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Painting

In 1593 the Emperor of Morocco applied to Philip II. for the loan of a painter, to which the latter made answer that they had in Spain two sorts of painters—the ordinary and the excellent—and desired to know which his infidel brother preferred. "Kings should always have the best," replied the Moor; and so Philip sent him Blas de Prado to Fez. There he painted various works for the palace, and a portrait of the monarch's daughter, to the great satisfaction of her father.

In 1639, Poussin was invited to Paris by Louis XIII., who honored him on this occasion with the following autograph letter, which was an extraordinary and unusual homage to art:

"Dear and well beloved,

"Painting is an imitation by means of lines and colors, on some superfices, of everything that can be seen under the sun; its end is to please.

Principles that every man capable of reasoning may learn:—There can be nothing represented,

  • Without light,
  • Without form,
  • Without color,
  • Without distance,
  • Without an instrument, or medium.

Things which are not to be learned, and which make an essential part of painting.

The pyramids of Egypt, especially the two largest of the group of Jizeh or Gize, are the most stupendous masses of buildings in stone that human labor has ever been known to accomplish, and have been the wonder of ancient and modern times.—The number of the Egyptian pyramids, large and small, is very considerable; they are situated on the west bank of the Nile, and extend in an irregular line, and in groups at some distance from each other, from the neighborhood of Jizeh, in 30° N. Latitude, as far as sixty or seventy miles south of that place.

Homer represents the Harpies as the rapacious goddesses of the storms, residing near the Erinnyes, or the Ocean, before the jaws of hell. If any person was so long absent from home that it was not known what had become of him, and he was supposed to be dead, it was commonly said, "The Harpies have carried him off." Hesiod represents them as young virgins of great beauty.

This wonderful genius was of royal descent, and born at Syracuse about B.C. 287. He was a relative of king Hiero, who held him in the highest esteem and favor, though he does not appear to have held any public office, preferring to devote himself entirely to science. Such was his enthusiasm, that he appears at times to have been so completely absorbed in contemplation and calculations, as to be totally unconscious of what was passing around him.

Sebastian Gomez, the mulatto slave of Murillo, is said to have become enamored of art while performing the menial offices of his master's studio. Like Erigonus, the color grinder of Nealces, or like Pareja, the mulatto of Velasquez, he devoted his leisure to the secret study of the principles of drawing, and in time acquired a skill with the brush rivalled by few of the regular scholars of Murillo.

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.

This Spanish painter was a favorite with King Charles II. He was painting his Majesty's portrait one day in the presence of the Queen mother, when the royal sitter asked him to which of the knightly orders he belonged. "To none," replied the artist, "but the order of your Majesty's servants." "Why is this?" said Charles. The Admiral of Castile, who was standing by, replied that he should have a cross immediately; and on leaving the royal presence, he sent Carreño a rich badge of Santiago, assuring him that what the king had said entitled him to wear it.

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.

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