I have very often lamented and hinted my Sorrow in several Speculations, that the Art of Painting is made so little Use of to the Improvement of our Manners. When we consider that it places the Action of the Person represented in the most agreeable Aspect imaginable, that it does not only express the Passion or Concern as it sits upon him who is drawn, but has under those Features the Height of the Painters Imagination. What strong Images of Virtue and Humanity might we not expect would be instilled into the Mind from the Labours of the Pencil? This is a Poetry which would be understood with much less Capacity, and less Expence of Time, than what is taught by Writings; but the Use of it is generally perverted, and that admirable Skill prostituted to the basest and most unworthy Ends. Who is the better Man for beholding the most beautiful Venus, the best wrought Bacchanal, the Images of sleeping Cupids, languishing Nymphs, or any of the Representations of Gods, Goddesses, Demy-gods, Satyrs, Polyphemes, Sphinxes, or Fauns? But if the Virtues and Vices, which are sometimes pretended to be represented under such Draughts, were given us by the Painter in the Characters of real Life, and the Persons of Men and Women whose Actions have rendered them laudable or infamous; we should not see a good History-Piece without receiving an instructive Lecture. There needs no other Proof of this Truth, than the Testimony of every reasonable Creature who has seen the Cartons in Her Majesty's Gallery at Hampton--Court: These are Representations of no less Actions than those of our Blessed Saviour and his Apostles. As I now sit and recollect the warm Images which the admirable Raphael has raised, it is impossible even from the faint Traces in ones Memory of what one has not seen these two Years, to be unmoved at the Horror and Reverence which appear in the whole Assembly when the mercenary Man fell down dead; at the Amazement of the Man born blind, when he first receives Sight; or at the graceless Indignation of the Sorcerer, when he is struck blind. The Lame, when they first find Strength in their Feet, stand doubtful of their new Vigour. The heavenly Apostles appear acting these great Things, with a deep Sense of the Infirmities which they relieve, but no Value of themselves who administer to their Weakness. They know themselves to be but Instruments; and the generous Distress they are painted in when divine Honours are offered to them, is a Representation in the most exquisite Degree of the Beauty of Holiness. When St. Paul is preaching to the Athenians, with what wonderful Art are almost all the different Tempers of Mankind represented in that elegant Audience? You see one credulous of all that is said, another wrapt up in deep Suspence, another saying there is some Reason in what he says, another angry that the Apostle destroys a favourite Opinion which he is unwilling to give up, another wholly convinced and holding out his Hands in Rapture; while the Generality attend, and wait for the Opinion of those who are of leading Characters in the Assembly. I will not pretend so much as to mention that Chart on which is drawn the Appearance of our Blessed Lord after his Resurrection. Present Authority, late Suffering, Humility and Majesty, Despotick Command, and [Divine]  Love, are at once seated in his celestial Aspect. The Figures of the Eleven Apostles are all in the same Passion of Admiration, but discover it differently according to their Characters. Peter receives his Masters Orders on his Knees with an Admiration mixed with a more particular Attention: The two next with a more open Ecstasy, though still constrained by the Awe of the Divine  Presence: The beloved Disciple, whom I take to be the Right of the two first Figures, has in his Countenance Wonder drowned in Love; and the last Personage, whose Back is towards the Spectator[s], and his Side towards the Presence, one would fancy to be St. Thomas, as abashed by the Conscience of his former Diffidence; which perplexed Concern it is possible Raphael thought too hard a Task to draw but by this Acknowledgment of the Difficulty to describe it.
The whole Work is an Exercise of the highest Piety in the Painter; and all the Touches of a religious Mind are expressed in a Manner much more forcible than can possibly be performed by the most moving Eloquence. These invaluable Pieces are very justly in the Hands of the greatest and most pious Sovereign in the World; and cannot be the frequent Object of every one at their own Leisure: But as an Engraver is to the Painter what a Printer is to an Author, it is worthy Her Majesty's Name, that she has encouraged that Noble Artist, Monsieur Dorigny,  to publish these Works of Raphael. We have of this Gentleman a Piece of the Transfiguration, which, I think, is held a Work second to none in the World.
Methinks it would be ridiculous in our People of Condition, after their large Bounties to Foreigners of no Name or Merit, should they overlook this Occasion of having, for a trifling Subscription, a Work which it is impossible for a Man of Sense to behold, without being warmed with the noblest Sentiments that can be inspired by Love, Admiration, Compassion, Contempt of this World, and Expectation of a better.
It is certainly the greatest Honour we can do our Country, to distinguish Strangers of Merit who apply to us with Modesty and Diffidence, which generally accompanies Merit. No Opportunity of this Kind ought to be neglected; and a modest Behaviour should alarm us to examine whether we do not lose something excellent under that Disadvantage in the Possessor of that Quality. My Skill in Paintings, where one is not directed by the Passion of the Pictures, is so inconsiderable, that I am in very great Perplexity when I offer to speak of any Performances of Painters of Landskips, Buildings, or single Figures. This makes me at a loss how to mention the Pieces which Mr. Boul exposes to Sale by Auction on Wednesday next in Shandois-street: But having heard him commended by those who have bought of him heretofore for great Integrity in his Dealing, and overheard him himself (tho a laudable Painter) say, nothing of his own was fit to come into the Room with those he had to sell, I fear'd I should lose an Occasion of serving a Man of Worth, in omitting to speak of his Auction.
[Footnote 1: Swift to Stella, Nov. 18, 1711.
Do you ever read the SPECTATORS? I never do; they never come in my way; I go to no coffee-houses. They say abundance of them are very pretty; they are going to be printed in small volumes; Ill bring them over with me.]
Pictura Poesis erit.
[Footnote 3: Brotherly]
[Footnote 4: coelestial]
[Footnote 5: Michel Dorigny, painter and engraver, native of St. Quentin, pupil and son-in-law of Simon Vouet, whose style he adopted, was Professor in the Paris Academy of Painting, and died at the age of 48, in 1665. His son and Vouet's grandson, Nicolo Dorigny, in aid of whose undertaking Steele wrote this paper in the Spectator, had been invited from Rome by several of the nobility, to produce, with licence from the Queen, engravings from Raphael's Cartoons, at Hampton Court. He offered eight plates 19 inches high, and from 25 to 30 inches long, for four guineas subscription, although, he said in his Prospectus, the five prints of Alexanders Battles after Lebrun were often sold for twenty guineas.]
ADVERTISEMENT.Translation of motto:
_There is arrived from_ Italy
who acknowledges himself the greatest Person of the Age in that Art,
and is willing to be as renowned in this Island
as he declares he is in Foreign Parts_.
The Doctor paints the Poor for nothing.