To admire on principle, is the onl}^ way to imitate without loss of originality.” Coleridge, Biographia Literaria,





The Proprietor reserves to himself the right of authorisi'ng a Translation of this Work,



If, from all that has been written on Painting, the truth could he brought out and presented clear from every ambiguity of language, the student of the present day would stand in little need of further guidance to its true principles. It is not from the want of sound dicta, or because enough has not been given to the world in the way of theory and criticism, that something still remains to be said ; but it is because far too much has been written ; and because it is the nature of error to he more prolific than truth ; and because those points on which the best writers may he mistaken, or what has more frequently happened those points on which they have been mis- taken by inferior minds, have generally become start- ing-places from which plausible, but unsound, criticism has spread itself out through all the avenues of the popular literature of the day.

The Fine Arts are often selected as themes affording opportunities for the display of eloquence and learning ; and in apparently profound dissertations accompanied often with much valuable information, theories are not unfrequently advanced utterly adverse to the



right progress of Art, theories the more dangerous for the talents with which they are advocated; and from the peculiar fashions at present dominant in criticism, I have no hesitation in expressing my con- viction that the thing, just now, most in danger of being neglected by painters is the Art of Painting ; and that want of patronage is far less to be dreaded than the want of that which patronage should foster.

The road to Art is proverbially a long one ; and it is often made longer than it need be, not only by the causes I have mentioned, but by our own mistakes. If, therefore, anything I can say should tend to shorten it to younger artists, it will be in a great measure owing to discoveries of some of my own errors, which, though made too late to be of much benefit to my- self, may possibly be of use to those whose habits are not so formed but that they may be abandoned, if wrong.

Painting and Poetry, as Sister Arts, have a family likeness ; but it is the business of each to do what the other cannot ; and words can no more become substitutes for pictures than lines and colours can supply the place of Poetry. Hence the difficulty of writing or speaking of Painting; indeed the impos- sibility of describing those things belonging to it that are most impressive. Yet Language may do something for Art. It may direct the student in all that is mechanical and scientific, and principles of Nature, as far as they are known, may be explained ; and, as we may believe Ben Jonson when he tells us, that a good poet ’s made, as well as born,”



we may be sure that this is equally true of a good painter.

The great difficulty of instruction will be found in attempting to analyze the things that are most ad- dressed to the taste and the feelings. Here the teacher must rely on his own impressions ; impres- sions liable to be biassed by a thousand accidental associations, and by peculiarities of temperament that may well lead him to mistrust himself; and he can only be sure that his guidance will be safe to others in as far as he finds his opinions confirmed by the most generally-received authorities.

If, with respect to one most important element of Art, and that too colour, I dissent from so great a painter as Keynolds, I do but follow Opie, whose opinion has carried with it that of every succeeding artist of eminence.

The Lectures I delivered at the Royal Academy form the greater part of this volume. They have been carefully revised, and re-cast into other forms ; and with such additional matter as I venture to hope may render it worthy of the attention, not only of young artists, but, in some degree, of painters past the period of pupilage, and also of that now large and increasing class of lovers of Art who adorn their houses with pictures.

If I owe any apology for what I have said of some late purchases of pictures for the National Gallery, I owe it to the public for not saying more. For the Trustees of the collection, as noblemen and gentlemen, I have the greatest respect. But I can have no respect

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for tlieir taste (as a body) when they throw away the public money on worthless pictures. It is clearly not sufficient that there should be, as there always have been, among these gentlemen, one or two who know the difference between good and bad Art ; and whose professional or non-professional acquaintance with the works of the great masters, enables them to judge of the value or originality of the pictures that may be offered to the nation, either as gifts or in the way of purchase ; for when the pictures to which I have alluded were added to the Gallery, such gentlemen must have been absent or out-voted. The abilities required to govern a country are so far from including the accomplishments necessary to the formation of a fine collection of works of Art, that it may be safely asserted they are scarcely compatible ; and the taste and knowledge of this kind, even of a Pericles or a Lorenzo de Medici, must always he as nothing, com- pared with the taste, and knowledge of an artist. I may be told that some of our eminent statesmen of the last generation have formed fine collections of the old masters ; but such collections were, in fact, formed for them by the late Mr. Seguier, and Mr. Smith, the elder, of Bond Street.

