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Another chamber is filled with Etruscan vases; a third with ancient bronzes, containing all the Etruscan divinities of small size; various animals having a symbolical meaning, and a Roman eagle of the twenty-fourth legion. Also Roman altars, lamps, tripods, candelabras, with helmets, spurs, and bits; the ornaments of Roman ladies in rings, buckles, bracelets, &c. of gold, and a lady's lookingglass, supposed to be composed of mixed metal, and polished. By the bye, this latter was not very bright. There are also, ancient locks, and hinges, and kitchen utensils in pots, and pans. It contains further a most curious lamp, supposed to have belonged to the primitive Christians, in form of a ship, with St. Peter at the stern. Above the mast is inscribed Dominus legem dat (The Lord giveth the law). And here, further, is a curious manuscript on wax, specifying the expenses incurred by Philip le Bel, of France, during one day when he made a journey in the year 1301.
Among the larger statues in this room is a noble Minerva, though perceptibly damaged by fire; an Etruscan Orator; admirably executed; dug up near the Lake Thrasymene; and a Chimera, with the head of a lion, that of a goat growing out of his back, and with the tail of a serpent.
Amidst other sculptures, Michael Angelo's unfinished head of Brutus will attract attention from the recollection of the lines, and the wit, excited
by opposite sentiments. Some one thus wrote under the imperfect head:
Dum Bruti effigiem sculptor e marmore ducit,
This head of Brutus the sculptor would have done
An Englishman, Lord Sandwich, replied,
Brutus' head the artist left ere scarce began Because no art could show the greatness of that man. In one of the chambers are three large tables, two of them are of the richest, and most beautiful, Florentine Mosaic conceivable. This species of art is termed Opera di Commesso, or Opere di Pietre Commesse; and these tables are wrought into the most glowing, vivid, and diversified, representations of flowers, birds, fruit, foliage, crowns, &c., tastefully arranged;-by means of minute pieces of the finest marbles, intermixed with small spars, and gems. The Grand Duke is a great encourager of this beautiful species of art: he has many of these tables at his palace, and at the manufactory which I have inspected, viewing the whole process, the polishing of the natural stone, the sawing it into certain forms according to a previous drawing, and finally inserting the minuter pieces, and gems, in their proper places, there is here a table just finished for H. R. H.
which has occupied three years' labour, and has cost above 20007. sterling, and yet the design is simply that of four antique vases upon a green base, with a border of opals. Some tables in the Museum are worth an almost incredible sum: they are estimated at more than 10,000l. a piece.
In two other chambers are a series of portraits of almost every painter of note of every age and nation, painted by their own hands; among the latest I noticed our own admirable artist, Harlowe, with whom I was intimate. They are certainly very interesting. The Hon. Mrs. Damer's bust by herself is also here.
In another room is the famed Medicean Vase, presumed to have been executed in Greece at the period of Alexander the Great. The story sculptured in basso-rilievo represents the sacrifice of Iphigenia, who is seated, mournfully expecting her hapless doom, before the altar of Diana. warriors are supposed to represent Achilles, Ulysses and Menelaus. Devonshire has ordered a copy of expense of 500%.
Four of the Agamemnon, The Duke of this vase at an
In the second chamber of these portraits is the celebrated recumbent Hermaphrodite. So exquisite is the finish, and so natural the sleep, of this ambiguous beauty, that the lines already quoted, written upon Michael Angelo's Night, would, I think, be much more appropriate here,
Cabinet of Gems.
I must draw my account of this Museum to a conclusion, and therefore will only record two more pictures out of the large collections of the various schools, with one other gallery.
A Marine View introducing the Villa de' Medici by Claude, the figures by Filippo Lauri. Here is a picture of magic. All the objects are equally grand, and animated. I gazed till I fancied I could inhale the warm, delicious air shed around, and see the bright sun-beam, dancing on the liquid
The other is a picture of terror. Leonardo da Vinci's Head of Medusa. Exquisitely finished, and owing its wondrous horrors to the study of the young artist amid the hideous, living monsters; a reclining head with innumerable venomous, hissing, serpents in place of hair, surrounded by toads, and poisoned asps, while from the mouth may be seen to issue the foul malignant pest.
The Cabinet of Gems comes next. Supported by four columns of Oriental Alabaster, and four of Verde Antique, and containing six armoires full of the richest gems, and jewels, wrought, and introduced, in various forms, and cut with a perfection as valuable as the gem itself.
Small columns of Sienna Agate having capitals of Rock Crystal, embellished with Topazes, Turquoises, &c. Vases of one entire piece of Lapis Lazuli-of Sardonyx, or Blood Stone, &c. One of
Lapis Lazuli is nearly 13 inches in diameter. A Rock Crystal Coffer wrought with scriptural subjects. An enamelled figure of Cosmo II, in a golden robe kneeling before an altar; having mosaics of the rarest marbles, the crown, and altar, with other ornaments, formed of the most precious stones. A small cup composed of a single emerald. A little dog formed of one pearl. A bust of a warrior wrought in gold, the head cut out of one jewel. Hercules killing the Hydra, formed of jasper, and pearls. A portrait of Tiberius wrought out of one Turquoise. These are a few of the dazzling, though certainly very unimportant, rarities of this Sanctum Sanctorum.
As the Gallery presents a series of paintings representing the art from its earliest dawn to its latest refinements, in one of the corridors may be seen scriptural subjects painted by some Greek artists as far back as the thirteenth century. These stiff, angular, unmeaning, representations of the Virgin, and Child, are much the same, the one as the other, for in those dark days the very posture, and mode of painting the divine Jesus, as an infant, and his mother, were prescribed and regulated by the monastic ritual. The illusion of representing life upon canvass was not thought of, or not attempted, and labour was thrown away, and more attempt at a silly effect was shown by giving a gold ground to the picture, and introducing bespangled draperies, and gilt borders.