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statues of actors in character. I cannot admire the conception of even Harlowe's well-known picture of the Kemble family, whom he has represented as acting the trial scene in Shakspeare's Henry VIII. Contrast with this the fine abstraction effected by Sir Joshua Reynolds in his portrait of Mrs. Siddons, not as Lady Macbeth, or Queen Catharine; but as the Tragic Muse; and consequently embodying all her characters at once.

After all, beset as imitative art is with the imperious dictates of fashion, entangled as it is with its own ramifications, still it is naturalness alone that confers on any of its productions effect and value. And the quality of naturalness is not to aim at a cold delineation of reality, but to have the developement of truth for its sole object: and this is good taste : whereas, the practical effect of bad taste is to falsify, by substituting deception for imitation; not having the faculty of perceiving that the required truth consists in the selection, modification, and generalization of the external features of Nature, by which process alone can the mind be rescued from the crude interruptions of circumstance. This is as much as to say that in order to secure naturalness, Nature must be improved upon; a principle recognised in the “quâ fæmina nasci nulla potest” of the passage cited above, and in the following from Homer;

τον μεν 'Αθηναίη θήκεν, Διός έκγεγουϊα,
μείζονα τ' εισιδέειν και πάσσονα καδ δε κάρητος
ούλας ήκε κόμας, υακινθίνω άνθει ομοίας.
ως δ' ότε τις χρυσόν περιχευέται αργύρω ανήρ
ίδρας, ον "Ηφαισος δέδαεν και Παλλάς Αθήνη
τέχνην παντοίων, χαρίεντα δε έργα τελείει
ώς άρα το κατέχευε χάριν κεφαλήτε και ώμοις.

ODYSSEY, Z. 230,

The warrior Goddess gives his frame to shine
With majesty enlarged, and hair divine :
Back from his brow a length of hair unfurls ;
His hyacinthine locks descend in wavy curls.
As by some artist to whom Vulcan gives
His skill divine, a breathing statue lives;
By Pallas taught, he frames the wondrous mould,
And o'er the silver pours the fusile gold;
So Pallas his heroic frame improves
With heavenly bloom, and like a god he moves.

Pope's translation.

And it is yet more pleasingly illustrated in the following passage from Shakspeare:

Perdita. . Sir, the year growing ancient,-
Not yet on summer's death, nor on the birth
Of trembling winter,—the fairest flowers o' the season
Are our carnations, and streaked gilliflowers,
Which some call nature's bastards : of that kind
Our rustic garden's barren; and I care not
To get slips of them.
Polixenes.

Wherefore, gentle maiden,
Do you neglect them?

Perdita.

For I have heard it said,
There is an art, which in their piedness, vies
With great creating nature.
Polirenes.

Say there be;
Yet nature is made better by no mean,
But nature makes that mean: So, o'er that art,
Which, you say, adds to nature, is an art
That nature makes. You see, sweet maid, we marry
A gentler scion to the wildest stock;
And make conceive a bark of baser kind
By bud of nobler race; this is an art
Which does mend nature,-change it, rather : but
The art itself is nature.

WINTER'S TALE. Act iv. sc. 3.

The conclusion intended to be drawn from the above remarks is, that all imitation addressed to the eye, must, to be pleasing, be informed with a certain spirit of unity of action; and that the most abstract and perfect is sculpture. Let me conclude with expressing a sincere hope, if in attempting definiteness in handling this subject, somewhat may have been dictatorially spoken, that it will be looked

upon

of indulgence; and the error be attributed to a desire of showing that in taking an impartial view of matters of art, our tastes, at home or abroad, are not independent of our reason and of our affections.

with an eye

177

NOTES TO MEMORIALS IN PROSE

AND VERSE.

Note 1. Page 32, Title.
THE BAPTISTERY AT FLORENCE.

THE

THE Baptistery at Florence is an octagonal build

ing; and in eight compartments near the summit of the interior of the Dome, the mosaic represents celestial Beings, over whom is written in large Gothic characters, (1.) A. 12. (2.) DOMINATIONES. (3.) POTESTATES. (4.) ARCHANGELI. (5.) ANGELI. (6.) PRINCIPATUS. (7.) VIRTUTES. (8.) THRONE.

Note 2. Page 32, line 5.
Gates not unworthy Paradise, &c.

“ E ben debbe essere veramente lodato Lorenzo (Ghiberti) dacchè un giorno Michelagnolo Buonaroti, fermatosi a veder questo lavoro, e dimandato quel che gliene paresse, e se queste porte erano belle, rispose, 'elle son tanto belle, ch'elle starebbon bene alle porte del Paradiso.'” VASARI.

N

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