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The Greeks and Romans were certainly acquainted with the fame, for Pliny foeaks of it and diftinguishes it from the lime or frefco-ground. He calls it Creta or Cretula, and describes it as a dry ground, fit to receive and to imbibe certain colours, which cannot be eafily laid on the wet lime or fresco-ground . He might have recommended it as being the fittest for boards, whether defigned for distemper or oil painting, and as being better calculated for oilpainting than any other harder ground, fince imbibing the oil it naturally prevents its forming a fkin over the colours, and accordingly keeps them clearer and brighter.
The whitenefs of its colour, and the fmoothnefs which it takes by polishing, are two other advantages of fome confequence. It is for very good reasons then, that the Egyptians, the Greeks, and Romans used it, that the practice has been handed down to us uninterrupted and unforgotten. The old Gothic paintings on boards are conftantly laid on this ground; and the first and modern masters of the Roman and Venetian fchools, Raphael, Paul Veronefe, and many others have recommended it by their example to the latest po fterity.'
This curious and learned enquiry concerning the painting of the ancients, is continued through feveral pages, in which it is fhewn, that the ufe of chalk or whiting grounds, and the application of varnishes on pictures, are practices of the highest antiquity *, and were continued from the remote ages, in which mummies were made by the Egyptians, down to the times of Raphael, Titian, &c. Though from what Mr. R. has collected, it seems impoffible to prove that either the Egyptians, or the ancient Greeks and Romans, ever made use of oil as a vehicle for their pigments.
And here we may obferve, that whoever difcovers the vehicle used by the ancient painters, will perform a grateful and important fervice to the art, fince it certainly gave their works an advantage over thofe of the most celebrated moderns in point of duration. Paufanias describes the paintings in the Poikile at Athens, without ufing any expreffion that can occafion a furmife of their being in the leaft decayed or faded, yet Paufanias must have written upwards of 600 years after these paintings were finished; and the ancient picture, generally called the Aldobrandine marriage, now to be seen in the palace of that name at Rome, continues to this day a fine picture, though probably painted 2000 years ago. Another advantage which it poffeffed, was, that it did not change or corrupt the pigments tempered
Ufas in Creta, calcis impatiens, Plin. H. Nat. xxxiii. c. xiii. ex omnibus coloribus Cretulum amant, udoque illini recufant purpuriffum, &c. Ibid. xxxv. c. vii.'
• Vide what has been faid by us concerning the varnish used by Apelles, in our account of Mr. Bardwell's Practice of Painting, &c. Rev. vol. xv. p. 168. No. for Aug. 1756.
with it, witnefs the Aldobrandine picture already mentioned, and thofe found at Herculaneum. The beft judges of this art, who have feen them, agree, that their vehicle (to exprefs ourselves in technical terms) covered well, and wrought freely.
Our Author afterward pursuing his enquiries concerning the painting of the ancients, proceeds to treat of paintings in wax. He remarks, that both Vitruvius* and Pliny †, in the paffages quoted by him, mention the propriety of mixing oil with the wax employed in painting on walls. He then obferves, that it may be doubted, whether, in the practice of this art, the methods of employing wax recommended by Count Caylus, M. Muntz, Fratrell, or Kablo, were the fame with thofe the ancients used. The three first named of thefe gentlemen, have given to the Public their different proceffes, but that of M. Kablo is a compofition, which we are informed by a note at the bottom of page 34, was advertifed to be fold by the inventor M. Kablo at Berlin. The wax prepared by this ingenious artift, we are told, had the property of diflolving in water, as well as in oil, and fince this fecret is fuppofed likely to prove of great ufe to the art of painting, and many of our Readers may wish to be acquainted with it, we fhall here give the entire process of making this compofition, as communicated to us, by a gentleman who has made many experiments relative to the practical part of the art of painting; it is as follows:
Salt of Tartar, one ounce;
Pure white wax
Fair water, the fofter and clearer the better, twelve ounces. Diffolve the falt over the fire, in the water, in a clean, or rather a new, earthen pipkin; then, by little and little, add the wax; which will incorporate with the water and sait; and make a compofition as white as fnow, with which colours ground either in oil or water may be 'mixt, and ufed with a pencil.
