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period entered erroneously by the clergyman or clerk of the parish.' p. 6.
: Then again-
There is some little difficulty in fixing the exact date of his first discourse; some accounts stating its delivery on the 10th of December, 1768, when the Academy was first opened: in Malone's edition of his works, it is indeed dated on the 2nd of January, 1769: whilst Sir Joshua himself, in a letter to Barry, which will be hereafter inserted, speaks of its being delivered on the first of that month.' p. 102.
When will the makers of books learn, that tout ce qui c'est fait ne mérite pas d'être écrit?' But this is the way that quartos are filled.
Johnson has said, in his life of Cowley, that Sir J. Reynolds had the first fondness for his art excited by the perusal of Richardson's treatise.' This does not appear to be strictly correct. It was not till he had made some trifling attempts in drawing from common prints,' and even proceeded to draw likenesses of the friends and relatives of his family with tolerable success,' that he became acquainted with Richardson's Theory of Painting. Then, indeed, it was that the enthusiasm of a painter first broke out, and he thought Raffaelle the most extraordinary man the world had ever produced.' But what originally bent his mind this way does not appear.
It was a favourite notion of Johnson's, that'the true genius is a mind of large general powers, accidentally determined to some particular direction." Such also was the opinion of Sir Joshua. It was ever his decided opinion, that the superiority attainable in any pursuit whatever, does not originate in an innate propensity of the mind to that pursuit in particular, but depends on the general strength of the intelÏect, and on the intense and constant application of that strength to a specific purpose.' Indeed, Johnson, we think, though we cannot find the passage in Boswell, went so far as to assert that, had Sir Isaac Newton's genius been thus accidentally determined' to poetry, he would infallibly have become a great poet. There is certainly a great deal of truth in these general assertions, not very cautiously distinguished, we think, from a good deal of error. There are some arts and accomplishments, which depend in some degree even upon corporeal qualities. A musical ear can never be acquired, and a very short-sighted person is naturally incapacitated for a painter. It will be granted too, we suppose, that there is such a thing as physical courage, without which no one would make a soldier; such a thing too as strength of nerve, and presence of mind, equally necessary for a general and politician, But to say nothing of these, are there not
powers of mind as distinguishable as those of body?-powers of which one may be enjoyed without another? Is it to be expected that he who has imagination must therefore possess sagacity and judgment in reasoning, any more than that the man who is strong must be swift, or that a musical ear must be accompanied with an accurate eye? We think, not. And if a person will grant us this, he must grant us likewise, that there may be minds formed peculiarly for certain purposes;' ;'* that a man may be born to be a poet, who could yet never become a mathematician; or may have all the powers of a statesman, without one particle of a wit. Undoubtedly very different qualities are frequently found united in the same mind, and it is not impossible that the same person might unite the wit of Butler with the generalship of Wellington, or the fancy of Shakespear with the command over algebraical calculi that Waring possessed. All we contend for is, that these things, or rather the capabilities of these things, do not necessarily go together.
But to return to Sir Joshua. In consequence of the early predilection he had shewn for the art, he was, at the age of eighteen, sent to London, and placed under the care of Hudson, then the greatest painter in England.'
The qualification that enabled him to hold this decided preeminence, was the ability of producing a likeness with that kind of address which, by the vulgar, is considered as flattering to the But after having painted the head, Hudson's genius failed him, and he was obliged to apply to one Vanhaaken to put it on the shoulders and to finish the drapery, of both which he was himself totally incapable. Unluckily Vanhaaken died, and for a time Hudson was driven almost to despair, and feared he must have quitted his lucrative employment: he was, however, fortunate enough to meet with another drapery painter, named Roth, who, though not so expert as the former, was yet sufficiently qualified to carry on the manufactory.
Such were the barren sources of instruction at the time when Reynolds first came to London to be inspired by the genius of Hudson.' pp. 12-13.
After having spent two years under the tuition of this man, and excited his jealousy to that degree that they were obliged to part, Reynolds returned to his native county, Devonshire, where he passed the three following years, in painting portraits, on seeing some of which at the distance of thirty years,' he lamented that in so great a length of time he had made so little progress in his art.' Here he became known to Keppel, with whom, in 1749, he passed over to the continent. In Italy he spent three years.
During this time, and indeed throughout his life, he was
• Rambler, No. 43.
unwearied in his application to his art. "Whoever,' says he, is resolved to excel in painting, or, indeed, in any other art, must bring all his mind to bear upon that one object, from the moment he rises till he goes to bed; the effect of every object that meets the painter's eye may give him a lesson, provided his mind is calm, unembarrassed with other objects, and open to instruction. This general attention, with other studies connected with the art, which must employ the artist in his closet, will be found sufficient to fill up life, if it was much longer than it is.' And at another time, having been asked his opinion of a fan which Pope painted, and which accompanied those lines of his to Miss Martha Blount, 'Come gentle air,'
He replied, that it was such as might have been expected from one who painted for his amusement alone; like the performance of a child. This must always be the case when the work is taken up only from idleness, and laid aside when it ceases to amuse any longer. But those, he added, who are determined to excel, must go to their work whether willing or unwilling, morning, noon, and night, and will find it to be no play, but on the contrary very hard labour
This was said to his pupils, and in this mode only it was that it ever gave any instruction to them, when accident produced an opportunity to give it force.' p. 125.
His advice, to the students of the Academy, throughout his discourses, is strictly consonant with all this.
