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By this time you have finished your coffee. Try a cigar, and let us look round. Who is that thin, grave man, with grizzled beard and overhanging brows? That is Gibson, our English Phidias, the prince of modern sculptors, and the noblest Roman of them all; a man who has certainly done more than any living to revive in our own day
The glory that was Greece,
And the grandeur that was Rome.'
You are lucky in meeting him here; he comes but seldom, as he does not smoke, and is of quiet, retiring manners. He is talking to Dr. Gerard Grand, who does not smoke either, but who, notwithstanding, comes as regularly as clockwork, every evening, to chat for an hour or so, and leaves with the same regularity. Grand has a house, that is to say, a flat, in the Via Babuinowhich he lets furnished during the season—and a very respectable gallery of pictures, which is one of the sights of Rome. He is a discriminating patron of art, and, I should say, derives more profit from his picture dealing than the practice of his profession.
That tall young man with his back towards you, in that enormously tall Roman hat, is Smirch, nephew of the artist of the same name, who used to paint those charming little pictures of the Campagna. His uncle is dead; but he has left sufficient reputation for his nephew to live upon, and he has now entered fully into his inheritance. The young gentleman is not much of a painter; but he makes up for his deficiency in that respect by eccentricities of costume and behaviour, which he seems to think must eventually make him known. He wears the tallest hat in Rome, and in summer comes out in a complete suit of buff. I remember once meeting him at Pisa; his hat was buff, his hair was buff, his coat, waistcoat, and trousers were buff, and even his shoes were of undressed leather and the same colour. He looked like an underdone photograph exactly. He has been known to hire a carriage for the day, and drive about Rome with it filled with pictures, in
order that everybody might know his profession; but I do not know if he received any commissions in consequence. He is not, however, extravagant, despite his eccentricity, but occupies a modest apartment (over the water,' as we used to call the Trastevere the Transteverino of the old Romans) in Borgo, near the cathedral, and is simple and quiet in his habits. In fact, in Rome, it is difficult to be anything else. You may smoke cigars all day, and it shall not cost you more than fivepence, or play billiards all night, and it shall not cost you five shillings, or go to the opera, and it will not exceed two shillings in the pit; and even should you take to drinking whiskey and water, which is considered the summit of extravagance, Mr. Lowe, who keeps the English shop at the corner of the Piazza di Spagna, will supply you with the spirit at the rate of a scudo, or 48. 2d. English, a bottle.
So Stockdove] has asked you already to one of his evenings; I thought he would, he asks everybody. He and his brother have a large studio in the Via Felice, where, twice a week, the elder gives what he calls 'evenings,' that is to say, tea and coffee, and readings from popular dramatists. Tuesdays are reserved for ladies and the nobility (so he says), while on Thursdays, when he receives artists and his personal friends, smoking is allowed; and, as they say at the French bals bourgeois, une tenue decente n'est pas de rigueur,' that is to say, you go anyhow. Stockdove senior thinks he resembles the Swan of Avon, and at these readings comes out in Elizabethan costume consisting of a black velvet doublet and crochet collar. He is a better reciter than he is a painter: he never seems to get beyond charcoal sketches, with which the walls of his studio are covered; nor is his brother much better, who will show you a few black scratches on a piece of tinted paper, and coolly proceed to tell you that it is a study of a grand view of Rome from the Pincio, which he intends to paint some day or other. This,' he will say, pointing to a couple of parallel lines near the bottom, is the balus
trade of the Pincio, which will form the foreground; here I shall introduce a few figures-an Englishman, an Irishman, and a Scotchman, symbolically distinguished; in the middle-distance is Rome; here are the two churches at the entrance to the Corso; this is San Carlo; this is St. Peter's; then I shall introduce (which is perfectly allowable, you know, although you cannot see them) the Arch of Titus and the Coliseum, and in the extreme distance are the Sabine hills and Monte Mario. Don't you think that will make a fine picture?'
Talboys is a great chum of the Stockdoves, and you will usually see him at the evenings, reclining in a picturesque attitude on a cushion in the foreground, smoking a Turkish pipe. Talboys is brother of the judge, and author of the tragedy of
none,' and is, consequently, not quite so young as he would seem. That is he sitting at the corner of the further table talking to Plummer, a young-faced man with grey curling hair; his chalk heads are very clever, and you may usually see several of his productions in the Miniature Room of the Royal Academy. He and Plummer are old Romans, and wherever they go in summer always return to winter in Rome.
mer's pictures of Roman life are very pretty, and deserve to be better known in England; his 'Twilight in the Campagna,' in last year's Academy, was quite a masterpiece in its way; but his name, though 'stirring to all the men of Rome,' is not much known out of it, and so Giorgio's pictures do not sell as they really deserve.
That fair man with the straight beard, wrapped in a plaid, is Gelattley, the sculptor; you may remember to have heard of his bas-reliefs in the Egyptian manner. 'Moses in the bulrushes' created a great sensation at the time, as did Joseph with the wife of Potiphar;' and he is now engaged upon a colossal work, for a tomb at Athenborough, illustrating the passage of the Red Sea and the destruction of Pharaoh and his host. Everything he does is conceived on a gigantic scale; he is, however, himself an extremely mo
dest man, and will welcome you to his studio to-morrow as if you were conferring a favour; and I can tell you it is well worth a visit.
