« AnteriorContinuar »
will be proper to defer, till we have spoken of light and shade and colour.
As some of the ancient statues have been of such singular use to me, I shall beg leave to conclude this chapter with an observation or two on them in general.
It is allowed by the most skilful in the imitative arts, that though there are many of the remains of antiquity, that have great excellencies about them ; yet there are not, moderately speaking, above twenty that may be justly called capital. There is one reason, nevertheless, besides the blind veneration that generally is paid to antiquity, for holding even many very imperfect pieces in some degree of estimation: I mean that peculiar taste of elegance which so visibly runs
through them all, down to the most incorrect of their P. 92 basso-relievos: which taste, I am persuaded, my
reader will now conceive to have been entirely owing to the perfect knowledge the ancients must have had of the use of the precise serpentine-line.
But this cause of elegance not having been since sufficiently understood, no wonder such effects should have appeared mysterious, and have drawn mankind into a sort of religious esteem, and even bigotry, to. the works of antiquity.
Nor have there been wanting of artful people, who have made good profit of those whose u nbounded admiration hath run them into enthusiasm. Nay there are, I believe, some who still carry on a comfortable trade in such originals as have been so defaced and maimed by time, that it would be impossible, without a pair of double-ground connoisseur-spectacles, to see whether they have ever been good or bad: they
deal also in cooked-up copies, which they are very apt to put off for originals. And whoever dares be bold enough to detect such impositions, finds him. self immediately branded, and given out as one of low ideas, ignorant of the true sublime, self-conceited, envious, &c.
But as there are a great part of mankind that delight most in what they least understand; for aught I know, the emolument may be equal between the bubler and the bubled: at least this seems to have been Butler's opinion :
Doubtless the pleasure is as great
OF LIGHT AND SHADE,
AND THE MANNER IN WHICH OBJECTS ARE EXPLAINED TO
THE EYB BY THEM.
AND THE MANNER INHA
P.93 ALTHOUGH both this and the next chapter may seem
more particularly relative to the art of painting, than any of the foregoing; yet, as hitherto, I have endeavoured to be understood by every reader, so here also I shall avoid, as much as the subject will permit, speaking of what would only be well conceived by painters.
There is such a subtile variety in the nature of appearances, that probably we shall not be able to gain much ground by this enquiry, unless we exert and apply the full use of every sense, that will convey to us any information concerning them.
So far as we have already gone, the sense of feel. ing, as well as that of seeing, hath been applied to; so that perhaps a man born blind, may, by his better touch that is common to those who have their sight, together with the regular process that has been here given of lines, so feel out the nature of forms, as to make a tolerable judgment of what is beautiful to sight.
Here again our other senses must assist us, not
withstanding in this chapter we shall be more con- ' fined to what is communicated to the eye by rays of light; and though things must now be considered as appearances only; produced and made out merely by P.94 means of lights, shades, and colours.
By the various circumstances of which, every one knows we have represented on the flat surface of the looking-glass, pictures equal to the originals reflected by it. The painter too, by proper dispositions of lights, shades, and colours on his canvass, will raise the like ideas. Even prints, by means of lights and shades alone, will perfectly inform the eye of every shape and distance whatsoever, in which even lines must be considered as narrow parts of shade, a number of them, drawn or engraved neatly side by side, called hatching, serve as shades in prints, and when they are artfully managed, are a kind of pleasing succedaneum to the delicacy of nature's.
Could mezzotinto prints be wrought as accurately as those with the graver, they would come nearest to nature, because they are done without strokes of lines.
I have often thought that a landksip, in the process of this way of representing it, doth a little resemble the first coming on of day. The copper-plate it is done upon, when the artist first takes it into hand, is wrought all over with an edged-tool, so as to make it print one even black, like night: and his whole work after this, is merely introducing the lights into it; which he does by scraping off the rough grain according to his design, artfully smoothing it most where light is most required : but as he proceeds in
P.95 burnishing the lights, and clearing up the shades, he
is obliged to take off frequent impressions to prove the progress of the work, so that each proof appears like the different times of a foggy morning, till one becomes so finished as to be distinct and clear enough to imitate a day-light piece. I have given this description because I think the whole operation, in the simplest manner, shews what lights and shades alone will do.
As light must always be supposed, I need only speak of such privations of it as are called shades or shadows, wherein I shall endeavour to point out and regularly describe a certain order and arrangement in their appearance, in which order we may conceive different kinds of softenings and modulations of the rays of light which are said to fall upon the eye from every object it sees, and to cause those more or less pleasing vibrations of the optic nerves, which serve to inform the mind concerning every different shape or figure that presents itself.
The best light for seeing the shadows of objects truly, is, that which comes in at a common sized window, where the sun doth not shine; I shall therefore speak of their order as seen by this kind of light: and shall take the liberty in the present and following chapter, to consider colours but as variegated shades, which together with common shades, will now be
divided into two general parts or branches, P.96 The first we shall call PRIME TINTS, by which is
meant any colour or colours on the surfaces of objects; and the use we shall make of these different hues will be to consider them as shades to one another. Thus gold is a shade to silver, &c. exclusive of those addi