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also Seaton, who was a remarkably quick workman, and whose light sketches were sold as Etruscan works. So little encouragement was given in England to those men who evinced a predilection and talent for this beautiful art, that they passed most of their time in Italy.
Marchant was superior in execution; he seldom left the limits of a mere copyist : but the few works he completed excite regret at his want either of energy or ambition, as they are characterized by pathos, taste, and truth of expression. The head of Alexander the Great dying, comprises all the characteristics. A figure of a Vestal Virgin is marked by refinement of sentiment, and the style of workmanship is delicate, (free, simple, broad and certain, and so admirably adapted to the subject, that the repose of the design is maintained, while the freedom of the master's hand is evident. His Destroying Angel is imitated from the Heliodorus of Raffaelle da Urbino. The head of the Apollo Belvidere is pronounced by competent judges to be the finest copy ever made of that statue on a gem.
Wray is distinguished for his head of Cleopatra expiring, which is preferred even to Marchants Alexander : that work and Ethoda place him among those who felt the beauties, and followed the style of the masters of the Periclean age.
Birch is well known among connoisseurs. The Garden Nymph is worthy of any engraver of any age; in that gem the artist has successfully grappled with the most difficult workmanship, combined with most refined and bold execution.
The figure is represented sitting, and screening some flowers with her drapery; the contour is graceful, the expression of the face very lovely, and the whole composition replete with beauty. His figure of Hercules, as a specimen of anatomy-it is represented without the skin-is bold and curious, proving the command he had over his tools. The medallion beneath the figure is, perhaps, the most minute workmanship known; it is evidently introduced to show the extremes of muscular energy and decision of execution, and most minute and finished detail.
Frewin was not only an admirer of the great masters of his art, but a worthy emulator of their merits. Among the finest of his works is Hebe feeding the Eagle of Jupiter. Brown has produced many works of great beauty. Pyrrhus when young brought before Glaucus is composed with all the learning of Poussin, and a proof that in execution he had no fear of competing with the greatest masters of his art. The Cimbrian soldier about to assassinate Caius Marius, and Cleombrotus when in exile with his wife and son, are of a similar class. The handling of this master is perhaps rather too careful and timid, which diminishes the spirit of his work; but notwithstanding that defect, he was evidently deeply versed in the art. Having now fairly introduced our readers to the subject, we must speak of the catalogue and collection Des Pierres Gravées Antiques de S. A. Le Prince Stanislas Poniatowski.'
We at first thought that the word antique was not to be understood in its usual acceptation ; but our supposition was overthrown by the authors of the catalogue :-“Il y a « des personnes qui croyent qu'il ne peut s'être conservé “ un aussi grand nombre de pierres executées par les mêmes s et les plus grands artistes. Il n'y a à cela de meilleure “ réponse que le fait même. Examinez, comparez, et voyez “ quels sont les ouvrages qui pourraient être inventés, exe“ cutés ou même copiés avec la même hardiesse et finesse “ d'art.” To postulate what requires exact proof proves incontestably the hardiesse of the postulator; but it may be much questioned if it shows his finesse. This collection “est “composée de deux mille six cent-une pierres comprises dans « l'index, qu'on a toutes les raisons de croire authentiques et “non alterées ; mille sept cent trente-sept sont avec nom d'ar“ tiste, et beaucoup sont avec les noms des quatre graveurs “cités par Pline, Pyrgothèle, Dioscoride, Apollonide, et Chro“mios, d'autres avec noms de graveurs qui étaient jusqu'à “ présent tout à fait inconnus; et un complet de portraits “ auquel il parait n'en manquer aucun d'homme illustre de tout “ genre qui mérite d'y avoir place. La manière avec laquelle “sont executés ces portraits assure leur authenticité.
“On voit réunies mille deux cent trente-cinque pierres de “ grande dimension, montées en médaillons, qui, excepte vingt “ camées, sont des gravures en creux, toutes avec noms d'ar“ tistes. Ces sont des ouvrages classiques, et qui, plus qu'aucun “ autre genre de monumens, donnent l'idée vraie du degré de
"perfectionnement auquel les arts étaient parvenus chez les "anciens.”—Preface, xv.
This vague account concludes with a sentence quite worthy of what precedes it :-“Quant à la collection dont suit l'in“dex et le catalogue, elle a été formée de manière, que le soin “de la compléter n'a jamais été séparé de l'attention de n'y “placer que ce qui était indispensable, et d'en borner autant “ que possible le nombre.” The foregoing is the only history, if such it may be called, of this extraordinary collection. The literary man or men hired by the Prince Poniatowski to write this stuff, must have been either reckless of truth, or amusing themselves with making one of the boldest attempts on public credulity upon record.
