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the writer who has excited the recollection, the contemptuous
application to the pretender of the fable of the mountain and the
mouse. Mr. Dunlap, however, need apprehend no such fate,
although the aspect of his title-page is more imposing than the
character of his work, for one especial reason. He contrives to
keep his readers in such good humour, for the most part, by the
amusement which his pages afford, that it would be almost im-
possible for them to deal severely with his authorship. The
“goddess fair and free,” yelept Euphrosyne in heaven, accord-
ing to Milton, and on earth, heart easing mirth, is, after all, the
lady who possesses the greatest attractions for the mass; and
he who introduces us intimately to her acquaintance, is most
likely to be rewarded with our kindliest feelings. The sternest
pedagogue can scarcely inflict a merited castigation upon a wag-
gish urchin, however mischievous or lazy; and the fiercest critic,
with a heart at other times unknowing how to yield, becomes
transformed into a paragon of indulgence, by the omnipotent
power of a laugh.
It is nevertheless the fact, that Mr. Dunlap's execution of his
task is by no means deserving of unqualified praise. Horace
Walpole called his work on British art, “Anecdotes of Paint-
ing,” and our author, in the same way, might have entitled his
production “Anecdotes of Painters, Sculptors, Architects, and
Engravers, and of any and every body who has had the remotest
connexion with the Arts of Design in the United States.” Such
is unquestionably its true description. There is little of the dig-
nity of history in its gossiping chapters, and much more informa-
tion is communicated about the men than the artists. Greater
pains are taken to amuse us with traits and eccentricities of per-
sonal character, than to acquaint us with professional peculiarities.
The original critical portions are for the most part meagre and
unsatisfactory, and almost altogether devoid of the chiaro-oscuro
of criticism, if we may so speak. They are generally all light
or all shade—all praise or all blame. The volumes, however,
contain a great deal of valuable matter, calculated to render them
admirable Mémoires pour servir, and Mr. Dunlap merits grati-
tude for the industry and perseverance with which he has sought
information from the most authentic sources. Few living Ame-
rican artists of any note seem to have escaped his call for con-
tribution to his pages. In most instances they have complied
with his request, and those who refused, after being well bela-
boured for their modesty, are dragged into notoriety in their own
despite. With these he must settle the matter as he may, though
we do not believe they will be very much incensed, if there be
truth in Peter Pindar’s exclamation:

“What rage for fame attends both great and small!
Better be d–d than mentioned not at all.”

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The first pioneer of the art mentioned by Mr. Dunlap, is John Watson, a Scotchman, who came to the American colonies in 1715, and settled in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, the native place of the author. He painted portraits with such success as to acquire a considerable share of the good things of this life, a circumstance which induced some of his relations to hearken to his solicitations to join him in the land of his adoption, “notwithstanding,” says Mr. Dunlap, “that attachment to their soil which distinguishes his countrymen.” If our author be right in attributing this characteristic so especially to the sons of the “land o' cakes,” there is not so much truth as is imagined in the saying, that an Englishman is never happy but when he is miserable, an Irishman never at peace but when he is at war, and a Scotchman never at home but when he is abroad. It is usually supposed, we believe, that even the crania of our Yankee brethren do not exhibit so decided a development of the bump of peregrination, as those of the worthy inhabitants of the country in question, where, in the phrase of one of them assigning his reason for sojourning in foreign parts, “although every thing is unco plenty and cheap, the saxpences are unco scarce.” Mr. Watson lived to the age of eighty-three, and must consequently have produced no small number of works, but none, either of them, or of the pictures which he brought into this country, can now be found. Mr. Dunlap nevertheless thinks that no one who has duly considered the subject of cause and effect will doubt, that he had and continues to have an influence on the progress of the arts in the United States. He is even inclined to ascribe the writing of the present work to the emigration of Mr. Watson, but the consideration that we have been enabled to give “to the subject of cause and effect,” has not been adequate to satisfy our minds completely upon that point, and we therefore leave it to the cogitations of those who may deem it indispensable to be settled.

