17 JULY 1830, Page 19

FINE ARTS.

MR. MARTIN'S MEZZOTINT OF HIS PICTURE OF "THE FALL OF NINEVEH."

Tins magnificent print is engraved from the last great picture painted by Mr. MARTIN, and we may say, his best and most successful effort. It represents the invasion of Nineveh by the rebel forces, and the de- struction of part of the city by fire, while SardanapaluS and his comets bines are about to enter the funeral pile in which he has heaped all his wealth. It is a scene well suited to the artist's peculiar talent ; as it affordsample scope for the exercise of his skill in arranging imposing dis- plays of architecture and perspective, and combinations of gloom and splendour. The foreground consists of a terrace on which are assembled the king and queen, women and concubines, priests and slaves, in various attitudes of terror and despair. On the right is seen one wing of the palace, and on the left part of the funeral pile. In the middle distance, the invading army is pouring itt like a flood, pursuing the flying Nine- vites ; and in the distance is part of the city in flames. We confess that we are not among those who implicitly admire these stupendous piles of architecture, pillar heaped on pillar in an ascending series of colonnades and battlements, whose number, solidity, and extent, seem designed to crush the understanding and confuse the sight with their weight and intricacy. We do not like this taking the senses by storm—laying siege to the judgment by force of numbers : but we are compelled to say, that those who relish such attacks upon their admira- tion will find a splendid conquest achieved over their minds by the pre- sent work. No one but Mr. MART ix can give so vivid an idea, or so complete a representation of an invading army, in a small space: myriads of men, horses and chariots and elephants, are represented with almost individual minuteness, yet with a congregated effect. This we always considered to be the most successful and astonishing part of the present work. The groups in the foreground we cannot admire, even putting the ill-drawing of the figures out of the question. They are theatrical at best. The little bit of quiet moonlight which forms a beautiful con- trast to the confusion of the rest of the scene, seems to us the most va- luable, because the most natural part of the picture. The surface of the river is too dark to he consistent with the conflagration of a city on its banks,—although it is in good keeping with the entire effect of the piece. The water surely should reflect some gleams of the light in the atmo- sphere. Viewed as a whole, however, this print is a very splendid per- formance ; and Mr. MARTIN deserves high praise for his skill in exe- cuting the mezzotint, which is in itself a work of no ordinary labour and excellence. It is rather muddy in parts, but taken altogether, it is better done by the ingenious artist himself than it could have been by another. We like Mr. MARTIN on copper much better than on canvass, as far as regards his effects. The shadows are more visionary, and we miss the meretricious glare of colour which deforms the gorgeousness of his .paintings. Mr. MARTIN announces his intention of designing and engraving a series of Illustrations of the Bible. This is a bold enterprise, and a tremendous task if the plates are intended to illustrate the Bible, and not merely to display the artist's powers. We fear that there will be some danger of Mr. MARTIN repeating himself or rendering the em. -bellishments monotonous in style ; because of his effects being in them. selves peculiar, and the range of subjects suited to the scope of his in- vention possessing a similarity of character, though that is a very striking one. The Bible illustrated entirely by TURNER, or DANDY, or even by REMBRANDT, would be toujours perdrix even to the greatest admirers of their splendid effects. At the same time, Mr. MARTIN'S effects tell so well in black and white, and the quality of his imagination ac- cords with so many of the most wonderful scenes described in Scripture, that we have not the least doubt his proposed embellishments will be very popular. We would, however, recommend this ingenious artist to make his selection of subjects with a view to their scenic effect, and to exhibit the human figure in groups, or at a distance only; for his studies having been directed by his genius to architecture and land- scape, the inefficiency of his pencil to delineate the figure and to portray the expression of the countenance as an artist should do, is painfully evident. Obscurity, vastness, and profusion are the elements of Mr. MARTIN'S style-

"'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view ;"

and his success depends entirely upon effect. To attempt such subjects AS Christ at Emmaus, and those which rely for their value upon an ap- peal to the heart and the understanding, would subject the artist to the mortification of failure. But in the Revelations, the prophetic visions, and all supernatural occurrences or scenes on a grand scale, or such as are viewed at a distance, Mr. MARTIN will be at home, and will not fail to astonish and to please. We long to see his ideas of the Tower of Babel—the Destruction of Sodom—the Temple of Solomon—Moses re- ceiving the Tables—the Plague of Darkness—and indeed all the nume- rous appropriate subjects in which his fancy will revel. His illustrations of MieToN are an earnest of his ability and success in that field.