Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

ERRATA.

Page 22, line 21, for Claverius read Cluverius.

29 15 of grandeur read of their grandeur. 112 29 – give read gives. 266 4 cæsis read cæcis. · 301 note, line 1, read Syracusas elegerat.

354, line 28, for pepeypevny read replylevov.

THE

CLASSIC AND CONNOISSEUR

IN

ITALY AND SICILY.

VILLAS

Alta parabat
Culmina villarum, Græcis longèque petitis
Marmoribus, vincens Fortunæ atque Herculis ædem.---Juv.

THE different villas on the outskirts of modern Rome have been noticed as one of its characteristic beauties, as well as one of the principal features of its resemblance to the ancient city, the environs of which seem to have been studded with similar retreats. Though these villas may be reckoned among the consequences of the rapacity of ministers of state and the extortion practised by papal families, who, during their temporary elevation, strove to enrich themselves at any rate - for most of the great villas are the work of a few cardinals -- yet on contemplating the elegance displayed in their decorations, it must be admitted that wealth has seldom been more tastefully employed. “ While the eminent founder was

[blocks in formation]

squandering thousands on a statue, he would allow but one crown for his own dinner. He had no children, no dogs, no stud, to keep. He built, indeed, for his own pleasure, or for the admiration of others; but he embellished his country, he promoted the resort of rich foreigners, and he afforded them a high intellectual treat for a few pauls, which never entered into his pocket. This taste generally descended to his heirs, who marked their little reigns by successive additions to the stock. How seldom,” continues Forsyth, “ are great fortunes spent so elegantly in England! How many are absorbed in the table, the field, or the turf; expenses which centre and end in the rich egotist himself!”

Villa BORGHESE.— The grounds of this villa are agreeably diversified by hill and dale; but though embellished with casinos, temples, grottos, aviaries, modern ruins, sculptured fountains, a lake, an aqueduct, a circus, and studded with an infinity of

Statues growing that noble place in,

All heathen goddesses most rare;
Homer, Plutarch, and Nebuchadnezzar,

All standing naked in the open air

yet do they err, after all, on the side of formality. Here and there, indeed, we see scattered that peculiar feature of a Roman landscape-the stone pine-whose umbrella shaped head, thick and dark, yet tipped with lively touches of green, and borne on a lofty palm-like stem, produces a very picturesque effect; but the clipped hedges of ilex, and the rectilinear walks, give this villa too close a resemblance to those monotonous pleasure grounds where, as Pope expresses it,

Grove nods at grove, each alley has a brother,
And half the platform just reflects the other.

The fronts of the principal casino still serve as frames for a variety of ancient relievos; but the interior, which once boasted a collection of busts and statues such as the whole world could hardly match—the Gladiator, the Silenus, the Hermaphrodite, “ each supreme in its own saloon, and encircled with subordinate statues and paintings related to it”-has long been stripped of its choicest treasures. The more exquisite of these antiques were surrendered by the prince in exchange for the vice-royalty of Turin, and now grace the halls of the Louvre. The David, and the Apollo and Daphne, two works of Bernini's, still remain. The David is represented at the moment when he is placing the stone in the sling: the body is bent, and rests on one leg, that he may hurl the stone with the greater force. The statue has an air of buoyancy and lightness about it, but its position, if not unnatural, is such a one as could be retained only for a moment.

The Apollo and Daphne is one of the earliest and best of Bernini's performances. The figure and posture of Daphne present all the lightness which we associate with the idea of a young and delicate girl in the act of flight. Her uplifted arms are still advanced before her, while the transformation is even now going on; the bark

« PredošláPokračovať »