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Foreign Correspondence

Foreign Correspondence image
Parent Issue
Day
21
Month
February
Year
1873
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

1 '. Rome, Dec. G, 1872. FRIEND PüXD: Our lust letter had a strong flavor of ( churches, though theology was , ly omitted. But it seeined ïmpossible to . notice tbe old city of Veoica proporly , without speaking of its ehurehes, in } which so much of its Art is stored. - ( Thore is, however, one collection which, j asido frm the Ducal palace, forma the only compreheusive gallery oí' art in ( Venice - it is the Academy of Fiue Arts. , Standing at the Southern end of the iron bridge aeross the Grand Canal over which } we pussed daily, its facade, by the great ( architect Palladio, was always before us , as we descended the long flight of steps ( from the bridge. lts front, at the left of ] the entrance, bears a ñne and very j cient bas relief Madonna, and a colossal , lion couches along the central portion of ( the pedimont, upon which sits the - blematie figure of Justiee. The ( tion is quite extensive, embracing ings, original drawings, piaster casts, ( marbles and bronzes, and soine rare ( cimens of' oarving in wood. Anything . but a very briof description of some of these interesting objects would be . pussible in the limits of a letter. The . entrance passage, corridor and vestibuel contain some fine monuments, marbles, busts, and statues, and two frescoes by Paul Veronese, transferred from the Gregorian palace with the walls on which they were paiuted, ai e on this account rendered doublé interesting. The first hall is that of ancient paintings. These are all upon a gold background, and generally painted as altarpieces for various nionasteries - frotu which the galleries of Europe have received some of their finest j)ictures. In thosu, early days the rcligious element combined with the wealth concentrated in the ehurchas to encourago Art by this beauLilul form of decoration. And in the rivalry ef ehurehes to possess the iin est frescoes and paintings, and the ainbition of artists to outdo each other, some of the finest creations of Art were produoed. We iirst saw these old pictures upon a gold ground in the chapel of St. Maurice at Nuremburg (that is, in considerable numbers), and our first impressions did not incline us to study them with niuch pleasure, but greater ty, instead of "breeding contoinpt", has ( evuluped wond erf ui beauty in many of aem, espeeially in features and finish. 'here is, howover, seldom much action or 1 i'cedom of position in them, and a ,ain angularity and primness generally ( jervades the the whole. , The second room, a fine, spacious hall, i vith lofty and lieh eeiling, among its 1 ,reasures bas that wonderful production 1 f genius, " The Assumption," by Titian. ( t would seem impossible that the most i unskillful observer coilld stand before bis masterpiece without a profound : Qg of its grand conception and : ons beauty of coloring. Thia ha3 never jcen oulled his best work, but of his larger compositions none of the many we lave soon creates a deeper inipression. - lis " Martyrdom of St. Peter," regarded enorally as the greatest work of his encil, is unfortunately lost ; but we saw an eurly copy, whioh bas been presented to the "S S. Giovani e Paulo," and the great merit of that picture must have eonsisted in the terrino ferocity of' the assassin, the appealing attitude and help.essuoss of the martyr, together with the aecessories of the giant tree in the foreground and gloomy wood around. Sucb a pioture may be, to tlie art critic, "a tbing of beauty," but it is the perfeetion of the artist's skill which convej's the pleaeure. Whilo in a pioture like "The Assuniption" there is something nobler than admiration exoited in the beholder; he is elevated and enohained by the spirit of the artist's conception rather than his kill ; the luttel' of course combmiug in n the grand effect md aidiug it, doubtkss, while the thcrae itself has nothing liat excites disagreeable emotioas. This oom contains, also, the historicully vuluiblc piotures of this great artist, "ïhe Issumption," his carliest work, not conaining even a rudiuaentury suggestion of ■The Assuirption" of his later years, and ' The Entombuieut," bis last work, on ,vhich, at the time of his dcath, at the ;reat age of 99 years, ha was ongaged. - The latter was left unfinished, and 'was ioiui)letud by Palma Giovani. It would oe unreasonable to expect that the skill'ul hand should still preservo "its cunïing" and the head bo as fruitful in design as in their prime, yet it is not withuut a feuling of deep and respectful admiration that we look upon this sombro [jicture and search in vain few that coloring for