Conversations of James Northcote

Cover of book Conversations of James Northcote
Categories: Nonfiction

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THIRD. Northcote began by saying, " You don't much like Sir Joshua, I know; but I think that is one of your prejudices. If I was to compare him with Vandyke and Titian, I should say that Vandyke's portraits are like pictures (very perfect ones, no doubt), Sir Joshua's like the reflection in a looking-glass, and Titian's like the real people. There is an atmosphere of light and shade about Sir Joshua's, which neither of the others have in the same degree, together with a vagueness that gives them a visionary and romantic character, and makes them seem likedreams or vivid recollections of persons we have seen. I never could mistake Vandyke's for any thing but pictures, and I go up to them to examine them as such : when I see a fine Sir Joshua, I can neither suppose it to be a mere picture nor a man; and I almost involuntarily turn back to ascertain if it is not some one behind me reflected in the glass : when I see a Titian, I am riveted to it, and I can no more take my eye off from it, than if it were the very individual in the room. That," he said, " is, I think, peculiar to Titian, that you feel on your good behaviour in the presence of his keen-looking heads, as if you were before company." I mentioned that I thought Sir Joshua more like Rembrandt than like either Titian or Vandyke : he enveloped objects in the same brilliant haze of a previous mental conception.?" Yes," he said; " but though Sir Joshua borrowed a great deal, he drew largely from himself: or rather, it was a strong and peculiar feeling of nature working in him and forcing its way out in spite of all impediments, and that made whatever he touched his own. In spite of his deficiency in drawing, and his want of academic rules and aproper education, you see this breaking out like a devil in all h...

Conversations of James Northcote
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