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EXHIBITION, IN OLD BOND STREET, OF THE TAPESTRIES FOR WHICH RAPHAEL EXECUTED THE CARTOONS.
AN exhibition better calculated than this to excite a lively and a general interest has not, for a long time, been opened to the public. It is seldom that that interest which is attached to objects on account of their antiquity, or their relation to persons or circumstances of history, is united with that which arises from pure taste. Things, indeed, which generally afford the highest satisfaction to the mere antiquary, produce in the artist or connoisseur indifference or disgust.
To state that the designs of these tapestries are by the immortal Raphael, and that the tapestries themselves have been traced from his very outlines, is a sufficient assurance of the entertainment they will afford to the man of real taste; while the relation which they bear to circumstances of the highest import in the history of this country, must powerfully excite the interest of the antiquary, and indeed of the English public. These tapestries were presented by Pope Leo X. (the son of the celebrated Lorenzo de Medici) to our Henry VIII., and were hung up by this monarch in the banqueting-house, Whitehall. From him they descended,
through Edward VI., Mary, Elizabeth, and James, to Charles I.; and after the death of this unfortunate monarch, they were sold with the rest of his truly magnificent collection, which had been formed principally by Rubens, Vandycke, and Charles, who was himself a man of exquisite taste. These tapestries, with other works of art, were purchased by don Alonso de Cardanas, the Spanish ambassador, who, with his master, Philip III., gloried in the misfortunes of the English monarch, and made the utmost advantage of them. The tapestries were sent to the marquis del Carpio, whose title, estates, &c. devolved to the house of Alva, and by the present duke of which name these tapestries were sold to Mr. Tupper. Owing to the troubles in Spain, they had for some years been rolled up in the manner of carpets; and, by a reverse of fortune, have thus a second time visited this country.
To offer any observations upon the invention, general arrangement, composi tion, and partial grouping of seven of these tapestries, is unnecessary, since we possess the original cartoons; the merits of which have been so frequently pointed out by writers on art, and are so familiar to the public in numerous very excellent engravings. But two of the tapestries, the Stoning of St. Stephen and the Conversion of St. Paul, are truly worthy of observa
tion; for, from some extraordinary circumstances, we have never possessed any engraving, drawing, or least tracing of these grand compositions; so that they are as new to the artists and connoisseurs of this country as if Raphael had but just produced them: and those which stand at the head of this article, are the very first that have ever appeared in this kingdom. The Conversion of Saul is the grander composition;. it possesses a spirit resembling Michael Angelo, which distinguishes it from all the other designs. It is, indeed, finer than that great master's picture of the same subject. The time of the entire action is a moment, that moment (always so judiciously chosen by Raphael) big with the past, and pregnant with the future. The composition, consisting of groups of horsemen, appears to sweep like a whirlwind across the picture. In the centre of the composition is Saul, flung with violence from his horse, and the Saviour, supported by infant angels, rushing from the clouds, and apparently uttering the exclamation.
It is worthy of the highest admiration, that while the artist has given the reins, as it were, to a most vigorous imagination, fired by a sublime subject, he has been so careful in the observance of propriety. Though the attitude of Paul is truly
sublime, considered without reference to
the subject, yet it is not less admirable for its perfect consistency with the story: The action appears that of a man, not fallen, but flung with violence from his horse. He exhibits, in an extraordinary manner, the unconsciousness of one dashed suddenly to the ground, and at the same moment the terror that would be produced by a mysterious vision. The varied actions and expressions of his companions, who are dazzled by the splendour of the light, or alarmed at the phenomenon, are not less true to nature. In the composition of the Stoning of St. Stephen, Raphael appears more in his usual`character, that of a milder genius. As the former composition was remarkable for its sublimity, so is this for its exquisite touches of sentiment; of which St. Stephen himself is an extraordinary instance. The expression of piety and forgiveness of his enemies in the expiring man, is such as can only be conceived by those who behold it. The figures of the men engaged in the barbarous murder are in noble and appropriate actions; one gathering the stones, and another, who stretches himself over Stephen, to dash the stone down upon his head, are particularly fine. This picture has an inexcusable blemish, in the introduction of two persons of the Trinity. In regard to the tapestries themselves,
they are in admirable preservation, and we have no doubt may be made as brilliant as when new. They give a very good idea of the uncommon magnificence of those days, being worked with threads of gold and silver, as well as crimson, ultramarine, and other vivid colours. The extraordinary colouring of the cartoons at Hampton Court, which has by no means a good effect, and which has always appeared unaccountable to artists, is explained by considering that it was contrived solely for the tapestries, in which the arrangement of colours, so far from having the disagreeable effect it has in the cartoons, is exceedingly beautiful. These tapestries have flowered borders round them, worked in the same piece, by way of frames; and the story of Elymas the Sorcerer is larger than the cartoon, having a representation of a statue introduced on one side, which, however, does not improve the composition. The whole, we consider, to be an important national acquisition, and will most amply repay the visitor for the trouble of a personal inspection.
IMPROVED HYDRO-PNEUMATIC LAMP.
arts of life, will ever find a foremost place THE application of science to the useful in the pages of the "CIRCULATOR;" and nexed apparatus for procuring instanțawe are happy to give publicity to the anthat constructed by Mr. Garden, and neous light. It differs materially from may be made by an ordinary mechanic.