I have spoken out on this matter, from a sense of duty to the public, as well as to my professional brethren, to whom, above all others, it is important that such an institution as a National Gallery should be properly managed.

C. R. L.

December, 1854.




On the Imitation oe Nathee, and on Style. . 1

Comparison of Art with Nature. Examination of the axiom that the most perfect Art is that in which Art is most concealed. The works of Eubens suggestive of action, Hogarth’s Enraged Musician” suggestive of sound.

Wax-work, its lifelessness. Deception difl’ers from illu- sion. —Panoramic and Dioramic Art. Imitation defined by Coleridge. Painting not an invention. Error in the reasoning of Lessing. Tableaux vivants. Inferiority of Gerard Dow to Terburg, Metsu, or Jan Steen. Style.— Manner. Medimval Art. Chinese Art. Sameness not always a fault.


On the Imitation of Art. 17

Judgments of young Painters. Apparent present advan- tages of study. Real difficulties. Defects in the minds of different classes of students. Faith in the inexhaustible- ness of Nature necessary to originality. The overpower- ing Influence of contemporary Art on students. Danger of resorting to exhibitions of modern pictures as to schools. Poets not necessarily judges of Painting. Mischief done by pretenders to Taste.— Statesmen and princes rarely judges of Art. Misemployment of Michael Angelo by Leo X. The poetry of Painting. The Cephalus and Aurora” of Poussin. Tintoret. Poussin’s Polyphe- mus.”— Importance of technical excellence. Misapplica- tion of the word sensual. Remarks of Lord Lindsay.




Fra Angeleo. Heads of angels by Reynolds. Quotation from Dr. Waagen. The Expression of Hogarth aided by his colour.— Purchases of worthless pictures by the Trus- tees of the National Gallery. Francia compared with Correggio. Eclecticism of the greatest painters. Plagiarism.


On the Distinction between Laws and Rules. . 39

Genius not lawless. The laws of Art and of Nature the same. Rules not binding. Debate of the French Academy on a picture by P. Veronese. Sterne on criti- cism.— Last Supper of Leonardo di Vinci. Watteau.

Dr. Johnson and Miss Burney. Quotation from Johnson’s preface to Shakespear. The violation of rules in obe- dience to laws. How the prosperity of Art may be pro- moted.— Instances of laws. Drawing school and amateur rules.


On Classification 51

Quotation from Charles Lamb. Sancho Panza’s Story.

M. Angelo and Raphael. The subjective element. Vul- garity.— Morland not vulgar. Pretension the essence of vulgarity. French Painters of the eighteenth century. Poussin. Watteau. The objective element. Cara- vaggio.— Rembrandt.— Fuseli. Blake. High Art.— Reli- gious Art. The levelling tendency of classification according to subject. Raphael. Masaccio. Ostade. Rembrandt. Carlo Dolci. Carlo Maratti, &c.


On Self-Teaching 64

Fashion. Opie supposed to be self-taught. Examination of this opinion. Alderman Boydell. His Shakespear Gallery. His patronage of Opie. Northcote’s Slighted Beauty.” Michael Angelo, origin of his style. Raphael.

Rubens. Sir Joshua Reynolds on genius and industry.





On Genius, Imagination, and Taste. . . .71

Genius a combination of many faculties. Taste. Its rarity. The superior taste of Eapbael. Finish deter- mined by taste. Velasquez. Terburg. Cold natures, their taste. Ardent temperaments. Bad taste. Good and bad tastes often united. The revivals of Art are always with a difference of its character.


On the Ideal, and on Beauty op Form. . . 76

The Ideal not always distinct from matter-of-fact.

The Elgin horses. Faults in Flaxrnan’s animals.— The Ideal is the select. It is not the beautiful only. Raphael. The Greeks. Angelico. The connection be- tween modern and ancient Art never lost. How the antique should be studied. Guido’s Aurora.” Raphael, the painter of loveliness. Statue of Thalia. M. Angelo’s Delphic Sibyl. Perfect human beauty not to be found in an individual, and why ? Proportions of the figure rela- tively beautiful.— Grace, also relative. Beauty of old age. Of disease. Of calamity. Of death. Lord Byron’s remarks on death. Cast from the face of Napoleon. Mistakes made by Artists in representations of death.


