Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

in general effect: in fact, there is a perfect likeness, but no resemblance. And we may keep each'in our cabinets to very delightful purpose, if we know how to use them ;—if we refer to them,—not as fac-similes of the respective realities, and calculated to call up the same feelings that they do--for so they would be very likely to injure our taste for each, instead of improving it,,but as hints that may lead us to think of the realities when we otherwise should not, and compare them with the imitations, and dwell on the likeness and the unlikeness—the distinctions, and differences—that exist between them; and thus make each illustrate the other, and impress its peculiar characteristics on the me mory when we are absent from both. The fault of Wouvermans' landscapes as compared with those of Cuyp, Paul Potter, &c. (and I have always observed the same deficiency to exist in enamel portraits as compared with some others) is an absolute want of vitality, and 'consequently of expression. Their want of the truth of nature would not be a valid objection against them in itself, if it were not accompanied by this other deficiency–which it need not necessarily be. Congreve's Millamant is as unlike Shakspeare's Miranda as one human being can be to another. The one is a creation of pure art, and the other an emanation of pure nature ; and yet both are almost equally interesting, because both are instinct with vitality, and are consistent not only with themselves, but with each other. Circumstances might have made a Millamant of Miranda. Now the landscapes of Paul Potter, like the Miranda of Shakspeare, are pure nature; but the landscapes of Wouvermans, though they are pure art, like Millamant, are nothing but art, which she was not ;-they are like beautiful masks motionless—breathless—cold; there is si no speculation in them." I conceive this to arise partly (but not very considerably) from the cold and unnatural tone of colour which Wouvermans adopted, in order, perhaps, to distinguish brimself from all his contemporaries; for he was certainly not without an affectation of this kind. He was determined to be singular; and he had the sense to know that he could not hope to 'become so by surpassing his contemporaries; in their own style-for those contemporaries were Paul Potter, Cuyp, Both, Berchem, &c. He therefore chose to be at the head of his own style at the expense of truth, rather than second in another style in conformity with it.

And æl, at all events, have no right to complain of his choice; for though it were evidently better to have one Cuyp than ten Wouvermaps, yet it is bete ter to have one of each than two of either.

Here are some delightful specimens of Wouvermans in this collection. Six of them hang nearly together, low on the left band in the second room-Nos. 108, 113, 114, 115, 119, 120. One of them, containing a cart and horse on a little elevation in the centre, is one of the loveliest gems of this master that I have ever seen, both in colouring and composition—but particularly the latter.

Wynants is an artist whose works include all the faults of his pupil (Wouvermans), with scarcely any of their beauties. Like Both and Cuyp, too, he covered his scenes all over with sunshine; but he seemed to introduce it for the express purpose of giving to them a look of cold brightness rather than of glowing warmth. Exquisitely finished as the details of his pictures are, the general effect of them is not only unnatural, like those of Wouvermans, but unpleasing, on account of

their having no tone of colour at all. The light is always broken into little flickering patches, as we see it on the floor of a thick grove of trees when the sun penetrates through the intervals between the branches and leaves. External nature does not seem to have offered to his perceptions any decided sentiment; and consequently, not being able to draw upon himself for any, his works have no pervading spirit. They are to be described and characterized by their different parts ; and not as wholes. The leaves and branches of his trees—the patches of light, shade, and colour, in the old dead trunks--the ruts and breakings in his roads, &c. are done to the very life; but there is none of the general truth of nature-none of her general effects. Above all, his patches of sunshine look like sunshine ; but they are scattered about at random, and quite gratuitously; and they are also frequently placed in such a way that if half of them fall in the right direction according to the light in which the picture is painted, the other half " have no business there." There are but two pictures by this artist in the present collection (6 and 16)--and those are far from ranking among his best.

