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repeatedly express it in conversation, with that clearness and cer-
tainty which befits a mind like his, imbued with all the greatness
of the antique." — Thiersch, Epochen, p. 332.


have no representations of Minerva which go much be-
yond this ; but in one work of the highest order, the Diana
of Versailles,* Avhich may be very fitly contrasted with
the Pallas-figures, the attitude is that of humed and
eager motion, a liveliness of action not approached by
an}'' specimen which can be confidently referred to the
ante-Roman times. Now the attitude of this statue
much resembles that of the Apollo Belvedere ; the sizes
correspond as well as the style of the execution, and there
is also a striking general likeness of air and expression.
Certain it is that neither of them was designed for a
temple ; and it is a pleasing and plausible supposition,
though not capable of proof, that the two were fonned as
counterparts, and together adorned some magnificent
hall of Nero's Antian villa. The animation of expres-
sion in the face of the Apollo is not paralleled by any
representation of the god, except some busts which are
clearly copied from it ; the hasty quickness of the atti-
tude is equally in advance of all the other figures ; and
the character of the head appears to borrow details from
several other antiques, and (excepting busts) to be copied
by none. It would be equally impossible to produce
any good work of ancient times which treats a subject so
actively tragic as the Laocoon. If the Apollo is beyond
the calmness of Greek subjects, the Laocoon is as far
beyond the Apollo. It hovers on the very verge of
that extremity of action, which even modem sculpture
would shrink from treating. On the power of expression
which it possesses it is needless to say a word. The Niobe
is nearest to it in subject : let the two be compared.
Both are strong : but the strength of the one is sup-
pressed, absorbed, motionless ; that of the other is active,
fiery, uncontrolled by any thing except that fine sense
of art which Grecian minds never lost, and which even
in this later stage preserved an equipoise, contrasting
beautifully with the exaggerations of modem statuary.

* La Diane a la Biche, Louvre, No. 178. The place where this
statue was found is not known.



In the preceding sketch of the revohitions of ancient
sculpture from the age before Phidias to that of Ha-
drian, some masterpieces which still exist in Italy, and
a few which once adorned her palaces or temples, have
been incidentally named as explanatory instances. But
the Italian galleries possess many more antiques of sin-
gular excellence, and some which scarcely yield to the
best of those already specified. Certain of these cannot
be passed over, among which, although some undoubted-
ly belong to the older Grecian period, a much larger num-
ber must be assigned to the ages now under oui* notice ;
and it is conceived that by aiTanging such specimens
according to their subjects, they will be best apprehend-
ed as exponents of thought and illustrations of history
and national character.

Two things must be premised. In the first place, we
are not to believe that many of the existing sculptures
were devoted to the purposes of worship. The notion
flatters the imagination, but is unfounded. The crowds
of reliques which, after lying for centuries beneath tlie
ruins of ancient palaces, villas, tlieatres, orbasilicoe, have
reappeared to adorn the modern galleries, were in almost
every instance the ornaments of those secular buildings,
and not of temples. The list of sacred images, too, does
not perhaps include any one of the highest rank. But,
in the next place, we do severe injustice to classical art
if we adhere to the opinion, that the very best works we
possess are nothing more than copies from older and better
efforts of genius. Many admirable antiques, executed
with much skill and feeling, are doubtless copies ; but
many others certainly are not. The Niobe may be a
copy : the Venus is not one, nor is the Apollo, nor the
Laocoon. The true state of the case has been already
suggested. In the golden age of art there were conceived
ideal forms of some of the favourite objects of represen-
tation ; and the conceptions so framed, obtaining a sanc-
tion almost religious, affected all subsequent works,


which treated either the same suhjccts, or others cog-
nate to them. For the highest artists of every age
after Phidias, this was all : a fence was drawn around
certain subjects, but within the line there was ample
room for original invention. The Venus de' Medici is
a work whose inspiration was drawn from the elder statues
of Praxiteles and of Phidias, but it is one whose grace
and beautA^ are its own ; it was stolen as genius steals
from genius, it was stolen as Phidias stole from Homer.

It is surprising how little nationality Roman art
displays, and it is humiliating to discover how little
invention there is even in that small section of it which is
in any sense native. For the early legends and the later
histories of their race the people found poets and annal-
ists ; but their sternness of character, aided perhaps by
political causes, barred them from finding a sculptor or
painter even for the noblest scenes of their annals or
then- poetical traditions. The imperial achievements
adorned triumphal arches and columns with reliefs, in a
style which, notwithstanding much skill of execution
and even of design in its earlier efforts, has scarcely been
too harshly treated by being compared, in respect of its
tameness and dryness of conception, to the paragraphs of
a military gazette.

