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in my mind) so well supported by the above P. xii precept of Michael Angelo : which was first pointed out to me by Dr. Kennedy, a learned antiquarian and connoisseur, of whom I afterwards purchased the translation, from which I have taken several passages to my purpose.
Let us now endeavour to discover what light antiquity throws upon the subject in question.
Egypt first, and afterward Greece, have manifested by their works their great skill in arts and sciences, and among the rest painting, and sculpture, all which are thought to have issued from their great schools of philosophy. Pythagoras, Socrates,and Aristotle, seem to have pointed out the right road in nature for the study of the painters and sculptors of those times (which they in all probability afterwards followed through those nicer paths that their particular professions required them to pursue) as may be reasonably collected from the answers given by Socrates to Aristippus his disciple, and Parrhasius the painter, concerning FITNESS, the first fundamental law in nature with regard to beauty.
I am in some measure saved the trouble of collecting an historical account of these arts among the ancients, by accidentally meeting with a preface to a tract called the Beau Ideal: this treatise *
* Published in 1732, and sold by A. Millar.
was written by Lambert Hermanson Ten Kate, in French, and translated into English by James Christopher le Blon; who in that preface says,
speaking of the Author, “ His superior knowP. xiii ledge that I am now publishing, is the product
of the Analogy of the ancient Greeks; or the true key for finding all harmonious proportions in painting, sculpture, architecture, music, &c. brought home to Greece by Pythagoras. For after this great philosopher had travelled into Phænicia, Egypt and Chaldea, where he conversed with the learned; he returned into Greece about Anno Mundi 3484, before the christian æra 520, and brought with him many excellent discoveries and improvements for the good of his countrymen, among which the Analogy was one of the most considerable and useful.
“After him the Grecians, by the help of this Analogy, began (and not before) to excel other nations in sciences and arts; for whereas before this time they represented their Divinities in plain human figures, the Grecians now began to enter into the Beau Ideal; and Pamphilus, (who flourished A. M. 3641, before the christian æra 363, who taught, that no man could excel in painting without' mathematics) the scholar of Pausius and master of Apelles, was the first who artfully applied the said Analogy to the art of painting; as much about the same time the sculpturers, the architects, &c. began to apply
it to their several arts, without which science, the Grecians had remained as ignorant as their forefathers.
“ They carried on their improvements in P. xiv drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture, &c. till they became the wonders of the world ; especially after the Asiatics and Egyptians (who had formerly been the teachers of the Grecians) had, in process of time and by the havock of war, lost all the excellency in sciences and arts; for which all other nations were afterwards obliged to the Grecians, without being able so much as to imitate them.
- For when the Romans had conquered Greece and Asia, and had brought to Rome the best paintings and the finest artists, we do not find they discovered the great key of knowledge, the Analogy I am now speaking of; but their best performances were conducted by Grecian artists, who it seems cared not to communicate their secret of the Analogy; because either they intended to be necessary at Rome, by keeping the secret among themselves, or else the Romans, who principally affected universal dominion, were not curious enough to search after the secret, not knowing the importance of it, nor understanding that, without it, they could never attain to the excellency of the Grecians : though nevertheless it must be owned that the
Romans used well the proportions, which the Grecians long before had reduced to certain fixed rules according to their ancient Analogy;
and the Romans could arrive at the happy use P.xv. of the proportions, without comprehending the Analogy itself.”
This account agrees with what is constantly observed in Italy, where the Greek, and Roman work, both in medals and statues, are as distinguishable as the characters of the two languages.
As the preface had thus been of service to me, I was in hopes from the title of the book (and the assurance of the translator, that the author had by his great learning discovered the secret of the ancients) to have met with something there that might have assisted, or confirmed the scheme I had in hand; but was much disappointed in finding nothing of that sort, and no explanation, or even after-mention of what at first agreeably alarmed me, the word Analogy. I have given the reader a specimen in his own words, how far the author has discovered this grand secret of the ancients, or great key of knowledge, as the translator calls it.
“ The sublime part that I so much esteem, and of which I have begun to speak, is a real Je ne sçai quoi, or an unaccountable something to most people, and it is the most important part to all the connoisseurs, I shall call it an
harmonious propriety, which is a touching or
The words in this quotation “ It is also an infinite variety of parts," seem at first to have some meaning in them, but it is entirely destroyed by the rest of the paragraph, and all the other pages are filled, according to custom, with descriptions of pictures.
Now, as every one has a right to conjecture