Abbildungen der Seite

formed the composition of his Juno* inculcate the principles of the art of from the peculiar beauties of all the portrait-painting. It may even be said, most beautiful women in Agrigentum; that it inculcates the principles of inand that Apelles made use of burnt dividual statuary; for Pliny menivory mixed with varnish to augment tions that she afterwards persuaded the effect of his colours, and to defend her father to make an image in clay of them from the action of the air.t the likeness, and that it was preserved But with the exception of these two as a curious illustration of the prosolitary facts, the one in the art of de- gress of art, till the Consul Mummius sign, and the other in that of colour- destroyed Corinth. These principles ing, we possess no practical informa- are founded on resemblance and chará tion respecting the methods of the an- acteristic expression; but this beauticient painters. The use of the black ful mythological tale teaches more: or burnt ivory by Apelles has been It implies, that in order to render the questioned by many writers on the fine portrait or the statue peculiarly interarts as an improbable misconception ; esting, it is necessary that the situabut Mr West has, within these few. tion should be chosen in circumstances years, employed it with so much suc- where the original was seen to most cess, that the colouring of his late pic- advantage by the parties for whom the tures, compared with that of his ear- work was designed. To the eye of a lier, does not appear to have been pro- fond and tender lover, the most affectduced by the same hand. It serves to ing situation is that which is associated tune, if the expression may be allow- with the defenceless confidence of sleep. ed, the various tones of colouring into But I do not propose to enter into one consistent frame of harmony. any explanation of the classic apo

At this time, when a taste for the logues respecting the arts. I have only fine arts has been so earnestly excited adverted to this one, for the present, in the metropolis of Scotland, it may to shew, that although they have been be useful both to the public and to rendered trite by the incessant referartists to bring occasionally together ence to them in college versés, they are some of the most authenticated notices still curious lessons, and contain more respecting their progress and history, than meets the ear. and for this object I would now and Historians differ about the birththen beg admission into a corner of place of sculpture. But the art was your agreeable Miscellany. Without undoubtedly early cherished in Asia. prescribing to myself any precise rule Laban, we are informed, adored idols; either of theoretical investigation or of abominated by Jacob. Some, however, historical research, I propose, from are of opinion, that the Ethiopians time to time, to send you the substance were the first who employed visible of such memoranda as I have happen- symbols as objects of adoration,g and ed to accumulate in my common place that of course they were the inventors book, either from books or conversa- of sculpture. Others ascribe' the intion with artists. What I have glean- vention to the Chaldeans, and refer, ed from the latter will perhaps pose in proof of their hypothesis, to the sess some originality. It will, how- statue erected by nus in honour of ever, be necessary now and then to his father. But the Greek philosoadvert to two or three circumstances phers considered Egypt as the cradle with which every school-boy is ac- of the arts; and Plato says, that works quainted, but things never become of painting and sculpture may be trite until they have been previously found in Egypt executed ten thousand admired, and it should be recollected years ago. Pausanius thought that at that the art of teaching by apologues first the priests exhibited a stone, or has given rise to many fables which the trunk of a tree, as the emblems of are still referred to as beautiful, al- their gods. Herodotus, the father of though the original application of profane history, says, that the ancient them is no longer remembered. For Egyptians were accustomed to carve the example, few cursory readers are de one end of a stick into the form of a ware that the elegant fable of the daugh- head, and, with scarcely more art, to ter of Debutotes sketching the profile trace a few imperfect lines on the other of her sleeping lover by his shadow into a resemblance of feet. In this on the wall, is a parable invented to state they transmitted the art of sculp

Pliny lib. xxix. Cap. ix.
* Genesis, chap. xxxi. and xxxv.

+ Cavaliere Ferro, vol. i. p.

41. $ Contarino il Vago, p..


ture to Greece. Pausanius mentions, cients. It is at least doubtful if the that there was an ancient statue at Apollo Belvidere is the same statue of Pygolia, which served to illustrate the which Pliny speaks in such terms of history of the arts, the feet and hands admiration as the work of Scopias. of which were closely joined to the The Venus by this artist was one of body, similar, no doubt, to the E- the ornaments of ancient Rome-but gyptian statues in the British Museum. it is now unknown. He was the ar

The first attempts in sculpture were chitect of the mausoleum which Arli, no doubt with flexible materials, such misia raised to the memory of her husas clay or wax. The next were pro- band one of the wonders of the bably with wood, and then marble ;- world. The standard by Polectetis is metal, as requiring the aid of another lost-a statue in which all the most art, was perhaps the last material em, beautiful proportions of the human fie ployed by the genius of sculpture. gure were so admirably preserved, that

