple, Phidias executed his
celebrated statue, in gold and ivory, of Minerva, represented standing
erect, holding in one hand a spear, and in the other a statue of
Victory. The helmet was highly decorated, and surmounted by a sphinx;
the naked parts were of ivory; the eyes of precious stones; and the
drapery throughout was of gold. It is said there were forty talents
weight of this metal used in the statue. The people, being desirous of
having all the glory of the work, prohibited Phidias from inscribing his
name upon it; but he contrived to introduce his own portrait as an old
bald-headed man throwing a stone, in the representation of the combat
between the Athenians and Amazons, which decorated the shield. A
likeness of Pericles was also introduced in the same composition. The
exterior of the Parthenon was enriched with admirable sculptures, many
of which were from the hand of Phidias, and all of them executed under
his direction. A portion of these, termed the Elgin marbles, from their
having been taken to England by the Earl of Elgin, are now in the
British Museum. They have been highly commended by the most excellent
judges; and the eminent sculptor Canova, after visiting London, declared
that “he should have been well repaid for his journey to England, had
he seen nothing but the Elgin marbles.”


The comprehensive character of the genius of this preëminent sculptor,
is well attested by his contest with Alcamenes. It was intended to place
a statue of Minerva on a column of great height in the city of Athens;
and both these artists were employed to produce images for the purpose,
which were to be chosen by the citizens. When the statues were
completed, the universal preference was given to the work of Alcamenes,
which appeared elegantly finished, while that of Phidias appeared rude
and sketchy, with coarse and ill-proportioned features. However, at the
request of Phidias, the statues were successively exhibited on the
elevation for which they were intended, when all the minute beauties of
his rival’s work completely disappeared, together with the seeming
defects of his own; and the latter, though previously despised, seemed
perfect in its proportions, and was surveyed with wonder and delight.


The enemies of Pericles, with the view of implicating that statesman,
accused Phidias of having misapplied part of the gold entrusted to him
for the statue of Minerva, and desired that he should be brought to
trial. The sculptor, however, by the prudent advice of Pericles, had
executed the work in such a manner that the gold might easily be
removed, and it was ordered by Pericles to be carefully weighed before
the people. As might have been expected, this test was not required, and
the malicious accusation was overthrown. They then declared the sculptor
guilty of sacrilege in placing his own portrait upon the shield of
Minerva; and some writers state that he was thrown into prison; others,
that he was banished.


Phidias fled from Athens to Elis, where he was employed to execute a
costly statue of the Olympian Jupiter, for the temple in Altis. This
statue was the most renowned of all the works of Phidias. It was of
colossal dimensions, being sixty feet in height; and seated on a throne;
the head was crowned with olive; the right hand held a small statue of
Victory, in gold and ivory; the left hand grasped a golden sceptre of
exquisite workmanship, surmounted by an eagle; the sandals and mantle
were also of the same material, the latter sculptured with every
description of flowers and animals; the pedestal was also of gold,
ornamented with a number of deities in bas-relief. In the front of the
throne was a representation of the Sphynx carrying off the Theban
youths; beneath these, the Fate of Niobe and her Children; and, on the
pedestal joining the feet, the Contest of Hercules with the Amazons,
embracing twenty-nine figures, among which was one intended to
represent Theseus. On the hinder feet of the throne were four Victories,
as treading in the dance. On the back of the throne, above the head of
the god, were figures of the Hours and Graces; on the seat, Theseus
warring with the Amazons, and Lions of gold. Its base, which was of
gold, represented various groups of Divinities, among which were Jupiter
and Juno, with the Graces leading on Mercury and Vesta; Cupid receiving
Venus from the Sea; Apollo with Diana; Minerva with Hercules; and, below
these, Neptune, and the Moon in her Chariot. On the base of the statue,
was the inscription, _Phidias, the son of Charmidas, made
me_.--Quintilian observes that this unparalleled work even added new
feelings to the religion of Greece. It was without a rival in ancient
times, all writers speaking of it as a production that none would even
dare to imitate. There is a tradition connected with this celebrated
work. Phidias, after the completion of his design, is said to have
prayed Jupiter to favor him with some intimation of his approbation,
whereupon a flash of lightning darted into the temple, and struck the
pavement before him. This was hailed as a proof of divine favor, and a
brazen urn or vase was placed upon the spot, which Pausanias mentions as
existing in his time.


Phidias, being asked how he could conceive that air of divinity which he
had expressed in the face of the Olympian Jupiter, replied that he had
copied it from Homer’s celebrated description of him. All the personal
strokes in that description relate to the hair, the eye-brows, and the
beard: and indeed to these it is that the best heads of Jupiter owe most
of their dignity; for though we have now a mean opinion of beards, yet
all over the east a full beard carries the idea of majesty along with
it; and the Grecians had a share of this Oriental notion, as may be seen
in their busts of Jupiter, and the heads of kings on Greek medals. But
the Romans, though they held beards in great esteem, even as far down as
the sacking of Rome by the Goths, yet in their better ages held them in
contempt, and spoke disrespectfully of their bearded forefathers. They
were worn only by poor philosophers, and by those who were under
disgrace or misfortune. For this reason Virgil, in copying Homer’s
striking description of Jupiter, has omitted all the picturesque strokes
on the beard, hair, and eye-brows; for which Macrobius censures him, and
Scaliger extols him. The matter might have been compounded between them,
by allowing that Virgil’s description was the most proper for the
Romans, and Homer’s the noblest among the Greeks.


Apollodorus, one of the most famous of the ancient Greek painters, was
born at Athens B. C. 440. Pliny commences his history of Greek painting
with this artist, terming him “the first luminary of the art.” He also
says of him, “I may well and truly say that none before him brought the
pencil into a glorious name and especial credit.” The two most famous
works of Apollodorus, were, a Priest in the act of Devotion, and Ajax
Oileus Wrecked, both remarkable, not only in coloring and chiaro-scuro,
but in invention and composition. These paintings were preserved at
Pergamos in the time of Pliny, six hundred years after they were
executed. Apollodorus was the first who attained the perfect imitation
of the effects of light and shadow invariably seen in nature. If we may
depend upon the criticisms of ancient writers, the works of this master
were not inferior in this respect to those of the most distinguished
moderns. His pictures riveted the eye, not merely from their general
coloring, but also from a powerful and peculiar effect of light and
shade, on which account he was called “the Shadower.”


This great architect, who flourished about A. D. 100, was born at
Damascus. By his great genius he acquired the favor of the emperor
Trajan, for whom he executed many works. He built the great Square of
Trajan, to effect which, he leveled a hill, one hundred and forty-four
feet high; in the centre he raised the famous column, of the same height
as the hill that had been removed, which commemorated the victories of
Trajan, and served as a monument to that victorious Emperor. Around the
Square, he erected the most beautiful assemblage of buildings then known
in the world, among which was the triumphal arch commemorative of
Trajan’s victories. The marble pavements of this Square are fifteen feet
below the streets of modern Rome. Apollodorus also erected a college, a
theatre appropriated to music, the Basilica Nepia, a celebrated library,
the Baths of Trajan, aqueducts, and other important works at Rome. His
most famous work was a stone bridge over the Danube, in Lower Hungary,
near Zeverino. It was one mile and a half long, three hundred feet high,
forty feet wide, and was built upon twenty piers and twenty-two arches.
Its extremities were defended by two fortresses. Trajan had it
constructed to facilitate the passage of his troops, but his successor
dismantled it, fearing that the barbarians would use it _against the


This column is one of the most celebrated monuments of antiquity. Its
height, including the pedestal and statue, is one hundred and forty-four
English feet. It was erected in the centre of the forum of Trajan, and
was dedicated to that emperor by the senate and people of Rome in
commemoration of his decisive victory over the Dacians. It is of the
Doric order, and its shaft is constructed of thirty-four pieces of Greek
marble, hollowed out in the centre for the stairs, and joined together
with cramps of bronze. For elegance of proportion, beauty of style, and
for simplicity and dexterity of sculpture, it is accounted the finest
column in the world. The sculptures on the pedestal are master-pieces of
Roman art. The shaft is embellished with bassi-rilievi, representing the
expedition of Trajan against the Dacians, which run spirally,
twenty-three times around the column, and which gradually increase in
size, so that those at the top appear to the spectator, to be of the
same size as those at the bottom. A spiral stair-case, of one hundred
and eighty-five steps, runs up the interior, and receives light from
sixty-three openings in the shaft. A gold medal, struck in commemoration
of the completion of the column, shows that it was formerly surmounted
by a statue of Trajan, holding in one hand a sceptre, and in the other a
globe, in which were deposited the ashes of that prince. Pope Sixtus V.
placed a statue of St. Peter, by the Cavaliere Fontana, in the place of
that of Trajan, which had been destroyed some centuries before. A
greater absurdity than placing the statue of a peaceful apostle over the
sculptured representation of the Dacian war, can scarcely be conceived.


Apollodorus fell a victim to the envy of Adrian, the successor of
Trajan, who himself dabbled in architecture, as well as the other arts.
According to Pliny, he ridiculed the proportions of the temple of Rome
and Venus, which had been built from Adrian’s designs, saying that “if
the goddesses who were placed in it should be disposed to stand up, they
would be in danger of breaking their heads against the roof, or if they
should wish to go out, they could not,” which so incensed the Emperor,
that he banished the architect, and had him put to death. Another
account is, that as Trajan was conversing about some of the buildings,
Adrian, who was present, made some remarks, on which the architect said,
“Go and paint pumpkins, for you know nothing about these matters,” an
affront which Adrian never forgot, and avenged by the death of the
architect when he became Emperor. What a return to the architect of
Trajan’s Column!


The talents of this eccentric genius were preëminent in burlesque and
satire. He therefore chiefly devoted himself to delineate the calamities
and crimes of private life, and the vices and follies of the age. He
portrayed vice as leading to disgrace and misery, while he represented
virtue as conducting to happiness and honor. His series of the “Harlot’s
Progress,” the “Rake’s Progress,” “Marriage à la Mode,” gained him great
reputation; and the prints which he engraved and published from them,
although rude specimens of the art, met with an enormous sale, greatly
to his own emolument. Lord Orford characterizes him as a painter of
comedy. “If catching the manners and follies of the age, ‘living as they
rise’; if general satire on vices and ridicules, familiarized by strokes
of nature, and heightened by wit, and the whole animated by just and
proper expressions of the persons, be comedy, Hogarth composed comedy as
much as Moliere.” Others have better characterized him as a great moral
preacher. Alderman Boydell was accustomed to say that every merchant,
shopkeeper, mechanic, and others who had youth in their employment,
ought to have some of Hogarth’s prints framed and hung up for their


Hogarth was apprenticed, at an early age, to an engraver of arms on
plate. While thus engaged, his inclination for painting was manifested
in a remarkable manner. Going out one day with some companions on an
excursion to Highgate, the weather being very hot, they entered a public
house, where before long a quarrel occurred. One of the disputants
struck the other on the head with a quart pot, which cut him severely;
and the blood running down the man’s face, gave him a singular
appearance, which, with the contortions of his countenance, presented
Hogarth with a laughable subject. Taking out his pencil, he sketched the
scene in such a truthful and ludicrous manner, that order and good
feeling were at once restored.


Hogarth, in his early career, was once greatly distressed to raise the
paltry sum of twenty shillings, to satisfy his landlady, who endeavored
to enforce payment. To be revenged on her, he painted her an ugly and
malicious hag, her features so truthfully drawn, that every person who
had seen her at once recognized the individual. Woe betided the man who
incurred his ire; he crucified him without mercy. In his controversy
with Wilkes, he caricatured him in his print of “The Times;” and
Churchill, the poet, he represented as a canonical bear, with a ragged
staff, and a pot of porter.


It was Hogarth’s custom to sketch on the spot any remarkable face that
struck him. A gentleman being once with him at the Bedford Coffee House,
observing him to draw something on his thumb nail, inquired what he was
doing, when he was shown the likeness of a comical looking person
sitting in the company.


Hogarth married the only daughter of Sir James Thornhill, who was
dissatisfied with the match. Soon after this period, he began his
Harlot’s Progress, and was advised by Lady Thornhill to place some of
the prints in the way of his father-in-law. Accordingly, early one
morning, Mrs. Hogarth conveyed several of them into the dining room,
when Sir James inquired whence they came? Being told, he said, “Very
well, very well: the man who can produce representations like these, can
also maintain a wife without a portion.” He soon after became both
reconciled and generous to the young couple.

The “Harlot’s Progress” was the first work which rendered the genius of
Hogarth conspicuously known. Above twelve hundred names were entered in
his subscription book. It was dramatized, and represented on the stage.
Fans were likewise embellished with miniature representations of all the
six plates.


A nobleman, not remarkable for personal beauty, once sat to Hogarth for
his portrait, which the artist executed in his happiest manner, but with
rigid fidelity. The peer, disgusted at this exact counterpart of his
dear self, did not feel disposed to pay for the picture. After some time
had elapsed, and numerous unsuccessful attempts had been made to obtain
payment, the painter resorted to an expedient which he knew must alarm
the nobleman’s pride. He sent him the following card:--

“Mr. Hogarth’s dutiful respects to Lord ----. Finding he does not mean to
have the picture drawn for him, Lord ---- is informed again of Mr.
Hogarth’s pressing necessity for money. If, therefore, his Lordship
does not send for it in three days, it will be disposed of, with the
addition of a tail and some other appendages, to Mr. Pau, the famous
wild beast man; Mr. H. having given that gentleman a conditional promise
of it for an exhibition picture, on his Lordship’s refusal.” This
intimation had the desired effect; the picture was paid for, and
committed to the flames.


Hogarth was once applied to, by a certain nobleman, to paint on his
staircase a representation of the Destruction of Pharaoh’s host in the
Red Sea. In attempting to fix upon the price, Hogarth became disgusted
with the miserly conduct of his patron, who was unwilling to give more
than half the real value of the picture. At last, out of all patience,
he agreed to his terms. In two or three days the picture was ready. The
nobleman, surprised at such expedition, immediately called to examine
it, and found the space painted all over red.

“Zounds!” said the purchaser, “what have you here? I ordered a scene of
the Red Sea.”

“The Red Sea you have,” said the painter.

“But where are the Israelites?”

“They are all gone over.”

“And where are the Egyptians?”

“They are all drowned.”

The miser’s confusion could only be equalled by the haste with which he
paid his bill. The biter was bit.


Hogarth treated those who sat for their portraits with a courtesy which
is not always practiced, even now, in England. “When I sat to Hogarth,”
says Mr. Cole, “the custom of giving vails to servants was not
discontinued. On taking leave of the painter at the door, I offered his
servant a small gratuity; but the man politely refused it, telling me it
would be as much as the loss of his place if his master knew it. This
was so uncommon and so liberal in a man of Hogarth’s profession, at that
time, that it much struck me, as nothing of the kind had happened to me
before.” Nor is it likely that such a thing would happen again: Sir
Joshua Reynolds gave his servant six pounds annually as wages, and
offered him one hundred pounds a year for the door.


Hogarth was one of the most absent minded of men. Soon after he set up
his carriage, he had occasion to pay a visit to the Lord Mayor. When he
went, the weather was fine; but he was detained by business till a
violent shower of rain came on. Being let out of the mansion house by a
different door from the one at which he had entered, he immediately
began to call for a hackney coach. Not being able to procure one, he
braved the storm, and actually reached his house in Leicester Fields,
without bestowing a thought on his carriage, till his wife, astonished
to see him so wet, asked him where he had left it.


Hogarth disposed of this celebrated picture by lottery. There were
eighteen hundred and forty-three chances subscribed for; he gave the
remaining one hundred and sixty-seven tickets to the Foundling Hospital,
and the same night delivered the picture to the governors.


Hogarth dedicated his picture of the March to Finchley to George II. The
following dialogue is said to have ensued, on this occasion, between the
sovereign and the nobleman in waiting:

“Pray, who is this Hogarth?”

“A painter, my liege.”

“I hate painting, and poetry too; neither the one nor the other ever did
any good.”

“The picture, please your majesty, must undoubtedly be considered as a

“What! burlesque a soldier? He deserves to be picketed for his
insolence. Take his trumpery out of my sight.”


Hogarth supported himself by the sale of his prints: the prices of his
pictures kept pace neither with his fame nor with his expectations. He
knew, however, the passion of his countrymen for novelty--how they love
to encourage whatever is strange and mysterious; and hoping to profit by
these feelings, the artist determined to sell his principal paintings by
an auction of a very singular nature.

On the 25th of January, 1745, he offered for sale the six paintings of
the Harlot’s Progress, the eight paintings of the Rake’s Progress, the
Four Times of the Day, and the Strolling Actresses, on the following

“1. Every bidder shall have an entire leaf numbered in the book of sale,
on the top of which will be entered his name and place of abode, the sum
paid by him, the time when, and for what picture.

2. That on the day of sale, a clock, striking every five minutes, shall
be placed in the room; and when it has struck five minutes after twelve,
the first picture mentioned in the sale book shall be deemed as sold;
the second picture when the clock has struck the next five minutes after
twelve; and so on in succession, till the whole nineteen pictures are

3. That none advance anything short of gold at each bidding.

4. No person to bid on the last day, except those whose names were
before entered on the book. As Mr. Hogarth’s room is but small, he begs
the favor that no person, except those whose names are entered on the
book, will come to view his paintings on the last day of sale.”

This plan was new, startling, and unproductive. It was probably planned
to prevent biddings by proxy, and so secure to the artist the price
which men of wealth and rank might be induced to offer publicly for
works of genius. “A method so novel,” observes Ireland, “probably
disgusted the town; they might not exactly understand this tedious
formula of entering their names and places of abode in a book open to
indiscriminate inspection; they might wish to humble an artist who, by
his proposals, seemed to consider that he did the world a favor in
suffering them to bid for his works; or the rage for paintings might be
confined to the admirers of the old masters.” Be that as it may, he
received only four hundred and twenty-seven pounds seven shillings for
his nineteen pictures--a price by no means equal to their merit.

The prints of the Harlot’s Progress had sold much better than those of
the Rake’s; yet the paintings of the former produced only fourteen
guineas each, while those of the latter were sold for twenty-two. That
admirable picture, Morning, brought twenty guineas; and Night, in every
respect inferior to almost any of his works, six and twenty. Such was
the reward, then, to which these patrons of genius thought his works
entitled. More has since been given, over and over again, for a single
painting, than Hogarth obtained for all his paintings put together.


A short time before Hogarth was seized with the malady which deprived
society of one of its brightest ornaments, he proposed to his matchless
pencil the work he has entitled the _Tail Piece_. The first idea of this
picture is said to have been started in company, while the convivial
glass was circulating round his own table. “My next undertaking,” said
Hogarth, “shall be the _end of all things_.” “If that is the case,”
replied one of his friends, “your business will be finished, or there
will be an end to the painter.” “The fact will be so,” answered Hogarth,
sighing heavily, “and therefore the sooner my work is done, the better.”
Accordingly he began the next day, and continued his design with a
diligence that seemed to indicate an apprehension that he should not
live to complete it. This however he did, and in the most ingenious
manner, by grouping everything that could denote the end of all things:
a broken bottle; an old broom worn to the stump; the butt-end of an old
musket; a cracked bell; a bow unstrung; a crown tumbled to pieces;
towers in ruins; the sign-post of a tavern called the World’s End
falling down; the moon in her wane; the map of the globe burning; a
gibbet falling, the body gone, and the chains which held it dropping
down; Phœbus and his horses lying dead in the clouds; a vessel wrecked;
Time, with his hour-glass and scythe broken; a tobacco-pipe, with the
last whiff of smoke going out; a play-book opened, with _exeunt omnes_
stamped in the corner; an empty purse; and a statute of bankruptcy taken
out against Nature. “So far so good,” said Hogarth, on reviewing his
performance; “nothing remains but this;” taking his pencil, and
sketching the resemblance of a painter’s palette broken. “Finis!” he
then exclaimed, “the deed is done; all is over.” It is a very remarkable
fact, and not generally known, that Hogarth never again took the palette
in his hand, and that he died in about a month after he had finished
this _Tail Piece_.


This great painter was born at Paris in 1750. His countrymen have
conferred upon him the distinguished title of _The Head and Restorer of
the French School_, which he brought back from its previous gaudy and
affected style, to the study of nature and the antique. His reputation
was established as the first painter in France when the French
Revolution broke out, and filled with an ardent love of liberty, he lent
all his powers in overturning the government, and establishing the
Republic. For this purpose, in 1789, he executed his Brutus condemning
his sons to death. He also executed the designs for the numerous
republican monuments and festivals of the time. He was chosen a deputy
to the National Convention, and voted for the king’s death. During the
Reign of Terror, he was one of the most zealous Jacobins, wholly devoted
to Robespierre; and on the fall of that monster, he was thrown into
prison, and his great reputation as a painter alone saved him from the
guillotine. At length, disgusted with the excesses and revolting scenes
transpiring on all sides, and seeing no hopes of the Republic being
established on a permanent basis, he retired to private life, and
devoted himself exclusively to his pencil. When Napoleon came into
power, perceiving the advantage of employing such a painter as David to
immortalize his glorious victories on canvass, he appointed him his
chief painter, showed him every mark of his favor, and endeavored to
engage him to paint the successes of the French armies. But these
subjects were not congenial to his taste, which ran to the antique. “I
wish,” said he, “that my works may have so completely an antique
character, that if it were possible for an Athenian to return to life,
they might appear to him to be the productions of a Greek painter.” He
however painted several portraits of the Emperor and the members of the
Imperial family, and other subjects, the chief of which were, Napoleon
as First Consul crossing the Alps, and pointing out to his troops the
path to glory, and the Coronation of Napoleon.

