Gui Do, Reni

, a very celebrated artist, was born at Bologna in 1574, and early in life became the pupil of Denis Calvert, a Fleming; but he afterwards entered the school of the Carracci at Bologna, and is by many considered as their principal pupil, and none but Domenichino would have been entitled to dispute that praise with him, if his astonishing work of the communion of St. Jerome had been equally supported by his other labours, The | Carracci, however, were too jealous to rejoice in the extraordinary progress of Guido, who threatened to rival at least, if not surpass, their own claims to public applause, and Ludovico disgracefully attempted to depreciate his pupil by opposing Guercino to him, while Annihal himself js said to have censured Albani for having conducted Guido. thither, alarmed at his aspiring talents, his graceful man-, ner, and ambitious desire to excel.

It is not, however, in their style that he wrought, hut he chose for himself his objects and manner of imitation and his various styles exhibit how anxiously he sought for fame at one time imitating Passerotti, at another Carravaggio, and then, stimulated by a remark of A. Cafracci, framing one for himself; the reverse of Carravaggio’s, all gentleness and softness. Skilful in execution, he had no difficulty in imitating whatever he desired his pencil was light, and his touch free and delicate and he took great pains to finish his pictures not with, minute detail, but with great roundness in the figures, correct arrangement of the folds of his draperies, which he perfectly understood, and made great use of in filling up his canvas, and the most careful management of all the inferior parts. The beauty he gave to his females, he sought for in the antique, and the group of Niobe particularly. He has frequently expressed the pathetic and the tender. One of his heads, formerly the property of earl Moira, and now in possession of the venerable president of the royal academy, exhibits our Saviour with the crown of thorns upon his head, and has been admirably engraved by Sharp. It is not possible for painting to go beyond it in the perfect attainment ef its object, the expression of pious resignation under acute suffering of mind and body, with beauty and truth of character. Mr. Fuseli, in his late edition of Pilkington, has. given justly the character of the generality of Guide’s works he says, “his attitudes seldom elevate themselves to the fine expression and graceful simplicity of the face the grace of Guido is the grace of theatre; the mode, not the motive, determines the action: his Magdalens weep to be seen, his Hero throws herself over Leander, Herodias holds the head of her victim, his Lucretias stab themselves, with the studied airs, and ambitious postures, of buskined heroines; it would, however, be unjust not to allow there are exceptions from this affectation in his works. Helen departing with Paris, is one which alone niight atone for | every other blemish. In her divine face, the sublime purity of the Niobe is mixed with the charms of the Venus; the wife, the mother, give indeed way to the lover; but spread a soft melancholy which tempers her fervour with dignity. This expression is supported by the careless unconscious elegance of her attitude, whilst that of Paris, stately, courteous, insipid, gives him more the air of an ambassador, attending her as proxy, than that of a lover carrying her off for himself.

Many of Guido’s latter performances are not to be placed in competitionwith those which he painted before he unhappily fell into distressed circumstances, by an insatiable appetite to gaming, when his necessities compelled him to work for immediate subsistence, and he contracted a habit of painting in a more slight and negligent manner, without any attention to his honour or his fame. In the church of St. Philip Neri, at Fano, there is a grand altar-piece by Guido, representing Christ delivering the keys to St. Peter. The head of our Saviour is exceedingly fine, that of St. John admirable and the other apostles are in a grand style, full of elegance, with a strong expression and it is well preserved. In the archiepiscopal gallery at Milan, is a St. John, wonderfully tender in the colouring, and the graces diffused through the design excite the admiration of every beholder. At Bologna, in the Palazzo Tanaro, is a most beautiful picture of the Virgin, the infant Jesus, and St. John; Jn which the heads are exquisitely graceful, and the draperies in a grand style. But in the Palazzo Zampieri is preserved one of the most capital paintings of Guido: the subject is, the Penitence of St. Peter after denying Christ, with one of the apostles seeming to comfort him. The figures are as large as life, and the whole is of an astonishing beauty; the painter having shewn, in that single performance, the art of painting carried to its highest perfection. The heads are nobly designed, the colouring clear and precious, and the expression inimitably just and natural.

Great were the honours this painter received from Paul V. from all the cardinals and princes of Italy, from Lewis XIII. of France, Philip IV. of Spain, and from the king of Poland and Sweden, who, besides a noble reward, made him a compliment, in a letter under his own hand, for an Europa he had sent him. He was extremely handsome arul graceful in his person; and so very beautiful in his | younger days, that his master Luclovico, in painting his angels, took him always for his model. Nor was he an angel only in his looks, if we may jDelieve what Gioseppino told the pope, when he asked his opinion of Guido’s performances in the Capella Quirinale, “Our pictures,” said he, “are the works of men’s hands, but these are made by hands divine.” In his behaviour he was modest, gentle, and very obliging; lived in great splendour both at Bologna and Rome; and was only unhappy in his immoderate love of gaming. To this in his latter days he abandoned himself so entirely, that all the money he could get by his pencil, or borrow upon interest, was too little to supply his losses: and he was at last reduced to so poor and mean a condition, that the consideration of his present circumstances, together with reflections on his former reputation and high manner of living, brought a languishing distemper on him, of which he died in 1642. 1

1 Argenville, vol. II, PilkJDgton.^-—Rees’s Cyclopædia. Sir J. Reynolds’s Works; see Index.