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MR. WEST'S NEW picture," the opening of the SEVEN SEALS.' THE HERE are boundaries to human with indifference, or with the emotions powers, but at the same time it is the which are excited by tragedy, wherein province of genius to aim at the accom- our fate is not involved; and sympathy plishment of great designs; such as nev- faintly supplies the place of personal coner have been and never may be effected. siderations of the deepest, of eternal In these efforts to do more than can be consequence. done, all that can be done is achieved. The failure is only in degree, and the results are the nearest approaches to the perfection attempted.

In the overwhelming subject before us, we are presented with an exertion of genius, which, to the limited capacity of uncivilized man, would be considered no less miraculous than the prodigies of nature which fill his mind with superstition and horror. But in the enlightened and highly cultivated state of society, wonder gives place to admiration, and while we contemplate we analyse.

And pictures are addressed either to the feeling or the understanding; and in many instances to both. In some of those of the former class painted by Rubens, in conjunction with Snyders, we have no emotions excited but such as might naturally be supposed to spring from the spectacle of gladiators and their savage combats. The mangled bodies of men and beasts belong to this class, and their representation scarcely aspires to a better excitement than disgust. Not far removed in point of elevated sentiment may be stationed such This daring effort of art anticipates in pictures as the Massacre of the Innocircumstantial detail a period of the most cents, and most of the martyrdoms. terrible mystery, of which the mind only These are equally painful to the sight catches a glimpse and instantly withdraws, and are only excused by the motives as if the veil of the sanctuary were rent whence they arose,-to excite detestaasunder, and it were impossible for hu- tion of persecution, to inspire fortitude manity to support the unfolded view of in bearing the cruellest inflictions of things so incomprehensible and so ap- barbarity, and to fan that flame of depalling. When seen under the power of prophesy, as a series of events that shall happen in the latter days, we are too deeply interested in the issue to look on

28 ATHENEUM, Vol. 2.

votion which was esteemed necessary to everlasting happiness. Yet with all these advantages, is it not evident that the alleged causes have failed to pro

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Fine Arts-West's "Death on the Pale Horse."

duce the proposed effects, and that, almost universally, these works have come to be considered simply as the proofs of the artist's merit and the criteria of his style?

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more difficult was the undertaking to place before the sense of sight a picture of that, at the approach to which, as a mere vision of the brain, we are over. whelmed and confounded. As must No picture ever aimed at a higher have been anticipated, the artist has failcharacter more distinctly than that which ed; but, as our preliminary observations "failure in dehas led to these remarks. The subject tend to show, this is a is the most awful and mysterious which gree," which, falling short of what was a Christian can imagine,-it embraces impossible, affords a noble proof of the the final destruction of the human race, genius which prompted the trial, and acand the salvation of the blessed. It is taken from the VIth chapter of Revelations," the opening of the seals."

“And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and See.

“And I saw, and behold a white horse, and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering and to conquer.

complishes a work of the highest order of excellence. Unlike the wicked design of Macbeth, where "the attempt, and not the deed," was ruin; here the deed was unattainable, but the attempt was great, and has been greatly successful.

The centre of the canvas is occupied “And when he had opened the second seal, I heard Pale Horse. It is a masterly performby the principal figure, Death on the

the second beast say, Come and See.

“And there went out another horse that was red: ance, bold, rapid, and grand. Issuing and power was given to him that sat theren to take from a cloudy volume, the supernatural peace from the earth, and that they should kill one courser paws space in his career, and the another: and there was given unto him a great sword. crowned spectre that sits on him is sublimely conceived.

"And when he had opened the third scal, I heard the third beast say, Come and See.

“And I beheid, and lo, a black horse; and he that

sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
“And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard
the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and See.
“And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his
name that sat on him was Death, and hell followed
with him. And power was given unto him over the
fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with
hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the

earth.

“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word

of God, and for the testimony which they held."

