THE MAGIC LAND
AUTHOR OF "THE FLORENCE OF LANDOR," "THE LAND OF ENCHANTMENT," "THE WORLD BEAUTIFUL," ETC.
"And, under many a yellow star, We dropped into the Magic Land!"
Illustrated from Photographs
BOSTON LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY 1907
BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY.
All rights reserved
Published November, 1907
THE GRIFFITH-STILLINGS PRESS, BOSTON, U.S.A.
(MRS. FRANKLIN SIMMONS)
WHOSE EARTHLY FORM REPOSES IN THE BEAUTIFUL ROMAN CEMETERY, WHERE POETIC ASSOCIATIONS WITH KEATS AND SHELLEY HAUNT THE AIR,—UNDER THE SCULPTURED "ANGEL OF THE RESURRECTION," WITH ITS MAJESTIC SYMBOLISM OF THE TRIUMPH OF IMMORTALITY,—BUT WHOSE RADIANT PRESENCE STILL TRANSFIGURES THE LIFE THAT HELD HER IN IMMORTAL DEVOTION,— THESE PAGES ARE INSCRIBED,
WITH THE UNFORGETTING LOVE OF
ROME, ITALY, May Days, 1907.
"Nor Life is ever lord of Death, And Love can never lose its own."
That Florence, the "Flower City," receives only a passing allusion in this record of various impressions that gleam and glow through the days after several visits to the Magic Land, is due to the fact that in a previous volume by the writer—one entitled "The Florence of Landor"—the lovely Tuscan town with its art, its ineffable beauty, and its choice social life, formed the subject matter of that volume. Any attempt to portray Florence in the present book would savor only of the repetition of loves and enthusiasms already recorded in the previous work in which Walter Savage Landor formed the central figure. For that reason no mention of Florence, beyond some mere allusion, is attempted in these pages, which only aim to present certain fragmentary impressions of various sojourns in Italy, refracted through the prism of memory. Whatever inconveniences or discomfort attend the traveller swiftly fade, and leave to him only the precious heritage of resplendent sunset skies, of poetic association, of artistic beauty. In spirit he is again lingering through long afternoons in St. Peter's till the golden light through the far windows of the tribune is merged into the dusk of twilight in which the vast monumental groups gleam wraith-like. Again he is ascending the magnificent Scala Regia, and lingering in the Raphael Stanze, or in the wonderful sculpture galleries of the Vatican, or sauntering in the sunshine on the Palatine. In memory he is again spellbound by ancient and mediaeval art. In the line of modern sculpture the work of Franklin Simmons in Rome is a feature of Italy that haunts the imagination. No lover of beauty would willingly miss his great studios in the Via San Nicolo da Tolentino, with their wealth of ideal creations that contribute new interest to the most divine of all the arts.
"The world of art is an ideal world,— The world I love, and that I fain would live in; So speak to me of artists and of art, Of all the painters, sculptors, and musicians That now illustrate Rome."
The mystic charm of the pilgrimage to Assisi; the romance that reflects itself in the violet seas and flaming splendors of the sky on the shores of Ischia and Capri; the buried treasures of Amalfi; the magnetic impressiveness of the Eternal City,—all these enter into life as new forces to build and shape the future into undreamed-of destinies.
THE BRUNSWICK, BOSTON, October Days, 1907.
I THE PERIOD OF MODERN ART IN ROME 3
II SOCIAL LIFE IN THE ETERNAL CITY 127
III DAY-DREAMS IN NAPLES, AMALFI, AND CAPRI 227
IV A PAGE DE CONTI FROM ISCHIA 281
V VOICES OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI 341
VI THE GLORY OF A VENETIAN JUNE 389
VII THE MAGIC LAND 423
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Temple, Taormina Frontispiece in Photogravure
Angel, Church of San Andrea delle Fratte, Rome Page 12
Detail from the Stuart Monument, St. Peter's, Rome " 24
Tomb of Clement XIII, St. Peter's, Rome " 32
"The Genius of Death," Detail from the Tomb of Clement XIII, St. Peter's, Rome " 43
"La Fortuna," Accademia di San Luca, Rome " 47
Spanish Steps, Piazza Trinita dei Monti, Rome " 72
Tomb of Pio Nono, San Lorenzo (Fuori le Mura) Rome " 75
"The Dance of the Pleiades" " 92
"Grief and History," Detail from Naval Monument, Washington " 105
"The Genius of Progress Leading the Nations" " 108
"Mother of Moses" " 112
"Valley Forge" " 116
La Pieta, St. Peter's, Rome " 120
Villa Medici, Rome " 134
Entrance to Villa Pamphilia-Doria, Rome " 159
Statue of Christ, Ancient Church of San Martina, Rome " 193
Castel San Angelo and St. Peter's, Rome " 204
Porta San Paola, Pyramid of Caius Cestius, Rome " 216
Castel Sant'Elmo, Naples " 231
Ancient Temple, Baiae " 241
Ischia, from the Sea " 282
La Rocca, Ischia " 294
Castello di Alfonso, Ischia " 306
Detail from "Parnassus," Raphael Stanze, Palazzo Vaticano, Rome " 311
Vittoria Colonna, Galleria Buonarroti, Florence " 320
San Francescan Convent-Church, Assisi " 346
St. Francis d'Assisi, The Duomo, Assisi " 366
Santa Chiara, The Duomo, Assisi " 375
Baiae and Ischia, from Camaldoli " 382
Ruins of the Greek Theatre, Taormina, Sicily " 429
Ponte Vecchio, Florence " 434
Campo Santo, Genoa " 453
"Rest we content if whispers from the stars In wafting of the incalculable wind Come blown at midnight through our prison-bars."
THE MAGIC LAND
By woodland belt, by ocean bar, The full south breeze our forehead fanned; And, under many a yellow star, We dropped into the Magic Land.
* * * * *
We heard, far-off, the siren's song; We caught the gleam of sea-maids' hair; The glimmering isles and rocks among We moved through sparkling purple air.
Then Morning rose, and smote from far Her elfin harps o'er land and sea; And woodland belt, and ocean bar To one sweet note sighed—"Italy!"
ITALY, THE MAGIC LAND
THE PERIOD OF MODERN ART IN ROME
But ah, that spring should vanish with the Rose! That youth's sweet-scented manuscript should close? The nightingale that in the branches sang, Oh, where and whither flown again,—who knows?
ROME, as the picturesque city of the Popes in the middle years of the nineteenth century, was resplendent in local color. It was the Rome of sunny winters; the Rome of gay excursions over that haunted sea of the Campagna to pictorial points in the Alban and Sabine hills; the Rome of young artist life, which organized impromptu festas with Arcadian freedom, and utilized the shadow or the shelter of ruined temples or tombs in which to spread its picnic lunches and bring the glow of simple, friendly intercourse into the romantic lights of the poetic, historic, or tragic past. There were splendid Catholic processions and ceremonials that seemed organized as a part of the stage scenery that ensconced itself, also, with the nonchalance of easy possession, in the vast salons of historic palaces where tapestried walls and richly painted ceilings, arched high overhead, with statues dimly seen in niches here and there, and the bust of some crowned Antoninus, or radiant Juno, gleaming from a shadowy corner, all made up the mise-en-scene of familiar evenings. There were lingering hours in the gardens of the Villa Medici into whose shades one strolled by that beguiling path along the parapet on Monte Pincio, through the beautiful grove with its walks and fountains. The old ilex bosquet, with its tangled growth and air of complete seclusion, had its spell of fascination. Then, as now, the elevated temple, at the end of the main path, seemed the haunt of gods and muses. In all the incidental, as well as the ceremonial social meeting and mingling, art and religion were the general themes of discussion. This idyllic life—
"Comprehending, too, the soul's And all the high necessities of art"—
has left its impress on the air as well as its record on many a page of the poet and the romancist. The names that made memorable those wonderful days touch chords of association that still vibrate in the life of the hour. For the most part the artists and their associates have gone their way—not into a Silent Land, a land of shadows and vague, wandering ghosts—but into that realm wherein is the "life more abundant," of more intense energy and of nobler achievement; the realm in which every aspiration of earth enlarges its conception and every inspiration is exalted and endowed with new purpose; the realm where, as Browning says,—
"Power comes in full play."
The poet's vision recognizes the truth:—
"I know there shall dawn a day, —Is it here on homely earth? Is it yonder, worlds away, Where the strange and new have birth, That Power comes in full play?"
The names of sculptor, painter, and poet throng back, imaged in that retrospective mirror which reflects a vista of the past, rich in ideal creation. Beautiful forms emerge from the marble; pictorial scenes glow from the canvas; song and story and happy, historic days are in the very air. To Italy, land of romance and song, all the artists came trooping, and
"Under many a yellow Star"
they dropped into the Magic Land. If the wraiths of the centuries long since dead walked the streets, they were quite welcome to revisit the glimpses of the moon and contribute their mystery to the general artistic effectiveness of the Seven-hilled City. All this group of American idealists, from Allston and Page to Crawford, Story, Randolph Rogers, Vedder, Simmons, and to the latest comer of all, Charles Walter Stetson, recognized something of the artist's native air in this Mecca of their pilgrimage.
It was, indeed, quite natural, on account of the stupendous work of Michael Angelo and the unrivalled museums of the Vatican, that Rome should have become pre-eminently the artistic centre of the nineteenth century and should have attracted students and lovers of art from all parts of the world. The immortal works of the two great periods, the Greek and the Renaissance,—the art that was forever great because it was the outgrowth of profound religious conviction,—were enshrined in the churches and the galleries of Rome. The leading countries of Europe sent here their aspiring students and established permanent academies for their residence. Germany, France, and England were thus represented. Thorwaldsen came as a pensioner from the Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen; and it was during his life, and that of the noble Canova, that Rome began to be recognized as the modern world-centre of art. Was it not a natural sequence that the early painters and sculptors who came to study under the stimulating influences of the great masterpieces of the past should linger on in the city whose very air became to them the breath of inspiring suggestion? Where but in Rome would have come to Crawford the vision of his "Orpheus" and of his noble Beethoven? or to Story his "Libyan Sibyl," and that exquisite group, "Into the Silent Land"? or to Vedder his marvellous creations of "The Fates Gathering in the Stars," the "Cumaean Sibyl," or the "Dance of the Pleiades"? to Simmons his triumphant "Angel of the Resurrection," and "The Genius of Progress Leading the Nations"? or to Stetson that ineffable vision of "The Child," and that wonderful group called "Music"? whose coloring Titian or Giorgione might well mistake for their own.
