Anna Riggs Miller.

Letters from Italy, describing the manners, customs, antiquities, paintings, &c. of that country, in the years 1770 and 1771, to a friend residing in France (Volume 2) online

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William B. Vasela







I T A L Y.


8 3 T 1









Manners, Cuftoms, Antiquities, Paintings^
&c. of that Country,

In the Years MDCCLXX and MDCCLXXI,

A FRIEND refiding in FRANCE,
By an E N G L I S H WOMAN.





, I






Bologna, Dec. 30!, 1770^

I SEIZE the firft opportunity to con-
tinue the defcription of Bologna. You
will eafily account for my filence for fome
days paft by my laft letter, in which I told
you of the large fociety we are in. Al-
though nothing can be more agreeable than
our manner of living here, yet the fre-
quent interruptions we neceflarily meet
with, are considerable impediments to our
feeing the pictures, &c. of which there are
a prodigious number, as well as of other
curiofities in this town, and which will
oblige us to flay three or four days longer
here than we at firft propofed. Dining
abroad breaks in upon our mornings ;
for it is impoffible to vifit fome of the
palaces but at fixed hours. The days
VOL. II. B being


E a- 1

being fhort, there is no feeing the churches
early ; the evenings and moft part of the
nights pafs away between the opera and
private aflemblies; the afternoon is foon
gone, fo that we enjoy fcarce any repofe.
We are determined, both at Rome and
Naples, to make it a rule neither to dine
out, or have company at home at that
meal, but to employ our mornings entirely
in feeing and taking notes, to dine alone at
whatever hour happens to be moft conve-
nient, and dedicate the evenings to amufe-
ments and to the fociety of our friends ; for
if there is too much to fee at Bologna, what
muft be our fituation at Rome and Naples.
Although I do not mean to give you a
catalogue of all the valuable paintings f that
adorn the Italian palaces and churches, yet
I fhall fo manage my time, as to notice
thofe which pleafed me moft. To begin ;
Palazzo the Palazzo Publico is a very large old
building, and anfwers to what is called in
France F Hotel de Ville. In this palace the


[ 3 ]

cardinal legate and gonfalonier * are lodged
commodioufly with all the officers and
domeftics of their houfeholds; here are
alfo offices for public notaries, -&c. guard-
rooms for the Swifs halberdiers attendant
upon the legate : in fhort, there is no end
of the people who inhabit this palace. To
render it convenient to its inhabitants, the
great ftaircafe is fo contrived, that loaded
mules may eafily afcend and defcend. It is
paved with brick, fcarce any rifers, but what
there are, are very broad, and flope confi-
derably. I am perfuaded it is more trouble-
fome to human creatures to mount this flair-
cafe than to that obftinate proud brute a
mule. The whole building is of brick, and
by no means remarkable in point of ar-
chitecture. There are fome good pictures
in this palace ; the principal as follows :
a large picture painted on filk by Guido ; Guide,
it was intended for a church-banner at the
time of the plague in 1630; its fubject,

* Or great ftandard-bearer.

B 2 the

f 4 ]

the Virgin feated upon the rainbow, under
which are all the tutelar faints of Bologna,
praying to her to remove the diftemper ; the
colouring is in his pale clear manner (but
not greenifh) ; it is not as highly finifhed
as many of his paintings ; however, the
heads are peculiarly graceful, the faces ex-
preffive, and finely defigned. Another pic-
ture by the fame, reprefenting Sampfon,
who finding himfelf thirfty after the
(laughter of the Philiftines, is drinking co-
pioufly out of the jaw-bone of an afs ; his
figure is not fufficiently coloflal for the feats
he has performed, and his left leg is fo far
jftretched out on one fide, that his outline
forms flrongly the Roman figure for the
number ten ; yet the colouring of this' pic-
ture is fine and glowing, and the ftiadows
well difpofed.