On the restoration of the Bourbons, David was included in the decree
which banished all the regicides forever from France, when he retired to
Brussels, where he continued to practice his profession till his death
in 1825.


The largest picture ever known to have been executed, prior to this
production, is the celebrated Marriage at Cana by Paul Veronese, now at
the Louvre; being thirty-three feet long, and eighteen high: whereas the
present composition, containing two hundred and ten personages, eighty
of whom are whole lengths, is thirty-three feet long, and twenty-one
high. This performance occupied four years in its completion, during
which many impediments were thrown in the way of the artist’s labor, by
the clergy on the one hand, and the orders of the Emperor on the other.
Cardinal Caprara, for instance, who is represented bareheaded, producing
one of the finest heads in the picture, was very desirous of being
painted with the decoration of his wig; Napoleon had also ordered the
Turkish ambassador to be exhibited in company with the other envoys; but
he objected, because the law of the Koran forbids to Mahometans the
entrance into a Christian church. His consent, however, was at length
obtained, and these scruples removed, under the consideration that, in
the character of an ambassador, he belonged to no religious sect.

During the execution of this colossal picture, M. David was incessantly
interrupted by applications from artists to witness the progress of his
work; amongst whom was Camucini, prince of the Roman school, and the
late famous statuary Canova, who daily presented themselves at the
artist’s painting gallery. At the last visit made by Camucini, he found
David surrounded by many of his pupils, and on taking leave of the
painter, he bowed to him in the most respectful manner, using the
following expressive words on the occasion:

    “Adio il piu bravo pittore di scholari ben bravi.”

On Canova’s return to Italy, in order to fulfil what he conceived to be
a duty in regard to this artist, he proposed to the Academy of Saint
Luke, that he should be received as an honorary member; when the
academicians set aside their usual forms, and in honor of M. David,
unanimously elected him one of their body, Canova being chosen to
announce this pleasing intelligence to their new associate.

The picture was completed in 1807, and prior to its public exposition
Napoleon appointed a day to inspect it in person, which was the fourth
of January, 1808; upon which occasion, in order to confer a greater
honor upon the artist, he went in state, attended by a detachment of
horse and a military band, accompanied by the Empress Josephine, the
princes and princesses of his family, and followed by his ministers and
the great officers of the crown.

Several criticisms had been previously passed upon the composition,
which had gained the Emperor’s ear, and in particular, that it was not
the coronation of Napoleon, but of his consort; the moment selected by
the painter, however, was highly approved by his master, who, after an
attentive examination of the work, expressed himself in these words.

“M. David, this is well; very well indeed; you have conceived my whole
idea; the Empress, my mother, the Emperor, all, are most appropriately
placed, you have made me a French knight, and I am gratified that you
have thus transmitted to future ages the proofs of affection I was
desirous of testifying towards the Empress.” After a silence of some
seconds, Napoleon’s hat being on, and Josephine standing at his right
hand, with M. David on his left, the Emperor advanced two steps, and
turning to the painter, uncovered himself, making a profound obeisance
while uttering these words in an elevated tone of voice, “_Monsieur
David, I salute you!_”

“Sire,” replied the painter, “I receive the compliment of the Emperor,
in the name of all the artists of the empire, happy in being the
individual one, you deign to make the channel of such an honor.”

In the month of October, 1808, when this performance was removed to the
museum, the Emperor wished to inspect it a second time; and M. David in
consequence attended in the hall of the Louvre, surrounded by his
pupils; upon which occasion, at the Emperor’s desire, having pointed out
the most conspicuous _éleves_, who received the decorations of the
Legion of Honor: “It is requisite,” said Napoleon, “that I should
testify my satisfaction to the master of so many distinguished artists;
therefore, I promote you to be an officer of the Legion of Honor: M.
Duroc, give a golden decoration to M. David!” “Sire, I have none with
me,” answered the grand marshal. “No matter,” replied the Emperor, “do
not let this day transpire without executing my order.” Duroc, although
no friend to the painter, was obliged to obey, and on the same evening
the insignia were forwarded to M. David.

The King of Wurtemberg, at the suggestion of the Emperor, also waited
upon the artist to inspect his labor, who, on contemplating the
performance, and in particular, the luminous brightness spread over the
group in which are the pope and Cardinal Caprara, his majesty thus
expressed himself: “I did not believe that your art could effect such
wonders; white and black in painting afford but very weak resources.
When you produced this you had, no doubt, a sunbeam upon your pencil.”

This compliment, which displayed great knowledge of the art, surprised
the painter, who, after offering his thanks, added: “Sire, your
conception, and the mode in which you express it, bespeak either the
practical artist or the well informed amateur. Your majesty has
doubtless learned to paint.”--“Yes,” said the king, “I sometimes occupy
myself with the art, and all my brothers possess a similar taste; that
one in particular, who frequently visits you, has acquired some
celebrity; for his performances are not like the generality of royal
paintings, they are worthy of the artist. M. David” added the monarch,
“I dare not hope to obtain a copy of this picture; but you may indemnify
me by placing my name at the head of the subscribers to the engraving,
pray do not forget me.”

The personages represented in this picture are as follow: the Emperor;
the Empress Josephine; the Pope; Cambaceres, Duke of Parma,
arch-chancellor; the Duke of Plaisance, arch-treasurer; Mareschal
Berthier, Prince of Wagram; M. Talleyrand, Prince of Benevento, grand
chamberlain to the emperor; Prince Eugene Beauharnais, viceroy of the
kingdom of Lombardy; Caulaincourt, Duke of Vicenza, grand écuyer;
Mareschal Bernadotte, Prince of Ponte Corvo, and afterwards King of
Sweden; Cardinal Pacca, councillor of the pope; Cardinal Fesch, the
uncle of Napoleon; Cardinal Caprara, then the Pope’s legate at the court
of France; the Count D’Harville, senator and governor of the palace of
the Tuileries; Esteve, grand treasurer of the crown; Mareschal Prince
Murat, afterwards King of Naples; Mareschal Serrurier, governor of the
royal Hotel of Invalids; Mareschal Moncey, Duke of Cornegliane,
inspector-general of the gendarmerie; Mareschal Bessierre, Duke of
Treviso, general of the imperial guard; Compte Segur, grand master of
the Ceremonies; the beautiful and heroic Madame Lavalette, and the
Countess of La Rochefoucault, ladies of honor to the empress; Cardinal
du Belloy, archbishop of Paris; Maria Annunciade Carolina, wife of
Murat; Maria Paulina, wife of Prince Borghese, Duke of Guastalla; and
Maria Anna Elisa, Duchess of Tuscany, and Princess of Lucca and
Piombino;--the three sisters of Napoleon; Hortense Eugenia Beauharnais,
daughter of Josephine, and wife of Louis Napoleon, King of Holland,
together with her son Louis Napoleon; Maria Julia Clary, wife of Joseph
Napoleon; Junot, Duke of Abrantes, colonel-general of hussars; Louis
Napoleon, grand constable; Joseph Napoleon, grand electeur, King of
Spain, afterwards a citizen of the United States; Mareschal Le Febvre,
Duke of Dantzic; Mareschal Perignon, governor of Naples; Counts de Very,
de Longis, D’Arjuzen, Nansouty, Forbin, Beausset, and Detemaud, all
filling distinguished posts; Duroc, Duke of Frioul, grand mareschal of
the palace; Counts de Jaucourt, Brigade, de Boudy, and de Laville; the
Baron Beaumont; the Duke of Cossé Brissac; Madame, mother of the
emperor; Count Beaumont; Countess Fontanges; Madame la Mareschal Soult;
the Duke of Gravina, ambassador from Spain; Count Marescalchi, minister
of the kingdom of Lombardy; Count Cobenzel, Austrian ambassador; the
Turkish envoy; Mr. Armstrong, ambassador from the United States; the
Marquis of Luchesini, Prussian envoy; M. and Madame David; and the
senator Vien, master of the artist; of whom the emperor said, when
viewing the picture, “I perceive the likeness of the good M. Vien.”
Whereto the painter replied, “I was desirous to testify my gratitude to
my master, by placing him in a picture, which from its subject will be
the most important of my labors.” There were, besides, the poet Lebrun;
Gretry the musician; Monges, member of the Institute; Count D’Aubusson
de la Feuillade; chamberlain, etc., etc.

The Bourbons, upon their restoration, unmindful of the arts, and
actuated by a mean spirit of vengeance, ordered this chef d’œuvre of
David to be destroyed, which was accordingly done!! When Napoleon
returned to Paris, the existing government, conceiving it important that
the picture should be replaced, requested David to repaint his former
picture, which he felt great repugnance to do, regarding it as not
within the province of real genius to repaint former productions. He
was, however, prevailed upon to acquiesce, and the government agreed to
pay the same price that he had received for the original, 100,000
francs. Upon Napoleon’s second abdication, the Emperor Alexander, aware
of the history of the performance, made overtures to become possessed of
it, after David had completed it at Brussels; but, though his offers
were munificent, the painter refused to part with it, and left it to his
son, who subsequently exhibited it in London.


During David’s exile at Brussels, the Duke of Wellington called on him,
and said, “Monsieur David, I have called to have my portrait taken by
the illustrious painter of Leonidas at Thermopylæ.” David, eyeing
fiercely the man who had humbled his country, and dethroned her Emperor,
replied, “Sir, I cannot paint the English.”


David introduced the Cardinal Caprara, as the Pope’s legate, into the
picture of the Coronation of Napoleon, without his wig. The likeness was
exact, and the Cardinal remonstrated with David on the omission,
desiring him to supply it. The painter replied that he never had, and
never would paint a wig. The Cardinal then applied to the Minister of
Foreign Affairs, and represented that as no pope had hitherto worn a
wig, it might seem as if he (Caprara) had purposely left his own off, to
show his pretensions to the tiara. David however stood firm as a rock,
even before Talleyrand, and said, “his Eminence may think himself lucky
that nothing but his wig has been taken off.”


David, then advanced in years, severely felt his exile at Brussels. He
lived very retired, saw little company, and seldom went abroad. It is
related that Talma, during a professional engagement at Brussels, got up
the tragedy of Leonidas, expressly to gratify his old friend, and
invited him to the theatre to see the performance. David consented to
go, but told Talma he must pardon him if he should happen to _nod_. As
soon as David was recognized in the theatre, the whole house rose _en
masse_, and gave three hearty cheers for the illustrious exile, which so
affected him that he burst into tears. When the performance commenced,
so far from giving way to sleep, he became completely absorbed in the
interest of the play, and when the curtain dropped, he exclaimed,
“Heavens! how glorious it is to possess such a talent.”


There have been found occasionally some artists, who could so perfectly
imitate the spirit, the taste, the character, and the peculiarities of
great masters, that they have not unfrequently deceived the most
skillful connoisseurs.

An anecdote of Pierre Mignard is singular. This great artist painted a
Magdalen on a canvass fabricated at Rome. A broker in concert with him,
went to the Chevalier de Clairville, and told him as a secret, that he
was to receive from Italy a Magdalen of Guido, and one of his
masterpieces. The Chevalier caught the bait, begged the preference, and
purchased the picture at a very high price. Some time afterwards, he was
informed that he had been imposed upon, for that the Magdalen was
painted by Mignard. Although Mignard himself caused the alarm to be
given, the amateur would not believe it; all the connoisseurs agreed it
was a Guido, and the famous Le Brun corroborated this opinion. The
Chevalier came to Mignard; “There are,” said he, “some persons who
assure me that my Magdalen is your work.” “Mine!” replied Mignard; “they
do me great honor. I am sure that Le Brun is not of that opinion.” “Le
Brun swears it can be no other than a Guido,” said the Chevalier; “you
shall dine with me, and meet several of the first connoisseurs.” On the
day of meeting, the picture was more closely inspected than ever.
Mignard hinted his doubts whether the piece was the work by Guido; he
insinuated that it was possible to be deceived, and added that, if it
was Guido’s, he did not think it in his best manner. “I am perfectly
convinced that it is a Guido, sir, and in his very best manner,” replied
Le Brun, with warmth; and all the critics unanimously agreed with him.
Mignard then said, in a firm tone of voice, “And I, gentlemen, will
wager three hundred louis that it is not a Guido.” The dispute now
became violent--Le Brun was desirous of accepting the wager. In a word,
the affair became such as could add nothing more to the glory of
Mignard. “No, sir,” replied the latter; “I am too honest to bet, when I
am certain to win. Monsieur le Chevalier, this piece cost you two
thousand crowns; the money must be returned--the painting is by my
hand.” Le Brun would not believe it. “The proof,” continued Mignard, “is
easy; on this canvass, which is a Roman one, was the portrait of a
Cardinal; I will show you his cap.”

The Chevalier did not know which of the rival artists to believe; the
proposition alarmed him. “He who painted the picture shall mend it,”
said Mignard; and taking a pencil dipped in spirits, and rubbing the
hair of the Magdalen, he soon discovered the cap of the Cardinal. The
honor of the ingenious painter could no longer be disputed.


This eminent painter was born at Plympton, in Devonshire, in 1723. He
was the son of the Rev. Samuel Reynolds, who intended him for the
medical profession; but his natural taste and genius for painting,
induced his father to send him to London to study painting under Hudson,
when he was seventeen years of age. In 1749, he accompanied Captain,
afterwards Lord Keppel to the Mediterranean, and passed about three
years in Italy. On his return to England, he established himself in
London, where he soon acquired a distinguished reputation, and rose to
be esteemed the head of the English school of painting. At the formation
of the Royal Academy in 1768, he was elected president, and received the
honor of knighthood. In 1781 he visited Holland and the Netherlands to
examine the productions of the Dutch and Flemish masters, by which he is
said to have improved his coloring. In 1784, on the death of Ramsay, he
was appointed principal painter to the King. He died in 1792, and his
remains were deposited in the crypt of St. Paul’s cathedral, near the
tomb of Sir Christopher Wren. He formed a splendid collection of works
of art, which, after his death, brought at public sale about £17,000;
and the whole of his property amounted to about £80,000, the bulk of
which he left to his niece, who married Lord Inchiquin, afterwards
Marquis of Thomond. He never married, but his sister Frances Reynolds
conducted his domestic affairs. He was fond of the society of literary
men, kept open house, and seldom dined without his table being graced by
the presence of some of the chosen spirits of the land. He was simple
and unostentatious in his habits, and affable in his deportment; and
while his table was abundantly supplied, there was an absence of all
ceremony, and each guest was made to feel himself perfectly at home,
which gave a delightful zest to his hospitality.


Soon after Reynolds’ return to England from Italy, in 1752, he commenced
his professional career in St. Martin’s Lane, London. He found such
opposition as genius is commonly doomed to encounter, and does not
always overcome. The boldness of his attempts, and the brilliancy of his
coloring, were considered innovations upon the established and orthodox
system of portrait manufacture, in the styles of Lely and Kneller. The
old artists first raised their voices. His old master Hudson called at
his rooms to see his Turkish Boy, which had caused quite a sensation in
the town. After contemplating the picture some minutes, he said with a
national oath,--“Why, Reynolds, you do not paint as well as you did when
you left England.” Ellis, an eminent portrait maker, who had studied
under Kneller, next lifted up his voice. “Ah, Reynolds,” said he, “this
will never answer, you do not paint in the least like Sir Godfrey.” When
the young artist vindicated himself with much ability, Ellis, finding
himself unable to give any good reasons for the objections he had made,
cried out in a rage, “Shakspeare in poetry, and Kneller in painting for
me,” and stalked out of the room. Reynolds’ new style, notwithstanding
the vigorous opposition he met with, took with the fashionable world,
his fame spread far and wide, and he soon became the leading painter in
London. In 1754, he removed from St. Martin’s Lane, the Grub-street of
artists, and took a handsome house on the north side of Great
Newport-Street, which he furnished with elegance and taste. Northcote
says his apartments were filled with ladies of quality and with men of
rank, all alike desirous to have their persons preserved to posterity by
one who touched no subject without adorning it. “The desire to
perpetuate the form of self-complacency, crowded the sitting room of
Reynolds with women who wished to be transmitted as angels, and with men
who wished to appear as heroes and philosophers. From his pencil they
were sure to be gratified. The force and facility of his portraits, not
only drew around him the opulence and beauty of the nation, but happily
gained him the merited honor of perpetuating the features of all the
eminent and distinguished men of learning then living.”


“The price,” says Cunningham, “which Reynolds at first received for a
_head_ was five guineas; the rate increased with his fame, and in the
year 1755 his charge was twelve. Experience about this time dictated the
following memorandum respecting his art. ‘For painting the
flesh:--black, blue-black, white, lake, carmine, orpiment, yellow-ochre,
ultramarine, and varnish. To lay the palette:--first lay, carmine and
white in different degrees; second lay, orpiment and white ditto; third
lay, blue-black and white ditto. The first sitting, for expedition, make
a mixture as like the sitter’s complexion as you can.’ Some years
afterwards I find, by a casual notice from Johnson, that Reynolds had
raised his price for a head to twenty guineas.

“The year 1758 was perhaps the most lucrative of his professional
career. The account of the economy of his studies, and the distribution
of his time at this period, is curious and instructive. It was his
practice to keep all the prints engraved from his portraits, together
with his sketches, in a large portfolio; these he submitted to his
sitters; and whatever position they selected, he immediately proceeded
to copy it on the canvass, and paint the likeness to correspond. He
received six sitters daily, who appeared in their turns; and he kept
regular lists of those who sat, and of those who were waiting until a
finished portrait should open a vacancy for their admission. He painted
them as they stood on his list, and often sent the work home before the
colors were dry. Of lounging visitors he had a great abhorrence, and, as
he reckoned up the fruits of his labors, ‘Those idle people,’ said this
disciple of the grand historical school of Raphael and Angelo, ‘those
idle people do not consider that my time is worth five guineas an hour.’
This calculation incidentally informs us, that it was Reynolds’
practice, in the height of his reputation and success, to paint a
portrait in four hours.”


Reynolds’ commissions continued to increase, and to pour in so
abundantly, that in addition to his pupils, he found it necessary to
employ several subordinate artists, skillful in painting drapery and
backgrounds, as assistants. He also raised his price to twenty-five
guineas a head.

“In the year 1761,” says Cunningham, “the accumulating thousands which
Johnson speaks of, began to have a visible effect on Reynolds’
establishment. He quitted Newport Street, purchased a fine house on the
west side of Leicester Square, furnished it with much taste, added a
splendid gallery for the exhibition of his works, and an elegant
dining-room; and finally taxed his invention and his purse in the
production of a carriage, with wheels carved and gilt, and bearing on
its pannels the Four Seasons of the year. Those who flocked to see his
new gallery, were sometimes curious enough to desire a sight of this gay
carriage, and the coachman, imitating the lackey who showed the gallery,
earned a little money by opening the coach-house doors. His sister
complained that it was too showy--‘What!’ said the painter, ‘would you
have one like an apothecary’s carriage?’

“By what course of study he attained his skill in art, Reynolds has not
condescended to tell us; but of many minor matters we are informed by
one of his pupils, with all the scrupulosity of biography. His study was
octagonal, some twenty feet long, sixteen broad, and about fifteen feet
high. The window was small and square, and the sill nine feet from the
floor. His sitter’s chair moved on castors, and stood above the floor a
foot and a half; he held his palettes by a handle, and the sticks of his
brushes were eighteen inches long. He wrought standing, and with great
celerity. He rose early, breakfasted at nine, entered his study at ten,
examined designs or touched unfinished portraits till eleven brought a
sitter; painted till four; then dressed, and gave the evening to

“His table was now elegantly furnished, and round it men of genius were
often found. He was a lover of poetry and poets; they sometimes read
their productions at his house, and were rewarded by his approbation,
and occasionally by their portraits. Johnson was a frequent and a
welcome guest: though the sage was not seldom sarcastic and overbearing,
he was endured and caressed, because he poured out the riches of his
conversation more lavishly than Reynolds did his wines. Percy was there
too with his ancient ballads and his old English lore; and Goldsmith
with his latent genius, infantine vivacity, and plum-colored coat. Burke
and his brothers were constant guests, and Garrick was seldom absent,
for he loved to be where greater men were. It was honorable to this
distinguished artist that he perceived the worth of such men, and felt
the honor which their society shed upon him; but it stopped not here--he
often aided them with his purse, nor insisted upon repayment.”


“The Royal Academy,” says Cunningham, “was planned and proposed in 1768
by Chambers, West, Cotes, and Moser; the caution or timidity of Reynolds
kept him for some time from assisting. A list of thirty members was made
out; and West, a prudent and amiable man, called on Reynolds, and, in a
conference of two hours’ continuance, succeeded in persuading him to
join them. He ordered his carriage, and, accompanied by West, entered
the room where his brother artists were assembled. They rose up to a
man, and saluted him ‘President.’ He was affected by the compliment, but
declined the honor till he had talked with Johnson and Burke; he went,
consulted his friends, and having considered the consequences carefully,
then consented. He expressed his belief at the same time that their
scheme was a mere delusion: the King, he said, would not patronize nor
even acknowledge them, as his majesty was well known to be the friend of
another body--The Incorporated Society of Artists.”

The truth is, the Royal Academy was planned at the suggestion of the
King himself. He had learned, through West, the causes of the indecent
bickerings in the Society of Artists, and declared to him that he was
ready to patronize any institution founded on principles calculated to
advance the interests of art. West communicated the King’s declaration
to some of the dissenters, who drew up a plan which the king corrected
with his own hand. See Spooner’s Dictionary of Painters, Engravers,
Sculptors, and Architects, article West.