Under the Pontifical regime the general character of Rome was mediaeval and religious. The perpetual festas of the church made the streets constantly picturesque with their processions of monks, and friars, and priests, and these wonderful blendings of color and scenic effect stimulated the artistic sense. The expenses of living in Rome were then only a fraction of what the cost is at the present time; and as the city was the resort of the wealthy and cultured few, the artists were surrounded by the stimulus of critical appreciation and of patronage. Their work, their dreams, were the theme of literary discussion, and focussed the attention of the polite world. Their studios were among the important interests to every visitor in the Eternal City. In those days the traveller did not land with his touring car at Naples, make "the run" to Rome in a record that distanced any possibilities of railroad trains, pass two or three days in motoring about the city and its environs, seeing the exterior of everything in a dissolving view and the interior of nothing,—as within this time, at least, he must flash on in his touring car to Florence. On the contrary, the traveller proceeded to Rome with serious deliberation, and with a more realizing sense of undertaking a journey than Walter Wellman experiences in attempting to fly in his aero-car to the North Pole and send his observations across the polar seas by wireless telegraphy. The visitor went to Rome for a winter, for a year, and gave himself up to leisurely impressions. Rome was an atmosphere, not a spectacle, and it was to be entered with the lofty and reverent appreciation of the poet's power and the artist's vision.
In Rome, Thomas Cole painted some of his best pictures; and in Rome or Florence wrought a long list of painters and sculptors. Whether in the Eternal City or in the Flower City, their environment was alike Italy—the environment of the Magic Land. Among the more prominent of all these devotees of Beauty several nationalities were represented. Each might have said of his purpose, in the words of William Watson:—
"I follow Beauty; of her train am I, Beauty, whose voice is earth and sea and air; Who serveth, and her hands for all things ply; Who reigneth, and her throne is everywhere."
Among these artists there flash upon memory the names of Vanderlyn, Benjamin West, Allston, Rauch, Ange, Veit, Tenerani, Overbeck, Schadow, Horace Vernet, Thorwaldsen, John Gibson, Hiram Powers, Crawford, Page, Clark Mills, Randolph Rogers, William Rinehart, Launt Thompson, Horatio and Richard Greenough, Thomas Ball, Anne Whitney, Larkin G. Mead, Paul Akers, William Wetmore Story, Harriet Hosmer, J. Rollin Tilton, and, later, Elihu Vedder, Moses Ezekiel, Franklin Simmons, Augustus St. Gaudens, and Charles Walter Stetson, the name of Mr. Stetson linking the long and interesting procession with the immediate life of to-day. Of these later artists Story, Miss Hosmer, Ezekiel, Vedder, Simmons, and Stetson are identified with Rome as being either their permanent or their prolonged residence. Mr. St. Gaudens was a transient student, returning to his own country to pursue his work; and of two young sculptors, Hendrick Christian Anderson and C. Percival Dietsch, time has not yet developed their powers beyond an experimental stage of brilliant promise.
The Rome of the artists of clay and canvas was also the Rome of the poets and romancists, of authors in all lines of literary achievement. How the names of the procession of visitors and sojourners in the Eternal City, from Milton, Goethe, and Mme. de Stael to Henry James, Marion Crawford, Richard Bagot, and Grace Ellery Channing (Mrs. Charles Walter Stetson), gleam from that resplendent panorama of the modern past of Rome! Like the words in electric fire that flash out of the darkness in city streets at night, there shine the names of Shelley and of Keats; of Gladstone, on whom in one memorable summer day, while strolling in Italian sunshine, there fell a vision of the sacredness and the significance of life and its infinite responsibility in the fulfilment of lofty purposes. What charming associations these guests and sojourners have left behind! Hawthorne, embodying in immortal romance the spirit of the scenic greatness of the Eternal City; Margaret Fuller, Marchesa d'Ossoli, allying herself in marriage with the country she loved, and living in Rome those troubled, mysterious years that were to close the earthly chapter of her life; Robert and Elizabeth Browning, the wedded poets, who sang of love and Italy; Harriet Beecher Stowe, finding on the enchanted Italian shores the material which she wove with such irresistible attraction into the romance of "Agnes of Sorrento;" Longfellow, with his poet's vision, transmuting every vista and impression into some exquisite lyric; Lowell, bringing his philosophic as well as his poetic insight to penetrate the untold meaning of Rome; Thomas William Parsons, making the country of Dante fairly his own; Thackeray, with his brilliant interpretation of the comedie humaine; Emerson, who, oblivious of all the glories of art or the joys of nature, absorbed himself in writing transcendental letters to his eccentric, but high-souled aunt, Mary Moody Emerson; Ruskin, translating Italian art to Italy herself; Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe and his poet wife, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, in the first flush of their bridal happiness, when Mrs. Howe's impassioned love for the Seven-hilled City inspired many a lyric that mirrors the Roman atmosphere of that day; Kate Field, with a young girl's glad enthusiasm over the marvellous loveliness of a Maytime in Rome, and her devotion to those great histrionic artists, Ristori and Salvini; George Stillman Hillard, leaving to literature the rich legacy of his "Six Months in Italy,"—a work that to this day holds precedence as a clear and comprehensive presentation of the scenic beauty, the notable monumental and architectural art, and the general life and resources of this land of painter and poet. Other names, too, throng upon memory—that of William Dean Howells, painting Italian life in his "Venetian Days," and charming all the literary world by his choice art; and among later work, the interesting interpretations of Rome and of social life in Rome, by Marion Crawford, Henry James, and Richard Bagot,—in chronicle, in romance, or in biographical record. During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, indeed, the visitors to Rome—authors, artists, travellers of easy leisure—defy any numerical record. Mrs. Louise Chandler Moulton, poet, romancist, and delightful raconteur as well, has recorded some charming impressions of her various sojourns in Rome both in her "Random Rambles" and in "Lazy Tours." Of the Palatine Hill we find her saying:—
"Sometimes we go to the Palace of the Caesars, and look off upon the heights where the snow lingers and the warm light rests, making them shine like the Delectable Mountains. Nearer at hand are the almond trees, in flower, or the orange trees, bright at once with their white, sweet blossoms and their golden fruit."
Mrs. Moulton writes of the "stately dwellers" in Rome whom time cannot change; and to whom, whenever she returns, she makes her first visit; some of whom are in the mighty palace of the Vatican and some of whom dwell in state in the Capitol.
"The beautiful Antoninus still wears his crown of lotus in Villa Albani and the Juno whom Goethe worshipped reigns forever at the Ludovisi," she writes; "I can never put in words the pleasure I find in these immortals." Mrs. Moulton loved to wander in the Villa Borghese "before the place is thronged with the beauty and fashion of Rome as it is in the late afternoon. I do not wonder that Miriam and Donatello could forget their fate in these enchanted glades," she wrote, "and dance as the sunbeams danced with the shadows. Sometimes I seem to see them where the sun sifts through the young green leaves, and her beauty—her human, deep-souled beauty—and his fantastic grace are the only things here that cannot change.
"The walls will crumble; the busts of kings and heroes and poets will lose their contours, the lovely Roman ladies also grow old and fade, and vanish from sight and from memory; but still these two, hopeless yet happy, will dance in these wild glades immortally beyond the reach of the effacing years."
The visit to Rome of the Rev. Dr. Phillips Brooks—later the Bishop of Massachusetts—is immortalized in the most lifelike portrait bust of the great preacher ever modelled; a bust in which the genius of the sculptor, Franklin Simmons, found one of its noblest expressions, and has perpetuated, with masterly power, the energy of thought, at once profound and intense, in the countenance of Bishop Brooks. These, and many another whom the gods have loved and dowered with gifts, rise before any retrospective glance over the comparatively recent past of Rome. Bishop Brooks passed there the Holy Week of one Lenten season, and of the Miserere in the Sistine Chapel he wrote that it was certainly the most wonderful music to which he had ever listened; and he added:—
"The Miserere in the Sistine, the Benediction from the balcony, the solemn moment of the elevation of the Host on Easter, and the illumination of St. Peter's, these all seem to reach very remarkably the great ideal of the central religious commemoration of Christendom."
It was in the winter of 1828 that Mr. Longfellow first visited Rome, which "is announced," he wrote, "by Nero's tomb," and he quotes Dupaty's lines:—
"Quoi! c'est la Rome? quoi! C'est le tombeau de Neron qui l'annonce."
Mr. Longfellow expressed his love for the Eternal City, and in a personal letter he said:—
"I have been so delighted with Rome that I have extended my residence much beyond my original intention. There is so much in the city to delay the stranger; the villages in the environs are so beautiful, and there is such a quiet and stillness about everything that, were it in my power, I should be induced to remain the whole year round. You can imagine nothing equal to the ruins of Rome. The Forum and the Coliseum are beyond all I had ever fancied them; and the ruined temples and the mouldering aqueducts which are scattered over the Campagna; I do not believe there is a finer view in the world than that from the eastern gate of the city, embracing the Campagna, with its ruined aqueducts diverging in long broken arcades, and terminated by the sweep of the Albanian hills, sprinkled with their white villages, and celebrated in song and story! But the great charm of the scene springs from association; and though everything in Italy is really picturesque, yet strip the country of its historic recollections,—think merely of what it is, and not of what it has been,—and you will find the dream to be fading away.
"You would be shocked at the misery of the people, especially in the Pope's dominions: but their element seems to be in rags and misery; and with the ceremonials of their religion and the holidays of the church, which average nearly three a week, they are poor—and lazy and happy. I mean, happy in their way."
In a later visit the poet was domiciled in an hotel on the Piazza Barberini, where the wonderful view included then the entire city "to where St. Peter's dome darkens against the sunset." Of this visit his brother, Rev. Samuel Longfellow, writes:—
"Here Mr. Longfellow became for the season the centre of the group of American visitors and resident artists, whose well-known names need not be recounted. Here he made, also, acquaintances among the Italians,—especially the Duke of Sermoneta, the Dantean scholar, and Monsignore Nardi, of the papal court. The Pope himself he did not visit. An interesting acquaintance was that made with the Abbe Liszt, who was spending the winter in Rome, having rooms in the abandoned Convent of Santa Francesca, in the Forum. Calling there one evening, in company with Mr. Healy the artist, the inner door of the apartment was opened to them by Liszt himself, holding high in his hand a candle which illuminated his fine face. The picture was so striking that Mr. Longfellow begged his companion to put it upon canvas,—which he did; and the painting now hangs in the library of Craigie House. At a morning visit, Liszt delighted the party with a performance upon his Chickering pianoforte.
