Whether or not Sir Joshua Reynolds is entitled to be ranked among the very greatest painters, there can be no question that he has a place among the most famous, not only on account of his actual painting, but also because of the influence exerted by his whole-hearted devotion to his art, and his strong character in forming, out of such unpromising elements, a really vigorous school of painting in this country. The example he set in the strenuous exercise of his profession, the precepts he laid down for the guidance of students, and the dignity with which he invested the whole practice of painting which, until he came, had degenerated into a mere business, were of incalculable benefit to his own and succeeding ages, and Edmund Burke was paying him no empty compliment but only stating the bare truth when he said that Sir Joshua Reynolds was the first Englishman who added the praise of the elegant arts to the other glories of his country.

Joshua Reynolds was born at Plympton in Devonshire on the 16th July 1723; the son of the Rev. Samuel Reynolds and his wife Theophila Potter. He was on every side connected with the Church, for both his father and his grandfather were in holy orders, his mother was the daughter of a clergyman, and his maternal grandmother also. His father's elder brother, too, was a clergyman, a fellow of Eton College and Canon of St. Peter's, Exeter. So that here, as in Italy, we start with a basis of religion.

The young artist's first essays were made in copying several little things done by his elder sisters, and he afterwards took great delight in copying such prints as he met with in his father's books, particularly those in Plutarch's Lives, and in Jacob Cats's Book of Emblems, which his great-grandmother by his father's side, a Dutch woman, had brought from Holland. When he was only eight years old he read with great avidity a book called The Jesuits Perspective, an architectural, not a religious work, and made himself so completely master of it that he never afterwards had occasion to study any other treatise on the subject. In fact, a drawing which he then made of Plympton School so filled his father with wonder that he said to him, "Now this exemplifies what the author of the Perspective says in his preface—that by observing the rules laid down in his book a man may do wonders, for this is wonderful!"

From these attempts he proceeded to draw likenesses of his friends and relations with tolerable success. But what most strongly confirmed him in his love of the art was Richardson's Treatise on Painting, the perusal of which so delighted and inflamed his mind, that Raphael appeared to him superior to the most illustrious names of ancient or modern times—a notion which he loved to indulge all the rest of his life.

Before he was eighteen years old his father placed him as a pupil with Thomas Hudson, who was then the most distinguished portrait-painter in England; but having some disagreement with his master, the young man returned to Devonshire, where he practised portrait painting with more or less success until in 1749 he accompanied Admiral Keppel to the Mediterranean, and remained for two or three years studying the old masters in Italy.

As this period of Reynold's career had so determining an influence not only on himself but on the whole course of the history of painting in England—inasmuch as it formed the greater part of the groundwork of his discourses when President of the Royal Academy, it is worth having an account of it at first hand from the painter himself. "It has frequently happened," he says, "as I was informed by the Keeper of the Vatican, that many of those whom he had conducted through the various apartments of that edifice when about to be dismissed, have asked for the works of Raphael, and would not believe that they had already passed through the room where they are preserved, so little impression had those performances made on them. One of the first painters now in France once told me that this circumstance happened to himself, though he now looks on Raphael with that veneration which he deserves from all painters and lovers of the art. I remember very well my own disappointment when I first visited the the Vatican: but on confessing my feelings to a brother student, of whose ingenuousness I had a high opinion, he acknowledged that the works of Raphael had the same effect on him, or rather that they did not produce the effect which he expected. This was a great relief to my mind, and on inquiry further of other students I found that those persons only who from natural imbecility appeared to be incapable of ever relishing those divine performances, made pretensions to instantaneous raptures on first beholding them.

"In justice to myself, however, I must add that though disappointed and mortified at not finding myself enraptured with the works of this great master, I did not for a moment conceive or suppose that the name of Raphael, and those admirable paintings in particular, owed their reputation to the ignorance and prejudice of mankind; on the contrary, my not relishing them as I was conscious I ought to have done was one of the most humiliating circumstances that ever happened to me. I found myself in the midst of works executed upon principles with which I was unacquainted: I felt my ignorance, and stood abashed. All the indigested notions of painting which I had brought with me from England where the art was in the lowest state it had ever been in (it could not indeed be lower) were to be totally done away and eradicated from my mind. It was necessary, as it is expressed on a very solemn occasion, that I should become as a little child.

"Notwithstanding my disappointment, I proceeded to copy some of those excellent works. I viewed them again and again; I even affected to feel their merit and to admire them more than I really did. In a short time a new taste and new perceptions began to dawn upon me, and I was convinced that I had originally formed a false opinion of the perfection of art, and that this great painter was well entitled to the high rank which he holds in the estimation of the world."

