Изображения страниц


off her allegiance to Spain, and during the whole | ries of the United States in Texas, who are avowof that period the decline of the nation has been edly engaged in promoting the work of annexation inconceivably great and rapid. The result is now solely with reference to the interests of their own pitiable. The country is stated by a recent ob- party in the United States, and to the cause of server to be as defenceless as it was in the days of slavery with which that party is identified. Montezuma. Another Cortez might march with The part taken by England and France in this a few hundred men upon the capital ; and as for question—for we are happy to find that the most the northern and western provinces, more es- entire concurrence prevails between the two great pecially the magnificent territory of California, powers by which Texas was first recognized in since the sequestration of the missions and presi- Europe-has been dictated by no such selfish or dios, they are without even the semblance of a gov- exclusive objects. To them individually the an

The whole white population of Cali- nexation of Texas offers no very formidable danfornia is hardly more than 5000, scattered over gers, and her independence promises no very cer2000 square leagues of territory: the Mexican tain or conspicuous advantages. But they are acadministration does not even communicate with wated by a sincere desire to uphold in America the province; and 10 conquer the whole of it would that respect for territorial rights which is the only not be more difficult than to take possession of assure basis of peace; and in maintaining the indedesert island. In these thinly peopled regions pendence of Texas they may hope to establish an the inhabitants are manifesily unable to defend important element in the distribution of power their territorial rights; and when they have lost over North America. There as well as in Europe the protection of a great power, whose policy is an universal dominion is impracticable. jealous of all encroachinents on the future interests If, however, the annexation party be successful, of its subjects, they fall an easy prey to a sort of and the patriotic intentions of the President are retail invasion, until the sovereignty of the country defeated by the foreign party in the commonis filched away before an effort has been made to wealth of Texas, that only opens the door to fresh challenge the assailant.

difficulties of the most serious character. The The eager, gain-seeking and roving population claim of the United States to Texas is a claim of the Western States of the Union are fitted studiously undefined, and purposely obscure ; but beyond all the rest of mankind to carry on this once admitted, it would be found to embrace the kind of surreptitious warfare. They conquer distant objects of American ambition, even on the provinces as the cuckoo steals a nest; and if their shores of the Pacific. Already several attempts irregular enterprises be allowed to carry with them have been made by the ministers and officers of all the political consequences of lawful war, it is the United States to obtain the cession of the evident that at no very distant period they will great harbors on the coast of California. In 1835, have made themselves masters of all such parts of Mr. Forsyth offered to the Mexican government the North American continent as are not defended five millions of dollars for the port of San Franby the forces and the resolution of Great Britain. cisco-one of the finest naval positions in the But the conduct of Texas in the present emer- world ; and a few years later an American comgency will determine whether these political con- modore actually seized, on some pretended rumor sequences are to be realized. It depends on the of war with Mexico, the town and harbor of Monacceptance or rejection of the proposed measure of terey. annexation by the people and government of The time is now rapidly approaching when the Texas, whether every fresh step of the Anglo- western coast of North America—hitherto the American race is to add citizens to the Union; or least peopled, the least productive, and the least whether the new states which may be forined in frequented portion of the globe-will become the course of time on either shore of that vast conti- scene of great political interests, and will gradunent may not uphold an independent fag, inde- ally be animated with the stir of nations and the pendent interests, and an independent policy. activity of social life. The United States are

When we take into consideration the position of seeking to subject these future races and states to Texas, the decline of Mexico, and the future con- their dominion, and without an army or any of the dition of the unappropriated lands, rivers, and re-ordinary instruments of conquest, to extend their gions lying between the coast of Upper California sovereignty over nations yet unborn. The scheme on the Pacific Ocean and the Rio Bravo del Norte, for the annexation of Texas is the most decided it is impossible to doubt that such a country ought step they have made in this direction ; but this is to possess an original character and an independ only the prelude to their ulterior designs. The ent existence. Its annexation to the United States, claim to the exclusive possession of the Oregon if that measure be consummated at the present territory is another indication of the same policy; time, would only lead the more surely to the it will be followed by an attack, either by force or eventual disruption of that wide and imperfectly- by fraud, on California. On all these points the united confederacy, and to a struggle which would same unlimited spirit of aggrandizement prevails. prove injurious to the best interests of the whole For the protection of the British dominion in continent. But Texas independent is peculiarly North America ample means exist; and, indeed, qualified to interpose, as it were, the keystone of the possession of the Oregon territory by the an arch between ihe United States and Mexico, on Hudson's Bay Company, under the joint conditions the one hand, and between the maritime interests of the convention of 1818, is practically conclusive of European and American nations on the other. on the point. But in provinces in which no EuroThese views are so clear and evident that they pean power has any direct concern, the only check will probably have a decisive influence on the ex- to the rapacious encroachments of the United ecutive government of Texas, provided the Mexi- States will be found to consist in the establishment cans can be brought to recognize in a liberal spirit of another energetic and independent power to an arrangement which is the sole guarantee of share the dominion of North America ; and such their national existence. Nor can we believe that a power we still hope. Texas may become. this policy will be defeated by the popular emissa

