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The publications of my prefs have been appropriated to Gratitude and Friendship, not to Flattery. Your Grace's fingular Encouragement of Arts, a virtue inherited with others from your noble Father, intitles you to this Addrefs; and allow me to fay, my Lord, it is a proof of your Judgment and Tafte, that in your countenance of talents there is but one inftance of partiality-I mean, your Favour to
most faithful and obedient
HIS last volume has been long written, and even printed. The publication, * though a debt to the purchasers of the preceding volumes, was delayed from motives of tenderness. The author, who could not refolve, like most biographers, to difpenfe univerfal panegyric, efpecially on many incompetent artists, was ftill unwilling to utter even gentle cenfures, which might wound the affections, or offend the prejudices of those related to the perfons whom truth forbad him to commend beyond their merits. He hopes, that as his opinion is no standard, it will pafs for mistaken judgment with such as fhall be displeased with his criticisms. If his encomiums seem too lavish to others, the public will at least know that they are bestowed fincerely. He would not have hesitated to publish his remarks fooner, if he had not been averse to exaggeration.
The work is carried as far as the author intended to go, though he is fenfible he could continue it with more fatisfaction to himself, as
* It was not published till October 9, 1780, though printed H 1771.
the arts, at least those of painting and architecture, are emerging from the wretched ftate in which they lay at the acceffion of George the firft. To architecture, taste and vigour were given by lord Burlington and KentThey have fucceffors worthy of the tone they gave; if, as refinement generally verges to extreme contrarieties, Kent's ponderofity does. not degenerate into filligraine-But the modern Pantheon, uniting grandeur and lightness,. fimplicity and ornament, feems to have marked the medium, where taste muft ftop. The architect who fhall endeavour to refine on Mr.. Wyat, will perhaps give date to the age of embroidery. Virgil, Longinus, and Vitruvius afford no rules, no examples, of fcattering finery.
This delicate redundance of ornament grow-ing into our architecture might perhaps be checked, if our artists would study the fublimedreams of Piranefi, who seems to have conceived vifions of Rome beyond what it boasted: even in the meridian of its fplendor.. Savage as Salvator Rofa, fierce as Michael Angelo, and exuberant as Rubens, he has imagined fcenes that would ftartle geometry, and exhaust the Indies to realize. He piles palaces on bridges, and: temples on palaces, and scales.
Heaven with mountains of edifices. Yet what tafte in his boldness! what grandeur in his wildness! what labour and thought both in his rashness and details! Architecture, indeed, has in a manner two fexes; its masculine dignity can only exert its muscles in public works and at public expence its fofter beauties come better within the compass of private refidence and enjoyment.
How painting has rekindled from its embers, the works of many living artists demonftrate. The prints after the works of fir Jo shua Reynolds have spread his fame to Italy, where they have not at present a single painter that can pretend to rival an imagination fo fertile, that the attitudes of his portraits are as * various as thofe of history. In what age
* Sir J. Reynolds has been accused of plagiarism for having borrowed attitudes from ancient mafters. Not only candour but criticifin muft deny the force of the charge. When a single posture is imitated from an hiftoric picture and applied to a portrait in a different drefs and with new attributes, This is not plagiarifin, but quotation: and a quotation from a great author, with a novel application of the fenfe, has always been allowed to be an inftance of parts and taste; and may have more merit than the original. When the fons of Jacob impo fed on their father by a falfe coat of Joseph, saying, “Know now whether This be thy fon's coat or "not," they only asked a deceitful question-but that interrogation became wit, when Richard
were paternal defpair and the horrors of death pronounced with more expreffive accents than in his picture of count Ugolino? When was infantine loveliness, or embrio-paffions, touched with sweeter truth than in his portraits of mifs Price and the baby Jupiter? What franknefs of nature in Mr. Gainsborough's landfcapes; which may entitle them to rank in the nobleft collections! What genuine humour in. Zoffanii's comic scenes; which do not, like the works of Dutch and Flemish painters, invite laughter to divert itself with the naftieft inde-. licacy of boors!
Such topics would please a pen that delights to do juftice to its country-but the author has forbidden himself to treat of living profeffors. Pofterity appreciates impartially the works of the dead. To pofterity he leaves the continuation of these volumes; and recommends to the
Richard ift. on the pope reclaiming a bishop whom the king had taken prisoner in battle, fent him the prelate's coat of mail, and in the words of fcripture asked his holiness, whether THAT was the coat of his fon or not? Is not there humour and fatire in fir Jofhua's reducing Holbein's fwaggering and coloffal haughtiness of Henry 8th. to the boyish jollity of master Crewe ?-One prophecy I will venture to make; fir Joshua is not a plagiary, but will beget a thousand. The exuberance of his invention will be the grammar of future painters of portrait.