Whilst Mr. Watson was transferring the faces of the Perth Amboyites to his glowing canvass, another of Scotland’s offspring was performing a similar service for the good people of New Eng: land. This was John Smybert, who came to Rhode Island in 1738 with Bishop Berkeley, when this genuine specimen of episcopal excellence, in whom shone “every virtue under heaven,” was upon his philanthropic expedition for establishing an American university. Here Mr. Dunlap favours us with several pages of extracts from different sources in relation to the illustrious bishop, which do not seem to throw any particular light upon the history of the Arts of Design, any further than that the artist by whom he was accompanied, painted a picture of him and his family, now in the possession of Yale College, which is eulogized in lofty terms. Smybert, according to a good authority, was not

WOL. XVII.-No. 33. 19


an artist of the first rank; but the best portraits of the eminent magistrates and divines of New England and New York, who lived between 1725 and 1751, are from his pencil. His influence upon the arts in this country is affirmed to be powerful and lasting, and to have especially operated upon Copley, Trumbull, and Allston. The last named gentleman expresses his gratitude in a letter to a friend, for the instruction which he derived from a copy by Smybert in the college library, Cambridge, of the head of Cardinal Bentivoglio by Vandyke, which he obtained permission to take, one winter vacation. At that time, he says, Smybert’s work seemed perfection to him, but he adds that he had to alter his notions of perfection when he saw the original, some years afterwards. Well he might, for a copy that should convey a perfect idea of that splendid production, must be executed by the hand of a kindred genius. Technical skill might counterfeit the features, and even reproduce the enchantment of the colouring, but “the mind, the music breathing from the face,” demand the inspiration which no labour can acquire. Well do we recollect that exquisite “mocking of the life,” if it be not derogatory so to entitle what might be mistaken for life itself. Few of the master-pieces of portraiture which it has been our good fortune to behold, excited more pleasure and admiration at the moment of witnessing it, and left a more vivid impression. Smybert died in Boston in 1751, leaving two children, one of whom, Nathaniel, gave flattering promise of excellence in his father’s art, which was destroyed by a premature death. Other painters are mentioned by Mr. Dunlap as contemporaries of the aforesaid artists, in different portions of the country, whom, perhaps, it may be as well for their reputations to forget as to remember. One of them, however, named Williams, an Englishman, who was settled in Philadelphia, possesses an adventitious claim to recollection, from the circumstance of his having afforded assistance and instruction to the first native American artist of celebrity in point of time, and certainly not the last in point of merit. We mean Benjamin West. The details of the career of this remarkable man must be so familiar to our readers, as to render it a work of supererogation to record them here, even if we had space for the purpose. His humble birth, in an obscure settlement, where civilization had advanced scarcely farther than the threshold ; the singular precocity of his imitative talent; the irresistible strength of his vocation, which overcame every impediment, even the uncompromising spirit of sectarian prejudice; the kind friends whom he was so fortunate as to encounter, who fostered his genius and contributed the means of enabling him to cultivate it to the utmost in the richest school of art; the sensation which he excited