"When I was at Venice," he writes in a note on Du Fresnoy's Art of Painting about the chiaroscuro of Titian, Paul Veronese and Tintoretto, "the method I took to avail myself of their principles was this. When I observed an extraordinary effect of light and shade in any picture, I took a leaf of my pocket-book and darkened every part of it in the same gradation of light and shade as the picture, leaving the white paper untouched to represent the light, and this without any attention to the subject or to the drawing of the figures. After a few experiments I found the paper blotted nearly alike; their general practice appeared to be to allow not above a quarter of the picture for the light, including in this portion both the principal and secondary lights; another quarter to be as dark as possible, and the remaining half kept in mezzotint or half shadow.

"Rubens appears to have admitted rather more light than a quarter, and Rembrandt much less, scarce an eighth; by this conduct Rembrandt's light is extremely brilliant, but it costs too much, the rest of the picture is sacrificed to this one object."

The results of these studies in Rome and Venice were at once observable on his return to England in the beautiful portrait of Giuseppe Marchi, one of the treasures belonging to the Royal Academy. It was altogether too much for the ignorant British artists, and it excited lively comment. What chiefly attracted the public notice, however, was the whole-length portrait which he painted of his friend and patron Admiral Keppel. On the appearance of this Reynolds was not only universally acknowledged to be at the head of his profession, but to be the greatest painter that England had seen since Van Dyck. The whole interval, as Malone observes, between the time of Charles I. and the conclusion of the reign of George II. seemed to be annihilated, and the only question was whether the new painter or Van Dyck were the more excellent. Reynolds very soon saw how much animation might be obtained by deviating from the insipid manner of his immediate predecessors, and instead of confining himself to mere likeness he dived, as it were, into the minds and habits and manners of those who sat to him, and accordingly the majority of his portraits are so appropriate and characteristic that the many illustrious persons whom he has delineated are almost as well known to us as if we had seen and conversed with them.

Very soon after his return from Italy his acquaintance with Dr Johnson commenced, and their intimacy continued uninterrupted to the time of Johnson's death. How much he profited thereby, especially in the practice of art, he has recorded in a paper which was intended to form a part of one of his discourses. "I remember," he writes, "Mr Burke speaking of the Essays of Sir Francis Bacon, said he thought them the best of his works. Dr Johnson was of opinion 'that their excellence and their value consisted in being the observations of a strong mind operating upon life; and in consequence you find there what you seldom find in other books,' It is this kind of excellence which gives a value to the performances of artists also.... The observations which he made on poetry, on life, and on everything about us, I applied to our art; with what success others must judge. Perhaps an artist in his studies should pursue the same conduct, and instead of patching up a particular work on the narrow plan of imitation, rather endeavour to acquire the art and power of thinking."

In another passage from his memoranda, quoted by Malone, Sir Joshua lets us into some more of the secrets of his pre-eminence in his art, both of painter and preceptor: for we are to remember that the British School of painting owes more to the influence of Reynolds than perhaps any other school to the example of one man:—

"I considered myself as playing a great game," he writes, "and instead of beginning to save money, I laid it out faster than I got it in, purchasing the best examples of art that could be procured; for I even borrowed money for this purpose. The possessing portraits by Titian, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, etc., I considered as the best kind of wealth. By studying carefully the works of great masters, this advantage is obtained—we find that certain niceties of expression are capable of being executed, which otherwise we might suppose beyond the reach of art. This gives us a confidence in ourselves, and we are thus incited to endeavour at not only the same happiness of execution but also at other congenial excellencies. Study indeed consists in learning to see nature, and may be called the art of using other men's minds. By this kind of contemplation and exercise we are taught to think in their way, and sometimes to attain their excellence. Thus, for instance, if I had never seen any of the works of Correggio, I should never perhaps have remarked in nature the expression which I find in one of his pieces; or if I had remarked it I might have thought it too difficult, or perhaps impossible to be executed.

"My success and continual improvement in my art (if I may be allowed that expression), may be ascribed in a good measure to a principle which I will boldly recommend to imitation; I mean the principle of honesty; which in this as in all other instances is according to the vulgar proverb certainly the best policy: I always endeavoured to do my best.

"My principal labour was employed on the whole together, and I was never weary of changing and trying different modes and different effects. I had always some scheme in my mind, and a perpetual desire to advance. By constantly endeavouring to do my best, I acquired a power of doing that with spontaneous facility that which at first was the effort of my whole mind."

