Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

the Earl of Blessington (who bequeathed the picture to the nation), is in the centre ; on the left, the Marchioness Townshend; on the right, Mrs. Beresford. “The Miss Montgomerys,” says Moore in his Memoirs, “to whose rare beauty the pencil of Sir Joshua has given immortality, were among those whom my worthy preceptor most boasted of as pupils ; and I remember his description of them long haunted my boyish imagination as though they were not earthly-born women, but some spiritual creatures of the element."" It is exactly in this spirit that Sir Joshua has painted them. “Great, as ever was work wrought by man. In placid strength, and subtlest science, unsurpassed ;-in sweet felicity, incomparable. If you truly want to know what good work of painter's hand is, study those two pictures from side to side, and miss no inch of them : in some respects there is no execution like it ; none so open in the magic. For the work of other great men is hidden in its wonderfulness—you cannot see how it was done. But in Sir Joshua's there is no mystery : it is all amazement. No question but that the touch was so laid ; only that it could have been so laid, is a marvel for ever. So also there is no painting so majestic in sweetness. He is lily-sceptred: his power blossoms, but burdens not. All other men of equal dignity paint more slowly; all others of equal force paint less lightly. Tintoret lays his line like a king marking the boundaries of conquered lands; but Sir Joshua leaves it as a summer wind its trace on a lake ; he could have painted on a silken veil, where it fell free, and not bent it. Such at least is his touch when it is life that he paints: for things lifeless he has a severer hand. If you examine the picture of the Graces you will find it reverses all the ordinary ideas of expedient treatment. By other men flesh is firmly painted, but accessories lightly. Sir Joshua paints accessories firmly, flesh lightly nay, flesh not at all, but spirit. The wreath of flowers he feels to be material ; and gleam by gleam strikes fearlessly the silver and violet leaves out of the darkness. But the three maidens are less substantial than rose petals. No flushed nor frosted tissue that ever faded in night-wind is so tender as they ; no hue may reach, no line measure, what is in them so gracious and so fair. Let the hand move softly—itself as a spirit; for this is

1 This one and the "Holy Family" (78), which latter, owing to its bad state of preservation, is no longer publicly exhibited : see p. 654.

Life, of which it touches the imagery” (Sir Joshua and Holbein, in 0. 0. R., i. 221-223). Yet there is a shadow upon the fair flowers of Sir Joshua's fancy. The three daughters, as we have seen, all made “good matches," and the painter with that graceful flattery of his, pictures them as Graces decorating a statue of the God of Marriage. But “the world round these painters had become sad and proud, instead of happy and humble ;-its domestic peace was darkened by irreligion, its national action fevered by pride. And for sign of its Love, the Hymen, whose statue this fair English girl, according to Reynolds's thought, has to decorate, is blind, and holds a coronet” (Oxford Lectures on Art, $ 183). 890. GEORGE IV. AS PRINCE OF WALES.

Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A. (1723-1792).

See under 11, p. 399. “ To make a portrait of him at first seemed a matter of small difficulty. There is his coat, his star (and ribbon of the Garter), his wig, his countenance simpering under it. ... But this George, what was he? I look through all his life, and recognise but a bow and a grin. I try and take him to pieces, and find silk stockings, padding, stays, a star and blue ribbon . . . and then nothing. ... I suppose he must have been very graceful. There are so many testimonies to the charm of his manner, that we must allow him great elegance and powers of fascination. He and the King of France's brother, the Count d'Artois, a charming young prince who danced deliciously on the tight-rope . . . divided in their youth the title of first gentleman in Europe" (Thackeray: The Four Georges). 182. HEADS OF ANGELS.

Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A. (1723-1792)

See under ut, p. 399. A sketch of five cherub heads-portraits in different views of the daughter of Lord William Gordon, by whose wife the picture was presented to the National Gallery-very characteristic of “the grace of Reynolds" :-“ that is to say, grace consummate, no painter having ever before approached Reynolds in the rendering of the momentary loveliness and trembling life of childhood, by beauty of play and change in every colour and curve ” (Academy Notes, 1858, p. 34). “An incomparably finer thing than ever the Greeks did. Ineffably tender in the touch, yet Herculean in power ; innocent, yet exalted in feeling ; pure in colour as a pearl ; reserved and decisive in design ... if you built a shrine for it, and were allowed to see it only seven days in a year, it alone would teach you all of art that you ever needed to know” (Queen of the Air, $ 176).

Lent by the Dilettanti Society.
PORTRAITS OF MEMBERS OF THE DILETTANTI

SOCIETY.
Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A. (1723-1792).

