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On a Portrait of Dante by Giotto by James Lowell 16/09/2011

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James Lowell (obit 1891) included this poem in his volume Miscellaneous Poems (1843).

Can this be thou who, lean and pale,
With such immitigable eye
Didst look upon those writhing souls in bale,
And note each vengeance, and pass by
Unmoved, save when thy heart by chance
Cast backward one forbidden glance,
And saw Francesca, with child’s glee,
Subdue and mount thy wild-horse knee
And with proud hands control its fiery prance?

With half-drooped lids, and smooth, round brow,
And eye remote, that only sees
Fair Beatrice’s spirit wandering now
In some sea-lulled Hesperides,
Thou movest through the jarring street,
Secluded from the noise of feet
By her gift-blossom in thy hand,
Thy branch of palm from Holy Land;
No trace is here of ruin’s fiery sleet.

Yet there is something round thy lips
That prophesies the coming doom,
The soft, gray herald-shadow ere the eclipse
Notches the perfect disk with gloom;
A something that would banish thee,
And thine untamed pursuer be,
From men and their unworthy fates,
Though Florence had not shut her gates,
And Grief had loosed her clutch and let thee free.

Ah! he who follows fearlessly
The beckonings of a poet-heart
Shall wander, and without the world’s decree,
A banished man in field and mart;
Harder than Florence walls the bar
Which with deaf sternness holds him far
From home and friends, till death’s release,
And makes his only prayer for peace,
Like thine, scarred veteran of a lifelong war!

The Accademia c. 1850 11/08/2011

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c. 1850

The collection of the Academy of Fine Arts is not extensive, nor is it interesting or valuable, but in a strictly historical point of view. In that light it is interesting and instructive; invaluable to any historian of art. The purpose of the institution was to present on its walls an unbroken series of works, from the earliest glimmerings of art in the twelfth century, down to the close of the sixteenth. The design has been successfully carried out, and there are few artists of Tuscany in all that time who are not represented there in their works. When I looked at the earliest pictures of those earliest times, appearing like the drawing and coloring of the old Egyptians and Mexicans, or the unskilful daubings of children, I received new impressions of the reality of the darkness of the dark ages. I saw how all that had been done in art in the previous ages by the Greeks, &c., had all as much perished out of the knowledge and memory of mankind as if it had never existed – and how it was no figure of speech that the people of those days had just awakened from the sound sleep of centuries. When Cimabue and Giotto first drew and painted, they were as ignorant as our North American savages that art had ever existed before. It was not till the accidental discovery of the treasures buried in the soil of Rome had furnished them with models, and it had also occurred to Giotto to make copies of his own sheep and goats, that art, from those two sources, received for the second time its birth.

Michaelangelo’s House 02/06/2011

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c. 1850

There are many other religious buildings in Florence of the kinds just described, to which attaches the deepest interest for their treasures of ancient art upon their walls, and their associations with political and Christian history. Structures of another kind in Florence, made famous by the residence of remarkable men, such as the Medici, Dante, Michael Angelo, Galileo, possess an interest of the highest kind; and not a building of that sort would one omit to visit and explore, if time – that sore trouble to the poor traveller – did not interpose its ban. One only will I notice – the family mansion of Michael Angelo, built by himself, which has been religiously preserved unaltered, and is at this day inhabited by one of his lineal descendants, a Buonarroti, an acting counsellor of law in Florence. It is an awkward building in its interior, and shows that though he could build St. Peter’s, he could not build his own house. The principal story consists of a long suite of apartments, six or eight of them in a line, of various dimensions, opening into each other by small doors, the walls and ceilings of every one of them, in every square inch, adorned by paintings illustrative of his long and glorious career; and contributed by his admirers, or followers, as mementoes of affection and reverence. Of all these apartments, richly decorated as they are, the most lifelike was the mere closet, six or eight feet by three, furnished only with a fixed chair and a fixed table, with a single pane of glass for light, where the great man withdrew for study; where he wrote, and where he threw off those first pencil sketches, the original conceptions of his mind, which were then elaborated into those famous works which have compelled the admiration of successive centuries, and made his name immortal.