His right arm is wreathed with a serpent, and each hand grasps a meteoric fascis of desolation. A noble group below the horse's feet on the left indicates one part of the power given to his rider :—a lady lies dead, and her husband and two children in an agony of grief, lament her, while they await their own annihilation. four figures are finely composed. On the right of the horse the power to kill,

These

"with the beasts of the earth," is exWhen we read this tremendous pas- pressed with a classic and yet terrible sage, we are ready to accuse that pencil truth. Men in conflict with lions, tigers, of temerity, which would venture on its bulls, &c. fall sacrifices to their destrucvisible representation, and we ask, "does tive dominion under every form of sufit not exist beyond the reach of art?" fering; tossed, torn, and mangled, they The human understanding is lost in its expire in blood and agony. This mincomprehension, and the soul of man gled mass of human desolation is carried wilders in the imagination of but a mil- out to the edge of the picture by other lionth part of its horrors. Only allow scenes of death in the distance; and the mind to pursue one of its images, above, in the air, an appropriate and "and his name that sat on him was admirable relief is given by the view of Death, and Hell followed with him." a heron killed by an eagle. In a murky Who even in the wildest of fancies, can congregation of pestilential vapours beform a conception of this? The Man- hind Death, the following of Hell is fred of Lord Byron is as a grain of sand thrown into gloom and shadow. Unto the universe, in comparison with its formed and horrid monsters animate the dreard array; Milton's pandemonium, storm. The darkness visible betrays the most meagre sketch! And how much their indistinct and obscene shapes, as

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they seem to pursue their ghastly and instruments. That he has achieved

course,

And through the palpable obscure find out
Their uncouth way.

his purpose, may, we trust be gathered even from our faint outline. But though it has been only a secondary object, it must not be supposed that the mechaniWhat we have already described fills cal skill belonging to the highest branch fully one-half of the picture from the of art has been neglected. Mr. West centre to the left of the spectator, while speaks to the heart through the eye. The the vision of Hell occupies the middle composition as a whole is truly grand. distance, and stretches towards the right. The spirit of vigorous manhood is in its Before this cloud of infernal forms is the conception, and the judgment of matured There is representation of the black horse of the experience in its treatment. third seal, with its rider, and the balances indeed little regard paid to the fascinain his hand. Approaching the fore- tions of colouring,or to the mere distribuground there are two figures of Pesti- tion of light and shadow, though the genlence and Famine, conceived with un- eral tone of colour is suitable to the subcommon vigour, and executed in a most ject, and the chiaro-scuro has not been affecting style. Hence, to the right, the neglected: but the great excellence of opening of the the first and second seals the piece is, that it is addressed to the obtains a local habitation. The White mind as a sacred lesson, and not by Horse, and the Saviour of Mankind, meretricious graces merely to the sight, with a bow in his hand, going forth con- as a spectacle to be examined and critiquering and to conquer, is, though not cised for its means rather than its end. the first in point of pictorial interest, the One of the difficulties hardest to be overfirst in pictorial beauty, of the whole come, seems to us to have consisted in composition. The horse is without the management of the secondary parts, trappings or harness, and an exquisite so as to preserve an epic unity in the academy study. The head of Christ is principal objects, and at the same time in profile, and the eye directed to a be- allot sufficient dignity to the variety of atic vision in the heavens, which shows great episodes, which each of the other that his conquering was not of this world, seals may be considered. This was renThe souls of the blest are here seen re- dered more trying from the circumstance joicing in the presence of their Redeem- of one of these introducing the Son of er. The simplicity and sublimity of God himself; for Mr. West's interprethis passage leaves description far off; tation of Christ being typified by the riit must be seen to be felt and under- der of the White Horse, is borne out by stood.

