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DESCRIPTION

OF

THE PICTURE,

CHRIST HEALING THE SICK

IN THE

TEMPLE,

PAINTED

BY BENJAMIN WEST, ESQ.

PRESIDENT OF THE ROYAL ACADEMY,

AND PRESENTED BY THE AUTHOR

TO THE

PENNSYLVANIA HOSPITAL.

PHILADELPHIA:

PUBLISHED BY S. W. CONRAD, No. 87, MARKET STREET,

FOR THE PENNSYLVANIA HOSPITAL,

William Brown, Printer.

1817.

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FA 4287.1.15

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NARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
BY EXCHANGE

JUL 8 1937

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THE PICTURE

Tuis generous donation of Mr. WEST is placed in a building erected for the purpose by the MANAGERS of the PENNSYLVANIA HOSPITAL; the plan of the room in which it is contained having been furnished by Mr. West.

RULES,

Adopted by the Managers relative to the view of West's Painting.

I. The hours of exhibition shall be from nine o'clock in the morning until sunset of every day, except Sabbath, on which day the doors will be closed.

II.—Visitors can only enter or depart from the building through the door on Spruce Street.

III. The price of admission for each person shall be twenty-five cents.
IV. All smoking of tobacco within the walls is forbidden.

V.-No other painting or picture shall be placed for exhibition in the

room.

VI.-No person can be permitted to use pen, pencil, or other implement, for the purpose of making any sketch, copy, or resemblance of the painting. VII. It is expected that no visitor will attempt to pass within the barrier or railing.

For the convenience of those who may wish to see the picture often and at their leisure, and during the hours of exhibition, Life Tickets (not transferable) are to be had of the door-keeper at the room, at ten dollars each.

CHRIST HEALING THE SICK.

"And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple: and he healed them.

"And when the Chief Priests and Scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased."

MATT. chap. xxi. v. 14, 15.

WE have attentively studied the Transfiguration by the celebrated RAPHAEL, and it has filled us with awe and astonishment: We have stood speechless before the Cartoons, lest we should interrupt the miraculous acts performing on the canvass, and have laid down our respectful fingers on the places where the wonder-working hand of the painter had dwelt, feeling, at the same time, a certain pride at having arrived, seemingly, in contact with the first artist in the world. The Raising of Lazarus we have most sincerely admired at the Palais Royal, and are happy to know that it is now in the possession of one of the first patrons of the art, and in London. The celebrated Communion of St. Jerom by Dominichino, the famous picture of D. da Volterra, the Crucifixion by N. Poussin, all these constellations of the firmament of the graphic Muse, as well as the Miracles of Christ, with which the forcible pencil of Jovenet has surrounded the altar of St. Martin in the Fields, at Paris, are still fresh in our recollection; and yet, when entering the Room of the British Imitation, we cast our eyes upon Mr. West's Picture-suddenly, and as if by magic, all these chef-d'œuvres of the art ebb and crowd back in the tide of our memory, but soon flow and vanish away. This is a bold assertion, yet we are confident that our particularising the performance will prevent any

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one evincing us guilty of blind enthusiasm or ill-grounded partiality.

Before we enter into the particulars, let us observe, generally, that, on an area of about one hundred and sixty square feet, the eye meets between fifty and sixty figures, all finished after living models, and that this picture possesses that uncommon felicity of subject which must be pleasing to all Christians, whatever may be the difference of their worship. There is not a sect that does not admit that we are all sinners, all liable to bodily infirmities, and feeble creatures; and as here the invention points out so general and so indisputable a truth, every one is called to admire the manner in which it has been substantiated by the fertile and powerful conception of the Artist.

INVENTION.

The design is grand and worthy of the sublimity of the subject. Boldly conceived and appropriate in all its parts, it appears strictly conformable to the invariable rules of Epic composition, which the greatest painters have received from the most celebrated poets. Jesus of Nazareth, the Saviour of mankind, who whilst on earth went about doing good, is represented in this Painting as exerting miraculous power in healing the sick; on his face, the mildness of a man of the tenderest feelings is blended with the majesty of a messenger from God. His attitude is easy and dignified; the drapery elegant and noble; ample without incumbrance; folded with simplicity and taste, and according with the old and generally adopted costume of red and blue. The head, hands, and feet, are most beautifully wrought, very gracefully disposed, and the whole figure follows the line of beauty without affectation or constraint.

Christ is surrounded by several groups, composed partly of his Disciples and Apostles ; partly of the afflicted and languid, brought to him as the Fountain of Life; and of the Pharisees

and Priests, who view the Messiah with involuntary wonder and mortal jealousy. These groups are disposed with great judgment, and afford to each other a proper help in the general system of light and shade in the whole piece. They undulate before the eyes, like distant hills in the glow of a summer evening, and the pleasing vapour which circulates around them produces the most correct aerial perspective.

In the group of the Apostles, which serves as a back ground to the principal figure, and is made up with uncommon discernment, John, on the right hand of his master, Peter, Matthew, and several others on the left, are most conspicuous. The beloved disciple is represented here young, amiable, and pensive, as we constantly find him in religious compositions. Peter reminds us, perhaps, too much, of the Cartoon, "The Death of Ananias;" but he is the Apostle whom we know, whose features are familiar to us, and who, most probably, was anciently imitated by Italian painters and sculptors, from statues of Jove himself, as if they could not exemplify the potent and infallible head of their church in a better manner than by identifying him with his fabulous type in the Capitolian temple, the "father of gods and men, whose nod was fate." Matthew, who relates the fact, was called from his toll-desk soon after a circumstance similar to this, and is therefore a fit witness to the miraculous transaction, in which he seems to take a peculiar interest.

On the right of Christ are several persons bringing objects of pity and commiseration to HIM, who was, of all the sons of men, the most compassionate: a most beautifnl woman, in a dark garment, holds a sickly infant; behind her a distressed mother brings forward, with natural eagerness, a rickety child; and, between her and Jesus, we remark, as a prominent feature in this group, a very handsome young woman, who seems to have lost her sight by a dreadful disorder in her brain. The white band, and the hand of the sympathising old man, which bind and hold her beautiful head, tell at once her situation, and work impressively on the mind of

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