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Painting

Pliny asserts that an ingenious artist wrote the whole of the Iliad on so small a piece of parchment that it might be enclosed within the compass of a nut-shell. Cicero also records the same thing. This doubtless might be done on a strip of thin parchment, and rolling it compactly.

In 1612, at the age of eighteen, Poussin went to Paris in search of improvement, where he devoted himself to studying the best works to which he could gain access (for the fine arts were then at a low ebb in France) with the greatest assiduity. In 1620, according to Felibien, the Jesuits celebrated the canonization of the founder of their order, Ignatius Loyola and St. Francis Xavier, on which occasion they determined to display a series of pictures by the first artists in Paris, representing the miracles performed by their patron saints.

Very few female portraits are found in the Spanish collections. Their painters were seldom brought in professional contact with the beauty of high-born women—the finest touchstone of professional skill—and their great portrait painters lived in an age of jealous husbands, who cared not to set off to public admiration the charms of their spouses. Velasquez came to reside at court about the same time that Madrid was visited by Sir Kenelm Digby, who had like to have been slain the first night of his arrival, for merely looking at a lady.

Matias de Torres, a Spanish painter, affected the style of Caravaggio. His compositions were half veiled in thick impenetrable shadows, which concealed the design, and sometimes left the subject a mystery. Francisco de Solis was standing before one of them, in the church of Victory at Madrid, representing a scene from the life of St. Diego, and was asked to explain the subject depicted. "It represents," said the witty painter, "San Brazo," St. Arm, nothing being distinguished but the arm of a mendicant in the background.

This famous lake, according to Herodotus, with whose account Diodorus Siculus and Mela agree, was entirely an artificial excavation, made by king Moeris, to carry off the overflowing waters of the Nile, and reserve them for the purposes of irrigation. It was, in the time of Herodotus, 3,600 stadia or 450 miles in circumference, and 300 feet deep, with innumerable canals and reservoirs. Denon, Belzoni, and other modern travelers, describe it at the present time as a natural basin, thirty or forty miles long, and six broad.

The Capitol or Citadel of ancient Rome stood on the Capitoline hill, the smallest of the seven hills of Rome, called the Saturnine and Tarpeian rock. It was begun B.C. 614, by Tarquinius Priscus, but was not completed till after the expulsion of the kings. After being thrice destroyed by fire and civil commotion, it was rebuilt by Domitian, who instituted there the Capitoline games.

Poussin not only studied every vestige of antiquity at Rome and in its environs, with the greatest assiduity while young, but he followed this practice through life.

This celebrated Italian paintress was born at Chiozza, near Venice, in 1675. She acquired an immense reputation, and was invited to several of the courts of Europe. Few artists have equalled Rosalba in crayon painting.

"When the haughty and able Pope Innocent III. caused Cardinal Langton to be elected Archbishop of Canterbury in despite of King John, and compelled him to submit, to appease the latter and to admonish him, his Holiness presented him with four golden rings, set with precious stones, at the same time taking care to inform him of the many mysteries implied in them.

While Poussin resided at Paris, his talents, and the endowments of his mind procured him the esteem of several men of letters and distinction, among whom was the Cav. Marino, the celebrated Italian poet, who happened then to be in Paris. Marino strongly urged him to accompany him to Rome, an invitation which Poussin would gladly have accepted, had he not then been engaged in some commissions of importance, which having completed, he set out for Rome in 1624, where he was warmly received by his friend Marino, who introduced him to the Cardinal Barberini.

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