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GEOGRAPHY.

Memoir concerning a New Chart of the Cafpian Sea. By M. D' ANVILLE. This Memoir is defigned to rectify, in fome points, the famous chart of the Cafpian Sea, fent to the Academy by Czar Peter the Great, by means of the aftronomical obfervations that were made by Olearius on the coasts of that fea, in the beginning of the 17th century.

The eulogies of Meffrs. De la Condamine and Quefnay are prefixed to the Memoirs of this volume. The former deferves a separate Article, which, we think, will be acceptable to the greatest part of our Readers.

ART. II. Opere di Antonio Raffaele Mengs, &c. i. e. The Works of ANTHONY RAPHAEL MENGS, firft Painter to his Majesty Charles III. King of Spain. Publifhed by D. Jofeph Nicholas D'Azara. Parma. 2 vols. in 4to, the ft containing 325 pages, and the 2d 302.-1780.

This great Artift, who was more indebted to application and tudy than to natural genius, for the high rank he has defervedly obtained in the first clafs of painters, has left us here a monument that will perhaps even outlast the noble productions of his pencil. His pictures and his writings would not certainly have led the connoiffeur to judge that Nature had beftowed upon him her gift of inspiration with a parfimonious breath; for he has blended art fo admirably with the pittance fhe had given him, that the gift and its improvement carry one undivided afpect, and it is perhaps only from his own confeffion, that (at least) an ordinary connoiffeur would learn, that Nature had done nothing very uncommon in his behalf. An artist whofe pencil afpired to the imitation of Raphael, whose pen dared to inftruct in the manner of Da Vinci, and whofe ambition in both lines has met with applaufe, is, and muft be fecured from oblivion. The English Virtuofo has only to go to Northumberland House, and to peruse the work now before us, in order to be perfuaded that MENGS, as well as our REYNOLDS and WEST, will go down to lat pofterity, if the arts furvive this iron age of corruption and difcord. There are, however, strange things in the work before us.

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The first volume of this publication, befide the life of the author composed by Mr. D' Azara, and a catalogue of all the pictures which Mr. MENGS drew in Spain, contains four Treatifes, whofe titles are as follows. 1ft, Concerning Beauty in general, and Tafte in painting. 2d, Reflexions on the Three great Painters, Raphael, Corregio, and Titan, and also on the ancient Artifts. 3d, Fragment of a Difcourfe concerning the means of raifing the fine Arts to a flourishing State in Spain. 4th, A Letter to M. Falconet, French Sculptor at Petersburg. We had almost

forgot

forgot the dedication to the King of Spain, prefixed to this volume.

We shall not attempt any analytical account of these treatises. We fhall only give fome fpecimens of the Author's manner of thinking and judging with refpect to the art in which he fo eminently excelled.Notwithstanding the great merit of the work in general, we do not think that it is every where beyond the reach of criticism.

Mr. MENGS's ideas of beauty in the firft treatife are, upon the whole, juft and philofophical; thefe are contained in the first part of this treatife, in which, among other things, the Author obferves, that Art may furpafs Nature; and this he illuftrates by feveral proofs and examples. The Apollo of Belvidera, and the Venus of Florence, which the anatomift Chefelden confidered as perfect forms, are alleged as proofs of this propofition and the propofition is undoubtedly true, if we confine it to the forms that actually exift (in our part of the sphere of Nature) taken individually. It is, however, true, at the fame time, that no form, however perfect, can proceed from the pencil or the chifel, that does not derive its beauty from Nature, taken in a more extenfive fenfe, of which the Helen of Zeuxis is a proof, as feveral parts of actual Nature (not to speak of ideal) were combined in this happy compofition.

The fecond part of this treatife contains feveral nice difquifitions relative to taste and manner, of which we would give an account, if we did not apprehend that abridgment would be attended with obfcurity.

