Abbildungen der Seite

function than that of soothing the domestic affections; and achieved for themselves at last an immortality not the less noble, because in their lifetime they had concerned themselves less to claim it than to bestow(Sir Joshua and Holbein, in 0, 0. R., i. 229). 787. THE SIEGE AND RELIEF OF GIBRALTAR


John Singleton Copley, R.A. (1737-1815). It is interesting that the painter of this and many another memorable scene in English history should have been an American colonist, and the son of an Irish mother. Copley was born at Boston—in the year before that in which another celebrated historical painter, Benjamin West, was born in Pennsylvania. West became famous in England earlier of the two, and it was largely owing to his friendly encouragement that Copley came over to this country in 1774. He was, however, by that time known on this side of the water, having sent pictures over to the Academy, and he was in large practice as a portrait painter at Boston. From London he proceeded to Italy, and after a year's travel and study returned to London and established himself at 25 George Street, Hanover Square. West procured him patronage, and in 1777 he was elected A.R.A. His “Death of Chatham”(XVIII. 100, p.485), painted a year later, proved a great success, and in 1783 he was elected R.A. As one might guess from his works, Copley was a great reader-being especially fond of history. He preferred books, we are told, to exercise, and as he lived to the age of three score years and eighteen, it cannot be said that his habits injured his health. The same capacity for hard work and the same hardy constitution were present in his distinguished son, Lord Lyndhurst, who was four times Lord Chancellor of England, and lived to be ninety-two.

This is a sketch for the large picture (25 ft. by 22!) in the Guildhall which Copley was commissioned to paint by the Court of Common Council. The scene represented is the famous repulse of the floating batteries towards the end of the siege which Gibraltar, under the command of Sir George Elliott (afterwards Lord Heathfield, see XVI. 111, p. 404), sustained from the combined land and sea forces of France and Spain during the years 1779-1783. The attack here depicted was made on September 13, 1782; the floating batteries planned by an eminent French engineer at a cost of half a million sterling were supplemented by gun-boats. “The showers of shot and shell,” says Drinkwater, who was present, “which were directed from their land batteries, and, on the other hand, from the various works of the garrison, exhibited a scene of which perhaps neither the pen nor

the pencil can furnish a competent idea. It is sufficient to say, that 400 pieces of the heaviest artillery were playing at the same moment; an instance which scarcely occurred in any siege since the invention of those wonderful engines.” The Count d'Artois (afterwards Charles X.) hastened from Paris to see the capture of the place, and arrived in time to see instead the total destruction of the floating batteries. “In this picture,” says Allan Cunningham, “Copley introduced many portraits : the gallant Lord Heathfield himself is foremost in the scene of death ; and near him appear Sir Robert Boyd, Sir William Green, chief-engineer, and others. The fire of the artillery has slackened; the floating batteries, on whose roofs thirteen-inch shells and showers of thirty-two-lb. balls had fallen harmless at ten o'clock in the forenoon, are now sending up flames on all sides; whilst the mariners are leaping in scores into the sea, and English officers are endeavouring to rescue the sufferers from the burning vessels.” 308. MUSIDORA BATHING HER FEET.

T. Gainsborough, R.A. (1727-1785).

See under XVI. 760, p. 396. This is the only “nude” that Gainsborough ever painted. The picture illustrates the lines from Thomson's Summer

.. Thrice happy swain !
A lucky chance, that oft decides the fate
Of mighty monarchs, then decided thine.
For, lo ! conducted by the laughing loves,
This cool retreat his Musidora sought;
Warm in her cheek the sultry season glowed,
And rob’d in loose array, she came to bathe
Her fervent limbs in the refreshing stream.


H. Fuseli (1741–1825). This is perhaps the best picture ever painted by the eccentric AngloSwiss Henry Fuseli (or Fuessli). “What do you see, sir?” he asked once of an Academy student; “ you ought to see distinctly the true image of what you are trying to draw. I see the vision of all I paint -and I wish to heaven I could paint up to what I see.” In this remark Fuseli well hit off his character as an artist. He was full of

i Lives of the most eminent British Painters, etc., five vols., 1829, elsewhere referred to as Allan Cunningham.