Just Arrived 24/04/2011

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FLORENCE, September, 1845. On the day after our arrival here we met an American at the table d’hote of the Lione Bianco, who was kind enough to assist us in procuring rooms, and in twenty-four hours we were comfortably and permanently installed in Florence. We have taken three large and tolerably well furnished rooms in the house of Signor Lazzeri, a wealthy goldsmith, in the Via Vacchereccia, for which we pay ten scudi per month a scudo being a trifle more than an American dollar. This includes lights, and the attendance of servants, to whom, however, we are expected to give an occasional gratuity. We live at the Caffe [?] and Trattorie very readily for about twenty-five cents a day, so that our expenses will not exceed twelve dollars a month, each. For our dinners at the Trattoria del Cacciatore we pay about fourteen cents, and are furnished with soup, three or four dishes of meat and vegetables, fruit and a bottle of wine! These dinners are made exceedingly pleasant and cheerful by the society of several American artists whose acquaintance we have made. Another countryman, Mr. Tandy, of Kentucky, occupies a room in the same building with us, and will make our trio complete after the departure of my cousin, who will leave shortly for Heidelberg. B and I are so charmed with the place and the beautiful Tuscan dialect, that we shall endeavor to spend three or four months here and master the language, before proceeding further.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, A Child’s Grave 19/04/2011

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A Child’s Grave at Florence

Born, July 1848. Died, November 1849


Of English blood, of Tuscan birth,
What country should we give her?
Instead of any on the earth,
The civic Heavens receive her.


And here among the English tombs
In Tuscan ground we lay her,
While the blue Tuscan sky endomes
Our English words of prayer.


A little child!—how long she lived,
By months, not years, is reckoned:
Born in one July, she survived
Alone to see a second.


Bright-featured, as the July sun
Her little face still played in,
And splendours, with her birth begun,
Had had no time for fading.


So, Lily, from those July hours,
No wonder we should call her;
She looked such kinship to the flowers,
Was but a little taller.


A Tuscan Lily, only white,
As Dante, in abhorrence
Of red corruption, wished aright
The lilies of hisFlorence.


We could not wish her whiter, her
Who perfumed with pure blossom
The house – a lovely thing to wear
Upon a mother’s bosom!


This July creature thought perhaps
Our speech not worth assuming;
She sat upon her parents’ laps
And mimicked the gnat’s humming;


Said ‘father’, ‘mother’ — then left off,
For tongues celestial, fitter:
Her hair had grown just long enough
To catch heaven’s jasper-glitter.


Babes! Love could always hear and see
Behind the cloud that hid them.
’Let little children come to Me,
And do not thou forbid them.’


So, unforbidding, have we met,
And gently here have laid her,
Though winter is no time to get
The flowers that should o’erspread her:


We should bring pansies quick with spring,
Rose, violet, daffodilly,
And also, above everything,
White lilies for our Lily.


Nay, more than flowers, this grave exacts,
Glad, grateful attestations
Of her sweet eyes and pretty acts,
With calm renunciations.


Her very mother with light feet
Should leave the place too earthy,
Saying ‘The angels have thee, Sweet,
Because we are not worthy.


But winter kills the orange-buds,
The gardens in the frost are,
And all the heart dissolves in floods,
Remembering we have lost her.


Poor earth, poor heart, too weak, too weak
To miss the July shining!
Poor heart! What bitter words we speak
When God speaks of resigning!


Sustain this heart in us that faints,
Thou God, the self-existent!
We catch up wild at parting saints
And feel Thy heaven too distant.


The wind that swept them out of sin
Has ruffled all our vesture:
On the shut door that let them in
We beat with frantic gesture,


To us, us also, open straight!
The outer life is chilly;
Are we too, like the earth, to wait
Till next year for our Lily?


Oh, my own baby on my knees,
My leaping, dimpled treasure,
At every word I write like these,
Clasped close with stronger pressure!


Too well my own heart understands,—
At every word beats fuller—
My little feet, my little hands,
And hair of Lily’s colour!


But God gives patience, Love learns strength,
And Faith remembers promise,
And Hope itself can smile at length
On other hopes gone from us.    


Love, strong as Death, shall conquer Death,
Through struggle made more glorious:
This mother stills her sobbing breath,
Renouncing yet victorious.


Arms, empty of her child, she lifts
With spirit unbereaven,—
‘God will not all take back His gifts;
My Lily’s mine in heaven.


‘Still mine! maternal rights serene
Not given to another!
The crystal bars shine faint between
The souls of child and mother.


‘Meanwhile’, the mother cries, ‘content!
Our love was well divided:
Its sweetness following where she went,
Its anguish stayed where I did.


