Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

fine style of his friend. The subject paintings, nearly five hundred in of the picture is Horatius Cocles at number; and his friends who, as his the bridge, and long passed in Paris end approached, appeared anxious to for the work of Poussin.

fix the dates, have not been successShortly after this, Poussin devoted ful. Nothing would certainly be more himself to the “ Ecstacy of St Paul,” interesting or instructive than to trace which was intended as a companion the progress of such a mind and mark 20 Raffaelle's Vision of Ezekiel, and its advances retrogressions oscillawhich the French think equal to the tions: but of that benefit we are dework of the great Italian master. The prived, and conjectural criticism must Cavaliere del Pozzo pronounces it the now, in a great degree, step into the " masterpiece of Poussin," and asserts place of more substantial knowledge. that France has her Raffaelle as well Like Titian, who died of the plague as Italy. It is undoubtedly a glori- at the age of vinety-nine, “ he imous composition, in which all is ma proved to the last," without feeling jesty, sublimity, and divine and rapt any abatement of his love and enthuenthusiasm and glorification ; while siasm for his art, or suffering his inthere is a chasteness and purity in the dustry in any degree to relax. In colouring which prevents it from 1653 he painted for the landscape standing out and fixing the eye when gardener, Le Notre, “ The Woman the soul ought to kindle with the taken in Adultery;" and, in the same loftiest and most hallowed emotions, year,“ The Adoration of the Wise and to hold communion and sympa- Men,” for the Minister of Finance. thy with the expression alone of the In 1655 appeared his Exposure of figures. In 1643, the Extreme Unc- Moses, containing one of the “ finest tion, which we have already noticed, landscapes he ever composed;" and was finished and sent to Paris, and much about the same time he paintspeedily followed by the others, which ed Moses striking the Rock, a subject he had agreed to paint for his friends of which he appears to have been in that capital. The Marriage of the reasonably fond, for he repeated it Virgin is feeble and not equal to either thrice. Stella, who had succeeded of the marriages in the Seven Sacra- him as painter to the King of France, ments, though even these have been and for whom this picture had been called failures. This gave occasion to executed, having communicated to the Parisians to say, that it was dif him some criticisins on his performficult to patch up a good marriage, ance, particularly relative to the depth even in painting. The Finding of of the basin into which the water Moses was, of all his works, that falls, he sent back the following anwhich attracted most applause in swer, which, for its soundness and Paris, and seems to have alarmed M. force of remark, is too important to de Chantelou for the previous pictures be omitted, and is as follows :which Poussin had done for him : his fears were, however, tranquillized by

• There is no difficulty here: I am not a letter from the painter, which dis

sorry it should be known that I do nothing plays a more intimate acquaintance

BY CHANCE, and that I understand perwith the principles of his art than fectly what a painter is permitted to do

with the subjects he has to represent, any thing (the Lectures of Reynolds which may be taken and understood either only excepted) which ever dropt from

as they have been, as they are, or as they the pen of a professional artist. In will be. The local disposition of the mi. the course of the next year, 1648, the racle must have been such as I have reprebeautiful picture of Rebecca with E- sented ; because, otherwise, the water could hiezer at the Well, in which he has neither have been collected, nor used to compressed all that elegance and supply the wants of so great a multitude of " antique decorum" of which he was people, but would have been dispersed on so great a master, was sent to enrich all sides. If, at the creation of the world, the collection of M. Pointel; and in

the earth had received one uniform figure, the same year was painted the fine

and the water had found neither channels landscape in which is introduced the

nor hollows, the surface would have been incident of Diogenes seeing a young

covered with it, and useless to animals ; man drink water from the hollow of things in order, and with relation to the

but from the beginning God disposed all his hand. It is difficult to mark the end for which he formed his work. Theresuccession of Poussin's

fore, at such a remarkable event as that of

numerous

Striking the Rock, we may well believe that distant water on which the ark floats, on a a corresponding miracle in the disposition level with the highest mountains. Nearer, of the ground took place. However, as it where the waters, pent up by rocks, form is not easy for every one to judge of works a cataract, a boat is forced down the fall, of art, one should be careful not to decide and the wretches who had sought safety in hastily."

it are perishing. But the most pathetic For our own parts, we know no- incident is brought close to the spectator. thing more pertinent and conclusive A mother in a boat is holding up her inthan these remarks, or so well calcu- rock, is evidently not out of reach of the

fant to its father, who, though upon a high lated to call a blush into the cheeks

water, and is only protracting life a little of connoisseurs, (if connoisseurs ever

