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, 1719.2 quotations
Gentlemen may do as they please, the following Method [ndr : pour juger un tableau] seems to Me to be the most Natural, Convenient, and Proper.
Before you come so near the Picture to be Consider’d as to look into Particulars, or even to be able to know what the Subject of it is, at least before you take notice of That, Observe the Tout-ensemble of the Masses, and what Kind of one the Whole makes together. It will be proper at the same Distance to consider the General Colouring ; whether That be Grateful, Chearing, and Delightful to the Eye, or Disagreeable ;
The Goût is a mixture of Poussin’s usual Manner [ndr : il s’agit ici du Tancrède et Herminie, réalisé par Poussin], and (what is very rare) a great deal of Guilio, particulary in the Head, and Attitude of the Lady, and both the Horses ; Tancred is naked to the Wast having been stripp’d by Erminia and his ’Squire to search for his Wounds, he has a piece of loose Drapery which is Yellow, bearing upon the Red in the Middle Tincts, and Shadows, this is thrown over his Belly, and Thighs, and lyes a good length upon the ground ; ’twas doubtless painted by the Life, and is intirely of a Modern Taste. And that nothing might be shocking, or disagreeable, the wounds are much hid, nor is his Body, or Garment stain’d with Blood, only some appears here, and there upon the ground just below the Drapery, as if it flow’d from some Wounds which That cover’d ;
A Painter is allow’d sometimes to depart even from Natural, and Historical Truth.
Thus in the Carton of the Draught of Fishes Rafaëlle has made a Boat too little to hold the Figures he has plac’d in it ; and this is so visible, that Some are apt to Triumph over that great Man, […] ; but the Truth is, had he made the Boat large enough for those Figures his Picture would have been all Boat, which would have had a Disagreeable Effect ; […].
Every Picture should be so contriv’d, as that at a Distance, when one cannot discern what Figures there are, or what they are doing, it should appear to be composed of Masses, Light, and Dark ; the Latter of which serve as Reposes to the Eye. The Forms of These Masses must be Agreeable, of whatsoever they consist, Ground, Trees, Draperies, Figures, &c. and the Whole together should be Sweet, and Delightful, Lovely Shapes and Colours without a Name ; of which there is an infinite Variety.
And ‘tis not enough that there be Great Masses ; they must be Subdivised into Lesser Parts, or they will appear Heavy, and Disagreeable : Thus tho’ there is evidently a Broad Light (for Example) in a piece of Silk when covering a whole Figure, or a Limb, there may be Lesser Folds, Breakings, Flickerings, and Reflections, and the Great Mass yet evidently preserv’d.