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In short, not one feature of her sketch is accurate, except what she says of the anatomy of the figure.
From the Corsini Palace, we pursued our excursion to the summit of Janiculum, whence a splendid panoramic view of Rome and its environs was obtained. Near the top is the noble Fountain of Paul V. one of the finest among the hundred, which purify, refresh, and adorn the imperial city. Not merely a brook, but a river, brought thirty-five miles in an aqueduct, here gushes through five apertures in a wall, and descends in foam into a magnificent marble basin. Between the silver streams are half a dozen splendid Ionic columns of red granite, surmounted by a rich frieze, all taken from the Forum of Nerva. But one feels disposed to pardon the Pope for his plunder in this instance, from the useful application he has made of the pilfered materials.
Passing out of the Porta di San Pancrazio, which spans the old Aurelian Way, we visited the Villa Doria Pamfili, belonging to a descendant of the Genoese Liberator. It is one of the most extensive in the environs of Rome, being about four miles in circuit. The grounds are filled with groves, walks, lakes, and fountains, much resembling in style, the gardens at Versailles. In some instances, the woods and waters are fine. The most conspicuous tree is the pine, rising to a moderate height, with a flat spreading top. In the embellishment of this park, art has done too much. Every object has been distorted, and few of the negligent graces of nature are left. Here is a suite of musical water-works, like those in the Belvidere gardens, on the Alban Mount. The machinery in the former is even more bungling than in the latter; for the organ to grind out the tunes is not so much as concealed from view. We had a charming ramble about the lakes, which are filled with ducks. A flock of white peacocks was observed upon the shores. The Lodge exhibits less taste than the grounds. We ranged through it from the basement to the battlements, without finding many objects either to interest or amuse. It is thronged with statues, none
of which possess extraordinary merit. A gladiator is the finest of the collection. In the attic story is a small museum of antiquities and curiosities of various kinds, such as urns, rich plate, and rare specimens of porcelain. The whole of this evening was passed in rambling by moonlight, amidst the ruins of the Forum and Coliseum.
The next day we went to the Doria Palace in the Corso. It is a large and magnificent structure, presenting a handsome front to the street. The apartments are generally elegant: one of them is peculiarly splendid, the walls being covered with mirrors, somewhat in the style of the Serra, at Genoa. The gallery of pictures is situated round a square, and contains a rare collection. Two of the finest are Cain
slaying Abel, and Belisarius, both by Salvator Rosa. The latter is an admirable production, characterized by all the wild and gloomy grandeur of its author's imagination. A landscape view is in perfect harmony with the character of the hero, who is represented with an erect form and undaunted brow, treading amidst ruins. There is sublimity in the angry sky, and forests shattered by the storm. The contrast between such a scene and some of Claude Lorraine's soft, sunny, and quiet landscapes, in the same collection, is peculiarly striking. There is not a wider difference between the poetry of Thompson and Byron. Several of Claude's most finished pieces, are in this gallery. For one of them, not more than four feet square, an English nobleman offered $20,000. He is wholly inimitable and incomparable in his department, as far transcending other artists in rural scenery, as Raphael does in portraits. His talent presents a moral phenomenon, as inexplicable upon ordinary principles, as does the poetic fancy of Akenside, alluded to in one of my previous letters. If the author of the Pleasures of Imagination, was a butcher's boy, Claude was a pastry-cook, and remarkably stupid, even in that line. Amidst tarts and sweet-meats, whence did he imbibe his divine conceptions of nature, and the faculty of transferring them to the canvass? Those who ascribe the character of the mind to local scenery and early impressions, will find it difficult to solve the enigma. One of the corridors in the Doria, contains a fine Magdalene, by Murillo, the Spaniard. The expression of the penitent is peculiarly forcible. His pictures are not generally very highly finished; but his pencil is true to nature, and in genius he is scarcely inferior to the first Italian masters. A small picture by Michael Angelo, more than ever satisfied me, that painting was not his forte. Among the other articles, which arrested our attention, are the heads of two lawyers, by Raphael; several heads by Guido; half a dozen Titians, of which is Abraham offering up his son Isaac; the martyrdom of St. Agnes; and a very spirited portrait of a Pope. The subject of one of the pictures in this gallery is entirely original, but not of the most delicate or dignified kind. It is a female catching fleas by candle-light! She is represented with her bosom open, in the attitude of seizing one of the animals, which are seen skipping about on her snowy neck. The sketch, it must be confessed, is extremely graphical, and peculiarly suited to the latitude of Italy; but it is a singular ornament for the walls of a palace.
After dinner we strolled for an hour through the Corso, to look at the living, moving, and busy world of fashion. The display in this street, between 6 and 7 o'clock each evening, is a spectacle worth seeing. Eyes which have slept away the day, then begin to sparkle, and
the reign of pleasure commences. A spirit of rivalship in show and luxury, something in the style of the old patricians, still prevails among the Romans. Many of their coaches, horses, and equipages, are splendid. The carriage of Torlonia the banker, alias the Duke of Bracciano, was observed among the foremost of the glittering throng, drawn by palfreys, and bearing the escutcheons of purchased nobility. He at least professes the merit of being the artificer of his own fortune, having risen from penury and the humblest walks of life, by his own unaided efforts. Giuseppe, who keeps an eating-house in the Corso, was once the intimate friend and companion of Torlonia. The latter has advanced to wealth and rank, leaving the former behind to cook omelets and macaroni. Such are the caprices of fortune, to which honest Joseph does not seem fully reconciled, as he looks out from his kitchen window, and sees the carriage of the new Duke thunder down the course, from the door of his palace in the vicinity.
