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Picture of the Dead Man revived by the Bones of the Prophet.
At his head
and colour, to express the gradual recoiling of life upon death. Behind him, in a dark recess, are the bones of the Prophet, the scull of which is marked by a preternatural light. and feet are two slaves, bearers of the body; the ropes still in their hands, by which they have let it down, indicating the act that moment performed: the emotion in the figure at the feet is astonishment and fear, modified by doubt, as if requiring further confirmation of the miracle before him; while in the figure at the head, is that of unqualified, immoveable terror. In the most prominent group above is a soldier, in the act of rushing from the scene. The violent and terrified action of this figure was chosen to illustrate the miracle, by the contrast which it exhibits to that habitual firmness supposed to belong to the military character, showing his emotion to proceed from no mortal cause. The figure grasping the soldier's arm, and pressing forward to look at the body, is expressive of terror, overcome by curiosity. The group behind the soldier is composed of two men of different ages, earnestly listening to the explanation of a priest, who is directing their thoughts to heaven, as the source of the miraculous change. The boy clinging to the old man is too young to comprehend the miracle, but, like children of his age, unconsciously partakes of the general impulse. The group on the right forms an episode, consisting of the wife and daughter of the reviving man. The wife, unable to withstand the conflicting emotions of the past and the present, has fainted; and whatever joy and astonishment may have been excited in the daughter, are wholly absorbed in distress and solicitude for her mother. The young man, with out-stretched arms, actuated by impulse, announces to the wife, by a sudden exclamation, the revival of her husband; the other youth, of a mild and devotional character, is still in the attitude of one conversing-the conversation being
Jacob's Dream.-Uriel in the Sun.-Elijah in the Wilderness. abruptly broken off by his impetuous companion. The sentinels, in the distance, at the entrance of the cavern, mark the depth of the picture, and indicate the alarm which had occasioned this tumultuary burial.
In 1817, Mr. Allston was engaged on Jacob's Dream—“ a subject," he writes, "I have long had in contemplation. It has been often painted before, but I have treated it in a very different manner from any picture I have ever seen; for instead of two or three angels, I have introduced a vast multitude; and instead of a ladder or narrow steps, I have endeavoured to give the idea of unmeasurable flights of steps, with platform above platform, rising and extending into space immeasurable. Whether this conception will please the matter-of-fact critics, I doubt; nay, I am certain that men without imagination will call it stuff! But if I succeed at all, it will be with those whom it will be an honour to please."
Mr. Allston's prize picture, “Uriel in the Sun," is in the collection of the Marquis of Stafford.
The poet-painter now became "homesick," as he says, and on the return of peace, as soon as his engagements permitted, left his English friends.
In 1818, Mr. Allston writes to his friend M'Murtrie, from Boston: 66 The success I have lately met with in England left me but one finished picture to bring with me, Elijah in the Wilderness, and which, had I remained a few weeks longer, I had the prospect of transferring to another proprietor. I have brought, however, several others on the stocks, some of which are consider
bly advanced, particularly Belshazzar's Feast, or the Handwriting on the Wall, sixteen feet by twelve in size, which is, I believe, several feet larger than the Raising the Dead Man. I purpose finishing it here. All the laborious part is over,
Catalogue of pictures.-Angel liberating Peter, &c.
but there still remains some six or eight months' work to do to it."
In a letter to a friend, Mr. Allston had said that it was not his wish to give a catalogue of all his pictures. He was afterwards prevailed on to give the following brief notice of a part of his works :-"I will mention only a few of the principal which I painted during my visit to England:-The Dead Man restored to life by the bones of Elisha. The Angel liberating Peter from Prison-this picture was painted for Sir George Beaumont, the figures larger than life, and is now in a church at As.by de la Zouch. Jacob's Dream, in the possession of the earl of Egremont-there are many figures in this picture, which I have always considered one of my happiest efforts. Elijah in the Desertthis I brought to America, but it has gone back, having been purchased here by Mr. Labouchere, M.P. The Angel Uriel in the Sun, in possession of the marquis of Stafford-this is a colossal foreshortened figure, that, if standing upright, would be fourteen feet high, but being foreshortened occupies a space but of nine feet; the directors of the British Gallery presented me with a hundred and fifty guineas as a token of their approbation of Uriel. Since my return to America, I have painted a number of pictures, but chiefly small ones. These pictures being pretty well known here, I shall mention only a few of the larger ones: Jeremiah dictating his prophecy to Baruch; Saul and the Witch of Endor; and Spalatro's Vision of the Bloody Hand."
