« AnteriorContinua »
they sleep--but which is so seldom depicted in works of art. In most sleeping figures you have only to fancy their eyes open, and they are awake but here all the faculties are asleep. The figure of Jupiter (so called) is drawn and coloured with great gusto; but it is highly disagreeable and inappropriate nevertheless.
The rest of the Poussins in this Gallery I must leave to the general admiration of the spectator. They call for particular study and attention, and pages might be written on the merits and defects of every one of them.
Here are two excellent specimens of Salvator Rosa ; a small upright landscape (226), and Soldiers Gaming (236). The characteristic air of the soldier who is looking on--upright, firm, self-poised, Roman is admirable. We have also a capital portrait by this artist, of a " Young Man drawing" (270).
In this part of the collection there are several other excellent, and indeed first-rate pictures in their respective styles, which I cannot pass over silently, and which yet I must not attempt to do more than name, and recommend to the particular attention of the spectator and student. But it is the less necessary to notice them at any length, as their merits are for the most part exactly similar to those of others by the same. artists, which I have had occasion to examine in detail in my former papers, or which I shall have more eligible opportunities of attending to hereafter. Conspicuous among these are four delightful Claudes. 246, The Embarkation of St. Paul from the port of Ostia, though much smaller than the two Embarkations in Mr. Angerstein's collection, is similar in style to them, and not much inferior in merit. 248, a Landscape, divided in the centre in his favourite manner, by three trees, with a tower on the left hand, and the blue distant hills blending with the blue sky,--is exquisite. There are some figures introduced which are better than usual, and from these the picture is called Jacob and Laban. 257, is another sea-port, of the same character as 248. 252, is one of a very rare kind for this artist. It is full of figures, and represents the Campo Vacino, at Rome. The distance of this recedes finely, and the sky is all his own. There are two or three other pictures by this artist, of different degrees of merit.
251,' is a Venus and Adonis, said to be by Titian; but it is not in that condition to enable one to feel any certainty as to its being really by him. It is a repetition of that by the same artist, noticed in Mr. Angerstein's collection, and it differs scarcely at all from that in point of composition, but is inferior in colouring, and in its state of preservation. 228, is an admirable portrait, by Rubens, of a Venetian lady; painted probably at the time he was in Italy, and studying the works of Titian ; for it has more of that artist's intellectual style of expression, and less of his own florid colouring, than even his portraits usually had. 243, is a St. Cecilia, by Guercino ; and 299 and 233 are Holy Families, by Andrea del Sarto. They are all very pleasing works, and in some degree characteristic of their authors; but neither of them are of sufficient importance to afford an eligible opportunity of enquiring into the general merits of these two excellent painters. The same may be said of 295, by Caravaggio. It is rich, racy, and full of spirit; but does not afford scope for any particular descriptionbeing nothing more than a single head. All these are in the fourth room.
We now proceed to the fifth and last, and perhaps the richestfor it contains one picture alone that is above all price.
