Page:Life of William Blake 2, Gilchrist.djvu/218

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
160
SELECTIONS FROM BLAKE'S WRITINGS.

practice, or does as Mr. B. has done—has the courage to suffer poverty and disgrace, till he ultimately conquers.

Rubens is a most outrageous demon, and by infusing the remembrances of his Pictures, and style of execution, hinders all power of individual thought: so that the man who is possessed by this demon loses all admiration of any other Artist but Rubens, and those who were his imitators and journeymen. He causes to the Florentine and Roman Artist fear to execute; and, though the original conception was all fire and animation, he loads it with hellish brownness, and blocks up all its gates of light, except one, and that one he closes with iron bars, till the victim is obliged to give up the Florentine and Roman practice, and adopt the Venetian and Flemish.

Correggio is a soft and effeminate and consequently a most cruel demon, whose whole delight is to cause endless labour to whoever suffers him to enter his mind. The story that is told in all Lives of the Painters, about Correggio being poor and but badly paid for his Pictures, is altogether false; he was a petty Prince, in Italy, and employed numerous Journeymen in manufacturing (as Rubens and Titian did) the Pictures that go under his name. The manual labour in these Pictures of Correggio is immense, and was paid for originally at the immense prices that those who keep manufactories of art always charge to their employers, while they themselves pay their journeymen little enough. But, though Correggio was not poor, he will make any true artist so, who permits him to enter his mind and take possession of his affections; he infuses a love of soft and even tints without boundaries, and of endless reflected lights, that confuse one another, and hinder all correct drawing from appearing to be correct; for if one of Raphael's or Michael Angelo's figures was to be traced, and Correggio's reflections and refractions to be added to it, there would soon be an end of proportion and strength, and it would be weak, and pappy, and lumbering, and thick-headed, like his own works; but then it would have softness and evenness, by a twelvemonth's labour, where a month would with judgment have finished it better and higher; and the poor wretch who executed it would be the Correggio that the Life-writers have written of—a drudge and a miserable man, compelled to softness by poverty. I say again, O Artist! you may disbelieve all this, but it shall be at your own peril.

Note.—These experiment Pictures have been bruised and knocked about, without mercy, to try all experiments.