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accepted by his friends, and has been frequently honored with birth-day celebration, instead of the common-place 19th of November.
We need only recollect the state of Europe during Thorvaldsen's three years at Rome, beginning with 1797, to perceive that they were little likely to afford a young artist much encouragement.
The continent was distracted, was desolated with war, and English wealth was sedulously excluded. Accordingly Thorvaldsen studied with unwearying diligence, copied antiques, and sent the Academy proofs of his industry and improvement, which last is strikingly manifest in the very first of his Roman compositions; but he earned nothing, hardly even reputation, we believe. In consequence of the unfavorable circumstances of his allotted term, he solicited and obtained two additional years. But these likewise elapsed without pecuniary advantage, although in the course of them he produced the model of the Jason, eulogized by Madame de Staël, and which seems first to have established his fame. This model gained the approbation of the most critical connoisseurs, and won from Canova, then at the height of unrivalled celebrity, the acknowledgment, “This work of that young “ Dane is executed in a new and grand style.” But Thorvaldsen, though crowned with praise, found his purse empty, and a second inodel of Jason was in danger of sharing the fate of a former, which he had broken in despair. The first assistance he received was from a countrywoman of his own, an admired poetess, Madame Brun, then at Rome. This lady supplied him with means to take a plaster-ofParis cast of Jason, but more she could not do for him; and he was about to abandon Rome in despair for Copenhagen, when, the peace of Amiens having temporarily opened the Continent to British travellers, the late Mr.* Thomas Hope entered Thorvaldsen's studio.
Mr. Hope, the possessor of a magnificent statue gallery, was too familiar with the exquisite remains of Hellenic sculpture, not to be struck with the lofty excellence of the Jason, and he inquired what would be the price of the statue in marble. The artist, who at that moment had scarcely an object in life beyond the power of thus executing his spendid conception, answered 600 sequins. The generous and just appreciator of genius objected that the sum was too small for such a production, offered 800, and immediately supplied Thorvaldsen with the means of going to work. War broke out again before the Jason was completed, and, from apprehension of danger in working for a Briton, he was neglected. When the pacification of the world upon Napoleon's downfall removed these difficulties, Thorvaldsen felt himself so much improved that he wished to have substituted for Jason some later production : but as Mr. Hope preferred his original purchase, he proceeded to finish it. When, in 1928, Jason was at length despatched to England, he was accompanied, in token of the artist's gratitude, by two beautiful bas-reliefs - a genio lumen, and an Anacreon and Cupid — together with busts of Mrs. Hope and her daughters.
* The Danish Professor, like most foreigners, unable to comprehend our Fog. lish system of names and titles, calls him Sir Thomas Hope.
Well might Thorvaldsen feel gratitude to his British patron, for Mr. Hope's visit was the crisis of his fortune. From that moment, abundant employment and ample remuneration were his. His fame soared high and wide; he was the acknowledged rival of Canova ; every academy was eager to enroll him amongst its members; honors of every kind poured in upon him, and his society was courted by the high-born, the wealthy, and the talented. We shall not follow our author through his detail of the works of the next ten years, which fills the remainder of his volume, but pass to Thorvaldsen's grand basrelief ; perforce, however, pausing on our way to mention his first order from his northern home. This was a font, with which Countess Schimmelmann and her brother Baron Schubarth wished to present the church of Brahe-Trolleborg in Fyen, or Funen, as the name of the island is usually written in English. This font, adorned with four beautiful bas-reliefs, viz. the baptism of our Saviour, a Holy Family, Christ blessing the little children, and three hovering angels, was exhibited and duly valued at Copenhagen, and then sent to its appointed destination. A copy, wrought with equal care, was designed by the artist as his offering to the deserted land of his fathers, a gift to Myklabye church, in distant Iceland. We learn from a note, nevertheless, that this font did not, like its predecessor, reach its destination, having been purchased by a northern merchant, whereupon the artist immediately began another copy in Carrara marble to supply its place. We know not whether this third edition of the font actually adorns Myklabye church, or is, perchance, the one with which Lord Caledon has enriched the British empire.
now to speak of the magnificent frieze, upon which rests Thorvaldsen's acknowledged supremacy in the bas-relief branch of statuary. Late in the autumn of 1811, Napoleon ordered a papal palace upon the Quirinal hill to be prepared for his reception against the month of May following. Great exertions were made by the Roman artists to complete the requisite decorations, but it was not until the beginning of March that a proposal was made to Thorvaldsen to contribute his share to the embellishments of the intended imperial residence. Three months only could be allowed him to complete his task.