"I had not an opportunity of being early initiated in the principles of colouring"; he continues, "no man indeed could teach me. If I have never been settled with respect to colouring, let it at the same time be remembered that my unsteadiness in this respect proceeded from an inordinate desire to possess every kind of excellence that I ever saw in the works of others, without considering that there are in colouring, as in style, excellencies which are incompatible with each other.... I tried every effect of colour, and by leaving out every colour in its turn, showed every colour that I could do without it. As I alternately left out every

National Gallery, London

colour, I tried every new colour; and often, as is well known, failed.... My fickleness in the mode of colouring arose from an eager desire to attain the highest excellence."

In the year 1759 Reynolds began to write, and three of his essays were printed in the Idler, which was conducted by Dr. Johnson. Northcote records that at the same time he committed to paper a variety of remarks which afterwards served him as hints for his discourses. One or two of these will give us as good an idea as we are likely to get from elsewhere of what are the first requisites of a successful painter.

"It is absolutely necessary that a painter, as the first requisite, should endeavour as much as possible to form to himself an idea of perfection not only of beauty, but of what is perfection in a picture. This conception he should always have fixed in his view, and unless he has this view we shall never see any approaches towards perfection in his works; for it will not come by chance.

"If a man has nothing of that which is called genius, that is, if he is not carried away, if I may so say, by the animation, the fire of enthusiasm, all the rules in the world will never make him a painter.

"He who possesses genius is enabled to see a real value in those things which others disregard and overlook. He perceives a difference in cases where inferior capacities see none; as the fine ear for music can distinguish an evident variation in sounds which to another ear more dull seem to be the same. This example will also apply to the eye in respect to colouring."

In the beginning of the year 1760, Reynolds moved into the house on the west side of Leicester Square which he occupied for the rest of his life. It is now tenanted by Messrs. Puttick & Simpson, the Auctioneers. Northcote has usefully recorded the following details his studio. His painting-room was of an octagonal form, about twenty feet long and about sixteen in breath. The window which gave the light to this room was square, and not much larger than one half the size of a common window in a private house, whilst the lower part of this window was nine feet four inches from the floor. The chair for his sitters was raised eighteen inches from the floor, and turned round on castors. His palettes were those which are held by a handle, not those held on the thumb. The sticks of his pencils (brushes) were long, measuring about nineteen inches. He painted in that part of the room nearest the window, and never sat down when he worked. As the actual methods of a great artist are possibly of more value in a history of painting than the subjects, or even the prices, of his pictures, I venture to quote the following extracts from various parts of Sir Joshua's own memoranda:—

Never give the least touch with your pencil (i.e. brush) till you have present in your mind a perfect idea of your future work.

Paint at the greatest possible distance from your sitter, and place the picture ... near to the sitter, or sometimes under him, so as to see both together.

In beautiful faces keep the whole circumference about the eye in a mezzotinto, as seen in the works of Guido and the best of Carlo Maratti.

Endeavour to look at the subject or sitter from which you are painting, as if it was a picture. This will in some degree render it more easy to be copied.

In painting consider the object before you, whatever it may be, as more made out by light and shadow than by lines.

A student should begin his career by a careful finishing and making out the parts; as practice will give him freedom and facility of hand: a bold and unfinished manner is commonly the habit of old age.

On painting a head—

Let those parts which turn or retire from the eye be of broken or mixed colours, as being less distinguished and nearer the borders.

Let all your shadows be of one colour: glaze them till they are so.

Use red colours in the shadows of the most delicate complexions, but with discretion.

Contrive to have a screen with red or yellow colour on it, to reflect the light on the shaded part of the sitter's face.

Avoid the chalk, the brick dust, and the charcoal, and think on a pearl and a ripe peach.

Avoid long continued lines in the eyes, and too many sharp ones.

Take care to give your figure a sweep or sway.

Outlines in waves, soft, and almost imperceptible against the background.

Never make the contour too coarse.

Avoid also those outlines and lines which are equal, which make parallels, triangles, etc.

The parts which are nearest to the eye appear most enlightened, deeper shadowed, and better seen.

Keep broad lights and shadows, and also principal lights and shadows.

Where there is the deepest shadow it is accompanied by the brightest light.

Let nothing start out or be too strong for its place.

Squareness has grandeur; it gives firmness to the forms; a serpentine line in comparison appears feeble and tottering.