See under 111, p. 399. See the companion picture, p. 417. The members here represented are (beginning with the head lowest on the left): (1) Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, Bart., M.P., well known in his day for his benevolence, patriotism, and upright character ; (2) above him, Sir John Taylor, Bart., F.R.S. ; (3) lower down again, Stephen Payne Gallwey, Esq., ; (4) below in the centre Sir William Hamilton ; (5) above him, holding up a glass, Richard Thompson, Esq.; (6) above to the extreme right, W. Spencer Stanhope, Esq.; and below, (7) John Lewin Smith, Esq. The most distinguished of the party is Sir William Hamilton, who was for many years British Ambassador at the Court of Naples, and who in 1782 married the beautiful Emma Lyon—whose portrait now hangs on the opposite wall (312). Amongst other books, he wrote several volumes on Etruscan antiquities, and Reynolds marks his speciality by placing an Etruscan vase on the table before him.

301. VIEW IN ITALY. Richard Wilson, R.A.(1714-1782). See under XVII. 304, p. 430.

1 " Finer than ever the Greeks did." It may be interesting to add that elsewhere Mr. Ruskin cites this sketch as a typical instance of Gothic, as contrasted with Greek art. A final separation," he says, "from the Greek art, which can be proud in a torso without a head, is achieved by the master who paints for you five little girls' heads, without ever a torso" (Art of England, p. 87). Besides “the face principal, instead of the body," another typical contrast to Greek art (and through it, Florentine) may be noticed in the fact that Reynolds lets the ringlets of his cherubs float loosely in the air, instead of arranging them in " picturesque regularity (see on this subject Catalogue of the Educational Series, p. 45).

754. PORTRAITS OF TWO GENTLEMEN.

Sir Joshna Reynolds, P.R.A. (1723-1792).

See under 111, p. 399. A charming portrait of two young connoisseurs of the time, painted in 1778-1779, when one was twenty-eight, and the other twenty-four. They are here shown as kindred spirits, brought together by their common love of the arts; but their subsequent careers were tragically different. The elder man, on the spectator's left, is the Rev. George Huddesford, who in his youth was a painter, and a pupil of Sir Joshua. But he afterwards settled down into the cultivated college don and country parson, became a D.D., and a fellow of his college (New College, Oxford), and divided his leisure between college affairs and writing comic and satirical pieces (“ Salmagundi," “ Topsy-Turvy,” etc). He was born in 1750 and died in 1809. His companion has more inspiration in his face, and a certain wild look which was not belied by his after life. He is Mr. John Codrington Warwick Bampfylde, who was born in 1754, of an old Devonshire family, and was educated at Cambridge, where he wrote some pretty sonnets. He is said to have been of a very amiable disposition, and to have been beloved by all who knew him. In one of his sonnets he says of himself

I the general friend, by turns am joined with all,
Lover and elfin gay, and harmless hind;
Nor heed the proud, to real wisdom blind,

So as my heart be pure, and free my mind. But he afterwards went mad, owing, it is said, to a hopeless passion-an explanation which finds some countenance in his amorous verses,—and he died in a private asylum at the age of forty-two. There is a little record of the friendship between the two men in Huddesford's Poems (1801), in which are included a few “written by an abler pen than my own”: they are by Bampfylde. In Bampfylde's own poems, too, there is a sonnet written after dining at Trinity, Oxford ; this was on a visit doubtless to Huddesford, whose father was President of Trinity.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

“I WAS pleased with the reply of a gentleman, who being asked which

book he esteemed most in his library, answered, - Shakespeare'; being asked which he esteemed next best, replied — Hogarth.' His graphic representations are indeed books; they have the teeming, fruitful, suggestive meaning of words. Other pictures we look at, —his we read” (CHARLES LAMB : On the Genius

and Character of Hogarth). “I believe that with the name of Richard Wilson, the history of

sincere landscape art, founded on a meditative love of Nature,

begins for England ” (RUSKIN : The Art of England, Lecture vi.) 1097. A LANDSCAPE.

Unknown. Attributed, when presented by the trustees of the British Museum, to Wilson (see under 304, p. 430). 1161. MISS FENTON AS “POLLY PEACHUM."

William Hogarth (1697-1764). Apart from the intrinsic merit of his pictures, Hogarth should be especially interesting as the first man of genius in the native British School. He was born in London, the son of a Westmoreland schoolmaster, who had come to the capital and worked as a literary hack. “ The love of mimicry common to all children," says William Hogarth in the Memoranda which are the chief material for his biography, “ was remarkable in me ;” and his inclination for art caused his father to apprentice him to a silver-plate engraver in Cranbourne Street,

« ZurückWeiter »