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jects; and it appeared extraordinary to see the figures of Venus, Minerva, Apollo, Jupiter, and others of that abdicated family, arranged along the walls in honour of a triumph of the Corpus Christi.
On our way to Milan we stopped a short time at Mo. dena, the capital of the duchy of that name. The whole duchy is about fifty miles in length, and twenty-six in breadth; the town contains twenty thousand inhabitants : the streets are in general large, straight, and ornamented with porticoes: This city is surrounded by a fortification, and farther secured by a citadel ; it was anciently rendered famous by the siege which Decimus Brutus sustained here against Marc Antony.
We proceeded next to Parma, a beautiful town, con. siderably larger than Modena, and defended, like it, by a citadel and regular fortification. The streets are well built, broad, and regular. The town is divided unequal; ly by the little river Parma, which loses itself in the Po, ten or twelve miles from this city.
The theatre is the largest of any in Europe ; and con- . sequently a great deal larger than there is any occasion for. Every body has observed, that it is so favourable to the voice, that a whisper from the stage is heard all over this immense house ; but nobody tells us on what circumstance in the construction this surprising effect depends.
The Modenese was the native country of Correggio, but he passed most of his life at Parma. Several of the churches are ornamented by the pencil of that great art. ist, particularly the cupola of the cathedral; the painting of which has been so greatly admired for the grandeur of the design and the boldness of the fore-shortenings. It is now spoiled in such a manner, that its principal beauties are not easily distinguished.
Some of the best pictures in the ducal palace have been removed to Naples and elsewhere ; but the famous picture of the Virgin, in which Mary Magdalen and St. Jerom are introduced, still remains. In this composition, Correggio
has been thought to have united, in a supreme degree, beauties which are seldom found in the same piece; an excellence in any one of which has been sufficient to raise other artists to celebrity. The same connoisseurs assert, that this picture is equally worthy of admiration, on account of the freshness of the colouring, the inexpressible gracefulness of the design, and the exquisite tenderness of the expression. After I had heard all those fine things said over and over again, I thought I had nothing to do but admire; and I had prepared my mind accordingly.Would to heaven that the respectable body of connoisseurs were agreed in opinion, and I should most readily submit mine to theirs ! But while the above eulogium still resounded in my ears, other connoisseurs have asserted, that this picture is full of affectation ; that the shadowing is of a dirty brown, the attitude of the Magdalen constrained and unnatural; that she may strive to the end of time without ever being able to kiss the foot of the infant Jesus in her present position ; that she has the look of an idiot ; and that the Virgin herself is but a vulgar figure, and seems not a great deal wiser; that the angels have a ridiculous simper, and most abominable air of affectation; and finally, that St. Jerom has the appearance of a sturdy beggar, who intrudes his brawny figure where it has no right to be.
Distracted with such opposite sentiments, what can a plain man do, who has no great reliance on his own judgment, and wishes to give offence to neither party? I shall leave the picture as I found it, to answer for itself, with a single remark in favour of the angels. I cannot take upon me to say how the real angels of heaven look; but I certainly have seen some earthly angels, of my acquaintance, assume the simper and air of those in this picture, when they wished to appear quite celestial.
The duchies of Modena, Parma, and Placentia, are exceedingly fertile. The soil is naturally rich, and the climate being moister here than in many other parts of Italy, produces more plentiful pasturage for cattle. The road runs over a continued plain, among meadows and corn fields, divided by rows of trees, from whose branches the vines hang in beautiful festoons. We had the pleasure of thinking, as we drove along, that the peasants are not deprived of the blessings of the smiling fertility among which they live. They had in general a neat, contented, and cheerful
appearance. The women are successfully attentive to the ornaments of dress, which is never the case amidst oppressive poverty.
