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tion, a brief but moving image of all the pomp and circumstance, the horrors, the glories and vicissitudes of war. Throughout its vast extent, amidst all this seeming confusion, there reigns a secret order supreme though unobserved, giving to every object its value and distinctness, yet keeping all in due subordination to the central action of the picture; no figure is idle or superfluous, no group but has its own peculiar interest, while each is made to yield its just proportion to the grand impression of the whole. Shakspeare is so well known in Germany, and M. Passavant so partial to illustration, we almost wonder he has omitted to allude to the use which the poet has made, in the civil wars of the Roses, of the very incident which gives so touching an interest to one of the most beautiful among the accessory groups in this painting—the veteran father recognising in his “foeman's face” the lifeless features of his “ only son.” In this instance, happily, Giulio Romano appears to have scrupulously adhered to the composition of his master (M. Passavant conceives the deviations from the existing design were probably adopted by Raffaelle himself). “The colouring is cold, but the drawing is correct and the execution masterly."
Though executed at an earlier period (1515-16), we have reserved the latest place for that grand series which form the noblest monument of Raffaelle's genius, and the highest triumph of dramatic painting. Despite the disadvantage of material, the imperfect execution and faded colouring, the tapestries of the Vatican and cartoons of Hampton Court display in their excellence all the highest attributes of art. With no brilliant colour, magic lights, or elaborate finish to charm the eye and bribe the judgement, they overpower us, on the instant, with a wonder which scarcely fades beneath the ever-growing pleasure that succeeds. With no pretension to a delusive fidelity of imitation, they have yet an air of resistless reality which seems to carry us in spirit to the solemn scenes they represent, and invest them with the right to direct and enlighten our taste rather than await its decisions. While they interest the untaught mind, they astonish the most profound, awe the critic into silence, and fill the genuine artist with ever-new delight. The easy labour of a few months, these masterpieces of composition, of expression and character, of skill in drapery and grandeur in form, would require a longer period, and almost deeper study, to appreciate all their excellence and fathom all their beauty. While everything wears the air of simple nature and unstudied truth, not a figure could be added or rejected, scarce an attitude changed, an expression varied, or even a fold of drapery recast, without sacrificing something of its beauty, or perceptibly impairing the general effect.
The three cartoons which have disappeared are those of the Stoning of Stephen, the Conversion of Paul, and his Imprisonment at Philippi. For the second series of tapestries, those of the “new school," as they are called, representing events from the life of Christ, the sketches only seem to have been furnished by Raffaelle; the cartoons finished by his scholars after his death betray the general features of his composition, but preserve very little of his graceful outline or depth of character. A part of one of the most beautiful, the Murder of the Innocents, is shortly, we learn, to be added to the National Gallery.
While engaged in these larger works, Raffaelle still found time to execute, or at least to superintend, several frescos of smaller note and of generally a more decorative character. The most remarkable of these is the series of mythological subjects with which he adorned a small bath-room belonging to the Cardinal Bibiena in the Vatican. They are mostly taken from the history of Venus and Cupid, and furnish a curious specimen of the classical tendencies of the day. Those which appear to have been executed by Raffaelle himself are remarkable proofs no less of the delicacy of his taste than the rare versatility of his genius. The few that are less happily distinguished, M. Passavant attributes to Giulio Romano, or some still less gifted scholar. To the same inferior hand he ascribes the repetition of the five larger subjects in the Villa Palatina. Of the many paintings which still adorn the walls of the villa to which popular tradition, with popular accuracy, has given the name of Raffaelle, one only (that of the Marriage of Alexander and Roxana) seems entitled, by the beauty of its outline and graceful play of its humour, to claim even the honour of his design. The Martyrdom of S. Felicitas in the Villa Magliana, betrays, in M. Passavant's opinion, the
execution,-the Planets, in the Sala Borgia, the composition, of some of the more skilful of his scholars. The figures of Christ and the Apostles, which he painted in the Sala di Palafrenieri, are only preserved in the prints of Marc Antonio, and the miserable copies in the church of S. Vincenzo in Rome.
