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Architecture

This eminent architect was one of those illustrious men, who, having conceived and matured a grand design, proceed, cool, calm, and indefatigable, to put it in execution, undismayed by obstacles that seem insuperable, by poverty, want, and what is worse, the jeers of men whose capacities are too limited to comprehend their sublime conceptions. The world is apt to term such men enthusiasts, madmen, or fools, till their glorious achievements stamp them almost divinely inspired.

This accomplished, amiable, and talented lady was cut off in the flower of her life, August 29th, 1665, by poison, administered by one of her own maids, instigated, as is supposed, by some jealous young artists. Her melancholy death was bewailed with demonstrations of public sorrow, and her remains were interred with great pomp and solemnity in the church of S. Domenico, in the same vault where reposed the ashes of Guido.

Poussin, naturally of a peaceful turn of mind, fond of retirement and the society of a few select literary friends, was disgusted with the ostentation of the court and the cabals by which he was surrounded; he secretly sighed for the quiet felicity he had left at Rome, and resolved to return thither without delay. For this purpose, he solicited and obtained leave of the king to visit Italy and settle his affairs, and fetch his wife; but when he had once crossed the Alps, no inducement could prevail on him to revisit his native country, or even to leave Rome.

His works are numerous, and are dispersed in various public and private collections of Europe; and when they are offered for sale they command enormous prices. There are eight of his pictures in the English National Gallery; one of these, the Woman taken in Adultery, formerly in the Orleans collection, sold for £5000.

Rosa da Tivoli unfortunately fell into extravagant and dissipated habits, which frequently caused him great inconvenience. From his facility, he multiplied his pictures to such an extent as greatly to depreciate their value. It is related that he would sit down, when pressed for money, dispatch a large picture in a few hours, and send it directly to be sold at any price. His servant, possessing more discretion than his master, usually paid him the highest price offered by the dealers, and kept the pictures himself, till he could dispose of them to more advantage.

Obelisks belong to the oldest and most simple monuments of Egyptian architecture, and are high four-sided pillars, diminishing as they ascend, and terminating in a small pyramid. Herodotus speaks of them, and Pliny gives a particular account of them. The latter mentions king Mesphres, or Mestres, of Thebes, as the first builder of obelisks, but does not give the time; nor is this king noticed either by Herodotus or Diodorus. It is probable that these monuments were first built before the time of Moses, at least two centuries before the Trojan war.

Bartolomeo Carducci, who was employed in the service of the Spanish court for many years, was expressing one day his admiration of a newly finished picture by a brother artist, when one of his own scholars drew his attention to a badly executed foot. "I did not observe it," replied he, "it is so concealed by the difficult excellence of this bosom and these hands"—a piece of kindly criticism that deserves to be recorded.

One morning, as Brunelleschi was amusing himself on the Piazza di Santa Maria del Fiore, in company with Donatello and other artists, the conversation happened to turn on ancient sculpture. Donatello related that when he was returning from Rome, he had taken the road of Orvieto, to see the remarkable façade of the Cathedral of that city—a highly celebrated work, executed by various masters, and considered in those days a very remarkable production.

This celebrated paintress of fruit and flowers was born at Amsterdam in 1664. She was the daughter of Frederick Ruisch or Ruysch, the celebrated professor of anatomy. She early showed an extraordinary taste for depicting fruit and flowers, and attained to such perfection in her art, that some have not hesitated to equal and even prefer her works to those of John van Huysum. She grouped her flowers in the most tasteful and picturesque manner, and depicted them with a grace and brilliancy that rivalled nature.

"The favorite subjects of Poussin were ancient fables; and no painter was ever better qualified to paint such subjects, not only from his being eminently skilled in the knowledge of the ceremonies, customs, and habits of the ancients, but from his being so well acquainted with the different characters which those who invented them gave to their allegorical figures. Though Rubens has shown great fancy in his Satyrs, Silenuses, and Fauns, yet they are not that distinct, separate class of beings which is carefully exhibited by the ancients, and by Poussin.

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