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"The works of Phidias are true flesh, that of beautiful nature, as are the other examples of ancient sculpture. The ^Mercury Belvidere is flesh; the Torso is flesh; the Fighting Gladiator is flesh; the several copies of the Satyr of Praxiteles, the Cupid, of which fragments were so often found: Venus also is flesh, and a Venus now of this Museum is in truth flesh.—nature.
"I must confess to you that in seeing these fine things my self-love has glowed; because I have always been of opinion that the great masters must have worked in this way and no other. Do not believe that the style of the bas-reliefs in the temple of Minerva is various: they have all the same fine forms and fleshiness; for men are always composed of flexible flesh and not of bronze. This opinion was enough to induce sculptors to renounce all and every rigidity, and attend rather to the beautiful and delicate natural form."
In 1818 the model of the statue of Washington was completed for the state of North Carolina, and in 1820 it was finished in marble. Many people in Europe, and all Italy, thought this was intended for our national government, as a monument to the illustrious military and civil chief of this new and widely extended republic. We have to regret that this was not the case,—that the works of inferior artists only deform the Capitol, and that nothing from the mind and hand of Canova is found there. How can we account for such an omission? The statesmen who neglected the glorious opportunity, if sensible of what has been lost, must look back with mortification. Rich, appropriate, and well executed public monuments, are magnificent and glorious property for a nation. They proclaim to all future time the intellectual and moral grandeur whicli existed at the period of their construction: they stand to purify the taste and exalt the sentiments of succeeding generations. On the contrary, if badly designed and executed, they become public nuisances; they corrupt the public taste; the eye and mind are habituated to approve and admire them from their subjects: and the judgment and purity of sentiment in a people are thus depraved.
In order to make this fine statue of Washington worthy of the subject, Canova studied carefully his biography, and especially the history of the American Revolution, by Botta. The statue was done sitting, in the act of resigning his military command, not of presenting his sword, but of writing his resignation. The whole is full of gravity and sweetness, and there is impressed on the face of Washington that dignity and virtue which he fostered in his heart. The likeness was taken from a bust made by the able Ceracchi during his visit to America. It was done in the Roman costume, and seated in the Roman style.
As Canova advanced in years his mind lost none of its vigour and enthusiasm, but rather increased in both. He seemed to live only on labour. Work—work, without recreation, without repose and almost without sustenance, was his only solace. He persevered as long as he could hold the chisel and the rasp, and appeared to endure fatigue as in the flower of his youth. In vain his friends advised him to relax. He was docile in every thing except this; here he was inflexible.
In the spring of 1822 his digestion became impaired, and although he still continued to work, he was soon obliged to attend to his health alone.
He returned to his native place, and thence he went to Venice to obtain medical advice; where he arrived on the 4th of October. The best professional aid was assiduously rendered, but he languished and continued daily sinking under his disease until the 13th October, when his life was closed, amidst the regrets and tears of Italy, at the age of sixty-five.
The last words which he uttered, that were clearly audible and distinctly understood, were, "anima bella e pura."
His disease was calculi in the gall bladder, which interrupted the flow of bile, destroyed digestion, and produced chronic inflammation in that cyst and the contiguous parts.
Many years before his death he had made a design for a beautiful monument to Titian, but unfortunately the money for its completion never could be raised. It was accordingly given to Canova himself, and finished in superb style by his pupils. It stands in the church of Santa Maria de' Frari at Venice, and the sight of it fills the spectator with solemnity and reflection. The winged lion of St. Mark, reposing at the door of the tomb, and the weeping genii of the arts approaching it in all the sadness of mourning, produce a most powerful effect. Callous must be that heart which does not, on looking at this monument, feel something of the sorrowful inspiration which warmed and expanded the hreast of Canova when he made it for the great Titian.
Canova was of the middle size; handsome in his person; of meagre and spare habit; he had a mouth a little open; eyes, lively and penetrating; his face was pale, with an expression of diffidence; his forehead serene and ample; the expression' of his face was one of suavity and good will. He was for some time delicate and valetudinary, but he became in after life more robust, and improved in complexion.
To the end of life he possessed an ardent soul, and was enamoured of all beautiful things. His heart was like a torch which was inflamed by every spark. The Duchess of Albany said to him, "You are old, but you have a young heart." He was extremely sensitive to every slight impression, and his emotions were so strong that he was stricken and convulsed by powerful impressions. Above all, his spirit was wonderfully affected and inflamed by generous actions, because his soul was great and moved with high thoughts ; his mind was lucid and acute; his genius quick and perspicacious. He knew how to rein in himself with discretion and moderation; which, however, never subjected him to the imputation of craft, or over caution, or distrust. He was curious in the least things, and for the greatest undertakings he was bold. His disposition was affable, and therefore jocose; and he conciliated the love of all. He accommodated himself to every one. He danced and sang with youth like one of themselves. He maintained his friendships sacred; he opened his mind to his friends with simplicity and truth, and never descended to adulation.
His conversation was frank, facetious, and festive; always seasoned with Venetian ease and gracefulness. He had a strong taste also for music. He was unrestrained among his acquaintance, but in a crowd and with strangers he was diffident and taciturn. In his dress he was neat without luxury; he had a well regulated household, without extravagance or dissipation, and his functions of host were performed with elegance and urbanity. He used to have at his conversaziones the most distinguished literary men and artists, and he sat among them as a listener and guest, and not as the master of the house—thus, he said, he enjoyed himself in the tranquil haven of wisdom.