One or two figures are seen above the sur. blush,) who, in speaking of works of face of the water endeavouring to escape ; art, have acquired a sort of half ab- the domestic animals are mingled with stract, half metaphorical slang, which their owners; and an enormous serpent, they discharge upon every occasion, to which seems to seek shelter on the highest the utter confusion and dismay of mountains, has been considered emblem.a. sense, meaning, and reason. Good tical of the wickedness which drew down taste is like good feeling, and good the fierce chastisement on man.” morals nothing but a result of a fine In addition to the impression which process of reasoning; and in a work this description is calculated to proof art, where that process cannot be duce on the mind of the reader, we apprehended and made palpable, as shall take the liberty to subjoin Mr in the admirable letter of vindication Opie's remarks on the colouring, and above quoted, we may conclude trés which are so admirably appropriate. hardiment that it is radically defective in design, however beautiful the

“ The whole mass is, with little variation, colouring, and however perfect the

of a sombre grey, the true resemblance of

a dark and humid atmosphere, by which drawing and expression of individual

every object is rendered indistinct and al. figures, or even groupes. The true

most colourless. This is both a faithful painter must do nothing “BY CHANCE. and a poetical conception of the subject.

Time, that enfeebles the genius of Nature seems faint, half dissolved, and others, seemed to impart fresh vigour verging on annihilation; and the pathetic to that of Poussin, who, at the age of solemnity, grandeur, and simplicity of the 66, began his four allegorical pictures effect, which can never be exceeded, is enof the Seasons, which he completed tirely derived from the painter’s having and sent to the Duke of Richelieu in judiciously departed from and gone in dihis 70th year. The Garden of Eden

rect opposition to general practice.” he chose to represent Spring; the But the glass of Poussin was now story of Boaz and Ruth formed the nearly run. Early in 1665 he was subject of Summer; Autumn was slightly affected by palsy, and the onaptly shadowed out by the two Is- ly work which he afterwards performraelites bearing the bunch of grapes; ed was the Samaritan Woman at the and in the Deluge he found a fit, aw- Well, which he transmitted to his ful, and impressive emblem of Win constant friend M. de Chantelou, with ter. Of all Poussin's works this last a note, where he says, THIS IS MY has been lauded the most; and were LAST WORK;, I have already one foot we to hazard an opinion on so diffi- in the grave. And shortly after, in cult a subject, we should, with a lit a letter written to M. Felibien, he tle hesitation, pronounce it not mere concludes with the following pathetic ly the masterpiece of Nicholas Pous- declaration : “It is all over with me." sin, but, with the single exception of Thesegloomy anticipations were thickthe Transfiguration, and perhaps one ened and darkened by the loss of his of the Scripture-pieces of Caravaggio, wife, which happened this year, and the noblest work of art which any which undoubtedly accelerated his age or country has had the honour to

own end. So powerfully bad he been produce. We shall allow our author affected by the shock, that he took ess to describe the furniture of the ten days to write the letter which

apcanvas.

prised his friend M. de Chantelou of “ The sun's disk is darkened with clouds; that melancholy event. He was senthe lightning shoots in forked flashes sible that his end was approaching, through the air ; nothing but the roofs of and prepared himself to meet death the highest houscs are visible above the with the dignity of a Christian philo

sopher. “A painful abscess and an communicate it) in dwelling upon the inflammation of the bowels were add- pure life and splendid performances ed to his other maladies ;" yet his of this most accomplished, venerable, fortitude continued unshaken and his and illustrious painter. understanding unimpaired till the 19th day of November, when he ex When we recollect that the genius pired without a struggle, in the se of Poussin has been appreciated by venty-second year of his age. He the kindred and comprehensive spirit left, in disposable property, about of Reynolds, we are deterred from 50,000 livres, (L. 2187 Sterling near- venturing any general criticism en his ly.) Poussin in his person was tall works. We may, however, be perand well proportioned, his complexion mitted to call the attention of our olive, and his hair, till towards the readers to the singular fact, that, with end of his life, black; his continued smaller canvas and fewer figures than and systematic temperance, added to other painters generally employ, none, a good constitution, prolonged a life perhaps, has ever succeeded so perwhich intense labour and study would fectly in expression, and in conveyotherwise have abridged. In a word, ing a deep, powerful, and lasting imhis general appearance was at once pression. Of this his picture of the modest and dignified, and expressive Deluge, the most admirable, or, at of the perfect freedom and sincerity least, the most admired, of all his of his mind.

