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Full text of "Giovanni Duprè"

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GIOVANNI DUPRfe 




GIOVANNI DUPRE. 



Fron tispicce. 



GIOVANNI DUPRfc 



BY 



HENRY SIMMONS FRIEZE 



WITH TWO DIALOGUES ON ART 

FROM THE ITALIAN OF 

AUGUSTO CONTI 



Hontion 

SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON, SEARLE, & RIVINGTON 

CROWN BUILDINGS, 188 FLEET STREET, E.G. 

1886 

All rights reserved. 



PREFACE 
TO THE SECOND EDITION 

THE ' Two Dialogues on Art ' which form the 
second part of this volume were published several 
years ago among the minor works of Augusto Conti, 
now Professor of Philosophy in the University of 
Florence, President of the Academy della Crusca, 
and author of an important series of works, embrac- 
ing the whole field of philosophy. 1 

My attention was first called to the sculptor 

1 The following are the titles of these works : i, Storia 
della Filosofia (History of Philosophy; published also in French); 
2, il Bella nel Vero (^Esthetics) ; 3, il Buono nel Vero (Ethics) ; 
4, il Vero nel Ordine (Dialectics) ; 5, F Armenia delle Cose 
(Cosmology, Anthropology, and Rational Theology) ; 6, Evi- 
denza, Amore, e Fede (Evidence, Love, and Faith). Besides 
these, some works of an elementary character, including an 
Elementary Philosophy (by Conti and Santini) extensively used 
in the schools of Italy. 



iv PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION 

Giovanni Dupre by the reading of these Dialogues of 
Conti. They constitute in fact a valuable essay on 
Art, theoretical and practical ; una cosa stupenda they 
are called by some of the Italian critics. Having 
translated them into English for the benefit of some 
young friends interested in the study of art, and, 
looking for some brief account of Dupre's life as an 
introduction, I found, what is very rarely found in 
the life of an artist, material in his own writings, 
abundant and interesting, for the complete portraiture 
of his life and character. And thus what was 
intended to be a brief introductory notice easily 
grew into this 'little volume of Art Biography. 

Those who may have the patience to read it 
through will find that it is not, as some of the 
' book -notices' have assumed, a mere epitome of 
Dupre's Ricordi Biografichi ; but a careful study of 
his art life, not only from these delightful ' Remi- 
niscences,' but also from his posthumous letters and 
papers, as well as from notices of him written by his 
friends and admirers at the time of his death. The 
whole of the last part of the Biography is necessarily 
derived from these latter sources. 



PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION v 

The book is by no means intended as a substitute 
for the Ricordi Biografichi of Dupre, now made 
accessible to English and American readers in the 
elegant translation of Madame Peruzzi. Indeed, I 
should feel well repaid for this humble tribute to the 
memory of an eminent Italian sculptor, at once great 
in his art, fascinating and instructive as a writer, 
and simple and pure in character, if it might lead 
to the more general circulation and appreciation of 
his own work ; a Book which stands alone as the 
autobiography of a modern Italian artist, and may 
be said to have formed an era in the art literature 
of Italy. 

No country, so much visited, is so little known 
as the Italy of to-day. Our ' tourists ' hurry through 
the museums and galleries, and survey for a moment 
the excavated places and remarkable old buildings, 
but, as a rule, come away with little or no knowledge 
of Italy as it is. And yet its present movement in 
all the work of civilisation, whether in politics, in 
education, in literature, or art, deserves our interest, 
not less than its achievements in ancient and mediaeval 
times, and in those of the Renaissance. And it is 



vi PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION 

much to be wished, as far at least as regards its 
language, literature, and art, that this land, still 
peopled by men of the same blood as Dante and 
Michelangelo, might share in some reasonable degree 
the attention so exclusively given in those days to 
France and Germany. 

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, 
July, 1887. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I. 

Introduction The father and mother, Francesco and Vittoria, and 
their influence on the character of Giovanni The child's instinct 
for art His figures carved in wood for a puppet theatre His 
attempts at drawing discountenanced by his father Is put to the 
trade of wood-carving Self-teaching in art studies . Page i 



CHAPTER II. 

A fortunate disappointment Beauty of Giovanni's wood-carving 
Bartolini mistakes it for work of the sixteenth century His 
wooing and marriage at nineteen . . . Page 1 5 



CHAPTER III. 

Becomes a sculptor The prize for his first bas-relief announced to his 
dying mother The statue of Abel A triumph embittered by the 
detraction of jealous rivals A statue too perfect to be thought a 
genuine work of art . . . . . Page 26 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER IV. 

A friend in need The statue of Cain A new departure in Italian art 
Compared with that of the so-called pre-Raphaelites The 
Giotto Giovanni is bewildered by learned critics and endangered 
by flatterers And displeased with the works he executes under 
such influences His studio visited by the Emperor Nicholas 
And by a phenomenal genius from America . . Page 42 



CHAPTER V. 

Comes back to his first love and faith, or to nature, in his statue of 
Antonino The brief revolution of '48, and the speedy restoration 
of the old government Insomnia, interruption of his work, and 
health recovered by a visit to Naples and Rome His faith in 
nature confirmed by certain statues of Canova in St. Peter's at 
Rome Also by the sight of a living 'Venus of Milo' in the 
Trastevere Periods of development or transition in the lives of 
artists and poets, as Raphael, Beethoven, Schiller . Page 60 



CHAPTER VI. 

Fruits of his restored faith The Tazza Design for the Wellington 
monument A visit to London Gets into trouble with the police 
at the Sydenham Palace An art-study in the midst of an English 
banquet Ristori, and other Italian friends in London Paris ; the 
villa of Rossini Return to Florence The Ferrari monument 
The Sappho, and Conti's notice of it Abdication of the Grand 
Duke Leopold in 1859, and Dupre's letters to him . Page 77 



CONTENTS. 






CHAPTER VII. 

Florence the capital of Italy Architectural and sculptural adornment 
of the old churches Aided by English residents Dupre's bas- 
relief of the Triumph of the Cross made for Santa Croce by order 
of Sir Francis Sloane The Pieta and the Christ Risen Shattered 
health, and a second visit to Naples and Rome The beautiful 
form of a Pompeian girl left moulded in the hardened slime of 
Vesuvius Art lesson from this Recovery of health At Paris 
with his daughter Amalia in 1867 Grand medal of honour 
Reception of Napoleon III. at the Tuileries Meets a would-be 
patroness Once more at Rossini's villa . . Page 94 

CHAPTER VIII. 

Engages to make a portrait bust before knowing the sitter Honour 
from his native Siena At the exposition of Vienna in 1873 made 
president of the jury on sculpture German music Returning, 
completes the monument of Count Cavour Relations to Pius IX. 
Death of his daughter Luisina And that of his wife, Maria 
Dupre ...... Page 109 

CHAPTER IX. 

Dupre as a writer and critic Papers read and published at the fourth 
centennial of Michelangelo's birth in 1875 . . Page 131 

CHAPTER X. 

Statues of Pope Pius IX., of Victor Emanuel,and of Raimondo Lullo St. 
Francis of Assisi modelled in clay Dupre's last sickness, calm and 
peaceful death Amalia succeeds to the studio The St. Francis 
executed by her in marble, and unveiled at Assisi on the seventh 
centennial of the birth of the saint, in October 1882 . Page 145 



CONTENTS. 



DIALOGUE FIRST. 

The Triumph of the Cross .... Page 165 

DIALOGUE SECOND. 

The Pieta and the Christ Risen .... Page 192 
INDEX ....... Page 218 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

GIOVANNI DUPRE ..... Frontispiece. 

To face page 

STATUE OF ABEL. IN THE PITTI PALACE, FLORENCE 36 

CANOVA'S MONUMENT TO CLEMENT XIII., OR REZ- 

ZONICO. IN ST. PETER'S, ROME ... 67 

THE TAZZA, FIRST VIEW. IN THE DUPRE STUDIO . 77 
THE TAZZA, SECOND VIEW. IN THE DUPRE STUDIO . 79 

THE ANGEL OF THE RESURRECTION, FROM THE FER- 
RARI MONUMENT. IN SAN LORENZO, FLORENCE 87 

STATUE OF SAPPHO. IN THE DUPRE STUDIO . . 88 

BAS-RELIEF OF THE TRIUMPH OF THE CROSS. 

ON THE FACADE OF SANTA CROCE, FLORENCE . 94 

THE MONUMENT TO COUNT CAVOUR. IN TURIN . 119 

MICHELANGELO'S JULIAN DE' MEDICI, WITH THE 
FIGURES OF " NIGHT" AND "DAY." IN SAN 
LORENZO, FLORENCE . . . . .131 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



To face page 

MICHELANGELO'S LORENZO DE' MEDICI, WITH THE 
FIGURES OF "DAWN" AND "EVENING." IN 

SAN LORENZO, FLORENCE . . . . 136 

MONUMENTAL STATUE OF ST. FRANCIS OF Assist. 

IN FRONT OF THE CATHEDRAL OF ASSISI . . 158 

GROUP OF THE PlETX. IN THE CEMETERY OF SlENA I 92 



GIOVANNI DUPRE. 



CHAPTER I. 

Introduction The father and mother, Francesco and Vittoria, and 
their influence on the character of Giovanni The child's instinct 
for art His figures carved in wood for a puppet theatre His 
attempts at drawing discountenanced by his father Is put to the 
trade of wood-carving Self-teaching in art studies. 

IN walking about the old Tuscan town of Siena 
you will find on the front of a house in the Via San 
Salvadore the following memorial : ' This humble 
abode in which was born Giovanni Dupre, honour of 
art and of Italy, may teach the sons of the people 
what height can be reached by the power of genius 
and of will ;' and in Florence, on a house just above 
the Fortezza and the grounds of the Pitti Palace, also 
this inscription : ' The Municipality of Florence, in 
whose council sat Giovanni Dupre, has placed this 
memorial on the house in which for twenty years 
lived the great sculptor, glory of Italy and of art, 

B 



GIOVANNI DUPR&. 



and in which he died on the tenth day of eighteen 
hundred and eighty-two.' 

The sculptor whose name is thus honoured by 
the city of his birth and by that of his adoption, to 
whom Italy has justly given a place among the first 
of her great artists, also won additional distinction 
in the latter years of his life by his valuable con- 
tributions to the literature of art. The most notable 
of these is the Ricordi Biograficki ; l a volume of 
reminiscences written with all the charming simplicity 
of the old Italian novelle, and abounding in agreeable 
anecdote, in lively sketches of character, and in just 
thoughts on art. Besides this autobiography, he 
published several articles on art topics ; and these, 
together with a selection of his letters, have been 
edited since his death by Luigi Venturi, who has 
prefaced the volume with a biographical notice of 
the deceased sculptor. From the last Italian edition 
of the Ricordi, and from the papers and letters 
and the biographical memoir published by Venturi, 
has been drawn the following account of Dupre's 
life and works. 

Giovanni Dupre was born at Siena on the ist of 

1 An English translation of this book of Dupre by E. M. Peruzzi 
was published by Blackwood, Edinburgh, 1884. This translation, 
which I find favourably noticed in The Academy, and which was 
published several months after my MS. was completed, I have not 
yet seen. 



HIS PARENTAGE. 



March 1817. His father, Francesco Dupre, belonged 
to a Sienese family of French descent, once in affluent 
circumstances, but by financial reverses suddenly 
reduced to poverty. By this misfortune the educa- 
tion of Francesco was interrupted, and he was put 
to the comparatively humble trade of intaglio or 
wood-carving. The change in his prospects and the 
want of any genial interest in his calling seem to 
have bred in him an habitual despondency, perhaps 
increased by an early marriage, the burden of a 
large family, and the difficulty of earning a support. 
He was good at heart, a constant reader of the 
Bible, and scrupulous in religious observances ; but 
his temperament was of the kind that derives from 
the teachings of the Bible severe and gloomy notions 
of religious duty rather than the sweet cheerfulness 
and content that are their legitimate end ; and the 
child Giovanni was called upon to endure much 
hardship from this kind of Puritanical spirit never 
losing, however, his reverence for a parent whose 
religion he knew to be sincere. Francesco married 
Vittoria Lombardi, one of the fairest maidens of 
Siena, a city famed for the beauty of its women. 
As pure and lovely in spirit as fair in person, she 
was known among her townsmen as ' the beautiful 
lady ;' and her religious devotion, not less earnest 
than that of her husband, but acting upon a more 



GIOVANNI DUPR&. 



cheerful spirit, served to increase in her that natural 
sweetness and serenity which relieved in some 
measure the depression and gloom of a poverty- 
stricken house. We think of this brave mother, as 
we catch her image from the words of Dupre here 
and there in his Ricordi, as a woman sweet and 
saintly in character and feature, like one of the 
Madonnas that Perugino or Sassoferrato loved to 
portray. There was in her piety something so 
simple and sincere, and in her treatment of her 
children such gentleness mingled with firmness, that 
all of them, and Giovanni more than the rest, 
received from her an impulse to goodness and virtue. 
In him this influence no doubt was so much the 
greater as he had inherited from his mother a 
remarkably sensitive nature joined with the same 
disposition to religious fervour. Indeed, his affection 
for her amounted almost to idolatry, and it was 
manifested in several incidents of his childhood and 
youth, two of which, related in the Ricordi, I will 
introduce here, though a little out of the order of 
time. 

Francesco had found his work as an intagliatore 
so unremunerative in Siena that he had removed his 
family to Florence, and secured employment in 
Pistoia, twenty miles distant. Giovanni, then but 
five years old, was destined to learn his father's 



AT THE SHOP IN PISTOIA. 5 

trade, and so accompanied him to the shop at Pistoia, 
where the father and child lived together in a hired 
room, now and then spending a Sunday with the family 
at Florence. But Francesco not unfrequently made 
these visits alone, and left the child behind, to spend 
the day and two nights in solitude, dreaming of home 
and longing for la mamma. This dreary life con- 
tinued for three years. No wonder that natural 
feeling became too strong for filial obedience : ' So 
once,' says he, ' when I was about seven years old, 
I ran away from the house in Pistoia, and made my 
way on foot to Florence ; though I knew very well 
that I should pay dearly for the kiss and caress of 
my mother with a whipping from il babbo. ... In 
fact he punished me and took me back with him to 
the shop.' 

Two years later Francesco once more found work 
in his native Siena. Thither he was accompanied 
by Giovanni, who was placed in the Academy of 
Siena to study drawing, the family remaining as 
before in Florence. Here again distance and absence 
from home soon became insupportable ; especially as 
Francesco had promised to take him home at Easter, 
and then for some reason had given up the visit. 
On the Saturday morning of Holy Week Giovanni 
got up at an early hour and hurried away, expect- 
ing with his nine-year-old legs to make a jour- 



GIOVANNI DUPR&. 



ney of more than thirty miles in a day. ' Passing 
through the Porta Cammollia,' he says, ' with a piece 
of bread in his wallet, he started off on the road in 
the childish hope of spending the Easter with his 
mother.' At the end of twenty miles his strength, 
in spite of hope and excitement, gave out, and no 
wonder. He sank down by the roadside, and after 
a little rose up and dragged himself a short distance 
farther. ' Sad thoughts passed through his weary 
little head, one after another now of his mother, 
now of his father the latter probably seeking him 
in vain through all Siena.' A kind peasant family 
in a roadside cabin took him in, listened pitifully to 
his story, specialmente la donna ; gave him food 
and wine, and were preparing his bed for the night, 
when a stage coach came rumbling along the highway, 
and the driver listening to the account of the boy, 
eagerly given by his new friends, needed no further 
entreaty, but helped up Giovanni to a place by his 
side, and at midnight put him down near the home 
of the Dupres at Florence in the Via Toscanella. 
He knocked at the door ; his mother came to the 
window, knew his voice, and uttered a cry of surprise. 
' The rest I cannot describe,' writes Dupre ; ' he who 
has a heart can understand all.' The father arrived 
the next day full of wrath ; ' but la mamma with 
unspeakable affection clasped me in her arms, look- 



PUPPET FIGURES. 



ing reproachfully at il babbo> without speaking a 
word. The stern parent controlled himself, and a 
long lecture followed on the duty of obedience, and 
of submission to the sacred authority of parents, and 
on the weak indulgence and folly of mothers ; 
whereupon I asked his forgiveness and all was 
over.' 

This fond devotion of the boy to his mother was 
not merely beautiful ; it opened in his young heart 
a sympathy which made her religion and piety 
lovely and heavenly in his eyes ; and it thus inspired 
in him that kindred fervour which gave to him as 
an artist the chief element of his power. Sadly 
enough for Giovanni, in a few years this best of 
mothers was overtaken with blindness ; and only 
through description could she imagine and enjoy the 
beautiful works of his hands. 

Most of the incidents of boyhood recalled by 
Dupre relate, of course, to the development of his 
gift for art. The very earliest of these shows him 
at the shop in Pistoia learning with his childish 
hands the use of the tools, wearied with his task- 
work of intaglio, and seeking amusement in his first 
attempts to shape out ' figures ' in wood. And the 
first works of the great sculptor in the way of 
statuary were the wooden heads and arms of manikins 
for a puppet theatre. Canini, the proprietor of a 






GIOVANNI DUPRk. 



show of this kind, like many other stage-managers, 
had been left in the lurch by the breaking down of 
one of his star actors on the eve of a great sensa- 
tional opening ; and he came to his friend Francesco, 
the father of Giovanni, in the hope that the important 
personage lacking just at the wrong time might be 
shaped out that is, as to head and hands by the 
poor wood-carver. But Francesco ' could not do it ; 
did not know how, had never made a figure.' The 
child Giovanni heard the conversation, felt all the 
gravity of the situation, ' boldly proposed to make 
the wooden head and hands ; and, while Canini 
doubted, trembled, and hoped, and il babbo manifested 
a certain complacence, set himself to the task, and 
that with such good success that this was the most 
beautiful personage of the company.' And thus he 
was inspired with confidence to renew the whole 
dramatic corps (tutti i personaggi). But ' personages ' 
of a lower order were also needed ; and these were 
ducks ; for in this ' grand spectacular drama ' there 
was to be an aquatic scene. In making these the 
little Giovanni not only manifested his instinct for 
art, but also a profound knowledge of hydrostatics. 
' I also made some ducks of corkwood, which were 
to figure in a pond, and were to be moved about 
here and there by means of invisible threads of silk. 
It was a delight to see these bestioline, and they 



SELF-HELP. 



were quite a success with their touch of naturalness ; 
because in the court of the house there were real 
ducks ; and so I had a chance to copy them from 
life. Oh, living nature ! Oh, il vero ! not only 
a great help, but the fundamental principle of art.' 

No boy ever takes kindly to employment laid on 
him as taskwork. On this account the art of mere 
decorative carving, though it might under other 
circumstances have interested the mind of Giovanni, 
became distasteful and irksome ; but this first success 
in fashioning with his tiny hands a whole troupe of 
actors, the stars, the stock company, and the corps 
de ballet, had stirred in him an ambition to attempt 
other things outside of his trade. At Prato, where 
his father found work for a time, after leaving 
Pistoia, Giovanni fell in with a maker and peddler of 
painted plaster images ; these caught his fancy, and he 
tried to make something similar, but always more life- 
like. Then among his father's old pattern-drawings 
and other papers, he lighted upon some wonderful 
prints representing the building of Solomon's temple, 
and also upon a variety of costume pictures ; and 
he tried his hand at drawing them. ' My little pate 
was full of these images. I first tried to copy the 
print that had struck my fancy more than the 
others, but I failed ; I wept with disappointment ; I 
wept, too, because my father did not look at my 



GIOVANNI DUPR&. 



efforts with a friendly eye, thinking them of no use 
in the practice of intaglio ; thus I was compelled to 
carry on my work in advanced hours, and almost 
in secret.' Failing in the ' Solomon's temple,' which 
was ' too complicated ' for his untutored hand, he 
made a study of some of the costume figures ; and 
these he laboured over when his father had gone to 
bed and to sleep ; ' and sometimes I, too, fell asleep 
over my drawings, and woke up in the dark, to find 
the lamp burned out.' This practice, however, kept 
up daily and with boyish enthusiasm, gave his hand 
freedom of movement, and his eye a nicer dis- 
crimination ; so that his drawings at last were made 
with few or no corrections. At Prato, as before 
at Pistoia, Francesco was in the habit of making 
occasional visits to the family in Florence, and of 
leaving Giovanni, then about eight years old, to 
take care of the shop. ' Yearnings and entreaties 
were of no avail ; ' the father persisted in this hard 
treatment ; the boy submitted, dried his tears, and 
pursued his solitary work. In recalling these bitter 
experiences, Dupre says, ' I do not wish to blame 
my father, but neither then nor afterwards was I able 
to comprehend his way of thinking. . . . However, 
this life of hardship, trial, and disappointed yearning 
and affection formed my character, gave me the 
habit of suffering, of persevering, of obeying, without, 



IL MORTICING. 11 



however, quenching in me the longings and the affec- 
tions that my conscience assured me were good.' 

But this discipline came near costing him his 
life. What with hard work at the bench, close 
study at unseasonable hours, and sadness and home- 
sickness, he pined away. He had always been 
slender and delicate, and now he became so wasted 
that they called him il morticino. A doctor was 
called in, and the father was frightened into more 
rational treatment. The boy was no longer hurried 
up from his bed at daybreak ; milk warm from the 
goat was brought to his chamber before rising ; his 
diet was improved : he grew rapidly better, and was 
no longer il morticino. For the goat that deserved 
the chief credit of this resurrection of ' the little 
corpse ' ' he retained a feeling, even half a century 
afterwards, that he could not well define. 1 When he 
had regained health and strength, his mother, with 
the consent of Francesco, placed him with two skilful 
wood-carvers of Florence, named Ammanati and 
Pierecini ; but he had not been with them long 
before he attracted the attention of Paolo Sani, 
another intagliatore of note, and proprietor of an 
extensive business, who proposed that Giovanni 
should be sent for a few months to the Academy of 
Fine Arts in Siena to study drawing ; with the 
understanding that he should then work in the 



12 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

establishment of Sani at Florence. Francesco ac- 
cepted the offer the more readily, as he was now 
himself employed again at Siena, and could have 
the boy under his own care while studying there. It 
was then that Giovanni was overcome by the tempta- 
tion to run away and be with his mother at Easter, 
ending in the childish escapade before described. 
After this adventure, and after his father's wrath 
had cooled, he thought it best that Giovanni's strong 
affection for home should be crossed no more, and 
he therefore left him with his mother, and returned 
to Siena alone. The boy was taken at once into 
the employment of Sani, happy to work where he 
could live colla mamma. 

In his new place he enjoyed comparative freedom 
in the exercise of his natural bent. His figures, 
carved in wood, rapidly became known for their 
remarkable grace and for their lifelike and individual 
character an excellence which he attained by pur- 
suing, without knowing it, the method of Leonardo 
da Vinci ; for he had provided himself with a sketch- 
book, and drew off-hand, as he had opportunity, 
whatever he found characteristic in the features and 
forms of his shopmates and others at first awk- 
wardly, but with more perfection by persistent 
practice. ' I did not weary, and in time acquired so 
much freedom that with a few lines I obtained a 



LONGING FOR THE ACADEMY. 13 

fair portrait.' Of course, the passion or habit was 
not laid off with his working cap and apron. It 
kept him busy at home, too, and might have tried 
too much the patience even of la bella donna 
Vittoria, especially if she had seen the walls of the 
kitchen gradually converted into a gallery of char- 
coal sketches ; but the poor dear mother was blind. 
'La mamma, poverina, era cieca, my father was 
away, and I was the oldest of the children, and so 
lord of the house.' 

He was doing well at the wood-carving, but he 
thirsted for something better. He had heard of the 
Academy ; he knew it was the place where youth 
were taught the arts of painting and sculpture. 
' Heavens ! what a glorious thing to be able to 
make statues!' He had caught sight of the drawings 
of one or two of the fortunate pupils ; they seemed 
stupendissimi. He had golden dreams of this great 
institution ; its door was the portal of the temple of 
fame. Could not his master Sani get him admitted 
to it? 

The poor blind mother, weeping in sympathy 
with the pleading of the boy, walked with him to the 
shop and begged Sani to use his influence. ' The 
Signor Sani (I shall never forget the scene) sternly 
fixing his eyes upon me, still more terrible from 
behind his great silver -bowed spectacles, made 



14 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

answer that " for all the requirements of his trade it 
was enough for me to remain in the shop, and be 
willing to learn ; nothing more certain. Study in 
the Academy ? No ; it would but encourage desires 
and hopes never to be satisfied. The poverty of 
your family would put it out of the question, even if 
you were supposed to have the gifts to carry you 
through. Then there is the danger of the com- 
panionship." My mother said nothing in reply ; 
but in her sightless eyes I saw the inward pain. 
She returned home, and I repaired to my work- 
bench.' 



CHAPTER II. 

A fortunate disappointment Beauty of Giovanni's wood -carving 
Bartolini mistakes it for work of the sixteenth century His 
wooing and marriage at nineteen. 

To Giovanni this was a bitter disappointment, and 
moreover a rebuff very hard to put up with. And 
yet in the end, as often turns out with seeming 
misfortunes, it was infinitely better than would have 
been the gratification of his desire. The Academy 
of Florence, under the influence then prevailing in 
the school of sculpture, would probably have made 
him, if he had been admitted to its classes, an 
imitator of the ancient masters, with a certain degree 
of elegance nothing more. It would have been apt 
to dry out all his freshness and repress all originality. 
For the Florentine Academy had for some time been 
in that unprogressive state to which all academies 
are liable ; that, namely, in which individual freedom 
is hedged in by traditional canons. Instead of 
fostering genial development, it had become a Pro- 
crustean bed, effectually bringing all erratic growths 



1 6 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

to a dead average. It said to the pupil : Look at the 
classical figure not only for your elementary lessons, 
but for your guidance through your whole art training 
and art career. Even if you employ a living model, 
you must correct your copy by reference to the 
classical exemplar. If nature differ from the tradi- 
tional art, so much the worse for nature. This is 
the spirit of classicism : a widely different thing, be 
it noted, from the spirit of the classic himself, whether 
artist or writer. The ' classic,' so called because he 
is genuine and great, and therefore inevitably stands 
as an exemplar for all time, unhappily becomes by 
that very fact the unconscious and innocent authority 
for sundry rules and canons, sometimes found in the 
mere accidents of his work, and mistaken for essential 
laws. Thus a Homer, a Pheidias, a Bach, or a Mozart, 
who should be the inspiration of genius, and an en- 
couragement to the free exercise of inborn strength, 
is made to stand as a stern giant in the way of all 
progress and invention. Thus the very freedom 
that in the past created fresh and characteristic 
beauties becomes a source of restraint and bondage. 
For the academy hunts up and formulates in its 
rules the individualities that have sprung from the 
exercise of perfect liberty, and by these very rules 
makes that liberty for its own pupils impossible. 
Thus the school comes to that state of lethargy and 



ORIGIN OF ACADEMIC CANONS. 17 

dead formality in which there remains not a breath 
of living nature or of living beauty. And thus it 
remains until, perchance, some irrepressible genius 
breaks out into rebellion against its decrees, wins 
honour in defiance of its condemnation, works a 
reform, and is justified by the world. Then the 
staid academy is aroused from its slumber, accepts 
'the new school,' makes new canons, and enters 
upon another cycle of progress and decay. Such is 
history. Such a revolution, and quite a violent one, 
was effected in the school of sculpture of the Floren- 
tine Academy a few years later by that great, 
commanding, and erratic genius, Bartolini. But at 
the present moment it was under the incubus of 
false classicism ; and it may well have been unfor- 
tunate in the end for Giovanni Dupre if wealth or 
privilege had given him admission to the enchanted 
castle. The department of sculpture was at that 
time under the presidency of Stefano Ricci, and its 
condition is thus described by Dupre in the Ricordi : 
' The school of Ricci was nothing more than a 
long and tedious exercise in copying without dis- 
crimination the antique statues, good and bad ; and 
so much the worse, that even in the studies made 
from nature, that is from the nude, antique art was 
referred to as the criterion ; the peculiar traits of 
ancient statues took precedence of those that nature 

C 



1 8 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

had impressed upon the living models. In the 
contours they added or retrenched with an assurance 
that was even comical ; they enlarged the lateral 
muscles of the abdomen, and contracted the lower 
part in order to give force and elegance to the figure. 
The head, too, so far from following the model, was 
diminished in size ; the neck at the same time was 
made more muscular ; and so the form as a whole 
appeared taller and more robust, but it was not true 
to nature ; and if the figures possessed any character, 
they were all after one type, and that purely tradi- 
tional. This correcting of nature by reducing all 
figures derived from living models to conformity with 
a uniform type led directly to conventionalism ; and 
this track once entered upon, this working from 
memory, always keeping in view the pre-existing 
type, withdrew the eyes of the artist from nature 
itself, and from all its varied beauties ; and in fact 
he ceased to care for them nay, rather, he became 
suspicious of nature, holding that she was always 
defective, and must always be corrected ; that 
precisely in this correction lay the secret of art.' 

Dupre adds that it was this very extravagance of 
servile classicism that led Bartolini, on succeeding to 
the place of Ricci, to push things to the other 
extreme ; to banish altogether the study of the 
antique, and to allow only that of living nature. 



BARTOLINPS HUNCHBACK. 19 

Bartolini, in order to emphasise his principle, went 
so far as to place before the students as their nude 
model a hunchback ; for, he said, even deformity, if 
living and real, was preferable to the conventional 
figures that hitherto had usurped the place of 
nature. 

The outcome of this conflict between the extremes 
of conservatism and radicalism was a healthful mean, 
and a new and honourable career of art production ; 
so that, indeed, Dupre himself, with all his inde- 
pendence and all his love for nature, died at last a 
professor of the Academy. With him the watch- 
word was always ' the beautiful in the real ' (il bello 
net vero). As we have seen, the intuition even of 
childhood had led him to this path, and the experience 
of riper years made this intuition his practical philo- 
sophy of art. 

Nothing remained for him now as the apprentice 
of Sani but to forget his dreams of the Academy 
and the glory of being a sculptor, and to apply 
himself steadily to his wood-carving the chiselling 
of house decorations and of saints and angels. But 
this art was not so bad after all ; he learned to love 
it, especially the figure-making, and his works soon 
became marvels of beauty. Some of them he recalls 
in after years, and especially two of them in connec- 
tion with his anecdotes of Bartolini. The first of 



20 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

these he describes as a small casket, or coffer of wood 
designed in the style of the cinquecento. It had been 
placed in the art rooms of the brothers Pacetti, by 
whom Giovanni was employed at the time, and attrac- 
ted the attention, among others, of the Marchioness 
Poldi of Milan. The name of the maker had been 
purposely suppressed, that the work might be taken 
for a genuine ' antique ;' and Dupre in the Ricordi 
expresses his regret for having connived at the 
deception. As Bartolini was executing for the 
Marchioness at this time his group of Astyanax, he 
was in the habit of making occasional calls upon her. 
During one of these she asked his opinion of the 
beautiful wooden casket for sale at Pacetti's. Bar- 
tolini praised it highly, and pronounced it one of the 
works that Tasso the intagliatore executed after the 
design of his friend Benvenuto Cellini. On hearing 
this judgment she did not hesitate to buy the work, 
though at an extravagant price. A few years after- 
wards, when Dupre had suddenly risen to fame as a 
sculptor, the Marchioness called at his studio, and 
after some inquiries about his past life, and learning 
his former trade of wood-carving, told him ' that she 
possessed a magnificent work of the famous wood- 
carver Tasso, and that this work, though in wood, 
was conceived and executed with so much grace and 
excellence, that it could be justly called a genuine 



MISTAKES OF BARTOLINL 21 

work of art ;' adding that these were the very words 
of Bartolini. 'The reader can imagine,' says Dupre, 
' whether I felt elated with such praise. Partly 
because of this, and partly to clear my conscience, I 
said, Signora Marchesa, I beg your pardon, but that 
work is mine. " No matter," she replied ; " I shall 
prize it so much the more." I begged her to say 
nothing on the subject to Bartolini.' 

