« ZurückWeiter »
you are too poor, and have too many enemies to think of remaining here." Soon after this conversation the legation of Munich becom ing vacant, the Abbé della Genga was nominated to it; and the first intimation he had of the circumstance was the biglietto (official notice) of his appointment. It is said the Pope was most deeply affected on taking leave of him. The sacrifice was not a slight one on the part of Monsignore della Genga; for, since his high favour, he had become a man of the world; and from his fine person, amiable manners, and cultivated mind, was a general favourite, except with those whose ambition he crossed, amongst the higher classes in Rome. His parting from Madame Pfiffer was the cruelest blow of all. However its effects seemed to have been more permanent on the lady (whose grief formed the tittle-tattle of Rome for some time) than on the lover; for in a few months the intelligence was received from Munich, that the amiable legate was a distinguished favourite of the Electress. His time while at Munich was divided between the pleasures of the chase, gallantry, and ecclesiastical affairs. If public rumour is to be believed, he left behind him in that city three children, who are still alive. However this may be, there is one thing certain, that the King of Bavaria, being at table when the intelligence reached him of Cardinal della Genga having been elevated to the papal throne as Leo XII. could not, from certain recollections flashing across his mind, refrain from making merry with his courtiers on the occasion. As the election of Pius VII. at Venice, in 1800, brought Cardinal Gonzalvi, as his secretary of state, into full power, Monsignore della Genga judged, and judged rightly, that his occupation as legate was gone; for shortly after he was recalled to Rome, where he found himself without consideration or employment. It was then that his passion for the chase knew no limits; and he became the intimate friend of all the most famous sportsmen in Rome and the neighbourhood. However, as he was still not without pretensions, and as many persons vaunted his skill in diplomatic affairs, Cardinal Gonzalvi resolved to give a death-blow to his reputation in that way, by charging him with a mission, success in which should be impossible. The occasion, as he thought, presented itself on the return, in 1814, of the Bourbons to France. Monsignore della Genga was sent to congratulate the King of France, and to endeavour to get him to renounce, in favour of the Court of Rome, certain advantages which the Gallican church had laid claim to since the time of Louis XIV., and the confirmation of which the Emperor had obtained by his famous concordat. Monsignore della Genga, thus charged with a supposed impossible mission, arrived in Paris in 1814, and was not a little astonished to find that the French Government was far from being averse to granting his demand. He immediately despatched a courier to Rome, acquainting Cardinal Gonzalvi with his hopes. This error was regarded here as one of the greatest he could have been guilty of, and completely destroyed his reputation with the long heads of this country. From that moment Monsignore della Genga was set down as an étourdi, altogether incapable of making his way as a diplomatist. In this court a fault of that kind is never pardoned, excused, or forgotten. He should have written vaguely, and talked of the difficulties that obstructed him, and not have despatched a courier, but with the arrangement formally signed. Such an unhopedfor termination of so difficult an affair must have forced his enemy to bestow upon him the first vacant cardinal's hat. The moment Cardinal
Gonzalvi received the despatch of the inconsiderate legate, he hastened to the Pope, and told him that he was under the necessity of immediately setting out for Paris, as without his presence the affairs of the church were in jeopardy. At Rome France stands highest in estimation, from the consideration which her adherence reflects upon the Holy See in Europe; Spain is chiefly valued on account of the money she pours into the papal coffers, and Catholic Germany is looked upon as a kind of rebellious state, which plays the same part as the Republic of Venice did formerly. Four hours after the receipt of the imprudent despatch of Monsignore della Genga, Cardinal Gonzalvi was whirling along the road to Paris. In the mean time the affairs of the church had gone on so prosperously in the capital of France, that twelve or fourteen days after the departure of the fatal despatch, Monsignore della Genga was on the point of having the arrangement signed, when one morning, as he was preparing to go to the minister's, his carriage waiting for him at the door, he was surprised by the entrance of Cardinal Gonzalvi, who embraced him and said," I have come here, the affair being so important, to put the finishing hand to the concordat of the Emperor." In less than a quarter of an hour, the Cardinal having received all the necessary do cuments from the thunderstruck legate, got into his carriage and drove to the Tuileries. A few minutes after his departure, the unfortunate legate fell bathed in his blood, a hemorrhoidal hemorrhage having declared itself, which reduced him to the point of death, and from which he had little desire to escape. The physicians had him removed to Montrouge, where he recovered the immediate effects of the accident, but this malady has never since ceased to afflict him, reducing him once a year at least to the last extremity. It was an attack of this kind that had nearly deprived us of his Holiness on the 24th of last December: upon which occasion Cardinal Galeffi administered to his Holiness the viaticum, a ceremony which Leo XII. has undergone no less than eighteen times since the fatal revolution in his system in 1814.
