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DIALOGUE VI.

Of the CLÉ À R OBSCURE.

A. [b]Jam persuaded, that notwithstand

1 ing all the pains you have taken, to form a juft idea of the Clear obscure, from the writings of Vafari, Felibian, and the rest, you will agree with me, that you have more satisfaction in this matter, from a single glance at a picture of Correggio, than from all you have ever read on that subject. Whether this proceeds from a want of knowledge in those writers, or our ignorance of the mechanic of the art, which they are fo apt to confound with the ideal,

[c] Tandem sese ars ipfa distinxit, et invenit lumen atque umbras, differentiâ colorum alterna vice sese excitante. Plin. lib. xxxv, ¢, 5.

I shall

I shall not take upon me to determine : But, certain it is, had we not before our eyes the examples to which they refer us, we should be often at a loss for their meaning. Now, in

treating of the Clear obscure of the ancients, . we have neither the works [P] nor writings

of their painters to guide us. Happily, their classicauthors, men of parts and erudition, were universally adınirers of this art. Hence their frequent allusions to it; their metaphors borrowed from it; with the descriptions of particular paintings, and their effects. In these last we cannot be deceived'; like effects, in picture, as in nature, muft .proceed from uniform causes : And when

[o] I do not mention in this place the paintings found at Herculaneum, because I cannot look on them as of a class to rest on them the merits of the ancient artists. There are beauties, it is true, scattered through. out them ; but, they are the beauties morientis artis, of an art in its decline ; such as Pliny describes it to

have been in his time ; when, as he feelingly laments, the ce was nulla nibilis pi&tura.

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we find these to correspond exactly with our et
own observations on the works of the mo- of
derns, this analogy leads us into a certainty,
as to the fimilitude of the means by which
they were produced.

B. Such inferences as these, when they
are natural and unforced, are more conclu.
five than positive assertions; for we are more
apt to be deceived by authority, than by the
reason of things.

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.: A. [9]“ LONGINUS observes, that, if we

“ place in parallel lines, on the fame plane,
^ a bright and an obscure colour, the for-

“mer springs forward, and appears much
: “ nearer to the eye.” Hence we may re-
mark, that when painters would give a pro-

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jection to any part of a figure, as the breasts of a virgin, and the like, they throw its extremities into shade ; that these retiring from the eye, the intermediate parts may have their juft relief. From this simple law of nature, springs all the magic of the Clear obscure ; not only parts are distinguished, but intire figures are detached from their fond; seem surrounded by air ; and meet the imagination with all the energy of life. Thus Philoftratus pretcily defcribes the picture of a Venus : “[r] The « goddess will not seem to be painted, but 36 springs from the canvass, as if she would « be pursued." The same writer tells us, that Zeuxis, Polygnotus, and Euphranor, were, above all things, [s] attentive, ro saade happily, and animate their figures ;

[r] Ou Boudileo yeygepoxo doxtv on Dtos, ixxelas de vie ac Esatar. De pictura Veneris, lib. ii. p. 810.

Γο] Το ευακιον ησπασαίο, και ευπνου», και το εισιχαν το kito asmor. In vita Apollonii, lib. ii. p. 72.

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by which he insinuates, that animation, or the soul of painting, owes its being to ą. jụst conduct of lights and shades; And hence it was, no doubt, that the paintings of Parrhasiųs were termed * realities; they : being poffeffed of such a force of Clear obscure, as to be no longer the imitacjons of, things, but the things themselves : Agree-: able to this, is the observation of an ancient writer, " That in painting, [t] the contour, " of the illumined part, should be blended “ with and lost in the shade ; for. on this, "joined to the advantage of colouring, de“pend animation, tenderness, and the simi, “ litude to truth.”

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[] Δει ταν σκιαν και ταν γραμμαν σαρεμφαινεσθαι επε της γραφεος. Το γαρ εμψυχον και το απαλον, και το μεμιμης pes You Tuu aanlencer, our ton xenolotalo two Xewnalwe, faceacla gorelico dice touwy. Theages Pythagoricus apud Ştobæum.

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