After the first view of a Picture you may limit the understanding (without more difficulty) in few observations ; as first.
1. The Artizans care and paines must be visible,
2. It must appeare that he had knowledge and understanding in the Art, and followed it in every particular throughout ; Not as if done by severall hands, good and indifferent.
3. Then observe if he have expressed his Naturall Genius, with delight, upon some special fancy, as more proper to himself, than any other.
For Example, some.
In Historie and Figure.
Others in Prospective.
Some in Shipwrack and Seas.
In likenesse to th’ Life.
In Landskips, not many.
In Huntings and Beasts.
Cattle and Neat-heards.
And in each of these severall Artists have been (properly) more rare.
AGLIONBY, William, Painting Illustrated in Three Diallogues. Containing some Choice Observations upon the Art. Together with The Lives of the Most Eminent Painters From Cimabue, to the time of Raphael and Michael Angelo. With an Explanation of the Difficult Terms, London, John Gain, 1685.4 quotations
I have heard Painters blamed for Finishing their Pieces too much : How can that be ?
Very well : For an over Diligence in that kind, may come to make the Picture look too like a Picture, and loose the freedom of Nature. And it was in this, that Protogenes, who was, it may be, Superiour to Apelles, in every part of Painting ; besides, was nevertheless Outdone by him, because Protogenes could hardly ever give over Finishing a Piece. Whereas Apelles knew, when he had wrought so much as would answer the Eye of the Spectator, and preserve the Natural. This the Italians call, Working A la pittoresk, that is Boldly, and according to the first Incitation of a Painters Genius. But this requires a strong Judgment, or else it will appear to the Judicious, meer Dawbing.
After the Death of Raphael and his Schollars (for, as for Michael Angelo he made no School) Painting seemed to be Decaying ; [...] But much about the same time, the Carraches of Bologna came to Rome, and the two Brothers Painted together the famous Gallery of the Pallazzo Farneze : Hannibal the Youngest, was much the greatest Master ; though his Eldest Brother Augustin was likewise admirable ; they renewed Raphael’s Manner ; and Hannibal particularly, had an admirable Genius to make proper to himself any Manner he saw, as he did by Correggio, both as to his Colouring, Tenderness, and Motions of the Figures ; in a word, he was a most Accomplish’d Painter, both for Design, Invention, Composition, Colouring, and all parts of Painting ; having a Soveraign Genius, which made him Master of a great School of the best Painters Italy has had.
The World here in our Northern Climates has a Notion of Painters little nobler than of Joyners and Carpenters, or any other Mechanick, thinking that their Art is nothing but the daubing a few Colours upon a Cloth, and believing that nothing more ought to be expected from them at best, but the making a like Picture of any Bodys Face.
Which the most Ingenious amongst them perceiving, stop there ; and though their Genius would lead further into the noble part of History Painting, they check it, as useless to their Fortune, since they should have no Judges of their Abilities, nor any proportionable Reward of their Undertakings. So that till the Gentry of this Nation are better Judges of the Art, ’tis impossible we should ever have an Historical Painter of our own, nor that any excellent Forreigner should stay amongst us.
This puts me in mind of the moving part of Painting ; which is, the stirring of the Affections of the Spectator by the Expression of the Passions in the Piece ; and methinks this might well be called a part of Painting.
It is Comprehended under that of Invention ; and is indeed the most difficult part of it, as depending intirely upon the Spirit and Genius of the Painter, who can express things no otherwise than as he conceives them, and from thence come the different Manners ; or, as one may call them, Stiles of Painting ; some Soft and Pleasing, others Terrible and Fierce, others Majestick, other Low and Humble, as we see in the STILE of POETS ; and yet all Excellent in their Kinds.
and Painting, as well as Poetry, requiring an Elevation of Genius beyond what pure Historical Narration does ; the Painter must imagine his Figures to Think, Speak, and Act, as a Poet should do in a Tragedy, or Epick Poem ; especially if his Subject be a Fable, or an Allegory. If a Poet has moreover the Care of the Diction, and Versification, the Painter has a Task perhaps at least Equivalent to That, after he has well conceived the thing (over and above what is merely Mechanical, and other particulars, which shall be spoken to presently) and that is the Knowledge of the Nature, and Effects of Colours, Lights, Shadows, Reflections, &c.