John Gould.

Biographical dictionary of painters, sculptors, engravers, and architects, from the earliest ages to the present time; interspersed with original anecdotes online

. (page 24 of 59)
Online LibraryJohn GouldBiographical dictionary of painters, sculptors, engravers, and architects, from the earliest ages to the present time; interspersed with original anecdotes → online text (page 24 of 59)
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member of the Academy at Paris.
He was in the height of bis reputa-
tion at the time of the revocation of
the edict of Nantes, when, on account
of his being a protestant, he was
obliged to leave France, and his
name was erased from the lists of
the academicians. He retired into
Holland, when he was invited to
England by the Duke of Monts^e,
and was employed, in conjunction
with Charles la Fosse and John Bap-
tiste Monnoyer, in ornamenting his
mansion of Montague House. He
was afterwards employed in painting
several landscapes and perspective
views for the palace of Hampton
CouTt.—Strutt

ROUBILLIAC (Francis), aSwiss
sculptor and statuary, bom at Berne
in 1703, and died in 1762, aged 59.
He visited England when young, and
was much employed by the nobility
and gentry. Roubilliac executed
several beautiful monuments in
Westminster Abbey Walpole.

ROVEZZANO (Benedetto da),
a celebrated Italian sculptor, who
came into England during the reign
of Henry VIII. Cardinal Wolsey,
in 1524 (says lord Herbert) began
a monument for himself at "Windsor,
erecting a small chapel adjoining to



St. Geoi^e's church, which was to
contain his tomb ; the design was so
glorious that it far exceeded that of
Henry VII. One Benedetto, a sta-
tuary of Florence, took it in hand,
and continued it till 1529, receiving
for so much as was already done
4250 ducats. The cardinal (adds
the historian), when this was finished,
did purpose to make a tomb for
Henry, but on his fall, the king made
US9 of so much as he found fit, and
called it his. After the death of
Wolsey, Henry took Benedetto into
his own service, and employed him
on the same tomb, which his ma.
jesty had now adopted for him-
self. He likewise executed seve-
ral works of marble and bronze
for Henry, and got an ample for-
tune, with which he returned to his
native country ; but his eyes having
suffered by working in the foundry,
he grew blind in 1550, and died
soon after.

ROZEE (Mademoiselle) a cele-
brated historical and landscape paint-
ress, bom at Leyden, in 1 632, and
died in 1682, aged 50. She proved
the most extraordinary artist that,
perhaps, ever appeared. Houbraken
says he cannot tellhowshe managed
her work, nor with what instruments,
but that she painted on the rough
side of the pannel, in such tints, and
in such a manner, that, at a compe-
tent distance, the picture had all the
effect of the neatest pencil and the
highest finishing. Yet other wri-
ters affirm, that she neither used oil
nor water colours in her astonishing^
performances; and only worked on
the rough side of the pannel, with a
preparation of silk floss, selected with
inexpressible care, and deposited in
different boxes, according to different
degrees of the bright and dark tints,
out of which she applied whatever
colour was requisite for her work ;
and blended, softened, and united the



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tints "with such inconceiTable art
and judgment, that she imitated the
warmth of flesh with as great a glow
of life as could he produced by the
most exquisite pencil in oil; nor
could the nicest eye discern, at a
proper distance, whether the whole
was not the work of the pencil, till
it was more nearly examined. But
by whatever art her pictures were
wrought, they were truly beautiful,
and like nature. Her portraits had
as striking a likeness as possible, and
every object was a just imitation of
her model, whether her subject was
portrait, architecture, landscape, or
flowers ; and as her manner of work-
ing could not well be accounted for,
she was distinguished by the name
of the Sorceress, as if her work had
been the effect of magic. One land,
scape of her painting, according to
Houbraken, was sold for five hun-
dred florins ; the subject of the de-
sign was only tbe trunk of an old
tree covered with moss, and a large
spider finishing its web among the
leaves and branches; but every part
{^peared with so great a degree of
force, so relieved, so true, and so
natural, that it was always beheld
with astonishment. One of her
principal performances is in the ca-
binet of paintings at Florence, for
which she received a very large grar
tuity, and it is considered as a very
singular curiosity in that celebrated
collection. — Houb.^ Pilk.