which in earlicr days the veneiable artist had been unsurpassable. This unconquerabie spirit of industry and a very j)rotracted life enabled Titian to do an immense amount of work. 500 works trom his hand are known and authenticated,and a very strikiiiKfact is narrated, íUustrative oí' bis unabatod oonfideneo in himself to the very last. A picture of bis late years hangs in the oburch of 8. Salvador - an " Aununciatioii." Kome one had kindly mentioned to him that this work had been thought by soine not to bo quite worthy of bis great ieputation, whereupoii he immediately wrote upon it, a3 if for tbis offspring of bis oíd age he bad as great uff'ection as for tbose of his prime, " TUianiis fecit, FECIX." In tbis room, also, is ono of the great pinturea of Georgione, wbose early death at only tliirty-fo'ir did not prevent him from leaving the influence of bis geniu upon bis age, and dïviding, even witl Titian, Ibe iinpress wbich master spirit ever mako upon their sucoessors. " Th Tempest Stilled by St. Mark" bas been munh adinired, especially the figuro o I the tbrce rowers whose nudo bodies show in their attitudes and swelling muscles I the breathing instincts of j tion. " Thé Miracle oí St. Mark," by Tintoretto, is a work most striking in its jffect, becauso of the proimiience giveu to the Saint, who appears hovering horisontally over the crowd below, as if just lescended fiom the highcr realms. Portraits of tho ino:-t eminent Venetian painters are introduced in the ovals of the ctiling, and the eutire ceiling is most riohly carved and gilded, the central jompartment being filled with a painting by Paul Veronesc. The third hall contains a Virgin and Child, by Giovani Bollini, who is almost s celebrated for big Madonnas as Kaphael; also St. John the Baptist, surroundcd by Poter, Mark, Paul, and Jer3ine, by Cima Giovanni Battista, and a 'Christ in the Tomb," by Lotto Lorenzo_ ill fine pietures. The ceiling is frescoed by Tintoretto, thu principal compai-tment having tbr its subject " The Prodigal Sou." [n the fourth hall are valuable oriRinal lrawings by Eaphael, Leonardo de Vinci, Michael Angelo, and others.deeply interssting as the cvude foreshadowings of thoso great works which followed. In in urn is preserved the right hand of Canova. Tbis is not the only instance we have met of these "diajecta tnerribra" of tho great men of Europe. In the tifth, sixth, and soventh rooms are arrangfd the paintings and carvings in wood, ebony statues, tajjestry, vases, &(., preseuted to the academy by Count Uontarini, in 18-13, in whose palace, by the svivy, the iinghsli Uhurcü service is regularly held every Sabbath. Of this princely donation there are about two hundred paintings, which, besides the two rooms spocified, fill the walls ot' the largo ad. joining unmimberod hall. The sRventli hall, which has to be exarainod through mi intervening glass partition, is tho receptacle of twolve unn chairs of obony and boxwood, with elabórate carvings and upholstered witli tapestry, ebony statues of Ethiopians, Japan vasos, niño half-size fluaires in ebony oarymg vases, two group=s of wood-earving, allegorical, of the seasons, &o., In the next room are portraits by Holbein, always good, and the well-known names of Vandyke, Perugino, Ostado, Mantigua and others invite to admiration or criticism, and it is often that tho eye seeks in vain to discover the traces of a great artist's skill. So:ne of the pictures are spnrious, perhaps ; some aro of a date anterior to tho period of greatest excellence, iiid some aro unfinished or rudo sketches; ret every gallury is iksirous of possessing he groat origináis, be they never so unvprthy. In all tlii-ro aro twenty rooms hus filled with this fine collection under ;he general name of the "Academy of i Fiue Arts," the property of the city ind open to all, the only fees being en:irely optional with the visitor. Some of ;he best sjjecimens of the Venetiün school if painting areon its walls, though many are also there of vory little valuu. - Titian appoars as a painter of portraits ,n which departinent he is really inimitible. Of the many we have seen all are af that exquisito style which makes them cnchaiii tho attentiou as objects of real beauty. In the sixtoenth hall are arranged those pictures which, from their great sizo require the accessories of ampio space and favorable lighl. Hure we find two fine Works by Gentilo, the brothor of Giuvani Bellini. Oao reprosents a "Miracle of the ïïoly Cross." A piece of the true cross having tallen during a procession, into the Grand Canal, numerous t, ithful believers at onea plunged into the water for its recovery, and thp rescue is effected by one of the noble Vendraminfamily. The salient features of this legend are iiaely produced in this