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AND J. M. W. TURNER.
The successful sale of a large edition of the First Series of the ANECDOTE BIOGRAPHY attests the public approbation of the general design of the Work ;-to narrate, by way of Anecdote, the Lives of some of the most distinguished Persons of the last and present centuries.
It need scarcely be repeated that a leading feature of the plan is to present the reader with these Anecdotic Illustrations in the order of time, and not en melée, the scheme, if so it can be called, of the majority of anecdote-books. By such sequence, the points of character in the lives of the individuals are most attractively illustrated ; whilst the higher aim of Biography,—to discriminate as well as amuse,—is invariably kept in view throughout the chain of incidents.
The former Series comprises the Anecdote Biography of LORD CHATHAM and EDMUND BURKE. The volume now submitted to the reader is devoted to the Lives of the Six GREATEST PAINTERS OF THE ENGLISH School, ranging almost throughout its entire history; and the personal characteristics as well as the works of these great Artists will be found to yield a feast of rich variety of circumstance and interest.*
First, we have HOGARTH, “whose patrons were the million,” and the moral of whose pictures is pointed by an unerring hand. In manners he was as opposite to the blandness of Sir Joshua Reynolds as the east side is to the west of Leicester-square. Of REYNOLDS, how many delightful traits are written in letters of gold !—how the bachelor Painter loved children, and how he preferred their artless graces to the accomplishments of the high-born beauties and noble
* The work contains upwards of 500 Anecdotes, several of them derived from original communications, and sources but little resorted to.
forms that made up his gay bevy of sitters !—and how the first President gathered round his hospitable board troops of friends, the wealth of whose genius yielded the highest intellectual feast he could enjoy!
To REYNOLDS succeeds GAINSBOROUGH, whose academy was the woods and fields of Suffolk, and its rustic population; and who retained his lovely power of painting natural beauty amid the artificial gaiety of Bath, and the still more artificial life of the metropolis in Pall Mall. TO GAINSBOROUGH succeeds FUSELI, the classic illustrator of Shakspeare and Milton, and whose pleasantry and piquant humour gave many a charm to this artist's social circle.
To FUSELI succeeds the courtly Sir THOMAS LAWRENCE, the painter of many imperial and royal crowned heads, and the flower of our aristocracy. To his rare artistic skill he united gentleness and amiability of character; and, like the bachelor REYNOLDS, the unmarried LAWRENCE delighted in painting lovely children. To this accomplished President succeeds the uncourtly J. M. W. TURNER,—the finest painter of the finest scenes in the world, by land and sea. Though rough in his nature, and penurious in his rule of life, he hoarded for excellent purpose, and bequeathed to his country the priceless treasures of his long and brilliant artistic
With such wealth of materials, the Editor has neither felt inclination nor opportunity for verbose narrative; and his labour lay in the opposite direction—that of selection and condensation. Throughout the work will be found an abundant store of Characteristics and Personal Traits of the Painters, Stories of their Works, and Opinions of Art-critics; so as to assist the reader in forming an estimate of the Progress of the Art during the last century and a half; and it is hoped, through these manifold uses and attractions, to bespeak for the present volume as favourable a reception as that bestowed upon its predecessor.
LONDON, Oct. 1, 1860.