The other work was a figure of Christ on the 
Cross, executed some time before the casket, but 
brought to the notice of Bartolini several years later. 
It had come into the possession of a wealthy and 
cultivated Florentine gentleman by the name of 
Emanuel Fenzi. His house was a favourite evening 
resort of literary men and artists, and of Bartolini 
and Dupre among the rest. ' One of these evenings,' 
says Dupre, 'after dinner, the drawing-room of 
Fenzi's house was filled with callers, and alive with 
pleasant and varied conversation ; and this, as was 
natural, presently turned upon art. Bartolini, in his 
ready and somewhat imperious manner, gave various 
reasons for asserting that art had reached a stage of 
decline ; first on account of lack of enthusiasm in 
the people and the nobility for the people had sunk 
into a kind of stupor, and the nobility into the dolce 
far niente ; next because artists, turning away from 
the only right path, the imitation of the beautiful in 



22 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

nature, had been led astray by an insane passion for 
a chimera which they called the beau ideal ; and 
finally because the vices of high and low, not except- 
ing the artists themselves, had taken the place of the 
virtues of our ancestors ; for apathy, luxury, and 
avarice had driven from our beautiful land the old- 
fashioned virtues of industry, temperance, modesty, 
and liberality ; and he cited from the past various 
examples of modesty and temperance. While he 
was talking in this strain, Fenzi stepped into the 
chamber of his son Orazio, and brought out my 
figure of Christ. It had now the look of an antique, 
partly on account of the long period since I had 
made it, and partly, perhaps, on account of the kisses 
so often bestowed upon it by the pious Lady Emilia. 
The host held it up before the maestro and said : 
" Look at this work." And Bartolini, taking it into 
his hands and looking at it attentively, continued in 
this wise : " The proof that our old artists were not 
less gifted than modest can be seen even in this 
work ; for the artist that made it, who was probably 
a mere wood -carver, must have been capable of 
making a statue such as perhaps no one in our time 
could make." 

' To this Fenzi, smiling, answered : " Excuse me, 
but you are labouring under a mistake ; for this is a 
modern work, and there is the author of it ;" pointing 



PERILS OF YOUTH. 23 

to me, as I happened to be entering the room at that 
moment. Bartolini put down the Christ and said no 
more.' 

But this scene occurred after Dupre had won his 
first laurels, and was already a favourite in cultivated 
society. Between this and the apprenticeship at 
Sani's there had been an interval of several years, 
clouded with much trial ; and to that part of his 
story we must return. 

Giovanni, now a youth in his nineteenth year, 
had come to be the foreman of Sani's establishment, 
and a general favourite with his fellows ; true to his 
master, kind to his young brothers and sisters, and 
full of tender affection for his blind mother. But 
he does not claim to have been a saint ; on the 
contrary, the somewhat rough comrades with whom 
his occupation brought him in contact had already 
begun to exercise a dangerous influence upon his 
susceptible and impulsive nature. Accident, however, 
gave his thoughts a new direction, and saved him. 
One day, while at work at his bench, he chanced 
to look out from his window when a well -shaped 
maidenly figure, plainly and neatly dressed, was 
passing along the street with a quiet and modest 
step. There was something in her form and gait 
that fascinated the eyes of Giovanni. He hoped 
and watched to see her pass again, but in vain. 



24 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

Some time afterwards, when he was attending the 
mass at the feast of roses in the church of the 
Apostles, in the midst of the devotions he looked up 
and saw kneeling opposite him the well-remembered 
form. ' Her head was bowed ; the light was a little 
dim, and she was in the shade ; but the outline of 
her face and the expression were pure and sweet. 
I was held as if by enchantment captivated by that 
figure in its humble, fixed, and serene attitude.' 

It is needless to say where all his thoughts ran 
now; 'comrades, suppers, billiards, all were abandoned.' 
Afterwards he caught sight of his new love two or 
three times in the streets, and followed at discreet 
distance : but once ventured so near that the little 
lady was startled : and no longer the meek kneeling 
saint, but flushed with maidenly indignation, she 
says, 'I want no one behind me.' Giovanni faltered 
out some apology, he knew not what, but it seemed 
to be intelligible to her, for she checked her hurrying 
steps long enough to say, ' Go to the house of my 
mother, and do not stop me on the street.' ' I 
thanked her with my eyes and we parted ; then I 
returned to the shop, my heart bounding with joy 
and hope.' 

He speedily found out her name, Maria Mecocci ; 
found out the humble abode where she lived with 
her widowed mother, whom Giovanni took a fancy 



A HAPPY MARRIAGE. 25 

to call by her first name Regina. The youth with 
simple ingenuousness, 'his heart speaking,' made 
known his desire to become acquainted with mother 
and daughter, ' opened his mind and told the whole 
story.' Such simple folk know little of formality. 
' La Reginaj he continues, ' heard me to the end, 
neither pleased nor angry, and only blamed me for 
having stopped her daughter in the street ; adding 
that she would think of it, but meantime could not 
conceal from me her feeling that I seemed too 
young.' In short, Giovanni was allowed to call from 
time to time ; both mothers came together, and 
finding no impediment but youth, put the lover 
under probation for a year, at the end of which 
period Giovanni and Maria became man and wife. 



CHAPTER III. 

Becomes a sculptor The prize for his first bas-relief announced to his 
dying mother The statue of Abel A triumph embittered by the 
detraction of jealous rivals A statue too perfect to be thought a 
genuine work of art. 

A POOR intagliatore, nineteen years old, the chief 
dependence of a poverty-stricken family, adding to 
his heavy load by marrying a wife ! Surely no 
genius can rise under such a burden ; we shall never 
hear of him more. Such would be the natural 
conclusion ; such in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred 
would be the outcome ; though by no means is an 
early marriage unhappy for all that. It may cheat 
fame ; but it may also offset the unrest of ambition 
by the sweet contentment of a life of industry wholly 
domestic. But in the case of young Dupre, aspira- 
tion was rather stimulated than repressed. ' Settled 
in my new existence, I thought seriously of carrying 
into effect and making a reality the dream of my 
whole life ; in short, I decided to become a sculptor.' 
His father objected, quoting in Latin the sacred 



A HARD STRUGGLE. 27 

proverb, ' Many are called, but few chosen ;' his 
mother, as usual, was in sympathy with his wish ; 
his young wife could not see why his present employ- 
ment was not good enough ; but when he gave his 
reasons, she said, gently smiling, ' It is well.' And 
while he still toiled at his bench, and pursued at odd 
hours the studies preliminary to the execution of 
works in marble, he was comforted and sustained 
both by wife and mother. He delights to dwell 
upon the virtues of his Maria, his santa donna, as he 
often calls her. He ascribes to her counsels and to 
her efforts and wise management, his emergence from 
poverty, and largely his good success in his artist life. 
After many discouragements growing out of the 
want of means to provide himself with a studio and 
materials, and also the want of time for the extra 
labour required in his new art, befriended, however, 
by some who understood his remarkable gifts, and 
especially encouraged through all the struggle by the 
' good Maria,' he succeeded in winning the first prize 
of the Academy in 1840. The successful work was 
a bas-relief representing the Judgment of Paris. He 
had already executed as studies under the direction 
of his friend Luigi Magi some small figures and one 
or two busts in marble ; but this bas-relief was the 
first of his productions that was designed for a 
competitive exhibition. 



28 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

Most sad for Giovanni, at the moment when the 
decision of the Academy was announced to him, his 
mother was lying at the point of death the dear 
blind mother, who had entered so tenderly into his 
young aspirations, who had wept with him at the 
stern rebuff of Sani, who had listened to his account 
of the progress of his work from day to day, ' as she 
sat in her quiet corner at home silently spinning,' 
and had longed and prayed for his triumph. ' No 
sooner had I heard the announcement of the award 
than I ran to my mother, whom I had left for a 
moment ; and I had some faint hope that on hearing 
the joyful news she would revive ; and, indeed, at 
my words her face became all radiant, her cheeks 
were flushed, her eyes that dimly saw the light 
became animated, and seemed to look at me ; then, 
stretching out her arms and clasping me to herself, 
she said, "Now I am willing to die." She lived a few 
days and then expired, comforted with the sacra- 
ments of our holy religion.' 

Francesco, the father, still survived, now incapaci- 
tated for work, spending much of his time seated in 
the studio and watching the labour of his son, or 
reading the Bible. He was cared for tenderly and 
reverently by Giovanni, who describes his last sick- 
ness in the pages of the Ricordi. He died of cholera 
in the epidemic of 1854. 



PRESIDENT MO NT A LVO. 29 

The young artist now hoped to get assistance 
from the Academy, at least in an indirect way. It 
was the custom of the ducal government to furnish 
deserving pupils of the Academy with rooms for 
studios gratuitously. Though Dupre was not a 
student of the Academy, he thought that as a 
successful competitor for one of its prizes he might 
be also thus favoured. Accordingly he presented 
himself to Montalvo, the President, in the hope of 
obtaining a good word from that dignitary in favour 
of his petition. But he was not kindly received. 
' No,' said the Signer President ; ' you have no right 
to ask for a studio ; the grace of the Sovereign 
grants this only to those who have completed their 
studies in the Academy of Fine Arts.' And when 
Giovanni added some words by way of arguing the 
question, Montalvo flew into a passion, and dismissed 
him without further ceremony. However, he re- 
tained no ill-will against the President, but always 
esteemed him ' a good and excellent gentleman, 
though subject to some infirmities.' He recalls an 
incident illustrating one of these. Montalvo was 
somewhat deficient in artistic discrimination, but at 
the same time was ambitious to be thought a critic. 
A few months after the above-mentioned interview, 
and when Dupre's acknowledged ability made the 
President regret the rough reception he had given 



30 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

him, he called with a friend at the young sculptor's 
studio to look at his new statue, then in progress. 
' In matters of art,' says Dupre, ' he was a judge 
merely of general effect, but not of details. His 
office, however, as director of the royal galleries, and 
still more, as President of the Academy of Fine 
Arts, made him feel that he must keep up a reputa- 
tion for critical taste. What I know at present in 
this regard I was not then so well aware of, though 
I suspected his weakness from his way of examining 
my statue, and from his complimentary remarks, 
made up of common phrases, the established 
formulas and the jargon of the Academy. But for 
fear he might seem to find everything in my statue 
perfect, he thought he must point out some defect ; 
and it was this : The left ear seemed too far back, 
and the space thus left in front of it made the jaw 
disproportionately large. 

' I have promised from the beginning, to tell the 
truth, and I will tell it, please God, to the end ; and 
so I must here confess myself an arrant hypocrite. 
Instead of answering honestly: No, it doesn't seem so 
to me, but, out of respect for your judgment, I will 
examine it again, I replied that he was right, and I 
thanked him. And that was not the worst ; when 
he favoured me with a second visit, and had hardly 
entered the studio, I said : Look at the ear.' 



A YOUTHFUL FREAK. 31 

' Have you corrected it,' he asked. 

' Yes.' 

' Have you brought it forward ?' 

' Certainly ; how do you like it ?' 

'Ah, now it is all right' 

In his reminiscences Dupre severely reprehends 
this deception, and suspects there may have been in 
it a little malice ; but it served to win the goodwill 
of the President, who continued henceforth his fast 
friend and warm admirer. And though the artist 
reproaches himself for this wanton freak of his early 
years, his readers will be more apt to sympathise 
with the mischievous humour of Dupre the youth 
than with the moral scruples of Dupre the old man. 
The story is similar to that of Michelangelo brushing 
the marble dust from the nose of the David, that he 
had pretended to file down a little to suit the keen 
eye of Soderini ; and it may well be that the history 
of other studios, ancient and modern, if all were 
known, would reveal similar experiences, or rather 
similar experiments. Indeed, something kindred to 
this again happened to Dupre himself quite late in 
life. He consented on one occasion, after much 
entreaty on the part of a certain lady, to make a 
portrait bust of one of her relatives whom he had 
never seen, and who had died in a foreign land. 
With the help of a mask in plaster and of an in- 



32 GIOVANNI 



different photograph, he moulded a portrait in clay ; 
and then invited the lady, with any friends she might 
wish to bring with her, to come and pass judgment 
upon it. The friends, after looking at the portrait a 
moment, smiled, declared it a failure, and went away. 
The lady, however, remained, and presently remarked 
that she was entirely satisfied with it, excepting only 
one point. ' I should like to have a little alteration 
made in this part of the face (pointing at it with her 
finger), if you can do it.' 

' But, signora, the features that I find in the 
mask are precisely these, and I should be sorry to 
make it worse.' 

' Pardon me, but I think the change I propose 
would make it infinitely better.' 

Dupre reflected a moment, and then said : ' Very 
well ; I wish you to be satisfied ; but be kind 
enough to give me two hours, and you will find 
it ready.' 

The lady retired, and meantime Dupre occupied 
himself with some other work. At the appointed 
hour she returned. ' Now look at it,' said he ; 
' what do you think of it now ? ' 

She examined it again and again ; and then with 
some hesitation replied : 

' What shall I say ? It seems to me now that 
the effect was better at first.' 



ILLUSIVE JUDGMENT. 33 

' Really ? ' 

' Really.' 

'Well, then?' 

' Should I be too unreasonable if I asked you to 
make it just as it was before ? ' 

' No ; I will restore it ; but I must ask you again 
the favour of leaving me two hours at liberty.' 

Dupre, of course, did nothing, and the lady 
returning, and examining the portrait once more, 
turned to him delighted, and exclaimed : ' Now it 
is right exactly right. I am perfectly satisfied ; 
make no other ; just finish this in marble.' 

Venturi, who relates this story, says that Dupre 
frequently laughed over it, calling it up also as an 
example to show how easily we are deceived in 
judging of the truth ; and how it happens almost 
invariably that one and the same model, placed 
before several scholars, is seen by them with different 
eyes, and represented in their drawings with very 
different characteristics. 

Giovanni regarded his bas-relief of the Judgment 
of Paris merely as a first essay in his new art, and 
as a step towards something more nearly approach- 
ing to his ideal. We now come to the history of 
the Abel, the masterpiece that brought the young 
sculptor suddenly before the world as one of the 
princes of art. 

D 



34 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

He had not yet wholly abandoned his trade of 
wood-carving, but by working at it half of his time 
he managed to earn a scanty support for his family, 
and a few francs daily for the rent of a small studio ; 
and also for the purchase of tools and materials, and 
what was equally indispensable, for the hire of a 
living model. And now the question was, What 
should be his subject ? ' I had almost fixed upon 
the Dead Christ with the Weeping Mother (a Pietd\ 
and had begun to turn over in my mind a design 
for the composition ; and certainly the Cristo Morto 
is, and always will be one of the sublimest themes ; 
yet I was not satisfied ; for I preferred to handle a 
subject entirely new ; and as I had been a constant 
reader of the Bible, very naturally the death of Abel 
suggested itself to my mind, and I accepted it with 
ready confidence.' 

But the beginning of this new work came near 
being the end. ' It was Shrove Tuesday in 1 842, 
and all who could and desired were walking up and 
down the Corso. I and the model were shut up 
in that little studio, and it was a miracle that that 
day was not our last. Poor Brina, however, is still 
alive, an old man like me, and still serving as a 
model in the Academy.' 

In brief, while he was studying the nude form 
of il povero Brina, the pan of charcoal that he had 



CHARCOAL AND ASPHYXIA. 35 

kindled to keep the boy comfortable had filled the 
little hive of a studio with gas, and both were already 
becoming stupefied. ' All at once I saw the model 
make a slight movement, fetch a long heavy breath, 
while his eyes and the colour of his cheeks were 
fast waning. I tried to rush to his help, but my 
legs gave way ; I seemed lost, my sight was failing ; 
I made an effort to reach the door and fell prostrate.' 
But by one desperate effort Giovanni reached the 
latch, pulled the door partially open, and was revived 
by the current of fresh air. Then he dashed water 
in the face of Brina, and ' brought him to.' 

Much depended upon the new statue being ready 
for the next exposition of the Academy ; and yet 
it was quite impossible for poor Giovanni to make 
satisfactory progress with the modelling, so long as 
the principal part of the day was spent at his old 
employment ; while if he devoted all his hours to 
the statue, his family must starve. It seemed as if 
the fates were against him. But the Florentines 
inherit the love of art as well as sympathy with 
struggling merit. Not a few of them, and among 
these some distinguished citizens, had already become 
acquainted with the young artist's works in intaglio 
and with his recent bas-relief in marble. These 
kind people united in a pledge to contribute monthly 
certain sums to make up the amount needed to 



36 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

carry him through. ' Thanks to the timely help of 
these generous friends,' he says, ' whose names I can 
never mention without grateful emotion, my model- 
ling now progressed daily in good imitation and 
just expression.' 

The same friends occasionally dropped into the 
studio. 

On one occasion Bartolini himself was among the 
visitors. He spoke approvingly, and also made one 
criticism : ' Observe,' said he, ' the face is gentle in 
expression, and such as is natural in one who dies 
and forgives ; and the parts are generally in keeping 
with this sentiment ; only one is discordant the left 
hand. Why have you closed that, while the right 
is open, and very properly so ?' 

' I closed it,' said I, ' for a certain variety.' 

' Variety,' answered the maestro, ' is good when 
it does not contradict unity ; but you will do well 
to open it like the other ; and that is all I have to 
say.' 

Giovanni, however, was eager to hear more. ' And 
the imitation, the character, the form ?' he persisted. 

' The imitation, the character, and the form,' 
answered Bartolini, ' show that you are not of the 
Academy.' 

The statue was completed in time for the exhi- 
bition of September 1842. Giovanni was allowed 



THE ABEL UNVEILED. 37 

his choice of places in the apartments. Thirty-seven 
years later he thus recalls the event : ' When the 
exposition was opened people gathered around my 
work. The imitation of the truth, the just expres- 
sion, the newness and the pathetic nature of the 
subject awakened a deep interest The crowd 
around it increased from day to day. But (and 
here comes the most bitter of all the trials of his 
life) it began to be asserted, at first quietly, soon 
boldly and openly, that my statue was an imposture ; 
that it was not a creation of art, but the mechanical 
work of a moulder ; that I was seeking to impose 
upon the Academy, masters, scholars, and the public. 
It should be thrown out of the exposition ; for it 
was dishonestly thrust in there as a work of art, 
when in fact it was only a cast made by laying the 
soft plaster upon the living form. 

' And this misrepresentation, I know not whether 
more absurd or malignant, was started among the 
artists, and especially the sculptors. At last they 
went so far as to strip my model Antonio Petrai, 
in order to prove the fraud. He was made to lie 
down in the position of the statue, and his body and 
limbs were measured in length and breadth with 
compasses and strips of paper. Of course, the 
measurements did not agree with those of the statue ; 
for without any design or thought about it, I had 



38 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

made my figure four fingers longer than the body of 
the model, and two fingers less across the broadest 
part of the back. This amiable experiment was 
made in the evening ; and the President, Montalvo, 
who accidentally surprised them in the act, was full 
of indignation, and in his rebuke did not spare those 
professors of the Academy who had taken part in 
the performance.' 

Dupre was not the first sculptor who had excited 
envious suspicion by the very perfection of his work. 
The same charge of mechanical copying from the 
nude had been brought against Canova himself when 
exhibiting his first important work, the Daedalus 
and Icarus. Quite recently, too, a young sculptor 
of Naples has been subjected to the same suspicion ; 
but his defenders have replied that the most delicate 
and difficult of all things to imitate, the expression, 
namely, of emotion in the countenance, is precisely 
that which can by no possibility be obtained from 
the process of moulding on the flesh ; and yet this 
is the part of the statue in which the Neapolitan 
artist, according to the critics who defend him, has 
most perfectly represented nature. This, too, might 
justly have been one of the arguments in defence of 
Dupre at this time, had he and his friends thought 
it necessary to meet his base rivals with any proofs at 
all. But Bartolini and others who had witnessed 



JEALOUS ACADEMICIANS. 39 

the progress of the work in the studio, treated the 
charges of the Academicians with contempt ; and 
Antonio, the model, with whose body they tried to 
prove the charge, ' laughed in their faces.' Yet they 
had not the manhood to publish to the world the 
result of their experimental measurements, and thus 
to atone, so far as possible, for the grievous wrong 
they had done to the poor young sculptor. Time, 
indeed, was sure to repair the mischief; but for a 
few months the unhappiness thus brought upon him 
and indirectly upon his family was hard to bear. 
The praise bestowed upon his work while in progress 
at the studio had given assurance of a success that 
would establish his reputation and, what at this 
time was even more important, bring him profitable 
employment. To be sure, he longed for fame, but 
not less for the means of lifting his family out of its 
wretchedness. And just as his sun was rising, it 
was suddenly overcast. No wonder he fell into 
despondency, almost despair. But the young wife, 
the santa donna, tried to comfort him. ' Non ti 
confondere, don't be troubled, don't mind them, 
Nanni (this was the diminutive for Giovanni) ; they 
are spiteful, because you have done better than they. 
Talk they will, and still talk ; and by and by they 
will stop talking.' 

' Si, si, mia buona Maria, they will stop talking ; 



40 GIOVANNI DUPRk. 

but meantime they have done me great mischief. 
Some one, perhaps, would have ordered the statue 
I have learned that but this silly and malicious 
babble brings it under suspicion, and my chance 
is gone ! I am crippled and bound at the very 
moment when I was about to become known, and 
might have opened for myself an honourable career. 
I know that I shall not be able to make another 
statue like this ; not for the lack of will, but how 
could I bear the expense ? My wages, I am sure 
cannot maintain my family and at the same time 
pay for a model, a studio and material, and the 
expense of the casting.' 

' Be not troubled, Nanni,' again replied la santa 
donna, and said no more ; but her eyes sparkled 
through her tears. 

Strangely enough, the perfection of the Abel sub- 
jected it again to the same suspicion when it was 
placed in the first French exposition at Paris in 1855. 
The jury, with the exception of the Italian member, 
the sculptor Calamatta, insisted that a work so true to 
nature must have been produced by making a mould 
upon the living form itself. But Calamatta earnestly 
took up the defence of Dupre, though formerly when 
on a visit to his studio in Florence he had sharply 
criticised the young sculptor for his naturalism, and 
was by no means partial to any that were not of the 



AN UNCONSCIOUS VERDICT. 41 

Academy. He made it clear to the jury that it was 
a genuine work of art ; pointing out those things 
in it that never could have been produced by a 
mechanical cast, and especially the head and the 
expression of the features. Convinced that they had 
erred in attributing its exquisite perfection to fraud, 
or a kind of stealing from nature, the jury now 
awarded to it the gold medal of the first class. 

Too perfect to have been created by the free 
hand of an artist ! What greater praise could have 
been bestowed than this unconscious verdict, first, of 
the Florentine Academicians, and, thirteen years 
later, of the jury of the French exposition ? 



CHAPTER IV. 

A friend in need The statue of Cain A new departure in Italian art 
Compared with that of the so-called pre-Raphaelites The Giotto 
Giovanni is bewildered by learned critics and endangered by 
flatterers And displeased with the works he executes under such 
influences His studio visited by the Emperor Nicholas And by 
a phenomenal genius from America. 

MEANTIME Dupre was not without the sympathy of 
many of his townsmen ; and one of these speedily 
came to his relief. ' Without knowing it, I had a 
friend a true friend and benefactor the Count 
Francesco del Benino. From the time I was a 
youth in the shop of Sani, when I worked in 
intaglio, and later, when I was with the Pacetti, up 
to the beginning of my Abel, for which he was one 
of the most liberal contributors, he had not lost 
sight of me often calling when I was modelling 
the statue, and expressing himself pleased with it, 
and certain of my future. Hearing now of the 
intrigue and detraction that were striving to put me 
down, he was stirred with indignation, and coming 
in upon me at the moment of my deepest de- 



THE GOOD COUNT BE NINO. 43 

spondency, when I knew not what saint to turn to, 
with his usual salutation, Sor Giovanni, che fa ? seated 
himself in my only chair; then seeing me downcast 
in spite of his cheerful good morning, went on to say : 
' Come, come, courage, man ! Do you know 
how these asses are braying ? They need a sound 
beating with a good cudgel. You have no idea, but 
I know well what I say. I am often in their studios, 
and see and hear the cowardly war they are making 
on you. We must not delay, but give them blow 
for blow. I have heard one of them no matter 
who I have heard one of these noodles say with a 
scornful laugh, Yes, he could make the Abel well 
enough it was only a reclining figure ; but a 
standing one he is not up to ; he will not be able to 
do that either this year or next. And the rest 
joined in the laugh. This I heard a few moments 
ago ; and I have come to tell you that you must 
silence these yelping curs. Now, my dear Giovanni, 
you must make another statue ; this time one on 
foot ; and now, be still you must do it at once. 
I know what you want to say I understand it 
all and I say, you must leave this studio ; 
it is too small for an upright statue ; find an- 
other at once ; order the trestles you want ; fix 
upon the form of your statue, and the money you 
will need. The money I will furnish ; you know 



44 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

where I live ; come to me ; put down on paper the 
sum you require, with your receipt to it ; and when 
you get orders for your works, as you will be sure 
to do by and by, and have plenty of funds in hand, 
you can repay the amount of the loan. Now be 
still ; no thanks at all. In the first place, this shall 
not be a gift ; in the second place, I shall get all 
the pay I desire in the opportunity you will give me 
by and by to laugh in the faces of this miserable 
rabble. They are mocking just now not less at me 
than you ; for I tell them your Abel is genuine, and 
that I have seen you at work upon it. And so you 
see, I am an interested party ; for without the cost 
of a cent I am getting a revenge that all my money 
could not buy. And now, dear Giovanni, a riveder 
la ; I expect you to call upon me for all you need ; 
be quick, keep up a good heart, and count me your 
most sincere friend.' 

The good old bachelor Count, of course, had no 
idea of receiving any of his money back again ; he 
was only smoothing the way over Giovanni's pride. 
Dupre hastened home to make the santa donna a 
participant in his joyful surprise ; then found and 
rented a new studio, hired his model, and purchased 
his equipment. What now should be the subject of 
his new statue not to be lying down, but ' on 
foot'? Naturally the counterpart of the Abel, the 



AN IMPERIAL PATRON. 45 

conscience-smitten Cain, fleeing in terror from the 
scene of his awful deed, dreading the wrath both of 
God and man. 

Scarcely had he entered upon his new work 
when his fortunes began to brighten. Proposals were 
made to him for copies of the Abel ; and while 
these were pending,, an unlooked-for purchaser 
appeared both for the Abel and for the statue of Cain, 
now in progress. The Grand Duchess Maria, 
daughter of the Emperor Nicholas, and wife of Prince 
Leuchtenberg, while visiting Florence, heard of the 
Abel and the controversy about it, and called at the 
studio to see this remarkable work. Then 'she looked 
at the Cain that I had hardly begun, and exchanged 
some words with the Prince. Finally the Grand 
Duchess, grasping my hand, said : The Abel and the 
Cain are mine.' The price received for the Abel 
was fifteen hundred scudi, and that to be paid for 
the Cain was two thousand. 

The first thought of Dupre was to pay his debt 
to the good Count del Benino. Accordingly he 
presented himself at the residence of his kind patron, 
and being received with the usual cheery good 
morning, thus made known his purpose : ' Signor 
Conte, I have come to make payment of the generous 
loan with which you have enabled me to commence 
the model of the Cain ; and, thank God, the work 



46 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

has excited the interest of the Grand Duchess Maria.' 
Then he told the story of the interview, and closed 
his speech by saying, ' Your aid, so timely, has been 
to me a second life ; without it, who knows what 
would have become of me ? While I was speaking,' 
he continues, 'the habitual sunshine of the Count's 
face faded away ; and when I got through he looked 
at me with a perplexed and grieved expression that 
I could not understand. " There is time enough for 
this," he said at last ; " be in no hurry ; a thousand 
things will be needed.'" But when Giovanni persisted 
the Count looked still more troubled. Finally he ex- 
claimed : ' Leave me, my Giovanni, this satisfaction ;' 
and he tore up the receipt and threw the pieces into 
a waste-basket. 

' I was mortified,' adds Dupre, ' and was almost 
offended ; but I was overcome by the expression of 
kindness in the countenance of this good man. He 
took my hand and said : " Do not take it ill ; leave 
me the consolation of having contributed even in the 
least degree to your success, and, as you say, to your 
future career ; and I know how honourable that is 
destined to be. I have received from you ample 
payment ; I have the sweet satisfaction of knowing 
that this trifling sum has opened to you a prosperous 
future.'" Such a man well deserves a place in the 
history of art by the side of the Florentine citizens 



THE CAIN. 47 



and princes of the fifteenth and sixteenth cen- 
turies. 

The Cain was completed and exhibited a year 
after the Abel. The two were repeatedly copied in 
marble and bronze ; the first copies in bronze were 
ordered by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and are 
now in the gallery of the Pitti Palace. To be pro- 
perly appreciated they should be seen, as in that 
museum, placed side by side ; though the Abel does 
not need the contrast so much as its companion 
piece. The Abel in his saintly and unresisting 
meekness is the type of all martyred victims of un- 
righteous violence. He is represented as a youth 
just on the verge of manhood, with a face expressive 
of the perfect innocence that had been incapable of 
an evil thought or of a suspicion of harm. But the 
features of Cain, while noble by nature, have become 
hardened and brutalised by the indulgence of fierce 
passion, and at this moment they are distorted by 
the agitation of guilt and fear, as he rushes away 
full of terror, and striving to shut out from his eyes 
the image of his murdered brother. The new statue, 
though the expression of an idea that awakens far 
different emotions, was regarded by the critics as 
even a greater masterpiece, and a more f remarkable 
proof of genius than the Abel. Bartolini pronounced 
it a severer test of artistic power and skill. ' Dupre,' 



48 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

he remarked, ' had felicitously overcome in this 
work difficulties a thousand times greater than in the 
Abel.' Andrea Maffei, in a notice of the statue, calls 
attention to the remarkable resemblance of Dupre's 
conception to that of Lord Byron in his tragedy of 
Cain. ' The feeling of terror and remorse,' says he, 
' with which the first homicide rushes from the scene 
of his crime, has been sculptured by the artist with 
the same marvellous power that characterises the 
description of the poet.' Yet Dupre had no know- 
ledge of the English poet ; he had, like Lord Byron, 
fashioned in his mind a fierce image corresponding 
to his conception of the character, and he had em- 
bodied this image in his statue. With literature, 
even that of his own language, he had at this time very 
little acquaintance ; though indeed he knew almost 
by heart the Bible and the Divina Commedia the 
two books that have given their impress to nearly all 
of his best and most characteristic works. 

These two statues placed Dupre at once in the 
front rank of artists. But more than this, they 
marked a new era in Italian sculpture : they were 
the symbol of a genuine new birth not a ' renais- 
sance ' in the ordinary sense ; not a reproduction, or 
rather an imitation of the types of art created by a 
former age but a new birth fresh from nature her- 
self ; for the young sculptor might justly be called 



A PRE-RAPHAELITE BY NATURE. 49 

in his art a child of nature. He had carefully studied, 
it is true, the fundamental principles, and he had 
acquired the use of the tools ; but from early child- 
hood he had sought in living nature alone the forms, 
the features, the movements, and expressions, that 
were to be embodied in his statues. From the 
influences that favoured the reproduction of classical 
types he had been shut off by the very circumstances 
of his life ; excluded from the Academy and without 
opportunities for regular instruction, he had been 
left chiefly to his own impulses and intuitions. 

A few years after Dupre had entered upon this 
new path, or rather, had found, ' without knowing it,' 
the old and true path, a movement in the same 
direction, but a conscious and studied movement, a 
kind of protest or revolt against the prescription of 
the schools, was instituted in the sister art of painting. 
This was the so-called pre-Raphaelite movement, 
begun in England by certain students of the Royal 
Academy who had become restive under the tra- 
ditional usages of the school that insisted upon the 
examples of Raphael as the absolute canon of art. 

In Dupre, however, the preference for nature 
was not a conscious revolt or protest against some 
false system of teaching ; it was, as we have seen, 
original and spontaneous. And here lies the differ- 
ence between him and the 'pre-Raphaelites ; ' for 

E 



50 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

their very name implied an effort to study and 
imitate certain methods and examples of painting 
anterior to Raphael ; but Dupre at this time recog- 
nised no epochs, and was not conscious of imitating 
any master or style. ' Without knowing it,' he had 
fallen into the ways of Giotto, of Donatello, and 
even of Raphael himself; for these were all close 
students of nature, and Raphael not less, nay, even 
more than his predecessors ; though seeing, perhaps, 
with different eyes, and perhaps, too, with larger 
view and deeper insight Had Dupre been admitted 
to the Academy, and pursued for a time his studies 
there, without losing all independence, perhaps, like 
Hunt or Millais, he might have been led by the 
yearning for a better way to break loose from time- 
honoured methods ; but then, like them, he would 
have been obliged to go through the hard process of 
casting off habits acquired, and of making himself 
natural ; but he had no habits to unlearn, nothing 
conventional to correct and reform ; he was under 
no necessity of striving to be natural, or of striving 
to be like those who were supposed to be natural. 
It is true, as we shall presently see, that for a brief 
period after the fame of his first works had drawn 
many admirers and cultivated critics around him, he 
was tempted to give up his first convictions, and to 
seek after something which he was made to believe 



THE GIOTTO. 



a more elegant style ; but we shall find that this 
temporary lapse only served to make him in the 
end more loyal than ever to his first love. 