‘Well done of God, to halve the lot,
And give her all the sweetness;
To us, the empty room and cot,—
To her, the Heaven’s completeness.


‘To us, this grave,—to her, the rows
The mystic palm-trees spring in;
To us, the silence in the house,—
To her, the choral singing.


‘For her, to gladden in God’s view,—
For us, to hope and bear on.
Grow, Lily, in thy garden new,
Beside the Rose of Sharon!


‘Grow fast in heaven, sweet Lily clipped,
In love more calm than this is,
And may the angels dewy-lipped
Remind thee of our kisses!


‘While none shall tell thee of our tears,
These human tears now falling,
Till, after a few patient years,
One home shall take us all in.


‘Child, father, mother—who, left out?
Not mother, and not father!
And when, our dying couch about,
The natural mists shall gather,


‘Some smiling angel close shall stand
In old Correggio’s fashion,
And bear a Lily in his hand,
For death’s ANNUNCIATION.’

Owen Meredith, Evening in Tuscany 13/04/2011

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Owen Meredith (1891 aka Robert Bulwer-Lytton) in Clytumnestra and other poems, 1855

Look! the sun sets. Now’s the rarest

Hour of all the blessed day.

(Just the hour, love, you look fairest!)

Even the snails are out to play.

Cool the breeze mounts, like this Chianti

Which I drain down to the sun.

There! shut up that old green Dante,

Turn the page, where we begun,

At the last news of Ulysses,

A grand image, fit to close

Just such grand gold eyes as this is,

Full of splendor and repose!

So loop up those long bright tresses,

Only, one or two must fall

Down your warm neck. Evening kisses

Through the soft curls spite of all.

Ah, but rest in your still place there!

Stir not – turn not I the warm pleasure

Coming, going in your face there,

And the rose (no richer treasure)

In your bosom, like my love there,

Just half secret and half seen;

And the .soft light from above there

Streaming o’er you where you lean,

With your fair head in the .shadow

Of that grass-hat’s glancing brim,

Like a daisy in a meadow

Which its own deep fringes dim.

O you laugh, you cry! ‘What folly!’

Yet you ‘d scarcely have me wise,

If I judge right, judging wholly

By the secret in your eyes.

But look down now, o’er the city

Sleeping soft among the hills,

Our dear Florence ! That great Pitti

With its steady shadow tills

Half the town up: its unwinking

Cold white windows, as they glare

Down the long streets, set one thinking

Of the old dukes who lived there;

And one pictures those strange men so!

Subtle brains, and iron thews!

There, the gardens of Lorenzo,

The long cypress avenues

Creep up slow the stately hillside

Where the merry loungers are.

But far more I love this still side,

The blue plain you see so far!

Where the shore of bright white villas

Leaves off faint: the purple breadths

Of the olives and the willows:

And the gold-rimmed mountain-widths:

All transfused in slumbrous glory

To one burning point – the sun !

But up here, slow, cold, and hoary

Reach the olives, one by one:

And the land looks fresh: the yellow

Arbute-berries, here and there,

Growing slowly ripe and mellow

Through a flush of rosy hair.

For the Tramontana last week

Was about: ‘t is scarce three weeks

Since the snow lay, one white vast streak,

Upon those old purple peaks.

So to-day among the grasses

One may pick up tens and twelves

Of young olives, as one passes,

Blown about, and by themselves

Blackening sullen-ripe. The corn too

Grows each day from green to golden.

The large-eyed wind-flowers forlorn too

Blow among it, unbeholden:

Some white, some crimson, others

Purple blackening to the heart.

From the deep wheat-sea, which smothers

Their bright globes up, how they start!

And the small wild pinks from tender

Feather-grasses peep at us:

While above them burns, on slender

Stems, the red gladiolus:

And the grapes are green: this season

They’ll be round and sound and true.

If no after-blight should seize on

Those young bunches turning blue.

that night of purple weather!

(Just before the moon had set)

You remember how together

We walked home ? the grass was wet –

The long grass in the Podere –

With the balmy dew among it

And that nightingale – the fairy

Song he sung – how he sung it!

And the fig-trees had grown heavy

With the young figs white and woolly,

And the fire-flies, bevy on bevy

Of soft sparkles, pouring fully

Their warm life through trance on trances

Of thick citron-shades behind,

Rose, like swarms of loving fancies

Through some rich and pensive mind.

