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where the fame of his preaching reached the ears of the sovereign of that district, who on further investigation, having satisfied himself in the truth of Christianity, professed himself a disciple; hence he is admitted by St. Patrick to the sacrament of baptism : water being provided by his order, the king steps before the priest, who, disengaging his hand from the crozier, (which, according to the manner of the times, was armed at the lower extremity, with a spear) in planting it to the ground accidentally strikes the foot of his illustrious convert. St. Patrick, absorbed in the duties of his holy office, and unconscious of what had happened, pours the water on his head. The monarch neither changes his posture, nor suffers the pain from the wound for a moment to interrupt the cere. mony: the guards express their astonishment in gestures, and one of them is prepared with his lifted battle-axe to revenge the injury by slaying the priest; while he is restrained by another, who points to the unchanged aspect and demeanour of the sovereign : the female attendants are engaged, some kneeling in solemn admiration of the priest, and others alarmed and trembling at the effusion of the royal blood.?
While in Dublin, the foundation of his subsequent celebrity was laid by his introduction to Edmund Burke, at whose expence, principally if not wholly, he went to Italy in 1765. His correspondence, while abroad, occupies about one third of the first volume, and is by far the most interesta ing portion of these massy quartos. If we felt ourselves justified in assigning a considerable space to a subject only uf limited interest, we could comment largely upon this part of the work; but we must confine ourselves to a few desułtory observations.
Barry could not help speaking highly of the merits of Raffaelle and Michael Angelo; for we hope he could not help feeling them powerfully. Yet all the way through his correspondence, he betrays a secret wish to depreciate them. We could have forgiven him the bold assertion, erroneous as it is, that neither Raffael, nor Michael Angelo, nor any other, ever did, nor had ability enough to do any thing like' the Medusa's head of Leonardo da Vinci : for Leonardo was worthy to be named with those masters. But when he ranks Parmegiano above them, he only degrades himself; and when he.cites in proof of this the figure of Moses breaking the tables of the law, a spirited etching of which is now before us, he compels us to charge him with the most disingenuous purposes or the most despicable prejudice. The character of Parmegiano has been very correctly drawn, we think, by Fuseli, in his admirable, though somewhat pedantic lectures on painting. His grandeur, as conscious as his grace, sacrifices the motive to the mode, simplicity to contrast : his St. John loses the fervour of the apostle in the orator; his Moses the dignity of the lawgiver in the savage.' We scarcely need remark, how absurd it was in Barry to form so decided an estimate of this artist, from three or four figures only, as to compare him in the following terms with Angelo and Raffaelle. There is discernible in him powers imprisoned of a superior kind to what the others have shewn, and they had full opportunity of shewing all they knew.' By way of reply, we will transcribe a very glowing and picturesque paragraph from Mr. Fuseli, who, if his practice were equal to his science, would be the first painter in Europe.
Form not your judgment of an artist from the exceptions which his conduct may furnish, from the exertions of accidental vigour, some deviations into other walks, or some unpremeditated flights of fancy, but from the predominant rule of his system, the general principle of his works. The line and style of Titian's design, sometimes expand themselves like those of Michael Angelo. His Abraham prevented from sacrificing Isaac ; his David adoring over the giant-trunk of Goliah ; the Friar escaping from the murderer of his companion in the forest; equal, in loftiness of conception, and style of design, their mighty tone of colour, and daring execution : the heads and groups of Raphael's frescos and portraits sometimes glow and palpitate with the tints of Titian, or coalesce in masses of harmony, and undulate with graces superior to those of Correggio, who, in his turn, once reached the highest summit of invention,...and again exceeded all competition of expression in the divine features of his Ecce Homo. But these sudden irradiations, these flashes of power are only exceptions from the wonted principles : pathos and character own Raphael for their master, colour remains the domain of Titian, and harmony the sovereign mistress of Correggio.'
We are strongly inclined to refer Barry's singularity in this respect, to that unhappy perverseness which was the source of all the misery of his life. Sir Joshua, in a short but excellent letter of advice to Barry when at Rome, had said, 'the Capella Sistina is the production of the greatest genius that ever was employed in the arts.--In other places you will find casts from the antique and capital pictures of the great painters; but it is there only that you can form an idea of the dignity of the art, as it is there only that you can see the works of Michael Angelo and Raffael.' We believe Barry fully capable of taking up the opposite opinion from the pure love of contradiction and singularity; and we have little doubt, that rather than be thought to follow the sentiments of Reynolds, and all besides who were able to judge correctly, he determined to prefer da Vinci, Mazzuoli, and even Titian, to Sanzio and Buonaroti.
In the fragment of a letter upon Gothic architecture, Barry argues at considerable length, that it is nothing more than the architecture of the old Greeks and Romans in the state of final corruption to which it had fallen.' He displays much ingenuity; but completely fails, we think, in attempting to trace the intermediate steps. We are decidedly of opinion that the difference between the styles is essential and though we have not been able implicitly to adopt any of the various systems that have been made public, nor to frame one which we can fairly consider as free from defects, yet we feel convinced, that the Gothic architecture has every character of originality, and that those who pursue their inquiries under the influence of a contrary notion, are never likely to form a correct outline of its history. The mere citation of a few irregularities, or accidental resemblances, in classical architecture, is by no means sufficient to establish so improbable a system as that of Barry.