Henceforth he was busily employed. There 
were orders for copies of the Abel and Cain, com- 
missions for new historical or ideal statues, or for 
portrait busts. Gradually, too, pupils and assistants 
were gathered about him, and after a few years his 
work began to be remunerative ; so that in the end 
he had the happiness of seeing his family beyond 
the reach of want. His third important statue, the 
Giotto, made by the order of the Grand Duchess of 
Tuscany, was completed immediately after the Cain, 
and was placed among the other statues of historical 
personages that adorn the Loggie of the Uffizi. 

Up to this time he had worked with an unques- 
tioning, we may say, with an unconscious faith in 
his own intuitions. But now he had become too 
well known to be left shut up alone ; his studio at 
once became the resort of scholars and critics. The 
rude child of nature was a genius worth teaching ; 
they must discourse to him of the philosophy of art. 
So the youth was in great danger of being led 
astray ; and, of course, he was at the same time in 
danger of being perverted by flattery. Some of his 
visitors were men of learning and of high charac- 
ter, such as Giusti, Thouar, Montazio, Farina, and 



52 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

Niccolini ; but the diversity of their opinions only 
confused Giovanni, though the general drift was in 
favour of academic ideas, and tended to shake his 
faith in his own natural, simple ways. He knew 
nothing about ' the philosophy of art ' or the ' canons 
of criticism ; ' but the flippant discourse of these 
cultivated gentlemen, full of sounding phrases, either 
addressed to him directly, or carried on in his 
presence as he plied his work, filled his mind with 
'a certain awe ;' and he found his former convictions 
yielding to the authority of profound learning. ' Now, 
therefore,' says he, ' my little brain began to be 
bewildered ; I began to be suspicious of nature, and 
to fear her imperfections and her vulgarities.' One 
of these distinguished visitors, Giusti, had more 
discretion than the rest, and, as Dupre remarked in 
later years, might have given a right direction to his 
judgment ; but Giusti became impatient of all this 
talk ; he feared the effect of criticism, and still more 
that of adulation upon the inexperienced mind of 
Giovanni ; and he ceased to make his appearance at 
the studio. He thought the young man, like many 
other young geniuses just coming into view, would be 
ruined by the cumbrous learning and fulsome praises 
of his new admirers ; and in a letter to a friend he 
remarked, ' that Dupre was surrounded with a coterie 
of flatterers who were corrupting his mind ; and un- 



BEWILDERMENT. 53 

less he should once more shut himself up in his 
studio, as at the first, he would never more produce 
anything worthy to be spoken of.' Fortunately his 
strength of character and his faith in the principles 
with which he had set out, aided by favouring cir- 
cumstances, brought him at last safely through these 
perils ; and the fears of Giusti were happily disap- 
pointed ; but the few statues that he produced under 
such untoward influences were less marked in char- 
acter or more conventional than the preceding, and 
they were looked upon by the artist himself in after 
years with always increasing dissatisfaction, and even 
with disgust. He speaks of three of them in the 
Ricordi and in some of his letters with special irrita- 
tion. These were the Piccolomini or Pius II., the 
Innocenza, and the Purita. The first was ordered by 
his native Siena, partly in memory of the Pope, who 
was born there, and partly to honour the young 
sculptor himself, whom the Sienese were proud to 
call their townsman. The Innocenza and the Purita 
were ideal figures of the size of life ; the first came 
into the possession of the Grand Duke Constantine 
of Russia, and the other was purchased by Prince 
Metternich, and placed in the Museum of Vienna. 
Many years later Dupre, when attending the ex- 
position in that city, came upon his old statue one 
day while walking through the museum, and wrote 



54 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

to his wife, that ' among the modern statues there, he 
had found standing near some works of Canova his 
own brutta Puritd.' ' Brutta ' is his favourite word 
for a statue that lacks the intelligence, thought, and 
individuality that are essential to good art. Of 
these three works he writes in the Ricordi : ' The 
Pius II., the Innocence, and the Purita are the mirror, 
so to speak, in which are reflected those three years 
of artistic temptation, when my spirit without faith 
and full of doubt was well-nigh smothered.' 

And while his mind during those 'years of tempt- 
ation ' was more or less mystified by the 'philosophy' 
with which his new acquaintances filled the atmo- 
sphere of his studio, he was receiving from all parts 
of the country eulogistic notices of the press. It is 
no wonder he well-nigh lost his head. ' Figure to 
yourself, my gentle reader,' he says, 'an inexperi- 
enced youth, ardent, enthusiastic, imaginative, just 
taking his first steps in art, suddenly hearing it said, 
and seeing it blazoned in print, that he has surpassed 
all others, that he has begun where they have ended, 
that he is born, perhaps, to take the prize from 
Grecian chisels, that he is Michelangelo descended 
from his pedestal, and ever so much more twaddle of 
this kind ; at the same time imagine him placed side 
by side with the jealous Maevii, and beset with the 
studied and gilded flatteries of worldlings, the more 



ELECTED TO THE ACADEMY. 55 

dangerous as they are more fascinating in their well- 
bred urbanity ; and you will not wonder that he is 
turned aside for a time from the right way God's 
mercy that he is not hopelessly perverted and ruined.' 
The Academy, too, extended to the artist its 
patronising hand by giving him a professorship 
now that such an appointment was rather an honour 
to the institution than an honour and help to him ; 
and this connection possibly produced in him a 
tendency, unconsciously to himself, to fall in more or 
less during these same years with that mannerism 
which was abhorrent to his better judgment. 

Then, also, there was the pronounced approbation 
of the nobility and even of crowned heads ; a thing 
that might have dazed even a more mature and less 
simple mind. One of these princely personages was 
no less than the Emperor Nicholas, at that time the 
acknowledged chief among the sovereigns of Europe. 
' The Emperor of Russia,' he writes in the Ricordi, 
1 passing through Florence, wished to do me the 
honour of a visit. I had been expecting him the 
whole day ; but in the afternoon, an hour before 
nightfall, I dressed myself to leave the studio, not 
thinking it possible that he would come at that late 
hour. I was just stepping out of the door, when lo, 
a confused din, a rumbling of carriages, tramping of 
horses ! and I saw the Emperor stop before the 



56 GIOVANNI DUPRk. 

studio. It was nearly night. I took my resolution ; 
before he got down, I hastened to the carriage-step 
and said : " Maestd, I am highly honoured by your 
visit to my studio ; but I fear your majesty cannot 
satisfy your wish to see the Cain, because it is almost 
dark, and I should prefer to show the work in a 
more favourable light." 

' The street was filled by this time with a crowd 
of eager spectators, and the studios of all my artist 
neighbours were open, while the inmates stood gazing 
from the doors ; and meantime the members of the 
Emperor's suite thrust their heads from their car- 
riage-windows to see why he did not get out, and 
with whom he was talking. 

' " You are a thousand times right," he said ; " it is 
impossible to see well now ; I will return to-morrow 
afternoon." 

' The next day he returned with all his suite ; 
hardly alighted, he asked : " Vous parlez frangais ? " 

'"Tres mal, majeste." 

' " Ah, well, I speak a little Italian ; we'll talk in 
both." 

'The Emperor was accompanied by General 
Menzikoff, Count Orloff, and others whose names I 
do not remember. Hardly within the studio, he 
took off his cap to the great wonder of his attend- 
ants, who hastened to do likewise ; and he remained 



AN EMPEROR IN THE STUDIO. 57 

uncovered throughout the interview. His figure 
was colossal, and its proportions faultless. He was 
at that time of mature age, but looked as if in the 
prime of life. In speaking and listening his manner 
was earnest, and he seemed interested to learn the 
ground of my artistic conceptions.' 

Finally he fell into familiar conversation. ' He 
manifested a desire to know something about me 
besides the studies and works that he was inspecting ; 
and I satisfied his curiosity. Nor is it any wonder 
that a potentate like him should take an interest in 
the particulars of a humble domestic life ; for he 
was, as I afterwards learned, a good husband and a 
good father. Good husband, good father ! pity he 
cannot be called a good sovereign ! The cruel 
wrongs he inflicted upon unhappy Poland, especially 
in proscribing her religious freedom, and even her 
language, a nation's first birthright, are a stain upon 
that patriarchal figure not easily washed out.' 

With reference to the danger from flattery, 
especially with reference to that class of young 
artists who have a certain amount of talent, accom- 
panied with a kind of stupid conceit which makes 
them feel superior to the necessity of learning 
anything from observation, Dupre describes a call 
with which his studio was honoured, of a widely 
different character from the foregoing. 



58 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

1 One day a certain gentleman came to see me, 
accompanied by a youth who had perhaps a quarter 
of a century on his shoulders ; well shaped, with 
shoulders broad and a little bent, perhaps on account 
of this burden of twenty-five years ; a black 
beard, brown complexion, restless eyes, looking all 
about without seeing anything. Without seeing 
anything, I say, because he bestowed the same 
amount of attention upon all objects in my studio 
indifferently, whether upon the head of the colossus 
of Monte Cavallo that stood on one of my shelves, or 
upon my cat, or upon the cast of my Abel, or upon 
my work-bench. He did not speak a word of 
Italian or of French ; but the person who attended 
him, a very proper gentleman in every respect, spoke 
for him, or rather advertised him ; for he, the 
youth, never opened his mouth, except indeed that 
he kept it half-open all the time, even when looking 
at the cat ; but he did not utter a syllable. The 
very polite companion therefore said : " I beg pardon, 
signor professore, for interrupting you a few mo- 
ments ; but I could do no less than favour you with 
a visit and the acquaintance of this young sculptor 
who is on his way to Rome not indeed to perfect 
himself there, but to exercise his splendid attainment 
in art, so wonderfully illustrative of his genius. And 
as he has been born undoubtedly to make his name 



AN ART PRODIGY. 59 

heard in all the world, I desired to bring him to you 
and enable you to know him personally, so that you 
may have the opportunity to say hereafter : I have 
seen him and have spoken with him." 

' I was petrified ; I looked at the youth, and at 
the person who had made me this speech ; then I 
replied : Pray, tell me, does this gentleman speak, 
or, at least, understand Italian ? 

'" Oh no, he speaks only English, and he is an 
American." 

' God be thanked ! I said to myself ; this poor 
youth has understood none of this. But the polite 
gentleman, mistaking the drift of my inquiry, re- 
sumed : " Now I will tell him at once all that I 
have said to you ? " 

'And he began to spin out in English the 
narrative he had spun out to me ; and that genius 
of a youth at every phrase said yes with his head, 
looking at me, at the bench, and at the cat.' 



CHAPTER V. 

He comes back to his first love and faith, or to nature, in his statue 
of Antonino The brief revolution of '48, and the speedy restora- 
tion of the old government Insomnia, interruption of his work, 
and health recovered by a visit to Naples and Rome His faith 
in nature confirmed by certain statues of Canova in St. Peter's 
at Rome Also by the sight of a living ' Venus of Milo ' in the 
Trastevere Periods of development or transition in the lives of 
artists and poets, as Raphael, Beethoven, Schiller. 

THE three years which Giovanni Dupre calls his 
years of temptation, the period of trial that most 
men of genius or of enthusiasm pass through, their 
experience in ' vanity fair ' and the captivity of 
' doubting castle,' left him at last unscathed and 
free. He points out as the occasion that brought 
about his deliverance, the long and persistent, and 
finally successful effort to model his next historical 
statue in accordance with his first ideas ; to recover 
his former ground of 'the beautiful in the natural;' 
neither accepting the beau-ideal of the Academy, 
nor the rude and minute realism of the other extreme. 
This was the statue of Saint Antonino, ordered by 



THE REVOLUTION OF '48. 61 

the Grand Duchess Maria, and to be placed, like 
the Giotto, in the court of the Uffizi. ' This model,' 
he says, ' cost me unspeakable fatigue. The subject 
demanded character, attitude, and a style altogether 
natural, like the statue of Giotto ; but, fearing the 
censure of the classicists, I made and unmade it a 
thousand ways, not only in the miniature model, 
but in that of the full size ; all to no purpose. It is 
necessary to be decided secure in the possession 
of a fixed idea.' The last of these miniature models 
in clay he always preserved as a pleasing reminder 
of an eminent musical composer. ' It is precious,' 
he says, ' for the bit of wood that supports it, which 
is no other than the pen of Giuseppe Verdi.' This 
illustrious musician and composer of opera was 
a frequent visitor at Dupre's studio when in 
Florence. 

Our artist's work was suddenly interrupted by 
the revolution of '48. Like all Italians, young and 
old, he was stirred with the hope of national liberty ; 
especially of deliverance from Austrian domination. 
' There was no petition to the government,' he says, 
'or representation to the Grand Duke in which I 
did not take part. The effect of these agitations 
was to withdraw me from my studies and from my 
labour in the studio ; and, in a word, there was 
much enthusiasm for country, little work, small gain.' 



62 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

Then he was abandoned by friends, some of whom 
blamed him for not proceeding with them to more 
violent extremes, others for going too far ; though 
what he had done was not disapproved by the 
government. Finally, with the departure of the 
Grand Duke, who had been a generous patron of 
artists, Dupre suffered in common with the rest for 
the want of employment But political reaction 
soon followed ; Leopold returned to power, and the 
Florentine studios were no longer deserted. Had 
the change of government effected by the revolu- 
tionary movement been permanent, the arts of peace, 
though temporarily interrupted, would have speedily 
adjusted themselves to the new state of things, and 
would have soon recovered from their brief depres- 
sion ; but the old dynasty was restored in too short 
a time to allow such results to manifest themselves. 
Hence the ducal government stands before us in 
the amiable attitude of the vindicator of art against 
the ruinous influences of revolution. 

The rank that Giovanni had now attained as a 
sculptor may be inferred from the fact that, on the 
death of Bartolini in 1850, he was employed to 
finish two of the works of that great master, which 
had not only been left incomplete, but scarcely yet 
shaped out in the clay. One of these was the 
Nymph of the Scorpion, for the Emperor of Russia ; 



INSOMNIA. 63 



the other was the Nymph of the Serpent, for the 
Marquis Ala-Ponzoni of Milan. 

The fortunes of our sculptor had scarcely begun 
to smile again when he was overtaken with a malady 
that threatened to bring his artistic career, if not his 
life, to a premature end ; it was the sudden pros- 
tration always to be apprehended from excess of 
mental effort and nervous strain : physical exhaus- 
tion, vertigo, fearful insomnia, deepening melancholy, 
dread of something worse than death. He must 
drop the chisel ; absolute rest was prescribed. He 
must go away from Florence, attended by the santa 
donna and the children. The good Duke Leopold 
furnished the means, and Naples was the place 
chosen. Change of air, perfect rest, above all, 
change of scene, after several months of anxious 
suspense, brought back his strength and vigour, and 
with them revived hope and cheerfulness. 

As it turned out, this dangerous passage ot our 
artist's life was the best thing that could have 
happened to him ; it removed him for a time from 
an atmosphere of aesthetic scholasticism, and it gave 
him opportunity to reflect upon his future course, 
and to reassure himself of his early convictions. 
Especially it gave him occasion on his way home to 
Florence, to make a brief sojourn in Rome, where 
he found almost by accident that encouragement of 



64 GIOVANNI DUPRE. 

a high example which the young artist so much 
needed to make him feel strong and bold in carrying 
out his own ideas and methods. For, believing 
that the true way of art was intermediate between 
extreme realism and extreme idealism, yet finding 
himself pursuing this way almost alone, he could 
not but feel occasional misgivings. And it is 
noteworthy that the authority which he there dis- 
covered, the example that served to confirm his faith 
and to make his steps hereafter fearless and firm, 
he found in the monumental works of Canova ; the 
sculptor whom of all others he had regarded as the 
chief of classical idealists ; a devotee of the beau- 
ideal. In St. Peter's at Rome there is a work of 
Canova's thought by some to be his best, and so 
much the more remarkable, because it is one of the 
very few sculptural monuments in that vast basilica 
that possess any artistic value. This is the well- 
known monument executed by Canova in 1792 in 
memory of Pope Clement XIII., whose family name 
was Rezzonico. While none can fail to be impressed 
with its imposing grandeur, and with the beauty of 
its lines, and the grace and finish of its parts, but 
few visitors bring away any vivid and enduring 
recollection of the various figures that adorn it, 
excepting only those of the famous 'lions of Canova' 
reposing on the pedestal. But in contemplating the 



CANOVA TURNED NATURALIST. 65 

figure of the Pope, and in comparing it with the 
other statues of the monument Dupre discovered, 
what the ordinary visitor in his haste and weariness 
loses sight of, and what Dupre himself had not 
before observed, that this figure is characterised by 
a living individuality, while all the others are purely 
conventional ; and so in this majestic form, at once 
beautiful and natural, coming from the chisel of the 
greatest of modern Italian sculptors, he found the 
exemplification and the complete justification of his 
own cardinal principle, ' the beautiful in the real.' 
' The decision,' says he, in recalling this visit, ' that 
was destined to end all my uncertainties, came to 
me from an idealist, let me say rather, from an 
imitator of Grecian art ; through one of his works, 
however, that was not inspired by idealism, but by 
truth. I was walking about one morning in St. 
Peter's, glancing indifferently from one object to 
another, when my eyes were arrested by the figure 
of Pope Rezzonico. How many times before had I 
passed by this grand monument with hardly a look ! 
But now I noticed for the first time in its form and 
attitude, and in its expression of rapt devotion, that 
Canova had here manifested a feeling for the imita- 
tion of nature at once profound and free from minute 
servility. It filled me with surprise, and this so 
much the greater, as I had the opportunity of con- 

F 



66 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

trasting it with the other figures of the same monu- 
ment, all patterned after the antique. This contrast 
conveyed to me a lesson that no critical treatise 
could have taught ; and at last I seemed to hear a 
voice speaking to me from the monument itself in 
these words : " See how much effort, how much 
skill, Canova has bestowed upon these statues ! 
and yet they do not speak to your heart like the 
supplicating figure of the Pope ; what is this ? 
reflect."' And Giovanni did reflect ; and he found 
that this great master in most of his works had been 
carried away by his prevailing passion for the beau- 
ideal ; but in this noble statue of Rezzonico, so 
different from the conventionalised figures decorating 
the lower part of the monument, he saw Canova's 
first love for genuine nature once more, and for a 
moment, asserting itself. It was ' a ray of that light 
under which the great artist, when still a youth, free 
in his inspiration, uncorrupted by theories, precepts, 
and praises, had conceived and executed the stupen- 
dous group of the Icarus.' In like manner he found 
the naturalness of Canova's earlier art reproduced in 
his Pius VI. The fresh confidence that the sight of 
these works inspired in him he recalled several years 
afterwards in a conversation with Augusto Conti, re- 
corded by the latter in the second of the Dialogues : 
1 But when returning from Naples, where I had spent 




CANOVA'S MONUMENT TO CLEMENT XIII. 
IN ST. PETER'S. 

To face page 67. 






ROMANI REDIVIVI. 67 

some time in the recovery of my health, I passed 
through Rome, I saw in St. Peter's some works of 
Canova not statues of finical elegance gotten up 
as it were with stays and corsets ; but his Pius VI. 
kneeling at the tomb of the Apostles, and his Pope 
Rezzonico forms in which genuine nature is 
resplendent with eternal ideality ; and feeling now 
once more the inspiration of my Abel, I said : Here, 
even here is art ! Nor since that moment have I 
ever departed from it' 

In his rambles about Rome, during this brief 
sojourn, looking at every object with an artist's eye, 
he thought he saw in the men and women of the 
ancient quarters of the city, especially in the 
Trastevere, a physical development much more after 
the type of the old Greek and Roman statues than 
the forms he was wont to see about him in the 
streets of Florence. He found also the living 
models employed by the Roman artists, for example, 
by his friends Minardi and Tenerani, more rotund, 
more robust, with better necks and shoulders than 
those of Florence. Then he began to think that 
perhaps the ancient sculptors had worked more 
closely to nature than he had been taught to believe. 
But the following incident from the Ricordi shows 
that his enthusiasm for his art led him to pursue 
these observations on the bodily traits of the des- 



68 GIOVANNI DUPRE. 

cendants of ancient Rome to a somewhat perilous 
extreme : 

' Any one familiar with the population of Rome 
must have observed the remarkable difference 
between the common people, especially those of 
the Trastevere, and the more wealthy and cultivated 
classes. The latter are more slender in form, have 
a more delicate complexion, and not unfrequently 
chestnut-coloured hair. On the contrary, the former 
are characterised by dark eyes, hair, and skin, and by 
speech and manner rough and blunt. They come 
to blows with slight provocation, and blood runs 
more readily than tears. It is easy to see in these 
people the lineal descendants of the fiery legionaries 
who planted their eagles all over the world. The 
blood of the women is not different from that of the 
men ; and if the latter carry knives in their pockets, 
the women wear a stiletto in their hair conspicu- 
ous with its silver handle sticking out from the 
masses of jet-black braids ; and this weapon they 
know how to wield on occasion to the peril of any 
poor wight who has even innocently incurred their 
wrath.' 

While passing through this quarter one Sunday 
afternoon by himself, surveying the picturesque 
groups of young men and women, and noticing in 
the forms of the latter, especially in the well-shaped 



A LIVING ' VENUS OF MILO: 69 

necks and in the carriage of the head, something 
that reminded him of the old statuary, such as the 
Minervas, the Polyhymnias, and the rest, he was 
struck with wonder by the figure and movement of 
one of the young women in particular that seemed 
to him the living model of the Venus of Milo. 
' There were three maidens,' he says, ' two of them 
short, one taller ; the latter walking between the 
other two ; she moved with a stately tread as she 
chatted with her companions. A huntsman who has 
caught sight of a hare, a creditor suddenly falling in 
with his debtor, a friend who beholds a friend he 
had supposed long dead, give but a feeble idea of 
my excitement at the sight of this magnificent 
young creature. My dear reader, I do not exagger- 
ate in the least ; I seemed to be looking at the 
Venus of Milo. The head, the neck, all that was 
visible in this girl appeared so much like that statue, 
that two drops of water are not more alike. I stood 
bewildered ; I turned round to catch another view, 
and it would have been well for me if I had been 
contented with that ; but once more was not enough ; 
and the damsel, who had no idea by a thousand 
times what I was trying to find out, or that I was 
busy in correcting an aesthetic judgment of immense 
importance to art, suddenly stopped, and drawing the 
stiletto from her hair, made a step towards me, 



GIOVANNI DUPR&. 



exclaiming : " So, Mr. Cockney, you want to let out 
some of that bad blood, do you !" I took to my 
heels, not minding which way I ran, and reaching my 
quarters in safety, told the story to my wife. And 
she gently reproached me for not carrying on my 
studies with better choice of time and place.' 

On the whole, reflecting upon this and many 
other living examples, not only in the Trastevere 
but in many places besides, and especially when he 
remembered that the nude form was everywhere 
exposed to the view of Grecian sculptors, our lover 
of nature became convinced that the great classical 
types of statuary are by no means so entirely ideal 
as we fancy them to be, and that the extreme con- 
ventionalism to which they have given occasion in 
modern art is not justly inferred ; that, on the 
contrary, if we were to study nature as scrupulously 
as did the Greeks themselves, with attention to things 
essential and the omission of indifferent matters of 
detail, she would still be the best and safest guide 
to the best and highest in art 

Dupre reached his home with restored health, and 
with all the enthusiasm of his early days ; he was 
strengthened by the examples he had discovered 
at Rome, and greatly encouraged by the words of 
his friend, the veteran Tenerani. Nor did he forget 
the classical figure of the warlike damsel of the 



A REVIEW OF THE GALLERIES. 71 

Trastevere. ' The discovery of that wonderful neck 
and head had cured me of the notion that the 
ancients had undertaken to reform nature according 
to some conceit of their own, wholly ideal and 
fanciful.' And the following interpretation which he 
now put upon the works of the past is worthy of the 
attention of all students of art : ' Before confining 
myself once more to the studio, I desired to survey 
and study again our monuments of art under the 
light of my new conyictions. I made the circuit of 
the churches, the palaces, the public and private 
galleries, as if I had been a stranger to them ; and 
for many reasons I might truly have called myself a 
stranger ; for some of them I had never visited at 
all, and the few I had seen I had looked at super- 
ficially. But from the examination I now made, I 
came to perceive clearly that the artists of all periods 
had studied the artists before them, and had always, 
at the same time, imitated nature ; always selecting 
from nature in the first place those traits that corre- 
sponded most nearly to the conception of the subject 
previously formed in the artist's thought. Hence- 
forth my way was plain, lighted up by the rays of 
truth. The objects of art I looked at now presented 
themselves to me distinctly in their real significance. 
Never had the veil that hides the subtle and deep- 
lying principles of the beautiful been so completely 



72 GIOVANNI DUPRE. 

withdrawn ; I felt myself calm, contented, and strong.' 
And so as the result of groping about during 
these latter years in the dimness of art scholasticism, 
and as the end of the struggle between straight- 
forward instinct and bewildering authority, Giovanni 
Dupre the man discovered logically what Giovanni 
the boy had known intuitively that art is, after all, 
but the best in nature, and that the artist has only 
to follow her leading with simple docility. For in 
the kingdom of art it is also true, that except one 
become as a little child, he can by no means enter 
therein. To this truth, when each recurring cycle of 
conventional art or of false classicism has had its 
day, men must ever return. 

In the course of this new survey of the galleries 
of Florence, before settling down to his work, a 
singular incident revealed to our artist in a startling 
manner what the public had understood to be the 
terrible nature of his recent malady. 

' I was in the gallery of the Pitti Palace one day, 
and passing through the hall where the statues of 
Cain and Abel had been placed, I saw a young man 
copying the latter in crayon. He appeared to be 
a foreigner, and I wished to assure myself of this 
by speaking to him. I also felt pleased to see 
him at work on a statue of mine, and I thought 
this enjoyment would be enhanced by a little talk 



A FEARFUL PERIL PAST. 73 

with him ; a feeling quite excusable, certainly, in 
a young artist. Therefore, stepping up to him, I 
said : 

'"Are you pleased with that statue?" 

' " Out, beaucoup ; and it is for that reason I am 
copying it." 

' Seeing that he did not know me, I continued : 

' " It seems to be a modern work ; is it not ?" 

' " Certainly ; so modern that the author is still 
living, though one might say he is dead." 

' " What ! I don't understand ; how can one call 
him dead if he is still living ? " And I could hardly 
keep down the wonder and emotion that these 
strange words excited in me. 

' " Indeed," he replied, " the fact is very sad, and it 
is spoken of with a certain hesitation ; but it seems 
the poor young artist, so young, and so brave " 

'"Eh, bien!" I exclaimed, interrupting his words. 

' " It seems he is becoming insane." 

' This was a fearful shock ; I remained speechless. 
His words reminded me that in the course of my 
sickness I had often dreaded the loss of my reason, 
but I had not dreamed that others entertained any 
such suspicion.' 

But this peril was happily over, and with it the 
mist of uncertainty that had so long befogged his 
pathway. In short, he was rid of the temptation to 



74 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

become somebody else instead of Giovanni Dupre. 
His confidence was restored, his sight was clear, and 
he returned to his studio with all the ardour of his 
first years. 

Those who have written the lives of men of 
genius have sometimes found in them certain stages 
of development that have led to the division of 
their biographies into characteristic periods. Marked 
examples are Raphael and Beethoven, in whose lives 
three such stages are very easily distinguishable ; 
for they both started off at the first with ideas and 
characteristics derived more or less from the great 
masters of the day, but soon manifested the force of 
an independent and creative power, and finally 
mounted clear of all traditions, and discovered an 
individuality all their own. In this respect Raphael 
and Beethoven are remarkably similar ; the one in 
his first works following the types of Perugino, the 
other those of Mozart ; the one passing from his 
first paintings of the Umbrian school, through a 
second period or one of transition, to that of the 
Cartoons, the Sistine Madonna, and the Transfigura- 
tion ; the other not less rapidly from the first 
Sonatas and the Septuor, to the Appassionata, and 
the Pastoral and Choral Symphonies. The life of 
Schiller, too, is marked by kindred changes, but he 
did not leave them to be traced out by his biog- 



STAGES IN THE ARTISTS CAREER. 75 

raphers alone ; we find them clearly defined and 
accounted for by the poet himself. His first stage 
of authorship produced quite spontaneously the 
Robbers, the Fiesco, and the Don Carlos ; but he 
then fell into philosophising over the aesthetic of 
Kant, and this led him to self-watching. Then he 
became hampered by too much criticism of his own 
work, and by the inner consciousness of his own 
mental processes ; ' seeing himself create and form ; 
watching the play of inspiration, while his fancy 
knew that she was not without witnesses of her 
own operations, and no longer moved with equal 
freedom.' 1 His only hope now was that he might 
ultimately ' advance so far that art should become 
a second nature, and that imagination then would 
regain her former freedom, and submit to none 
but voluntary limitations.' 2 And so in fact he 
worked out his way to that third and last period 
of the creation of the Wallenstein and the Maid of 
Orleans. 

Something analogous to this we find in the life of 
Dupre, especially in his 'period of temptation ;' but 
the conditions that produced these kindred results 
were widely different. A man of his education, or 
want of education, could not be disturbed, like 
Schiller, with Kantian speculations about the 

2s Life of Schiller. 2 Ibid. 



GIOVANNI DUPRE. 



aesthetic ground of the beautiful, nor shaken in 
his simple faith by any misgivings from within ; his 
temptation, as we have seen, came wholly from 
without ; it was the trembling before human 
authority. 




THEBES. 



TUSCANY. 
THE TAZZA. 



PAPAL ROME. 
To face page 77. 



CHAPTER VI. 

Fruits of his restored faith The Tazza Design for the Wellington 
monument A visit to London Gets into trouble with the police 
at the Sydenham Palace An art -study in the midst of an English 
banquet Ristori, and other Italian friends in London Paris ; 
at the villa of Rossini Return to Florence The Ferrari monu- 
ment The Sappho, and Conti's notice of it Abdication of the 
Grand Duke Leopold in 1859, and Dupre's letters to him. 

IN the Ricordi Dupre dwells upon comparatively 
few of the works that he now produced in rapid 
succession. The first of those that he has thought 
it worth while to mention, and one that well 
illustrates the restored life and vigour of the artist, 
is the so-called ' Tazza.' The commission for this 
work was given by the Grand Duke Leopold, and 
was the last received by Dupre from that unfortunate 
sovereign before his abdication in 1859. It took 
its designation from a colossal Egyptian tazza, or 
vase of porphyry, which it was designed to support 
as a pedestal. This antique Tazza. was found among 
the ruins of Rome more than four centuries ago, 
and was afterwards presented by Pope Clement VII. 



78 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

to Cosmo de' Medici. It thus became one of the 
treasures inherited by the ducal family of Tuscany, 
and was finally placed in the gallery of the Pitti 
Palace. The design of Dupre was a series of 
allegorical figures typifying the strange wanderings 
of the Tazza from the ancient home of the Pharaohs 
to the palace of the Medici at Florence. They are 
grouped around a cylindrical shaft resting upon a 
quadrangular plinth. ' The vase,' says Dupre, ' once 
adorned the garden of the Pharaohs ; it had been 
carried by the conquering Romans with the other 
spoils of Egypt to the eternal city ; then it had 
descended to the papal government, and now, at 
last, was one of the art treasures of Tuscany. To 
represent this history, I imagined four groups 
symbolising Thebes with the Genius of building, 
imperial Rome with the Genius of conquest, papal 
Rome with the Genius of religion, and Tuscany with 
the Genius of art.' The figure that personifies 
Thebes is conceived as sadly contemplating her 
grand monuments and past glories, suggested by 
the broken compass in the hands of the Genius. 
Imperial Rome crowned with oak leaves, and wearing 
a lion's skin, grasps the fasces, while her Genius bears 
a spear and a fire-brand ; papal Rome wears the 
triple tiara and the sacerdotal robes, and the accom- 
panying Genius holds a cross resting upon the 




TUSCANY. 



ALLEGORICAL DESIGNS. 79 

ground, and tramples upon a serpent ; Tuscany 
bears a sceptre in one hand, and in the other the 
Palladium of the arts ; and her Genius holds in his 
hand garlands of laurel as the rewards of merit, and 
rests upon a cippus containing the symbols of poetry, 
painting, sculpture, architecture, and music. The 
olive leaves are the sign of peace that fosters the arts. 