'The exhibition of Allston's Feast of Belshazzar," says a late writer, "has established an era in the history of painting. The point of time selected is that when Daniel is interpreting the mystic writing, which the astrologers, soothsayers, and Chaldeans could not read. In the foreground the chief personages are the King, Queen, Daniel, and four of the wisest magicians of Baby
Description of the Feast of Belshazzar.
lon. In their rear is a group of Jewish men and women, and beyond extend the banqueting-tables, which are sumptuously embellished with gold and silver vessels; and on the sides are seated numerous guests of both sexes. In the distance, on an elevated platform, is a colossal golden statue of a Persian god, which is dazzlingly refulgent, from the intense flood of light that descends upon it from numerous brilliant lamps that are suspended around a circular opening in the ceiling, directly over the divinity. A host of idolators are assembled round the statue in various attitudes.
"Above the royal party is a spacious gallery thronged with spectators. The numerous massive columns, and other architectural appendages in the distance, are of richly variegated and polished marble: in the royal saloon they are of porphyry, but in an unfinished state. The spacious hall is illuminated by the supernatural beams which emanate from the inscription on the wall; while the artificial light in the distance tinges with a mellow roseate radiance, like that of the glowing west on a summer's eve, the colonnades and entablatures of the vast area appropriated to the sacred image. There are more than sixty figures introduced, all elaborately executed.
"Near the centre of the group in the foreground stands the inspired Daniel, draped in a plain tunic of a sombre colour, over which is gracefully disposed an ample and appropriate mantle of dark blue. His face is turned towards Belshazzar, and with his left arm elevated, he is pointing towards the inscription, 'over against the candlestick, on the wall of the king's palace.' In his broad and massive forehead, projecting brows, and soul-penet ting eyes, as well as in his commanding attitude, we behold the undaunted prophet of the living God. Calmly he announces the startling interpretation of those blazing words, which when the
Belshazzar.—The queen.-Groups of soothsayers.
king saw, written by the fingers of a man's hand, his countenance was changed and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosened and his knees smote together.'
"The first sentence, God hath numbered thy kingdom and finished it!' had fallen so like the crashing shock of a thunderbolt upon the ears of the horror-stricken monarch, that he has involuntarily thrown himself back upon his throne, in a posture of despair, and in his agony, he clenched with his right hand the side of his regal chair with such violent energy, that the fingers appear cramped and almost disjointed; as those of a man expiring in the pangs of a horrible death. As only the outlines of the head of the king remain, its contour, and the features are barely discernable; but the attitude of the whole figure, and the withdrawal of the right foot, as is evident from the folds of the drapery, and the extension of the left, with the toes contracted in that convulsive exertion which the hands so emphatically evince, give almost as complete a conception of the mental sufferings of the monarch, as could have been given if. the face had been finished. The royal robe is of cloth of gold, and a crimson mantle with a broad green border is thrown over one side of the throne, which is supported by golden elephants standing on a base of verd-antique.
"On the left of the throne stands the queen, the mother of Belshazzar, gorgeously arrayed and flashing with jewels, while in her countenance is portrayed the conflicting emotions aroused by the fearful words of the prophet, while her attitude is expressive of a haughty struggle to receive the intelligence with becoming fortitude.
"On the extreme left, under the inscription on the wall, is a group of four soothsayers. One, who presents nearly a full view of his face, is looking at the chief among them, as if endeavouring