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Commons'corridors, the slabs which the admission of Sir Tristram to received on their plaster surface the fellowship of the Round Table; * The Expulsion of the Fellows of "Religion' or 'Faith,' as seen in a College at Oxford for refusing to the vision of Sir Galahad and his sign the Covenant, painted by Mr company; 'Generosity,' extended Cope, and 'The Landing of Charles to King Arthur when unhorsed and II.,' executed by Mr Ward. We spared by Sir Launcelot ; 'Courhave limited ourselves to the bare tesy,' as when Sir Tristram harped enumeration of these works, each to La Belle Isonde; and Mercy, admirable after its kind, in order vouchsafed when Sir Gawaine to leave greater space for the fres- swore on bended knee never to be coes by Mr Dyce, and the water- cruel to ladies. As an indication glass picture by Mr Herbert-works of the time and study involved which, long talked of, now on their in these compositions, it may be completion elicit, as they deserve, the enough to state that the first of the warm encomium of the public. Mr above subjects, the large picture, Dyce was cut off in the midst of his The Admission of Sir Tristram to labours, and thus has never been the Fellowship of the Round Table,' permitted to enjoy the honour which contains upwards of thirty life-size years of earnest devotion would figures, each executed, after the have amply won. Those who now piecemeal process of fresco, upon enter, perchance for the first time, something like two hundred slabs the Queen's Robing-Room, in which of wet mortar, each day freshly this artist was immured so long, laid upon the wall to receive the will stand in admiration, not un painter's colours. A close examimingled with sadness, in the midst nation of this dovetailed mosaic of of works which serve as monu- mortar scarcely reveals the lines of ments to the genius and the per- junction, so faultless has been the sistent industry of the great painter manipulation of both painter and whose untimely loss we have to plasterer. Neither can the execudeplore. It is a melancholy fact tion be found to betray the haste that the last days of Mr Dyce were or the incompleteness said to be inembittered by hostile discussions, separable from this fresco method: which arose from the prolonged on the contrary, not only are the delay in the execution of these ar- heads fully mature in expression, duous compositions. During the but even the accessories of chain last days of Mr Dyce's life, it was armour, sword-hilts, and horses' our privilege to see him here in the trappings, have been pronounced in midst of his pictures, palette in hand. elaborate detail. Taken as a whole, His health evidently had been we incline to think that these noble broken, and the feeling which arose and deliberate works may be acdominant in our mind was, not that cepted as a fulfilment of those santhe painter had done so little, but guine hopes which some years since rather with thankfulness we re- were entertained when fresco was joiced he had been enabled, encom- still in this country a tempting but passed by difficulties, to accomplish untried experiment. It were, of so much, and that so well. We re- course, too much to say that these visited this chamber a few weeks pictures equal the master works since, and the subjects with which executed in the same material by its walls are decorated now lie again the great artists of Italy. In some before us in a series of photographs points, however, they will not be taken from the frescoes themselves. found to suffer by comparison, at The theme allotted to Mr Dyce was least with any of the modern rethe legend of King Arthur, in illus- vivals in Europe. In colour they tration of the virtues of chivalry; are certainly less crude than and the subjects already carried out German frescoes, and in outline are 'Hospitality,' as exemplified in less severe and hard. The style is, after Mr Dyce's accustomed man- approach the rulers and the conner, academic. The fault, perhaps, gregation of the people with wonder may be found that these compo- and dismay. The figure of Moses, sitions want vigour and vitality, the personation of a law given amid -deficiencies which usually afflict thunder and lightnings, stands the schools given to careful compila- centre of the composition. Around tion.