From the Foreign Quarterly Review. visiiers will ever be conscious of their existence ; Catalogue des Tableaux composant la Gallerie de but the people employed to arrange or pack them, feu son Eminence le Cardinal Fesch. Par your servants, the tradesmen who chance to enter, George, Commissaire-expert du Musée Royal the interest they feel in your tastes, and by an in

will ever be ready with an observation dictated by du Louvre. Première Partie ; première et seconde vente ; à Rome, 1843, 1844.

telligence, misdirected it may be, but, at least,

awakened. Whilst residing among a people who Fatal as her gift of beauty has been to Italy, thus inhale taste as with their native air, and surit has brought her many compensating benefits. rounded by monuments of genius, it is not difficult Her bright skies, her balmy climate, her luxuriant to inbibe a sympathy with such feelings. From vegetation, her fair cities, her gorgeous temples ; admiring to acquiring is an easy step, but one her ruins ennobled by glorious memories, and en- which should be taken with discretion. Those twined in the graceful garlands of prodigal nature ; who can afford to pay dearly for their experience her statues and her paintings, the proud creations may yield to a momentary impulse of fancy, and of man's genius and imagination ;-these have, purchase pieces which they will soon part with at alas ! too often attracted and enriched the spoiler. any sacrifice. But others, with greater prudence, But have they not also cheered her sons, even in or smaller means, will form, and to a certain point the saddest hours of their sufferings ? Did they cultivate, their taste ere they begin to gratify it. not preserve to her, through the long night of the Even persons who, in England, had some pretendark ages, those dormant sparks which, in better sions to connoisseurship will do well to observe the times, diffused the ght of civilization over like caution, for in Italy their ears will be conEurope? Have they not imparted to her children founded by new names and schools previously unthat susceptibility of refined taste, that perception heard of, in connection with works of high merit of the beautiful, which assuredly, in a land teem- and unquestionable attractions. ing with beauty, afford unfailing solace? These Why in this age of hand-books have we none features in the national character of Italy cannot for the business of picture-dealing? Its mysteries, fail to strike all observers, for they prevail from if unequal to those of Paris in variety or thrilling the palace to the cottage, though variously de- emotion, might well fill a volume with curious and veloped. The hierarchy of Rome, the merchant instructive gossip. For such a compilation an opprinces of Venice, the successive tyrants of the portunity has recently occurred, which will, perminor communities, built for themselves palaces, haps, never recur, but which, we fear, no pen was and called in the best sculptors and painters tó at hand to seize. A cardinal prince of Rome, adorn them. The craftsmen associated themselves und of an emperor and of four kings, devoted the to erect churches and found chapels, which they latter half of a very long life to the purchase of made shrines of art as well as of piety. The pictures, as the grand object of existence, and left peasantry adopted costumes, whose rich hues and behind him the most numerous and valuable colhappy combinations are still favorite ornaments for lection on record as accumulated by one individual. a fashionable masque. Even among the humblest Had his eminence noted the circumstances under classes, the same turn for the picturesque is in which most of his acquisitions were obtained, little voluntarily manifested. Observe the taitered laz- more would have been wanted to illustrate the zarone asleep in the vestibule of a Neapolitan ways of picture-geiting. Were the means adoptchurch, the fishermen of Baja stretched on that ing, or yet to be adopted, for dispersing what he secluded beach, the shepherd of the Campagna so indefatigably amassed, to be displayed to the gazing over the desolate plain ; their ragged vest- world, the mysteries of picture-dealing would be ments, their rough sheep-skins assume an origi- laid bare. nality of character, their attitudes manifest a pic- Of the Fesch pictures a comparatively small torial effect, which the inspired artist is glad to portion formed the cardinal's show gallery, the copy, hopeless of improving apon them. We fame of which depended chiefly upon those of the have seldom enjoyed a greater treat than in look- Dutch and Flemish schools. Speciinens in that ing over some studies of the late Baron Camuc- style, of at least equal beauty, may be found in cini, the first Roman painter of our age. They England, France, and the Netherlands, but no consisted of groups slightly shaded in water- similar collection ever appeared south of the Alps. colors, designed with a purity and accuracy wor- The Italian rooms, on the other hand, though inthy of the cinque-cento There were warriors in cluding many chefs-d'auvre, could not stand the action, cottage groups in repose, inspired Madon- comparison so readily drawn between their treanas, joyous children, smiling babes-in short, sures and those of other neighboring palaces. The every variety of figure composition, conceived and cardinal began to form his museum in France, executed with almost faultless taste. To our sur. when the property cast loose by the Revolution, prise the baron said that each was strictly a tran- and the spoils of half Europe, were to be gathered script of Italian nature. In his walks, he had the with little trouble, and at moderate cost. Having habit of hastily jotting down every striking attitude afterwards, in common with the rest of his family, or picturesque combination that met his eye, and found that country no longer a licensed residence, every evening he embodied these fugitive ideas, he naturally sought a hoine in the metropolis of accommodating them to any subject or character his church, and on transporting his pictures to they might appear to sui.. Alas! that he had not Rome, he stipulated for their removal, at pleadrawn more largely upon these materials in com- sure, from the papal states, exempt from the usual posing his historical works!