works, is a splendid instance. It is To say that Poussin was deeply rem always when he adventures in the gretted, is to say what every newspa- highest and most difficult departments per hireling says of every pudding of his art that he is most successful, headed alderman when he has slipped and that he contrives, like that Nacable and cast off. Never private ture which he so unweariedly studied, man, perhaps, in a foreign country to produce the most splendid and was so deeply and sincerely lamented. magnificent effects, and that by means He was formed by nature to secure apparently too simple and inadequate. the esteem and to knit together the His taste is austere, but just; there hearts of those around them. His is nothing superfluous, and nothing learning had no tinge of pedantry, deficient. His women want the voand his vivacity was so calm, tempe- luptuous air with which other paintrate, and tranquil, as to admit no ap ers seek to invest their Venuses and proximation to heedless levity or bois- Graces, their Madonnas and Saints ; terous mirth.

His manners were but they have a beauty of their own, simple, easy, and natural; his con not the languishing beauty of the ha- . versation modest and unobtrusive; ram or seraglio, but the austere dighis general deportment dignified, nity of the ancient statues. NO manly, and regular; his whole life man ever more fortunate in spotless and innocent; and his death the choice of his subjects, or knew that of a devout and believing Christo better when to seize upon the propiian. His genius gained him no friend tious moment for telling the story, whom he afterwards lost by miscon- and throwing over his canvas the viduet; and he recollected the injus- vid lustre of the most marked and untice and the paltry persecutions of erring intelligence. Hence, in an age Fouquières, Le Mercier, and Vouet, fond of allegory, he is never obscure, only to laugh at their abortive malice, and his works furnish an inexhaustor as a spur to increased and more ible fund of refreshing delight to all intense application. His death caus classes of men who have any relish ed a general sensation in Rome, as if for the perfect models and the impeit had been a public loss ; and his rishable forms of Greek and Roman friends vied with each other in testi- antiquity. Much has been said of monies of respect to his memory. In. his negligence of colouring ; but we stances of such perfect virtue, united have already seen that this ought to to such commanding genius, are so be taken with many grains of allowrarely to be encountered “ in the cor ance, as we have the opinion of the rupted currents of this world,” that excellent Opie, that nothing can be our readers will, we trust, excuse us

faithful and poetical" than the gratification we ourselves have the colouring in the Deluge, reprefelt (though we should not be able to sentative of winter ; and the same

was

more

VOL. IX.

D

thing might be said of many others of of which we ought to take advantage. his works. The fact is, that colour- Many maxims of policy which were ing is but an inferior part of the paint- much approved by our ancestors, are er's art, and ought invariably to be now justly exploded, insomuch that subordinate to expression and design. the great business of legislation is in Many painters, however, contrive to many cases to reverse what they have hide under opposing masses of light established. How comes it, then, and shade the deficiencies of a faulty that so much is said in our Parliaoutline, and the want of a minute and ment, and that so little is done? For intimate knowledge of detail. “I this many causes may be suggested. have NEGLECTED NOTHING, said Among others it may be mentioned, Poussin, with the bundle of stones that our Parliament has long been and moss in his hanıl, to copy exact

the constitutional arena for parly after Nature. Poussin's forte was ty contests; and a systematical oppoexpression, design, and the most per sition to, and a systematical support of fect knowledge of forins; hence there ministers, seem to have grown, by was nothing to conceal, nothing court, long practice, into a necessary part of ed display, and yet every thing might the complicated machinery of the bear the closest inspection; and the constitution. What one party asserts spectator, in surrendering himself to the other denies; and by habitual al. the overmastering emotions generated tercations a perverse spirit is thus geby the piece before him, was first ren nerated, by which all attempts at imdered sensible of the inagical power provement are baffled, except they of the painter's pencil by the resist come from the Ministerial side. Now less current of his own feelings hur- it so happens that ministers are, and rying him into that train of thought must be, from the very nature of which had previously passed through things, less disposed to innovate on the mind of the Great Sorcerer him. the established course of things. They self.

