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so celebrated as herself; these three “virtuous gentlewoman," as Vasari calls them, lived together in the most delightful sisterly union. One of Sofonisba's most beautiful pictures represents her two sisters playing at chess, attended by the old duenna, who accompanied them every where. When Sofonisba was invited to the court of Spain, in 1560, she took her sisters with her-in short, they were inseparable. They were all accomplished wo

“We hear,” said the pope, in a complimentary letter to Sofonisba, on one of her pictures, "that this your great talent is among the least you possess:" which letter is said by Vasari to be a sufficient proof of the genius of Sofonisba—as if the holy Father's infallibility extended to painting! Luckily we have proofs more undeniable in her own most lovely works-glowing with life like those of Titian; and in the testimony of Vandyke, who said of her in her later years, that "he had learned more from one old blind woman in Italy than from all the masters of his art."

It is worth remarking, that almost all the women who have attained celebrity in painting, have excelled in portraiture. The characteristic of Rosalba is an exceeding elegance; of Angelica Kauffman exceeding grace; but she wants nerve.

Lavinia Fontana threw a look of sensibility into her most masculine heads—she died broken-hearted for the loss of an only son, whose portrait is her master-piece.* The Sofonisba had most dignity, and in her own portraitt a certain dignified simplicity in the air and attitude strikes us immediately. Gentileschi has most power: she was a gifted, but a profligate

All those whom I have mentioned were women of undoubted genius; for they have each a style apart, peculiar, and tinted by their individual character: but all, except Gentileschi, were feminine painters. They succeeded best in feminine portraits, and when they painted history they were only admirable in that class of subjects which came within the province of their sex; beyond that boundary they became fade, insipid, or exaggerated: thus Elizabeth

woman.

* Lanzi says, that many of the works of Lavinia Fontana might easily pass for those of Guido;-her best works are at Bologna. She died in 1614.

† At Althorpe.

Sirani's Annunciation is exquisite, and her Crucifixion feeble; Angelica Kauffman's Nymphs and Madonnas are lovely; but her picture of the warrior Herman, returning home after the defeat of the Roman legions, is cold and ineffective. The result of these reflections is, that there is a walk of art in which women may attain perfection, and excel the other sex; as there is another department from which they are excluded. You must change the physical organization of the race of women before we produce a Rubens or a Michael Angelo. Then, on the other hand, I fancy, no man could paint like Louisa Sharpe,* any more than write like Mrs. Hemans. Louisa Sharpe, and her sister, are, in painting, just what Mrs. Hemans is in poetry; we see in their works the same characteristics--no feebleness, no littleness of design or manner, nothing vapid, trivial, or affected,---and nothing masculine; all is supereminently, essentially feminine, in subject, style, and sentiment. I wish to combat in every way that oft-repeated, but most false compliment unthinkingly paid to women, that genius is of no sex; there may be equality of power, but in its quality and application there will and must be difference and distinction. If men would but remember this truth, they would cease to treat with ridicule and jealousy the attainments and aspirations of women, knowing that there never could be real competition or rivalry. If women would admit this truth, they would not presume out of their sphere:—but then we come to the necessity for some key to the knowledge of ourselves and others—some scale for the just estimation of our own qualities and powers, compared with those of others—the great secret of self-regulation and happiness -the beginning, middle, and end of all education.

* Now Madame Seyffarth.

But to return from this tirade. I wish my - vagrant pen were less discursive.

In the works of art, the presence of a power, felt rather than perceived, and kept subordinate to the sentiment of grace, should mark the female mind and hand. This is what I love in Rosalba, in our own Mrs. Carpenter, in Madame de Freyberg, and in Eliza and Louisa Sharpe: in the latter there is a high tone of moral as well as poetical feeling. Thus her picture of the young girl coming out of church after disturbing the equanimity of a whole congregation by her fine lady airs and her silk attire, is a charming and most graceful satire on the foibles of her sex.

The idea, however, is taken from the Spectator. But Louisa Sharpe can also create. Of another lovely picture,—that of the young, forsaken, disconsolate, repentant mother, who sits drooping over her child,“ with looks bowed down in

penetrative shame," while one or two of the rigidlyrighteous of her own sex turn from her with a scornful and upbraiding air-I believe the subject is original; but it is obviously one which never could have occurred, except to the most consciously pure as well as the gentlest and kindest heart in the world. Never was a more beautiful and Christian lesson conveyed by woman to woman: at once a warning to our weakness, and a rebuke to our pride.*

* The Miss Sharpes were at Dresden while I was there, and their names and some of their works were fresh in my mind and eye when I wrote the above; but I think it fair to add, that I had not

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