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It would be endless to recapitulate the works of this master: he was celebrated by the poets of the age, particularly by Waller, Lovelace, and Charles Cotton. The beauties of Windsor are the court of Paphos. In the portraits of men he seldom succeeded, if we except a fine head of the earl Sandwich; an alderman Leneve in his habit; and a portrait of Cowley in his youth, which has an inimitable pastoral simplicity and beauty. He was knighted by Charles the Second. He married a beautiful English woman, always kept a handsome table, and his collection of pictures was magnificent.
Lely was much mortified at the rising merit of Kneller. Both had too little variety in their heads. Kneller was bolder and more careless; Lely more delicate in finishing. The latter showed by application and labour the height of excellence to which labour and application could arrive. Had Godfrey painted less, and applied more, he would have been the greater master. Sir Peter Lely died of an apoplexy, as he was drawing the duchess of Somerset, in the 63d year of his age, 1680.
Antonio Verrio, a Neapolitan, was a first-rate painter on the subjects upon which he was employed. Without much invention, and with less taste, his exuberant pencil was ready at pouring out gods and goddesses, emperors and triumphs, over those public surfaces on which the eye never rests long enough to criticise, and where the works of a capital master should never be placed, viz. ceilings and stair-cases. The New Testament, or the Roman history, cost him nothing but ultra marine.
Charles the Second, wishing to revive the manufacture of tapestry at Mortlake, which had been interrupted by the civil war, sent for Verrio to England; but, changing his purpose, consigned over Windsor to his pencil. The first picture he drew for the king was his majesty in a naval triumph, now in the public dining-room in the
castle. He executed most of the ceilings there, one whole side of St. George's-hall, and the chapel. On the ceiling of the former he has pictured the earl of Shaftesbury, in the character of Faction, dispersing libels; as in another place he revenged a private quarrel with the housekeeper (Mrs. Marriot) by borrowing her ugly face for one of the furies. The king paid him generously; gave him, besides, a place of master-gardener, and a lodging at the end of the park (now Carleton-house). He was expensive, and kept a great table, and often pressed his majesty for money, with a freedom which Charles's goodnature always indulged. Once, at Hampton-court, when he had but lately received 1000l, he found the king in such a circle that he could not approach; upon which he called out, "Sire! I desire the favour of speaking with your majesty."-" Verrio," said the king, "what is your request?"-" Money, sire: I am so short of cash, that I am not able to pay my workmen; and your majesty and I have learnt by experience, that pedlars and painters cannot give long credit." The king smiled, observing he had but lately ordered him 1000l. " Yes, sire, but that was soon paid away; and I have no gold left."-" At this rate," said Charles, "you would spend more than I do to maintain my family."-"True," answered Verria, “but does your majesty keep an open table as I do?"
On the accession of James II, Verrio was again employed at Windsor, in Wolsey's tomb-house, then destined for a Romish chapel. He painted the king and several of the courtiers in the hospital of Christ-church. The Revolution was by no means agreeable to his religion or principles: he quitted his place, and even refused to work for king William. From that time he was employed by lord Exeter at Burleigh, where he painted several chambers, which are esteemed amongst his best works. He has placed his own portrait in the room where he represented the history of Mars and Venus; and, for the Bacchus bestriding a hogshead, he has, according
to his usual liberty, borrowed the face of a dean with whom he was at variance. By the persuasion of lord Exeter, he condescended at last to serve king William, and was sent to Hampton-court, where, amongst other things, he painted the great stair-case as ill as if he had spoiled it out of principle. His eyes failing him, queen Anne gave him a pension of 2001. for his life; but he did not long enjoy it, dying at Hampton-court in
