COLOUR.

Perhaps, if we can comprehend a species of coloured chiaro-scuro, or the addition of colour to the broad and soft principles of light and shade, we shall be able to form a clear perception of the effects of Rembrandt's colouring. Indistinctness of tint, such as colours assume under the influence of twilight, is a strong characteristic of his manner—the shadows never so dark that a black or blue cannot tell firmly in the midst of them; with the total absence of all harshness, from the outlines of objects melting into their adjacent grounds, or assuming an importance after emerging from a mass of indefinite corresponding hues. As he has a mass of shadow with a mass of light, so he has an accumulation of warm colours in opposition to a congregation of cold—every combination introduced conducing to the great principles of breadth. When such is the plan upon which a work is laid down, we can easily perceive how powerfully the smallest touch of positive colour will tell—as in the midst of stillness a pin falling to the ground will be heard. Cuyp has this quality in a high degree, only on another scale—a uniformity of unbroken tone, and in masses of half-tint only, like a few sparkles of light touches, dealt out with the most parsimonious pencil, producing a glitter like so many diamonds. This it is that prevents a work from being heavy, for by their fewness they require not the aid of black grounds to give them consequence, and by their being touched upon colours of the same quality, they avoid the appearance of harshness; in fact, the principles of these two great artists were the same; only from the general tone of Cuyp's pictures being light, his strong darks tell with great power, and Rembrandt's half tints being of a low tone, his high lights become more forcible. I may here mention not only the breadth of Rembrandt's shadows, but their peculiar transparency and clearness, loose in the handling, and filled with air and space, whereas his lights are solid and firm—possessing not only the characteristics of nature in distinctiveness, but also in variety; and though we see always, on a general principle, light upon light and dark on a dark ground, yet we perceive inroads made upon each by their several antagonists; hot and cold colours darting into each other's provinces. This practice is also conducive to breadth, for tints of different hues may be interspersed both in the darks and lights, provided they are of equal strength with those adjoining them. We may observe in Rembrandt—that those colours introduced into the shadows are more under the influence of indistinctness, while those in the light are brighter; this is quite a deviation from the Roman school, where the colours are pronounced so harshly as to set the influence of chiaro-scuro at defiance.

Barry, in his sixth lecture, speaking of colours, says—"The happy effects of those sure and infallible principles of light and colour which Rubens had so successfully disseminated in the Netherlands, were soon found in every department of art. Landscapes, portraits, drolls, and even the dullest and most uninteresting objects of still life, possess irresistible charms and fascination from the magic of those principles. Rembrandt, who, it is said, was never at Venice, might, notwithstanding, have seen, without going out of his country, many pictures of the Venetian school. Besides, he was about thirty years younger than Rubens, whose works were a general object of study when Rembrandt was forming himself. But, however it be, there is no doubt, for the colouring and chiaro-scuro, Rembrandt is one of the most able artists that ever lived. Nothing can exceed the beauty, freshness, and vigour of his tints. They have the same truth, high relish, and sapidity as those of Titian. Indeed, they have the closest resemblance to the hues of Titian when he had Giorgione most in view. There is identically the same attention to the relievo and force obtained by his strong shadows and low deep tones; and his chiaro-scuro, though sometimes too artificial, is yet often (particularly in contrasted subjects) productive of the most fascinating effects. In the tones of Rembrandt, though we recognise the same richness and depth as in Giorgione and Titian, yet there is a suppleness and lifelike character in his flesh unlike either, both from his manner of handling, and also his hot and cold tints being less blended."

The late Sir David Wilkie, in one of his letters, speaking of the death of Sir Thomas Lawrence, says—"I do not wonder at the impression made among you in Rome by the death of Sir Thomas Lawrence; here, it engrossed for a time every other pursuit. One of the last remarks he made to me indicated his extreme admiration of Sir Joshua Reynolds, who, he thought, had, with Rembrandt, carried the imitation of nature, in regard to colours, further than any of the old masters." In many of the higher qualities of colour and chiaro-scuro, Reynolds comes nearer to Rembrandt than any other artist who has succeeded him.