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SIR DAVID WILKIE AND HIS WORKS.
IN November, 1809, Wilkie became an Associate of the
This picture represents the circumstances likely to occur at the door of a village alehouse on a warm summer evening, when the labours of the day are done, and its fatigues have tempted some of the villagers to take something more than their needful repose. It consists of three principal groups and several subordinate ones, scattered about the scene in a somewhat unskilful and unsatisfactory manner, as far as relates to mere composition, but full of the most rich and admirable detail. The centre group represents a contest between two parties-a set of half-tipsy merrymakers, and a village housewife and her daughter-as to which shall get posession of the person of an idle husband, whom the latter have come to fetch home. There is a homely and pathetic truth in the expression of the wife, that is delightful. Anybody but Wilkie would have made her a shrew. The imploring expression of the daughter -which is conveyed by the air and attitude alone, her face not being seen-is also admirable. These are richly but perhaps somewhat too forcibly contrasted with the coarse merriment of the boozers who wish to retain their companion. The principal figure in this group -the husbandis the least expressive part of it. It seems a matter nearly of indifference to him whether the contest is decided for "go or stay." The colouring of this group is exquisite in every part: perhaps superior to any thing else from the hand this artist. The left-hand group of the three is even more rich in the expression appropriate to the subject, than the one just described. The face of the sot who is holding up the bottle is absolutely perfect. It is unquestionably superior in its way to any one face that has proceeded from the pencil of any artist, living or dead, with the exception of two or three others by Wilkie himself. That of the landlord also, who is pouring out the ale, and who seems to contrive to keep himself just sober enough to make his guests tipsy, is no less true than rich. The black who forms the third of this group is not so good; he is not black but red. It is very rare to see this artist sacrifice truth to harmony of effect: he had better left the head out altogether, than have done so in this instance. The third principal division of the composition, occupying the right corner, contains two or three exquisite morceaux both of colouring and expression. The girl holding the fat infant is an admirable study, designed with infinite ease, and coloured with great sweetness. Indeed, the colouring of many parts of this picture, in breadth, sweetness and purity, is perhaps superior to any other from this painter, whose forte certainly does not lie in that department of his art. And, in fact, it is only of individual parts that the above is true even with regard to this picture. As a whole it is scattered, confused and unsatisfactory in this respect. The only other portion of this group which requires particular mention, is the face, figure and whole deportment of the nice old woman who is just finding her idle drunken son half asleep behind the horse trough. The sight, painful as it evidently is to her, is scarcely capable of moving her from that staid gravity which becomes her age and character, for she is evidently one of the matronly oracles of the village, and perhaps the schoolmistress. The secondary groups in this picture do not demand any detailed description.
The fault of this work (and it is a great one) is a want of unity and compression in the composition; and consequently a want of general coinpactness and singleness of effect. Unlike one of Teniers' great works of this
kind, it tells like two or three different pictures, instead of like one consistent and necessarily connected whole. The immense size of the buildings as compared with that of the figures, increases this defect. The work, however, displays infinite talent, both of mind and of hand; but certainly more of the latter than of the former.
In 1813 Wilkie exhibited "Blindman's Buff," now in the Royal collection; in 1814, "The Letter of Introduction," for which he received 200 guineas from Mr. Dobree, of Walthamstow; and "Duncan Gray," or "The Refusal," which some time ago at the price of 450l. passed into the collection of Mr. Sheepshanks.
In 1815 he exhibited his "Distress for Rent," noticed in our former article. The next year he exhibited his "Rabbit on the Wall," and during several successive years he produced the following works, the titles of which will doubtless call up many pleasant recollections either of the pictures themselves, or of the capital engravings that have been made from them. "The Breakfast;" The Errand Boy;" The Abbotsford Family;" now at Huntly Burn. "The Penny Wedding;" a commission from the Prince Regent. "The Reading of the the King of Bavaria. Will;" a commission to the amount of 450 guineas from "Guess my Name;" "The Newsmongers;" "Chelsea Pensioners reading the Gazette of the Battle of Waterloo;" painted for the Duke of Wellington, for 12007., by far the largest sum the artist had then received for one performance. "The Parish Beadle;" "Smugglers offering run goods for sale or concealment;" "The Cottage Toilet; "A Scene from the Gentle Shepherd;" and "The Highland Family."
