[John Wolcot, Peter Pindar; satirist] Two Letters [File copies?], Unsigned, from Wolcot to Henry Colburn, publisher [both docketed Sir Joshua Reynolds | sent to Colborn [sic] Bookseller

John Wolcot, Peter Pindar (baptised 9 May 1738 – 14 January 1819), Satirist.
Publication details: 
No place or date [trimmed]. Watermark Letter One 1809.
SKU: 23717

Total five pages, 8vo, trimmed (perhaps removing a place and date), closed tear on one fold, mainly good condition. This form of the letters (file copies?) was obviously in John Rope Rogers' mind in his Biographical Sketch, introducing Opie and His Works Being a Catalogue of 760 Pictures by John Opie [...] [1878]: The following letter of Dr. Wolcot's, indorsed,On Sir Joshua Reynolds; sent to Colborn, Book-seller was found in a collection of published and unpublished remains of Dr. Wolcot, which was sold at Puttick and Simpson's, May 17th, 1877. The letter is undated, as Wolcot's usually were, and is apparently a school-boy's copy, corrected by Wolcot himself. The pictures mentioned are two of those which Opie afterwards took to the King, and were probably kept by Wolcot as specimens. This would fix the date of the letter as in the spring of 1782. The Jew is now at Enys, and the Beggar was probably that exhibited at the Royal Academy, with four others in that year. I have again called on Reynolds with a pair of John Opies pictures, the portrait of a Jew and Cornish beggary on which he expressed surprize at performances by a boy in a country village containing excellencies that would not disgrace the pencil of Caravaggio. Opie's knowledge of chiaroscuro without having ever seen a picture of the dark masters, drew from his eye a sort of wonder. It strikes me that Reynolds expects Opie to be as perfect in the delineation of the graces as in the heads of vulgar nature, and in consequence become a formidable rival. But here I am sorry to say he will be fortunately mistaken; Opie, I fear, is too fond of imitating coarse expression . . . To him at present elegance appears affectation, and the forms of Raphael unnatural. He too much resembles a country farmer, who never having tasted anything beyond rough cyder, cannot feel the flavour of burgundy or champagne. That they were found in published and unpublished papers of John Wolcot strongly suggests they were Wolcot's file copies. Not in his hand, unless Rogers is correct in ascribing corrections of the Schoolboy hand to him. His suggestion that the letters were written in 1782 must be incorrect since Colburn, the recipient, would have been a mere two years old. And the watermark date of Letter One is 1809, early days for Colburn but possible. Rogers gives a decent amount of information above about Letter Two. In Letter One, Wolcot focusses on Joshua Reynolds, commencing: An enthusiastic lover of painting you have in several of your letters expressed a desire of knowing some thing relative to the person an powers of Reynolds - Fortunate in having gained a little access to this extraordinary man perhaps I may not be totally disqualified for offering and [sic, for 'an'] impartial delination [sic] - I am proud to say that not only vidi Virgilium [underlined], but audivi [undeciphered word] rather in form nature has kindly overballanced [sic] this deficiency by making him a Hercules in intellect. His features are plain but replete with expression; Tho' utterence [sic] ungraceful and inharmonious but highly compensated by the force and truth of his observation he converses with perfect freedom and communicates instruction without the faintest tincture of egotism - His room is filled with the works of the first masters Rubens, Corregio, [undeciphered], Claude, Georgione [Giorgione] &c- He did me the favour of entering into the merits and defects of two or three performances [...] See Image for rest of letter.