Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

Nickname of Ox.-Academy.-Mechanical execution.

this great master attained, he was so unpromising at first as to receive the nick-name of Ox from his fellow-students. If he had less fire in his compositions than Annibale or Agostino, he surpassed them in grace, grandeur, and sweetness. In religious subjects, particularly, he excelled them both; and, after the manner of his favourite Coreggio, he gave a wonderful grace to his Madonnas. Simplicity and elegance distinguished all his designs; his touch is lively, his expression good, the airs of his heads are graceful, his figures are marked with a fine outline, and his general composition is sublime. His breadth of light and shadow, the simplicity of his colouring, and the solemn effect of that twilight, which seems diffused over his pictures, is suited to the grave and dignified subjects he generally treated. In conjunction with Agostino and Annibale, he laid the foundation of that school, which has been so highly celebrated, and even to this time distinguished by the title of the Academy of the Caracci; and thither all students, who gave hopes of their becoming masters, resorted to be instructed in the true principles of painting. The Caracci taught freely those things that were proportionate to the talents and qualifications of their disciples.

Their academy was sometimes called the eclectic school, which by selecting the beauties, correcting the faults, supplying the deficiencies, and avoiding the extremes of the different styles, attempted to form a perfect system. But as the mechanical part was their only object, they did not perceive that the projected union was incompatible with the leading principle of each master.

It is observed that the manner of all the Caracci is the same; the only difference that can be perceived among them, seems to arise from their diversity of temper and disposition. Annibale had more fire, more boldness and singularity of thought than the others; and his designs were more profound, his expressions more lively,

Annibale.-Agostino.-Pupils.-Guido-Style.

and his execution firmer. His genius was better adapted to poetical and profane subjects than sacred; though when he attempted the latter he generally succeeded. His taste for composition was considerably promoted by his studies at Rome, as appears in the Farnesian Gallery; and though the design is loaded, yet it has so much elegance, that it often pleases even those whose critical judgment prevents them from approving it. His manner shows a mixture of the antique, of nature, and of the manner of Buonaroti. He forsook that of Bologna, and adopted the Roman manner entirely the former was soft and mellow, and the latter more exact, but less delicate in the colouring; so that the pencilling in the last works of Annibale is neither so tender nor so agreeable as in his first. He had an admirable genius for landscape; the forms of his trees are fine, and in all his objects after nature there is a character that distinguishes them strongly.

Few of the pictures of Agostino are to be met with, and it is thought that several of those which he did finish, pass for the works of his brother, Annibale. The happy effect of the school of the Caracci is proved by many artists who were formed in it; among whom were Guido, Dominichino, Albano, Lanfranco, and others.

GUIDO.

Guido showed in youth a rare talent for art; was proud and ambitious of distinction, and aspired to something new and grand. In consequence of a hint thrown out by Annibale, he resolved to adopt a style the very reverse of that of Caravaggio; instead of a concentrated and falling light, he chose one open and brilliant; to the fierce he opposed the tender; to his dusky colours, the clear and distinct; to his low and vulgar forms

Favourite models.-Ideal beauty.

the beautiful, graceful, and select. Beauty, grace, and sweetness were his aim; and he sought them in design, touch, and colouring. He began by making use of white lead, (a colour dreaded by Lodovico,) from the conviction that it was durable, which turned out to be well founded. But it excited the scorn of his fellow-pupils, as if he had presumed to separate himself from the Caracci, and return to the feeble and nerveless manner of the past century. Nor was such remonstrance without effect; he adhered to the principles of his school, but tempered it by the admixture of more tenderness; and, by gradually increasing the latter quality, he reached, in a few years, that style of delicacy and sweetness which it was his object to attain. He had, consequently, two manners; the first, in the opinion of Malvasia, the more pleasing; the second, the more learned. In neither did he lose sight of the facility which conferred a charm on his works; and, above all, he delighted in beauty-more especially of youthful heads. His study of the beautiful was formed on select nature, Raphael, and the antique statues, medals, and gems. The Venus de Medici and Niobe were his favourite models. Nor did he overlook the beauties of Coreggio, Parmegiano, and Veronese. Like the Greeks, he formed an abstract and ideal beauty of his own, which he modified to suit his purpose. In copying from nature, which he occasionally did, he so improved and beautified it as to attract the highest admiration. The same principle he applied to drapery, and the nude. Neither grief, sadness, nor terror impairs the beauty of his figures; he turns them on every side, places them in every attitude, yet they are still beautiful. What variety in his beauty-in the airs of his heads, the style of the hair, the folds of the drapery, the arrangement of the veils and vestments! He shows equal variety in the heads of old men, animating them with bold and expressive

Carelessness and haste.-Dominichino.-The St. Girolamo.

touches, and few lights. Some of his paintings are of inferior merit, not from want of ability, but from carelessness and haste, to supply his losses at play, to which he was much addicted. Yet with all his genius and excellence, it must be confessed, that the constant repetition of sweetness and smiles, however varied, wearies the eye and palls upon the taste. If Caravaggio went to the extreme in coarseness, materialism, and fierceness, he goes to the other in ideality, beauty, and delicacy.

DOMINICHINO.

Dominichino (Domenico Zampieri) seemed at first of a sluggish genius, but was profound, accurate, and diligent. He is correct in design, true in colouring, rich in impasto, and learned in the theory of the art. After some years study in Bologna, he visited Parma, and went to Rome, where Annibale, having completed his instruction, placed him among his assistants. Like Paul Veronese, he introduced beautiful and appropriate architecture. His compositions, attitudes, and expressions are so true to nature, that they tell their own story without the help of an interpreter. Among his most celebrated works are the Flagellation of St. Andrew, the Communion of St. Girolamo, and the Martyrdom of St. Agnes. The St. Girolamo is generally reckoned the best picture in Rome, after Raphael's Transfiguration. An imitation of Coreggio may be detected in his attitudes, but the forms are different. If he excels in oil-colours, he is still greater in fresco. Incredible as it may seem, such works were so vilified and abused by his cotemporaries, that he was thrown out of employment, and on the point of abandoning painting for sculpture. In invention he was not so great as in the other branches of the art. Diffident of his

Detractors.-Albani.-Subjects from Mythology.

own powers, he was in the practice of borrowing from other masters, some not the most eminent, which exposed him to the bitter censure of his rivals, and the imputation of plagiarism. Lanfranco, his chief detractor, made a parade of his own fertility of invention and celerity of execution, contrasted with the slowness and irresolution of his rival. But if Dominichino was an imitator, he was not a servile one; if he was slow in execution, his works have stood the test of time and impartial criticism ; while those of his detractors have fallen to their proper level, his, have proportionably risen in estimation.

ALBANI.

Francesco Albani adopted the same principles, and trod the same path, as his intimate friend Dominichino. They resembled each other in general style and colouring, only the carnations of Albani were deeper, and his colours less affected by his grounds. In originality of invention he is superior to Dominichino; and in representing females and children he surpasses, in the opinion of Mengs, every other painter. He delighted in subjects from the ancient mythology: Venus asleep, Diana in the Bath, Danaë, Galatea and her Sea Nymphs, Europa, &c. He was designated the Anacreon of painting. He occasionally veils his subjects in an ingenious allegory, as in the Four Ovals of the Elements, in the Borghese Palace, which he repeated in the Royal Gallery of Turin. His pictures were frequently of the cabinet size. He was husband of a beautiful wife, and the father of a numerous family, remarkable for their beauty, who were always at hand to furnish him with models. He introduced architecture and landscape, the latter full of verdure, freshness, and serene

« AnteriorContinuar »