"To see Rome, as all travellers know, is a work for many months; and it was pursued with tolerable diligence. But Mr. Longfellow was never a good sight-seer. He was impatient of lingering in picture galleries, churches, or ruins. He saw quickly the essential points, and soon tired of any minuter examination."
But long, indeed, before nineteenth-century artists and authors laid siege to the Eternal City, in the far-away years of 1638, Milton visited Rome, and there still remains the tablet, on the wall of the casa in the Via delle Quattro Fontane in which he stayed, a tablet bearing an inscription giving the date of his visit; as, also, in Via Machella, there is an inscription marking the place where Scott lived during his visit to Rome. Goethe made his memorable tour to Italy in 1786—fourteen years before the dawn of the nineteenth century—and wrote: "I feel the greatest longing to read Tacitus in Rome;" and again (an observation with which every visitor to the Eternal City will sympathize) he noted:—
"It grows more and more difficult for me to render an account of my residence in Rome, for as we always find the sea deeper the further we go, so it is with me in observation of this city.... Wherever we go and wherever we stand, we see about us a finished picture,—forms of every kind and style; palaces and ruins; gardens and wastes; the distant and the near houses; triumphal arches and columns,—often all so close together that they might be sketched on a single sheet. One should have a thousand points of steel with which to write, and what can a single pen do? and then in the evening one is weary and exhausted with the day of seeing and admiring. Here one reads history from within outward."
Chateaubriand, who in his earliest youth had visited America as the guest of Washington, passed the winter of 1803-4 in Rome, and his pictorial transcriptions of the city and its environs are among the most exquisite things in literary record. As, for instance, this description of a sunset from Monte Mario:—
"I was never weary of seeing, from the Villa Borghese, the sun go down behind the cypresses of Monte Mario, and the pines of the Villa Pamphili planted by Le Notre. I have stood upon the Ponte Molle to enjoy the sublime spectacle of the close of day. The summits of the Sabine hills appeared of lapis lazuli and pale gold, while their bases and sides were bathed in vapors of violet or purple. Sometimes lovely clouds, like fairy cars, borne along by the evening wind with inimitable grace, recall the mythological tales of the descent of the deities of Olympus. Sometimes old Rome seems to have spread all over the west the purple of her consuls and her Caesars, beneath the last steps of the god of day. This rich decoration does not vanish so quickly as in our climate. When we think the hues are about to disappear they revive on some other point of the horizon; one twilight follows another and the magic of sunset is prolonged."
It was in the same year that Mme. de Stael visited Rome and recorded, in her glowing romance, "Corinne," the impressions she received. In the spring of 1817 Lord Byron found in Rome the inspiration that he transmitted into that wonderful line in "Childe Harold":—
"The Niobe of Nations! There she stands."
It was two years later that Shelley passed the spring in the Seven-hilled City, retiring to Leghorn later, to write his tragedy of "The Cenci."
In Rome the visitor follows Michael Angelo and Raphael through the various churches and museums. The celebrated sibyls of Raphael are in the Santa Maria della Pace; his "Isaiah" is in San Agostino and his "Entombment" in the Casino of the Villa Borghese. While the sublime work of Michael Angelo in the Sistine Chapel is always one of the first things in Rome to which the traveller goes to study that incomparable work portraying the Creation—the Prophets and the Sibyls, the Angels and the Genii, that record the impassioned power of the master—yet all footsteps turn quickly, too, to the church called San Pietro in Vincoli, near the house in which Lucrezia Borgia lived, in which is the colossal Moses of Michael Angelo. As it stands, it fails to convey the first design of the great sculptor. Originally intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II, the plan included a massive block of marble (some forty by twenty feet) surmounted by a cornice and having its niches, its columns, and its statues, of which the Moses was to have been one. It would then have been judged relatively to the entire group, while now it is seen alone, and thus out of the proportions that were in the mind of the artist. The entire conception, indeed, was to unite sculpture and architecture into one splendid combination. "Thus the statue of Moses was meant to have been raised considerably above the eye of the spectator," writes Mr. Hillard, "and to have been a single object in a colossal structure of architecture and sculpture, which would have had a foreground and a background, and been crowned with a mass at once dome-like and pyramidal. Torn, as it is, from its proper place; divorced from its proportionate companionship; stuck against the wall of a church; and brought face to face with the observer,—what wonder that so many of those who see it turn away with no other impressions than those of caricature and exaggeration!"
Mr. Hillard adds:—
"But who that can appreciate the sublime in art will fail to bow down before it as embodied in this wonderful statue? The majestic character of the head, the prodigious muscles of the chest and arms, and the beard that flows like a torrent to the waist, represent a being of more than mortal port and power, speaking with the authority, and frowning with the sanctions of incarnate law. The drapery of the lower part of the figure is inferior to the anatomy of the upper part. Remarkable as the execution of the statue is, the expression is yet more so; for notwithstanding its colossal proportions, its prominent characteristic is the embodiment of intellectual power. It is the great leader and lawgiver of his people that we see, whose voice was command, and whose outstretched arm sustained a nation's infant steps. He looks as if he might control the energies of nature as well as shape the mould in which the character of his people should be formed. That any one should stand before this statue in a scoffing mood is to me perfectly inexplicable. My own emotions were more nearly akin to absolute bodily fear. At an irreverent word, I should have expected the brow to contract into a darker frown, and the marble lips to unclose in rebuke."
William Watson condenses his impressions of this majestic sculpture in the following quatrain.—
"The captain's might, and mystery of the seer— Remoteness of Jehovah's colloquist, Nearness of man's heaven-advocate—are here: Alone Mount Nebo's harsh foreshadow is miss'd."
The impressive group of sculptures and buildings on the Campidoglio—where once the shrine of Jupiter Capitolinus stood—owes its present picturesque scheme largely to Michael Angelo. The fascination of the long flights of steps leading from the Piazza Aracoeeli to the Capitoline, where the ancient bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius forever keeps guard, is indescribable. The historic statues of Castor and Pollux mark the portals; on either hand there are seen the Muses of ancient sculpture, the Palazzo Senatoriale and the Palazzo dei Conservatori. There is in the entire world no more classic ground than is found in this impressive grouping of art and architecture.
The genius of Raphael has recorded itself in those brilliant and imperishable works that enthrall the student of art in the Raphael stanze in the Vatican. He was imbued with the spirit of Greek art, and while Titian is a greater colorist, while Correggio, Botticelli, Perugino, and other artists that could be named equal or exceed Raphael in certain lines, yet as the interpreter of the profoundest thought, and for his philosophic grasp and his power to endow his conceptions with the most brilliant animation, he stands alone. The religious exaltation of "The Transfiguration" reveals the supreme degree of the divine genius of Raphael. That this painting was the last work of his life, that it was placed above his body as it lay in state, and was carried in his funeral procession, invests it with peculiar interest.
As a draftsman Raphael was second only to Michael Angelo, with whom he must forever share the immortality of fame. The Academy in Venice holds some of his choicest drawings, and in the Venetian sketch-book in the National Gallery in London are many of his small pictures, including that of the "Knight's Dream."
It was in the autumn of 1508, when Raphael was in his twenty-fifth year, that he was called to Rome in the service of the Pope. The Pontiff at this time was Pope Julius II, whose successor was Leo X, and under their pontificates (from 1508 to 1520) Raphael produced these masterpieces which stand unrivalled in the world save by the creations of Michael Angelo in the Capella Sistina. The celebrated "Four Sibyls" of Raphael are not, however, in the stanze of the Vatican, but in the Church of San Maria della Pace. In the Palazzo Vaticano these four wonderful stanze entrance the visitor; the Stanza della Signatura, the Stanza d'Eliodoro, the Stanza dell'Incendio and the Sala di Constantino.
For the decoration of these stanze several painters from Umbria had been summoned,—Perugino, Sodoma, Signorelli, and others; but when Raphael had produced the "Disputa" in the Sala della Signatura, Pope Julius II recognized the work as so transcendent that he ordered the other artists to cease and even had some of their paintings obliterated that there might be more space for the exercise of Raphael's genius. In the "Disputa" are glorified the highest expressions of the human intellect—the domain portrayed being that of Theology, Philosophy, Poetry, and Justice. The splendor of this creation transcends all attempts of interpretation in language. Against a background of gold mosaic are portrayed these typical figures enthroned on clouds where genii flit to and fro bearing tablets with inscriptions. Theology holds in the left hand a book, while the other points to the vision of angels; Poetry, laurel-crowned, is seen seated on a throne with books and lyre; Philosophy wears a diadem, and Justice, with her balance and her sword, is also crowned. The title of this marvellous work is misleading. Its message is not that of disputation but of beatitude. At the altar are grouped the congregation; the mystic spell of heavenly enthusiasm enfolds the scene as an atmosphere, as above the heavens open and the glorified Christ, surrounded by the saints who have kept the faith, is disclosed to the devotees kneeling below, while a choir of listening angels bend over them from the distant clouds in the background.
Under Poetry are grouped Apollo and the Muses, and the figures of Homer, Dante and Virgil, of Petrarcha, Anacreon and Sappho, of Pindar and of Horace are recognized. The great scholars seen in the Philosophy include Plato and Aristotle, while in the groups under Justice, Moses and Solon are seen.
"Raphael seems to have never known despair," remarked Franklin Simmons of the work of this divine genius. "His paintings reveal no struggle, but seem to have been produced without effort, as if brought into existence by an enchanter's wand."
No observation could more vividly interpret the wonderful effect produced on the student by Raphael, and he cannot but recall the truth expressed in these lines of Festus:—
"All aspiration is a toil; But inspiration cometh from above And is no labor."
The inspiration of Raphael was of the noblest order. His genius, his kindling enthusiasm, his ecstasy of religious devotion, have left an imperishable heritage to art. By his transcendent gifts he represents the highest manifestation of the art of painting in the Renaissance. For the true note in art lies in spiritual perception. Not so brilliant a colorist as Titian, he was more the interpreter of the extension of human activity into that realm of the life more abundant, and with his extraordinary facility of execution he united exquisite refinement and unerring sense of beauty and the masterly power in composition that fairly created for the spectator the visions that his soul beheld. "I say to you," said Mr. Bryce recently in a press interview,—"I say to you, each oncoming tide of life requires and needs men of lofty thought who shall dream for it, sing for it, who shall gather up its tendencies, formulate its ideals and voice its spirit." One of those men of lofty thought who thus dream for the ages was Raphael, and his power and glory have left an ineffaceable impress upon human life. He was the divinely appointed messenger of beauty, and he was never disobedient to the heavenly vision.
