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From the Literary Gazette, Nov. 8, 1817. MR. WEST'S NEW PICTURE, “ THE OPENING OF THE SEVEN SEALS." INHERE are boundaries to human with indifference, or with the emotions
I powers, but at the same time it is the which are excited by tragedy, wherein province of genius to aim at the accom- our fate is not involved ; and sympathy plishment of great designs ; such as nev- faintly supplies the place of personal coner have been and never may be effected. siderations of the deepest, of eternal In these efforts to do more than can be consequence. done, all that can be done is achieved. And pictures are addressed either to The failure is only in degree, and the the feeling or the understanding ; and in results are the nearest approaches to the many instances to both. In some of perfection attempted.
those of the former class painted by In the overwhelming subject before us, Rubens, in conjunction with Snyders, we are presented with an exertion of ge- we have no emotions excited but such nius, which, to the limited capacity of as might naturally be supposed to spring uncivilized man, would be considered no from the spectacle of gladiators and less miraculous than the prodigies of na- their savage combats. The mangled ture which fill his mind with superstition bodies of men and beasts belong to this and horror. But in the enlightened and class, and their representation scarcely highly cultivated state of society, wonder aspires to a better excitement than disgives place to admiration, and while we gust. Not far removed in point of elecontemplate we analyse.
vated sentiment may be stationed such This daring effort of art anticipates in pictures as the Massacre of the Innocircumstantial detail a period of the most cents, and most of the martyrdoms. terrible mystery, of which the mind only These are equally painful to the sight catches a glimpse and instantly withdraws, and are only excused by the motives as if the veil of the sanctuary were rent whence they arose,--to excite detestaasander, and it were impossible for hu- tion of persecution, to inspire fortitude manity to support the unfolded view of in bearing the cruellest inflictions of things so incomprehensible and so ap- barbarity, and to fan that flame of depalling. When seen under the power of votion which was esteemned necessary to prophesy, as a series of events that shall everlasting happiness. Yet with all happen in the latter days, we are too these advantages, is it not evident that deeply interested in the issue to look on the alleged causes have failed to pro
28 ATIEVEUM, Vol. 2.
Fine Arts-West's “ Death on the Pale Horse."
duce the proposed effects, and that, al- more difficult was the undertaking to most universally, these works have come place before the sense of sight a picture to be considered simply as the proofs of of that, at the approach to which, as a the artist's merit and the criteria of bis mere vision of the brain, we are overstyle ?
whelmed and confounded. As must No picture ever aimed at a higher have been anticipated, the artist has failcharacter more distinctly than that which ed; but, as our preliminary observations has led to these remarks. The subject tend to show, this is a “ failure in deis the most awful and mysterious wbich gree," which, falling short of what was a Christian can imagine,-it embraces impossible, affords a noble proof of the the final destruction of the human race, genius which prompted the trial, and ac and the salvation of the blessed. It is complishes a work of the highest order taken from the VIth chapter of Revela- of excellence. Unlike the wicked detions, “ the opening of the seals.” sign of Macbeth, where “ the attempt,
and not the deed,” was ruin ; here the ** And I saw when the Lambopened one of the seals, deed was unattainable, but the attempt and I heard as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and See.
he was great, and has been greatly suc* And I saw, and behold a white horse, and he that cessful. sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto bim : and he went forth conquering and to conquer. by the principal figure, Death on the " And when he had opened the second seal, I heard
" Pale Horse. It is a masterly performthe second beast say, Come and See.
" And there went out another horse that was red : ance, bold, rapid, and grand. Issuing and power was given to him that sat there in to take from a cloudy volume, the supernatural peace from the earth, and that they should kill one courser nawe space in his career and the
courser paws space in his career, and the another : and there was given unto him a great sword. * And when he had opened the third seal, I heard crowned spectre mat
I heard crowned spectre that sits on him is subthe third beast say, Come and See,
limely conceived. His right arm is “ And I beheid, and lo, a black horse ; and he that wreathed with a serpent, and each hand sat on him had a pair of balances in his band.
grasps a meteoric fascis of desolation, ** And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard 5 the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and See.
