Imagens das páginas

the best copy of a portrait; and, having entered as a student at the Academy, was equally fortunate there : he, moreover, received unequivocal marks of approbation from its most distinguished professors.

An offer being made to him by a nobleman (who had seen some of his studies from the life) to go to Antwerp, and copy the finest of the magnificent pictures by Rubens, in that city, he joyfully embraced it, and completed his engagement to the entire satisfaction of his patron. Leaving that place, he proceeded to Brussels, and from thence to Paris. There he remained two years, painting during that time a considerable number of good portraits (chiefly of the English residents), and devoting every spare moment he could command to the study of the great French masters. After making the tour of Switzerland, he next visited Milan, Florence, Rome, and Venice, and while staying in those places, imbibed very freely the various excellences of the Italian schools. During the five years spent on the continent, he sent annually a single picture (historical or imaginative) to the Academy Exhibition : and, illustrative of the high opinion entertained of his ability, you might always see before it a large group of spectators, chiefly artists, engaged in analyzing its particular merits, and admiring or detracting as the humour prevailed.

Upon his return from the continent, his genius quickly gained him a prominent place among the painters of the day; and although he does not attach the magical “ R.A.” to his name, fashion and fortune assiduously attend him. He has taken a spacious house in a genteel square, and furnished it as might be expected of a painter--most superbly, and in perfect taste. He has built a kind of gallery for the exhibition of his collection of casts from the antique paintings and portfolios of rare drawings and prints. Upon the curiously-wrought tables hereof, you find dispersed among valuable bronzes, &c., Payne Knight's ingenious and philosophical book, the “ Analytical Enquiry into the Principles of Taste," Duppa's “ Lives of Michael Angelo and Raffaelle,” Roscoe's

Lorenzo," and that useful paper the “ Art Union;" works which, while they contribute to the amusement of his numerous visiters, are at the same time calculated to give birth to, and cherish a proper esteem

In a spacious painting-room, well equipped with lay-figures, throne, screens, and draperies, between the hours of ten and four, he is professionally engaged. If you make a call upon him within these hours, you find on entering, a man of middle stature (with palette, mahlstick, and pencils in his hands), painting at the fine picture which stands on the easel before him. He is clad in a flowing, richly.figured painting-gown, and wears his dark hair and whiskers very long. Upon looking closely, you observe a countenance pale and highly intellectual, but appearing somewhat saddened in expression-possibly by the difficulties and severe studies of his early life. His deportment is winning and gentlemanly; you quickly perceive in him a strong consciousness that the mantle of genius is upon his shoulders, and without a single particle of affectation, he endeavours to make it sit gracefully in your estimation. If you converse with him upon the condition and prospects of art, it is then he becomes animated. You hear him lament that the higber classes of art, such as the historical and purely imagi

for art.

native, should be so shamefully neglected in this country as they are : he expatiates freely upon the means of remedying this evil, and of diffusing a liberal and elevated taste amongst the people ; nor do you leave him without remarking, that he holds his profession in the highest admiration, and thinks there is none equal to it-an infallible proof of the enthusiast.

He lives in good style, dresses by five, rides or drives for an hour, dines at half-past six, and perhaps makes a late call at the artists conversazione, or attends some fashionable soirée to which he has been invited ; and where, caressed by his aristocratical acquaintance, he is esteemed one of the lions of the evening. And now that he has achieved eminence, chiefly through his own exertions, and thanks to portraiture, is in the possession of a handsome income, surrounded by many influential friends, honoured in public, and respected in private life, we leave him “valete et pluudite."

In returning to generalities, the first thing we have to remark, is the painful disadvantage under which the British painter too frequently labours-a defective education. Seldom, indeed, does he possess even as large an amount of classical knowledge as Ben Jonson, when speaking of such attainments, grudgingly allowed Shakspeare. The writings of the ancients, so rich in dramatic and pictorial incident, he can therefore only consult through the diluted medium of translations-a circumstance obviously unfitting him to apprehend in full force their manifold beauties. But it is due to him to state that, without making pretensions to scholarship, he is generally well informed, and with the authors in his own language tolerably familiar.

Nor is the painter devoid of faults. He has been sometimes accused, and we believe justly, of puffing himself into an undeserved celebrity-thus using the pen to more effectual purpose than the pencil. Moreover, the great race of competition against others occasionally engenders in his bosom a paltry professional jealousy, instead of exciting a laudable and healthy emulation. But the most besetting and unpardonable sins of the successful painter are, a love of money, which, rising superior to his sense of self-dignity, betrays him into the meanness of fawning upon, and administering to the vanities and other weaknesses of the rich, and a proneness to forget in the full career of prosperity, that he was once a humble student, and to treat with a supercilious disdain, his less fortunate brother of the brush.