This was the first of those allegorical designs, 
full of thought and beauty, that became characteristic 
of Dupre. One of these, completed about the same 
period in plaster, but unfortunately not preserved, 
was that of a proposed monument to the Duke 
of Wellington. The British government had thrown 
open the competition for the plan of this monument 
to foreign artists, and Dupre among other Italian 
sculptors was induced to enter the lists. Here, too, 
he indulged his taste for allegory by placing at the 
corners of the lower base four figures representing 
respectively Military and Political Science, Temper- 
ance, and Fortitude ; on the higher base was the 
statue of Wellington attended by Victory and Peace. 
The commissioners finally gave the preference to the 
design of a native sculptor, Mr. A. G. Stephens, 
whose work now stands in St. Paul's Cathedral ; yet 
Dupre was honoured with a first premium. 

In order to exhibit the casts made for this work 
he visited London. He had never before seen the 



8o GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

world beyond the Alps, and, indeed, but little of 
Italy itself. Some of his experiences in London 
and Paris are given in his letters, and some are 
recalled in the Ricordi. The taste of the English 
in art he found less simple, severe, and pure than he 
had been led to expect ; but he found much to 
admire and study in the galleries and museums, and 
he was filled with wonder at the munificent provision 
made for the public in the way of parks and places 
for popular recreation, and, of course, at the vastness 
of London itself. ' No one, even of those who were 
born there, has seen the whole of it ; not even the 
oldest of the hack -drivers.' The Kew Gardens, 
which he describes in a letter to Amalia, and he 
takes care to inform her that the name is pronounced 
' Chiu,' he thinks more extensive and beautiful 
than the Cascine of Florence. At Hampton Court 
he finds the visitors more interested in the sumptuous 
furniture of the royal chambers than in the master- 
pieces of painting. Of these the most important 
were Mantegna's Triumph of Caesar and the Cartoons 
of Raphael (since then removed to the Kensington 
Museum). ' He who has not seen these Cartoons,' 
says Dupre, ' has no idea of the power of Raphael in 
that grand and bold style which was first introduced 
by Michelangelo.' 

At the Sydenham Palace his constitutional im- 



IN CUSTODY. 



pulsiveness betrayed him for a moment into difficulty. 
Among the numerous copies of ancient and modern 
statues, illustrating the history of sculpture, he 
suddenly came upon his own first work. ' I knew/ 
says he, ' that this must be the copy of the Abel in 
plaster made for Papi, and kept in his possession 
until a casting had been taken from it in bronze ; and 
when I saw it among these masterpieces as one of 
the examples of modern art, I felt a certain degree 
of complacency, which I hope is pardonable. But 
this satisfaction was not a little disturbed when I 
discovered a broken finger on the left hand in- 
correctly restored not only clumsy but deformed ; 
for the workman had made the last joint too short. 
Exasperated by the sight of that ugly joint, I 
gave it a rap with my cane, and it fell to the ground. 
Ill-luck would have it that one of the guards was in 
sight, and he immediately took me into custody.' 
The culprit artist was taken forthwith to the com- 
missioner of the palace, before whom he endeavoured 
to defend himself in French, which the officer under- 
stood imperfectly and spoke still worse. Dupre 
urged that the finger had been awkwardly mended, 
that it was in fact a botch, and that it ought to be 
broken off; finally, he was ready to pay for another. 
All would not do ; he was on the point of being put 
into the guard-house. 

G 



82 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

' Then,' he continues, ' I was forced to make 
myself known. At first he was not ready to accept 
my declaration ; his look seemed to say : " That's 
a strange story cannot be I don't believe it." 
Thereupon he replied, " The fact that you are the 
author, even granting you to be so, gave you no 
right to do what you have done ; but we will see at 
once whether it is true. If you are the maker of 
the statue, replace the finger." This was enough ; 
I was inwardly amused with the judgment of this 
new Solomon, as simple as just. Finding a young 
plaster-worker in the palace, and giving him direc- 
tions, while doing a little of the work myself, I 
made good the damage. So ended this adventure, 
that reminded me of the tavern proverb, He must 
pay that breaks the crockery.' 

Of course, many of the ways of the English 
seemed strange to our untravelled sculptor ; among 
other things, the toasts and after-dinner speeches at 
public banquets. He attended one of these, over 
which Lord Derby presided, and understanding 
hardly a word of English, he could only guess by 
the eye the meaning of what he saw and heard 
except that his young friend William, or ' Mino ' 
Spence, gave him now and then an explanation. 
As everywhere his art was with him, so even here 
he was making a study of the noble figure and 



A PUBLIC DINNER. 83 

bearing of an officer of the East Indian army who 
had risen to a toast. This gentleman, a colonel in 
the service, had noticed with alarm the signs of a 
speedy revolt in India, and was persuaded that it 
could only be averted by an immediate change in the 
policy of the government ; and he seized this oppor- 
tunity of an after-dinner speech to impress his fears 
upon the ministry, and to give timely warning. But 
while reprehending the errors of the colonial admini- 
stration, he made mention several times of her 
Majesty the Queen a gross violation of the English 
sense of propriety, that elicited overwhelming cries of 
disapprobation. ' With us,' said Mino Spence, in ex- 
plaining the scene to the wondering artist, ' whatever 
the question may be, no one ever names the Queen. 
Neither the grave import of the officer's statements, 
nor his denunciation, so damaging to the government, 
would in the least have touched our sensitive fibre, 
had he not been wanting so much in tact and 
prudence as to make allusions to her Majesty.' And 
so, because her Majesty was mentioned, though with 
entire respect and reverence, the warning of the 
stranger was drowned amidst indignant clamours. 
' But,' says Dupre, ' in five short months from the 
day when this poor Indian colonel tried to make 
known the truth, demonstrating the existing evils 
and their consequences, and suggesting the remedy, 



84 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

the telegraph announced the revolt (of '57), the 
peril of the English, and the cry for help.' 

That, however, which dwelt in the mind of the 
artist was the striking figure of the man, and his 
unruffled calmness in the midst of this storm of 
indignation. ' That form left in me a feeling of 
profound admiration ; and even to this day I see 
that grand figure standing there in all its masculine 
tranquillity.' And if any one should object that the 
description of such incidents is out of place in the 
reminiscences of a sculptor, he has an answer : ' The 
essential thing that we require and that we regard 
as beautiful and precious in a work of art, is the 
just expression of the affections and emotions in the 
different characters we are to represent. This pro- 
priety of expression is sought for in vain in our 
hired models. The model serves for all that is 
external attitude, proportions, physical traits, beauty 
of form but it cannot give us the turn of the head, 
the glance of the eye, the curl of the lip, the dilat- 
ing of the nostrils, and the thousand other signs of 
mental conflict For such involuntary manifestations 
of feeling the artist must be on the watch amidst 
the scenes of real life.' 

He was never quite happy away from Florence ; 
but in London his home-sickness, his longing, as 
he says in his letters, ' to return to his beautiful 



ITALIANS IN LONDON. 85 

Florence, his family, his studio,' was alleviated by 
the presence there of many Italian friends whom he 
had become familiar with at home. Besides the 
Tuscan minister at London, Count Piero Guicciar- 
dini, and other persons of rank, there were many 
Italian artists of note, including the sculptors Fedi, 
Monti, and Marrochetti ; and there were Ristori and 
Piccolomini among the brilliant representatives of 
the stage, the former with her Mary Stuart awaken- 
ing a new and almost unprecedented enthusiasm 
for the tragic drama, and the latter fascinating the 
London public with her Traviata ; ' in short, a 
veritable colony of Italians.' 

At Paris also, on the way home, he found many 
Italian friends. Chief among these was the veteran 
composer Rossini, who had in former years been 
much in Florence, and had there become attached 
to the young sculptor ; indeed Rossini had been the 
first to announce to Dupre the success of his Abel 
at the Paris exposition of 1855. Rossini had long 
ago given up the labour of composing, and was 
passing a delightful old age at his home in the 
Parisian suburb of Passy, in the midst of an admiring 
circle of artists and literary friends ; free from all 
ambition, and taking warmly by the hand every 
youthful genius whom he found struggling for recog- 
nition. Verdi's Sicilian Vespers had been recently 



GIOVANNI DUPRk. 



presented on the Parisian stage, and of course had 
not escaped rough handling on the part of musical 
critics. Dupre was with Rossini one day at dinner, 
and, as usual, many callers dropped in from time 
to time in the evening ; among them two young 
acquaintances of the old maestro whom Dupre 
took to be musicians. Passing by Madame Olimpia 
with a brief salutation, they at once asked the host 
if he had read the criticism on Verdi's last opera 
in the Revue des Deux Mondes ; and they quoted 
some passages of the savage article, with the notion 
often entertained by people of small calibre, that 
strictures on a competitor for fame would be agree- 
able to one who had already won his laurels. ( But,' 
says Dupre, ' Rossini interrupted them with these 
words : " That is no way to write a criticism on 
Verdi ; that is not the right kind of ink for him ; I 
can only laugh at it. For my part I should like to 
find any composer who could write as well ; but as 
none has yet put in an appearance, we must be 
satisfied with the music of Verdi, and we must 
applaud him (and the old man made a show of clap- 
ping his hands) when he does well, and counsel him 
as a brother where we think he could do better." 
In saying this he manifested no little irritation, 
evidently provoked that they should have tried to 
lead him into some remark in the hostile spirit 




THE ANGEL OF THE RESURRECTION. 
FROM THE FERRARI MONUMENT. IN SAN LORENZO. 



To face page 87. 



THE FERRARI MONUMENT. 87 

of the review. Thereupon he turned the conversa- 
tion.' 

Dupre became associated with Rossini a few 
years later as a member of the French Institute, 
and, on the death of the great composer in 1 868, 
was chosen to succeed him as corresponding mem- 
ber the highest honour bestowed upon foreigners 
by the Institute of France. 

The first work undertaken by our artist after his 
return to Florence was that which is known as 
the Ferrari Monument, made in honour of Bertha, 
wife of Count Ferrari Corbelli, and placed in the 
Church of San Lorenzo. It consists of a base and 
an urn or sarcophagus, above which are the figures 
of Modesty and Charity, characteristic virtues of the 
deceased Countess, and between them the Angel of 
the Resurrection bearing her spirit to heaven. 

While employed on this monument he also 
modelled the statue of Sappho, which he sub- 
sequently copied in marble and exhibited at the 
Florentine Academy in 1 863 ; a work which Augusto 
Conti has made the subject of one of the articles in 
his volume entitled Tilings of Art and History. 
The description and interpretation given in this 
article are characterised by the author's wonted 
acuteness and precision. 'Works of art,' he says, 
' first lead us to their inner idea, and in turn the 



88 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

idea makes us perceive the manner in which it has 
generated out of itself the external form. The 
statue of Dupre reveals to us at the first glance a 
young woman overwhelmed with an immense 
sorrow ; calm, nevertheless, and self-possessed in the 
very security of despair. This you see in her 
posture as she sits in total abandonment, with her 
head inclined, with a fixed gaze, and with an ex- 
pression on the brow and in the lips and eyes of 
unutterable sadness. The lineaments are those that 
we habitually associate with the Grecian face, espe- 
cially the outline of the nose and forehead not 
absolutely straight (for this is a kind of mannerism 
that is false to nature), but nearly straight. The 
fashion of the tunic and mantle, thrown round the 
middle of the figure, also indicates that she is a 
Greek. By her side rests a lyre with broken strings, 
a sign that the instrument is forgotten in the anguish 
that possesses her soul. She is therefore a Greek 
poetess. Where, now, is she seated ? On a cliff by 
the seashore ; and her eyes look out upon the 
waves. Then, the garments thrown off from the 
shoulders, as if to leave the movements of the body 
free from all restraint, lead us to divine that she is 
about to spring from the rock. No doubt it is 
Sappho. So clear is the indication of the subject 
that it cannot be mistaken for any other ; every one, 




SAPPHO IN DESPAIR. 



To face page 88. 



THE SAPPHO. 



even of moderate intelligence, can understand what is 
represented prime excellence in a work of art.' The 
artist's idea, therefore, was the love, the despair, and 
the suicide of Sappho. And how did he proceed 
from this idea to his particular conception and out- 
ward expression of it ? He must select a moment 
at once well known by tradition and propitious to 
his art. This could not be, as it might have been, 
perhaps, in painting, the fatal leap itself an action 
incompatible with the conditions of statuary but it 
must be, to resume the words of Conti, ' the moment 
just prior to that action ; when Sappho, firmly re- 
solved and ready for death, yet lingers an instant on 
the threshold of life, to give one thought of tender 
anguish to the dear and terrible image that at once 
holds her to the world and impels her to leave it.' 
The negligence, self-forgetfulness, and utter abandon- 
ment expressed in the whole figure, in every member 
and in every detail, are in perfect keeping with this 
motive. It is the unity characteristic of true art. 
The execution and handling are not less admir- 
able than the artistic form, and the work in all its 
parts bears the impress of a hand free from all the 
trammels of prescriptive usage. ' The breast, the 
torso, the shoulders, arms, hands, and feet, and finally 
the face, exhibit no trace of mannerism or, as we now 
say, conventionalism ; they show us that the artist is 



90 GIOVANNI DUPRE. 

a disciple of beautiful nature ; in Dante's words, the 
master turned pupil (discente il maestro}' 

After Dupre had modelled the Sappho, and long 
before he had made the marble copy which elicited 
the above critical notice of Conti, occurred the great 
national crisis that ended in the abdication of the 
Grand Duke Leopold II. This event could not be 
otherwise than unfortunate, for a moment, at least, to 
the Florentine artists who had been so generously 
patronised by the ducal government, and particularly 
to Dupre, however much he may have rejoiced in the 
deliverance of his country from Austrian rule, and in 
the near prospect of a union of the states of Italy. 
That the immediate disadvantage to him in his 
personal interests was very great, can be inferred 
from the account he gives us of the commissions 
that he had just then received from the Grand Duke. 
One of these was to design and superintend the 
decoration of a chapel of the Madonna in Leghorn, 
and to execute himself the sculptural work that he 
might introduce into the general plan, while he was 
to choose and direct all the artists he might need to 
carry out the architectural and pictorial parts of his 
design. Besides this, the Duke had ordered from 
him monuments to his father Ferdinand III., his 
brother, his sister, and several deceased children. 
These were to be placed in one of the chapels of 



THE GRAND DUKE LEOPOLD. 91 

San Lorenzo. The designs prepared by our artist 
for all these works, and also for the decoration of the 
chapel in which the family monuments were to be 
erected, had already been accepted by Leopold, and 
their execution ordered, when, says Dupre, 'the 2/th 
of April 1859, foreseen by many, unexpected by 
few, came upon us, and brought all these plans to 
nothing.' The aged Leopold on his abdication 
retired to Austria, where he died in 1870. 

Ingratitude is impossible in a nature like Dupre's ; 
in fact, that sensibility which is an essential element 
of the character of a truly great artist can hardly 
fail to show itself in all the relations of life 
especially to make him keenly alive to favours 
received, and true to those who have helped him in 
dark hours. Such a man cannot be a mere courtier 
of sunshiny days, 'fleeing with the faithless crowd 
when fortune deserts the house ;' such, at any rate, 
was not Dupre to the Grand Duke Leopold. While 
he accepted like all other patriotic Italians the great 
political change that made Italy a united kingdom, 
he did not forget his personal obligation to the de- 
throned Sovereign, nor lose any opportunity of 
avowing his admiration and love for a Prince who 
had been devoted to the welfare of his subjects, 
liberal in the patronage of art, and full of kindness 
for Dupre in his early trials. There are two letters 



92 GIOVANNI DUPRk, 

of our artist written to Leopold when residing in 
Vienna, soon after his abdication, from which I give 
the following passages expressing his undying attach- 
ment both to the Grand Duke and to his Duchess, 
Maria : ' At the end of the honoured letter of your 
Highness you say that you would be happy if it 
were allowed you to employ my hand in some work 
that would do honour to our country. This wish of 
yours has affected me with lively emotion, and has 
at once reminded me of the many labours with which 
I have been commissioned by your Highness the 
Abel, the Cain, the pedestal of the Tazza, that of the 
Tavola, 1 and others. But my memory does not stop 
there ; I recall the deplorable state of health to 
which I was reduced in '53 a condition which 
without the succour given by your Highness would 
undoubtedly have led to my death even by the 
confession of the physicians questioned by me after 
my recovery. The memory of that time and of that 
peril makes me look upon your help as help from 
the Lord, who had ordained that I should still live ; 
and all the other works that I have made since that 
recovery, even these can be said to have been made 
by virtue of your kindness. I desire your Highness 
to believe that this thought always abides in me, 

1 A table of Florentine mosaic, called the ' Table of the Muses,' for 
which Dupre had made a pedestal ornamented with figures in bronze. 



THE GRAND DUCHESS MARIA. 93 

whatever work I am ending, whatever new work I 
am beginning ; because I am conscious that your 
generous aid, rendered at that moment, is always the 
cause, humanly speaking, of every work of mine!' 
And of Leopold's wife, who had come to his help 
earlier than Leopold himself, he writes : ' I beg to 
extend my respectful greeting to the Grand Duchess. 
It was she who ordered from me the Giotto at a 
moment when I was in great difficulty the moment 
of the famous criticism upon my Abel, which aimed 
to place the work of my hand on a level with that of 
a common moulder. It was a blow ruthlessly struck 
at my reputation, though the truth broke its force, 
or rather turned it back on my assailants. But yet 
at that time there were not wanting some who gave 
credit to the story. And just then the Grand 
Duchess had the courage to order from me the 
Giotto.' 



CHAPTER VII. 

Florence the capital of Italy Architectural and sculptural adorn- 
ment of the old churches Aided by English residents Dupre's 
bas-relief of the Triumph of the Cross made for Santa Croce by 
order of Sir Francis Sloane The Pieta and the Christ Risen 
Shattered health, and a second visit to Naples and Rome The 
beautiful form of a Pompeian girl left moulded in the hardened 
slime of Vesuvius Art lesson from this -Recovery of health 
At Paris with his daughter Amalia in 1867 Grand medal of 
honour Reception of Napoleon III. at the Tuileries Meets a 
would-be patroness Once more at Rossini's villa. 

THE interruption to the arts of peace occasioned 
by the events of "59' was after all but moment- 
ary, and perhaps no city had so little cause for com- 
plaint as Florence ; for it became for several years 
the capital of the new kingdom of Italy, and its 
local interests received a powerful impulse from the 
relations it thus assumed to the court, the parlia- 
ment, and the country at large. Art, of course, was 
not suffered to languish, nor could Dupre, now the 
foremost of Florentine sculptors, be left unoccupied. 
It happened, too, that an enterprise was just then on 
foot that called for the exercise of his art in a sphere 



OLD UNFINISHED CHURCHES. 95 

which he preferred to all others. The restoration of 
the architectural monuments of Italy, so long exposed 
to the injuries of time and violence, and the completion 
of those that have stood for centuries unfinished, have 
of late years deeply interested not only the Italian 
municipalities, but also the many English residents 
of the country. One enterprise of this kind in 
Florence was the building of the fagade of Santa 
Croce, or Church of the Holy Cross, completed 
according to the plans of the architect Niccola Matas 
in 1863 ; and another, that of the Cathedral or 
Duomo, the Church of Santa Maria del Fiore, begun 
in 1867 by the late Emilio de Fabris, and still in 
progress. Both of these grand edifices, as well as 
the Church of San Lorenzo, had stood for centuries 
with their principal fronts ' in the rough,' unfinished, 
unsightly, and in painful contrast to the beauty of 
their interiors. 

The new fronts were so designed as to call for a 
great number of sculptural works either in the 
form of bas-reliefs or statues, and thus afforded to 
the sculptors of Italy an opportunity of associating 
their art and their names with two of the most 
venerable architectural monuments of Europe. In 
the sculptural designs for both buildings the chief 
place was given to Dupre. To him were assigned 
the colossal figures of the Virgin, to be placed in the 



96 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

tabernacles above the central portals of the two 
churches, and also several of the historical statues 
for the niches in the fagade of the Cathedral. The 
Madonna for the Cathedral, and the other statues he 
was expected to make for that building, he did not 
live to execute ; but in 1860, soon after the abdica- 
tion of Leopold, he commenced the work for Santa 
Croce. The figure of the Virgin for the fagade he 
modelled as the Madonna addolorata, the weeping 
mother of Christ. When he had finished the model, 
and before he had put his hands to the marble, he 
was solicited by an English gentleman, Sir Francis 
Sloane, a member of the building commission, and 
the most generous contributor to its funds, to furnish 
also the works in bas-relief embraced in the design 
of the same fagade. There were to be three of these, 
one over each of the portals. Dupre was unwilling 
to undertake the whole series, but he consented to 
make the central and principal one, and to super- 
intend the execution of the other two, if they should 
be assigned to his former pupils Sarrocchi and 
Zocchi ; a proposition which Sir Francis readily 
accepted. The subjects of the three were selected 
with reference to the name of the church ; that of 
Sarrocchi was the Discovery of the Cross, by Saint 
Helena ; that of Zocchi, Constantine's Vision of the 
Cross ; and that of Dupre, The Triumph of the Cross. 



THE TRIUMPH OF THE CROSS. 97 

On such a theme our artist was at home ; his 
inbred religious feeling and his reverent admiration 
for those whom he regarded as the heroes of 
Christianity, a sentiment fostered in his mind by the 
habitual reading of Dante, could find here full and 
free expression. He says : ' The Triumph of the 
Cross seemed to me a subject that must be repre- 
sented in sculpture by historical and typical person- 
ages that had been won and subdued by its divine 
love.' Starting off with this idea, he has found 
expression for it in an assemblage of figures, historical 
and allegorical, which in arrangement, form, and 
attitude, in harmony of lines, in unity of thought, in 
nobility of character, in beauty and sublimity of 
general effect, has never been surpassed in modern 
art. He has left in the Ricordi his own interpreta- 
tion of the design ; substantially the same which 
he gave in the course of familiar conversations to 
Augusto Conti, and which the latter has introduced 
into his first Dialogue as the basis of his profound 
remarks on the underlying principles of art. Here 
it will only be necessary to give a brief summary of 
the artist's description. 

The cross appears in the upper part of the field, 
emitting rays of light, and surrounded with adoring 
angels ; the kneeling angel, on the mountain -top 
below the cloud, is the symbol of intercessory prayer, 

H 



98 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

or of petitions ascending to God, and of His grace 
communicated to men. On the right is a group made 
up of the figures of St. Paul, prostrate under the 
light of the cross ; St. Thomas Aquinas offering 
his book of the Summa ; Heraclius, Emperor of the 
eastern empire, whom tradition represents to have 
recovered the cross from the Persians ; Constantine, 
drawing his sword, ready to fight under the new 
banner ; lastly, the Countess Matilda and, at the 
extreme right, Mary Magdalene. The group on the 
left consists of five figures : St. Augustine, wearing 
the episcopal mitre ; then Charlemagne, bearing the 
globe and the sword ; next, the poet Dante ; at the 
end St. Francis of Assisi ; and, in the rear, the 
figure of a Christian martyr, over whose head appears 
a palm as the token of martyrdom. These two 
principal groups are brought into artistic connec- 
tion by two exceedingly interesting figures, the 
one on the left, a barbarian just coming under the 
influence of the cross, and the one in the centre, a 
slave set free ; the two representing respectively the 
deliverance of the world from barbarism and from 
slavery under the benign and sure, though gradual, 
working of Christianity. Such are the characters 
that in the mind of Dupre best represented the 
glory of the cross. What forms, what expression, 
what purity, what individuality, diversity, unity ! 



DEVOTIONAL ART. 99 

We discover at once in this grand bas-relief the 
same fervour of devotion that inspired the works of 
Masaccio and Fra Angelico, combined with the 
breadth of treatment and the depth of meaning that 
characterise the art of the Raphaelitic age. To be 
properly appreciated, indeed, it must be looked at, 
just like the works of those earlier centuries, from the 
religious standpoint of the artist, born and bred not 
only in the bosom of the papal church, but in Italy, 
the centre and home of the papacy. Hence he 
naturally singles out as the historical representatives 
of the progress and development of Christian civilisa- 
tion, chiefly those personages who have been con- 
spicuous not merely in the Christian world at large, 
but especially in their relation to the history of Rome 
and of Italy. 

The Triumph of the Cross was soon followed by 
two works of a kindred nature, reflecting still more 
perfectly, if possible, the devotional spirit of the 
earlier periods of the renaissance. These were the 
Pieta and the Risen Christ ; the first made for a 
mortuary chapel in Siena, the other for a similar 
chapel in Buti. Dupre was unwilling for the present 
to take any new commissions ; and he had good 
reason. Most of the works he had undertaken 
during the last five years were still on his hands, and 
in different stages of progress, from the crayon 



ioo GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

sketch to the final copy in marble ; his thoughts 
were running upon them by night as well as by day, 
and at last, in the winter of 1863, he found himself 
prostrated by the same nervous malady that had 
overtaken him ten years before. Again he resorted 
with his family to Naples, and with the same happy 
result. Withdrawal from the excitement of the 
studio, the balmy atmosphere, and the cheerful life of 
Naples, solicitous attentions of his artist friends, and 
the tender offices of his own family, soon lifted him 
out of this state of depression. Meantime one of the 
figures upon which he had been long engaged, and 
one only, haunted him even here. This was the 
mourning mother of Christ in the group of the Pieta, 
the head of which he had left in the studio just 
formed in clay. ' This alone of all,' he says, ' came 
up before me as in a vision ;' and he writes in reply 
to the Marquis Ruspoli, who had visited the studio 
in Dupre's absence : ' You say that the head of the 
Madonna moved you to tears, and I am not 
surprised ; I myself have wept in making it, and it 
is impossible that my emotion should not be trans- 
ferred to a heart like yours. I confess to you, this 
work has cost me much and intense feeling ; so that 
scarcely a day passes that I do not see it in my 
mind. The Madonna I saw before making it, just 
as I have made it.' 



IN POMPEII. 101 



He now once more visited Pompeii, but this time 
with Fiorelli, the eminent scholar and engineer, who 
had lately taken charge of the excavations, and was 
conducting the work with great energy, and with 
very interesting results. And, singularly enough, our 
artist found here, as he thought, new ground for his 
belief in Grecian naturalism ; and it was in the 
beautiful form of one of the casts that Fiorelli had 
obtained by running plaster in the moulds left by 
skeletons in the hardened mixture of volcanic ashes 
and mud. Four of these had been made from a 
group of two men and two women recently found. 
In a letter to Venturi, after speaking of the rest, 
Dupre says, ' The younger of the women has a form 
so beautiful, and feet so small and graceful, that we 
can no longer be permitted to say that Greek statues 
were absolutely ideal. No again and again, no 
they selected ; and they knew how to portray nature 
with breadth and simplicity.' Here was confirmation 
of the faith inspired ten years before by that living 
and lively example in the Trastevere at Rome ; but 
here at Pompeii our sculptor could stand before the 
silent form of this poor maiden of eighteen hundred 
years ago, and study it at his leisure with no fear of 
her resentment or of any keen stiletto. 

After a rest of about two months he returned to 
Florence, stopping at Rome a few days on the way. 



102 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

Of course he went to the Vatican ; but thoughtful 
inspection of the masterpieces there was a little too 
' trying ' for an invalid, or rather, a convalescent ; 
therefore he determined to look at them this time, 
as he says, 'English fashion;' meaning, no doubt, 
the manner of sight-seeing practised by the average 
English and American tourist, with a guide-book in 
hand, checking each capital article as fast as it is 
' done,' as if verifying the items of a bill of sale. 
Accordingly Giovanni walked through the halls in 
the tourist manner, and found his brain entirely 
untasked. In a letter from Rome he says to 
Venturi : ' I am better, I repeat it, but I find that 
any close attention to things of art affects me 
unpleasantly. The other day I undertook to spend 
some time in the halls of the Vatican and in the 
Sistine Chapel, and those masterpieces occasioned 
me severe pain in the head, trembling, and nervous 
agitation. Thereupon I made up my mind to look 
at these wonders of art all' Inglese, rather than in 
my own way. I enjoy them less, to be sure, but I 
escape the pain ; that is all.' 

His next letter is dated from the studio in 
Florence, where, he says, he has resumed his work 
with the feeling almost of a new man, as he looks 
upon that statue which he had abandoned in such a 
state of deep despondency. 'That Madonna's head 



PARIS IN 1867. 103 



which, when I left it, seemed to be grieving also for 
me, appeared to me now to express so well the 
mourning Madonna that I made no alteration in it ; 
it remained, and is such as I left it, when I was 
tortured with that fearful, insupportable confusion 
and rumbling that crazed my head. My cheeks were 
wet with tears of love and gratitude before that head 
of clay, and full of confidence I entered again upon 
my labours. My thoughts went back to the days of 
my suffering, when the fear of losing my reason 
filled me with dread, and when I did not care to 
look at my children and my dear wife ; and these 
memories increased the joy I felt in the conscious- 
ness of my present condition, and I thanked the 
Lord from the depth of my heart.' 

The Tazza, the Triumph of the Cross, the Pieta, 
and the Risen Christ were the works chosen by 
Dupre to represent his studio at the French exposi- 
tion of 1867. On this occasion he made a second 
visit to Paris, taking with him his daughter Amalia, 
who also had become favourably known through her 
graceful works in sculpture. This was the first of 
the great world expositions that Dupre had visited ; 
six years later he was present also at the similar 
exposition of Vienna. In both he served as one of 
the jury on sculpture, and in the latter as president 
of the jury. His opinion of the worth of such 



104 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

gigantic displays of art and industry was somewhat 
in advance of public sentiment. The vast accumula- 
tion of objects of every conceivable kind, from all 
countries, forcing upon our attention ' all that 
human knowledge and ingenuity have invented from 
Adam down,' the ever-moving stream of the many- 
tongued multitude, bewilder the sight and the brain ; 
' the senses are overwhelmed ; our eyes lose all 
power of discernment, and the mind is afloat in a 
boundless sea. Confusion and weariness unfit us for 
intelligent observation ; we cease to be even amused.' 
Dupre very justly thinks that such surroundings are 
especially unfavourable to the study and the proper 
estimate of works of art. ' At first we look at them 
one by one;' but soon .discouraged, 'we take them 
two by two,' and so on. 'World expositions are 
great fairs, great markets ; for the advancement of 
the fine arts they serve no good purpose whatever ; 
they vitiate art, vitiate the public taste.' 

And this judgment was not at all the outcome 
of disappointed hopes, or of wounded pride. An 
unsuccessful exhibitor might very naturally have 
said something like this in the bitterness of defeat ; 
but Dupre received at the Paris exposition of 1867 
the highest of all the honours bestowed upon the 
Italian sculptors. The number of pieces of statuary 
exhibited was upwards of six hundred, chiefly from 



A GRAND MEDAL. 105 

France, Bavaria, Prussia, Austria, and Italy. The 
premiums were only thirty-six, and of these, six went 
to Italy ; to Dupre was awarded the grand medal of 
honour. He had believed that the eminent sculptor 
Vela, of Milan, would win this distinction, and said 
in one of his letters to his family, ' It seems certain 
that one of the grand medals will be given to my 
friend Vela, and he certainly deserves it ; the other 
three, perhaps, will be awarded to France and 
Prussia.' But there was a potent influence at work 
in favour of Dupre, that neither he nor his com- 
petitors had reckoned upon. His children at home 
were praying to the Virgin in behalf of babbo. Of 
this he was assured by his daughter Beppina in one 
of her letters, and babbo in his answer says, 'Mia 
cara Beppina, I am just now from the sitting of the 
jury, and hasten at once to answer your sweet letter. 
It is true that the Napoleon I. of Vela is a beautiful 
statue ; there is always a crowd around it, and conse- 
quently everybody said it would get the highest award, 
and I have given him my vote ; but the public, and I, 
and you, my dear Beppina, were wrong ; for the first 
premium has come to me to me, tuo padre! Vela 
received two votes besides mine. You see, mia cara 
figlia, how the Holy Virgin has heard your prayer.' 

While attending a reception of Napoleon III., 
given at the Tuileries in honour of the foreign 



106 GIOVANNI 



visitors at the exposition, our artist took part in a 
scene that proved him a very ill -trained courtier. 
To make his reader understand the incident, he is 
obliged to premise the following occurrence of an 
earlier date : The Princess Matilda, sister of Jerome 
Bonaparte, had often visited the studio of the young 
sculptor in the days of his poverty, and had taken 
much of his time in sitting for a portrait statue ; but 
just before her divorce from Prince Demidoff, she 
had hurried away from Florence, promising Dupre 
either to return and resume the sittings, or to com- 
pensate him for the labour already performed. The 
artist, however, had heard nothing further from the 
lady, though he had sent to her as a present and as 
a delicate reminder, some time after her departure 
for Paris, a statuette copy of one of his works. But 
this courtesy on his part had elicited no word of 
acknowledgment ; and for twelve years she had 
ignored his existence. But now the sculptor had 
become conspicuous enough to be recognised even 
by princely eyes. ' I was presented by our Minister 
Nigra to the Emperor, who had upon his arm the 
Princess Matilda. As soon as she caught sight of 
me she said, " Ah, we have known each other for a 
long time!" Now I, calling to mind her shabby 
treatment of me, made a show of not knowing any- 
thing at all about her ; and the Emperor with his 



ROSSINI AND DOR. 107 

sleepy eyes gazed upon me with an expression that 
seemed to mean either that he thought me wonder- 
fully forgetful or a wonderful simpleton. The Prin- 
cess passed on without giving me another look.' 