The earliest among the Greeks who it was constantly referred to by artists wrought in marble, were the sons of as a model, and thus acquired the name Dædalus, Dipænus and Scyllis, * who of the Standard. The Media of Eutilived in the first Olympiad, that is, crates is also no longer known to exist. about 576 years before Christ. Phi- The critics in the time of Praxiteles were dias, who fourished about 120 years divided in their opinion with respect later, carried the art to its utmost per- to his two Venuses and his Phryne; fection. It has certainly not since ap- but he himself preferred his Satyr, proached the same degree of excel- and particularly his Cupid, to all his lence, if we admit the Athenian mar- works, and they also are no more.bles in the British Museum to be his The story of Pygmalion is of itself a works; and if they were not his works, striking comment on the excellence of as there is some reason to believe, we the lost statues of antiquity; and that have still but an imperfect conception of the Colossus of Rhodes shows how of the improvements of which the art far superior in the magnificence of the is susceptible.

art the ancients were to the moderns. On one occasion, when a party of Glicones of Athens, who produced the artists were dining with Sir Joshua Farnesian Hercules, doubtless left oReynolds, while Burke and Dr John- ther works, which, if not in the same

were present, the conversation degree, were probably in the same turned on this very subject. Sir high style of art, but they have all Joshua observed, that it was impossi- perished. At Agrigentum I saw the ble to understand what was meant a- foot of a colossal Juno, belonging to mong the Greeks, by their saying that the late Mr Fagan, in point of executhe art of sculpture was in its decline tion, and greatness of style, equal to in the days of Alexander the Great- any thing that lately adorned the the Apollo Belvidere and the Venus Louvre. But although the utmost de Medici being considered as the diligence was employed to find the reproductions of that illustrious epoch ; mainder of the statue, the search was and neither the ingenuity of Burke, fruitless. At Syracuse, a headless Venor the erudition of Johnson, could nus was lately discovered, which, in solve the enigma. But the merits of the opinion of many good judges, is the sculptures of the Parthenon were superior to the Venus de Medicis. then unknown; I mean the Elgin

The Jews have never been consideror more properly the Athenian mar- ed as entitled to any merit as artists, bles ; and it should be borne in and it has been supposed that the promind, that even they were placed in hibition in the Second Commandment the exterior of the edifice, merely for has been the cause of their deficiency the purpose of decoration. The statue in the arts. But the prohibition only of the Goddess by Phidias was in the referred to idols of adoration, for Moses interior of the temple.

himself, the oracle of the command, It might be objected to as a para- made the brazen serpent; and Solodox, to say that none of the mastere mon, their wisest king, dealt largely pieces of the sculptors of antiquity in sculptured pomegranates, to say nohave yet been acquired by the mo- thing of the twelve oxen which supderns, but it is certain that none of ported the brazen sea, or of the golden those, which we consider as such, were lions that adorned the steps of his particularly famous among the an- throne. As for the cherubim, of which


* Pliny, lib. xxxvi. cap. iv.

we read so much, I beg for the in- have acquired a pre-eminence far above formation of our churchyard sculptors those of any other nation. The Moses to mention, that “ a learned student of Michael Angelo, for example, in of recondite lore” has assured me that appropriateness of character, is one of the cherubim were not human figures the most perfect creations that ever with wings, but circles representing rose from beneath the chisel; and it the signs of the zodiac.

has been said, that in this respect it The Romans were tardy in their may be classed with the Minerva and cultivation of the art of sculpture, the Jupiter of Phidias. It has indeed which was perhaps owing also to the fixed, as it were, an unalterable standinfluence of that ancient law of Nu- ard, by which every subsequent atma, noticed by St Augustine * in the tempt to embody the form of the Jew. controversy respecting the introduc- ish Lawgiver will not only be estition of images, particularly of God mated, but must also, in some degree, the Father into the churches. In resemble in air, features, and expres. fact, the ancient Romans are not sion. Michael Angelo, however, was considered as having made any great not always uniformly successful. His degree of proficiency in the fine arts, statue of the Saviour, the companion notwithstanding the magnitude of of the Moses, is a complete failure. their architectural remains; and even The benevolent character of Jesus was in architecture they were far inferior a subject not suited to his vehement to the Greeks, who distinctively settled genius; and the statue is scarcely one the embellishments of the several or degree above a commo academical fi. ders, by which their buildings ob- gure-framed according to rule, and tained that appropriateness of character faultless without merit. In his suthat at once declared the use for which blime work on the day of judgment, they were erected, and rendered them the same inconsistency may be observed. models to all succeeding ages. The The single figures are without any apRomans, in the best epoch of their propriate character, without any extaste, followed the Greeks, but de pression applicable to their tremendous viating from their chaste models, situation, but the groups are comadopted that false principle which posed with admirable skill

