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FRANCIS CHANTREY, Esq. R.A.
with those emotions which original
minds feel in seeing something conFRANCIS CHANTREY, Esq.was genial. He resolved at once to beborn at Norton, a small village on the come an artist ; and perhaps, even Isorders of Derhyshirr, on the 7th of then, associated his determination April, 1772, where his ancestors were with those creations of beauty from
which his name is now inseparable. acquired skill. The march, therefore, This decided the destiny of his talents, of the sculptor to distinction is a long and with Ramsay Mr. Chantrey was one, and with much of this mechanical immediately settled. The labours in knowledge Mr. Chantrey had to bewhich he was employed, however, come acquainted when he came to were far too limited for his powers,
London. He had also to surmount and too confined for his genius ; as the mightier obstacles of that artihe even then perchance loved to ex- ficial and unnatural style imported patiate in secrecy over his future from Italy and France, and which plans, to contemplate his growing had been supported by the ablest powers with silent joy, and was pre- sculptors of England. paring to come forth upon the world, Until lately, indeed, our sculpture in all the fulness of might, and all never sought to free itself from the the freshness of beauty, which he has absurdities and allegories of the fosince revealed.
reign school. The common figures During the intervals of ordinary of poetry and speech were formerly Jabour, therefore, at Sheffield, Mr. exalted into monumental heroes and Chantrey did not amuse himself like heroines, illustrated by symbols as most other young men ; but when re- unintelligible as themselves :-Death tired to bis lodgings, lights might be was made to extend his figurative dart seen in his window at midnight at the substantial bosom of a lady, and there he would be found working whose husband endeavoured to avert at groupes and figures,' with unabated it with an arm of flesh: and the Duke Diligence, and unwearied enthusiasm. of Argyle is seen expiring on his moof these early efforts, little is visible, nument, while the pen of Fame is except the effect they wrought. His writing him Duke of Greenwich,-a mother, however, took great interest title which he had not yet received, and delight in his early productions; -thus turning the monument of a and this venerable woman enjoys the hero into the record of a contemptible unspeakable felicity of still living to conceit, and carving puns upon a rejoice in her son's reputation: tomb-stone.
He had continued nearly three years In his twentieth year, Mr. Chantrey in the employment of Ramsay, when purchased the remainder of his enthe clandestine labours of his leisure gagement from Ramsay, and the sepahours began to obtain notice. Judi- ration gave mutual pleasure. In the cious counsellors seldom fall to the month of May 1802, he came to Lonlot of early genius, and Mr. Chantrey don, and applied himself with dilifound friends who, in the warmth of gence and ardour to the study of misjudging zeal, wished to obtrude sculpture. In June, however, in the him upon the world before his talents same year, we find him in Dublin, were matured, or bis hand or mind resolved to make a tour through Iredisciplined. Others, of more discern- land and Scotland; when a dangerous ment, confirmed him in his own cor: fever arrested his progress, from which rect notions of art, and directed his be did not entirely recover till the enenthusiasm. Among the latter was suing summer. This illness cured him Mr. Raphael Smith, who soon disco- of the love of travelling ; he returned vered that the young artist's powers to London in the autumn, and, with his to excel equalled his ambition, and return, his studies were recommenced. encouraged him to pursue the attain- His application was great, and his went of excellence: for, as in all other progress rapid and yisible. He had arts, no one is charmed with medio- already conceived the character of his ority, though all are doomed to endure works, and wanted only opportunity it.
to invest them with their present truth Sculpture, indeed, is a profession and tenderness. One of his earliest infinitely more' laborious than paint- works, a bust of his friend, Raphael ing, depending on shape and expres- Şmith, was created with a felicity at sion for it's fascination, demanding that time rare in bust sculpture. Suran acquaintance not only with varied rounded, as it now is, with the busts nature, but with many delicate me- of more eminent men, it is even still chanical operations, and with that singled out by strangers as a producrare talent of combining the concep- tion of particular merit. Akin to this tions of genius with the niceties of is his bust of Horne Tooke, to which
Memoir of Francis Chantrey, Esq. he has communicated an expression tain their likenesses by patient and of keen penetration and clear-sighted frequent retouchings,--Mr. Chantrey sagacity. A colossal head of Satan generally seizes on the character in belongs also to this period; and, in one hour's work, and even in the outthe attempt to invest this fearful and line of a bust on which he has beundefined' fiend with character and stowed but a single hour; the likeness form, he has by no means lessened is roughed out of the clay with the haphis own reputation; for eclipsed, as piest fidelity and vigour. Compared it now is, with more celebrated works, with the finished work ;-his hand has it's gaze of dark and malignant despair passed over it in a more delicate mannever escapes notice.