A noble group below the horse's feet on " And I looked, and behold a pale horse : and his the left indicates one part of the power name that sat on him was Death, and hell followed given to his rider :-a lady lies dead, with him. And power was given unto him over the
and her husband and two children in an fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the agony of grief, lament her, while they earth.
await their own annihilation. These “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under four figures are finely composed. On the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word be of God, and for the testimony which they held.”
4 the right of the horse the power to kill,
“ with the beasts of the earth," is exWhen we read this tremendous pas. pressed with a classic and yet terrible sage, we are ready to accuse that peucil truth. Men in conflict with lions, tigers, of teinerity, which would venture on its bulls, &c. fall sacrifices to their destrucvisible representation, and we ask, “ does tive dominion under every form of sufit not exist beyond the reach of art ?", fering; tossed, torn, and mangled, they The human understanding is lost in its expire in blood and agony. This mincoinprehension, and the soul of mangled mass of human desolation is carried wilders in the imagination of but a mii- out to the edge of the picture by other lionih part of its horrors. Only allow scenes of death in the distance ; and the mind to pursue one of its images, above, in the air, an appropriate and “and his name that sat on him was admirable relief is given by the view of Dealh, und Hell followed with him.” a heron killed by an eagle. In a murky Who even in the wildest of fancies, can congregation of pestilential vapours be. forin a conception of this? The Man- hind Death, the following of Hell is fred of Lord Byron is as a graia of sand thrown into gloom and shadow. Uoto the universe, in comparison with its formed and horrid monsters animate the dreard array ; Milton's pandemonium, storm. The darkness visible betrays the most meagre sketch! And how much their indistinct and obscene shapes, as
Fine Arts-West's “ Death on the Pale Horse.".
they seem to pursue their ghastly and instruments. That he has achieved course,
his purpose, may, we trust be gathered And through the palpable obscure find out
even from our faint outline. But though Their uncouth way.
it has been only a secondary object, it
must not be supposed that the mechaniWhat we have already described fills cal skill belonging to the highest branch fully one-half of the picture from the of art has been neglected. Mr. West centre to the left of the spectator, while speaks to the heart through the eye. The the vision of Hell occupies the middle composition as a whole is truly grand. distance, and stretches towards the right. The spirit of vigorous manhood is in its Before this cloud of infernal forms is the conception, and the judgment of matured representation of the black horse of the experience in its treatment. There is third seal, with its rider, and the balances indeed little regard paid to the fascinain his hand. Approaching the fore- tions of colouring,or to the mere distribuground there are two figures of Pesti- tion of light and shadow, though the genlence and Famine, conceived with un. eral tone of colour is suitable to the subcommon vigour, and executed in a most ject, and the chiaro-scuro has not heen affecting style. Hence, to the right, the neglected : but the great excellence of opening of the the first and second seals the piece is, that it is addressed to the obtains a local habitation. The White mind as a sacred lesson, and not by Horse, and the Saviour of Maukiud, meretricious graces merely to the sight, with a bow in his hand, going forth con. as a spectacle to be examined and critiquering and to conquer. js, though not cised for its means rather than its end. the first in point of pictorial interest, the One of the difficultiez bardest to be overfirst in pictorial beauty, of the whole come, seems to us to have consisted in composition. The horse is without the management of the secondary parts, trappings or harness, and an exquisite so as to preserve an epic unity in the academy study. The head of Christ is principal objects, and at the same time in profile, and the eye directed to a be- allot sufficient dignity to the variety of atic vision in the heavens, which shows great episodes, which each of the other that his conquering was not of this world. seals may be considered. This was renThe souls of the blest are here seen re- dered more trying from the circumstance joicing in the presence of their Redeem- of one of these introducing the Son of er. The simplicity and sublimity of God himself ; for Mr. West's interpre. this passage leaves description far off'; tation of Christ being typified by the riit must be seen to be felt and under der of the White Horse, is borne out by stood.
