Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Ordering of the Arts in Eighteenth-Century England

Ordering of the Arts in Eighteenth-Century England

Copyright Date: 1970
Pages: 522
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Ordering of the Arts in Eighteenth-Century England
    Book Description:

    By the end of the eighteenth century, the arts had been surveyed by an unprecedented series of major works on literature, music, and painting of which the author or this book provides a rich and comprehensive analysis.

    Originally published in 1970.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7007-3
    Subjects: Art & Art History, History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Lawrence Lipking
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiv-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-20)

    BY the middle of the eighteenth century, men interested in the arts had become concerned about a “chasm in English literature.” Painting, music, and poetry attracted larger audiences than ever before, but their accomplishments had not been set in order. There was no great native history of any art, no canon of what was best, no model of a standard of taste. For the first time many Englishmen thought it important that their arts should have a history and their tastes should have a guide. They called for authors to satisfy that need. By the end of the century their...

  7. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  8. Part One: Themes and Precedents

    • CHAPTER ONE Franciscus Junius, George Turnbull, and the Passing of Humanistic Order
      (pp. 23-37)

      WHEN in 1638 Franciscus Junius the Younger transformed his ownDe pictura veterumintoThe Painting of the Ancients,he brought British study of the arts into the demesne of humanistic scholarship. For the first time in history an English work had attempted to deal comprehensively with the whole art of painting, to order it according to the best principles of research. Junius was superbly qualified for this task; he had every advantage. Born and educated on the continent among a race of scholars,¹ he had been bred to a profound knowledge of the classics and of painting. His friends...

    • CHAPTER TWO De arte graphica and the Search for a New Authority
      (pp. 38-65)

      CHARLES Alphonse Du Fresnoy’sDe arte graphicawas conceived under the shadow of Horace’sDe arte poetica.From Horace, Du Fresnoy took a title, a language to write in, an opening line, a number of texts and ideas, and some compositional procedures; but he took much more. What De arte poetica offered neoclassical readers was first of all its own classical authority, a confidence that precepts which had stood the test of time and of varying interpretations would remain axiomatic no matter how tastes might change.¹ WhatDe arte graphicaclaimed was a like authority with regard to painting. Du...

    • CHAPTER THREE William Oldys and the Age of Diligence
      (pp. 66-85)

      THE most significant fact about William Oldys, according to a general consensus, is that he did not write the first History of English Poetry nor the first Lives of the Poets. It is a very negative fact; one feels like apologizing for it. We do not know for certain that Oldysintendedto write that History or those Lives, and wedoknow that during most of his life he was poor, obscure, hard-working, and unencouraged.¹ Why should we wonder about his failure? or violate his decent obscurity? Why should anyone spend a moment speculating about a work that never...

    • CHAPTER FOUR James Harris, Samuel Johnson, and the Idea of True Criticism
      (pp. 86-106)

      THE life of James Harris was devoted to forms. The nephew of Shaftesbury, the friend of Fielding and Handel and Reynolds and Gibbon and George Grenville and Queen Charlotte, he represents perfectly the placid and benevolent image of that idealized eighteenth century we once thought of as the Age of Reason. A profound scholar, a dispassionate philosopher, a kind parent, a faithful and cheerful companion, Harris passed a life “exemplary and uniform.”¹ If there was a fault beneath this perfect surface, it was only the dark side of his virtue: a certain lack of heat, a certain equable dimness. Once...

  9. Part Two: The Ordering of Painting

    • CHAPTER FIVE The Uncomplicated Richardson
      (pp. 109-126)

      PAINTING was the profession of Jonathan Richardson; writing about painting was his reason for living. As his friend Pope was a man of letters, Richardson was a man of art, and he would not rest content until all men of sense worshipped art as he did. “I am never like to be of any Consequence to the World unless in the way I am in as a Painter, and one endeavouring to Raise, and Cultivate the Love of the Art by shewing its true Uses, and Beauties. This I have apply’d my self to as the great Business of my...

    • CHAPTER SIX Horace Walpole’s Anecdotes and the Sources of English History of Art
      (pp. 127-163)

      RICHARDSON had called for a historian of painting whose clear sight and distinct knowledge would provide a new unity of purpose for English art. His call was answered by a complicated and divided partnership made up of two great originals: a tireless collector named Vertue and a tireless man of letters named Walpole.