A SUMMER MORNING.
THE May is on the hedges white as snow,
And flowers by thousands 'neath their shadows grow,
The damsel trips along the patchy lane,
Crossing with ease the lessen'd brook alone,
With watering-pan to sprinkle when it needs
BRITISH GALLERIES OF ART. NO. XIII.
THE sentiment excited by Sculpture is altogether different from that excited by any other of the productions of imitative art; and none who are capable of receiving the strongest impressions which the highest efforts of sculpture are capable of producing, doubt that those impressions are superior, both in kind and degree, to those resulting from any other inanimate objects whatever. Next to the divinity which looks out from the actual face and form of living and breathing man and woman, that which emanates from those of the Apollo Belvedere, the Venus Victrix, the Venus de' Medici, the Antinous, &c.—is the most ennobling, the most purifying, and the most permanent. In a picture, the finer the form is, the more it becomes akin to deception. It is nothing but a coloured canvass, and you know it to be nothing else; and yet you may look upon it till you fancy that it has life and motion -that it is a real thing. You view it as something different from what it is; and the more it resembles what you know it is not, the more it affects you. You say, it looks as if it would speak-as if it would start from the canvass. You exclaim, how perfectly natural it is !— But nothing of all this happens in regard to Sculpture. In a marble statue there is no deceit. It is hard, cold, and lifeless; and it looks to be no other. And yet, the more you endeavour to impress upon yourself that it is a dead image of stone, the more it affects you as a thing of life. But you never fancy that it is a thing of life-that it will step from its pedestal, or turn its blank eyes to look upon you. In a word-(a word, however, which perhaps increases the mystery instead of explaining it)—it is to its absence of deception, arising from its absence of colour, that Sculpture owes its chief power of affecting us. By means of that negative quality, its other positive qualities are enabled to appeal to the imagination, without communing too intimately with the mere senses by the way; and their effect therefore becomes more purely intellectual, and consequently more permanent and complete.
But a truce to philosophy, in the presence of that which sets it at defiance. Our British Galleries of Art have hitherto been almost exclusively confined to painting--more, however, by accident than design. We now propose to examine one which consists of Sculpture alone : for in making the British Museum a subject of these notices, it is intended to treat of those objects alone which are contained in its Gallery of Antique Sculpture.
Undoubtedly the marbles from the Parthenon are so absolutely unique in their general character, that they place this our national Museum of Sculpture above any other now existing, as a school of study. But even with these splendid works, I fear it must be admitted that, as a 'general collection, adapted to the views of the connoisseur and lover of fine art, the British Museum is inferior to some others possessed by Continental states; and that, with the Louvre collection in particular, even in its present condition, it can bear no comparison whatever. Of course I exclude, in this comparative estimate, the Egyptian antiquities contained in the British Museum. Those are greatly superior, both in rarity, and in real interest, to any other similar collection.
We shall begin our detailed examination of this Gallery, where the Gallery itself begins,-premising that the great extent of the collection precludes a notice of any but the most striking and valuable objects; and that our chief criterion of value is beauty of design, and perfection of execution, not mere rarity and curiosity. The FIRST ROOM, which is a small ante-room numbered 1, contains a very choice and pleasing collection of ancient Terra-cotas. These may not attract the mere popular observer; but they will, on examination, be found highly interesting and curious even to him, as affording the most unequivocal evidence that in this art, as in all others of a similar kind without exception, the ancients have placed any hope of a rivalry with them out of the question. The two terminal heads of the Bearded Bacchus, which occupy two opposite corners of this room (Nos. 3 and 75)-though probably intended for the commonest purposes to which objects of this nature were ever applied, are in fact beautiful works of art. There is also a majestic severity of expression about them, which is but little consistent with ordinary notions of the god whom they represent. Nos. 45 and 46-which are small bas-reliefs-also exhibit the power and spirit of expression which may be given to objects of this class. They each represent a head of the wood-god, Pan, with the head of a Satyr on either side. The four small statues, which are placed at the four corners of this room, are well worth attention, for the air of purity and grandeur which pervades them.