. Still, supposes a beauty in ornament inde- however, even as single figures, they pendent of propriety of application or have great merit; and although they of fitness of place. The fragments of are but the ingenious adaptation of this corruption of taste, our own ar. legs, arms, and heads, to the celechitects for a long period were in the brated Torso, which bears his name, practice of imitating, but as I shall and which served as the model to most have an opportunity on some other of his figures, they are nevertheless occasion of noticing more particularly the productions of a masterly hand. the progress and state of the arts in The first modern artist who underthis country, I refrain for the pre- stood the principle of giving to his fisent from adverting to this branch of gures the peculiar expression belongthe subject. It may, however, be so ing to their situation and character, far requisite in the meantime, to ex was Leonardo da Vinci, and he carplain, that the effect of this false prin- ried it to the highest point of excel. ciple of taste in architecture, is equi- lence in his picture of the Last Supvalent to that uninteresting beauty per. The appropria:e character which which we sometimes meet with in he has given to the apostles in that historical pictures ;—where, though great composition, the significance of every figure is in correct proportion, expression in their several faces, all well drawn, and with drapery elegantly show that the point of time by the artfolded, yet not being employed ap- ist, is when our Saviour said, “There propriately to the subject, the general is one amongst you who shall betray composition is but a mere academical me." But he failed in the head compilation,unadorned with the impress of the Saviour. He had exhaustof that mental conception which consti- ed his powers of characteristic discritutes the highest quality of refined art. mination in the heads of the apostles;

But if the ancient Romans are not and in his attempt to blend meekness entitled to rank high as artists, the and dignity in the figure of Christ, painters and sculptors of modern Rome he produced only insipience. He had

* St Augustine, Vol. V. cap. xxxi. page 38.

the prudence, however, to leave the painting, than from these two wonface unfinished, that the imagination derful efforts of art. When we conof the beholder might not be disap- sider the combination of excellencies pointed by an unworthy image, but requisite to produce the sublime in form in his own mind one more ac- painting, the union of propriety with cordant to his feelings and the subject. dignity of character the graceful Pleasing as the works of Leonardo da grouping—the majestic.folding of the Vinci are in general, had he not pro- drapery, and the deep and sombrous duced the Last Supper, and the cartoon tones of the clear obscure with approof the Combatants for the Standard, he priate colours all blending into one would scarcely have emerged above magnificent whole--there is no picture the level of mediocrity, for his pic- more justly entitled to this highest tures, generally speaking, are more re- epithet of excellence, than the Asmarkable for laborious finishing than sumption of the Virgin, by Fra. Barfor the impress of intellectual power. tholomeo de St Marco, at Lucca.”

The St Mark of Fra. Bartholomeo When the works of Michael Angelo, de St Marco, for appropriate and cha- Leonardo da Vinci, and Bartholomeo racteristic expression, is one of the de St Marco, were attracting the admost successful efforts of modern ta- miration of all the judges of refined lent; but none of the other works of art, Raphael, having attained his adult this artist, except one, possess the age, came to Florence. The sensi, same degree of excellence.

As that bility of his mind was like the softenone is but little known to our travel. ed wax, which makes more visible ling connoisseurs, it may be interesting and distinct the form of the engraving to give some account of it; and I am with which it is impressed. Blest enabled to do so, from the portfolio of with this happy natural endowment, one of the most eminent modern artists, he became at once heir, as it were, to

The picture is on pannel, and its the treasures and experience of all his dimensions somewhere about twenty predecessors; and availing himself of feet in height, by fourteen in width. the examples afforded by the discoverThe subject is the Assumption of the ies of the Grecian relics, he combined, Virgin. The composition is divided by the tuition of his own genius, and into three groups. The apostles and a well practised hand, a power to unthe sepulchre form the centre group, fold his conceptions. In the exercise from the midst of which the virgin of this power, he has attained unrivalled descends. Her body-drapery is of a excellence. But the peculiar merits and deep ruby colour, the only decided red defects of the productions of this extrain the picture, and her mantle blue, ordinary young man are of too high and but in depth of tone approaching to various a kind to be discussed in the black, and extended by angels to near- present paper. I have, indeed, already ly each side of the picture. This extended the limits which I prescribed mantle is relieved by a light, resem- to myself, nor should I have said so bling the break of day seen over the much but for the purpose of intimate summit of a dark mountain, which ing that there is a great deal of curigives an awful grandeur to one effect ous moral matter connected with the of the first view of the picture, on en history of the arts, altogether indetering the chapel in which it is placed pendent of the merits of particular over the altar. That awful light makes works, or the genius of particular ara fine harmonious contrast to the gol- tists. The fine arts, as they have apa den effulgence above, in the midst of peared in different ages, constitute the which the Saviour is seen with ex- visible history of the human mind, panded arms, coming from a brighter and those who regard painting and region of glory to receive and welcome sculpture merely as contributing to the his mother. When I saw this sub- embellishment of our social pleasures, lime composition, I was affected with look only at the surface of the subject. an emotion of religious enthusiasm, as It is necessary, however, to take care when I heard, for the first time, the that we do not refine overmuch, and harmonious blendings of vocal sounds yield to the metaphysical suggestions in the solemn notes of Non nobis Do- of the imagination, a credence and aumine. I never felt more forcibly the thority which history refuses to cona dignity of music and the dignity of firm. Vol. VI.