enthusiasm and of literary interest ; but chiefly, no doubt, from want of early training, was generally feeble, and nearly always careless in transferring what he saw to canvas. His visions, too, were eccentric : “painter in ordinary to the devil,” he used to be called ; and as for nature, “damn nature,” he was heard to say, “she always puts me out." He was the son (the second of eighteen children) of a Zurich painter, and divided his early years between the classics and the study of prints from the old masters. His versatility (amongst other things he was ambidextrous) was expressed by his friend Lavater, the physiognomist, who, when Fuseli was going to London to seek his fortune, said to him, “Do but the tenth part of what you can.” He reached London when he was twenty-one, and having already given proof of his capacity by translating Macbeth into German, soon obtained hack-work from editors and journalists. But having received encouragement in his drawing from Sir Joshua, he went abroad for eight years to study art. On his return to London in 1799 he painted several pictures for the Shakespeare Gallery, and others from Milton and Gray; whilst he volunteered assistance to Cowper in the work of translating Homer. Fuseli was very proud of his linguistic accomplishments, and fond of airing them to the confusion of his less learned brothers in art. "I can speak Greek, Latin, French, English, German, Danish, Dutch, Icelandic and Spanish,” he said, “and so let my folly or my fury get vent through my nine different avenues." He was elected A.R.A. in 1788, R.A. in 1790, Professor of Painting 1799, and Keeper in 1803. Many are the stories told of his bursts of fury-generally accompanied with sarcasm and “ damns"—in this latter post; but he was liked by the students, says C. R. Leslie, who was one of them. “It would have required a Reynolds to do justice to the intelligence of his fine head. His keen eye, of the most transparent blue, I shall never forget." He was a great favourite among ladies; and at the meetings at Johnson's, the bookseller, where for forty years he was a conspicuous figure, Mary Wollstonecraft (whose portrait hangs in the next room) fell in love with him when he was fisty. The flirtation not unnaturally displeased the painter's admirable wife — a model whom he married in 1788. “ Sophia, my love,” he said, by way of appeasing her, “why don't you damn? You don't know how much it would ease your mind." Sophia's mind was probably better eased by Mary Wollstonecraft's departure not long afterwards for France. Fuseli had many friends also amongst his fellow-artists—chief among whom was Lawrence. “ Is Lawrence come, is Lawrence come?" were his last words. He lies buried near his friend in St. Paul's.

This is one of the pictures which Fuseli painted for Alderman Boydell's “Shakespeare Gallery” in Pall Mall. The scene is from A Midsummer Night's Dream (Act iv. Sc. 1), where Titania, Queen of the Fairies, under the spell of her husband Oberon's magic arts, takes the weaver Bottom (to

whom the mischievous elf Puck has given an ass's head) “ for her true-love." The place is Fairyland, on the

... bank where the wild thyme blows,

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows. Titania hangs lovingly over her hideous monster; and the wood is filled with her vassals—“The cowslips tall her pensioners be," they and all the blossoms contain little fairies, some of them with lovely baby-faces smiling from the flowercalyxes which form their hoods. A little elf's face (Moth's) peers up from the ground from beneath a large moth which is its body, The attendant fairies stand on either side behind Titania, and seem to look sadly on at her delusion :- but one mischievous sprite in the foreground is enjoying it, while laughingly holding a little withered gnome in a leash. Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth and Mustardseed, their companions, have been ordered to

Be kind and courteous to this gentleman ;
Hop in his walks and gambol in his eyes,
Feed him with apricocks and dewberries.

Titania. Come, sit thee down upon this flowery bed,

While I thy amiable cheeks do coy,
And stick musk-roses in thy sleek smooth head,

And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy.
Bottom, Scratch my head. ... I have an exposition of
sleep come upon me.

Titania. Sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my arms ...
So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle
Gently entwist; the female ivy so
Enrings the barky fingers of the elm.
0, how I love thee ! how I dote on thee !



Sir Martin Shee, P.R.A. (1770-1850). It is interesting that the only picture by Shee in the Gallery should be of an actor, for the painter himself had connections with the stage. He came of an old Irish family, and it was Burke who introduced him, when he came from Dublin to London in 1789, to Reynolds. His own suavity and good manners were even better introductions to the portrait painter's clientèle, and he soon met with distinguished patrons. In 1798 he was elected A.R. A., and having married, moved into Romney's old house in Cavendish Square. In 1800 he became R.A ; whilst in 1805 he published a volume of verse (followed in 1809 and

1814 by others), which called forth praise from Byron in his English Bards and Scotch Reviewers

And here let Shee and genius find a place,
Whose pen and pencil yield an equal grace :
While honours, doubly merited, attend

The poet's rival, but the painter's friend. The honour of the presidency of the Academy, to which he was elected upon Lawrence's death in 1830, did not, however, strike the public as particularly well merited, for as a portrait painter Shee had been eclipsed by such men as Hoppner, Jackson, and Raeburn, whilst Wilkie was marked out by the popular verdict for the post. The general feeling of surprise was embodied in an epigram of the time

See Painting crowns her sister Poesy !

The world is all astonished !-so is Shee!For the business and functional duties of the presidency, Shee was, however, admirably fitted. His connection with the stage was less happy. In 1824 he produced a tragedy called Alasco, of which the scene was laid in Poland. It was accepted at Covent Garden, but the licenser refused his sanction on the score of alleged treasonable allusions; and Shee was thus robbed of the unique distinction of having produced an acted play, as well as having painted portraits of actors.

William Thomas Lewis, known as “ Gentleman Lewis " from the elegance of his deportment, was the leading light comedian of his time. He first appeared at Covent Garden in 1773, and became deputy manager there in 1782, afterwards starting theatres of his own at Manchester and Liverpool. He is here “made up” in the character of the Spanish marquis, the hero in The Midnight Hour,-a comedy adapted by Mrs. Inchbald from the French,— who ultimately wins his lady-love by the stratagem of lending her his clothes, and thus getting her irate guardian to turn her out of doors as a male intruder.

« ZurückWeiter »