One is apt to forget in these enlightened days how greatly the art of painting benefited by the establishment of public exhibitions. Farington's observations on this point, occasioned by the inauguration of the exhibitions at the Society of Arts from 1760, until the foundation of the Royal Academy in 1768, are both instructive and amusing.

"The history of our exhibitions," he says "affords the strongest evidence of their impressive effect upon public taste. At their commencement, though men of enlightened minds could distinguish and appreciate what was excellent, the admiration of the many was confined to subjects either gross or puerile, and commonly to the meanest efforts of intellect; whereas at this time (1819) the whole train of subjects most popular in the earlier exhibitions have disappeared. The loaf and cheese that could provoke hunger, the cat and canary bird, and the dead mackerel on a deal board, have long ceased to produce astonishment and delight; while truth of imitation now finds innumerable admirers though combined with the highest qualities of beauty, grandeur and taste.

"To our public exhibitions, and to arrangements that followed in consequence of their introduction this change must be chiefly attributed. The present generation appears to be composed of a new and, at least with respect to the arts, a superior order of beings. Generally speaking, their thoughts, their feelings and language, differ entirely from what they were sixty years ago. The state of the public mind, incapable of discriminating excellence from inferiority proved incontrovertibly that a right sense of art in the spectator can only be acquired by long and frequent observation, and that without proper opportunities to improve the mind and the eye, a nation would continue insensible of the true value of the fine arts."

In view of these very pertinent observations it is worth inquiring a little as to the origin of exhibitions in England, and the stimulus given by them to British art before the institution of the Royal Academy. From the introduction to book written by Edward Edwards, in continuation of Walpole's "Anecdotes of Painters," and published in 1808, I extract the following account of them, as far as possible using his own quaint phraseology.

Although the study of the human form had long been cultivated and encouraged in Italy and France by national schools or academies, yet in England until the eighteenth century such seminaries were unknown; and it is therefore difficult to trace the origin or ascertain the precise period when those nurseries of art were first attempted in this country, especially as every establishment of that kind was, at first, of a private and temporary nature, depending chiefly upon the protection of some artist of rank and reputation in his day. The first attempt towards the establishment of an academy is mentioned by Walpole as having been formed by several artists under Sir Godfrey Kneller in 1711. Afterwards we find, by other accounts in the same author, which are corroborated by authentic information, that Sir James Thornhill formed an academy in his own house, in the Piazza, Covent Garden. But this was not of long duration, for it commenced in 1724 and died in 1734; which reduced the artists again to seek some new seminary; for the public of that day were so little acquainted with the use of such schools, that they were even suspected of being held for immoral purposes.

After the death of Thornhill a few of the artists (chiefly foreigners), finding themselves without the necessary example of the living model, formed a small society and established their regular meetings of study in a convenient apartment in Greyhound Court, Arundel Street. The principal conductor of this school was Michael Moser, who when the Royal Academy was established was appointed keeper. Here they were visited by artists such as Hogarth, Wills, and Ellis, who were so well pleased with the propriety of their conduct, and so thoroughly convinced of the utility of the institution, that a general union took place, and the members thereby becoming numerous, they required and sought for a more convenient situation and accommodation for their school. By the year 1739 they were settled in Peter's Court, St Martin's Lane, where the study of the human figure was carried on till 1767, when they removed to Pall Mall.

But a permanent and conspicuous establishment was still wanting, and on this account the principal artists had several meetings with a view to forming a public academy. This they did not succeed in doing; but they were so far from being discouraged that they continued their meetings and their studies, and the next effort they made towards acquiring the attention of the public was connected with the Foundling Hospital. This institution was incorporated in 1739, and a few years later the present building was erected; but as the income of the charity could not, with propriety, be expended upon decorations, many of the principal artists of that day voluntarily exerted their talents for the purpose of ornamenting several apartments of the Hospital which otherwise must have remained without decoration. The pictures thus produced, and generously given, were permitted to be seen by any visitor upon proper application. The spectacle was so new that it made a considerable impression upon the public, and the favourable reception these works experienced impressed the artists with an idea of forming a public exhibition, which scheme was carried into full effect with the help of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, who lent their great room for the purpose.