In the year 1754, Reynolds accidentally made the acquaintance of Dr.
Samuel Johnson, which ripened into a mutual and warm friendship, that
continued through life. Of the fruit which he derived from this
intercourse, Reynolds thus speaks, in one of his Discourses on Art:

“Whatever merit these Discourses may have, must be imputed in a great
measure to the education which I may be said to have had under Dr.
Johnson. I do not mean to say, though it certainly would be to the
credit of these Discourses if I could say it with truth, that he
contributed even a single sentiment to them; but he qualified my mind to
think justly. No man had, like him, the art of teaching inferior minds
the art of thinking. Perhaps other men might have equal knowledge, but
few were so communicative. His great pleasure was to talk to those who
looked up to him. It was here he exhibited his wonderful powers. The
observations which he made on poetry, on life, and on everything about
us, I applied to one art--with what success, others must judge.”


In 1764, Reynolds was attacked by a sudden and dangerous illness. He was
cheered by the sympathy of many friends, and by the solicitude of
Johnson, who thus wrote him from Northamptonshire:

“I did not hear of your sickness till I heard likewise of your recovery,
and therefore escaped that part of your pain which every man must feel
to whom you are known as you are known to me. If the amusement of my
company can exhilarate the languor of a slow recovery, I will not delay
a day to come to you; for I know not how I can so effectually promote my
own pleasure as by pleasing you, or my own interest as by preserving
you; in whom, if I should lose you, I should lose almost the only man
whom I can call a friend.” He to whom Johnson could thus write, must
have possessed many noble qualities, for no one could estimate human
nature more truly than that illustrious man.


Johnson showed his kindly feelings for Sir Joshua Reynolds, by writing
the following apology for portrait painting. Had the same friendship
induced him to compliment West, he doubtless would have written in a
very different strain:

“Genius,” said he, “is chiefly exerted in historical pictures, and the
art of the painter of portraits is often lost in the obscurity of the
subject. But it is in painting as in life; what is greatest is not
always best. I should grieve to see Reynolds transfer to heroes and
goddesses, to empty splendor and to airy fiction, that art which is now
employed in diffusing friendship, in renewing tenderness, in quickening
the affections of the absent, and continuing the presence of the dead.
Every man is always present to himself, and has, therefore, little need
of his own resemblance; nor can desire it, but for the sake of those
whom he loves, and by whom he hopes to be remembered. This use of the
art is a natural and reasonable consequence of affection: and though,
like all other human actions, it is often complicated with pride, yet
even such pride is more laudable than that by which palaces are covered
with pictures, which however excellent, neither imply the owner’s
virtue, nor excite it.”


The Literary Club was founded by Dr. Johnson in 1764, and among many men
of eminence and talent, it numbered Reynolds. His modesty would not
permit him to assume to himself the distinction which literature
bestows, but his friends knew too well the value of his presence, to
lose it by a fastidious observance of the title of the club. Poets,
painters, and sculptors are all brothers; and had Reynolds been less
eminent in art, his sound sense, varied information, and pleasing
manners would have made him an acceptable companion in the most
intellectual society.


In 1775, Sir Joshua Reynolds painted his famous portrait of Dr. Johnson,
in which he represented him as reading, and near-sighted. This latter
circumstance was very displeasing to the “Giant of Literature,” who
reproved Reynolds, saying, “It is not friendly to hand down to posterity
the imperfections of any man.” But Reynolds, on the contrary, considered
it a natural peculiarity which gave additional value to the portrait.
Johnson complained of the caricature to Mrs. Thrale, who to console him,
said that he would not be known to posterity by his defects only, and
that Reynolds had painted for her his own portrait, with the
ear-trumpet. He replied, “He may paint himself as deaf as he chooses,
but he shall not paint me as _blinking Sam_.”


“Amidst the applause,” says Cunningham, “which these works obtained for
him, the President met with a loss which the world could not
repair--Samuel Johnson died on the 13th of December, 1784, full of years
and honors. A long, a warm, and a beneficial friendship had subsisted
between them. The house and the purse of Reynolds were ever open to
Johnson, and the word and the pen of Johnson were equally ready for
Reynolds. It was pleasing to contemplate this affectionate brotherhood,
and it was sorrowful to see it dissevered. ‘I have three requests to
make,’ said Johnson, the day before his death, ‘and I beg that you will
attend to them, Sir Joshua. Forgive me thirty pounds, which I borrowed
from you--read the Scriptures--and abstain from using your pencil on the
Sabbath-day.’ Reynolds promised, and--what is better--remembered his


We hear much about “poetic inspiration,” and the “poet’s eye in a fine
frenzy rolling.” Reynolds use to tell an anecdote of goldsmith
calculated to abate our notions about the ardor of composition.

Calling upon the poet one day, he opened the door without ceremony, and
found him engaged in the double occupation of tuning a couplet and
teaching a pet dog to sit upon its haunches. At one time he would glance
at his desk, and at another shake his finger at the dog to make him
retain his position. The last lines on the page were still wet; they
form a part of the description of Italy:

    “By sports like these are all their cares beguiled;
     The sports of children satisfy the child.”

Goldsmith, with his usual good humor, joined in the laugh caused by his
whimsical employment, and acknowledged that his boyish sport with the
dog suggested the stanza.


When Dr. Goldsmith published his Deserted Village, he dedicated it to
Sir Joshua Reynolds, in the following kind and touching manner. “The
only dedication I ever made was to my brother, because I loved him
better than most other men; he is since dead. Permit me to inscribe this
poem to you.”


At a festive meeting, where Johnson, Reynolds, Burke, Garrick, Douglas,
and Goldsmith, were conspicuous, the idea of composing a set of
extempore epitaphs on one another was started. Garrick offended
Goldsmith so much by two very indifferent lines of waggery, that the
latter avenged himself by composing the celebrated poem Retaliation, in
which he exhibits the characters of his companions with great liveliness
and talent. The lines have a melancholy interest, from being the last
the author wrote. The character of Sir Joshua Reynolds is drawn with
discrimination and judgment--a little flattered, resembling his own
portraits, in which the features are a little softened, and the
expression a little elevated.

    “Here Reynolds is laid, and, to tell you my mind,
     He has not left a wiser or better behind;
     His pencil was striking, resistless, and grand;
     His manners were gentle, complying, and bland;
     Still born to improve us in every part,
     His pencil our faces, his manners our heart.”


Reynolds was a great admirer of Pope. A fan which the poet presented to
Martha Blount, and on which he had painted with his own hand the story
of Cephalus and Procris, with the motto “Aura Veni,” was to be sold at
auction. Reynolds sent a messenger to bid for it as far as thirty
guineas, but it was knocked down for two pounds. “See,” said the
president to his pupils, who gathered around him, “the painting of
Pope;--this must always be the case, when the work is taken up for
idleness, and is laid aside when it ceases to amuse; it is like the
work of one who paints only for amusement. Those who are resolved to
excel, must go to their work, willing or unwilling, morning, noon, and
night; they will find it to be no play, but very hard labor.”


This excellent painter, in his boyhood, showed his natural taste for
painting, by copying the various prints that fell in his way. His
father, a clergyman, thought this an idle passion, which ought not to be
encouraged; he esteemed one of these youthful performances worthy of his
endorsement, and he wrote underneath it, “Done by Joshua out of pure
idleness.” The drawing is still preserved in the family.

Dr. Johnson says that Sir Joshua Reynolds had his first fondness of the
art excited by the perusal of Richardson’s Treatise on Painting.


Portraits in the time of Hudson, the master of Reynolds, were usually
painted in one attitude--one hand in the waistcoat, and the hat under
the arm. A gentleman whose portrait young Reynolds painted, desired to
have his hat on his head. The picture was quickly despatched and sent
home, when it was discovered that it had two hats, one on the head, and
another under the arm!


“What do you ask for this sketch?” said Reynolds to a dealer in old
pictures and prints, as he was looking over his portfolio. The shrewd
tradesman, observing from his manner that he had found a gem, quickly
replied, “Twenty guineas, your honor.” “Twenty pence, I suppose you
mean.” “No, sir; it is true I would have sold it for twenty pence this
morning; but if you think it worth having, all the world will think it
worth buying.” Sir Joshua gave him his price. It was an exquisite
drawing by Rubens.


Sir Joshua Reynolds, like many other distinguished artists, was never
satisfied with his works, and endeavored to practice his maxim, that “an
artist should endeavor to improve over his every performance.” When an
eminent French painter was one day praising the excellence of one of his
pictures, he said, “_Ah! Monsieur, Je ne fais que des ebauches, des
ebauches._”--Alas! sir, I can only make sketches, sketches.


Sir Joshua Reynolds has been charged by his enemies with avarice; but
there are many instances recorded which show that he possessed a noble
and generous heart.

When Gainsborough charged him but sixty guineas for his celebrated
picture of the Girl and Pigs, Reynolds, conscious that it was worth much
more, gave him one hundred. Hearing that a worthy artist with a large
family was in distress, and threatened with arrest, he paid him a visit,
and learning that the extent of his debts was but forty pounds, he shook
him warmly by the hand as he took his leave, and the artist was
astonished to find in his fingers a bank-note of one hundred pounds.
When Dayes, an artist of merit, showed him his drawings of a Royal
pageant at St. Paul’s, Reynolds complimented him, and said that he had
bestowed so much labor upon them that he could not be remunerated by
selling them, but told him that if he would publish them he would loan
him the necessary funds, and engage to get him a handsome subscription
among the nobility.


Reynolds was an ardent lover of his profession, and ever as ready to
defend it when assailed, as to add to its honors by his pencil. When Dr.
Tucker, the famous Dean of Gloucester, in his discourse before the
Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce,
asserted that “a pin-maker was a more valuable member of society than
Raffaelle,” Reynolds was greatly nettled, and said, with some asperity,
“This is an observation of a very narrow mind; a mind that is confined
to the mere object of commerce--that sees with a microscopic eye, but a
part of the great machine of the economy of life, and thinks that small
part which he sees to be the whole. Commerce is the means, not the end
of happiness or pleasure; the end is a rational enjoyment by means of
arts and sciences. It is therefore the highest degree of folly to set
the means in a higher rank of esteem than the end. It is as much as to
say that the brick-maker is superior to the architect.” He might have
added that the artisan is indebted to the artist for the design of every
beautiful fabric, therefore the artist is a more “valuable member of
society” than the manufacturer or the merchant.


When Sir Joshua Reynolds made his first tour to Flanders and Holland, he
was struck with the brilliancy of coloring which appeared in the works
of Rubens, and on his return he said that his own works were deficient
in force, in comparison with what he had seen. “On his return from his
second tour,” says Sir George Beaumont, “he observed to me that the
pictures of Rubens appeared much less brilliant than they had done on
the former inspection. He could not for some time account for this
circumstance; but when he recollected that when he first saw them he had
his note-book in his hand, for the purpose of writing down short
remarks, he perceived what had occasioned their now making a less
impression than they had done formerly. By the eye passing immediately
from the white paper to the picture, the colors derived uncommon
richness and warmth; but for want of this foil they afterwards appeared
comparatively cold.”


When Haydn, the eminent composer, was in England, one of the princes
commissioned Reynolds to paint his portrait. Haydn sat twice, but he
soon grew tired, and Reynolds finding he could make nothing out of his
“stupid countenance,” communicated the circumstance to his royal
highness, who contrived the following stratagem to rouse him. He sent to
the painter’s house a beautiful German girl, in the service of the
queen. Haydn took his seat, for the third time, and as soon as the
conversation began to flag, a curtain rose, and the fair German
addressed him in his native language with a most elegant compliment.
Haydn, delighted, overwhelmed the enchantress with questions; and
Reynolds, rapidly transferring to the canvass his features thus lit up,
produced an admirable likeness.


Sir Joshua Reynolds relates the following anecdote, in his “Journey to
Flanders and Holland.” He stopped at Mechlin to see the celebrated
altar-piece by Rubens in the cathedral, representing the Last Supper.
After describing the picture, he proceeds:--

“There is a circumstance belonging to the altar-piece, which may be
worth relating, as it shows Rubens’ manner of proceeding in large works.
The person who bespoke this picture, a citizen of Mechlin, desired, to
avoid the danger of carriage, that it might be painted at Mechlin; to
this the painter easily consented, as it was very near his country-seat
at Steen. Rubens, having finished his sketch in colors, gave it as usual
to one of his scholars, (Van Egmont) and sent him to Mechlin to
dead-color from it the great picture. The gentleman, seeing this
proceeding, complained that he bespoke a picture of the hand of the
master, not of the scholar, and stopped the pupil in his progress.
However, Rubens satisfied him that this was always his method of
proceeding, and that this piece would be as completely his work as if he
had done the whole from the beginning. The citizen was satisfied, and
Rubens proceeded with the picture, which appears to me to have no
indications of neglect in any part; on the contrary, I think it _has
been_ one of his best pictures, though those who know this circumstance
pretend to see Van Egmont’s inferior genius transpire through Rubens’


When he painted the portrait of Mrs. Siddons as the Tragic Muse, he
wrought his name on the border of her robe. The great actress,
conceiving it to be a piece of classic embroidery, went near to examine
it, and seeing the words, smiled. The artist bowed, and said, “I could
not lose this opportunity of sending my name to posterity on the hem of
your garment.”


Sir Joshua Reynolds, in his letter to Barry, observes, “Whoever has
great views, I would recommend to him, whilst at Rome, rather to live on
bread and water, than lose advantages which he can never hope to enjoy a
second time, and which he will find only in the Vatican.”


When Sir Joshua was elected mayor of Plympton, his native town, he
painted an admirable portrait of himself and presented it to the mayor
and corporation, and it now hangs in the town-hall. When he sent the
picture, he wrote to his friend Sir Wm. Elford, requesting him to put it
in a good light, which he did, and to set it off he placed by its side,
what he considered to be a bad picture. When Sir William communicated to
Reynolds what he had done in order that the excellence of his picture
might have a more striking effect, the latter wrote his worthy friend
that he was greatly obliged to him for his pains, but that the portrait
he so much despised was painted by himself in early life.


In the year 1770, a boy named Buckingham, presuming upon his father’s
acquaintance with Sir Joshua Reynolds, called on the president, and
asked him if he would have the kindness to paint him a flag to carry in
the procession of the next breaking up of the school. Reynolds, whose
every hour was worth guineas, smiled, and told the lad to call again at
a certain time, and he would see what could be done for him. The boy
accordingly called at the set time, and was presented with an elegant
flag a yard square, decorated with the King’s coat of arms. The flag was
triumphantly carried in procession, an honor as well as a delight to the
boys, and a still greater honor to him who painted it, and gave his
valuable time to promote their holiday amusements.


Burke, in his eulogy on Reynolds, says, “In full affluence of foreign
and domestic fame, admired by the expert in art and by the learned in
science, courted by the great, caressed by sovereign powers, and
celebrated by distinguished poets, his native humility, modesty, and
candor never forsook him, even on surprise or provocation: nor was the
least degree of arrogance or assumption visible to the most scrutinizing
eye in any part of his conduct or discourse.”


He was fond of seeking into the secrets of the old painters; and
_dissected_ some of their performances, to ascertain their mode of
laying on color and finishing with effect. Titian he conceived to be the
great master spirit in portraiture; and no enthusiastic ever sought more
incessantly for the secret of the philosopher’s stone than did Reynolds
to possess himself of the whole theory and practice of the Venetian. “To
possess,” said he, “a real fine picture by that great master--I would
sell all my gallery--I would willingly ruin myself.” The capital old
paintings of the Venetian school destroyed by Sir Joshua’s _dissections_
were not few; and his experiments of this kind can only properly be
likened to that of the boy who cut open the bellows to get at the wind!
He was ignorant of chemistry, so much so that he sometimes employed
mineral colors that reacted in a short time; and also vegetable colors;
and he mixed with these various vehicles, as megilips and different
kinds of varnishes or glazes, so that he had the misfortune of seeing
some of his finest works change and lose all their harmony, or become
cracked with unsightly seams. He kept his system of coloring a profound
secret. He lived to regret these experiments, and would never permit his
pupils to practice them. His method has been largely imitated, not only
in England, but in the United States, greatly to the injury of many
fine works and the reputation of the artist. The only true method for
excellence and permanence in coloring, is that employed by the great
Italian masters, viz: to use well prepared and seasoned canvass; then to
lay on a good heavy body-color; to employ only the best mineral colors,
which will not chemically react, giving the colors time to harden after
laying on each successive coat; and above all, to use no varnishes in
the process, nor after the completion of the work, till it is
sufficiently hardened by age.


A strong and enthusiastic feeling of a religious character has often
inspired the Fine Arts: we owe to such sentiments the finest and purest
productions of modern painting. Progress in art, however, implies the
study of nature; the study of nature and the exhibition of its results
have continually shocked the rigid asceticism of a severe morality--a
morality which makes indecency depend on the simple fact of exposure,
not on the feeling in which the work is conceived. Scrupulous persons
often appear unconscious that in this, as in other things, it is easy to
observe the letter, and to violate the spirit. A picture or statue may
be perfectly decent, so far as regards drapery, and yet suggest thoughts
and ideas far more objectionable than those resulting from the
contemplation of figures wholly unclothed. Still, it must be admitted
that such a jealousy of the fine arts might reasonably exist in Italy
at the end of the 15th, and the beginning of the 16th centuries, in the
days of Alexander VI., Julius II., and Leo X.; when all the abominations
of heathenism prevailed at Rome in practice, and when Christianity can
hardly be said to have existed more than in theory. It would have been
strange, amidst such universal depravity, that Art should escape
unsullied by the general pollution. Still, it was against the _abuses_
of art that the efforts of the Catholic church under Paul IV. were
directed; and while those efforts gave a somewhat different character to
the subjects and to their treatment in later schools, they cannot be
said to have acted on either Painting or Sculpture with any _repressive_

But in Spain the case was wholly different. There was no transient
insurrection of a purer morality against the vicious extravagancies of a
particular period, but a constant and uniform pressure exerted without
intermission on all the means of developing and cultivating the human
mind, or of imparting its sentiments to others. Painting and Sculpture
came in for their share of restriction, and the nature of the discipline
to which they were subjected may be gathered from the work of Pacheco,
(_Arte de la Pintura_) who was appointed in 1618, by a particular
commission from the Inquisition, “to denounce the errors committed in
pictures of sacred subjects through the ignorance or wickedness of
artists.” He was commissioned to “take particular care to visit and
inspect the paintings of sacred subjects which may stand in the public
places of Seville, and if anything objectionable appeared in them, to
take them before the Inquisition.” His rules, therefore, may properly be
received as a fair exponent of the strictures placed upon Art by the
Inquisition. In his work upon the Art of Painting, Pacheco censures the
nudity of the figures in Michael Angelo’s Last Judgment, as well as
other things. Thus he says: “As to placing the damned in the air,
fighting as they are one with another, and pulling against the devils,
when it is matter of faith that they must want the free gifts of glory,
and cannot, therefore, possess the requisite lightness or agility--the
impropriety of this mode of exhibiting them is self-evident. With
regard, again, to the angels without wings and the saints without
clothes, although the former do not possess the one and the latter will
not have the other, yet, as angels without wings are unknown to us, and
our eyes do not allow us to see the saints without clothes, as we shall
hereafter--there can be no doubt, that this again is improper. It is
moreover, highly indecent and improper, having regard to their nature,
to paint angels with beards.”

On the general question of how an artist is to acquire sufficient skill
in the figure, without exposing himself to risks which the Inspector of
the Inquisition is bound to deprecate, Pacheco is somewhat embarrassed.
“I seem,” he says, “to hear some one asking me, ‘Senor Painter,
scrupulous as you are, whilst you place before us the ancient artists
as examples, who contemplated the figures of naked women in order to
imitate them perfectly, and whilst you charge us to paint as well, what
resource do you afford us?’ I would answer, ‘Senor Licentiate, this is
what I would do; I would paint the faces and hands from nature, with the
requisite beauty and variety, after women of good character; in which,
in my opinion, there is no danger. With regard to the other parts, I
would avail myself of good pictures, engravings, drawings, models,
ancient and modern statues, and the excellent designs of Albert Durer,
so that I might choose what was most graceful and best composed without
running into danger.’” So it appears that they might profit by the works
of other sinners, without incurring the same danger.

Notwithstanding this advice, as the Inquisition always persecuted
nudity, Spain was deficient in models from the antique; wherefore
Velasquez, the head of the Spanish school, never designed an exquisite
figure; and the collection of models and casts which he made in Italy,
late in life, was allowed to go to destruction after his death!

In discussing the proper mode of painting the Nativity of Christ,
Pacheco says he is always much affected at seeing the infant Jesus
represented naked in the arms of his mother! The impropriety of this, he
urges, is shown by the consideration that “St. Joseph had an office,
and it was not possible that poverty could have obliged him to forego
those comforts for his child, which scarcely the meanest beggars are
without.” Another fertile subject of dispute among the Spanish artists
and theologians, was the number of nails used in the Crucifixion, some
arguing for three, and some for four, and drawing their proofs on either
side from the vision of some saint!

The precepts as to the proper modes of painting the Virgin, are
innumerable. The greatest caution against any approach to nudity is of
course requisite. Nay, Pacheco says, “What can be more foreign from the
respect which we owe to the purity of Our Lady the Virgin, than to paint
her sitting down, with one of her knees placed over the other, and often
with her sacred feet uncovered and naked?” We scarcely ever, therefore,
see the feet of the Virgin in Spanish pictures. Carducho speaks more
particularly on the impropriety of painting the Virgin unshod, since it
is manifest that she was in the habit of wearing shoes, as is proved by
“the much venerated relic of one of them, from her divine feet, in the
Cathedral of Burgos!”