Simon Varelst was a real ornament of the age of Charles, and one of the few who have arrived at capital excellence as a flower-painter. He was a Dutchman: it is not certain in what year he arrived in England. His works were greatly admired, and his prices higher than had been known in this country. He was patronised by the duke of Buckingham, who had too much wit to be long beneficent; and perceiving the poor man to be immoderately vain, he piqued him to attempt portraits. Varelst, thinking nothing impossible to his pencil, fell into the snare, and drew the duke himself; but crowded it so much with fruits and sun-flowers, that the king (to whom it was shown) could not spy out his grace, and took it only for a flower-piece. However, as it sometimes happens to wiser buffoons than Varelst, he was laughed at till he was admired; and sir Peter Lely himself became the real sacrifice to the jest. He lost much of his business, and retired to Kew, while Varelst engrossed the fashion, and for one half-length was paid 110. His portraits were extremely laboured, and finished with the same delicacy as his flowers, which he continued to introduce into them. Lord chancellor Shaftesbury, going to sit to him, was received by the artist with his hat on: "Don't you know me?" said the peer."Yes," replied the painter, you are my lord chancellor; and do you know me? I am Varelst. The king can make any man chancellor, but he can make nobody Varelst.'. The chancellor was disgusted, and sat to Greenhill,
In 1785 Varelst was a witness on the divorce between the duke and duchess of Norfolk. One who had married into his family was brought to set aside his evidence, and deposed to his having been mad and confined. Mad he certainly was; and his lunacy was self-admiration. He called himself the God of Flowers; went to Whitehall, saying he wanted to converse with the king for three hours: being repulsed, he cried out, "He is king of England-I of painting!-why should we not converse familiarly?" He showed an historic piece, boasting that it contained the several manners and excellencies of Raphael, Titian, Rubens, and Vandyck. He was shut up towards the end of his life, and recovered his senses at last, but not his genius: he lived to a great age, and afforded a melancholy instance of the consequences of vanity.
Mrs. Anne Killigrew, the daughter of Dr. Killigrew, was born a little before the Restoration. Her family were remarkable for loyalty, accomplishments, and wit: and this young lady promised to be one of its fairest ornaments. Antony Wood says-" she was a grace for beauty, and a muse for wit;" and Dryden has celebrated her nius for painting and poetry in a long ode, in which the rich stream of his numbers has hurried along with it all that his luxuriant fancy produced in his way:-it is an harmonious hyperbole, composed of the fall of Adam, Arethusa, vestal virgins, Diana, Cupid, Noah's ark, the Pleiades, the valley of Jehosaphat, and the last assizes. Yet Wood assures us there is nothing in it to which she was not equal, if not superior. Her poems were published after her death, with a print of her, from her portrait, drawn by herself in a much better style than her poetry, and evidently in the manner of sir Peter Lely. She was maid-of-honour to the duchess of York, and died in her 25th year, of the small-pox, in 1685.
William Vandeville, the son of Vandeville, painter of
sea-fights, was the greatest master that has appeared in this branch of painting. The palm is not less disputed with Raphael for history, than with Vandeville for that most sublime element the sea, with ships upon it. Annibal Carracci and Mr. Scott have not surpassed these chieftains. W. Vandeville was born at Amsterdam, and wanted no master but his father till the latter came to England. Then, for a short time, he was placed with Simon De Vlieger, an admired ship-painter of the age, but whose name is only preserved now by being united with that of his pupil. Young William was soon demanded by his father, and favourably received by the king, to whose particular inclination his genius was adapted.
Samuel Cooper was an admirable painter, and might be called an original genius; for though he was indebted for part of his merit to the works of Vandyck, he was the first who gave the strength and freedom of oil to miniature. Other artists in this line touch and re-touch with such careful fidelity, that you cannot help perceiving they are nature in the abstract. Cooper's pictures are so bold, that they seem perfect nature, only of a less standard. Magnify the former, they are still diminutively conceived: if a glass could expand Cooper's to the size of Vandyck's, they would appear to have been painted for that proportion. If his portrait of Cromwell could be so enlarged, Vandyck might appear less great by the comparison. To make it fairly, one must not measure Vandyck by his most admired work-cardinal Bentivoglio: the quick finesse of eye in a florid Italian writer was not a subject equal to the protector; but the fair experiment would be to balance Cooper's Oliver and Vandyck's lord Strafford; to trace the lineaments of equal ambition, equal intrepidity, equal art, and equal presumption; and to compare the skill of the masters in representing the one exalted to the height of his hopes, yet perplexed