him, some retreating back through It remains that we should notice awe, others drawing near by fellowthe great water-glass picture by Mrship in office, are grouped the LeHerbert, which has been received, vites and princes of the people, as it deserves, with a favour wax- Aaron and his two sons, Nadab ing to furor. Some ten years ago and Abihu, Joshua, his father Nun, Mr Herbert accepted a commis- and Eleazar, Caleb the guide of sion to prepare designs for a the camp, and Miriam, the singer series of paintings to be executed and prophetess, kneeling, her timon the walls of the Peers' Robing- brel lying on the ground. Above Room. The theme committed to rise the heights of Sinai, beneath his charge was Justice on Earth, stretches the valley in which the and its development in Law and tribes of Israel are seen encamped. Judgment, subjects commencing Such is the subject of this grand with Moses bringing down the composition, occupying the entire Tables of the Law,' proceeding by end of the room, a space upwards intermediate steps to "The Judg- of twenty feet in length by ten ment of Solomon,' 'The Visit of the in height. As a work of art, variQueen of Sheba,' and ending with ous excellencies are worthy of * The Vision of Daniel.' Other note. The composition is symmeevents are included in the series, tric and equally balanced. Moses, which, if ever completed, will con- crowned by a nimbus traversed sist of no less than nine composi- with radiant horns, is made the tions. The first of these only is centre or culminating point, and finished, “Moses bringing down the all subordinate or accessory figTables of the Law.' We read in the ures encircle or radiate from him, 34th chapter of Exodus, that "it the hero of the scene. The colcame to pass, when Moses came our is varied, but not decorative; down from Mount Sinai with the serious, as befits the subject, withtwo tables of the testimony, that out being austere. The light is Moses wist not that the skin of his luminous to the last degree-more face shone while he talked with the radiant, indeed, than in any fresco Lord. And when Aaron and all we can recall ; qualities, no doubt, the children of Israel saw Moses, in great measure dependent on the behold, the skin of his face shone, painter having covered the wall as and they were afraid to come nigh a preliminary with a coating of unto him." This is the moment white paint. For detail, also, we selected by Mr Herbert. It will must concede that this work, exbe remembered that, for the sake of ecuted in water-glass — a process dramatic action, Leonardo, in the which admits of retouching and composition of his ‘Last Supper,' endless elaboration-goes far bechose the time when Jesus said, yond the comparatively broad "One of you shall betray me.” For a sketchy manner which usually conlike reason—that is, for the purpose tents the rival method of fresco. of attaining variety in action and in- This power of expressing the minuttensity of expression_Mr Herbert est of facts has by the painter has seized the situation indicated in been turned to good account : not the text, when Moses, having been only does he reproduce the Oriwith the Lord forty days and forty ental turban in its richness and nights, his countenance radiant variety of colour, but be is enwith light and glory, fills at his abled at the same time, in his

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figures, to mark the anatomy of spects for the future. We had every limb, and in the faces to thought that the Report of the work out delicate traits of expres- Royal Commission, recommending sion. Speaking generally of the bold reforms in the Academy, would style, we should say it is more have been followed by immediate naturalistic than academic or ideal. and salutary results. But from the Yet at the same time the work notorious incapacity of the present maintains a naturalism which, by Government in the department of its nobility, is delivered from the public works, and from the feeling degradation which Horace Vernet now strong in the House that every and others of the French school plan propounded by the Ministry brought upon sacred art. The fres demanding supplies for the erection coes of Mr Dyce we have desig- or purchase of public buildings nated as pertaining to the style must be nothing else than a weak academic. The treatment adopted compromise and a job, the wellby Mr Herbert is in great degree grounded hope that the Academy free from any such traditional re- and the National Gallery were straint. Thus his picture becomes about to be put in a position as we have said, in the best sense worthy of a great nation has been of the word, naturalistic—that is, once more frustrated. Melancholy it seeks after forms realistic, yet at is it thus to see the arts in this the same time noble, truthful, and country ever made the sport of facbeauteous; and herein art and na- tion, the victims of ignorance and ture are, in the end, shown to be incapacity. By a capricious and one and indivisible. In fine, taken ill-considered vote of the House for all in all, Moses bringing of Commons the well-considered down the Tables of the Law' is scheme of the Royal Commissioners the grandest and most satisfactory is rendered, at least for an indemural painting yet revealed in this finite period, absolutely nugatory. country. We have here, indeed, a And thereby the Academy is now signal example of high historic art, again under a premium to maintain in the best and truest sense of the existing abuses in fullest force, in

order to raise still higher the price We had hoped to have concluded to be paid by the nation as the conthis article with brightening pro- sideration for imperative reforms.

terms.