A painter had a penance inflicted on him at Cordova, for painting the
Virgin at the foot of the Cross in a hooped petticoat, pointed boddice,
and a saffron-colored head-dress; St. John had pantaloons, and a doublet
with points. This chastisement Pacheco considers richly deserved. Don
Luis Pasqual also erred greatly, in his Marriage of the Virgin,
representing her without any mantle, in a Venetian petticoat, fitting
very close in the waist, covered with knots of colored ribbon, and with
wide round sleeves,--“a dress,” adds Pacheco, “in my opinion highly
unbecoming the gravity and dignity of our Sovereign Lady.” Nor were
there wanting awful examples of warning to painters, as in the story
related by Martin de Roa, in his _State of Souls in Purgatory_. “A
painter,” so runs the legend, “had executed in youth, at the request of
a gentleman, an improper picture. After the painter’s death, this
picture was laid to his charge, and it was only by the intercession of
those Saints whom he had at various times painted, that he got off with
severe torments in Purgatory. Whilst there, however, he contrived to
appear to his confessor, and prevailed upon him to go to the gentleman
for whom this picture was painted, and entreat him to burn it. The
request was complied with, and the painter then got out of Purgatory!”

The author cannot close this too lengthy article without citing the Life
of the Virgin written by Maria de Agreda, whose absurd and blasphemous
vagaries were “swallowed whole” by the Spanish nation--an unanswerable
proof and a fitting result of the blight inflicted by Jesuitism and the
Inquisition. Bayle says, “the only wonder is, that the Sorbonne confined
itself to saying that her proposition was false, rash, and contrary to
the doctrines of the Gospel, when she taught that God gave the Virgin
all he could, and that he could give her all his own attributes, except
the essence of the Godhead.” The condemnation of Maria de Agreda’s Life
of the Virgin was not carried in the Sorbonne without the greatest
opposition and tumult. The book was censured at Rome, notwithstanding
all the efforts of the Spanish ambassador. The Spanish feeling, with
reference to the Virgin, and more particularly to the doctrine of the
Immaculate Conception, went far beyond the rest of Papal Europe; it was
impossible for the Pope and the French Church to sanction at once the
absurdities that Spain was quite ready to adopt. (See Sir Edmund Head’s
Hand-Book of the History of the Spanish and French Schools of Painting.)


A most interesting article on the present state of the fine arts in
Spain, may be found in the Appendix to Sir Edmund Head’s Hand-Book of
the History of the Spanish and French schools of Painting. On the 13th
of June, 1844, a Royal ordinance was issued, establishing a Central
Commission “de Monumentos Historicos y Artisticos del Reino,” with local
or provincial commissions, to act in concert with the former body. The
chief object of the Commission was, to report upon the condition of
works of art, antiquities, libraries, etc., contained in the numerous
convents and monasteries, which had been suppressed, and what measures
had been adopted for their preservation. The members of the Commission
were divided into three sections, one for libraries and archives,
another for painting and sculpture, and a third for architecture and

The first annual report of the Central Commission to the Secretary of
State for the Home Department is printed in pamphlet form, and embraces
the proceedings of the Commission from July 1st, 1844, to July 1st,

     “Nothing can be more melancholy than the picture of Spain drawn by
     this Commission. They tell us that the most valuable contents of
     the conventual libraries had been thrown away or mutilated, and
     that thousands of volumes had been sold as waste paper for three or
     four reals the arroba, and had been exported to enrich foreign
     libraries. A hope had been entertained of forming collections in
     each province, of pictures and other works of art; the Commission
     was soon undeceived as to the possibility of effecting this. Baron
     Taylor and a host of foreign dealers had in some provinces carried
     off all they could lay their hands upon; in others the
     Commissioners tell us, ‘Many of the most esteemed works of art, the
     glory and ornament of the most sumptuous churches, had perished in
     their application to the vilest uses; in others scarcely any record
     was preserved of what had been in existence at the time of the
     dissolution of the monasteries, and no inventory or catalogue of
     any kind had been made.’ Our only consolation perhaps is that these
     books and works of art will be better appreciated in other
     countries, and we may derive comfort from the views expressed by
     Madame Hahn-Hahn.[A]

     “It is clear that in such a state of things the plunder and
     destruction of pictures must have been enormous. In the summary of
     the proceedings of the Commission with reference to pictures,
     which I shall proceed to give, the reader will see that all sorts
     of obstacles to any claim of the central government were raised by
     the local authorities; such a course was sometimes no doubt the
     result of genuine Spanish obstinacy, strong in local attachments,
     and hating all interference; but it too often probably originated
     in the desire to conceal peculation and robbery on the part of the
     alcalde, or the parish priest, or the sacristan, or the porter of a
     suppressed convent. Let us remember that in all probability no one
     of these functionaries ever received the salary which was due to
     him, and that the unfortunate monks turned out of their convents
     had neither interest nor duty in protecting what had ceased to be
     theirs. If they did not (as it may be hoped) themselves carry off
     what they could, they would abandon it to the first plunderer.
     Added to which, the habitual feeling of every Spaniard is, that
     what belongs to the government is fair game, and may be stolen with
     a safe conscience.

     “When all this is considered, it will not appear surprising that
     bribery and robbery should have stripped the deserted convents, and
     scattered the memorials of Spanish art and literature. It is
     greatly to be feared too that the ignorance of the local
     commissioners will cause many an interesting picture of early date
     to be thrown on one side as barbarous and rude, and that few such
     valuable records as the altar of the time of Don Jayme el
     Conquistador, mentioned as rescued at Valencia, will be preserved
     at all; indifferent second-rate copies, or imitations of the
     Italian and Flemish masters, will probably pass current as the
     staple article in most of the provincial museums, even where such
     institutions are finally formed. At any rate, as a picture of the
     state of Spain with reference to the Fine Arts, and as a sort of
     guide to tourists, it may be useful to give, in alphabetical order,
     as they are enumerated in the report, an abstract of the general
     result as to the number of paintings got together in each

Here follows the result of the labors of the Commission in forty-eight
provinces, alphabetically arranged, presenting a sorry picture indeed.
Only a few of them can be given here, which may be taken as specimens of
the whole:

     “_Almeria._--Here the existence of any local collection was denied,
     but accidentally a catalogue was discovered containing a list of
     one hundred and ninety-six pictures, which had been got together in
     1837, and had apparently disappeared.

     “_Burgos._--The Commissioners say, ‘On seeing the small number of
     works of art in the province of Burgos, and after examining
     carefully the communication of the “Gefe Político,” dated in April,
     1844, together with the inventory which accompanied it, containing
     only sixty-nine pictures and thirteen coins, deposited in the
     Literary Institution of the capital of the province, we could not
     refrain from signifying our surprise at finding so poor a museum in
     a province which was at one time one of the richest in Spain in

     “_Cáceres._--Here again the Central Commission could get no account
     of the works of art which were known to have existed, more
     especially in the magnificent Hieronymite Monastery of Guadalupe,
     near Logrosan. The Provincial Commission, acting on the authority
     of that in Madrid, proceeded to ascertain what still remained
     within the walls of the convent, when they were resisted by the
     ‘_Ayuntamiento_’ of the town of Guadalupe, who pretended that all
     that was in the church and convent belonged to the parish, and not
     to the state.

     “_Cadiz._--Those who first collected the pictures took care to
     catalogue them without giving the subjects or the sizes, and mixed
     up together paintings and prints, so that it was impossible to say
     what had been stolen. The report goes on to say that the sale of
     certain pictures was not less irregular and culpable in itself,
     than the lawfulness of the manner in which the produce of the sale
     was applied appeared doubtful. The Local Commission of Arts and
     Sciences thought it prudent to abstain from criminal proceedings
     against any one; but the pictures yet remaining were in such a
     state of decay that to protect themselves they caused a _procès
     verbal_ to be drawn up, setting forth their condition.

     “_Cuenca._--All sorts of plunder had gone on here, as elsewhere,
     but the Local Commissioners seem to have exerted themselves to
     rescue and place in safety what could yet be secured. The head of
     the Priory of Santiago de Uclés resisted them. The number of
     pictures collected is not given.

     “_Gerona._--In August, 1842, the ‘Gefe Político’ reported the
     existence of certain pictures, as he said, of little merit; but,
     bad or good, they seem to have disappeared by 1845.

     “_Granada._--Here a museum was formed in 1839, and in 1842 a
     catalogue of eight hundred and eighty-four pieces of sculpture and
     painting was transmitted to the Secretary of State. By January,
     1844, it would appear that some, probably many, of them had been
     stolen, and the report does not tell us how many remained.

     “_Guadalajara._--It appears that out of four hundred and thirty
     pictures, a few only were considered to be originals of any value,
     and were attributed to Ribera, Zurbaran, Carreño, el Greco, and
     others, for the most part Spanish masters. Twenty-five were
     completely ruined.

     “_Guipuzcoa._--The civil war in this province has been the cause
     and the pretext for the disappearance of many works of art.
     ‘Since,’ says the report, ‘whilst many have been destroyed on the
     one hand, on the other the state of affairs has thrown a shield
     over those who have profited by the confusion, and have unjustly
     appropriated the property of the state.’

     “_Jaen._--The Local Commission of Jaen in the course of nine months
     got together five hundred and twenty-three pictures, of which they
     reported two hundred and eighty-five as worthless, and placed two
     hundred and thirty-eight in the old Jesuit convent. The names of
     Murillo, Zurbaran, Alonso Cano, Castillo, Orrente, Melgar, Juan de
     Sevilla, Guzman, Coello, Titian, el Greco, and Albano, appear in
     the catalogue.

     “_Leon._--‘The necessity,’ says the report, ‘of quartering troops
     in the various convents of this province, and the scandalous tricks
     which we know to have been played with the works of art in the
     same, are the causes why the catalogue, which was framed in
     September of last year, appeared so imperfect and so scanty, since
     the number of objects was reduced to sixty-one pictures and three
     pieces of sculpture, deposited in the convent of the so-called
     “Monjas Catalinas.”’ No more favorable account seems to have been
     received at the time the report was drawn up.

     “_Lérida._--Here too the civil war is said to have caused the
     disappearance of most of the pictures in the convents; only
     eighteen of any merit had been collected in April, 1844, but some
     more were known to exist in the Seo de Urgel, where the local
     authorities however refused to give them up to the government. The
     Commission had not been able to obtain an accurate account even of
     the eighteen.

     “_Malaga._--A miserable return of six pieces sculpture and four
     pictures was all that could be obtained by the Central Commission,
     and they attribute this result to ‘the natural indolence and purely
     mercantile spirit of that district.’ Probably the facility for
     exportation had a good deal to do with the disappearance of the
     various works of art which the report affirms to have been once
     collected and deposited in various public buildings.”


This great painter, justly esteemed the Head of the Spanish school, was
born at Seville in 1594. He pursued almost every branch of painting,
except the marine, and excelled almost equally in all.--Philip IV.
conferred on him extraordinary honors, appointed him his principal
painter, and ordained that none but the modern Apelles should paint his
likeness. When Rubens visited Madrid in 1627, to discharge the duties of
his embassy, he formed an intimate and lasting friendship with
Velasquez, which continued through life. “There is something in the
history of this painter,” says Mrs. Jameson, “which fills the
imagination like a gorgeous romance. In the very sound of his name, _Don
Diego Rodriguez Velasquez de Silva_--there is something mouth-filling
and magnificent. When we read of his fine chivalrous qualities, his
noble birth, his riches, his palaces, his orders of knighthood, and what
is most rare, the warm, real, steady friendship of a king, and added to
this a long life, crowned with genius, felicity, and fame, it seems
almost beyond the lot of humanity. I know of nothing to be compared with
it but the history of Rubens, his friend and cotemporary, whom he
resembled in character and fortune, and in that union of rare talents
with practical good sense which ensures success in life.” For a full
life of this painter, see Spooner’s Dictionary of Painters, Engravers,
Sculptors, and Architects.


Philip IV. relaxed the rigor of Spanish etiquette in favor of Velasquez,
as Charles V. had done with Titian. He had his studio in the royal
palace, and the King kept a private key, by means of which he had access
to it whenever he pleased. Almost every day Philip used to visit the
artist, and would sit and watch him while at work. When Velasquez
produced his celebrated picture of the Infanta Margarita surrounded by
her maids of honor, with a portrait of himself, standing near at his
easel, the King conferred upon him a very unusual honor. After the
picture had been greatly admired, Philip remarked, “There is one thing
wanting,” and taking the palette and pencils, he drew in with his own
hand upon the breast of Velasquez’s portrait, the much coveted Cross of
Santiago! The nobles resented this profanation of a decoration hitherto
only given to high birth; but all difficulties were removed by a _papal
dispensation and a grant of Hidalguia_. Velasquez’s portraits baffle
description or praise--they produce complete illusion, and must be seen
to be known. He depicted the _minds_ of men; they live, breathe, and
seem about to walk out of their frames. The freshness, individuality,
and identity of every person are quite startling; nor can we doubt the
anecdote related of Philip IV., who, mistaking for the original the
portrait of Admiral Pareja in a dark corner of Velasquez’s room,
exclaimed, as he had been ordered to sea, “What! still here? Did I not
send thee off? How is it that thou art not gone?” But seeing the figure
did not salute him, the King discovered his mistake. While Velasquez
sojourned in Rome, he painted the portrait of Innocent X., which is now
the gem of the Doria collection, and in which, says Lanzi, “he renewed
the wonders which are recounted of those of Leo X. by Raffaelle, and
Paul III. by Titian; for this picture so entirely deceived the eye as to
be taken for the Pope himself.”


Juan de Pareja was the slave of Don Diego Velasquez. Palomino and
others, say he was born in Mexico, of a Spanish father and an Indian
mother; but Bermudez says he was born at Seville. From being employed in
his master’s studio to attend on him, grind his colors, clean his
palette, brushes, &c., he imbibed a passion for painting, and sought
every opportunity to practice during his master’s absence. He spent
whole nights in drawing and endeavoring to imitate him, for he durst not
let him know of his aspiring dreams. At length he had made such
proficiency, that he resolved to lay his case before the King, Philip
IV., who was not only an excellent judge, but a true lover, of art. It
was the King’s custom to resort frequently to the apartments of
Velasquez, and to order those pictures which were placed with the
painted side to the wall, to be turned to his view. Pareja placed one of
his own productions in that position, which the King’s curiosity caused
to be turned, when the slave fell on his knees and besought the monarch
to obtain his pardon from his master, for having presumed to practice
painting without his approbation. Philip, agreeably surprised at his
address, and well pleased with the work, bid Pareja to rest contented.
He interceded in his behalf, and Velasquez not only forgave him, but
emancipated him from servitude; yet such was his attachment and
gratitude to his master, that he would never leave him till his death,
and afterwards continued to serve his daughter with the same fidelity.
He is said to have painted portraits so much in the style of Velasquez,
that they could not easily be distinguished from his works. He also
painted some historical works, as the Calling of St. Matthew, at
Aranjuez; the Baptism of Christ, at Toledo, and some Saints at Madrid.


This eminent Spanish painter was born near Toledo, according to
Palomino, in 1594, though Bermudez says in 1586. He was a pupil of El
Greco, whom he surpassed in design and purity of taste. His instructor,
far from being jealous of his talents, was the first to applaud his
works, and to commend him to the public. He executed many admirable
works for the churches and public edifices at Toledo and Madrid. It is
no mean proof of his ability, that Velasquez professed himself his
admirer, and quitting the precepts of Pacheco, he formed his style from
the works of Tristan.


Tristan was the favorite pupil of El Greco, to whom his master made over
many commissions, which he was unable to execute himself. In this manner
he was employed to paint the Last Supper, for the Hieronymite monastery
of La Sisla. The monks liked the picture; but they thought the price
which the artist asked for it, of two hundred ducats, excessive. They
therefore sent for El Greco to value it; but when this master saw his
pupil’s work, he raised his stick and ran at him, calling him a
scoundrel and a disgrace to his profession. The monks restrained the
angry painter, and soothed him by saying that the young man did not know
what he asked, and no doubt would submit to the opinion of his master.
“In good truth,” returned El Greco, “he does not know what he has asked;
and if he does not get _five hundred_ ducats for the picture, I desire
it may be rolled up and sent to my house.” The Hieronymites were
compelled to pay the larger sum!


This eminent Spanish painter, sculptor, and architect, was born at
Granada, according to Bermudez, in 1601. He early showed a passion for
the fine arts, and exhibited extraordinary talents. He excelled in all
the three sister arts, particularly in painting. There are many
excellent works by Cano in the churches and public edifices at Cordova,
Madrid, Granada, and Seville, which rank him among the greatest Spanish
painters. As a sculptor, he manifested great abilities, and executed
many fine works, which excited universal admiration. He also gained
considerable reputation as an architect, and was appointed architect and
painter to the king.


Cano executed many works for the churches and convents gratuitously.
When he was young, he painted many pictures for the public places of
Seville, which were regarded as astonishing performances. For these he
would receive no remuneration, declaring that he considered them
unfinished and deficient, and that he wrought for practice and


Palomino relates several characteristic anecdotes of Cano. An Auditor of
the Chancery of Granada bore especial devotion to St. Anthony of Padua,
and wished for an image of that saint from the hands of Cano. When the
figure was finished, the judge liked it much. He inquired what money the
artist expected for it: the answer was, one hundred doubloons. The
amateur was astonished, and asked, “How many days he might have spent
upon it?” Cano replied, “Some five-and-twenty days.” “Well,” said the
Auditor, “that comes to four doubloons per day.” “Your lordship reckons
wrong,” said Cano, “for I have spent fifty years in learning to execute
it in twenty-five days.” “That is all very well, but I have spent my
patrimony and my youth in studying at the University, and in a higher
profession; now here I am, Auditor in Granada, and if I get a doubloon a
day, it is as much as I do.” Cano had scarce patience to hear him out.
“A higher profession, indeed!” he exclaimed; “the king can make judges
out of the dust of the earth, but it is reserved for God alone to make
an Alonso Cano.” Saying this, he took up the figure and dashed it to
pieces on the pavement; whereupon the Auditor escaped as fast as he
could, not feeling sure that Cano’s fury would confine itself to the


Another characteristic of Cano, was his insuperable repugnance for any
persons tainted with Judaism. It appears that in Granada the unhappy
persons of that nation who were _penitenciados_ (i.e. who had been
subjected to penance by the Inquisition) were in the habit of getting
what they could to support themselves, by selling linen and other
articles about the streets; they wore of course the _sambenito_, or
habit prescribed by the Inquisition as the mark of their penance. If
Cano met one of these men in the street, he would cross to the other
side, or get out of his way into the passage of a house. Occasionally,
however, in turning a corner, or by mere accident, one of these persons
would sometimes brush the garment of the artist, who then instantly sent
his servant home for another, whether cloak or doublet, and gave the
_polluted_ one to his attendant. The servant, however, did not dare to
wear what he had thus acquired, or his master would have turned him out
of the house forthwith--he could only sell it. It is added that the
manifest profit which the servant derived from his master’s scruples,
made the people doubt whether in all cases the Jew had really brushed
against the artist, or whether the servant had himself twitched the
cloak as the Jew passed. At any rate the servant has been heard to
remonstrate, and urge that “it was the slightest touch in the world,
sir--it cannot matter.” “Not matter?--you scoundrel, in such things as
these, everything matters;” and the valet got the cloak.

On one occasion, Cano’s housekeeper, with an excess of audacity, had
actually brought one of these _penitenciados_ into the house, and was
buying some linen of him; a dispute about the price caused high words,
and the master came, hearing a disturbance. What could he do? he could
not defile himself by laying hands on the miscreant, who got away while
the wrathful artist was looking for some weapon that he could use
without touching him. But the housekeeper had to fly to a neighbor’s;
and it was only after many entreaties, and performing a rigorous
quarantine, that she was received back again.


His passion for art, and his eccentric notions respecting the Jews, were
strongly manifested in his last sickness. He lived in the parish of the
city which contained the prison of the Inquisition. The priest of the
parish visited him upon his death-bed, and proposed to administer the
sacraments to him after confession, when the artist quietly asked him
whether he was in the habit of administering it to the Jews on whom
penance was imposed by the Inquisition. The priest replying in the
affirmative, Cano said, “Senor Licenciado, go your way, and do not
trouble yourself to call again; for the priest who administers the
sacraments to the Jews shall not administer them to me.” Accordingly he
sent for the priest of the parish of St. Andrew. This last, however,
gave offence in another form; he put into the artist’s hands a crucifix
of indifferent execution, when Cano desired him to take it away. The
priest was so shocked at this, that he thought him possessed, and was at
the point of exorcising him. “My son,” he said, “what dost thou mean?
this is the Lord who redeemed thee, and who must save thee.”--“I know
that well,” replied Cano, “but do you want to provoke me with that
wretched thing, so as to give me over to the devil? let me have a
simple cross, for with that I can reverence Christ in faith; I can
worship him as he is in himself, and as I contemplate him in my own
mind.” This was accordingly done, so that the artist was no longer
troubled by an indifferent specimen of sculpture.


Francisco Ribalta, an eminent Spanish painter, studied first in
Valencia, where he fell in love with the daughter of his instructor. The
father refused his consent to the marriage; but the daughter promised to
wait for her lover while he studied in Italy. Ribalta accordingly went
thither and devoted himself to his art, studying particularly the works
of Raffaelle and the Caracci, and returned, after a considerable time,
to his native country. Quickened by love, he had attained a high degree
of excellence. On arriving at the city of Valencia, he went to the house
of his beloved, who meanwhile had proved faithful; and her father being
away from home, he finished the sketch of a picture in his studio, in
his mistress’ presence, and left it to produce its effect upon the
hitherto inflexible parent. The latter, on returning, asked his daughter
who had been there, adding, with a look at the picture, “This is the man
to whom I would marry thee, and not to that dauber, Ribalta.” The
marriage of course took place, immediately; and the fame of Ribalta soon
procured him abundant employment.


