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- voluptuousness is beaming on the cheek-love, mortal, animal love, is flashing from the eyes ;-all this it is very like—but it is meant to represent the Virgin, the maiden mother, and this it is pre-eminently unlike.
But the Titian Venus is the perfect representation of the ancient idea of what is heavenly and spiritual that is, it is the most unequivocal and appetizing flesh and blood. Bartolini's statue, of course, loses the fine flush of colour which is so delicious in the original ; but the form is proportionately more real and exquisite. The pressure of the arm upon the pillow is given with admirable grace and truth. It reminded me of the same beauty in the celebrated Two Children of Chantrey, in Lichfield Cathedral. The face, as must be the case in all statues, is the part niost inferior to the painting. The want of eye is what no prestige, no authority, no time or habit, can reconcile to my feelings of beauty. Want of colour in a statue is, to my ideas, a very great drawback, but the want of eye is insuperable. Critics and connoisseurs (to which brood, I thank Heaven, I in no degree belong,) ask
then think Mrs. Salmon's waxwork inferior to the Medicean Venus, and endeavour to prove that desiring colour in a statue runs you into that conclusion. But this argument appears to me to be neither sound nor fair. You might equally be asked if you considered the Saracen's head on Snow-hill superior to Bartolozzi's engravings. What I think is, that if Michael Angelo and Canova had worked in a substance capable of producing coloured form, their statues would have been equally admirable as they now are, in respect to shape, and have possessed a reality in other respects which can never be given to white and eyeless marble. If one mentions such a thing as a coloured statue, a cry is instantly raised of bad taste and barbarism ; yet I cannot but think this to arise from prescriptive and conventional ideas, not from any thing founded in natural principles of beauty. It has been said,
you cannot give a statue motion—it therefore cannot be exactly similar to life-and thence, to give it colour would make it startling and shocking.” Now, this conclusion appears to me to be most peremptorily liable to be called that name to which the Serjeant in Tom Jones would not submit—it is a non sequitur. True, a statue cannot be made to move, but it can be made accurately to resemble life when not in motion. There is nothing horrible, or even disagreeable, in a coloured figure on canvass. I cannot in the least see why it should be so, when the form is of reality instead of perspective. Few people will deny that colour is one of the chief causes and condiments of beauty. In describing it, it is one of the first points mentioned : in gazing on it, it is one of the chief objects of delight. Why it should be so arbitrarily (and as I think wantonly) excluded from the only art capable of producing perfect form, is to me matter of surprise, as well as of strong regret.
But the want of eye is, perhaps, still more strongly felt. The debate between mouth and eyes has been mooted by many besides La Fontaine, and in sculpture and painting the bribe which swayed his judge is unavailable. I am myself somewhat an eye-ite, but by no means bigotedly or exclusively. The muscles round the mouth convey a world of expression both of sense and temper; but I must lay claim to at least an equal share for the eyes. The sterner passions—at least, in their sudden ebullitions—surely are chiefly conveyed by them ;-and who that has gazed into eyes which looked fondness upon him, would be con
tented to confine to the mouth (sweetly as it conveys them) the expression of the softer passions also ? Every one who reads this, can, I am very sure, call to mind, as he who writes it does, some picture even, whose cyes have looked into his soul, on which he has riveted his in entranced pleasure; but who ever felt this in looking on the eyes of a statue or a bust? Our friend, chiselled in marble, never lives to us, at least to me; for he is sightless, he does not return our gaze, he does not look on any thing.-Oh! that some one would have courage enough to dare, and skill enough to execute a statue with eyes. He would be a greater benefactor to the arts than he who added the seventh note to music.
In these respects the Venus of Titian loses by her translation into marble--but in that ineffable listlessness of limb, that languor of expression which is so beautifully apparent in every member, in every muscle, it perhaps gains ; but then it wants the eye to give the redeeming, yet crowning fire.
But Bartolini has, at present, in hand another Venus, which I think will be yet finer than this; for as it is original, the freedom from the confinement of copying, has given it a spirit and (if I may so speak) a natural idealism of beauty that make it perhaps still more fascinating. As a friend of mine once happily said to me of his account of a tour he had been making, “it is what I really saw, or really invented;" so when I expressed my surprise at Bartolini's telling me that a young girl sat for this, he added, that it was her beauty improved upon. The statue is somewhat similar in design to Canova's nymph; that is, it is lying on the face with the head rested on the arm. The figure is totally naked,- and we gathered that the artist had had no impediment to making his copy. The model, he told us, was una ragazza, who came under the chaperonage of her mother, and received a scudo per sitting! We asked if she were not ashamed ? " Ma, non-non ci sono molto tergognose a Firenze. While we spoke, the young lady arrived; she was a very pretty, plump girl, of about twenty, but neither so lovely nor so youthful as her marble copy.