Short as was the period, he gladly undertook a frieze for one of the spacious saloons, and selected for its subject the triumphal entry of Alexander into Babylon. This is no place for a detailed description; but we may briefly state, that the subject is divided into three sections, or series of groups; the first series representing the Babylonians in expectation of the conqueror's triumphant approach ; the second, the magi and great men going forth in procession with their offerings to meet and propitiate him; the third, Alexander attended by his army; and that the spirit, boldness, and freedom of the various groups, so far surpass all modern competition, that, should we seek a comparison, we could only refer to the Elgin marbles, with which no modern artist aspires to rivalry. This frieze procured Thorvaldsen, from the Italians themselves, the title of Patriarch of Bas-Reliefs.
Thorvaldsen anxiously desired that his native land should possess a
copy of this his master-piece, and Denmark cherished a corresponding wish. Financial difficulties delayed its gratification; but they were at length overcome, and in the course of the years 1829, 30, and '31, the frieze, with some additions, required by the greater size of the hall for which this copy was intended, was completed in marble, and it is now, we believe, the glory of the Knights' Hall in the Castle of Christianborg. Another marble copy is in the Palazzo of Count Sommariva, upon the Lago di Como; and in this last Thorvaldsen has introduced a group, representing himself delivering the work to the Count. The head of this small figure bears a much stronger resemblance to the artist, than do the other busts and portraits amongst the engravings, but none of them give an idea of the commanding genius that lives in his eye, or of the sweetness and simplicity that characterize his rough features.
We have gone through Professor Thiele's first volume, the only one that has reached us, or, we believe, yet seen the light, and should now proceed to speak of the opinions entertained by less partial and perhaps more adequate judges than our author, of the relative merits of Thorvaldsen and Canova; but the remarks and statements into which we have been already led leave us little to add. By way of peroration, however, and for the especial advantage of such unfortunate wights, if any such there be in these travelling times, as have had no opportunity of comparing the mighty masters of the North and of the South, we may as well put those scattered opinions into form. The Dane then is generally esteemed a truer imitator of nature, and far chaster in his taste than the Italian, who had some little taint of Gallic affectation, while Thorvaldsen is pure and simple, with a sense of the beautiful that is even pathetic. On the other hand, Thorvaldsen is held inferior to Canova in what is technically termed the manipulation of the marble ; his flesh is not as perfect flesh; and, indeed, if the deceased pride of Italy had a rival in this respect, we suspect it is our own admired and admirable countryman Chantrey. Bas-relief has been usually considered as Thorvaldsen's peculiar forte; but Mr. Baring possesses a Mercury from his chisel, which may well dispute the prize with the renowned frieze itself, and render it doubtful in which branch of the plastic art he most transcends. This Mercury, for grace of attitude, truth of drawing, beauty of form and face, and indeed every other excellence that can belong to a statue, is allowed, we believe, by the unanimous verdict of artists and connoisseurs, to be the very finest production of modern genius. There are several other statues of Thorvaldsen's in England, which, with this, will probably be celebrated by Thiele in a subsequent volume, and perhaps we ought to apologize for thus forestalling our author ; but we confess we could not bring ourselves to conclude our observations relative to this great artist, without telling our readers that his master-piece adorns the dwelling of an English private gentleman.
[Abridged from "The Asiatic Journal, No. 33."]
Art. II. — Excursions in India; including a Walk over the Hima
laya Mountains, to the Sources of the Jumna and the Ganges. By Captain Tuomas SKINNER, of the 31st Regiment. In two vols. London, 1832. Colburn & Bentley.
We propose to confine our notice of these interesting volumes to laying before our readers a pretty full extract of the portion of it in which Captain Skinner's adventures in the "thrilling regions of thick“ribbe] ice” are recorded: to go through the volume would lead us over ground already traversed in the company of Captain Mundy.