The style of HOBBIMA is more purely and exclusively natural than that of any other painter in any department-with the exception of Teniers; and accordingly, the feelings which his scenes excite differ scarcely at all from those excited by the actual scenes of Nature. This arises in some degree from the kind of scenery he has chosen to depict being one upon which the imagination is capable of acting but little. Those who are pleased by Hobbima's pictures, are pleased in virtue of their memory alone; and none are pleased by them in a very high degree, but such as are accustomed to what is called purely rural scenery. It is not very easy to explain exactly what this term means; but lovers of the country will understand it well enough ; and it is only to these that Hobbima's pictures address themselves. A scene may be pastoral, or picturesque, without being rural ; but to be rural, it must include the pastoral and the picturesque, and at the same time objects connecting the thoughts with the lower classes of country life, and with no other class. The human figures represented must be taken from among those who are engaged in the actual tilling of the land-those or their families ; a lady or gentleman, in such a scene, would be an impertinence. The other living objects must be connected with the same class. The buildings introduced must be peasants' cottages, or barns, sheds, &c. used for purposes of husbandry: an Italian villa, or a cottage ornée, would look as much out of place as a shepherd's dog in a drawing-room. Even the trees, roads, grounds, &c. must be of a particular kind, or the consistency of the scene is broken in upon: knotted oaks-elms spreading their untique arms above hollow trunks-old stunted thorns-broken ground, and roads winding and cut to pieces with deep wheel-ruts :-Poplars, or Weymouth pines, darting up their trim forms into the sky, or a good level turnpike road kept in order under the superintendence of Mr. M'Adam, would put the rurality to flight in a moment. In fact, what is called “ rural scenery” is of a perfectly peculiar kind, and is well understood by those who attend to differences and distinctions in these matters ; and it is this kind of scenery, and no other, that Hobbima paints. And he paints it almost as well as Nature herself does : his colours are as

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

fresh as hers,—and his touch as firm, crisp, and well-defined : and he has this advantage over Nature, that, having his materials under his own control, he never suffers any thing to intrude into his scenes that can in any way disturb the unity of the sentiment they are intended to express. In wandering through one of Nature's scenes of the above description, you may chance to meet the Lady of the Manor, on her sleek thorough-bred mare, with her liveried groom behind her; which is not the thing. But Hobbima takes care that this shall never happen in his scenes.—The principal effects of Hobbima's pictures are always produced by some particular object, or set of objects, seen in the halfdistance, through an opening in the dark trees of the foreground, and by a light which falls almost exclusively upon them—the foreground being illuminated by reflected lights alone. These objects are usually a small thatched cottage, with its appurtenances, exceedingly small in comparison with the huge trees that occupy the front of the picture, and run up to the top, excluding the sky altogether from the upper part. These objects—with the living figures, of children, female peasants, &c. that accompany them, are represented as if in the full sunshine ; so that one portion of this artist's pictures is always a strong contrast to the other, in point of light and shade. In the dark part of the picture, however, there is generally an appropriate figure introduced, or at least some object or other that connects this part of the scene with the other—otherwise the antithesis would be too great. I repeat, it is impossible for any thing to be more purely natural tban the style of Hobbima. He not only never paints any objects or appearances but what he and every body else has seen ; but nope that can by any possibility suggest any thing else. I have said above that his scenes address themselves to and affect us through the medium of the memory alone. I should perhaps qualify this by saying, that, though they affect the imagination as vividly as those of any other artist that I am acquainted with, they affect that portion of it alone which is created by and dependent on the memory. There are but three specimens of Hobbima in the Dulwich collection-(82, 153, 168 ;) and neither of them are very capital. No. 153 is, however, an extremely pleasing one.

The only other Flemish landscape painters that I shall mention particularly are Jacob Ruysdael and Berchem. JACOB RUYSDAEL, is not unlike Hobbima in his mode of handling ; and is a scarcely less natural painter. His trees, ground, &c. have cqual firmness and decision with those of Hobbima, and perhaps even more crispness and spirit ; and his waterfalls, and pieces of running water, actually talk and move--you can almost hear them as they go. As every artist knows were his own strength lies, better than any one can tell him, these where among Ruysdael's favourite objects. Indeed be scarcely painted a picture without them. There is also great force and depth in the foliage, which he always introduces into his scenes in great profusion. Ruysdael is, however, the least characteristic and mannered of any of the distinguished artists of his class and country. His manner, like Hobbima's, is almost exclusively that of Nature ; and he perhaps used less selection in his imitation of her than any one else. It is by bis touch alone that you can know him; not by his scenes and objectsas you may Hobbima almost to a certainty. A picture may be known

to be Hobbima's by description alone—which can scarcely be said of the works of any other artist in this class.