The statues of the emperors, however, of which the
series is tolerably complete, give an extremely favourable
view of the progress of sculpture, and strongly confirm
the notion of its continued excellence. The Greeks who
formed such works, wanted only the inspiration of their
own beautiful mythology, and the melancholy remem-
brance of their fallen land, to evolve such conceptions
as the most exquisite of the imaginative compositions.
The imperial statues were sometimes simple portraits,
like that of Augustus in his pontifical robes,* and many
in the military dress. Of the equestrian portraits the
most celebrated is the bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius ; a
work remarkable for the dignity of the emperor's figure,

* In the Vatican, Mus. Pio-Clement. Sala Rotonda, No. 14


and the uncommon expression of life in the somewhat
clumsy horse. This is one of the very few antiques
which have never been under ground. We find it
mentioned in the Notitia, a work written in the middle
of the fifth century of our era, at which time it stood
in the Forum near the arch of Septimius Severus, and
was called the Horse of Constantine. In 966, Pope
John XIII. hanged on it the rebellious prefect Petrus ;
and in 974 the corpse of the Antipope Boniface was
thrown down beneath it. In 1187 it was transferred to
the front of the Lateran, where it stood when Rienzi, on
his great festival, made the nostrils of the horse discharge
wine for the people. In 1538 Paul III. removed it,
under the direction of Michel Angelo, to its present
place in the square of the Capitol.* Other imperial
statues were ideal and heroic, and generally naked, a
class which is best represented by the Antinous ; and
some of these works were colossal. There are many
admired female busts and statues belonging to the im-
perial families, the most interesting of which are certainly
those of the elder Agrippina, the unfortunate wife of

Portrait sculptures of the republican times scarcely
occur. There is, however, amongst other instances, a very
remarkable bust full of character, which is recognised as
representing Scipio Africanus.:|; The celebrated heroic
statue of the Palazzo Spada in Rome, is probably (though
the point is disputed) a likeness of Pompey, and perhaps
is the figure at the foot of which Julius Caesar fell.
The best, and, it may be, the only genuine bust of Caesar
himself, is in the collection at Naples.§ As to Roman
literary men, we have genuine but not exact busts of

* Fea, Dissertazione sulle Rovine di Roma, appended to his
Translation of Winckelmann (1783-4), vol. iii. p. 410.

t Extant, if the subject is not misconceived, in several repeti-
tions ; especially in Naples, Statues, No 131 ; and in the Capitol,
Stanza degl' Imperatori.

X Capitoline Museum ; Galleria, No. 50.

§ Museo Borbonico, No. 175 ; but see the Museo Pio-Clemen-
tino, torn. vi. tav. 38.


Terence, Sallust, Horace, Seneca, and some others ; many
pretended heads of Cicero, and some true ones.*

There are a few excellent portraits of private or un-
known persons, of which the Germanicus already men-
tioned is perhaps the best as well as the oldest specimen.
Herculaneum has furnished some admirable examples
of this class. Three are in Dresden ; and the family
of the Herculanean Nonius Balbus are at Naples, and
consist of two small equestrian statues and seven figures
on foot, of which five are female.t

Portraits of eminent Greeks of elder times were either
copied after likenesses taken from the original, or formed
by invention, in a style which was sometimes extremely
felicitous. Instances of the former class are very nu-
merous. Among the best are some busts, and one or
more statues, of Demosthenes; other full lengths of Athe-
nian orators ; a very admirable statue which, on most
insufficient grounds, has been named Aristides ;X two fine
sitting figures in the Vatican, of which one is inscribed
as a portrait of the poet Posidippus, and the other, from
its likeness to known busts, is believed to represent
the more celebrated Menander.§ Of the ideal class the
grandest example is the majestic head of Homer, extant
in several repetitions ;|| and a highly characteristic crea-
tion is the Silenus-like head of Socrates, imagined by
Lysippus, and preserved in a good many busts.*!!

But in the art, as in the literature of Rome, subjects

• Cicero, in the Glypothek of Munich, No. 224; bust from the
Mattel palace in Rome, now belontring to the Duke of Wellington.

f Museo Borbonico, Nos. 65,66 ; "and Nos. 45, 47, 50, 62, 55,
57, 60.

X At Naples ; Museo Borbonico, No. 38S.

