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TERM USED IN EARLY TRANSLATIONS/
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, 1685.1 quotations
When a Painter has acquired any Excellency in Desinging, readily and strongly ; What has he to do next ?
That is not half his Work, for then he must begin to mannage his Colours, it being particularly by them, that he is to express the greatness of his Art. ’Tis they that give, as it were, Life and Soul to all that he does ; without them, his Lines will be but Lines that are flat, and without a Body, but the addition of Colours makes that appear round ; and as it were out of the Picture, which else would be plain and dull. ’Tis they that must deceive the Eye, to the degree, to make Flesh appear warm and soft, and to give an Air of Life, so as his Picture may seem almost to Breath and Move.
Did ever any Painter arrive to that Perfection you mention ?
Yes, several, both of the Antient and Modern Painters. Zeuxis Painted Grapes, so that the Birds flew at them to eat them. Apelles drew Horses to such a likeness, that upon setting them before live Horses, the Live ones Neighed, and began to kick at them, as being of their own kind. And amongst the Modern Painters, Hannibal Carache, relates to himself, That going to see Bassano at Venice, he went to take a Book off a Shelf, and found it to be the Picture of one, so lively done, that he who was a Great Painter, was deceived by it. The Flesh of Raphael’s Pictures are so Natural, that this seems to be Alive. And so do Titians Pictures, who was the Greatest Master for Colouring that ever was, having attained to imitate Humane Bodies in all the softness of Flesh, and beauty of Skin and Complexion.
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
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.
And notwithstanding the Defects I have taken the Liberty to remark with the same Indifferency as I have observed the Beauties, that is, without the least regard to the Great Name of the Master, There is a Grace throughout that Charms, and a Greatness that Commands Respect [ndr : dans le portrait de la comtesse Dowager d’Exeter, par Van Dyck]; She appears at first Sight to be a Well-bred Woman of Quality ; ‘tis in her Face, and in her Mien ; and as her Dress, Ornaments, and Furniture contribute something to the Greatness, the Gause Veil coming over her Forehead, and the Hem of it hiding a Defect (which was want of Eye-brows,) is a fine Artifice to give more Grace. This Grace, and Greatness is not that of Raffaelle, or the Antique but ‘tis what is suitable to a Portrait ; and one of Her Age, and Character, and consequently better than if she had appear’d with the Grace of a Venus, or Helena, or the Majesty of a Minerva, or Semiramis.
But the Face-Painter is under a greater Constraint in both respects than he that paints History ; Additional Grace, and Greatness he is to give, above what is to be found in the Life, must not be thrown in too profusely, the Resemblance must be preserv’d, and appear with Vigour ; the Picture must have Both. Then it may be said, that the Gentleman, or Lady makes a Fine, or a Handsome Picture : But the Likeness not being regarded, ‘tis not They, but the Painter that makes it ; nor is there any great Difficulty in making Such Fine Pictures.
I was lately observing with a great deal of Pleasure how the Ancients had succeeded in the three several ways of Managing Portraits : I happen’d to have then before me (amongst others) several Medals of the Emperor Maximinus, who was particularly remarkable for a long Chin : One Medal of him had That, but that the Artist might be sure of a Likeness he had Exaggerated it : Another had par’d off about half of it : But these as they wanted the Just Resemblance, so there was a Poverty in them ; they were destitute of that Life, and Spirit which the other had, where Nature seems to have been moore closely follow’d. In making Portraits we must keep Nature in View ; if we launch out into the Deep we are lost.
The Draperies must have broad Masses of Light, and Shadow, and noble large Folds to give a Greatness ; and These artfully subdivised, add Grace. As in that Admirable Figure of S. Paul Preaching, of which I have already spoken, the Drapery would have had a Greatness if that whole Broad Light had been kept, and that part which is flung over his Shoulder, and hangs down his Back had been omitted ; but That adds also a Grace.
And here I take the Sublime to be the Greatest, and most Beautiful Ideas, whether Corporeal, or not, convey’d to us the most Advantageously.
By Beauty I do not mean that of Form, or Colour, Copy’d from what the Painter sees ; These being never so well Imitated, I take not to be Sublime, because These require little more than an Eye, and Hand, and Practice. An Exalted Idea of Colour in a Humane Face, or Figure might be judg’d to be Sublime, could That be had, and convey’d to Us, as I think it cannot, since even Nature has not yet been Equall’d by the best Colourists ; Here she keeps Art at a Distance whetever Courtship it has made to her. In Forms ‘tis Otherwise as we find in the Antique Statues, which therefore I allow to have a Sublimity in them : And should do the same in regard to the same Kind, and Degree of Beauty if it were to be found in any Picture, as I believe it is not. Tho’ in Pictures is seen a Grace, and Greatness, whether from the Attitude, or Air of the Whole, or the Head only, that may justly be Esteem’d Sublime.