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this picture. It is a capital performance, inferior to none of his other works.
Susannah and the Elders, by Ludovico Caracci, is, in point of colouring and design, one of the finest pictures in this Gallery ; but, as to its characteristic expression, I cannot help differing in opinion with one whom I willingly allow to be almost always right on these subjects. The Elders are all that they need be; but in the principal figure, the Susannah, I can discover no expression beyond that of the most womanly softness, sweetness, and beauty. The action and attitude indicate a modest and fearful shrinking into herself ; but the look conveys nothing of this. The truth is, the painter had an ideal of feminine loveliness in his thoughts, which he determined to realize on this occasion ; and he could not bring himself to impair this by any expression whatever of adventitious passion. This is one of the most lovely female forms and faces that ever was painted; but it is nothing more.
The Christ in the Garden, by Coreggio, I shall pass over almost unnoticed. It is a celebrated picture, and I dare not call in question the opinion of the world on a point of this kind. But I cannot express an admiration that I do not feel; and, perhaps, the idea I attach to the power of Coreggio's pencil is such as to prevent me from looking on this picture with the same eyes that I might if it were the work of another, or passed under another name.
Neither do I think very highly of Annibal Caracci's St. John in the Wilderness. The colouring is rich and fine, and there is a grandeur and force of style about the landscape part of it; but I doubt if the drawing of the figure is correct; and the expression is not very intelligible.
The Titians are not the most striking or perfect pictures in this col. lection. There are three; Venus and Adonis, Ganymede, anda Concert. The Venus and Adonis is one of several repetitions of this subject, and I think the finest of three that I have seen, both as to colouring and character. The flood of voluptuous expression that seems to pour from the back of the Venus, and the essence of it that is concentred in her eager look, are very fine; and the intent and exclusive interest that the youthful hunter takes in his projected sport is no less so; the attitudes of both are admirably illustrative of these feelings respectively. In the Ganymede there is great grandeur of expression in the black outspread wings and eager beak of the eagle that is bearing the boy aloft; and the look of the captive is very intense and fine. But the Concert or Music Piece is perhaps more characteristic of Titian's style and power than either of the other pictures. It is light and sketchy in its execution, but full of life, spirit, and effect. For the ear of the imagination this picture has a voice. It “ pipes to the spirit ditties of no tone.” It is “ most musical.” The boy in the right-hand corner is the mouth-picce of the picture; it is he alone that is in the act of singing; the others are playing, or waiting to catch the moment when it shall be their turn to join in. The girl in the left corner, who is looking out of the picture, seems to be a listener only.
There are two very fine Rubens here. One of them, The Rape of the Sabines, is a splendid specimen of this artist's colouring. It is one wide
Alush of various yet harmonious sweetness. Its effect on the eye is like that of a rich harmony on the ear. That appearance of motion, too, in the production of which Rubens so much excelled, is very remarkable in this picture. The different actions seem as it were going on ; we feel as if we were watching their progress, not merely observing their present state. The costume of the females, consisting of the silks and satins of Rubens's own time, are sufficiently open to criticism; and no doubt they spoil the general effect of the picture, as a work of art appealing to the imagination as well as the senses. But if we would enjoy the operations of genius, we must submit to the freaks in which it will sometimes indulge itself. If Rubens had been compelled to deny himself the use of this anachronism, he would probably not have painted the picture at all; and should we have been better off then ?--Assuredly not. If we cannot accept it as a true and classical representation of the scene that it bears the name of, let us receive it as an appeal to the senses alone-and be content. The rich harmony of its colouring, and the spirit of motion that every where pervades it, make it as good a thing to look upon as a bed of garden-flowers blown about by the wind.
I cannot but think that the other picture by this artist is not much more consistent than the above in costume, without being so fine a piece of colouring, or any thing like so rich a composition.
