Anecdotes of Painting in England: With Some Account of the Principal Artists - Vol. 2

By Horace Walpole | Go to book overview
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a better style of draperies, which by the help of Vanaken became common to and indeed the same in the works of almost all our painters; and Leoni, by publishing and imitating Palladio, disencumbered architecture from some of the weight with which it had been overloaded. Kent, Lord Burlington, and Lord Pembroke, though the two first were no foes to heavy ornaments, restored every other grace to that imposing science, and left the art in possession of all its rights. Yet still Mr. Adam and Sir William Chambers were wanting to give it perfect delicacy. The reign was not closed, when Sir Joshua Reynolds ransomed portrait-painting from insipidity, and would have excelled the greatest masters in that branch, 1 if his colouring were as lasting as his taste and imagination are inexhaustible ; but I mean not to speak of living masters, and must therefore omit some of the ornaments of that reign. Those I shall first recapitulate were not the most meritorious.


born at Stockholm, came over in 1700, and lived many years with Dahl, whose manner he imitated and retained. He drew the three eldest princesses, daughters of the king, in the robes they wore at the coronation.


painted all sorts of fowl and game. He drew a piece with a hare and birds and his own portrait in a hat. He died in 1744.

"Strong objections were certainly often made to Sir Joshua's process or mode of colouring; but perhaps the best answer to all these is the following anecdote. One of the critics who passed for a great patron of the art was complaining strongly to a judicious friend of Sir Joshua's 'flying colours,' and expressing a great regret at the circumstance, as it prevented him from sitting to Sir J. for his portrait. To all this his friend calmly observed to him, that he should reflect that any painter who merely wished to make his colours stand, had only to purchase them at any colour shop; but that it should be remembered that every picture by Sir Joshua was an experiment in art, made by an ingenious man—and that the art was advanced by such experiments, even where they failed. When he was once pressed to abandon lake and carmine, and such fading colours, as it was his practice to use in colouring the flesh, he looked upon his hand and said, 'I can see no vermilion in this!'"

" It must be observed, however, that he did use vermilion in all his later works, finding by experience the ill effects of more evanescent colours in his early productions. Northcote.—D.


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Anecdotes of Painting in England: With Some Account of the Principal Artists - Vol. 2
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