Aparicio, a Spanish painter who died in 1838, possessed little merit,
but great vanity. Among other works, he painted the Ransoming of 1700
slaves at Algiers, which occurred in 1768, by order of Charles III. When
the picture was exhibited at Rome, Canova, who knew the man, told
Aparicio, “This is the finest thing in the world, and you are the first
of painters.” Soon after, Thorwaldsen came in and ventured a critique,
whereupon the Don indignantly quoted Canova. “Sir, he has been laughing
at you,” said the honest Dane, to whom Aparicio never spoke again.


This preëminent Spanish painter was born at Pilas, near Seville, in
1613. There is a great deal of contradiction among writers as to his
early history, but it has been proved that he never left his own
country. He first studied under Don Juan del Castillo, an eminent
historical painter at Seville, on leaving whom, he went to Cadiz. It was
the custom of the young artists at that time to expose their works for
sale at the annual fairs, and many of the earliest productions of
Murillo were exported to South America, which gave rise to the
tradition, that he had proceeded thither in person.


The fame of Velasquez, then at its zenith, inspired Murillo with a
desire to visit Madrid, in the hope to profit by his instruction. He
accordingly proceeded thither in 1642, and paid his court to Velasquez,
who received him with great kindness, admitted him into his academy, and
procured for him the best means of improvement beyond his own
instruction, by obtaining for him access to the rich treasures of art in
the royal collections, where his attention was particularly directed to
the works of Titian, Rubens, and Vandyck.


After a residence of three years at Madrid, Murillo returned to Seville,
where he was commissioned to paint his great fresco of St. Thomas of
Villanuova distributing alms to the poor, in the convent of San
Francisco, consisting of sixteen compartments.--The subject suited his
genius, and gave full scope for the display of his powers, which were
peculiarly adapted to the representation of nature in her most simple
and unsophisticated forms. The Saint stands in a dignified posture, with
a countenance beaming with benevolence and compassion, while he is
surrounded by groups of paupers, eagerly pressing forward to receive his
charity, whose varied character and wretchedness are portrayed with
wonderful art and truthfulness of expression. This and other works
produced emotions of the greatest astonishment among his countrymen,
established his reputation as one of the greatest artists of his age,
and procured him abundant employment.


About this time, Murillo was employed by the Marquis of Villamanrique,
to paint a series of pictures from the life of David, in which the
backgrounds were to be painted by Ignacio Iriarte, an eminent landscape
painter of Seville. Murillo rightly proposed that the landscape parts
should be first painted, and that he should afterwards put in the
figures; but Iriarte contended that the historical part ought to be
first finished, to which he would adapt the backgrounds. To put an end
to the dispute, Murillo undertook to execute the whole, and changing the
History of David to that of Jacob, he produced the famous series of five
pictures, now in the possession of the Marquis de Santiago at Madrid, in
which the beauty of the landscapes contends with that of the figures,
and which remain a monument of his powers in these different departments
of the art.


The last work which Murillo painted was a picture of St. Catherine, in
the convent of the Capuchins at Seville, his death being hastened by a
fall from the scaffold. He died at Seville in 1685, universally
deplored--for he was greatly beloved, not merely for his extraordinary
talents, but for the generous qualities of his heart. Such was his noble
and charitable disposition, that he is said to have left but little
property, though he received large prices for his works.


Few painters have a juster claim to originality of style than Murillo,
and his works show an incontestible proof of the perfection to which the
Spanish school attained, and the real character of its artists; for he
was never out of his native country, and could have borrowed little from
foreign artists; and this originality places him in the first rank among
the painters of every school. All his works are distinguished by a close
and lively imitation of nature. His pictures of the Virgin, Saints,
Magdalens, and even of the Saviour, are stamped with a characteristic
expression of the eye, and have a national peculiarity of countenance
and habiliments, which are very remarkable. There is little of the
academy discernible in his design or his composition. It is a chaste and
faithful representation of what he saw or conceived; truth and
simplicity are never lost sight of; his coloring is clear, tender, and
harmonious, and though it possesses the truth of Titian, and the
sweetness of Vandyck, it has nothing of the appearance of imitation.
There is little of the ideal in his forms or heads, and though he
frequently adopts a beautiful expression, there is usually a
portrait-like simplicity in his countenances. In short, his pictures are
said to hold a middle rank between the unpolished naturalness of the
Flemish, and the graceful and dignified taste of the Italian schools.


The works of Murillo are numerous, and widely scattered over the world.
Most of his greatest works are in the churches of Spain; some are in the
Royal collections at Madrid, some in France and Flanders, many in
England, and a few in the United States. They now command enormous
prices. The National Gallery of London paid four thousand guineas for a
picture of the Holy Family, and two thousand for one of St. John with
the Lamb. The late Marshal Soult’s collection was very rich in
Murillos--the fruits of his campaigns in Spain. The famous Assumption of
the Virgin, considered the chef d’œuvre of the master, brought the
enormous sum of five hundred and eighty-six thousand francs, and was
bought by the French government to adorn the Louvre; but it should be
recollected that the heads of three governments--those of France,
Russia, and Spain--and an English Marquis, competed for it. Such works,
too, are esteemed above all price, as models of art, in a national
collection of pictures. Of the other Murillos in the Soult collection,
the principal brought the following prices: “The Ravages of the Plague,”
twenty thousand francs; “The Miracle of St. Diego,” eighty-five thousand
francs; “The Flight into Egypt,” fifty-one thousand francs; “The
Nativity of the Virgin,” ninety thousand francs; “The Repentance of St.
Peter,” fifty-five thousand francs; “Christ on the Cross,” thirty-one
thousand francs; “St. Peter in Prison,” one hundred and fifty-one
thousand francs; “Jesus and St. John--children,” fifty-one thousand
seven hundred and fifty francs. The two last were purchased for the
Emperor of Russia. The collection was sold in May, 1852.

The works of Murillo have been largely copied and imitated, and so
successfully as to deceive even connoisseurs.


The Assumption of the Virgin is considered by all the Spanish writers as
the masterpiece of Murillo, and never, perhaps, did that great master
attain such sublimity of expression and such magnificent coloring, as in
this almost divine picture. It represents the Virgin in the act of being
carried up into Heaven. Her golden hair floats on her shoulders, and her
white robe gently swells in the breeze, while a mantle of blue
gracefully falls from her left shoulder. Groups of angels and cherubim
of extraordinary beauty, sport around her in the most evident
admiration, those below thronging closely together, while those above
open their ranks, as if not in any way to conceal the glory shed around
the ascending Virgin. The size of the picture is eight feet six inches
in height, by six feet broad, French measure. This picture was the gem
of the famous collection made by Marshal Soult, during his campaigns in
Spain, who used humorously to relate that it cost him _two monks_, which
he thus explained. One morning two of his soldiers were found with their
throats cut, and the deed being traced to the instigation of the monks,
near whose convent they had encamped, he immediately arraigned them
before a court-martial, sentenced two of the fraternity to expiate the
deed, and compelled them to designate the victims by lot. One of the
chances fell to the Prior, who offered Soult this peerless picture as
the price of their redemption.


Castillo was educated in the school of Zurbaran. After returning to his
native city, he flattered himself that he was the first Spanish painter
of the day; but subsequently, on a visit to Seville, he was painfully
undeceived. The works of Murillo struck him with astonishment, and when
he saw the St. Leander and St. Isidore, as well as the St. Anthony of
Padua by that master, he exclaimed, “It is all over with Castillo! Is it
possible that Murillo can be the author of all this grace and beauty of
coloring?” He returned to Cordova, and attempted to imitate and equal
Murillo, but felt satisfied that he had failed; and it is said that he
died in the following year, from the effects of envy and annoyance.


The name of this great artist was Antonio Allegri, and he was born at
Correggio, a small town in the Duchy of Modena, in 1494; hence his
acquired name. It was for a long time the fashion to regard the divine
creations of Correggio as the mere product of genius and accident;
himself as a man born in the lowest grade of society; uneducated in the
elements of his art, owing all to the wondrous resources of his own
unassisted genius; living and dying in obscurity and poverty; ill paid
for his pictures; and at length perishing tragically. It has been proved
that there is no foundation for these popular fallacies. Correggio’s own
pictures are a sufficient refutation of a part of them; they exhibit not
only a classical and cultivated taste, but a profound knowledge of
anatomy, and of the sciences of optics, perspective, and chemistry, as
far as they were then carried. His exquisite chiaro-scuro and harmonious
blending of colors were certainly not the result of mere chance: all his
sensibility to these effects of nature would not have enabled him to
render them, without the profoundest study of the mechanical means he
employed. The great works on which he was employed--his lavish use of
the rarest and most expensive colors, and the time and labor he bestowed
in analyzing and refining them--the report that he worked on a ground
overlaid with gold--all refute the idea of his being either an ignorant
or a distressed man. Of the rank he held in the estimation of the
princes of his country we have evidence in a curious document discovered
in the archives of the city of Correggio--the marriage contract between
Ippolito (the son of Giberto, Lord of Correggio, by his wife, the
celebrated poetess Vittoria Gambara), and Chiara da Correggio, in which
we find the signature of the great painter as one of the witnesses.
Correggio was one of that splendid triumvirate of painters who, living
at the same time, were working on different principles, and achieving,
each in his own department, excellence hitherto unequalled; and if
Correggio must be allowed to be inferior to Raffaelle in invention and
expression, and to Titian in life-like color, he has united design and
color with the illusion of light and shadow in a degree of perfection
not then nor since approached by any painter. Hence Annibale Caracci, on
seeing one of his great pictures, exclaimed in a transport that he was
“the only _painter_!”


The admiration which the works of Correggio excited, induced the monks
of St. John to engage him in ornamenting the grand cupola, and other
parts of their church. The original agreement has not been discovered,
but various entries have been found in the books of the convent, between
1519 and 1536, which prove, that for adorning the cupola he received,
as Tiraboschi asserts, two hundred and seventy-two gold ducats, and two
hundred more for other parts of the fabric. The last payment of twenty
seven gold ducats was made on the 23d of January, 1524, and the
acknowledgment of the painter, under his own signature, is still extant.

The subject is the Ascension of Christ in glory, surrounded by the
twelve Apostles, seated on the clouds; and in the lunettes the four
Evangelists and four Doctors of the Church. The situation for the
picture presented difficulties which none but so great an artist could
have overcome; for the cupola has neither sky-light nor windows, and
consequently the whole effect of the piece must depend on the light
reflected from below. The figures of the Apostles are chiefly naked,
gigantic, and in a style of peculiar grandeur.

Besides the cupola, various parts of the same church were adorned by his
hand. He decorated the tribune, which was afterwards demolished to
enlarge the choir; and it was so highly esteemed, that Cesare Aretusi
was employed by the monks to copy it for the new tribune. He painted
also in fresco, the two sides of the fifth chapel on the right hand, the
first representing the Martyrdom of St. Placido and St. Flavia, and the
second a dead Christ, with the Virgin Mary swooning at his feet. Of
these paintings Mengs particularly admires the head of St. Placido and
the exquisite figure of the Magdalen in the last mentioned picture.


The grand fresco painting in the cupola of the Cathedral of Parma, is
considered Correggio’s greatest work, and has ever been regarded as a
most wonderful production.

The difficulties he had to encounter, were greater than those in the
church of St. John, and in overcoming them he displayed the most
consummate skill and judgment. This cupola, which is nearly thirty-nine
feet in diameter, is octagonal, the compartments diminishing as it
rises; and it is not surmounted with a lantern, but towards the lower
part is lighted by windows, approaching to an oval form. On this surface
he delineated numerous groups of figures, with extraordinary boldness
and effect; though, for the sake of variety, he partially adopted a
smaller scale than in the cupola of St. John. The subject is the
Assumption of the Virgin Mary. She is represented with an air in the
highest degree indicative of devotion and beatitude, as rising to meet
Christ in the clouds, surrounded by the heavenly choir of saints and
angels; while beneath, the apostles behold her reception into glory with
the most dignified expression of reverence and astonishment. Over the
whole is an effusion of light, which produces an impression truly

The figures which are depicted in the upper part of the dome, are
foreshortened with consummate skill. Mengs, who saw them near, and
judged of them as an artist, appears astonished at their boldness, which
he calls “sconcia terribile,” particularly that of Christ, which
occupies the centre. But the effect, when seen from below, proves that
the painter had deeply studied that delicate branch of the art; for
nothing can exceed the bold and exquisite management of the light and
shade, and the beautiful proportion in which the figures appear to the
eye, except the life and spirit with which they are animated, and the
general harmony of the whole.

In decorating the lower part of the cupola, Correggio displayed
undiminished resources. He figured a species of socle, or cornice, which
runs round the whole cupola, yet at such a distance as to afford a space
between the windows for the apostles, who appear, some single, some in
pairs, surrounded with angels, and delineated in the same grand style as
those in the cupola of St. John. Yet, although placed on the very lines
of the angles, formed in the dome, they are so artfully disposed and
foreshortened, as to appear painted vertically on the cornice. To unite
these with the principal figures, he distributed above and on the socle,
between the gigantic figures of the apostles, and the light and airy
forms of the celestial choir above, groups of angels, of an intermediate
size, some with torches, and others bearing vases and censers.

But a striking proof of his taste and skill is manifested in the four
lunettes between the arches supporting the cupola. Here he feigned the
architecture to form four capacious niches or shells, in which he
introduced the patrons of the city, St. John the Baptist, St. Hilary,
St. Thomas, and St. Bernard degli Uberti, in magnitude equal to the
Apostles, resting on clouds and attended by angels. In depicting the
light as transmitted from the groups above, he has thrown it so
naturally upon these figures and their angelic suite, that they appear
as if detached from the wall, and animated with more than human spirit
and grace.

This great work was commenced about 1523, and finished in 1530, as
appears from the original agreements and receipts, preserved in the
archives of the Chapter, which were published by his biographer
Pungileoni, from a copy taken and authenticated by a Notary Public, in
1803. The work seems to have been delayed by the feuds and warfare which
agitated Parma at that time, and perhaps by other engagements of the
artist. The contract was signed on the 3d of November, 1522. In the plan
or estimate which Correggio drew up at the desire of the Chapter, and
which is still preserved in his own handwriting, he required twelve
hundred gold ducats, and one hundred for gold leaf; the scaffolding,
lime, and other requisites to be provided by the Chapter. But in the
contract itself, the price was reduced to one thousand ducats, exclusive
of the one hundred for gold leaf. For this sum he engaged to paint the
choir, and the cupola with its arches and pillars, as far as the altar;
also the lateral chapels, in imitation of living subjects, bronze and
marble, according to the plan, and in conformity to the nature of the
place, comprising in the whole a surface of one hundred and fifty-four
square perches (perteche). The Chapter, on their part, were to provide
the scaffolding and the lime, and to defray the expense of preparing the
walls. Thus Correggio received the sum of one thousand gold ducats
(about two thousand dollars) for his work, out of which he had to pay
for his colors, and the labors of his assistants. What then becomes of
the miserable story generally current, that this was his last work; that
when he went to receive payment, that he might take home the price of
his labors to his poverty-stricken family, the canons found fault with
his picture, and refused to pay him more than half the paltry sum
originally promised; that they paid him in copper coin; that he took the
heavy burden upon his shoulders, and walked a distance of eight miles to
his cottage, under the burning heat of an Italian sun, which together
with his despair threw him into a fever, of which he died, on his bed of
straw, in three days? It appears from the documents before cited, that
Correggio received payment in instalments, as his work progressed.


Vasari commiserates the fate of Correggio, whom he represents as of a
melancholy turn of mind timid and diffident of his own powers;
burthened with a numerous family, which, with all his prodigious
talents, he could scarcely support; illy recompensed for his works; and
to crown the sad story, we are told that, having received at Parma a
payment of sixty crowns in copper money, he caught a fever in the
exertion of carrying it home on his shoulders, which occasioned his

This picture, however, according to Lanzi, is exaggerated; for although
the situation of Correggio was far beneath his merits, yet it was by no
means deplorable. His family was highly respectable, and possessed
considerable landed property, which is said to have been augmented by
his own earnings; and so far from his having died of the fatigue of
carrying home copper money, he was usually paid in gold. For the cupola
and tribune of the church of St. John, he received four hundred and
seventy-two sequins; for that of the Cathedral, three hundred and fifty;
payments by no means inconsiderable in those times. For his celebrated
Notte he was paid forty sequins, and for the St. Jerome, which cost him
six months’ labor, forty-seven. It does not appear probable that he
acquired great riches, but there is no doubt that he was equally
screened from the evils attendant on penury and affluence.

The researches and discoveries of the learned Tiraboschi, the
indomitable Dr. Michele Antonioli, and the zealous and impartial Padre
Luigi Pungileoni, have thrown much light upon the life of Correggio.
His father, Pellegrino Allegri, was a general merchant in Correggio,
esteemed by his fellow-citizens. His circumstances were easy, and he
intended Antonio for one of the learned professions, but his passion for
painting induced him to allow him to follow the bent of his genius. It
is not certainly known under whom he studied painting. Some of the
Italian writers say that he was instructed by Francesco Bianchi and
Giovanni Murani, called Il Frari; others that he was a pupil of Lionardo
da Vinci and Andrea Mantegna; Lanzi is decidedly of the opinion that he
formed his style by studying the works of Mantegna, who died in 1506,
which does away with the supposition that he could have studied with
him. “The manner,” says Lanzi, “in which Correggio could have imbibed so
exquisite a taste, has always been considered surprising and
unaccountable, prevailing everywhere, as we find in his canvass, in his
laying on his colors, in the last touches of his pictures; but let us
for a moment suppose him a student of Mantegna’s models, surpassing all
others in the same taste, and the wonder will be accounted for. Let us,
moreover, consider the grace and vivacity so predominant in the
compositions of Correggio, the rainbow as it were of his colors, that
accurate care in his foreshortenings, and of those upon ceilings; his
abundance of laughing boys and cherubs, of flowers, fruits, and all
delightful objects; and let us ask ourselves whether this new style does
not appear an exquisite completion of that of Mantegna, as the pictures
of Raffaelle and Titian display the progress and perfection of those of
Perugino and Giovanni Bellini.” The authentic documents revealed by the
three savans before mentioned, show that Correggio was most highly
esteemed by his cotemporaries, and that he associated with persons of
rank and letters. On two occasions he passed some time at Padua, with
the Marchese Manfredo, and the celebrated patroness of arts and letters,
Veronica Gambara, relict of Gilberto, Lord of Correggio. That he was
cheerful and lively, may be inferred from the expression of a writer
concerning him: “_La vivacitá e dal brio del nostro Antonio_;” yet
affectionate and gentle, as is evident from his being sponsor on three
occasions to infants of his friends (in 1511, 1516, and 1518), before he
had reached his twenty-second year. In 1520 he was admitted by diploma,
as a brother of the Congregation Cassinensi, in the monastery of St.
John the Evangelist, at Parma--the fraternity to which the illustrious
Tasso belonged. In the same year he married Girolama Merlini, a lady of
good family, amiable disposition, and great beauty, who was his model
for the Zingara, probably after the birth of his first child. By this
lady he had one son and three daughters. In 1529, to his great
affliction, she died, and was buried by her own request in the church of
St. John at Parma. Correggio did not marry again. He died suddenly on
the fifth day of March, 1534, aged forty years, and was buried with
solemnities worthy of his great endowments, in the church of San
Francesco, at the foot of the altar in the chapel of the Arrivabene.


“I went,” says Annibale Caracci, in a letter to his cousin Lodovico, “to
see the grand cupola, which you have so often commended to me, and am
quite astonished. To observe so large a composition, so well contrived;
and seen from below with such great exactness; and at the same time,
such judgment, such grace, and coloring of real flesh, good God, not
Tibaldi, not Nicolini, nor even I may say, Raffaelle himself, can be
compared with him. I know not how many paintings I have seen this
morning; the Ancona, or altar-piece of St. John, and St. Catharine, and
the Madonna della Scodella going to Egypt, and I swear, I would change
none of these for the St. Cecilia. To speak of the graces of this St.
Catharine, who so gracefully lays her head on the feet of the beautiful
little Savior; is she not more lovely than the St. Mary Magdalen? That
fine old man St. Jerome, is he not grander, and at the same time more
tender than that St. Paul, which first appeared to me a miracle, and now
seems like a piece of wood, it is so hard and sharp. However you must
have patience even for your own Parmiggiano, because I now acknowledge
that I have learnt from this great man, to imitate all his grace,
though at a great distance; for the children of Correggio breathe and
smile with such a grace and truth, that one cannot refrain from smiling
and enjoying one’s self with them.

“I write to my brother that he must come, for he will see things which
he could never have believed,--18th April, 1580.

“I have been to the Steccata, and the Zocoli, and have observed what you
told me many times, and what I now confess to be true; but I will say
that, to my taste, Parmeggiano bears no comparison with Correggio,
because the thoughts and conceptions of Correggio were his own,
evidently drawn from his own mind, and invented by himself, guided only
by the original idea. The others all rest on something not their own;
some on models, some on statues or drawings: all the productions of the
others are represented as they may be; all of this man as they truly

“The opportunities which Agostino wished for, have not occurred; and
this appears to me a country, which one never could have believed so
totally devoid of good taste and of the delights of a painter, for they
do nothing but eat and drink, and make love. I promised to impart to you
my sentiments; but I confess I am so confused that it is impossible. I
rage and weep, to think of the misfortune of poor Antonio; so great a
man, if indeed he were a man, and not an angel in the flesh, to be lost
here, in a country where he was unknown, and though worthy of
immortality, here to die unhappily. He and Titian will always be my
delight: and if I do not see the works of the latter at Venice, I shall
not die content.--April 28, 1580.”