The oil-paintings to which Raffaelle devoted the rare intervals of leisure in the last few years of his life, if fewer in number, were on a larger scale and in a grander style, and showed a more masterly skill, if at times a less careful finish, than those of his earlier years. The wonderful harmony and magical tone of the colouring of the St. Cecilia (1516) are described by M. Passavant in terms so enthusiastic as hardly to bear translation into English. [It remains to this day in Bologna.] To about the same period belongs the Vision of Ezekiel in the Pitti Palace. “This small picture,” says M. Passavant, “ is “ little more than a sketch, and is often incorrect in the “ drawing; but it possesses, nevertheless, a wonderful power “ and effect. Never, perhaps, was so lofty a subject repre“ sented in so small a space, that left on the mind an im“ pression of such grandeur as this.” The same, or at most the following year, may boast the origin of a picture equal in excellence but widely different in style, as brilliant in beauty as this is sublime in its power, the most lovely mother if not the most heavenly virgin that Raffaelle ever painted, the far-famed Madonna della Sedia, the brightest gem in the unrivalled gallery of the Pitti. Fortunate as Florence may be accounted in the possession of two such treasures, Madrid is even richer in pictures of this date. Besides the splendid altar-piece called Lo Spasimo di Sicilia (from the church it once adorned), it contains the Visit of Mary to Elizabeth, the Holy Family under the Oak, and that known as “the Pearl," which once graced the splendid collection of our unfortunate Charles I., and was greeted by Philip IV. with the name it well deserves and has ever since retained. The specimens of this period in the Louvre, though more numerous, are scarcely equal in value. The Archangel Michael, the youthful messenger of heavenly vengeance, crushing with a touch the colossal deformity of Satan (which bears the date 1517), was painted by Raffaelle's own hand for Francis I. It was in return for the princely munificence of the delighted monarch, that Raffaelle, with more than princely gratitude, sent the “ Large Holy Family” to Paris. Its prevailing tint of brown seems to justify Vasari in ascribing a part at least of the execution to the hand of Giulio Romano. The smaller Holy Family (Vierge au Berceau), and the Portrait of the beautiful Johanna of Arragon, were but little later. The St. Margaret is much injured, but still bears sufficient traces of the strong hard colouring of Giulio Romano. There is a copy by him in Vienna.
Among the pictures painted during this period, in the school at least of Raffaelle, M. Passavant places the Madonna della Tenda (Munich, from the collection of Sir Thomas Baring), the Madonna dei Candelabri (recently sold, with the rest of the Lucca Gallery, in London), the St. John, of the Tribune in Florence, and several portraits.
Had Raffaelle's short career been prolonged but a few years later, it is difficult to guess to what undiscovered height he might have carried the practice of his art. From his earliest essay in the school of Perugino, to the works left unfinished at his death, his rapid progress onward scarce knew one check or change. Had it been earlier interrupted, the increasing beauty of his later works would have remained, if possibly reached by the fancy, certainly unknown to the eye. Though critics may doubt to which of the two grand pictures that were his latest works they would assign the palm, most seem to be agreed to give to each a place at the head of the respective series it closed so worthily for ever. It is, M. Passavant remarks, a curious coincidence, that Raffaelle's last representations, both of the Saviour and the Virgin, should have pictured each borne in their glory on the clouds of heaven, and “ a happy type of his own unceasing effort to raise the natural “ to the ideal, the human to the divine.”
The Madonna di S. Sisto is painted on canvass (a practice unusual at that day): for this and other reasons, Herr Rumohr has suggested that it was originally intended to be carried as a standard (drapellone) in the church processions. It is happily distinguished from most of Raffaelle's later paintings as the exclusive work of his own inimitable hand, and it would seem from all, in being painted on the instant, without a pre
vious sketch or preparatory study—“a lovely vision of the fancy thrown at once upon the canvass." The faulty drawing of the eyes is thought to be one among the many proofs of the haste with which the painting was finished, or the too close adherence to his model*.
From the time it was suspended over the lifeless form of its author down to the present day, the Transfiguration has been considered, by general consent, the first oil-painting in the world. It is only within these few years that some bolder critics have ventured to question its right to this high title. M. Passavant, who seldom mentions faults except to defend them, and is mostly silent where he cannot praise, rarely ventures on anything so precise as a comparison; but M. Platner, while he admits it to be a masterpiece of technical skill, considers it decidedly inferior to the Cartoons, as well as to the Madonna di San Sisto, in all the higher attributes of art. Raffaelle, he thinks, in this instance as well as in the Madonna del Fuligno, has aimed less at the soul than the senses; and while, by most masterly execution, powerful colouring, and a breadth of chiaro-oscuro that even rivals Correggio, he has produced a general effect almost unequalled in art; even the figures, particularly those of the apostles, are less dignified and characteristic, the draperies less beautiful, than usual.
The double action in this picture may not only be justified, M. Passavant thinks, by the Gospel history, but may even be considered, in the contrast it presents between fallen humanity and the glorified Redeemer, as forming the true moral of the whole. He would persuade us too, that, from the proper point of view, the violent action and dramatic character of the lower portion of the painting (which M. Platner considers less suited to the solemn purpose of an altar-piece than the symbolic style of more ancient art) sink into due subordination to the radiant vision above.
The immortal works we have reviewed, so varied in their several nature, so vast in their separate extent, were still insufficient to engross the mind or tame the energy of Raffaelle. Painter, sculptor and architect, he yet aspired to become the historian of his art, the guardian and restorer of the Eternal
* As M. Passavant supposes, the Fornarina. VOL. XIII.—No. xxv.