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from the flat roofs ::|: while these were in many places
disposed in terraces like those modem ones still so com-
mon in the neighbourhood of Naples, and were like
them converted by vines and other creeping plants
into covered walks and bowers.

The annexed plate will illustrate not only the lead-
ing arrangements of an ancient dwelling-house, but the
first and principal stages of the influence which these
have exercised on the architecture of modem Italy.
Figure I. is a ground-plan of the House wrongly called

• Mark, xiv. 15. Acts, xx. 8. Fleury, ISIceurs des Chretiens,
*:r. xiii.

t Stie2;litz, Archaologie der Baukunst, part ii. sect. 13.
I Plauti Miles Gloriosus, act ii.


that of Pansa, which is the most regular of the private
residences disinterred at Pompeii, although several
others have a greater variety of parts. Figure II. is a
similar plan of the admired Church and Augustin Mo-
nastery of Santo Spirito in Florence, which, designed hy
the celebrated arcliitect, Brunelleschi, about the middle
of the fifteenth century, was completed before the end
of the sixteenth. From the monastery to the modern
palazzo is a step much shorter than from the ancient
Roman dwelling to the monastery of the middle ages.*

The House of Pansa covers an area of about 800 feet
by 100, surrounded by streets on all its sides. The
chief entrance is by the door A, Hanked with pilasters,
and introducing us by a short vestibule into the Atrium,
which is Tuscan, paved with marble, and has in its centre
the usual basin, beyond which, at B, is a pedestal for the
altar of the household gods. The small apartments C, C, C,
on each side of the court, miay have been guest-cham-
bers, store-closets, or work-rooms for the female slaves;
and D, D, are recesses with stone seats. We shall form a
very gorgeous scene if we figure this hall and its chambers
in their original condition, with landscapes and historical
pieces painted on their walls ; while mosaics, gilding, and
marbles decorated the floors, walls, and roofs ; and statues,
flower- vases, fountains, and classical furniture, alternated
to complete the picture.t

We now quit the public quarter of the dwelling. Leav-
ing on our left the room E, and on our right the dimi-
nutive closet F, in which there is still a bedstead, we
proceed either through the tablinum G or the narrow
passage H, into the large and handsome Peristyle, which

* The house of Pansa is figured and described in the work of
Mazois, and in all the recent Enghsh publications on Pompeii.
The outline of the other figure is taken from plate 75 of the Ar-
chitecture Toscane (par Grandjean de Montigny et Famin, Paris,
1815). — In both of our figures the spaces open to the sky are left
white. The plan of the church will aid us a little when we come
to the basihcan architecture.

t See the splendid restoration, in plate 36 of Sir William Gell's
Pompeiana, First Series, 1819.


is adorned ])y a colonnade, and a basin in the central
space. The two recesses I, I, beside one of which is a
private door to the street, are similar to those at D, and
were exedrse, the usual scenes of the afternoon slumber.
The sleeping- rooms of the family were J, J; K was the
kitchen, which still possesses its stoves, while its scullery
L has dwarf walls as stands for the oil jars and cooking
utensils : and beyond these is a small court M commu-
nicating by a door with the side street. The room N is
genei-ally supposed to have been a lararium, or chapel
for the images of the household divinities ; is believed
to be an eating-room (triclinium) or saloon (cecus) ;
and P, a spacious apartment raised two steps above the
floor of the peristyle, and opening into the portico by a
large window at its farther end, is undoubtedly another
banqueting-hall. Either through P, or by the passage
Q,, we reach a covered portico of two stories, about
which parasitical plants have once been trained. It
communicates with the small bedchamber or cabinet P- ;
and through its pillars the Roman looked out on his
garden, a rectangular area of about 1 00 feet by 85, at
present a total wreck, but still showing a ruined reser-
voir in one corner. We have now surveyed those several
Compartments of the building which composed the resi-
dence of the proprietor, excepting the upper rooms,
which are all destroyed, but which certainly covered
some at least of the apartments on the ground floor.

