Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

great master in colouring and execution; but to have fallen infinitely below.him in judgment and delicacy. With Titian expired the grand and comprehensive views of human nature; and nothing but the fascinating charms of his colouring survived. The Venetian artists degraded the dignity of historic painting by mean and uncharacteristic agents. Turk’s heads were placed on apostolic shoulders; and painters' mistresses, by a violent me. tamorphosis, were turned into holy virgins. Yet, with such palpable incongruities, it is almost impossible to resist the fascinating charm of their colouring. To common eyesit seems to atone for, if not to sanctify, every extravagance of the artist. This general character of the school is not, however, without great and honourable exceptions; and amongst these stands the famous piece of the Crucifixion, from the pencil of Tintorretto. The ominous and terrific twilight, and the sanguine aspect of the beavens, fill the mind of the spectator with fearful apprehensions, and indicate that more than mortal suffers.

The merits of Paolo Veronese demand more particular notice. We shall conclude the account of the Venetian school, with some few slight and imperfect sketches of this artist. Such notices must, from their very nature, be slight and unsatisfactory. It is not in the power of words to express those diver. sities of light and shadow, which the eye only is capable of comprehending.

Paolo Cagliari, better known by the name of Paolo Veronese, was born at Verona in the year 1530. His uncle, Antonio Badili, superintended his early education, and directed his attention, first to the works of nature, and then to the pencil of Titian. On a superficial view, this would appear to be all that was essential to a young artist: nature, the great repository from whence his materials are drawn; and the works of the most consummate pen-s cil in the delineation of her colours. But we have already seen, that between these two extremes there are many stages that oppose formidable obstacles; and all of which must be surmounted. This only seems to bring to immediate connexion things so remote, and is the great nursery of hopes and disappointments. Every attempt of the young artist admonishes him that something VOL. VII.

• 30

essential and preparatory has been neglected, and that the phan-
tom approached so near only to elude the grasp when sought
after.
' « Ter conatus ibi collo brachia circum:

Ter frustra comprensa manus effugit imago
Par levibus ventis, volucrique simillima somno."

So necessary is the knowledge of antique, a defect that Titiap at the age of seventy repaired. Veronese became the early competitor of Tintoretto, and to this day the contest remains undecided. Tintoretto imitated Nature with more force, Verona with more delicacy and truth. Tintoretto was peculiarly grand in his conceptions; and he executed them with abundance of spirit-Veronese, his rival, displayed more grace, more elegance more consistent dignity of character. Tintoretto mingled the fiercest extremes of light and shade: his canvas exhibited alternate noon and night-Veronese linked them together by softer and more delicate gradations. Veronese was splendid; but Tintoretto added what might be denominated wings of light and shade. It would probably be more correct to say, that there was no general point of analogy, than to ascertain whose merits were the greatest. Both, however, agreed in one particular; and that was their defects. They respectively degraded august and awful subjects by low and mean incidents. Veronese, in his beautiful piece of The Last Supper, introduces in the foreground a cat clawing a piece of meat, and a dog gnawing a bone. The draperies of Veronese are peculiar, derived from models furnished by strangers who visited Venice, but are, notwithstanding, grand, striking, anci beautifully diversified. This artist husbanded his talents, and did not exert himself except when he thought the occasion called for their full exercise. Whatever he designed for palaces and churches, was finished in the highest style; while his paintings for private apartments have been often excelled by artists who were in no sense his competitors. This great disparity has rendered it often difficult to determine the genuine productions of his pencil, from the counterfeit. Having journeyed to Rome, he became, for the first time, acquainted with the works of Angelo and Raphaël. From this period, he

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small]

improved his style so much, that the doge conferred on him the order of knighthood. One of his most celebrated pieces was the marriage of Cana. It was placed in the convent of St. George at Venice, and contains upwards of one hundred and fifty heads. He likewise executed a beautiful piece al Pesaro, 'the subject of which was the calling of St. Andrew to the apostleship. The procurators of St. Mark prepared a large gold chain for the most exquisite painting; and six eminent artists contended for the prize. Titian and Sansovini were appointed judges; and the chain was awarded to Veronese. He was so proud of this victory, that he wore the gold chain on public days as a badge of distinction. He died in the year 1588, in the fifty-eighth yearof his age.

The annexed engraving, which ist he best of this artist, within our reach, represents the story of Perseus and Andromeda.

Andromeda, the daughter of Cepheus, king of Ethiopia, boasted that she excelled Juno or the Nereids in beauty. Neptune, to revenge this indignity, sent a sea-monster to ravage the country, The oracle of Jupiter Ammon, being consulted, answered that it was necessary Andromeda should be chained to a rock, and, exposed to the fury of the sea-monster, to appease the anger of the gods. As the animal ran from the sea to devour his prey, he was slain by Perseus. Perseus appears to strike the monster at the moment its jaws are opened to devour him. The figure of the destroyer is admirably drawn; and that of Andromeda is well conceived. Her face and attitude express strong symptoms of dread; and she contemplates with fear and anxiety the combat on which her life depends. The colouring is excellent. The picture was formerly in the cabinet of Louis XIV, and considered one of the choicest in that collection. The figures are of the natural size.

« EdellinenJatka »