On Drawing 88

All schools, in which drawing the figure is taught, begin with the study of the antique. Reynolds’s suggestion that students should paint their studies. Stothard’s method. Inequality of excellence in the antique. Earlier and later works. Fault in the attitude of the Fighting Gladiator.” Drawing from Nature. Flaxman and Stothard’s Practice. The knowledge of anatomy may be abused. Mr. Haydon’s theory. His autobio- graphy.— His error respecting Raphael. Fashions among students. Stothard’s drawings from the life.





On Invention and Expression. Instances from THE Old Masters 93

The Powers of invention and expression only to be sus- tained by observation. Hogarth’s habits. Stothard's sketch-books. Kaphael. M. Angelo. Anecdote of Burns.

The Supernatural not the Unnatural. A Failure of N. Poussin in the Supernatural. False notions of the Natural.

Travelling not necessary to a knowledge of human nature. Creations of the Poet or the Painter, what they really are. Selection and combination the principles on which invention works. Invention and expression the first things displayed in Art. The dark ages. Giotto. Kaphael. His Cartoons. Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper.” Principle of the early painters, resembled that of the Naturalist!. Imitations by Kaphael and M. Angelo of some of the conceptions in the Campo Santo. Orcagna’s Triumph of Death.” Early Art checked by the dread of idolatry.— The typical system adopted by M. Angelo in the Sistine Chapel. Kaphael’s Cartoons. Heads of the Saviour by da Vinci and by Kaphael. Question as to the propriety of representing the Divine nature of Christ.

The Religious sentiment not less displayed in Raphael’s late works than in his earliest. His Representations of childhood. The Cartoons, the work of Raphael’s own hands. His Sacrifice of the Innocents.” His frescoes in the Vatican. The obligations of Raphael to M. Angelo have been over-stated. M. Angelo, how greater than Raphael.

The Raising of Lazarus,” by S. de Piombo. M. Angelo’s Holofernes.” The Cartoon of Pisa.” Titian. His Power in expression. Allegory. Paul Veronese. Rubens. ,


On Invention and Expression. Instances prom

THE British School 120

Hogarth. His adherence to Nature closer than that of most dramatic writers. His wit and humour. Not a




caricaturist. His benevolence. His Art Ideal. His treatment of accessories. His representations of child- hood.— Vindicated from the charge of prostituting his Art at the suggestion of a vicious patron. His failure in Subjects from the Bible. Walpole’s Insensibility to his excellence as a painter. Exhibition of his Works in 1814. Fuseli. His Sin and Death.” The Satan of Sir Thomas Lav^rence. Fuseli’s chiaroscuro and colour.

Variety of excellence of the British school. Stothard.

Bewick. Opie. Wilkie. Haydon’s mis-statements respecting the Royal Academy.


On Composition. 155

The natural Principles of composition. The picturesque styles. Perspective. Giotto. The Campo Santo.— Goz- zoli. Masaccio’s treatment of background. The archi- tecture in Raphael’s Cartoons. The “Sacraments” of Poussin. Comparisonbetween Oi'cagna’s “Last Judgment,” and Raphael’s Dispute of the Sacrament.” Symmetry of composition. Irregularity. Perspective, some of its principles explained. Hogarth’s faults in perspective. Titian’s Peter Martyr.” His Death of Abel,” and other like compositions. The serpentine line. Hogarth’s Mis- take respecting The Laocoon.” His Analysis of Beauty.”— The Richness of Hogarth’s compositions. Their perspicuity. Drapery. Fashions in dress. Reynolds. Gainsborough. Hogarth’s use of the dresses of his time.


On Colour and Chiaroscuro 171

Wilkie’s Opinion of the importance of colour. Deprecia tion of its value by Reynolds. Rubens’s Descent from the Cross.”— Colour compared by Reynolds to language.

P. Veronese. Erroneous estimate of the Flemish and Dutch schools. Coloiir not more a sensual element of




Art than form.— P. Vei'onese not more gay in colour than Raphael. His imitation of Raphael.— Their aim in colour the same. Solemnity of the tones of Titian, Tintoret, and sometimes of P. Veronese. Venetian and Dutch colour applicable to the most sublime subjects. The admission of this by Reynolds. A taste for colour always an early development. Vulgarity in colour of European manufactures compared with those of China and Persia. Colour of the early Italians, and the Flemish Painters. The Van Eycks. Failure of modern Painters in imitating the early schools. Organization. Entire schoolshave coloured well, and entire schools have coloured badly. Cause of this. Raphael inferior in colour to the best colourists. Probable cause. The best colourists generally those who have studied Nature only. Students should begin to paint early. Raphael inferior in colour only when compared with such Painters as Titian. N. Poussin. M. Angelo. Opie’s opinion of the best mode of Study. Recom- mendation of Reynolds.— The Excellence of his drawing. Colour more difficult of acquirement than form. Chiaro- scuro a late addition to the Art. Its inseparable connection with colour. Reflections. Shadows on water. Har- mony. — Daylight. Queen Elizabeth misunderstood. West’s theory. On the treatment of blue. P. Veronese.

