صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

of Rome over Jerusalem. Its bassirilievi, both exterior and interior, represent the sacking of the Holy City and the despoiling of the tempie. The carvings of the triumphal procession bearing aloft the rifled treasures of the Holy of Holies, the great seven-branched candlestick, the mystic table of the "loaves of proposition," the golden bowls and censers, naturally enough excite feelings of bitter regret in the breast of the exiled and wandering race. So it happens that no good and true Jew passing through the Forum will ever follow the road that leads under this beautiful sculptured monument of his country's fall, nor even let its shadow fall upon his head as he passes it by. This sign of faithful mourning certainly struck us as very significant and poetical. There are two synagogues in the Ghetto, and it is curious to reflect that these Hebrew temples were tolerated within the walls of Rome by a government which proscribed Anglican chapels and relegated the worship of the English visitors beyond the Porta del Popolo. This restriction may have unheedingly been called intolerant; but let us stay for a moment to examine its reason. Rome was a theocracy and swayed by directly opposite principles to any other existing state, and it could no more allow of promiscuous worship within its domain than of old the Hebrew high-priest could have allowed the Moabitish altars to be erected at the doors of the Ark of God. In speaking of the Rome of the popes, it is absolutely necessary for a non-Catholic to set his mind to a different. focus from that which answers the ordinary purposes of travel and observation; it is necessary to do as Hawthorne says somewhere in his romance of the Marble Faun

dle of the courtyard, and from it to every window of the house (and often of several adjoining houses) runs a strong wire cord. On this is slung a bucket, which is let down or drawn up by a pulley easily managed from the window; and all day long this ingenious manoeuvre is constantly repeated with sundry whirring noises quite novel to the northern ear. It would need volumes to give any idea of the mere outer picturesqueness of Roman scenes, much more of the varied beauties that do not at once catch the eye. The Ghetto, or Jews' quarter, affords one of the most peculiar street-sights. The streets here are narrower, darker, filthier than elsewhere, the stalls are dingier, the poverty more apparent. Rags everywhere and in every stage of dilapidation-rags hung out over your head like banners; rags spread on the knees of the industrious women, who with deft fingers are mending and darning them; rags laid in shelves and coffers; rags clothing the swarthy children that tumble about the grimy door-steps-a very nightmare of rags. And among them, exiles: gorgeous robes hidden away where you would least expect them, rare laces of gossamer texture and historical interest, brocades that once graced a coronation, and even gems that the Queen of Sheba might have envied. Mingled in race and broken in spirit as are these Jews, weak descendants of the stern old Bible heroes, one touching evidence of their loyalty to their ancient traditions remains. We were told of it by Dr. O, of the Propaganda College, who had many friends among the Hebrew Rabbis. The Arch of Titus in the Forum, or what is now vulgarly called the Campo Vaccino (oxen's field or market), is a magnificent trophy commemorating the last victory that is, to look at the pictured

window of a great cathedral from the inside, where the harmony of form, of color, and of distribution is plainly visible; not from the outside, where an unmeaning network of dark, irregular patches of glass vexes the eye of the gazer.

One is apt at first to wander through these Roman streets in the indecision brought on by l'embarras des richesses. Shall we seek the Rome of religion, of history, or of art? Shall we make a tour of the churches or the studios first? Or shall we go at once to the colossal ruins, and bury ourselves in the annals of the old republic? All these regions have been thoroughly explored, and there are guides, both living and dead, to lead one through the divers cities existing within the bosom of the whilom mistress of the world. The streets themselves are a series of pictures, from the Via Condotti-where the most finished masterpieces of antique jewellery. are successfully imitated, and where wealthy strangers crowd round the counters, eager to take home keepsakes for less fortunate friends-to the Piazza Montanara, where the handsome peasants from the country mingle with the stalwart Frasteverini, who boast of being lineal descendants of the ancient Romans. One

thing which is very apt to strike any thoughtful observer upon a first saunter through Rome (we speak of 1863) is the sovereignty of religion in every department of life. Art is wholly moulded by it, domestic life pervaded by it, municipal life simply founded on it. Every monument of note is stamped with its impress, as the Pantheon; every ruin is consecrated to its service, as the Coliseum. Every public building bears on its walls the keys and tiara of the Papacy side by side with the "S. P. Q. R." of the city arms (Senatus Populusque