So we reached the loggia. Leaning

Faint, we sat there in the shade.

Neither spoke. The night’s deep meaning

Filled the silence up unsaid.

Hoarsely through the cypress alley

A civetta out of tune

Tried his voice by fits. The valley

Lay all dark below the moon.

Until into song you burst out,

That old song 1 made for you

When we found our rose, the first out

Last sweet Springtime in the dew.

Well ! . . . if things had gone less wildly,

Had I settled down before

There, in England, labored mildly,

And been patient, and learned more

Of how men should live in London,

Been less happy, or more wise,

Left no great works tried, and undone

Never looked in your soft eyes

I . . . but what’s the use of thinking ?

There! our nightingale begins,

Now a rising note, now sinking

Back in little broken rings

Of warm song that spread and eddy,

Now he picks up heart, and draws

His great music, slow and steady,

To a silver-centred pause!

Ibrahim Pasha in Town 10/04/2011

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c. 1845

The other day I saw Ibrahim Pacha, the son of old Mehemet Ali, driving in his carriage through the streets. He is here on a visit from Lucca, where he has been spending some time on account of his health. He is a man of ap parently fifty years of age; his countenance wears a stern and almost savage look, very consistent with the character he bears and the political part he has played. He is rather portly in person, the pale olive of his complexion contrasting strongly with a beard perfectly white. In common with all his attendants, he wears the high red cap, picturesque bluejacket, and full trowsers of the Egyptians. There is scarcely a man of them whose face with its wild, oriental beauty, does not show to advantage among as civilized and prosaic Christians.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, The Greek Slave 05/04/2011

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1850 on Powers’ celebrated Florentine statue

They say Ideal beauty cannot enter
The house of anguish. On the threshold stands
An alien Image with enshackled hands,
Called the Greek Slave! as if the artist meant her
(That passionless perfection which he lent her,
Shadowed not darkened where the sill expands)
To so confront man’s crimes in different lands
With man’s ideal sense. Pierce to the centre,
Art’s fiery finger! and break up ere long
The serfdom of this world. Appeal, fair stone,
From God’s pure heights of beauty against man’s wrong!
Catch up in thy divine face, not alone
East griefs but west, and strike and shame the strong,
By thunders of white silence, overthrown

The Tale of Teresinella 22/03/2011

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c. 1915 appears in a collection of Mrs Hugh Fraser

It was during the reign of the last Grand Duke of Tuscany that there occurred in connection with the theatre at Florence, one of the most strangely interesting little human dramas of which I have ever heard. It is the story of a young girl who captivated the Florentines for a brief season by her incomparable beauty and talent as a dancer – and then, all at once, just as the world of European theatre-goers was at its keenest to see the successor of Vestris and Taglioni, she disappeared from the stage and was never seen on it again. Let us call her Teresinella Bandiera.

Some sixty years ago, there was living in Florence a young man of the name of Rossani, who was pursuing a course of studies in jurisprudence at the university there. Unlike the greater number of his fellow students, Rossani was not given to sociability or to amusing himself in his spare moments at the cafes and places of entertainment; he neither made friendships nor was ever known to have lost his heart to any woman, however charming and attractive – as was the custom of his more frivolous companions. His work was, apparently, all in all to the studious Rossani whom no charge of misanthropy could induce to change his way of life against a more lighthearted one. Melancholy, solitary and diligent, he went his lonely road without permitting himself the slightest deviation from it in spite of the chaff and rallying of his comrades – until one fateful evening about the time of the Crimean War when he suffered himself to be persuaded, much against his will, to form one of a party to the theatre. For such had been the pressure put upon him by the other students, and so impressed had he been by their extravagant enthusiasm for an unknown dancer, that he had no longer found it possible to resist their entreaties that he would accompany them to see her – ‘Just for this once’, as they put it to him – ‘in order that you may really know what it is to live. After that, when you have seen our Teresinella, you may go back to your musty lawbooks if you like. But we do not believe that you will. At any rate, it will do you good to broaden your mind a little by seeing her dance, Rossani nostro!’ And so, accepting their invitation as a challenge to him, Rossani consented and went.

