Page:Life of William Blake 2, Gilchrist.djvu/195

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141
DESCRIPTIVE CATALOGUE.

to emulate the grandeur of those seen in his vision, and to apply it to modern Heroes, on a smaller scale.

No man can believe that either Homer's Mythology, or Ovid's, was the production of Greece, or of Latium; neither will any one believe that the Greek statues, as they are called, were the invention of Greek Artists; perhaps the Torso is the only original work remaining; all the rest are evidently copies, though fine ones, from greater works of the Asiatic Patriarchs. The Greek Muses are daughters of Mnemosyne or Memory, and not of Inspiration or Imagination, therefore not authors of such sublime conceptions. Those wonderful originals seen in my visions were some of them one hundred feet in height; some were painted as pictures, and some carved as basso-relievos, and some as groups of statues, all containing mythological and recondite meaning, where more is meant than meets the eye. The Artist wishes it was now the fashion to make such monuments, and then he should not doubt of having a national commission to execute these two Pictures on a scale that is suitable to the grandeur of the nation, who is the parent of his heroes, in high-finished fresco, where the colours would be as pure and as permanent as precious stones though the figures were one hundred feet in height.

All Frescoes are as high-finished as miniatures or enamels, and they are known to be unchangeable; but oil, being a body itself, will drink or absorb very little colour, and, changing yellow, and at length brown, destroys every colour it is mixed with, especially every delicate colour. It turns every permanent white to a yellow and brown putty, and has compelled the use of that destroyer of colour, white-lead, which, when its protecting oil is evaporated, will become lead again. This is an awful thing to say to Oil Painters; they may call it madness, but it is true. All the genuine old little Pictures, called Cabinet Pictures, are in fresco and not in oil. Oil was not used, except by blundering ignorance, till after Vandyke's time; but the art of fresco-painting being lost, oil became a fetter to genius and a dungeon to art. But one convincing proof among many others that these assertions are true is, that real gold and silver cannot be used with oil, as they are in all the old pictures and in Mr. B.'s frescoes.