Raffaello. A St. John the Baptift, by Raffaello ; he
is young and in the defert ; this is a moft
beautiful pidure, and appears to be a du-
plicate of that in the Palais-royal at Paris,


t 5 ]

which I am fure you muft remember; it
feems to be in the beft confervation of the
two : there is a colouring and an animation
in the figure that is worthy the greatefl

A St. Jerome, reading, by Simon Pe- simon

r . . . re i r Pefaro,

faro; his attention is exprelfed fo natu-
rally, that one can fcarce believe the pic-
ture does not -think: we faw with regret,
that it is become darker than it ought to
be. A fingular pidure * by Leonardo da Leonardo
Vinci, reprefenting a child in a little bed ;
the infant's body does not appear, the bed-
clothes covering every part but the face and
neck. It is thought to be a portrait. Round
the neck is a double row of large pearls;
the drapery of the bed is muflin, orna-
mented with a great quantity of fine lace
wonderfully well imitated : the bed is like
a cheil with the cover off, and beautifully
fineered with feveral forts of woods. This

* This is in a fmall room, and is not generally (hewn.

B 3 picture,

I 6 ]

pidure, though it makes no great figure in
description, is finely executed ; and what
is very furprifing, the colours made ufe of
are but two, a brown, and a yellow white ;
which does not ftrike one at firft, as the want
of the other tints is by no means apparent.
This brought to my mind the famous an-
tique painter, Apelles, whom Pliny men*
tions to have made ufe of but four colours,
black, white, red, and yellow. If Apelles
made as good ufe of his four as this painter
did of two, I fhould eafily believe the ma-
gick force of Apelles's colouring.

In the fame room is a head of Raffaello,
fuppofed to be done by himfelf, hut we,
could not be of this opinion.

Two pictures by Donate Creti, a modern
painter, who died but a few years paft ; the
fubjeds, the head of Argus prefented to
Juno, and the judgment of Paris ; they are
but indifferent performances : gaudy, flut-
tering figures, and the rules of perfpedive
fp ill obferved, that the perfonages flick
I tq

[ 7 ]

to the fky. The blue is fine; but a
{hell of ultramarine is a finer blue. There
is nothing either ftriking or magnificent
in the furniture of the grand apartments
of this palace. In a great faloon, called
that of Farnefe, upon the fecond floor,
are painted in frefco reprefentations of fe-
veral memorable events in the hiftory of
Bologna, Without fide is a ciftern for
water, over which is an arcade of elegant
architecture ; its proportion is twice the
breadth for the perpendicular height, ex-
clufive of a baluftrade which furrounds the
ciftern ; it is a. fmall thing, but very correct
Belonging to this palace is a tower where
Entius King of Sardinia was imprifoned in
the year 1242, and where her died,

The palace Caprea is worth feeing ; the Palazzo


apartments are noble, but contain few pic-
tures worthy of obfervation. Here is a great
gallery ornamented with Turkifh fpoils,
the warlike trophies of a famous general,
#n anceftor of the prefent family. They
B 4 confift

[ 8 J

confift, of bucklers, fabres, bows and arrows ;
the bucklers are lined with human fkin
drefied like leather; (I found means to bring
away a* morfel of this fkin ;) they told us it
was that of the backs of Chriftian prifoners
taken in battle; and the Turks efteem a
buckler lined with it to be a particular fe-
curity againft the impreffion of an arrow or
the ftroke of a fabre. A curious fervice of
Turkifh plate, cryftal goblets, turbans, or-
naments of great value fet with precious
flones ; the fcabbards of the fabres,, Gfc.
richly adorned with diamonds, rubies, eme-
ralds, &c. ; here are feveral turquoifes as
large as an old Windfor-bean, and perfect
in their kind ; but I faw no precious ftones
of the lize and luftre of thofe which for-
merly ufed to dazzle my fancy in the Ara-
bian Nights Entertainments. Here are alfo
fome pretty Indian cabinets and fmall pic-
tures very proper to ornament a lady's