RUBENS (Sir Peter Paul), a
celebrated Flemish historical and
landscape painter, bom at Antwerp
in 1577, and died in 1640, aged 63.
He was descended from a respectable
family, and from his in&ncy dis-
covered a lively and prompt genius,
and was therefore educated with
great care in every branch of polite
hterature, when his family returned
to Antwerp, after the troubles ; and
as he showed a particular inclina.



tion to design, he was at first instruct-
ed by Tobias Verhaecht, a painter
of architecture and landscape. Af-
terwards he studied under the direc-
tion of Adam Van Oort, but he soon
perceived that the abilities of Van
Oort were insufficient to answer his
elevated ideas ; and besides, his tem-
per, which for the most part was
surly and morose, was disgustful to
Rubens, whose natural disposition
was modest and amiable. Those
circumstances induced him to place
himself as a disciple with Octavio
Van Veen, a painter of singular
merit, more generally known by the
name of Otho Venius, who was not
only thoroughly skilled 4n the true
principles of the art, but was also
eminent for his learning and other
accomplishments. Between that
master and his disqple there ap-
peared an uncommon similarity of
tempers, inclinations, and studies,
which animated Rubens with a more
ardent love to the art, and induced
him to pursue it as a profession.
He gave up to it his whole thought
and application, observing and imi-
tating his master with such discern-
ment and readiness of execution, that
in a short time he became his equal.
Sandrart, who was intimately ac-
quainted with Rubens, and accom-
panied him when he travelled through
Holland, tells us that the archduke
Albert, governor of the Netherlands,
conceived so high an opinion of Ru-
bens, from the accounts he had re-
ceived of his superior talents, that he
engaged him in his service, employed
him to paint several fine designs for
his own palace, and recommended
him in the most honourable manner
to the duke of Mantua, in whose
court he might have access constantly
to an admirable collection of paint-
ings and antique statues, and have
an opportunity of improving himself
by studying as well as copying tho



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former, and designing after the lat-
ter. On his arrival at Mantua he
was received with a degree of dis-
tinction worthy of his merit ; and
while he continued there, he added
considerably to his knowledge, though
he attached himself in a more par-
ticular manner to the style of colour^
ing peculiar to the Venetian school.
From Mantua he visited Rome,
Venice, and other cities of Italy, and
studied the works of the greatest
painters, from the time of RafFaelle
to his own, and accomplished him-
self in colouring, by the accurat* ob-
servations he made on the style of |
Titian and Paolo Veronese. How- I
ever, he neglected to refine his taste
as much as he ought by the antique, |
though most of the memorable artists
in painting had sublimed their own j
ideas of grace, expression, elegant |
simplicity, beautiful proportion, and j
nature, principally by their making
those antiques their perpetual studies
and models. In a few years the
fame of this master flew through ,
every part of Europe, nor were the '
works of any painter more univer-
sally admired or coveted. His dis-
tinguished powers in the art procured j
him employment for the ornaments
of churches, convents, palaces of the
principal crowned heads, and the
houses of the nobility and gentry of
all nations ; whilst his learning, his
politeness of manners, and amiable
accomplishments of mind, introduced
him to the particular affection of the
kings of England, Spain, and other
monarchs, by each of whom he was
caressed, honoured, and splendidly
rewarded. He was even employed
in a ministerial capacity by the king
of Spain, to make overtures from
that court to the court of London ;
and although the rank of Rubens
would not permit king Charles I. to
receive him in a public character, yet
he showed him all possible marks of



respect, on account of his ezcellencer
in his profession; and having en-
gaged him to adorn some of the
apartments at Whitehall, he conw
ferred on him the honour o/ knight-
hood, as a public acknowledgment
of his merit. That' transaction has
been misrepresented by some French
writers, wlio, through an excess
of ignorance and effrontery, have
absurdly affirmed that Rubens wa»
knighted by the king, sitting on h»
throne in full parliament. The
knowledge of Rubens in classical and
polite literature qualified him to ex-
cel in allegorical and emblematical
compositions ; and the public may
sufiiciently judge of his genius iit
that manner of designing, by hi»
paintings in the Luxemburg Gallery,
which describe the life of Mary dc
Medicis; and which are too well
known to require a particular de-
scription, the prints after those
celebrated designs being in the hands
of most of the lovers of the art.
His style of colouring is lively, glow-
ing, and natural; his expression
noble and just; and his invention
amazingly fertile. His pencil is
mellow, his execution remarkably
free, and his pictures are finished in
such a manner as to jMToduce a pleasr-
ing and a striking effect He is by
all allowed to have carried the art of
colouring to its highest pitch; for he
so thoroughly understood the true
principles of the chiaro-scuro, and
so judiciously and happily managed
it, that he gave the utmost round-
ness, relief, and harmony, to each
particular figure, and to the whole
together; and his groups were dis-
posed with such accurate skill, as to
attract, and indeed generally to com.
pel, the eye of the spectator to the
principal object. His draperies nx»
simple, but grand, broad, and well
placed ; and his carnations have truly
the look of nature, and the warmth



