« PreviousContinue »
It is impoffible, in attending to the numerous branches of this performance, not to applaud the diligence of the Author ; whose exemption from prejudices in a country which has been torn with the wildest factions and the groffest bigotry, are demonstrations of candour and sincerity. In his compofition, though not free from a variety of little defects, he is generally clear and perspicuous; and when his subjects permit, his narration is not inelegant; but sometimes too Aorid.
ART. IX. A Collection of Prints, in Imitation of Drawings. To
which are annexed Lives of their Authors, with explanatory and critical Notes. By Charles Rogers, Esq; F. R. S. and S. A. S. 2 Vols. Folio. Imperial Paper. 121. 128. White, &c. 1778,
O collect the precious remains of ingenious artists, is a
mark of elegant taste; to preserve those remains, at great expence, and to endeavour to beltow on them immortality, is a proof of generous ardour for the improvement of society: for the cultivation of refined arts, whatever the eloquent but fanciful Rousseau and his followers may pretend, contributes not only to the embellishment and splendor of polished life, but to its real happiness and perfection :
“ Ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes
" Emollit mores, nec finit effe feros.” When we consider the imitative arts in their relation to the general improvement of civil society, the invention of engraving is entitled to a principal snare of our regard. This art, though but the copy of a copy, diffuses and perpetuates the sublime conceptions of the painter, and renders that which would otherwise be confined to a particular place, and to a few centuries, the general entertainment of the present age, and the moft distant posterity. The same advantage which printing has bestowed on science and literature, engraving has conferred
the arts of design ; and had these valuable inventions been known to the celebrated nations of antiquity, the taste of beauty, as well as the knowledge of truth, would in all probability have advanced with a more rapid progress, and have already approached nearer to that degree of perfection, which is consistent with the limited powers of human nature. But the invention of engraving, as well as of typography, was reserved for the middle of the 15th century; and the improvement which, since that period, the modern nations of Europe have attained in arts, sciences, laws and manners, is unrivalled in the history of mankind.
The splendid work of which we here announce the publication, is executed in various kinds of engraving; if we apply that term generally to denote the art of copying drawings as
well as paintings, on wood or metal, to be afterwards impreffed on paper; but we do not find that this branch of the art has received a particular name in any, modern language; and the ancients, as we have already binted, were entirely unacquainted with printing, in every sense of the word.
The work before us.contains one hundred and twelve prints in imitation of the drawings of the greatest painters; and they are executed by the most celebrated artists of this kingdom. We shall give the names of the masters, whose works are here faithfully copied, and a list of the pieces which seem most worthy of attention.
Supper. 2. Michel Angelo Buonarotti: The Madonna 3. Raffaelle. If, The gathering of Manna. 2d, Terræ motus. 4. Giulio Romano. Nature and Time. 5. Caravaggio: Birth of Jupiter. 6. Bandinelli. Two Lovers. 7. Battista Franco. Discovery of Achilles. 8. Perino del Vago. Battle of the Centaurs and Lapithe. 9. Zuccaro. Queen Elizabeth. 16. Domen. Paffignano. Sleep in the arms of Night. 11. Pietro da Coriona. Scilurus recommending concord to his forse 12. Bernino. Angel bearing the Cross. 13. Andrea Sacchi. St. Antony preaching to the fishes. 14. Stefano della Bella. Theatrical figure of a young man. 15. Romanelli. Judgment of Paris. 26. Bourgognone. Two battle pieces. 27. Filippo Lauri. Corisca and the Satyr. 18. Carlo Maratci. Assumption of the Virgin. 19. Ciro Ferri. Cefar preferring his Agrarian Law. 20. Leone Ghezzi. Portrait. 21. Titiano. Repose. 22. Tintoretto. Study for a Crucifixion. 23. Paolo Veronese. First thougbt for a large composition. 24. Jacopo Palma. The woman wiping Jesus' feet with her hair.
VOL. il. 1. Correggio. Study for the principal part of his cupola. 2. Parmigiano, David and Goliah. 3. Camillo Procaccini. David with Goliah's head marthing bea 4. Lodovico Carracci. The Car of Harmony. 5. Agostino Carracci. Cupid with the sword of Mars: 6. Annibal Carracci. The Bacchanalia. 7. Michel Angelo da Caravaggio. A study. 8. Guido Reni. Repose. 9. Albani. Jofeph and Jefus: B ba
10. Dominichino. St. Catherine. 11. Guercino. Psyché attiring from the bath. 12. Schidoni. A heroine. 13. Mola. Cain and Abel. 14. Pesarese. Boys playing with a lamb. 15. Maria Canuti. Discovery of Achilles. 16. Elizabetta Sirani. Holy family. 17. Luca Cambiafo. Prometheus. 18. Salvator Rosa. Silenus and Satyrs. 19. Francisco Vieira. Calisto discovered. 20. Nicholas Poussin. Procesion of Silenus. 21. Le Sueur. Moses exposed. 22. Raimond le Fage. Vulcan's forge. 23. François Boucher. Bathsheba. 24. Breughel. Landscape. 25. Rubens. Helena Forman. 26. Van Dyk. Jacob persuaded to send Benjamin into Egypt. 27. Rembrandt. 1, Å monk sitting in his cell. 2d, Turks drink
ing coffee. 28. Wouwerman. Hawking. 29. Van de Velde. A rising storm. 30. Rysbrack. Time.
The portrait also of each painter, in a rondeau cut in wood, is prefixed to his life.