He rose early, and immediately went to work, either at modeling or sculpture, and was never interrupted till dinner. After dinner, he reposed a while, in order to recommence his labour with renewed alacrity and vigour. His evenings were allotted to visiting, and receiving visits. He enjoyed society much, but retired early. He lived sixty-five years to virtue and glory, and died in the embraces of religion.
In the arts, he knew not a feeling of envy or jealousy; never did these painful passions in the slightest degree disturb the tranquillity of his soul. He worked, it may be said, in public, and his studio was the resort of those who tried to equal or surpass him. He pardoned mediocrity, saying it was difficult to excel; and when he spoke of worthy and promising artists, his face beamed with delight. He was desirous of embellishing and raising the Italian name; this occupied the first place in his thoughts. He ascribed to the fine genius and benign climate of Italy the excellence and superiority of her artists in imitation .
He had in his countenance that hilarity and cheerfulness, which spring from a good conscience. He corrected the faults of others, only by the eloquence of a good example.
His friends were men of the highest character and probity; learned, liberal, and accomplished. Giovanni Falier, Antonio Selva, Gavin Hamilton, Zulian, Antonio Este, Quatremere, Count Tiberius, Roberti de Bassano, Count Leopold Cicognara, Giuseppe Bassi, Giuseppe Tambrani, Pietro Giordani, Giovanni Gherardo, de Rossi. Giovanni Alexandri, and manyothers who were an honour to their country and their species, for their learning and virtues.
A very small portion of his labours has been mentioned in the foregoing brief notices of his works; nor will our limits admit of a reference to them with a view to an appreciation of their comparative merits. But, perhaps, so much in sculpture was never before accomplished by an individual.
Without taking count of the works commenced and remaining unfinished in his studio, he executed, with his own hands, fifty-three statues, twelve groups, (a thirteenth was modeled;) fourteen cenotaphs; eight grand monuments, seven colossal; two colossal groups; fifty-four busts, of which six were colossal; twenty-six bas-reliefs modeled, one finished in marble; making one hundred and seventy-six complete works.
Such was Canova; and, whether we consider him as an artist or a man, he presents one of the brightest examples for imitation, which we meet with in the history of those brilliant personages whom nature richly endowed, and whose selfculture raised them to an eminence so far above the mass.
In his biographer, the great artist has been truly fortunate, as his readers will easily discover. There is a faithful and strong portrait, physical and moral, in which the whole man stands in full relief before us. . Classical without affectation, deeply conversant with the fine arts, with a^refined taste, which can scarcely be acquired without a familiarity with the grand works found only in Italy, he has in every thing acquitted himself in a manner worthy of honour and admiration; and although writing of one of the sons of Italy, to whom all hearts there are devoted, he avoids all extravagant and exaggerated eulogium. This, it is true, was to be expected from a highly cultivated mind, and a rectified and chastened judgment.
They who admire the beautiful Italian, can feel and appreciate those eloquent and tender bursts of sentiment, which take the shortest road to the heart, and there make those vivid impressions which constitute the chief charm of Italian existence; but of which vast numbers of people, of other nations, who hold high pretensions, live and die in total ignorance.
Art. V.—A New, Theoretical, and Practical Treatise on Navigation, in which the Auxiliary Branches of Mathematics and Astronomy, (comprised of Algebra, Geometry, Logarithms,-Plane and Spherical Trigonometry, fyc, S,-c.) are treated of; also the theory and most simple methods of finding Time, Latitude, and Longitude, are taught. By M. F. Maury, Passed Midshipman of the U. S. Navy. Philadelphia: Key <fc Biddle. 1836.
The authority of an apostle is not needed, to assure "the men of this generation," that "the fashion of the world passeth away." The tide of innovation, in his day so inert that it had left almost unimpaired to his countrymen the manners of their father Abraham, has since grown fearfully in compass and in power, until the truths of religion, and the established principles of science, have alone proved equal to its resistance. Like two promontories of rock, they stand out amid the flood, (which has swept the less permanent materials from around them,) the monuments of their own duration. Every effort for their destruction—the concentrated fury of the tempest, and the insidious but ceaseless attrition of ages, have only served to lay bare the foundation of eternal truth, which they could neither shake nor corrode, until even the sceptic has confessed, that the principles of universal science, as they have come to us, through the philosophers of the two last centuries, are indeed those upon which the universe has been built, and must endure with it. If less willing to apply the same reasoning to that nobler science, which soars above his works to contemplate their great Architect, he still finds it difficult to resist the conviction, that the light which religion reflects upon earth, is indeed of " the brightness of his uncreated glory," and destined, in the fulfilment of his promise, to display his perfections in increasing light, until the perfect radiance of tr>e risen day.
In an age thus possessed with a spirit of innovation, it is not surprising that the system of education should undergo an en-. tire change. If, as we have so fondly hoped, we are destined to be the honoured means by which the race is to be brought to a state of comparative perfection, it required no extraordinary wisdom to direct our chief attention to the education of our children. How far every innovation has been improvement time will disclose. We much fear that, in some respects, "the advance," to borrow the language of a distinguished militia officer of a neighbouring state, has been fully "three steps backward." The tendency of the present system, to the neglect of the accomplishments of a gentleman's education, is toward the more practical sciences, and its great improvement