Wirz, John

, an artist, whom, Fuseli says, situation, temper, and perhaps circumstances, hav:e deprived of the celebrity he deserved, was a native of Zuric, born in 1640, the son of a canon, and professor of divinity in its college, and appears to have had a liberal education. Thoqgb, when a youth, he lost one eye, he was bound to Conrad Meyer, of whom, with the elements of painting, he | acquired the mystery of etching. As a painter he devoted himself to portraiture, which he exercised with success, and in a style little inferior and sometimes equal to that of S. Hofmann; but the imitation of dormant or insipid countenances, unable to fill a mind so active and open to impression, in time gave way to composition in art and writing, both indeed devoted to the most bigoted superstition, and theologic rancour, for in his Dialogues ofi the Apocalypsis of S, John, blind zeal, legendary falsehood, and barbarism of style, go hand in hand with shrewdness of observation, controversial acuteness, and blunt naivete a heterogeneous mass, embellished by ah etched series of poetic and historic subjects, in compositions dictated.by the most picturesque fancy, original, magnificent, various, romantic, terrible, and fantastic; though in small, on a scale of arrangement and combinations to fill the pompous scenery of Paolo, or challenge the wildest caprice of Salvator; and in the conception of the Last Judgment, for sublimity far superior to Michael Agnolo. With these prerogatives, and neither insensible to beauty nor form, the artist is often guilty of ludicrous, nay, even premeditated incorrectness, and contortions which defy possibility. His style of etching, free, spirited, and yet regular, resembles that of Wilhelm Baur; and though no vestiges remain of his having seen Italy, it is difficult to conceive by what other means he could acquire that air of Italian scenery, and that minute acquaintance with the architecture, the costume, and ceremonies, of that country, without having visited it himself. His dialogues, above mentioned, were published in 1677, 8vo, entitled “J. Wirzii Romse animale exemplum, &c.” with 42 plates. Wirz resided and died in 1709, at a small villa which he possessed near Zuric. 1

1 Pilkington by Fuseli.