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exposing his pictures for public criticism was a very good one. I do not know why the judgment of the vulgar, on the mechanical parts of painting, should not be as good as any whatever; for instance, as to whether such or such a part be natural or not. If one of these persons should ask why half the face is black, or why there is such a spot of black or snuff as they will call it, under the nose, I should conclude from thence that the shadows are thick or dirtily painted, or that the shadow under the nose was too much resembling snuff, when, if those shadows had exactly resembled the transparency and colour of nature, they would have no more been taken notice of than the shadow in nature itself.” Such were the sound and sagacious opinions of this eminent man when he sat down to think for himself and I speak from practice.
He had a decided aversion to loquacious artists; and spoke little himself while he was busied at his easel. When artists love to be admired for what they say, they will have less desire to be admired for what they paint. He had, in truth, formed a very humble notion of the abstract meditation which art requires, and imagined it to be more of a practical dexterity of hand than the offspring of intellect and skill. He assured Lord Monboddo that painting scarcely deserved the name of study; it was more that sort of work (he said) which employed the mind without fatiguing it, and was thereby more conducive to individual happiness than the practice of any other profession. This Northcote pronounces to be the speech of a mere portrait-manufacturer; but genius, when congenially employed, is seldom conscious of exertion.
Dr. Johnson, when questioned by Boswell on the merit of portraits, said, “ Sir, their chief excellence is being like; I would have them in the dress of their times, to preserve the accuracy of history-truth, sir, is of the greatest value in these things." To give the exact form and pressure of the man, and ! animate him with his natural portion of intellect and no more, requires a skilful hand, and a head which the love of fattering is unable to seduce from the practice of truth. To paint a likeness is, however, a very common effort of a very common mind; but to bestow proper expression, just character, and unstudied case, is infinitely difficult. Reynolds said, he could teach any boy whom chance might throw in his way to paint a likeness. “To paint like Velasquez is another thing. He did at once, and with ease, what we cannot accomplish with time and labour. Portraits, as well as written characters of men, should be decidedly marked, otherwise they will be insipid, and truth should be preferred before freedom of hand.”
In 1777 he had delivered seven discourses on art, which he collected into a volume, and, that they might want no attraction to recommend them to popularity, he inscribed them to the king in a dedication written with care and caution, and neither deficient in self-approbation, nor unadorned by classical allusion.
He was an ardent lover of his profession, and ever as ready to defend it when assailed as to add to its honours by the works of his hands. When Dr. Tucker, the famous Dean of Gloucester, as. serted before the Society for encouraging Commerce and Manufactures that a pin-maker was a more useful and valuable member of society than Raphael, Sir Joshua was nettled, and replied with some asperity :-" This is an observation of a very narrow mind: a mind that is confined to the mere object of commerce-that sees with a microscopic eye but a part of the great machine of the economy of life, and thinks that small part which he sees to be the whole. Commerce is the means, not the end, of happiness or pleasure : the end is a rational enjoyment by means of arts and sciences. It is therefore the highest degree of folly to set the means in a higher rank of esteem than the end. It is as much as to say that the brickmaker is superior to the architect."
Sir Joshua now painted another portrait of Johnson at the request of Mr. Thrale. This seems to have been accomplished without any of those bickerings which distinguished the former sittings. Reynolds observed once to an acquaintance, that knowledge was not the only advantage to be obtained in the company of such a man—that the importance of truth and the baseness of falsehood were inculcated more by example than by precept, and that all who were of the Johnsonian school were remarkable for a love of truth and accuracy. One day Boswell was speaking in high commendation of the Doctor's skill and felicity in drawing characters : Sir Joshua said—“ He is undoubtedly admirable in this ; but in order to mark the characters which he draws, he overcharges them, and gives people more than they have whether of good or bad.” It would be difficult to express more neatly and simply the character of our artist's own portraiture. He bestowed beauty and mind with no sparing hand. Every captain has the capacity of a general, and every lord a soul fit for wielding the energies of an empire.
Reynolds was now fifty-four years old-he had acquired fame and amassed a fortune-yet such was his unabated activity, that he continued to paint with the avidity of one labouring for bread; nor is there any proof that he even wished to confine himself to personages of note and talent. He raised his price to fifty guineas, without lessening the number of his commissions: he was in the wane of life; the wise were anxious to secure as many proofs of his genius as they could before he went-and the rich were glad of the increased price, for it excluded the poor from indulging in the luxury of vanity.
This fortunate man began now to have warnings of the kind which wait plentifully on advancing
years. Goldsmith had gone: Garrick followed and bodily decay was visibly creeping over Johnson. Reynolds himselfma frugal liver and a cautious man -was still hale and robust; he had painted one generation, was painting a second, and, in the opi. nion of the third, he promised to last to give them the benefit of his skill. - He had no thought indeed of retiring to spend in leisure the money he had gathered : painting was to him enjoyment; and he knew that, if he withdrew from the scene, much of his social distinction would fall from about him. The powerful and the rich are soon willing to forget men of genius when they cease to minister to their vanity or their pleasures, and are no longer the talk of the town. Reynolds was aware of this-no one had yet appeared capable of disputing with him the title of first portrait-painter of the age:-with this spell he had opened the doors as well as the purses of the proud and the far-descended, and taken his seat among the eminent of the land; and here he was resolved to remain.
In the year 1780 the Royal Academy was removed to Somerset House-rooms were prepared for the reception of the paintings-and models and apartments selected for the keeper and the secretary. Sir Joshua taxed his invention in the embellishment of the ceiling of the library, and could think of nothing better than Theory sitting on a cloud--a figure dark and mystical, which fails to explain its own meaning nor is the meaning much to the purpose when it is explained. To the exhibition of this year he sent the portrait of Miss Beauclerc as Spenser's Una-and the heads of Gibbon the historian and Lady Beaumont. He also painted for the Royal Academy the portrait of Sir William Chambers, and that likeness of himself which contains the bust of Michael Angelo. It was one of the pleasant delusions of his life that the divinity of Michael Angelo inspired him in his productions--he
was ever calling on his name-invoking him by higa works—and making five guincas an hour in the belief that the severe majesty of Buonarotti was a least dimly seen among the curls and flounces, lace waistcoats, and well-powdered wigs of his English nobility.
He was questioned by Northcote on the merits of two French portraits, by Madame le Brun, which were then exhibited in London: “ Pray what do you think of them, Sir Joshua ?” Reynolds : “ Thai they are very fine." Northcote: “ How fine ?" Reynolds : "As fine as those of any painter.. Northcote: “ As fine as those of any painter !-do you mean living or dead?” Reynolds, sharply: « Either living or dead ?" Northcote: “Good God) what, as fine as Vandyke ?” Rey,olds : “ Yes, and finer.” Reynolds had seen-as inel see now-the wreck of high hopes and lofty expectations; he rated vulgar popularity at its worth, and disdained to interfere with the brief sunimer of Madame Le Brun. · A series of allegorical figures for the window of New College Chapel at Oxford employed his pencil during the year 1780, and for several succeeding years. There are seven personifications in all Faith, Hope, Charity, Temperance, Fortitude, Jus tice, and Prudence. That Reynolds has conferred a healthier hue and more splendid colours on those seven abstract personages than some of them enjoyed before, I readily allow; but they are a cold and unnatural progeny, and are regarded only as embellishments. Without nature there can be no sentiment-without flesh and blood there can be no sympathy. In the group of Charity a critic disco vers that the “ Fondling of the infant, the importunity of the boy, and the placid affection of the girl, together with the divided attention of the mother are all distinguishably and judiciously marked with the knowledge of character for which the great