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Royal Academy in 1772, M. E. ought to have stated, that he was one of five or six (M. de Loutherbourg was another) who came in company to England, to On put themselves in fortune's way. comparison with the productions of the English school, the public saw no great superiority in the works of these enterprising foreigners; and only M. de L. obtained an establishment. Several who have made the same attempt since, have complained of meeting with a reception equally indifferent.
Our author accuses Mr. KIRBY of vanity in accepting the President's chair after Mr. Hayman had been removed by the refractory artists: we know, that Mr. K. accepted that office in the most peaceful spirit. Mr. E. should have hinted that one of the designs in Mr. Kirby's Perspective, has usually been attributed to his Majesty, then Prince of Wales.
lection of the Rev. Dr. Ascough, and is
After having practiced some years in London, he went to Italy, and was at Rome at the same time with several English artists," who afterwards became the ornaments of their country.
In Italy he continued the study of por trait painting, though not with the same success that attended Sir Joshua Reynolds, for he was then unacquainted with the peculiar bias of his talents, and might probably have remained long ignorant of his latent powers, but for the following accident.
While Wilson was at Venice, he painted a small landscape, which being seen by Zuecarelli, that artist was so much struck with the merit of the piece, that he strongly urged Wilson to pursue that branch of the art, which advice Wilson followed, and became oue of the first landscape painters in Europe. His studies in landscape must have been atwith rapid success, for he had some pupils in that line of art while at Rome, and his works were so much esteemed, that Mengs au-painted his portrait, for which Wilson in return painted a landscape.
As a favourable specimen of our thor's manner, we select his account of RICHARD WILSON, R. A.
This gentleman, it is believed, was born in Montgomeryshire, where his father, a clergyman, possessed a small benefice; but was afterwards collated to the living of Mould in Flintshire, while the son was very young. His connections were highly respectable, being maternally related to the late lord chancellor Camden, who was pleased to acknowledge him as his cousin.
At the time of life when it was necessary to fix on some profession, young Wilson was sent to London, and placed under the tuition of T. Wright, a portrait-painter of very der abilities. Wilson, however, acquired so much knowledge from his master, as to become a painter of portraits equal to most of his cotemporaries. He must also have acquired a degree of rank in his profession, for about the year 1749, he painted a large picture of his present majesty, when prince of Wales, with his brother, the late duke of York, which was done for Dr. Hayter, bishop of Norwich, at that time tutor to the princes. He also painted another portrait of the same august personage, from which there is a mezzotinto print by Faber. The original picture is announced as in the col
Thomas Wright, an artist, of whom Mr. Walpole takes not the least notice, nor has the author ever met with any mention of him, except what can be found in the inscriptions under three prints, by Gerard Vander Gutch, engraved after cartoons of Guido, in the Collection of T.Wright, Painter, Covent-garden."
It is not known at what time be returned to England, but he was in London in 1758, and resided over the north arcade of the piazza, Covent-garden, at which time he had gained great celebrity as a landscape painter. To the first exhibition of 1760, he sent his picture of Niobe, which confirmed his repu tation. It was afterwards bought by William duke of Cumberland; and is now in the possession of his royal highness the duke of Gloucester. In 1765, he exhibited (with other pictures) a View of Rome, from the Villa Madama, a capital performance, which was purchased by the late marquis of Tavistock.
Though he had acquired great fame, yet he did not find that constant employment, This neglect which his abilities deserved. might probably result from his own conduct, for it must be confessed, that Mr. Wilson was not very prudentially attentive to his interest; and though a man of strong sense, and superior education to most of the artists of his time, he certainly did not possess that suavity of manners, which distinguished many of his cotemporaries. On this account his connections and employment insensibly diminished, and left him, in the latter par of his life, in comfortless infirmity.
When the Royal Academy was instituted, he was chosen one of the founders, and, after the death of Mr. Hayman, made the
* This portrait, which is one of Mengs" best productions, was bought of Wilson, by the late Sir Watkin Williams Wynne, and is now in the collection of the present baronet.
librarian, which situation he retained, until his decayed health compelled him to retire to his brother's in Wales, where he died in May 1782.
Of this gentleman's talents as an artist, it is not easy to speak with precision, for before we can form a just estimate of his abilities he must be considered in two capacities; first as a portrait painter, and secondly as a painter of landscape.
As a portrait painter, (which was his first pursuit) his works are not sufficiently known, nor are they marked by any traits which distinguish them from the general manner, which then prevailed among his cotemporaries in that line of art. No decided character can therefore be affixed to them. It may, however, be asserted, that he drew a head equal to any of the portait painters of his time. A specimen of which may be seen by a drawing, now in the possession of* J. Richards, Esq. which is the portrait of Admiral Smith, and which was drawn before Wilson went abroad. It is executed in black and white chalk, as large as life, upon brown French paper, and is treated in a bold masterly manner; but this is not a work
which can authorize the critic to consider
him as superior to the other portrait painters
of his day.
of them he has represented the general character of Italy with more decided precision, than can be found in the works of his predecessors.
