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hesitation in saying, that it would imply a more advanced state of the art of relief, thau could be inferred from the most exquisite vase of antiquity,
This is not the only subject which Homer has furnished to Canova; he has executed in the same inauner, and with the same happiness, the Consignment of Briseis from the hands of Patroclus to the Heralds, and the Offering of the Trojan Matrons, from the Iliad ; and the Return of Telemachus, from the Odyssea; the second book of the Æneid has been the ground-work for a Death of Priam; Euripides has supplied a Mad Hercules destroying his own children, in which the countenance of the maniac, and the various attitudes, situations, and ages of the children are most exquisitely delineated ; and the illustrious disciples of Socrates have occasioned four pieces commemorative of that great philosopher, with the following titles: Socrates saving the Life of Alcibiades, Socrates near his Death dismisses froin him his Fanily, Socrates in the act of drinking the Poison, and Socrates dead; all evidently subjects well adapted to relief, but totally out of the reach of any other kind of sculpture.
The groupes and single figures of Canova are very numerous; from the time that he devoted himself to sculpture alone (for in early life he seems to have hesitated between the sister arts of poetry and sculpture), he has been very regular and industrious in his application, and he executes with great rapidity. A cata. logue of his works, however, would give no idea of their num. ber, as the same piece has been frequently repeated, either from his own partiality, or the preference of those who have employed "him. We shall speak of none which we have not some personal knowledge of; and, as our limits admonish us, we shall be brief in our observations on these. The general character of Canova's style is marked by great freedom and decision, consistent with a respectful adherence to the models found among the legacies of antiquity. Perhaps in some instances this adherence bas been carried too far; to us it seems a little too learned to give Helen a bald and oval crown to her head; and we object, though we know that we tread even upon the heels of Poidias himself when we venture to object, to the golden frontlet on the brow of Hebe, and the golden urn in her hand. We are aware that no usage is more consecrated by the practice of all antiquity, yet it does appear to us a most inconsistent one. It has of late become usual to vary the shades of a profile, to give lightness to the hair, and whiteness to the shirt and cravat. It is said that this is an improvement, and an advancement towards a miniature painting; and so it is an advancement which makes the thing itself neither profile, nor painting; and the effect produced by к kg
this change of colours is, to make that attended to, which it is
To one, we pre-
As compared with sculptors of elder times, Canova is remark-
Ipsa Paphum sublimis abit, sedesque revisit
Thure calent aræ, sertisque recentibus halant.
Another peculiarity of his style, we imagine, consists in the
polish of the human skin; this is a matter of mere detail, and, yet its effects are considerable. A polished surface usually carries with it the idea of hardness; the beauty of the human skin consists in a smooth, elastic softness. We think, therefore, that the very high polish of some of the antient statues, and of tliose of Michael Angelo, and the luminaries of his age, is prejudicial to their effect. Canova chastens the polish of the skin, and re-, lieves it by an increased brilliancy of the drapery and objects around.
One of the great uses to which tlie talent of the most eminent sculptors has been employed since the Christian æra, is the adorning the sepulchres of the dead. We are rather iuclined to think that in times anterior, this department was consigned, if not to very inferior, certainly not to the eminent artists of the day, who seem to have reserved themselves for living greatness, or the shrines of Divinity. Canova has had his full share of this employment; Venice is enriched with several of his moną. ments, but of this description the best which we have seen is the tomb of Alfieri in the Church of Santa Croce at Florence. Every one who has read the memoirs of this singular man must kņow something of the Countess d'Albany: neither separation nor ţime seem to have shaken her devoted attachment; and we know not how she could more appropriately, or more decidedly have honoured the memory of the departed poet, than by erecting his mausoleum by those of the greatest men whom Italy has ever produced Boccaccio, Galileo, and Michael Angelo sleep here, not to mention Machiavelli, a slandered name, whose tomb bears this short inscription, “Tanto nomini nullum par elogium. The tomb of Alfieri is a large Sarcophagus, sura moualed at each corner by a scenic masque; in the centre of it is the medallion of the poet; a single colossal figure, crowned as the antient Cybele, and personifying Italy, stands 'leaning ou the tomb, and weeping. There is something in the simplicity of this composition, and the size of all the parts, that is very sublime and imposing ; any thing so very simple, and seemingly so common, must suffer by description, but those who bave seen the tomb, will consider our praise of it as falling far short of the limits of justice.
The Magdalene of Canova we have only seen in a cast, but so good a one, as to strike us very forcibly. She is on her knees, and, leaning backward, her long loose hair falls carelessly on her shoulders and over her breast; her streaming eyes are fixed on the cross, which she bolds in both her hands before her, and her speedy departure is announced by the general appearance of wasting and debility, which is in a wonderful manner thrown over her whole form, and made to consist with still remaining
beauty. This it is clear was the great difficulty which the artist
“ Genuflessa, anzi sui propri talloni abbandonata, coi capelli
We shall conclude what we have to say with a semark or two on one of Canova's statues, to which we have before alluded, the Hebe. From the very nature of the subject, it bears no comparison with many other of his works, in point of grandeur op sublimity; but we think it by far the most beautiful and most pleasing. We know not that we ever saw any thing to compare with it for lightness and airiness of expression, with the exception of a Pomona among the antiques of the Florentine gallery, which is of much larger size, stepping forward on a foot that Cinderella herself might have envied. The Hebe of Canova is rather under the common size; she has no dress, or even ornament of any kind (excepting the frontlet commented on in a former part of this article) down to the waist, below which, a plain cincture collects, and sustains a slight drapery, and is then tied behind in a careless, but not inelegant knot. The drapery, which
little above the cincture, flounces over it in the most natural manner imaginable, and as the figure is in the attitude of one advancing, floats behind in a light fold or two, and gathers so tightly in front, as to have a transparent appearance. It 5
rises a very
reaches only to the knee, and the Goddess stands with one foot advanced on a gently swelling cloud. The right hand, raised on high, holds a golden urn, and the left a cup of the same metal; she seems in the act of pouring from one vessel into the other; and this circumstance, perhaps, affords the only ground of exception that we are aware of, to the conception of the statue. It will have occurred to our readers, that there is some inconsistency in this employment with the rapid motion which both her attitude and drapery imply. To this objection, we confess we have no answer ready; but in the contemplation of her beautiful form, of the composed cheerfulness of her expressive face, and in the general character of sprightly innocence, so congenial to her, whom the poetic and fanciful devotion of the Greeks worshipped as the Goddess of Youth, criticism is constrained to be silent.
Our Italian readers will not be displeased at the insertion of the following elegant compliment to Canova, addressed to the Hebe, by Ippolito Pindemonte, one of the most distinguished poets of modern Italy. He has published some translations from Homer and Virgil, and a tragedy Arminio of no common merit.
6 Dove per te, celeste ancella, or vassi,
Che di te l'aurea, eterna mensa or privi?
Con questi luoghi tenebrosi, e bassi ?
L'Italico scarpello, e il Greco arrivi,
Ma chi visto t'avea scolpite i passi ?
E la gonna investir, che frettolosa
Si ripiega ondeggiando, e indietro riede.
Che pietra e moto in un congiunti vede,
Per un istante si riman pensosa." We trust we shall be excused for detaining our readers so long on a subject, which may almost seem foreign to the purpose of our labours; but the fine arts are among the appropriate ornainents of a great and tourishing empire, and we shall think that we have done 'some service, if we stimulate domestic talent, by turning its attention to foreign excellence. It is an unwise, as well as an illiberal patronage, which confines itself to the encouragement of native genius. There is no commerce, in which monopoly is of so fatal a tendency, as in that of the fine arts ,