« PredošláPokračovať »
Alexandrian are also on fine but lighter coloured-cornelian and sardonyx.
Thus we have the idea of Pikler completely worked out, excepting the series of early Egyptian art. The stones on which the subjects are engraved are the very same as those collected with so much diligence by the antiquarian who first employed him, and the subjects are for the most part composed from ancient remains, whether intaglios, cameos, rilievi, or paste impressions of gems, in accordance with Pikler's views. As it would require many engravers, however skilful, to execute in a given time so extensive a work, we must conclude, that under his general superintendence or advice Prince Poniatowski had by far the greater number of the subjects engraved by the principal artists of the time. That Giovanni Pikler engraved a considerable number of them, particularly of the smaller specimeffs, entitled from their settings, rings, no one who has compared them with known works of that great master can have any doubt. The figure of Hygeia is as similar in feeling and execution to the Urania in the British Museum, as two pictures by Teniers or Wilkie. The head of Apollo is worthy of the Periclean age, and is stamped by the manner in which the hair is executed as his work in his finest time and manner*. We suspect that most of the gems signed Gnaios are the choicest works of Giovanni Pikler, as they rank incontestably as the finest in the collection. That some mystery, yet unveiled, hangs over the subject, no one conversant with the matter can doubt, and Rossi evidently
* “Il maggior numero delle opere del Pikler fu quello delle inventate da lui, ma egli non serbò di tutte gl' impronti. La sua mente era fecondessima; quindi il dargli l'argomento di un'opera, e il vederne prontamente disegnata da lui composizione era un punto solo. Di rado avveniva, che dovesse rimoversi dal suo primo pensiero; ma quanto era pronto nell'immaginare, altrittanto era diligente nello studiare, e digerire un' opera; e disegni, modelli, osservazioni sull'antico, e sul vero precedeano sempre i suoi lavori. Quando questi sono di sua invenzione, vi si riconosce, che al gusto antico tentava di unire una certa vivacità, che nasceva dalla sua pittorica-fantasia; e si ravvisa ancor qualche volta, che avea attentamente appresi quei moderni canoni di disposizione nelle figure, che da alcuni (con istrana confusione di termini) leggi di composizione vorriano chiamarsi. Si conosce perciò, ch'egli osservava molto la contraposizione delle attitudine, e dei panneggiamenti. Nelle pieghe di questi imitava assai l'antico, come nelle graziose, e nobili acconciature dei capelli. Le sue figure ignude piu belle sono quelle di donna, che solea disegnare, ed intagliere con ottima scelta di forme, e somma delicatezza. Anche nelle figure robuste riusceva felicemente per la singolare intelligenza, che avea, del disegno."
refers to something hitherto unexplained*. Pikler had pupils capable of executing many of the designs of this collection; among them Bartolomeo Garavini, Camello Selli, Angelo Massagoli, and his brother Luigi Pikler. Those in the collection, and they are numerous, which have every mark of the handling of Luigi, are characterized by want of feeling in the extremities; the hands and fingers and the articulations of the joints being badly drawn and without meaning, the noses being too large and without diversity of character. The copy of the Dirce by Luigi in the possession of Mr. Emmerson is so similar in style and handling to those we have mentioned, that there is every appearance of their identity. The Etruscan of the first class are little more than vigorous sketches, with so much sameness in the conception, attitudes and handling, as to leave a very strong impression on the mind of their having been executed either by one hand, or in some studio from sketches by the head of it. That series has given us the idea of a caricature of the Etruscan style, and is not unaptly put in juxtaposition with the humorous outlines composed of three lines with a dot for the head. Among the female figures we think that specimens of Marchant and Birch are to be selected, and among some of the inferior may be discerned the work of Claus and Smart. A great number appear, from the similarity of contour and feeling, to have been designed, if not wholly executed, by Giovanni Pikler, and are distinguished for grace, beauty, freedom and repose.
In so extensive a collection there must be many degrees from that which is common-place and bad to the highest excellences of art. Had they been the works of the Greek artists whose names they bear, they must have shown a greater variety in expression and conception. The works of sculptors and painters are stamped with the character of the artist, modified by the general feeling of the age in which he flourished. The boldness and precision of Phidias are essentially different from the exquisite refinement
* “ Trovansi nella serie de suoi impronti varie opere sue, che hanno avuto il nome di antiche, colla prova vicina dell'impronto cavato dal bozzo. Restano però presso la sua famiglia autentiche prove di moltissimi suoi lavori reputati antichi. Il tempo forse farà, che vedano la luce, e servano a discoprire molte verità."-Rossi, p. 44.