"Time hath no tide but must abide The servant of Thy will; Tide hath no time, for to Thy rhyme The ranging stars stand still."
The decline of art after Michael Angelo and Raphael was marked. The very splendor and power of their creations, instead of inspiring those who immediately followed them, produced almost the inertia of despair. In the reverence and awe and admiration with which these transcendent masterpieces were approached any power to originate seemed futile by contrast. Imitation rather than creation became the method adopted, resulting in an increased poverty of design and feeble execution. The art of the sixteenth century deteriorated rapidly till the baroco style was in evidence. One reason, too, for the decline was in that art was no longer so exclusively dedicated to the high service of religion, but aimed, instead, to please and to procure patrons, and thus were all worthy standards lowered to pernicious levels.
A sculptor who left his impress upon the sixteenth-century art was Lorenzo Bernini, a Neapolitan (born in 1598) who died in Rome in 1685. The work of Bernini has a certain fascination and airy touch that, while it sometimes degenerates into the merely fantastic and even into tawdry and puerile affectations, has at its best a refinement and grace that lend to his sculptures an enduring charm, as seen in his "Apollo and Daphne" (a work executed in his eighteenth year) which is now in the Casino of the Villa Borghese. Bernini's name is perpetuated in the colossal statues on the colonnade of St. Peter's, the great bronze angels with their draperies streaming to the winds on the Ponte San Angelo, and in the vast fountain in the Piazza Navona. In the court of the Palazzo Bernini is one of the most interesting of his works—a colossal figure, allegorical in significance, illustrating "Truth Brought to Light by Time." One of the most important works of Bernini—now placed in the Museo Nazionale—is the group of "Pluto and Proserpine."
The influence that was to reform and regenerate the art of sculpture in the sixteenth century came with the great and good Canova, with which was united that of Flaxman and of Thorwaldsen. The heavenly messengers are always sent and appear at the time they are most needed. Neither Truth nor Art is ever left without a witness.
"God sends his teachers unto every age, To every clime, and every race of men, With revelations fitted to their growth And shape of mind; nor gives the realm of truth Into the selfish rule of one sole race."
Canova's genius and services were widely recognized. In 1719 he was made a Senator; he was ennobled with the title of Marchese of Ischia and granted a yearly allowance of three thousand scudi; and his noble and generous enthusiasms, not less than his genius, have left their record on life as well as on art. When he died (in Venice, Oct. 3, 1822) his work included fifty-nine statues, fourteen groups, twenty-two monuments, and fifty-four busts. The statue of Pius V and the tomb of Clement XIII are his greatest works, and the latter is perhaps even increasingly held as a masterpiece of the ages.
Canova, warned by the fatal influence of imitation in art in the sixteenth century, frequently counselled his pupils against copying his own style and constantly urged them to study from the Greeks. He advised them to visit frequently the studios of other artists, "and especially," he would add, "the studios of Thorwaldsen, who is a very great artist."
In the early part of the nineteenth century contemporary sculpture in Rome was led by the three great artists,—Canova, Thorwaldsen, and Gibson. In 1829 Gibson had the honor of being elected a member of the Accademia di San Luca in place of the sculptor Massimiliano, who had then just died. Cammuccini, the historical painter, proposed Gibson, and with the ardent assistance of Thorwaldsen he was elected resident Academician of merit. "Like Canova, Thorwaldsen was most generous to young artists," says Gibson of the great Danish master, "and he freely visited all who required his advice. I profited greatly by the knowledge which this splendid sculptor had of his art. On every occasion when I was modelling a new work he came to me, and corrected whatever he thought amiss. I also often went to his studio and contemplated his glorious works, always in the noblest style, full of pure and severe simplicity. His studio was a safe school for the young, and was the resort of artists and lovers of art from all nations. The old man's person can never be forgotten by those who saw him. Tall and strong,—he never lost a tooth in his life,—he was most venerable looking. His kind countenance was marked with hard thinking, his eyes were gray, and his white locks lay upon his broad shoulders. At great assemblies his breast was covered with orders."
Thorwaldsen (born in Copenhagen, Nov. 19, 1770) went to Rome in 1797—sent by the government of Denmark as a pensioner. It is said that, in his enthusiasm for Rome, Thorwaldsen dated his birth from the hour he entered the Eternal City. "Before that day," he exclaimed, "I existed; I did not live." For nearly fifty years—until his death in 1844—he lived and worked in Rome, occupying at one time the studio in Via Babuino that had formerly been that of Flaxman.
John Gibson, who went to Rome in 1817,—twenty years after Thorwaldsen first arrived,—had the good fortune to be for five years a pupil of Canova, whose death in 1822 terminated this inestimable privilege. The elevation of purpose that characterized the young English student made his progress and development a matter of peculiar interest to the master. Gibson, also, bears his testimony to the stimulus of the Roman environment. "Rome above all other cities," he says, "has a peculiar influence upon and charm for the real student; he feels himself in the very university of art, where it is the one thing talked about and thought about. Constantly did I feel the presence of this influence. Every morning I rose with the sun, my soul gladdened by a new day of a happy and delightful pursuit; and as I walked to my breakfast at the Caffe Greco and watched with new pleasure the tops of the churches and palaces gilt by the morning sun, I was inspired with a sense of daily renovated youth, and fresh enthusiasm, and returned joyfully to the combat, to the invigorating strife with the difficulties of art. Nor did the worm of envy creep round my heart whenever I saw a beautiful idea skilfully executed by any of my young rivals, but constantly spurred on by the talent around me I returned to my studio with fresh resolution."
Again to a friend Gibson writes:—
"I renewed my visits to the Vatican, refreshing my spirits in that Pantheon of the gods, demigods, and heroes of Hellas.... In the art of sculpture the Greeks were gods.... In the Vatican we go from statue to statue, from fragment to fragment, like the bee from flower to flower."
These five years in which Canova, Thorwaldsen, and Gibson lived and wrought together—although the youngest of this trio was still in his student life—form a definite period in the history of modern art in Rome. The dreams, the enthusiasm, the devotion to ideal beauty which characterized their work left its impress and its vitality of influence—a mystic power ready to incarnate itself again through the facility of expression of the artists yet to come. To the young men whose steps were turned toward Rome in these early years of the century just passed, how great was the privilege of coming into close range of the influence of such artists as these; to study their methods; to hear the expression of their views on art in familiar meeting and conversation! These artists were closely in touch with that "lovely and faithful dream which came with Italian Renaissance in the works of Pisani, Mino di Fiesole, Donatello, Michael Angelo, and Giovanni da Bologna—all who caught the spirit of Greek art." Artistic truth was the keynote of the hour, and it is this truth which is the basis of the highest conception of life.
"Art's a service,—mark: A silver key is given to thy clasp And thou shalt stand unwearied night and day, And fix it in the hard, slow-turning wards To open, so that intermediate door Betwixt the different planes of sensuous form And form insensuous, that inferior men May learn to feel on still through these to those, And bless thy ministration. The world waits for help."
In their true relation art and ethics meet in their ministry to humanity, for only in their union can they best serve man. All the nobler culture has its responsibility in service. "Many a man has a blind notion of stewardship about his property, but very few have it about their knowledge," said Bishop Phillips Brooks, and he added: "One grows tired of seeing cultivated people with all their culture cursed by selfishness." To the true idealist—as distinct from the mere emotionalist with aesthetic tastes—selfishness is an impossible prison. The only spiritual freedom lies in the perpetual sharing of the fuller life. The gift shared is the gift doubled. Art is the spiritual glory of life; the supreme manifestation, the very influence of spiritual achievement. Mr. Stillman, discussing the revival of art, has questioned: "Does the world want art any longer? Has it, in the present state of human progress, any place which will justify devotion to it?"
He questions as to whether man is still
"Apparelled in celestial light,"
or whether he has lost "the glory and the freshness" of his dreams.
"No one can admit," continues Mr. Stillman, "that the human intellect is weaker than it was five or twenty centuries ago; but it is certain that if we take the pains to study what was done five centuries ago in painting, or twenty centuries ago in sculpture, and compare it with the best work of to-day, we shall find the latter trivial and 'prentice work compared with the ordinary work of men whose names are lost in the lustre of a school.
"Then, little men inspired by the Zeitgeist, painted greatly; now, our great men fail to reach the technical achievement of the little men of them. There is only one living painter who can treat a portrait as a Venetian artist of 1550 A.D. would have done it, and how differently in the mastery of his material! If we go to the work of wider range, the Campo Santo of Pisa, the Stanze, the Sistine Chapel, the distance becomes an abyss; the simplest fragment of a Greek statue of 450 B.C. shows us that the best sculpture of this century, even the French, is only a happy child-work, not even to be put in sight of Donatello or Michael Angelo. The reason is simple, and already indicated. The early men grew up in a system in which the power of expression was taught from childhood; they acquired method as the musician does now, and the tendency of the opinion of their time was to keep them in the good method."
Is this not too narrow and sweeping a judgment? The art of portraiture certainly did not die with the Venetian painters of 1550, however great their work; and if there be but "one living painter" who can treat portrait art like the early Venetians, there are scores of artists who achieve signal success by other methods of treatment.
At all events, these three men, Canova, Thorwaldsen, and Gibson, worked with the conviction that art is service. With Victor Hugo, Canova could have said: "Genius is not made for genius; it is made for men.... Let him have wings for the infinite provided he has feet for the earth, and that, after having been seen flying, he is seen walking. After he has been seen an archangel, let him be still more a brother.... To be the servant of God in the march of progress—such is the law which regulates the growth of genius."
They worked and taught by this creed. Thorwaldsen, on first arriving in Rome, wandered for three years, it is said, among the statues of gods and heroes, like a man in a dream. The atmosphere of the earlier day when Titian was employed by the king of Portugal and Raphael by the Pope to create works of great public importance still lingered and exerted over Thorwaldsen, and over all artists susceptible to its subtle influence, a peculiar spell. Its power was revealed in his subsequent works—the "Christ;" the sculptured groups for tombs in St. Peter's and in other churches; the poetic reliefs symbolizing "Day" and "Night;" "Ganymede Watering the Eagle;" the "Three Graces," "Hebe," and many others.