In the gabinetto, where are the works for sale, are also the original models of an infinite number of the busts which Bartolini has taken. What a multitude of plain unpoetical heads were here !-heads which Nature never meant for Art, and which Art had had great difficulty in moulding into passable nature. I was exceedingly amused by the evident endeavours of the sitters to throw sculpturelike expression into their unsculpturelike faces. The hair of one was artistement urrangé ; the neck of another was imposingly turned ;-one had affected an expression of calmness and philosophy, a second of dignity, a third of energy, a fourth of fire; nearly all by being affected had become unnatural -nearly all had striven to "look delightfully with all their might,” and nearly all had failed egregiously. I was amused also with the evident traces of the skilful and admissible flattery of the artist. In heads which I recognised, this of course was apparent, but it was so also in those which I did not. In particular, you could see his good taste in tempering and redeeming the unnatural and theatrical air which so many had assumed, and his skill in blending what they were with what they wished to be. Some, however, were beyond him. Hleads which were fitted only to rise from a Bond-street coat, and a starched neckcloth, could be brought into no unison with the bare throat and the Roman toga. Yet such is per
sonal vanity! Such it certainly is, for I thought my own head would make a very laudable addition to the collection, and I dare
there are very few people who would be of the same opinion.
But there were some unreproachable with these faults, possessed, indeed, of great interest and beauty. There were young and lovely heads, to which youth and loveliness were evidently natural -- heads of manliness and expression, where it was clear they were not assumed. But what interested me most was, meeting the portraits of features which had become farniliar through their possessors' celebrity. Of these there were many, some favourite busts, some recopied for sale. Of Napoleon, of course, the image met you at every turn, ihat fine head so fitted for sculpture by the beauty and strong expression both of its general contour and its minuter forms. There were several models of this head of various sizes, and different characteristics ; some with the wreathed crown, some with the small three-cornered hat which he commonly wore, some without any covering. I thought most of them were extremely successful, both in likeness and expression. Of Fox, too, the busts were in great number; and Bartolini told me that there was more demand for it than almost for any head that he had ever modelled. Even the uttachés to our Embassy had them! Tell this not in Gath, that is, in Downing-street--what would they say there? or rather what would they have said there two years ago ?
These, of course, were familiar to me; but there was one head which, manifold as its copies are, and well known as it is in England, I did not at first recognize. This was a bust of Lord Byron, taken about eighteen months ago. He must be greatly changed since he left England, for Bartolini said the bust was a very happy likeness. The face is quite altered in contour, and thence partly in expression, frorn what it formerly was. It is greatly fallen away in the lower part, which tends also to throw the nose more prominently forward. There are lines also of mingled sadness and uigreur, formed about the mouth, which one might so well expect to be there! I was instantly reminded of those mournful and most beautiful stanzas beginning
“ No more, no more, ob! never more on me
The froshness of the heart shall fall like dew !” The face spoke that consciousness of the vanity, the unarailingness of great gifts, and mental acquirements and fame, which constitute, perhaps, the bitterest of all reflections. There were other changes also. The hair which used to be curled close to the head, now flowed in long and graceful curls after the old Italian fashion, which, in my esteem at least, is the addition of a beauty. But I am told that he afterwards had again cut it short. It had grown grey,
“ But now, at thirty years, my hair is grey
I wonder what it will be like at forty:" and he therefore did not like it to be long. In speaking of his grey hairs, he said Je les ui coupé pour ne plus les conter. Near his bust stood that of the Contessa Y
In this I was much disappointed, for I had thought always highly of Lord Byron's ideas of female beauty, not only from his poems, but also "from some hints dropped here and there in his notes. But in this head there was little either of beauty or expression. The face is large and round in the upper part and the cheek-bones, and then slopes off sud
denly till it becomes very narrow below. Still, I can understand many people, considering it as belonging to that style of beauty which the İtalians of the middle ages admired that is, which one or two of them painted;-) mean an inanimate oval face, with hair parted carefully, and Aatly at the top, and hanging down in long ringlets on the shoulders. The Marchesa's hair was arranged in exactly this manner :-it is evident that is the line of beauty which she adopts. The eyes are not large-of their expression, of course, I cannot speak; but the mouth has little, if any, and the whole appearance of the bust was as if it resembled a head which was like a bust.