very larga picture. The other embodies, iu & similar happy niauner and on an equally magniiicont scale, another legend of tho cross. In 1-196 a procession ou St. Mark's day was passing the Piazza wit 11 the Holy Cross carried by the frat.urnity of St. rata, when it chanced tbat a boy who had been seriously injuied upou tho head by íiilling against a column in the city ot' Brescia came into tho square with lns father. As the procession was passing the parent made a solemn vow, and the vory next day the boy was completely cured. The groat crowd asseinbled on these two occasions, in all their motley character, combined with tho display of gorgcous proeessions, gave gieat scope to the peculiar excellence of this painter. - Of the ïnany reiuaining pictures menïon of only ono other can be made withut too great space being occupied. The lainting referred to is in the twentieth ïall, and is entitled "A Sketch,'' by the er modest artist Albano Tomacelli. It reprosents the widosv of Doge t'oseari refusing to give her husband's body to thu Ambassadors of the Símate, who had requested, it in order to givo it an honorable burial at tho expense of tho State. The attitude of tlie noble vidow as she half turns from her lone watch by the silent form of the persecuted vet brave old Doge, and with sad impatience waves thuin iway with their requost, that to her savors so much of too tardy justice, if not of idle mockery, is so touohingly cxpressive tbat we fcel our whole sympatUies moving usin nsistaiice totkeshameful ooldheartodness tbat flrst killed with mistreatiuent, and then with heartless fonnality askedto givo porapous burial to the noble deap. Tbo pieture is very simplo in its details; aroom in the palaee with a bed ou which is the recumbent body of the Doge ; in the foroground, seated alone at a tablo and turning partially about, as if she had heard the request, without rising and without fairly looking toward the Ambassadors, who stand near the toor behind her, sho Mema giving the dismayed applicauta a muto but crushing reply with the meroly baokward m ition of her hand. TÜerfl avu few places more gratifying for (he timo to visit t'ian these European galleries and art collections, yet it is f surprising liow very few of these ful pictures remain distinetlyin the ] ory, unless prcviously well known 1 through the medium of prints; and I cali the mysteries of an elabórate design i iu delicate wood-earviug or bronze 1 lief is generally still more difficult. Yet . their influenco may be said to be none 1 tin: lesa Bestlietioally valuable upon that i clas3 of minds which readily harmonizo i with object of beauty. To that other class wbü lose all delight in the glories of i coloring and grandeur in design, simply : because tone undntped figure is visible in the group below or among the beautiful cherubs above, it is probable or at li;ast it m7 be hoped their excessively refined instinttü will counteract the strung tendenciesof their grossernatures. No city on the continent, uniess it be Romp, lias liad any moro splendid array of great artists, native and foreign, in its service, than Venice. But now, as the timo approaches for our departuro from this interesting place we may safely say that whilo we would not care to maleo a permanent residence whero tho past so much Jirodominatus over the present, yet from none of the great cities we may visit do we expect to carry away more lasting and distiuct impressiona, nor aboutany will recülleetion more fondly linger in ears to come. There are some characteiistics about Venice which have not been adverted to becauso of the method adopted, to describe more prominent features. Somo of ;nesu muy ue nastuy notiooa in tuese .ast lines on tho Quasn ot' tho Adnatio. A.llVenice, to tho eye of the stranger, appears to be a vast provisión and cooking shop. Tut) streets are very narrow, and and on either sideof those most frequeuted; and in faut in noarly every nook and corner, coast -int cooking is Cánrriéd on, ot pumpkin, potatoas, and numborloss varieïics of ñsh, polenta, poultry, and sausage. On the street corners, on the bridgus, and at ohurch doors, chestuuts are alwiiys in process of boiling or roasting, and au erapty dry-goods box set on end is readily improvised into a stand for the sale of baked pumpkin of the variaties among us denominatod as sweet. These cooked edibles with their savory odors permeate all the alleys, and hawkers of both cooked and uncooked ñsh, crabs, ifcc, are met with everywhere, carrying everything in flat baskets on their heads. To say that these sights are ajpetising would be soarcely truthful. Indeed we often wondered how it was possible that those squirmy, transluceut little fiühcs, not exoeeding two inches in length, could be eaten at all; and