During the years 1826, 1827, and 1828, Wilkie visited Italy and the Peninsula, and on his return surprised the world of art and the public generally, by an entire change of style and subject. Italy had long been the school for artists of all degrees of merit, Wilkie therefore turned to Spanish art and Spanish subjects, for the production of picturesque novelties, which he hoped would attract and command attention. He returned laden with sketches, and had completed several pictures, among which were "The Spanish Posada;" "The Maid of Saragossa;" "The Guerilla's departure;" and "The Guerilla's return;" four pictures that His Majesty King George the Fourth secured when the artist's foreign labours were unpacked.
Wilkie was appointed to the office of principal painter in On the death of Sir Thomas Lawrence, in 1830, ordinary to his Majesty. He was then engaged with the portrait of King George the Fourth, in his Highland dress, and his royal patron's reception at Holyrood. He now, to the regret of many lovers of art, took to portraiture, favourite Velasquez. But he did not neglect the higher and his portraits show something of the style of his branch of his art, for in 1832 he exhibited “John Knox preaching after his return from banishment," purchased by Sir Robert Peel, for 1500. In this picture we see the well-known Reformer in the full fervour of discourse: below him on one side are a group of his disciples, watching and listening to him with the deepest attention, while a higher class of his adherents occupy the front benches: these are all portraits. Particularly beautiful is the figure of a young female in full light, her whole female, purposely thrown into shadow, serves as a backsoul apparently absorbed by the discourse; while another ground. Further behind, in half light and placed on elevated seats, are seen the ranks of the Roman Catholic elergy, their bishop at their head, who evidently can hardly restrain the expression of his anger. In the galleries still deeper in the back-ground are the members of the government; beneath them, the common people. In the treatment of the different characters, and in the arrangement of the whole, such a nice distinction between the various parties of that period is preserved, that the composition justly assumes the rank of an historical picture. The peculiarities also of the Scottish kirk are
in many respects rendered with the greatest fidelity, and introduced with manifest advantage to the picture; for instance, a sitting group by the pulpit of two women and an infant brought for baptism, which come finely into contrast with the figures of Knox and his pupils.
At the time when M. Pasavant was collecting materials for his work on English art, he was invited by Wilkie to visit him in his studio. M. Pasavant describes the artist's method of working, which was to prepare mahogany panels with a chalk ground without oil; then to draw the outline of the picture; he then covered the whole with a mixture of transparent brownish colour, and at length painted fresh in, subsequently glazing different portions as the keeping of the whole might require.
Wilkie showed this gentleman several of his sketches made on the Continent, and intended for pictures which he did not live to execute. Two of them had reference to Napoleon. The first represents the conqueror standing in the full pride of his power before the seated figure of Pope Pius VII., holding in his hand a document which he wants to compel this latter to sign, while the Pope, with all the dignity of conscious right, firmly rejects his propositions. In the other sketch Napoleon is seen at the Hospice of Mount St. Bernard, warming his hands before a fire; by his side is the priest, who with monkish inquisitiveness asked him what he intended doing with his great army, to which Napoleon answered sharply, “That's a secret: and if my hat even knew it I'd throw it into the fire." This anecdote Wilkie had from the lips of the monk himself, and his pencil has well characterized the moment.
Between the years 1832 and 1841 Wilkie exhibited many fine pictures and portraits, among which may be noticed, his "Spanish Monks," a scene witnessed in a Capuchin convent at Toledo. "Spanish Mother and Child;""Columbus;" "The Peep-'o-Day-Boys' Cabin;" Mary Queen of Scots escaping from Lochleven Castle" "The Cotter's Saturday-night;""The Empress Josephine and the Fortune-teller;" "Queen Victoria's First Council;""Sir David Baird finding the body of Tippoo Saib;" "Grace before Meat;"" Benvenuto Cellini and the Pope;" "The Irish Whisky Still." Among his unfinished works was "Nelson sealing a Letter," and “John Knox administering the Sacrament.”
It was but the other day (says a writer in the Athenæum), that we rejoiced in the departure of this great painter for the East, and saw in fancy a series of delightful pictures, in which the Eastern costume and character were brightly stamped. Letters arrived both from Turkey and Palestine, wherein he expressed his delight in the strange lands and nations he was visiting; nor were his communications without their devout sympathy with the hills and vales which, when a boy, he had seen by the light of Scripture. His pleasure when, on entering the harbour of St Jean D'Acre, he saw the hills of the Holy Land, he described as amounting to rapture.
