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CHRISTIAN ART.-OVERBECK.

CHAPTER XIII.

ONE of the wonders of Rome at the present day is a German artist of the name of Overbeck, with whose reputation we had been familiar, long before we left home. He is said to have brought Christian art to a higher degree of perfection than any who are now living. It is one of the pleasures indeed of this land of paintings and statues, to study the progress of art in past ages, and to mark how it has been gradually modified and changed by the progress of the religious principle.

The ancient Greeks worshipped only physical beauty, and deified the human form. They drew their inspiration from the old Mythology, and in the arts produced Apollo as the model of manly vigor, and Venus as the embodiment of female loveliness. They bequeathed this feeling to those who came after them and studied their creations of matchless grace; and thus for ages artists seemed to seek their inspiration only in "the fair humanities of old religions." Forming to themselves a standard of ideal beauty, they mused over it through long years of earnest toil, seeking to develope the conception and perpetuate it in the changeless marble. Sometimes every thought and effort were concentrated upon a single statue, which was to embody his ideas of perfection. In it the artist enshrined the noble visions he had cherished, and it constituted at once the history of his own mind and the labor of his life.

But as the Christian faith prevailed and sunk deeper into the heart of the world, a higher principle seemed to be breathed into the arts, and we can trace its progress as the Mediceval ages went on. Christianity gradually spiritualized and elevated the old conceptions of beauty. The religious feeling became impressed upon the artist's mind, and the Madonna with her chastened loveliness and holy associations, took the place of the Queen of Love. The students of art cultivated the poetry of religion. In the last century indeed an æsthetic school was formed on these principles, which for a long time exercised a great influence on the Rhine, but has now sunk out of notice. One of its members has beautifully set forth their views in a work entitled"Reveries of an Art-loving Monk." The writer had once been a Protestant, but so devoted was he to these studies that he became a Romanist, because, as he said, "he could not worship the art, without subscribing to the faith which gave it birth."

At the begin

This is almost the history of Overbeck. ning of the present century he was dismissed from the Academy at Vienna, because he did not conform himself to the artistical rules laid down by the institution. He almost entirely discarded the use of models, except for the arrangement of drapery, because he thought them unfavorable to the ideal conception of character. He trusted to his own vivid imagination to delineate correctly the images which floated before his mind. In 1809 he came to Rome, where he was shortly joined by Peter Cornelius and William Schadow, men like-minded with himself, and for a time they lived in perfect seclusion, perfecting their new principles of art.

They soon announced their fundamental doctrine, that a deep devotional feeling was the true source of an artist's inspiration. Thus, they became the Apostles of a new faith which was not long wanting in disciples. They discarded the theatrical attitudes taken from the danseurs of the ballet,

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