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Thorwaldsen.-Christian subjects in sculpture.
Albert Thorwaldsen was the son of a stone-cutter and carver. He was born at Copenhagen, in 1772. His father, observing his talents, placed him at a school of design, at Copenhagen, where he gained the first prize, which enabled him to travel for four years in Italy.
Thorwaldsen has strikingly accomplished the task of representing Christian subjects in sculpture. His professional career, which included nearly half a century, was marked by innumerable works-statues, groups, relievi, and busts—the result of his fertile genius and imagination, and his unceasing ardour and perseverance. In character he was highly estimable-modest, gentle, and unaffected. His most celebrated works are the colossal Swiss Lion, cut out of a mass of rock near Berne, between sixty and eighty feet in height; the Poniatowski Monument, in the great square of Warsaw, consisting of an equestrian composition combined with a fountain; the Graces, models of calm, poetic beauty, with nothing of the modern and piquant, from which even Canova's Graces are not quite free. A Hebe, an Adonis, a Venus. The latter makes a near approach to the Venus de Medici. Among his relievi, the most esteemed are the Triumph of Alexander; Priam asking back the Body of Hector; Power; Wisdom; Health; Justice; Day and Night. His last great national work was the sculptural decoration of the cathedral of Copenhagen, comprehending on the pediment, St. John preaching in the Desert; on the frieze, Christ bearing the Cross; in the vestibule, the Four Greater Prophets; around the altar, the Twelve Apostles, with the Redeemer ascending in the midst. In all his works-whether after the modern or antique
Contrasted with Canova-French sculpture.
whether the smallest medallion or the largest colossal figure-he is characterized by a wonderful creative genius; by a power, energy, and breadth, which at once fix the attention. In some of these qualities, he forms a decided contrast to the style of Canova. Thorwaldsen is, unquestionably, more masculine and powerful in conception and execution; but, perhaps, he has gone to the other extreme in coldness and harshness. Canova is the type of the effeminate and voluptuous region of Italy; the other embodies the more stern and severe character of Scandinavia. While the works of Canova are distinguished for loveliness and grace, those of Thorwaldsen exhibit a calm conception of true beauty; a simplicity and truth which seem caught from the ideals on which the works of nature are formed, and which belong only to genius of the highest order.
Whether the art will advance or retrograde at Rome under their successors, is a question of difficult solution. But as regards Rome, the state of sculpture in that city may be said to be more European than Italian; inasmuch as sculptors, from all nations, not only resort to it for study, as the emporium of ancient art, but many of them establish themselves in that capitol, or at least regard it, as their head-quarters.
Age of Louis XIV.-Reign of Louis Philippe.
Of the sepulchral and ornamental sculptures in France in the middle ages, including that of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries, France possessed many splendid and interesting specimens, a great proportion of which fell a sacrifice to the demoniacal fury of the revolution. Under the long reign of Louis XIV. the fine arts, in common with literature, received munificent encouragement. During this Augustan age of French art, including the commencement of the eighteenth century, many sculptors of eminence may be enumerated; GERARDON, SARACIN PUGET, GUILLAIN LE GROS, the two COUSTONS, &c. And it is but justice to admit, that, however corrupt when compared with purer models, they surpassed their degraded cotemporaries of Italy. Louis XVI. showed a disposition to patronize them, had he not been overwhelmed by the troubles of the revolution. The only sculptors of this period worthy of being recorded, are BOUCHARDON and PIGAL. Napoleon, both as first consul and emperor, was a vigorous and liberal patron of the fine arts.
The reign of Louis Philippe was an era in French art. No sooner was he established on the throne, than art, in all its branches received a powerful impulse, from his munificent encouragement and enlightened taste.
If French sculpture, therefore, has not improved, it is not for want of national and extensive encouragement. That it has, however, made considerable advancement within the last ten years, cannot be denied, in spite of the severe and often unjust censure of many of their own journals.
German sculpture within the last thirty years.
WITHIN the last thirty years, sculpture in Germany, under the enlightened patronage of the kings of Bavaria and Prussia, has been pursued with enthusiasm and success.
The most distinguished sculptors are DANNECKER, of Stuttgart RAUCH and TIECK of Berlin, SCHWANTHALER, EBERHARDT, BANDEL, KIRKMAYER, MAYER of Munich, RATCHEL of Dresden, and IMHOFF of Cologne. Dannecker's principal works are his Ariadne and Panther, his Cupid and Psyche, his celebrated statue of Christ, and his Mausoleum of Zeppeline. He is much celebrated for his busts. Rauch was the first German sculptor, who, after a lapse of two hundred and fifty years, attempted to revive the taste of the middle ages, as manifested in the works of Albert Durer. Following neither the antique, nor the style of Canova, nor Thorwaldsen, he has revived the old German style of Fischer, improving and adapting it to the present state and intellectual progress of society. He executed a statue of the late queen of Prussia, two colossal busts of Blucher, in bronze, besides many busts and monumental statues to field-marshals, generals, &c. In all of which, he distinguished himself. Tieck's productions are very numerous, both in monumental works and busts. He has been engaged for many years on the new theatre, at Berlin ; including a colossal Apollo, a Pegasus, colossal Muses, &c. The sitting statue of Iffland the great actor, is reckoned his chefd'œuvre. Schwanthaler in some of his works, has followed in the footsteps of the great Prussian sculptor. Though influenced more or less by Thorwaldsen and the antique, he is far from being a slavish imitator. He has executed a large portion of the
sculptural decorations of Munich, including those of the Walhalla. Every public edifice in the German capitals is enriched with sculpture; hence, a more extended encouragement, a more ample scope is given for its productions.
DURING the occupation of Britain by the Romans, their numerous temples, baths, and other public buildings, which overspread the southern part of the island, were decorated with a profusion of statues, both in marble and bronze. There is every reason to believe, that the Britons were early initiated into the practice of these arts, which they retained for nearly a century after the final departure of their Roman masters. The Saxons, like all idolatrous nations, were in the custom of carving images of their gods in wood, and probably in stone, in a rude and barbarous manner. When converted to Christianity, in the seventh century, they destroyed their idols and abandoned the art as impious. But no sooner were images of saints introduced from the continent, than the increased demand gradually brought about a revival of the art.
Sepulchral sculpture was first introduced at the Norman conquest; the figures of the deceased being generally cut in low relief, on the tombstones. The reign of Henry III. is remarkable for the improvement of architectural sculpture. One of the most interesting examples is the cathedral of Wells, rebuilt by Bishop Joceline, in the beginning of the thirteenth century, and finished