They must therefore be told again and again, that labour is the only price of solid fame, and that whatever their force of genius may be, there is no easy method of becoming a good Painter."*
If you have great talents, industry will improve them; if you have but moderate abilities, industry will supply their deficiency, Nothing is denied to well-directed labour : nothing is to be obtained • without it.'+
When mentioning the causes of Gainsborough's excellence, his love of the art, and unwearied exertions in it, are what he first dwells upon.
• Of these causes we must state, as the fundamental, the love which he had to his art; to which, indeed, his whole mind appears • to have been devoted, and to which every thing was referred.'‡
He had a habit of continually remarking to those who hap⚫pened to be about him, whatever peculiarity of countenance, whatever accidental combination of figure, or happy effects of light and shadow, occurred in prospects, in the sky, in walking the streets, or in company. If, in his walks, he found a character that he ⚫ liked, and whose attendance was to be obtained, he ordered him + Vol. I, p. 44.
* Discourses, Vol. I. p. 15.
Vol. II. p. 153.
to his house and from the fields he brought into his painting room, stumps of trees, weeds, and animals of various kinds.'*
And again of Michael Angelo,
He was distinguished even from his infancy for his indefatigable diligence; and this was continued through his whole life, till pre• vented by extreme old age. The pocrest of men, as he observed himself, did not labour from necessity, more than he did from ⚫ choice. Indeed, from all the circumstances related of his life, 'he appears not to have had the least conception that his art was to be acquired by any other means than great labour.'t
Reynolds, however, was not one of those who are always prodigiously busy about trifles, who make no distinction between what it is useful to know, and what it is of no use to know; who swallow indiscriminately whatever is presented to them as equally tending to nourish, and lay up pearls and pebbles without any suspicion that they are not all of the same value.
There is nothing in our art which enforces such
⚫ exertion and circumspection, as an attention to the general ef'fect of the whole. It requires much study and much practice; it requires the painter's entire mind; whereas the parts may be finished by nice touches, while his mind is engaged on other matters; he may even hear a play or a novel read without much distur bance. The artist who flatters his own indolence, will continually find himself evading this active exertion, and applying his thoughts to the ease and laziness of highly finishing the parts; producing at last what Cowley calls " laborious effects of idleness."+
• While the student is employing his labour on minute objects of • little consequence, the other is acquiring the art, and perfecting the habit, of seeing nature in an extensive view, in its proper proportions, and its due subordination of parts.'§
I consider general copying as a delusive kind of industry; the Student satisfies himself with the appearance of doing something; he falls into the dangerous habit of imitating without se 'lecting, and of labouring without any determinate object: as it requires no effort of the mind, he sleeps over his work : and those 'powers of invention and composition which ought particularly to be called out, and put in action, lie torpid, and lose their energy ⚫ for want of exercise.'||
These remarks appear to us of very great importance, not only with respect to the initiation of a painter in his art, but with respect to education in general. There is nothing of greater consequence, than that the mind should be employed. A certain number of pages is read, a certain number of lines gotten by rote, and the tutor is satisfied: but the child has done nothing. The eyes, the tongue, the memory
* Vol. II. p. 154. † Vol. II. P 215. Vol. II. P. 66.
Vol. II. p. 67.
Vol. I. p. 32.
have been busy; yet the mind has been unemployed. The passages which we have quoted were written indeed at a late period of the president's life, but upon these principles he had been acting all along.
He thought early for himself; in fact he had himself to educate, and the plan he laid down for his own education was most judicious. He knew that the great business of study is, to form a mind, adapted and adequate to all times and all occasions; to which all nature is then laid open, and which may be said to possess the key of her inexhaustible riches.' Far from spending his time in Italy in indiscriminately copying from the great masters, he copied and sketched in the Vatican such parts of the works of Raffaelle and Michael Angelo as he thought would be most conducive to his future excellence; and he avoided all engagements for copying works of art for the various travellers at that time in Rome.
Whilst they,' (the Cicerones,) says he in a letter to Barry, are endeavouring to prevent the gentlemen from employing the young artist, instead of injuring them, they are, in my opinion, doing them the greatest service.
Whilst I was at Rome I was very little employed by them, and that I always considered as So much time lost: copying those ornamental pictures, which the travelling gentlemen always bring home with them as furniture for their houses, is far from being the most profitable manner of a student's spending his time. Whoever has great views, I wsuld recommend to him, whilst at Rome, rather to live on bread and water, than lose those advantages which he can never hope to enjoy a second time, and which he will find only in the Vatican.' pp. 112–113.
The Capella Sistina is the production of the greatest genius that was ever employed in the arts; it is worth considering by what principles that stupendous greatness of style is produced; and endeavouring to produce something of your own on those principles, will be a more advantageous method of study, than copying the St. Cecilia in the Borghese, or the Herodias of Guido, which may be copied to eternity, without contributing one jot towards making a man a more able painter.
If you neglect visiting the Vatican often, and particularly the Capella Sistina, you will neglect receiving that peculiar advantage which Rome can give above all other cities in the world. In other places you will find casts from the antique, and capital pictures of the great painters, but it is there only that you can form an idea of the dignity of the art, as it is there only that you can see the works of Michael Angelo and Raffaelle. If you should not relish them at first, which may probably be the case, as they have none of those qualities which are captivating at first sight, never cease looking till you feel something like inspiration come