Once more he enjoyed for a few days the society 
of Rossini and his friends. The old composer was 
still overflowing with melody, and even now he 
occasionally entertained his visitors with something 
new. ' He gave musical evenings,' Dupre writes, 
' and sometimes sat at the piano himself and accom- 
panied his unpublished romances. I recall two of 
singular beauty, one of them touchingly sad in the 
subject and words as well as the notes : it was a 
father robbed of his child, the lament, full of pathos 
and tenderness, ending every strophe : " Ah, who, 
who, hath found my child ?" The words, I was told, 
were from the Roman poet Castellani. The other 
was a brilliant aria, bold and full of fire, a burst of 
passionate love, with a Tyrolese refrain ; and it was 
sung by that most imaginative genius Gustave Dore. 
Such,' he continues, ' were the elegant reunions, 
fruitful, instructive, full of life and sweetness, from 
which one returned with the mind more elevated 
and the heart more glowing ; but, oh! ' In a few 
short months that charming circle was dissolved by 
the death of the illustrious maestro ; and how few 
of those who were wont to assemble there are still 



io8 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

surviving ! Rossini's villa, too, at Passy stands now 
a ghastly ruin, shattered by the cannon of the 
besiegers and the besieged of 1870. 

This was the painful thought, no doubt, that cut 
short the sentence. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Engages to make a portrait bust before knowing the sitter Honour 
from his native Siena At the exposition of Vienna in 1873 made 
president of the jury on sculpture German music Returning, 
completes the monument of Count Cavour Relations to Pius IX. 
Death of his daughter Luisina And that of his wife, Maria. 

AFTER an absence of only a few weeks at the ex- 
position, the artist was again in his studio, where, 
however, the work was never intermitted even when 
the master was abroad. Monumental, ideal, or 
portrait statuary was always in progress under the 
hands of his assistants. Like other sculptors he 
was often employed in making portrait busts or 
statues while executing works of a higher order. 
Some of these he mentions in the Ricordi, and 
one in particular was made under such peculiar 
circumstances that he gives a full account of it. 
In fact it was the bust of a personage hated by 
all patriotic Italians, not excepting Dupre himself 
which most likely he would not have under- 
taken, unless he had found himself involved in a 



no GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

promise to do it before he had learned the name of 
the subject. 

' One day a gentleman asked to speak with me. 
He was about sixty years old, tall and spare, with 
very deep-set eyes, heavy and shaggy eyebrows, and 
long moustaches ; he was quick in movement and 
proud in bearing. His features had that marked 
individuality which instantly catches the eye of an 
artist, and inspires him with the desire of making 
them a study. This s ignore says to me : 

' " Would it be agreeable to you to make my 
portrait?" 

' " Yes," I reply. 

' " How many sittings will be necessary for the 
model ?" 

' " Six, or eight, or more, according to their length." 

' " When can you begin ? " 

' " The first of next week." 

' " Very well ; I will be with you Monday at 
what hour?" 

' " At nine in the morning, if not inconvenient." 

' " Addio, till Monday. Do you know who I am ?" 

' " I have not that honour." 

' " I am Marshal Haynau." 

' He went away, and there was I ! Should I say 
that I felt pleased on hearing that name I should 
be false to myself; and yet the remarkable character 



HAYNAU. in 

of that face, the curiosity to learn by conversation 
something of the savageness and ferocity of such a 
man, and, last of all, the engagement I had made, 
would not permit me to give up the work. I need 
not say how much censure it called forth from my 
friends, and still more from those who were not 
my friends. His talk with me at the sittings made 
him appear to be a man without fierce passion or 
savage cruelty, though severe in military discipline, 
and inexorable in the punishment of rebel soldiers. 
Of such punishments he made no secret. The 
names of the Hungarian generals and civilians he had 
ordered to be shot he mentioned to me with as much 
indifference as if it had been the most natural thing 
in the world ; and when I reproached him for such 
inhumanity, he replied that nothing else could pos- 
sibly be done with rebels, and that if he had acted 
otherwise he would himself have been punished. 
But when I charged him with the cruel treatment of 
women and children, and of all sorts of harmless 
persons, accounts of which I had seen in the news- 
papers, he denied it altogether, and also added the 
following anecdote, the truth of which, of course, I 
cannot vouch for : When he gained his victory at 
Pesth, and had in his hands the chiefs of the revolu- 
tion, a council of war condemned them all to death. 
Among them were the Archbishop of Pesth and the 



ii2 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

Count Karoli. Haynau was clothed with supreme 
authority as the. after ego, and consequently had no 
need of the Emperor's sanction. The Archbishop, 
however, as well as Karoli, had powerful adherents 
and friends at Vienna, who brought their influence to 
bear so effectually that just one hour before the 
appointed time of the execution their pardon came 
from the Emperor. But as the Marshal believed 
them, on account of their rank, to be the most 
guilty of all, and thought it unjust to spare them 
and sacrifice the others, he had all the prisoners 
summoned before him, and announcing to the two 
fortunate ones the imperial pardon, added these 
words : " It is my conviction, by reason of the evi- 
dence in my hands, which has been examined by the 
council of war, that the Archbishop and the Count 
Karoli are the most guilty of you all ; but since our 
most gracious Sovereign has saved them from the 
penalty they have deserved, it is not just that the 
less guilty should suffer it ; therefore, in virtue of 
the power of the alter ego with which I am invested, I 
grant life and pardon to you all." ' Dupre says he 
has preserved in this narrative the very words of 
Haynau. 

The Austrian Marshal urged him, when the bust 
had been finished, to execute a full-length statue 
also ; but the artist declined to make any further 



MEMORIAL BUSTS. 113 

contribution to the immortality of such a man. 
What he had already done was repugnant to his 
patriotism, though not to his artistic spirit. Of 
course his motive was not understood, and his 
reputation as an Italian citizen, for the time, was 
somewhat prejudiced ; yet he found zealous defenders, 
and among them the painter Bezzuoli. ' An artist,' 
said the latter, in vindication of Dupre, ' when 
making a portrait, deals with his art, not with 
politics. If the person whose likeness is sculptured 
is a villain, he remains a villain, portrait or no 
portrait. Such are Tiberius and Nero, and other 
beasts like them, whose statues, nevertheless, are a 
delight to the eye.' The remark of Bezzuoli has 
reference to such portraits as the magnificent sitting 
statue of Tiberius in the Vatican. 

Not long after Dupre's second visit to Paris, the 
municipal council of Siena employed Tito Sarrocchi, 
his old pupil, to execute a bust of his former master. 
Another was made some time afterwards by Amalia 
Dupre for the church in the parish of Onda where 
the sculptor was born. Underneath the former was 
placed this inscription : ' To Giovanni Dupre, of 
Siena, who has added to the glories of Italian art by 
the wonders of his chisel, and new and immortal glory 
to the city of Siena : XII July MDCCCLXVII.' 
By such acts and expressions Italian cities mani- 
I 



ii4 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

fest the generous estimate put upon their great 
artists, and thus they furnish incentives to art 
production. 

At Vienna in 1873 Italian sculptors exhibited 
two hundred and fifteen statues. At this exposition 
Dupre, as before remarked, was made president of 
the jury on sculpture, and he took advantage of his 
authority to call the members frequently together, 
and to have their report ready at an early day ; for 
he had very soon tired of ' that perfect Babel,' and 
was impatient to be at home again, and in the 
studio. The labour of the jury was greatly increased 
by the bad arrangement of the statuary ; not being 
brought together at one point in a common depart- 
ment of art, but scattered about through the vast 
area of ' the world show,' amongst the different 
nationalities. So much the more time and self- 
sacrifice, therefore, were required on the part of the 
commissioners, and so much greater was the difficulty 
of keeping them at work. ' You may be sure,' he 
writes to his daughters, ' I have made these gentle- 
men trot about. As you may easily imagine, some 
of them are bent on amusement, and would gladly 
spin out the examination for many days, making 
frequent excursions, and having a good time ; but I 
have been rather hard on them. No, signori, I 
said ; we are here on this business, and it must be 



GERMAN MUSIC. 115 

brought to an end promptly ; this done, as much 
rest and pleasure as you wish.' 

Now and then he found relief from the labours of 
the commission in the grateful and solemn quiet of 
the Cathedral, and especially in the singing he heard 
there. Never before had he known anything about 
German music its rich and varied harmonies and 
its wonderful execution. His letters contain many 
expressions of the new emotion of delight awakened 
in him by a kind of music which, he says, was 'a 
revelation.' To his family he writes : ' My dearest 
ones, I have been to the mass at St. Stephen's, 
which is the Cathedral, a fine church, Gothic, of 
course, a little smaller than our Duomo. Before, 
during, and after the mass there were hymns sung 
with organ accompaniment alone, but more perfect 
than I can express musica stupenda sad and 
sweet, too few choir singers, but accompanied by 
the whole people in a subdued voice. It seemed to 
me like the sighing of angels, tender and loving. 
Music so beautiful, and sung with such deep and 
thoughtful devotion, is a thing of heaven ; and I 
could almost say, the most spiritual of the arts, the 
most direct and lively manifestation of the divine 
essence. Never before have I heard this kind of 
music or this kind of singing.' And not less wonder- 
ful did he find the perfection to which the Germans 



u6 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

had brought the execution of operatic and orchestral 
music. During his visit the Lohengrin of Wagner was 
produced, and he attended the performance. Here, 
too, he gained new ideas of the capabilities of musical 
art. ' The harmony of sounds is something deeper, 
more ultimate, more mysterious than the harmony of 
lines and colours. As the harmonious relation or 
affinity of external things that constitutes the beauti- 
ful pertains not only to their material nature but still 
more to the spirit that breathes from within, there- 
fore the beauty that emanates from the divine har- 
mony of sound has a more subtle and living quality, 
because in this the soul manifests itself directly and 
without any intervening material veil. Our mind is 
drawn to it by a strong impulse of affection, because 
the mind is also a part of immortal beauty, and has 
an irresistible longing to be united with it.' He clearly 
grasps the truth that the several arts of the beautiful 
have one common source in our spiritual nature, that 
they stand on the same ground and are one in 
essence ; and he suspects, that if there be any 
difference in excellence, the highest, as being the 
most spiritual, is music. Strange that so many 
learned and elaborate histories of art should contain 
not a chapter, not a word on the art which is the 
purest, highest, and most enduring of all. 

A few weeks after his return from Vienna, Dupre 



THE CAVOUR MONUMENT. 117 

completed a work upon which he had been employed 
more or less constantly during the last eight years. 
This was the monument to Count Cavour, erected at 
Turin, and unveiled in November 1873 the most 
elaborate and imposing of all his works. Many 
artists had presented designs for this monument in 
the competition invited by the national commis- 
sioners ; but Dupre had not been one of the number ; 
in fact, when the designs first offered had all been 
rejected, he had been appointed as one of a new jury 
to decide upon a second competition ; but when this 
also failed to secure any satisfactory plan, the com- 
mission invited Dupre himself to design and execute 
the monument according to his own judgment, ' leav- 
ing him free to determine its size, the treatment 
of the subject, the material to be employed, and the 
place where it should stand.' 

He had several reasons for declining : ' First, 
because a subject of entirely political significance was 
difficult and foreign to his nature and to his studies; 
then, because it seemed to him a delicate matter to 
accept the work, as he had been one of the judges in 
the competition ; finally, because the plan presented 
by Vela (which Dupre had voted for on the jury) 
seemed to him good enough. But,' says he, 'my 
refusal and my reasons for it were not sufficient to 
prevent their urging me persistently to undertake 



u8 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

the task ; which, indeed, while it involved difficulties 
of treatment great and even hazardous, at the same 
time afforded an opportunity for distinction that 
seldom occurs, and that might well have tempted 
artists of higher expectations than I had been wont 
to cherish. However, I should have persisted in my 
refusal, if a gentle and most noble lady had not 
added her personal entreaties, touching also upon 
certain family ties and affections, that always find in 
me an echo of assent.' In his letter finally accepting 
the commission he expresses the hope ' that he may 
conceive a monument that will at once possess beauty 
of form, and speak to the multitudes the language of 
liberty and of national honour, while commemorating 
the services and the achievements of the great states- 
man.' 

He asked eight years for the completion of the 
work, and found in the end that this long period, 
while other engagements were pending, was barely 
sufficient. The expense was provided for by the 
contributions of the provinces of the new and united 
Italy, as an expression of the admiration and grati- 
tude felt by the whole country for its great statesman 
and diplomatist. 

The following explanation of the design is sub- 
stantially that which is given by the sculptor himself 
in the Ricordi : Cavour is represented standing 




THE MONUMENT TO COUNT CAVOUR. IN Tu: 



To face page 119. 



THE CAVOUR MONUMENT. 119 

enveloped in his funeral robes, as if prepared for 
death ; manifesting in his calm and cheerful counten- 
ance the consciousness that his life-work is well ended. 
In his left hand he holds a scroll on which are 
visible the words of his famous motto : Libera chiesa 
in liber o stato (a free church in a free state) ; and 
the right hand rests on the figure of Italy, who is 
lifting herself from her prostrate position and pre- 
senting the civic crown to her deliverer. In her 
look and movement there is a mingling of gratitude 
and of tender anxiety. Resting on the lower base 
are several allegorical figures. In front is the 
personification of Right just rising from the earth, 
with one hand resting upon a broken yoke, and the 
other drawn back and ready to strike. His lion- 
skin garment is a symbol of the strength inherent in 
a righteous cause. In the rear is Duty crowned 
with olive, to signify that public office faithfully 
discharged secures the national peace. This figure 
rests upon a rock which is sculptured with bas-reliefs 
typifying, as characteristic duties of government, the 
punishment of crime, the rewarding of civil virtues, 
and the fostering of industry. The group on the 
right flank of the pedestal consists of three figures 
Statesmanship, with the Genius of Diplomacy and 
the Genius of Revolution ; the former holding up to 
view the treaties of 1815, and the latter threaten- 



120 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

ing to hurl the torch. In the corresponding group 
on the left flank, the principal figure represents 
Independence wearing the Roman helmet, and in 
the act of casting away the broken chain of foreign 
despotism ; while she holds tightly clasped the 
Genius of the Provinces, at whose feet lies the ring 
of captivity. The Genius standing on her left side 
represents Italian Unity, crowned with a wreath of 
oak leaves, and supporting the fasces, or bundle of 
rods, as the symbol of union and strength. On the 
panels of the lower base are two bas-reliefs in 
bronze ; one representing the return of the Sardinian 
troops from the Crimea ; for it was through the 
policy of Cavour that Sardinia took part with 
England and France in the Crimean campaigns 
against Russia ; the other, the congress of Paris of 
1856, where, for the first time, and that through the 
influence and in the person of Cavour, the voice of 
Italy was heard in the great councils of the European 
powers. On the front is the inscription : ' To 
Camillo Cavour, born in Turin the tenth of August 
1810, died the sixth of June 1861 ;' on the right, 
over the figure of Statesmanship, ' Prudent Audacity;' 
on the left, over that of Independence, ' Italy made 
free;' on the panel in the rear, 'The Italians, 
Turin leading on ' the last in allusion to the fact 
that the citizens of Turin took the initiative among 



THE NUDE. 



the Italian cities in raising the fund for the erection 
of the monument. 

No work of this kind, however beautiful, escapes 
criticism, especially on the part of contemporaries. 
The strictures made upon this were directed chiefly, 
as it would seem from the letters of Dupre, against 
the nude statues in the two groups on the pedestal. 
But he says in a letter to Giuseppe Martinengo, 
' The nudity of my statues cannot awaken in the 
least any improper feeling. Entirely nude are only 
two Geniuses conceived to be of about the age of 
seven years ; and the attitude and expression of 
these children are wholly foreign to any suggestion 
of impurity.' Among those who made such criticisms 
was Dupre's intimate friend Conti, who had made a 
similar objection to the nude child of Charity in the 
Ferrari monument. He did not differ from Dupre 
so much on the general question of the use of nude 
figures as on the proper subject and place for their 
employment. His opinions on questions of art were 
highly valued by Dupre, who calls them ' profound 
and conscientious,' and they were always accepted 
by the artist, even when they took the form of 
strictures, in the friendly spirit in which they were 
given. And, indeed, this was the disposition of our 
artist towards all candid and discriminating criticism 
of his own works ; for he was not at all ' thin- 



122 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

skinned.' On the question of the nude, we find in 
the Ricordi such observations as we might expect 
from Dupre's simple good sense, and such as are 
perfectly exemplified in his own works. ' It is not 
the nudity of figures that gives offence to modesty ; 
if that were so, we should be obliged to condemn 
nearly all the works of Michelangelo ;' no, it is 
' their conception, their expression, their attitude ; in 
a word, the mind, the idea, the inner state of the 
artist, while he works.' And so ' figures that are 
completely draped, even a nun like the saint Teresa 
of Bernini, may bear the impress of sensuality,' and 
on the other hand, ' a wholly nude statue, like the 
Capitoline Venus, may fill the beholder with a 
sentiment of reverent admiration.' 

Dupre's own impression of the merit of this 
monument he gives in the Ricordi, when describing 
a visit to Turin in company with Amalia seven 
years after it was erected. Having contemplated it 
some time in silence, he turned to her and said, ' I 
am satisfied with this work ; and, believe me, it is a 
very difficult thing for an artist to look at one of 
his productions after an intervening period of time, 
without finding anything to correct.' Some time 
afterwards, on a journey from Florence to Milan, the 
sculptor and his daughter happened to be in the 
same car with two strangers who were conversing 



PIUS THE NINTH. 123 

upon matters of literature and art One of them 
turned out to be a distinguished professor and con- 
tributor to the reviews. After speaking of several 
monuments recently erected, he said, ' For example, 
that of Cavour at Turin.' . . . Dupre, dreading on 
Amalia's account as well as his own some unpleasant 
criticism of his work, at once interrupted him by 
saying, ' Excuse me, sir ; that monument is a 
work of mine.' But the professor without the least 
embarrassment replied, ' That matters not ; I can 
proceed with my remarks.' And with perfect com- 
posure, and without change of tone, a fact that 
proved the sincerity of his words, he praised the 
composition, the beauty of the figures, the style, 
the harmony of the lines, and in short held it up 
as an example of grand monumental sculpture. 
' This,' says Venturi, in relating the incident, ' was 
for Dupre one of the greatest consolations of his 
artist life.' 

It is a curious fact, and one that illustrates the 
peculiar state of Italian politics at this time, that 
Dupre, who had been hitherto a special favourite of 
Pius IX., incurred his displeasure on account of this 
Cavour monument to such a degree, indeed, that 
he would not vouchsafe to the artist a sitting for a 
portrait bust which the Marquis del Monte desired 
him to make for the Cathedral of Florence. When 



i2 4 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

the Marquis requested the favour of a sitting with- 
out giving the name of the proposed sculptor, his 
Holiness expressed himself perfectly willing : ' but 
when,' says Dupre, ' he heard my name, he per- 
emptorily refused ; for he did not wish that I should 
make his portrait, because I had made the monu- 
ment of Cavour. To tell the truth,' he continues, 
' this kind of censure on the part of the Pope was 
not pleasant to me.' And he wrote a letter to one 
of the papal secretaries, protesting against such 
illiberality, a part of which, he thinks, was read by 
his Holiness ; for, as the following passage shows, 
he gave Dupre and his daughter a very friendly 
reception some time afterwards, when they were 
passing through Rome on their way to the exposi- 
tion at Naples in 1877. 'He turned to me 
benignantly and said : " Dear Dupre, what beautiful 
works are you making now ?" I, who do not 
usually find myself embarrassed in speaking to any 
one, was now completely tongue-tied, and could not 
make out to articulate two words ; and the poor, 
saintly old man, to relieve my hesitation, continued : 
" I feel for you ; political changes, rumours of war> 
distract the mind of the artist, and, moreover, are 
inimical to the development of his genius." Then 
turning to my daughter he said : " And you too, my 
brave sculptress, I give my blessing to you and at 



MONUMENT TO LUIS IN A. 125 

the same time to your father." It was peculiarly 
affecting to hear for the last time that kindly voice. 
My heart told me it would soon be heard no more ; 
and, indeed, hardly eight months later he died, a few 
days after the King (Victor Emanuel), to whom he 
had sent his benediction.' 

It was while the Cavour monument was in pro- 
gress, and a year before it was completed, that 
Dupre lost his youngest daughter, Luisina. She 
died at the age of twenty-two. Of this sore bereave- 
ment he writes in the Ricordi ; 'This affliction that 
God was pleased to bring upon us broke down my 
self-confidence, spread a veil of sadness over my 
family, shattered the health, and perhaps hastened 
the departure of my loved Maria. Ah, most mighty 
God of Israel, lover of faithful souls, look upon the 
trial of thy servant !' It was naturally his first 
thought to erect a worthy monument to his lost 
Angioletto Luisina. This he would have done 
himself, ' had grief permitted,' but the father's hand 
was unequal to the task ; it was undertaken by 
Amalia. 5 The memory of this sweet and beautiful 
daughter has been immortalised by the monument 
designed and executed by her loving sister Amalia, 
and put up in the family chapel at Fiesole. In a 
niche, on a level with the pavement, stands a 
sepulchral urn, and reposing upon it as if in peaceful 



126 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

sleep, holding a crucifix upon her breast, is sculptured 
the form of the dear sister. The figure is of the 
size of life. That poor Amalia suffered much in 
executing her sad task every one can understand 
and none better than I ; and I tried to dissuade her 
from the painful duty she had imposed upon herself ; 
but her tender devotion to the memory of the lost 
Luisina whispered to her heart, perhaps, that in this 
offering of her art her grief would find its sweetest 
consolation.' 

Three years later the mother of this amiable 
family, la buonissima Maria, la santa donna, was laid 
to rest with Luisina. The artist, again heart-stricken, 
writes a few days afterwards to his sympathising 
friend, the Marquis of Capponi : ' I am a poor way- 
farer, wearied and disheartened on the journey I 
have still to travel before I can join my sweet 
companion. I am not alone I have my two 
children with me, and I am striving for courage to 
bear the hardship that remains. The memory of my 
loved one, who for almost forty years has kept me 
good companionship with her spirit, gentle, simple, 
right, weighs heavy upon my heart, and keeps me 
in tears ; and but for the sight of my children I 
should also be forced to cry out : It is enough, O 
Lord ; take now my life, because I have no more 
strength than my fathers had.' And to the Countess 



DEATH OF MARIA. 127 

of Baiveri : ' God has ordered it thus ; may His 
heavenly will be ever fulfilled. The blow that has 
smitten us is terrible, the wound deep, and hard to 
bear ; but out of grief love is born ; because the 
anguish of grief finds vent in tears, and by tears our 
poor hearts are softened and purified. I thank you 
for your sweet words ; and with you I thank my 
good, gentle, dear Marietta, who one day said to me, 
" God is good ! Happy they that love Him, for they 
shall find consolation." And I look for consolation, 
while asking with my whole heart for grace to love 
Him and serve Him worthily.' 

Without knowing the earnest nature of Dupre, 
incapable as it was of affected sentiment, we might 
mistake these sad words for the usual utterances of 
fervid, but often momentary grief, not countenanced, 
perhaps, by the previous history of the husband and 
wife ; but his was no common and evanescent sorrow ; 
he mourned for one whose life had become a part of 
his own. Here are some words addressed to her in 
a letter from Turin a year and a half before her 
death : ' My dear wife, when I reflect that I owe in 
great part my not ill-success in art to you, because 
if I had had a suspicious, or vain or worldly wife, 
my artist career would have been difficult, hindered, 
or, perhaps, altogether defeated, I cannot but bless 
and thank the Lord for His favour to me in uniting me 



128 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

to you, and in giving you to me, and in filling my 
heart with grateful love and esteem for you. This 
love of thirty-eight years has been strengthened by 
the memory of our common suffering, endured by 
you with constancy and patience ; strengthened, too, 
by my respect for your virtue and by your affection 
for me and for our offspring ; by your wise discretion 
in the management of the household, and by your 
example of purity and modesty, which have been a 
school for our children, and, thanks to God, have 
greatly profited them.' 

Life affords nothing more beautiful than a family 
perfectly one in love and sympathy ; nothing more 
sad than such a family invaded at last, and broken 
up by death ; when ' the tender bonds of the house- 
hold are dissolved for ever, and she who had been 
the mother of the house now dwells in the shadow- 
land.' Henceforth our poor artist can only look 
back with regret and vain longing upon the past, 
fraught with memories the more tender because 
made up so much of suffering mingled with felicity. 
' Oh, how time has changed everything ! ' he writes in 
a letter to Signora Felice Ciantelli. 'What a charm- 
ing resort, and that not long ago, was my beautiful 
villa of San Giovanni ! There I had around me, 
with Amalia and Beppina, my dear sweet Luisina, 
and the sainted companion who had shared the toils 



THE BLESSING OF WORK. 129 

and pains of my youthful days ; who left me at the 
moment when I had secured for her a happy and 
tranquil repose. But God granted to her a rest that 
is far better.' 

His studio, his art, his ambition, the life that has 
hitherto seemed full of meaning, are now for a time 
utterly vapid, unsatisfying, and dreary. Amalia, too, 
sits in ' sad, mute monotony of woe ; prostrated in 
strength, without courage or will.' It was fortunate 
however, for both father and daughter that the 
demands of the studio would not suffer them to 
remain long in this helpless despondency. Mind 
and hand were soon compelled to be busy again 
upon the interrupted work ; and thought, becoming 
insensibly interested in their beautiful art, was with- 
drawn from the contemplation of their bereavement ; 
and thus the benign necessity of things, as usual, 
allayed the pain and healed the wound, though it 
could not bring back the joy. The sculptor placed 
a medallion portrait of his wife on the wall of the 
chapel opposite to the tomb of Luisina, intending to 
erect a monument to her at a later day, corre- 
sponding to that of the deceased daughter. On the 
medallion he sculptured a twig of oak leaves : a 
symbol of the fortitude exhibited by Maria Dupre 
through all the trials of her life ; and underneath the 
portrait he inscribed these words, simple and sett- 
le 



130 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

tentious, like the sepulchral inscriptions of the old 
Romans themselves : ' A good wife and mother, for 
that she loved and feared God : lived sixty years, 
and died the twentieth of May 1875 : sculptured by 
the husband weeping and praying.' 

It was about this time that our artist was made a 
Knight and Counsellor of the Civil Order of Savoy. 
His election to the Institute of France has already 
been mentioned. Many other public honours at 
various times were conferred upon him, both at home 
and abroad ; he was a Knight of the Tuscan Order 
of Merit and of the Legion of Honour of France, an 
Officer of the Brazilian Order of the Rose, Com- 
mendatore of the Crown of Italy, and of several 
other Orders, Associate of the Roman Academy of 
Saint Luke, and of the other principal Italian and 
Foreign Academies. 




TOMB OF GIUILANO DE' MEDICI, YOUNGER SON OF LORENZO IL MAONIFICO, 
In lit Ktw Sacrilly of Sal Lima, flarmt 

To face page 131. 



CHAPTER IX. 

Dupre as a writer and critic Papers read and published at the fourth 
centennial of the birth of Michelangelo in 1875. 

IN September 1875 Florence celebrated with great 
enthusiasm and splendour the fourth centennial of 
the birthday of Michelangelo. Among the many 
observances of the day there was a grand assembly 
in the aula of the ancient senate house, consisting of 
the members of the Academy of Fine Arts and of 
the Academy della Crusca, with many distinguished 
citizens and literary men. The Presidents of the 
two Academies, Emilio de Fabris and Augusto Conti, 
pronounced discourses, one on Michelangelo as an 
architect, the other upon his merits as a philosopher, 
poet, and citizen ; and Giovanni Dupre read an 
address upon Michelangelo the sculptor. This was 
a new role for Dupre, and when invited to under- 
take it, he had shrunk at first with natural timidity 
from a task so formidable to one who had never 
opened his lips in a public assembly ; however, on 
second thought, he ' threw together with the pen 



132 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

some few ideas, and gave them to his friend Luigi 
Venturi to read.' Encouraged by the latter, he 
ventured to appear with the other speakers on this 
occasion. Overcoming the well-known tremor of 
the first moment, he became at once self-possessed, 
and ' read his discourse better than he had read it 
before to Amalia.' In fact, it was greeted with 
such hearty applause that the modest speaker was 
overwhelmed with surprise. And he was still more 
astonished when in a few days he found it noticed 
by the press throughout the country in terms of 
unmeasured praise ; so that the artist remarks in a 
letter to Venturi, ' that he has received more com- 
mendation for these few words than for many of the 
statues upon which he had exhausted his strength.' 
It was the interest manifested by the public in this 
essay that suggested to him the first thought of 
doing something for art by writing his reminiscences. 
He writes to Giovanni Cozza of Perugia : ' It is a 
curious thing that these words, I do not say im- 
provised, for that would be untrue, but certainly 
not studied, should have attracted general appro- 
bation, and especially that of literary men. I am 
amazed and at the same time happy over it ; and 
perhaps circumstances will induce me to go on, and 
to leave some ideas about art, and some facts con- 
cerning myself for the instruction of future young 



AN ARTIST CRITIC. 133 

artists.' And these words give us the motive of 
the Ricordi. 

Connected with the same centennial a memorial 
volume was published, made up of articles on the 
life and works of Michelangelo, contributed by 
several distinguished writers. One of these papers 
was furnished by Dupre. It was a notice of the 
celebrated sculptural monuments in the New Sac- 
risty of the Church of San Lorenzo at Florence, 
executed by Michelangelo in memory of Julian de' 
Medici, Duke of Nemours, and of Lorenzo de' 
Medici, Duke of Urbino ; one the brother and the 
other the nephew of Leo X., by whose request they 
were made. This paper and the discourse above 
referred to are both contained in the volume of 
Dupre's Scritti MinorL Both productions are 
marked by such clear insight and by such freshness 
and vigour as to make us regret that the author was 
not called upon to exercise his latent gift for art 
criticism at an earlier day. None can see so dis- 
tinctly in art as they whose knowledge comes, in part 
at least, from the practice of it. To them more 
clearly than to others is the intention of the artist 
visible in his creations ; for they have in mind their 
own mental processes and struggles, and they, too, 
from their own experience can understand better 
than others the treatment necessitated by the nature 



134 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

of each subject, the advantages seized upon, the diffi- 
culties overcome, the merits and defects of execution. 
Thus, what the literary critic can scarcely more than 
guess at, the artist critic, looking at the works of 
kindred artists, past or present, with the eye of 
kindred experience, can interpret almost as if it were 
the offspring of his own thought. He undertook the 
paper on the Medicean monuments of Michelangelo 
with the same hesitating modesty as the discourse 
delivered before the two Academies. ' But,' says he, 
'I thought to myself, how many times have I spoken 
of the works of that godlike man with my fellow- 
artists, with my friends, and above all, as it was my 
duty to do, with my pupils ? And why could I not 
recall those words, now that we were renewing our 
memory and love of him, and our admiration for his 
immortal works ? For the utterance of truth we 
require not much fatigue and study a little courage 
is all we need and I accepted the task.' 

From these two articles, so bright, so apprecia- 
tive, so full of reverence for that noble spirit and 
mighty genius, I will quote in form or in substance 
some characteristic passages that will fully justify to 
the reader the lively interest they awakened in 
Italian circles of art and literature. 

Dupre, in speaking of the statues of Julian and 
Lorenzo, naturally gave a thought to the question 



THE MED1CEAN SCULPTURES. 135 

that has puzzled so many, why a sculptor like 
Michelangelo, ' a lover of his country's institutions, 
and a man of austere nature,' should have consented 
to take as subjects of his chisel these two unworthy 
descendants of his early friend Lorenzo the Magni- 
ficent ; two personages not only of little historical 
significance, but also far from possessing any claim 
to the respect of a patriotic Florentine. ' But,' says 
Dupre (and it reminds us of his defence of his 
portrait bust of Marshal Haynau), 'whoever will 
keep in mind the love that every artist has for his 
art, that even an ungrateful theme may be attractive 
from an objective point of view, or from its form, 
and that without forfeiting his dignity and honour, 
he can embody a thought that may reveal and 
satisfy his own soul, will cease to be surprised at 
this seeming inconsistency, and, on the contrary, 
will learn to esteem the man and admire the artist.' 