The success of this, the first, public display of art was more than equal to the general expectation. Yet there were some circumstances, consequent to the arrangement of the pictures, with which the artists were very justly dissatisfied; they were occasioned by the following improprieties. The Society in the same year had offered premiums for the best painting of history and landscape, and it was one of the conditions that the pictures produced by the candidates should remain in their great room for a certain time; consequently they were blended with the rest, and formed part of the exhibition. As soon as it was known which performances had obtained the premiums, it was naturally supposed, by such persons who were deficient in judgment, that those pictures were the best in the room, and consequently deserved the chief attention. This partial, though unmerited, selection gave displeasure to the artists in general. Nor were they pleased with the mode of admitting the spectators, for every member of the Society had the discretionary privilege of introducing as many persons as he chose, by means of gratuitous tickets; and consequently the company was far from being select, or suited to the wishes of the exhibition. These circumstances, together with the interference of the Society in the concern of the exhibition, determined the principal artists to withdraw themselves, which they did in the next year.

Encouraged by the success of their first attempt, they engaged the great room in Spring Garden, and their first exhibition at that place opened on the 9th May 1761. Here they found it necessary to change their mode of admission, which they did by making the catalogue the ticket of admission; consequently one catalogue would admit a whole family in succession, for a shilling, which was its price; but this mode of admittance was still productive of crowd and disorder, and it was therefore altered the next year. This exhibition, which was the second in this country, contained several works of the best English artists, among which many of the pictures were equal to any masters then living in Europe; and so strikingly conspicuous were their merits, and so forcible was the effect of this display of art, that it drew from the pen of Roubilliac, the sculptor, the following lines, which were stuck up in the exhibition room, and were also printed in the St James's Chronicle:—

Prétendu Connoiseur qui sur l'Antique glose,
Idolatrant le hom, sans connoitre la Chose,
Vrai Peste des beaux Arts, sans Gout sans Equité,
Quitez ce ton pedant, ce mépris affecté,
Pour tout ce que le Tems n'a pas encore gaté.

Ne peus tu pas, en admirant
Les Maitres de la Grece, ceux d l'Italie
Rendre justice également
A ceux qu'a nourris ta Patrie?

Vois ce Salon, et tu perdras
Cette prévention injuste,
Et bien étonné conviendras
Qu'il ne faut pas qu'un Mecenas
Pour revoir le Siècle d'Auguste.

"In the following season," says Edwards, "they ventured to fix the price of admission at one shilling each person, but had the precaution to affix a conciliatory preface to their catalogue, which was given gratis," As it is becoming more and more usual of late years to preface a catalogue with a signed article, or, as in a recent instance, a facsimile letter, it is interesting to know that this "conciliatory preface" was written by Dr Johnson. As a document its value in the history of the British School of Painting demands its reproduction here in full:—

"The public may justly require to be informed of the nature and extent of every design for which the favour of the public is openly solicited. The artists who were themselves the first promoters of an exhibition in this nation, and who have now contributed to the following catalogue, think it therefore necessary to explain their purpose, and justify their conduct. An exhibition of the works of art being a spectacle new in this kingdom, has raised various opinions and conjectures among those who are unacquainted with the practice in foreign nations. Those who set their performances to general view, have been too often considered as the rivals of each other; as men actuated, if not by avarice, at least by vanity, and contending for superiority of fame, though not for a pecuniary prize. It cannot be denied or doubted, that all who offer themselves to criticism are desirous of praise; this desire is not only innocent but virtuous, while it is undebased by artifice, and unpolluted by envy; and of envy or artifice those men can never be accused, who already enjoying all the honours and profits of their profession are content to stand candidates for public notice, with genius yet unexperienced, and diligence yet unrewarded; who without any hope of increasing their own reputation or interest, expose their names and their works, only that they may furnish an opportunity of appearance to the young, the diffident, and the neglected. The purpose of this exhibition is not to enrich the artist, but to advance the art; the eminent are not flattered with preference, nor the obscure insulted with contempt; whoever hopes to deserve public favour, is here invited to display his merit. Of the price put upon this exhibition some account may be demanded. Whoever sets his work to be shewn, naturally desires a multitude of spectators; but his desire defeats its own end, when spectators assemble in such numbers as to obstruct one another.

"Though we are far from wishing to diminish the pleasures, or to depreciate the sentiments of any class of the community, we know, however, what every one knows, that all cannot be judges or purchasers of works of art. Yet we have already found by experience, that all are desirous to see an exhibition. When the terms of admission were low, our room was throng'd with such multitudes, as made access dangerous, and frightened away those, whose approbation was most desired.

"Yet because it is seldom believed that money is got but for the love of money, we shall tell the use which we intend to make of our expected profits. Many artists of great abilities are unable to sell their works for their due price; to remove this inconvenience, an annual sale will be appointed, to which every man may send his works, and send them, if he will, without his name. These works will be reviewed by the committee that conduct the exhibition; a price will be secretly set on every piece, and registered by the secretary; if the piece exposed for sale is sold for more, the whole price shall be the artist's; but if the purchasers value it at less than

National Gallery, London

the committee, the artist shall be paid the deficiency from the profits of the exhibition."

