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ligent study, and more careful imitation of nature. But how was he attracted to nature, but by the sympathy of real taste and genius? He also copied the portraits of Gandy, an obz scure but excellent artist of his native county. A blockhead would have copied his master, and despised Gandy: but Gandy's style of painting satisfied and stimulated his ambition, because he saw nature there. Hudson's made no impression on him, because it presented nothing of the kind. Why then did Reynolds perform what he did ? From the force and bias of his genius. Why did he not do more? Because his natural bias did not urge him farther. As it is the property of genius to find its true level, so it cannot rise above it. He seized upon and naturalized the beauties of Rembrandt and Rubens, beČause they were connate to his own turn of mind. He did not at first instinctively admire, nor did he ever, with all his professions, make any approach to the high qualities of Raphael or Michael Angelo, because there was an obvious incompatibility between them. Sir Joshua did not, after all, found a school of his own in general art, because he had not strength of mind for it. But he introduced a better taste for art in this country, because he had great taste himself, and sufficient genius to transplant many of the excellences of others.
Mr Farington takes the trouble to vindicate Sir. Joshua's title to be the author of his own Discourses--though this is a subject on which we have never entertained a doubt; and conceive indeed that a doubt never could have arisen, but from estimating the talents required for painting too low in the scale of intellect, as something mechanical and fortuitous ; and from making literature something exclusive and paramount to all other pursuits. Johnson and Burke were equally unlikely to have had a principal or considerable hand in the Discourses. They have none of the pomp, the vigour, or mannerism of the one, nor the boldness, originality, or extravagance of the other. They have all the internal evidence of being Sir Joshua's. They are subdued, mild, unaffected, thoughtful,-containing sensible observations on which he laid too little stress, and vague theories which he was not able to master. There is the same character of mind in what he wrote, as of eye in what he painted. His style is gentle, flowing, and bland: there is an ineflicient outline, with a mellow, felicitous, and delightful fillingup. In both, the taste predominates over the genius: the manner over the mațier ! The real groundwork of Sir Joshua's Discourses is to be found in Richardson's Essays.
We proceed to Mr Fi's account of the state of art in this., country, a little more than half a century ago, which is no less
accurate than it is deplorable. It may lead us to form a better estimate of the merits of Sir Joshua in rescuing it from this lowest point of degradation, and perhaps assist our conjectures as to its future progress and its present state.
. It was the lot of Sir Joshua Reynolds to be destined to pursue the art of painting at a period when the extraordinary effort he made came with all the force and effect of novelty. He appeared at a time when the art was at its lowest ebb. What might be called an English school had never been formed. All that Englishmen had done was to copy, and endeavour to imitate, the works of eminent men, who were drawn to England from other countries by encouragement, which there was no inducement to bestow upon the infe. rior efforts of the natives of this island. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Frederigo Zucchero, an Italian, was much employed in Eng. land, as had been Hans Holbein, a native of Basle, in a former reign. Charles the first gave great employment to Rubens and Vandyke. They were succeeded by Sir Peter Lely, a native of Soest in Westphalia ; and Sir Godfrey Kneller came from Lubec to be, for a while, Lely's competitor : and after his death, he may be said to have had the whole command of the art in England. He was succeeded by Richardson, the first English painter that stood at the head of portrait painting in this country. Richardson had merit in his profession, but not of a high order : and it was remarkable, that a man who thought so well on the subject of art, and more especially who practised so long, should not have been able to do more than is manifested in his works. He died in 1745, aged 80. Jervais, the friend of Pope, was his competitor, but very inferior to him. Sir James Thornhill, also, was contemporary with Richardson, and painted portraits ; but his reputation was founded upon his historical and allegorical compositions. In St Paul's cathedral, in the Hospital at Greenwich, and at Hampton Court, his principal works are to be seen. As Richardson in portraits, so Thornhill in history painting was the first native of this island, who stood preeminent in the line of art he pursued at the period of his practice. He died in 1732, aged 56.
• Horace Walpole, in his Anecdotes of Painting, observes, that " at the accession of George the First, the arts were sunk to the lowest state in Britain.” This was not strictly true. Mr Walpole, who published at a later time, should have dated the period of their utmost degradation to have been in the middle of the last century, when the names of Hudson and Hayman were predominant. It is true, Hogarth was then well known to the public; but he was less so as a painter than an engraver, though many of his pictures repre. senting subjects of humour and character are excellent; and Hayman, as a history painter, could not be compared with Sir James Thorn
"Thomas Hudson was a native of Devonshire. His name will be prescrved from his having been the artist to whom Sir Joshua Reynolds was comunitted for instruction. Hudson was the scholar of Richardson, and married his daughter ; and after the death of his father-in-law, succeeded to the chief employment in portrait painting. He was in all respects much below his master in ability ; but being esteemed the best artist of his time, commissions flowed in upon him; and his business, as it might truly be termed, was carried on like that of a manufactory. To his ordinary heads, draperies were added by painters who chiefly confined themselves to that line of practice. No time was lost by Hudson in the study of character, or in the search of variety in the position of -his figures : a few formal attitudes served as models for all his subjects; and the display of arms and hands, being the more difficult parts, was managed with great economy, by all the contrivances of concealment.