BERCHEM, from the merit of many of his works, claims a particular notice in this sketch of the Flemish landscape-painters; but there is nothing in his style sufficiently exclusive and characteristic to admit of description. His pictures are characteristic enough to be instantly known, but not to be distinctly made known to others. This arises from his style being not in any degree original and his own, but made up of the qualities of several others. He joins, in a very pleasing and tasteful manner, the delicate pencilling of Both, the smoothness of Wouvermans, and the truth and precision of Ruysdael; and there is an airy elegance in his composition which no one has equalled who has confined himself (as Berchem did) to familiar scenery, and almost the lowest class of country life. There are five pictures by Ruysdael in this collection, and as many by Berchem. Among those by the former, 145 is a good specimen of his exquisite skill in depicting a waterfall; and 159 is very rich, natural, and fine. Among the Berchems, if I recollect rightly, 164 is the best and most characteristic example.

Having concluded my notice of the Flemish landscape painters, I must now pause, and resume my subject in another article.

SONG FOR A SWISS FESTIVAL ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF AN ANCIENT

BATTLE.

Look on the white Alps 'round!

-If yet they gird a land
Where Freedom's voice and step are found,

Forget ye not the band
Of dauntless men, our sires, who fell
Here, in the rocky battle-dell !
If yet, the wilds among,

Our silent hearts may burn,
When the deep mountain-horn hath rung,

And home our steps may turn;
Home! Home !—if still that name be dear,
Praise to the men who perish'd here!
Look on the white Alps 'round !

Up to their shining snows
That day the savage-rolling sound,

The sound of battle, rose !
Their caves prolong'd the trumpet's blast,
Their dark pines trembled, as it pass’d.
They saw the princely crest,

They saw the knightly spear,
The banner and the mail-clad breast,

Borne down and trampled here !
They saw !-and glorying there they stand,
Eternal records to the land !
Praise to the mountain-born,

The brethren of the glen!
By them no steel-array was worn,

They stood as peasant-men!
They left the vineyard and the field,
To break an Empire's lance and shield.

F. H.

SONG.

FAREWELL then, loved and lovely one,

And welcome pain or sorrow now, For thou canst smile, and smile upon

A blighted heart, a burning brow. I deem'd not one so fair and bright

Could be like hail in summer skies, Which scarcely leaves the world of light

But all its parer essence dies.
I send one sigh before we part,

And bless it, as it is the last:
But, oh! it breathes not from my heart-

'Tis but the memory of the past. In future, should some sunny beam

Come fitting o'er my gloomy way, I'll say "tis like my early dream,"

And weep not when it fades away.

C. H.

SONNET FROM BENEDETTO MENZINI.

“Dianzi io piantai un ramoscel d'alloro.” I PLANTED in my youth a laurel-bough,

My humble prayer to Phæbus offering,
That by his fostering care the tree might grow,

And shade and shelter to the poet bring :-
That Zephyr might his kindly warmth bestow,

And gently fan it with his golden wing;
And that the icy North might vainly blow,

And have no power to blight its blossoming.
Full slow indeed beneath that fostering care
I see my tender plant its branches rear,

Midst trees of loftier height, and nobler name.
But yet I grieve not at its slow uprise ;
His is no easy task, no common prize,

Who justly wins and wears the wreath of fame.

TO

And shall true love indeed be thus requited

For all its lengthen'd war of hope and fear?

Is this the thought that cheer'd the lonely year, The meed of faith so firm, so fondly plighted ? What mildew or what canker-worm bath blighted

The harvest of my joys in its full ear;

When sunshine smiled on all around-and near Hope with her sickle stood and smiled delighted ? Now I can stand secure, and laugh at Fate,

For she hath dealt from out her deadly bow

The sharpest of her arrows-and the last.
Why should I court her smiles, or fear her hate,

When she hath spent her malice?-now I know,
The bitterness of death itself is past !

M.

« PředchozíPokračovat »