Page:Life of William Blake 2, Gilchrist.djvu/194
SELECTIONS FROM BLAKE'S WRITINGS.
NUMBER II:—ITS COMPANION.
The Spiritual Form of Pitt guiding Behemoth; he is that Angel who, pleased to perform the Almighty's orders, rides on the whirlwind, directing the storms of war; He is ordering the Reaper to reap the Vine of the Earth, and the Ploughman to plough tip the Cities and Towers.
This Picture also is a proof of the power of colours unsullied with oil or with any cloggy vehicle. Oil has falsely been supposed to give strength to colours: but a little consideration must show the fallacy of this opinion. Oil will not drink or absorb colour enough to stand the test of very little time and of the air. It deadens every colour it is mixed with, at its first mixture, and in a little time becomes a yellow mask over all that it touches. Let the works of modern Artists since Rubens' time witness the villany of some one at that time, who first brought Oil Painting into general opinion and practice: since which we have never had a Picture painted that could show itself by the side of an earlier production. Whether Rubens or Vandyke, or both, were guilty of this villany, is to be inquired in another work on Painting, and who first forged the silly story and known falsehood about John of Bruges inventing oil-colours: in the meantime let it be observed, that before Vandyke's time and in his time all the genuine Pictures are on Plaster or Whiting grounds, and none since.
The two Pictures of Nelson and Pitt are compositions of a mythological cast, similar to those Apotheoses of Persian, Hindoo, and Egyptian Antiquity, which are still preserved on rude monuments, being copies from some stupendous originals now lost, or perhaps buried till some happier age. The Artist having been taken in vision into the ancient republics, monarchies, and patriarchates of Asia, has seen those wonderful originals, called in the Sacred Scriptures the Cherubim, which were sculptured and painted on walls of Temples, Towers, Cities, Palaces, and erected in the highly cultivated States of Egypt, Moab, Edom, Aram, among the Rivers of Paradise—being originals from which the Greeks and Hetrurians copied Hercules Farnese, Venus of Medicis, Apollo Belvedere, and all the grand works of ancient art. They were executed in a very superior style to those justly admired copies, being with their accompaniments terrific and grand in the highest degree. The Artist has endeavoured