We are called on to believe, upon the equivocal language of this anonymous writer, that there has been suddenly brought to light the greatest collection of engraved gems which exists or ever did exist, and that these gems are authentic; that twelve hundred and twenty-five have the names of the artists engraved by their own hands on them, and that from their execution there can be no doubt of their being genuine ancient Greek engravings. That such a collection should have escaped the researches of Stoch, Mariette, Milin, Valerio Vincentini, and a host of other men who ransacked every corner of Europe in search of ancient engraved gems, is rather singular ; that so great a collection should have remained entire is equally surprising. They were not compiled from other cabinets, as the catalogues of these would show what were missing from them, and if added to the Poniatowski collection, the etchings would at once point out the subject. This not being the case, excepting in a very few instances, and in those few the original ancient gems being still in the celebrated cabinets from which the etchings have been made, (and, if any one should have belonged to a dispersed cabinet, its transit and present place of rest are as well known as those of the Venus dei Medici or the Apollo Belvidere,) we see at once that those repetitions in the Poniatowski collection are mere copies from casts or etchings. It must also be observed that the gems in this vast collection are all uninjured, not a chip is to be seen on any of them, no barbarian finger has ever attempted to mutilate one of them;
VOL. XII.—No. xxv.
they are as perfect as the first hour they left the engraver's hands. To find so extensive a cabinet of antique gems quite perfect is very singular! The enthusiastic virtuoso might, by an effort of imagination, suppose this collection to be the very same that was made by Mithridates and deposited by Pompey in the Capitol; or, considering its numbers, the collections of Cæsar, Marcellus and Marcus Scaurus fortunately united and more miraculously preserved. There are some slight difficulties with regard to time, which may perhaps be explained by the shrewd compilers of the Prince's catalogue; we select one at hazard. The gem-engraver Admon is said to have lived long before the age of Pericles. If we suppose that it was just before that age and about 450 B. C. that Admon flourished, we are brought into a little difficulty when we are told that this Admon engraved a subject described by Virgil, who was born about 70 B. C., unless we at once take it for granted that Admon attained a patriarchal age, and engraved it when he was about 420 or 430 years old *. Similar peculiarities occur at every step, till we are driven to the supposition that the ghosts of Scylax, Heius, Polygnotus, Plotarchus, and a crowd beside, met Virgil and Ovid in the Elysian fields, and there amused themselves with sculpturing subjects recited from their poems; which have since been thrown up by some subterraneous explosion and discovered, all uninjured, in a bog in Poland to be now for the first time exhibited to an admiring world through the agency of an exiled Polish prince!
Only one gem by Admon, No. 1, Stoch, Hercules Bibax, was known before the discovery of this collection, but in it are a few dozens attributed to him, so that henceforth there will be no difficulty in describing the style and execution of that master. Gems by Polygnotus are as numerous as sketches now a day by H. B., and the rare and beautiful works of Dioscorides are made by this collection as common as the adventures of Mr. Pickwick. Among other convincing proofs of the authenticity and genuineness of this collection which will weigh with every real connoisseur of Greek workmanship, must be noted the admirable manner in which the masters of different periods selected the same kinds of stones on which to engrave subjects of a subsequent age, the style of which accords with that of a more remote antiquity, so that the subjects are of one age and the style of another. The Poniatowski collection may boast of having a series of the first period of Etruscan art on amethysts, a stone very common in Etruria, or easily procured in those early days of steamers and railways from the East. The second period of Etruscan art is tastefully adapted to the white agate, and the gems are for the most part engraved by the artists of the Augustan age; at least so we conclude from finding on them the names of the Greek gemengravers who were in Italy at that time, but who were not Etruscans of a few hundred years' prior date. How this slight discrepancy happened we are not informed; but naturally suppose that it arose “ de l'attention de n'y placer que ce qui était indispensable" (Cat. Pon. Preface). Another portion of the collection, purporting to consist of a few hundred perfect examples of early Greek art, are on very deep-coloured stones, a peculiarity of the period not mentioned by Pliny from Apelles, nor even hinted at by Diodorus; but now, for the first time, made evident from the series in the Poniatowski collection. Why, as is the case, gems of the Periclean age should be on dark cornelians and sardonyxes, the compilers of the Poniatowski catalogue do not trouble themselves to inform us. The ancient heathen historians, not being prophets, have not favoured us with any reasons for that peculiarity.
* No. 73. “Enée au moment de tuer Mézentius qui lui demande en grace d'être enfermé avec son fils Lausus dans un même tombeau."'--Admon, Gr. Corn. Orient. Medallion.
No. 79. “Métabus poursuivi par les rebelles passe à la nage l'Amasène ; sur la rive opposée on voit la lance à laquelle est attachée Camille."-Admon, Gr. Cornaline Orient. M. Cat, Pon., p. 98.
Having, we trust not ill-naturedly, shown the utter impossibility of this collection made by Prince Poniatowski being authentic and genuine works of the Greek artists whose names are sculptured on the gems, we must try and show to what age and to what engravers they belong, and then speak of them as mere works of art, without reference to any names, real or spurious.
It must be observed, that this great collection consists of a complete series of subjects illustrating the Greek mythology from the birth of the giants from the blood of Uranus,