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they lose in the imagination some of the beauty, which they really have, by the idea of their being flayed; nevertheless, by what has already been shewn P.57 both of them and the bones, the human frame hath more of its parts composed of serpentine-lines than any other object in nature; which is a proof both of its superior beauty to all others, and, at the same time, that its beauty proceeds from those lines : for although they may be required sometimes to be bulging in their twists, as in the thick swelling muscles of the Hercules, yet elegance and greatness of taste is still preserved; but when these lines lose so much of their twists as to become almost straight, all elegance of taste vanishes.
Thus fig. * was also taken from nature, and drawn in the same position, but treated in a more dry, stiff, and what the painters call, sticky manner, than the nature of flesh is ever capable of appearing in, unless when its moisture is dryed away: it must be allowed, that the parts of this figure are of as right dimensions, and as truly situated, as in the former; it wants only the true twist of the lines to give it taste.
To prove this further, and to put the mean effect of these plain or unvaried lines in a stronger light, see fig. t, where, by the uniform, unvaried shapes and situation of the muscles, without so much as a waving-line in them, it becomes so wooden a form, that he that can fashion the leg of a joint-stool may carve this figure as well as the best sculptor. In the same manner, divest one of the best antique statues of all
its serpentine winding parts, and it becomes from an P.58 exquisite piece of art, a figure of such ordinary lines
and unvaried contents, that a common stone-mason or carpenter, with the help of his rule, calipers, and compasses, might carve out an exact imitation of it : and were it not for these lines a turner, in his lathe, might turn a much finer neck than that of the Grecian Venus, as according to the common notion of a beautiful neck it would be more truly round. For the same reason, legs much swollen with disease, are as easy to imitate as a post, having lost their drawing, as the painters call it; that is, having their serpentine-lines all effaced, by the skin's being equally puffed up, as figure *.
If in comparing these three figures one with another, the reader, notwithstanding the prejudice his imagination may have conceived against them, as anatomical figures, has been enabled only to perceive that one of them is not so disagreeable as the others; he will easily be led to see further, that this tendency to beauty in one, is not owing to any greater degree of exactness in the proportions of its parts, but merely to the more pleasing turns and intertwistings of the lines, which compose its external form; for in all the three figures the same proportions have been observed, and, on that account; they have all an equal claim to beauty.
And if he pursues this anatomical enquiry but a very little further, just to form a true idea of the ele.
gant use that is made of the skin and fat beneath it, P.59 to conceal from the eye all that is hard and disagree
* Fig. 63.
able, and at the same time to preserve to it whatever
Thus, in all other parts of the body, as well as these, wherever, for the sake of the necessary motion of the parts, with proper strength and agility, the insertions of the muscles are too hard and sudden, their swellings too bold, or the hollows between them too deep, for their out-lines to be beautiful ; nature most judiciously softens these hardnesses, and plumps up these vacancies with a proper supply of fat, and covers the whole with the soft, smooth, springy, and, in delicate life, almost transparent skin, which conforming itself to the external shape of all the parts béneath, expresses to the eye the idea of its contents with the utmost delicacy of beauty and grace.
The skin, therefore, thus tenderly embracing, and gently conforming itself to the varied shapes of every one of the outward muscles of the body, softened underneath by the fat, wliere, otherwise, the same hard lines and furrows would appear, as we find come on with age in the face, and with labour, in the limbs, is evidently a shell-like surface (to keep up the idea I set P.60 out with) formed with the utmost delicacy in nature; and therefore the most proper subject of the study of every one, who desires to imitate the works of nature,
as a master should do, or to judge of the performances
Suppose in the next place, such a wire was in the same manner twisted round a living well-shaped leg and thigh, or those of a fine statue; when you take it
off you will find no such sharp indentures, nor any of P. 61 those regular engralings (as the heralds express it)
which displeased the eye before. On the contrary, you will see how gradually the changes in its shape are produced ; how imperceptibly the different curvatures run into each other, and how easily the eye glides along the varied wavings of its sweep. To enforce this still further, if a line was to be drawn by a
pencil exactly where these wires have been supposed
And if the reader will follow in his imagination the most exquisite turns of the chissel in the hands of à master, when he is putting the finishing touches to a statue; he will soon be led to understand what it is P.62 the real judges expect from the hand of such a master, which the Italians call, the little more, Il poco piu, and which in reality distinguishes the original mástèr-pieces at Rome from even the best copies of them. .. An example or two'will sufficiently explain what is here meant ; for as these exquisite turns are to be found in some degree of beauty or other, all over the whole surface of the body and limbs: we may by taking any one part of a fine figure (though so small