have less time to consider what is wanted, and they have a natural aversion to improve or alter, because it involves them in trouble and in in

creased responsibility; and seeing the In considering the late session of nation prosperous and improving, they Parliament, and, indeed, in looking naturally argue that things are as well generally to our Parliamentary discus as they are,—that there is a risk sions, no one can fail to remark to attending all alterations; and this what a length they are spun uut, and coming in aid of their natural proyet with how little of practical effect pensity to rest, seems to them quite they are attended. It has been esti- conclusive. On the other hand, the mated that in the late session, Par- Opposition, as they are called, are full liament sat, on an average, eight hours of alacrity to detect all abuses, as reand a-half each night. The ques- flecting on the management of those tion then comes to be, to what effect? in power ;-they are keen-scented, Where is the result of their labours ? snuffing up the sinell of corruption as —what new and wise laws have their proper aliment—and thus they been enacted ?-and what faulty insti are well qualified for putting it down, tutions have been amended ? It is because it is their natural prey. But really singular to consider, after all the misfortune is, that whatever arises the noise and outcry which are made from this quarter is regarded in the in it, how little Parliament effects light of an attack upon the Ministry, in the amendment of either our poli- who immediately stand on the decy or laws. It will be said, indeed, fence, and thus the sparring begins, that they require no amendment; that which generally ends in the discomthey are already perfect. This, in fiture of the Opposition, and in the the nature of things, is impossible. loss of all the measures which they Human affairs are always changing, propose, however wise and laudable. and they require new laws adapted to And sometimes we may admit them the new energencies which are con to be wise and laudable, for it is the stantly arising. New lights on le- interest of the Opposition to chuse the gislation and government are also best grounds of attack, and by procontinually breaking in upon society, posing wisc measures which they

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE

LATE SESSION OF PARLIAMENT.

cause.

know, to a certainty, the Ministers which is always met in other nations will oppose, they thus procure a good by a spirit of retaliation as effectual topic for their general crimination. against our own commerce as the reThe Opposition, therefore, are with strictions which we impose are against out power, and the Ministers, from those of other countries; and thus their situation, are rather indisposed to that pernicious system grows up, by make improvements, so that we move which the commerce of the world is on rather sluggishly in our course; fettered by an endless complication of and there is little doubt that if neus artificial restraints, and the necessary tral men could be procured, who interchange of produce between differwould interest themselves in the busi- ent nations obstructed, and, in some ness of the country, many valuable cases, altogether prevented. In the improvements might be effected, with- different wars in which France and out any prejudice to the Ministerial Britain have been involved, it has al

The danger is, that through ways happened that a cessation of the agency of these conflicting inte. hostilities has been followed, not by rests, Parliament becomes a mere peace in the spirit of peace, but rascene of party discussion, effecting no- ther by a short and doubtful truce, thing beyond voting the supplies and in which the two parties did all doing other business, which is abso- the ill they could to each other, by lutely necessary, whereas it ought to the vexatious restraints which they extend its superintendence over every imposed on each other's trade. The department of our affairs, cautious, no war of the sword was invariably foldoubt, of innovating, yet proceeding lowed by this petty warfare of restricsteadily in the reform of evils noto- tions on trade; and hence the policy rious and admitted. We have been 'of this country, partly from false views led into these observations by a re- of the nature of commerce, and partview of the discussions which have ly from national animosity, became taken place in the session of Parlia- distorted from the true line of its inment now closed, and we purpose terest. Our ancestors never seem to to enforce and illustrate them by have considered that the importation a reference to some of the important of French wines and silks necessarily matters which have been under the gave rise to an exportation of our own deliberation of the Legislature, but in commodities to repay the debt incur. which nothing has been done further red, and that, while they were discouthan wise resolutions and long re- raging the consumption of French ports.

produce iu this countıy, they were in 1. With respect to our commerce, à like degree discouraging the conit is admitted by all, that, for several sumption of British manufactures in years past, it has been in a most de France. All these regulations are at pressed state, and numerous applica- variance with the very nature of trade, tions by the merchants have been which, between nations, as between made to Parliament for relief. Not individuals, consists in the exchange that the merchants imagine Parlia- of what is useless for what is useful. ment has the power suddenly to re It is by means of commerce that vive commerce, or to open new mar nations are freed from the incumkets for their superfluous goods. They brance of their superfluous produce. are now much too enlightened to en- Every country, from its peeuliar soil tertain any such unreasonable expec- and climate, necessarily abounds in tations. But it is well known that some sorts of produce, while it is in our laws, so far as they respect foreign the same proportion deficient in otrade, are founded on principles the thers; and it is only by a free exmost narrow and invidious. In many change with other nations that this cases national animosity is at the bote inequality can be corrected. The tom of those hurtful regulations, foundation of commerce, therefore, is which obstruct the importation of laid in the very economy of nature ; foreigr. produce into this country, and in that diversity of soil and climate even when this feeling does not pre which belongs to different countries, vail, the restrictive duties which are and which enables each to excel both imposed indicate a selfish and grasp- in the quantity and quality of its own ing spirit, which is at variance with peculiar productions. In place of disevery sound principle of policy, and couraging the free exchange of this

« ElőzőTovább »