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Hereditary Genius
painters, as among musicians, I think no one doubts that
artistic talent is, in some degree, hereditary. The question is rather,
whether its distribution in families, together with the adjuncts
necessary to form an eminent painter, follows much the same law as
that which obtains in respect to other kinds of ability. It would be
easy to collect a large number of modern names to show how
frequently artistic eminence is shared by kinsmen. Thus, the present
generation of the Landseers consists of two Academicians and one
Associate of the Royal Academy, who were all of them the sons of
an associate. The Bonheur family consists of four painters, Rosa,
Juliette, Jules, and Auguste, and they are the children of an artist of
some merit. Very many more instances could easily be quoted. But I
wish to adduce evidence of the interrelationship of artists of a yet
higher order of merit, and I therefore limit my inquiry to the illustrious
ancient painters, especially of Italy and the Low Countries. These are
not numerous—only, as well as I can make out, about forty-two,
whose natural gifts are unquestionably more than “eminent;” and the
fact of about half of them possessing eminent relations, and of some
of them, as the Caracci and the Van Eycks, being actually kinsmen, is
more important to my argument than pages filled with Previous page Top Next page