This mode of admission was found to answer all the wished-for purposes, and the visitors, who were highly respectable, were also perfectly gratified with the display of art, which, for the first time, they beheld with ease and pleasure to themselves.

The exhibition, thus established, continued at Spring Garden Room, under the direction and management of the principal artists by whom it was first promoted, and they were soon also joined by many of those who had continued to exhibit in the Strand (i.e. at the Society of Arts, etc.), which party being mostly composed of young men, and others who chose to become candidates for the premiums given by the Society, thought it prudent to remain under their protection. But the Society finding that those who continued with them began to diminish in their numbers, and that the exhibition interfered with their own concerns, no longer indulged them with the use of their room, and the exhibitions at that place terminated in 1764. These artists, who were mostly the younger part of the profession at that time, thereupon engaged a large room in Maiden Lane, where they exhibited in 1765 and 1766. But this situation not being favourable, they engaged with Mr Christie, in building his room near Pall Mall, and the agreement was that they should have it for their use during one month every year, in the spring. Here they contrived to support a feeble exhibition for eight years, when their engagements interfering with Mr Christie's auctions, he purchased their share of the premises, and they made their last removal to a room in S. Alban's Street, where they exhibited the next season, but never after attempted to attract public notice. It may be observed that while this Society continued there were annually three exhibitions of the works of English artists, namely, the Royal Academy, the Chartered Society, and that last mentioned, the members of which styled themselves the Free Society of Artists. Their exhibition was considerably inferior to those of their rivals. By the Chartered Society, Edwards means the artists who formed the exhibition at the Spring Garden Room, who in 1765 obtained a Charter from the king. Owing partly to internal disagreements, but more no doubt to the foundation of the Royal Academy in 1768, this Society gradually diminished in importance, until Edwards could write of their exhibition in 1791 that "the articles they had then collected were very insignificant, most of which could not be considered as works of art; such as pieces of needlework, subjects in human hair, cut paper, and such similar productions as deserve not the recommendation of a public exhibition,"

To the first exhibition of the Royal Academy, which was opened on the 2nd of January 1769, Reynolds sent three pictures:—

The Duchess of Manchester and her son, as Diana disarming Cupid.

Lady Blake, as Juno receiving the Cestus of Venus.

Miss Morris as Hope nursing Love.

That all of them were, so to speak, "fancy portraits" is not entirely without significance. Portraiture, the painters bread and butter, was apparently deemed hardly suitable for the occasion, and among a list of the pictures which attracted most attention Northcote only includes the portraits of the King and Queen by Nathaniel Dance, Lady Molyneux by Gainsborough, and the Duke of Gloucester by Cotes. The rest are as follows:—The Departure of Regulus from Rome, and Venus lamenting the Death of Adonis, by Benjamin West; Hector and Andromache, and Venus directing Aeneas and Achates, by Angelica Kauffmann; A Piping Boy, and A Candlelight Piece, by Nathaniel Hone; An Altar-Piece of the Annunciation by Cipriani; Hebe, and A Boy Playing Cricket, by Cotes; A landscape by Barrett, and Shakespeare's Black-smith, by Penny.

In all, Reynolds exhibited two hundred and fifty-two pictures during the thirty-two years of his life in which exhibitions existed, namely from 1760 to 1791; of which two hundred and twenty-eight went to the Royal Academy.

Of these, or most of them, ample records and criticisms may be found in the copious literature which has grown up around his name. For our present purpose a glance at his influence, his methods, and his circumstances has seemed to me to be more in point, and as a succinct estimate of the man and his work from one of his most illustrious contemporaries, the following passage may be added by way of conclusion:—

"Sir Joshua Reynolds," wrote Edmund Burke six years after the painter's death, "was on very many accounts one of the most memorable men of his time. He was the first Englishman who added the praise of the elegant arts to the other glories of his country. In taste, in grace, in facility, in happy invention, and in the richness and harmony of colouring, he was equal to the great masters of the renowned ages. In portraiture he went beyond them, for he communicated to that description of the art, in which English artists are the most engaged, a fancy and a dignity derived from the higher branches, which even those who professed, them in a superior manner, did not always preserve when they delineated individual nature. His portraits remind the spectator of the invention of history and the amenity of landscape. In painting portraits he appeared not to be raised upon that platform, but to descend to it from a higher sphere. His paintings illustrate his lessons, and his lessons seem to be derived from his paintings. He possessed the theory as perfectly as the practice of his art. To be such a painter, he was a profound and penetrating philosopher."

Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), whose name we can seldom help thinking of whenever we hear that of Reynolds, was in many ways the very antithesis of his more illustrious rival. In his private life he most certainly was, and so far as his practical influence on his contemporaries is concerned, he is altogether overshadowed by the first President of the Royal Academy. With respect to their works there is a diversity of opinion, and it is largely a matter of personal feeling whether we prefer those of the one or of the other. Both were great artists, and on the common ground of portraiture they contended so equally, and in some cases with such similarity of method, that it is impossible to say impartially which was the greater. How is it possible to decide except on the ground of individual taste, as to whether we would rather lose Gainsborough or Reynolds as a portrait painter, without considering for a moment that the former was a great landscape painter as well? And, putting aside Wilson, whose landscape was essentially Italian, whether executed in Italy or not, the first landscape painter in England was Gainsborough. We are so accustomed to bracket him with Reynolds as a great portrait painter, so thrilled over the sale of a Gainsborough portrait for many thousands of pounds, that we are apt to forget him altogether as a landscape painter. And yet two or three of his best works in the National Gallery are landscapes, and two of them at least famous ones—The Market Cart and The Watering Place. How many more beautiful landscapes by him there must be in existence it is impossible to say, but there can be no doubt that there are not a few which are only waiting their turn for a fashionable market, but are now reposing unappreciated in private hands. In the Metropolitan Museum at New York is a splendid example, the like of which I have never seen in this country, but which is so much closer in feeling to his numerous drawings and sketches in chalk or pencil that it is impossible to believe that no similar examples exist. If we could only bring them to light!

The fact is that the state of society in the middle of the eighteenth century was, with all its brilliance and intellect, the cause of hampering the natural development of the three great painters of that period. Reynolds came back from his stay in Italy an ardent disciple of the grand style, burning to follow the example of Raphael and Michelangelo. Romney, too, was all for Italian art, but looked further back, and worshipped the classics. Gainsborough was a born landscape painter, and his whole time was devoted, when he was not executing commissions for portraits, to making sketches and studies of woods and valleys and trees. But so bent on having their likenesses handed about were the brilliant personages of their time, that Reynolds, Gainsborough and Romney were compelled in spite of themselves to turn their attention to portraiture, to the exclusion of every other branch of their art, and as portrait painters they have made themselves and their country famous.

In the numerous sketches and studies that Gainsborough has left us, we can see how much we have lost in gaining his wonderful portraits. He loved landscape, from his earliest youth to his dying day. Loved it for itself. For among all the drawings of his which I have ever seen, I do not remember one which can be identified as any particular place. In the eighteenth century there was a perfect mania among the smaller fry for making topographical drawings, in pencil or water-colour, views of some town or mountain or castle. But with Gainsborough the place was nothing—it was the spirit of it that charmed him. A cottage in a wood, a glade, a country road, a valley, was to him a beautiful scene, whatever it was called or wherever it happened to be, and out of it accordingly he made a beautiful picture, or at least a drawing. That his pictures of landscape are so extraordinarily few while his drawings are so numerous, may be accounted for in a great measure by the exigences of portrait painting, but not entirely; and the probability is that there are many more which are now forgotten.

For an estimate of Thomas Gainsborough both in regard to his place in the story of the English School and to the abilities and methods by which he attained it, it is needless to look elsewhere than to that of Sir Joshua Reynolds, contained in the discourse delivered shortly after Gainsborough's death:—

"When such a man as Gainsborough rises to great fame without the assistance of an academical education, without travelling to Italy, or any of those preparatory studies which have been so often recommended, he is produced

National Gallery, London

as an instance how little such studies are necessary, since so great excellence may be acquired without them. This is an inference not warranted by the success of any individual, and I trust that it will not be thought that I wish to make this use of it.

"It must be remembered that the style and department of art which Gainsborough chose, and in which he so much excelled, did not require that he should go out of his own country for the objects of his study; they were everywhere about him; he found them in the streets, and in the fields; and from the models thus accidentally found he selected with great judgment such as suited his purpose. As his studies were directed to the living world principally, he did not pay a general attention to the works of the various masters, though they are, in my opinion, always of great use even when the character of our subject requires us to depart from some of their principles. It cannot be denied that excellence in the department of the art which he professed may exist without them, that in such subjects and in the manner that belongs to them the want of them is supplied, and more than supplied, by natural sagacity and a minute observation of particular nature. If Gainsborough did not look at nature with a poet's eye, it must be acknowledged that he saw her with the eye of a painter; and gave a faithful, if not a poetical, representation of what he had before him.