ner,-but the general resemblance is In 1810, he fixed his residence in scarcely rendered more perfect. His Pimlico, and constructed a study of bust of the lady of a Scottish judge very modest dimensions. The abso- is also of this period; Nature furlute nature and singular felicity of nished hini with a beautiful form, and his busts procured him immediate his art reflects back Nature. and extensive employment. Their On bis return from Scotland, he fidelity to the living image, and the was employed by government to exepower and case with which the cha- cute monuments for St. Paul's, in meracter is expressed, the free and un- mory of Colonel Cadogan and General constrained attitude, have been often Bowes, and afterwards of General Gilremarked and acknowledged. In this lespie. These subjects are embodied department of art his earliest busts in a manner almost strictly bistorical, placed him beyond rivalship, and there and may be said to form portions of he is likely to continue. His name and British history. Though the walls of his works were already known beyond our churches are encumbered with mothe limits of London, when he be- numents in memory of our warriors, came the successful candidate for a no heroes were ever so unhappy: statue of George III. for the Cor- Sculptors have lavished their bad poration, which must remain “ Jong taste in the service of Government; as our own renowned City shall ex- and Fame, and Valour, and Wisdom, ist," a monument of his unrivalled and Britapnia; have been the eternal talent and bis imperishable fame. vassals of monotonous art. The great
He had made some progress in this cause of which, perhaps, is, that simwork, when he was employed by Mr. ple nature, in ungifted hands, looks Johnes, of Hafod, to make a mo- degraded and mean; but a masternument in memory of his only daugh- spirit works it up at once into tenderter. This was a congenial task, and ness and majesty. confided to his hands under circum- Amidst a wide encrease of business, stances honourable to English sculp- Mr. Chantrey omitted no opportunity ture. It has long been finished, and of improving his talents and his taste. is a production of beauty and ten- In 1814, he visited Paris, when the derness, a scene of domestic sorrow Louvre was filled with the plundered exalted by meditation. A statue of sculptures of Italy, and admired, in President Blair, a judge of singular common with all mankind, the grace, capacity and penetration, and a statue the beauty, and serene majesty of ofthe late Lord Melville, were required those wonderful works. In the sucfor Edinburgh. Mr. Chantrey was 'ceeding year he paid the Louvre employed to execute them; and in another visit, during the stormy pethese he acquitted himself with great riod of it's occupation by the English felicity. The calm contemplative, and and Prussians ; 'when he was accompenetrating, mind of Blair arc visibly panied by Mrs. Chantrey, and his expressed in the marble; though it intimate friend, Stothard the painter. must be difficult to work with a poet's He returned by the way of Rouen, eye in productions, which the artist's and filled his sketch-book with drawown mind bas not selected and conse- ings of the pure and impressive Gothic crated. During his stay in Scotland, architecture of that ancient city. he also modelled a bust of the eminent On Mr. Chantrey's return from Playfair, in which he appears to have France, he modelled his famous groupe hit off the face and intellect of the of Children, now placed in Lichfield man,- and they were both remarkable Cathedral, and certainly a work more ones,- at one heat. Many artists ob- opposite to the foreign style could not
well be imagined The sisters lie Mr. Rennie, the civil engineer, is by.' asleep in each other's arms, in the many reckoned his masterpiece; and most unconstrained and graceful re- it is said, that the sculptor seems not pose; and the snow-drops, which the unwilling to allow it that preference. youngest had plucked, are yet grasped Naturally it is a head of'evident extenin her hand. It is a lovely and a sive capacity and thought, and to exfearful thing to look upon those beau- press these the artist has had his gifted tiful and breathless images of death ; moments. A head of the great Watt and though placed in the exhibition by is of the same order. In the year the side of the Hebe and Terpsichore 1818, Mr. Chantrey was made a mem-, of Canova, the goddesses obtained ber of the Royal Society, a mem-.. few admirers compared to them. So ber of the Society of Antiquaries, eager was the press to see them, that a and, finally, a member of the Royallook could not always be obtained: Academy. To the former he presented mothers stood over them and wept; a marble bust of their president, Sir little children knelt and kissed them ; Joseph Banks, a work of inuch power and the deep impression they made on and felicity; and to the latter he gave, the public mind was permanent. as the customary admission proof of
A work of such pathetic beauty, and genius, a njarble bust of Benjamin finished with such exquisite skill, is an West. unusual sight, and it's reward was no In 1818, Mr. Chantrey also produced common one: for the artist received the statue of Dr. Anderson ; which, for various orders for poetic figures and unaffected ease of attitude, and nagroupes; and the choice of the sub- tive and unborrowed power of thought, ject was left to his own judgment has been so much admired. The figure The work selected for Lord Egre- is seated in deep and grave meditation. mont has been long publicly known, In the following year, he made a -a colossal figure of Satan ; in which journey, which he had long meditated, Mr. Chantrey has invested the fiend through Italy; when Rome, Venice, with the visible and awful grandeur and Florence, were the chief places of of his demoniac character.