Note, the pipkin hould be capable of containing two quarts of water; as the compofition, when it boils, rifes up furprisingly.
Having finished thefe difquifitions, our Author gives an account of a curious old manufcript of Theophilus Monachus on the Art of Painting, which he discovered in the library of Trinity College Cambridge, it was bound up in the fame volume with another, equally curious, Eraclius de coloribus et artibus Romanorum; they are written in vellum, both by the fame hand, full of abreviations fuch as were used in the thirteenth century, though from fome circumftances Mr. R. is of opinion with Mr. Leffing, that the author, Theophilus, lived in the tenth or eleventh century.
B. vii. c. 9.
+ Nat. Hift. xxiii. c. 7.
What scanty remains of ancient art and literature were preferved in thofe moft barbarous ages, were in the poffeffion of priefts and friars; the language of their liturgy obliged them to maintain fome little acquaintance with the Latin language, and the decorating their churches occafioned them to preferve fome documents relating to painting, varnishing, gilding, &c. A monkifh treatife on architecture would be a defirable curiofity, as we obferve much ingenuity in the conftruction of old Gothic churches.
The Treatife of Theophilus on Painting, in the barbarous Latin of the original; that of Eraclius, and an Appendix containing a Review of the Lumen dnime of Farinator, another Monkish production, conclude this fingular publication.
Amongst other interefting particulars in Theophilus, we find the method of making linfeed oil for the ufe of painters, and two receipts for making oil varnish, which complete the evidence. against the claim fet up by Vafari in favour of John Van Eyck, and form an article in the hiftory of painting, which had long been configned to oblivion. St...t.
ART. III. Anecdotes of Olave the Black, King of Man, and the Hebridian Princes of the Somerled Family. To which are added, Eighteen Euloges on Hacco, King of Norway; by Snorro Sturlfon, Poet to that Monarch: now first published in the original Iflandic, from the Flateyan, and other Manufcripts with a literal Verfion and Notes. By the Rev. James Johnftone, A. M. Chaplain to his Britannic Majefty's Envoy Extraordinary at the Court of Denmark. Small 8vo. 2 s. large Paper. Small Paper 1 s. Printed for the Author. Sold by Cadell in London. 1780.
HIS curious fragment of ancient northern hiftory, will a be a moft acceptable prefent to the antiquary; while the critic in philology will find fome amusement from the little poetical Eulogies of the Ilandic Bard.
The Editor informs us, that the work from whence this Fragment was taken, was the compofition of Thordr, an Iflandic writer of the thirteenth century. The original is extant in the celebrated manufcript of Flatey, now in his Danish Majesty's library; where the poems of Snorro are likewife preferved.
The events recorded in this Fragment bear date 1229, and 1230. The relation is fimple, unembellifhed, and wholly confined to facts. We will give the Reader a brief view of them.
Allan, a Scottish Earl of Galloway, had made great havock in the Sudereys (or Western ifles of Scotland), and committed many ravages in Ireland. Olave, the fon of Godred, was at that time King of Man. That ifland was fubject to Haco, the Norwegian king. The princes of the Sudereys were not attached to Haco-efpecially thofe who were of the Somerled fa
mily; but Olave preferved his allegiance with unshaken fidelity! and arriving in Norway, acquainted Haco with the hoftilities of Allan, and of his threats of carrying them on still further. On this an armament was fitted out to check his proceedings, and the command was given to Upfac, who, though a Sudereyan, and of the Somerled family, was nevertheless confided in by the King of Norway. At the arrival of the forces in Ila-Sound, a diffention arose between the Sudereyans and the Norwegians, which was fomented by mutual jealoufies, and a fkirmish enfued, which ended in the death of the chieftain of Isla, and the imprifonment of Dugal, Upfac's brother. Upfac, however, was totally blameless, and by his prudence and conduct reconciled the contending parties. After the Norwegians had collected troops from the Islands, and got themselves equipped with eighty ships, they failed South, to the Mull of Kintire, and from thence proceeded to the Ifle of BUTE. Here the Scots had fortified themfelves in a caftle, under the command of a STEWARD of Scotland [Enn STIVARDR af Skotum], who behaved with much gallantry; but was afterwards killed by an arrow, as he was leaping on the ramparts of the fortrefs. The Scots bore the fierce affault of the Norwegians with great bravery, and threw down upon them pitch and lead. To avoid this annoyance, the affailants erected over their heads, a covering of wood, and then hewed down the wall (for the ftone was very foft), fo that the ramparts fell down, and the very foundation of the caftle was razed.