the general context, and by reference to Behind is the red horse in all the ar- the 45th Psalm, v. 4 and 5. In this ray of war : a helmed warrior bestrides respect we conceive him to have heen him, whose sword, and also his attitude, eminently' happy ; for he has not only and attention to a field of battle in per- surmounted an obstacle of no slight imspective, tell that his cruel power over portance, but converted it into a beauty men is that they should kill one another. of the foremost order. He has formed Two doves in the foreground of these through it the finest and most natural seals (one of them dead) complete, as contrast ; and combining the images of far as our recollection serves, the promi- horror and of hope, displayed the founnent objects of this stupendous picture, tains of mercy and immortal glory,
It will occur to every mind that the beyond the reign of devastation and venerable head of the British school has universal wreck. in this production aimed chiefly at the If we were called on to point out a most sublime characteristic art,—to im- blemish in the work, we would say that press the soul of the beholder with devo- the crossing of the action of the first and tional awe and holy adoration of the dj- second seals is the spot we fix on. The vinity, to whom these are but symbols vision of Christ towards heaven traverses
the vision of the warrior towards earth; produced on our minds, as of one of the and perhaps there is something too much most powerful efforts of human genios; in common between the white and red an immortal honour to the extraordinary horses. We know not how these mat- man who painted it, to the British arts, ters could have been avoided ; but it to the country, and to the age. does appear to us that with all the skill The opening of the seals one of the most exhibited in the endeavour to separate terrible mysteries in the Christian religand distinguish the two, there is still too ion, seemed almost above the powers of much of the semblance of compan- art. But what Milton bas achieved in ionship.
verse, is not faiotly followed by West But we will not dash this essay by on canvas; and at the age of eighty closing it with even the shadow of fault- years he has, by this effort, in our bumfinding. Truly we can speak of Death ble judgment, consuminated his immoron the Pale Horse from the effect it tality.
LEGENDS OF LAMPIDOSA.
Prom the European Magazine,
selves with coronets, pendents, chains, “TELL me not of our Ariosto and girdles, rings, spangles, and versicolour
1 Petrarch !” exclaimed the learn- ribbands? Why are their glorious shews ed Doctor Busbequius Buonavisa to his with scarfs, fans, feathers, furs, masks, dephew Count Blandalma, as they walk- laces, tiffanies, ruffs, falls, calls, cuffs, ed in the great square of Padua : “ All damasks, velvets, cloth of gold and silthe books in the Vatican or the Alexan- ver ?--To what end are their crisped drian library, if they could be found, hair, painted faces, gold-fringed pettishould never convince me that woman coats, baring of shoulders and wrists ? is not an evil. What says the Talmud ? Such stiffening with cork--streightening What said the Council of Nice ? and with whalebone---sometimes crushed and the Koran, and the Institutes of Menu- crucified-anon in las clothes, a hundred and-ay, and our own college ?-Do yards I think in a gown and sleeve ? then they not all agree that the Creator did short, up, down, high, low, thick, or not send woman till he was asked, lest we thin? making themselves, like the bark of should tax bim with malice ?_Woe to a cinnamon tree, best outside !'-Anthe father of daughters !' said the Rab- swer me, Signor Ludovico Blandalma, bi Ben Sirai ; and I answer-Woe to answer me.” husbands !”
“ There can be no answer, uncle, “ Sir," replied the young man, meek- to zuch a congregation of questions, unly, "I might also defy you to shew me lesz I repeat the catechism of your friend any poet, historian, or philosopher, from Jacobus de Voragine, whio composed Hesiod to Voltaire, who has not contra- it, perhaps, when he meditated matridicted himself at least six times on this mony. “Hast thou means ?-thou hasi subject.”
one to keep and increase them-Hast “ Well, boy, well !--and what does none ?-thou hast one to help thee. that prove, except that when women Art in prosperity ?-thy happiness is were created, fools became necessary ? doubled-Art in adversity ? she'll com
-But what were they in Hesiod's days, fort and direct thee--Art at home ? and what are they now? Ask Ovid, -she'll drive away melancholy-Art Lucian, Terence, or Petronius !--Hear abroad ?-she'll wish and welcome thy the English sage in 1617_ For what return—There is no delight without soend,' says he, are women so new-fan- ciety-no society like a wife’s.” gled, unstaid, and prodigious in their at. “Hold, hold !” interrupted Doctor tires, unbesitting age, place, quality, or Busbequius—“ listen to the obverse side condition ?-Why do they deck them- - hast thou means ?-thou hast, one
Legends of Lampidosa.—The Italian.
