« 前へ次へ »
The Upas in Marybone-lane.
An Actor's Meditations,
How well I remember, when old Drury-lane
circuii I run,
Thanks, provident hags! while my
Disuse will never moulder :
And one from either shoulder.
Its philharmonic clapper.
By bruisers called the napper.
“ Descend from heaven, Urania,"
The King—not Rule Britannia.
Of pass-supported Homer:
Were, certes, a misnomer.
The serving maid her pitcher,
This general bewitcher.
In regular confusion ;
The key-note of conclusion.
On patrons bent on giving.
Picks up a decent living !
BRITISH GALLERIES OF ART.-NO. IV.
Windsor Castle. The name of this truly "royal residence," (the only abode the British crown possesses at all worthy of that title,) and the host of high and ennobling associations that connect themselves with it, call upon me, as in the case of Hampton Court, to depart once more from "the even tenor of my way,” and speak of something else than the objects of Art which it contains. As these latter, however, are better entitled to our exclusive notice than those described in the last
paper, we will attend to them first; and then, if we have room left, we may take a glance at the splendours, natural and artificial, by which they are surrounded.
In describing the most remarkable among the paintings that enrich the walls of Windsor Castle, I shall pursue the order in which they are shewn to casual visitors ; as otherwise, not having numbers' attached to them, it might be difficult to avoid confusing them together. The first room into which the visitor is introduced contains one of Vandyke's choicest works. It is a whole-length portrait of Charles the First's Queen. She is dressed in a plain robe of white satin, and is represented in the act of passing onward. The effect of this picture is most admirable. It is like seeing the actual presence of the person, reflected in a mirror, as she passes through the room where you are standing. You are half tempted to turn round and look behind you, to see if she is not there, with her pale, melancholy, and somewhat proud, but highly intellectual face. I have never seen a portrait of Vandyke's that pleases me better than this. In the same room are two of Zucarelli's large landscapes. They are clever pictures; but, though there is a likeness to nature in them, there is no verisimilitude. The parts are not unnatural, but the whole is. There is no decision of hand, and no consistency. On the contrary, there is a fluttery manner, both in the drawing and colouring--but particularly in the latter
- which takes away all repose of effect. This artist was, in fact, not capable of feeling, much less of reflecting, the sentiment of a particular
He could give the details with tolerable truth ; but there is something in nature besides detail, and it was this that escaped him.
The next room is the Queen's Ball-room. Here we find two pictures worthy of notice; but it is not exactly on account of their merit, though they are not without that. They are a Judith with the head of Holofernes, by Guido; and a Magdalen, by Sir Peter Lely. The Judith is exquisitely painted, as a female head; and there is more force and truth of colouring in it than Guido usually gave ; but there is no more of the peculiar expression appropriate to the occasion than if that occasion had not been chosen. Guido seemed absolutely incapable of conceiving of the female face and form under any other than a graceful and attractive aspect. His imagination could not or would not entertain the idea of it except as something sweet, seraphic, bland, divine. To give it a tragic expression was in some sort to vulgarize, at all events to unidealize it. His mind was, to those of some of his great contemporaries (his masters, for instance, the Caracci), what the Eolian harp is to the organ: the strongest tones it was capable of
VOL. VI. NO. XXVIII.
emitting were those expressive of a mild and tender sorrow. I shall have to notice, in their places, two other of his works in this collection, which are striking examples of what I mean. I should suspect, from the nature of his works, that Guido had something of the fine gentleman in his character, mixed with much of the sentimentalist. He had created for himself an ideal of the female character, which he probably thought it an impertinence in Nature to interfere with. He made his Lucretias stab themselves with “a grace beyond the reach,” not "of Art," but of Nature. The picture now before us was probably painted at the time when he was taking Caravaggio's style of colouring for his model. It consists of two distinct departments; one of bright light, and the other of deep shadow : and, with his usual somewhat fastidious taste, he has thrown all the obnoxious part of his subject into the latter. The other picture that I have to notice in this room is a Magdalen, by Lely. If this is not one of the Court Beauties in the appropriate character of a Magdalen, it is very like one. She seems disposed to ogle the skull that is placed beside her, as if she were thinking of its admiration ; and she seems more likely to be prayed to than to pray! You see, even the copying of Court Beauties all one's life, is not without its disadvantages !