Let us turn now to what is, as a single picture, perhaps, the chief pride and ornament of this collection : I mean, The Raising of Lazarus, by Sebastian del Piombo. This must not only be regarded as the finest work of the master, but as capable of bearing a comparison with the very finest works of other masters of still more distinguished reputation. The vigour and spirit of the design is worthy of Michael Angelo; and perhaps this it is which has given rise to the opinion that he actually did design it-for I believe there are no very satisfactory proofs as to the fact. The figure of Lazarus, in particular, is a perfect and admirable example of the great style, not only in design, but in colouring and expression. The bodily action is that of bursting and escaping from the grave-cloths that bind his limbs—so that every muscle of the frame is in action ; and the expression is made up of the wonder and awe that may be supposed to take possession of his mind on waking from the sleep of death, mingled with impatience at finding himself thus imprisoned in the apparel of the tomb. The female figure in the centre (Mary, the sister of Lazarus) is also exceedingly intense and poetical. Solemn wonder and eager anxiety share her fine uplifted countenance between them; but there is no weakness, or incredulity, or fear. Next to these two, the most striking objects are an old man kneeling behind the Saviour—a fine intellectual profile in the back-ground, in a style exactly similar to that of the female figure I have noticed above-and a most extraordinary head immediately behind the Saviour's, and seemingly intended to contrast with that. The draperies in this picture are in the same grand style as the figures, and they include several patches of white in different parts, which give a fine sepulchral effect to the scene; which effect is aided by the solemn gloom that pervades the whole of the background, the sky, &c. Expression-depth and unity of expression, and grandeur of general effect, seem to be the characteristics of this noble composition. In the former of these respects, it
may, perhaps, claim to rank with some of Raphael's very finest works ; and certainly, for solemn grandeur of effect, it is surpassed by none.
The only other pictures I shall notice at any length are the Claudes; which, after all, form the grand staple of this collection. And how shall I contrive to speak of these in words that shall express my feelings about them, and yet keep within those sober and subdued limits provided for such occasions ?—But I write for those who have either seen these pictures, or intend to see them; and who have also seen enough of Nature to be capable of loving her in and through them : so that I need not fear. There are no less than five of these exquisite works; four of which are not only first-rate, but, as far as my experience extends, the four finest works of their author. I do not envy the judgment of those who can, after a due deliberation on the subject, determine which of these four pictures is the best. It seems to me a kind of impertinence in any one to attempt this—unless it be a picturedealer. As some one has said of the Scotch Novels, that is the best which happens to be before you. Three of these pictures bear a striking resemblance to each other in subject, style, and general effect; being all views of some ideal sea-port, with classical buildings on each side, the sea occupying the whole of the centre, and stretching away into the dim distance, with the sun shining full upon it from near the horizon, and ships at anchor, with their bare masts shooting up into the kindling sky, and crossing the light so as to relieve its otherwise too brilliant effect. The fourth is a lovely expanse of country, bounded by scarcely visible hills ; with a broad glassy water in the centre, to which the effect of motion is given by breaking it all across by a slight fall, and by permitting the eye to trace its source up into the beautiful hills that occupy the left side of the picture : this imaginary effect of motion, and consequently of coolness and freshness, is completed by a mill which is placed in the fore-ground. No one equalled Claude for the unity of expression that he contrived to preserve in his pictures. If this mill had been any thing but precisely what it is, it would have ruined the effect of the scene, standing so conspicuously as it does in the centre: But the mill is formed out of what has been the ruin of some classical temple;. and to correspond with this, and continue its effect throughout the scene, ruined arches and broken columns are scattered about in the distance here and there, but so dimly seeni as scarcely to create a consciousness of their presence: they act, and are intended to act, on the imagination alone. It strikes me that these kind of scenes, when painted by Claude in his best manner, bear exactly that kind of resemblance to similar scenes in Nature, which the echo of a musical sound bears to the sound itself; and that they affect us in a similar manner: they have the same exact truth of intonation, if I may use the phrase, added to the same dim, distant, aërial, impalpable effect. Though I think it an impertinence to inquire which is the best of these delicious works, yet there is no harm in determining which one would like best to be the possessor of. And even this would be a puzzling question to decide on, if one actually had the choice. For my own part, I should not choose either of the celebrated Altieri pictures the Landscape with the Mill, and the Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba ; nor the Embarkation of St. Ursula and the Virgins—which is, I believe, the most general favourite, and is, indeed, beautiful beyond expression. I should pitch upon the one that hangs in the left corner of the inner room,“ making a sunshine in a shady place.” And yet, without very well knowing why, unless it be that it pours from every part of it a flood of light and warmth into the very depths of the heart; at once soothing the passions of earth to an unearthly stillness, while it makes the blood seem to dance and sparkle within us to the music of its dancing and sparkling waters. To stand before that picture, is to be happy, whatever one's lot may be; and to leave it, is to leave looking into the very heart and soul of Nature.