From that hour he was a changed man. So soon as the curtain rose upon the scene of the ballet, a storm of applause greeted the appearance of the premiere danseuse, a radiant blushing slip of a girl who bowed again and again with evident impatience to begin her dancing, in response to the tumult of acclamations that were showered upon her. One can picture the scene; the glowing stage and twilit body of the theatre with its avidly enthusiastic occupants of whom even those in the box reserved for the Grand Duke – a typical ‘John Bull’ of a man to look at in spite of his snowy Austrian tunic and the flambant Austrian insignia of the Golden Fleece that hung below his military stock – were clapping their hands and cheering like school-children at a fair; and then the gradual hush through which the first bars of the music began to rise up into the murky dome overhead. And, as the amazing perfection of the principal dancer’s loveliness became borne in upon Rossani’s awakening appreciation of things beautiful, some new and hitherto hidden emotions stirred to life in him, making him draw in his breath sharply and shade his eyes an instant with his hand, as though they were dazzled by something.

Saving for that one movement, he did not stir or speak at all during the whole time that Teresinella was on the stage; and when the ballet was over, and she had withdrawn after refusing the last of countless recalls, Rossani went out silently from the theatre into the night, his soul stirred to its very depths. To his fellow students, on their inquiring of him how he had enjoyed the dancing of Teresinella, he vouchsafed scarcely more than a few words to the effect that, ‘Yes, he had liked it – it had been very interesting’, and so forth. And that was all. But, thenceforth, his leisure time was devoted to making inquiries regarding the girl whose wondrous comeliness had changed his whole interior life, imparting to it a new warmth and lustre. Even now, however, he did not attempt to make her acquaintance; but, night after night he might be seen sitting in his seat in the theatre, devouring every movement with his eager eyes which seemed blind to every other object, until it was patent to all that his entire being was bound up with hers. It was little enough that he had been able to learn about her; but that little sufficed to inflame him with compassion and indignation.

Barely sixteen years of age, Teresinella was the daughter of an unprincipled and heartless mother whose greed for gain had driven the girl upon the boards with the iniquitous intention of selling her beauty to the highest bidder – from which hideous fate Rossani was determined, come what might, to deliver her at all costs. How he was to do this, he was not quite sure, for in the effecting of his purpose he would have to reckon not only with the mercenary mother’s guarding of her from all influences for good, but, also, with the delight of Teresinella herself in her own triumphs as a dancer and her own powers of subjugating her audience. For he could see that her success was rapidly becoming the dominating factor in the girl’s life, so that she was growing to depend upon the stimulant of it, much as a drunkard craves for that of liquor; and from this peril Rossani was resolved to save her. Finally, after much thinking, he saw the only way of effecting his purpose, and made up his mind to follow it.

The theatrical season was drawing to a close with which Teresinella’s stay in Florence would also come to an end, and she would go elsewhere – to London or Paris or Vienna – to increase her fame before a larger and wealthier public. Now or never was the time for Rossani, her true lover, to carry out his purpose of rescuing his beloved from the perils that awaited her. Such, indeed, had been her conquest of Florence that it was arranged that the city should show its recognition of her merits by according her a ‘benefit’ night at the State Theatre itself; an event at which, needless to say, every university student who could afford it (and many, doubtless who could not) was bent upon assisting.

According to the Italian custom, moreover, of those days, they proposed to present Teresinella with some complimentary verses in honour of the occasion; of which verses copies were to be distributed among the audience during the ballet. Here was the opportunity for which Rossani had been waiting. ‘I will see to it; you may safely leave it all to me’, he assured his friends – by now he had become human enough to have friendships with others of the students – and forthwith proceeded to busy himself with the composition of the sonnet and the arrangements for printing it.

To no one, though, would he confide the secret of his verses which, as he said, was to be a little surprise for them all – and so they let him do as he wished, rather enjoying the little mystification than otherwise. Eventually, the benefit night arrived, and with it a more complete triumph than any she had yet scored, for Teresinella. Panting ever so slightly with her exertions she confronted the semi-delirious audience, overwhelmed with applause and with presents of flowers and jewellery. And, all the while that she was dancing her last dance in Florence, Rossani, was making the round of the theatre, bearing a huge pile of printed leaflets which he distributed to every one in turn, going from box to box and through all the seats. As he went, and the public bent in curiosity over the verses which he had left with them, there arose from all parts of the house a loud whisper of excitement and astonishment.