Hogarth on the effects of time. Tone of Ludovico Caracci. The pathetic. Subjects of wretchedness. Etty. His Art and personal character. Rubens. N. Poussin. On copying. Vehicles. Fresco. Picture cleaning.


On the Colour of Raphael’s Cartoons, and their Preservation 220

The drapery of the Saviour, in the Miraculous Draught of Fishes,” faded. Probable difference between Raphael’s choice of colour and that of Paul Veronese. Late works of Raphael, in the Louvre. History of the Cartoons.

The risk they run of destruction by Are. Suggestions for their security. Other pictures at Hampton Court.





On the Flemish and Dutch Painters op the Seventeenth Century 230

Quotation from Barry. Rubens. Rembrandt. His Pupils. G. Dow. N. Maas. Jan Steen. Ostade Teniers.

Terburg. Metsu. De Hooge. Cuyp. Ruysdael.


On Landscape 253

The religious and moral influence of Landscape. Mis- taken classification. Gainsborough. The sky. Wilson.

Cozens. Girtin. Turner. Constable. Warmth in Landscape may be expressed without what are called warm colours. Tropical Landscape.


On Portrait 280

Exhibition of the Pictures of Reynolds at the British Gal- lery,— The greatest Historical Painters always great in Portrait. Vandyke. Velasquez. Rubens. Titian. Physiognomy. Holbein. West’s family picture. Rem- brandt. — Lely. Kneller. Reynolds.— Gainsborough. Lawrenee. Jackson. Photography.

Conclusion. 309

Parting advice to young Painters with respect to their habits, modes of study, &c.



Figure from the Sistine Chapel .


The Annunciation

To face

page 28

La Disputa del Sacramento ..


Eesuscitation of the King’s Son






Poetry, or the Parnassus ....



The School of Athens ....



Cartoon of Pisa



The Misfortunes of Job .



Noah and his Family



Composition by Orcagna, and the Imitation




St. Peter Martyr



Descent from the Cross ....



St. Michael



Battle of the Amazons ....



Eembrandt (photograph) ....



Human Life



Itinerant Fiddler



The Satin Gown



Cozens, View in Italy ....



Girtin, Lake Scene .....



Group from the Sistine Chapel .



The Surrender of Breda



The Anatomist Tulp









In comparing Art with Nature, we are as apt to under- rate it, as in considering it by itself we are sometimes disposed to elevate it unduly ; and both errors stand in the way of our improvement.

Though, in a comprehensive sense, it be true that “all Nature is but Art,” and “all Chance direction;” and though it be of great importance that we should keep these truths always in mind, yet that Painting cannot rival the beauties of Nature is not a defect, for it can only be defective where it fails to do what is possible ; and how far the painter may do something else, and something valuable, and something which Nature herself refuses to do, though she teaches it, I shall endeavour to show.

The axiom that the most perfect Art is that in which the Art is most concealed, is directed, I apprehend, against an ostentatious display of the means by which




the end is accomplished, and does not imply that we are to be cheated into a belief of the artist having effected his purpose by a happy chance, or by such extraordinary gifts as have rendered study and pains unnecessary. On the contrary, we always appreciate and therefore enjoy a picture the more in proportion as we discover ourselves, or are shown by others, the why and the wherefore of its excellences, and much of the pleasure it gives us depends on the intellectual employment it affords. Nor does the concealment of Art mean concealment of imitation, or that what it gives is to pass on us for a reality, for then we should immediately want what we never miss in a fine picture, motion and sound. Both of these it is a great triumph of the painter to suggest. Rubens was pre-eminently successful in giving action to his figures, and Hogarth’s Enraged Musician,” as Fielding says, is deafening to look at.” But could the eye be deceived, from that moment the figures of Rubens would stand still, and the din of Hogarth’s groups would cease; and, indeed, such Art would be unnatural, because, unless in the representation of still life, it would have the motionless and speechless appearance of wax-w'ork the most life- like, in externals, of all the modes of imitating Nature, and for that very reason the most lifeless.

