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Berchem.-Choice of nature.-Contest with Both.

Deschamps states that Andrew died in Italy, and that John returned to Utrecht, where he practised his art, and employed Polembourg in painting the figures.

BERCHEM.

Nicolas Berchem, (or Berghem,) was born at Haerlem, in 1624, and was taught the first principles of painting by his father, Peter Van Haerlem, an artist of no great note, who painted still-life. Nicolas, however, was afterwards successively the disciple of Grebber, Van Goyen, Mojaart, Jan Wils, and Weeninx. Berchem was distinguished for his landscapes and cattle. He possessed a clearness and strength of judgment, and a wonderful power and ease in expressing his ideas; and though his subjects were of the lower kind, yet his choice of nature was judicious, and he gave to every subject as much of beauty as it would admit. The leafing of his trees is exquisitely and freely touched; his skies are clear; and his clouds float lightly, as if supported by air. The distinguishing characters of his pictures are the breadth and just distribution of the lights; the grandeur of his masses of light and shadow; a natural ease and simplicity in the attitudes of his figures, expressing their several characters; the just gradations of his distances; the brilliancy and harmony, as well as the transparency, of his colouring; the correctness and true perspective of his design; and the elegance of his composition. One of his best pictures, was a view of a mountainous country, enriched with a variety of cattle, and painted for the chief-magistrate of Dort. At the same time the burgomaster bespoke a landscape of John Both, and agreed to pay eight hundred guilders to each artist; but to excite an emulation he prom

Gottfried Mind.-The Raphael of cats.

ised to pay a considerable premium to the one whose performance should be adjudged the best. When they were finished, there appeared such an equality of merit in them, that the generous magistrate presented them with an equal sum above that he had agreed on. He died in 1689.

GOTTFRIED MIND.

This celebrated cat painter was born at Berne, in Switzerland, in 1768. We are not informed how his attention was first directed to the study and delineation of cats, and occasionally of bears, but he became devoted to them with that earnestness and zeal that always ensures success. He was termed the Raphael of cats. No painter before him had ever succeeded in representing with so much nature and spirit, the mingled humility and fierceness, suavity and cunning, which the appearance of this animal presents, or the grace of its various postures in action or repose. Kittens he particularly delighted to represent. He varied, almost to infinity, their fine attitudes, while at play around the mother, and represented their gambols with inimitable effect. Each of his cats, too, had an individual character and expression, and was, in fact, a portrait which seemed animated; the very fur appeared so soft and silky as to tempt a caressing stroke from the beholder.

In time, the merits of Mind's performances came to be so well understood, that travellers made it a point to visit him, and obtain, if possible, his drawings, which even sovereigns sought for, and amateurs treasured carefully in their portfolios.

His attachment was unbounded to the living animals he so much delighted to represent. Mind and his cats were inseparable.

Attachment to living animals.—Miniature figures.

Minetta, his favourite, was always near him when at work, and he 'seemed to carry on a sort of conversation with her by gestures and by words. Sometimes his cat occupied his lap, while two or three kittens were perched on each shoulder, or reposed in the hollow formed at the back of his neck, while sitting in a stooping posture at his table. He would remain for hours in this position without stirring, for fear of disturbing the beloved companions of his solitude, whose complacent purring seemed to him an ample compensation for the inconvenience. Not at any time a goodhumoured man, he was particularly surly if disturbed by visitors when thus situated.

Symptoms of madness having been manifested among the cats of Berne, in the year 1809, the magistrates gave orders for their destruction. Mind exhibited the greatest distress when he heard of this cruel mandate. He cherished his dear Minetta in secret; but his sorrow for the death of eight hundred cats, immolated to the public safety, was inexpressible, nor was he ever completely consoled. To soothe his regret, and as if to reproduce the victims with his pencil, he began to paint cats with increased diligence; and he amused himself during the long evenings of the ensuing winter by cutting chestnuts into miniature figures of cats and bears. These trifles were executed with such astonishing address, that, notwithstanding his dexterity, he was unable to supply the demand for them. His death took place at Berne, in 1814.

Simon Vouet.-Founder of French school.

French School.

SIMON VOUET.

SIMON VOUET is generally regarded as the founder of the French school. Many and conflicting are the opinions of his professional merit; and among his detractors, his countrymen are foremost and loudest. Felibien, one of his countrymen, and one of the most temperate, after enumerating the important works he painted, both in France and Italy, and the distinguished honours he received in both countries, mentions that Charles I. of England was so pleased with his pictures that he expressed a strong wish to have him in England. He continues, "Il ignorait la perspective, et ne savait ni l'union et l'amitié des couleurs, ni l'entente des ombres et des lumières. Ce qu'il y a de plus estimer dans les tableaux est la beauté et la fraîcheur de son pinceau." Lairesse, on the other hand, so learned in his principles and practice of colouring, says that Vouet was celebrated for his profound knowledge of the science of reflexes, in which he has not only surpassed all the French, but the Italians also. When director of the Academy of St. Luke at Rome, Vouet was much employed in that city, where many of his works may be found, particularly in the Barberini palace. His pictures, indeed, have always been esteemed in Italy; nor did that esteem cease after his death, for he was the only foreigner whom Armidei has placed among the celebrated painters of the seventeenth century, whose lives and portraits he published in quarto, at Rome, in 1731.

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Le Sieur.-Premature death.-Le Brun.

LE SIEUR.

Le Sieur exhibits first-rate genius in composition, design, and expression; but, in the generality of his pictures, his colouring is hard and crude, his chiaroscuro defective, and the general effect without keeping, or contrast. The few finished works which this great artist has left-such as the Preaching of St. Paul, and the Descent from the Cross, afford, in the opinion of M. Burtin, convincing proofs that he was in a fair way of becoming as great in colour as he was in design. Had not a premature death arrested his career before he had an opportunity of visiting Italy, he would, in all probability, have rivalled the first masters of the art. Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorraine, though claimed by the French, are more properly classed under the Roman school, where they studied, practised, and passed the best part of their lives. Indeed Poussin was so disgusted with the bad taste of his countrymen, who could not appreciate his works, that he left France and settled in Italy.

CHARLES LE BRUN.

Charles Le Brun, of Scottish descent, likewise the pupil of Vouet, was the most eminent and popular painter of his time. In the higher qualities of the art, his works will not bear a comparison with Le Sieur. Yet he had great talent, a powerful and inventive genius, was intimately acquainted with all the branches of decorative art, and well versed in history and poetry. His manners were polished and agreeable. He wrote two treatises: one on physiognomy, and the other on the passions. He died at Paris, in 1690.

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