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yet he always found when he did a thing of that sort, that when he gave in his bill, though he' had charged perhaps not more than half the money for it, that he could have earned in the same time at his ordinary work, they always seemed to think the price too high; which made him exceedingly averse to engage in any thing of that sort.
Yet notwithstanding these considerations, the impulse of genius got so much the better of prudential considerations, that he executed, during the course of his life, perhaps ten or a dozen of heads, any one of which would have been aufficient to insure him immortal fame among judges of excellence in this department. Among these were heads of Thomson the author of the Seasons, Mary queen of Scots, Oliver Cromwell, Julius Cæsar, a young Hercules, and Mr Hamilton of Bangour, a gentleman of Scotland, well known there, on account of some beautiful poe-> tical effusions. Of these only two were copies from the antique; and they were executed in the finest stile of these celebrated entaglio's. The young Hercules, in particular, which, if I mistake not, belongs to the earl of Findlater, pofsefsed that unaffected plain simplicity, and natural concurrence in the same exprefsion of youthful innocence through all the features, conjoined with strength and dignity, which is, perhaps, the most difficult of all exprefsions to be hit off by the faithful imitator of nature. Like as a player finds it much lefs difficult to imitate any extravagant violence of character, than to represent with truth and perspicuity, the elegant ease of the gentleman; so the painter can much more easily de
lineate the most violent contortions of countenance, than that placid serenity, to exprefs which requires a nice discrimination of such infinitely small degrees of variation in certain lineaments, as totally elude the observation of men, on whose mind nature has not impressed, with an irresistible hand, that infinitely nice perceptive faculty, which constitutes the efsence of genius in the fine arts.
Berry possessed this faculty in such a high degree, as to prove even a bar to his attaining that supereminent excellence in this department, which nature had evidently qualified him for. Even in his best performances, be, himself, thought he perceived defects, which no one else remarked; and which the circumstances above alluded to, prevented him from correcting. While others admired with unbounded applause, he looked upon his own performances with a kind of vexation, at finding the execution not to have attained the high perfection he conceived to be attainable. And not being able to afford the time to perfect himself in that nice department of his art, this made him extremely averse to attempt it.
Yet in spite of this aversion, the few pieces above named, and some others, were extorted from him by degrees, and they came gradually to be known; and wherever they were known, they were admired, as superior to every thing produced in modern times, unless it was by Piccler alon e at Rome; who in the same line, but with much greater practice in it, had justly attained a high degree of celebrity. Between the excellence of these two artists, connoifseurs dif
fered in opinion; some being inclined to give the palm to Berry, while others preferred Piccler. The works of these two artists were well known to each other; and each declared, with that manly kind of ingenuousnefs, which superior genius alone can confer on the human mind, that the other was greatly his superior. Berry admired the works of Piccler with the most unqualified approbation; and the writer of this article, thinks he never gave such high satisfaction, by a small mark of atten tion, as he gave to Mr Berry, by giving him an impression of the head of the present pope Braschi, done by Piccler, which he had got from Mr Byres, the gentleman whose animated vindication of the Scotch, makes such a conspicuous figure in Moore's travels in Italy.
Mr Berry possessed not merely the art of imitating busts, or figures set before him, in which he could observe and copy the prominence, or the deprefsion of the parts; but he possessed a faculty which presupposes a much nicer discrimination, viz. that of being able to execute a figure in relievo, with perfect justnefs in all its parts, which was copied from a drawing or painting upon a flat surface. This was fairly put to the test in the head he executed of Hamilton of Bangour. That gentleman had been dead some years, when his relations wished to have a head of him executed by Berry. Mr Berry had never himself seen Mr Hamilton, and there remained no picture of Kim but an imperfect fketch, which was by no means a striking likeness. This was put into the hands of Mr Berry, to serve
as a model for him to work upon, by a person who had known Mr Hamilton very well, and who pointed out the defects of the painting in the best way that words can be made to correct things of this nature; and from this picture, with the ideas that Mr Berry had imbibed from the corrections, he made a head,' whic every one who knew Mr Hamilton, allowed to be one of the most perfect likenesses that could be wifhed for. In this, as in all his works, there was a correctness in the outline, and a truth and delicacy in the expression of the features, highly emulous of the best antiques; which were indeed the models on which he formed his taste.
Besides the heads above named, he also executed some full length figures, both of men and other aanimals, in a stile of superior elegance. But that attention to the interests of a numerous family, which a man of sound principles, as Mr Berry was, could never allow him to lose sight of, made him forego these amusing exertions, for the more lucrative, though lefs pleasing employment, of cutting heraldic seals, which may be said to have been his constant employment from morning to night, for forty years together, with an afsiduity that has few examples in modern times. In this department he was without dispute the first artist of his time; but even here, that modesty, which was so peculiarly his own, and that invariable desire to give full perfection to ever thing he put out of his hands, prevented him from drawing such emolument from his labours as he might, and ought to have done. Of this the following anecdote, which consists with the perfect
knowledge of the writer, will serve as an example and illustration.
The duke of Bh, when he succeeded to his estate, was desirous of having a seal cut with his arms, &c. properly blazoned upon it. But as there were no lefs than thirty-two compartments in the shield, which was of necefsity confined to a very small space, so as to leave room for the. supporters, and other ornaments, within the compafs of a seal of an ordinary size, he found it a matter of great difficulty to get it executed. Though a nåtive of Scotland himself, the duke never expected to find a man of the first rate eminence in Edinburgh; but applied to the most eminent seal engravers in London and in Paris, all of whom declined to do it, as a thing that exceeded their power to execute. At this his grace was highly disappointed; and having exprefsed to a gentleman, who was on a visit to him, the vexation he felt on this occasion, the gentleman, who knew Mr Berry, afked if he had applied to Mr Berry. "No, (said the duke;) I did not think of finding any one in Edinburgh, who could execute a task that exceeded the powers of the first artists in London and Paris." The gentleman said he was in a mistake; and that he would undertake that Berry could execute it. The duke, impatient to try, went to Edinburgh with the gentleman next morning, who called upon Mr Berry, whom he found, as usual, sitting at his wheel. Without introducing the duke, or saying any thing particular to Mr Berry, he just fhowed him an imprefsion of a seal that the duchefs dowager had got cut a good