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CHARGED. A term in art intended to express anything that is outre or extravagant. Simplicity and elegance, founded on correctness, forbid in the general exercise of the art, everything that is excessive or exaggerated; everything, in fact, that is not strictly proportioned to the perfection of nature. Yet there are circumstances in which it is not only permitted, but necessary, to exceed the precise boundary of scale and proportion. Those objects, in particular, which are to be seen at a considerable distance, and where the point of view requires that the scrupulous exactitude of form, expression, and even of colour, which are required in ordinary imitation, should be aggrandized according to their distance from the spectator. Such, among others, are the paintings in cupolas, or other elevated situations.
CHIAROSCURO. This term relates to the general distribution of the lights and shadows in a picture, and their just degradation, as they recede from the focus of light. In order to render this effect of the chiaroscuro more intelligible, it may be well to consider it as acting on an individual object. When the light, issuing from a given point, expands itself over a particular body, an infinite number of rays, emanating from that point, are directed towards the illumined object, and strike upon everything they can reach of its surface. The ray which first touches the nearest part of that surface, carries to it the most lively light, because it arrives in a less alterated state, and reaches it by a shorter line, than those rays directed to objects more removed from their source, and consequently, having farther to travel, become less brilliant and luminous. These arrangements of light and shadow form the science of the chiaroscuro, which, when properly understood, gratify the spectator with an accord, similar to that of the harmony of sounds to the ear; whereas, where the lights and shadows are indiscriminately scattered, and there is a want of union and subordination, the sight is wounded by discord and incongruity. “It comprehends not only light and shade, without which the forms of no object can be perfectly represented, but also all arrangements of light and dark colours in every degree; in short, in accordance with the compound word composing its name, which we have adopted from the Italian,
the light and dark of a picture,” says Professor Phillips. The best examples among the Italians are, perhaps, to be found in the pictures of Lionardo da Vinci, Giorgione, and Correggio; among the Dutch, in those of Rembrandt, Adrian Ostade, and De Hooge.
The term, however, is now more extensively used, and is applied to pictures painted in one colour, or in black and white merely, and relates to outlines shadowed to give roundness to the figures, and a resemblance to basso rilievo, as in the ornamental designs of Jacob de Wit, and other architectural decorations. Many of the old masters completed the ordonnance of their compositions in chiaroscuro before putting them in colours; Rembrandt, Rubens, and Van Dyck have left instances; they are still more numerous among the Italians.
Prints from wood blocks, tinted with bistre, or heightened with white, are said to be in chiaroscuro, as those by Skippe after Parmigiano. The objects produced by Photography, as now practised on paper instead of metallic substances, may be said to be in chiaroscuro.
The French word Camaieu has the same meaning when applied to pictures painted in one colour.
COMPOSITION. In the language of the art, composition consists in the general arrangement of objects which the imagination has conceived, and the putting together of individual parts to form a picturesque whole. This is considered one of the greatest difficulties the painter has to encounter. In the composition of a picture it is essential that nothing should be introduced which is not appropriate and analogous to the subject. Profusion has ever been esteemed a vice, even in the most extensive subjects, which, instead of adding to the beauty and expression of the work, diminishes the effect of both.
A composition is said to be confused when it is loaded with objects which interfere with each other by their disposition or multiplicity. · A composition is conceived to be great, not from the number of the figures, but from the skill with which the artist has disposed them, so as to leave no
ace which the eye requires to be occupied. A grand composition differs from that which is usually denominated rich; the first is characterized by simplicity, the
vacancy in the
second by abundance. The compositions of Paul Veronese may be styled rich, those of Raffaelle lay claim to grandeur. Niccolo Poussin's are classical, Rembrandt's natural.
CONTOUR. See OUTLINE.
CONTRAST. By contrast is meant, in painting, the variety in the position or motion of the different objects, and may be said to be the opposite to repetition. There are several contrasts observable in works of art, and those distinct from each other. The contrast of light and shadow, which constitutes the chiaroscuro; a contrast in the movements of the different figures, and even in the different parts of the same figure; another in the age, sex, or passions of the different personages. Thus each figure is frequently in contrast with the others in the same group, and the several groups are also contrasted with each other. The judicious arrangement of this contrast or opposition, forms one of the great requisites of a fine picture.