attraction ; though he found leisure to A devotional statue of Lady St. examine the reinains of art in many Vincent is also a work created in the places of lesser note. Of the works artist's happiest manner. The figure of Canova, he spoke and wrote with a is kneeling, the hands folded in re- warmth and an admiration he sought signation over the bosom, the head not to conceal. “ Above all modern mcekly bowed, and the face impressed art in Rome," he wrote to a friend, with the motionless and holy com- “ Canova's works are the chief atposure of devotion. Along with many tractions. His latter productions are other productions, his next important of a far more natural and exalted work was a statue of Louisa Russel, character than bis earlier works ; and one of the Duke of Bedford's daugh- his fame is wronged by his masterly ters, The child stands on tiptoe, with statues which are now common in delight fondling dove in her bosom, England. He is excelling in simplian almost breathing and moving image city and in grace every day. An of arch simplicity and innocent grace. Endymion for the Duke of DevonIt is finished with the same felicity in shire, a Magdalen for Lord Liverpool, which it is conceived; and the truth and a Nymph, are his latest works and and nature of this figure was proved, his best. There is also a noble equeshad proof bcen necessary, by a singu- trian statue of the King of Naples ; lar incident. A child of three years old the revolutions of it's head have kept came into the study of the artist, pace with those of the kingdom. A and fixed it's eyes upon the lovely poet in Rome has published a book of marble infant, weut and held up it's Sonnets, on Canova's works, each prohands to the statue, and called aloud duction has it's particular sonnet ; and laughed with the evident hope but of their excellence I can give of being attended to. This figure is you no information.” now at Woburn Abbey, in, company Such is the account given by our with a groupe of the Graces from the illustrious Englisliman, of the producchisel of Canova.
tions of the famous Roman; but there Many of Mr. Chantrey's finest busts is a kindness, a generosity, an extrenie belong to this date, His head of tenderness about the minds of men of
high genius, when they speak of the deep one, when we write his name. works of each other, which must not He has not the powerful tact of speglow on the page of stern and candid culating on ancient and departed exCriticism. The character of Canova's cellence like the Roman, nor has he works seems neither very natural nor the native might, and grace, and unoriginal. What Phidias and the im- borrowed vigour of the Englishman in mortal sculptors of Greece saw in sun- hewing out a natural and noble style saine, he sees in twilight; his art is of his own. The groupe of the graces dimly retiected back from the light of which he modelled in feverish emulaancient ages. The Grecian beauty and tion of those of Canova, measure out nature which he has chosen for his the immense distance between them ; models, he sees through the eyes of they are a total failure, and below meother men ;-he cannot himself con- diocrity ; while his figure of the Duke template the very excellence he seeks of Bedford's daughter is unworthy of to attain. of the meek austere come the company of her sister Louisa by posure of ancient art, he seems to feel Chantrey. He studies living nature, but little, and that late in life; he re- but with no poet's cye. tires from the awful front of Jupiter, We close with reluctance this brief to pipe with Apollo among the flocks and imperfect account of our illosof Admetus. Though with the severe trious countryman and his producand the majestic, he has limited ac- tions. We have omitted to notice quaintance, with the graceful, the some of the peculiar excellencies of his gentle, and the soft, he seems particu- style, and to mention many of his jarly intimate, and this, thongh a high, labours, of numbers and of importance is but a recent acquirement. His enough to form a fair reputation of earlier works are all infected with the themselves. In the conception and in theatrical or affected styles ; every the finish of his works, the artist is figure strains to make the most of the extremely fastidious, and meditates graces of it's person. The character with a care, and works with a diliof his works lives not in living nature, gence, of which there are too few he deals with the demi-gods, and examples. He is an early mover. seems ambitious to restore the lost He may be found labouring in sumstatues of older Greece to their pe- mer-time, before sunrise, with early destals. He has no twilight visita- and intense application ; and with a tions from the muse of modern beauty. candle in the front of his hat, and The softness, the sweetness, and grace a chisel in his hand, he may be of his best works bave been felt and seen at midnight, and far in the mornechoed by all. His Hebe is buoyant ing, employed in finishing some of his and sylphlike, but not modest; and principal works. with such a look and air, she had Of Mr. Chantrey's later efforts, and never dared to deal ambrosia among works now in progress, it is scarcely the graver divinities. It is custom- necessary to speak; as being conary to couple the names of Canova fessedly at the head of his art, they and Chantrey together, and some have are as universally known as they are not scrupled to add that of Thor- extensively admired. Amongst them, waldsen, the Dane. Their styles and therefore, we notice only his monutheir powers are essentially different, ment of the late David Pike Watts, and widely removed from each other. Esq. the subject of which is a Father Cánova seeks to revive the might and blessing his Children; -- A sleeping beauty of Greek art on earth; the Clild, the daughter of Sir Thomas art of Chantrey is a pure, unmixed Dyke Ackland; - and another reemanation of English genius; a style posing infant for Mr. Boswell, of without transcript or imitation, re- Auchenleck. The statues of Washsembling the ancients no more than ington, the late Francis Horner, Esq. the wild romantic dramas of Shak- M.P. for Westminster Abbey, and a speare resemble the plays of Euripi- bust of Scotland's mighty poct, and, des, or the heroes of Sir Walter Scoti's may we add, mightier novellist ? chivalry, the heroes of heathen song. Sir Walter Scott. As we never conIt seeks to personify the strength and cluded a Memoir in which profesthe beauty of the "mighty island.” sional encomium was better merited, From them both the Dane dillers, and nor less required, than in the prewe are sensible of a descent, and a seat instance; so, gifted as he is with