That I may not pass over any pictures of the old masters in this choicest of all collections, I will mention that there are two capital landscapes by Gaspar Poussin, one of which in particular (The Sacrifice of Isaac) possesses all his truth, purity, and richness of effect; a portrait of Philip IV. of Spain and his Queen, by Velasquez, which might be mistaken for Vandyke; one picture by Vandyke himself, of w!
there is an exact repetition by Rubens, which latter has been engraved-unless the engraving has been made from this very picture, and Rubens's name attached to it; a landscape by Cuyp; and finally, an admirable portrait, by Raphael, of Pope Julius II.-I regret being obliged to pass over these capital productions (for they are all first-rate, particularly the last) by merely naming them; but my limits compel me to bring this paper to a close. Before doing which, if I mention Wilkie's “ Alehouse Door," it must be less to admire its miraculous truth, than to express a half-regret at finding it here, among these high and solemn effusions of the mighty dead. There is a place, as well as
a time,” for all things; and this is not the place for a work, the merit of which (great as it is) depends solely on its developing the lowest and least ideal of the passions, habits, and accidents to which our nature is subject.—I cannot conclude without adding, that the above objection is in no degree applicable to Hogarth's admirable series of The Marriage à la Mode, which are also here, but which it is not part of my plan to notice in detail. Different as these are in object and character from those works of the old masters which I have described, they are no less intellectual than the latter, and scarcely less ideal.
THE GENIUS OF SPAIN.
Methought a Giant figure did appear
Sunburnt and rough-he on his limbs did wear
Yon braggart threats," quoth he in accents bold :
Wither'd such hosts, when mightier Captains led :
Cæsar, Napoleon, ill with me have sped!
Stand England firm, shall 'gainst the World make head."
NAPOLEON'S MEMOIRS, AND LAS CASES' JOURNAL.* The very titles of these works supersede the necessity for stating that they are deeply interesting and important. Napoleon now speaks for himself, and speaks directly, though not in the first person. What we have hitherto had in the shape of narratives of his life, or descriptions of his character, may, in some instances, have been authorized by himself; but the seal of his sanction and authority has never been so distinctly stamped on any former work. Here we peruse what has been printed from MSS. written from his own dictation and corrected by his own hand:a volume of “ Memoirs,” dictated to General Gourgaud, and a volume of “ Historical Miscellanies," dictated to the Count de Montholon, present us with the most momentous elements of history, delivered, and commented upon, by the most illustrious actor in the historic scene. The other work, “ Las Cases' Journal,” &c. contains a great many records of Napoleon's conversations about political and military events; but what may be called the public history of Napoleon is, upon the whole, more systematically digested in the other publications. Las Cases' book, however, intermingles matter which we believe will be more attractive to the bulk of readers, namely, the personal and private history of the great individual whom our author, of course, knew much more intimately, than either of the English writers who have given us anecdotes of the voyage to St. Helena and of Napoleon's captivity on the rock. As to pure impartiality and perfect credibility, it may be alleged that persons sharing in Napoleon's sufferings were still farther removed from the chance of exhibiting those qualities in their testimony, than even those Englishmen whom the captive fascinated to become his personal admirers. It behoves us, however, to listen to the testimony, such as it is, and then to make our own calculation of the consistency or the improbability of facts alleged and submitted to us. Las Cases' account is peculiarly interesting, because it carries us back to events in Napoleon's last catastrophe preceding the voyage and exile: namely, to his arrival in Paris, when he entered covered with dust from the battle of Wa. terloo. This writer accordingly supplies a sort of first act to the drama of our modern Prometheus, and he is himself a person in the tragic scene. Whatever curiosity the public may now cherish respecting Napoleon, if it should be an useless feeling of interest, it cannot be a pernicious one. The constitutions of Englishmen are not likely to be inoculated with any dangerous enthusiasm for a dead hero whose character, whether from choice or necessity, was despotic. If our country should ever be pregnant with a hero fated to rule her destinies, she is not likely to have any longings of imagination that shall impress his exact features on the glorious bantling. Admirers among us he, no doubt, has, and some persons think them dangerous and insidious:-certainly they are insidious, for they have so marvellously
* " Memoirs of the History of France during the reign of Napoleon, dictated by the Emperor at Saint Helena to the Generals who shared his captivity; and published from the Original Manuscripts corrected by himself.”—Volume 1. dictated to General Gourgaud, accompanied by a First Volume of Historical Miscellanies, dictated to the Count de Montholon.
" Mémorial de Sainte Hélène-Journal of the Private Life and Conversations of the Emperor Napoleon at St. Helena."--Parts I. and II.