CORRECTNESS. Correctness of design, as it relates to the beauty of the art, consists in the exact observance of the just proportions of the figure, as established by the models of selected nature, or the chefs d'auvre of antiquity. It is further exemplified by giving more or less of beauty, dignity, or grandeur to the figure, according to the age, sex, or condition of the personage represented. It is not always necessary that to be correct the design should be beautiful. It is sometimes sufficient that nature, even in a form less perfect, is faithfully delineated.
COSTUME. In the works of historical painters, the laws of costume require that the subject should be treated with all possible attention to traditional veracity in a strict regard to the customs, character, and habits of the particular country in which the event occurred. It has been further observed, that it is not sufficient that there should be nothing contrary to usage, but that some particular object should be introduced, to indicate the time and place in which the subject is represented. The same correct attention is requisite in the buildings, animals, plants, &c. The works of Niccolo Poussin are, perhaps, those in which costumal propriety has been attended to with the stricest conformity; and this may be attributed to his perfect acquaintance with the antique. It was probably this, rather than his other great qualities, that procured him the title of Le Peintre des gens d'esprit.
DEMITINT. This term in art appears to be sufficiently explicit in itself, as to its general signification ; but, in order to give a more precise definition of it, it may be necessary to observe, that every colour may be divided into shades or tints, which again admit of subdivision; but the word demitint ought not always to be understood literally. As every colour can be modified or broken into different shades, all of them may, according to the use the artist makes of them, be called demitints, when, in the harmonizing of the picture, they serve as a passage from one tint to another.
DESIGN. In a general sense, design means the art of imitating by a trace, or outline, the form of the object presented to the view. See OUTLINE. It is now commonly applied to a drawing made to be engraved; and the artist is called a designer, to distinguish him from a painter of a picture. It, however, has a more extensive sense, and
may be used in various ways with reference to art.
DISTEMPER. The mode of painting in distemper is one of the most ancient that we know, if it may not rather be said to have preceded every other. Water is undoubtedly the most natural and the simplest means of giving to coloured matter in powder the fluidity necessary for its employment. But as experience showed that colour so prepared, when deprived of its moisture, detached itself easily from the surface on which it was spread, means were sought to give it the necessary consistence by the introduction of sizy or glutinous substance, by which it was rendered more permanent. Distemper was the general mode of painting previous to the discovery of oil painting.
DRAPERY. The art of casting or disposing the foldings of the drapery requires no inconsiderable part of the painter's attention; and great judgment and taste are necessary to arrange it in such a manner as to display the form to the greatest advantage, and that the folds may correspond the movement of the figure. In the higher walk of historical painting, the folds should be large and few, because the grandeur of the forms produces broad and simple masses of light and shadow, and it is always in the remembrance of the intelligent artist that drapery is meant to cover, not to hide, the figure.
Draperies ought to be suited to the age, character, and rank of the figures they clothe. Stuffs of a gay colour and of a light texture may be proper for youth; those of a soberer hue and a heavier substance, for persons advanced in years. A personage of a grave or austere character should be differently habited from a gay voluptuary; a Roman matron should not be attired like a courtesan.
DRYNESS. Applied to painting, dryness implies a harshness and formality in the outline, and a want of mellowness in the colouring The early essays of a young artist are usually dry and hard, arising from a timid and scrupulous imitation of the most minute details of the objects he adopts as a model; and this appears to have been the case with some of the greatest masters who have practised the art. That this defect is not always produced by want of talent, we have a striking proof in the example of Raffaelle, whose earliest works partake of the dry, Gothic hardness of the painters who preceded him, though he afterwards acquired the grand and graceful style, by which his best performances are distinguished. Thus we find, that the defect of dryness may be corrected by study and practice, when that timidity in which it appears to originate is not inherent in the mind of the artist.
ELEGANCE. In relation to art, elegance is a quality which partakes of a degree of grace with a certain portion of the beautiful. Without the necessity of an exact and scrupulous purity, it is sometimes to be found attached to a sort of negligence that accompanies incorrectness. The figures of Correggio perhaps possess more elegance than those of Raffaelle, yet the superiority of the latter will not be disputed in beauty and dignity. Elegance is nearly the opposite to stiffness, and consists, in a great degree, in a graceful suppleness and flexibility.
EXPRESSION, is the representation of the human frame under the impression of a particular sentiment, by which the mind is affected. As it relates to painting, it sidered under two characters, positive and relative. A figure