criticavit Jonathan Richardson, 1719

“Painting is another sort of Writing, and is subservient to the Same Ends that of her younger Sister ; That by Characters can communicate Some Ideas which the Hieroglyphic kind cannot, As This in other respect supplies its Defects ;

And the Ideas thus convey’d to us have This advantage, They come not by Slow Progression of Words, or in a Language peculiar to One Nation only ; but with such a Velocity, and in a Manner so Universally understood that ‘tis something like Intuition, or Inspiration ; As the Art by which ‘tis effected resembles Creation; Things so considerable, and of so great a Price, being produced out Materials so Inconsiderable, of a Value next to nothing.

What a Tedious thing would it be to describe by Words the View of a Countrey, (that from Greenwich hill for instance) and how imperfect an Idea must we receive from hence ! Painting shews the thing Immediately, and Exactly. No Words can give you an Idea of the Face, and Person of one you have never seen.
As the business of Painting is to Raise, and Improve Nature, it answers to Poetry ; (tho’ upon Occasion it can also be Strictly Historical) And as it serves to the Other, more Noble End, this Hieroglyphic Language completes what Words, or Writing began, and Sculpture carried on, and Thus perfects all that Humane Nature is capable of in the communication of Ideas ‘till we arrive to a more Angelical, and Spiritual State in another World.

I believe it will be unacceptable to my Readers if I illustrate what I have been saying by Examples, and the rather because they are Curious, and very little Known.


Painting is but another Sort of Writing, but like the Hireoglyphicks anciently ‘tis Character not for the Vulgar : To read it, is not only to know that ‘tis such a Story, or such a Man, but to see the Beauties of the Thought, and Pencil ; of the Colouring, and Composition ; the Expression, Grace, and Greatness that is to be find in it : and not to be able to do This is a Sort of Illiterature, and Unpoliteness.

And accordingly in Conversation (when as it frequently does) it turns upon Painting, a Gentleman that is a Connoisseur is distinguish’d, as one that has Wit, and Learning is ; That being the Subject of Discourse.

On the contrary, Not to be a Connoisseur on such occasions either Silences a Gentleman, and Hurts his Character ; Or he makes a much Worse Figure in pretending to be what he is Not to those who see his Ignorance. See you not (said Apelles to Megabyse Priest of Diana) that the Boys that grind my Colours, who whilst you are Silent look upon with Respect because of the Gold, and Purple of your Garments, no sooner hear you Talk of what you Understand Not but they Laugh at you.

Those who are Connoisseur have this farther Advantage ; They will have no occasions to Ask, or Rely upon the Judgment of Others ; They can Judge for Themselves.”

Jonathan Richardson The Elder (1665-1745), A Discourse on the Digninity, Certainty, Pleasure and Advantage of the Science of a Connoisseur, 1719, p. 17-18, 25-26, 221-223.

En haut à gauche : Self Portrait Wearing a Cloth Hat, 1730-35, Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum

Aucun commentaire:

Enregistrer un commentaire