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explained philosophically, and confirmed by many examples drawn from art and nature.
In the performance before us, the Author illustrates his general remarks by the conduct of two eminent artists.
« Two instances occur to me of two painters (Rembrant. and Pouslin) of characters totally opposite to each other in every respect, but in nothing more than in their mode of composition and management of light and Ihadow. Rembrant's manner is absolute Unity; he often has but one groupe, and exhibits little more than one spot of light in the midst of a large quantity of shadow; if he has a second mass, that second bears no proportion to the principal.
• Pouslin, on the contrary, has scarce any principal mass of light at all, and his figures are often too much dispersed, with. out sufficient attention to place them in groupes.
« The conduct of those two painters is entirely the reverse of what might be expected from their general stile and character ; the works of Poussin being as much distinguished for fimplicity, as those of Rembrant for combination. Even this condud of Pouffin might proceed from too great an affection to simplicity of another kind; too great a desire to avoid that oftentation of art, with regard to light and shadow, on which Rembrant so much wished to draw the attention : however, each of them ran into contrary extremes, and it is difficult to determine which is the most reprehensible, both being equally distant from the demands of Nature, and the purposes of Art.
The Author observes, that it is the knowledge of those powers and faculties of our nature, to which Art addresses it. self, that will enable the artist to distinguish between those rules that require implicit obedience, and those that are of less consequence, and may be more easily dispensed with.' This is sufficiently illustrated by the practice of the greatest painters. We shall insert, as a specimen, what is said of a rule laid down by Fresnoy:
It is given as a rule, for instance, by Fresnoy, That the principal Figure of a Subject mui a pear in the midst of the Pitture, under the principal light, to distinguijh it from the rest. A painter who mould think himself obliged firic?ly to follow this rule, would incumber himself with necaleis difficulties; he would be confined to great uniformity of composition, and be deprived of many beauties which are incompatible with iis observance. The meaning of this rule extends, or ought to extend, no furiher than this - That the principal Figure should be immediately. diftinguished at the firit glance of the eye; but there is no necelicy that the principal sighé thould fall on the principal figure, or that the principal figure mould be in the niddle of the pic. ture. It is fufficient that it be distinguiihed by its place, or by the attention of other figures poinung it out to the fpcctator.
So far is this rule from being indispensable, that it is very sela dom practised, other considerations of greater consequence standing in the way. Examples in opposition to this rule, are found in the Cartoons, in Christ's Charge to Peter, the preaching of St. Paul, and Elymas the Sorcerer, who is undoubtedly the principal object in that picture. In none of those compofitions is the principal figure in the midst of the picture. In the very admirable composition of the Tent of Darius, by Le Brun, Alexander is not in the middle of the picture, nor does the principal light fall on him ; but the attention of all the rest immediately distinguishes him, and distinguishes him more properly; the greatest light falls on the Daughter of Darius, who is in the middle of the picture, where it is more necessary the principal light should be placed.'
The Author has not confined himself to such topics as are naturally connected with his subject. He makes frequent digreffions, for the sake of introducing some new observation on painting, which may have a tendency to improve the taste of his hearers. Thus he observes, " Though it is not my business to enter into the detail of our art; yet I must take this opportunity of mentioning one of the means of producing that great effect which we observe in the works of the Venetian painters; as I think it is not generally known or observed. It ought, in my opinion, to be indispensably observed, that the masses of light in a picture be always of a warm mellow colour, yellow, red, or a yellowilh white ; and that the blue; the grey, or the green colours be kept almost entirely out of these masses, and be used only to support and set off these warm colours; and for this purpose, a small proportion of cold colours will be sufficient.
• Let this conduct be reversed, let the light be cold, and the surrounding colours warm, as we often see in the works of the Roman and Florentine painters, and it will be out of the power of art; even in the hands of Rubens, or Titian; to make a picture splendid and harmonious.
Le Brun and Carlo Maratti were two painters of great me. sit, and particularly in what may be called Academical Merit, but were both deficient in this management of colours ; the want of observing this rule is one of the causes of that heaviness of effect which is so observable in their works. The prine cipal light in the picture of Le Brun, which I just now mentioned, falls on Statira, who is dressed very injudiciously in a pale blue drapety; it is true, he has heightened this blue with gold, but that is not enough; the whole picture has a heavy air, and by no means answers the expectation raised by the print. Pouffin often made a spot of blue drapery, when the general hue of the picture was inclinable to brown or yellow;
which shews fufficient'y, that harmony of colouring was not a part of the art that had much engaged the attention of this great painter.
"The conduct of Titian in the picture of Bacchus and Ariadne, has been much celebrated, and justly, for the har. mony of colouring. To Ariadne is given (say the Critics) a red scarf, to relieve the figure from the sea which is behind her. It is not for that reason, but for another of much greater consequence, for the sake of the general harmony and effect of the picture. The figure of Ariadne is separated from the great groupe, and is drested in blue, which added to the colour of the sea, make that quantity of cold colour which Titian thought necessary for the support and brilliancy of the great groupe, which groupe is composed, with very little exception, entirely of mellow colours. But as the picture in this case would be divided into two diftinct parts, one half cold, and the other warm, it was necessary to carry some of the mellow colours of the great groupe, into the cold part of the picture, and a part of the cold into the great groupe ; accordingly Titian gave Ariadne a red scarf, and to one of tie B. cchante, a little blue drapery.' · If attention to arrangement had deprived us of such observations as those which we have cited, it would afford matter of regret to all lovers of the Arts. We must observe, however, that our Author appears to have been too negligent of order in his discourse. His propensity to digression has sometimes be. trayed hion into inaccuracies, which it would have been easy to avoid. Thus, in page 9, he examines fimplicity, which he for bears to consider as implying that exact conduct proceed. ing from an intimate knowledge of fimple unadulterated nature, as it is then only another name for perfection. He proceeds, therefore, to consider simplicity in another sense of that word, as a gencral corrector of excess. While employed in discurfing this subject, he observes, p. 11, as we are speaking of the moit refined and íubile idea of perfeétion, may we not enquire, whether a curious eye may not discern some faults, even in those great inco?' meaning Poussin and Le Seur. Thus, for the sake of introducing a remark on the works of these French painters, he returns to the first idea of simplicity, which he had told us he ment not to examine. An error of this kind muit, doubtlefi, be considered as a blemish in a discourse which contains many excellent rules and observations, conveyed in a very good style; which, however, is rather (pirited than elegant *; always Aowing, sometimes verbose, but in general dis
* Elegance always supposes the highest degree of correctness and purity. This our Author has not attained. P. 28, . It is presenting
tinguished by the happy medium between too much simplicity and too much refinement.