to spend them-Hast none ?--thy beg- employed as public seats of exhibition gary is increased—Art in prosperity ? - for all the insolvent debtors in Padua, thy share is ended--Art in adversity ? - and they would be equally useful if visshe'll make it like Job's.--Art at home? ens were required to stand on them bare-she'll scold thee out of doors-Art foot. I have no doubt that the famous abroad ?--if thou beest wise, keep thee circle at Stonehenge was contrived by so. Nothing easier than solitude, no the wisdom of ancient Britons for that solitude like a bachelor's.'.- Why, how purpose." POW? Whence comes that offuscation of Whether either or both these expeface, Ludovico ?"
dients would have bven successful, re“ Nothing, Sir," replied the nephew, mains in eternal doubt, as the next mosmiling, with downcast eyes—" a flush, ment brought Ludovico a special mes. perhaps, from indigestion."
senger, announcing the death of his wife “ Fuliginous vapours, child ! Sava- on her way to the baths of Pisa. As parola and Professor Menadous pre- this event happened at a distance so conscribe diazioziber, diacapers, and dia- venient, there was no occasion for much cinnamonum, with the syrup of borage solemnity of mourning ; one of her relaand scolopendra, to remove them. This tive3, with whom he was not personally is an irregular syncopatic pulse, which acquainted, had arranged her funeral; indicates a chronic disease.”
and Ludovico carried his sable moekery “ Very possibly, dear uncle, for I to “ midnight dances and the public have taken a wife.”
show” with great satisfaction. But, as “ By the heart of man ! (which is no custom is second nature, the unusual profane oath, as I know not what the tranquillity which he now enjoyed bething is inade of) I am glad to hear it came gradually an incumbrance, and he
A wife, saith the Ilindoos, is the staff began to regret the varieties and inequaland salvation of her busband ; meaning, ities of his domestic life. His uncle, no doubt, that she cha-uises him in this after quoting Isocrates, Seneca, Epicteworld. I congratulate thee, Ludovico, tus and every other ancient reasoner on ihy progress through purgatory.” against melancholy, prescribed travelling,
“Spare your raillery,"answered Blan- and determined to accompany bin in his dalma, with a deeper dush, “I should not tour through the Mediterranean isles have announced my marriage to a cynic himself. As a busy indolence was Luso professed, it I had not also had reason dovico's only motive, and his uncle had to ackuowledge any conversion to his none except bis delight in curious tesystem, and my intended separation search among antiquities, their first disfrom- "
embarkation was on the isle of Mlyrilenc “ From your wife, nephew !" inter- " Here,” said Dr. Busbequius, as they posed the cynic, charmed with this op- walked from the ship's boat along the portunity to reason on both sides of windings of a graceful coast, and locked the question--"abstractedly, a wise is towards a cassino half covered with an evil, but relatively she is a benefit, be- orange-blossoms-" here is the fit rescause she exercises the cardinal virtues.” dence for a man whose imagination can
“Sir, there was no enduring her dia- give no flashes of light except on a sumbolical temper."
mer's day, like a Swedish marigold ---“ That is another prejudice of igno- here, in the ancient Lesbos, the court of rance, nephew. We have no reason to Cytherea, and consequently exempt srom believe that Satan has a woman's tongue; shrews, as all isles are usually safe but, admitting that a shrewish temper from scorpions."- Ludovico sighed in and a demoniacal one are synonimous, silence, and approached the garden-gole, I can suggest a remedy. When your where the owner stood a waiting their arwife is eloquent, answer her in the rival. The terms of their admission as words of Aristophane:-“ Brecc, ckex, temporary guests were easily concluded ko-ax, ko-ax, qop-oop!"-Or there is with Signor Furbivo, who received them another expedient :--the stones in this with Italian civility. But when they market-place, as you know, were once required his signature to the contract, lie