restrictions or export duties. To the choice proIf Italy be the mother of arts, the Italians are ductions of the ultramontane schools which the their children. In England, conversation is mo- collection already possessed, the constant augmennopolized by politics and the weather; in France tations which it subsequently received added but It is sustained by the theatres ; in Italy it is of the few gems, and these from Italian pencils. Thefine arts.

Hire an apartment in Rome, and hang cardinal had little more to wish for ; eminent rank. your walls with pictures, few of your English and ample wealth were his, and the picture-gallery





he was intent on forming had attained a European be continued, during the years which must elapse reputation. But the desire of acquisition had be- ere the remaining 11,000 or 12,000 pictures can oe come a chronic disease, ever gaining force in its disposed of by partial sales, the curiosity and inroads upon his means. Not long before he died patience of the public must fail, and the auction he negotiated with one Roman picture-dealer to rooms be deserted : indeed, persons experienced pay for some indifferent pictures with his service in such matters already estimate the probable of Sêvres china, representing the battles of Napo- produce of the whole collection at a sum not exleon, sets of which were made only for the empe- ceeding what has been refused for 500 of its princiror's nearest relations. To another he gave a set pal works. of silver plate by a similar transaction, and at

The sale of the Fesch gallery now in progress length death itself snatched away the octogenarian is a sufficient answer to the very frequent remark from some uncompleted bargains. But his craving of picture-dealers north of the Alps, that there are for canvass was not to be satiated even by whole- no longer works of merit to be purchased in Italy, sale dealings, which at once added hundreds to his although their assertion has a certain plausibility, pictorial investments. There was an understand- if the actual state of the market there be compared ing in his household, that for every picture offered with the immense supplies it has sent forth within at his palace, however execrable in merit or con- the last forty-five years. Since the revival of art, dition, four pauls (about twenty-one pence) were that country has been the great cradle or school to be at once given. To clean and patch up these, of painters for Europe, and a vast proportion of he gave permanent employment to several young the pictures required for religious or ornamental restorers, and many were the guesses as to what decoration, has emanated from her studios, galbecame of the bargains, after emerging from their leries, or churches. From thence came the gems hands. During the residence of his nephew, which Charles I. contrived to accumulate, noiJoseph Bonaparte, in America, it was a common withstanding the difficulties of an empty treasury belief that they were shipped to the new world, and a troubled reign. There did the siately Arunand there converted into cash. When, on the del, the earliest English virtuoso, resort. France cardinal's death, the mystery was revealed, end- and Spain, for three hundred years; England, less repositories of pictures were discovered, the Germany, and South America, during the last exact number of which has not been, and perhaps century, have been working the same mine. After could not be, ascertained, but it is estimated at the disastrous occupation of Italy by the French, 16,000 or 18,000.

