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R. Griffiths, Mad. de la Recke's Travels

The Monthly Review 1820, p. 500-501

A visit to the workshop of Canova deserves attention. (Rome, 23d April, 1805.) - 'A rich repast of master-pieces awaited us in the work-shop of Canova (...)'.

'Canova took us into the apartment in which are collected the antiques lately dug up at Ostia: some are middling, some excellent; they consist of heads, feet, hands, basso-relievos, and fragments of architecture. It seemed as if we were walking in a field of battle, where war and destruction had been at work. The artist pointed out to us the different tastes of different ages, the infancy, the progress, and the decline of art; and he observed that among the antients, as among ourselves, much bad work was produced, which had no value but its antiquity. The finest of these remains is a head of a young Marcus Aurelius. A bust of Bacchus is in one respect very singular; it is not only crowned with vine-leaves, but the beard is made to sprout into vine-leaves which issue from the cheeks and chin. A modern artist, said Canova, who should venture on such a freak, would be ridiculed by the critics. - On a colossal head of Minerva my attention was rivetted, when the artist observed to me that it announced the degeneracy of pure taste by gilded eye-brows and coloured pupils. In general, however, this collection fell short of my expectation: but illustrious foreigners are continually robbing it of any master-pieces which Canova collects, adds, or restores. At Worlitz, the Princess of Dessau shewed me a bust of Venus, which was once here, and which was copied from an entire statue found at Ostia, and taken by Prince Augustus to London.' (Vol. iv. p. 55.) A visit to Ostia, where excavations are still made with great success, is related in a letter dated 3d May.

[jthb - 19-Jan-2007]