" To this scene of imbecile performance, Joshua Reynolds was sent by his friends. He arrived in London on the 14th of October 1741, and on the 18th of that month he was introduced to his future preceptor. He was then aged seventeen years and three months. The terms of the agreement were, that provided Hudson approved him, he was to remain four years : but might be discharged at pleasure. He continued in this situation two years and a half, during which time he drew many heads upon paper; and in his attempts in painting, succeeded so well in a portrait of Hudson's cook, as to excite his master's jealousy. In this temper of mind, Hudson availed himself of a very trifling circumstance to dismiss him. Having one evening ordered Reynolds to take a picture to Van Haaken the drapery painter ; but as the weather proved wet, he postponed carrying it till next morning. At breakfast, Hudson demanded why he did not take the picture the evening before ? Reynolds replied, that “ he delayed it on account of the weather ; but that the picture was delivered that morning before Van Haaken rose from bed.” Hudson then said, “ You have not obeyed my orders, and shall not stay in my house." On this peremptory declaration, Reynolds urged that he might be allowed time to write to his father, who might otherwise think he had committed some great crime. Hudson, though reproached by his own servant for this unreasonable and violent conduct, persisted in his determination : accordingly, Reynolds went that day from Hudson's house to an uncle who resided in the Temple, and from thence wrote to his father, who, after consulting his neighbour Lord Edgcumbe, directed him to come down to Devonshire.
Thus did our great artist commence his professional career. Two remarks may be made upon this event. First, by quitting Hudson at this early period, he avoided the danger of having his mind and his hand habituated to a mean practice of the art, which, when established, is most difficult to overcome. It has often been observed in the works of artists who thus began their practice, that though they rose to marked distinction, there have been but few who could wholly divest themselves of the bad effects of a long-continued exer. cise of the eye and the hand in copying ordinary works. In Hud. son's school, this was fully manifested. Mortimer and Wright of Derby were his pupils. They were both men of superior talents; but in Portraits they never succeeded beyond what would be called mediocre performance. In this line their productions were tasteless and laboured : fortunately, however, they made choice of subjects more congenial with their minds. Mortimer, charmed with the wild spirit of Salvator Rosa, made the exploits of lawless banditti the chief subjects of his pencil; while Wright devoted himself to the study of objects viewed by artificial light, and to the beautiful effects of the moon upon landscape scenery: yet, even these, though deserv. ing of great praise, the effects of their early practice, were but too apparent; their pictures being uniformly executed with what artists call a heavy hand.' p. 19.
This is a humiliating retrospect for the lovers of art, and of their country. In speculating upon its causes, we are half afraid to hint at the probable effects of Climate, --so much is it now the fashion to decry what was once so much overrated. Our theoretical opinions are directed far more frequently by a spirit of petulant contradiction than of fair inquiry. We detect errors in received systems, and then run into the contrary extreme, to show how wise we are. Thus one folly is driven out by another; and the history of philosophy is little more than an alternation of blind prejudices and shallow paradoxes. Thus climate was every thing in the days of Montesquieu, and in our day it is nothing. Yet it was but one of many cooperating causes at first--and it continues to be one still. În all that relates to the senses, physical causes may be allowed to operate very materially, without much violence to experience or probability. Are the English a Musical people?' is a question that has been debated at great length, and in all the forms. But whether the Italians are, a musical people, is a question not to be asked, any more than whether they have a taste for the fine arts in general. Nor does the subject ever admit of a question, where a faculty or genius for any particular thing exists in the most eminent degree; for then it is sure to show itself, and force its way to the light, in spite of all obstacles. That which no one ever denied to any people, we may be sure they actually possess: that which is as often denied as allowed them, we may be sure they do not possess in a very eminent degree. That, to which we make the angriest claim, and dispute the most about, whatever else may be, is not our forte. The French are allowed by all the world to be a dancing, talking, couking people. If the English were to set up the same pretensions, it would be ridiculous. But then, they say, they have other excellences; and having these, they would have the former too. They think it hard to be set down as a dull, plodding people: but is it not
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equally hard upon others to be called vain and light? They tell us, they are the wisest, the freest, and most moral people on the face of the earth, without the frivolous accomplishments of their neighbours; but they insist upon having these too, to be upon a par in every thing with the rest of the world. We have our bards and sages (" better none'), our prose-writers, our mathematicians, our inventors in useful and mechanic arts, our legislators, our patriots, our statesmen, and our fighting-men, in the field and in the ring :-In these we challenge, and justly, all the world. We are not behind-hand with any people in all that depends on hard thinking and deep and firm feeling, on long heads and stout hearts:-But why must we excel also in the revérse of these,--in what depends on lively perceptions, on quick sensibility, and on a voluptuous effeminacy of temperament and character ? An Englishman does not ordinarily pretend to combine his own gravity, plainness and reserve, with the levity, loquacity, grimace, and artificial politeness (as it is called) of a Frenchman. Why then will he insist upon engrafting the fine upon the domestic arts, as an indispensable consummation of the national character? We may indeed cultivate them as an experiment in natural history, and produce specimens of them, and exhibit them as rarities in their kind, as we do hot-house plants and shrubs; but they are not of native growth or origin. They do not spring up in the open air, but shrink from the averted eye of Heaven, like a Laplander into his hut. They do not sit as graceful ornaments, but as excrescences on the English character: they are · like flowers in our caps, dying or ere they sicken:'--they are exotics and aliens to the soil. We do not import foreigners to dig our canals, or construct our machines, or solve difficult problems in political economy, or write Scotch novels for us—but we import our dancing-masters, our milliners, our Opera - singers, our valets, and our travelling cooks, -as till lately we did our painters and sculptors.
The English (we take it) are a nation with certain decided features and predominating traits of character; and if they have any characteristics at all, this is one of them, that their feelings are internal rather than external, reflex rather than organic, —and that they are more inclined to contend with pain than to indulge in pleasure. • The stern genius of the North,' says Schlegel, throws men back upon themselves,'-The progress of the Fine Arts has hitherto been slow, and wavering and unpromising in this country, like the forced pace of a shuffling nag,' not like the flight of Pegasus; and their encouragement has been cold and backward in proportion. They have been wooed and won-as far as they have been won, which is no fur