Among Canova's works his immortal masterpiece is the monumental memorial group for the tomb of Pope Clement XIII in St. Peter's. The Pope is represented as kneeling in prayer. The modelling of the entire figure is instinct with expression. The fine and beautiful hands express reverence and trust. The countenance is pervaded with that peace only known to the soul that is in complete harmony with the divine power. The Holy Father has taken the tiara from his head and it lies before him on the cushion on which he kneels. Although the entire portrayal of the figure reveals that devotion expressed in the solemn and searching words of the church service, "And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee,"—although it is the very utmost rendering of the soul to God, it is yet the deliberate, the joyful, the living acceptance of divine love and no mere trance of ecstasy. No more wonderful figure in all the range of sculpture has been created than the Clement XIII of Canova.
The group is completed by two symbolic figures representing Religion and Death. The former is personified as a female figure holding a cross; the latter sits with his torch reversed. Grief, but not hopeless and despairing sorrow, is portrayed; it is the grief companioned by faith which ever sees
"The stars shine through the cypress trees."
The base of the monument represents a chapel guarded by lions. Pistolesi, the great Italian authority on the sculpture of St. Peter's and the Vatican galleries, notes that the lions typify the firmness and the force and the courage, "la fortezza dell'anima," that so signally characterized Clement XIII. There is probably no sacred monument in the realm of all modern art which can equal this creation in its delicacy, its lofty beauty, and the noble message that it conveys.
The oldest art school, the Accademia di San Luca, founded in 1507 by Sixtus, when he called to Rome all the leading artists of Europe to assist in the decoration of the Sistine Chapel, is an organization that magically links the present with the days of Canova, Thorwaldsen, and Gibson, as it linked them, also, with the remote and historic past. The father of the present custodian of the Academy knew Thorwaldsen well. The grandfather of the gifted Italian sculptor, Tadolini (who has recently completed the tomb for Pope Leo XIII, placed in the Basilica of San Giovanni Laterano), modelled the bust of Thorwaldsen, and in one gallery hangs the great Danish sculptor's portrait, painted by himself. The first director of San Luca was Federigo Zuccaro. In the early years of the nineteenth century this Academy was a vital centre of art life, and it is still a school that draws students, although the visitor who does not loiter and linger in his Rome may fail to know of this most alluring place. The San Luca is in the Via Bonella, one of the old, dark, narrow, and gloomy streets of the oldest part of Rome,—a short street of hardly more than two blocks, running between the Via Alessandra and the Forum. Hawthorne vividly pictures all this old Rome when he speaks of the "narrow, crooked, intricate streets, so uncomfortably paved with little squares of lava that to tread over them is a penitential pilgrimage; so indescribably ugly, moreover; so cold, so alley-like, into which the sun never falls and where a chill wind forces its deadly breath into our lungs; the immense seven-storied, yellow-washed hovels, or call them palaces, where all that is dreary in domestic life seems magnified and multiplied; those staircases which ascend from a ground floor of cook shops and cobblers' stalls, stables and regiments of cavalry, to a middle region of princes, cardinals, and ambassadors, and an upper tier of artists just beneath the unattainable sky: ... in which the visitor becomes sick at heart of Italian trickery, which has uprooted whatever faith in man's integrity had till then endured;" the city "crushed down in spirit by the desolation of her ruin and the hopelessness of her future;" one recalls these words when passing through the unspeakable gloom and horror and desolation and squalor of ancient Rome. In these surroundings one's cab stops at "No. 44," and ringing the bell the door is open, whether by super-normal agency or by some invisible terrestrial manipulation one is unable to determine; but in the semi-darkness of the narrow hall he discerns before him a flight of steep stairs, and, as no other vista opens, he reasons that, by the law of exclusion, this must be the appointed way. Along the wall are seen, here and there, some antique casts from Trajan's Column, and reliefs from Canova and Thorwaldsen. The galleries above hold only a small and a comparatively unimportant collection of pictures. There are marines from Vernet and Claude Lorraine; a "Venus Crowned by the Graces" from Rubens; Giulio Romano's copy of Raphael's "Galatea,"—the original of which (in the Villa Farnesina) represents Galatea surrounded by Nymphs, Cupids, and Tritons, being carried in a shell across the sea. There is a Cupid, and also the "Fortuna" of Guido Reni,—the latter a figure of ineffable grace floating in the air. One of Raphael's early works representing "St. Luke Painting the Madonna" is here. There are several works by Titian, but these have less than would be expected of the glory usually associated with his name; and a Vandyke representing the Virgin and Child, with two angels playing, the one on a lute, the other on the violin.
One salon filled with portraits of artists is especially interesting, and that of Thorwaldsen is so feminine in its costume and the parting of the hair, that it is almost inevitably mistaken for that of a woman. Guido's graceful "Fortuna" is represented as a female figure flying through the air, her long hair streaming in the wind, and the picture recalls to one the Greek legend of Opportunity, as told by Kainos. The legend runs:—
"'Of what town is thy sculptor?'
"'What is his name?'
"'Opportunity, controller of all things.'
"'But why standest thou on tiptoe?'
"'I am always running.'
"'Why, then, hast thou wings on both feet?'
"'I fly like the wind.'
"'But wherefore bearest thou a razor in thy right hand?'
"'As a sign to men that I am sharper than any steel.'
"'And why wearest thou thy hair long in front?'
"'That I may be seized by him who approaches me.'
"'By Zeus! And thou art bald behind?'
"'Because once I have passed with my winged feet no one may seize me then.'"
From one landing, on the steep narrow staircase of San Luca, opens the Biblioteca Sarti, an art library of some fifteen thousand volumes. The sculpture gallery is now closed and can only be entered by special permission. This is the more to be regretted as it contains the principal collections in Rome of the original casts of the works of Thorwaldsen and Canova.
The latter-day artists who have been setting up their Lares and Penates in Rome at various periods during the early and into the later years of the nineteenth century have found the Eternal City in strong contrast with its twentieth-century aspects, however it may have differed from the Rome of the Popes. The earlier American artists to seek the Seven-hilled City were painters; and Allston, Copley, and Stuart had already distinguished themselves in pictorial art before America had produced any sculptor who could read his title clear to fame. It is to Hiram Powers (born in Vermont in 1805) that America must look as her first sculptor, chronologically considered, closely followed by Thomas Crawford, who was but eight years his junior, and by Horatio Greenough, who was also born in the same year as Powers, and who preceded him in Italy, but whose work has less artistic value. Mr. Greenough has left a colossal (if not an artistic) monument to his gifts in stately shaft marking Bunker Hill which he designed. Problematic in their claim to artistic excellence as are his "Washington"—a seated figure in the grounds of the Capitol in Washington—and his group in relief called "The Rescue" in the portico of the Capitol, his name lives by his personality as a man of liberal culture and noble character, if not by his actual rank in art. First of the American group in Italy, he was followed by Powers, who sought the ineffable beauty and enchantment of Florence in 1837. Horatio Greenough died in comparatively early life, leaving perhaps the most interesting of his works in a relief (purchased by Professor George Ticknor, the distinguished historian of Spain) "representing in touching beauty and expression a sculptor in an attitude of dejection and discouragement before his work, while a hand from above pours oil into his dying lamp, an allegory illustrative of the struggles of genius and the relief which timely patronage may extend to it."
Mr. Powers passed his entire life in Florence. His work attracted great attention and inspired ardent appreciation. In portrait busts Powers was especially successful; and his "Greek Slave," his "Fisher Boy," "Il Penseroso," and "Proserpine" impressed the art-loving public of the time as marked by strong artistic power and as entitled to permanent rank in sculpture.
Mr. Crawford died young; but his name lives in the majestic bronze statue of "Beethoven" which is in the beautiful white and gold interior of Symphony Hall, in Boston; and his "Orpheus" and some other works claim high appreciation. Writing of Crawford, Mr. Hillard said:—
"Crawford's career was distinguished by energy, resolution, and self-reliance. While yet a youth, he formed the determination to make himself an artist; and with this view went to Rome—alone, unfriended, and unknown—and there began a life of toil and renunciation; resisting the approaches alike of indolence and despondency. His strength of character and force of will would have earned distinction for powers inferior to his. Nothing was given to self-indulgence; nothing to vague dreams; nothing to unmanly despair. He did not wait for the work that he would have, but labored cheerfully upon that which he could have. Success came gradually, but surely; and his powers as surely proved themselves to be more than equal to the demand made upon them."
On the death of Mr. Crawford, Thomas William Parsons wrote a memorial poem in which this stanza occurs:—
"O Rome! what memories awake, When Crawford's name is said, Of days and friends for whose dear sake That path of Hades unto me Will have no more of dread Than his own Orpheus felt, seeking Eurydice! O Crawford! husband, father, brother Are in that name, that little word! Let me no more my sorrow smother; Grief stirs me, and I must be stirred."
Thomas Ball, who went in early manhood to Florence, where he remained until when nearly at the age of fourscore he returned to his native land, still continues, at the age of eighty-five, to pursue the art he loves. He has created works, as his equestrian statue of "Washington" in the Public Gardens and his "Lincoln Freeing the Slave" in Park Square, both in Boston; his great Washington Memorial group in Methuen, Massachusetts; his "Christ Blessing Little Children," and many other historic and ideal sculptures, that seem endowed with his beautiful and winning spirit as well as with his rare gifts. Larkin G. Mead chose Florence rather than Rome for his home and work. His noble "River God," placed at the head of the Mississippi near St. Paul, as well as other interesting creations, link his name with that of his native land. Randolph Rogers, a man of genius; Rinehart, Paul Akers, and Thompson all died before the full maturity of their powers; Akers at the early age of thirty-six, leaving, as his bride of a year, the poet, Elizabeth Akers Allen, who, under the nom de plume of "Florence Percy," has endeared herself to all lovers of lyric art. In a monograph on Paul Akers, written after his death, the writer says of his studio in Rome:—
"Linked with this studio is Hawthorne's tale of 'The Marble Faun,' as Kenyon's studio was none other than Paul Akers's. Though Hawthorne in his romance saw fit to lay the scene in the rooms once occupied by Canova, it was in the Via del Crecie that he wove the thread of his Italian romance.