The Norwegians (as the Fragment farther relates) now heard that Earl Allan was South, at the Neffes, and had drawn together an hundred and fifty fhips, intended against them; wherefore they failed under Kintire, lay there for fome time, and made feveral defcents. Upfac the king now caught a diforder, and lay a little while, and died, and was much lamented by his men. Upon this King Olave was made commander over all the armies, and going to the Merchant-Ifles, remained there a great part of the winter. They next went South, against the Mankfmen (the inhabitants of the Ifle of Man), who were led by a perfon called Thorkel, the fon of Niel. But the Mankfmen would not fight against Olave, and they broke up their confederacy (i. e. difperfed) in the prefence of Thorkel, and the Norwegians took him into their hands, and held him in fetters fome time. They laid as a tribute on the Mankfmen, three English pennies for every cow, and alfo maintainance for the whole army through winter.
Afterwards, the Norwegians fteered their courfe away from Man, though King Olave remained behind. They failed North
* Melted, we take it for granted.
Man. 97 under Kintire, and there went on fhore; but the Scotch came to meet them, and fought with them, and darting too and fro, were very irregular in battle, and many fell on either fide; and when the Norwegians came to their fhips, then had the Scotch killed all the fervants that were on land preparing of victuals, and all the Acfh-kettles were carried away. They next made many defcents in Kintire, and proceeded thence North to the Orkney Islands.
Soon after, most of the Norwegians failed Eaft to Norway, having, in this expedition to the Western Ifles, won great renown for their King. And when they came into his prefence, he thanked them well for their voyage.-Here ended the acts of the Sudereyans.
This little Fragment is a ftrong confirmation of the authenticity of the "Chronicle of the Kings of Man," fuppofed to have been written by the Monks of Ruffin-Abbey, the moft diftinguifhed monaftery in that ifland, and preferved by Camden in his Britannia, as a very curious and valuable Memoir. After relating fome particulars omitted in this Ilandic Fragment, refpecting the depredations of Allan and Reginald (Ölave's brother) on the fland, the Chronicle gives this brief account of the occurrences now more circumftantially related in the Fragment. "Olave after this (viz. about the year 1229) went to the King "of Norway: but before his arrival, Haco King of Norway "had appointed a certain nobleman, called Hufbac [Upfac Ifan"dice] the fon of Owmund to be King of the Sodorian Islands, "and gave him his own name, Haco. This Haco, accom"panied with Olave, Godred Don, the fon of Renigald, and "many Norwegians, came to the Ifles; but in taking a certain "caftle in the Ifle of Bote, he was killed with a stone, and bu"ried in Iona.
"1230. Olave came with Godred Don, and Norwegians "to Man, and they divided the kingdom. Clave was to have "Man. Godred being gone to the Ifles, was flain in Lodhus. "So Olave came to be fole King of the Ifles."
Of Olave, the Chronicle further fays, that "he died on the "14th of the calends of June, in St. Patrick's Ifle, and was "buried in the Abbey of Ruffin."
The principal difference in the Fragment and the Chronicle, lies in the account of the death of Upfac, furnamed Haco, after the Norwegian monarch. In the former, it is faid that he fell fick at Kintire, after the expedition to the Ifle of Bute, and ded there. In the latter, he is faid to have been killed at the aflault on the caftle of Bute. Perhaps the apparent contradiction may be reconciled, by admitting, that the wound he received at the laft mentioned place was the occafion of his death; which, however, did not happen, till after the arrival of the army at Rev. Aug. 1781.