not loss straüge did it appear that thoso little crimsou, thousandlegged Otaba, averaging al)out one inch or less in diameter, could be made attractive to the palute. - Even the pumpkin seemed generally to be eaten from the hand, without any condiuipiits. As for the chestnuts, we havu learned to "do as the Komans do." The quantitios of these things deroured is really marvelous, and eau only be satisfactorily aocounted for on the belief that ïnyriads of the pooror classes in Venice depend entirely upon this "haDd to mouth" stylü of living, eating on the streets and doinglittiü or no eating or cooking at homo. Boggars are multitudinoug and omnipresont, especially abont ill public places, churches, promenades, &o., but it is only just to this class of citizens to say that they aro civil, and even if at times importúnate are neither rude nor noisy. It was often amusing to meet small boys who would leave their play and reach forth tho hand for a centime, and being refused would smilo aa if it was a good joke even if they did faii. In fact, in the case of tboboys gonerally, it appeared as if they took up begging froin the sheer impulso of traditional habit or tha force of imitation, and that it was a matter of indifl'erence whether they succeedod or not. Somo of these littlo mendicants wero very bright-looking, and even (ful, with thoirdark oyes shining through ' tho surrounding dirt. We havo not i'ound the peoplo of Italy, thus far, so dark coroplexioned or ferocious-looking as wo had anticipated. Exccpt in the caso of tho very lowest classes, the infiuenco of a southorn oliiae is only noticeablo in tho prevailing dark and very bright cyos, dark hair, and an absence of those ruddy flesh tints which are only fouud in the more invigorating North. - Oi' Venetian high lite strangers seo scarcely anything, there being no such thing as drives in the city, and promonailing or even góndola riding not having any such regularity ainong this class as to give opportunity tor observations. Iu fact it is only in tho theaters, and sometimos not oven therè, that represontatives from all classes may bo seen. It seems to be understood that in social lito the Venetians are extremely quiet and secluded. The promenading on the Piazza is done prineipally by the strengere; the gentleniiin and feuiiniuo representative from thu middle and more activo business clasres, interminglüd with pólice and milita ry. We have, of course, formed the quuintance of our venerable Consul and his estimable lady. The dutits of this consular station are not, in general, ardiious, nor very complicatod, sinco very little Ameriesn shipping iinds its way so i'ar up the A'lriatic. The present representative here, Mr. Harris, is a citizen of Philadelphia, aud only here about eighteen months. He is quito far advaneed in j-ears and ratber feeble, but he hnd an excellent aid in bis inoro active and sprightly wifo, and their genial welcome to such Amerioans as stop at Venico must inake tliem nuinorous friends. Their expenses somewhat exeeed their salary, though living in a quiet and unpretending style. In order to expedito our baggage, in the chenpest but slowcst way, to Florence, we took two trunks in a góndola one day, and, acoompanied by our landady as interproter, went to the depots i md again went through the tediotis and ( lifficult procesa oí gotting everythiug in ] proper shape for safety. These itiUian l iavo such a clumsy way of inanaging tbat it puts a strangcr entirely at the ■ meroy of tho hundrcds wlio stand about the depots to pluok tho helpless victim. i : N'o officer lii'ts or doea anything beyond the expresa liño of bis duties. IIo does Tot oven interest himseli to .givo information. The consequeneo is that the itranger, with apparent calmness, givos ' 3ver hia ohecka or his luggage as the l-uüp inaj' bo to somo ever-ieady agent, and, s a mere looker-on, stands by to sign unintelliglble papers if his agont says so, md to jjay charges when required. AU Loc9 on sinoothly enough and also eoricctly enough until overything is cono and the hour of settlement with the agent himself bas arrivcd. Ilis charge is generally exorbitant, and it is not ui wavs eai-y to niake it right. But at last tho day of departuro lias come, and, for the last time, very eaily One plfiusant November morriing we glido along tho quint Ciiuals, by tho wido water gates into faded oid palaces, beneath the beautiful bridges, and land, for the last time, on tiie wharves of Venice, in front of the depot whcre, with curious interest, ono tnonth befóte we had stepped for the first time into the storied góndola. Stiange old city, not soon to be forgotten ! (iood-by to Yenice. Ever yours,

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Subjects
Old News
Michigan Argus