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•of real life. The greatest excellence
of Rubens appeared in his grand
compositions-; for, as they were to
be seen at a distance, he laid on a
proper body of colours, with an un-
oommon freedom of hand, and fixed
all his different tints in their proper
places ; by which method he never
impaired their lustre by breaking or
torturing them, but touched them
only in such a manner as to give
them a lasting force, beauty, and
harmony. As the demand for his
works from all parts of Europe was
incredibly great, he instructed a
number of young men of talent, as
his disciples, who assisted him in the
execution of histlesign?. He sketched
in small what they were to paint in
large; and afterwards he inspected
the whole, pointed out to them their
imperfections, directed them in the
mans^ment of their colours, and,
by his own free, spirited, and ju-
dicious retouching, gave the whole an
appearance of being only the work of
one hand. However, although that
method of expediting grand under-
takings might soon enrich such a
master as Rubens, yet it was more
for his immediate profit, than any
great addition to his fame ; because
many of those works, combinedly
painted by his disciples and himself,
are inferior in several respects to
others which are entirely of his own
pencil ; although some of those dis-
ciples became afterwards exceedingly
-&mous, as Vandyk and Snydcrs.
He also painted landscapes admirably,
in a style scarcely inferior to Titian,
with unusual force and truth, though
the forms of his trees are not always
elegant. But, notwithstanding his
extraordinary talent for painting
landscapes and uiimala, yet, where
those subjects were to be introduced
mto bis compositions, he rarely
painted them with his own hand;
but employed Wildens and Van



Uden for the former, and Snyders
for the latter, who finished them
fipom the designs of Rubens. Un-
doubtedly that great artist possessed
many excellencies and accomplish-
ments in his art ; it is however ge-
nerally allowed that he wanted cor-
rectness in his drawing and design,
his figures being frequently too short
and too heavy, and the limbs in
some parts very unexact in the out-
line. And although he had spent
several years in Italy, where he
studied the antiques with so criti-
cal, an observation as not only to
perceive and understand their beau-
ties, but even to write a dissertation
on their perfections, and the proper
use an artist ought to make of them,
yet his imagination was so preposses-
sed with that nature with which from
his youth he had been conversant
in his own country perpetually, that
he could never wholly divest him-
self of his national taste^ though, to
consider him upon the whole, he was
one of the greatest painters. It is
the observation of Algarotti that he
was more moderate in his move-
ments than Tintoretto, and more
soft in his chiaro-scuro than Caravag-
gio ; but not so rich in his composi-
tions^ or so light in his touches, as
Paolo Veronese; and in his cama-
tions always less true than Titian,
and less delicate than Vandyk. Yet
be contrived to give his colours the
utmost transparency, and no less har-
mony, notwithstanding the extraor-
dinary deepness of them; and he
had a strength and grandeur of style,
peculiarly and entirely his own. It
would require a volume to recite
and describe the prodigious number
of pictures painted by this truly
famous artist; every part of Europe
possessing some of the productions
of his pencil. Many of them are in
the elegant collections of the nobility
and gentry of Great Britain and



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472



Ireland; and so many prints have
been engraved after his designs, that
ti particular description of any of
them seems to be the less necessary
' as they are so universally kno\m —
Sand., De Piles, Walpok, Pilk,
RUGENDAS (Geoi^e Philip), a
German painter of history and bat-
tles, bom at Augsbourg in 1666,
and died in 1743, aged 76. He was
a disciple of Isaac Fisher, a painter
of history, with whom he continued
five years; and that master, who
loved him for his discretion as well
as his diligence, took pains to im-
prove him, by procuring for him some
original paintings of Bourgognoncf,
and other eminent painters of battles,
that he might study and copy them.
By some unaccountable weakness in
his right hand he was almost disqua.
lified for following his profession;
but by patience and application
he acquired so much power with his
left, that he ever after used it as
readily as the other. However, after
some years, a bone, which from his
infancy had disabled his right hand,
discharged itself without any assist-
ance of art, and he gradually re-
gained the perfect use of it, so as to
work with both hands with an equal
degree of ease. He had gained a
considerable share of knowledge in
design and colouring, under the di-
rection of Fisher ; but his principal
improvement was derived from the
instructions of Molinaer or Milinaro,
a history-painter at Venice, whose
compositions were in high esteem;
and he also added to his skill by
visiting Rome, and studying the
works of those great masters whose
style suited the turn of his own
genius. When he had finished his
studies in Italy, he returned to his
native city Augsboui^, ' where he
found sufficient employment; but as
that city happened to be besieged in
a short time after, Rugendas had an