T:;W ?m

l^noa Jk 3

[ 9 .1

This palace does not contain a collection
of fine pictures ; here are but few, yet it di -
is one of the fir ft at Bologna in refpect to
its furniture, neatnefs, and elegance, and
the moft habitable palace I have yet
feen. Here is a fine faloon coved ; the com-
partments painted in frefco, by Stephana Stephana
Orlandi, the figures by Vittorio Bigari : Vittorio
the colouring is too yellow, yet, upon the
whole, the ceiling is ftriking, and you may
obferve fome ingenious thoughts in the
grouping and compofition. The beft pic-
tures in oil are thefe : a Jupiter under the
form of a Satyr, flealing a bow from An-
tiope, who appears to be in a profound
fleep; a Cupid fleeping by her. The
great merit of this picture confifts in its
expreflion; the colouring and drapery are
alfo very good : it is by Pafmello. A Pafmello.
Head of John the Baptift in a green
porcelaine dim. by Leonardo da Vinci : Leonardo

da Vinci.

extremely well done. All the works of

this old painter are in fuch high eilimation

2 with

with the connolffeursy that I am not fur-
prifed at the great prices given for them,
although they are far fhort of many other
pictures; failing continually in keeping and
the clair obfcure ; yet there is a finifli and
a colouring which produces the effect of
what the Italians call foave t that I can-

RefH- not well define to you. A Head by Rem-

brandt ; fine, and one of the beft I have feen

by that painter. Here is a gallery orna-
mented with feveral antique buftos : one
of the beft of which reprefents one of thofe
women called fraficce, who were hired to
howl and fhriek at funerals; fo horribly
ugly is this beldame, that I could not ba-
nifh her countenance from my mind for a
confiderable time after.

Palazzo In the Palazzo Bow are fome fine pic-
Bovi, . . .

tures : the principal, in my opinion, are

the following ; two large paintings by Al-

Albonefe. j^gfe. their fubjeds Sampfon and Dalila,

Hercules and lole: the firft reprefents

Sampfon afleep, with a truth feldom ex~


[ II .']

prefled by the greateft painters : Dalila is
beautiful in point of face, limbs, and co-
louring, but does not pleafe like lole. The
fecond has as much merit as the firft ; and
I think is a more agreeable picture, on ac-
count of its fubject: an innocent theft, by
way of badinage, being an amiable fubjedt;
the other, a cruel piece of treachery. Her-
cules is deeping, as is Sampfon, and lole
is Healing away on tiptoe, fearing to wake
him, having poflefled herfelf of the lion's
fkin and his maffive club. She is an ele-
gant figure.

A capital picture by Guercino ; but the Guercino.
fubject is dreadful j much too mocking to
be reprefented on canvas, and contem-
plated by people who are not void of all
feeling : it is the martyrdom of St. Bartho-
lomew ; he is bound to a pillar of wood,
the executioners are fleaing the ikin off his
breaft, arms, and moulders; the finews and
mufcles are laid bare; the blood, <&c. is re-
prefented fo exactly, and feems clofeto one;


[: 12 ],

fo that there is no bearing the fight. Ther
cruel infulting faces of the bloody butchers
that iurroimd him, certainly help to cofl-
traft his countenance, which exprefles the
moft perfect refignation an4 heavenly
patience. There are many other hor~
rible circumftances in this picture ; but
I will not detail reprefentations of fuch
monftrous cruelty. It is my opinion,
that in a well-governed Republic, painters
whofe pictures excite horror and rage, and
poets whofe tragedies infpire the fame, in-
ftead of terror and pity, ought to be fe-
verely punifhed. But to return to the pic-
ture, fuffice it to fay, that this capital cr,u-
elty of Guercino's is perfectly well exe~
cuted in point of anatomy, colouring

RafFaello. A portrait of a Duke of Urbino, by Raf-
faello. I can no better defcribe to you the
merits of this picture, than by the lines
the fight of it brought to my mind.


[ 13 I

The image of a wicked heinous fault
Lives in his eye. That clofe afpect of his
Does fliew the mood of a much troubled bread.

A Holy Family, by Parmegianino. Fine Parmegi-


ih his ftyle.

