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Titian, and sometimes of Giorgione, with distinguished, and often unrivalled success. Such is the surprising beauty of some heads painted by him in one of the chapels of the Incoronata at Lodi, that a tradition prevailed of their having been painted by Titian himself, on his passage through that place. His picture of the Madonna with some saints, at S. Francesco in Brescia, reminds us of Giorgione. To the memory of this great man, Ridolfi has done little justice, by praising him only for his colour in fresco and distemper, without noticing the grandeur of his design, and the elegance of his forms. He likewise mistakes the name of his native place for his surname, and calls him a Brescian, in defiance of the inscriptions at the Incoronata, and elsewhere, of Callixtus de Platea, and Callixtus Laudensis.
PIAZZETTA (JOHN BAPTIST), a modern artist, was born at Venice in 1633. He was the son of a statuary in wood, who probably gave him what foundations he had in design. He exchanged the gay and open manner in which he painted at first, for the dark and murky one that ever after characterised his works, from the contemplation of Spagnoletto's and Guercino's styles. He attempted to surprise by cutting contrasts of light and shade, and succeeded; such decision of chiaroscuro gave value to his drawings, and was eagerly imitated in prints; but his method of colouring destroyed its effect in a great measure on the canvas; increased and altered shades, faded lights, dingy yellows, produced dissonance and spots. When this is not the case, and in better-preserved pictures, the effect is novel, and strikes at first sight, especially in subjeets that border on horror, such as the decollation of St. John in a dark prison, at Padua; a work painted in competition with the best painters of the state, and preferred. Piazzetta had no great vigour of mind for copious composition ; he consumed several years in finishing a Rape of the Sabines, for a Venetian nobleman; and in the expressions of his altar-pieces he had certainly more devotion than dignity. His chief strength lay in busts and heads for cabinets. In caricatures he was perhaps unparalleled. He died in 1754, aged seventy-one.
PIBRAC. See FAUR.
PICARD (John), an able mathematician of France, and one of the most learned astronomers of the seventeenth century, was born at Fleche, and became priest and prior of Rillie in Anjou. Coming afterwards to Paris, his superior talents for mathematics and astronomy soon made him known and respected. In 1666 he was appointed astronomer in the Academy of Sciences. And five years after, he was sent, by order of the king, to the castle of Uraniburgh, built by Tycho Brahe in Denmark, to make astronomical observations there; and from thence he brought the original manuscripts written by Tycho Brahe; which are the more valuable, as they differ in many places from the printed copies, and contain a book more than has yet appeared. These discoveries were followed by many others, particularly in astronomy: he was one of the first who applied the telescope to astronomical quadrants : he first executed the work called '“ La Connoissance des Temps,” which he caculated from 1679 to 1683 inclusively : he first observed the light in the vacuum of the barometer, or the mercurial phosphorus : he also first of any went through several parts of France, to measure the degrees of the French meridian, and first gave a chart of the country, which the Cassini's, afterwards carried to a great degree of perfection. He died in 1682 or 1683, leaving a name dear to his friends, and respectable to his contemporaries and to posterity. His works are: 1. “ A treatise on Levelling." 2. “Practical Dialling by calculation." 3. “ Fragments of Dioptrics.” 4. “ Experiments on Running Water.” 5. “ Of Measurements.” 6. " Mensuration of Fluids and Solids." 7. “ Abridgment of the Measure of the Earth.” 8. “ Journey to Uraniburgh, or Astronomical Observations made in Denmark." Astronomical Observations made in divers parts of France.” 10. “ La Connoissance des Temps," from 1679 to 1683.
Pilkington, by Fuseli,
All these, and some other of his works, which are much esteemed, are given in the sixth and seventh volumes of the Memoirs of the Academy of Sciences.'
PICART (BERNARD), a famous engraver, was son of Stephen Picart, a good engraver also, and born at Paris in 1673. He learned the principles of design, and the elements of his art, from his father, and studied architecture and perspective under Sebastian le Clerc. His unconmon talents in this way soon began to shew themselves; and, at ten years of age, he engraved the hermaphrodite of
Poussin, which was soon followed by two pieces of cardinal de Richelieu's tomb. These works laid the foundation of that great reputation which this celebrated artist afterwards acquired. . When he was grown up, he went into Holland, where his parents had settled themselves; and, after two years' stay, returned to Paris, and married a lady who died soon after. Having embraced the reformed religion, he returned to Holland in 1710, for the sake of that freedom in the exercise of it, which he could not have at Paris; but connoisseurs are of opinion, that in attempting to please the taste of the Dutch, he lost much of the spirited manner in which he executed his works wbile in France, and on which they tell us his reputation was more firmly founded. Others inform us, that he was not so fond of engraving as of drawing, that he took up the graver with reluctance, and consequently many of his prints are better drawn than engraved. The greater part of his life was certainly spent in making compositions and drawings, which are said to have been very highly finished; and they are sufficient testimonies of the fertility of his genius, and the excellency of his judgment. He understood the human figure extremely well, and drew it with a tolerable degree of correctness, especially in small subjects. He worked much for the booksellers, and book-plates are by far the best part of his works. The multitude of these which he engraved, chiefly from his own compositions, is astonishing. One estimate makes them amount to 1300 pieces. The most capital of his separate plates is the “ Massacre of the Innocents,” a small plate lengthways. After his death, which happened April 27, 1733, bis friends published a small folio volume, called the “Innocent Impostures ;" a set of prints from the designs of the great masters, in which he has attempted to imitate the styles of the old engravers. Strutt, who has, with apparent justice, censured this production, in the essay prefixed to his second volume, laments that Picart's friends should have been so injudicious as to publish what must diminish our respect for this artist."
