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and prejudiced the interest of others. What the graver has found impossible to perform, that readier, instruinent the pen
is called in aid to effect, and there have been many feeble, though systematic attempts, to write it into insignificance and disgrace. The professors of this art have advanced nothing
in its favor, they have silently and studiously pursued their course, resting their pretensions to public support on their legitimate productions only; they have patiently borne the contumely of the ignorant, the insults of the inalevolent, the invectives of the interested, and without resistance have suffered their profession to be degraded, and their means of existence injured so long, that further forbearance becomes pusillanimity. It is now time that such ungenerous and unjust conduct should be resisted.
In consequence of the appointment of Mr. Landseer to the lectureship on engraviug at the Royal Institution, his opinions gained a credit and a currency, that his abilities would never have procured them in any other situation. The man was chosen to be a teacher; and whatever ignorance the electors might have shewn in making such a choice, a eredit and dignity were in some degree reflected on him by his office. In his lectures he asserts that chalk engraving was on its original introduction into England run after with avidity, because it was new, for it was a sort of retrograde and degenerate novelty. “Ryland and novelty (says he) led the way, and fashion and Bartolozzi followed it.”
Mr. Landseer proceeds through four pages, stigmatizing this art in an idle and unqualified way, without adducing one proof in support of his assertions, and then says:
At length this interesting art (of which if I seem, I only seem to make sport,) fetching a few noble bounds, has escaped from the toils of its pursuers, and now roves at leisure, when as a means of translating pictures it is more worthy than ever of being pursued."
Nothing can more fully expose the palpable obscure and the gross contradiction of Mr. Landseer's manner of writing, than the comparison of what we have before cited with this quotation ; we leave the task to him of reconciling “retrograde and degenerate novelty," with “this interesting art fetching noble bounds." "He then goes on thus: “Upon what principles I am led to perceive that this province of engraving has recently disclosed more various, extensive, and richer tracts than it
was formerly known to contain, I shall have the pleasure to explain at another timne." Whether Mr. Landseer means that, after having written his four pages to expose this 6
degenerate novelty,” he discovered those “richer tracts," we cannot determine. It must be remembered that all these contradictions are contain d in his third lecture; he afterwards delivers three more lectures to his quditors, and publishes the whole of them, without ever noticiog those “ richer tracts,” and consequently his abuse of this art is sent into the world unqualified by any mention of its merits.
Now let us examine how far Mr. Landseer is competeut to talk in this dictatorial and dogmatical manner of any mode of art whatever; and to come to this knowledge we ale naturally led to an examination of the works of art he has produced, and the talents he has therein displayed ; and also how those works of art have been produced. He is only known to artists as a vignette landscape engraver ; in this minor walk of art it must be confessed he has given proofs of some talent, united with much prettiness of execution, and had he confined his lectures to that part of the art which he had actually, and creditably practised, he might have exbibited some claim to attention; but, unfortunately this man, who has spent his time among fore-grounds, back-grounds, foliage, and stumps of trees (the mere secondary objects in an historical engraving) with anhallowed hand approaches the human figure, and without putting off his sandals, enters the holy of the antique.
Froin Aristotle and Longinus to Addison and Johnson, every sound critic in literature has been able to write well hinself. Those men could perforin well, and were thence enabled to judge of the performances of others. If this be true in literature, how inuch more necessary in art! for, the artist has no means of acquiring knowledge, but by the very act of drawing, which is only to be obtained, as Sir Joshua Reynolds justly observes, by a variety of arts. By this indispensible and only criterion, let Mr. Landseer's claim to the elevated chair of criticisin be tried.
Has Mr. Landseer ever as an artist studied the human fagure? Has he ever drawn from the antique? Will any man prove that he has ever made one solitary effort ? does any work i.. his own art, actually performed by hinself, prove his knowledge of the insertion, form, or termination of any one muscle in the human fraine ? yet he expatiates most learnedly on the anatomical excel. lence of Andrea Mantegna, and with rapture on the pure outline of Mark Antonio.
It is very difficult to prove a negative, but we will give the most presumptive evidence of Mr. Landseer's entire ignorance of those matters, on which with so much con- / fidence he holds forth.
In engraving; as in painting, the genuine artist may be assisted by persons of inferior abilities to his own, but in each art the help must come in the middle of the pere formance. Was there ever an engraver possessing the first and most essential requisites of his art, drawing, who suffered another to fix his outline on his plate, or to put the finishing touches to it? No, never. Mr. Landseer, according to the current terms of the day, has engraved historical subjects, and portraits ; at least his name is prefixed to plates of this character, with the addition of sculpsit. Dare Mr. Landseer tell the world what parts of those plates are his own performance? Will he claim any essential part of any historical sube ject or portrait to which his naine is annexed ? To come to particulars--his Michael from Loutherbourg, in Macklin's Bible-did he etch the outline of the figure upon the plate, or the internal parts of it ? Did he put the finishing touches to it? Let Mr. Landseer r ply to these questions in the affirmative, and then he shall be confronted. What assistance had he in the intermediate parts ? Alas! no man except the political Mr. Landseer can answer that question.