We cannot close this our brief and necessarily imperfect“ Paper on Painters,” without reminding the British public of the just claim this class of artists has upon them. For to satirize, as did Hogarth, the follies of mankind, and to hold up to universal execration the hideous and distorted lineaments of vice, not less than to immortalize the virtuous actions of the good, or reflect back the lovely forms with which nature everywhere abounds, is to render an essential benefit to society. And he who does this, certainly deserves well, and has an unquestionable right to a liberal reward at the hands of his countrymen. Nor, in this calculating age, is there needed a more conclusive evidence of the painter’s utility, than is to be found in the elevated station we have recorded as being assigned him, and which is at once an eloquent, though silent compliment to genius, and a direct acknowledgment of the humanizing and exalting character of art.


Ir it be not heresy to compare Venice with any other city in the world, I should be inclined to say that Amsterdam is the Venice of the north. Like the queen of the Laguna, the queen of the Zuyderzee is seated on a throne of islands, girded by innumerable canals. But the resemblance goes no further. In the Dutch Venice we must not look for the palaces and gondolas which confer the two-fold character of grandeur and romance on the ancient city of the doges. The palaces of Amsterdam are small red brick houses, with white angles and pointed tops ;-her gondolas are large clumsy-looking boats, for they are usually laden with butter and cheese. But the quays of Amsterdam are delightfully shaded by rows of verdant trees, an ornament which Venice cannot boast.

The Dutch capital is four leagues in circumference, and has eight entrance-gates. The old ramparts are converted into promenades, and the bastions, twenty-six in number, are occupied by gigantic mills, which seem to overshadow the city. Amsterdam is built in the form of a crescent, but perhaps it may not inaptly be compared to the form of a theatre, the port occupying the place of the stage. A large semicircular moat runs round the walls, and five large canals, which supply water to all the rest, describe in the interior of the city five parallel curves. By the intersection of numerous canals, Amsterdam is divided into ninety-five little islands, which are connected together by no less than six hundred and sixty bridges. Thirty thousand houses and a population of more than two hundred and twenty thousand souls, are contained within the boundaries of this little archipelago. Amsterdam takes its name from a sluice (dam) constructed at the mouth of the river Amstel.

This city, which now occupies so important a place on the scene of the world, was, in the thirteenth century, nothing more than a little fishing village. The castle of the feudal lord, Ghysbert, reared its battlements in the midst of a few fishermen's huts, His successor built towers, bastions, &c., and the village was magnified into a town, which town a count of Holland confiscated and appended to his own domains. After an ambiguous existence of half a century, the town of Amsterdam obtained a municipal constitution. It increased in extent,—the wretched wooden palisade which had previously surrounded it, was now superseded by a brick wall, and at the commencement of the fifteenth century, the descendants of the fishermen, who were the first settlers in Amsterdam, were masters of all the trade of the Baltic. But this prosperity created jealousy, and the inhabitants of some of the neighbouring districts one night took the suburbs of Amsterdam by surprise, and not content with burning and pillaging the houses, reduced to ashes lwenty-two vessels which were lying in the port. At a subsequent period the anabaptists, headed by the celebrated John of Leyden, penetrated to the heart of the citadel, and ten years afterwards Amsterdam suffered another attack of a similar kind. After escaping triumphantly from all the dangers of those troubled times, and taking part in the great national insurrection, the inhabitants of Amsterdam emancipated themselves from the yoke of the Spaniards in the year 1578. From that period the wealth and commercial importance of this city may be dated. Religious persecution caused vast numbers of fugitive protestants to take refuge in the Dutch capital, and their industry well repaid the protection afforded them. The closing of the Scheldt, stipulated in the treaty of Munster, by ruining Antwerp, crowned the prosperity of Amsterdam. The latter city then became the metropolis of the commercial world.

Amsterdam now retains but a very inconsiderable share of her former importance. The course of time, and the mutation of interests, have created new marts for trade, and new centres of industry; the sceptre of commerce has passed into other hands. But fallen as she is, this once flourishing capital still retains the traditions and habits of her former existence. The picture which Fénélon drew of Amsterdam under the name of Tyre, is, even at the present day, faithful to reality,

“ I should never,” says the fabulous traveller,“ be weary of contemplating the magnificent spectacle presented by this great city, in which all is life and activity. I do not see here, as in the towns of Greece, groups of idlers lounging and gossipping in the public streets, and staring at every stranger who lands at the ports. The men are busily employed unloading the vessels, conveying the merchandise to the places of sale, arranging the store-houses, and keeping strict accounts of their dealings with foreign merchants."