Let us examine this at once ; for we cannot properly attend to the other excellent works which this department of the Gallery contains, unless we first in some degree dismiss this one from our thoughts for a moment —but to dismiss or by any means get rid of it entirely, after having once seen it, is impossible. I allude to Murillo's wonderful picture of “Spanish Peasant Boys” (322). Murillo was a man of a very extraordinary capacity, since he could see with equal clearness, and express with equal force and facility, the two extremes of natural appearances, as far as these are connected with the human form and character; for it is so far alone that he appears to have studied them. By these two extremes I mean, on the one hand, the absolute and unadorned truth, as it may be supposed to present itself to an eye purged of all human imperfections, and divorced from all human associations -the truth, as it is IN ITSELF; and, on the other hand, the same truth, heightened and etherealized by being looked at through a veil cast over the senses by the heart and the affections, and at the same time coloured, by the misty lights that fall upon it from the fancy and the imagination, through the medium of accidental or purposed associations-the truth, as it is in us. The almost miraculous picture before us, is an example of what I mean by the first of these; and many of his scriptural pieces are examples of the second : and in each case, however strangely they may differ from each other, I conceive that what is presented to us is the truth, and nothing else,-as far as regards its purposes and effects. This is undoubtedly a dangerous faculty for one and the same person to possess ; and Murillo has occasionally proved it to be so*_but perhaps less than most others would have done. It enables him to perform either or both of the miracles ascribed to the mortal and the immortal minstrel of old ;-it not only permits him to “ raise a mortal to the skies,” but to "bring an angel down.” And it is a little singular that, in a certain class of his works, Murillo does in some degree effect both of these ends at the same time. In the best of his Assumptions of the Virgin, Holy Families, &c, the mortals are all angelic, and the angels are all mortals. What I mean is, that, in the mere mortal persons represented, there is, mixed up with their mortality, an air, an emanation of divinity,-as if they had gained a foretaste of their future state, and were already heatified; and in the divine persons there is, mixed up with their divinity, a merely humanfrequently an individual
expression, as if they could not, or would not, wholly assoil themselves from their connexion with the earth. For my own part, I believe this to be the chief, if not the only charm of Murillo's pictures of this class, --setting aside their great harmony as well as sweetness of colouring : for they have no particular merit of design or composition ; and the expressions of the faces include scarcely any thing of intellectual superiority over those that we meet in our every-day intercourse with real life ;— they have none whatever of the divine purity and poetical elevation of Raffaelle's—none of the intense sweetness and intellectual grace of Correggio's-none of the
* I allude to certain pictures of his that were formerly at the Louvre, but are vow removed to the places froin whence they came.
passionate softness of Guido's—none, even, of that rich vitality, that infinite life of mind, which half redeems the coarse realities of Rubens. But I am, in the present instance, to speak of perhaps the finest specimen in existence of Murillo's other class of works ; his Spanish Beggar Boys, -as it should be called for such they are—not Peasants. The picture is upright, and not large, and it represents two boys; one halflying on the ground, and looking up at his companion with an intense and yet vacant expression of pleasure in his face; while the other is standing munching a great piece of bread that he can scarcely hold in his mouth, and looking sulkily down at him on the ground, as if displeased at the cause of the other's pleasure. The merit of these two faces consists in the absolute, the undisguised, and unadorned truth of their expression, and its wonderful force and richness; and also in the curious characteristicness of it. By the truth of expression, I mean the fidelity with which the painter has represented what he intended to represent; and by its characteristicness, I mean the adaptation of that expression to the circumstances. The persons represented are in that class and condition of life in which the human qualities of man scarcely develope themselves at all ; in which he can scarcely be regarded in any other light than the most sagacious of the animal tribe of beings. Accordingly, the expressions of these boys respectively-rich, vivid, and distinct as they are—are almost entirely animal. There is nothing in the least degree vulgar about them ; for vulgarity is a quality dependent on society; and these have no share in society, and consequently are without any of its results, good or bad. In fact, their wants and feelings are merely animal, and the expressions which these give rise to are correspondent. The delight of the one is that of the happy colt sporting on its native common; and the sulkiness of the other is that of the ill-conditioned cub growling over its food. At the feet of the boy who is eating stands a dog, looking up expectantly; and there is nearly as much expression in his countenance as there is in either of the others. I would not lay much stress on this ; but does it not seem to have been introduced purposely, that we might compare the expression of this third animal with that of the two others, and see that there is, and that there is intended to be, little difference between the different expressions, except in degree, and that they are all alike animal? I conceive this picture to be, in its way, entirely faultless, and to have required as rare a faculty to produce it-as rare, but not as valuable)-as perhaps any thing else in the art. The companion picture to it (324), on a nearly similar subject, is excellent, but not to be compared with this.—237, in the last room (which I omitted to notice there, in order that I might connect it with these) is also an admirable work in exactly the same class. It is a portrait of a Spanish Girl with Flowers; and has the same marvellous truth and reality with the above. For a face that is not intended to include any particular kind of expression, but merely a general vivacity of eye and feature, I have never seen any thing surpassing it.-In the pictures numbered 326, the Infant Saviour with a Lamb, and 334, Assumption of the Virgin, the reader may see examples of what I have described as Murillo's other style of painting. The child, in the Assumption, is nsost exquisite. They are, however, not among his Enest works of this class; and indeed I know not where any are to be found in England at all equal to some that exist in different churches in Spain,-several of which were formerly at the Louvre.