PICCINI (NICHOLAS), an eminent inusician, born in 1728, at Bari, in the kingdom of Naples, may be ranked among the most fertile, spirited, and original composers that the Neapolitan school has produced. His father designed him for the church, and made him study for that intent; but, for fear of his neglecting serious business for amusement, he would not let him learn music. The young man, however, having an invincible passion for that art, never saw an instrument, especially a harpsichord, without emotion, and practised in secret the opera airs which he had heard, and which he retained with surprising accuracy. His father having carried him, one day, to the bishop of Bari, be amused himself in the room, where he was left alone, with a harpsichord which he found there, thinking he could be heard by no one; but the prelate, in the next apartment, having heard him, condescended to go to the harpsichord, and obliged him to repeat many of the airs wbich he had been playing; and was so pleased with his performance, that he persuaded his father to send him to the conservatorio of St. Onofrio, at Naples, of which the celebrated Leo was then the principal master.
| Dict. Hist.-Strutt's Dictionary. There is a life and list of his works prefixed to the " Innocent Impostures."
The young Piccini was admitted in that seminary in 1742, and was placed at first under the tuition of a subaltern master, whose lessons, given in a dry and contracted manner, soon disgusted him; and, in a few months, his discontent at such unprofitable instructions drew on him the resentment of his tutor, expressed in no very gentle way. Shocked with this treatment, he resolved to study by himself, and began composing without rules, or any other guides than his own genius and fancy, psalms, oratorios, and opera airs; which soon excited the envy or admiration of all his fellow-students. He even had the courage to compose an entire mass. One of the masters who had seen it, and even permitted him to have it rehearsed, thought it right to mention it to Leo; who, a few days after, sent for Piccini, who, frightened at this message, obeyed the order with fear and trembling. “ You have composed a mass," said Leo, with a cold and almost severe counte
6 Yes, sir." " Shew me your score." " Sir, sir,"
"Shew it me, I say.” Piccini thought himself ruined, but he must obey. He fetched his score; at which Leo looked, turned over the leaves, examined each movement, smiled, rung the bell, as the signal for a rehearsal. The young composer, more dead than alive, begged in vain to be spared what he thought such an affront. The singers and instrumental performers obeyed the summons : the parts were distributed, and the performers waited only
for Leo to beat the time. When, turning gravely to Piccini, he presented him the baton, which was then used every where, in the performance of full pieces. Piccini, put to new coufusion, wished he had never dared to meddle with composition ; but at length mustered his courage, and marked with a trembling hand the first bars. Soon, however, apimated and inflamed by the harmony, he neither saw Leo nor the standers by, who were numerous : he was absorbed in his music, and directed its performance with á fire, energy, and accuracy, which astonished the whole audience, and acquired him great applause. Leo kept à profound silence during the performance. When it was over —“I forgive you, for once,” said he; " but if you are again guilty of such presumption, you shall be punished in such a manner as you will remember as long as you live. What! you have received from nature so estimable a disposition for study, and you lose all the advantages of so precious a gift! Instead of studying the principles of the art, you give way to all the wild vagaries of your imagination, and fancy you have produced a master-piece." The boy, piqued by these reproaches, related whắt had passed between him and the assistant-master under whom he was placed. Leo became calm, and even embraced and caressed him ; ordering him to come to his apartments every morning, to receive instructions from himself.
This truly great master died suddenly some months after.. Happily for his promising pupil, his successor was the celebrated Durante, one of the most learned composers Italy ever produced. He soon distinguished Piccini from the rest of his class ; conceived a particular affection for him ; and had pleasure in communicating to him all the secrets of his art. “Others are my pupils," he sometimes used to say,
“ but this is my son.". At length, after twelve years' study, Piccini, in 1754, quitted the Conservatorio, knowing all that is permitted to an individual to know in prac, tical music, and possessed of such a créative and ardent imagination, as perhaps, till then, was unexampled
He began his career at the Florentine theatre in Naples, which is that of San Carlo, what Foote's theatre used to be compared with Drury-lane or the Opera House. His first production there was “Le Donne Dispettose;" and the next year, “Le Gelosie," and "Il Curioso del suo Proprio Danno," of all which the success increased in á duplicate ratio. At length, in 1756, he set the serious VOL. XXIV.