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we have hitherto followed in the stu; dy of Painting. This is what I propofe by the Essay which I here offer to the publick. I shall use no art, however customary it may be on these occafions, to prepare the judgment, or conciliate the good opinion of my readers: One thing only. it may be necessary to excuse ; I have been forced, in some measure, to take certain liberties of style, which, though common in other languages, have not yet been received into ours. Thus I have used the MECHANICK, and I DEAL of an art, instead of the mechanick, or ideal part of an art; as likewise CLEARS and OBSCURES, for clear and obscure colours. I have borrowed the word Nup from the French; SBOzzo from the Italian;
and have translated the CHIAROSCURO of the latter into the clear obscure. These are little licences, unavoidable, in treating of an art, which has not as yet been thoroughly naturalized ; and I even wish, that they may not be overlooked, in the number of less excusable defects,
DIAL. VII. OF COMPOSITION.
General Plan of the WORK.
B. W H EN you advanced the other
day, in a circle of virtuoso's, that the ancients were, in painting, as in all the other polite arts, equal, if not superior, to the moderns; your assertion was received with an univerfal dislike. However different my sentiments were from yours at the time, I was yet persuaded, that you would not have given into so singular an opinion, without having good reasons to support it. I mentioned to you then my doubts, and you was so good as to promise me you would remove them....
A. I was not at all surprised at the difsatisfaction you remarked in those gentle. men ; it is unpleasing to have an opinion brought into doubt, which we have looked upon all our lives as indisputable. You shall now be a judge of the grounds I had for my affertion. Had we no other object in view, but merely to determine the different merits of the artists, it would hardly be worth the labour; but, by examining the testimonies which we shall draw from the writings of the ancients, and comparing their ideas with the paintings of the moderns, we shall enlarge our conceptions, and improve our knowledge of the art itself. · B. This prospect which you have opened upon me, gives me a singular pleasure ; for, after having read, with the utmost attention, the several authors on this subject, I cannot say, that I have received from them the instruction I expected,