§ INIus. Pio-Clem. Galleria delle Statue, Nos. 24 and 25.

il At Naples, Mus. Borb., No. 348; and British Museum, Room
HI., No. 25. Inferior examples ; Capitoline Museum, Stanza de'
Filosofi, Nos. 44, 45, 46.

IT Capitoline Museum, Stanza de' Filosofi, Nos. 4, 5, 6 ; and else-
where. The room containing these busts furnishes many examples
of Greek portraits belonging to both the classes mentioned in the
text. See Visconti, Iconographie Grecque, 1811; tome i. pp.
49-59, 163-169.


from the authentic annals, either of their own nation
or of their Hellenic neighbours, bore a very small pro-
portion to those derived from the Grecian mythology
and legendary history.

Of the works taken from the circle of the Twelve
Olympic Divmities, the most remarkable have been
already described. The best are unquestionably the
Jupiter, Apollo, Venus, I\Iinerv^a, and Diana ; and the
origin of some of these classical conceptions has been
traced to the Phidian age or near it. It remains to
direct attention, in the first place, to a few others of
the best Venus-statues in the Italian galleries. In the
Vatican, it is enough to notice the fine Venus Anadyo-
mene, and the beautiful though injured Crouching
Venus, which bears the name of its artist Bupalus.'*
The Neapolitan Museum possesses, in the Venus Victrix
of Capua, a statue of the highest ideal beauty ;t and a
collection of figures in another room of the same gallery,
is useful as exhibiting copies, for the most part indifi^er-
ently executed, of almost every kno^^^l character of the
goddess. In the Florentme gallery, the fame of the Venus
de' Medici has eclipsed at least one very lovely figure,
— the half-draped Venus with the Diadem.:|: An equal
decline in art and in female modesty is displayed by
some existing antiques, which represent Roman ladies,
of imperial or princely rank, and of ordinary face and
form, invested with the attributes of the Venus, and not
shrinking from her exposure of the person. § Before the
idea of the Apollo reached the point developed in the
masterpiece of the Belvedere, his statues had undergone
a series of changes, which set out from a muscular and

* Braccio Nuovo, No. 42 ; and ]\Ius. Pio-Clem. Gabinetto delle
Maschere, No. 5.

f Mus. Borb. Statues, No. 104.

i In the small (second) corridor of the great gallery.

§ The Venus and Cupid of the Vatican ; ]\Ius. Pio-Clem. Cortile
di Belvedere, No. 46 ; found among the ruins of the so-called Temple
of Venus and Cupid in the vineyard of the monastery Santa Croce
in Gierusalemme, and believed to represent the wife of Alexander



manly character, illustrated hy more than one example,*
and passed after the i\Iacedonian ages into the more usual
representation of a youth who has not yet reached matu-
rity. Of the boyish forms of those later times, there are
several extremely beautiful specimens ; the best of which
are perhaps the Lycian Apollo of the Florentine gallery,
a figure of exceeding loveliness and repose ;t and the
Apollo with the Lyre and Swan at Naples, probably
in its outlines the most perfect of all the statues of this
divinity. :|: Of the sculptures representing the god in
scenes of his legend, the Apollo Belvedere is far the
most successful ; but there appear to have been many
groups of this class, none of which remain entii'e. To
such we must refer the numerous representations of
Marsyas, suspended to the pine-tree ;§ and to the same
story the most probable opinion assigns the expressive
statue of the Whetter at Florence, || an old man with
mean features and a Tartar skull, who crouches down
whetting a knife, but looking up with an air of fixed
curiosity. Of the Mercury statues, it is enough to cite
the celebrated one of the Vatican, long mistaken for an
Antinous, and equally admirable for the excellent pro-
portions of the ti-unk, and the beauty and godlike repose
of the head.^

Of the inferior divinities, the classes to which we owe
the most interesting antiques are two. The first embraces
the Bacchic legends; the second those of Cupid, the Greek
Eros. Of all the symbolical fables of ancient times, these
two cycles were at once the most profoundly significant.

* Mus. Capitol. Salonc, No, 7 (in the ancient style) ; anoliier of
similar character, but of a later period, in the same museum,
Stanza del Gladiatore, No. 17 ; found at the Solfatara near Tivoli.

t The Apollino of the Tribune.

J Mus. Borbon. : Statues, No. 72.

§ Two examples in the great gallery of Florence ; western cor-

II The Arrotino of the Tribune, called by some the Slave Vindex.
The idea in the text belongs to the Abate Fea. See note to his
translation of Winckelmann, vol. ii. p. 314.

