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in portraiture, executed in opaque colours, which could contend with them in depth of expression or in fulness of recorded life-not mere imitative vitality, but chronicled action. And we have no hesitation in asserting that where the object of the painter is expression, and the picture is of a size admitting careful execution, the transparent system, developed as it is found in Bellini or Pe rugino, will attain the most profound and serene colour, while it will never betray into looseness or audacity. But if in the mind of the painter invention prevail over veneration,-if his eye be creative rather than penetrative, and his hand more powerful than patient -let him not be confined to a system where light, once lost, is as irrecoverable as time, and where all success depends on husbandry of resource. Do not measure out to him his sunshine in inches of gesso; let him have the power of striking it even out of darkness and the deep.
If human life were endless, or human spirit could fit its compass to its will, it is possible a perfection might be reached which should unite the majesty of invention with the meekness of love. We might conceive that the thought, arrested by the readiest means, and at first represented by the boldest symbols, might afterwards be set forth with solemn and studied expression, and that the power might know no weariness in clothing which had known no restraint in creating. But dilation and contraction are for molluscs, not for men ; we are not ringed into flexibility like worms, nor gifted with opposite sight and mutable colour like chameleons. The mind which moulds and summons cannot at will transmute itself into that which clings and contemplates; nor is it given to us at once to have the potter's power over the lump, the fire's upon the clay, and the gilder's upon the porcelain. Even the temper in which we behold these various displays of mind must be different; and it admits of more than doubt whether, if the bold work of rapid thought were afterwards in all its forms completed with microscopic care, the result would be other than painful. In the shadow at the foot of Tintoret's picture of the Temptation, lies a broken rock-boulder. The dark ground has been first laid in, of colour nearly uniform ; and over it a few, not more than fifteen or twenty, strokes of the brush, loaded with a light grey, have quarried the solid block of stone out of the vacancy. Probably ten minutes are the utmost time which those strokes have occupied, though the rock is some four feet square. It may safely be affirmed that no other method, however laborious, could have reached the truth of form which results from the very freedom with which the conception has been expressed; but it is a truth of the simplest kind--the definition of a stone, rather than the painting of one-and the lights are in some degree 2 F 2
dead and cold-the natural consequence of striking a mixed opaque pigment over a dark ground. It would now be possible to treat this skeleton of a stone, which could only have been knit together by Tintoret's rough temper, with the care of a Fleming; to leave its fiercely-stricken lights emanating from a golden ground, to gradate with the pen its ponderous shadows, and in its completion, to dwell with endless and intricate precision upon fibres of moss, bells of heath, blades of grass, and films of lichen. Love like Van Eyck's would separate the fibres as if they were stems of forest, twine the ribbed grass into fanciful articulation, shadow forth capes and islands in the variegated film, and bang the purple bells in counted chiming. A year might pass away, and the work yet be incomplete; yet would the purpose of the great picture have been better answered when all had been achieved ? or if so, is it to be wished that a year of the life of Tintoret (could such a thing be conceived possible) had been so devoted ?
We have put in as broad and extravagant a view as possible the difference of object in the two systems of loaded and transparent light; but it is to be remembered that both are in a certain degree compatible, and that whatever exclusive arguments may be adduced in favour of the loaded system apply only to the ultimate stages of the work. The question is not whether the white ground be expedient in the commencement, but how far it must of necessity be preserved to the close? There cannot be the slightest doubt that, whatever the object, whatever the power of the painter, the white ground, as intensely bright and perfect as it can be obtained, should be the base of his operations; that it should be preserved as long as possible, shown wherever it is possible, and sacrificed only upon good cause. There are indeed many objects which do not admit of imitation unless the hand have power of superimposing and modelling the light; but there are others which are equally unsusceptible of every rendering except that of transparent colour over the pure ground. It
appears from the evidence now produced that there are at least three distinct systems traceable in the works of good colourists, each having its own merit and its peculiar application. First, the white ground, with careful chiaroscuro preparation, transparent colour in the middle tints, and opaque high lights only (Van Eyck). Secondly, white ground, transparent brown preparation, and solid painting of lights above (Rubens). Thirdly, white ground, brown preparation, and solid painting both of lights and shadows above (Titian); on which last method, indisputably the noblest, we have not insisted, as it has not yet been examined by Mr. Eastlake. But in all these methods the white ground was indispensable. It mattered not what trans
parent colour were put over it: red, frequently, we believe, by Titian, before the brown shadows - yellow sometimes by Rubens :-whatever warm tone might be chosen for the key of the composition, and for the support of its greys, depended for its own value upon the white gesso beneath ; nor can any system of colour be ultimately successful which excludes it. Noble arrangement, choice, and relation of colour, will indeed redeem and recommend the falsest system: our own Reynolds, and recently Turner, furnish magnificent examples of the power attainable by colourists of high calibre, after the light ground is lost -(we cannot agree with Mr. Eastlake in thinking the practice of painting first in white and black, with cool reds only, 'equivalent to its preservation ') :--but in the works of both, diminished splendour and sacrificed durability attest and punish the neglect of the best resources of their art.
