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which, you just now supposed the moderns to be much fuperior to the ancients.
A. My suppofition was grounded on the obscurity of their writers, and the difference of their practice. The ancients versed in the nude, derived from this, as I have before observed, their elegance and correctness in design. They were no less indebted to it, for their truth and beauty of colouring. The moderns, on the other hand, particularly the Venetians, accustomed to clothe their figures, in velvet, silks, woolen, linen and the like, were naturally led into an observance of the different [n] effects of their
(n) We may form a general idea of the various effects of reflections from the following examples: If a blue be reflected on a yellow, the latter becomes greenish; if on a red, the red becomes purple; and fo on through a variety of combinations : And as the white is of a nature to receive all the colours, and to be tinged with that of each reflection, the painter must be careful how his carnations may be affected by the several reflections,
reflections: as, of the accord or disagreement in their apposition. In order to be convinced, that this accord or disagreement is not fantastical, we need but observe the rainbow in its full display of colours ; ac which time, their union is perfect: Let the red, the blue, or yellow disappear, it is entirely disturbed. In the same manner, place green and yellow or yellow and red together in a picture, they are evidently at variance ; let the blue interpose, their correspondence is restored. Rubens has painted in imitation of the rainbow, all the colours co-operate ; the effect is good but accidental; but, in Tirian and Correggio, this arrangement is the result of science, it is a harmony, which springs from a judicious and happy union of confenting colours.
B. It should seem that the Mexicans were great masters of this harmony or correspondence of colours, of which, Antonio
de Solis, the elegant author of the Conquest of Mexico, gives the following remarkable instance. “ Among the presents sent to “ Cortez from the emperor, was a quanti
ty of plumes and other curiosities, made
of feathers ; whose beauty and natural “ variety of colours found on rare birds “ that country produces, they so placed and " mixed with wonderful art, distributing “ the several colours, and shadowing the
light with the dark so exactly, that, with.. “out making use of artificial colours, or “ of the pencil, they could draw pictures, " and would undertake to imitate nature.
" In another place, Montezuma is de6 scribed feated on a chair of burnished “gold, which glittered through the vari
ous works of feathers, placed in hand“ some proportion about, the nice distri“bution of which, in some measure, seem"ed to ourvie the cost of the metal,"
A. The example you have produced in the practice of the Mexicans, is an extraordinary instance of the happy effect from an union of colours, and it is probable that their artists were, in this particular, nothing inferior to the Italians. Their skill, in waving those various colours into a kind of feathered tapestry, or Mosaick, and forming in them regular pictures, and lively imitations of nature, får exceeds the descriptions -we meet with; of the Babylonian tissues : As, in their painted language, they evidently resemble, and seem to have excelled the hieroglyphicks of the Egyptians.
B. When we meet with such strokes of sesemblance in the efforts of human wit, among nations cut off from all intercourse with each other, we are moved with a kind of pleasing surprise ; some treat them as the inventions of historians; others account
for them by supposed, though undiscovered, communications; and yet, to consider things justly, nothing can be more natural; the seeds of ingenuity, like those of good sense, are sown in all foils; and it is no more extraordinary, that their productions should be alike, than, that the oranges of New-Spain should resemble those of old.