1964.)

Padre Bandelli Proses to the Duke Ludovico Sforza, dc.

103

PADRE BANDELLI PROSES TO THE DUKE LUDOVICO SFORZA ABOUT

LEONARDO DA VINCI.

Two steps, your Highness—let me go before,
And let some light down this dark corridor-
Ser Leonardo keeps the only key
To the main entrance here so jealously,
That we must creep in at this secret door
If we his great Cenacolo would see.

The work shows talentthat I must confess;
The heads, too, are expressive, every one;
But, with his idling and fastidiousness,
I fear his picture never will be done.

I pray your Highness' pardon for my zeal-
Were it for sake of us poor Frati here,
Despite the inconvenience we must feel,
Kept out from our refectory now a year
And eight long months (though that, of course, for us
Whose lives to mortify the flesh are vowed,
Even to mention seems ridiculous)
Were it for us alone, we all had bowed ;
But when we see your Highness set at nought,
Who ordered this great picture to be wrought,
We cannot rest content, for well we know
What duty to our gracious prince we owe.
And I, the unworthy prior here—(God knows
How much I feel my own unworthiness,
But He hath power the meanest hand to bless;
And if our convent prospereth in aught,
Not mine, but His, the praise, who all bestows)
But being the prior and the head, and so
Charged to your interests and theirs, I thought
My duty-an unpleasant one, in sooth-
Was simply to acquaint you with the truth,
And pray your Highness with your eyes to see
How things go on in our refectory;
And then your Highness only has to say
Unto this painter—“Sir, no more delay!
And all is done, for you he must obey.

'Tis twenty months since first upon the wall
This Leonardo smoothed his plaster—then
He spent two months ere he began to scrawl
His figures, which were scarcely outlined, when
Some new fit seized him, and he spoilt them all.
As he began the first month that he came,
So he went on, month after month the same.
At times, when he had worked from morn to night
For weeks and weeks on some apostle's head,
In one hour, as it were from sudden spite,
He'd wipe it out. When I remonstrated,
Saying, “Ser Leonardo, you erase

More than you leave—that's not the way to paint;
Before you finish we shall all be dead ;"
Smiling he turns (he has a pleasant face,
Though he would try the patience of a saint
With all his wilful ways), and calmly said,
“I wiped it out, because it was not right;
I wish it bad been, for your sake, no less
Than for this pious convent's; and indeed,
The simple truth, good Padre, to confess,
I've not the least objection to succeed :
But I must please myself as well as you,
Since I must answer for the work I do."

There was St John's head, that I verily thought
He'd never finish. Twenty times at least
I thought it done, but still he wrought and wrought,
Defaced, remade, until at last he ceased
To work at all—went off and locked the door-
Was gone three days—then came and sat before
The picture full an hour-then calmly rose
And scratched out in a trice the mouth and nose.
This is sheer folly, as it seems to me,
Or worse than folly. Does your Highness pay
A certain sum to him for every day?
If so, the reason's very clear to see.
No? Then his brain is touched, assuredly.

At last, however, as you see, 'tis done-
All but our Lord's head, and the Judas there.
A month ago he finished the St John,
And has not touched it since, that I'm aware;
And now, he neither seems to think or care
About the rest, but wanders up and down
The cloistered gallery in his long dark gown,
Picking the black stones out to step upon,
Or through the garden paces listlessly
With eyes fixed on the ground, hour after hour,
While now and then he stoops and picks a flower,
And smells it, as it were, abstractedly.
What he is doing is a plague to me!
Sometimes he stands before yon orange-pot,
His hands behind him, just as if he saw
Some curious thing upon its leaves, and then,
With a quick glance, as if a sudden thought
Had struck his mind, there, standing on the spot,
He takes a little tablet out to draw,
Then, muttering to himself, walks on agen.
He is the very oddest man of men !

Brother Anselmo tells me that the book
('Twas left by chance upon the bench one day,
And in its leaves our brother got a look)
Is scribbled over with all sorts of things,
Notes about colours, how to mix and lay,
With plans of flying figures, frames for wings,
Caricatures and forts and scaffoldings,

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