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sharing with Allen the honour of supplying the necessities of the young artist. The result of this conversation was, that when West went to his Florence banker to draw his last few pounds, that person, unfolding a letter, informed him that he was instructed to give him unlimited credit.
From Florence West proceeded to Bologna, and from thence to Venice, remaining some time at each city, in order to study the works of art which it contained. He then returned to Rome; and, according to the counsel he had received from Mengs, painted two historical pictures, which he exhibited. They were received with great applause. Having now, as he conceived, accomplished every object for which he had been desirous of visiting Italy, he had no other thought than to return to America, when a letter arrived from his father, recommending to him, in the Philadelphia phraseology of that day, first to go for a short time home, meaning to England. Although his heart at this time seems to have been still in America, this proposal was not disagreeable to West; and he prepared immediately for his journey to the land of his fathers. Leaving Rome, he proceeded to Parma, where they elected him a member of the academy, a similar honour having been previously bestowed upon him by the academies of Florence and Bologna. He then passed through France, and arrived in London on the 20th of August, 1763. Here he unexpectedly found his old American friends, Allen, Hamilton, and Smith, and was, through their means, and some letters he had brought with him from Italy, speedily made known to Sir Joshua Reynolds and Wilson, the then highest names in English art. He soon after, not so much by the advice of his friends as in a well-founded dependance upon his own talents, took apartments in Bedford-street, Covent Garden, and commenced the practice of his profession. His sagacity had by this time discovered
that London afforded a somewhat more promising field for a painter than Philadelphia; and he thought no more of returning to America. One of the first things he did, in order to make himself generally known, was to paint a picture (on one of the same subjects which he had chosen at Rome), and to send it to the exhibition which then took place annually in Spring Gardens. It appeared here, accordingly, in 1764, and attracted considerable notice. He was some time after invited to dinner by Dr. Drummond, the archbishop of York, who was so much pleased both with his conversation and the proofs of genius which he conceived his paintings to exhibit,
that he contrived to have him introduced to George III. The royal favour, which he immediately acquired, placed the artist's rising fortunes upon a sure foundation, and leaves us nothing more to relate of his struggles to escape from obscurity to distinction. The self-taught boy had now won his way to the highest professional employment, and was soon numbered among the best-known painters of the age. It was not the patronage of royalty, however, to which he was really indebted for this elevation. That patronage his own merits ehiefly had acquired for him; for all that the happy accidents by which he was assisted could have done for him, would have been merely nothing, had not his real talents and acquirements enabled him to take advantage of the favours of fortune. But with these merits, had he never been noticed at court, he would undoubtedly have found, in time, a still more munificent patron in the public. The chief benefit (if it was a benefit) which he derived from the favour of the king, was, that it secured to him at once, and from the first, that independence to which he probably would not otherwise have attained, except through the exertions of years. On the other hand, had he been obliged to trust merely to the general appreciation of his merits, his success,
if not quite so sudden, might have been more permanent; for he lived, as is well known, to find, that to rest his reliance, as he did, on the protection of a single individual, however exalted, was, after all, but to place himself at the mercy of the most common accidents. After having been chiefly employed, for more than thirty years of his life, in executing commissions for his majesty, during which time he completed the eight pictures illustrative of the reign of Edward the Third, in St. George's Hall, at Windsor, and the twenty-eight (out of thirty-six which were designed) on subjects from the old and New Testaments, in the Royal Chapel, he suddenly received an intimation, on the king's illness in 1809, that the works on which he had been engaged were ordered to be suspended; and he was never called upon to resume his pencil. It was immediately after this that he painted his celebrated picture of Christ Healing the Sick, one of the noblest he ever pro.. duced, which he first exhibited to the public, and afterward sold to the British Institution for three thousand guineas, a much larger sum than he had received for any of the pieces he had executed at the royal command. He afterward painted many other pictures on similar subjects; continuing to study and work with unabated industry, almost to the very close of his long life. He was always an early riser; and the way in which he spent his day was nearly uniform. The morning hours before breakfast, and generally all the evening after dinner, were given to the study of the subject he was preparing to paint; while, during the intermediate part of the day, from ten, namely, till four, he was employed, without intermission, at his easel. All this labour and devotion to his art, besides the improved skill and excellence which practice gives, enabled West to produce an unusually great number of works. His pictures in oil amount to about four hundred, many of them of extraordinary size, and
of his age.
containing numerous figures. In 1791, on the death of Sir Joshua
Reynolds, West was appointed President of the Royal Academy, which had been established in 1768. This honourable office (with the exception of one year) he held till his death, on the 11th of March, 1820, in the eighty-second year
One serious disadvantage, however, which West brought upon himself, by the almost exclusive attention he had given to painting from his earliest years, was, that he remained to the end of his life a somewhat illiterate man. This neglect and ignorance of things not immediately appertaining to the department of their own favourite study, has been, perhaps, as frequently exemplified by painters as by any other class of self-educated men. The celebrated Claude Lorraine could scarcely write his name. Hogarth, although by the assistance of a friend he appeared on one occasion as an author, affected to despise literature, and, indeed, every species of mental cultivation, except the knowledge of the art of painting ; nor was it much exaggeration when he professed himself to have little or no acquaintance with anything else. It would be easy to mention other instances of the same kind. They ought to serve as warnings to the individual who, with an ardent desire for knowledge, has no one to guide him in its acquisition, of a risk to which he is peculiarly exposed. Some of the greatest artists, with capacities that might have compassed any attainments in literature or philosophy, must be held, notwithstanding all they did, to have neglected a duty they owed to themselves, or at least to have followed a lamentably mistaken course, in disregarding that general cultivation, without which excellence in any department of art loses its most elevated rank as a liberal accomplishment.
Sir Thomas Lawrence; Canova; Bewick.
Thomas LAWRENCE was born in 1769, being the youngest of a family of sixteen children. His father had been bred an attorney, but had afterward become an excise officer, and, when his son Thomas was born, was an innkeeper at Bristol; from which city, however, being unsuccessful in his business, he removed a few years subsequent to this event, and established himself in the same occupation at Devizes. He appears to have been a strange character, as, indeed, this outline of his history would itself lead us to suppose. His ruling passion, it seems, was a love of poetry; and this he carried so far as not only to spend much of his own time in writing verses, but often to insist that his guests also should postpone all other affairs to listen to his effusions. How he found this sort of treatment to answer in attracting or attaching customers to his house, may be easily conceived. All who did not prefer such intellectual banquets to more substantial fare, gradually deserted this rhy. ming innkeeper, by whom, of course, many matters of considerable, though merely terrestrial importance, were apt to be neglected while he was em. ployed in the service of the muses, The consequence was, that in six or seven years this second speculation also failed, and old Lawrence was once more ready for a change of residence, if not of profession.
Long before this, however, his son Thomas had become famous in the neighbourhood as a little prodigy. He was a very beautiful boy, and had