One of the finest pieces of sculpture, in my estimation, was a bust of Machiavelli. Here mouth had the superiority, for the expression of cunning and caducity in the mouth of the bust was as powerful and speaking as any thing I can conceive. “Cunning,” perhaps, is not exactly the word to convey my meaning, at least I would wish it taken in a higher sense than that in which it is commonly used — acuteness and subtlety of thought combined; but probably not exalted by much grandeur or generosity of intellect.
I was much pleased with Bartolini himself; like most foreigners, he speaks rapidly, but bis ideas flow as fast as his words ;-every moment you are struck by some sound, acute, or original remark, clinched by apposite and strong language. I hate to see a man of reputation in his profession confined, like a mill-horse, to his own beaten round, and proving to you, in despite of what might be concluded and certainly must be wished, that talent may co-exist with extreme narrowness of intellect. This is a truth which I have long wished to deny to my conviction; but what can one do against the repeated instances that one sees, and some of them very distinguished? The assertion, which had become almost a proverb, that “ Nelson was nothing ashore," may be applied mutatis mutundis to men eminent in many different ways. Still the natural desire, as well as expectation, is, when you see a man of whom you have heard much, that his appearance and conversation should prove that he is not a mere mechanic in his calling. With Bartolini this is peculiarly the case. In speaking of his own art, he has a clearness, an absence of all affectation, and, what is still more extraordinary in one so nearly allied to the Sir Fretful brotherhood of painters, an equal absence of all envy.
Bartolini was one of the artists, culled from the most eminent of nearly all Europe, who were sent for to Paris to erect the pillar in the Place Vendôme. A considerable part of the relief of this most beautiful and admirable work is from his models. There can scarcely, in my idea, be a more beautiful monument than this. In more senses than one, the inscription beneath the prints of the pillar is a just one.“Qu'on est fier d'être Français quand on regarde la colonne !"
One thing Bartolini told me, which surprised me exceedingly-he bad never been at Rome! Living within 170 miles of it, being an artist, nay a sculptor, he has never visited the metropolis of all art. To bé sure, when he was at Paris, the Apollo and the Laocoon were there; but you cannot move St. Peter's -- fresco paintings are not transferable at pleasure ;-above all, the associations attached to Rome cannot be shifted by the mandate of a conqueror; and yet Bartolini never drove, for it is only a drive, to Rome! I cannot understand, or account for it.
AND I TOO IN ARCADIA." Are ye come forth, amidst the leaves and flowers With all bright things that wake to sunny hours,
O youths and virgins of the sylvan vales ! And doth the soft wind of the summer air, Sport with the ringlets of your shining hair?
- I too have breath'd Årcadia’s joyous gales ! Bear
fresh wreaths some turf-built shrine to dress, Some wood-nymph's altar of the wilderness,
Deep midst the hoary pines and olives dim?
-My voice once mingled in Arcadia's hymn !
And the hills ringing unto flute and song!
1, midst Arcadia's fair and festive throng!
And weigh the rich trees down with summer's pride!
-Even in Arcadia's lap a rose hath died !
Twelve o'clOCK AT NIGHT.
“ Well, if any thing be damn'd,
It is the Judas of the hours, wherein
REVENGER'S TRAGEDY. The opinion above delivered concerning that “ celebrated hour*" to which the literary world is so deeply indebted, is most harsh and ung christian. It is now many years since first I had the honour of forming an acquaintance with Twelve o'clock at Night, and in the interim I have known it in almost every department of life ; yet I cannot charge my memory with any misconduct of which it has been guilty, that at all warrants so severe a denunciation; but, on the contrary, must own that of all the four-and-twenty hours it is the one from which I have derived the most intense and most varied pleasure, and is indeed “the sweetest morsel of the night.” Whoever will take the pains of looking a little deeper than the surface of things, and of giving that attention to the subject which common charity requires of all men when & reputation is at stake, will discover that there is much more of antique prejudice than of sound reason in the damnatory clauses of the poet; and will find that if certain of the imputations levelled against the
witching hour” may formerly have had some slight semblance of
* “ It was at the celebrated hour of twelve, &c." See “The Heroine."