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of the city of Philadelphia, in the year 1805, founded The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Having obtained an act of Incorpora, tion from the Legislature, a suitable lot of ground was purchased. A building was immediately erected, intended only as the commencement of the Academy, and appropriated to the exhibition of statues. This was first finished, because models of sculpture are easily obtained, whereas much time and very ample funds are necessary to obtain any considerable number of paintings of sufficient merit for such an institution. This part of the building being completed, an importation was inade from Paris of casts of the most celebrated statues and busts, carefully selected under the direction of Mr. Armstrong, our minister at that court, but more particularly attended to by his secretary, Nicholas Biddle, Esq. of this city. This importation consisted of sixteen statues and groups, and about thirty-five busts. Since the opening of the Academy it has been greatly enriched by liberal donations of various kinds. It would be unjust not to distinguish some of the gentlemen who have contributed to its aid.
From Joseph Allen Smith, Esq. of Charleston, South Carolina, the Academy received several very fine casts, executed in Italy, which the writer of this article thinks are superior to those procured at Paris, both in work and materials. The Dying Gladiator, Meleager, Venus of the Capitol, and of the Bath are among the statues presented by Mr. Smith. In addition to these, the Academy has, from the same gentleman, a large number of elegant and expensive engravings, and an invaluable collection of medals, gems, and intaglios executed in the first manner, amounting to above fifteen hundred. They are an inexhaustible source of admiration and pleasure.
In the painting department the Academy is deeply indebted to Robert Fulton, Esq. and Mr.P.G.Lechleitner, who have severally deposited there a number of excellent specimens of this noble art, from various masters and schools. The two celebrated pictures of West, from scenes in King Lear and Hamlet, belong to Mr. Fulton's collection.
At this time the statues and paintings are both placed in the same apartment; but the directors think themselves warranted, from the encouragement already given to this institution, and that they confidently hope to receive, in commencing the building of a spacious room for the exclusive exhibition of pictures, which will be done without de
Besides furnishing a school for the cultivation of American genius, the institution must have a happy effect in improving and refining the public taste; in leading the mind to contemplate and understand the beauty and excellence of art, which will diffuse itself over every thing
that is an object of refinement and utility. It is not only a source of elegant, interesting, and innocent amusement, but of important public improvement. Our builders and other mechanics, and every class of men may find something here to please and instruct.
Description of the Building. The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts is situate on the north side of Chesnut midway between Tenth and Eleventh-streets; the lot of ground is one hundred feet front by one hundred and seventy-eight feet deep; it recedes from the front line of the street seventy-five feet, has twenty-five feet vacant ground on each side, and forty-three feet back; it is set sufficiently high to admit of a terrace in front.
The present building which is fifty feet front by sixty feet deep, is so calculated as to be a whole when finished; and, at the same time, to admit of extensive future additions, viz. one room of one hundred feet by forty-three exterior at the back, and one on each side of fifty feet by twenty-five exterior: toward which additions the whole of the fireplaces, funnels, doors, and stair-ways are already effected; and it is only necessary to break away four inches of brick-work where they will be found placed in a uniform and regular manner. The character of the exterior architecture is modern Ionic. The front elevation consists of a marble basement four feet high, with (as is intended) a large flight of steps, to a recessed porch eighteen feet front on the front line, and ten feet deep; the remainder of the elevation consists of a high principal story and an attic with cornice, parapet, frieze, and neck moulding. The recessed porch is to have a column on each side coupled (one diameter distant) with a pilaster against each side of the recess; a full order of entablature is to rest on the whole of these with trophies or plain tablets above ; and the pavement is to be of marble slabs variegated, a centre for which has been presented by Mr. S. Gratz, of a quality equal to the Kilkenny, viz. of a fine jet black with an occasional sprinkling of pure white. The roof is nearly flat in every part, except where the dome appears, which is unique: it is a hemisphere of brick turned, two-thirds of which was sprung without a centre, and the remainder, owing to the lateness of the season, with very slight and little centring. The whole could have been effected in a superior style had not the building been begun too late in the season; and it is a better mode than with centring, because every course of bricks keys it. self; and it is extremely simple, a single strip regulates the whole. Centring always costs more than the arching, hence it is economical, and can always be done in a circular arch, but not in a lineal one; on this arch immediately, and without any medium of wood, is iaid a most complete piece of slate-work, each piece of which is secured immediately to the first brick dome, and having stood the test of two winters may be pronounced a sound job. In addition, in consequence of having no rafters, nor any other work except as before expressed, this roof costs less than a shingled one.
The interior consists of a principal room, two committee-rooms, three chambers, and complete cellars under the whole. The principal room is forty-six feet diameter and eighteen feet high to the springing of the ceiling, which is a dome having the sole light from its centre: the ceiling is plain except a radii of light in stucco around the opening and semi-circular architraves with reversed mouldings at the springing. The sides consist of eight tall pedestals alternating with an equal number of recesses which open to stair-ways or intended additional rooms; these recesses also consist of principal and attic pannels or openings; over these are arches whose saffits obtrude into the dome, the effect of which is novel; so that the dome appears (as it really does) to rest on those heightened pedestals, which have their full order of entablature occasionally relieved by guiloche enrichments. The whole of the building was completed froin the commencement in eleven solid weeks (in all not seventeen weeks) and is a specimen of sound work.
