« AnteriorContinuar »
STATUE OF NICHOLAS POUSSIN.
This statue in marble, of the proportion of six feet, is placed in the Hall of the Institute, at Paris. It is considered one of the best productions of an artist, who, by his other works, has reflected honour on French sculpture.
M. Lebreton, perpetual secretary of the fine arts in the Institute, delivered an admirable eulogium on the merits of this excellent statuary, who died in the month of December, 1804, in his seventy-fourth year. The limits of this publication not permitting us to report the whole of his discourse, we must confine ourselves to the following passage, which has a reference to the subject before us.
"M. Julien had undertaken the statue of Poussin, but peculiar circumstances, far from exciting him to other labours, compelled him so slowly to execute this work, that he considered it as his last production. He appeared desirous of living only to finish it. Nature, in a manner, but granted him his request. He died three months after its exhibition at the Louvre.
"The subject presented two considerable difficulties; one, so common to all statuaries—the stiffness of the modern costume: the other, to give an exact resemblance of the features of Poussin. The former obstacle he overcame by a probable fiction. He has supposed that Poussin, who had been long resident at Rome, among other peculiarities, was in the habit of sleeping naked during the summer.
"Having conceived in the night a happy thought for his ' Will of Eudamides,' and fearful that it might escape him, he immediately arose, covered himself with his cloak, and delineated the cherished idea. The composition has the merit of expressing the reflecting mind of Poussin ;—always occupied with his works, he was thereby enabled to delineate, with propriety, the nudity of the arms and legs, and to clothe them with suitable dignity.
"But, by ennobling the style and costume of the statue, the difficulty was augmented of preserving sufficient character in the countenance. Fortunately, the features of Poussin were of a serious cast, which, in a two-fold degree aided the conceptions of the artist. The labour of the chisel represents Poussin in the flower of his age."
Aristippus was born at Cyrene, in Africa. He was a disciple of Socrates, but differed much from the doctrine of that illustrious master. The one acknowledged no happiness but in virtue, the other found no enjoyment but in voluptuousness. A lively wit, smart repartees, and the talent of concealing his principles under decent forms, gained him proselytes and admirers, and procured for him a subsistence more pleasing than honourable. A noble character and real merit gain the esteem of minds that possess the least degree of courage. Aristippus heard of the captivity of Socrates with sentiments of grief; but as he was then at Egura, and felt that he could not deliver this great man from the rage of tyrants, he wished to avoid the melancholy but august spectacle of his last moments. He only sought for what was agreeable in friendship, and avoided the vexations and affections of it. His friends might depend upon him in prosperity, but could not expect to lind in him a comforter in misfortune: he had quarrelled with Eschines, who was also a disciple of Socrates, and who had behaved ill to Aristippus. He felt that an intimacy with him was necessary to his happiness, and made the first advances to regain his affection. His abode at Syracuse did more injury to his reputation than his taste for pleasure. He in vain attempted to justify his conduct towards Dionysius, by pretending that the tone of censure and reprimand succeeds badly with princes;