Obrázky stránek





ISA'S four curiosities, the leaning tower, the ca

thedral, the Baptistery, and the Campo Santo, stand together on a smooth level grassy space, tranquil and appropriate, with the effect of the precincts of some of our cathedral closes. The tower leans more than we had expected. It stands well away from other buildings, but near enough to the cathedral to group finely with it. The tint which these marble edifices have acquired is most lovely; golden as the sun itself; so different from the tint of the lichens and weather-stains of a more northern climate; and the variations of the shadowy effect of their open pillar-work at all hours of the day relieve the dreariness of unmitigated sunshine. The flat ground deceives you as to the size of the buildings with the grandest effect. From the summit of the leaning tower there is a fine mountain view in the direction of Carrara. On the other side, you have Pisa beneath you, and far beyond, Leghorn, and the Sea. On entering the leaning tower you gradually alter your first impressions, until you arrive at considering the tower as upright; so that, on quitting it, the eye for a short time considers every other building as awry.

Though some of the architectural details of the interior of the cathedral are open to criticism, yet the effect is very impressive; and the building contains a profusion of works of art of the highest merit.

In the Campo Santo we directed our attention solely to the frescos. Never before was I made acquainted with wonders that conveyed to the mind such elevated ideas of the art of painting. Perhaps the story of Abraham, by Benozzo Gozzoli, is as finely told as any. The countenance of the Patriarch, after receiving the divine command to sacrifice his son, is fraught with an expression of obedience, with something of a dignified surprise at the importance of the message, thus almost carrying out Abraham's character as a Prophet. Equally admirable is the fresco of the cultivation of the vine, and the drunkenness of Noah. In the fresco of the last Judgment by Orgagna there is marvellous power and dignity; and the division of the Inferno into several distinct and separate chambers of horror, resembles the awful reiteration which we find in scripture of the words “ where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” Part of another fresco entitled “the Triumph of Death," also by Orgagna, is a perfect illustration of the following lines in one of Wordsworth's finest sonnets

“Methought I saw the footsteps of a throne!
Which mists and vapours from mine eyes did shroud-
Nor view of whom did sit thereon allowed ;
But all the steps and ground about were strown
With sights the ruefullest that flesh and bone
Ever put on; a miserable crowd,
Sick, hale, old, young, who cried before that cloud,
• Thou art our King, O Death, to thee we groan !'”

The fresco of the Universe by Pietro Orvieto, is thus represented. A solemn figure of the Creator holds, in one vast sphere, the concentric spheres of the earth, water, fire, the moon, the sun, and the zodiac; and those of the nine orders of angelic natures. The following Sonnet, and the succeeding couplet, were once legible beneath.

Voi che avvisate questa dipintura
Di Dio pietoso, sommo Creatore,
Lo qual fe' tutte cose con amore,
Pesate, numerate, ed in misura.
In nove grade angelica natura

In ello empirio ciel pien di splendore,
Colui che non si muove ed è motore
Ciascuna cosa fece buona e pura.
Levate gli occhi del vostro intelletto:
Considerate quanto è ordinato
Lo mondo universale ; e con affetto
Lodate lui che l'ha sì ben creato :
Pensate di passare a tal diletto
Tra gli Angeli dove è ciascun beato.

Per questo mondo si vede la gloria,
Lo basso, e'l mezzo, e l'alto in questa storia.*

In the Baptistery, the carved pulpit, the font, and the sound of the harmonious echo, are the chief objects of attraction.

Copied from the work published by Molini on the frescos of the Campo Santo of Pisa.




ERE, on bronze gates, where scriptural groupings

throng, Ghiberti! Thou hast failed not to express Avenging Judith's awful loveliness; And Miriam's utterance of triumphal song, Gates not unworthy Paradise, though sprung Of mortal mould. Through these, in decent grace, The wives of Florence with their infants pace, And towards the Font in silence glide along. On high, the Dome's mosaic, as with the voice Of Revelation, doth unfold its plan By Symbols figured in its gorgeous span; And holy men, with upturned gaze, rejoice To read these words, enscrolled 'midst wreathing



Florence, December, 1843.

« PředchozíPokračovat »