Among the many legends respecting Correggio, it is related that when he
first contemplated one of the masterpieces of Raffaelle, his brow
colored, his eye brightened, and he exclaimed, “I also am a painter!”
When Titian first saw the great works of Correggio at Parma, he said,
“Were I not Titian, I would wish to be Correggio.”


No one can contemplate the works of Correggio, without being captivated
by that peculiar beauty which the Italians have very appropriately
distinguished by the epithet _Correggiesque_, for it was the complexion
of the individual mind and temperament of the artist, stamped upon the
work of his hand. No one approached him in this respect, if perhaps we
except Lionardo da Vinci. Though so often imitated, it remains in fact
inimitable; an attempt degenerating into affectation of the most
intolerable kind. It consists in the blending of sentiment in
expression, with flowing, graceful forms, an exquisite fullness and
softness in the tone of color, and an almost illusive chiaro-scuro, all
together conveying to the mind of the spectator the most delightful
impression of harmony, both spiritual and sensual. He is the painter of
_beauty_ par excellence; he is to us what Apelles was to the
ancients--the standard of the amiable and the graceful.


The pleasure which the monks derived from the works of Correggio, even
in their incipient state, and the esteem which they had for him, is
manifested by a remarkable document. This is a letter or patent of
confraternity, passed in the general assembly of the order, held at
Pratalea, in the latter end of 1521; a privilege which was eagerly
sought at this and earlier periods, and was seldom conferred on persons
not eminent for rank or talents. It conveyed a participation in the
spiritual benefits derived from the prayers, masses, alms, and other
pious works of the community, and was coupled with an engagement to
perform the same offices for the repose of his soul, and the souls of
his family, as were performed for their own members.


It is said that Correggio painted a picture of a muleteer, as a sign to
a small public house, which was kept by a man who had frequently obliged
him, and who had been a muleteer. This picture was purchased by a person
sent to Italy many years ago to collect ancient paintings. It has all
the marks in the upper corner, of having been joined to a piece of wood,
and used for a sign; it cost five hundred guineas!


Cunningham warms into rapture in speaking of this picture. “The size is
small, some fifteen inches or so; but true genius can work miracles in
small compass. The central light of the picture is altogether heavenly;
we never saw anything so insufferably brilliant; it haunted us round the
room at Apsley House, and fairly extinguished the light of its companion


Correggio painted for the church of the Conventuali at Correggio, an
Ancona, (a small altar-piece in wood,) consisting of three pictures when
he was in his twentieth year, as appears, says Lanzi, from the written
agreement, which fixes the price at one hundred gold ducats, or one
hundred zecchins, and proves the esteem in which his talents were then
held. “He here represented St. Bartholomew and St. John, each occupying
one side, while in the middle compartment, he drew a Repose of the Holy
Family flying into Egypt, to which last was added a figure of St.
Francis. Francesco I., Duke of Modena, was so greatly delighted with
this picture, that he sent the artist Boulanger to copy it for him, and
thus obtaining possession of the original, he contrived dexterously to
substitute his own copy in its place.” The Duke satisfied the monks by
giving them more lands. It is supposed that it was afterwards presented
to the Medicean family, and by them given to the house of Este in
exchange for the Sacrifice of Abraham by Andrea del Sarto. It is now in
the Florentine gallery.


Correggio appears to have been far less solicitous than most other
painters, that his likeness should be transmitted to posterity, for of
him there is no unquestioned portrait extant. That which is prefixed to
his life, in the Roman edition of Vasari, is evidently false, for it
exhibits the head and countenance of a man aged seventy. It was taken
from a collection of designs, in the possession of Father Resta, to one
of which, representing a man and his wife with three sons and one
daughter, in mean apparel, he gave the name of the Family of Correggio,
forgetting that the family consisted of three daughters and one son.

Another portrait, with the title, _Antonius Correggius_, and
consequently supposed to be painted by himself, was preserved in a villa
which belonged to the Queen of Sardinia, near Turin, and engraved by
Valperga; but its authenticity seems justly questioned by Lanzi and
Pungileoni. A third, which was sent from Genoa to England, bore an
inscription signifying that it was the portrait of Maestro Antonio da
Correggio, by Dosso Dossi, and was accordingly engraved for the memoirs
of Correggio by Ratti, who obtained a copy. Lanzi is inclined to infer,
however, that it is the portrait of Antonio Bernieri, the miniature
painter, who also bore the name of Antonio da Correggio.

A copy of this portrait is still preserved in the Pinacotheca Bodoniana,
at Parma, and has been engraved, first by Asioli, and since as a
medallion, by Professor Rocca, of Reggio. Pungileoni, who is inclined to
consider it as genuine, has prefixed the medallion to his life of

Tiraboschi and Pungileoni mention other supposed portraits and busts, of
questionable authenticity; and Pungileoni, in particular, adverts to a
portrait still preserved near a door of the cathedral at Parma, which is
exhibited as a likeness of Correggio. It is supposed to have been copied
in the middle of the seventeenth century, by Lattanzio Gambara, from a
more ancient one of this celebrated painter, in another part of the
cathedral; but its authenticity is questioned, merely on the ground that
it represents a man of more advanced age than Correggio, who only
attained his forty-first year.


The question has been long agitated whether Correggio ever visited Rome,
and profited by the study of the antique, and the works of Raffaelle
and Michael Angelo; on this point, the only historical evidence which
has been adduced, is a tradition recorded by Father Resta, and said to
have been derived through three generations, from the information of
Correggio’s wife. As an authority so light and doubtful could not be
seriously advanced, his biographers and admirers have sought in his
works for more valid traces of the models to which he recurred. Mengs
contends that his paintings exhibit proofs of an acquaintance with the
antique, and the works of Raffaelle and Michael Angelo. In the head of
the Danaë, he traces a resemblance to that of Venus de Medici; and in
the St. Jerome, and Mercury teaching Cupid to read, he recognises
imitations of the Farnese Hercules and the Apollo Belvidere; he also
discovers a resemblance to one of the children of Niobe, in the young
man who endeavors to escape from the soldiers, in the picture
representing Christ betrayed in the garden. The countenance of the
Magdalen, in the St. Jerome, he considers as an imitation of Raffaelle;
and in the cupola of the church of St. John, he perceives a similitude
to the grand style of Michael Angelo, in the frescos of the Vatican. In
corroboration of this opinion, he adduces the sudden change which is
perceived in the style of Correggio at an earlier period, as a proof
that he must have seen and studied compositions superior to his own.
Ratti, the copyist of Mengs, coincides with him in opinion. Lanzi
cautiously adopts the same sentiment; and Tiraboschi, after comparing
the testimony on both sides, leaves the question unsettled. We cannot
decide with certainty, that Correggio never visited Rome, and yet there
is no argument to prove that he ever saw that Capital. Pungileoni, with
superior advantage of research, pronounces a contrary decision; and
affirms, from the evidence of the continued series of unquestionable
documents, in which his presence is mentioned at Parma, Correggio, and
other parts of Lombardy, during a number of years, that even if he did
visit Rome, his stay must have been limited to a very short period.
Finally, this opinion is corroborated in the assertion of Ortensio
Landi, who had resided some time at Correggio; and who, in his Sette
Libri de Cataloghi, printed at Venice by Giolito, as early as 1552, says
of Correggio, “He was a noble production of nature, rather than of any
master: he died young, without being able to see Rome.” Were all other
evidence wanting, this testimony of a cotemporary, who must have
collected his information on the spot, and who published it within
eighteen years after the death of Correggio, must be allowed to carry
great weight.


A few days before the entry of the French into Seville, during the
Peninsular war, when the inhabitants in great consternation were packing
up their most valuable effects to send them to Cadiz, a masterpiece of
Correggio, in one of the convents, representing the Adoration of the
Shepherds, painted on wood, was sawn in two, for its more easy carriage
to a place of safety, to preserve it from the enemy. By some accident,
the two parts were separated on their way to Cadiz; and on their arrival
in that city, one part was sold to one connoisseur, with the promise
that the part wanting should subsequently be delivered to him; while the
other part was sold to another connoisseur under the same engagement.
Both the parts arrived in England, and the possessor of each maintained
that he was entitled to the other.

It is somewhat remarkable that though the harmony of the picture is
somewhat broken by the separation, yet each part forms of itself an
admirable picture, and as the rival proprietors are rich and obstinate,
the parts are not likely to be united. The whole picture is reckoned to
be worth about 4,000 guineas.


Correggio’s picture of Mercury teaching Cupid to read, in the presence
of Venus, called the Education of Cupid, is one of the most celebrated
works of art extant. It now adorns the English National Gallery, and its
history is exceedingly interesting. It was painted for Federigo
Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, the predecessor of him who a hundred years
later patronized Rubens. When Charles I. of England, in 1630, purchased
the Mantuan collection for £20,000, this picture and three others by
Correggio were included in the bargain. On the sale of the king’s
effects by order of parliament, it was purchased by the Duke of Alva,
and from his family passed into the hands of the famous Godoy, Prince of
Peace. When his collection was sold at Madrid during the French
invasion, it was bought by Murat, who took it to Naples, where it
adorned the royal palace. On his fall from power, it was among the
precious effects with which his wife, Caroline Buonaparte, escaped to
Rome, and thence to Vienna, where her collection of pictures was bought
by the Marquis of Londonderry, the English ambassador, who instantly
dispatched the two Correggios--the Education of Cupid and the Ecce
Homo--to London. They were purchased of his Lordship by Parliament in
1834, for 10,000 guineas, and now adorn the English National Gallery.
Sir Thomas Lawrence was allowed a furtive glance at these pictures, at
Rome, in the hope that he would procure a purchaser for them. He says in
a letter, “I had them brought down to me, and placed them in all lights,
and I _know_ them to be most rare and precious.” By his recommendation,
Mr. Angerstein offered £6,500 for the two, which was declined. At the
time when the Marquis of Londonderry closed with General M’Donald, who
was chamberlain to Madame Murat, then known as Countess Lipona (this
was during the Congress of Sovereigns at Verona in 1822), the Emperor of
Russia was negociating for them, and supposing that he had a right to
them, messengers were despatched after Londonderry’s couriers, but
fortunately they were not overtaken, though pursued to the Hague.


In 1837, Mr. Atherstone bought at an auction mart in London, a genuine
picture of a Magdalen by Correggio, for a small sum. He found it among a
parcel of rubbish sent to be sold by a gentleman, who had bought the
picture in Italy for ten pounds, without knowing anything of its value.
It was in perfect preservation, executed in the greatest style of
Correggio, surpassing in beauty of coloring and depth of tone the famous
specimens in the National Gallery!

The writer can tell an amusing story of a picture that was _not_ by
Correggio. It was a small picture of a Holy Family, on copper. It was
bought in Naples, for a very large sum, by a gentleman who resides not
many miles from New York, who smuggled it out of the country. On his
arrival home, wishing to improve the brilliancy of the coloring, which
appeared much obscured by the smoke and dust of many years, he sent it
to a skillful artist to be cleaned, who, on removing the plentiful coats
of varnish, soon discovered that it was nothing but _a transfer_. The
artist gently hinted to the _connoisseur_ that he had been duped.
“Zounds, sir, this cannot be; the picture was valued at $5,000 in
Naples, and I was offered very large prices for it by some of the best
judges in Paris.” The artist, with a little spirits, quickly brought the
lines of a print into full view, so that not even a glass was required
to see them! It is needless to say that the proprietor was greatly
chagrined, and vented his rage in curses loud and deep against foreign
impostors. Yet he ordered the coats of varnish to be replaced, and
afterwards sold the picture as an original Correggio.


Among the numerous restorers of old pictures who resided at Rome about
1780, were two friends, an Italian named Lovera, and a German named
Hunterspergh. They were both pupils of the Cavaliere Mengs. They
frequented the sales of old pictures at the Piazza Nuova, as well to
purchase the works of the old masters at a low price, as to supply
themselves with old canvass, which they might repaint. On one occasion,
having bought a lot of old canvass and divided it between them, Lovera
received as a part of his share a very indifferent flower-piece. On
taking it home, he found that the ground scaled off, and to his surprise
discovered traces of a figure painted in an admirable style. He employed
himself with the utmost care in removing the ground which covered the
original picture, and thus restored a capital performance, representing
Charity, under the emblem of a Woman surrounded by three Children. The
report of this happy discovery soon spread; all the artists and amateurs
ran to behold it. The best judges, among whom was Mengs, acknowledged
the genuine style of Correggio, and valued the performance at £2,000.
The Earl of Bristol bought it from Lovera for about £1,500. An engraving
has since been made from it. The value was afterwards the subject of a
suit at law between Hunterspergh and Lovera.


This illustrious artist, denominated by Lanzi “the Father of Modern
Painting,” was also an eminent sculptor, architect, and engineer, the
natural son of Pietro da Vinci, notary to the Florentine Republic.
Vasari and his annotators place his birth in 1445; but Durazzini, in his
Panegyrics on Illustrious Tuscans, satisfactorily proves that he was
born in Lower Valdarno, at the castle of Vinci, in 1452.


At a very early age, Lionardo da Vinci showed remarkably quick abilities
for everything he turned his attention to, but more particularly for
arithmetic, music, and drawing. His drawings appeared something
wonderful to his father, who showed them to Andrea Verocchio, and that
celebrated artist, greatly surprised at seeing productions of such
merit from an uninstructed hand, willingly took Lionardo as a pupil. He
was soon much more astonished when he perceived the rapid progress his
pupil made; he felt his own inferiority, and when Lionardo painted an
angel in a picture of the Baptism of Christ, in S. Salvi at Vallombrosa,
so much superior to the other figures that it rendered the inferiority
of Verocchio apparent to all, he immediately relinquished the pencil for
ever. This picture is now in the academy at Florence. The first original
work by Lionardo, mentioned by Vasari, was the so-called Rotella del
Fico, a round board of a fig-tree, upon which his father requested him
to paint something for one of his tenants. Lionardo, wishing to astonish
his father, determined to execute something extraordinary, that should
produce the effect of the Head of Medusa; and having prepared the
rotella, and covered it with plaster, he collected almost every kind of
reptile, and composed from them a monster of most horrible appearance;
it seemed alive, its eyes flashed fire, and it appeared to breathe
destruction from its open mouth. The picture produced the desired effect
upon his father, who thought it so wonderful that he carried it
immediately to a picture dealer in Florence, sold it for a hundred
ducats, and purchased for a trifle an ordinary piece for his tenant.


Lionardo da Vinci was endowed by nature with a genius uncommonly
elevated and penetrating, eager after discovery, and diligent in the
pursuit, not only in what related to painting, sculpture, and
architecture, but in mathematics, mechanics, hydrostatics, music,
poetry, botany, astronomy, and also in the accomplishments of
horsemanship, fencing, and dancing. Unlike most men of versatile talent,
he was so perfect in all these, that when he performed any one, the
beholders were ready to imagine that it must have been his sole study.
To such vigor of intellect he joined an elegance of features and
manners, that graced the virtues of his mind; he was affable with
strangers, with citizens, with private individuals, and with princes.
This extraordinary combination of qualities in a single man, soon spread
his fame over all Italy.


In 1494, Da Vinci was invited to Milan by the Duke Lodovico Sforza, who
appointed him Director of the Academy of Painting and Architecture,
which he had recently revived with additional splendor and
encouragement. During his residence there, he painted but little, with
the exception of his celebrated picture of the Last Supper, a
description of which will be found in a subsequent article. As Director
of the Academy, he banished all the dry, gothic principles established
by his predecessor, Michelino, and introduced the beautiful simplicity
and purity of the Grecian and Roman styles. Lanzi says that in this
capacity, “he left a degree of refinement at Milan, so productive of
illustrious pupils that this period may be ranked as the most glorious
era of his life.” The Duke engaged Lionardo in the stupendous project of
conducting the waters of the Adda, from Mortesana, through the
Valteline, and the valley of the Chiavenna to the walls of Milan, a
distance of nearly two hundred miles. Sensible of the greatness of this
undertaking, Lionardo applied himself more closely to those branches of
philosophy and mathematics which are most adapted to mechanics, and
finally accomplished this immense work, greatly to the astonishment and
admiration of all Italy. He executed the model for a colossal bronze
equestrian statue of the Duke’s father, Francesco Sforza, and would have
completed it, but the Duke’s affairs were becoming greatly embarrassed,
so that the necessary metal (200,000 lbs.) was not furnished. In 1500,
Lodovico Sforza was overthrown in battle by the French, made prisoner,
and conducted to France, where he soon after died in the castle of
Loches. The Academy was suppressed, the professors dispersed, and
Lionardo, after losing all, was obliged to quit the city, and take
refuge in Florence.


Soon after Lionardo’s return to Florence, in 1503, he was commissioned
by the Gonfalonière Soderini to decorate one side of the Council Hall of
the Palazzo Vecchio, while Michael Angelo was engaged to paint the
opposite side. Lionardo selected the battle in which the Milanese
general, Niccolo Piccinino, was defeated by the Florentines at Anghiari,
near Borgo San Sepolcro. This composition, of which he only made the
cartoon of a part, was called the Battle of the Standard; it represents
a group of horsemen contending for a standard, with various accessories.
Vasari praises the beauty and anatomical correctness of the horses, and
the costumes of the soldiers. Lanzi says it was never executed, after
his failing in an attempt to paint it in a new method upon the wall, but
Lucini afterwards represented it in a painting which is in the Ambrosian
Library at Milan, esteemed one of the finest works in that collection.
The fame of this contest between the two great artists, caused great
excitement, and induced Raffaelle, who had recently quitted the school
of Perugino, to visit Florence. The grace and delicacy of Lionardo’s
style, compared with the dry and gothic manner of Perugino, excited the
admiration of the young painter, and inspired him with a more modern


The patronage extended to the arts by Leo X., induced Lionardo to visit
Rome. Accordingly, in 1514, he went to that metropolis, in the train of
Duke Giuliano de Medici, by whom he was introduced to the Pope, who soon
after signified his intention of employing Lionardo’s pencil. Upon this,
the painter began to distil his oils and prepare his varnishes, which
the Pope seeing, exclaimed with surprise, that “nothing could be
expected of a painter who thought of finishing his works before he had
begun them.” This want of courtesy in the Pope offended Lionardo, and
according to Vasari, was the reason why he immediately quitted Rome in
disgust. It is probable, however, that the talents and fame of
Buonarotti and Raffaelle had more to do with producing the
dissatisfaction of this great painter, who was then declining into the
vale of years.


Francis I. of France was not only a liberal patron of Lionardo da Vinci,
but entertained for him a strong personal friendship. He gave 4000 gold
crowns for his celebrated portrait of Mona Lisa, the wife of Francesco
Giocondo, which occupied Vinci four years. When Lionardo was advanced in
years, and his health declining, he took him into his service, treated
him with the greatest kindness, and gave him a pension of 700 crowns
annually. The King delighted in the society of Da Vinci, and when his
courtiers ventured to express their surprise that he should prefer his
company to theirs, he rebuked them by saying, that “he could make as
many lords as he chose, but that God alone could make a Lionardo da


This great artist expired at Fontainbleau on the 2d day of May, 1519,
aged sixty-seven years. His health had been gradually failing for
several years, and Vasari relates, that Francis I. having honored him
with a visit in his dying moments, Lionardo, deeply affected at this
testimony of his regard, raised himself in the bed to express his thanks
and gratitude, when falling back exhausted, the King caught him, and he
expired in his arms.


Lionardo da Vinci was one of the most learned, accomplished, and eminent
men of the 15th century. Hallam says of him, “The discoveries which made
Galileo and Kepler, Maestlin, Maurolicus, Castelli, and other names
illustrious, the system of Copernicus, the very theories of recent
geologists, are anticipated by Lionardo da Vinci, within the compass of
a very few pages, not perhaps in the most precise language, or on the
most conclusive reasoning, but so as to strike us with something like
the awe of preternatural knowledge. In an age of so much dogmatism, he
first laid down the grand principle of Bacon, that experiment and
observation must be the guides to just theory in the investigation of
nature.” His scientific knowledge proved the means of conferring
incalculable benefits upon the art of painting, one of the most
important of which was the invention of the chiaro-scuro. His intimate
acquaintance with mathematical studies enabled him to develope greatly
the knowledge of optics, and no one was better acquainted with the
nature of aërial perspective, which became a distinctive and hereditary
characteristic of his school. Lanzi says, “Being extremely well versed
in poetry and history, it was through him that the Milanese school
became one of the most accurate and observing in regard to antiquity and
to costume. Mengs has noticed that no artist could surpass Vinci in the
grand effect of his chiaro-scuro. He instructed his pupils to make as
cautious a use of light as of a gem, not lavishing it too freely, but
reserving it always for the best place. And hence we find in his, and in
the best of his disciples’ paintings, that fine relief, owing to which
the pictures, and in particular the countenances, seem as if starting
from the canvass.”


Almost of equal value with the pictures of this immortal artist, are his
writings, part of which, unfortunately, have been lost, and others have
remained in manuscript. His _Trattato della Pittura_, &c., appeared for
the first time in 1651. It was translated into English, and published by
John Senex, London, 1721. The most complete edition was published by
Manzi, in Italian, in 1817. The learned connoisseur, Count Algarotti,
esteemed this work so highly, that he regarded it the only work
necessary to be put into the hands of the student. “With a deep insight
into nature,” says Fiorillo, “Lionardo has treated in this book, of
light, shades, reflections, and particularly of backgrounds. He
perfectly understood, and has explained in the best way, that natural
bodies being bounded mostly by curved lines, which have a natural
softness, it is important to give this softness to the outlines; that
this can be done only by means of the ground on which the object is
represented; that the inner line of the surrounding ground, and the
outer line of the object, are one and the same; nay, that the figure of
the object becomes visible only by means of that which surrounds it;
that even the colors depend upon the surrounding objects, and mutually
weaken and heighten each other; that when objects of the same color are
to be represented, one before the other, different degrees of light must
be used to separate them from each other, since the mass of air between
the eye and the object lessens and softens the color in proportion to
the distance.” Among the works of Da Vinci, were Treatises on
Hydraulics, Anatomy, Perspective, Light and Shadow, and the Anatomy of
the Horse. The Ambrosian Library of Milan originally possessed sixteen
volumes of his manuscripts. The French, during their occupancy of Milan,
carried off twelve of these, (probably all there were then remaining)
but only three of them reached Paris, one of which was published under
the title of _Fragment d’un Traité sur les Mouvements du corps humain_.
Only one volume was returned to Milan by the Allies in 1815. What
abominable sacrilege! It is said that seven volumes more of his
manuscripts were in the collection of the King of Spain.


