« PreviousContinue »
to which the artist may have given the most perfect expression may be entitled to positive excellence, though it may be justly condemned in a relative consideration, if it is not perfectly concordant with the general and appropriate expression of the picture.
In the Martyrdom of St. Andrew, by Domenichino, the painter has represented one of the executioners fallen down, and the others mocking him with gross and indecorous gesticulation. The expression of these figures, considered abstractedly, is positively excellent, but in a relative consideration it is entirely misplaced.
Expression may also be relatively good, without any claim to approbation in a positive sense. This is strikingly exemplified_in Raffaelle's St. Michael discomfiting the Evil Spirit. To vanquish the demon, the archangel expresses no exertion; acting under the influence of Omnipotence, he subdues his adversary without an effort. Contending as a man, the expression of St. Michael would have been ridiculous; as the minister of the Deity, it is sublime.
FORESHORTENING, is the effect that is produced by a figure viewed longitudinally, when it assumes an appearance shorter than it would be when placed perpendicularly. This mode of designing the figure is chiefly used by artists in painting domes and ceilings. In these cases it is called by the Italians, di sotto in su, from below upwards.
FRESCO. An Italian word used to express that species of painting which is generally used on walls, roofs, and ceil
It is effected by covering with fresh plaster, composed of lime and sand, the place to be ornamented. The artist traces on this the design prepared on his cartoon; and painting on that composition with water-colours before it is dry, they are impregnated with the plaster, and become a part of it.
Fresco painting is of all others the most adapted to those great works which form the embellishment of large public edifices, from the promptitude with which it is performed, and from its extraordinary durability. The sublime productions which have immortalized the names of M. Angelo, Raffaelle, Correggio, and Giulio Romano, at Rome, Florence, Parma, and Mantua, are painted in fresco.
GRACE, may be said to be a conformation of the movement of beautiful forms, with the most amiable sentiments of the mind. As applied to art, grace cannot, like beauty, be reduced to the precision of adopted rules. Grace can neither be described, nor measured, nor determined; more fugitive, and more universal than beauty, it can neither be fixed by principle, nor established by convention. Each nation
may have its peculiar idea of beauty, but grace is the same in every country. These two admirable qualities only contend with each other in their attractions, in which grace will generally be found to be triumphant: La grace plus belle encore que la beauté.-La Fontaine.
Grace was in all her steps.-Milton. GROTESQUE, a term given to those whimsical ornaments with which the Romans sometimes decorated the ceilings and friezes in their small apartments. The grotesque differs little from the species of ornament called arabesque; the name is said to have been given to it on account of some ornaments of that description having been found in the ruins of a Roman palace, discovered in a grotto near Rome, in the time of Raffaelle. That great painter being then employed in the Vatican, adopted the idea, by ornamenting in that style some of the galleries serving as passages in that palace. The Italian word Grotesca or Grotesco is preferable to the French grotesque, especially as the latter is always used by the English in a ludicrous
GROUP, signifies, in painting, the disposal of an assemblage of figures, or objects, by which they are collected and combined in such a manner that the eye can at once embrace the whole. The advantage which results from this arrangement is the production of unity, which is one of the established beauties of the art. It is observable in nature, that in a concourse of persons they form themselves into different companies, according to their ages, conditions, and inclinations; these divisions are called groups. It is required by the best rules of art, that although subordinate groups may be introduced into a picture, they should never interfere with the principal one.
HARMONY, is the congenial and accordant effect of a picture, resulting from an intelligent distribution of the light and shadow, an amicable arrangement of colour, and consistency and propriety in the composition. Mengs defines harmony to be the art of preserving a just medium between two extremes, as well in the design as in the chiaroscuro and the colouring.
Every faculty of the art is subject to the laws of harmony. When the different parts of an ordonnance are suited to the subject, and accord amongst themselves to affect the mind of the spectator, there may be said to be harmony in the composition. If all the parts of the composition tend to increase the interest intended to be produced, and every part of the same figure conforms with the interior sentiment with which it is meant to be affected, there will be a harmony of
expression. When the manæuvre appears throughout the operation of the same hand, and the produce of the same intelligence, it may be styled harmony of execution. If the different parts of the same figure accord in indicating the same age, the same temperament, the same tender or muscular character, there will be a harmony of design. When the lights and shadows are not violently contrasted, and the demitints lead gradually and insensibly from light to shadow, it produces a harmony of chiaroscuro. And when the artist avoids bringing together colours which are not amicable, and his tints constantly participate of those which precede or follow them, it will produce harmony of colouring.
