Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

cessor, almost with the same precision genius in the progress of the fine arts is as was observable in the works of the the same in every country. That when Egyptians.

the man is dissatisfied with what the child Giovanni Cimabue was both a painter learned, he gradually passes from the and architect, he was born about the ruder elements to those which are less so, year 1240. Although it appears pro- and from thence to diligence and preci. hable he originally studied under the sion, afterwards advancing to the grand Greek artists, who had been invited and select, at length attains facility of to Florence, yet he early deviated from execution. Such was the progress of their manner.

Lanzi observes, he con the fine arts in Greece, and such has sulted nature, corrected in part the rec been that of painting in Italy. tilinear forms of his design, gave ex The Pisani (one of whom has been pression to the heads, folded the drapery, before noticed as a sculptor) and their and grouped the figures with much scholars preceded the Florentine painters, greater art than the Greeks. His talent and diffused a new system of design over did not consist in the graceful; his Italy. It would be injustice, observes Madonnas had no beauty, his angels in Lanzi, to overlook them in the imthe same piece have all the same forms. provement of painting, in which design Wild as the age in which he lived, he is of so much importance, or to suppose succeeded admirably in heads full of that they did not signally contribute to character, especially in those of old men, its improvement ; again, if all the early impressing an indescribable degree of Italian painters were to be exclusively bold sublimity, which the moderns have derived from the two Florentine masters, not been able greatly to surpass. Vast every style of painting ought to resemand inventive in conception, he executed ble ihe style of those masters, yet in large compositions, and expressed them examining the old paintings of Siena, of in grand proportions.

Venice, of Bologna, and of Parma, they Giotto, another name eminent amongst are found to be dissimilar in idea, in the early painters of Florence, was a choice of colouring, and in taste of comshepherd-boy; a sheep drawn by him position. from nature on a stone attracted the Lanzi's second proposition is, that if notice of Cimabue, who happened to see the improvement of painting was not it as he was passing; Cimabue, with the solely due to the Florentines, yet no consent of Giotto's father, took him to Flo- people excelled or contributed by exrence for instruction. Giotto commenced ample so much to the progress of art as by imitating, but quickly surpassed his they did ; that Giotto was as much the master; through him, symmetry became father of the new method of painting, as more chaste, design more pleasing, and Boccaccio was the father of the new specolouring softer than before: the meagre cies of prose composition; after the hands, the sharp pointed feet, and staring time of the latter any subject could be eyes, (remnants of the Grecian manner,) elegantly treated of in prose; after the all acquired more correctness under him. time of the former painting could exIf Cimabue is to be considered as the press all subjects with propriety. A Michael Angelo_of his age, Giotto was Simon da Siena, a Stefano da Firenze the Raphael. There is much learned and others, added charms to the art, but controversy as to the share to which that they and others owe to Giotto the the two great Florentine artists, Ci- transitions from the old to a new manmabue and Giotto, are 'entitled as the ner. The services of Giotto were sought founders of the modern school of paint by the greatest potentates and families ing in Italy. The impartiality and in- in every part of Italy, and after his genuity with which this question has death the same universal applause folbeen investigated by Lanzi, entitles him lowed his disciples throughout Italy :of all others to the merit of being the thus becoming the model for the stubest authority, and he decides that the dents during the fourteenth century, as improvement in painting is not due to was Raphael in the sixteenth, and the Florence alone; that the career of human Carracci in the seventeeth century.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]

CHAPTER VII.

genius of such a painter to attain excel

lence. The revival of Painting from the time

It was not, however, in the of Cimabue and Giotto to that of Florentine school alone that this imLeonardo Da Vinci, M. Angelo, and provement is discernible; an examinaRaphael.

tion of the early pictures of the schools

of Siena, Bologna, and Parma suffiTHE works of the Italian writers on ciently shows that a similar cause was the fine arts are filled with long dis- operating nearly at the same time in difquisitions on the causes which are sup- ferent places; and the progress of the posed to have led to the improved style of art was rapid and universal throughout Giotto ; each party advancing some par- the whole of Italy. ticular reasons for his theory, though it is The genius of Giotto, however, formed evident that the true cause was the dis an era in the rapid advance of the Flocovery and study of the specimens of rentine school; his example incited ancient Grecian sculpture. The effect of others to exertion, and his disciples, by these on the productions of the Pisani, availing themselves of his discoveries, and others, (among the first who im- and following in his track, assisted in proved modern sculpture,) is sufficient diffusing a knowledge of his principles to show that they were also the princi- and improved method; thus laying the pal cause of the change of style in the groundwork for still higher perfection in arts of design and painting. A slight the art, though in the capacity of humble inspection of the works of Giotto ma. imitators of his style. nifests how much he was indebted to the Amongst the most important of the newly-found monuments. The secret successors of Giotto, was Masaccio once discovered, it only required the (Maso di S. Giovanni), a name which

