4 APRIL 1840, Page 19



THE name of MICHAEL ANGELO IS " familiar in our mouths as household words," but few persons in this country are really acquainted with his- works. No one, indeed, can fully appreciate his genius who has not visited the Sistine Chapel, and gazed upon the wondrous creations of his pencil, the Sybils and Prophets. Those who have not been fortunate enough to drink at the fountain-head. may slake their thirst from the large draughts brought front Rome by Mr. llowtok : from them we got our first taste of the inspiration of the mighty master. We confess to having had sonic sceptical misgivinars touching the supremacy of MICHAEL. ANGELO: but we repudiate the heresy, and now rank among the most devout worshippers of die first person of that trinity—RAP■ FAELLE and LEONARDO being the other two—that constitutes (not to speak profanely) the godhead of halloo art. Engravings. however faithful and forcible. are wholly inadequate to convey an idea of these stupendous conceptions at all commensurate with their Grandeur: the largeness of style and prodigious giilistictiaroef Miena to, A som.o's drawing can no more be rendered in mil than the volume of sound in llosort's choruses can be produced by a small orchestra. Fine copies on a grand scale, made by a bold and skilful hand, conveying to a near view the effect of the originals as seen from the floor of the chapel, call alone enlarge the comprehen- sion sufficiently to take in the colossal images in their full maguitude ; without which, the 'Mud. is not duly impressed with a sense of their sublimity. Such are these cartoons by Mr. BEWICK—coloured drawings, half the scale of the frescoes, of the upper parts of four Prophets and four Sy bils. They were made, together with a few fragments. of figures, as stitches for a series of whole-lengths the full size. which the artist was commissioned to paint for Sir THOMAS LAWRENCE: four of the paintings only were completed when his death stopped the progress of the work, and the finished copies were dispersed at the sale of his effects. The Royal Academy ought to have bought them for the use of the students: though they had not the spirit to carry out the noble purpose of their President, let us hope they will not forego the present opportunity of repairing their neglect, and enriching our school of art with what remains : we are glad to hear that the matter is under consideration. It is not likely that better copies would be made, were the expense of sending out an artist, erect- ing scaffolding, &c. again to be incurred. The leading characteristics of these designs of Mouses ANGELO are power and majesty ; yet while the fancy is borne up to " the highest heaven of invention" in the painter's daring flight, the mind is free to trace the human features that give to these preternatural beings a strongly-marked individuality ; distinguishing each front the other by appropriate attributes, and showing them to be of mortal mould, though almost demigods in aspect. For instance, there is no mistaking one prophet for another— so vividly is the character of their mission expressed: Ezekiel looks towards the vision with all his soul in his eyes ; Jeremiah, down• cast, sits steeped in profound lamentation, his face half hid in his hand, and his limbs relaxed and drooping ; Isaiah,who had been medi- tating with his head resting on his hand, has suddenty turned round his sharp face with stern look and ruffled brow, as if threatening Divine vengeance ; while Joel, with heavy features and portentous fOrehead, broods over the wickedness of mankind. Equally various are the Sybils: Cumma, an aged crone—a sublimation of one of the witches in Macbeth—her wrinkled visage full of cunning and mischief, contrasts with the Cassandra-like beauty of Persica, in whose youthful and lovely lineaments wildness is blended with ethereal pace : Lybica is rising to close the mystic volume with the air of an archangel hold- ing the " book of life." Menem. ANGELO'S power of drawing was immense he seems to have studied only Titanic forms, such is the amplitude of his style. His knowledge of anatomy was so profound, and his skill of hand so consummate, that lie masters the most difficult foreshortening of corn- .plicated action with the facility of intuition : his achievements are wonderful for the absence of effort. The simplicity of his composi- tions is no less remarkable than their grandeur ; and beauty of the most exquisite kind occasionally relieves the severity of his imagina- tion. The utmost energy of expression is coupled with repose of atti- tude: while the countenance denotes intense emotion, the limbs are heavy with passive strength—" like might half slumbering on its own right arm." The draperies of his prophets cast in broad folds hang like the mantle of inspiration ; and the twisted head-dresses of his Sybils seem typical of their riddle predictions.

But we must break off: no words can give an idea of these Atlantean shapes of power. Mr. Bewice, we believe, liberally permits strangers to see the cartoons, on presenting a card at his house, 27, George Street, Hanover Square.