In the next room, the Queen's Drawing-room, we meet with two or three admirable pictures. Here is Holbein's capital portrait of Lord Surrey. There he stands, over the door, with his legs boldly planted wide apart, not crossed mincingly-his arms a-kimbo-his hat on one side-in crimson-doublet, trunkhose, and all. Nothing was ever done in its way more spirited than this portrait. It looks as little of the fine gentleman as can be, and much of the lord. There is an air about it mixed up of the court and the camp, but without a touch of the club-house. I should admire to see such a realm” as this walk into White's Subscription-room, without taking his hat off, and plant himself pleasantly before the fire! How my Lord A-- would quiz his queer dress, and Sir B. C. turn pale at his plebeian gait, and the Hon. Mr. D—- decamp at once without waiting to enquire who he was !
To the left of the above admirable work, hangs an excellent specimen of Caravaggio's peculiar style, both of colouring and design--the three apostles, Peter, James, and John. There is infinite force and truth in all the heads. They are full of that natural expression which he never sought to heighten, and never departed from ; and the effect of the chiaro-scuro is exceedingly fine. Here is also Vandyke's celebrated allegorical portrait of Lady Digby; and a curious family-piece, containing portraits of an obscure Dutch painter and his family, which I mention, because the portrait of the painter himself has the remarkable merit of being more like Kean, the actor, than any portrait of him that we have.
In the next room (the Queen's State Bed-chamber, of all places !) we have the Beauties of Charles the Second's court. The Countess de Grammone and the Countess of Rochester are the most lovely and striking among them ; but the prints from most of these portraits are too well known for the originals to need farther description. There is also one very curious picture in this room well worthy of notice. It represents John Lacy, the celebrated comedian of Charles the Second's
peer of the
time, in three different characters; in each of which, as in Harlow's capital picture of Matthews in five characters, the likeness to the others is perfectly preserved, while the expression is entirely different. This very clever picture is painted by an artist little known, named Wright; but it would puzzle some of our most celebrated moderns to rival it.
Through the Queen's Dressing-room, which follows, the visitor may pass as quickly as he pleases; for it is filled with portraits of Queen Charlotte's family, executed as badly as they can well be, but better than such unsightly-looking personages deserved, if looks are the criterion of merit—which, in fact, they are, as far as it regards the portrait-painter. But from the windows of this room the visitor will do well to look forth upon one of the finest sights the eye can behold. I should think the prospect from this point of view is unrivalled in its kind, for grandeur, richness, and variety. I shall perhaps attempt to convey a more distinct notion of this splendid scene hereafter; for to profess to give an account of the pictures belonging to Windsor Castle, and to leave out this,—which is worth them all, fine as they are, -would be to sacrifice the spirit of my task to the letter of it.
We now reach the King's Dressing-room, which is one of the richest in the palace, in cabinet works. First let me mention the Two Misers, by Quintin Matsys, which, if it had been painted by Raffaelle, would have added even to his fame, so intense is the expression of it. In fact, the general style is not unlike his; and it offers another proof, if any were needed, that high intellect has no predilection for either station or climate. Strength of motive is every thing : if the Blacksmith of Antwerp could design and execute a picture like this to gain one mistress, he only needed the stimulus of another to make him colour like Titian. Here are two portraits by Holbein, of particular value and interest; one of Erasmus,--staid, calm, contemplative, wise, and good; the other of Martin Luther,-bold, designing, fiery, headstrong, and with that somewhat vulgar look which reformers of all kinds seem destined to possess, and to pride themselves on. These are both most characteristic and valuable portraits. As contrasts to these realities, the spectator may turn with delight to two charming little gems by Carlo Dolce--a Salvator Mundi, and a Magdalen, each looking of another world, and calling up the thoughts thither. Besides the above, this room contains one of those capital sketches of Rubens which evince his genius even more strikingly and unequivocally than his most finished works. Every touch is instinct with mind and expression; and there being no colour, in looking at it we seem to think that colour would be a kind of impertinence : just as, in those of his works where the colouring is the predominant merit, we look for nothing else. The only other pictures I shall notice in this room are two of John Brueghel's curiously unnatural yet interesting works. This artist seems to have looked at nature through the wrong end of a telescope, which throws every thing to a seeming distance, and diminishes it in an extraordinary degree, yet at the same time communicates a vividness of light, and a clearness and precision of outline, that the unassisted vision does not perceive. Brueghel's pictures look like scenes in a fairy drama, seen by a fairy light, in which all the objects, whether animate or inanimate, seem to be imitations of our nature made by skilful hands, but hands that have no necessary sympathy