The two monuments are placed on opposite 
sides of the New Sacristy, in the Church of San 
Lorenzo. They are similar in design : each consists 
of a funeral urn of sufficient dimensions to support 
two colossal figures reclining upon the top; those on 
one of the urns representing Day and Night, on the 
other, Dawn and Twilight. Above these, in niches 
recessed in the wall, are seated the marble statues of 
the two Dukes, Julian and Lorenzo. The latter has 



136 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

become known the world over as il Pensiero, or il 
Pensieroso, Thought, or the Thoughtful ; ' and,' says 
Dupre, ' in the attitude of complete abstraction, in 
the profound meditative look, in the shadowy gloom 
enveloping, as it were, that whole figure, there is 
thought indeed ; but it is of trouble, of torture, as of 
one at war with himself. Lorenzo has forfeited the 
joy of friendship that animates the soul ; old and 
trustful comrades, deceived and wronged, have fled, 
and have left him alone with his guilty conscience ; 
and it is well ; the just penalty of ingratitude is 
remorse. This it is that Michelangelo has sculptured 
here with the divine hand of the philosopher, the 
Christian, and the artist.' The Pensiero is over the 
urn on which repose the forms of Dawn and Twilight. 
Over those of Day and Night is placed the statue of 
Julian. ' The figure of the Duke of Nemours,' Dupre 
continues, 'with its expression of tranquil dignity, 
with half-averted look, gazing into distance, seems to 
think of the evanescence of life and the emptiness of 
human hopes.' Kindred to this is the idea conveyed 
by the allegorical figures of Day and Night, Dawn and 
Twilight ; all conspiring to impress one sole thought 
the brevity of life and the flitting career of human 
greatness. And in them all is visible at the same 
time the struggle and fretting of the soul of the 
sculptor himself. These wonderful sculptures, in 




TOMB OF LORENZO DE 1 MEDICI (IL I'EI 

r* Uu Nnj Satriity of San Lorcnto, Hot 



To face page 136. 



MICHELANGELO. 13? 

which the grandest in art was subsidised to perpetu- 
ate the fame of two very commonplace characters, 
remain, in fact, enduring monuments of the great- 
ness of the artist himself; 'and perhaps this Lorenzo 
and this Julian would be names quite unknown, if 
Michelangelo had not made them illustrious by the 
splendid monuments of San Lorenzo.' 

In the address before the Academies Dupre 
characterises Michelangelo as ' a sculptor absolutely 
original, terribly severe in conception and form.' 
His art was in keeping with his spirit and life ; 
' he thought, lived, and worked almost solitary in 
the midst of his contemporaries, who were in great 
part pagans in their studies and habits.' A rough 
verdict upon the age of the Medici, in which Dupre, 
I scarcely need remark, by no means stands alone. 

It has been said of Michelangelo, in allusion to 
his gifts as a sculptor, painter, architect, and poet, 
that he was a man of four minds or of fourfold 
genius ; and yet everywhere, according to the judg- 
ment of Dupre, even in painting and architecture, 
nay, even in poetry, his conceptions are distinctively 
plastic. In whatever art either choice or necessity 
has led him to embody his thought, he always 
reveals more or less the characteristic traits of the 
sculptor. ' The stupendous composition of the Last 
Judgment is like an immense work in relief, sculp- 



138 GIOVANNI DUPRE. 

tured upon a fearfully sombre and mystic background, 
illuminated here and there with an indescribable 
light.' The figures and groups of the sublime vision 
seem to have been moulded by the plastic hand, or 
to have been incised with the chisel. So with the 
grand designs on the vault of the Sistine Chapel, 
particularly the Jeremiah, the Delphic Sibyl, and the 
group of the creation of man ; for these would be 
even more beautiful if worked out in relief. Colour 
with Michelangelo was mainly light and shade, giving 
the harmonious effects that are characteristic of 
statuary. 

Not less in architecture also is manifested his 
predilection for sculptural types. While adapting 
to his purposes the general principles and leading 
forms of the classical style, he rejects all that seems 
to him inconsistent with severe simplicity ; pre- 
ferring ' Dantesque chiseling to Vergilian colouring.' 
Finally, we have even in his poems, according to 
the fancy of Dupre, 'the physiognomy of the sculptor ;' 
for in these also can be perceived an ' austerity of 
conception,' a certain bold directness of style, brief 
and incisive, like his strokes upon the marble. ' As 
an example,' he says, ' may suffice the famous stanza 
of four lines on his statue of Night.' 

The lines referred to by Dupre are those com- 
posed by Michelangelo in reply to the verses of 



STATUE OF NIGHT. 139 

Gianbattista Strozzi playing upon the sculptor's 
name : 

' La Notte che tu vedi in si dolci atti 
Dormire, fu da un Angelo scolpita 
In questo sasso ; e perch dorme, ha vita ; 
Destala, se no'l credi, e parleratti.' 

' The Night thou see'st thus sleeping quietly, 
Was in this marble by an Angel wrought ; 
She sweetly sleeps, and still with life is fraught ; 
Believ'st thou not ? speak, and she'll speak to thee.' 

But the stern sculptor saw not in his Night the 
sweet sleep of a quiet mind ; it was rather the sleep 
that would fain seek oblivion of the country's shame ; 
of the wrongs brought upon her in part by these very 
Medici, unworthy scions of a noble house, whose 
character he hates, though his hand has chiseled 
their portraits. Therefore in the spirit of a re- 
publican and of a patriot, who has been fighting 
in vain for the liberty of Florence, he puts into the 
lips of his Night, as a reply, and as a rebuke to 
Strozzi, these words, so full of his own blunt im- 
petuosity, struck off, as it were, with hammer and 
chisel : 

' Grato m'e '1 sonno, e piu 1'esser di sasso ! 
Mentre che '1 danno e la vergogna dura ; 
Non veder, non sentir m'e gran ventura, 
Pero non mi destar ; deh parla basso.' 



140 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

' I'm glad to sleep, thrice glad to be of stone ! 
While all is lost, and but dishonour reigns, 
Not see, not feel, sole happiness remains ; 
So wake me not ; ah, speak in lowest tone.' 

And what was the secret of his power ? It was, 
as Dupre thinks, the marvellous blending in his 
spirit of an unconquerable will with the purest and 
deepest affection. That nature, fierce and untamable, 
so gigantic in conception, in execution so impetuous, 
was yet tender and susceptible in the relations of 
domestic life ; and it was capable of love purely 
intellectual, such as his attachment to Vittoria 
Colonna. Men like him know nothing of merely 
emotional sentiment, ' the stagnant and dead water,' 
says Dupre, ' that vitiates our nature and swamps all 
manliness.' In Michelangelo 'strong love and strong 
will produced a character at once benignant and 
powerful.' He was like David, that Bible hero 
whom he has chosen as the subject of one of his 
noblest creations. ' The youthful son of Jesse, the 
kind and gentle shepherd, David, became the in- 
vincible soldier, saviour of his people, king and 
prophet, and yet, in the midst of his greatness, gave 
utterance to those tender words : " And I weep for 
thee, Jonathan, my brother, beautiful above all men, 
and more lovely than the loveliness of maidens ; as 
a mother loves her only son, so did I love thee."' 



SUBLIME FAULTS. 141 

So this most ungentle of all artists, the fierce 
sculptor of the Medicean colossi, this wild man, this 
'terrible man,' as Pope Julius calls him, who habitually 
shunned society, nevertheless had a place in his heart 
for the truest love and friendship ; and he not only 
loved the Marchioness Vittoria Colonna as he alone 
could love, but he sat whole nights by the sick-bed of 
his servant Urbino, and after his death, ' wrote in his 
memory words of such tenderness, that we know not 
whether more to love the man or to admire the 
artist.' And 'these two forces,' these two elements 
of character, earnest love and invincible purpose, 
made him Michelangelo. 

But in all his admiration of the great master 
Dupre is not blind to his defects. Of the colossal 
figures of the Medicean monuments he observes : 
' As to their artistic merit I must say, though with 
a feeling of profound reverence, that their herculean 
forms have undoubtedly a forced expression and a 
distorted movement.' And yet even this fault he is 
compelled in some measure to justify: 'Their ex- 
travagance, however, while overstepping the bounds 
of common nature and the reach of ordinary 
imagination, is penetrated with a marvellous and 
inexpressible beauty. The two elements are here 
inseparable ; for without this very exaggeration the 
work would no longer appear, what in truth it is, 



i 4 2 GIOVANNI DUPRk. 

terribly sublime.' And further : ' It has been said 
that Michelangelo has done more harm than good 
to art by misleading his imitators ; but this he 
himself foresaw and feared, and he did not hesitate 
to say so. Imitation was, and is an error ; it is a 
path by which we cannot arrive at true art, while 
in it we lose art's most precious attribute, originality. 
In the morally good, imitation is necessary, for the 
good is absolute ; but in the beautiful it is not so, 
because this in its infinite diversity manifests itself in 
the most varied modes, according to the gifts of the 
one who admires and feels it.' 

The picture of Michelangelo at work is not un- 
familiar to most readers, but Dupre imparts to it 
new animation and interest. ' Impatient to realise 
the conceptions once vividly formed in his imagina- 
tion, he could not brook the delay of the usual 
methods. He trod ways unknown, disdaining the 
ordinary processes of the art. He made no models 
in plaster, nor employed the three points of breadth, 
length, and depth ; a system even at that time 
understood, though never regarded by him. But 
having completed his miniature model of clay, he 
placed it before him near the block of marble and 
his living model, and having ascertained the extreme 
points, he contemplated thoughtfully that stony 
mass in which his statue lay hid ; then marking the 



MICHELANGELO AT WORK. 143 

chief lines of the contour with charcoal, he took his 
chisel in hand, and assailing the solid block with 
rapid blows, chipped off the surface. The scales 
darted off like hailstones ; the chisel struck fire, and 
each stroke was attended with the hard-fetched 
breath. Then a brief pause ; a quick glance at all 
sides of his clay model and of the marble. It 
seemed as if with every deep-drawn breath the 
sculptor were breathing life into the hard material ; 
and as the marble insensibly grew into the image of 
his thought, his fervour became more glowing, and 
the conception in his fancy more luminous. Each 
day he returned to the work with the same ardour, 
with the same clearness of vision, with the same 
tenacity ; and at length with strokes more deliberate 
and cautious, though with not less decision, he plied 
the several tools of his .art, the dog-tooth, the chisel, 
and file, in rounding the surfaces, moulding the parts, 
giving expression to the features and life to the eyes. 
The marble seemed to acknowledge the power of its 
conqueror, and, yielding little by little, to unveil itself 
in the form determined by his will. Such was Michel- 
angelo in his practical method of sculpture, one of 
fearful boldness and danger, never ventured upon 
before or after. 

' Yet at times a cloud of sadness overshadowed 
the joy of victory. Was it the consciousness of a 



144 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

higher and more vivid conception, constantly pursued, 
and not yet attained ? Or was it that the fiery 
impatience of the sculptor, driving the steel into the 
viscera of the marble, had pushed it beyond the 
proper bound, and mutilated the form he had 
desired to see unprisoned from the stone, all pure 
and intact? Perhaps both the one and the other. 

' As for me,' says Dupre in conclusion, ' leaving 
criticism to others, I will say this only : that the gen- 
eration which can penetrate with the mental eye the 
depth of thought in Michelangelo, is, perhaps, yet 
unborn. Towards the works of that great artist each 
one must direct his eyes with whatever power he may 
possess ; Buonarroti fixed his own upon the eternal 
light, and catching a ray from this, tranfused it into 
his immortal creations. The conceited and envious 
with their arrogant and vain hostility will renew in 
him the suffering of Prometheus ; but his heart is 
restored from day to day, for he has in himself that 
which cannot die ; the divine spark of the beautiful 
in union with the good. The malignant cannot 
endure to behold it ; for the eagle, secure and joyous, 
fixes his look upon the sun, while the bats and owls 
are blinded by its rays.' 



CHAPTER X. 

Statues of Pope Pius IX., of Victor Emanuel, and of Raimondo 
Lullo St. Francis of Assisi modelled in clay Dupre's last 
sickness, calm and peaceful death Amalia succeeds to the 
studio The St. Francis executed by her in marble, and 
unveiled at Assisi on the seventh centennial of the birth of the 
saint, in October 1882. 

THE last three years of the life of Dupre were 
not less busily employed than those of which he 
has left an account in the Ricordi. Amalia was ever 
at his side, and from the hand both of the sculptor 
and of his daughter continually went forth new 
contributions to the art treasures of Italy. Work 
for a livelihood had long ceased to be a necessity. 
Financially our artist had prospered to such a 
degree that his fortune, compared with the poverty 
of those early days, when he was forced to beg a 
few lire to obtain the materials for finishing his Abel, 
might be called even princely. No longer dwelling 
in a wretched tenement, nor confined to an insuffi- 
cient studio, he owned, besides his permanent residence 
in the Costa di San Giorgio, another house in the 

L 



146 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

Via Pinti, a villa in the Pergole, near Fiesole, and 
also the elegant Medicean Villa di Lappeggi ; while 
his work was carried on in a studio of almost 
palatial dimensions, and peopled with copies of the 
statuary that had in all these years come forth from 
his hand. 

In these last years he executed a statue of Pope 
Pius IX. for the Cathedral of Piacenza, one of Victor 
Emanuel, erected in the principal square of Trapani, 
in Sicily, and an ideal historical statue of Raimondo 
Lullo for a chapel in the island of Majorca. He 
had also engaged (as above mentioned) to execute 
a colossal figure of the Madonna for the new front of 
the Cathedral of Florence, and he longed to complete 
this work in honour of the Virgin of the Lily, the 
' Queen of Florence,' for the adornment of the 
church which forms the chief architectural monument 
of the city ; but his desire was not destined to be 
gratified. 

The last work which he moulded with his own 
hands was the statue of St. Francis. The authorities 
of the diocese of Assisi had determined to honour 
the memory of the saint on the seventh centennial 
of his birth, the 1st of October 1882, by erecting a 
statue of him, at least an ideal one, in front of the 
Cathedral of Assisi. The interior of this venerable 
Basilica had been adorned more than five centuries 



THE LAST STATUE. 147 

before with the great frescoes of Giotto, depicting 
the life of St. Francis. There, too, the poet Dante 
had often stood by to watch the progress of the 
work, as his friend brought to view with his magic 
pencil, one after another, the scenes of that holy life. 
It was fitting that a sculptor should now be chosen 
worthiest of all to be the follower of Giotto. The 
invitation was given to Dupre. No subject could have 
been proposed to him more congenial to his taste and 
his habits of thought. The preference for religious 
themes, manifested at the beginning of his career, 
had been confirmed by advancing years, and especi- 
ally by his recent sorrows. Besides this, he had 
learned in the habitual reading of Dante to look 
upon Francis of Assisi as the purest reformer and 
the most Christian of all Christians of the mediaeval 
times ; and for this reason he had placed him 
among the typical figures in his Triumph of the 
Cross. The attractiveness of the subject, therefore, 
did not permit him to hesitate. In his reply to the 
authorities he says : ' I am most happy that the 
commission has thought of me ; not so much on 
account of what little talent I may possess as for 
the love I bear to religious art.' He at once entered 
upon the studies that he thought necessary to make 
the statue worthy of such an exalted character and 
of such a place. 



148 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

Francis of Assisi was in the thirteenth century 
the representative of that spirit of reform which, 
from time to time, and at epochs more or less 
distant, has been called forth not more by the 
corruption of the church than by the insolence of 
the powerful, and the degradation of the poor. ' In 
an age,' says Luigi Venturi, ' intoxicated with riches 
and with sensual pleasures, he suddenly came forth 
to preach poverty and self-denial ; and in the times 
of Ezzelino and Frederick II., while Italy was dis- 
tracted and lacerated by bloody factions, he made 
himself the herald of a gospel of charity and good 
will, proclaimed without the help of rhetorical phrase 
or of secular learning. He laboured effectively for 
the emancipation of the serfs of the soil, at that time 
still in bondage, and founded an order to which he 
gave the name of the Minorites, kindred to the 
popular institution of the Communes, so much hated 
by the feudal nobility ; and this order he established 
upon a basis hitherto unknown that of fraternity 
and love. He commended and enforced his divine 
teachings by his own example of absolute self-denial, 
long-suffering, and devoted benevolence ; everywhere 
seeking to calm the fury of hostile factions, and 
bring all men to councils of peace. Pax vobiscum 
was always the beginning of discourse with him and 
his barefooted disciples, wherever they wandered in 



DANTE AND ST. FRANCIS. 149 

Europe, in Egypt, or in Syria. When he sent them 
forth he said : " My sons, scatter yourselves through 
the world, and proclaim peace to all men ! "' 

Dante in the eleventh book of the Paradise sings 
of St. Francis as ' the sun that had risen upon the 
world, and even when not distant from his rising 
had begun to bless the earth ;' for in the prime of 
life he had abandoned his hopes of worldly advance- 
ment for the sake of doing his work of charity. ' He 
had wedded himself to poverty as to his bride 
whom no other had chosen as companion since the 
Holy One who had not where to lay His head had 
passed from His state of self-humiliation to His 
heavenly glory.' To the poet in his vision the saint 
'was like a seraph in the glowing fervour of devotion,' 
and ' his marvellous life was worthy to be sung in the 
heights empyreal.' 

Dupre perfected his model of the statue in clay, 
and completed the plaster cast, but did not live to 
execute it in marble. He had already found a 
block of excellent quality. In a letter dated Easter 
1 88 1 he writes to Andrea Ulli, Vicar-General of 
Assisi : ' I have found beautiful marble for the San 
Francesco ; it will have a good effect in that sweet 
piazzetta of San Rufino, with the dark wall of the 
church as a background, under that clear sky, in that 
subdued light, in that sacred silence.' Those who 



ISO GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

saw the cast when finished by Dupre, were struck 
with the fitness of the features and expression to 
represent the Saviour Himself. One day when this 
was remarked by two visitors from Assisi, he replied 
'that it had made the same impression upon others ;' 
and one of them adding ' that this work would be a 
triumph for him, and a new glory for Assisi,' he 
said : ' Who knows that this may not be my last ?' 
It was only a few days later that he was overtaken 
by those acute paroxysms of pain in the abdomen 
that soon terminated fatally. He writes to Mon- 
signore Andrea Ulli, that he is recovering from the 
second of these attacks. ' The doctor has no longer 
any doubt of my getting well, and we hope that in 
a few days he will let me return to my studio. But 
how much have I suffered ! doubly suffered in being 
deprived of my most delightful occupation. This is 
all my joy, all my life. What a happy day it will 
be for me when I can place my feet once more in 
my studio, and resume my work and my Francesco !' 
He seemed to have regained his health, and was 
enjoying once more his art and the society of his 
friends, when on the New Year's Day of 1882 his 
disorder returned with increased violence, and on the 
loth he expired. 

During the last hours his two surviving daughters, 
Amalia and Beppina, were by his side. Inspired 



THE LAST WORDS. 151 

with a faith that was clearer as his end drew near, 
he spoke of his approaching death with a certainty 
that filled their poor hearts with dread. ' Father,' 
exclaimed Amalia, 'it cannot be so!' 'Thou 
knowest not, my child,' he replied, ' what can be seen 
by the mind of one who suffers.' After receiving 
the sacrament from the hands of the Archbishop of 
Florence, and joining earnestly in the last prayers, 
turning to Amalia, he said : 'It is the hour, thou 
knowest, I have been preparing for even from the 
death of Luisina and thy mother. O cara Ltiisina, 

cara Maria, soon shall I see you again !' Then 
thinking of the statue of the Virgin he had hoped to 
finish for the Duomo, he added : ' I only regret that 

1 shall not make the Madonna.' 'Thou hast made 
it,' replied Amalia, ' so beautiful ! the Addolorata 
for Santa Croce.' Placing his hand lovingly upon 
her head, he answered, ' Yes, but I desired to make 
her as queen of Florence.' At the last moment 
Augusto Conti, kneeling at the bedside, began to 
repeat the prayer, ' Our Father, who art in heaven ;' 
and the dying sculptor took up the words and 
accompanied him to the end ; then added fervently, 
' Our Father ; yes, yes, our Father,' and spoke no 
more. 

Seldom has the death of any one called forth 
such deep and universal regret. Giovanni Dupre 



152 GIOVANNI DUPRE. 

had outlived all envy, triumphed over all detraction, 
placed himself at the head of his profession, made 
himself dear to his countrymen, and his art a part of 
their national glory. ' Multitudes,' says Venturi, 
' flocked to the door of his house, bewailing their 
irretrievable loss ; mourning the amiable maestro, 
the steadfast friend, kind adviser, generous benefactor. 
At the sad announcement all Italy was moved. 
Senators, deputies, nobles, literary men, scientists, 
artists, together with the humble classes, by a 
common impulse of devoted affection, united in 
performing the last obsequies to the deceased, and 
in following his remains to the church. 5 Funeral 
solemnities in honour of the dead artist were 
celebrated not only in Florence, but also in Siena, 
Fiesole, Antella, and Agnone. His body was 
finally deposited in the family chapel at Fiesole, 
where Amalia and Beppina have placed over his 
tomb a marble copy of his own group of the 
Pieta. 

' It is not an artist, but an art that dies to-day ; 
great art, the art of beautiful lines and of pure 
inspirations.' These words of one of the leading 
journals of Florence briefly express the sentiment 
that was echoed from the newspaper press and from 
the periodicals of the whole country ; and it had 
already been uttered by the Roman poet Girolamo 



LAST HONOURS. 153 

Buonazia in a sonnet written at the very moment 
when the spirit of the great sculptor was passing 
away. On the Qth of January, when Dupre was 
dying, and at the hour when the news was tele- 
graphed to Rome, it happened that the Italian 
Court and Parliament, and many of the citizens of 
Rome and of Italy were assembled in the Pantheon 
or ' Rotonda ' to celebrate with funeral solemnities 
the anniversary of the death of Victor Emanuel ; for 
the body of the late King rests in that ancient 
sanctuary. Buonazia, deeply impressed with the sad 
coincidence, and despondent in regard to the future 
of his country, under the shadow of the gloomy 
forebodings suggested by the occasion, wrote these 
words : 

' E nato alia memoria ed al dolore 

Questo giorno funesto ; e 1'ampie volte 
Delia Rotonda ingombra un sacro orrore 
Fra le ghirlande di gramaglia avvolte. 
Cadono i grandi, e al bacio del Signore 
Si affrettan per la pura aura disciolte 
L'anime elette ; a noi resta 1'errore 
E il vacillare delle mente stolte. 
Cadono ad uno ad uno ; e la novella 
Eta non sente la stagion nemica, 
Che 1'opre e gli esemplari alti cancella. 
Tu cadi d'arte e di virtude antica 
Immacolato esempio ; e sorge quella 
Che nelF orgia gavazza arte impudica.' 



154 GIOVANNI DUPRk. 

This day was destined to sad memory 

And grief; now gloom and solemn dread pervade 
The vast Rotunda's depths of vaulted shade, 
And twined with black hang wreaths of victory. 
Our great are falling ; through the pure air fly 
Their chosen spirits, free, and swift conveyed 
Up to the embrace of God ; their work is laid 
On us, in error wavering helplessly. 
Yes, one by one they fall, and we unwise, 
A new age, see not ills by which undone 
Are their examples high and grand emprise. 
And thou, of art and ancient worth the one 
Example pure, dost fall ; and now will rise 
The art that shameless joys in sense alone. 

Happily, this forecast of evil, so far, at least, as 
the future of Italy is concerned, does not seem 
destined to be fulfilled ; on the contrary, the new 
and united Italy is daily gaining strength and 
stability ; but it was natural that such a scene, and 
the memory it awakened of the recent loss of the 
King, on whom the hope of the nation had so long 
rested, should excite new fears in the mind of the 
poet and of the whole mourning assembly ; and 
the announcement just then that another ' elect 
spirit ' was taking its flight could not but deepen 
the dark thoughts of the hour. 

Giovanni Dupre, as we have seen, had been the 
champion of the art that is at once realistic, beautiful, 
and pure ; and he had earnestly opposed the tendency 



HIS PLACE IN ART. 155 

of his contemporaries to the realism that is either 
gross or meretricious. The sentiment of his motto, 
so often repeated, il bello net vero, had never ceased 
to control his conceptions and to guide his hand. 
The influence of his living voice and example, and 
that which of late he had begun to exercise so 
effectively with his pen, was now to be lost ; but 
what he has contributed to the great sum of art 
creation cannot be lost ; and if, as the poet fears, 
art shall be led by vicious times and fashions into 
strange and false ways, such works as Dupre's, in 
common with those of all true artists, ancient and 
modern, will still point it to the right path, and, 
sooner or later, bring it back again to good aims 
and principles. 

In his career of forty years our artist produced 
about a hundred works in statuary and relief, besides 
a considerable number of busts and statuettes. His 
studio in Florence, filled with the original casts of 
most of these productions, remains, like that of 
Schwanthaler in Munich, a monument and witness 
of the achievements of his remarkable life ; but, 
unlike the silent studio of Schwanthaler, long given 
up to the past and to memory, that of Dupre has 
been inherited by one who has taken up lovingly the 
chisel of the departed sculptor. Amalia Dupre has 
worked out with her own hand the designs he left 



156 GIOVANNI 



unfinished, and is adding to these from time to time 
new works of her own, not unworthy of such com- 
panionship. 

It was many days after his death before Amalia 
could summon resolution to open the doors of the 
place where it seemed that she must still see the 
dear form and hear the familiar voice. Accompanied 
by tender friends, she moved about for a time 
through the desolated apartments, not restraining 
tears. In a few days, finding herself calm enough 
to resume the work, she completed what little had 
been left undone on the statue of Raimondo Lullo ; 
then she began to execute in marble the St. Francis, 
which her father had perfectly moulded in plaster. 
She wrote to Andrea Ulli : ' I have returned to the 
studio without my father ; the Lord has given me 
strength ; I have looked at the St. Francis ; I have 
given the finishing touches to a statue * nearly com- 
pleted by my father, on which, always so kind, he 
felt pleased to have me help him. And I shall 
complete the St. Francis, the last model my father 
made. I cannot tell you how much the figure is 
admired by every one. I shall finish it entirely with 
my own hand, and with the help of God I hope to give 
to the marble the life and expression of the model. 
My father will pray for me and aid me from above.' 

1 Raimondo Lullo. 



THE ST. FRANCIS UNVEILED. 157 

On the ist of October 1882, the seventh 
centennial of the birth of St. Francis, this last 
work of Giovanni Dupre was unveiled at Assisi. 
Augusto Conti in fitting and eloquent words pro- 
nounced the inaugural address, commemorating at 
once the virtues of the mediaeval reformer and the 
genius of the lamented sculptor. To judge properly 
of this statue, and to appreciate its extreme sim- 
plicity, we must keep in mind that the sculptor 
aimed at no idealisation of the Saint but rather to 
present him as the plain monk, in the costume that 
he himself had worn and prescribed to his followers 
To have made him otherwise would have been a 
violation both of history and of good art. And so, 
says Venturi, ' there stands the mendicant (il poverello) 
of Assisi, habited in the coarse wool, having his loins 
girt about with the humble cord, his head shaven, in- 
clined a little to one side, with downcast eyes, with 
lips half -closed and seeming to breathe forth a 
prayer ; while the feet are brought together nearly 
parallel, the indication of gentleness and modesty, 
and the arms are crossed with the open palms upon 
the breast. The arms and hands thus folded are 
the characteristic sign of the Franciscan order, and 
Dupre, in seizing upon this trait, has rendered it 
impossible for the figure to be mistaken for that of 
any other personage. Now the invention of this 



158 GIOVANNI DUPRE. 

attitude, so simple, may seem easy, just like that 
of Brunellesco in making the egg stand on end ; 
but it is precisely the kind of easy thing that reveals 
a genius ; it is the simplicity that is found in truth.' 

It was well that the last statue from the hand of 
Dupre, who had always and earnestly read Dante, 
and worked in the spirit of Giotto, should have been 
made in honour of the saintly personage whom Dante 
had immortalised in verse, and Giotto in painting; 
and that it should be placed on the spot where these 
two walked and communed together. At Assisi, 
with the memory of St. Francis, will abide that of 
the three who have glorified his name in poetry, 
painting, and sculpture : Dante, Giotto, and Dupre. 




ST. FRANCIS. IN FRONT OF THE CATHEDRAL OF ASSIST. 

To face page 158 



GIOVANNI DUPRE 



THOUGHTS ON ART 



AUGUSTO CONTI 



FROM CONTI TO DUPRE. 

DEAR DUPRE I have undertaken to write about 
certain works of yours that seemed to me marvels of 
art. Strange task for me, you will say; and, in- 
deed, it was not easy. But I said to myself, many 
times have we talked together, Dupre and I, as well 
of art in general as of his own works in particular ; 
could I not therefore recall these conversations, and 
make a dialogue that should bring them into a kind 
of dramatic unity ? In this way I should more easily 
avoid the prevailing error of dwelling upon general 
ideas, and of never descending to particulars, or 
rather, of never ascending from the specific to the 
general, and the contrary ; for this transition from 
one to the other a good method requires, and in a 
living dialogue it is actually secured. And I should 
also avoid another fault : I should not assume on 
my own authority to say things either not understood, 
or partially obscured amidst remote abstractions ; 
for you yourself have talked to me of your art, and 
I should aim to put into your mouth again your own 

M 



1 62 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

observations. This seemed to me best, and this I 
have attempted. Yet one doubt remained : May I 
not have failed to give the thoughts of Dupre with 
exactness and truth ? Therefore it occurred to me 
that I ought to send these dialogues to you for your 
perusal and approbation, before I offered them to 
the public. ' This is a delicate matter,' you will say ; 
'do you wish me to approve of my own praises, if, as 
I surmise, you have here and there given place to 
them ?' But, dear Giovanni, that concerns me, not 
you. I desire you only to say whether I have 
represented your actual thoughts, and have brought 
forward facts of real importance. And so I beg you, 
without any regard to the praises I may have be- 
stowed upon your works, or to the interchange of 
courtesies, simply to answer these questions : Is that 
which I say of art, in your judgment, true or false ? 
And where do you think I have erred, and where hit 
the mark ? With your consent I will publish your 
reply, and my readers will trust to you rather than 
to me. May you love me as I love you, and live 
happy. Your 

AUGUSTO CONTI. 



MONTUI, NEAR FLORENCE, 
186. 



FROM DupRfe TO CONTI. 

MY DEAR CONTI I have read the dialogues 
you have written on my poor works, and as you 
desire me to give my opinion without stopping to 
protest against the praises you bestow upon me, 
have your wish, and my heartfelt thanks as well. 
The things, then, that you say in discoursing upon 
art are true ; and you make me, poor ignorant 
mortal, much too fine a figure. Again I thank 
you ; and if you choose to publish these lines, do it 
by all means, and be assured of the affection of your 
most loving friend, 

G. DuPRk 



1865. 



DIALOGUE FIRST. 

THE TRIUMPH OF THE CROSS. 

Amico. In your studio at every step we come to 
something wonderful. 

Dupre. I am glad you find anything to ap- 
prove. 

Amico. Here, as we enter your own apartment, 
lies the Abel. Ah ! what a statue ; so delicately 
moulded in every part ; how innocent and lovely 
beautiful, yet in its beauty what strength and 
vigour ! In the features there is a look of grief and 
pity ; not a trace of fear or anger ; and in the body 
itself, cast naked on the ground, there is an ex- 
pression of chaste meekness and modesty. 

Dupre. Meekness and forgiveness are precisely 
what I aimed to express in the murdered Abel, who 
is the type of Jesus and of all the saints. Do you 
know the correction suggested to me by Bartolini ? 

Amico. What was it? 

Dupre. Before I sculptured the statue in marble, 



1 66 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

I showed Bartolini this plaster model. Now do you 
observe the seam on the right arm ? 

Amico. Yes. 

Dupre. Though habitually slow to praise, he did 
praise the statue in few words, but emphatically. 
And yet, pointing to the right hand of the Abel, he 
made a certain gesture ; and I said : I understand, I 
will make the change. 

Amico. And what did he find to criticise ? 

Dupre. That hand was clenched, as if in a 
paroxysm of pain or anger, not in keeping with the 
gentleness of Abel. Therefore I cut off the hand 
and wrist, and put on another which is open and 
passive, as of one in peaceful sleep. At the same 
time I slackened in due proportion the muscles and 
tendons of the arm. 

Amico. So true is it that every work of art is 
pervaded in all its parts by one controlling idea, like 
the air in the pipes of an organ ; and from this it 
takes its whole form and character. But let us look 
at the bas-relief, so generously ordered from you by 
Sir Francis Sloane for the front of Santa Croce, and 
which, I am told, is now finished. 