A good tafte in painting takes place, according to our Author, where the principal objects are well expreffed, and where the facility of the artist removes all appearance of art and labour. We do not think this definition fatisfactory. The Author comes certainly nearer to the point, when, diftinguishing true taste from manner, he says, that the former confifts in the choice of Nature in her best aspects, and in attending always to what is ef fential in an object. Manner is relative to fomething factitious; it mixes the peculiar caft of mind, the habitual turn of the artist (whatever it be) with his representation of Nature. True tafte, by a happy choice, can often raife common Nature to high degrees of elegance and refinement, as may be eafily perceived when we compare the landfcapes of Teniers with those of Salvator Rofa. Our Author judges well, when he fays, that the union of the ideal with the power of imitation conftitutes the great artift; but when he tells us, that by the ideal he underftands no more than the happy choice of natural objects, and not the invention of new ones, we would defire a farther explication of his meaning. If he means by natural objects (as he seems to do), objects actually exifting without the mind of the artist, we

think his notion of the ideal too confined: for, after all, the original fource of true beauty lies within us;-the beautiful, the good, the delicate, the graceful, the noble, the fublime, are perceptions effential to mind; the external objects only develope and unfold them; and in thofe minds where thefe perceptions or capacities of perception lie the leaft dormant, and are in the greateft vigour, they will often excite imagination to conceive the external forms in Nature that correfpond with them, even where these forms have not been contemplated as actually exifting in individual objects. In more ordinary geniuses the individual objects muft ftrike the eye before the perceptions will arife, and even here, if the capacity had not been previous to the objects, they would not arife at all. It is here that we must look for the true theory of ideal beauty in the productions of the pencil and of ideal capacity in the artist. Michael Angelo faw no where fuch living figures as he cut in marble; and it may be boldly affirmed, that the Apollo of Belvidera, had no prototype out of the mind of the sculptor. What model, faid a Bolognese nobleman to Guido, fupplies you with the divine and graceful airs of your female heads? I'll fhew you, replied the Artift, and calling his colour-grinder, a great lubberly brawny fellow, with a brutal countenance, he bad him fit down, turn his head, and look up to the sky; and then, taking his chalk, drew a Magdalen: and when the nobleman faw, with aftonishment, an angelic figure arifing from the attitude, lights and fhadows of the colourgrinder, Guido addreffed him in the following words: "My

dear Count, there is no enchantment here; but tell your "painter, that the beautiful and pure idea must be in the mind, "and then it is no matter what the model be," we add, nor where the mind got it.

The Chevalier MENGS examines, in this treatife, the progrefs of tafte in painting, and gives many ufeful inftructions to artifts to affift them in forming a true tafte. He also employs eight chapters in obfervations on the drawing, chiaro-cfcuro, colouring, compofition, and draperies of Raphael, Corregio, and Titian, and forms a comparison between the taste and intention of the antient and modern artifts. Many things are to be learned, and fome to be rectified in thefe chapters. As the three great artists, now mentioned, are the principal objects of our Author's admiration, he employs the whole of his fecond treatife in difplaying their refpective excellencies and defects. This treatife has great merit, though it does not feem to have received the finishing touches of its author; but, on the other hand, it contains ftrange paradoxes relative to Raphael, which we could not have expected from one of his moft zealous admirers and imitators.

Rev. Aug. 1781.

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After having examined all the branches of the art, as prac tifed by these three great mafters, and given Raphael the preference, he lays down the general rules by which we are to judge of the merit of a painter, and the precepts that must be followed in order to arrive at an eminent degree of perfection in that enchanting art. In treating of the excellencies and defects of Raphael, he enlarges particularly on his drawing or defign, which he esteems highly, but judges lefs perfect than that of the ancients. Be it fo.-But hear his reafon for this judgment: Because (fays he) Raphael had not imbibed the fpirit of the Greeks, and had not the knowledge of ideal beauty. Now this is the very first time that we have heard this defect imputed to Raphael, who is known to have ftudied the Grecian ftatues with peculiar attention and ardour. We have also been accuftomed to hear Raphael mentioned as the artist that excelled all others in ideal beauty: he is generally fuppofed to have carried it to a degree of enthufiafm, to have infufed it not only in his productions, but also to have treated of it in his epiftolary correspondence and writings, with a kind of myftical, platonic elevation of phrase, that rendered him fometimes unintelligible to those who did not conceive and feel like him. The Chevalier MENGS seems to found this judgment of the Plato of the painters merely on a letter of Raphael to the Count Balthafar Caftiglioni, concerning the famous Galatea; but the Chevalier was certainly in a hurry when he read this letter; for though one part of it seems to favour his judgment, the paffage that immediately follows overturns it entirely. Raphael, indeed, fays, "To represent a per"fect beauty I muft examine feveral fine women, and I wish "your Excellency was prefent to affift me in felecting the most "beautiful parts of each figure." So far the letter feems to make for our Author. Hear, however, what the sublime artist adds: "But as there is a fcarcity of truly fine women, and, per