Romanus). Even the private galleries are under government protection, and not one of the pictures can be sold without the leave of the authorities. The very collections of classic statuary are the work of successive ecclesiastical rulers. Education is essentially religious (as it always is in any country whose ideal still remains civilized and does not approximate to that of the irresponsible denizen of the forests), and at the same time national, since every nation has here its own representative college. The archæological discoveries in the catacombs and at the Dominican Convent of San Clemente open a new branch of research peculiar to Rome, while modern art instinctively follows in the same religious groove, and spends itself chiefly on the imitation of Christian mosaics, the manufacture of costly articles of devotion, such as reliquaries, crucifixes, rosaries, and the rivalry of both foreign and native artists to invent new æsthetical expositions of religious truth, new embodiments of religious symbols. From the street-shrines which we have passed to the studios of Christian artists and the examination of ancient Christian art there is, therefore, less distance than one would think. The same idea has created them, and the faith which keeps the lamp alight and inspires the pifferaro's tribute is the same that guides the chisel of the sculptor and the brush of the painter. It is certainly a remarkable fact that in Rome there is perhaps less landscapepainting than in many other schools and centres of art, and that, too, in a country so picturesque, so full of that pathetic southern beauty of lu minous atmosphere and intense coloring. The human element, and, above all, the religious, seems, as by divine right, to blot out every other

in this mystic capital, not of the world alone, but of the whole realm of intellect. Classicism itself, the child of the soil, seems an alien growth here, and one wanders through miles of antique statuary as one would through some gigantic collection of exotics in a northern clime, expecting every moment to return to a different and more normal atmosphere. So it is not to be wondered at, when exploring the field of modern art, that so many of those wild-looking Germans, with long, fair hair and bushy beards, extravagance of costume, and universal abundance of the plaid shawl serving as an overcoat, should be engaged on S. Jeromes or S. Catherines rather than on Apollos or Minervas.

The Italians are best represented among the sculptors, and Tenerani, Giacometti, and Benzoni have made their religious statuary famous through the Christian world. Discarding the influence of the Renaissance, they have returned to the austere ideal so well understood by Canova and exemplified in his figures of Justice and Mercy on the tomb of Clement XIV. in S. Peter's-the ideal which Michael Angelo forsook when he introduced "muscular Christianity" into art. Tenerani's "Angel of Judgment," intended for the tomb of a Prussian princess, is a magnificent conception. Colossal in size, and divinely impassible in expression, this grand figure stands as if in the last dread pause before the call, holding uplifted in his mighty hand the trumpet that is to awaken the dead. It is impossible to give an adequate impression of this statue, so majestic and so simple, with its massive drapery falling straight to the feet, not tortured with a thousand undignified wrappings, nor flying like a stiffly frozen scarf around the bar ed limbs, as it does on the wretched

angels whom Bernini has perched upon the bridge opposite the Mole of Adrian. The two lifelike statues of Christ and his betrayer, Judas, which are placed at the foot of the Scala Santa, one of the most venerated shrines of Rome, are also Tenerani's handiwork. Judas clutches a bag of money in his left hand, which he tries to hide behind his back, while his bent body and the low animal cunning in his look betray the sordid eagerness that prompts him. Opposite this statue is that of our Saviour, whose attitude, full of dignity and repose, is more that of a lenient judge than of an entrapped victim. As far as marble can be god-like, this figure borrows something of the lofty characteristics of its original; and it is to be noticed that sculpture can more easily than painting attain such quasi-perfection. We have all been repeatedly struck by the effeminacy of almost every representation of our Lord, but this danger is much diminished in marble, the material itself being more or less incapable of sensuous interpretation. This is very evident in entirely or partially undraped figures, which are redeemed from the alluring repulsiveness of the same subjects on canvas by a certain firmness of outline and breadth of contour suggestive of strength rather than tenderness, dignity rather than charm.

One very beautiful group in marble was the "Taking down from the Cross," which in 1863 was still in the atelier of a German sculptor, whose name we have forgotten. The realistic details, such as the nails still embedded in the sacred hands of the Redeemer, the crown of thorns, the tears of the Magdalen who is embracing his feet, were marvellously and yet not painfully correct, while the whole expression of the artistic

ally grouped figures was touchingly Christian. Benzoni's Eve was another well-known masterpiece, of which many fac-similes by the sculptor himself were constantly sold to rich English or Russian patrons; but its chief merit was the wonderful hair, upon which the "mother of all the living" half sits, and which is chiselled with minute accuracy. The statue might be that of a beau tiful bather or a grandly moulded Venus, save for the symbolic serpent twined around the stump of the tree on which she leans.

Gibson, the English sculptor, was the apostle of the revived art of tinting statues. He contended that such was the custom of the ancients, and brought forward many proofs in favor of his assertion, notably a statue of Augustus discovered at the baths of Livia during our stay in Rome, and which bore marks of gilding and vermilion on the fringes of its drapery. Gibson's studio was a pagan temple, the representative of classic naturalism, very beautiful, but equally soulless. His tinted Venus was the marvel of the London Exhibition of 1862, and now he was at work giving the finishing touch to a very lovely tinted Hebe. The flesh was skilfully tinged to a faint pink hue, so faint that it suggested ivory with a glow upon it rather than actual flesh; and here and there, for instance, round the short kirtle and on the band around the forehead, ran a pencil-line of gold in delicate tracery. The artist, gray and withered, and pacing among his statues in a loose sort of déshabillé, reminded one of the ancient Greek philosophers discoursing on their favorite theories. He was altogether a cultivated and charming pagan, and had conceptions of the Greek myths which would have delighted Phidias. He explained his Bacchus

to us most enthusiastically, dwelling on the mistake often made of delineating him as the bloated god of intemperance and coarse indulgence. "I have made him," he said, pointing to his statue, crowned with vineleaves, "not less beautiful than Apollo; for he was the god of youth and pleasure, of dance and song, and not the type of brutal revelry some people would have us believe. He left that to Silenus." This statue was not tinted. Whether the ancients did or did not as a rule use color as an adjunct of sculpture, or whether, if they did, it was only in the degenerate stage of art, we cannot pretend to say; but, to our mind, such a practice seriously detracts from the severe beauty of statuary. It seems a pandering to passion, a compromise to allure the imagination, and even a confession of weakness on the part of the artist.

Story, the American sculptor, was and is by far the ablest representative of secular art in Rome. His two magnificent statues of Cleopatra and the Libyan Sibyl were the gems of the "Roman Court" in the London Exhibition of 1862. The former (or a replica of it) is in Mr. Johnston's gallery of modern pictures in New York. Story has given his heroine something of the Egyptian type, thereby forsaking the arbitrary rule that decreed the Greek type only to be admissible in sculpture; and, if he has lost in mere physical beauty, he has amply gained in pow

[blocks in formation]

tempt would not reach her. She is here the tangible embodiment of a principle rather than the splendid sinner of flesh and blood; and involuntarily we admire and reverence her, and are silent before her imperial woe. The Libyan Sibyl is not unlike the Cleopatra in general effect, and bears the same stamp of loftiness of mind on the part of the artist.

Of Hoffman, a very different sculptor, and the adopted son of Overbeck, we remember but one work, as he died between our first and second visits to Rome, and our recollection of him dates, therefore, from a somewhat childish period. This work was the bust of a Madonna, in which seemed blended in some indescribable way the softness of the painter's art and the firmness of the sculptor's. The head is slightly bent forward, and the eyes look modestly down. Over the back of the head fails a veil, and the brow is bound by a simple crown of fleur-delis. The expression is radiant yet grave, and the artist has ventured to use the help of gilding to embellish the veil and circlet. But how different the effect from that produced by Gibson's tinting! The thread-like medieval tracery that forms the half-inch border to the veil, and the line of gold that just defines the contour of the crown, have not the least disturbing effect in the harmony of the whole pure composition. One would think that this was the head of the white-robed Virgin in Beato Angelico's fresco in the Convent of San Marco at Florence, translated in to marble.

Christian art in the department of painting is chiefly represented by the new German school of Overbeck. The master himself, a worthy follower of the religious painters of the XIVth and XVth centuries, was

quite a study. His enthusiastic explanations of his cartoons of the Seven Sacraments, which were in his atelier at the time we visited him, were very impressive. His own appearance was singularly in harmony with the tone of his works, and, by its dignified asceticism, could not fail to remind one that to paint as he did is to pray. One of his most beautiful productions is now at Mu nich-a half-length Madonna-in whose draperies he has managed to combine the most richly varied tints, all subdued to that velvety depth and mellowness which is so peculiar to some of the old Pre-Raphaelite masters, and which always suggests to our mind the tints seen in mediæval stained glass. The Christian revival linked with his name has spread far and wide, and all over England, Germany, and France are found memorials of its inspiration. The nudities of the Renaissance, the anatomies of the school of Michael Angelo, and the handsome, robust materialities of even the later manner of Raphael were banished to the realm of secular art, and the revived ideal of religious chivalry was no longer the muscular athlete, the handsome peasant, or the graceful odalisque. Many disciples followed the new artistic school, and one of these, Seitz, of whom we have had personal knowledge, may well find a place here. Seitz had his studio near the Piazza Barberini, and, when we went in a party to see him, he was at work on a beautiful group of saints arrayed round the throne of the Virgin and Child. It was a thoroughly characteristic picture, designed according to the medieval custom of representing the family of the owner by their respective patron saints. It was destined for a Gothic chapel in England, and has since. been transferred there, having been.

« السابقةمتابعة »