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in pictures, would rather remain ignorant for ever, than listen to the lectures of a connoisseur, walked on, by him. self, into the other apartments, while I endeavoured to profit by my instructor's knowledge. When the other gentleman returned, he said, " I know no more of painting than my pointer; but there is a picture in one of the other rooms, which I would rather have than all those you seem to admire so much; it is the portrait of a healthy, handsome, country woman, with her child in her arms. There is nothing interesting in the subject, to be sure, because none of us are personally acquainted with the woman. But I cannot help thinking the colours very natural. The young woman's countenance is agreeable, .
, and expressive of fondness and the joy of a mother over a a first-born. The child is a robust, chubby-cheeked
fellow; such as the son of a peasant should be."
We followed him into the room, and the picture which pleased him so much, was the famous Madonna della Seggiola of Raphael. Our instructor immediately called out Viva! and pronounced him a man of genuine taste; because, without any previous knowledge or instruction, he had fixed his admiration on the finest picture in Flo
But this gentleman, as soon as he understood what the picture was, disclaimed all title to praise ; "because,' said he, although, when I considered that pic
. ture, simply as the representation of a blooming country wench hugging her child, I admired the art of the painter, and thought it one of the truest copies of nature I ever saw ; yet, I confess, my admiration is much abated, now that you inform me his intention was to represent the Virgin Mary.' Why so ? replied the Cicerone : the Virgin Mary was not of higher rank. She was but a poor woman, living in a little village in Galilee. No
. rank in life,' said the other, “ could give additional dignity to the person who had been told by an angel from heaven, that she had found favour with God; that her son should be called the Son of the Highest ; and who, herself, was conscious of all the miraculous circumstances
attending his conception and birth. In the countenance of such a woman, besides comeliness, and the usual affection of a mother, I looked for the most lively expression of admiration, gratitude, virgin modesty, and divine love. And when I am told, the picture is by the greatest painter that ever lived, I am disappointed in perceiving no traces of that kind in it.' What justice there is in this gentleman's remarks, I leave it to better judges than I pretend to be to determine. After our diurnal visit to the gallery, we often pass
the rest of the forenoon in the gardens belonging to this palace. The vale of Arno; the gay hills that surround it; and other natural beauties to be viewed from thence, form an agreeable variety, even to eyes which have been feasting on the most exquisite beauties of art. The pleasure arising from both, however, diminishes by 'repetition ; but may be again excited by the admiration of a new spectator, of whose taste and sensibility you have a good opinion. I experienced this on the arrival of Mr. Fawkener, a gentleman of sense, honour, and politeness, whose company gave fresh relish to our other enjoyments in this place. It is now sometime since he left us; and I am not at all unhappy in the thoughts of proceeding, in a day or two, to Bologna, in our road to Milan.
For a post or two after leaving Florence, and about as much before you arrive at Bologna, the road is very 2greeable; the rest of your journey between those two cities is over the sandy Apennines.
We had the good fortune to find at Bologna Sir William and Lady Hamilton, Mr. Fitzherbert, Mr. Kennedy, Lord Lumley, and Siri Harry Featherston. Our original intention was to have proceeded without delay to Milan, but on such an agreeable meeting it was impossible not to remain a few days at Bologna.
I went to the academy on the day of distributing the prizes for the best specimens and designs in painting, sculpture, and architecture; a discourse in praise of the fine arts was pronounced by one of the professors, who took that opportunity of enumerating the fine qualities of the cardinal legate ; none of the virtues, great or small, were omitted on the occasion; all were attributed in the superlative degree to this accomplished prince of the church. The learned orator acknowledged, however, that this panegyric did not properly belong to his subject, but hoped that the audience, and particularly the legate himself, who was present, would forgive him, in consideration that the eulogy had been wrung from him by the irresistible force of truth. The same force drew forth something similar in praise of the gonfalonier and other magistrates who were present also ; and what you may think very remarkable, the number and importance of the qualities attributed to those distinguished persons kept an exact proportion with their rank. Power in this happy city seems to have been weighed in the scales of justice, and distributed by the hand of wisdom. All the inferior magistrates, we were informed, are very worthy men, endowed with many excellent qualities; the gonfalonier has many more, and the legate possesses every virtue under the sun.