the general context, and by reference to Behind is the red horse in all the ar- the 45th Psalm, v. 4 and 5. In this ray of war; a helmed warrior bestrides respect we conceive him to have been him, whose sword, and also his attitude, eminently' happy; for he has not only and attention to a field of battle in per- surmounted an obstacle of no slight imspective, tell that his cruel power over portance, but converted it into a beauty men is that they should kill one another. of the foremost order. He has formed Two doves in the foreground of these through it the finest and most natural seals (one of them dead) complete, as contrast; and combining the images of far as our recollection serves, the promi- horror and of hope, displayed the founnent objects of this stupendous picture. tains of mercy and immortal glory, It will occur to every mind that the beyond the reign of devastation and venerable head of the British school has universal wreck. in this production aimed chiefly at the most sublime characteristic art,-to impress the soul of the beholder with devotional awe and holy adoration of the divinity, to whom these are but symbols

If we were called on to point out a blemish in the work, we would say that the crossing of the action of the first and second seals is the spot we fix on. The vision of Christ towards heaven traverses

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the vision of the warrior towards earth; produced on our minds, as of one of the most powerful efforts of human genius; an immortal honour to the extraordinary man who painted it, to the British arts, to the country, and to the age.

and perhaps there is something too much in common between the white and red horses. We know not how these matters could have been avoided; but it does appear to us that with all the skill exhibited in the endeavour to separate and distinguish the two, there is still too much of the semblance of companionship.

But we will not dash this essay by closing it with even the shadow of faultfinding. Truly we can speak of Death on the Pale Horse from the effect it

The opening of the seals,one of the most terrible mysteries in the Christian religion, seemed almost above the powers of art. But what Milton has achieved in verse, is not faintly followed by West on canvas; and at the age of eighty years he has, by this effort, in our humble judgment, consummated his immortality.

LEGENDS OF LAMPIDOSA.

THE ITALIAN.

From the European Magazine.

selves with coronets, pendents, chains, TE ELL me not of our Ariosto and girdles, rings, spangles, and versicolour Petrarch!" exclaimed the learn- ribbands? Why are their glorious shews ed Doctor Busbequius Buonavisa to his with scarfs, fans, feathers, furs, masks, nephew Count Blandalma, as they walk- laces, tiffanies, ruffs, falls, calls, cuffs, ed in the great square of Padua: " All damasks, velvets, cloth of gold and silthe books in the Vatican or the Alexan- ver?-To what end are their crisped drian library, if they could be found, hair, painted faces, gold-fringed pettishould never convince me that woman coats, baring of shoulders and wrists? is not an evil. What says the Talmud? Such stiffening with cork-streightening What said the Council of Nice? and with whalebone-sometimes crushed and the Koran, and the Institutes of Menu- crucified-anon in lax clothes, a hundred and-ay, and our own college ?-Do they not all agree that the Creator did not send woman till he was asked, lest we should tax him with malice ?- Woe to the father of daughters!' said the Rabbi Ben Sirai; and I answer-Woe to husbands!"

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yards I think in a gown and sleeve? then short, up, down, high, low, thick, or thin? making themselves, like the bark of a cinnamon tree, best outside!'-Answer me, Signor Ludovico Blandalma, answer me."

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There can be no answer, uncle, "Sir," replied the young man, meek- to such a congregation of questions, unly, I might also defy you to shew me less I repeat the catechism of your friend any poet, historian, or philosopher, from Jacobus de Voragine, who composed Hesiod to Voltaire, who has not contra- it, perhaps, when he meditated matridicted himself at least six times on this subject."

mony. Hast thou means ?-thou hast one to keep and increase them-Hast "Well, boy, well!-and what does none ?-thou hast one to help thee.that prove, except that when women Art in prosperity ?-thy happiness is were created, fools became necessary? doubled-Art in adversity? she'll com-But what were they in Hesiod's days, fort and direct thee-Art at home? and what are they now? Ask Ovid, she'll drive away melancholy-Art Lucian, Terence, or Petronius!-Hear abroad?-she'll wish and welcome thy the English sage in 1617- For what return-There is no delight without soend,' says he, are women so new-fan- ciety-no society like a wife's." gled, unstaid, and prodigious in their at- "Hold, hold!" interrupted Doctor tires, unbefitting age, place, quality, or Busbequius-"listen to the obverse side condition ?-Why do they deck them--Hast thou means ?-thou hast, one