"Paul Akers's growing reputation and increase of work ere long made it necessary for him to seek a more commodious studio, and he took rooms once occupied by the famous Canova. Here he had made under his supervision copies in marble of many of the famous works of the Vatican and the Capitol. The largest collection of these was a commission from Mr. Edward King of Newport, and among them were busts of Ariadne, Demosthenes, and Cicero, and a facsimile of the 'Dying Gladiator' which Mr. King presented to the Redwood Library of Newport.
* * * * *
"During his first winter in Rome he was permitted by the authorities to make a cast of a mutilated bust of Cicero which had long lain in the Vatican. A critic writing from Rome in 1857 says of this bust of Cicero: 'Mr. Akers obtained permission to take a cast from it; he then restored the eye, brow, and ears, and modelled a neck and bust for it in accordance with the temperament shown by the nervous and rather thin face. He has succeeded admirably. It is the very head of the Vatican, yet without the scars of envious time, and sits gracefully on human shoulders, instead of being rolled awkwardly back upon a shelf.' This bust is unlike the portrait which so long passed for Cicero's, but has been identified by means of a medal which was struck by the Magnesians in honor of the great orator during his consulate, and is now the authorized portrait of Cicero. The finest of Paul Akers's creations executed during his stay in Rome are 'St. Elizabeth of Hungary,' which represents the princess at the moment the roses have fallen to the ground; 'Una and the Lion,' an illustration of the line in Spenser's 'Faerie Queene,'—
'Still while she slept he kept both watch and ward;'
the head of Milton and the 'Pearl Diver.' The 'Pearl Diver,' now owned by the city of Portland, represents a youth stretched upon a sea-worn rock and wrapped in eternal sleep. The arms are thrown above the head, and about the waist is a net containing pearl-bearing shells for which he has risked his life. There is no trace of suffering; all is subdued to beauty. It is death represented as the ancients conceived it, the act of the torch-reverting god. This youth, who has lost his life at the moment when all that for which he had dared was within his grasp, suggests Paul Akers's own untimely death on the eve of his triumph."
It was from his Roman studio that Mr. Akers wrote to a friend:—
"Yesterday Browning called. He looked a long time at my Milton, and said it was Milton, the man-angel. He praised the wealth of hair which I had given the head, and then said that Mrs. Browning had a lock of Milton's hair, the only one now in existence. This was given her by Leigh Hunt, just before his death, who had the records proving it to be genuine. The hair was, he said, like mine. He invited me to visit him in Florence, where he would show me the first edition of Milton's poems, marked to indicate the peculiar accent which the poet sometimes adopted, a knowledge of which makes clear somewhat that otherwise seems discordant. Milton was so great a musician that there could have been no fault in sound in his compositions. He looked over my books; said my edition of Shelley was one which he had corrected for the press, not from a knowledge of the original MS., but from his internal evidence that so it must have been; said Poe was a wonderful man; spoke of Tennyson in the warmest terms. Took up a copy of his own poems published in the United States, and remarked that it was better than the English edition, yet had some awful blunders, and wished me to allow him to correct a copy for me. My head of the 'Drowned Girl' caught his eye and interested him. I told him that I had thought of Hood's 'Bridge of Sighs.' He then said that Hood wrote that on his deathbed, and read it to him before any one else had seen it. Hood was doubtful whether it was worth publishing. To-morrow Mrs. Browning is to come; she has been quite ill since she came to Rome, and I have seen her but once. I derive much comfort from the friendship of Charlotte Cushman. She has just gone from here. She has frequent breakfast parties; I have attended but one. Mr. and Mrs. James T. Fields, Wild, the painter, and myself were the guests. Fields I like much."
The first works of Mr. Akers were two portrait busts, of Longfellow and of Samuel Appleton. Of his bust of Milton, Hawthorne in the "Marble Faun" has said:—
"In another style, there was the grand, calm head of Milton, not copied from any one bust or picture, yet more authentic than any of them, because all known representations of the poet had been profoundly studied and solved in the artist's mind. The bust over the tomb in Greyfriar's Church, the original miniatures and pictures wherever to be found, had mingled each its special truth in this one work—wherein likewise by long perusal and deep love of 'Paradise Lost,' the 'Comus,' the 'Lycidas,' and 'L'Allegro,' the sculptor had succeeded even better than he knew in spiritualizing his marble with the poet's mighty genius. And this was a great thing to have achieved, such a length of time after the dry bones and dust of Milton were like those of any other dead man."
Richard Greenough and the painter, Mr. Haseltine, were prominent figures among the early American group of the nineteenth-century artists in Rome. There came Emma Stebbins, who modelled a fine portrait bust of Charlotte Cushman; and Anne Whitney, whose statues of Samuel Adams and of Leif Ericson adorn public grounds in Boston; whose life-size statue of Harriet Martineau is the possession of Wellesley College; and whose "Chaldean Astronomer," "Lotus-Eater," and "Roma"—a figure personifying the Rome of Pio Nono—reveal her power in ideal creation.
The name of Harriet Hosmer stands out in brilliant pre-eminence among those of all women who have followed the plastic art. Her infinite charm of personality seems to impart itself to her work, and she has the gift to make friends as well as to call forms out of clay—the success of friendship being one even more permanently satisfying. In her early life as a girl hardly more than twenty, she sought Rome, living with art as her chaperon. Her versatility, her picturesque individuality, and her imaginative power all combined to win sympathetic recognition. Gibson, whose guidance was particularly well adapted to develop her gifts, received her into his own studio and took a deep interest in her work. It was during the period of her early efforts that Hawthorne was in Rome, and she is graphically depicted in his notebooks in her boyish cap at work in the clay. Gibson was an artist, con amore, and Miss Hosmer's joyous abandon to her art captivated his sympathy. "In my art what do I find?" he questioned; "happiness; love which does not depress me; difficulties which I do not fear; resolution which never abates; flights which carry me above the ground; ambition which tramples no one down." Master and pupil were akin in their unwearied devotion to art. Of Gibson, whose absence of mind regarding all the details of life made him almost helpless in travel and affairs, Miss Hosmer used gleefully to say that he "was a god in his studio, but God help him out of it!" This glancing sprite of a girl, frightening her friends by her daring and venturous horseback riding; gravitating by instinct to offer some generous, tender aid to the sick, the destitute, or the helpless; the life and light of gay dinners and of social evenings; working from six in the morning till night in her studio, "with an absence of pretension," says Mrs. Browning, "and simplicity of manners which accord rather with the childish dimples in her rosy cheeks than with her broad forehead and high aims," had the magic gift that merged her visitors and patrons into enthusiastic friends; and Mrs. Browning has chronicled the pretty scene when Lady Marion Alford, the daughter of the Earl of Northumberland, knelt before the girl artist and slipped on her finger a ring—a precious ruby set with diamonds—as a token of her devotion. Reading Miss Hosmer's life still further backward, the reader is transported, as if on some magic carpet, to St. Louis, in the United States, where a noble and lofty man, Hon. Wayman Crow,—a generous friend, a liberal patron of the arts, a man of the most refined tastes and culture, whose great qualities were always used in high service,—first aided Miss Hosmer to the preliminary studies in her art, and whose accomplished and lovely daughters (now Mrs. Lucien Carr of Boston, Mrs. Edwin Cushman of Newport and Rome, and Mrs. Emmons of Leamington, England) were as a trio of sisters to the young artist. And "the flowing conditions of life" bear on this lifelong friendship until a fair young girl, Elise (the daughter of Mrs. Emmons), catches up this sweet tie and as an accomplished and lovely young woman in Roman society, when these "flowing conditions" had come down even into the season of 1906-7, Miss Emmons cherished the fame of Harriet Hosmer and enjoyed the privilege of a constant correspondence with the distinguished artist. So the past links itself again with the present; and who can tell where any story in life begins or ends in the constant evolutionary progress?
Miss Hosmer's work attracted wide attention. Her majestic statue of "Zenobia;" the winsome "Puck;" the impressive statue of "Beatrice Cenci," representing her as she lay in her cell in Castel San Angelo the night before her execution,—these and other works of hers are of an interesting character and will hold their permanent rank in sculpture.
Were all the muses present at the christening of William Wetmore Story—sculptor, musician, poet and painter, jurist and man of letters, and the friend whose social relationships made life a thing of beauty—
"To winds and waterfalls, And autumn's sunlit festivals, To music and to music's thoughts Inextricably bound"?
Mr. Story made his first visit to Italy in 1847; not at that time with any fixed purpose of exchanging his profession of the law for art. He loved literature, and his grace and ease in expression had already manifested his literary talent; he had an inclination toward modelling—it could hardly, at this time, have been called by a stronger name—and curiously enough with him the usual conditions were reversed and he received a commission for a statue of his father, Judge Story, before he had made any definite turning toward the art of sculpture. A young man of versatile gifts and accomplished scholarship, sculpture was to him one among the many attractive forms of art rather than the supreme attraction; and it was the stimulus of the given work that determined him as a sculptor, rather than his determination to be a sculptor that determined the work. Among the goddesses of life Destiny must, perhaps, be allowed a place. At all events, after Mr. Story's initial glance at Italy, he sought Rome again a year later, and this time it was his choice for life, however unrevealed to his eye were the resplendent years that lay before him. He had fallen under the spell of the Magic Land. In a letter to Lowell, Mr. Story had questioned how he should ever endure again "the restraint and bondage of Boston." It was the picturesque Rome of the Popes that he first knew. The years of 1848-49 were those of revolutionary activities in Italy. Pio Nono, one of the most saintly and beloved of the Popes,—whose mortal form now rests in that richly decorated chapel in old San Lorenzo, fuori le mura, on the site of the church that Constantine founded on the burial place of St. Lawrence,—made his flight to Gaeta and the Roman republic was established. It was a dramatic scene when Pio Nono returned (April 12, 1850), entering Rome by the Porta San Giovanni. The scene from this gate was then, as now, one of the most impressive in the Eternal City.
It was in this vast Basilica of San Giovanni Laterano that Pio Nono entered that April day, leaving his carriage and walking alone to the altar, where he knelt in devotion. A splendid procession awaited without to accompany the Holy Father to the Papal Palace. The superb state carriages conveyed princes and foreign ambassadors and great nobles. From the Piazza San Giovanni to St. Peter's every house was illuminated, and the populace cheered and waved until the very air vibrated with sound and color. These were the days when the methods of government were a visible spectacle, a drama, making the life in Rome a daily illuminated missal.