opportunity (though probably not a
very desirable one) of designing
attacks, repulses, and engagements,
around his own dwelling; and he
very frequently ventured abroad to
observe the encampments and skir-
mishes of the armies, from which
he composed his'subjects 'with great
truth, and remarkable exactness.
From the year 1719 to 1735, he
worked in mezzotinto, having an
expectation of making a lai^e for-
tune for his femily by his prints ; and
for several years it succeeded to his
wish ; but at last he found it neces-
sary to resume the pencil; and
although he was diffident of his own
ability to paint, after a discontinu-
ance of sixteen years, yet, to his
surprise, he found himself as ex-
pert as ever. This master deserves
to be ranked among the good pain-
ters of battles ; be was correct in his
design ; he disposed his subjects with
judgment, and, by the aerial per-
spective, threw off his distances in a
very natural manner. His colour-
ing in some of his performances is
very commendable, he executed his
work with great f^reedom and case ;
and although he had a lively and
fruitful imagination, he always con-
fined himseK to represent only such
objects, expressions, actions, or atti-
tudes, as he had observed in nature.
Whenever he talked of his own
works, he used to remark, that his
first performances pleased by their
colouring and the freedom of his
pencil, though the design was but in-
difi^erent ; but his second manner
had more of nature, but was less
agreeably coloured ; but, in his third
and best manner, he attended to the
expression, disposition, spirited action,
and attitudes, and also to set his
designs off with a suitable colouring.
Those pictures which are painted in
his best style, were finished from the
year 1709 to 1716 PQk.

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RUISCH (Rachel), a Dutch
paintress of flowers and fruit, born
at Amsterdam in 1664, and died in
1 750, aged 86. She was the daugh-
ter of Frederick Ruisch, the cele-
brated professor of anatomy. At
a very early age, without the in-
struction of a master, or any other
assistance that of copying the prints
that accidentally fell in her way, she
had given such convincing proofs of
an extraordinary disposition to the
arty that her father procured her the
lessons of William Van Aelst, an
eminent flower painter. She not
only surpassed her instructor, but it
may very reasonably be questioned
whether she has not excelled every
other artist in the department which
she adopted, not excepting even the
admirable productions of John Van
Huysum. Without partaking of the
enthusiasm of Descamps, who une-
quivocally asserts, that " in her pic
tues of flowers and fruits she sur-
passed nature herself,'* it may very
justly be said, that she has represented
those subjects in so admirable a man-
ner as to produce perfect illusion,
which is rendered more exquisite by
the selection of her subject^ and her
tasteful and picturesque manner of
grouping them. — Houbraken.

RUNCIMAN (Alexander), a
Scotch historical and portrait painter,
bom at Edinburgh in 1736, and died
in 1785, aged 49. His father was
an architect, who probably taught
him some of the principles of his
art. Fuseli says " he served an ap-
prenticeship to a coach painter, and
'< acquired a practice of brush, a faci-
lity of penciling, and much mechanic
knowledge of colour, before he had
attained any correct notions of de-
sign." The Scotch account, on the
other hand, says he was placed as an
apprentice to John and Robert Nor-
laes, the former of whom was a ce-
lebrated landscape painter, (nowhere



upon record, however,) and under his
instructions Runciman made rapid
improvement in the art. From 1755
he painted landscapes on his own
account, and in 1760 attempted his-
torical works. About 1766, he ac-
companied, or soon followed, his
younger brother John, who had
excited much livelier expectations of
his abilities as an artist, to Rome,
where John, who was of a delicate
and consumptive habit, soon fell a
victim to the climate, and his obsti-
nate exertions in art Alexander
continued his studies under the
patronage and with the support of
Sir James Clerk, a Scottish baronet,
and gave a specimen of his abilities
before his departure, in a picture of
considerable size, representing Ulys-
ses surprising Nausica at play with
her maids: it exhibited, with the
defects and manner of Giulio Ro-
mano, in style, design, and expres-
sion, a tone, a juice, and breadth of
colour resembling Tintoretto. On
his return to Scotland in 1771,
Runciman was employed by his
patron to decorate the hall at Penni-
cuik with a series of subjects from
Ossian. In the coiirse of some years
he was made master of a public in-
stitution for promoting design. Run-
ciman's best performance is Sigis-
munda weeping over the heart of
Tancred. — Gen. Biog. Diet., Ed-
wards.