Dupre. As the Triumph of the Cross is to be 
placed in the open air, I have given it the last 
touches out yonder in the court ; we will go and 
look at it there. 



THE SUBJECT AND IDEA. 167 

Amico. Wonderful ! A poem written in marble ! 

Dupre. Something grand indeed I aimed to 
make it ; and if I have only succeeded, it is all I 
could wish. 

Amico. I should like to learn from you the idea 
that flashed upon your mind, and how you went on 
working out the thought in its parts and as a whole ; 
thus you would teach me in your own person as an 
artist the process of art creation, which, indeed, 
must be the same, excepting difference of material, 
in all the beautiful arts. 

Dupre. The idea came to me from the subject, 
nor can it ever come from any other source. 

Amico. Certainly. 

Dupre. But some, lacking knowledge or talent, 
make compositions or figures that say nothing which 
the subject required them to say ; others, loving 
novelty or striking effects, torture the subject for 
thoughts or representations ingenious or strange, or 
wholly unessential, to make their admirers exclaim : 
Oh ! who would have thought of that ? How 
original ! But I think ' bread should always be 
called bread,' and that a subject should always be 
made to say that which it is in fact, and be re- 
presented in its inmost and essential nature. 

Amico. No doubt you are right. 

Dupre. Thus, while these task their invention to 



1 68 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

make a show of novelty, the true artist is content 
if the thing seems natural or born of itself, and 
so obvious that all men seem capable of invent- 
ing it. 

Amico. But yet, few do actually invent, because 
invention requires the gift and the habit of fixing 
the mind on the inner qualities of things ; though, 
indeed, when once a truth has been ascertained by 
any one, all men, following his lead, easily recognise 
it ; then it seems easy. 

Dupre. Yes, it is easy to draw the water when 
the well has been dug. 

Amico. Simple truth in works of art seems easy, 
because it is nature ; the strange and unusual, pro- 
duced by the caprice of fancy, astonishes the multi- 
tude, as if difficult of achievement ; but, on the 
contrary, all such things are easy for every one. It 
is easier to draw a crooked line than a straight one, 
to paint a hideous than a beautiful person, to make 
a caricature than a portrait ; and to adhere to the 
just bound is always more difficult than to come 
short or to go beyond ; thus universally, the irregular 
is- easier than the regular, because the rule is simple 
and one, whereas the ways of violating it are many ; 
and the rule is nature. Observe that in literature 
the same holds true ; and in the sciences also, 
where a simple truth simply stated costs us more 



WHAT THE CROSS SUGGESTS. 



time, and is worth far more, than a web-work of 
theories. 

Dupre. I think so too. But now, coming to your 
question about the bas-relief, this is what I said to 
myself: The subject given to me is the Triumph of 
the Cross ; to represent, that is, the power of Christi- 
anity. It will be my task, therefore, to indicate in 
sculpture the effects of this power that have been 
most wonderful, or rather, most visible and most 
universal. Such is the generic and controlling idea 
of my subject. 

Amico. That is true. It remained for you then 
to determine these effects, and to select from them 
those that were best adapted to your theme and to 
your art. 

Dupre. I went back in thought through the 
history of the church, and chose events and person- 
ages that seemed to me the most universal types 
both of the evils overcome by the cross and of the 
blessings created by it : on the one side, the errors, 
vices, and miseries that are coming to an end ; on the 
other, the knowledge, the virtues, and the consolations 
that are springing up in the light of Christ. 

Amico. What simplicity ! 

Dupre. This, if you think of it, suggested spon- 
taneously an arrangement of the bas-relief at once 
clear and well-disposed, and hence the most beautiful. 



170 GIOVANNI DUPRE. 

Amico. How? 

Dupre. At the top, the cross in its triumph, 
towering over all ; in the lower part, those who have 
submitted themselves to the cross, and who symbolise 
its victory. 

Amico. Excellent ! Thus to the true responds 
the beautiful, and internal order unfolds itself in 
external harmony. 

Dupre. Yes ; and on the other hand, the external 
conditions of art suggest to you things involved in 
your subject, and therefore beautiful. 

Amico. So in good writers the ideas determine 
the words ; then the necessity of seeking words 
brings about a better disposition of the ideas, and 
even suggests new ones. 

Dupre. For instance, the space between the lower 
part of the design and the cross was unoccupied ; 
and there in the centre I placed the Angel of Prayer, 
the messenger of peace between God and men. 

Amico. Thus the intermediate space, uniting the 
extremes, became a symbol of union. 

Diipre. The figures, again, that occupy the ground 
beneath the cross, I thought best to arrange in two 
groups, united by a lower figure in the middle, so 
that the two, each with an outline verging towards 
the centre, might form a kind of semicircle ; thus 
the arrangement becomes distinct, broad, and at the 



INDIVIDUAL IMAGES. 171 

same time pleasing to the eye ; giving the impression 
of repose and sublimity, but without monotony ; 
while by contrast.it renders more conspicuous the 
highest point of the composition, that is the cross, 
around the base of which this semicircle forms a kind 
of corona. Now observe, the general idea in my 
mind suggested to my fancy this indefinite image of 
the whole, before I could arrive at the more specific 
ideas ; then these, springing up in their turn, created 
the individual images. 

Amico. What ideas ? Pray explain. 

Dupre. As to the top of the bas-relief, I reflected 
that the bare cross al9ne would not satisfy either the 
mind or the eye. I set myself, therefore, to consider 
the mystery of the cross ; and thence sprang up 
thoughts and images in abundance. Jesus, the God- 
man, is figured by the winding curve of clouds that 
pass around the shaft of the cross, veiling the eternal 
nature of the Word. Toward this, six angels, three 
on either side, direct their gaze in rapt devotion. 
These represent the heavenly host contemplating the 
mysteries of redemption. From the cross itself 
shoot rays of glory, bathing those angelic forms in 
light, and falling upon the groups below ; for the 
Word is the light that illuminates every mind, and 
scatters darkness from the earth. Finally, under the 
cross an angel kneels upon a rock with one knee, 



172 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

while he clasps the other with his arms and hands, 
bowing his head with meek devotion and with an 
expression of sadness ; thus representing in his 
person all the sorrows and all the supplications of 
the ; world ; and while uniting men to God by 
prayer, uniting also by his bowed and curving form, 
both to our thought and to our sight, the upper and 
lower members of the composition. 

Amico. Beauty is the radiance of truth, said 
Plato ; and here it is. 

Dupre. Observe, also, the long and slender forms 
of the worshipping angels, suggestive of their 
spiritual nature, which is not burdened with the 
weight of terrestrial bodies. 

Amico. Well thought of. Things that transcend 
the human are fitly represented by images more 
ideal ; which, however, should not fail to speak to 
the senses, and to appear probable. The improbable, 
as, for example, the sphinxes and other eastern 
myths, may speak, perhaps, to our intelligence, even 
if unpleasing to our taste ; and I have said perhaps, 
because that which departs from beauty is deformity, 
generally violating our intelligence and denoting 
error ; like some hermaphrodite gods of Asia and 
Greece. But go on, if you please. 

Dupre. First, on the right, is St. Augustine, who 
represents the wisdom of the fathers ; then comes 



REPRESENTATIVE CHARACTERS. 173 

Charlemagne, with the unsheathed sword held in one 
hand and resting firmly against his shoulder, while 
the other hand holds the globe surmounted by a 
cross ; all this to show not only the unity of the 
Christian empire (first created by the Popes in order 
to harmonise the discords of the world, and after- 
wards sung by Dante 1 ), but still more to symbolise 
the mission of Christianity, which fashions, and must 
continue to fashion, states and laws in conformity 
with itself, bringing in its train justice and charity. 

Amico. What majesty, what an aspect of com- 
mand ! How nobly conceived are , the form and 
posture, indicating firmness, security, and vigour ! 
Then, again, what strength of character, what depth 
of thought in the shape of the mouth and the firmly- 
compressed lips, and in the eyebrows cast down with 
a look of profound repose ! 

Dupre. Between the figures of St. Augustine and 
Charlemagne appears the head of a martyr (notice 
the palm) ; and this one stands for all martyrs that 
have been, or ever shall be. I cannot tell you 
whether I thought of it before, but now I perceive 
that the martyr comes in well between Christian 
learning and imperial authority ; for by dying, and by 
teaching others to suffer death, Christ, the Captain of 
the martyrs, secured the triumph of truth and justice. 

1 Paradise, vi. 94. 



174 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

Amico. Well have you said you cannot tell ; for 
when a subject has been well thought out, the 
spontaneous and rapid connection of ideas and 
images brings with itself certain beautiful impres- 
sions of which the artist either has no consciousness, 
or so little that he can give no account of them. 
But the secret of this lies in having reflected upon 
the subject ; otherwise, ideas cannot spring up one 
from another in this spontaneous manner, just as 
there can be no echo where there is no first sound. 
As for the rest, your martyr exhibits suffering in his 
countenance, and hope in his upturned eyes. But 
what name has he ? 

Dupre. You may give him a name after your 
own fancy ; as when they find in the catacombs at 
Rome the bones of a Christian, accompanied with a 
martyr's emblems, they baptize him anew with a 
name to suit themselves. 

Amico. You mean, I see, that this martyr of 
yours is the individual image of a general idea ; and 
you have expressed it more plainly in saying that 
he stands both for himself and for all martyrs. 

Dupre. Again, between Charlemagne and the 
poor l monk of Assisi, is Dante. 

Amico. That group is divine! 

1 Dante, Paradise, xi. 69. St. Francis and his followers took a 
vow of perpetual poverty. 



DANTE AND ST. FRANCIS. 175 

Dnpre. Charlemagne reminded me of Dante, who 
loved the empire for bringing peace to the world, 
and especially to Italy ; l Dante reminded me of 
St. Francis, whom he celebrated as one of the princes 
of Providence, 2 ordained to guide the Bride of 
Christ ; thus Dante rises between the imperial power 
and the church, distinct but not separate, and he 
typifies their union. Dante should not be omitted 
from my bas-relief, because he is the chief of 
Christian poets, and because in the third part of his 
poem is described the triumph of Christ, 3 and ' for 
the gathering of this harvest,' he says, ' every sphere 
of heaven circles round.' 

Amico. You are at home with Dante. 

Dupre. I have said to you before now, I think, 
that often, when I have laid aside the chisel, I read 
the Divina Commedia. Observe, Dante stands there 
not only in place of all Christian poets, but of all 
Christian literature, or, rather, of all Christian art. 
There beneath his mantle are hid poets and artists ; 
and under its outer border I, too, find a hiding- 
place. 

Amico. I am glad you have made your Dante 
thoughtful, not morose ; and that, while you preserve 
the traditional features, you do not follow the custom 
of giving to him that distorted, old woman's face, 

1 Paradise, vi. 94. 2 lb. ix. 35. 3 Ib. xxiii. 19. 



i 7 6 



GIOVANNI DUPR&. 



not found in the original portraits, but due to the 
exaggerations of a later age. 

Dupre, Doesn't it seem to you that St. Francis, 
clasping his hands and fixing his eyes in love and 
devotion on the cross, appears, as Dante calls him, 1 
' all seraphic in ardour ' ? 

Amico. And I am glad, too, that you have 
preserved the thin and meagre visage, sharp-featured, 
plain and sorrowful, that painters and sculptors from 
age to age have given him. It is proper that the 
arts of design should observe this rule ; just as the 
poets who understand their art, whether in poetry or 
in the drama, never change anything essential in the 
facts of history or tradition. Thus the reader or the 
spectator recognises at once things already familiar ; 
and it gives him pleasure to see them present before 
him, invested, as it were, with new life by the 
imagination of the artist. 

Dupre. And this rule is the more reasonable, 
because it does not preclude invention ; for that 
consists not in the introduction of things absolutely 
new, but in clothing them with our own ideas and 
fancies, and thus through the creative activity of 
thought endowing with new life that which had been 
lying in memory passive and unquickened. The 
work of poets and artists seems to me kindred 

1 Paradise, xi. 37. 



ARTISTIC ASSIMILATION. 177 

to the operation of the soul in the human face ; this 
of itself has no expression, and remains physically 
always the same ; but the affections and thoughts 
of the mind change it without cessation ; not other- 
wise the artist breathes into the images received from 
the external world his own ideas and his own 
affections, giving them life and action. Thus that 
St. Francis of mine bears a general resemblance 
to every other, but yet it is mine, because in the 
composition I have given it a meaning of my own, 
and a corresponding action. 

Amico. So it is. Observe, too, the man who 
reads a story, and images to himself events, per- 
sons, and places according to the narrative, is an 
artist more or less. But let us go on. The re- 
maining figure of the group, almost nude, with 
stalwart limbs, in a kneeling posture, resting his 
strong arm on a club, and looking at the cross with 
a countenance at once wild and gentle, indicating 
fierceness just subdued, seems to me to represent a 
barbarian. 

DuprL He is, indeed, one who has lived outside 
of the pale of civilisation, and now contemplating 
the cross is redeemed by its power from his former 
state. The mediaeval emperor, poet, and saint made 
me think of the barbarians whose condition was 
ameliorated by Christianity ; neither could I think of 

N 



178 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

any triumph more deserving to be called a triumph 
than this, nor, as I believe, have men ever beheld its 
equal. I desired that the mute figure of my bar- 
barian should say to every beholder : Without 
Christianity either civilisation does not exist or it 
perishes. This is the general idea ; my statue says 
it in a determinate and living form. 

Amico. And you know how to make it say this, 
because upon your head also the cross has thrown 
its light. 

Dupre. A certain lady of rank asked of me some 
design for her album. I drew the figure of a cross, 
and under it wrote : Ave crux, salve spes unica ! 

Amico. His limbs look like iron ; the muscles, 
however, are not swollen, knotted, all in action at 
once, and against nature ; a fault that Michel- 
angelo's imitators, and even better artists, would 
scarcely know how to shun. One would say that 
the light of Christ is already humanising even his 
rude limbs. Their bold action contrasts them 
wonderfully with those of that other figure, placed in 
the middle between the groups that occupy the right 
and left of the bas-relief. His form is soft and 
delicate ; slightly emaciated, and not without a trace 
of suffering a lovely figure, and of perfect beauty ! 
not inferior to your Abel. The nude form gives 
no offence, because with your Christian feeling you 



THE NUDE. 179 



have imparted to it a spiritual significance that con- 
trols the senses of every one who looks at it. 
Corporeal beauty, to you as to him who made it, is 
a symbol of the mind. Therefore our thought, not 
resting upon it, penetrates beyond. 

Dupre. I have been censured because in my 
Ferrari monument in San Lorenzo the body of the 
youth is almost nude. 

Amico. Bear it patiently, Giovanni. In that 
instance the critics are right. If the statue of the 
mother at his side could speak, she would say to her 
son : Cover your shame. This utterance of the 
people tells the whole ; especially for sacred places. 
As for the rest, ' who makes not, errs not.' 

Dupre. I erred in not considering that sculptors 
do not see with the same eyes as other men. 

Amico. Returning to the beautiful statue in the 
centre, it seems to me like a slave that does not yet 
feel sure of his freedom, though his manacles are 
broken, and with mingled joy and pain he is lifting 
himself from the rock where he lay. 

Dupre. My idea was to place side by side the 
victory over barbarism and the emancipation of the 
slave. 

Amico. Yes ; for Christian brotherhood brought 
about the life of civilised society, and, with the 
advancement of this, also liberty. 



i8o GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

Dupre. Moreover, since Christianity, calling 
slavery an error and an evil, teaches that ' the truth 
makes us free,' I conceived of the emancipated 
slave as a type of the deliverance of man in every 
sense, both as to the body and the soul ; and he is 
placed there in the middle of the bas-relief to give 
the composition unity both of thought and of out- 
ward form. I wished, also, that his countenance 
should express at once his past suffering and his 
present joy ; then, as he lifts himself slowly to a 
sitting posture, irresolutely and with a look of pain, 
he symbolises the transition from slavery to freedom ; 
and moreover, his eyes are turned upwards toward 
the cross, while the right arm props up the still 
languid frame, and the other falls listlessly at his 
side. 

Ainico. To represent a state of feeling that blends 
together two different conditions, one preceding the 
other that is, two series of affections, more or less 
remote is a thing difficult even in speech, but it is 
still more difficult in artistic design, which is fixed 
and unchangeable ; yet precisely this is the gift of 
the great masters. They know how to bring many 
thoughts into small compass, and thus to follow 
nature for she exhibits to us the passions for the 
most part in the mixed and transitional state, and 
seldom pure and sharply defined, as, for example, 



VULGAR EXTREMES. 181 

perfect joy or perfect woe but artists of only 
average capacity prefer the most violent passions, 
and of these even the extreme manifestations ; and, 
not content with this, they exaggerate them still 
further by the extravagances of art, of all things in 
the world the easiest and cheapest, the most un- 
natural and ungraceful, and the most repugnant to 
good sense ; and they call this sublime. 

Dupre. Just so ; and I think the design should 
show the order of kindred emotions ; for this gives 
beauty. Moreover, one affection passing into another 
is a movement that breeds grace of expression. 
Neither can I endure exaggeration and excess ; for 
they are the spasmodic effort either of ill-regulated 
force or of weak imbecility, and they can only end 
in deformity. But do you not ask me what names 
I have given to the slave and to the barbarian ? 

Amico. No, indeed ; I asked that question in 
regard to the martyr, because among the martyrs 
there may have been one well known to history, 
whom you might have chosen as a type of martyr- 
dom ; but it could not well be thus among barbarians 
and slaves. 

Dupre. And yet, one of our learned scholars, not 
an artist indeed, thought I was wrong in placing 
these ' allegorical ' figures among the personages of 
history. 



1 82 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

Amico. And what was your answer? 

Dupre. I replied that they were not allegories. 

Amico. And you were entirely right Allegories 
are abstractions embodied in images more or less 
analogous to truth, but in themselves impossible ; as 
if a sculptor should symbolise barbarism or slavery 
by the figure of a woman ; a kind of representation, 
by the way, which is cold and unnatural, especially 
in connection with matters of history ; even in poetry, 
to say nothing of fine art, it is best to deal with 
allegory cautiously; employing it only to a limited 
extent, and in forms consistent with the subject and 
the context. But your case is different ; you invent 
conceptions of things which may have been, or may 
be, in actuality ; as, for example, a man in servitude, 
or a man outside of civilisation. The arts of the 
beautiful always represent universal ideas, but this 
through individual images ; names are given to 
these either by history or tradition, if, indeed, there 
are any names illustrious enough to call up before 
us a whole order of facts and events ; as, for instance, 
Dante in place of all Christian poets ; but if such a 
name fail us, either because unknown, or not fitted 
to our subject (Attila, for example, would not do for 
your bas-relief), then the artist invents the figure of 
an angel, a man, or some other being, to serve as the 
individual representative of a class ; a slave among 



THE LEFT-HAND GROUP. 183 

slaves, a savage among savages, an angel among 
angels, and so on. 

Dupre. You enter completely into my thought. 

Amico. Accordingly there is no essential differ- 
ence, so far as relates to art, between the personages 
that the artist takes from history and those of his 
own invention ; for they all alike symbolise as 
individuals some universal idea ; but the first have 
characteristics fixed by history and represented by 
their very names, while to the second the artist him- 
self attributes characteristics pertaining to certain 
classes of men, or growing out of certain conditions 
of life. 

Dupre. Thus it is. But let us proceed. I had 
now to invent the left-hand portion of the bas-relief, 
and to arrange it with grace and dignity. Memory 
supplied me with many conceptions ; but I chose 
St. Paul, that figure nearest to the slave, then St. 
Thomas Aquinas, kneeling and offering to Christ his 
book of the Summa ; next to them, the Emperors 
Heraclius and Constantine ; and finally, the penitent 
Mary Magdalene and the Countess Matilda. 

Amico. I understand, of course, that you were 
obliged to make some choice, and that among many 
others, these characters were the most conspicuous 
in your thoughts ; but I should like to know your 
special reasons. 



1 84 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

Dupre. You see St. Paul prostrate on his face in 
the attitude of adoration ; an attitude that calls to 
our minds his falling from his horse while persecuting 
the Christians, the overpowering light and the voice 
of Christ bringing him into subjection to the cross. 
Between St. Paul and the Christian Emperors is St. 
Thomas Aquinas ; for it was fitting that the ' Doctor 
of the Doctors ' should appear in the bas-relief not 
less than Augustine, the ' Father of the Fathers ;' and 
so much the more, as St. Thomas narrated to Dante 
in Paradise 'the wonderful life' of Francis, the 
saint of poverty; 1 and placed here opposite to each 
other they typify the two most remarkable of the 
mendicant orders. 2 Besides, I gained in artistic 
effect by placing St. Thomas at this point ; for, as 
it was proper to represent him kneeling in the act of 
offering his book, between St. Paul on one side 
prostrate upon the ground, and the two Emperors 
standing on the other side, I was thus able to give 
the whole group a pleasing inclination, rendered still 
more agreeable to the eye by the posture of Heraclius, 
who bows his head in meditation, while his left hand 
supports his face and beard. 

Amico. Nor did your subject require the strict 
order of history ; hence, you could intermingle 
different periods of time. 

1 Paradise, xi. 2 The Franciscans and Dominicans. 



CONSTANTINE AND HERACLIUS. 185 

Dupre. Constantine as an armed warrior, bold 
and confident, looks at the cross as if even now he 
heard issuing from it : WITH THIS SIGN SHALT THOU 
CONQUER. 

Amico. What prompt and resolute decision in the 
face and in the arching breast ! What energy and 
force of bodily frame ! Like your own art, he is 
gracefully vigorous. 

Dupre. Constantine represents conquered pagan- 
ism, as Paul conquered Judaism. 

Amico. Conquered ; but the Roman unity thus 
transformed itself into a union of charity, and the 
Hebrew priesthood into a universal apostleship. 
Thus the conquered became conquerors with Christ. 

Dupre. And these facts you will find impersonated 
in Heraclius, who conveyed the cross from Jerusalem 
to Rome, where, as the ensign of redemption, it 
succeeded to the ensign of conquest. 

Amico. Such doubtless is the truth. 

Dupre. But my work could not be called complete 
without showing the influence of Christianity on the 
condition of woman ; how it has given to her sex a 
new dignity and a purer beauty. 

Amico. That would have been to leave out the 
sweetest flower of Christian civilisation. 

Dupre. I did not think it proper to place here 
the Madonna as one of a group, and as only equal 



1 86 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

to the rest ; I chose rather the Magdalene and 
Matilda one of them a subject dear to the painter 
and sculptor, the other a favourite of Dante Alighieri. 

Amico. Well, I see in general what led you to 
think of these two names ; but now explain to me 
more fully your reasons. 

Dupre. The Magdalene is a splendid example 
of a woman raised by Christianity from a life of 
sensuality to a life purely spiritual ; Matilda, on the 
other hand, if we accept tradition, is an example of 
lifelong virgin purity. 

Amico. And so you made Matilda with features 
not prominent and bold, but expressive of purity, 
delicacy, and sweetness, with a form slender, or 
rather, light and ethereal, as if not encumbering the 
spirit, and with eyes cast down in chaste humility, 
while she prays silently with clasped hands in almost 
childlike simplicity ; yet I see in her a woman of 
earnest thought and of firm resolve ; not without a 
loving nature, though without passion. In your 
Magdalene, the beautiful, arms, the well-turned feet, 
and the fair breast still suggest her former life of 
pleasure, and she bows her penitent face as if not 
yet at rest, and shrinks in an attitude of timidity and 
confusion behind the virgin Matilda, as if desiring 
that our eyes should rest only on that form of purity 
and peace. 



THE MAGDALENE AND MATILDA. 187 

Dupre. Precisely so. The Magdalene also fur- 
nished me with an example of ardent love for 
Christ, Matilda for the church of Christ and its 
Pontiffs. It has been remarked that I have glorified 
the woman who gave to the Popes their temporal 
power, and that those who are opposed to this might 
therefore feel unfriendly to the illustrious Countess 
and to her sculptor. 

A mico. And what do you say to that ? 

Dupre. I say that the passions, and, above all, 
those of political parties confound everything ; for 
in all questions they exaggerate the interest of one 
side and forget the other. 

Amico. I understand ; you had it in mind that 
the Germans of that period were aiming to bring 
Italy and the church into vassalage ; assuming to 
bestow the ring upon her bishops, the triple crown 
upon her Popes, and to subject Christendom to the 
yoke of despotic Germany ; and that it was the great 
Italian Countess who drove the invaders from Italy, 
and who increased the possessions of the papacy in 
order to guarantee its liberties against the Suabian 
dominion ; lo, that is Matilda, of whom every one 
should be more ready to speak evil than we of 
Italy. 

Dupre. I neither admit nor deny the imputation ; 
I only say, I thought to glorify in Matilda the 



1 88 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

liberty of the church, and, with that, the liberty of 
our country. 

Amico. Bravo ! Bold thinkers look at things 
from above, and therefore get a commanding view. 
And so we come back to the subject in its unity ; 
for the cross in its triumph will give us freedom 
a unity that you have maintained amidst so much 
variety. Both of them, indeed, I discover in the 
style of your work, where, never losing sight of your 
central thought, you have nevertheless characterised 
different periods of time by diversity of art, suggested 
at once by the personages you represent and by the 
ideas they symbolise. 

Dupre. A learned critic who discusses art without 
a true feeling for it, might see here a confusion or 
agglomeration of styles ; but I have sought to be 
universal, as Leonardo wished painters to be ; and 
you have made me happy by noticing that feature. 
The change of style that art passes through in 
different periods proceeds from the essential nature 
of things, provided those periods and their art are 
not corrupt ; and hence, as I thought upon the 
personages of my bas-relief, my fancy called up 
their faces, their attitudes, their movement and 
bearing, as you now see them ; and if the angels 
with their long and slender forms resemble those of 
Angelico, that comes from the fact that he drew 



CHRONOLOGICAL STYLES. 189 

them with such spiritual truthfulness ; if Charle- 
magne, Dante, the friar of Assisi, Matilda, and 
Aquinas remind you of the fourteenth century, 
though I tried to be somewhat more delicate, it is 
because the simplicity of the art of that century 
corresponded to the simple grandeur of these char- 
acters ; if Constantine is fashioned in a Roman style, 
he was actually a Roman ; if in the Magdalene are 
united the traits both of Oriental and Hellenic beauty, 
it is because I thought of the luxurious woman of 
Magdala becoming a penitent in a Grecian colony. 
But the barbarian Christianised and the slave set 
free are suggestive of the present times, because in 
our own day chiefly has human benevolence been 
active in the emancipation of the slave and the civili- 
sation of the savage. I believe, however, that I 
myself am present in every figure, because I have 
not made one mark on the clay, or one stroke on 
the marble, without first seeing clearly every image 
contained in the idea of my subject, and without 
comparing this image with its counterpart in the 
living book of nature. 

Amico. As every piano has its own peculiar tone, 
but yields to the touch of the player vast and varied 
harmonies in proportion to the delicacy of its 
mechanism and the number of its strings, so every 
artist has his peculiar spirit and temperament, 



GIOVANNI DUPR&. 



yet derives from other minds and from external 
things so many more conceptions of beauty as he 
has in himself greater capacity, and greater power 
of assimilation. 

Dupre. Now we will go in ; the sun already 
strikes over the wall of the court, and might be 
hurtful. 1 

Amico. And I must no longer interrupt your 
work. I will walk about in the other rooms and 
look at your later statues. But I must say one 
thing more, and it may serve as the conclusion of 
your own observations : It is characteristic of you to 
impart to all of your figures and to all their move- 
ments a significance that carries our thoughts beyond 
that which we see with the eye : the figures are 
single, but their meaning is universal ; so that each 
of them can be called a symbol, which, as Dante 
would say, has both a historical or literal sense, 
and a spiritual sense. Therefore, you are far 
removed from those who aim merely to model a 
statue, but have no regard to an inner meaning ; 
such are common or plebeian artists. At the same 
time you are equally removed from those who 
exhaust their ingenuity in striving to make every 
line express something strange and far-fetched ; 

' The Italians avoid exposure to the mid-day sun, as it is supposed 
to cause fever. 



THE ARTIST OF HUMANITY. 191 

needing indeed a glossary to explain their childish 
riddles. Such artistic exquisites form a school of 
mutual admirers and a would-be nobility in art. But 
he who utters in the language of beauty thoughts 
of truth and reality so as to be understood by all 
men, and who is in sympathy with actual life and 
genuine culture, this one is the artist of humanity. 
And I have in mind not the sculptor alone, but 
every true artist, whether poet, musician, painter, or 
sculptor. 

Dupre. I am not so learned as to be carried away 
with the passion for misty allegories, nor, thank God, 
so ignorant as not to perceive that a statue possess- 
ing mere external beauty is a dumb effigy, like a 
woman of beautiful form and feature without sense 
or animation. 

Amico. Addio. 

Dupre. When my work is ended, you know, I 
take a turn outside of Florence. Could you not 
bear me company to-day; especially as Amalia 
does not go with me ? 

Amico. Why is not your gentle sculptress with you ? 

Dupre. She has some duties at home to-day with 
my other daughters. 

Amico. That is well ; art does not remove a 
woman from her proper work. Yes, I'll come and 
take the walk with you. 



DIALOGUE SECOND. 

THE PIETA AND THE CHRIST RISEN. 

WE were walking on the hills of Bellosguardo 
towards the close of day. It was the sweet season 
of the year when the cherries are turning red amidst 
the green leafage ; the sparrows were chirping on the 
elm trees, the swallows and the skylarks floating 
gaily in the air, and the flowers of the white bryony, 
the wild rose, and the hawthorn, were breathing from 
the hedgerows a delightful fragrance. 

Amico. I have looked again and again at your 
Pieta and your Christ Risen, and I could not take 
my eyes from them. How did you learn, my Dupre, 
to invent such beautiful things ? 

Dupre. How do I know ? 

Amico. And who should know, then ? 

Dupre. Grant that they are beautiful, as you say ; 
and as I desired them to be, and hope they are ; 
yet, I assure you, the secret of my success I know 



INVENTION A MYSTERY. 193 

only in part ; in great part I do not understand 
it. 

Amico. How is that ? 

Dupre. I know perfectly well the principles that 
guide me, and the methods of my art ; but how 
certain thoughts and their images arise in my mind, 
this to me is a mystery ; just as no one can tell, as 
I think, the inner virtue that causes the flowers of 
the wild plum to burst forth in such beauty. I will 
add also, that it would be impossible for me, perhaps, 
too, for you, to draw the proper line between that 
which comes from nature and that which is supplied 
by art. At any rate it seems to me that nature 
without art would remain dry and thorny, like the 
plum-tree without spring-time. 

Amico. I think so too. Thus, the water-springs 
well up from the ground, but the engineer makes the 
canals through which they irrigate the lands. But I 
was speaking of those beautiful statues. Oh ! what 
holy sorrow in that Madonna of yours, resting upon 
one knee, and holding upon the other the body of 
Christ just lifted down from the cross ; she clasps 
Him with a mother's tenderness, resting her face 
upon His head, while in her eyes and lips there is an 
expression of longing, as if she would fain bring Him 
back to life. And the Christ, so pure and marvel- 
lously beautiful, I have always before my eyes. Did 

O 



194 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

you find any living model for this rare perfec- 
tion ? 

Dupre. Beautiful, of gentle nature, and with no 
rude mind ; he had a religious feeling, and when I 
gave him a moment for rest, he took up a book. 
But by a strange and sad fortune, just when I had 
come to the most beautiful part of the work, he 
died. It was extremely difficult for me to find any 
one resembling him, and I was aided more by 
memory. 

Amico. So you try to find living models adapted 
to the subject. 

Dupre. I always instruct my scholars to choose 
models so adapted. It is not enough to find those 
that are beautiful ; for no one form of beauty can be 
appropriated to every subject ; you might as well 
attempt to form the word earth out of the letters 
that spell water. 

Amico. I remember (and I relate it to you, 
because you have none of the petty jealousy of or- 
dinary artists) how Fedi told me that he had looked 
a long time in vain for some one to represent the 
ferocious beauty of Pyrrhus in the Rape of Polyxena. 
At length he saw one morning a milkman from 
Lucca with such a fierce look in his eyes and in his 
whole countenance, that he exclaimed : ' Here is my 
Pyrrhus!' Accordingly he begged the milkman to 



THE ' MODEL' AND THE IDEA. 195 

stand for his model, and the youth consented. Now 
it so happened, that when Fedi was working the clay 
to form the head of Pyrrhus, he saw on the head of 
this youth a large ugly scar, which, on questioning 
him, he learned had been left by the knife of an 
assailant in a fight at Lucca, occasioned by a love 
affair. You know very well the savageness of those 
bloodthirsty boys of Lucca, and their jealousies. 