The Storys, on their return to Italy, located themselves for a time in Florence, where they met the Brownings, and that lifelong friendship between the poet and the sculptor was initiated. In these happy Florentine days Mr. Story worked in his studio while his wife read to him the life of Keats, then just issued, written by Monckton Milnes, later Lord Houghton. But the "flowing conditions" soon bore them onward to Rome, where they settled themselves in the Via Porta Pinciana, and met the Crawfords, who were domiciled in the Villa Negroni. In these Roman days, too, appeared Mr. Cropsey, of poetic landscape fame, and here, too, was Margaret Fuller. Mazzini was then a leading figure in the Chamber of Deputies,—"the prophet not only of modern Italy, but of the modern world." He found Italy "utilitarian and materialistic, permeated by French ideas, and weakened by her reliance on French initiative. He was filled with hope that Italy might not only achieve her own unity, but might once more accomplish, as she had in the Rome of the Caesars and the Rome of the Church, the unity of the Western world. 'On my side I believe,' he says, 'that the great problem of the day was a religious problem, to which all other questions were but secondary.'" He was asserting that "we cannot relate ourselves to the Divine, but through collective humanity. It is not by isolated duty (which indeed the conditions of modern life render more and more impossible), nor by contemplation of mere Power as displayed in the material world, that we can develop our nature. It is rather by mingling with the universal life, and by carrying on the evolution of the never-ending work."
The studios of Mr. Crawford in those days were in the Piazza delle Terme, near the Baths of Diocletian. William Page, the painter, was domiciled on the slope of the Quirinal where he painted a portrait of Charlotte Cushman which Mrs. Browning described as "a miracle"; one of Mrs. Crawford; the head of Mrs. Story, which he insisted upon presenting to her husband; and a magnificent portrait of Browning which the artist presented to Mrs. Browning. "Both of us," wrote Robert Browning of this gift, "would have fain escaped being the subjects of such princely generosity; but there was no withstanding his delicacy and noble-mindedness." Mrs. Jameson was much in Rome in the early years of the 1850-60 decade, living in the old port by the Tiber nearly opposite to the new and splendid building of the law courts. Near the Tarpeian Rock Frederika Bremer had perched, in a tiny room of which she took all the frugal care, even to washing the blue cups and plates when she invited the Hawthornes to a tea of a simplicity that suggested, indeed, the utmost degree of "light" housekeeping. Thomas Buchanan Read was one of the hosts and guests of this social group, and it was at a dinner he gave that Hawthorne met Gibson, whose conversational talents were evidently (upon that occasion) chiefly employed in contemning the pre-Raphaelite school of painters and emphasizing the need of sculptors to discover and to follow the principles of the Greeks,—"a fair doctrine, but one which Mr. Gibson fails to practise," observes Hawthorne. The Brownings were variously bestowed in Rome through succeeding winters,—in the Bocca di Leone, in the Via del Tritone and elsewhere. Mrs. Browning, as her "Casa Guida Windows" and many other poems attest, took always the deepest interest in Italian politics. American and English friends come and go, but the little group of residents and the more permanent sojourners, as the Hawthornes and the Brownings, continue their daily variations on life in the social dinners and teas, the excursions and the sight-seeing of the wonderful city.
Only the magician could "call up the vanished past again" and summon into an undeniable materialization those charming figures to come forth out of the shadowy air of the rich, historic past, and stand before us in the full light of contemporary attention. Not alone this group of choice persons, but the environment of their time, the very atmosphere, are demanded of this necromancy. The figure of Adelaide Kemble (Mrs. Sartoris) is one of these, and the tradition still survives of a concert given in the splendid, spacious hall of the Palazzo Colonna where she was the prima donna of the occasion. There were also musicals at the house of Mrs. Sartoris, where the guests met her famous sister, Fanny Kemble. Mrs. Browning was fond of both the sisters, and said of them that their social brilliancy was their least distinction. She found them both "noble and sympathetic," and her "dear Mr. Page" and "Hatty" (Miss Hosmer) "an immense favorite with us both," she said of her husband and herself; these and the Storys made up the special circle for the Brownings in Rome. "The Sartoris house has the best society in Rome," writes Mrs. Browning to Miss Mitford, "and exquisite music, of course. We met Lockhart there and my husband sees a good deal of him.... A little society," she says, "is good for soul and body, and on the Continent it is easy to get a handful of society without paying too dear for it. This is an advantage of Continental life."
Mrs. Browning greatly admired the work of Mr. Page, whose portraits she found "like Titian's." But the tinted statues of Gibson seemed to her inartistic. His famous painted Venus she called "pretty," but only as a wax doll might be, not as a work of genuine art. Then Thackeray and his two daughters came; Miss Anne (now known to the world of literature as Anne Thackeray Ritchie) was a special favorite with Mrs. Browning.
Coming to Rome at one time from Florence in midwinter, the Brownings found that the Storys had taken an apartment for them (in the Via Bocca di Leone), and they arrived to find lighted fires and lamps. Their journey had included a week's visit at Assisi, studying the rich art of Cimabue and Giotto in the church of the great Franciscan monastery. Mrs. Browning visited studios in Rome and found that of Mr. Crawford more interesting to her than Mr. Gibson's, but no artist is "as near" to her, as she herself says, as Mr. Page. The Storys left the Porta Pinciana to live at No. 93 in the Piazza di Spagna, and in the same house with the Brownings, in the Bocca di Leone, Mr. Page had his apartment. To Lowell, Mr. Story wrote of the Brownings:—
"The Brownings and we became great friends in Florence, and, of course, we could not become friends without liking each other. He, Emelyn says, is like you. He is of my size, but slighter, with straight black hair, small eyes, a smooth face, and manner nervous and rapid. He has great vivacity, but not the least humor; some sarcasm, considerable critical faculty, and very great frankness and friendliness of manner and mind. Mrs. Browning will sit buried up in a large easy-chair listening and talking very quietly and pleasantly. Very unaffected is she.... I have hundreds of statues in my head, but they are in the future tense. Powers I knew very well in Florence. He is a man of great mechanical talent and natural strength of perception, but with no poetry in his composition, and I think no creative power.... I have been to hear Allegri's 'Miserere' in the Sistine Chapel, with the awful and mighty figures of Michael Angelo looking down from the ceiling; to hear Guglielmi's 'Miserere' in St. Peter's, while the gloom of evening was gathering in the lofty aisles and shrouding the frescoed domes, was a deeply affecting and solemnly beautiful experience. Never can one forget the plaintive wailing of the voices that seemed to implore pity and pardon."
It was in 1856 that the Storys located themselves in Palazzo Barberini, which Bernini designed and which was built "out of the quarry of the Coliseum" by Urban VIII. It is one of the wonderful old palaces of Rome,—this mass of Barberini courts, gardens, terraces, and vast apartments, with the interminable winding stairs, where on one landing Thorwaldsen's lion lies before the great doors decorated with the arms of Popes and princes. Here the old Cardinal Barberini lived his stormy life; here are the gallery and the library,—the latter stored with infinite treasures of ancient documents, old maps whose portrayal of the earth bears little resemblance to the present, and famous manuscripts and volumes in old vellum, some fifty thousand in all. In the Barberini gallery are a few noted works,—Raphael's "Fornarina," Guido's "Beatrice Cenci," a "Holy Family" by Andrea del Sarto, and others.
The Via delle Quattro Fontane, on which the Palazzo Barberini stands, might well be known as the street of the wonderful vista. One strolls down it to the Via Sistina and to Piazza Trinita de' Monti at the head of the Spanish steps (the Scala di Spagna), pausing for the loveliness of the view. Across the city rises the opposite height of Monte Mario, and to the left the Janiculum, now crowned with the magnificent equestrian statue of Garibaldi, which is in evidence from almost every part of Rome. As far as the eye can see the Campagna stretches away, infinite as the sea—a very Campagna Mystica. The luminous air, the faint, misty blue of the distance, the deep purple shadows on the hills, make up a landscape of color. At the foot of the Spanish steps the flower venders spread out their wares,—great bunches of the flame-colored roses peculiar to Italy, the fragrant white hyacinths, golden jonquils, baskets of violets, and masses of lilies of the valley.
On many a night of brilliant moonlit glory the artistic sojourners in Rome lingered on the parapet of the Pincian Hill watching the moonlight flood the Eternal City until churches and palaces seemed to swim in a sea of silver. Or in the morning, when the rose-red of dawn was aglow, there seemed to hover over the city that wraith of mist whose secret Claude Lorraine surprises in his landscapes. These dawn visions of mysterious, incredible beauty are a part of the very identity of Rome.
There were mornings when the Hawthornes with Mrs. Jameson or some other friend would drive out to the old San Lorenzo (fuori le mura), the church founded by Constantine in 330 on the site where the body of St. Lawrence was buried. At various periods the church was enlarged and finally, as recently as in 1864, Pio Nono had great improvements made under the architect Vespignani. In the piazza in front was placed an immense column of red granite, some sixty feet high, with the statue of St. Lawrence, a standing figure, at the top. It is most impressive. The colonnade at the entrance of the church is decorated with frescoes and contains two immense sarcophagi, whose sides are beautifully sculptured with reliefs. The roof is supported by six Ionic columns. Entering the church one finds an interior of three aisles divided by colossal columns of Oriental granite. In the middle aisle, on both sides the galleries, are fresco paintings illustrating the martyrdom of St. Lawrence and of St. Stephen, one series on the right and the other on the left. One of these paintings, especially, of the life of St. Lawrence, is strangely haunting to the imagination. It represents the youthful, slender figure, nude, save for slight drapery, laid on the gridiron while the fire is being kindled under it and the fagots shovelled in. The physical shrinking of the flesh—of every nerve—from the torture, the spiritual strength and invincible energy of the countenance, are wonderfully depicted. The great aisle was painted by order of Pius IX by Cesare Fracassini; in it are two pulpits of marble. A double staircase of marble conducts to that part of the Basilica of Constantine which by Honorius III was converted into the presbytery. It is decorated at the upper end by twelve columns of violet marble which rise from the level of the primitive basilica beneath. At the end is the ancient pontifical seat, adorned with mosaic and precious marbles. The papal altar is under a canopy in the Byzantine style. The pavement of this presbytery is worthy of particular attention. Descending to the confessional which is under the high altar the tomb of the martyred saints, Lawrence, Stephen, and Justin, is found.