Written during a residence of between two and three years in different parts of those
countries, and addressed to a lady in Virginia.
IF instead of continuing along the Rue St. Victor, I had crossed at once into the Rue St. Jacques, we should in our way have passed close to the Sorbonne, where I have been two or three times; not that any thing remains to be seen, or that the place itself inspires much respect from its utility, or sanctity in former days, but from the desire of conversing with a sculptor, who has the use of two or three rooms there. I had bespoken of him a small cast of St. Vincent de Paul, and wished to be sometimes present when he worked upon a statue he had then in hand; it was Gretry the composer, whom he was shaping out of a block of beautiful Grecian' marble. In an adjoining room was another artist, whom I was also glad to visit in his workshop, though the
legs and arms scattered about the entry, gave it the appearance of a giant's den. I found him upon one occasion occupied in taking a bust from the life, while the little old gentleman whose resemblance he was at work upon, sat so still and with so composed a countenance, that one of our company, who is short-sighted, mistook him for a statue, and was extremely alarmed at seeing it move. This little old gentleman was no other than Tronchet, whose name will be most honourably transmitted to posterity, as one of the few who remained faithfully attached to Louis XVI in his utmost need, exerting himself at the bar of the convention to preserve the life of the unhappy monarch, and to save the nation from the disgrace and danger of an action so cruel and so impolitic. How this good and generous man survived the consequences of his exertions I know not, but he is now a senator, the emperor knowing, as Cromwell did, how to avail himself of the countenance and talents of those, whom he cannot suppose attached to his person, but who, he is certain, have too much honour to betray the government, or to be engaged in conspiracies against him. You will see an account of the Sorbonne in the Encyclopedia: it had been established for the protection of faith and of good morals, but must have already degenerated to a great degree from the pious intentions of the founder, when the doctors of the establishment could sooth the scruples of Louis XIV, and tell him, as from holy writ, that the property of his subjects was his, and at his disposal. When I first saw this anecdote in the Memoirs of St. Simon, it reminded me of La Fontaine's fable of the animals sick of the plague. It was agreed, that they should all confess the crimes they had committed; and the lion began. He confessed, with sorrow, that he had not spared the neighbouring flocks, and that he had some: times made so free as even to eat a shepherd; he was willing, therefore, if the rest thought proper, to devote himself for the general good, and to suffer death. But the fox soon consoled him. These shepherds, sir, said he, belong to a race that has the insolence to think itself our superiors; and as to the sheep, it was doing them a great deal of honour, sir, to devour them. Hume relates a very good story of this sort in the reign of James I, who had consulted two of the bishops at court about taking the money of the people. The good-natured monarch, though awkward and pedantic, was no enemy to wit.
The cathedral of Notre Dame is too much crowded with houses to be seen to advantage; it possesses, however, that solemn and stately air which distinguishes the best specimens of Gothic architecture: it is shaped as a cross, is 780 feet long and 144 broad, and of sufficient height, but it did not answer the expectations I had formed of the metropolitan church of a great empire. This sentiment was probably occasioned by the impression which the dome of the Pantheon had left upon my mind, and by the nakedness of the walls, which I had once seen covered with paintings and tapestry, and adorned with several handsome and venerable monuments. These were destroyed in great measure by the rage of republicanism in '93, together with all the sculptural and architectural ornaments on the outside of the church; where many headless kings and mutilated saints still remain, sad wit. nesses of the phrenzy of those times. It was here that Bonaparte was anointed emperor by the Pope, with not quite so many demonstrations of joy from the spectators within, or the mob without, as the paper of the day pretends, but with perfect complacency and submission; they gazed upon the ceremony and upon the procession, as they would have done upon any other splendid show, while those at a distance conversed about it, as they might have done about the coronation of a king of Persia. I saw his imperial robe, stiff with gold and with embroidery; it is so large that it must have set upon him like the cloak of Hercules upon the shoulders of a dwarf. The priest who had the care of these, showed us at the same time, many of the sacred utensils which were used at the coronation, together with others for the celebration of mass, which had been presented by the emperor, whose virtues he descanted upon as fluently, as he would have done some time ago upon those of Louis XVI. The churches in France are again frequented, but not as formerly; and many years must pass away, before the assistance of the government or the contributions of individuals can restore them to their ancient splendour. I was present at Notre Dame, on the day of thanksgiving for the victory of Austerlitz; and upon this occasion the solemnities of religion were aided by the charms of music and the pomp of military parade. The different public bodies, the great magistrates of the empire, and the princes, attended in state, to express their gratitude to heaven for the glory of the empire, and the safety of the emperor. I very much doubt however, if more than a dozen individuals were sincere in their expressions of satisfaction; and perhaps not one attached any serious and solemn idea to the festival of the day. It is but twelve years since a great many of these very people assembled in this very church, to sing hymns in honour of the goddess of Reason, with a sort of sacred music, and all the mockery of devotion. Robespierre, who had none of those eminent advantages of mind or body, which enabled some distinguished personages of antiquity to enslave their country; who had neither a commanding figure nor persuasive eloquence, and was not even brave; had that which supplied the absence of every requisite in the accomplishment of his purposes. He had cunning to affect disinterestedness; he could talk of virtue, and avail himself of the violence and crimes of others, and yet take the merit, at a proper time, of repressing and punishing them. He would not venture to enter