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sand-hills, which spared not in its impious progress the holy place, but the image defied its rage. It stood erect amid the desolation, and was seen in the morning after the tempest, perched on the topmost point of the mound that covered the ruin. Once more a fitting receptacle was prepared, and that is the present chapel, the simple elegance of whose outward construction, and whose richly-ornamented interior, are remarkable specimens of good taste and gorgeousness blended together with surprising harmony. The desolate wilds around—the profound seclusion of its site—the deep-embowering woods--the superstitious veneration of the simple souls who there offer up their orisons—all the union, in fact, of natural solemnity and religious enthusiasm, give to the place an indescribable and irresistible charm. There is a Hermitage close by, inhabited in the summer season by a good and enlightened curate, who is looked on with a veneration more than common, as the direct descendant of the holy Thomas. But it is on the 25th of March, when the fête of the village is held, that the traveller, who enjoys such primitive and touching scenes, should place himself at the porch of the chapel, to witness the ceremony of devoting the earliest fish of the season to the Virgin, from whom the image is believed to have been directly sent from Heaven. They believe that it descended directly from Heaven, like Palladium of the Trojans—or like the Liafail, the enchanted stone brought to Ireland by the first settlers, from which the island received the name of Innisfail.
To the North Star.
Fair star, 'mid changes, all unchangeable,
In loveliness and station, still the same-
In Heaven's blue dome, with thy pale pensive flame!
That seem to herald only scenes of light,
And wilds of snow, and climes of loveless night.
In loveliness and virtue, still the same
Gifted by Love to 'waken passion's flame!
BRITISH GALLERIES OF ART.
Mr. Angerstein's Gallery in Pall Mall. In commencing a series of papers on the above fertile and interesting subject, I should, perhaps, beg the reader's forbearance on more than one account. But, at all events, I must ask him not to expect from me what I have probably not the means, but certainly not the intention, of offering to him. Much as the subject is susceptible of a critical and technical treatment, and useful as such a kind of treatment of it might unquestionably be made, I have no thought of supplying that desideratum; and have even no ambition either to be, or to be thought, capable of supplying it. The little regular study I have given to art has been prompted by the spontaneous love I have always borne to it; and thus my knowledge, such as it is, has sprung from much love, not my love from much knowledge. From this it follows, that the opinions I may from time to time have to express will usually grow out of feelings, not the feelings out of opinions; and the latter will always be kept in subjection to the former. In short, unlike “honest Iago” (whom one would wish to resemble in as few particulars as possible), “ I am nothing, if critical;” on the contrary, I strenuously hold to the exact converse of Horace's nil admirari maxim, especially as it is rendered by Pope, after the example of Creech :
“Much to admire, is all the art I know,
To make men happy, or to keep them so." Admiration, then, will be my cue, as it is my delight; and the true and legitimate sources of it my constant search and theme, to the almost entire exclusion of subjects of an opposite character. If, in noting down the particular contents of a collection of pictures, I find a bad one hanging by the side of a good one, there let it hang for me; or, at worst, I shall use it but as a foil to heighten the effect of its neighbour: thus shewing that I have lived long enough in the world to be able to find "good in every thing”—even in a bad picture ! In fact, to criticise the works of Raphael, of Rembrandt, of Titian, of Correggio, of Claude, &c. may be safely left to Royal Academicians and makers of “Catalogues Raisonnées :" in any one else it is, at this time of day, a mere impertinence. It will be my object to make the reader acquainted with the riches of the old masters, not their poverty ;-to point out instances of the beauty, the grandeur, and the power that attended them, not of their errors and deficiencies :-in short, to heighten and extend the light of their fame where it already exists, and to push that light into recesses which it has, perhaps, not hitherto reached, instead of seeking to confine and repress it within such sober practical limits as may suit the paltry interests, and still more paltry envies, of portraitpainters and exhibitionists.
On the other hand, it will not be part of my plan to make comparisons. These are “odious” when instituted between the living; but between the living and the dead they are as intolerable as they are unfair,-the fame of the one necessarily depending on the bad as well as the good that may be found in their works, while the others are judged of chiefly by the latter. In short, it is with the old masters, and the élite of their works, that I propose to concern myself in these papers; and, perhaps, if they serve but as a record or an index directing the student where those works are to be found, and thus facilitate his study of them, I may not have undertaken the task in vain, as it regards others; as it regards myself, it is one which includes its own reward.
