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Or blend in beauteous tints the colour'd mass, 5
Smit with the love of Sister-Arts we came,
How oft' in pleasing tasks we wear the day,
Ver. 13. Smit with the love] These fine lines are read with additional pleasure, when we reflect that they are a true representation of the manner in which Pope and his friend were accustomed to pass their time at the period they were written. Of the proficiency made by Pope, and of his character of his own attempts at painting, some account is given in his Life, prefixed to this edition.
Ver. 13. Sister-Arts] To the poets that practised and understood painting, the names of Dante, of Flatman, of Butler, of Dyer, may be added that of our author; a portrait of whose painting is in the possession of Lord Mansfield: a head of Betterton. Warton.
There is also another portrait by Pope in the possession of his Grace the Duke of Norfolk, at Arundel castle. Bowles.
What flatt'ring scenes our wand'ring fancy
Rome's pompous glories rising to our thought!
With thee, on Raphael's Monument I mourn,
Ver. 25. Together o'er the Alps] An excursion together to Italy was the frequent subject of conversation between them, and would in all probability have been carried into effect, had not the infirm constitution of Pope prevented him from undertaking the journey.
Ver. 36. Match Raphael's grace] If the character of Raffaelle were to be given in one word, this was the only one suited to the occasion. This is the characteristic in which he stands unrivalled. The works of Giulio Romano, and his other pupils, please the imagination and gratify the judgment, but the inimitable grace of Raphael touches the heart.
Ver. 36. With thy lov'd Guido's air,] The poet proposes to compare the grace of Raffaelle with the air of Guido. In the former Raffaelle stands pre-eminent; in the latter Guido is allowed to excel. The figures of Raffaelle, although chastely designed, and correctly drawn, appear occasionally short and heavy; those of Guido are beautifully proportioned, and abound with every variety of attitude; but in point of sensibility and grace, the inferiority of Guido is appa
Carracci's strength, Correggio's softer line, Paulo's free stroke, and Titian's warmth divine.
rent. It may also be observed, that in the instances where the works of these great masters do not fully satisfy our conceptions, it arises from causes precisely the reverse of each other. In Raffaelle from a simplicity of style which seems to fall short of the subject; whilst in Guido we too often perceive an excess of art, which is much more discordant to our feelings. We readily admit of whatever indicates excellence, though it may not attain perfection; but we reject whatever exceeds the limits of truth and Affectation is the bane of excellence in all the arts. Ver. 37. Carracci's strength.] “Give me a good outline, and bricks in the middle,” said Annibale Carracci. Agostino has left an elegant sonnet on painting. Warton.
If Annibale Carracci ever made use of the expression above attributed to him, which is at least doubtful, it confers no honour on him as an artist. He would indeed have had more reason on his side in asserting the direct contrary, and saying "give me correct light and shadow, and let the outline take care of itself." Outline is only a ladder; when the building is finished it is taken
By Carracci's strength, Pope probably meant to refer to Annibale only; the most distinguished of the three for his knowledge of the human figure. In elegance of style he was rivalled by his brother Agostino; and was excelled in feeling and taste by his cousin Lodovico. Together, they formed what has been called the eclectic School, by which they proposed to unite the excellencies of all preceding masters; an idea which Agostino has endeavoured to express in the sonnet above referred to.
Ver. 37. Correggio's softer line,] The works of Correggio are well characterized by this epithet; the excellence of his chiaroscuro, and just approximation of light and shadow, softening and dispensing with that outline which is often too strongly expressed in the works of many eminent painters. It has been said that the line of Correggio is incorrect; but they who have made this assertion have probably not sufficiently attended to the circumstances
How finish'd with illustrious toil appears!
This small, well-polish'd Gem, the work of years!
under which his works were produced and the situation in which they are placed.
Some figures monstrous and mis-shap'd appear,
Essay on Criticism. Correggio was the first who succeeded in what is called foreshortening (scorcio), and in giving form, proportion, and effect to figures exhibited in the interior of ceilings and cupolas; an art which his great contemporaries Raffaelle and Michelagnolo could never fully attain. "I was astonished," says Agostino Caracci, in a letter to his brother Annibale, on first viewing the works of Correggio at Parma, "to see such an immense work so well represented, di sotto in su, with such rigorous truth, but at the same time with such judgment, such grace, and such colouring, as to appear real life." Correggio designed for the understanding as well as the eye, and attempted by the parts which were seen to give an idea of those not seen. His figures were not measured by the rule and line, but by the projection and depth of a painter's eye, and they can only be proposed as models of art, to those who know with what precautions and exceptions they are to be used.
Ver. 38. Paulo's free stroke and Titian's warmth divine] The free stroke of Paolo Veronese, applies to the facility of his colouring, in which he so eminently excelled; the warmth divine of Titian, to the glow and effect which characterize all his productions, and which compelled Michelagnolo, on seeing his picture of Danae, to acknowledge, that "if he had been as accomplished in the principles of design, as he was in the endowments of nature, in giving to his productions the animation of life, he would have attained the perfection of the art."
Dr. Warton informs us, that Sir Joshua Reynolds told him, he did not think these artists exactly characterized by Pope. To give the peculiar character of an artist by a single epithet, is not an easy task, and notwithstanding so high an authority, it would
Yet still how faint by precept is exprest
not perhaps be easy to accomplish it with greater accuracy in an equal compass.
Ver. 40. the work of years!] Fresnoy employed above twenty years in finishing his poem.
Ver. 43. Strike in the sketch,] Gray, in his verses to Mr. Bentley, has beautifully expressed and described the person and design: "See, in their course, each transitory thought,
Fix'd by his touch a lasting essence take;
Ver. 59. Thus Churchill's race] Churchill's race were the four beautiful daughters of John the great Duke of Marlborough: