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or of opinion is tolerated; and as an established creed is laid down for' implicit reception on all points, from a religious dogma to a top-knot, discussion of any kind cannot easily arise: for where no one dares avow his dissent from fashionable orthodoxy, the "right-thinkers," (as they are called) have it all their own way; and social intercourse is confined to plain matters of fact, which are delivered in a tone rarely elevated above a whisper. Nay, the very physical enjoyments of the metropolis are but ill understood; and the sensual pleasures of a London life are often defeated by the bungling attempts of those who strive to realize them. The upper classes of society, when their secret is penetrated, are for the most part found to exist in a state of appalling distaste for all around them. An apathy, bordering on despair, accompanies them In their most splendid indulgences. Of all the forms of human woe, this is the most sickening. Poverty, disease, and heart-breaking labour, are calamities evidently arising out of the scheme of human nature; and they form so necessary and inevitable a part of the great whole, that though they excite commiseration for the sufferers, they do not revolt the imagination. But misery seated upon the throne of pleasure, and sufferings arising immediately out of the plenitude of indulgence, seem so perverse and so unnatural a dispensation, as to exasperate the spectator against his species, and against the general condition of things, which can admit of such a combination. The wild frolics of the "Tom and Jerry" school have excited ridicule and disgust to such a degree, that no animal possessed of a grain of sense will dare to appear in this character before the public; but it may reasonably be doubted whether the error of the Corinthians is more gross than that of their betters, respecting all that contributes, really and substantially, to the full enjoyment of a "Life in London." Philosophers have said that prosperity is more difficult to bear than adversity; and most true it is, that to «teer one's way through the intricate navigation of a London season, and to determine (as the mathematicians would say) the maximum of pleasure derivable from the given quantity of London excitements, with the least possible expenditure of fortune, health, and reputation, require as much sense, spirit, and power of bearing and forbearing, as to struggle with misfortune, and from abject poverty to arrive at opulence.
If the number of those who, without the concurrent operation of mere luck, have been the architects of their own fortune, could be compared with those who, possessing a fortune, have known how to spend it like gentlemen, with advantage to their own pleasures and respectability, and for the general benefit of the community—the result would prove that the art of enjoying life is among the last and best refinements of civilized existence. M.
THE FALSE ALARM.
Cloe proclaims full oft, she fears
BARTOLINI THE SCULPTOR.
Bartolini may, in one respect, be compared to Sir Thomas Lawrence. He has reached the highest fame which a painter or a sculptor of portraits can reach—a fame necessarily limited, and which will shrink into a narrower compass hereafter. Mr. Croker attempted the other day, in the debate on Mr. Haydon's petition, to prove that a portraitpainter has more right to the title of an historical painter than any other description of artist. But this is merely playing upon words. It is undeniably true that the portraits of men who belong to history are historical, in its usual sense; but the term, as applied to painting, has a widely different signification. It has always been received to convey originality—invention—creation,—qualities which are not needful to a portrait-painter. In the present state of the patronage of the arts, especially in England, it is very conceivable that men of genius must stoop—for in forty-nine cases out of fifty, it is stooping—to paint portraits. Sir Thomas Lawrence has gained great distinction, while Mr. Haydon has his pictures seized by his creditors. But it is infinitely to be lamented that such men should, for any consideration of greater gain, confme themselves to portraits wholly. If Sir Thomas Lawrence have the regard for his permanent fame, which one can scarcely believe him to be without, he will execute at least one work of a higher order than those which his line has yet permitted him, to prove to the world what he might have done had he lived in days more favourable to art. If he do not, it is to be feared that a suspicion will be entertained that he wants the power as well as the will. His portraits are the perfection—the impassable Thule—of what can be done in that line; but a portrait-painter, though superior to a copyist, inasmuch as copying nature is superior to copying art, can never rank in relation to an original artist, higher than a translator does in comparison with an original writer.
Bartolini feels this—for, having, by the lavishness which is common to the indulgence of personal vanity, put himself above the necessity of constantly working for profit, he is now beginning to work for fame; and, if I can presage from two or three things in an imperfect state, fame he will acquire. He has, at present, nearly finished what, though still in some measure a portrait, soars indisputably into a higher branch of art—a colossal statue of Napoleon. The figure itself is seven and a half braccia high, and the attitude is very striking and imposing. The body is perfectly upright, being rested on the left leg, while the right knee is slightly and easily bent. The right arm is a little extended from the side, and the hand holds a scroll representing the Code Napoleon. The left is extended and raised, being in a horizontal position from the shoulder to the elbow, and thence elevated in about an angle of forty-five degrees. In the hand is part of the handle of a spear. The head (for which Napoleon sat soon after he became Emperor) is wreathed with laurel after the manner of that in David's picture of the Coronation, and of the busts which are taken from it. The whole of the upper part of the body is bare, to display that beauty of chest and shoulder for which Napoleon was so remarkable. Bartolini told me that he had taken peculiar pains in the modelling this part, which, likewise, he did from nature. The drapery, which is flung over the raised arm across from the right hip, is peculiarly beautiful both in disposition and detail. It has that lightness which it is so difficult to give to marble, and which is so great a beauty when given. At the side is an eagle, resting on the bolts of Jove, which, again, rest upon a globe—typical, I conclude, of the extent of Napoleon's dominion. A live eagle was there, chained to a perch, sitting, I suppose, for the last finish to his marble portrait. The poor bird, which had been brought from the Apennines near Carrara, sat motionless and melancholy: it required very little stretch of fancy to conceive it to be mourning over the fate of him who made his effigy the emblem of his glory over nearly all the civilized world. That fate, Bartolini told us, was figured on the pedestal (which, I think, he said was at Leghorn) in four reliefs representing Toulon—the Coronation—Waterloo—and the tomb;—the commencement and the completion of his power, his downfall, and his death. If I had any fault to find with this vigorous and masterly work, I should say that the features, especially the nose and forehead, had a hardness and squareness of outline, which, though perhaps inseparable from colossal sculpture, is certainly a drawback from the delicacy of execution, and the ultimate likeness and effect of the whole.
This immense figure was originally cut from one block of marble; but when the left arm was nearly finished, its weight of unsupported position caused it to break, and another has been since supplied with proper precautions against a similar accident. But, with this exception, it is one piece.
Bartolini spoke with a good deal of interest concerning the disposal of this statue, in which, naturally enough, he seemed to take considerable pride. In the first place, he assured me that it had actually cost him 4000/.; but it was more with reference to fame than profit that his anxiety seemed to consist. It was the largest statue, he said, ever executed of Napoleon, and was modelled from nature at, perhaps, the time of life when his person was the finest—namely, about sixteen years ago. Whatever might be its present worth, he added, fifty years hence such a piece could not fail to be of great interest and value—as we now attach them to a Vespasian or an Adrian which we dig out of the earth. It was to England, he said, he must look for its purchaser ; on the Continent he could not hope for one. His desire, he told us was, that it should be placed in some park, for which its size and subject well fitted it. The Duke of Devonshire, Mr. Hope, or some one equally rich and equally fond of art and favouring to its professors, might buy it. We hinted to him, that our climate, where the month Pluviose lasts all the year round, would never permit its exposure to the atmosphere; but we said that there were large halls in the country-houses of our grands seigneurs capable of receiving it. He consulted us on sending it in the first place to London for exhibition, of which he had heard favourably. We strongly recommended this; for though we could not but say that all such things were attended with some risk, yet we felt and expressed ourselves confident that such an exhibition must succeed.
It was but this year that all the world flocked to see David's picture —an object as a work of art, which is universally thought lightly of— but the subject rendered it one of unfailing interest and attraction. Of late years, the English have attached strong interest to every thing regarding the late Emperor of France. The heat of actual opposition has had time to cool; and we look back on Napoleon and his deeds as a person and events of history. Men of all parties, except the most narrow-minded and bigoted, have turned with deep curiosity to the records of his opinions and his feelings which have of late been abundantly given to the world; and I am confident that all would equally desire to look on a work so honourable to modern art.
In the studio where Bartolini was at work, was i copy in marble from the Titian Venus, which is bespoken by the present Lord Londonderry. It is an admirable piece of sculpture, retaining more of that voluptuousness for which the picture is so remarkable than I should have thought it possible for marble to receive. The Titian Venus has far more of what, after all, the real expression of the mythological Venus should be—voluptuousness—than any other I ever saw. It hangs in the tribune close to the Venus de Medicis, and is much more in contrast than comparison with the image of ideal beauty. It is, indeed, rather as such than as the heathen goddess, that I think the statue should be regarded. In the calm loveliness of that face are sweetness and placidity amounting almost to purity, if not to coldness. And who ever heard of the mistress of Mars and of Adonis being either cold or pure? The very fact, indeed, of her being one of the ancient goddesses would be sufficient, even if all the minutia? of her laudable loves were not so carefully schooled into us from our earliest years by the guardians of our minds and morals; for the ancients always embodied and worshiped every thing profligate and impure. Many of the Magdalens and even of the Madonnas are much more like Venus than either the Medicean or the Canova statue.* The celebrated Madonna del Seggiala itself is excessively like what it is, and not the least like what it is meant to be; namely, it is the portrait of the mistress and the child of Raffaelle
* I am by no means fully convinced of the great superiority of the ancient over the modern work. It is certain the general attitude aud aspect are copied in the latter, which deprives the artist of a great share of the merit of originality; but if we were to regard the works alone, without any reference to their formation, I am not sure that the palm would not be given to Canova. As a friend of mine, no mean judge, said to me, " If they were both dug out of the earth now, and nobody knew any thing about cither, the Canova statue would be preferred." In the first place, I cannot understand how it is that the connoisseurs do not say that the head of the Venus de Medicis is out of all proportion with the body. It is so palpable and glaring to me, that I cannot comprehend how any difference of sight can hide it from others. The head, to my view, is so small that it always reminds me of the beginning of the poetical perfection of a greyhound,
"Head like a snake." This fault docs not exist in Canova's statue. Again, the arms of the modern figure are, to my taste, far more beautiful. The arms of the Venus de Medicis are said to be modern restorations. But I speak of the statue as it is. The whole of the left arm, especially, appears to me faulty: and the position of the wrist is stiff, if not to distortion, certainly to painfulness. But there is one fault common to both, which, however, is more apparent in the Medicis. I mean, the statue is not, as it purports to be, the facsimile of a short woman, but the miniature of a tall one. The Venus de Medicis is four feet eleven inches four lines, in height, of English measure. Now, no woman under five feet is made in the least degree like the Venus de Medicis. She has a long gracefulness of limb, and a general length of contour aud of figure, which it is impossible a woman, actually of her height, to possess. As a diminution of a taller woman it has admirable beauty, but as a positive figure it is a contradiction.
—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 most 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 you if you 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 cyc-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