It is most likely that he was led to adopt this indefensible hypothesis, by his extravagant, and almost exclusive admiration of the antique. He says in one of his letters, we have in the antique a demonstration stronger than any in Euclid, that men formerly, in the articles of beauty, elegance, strength of expression, and propriety of character, were able to execute twenty, nay, a thousand times more than Michael Angelo or Raffael!' And again, the parts of the art in which Michael Angelo and Raffael excelled, are almost annihilated by the superiority of the antiques.' Nay, so resolutely does he maintain the perfection of the works of the antique sculptors, that a modern cause must be found for their defects. "The Meleager (commonly called the Antinous of the Belvidere) I often, as well as many others, thought had a little caricatura in the sway of the attitude. Upon a very narrow inspection
I see it was occasioned by the restoring and putting of the figure together! It is enough to leave this absurdity to speak for itself. We may plainly perceive, in the style of the modern French artists, the pernicious consequences of carrying the study of the antique to excess.
Barry, while at Rome, was constantly persecuted by the 'contemptible race of antiquaries and ciceroni, who appear to bave used every effort to prevent him from acquiring celebrity or wealth. He appears, indeed, to have set the whole junta at defiance, and to have been very little discouraged by their efforts to keep him in the shade. It gives us pain that we cannot possibly introduce Burke's inimitable letter to him upon this subject; it is of some length, and traces, with a master hand and a prophetic sagacity, the consequences of that proud, irritable, and almost savage independence of spirit, which embittered the life of his 'friend.
In 1771, Mr. B. arrived in England, after an absence of five years, mostly spent at Rome. We are obliged to pass over the particular detail of his subsequent life. His engagements with the Adelphi, bis differences with the Academicians, and his expulsion from their corporation, are universally known. On this last subject we fully agree with the editor; it was an unworthy vengeance, which recoiled upon their own heads; they injured their own ré. putation in no small degree, by attempting to wither the laurels of their associate.
Nearly from the period of his return to England, but especially during the later portion of his life, Barry had maintained an indignant struggle with privations of the severest kind. Unskilled in the arts necessary to win the pas trons of his profession, disdaining even the milder virtues and accommodating manners which heighten the beauty and temper the blaze of genius, wrapping himself up in dirt and sullenness, he yet secured the friendship of a few who would bear with the almost intolerable excentricities of the misanthrope,' in favour of the merits of the man and the skill of the artist. He had received liberal do- . nations from the Earl of Radnor, Mr. Hollis, and others; and the influence of the Earl of Buchan was successfully exerted in promoting a subscription, which was just completed and an annuity purchased, when a pleuritic fever, which he suffered to attain an unconquerable height before he applied for medical aid; carried off the unfortunate Barry
The editor of these volumes, who is evidently no artist, and as evidently understands nothing about art, in a kind of funeral eulogium pours forth the following exquisite tirade.
• Is Barry the artist who has supplied this most important desideratum ? has he approached the excellence of the Greek antiques in the beau ideal ? . We may go farther, and ask, has he, in nó instance, improved on that supposed perfection? Any of these questions answered affirmatively, and they cannot all be denied) will entitle him to rank as a master-by this term is meant an artist who has advanced the progress of his art by his skill and invention; who has advanced a step, and that step an important one : and whether the writer may be accused of presumption or not, he affirms that neither Michael Angelo nor Raffael, nor the eminent masters who have folo owed them, have produced for truth, science, beauty, character, and expression, any figures that equal, much less excel, the Angelic Guard in the picture of Elysium ; the youth on horseback, and group of the Diagorides, in the Olympic Games ; the three figures of Jupiter, Juno, and Mercury, in the picture of Pandora ; the Adam and Eve; or for exquisite ideal beauty in the female form, his Venus !!!
The question of this most ingenious writer's presump.
tion, which he seems to regard as admitting of soine controversy, we find no difficulty in deciding. It is not necessary to dwell upon the strange incongruous melange of angels with spears, and devils with snakes and fire-forks -quakers with their illimitable beavers, and warriors with their nodding plumes-philosophers in the academical costume of different ages and countries, philanthropists and politicians in coats, waistcoats, and breeches, and legislators in flowing robes-popes in pontificalibus, and lank-haired puritans :-all this, disgusting as it is, and destructive of that sacred simplicity and high illusion which only can impress upon the mind the idea of sublimity, we might be willing tu excuse, But who can tolerate the excessive absurdity of uniting heaven and hell in one picture, of divi. ding only by a thin partition the realms of bliss and the abodes of misery, and of stationing an Angelic Guard upon the brink of the gulph so as to mark it to the eye as a sort of debateable frontier ---of conveying, in fact, the idea, that unless a strong brigade of angels were constantly upon the watch, as an army of observation, the felicity of heaven itself might be disturbed by the incursions of infernal spirits! We should remark, too, that this is as needless as it is ridiculous: the artist's meaning might have been equally well indicated by the truly sublime figure of the angel of Retribution. No reference to the example of Milton, or the heathen mythology, can be admitted as an apology: indeed the cases are not in point. In this foolish incoherent jumble of the fables of antiquity, the grand descriptions of Milton, and the awful realities of the Christian revelation, Barry has sacrificed beauty, harmony, propriety and sublimity, to a weak and ill sustained affectation of originality.
So much for what this writer chuses to affirm’ respecting the Angelic Guard. We, too, will venture an affirmation. We will not speak of the Lazarus, nor the Last Judgement, the Christ, nor the Moses, of Michael Angelo; nor of the Madonas nor the Transfiguration of Raffaellem of the Capella Sistina, nor of the stanzas of the Vatican. But we will assert, that, as a colourist, Barry is not only below Reynolds and Romney, but beneath contempt ; that for grace and beauty, playfulness and fertility, he is as much below Stothard, as he was his inferior in urbanity; and that he never equalled, much less excelled, in conception, the Infant Hercules and Ugolino of Sir Joshua, the Moping Melancholy and Birth of Sin of Fuseli, the Death on the Pale Horse of West, nor the Infant Shakespear of Romney. Why did not the edi. VOL. VI.