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
I must then repeat to you what I told you at our first Meeting [ndr : Dialogue I, « Explaining the Art of Painting »] ; which is, That the Art of Painting has three Parts ; which are, Design, Colouring, and Invention ; and under this third, is that which we call Disposition ; which is properly the Order in which all the Parts of the Story are disposed, so as to produce one effect according to the Design of the Painter ; and that is the first Effect which a good Piece of History is to produce in the Spectator ; that is, if it be a Picture of a joyful Event, that all that is in it be Gay and Smiling, to the very Landskips, Houses, Heavens, Cloaths, &c. And that all the Aptitudes tend to Mirth. The same, if the Story be Sad, or Solemn ; and so for the rest. And a Piece that does not do this at first sight, is most certainly faulty though it never so well Designed, or never so well Coloured ; nay, though there be Learning and Invention in it ; for as a Play that is designed to make me Laugh, is most certainly an ill one if it makes me Cry. So an Historical Piece that doth not produce the Effect it is designed for, cannot pretend to an Excellency, though it be never so finely Painted.
But these Liberties [ndr : prises envers la vérité historique et naturelle] must be taken with great Caution and Judgment ; for in the main, Historical, and Natural Truth must be observed, the Story may be embellish’d, or something of it par’d away, but still So as it may be immediately known ; nor must any thing be contrary to Nature but upon great Necessity, and apparent Reason. History must not be corrupted, and turn’d into Fable or Romance : Every Person, and Thing must be made to sustain its proper Character ; and not only the Story, but the Circumstances must be observ’d, the Scene of Action, the Countrey, or Place, the Habits, Arms, Manners, Proportions, and the like, must correspond. This is call’d the observing the Costûme.