"Though he did not much attend to the works of the great historical painters of former ages, yet he was well aware that the language of the art—the art of imitation—must be learned somewhere; and as he knew he could not learn it in an equal degree from his contemporaries, he very judiciously applied himself to the Flemish school, who are undoubtedly the greatest masters of one necessary branch of art, and he did not need to go out of his country for examples of that school; from that he learned the harmony of colouring, the management and disposition of light and shadow, and every means of it which the masters practised to ornament and give splendour to their works. And to satisfy himself, as well as others, how well he knew the mechanism and artifice which they employed to bring out that tone of colour which we so much admire in their works, he occasionally made copies from Rubens, Teniers and Van Dyck, which it would be no disgrace to the most accurate connoisseur to mistake at the first sight for the works of those masters. What he thus learned he applied to the originals of nature, which he saw with his own eyes, and imitated not in the manner of those masters but in his own.

"Whether he most excelled in portraits, landscapes, or fancy pictures, it is difficult to determine; whether his portraits were most admirable for exact truth of resemblance, or his landscapes for a portrait-like representation of nature, such as we see in the works of Rubens, Ruisdael, or others of those schools. In his fancy pictures, when he had fixed on his object of imitation, whether it was the mean and vulgar form of the woodcutter, or a child of an interesting character, as he did not attempt to raise the one, so neither did he lose any of the natural grace and elegance of the other; such a grace and such an elegance as are more frequently found in cottages than in courts. This excellence was his own, the result of his particular observation and taste; for this he was certainly not indebted to the Flemish school, nor indeed to any school; for his grace was not academic, or antique, but selected by himself from the great school of nature....

"Upon the whole we may justly say that whatever he attempted he carried to a high degree of excellence. It is to the credit of his good sense and judgment that he never did attempt that style of historical painting for which his previous studies had made no preparation.

"The peculiarity of his manner or style," Reynolds continues a little later, "or we may call it the language in which he expressed his ideas, has been considered by many as his greatest defect.... A novelty and peculiarity of manner, as it is often a cause of our approbation, so likewise it is often a ground of censure, as being contrary to the practice of other painters, in whose manner we have been initiated, and in whose favour we have perhaps been prepossessed from our infancy: for fond as we are of novelty, we are upon the whole creatures of habit. However, it is certain that all those odd scratches and marks which on a close examination are so observable in Gainsborough's pictures, and which even to experienced painters appear rather the effect of accident than design; this chaos, this uncouth and shapeless appearance, by a kind of magic, at a certain distance assumes form, and all the parts seem to drop into their proper places; so that we can hardly refuse acknowledging the full effect of diligence under the appearance of chance and hasty negligence.

"That Gainsborough himself considered this peculiarity in his manner, and the power it possesses of exciting surprise, as a beauty in his works, I think may be inferred from the eager desire which we know he always expressed, that his pictures at the exhibition should be seen near as well as at a distance.

"The slightness which we see in his best works cannot always be imputed to negligence. However they may appear to superficial observers, painters know very well that a steady attention to the general effect takes up more time and is much more laborious to the mind than any mode of high finishing or smoothness without such attention. His handling, the manner of leaving the colours, or, in other words, the methods he used for producing the effect, had very much the appearance of the work of an artist who had never learnt from others the usual and regular practice belonging to the art; but still, like a man of strong intuitive perception of what was required, he found a way of his own to accomplish his purpose."

To Reynolds's opinion of this technique as applied to portraits, we may listen with even more attention. "It must be allowed," he continues, "that this hatching manner of Gainsborough did very much contribute to the lightness of effect which is so eminent a beauty in his pictures; as, on the contrary, much smoothness and uniting the colours is apt to produce heaviness. Every artist must have remarked how often that lightness of hand which was in his dead-colour (or first painting) escaped in the finishing when he had determined the parts with more precision; and another loss which he often experiences, which is of greater consequence: while he is employed in the detail, the effect of the whole together is either forgotten or neglected. The likeness of a portrait, as I have formerly observed, consists more in preserving the general effect of the countenance than in the most minute finishing of the features or any of the particular parts. Now, Gainsborough's portraits were often little more in regard to finishing or determining the form of the features, than what generally attends a first painting; but as he was always attentive to the general effect, or whole together, I have often imagined that this unfinished manner contributed even to that striking resemblance for which his portraits are so remarkable."