I shall commence these papers by noticing Mr. Angerstein's Gallery in Pall Mall; and, if I am tempted to mention all the pictures this small but admirably chosen collection contains, this will of course not be taken as an example of the papers which are to follow. But the truth is, that every picture of the old masters in this Gallery would claim particular and individual notice, wherever it might be found.
The first picture I shall mention is one of the two Rembrandt's,—The Woman taken in Adultery. Rembrandt was the eagle of his art. Light was the element in which his spirit seemed “to move and have its being." His senses seemed delighted to bathe themselves in floods of it, and never to be thoroughly at ease, or to feel their power in its fulness, but when they were either communing with its source, the sun, or transferring solid portions of it to canvass, to dazzle the senses of other people. I say, the senses—for Rembrandt felt light as well as saw it, and made the spectator of his works feel it too. The Woman taken in Adultery is one of the very finest and most extraordinary of these works. The power displayed in it of embodying light, and of making it tell upon the senses and imagination as if it were a material thing, is prodigious. I would point out in particular, as a remarkable instance of what I mean, the right hand of the man who is unveiling and pointing to the culprit. As a piece of finishing, let it be contrasted with the left hand of the Saviour, and in this respect it will be found that there is no comparison between them—the latter being exquisitely wrought out. But, in point of effect, the hand I am alluding to is infinitely beyond the other: it is a stroke of genius. A hundred painters could have produced the one, but no one that ever lived, except Rembrandt, could have produced the other: and yet the one, perhaps, cost Rembrandt himself a whole day's labour, and the other was done by three strokes of the pencil. Such is the difference between a work of art (I mean in its literal sense) and a work of genius. Another instance (but not so striking a one) of his extraordinary power in this way, is the head of the Rabbi, with the flat cap and long white beard, on the right of the centre group. It strikes me that the conception of one of the figures in this picture (the Saviour) is exceedingly fine and poetical; and the execution of it is correspondent. The characteristic effect to which I allude seems to be brought about by the peculiar arrangement of the drapery and the hair, added to the unusual height and position of the figure. It is perfectly upright and still; while all the other figures are either bending downwards or forwards, or moving in some way or other. And the drapery and hair hang plumb down to the earth, as if weights were fixed to them. I scarcely know how to describe what I mean, so as to be intelligible to those who have not seen the picture ; but to me this arrangement of the drapery, added to the arrowy uprightness of the figure, and its unusual height, give an impression as if it were straining upwards to the heavens, but yet were held down to the earth by a still stronger temporary influence. There is another peculiar point in this fine picture which should not be passed over. The glory round the head of the Saviour is so exceedingly faint that it usually requires the eye of the imagination to discover it at all. Nine spectators out of ten would not see that it is there, unless they were told to look for it; but when they are told, it becomes perfectly plain. This is highly poetical, as well as philosophical,-at once acting on the imagination, and shewing the mode in which that action is produced. · The contrast between the two different departments of this picture is also very powerful. They are literally oo as different as light from darkness." They are, in fact, the very essence of each of these ; the palpable obscure of the one being no less tangible than the piercing brightness of the other. The figures and expressions, too, are very remarkable, and characteristic of this extraordinary artist. With the exception of the Saviour's, they are nearly all as simple and inartificial as the realities of every-day life can make them. If this artist's colouring may be said to resemble Milton's style of poetry, his drawing and expression are no less like Crabbe's; which is reaching the two extremes of the ideal and the real. The back-ground of this picture, though it is kept in perfect subservience to the principal group in front, is rich and brilliant to a degree of splendour. Upon the whole, The Woman taken in Adultery, may be regarded as one of Rembrandt's very choicest and most characteristic performances.