'J Mus. Pio-Clem. Cortil? di Belvedere, No, 56.


and the most poetical. The mysteries, which in their
successive stages possessed so much of piety, of imagina-
tion, and of vice, were founded on the Bacchic traditions,
which abounded in picturesque representations of the
physical qualities of the material world. The fable of
Eros had, in its most complete form, a more elevated and
spiritual design.

And first, of the Dionysiac or Bacchic legends. The
character of the leading divinity himself, was that of
youthful, voluptuous, almost feminine beauty ; but of
the few good statues in which he appears unaccom-
panied, Italy perhaps possesses only one, besides frag-
ments.* Several antiques represent him attended by
youthful Satyrs, by Eros, Ampelos, or other mythological
personages ; and his meeting with Ariadne on the isle of
Naxos has furnished, besides pictures and reliefs, one of
the finest pieces of sculpture in Italy, the recumbent
colossal Ariadne of the Vatican, a statue equally noble
in design and execution, and belonging either to the
independent age of Greece or to the very earliest period
of the Roman sovereignty. t The other actors in the
mystic revel are more frequent than Bacchus himself.
We have already traced the formation of the figure of
the Sat3'rs, wliom the Italians called Fauns ; and to the
examples then named we must add two bronzes of the
Neapolitan collection, a Drunlcen Faun, and another
croNvned with an oaken garland,:|: together with two
statues of the Florentine galler}^, namely, a superb
Torso, and the celebrated Dancing Faun, so inimi-
table for life and grace, and so worthily restored from
its ruins. § But Italy has now lost the grandest of all

* The Bacchus of the Villa Ludovisi in Rome (generally inac-
cessible). The fine colossal Torso of the Farnese collection, now
at Naples ; M us Borb. Statues, No. 19"). Probably the best per-
fect statue is that of the Louvre, No. 154.

t Mus. Pio-Clem. Galleria delle Statue, No. 51 ; sometimes,
though wrongly, called a Cleopatra.

* Mus. Borb. Bronzi, No. 6 and No. 60.

§ The Torso in the Little Corridor ; the Dancing Faun of the
Tribune, restored by Michel Angclo.


the satyr statues, the colossal Sleeping Faun of the
Barberini gallery, a work in the very best style of art,
and perhaps belonging to the time, if not to the hand,
of Scopas or Praxiteles."^ The Silenus is not rare ; and
there are at least three masterly groups of this person-
age, carrying in his arms the infant Bacchus, all appar-
ently copies of some renowned original.t Pan belongs
to the Bacchic scenes, and is represented in some excel-
lent statues ;;j; but both he and the female votaries, as
well as the Satyrs, and the wildest and most picturesque
scenes of the Dionysiac rites, are chiefly to be sought in
reliefs. The same thing is true of the figures of Centaurs,
which in one view might be ranked in the Bacchic cycle,
while, m another, they as properly come into the class of
the legends of Eros, who, in several groups, is represented,
by a significantly poetical fiction, as taming those fierce
and anomalous beings.§

The most meritorious of the single statues of Cupid
have been abeady alluded to ; and it must be noticed,
that in many bas-reliefs, especially of the later ages,
Cupids appear in a kind of obscure allegory as genii,
represented often with extreme grace, not only in
cliildish sport, but in the games of the circus, and in a
playful imitation of all the employments of human
life. Several sleeping figures may be added to the

* In IMunich, Glypothek, No. 96. Found at Rome, in the moat
of the Castle St Angelo, into which it had probably fallen with the
other statues, which, in 637, the Greek soldiers of Belisarius hurled
down on the heads of the besieging Goths.

t The best (from the Borghese gallery), in the Louvre, No. 709 ;
Vatican, Braccio Nuovo, No. 126; Munich, No. 115, acquired,
like the Vatican statue, from the RuspoH palace in Rome.

J Pan and Olympus, in the Florentine Gallery, eastern corridor ;
the magnificent statue of the Holkham Gallery (from Italy); Speci-
mens of Ancient Sculpture, vol ii. plate 27.