It has for some time been reported in the newspapers that Sir David was ill, yet he could scarcely be called ailing, either during his voyage to Egypt, or his residence there, where he painted the portrait of Mehemet Ali, and made numerous sketches; indeed, so far as we can learn, his health did not appear to have suffered till he reached Malta, where, oppressed it is said by the heat, he ate freely of fruit, and drank some iced lemonade. According to the published accounts, on the 31st of May last, the Oriental steamer, on board of which Sir David and his friend Mr. Woodburne were passengers, entered Gibraltar Bay, and received her despatches. "Shortly after she had got under weigh, six o'clock A.M., Mr. Woodburne went into Sir David's berth to request he would come up and breakfast with the company; he replied, that he should probably do so, but he should Eke to see the doctor. Mr. Gattie, a medical gentleman, then came to him, and soon returned to Mr. Woodburne with an assurance that his friend was in a very dangerous state. Mr. Woodburne, being greatly alarmed, asked Dr. Brown (who was with Sir James Carnac), to consult Mr. Gattle as to what could be done to save his friend;
and the two medical gentlemen made every exertion and applied all the usual remedies within their reach, with out avail. Sir David kept gradually sinking, but did not conscious about half-past seven, and at eight o'clock he ceased appear to experience any bodily suffering, and became unto breathe, his friends and the physicians being with him all the time. The passengers assembled to consult what was to be done, and they requested the captain to return and land the body at Gibraltar. He did return, but. the orders of the Governor are so strict, that the remains could not be allowed to come on shore, and therefore the last sad office of committing his body to the deep was perOriental stood out of the bay on her way to England." formed in the most solemn and impressive manner as the
When the news of Sir David's death reached England' every one seemed to feel his loss as that of a friend, connected to us by so many pleasant associations. Among other testimonies of respect the touching address to the brother and sister of the artist from the President and Council of the Royal Academy deserves notice here. To THOMAS WILKIE, Esq., the brother, and MISS Helen WILKIE, the sister, of the late SIR DAVID WILKIE, R.A. The President and Council of the Royal Academy, although reluctant to obtrude on sorrows too recent and severe to admit of present alleviation, yet cannot resist the anxious desire they feel, respectfully to manifest to the family of the late Sir David Wilkie how deeply they sympathize in the loss they have sustained by the lamentable and untimely death of that great painter. Connected with him for many years, socially and professionally, as an important member of their body, the Academy are fully sensible how much they have been indebted to his valuable services as a man and an artist; they largely participate, therefore, in the grief and regret which have been so generally excited by an event that has deprived the arts and his country of one of their most distinguished ornaments. The President and Council are well aware that time alone can assuage the sufferings of affection under such a bereavement; but they sincerely hope that when calmer feelings shall succeed to more acute emotions, the relatives and friends of this eminent although he has been unhappily cut off in the full vigour of man will derive much consolation from the reflection, that his powers, he lived long enough for his fame, that his works are known and admired wherever the arts are appreciated, and that he has achieved a celebrity unsurpassed in modern times.
An address was at the same time conveyed througn the Royal Academy to Mr. and Miss Wilkie from the profession at large, expressive of the high sense they entertained of his eminent talents and moral worth.
HIGH is the bliss that waits on wedded love,
From ROLLESTON's Prize Poem of "Mahomet."
DEATH may be said, with almost equal propriety, to confer as well as to level all distinctions. In consequence of that event, a kind of chemical operation takes place; for those characters which were mixed with the gross particles of vice, by being thrown into the alembic of flattery, are sublimated into the essence of virtue. He who, during the performance of his part upon the stage of the world, was little if at all applauded, after the close of the drama is portrayed as the favourite of every virtue under heaven. To save the opulent from oblivion, the sculptor unites his labours with the scholar or the poet, whilst the rustic is indebted for his mite of posthumous renown to the carpenter, the joiner, or the mason. The structures of fame are, in both cases, built with materials whose duration is short. It may check the sallies of pride to reflect on the mortality of men; but for his complete humiliation, let it be remembered, that epitaphs and monuments decay.-BISHOP HORNE.
EASY LESSONS IN CHESS.