There is another work here by the same master, The Adoration of the Magi, which, though slight and inefficient compared with the above-named, is well worthy of attention ; particularly from the student, whom it may, perhaps, let farther into the secret of this great artist's mode of producing his favourite effects than his more finished productions. But I notice it here because it affords a striking example of another of Rembrandt's peculiar qualities. On looking at the left corner of the picture, at first nothing can be distinguished but a mass of darkness ; but, on a continued and attentive perusal, the eye will presently distinguish, bit by bit, the different parts of an animal; till, at length, two cows or oxen will, as it were, come out from the dark ness, and be as distinctly visible as any other parts of the picture. This effect is exactly similar to that of entering an almost entirely dark room immediately from a light one: at first, not a glimpse of any
object can be distinguished; but soon the different objects come out, and their forms may be distinguished as perfectly as they can in broad daylight.
The Apollo and Silenus by Annibal Caracci, small and insignificant as it looks at a distance, is a noble work, full of rich and rare poetry. It is a piece of pure expression throughout,—from the face of the young god, down to the smallest twig or weed in the landscape part of it-if any thing so ideal as this part is can be called a landscape. The Silenus is infinitely characteristic and fine : the figure combines strength and symmetry with an indication of voluptuous ease and indolence; the attitude is perfectly natural, and yet highly original and expressive, bespeaking a hall-indifferent attention to the progress of his pupil, added to a self-satisfied thoughtfulness about himself; and the face is filled to overflowing (like a newly poured out cup of wine) with all these expressions united. There is added to all this, throughout the whole figure, an air of habitual sensuality, which finely contrasts with VOL. V. No. 25,- 1823.
and sets off the all-intellectual character of the young god. For calm modest assurance, and natural unaffected grace, nothing can be finer than this latter. It is an embodying of the intellectual character of man in early youth, before either the imagination or the senses have been permitted to exercise much power over it; and accordingly the god is predominant. But I cannot help thinking that there is no more of the god expressed in this figure than naturally and necessarily belongs to man in a certain state and stage of his existence. In fact, I cannot help looking at these two admirable figures as explaining and illustrating each other in a particular sense, and in a sense not usually attached to them,—the one representing man when the intellectual principle predominates, and nearly supersedes the animal one; the other, when the animal principle has gained the supremacy: but each including (as they, under all circumstances, must do either prophecies or reminiscences of the other. Slight, and even unfinished, as the execution of this picture is, it is one that fixes itself in the memory,
and will not be forgotten.
The Bacchanalian Scene, by Nicolo Poussin, is evidently the work of a temperament similar to that which produced the highly classical and poetical picture I have just attempted to describe. The power of conception and expression displayed in both is nearly equal; but the variety of character, the truth of handling, and the rich tone of colour in the scene before us, perhaps, render it (notwithstanding its exceptionable parts) a more valuable example than the other of what the art is capable of effecting. The one is more an effort of pure genius, struck off at a heat, in a moment of inspiration; the other is a noble example of the same genius deliberately doing the behests of high art. It is impossible to speak in exaggerated terms of the admi. rable truth of the drawing in this picture, the high-wrought expression, and the elaborate finishing. All these characteristics may be strikingly seen in the centre group, consisting of two figures dancing, one of whom is at the same time playing on a pipe, and a third that is kneeling down and drinking from a shallow cup, into which one of the other two keeps pouring wine as he dances. There is a combination—an involution of expression (if I may so say) in this group, that is extraordinary. The action of each figure is involved in, and in some measure dependent on, that of both the others; and accordingly, the expressions are made to blend with and illustrate each other, without in any degree becoming indistinct in themselves. The drinking figure is at the same time endeavouring to prevent the dancing one from pouring too much wine into his cup; while the piping one is at once piping, dancing, and watching the actions of both these : and all three are evidently under the influence of the wine and music in which the whole scene seems to be steeped. There is a mad-headed, tipsy spirit of revelry pervading the whole, which is wonderfully true to that imaginary nature which the scene professes to represent. Poussin's learning, as usual, intrudes itself into this picture; but it may well be forgiven, for the sake of the exquisite painting to which it gives occasion. I allude to the back-ground of the scene. On the right there is a bit of colouring, of flesh, that is equal to any thing of Titians's: the pari 1 refer to cannot be mistaken, on a sight of the picture. For my own part, I am not able to discover a single one of Poussin's faults in