§ Vatican, Mus. Pio-Clem. Sala degli Animali, No, 82; Capitol,
Salone, No. 2 and No, 4. The last enumerated is an inferior re-
petition of the famous Borghese Centaur, Louvre, No, 134. The
Capitcline and Borghese Centaurs were found in Hadrian's Villa,
and belong to his times ; and the Borghese and second Capitohne
groups are curious on account of the head, which is a close imita-
tion of that of the Laocoon, both in features and expression.


list ;* and the only other specimens deserving attention,
are those taken from the fable of Eros and Psyche, the
legend which shadows forth the soul as a lovely female
child, wandering through the eartli to seek that heavenly
love from which sin has parted her. This is an Italian
conception, though built on a Greek foundation ; the
representations of various points of the story, which are
so common on reliefs and gems, all belong to the Roman
times ; and some of the most poetical are of too late a
period to deserve notice as achievements of art. In many
of them, Eros is represented as tormenting the butterfly,
the emblem of Psyche, whose figures always have the
wings of that msect ; and in one gem he is portrayed as
hunting it, a subject which is also found in one of the
Florentine statues. In another group. Psyche kneels
to Eros, and is forgiven.i But the works which are at
once the most pleasing in composition, and the most
successful in execution, are the numerous copies of the
graceful embrace of Eros and Psyche, — a scene which
became a favourite before sculpture had altogether sunk,
and was so often repeated, that almost every great gallery
in Europe possesses an antique copy of it. :|:

Of the legends drawn from the heroic ages, none has
furnished so many works of a high order as that of Her-
cules. In statuary the most celebrated representations
are the Farnese and Belvedere figures already described.
Several groups exhibit the infant hero strangling the
serpents ;§ others show him in manhood, M'ith Telephus,
Omphale, or others. Numerous reliefs as well as paint-
ings, but scarcely any good statues, are founded on the
fables of Theseus, of the Labdacidae, of the Argonautic
adventure, and of Jason and Medea. Among statues relat-

* Two in Florence, and one in the Royal Gallery at Turin.

•f Louvre, No. 496 ; Borghese Collection.

Ij: Museo Capitolino; Stanza del Gladiatore, No. 3 One in the

Florentine Gallery.

§ A very fine colossal marble in the Gallery of Turin : a repeti-
tion of it at Florence : a bronze (No. 69) in the Museum of Naples,
which, however, is said to be only a copy made about the sixteenth


ing to others of the heroic legends, the best is the Meleager
of the Vatican ;* and to the story of the Dioscuri belong
the Florentine and other figures of Leda. From the
Theban traditions we have many reliefs, and some statues
and groups, the most famous of which is the imposing but
desperately mutilated group of the Farnese Bull, repre-
senting the tragical fate of Direct The Thessalian tra-
ditions give the Marriage of Peleus and Thetis as the
theme of the reliefs on the celebrated Barberini or Port-
land vase, a work of the time of Alexander Severus, but
distmguished by the beauty of the material, which is a
vitreous composition imitating sardonyx.:}] The same
legends introduce to us the incidents of the Trojan war,
which are common on reliefs ; and there is one supposed
statue of Achilles, with several busts. § The Sacrifice of
Iphigenia is figured on the elegant Medicean vase of the
Florentine gallery ; and the famous Iliac Table of the
Capitol represents in a series of reliefs the chief events
of the same war in their relation to the traditional origin
of Rome. 11 A group of Menelaus bearing the corpse of
Patroclus is extant in several mutilated copies, of which
the two least injured are in Florence ;^ there is another
Iragment of great merit in the Vatican ;** and a fourth
lias undergone a very singular fate, being the battered
figure which stands at the corner of the Braschi Palace
in Rome, and, under the name of Pasquin, fathers the
local witticisms of the modern

* Belvedere, Mus. Pio-Clem.: Vestibule, third division, No. 1.
Found in a vineyaa-d on the Janiciilan Mount,

■f" At Kaples. Lately removed from the garden of the Villa
Reale to the Court of Inscriptions in the Royal Museum.

X British IMuseum, Room xi. Found about 1591, vrithin s
sarcophagus in a tomb near Rome on the Frascati road. The
sarcophagus is in the Capitol (Stanza deli' Urna), and is covered
with reliefs representing the adventures of Achilles.

§ The Borghese Achilles in the Louvre, No. 144 ; a copy of
■»ery unequal execution.

II Mus. Capitol. Stanza del Vaso, No. 37.

H In the Pitti palace and on the Ponte Vecchio.

** Belved. Mus. Pio-Clem. Stanza de' Bnsti, No. 26.

ff See the Museo Pio-Clementiuo, tom. vi, tav. 19, andtherela-

VOL. I. Ji


Online LibraryWilliam SpaldingItaly and the Italian islands, from the earliest ages to the present time (Volume 1) → online text (page 18 of 35)