Fossil Whales. In a former Number we Colouring of Agate.-Dr Macculloch of gave an account of a fossil whale discovered Woolwich, in an interesting communication at Airthrie, and now deposited in the Edin- to the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, burgh College Museum. Similar remains, informs us that the beautiful black and we understand, have been discovered in the white zoned agates, sold by lapidaries, are Carse of Falkirk, and in the county of Ayr. prepared by first boiling the specimens in A good many years ago the remains of two oil, and afterwards in sulphuric acid. The whales were discovered in the alluvial soil oil is absorbed by certain laminæ, and of the river Po in Italy, and at Castel Arquato. these become black when the stone is ex. Both of these specimens, although very im- posed to the action of the sulphuric acid. perfect, and much inferior in magnitude to

Mineralogical Map of Scotland.Profes. the whale of Airthrie, were considered of sor Jameson has been employed for many such value that they were sent as magnifi. years in investigating the mineralogical cent donations by Beauharnois, formerly structure of his native country, and has now, Viceroy of Italy, to the Museum of Milan.

we understand, collected so extensive a series Dr Crichton's Mineralogical Cabinet.- of facts and observations, that he will soon We have often heard of the Mineralogical present to the public a Map of the MineraCabinet of Dr Crichton, physician to the logy of Scotland. Dr M'Culloch, who has Emperor of Russia, and regretted that no

been employed in mineral researches in catalogue of it had been published. A Scotland, at the expense of government, few weeks ago we received from Peters- has it also in agitation to publish a map burgh, an excellent catalogue lately pub- illustrative of the geology of this country. lished of this admirable collection, which appears to exceed in richness, beauty, and

English Gold. Some fine specimens of scientific interest, all the numerous collec- native

English gold have been presented to tions hitherto made in the north of Europe. Hawkins, Bart. through the hands of Earl

the Royal Institution, by Sir Christopher On a future occasion we shall lay before our readers some extracts from this catalogue.

Spencer. They were found lately, while Geology of the Cape of Good Hope.It streaming for tin, in the parish of Ladock, would appear from a paper of Professor Cornwall ; some of the pieces weigh each 60 Jameson, in the last number of the Edin- grains., Native English gold has also been burgh Philosophical Journal, that the pe

found lately in Devonshire, by Mr Flex

man of South Molton. It occurs in the reninsula of the Cape of Good Hope, is an enormous crystallized mass of quartz, fel

fuse of the Prince Regent mine, in the paspar, and mica, in the form of granite, rish of North Molton ; the mine was disgneiss, clay slate, and sand stone.

covered in 1810, and worked for copper, Shetland Cod Bank. The notice of the but was discontinued in May 1818.

The Cod Bank lately discovered in Shetland,

refuse is a ferruginous fragmented quartz published in a former Number of our Ma- rock, and contains the gold in imbedded gazine, has, we understand, attracted the grains and plates. Gold has been reported particular attention of those interested in

to be found in some other mines in that the Fisheries. It is likely to prove a source

neighbourhood. of great wealth, not only to the Shetland Age of the Human Species. In the last islands, but to the country in general. We number of the Edinburgh Philosophical are informed that the fishing of last season

Journal, we find the following very interest. has been very productive.

ing statement in regard to the age of the Marble in Lord Reay's Country in Suther. human species. land.- Professor Jameson, it is said, has Discovery of Human Skulls in the lately examined the mineralogical structure same formation as that which contains reof the county of Sutherland, and particu- mains of Elephants, Rhinoceri, fc.larly the strata of marble in Lord Reay's Some years ago Admiral Cochrane presented country. He is of opinion, that the dark to the British Museum a human skeleton, variegated marble, which occurs in great incased in a very compact alluvial aggregabeds on the north coast, ought to be quar- tion of coral and other similar matters. ried and brought to the market, as its tex- This curious specimen was at first considerture is excellent and its colours good. ed as a true secondary limestone, and there.

« ZurückWeiter »