to the eye the same effi&t as that which it has been accustomed to frel.' P. 33, ' By recommending the attention of the artist to an ac. quaintance with the possions and affections of the mind.' There are too many examples of this kind, which would be more excusable in a large work than in a discourse of thirty-eight pages.
ART. IV. A Proposal for Uniformiry of Weights and Measures in Score
land, ty execution of the Laws now in force. With Tables of the English and Scorch Standards, and of the customary Weights and Measures of the several Counties and boroughs of Scoiland; Comparisons of the Standards with each other, and with the County Measures; Tables and Rules for their reciprocal Conver. fion; and some Tables of the Weight and Produce of Corn, &c. Addressed to his Majesty's Sheriffs and S:ewarts-depute, &c. 8vo.
35. Elliot, Edinburgh. Cadell, London. 1779. TX7 E cannot give a better idea of the scope of this Work VV than in the words of the Author.
• The advantages of uniformity in weighis and measures are so great, and to general, that it has been an object of the legislature in every commercial kingdom.
• In Englad, from Magna Charta down to the present time, there are above fifty acis in the Itatute book concerning weighis and meatures.
• In Scoiland, since the Afifa of King David I. there are above forty acts of parliament upon the same subject.
• About the year 1956, a committee of one House of Commons was appointed "10 enquire into the original fiandards of weights and measures in England, and to consider the laws relating thereto; ard to report their observations thereupon, together with their opinion of the most eficetual means for a certaining and enforcing uniform and curtain landards of weights and measures to be used for the future."
- This committee, taking the afillance of able artists and ingenious men, made a laborious and accurate comparison of the several ftandards of weights and measures accounted the standards; but which differed confiderably from one another. By this comparison they ascertained the true medium ttandard. They also considered the whole laws relative to weights and measures, and came to several resolutions, expressed at length in two reports made by then to the House of Commons in 1758 and 1759. Upon these reports, which contain the whole history and liate of the English weights and measures, and the material laws concerning them, two bills were brought into the House of Commons in the year 1,05. The first is intitled, “ A bill for ascertaining and establishing uniform and cer. rain ftandards of weighis and measures throughout the kingdom of Great Britain," &c. The second is intitled, “ A bill for enforcing uniformity of weights and measures to the itandards thereof by the law to be eftablished.”
• These bills were printed, and laid over, with a view that the pallic might have an opportunity of caovafing them, and suggel. ing proper additions and amendments. It was agreed, that certain clausus should be inserted for including Scotland, which had doc originally been in the contemplation of the committee. But much is is to be lamented, the subject has not again been resumed by the House.
. While this subject was under the confideration of the House of Commons, an idea was sugge led, that one of the great causes of the inchcacy of the many laws for establishing standards, and directing uniformity, was, the difficulty of carrying them into execution, without accurate tables for converting the cottomary weights and measures into the ftandards.
" The necessity of such tables is very obvious. People who use, for the same purposes, measures differing both in fize and name, Speak as it were different languages; and it is not enough to make a Jaw appointing all persons to Ipeak the same language in that respect, without also making some provifion for teaching them to do so. The case is even worse where the different weights or measures have the same names; for unless they who have occasion to use them, are not only ascertained that they speak of different things, though under the same names, but also are taught where the difference lies, and how great it is, they are led unwittingly into great deception. As, for instance, the boll is the general measure for corn over all Scotland ; yet, it may be said, there are bardly two counties in Scotland where the boll-measure is exactly the same, and there are some countie's where the boll contains more than double what it does in others. The Trone weight, commonly called the mucol wright, falls under the fame observation. So, unless people are appriled of the differences, and taught how to convert the several weights and measures readily into one another, it will ever be a vain project to expect general conformity to the law. For that purpose, tables Mould be formed by public authority, and put upon public record, .' This plan is necessary for another reason ; namely, that it would 'be improper to destroy the memory and knowledge even of the weights and measures intended to be laid alde;' bécause, without that knowledge, ancient rights, ancient trade, and ancient history, could not be understood.
• Scoich writers have, for some time patt, discovered a laudable ambition to acquire a proper knowledge of the English language ; but we have frequent occafion to remark, that from their great folicitude to avoid Scoiticifms they frequently are led into faully Anglicijms, as is the case wich our Author, in the passage bere referred to. He does not mean that the bill was laid over (covered) with paint, or with gold, or with any other substance; his intention is to say, ibat the business lay over, i. e. was neglected, and not brought to a period at that time. No error in language hath of. fended our critical delicacy so often as this particular iottance; nor can we help being amazed that an error so very ablurd thould be so long perfilled in. Is it possible that any person who hath had only a moderate share of education can be ignorant that the preterite of the aliive verb so lie is lay—and of the verb to say (to place upon any thing) is laid."