in 1798, and the subsequent convulsions of that illThe inconvenience of such an inheritance was fated land, the sword of France and the gold of much felt by those intrusted with the payment of England, combined to cull from her temples and his eminence's testamentary bequests. His capi- palaces all that was most choice in this branch of tal was not only unproductive, but it was sunk'in art. Since the peace the drain has been contina commodity costly to keep in order, of most fluc- ued, and though fewer pieces are now sent out for ituating or even fanciful value, and liable to great devotional uses, a new demand of amateurship has depreciation if hastily realized. A portion, said to arisen from Russia and the United States; nations :amount to above 3000, and composed chiefly of till then unknown in the market, while England is copies, was left to a college at Ajaccio, in Cor- annually glutted by traffickers in old canvass and :sica ; the remainder was to be sold. The execu- cracked panels. Yet the competition of these tors very wisely resolved, in the first instance, to rival purchasers may, with a little dexterity, be attempt disposing of them in the mass, demanding accommodated, as their principles of choice do not for the whole above 200,0001. After some time by any means clash. The Russian taste in pican offer was made approaching to half that sum, tures, as in equipages and jewelry, is regulated and another overture was received, of about 45,000 rather by a semi-barbarous magnificence, ihau by guineas for 500 pictures, to be selected by the pur- refinement, and their expenditure is in proportion chasers from the collection, but excluding the to their colossal fortunes. Provided a picture have Dutch, Flemish, and French schools. The parties the name of a great master, and a corresponding to these offers were French dealers, and both were price, the wily Italian owner may also calculate declined. Two years having been thus lost, it upon transferring it in the course of the season to was resolved to disperse the whole by anction, and some Russian prince, although the subject be forMr. George, of Paris, who was called in to arrange bidding, the treatment mean, the restorations illit, undertook to finish a complete descriptive cata- disguised, or even the authenticity questionable. logue within a stated time, under a heavy penalıy. As to our countrymen, few having sufficient reliBut whilst his herculean task was in progress, two ance on their own judgment to deal with foreign public sales went on of above 1000 pictures, the venders, whom they in general look upon as limbs lists of which are prefixed to this article. The of Satan ; they usually prefer making their purnewspapers of Europe were employed to puff and chases from their own countrynien, content to advertise the auctions, in terms which inferred, presume them the honester of the two. Nowhere that the whole, or at least the gems of the collec- can an undisputed and uninjured chef-d'æurre of a tion, were on each occasion to be brought forward; great name command the same ransom as in Engand in this belief amateurs and agents flocked to land : but whenever it is a question of schoolRome. But on both occasions the works produced copies of such, however fine, or of second or lower were only an average of the mass, set off by some class Italian productions, or names less trite in the twenty or thirty good pictures. The sales, ac- limited abecedario, with which most English amacordingly, gave little satisfaction, no order being teurs are conversant, these gentlemen button up observed in the exposure of the articles, and the their pockets or biggle at a sum which a Russian bidding-up system being largely resorted to. Not- would readily quadruple. Of the class of pictures withstanding much dissatisfaction about 70001. now largely exported to the United States, it may were realized, and the prices, especially on the be sufficient to mention, that a commercial travelfformer occasion, were such as only the cardinal's ler in that line, who came to Rome in 1837, had iname could account for. But should these tactics la commission to buy up any painting of whatever


subject, or whatever substance, and in whatever inexhaustible fund of talent displayed by the old state, not exceeding the price of sixteen pence! masters. Akin to this is a variety of British Colonial emi- Fine old pictures are even now ever turning up, gration, which may be new our readers. and it would be endless to give instances. One, Chancing to visit lately at the close of the season, however, of the details whereof we happen to be the ware-rooms of an obscure London picture- cognizant, may be taken as a specimen. Marsupdealer, we found them encumbered with the refuse pini, secretary of the Florentine Republic, who, of various auction rooms which had evidently been by a combination of talent, frequent in the fifteenth bought up on this Yankee principle. Whilst gaz- century, rare in our degenerate days, was at once ing in astonishment at the rare conglomerate, we a philosopher, a poet, and a politician, testified were informed that they were a speculation for his devotion by founding a chapel in his native Botany Bay!