The remainder of the edifice, represented in those
parts of the figure w^hich are distinguished by the darker
of the two shades, and are marked with numerals in-
stead of letters, was disconnected, partially or entirely,
from the owner's mansion. A small separate dwelling-
house 1, in which four female skeletons were found,
communicates with the apartment 0, and may have been
either leased out, or used as a hospitium or lodging for
visiters : the shops 2 and 8, opening into the adjoining
rooms of the interior, admitted of being occupied by the
master of the house, probably, according to the modern
Italian fiishion, for selling the wine and oil produced


on his lands. All the other external compartments ap-
pear to have been quite separated from the principal
habitation. The suites of chambers 4, 4, were distinct
dwelling-houses, probably possessed by tenants ; 5, 6, 7,
and 8, embrace together complete accommodation for a
baker's trade, including in their order a wood-cellar, a
bakehouse (with its oven, furnaces, tables, troughs, and
three handmills), a store-closet, and a shop open to that
street in which is the principal front of the mansion ;
and 9, 10, compose a smaller baking establishment. The
apartments 11 and 12 are shops, in which, as also in 3,
are staircases, formerly leading to upper rooms, probably
the dwellings of the tradesmen ; and 13, 14, and 16, are
small shops of one story, which, like almost all those
in Pompeii, have only three side-walls, the front being
quite open as in the modern Italian shops, which are
closed at night by wide folding-doors, like those of an
English coach-house.

The Coenobite Monasteries, like that in Figiu-e II.,
bear in some particulars less resemblance to the ancient
houses, than is exliibited by those belonging to the Car-
thusian and other Eremite fraternities, But the building
here represented is at once a celebrated specimen of archi-
tecture, and a good illustration of the point which it is
intended to explain.

From a side-chapel of the splendid church, a very
fine vestibule A, lined with columns, and erected by
Andrea Sansovino, introduces us into the octagonal
sacristy B, built, as well as its inner room b, by that
architect's master, Cronaca. The same passage opens
at one end into a small uncovered court C, and at
the other into the monastery, wliich has two principal
cloisters. The First Cloister D, D, planned by Parigi, is a
covered arcade, enclosing alarge paved court E, open to the
sky, and having a fountain in the midst. The poi*tico
communicates, at the side nearest the sacristy, with an
oratory F, and at the other with the wing G, G, which
contains the apartments assigned to the menials of the
establishment, for their lodging and the performance of


their duties. This quarter may he entered from the
square in front of the church by a private door leading
into the vestibule H ; beyond which, and by the un-
covered court K, the wing- is divided into two ranges,
till it reaches its terminating pomt in L, the refectory
of the lay brothers. The first cloister, touching the
church on its third side, is shut in on the fourth by an
oblong building of two stories, of which the ground
floor M is the refectory of the monks. The covered
passages mm at the ends of this edifice conduct us into
the Second Cloister N, N, which was commenced in 1564
by the famous Ammanati. The portico of this hand-
some court is formed by a Doric colonnade, whose en-
tablature is broken by three arches on each of its four
sides ; and P, the area in the midst, is laid out in grass-
plots, surrounding a fountain and pond. At one side of
this cloister is Q,, the refectory of the novices, opening
into R, a small uncovered court enclosed by a roofed
portico with columns. At the opposite side is the long
private corridor S, S, leading to the open court T and the
great staircase U, by which we ascend to the upper floor
of the buildmg M. This floor, not unlike in situation to
the ancient coenacula, contains a gallery, along which
are disposed the cells of the monks.


In Greece the masterpieces of the great artists in this
department were easel pictures ; and both vase-painting
and painting on walls, were regarded as subordinate
branches of the art, or mechanical applications of it.
In Rome, the latter alone, in which two natives, Fabius
Pictor and Pacuvius, had excelled, was ever in favour.
From the time of Augustus downwards, the art indeed
was chiefly valued in a form wliicli was just that of mo-
dern house-painting ; but to which, thus occupying the
highest place in the scale, a dexterity was applied that
has left admirable specimens.