And then, at last, a special copy of Rossani’s verses, luxuriously printed and bound in satin, was handed up by him to the radiant girl herself. As she took them from him, their eyes met, and Teresinella lowered her own to the leaflet that she had received from him, and there fell a hush upon all those present. Suddenly, as she perused the verses that Rossani had put into her hand, all the flush of happiness in the girl’s face went out of it, leaving her deathly white. ‘I will never dance again!’ she cried. ‘Never – never!’  – with which she tore the leaflet across and threw the pieces to the ground. And she kept her word. Nothing could ever again induce her to enter a theatre, or to dance so much as a single step. Nor was it long before those she had captivated by her dancing learned that she had retired from the world into a life of seclusion there to turn her mind to higher things.

As to the verses – or, rather, the verse – which changed her life, here it is for the benefit of the reader:

‘Dimmi che cosa è Re

Di reo due terzi egli è.

Anzi, per dirti il vero,

La differenza è Zero’ [Tell me what thing is a king (re), he is two thirds of a criminal (reo), in fact, to tell the truth they are one and the same thing]

But of Rossani’s life after that night when he succeeded in rescuing Teresinella Bandiera from the pitfalls which her own talent and her mother’s cupidity were possibly preparing for her, I know nothing. Whatever it may have been, though, I cannot think that he had lived quite in vain.

American Sculptors in Florence 13/03/2011

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c. 1850

Having introduced the name of Mr. Powers here, I will close with a notice of one of his works – his Greek Slave. In his studio I saw that most lovely conception, the Proserpine, with which you are all acquainted; the Fisher Boy, pretty, but hardly more; the lion head of old Jackson, true as truth; the demoniac head of Calhoun, equally true, I believe; the clay model of Eve, which many prefer to the Slave, and a marble copy of the Greek Slave, nearly finished, and which has since been exhibited throughout the country. On seeing this last work, I was in no way disappointed. I had then seen the Venus, and all the Greek sculpture in the Imperial Gallery, and the Venus of Canova – still I was satisfied. I even searched for defects, failures, but could find none – for obvious beauties, they were there without the searching. In contour, proportion, exquisite symmetry and grace, nothing of modern workmanship can be more admirable. It must demand the eye of a most exact anatomist, and of a most skilful mechanic, to see where the form fails of its just shape in muscle or limb, or where the chisel fails in any point of the most careful workmanship. I have seen the female form of a more noble and majestic bearing, of a more queenly elegance, of a more goddess-like dignity; but for moving beauty, the sort of beauty that makes a Venus, one must doubt whether in modern statuary it has been surpassed. The head, as in the Venus, bends toward the left, as if, we may suppose in the present case, turning away from the common gaze. And the only change it has ever occurred to me to wish for, has been, that at the same time the head turned aside, it should, for the same reason that it turned aside, have been slightly bent downwards, with the eyes a little more depressed. That, I believe, would have added, at least, to an expression which it is very commonly accused of wanting. For myself, it strikes me, as it is, to be full of expression – of sensibility to all the painfnlness of her position and destiny – still, as it should be, a restrained sensibility. Who has not seen, at least wlio cannot imagine, a countenance, ready to burst forth with suppressed tears and sighs, yet which do not burst forth, and there is hardly an outward sign, save to a very sympathizing heart, of the tumult and agony within. There is but slight visible sign of pain on the Slavic’s placid face, but it always seems as if tears would flow if marble could. It appears to me there is perhaps as much manifestation of expression on the countenance as could be put into marble, without doing more damage to the beauty of the creature than it could add of interest or force to its expressiveness. I think we are here to remember the difference between painting and sculpture. Those delicate, refined shades of meaning which you find in such heads as those of Guercino or Rallaelle, are not possible, I imagine, in marble. It is most essential that emotions of grief and pain should not be stamped too strongly upon the unchangeable stone. It could only serve more to repel than attract. Niobe and her children suffer and weep, but they express too much; all is too visible; they suffer with too much exhibition of what is suffered. With more repression, there would have been a more true and moving expression – more, not less, sympathy, would be excited in others.

