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Sculpture

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.

The Gallery of Dresden is well known to most amateurs from the engravings which have been made of many of its most capital pictures. In the works of Correggio it stands preëminent above all others; and although some of these have suffered by injudicious cleaning, still they are by Correggio. In the works of Titian, Raffaelle, Lionardo da Vinci, Parmiggiano, Andrea del Sarto, the Caracci, Guido, &c., it holds also a high place; while it is rich in the works of the Flemish and Dutch masters.

Public Galleries of Art are now regarded by the most enlightened men, and the wisest legislators, as of incalculable benefit to every civilized country. (See vol. i., page 6, of this work.) They communicate to the mind, through the eye, "the accumulated wisdom of ages," relative to every form of beauty, in the most rapid and captivating manner.

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.

This extraordinary artist was born at Nuremberg in 1471. His father was a skillful goldsmith, from Hungary, and taught his son the first rudiments of design, intending him for his own profession; but his early and decided inclination for the arts and sciences induced him to permit young Durer to follow the bent of his genius. He received his first instruction in painting and engraving from Martin Hapse.

John Griffier, a Dutch painter of celebrity, went to London in 1667, where he met with great encouragement. While there he painted many views on the Thames, and in order to observe nature more attentively, he bought a yacht, embarked his family, and spent his whole time on the river. After several years he sailed for Holland in his frail craft but was wrecked in the Texel, where, after eight days of suffering, he and his family barely escaped with their lives, having lost all his paintings, and the fruits of his industry. This mishap cured him of his passion for the sea.

The antiquity of painting, as well as of sculpture, among the Egyptians, is sunk in fable. Yet it is certain that they made little or no progress in either art. Plato, who flourished about 400 B.C., says that the art of painting had been practiced by the Egyptians upwards of ten thousand years, and that there were existing in that country paintings of that high antiquity, which were neither inferior to, nor very different from, those executed by the Egyptian artists in his own time.

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