These remarks are so obvious that they may seem superfluous. I may be told that deception is not attempted, and is, indeed, generally impossible, from the circumstances of pictures being bounded by their frames, and the diminutive scale on which natural objects are most often represented. Still, as this lowest kind



of truth is sometimes the aim of the painter, though it has never been the aim of a true artist, and as I have often heard it highly applauded when to a certain degree successful, and even by painters, it seems to me of importance that we should clearly understand that the illusion of Art is quite another thing from deception of the eye, and that such deception would in fact destroy illusion.

Children and childish minds are attracted by wonders.

I remember when I was a boy seeing a picture that was placed flat against the wall at the end of a long room, representing an- open door through which a flight of stairs receded, with the figure of a man of the size of life painted as if walking up them. At the base of the canvass a real step projected on the floor of the room, and at a certain distance it was impossible to distinguish between the painted stairs and the wooden one ; indeed, so complete was the deception, that on first seeing it my only wonder was at the man’s remaining stationary. This picture seemed to me perfection, and at that time I should probably have looked on the finest Titian with comparative indifference. It was, however, the work of a very ordinary painter, and I have since learned that deception to the degree in which it was here, with the assistance of a little ingenious management, at- tained, depends merely on carefully copying some of the most obvious appearances of Nature ; and that her most charming qualities all that the greatest artists have courted in her throughout their lives with success infinitely short of their hopes may be omitted without rendering the representation less delusive.

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I would ask whether others have not felt what has always occurred to me in looking at a Panorama, that exactly in the degree in which the eye is deceived the stillness of the figures and the silence of the place produces a strange and somewhat unpleasant effect, and the more so if the subject places us in a city. We then want the hum of population, and the din of carriages, and the few voices heard in the room have an unnatural sound, as not harmonizing with the scene. Even in the Diorama, where the light and shade is varied by movement and the water is made to ripple, there ai*e still many wants to he supplied, and these are indeed suggested the more in proportion to the attainment of deception. I have no wish to disparage the ingenuity of such contrivances ; the Panorama is an admirable mode of conveying much information which by no other means can so well be given. My object is merely to ascertain how it is that there is always something unsatisfactory to speak from my own feelings, I should say unpleasant in all Art of every kind of which deception is an object. We do not like to be cheated even in a harmless way; the wonder excited by the tricks of a juggler is not with- out a mixture of humiliation ; the powers of our minds, instead of being exercised, are for the time suspended, and even our senses cease to serve us ; while the Art of a great actor delights us, not only as an imitation of Nature, but because our imaginations are excited, our understandings appealed to, and we have a secret gratification in the consciousness of the feelings he arouses within us; and these are also among the many



sources of pleasure we derive from the works of a great painter. I feel,” said Reynolds, speaking of Michael Angelo, a self-congratulation in knowing myself capable of such sensations as he intended to excite.” But neither at the theatre nor before a picture should we feel in this way were we for a moment to mistake what we see for reality.

Imitation,” says Coleridge, is the mesothesis of likeness and difference. The difference is as essential to it as the likeness ; for without the difference it would be copy or fac-simile. But to borrow a term from astronomy, it is a librating mesothesis ; for it may verge more to likeness, as in painting, or more to difference, as in sculpture.”

It is of the utmost importance, however, that we should come to a clear understanding of this difference between Painting and Nature, as from mistakes on this point have proceeded all the varieties of man- nerism that have in every age sprung up like weeds in the fair domain of Art, and not seldom with their rank luxuriance over-run its whole extent. Every fault arising from indolence, from inability, or from conceit, may be sheltered, as it has been sheltered, under the principle that the object of Painting is not to deceive. Defective colouring, mannered forms, impu- dent and tasteless bravura of execution, as well as servile imitation of that which is very easy to copy, the immaturity of early Art.

Perhaps the best safeguard against mistake on this subject will be found in our perception that the Art of Painting is in no respect, excepting in what relates to



its mechanical instruments, a human invention, but the result solely of the discovery and application of those laws by which Nature addresses herself to the mind and heart through the eye; and that there is nothing really excellent in Art, that is not strictly the conse- quence of the artist’s obedience to the laws of Na- ture.

