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- Domenichino was a very knowing Painter, and very laborious, but of no great natural endowments. It is true, he was profoundly skilled in all the parts of Painting, but wanting genius (as I said) he had less of nobleness in his works than all the rest who studied in the school of the Carraccis.
Albani was excellent in all the parts of Painting, and a polite scholar.
Landfranc, a man of a great and sprightly wit, supported his reputation for a long time with an extraordinary gusto of design and colouring; but his foundation being only on the practical part, he at length lost ground in point of correctness, so that many of his pieces appear extravagant and fantastical; and after his decease, the school of the Carraccis went daily to decay, in all the parts of Painting.
Gio. Viola was very old before he learned landscape the knowledge of which was imparted to him by Hannibal Carracci, who took pleasure to instruct him; so that he painted many of that kind, which are wonderfully fine and well coloured.
If we cast our eyes towards Gemany and the Low Countries, we may there behold Albert Durer, Lucas van Leyden, Holbein, Aldegrave, &c., who were all contemporaries. Amongst these, Albert Durer and Holbein were both of them wonderfully knowing, and had certainly been of the first form of Painters, had they travelled into Italy; for nothing can be laid to their charge, but only that they had a Gothic gusto. As for Holbein, his execution surpassed even that of Raffaelle; and I have seen a portrait of his painting, with which one of Titian's could not come in competition.
Amongst the Flemings appeared Rubens, who had, from his birth, a lively, free, noble, and universal
genius: a genius capable not only of raising him to the rank of the ancient Painters, but also to the highest employments in the service of his country; so that he was chosen for one of the most important embassies in our time. His gusto of design savours somewhat more of the Flemish than of the beauty of the antique, because he stayed not long at Rome. And though we cannot but observe in all his Paintings ideas which are great and noble, yet it must be confessed that, generally speaking, he designed not correctly; but, for all the other parts of Painting, he was as absolute a master of them, and possessed them all as thoroughly as any of his predecessors in that noble art. His principal studies were made in Lombardy, after the works of Titian, Paulo Veronese, and Tintoret, whose cream he has skimmed (if you will allow the phrase), and extracted from their several beauties many general maxims and infallible rules which he always followed, and by which he has acquired in his works a greater facility than that of Titian; more of purity, truth, and science than Paulo Veronese; and more of majesty, repose, and moderation than Tintoret. To conclude; his manner is so solid, so knowing, and so ready, that it may seem this rare accomplished genius was sent from heaven to instruct mankind in the Art of Painting.
His school was full of admirable disciples; amongst whom Vandyck was he who best comprehended all the rules and general maxims of his master; and who has even excelled him in the delicacy of his carnations, and in his cabinet-pieces; but his taste, in the designing part, was nothing better than that of Rubens.
It was thought proper to insert in this place the pleasing Preface which Mr. DRYDEN printed before his Translation of M. DU FRESNOY'S Poem. There is a charm in that great Writer's Prose peculiar to itself; and though, perhaps, the Parallel between the two Arts, which he has here drawn, be too superficial to stand the test of strict Criticism, yet it will always give pleasure to Readers of Taste, even when it fails to satisfy their judgment.
MR. DRYDEN'S PREFACE;
A PARALLEL OF POETRY AND PAINTING.
IT may be reasonably expected, that I should say something on my behalf, in respect to my present undertaking. First then, the Reader may be pleased to know, that it was not of my own choice that I undertook this work. Many of our most skilful Painters, and other Artists, were pleased to recommend this Author to me, as one who perfectly understood the rules of Painting; who gave the best and most concise instructions for performance, and the surest to inform the judgment of all who loved this noble Art ; that they who before were rather fond of it, than knowingly admired it, might defend their inclination by their reason; that they might understand those excellencies which they blindly valued, so as not to be farther imposed on by bad pieces, and to know when Nature was well imitated by the most able Masters. It is true indeed, and they acknowledge it, that besides the rules which are given in this Treatise, or which can be given in any other to make a perfect judgment of good pictures, and to value them more or less, when compared with another, there is farther required a long conversation with the best pieces, which are not very frequent either in France or England: yet some we