If the pope had entered the room, the too lavish professor would not have been able to help him to a single morsel of praise which had not been already serv
This town is at present quite full of strangers, who came to assist at the procession of Corpus Domini. The duke of Parma, several cardinals, and other persons of high distinction, besides a prodigious crowd of citizens, attended this great festival. The streets through which the Host was carried under a magnificent canopy, were adorned with tapestry, paintings, looking-glasses, and all the vas rious kinds of finery which the inhabitants could produce. Many of the paintings seemed unsuitable to the occasion ; they were on profane, and some of them on wanton sub
jects; and it appeared extraordinary to see the figures of Venus, Minerva, Apollo, Jupiter, and others of that abdicated family, arranged along the walls in honour of a triumph of the Corpus Christi.
On our way to Milan we stopped a short time at Mo. dena, the capital of the duchy of that name. The whole duchy is about fifty miles in length, and twenty-six in breadth; the town contains twenty thousand inhabitants ; the streets are in general large, straight, and ornamented with porticoes. This city is surrounded by a fortification, and farther secured by a citadel; it was anciently rendered famous by the siege which Decimus Brutus sustained here against Marc Antony.
We proceeded next to Parma, a beautiful town, cona siderably larger than Modena, and defended, like it, by a citadel and regular fortification. The streets are well built, broad, and regular. The town is divided unequal ly by the little river Parma, which loses itself in the Po, ten or twelve miles from this city.
The theatre is the largest of any in Europe ; and consequently a great deal larger than there is any occasion for. Every body has observed, that it is so favourable to the voice, that a whisper from the stage is heard all over this immense house ; but nobody tells us on what circumstance in the construction this surprising effect des pends.
The Modenese was the native country of Correggio, but he passed most of his life at Parma. Several of the churches are ornamented by the pencil of that great artist, particularly the cupola of the cathedral; the painting of which has been so greatly admired for the grandeur of the design and the boldness of the fore-shortenings. It is now spoiled in such a manner, that its principal beauties are not easily distinguished.
Some of the best pictures in the ducal palace have been removed to Naples and elsewhere ; but the famous picture of the Virgin, in which Mary Magdalen and St. Jerom are introduced, still remains. In this composition, Correggio
has been thought to have united, in a supreme degree, beauties which are seldom found in the same piece; an excellence in any one of which has been sufficient to raise other artists to celebrity. The same connoisseurs assert, that this picture is equally worthy of admiration, on account of the freshness of the colouring, the inexpressible gracefulness of the design, and the exquisite tenderness of the expression. After I had heard all those fine things said over and over again, I thought I had nothing to do but admire; and I had prepared my mind accordinglyWould to heaven that the respectable body of connoisseurs were agreed in opinion, and I should most readily submit mine to theirs ! But while the above eulogium still resounded in my ears, other connoisseurs have asserted, that this picture is full of affectation ; that the shadowing is of a dirty brown, the attitude of the Magdalen constrained and unnatural; that she may strive to the end of time without ever being able to kiss the foot of the infant Jesus in her present position ; that she has the look of an idiot; and that the Virgin herself is but a vulgar figure, and seems not a great deal wiser ; that the angels have a ridiculous simper, and most abominable air of affectation ; and finally, that St. Jerom has the appearance of a sturdy beggar, who intrudes his brawny figure where it has no right to be.
Distracted with such opposite sentiments, what can a plain man do, who has no great reliance on his own judgment, and wishes to give offence to neither party ? I shall
I leave the picture as I found it, to answer for itself, with a single remark in favour of the angels. I cannot take upon me to say how the real angels of heaven look ; but I certainly have seen some earthly angels, of my acquaintance, assume the simper and air of those in this picture, when they wished to appear quite celestial.
The duchies of Modena, Parma, and Placentia, are exceedingly fertile. The soil is naturally rich, and the climate being moister here than in many other parts of Italy, produces more plentiful pasturage for cattle. The road runs