The Palace Sampieri. A fine ceiling* Pailazzo

s~* i Sampieri.

by Luigi Carracci : a hardy compoiition, Luigi
and executed in the manner the Italians
call terribile-) namely, with great boldnefs
and force : it reprefents Hercules and Ju-
piter. Another ceiling by Annibal Car- Annibal
racci, is quite as fine as the firft. The
fubjecl: is, Virtue opening the Heavens to
receive Hercules.

An admirable portrait by the fame mafter.

The Angel Gabriel, half-length, by Gui-
do. A moft amiable picture. Cupids
dancing round a tree, others forming dif-
ferent fports, and in the Iky Venus appears
with her fon. This picture is on copper,
and is highly finished ; in refpect of neat-
nefs, colouring, variety, grouping, and ele-

f 14 ]

gance, it is perfect. Its pendant does not
reprefent the rape of Proferpine, as Cochin
aflerts ; nor is it on copper, but on canvas :
the fubject is a triumph of Venus. A very

Albano. wretched picture. Both are afcribed to Al-
bano, but the fecond is certainly not by
him : as to the firft, there is no queftion
of its being worthy of the greateft painter.
The Woman taken in Adultery : a good
picture, but the colouring too dead ; by

Agoftino Agoftino Carracci. The Canaanite, by
Luigi Carracci : there is grace and finer co-
louring in this picture than is generally
to be feen in the works of this painter. The

Annibal Samaritan, by Annibal Carracci. This pic-
Carracci. .7-111 i

ture is well known m England by the en-
gravings from it: the drawing is admi-
rable, and the colours beautifully blended.
Guido. Five Apoftles together, by Guido, in his
ftrong manner : the fhadows are very dark,
and the demi-tints yellowifh,


[ '5.1

Over a chimney is a very fine drawing,
rather than a painting, by Luigi Carracci: Luig!

r <? i -r- i Carracci.

it reprefents one of the Titans under a
vaft fragment of a rock, which he is
flruggling to fuftain, in order to fave him-
felf from being crufhed to death. There
is great merit in this piece, and but few
ftrokes, but not one at random ; the touches
are thofe of a great matter.

The famous picture of St. Peter weep- Gnido.
ing, which by pre-eminence is covered with
a fine filk curtain, did not quite anfwer
my expectation : I allow that the colour-
ing, the drawing, and the anatomy are all
as perfect as poflible ; but what I fought
for I could not find, expreflion. Had I
feen this picture, without any perfon's an-
nouncing it to me, I fhould have fuppofed
it might reprefent Socrates, Pythagoras, or
Epictetus, moralizing in a defert-place, and
one of their difciples attending to, and
profiting by the precepts of the philofo-
pher ; but the keys, which are fufficiently


[ 16 ]

confpicuous, would foon have convinced
me of my error.

This young man, who is introduced by
the painter, is fuppofed to be one of the
difciples of Jefus Chrift, who feeing St. Pe-
ter go out, ftruck with remorfe, follows
him in order to comfort and confole him.

St. Peter's countenance is not expreffive
of any one feeling I mould look for, upon
the occafion of the regret and fhame he
muft have felt in confequence of his bafe
conduct : therefore I think I may with rea-
fon fay, it fails in a very principal point ;
but both Cochin and all Bologna are againft
me ; fo that I hardly dare venture my pri-
vate fentiments. This quadrofamofo is by

Guercmo. A beautiful ceiling by Guercino ; Her-
cules fuffocating Anteus : the fore-fhorten-
ing is wonderfully ingenious ; the clair ol-
fcurs dark, yet diftinct in the fhadow, and
bright and frefh in the demi-tints.

A picture


A pi&ure, by the fame, of the difmiflion Guercihdi
of Hagar. One would really think Guer-
cino had copied it from the originals them-

felves ; there cannot be a more natural and

. ,

lively picture. The noble character of
Abraham, as defcribed in the Bible, is per-
fectly well expreffed in his figure and coun-
tenance: Hagar is exactly what onefhould
fuppofe her to have been; and the little
Immael, who is weeping bitterly, has both
characters blended in his features.

