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, 1719.1 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, [...] III. There must be One Principal Light, and This, and all the subordinate ones with the Shaddows, and Reposes, must make One, Intire, Harmonious Mass ; The several Parts must be well Connected, and Contrasted, so as that Tout-ensemble must be Grateful to the Eye ; as a good piece of Musick is to the Ear. By this Means the Picture is not only more Delightful, but better Seen, and Comprehended.
I have many times observ’d with a great deal of Pleasure the admirable Composition (besides other Excellencies) of a Fruit-piece of Michelangelo Compadoglio, which I have had many Years. The principal Light is near the Centre (not Exactly there, for those Regularities have an ill effect ;) and the Transition from thence, and from one thing to another, to the Extremities of the Picture all round is very Easy, and Delightful ; in which he has employ’d fine Artifices by Leaves, Twigs, little Touches of Lights striking advantageously, and the like. So that there is not a Stroke in the Picture without its Meaning ; and the whole, tho’ very Bright, and consisting of a great many Parts, has a wonderful Harmony, and Repose.
In a Figure, and every part of a Figure, and indeed in every thing else there is One part which must have a peculiar Force, and be manifestly distinguish’d from the rest, all the Other parts of Which must also have a due Subordination to It, and to One Another. The same must be observ’d in the Composition of an entire Picture ; And this Principal, Distinguis’d part ought (Generally speaking) to be the Place of the Principal Figure, and Action : And Here every thing must be higher Finish’d, the Other parts must be Less so Gradually.
Pictures should be like Bunches of Grapes, but they must not resemble a great many single Grapes scatter’d on a Table ; there must not be many little Parts of an Equal Strength, and detach’d from one another, which is as odious to the Eye as ‘tis to the Ear to hear many People talking to you at once. Nothing must Start, or be too strong for the Place where it is as in a Confort of Musick when a Note is too high, or an Instrument out of Tune ; but a sweet Harmony and Repose must result from all the Parts judiciously put together, and united with each other.