Page images

exhausted. Our art, like all arts which address the imagination, is applied to somewhat a lower faculty of the mind, which approaches nearer to sensuality; but through sense and fancy it must make its way to reason ; for such is the

progress of thought, that we perceive by sense, we combine by fancy, and distinguish by reason : and without carrying our art out of its natural and true character, the more we purify it from every thing that is gross in sense, in that proportion we advance its use and dignity; and in proportion as we lower it to mere sensuality, we pervert its nature and degrade it from the rank of a liberal art; and this is

artist ought well to remember. Let him remember also, that he deserves just so much encouragement in the state as he makes himself a member of it virtuously useful, and contributes in his sphere to the general purpose and perfection of society.


what every

The Art which we profess has beauty for its object; this it is our business to discover and to express; the beauty of which we are in quest is general and intellectual; it is an idea that subsists only in the mind;

the sight never beheld it, nor has the hand expressed it: it is an idea residing in the breast of the artist, which he is always labouring to impart, and which he dies at last without imparting ; but which he is yet so far able to communicate, as to raise the thoughts, and extend the views of the

specand which, by a succession of art, may


be so far diffused, that its effects may extend themselves imperceptibly into publick benefits, and be among the means of bestowing on whole nations refinement of taste : which, if it does not lead directly to purity of manners, obviates at least their greatest depravation, by disentangling the mind from appetite, and conducting the thoughts through successive stages of excellence, till that contemplation of universal rectitude and harmony which began by Taste, may, as it is exalted and refined, conclude in Virtue,






DECEMBER 11. 1780.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

GENTLEMEN, I shall now, as it has been customary on this day, and on this occasion, communicate to you such observations as have occurred to me on the Theory of Art.

If these observations have hitherto referred principally to Painting, let it be remembered that this Art is much more extensive and complicated than Sculpture, and affords therefore a more ample field for criticism ; and as the greater includes the less, the leading principles of Sculpture are comprised in those of Painting.

However, I wish now to make some remarks with particular relation to Sculp

« PreviousContinue »