We were this evening honoured with a call from Signor Trentanove, the celebrated sculptor, whose reputation is so well known to our countrymen, as the pupil and successor of Canova. He sat with us an hour, and we were delighted with an interview, which subsequently led to a more intimate acquaintance. He is yet quite a young man, handsome in his person, with a fine forehead, and a keen dark eye. Genius and intellect are very legibly written in the lines of his face. In his manners he is modest, affable, and extremely prepossessing, manifesting great cordiality and kindness of heart. On taking leave, he politely tendered his good offices, and offered any facilities in his power, to enable us to examine the works of art, and other objects of interest at Rome. The sequel will prove, that this act of civility was not a mere compliment, but resulted in many kind attentions and valuable services.
On the following day, we all went to the Palazzo Rospigliosi, standing on the ruins of Constantine's Baths, in the region of Monte Cavallo. In a pretty garden filled with oranges, citrons, and flowers, is a pavilion of no great beauty, the ceiling of which is adorned with the celebrated Aurora of Guido, esteemed one of the finest frescos at Rome. The design is grand, but we were somewhat disappointed in the execution, being unable to discover those masterly touches, which have called forth the admiration of others. A quadrigæ or four-horse chariot, is driven by Phoebus. The heads of the horses are fine; but the figure, face, and attitude of the god of day appeared to us peculiarly awkward, and unworthy of so brilliant a divinity. If Phaeton did not drive with more spirit, no wonder he was thrown into the Po. Just above the fiery steeds appears the Morning Star, in the guise of
a Cupid bearing a torch. Round the chariot of the Sun dance the Hours, in the shape of nymphs, seven in number. Their forms are gross and heavy, their legs large, and their arms brawny, forming an odd personification of those winged, aerial spirits, who are supposed to tread with light footsteps, and flit by, almost unperceived. They are clad in costumes of different colours, in which the favourite blue of the artist predominates. The skies and clouds present a tolerable picture of the mingled hues and reflected blushes of morning. In front of the steeds is Aurora herself, the precursor and guide of Phocbus. She is represented in the form of a beautiful female, flying through the heavens and lighting up the orient with her smiles. It is, on the whole, a pretty picture, defective as parts of it appear in detail.
We lounged an hour or two in the apartments of the palace. In the vestibule is a bronze horse, found in the baths of Constantine. The Death of Sampson, by Lodovico Caracci, is one of the largest and most meritorious pictures in the collection. Its design is extremely happy. The giant is represented in the midst of the ruins he has created, surrounded by an agitated and terrified multitude, affording a wide scope for the exhibition of various attitudes and passions. One of the rooms contains a painting of the Garden of Eden, which on canvass is very far from being a paradise. The Triumph of David, by Domenichino, is an admirable picture. Two females are playing upon musical instruments, and dancing in the procession. The King of Israel is represented in the character of a comely youth, with sunny locks playing about his shoulders. Saul appears in a giant form, with a stern, sullen, and jealous countenance. We were much pleased with a basaltic bust of Scipio Africanus, found at Liternum or Patria, the place of his exile, between Gaeta and Cuma. It is the most striking head I have seen at Rome. The venerable warrior and patriot is represented as perfectly bald, and exhibiting a scar on his right brow. His face is strongly marked with the lines of thought. The stone is of a greenish complexion, and the breast of the bust appears to be of bronze,
ROME CONTINUED-NERO'S TOWER-VILLA ALBANI-STUDIO OF TRENTANOVE BORGHESE PALACE-EXCURSION TO MONS SACER-CANONIZATION OF A NEW SAINT-SUNDAY IN ROME-SPADA AND FARNESE PALACES-VILLA BORGHESE-FINALE OF THE POPE'S SAINT.
On the Quirinal Hill, stands the tower on which Nero is said to have sat and fiddled, while Rome was in flames. Vague and improbable as the tradition is, we sought permission to enter, and follow the footsteps of the tyrant to the summit, but were repulsed at the door. The base of the monument is occupied as a nunnery, and of course there is no admission to the cells of the holy sisterhood.
Foiled in this attempt, we made an excursion to the Villa Albani, beyond the Fountain of Termine,* and near the Porta Pia, or Gate of Pius IV. which is one of the most magnificent at Rome. The villa commands an enchanting view of Tivoli and the Alban Mount. Its grounds and gardens are extensive, sloping gently towards the Campagna, and forming one of the most delightful situations in the suburbs of the city. Yet with all these natural advantages, Albani exhibits little taste and few attractions. Its walks are laid out in the most formal manner; its squares and alleys are all right-angled; its trees are despoiled of their native charms; and its fountains resemble the locks of a canal.
Within the enclosure are three edifices, designed merely as lodges, galleries, and places of occasional resort for amusement. The principal edifice is lofty, light, and airy, with a beautiful porch extending the whole length in front, fifteen or twenty feet in depth, supported by a long range of pillars. Its roof is arched, and the pavement is a splendid mosaic, composed of black and white marble. This portico is worth more than all the rest of the building, on which immense sums of money have been squandered. Along the front are semicircular recesses, forming the entrances to the stair-ways, and ornamented with statues, busts, and hermes. With a few exceptions it is a poor lot of sculpture. Among the better pieces, is a marble medallion of
* This is one of the finest works of the kind in the city. Its embellishments are peculiarly appropriate, consisting of a statue of Moses bringing water from the rock, and a bass-relief, representing Aa ding the Israelites to slake their thirst at the fountain.