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complexion, different features, or a different shape. It therefore required great judgment and taste to collect those various graces, and combine them with elegance and truth ; and repeated efforts of this kind are imagined to have inspired some of the ancient sculptors with sublimer ideas of beauty than nature herself ever exhibited, as appears in some of their works which have reached our own times.

Though the works of no modern artist can stand a comparison with the great masterpieces now alluded to, yet nothing can be more absurd than the idea which some people entertain, that all antique statues are of more excellect workmanship than the modern. We see, every day, numberless specimens of every species of sculpture, from the largest statues and bassos-relievos, to the smallest cameos and intaglios, that are undoubtedly antique, and yet far inferior, not only to the works of the best artists of Leo X's time, but also to those of many artists now alive in various parts of Europe. The passion for sculpture, which the Romans caught from the Greeks, became almost universal. Statues were not only the chief ornaments of their temples and palaces, but also of the houses of the middle, and even the lowest, order of citizens. They were prompted to adorn them with the figures of a few favourite deities, by religion, as well as vanity; no man but an atheist or a beggar, could be without them. This being the case, we may easily conceive what graceless divinities many of them must have been ; for in this, no doubt, as in every other manufactory, there must occasionally have been bungling workmen employed, even in the most flourishing era of the arts, and goods finished in a very careless and hurried manner, to answer the constant demand, and suit the dimensions of every purse. We must have a very high idea of the number of statues of one kind or other, which were in old Rome, when we consider, how many are still to be seen ; how many have at different periods been carried away, by the curious, to every country in Europe ; how many were mutilated and destroyed by the Gothic

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brutality of barbarians, and the ill-directed zeal of the early Christians, who thought it a duty to exterminate every image, without distinction of age or sex, and with, out considering whether they were of God or man. This obliged the wretched heathens to hide the statues of their gods and of their ancestors in the bowels of the earth, where unquestionably great numbers of them still remain, Had they not been thus barbarously hewed to pieces, and buried, I had almost said, alive, we might have had several equal to the great masterpieces in the Vatican ; for it is natural to imagine, that the rage of the zealots would be chiefly directed against those statues which were in the highest estimation with the heathens : and we must like. wise imagine, that these would be the pieces which they, on their part, would endeavour, by every possible means, to preserve from their power, and bury in the earth. Of those which have been dug up, I shall mention only a very few, beginning with the Farnesian Hercules, which has been long admired as an exquisite model of masculine strength; yet admirable as it is, it does not please all the world. I am told that the women, in particular, find something unsatisfactory, and even odious, in this figure; which, however majestic, is deficient in the charms most agreeable to them, and which might have been expected in the son of Jupiter and the beauteous Alcmena. A lady whom I accompanied to the Farnese palace, turned away from it in disgust. I could not imagine what had shocked her. She told me, after recollection, that she could not bear the stern severity of his countenance, his large brawny limbs, and the club with which he was armed ; which gave him more the appearance of one of those giants that, according to the old romances, carried away virgins and shut them up in gloomy castles, than the gallant Hercules, the lover of Omphale. Finally, the lady declared, she was convinced this statue could not be a just representation of Hercules ; for it was not in the nature of things, that a man so formed could ever have been a relieper of distressed damsels.

Without such powerful support as that of the fair sex, I should not have exposed myself to the resentment of connoisseurs, by any expression which they might construe an attack upon this favourite statue ; but, with their

support, I will venture to assert, that the Farnese Hercules is faulty both in his form and attitude: the former is too unwieldy for active exertion, and the latter exhibits vigour exhausted. A resting attitude is surely not the most proper in which the all-conquering god of strength could be represented. Rest implies fatigue, and fatigue strength exhausted. A reposing Hercules is almost a contradiction. Invincible activity, and inexhaustible strength, are his characteristics. The ancient artist has erred, not only in giving him an attitude which supposes his strength wants recruiting, but in the nature of the strength itself, the character of which should not be passive, but active.

