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from the hands of Holbein, Rubens, and Vandyck (one of them admirable for history-painting, and the other two for portraits), but of many Flemish masters, and those not inconsiderable, though for design not equal 5 to the Italians. And of these latter also, we are not unfurnished with some pieces of Raphael, Titian, Correggio, Michael Angelo, and others.
But to return to my own undertaking of this translation, I freely own that I thought myself uncapable of 10 performing it, either to their satisfaction, or my own
credit. Not but that I understood the original Latin,
of art; and therefore thought that many of those per15 sons who put this honourable task on me were more
able to perform it themselves, as undoubtedly they
encouraged to attempt it, that I might not be wanting 20 in what I could, to satisfy the desires of so many gentle
men who were willing to give the world this useful
their advice in all things; so that the reader may u 25 assure himself of a tolerable translation.
Not elegant, for I proposed not that to myself, but familiar, clear, v and instructive. In any of which parts if I have failed, the fault lies wholly-at my door. In this one particular
only, I must beg the reader's pardon. The prose trans30 lation of this poem is not free from poetical expressions,
and I dare not promise that some of them are not
was not to be remedied in the second, viz. the trans35 lation. And I may confidently say, that whoever had
attempted it must have fallen into the same inconvenience, or a much greater, that of a false version.
When I undertook this work, I was already engaged in the translation of Virgil, from whom I have borrowed only two months; and am now returning to that which 5 I I ought to understand better. In the meantime I beg the reader's pardon, for entertaining him so long with myself: 'tis an usual part of ill manners in all authors, and almost in all mankind, to trouble others with their business; and I was so sensible of it beforehand, that 10 I had not now committed it, unless some concernments of the reader's had been interwoven with my own. But I know not, while I am atoning for one error, if I am not falling into another; for I have been impor. tuned to say something farther of this art; and to make 15 some observations on it, in relation to the likeness and agreement which it has with poetry, its sister. But before I proceed, it will not be amiss if I copy from Bellori (a most ingenious author yet living) some part of his Idea of a Painter, which cannot be unpleasing, at 20 least to such who are conversant in the philosophy of Plato. And, to avoid tediousness, I will not translate the whole discourse, but take and leave as I find occasion.
God Almighty, in the fabric of the Universe, first 25 contemplated himself, and reflected on his own excellencies; from which he drew and constituted those first forms which are called ideas.
So that every species which was afterwards expressed was produced from that first idea, forming that wonderful contexture 30 of all created beings. But the celestial bodies above the moon being incorruptible, and not subject to change, remained for ever fair, and in perpetual order; on the contrary, all things which are sublunary are subject to change, to deformity, and to decay. And though 35,
Nature always intends a consummate beauty in her
productions, yet through the inequality of the matter the forms are altered; and in particular, human beauty suffers alteration for the worse, as we see to our morti5 fication, in the deformities and disproportions which are in us. For which reason, the artful painter and the sculptor, imitating the Divine Maker, form to themselves, as well as they are able, a model of the superior
beauties; and reflecting on them, endeavour to correct T 10 and amend the common nature, and to represent it as
it was at first created, without fault, either in colour, or in lineament.
"This idea, which we may call the goddess of painting and of sculpture, descends upon the marble and the 15 cloth, and becomes the original of those arts; and being
measured by the compass of the intellect, is itself the measure of the performing hand; and being animated by the imagination, infuses life into the image. The idea
of the painter and the sculptor is undoubtedly that per20 fect and excellent example of the mind, by imitation of
which imagined form all things are represented which fall under human sight : such is the definition which is made by Cicero in his book of the Orator to Brutus :
"As therefore in forms and figures there is somewhat 25 which is excellent and perfect, to which imagined
species all things are referred by imitation, which are the objects of sight, in like manner we behold the species of eloquence in our minds, the effigies or actual
image of which we seek in the organs of our hearing." 30 This is likewise confirmed by Proclus in the dialogue
of Plato, called Timæus. If, says he, you take a man as he is made by nature, and compare him with
another, who is the effect of art, the work of nature will r always appear the less beautiful, because art is more
35 accurate than nature. But Zeuxis, who, from the
choice which he made of five virgins, drew that wonderful picture of Helena, which Cicero, in his Orator before-mentioned, sets before us as the most perfect example of beauty, at the same time admonishes a painter to contemplate the ideas of the most natural 5 forms, and to make a judicious choice of several bodies, all of them the most elegant which he can find ; by which we may plainly understand, that he thought it impossible to find in any one body all those perfections which he sought for the accomplishment of a Helena, 10 because nature in any individual person makes nothing that is perfect in all its parts. For this reason Maximus Tyrius also says, that the image which is taken by a painter from several bodies produces a beauty which it is impossible to find in any single natural body, 15 approaching to the perfection of the fairest statues. Thus nature on this account is so much inferior to art, that those artists who propose to themselves only the imitation and likeness of such or such a particular person, without election of those ideas before-men- 20 tioned, have often been reproached for that omission. Demetrius was taxed for being too natural; Dionysius was also blamed for drawing men like us, and was commonly called åvOpwnoypápos, that is, a painter of
In our times, Michael Angelo da Caravaggio 25 was esteemed too natural. He drew persons as they were; and Bamboccio, and most of the Dutch painters, have drawn the worst likeness. Lysippus of old upbraided the common sort of sculptors, for making men such as they were found in nature; and boasted 30 of himself, that he made them as they ought to be: which is a precept of Aristotle, given as well to poets as to painters. Phidias raised an admiration, even to astonishment, in those who beheld his statues, with the forms which he gave to his gods and heroes, by imitat- 35
ing the idea, rather than nature. And Cicero, speaking
. of him, affirms, that figuring Jupiter and Pallas, he did not contemplate any object from whence he took the
likeness, but considered in his own mind a great and 5 admirable form of beauty; and according to that image
in his soul he directed the operation of his hand. Seneca also seems to wonder, that Phidias, having never beheld either Jove or Pallas, yet could conceive
their divine images in his mind. Apollonius Tyanæus fo says the same in other words,-that the fancy more
instructs the painter, than the imitation ; for the last makes only the things which it sees, but the first makes also the things which it never sees.
'Leon Battista Alberti tells us, that we ought not so 15 much to love the likeness as the beauty, and to choose
from the fairest bodies severally the fairest parts. Leonardo da Vinci instructs the painter to form this idea to himself; and Raphael, the greatest of all modern
masters, writes thus to Castiglione, concerning his 20 Galatea : “To paint a fair one, it is necessary for me
to see many fair ones; but because there is so great a scarcity of lovely women, I am constrained to make use of one certain idea, which I have formed to myself
in my own fancy.” Guido Reni sending to Rome his 25 St. Michael, which he had painted for the church of the
Capuchins, at the same time wrote to Monsignor Mas. sano, who was Maestro di Casa (or Steward of the House) to Pope Urban the Eighth, in this manner:
"I wish I had the wings of an angel, to have ascended 30 into Paradise, and there to have beheld the forms of
those beautiful spirits, from which I might have copied my archangel. But not being able to mount so high, it was in vain for me to search his resemblance here
below; so that I was forced to make an introspection 35 into my own mind, and into that idea of beauty which