In his pictures, the waving line of mountains, which bound the distance in every point of view; the dreary and inhospitable plains, rendered solemnly interesting, by the mouldering fragments of temples, tombs, and aqueducts, are all indicated in a masterly manner, exhibiting that local character, which, though it be familiar to the inhabitants, cannot but be considered as peculiarly grand and classical.
Mr. E. proceeds to vindicate Wilson from some severe criticisms of Sir Joshua Reynolds, on his first picture of Niobe (as is presumed) -- but observes, that, his English views were too much Italianized; and he frequently repeated his pictures with variations." This prac tice, while it improves facility, renders a decisive opinion on a subject treated by this artist, very hazardous; to be correct, the very picture should be present to justify the critic. Wilson was so fond of shewn instances of which, it was said, a slovenly foreground, that, we have been he gave that air to his pictures, after, having laboured them with even solicitous attention. Sir Joshua Reynolds, we know, did the same, in parts of his pictures.
But while we are unable to define his merits as a portrait painter, from the want of such specimens as would direct our judgment, we are by no means deficient in proofs of his powers in landscape painting, in which line his talents suddenly broke forth, and shoneno out with superior lustre.
Though there is reason to suspect, that Wilson had painted some landscapes before he went abroad, yet it is certain, that he did not commence a regular course in that study, until after he had been some time in Italy when he began, however, he did not waste his time, nor subjugate his powers to the unimproving drudgery of copying the pictures of the old masters, but contented himself with making his observations upon their works, and afterwards confirming those observations by his studies from nature.
In consequence of this prudent method of cultivating his talents, he wisely avoided any imitation of the pictures of the Italian mas ters, who preceded him, and at once struck out a manner, both of execution and design, which was classical, grand, and original.
Of the originality of his style, we are convinced, by inspecting his works, for in most
One of the founders, and secretary to the Royal Academy.
+ There is a print engraved by J. S. Miller, from a picture painted by R. Wilson, a view of Dover, without date, but evidently exeSuted before he went abroad.
Sundry other articles are composed with less diligence: we might quote those of Gainsborough, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Barry, and others: but, having extended this article somewhat too far, already, we have room for very few additions. We must, nevertheless, transcribe the sentence of the public on such works of Sir Joshua as were brought to the hammer, at the sale of the Shakespeare Gallery.
The first column denotes the prices paid to Sir Joshua by Mr. Boydell: the second, the prices for which they sold by auction.
Macbeth and the Witches'
in the Cave
£1000 Death of Cardinal Beaufort
500 guineas) Puck or Robin Good Fellow
L. s. d.
378 0 0
Thus it appears, that what the painter intended for a grand composition, sold for. one third of its cost; and what was merely a jeu d'esprit, sold for double its original price! The different dimensions of the pictures might contribute to this; as large pictures require large rooms.
Mr. E. is mistaken, when he says, Joshua never applied any mark or signature to his portraits, except to the wholelength of Mrs. Siddons in the character of the tragic muse, upon which he wrote his name on the hem of her garment." We have noticed it on the fringes of the draperies, in other portraits.
Under the article ROMNEY we meet with the account of the preference given to him before Mr. Mortimer, by the Society for Improvement of Arts, &c.: which vote was set aside, and the premium ultimately adjudged to Mortimer. Mortimer had the generosity to say, in our hearing, that Romney deserved the prize; not because his picture was the best; but because it was painted under such circumstances, (in a narrow, poking garret) that the painter could never see the true effect of the whole of his composition it was therefore a wonderful performance."
Mr. Edwards was always reckoned attentive to little things (for which Mortimer did not spare him in his facetia); nevertheless, he has committed several inaccuracies in spelling the names of persons and places, with other minutia; as Pieré, p. 40, for Pierre; Benazee, p. 225, for Benazech; Port Culis for Port-cullis, Vander Gutch for Vander Gutcht, &c.
These Memoirs, it will be recollected, relate to professors in one branch of art only, the Painters: we hope that Mr. E. has preserved what facts came to his knowledge concerning artists in other branches. Sculpture and engraving have been almost created during the interval of which his work is the history; and the patronage, bestowed or withheld, as fashion dictated, on various employments, as chasing, &c. correctly narrated, would furnish a very amusing and instructive performance.
We repeat, that we have no volume of the same description as this, which we can place in competition with it. There are a few, and very few, old artists remaining who could improve it, by notes and additions; (Mr. Paul Sandby could, were he so inclined,) but we must accept it as it is and have only to regret that the author did not live to complete his design, but that we are unhappily called to report on Mr. Edwards's labours as a posthumous publication.
