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Il Gabinetto Fisico.
The series of busts of the Roman Emperors, with their wives and daughters, is esteemed very valuable, and extend from the age of Julius Cæsar to that of Constantine.
The Gabinetto Fisico is under the same roof with a collection of preserved birds, beasts, fishes, insects, minerals, &c. &c. Here are a suite of chambers, containing a complete museum of imitative anatomical preparations, all in wax. science, and surgery, such an exposition is desirable; but, to my eyes, this exhibition of the human body cut up, opened, and shown with all its viscera, &c. &c. is sickening,-male and female, without reserve, and in every section, shown to the life and to the bone by the closest imitation in coloured wax a portion of the rooms is appropriated to the display of all the mysteries of nature throughout the entire process of gravidation; while the whole is calculated to make one shudder, and almost dread to make a single motion for fear of disarranging so intricate a machine. I thought of the words of the Psalmist-" We are fearfully, and wonderfully, made."
This museum is or was under the direction of the Chevalier Felici Fontana. A Sicilian of the name of Zumbo was the first to imitation of human anatomy.
adapt wax to the
Besides this of
which I have been speaking, there is a famous representation of the progress of the Plague on the
The Plague in Wax.
249 human frame, done in wax, likewise, on a small scale. This room is not commonly shown, or open like the others. It was executed by the Abbate Lumbo, in the time, and by the orders, of the Medici.
Three cases represent first, the feebleness, the horrors, and the anguish, with the despair of the unhappy victim when seized by the incipient pest: -the second, the commencement of putridity, and corruption, when hurled into the common charnelhouse--the third, the last stages of putrefaction, the bursting of the body; the dropping off of the limbs; the tarantula and the rat gnawing at the entrails; the mushroom, and the worm created and fed by human corruption!
The 16th and 17th have been occupied in ranging through the state rooms of the Grand Duke at the Pitti Palace, the value of whose collection of pictures may be somewhat estimated when it is known that the French despoiled it of no less than between sixty and seventy which they carried to the Louvre, but which are now restored to their royal owner.
Of Salvator Rosa there are several. One very large painting represents a battle. This artist, so sublime, and terrible in his conceptions, and so energetic in his executions, can bring the spectator into the midst of the very scene he represents, or elevate his soul to those nameless conceptions which the pencil cannot paint, though it may excite them,
and which the heart alone can feel.
Herein is the very essence of the art;-the technical labours of chiaro 'scuro, effect, finish, contrast, &c. are manual;-the energy of passion, the soul, the poetry of painting, are neither to be taught or acquired: -to paint them is first to feel them.
To return from my digression. This battle has all the awful horrors, and confusion, of such a scene. It may be long gazed upon, and still furnish food for the imagination. By the same hand, are some matchless, glowing, waving, sea pieces. Two splendid landscapes of Rubens; his own portrait with his brother's and the two philosophers, Grotius and Lipsius: also his large painting of the Devastations of War, are among the best pictures of this spirited artist, whose conception, and execution, seem equally, and so surprisingly, ready and felicitous. Here, besides, are Michael Angelo's Fates, the three Weird Sisters, like the witches of Macbeth
"So wither'd and so wild in their attire
That look not like the inhabitants of the earth,
For a contrast of grace and form, take Giulio Romano's Apollo dancing with the Muses. Here further are some very fine productions by Cigoli, particularly an Ecce Homo: Portrait of Salvator Rosa by himself: Raphael's invaluable Holy Families, La Sa Famiglia detta dell' Impannata;
and his Madonna della Seggiola. The wonders of this latter picture consist in the maternal tenderness, and dignity, that beam in the eyes, and beauteous face, of the Virgin as she seems to strain her divine, and playful, infant in her arms; while the little St. John, with his arms so unaffectedly clasped, seems replete with mild, and innocent, devotion. So famed is this work of art, that, I believe, almost every engraver of note has attempted to perpetuate it. Here is also this artist's famed portrait of Pope Julius II.
One other painting there is of which I may attempt a description, but cannot give any adequate idea-Guido's Cleopatra, a demi figure of the beautiful Queen applying the fatal asp to her bosom, So struck was I with this picture that, much as I have said of Titian's Venus, perhaps this surpasses it. Her lovely head, uplifted to the skies, she seems to contemplate, so soon to attain, is bound by her dark tresses, still, as ever, tastefully arranged. A light shade is thrown over the throat, and part of the bust, the rest is alabaster; so fair that one might worship it; so round, and real, that one may fancy its palpitations. The effect is produced entirely without labour, or violent contrast; her silken robes are white, and very faint blue, nor is there a single dark shadow throughout the canvass. This is the Cleopatra that subdued
The Grand Duchess's Bath.
The Grand Duchess has lately had a Bath fitted up for herself in this palace, the extreme elegance and taste of which, strike all visitors. It has columns of Verde Antique with Corinthian capitals of the purest marble, and in the recesses between which are four nymphs, beautifully sculptured. The room is tastefully draped with light blue silk, and silver fringe, while every ornament is appropriate, the entablature being enriched with carvings of dolphins, and sportive sea monsters; the tables inlaid with marine views; and her Highness's chairs are formed as ocean shells, supported by silver swans, whose wings conjoined make an elbow to repose upon.
In another room there are two of the largest columns of the purest Oriental Alabaster I ever saw : the one is plain; the other spiral. Their diameter at the base is 9 inches: their height, without including the capitals, and bases, is 7 feet, 4 inches.