PAINTING IN ENGLAND.

These are all pictures which hold up the customs of the time to ridicule and satire, and his works of this kind are almost numberless. He explains as follows the cause of his painting in this way: “The reasons which induced me to adopt this mode of designing were that I thought both critics and painters had, in the historical style, quite overlooked that intermediate species of subjects which may be placed between the sublime and the grotesque. I therefore wished to compose pictures on canvas similar to representations on the stage; and further hope that they will be tried by the same test and criticised by the same criticism.”

Fig 71 Fig. 71.—The Marriage Contract. No. 1 of The Marriage à la Mode. By Hogarth. In the National Gallery.

It was in this sort of picture that Hogarth made himself great, though he supported himself for several years by portrait-painting, in which art he holds a reputable place. Most of his important pictures are in public galleries.

Hogarth was a fine engraver, and left many plates after his own works, which are far better and more spirited than another artist could have made them. The pictures of Hogarth have good qualities aside from their peculiar features. He made his interiors spacious, and the furniture and all the details were well arranged; his costumes were exact, as was also the expression of his faces; his painting was good, and his color excellent. In 1753 he published a book called the “Analysis of Beauty.”

Ever after his first success his career was a prosperous one. He rode in his carriage, and was the associate and friend of men in good positions. Hogarth was buried in Chiswick Churchyard, and on his tombstone are these lines, written by David Garrick:

“Farewell, great painter of mankind!
Who reach’d the noblest point of Art,
Whose pictur’d morals charm the mind,
And through the eye, correct the heart.
If Genius fire thee, reader, stay;
If Nature touch thee, drop a tear;
If neither move thee, turn away,
For Hogarth’s honour’d dust lies here.”

The next important English painter was Richard Wilson (1713-1782), and he was important not so much for what he painted as for the fact that he was one of the earliest landscape-painters among English artists. He never attained wealth or great reputation, although after his return from studying in Italy he was made a member of the Royal Academy.

We come now to Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), born at Plympton, in Devonshire. His father was a clergyman and the master of the grammar school at Plympton. Joshua was destined for the medical profession by his parents; but his love of drawing was so marked that, as the opportunity offered for him to go to London and study under Hudson, his father allowed him to do so. After various changes, in 1749 he was able to go to Rome, and remained in Italy three years (Fig. 70).

When he returned to England he soon attracted attention to his pictures, and it was not long before both fame and fortune were secured to him. His life was a very quiet one, with little of incident that can be related here. His sister kept his house for him, and he lived generously, having company to dinner almost daily. His friends were among the best people of the time, including such persons as Dr. Johnson, Percy, Goldsmith, Garrick, the Burkes, and many others. The day before Johnson died he told Reynolds that he had three requests to make of him: that he would forgive him thirty pounds which he had lent him, would read the Scriptures daily, and would not paint on Sunday. Sir Joshua promised to do these things, and remembered his promise.

Sir Joshua was skilful in compliments. When he painted his famous picture of Mrs. Siddons as the “Tragic Muse” he put his name on the border of her garment. The actress went near the picture to examine it, and when she saw the name she smiled. The artist said: “I could not lose the opportunity of sending my name to posterity on the hem of your garment.”

Fig 72 Fig. 72.—“Muscipula. By Reynolds.

Sir Joshua Reynolds’ fame rests upon his portraits, and in these he is almost unrivalled. His pictures of children are especially fine. It was his custom to receive six sitters daily. He kept a list of those who were sitting and of others who waited for an opportunity to have their portraits made by him. He also had sketches of the different portraits he had painted, and when new-comers had looked them over and chosen the position they wished, he sketched it on canvas and then made the likeness to correspond. In this way, when at his best, he was able to paint a portrait in about four hours. His sitters’ chairs moved on casters, and were placed on a platform a foot and a half above the floor. He worked standing, and used brushes with handles eighteen inches long, moving them with great rapidity.