D

forms an æra in the history of art. His and emulation amongst the artists of principles were founded on the works of the times, and not only tended mainly Ghiberti and Donatello; he had ac to the advancement of the art, but proquired perspective from Brunelleschi,and bably called into action powers and had long studied the remains of ancient genius which, at a less fortunate pesculpture at Rome. From his works, it riod, would have remained dormant. is apparent that he had made a great The schools of Italy, before this attainadvance in diversifying the positions and ment of excellence by mutual emulation, characters; and in foreshortening his strongly resembled each other, but havfigures he appears to have studied the ing arrived at maturity, each began to anatomy of the body more carefully than display a marked and peculiar character. his predecessors. The expression of his This soon became more conspicuous, heads is often graceful and elegant; he from the introduction into Italy, about exhibits considerable freedom and sim- the middle of the fifteenth century, of the plicity in the folds and arrangement of art of painting in oil, which enabled his drapery, and much truth, variety, artists, in their smaller works, to obtain and delicacy in his colouring. His pic- more brilliancy and depth. The inventures became the study of all the best tion of the arts of engraving on copper artists in his own time, and in that of and wood was also one of the great Pietro Perugino, and of his great pupil causes of the advancement of design, by Raphael. This artist died in 1443.* spreading over the whole of Europe the

Amongst the imitators of Masaccio, compositions of the great masters, whose one of the most eminent was Ghirlan- works, till then, had been confined to a daio, the artist in whose school Michael single spot. Angelo studied; his works exhibit clear Of the three great artists, whose genius ness and purity of outline, correctness was to bring to maturity all that was of form, considerable invention and excellent in painting, and to expound facility of expression ; and he is con- and simplify the rules of art to their sidered by Mengs as the first Florentine successors, Leonardo da Vinci appeared who, by means of true perspective, was the first. He was born in 1432, twentysuccessful in grouping and in depth of three years before Michael Angelo. composition.

His biographers concur in representing These labours of the Tuscan painters him as “ endowed by nature with a bring us to the beginning of the sixteenth genius uncommonly elevated and penecentury, when much that was excellent trating, eager after discovery, and diliin art had been attained by the careful gent in the pursuit not only of what study and imitation of nature, which related to the three arts dependent on had the effect of imparting more variety design, but to mathematics, mechanics, and life, especially to the heads. Indeed, hydrostatics, music, and poetry. He was the artists of later times have not much versed also in the accomplishment of surpassed their predecessors in this horsemanship, fencing, and dancing. His respect. The whole, however, that was

were polished and affable, accomplished, amounted to little more fitting him for the society of the great, than a careful imitation; ideal beauty, with whom he lived on a footing of fulness and grandeur of design, harmony familiarity and friendship." of colouring, aërial perspective, and va In addition to his great attainments riety and freedom, were still wanting, in as an artist, he was distinguished as a order to carry the art to the perfection scientific writer ; he was a discoverer in which it subsequently attained.

optics and mechanics; his hydraulic The taste for magnificent edifices works on the Adda, which he rendered having revived throughout Italy, many navigable for two hundred miles, conof the most splendid of those public and tinue to the present day monuments of private buildings, which still remain at his mechanical science. Some general Rome, Florence, Milan, Mantua, and observations contained in his writings, Venice, were erected about this period. upon the inductive method of philosoThe demand for ornamental architecture, phizing, are almost couched in the same as well as for interior embellishments, terms as were the great aphorisms which, necessarily created a spirit of rivalry in the succeeding age, rendered the name

of Bacon immortal. * The celebrated epitaph on Sir C. Wren, in St. Paul's, was borrowed from that on Masaccio, “Experiment," says he, “is the inwhich is in the Carmelite Church in Rome, the terpreter of the secrets of nature; it never walls of which he had painted in fresco. :: If any one seeks to know my tomb, or name, sometimes deceive itself, we must con

misleads us. Though our reason may this church is my monument," &c.