Now deception, excepting with extraneous assistance, or but for a moment, is impossible. One instant’s close examination of a wax figure which we have just before believed to be alive, show-s us to what an infinite distance it is removed from Nature. And yet such is the effect of its approach to life, that even after we know what it is, we feel as much as ever its want of the power to move, and which we never miss in a fine statue. In all I have said, therefore, of deception of the eye, I have only meant deception for a moment or at a distance ; for Nature allows of no substitutes that will bear continued or close inspection. And yet while she has placed this beyond the reach of human hands, she has entrusted Art with a peculiar mission the power, as I have said, of doing something for the world which she herself refuses to do. How many of her most exquisite forms, graces, and movements how many of her most beautiful combinations of colours, of lights, and shadows that are instant seen and instant gone does she not permit the painter to transfix for the delight of ages ! And, indeed, he is entrusted with another, and a higher task, that of lead- ing us to a perception of many of her latent beauties, and of many of her appearances which the unassisted


eye might not recognise as beauties, but for the direction of the pencil. These considerations alone are enough to show that Art has a place assigned to it in the great scheme of beneficence by which man is allowed to be the instrument of adding not only to his sources of innocent enjoyment, but of instruction. Painting and sculpture,” says Richardson, are not necessary to our being ; brutes and savage men subsist without them ; but to our happiness as rational creatures they are absolutely so.”

From what I have said, it is evident I must be at issue with Lessing, when he tells us that all appearances of Nature which, in their actual state, are but of an instant’s duration all such appear- ances, be they agreeable or otherwise, acquire through the prolonged existence conferred on them by Art, a character so contrary to Nature, that at every successive view we take of them their expression becomes weaker, till at length w^e turn from the con- templation in weariness and disgust. La Mettrie, who had his portrait painted and engraved in the character of Democritus, laughs only on the first view. Look at him again, and the philosopher is converted into a buffoon, and his laugh into a grimace. Thus it is likewise with the expression of pain. The agony which is so great as to extort a shriek, either soon abates in violence or it must destroy the unhappy sufferer. Where torture so far overcomes the enduring fortitude of a man’s nature as to make him scream, it is never for any continued space of time ; and thus, the apparent perpetuity expressed in the representation



of Art would only serve to give to his screams the effect of womanish weakness or childish impatience.”

Lessing argues in this way to show why the sculptor of the Laocoon has not chosen to make the victim bellow with pain, as in the description of his sufferings by Virgil. The attitudes of the entire group, however, being but of an instant’s duration,” are, on the prin- ciple urged by the critic against a stronger expression, as inadmissible as if the sculptor had made the victim appear to shriek with anguish. Then as to the un- pleasant effect of a laughing portrait, we all feel how disagreeable an unmeaning laugh is in nature ; and in a portrait, unconnected with story or incident, it be- comes unmeaning or worse, if, as probably in the in- stance alluded to by Lessing, the face looks at us. He was, in fact, blinded by his theory, to the pri- vilege which Art, when it does not pretend to be Nature, possesses of perpetuating motion and expres- sion ; a pow'er as undeniable as it is inexplicable. At the bidding of Michael Angelo, life bursts from the grave, and its tenants rise, fall, or struggle with the fiends who drag them down ; and on the canvasses of Wilson or Gaspar Poussin clouds open ; lightnings flash, and the limbs of trees are shivered, and we recur again and again to the contemplation of images of terror and grandeur that have impressed, as they do us, past gene- rations, and shall still impress those to come; and so far from their expression becoming,” as Lessing says, weaker at every successive view,” it grows in reality stronger and stronger ; for it is among the most remark- able qualities of every work of true genius, that it gains



on us with time, while that which is merely specious strikes most at first, and never again with the same effect.

But the mission of Art includes other things which Nature refuses to do, besides prolonging motion and expression, and suggesting sound.

Wilkie took great pleasure in arranging tableaux vivants for the amusement of his friends. I remember seeing, at his house, such representations of Vandyke’s Cardinal Bentivoglio, his whole-length of Charles the First in his robes, and other well-knowm pictures. As may be supposed, they were remarkably w'ell imitated, the company were delighted, and one gentleman went so far as to say I shall never enjoy pictures again.”