It was the request of Pio Nono that his mortal body should rest here, where it is placed in a simple tomb, according to his own instructions; but the chapel is very rich in decoration which was paid for by money sent from all parts of the world.
The chapel walls are entirely encrusted in mother-of-pearl, gilt bronze, and beautiful marbles. The mosaic paintings are formed of gold and precious stones of fabulous value. This interior is perhaps the richest in the world in its decoration. San Lorenzo is a patriarchal church, and one of the seven pilgrimage churches of Rome. Near San Lorenzo is the Campo Verano, a cemetery containing many beautiful memorial sculptures.
In those days, half a century ago, the entrance most often used by visitors to Rome was through the Via Flaminia and the Porta del Popolo, opening on the Piazza del Popolo, rather the most picturesque and impressive place in all Rome. On the left is the Pincian Hill (Monte Pincio), with its rich terraces, balustrades, its beautiful porticos filled with statuary, its groves of cypress and ilex trees; a classic vision rising on the sight and enchanting the imagination. On the side opposite the Porta three roads diverge in fan shape—the Via Babuino, the Corso, and the Ripetta, with the "twin churches" side by side; one between the Babuino and the Corso, the other between the Corso and the Ripetta.
The Corso (which was the ancient Flaminian Way) runs straight to the Piazza Venezia at the foot of the Capitoline Hill. This Piazza del Popolo was widened and decorated by Pius VII. It is formed by two semicircles, adorned with fountains and statues, and terminated by four symmetrical edifices. In the semicircles are colossal groups in marble, and a road opposite the Pincio leads to the Ponte Margherita and the Prati di Castello.
The obelisk in the centre of the piazza was brought to Rome from Heliopolis by Caesar Augustus and originally stood in the Circus Maximus. It was erected here by Pope Sixtus V, and it is nearly a hundred feet in height. It is formed of red granite, and while it has been broken in three places, the hieroglyphics are still legible. This obelisk was first erected in Egypt as a part of the Temple of the Sun at Heliopolis, in a period preceding that of Rameses II. After the battle of Actium, Augustus transported it to Rome, and it was first placed in the Circus Maximus, but during the reign of Valentinian it fell from its pedestal and lay buried in the earth, until in the sixteenth century Pope Sixtus V had it placed in the centre of the Piazza del Popolo, and consecrated it to the cross. The two inscriptions are on opposite sides. One thus reads:—
"The Emperor Caesar, son of the divine Caesar Augustus, Sovereign Pontiff, twelve times Emperor, eleven times Consul, fourteen times Tribune, having conquered Egypt, consecrated this gift to the Sun."
The other inscription is as follows:—
"Sixtus V, Sovereign Pontiff, excavated, transported, and restored this obelisk, sacrilegiously consecrated to the Sun by the great Augustus, in the great Circus, where it lay in ruins, and dedicated it to the cross triumphant in the fourth year of his pontificate."
The Church of Santa Maria del Popolo is built into the very wall of Monte Pincio on the site of Nero's tomb. It dates back to 1099, and consists of three naves and several chapels. In the first chapel is a "Nativity" by Pinturicchio, who also painted the lunettes. Another chapel belongs to the Cibo family, and is rich in marbles and adorned with sixteen columns of Sicilian jasper. The "Conception" is by Maratta, the "Martyrdom of St. Lawrence" by Morandi, and the "St. Catherine" by Volterra. The "Visitation" was sculptured by Bernini in 1679. The third chapel is painted by Pinturicchio (1513), and the fourth has an interesting bas-relief of the fifteenth century. The picture of the Virgin, on the high altar, is one of those attributed to St. Luke; the paintings on the vault of the choir are by Pinturicchio. The two marble monuments are, from their perfection of design and execution, reckoned among the best modern works. They are by Cantucci da S. Savino. In the chapel following is an "Assumption" by Annibale Carracci; the side pictures are by Caravaggio. The last chapel but one in the small nave is the Chigi chapel, and is one of the most celebrated in Rome.
Raphael gave the designs for the dome, the paintings of the frieze, and the altar picture. This latter was begun by Del Piombo and finished by Salviati. The statue of Daniel is by Bernini. The front of the altar and the statues of Jonah and Elijah were done by Lorenzetto (1541), from designs by Raphael. Outside this chapel is the monument of Princess Odescalchi Chigi (1771), by Paolo Posi. The stained windows of the choir belong to the fourteenth century, and in the sacristy and the vestibule are monuments also of the fourteenth century and of the fifteenth. Luther resided in the convent attached to this church when he was in Rome.
There is a legend that a large walnut tree grew on the site of Nero's tomb in whose branches innumerable crows had their home, and that they devastated all that part of Rome. An appeal was made to the Virgin, who declared that the crows were demons who kept watch over the ashes of Nero, and ordered the tree to be cut down and burned, the ashes being scattered to the air, and that, on the spot, a church should be built to her honor. This was accomplished, and the crows no more troubled the Eternal City.
The gardens of Lucullus were on the Monte Pincio. The view of the terraced hillside from the Piazza del Popolo is one of the most impressive in Rome.
The Hawthornes left Rome in 1859; and the death of Mrs. Browning in June of 1861 left the little circle of the Roman winters irreparably broken. "Returning to Rome," wrote Story to Charles Eliot Norton, "I have not one single intimate ... no one with whom I can walk any of the higher ranges of art and philosophy." Mr. Story had modelled the busts of both Mr. and Mrs. Browning during their sojourns in Rome; in 1853 Harriet Hosmer had made the cast of the "clasped hands" of the poets, the model having since been cast in bronze; Mr. Page had, as already noted, painted a portrait of Robert Browning; and Mr. Leighton (afterward Sir Frederick) had made a beautiful portrait sketch of Mrs. Browning. In later years all these memorials, with other paintings or plastic sketches of the wedded poets, were grouped in Mr. Barrett Browning's palace in Venice.
At this time Mr. Story had completed his "Cleopatra," which Hawthorne had embalmed in literary mention in "The Marble Faun;" and beside his "Judith," "Sappho," and other lesser works, he had achieved one of his finest successes in the "Libyan Sibyl." Both the "Cleopatra" and the "Sibyl" became famous. Whether they would produce so strong an effect at the present stage of twentieth-century life is a problem, but one that need not press for solution. Mr. Story was singularly fortunate in certain conditions that grouped themselves about his life and combined to establish his fame. These conditions, of course, were largely the outer reflection of inner qualities, as our conditions are apt to be; still, the "lack of favoring gales" not infrequently foredooms some gallant bark to a disastrous course.
"Man is his own star....
* * * * *
Our acts, our angels, are, for good or ill, Our fatal shadows that walk by us still,"
it is true; yet has not Edith Thomas embodied something of that overruling destiny that every thoughtful observer must discern in life in these lines?—
"You may blame the wind or no, But it ever hath been so— Something bravest of its kind Leads a frustrate life and blind, For the lack of favoring gales Blowing blithe on other sails."
Only occasionally have we
"... the time, and the place, And the loved one all together."
Mr. Story's nature was eminently sympathetic with the other arts; he was himself almost as much a literary man as he was a sculptor; he was the friend and companion of literary men, and to the fact that art in the middle years of the nineteenth century was far more a literary topic than a matter of critical scrutiny, Mr. Story owed an incalculable degree of his fame. He was an extremely interesting figure with his social grace, his liberal culture, and his versatile gifts. His life was centred in choice and refined associations. If not dowered with lofty and immortal original genius, he had a singular combination of talent, of fastidious taste, and of the intellectual appreciation that enabled him to select interesting ideal subjects to portray in the plastic art. These appealed to the special interest of his literary friends and were widely discussed in the press and periodicals of the day. It is a bonmot of contemporary studio life that Hawthorne rather than Story created the "Cleopatra," and one ingenious spirit suggests that as Mr. Story put nothing of expression or significance into his statues, the beholder could read into them anything he pleased; finding an empty mould, so to speak, into which to pour whatever image or embodiment he might conjure up from the infinite realm of imagination. One of the latest of these contemporary critics declares that "Story declined appreciably, year by year, falling away from his own standard; haunted to the point of obsession by visions of mournful female figures, generally seated, wrapped in gloom. It seems strange," this critic continues, "that so active a mind should dream of nothing but brooding, sinister souls, of bodies bowed in grief, or tense with rage. Never once, apparently, did there come to him a vision of buoyancy and grace; of a beauty that one could love; of good cheer and joy of very living; always these unwholesome creatures born of that belated Byronic romanticism."
This criticism, while it has as little appreciation of Mr. Story's exquisite culture and of the taste and refinement of his art as the general rush of the motor car and telephonic conversational life of the first decade of the twentieth century has of the thoughtful, the poetic, the leisurely atmosphere of Mr. Story's time, is yet not without a keen flashlight of truth. Painting had its reactionary crisis from the pre-Raphaelite ideals and the intransigeants have had their own conflicts in which they survived, or disappeared, according to the degree of artistic vitality within. Sculpture and literature must also meet the series of tests to which the onward progress of life persists in subjecting them, and those who are submerged and perish can only encourage the survivors as did the Greeks, as sung by Theocritus:—
"A shipwrecked sailor, buried on this coast, Bids you set sail. Full many a gallant ship, when we were lost, Weathered the gale."
"As we refine, our checks grow finer," said Emerson. As life becomes more elaborate and ambitious, the critical tests increase. Contemporary fame can be created for the artist by favorable contemporary comment; but it rests with himself, after all; it rests in the abiding significance of his work—or the lack of it—as to whether this fame is perpetuated. That of Mr. Story does not hold within itself all the qualities that insure the appreciation of the present day. It is, as the critic of the hour expresses himself, "too literary,"—too largely a question of classic titles which appealed to the mid-nineteenth-century authors whose judgment of art the twentieth century finds particularly amusing. Henry James has somewhere held up to ridicule the early Beacon Hill Boston for its impassioned devotion to the "attenuated outlines" of Flaxman's art. But the work of Story will survive all transient variations of opinion, even of the present realistic age; for is not true realism, after all, to be found in the eternal ideals of truth, grace, dignity, refinement, significance, and beauty? These qualities have a message to convey; and no one can study with sympathetic appreciation any sculpture of William Wetmore Story without feeling that the work has something to say; that it is not a mere reproduction of some form, but is, rather, an idea impersonated, and therefore it has life, it has significance. The criticism of the immediate hour is not necessarily infallible because it is contemporary. What does William Watson say?