We have stated, though briefly, the major part of the data which recent research has furnished respecting the early colourists; enough, certainly, to remove all theoretical obstacles to the attainment of a perfection equal to theirs. A few carefully conducted experiments, with the efficient aids of modern chemistry, would probably put us in possession of an amber varnish, if indeed this be necessary, at least not inferior to that which they employed; the rest of their materials are already in our hands, soliciting only such care in their preparation as it ought, we think, to be no irksome duty to bestow. Yet we are not sanguine of the immediate result. Mr. Eastlake has done his duty excellently; but it is hardly to be expected that, after being long in possession of means which we could apply to no profit, the knowledge that the greatest men possessed no better, should at once urge to emulation and gift with strength. We believe that some consciousness of their true position already existed in the minds of many living artists; example had at least been given by two of our Academicians, Mr. Mulready and Mr. Etty, of a splendour based on the Flemish system, and consistent, certainly, in the first case, with a high degree of permanence ; while the main direction of artistic and public sympathy to works of a character altogether opposed to theirs, showed fatally how far more perceptible and appreciable to our present instincts is the mechanism of handling than the melody of hue. Indeed we firmly believe, that of all powers of enjoyment or of judgment, that which is concerned with nobility of colour is least communicable: it is also perhaps the most rare. The achievements of the draughtsman are met by the curiosity of all mankind; the appeals of the dramatist answered by their sympathy; the creatures of inagination acknowledged by their fear; but the voice of the colourist has but the adder's listening, charm
he never so wisely. Men vie with each other, untaught, in pursuit of smoothness and smallness--of Carlo Dolci and Van Huysum ; their domestic hearts may range them in faithful armies round the throne of Raphael ; meditation and labour may raise them to the level of the great mountain pedestal of Buonarotti-vestito gia de' raggi del pianeta, che meno dritto altrui per ogni calle;' but neither time nor teaching will bestow the sense, when it is not innate, of that wherein consists the power of Titian and the great Venetians. There is proof of this in the various degrees of cost and care devoted to the preservation of their works. The glass, the curtain, and the cabinet guard the preciousness of what is petty, guide curiosity to what is popular, invoke worship to what is mighty ;-Raphael has his palace-Michael his dome-respect protects and crowds traverse the sacristy and the saloon; but the frescoes of Titian fade in the solitudes of Padua, and the gesso falls crumbled from the flapping canvas, as the sea-winds shake the Scuola di San Rocco.
But if, on the one hand, mere abstract excellence of colour be thus coldly regarded, it is equally certain that no work ever attains enduring celebrity which is eminently deficient in this great respect. Colour cannot be indifferent; it is either beautiful and auxiliary to the purposes of the picture, or false, froward, and opposite to them. Even in the painting of Nature herself, this law is palpable; chiefly glorious when colour is a predominant element in her working, she is in the next degree most impressive when it is withdrawn altogether: and forms and scenes become sublime in the neutral twilight, which were indifferent in the colours of noon. Much more is this the case in the fecbleness of imitation ; all colour is bad which is less than beautiful; all is gross and intrusive which is not attractive; it repels where it cannot enthral, and destroys what it cannot assist. It is besides the painter's peculiar craft; he who cannot colour is no painter. It is not painting to grind earths with oil and lay them smoothly on a surface.
He only is a painter who can melodize and harmonize hue—if he fail in this, he is no member of the brotherhood. Let him etch, or draw, or carve: better the unerring graver than the unfaithful pencil-better the true sling and stone than the brightness of the unproved armour. And let not even those who deal in the deeper magic, and feel in themselves the loftier power, presume upon that power-nor believe in the reality of any success unless that which has been deserved by deliberate, resolute, successive operation. We would neither deny nor disguise the influences of sensibility or of imagination, upon this, as upon every other admirable quality of art;-we know that there is that in the very stroke and fall of the pencil in a master's hand, which creates
colour with an unconscious enchantment-we know that there is a brilliancy which springs from the joy of the painter's heart-a gloom which sympathizes with its seriousness-a power correlative with its will; but these are all vain unless they be ruled by a seemly caution-a manly moderation-an indivertible foresight. This we think the one great conclusion to be received from the work we have been examining, that all power is vain--all invention vain-all enthusiasm vain-all devotion even, and fidelity vain, unless these are guided by such severe and exact law as we see take place in the developement of every great natural glory; and, even in the full glow of their bright and burning operation, sealed by the cold, majestic, deep-graven impress of the signet on the right hand of Time.
Art. IV.-The Princess, a Medley. By Alfred Tennyson.
London. 12mo. 1848. IN his lately published • Notes from Life' which, delightfully
as they read in prose, we would gladly have seen embodied in a new · Task, with such a cement of imagery and in such a framework of verse as the author of Philip Van Artevelde has at command, Mr. Henry Taylor considers the period when the poet ought to deem himself qualified for the exercise of his vocation on a large scale, and decides that, from the preparations required, this period will not arrive early. After citing the authority and example of Milton, who even in his twenty-ninth year regarded his efforts as a plucking of the · berries harsh and crude,' and who composed his great Epic in declining age, he observes that Milton's poetical faculties, as the history of poetry at large would show, were not of slower growth than those of other poets of the high and intellectual orders,' and that at all events the culmination of such poets is in middle life.'
That poets do not reach their zenith, as poets, in early youth, and that poetic works of large compass are not produced before the middle of life, seem to be indisputable positions. Very little poetry, that is not plainly immature and imperfect of its kind, has ever been produced by youths under twenty years of age: many women and aged men have written better poems than even the greatest poets have produced in boyhood. Bat Mr. Taylor proceeds to say that more illustrious examples of poetical achievement may be found belonging to periods beyond middle life than can be cited as belonging to the periods short of it ;* and this assertion, if by middle life be meant a period not commencing till
• Notes,' &c., p. 184- The Life Poetic.'