RUPERT (Prince). As the disco-
very of mezzotinto has been ascribed
to this Prince, it may not be amiss
to relate Vertue*s account of this
transaction, as he received it from
Mr. Killigrew of Somerset-house, for
it happened in the prince's retirement
at Brussels, after the death of his
uncle, the unfortunate Charles the
First. " Going out one morning,
he observed the sentinel at some dis-
tance from his post, very busy doing
something to his piece. The prince

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474



asked what he was ahout. He re-
plied the dew that had fallen in the
night' had made his fusil rusty, and
that he was scraping and cleaning it.
The prince looking at it was struck
with something like a figure eaten in
the harrel, with innumerable little
holes closed together, like frize-work
on gold and silver, part of which the
soldier had scraped away. The prince
concluded that some contrivance
might be found to cover a brass plate
with such a grained ground of fine
pressed holes, which would undoubt-
edly give an impression all blacky
and that by scraping away proper
parts, the smooth superficies would
leave the rest of the paper white.
Communicating his idea toWallerant
Vaillant, a painter whom he main-
tained, they made several experi-
ments, and at last invented a steel
roller, cut with tools to make teeth
like a file or rasp with projecting
points, which efi^ectually produced
the black grounds; those being
scraped away and diminished at plea^
sure, left the gradations of light."
Some have thought that the prince
only improved on Rembrandt's man-
ner in his prints, but there is no ac-
count of the latter making use of a
method at all like that practised for
mezzotintos. Prince Rupert only
executed two prints in mezzotint©,
the one a Saracen's head, ^ith that
prince's mark, R. p. f. ; the other a
man with a spear, and a woman's
head looking down in an oval, no
name to it. There were likewise a
few landscapes said to haVe been
executed by him. — Walpole.

RUYSDAEL (Jacob), a Flemish
landscape painter, bom at Haerlem
in 1636, and died in 1681, aged 45.
Though the artist is not mentioned
by whom Ruysdael was instructed
in the art of painting, yet it is af-
firmed, that at the age of twelve
some of his productions surprised the



best painters to whom they were
shown. It is most certain that a
strict intimacy subsisted between
him and Berchem ; and it is thought
that Ruysdael was animated with
that spirit which we see in all his
compositions, by his connection with
that admirable master ; for it afltbrd-
ed him an access at all times to the
house of Berchem, where he had a
constant opportunity to observe his
manner of handling, designing, and
colouring; and by that means to
form a style peculiar to himself, in
which he was accounted little inferior
to the other. However, nature was
his principal instructor, as well as
his guide ; for he studied her inces-
santly. The scenes, trees, skies,
waters, and groimds, of which his
subjects were composed, were all
taken from nature, and sketched
upon the spot, just as they allured
his eye, or delighted his imagination.
Some writers affirm that both Ruys-
dael and Berchem improved their
taste in Italy, by that beautiful va-
riety of scenery which is perpetually
to be observed in the environs of
Rome ; but other authors as posi-
tively assert that neither of these
masters were ever in Italy. Yet
whoever attentively considers many
of the compositions of Berchem can-
not but be almost convinced that he
must have travelled out of his own
country to collect such ideas of grand
and elegant nature as are furnished
in his works; though perhaps by the
ideas of Ruysdael, observable in most
of his designs, one could as readily
believe that he had never travelled
far from his native soil. No painter
could possibly possess a greater share
of public esteem or admiration than
Ruysdael ; nor has the reputation of
that artist been impaired even to this
day. Ther grounds of his landscapes
are agreeably broken, his skies are
clear, his trees are delicately handled.

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Online LibraryJohn GouldBiographical dictionary of painters, sculptors, engravers, and architects, from the earliest ages to the present time; interspersed with original anecdotes → online text (page 24 of 59)