Da Vinci always carried in his pocket a book, in which he was in the
habit of sketching every remarkable face, object, and effect of nature
that struck his fancy; and these sketches supplied him with abundant
materials for his compositions. Caylus published a collection of
beautiful sketches and studies by Lionardo, under the title of _Recueil
de Tetes de Caractères et de Charges_, &c., 1730, of which there is also
a German edition. Two more were published at Milan in 1784, under the
titles of _Desseins de Leonardo da Vinci, Gravés par Ch. T. Gerli, and
Osservazioni sopra i Disegni di Lionardo dall’ Abbate Amoretti_, &c.
Besides these appeared in London in 1796, engravings of the numerous
sketches of Lionardo in the possession of the King of England, entitled
_Imitations of Original Designs of Lionardo da Vinci_, &c., published by
Chamberlaine, folio. See also the _Life of Lionardo da Vinci_ in German,
published at Halle in 1819.


“His Last Supper has been stated in history as an imperfect production,
although at the same time all history is agreed in celebrating it as one
of the most beautiful paintings that ever proceeded from the hand of
man. It was painted for the Refectory of the Dominican fathers at Milan,
and may be pronounced a compendium, not only of all that Lionardo taught
in his books, but also of what he embraced in his studies. He here gave
expression to the exact point of time best adapted to animate his
history, which is the moment when the Redeemer addresses his disciples,
saying, ‘One of you will betray me.’ Then each of his innocent followers
is seen to start as if struck with a thunderbolt; those at a distance
seem to interrogate their companions, as if they think they must have
mistaken what he had said; others, according to their natural
disposition, appear variously affected; one of them swoons away, one
stands lost in astonishment, a third rises in indignation, while the
very simplicity and candor depicted upon the countenance of a fourth,
seem to place him beyond the reach of suspicion. But Judas instantly
draws in his countenance, and while he appears as it were attempting to
give it an air of innocence, the eye rests upon him in a moment, as the
undoubted traitor. Vinci himself used to observe, that for the space of
a whole year he employed his time in meditating how he could best give
expression to the features of so bad a heart; and that being accustomed
to frequent a place where the worst characters were known to assemble,
he there met with a physiognomy to his purpose; to which he also added
the features of many others. In his figures of the two saints James,
presenting fine forms, most appropriate to the characters, he availed
himself of the same plan, and being unable with his utmost diligence to
invest that of Christ with a superior air to the rest, he left the head
in an unfinished state, as we learn from Vasari, though Armenini
pronounced it exquisitely complete. The rest of the picture, the
table-cloth with its folds, the whole of the utensils, the table, the
architecture, the distribution of the lights, the perspective of the
ceiling (which, in the tapestry of S. Pietro, at Rome, is changed almost
into a hanging garden), all was conducted with the most exquisite care;
all was worthy of the finest pencil in the world. Had Lionardo desired
to follow the practice of his age in painting in fresco, the art at this
time would have been in possession of this treasure. But being always
fond of attempting new methods, he painted this master-piece upon a
peculiar ground, formed of distilled oils, which was the reason that it
gradually detached itself from the wall. About half a century
subsequent to the execution of this wonderful work, when Armenini saw
it, it was already _half decayed_: and Scanelli, who examined it in
1642, declared that it ‘_was with difficulty he could discern the
history as it had been_.’ Nothing now remains except the heads of three
apostles, which may be said to be rather sketched than painted.”--_Lanzi._


The great loss of the original picture is in some measure compensated by
several excellent copies, some of which are by Lionardo’s most eminent
disciples; the best are, that by Marco Uggione, at the Carthusians of
Pavia; another in the Refectory of the Franciscans at Lugano, by
Bernardino Luini; and one in La Pace at Milan, by Gio. Paolo Lomazzo.
Fuseli, lecturing on the copy by Marco Uggione, says, “the face of the
Saviour is an abyss of thought, and broods over the immense revolution
in the economy of mankind, which throngs inwardly on his absorbed
eye--as the Spirit creative in the beginning over the water’s darksome
wave--undisturbed and quiet. It could not be lost in the copy before us;
how could its sublime expression escape those who saw the original? It
has survived the hand of time in the study which Lionardo made in
crayons, exhibited with most of the attendant heads in the British
Gallery, and even in the feeble transcripts of Pietro Testa. I am not
afraid of being under the necessity of retracting what I am going to
advance, that neither during the splendid period immediately subsequent
to Lionardo, nor in those which succeeded to our own time, has a face of
the Redeemer been produced, which, I will not say equalled, but
approached Lionardo’s conception, and in quiet and simple features of
humanity, embodied divine, or what is the same, incomprehensible and
infinite powers.” In 1825, Prof. Phillips examined the remains of this
picture, and says, “Of the heads, there is not one untouched, and many
are totally ruined. Fortunately, that of the Saviour is the most pure,
being but faintly retouched; and it presents, even yet, a most perfect
image of the Divine character. Whence arose the story of its not having
been finished, is now difficult to conceive, and the history itself
varies among the writers who have mentioned it. But perhaps a man so
scrupulous as Lionardo da Vinci, in the definement of character and
expression, and so ardent in his pursuit of them, might have expressed
himself unsatisfied, where all others could only see perfection.”


Lionardo da Vinci possessed the rare faculty of being able to ascertain
the just medium between hasty and labored work; and though very minute
in the finishing of his pictures, yet he painted in a free and
unrestrained style. The same master who consumed four years on the
portrait of Mona Lisa Giocondo, gave one of the earliest and best
lessons to the age, in the great style, in his memorable painting of the
Last Supper. This power of attending at the same moment to the minutiæ
of detail, and to the grand and leading principles of the art or science
in which a person may be employed, shows a species of universality of
power that may be reckoned among the highest perfections of the human
mind; and it places Da Vinci not merely in the rank of the first of
painters, but of the greatest of men.


Da Vinci was never satisfied with his works, and Lanzi finds the same
fault with him that Apelles did with Protogenes--his not knowing when to
take his hand from his work. Phidias himself, says Tully, bore in his
mind a more beautiful Minerva and a grander Jove than he was capable of
exhibiting with his chisel. It is prudent counsel that teaches us to
aspire to the best, but to rest satisfied with attaining what is good.
“Vinci,” says Lanzi, “was never satisfied with his labors, if he did not
execute them as perfectly as he had conceived them; and being unable to
reach the high point proposed with a mortal hand, he sometimes only
designed his work, or conducted it only to a certain degree of
completion. Sometimes he devoted to it so long a period as almost to
renew the example of the ancient who employed seven years over his
picture (Protogenes’ Ialysus and his Dog). But as there was no limit to
the discovery of fresh beauties in that work, so in the opinion of
Lomazzo it happens with the perfections of Vinci’s paintings, including
even those which Vasari and others allude to as left imperfect.” Lanzi
says it is certain that he left some of his works only half finished.
“Such is his Epiphany, in the Ducal Gallery at Florence, and his Holy
Family, in the Archbishop’s palace at Milan.” Others he finished in the
most exquisite manner. “He was not satisfied with only perfecting the
heads, counterfeiting the shining of the eyes, the pores of the skin,
the roots of the hair, and even the beating of the arteries; but he
likewise portrayed each separate garment, and every accessory, with
equal minuteness. Thus in his landscapes, also, there was not a single
herb, or leaf of a tree, which he had not taken, like a portrait, from
the face of nature; and even to his very leaves he gave a peculiar air,
fold, and position best adapted to represent their rustling in the wind.
While he bestowed his attention in this manner to minutiæ, he at the
same time, as is observed by Mengs, led the way to a more enlarged and
dignified style; entered into the most abstruse inquiries as to the
source and nature of expression--the most philosophical and elevated
branch of the art--and smoothed the way for the appearance of
Raffaelle.” Vinci spent four years on his portrait of Mona Lisa


The Last Supper of Lionardo da Vinci was painted in the Refectory of the
Dominican convent of S. Maria della Grazia, at Milan. It was considered
one of the proudest monuments of that city. While forming the plan of
its composition, Da Vinci meditated profoundly on the subject; and
having prepared himself by long study, and above all by a closer
examination of nature, he began the execution by repeated sketches, both
of the whole design, and of all its individual parts. He used to
frequent the accustomed haunts of persons resembling, in their character
and habits, those whom he was about to introduce in his picture; and as
often as he met with any attitudes, groups, or features which suited his
purpose, he sketched them in his tablets, which he always carried with
him. Having nearly finished the other apostles in this way, he had left
the head of Judas untouched for a long time, as he could find no
physiognomy which satisfied him, or came up to the ideas he had formed
of such a villainous and treacherous character.

The prior of the convent grew impatient at being so long incommoded in
that essential branch of monastic discipline which was carried on in the
refectory or dining hall, where the picture was being painted, and
complained to the Grand Duke, who called on the artist to explain the
delay. Da Vinci excused himself by saying that he worked at it two
whole hours every day. The pious head of the house renewed his
representations with great warmth, and alleged that Lionardo had only
one head to finish; and that so far from working two hours a day, he had
not been near the place for almost twelve months. Again summoned before
the prince, the painter thus defended himself. “It is true I have not
entered the convent for a long time; but it is not less true that I have
been employed every day at least two hours upon the picture. The head of
Judas remains to be executed, and in order to give it a physiognomy
suitable to the excessive wickedness of the character, I have for more
than a year past been daily frequenting the Borghetto, morning and
evening, where the lowest refuse of the capital live; but I have not yet
found the features I am in quest of. These once found, the picture shall
be finished in a day. If, however,” he added, “I still am unsuccessful
in my search, I shall rest satisfied with the face of the Prior himself,
which would suit my purpose extremely well; only that I have for a long
time been hesitating about taking such a liberty with him in his own
convent.” It is hardly necessary to add that the Duke was perfectly
satisfied with this apology. The artist soon after met with his Judas,
and finished his great work. It is stated by several Italian writers
that Da Vinci, out of revenge, did actually take this liberty with the


The series of drawings for the celebrated work of the Last Supper, which
were formerly in the Ambrosian Library at Milan, are now in the
possession of Sir Thomas Baring. From the great injuries which that
sublime composition has sustained, these may be considered as among the
most precious reliques of this master. The drawing which represents the
head of the Saviour is magnificent, and probably superior to the same
head in the picture, which is said to have been left unfinished. Whether
this circumstance arose from the troubles which then existed in Italy,
and in which the Sforza family were so immediately engaged, or from a
feeling on the part of the artist, that he had not been able to surpass
that sublimity of character to which he had attained in his first
design, and therefore left the same to a more happy moment, may now be
matter of speculative conjecture.


Francis I. was so struck with admiration when he first saw the Last
Supper of Da Vinci, that he resolved to carry it to France. For this
purpose he attempted to saw it from the wall; but finding that he could
not detach it without destroying the picture, he abandoned the project.


The authenticated works of Da Vinci are exceedingly scarce; he bestowed
so much labor upon them that they were never very numerous, and time and
casualty has reduced the number. It is said that one of the proprietors
of the Orleans collection destroyed some of the most capital works of Da
Vinci and Correggio from conscientious scruples! The most celebrated are
the Mona Lisa Giocondo, in the Louvre; a lovely picture called La Vierge
aux Rochers; a Leda, in the collection of Prince Kaunitz at Vienna;
Christ disputing with the Doctors, in the Pamfili palace at Rome; John
the Baptist, formerly in the French Museum; the portrait of Lodovico
Maria Sforza, in the Dresden gallery. There are a few others in the
collections at Florence, Milan, and Rome. There are some in England; but
the authenticity of most of these, to say the least, is extremely
doubtful. The Christ disputing with the Doctors, in the National
gallery, is doubtless a copy by some one of his pupils. The original, as
before mentioned, is at Rome. Passavant says, “The numerous copies or
repetitions of this picture, now existing, imply the estimation in which
the original cartoon was held, and are additional proofs of its being an
original work. One of these I saw in the Spada gallery at Rome; two
others at Milan--one in the Episcopal palace, and the other in the house
of the Consigliere Commendatore Casati.” Most of the pictures claimed
to be original by Da Vinci, even in the public galleries of Europe, were
executed by his pupils and imitators, several of whom copied and
imitated him with great success. Lanzi says that Lorenzo di Credi
approached him so closely, that one of his copies of Lionardo could
hardly be distinguished from the original. For a list of his imitators,
see Spooner’s Dictionary of Painters, Engravers, Sculptors, and
Architects, table of Imitators.


The art of working in niello, which led Maso Finiguerra, a sculptor and
worker in gold and silver, to the invention of copper plate engraving,
was very early practiced in Italy. In the 15th century, and long before,
it was the practice to decorate the church and other plate with designs
in niello; and also caskets, sword and dagger hilts, and various kinds
of ornaments. The designs were hatched with a steel point in gold or
silver, then engraved with the burin, and run in while hot, with a
composition called _niello_, an Italian term derived from the Latin
_nigellum_--a compound of silver, lead, copper, sulphur, and borax, used
by the ancients, and easily fusible, and of a dark color. The
superfluous parts of the niello were then scraped away, and the surface
polished, when the engraved part appeared with all the effect of a
print. Lanzi says, “this substance (nigellum) being incorporated with
the silver, and the whole being polished, produced the effect of
shadows, which, contrasted with the clearness of the silver, gave the
entire work the appearance of a chiaro-scuro in silver.” There are many
very beautiful specimens of this species of work, particularly vases,
cups, and _paxes_, or images of Christ on the cross, which the people in
Catholic countries kiss after service, called the kiss of peace. The
most remarkable known specimen in niello, is a very curious cup,
preserved in the British Museum. Its total height, including the
statuette of a cherub on the top of the lid, is about three feet. It is
composed of silver, and the whole, except the border and statuette, is
embellished with various fanciful designs. For a long time it was the
property of the noble family of van Bekerhout, who made a present of it
to Calonia, the sculptor of the statue of John van Eyck, in the Academy
of Arts at Bruges. The widow of this artist sold it to Mr. Henry Farrer,
who afterwards disposed of it to the British Museum for the sum of £350.

Remarkable as this process was, there arose out of it another
incalculably more so. It became a practice for goldsmiths, who wished to
preserve their designs, to take impressions of their plates with earth,
over which liquid sulphur was poured, and from which, when cold, the
earth was removed. But Maso Finiguerra, a goldsmith and sculptor of
Florence, and a pupil of the celebrated Masaccio, about the middle of
the 15th century, carried the process still further, for with a mixture
of soot and oil he filled the cavities of the engraving he had made, as
a preparation for niello, and by pressing damp paper upon it with a
roller, obtained impressions on the paper, having, as Vasari says, “Veni
vano come disegnate di penna”--all the appearance of drawings done with
a pen. Finiguerra was followed by Baccio Baldini, a goldsmith of
Florence, who, according to Vasari, employed the eminent artist Sandro
Botticelli, to design for him.

Lanzi says in 1801, a pax from the collection of the Grand Duke of
Florence, supposed to have been executed by Matteo Dei, an eminent
worker in niello in the early part of the 15th century, was taken to
pieces to examine the workmanship. The embellishments upon its surface
represented the Conversion of St. Paul, and on the niello being
extracted, the engraved work was found not at all deep; and ink and
paper being provided, twenty-five fine proof prints were struck from it,
which were distributed among a few eminent artists and connoisseurs. One
of them is now in the collection of the senator Martelli at Florence.

The arts are generally to be traced to a humble origin, and in these
works in niello, often discovering little taste, we recognize the cradle
of that of engraving on _copper_, to which engraving on _steel_ has
within the last few years succeeded. In the earliest efforts of this
kind, the lines produced were comparatively rude and unmeaning, and had
nothing more to recommend them than their merely representing a
particular sort of markings, or slight hatchings with a pen, without any
apparent degree of execution or expression. It was not long, however,
before this incipient art became indebted to the elegant etchings of the
great masters in painting, as well as to their drawings in pen and ink.
It acquired accuracy and taste from the drawings of Raffaelle, Michael
Angelo, and Lionardo da Vinci, which connoisseurs of our own time have
seen and admired. Some of those by Da Vinci were hatched in a square and
delicate manner, with a white fluid on dark colored paper; while those
of Michael Angelo and Raffaelle inclined more to the lozenge, in black
or brown ink. They even carried this style of hatching with the pencil
into their pictures, some of which adorn the Vatican, and into the
famous cartoons, which are the glory of the picture gallery at Hampton
Court; and by the persevering application of the graver, the art has
been advancing to the present period.

When compared with painting, it appears but of recent invention, being
coeval only with the art of printing.

It is for us to rejoice in the immense power that it now possesses, and
to avoid the error pointed out by Lord Bacon when he said: “We are too
prone to pass those ladders by which the arts are reared, and generally
to reflect all the merit to the last new performer.”


This great architect, and learned man, was born in 1632. Though he was
of a weak bodily constitution in childhood, he possessed a most
precocious mind, and early manifested a strong inclination for the paths
of science and philosophy. At the age of thirteen, he invented an
astronomical instrument, a pneumatic engine, and another instrument of
use in gnomonics. When fourteen years old, he was entered as a gentleman
commoner at Wadham College, Oxford; and during the period of his
collegiate course, he associated with Hooke, (whom he assisted in his
_Micrographia_) and other scientific men, whose meetings laid the
foundation of the Royal Society. In 1653, he was elected a Fellow of All
Souls’ College; and by the age of twenty-four, he was known to the
learned of Europe, for his various theories, inventions, and
improvements, a list of which would be too long for insertion. In 1657
he was appointed to the professor’s chair of astronomy at Gresham
College, London, and three years after, to that of the Savilian
professor at Oxford. On the establishment of the Royal Society, he
contributed largely to the success and reputation of that learned body.


Wren possessed great self-command, as appears from the following
anecdote of him and his uncle, the Bishop of Ely, whom the Parliament
had imprisoned in the Tower. Some time before the decease of Oliver
Cromwell, Wren became acquainted with Mr. Claypole, who married Oliver’s
favorite daughter. Claypole, being a lover of mathematics, had conceived
a great esteem for young Wren, and took all occasions to cultivate his
friendship, and to court his conversation, particularly by frequent
invitations to his house and table. It happened in one of these
conversations that Cromwell came into the room as they sat at dinner,
and without any ceremony, as was his usual way in his own family, he
took his place. After a little time, fixing his eyes on Wren, he said,
“Your uncle has been long confined in the Tower.” “He has so, sir,”
replied Wren, “but he bears his afflictions with great patience and
resignation.” “He may come out if he will,” returned Cromwell. “Will
your highness permit me to tell him so?” asked Wren. “Yes,” answered the
Protector, “you may.” As soon as Wren could retire with propriety, he
hastened with no little joy to the Tower, and informed his uncle of all
the particulars of his interview with Cromwell; to which the Bishop
replied with warm indignation, that “it was not the first time he had
received the like intimation from that miscreant, but he disdained the
terms proposed for his enlargement, which were a mean acknowledgment of
his favor, and an abject submission to his detestable tyranny: that he
was determined to tarry the Lord’s leisure, and owe his deliverance to
him only.” This expected deliverance was not far distant, for he was
released from confinement by the Restoration.


It is often seen, that when kings patronize genius, instead of allowing
it to develop itself according to its own laws, they hamper it according
to their own preconceived fancies. The palace at Hampton Court is
censured for its ill proportions; but Cunningham says that Wren moved
under sad restraints from the commissioners in one place, and the court
in the other. When the lowness of the cloisters under the apartments of
the palace was noticed by one of the courtiers, King William turned on
his heel like a challenged sentinel, and answered sharply, “Such were my
express orders!” The rebuked nobleman bowed, and acquiesced in the royal
taste. When St. Paul’s Cathedral was nearly completed, the “nameless
officials” called commissioners of that edifice, decided to have a stone
balustrade upon the upper cornice, and declared their determination to
that effect, “unless Sir Christopher Wren should set forth that it was
contrary to the principles of architecture.” To this resolution, in
which blind ignorance gropes its way, calling on knowledge to set its
stumblings right, Wren returned the following answer: “I take leave
first to declare I never designed a balustrade. Persons of little skill
in architecture did expect, I believe, to see something that had been
used in Gothic structures, and _ladies think nothing well without an
edging_.” After this deserved satire, he showed clearly, at considerable
length, that a balustrade was not in harmony with the general plan and
unique combinations of the edifice; but his opinion was disregarded, and
the balustrade was placed on the cornice.


While the discussions were going on whether St. Paul’s Cathedral should
be restored, or the entire edifice be rebuilt, the great fire in London,
in 1666, not only decided this question, but opened an extensive field
for the display of Wren’s talents in various other metropolitan
buildings. One of his immediate labors, arising from the conflagration,
was a survey of the whole of the ruins, and the preparation of a plan
for laying out the devastated space in a regular and commodious manner,
with wide streets, and piazzas at intervals, which he laid before
Parliament; but his plans were not adopted, and the new streets arose in
that dense and intricate maze of narrow lanes, which even now are but
slowly disappearing before modern improvements. Furthermore, instead of
the line of spacious quays along the Thames which Wren proposed, the
river is shut out from view by wharfs and warehouses, to such an extent
as to render any adequate scheme for the improvement of its banks hardly
practicable. London might have arisen from her ashes the finest city in
the world, had Wren’s plans been followed.


