« PreviousContinue »
hill could only obtain forty-shillings per square yard for the Cupola of St. Paul's, and the Great Hall at Greenwich hospital, both of which he painted.
THE CRUCIFIXION, BY RUBENS. In the Church of St. Peter, at Cologne, there is an altar piece, by Rubens, of the Crucifixion of the Apostles. Strangers who visit this church, and whose expectations have been highly raised, are at first sadly disappointed; but on their attention being suddenly diverted to some other object, the picture is turned in the frame, and all the perfections of the great artist's genius break upon the view. The first exhibition is a copy, on the back of the original picture, by a modern painter ; and the illusion is practised to increase the effect of the performance, of which the possessors are so justly proud.
POETRY AND PAINTING. A number of friends had one day met in the painting room of Annibal Carracci, among whom was his brother Augustin, whose pride it was to be thought as distinguished for his skill in poetry, as Annibal was for his skill in painting. Augustin had just arrived from Rome, and after praising greatly the monuments he had seen there of ancient sculpture, he enlarged particularly on the beauty of the Laocoon.
Annibal neither said any thing, nor seemed to pay any attention to the eloquence of his brother, while every other person present was listening with the most intense interest. He even turned aside, and as if he
had nothing better to do, began with a careless air to exercise his pencil on the wall. Augustin, piqued at his brother's apparent indifference, called out to him, and asked, “Whether he did not think the Laocoon was all that he had been representing ?” Annibal turning round, replied, Yes indeed, brother, and behold there what you have been describing." While Augustin had been talking, Annibal was occupied in sketching on the wall a representation of the admirable group of statuary which was the subject of eulogium. The sketch was happy, and the company loud in the expressions of their admiration. Augustin confessed that his brother had fallen on a mode of exhibit. ing the beauties of the work in question, which left far behind any representation he could give in words. Annibal withdrew smiling, saying, that “Poets painted with words, painters with the pencil.”
SIR GODFREY KNELLER. Sir Godfrey Kneller lessened his own reputation, by making it subservient to his fortune : he united the highest vanity with the most consummate negligence of his character. He had the singular honour of painting the portraits of ten sovereigns, and amassed a fortune of £2000 a year, although he lived magnificently, and lost £20,000 in the South Sea scheme. He is said to have given as a reason for preferring portrait painting, that “Painters of history make the dead live, and do not begin to live themselves till they are dead. I paint the living, and they make me live.
GODFREY SCHALKEN. Godfrey Schalken, a painter who displayed much delicacy in finishing, was particularly fond of painting candle lights. He placed the object and a candle in a dark room, and looking through a small hole, painted by daylight what he saw in the dark chamber. He once painted a portrait of King William the Third ; but as the piece was to be by candle light, he gave his majesty the candle to hold, until the tallow ran down upon his fingers; and, as if to justify this ill breeding, he drew the picture in the same situation. Delicacy formed no part of Schalken’s. character; having drawn a lady who was marked with the small pox, but had handsome hands, she asked him, when the face was finished, if she must not sit for her hands? “No," said the insolent artist, “I always draw them from my housemaid.”
JERVAS. Jervas, whose name has been handed to posterity in the works of Pope, with whom he was very intimate, was excessively vain of his talents and his person. Having succeeded happily in copying a picture of Titian, he looked first at the one, then at the other, and then with parental complacency exclaimed, “Poor little Tit! how he would stare !”
Jervas had ventured to look on the beautiful Countess of Bridgewater with more than a painter's eye ; but neither his presumption nor his passion could extinguish his self love. One day, as she was sitting to him, he ran over the beauties of her face with rapture. “But,” said he,“ I cannot help telling your ladyship, that you have not a handsome ear." “ No!” said the countess pray, Mr. Jervas, tell me what is a handsome ear ?" Jervas turned aside his cap, and showed his own.
COPY OF A CORREGGIO. Jacques Antoine Arland, a native of Geneva, having copied the Leda of Correggio, all Paris was struck with the performance. The Duc de la Force gave twelve thousand livres for it; but being a sufferer by the Mississippi scheme, he restored it to Arland, allowing him four thousand livres for the time he had possessed it. In 1721, Arland brought this chef d'auvre to London, but would not sell it, although he got six hundred pounds for a copy of it. He afterwards destroyed the original in a fit of piety at Geneva ; but still with so much parental fondness, that he cut her to pieces anatomically.
FRESCO PAINTINGS. Various attempts have frequently been made to separate fresco paintings from the walls on which they are executed, in order to rescue them from the destructive effects of time and weather ; but all have been unsuccessful until very recently.
In the beginning of the last century, Antonio Contri of Ferrara succeeded in taking several heads from a wall at Mantua, and transferring them to can
But this work required long and difficult prepa
rations, which were besides only calculated for even walls, and for taking off small paintings. The labours of Contri, as well as the later trials in France, Naples, and at Modena, were confined, with more or less success, to transferring paintings, piece by piece, from walls or linen, to new linen, and never to pannels. Subsequently, the mode of sawing the paintings from the wall was adopted ; but this method was always attended with danger, and often to the destruction of the picture.
At length, however, a process has been discovered, by which fresco paintings of any size may be safely and expeditiously transferred to pannels, without doing the least injury to the original design. The honour of this discovery, which is calculated to render so essential a service to the Arts, belongs to Steffano Barezzi, a native of Milan. His method consists in laying a piece of prepared linen against the wall, which extracts the painting so completely, and in such a manner, that the artist, with a sure and uniform motion, can draw off the linen in a perfect state with the painting, so that the wall itself remains quite white. The linen is then stretched upon a pannel, from which it is afterwards drawn, while the painting itself remains fixed upon the pannel without sustaining the smallest injury.
In this manner Barezzi has already transferred several paintings of Lunio and Marco d'Oggione. The Roman Government, sensible of the importance of the discovery, have assigned him the church Della Pace, where he can apply his method to some greater paintings of Marco d'Oggione.