Dupre. Strange accident ! But do you think it 
possible for me or Fedi, or any one else, to find in 
models the precise idea we wish to represent, in the 
same manner as we find in certain letters of the 
alphabet the words necessary for the expression of 
this or that thing ? 

Amico. I do not believe it, and for three good 
reasons : first, that men are continually changing in 
look and attitude, making it necessary to catch 
instantly in their transition the motions of the body 
and the expressions of the face ; nor is it possible to 
reproduce them at pleasure ; so that Leonardo 
advised that they should be noted down at every 
opportunity in a sketch-book carried for the purpose; 
secondly, as in nature no two things are exactly 
alike, though similar, so nothing external can exactly 
coincide with our idea and its corresponding image, 
although something may approximate to it more or 
less ; for while the image is formed in us from the 



196 GIOVANNI DUPRk. 

affinity of the senses for nature, and therefore re- 
sembles nature, yet it is afterwards modified and 
completed by the active working of the mind, and 
according to our particular states of feeling ; just as 
the word God y whoever pronounces it, is always the 
same, yet varies in sound with different voices and 
emotions ; finally, while the invention of the artist is 
something specific or individual, yet, as you said this 
morning, it signifies something universal ; so that the 
ideal conception of the artist, through indefinite 
universality, tends to the infinite, and, as you would 
say, to that excellence which in this world you do 
not find. 

Dupre. It is exactly so. But do you believe, as 
one might infer from your last remark, that human 
art surpasses all beauty of nature, that is, the art of 
God? 

Amico. I am in doubt. 

Dupre. For my part, I believe that art does not, 
nor ever can make anything better than nature ; 
indeed, that it would be great arrogance and vanity 
to believe it possible. So thought Bartolini, and he 
was right. On beholding the beauty of certain 
bodies or certain parts of the body, the true artist 
is overwhelmed with a feeling of dismay ; he is 
tempted to throw away palette or chisel. But it is 
especially through the eyes and the lineaments of the 



THE TRUE VALUE OF l MODELS.' 197 

face, and in the smile and in the minutest movements 
of the body, that nature manifests, as with an electric 
flash, the thoughts and affections of the soul ; and it 
is this wonderful power of nature that the artist 
despairs of emulating. 

Amico. I have in mind an incident of my youth, 
One day I entered the studio of Bartolini when he 
was sculpturing an arm after that of a lovely young 
girl sitting as his model. Looking at the statue, I 
ventured to say : Questi son capo lav ori ; l and he, 
fastening his eyes on the arm of the girl, and not 
looking up at me, replied : Questi son capogiri? But 
therefore, my dear friend, how comes it that the 
artist does not simply repeat nature, but aims rather 
to surpass her by selecting the best points of several 
natural objects, and adding to these something of his 
own ? 

Dupre. If he added nothing of his own he would 
be a servile copyist, not an inventor. It seems to 
me, however, you have answered your own question. 

Amico. How so ? 

Dupre. Have you not said that the artist contem- 
plates an idea of his own and an image corresponding 
thereto, with which the objects of outward nature 
never exactly coincide? 

1 These are head-pieces, or masterpieces. 
2 These are head-sivims, or, these give me the vertigo. 



198 GIOVANNI DUPRE. 

Amico. Yes ; and you said I was right. 

Dupre. Very well ; now the artist does not, and 
cannot surpass nature in any absolute sense, but only 
in relation to his own idea ; for of this idea nature is 
never an adequate symbol, and we must seek one 
more precisely and more vividly expressive of our 
thought. Thus the Helen of Zeuxis, 1 which he 
painted by selecting from several women the most 
beautiful of their individual traits, was not more 
beautiful, perhaps, than any one of them in perfection 
of form ; for in a beautiful body the parts have a 
mutual and natural adaptation which makes each of 
them indispensable to the completeness of the whole ; 
yet the figure was new and more beautiful in this, 
that it alone completely expressed the conception of 
the artist ; and this perfect harmony of idea, con- 
ception, and design is something wonderful in art ; a 
shadow of the creative power of the Deity. Besides, 
the accidental defects that we not seldom find in 
nature, and that are made conspicuous by their con- 
nection and contrast with the entire body to which 
they pertain, as, for instance, when the eyes are too 
large for the face, the artist can leave out, select- 
ing instead the perfections which are appropriate 
to the idea of his subject. Finally, ideal excellence, 
while not surpassing the works of creation, imparts, 

1 Pliny, Natural History, xxxv. 9. 



A HELP TO IMAGINATION. 199 

nevertheless, to visible forms the deeper meaning 
that we find here within ourselves, and makes even 
natural things suggest to us the supernatural. 

Amico. So that the figure designed by the 
sculptor is always different from the living model, 
though one alone be employed. 

Dupre. Always. When I made the Abel, I 
modelled it entirely from a youth of great beauty. 
When I had finished the statue to my satisfaction 
certain critics said it was only a casting taken from 
the living model, 1 and no invention. Then, before 
giving me any hint of their purpose, they sent for 
the model. They measured him and found his 
proportions very different from those of the statue. 
So, also, in the Jesus of the Pieta you see the model 
and yet you do not 

Amico. Of what service then is the model? 

Dupre. It aids in the development of our original 
idea. Thus, when I was engaged by the Marquis 
Ruspoli to make the Pieta for the Campo Santo of 
the Misericordia in Siena, I said : The Son of God 
crucified and dead, the mother mourning for Him, 
these are the two grand thoughts of my subject ; 
two, but virtually forming only one. This idea, as 
it occurred to me, called up in my mind the image of 

1 They said it was moulded mechanically by laying plaster on the 
surface of the living model. See page 37. 



GIOVANNI 



the group, though a little confused ; then I made that 
first small model in clay, as you have seen it ; a 
painter would have made a sketch. Now, for my 
large group in clay suppose I had not sought living 
models, and those as nearly like my idea as possible ; 
what would have been the result? I should have 
depended on experience ; that is, I should have 
fashioned the parts one by one with the aid of 
memory, recalling the composition of the human 
body. But this memory always deals in general 
ideas, and is incapable of bringing before our eyes 
the delicate workmanship of living nature in produc- 
ing the plastic flexibility of the muscles and the 
flesh, exquisitely varied and soft, and above all, in the 
harmonious transition from one member to another, 
and from the curve of one line to another. But 
those who depend on practice and memory either 
become hard and cold, or adopt certain conventional 
features that are immutable and almost geometrical ; 
such, for example, as the oval faces of the sculptor 
who works out his artificial imitations of Greek 
statues according to the rules of the Academy, 
without looking to the Parthenon itself, where the 
grand Pheidias, in those times that were not yet 
degenerate, freely chiseled his statues under the 
guidance of the nude forms of Athenian youth 
continually moving around him. Thus the living 



COPYING AND IMITATION. 201 

model stands before us as an example not for copy- 
ing, but for imitation. 

Amico. What do you mean by ' imitation '? 

Dupre. Observe : one man is similar to another, 
and yet he is also different. Is it not so ? 

Amico. Yes. 

Dupre. Therefore every man is an imitation of 
the common idea of man, but no one is a copy of 
another. Sons who resemble their fathers are 
imitations, not portraits. 

Amico. That is true. 

Dupre. In like manner there comes to the artist 
from the idea of the subject an image that at once 
resembles and does not resemble real things ; hence 
his work on one side must be compared with real 
things, that it may be made to resemble them in fact ; 
but, on the other hand, we should keep our thoughts 
fixed on our idea, that the work may also preserve 
its diversity from real things. This is why we can 
profit by the use of several models ; the unity of 
our work is in the idea. 

Amico. Singular power of the idea to combine in 
unity imitations of outward things with new images 
of the mind ! 

Dupre. It seems almost a miracle. You would 
say that the eye itself surveys the real form of the 
living model through the medium of a mental image, 



GIOVANNI DUPRE. 



and into this transforms the reality. For example, 
when Bartolini was sculpturing the Nymph that is 
now seen in the gardens of San Donato, one of his 
pupils saw him looking intently at the feet of a girl 
standing as his model. Her feet were not small, 
and yet he was making those of his statue very small 
and delicate ; so that the scholar said : Signer 
maestro, those feet are not these ; and yet Bartolini 
maintained that he was imitating these and no others. 

Amico. Why, how could that be ? 

Dupre. The nude example placed before his 
eyes enabled him to observe the actual formation 
that nature gives to the feet ; but his inner thought 
then worked out of itself its own conception and its 
external representation. 

Amico. In short, you artists seek in the real to 
discover the ideal. 

Dupre. Exactly so : and then we are able to 
avoid on the one side the insipid or purely conven- 
tional art of the idealist, and, on the other, the 
servility of the realist, who copies everything, even 
deformity. I have had to guard against these two 
extremes with the utmost care, because we sail 
between opposing seas. Bartolini, hating the rules 
of the Academy, which required as the fixed type 
of every figure that Jthe eyes should be almond- 
shaped, the brows always arching, the nose always 



THE STUDY OF NATURE. 203 

straight, lips of the traditional angle, forehead low, 
eyes near together, cheeks and chin oval, was wont 
to say : ' Nay, rather than design from the plaster 
casts of the Academy, let scholars copy from the 
life, even if it must be from a hunchback.' But 
Bartolini often said that he did not mean by 
such remarks to countenance a crude and untaught 
imitation of nature, but simply to insist upon the 
earnest study of it ; for even by her deformities she 
teaches more than can be learned from the Academy, 
so long as it adheres to purely artificial types. He 
added, also, that, while art must indeed imitate 
nature, yet she must keep the reins in hand. There 
are some, however, who will not understand his 
principle, either through their animosity towards him, 
or because of their fanaticism for ' reality.' To 
me, though never a student in the Academy, 
and wont in early days to sit at the bench as a 
humble woodcarver, it appeared clearer than the 
sun that art is learned in the book of God, and that 
this book cannot be read without an inner light ; 
and there came to me an impulse, an idea, a what 
shall I say? a fancy to sculpture the Abel. I 
found a model, I worked with a will, and the Abel 
pleased. Abstract fictions or servile copies to me 
were equally distasteful ; but as yet I had no definite 
principles of art fixed in my mind. Then it was 



204 GIOVANNI DUPRE. 

that I read certain essays on the ideal by Giuseppe 
Arcangeli, and these for a time led my thoughts 
astray ; for I believed that I too must shut up the 
volume of nature, and design everything from the 
plaster casts and the antique. Then for several 
years I was as one dead ; and I worked out statues 
of the approved fashion, wherein no one recognised 
me, nor did I know myself. But returning from 
Naples, where I had spent some time for my health, 
I stopped at Rome, and there in St. Peter's I saw 
some statues of Canova, not finished with excessive 
nicety, and, so to speak, laced and corseted, but 
such as that of Pius VI. kneeling at the tomb of the 
Apostles, and that of Pope Rezzonico : figures wherein 
the truest nature is resplendent with eternal ideality. 
And then, coming to myself, and feeling once more 
my earlier impulses and the inspiration of my Abel, 
I said: 'This, ay, this is art!' And never have I 
abandoned it again. 

Amico. Then you gave free course to the fountains 
of your soul, that so long had seemed dried up, and 
in the short period since then you have shown that 
fertility of invention which has given us the Tazza, 
the Sappho, the Children with the Grapes, 1 the Ferrari 
Monument, the Dead Christ, 2 the Christ Risen, the 

1 Two Bacchini, or figures of the infant Bacchus, in an allegorical 
group called the Cryptogam. 2 The Pieta. 



PROPER ART-TRAINING. 205 

Christ Triumphant, 1 the Mossotti Monument, 2 and 
many besides. To be a true artist, therefore, as I 
gather from your observations, and from your ex- 
perience, it is necessary to prepare the mind with 
long study and meditation, so that it may attain 
correct and luminous ideas of various subjects ; then, 
to cultivate the imagination by the observation of 
nature, so that it may form appropriate concep- 
tions, and to aid it also by the use of living models 
adapted to the chosen theme ; finally, to imitate 
nature under the direction and control of the pre- 
conceived idea. 

Dupre. And also to have an earnest love for 
the chosen subject, and to keep the thoughts upon it 
day and night ; if you would not have obscure ideas, 
a cold imagination, and an art producing mummies 
instead of living statues. You can add, moreover, 
the study of the great masters, to learn how they 
proceeded in imitating nature, the common teacher ; 
in other words, the masters as our teachers, not our 
models ; for these are found in nature alone. It 
was thus that I was instructed by the statues of 
Canova, and by the example and the words of 
Bartolini ; and this is the more necessary, as every 
art has its particular rules ; for example, of per- 

i The Triumph of the Cross. 
2 To the late astronomer, Mossotti of Pisa. 



206 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

spective, of modelling in clay, of working marble, 
and the like, all handed down by tradition. 

Amico. Perfectly true, and your words have im- 
pressed upon me with remarkable force the great 
power and importance of feeling and passion ; con- 
fessed, indeed, in words by every one, though few 
recognise it in practice ; so that, indeed, science, art, 
and life are either without impulses, or else receive 
them from foreign objects. 

Dupre. What do you mean by ' foreign ' ? 

Amico. Foreign to that which one has in view. 
In the aesthetic arts, what is the aim ? the beautiful ; 
in the sciences ? the true ; in life, whether public or 
private ? the good. Every irrelevant affection is a 
foreign impulse, not pertaining to our chief aim, 
therefore leading us astray ; as, for example, the 
popular fashion, the criticism of the schools, and 
various other extraneous influences. 

Dupre. I will say also, that if this sentiment of 
love for the subject does not fully possess and, as it 
were, flood the soul of the artist, his works have but 
little significance ; for a moderate degree of feeling 
may suffice to make us enjoy the works of others, 
but to enjoy and to create are very different. To 
create works of originality and power demands a 
degree of feeling which is forced by its own impulse 
to outward expression. You feel as if the thought 



THE POWER OF LOVE. 207 

of your work were consuming you ; no rest comes to 
your brain, until you are able to seize upon a clear 
idea and to design the essential parts ; then your 
work itself catches the ardour of your soul, and it 
inflames in turn those who behold it. Often, indeed, 
do these words of Dante come into my mind : 

' . . . Love by virtue fired, 
If only its pure flame shine outwardly, 
In others ever kindles answering love.' 1 

Amico. You have said that the artist is consumed 
by the thought of his work ; and you have felt it. 
Ah ! give some time to rest. 

Dupre. I find much rest in music, when I hear it. 
But to end what I desired to say, the attention fixed 
upon the work you have in hand sets in secret 
motion all the powers of the mind, and produces 
sooner or later, yet always by a sudden inspiration, 
the image you have sought for ; the mental image 
in which outward and sensible forms take on a new 
aspect. This secret labour is unremitted even in 
sleep ; and this sometimes on singular and most 
unexpected occasions startles us with the sudden 
revelation of the new image. I will mention an 
incident to you which, whenever I recall it, almost 

1 Amore, 

Acceso da virtu sempr' altri accese, 
Purche la fiamma paresse fuore. Purgatory, xxii. 10. 



208 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

makes me tremble. I had been long meditating 
upon the Pieta, and was working out a small model 
of it which did not satisfy my idea ; lines distorted, 
no repose, too artificial, too studied ; and then I 
began to work out the idea again from the beginning, 
and was worried and consumed as if a nail were 
fastened in my head. One day in summer, after 
dinner, when reclining upon the sofa reading a 
newspaper, I fell asleep ; and lo, I seemed to see, 
what I had long sought in vain, my Pieta ; Jesus 
stretched upon the ground sustained upon the knee 
of the Madonna, His right arm resting upon her, 
the left hanging down, His head inclined gently upon 
His breast, while the Madonna was bending over 
Him with that look of unutterable woe. I woke up, 
and found myself lying exactly like the Christ : I 
ran to my studio and instantly made the new model. 
I tremble to think how this design, so simple, after 
I had in vain tried to find it by art and by long 
study, came to me almost of itself. 

Amico. But you had prepared your mind by long 
application to your art; thus the notion, which, in 
falling asleep, you had retained of your own reclining 
form awakened in you, in some vague manner, the 
image appropriate to your subject. Spontaneity and 
meditation make the artist. 

DuprL And I have many times noticed that after 



SIMPLICITY OF GOOD ART. 209 

changing again and again, and still feeling dissatisfied, 
then the final stroke that gives content would seem 
to be the one that ought to have been the very first, 
because it is more simple than any other. 

Amico. Thus, also, in writers, it is the form of the 
greatest simplicity and brevity that commends itself 
at last ; and the more mature authors write with 
more simplicity than beginners. Nor can it be 
otherwise, because the beautiful arts use signs, that 
is, words or lines or musical notes ; signs of a thought 
that becomes the more luminous the more it is 
meditated ; and when completely meditated, then 
most correct is its sign ; that is, most appropriate, 
definite, clear ; neither too much nor too little in a 
word, the most simple. Moreover, when art is in its 
glory, the signs are few, the meaning rich ; when art 
is corrupt, there is poverty of sense with multitude 
of signs. He who has something to say does not 
lose himself in a multitude of unmeaning words, lines, 
notes, or compliments. Compare, if you choose, the 
seventeenth century with the sixteenth, or, better still, 
with the fifteenth, and you will see. 

Dupre. Certainly great thoughts are a great power 
that makes much with little. Lessen the substance 
and you increase the show. Thus it is in all things. 

Amico. But now that we touch upon signs, 
another thought occurs to me. 

P 



GIOVANNI DUPR&. 



Dupre. What is that ? 

Amico. You have shown me that the real and the 
ideal are so reciprocally united that the artist beholds 
his idea in the real, and transmutes the real into his 
idea. The idea, however, is that which is essential, 
the thing signified; the mental image and the 
external design are signs of the idea ; just as your 
statue of the Risen Christ is not the actual Christ, 
but rather the image or a sign of the Christ ; a word, 
as it were, that indicates the Word-made man. 

Dupre. Very true. 

Amico. Because signs speak to the senses, they 
must be taken from the sensible and real ; as 
language from the living utterance of the voice, 
musical notes from the tones determined by acoustic 
laws, artistic designs from natural forms ; so much 
the more as the affinity between the aspects and 
qualities of sensible things and certain thoughts and 
feelings of the soul has been taught us by nature. 
We see, therefore, the necessity of a careful observa- 
tion and imitation of natural things ; hence, also, the 
necessity of keeping within the bounds that nature 
prescribes, and of not violating the natural conditions 
of art ; as if any one should attempt to make music 
express precisely the ideas that are conveyed by 
words, or as if the sculptor should trespass on the 
sphere of the painter, and the contrary. But, again, 






THE UNESSENTIAL. 211 

signs, inasmuch as they are expressive of ideas, ought 
to be subsidiary to the idea rather than to the out- 
ward reality ; hence, they should be in kind and in 
force such as the idea requires for its effective 
presentation, not necessarily such in every particular 
as the types which are found in nature itself; thus 
the distant and azure -tinted mountains, or water 
gently winding through green meadows, or an oak 
standing upon the brow of a precipice, say more to 
me than a landscape copied with minute exactness ; 
thus, also, a few lines of a beautiful form are more 
suggestive than the niceties of a petty and drudging 
imitation, a simple attitude more than strained and 
difficult gestures, a popular love-song more than the 
learned music whose every strain resembles a laboured 
sentence, and whose every note seeks to imitate 
some object, or to express some thought ; in 
literature, also, a line of Dante says more to me than 
a whole poem of the present day. Indeed, it seems 
to me the utter corruption and ruin of the art of our 
times that its chief aim is sensation. 

Dupre. It makes that its aim, because it is barren 
of living ideas. 

Arnica. Living? 

Dupre. Yes, ideas all alive with love. 

Amico. Blessed is he who possesses them ; 
because the idea of the subject we have to handle 



GIOVANNI DUPR&. 



serves in every theme and in every art as the 
measure of the whole work ; serves as the measure, 
because from it, as from an initial unit or funda- 
mental formula, are evolved conceptions, sentiments, 
images, form, and style. An artist destitute of 
thoughts and ideas is like a hod-carrier with a title 
of nobility, and like one who would learn to write 
without knowing how to read. 

Dupre. Or like one who speaks with loud voice 
and chance gestures, and knows not what he is 
talking about. Never can it be said too often how 
essential it is for the artist to fasten his thoughts 
firmly upon the controlling idea. My last experience 
of this was in the Dead Christ ; for the mouth but 
I have said too much already about my own works ; 
and it is not my wont. 

Amico. Go on, I pray you ; for in thus opening 
yourself to me, you give me proof of your friendship. 
But your observations upon art recall in a very agree- 
able manner something I have read in Xenophon. 
He describes a pleasant dialogue between Parrhasius 
and Socrates, in which the latter taught that painters 
in representing a perfect human form should make it 
express not only external but internal beauty ; and 
thus that they should avoid the fault of the Grecian 
artists after the time of Pheidias in making their 
figures graceful, but without any soul. Now in turn 



THE CONTROLLING IDEA. 213 

you, a Christian sculptor, are teaching me, a disciple 
of Socrates, what is the soul of art. 

Dupre. Not to have any strife in courtesy, I will 
hurry on. The mouth of the Christ, then, ought to 
express the gentleness of the lamb ; and yet I could 
not find a model that gave me such a sweet and pure 
expression, while inclining his head towards the 
breast ; on the contrary, the act of forcing the chin 
downwards made the lips project and thus look 
quite harsh and unsightly. You would not believe 
how many experiments I made on this feature, how 
many times I changed it ; for, on the one side, I 
had to avoid that ugly protuberance of the lips, and 
on the other, a strained and unnatural expression ; 
at last, however, I hit upon the form which the idea 
required, and was satisfied ; and I have reason to 
believe that others are content with it too. Again, 
the body of the Dead Christ should give the impres- 
sion that a living soul had dwelt therein, and would 
speedily return ; therefore, it should seem to be 
nearly like a body in sleep, though forsaken of the 
living spirit ; the limbs not too rigid, though im- 
movable ; and in the feet must not be too strongly 
represented the folding or bending back that is usual 
in paroxysms of agony and the chill of death. 

Amico. And that is quite right. 

Dupre. This obedience to the idea, that is 



2i 4 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

constantly expanding and growing more luminous 
in the mind, makes every touch, when we approach 
the end of the work, every addition or correction, a 
new creation ; because it completes the expression 
of our idea, or is the perfecting of it. That being 
attained, we do not add to the work a superficial 
polish, and seek to gratify a taste for empty show ; 
it is enough that our meaning is fully manifested 
manifested through the medium of a figure that 
breathes and speaks from the countenance, from the 
hands, from the feet, from the carriage of the person, 
from the hair, and even from every fold of the 
drapery ; speaks only one thought, but one of rich 
variety ; so when a living person makes any gesture 
or movement, his whole body and all that covers it 
conform to the action, each thing in its own way, 
and harmonise with it 

Amico. Good rules for every art ; nor is the file 
of literary criticism any different. Not observing 
that the perfection of writing is to say a thing in 
the clearest manner possible, he who has regard 
chiefly to the prettiness of words often begins with 
one thought, and, changing his phrases again and 
again, comes at last without perceiving it to some- 
thing quite different, or even directly opposite. 

Dupre. You are right ; so also in our art, the 
living model may lead us away from the idea, if, in 



EXTERNAL CONDITIONS. 215 

the temptation to imitate every natural beauty, we 
no longer keep our attention fixed upon that which 
pertains exclusively to our subject. And what is 
the consequence ? The work does not turn out 
beautiful, whatever elegance it may possess ; not 
beautiful, because everything is not in harmony with 
the object or idea of the work. You writers may be 
led away by the love of a phrase, we artists by a 
certain external elegance. For example, I closed 
the right hand of my Christ Risen, so as to make it 
different from the left ; then I perceived that the 
Christ ought to open both the arms and the hands, 
as if showing to men in His rising the hope of their 
own resurrection, and of being received to His bosom. 
However, it cannot be denied that the arts are subject 
to certain material necessities, the observation of 
which is an advantage. Thus, again, I represented 
the arms of the Risen Christ at first raised upwards ; 
but then reflecting that this would interfere with the 
view of the head when looked at from the sides of 
the statue, for it was to be placed by Signer Filippi 
in a circular temple at Buti, I lowered the arms as if 
in the act of loving welcome. 

Amico. It would seem that the external conditions 
of art must sometimes require of you to depart from 
your conception. 

Dupre. No, it is not so ; for these conditions 



216 GIOVANNI DUPR&. 

always result in giving it a better rendering, and, 
therefore, a more spiritual beauty ; thus to conceal 
the head of the Christ is contrary to the object of 
the statue, and also to the idea of redemption. I 
will tell you another thing ; the necessity of making 
the Christ with the arms let downwards led me to 
consider better the subject as a whole ; because an 
important part of a statue cannot be altered without 
leading to the alteration of nearly the whole, in order 
to preserve the unity of the subject. In its first 
form, the Christ was exultant, elevated above the 
ground, His arms raised in triumph, the face turned 
toward heaven, the hair loose and flowing. But 
reflecting again upon my subject, I perceived that 
the idea was not brought out clearly, because it was 
not apparent whether the statue represented the 
ascension or the resurrection ; and reflecting still 
further, I saw that the face turned upward was too 
much diminished or shortened to one looking from 
below. Then I gently inclined the face, thus 
bringing it into accord with the action of the arms 
and hands ; I adjusted the hair, reduced the arching 
of the breast, and placed under the feet the shelving 
rock of the sepulchre, so that the Christ, while 
standing still, is also on the point of moving. 

Amico. Divine statue ! 

Dupre. And here, my friend, is the chief difficulty : 



REPOSE AND MOTION. 217 

to represent at once repose and motion repose 
which depends upon a natural posture of the figure, 
and which gives it an appearance of stability, while, 
at the same time, it suggests movement ; for it is a 
principle of nature that every movement has its 
spring in something fixed and firm, and that which 
is firm manifests its power by movement ; the muscles 
of the body, for this reason, are never all distended 
at one moment. 

Amico. Thus in beautiful speech the thought 
moves on, but always in calm security. A beautiful 
style is movement and repose. Thought hurries 
along animated by feeling ; but thought and feeling 
are controlled by firm and tranquil reason. 

Dupre. Thus should it be. But now we are 
coming into Florence. Let us change the subject. 



INDEX 



ABEL, statue of, 33, 34, 40, 42, 

45, 47, 72, 81, 92, 165, 199. 
Ala-Ponzoni, Marquis, of Milan,63. 
Amalia, see Dupre. 
Ammanati, intagliatore, 1 1 . 
Angel of the Resurrection, 87. 
Antonino, statue of, 60. 
Arcangeli, Giuseppe, 204. 

BAIVERI, Countess, 127. 
Bartolini, sculptor, 17, 18, 19, 20, 
21, 22, 36, 38, 47, 62, 165, 

197, 202. 

Beethoven, 74. 
Beppina, see Dupre. 
Bernini, 122. 
Bezzuoli, painter, 113. 
Bichi-Ruspoli, Marquis, 100, 199. 
Brina, one of Dupre's models, 34, 

35- 

Brunellesco, 158. 
Buonazia, Girolamo, poet, 153. 
Byron, 48. 

CAIN, statue of, 45, 47, 51, 56, 

72, 92. 

Calamatta, sculptor, 40. 
Canova, 38, 54, 64, 65, 66, 204. 



Capponi, Marquis, 126. 

Cavour, monument of, 117, 121, 
123. 

Charlemagne, 98, 173. 

Christ Dead, see Pieta. 

Christ Risen, 99, 103, 192, 210, 
215. 

Ciantelli, Signora Felice, 128. 

Clement XIII. (Rezzonico), monu- 
ment of, 64. 

Constantine, Grand Duke of 
Russia, 53. 

Constantine, Roman Emperor, 98, 
183. 

Conti, Augusto, 66, 87, 89, 90, 
97, 121, 131, 162, 163. 

DANTE, 90, 98, 147, 149, 158, 

i73 !75. !82, 207. 
David, statue of, by Michelangelo, 

140. 

De Fabris, Emilio, 95, 131. 
Del Benino, Count, 42, 45. 
Del Monte, Marquis, 123. 
Demidoff, Princess Matilda, 106. 
Derby, Lord, 82. 
Donatello, 50. 
Dore, Gustave, 107. 






INDEX. 



219 



Dupre, Amalia, 80, 103, 122, 125, 

128, 129, 145, 150, 152, 155, 

191. 
Dupre, Giuseppina or Beppina, 

105, 128, 150, 152. 
Dupre, Maria, 24, 25, 27, 39, 125, 

129. 
Dupre, Vittoria (Lombardi), 3, 28. 

FEDI, sculptor, 85, 194. 
Fenzi, Emanuel, 21. 
Ferrari monument, 87, 121, 204. 
Filippi monument, see Christ 

Risen. 

Fiorelli, 101. 
Fra Angelico, 99. 

GIOTTO, 50, 51, 61, 93, 147, 158. 
Giusti, Florentine poet, 52. 
Grand Duchess of Tuscany, see 

Maria Antoinette. 
Grand Duke, Leopold II., 47, 62, 

63, 77. 90, 91, 92. 
Guicciardini, Count, 85. 

HAYNAU, Marshal, no, 111,112, 

135- 

Heraclius, Emperor, 98, 183. 
Hunt, Holman, 50. 

JULIAN DE' MEDICI, statue of, by 
Michelangelo, 133, 134, 137. 

KAROLI, Count, 112. 

LEOPOLD II., see Grand Duke. 
Leuchtenberg, Prince, 45. 



Lorenzo de' Medici, statue of, by 
Michelangelo, 133, 134, 137. 

MAFFEI, Andrea, 48. 

Magi, Luigi, 27. 

Mantegna, 80. 

Maria Antoinette, Grand Duchess 

of Tuscany, 45, 51, 61, 92. 
Maria, Grand Duchess of Russia, 

45- 

Marrocchetti, sculptor, 85. 
Matas, Niccola, architect, 95. 
Matilda, Countess, 98, 183, 186. 
Matilda, Princess, see Demidoff. 
Menzikoff, 56. 
Metternich, Prince, 53. 
Michelangelo, 54, 80, 122, 131, 

133, 135, 136, 137, 138, 142, 

144, 178. 

Millais, John Everett, 50. 
Montalvo, 29, 30, 38. 
Montazio, 57. 
Monti, sculptor, 85. 

NAPOLEON III., 105, 106. 

Niccolini, 52. 

Nicholas, Emperor of Russia, 55, 

56, 57, 62. 
Nigra, Minister to France, 106. 

ORLOFF, Count, 56. 

PACETTI brothers, 20, 42. 

Parrhasius, 212. 

Petrai, Antonio, one of Dupre's 

models, 37, 39. 
Pheidias, 200, 212. 
Piccolomini, Marietta, 85. 



220 



INDEX. 



Pierecini, intagliatore, 1 1 . 

Pieta, group of the, 34, 99, 100, 

103, 192, 199, 204, 208. 
Pius VI., Canova's statue of, 66, 

67, 204. 

Pius IX., 123, 146. 
Poldi, Marchioness, of Milan, 20. 

RAIMONDO LULLO, statue of, 146, 

156- 

Raphael, 49, 50, 74, 80. 
Rezzonico, Carlo, see Clement 

XIII. 

Ricci, sculptor, 17, 18. 
Ristori, tragedienne, 85. 
Rossini, 85, 86, 87, 107. 
Rossini, Madame Olimpia, 86. 
Ruspoli, see Bichi-Ruspoli. 

SANI, intagliatore, 13, 19, 28, 42. 
Sappho, statue of, 87, 88, 89, 90, 

204. 

Sarrocchi, sculptor, 96, 113. 
St. Augustine, 98, 173. 
St. Francis of Assisi, 98, 146, 

148, 149, 156, 157, 158, 174, 

177. 

St. Paul, 98, 183, 184. 
St. Thomas Aquinas, 98, 183, 184. 
Schiller, 74. 
Schwanthaler, 155. 



Sloane, Sir Francis, 96, 166. 
Socrates, 213. 
Soderini, 31. 
Strozzi, 139. 

TASSO, intagliatore, 20. 

Tazza, marble group of the, 77, 

78, 79, 92, 103, 204. 
Tenerani, sculptor, 67, 70. 
Thouar, 51. 
Triumph of the Cross, bas-relief, 

96, 97, 98, 99, 103, 147, 165, 

169, 205. 

ULLI, Andrea, 149, 150, 156. 

VELA, sculptor, 105, 117. 
Venturi, Luigi, 2, 33, 101, 102, 

123, 132, 148, 151, 152, 157. 
Verdi, composer, 61, 85. 
Victor Emanuel, 125, 146, 153. 
Vittoria Colonna, Marchioness, 

140, 141. 

WAGNER, composer, 116. 
Wellington, Duke of, monument 
of, 79. 

ZEUXIS, 198. 
Zocchi, sculptor, 96. 



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