and elegance of Praxiteles; the grace and sentiment of Raffaelle da Urbino are very different from the expression and laboured conception of Albert Dürer or Van Eyck; the simplicity and force of Homer differ materially from the polished style and tasteful imitations of Maro; the pointed quaintness of Chaucer, with all his beauties, bears no resemblance to the euphonious and high imaginings of Milton. The same differences really exist between the works of the great gem-engravers, as may be learnt by consulting the impressions of the most celebrated cabinets, or the collections of Tassi. In this collection the greater number are similar in conception, style of execution and feeling, a fact obvious to the most common observer, and which, being at variance with what we observe in other branches of art, adds to the conviction, that this collection has been made and engraved under the direction of one mind. It may be justly considered the most numerous cabinet ever brought together, and a curious specimen of the state of gem-engraving in the eighteenth century. Should an authentic list ever be obtained of the artists, the value of the collection as a whole would be greatly increased, and render them worthy of being deposited in some national museum. Now they can only be deemed an extraordinary collection, illustrating without explaining the mythology of the Greeks, and the classic poets. They may be considered as keeping alive the art of gem-engraving, without having advanced it in either conception, expression, drawing, force, or feeling, and rank in the branch of art to which they belong with the series of Napoleon medals in the numismatic class. Casts from them might advantageously be placed in public and private museums, and would prove useful to artists and an amusement to amateurs; as a whole they can only be considered by the connoisseur as marking a peculiar æra of the art, though from among them many works might be selected worthy of being placed by the side of Grecian gems of undoubted authenticity.
1. Die Verfassungen der Cantone der Schweitzerischen Eid
genossenschaft. Von THOMAS BORNHAUSER TROGEN,
1833. 2. Rapport de la Commission de la Diète aux 22 cantons sur
le projét fédéral. 3. Des Droits et des Intérêts des Etats Suisses. Neuchatel,
1836. 4. Politische Annalen der Schweitz. Von Eschen. Zurich,
1838. 5. Der Kampf der liberalen Katholischen Schweitz gegen das
Papesthum. Von LUDWIG SNELL.
SWITZERLAND being commonly regarded as a country of slight importance in European politics, very little attention is paid in other countries to the present state of her national and public relations, difficult as they are to be comprehended by foreigners in consequence of their peculiarity and great complication. Yet they exhibit a most interesting political picture, which is well worthy of review. The Swiss confederation, with twenty-two or rather twenty-five nearly independent little states, agitated by political and religious parties of every description, may be looked upon as a card of all sorts of political patterns, on which the statesman or politician can hardly fail to witness the practical working of any question by which the mind of men is set in motion in our age. Men and their passions are everywhere the same, whether the circumstances and connexions in which they move are of a wide or narrow compass. Since 1798, when the old confederation was overthrown, Switzerland has become the most productive of revolutions of all countries save South America, and her affairs have taken such a turn, that her political condition either must undergo a thorough reform, or the time is perhaps not very distant when she will have ceased to exist altogether as an independent state.
Before the year 1798, the thirteen cantons, with their allies
and subject territories, of which the confederation consisted, displayed the most singular mixture of institutions, resem bling an ancient edifice, whose manifold parts form a patchwork of the opposite tastes of different centuries. The Swiss states were leagued, not by a single federal compact, but by nearly as many treaties as there were members of the confederacy. The spirit of those ancestors, whose virtue and vigour had given existence to Swiss freedom and independence, had vanished. The political condition of Switzerland was worse than that of any other country of the Continent; the people oppressed, the cantons hostile to each other, and the confederation frail and rotten in the extreme. The confederacy was kept together less by intrinsic national power than by the jealousy of surrounding neighbours. The history of Switzerland from 1798 to 1803, exhibits nothing but discord and perturbation, and shows the whole decay; and the confederation would have shared the fate of the old German empire but for the intervention of Napoleon and his act of mediation. The Swiss had no longer the national strength to become themselves the founders of a new era in their history. As the destruction of the old union and cantonal governments was achieved in 1798 by revolutionary France with the assistance of the Swiss democrats, so was the restoration of 1815 effected by the allied powers with the help of the aristocrats. The compact of 1815 offered many advantages over the state of things before 1798, by furnishing a somewhat stronger federal link than was ever possible under the old leagues. The diet alone was made competent to enter into alliances with foreign powers, and it was enacted that in such cases the united will of three-fourths of the cantons should bind the dissentients. Through the efforts of La Harpe of Lausanne, the friend of the emperor Alexander, Vaud, Thurgovia, Argovia and Tessin, which districts, being only subject territories without political rights before 1798, were the principal seat of discontent and a source of discord amongst the cantons, retained their independence as free members of the confederation; and the Grisons, St. Gall, Valais, Geneva and Neufchatel, which before 1798 formed allied territories, became united as cantons. But on the whole the confederation resumed its former character. With the exception of the exclusive right of the diet