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in this place. The disposition, of which we have been speaking hitherto, is purely picturesque : But there is a second kind, which we may call the expressive. Wheni many persons are present at an action, in which they are interested, it naturally sets them in motion; their movements will depend on their characters and feeling; anger, love, or aftonishment, Ihall with propriety be expressed by single figures ; whilst others shall be collected into parties, or groupes, to communicate their fears, doubts, belief, and the like. Thus, in that iniinitable picture by Leonardo da Vinci, when Christ, at supper with his disciples, declarès, that one of them fhall betray hin; they all instantly take the alarm: One of the youngest, rising from his feat, his hands crossed on his breast, looks on Christ with an action full of love and attachment to his perfon; the zealous and impatient St. Peter, throws himself a-cross two or three

ochers, others and whispers the beloved disciple, who is next to Chrift; no doubt, to ask his mafter who it should be. The rest are divided into parties, reasoning and disputing on their different sentiments. It is easy to perceive, that the artist, intent on giving a full expreffion to the sentiments and paffions becoming the occasion, considered the disposition of his picture, merely, as it tended to explain or add force to his principal action. This will ever be the case with the greatest painters: They may set a juft va lue on the scenery of their piece, but never facrifice to that the expression of their subject. When Christ gives the keys to Peter, nothing is more natural, than that the difciples should all crowd together, to be witnesses of an action which fo much concerned them. This disposition is true and expressive, but by no means picturesque : Raphael was too wise, to fatter the eye, at the expence of the understanding; yét, where they could both be indulged with propriety, his composition was no less picturesque than expressive. In his St. Paul preaching at Athens, the disposition in general is not only pleasing, but the groupes are well imaged, and happily connected. In short, the true difference between these ar: tifts, is this, with Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci, disposicion is an accessory ; with Lanfranc and Pietro di Cortona, it is not only a principal, but comprehends too often the whole merit of the picture.


B. Having fettled our ideas of this part which you call the scenery of painting ; let us, if you please, examine the merit of the ancients in this article: It is the received opinion, I think, that their compositions in painting, like those of their basso Relievo's, were extremely simple; if so, I cannot exp.ct much from you on this head.

A. This

A. This opinion, is a necessary consequence of that, which I have already mentioned, namely, that they were unacquainted with the laws of perspective, and the effects of the clear obscure. If the contrary of this be true, which, it seems to me, I have proved; we may very well conclude, that, possessed of the same means with the mo. derns, and at least equal to them in genius, they should employ them to the same ends. Was their composition fo fimple as it is thought, there could be, in this particular, no variety in the art, and, of course, no-degrees of merit in the artists. Yet, we are told by Pliny,“ [l] That Apelles confessed “ Amphion to be his superior in the dis“ position : It was then an object of attention; it must have been too, in the opinion of the ancients, of consequence ; for, the historian gives it as an extraordinary inftance of [m] candor in the painter. It is probable then, that, as Apelles was the Raphael, fo Amphion was the Lanfranc of Greece.

[] Cedebat Amphioni de Dispositione.


B. I Am inclined to believe from hence, that the first painters among the ancients, like those among the moderns, were, as it is natural they should be, more ftudious of the expressive than the pi&turesque ; and this may be the reafon why the classic writers, who borrowed their ideas of painting from their capital works, have not dwele on the article of disposition ; Jooking on it as a circumstance inseperable from the general expression of the subject,

A. And yet they are not altogether filent on this head : And we may find, even in

[m] Fuit Apelles non minoris fimplicitatis quam artis ; nam cedebat, &c. Lib. xxxy. . 10.


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