Notwithstanding the fertility of the country around it, the town of Placentia itself is but thinly inhabited, and seems to be in a state of decay. What first strike a stranger on entering this city, are two equestrian statues, in bronze, by Giovanni di Bologna ; they stand in the principal square, before the town-house. The best of the two represents that consummate general Alexander Farnese, duke of Parma and Placentia, who commanded the army of Philip II in the Netherlands. The inscription on the pedestal mentions his having relieved the city of Paris, when called to the assistance of the League into France, where his great military skill, and cool intrepidity, enabled him to baffle all the ardent impetuosity of the gallant Henry. He was certainly worthy of a better master, and of serving in a better cause. We cannot, without regret, behold a prince, of the duke of Parma's talents and character, supporting the pride of an unrelenting tyrant, and the
rancour of furious fanatics.
Except the ducal palace, and some pictures in the churches, which I dare swear you will cordially forgive me for passing over undescribed, I believe there is not a great deal in this city worthy of attention; at all events I can say little about them, as we remained here only a few hours during the heat of the day, and set out the same evening for Milan.
Milan Muan, the ancient capital of Lombardy, is the largest city in Italy, except Rome; but though it is thought rather to exceed Naples in size, it does not contain above one-half the number of inhabitants.
The cathedral stands in the centre of the city, and, after St. Peter's, is the most considerable building in Italy. It ought by this time to be the largest in the world, if what they tell us be true, that it is near four hundred years since it was begun, and that there has been a considerable number of men daily employed in completing it ever since; but as the injuries which time does to the ancient parts of the fabric keep them in constant employment, without the possibility of their work being ever completed, Martial's epigram, on the barber Eutrapelus, has been applied to them with great propriety. That poor man, it seems, performed his operations so very slowly, that the beards of his patients required shaving again on the side where he had begun, by the time he had finished the other.
EUTRAPELUS TONSOR DUM CIRCUIT ORA LUPERCI,
EXPUNGITQUE GENAS, ALTERA BARBA SUBIT. No church in Christendom is so much loaded, I had almost said disfigured, with ornaments. The number of statues, withinside and without, is prodigious; they are all of marble, and many of them finely wrought. The greater part cannot be distinctly seen from below, and therefore certainly have nothing to do above. Besides those which are of a size, and in a situation to be distinguished from the street, there are great numbers of smaller statues, like fairies peeping from every cornice, and hid among the grotesque ornaments, which are here in vast profusion They must have.cost much labour to the artists who formed them, and are still a source of toil to strangers, who, in compliment to the person 'who harangues on the beauties of this church, which he says is the eighth wonder of the world, are obliged to ascend to the roof to have a nearer view of them.
This vast fabric is not simply encrusted, which is not uncommon in Italy, but entirely built of solid white marble, and supported by fifty columns, said to be eightyfour feet high. The four pillars under the cupola, are twenty-eight feet in circumference. By much the finest statue belonging to it is that of St. Bartholomew. He appears flayed, with his skin flung around his middle like a sash, and in the easiest and most degagé manner imaginable. The muscles are well expressed; and the figure might be placed with great propriety in the hall of an anatomist; but, exposed as it is to the view of people of all professions, and of both sexes, it excites more disgust and horror than admiration. Like those beggars who uncover their sores in the street, the artist has dem stroyed the very effect he meant to produce. This would have sufficiently evinced that the statue was not the work of Praxitiles, without the inscription on the pedestal.
NON ME PRAXITILES, SED MARCUS FINXIT AGRATÍ. * The inside of the choir is ornamented by some highly esteemed sculpture in wood. From the roof hangs a case of crystal, surrounded by rays of gilt metal, and inclosing a nail, said to be one of those by which our Saviour was nailed to the cross. The treasury belonging to this church is reckoned the richest in Italy, after that of Lcretto. It is composed of jewels, relics, and curiosities of various kinds; but what is esteemed above all the rest, is a small portion of Aaron's rod, which is carefully preserved there.
The Ambrosian library is said to be one of the most valuable collections of books and manuscripts in Europe. It is open a certain number of hours every day; and there are accommodations for those who come to read or make extracts.
I am the workmanship of Marcus Agratus, not of Praxitiles.
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