      George Vertue (1684-1756),¹ a distinguished professional engraver, an antiquary, and a close friend of Oldys,² spent his life like Oldys in heroic preparations for a major work he never began. Between 1713 and 1756 Vertue compiled thirty-nine manuscript notebooks packed minutely with bits of information intended for...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN The Art of Reynolds’ Discourses
      (pp. 164-208)

      BY the time Sir Joshua Reynolds died in 1792, most of his pictures had begun to fade; but his literary degradation had yet to come. Great writers gather all past history to themselves, and the more we perceive the greatness of William Blake, the more likely we are to perceive Reynolds’Discoursesthrough the screen of Blake’s famous marginalia. Indeed, those embattled and overscribbled pages often seem to preserve the ultimate romantic repudiation of the neoclassical world: its aesthetics, its style, its psychology, even its politics.¹ Blake himself approved this vision of a war between giants. “It is not in...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
  10. Part Three: The Ordering of Music

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Charles Avison and the Founding of English Criticism of Music
      (pp. 211-228)

      THE first English work that attempted to order the art of music for a general public announced itself modestly. It was not entitledUniversal Harmony,norTreatise of Mustek, Speculative, Practical, and Historical,norA General, Critical, and Philological History of Music,nor, certainly,Gradus ad Parnassum,nor evenThe Musicall Grammarian.¹ Charles Avison, its author, was a professional musician, and with businesslike restraint he chose to call his bookAn Essay on Musical Expression.²

      Avison did not set out to describe a universal harmony that would awe his audience into silence. He wished instead to begin a conversation about...

    • CHAPTER NINE The Science and Practice of Sir John Hawkins’ History of Music
      (pp. 229-268)

      THE rivalry between Hawkins’ and Burney’s histories of music began long before their publication, and it has not yet ended. The two works have come down to us fatally wedded by a chain of coincidence: their almost simultaneous appearance in 1776, their complementarity, the fascinating gossip that surrounds them both, their eccentric and problematical greatness.¹ Even at this distance, Hawkins and Burney can hardly be seen except in terms of each other.² The two histories that form the basis of English musicology were born in competition, and they have grown old together in competition.

      In some ways this rivalry is...

    • CHAPTER TEN Charles Burney’s History of Music and a Whole Audience
      (pp. 269-324)

      At those times when the Age of Johnson appears to the mind in the shape of a perpetual dinner party, warm and alive with bright talk and genial spirits, ringed by familiar faces which move from anecdote to anecdote as in the circle of a dance, Dr. Charles Burney is always one of the guests. Few men have ever had more of a knack for keeping good company. Wherever he went, he pleased, and he went everywhere. Reading Burney's account of his musical tours in France, Italy, Germany, and the Low Countries, one is astonished at how quickly he won...

  11. Part Four: The Ordering of Poetry

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Pope, Warburton, Spence, and the Uses of Literary History
      (pp. 327-351)

      THE men who assumed the task of “regulating and correcting the public taste” in painting and music found a willing audience in eighteenth-century England. By and large the public knew that it was ignorant about those arts, and it welcomed the expertise of Reynolds and Burney to set matters right. Thanks to their efforts, painting and music had at last become conversable. But the critics and historians of poetry faced a more delicate task, and a more complicated audience. English poetry was not a matter of indifference to the English public; its historian was appointed the defender of national pride,...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE The Compromises of Thomas Warton and The History of English Poetry
      (pp. 352-404)

      EVERYONE agrees that Thomas Warton’sHistory of English Poetryis a monument; but few readers have ever agreed what it is a monument of.The Historychanges to suit its changing audience. Thus fifty years ago, when Edmund Gosse delivered the Warton Lecture on English Poetry to the British Academy, he knew Thomas Warton to have been a man much like himself, a rebel against the orthodox older generation. “To have been the first to perceive the inadequacy and the falsity of a law which excluded all imagination, all enthusiasm, and all mystery, is to demand respectful attention from the...

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN The Lives of the Poets
      (pp. 405-462)

      WHEREVER the study of the ordering of the arts in eighteenthcentury England may begin, in the end it leads to Samuel Johnson. It was Johnson who adapted the lessons of Renaissance criticism to present use, Johnson who dedicated Reynolds’Discoursesand Burney’sHistory,Johnson who taught the public to trust its common sense about the arts, Johnson who stood for the force of reason against which Walpole and the Wartons wove their spells. Without himself being interested in painting or music, Johnson qualified the minds of many critics to think justly;¹ and of poetry he was master. Sooner or later...

  12. Epilogue
    (pp. 463-472)

    CANONS, of course, are made to be broken, and no art is ever ordered for long. Even as the critic sets his hand to the last note of his composition, painting, music, and poetry are changing around him. No writer as sensible as Reynolds, Burney, or Johnson, living amid the revolutions of the late eighteenth century, could believe that he had spoken the last word about works of art. “Surely to think differently at different times of poetical merit may be easily allowed. . . . Who is there that has not found reason for changing his mind about questions...

  13. Bibliographical Sketch
    (pp. 473-488)

    THIS sketch is intended to provide basic bibliographical information for readers who would like to pursue some of the questions raised by this book. As an introductory guide, it aims to be synoptic, selective, and short. It may also serve to reveal some of my biases and trains of thought, and to record some of my debts.

    I have not attempted here to survey individual authors; the notes to each chapter in the text review the appropriate scholarship. Nor have I tried to be definitive or complete. Fuller lists of eighteenth-century works on the arts may be found in J....

  14. Index
    (pp. 489-503)