On many vases of Greece and Italy, on the walls of
Herculaneum, Pompeii, and of some ruins on the Pala-


tine and Esquiline Mounts, and also in a few tombs in
Rome, Etruria, and elsewhere, have been preserved such
examples as leave us indeed doubtful in regard to the
precise height of excellence which called forth the admi-
ration of antiquity, but yet enable us to pronounce with
some confidence on the leading characteristics of this
path of ancient ai-t. It had much of the character of
sculpture. In those historical pieces which were its
highest efforts, the groups were simple, all placed in the
foreground, and might hare formed the subject of a
bas-relief. When backgrounds were introduced, they
were ill-executed, the linear perspective being nowhere
accurately observed, and the aerial perspective almost
entirely neglected. The objects are exhibited in a clear
broad light, with no attempt at those opposed masses of
brightness and shadow to which some modern schools owe
so much. The relief of single figures, however, is often
wonderful, especially when they are painted on dark
grounds, like the celebrated Female Dancers ; the draw-
ing is often very fine, and, where defective, is skilfully
disguised by shaded outlines ; and for grace and expres-
sion, many of the paintings from Pompeii and Hercu-
laneum, which were no more than furniture pictures of
two small country towns, are quite surprising, even
after we have allowed for the delicate taste of the nation
and the popularity of this particular branch of art.

It would be useless to enumerate even the best of those
historical, mythological, or poetical compositions, which
contribute to mal^e up the list of about 1600 ancient pic-
tures, now in the Royal Museum at Naples. The subjects
are, almost without exception, from the Greek mytho-
logy and traditions. The Sacrifice of Iphigenia, and the
Parting of Achilles and Briseis, are perhaps the most
admirable of the series ; while some Bacchic subjects,
especially the Female Dancers, and the Fauns balancing
on ropes, are almost equally excellent in design ; and
the adventures of Hercules, Ariadne, and Endymion,
with other mytliic legends, furnish many very beautiful
groups. Landscapes are rather numerous, but not very


successful, as might have been inferred from the character
of the art. They generally include buildings, and thus
approach to the style called Scenographia, which con-
sisted of architectural designs or perspective views, some-
what after the fashion of the ornaments which we see
on the outside of the modern Genoese palaces. In the
Augustan age, this artificial style became quite fanci-
ful, and formed itself into the Arabesque or Grotesque
manner, which Vitruvius so bitterly condemns, and the
moderns so warmly admire. Of this latter, introduced in
Rome by the painter Ludius, of whose architectural land-
scapes Pliny gives a lively description, we have many
fine specimens in the Neapolitan collection, taken both
from the interior of houses and from the garden- walls.

Without dwelling on the processes of the ancient art,
now lost, on which, particularly the Encaustic method, so
much has been said, it may be enough to mention, that
in no case do either the Greeks or Romans appear to have
painted in oils, even in their pictures on wood or canvass ;
and that in painting on the plaster of the walls, they
certainly used not only w^ater-colour, or distemper, in
the ordinary way, but also the fresco process, of which
some Pompeian pieces exhibit visible traces. Mosaics are
likewise not imcommon ; and although the greater pro-
portion of those found in Campania are coarse, and only
well-adapted for their purpose, as floors to entrance-
halls and the like, yet some are singularly good.

In leaving the history of the pictorial art,it maybe well
to mention the last great masterwhose name has been pre-
served. This was Action, who lived in the reign of Ha-
drian, and whose picture of the wedding of Alexander
with Roxana, so lavishly commended by Lucian, is re-
called by the subject, though certainly neither copied
nor even imitated in the design, of the curious ancient
painting called the Aldobrandine Marriage.*

* In the Vatican ; lately in the Appartamento Borgia, third
room : but understood to have been removed in the summer of 1838.
Discovered about the end of the sixteenth century on the wail
of an ancient chamber near the arch of Gallienus.

VOL. I. iM



A.u. 608—933, OR B.C. 146— a. d. 180.

We have not many names of artists belonging to this
period, and cannot, in any instance but one, peremptorily
assign existing works to persons mentioned as famous in
their own times. Most of those whose names have been
preserved came from Attica. The earliest of them, how-
ever, Pasiteles, who flourished in the last century of the
republic, was a native of Magna Grascia, and worked both
in the toreutic art and in bronze castings, attaining a
distinguished reputation as a skilful modeller. This merit
belonged in even a higher degree to Arcesilaus, who
was likewise a worker in bronze, and constructed in
that material the statue of Venus Genitrix, in Julius
Caesar's Forum. We know little as to the sculptors
of the Augustan age ; but in Nero's reign we find the
name of Xenodorus, whose colossal figure of that emperor
evinced a decay in the mechanical art of casting in
metal, which was either the cause, or more probably
the effect, of the preference the Romans gave to marble.
To the time of Titus we may safely refer the three Rho-
dians, Agesander,Polydorus, and Athenodorus, the artists
of the Laocoon ; and it is proper to close the list with these
names, since of the statuaries who executed Hadrian's
splendid designs we know almost nothing.