THE beneficial influence of the game of chess has been so completely acknowledged by many pious, learned and eminent men, that it would be superfluous to give any lengthy statement of our reasons for inviting the attention of our readers to its practical details. The only plausible objection to it we have ever heard is, that "it answers no useful purpose," and therefore involves a "waste of time." In reply to this we would inquire, are all our actions to be restricted to the one purpose of utility? Is it possible, constituted as we are, to find at all times sufficient recreation in the mere exchange of one duty for another? Are there not moments when the mind as imperatively calls for diversion, as the body for exercise? If this be granted, and we see not how it can be denied, then we must be allowed to express our own conviction, that, provided chess be restricted to leisure hours, its general introduction into families and schools would be productive of benefit. It is capable of affording innocent recreation, and healthy mental exercise to most persons. To thread the mazes of its wonderful and numberless combinations requires the exertion of caution, forbearance, and forethought :— it produces none of the pernicious excitement of games of chance; nothing is staked upon the issue of the game but skill, and in the attainment of that skill, the mental powers are called into agreeable exercise.
The greater number of chess players to be met with in private society seem to know little or nothing of the wide extent and variety of this game. For want of a little study, they have but one method of opening their play, and they consider the first eight or ten moves as a sort of routine or necessary preliminary to the game, and as such to require little or no care. But the reverse of this is the case:-the ORDER Chess comprises many GENERA; to each genus belong numerous SPECIES; and the first few moves determine the genus and species of the game. Even among experienced players the fate of many a game depends upon the correctness of the opening moves. The science of chess, as well as any other science, requires a knowledge of all its classifications, and the peculiarities of each, not only as essential to good play, but also as conducive to that wonderful variety for which chess is so remarkable. Without this knowledge the game soon becomes insipid, because the players soon acquire a mutual understanding of each other's opening moves, and consequently every game is but a tame repetition of those which they had played before. It is for such players that our easy lessons in chess will be valuable. They will form a chess alphabet, equally adapted to those who have not yet learned to read on the chequered page, as well as to those who know their chess letters, and a few of their combinations. Many persons who have attained among their friends a reputation for skill at chess, may think our easy lessons beneath their notice; but if they have not already acquired from books, or from the instructions of a good player, or from experience at play, the various methods of opening and conducting their game, they will find many things new and valuable to them, after we have given the first few preliminary lessons intended for the beginner only. As we advance further we hope to furnish many hints and illustrations calculated to assist the progress of chess students in general. Our instruction will be rendered most familiar by addressing the reader in the second person, and by supposing him always to play with the white pieces; advising
him nevertheless to accustom himself to the use of either colour; for which purpose he will do well to play over our lessons with the white and black pieces alternately. LESSON I.
THE game of chess is played by two persons upon a chequered board of sixty-four squares. Each player is furnished with eight pieces, namely, King, Queen, two
Rooks, two Knights, and two Bishops; and eight pawns. The pieces and pawns of the two players are distinguished by being of opposite colours, and will be represented in
the course of these lessons as follows:
for Rook or Castle.
The king and queen are supported each by three officers and four soldiers; but before you inquire into the powers of the various members of this little army you must become acquainted with the field of battle, and learn how to marshal your forces in proper order. The chess board must be so placed, that each player's righthand corner square may be white. The only reason for this is, to establish a universal rule whereby to set up the pieces. Indeed, it is not necessary that one half of the squares of the chess board be of a different colour to the other half; but that the arrangement greatly facili tates the play. Remember that the rows of squares running upwards are called files, while those from left to right are termed ranks; the oblique rows of squares, either white or black, are called diagonals.
We will now set up the men in the proper order for commencing the game. Your right-hand corner square is white, place a rook on it, and remember that this piece being on the king's side is called the king's rook, and the square on which it stands the king's rook's square. Next to this place a knight, then a bishop, and on the fourth square from the right the king must be placed. You thus see that the king's officers stand on his right on their respective squares; the king's knight on the king's knight's square, and the king's bishop on the king's bishop's square. On the square next to the king place the queen, and observe that she will occupy a white square, while the queen of your antagonist will stand on a black square. Beginners are frequently at a loss to remember the squares occupied by the two royal pieces; but if you bear in mind the simple law that the queen stands on her own colour you cannot err. One consequence of this arrangement is, that your queen is to the left of your king; but if you turn round the board in order to play the black pieces your queen will then be to the right of your king This circumstance is very puzzling to beginners who study from books, in which advice is generally given to the player of the white get confused. pieces; for when they have to play the black men they This is why we have advised you to is very likely that two persons who agree to play may accustom yourself to the use of either colour; besides it have a equal liking for white, but as one of the two must have black, you see how necessary it is to make it a matter of indifference which colour you use. Good players always draw lots for colour.