The picture would have been still more correct if he had added that the fair sex in Amsterdam rival the men in industry and activity. At Morocco I have seen women harnessed to the plough, and at Utrecht I have frequently seen a woman dragging a heavily laden canal boat, whilst her husband was sitting very composedly at the prow smoking his pipe. In Amsterdam the most laborious work is often consigned to females. They are continually seen unloading boats, hurling wheelbarrows, rolling casks, &c., and that fanatical cleanliness which is a national characteistic of the people, imposes on a Dutch maid-servant a degree of toilsome labour which in other countries men servants would rebel against. But the victims submit to their martyrdom with the utmost cheerfulness and good humour, and their ruddy complexions bear ample evidence that their exertions are not inimical to health. Amsterdam may be compared to a ship on the open sea.

The city seems to be floating on the water, and would perish of thirst were it not for the frequent falls of rain which supply its cisterns and reservoirs. But this resource is not found sufficient and supplies of water are obtained from the river Vecht, which is a few leagues distant.

The peculiarity which first strikes a stranger on entering Amsterdam, is its extreme silence. The city is as quiet and noiseless as the plains which surround it. The reason of this is, that the canals are the medium of every kind of conveyance. Scarcely such a thing as a carriage is seen. Indeed, the use of carriages is confined to a few privileged persons, a limitation which is rendered necessary by reasons of public safety. The ground on which the city is built is so unsolid, that the passing of the lightest vehicle makes the houses shake to their very foundations. This inconvenience has suggested the invention of a singular kind of The body of the vehicle rests not upon wheels, but on a sledge, which slides along the street without either jolting or noise. This machine is drawn by a single horse. The coachman walks at one side, and instead of a whip, carries in his hand a piece of cloth steeped in oil, which from time to time he puts under the sledge, to render it more slippery, and to ease the efforts of the horse. The reader may easily guess the sort of speed at which this carriage proceeds, and the annoyance of riding in it.

Since I am on the subject of public vehicles, I may here say a word respecting Dutch stage-coaches. There is no limitation of the number of persons they convey. Indeed, the owners are obliged to take as many passengers as may present themselves. If at the hour of starting a passenger should appear who cannot by any possibility be crammed into the already over-filled coach, the owners are obliged to put horses to another for his accommodation. Even in this regulation we may perceive a characteristic trait of the Dutch people, who are always in fear of being too late.

The houses in Amsterdam, as I have already observed, are built of brick, as they are in all parts of Holland. In the superior street the brick is left of its natural red-colour; but in the better quarters of the town, such as the Keyser-Gracht, the Heere-Gracht, and the Cingel, the outsides of the houses are painted and varnished as carefully as the panels of the interior. Unfortunately, good taste does not always dictate the choice of colours, Some houses are blue, others green or yellow, whilst the corners and peaked tops being plastered white, and ornamented with rude sculpture, increase the singularity of their appearance. The utmost refinement of luxury and taste of which a Dutchman can give proof, is to surmount each corner of his house with a classic vase, and to fix on the culminating point in the centre of the edifice, the figure of a bull, a sheep, or a shepherd. Such is the favourite style of civil architecture in Holland. The houses have invariably three windows on each story in front; some have more: those which have five are houses of the very highest class. All are built on piles, for the stratum of earth is very thin, and water is found seven or eight feet below the surface. For a house of ordinary magnitude, about a hundred piles are necessary, each being from forty to sixty feet long. For public buildings, thousands of these piles are requisite. I have heard it alleged, that in the erection of the Palace, no less than thirteen thousand seven hundred were employed, and for the Navy Office, eight thousand. Thus building is a costly undertaking in Holland; building a house is a secondary consideration; it is necessary to begin by building the ground on which the house is to stand. This lastmentioned process is not always very easily accomplished, for the ground often gives way during the progress of the structure raised upon it. For example : it has been found impossible to complete the steeple of the Nieuw-Kerk on the Dam, because the edifice sank in proportion as it was raised. This mode of building is attended by many serious inconveniences. The canals became stagnant, which renders the water fetid in summer, and impure at all seasons. But it rarely happens that means are taken to set the water in motion, or to procure fresh supplies by the aid of sluices, lest the action of the current, by loosening the piles should endanger the stability of every house in the city.

The traveller who describes, and the reader who peruses the description, rarely place themselves in the same point of view. Objects whose visible appearance forcibly strikes the eye, do not in descriptoin make

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