Page images

After the time of Lionardi da Vinci, painting seems to have soon attained the highest perfection to which it was capable of arriving. For as ancient Rome was peculiarly happy in having three kings who possessed the qualities best adapted for laying the foundations of a great empire, so modern "Rome enjoyed three artists, whose early discoveries have secured to her that honourable empire of taste and elegance, which she still maintains unrivalled. From Lionardo da Vinci she acquired expression and colouring; from Michel Angelo invention, drawing, greatness, and the sublime; and from Raphael, all these united in the highest perfection, with the noble additions of composition and grace. Raphael was born in 1983, and died in 1520 ; and notwithftanding what is said of the tints of Titian, the happy pencil of Annibal Carracci, the graceful airs of Correggio, and the angelic beauty of Guido, it may be affirmed, that nothing essential was added to the art of painting after the age of Raphael.

In that age the art of engraving was also much improved by the admirable skill of Mark Antonio, who appears to have been so highly delighted with the finished productions of his contemporaries, that he conceived the noble idea of consigning them to immortality. About the same time a new art was discovered, which imitated, with great exactness, such of their works as were only drawn with the pen.

This invention, called Chiari-fcuri by the Italians, and Camayeux by the French, is commonly ascribed to Ugo da Carpi, a man of great ingenuity. He made his first trial with two pieces of pear-tree or box, the most proper woods for his purpose. With one of these pieces he stamped the outlines of his figures, and the darkest shadows; with the second he gave the walh ; and those parts of the paper were left white, which re. quired to have the appearance of being heightened. Having succeeded in this contrivance beyond his expectation, he began to make prints with three blocks of wood. The first gave

the profiles and dark shadows; the second the middle tints ; the third the light grounds; and the heightenings were expressed as before by the natural colour of the paper. In this manner he executed a large print of Eneas carrying Anchises on his shoulders from the Aames of Troy, bearing date 1518.

The inventions of Ugo da Carpi were highly esteemed by his countrymen. He was desirous of availing himself of the profit arising from his labours, and, in order to prevent others from sharing it, obtained decrees of excommunication from the Pope, and menaces of severe penalties from the Doge of Venice, against every one who thould print his Æneas, without his own confent. Albert Durer had already obtained from the Emperor Maximilian denunciations of confiscation, accompanied with


Bb 4

[ocr errors]

other threats, against every person who should copy or vend his works in the Emperor's dominions.

Mazuoli of Parma, called Parmigiano, who, if not the inventor of etching in aqua fortis, at least made great improvements in that art, began to imitate the prints of Ugo da Carpi in 1529. While Parmigiano resided at Bologna, he printed on a large sheet, a chiaro scuro of Diogenes, which is the best work of the kind that had been hitherto executed. He greatly improved the art by discovering a method of enabling the prints to bear a nearer inspection, and of rendering them more pleasing to the spectator. This was done by printing two tints with wood on the outlines, while the more delicate shades were etched on copper. Of this he gave an admirable example in a copy of a drawing of Raphael, which represents Peter and John healing the lame man at the beautiful gate of the temple. This work is the more interesting, being Raphael's first thought for the Cartoon on that subject.

The art, which Parmigiano learned from Ugo da Carpi, he communicated to Antonio da Trento, who, among a variety of other works, executed a famous print of the martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul, Antonio discovered great ingenuity in working with two, and even with three blocks; but his treachery and ingratitude blasted all the hopes that might reafunably have been formed from the continuance of his labours. While his master resided at Bologna, and was assiduously employed in painting for the noblemen of that city, Antonio one morning seized the opportunity to rifle his chest, stole all his drawings, as well as his prints in copper and wood, and having escaped through the gates of the city, was never heard of more.

These artists were succeeded by Meccarino of Sienna, and Antonio Cremonese; but the person who has most enriched our collections with prints in imitation of drawings, is Andreani of Mantoua. He wrought with two, three, and even four blocks; and has left a greater number of prints, copied after a greater variety of masters, than any of his predeceffors. Soon after the death of Andreani, Bartolomeo Coriolano practised the same art with great taste and accuracy at Bologna. He chiefly employed himself on the works of Guido, his favourite painter ; and succeeded so well in his imitation, that on presenting to Pope Urban VIII a Madonna of this artist, he was dignified with the order of knighthood of Loretto, and obtained a confiderable salary.

The Germans are fond of contesting with the Italians the merit of inany ingenious inventions. As to the art of which Mr. R. traces the history, Sandrart of Stockau accuses Vasari of appropriating a discovery, which of right belongs to the Germans, who he says, as early as the year 1503, published chiaro:


scuro prints in black, yellow, and green. Although the Germans should be allowed the honour of the invention, the merit of the improvement will still belong to the Italians; for even Albert Durer, the greatest genius of Germany, did not exhibit any thing in this way, executed with three blocks, till the year 1600; at which time Goltzius the engraver also published several prints with three blocks, particularly one of Hercules killing the robber Cacus in his den. Paul Moreelfe, a painter of Delft, engraved on three blocks in 1612, and even the great Rubens directed a chiaro-scuro block to be cut for a print graved on copper by Witdouc in 1638, representing Jesus fitting at table with two of his disciples. L. Bufinck graved prints after P. Lalliman, on two and three blocks, about the year 1645; and many others of less note, who, from an excess of modesty, suppressed their names.