I saw in Florence the group of a mother and child. The child had been just rescued from the water, and lay dead on the mother’s lap. But the language of the countenance of the mother, true as it was to the minutest line, was all too true to be witnessed without too much pain. Just as it is in real life. Grief in excess should not be seen; and if seen, never moves, like the deep, settled sadness, which has left its lines not in any change or distortion of feature, but in those ineffaceable, deep-sunk footsteps of pain, which show that the soul – not so much the body – is convulsed with agony to its centre. The most refined and delicate invention is displayed in the falling of the left hand with the double chain. The hair, after the Greek manner, divides over the forehead, and gathers into a tuft or club behind, which seems too large for beauty. The limbs, the hands and feet, seem to be without fault. The genius of Powers, it is said, and his peculiar eminence, are shown in the extreme delicacy and fineness of his finish. They are shown there, certainly, but elsewhere as well. Whether he will continue to advance in his art –whether he will go on to manifest fertility, rapidity, variety in his invention, and execution, it must remain for time to determine. At present, all that can be said is, there is the promise of it.

Our distinguished countryman, Greenough, I found engaged on a colossal work for the Capitol at Washington. It was to consist of a group of figures, four in number, to correspond in size and position with one by Persico, already in place. Only two of the four statues were as yet commenced in the marble; those, as I should judge, nearly completed. As far as the work had proceeded, it promised all that his friends or the country could desire. Its design, truly national, seemed to express allegorically the triumph of American civilization, in the forms of an American Anglo-Saxon subduing an Indian; and the forms, nearly finished, of the savage and the backwoodsman, the white man violently restraining the Indian, appeared to be done with the greatest truth of conception, and the finest dramatic effect.

Another of our artists I found at Florence, Mr. Ives, who was engaged both upon statues and busts. He was just finishing a Cupid of great beauty and variety in the accessories, and must, when completed, make him most favorably known to the country.

I cannot leave this subject without expressing a regret that so many of our artists, painters and sculptors, but particularly our sculptors, separate themselves as they do from their own country, and in fact become foreigners by long residence abroad. There seems to be no sufficient reason – at least, so far as their art is concerned – for this entire expatriation. It may be a pleasure and a luxury to reside in such cities as Rome and Florence; but it can scarce be otherwise than injurious to the interests of art at home. In some respects, and for a brief period, a residence abroad may be useful; nay, essential to the artist himself. He needs education and a teacher; and models in marble can be had only in the capitals of Europe; in the living man, however, it should be remembered – the true model – everywhere. Five years may be needed for such objects. But let the residence of the young artist be prolonged much beyond that period, and though it may be true that the taste, and power of critical discrimination, might be improved by longer absence, it must be more than doubtful whether more would not be lost than gained on the score of original conception, and execution. It cannot be wholesome to the mind to be forever in the presence of artificial models of perfection. Such a one will become a slavish copyist; that will be the reasonable apprehension. At least his subjects will be exclusively selected from the class of objects always before him.

A visit to the modern studios of Rome and Florence will convince any one of this. They are crowded with copies of Greek and Roman works. The American student, though he arrives there from a fresh, new country, will not be able to withstand the tendency of all about him; he will do as the rest do; and devote his time and genius to Apollos, Dianas, Venuses, to the exclusion of those living themes from actual life, and incidents of our own history, which might kindle a new enthusiasm and inspire to more original works. Not by any means that the beautiful fables of the Greek and Roman mythology should be utterly forborne; not that Orpheus, even at this late day, should not again descend in search of the long-lost Eurydice – for even the oldest theme may become new in the treatment of a man of genius – but that the constant presence of the Antique, and daily worship at her shrine, must, as the rule, tend to generate a dull and slavish turn of mind – all within the limits of the most refined taste, but emasculated by the absence of every thing like a vigorous originality.