Captain Skinner set out upon his route to the Himalaya mountains, vid the Dehra Dhoon, in April 1828, at the period of the Hurdwar fair. The pass in the valley of the Dhoon, bounded by the snowy range, he describes as one of the most beautiful pieces of scenery in the East. Our author's party fell in with an English clergyman on his way to Kunawar, beyond the icy mountains. The principal servant of the reverend gentleman was a converted Brahmin of high caste, who had been baptized by his present master, after giving the strongest evidence of the sincerity of his conversion.
“ He had com"pletely thrown aside all prejudices, and seemed to be a perfect fac
totum, full of bustle, and no little self-importance.”
The valley of the Dhoon is stated to deserve, in all respects, the name of beautiful, and to be “ as quiet and as happy as such a lovely "and sequestered spot should be.” It appears to be more resorted to than the local authorities exactly desire. Our author speculates upon a carriage-road over the mountains, and the source of the Jumna becoming a fashionable watering-place: “one lady has already braved “and overcome its difficulties."
The first day of the ascent from the valley, on reaching Gerree Panee, the first halting-place for invalids, they found themselves in a new region, amongst raspberries and cherry-trees, wild roses and blackberries. The thermometer, at the foot of the hills, stood, in Captain Skinner's tent, at 90°; here it was only 520. “The effect " that the climate of the hills has already had upon the children is "most astonishing; their rosy cheeks, so rare generally in the plains, “would rival those of the healthiest country babes in England." The convalescent establishment at Landour is a great blessing to the army. We learn from a recent Calcutta paper, that the Himalaya hills are now so much resorted to, that there are three “ Europe shops” at Missoura.
Landour and Missoura form the first line of mountains, the former being some degrees higher than the latter. It is a range of successive peaks, so irregularly placed, that if you stand upon any one of them, you appear to be the centre of a circle of others. Mr. Fraser likens them to pointed waves just on the eve of breaking. The summits of the peaks are generally abrupt and rugged, and their sides, garnished
with thick woods of the spear-leaved oak, and arborescent rhododendron, descend nearly perpendicularly into gloomy chasms, that appear to have no bottom.
The arrangements for the difficult part of the journey were now made with no little trouble. The hill-people, an extraordinary and capricious race, carry the baggage in burthens of from 50 lbs. to 80 lbs., adapted in narrow shape to the confined paths they have to traverse. • To any thing like severity these mountaineers are intract
able; violent if you irritate, obstinate to the utmost degree if you “ abuse them; to good humour they yield every thing.'
· Passing the Kandoa range of hills, and reaching the summit of the Budraj chain, the Jumna came in sight, and restored the spirits of the natives of the party : “the coolies threw down their loads, and the “servants their cooking-pots, and thought of nothing but the beautiful “river beneath, winding with the utmost swiftness round the bases of “the high-peaked hills." They forded the river, fifty yards wide, entering it twelve at a time, linked arm in arm, in order to stem the violence of the current. A high and bare ridge was then to be ascended, which brought them to Luckwarie, a neat village, the houses regularly built of stone, having stairs within, and roofed with slate. The women, who are remarkably pretty, seemed to be the busiest part of the community, amongst which polyandry flourishes, each lady being the common property of a family of brothers. The young population of the villages is not great, and our author remarked the likeness that prevailed amongst the children from this mode of marriage, which, he conceives, was invented in order to keep property as much as possible in one family, and to prevent an overgrown population on soil of such limited extent, their crops being the only subsistence.
After severe climbing, the party reached a little village called Bussoua, where they had a magnificent view of the snowy range bearing to the eastward, the Jumna winding behind the mountains on the south side, with villages and terraces of corn all the way to its brink; the slopes were enlivened by herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, to which shepherd-boys were piping on reeds, forming a true Arcadian picture. The vegetable treasures combined the products of Europe and of Asia in one "enchanted garden," bounded in the distance by the cold and barren range of eternal snow.
As they advanced, they did not find the character of the mountaineers improve; they began to be churlish, and averse to supplying them with grain. “The natives of every part of the Himalaya through “ which we have yet passed,” Captain Skinner remarks, "form the “ most striking exception to the general character of mountaineers " that can be conceived, and to their neighbours (the Ghorkas) in
particular. They seem to be totally devoid of courage or of enter
prise; the Ghorkas, on the contrary, possess both in an eminent “ degree. The men of these hills are stout and hardy, and frequently “ tall and handsomely formed, but indolent and indifferent to every " thing. The Nepaulese are short and ugly, but active and intelli