From this time till the reign of George I. of England, the art, instead of receiving any further improvements, began gradually to decline; except that in 168 1 James Lutma published in Holland four portraits imitating black lead drawings stumped, which, as he describes the operation, were made opere mallei, by means of a hammer. But after this last effort, made by James Lutma, to preserve a decaying art, it was allowed to Jinger and perish. So entirely was it neglected and forgotten, that some of its revivers, at the period above mentioned, speak of it as a new invention; and Zanetti, a gentleman of Venice, who, between the years 1720 and 1741, publifhed many prints in imitation of drawings, observes in a letter, that they were engraved on wood in the method of Trento, since lost. The same observation is repeated at the bottom of one of his prints, dedicated to William Duke of Devonshire. Zanetti took particular delight in copying the works of Parmigiano; and his enthusiasm for this master, together with the esteem in which his imitations were held in England, encouraged him to continue the practice of an art which he considered as equally tedious and troublesome*. About the same time Le Blon published in England a treatise

“ the Harmony of Colouring in Painting.” This work, which was dedicated to Robert Walpole, Esq; Chancellor of the Exchequer, laid open an extensive plan, which was no less than to publish portraits of the size of life, as well as historypieces, after great masters; all in the same colours with the originals. This ha successfully effected, by means of three mezzotinto plates, on which he skilfully blended yellow, red, and blue, which he terms the three primitive colours. His contrivance was followed by several of his pupils, particularly


• Lettere sulla Pittura,



[merged small][subsumed][ocr errors]

by Robert and Gautier of Paris. The former chiefly applied
himself to imitate subjects of history, and the latter to represent
anatomical preparations. During the same reign Edward Kirk.
wall published several prints in imitation of highly finished
drawings. Having etched the outlines on copper-plate

, he
shaded the figures with mczzotinto work, covered with an even
walh by means of a pewter plate, which was perforated in those
parts in which it was intended that the print should be height-
ened; and the paper being there raised did, not inelegantly,
imitate the thick body of white, laid on finished drawings.

A magnificent collection of prints, copied after the best pictures and drawings in France, was published at Paris in 1729. In this valuable work, well known by the name of its patron Mr. Crozat, the chiaro-fcuro was performed, as usual, with blocks; but, besides this, a method of imitating pendrawings with copper-plates was revived, which had not been practised fince the time of Parmigiano; a method of the greater value, as the operations of a fine pen may be copied by etchings

, with far more precision and resemblance, than by any incisure in wood.

Mr. Stephen Slaughter published in London in 1733, a print after an original drawing of Parmesan. In this print the wash is given with a wooden block, and the figures are etched in copper; and to the approbation which it universally met wich, is owing the beautiful collection of Pond and Knapion, the largest and most elegant work of the kind ever published in England ; in which the beauty of Slaughter's print is equalled, and the province of the art itself extended, by introducing a great va. siety of new shades, and by imitating drawings in red chalk, which had never been before attempted.

Mr. Rogers concludes his Appendix by an account of the works of the ingenious artists during the present reign (many of them now alive), who have cultivated or improved the methods of imitating drawings. As this part is written more concisely than the rest, we intended to take the liberty of tran. fcribing it for the entertainment of our readers; but the article is already extended beyond our usual limits.

In treating the lives of the painters, Mr. Rogers is more copious than any writer in the English language. He mentions several interesting particulars that are omitted by Vasari, Philibien, and others; and his life of Correggio in particular is more perfect than any we have met with. He gives an agreeable variety to his subject, by introducing such episodes as are na. turally connecled with the ornamental arts ; of which there is an example in the life of Stephano della Bella, where the reader will find an explanation of the origin of masquerades, triumphs, carnival songs, and other entertainments, which formed the


[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

le na:

disa principal amusement of all the different courts of Europe, du

sing the fixteenth century.

We shall conclude this article by inserting a passage from the life of Guido Reni, which may serve not only as a specimen of the style of our Author, but as an illustration of an important doctrine which cannot be too often inculcated; that is, the corruption to which the arts are liable, even in the happiest ages; and the danger that artists of superior merit should condescend to imitate bad models, when ignorance, novelty, or caprice have rendered such models fashionable.

• About this time * Guido began to paint on his own account t; and in his coronation of the Virgin Mary, in the church of St. Bernard, he demonstrated so great a knowledge of

the naked, that Annibale Carracci himself, who at first tenderly med , at

loved, now began to sear him, regarding him always with a jealous militudine

and severe eye: nevertheless he, contrary to his intentions, opened had no

the way to his rival's future reputation, in this manner. After

the time of the great Michel Angelo, Raffaelle, and some of by die

their followers in the Roman schole, 'the art was considerably fallen, the artists running rather into a chimerical whimsicalness, and weak colouring, than imitating the truth of nature. Cavalier Giufippe d’Arpino was accounted an able man among them, and, by Fortune's allistance, acquired the first place; although, to a very capricious invention, he had joined the style of a mannerist, with languid colouring. At this time also appeared Michel Angelo da Caravaggio, a tantastical and beastly man, who having formed a manner entirely new (with broad

lights artificially obtained in a darkened chamber, and with the serta

deepest shadows), he so effectually infinuated himself into the favour of the great, that every gallery, in every museum, was accounted poor which had not one of his pictures in it. The

fame of these two men spread over all Italy; and not only their -пс

reputation, but their pictures arrived at Bologna ; not without great joy to the Carracci, who longed to see some of their works, particularly of Caravaggio, of whom they had heard such great things. The picture was seen by Annibale, and by Lodovico, who readily declared, that he found the work very different from the fame of the master; but that nothing was more plausible than novelty: to which Annibale added, that he was not at all surprised, but was of opinion, that any one who, in time to come, thould strike out some new manner, would certainly obtain from Fortune and the filly vulgar, the like ad

[ocr errors]

met e

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The period in which Guido lived was from 1975 to 1642. + Or, as we commonly say, to set up for himself; he had, in his youih, served under the Carracci, and other eminent matters. His firit instructor was Denys Calvart.


[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »