صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

is indisputable. That he was a great encourager of the arts, thele records demonstrate. When Historians talk of his pro'fusion, they evidence only in what he dissipated on his favourites. But it is plain that the number and magnificence of his buildings and palaces, must have swallowed great part of the sums maliciously charged to the fingle article of unworthy favourites. . It matters not how a prince squanders what he has tyrannically squeezed from the subject. If he exceeds his revenue, it is almost as ill spent on edifices as on ministers. But it is perhaps no more than justice to make some allowance for partial or exaggerated relations. Henry was not a wise prince-may I venture to say more ? - --He was not a martial prince. Even in these more sensible ages one illustrious defect in a king converts all his other foibles into excellencies. It must have done so much more in a season of such heroic barbarism as that of Henry III. and the want of an enterprizing spirit in that prince, made even his patronage of the arts be imputed to effeminacy or be overlooked. The extravagance of Lewis XIV. in his buildings, gardens, water-works, passed for an object of glory under the canon (if I may say so) of his ambition. Henry III. had no conquests to illuminate his ceilings, his halls, his bassşeliefs: yet perhaps the generous sentiment implied in his motto, Qui non dat quod habet, non accipit ille quod optat, contained more true glory, than all the fast couched under Lewis's emblem of the sun and his other ostentatious devices. But let us compare Henry with one nearer to him. Henry's reign is one of the most ignominious in our annals ; that of Ed. ward I. of the most triumphant. Yet I would ask by which of the two did the nation suffer most? By sums lavished on favourites and buildings, or by sums and blood wasted in unjuft wars? If we look narrowly into Edward's reign, we shall scarce find fewer representations against the tyranny of the fon, than against the encroachments of the father. Who will own that he had not rather employ master William and Edward of Westminster to paint the geftes of the kings of Antioch, than imitate the son in his barbarities in Wales, and ufurpations in Scotland ?”

From the reign of Henry III. to the time of Henry VII. Mr. Vertue, it seems, could discover no records relating to the arts. This chasın our Author has endeavoured to fill up by a chronologic series of Paintings ; in treating of which he lets Nip no opportunity of enlivening his subject, by giving the Reader, as he goes along, an idea of the manners as well as the characters of the times.


« During the reigns of the two first Edwards I find no veftiges of the art, though it was certainly preserved here, at least by Painting on Glass. No wonder that a proud, a warlike and ignorant nobility encouraged only that branch which attested their dignity. Their dungeons were rendered still darker by their pride. It was the case of all the arts; none flourished but what served to display their wealth, or contributed to their security. They were magnificent without luxury, and pompous without elegance. Rich plate, even to the enamelling on gold, rich stuffs, and curious armour, were carried to excess, while their chairs were mere pedestals, their cloaths were incumbrances, and they knew no use of steel but as it served for safety or destruction. Their houses, for there was no medium between castles and hovels, implied the dangers of society, not the sweets of it; and whenever peace left them leisure to think of modes, they scemed to imagine that fashion consisted in transfiguring the human body, instead of adding grace to it: while the men wore shoes so long and picked, that they were forced to support the points by chains from their middle; the ladies erected such pyramids on their heads, that the face became the centre of the body; and they were hardened to these preposterous inconveniencies by their priests, who, instead of leaving them to be cured by the fickleness of fashions or the trouble of them, denounced God's judgments on follies, against which a little laughter, and a little common-sense, had been more effectual sermons. It was not far distant, I think, from the period of which I am speaking, that the ladies wore looking-glasses about the same height of their bodies, with that, of which the men displayed fuch indecent symbols. The representations of these extravagancies (as we see them collected by Montfaucon, in his Antiquities of France) demanded Japanese and Indian Painters, and were not likely to produce Vandycks and Titians. Thus while we are curious in tracing the progress of barbarism, we wonder more that any arts existed, than that they atiained no degree of perfeétion.”

The sticklers for the honour of our English Painters, will probably indulge themselves in pursuing the conjectures of bur Author, respecting the discovery of painting in Oil; which he thinks there is some reason to believe was practised in England before the time at which it is said to have been invented by Van Eyck. It appears from record that Oil was used, as a varnish or otherwise, in Pictures, above an hundred

years years before the common æra of painting in oil. John Van Eyck is allowed to have found it in searching for a varnish; and might have heard that such a varnish or composition was in use in England. Nay, Mr. Walpole mentions some Pictures still extant, which, painted before that time, bear all the appearances of being done in oil ; and hazards a conjecture, not altogether without foundation, that Van Eyck was in England, where it is probable he learned the secret, and took the honour of the invention to himself, as ours was then a country little known to the world of arts, nor at leisure enough, from the confusion of the times, to claim the difcovery of a secret which foon made such fortune abroad. This appears certain, that the Painters employed by Henry III. were Italians, who possessed no such secret, but must have found the practice here, not have brought it over with them; for we are expressly told that in Italy they knew of no such method. When some of John ab Eyck's Pictures were carried to Alphonso, King of Naples, the Italian Painters were surprized, says Sandrart, quod aquâ purgari pollent, coloribus non deletis.

The art of Painting on Glass is generally set down among thé artes perditæ : Mr. Walpole, however, thews, by a regular series of artists and their performances, that this secret has never been lost, as is commonly imagined. This kind of Painting, indeed, being banished the churches by the reformation, fell nearly into disuse : it has, notwithstanding, been practised by several artists from that time to the present, wherein the taste for painted Glass seems to be revived.

It would take up too much room, for us here to give a detail of the many curious particulars contained in this work ; in which, as we have already intimated, the Writer has manifested no less taste for Architecture, Sculpture, and the other concomitant arts, than for that which is more confessediy his subject.

With regard to the personal Anecdotes, usually inserted in works of this kind, they are frequently so baldly narrated, or so impertinently introduced and applied, as to afford little entertainment to a sensible Reader. On the contrary, the present Writer hath, for the most part, selected those which serve to expose the want of taste, display the merit, or otherwise characterize the professors, patrons, or subjects of the art. Every one knows or must have heard of a Painter, whose Portraits were, a little while ago, greatly esteemed in


laws or mun, patron the mer

le while ahave heard of subjects of

[ocr errors]

several parts of Europe ; not to depreciate his merit, however, the extravagant admiration, in which his pieces were held, feemed in a great degree owing to the extravagant length of his beard. We are furnished, in these Anecdotes, with a still more extravagant instance of caprice both in the artist and the public. The story is told of Ketel, a Dutchman, who got much credit by several noble performances * here as well as abroad; but not content with the glory he acquired by these, and instead of aiming at greater perfection, he took it into his head to make himself known by a method of Painting entirely new. To this end, he laid aside his brushes and painted only with his fingers, beginning with his own portrait. The whim took; he repeated the practice, and, they pretend, executed those fantastic works with great purity and beauty of colouring. In this manner he painted two heads for the Sieur Van Os, of Amsterdam; the firft, a Democritus, was his own portrait; the other of M. Morosini, in the character of Heraclitus. The Duke de Nemours, who was a performer himself, was charmed with the latter, and bought it. Another was the picture of Vincent Jacobson, a noted wine-merchant of Amsterdam, with a glass of rhenish in his hand. As his success increased, so did his folly ; his fingers appeared too easy tools : he undertook, therefore, to paint with his feet, and his first essay he pretended to make in public on a picture of the God of Silence; while that public, who began to think, like Ketel, that the more a Painter was a mountebank, the greater was his merit, were so good as to applaud even this caprice.

We shall quote another short Anecdote or two for the entertainment of our Readers.

There are few persons, acquainted with the English History, who have not heard of Jeffery Hudson, the famous dwarf, whose Picture, painted by Mytens, is now at St. James's; where he is drawn holding a dog by a string, in a Landscape, coloured warmly and freely, like Snyder or Rubens. The following is given as the history of this diminutive personage. “He was born at Oakham in Rutlandshire, in 1619, and about the age

like Ketepilence; whiled to make in

* Particularly a large Pi&ture of the trained bands of Amsterdam, with their Captain, Herman Rodenburg Bechs, at their head; in which Picture he introduced his own Portrait. This piece, it is said, was placed in the gallery of the Mall at Amsterdam. The curious will hardly find it by that direction. It is now, together with another capital piece, if we are not mistaken, by the same hand, in the Krygs, or Krygs-raad Chamber in the Stidthouse of Amiterdam,


[ocr errors]

her Mathe Lord o

of seven or eight, being then but eighteen inches high, was retained in the service of the Duke of Buckingham, who resided at Burleigh on the Hill. Soon after the marriage of Charles ļ, the King and Queen being entertained at Burleigh, little Jeffery was served up to table in a cold pye, and presented by the Duchess to the Queen, who kept him as her dwarf. From seven years of age till thirty, he never grew taller ; but after thirty he shot up to three feet nine inches, and there fixed. Jeffery became a considerable part of the entertainment of the court. Sir William Davenant wrote a poem, called Jeffreidos, on a battle between him and a turkeycock; and in 1638 was published a very small book, called Tise New-Year's Gift, pretented at court from the Lady Parvula to the Lord Minimus, (commonly called Little Jeffery) her Majesty's servant, &c. written by Microphilus, with a little Print of Jeffery prefixed. Before this period Jeffery was employed on a negociation of great importance : he was sent to France to fetch a mid-wife for the Queen, and on his return with this gentlewoman, and her Majesty's dancingmaster, and many rich presents to the Queen from her mother Mary de Medici, he was taken by the Dunkirkers. Jeffery, thus made of consequence, grew to think himself really lo. He had borne with little temper the teazing of the courtiers and domeftics, and had many squabbles with the King's gigantic porter *. At last, being provoked by Mr. Crofts, a young gentleman of family, a challenge ensued ; and Mr. Crofts coming to the rendezvous armed only with a squirt, the little creature was so enraged, that a real duel ensued; and the appointment being on horseback with pistols, to put "them more on a level, Jeffery, with the first fire, shot his antagonist dead. This happened in France, whither he had attended his mistress in the troubles. He was again taken prisoner by a Turkish rover, and sold into Barbary. He probably did not long remain in Slavery, for at the beginning of the civil war he was made a captain in the royal army; and in 1644 attended the Queen to France, where he remained till the restoration. At last, upon suspicion of his - being privy to the popish plot, he was taken up in 1682, and confined in the Gate-house, Westminster, where he ended his life, in the fixty-third year of his age.”

• A bas-relief of this dwarf and giant, is to be seen Ezed in the front of a house near the end of bagno court, on the east ide of Newgate-itrcet.


« السابقةمتابعة »