It is enough simply to allude to the practice of sculpture
in gems, and to the manufacture of medals and coins,
both of which departments attained, under the emperors,
a very high degree of excellence. If the best of their
medals, and the few exquisite cameos, are excelled by
any Grecian works, it is only by a very few belonging to
the Macedonian times.

The opposing theories as to the merits of statuary in
the Roman age having been already stated, we may
venture to assume, as substantially correct, the opinion
which assigns to that period a farther develojjment of
Grecian art.


The progressive changes of sculpture exliibited them-
selves in the Subject, the Expression, and those pervading
characteristics which are embraced under the somewhat
vague term " Style." Its revolutions in all these par-
ticulars in the Roman period, and its dissimilarity to the
earlier art of Greece, may be illustrated by a very few
works of the first class, which can with confidence
be set down as executed in the imperial times.

To the age of Nero belongs the Apollo Belvedere,
whose Roman origin has long been generally admitted.*
The reign of Titus gives us the Laocoon, whose date
is fixed by a passage in Pliny, too long overlooked, +
From the time of Hadrian, we have the portraits of the
unfortunate Antinous, in all their numerous repetitions
and variations.;!:

The Apollo, a statue of the heroic size, represents the
god m the moment when he has shot the arrow to
destroy the monster Python, or the giant Tityus ; or ac-
cording to another opinion, highly poetical and attractive,
it exhibits him in that scene of ^schylus, in which he
rescues Orestes and expels the Furies from the sanctu-
ary of Delphi. The victorious divinity is in the act of
stepping forward. The left arm, which seems to have
held the bow, is outstretched, and the head is turned in

" In the Vatican ; Mus. Pio-Clem. Cortile di Belvedere, No. 96.
Discovered, about the end of the fifteenth century, among the ruins
of Nero's favourite villa at Antiura.

t In the Vatican ; Mus. Pio-Clem. Cortile di Belvedere, No. 78.
Discovered in 1506 on the Esquiline, beside the ruins called the
Sette Sale. Plinii Hist. Nat. lib. xxxvi. cap. 5. The passage,
like too many others in Phny, is not absolutely unequivocal ; but
violence must be done to the test, before it can be understood as
any thing else than a direct assertion, that the three Rhodian artists
executed the group expressly for the palace of Titus, and con-
sequently during his reign. See Gerhard and Thiersch. " The
style of this work, as well as the manner in which Pliny introduces
it in his history, gives us reason to believe it was not ancient in his
time." — Flaxman, Lecture III.

J A celebrated portrait-statue in the Capitol, Stanza del Gla-
diatore, No. 6; another in the Museum at Naples, Statues, No.
392 ; a very fine Bacchus-bust in the same collection, Bronzes, No.
46 ; and others innumerable.


the same direction ; but the poise of tho body is rather
the opposite way. The whole is full of life and anima-
tion, and both in attitude and proportion the graceful
majesty of the statue is unsurpassed. The effect is com-
pleted by the countenance, where, on the perfection of
youthful godlike beauty, there dwells the consciousness
of triumphant power. The excitement of anger has just
passed from the eyes, but has left the trace of scorn curl-
ing the lips, gently inflating the nostrils, and elevating
the head and bust, and the whole glorious figure.

The Laocoon presents to us the famous scene from the
Trojan war, described by Virgil ; although, as one of the
most acute of modern critics has convincingly shov\Ti,
the sculptor, directed by the principles and limits of his
art, has departed widely from that treatment of the sub-
ject which might have been suggested by the verses of
the poet. The priest, seated on a slab or altar, and
his two young sons, are struggling in the folds of the
huge serpents, The youths, though good in concep-
tion, are indifferently executed ; and it is in the prin-
cipal figure that we perceive those qualities which make
the group the most intensely expressive of all classical
works. Indeed, both in the subject and in its treat-
ment, no piece of antique sculpture in any degree
approaches its dramatic and tragic force. It displays,
with extraordinary skill, the desperate struggle of mind
against suffering : the agony is complicated and un-
utterable, the endurance is sublime. The serpents are
writhed about the body of their victim, and one of
them bites fiercely into his left side, which quivers
and starts with the pain. Throughout the whole frame
the muscles are swollen, the nerves are convulsed, the
breath is suffocated in the breast, and the limbs rise
in their vain effort to shake off the force that chains
them. The face is raised to heaven, and over the lower
part of it protracted suffering has spread an appalling
exhaustion ; the mouth is sunk, and the nostrils in-
flated ; the eyes and eye-brows exhibit the fiercest pang
of the struggle between the firmness of the will and


agony both of body and of mind ; and on the forehead,
and over the whole aspect of the head, rests that inexpli-
cable expression of strength Avhich is the keynote of the

Antinoiis died mysteriously, probably the victim of
that gloomy superstition which strangely accompanied
general scepticism. The affection of Hadrian deified
the unfortunate and beautiful youth who had perhaps
died to save him ; and the artists filled the Roman
empire with images of the lamented favourite. He was
represented as a divinity,- in the Greek style as Bacchus,
Apollo, or Mercury, or in the fashionable Egyptian
taste, as Osu'is ; and numerous statues are either indivi-
dual portraits, or heroic and ideal embellishments of his
head and figure. Many of them possess the highest
merit, in a style of extreme and anxious finish. In
very many the likeness is striking, and the character ex-
ceedingly remarkable. The breast is broad and promi-
nent ; the face is a fine, but wide and somewhat heavy
oval ; the eyebrows are massy ; and the full lips and
the whole attitude of the figure are inspired by a deeply
elegiac air of sadness.

As to the progress of style indicated by these noble
antiques, even the uninitiated can distinguish between
the extremes of the series, between the elaborate mi-
nuteness and polish of the Antinous, and the compara-
tive ease and breadth of manner in the Apollo ; and
still more readily can they trace the change from the
severity of the Niobe to the style of the Apollo or the
Laocoon. Nicer points of difference are for the eye and
taste of the artist, or the well informed antiquary ; and
there are suffrages enough of both kinds to justify the
assertion of a progress, in the order in which the works
have now been described.

The distinction of style admits of yet another illus-
tration ; for the first sculptor of the age in which we
Live, unhesitatingly pronounces the famous Torso of
the Belvedere Hercules to belong to the imperial times,
and io resemble in style such works as the Laocoon.


This incomparable statue is a mere fragment, and much
less fitted for the uninstructed lover of the beautiful,
than for the accomplished connoisseur. From Michel
Angelo to Thorwaldsen, the first artists have regarded
the Torso with an admiration, rendered only the more
reverential by its state of ruin. The head and arms
are wanting, and the legs as far up as the thighs ; while
the breast and part of the back are much broken. In
the remains of the trunk the character has been uni-
versally admitted, since Winckelmann analysed it, to
be that of ideal divinity, — the hero after his deification.
The accidental parts of the human figure, such as the
vems, are invisible, and only the essential characteristics
of the frame are indicated. The contours are those
of gigantic, overwhelming strength ; the muscles are
powerful to a degree surpassing reality, yet flowing and
quite free from harshness ; and the proportions are
broad and massive in the extreme.*

The differences in subject and expression are more
easily appreciated, and there are ample materials for com-
parison. One short series of examples may here suffice.
Early sculpture, setting out from the sacred style of the
temple-idols, represented its figures in profound repose,
as in the Pallas of the Villa Albani : but in the colossal
Pallas of Velletri, already described, the stiffness is
broken up, the head is gently bent, and the right arm
raised ; and in later statues of the same goddess, she is
often represented in motion, and sometimes in quick
and vigorous action, as in that of speaking (the Pallas
Agoraia), or of preparing for combat (Promachos). We

* Vatican, iMus, Pio.-Clem. Vestibule, No. 1. " Thorwaldsen,
although the fact does not weaken his admiration of this master-
piece of antiquity, characterizes the style as one which, in respect
of the whole system of the muscles, and the mode of treating
them, and in respect of a sort of refinement on the most refined,
evidently belongs to the later ages of the plastic art. He has not
intimated this opinion publicly, i. e. in print ; but 1 have heard him

Online LibraryWilliam SpaldingItaly and the Italian islands, from the earliest ages to the present time (Volume 1) → online text (page 17 of 35)