Here is a very fine Crucifix in fctilpture,
but too well done in my opinion to be placed
xvhere it is. It mould decorate a chapeli
or oratory; though you know my prin-
ciples are far removed from popery, yet
I think there ought to be a fort of de-
cency and refpect fhewn to facred fubjects,
both in painting and fculpture. Was I pof-
fefled of a repreferitation of our blefled Sa-
viour's fufferings, or the martyrdoms of his
Apoftles, I mould place them in a room by
themfelves ; for I think it very mocking


'[ 18 ]

to fee a Flagellation, a Pieta, &c. forming
a pendant to a riotous debauch of wanton
Satyrs, or to the abfurd and ridiculous amours
of a Jupiter.

A St. Jerome, by Pal ma Vecchio ; this
is a curious old picture, but the colouring
is too yellow.

There are feveral more pictures in this
palace ; I faid before that I do not mean
to furnifh you with catalogues, fb have
, only mentioned thofe that pleafed me molt.
For fear of errors, I take my notes upon the
fpot, which laffureyouisoftenverytrouble-
fome, as I am frequently obliged to write
in my pocket-book ftanding, and at times
placing it on the pedeftal of a ftatue, or the
moulding of a furbafe; thefe {hewing Apart-
ments in the Bologna palaces being gene-
rally void of tables, or any convenience to
render them habitable : nor do their own-
ers frequently occupy them ; having al-
ways a private apartment for themfelves,
unornamented by pictures, ftatues, vafes,
2 c.

[ 19 ]

fac. but plainly fitted lip, and if not with
that tafte and elegance fometimes met with
clfewhere, yet tolerably well furnifhed, and

Pallazzo Monti: a beautiful Madona Jj 11 *?*


and Infant Jefus, by Giufeppe del Sole. ij
Lot and his Daughters : the daughters very
handfome, the drawing good, and the man-
ner firm and decifive; by Simon da Pefaro. Simon de
7 Pefaro.

A picture by Elizabeth Sirani, the fcholar
and miftrefs of Guido. She died at twenty-
fix years of age. The fubject is a woman
throwing a foldier into a well; it has merit,
and much of Guide's manner.

A Saint Sebaflian dead; an old wo- EHzsbetfr

, . . Sirani.

man in appearance his mother, is endea-
vouring to extract the arrows. Another
woman is feen in the back-ground, and
angels defcending, bearing palms and
crowns. It is a very interefting piclure ;
by Luce Giordano. I have reafon to think Lucca


that Cochin never faw the pictures in this
C 2 palace*

[ 80 ]

palace, from the ablurdities of feme of his

A Rape of Helen ; Ihe is not handfome;
the moft interefting part of the picture is
an epifode the painter has introduced, of an
old woman ftruggling and (creaming to the
utmoft of her power, in defence of a cafket
Chfni wn i cn a foldier is wrefting from her; this
aiu is by Carlo Chigniani. The cafket is open
and full of jewels ; his countenance exprefles
more of humour than cruelty ; her face is
as well done as poffible ; her rage and
exertions nature itfelf.

A famous picture, well known in Eng-
Oido. land, under the defcription of Generofity
and Modefty, by Guido. They here pre-
tend that a picture in the pofleflion . of
the late H. F. Efq; is a copy from this.
As I never faw the former, I can give no
opinion ; but this at Bologna certainly car-
ries with it ftrong marks of origina-
lity. There is a melioration in the co-

[ 21 .]

lours that time only can give, and an
artful blending of them, with that na-
tive grace that fo diftiriguifhes the wo-
men by this painter from all others. It is
in his grey and greenifh manner. Their
two characters are charming ; Generofity
is a more fpirited and lively beauty than
Modefty ; who has rather too much of the
Agne.s about her. I hear Mr. Strange, a
famous Englifh artift, has engraved a fine
print from this picture.

A very pretty pidture of- -a -Cupid flioot- Scholar
ing at a mark; other Cupids drawing lots faeilo.
out of a vafe ; by a fcholar of Raffaello.

A Judith and Holofernes; r fhe ; isan ugly, Cavadone.
wicked-looking, vulgar woman - ; but the
circumftance of Holofernes's blood fpirt-
ing upon the pillow is fo well done, as to
be exceedingly {hocking ; by Cavadone.

Two pictures, by Salvator Rofa ; one Salvator
the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the other of
&e Innocents; both good, but the laft has
inofl merit.

C 3 Four

Francef- Four beautiful Sybils, by Francefchini.


The blue Sybil is my favourite.

kuo? n " An old Har per after the life, by Efpag-
noletto ; extremely well done.

JLanardi- ^ pidure, by one Lanardino ; it repre-
fents the infide of a cottage, with all its
furniture, an old woman is fallen aileep at
her fpinning- wheel, down whofe bofom a
boy of a m oft arch and mifchievous coun-
tenance is conducting a moufe : the litde
animal hangs fufpended by a firing tied to
its leg ; whilft another boy is boring a
.Ss- - hole through the cover of a pot of fweet-
meats, and appears under great apprehen-
fions left the beldame fhould wake. This
picture has all the merit of the Flemifh
paintings ; the moft minute articles of
the cottage -utenfils have not been for-

In my next letter you mall have the
remainder of the palaces, and, I hope, all
the churches ; for we mean to vifit only
thofe the Bolognefe themfelves efteem moft


[ *3 J

for their paintings, &c. therefore adieu;
it is not without induilry that we can fee
two palaces a-day. I fhall not write till
fome days hence. This I mention, left you
fhould be uneafy at not hearing from me
as foon again as ufual.



Bologna, Dec. nth, 1770.

TTERE is a great packet for you. A
cold and a flight fore throat attacked
me yefterday, and obliges me to keep houfe
to-day. I have dedicated the whole cf it
to your fervice and to the arrangement of my
notes. I fmcerely regret my not being able
to write fhort-hand ; it would fave me a great
deal of time. So much ftill remains to be
faid of Bologna, that I believe you will
be heartily glad when we quit this place ;
but as you aflure me fo conftantly, in all
your kind letters, that you do not yet find
me tedious nor tirefome, I fhall continue
4 to

[ ** 3

to defcribe what I have feen to the beft of
my judgment; though I fear I am too cirr
cumflantial, and that your friendfliip pre-
judices you in my favour. * * * # .# -; *
Your approbation is an encouragement that
furmounts any fatigue, fo make yourfelf
perfectly eafy on that account.

We have vifited what remains of the
palaces beft worth feeing, moft of the
churches, and the injlituto^ &c.
ambe- T he Pith. Zambecari is adeemed the
Wt largeft in Bologna, and is one of t{ie moft
remarkable for its fine gallery of pictures.,
' amongft which the following are the beft,
in our opinion.

A St. John, full of zeal and fire ; he

feems to be faying avaunt, " Ye generation

of vipers, who hath warned you to fle

frpm the wrath to come," &c. This is by

^Jammia- a fdiolar of Guido's, one Flaminiatore. A


Guido. fine Cleopatra, by Guido. Two of the moft
simop di beautiful Cupids I have yet feen, by Simon
- ^- di Pcfaro. The whole hiftory of Efther

f as ]

and Ahafuerus, on wood, in three pieces;
by Luce D'Olanda. Although the rules of
perfpe&ive were quite unknown to this old
painter, yet he has given fo much expref-
fion to his perfonages, that one may over-
look, in a great meafure, the want of keep-
ing. In the third pannel, which repre-
fents the difgrace of Haman, the King
and the favourite are incomparably well
done; particularly their faces. A Holy
Family; a fine pidure, by Guaftello. A Guaflello.
Head of St. Francis, by Dominichino^ Domini-


Herodias's Daughter, by Lionel Spada; Lionel


A Virgin and Infant Jefus, who is ftroak-
ing a lion; the Virgin feems greatly ap-
prehenfive of the wild beaft : it is an inter
refting picture, by Palma Vecchio. A P^ima
laughing Cupid, by Francefchini. A Herr Francef-

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Online LibraryAnna Riggs MillerLetters from Italy, describing the manners, customs, antiquities, paintings, &c. of that country, in the years 1770 and 1771, to a friend residing in France (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 17)