Obrazy na stronie

une gaze rendue très-souple, et sur celle-ci, également enduite de la préparation de plomb, une toile écrue, tissée toute d'une pièce, et imprégnée, à la surface extérieure, d'un mélange résineux, qui devait l'assujetir à une toile pareille, fixée sur le châssis. Cette dernière opération a exigé qu'on appliquât exactement à la toile enduite de substances résineuses, le corps du tableau débarrassé de son cartonnage, et muni d'un fond nouveau, en évitant tout ce qui pouvait lui nuire par une extension trop forte ou inégale, et cependant en obligeant tous les points de sa vaste étendue d'adhérer à la toile dressée sur le châssis. C'est par tous ces procédés que le tableau a été incorporé à une base plus durable que la première même, et prémuni contre les accidens qui en avaient produit la degradation; puis il a été livré à la restauration, qui est l'objet de la seconde partie de ce rapport. Cette seconde operation, que nous nommerons, Restauration Pittoresque, fut confiée, par l'administration, au cit. Ræser, à qui elle doit la réparation des tableaux les plus précieux, et dont les succès multipliés ont motivé sa confiance.


The Gallery of Antiquities at the Central

Museum of the Arts,

I CANNOT better begin this letter than by sending you the candid declaration verbatim, which precedes the catalogue of the statues, busts, and bas-reliefs, contained in the gallery of antiques, with a few interlineary observations of my own.

" The greater part,” say they, "of the statues exhibited in the gallery, are the fruits of the conquests of the army of Italy. Conformably to the treaty of Tolentino, they have been selected out of the Capitol, and the Vatican, by Citizens Barthélemy, Bertholet, Moitte, Monge, Thouin, and Tinet, appointed by the Government to act as Commissioners for procuring (thieving) objects which related to arts and sciences. To the scrupulous care with which these artists and savans have packed up and transported them, we are indebted for the happy preservation of these glorious trophies of victory (fraud); and the distinguished choice which they have made of these master-pieces, from amongst the riches which Rome possessed, and still possesses, (but which we could not remove by any physical means, other,

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wise they would have been here) proves their knowledge and skill (in the art of swindling, in which we excel all other nations) and the lovers of the arts, of whom France boasts, must owe them a debt of eternal gratitude. All the works that have been executed in the halls, which compose the gallery of antiques, whether in regard to their new arrangement, or their decoration and embellishment, were executed according to the designs and under the directions of Citizen Raymond, member of the National Institute, and architect of the National Palace of Sciences and Arts."

This modest account of the means by which they became masters of these most exquisite pieces of art, is worthy of the French character; they are entitled to credit for their deliberate perfidy, and sprightly narratives of their predatory adventures. But I have already sufficiently animadverted on the philosophical exploits of the members of the National Institute, and shall therefore proceed to describe this gallery, to which I paid particular attention. After what I have said of the sensations excited in my mind at the magnificent spectacle of the gallery of paintings, it may appear strange, that I never felt equal disgust at the sight of these statues. True it is, they are, like the former, stolen goods, and I have often heaved a sigh at the incalculable loss which Italy, the renowned seat of the arts, has suffered from their removal. But the awful stillness which perpetually reigns here, seems to compensate the troubled mind for its pains, while it rebukes the rapacious hand of violence, which tore from the soil of genius, these precious morsels of antiquity. The herd of men flock to the gallery of paintings to indulge their eyes with the brilliant luxury of beauty; but in this hall, where the artist's chisel has kept pace with his imitative powers, where the rough unpolished marble has been wrought into life and animation, very few admirers greet the trophies of French conqueft and 'rapine. Yet does it contain, within a small compass, more of those prodigious monuments of the capaeity of Man, than all the pictures of the Louvre put together. Perhaps, it is owing to the circumstance of its being less frequented than the other, that I have spent more time in it, and derived greater satisfaction. The Laocoon is here, of itself, worth the whole gallery of paintings, and which, if I were its proprietor, I would not exchange for any kingdom on the continent of Europe.

The Laocoon, the Belvidere Apollo, and the greater part of these incomparable statues I had before seen in Italy, and when I reflect on the pious zeal with which they were originally dug from the ruins of ancient magnificence, the sacred care with which they were preserved, amidst the fury of religious animosities, and the rage of


contending armies; when I reflect, that these mute representatives of the illustrious days of antiquity were left untouched during the ravages and destructive incursions of barbarous nations, and have been always respected by victorious princes and generals, amidst all the opportunities and temptations of conquest; I know not wliom most to deplore, the harmless guardians from whom they have been wrested, or the merciless ruffians who have appropriated them as their booty. These are not spoils belonging to successful victors; for they were never gained by force : they were obtained by the bloodless conquests of genius over barbarism, of human industry over human indifference; of the spirit of preservation over the spirit of destruction. For the sake of the consecrated ground in which they had laid undisturbed for ages, for the honour of human nature, and from a sense of gratitude to the country which had given birth to those by whom they were brought to a resurrection of glory, and whence science and letters illuminated a benighted world-for all these causes, and for others which I might enumerate, Bonaparte and the National Institute might have spared the sanctuary of genius, without tarnishing the lustre of those laurels with which they have crowned each other. They might have equally robbed, filched, and swindled the inhabitants of their gold and silver, their cattle, and all the fruits of their productive industry;


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