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SMITH, Marshall, The Art of Painting According to the Theory and Practise of the Best Italian, French, and Germane Masters. Treating of The Antiquity of Painting. The Reputation it allways had. The Characters of severall Masters. Proportion. Action and Passion. The Effects of Light. Perspective. Draught. Colouring. Ordonnance. Far more Compleat and Compendious then hath yet been publisht by any, Ancient or Modern. By M. S. Gent., London, The Vendüe, 1692.1 quotations
In Expression we must Regard the Sex, Man must appear more Resolute and Vigorous, his Actions more Free, Firm and Bold ; but Womans Actions more Tender, Easy and Modest.
We must likewise Regard the Age, whose different Times and Degrees carry them to different Actions, as well by the Agitations of the Minde as the Motions of the Body.
We must also take Notice of the Condition, if they be Men of great Extent and Honour, their Actions must be Reserv’d and Grave ; but if Plebeians, more Rude and Disorderly.
Bodys Deify’d must be Retrench’d of all those Corruptible Things which serve only for the Preservation of Humane Life, as the Veins, Nerves, Arterys ; and taking onely what serve for Beauty and Form.
We must likewise observe to give to Man Actions of Understanding ; to Children, Actions which only Express the Motions of their Passions ; to Brutes, purely the Motions of Sence.
Nor is it sufficient that we observe Action and Passion in their own Natures, in the Complection and Constitution ; in the Age, Sexe, and Condition : but we must likewise observe the Season of the Year in which we express them.
The Spring ; Merry, Nimble, Prompt and of a good Colour. The Summer, causeth Open and Wearisome Actions, Subject to sweating and Redness. Automn, Doutbfull, and something Inclining to Melancholly. Winter, Restrain’d, drawn in and Trembling.
RICHARDSON, Jonathan, Two Discourses. I. An Essay on the whole Art of Criticism as it relates to Painting. Shewing how to judge I. Of the Goodness of a Picture ; II. Of the Hand of the Master ; and III. Whether ‘tis an Original, or a Copy. II. An Argument in behalf of the Science of a Connoisseur ; Wherein is shewn the Dignity, Certainty, Pleasure, and Advantage of it. Both by Mr. Richardson, London, W. Churchill, 1719.3 quotations
However I will here make him [ndr : au lecteur] an Offer of an Abstract of what I take to be those by which a Painter, or Connoisseur, may safely conduct himself, [...] II. The Expression must be Proper to the Subject, and the Characters of the Persons ; It must be strong, so that the Dumb-shew may be perfectly Well, and Readily understood. Every Part of the Picture must contribute to This End ; Colours, Animals, Draperies, and especially the Actions of the Figures, and above all the Airs of the Heads.
I confine the Sublime to History, and Portrait-Painting ; And These must excell in Grace, and Greatness, Invention, or Expression ; and that for Reasons which will be seen anon. Michael Angelo’s Great Style intitles Him to the Sublime, not his Drawing ; ‘tis that Greatness, and a competent degree of Grace, and not his Colouring that makes Titian capable of it : As Correggio’s Grace, with a sufficient mixture of Greatness gives this Noble Quality to His Works. Van Dyck’s Colouring, nor Pencil tho’ perfectly fine would never introduce him to the Sublime ; ‘tis his Expression, and that Grace, and Greatness he possess’d, (the Utmost that Portrait-Painting is Justly capable of) that sets some of his Works in that Exalted Class ;
The Kind of Picture, or Drawing having been consider’d, regard is to be had to the Parts of Painting ; we should see in which of These they excell, and in what Degree.
And these several Parts do not Equally contribute to the Ends of Painting : but (I think) ought to stand in this Order.
Grace and Greatness,
The last can only Please ; The next (by which I understand Pure Nature, for the Great, and Gentile Style of Drawing falls into another Part) This also can only Please, Colouring Pleases more ; Composition Pleases at least as much as Colouring, and moreover helps to Instruct, as it makes those Parts that do so more conspicuous ; Expression Pleases, and Instructs Greatly ; the Invention does both in a higher Degree, and Grace, and Greatness above all. Nor is it peculiar to That Story, Fable, or whatever the Subject is, but in General raises our Idea of the Species, gives a most Delightful, Vertuous Pride, and kindles in Noble Minds an Ambition to act up to That Dignity Thus conceived to be in Humane Nature. In the Former Parts the Eye is employ’d, in the Other the Understanding.
Whatever the general Character of the Story is, the Picture must discover it throughout, whether it be Joyous, Melancholy, Grave, Terrible, &c. The Nativity, Resurrection, and Ascension ought to have the General Colouring, the Ornaments, Background, and every thing in them Riant, and Joyous, and the contrary in a Crucifixion, Interment, or a Pietà. [The Blessed Virgin with the dead Christ].
But a Distinction must be made between Grave, and Melancholy, as in a Holy Family (of Rafaëlle’s Design at least) which I have, and has been mention’d already ; the Colouring is Brown, and Solemn, but yet all together the Picture has not a Dismal Air, but quite otherwise. […] There are certain Sentiments of Awe, and Devotion which ought to be rais’d by the first Sight of Pictures of that Subject, which that Solemn Colouring contributes very much to, but not the more Bright, though upon other Occasions preferable.
I have seen a fine Instance of a Colouring proper for Melancholy Subjects in a Pietà of Van-Dyck : That alone would make one not only Grave, but sad at first Sight ; And a Colour’d Drawing that I have of the Fall of Phaëton after Giulio Romano, shews how much This contributes to the Expression. ‘Tis different from any Colouring that ever I saw, and admirably adapted to the Subject, there is a Reddish Purple Tinct spread throughout, as if the World was all invelopp’d in Smould’ring Fire.
Robes, or other Marks of Dignity, or of a Profession, Employment, or Amusement, a Book, a Ship, a Favourite Dog, or the like, are Historical Expressions common in Portraits, which must be mention’d on this occasion ;
I should […] have been sparing of Examples, if I had not already given many for other Purposes, but which are also Instances of the Sublime in Painting, and which are scatter’d up and down throughout all I have Written on this Amiable Subject : But One or Two I will add in This Place. The First shall be from Rembrandt ; and surely he has given Us such an Idea of a Death-Bed in one Quarter of a Sheet of Paper in two Figures with few Accompagnements, and in Clair Obscure only, that the most Eloquent Preacher cannot paint it so strongly by the most Elaborate Discourses ; […]. An Old Man is lying on his Bed, just ready to Expire ; this Bed has a plain Curtain, and a Lamp hanging over it, for ‘tis in a Little sort of an Alcove, Dark Otherwise, though ‘tis Bright Day in the next Room, and which is nearest the Eye, There the Son of this Dying Old Man is at Prayers. […]. All is over with this Man, and there is such an Expression in this Dull Lamp-Light at Noon-Day, such a Touching Solemnity, and Repose that these Equal any thing in the Airs, and Attitudes of the Figures, which have the Utmost Excellency that I think I ever saw, or can conceive is possible to be Imagined.
‘Tis a Drawing, I have it. And here is an Instance of an Important Subject, Impress’d upon our Minds by such Expedients, and Incidents as display an Elevation of Thought, and fine Invention ; and all this with the Utmost Art, and with the greatest Simplicity ; That being more Apt, at least in this Case, than any Embellishment whatsoever.
REMBRANDT (Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn), La prière de saint Pierre avant la résurrection de Tabitha, v. 1654 - v. 1655, plume et encre brune, lavis brun, 19,3 x 20,2, Bayonne, Musée Bonnat, inv. 159 / NI. 1441.