In order to render these prints faithful imitations, they are engraved by the same lines, of the same fize, and, as nearly as pollible, of the same colours, with the original drawings. This, doubtless, will give them a very high value with fuch as are fond of collecting the designs of great masters; and must also render them extremely precious to students in the arts, who will here perceive, inore distinctly than in the moft finished paintings, the beautiful lines by which a Raphael and a Guido expreffed those divine conceptions which have been so justly and so universally admired. Valuable pictures are commonly placed in churches or palaces, which are open, in all parts of Europe, to the inspection of the publie, Drawings are concealed in cabinets, to which only a few virtuosi have access. The publication of exact copies from the latter will be received therefore with gratitude by those who could not otherwise expect ta obtain an exa&t knowledge of the originals,
When we consider Mr. Rogers as an author, we muf abate somewhat of that commendation which is due to him as an editor. In his Introduction, his Lives of the Painters, and his Appendix, his ftyle is fometimes careless and inaccurate, and he has employed leveral peculiarities of expression, and even of spelJing, which denote a degree of affectation unworthy the magnificence of his undertaking. But if we can make allowance
for flight defects of language, we shall have reason to be satisfied with the information which it conveys. The Introduction and Appendix, combined with the Lives of the Painters, afford a general history of the arts which are the subjects of this noble publication.
These arts, Mr. Rogers informs us, were early cultivated by the eastern nations. The Jews, indeed, were forbidden to make images, as objects of worship; but on other occasions they were not only permitted, but even enjoined the practice of ftatuary. Thus, two cherubims of beaten gold were directed to be made in order to be placed at the two ends of the mercy-, seat, which they over-shadowed by their wings, their faces looking towards each other. It is probable, however, that the Jews made but a small proficiency in the ornamental arts, compared with that of the Egyptians and Tyrians. Bazaleel of the tribe of Judah, and Ahaliab of the tribe of Dan, were appointed in the time of Moses to execute the works for the service of the sanctuary (Exod. xxxi, &c.). But Solomon was not willing to trust the decoration of his temple to the taste of Jewish artists : he sent to Tyre for Hiram, “ who was cunning 66 to work all works in brass.”
The Tyrians, it is probable, acquired much of their knowledge in the arts from their neighbours the Egyptians. The fable of Prometheus shows that the Greeks had very early an idea of sculpture; but fo confused is the ancient chronology of Greece, that it is impossible to ascertain the period at which they began the practice of this or of any of the sister arts. In Greece, however, they all thone with peculiar luftre; and from the Greeks were transmitted to their conquerors the Romans, who carried them in their declining state to Conftantinople, which, from the year 330, had become the seat of the Eastern empire. Here they had to struggle with many inconveniences, particularly the madness of the Iconoclasts, who destroyed every picture, and broke every piece of statuary, that came within their reach. At length Conftantinople was taken by Mahommed II. furnamed the Great, in 1453; and the barbarous superstition of the Turks expelled the poor remainder of artists, who were glad to escape in safety into the western provinces, to which they offered the fruits of their ingenious labour, in return for the protection which they folicited. The Italians, in particular, were well prepared to receive these new guests. For as early as the year 977 the best architects were invited from Constantinople to direct the rebuilding of the church of St. Mark of Venice. Ninety-fix years were employed in erecting that edifice, which was ornamented by Greek artists with leveral pictures in mosaic. (Ridolfi, P. Ist. p. 12.)
In the beginning of the eleventh century, the celebrated dome of Pisa was built, under the direction of Buschetto a Greek architect ; and his style of building was soon imitated in Florence and other towns of Italy, The ancient ftatues and paintings were still buried with the other ruins of Roman gran• deur; and the Greeks of Constantinople continued to be the only masters of the modern Italians, till Florence, in the thirteenth century, produced Giovanni Cimabue, who made great improvements in the art of painting, and is said, by Vafari and other writers, to have far lurpafled bis Grecian models. G. Cimabue is commonly reckoned the father of modern painting. This, however, can only be understood of his great improvements in the art ; tor painting was never entirely abandoned in the great cities of Italy during the chickest darkness of the middle ages. Even in Britain, the art of design was practised with some degree of success, amidst the barbarism of the eighth çentury; as a pears by a drawing prefixed to a treatise of Virginity in the Saxon language, preserved in the Lambeth library *.
In the middle ages, the monks frequently employed their leisure in ornamenting the ancient manuscripts which they thought particularly valuable. Some of these are adorned with fo much care, that the labour bestowed on them must have confumed many years.
The style of the Florentine painters, who succeeded Cimabue, was, in general, hard, dry, and tasteless. At length Lionardo da Vinci appeared, possessed of a genius so acute, penetrating, and universal, that if the merit ascribed to him were less clearly quthenticated, we should be disposed to rank him with tbore fabulous heroes, whose accompliments and exploits have been inven'ed by poets and orators to Aatter the vanity of their countrymen. Lionardo was born in the year 1443, and died in 1518. Nature formed his person, which united the perfection of ftrength and beauty, to excel in all the fashionable exercises of the age. His talents were equally suited to active and to contemplative life. While he practised with fingular success all the liberal arts, he studied and improved every science that is yseful to man. Painting was his favourite pursuit; and ma. naged by his skilful hand, that art speedily, assumed a new appearance.
He was the first who animated his figures, gave frength of shade in his oil pictures, and enriched them with expreffon.
Mr. Rogers cites authorities to prove that the manuscript was written in the eighth century; and feems not to think it neceffiry to offer any' other evidence of the antiquity of the drawing prefixed to it. But it is not absolutely certain that the drawing is coeval with the writing.