Near to Hercules, under the arcades of the same Palezzo Farnese, is a most beautiful statue of Flora. The great advantage which ancient artists had in attending the exa ercises of the gymnasia, has been repeatedly urged as the reason of their superiority over the moderns in sculpture. We are told, that besides the usual exercises of the gymnasia, all those who proposed to contend at the Olympic games, were obliged, by the regulations, to prepare themselves, by exercising publiely for a year at Elis; and the statuaries and painters constantly attended on the Arena, where they had opportunities of beholding the finest shap ed, the most graceful, and most vigorous of the Grecian youth employed in those manly sports, in which the pow. er of every muscle was exerted, and all their various actions called forth, and where the human form appeared in an infinite variety of different attitudes. By a constant attendance at such a school, independent of any other cir. cumstance, the artists are supposed to have acquired a more animated, true, and graceful style, than possibly can be caught from viewing the tame mercenary models, which are exhibited in our academiesi On the other hand, I



have heard it asserted, that the artist, who formed the Farnesian Flora, could not have improved his work, or derived any of its excellences, from the circumstances above enumerated ; because the figure is in a standing posture, and clothed. In the light, easy flow of the drapery, and in the contour of the body being as distinctly pronounced through it, as if the figure were naked, the chief merit of this statue is thought to consist. But this reasoning does not seem just; for the daily opportunities the ancient artists had of seeing naked figures, in every variety of action and attitude, must have given them advantages over the moderns in forming even drapery figures. At Sparta, the women, upon particular occasions, danced naked. In their own families, they were seen every day clothed in light draperies ; and so secondary was every consideration, even that of decency, to art, that the prettiest virgins of Agrigentum, it is recorded, were called upon by the legislature, without distinction, to shew themselves naked to a painter, to enable him to paint a Venus. Whilst the moderns, therefore, must acknowledge their inferiority to the ancients in the art of sculpture, they may be allowed merit, on account of the cause, to which it seems, in some measure at least, to be owing

The finest specimens of antique sculpture are to be seen in the Vatican. In these the Greek artists display an unquestionable superiority over the most successful efforts of the moderns. For me to attempt a description of these masterpieces, which have been deseribed a thousand times, and imitated as often, without once having had justice done them, would be equally vain and superfluous. I confine myself to a very few ol servations. The most insensible of mankind must be struck with horror at sight of the Laocoon. On one of


visits to the Vatican, I was accompanied by two persons, who had never been there before; one of them is accused of being perfectly callous to every thing which does not immediately touch his own person ;


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the other is a worthy, good man; the first, after staring for some time with marks of terror at the groupe, at length recovered himself; exclaiming with a laugh, — Egad, I

was afraid these d-d serpents would have left the fellows they are devouring, and made a snap at me; but I am happy to recollect they are of marble.'— I thank you, sir, most heartily,' said the other, · for putting me in mind of that circumstance; till you mentioned it, I was in agony for those two youths.?

Nothing can be conceived more admirably executed than this affecting groupe; in all probability, it never would have entered into my own head that it could have been in any respect improved. But when I first had the happiness of becoming acquainted with Mr. Lock, a period of my life which I shall always recollect with peculiar pleasure, I remember my conversing with him upon this subject; and that gentleman, after mentioning the execution of this piece, in the highest terms of praise, observed, that, had the figure of Laocoon been alone, it would have been perfect. As a man suffering the most excruciating bodily pain with becoming fortitude, it admits of no improvement; his proportions, his form, his action, his expression, are exquisite. But when his sons appear, he is no longer an insulated, suffering individual, who, when he 'has met pain and death with dignity, has done all that could be expected from man; he commencés father, and a much wider field is opened to the artist. We expect the deepest pathos in the exhibition of the sublimest character that art can offer to the contemplation of the human mind: A father forgetting pain, and instant death, to save his children. This sublime and pathetic the artist either did not see, or despaired of attaining. Laocoon's sufferings are merely corporal ; he is deaf to the cries of his agonizing children, who are calling on him for assistance. But had he been throwing a look of anguish upon his sons,

, had he seemed to have forgotten his own sufferings in theirs, he would have commanded the sympathy of the spectator in a much higher degree. On the whole, Mr.

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