Wren prepared several designs and models for this great edifice. The
composition of his favorite plan was compact and simple, forming a
general octagonal mass, surmounted by a cupola, and extended on its west
side by a portico, and a short nave or vestibule within. The plan
adopted, exhibits an almost opposite mode of treatment, both as to
arrangement and proportions. While the first exhibits concentration and
uniform spaciousness, the other is more extended as to length, but
contracted in other respects, and the diagonal vistas that would have
been obtained in the other case, are altogether lost in this. The first
stone of the present edifice was laid June 21, 1675; the choir was
opened for divine service in December, 1697; and the whole was completed
in thirty-five years, the last stone on the summit of the lantern being
laid by the architect’s son Christopher, in 1710. Taken altogether, St.
Paul’s Cathedral is a truly glorious work, and its cupola is matchless
in beauty. There are few churches of the past or present day that can
vie with it in richness of design; and St. Peter’s, with its single
order and attic, appearing of much smaller dimensions than it really is,
cannot be put in comparison with it. For a description of this edifice,
see Spooner’s Dictionary of Painters, Engravers, Sculptors, and


This illustrious artist died in 1723, and was buried in the vault of St.
Paul’s Cathedral, the most enduring monument of his genius, under the
south aisle of the choir. Inscribed upon his tomb are four words “that
comprehend,” says Walpole, “his merit and his fame,” sublimely and
eloquently expressed: “Si monumentum quæris, circumspice”--“If thou
inquirest for a monument, look around thee!”


Wren’s small stature, and his intimacy with Charles II., are humorously
shown in an anecdote preserved by Seward. The king, on walking through
his newly erected palace at Newmarket, said, “These rooms are too low.”
Wren went up to the king and replied, “An please your majesty, I think
them high enough.” Whereupon Charles, stooping down to Sir Christopher’s
stature, answered with a smile, “On second thoughts, I think so too.”


Among the friends of this gifted man, were Flaxman, Fuseli, and the
talented John Horne Tooke. His friendship with the last nearly proved
mischievous to Banks, and perhaps would certainly have been so, had it
not been for the uprightness of his character. During those perilous
days, when “revolution” and “mad equality” were causing such
commotions, suspicion fell upon the politician, who was subjected to an
official examination and a trial, Banks being also implicated in the
charge, although his offence consisted at most in listening to the
other’s declamations. “I remember,” says his daughter Lavinia, “when
Tooke, and Hardy, and others were arrested on the charge of high
treason, that an officer waited on my father with an order from the
Secretary of the State to go to his office. I chanced to be in the next
room, and the door being partly open, I heard all that passed. My father
only requested to be allowed to go into his study, and give directions
to his workmen; this was complied with, and he then accompanied the
messenger. I said nothing to my mother of what I had heard, since father
had been silent for fear of exciting unnecessary apprehensions; but I
sat with much trouble at heart for several hours, when to my
inexpressible joy I heard his well known knock at the door, and ran to
greet his return--a return rendered doubly happy, since his own simple
and manly explanation had acquitted him of all suspicion of treasonable
designs, or of a thought injurious to his country.” The intercourse
between Banks and his daughter Lavinia was of the most delightful
character. His chief pleasure for many years was in her instruction; he
superintended her education in all things, and more particularly in
drawing; she sat beside him whilst he modeled, accompanied him in his
walks, and in the evenings cheered him with music, of which he was
passionately fond. A most touching instance of filial and paternal love!


As Banks never received anything like the encouragement which he
deserved, the character of his genius must be sought more in the works
that he sketched, than those that he executed in marble. Among his
sketches, the poetical abounded, and these were founded chiefly on
Homer. Several splendid sketches are his Andromache lamenting with her
handmaidens over the body of Hector, the Venus rising from the Sea,
shedding back her tresses as she ascends, and a Venus bearing Æneas
wounded from the Battle. “In his classical sketches,” says Cunningham,
“the man fully comes out: we see that he had surrendered his whole soul
to those happier days of sculpture when the human frame was unshackled
and free, and the dresses as well as deeds of men were heroic; that the
bearing of gods was familiar to his dreams; and that it was not his
fault if he aspired in vain to be the classic sculptor of his age and
nation.” His monument to the only daughter of Sir Brooke Boothby, now in
Ashbourne church, Derbyshire, represents the child when six years old,
lying asleep on her couch in all her innocence and beauty. “Simplicity
and elegance,” says Dr. Mavor, “appear in the workmanship, tenderness
and innocence in the image.” The sculptor’s daughter Lavinia says, “He
was a minute observer of nature, and often have I seen him stop in his
walk to remark an attitude, or some group of figures, and unconsciously
trace the outline in air with his finger as if drawing paper had been
before him. He would in the same way remark folds of drapery, and note
them in his mind, or sketch them on paper, to be used when occasion


His daughter Lavinia often marvelled at his patience in pointing out the
imperfections or beauties of drawings and models submitted by young
artists to his inspection. Even when little hope of future excellence
appeared, he was careful not to wound the feelings of a race whose
sensitiveness he too well knew. He would say, “This and better will
do,--but this and worse will never do,” and ended by recommending
industry and perseverance. One morning a youth of about thirteen years
of age, came to the door of Banks with drawings in his hand. Owing to
some misgiving of mind, the knock which he intended should be modest and
unassuming, was loud and astounding, and the servant who opened the door
was in no pleasant mood with what he imagined to be forwardness in one
so young. Banks, happening to overhear the chiding of the servant, went
out and said with much gentleness, “What do you want with me, young
man?” “I want, sir,” said the boy, “that you should get me to draw at
the academy.” “That,” replied the sculptor, “is not in my power, for no
one is admitted there but by ballot, and I am only one of those persons
on whose pleasure it depends. But you have got a drawing there--let me
look at it.” He examined it for a moment, and said, “Time enough for the
academy yet, my little man! go home and mind your schooling,--try and
make a better drawing of the Apollo, and in a month come again and let
me see it.” The boy went home, drew with three-fold diligence, and on
that day month appeared again at the door of Banks with a new drawing in
his hand. The sculptor liked this drawing better than he did the other,
gave him a week to improve it, encouraged him much, and showed him the
various works of art in his own study. He went away and returned in a
week, when the Apollo was visibly improved--he conceived a kindness for
the boy, and said if he were spared he would distinguish himself. The
prediction has been fulfilled,--the academician Mulready has attained
wide distinction.


In person, Banks was tall, with looks silent and dignified, and an
earnestness of carriage that well became him; he spoke seldom; he had a
winning sweetness in his way of address, and a persuasive manner which
was not unfelt by his academic companions. He was simple and frugal in
his general style of living, yet liberal to excess in all that related
to the encouragement of art; his purse was open to virtuous sufferers,
and what is far more, he shrank not from going personally into the
houses of the poor and sick, to console and aid them in adversity. In
his younger days it was his custom to work at his marbles in the
solitude of the Sabbath morning, when his assistants were not at hand to
interrupt him; but as he advanced in life he discontinued the practice,
and became an example to his brother artists in the observance of the
Sabbath day. He grew strict in religious duty, and, like Flaxman, added
another to the number of those devout sculptors, whose purity of life,
and reach of intellect, are an honor to their country.


That Flaxman appreciated and honored Banks’ genius, he was ever ready to
give strong proof.--“We have had a sculptor,” he says in one of his
lectures, “in the late Mr. Banks, whose works have eclipsed the most, if
not all his continental cotemporaries.” On another occasion--that of the
sale of the sculptor’s models--Mrs. Siddons and Flaxman were seated
together, when the auctioneer began to expatiate upon the beauty of an
antique figure, saying, “Behold where the deceased artist found some of
his beauties.” “Sir,” exclaimed Flaxman, more warmly than was his wont,
“you do Mr. Banks much wrong, _he_ wanted no assistance.”

Banks died in 1805. In Westminster Abbey a tablet is erected with this
inscription, “In memory of Thomas Banks, Esq., R. A., Sculptor, whose
superior abilities in the profession added a lustre to the arts of his
country, and whose character as a man reflected honor on human nature.”


Cunningham says, “He was passionately fond of drawing and modelling, and
labored early and late to acquire knowledge in his profession; yet he
was so free from all pride, or so obliging by nature, that he would run
on any errand; nor did he hesitate to relate, in the days of his wealth
and eminence, how he used to carry pots of porter to his master’s maids
on a washing day, and with more success than Barry did when he treated
Burke, ‘for,’ says he, ‘I always crept slowly along to save the head of
foam that the lasses might taste it in all its strength.’ Such traits as
these, however, I cannot consent to set down as incontrovertible proofs
of a mean and vulgar spirit; nay, they often keep company with real
loftiness of nature.”


In 1760, Nollekens proceeded to Italy, by the way of Paris. On arriving
in the French capital, he presented himself at the house of an uncle
there, told his name, and claimed kindred. The old gentleman stood with
his door half opened, put a few cool questions, and seemed to doubt the
veracity of his story; but at length catching a glimpse of a gold
watch-chain, he invited him to dinner. The pride of the young artist,
however, had been deeply touched--he declined the invitation, and went
his way. On reaching Rome, the friendless youth found his stock reduced
to some twenty guineas; and dreading want, and what was worse,
dependence, he set about mending his fortune with equal despatch and
success. He modelled and carved in stone a bas-relief, which brought him
ten guineas from England; and in the next year the Society of Arts voted
him fifty guineas for his Timoclea before Alexander, which was in
marble. He was now noticed by the artists of Rome, and lived on friendly
terms with Barry, who was waging a useless and vexatious war with
interested antiquarians and visitors of wealth and virtu. Indeed, such
was the gentleness of his nature, and his mild and unassuming demeanor,
that he never made enemies except amongst those who could have done no
one credit as friends.


During Nollekens’ residence at Rome, Garrick came one day into the
Vatican, and observing the young sculptor, said, “Ah! what? let me look
at you! You are the little fellow to whom we gave the prizes in the
Society of Arts? eh!” Nollekens answered, “Yes,” upon which the actor
shook him kindly by the hand, inquired concerning his studies, and
invited him to breakfast the next morning. He did more--he sat to him
for his bust, and when the model was finished, he gave him twelve
guineas. This was the first bust he ever modelled.


The bust of Sterne, which he afterwards executed at Rome in terra cotta,
materially increased his reputation; and the applause that it received
probably warned the sculptor of his talents in that branch of the art,
in which he afterwards became so distinguished. It forms a truly
admirable image of the original, and Nollekens, to his last hour,
alluded to it with pleasure. “Dance,” he used to say, “made my picture
with my hand leaning on Sterne’s head--he was right.” This striking bust
is now in the collection of Mr. Agar Ellis. His talents in bust
sculpture were universally acknowledged, and when Mr. Coutts, the
banker, applied to Fuseli, then keeper of the Royal Academy, for the
best sculptor to execute his bust, the painter replied, “I can have no
difficulty in telling you; for though Nollekens is weak in many things,
in a bust he stands unrivalled. Had you required a group of figures, I
should have recommended Flaxman, but for a bust, give me Nollekens.”


While he was modelling the bust of Dr. Johnson, the latter came one day
accompanied by Miss Williams, a blind lady; and being very impatient of
the protracted sittings, he came quite late, which so displeased the
sculptor that he cried out, “Now, Doctor, you _did_ say you would give
my bust half an hour before dinner, and the dinner has been waiting this
long time.” “Nolly, be patient, Nolly,” said the sage, making his way to
the bust. “How is this, Nolly, you have loaded the head with hair.” “All
the better,” returned the artist, “it will make you look more like one
of the ancient sages or poets.--I’ll warrant now, you wanted to have it
in a wig.” The Doctor remonstrated seriously, saying, “a man, sir,
should be portrayed as he appears in company”--but the sculptor
persisted. The bust is an admirable work of art, besides being a
faithful likeness.


When Chantrey sent his bust of Horne Tooke to the Exhibition, he was
young and unfriended; but the great merit of the work did not escape the
eye of Nollekens. He lifted it from the floor, set it before him, moved
his head to and fro, and having satisfied himself of its excellence,
turned to those who were arranging the works for the Exhibition, and
said, “There’s a very fine work: let the man who made it be
known--remove one of my busts, and put this in its place, for it well
deserves it.” Often afterwards, when desired to model a bust, he said in
his most persuasive way, “Go to Chantrey, he is the man for a bust; he
will make a good bust of you--I always recommend him.” He sat for his
bust to Chantrey, who always mentioned his name with tenderness and


Smith gives a rather amusing account of a lady in weeds for her husband,
who “came drooping like a willow to the sculptor, desiring a monument,
and declaring that she did not care what money was expended on the
memory of one she loved so. ‘Do what you please, but oh! do it quickly,’
were her parting orders. Nollekens went to work, made the design,
finished the model, and began to look for a block of marble to carve it
from, when in dropped the lady--she had been absent some three months.
‘Poor soul,’ said the sculptor, when she was announced, ‘I thought she
would come soon, but I am ready.’ The lady came light of foot, and
lighter of look. ‘Ah, how do you do, Mr. Nollekens? Well, you have not
commenced the model?’ ‘Aye, but I have though,’ returned the sculptor,
‘and there it stands, finished.’ ‘There it is, indeed,’ sighed the lady,
throwing herself into a chair; they looked at one another for a minute’s
space or so--she spoke first. ‘These, my good friend, are, I know, early
days for this little change’--she looked at her dress, from which the
early profusion of crape had disappeared,--‘but since I saw you, I have
met with an old Roman acquaintance of yours, who has made me an offer,
and I don’t know how he would like to see in our church a monument of
such expense to my late husband. Indeed, on second thoughts, it would
perhaps be considered quite enough, if I got our mason to put up a mural
tablet, and that you know he can cut very prettily.’ ‘My charge, madam,
for the model,’ said the sculptor, ‘is one hundred guineas.’ ‘Enormous!
enormous!’ said the lady, but drew out her purse and paid it.” The
mutability of human nature!


Cunningham says that a portion of his sitters “were charmed into
admirers by the downright bluntness of his compliments, which they
regarded as so many testimonies on oath of their beauty. As a specimen
of his skill in the difficult art of pleasing, take the following
anecdotes. He was modelling the head of a lady of rank, when she forgot
herself, changed her position, and looked more loftily than he wished.
‘Don’t look so scorney, woman,’ said the sculptor, modelling all the
while, ‘else you will spoil my bust--and you’re a very fine woman--I
think it will make one of my very best busts.’ Another time he said to a
lady, who had a _serious_ squint, ‘Look for a minute the other way, for
then I shall get rid of a slight shyness in your eye, which, though not
ungraceful in life, is unusual in art.’ On another occasion, a lady with
some impatience in her nature was sitting for her portrait; every minute
she changed her position, and with every change of position put on a
change of expression, until his patience gave way. ‘Lord, woman!’
exclaimed the unceremonious sculptor, ‘what’s the matter how handsome
you are, if you won’t sit still till I model you!’ The lady smiled, and
sat ever afterwards like a lay figure.”


It has been remarked by some close observer, that modesty is like shadow
in a picture--too much of it obscures real excellence, while the proper
medium exhibits all parts in agreeable relief. John Riley, an English
portrait painter who flourished in the latter part of the seventeenth
century, was a proof that one may have a superabundance of this in
itself excellent quality. Walpole says, “He was one of the best native
artists who had flourished in England; but he was very modest, had the
greatest diffidence of himself, and was easily disgusted with his own
works. His talents were obscured by the fame rather than by the merit of
Kneller, and with a quarter of the latter’s vanity, he might have
persuaded the world that he was as great a master.” He was but little
noticed until the death of Lely, when Chiffinch being persuaded to sit
to him, the picture was shown, and recommended him to the king. Charles
II. sat to him, but almost discouraged the bashful artist from pursuing
a profession so proper for him. Looking at the picture, he cried, “Is
this like me? Then od’s fish, I’m an ugly fellow!” This discouraged
Riley so much that he could not bear the picture, though he sold it for
a large price. However, he kept on, and had the satisfaction of painting
James II. and his Queen, and also their successors, who appointed him
their painter. Riley died three years after the accession of William and
Mary, in 1691.


Edward Norgate, an English painter of excellent judgment in pictures,
was sent into Italy by the Earl of Arundel to purchase works of art. On
returning, however, he was disappointed in receiving remittances, and
was obliged to remain some time in Marseilles. Being totally unknown
there, he used frequently to walk for several hours in a public part of
the city, with a most dejected air; and while thus engaged, he was
occasionally observed by a merchant, who, doubtless impelled by kind
feelings, ventured one day to speak to the wanderer, and told him that
so much walking would have soon brought him to the end of his journey,
when Norgate confessed his inability to proceed for want of money. The
merchant then inquired into his circumstances, and told him that
perceiving he was able to walk at least twenty miles a day, if he would
set out on his journey homeward, he would furnish him handsomely for a
foot traveler. By this assistance, Norgate arrived in his own country.


William Winde, a Dutch architect who visited England in the reign of
Charles II., erected, among other works, Buckingham House in St. James’
Park, for the Duke of Bucks. He had nearly finished this edifice, but
the payment was most sadly in arrears. Accordingly Winde enticed the
Duke one day to mount upon the leads, to enjoy the grand prospect. When
there, he coolly locked the trapdoor and threw the key over the parapet,
addressing his astounded patron, “I am a ruined man, and unless I have
your word of honor that the debts shall be paid, I will instantly throw
myself over.” “And what is to become of me?” asked the Duke. “You shall
go along with me!” returned the desperate architect. This prospect of
affairs speedily drew from the Duke the wished-for promise, and the
trapdoor was opened by a workman below, who was a party in the plot.


The freedom allowed in social intercourse is well illustrated by a
sketch in the account of Graham. William Wissing, a Dutch painter who
succeeded Sir Peter Lely in fashionable portrait painting in England,
was noted for his complaisant manners, which recommended him to most
people’s esteem, “In drawing his portraits, especially those of the fair
sex, he always took the _beautiful_ likeness; and when any lady came to
sit to him whose complexion was in any ways pale, he would commonly take
her by the hand and dance her about the room till she became warmer; by
which means he heightened her natural beauty, and made her fit to be
represented by his hand”!


Descamps says that Adrian Hanneman painted for the States of Holland an
emblematical subject of Peace, impersonated by a beautiful young female
habited in white satin, and seated on a throne. The picture was very
charming, so much so that the gallant burgomasters presented the living
model who served for it with a gratuity of 1000 florins!


This Dutch painter is chiefly known in England, for his successful
imitations of Vandyck. He spent some time there, but left in 1649,
saying, “He would never stay in a country where they cut off their
king’s head, and were not ashamed of the action.” Walpole remarks that
it would have been more sensible to say, he would not stay where they
cut off the head of a king who rewarded painters, and then defaced and
sold his collection.


[A] “I cannot forbear quoting Madame Hahn-Hahn’s reflections on the
Museum of Seville, and the custody of pictures in that city in 1841.

“‘It is wretched to see how these invaluable jewels of pictures are
preserved! Uncleaned’ (this is at least some comfort), ‘without the
necessary varnish, sometimes without frames, they lean against the
walls, or stand unprotected in the passages where they are copied.
Every dauber may mark his squares upon them, to facilitate his drawing;
and since these squares are permanent in some pictures in order to
spare these admirable artists the trouble of renewing them, the threads
have, in certain cases, begun to leave their impression on the picture.
The proof of this negligence is the fact that we found to-day the
mark of a finger-nail on the St. Augustine, which was not there on
the first day that we saw it. We can only thank God if nothing worse
than a finger-nail make a scar on the picture! It stands there on the
ground, without a frame, leaning against the wall. One might knock it
over, or kick one’s foot through it! There is to be sure a kind of
ragged custode sitting by, but if one were to give him a couple of
dollars he would hold his tongue; he is, moreover, always sleeping, and
yawns as if he would put his jaws out. He does not forget, however, on
these occasions to make the sign of the cross with his thumb, opposite
his open mouth, for fear the devils should fly in--such is the common
belief. You see clearly that with this amount of neglect and want
of order, the same fate awaits all the Murillos here as has already
befallen Leonardo’s Last Supper at Milan. These are all collected in
two public buildings, in the church of the Caridad and in the Museum.

‘The Caridad was a hospital or charitable institution. The pictures
were brought thither from Murillo’s own studio; there are five--Moses,
the Feeding of the Five Thousand, the St. Juan de Dios, a little
Salvator Mundi, and a small John the Baptist; the sixth, the pendant
to the St. Juan de Dios, the St. Elizabeth with the Sick, has been
carried to the Museum at Madrid. It is very questionable whether
these fine pictures will be still in the Caridad in ten years’ time.
Nothing would be easier than to smuggle out the two small pictures! A
painter comes--copies them--does not stand upon a few dollars more or
less--takes off the originals and leaves the copies behind in their
places, which are high up and badly lighted--the pictures are gone
for ever! This sort of proceeding is not impossible here, and Baron
Taylor’s purchases for Paris prove the fact. It cannot of course be
done without corruption and connivance on the part of the official
guardians; and after all one has hardly the courage to lament it. The
pictures are, in fact, saved--they are protected and duly valued;
whilst to me it is completely a matter of indifference whether a
custode, on account of this sort of sin, suffer a little more or a
little less in Purgatory.’”--Reisebriefe, ii. s. 126-8.

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

Charles I. of England, in 1530, purchased the Mantuan collection for
£20,000=> Charles I. of England, in 1630, purchased the Mantuan
collection for £20,000 {pg 263}

Fragment d’un Traité sur les Moveuments du corp humain=> Fragment d’un
Traité sur les Mouvements du corps humain {pg 275}

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