in Italy, both by the anomaly at that period of a young American’s
repairing thither to acquire excellence with the pencil, and the
merit of the works which he produced ; his subsequent success
in England, where he elevated himself to a friendly communion
with royalty, and what was a far more honourable testimony to
his character, was raised by his fellow-artists to the loftiest sta-
tion amongst them, the Presidential chair of their academy, and
where he died, full of honours and of years—all this might almost
be called one of our school-boy lessons, so proud do we naturally
and properly feel that our Temple of Fame should so soon have
had one of its most eminent niches filled in a department which,
in the progress of other nations, has generally been long unoc-
cupied; and so inspiriting is the lesson which it inculcates, of the
admirable results of industry and virtue and perseverance, no
matter what the obstacles through which they may be obliged
to force their way.
Worthy, however, of honour and panegyric as we consider
West to be, we cannot subscribe to all the eulogies heaped upon
him by Mr. Dunlap, with undiscriminating profusion. One
might imagine, from the pages before us, that the artist in ques-
tion was a condensation, as it were, of all the various and noblest
attributes of the painters of ancient and modern times—a sort of
focus to which all the brightest rays of art had been drawn, emit-
ting a warmth and light such as never had been imparted before.
The biography is a perfect glorification, as far, at least, as respects
our author's share of it, which, to be sure, is not the largest.
The whole, in fact, resembles a piece of Mosaic work, not very
cunningly managed, much more than a harmonious portrait on
canvass, extracts without stint from other books, communica-
tions from individuals, and original observations, tumbling over
one another in most delightful confusion.
The merits of West seem to us to be better calculated to at-
tract the artist than the mere amateur. In the excellence of his
composition and the correctness of his design, there is much that
the former must love to contemplate, for purposes both of gra-
tification and instruction; but admirable as those qualities are,
they cannot be duly appreciated and enjoyed by the unscientific,
when not befriended in just proportion by one or another of the
two requisites most essential for communicating general delight,
in which he was deficient—expression and colouring. He nei-
ther enthrals the mind, nor fascinates the eye. His is not the
magic pencil around which the passions throng, nor that which
is dipped in the hues of the rainbow. He rarely if ever “glo-
riously offends,” or snatches a grace which uninspired art may
not reach. Soul is wanting there, and the most attractive qua-
lity, upon canvass, of body likewise. Take, for instance, his cele-
brated work belonging to the Hospital of Philadelphia, Christ

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healing the sick, and what are the effects which it is fitted to produce? It is doubtless skilfully and judiciously composed, and the figures are well drawn, but is not your eye immediately repelled by the want of morbidezza in the tone, by the hardness of the

outlines, exhibiting the work of the pencil as distinctly as that of

the brush, and destroying all illusion by the evidence thus afford-
ed, that the personages before you were born not of women, but of
the artist’s hand, and by the absence of that genial glow of com-
plexion which seems to indicate the active current of the life-
streams beneath? Is one inspiring idea excited in your mind,
one powerful emotion awakened in your bosom, by the sublimity
and pathos of the subject? Does the head of the Saviour prompt
you to adoration, and gratitude, and love 2 do you commiserate
the sufferings of the sick man, or rejoice in the release which he
is about to obtain? do you sympathize with the distress of the
mother, desiring yourself to wipe away that tear which seems
not to have dropped from her eye, but to have been placed on
her cheek for the occasion ? do you second the father's prayer for
his daughter’s restoration to sight? or are you horrified by the
malignant hatred and covert rage of the priests, or shocked by
the contortions of the demoniac boy? Imagine the same scene
depicted by Raphael. What dignity inspiring homage, what
compassion inducing love, would have been blended in the per-
son of the Redeemer—what strength and diversity of sentiment
would have been imparted to the apostles, the disciples, the
priests, and the gazing crowd—what depth of parental and filial
love, illumined by hope and yet tempered by awe, would have
been impressed upon the countenances of those soliciting his
mercy for their afflicted kindred—what commingling of physical
infirmity with moral elevation would have been portrayed in the
expectants of divine bounty—how vividly would the whole spec-
tacle have spoken of helpless humanity and celestial power and
goodness! The group of which the demoniac boy is the chief
figure, is a strong reminiscence of the one of the same nature in
the Transfiguration; the woman looking at the Saviour and point-
ing to the possessed behind her, is almost a copy; but what a
difference between her unmeaning, and we must say, rather vulgar
physiognomy, and the striking countenance of Raphael’s creation,
so admirably contrasted with that heavenly face of the other fe-
male, who is looking upon the poor boy with such indescribable
feeling !
In making these remarks, we must be understood as speaking
relatively. We are far from asserting that the picture is alto-
gether devoid of expression. It affords abundant evidence that
the author knew what ought to be done. Every one of the
figures indicates the right intention, but in none of them is the
deed as good as the will. The impression which they are de-

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