But we must finish setting up our pieces. A bishop attends the queen on her left hand; then comes knight, and on the left corner square stands the queen's rook. Eight pawns stand immediately in front of the
pieces, and have the following names, beginning from | kind of chess notation which is now very common and the right.
very convenient. The exercise just given would be intelligible to any chess player if simply writen thus:K. B. to K. R. 3rd.
King's rook's pawn
When you have finished setting up your pieces, compare the state of your board with the following arrangement, which shows the proper position of all the pieces and pawns on both sids at the commencement of the game.
The rank which the pieces occupy is sometimes called the royal line, and the eight squares which compose it are called by the names of the pieces occupying them at the commencement of the game: such as king's square. ie, the square whereon the king is first placed, and the square retains this name, throughout the whole of the game, whether the king occupies it or not. The same remark applies to all the other squares of the royal line. The files are also named according to the pieces Occupying the first square in each file. Thus king's rook's square is the first of the king's rook's file: king's rook's pawn occupies the king's rook's second square. King's rook's third, fourth, fifth, and sixth squares are anoccupied; king's rook's seventh is your adversary's king's rook's second square, and is occupied by his king's rook's pawn. Your king's rook's eighth square is your adversary's king's rook's square where that piece is now at home, as it is sometimes called when the piece has not been moved, or having been moved, is played back to its square.
Thus, all the files are named, and this easy method gives a name to every one of the sixty-four squares, and is equally available for your antagonist as well as for yourself.
We will now give you a few exercises on the names of the squares and the pieces. Remove all your white pawns from the board, and all your adversary's pieces, and then :
1. Place your king's bishop on your king's rook's third square.
But as we shall hereafter have to give you many directions for playing a piece from one square to another, it will be desirable to write our instructions in the shortest possible manner; we shall, therefore, use that
2. Play your queen to her eighth square:
i.e., queen to adversary's queen's square.
3. Play your queen's knight to your queen's bishop's third square:
Q. Kt. to Q. B. 3rd.
4. Play your king to his bishop's second square: K. to K. B. 2nd.
5. Place your sixth square.
king's bishop on your queen's rook's
K. B. to Q. R. 6th.
6. Place your queen on the king's knight's fourth
Q. to K. Kt. 4th.
We will now finish our first lesson. Although you do not yet know the moves of the pieces, yet you are quite competent to perform the exercises given above.
AN IMPROVED METHOD OF SOLDERING
ONE great advantage to the public at large to be derived
The disuse of charcoal and tin by plumbers will have the important effect of rendering their trade less unhealthy, the fumes from their brasiers, and the arsenical vapours emanating from impure tin, being a very common cause of serious maladies.
By the old method of soldering, there is great danger of setting fire to houses and public buildings; the destruction of the corn market of Paris, and of the cathedrals of Chartres and of Bruges by fire, was partly owing to the negligence of plumbers; a negligence for which there could be no reason if the new method of soldering had been introduced, since it is only necessary to turn a cock in order to extinguish or re-kindle at any moment the jet of gas which serves for the plumber's tool. By means of the new apparatus, a soldering flame can be conducted to a distance of several fathoms without the dangerous necessity of lighting a brazier to heat irons, to melt masses of solder, and to carry the whole into the midst of complicated carpentry work.
The disuse of solder will also greatly reduce the price of plumber's work, without, however, diminishing the demand for the services of the workmen. The disuse of seams or overlappings, which from this new mode of connecting lengths of lead will almost entirely be given up, will alone occasion a considerable saving in the quantity of lead employed. The ease with which lead of from one-thirtieth to one-tenth of an inch in thickness may be soldered, and defects repaired, will permit of the substitution of this, in many cases, for thicker lead, and thus diminish the expense; perhaps also it will give rise to the use of lead for purposes to which it has not yet been applied, or the return to others, in which from motives of economy it has been superseded by other metals.
The plumber will also be indebted to M. de Richemont's method for several important improvements. He will be able in future to make internal joints wherever a jet of flame can be introduced and directed; to reconstruct on the spot, of pure lead, any portion of a