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. haps, a ftill greater fcarcity of true judges, whofe counfels "might be of ufe to me, I am obliged to have recourse to a cer"tain MODEL OF PERFECT BEAUTY, that I have formed in MY OWN MIND."-From whatever circumftance this error of our Author was derived, it has had a finifter influence on his judgment concerning many of the productions of Raphael's pencil. He tells us, for example, that this unacquaintance with ideal beauty, was the reafon why that great artist fucceeded better in his figures of apoftles and philofophers, than in thofe of the Deities; and the reafon is good, if the fact be true; for it is undoubtedly in the delineation of exalted, invifible beings, that the ideal has the propereft field for its exertions, though it can breathe its charm alfo on common and known objects. But is the fact true? We do not pretend to oppose our judgment to

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that of the Chevalier MENGS, but we cannot help oppofing to it the judgment of Fred. Zucchero, who affirms that Raphael is fuperior to all other painters in his heads, excepting those of his devils.

Our Author's account of the perfections of Raphael is indeed excellent; and his admiration of that immortal artift rifes to enthufiafm, the noble enthusiasm of tafte and genius; but he cannot keep out of the region of paradox, when he speaks of his defects. We have fo often heard the graceful tempering the great mentioned as the eminent and diftinguishing characteristics of Raphael's pencil, that we are furprised to learn from Mr. MENGS that there is always fomething grofs and ordinary in his figures. His ideas of Raphael's colouring are new, and we leave them to the judgment of our Academy. That he may have neglected fometimes this branch of the art, in confequence of a fond attention to others, we do not deny, and our Author alleges examples of this which we do not pretend to conteft; but if we can credit travellers, and the best writers on the fine arts, the Madona in the gallery of Florence (commonly called Madona della fedia) is a ftrong proof of Raphael's high merit even with respect to colouring. Mr. MENGS does not think that there exifts a single picture in oil-colours that was entirely painted by Raphael's own hand, and we never heard, before this moment, that the groupe of the demoniac in the immortal picture of the transfiguration was painted by Giulio Romano. It is most fingular of all, that our Author's arguments in favour of what he has alleged against the colouring of Raphael fhould be principally drawn from certain corrections in the famous picture laft mentioned, fince we have more than once heard connoiffeurs obferve that these corrections rather prove the contrary.

Corregio next paffes in review; and he never appears without exciting a certain degree of pleafing emotion mixed with pain; for his heart was as meek, amiable, and candid as his pencil was tender, graceful, and fublime; and yet he lived almoft unnoticed, and, to the shame of his time, died in penury, after a short life of toil and hard labour. Our Author's obfervations on this charming painter are peculiarly interefting, full of intelligence and judgment, and denote a mafterly critic in the art. He powerfully combats an opinion commonly received, that Corregio had no knowledge of the Antique, and that he never was at Rome. Thefe are matters of fact which depend on teftimony more than induction; it is, however, on the latter that the Chevalier founds his opinion. He thinks the remarkable difference between the first and the last pictures of Corregio a fufficient reason to believe that this artift had ftudied the antique in the latter part of his life, and he points out the peculiarities that diftinguish his taste and manner of defign from that of the ancients.

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