manners

sult experience; and vary the circum- Florence before he was thirty. Whilst stances in our experiments until we can there, however, he painted little except draw from them general rules, for it is his celebrated picture of the Last Supfrom hence that these rules are to be per; but, during this period, he raised derived." Again, “ I am about to treat the school of Milan to great eminence of a particular subject; but first of all by superintending an academy of the I shall make some experiments; because arts, which produced illustrious pupils. my plan is to appeal to experience, and This, and the production of his Last from thence to demonstrate why bodies Supper (one of the greatest triumphs of are compelled to act in a certain manner. art), render his stay at Milan one of the This is the method to be pursued by most important periods of his life. This such as would investigate the pheno- picture * is well known to all who take mena of nature." His different memo the slightest interest in the fine arts, by randa on art abound with very useful the celebrated engraving of Raphael observations on the mechanical powers Morghen. The picture itself has long and muscular action of the human frame. been destroyed, but we are fortunate He was originally taught by Verrochio, in having in this country in the posan artist of some eminence; he soon, session of the Royal Academy) a very however, surpassed his teacher, though fine copy of it by Oggione, and Sir it is remarked that he retained through Thomas Lawrence succeeded in collectlife traces of his early education, and ing, at a great price, the studies made, as that, like his master, he designed more he conceived, by Da Vinci, for the difreadily than he painted; and that in his ferent heads. After the misfortunes of designs and countenances he seems to Sforza, Leonardo returned to Florence, have prized elegance and vivacity of ex- and during the thirteen years he remained pression more than dignity and fulness there, painted some of his best works; of contour.

and it was at this time that he executed His mode of painting may be divided the Cartoon of the Battle, which was into two styles, -one abounding in sha- designed to rival the work of Michael dow, which gives admirable brilliancy Angelo. He went to Rome at the time to the contrasting lights; the other more Leo X. became Pope, but remained there quiet, and managed by merely having only for a short time; and it is stated recourse to middle tints. In each, the that it was his procrastinating disposigrace of his design, the expression of the tion and disinclination to finish his mental affections, and the delicacy of his works, that caused Leo X. to withhold pencil, have not yet been surpassed, or

from him his patronage. perhaps equalled. He appears, however,

• The history of the misfortunes which led to to have been more solicitous to advance the destruction of this picture are curious-it was his art than to multiply his pictures; a

originally painted in oil instead of fresco ; and

from some defect in the oil or plaster, it soon kind of timidity, and fastidiousness, -a peeled off, and was at various times retouched and longing after an excellence which he con repainted. The refectory of the convent in which sidered he could not attain-appear often ing no great esteem for this production, the middle

it was painted was low and damp: the friars hay. to have induced him to leave his works of the wall on which it was painted being in a line unfinished, not being able to arrive at

with their kitchen, a door-way was cut through

the picture. The chief destruction took place in that truth which he considered necessary 1770 by one Mezza, who actually scraped off all to perfection. In addition to his merit as the remaining outlines of the picture, and restored

heads of his own in all the figures. And in 1796, a painter, he was eminent as a sculptor.

when the French occupied Milan, the refectory His life is usually divided into four was first a barrack and then for some years a periods; the first during the time he re magazine for forage; but notwithstanding this, in mained at Florence. The second was

the year 1828, we saw a painter mounted upon

an immense scaffolding, copying for some crowned whilst he was at Milan, where he was in head, with great care,this mere ghost of its former vited by Ludovico Sforza, and where he picture is collected from tradition; and through

All that is known in reality of the is represented to have delighted every one the medium of several excellent copies, some

m by artists of note, who studied the original by performing on a silver lyre (a new in

in the day of its greatest preservation. The one strument of his own construction) no from which the celebrated engraving by Raphael less than by his eloquence and his poetry. Morghen, was taken is from a fresco painted by

Marco d'Oggione, in 1514, at the refectory of a Here he remained till 1499, absorbed in

suppressed convent at Castellazo, assisted, howabstruse studies and in mechanical and ever, by sketches of Leonardo. hydrostatical labours for the state. The

It is remarkable that two judicious critics in this

country have both mistaken the subject entirely. seventeen years he spent at Milan, were Mr. Addison calls it the Feast at Cana; and Mr. after he had attained the maturity both

Roscoe considers the Saviour as in the act of disof his age and fame, as he did not leave pensing the elements of bread and wine, and

founding the Sacrament of the Supper,

greatness.