Some years ago the admirers of the Fine Arts were gratified with an engraved portrait of Buonoparte, froin a drawing by Mr. Craig, after a picture in the possession of Mr. Cosway. As Mr. Landseer had a joint property in this work, interest alone would be sufficient to prompt him to give to the world, in this performance, his best abi. lities. Directly over the head of this apostle of liberty is seen the full sun of science, darting its meridian rays across the Alps ; striking with lightning the tiara, and other emblems of popish superstition : -the whole is blazoned with owls, eagles, and olive branches, which shew how much faith ought to be placed in the predictions of emblematical soothsayers. We will say nothing on this insult to the loyalty and patriotism of the country, but VOL. II.
at once declare this portrait to be one of the most wretched specimens of art that the age has produced ; and, although it was done covertly, and in a corner, it has long been before the world; therefore, let every man judge for himself, for it is beneath our criticism. If this gentleman has judgment to impart to others, why did he not on this occasion exert it for himself ?-Why did he suffer this lump of inanity to see the light? But he goes farther, he fathers it. He declares himself to the world to be the engraver of it. Were we inclined to degrade Mr. Landseer as an artist, we should leave his reputation to sink under the dead weight of this load of stupidity ; but we will be exactly just, we will declare that he did not engrave this portrait. Bad as it is, his powers are not equal to such a production : it was the first essay of a * young man just emerged from his pupillage. Some of the ornamental parts to this portrait bear marks of the prettiness of Mr. Landseer's tooling, for in those inferior walks of art he may boast some elegance ; but taking this ornament as a whole, it is a puny effort, and bears no marks of the genuine artist.
We have shewn how Mr. Landseer produces historical engravings and portraits; let us now inquire into the source from which he derives his knowledge of the antique, of which he makes such a mighty pother, a pother that doubtless gained the admiration of the young misses at the Royal Institution, but which we can assure him will never arrest the attention of any man deserving the name of artist. He has the honour of Mr. Fuseli's acquaintance, and in hopping about at Somerset House, he may have picked up a few crumbs that have fallen from that rich inan's table; but will this little artifice of chattering by rote, make him a Fuseli, or furnish him with the powers of passing judgment on the works of other men by that classical criterion, the best works of ancient masters ? Such men are followers of Fuseli and the antique as one here in Englande did follow Syr Thomas More, who being most unlike unto hym in wit and learnyng, nevertheless in wearing his gowne awrye upon the one shoulder, as Syr Thomas
* This young man has since produced many things highly creditable to him as an artist, and is now justly ashamed of what this man of judgment was not ashamed to own.
Alore was wont to do, would nedes be counted like unto
Mr. Landseer has with great feeling and animation deplored the present state of engraving: he has fairly shewn that, whilst the artists alone had the
management and publication of their own works, their art flourished, and that Englishmen as engravers then rose superior to all the world; but when ignorant capital, personified as a printseller, took the helm, this noble fabric became a wreck. In this part of his work Mr, Landseer becomes eloquent; his arguments are irresistible, and so they ought to be; for, as a proof of all that he has written, Mr. Macklin put into his hands the St. John, from the immortal hand of West, to make an engraving from for his Bible. Why did Mr. Landseer forget to give this decisive proof of the incapacity of the printsellers to conduct the publication of works of art ? Here we see what this gentleman triumphantly calls the Virgilian line," and the excellence it is capable of ; here we see by coinparing this St. John with Mr. Landseer's other historical subjects in the same work, what variety of foreign powers he called in to his assistance, and here do we see a specimen of the modern method of bookmaking, in which men can write with great depth of knowledge on arts which they can neither perform themselves, nor teach others how to execute.
This unfortunate inode of art has another enemy in the formidable Mr. Josiah Boydell, and luckily for it, specimens of the judgment of this doughty hero of the brush have been long before the public. That motley collection of painting, the Shakspeare Gallery, which contained works that would have honoured the best ages of the arts, and have disgraced the worst, was enriched with emanations from the mind of this distinguished painter; to say they were of the very lowest order of this heterogeneous assemblage, might be disputed, but that they bore a conspicuous part in what disgraced the collection, must be admitted by every man possessing the least knowledge of art. Poverty of style, and plentiful lack of intellect are their attributes ; they are the puny abortions of an enfeebled mind; it would be an insult
* Vide Roger Ascham's Schoolmaster, 1586.