The SECOND ROOM is a circular domed vestibule, which forms the first portion of the main Gallery-all the rest (with the exception of the Elgin Gallery) consisting of a suite of rooms in a line with this. In this room we meet with some of the true gems of the collection. But for the sake of order, we will examine them according to their numerical arrangement. The first work in this room claiming particular notice is a small cylindrical vase, with a cover, surrounded with numerous figures in high relief (No. 2). I do not point this out on account of the beauty of its workmanship-for it is comparatively rude and coarse; but on account of the infinite spirit which is struck out from many parts of it-almost unconsciously, as it should seem, on the part of the artist. He was evidently either some mere Tyro; or the price he was to receive would only permit him to bestow a few hasty hours on the work. And yet it seems as if he could not help filling it with spirit and expression, whether he tried or not.-No. 4 is a statue of Cupid cutting his bow. This work is by no means in the first class of ancient art; but it is highly interesting nevertheless, on several accounts. In the first place, the subject seems to have been a favourite one with the ancient artists. There is a smaller statue in this collection, which is nearly a repetition of the one before us; there is at least one other at the Louvre, if I mistake not; and it occurs in antique gems. But to us moderns it is perhaps still more interesting, on account of its having served as a hint at least, if not a model, for one of the most charming pictures in the world-the Cupid of Parmegiano, now in the gallery of the Marquis of Stafford, at Cleveland-house, and which is said to have been painted expressly for Bayard, "le Chevalier sans peur et sans reproche." I repeat, this statue is not in the first-rate manner of the Greek sculptors; but it is full of truth and nature, nevertheless.-No. 8 is a whole-length draped statue of a female, which has served as a
Caryatide to support the pediment of a small temple. This is executed in a charmingly simple and pure style, and has the rare merit of being almost entirely perfect as to preservation. The spectator may regard it as nearly in the state in which it came from the sculptor's hands: which is the case with very few antique statues; and without which it is impossible to look upon a work of this nature with full satisfaction, however skilfully the restoration may be effected.-No. 11 may be pointed out rather because it is the best specimen of ancient marble vases in this collection, than because it is positively first-rate. The figures in low relief which encircle it are full of grace; but it is altogether very inferior to many which exist elsewhere. We now arrive at what may perhaps be considered as one of the three very finest and most valuable objects in this collection. I allude to the Venus, or Nymph--a wholelength figure the size of life-which faces the spectator as he enters this room. The whole lower part of the figure is concealed by a drapery, which seems to have just been detached from the upper part, leaving the whole of that, above the waist, exposed. If the exposed part of this figure, including the head, is not in every respect equal to any other similar statue which has descended to us from antiquity, it is certainly very little inferior. In severe beauty of expression, and rich purity of style, it may vie with almost any thing in existence; and the execution of the flesh is truly, admirable; it comes nearer to that of Titian's pictures than any thing else; or, at all events, it reminds one of Titian's pictures-which nothing else does. The drapery of this charming work is also peculiarly worthy of notice and admiration. The upper part of it, in particular, is twisted and involved in the most complicated manner that it can be, consistently with the supposition that it has taken its present arrangement accidentally in falling; and yet every part of it is so perfectly natural and correct with reference to all the other parts, that the eye can untwist it. It must be understood that all which has now been said of this delightful specimen of ancient art, supposes the absence of the left-arm of the figure. That is a restoration (so called); but in my mind, if not a disfigurement, assuredly not a portion that the ancient artist could possibly mistake for his work if he could look upon it now. The chief beauty of all the first-rate sculpture of the first ages of Greece is that perfect naturalness which is absolutely incompatible with any thing like a studied grace of action and deportment. And this perfectly unaffected air of nature is peculiarly the characteristic of the work before us, with the sole exception of this restored left-arm-which is curved, at once fantastically and unmeaningly, into the attitude of a dancing girl, and more than half destroys the general effect of the figure, to those who cannot wish it away. It will be one of my objects, in the rest of this paper, to point out these alleged "restorations," whenever they occur in important works; for I cannot but think that, however skilfully they may be executed, they are, generally speaking, worse than labour thrown away; especially in regard to works which form part of a national gallery of study and reference. The Venus Victrix is incomparably the most valuable and interesting piece of sculpture now at the Louvre; and, to the credit of the French taste of 1820 be it spoken, it owes much of that interest to its being suffered to remain in its mutilated state.-On one side of the above lovely statue stands a little bronze Apollo (No. 15), which is well