I confess my impression was exactly the reverse. I felt that I should enjoy the originals of these tableaux far more for having seen these living imitations of them ; and I think every painter must so feel who has amused himself or been amused in this way. The draperies stubbornly refuse to fall in lines as fine, or in masses of light and shade, and colour, as broad as in the picture imitated ; the unimportant throughout the composition obtrudes, and the important often conceals itself ; and though, here and there, exquisite beauties of effect may appear which no art can rival, yet even these are apt to be out of place in the general arrangement, and the whole imitation has always far less of, that great essential, breadth, than w'e find in the particular picture imitated. It is not that Nature can- not do and has not done everything that is impressive

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in Art, and infinitely more than Art has ever attempted ; for she and she alone is the maker of Art, but having done this, she refuses to make pictures ; because she ■will not interfere with the craft of the painter any more than she will allow him to substitute the results of his craft for her matchless works.

And now we come to a great and unceasing difficulty ; the difficulty of choosing from among the qualities of Nature that are most within reach of the pencil, those we should strive to the utmost to attain, and those which may be left out with advantage, or but slightly indicated. All the most agreeable traits of Nature, as w'ell as all the least, are so variously modified by circumstances and by associations, that to attempt to give anything like general rules for selection and re- jection— that difficult task in which the painter is en- gaged from the beginning to the end of his work, and on which all that the mind has to do with Art depends to attempt to give general rules for this would only lead to mannerism. Hogarth, in his Battle of the Pictures,” has with infinite humour opposed his Bac- chanalian scene in the Rake’s Progress to a “Feast of the Gods ; but, when we look at these seriously, we see two subjects brought together in which, what- ever they may have in common, the treatment proper to each would be wholly improper if exchanged.

Coleridge has well guarded the passage I have quoted from him, by calling the difference from Nature, which is essential to imitation, “a librating difference.” It will vary, in the hands of a painter of taste, with the subject; and his imitation will even be less literal



in some parts of the same picture than in others, with- out destroying the unity of the whole.

Eeynolds, in his “Death of Dido,” indicates the wound in her side by a slight touch of red, while a mere matter-of-fact painter would draw our attention to it by a degree of exact imitation that would be sickening.

It is such a plodding and indiscriminate habit of copying Nature that places Gerard Dow, to me, much below the best painters of the Dutch school. Where he would render with scrupulous precision every wrinkle in the face of an old woman, greater artists, as his master, Eembrandt, for instance, would express the character of flesh, and make the head a means of displaying a fine effect of chiaroscuro ; and where Dow would count the threads of a carpet, Terburgh, Metzu, or Jan Steen would express the beauty of its surface or the richness of its colour.

It is not to his high finish that I object, but to the tastelessness of his finish. Where the imitation of minutiae is to stop it is not easy to determine, but it is clear that the finish that be-littles, or that suggests at the first glance the labour and time em- ployed in it, must be wrong.

His Art is, therefore, exactly that which may be accomplished by a clever, a patient, and laborious man, without imagination, and with but ordinary taste. Perhaps he stands at the head of a class of such painters, and a very large class it is ; while tlie Art of Terburgh, of Metzu, of Jan Steen, and, I need not say, of Eembrandt, like all sterling Art, is ideal. Nature not altered, but to advantage dressed.”



But here I feel the difficulty of offering advice to students of different degrees of advancement the impossibility, indeed, of accommodating anything I can say to the individual wants of all. In the prac- tice of drawing or painting from Nature, there can be no doubt that, until correctness of eye and obe- dience of hand are attained, the closest possible, the most minute imitation, is the best. The aim at decep- tion can do no harm until these powers are matured ; for, as Fuseli remarks, deception is the parent of imitation and till the taste is well advanced it is, in a high degree, dangerous to attempt to generalize. We should be able to put everything we see in Nature into a picture before we venture to leave anything out. I have known young painters commence with generaliza- tion, affecting a contempt for the attention to minutige of some of their contemporaries, the secret of which lay in their own indolence. But the result of this was always that a vague and uninformed style, in the end, consigned their productions to oblivion. No painter ever generalized with more taste and meaning than Velasquez, but his early works are remarkable for precision of imitation, of which “The Water Carrier,” belonging to the Duke of Wellington, is an admirable specimen. Indeed it may safely be assumed that no painter is likely to become great who does not begin with scrupulous finish. There may have been instances of the reverse,