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Hume, in 1666. The damage was estimated, at the time, at L.10,716,000 sterling, equal to L.28,000,000 sterling now. The city was left a vast plain of rubbish. We noticed also an original deed of some land to a monastery, dated Ravenna, Anno Dom. 572, written on the
papyrus; and the original of Magna Charta. We had no time allowed to examine any thing; our conductor pushed on without minding questions, or unable to answer them, but treating the company with double entendres and witticisms on various subjects of natural history, in a style of vulgarity and impudence which I should not have expected to have met in this place, and in this country.*
The painted ceilings on the stairs and halls are very fine, by La Fosse, Rousseau, Monoyer,– all foreign artists; for the fine arts were but little cultivated in England at the time this building was erected, (1680,) by the first Duke of Montagu. The museum owes its origin to the collection of Sir Hans Sloane, bequeathed to Parliament, on condition that his family should receive L.20,000 sterling, for what had cost him more than L.50,000, and the labour of many years. He
* I am informeil that a great improvement took place soon after we were there, and that the Museum is now shewn much more conveniently.
died in 1753 ; and the Museum was opened to the public, the first time, in January 1759, in these buildings, purchased for that purpose.
It has received continual accessions since that time by donations and purchases ; particularly the collection of Sir William Hamilton, costing L.8400 ; of Mr Charles Townley's in 1805, costing L.20,000; the library of Lord Oxford, purchased from his heirs, for L. 10,000, rich in manuscripts, and known by the name of the Harleian library,—the Cottonian library, a bequest, and several others.
We have spent a whole morning at Mr Hope's, who has a magnificent collection of pictures ; a week, or a month, would hardly be sufficient to see all his treasures ; and even then it would be necessary to guess at some of them, from their bad situation ;-every side of every apartment being covered with pictures, light or no light. We have been much struck with the plague of Athens, by N. Poussin ; the composition, the drawing, the colouring, the ghastly light, all concur to the same end, -all horribly beautiful. In the middle of the picture, a famished child is sucking his dead mother! The dead and the dying lie about in heaps, grouped with a terrible fertility of imagination. The prevailing tint of Poussin's colouring is generally a sort of dusky lurid red, which I do not like, but here it suits
the subject. I remember with pleasure several good Van Dyck's of great beauty, particularly one of the death of A.lonis. On the second story, a landscape of Claude, soft, warm, and golden ; several others of the same artist appeared to me much inferior,—the trees particularly lumpy and hard, and the light precisely the reverse of the golden hue ; a landscape of Both pleased me more. A fine Dominichino (Suzanna). Several good Carlo Maratti. An excellent Caracci, and a wretched landscape by the same, although not unlike in composition to a very pretty picture of Isabey and his family in the Galerie du Musel. Such Rubens' as I have seen here are, as everywhere, ill drawn, gaudily coloured, the expression always low. I would except a good picture of the deluge by that artist. A storm, by Rembrandt, of the truest and grandest effect. Agar by Le Sueur, very good. Several landscapes of great merit by Bolognesi. Two Carlo Dolce; one excellent, the other bad.
I cannot recover from the surprise I have felt on seeing Raphael's pictures, hard like cut tin ; always the same Madona expression, or rather absence of expression, and then in the back ground indigo landscapes, with trees like brooms. Raphael was not a landscape painter, it is true; but then, why introduce landscapes at all, and not perceive that they were so bad ? I have had
the courage to confess all this heresy to a professed connoisseur, who comforted me with an assurance, that the pictures of which I complained, were before Raphael's good manner, and as, Raphael as he is, he must have been a bad painter before he was the very best that ever was, I feel a little reconciled with myself for the present. Leonardo da Vinci charms me with his transparent shadows and perfect finishing, without being cold or hard. Although something older than Raphael, his pictures, with their three centuries, are as fresh as if they had been painted yesterday. It is said of him, that he carefully prepared his colours himself; as Sir Joshua Reynolds did, but with a very different success. Leo, who had called him to his court, conceived a contempt for him from that circumstance, and Ra. phael succeeded Leonardo da Vinci, who left his unworthy protector. Mr Hope is particularly rich in Flemish pictures, executed by the best masters for that family of princely merchants, during the last 200 years ; they have never been in any other hands, and are in high preservation,-most of them are wonderfully beautiful, and very few, if any, participate in the vulgarity of taste and subjects peculiar to that school. I shall name a few. only. St John in the desert, by Breenberg ;-not at all a desert, yet a fine picture. Van Huysen, very fine. Berghen, a great composition of rocks, and effects of light. Ge. rard Dow, a domestic scene, exquisitely finished. Polemberg, graceful and light trees, and female nudities, precisely the reverse. Brugo, his garden of Eden is a mere menagerie, where birds and beasts are crowded, but not grouped together,--the colouring as gaudy as possible. Bactchuy, two highly-finished sea views. Weenix, two large pictures, dead and live game. The subject is certainly not very interesting, and yet
I have never seen any thing more admirable, not only for the high finish, which is such as to distinguish the very down of the feathers, a hair, a blade of grass ; but for the vigour of effect, as a whole, the originality, the simplicity, the truth of attitude, of motion, of composition. When you look near, the details appear to have been the principal object and great aim of the artist; step back, and all is freedom and bold touches ; the bounding deer seems starting from the can
Ruisdale's landscapes are cold and black, and yet beautiful. Wooverman introduces al. ways, it seems, a white horse in his pictures ; there is' at Mr Hope's a white horse, par ercellence, full of fire and impatience at the sound of the war trumpet.
A collection of pictures, of some reputation (Mr Walsh Porter's) is for sale at Christy's but I saw nothing there half so worthy of atten