That stout thickset man with the red beard is also a sculptor, but you can hardly class him with Gelattley. You may tell by his accent he comes from the Sister Island even if you did not hear his name, which you would scarcely take to be English. O'Dowd is quite a curiosity in his way: he is always hard-up, poor fellow! and will most likely borrow half a crown of you at the first opportunity, and at the second will persuade you to sit for your boost,' as he calls it, which he will execute at an unusually low figure. Sir Thomas Lawrence made his fortune by the tender melancholy and air of refinement he infused into his portraits; and O'Dowd in the same manner so refines upon your features in his 'boosts,' that you are tempted to exclaim, with that elderly gentlewoman who was so shamefully treated by one Stout, a tinker, 'Lawk-a-mercy on me! this is none of I.' I remember once visiting O'Dowd at his studio, and found him smoking a very short clay pipe, and working away assiduously at a little model in clay. This was a bust, and he was very desirous of obtaining my opinion as to the likeness, which was, he said, somebody I knew well. I examined his work, but could not trace any resemblance to anybody I knew, either male or female; so I behaved as usual on such occasions -I put my head on one side, retreated a few paces, and examined the model attentively, and declared (che Iddio mi perdona) that it reminded me of somebody, but for the life of me I could not tell of whom. It turned out that it was my old friend Perso, whom O'Dowd had persuaded to allow him to liquidato a long-standing arrear of half-crowns in this manner. I have no doubt that O'Dowd saw Perso's 'visage in his mind,' that is to say, in the mind he made up to have his 'boost' taken; but I cannot help thinking that in order to insure a faithful portrait, there should be an absence of all present pecuniary consideration between the artist and his sitter.
That fair man who has just intimated that he intends to cut his stick' is neither an Englishman nor an artist, although he always passes his evenings here. He is an Italian, and a teacher of languages, and he frequents the Greco in order to perfect himself in the conversational delicacies of our mother-tongue. He certainly speaks English very well, and has picked up a great many slang phrases, which he uses whenever he can, in preference to a more polished form of locution, as you have already had an example. That silent young man with the erysipelic shirt-front is also a Roman; he is studying English, as is the fashion now, and comes here to accustom himself to the sound of the language; but, although he has been here all the winter, he has never yet been known to open his mouth to speak English; and as the artists are not, as a rule, very familiar with Italian, and regard him as an interloper, he sits in that corner without taking any part in what is going on. We used to fancy him a spy: if he be, I only hope he conveys faithfully to Cardinal Manteucci our good wishes towards him, when 'Galignani' arrives, as it does not unfrequently, with three parts of the sheet excised by the pontifical scissors.
Ah! here comes Gurgoyle with his sketch-book under his arm; he is always late, and has only just dined. He will tell you that he has been meditating among the tombs of the Campagna and has found no end of work. He is not very well up in the archæology of the subjects he describes, and is not very sure if the sketch he has got is the tomb of the Empress Helena or of Aruns the son of Porsena; he even admits that it may possibly be the resting-place of the Horatii and Curatii, for what he knows or cares; but, at any rate, it is one of the finest things he has seen in Rome, and, with the exception of some small tomb in Soapey Minerva, as he irreverently terms the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva and the frescoes of Raffaelle in the Farnesina, is the only work he has considered worthy of his pencil. Gurgoyle is bigoted, perhaps, but to a certain
extent he is right; and although it may seem heretical to say so, the real art-treasures of Rome may be almost counted on your fingers.
Are we going to the Life Academy this evening? Yes, we are going with O'Mulligan, who made a tremendous sketch of the model last night, which he is anxious to finish. O'Mulligan is not here, however; but we shall possibly find him in the French room, which is a long narrow room at the extremity of the café, lighted by a skylight. That is he talking to the little pale man with very black curling hair and beard, whom, you will observe, limps with one foot as he rises to greet you with a graceful compliment in the very purest French. The Frenchman is M. Arouet Levi, a Jewish gentleman, and a very promising artist. He devotes himself to religious art, and his frescoes, illustrating the Life and Miracles of Saint Philomela, in the church of the Blue Carmelites, are really very fine, and are imbued with a thoroughly devotional feeling. Levi's studio is hung round with studies of incidents in the lives of the saints and martyrs, and you generally find a muscular Roman model suspended by a pulley from the ceiling, who is intended for one of the angels bearing Saint Somebody or other somewhere, or else his housekeeper perched on a chair placed on a table, who figures afterwards as the Madonna enthroned, surrounded by cherubim. His rooms are strewn with 'Lives of the Saints' in French and Italian, and narratives of miracles that have received the approbation of the Holy Father, and is perfectly conversant with the hagiology of the Church from beginning to end; but, if it be necessary to believe in what he represents, I am very much afraid that M. Arouet Levi is wanting in that necessary qualification, and that his life and conversation is hardly so consistent as that of one Angelico, a painter and monk in the convent of the Badia at Fiesole. You will not, however, see anything of M. Levi's real character at present, for he is a man of the world, and knows well that language was given to man to