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S. Spooner

When the Allies entered Paris in 1815, they found in the gallery of the Louvre about two thousand works of art—the gems of the world in painting and antique sculpture—mostly the spoils of war, deposited there by the Emperor Napoleon. The selection of these works was entrusted to a commission, at the head of whom was the Baron Denon, who accompanied the Emperor in all his expeditions for this purpose. The Louvre, at this time, was the acknowledged emporium of the fine arts. The grand determination of Napoleon to place France highest in art among the nations, did not rest here.

His mind was naturally turned to precision and exactness, and it is evident that he would have shown this quality in any other profession, had he practiced another. Methodical and regular in all his habits, he prepared and ground his own colors, and made his own brushes of a peculiar shape, and he kept them locked up in a case made for the purpose, that they might be free from soil.

Philip II. was accustomed to honor More by frequent visits to his studio, on which occasions he treated him with extraordinary familiarity. One day, in a moment of condescension and admiration, the monarch jocosely slapped More on the shoulder which compliment the painter, in an unguarded moment, playfully returned by smearing his hand with a little carmine from his brush.

Emulation carries with it neither envy nor unfair rivalry, but inspires a man to surpass all others by superiority alone. Such was the emulation and rivalry between Zeuxis and Parrhasius, which contributed to the improvement of both; and similar thereto was that which inspired the master-minds of Michael Angelo and Raffaelle; of Titian and Pordenone; of Albert Durer and Lucas van Leyden; of Agostino and Annibale Caracci; and we may add, in our own country, of Thomas Cole and Durand.

About the year 1785, Alderman J. Boydell, of London, conceived the project of establishing a 'Shakspeare Gallery,' upon a scale of grandeur and magnificence which should be in accordance with the fame of the poet, and, at the same time, reflect honor upon the state of the arts in Great Britain and throughout the world. Mr. Boydell was at this time a man of great wealth and influence, and a patron of the fine arts, being an engraver himself, and having accumulated his fortune mostly by dealings in works of that character.

This Dutch painter was invited to Spain by Charles V., and accompanied that monarch on his expedition to Tunis, of which he preserved some scenes that were afterwards transferred to Brussels tapestries. He followed the court for many years, and exercised his art with honor and profit, in portrait, landscape, and sacred subjects. The palace of the Prado was adorned with a number of his works, particularly eight pictures representing the Imperial progresses in Germany, and Views of Madrid, Valladolid, Naples, and London; all of which perished in the fire of 1608.

Everything that came from his pencil was precious, even in his life-time. Houbraken says that his great patron, Mr. Spiering the banker, allowed him one thousand guilders a year, and paid besides whatever sum he pleased to ask for his pictures, some of which he purchased for their weight in silver; but Sandrart informs us, with more probability, that the thousand guilders were paid to Douw by Spiering on condition that the artist should give him the choice of all the pictures he painted.

More was employed by most of the princes of Europe, who liberally rewarded him, and at every court his paintings were beheld with admiration and applause, but at none more than at those of Spain and England. He acquired an ample fortune. When he was in Portugal, the nobility of that country, in token of their esteem, presented him, in the name of their order, a gold chain valued at a thousand ducats. He closely imitated nature.

This wonderful picture is one of the most singular and beautiful works of that great master. Adopting an idea till then unknown to painters, he has created a new principle of light and shade; and in the limited space of nine feet by six, has expanded a breadth and depth of perspective which defies description. The subject he has chosen, is the adoration of the shepherds, who, after hearing the glad tidings of joy and salvation, proclaimed by the heavenly host, hasten to hail the new-born King and Saviour.

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