“A Musical Party" (329) is a charming specimen of Giorgione's tasty and gallant manner of treating subjects of this kind. The feather in her cap is not more negligently gay and graceful in its air, than is the lady of this picture.—In the centre of this last room, at the end, and forming the most conspicuous object in this gallery, is a very fine picture by Guido,—The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian. Its merit, however, consists chiefly in the design and colouring—there being, as usual, little tragic expression in it. There is great depth and richness in the shadows; and the centre part, where the bright light falls, is very finely coloured as well as drawn-though the flesh is rather too marbly to give the effect of life. The only other picture I can trust myself to notice (for this paper
1 has already run to twice the length that I intended any of them to reach) is 354—“A Cardinal blessing a Priest,” by Paul Veronese. This picture, though including but two figures, is a capital specimen of that sacerdotal dignity of style of which this painter was so fond, and in which he excelled all his rivals. The Catholics of his day ought to have canonized him ; for he did more by his works to draw respect upon their religion than half its saints have by their miracles. Nothing can be finer than the air, attitude, and expression of the cardinal, in this picture, as he bends over the kneeling priest, blessing: him. He does it with an air that bespeaks an entire confidence in the efficacy of the act, as well as a consciousness of the dignity attendant on the privilege of performing it.
A FOREIGN SOLDIER'S FAREWELL TO HIS ENGLISH
BEING IN LOVE.
I Have often been in love, and often been disappointed by the intervention of some untoward circumstance, which before I was too deeply linked for my heart to disenthral itself, broke the chain, and restored me to liberty. I never was a blind lover, nor could I be accused of inconstancy. I never fell in love without a wariness, the lack of which has been the ruin of far better men than myself. This arose, I hope it will pardon the avowal, from too exalted an opinion of the sex. "I once thought a portion of it to be faultless, and in my foolish judgment had almost decided that the errors of mortality belonged exclusively to man. When I found some peccadillo in the fair object of my regard of very little consequence in itself, I suspected others of greater magnitude to be still concealed, and made haste to stifle my incipient passion. This I effected by the aid of a notion of perfectibility which I conscientiously believed to exist in woman, and I was determined should be found in her with whom I was to enjoy the consummation of mortal happiness. The false opinions of youth are frequently preservatives from evil, and I am indebted to my erroneous notions of female optimism for my escape from an early and too green state of matrimony. Every instance of disappointment in this way, while it acted as a fresh stimulus in my search of the perfect being that existed only in my fancy, increased my caution in my advances. I was consequently no sooner " off with the old love," as the song says, " than I was on with the new." was in love from sixteen to twenty-six at least half a dozen times. I remember one instance when I had advanced very far in my progress, even to what M. Beyle * calls, in his fanciful way, the seconde crystallization, when the mind passes and repasses between the ideas of the lady's perfectibility, “ her love for me, and what I must do to obtain a proof of her affection.” One of the most enduring sins of woman is coquetry; it may almost be said to commence in the cradle and linger beyond the wane of beauty. I had never dreamed of such a failing ; my own ingenuousness was so apparent that I imagined its notoriety would operate as a safeguard, and that where deceit was not even dreamt of, it would never be used in return. The first fair object of my love visited at a mansion to which I had never been invited, and in that mansion she accepted the admiration of another lover, and fed her vanity with the double incense offered from two honourable hearts at the same moment. It is but justice to declare that this failing is rarer with the male sex, ever pay court with apparent sincerity to two ladies at the same time; but how many of the latter encourage a plurality of admirers without feeling a sincere attachment for any ! In my case a misdirected billet-doux discovered my mistress's perfidy. I enclosed it in a note to my rival, congratulating him on his sharing with me the smiles of the writer; and though it by no means disclosed more than the advance of love on the lady's side to the seconde crystallization above alluded to, it exhibited a state of maturity that taught me it was of longer standing than my own. I sincerely loved, but, as I had not quite arrived at that point which hermetically seals up the eyes to all but the perfectibility
See his work entitled L'Amour.