of

D2

Francis I., who had seen the painting during a life of eighty-seven years; of the Last Supper at Milan, became whilst Raphael, who died at thirty-seven, desirous of possessing so eminent an in the full vigour of life, left an infinite artist; and although Da Vinci was then variety of pictures*. The last, and, peran old man, he invited him to his court. haps, greatest effort of his genius, is the

The rivalry which existed between Transfiguration. Mengs observes, that Da Vinci and Michael Angelo, and, the this contains more excellencies than any fact that the latter was preferred to of his numerous works. It is well known him both at Rome and at Florence, pro- by the various celebrated and costly enbably induced him to quit his native gravings which have been made of it. country with little regret, particularly We hope, however, at no very distant as, by withdrawing from all cause of period, to furnish engravings of this and excitement and irritation, he was enabled others of the most celebrated producto consult his own ease and happiness. tions of the great masters, at a price He accordingly went to France, where, which will enable the most humble to however, he expired in 1519, in the arms obtain them; so that we may be enaof his royal patron, before he had em- bled, hy thus diffusing the knowledge, ployed his pencil in his service.

to raise the standard of taste for works Raphael de Santi, or Sanzio, the of art. third and last of the great triumvirate, In speaking of the three great maswas the son of an inferior painter, and ters of painting, who, together, appear was born at Urbino in 1483. He was to have attained every degree of excelearly placed at Perugia, under Pietro lence of which the art is susceptible, the Perugino, an artist of considerable ce name of Fra Bartolommeo must not be lebrity, and whose style he in a great omitted, even in this short notice. “He," measure adopted in his early works; but, observes Fuseli, “ first gave gradation like his great contemporaries, he soon to colour, form and masses to drapery, surpassed his master, abandoning the a grave dignity, till then unknown, to exstiffness of his draperies, his dryness ecution. If he were not endowed with and harshness, and animating with spirit the versatility and comprehension of the gestures and countenances of his Leonardo, his principles were less mixed heads. The bent of his genius was to- with base matter, and less apt to miswards the voluptuous and graceful, and lead him. As a member of a religious led him to that ideal beauty, grace, and order, he confined himself to subjects expression which may be considered as and characters of piety; but the few the most refined and difficult province nudities he allowed himself to exhibit of painting. Whilst at Rome he princi- shew sufficient intelligence and still pally studied the remains of Grecian

more style. He foreshortened with sculpture, by which he perfected his truth and boldness, and wherever the knowledge of the art; and he also de- figure did admit of it, made his drapery voted much time to the study of the an the vehicle of the limb it invests. He cient buildings in that city. He studied.

* Raffaelle Sanzio was one of the geniuses the six years under his relation Bramante, most favoured by nature, to whose development the architect, in order that at his death the culture and taste of the age, the society of the he might succeed him in the manage- princes, and the progress of his predecessors in the

great men then living, the wise magnificence of ment of the building of St. Peter's. A fine arts equally contributed. He was inferior to vivid apprehension, a sort of fervour in

Michael Angelo in the knowledge of the human

machine, and in the art of executing possible subseizing the sudden expression of pas- jects ; but he was superior to all in the execution sion, and a facility of execution, seem to

of subjects of fact, in which he carried the expres

sion of the passions and feelings of the soul to have marked his earliest works. The

perfection. Thence as Buonaroti strikes the career of Raphael was, however, as mind, compels it to think and to admire, Raffaello

goes straight forward to the heart, overwhelming short as it was brilliant; yet a careful

it with a magical delight, and obliges it to feel, investigation of his works, in the order though uneducated and unused to the language of of time in which they were executed, the tine arts. Recognising, however, the excelshew, even to a common observer, the heart than mind, and are more touched by fact than continued and rapid improvements he by the possible, though sublime, Raffaello has, for made in the highest branches of his prince of painting, and it mea were differently art; whilst Da Vinci appears to have formed, the crowu of supremacy would belong to been almost paralyzed by hesitation and Michael Angelo. Raffaello was a good architect; be doubt, and to have been in a constant

commented Vitruvius, and he is thought to be the

author, at least as far as the substance of it, of a state of balance betwixt his notions of beautiful letter to Leo X., on the manner of drawelaborate finish and want of persever-ing copies of the antiquities of Rome. He also ance. He left behind him but few works

directed, and perhaps modelled, the statue of Jonas, which is still in Rome, at the Madonna del Popolo.

« AnteriorContinuar »