« ForrigeFortsett »
bronze, with which they stamped their names, as Ferdinand the First signs his edicts, whether to save time, or for a more powerful reason, I cannot pretend to say. These a frescos are generally much admired: it is true that the figures are natural and graceful, and that the draperies are light; but nothing indicates that anatomy was studied by their painters; the proportions and outlines are exact, but the muscles are no where marked. Their colours, although well preserved, are not natural or well shaded. It has been said, that one cannot expect to find the best examples of painting on walls, and that the first-rate painters do not work in provincial towns; but the ancients are supposed to have been unacquainted with the method of painting on canvass with oil colours; and Pompeii, although a provincial town, was in the pleasure-garden of Rome, and probably called the best artists to adorn such superb temples as, from their remains, it may be supposed to have possessed. But the real question is—in what light are the inhabitants of these cities, are the Romans, to be considered? In some arts they surpassed even the present age; but their painting was on a level with the general inferior state of society an
science. And although man has ever improved and extended his mental faculties, yet how rapid has not the advance been in the later ages, compared to the fixed and comparatively negative condition of antiquity ? Consider, without prejudice, this antiquity, and these paintings will be found—to agree with the rest. It has been remarked, without damage to the general admiration, that Augustus had neither a shirt 10 his back, or a pane of glass to his windows. But whatever may be the truth of the first supposition, the latter is now discovered to have been a mistaken idea: glass has been found in the windows of Pompeii; and in this collection are some fruits painted in glass vases, which are well rendered. Here are six a frescos found on the floor of a room, while in the wall above were six niches from which they had been cut: it is supposed, from the ruined state of the house, that it was on the point of being demolished, and that the proprietor had begun by detaching from it that which was most precious
these six paintings; which, though well done, are not chefs d'æuvre. The ladies of the party were delighted to see that all the Romaines were coiffeés à la Françoise ; and they no longer dreaded contradiction, when they should assert, that the fashions of Paris were copied by all the rest of the world.
Naples, 24th Sept. 1824.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
WISHING to visit Pompeii while the impression produced by the a frescos of Portici was still recent, I set off yesterday morning, in an open carriage drawn by three horses, according to the general custom of the Neapolitans when going into the country, though I have even sometimes seen six horses yoked to an ordinarysized calash, containing, nevertheless, fourteen people: but I shall hereafter have occasion to speak of these equipages.
A slight sea breeze combated the rays of the sun while I traversed Portici, Resina, Torre del Greco, and Torre dell'Annunziata, villages situated at the foot of Vesuvius, at a greater or less distance from the sea shore. Torre del Greco is also called Torre Duodecimo, from its having been eleven times destroyed by lava and cinders; but subterraneous noises, the failing of water in wells, and other phenomena, always forewarn the inhabitants of the impending eruption, and procure them sufficient time to transport elsewhere their families and effects. The danger once over, their love of their native soil
or rather of their native cinders-recalls them to the spot, and encourages them to rebuild their ephemeral dwellings. On each side of the road rise, more or less high, torrents of lava, which have been cut through as often as they have passed over it in their descent to the sea.
A particular account of Pompeii would be perfectly useless : it has already been so often described, that you must be fully acquainted with all its details. I shall, therefore, only mention in what manner I employed the seven hours I passed within its precincts, and what is the actual state of the excavations that are made on
Quitting my carriage at the entrance of the Strada delle Tombe.street of the tombs-I