It is pleaded that marble cannot be found in America. But it is imported at no ruinous enhancement of the original cost; and in no long time, when it is known that a purer article is wanted, it will be found. The fine grain of the Carrara marble is by no means the most desirable, especially for some works. The coarser grain of the Parian is preferable; and its delicate, creamy tint, more agreeable than the chalk white of the Italian. There is quite a wide range of qualities, both in color and grain, suited to the sculptor, and it would be wonderful indeed, if, throughout our vast interior, a native stone were not soon discovered, that would prove perfectly adapted to any kind of work required. Workmen competent to complete a statue at present, there are not: but were our sculptors here on the spot to create the demand, enough would be found, with the briefest instruction, equal to all the detail of the most delicate finish. There are hundreds of mechanics in marble work in Boston, New York and Philadelphia, familiar already with the use of the most delicate chisel in executing, if not often the human form, yet flowers, fruits, arabesques, architectural devices, capitals and mouldings, with a skill that at once, under the instruction of an accomplished statuary, could be transferred to statues, groups, heads, drapery, and every other more difficult part of the art. An American stone-cutter to-day may rise up a statuary to-morrow. A power of rapid adaptation is a national trait. But if I should be wrong here, and native workmen could not be procured, the low prices of labor in Rome and Florence would enable them to be imported in any number, and of any character desired, to whom American wages would prove wealth. The American sculptor, resolving to return to his country and plant himself on her soil, and entrust his fortunes to her, might make some immediate sacrifice in the loss of the society of those of his own profession in the great European capitals. He might feel here out of the atmosphere of art, and as if he could not breathe. But my belief is, that as far as that should not prove to be an imaginary loss, an art atmosphere would soon be created at home, by the removal, and residence in America, of all our artists, in which as vigorous an existence might be passed as in Italy. Let these gentlemen establish themselves in some one of our cities, not driven asunder by trivial and ignoble jealousies, but united by one spirit of devotion to the great interests of high art, and contending with each other only in the race of a perfectly honorable competition for the noble prizes of his profession, let them mingle freely, as they would, with the best literary and general society of our capitals, becoming known personally as well as through their works – and an interest would be awakened, I am sure, in the whole subject of art, but particularly in sculpture, that would lead to the happiest results; an enthusiasm would arise that would crowd conversation with a wholly new set of topics, and give a new and higher direction to that passion for elegant indulgence and costly expenditure, which will find its gratification somewhere, if not in art or literature, then in dinners, suppers, upholstery, dress, equipage.

As long as these gentlemen are hidden from the country by the thick veil which hides all from Europe, and not a sculptor is to be met in society, nor a studio to be visited, where thoughts and feelings can be exchanged on the subject of his art, there can be neither knowledge nor enthusiasm on the subject. This foreign absenteeism kills knowledge and enthusiasm. He who really has at heart the progress of a particular branch of science or art in a certain country or district, goes there, and advocates the cause by his presence, his speech, and his works. Not only would their mere presence and conversation, in the case of artists of cultivated minds, and the frequent resort to their studios, tend rapidly to generate a taste for this particular art, but a desire to possess what began to be so much honored and prized, would advance with equal pace, and, before the workmen could be procured, a demand for finished works would arise, more than could be answered. Remaining buried in Europe, nothing of the kind could take place. Only let it be understood that such men as I refer to had returned to their country, ready and desirous to execute the orders that might be entrusted to them, and not only private individuals of wealth and taste would contend for the privilege of precedency in obtaining works from their hand, but sovereign states, as in the best days of the Greek Republics would appear by their ambassadors, or, in humbler phrase, business agents, as solicitors for their talent. It needs nothing but their personal presence to give an impulse to our legislatures throughout the Union to decorate our thirty halls of Govenmient with specimens of American sculpture. Every commonwealth would soon demand its great historical men in marble. A rivalry throughout the country would spring np, that would contend for the best artist and work of the highest mark. Sculpture should help to dignify, and soon it will do so, all our public buildings. As once in Athens and throughout Greece, it will not be private wealth so much as that of the State that will honor itself by leaving everywhere proofs of an exalted and elegant taste, as well as of intelligence in the administration of public affairs. No piece of architecture is complete, and so it will be thought, without its sculpture in statue, and bust, or relief in marble, or brass. The pillar requires its capital of acanthus leaves; the building, its ornamental frieze, its statues and reliefs without, its histories and allegories within. The nation has lately here, in our capital of Massachusetts, erected a Custom House of more than Egyptian solidity, and of almost classic beauty; at any rate, of perfect and permanent material and workmanship; but it is still unfinished; naked and bare – and will remain so till adorned with its significant illustrations in marble or bronze. Massachusetts and Virginia have, each, her Washington, but both by the hands of foreign artists. Louisiana has just called for her Washington from the chisel of Powers. Virginia is about to erect a sepulchral monument to the same great name at Richmond, and in Crawford has found a design and an artist. South Carolina has jnst obtained a statue of Calhoun from the hand of Powers. These are hut the beginnings of an interest in an art ^hich is destined to extend, and that not slowly, over the whole country. But whether this shall take place earlier or later, or almost at all will depend upon the presence or the absence of our native artists. In England, I believe, there would be sculpture as well as painting, had her sculptors resided there. Let ours reside and work in Europe, and they will be Europeans – nor can a school of American art arise.