Page images

other disciple kneeling, is magnificently conceived. The other figures are some in theatrical, some in constrained attitudes.

"Since it is clear by the testimony of Scripture, apostolical tradition, and the unanimous consent of the Fathers, that grace is conferred by holy ordination, which is accomplished by words and outward signs; no one ought to doubt that ordination is truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of holy church," &c. (Council of Trent, Session XXIII., A. D. 1563, chap. 3.)

Matrimony.-A dove is descending upon an aged bishop, who bends over a couple kneeling before him, in the act of joining their hands. The bridegroom holds a wand tipped with white flowers, and expresses in his countenance a joyous affection, subdued with heedful reverence; whilst the bride, youthful, lovely, and retiring, shows a conformity of sentiment and affection. The head of the bishop is highly intellectual, impressive, and paternal. To the left, a mother with her child, and another matron, are looking on, as if viewing the present realisation in others, of an event which is to them a matter of past experience. On the right, a young man is addressing a female, with an expression that denotes anticipation of a similar union. The two figures behind the bride, of an aged female and an old man, are strongly indicative of the interested relationship of the parties. This is a capital picture—I had almost said, the very best of the series-Baptism and Extreme Unction following in successive order of preference. The grouping is excellent; colouring warm and glowing; and the whole painting in high preservation.

"If any shall say, that matrimony is not truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of the Gospel, ordained by Christ himself; but that it is a human invention in the Church, and does not confer grace; let him be accursed." (Council of Trent, Matrimony, Canon I.)

John baptizing Christ.-The action of the two principal figures, of a female kneeling beside, and another behind Christ, is beautifully expressive. The water, showing the shadows of portions of the figures, is exquisitely transparent. The action of the other figures, though greatly diversified, is rather theatrical. I must, however, except from this disparagement of attitudes, an aged man in the centre foreground, with one hand uplifted towards a dark mass of clouds, which appears suddenly to have covered a portion of a serenely blue sky,—as if drawing attention to the descending dove, and the voice from heaven-"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

A few general remarks, which could not be introduced in the notices of these pictures, may be acceptable. Notwithstanding the masterly drawing, the magnificent conceptions of his subject in each of these pictures; the careful execution; the freshness, brightness, and clearness of the colouring in every part (except in portions of the Eucharist, and the background of Confirmation); there are sometimes a coldness and uniformity in the heads, imputable to the practice of this master in drawing them after antique models, which considerably weaken the interest. The harmony, too, of the picture, is often broken by the glaring blue and red draperies; which, in the magnificent landscapes of Baptism, Ordination, and John baptizing Christ, have certainly an unpleasing effect. All this may be said, and yet with perfect truth it can be added, that such a series of paintings has, perhaps, never been equalled, certainly not surpassed, by any master of any age. The Cartoons of Raffaele, being painted in a peculiar style, for a particular purpose, (as designs for tapestry,) cannot, with justice to these extraordinary works, be compared with finished paintings. The six Sacraments, and John baptizing Christ, are all of one size; on canvas; four feet, by about three feet six inches.

NICOLO POUSSIN, a celebrated French historical painter, was born at Andily, in Normandy, in 1594; and received his first instructions in the art from Ferdinand Elle, a portrait painter; and subsequently, for a short period, he studied under L'Allemant. But, eager to obtain better instruction than these artists were able to give him, he went to Rome in 1622, and applied himself most diligently to the study of works by the best masters in painting, and of ancient sculpture. He copied several of the works of Titian, which for a time improved his style of colouring; and also attentively observed the excellencies of Raffaele and Domenichino; from whose works, assisted by his taste for the antique, he imbibed that correct style of design, and that truth of expression, which animate and adorn all his compositions. The first subjects he painted were bacchanalians, satyrs, and nymphs, which he introduced in his landscapes, the subjects being principally taken from Ovid; and he enriched his designs with elegant buildings, which he designed after those magnificent edifices which are in Rome and its neighbourhood. But afterwards, his subjects were sometimes taken from sacred history, and often from the Greek and Roman; in which he always observed the costume strictly, with an equal degree of judgment and learning. He now gave himself up to an enthusiastic admiration of Raffaele and the antique, altered his tone of colour entirely, and lost all that warmth in his carnations, which appeared in his first period, when studying the works of Titian. His invention was as happy as it was lively, and he designed with spirit and correctness; though he was not always successful in the disposition of his figures, which too often were distributed in the same line, from not having sufficiently studied chiaroscuro. His style is based in some degree on a confusion of the capabilities of sculpture and painting: statuesque forms, fine drawing, and the composition of a bas-relief clothed in unpleasing colour, though not wholly satisfactory to the eye, still combine to produce considerable effect; an effect, however, of a limited kind, analogous to that resulting from the classical correctness of Racine's tragedies. Besides the two original sets of the Seven Sacraments, Poussin painted some other capital historical pictures; of which may be mentioned, "Herod's Cruelty;" "The Last Supper," at St. Germain's; "The Annunciation," and "The Flight into Egypt," at Naples; and "Germanicus dying." Poussin confined himself to easel pictures, for which he had a perpetual demand;

and his method was to fix the price expected for each on the back of the picture, which was readily paid. He died in 1665, aged seventy-one.

Returning into the grand corridor, a door on the right conducts us into a suite of apartments, called the


each of which is lighted by two lofty windows, from which there is a view of Woolsthorpe, and a portion of the same landscape as was observed in the green room. The Sitting Room, though of unusual shape, is a very agreeable apartment. Its length is 29 feet, and its breadth, to the extreme verge of the circular side, is 22 feet. On this side of the room are folding doors, with japanned panels of genuine Chinese workmanship; foliage, flowers, peacocks, and other birds, being bronzed on a black ground, in the slight relief peculiar to the Chinese. The character of the room is preserved in the paper, in the covers of the chairs, couches, &c., which are adorned with flowers worked in coloured silks, on a bright yellow ground. A cabinet with marble slab contains various articles of china. A table panelled in the ledges is decorated with flowers painted on china. A side table has a semicircular slab of alabaster, inlaid with flowers and medallions. On this slab are Chinese figures, in ivory, &c., of genuine Chinese workmanship; and an apparently original Chinese tea or coffee pot, with tap: this latter is a great curiosity. There are two semicircular paintings in water colours, of considerable merit, which were probably used formerly as fans. The ceiling of this room is coved, and encircled by a light cornice of leaves, partly gilded, which has a very pleasing effect.

It was in this room that the portrait of the late Duchess,

by Sanders, was painted; though the artist has certainly, in his background, (with a licence allowable, I suppose, in his art,) given a larger and more vivid representation of the exterior of the Elizabeth Saloon, than can be observed from any point in this room.



of this suite of apartments is 20 feet 6 inches, by 17 feet; and contains a wardrobe with folding doors, of similar workmanship to those mentioned in the sitting room. great degree of appropriate elegance is given to this room by the decorations of the walls. They are covered with panels of silk, on which are painted in brilliant colours, Chinese figures and landscapes. The framework of the panels, or the alternate compartments, is formed of stripes of fluted silk. The ceiling and cornice of the room are similar to the last.


is of the same size with the bed-room, with similar ceiling and cornice, but not gilded; and similar folding doors, of Chinese character and workmanship. It contains a canopied couch, with pink silk furniture. Over the fire-place is the private print by Cousins, from the painting by Sanders, of the late Duchess. There are also two heads; one of "Mrs. Boughton," and the other of "Mrs. Dashwood;" and a pair of semicircular paintings in water colours, companions to those noticed in the sitting room.

The gallery at the end of the grand corridor, which I

« PreviousContinue »