« PreviousContinue »
in its place with so much exactness and taste, that he needed not to mix his opposing colours, and so destroy what may be called the flower and freshness of them. He often loaded his lights with so great a quantity of colour (to make the brightest reflection), that in some instances he may be said to model and not to paint. In his famous picture representing the virgin at the foot of the cross on Mount Calvary, the principal light darts upon her through a break of the clouds, while all the other figures stand obscured by shade. In the resurrection of Lazarus there is introduced a long stream of light on the principal objects. It is by this means that his compositions appear to strikingly divided into different groups. TINTORET, too, acquired great reputation, as well as briskness, with which he enlivened his figures, by his masterly manner of placing his lights and shadows. TINTORET, as well as Poussin, modelled their figures, and used to illumine them by a bright lamp or candle light, by which means they were able greatly to heighten their lights and shadows. Among painters of our day none have carried this opposition to higher perfection than Mr. Russel, in his picture of Cupid presenting the night-blowing Cereus to Hymen *. The torch
* This picture is painted for Dr. THORNTON's New Illustration of the. Sexual Sysłem of LINNÆUS, and was in the last Exhibition, VOL. IV.
and altar of Hymen reflect warm light on the figures, whilst the back-ground scenery has the cold and blue light of the moon partly obscured by clouds. This is also very finely exhibited in some sublime paintings by PETHER. He has represented an irruption of Mount Vesuvius during a full moon, each mingling their different lights upon the heaven and on the waters. In another picture we have a village on fire with a moonlight scenery; and in a third, a moon-light with the warm emanation from a forge of a blacksmith's shop. That these paintings owe much of their effect from the principle we are endeavouring to prove by a variety of arguments, we think no one can deny, and the principle itself' is generally known and allowed by painters themselves.
OPPOSITION OF CHARACTER.
OPPOSITION of character is the foul of historical painting, of poetry, and of the drama. From the school of Athens by RAPHAEL we shall select one out of the many excellent groups with which it abounds, to illustrate this observation. Four boys are attending on a mathematician, who, itooping to the ground with his compasses in his hand, is giving them the demonstration of a theorem. One of the boys, recollecting within himself, keeps back, and his eyes are drawn off from his master in the profoundest revery; another, by the briskness of his attitude and immediate attention, discovers a greater quickness of apprehension ; while a third, who has already seized the conclusion, is endeavouring to turn master, and to drive it into a fourth, who stands motionless, with a staring countenance, and has so much marked stupidity in his looks, as to thew' he will never be able to understand any thing about it.
Poussin, in his famous picture of a sleeping Venus, has introduced a Satyr, which is intended to heighten the effect of contrast.
“ How can they say that nature
" has nothing made in vain; « why then beneath the water
“ do hideous rocks remain ?
“ No eyes these rocks discover,
" that lurk beneath the deep, " to watch the wand'ring lover,
66 and leave the maid to weep."
All melancholy lying,
thus wail'd the for her dear; repaid each blaft with sighing,
each billow with a tear.
when o'er the white wave stooping,
his floating corpse she spied; then, like a lily, drooping,
The bow'd her head, and died.
The very strong emotions that this song excites, arises not only from the sweet harmony and fimplicity of the verse, and delicacy of the sentiment, but also from the art of the composer of the music in contrasting the parts: the first being in three sharps, and the following recitative in a minor key, full of the finest melody, with several contrasting notes of discord. The very powerful effect of the Allegro and Il Penseroso of Milton depends upon contrast, and some sublime passages in HANDEL's Meffiah arises from discords, as also from some sudden bursts of harmony in the chorus, preceded by a single voice.