The Substance of a Speech which ought to have been spoken in a certain Assembly, on the Motion of the Rt. Hon. Henry Grattan, May 28, 1808, on the Roman Catholic Petition. With Notes, &c. 8vo. pp. 95. Price 3s. J. Stockdale, London,
WE must review this pamphlet doubtfully, because we are not sure that the speech it contains ought to have been spoken: nor that restrictions on conscience ought to form a part of the political code of a state; nor that it is bad policy to endeavour to improve the education of all ranks, especially of public persons who are to teach others. We doubt, whether the money paid for instruction may not be as properly spent at home as sent abroad, and whether the mind, that never has been reconciled to the grosser fopperies of continental catholicism, is not likely, in time, to be weaned from the disposition to vindicate or adopt them. We doubt whether the Irish catholics are such fools as to prefer the jurisdiction of Buo. naparte to that of George III, and whether his conduct towards the head of the Romish Church be calculated to procure him partisans among an enlightened people. We doubt, whether a better race of priests would not ensure by degrees a better race of people; and whether a milder regimen be not more likely to have some influence in producing a better race of priests. We doubt, whether the lay catholics of Ireland have so great faith and so little understanding, as to wish to see their spiritual guides in possession of temporal power; and lastly, we doubt whether there will be another Pope of Rome, properly speaking; and, of course, whether the well-instructed Irish will not have occasion to look out for an effective head of the church, notwithstanding any communion they may affect to hold with a nominal bishop, of whom they will hear little and know less.
We may be allowed, also on the other side of the question to doubt, whether it would not have been more politic in the Catholics of Ireland, as a party, to have defrayed the whole expence of the education of their priests, from among themselves, as the Dissenters and Methodists, &c. in England: and to study the good of their own Irish Church individually.
The Minor Minstrel; or, Poetical Pieces,
We like the introductory address of this little volume.
Past are the days of Minstrels old,
And predatory inroads plann❜d.
The sky is clear, and warm the day:
The Spring's first violets breathe and blow,
This oversight being reprimanded, we shall do the author justice by quoting a piece which derives merit from accuracy of description: he assures us, that "the scenery is strictly local," and we believe it is. We must, however, confess our disappointment, that this is restricted to a mere description of the morning: the
the customs of the place, would have furnished subjects for a pleasing poem.
How lovely is the morn of May!
The sea how smooth, the sky how gay;
Your Bard, dear Youths! with hand of fire whole of the day, with illustrations of
Nor shun the mind with maxims stor'd;
Whenever Poetry proposes to associate with Friendship, Truth, virtuous Love, and Religion, it may depend on a favourable attention from the Panorama. Nevertheless, we see no reason why the moral poet should be less careful in polishing his verses, or in accuracy of expression, than those who write only for vitiated taste. We are, therefore, under the necessity of reminding Mr. H. that
clustering nuts" are never seen at the same time with "spring's first violets," and "vernal primroses,' as he seems to imply in the opening lines of his Cottager's Tale.
Of long prosperity in love;
On such a morning, who could sleep?
O! how delightful 'twas to view
But here's the ring, companions gay!
So neighbours come !-We'll breakfast now,
With lightsome heart, and free goodwill-
But hark! the fishers' hasty tread! The nets are on the pebbles spread; The May-poles on the beach are seen : The mack'rel shoals are coming in; Soon, soon shall all be mirth and love, From Chick'rell Sands, to Chiswell Cove! "When poverty comes in at the door, love flies out at the window," says the English proverb and Mr. H. is not so far gone in ideal pastoralism, as to fancy that his nymphs and swains, being British flesh and blood, can live without victuals and drink. Good hearty farmers in all parts of our island may be very comfortable people; but then they must work for it ; and while Mr. H. recommends industry to young men and maidens, we shall recommend his poesy.
I have a cottage in the glen,
Beneath a pear-tree's ample shade,
No liveried slaves to wait on thee;
If thou wilt share this cot with me.
We cannot live on love alone;
And Competence shall be our own.
But without Love we live in vain ;
And cause her artless heart to break
'Tis cruel Love that weds the maid
While in the neighb'ring fields 1 toff;
Around your ale and cider deal?
The heap of ruddy apples raise.?; su to
And bid young vegetation thrive ?
Shall borrow half their charms from
O, come, and share my cot with web si How a poet could endure the construction-to say nothing of the hackneyed thought-in the last stanza but one, we cannot conceive.-Before we leave Mr. H's. Minstrel, we present our readers with one more extract, entitled The Blackbird.
Hark! hark! how sweet yon Blackbird sings
And stay, and breakfast here with me
And for my sake the plund'rer spare.
Charm'd me, in boyhood's idle days!
Remind me of their much-lov'd lays.
Have much annoy'd my bosom's ease.