Every Historical Picture is a Representation of one single point of Time ; This then must be chosen ; and That in the Story which is the most Advantageous must be It. Suppose, for Instance, the Story to be painted is that of the Woman taken in Adultery, the Painter Seems to be at liberty to choose whether he will represent the Scribes and Pharisees accusing her to our Lord ; Or our Lord writing on the Ground ; Or pronouncing the last of the Words, Let him that is among you without Sin cast the first Stone at her ; Or lastly his Absolution, Go thy way, Sin no more. […] When our Saviour says the Words, Let him that is without Sin cast the first Stone, He is the principal Actor, and with Dignity ; the Accusers are asham’d, Vex’d, Confounded, and perhaps Clamorous ; and the Accused in a fine Situation, Hope and Joy springing up after Shame, and Fear ; all which affords the Painter an opportunity of exerting himself, and giving a pleasing Variety to the Composition ; For besides the various Passions, and Sentiments naturally arising, the Accusers begin to disperse, which will occasion a fine Contrast in the Attitudes of the Figures, some being in Profile, some Fore-right, and some with their Backs turn’d ; some pressing forward as if they were attentive to what was said, and some going off : And this I should chuse ;
Every Figure, and Animal must be affected in the Picture as one should suppose they Would, or Ought to be. And all the Expressions of the several Passions, and Sentiments must be made with regard to the Characters of the Persons moved in them. At the Raising of Lazarus, some may be allow’d to be made to hold something before their Noses, and this would be very just, to denote That Circumstance in the Story, the Time he had been dead ; but this is exceedingly improper in the laying our Lord in the Sepulchre, altho’ he had been dead much longer than he was ; however Pordenone has done it.
A History-Painter must describe all the Various Characters, Real, or Imaginary ; and that in all their Situations, Pleas’d, Griev’d, Angry, Hoping, Fearing, &c. A Face-Painter has to do with all the Real Characters, except only some few of the Meanest, and the most Sublime, but not with that Variety of Sentiments as the other. The whole Business of His Life is to describe the Golden Age, […]. Every one of His People therefore must appear Pleas’d, and in Good Humour ; but Varied suitably to the Rais’d Character of the Person drawn ;