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to spend them-Hast none ?-thy beg- employed as public seats of exhibition gary is increased-Art in prosperity ? for all the insolvent debtors in Padua, thy share is ended-Art in adversity ?- and they would be equally useful if vixshe'll make it like Job's.--Art at home? ens were required to stand on them bare-she'll scold thee out of doors-Art foot. I have no doubt that the famous abroad?-if thou beest wise, keep thee circle at Stonehenge was contrived by Nothing easier than solitude, no the wisdom of ancient Britons for that solitude like a bachelor's.'-Why, how purpose." HOW? Whence comes that offuscation of face, Ludovico ?"

so.

66

Nothing, Sir," replied the nephew, smiling, with downcast eyes-" a flush, perhaps, from indigestion."

As

Whether either or both these expedients would have been successful, remains in eternal doubt, as the next moment brought Ludovico a special messenger, announcing the death of his wife "Fuliginous vapours, child! Sava- on her way to the baths of Pisa. narola and Professor Menadous pre- this event happened at a distance so conscribe diazinziber, diacapers, and dia- venient, there was no occasion for much cinnamonum, with the syrup of borage solemnity of mourning; one of her relaand scolopendra, to remove them. This tives, with whom he was not personally is an irregular syncopatic pulse, which indicates a chronic disease."

"Very possibly, dear uncle, for I have taken a wife."

"By the heart of man! (which is no profane oath, as I know not what the thing is made of) I am glad to hear it! -A wife, saith the Hindoos, is the staff and salvation of her husband; meaning, no doubt, that she chastises him in this world. I congratulate thee, Ludovico, on thy progress through purgatory."

"Spare your taillery," answered Blandalma, with a deeper flush, "I should not have announced my marriage to a cynic so professed, if I had not also had reason to acknowledge my conversion to his system, and my intended separation from

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"From your wife, nephew!" interposed the cynic, charmed with this opportunity to reason on both sides of the question--" abstractedly, a wife is an evil, but relatively she is a benefit, because she exercises the cardinal virtues." "Sir, there was no enduring her diabolical temper."

acquainted, had arranged her funeral; and Ludovico carried his sable mockery to "midnight dances and the public show" with great satisfaction. But, as custom is second nature, the unusual tranquillity which he now enjoyed hecame gradually an incumbrance, and he began to regret the varieties and inequalities of his domestic life. His uncle, after quoting Isocrates, Seneca, Epictetus and every other ancient reasoner against melancholy, prescribed travelling, and determined to accompany him in his tour through the Mediterranean isles himself. As a busy indolence was Ludovico's only motive, and his uncle had none except his delight in curious research among antiquities, their first disembarkation was on the isle of Mytilene

"Here," said Dr. Busbequius, as they walked from the ship's boat along the windings of a graceful coast, and looked towards a cassino half covered with orange-blossoms--" here is the fit residence for a man whose imagination can give no flashes of light except on a summer's day, like a Swedish marigold---"That is another prejudice of igno- here, in the ancient Lesbos, the court of rance, nephew. We have no reason to Cytherea, and consequently exempt from believe that Satan has a woman's tongue; shrews, as all isles are usually safe but, admitting that a shrewish temper from scorpions."-Ludovico sighed in and a demoniacal one are synonimous, silence, and approached the garden-gate, I can suggest a remedy. When your where the owner stood awaiting their arwife is eloquent, answer her in the rival. The terms of their admission as words of Aristophane" Brecc, ckex, temporary guests were easily concluded ko-ax, ko-ax, oop-oop !"-Or there is with Signor Furbino, who received them another expedient :--the stones in this with Italian civility. But when they market-place, as you know, were once required his signature to the contract, be

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