IDEAL BEAUTY, is generally understood to express that perfection which is never found in individual nature, and can only be produced by a union of the various beauties selected from different forms. If we would form to ourselves a conception of ideal beauty as it was felt by the Grecian sculptors in the purest era of art, we must imagine a beauty such as it would exist if nature produced the human form in the most exquisite perfection of which it is susceptible, aided by the most elevated and dignified sentiment of art. Impressed with such ideas, the Grecian artists were continually engaged in the representation of their heroes or their gods, inspired with the zeal of expression, by the most faultless semblance of human form, that grandeur and beauty which was to be regarded as divine.. “It is this intellectual dignity,” says Sir Joshua Reynolds, “ that ennobles the painter's art, that lays the line between him and the mere mechanic, and produces those great effects in an instant which eloquence and poetry are scarcely able to attain.”
IMPASTO. Colour laid on thickly. Impasto is commendable or censurable according to its application. A full bold pencil is necessary to produce proper effect in a subject painted on a grand scale; in pictures of the cabinet size it is offensive, unless cautiously used. In certain portraits by Rembrandt it appears like modeling rather than painting. Rubens frequently uses it to advantage; it is occasionally detrimental in pictures by de Hooge, especially in the carnations.
LINEAR PERSPECTIVE, is a science belonging to mathematics, by which is correctly established, by geometrical rules, the diminution of the size of objects, according to their distance from the eye. MANNER. This word is used in art in two senses. It is
applied to express the particular style of a painter, as it differs from that of other masters. When manner only indicates the character of the artist, without departing from nature, it is a necessary dependence of the art, as it is indispensable that every painter should have his manner of designing and colouring, as every person has his peculiar mode of handwriting. It is also frequently made use of to express an affectation and habit, contracted by an imitation of the peculiarities of some particular master, instead of a general contemplation of nature. This imitation must always be defective, as the object of the art is the perfect representation of nature, and not the peculiar idea that a painter may have formed to himself. Every school has a manner distinguishing it from others; and every artist of the school participates of it, with a difference peculiar to himself. It is by a knowledge of these differences that connoisseurs decide on the school or painter of a particular picture.
MORBIDEZZA. The Italians call morbido what is delicate, soft, or flexible, and morbidezza is used in painting to express that tenderness and fleshiness which appears in the best imitations of beautiful nature. It is particularly applicable to the carnations of women and children. Correggio possessed in an exquisite degree this admirable quality, and has given examples of the morbidezza which perhaps yet remain unequalled.
ORDONNANCE, as applied to pictures, signifies the disposition or arrangement of the parts, with regard to the whole composition. It corresponds with the English word PLAN.
OUTLINE, or CONTOUR. In its most simple interpretation, outline signifies the trace by which the form of a figure or object is designed. An exact outline is that which imitates with precision the exterior form of an object viewed from a certain fixed point. Exactness relates to the fidelity of the imitation, without a reference to the theoretical or practical excellence of which the art is susceptible. Thus an exact outline may be drawn of an imperfect figure; and though this precision does not produce an agreeable imitation, it is so far estimable, as it discovers a perfect organic vision, and a dexterity of hand, which can only be acquired by great practice. A correct outline implies a more speculative idea of the art, which demands that it should not only be exact, but that it should be select in the form, and conformable to those proportions which have been adopted as the bases of perfection.
Passion. By passion is meant, in painting, the expression of an affection of the mind as it is imprinted on the human frame. Passion
synonymous with sentiment, with sensation, as the mind can only cease to be impassioned when it ceases to feel. In its relation to art, it is nearly connected with expression. See EXPRESSION.
PASTICCIO. The Italians apply this word, which signifies a pie, to a description of pictures which are neither entirely originals nor copies, and which are sometimes made up of different parts, taken from other paintings, as a paté is com'posed of various kinds of meat. This appellation is likewise extended to such productions as are entirely the invention of the artist, but in which he has imitated the style of another master, in composition, design, and colouring. These