Arezzo, and commissioned for it an altar-piece There is a consideration suggested by the incredi- from Fra Filippo Lippi. This picture, stolen ble number of paintings produced in Italy during the during the French occupation, came by inherilast five centuries, which ought not to be lost upon tance to an ignorant woman, of whom one Ugo our money-getting generation. The sums which Baldi, a dealer from Florence, bought it some two during that long period have been and still are sent years since for seventy crowns. He soon after there, in payment of exported pictures, have af- handed over his bargain to Baldeschi, a Roman forded incalculable national wealth. Let not this dealer, for 802; and from him it was bought for be forgotten by penny-wise legislatures, who the gallery now forming in the Lateran palace, would measure the beautiful by the scale of utility, nearly 3001. being paid by the papal government; and estimate genius and its highest productions by a handsome profit, but a moderate price, for the the returns of the outlay on their raw material. intrinsic merit of the work is enhanced by the hisLet them remember that trilling sums now doled torical interest of the donor's and his brother's out for the improvement of public taste, and the portraits, introduced as subordinate figures. A encouragement of art, are surely and profitably in- very different fate has befallen a contemporary vested; and that nothing but the inadequacy of production, painted by Sandro Boticelli, at the their amount can prevent them rapidly yielding dictation of Matteo Palmieri of Florence, and inan almost usurious interest. Could our own cluded in the denunciation of heresy against the school of painting be raised to the perfection al- latter, which is one of the most remarkable pictained by those of Italy in the sixteenth, and Flan- tures of the age. Having been seized by the ders in the seventeenth centuries, what need were French, it was deposited in the gallery of the there to send abroad our annual thousands for the Belle Arti in that capital; but was eventually repurchase of their works? Or, were our designs claimed as family property. A few hundred dolas tasteful as the French, why should our neigh-lars would at that time have secured its remaining bors export their fashions and fancy goods, to there ; but this the 'Tuscan government foolishly eclipse ours wherever civilization has penetrated ? grudged, and the picture having been cleaned and These matters are now beginning to be understood talked of, has now gradually attained the price of among us; much still remains to be known, and about 10001. far more to be done ; but it is well to have at Verily if there be tricks in all trades, that of length entered upon the right path :-sero, let it picture-dealing is not the purest : yet great allow

ances must be made ere we bring sweeping accuAnother inference from the superabundance of sations. No other commodity is equally liable to old pictures in Italy is, that amongst so many, the fluctuations of whimn and caprice. Its genumuch that is good may still be gleaned. From ineness, when doubted, becomes matter of conBologna alone, thousands have annually been ex-flicting evidence, without the possibility of satisported, since the end of the war, and yet the town factory demonstration: its intrinsic value is just seems full of them. After spending three days what it will fetch in the market. It is a speculaamong the sale galleries there a few years ago, un- tion in which there is nothing positive but realized less the number was grossly exaggerated, we profit, and the best knowledge is that of selling to must have had nearly 10,000 pieces in our offer. advantage. Hence the prevailing ignorance of Indeed, one man estimated his stock at half that art, in an extended sense, among most of the tribe number! Add the quantity scattered among pri- who trade in it, and whose gross blunders are frevate houses in town and country, where every ar- quently ascribed to knavery. Even those of them tisan and tradesman have their quadretti di divozi- who have an educated eye, seldom aim at anyons, as with us they have their Bible and prayer- thing higher than the experience of what is vendibook; recollect that there nearly everything may ble. It has often been contested, whether most be bought; and judge whether there is not still reliance should be placed upon the judgment in plenty to be had beyond the Alps. The acquisi- pictures of a painter or a connoisseur; the former, tion of really excellent pictures there, is, however, although more familiar with the mechanical part a matter of increasing difficulty. Most of the few of the subject, being thought liable to be warped rich galleries that remain intact are secured by by narrow views of art. So far as our own obentail, or by the wealth and pride of their owners. servation goes, we should award a preference to From time to time indeed, such barriers give way, I those painters who have taken to dealing extenand some fine collection is dispersed, yielding sively in the old masters, and to restorers who prices not to be obtained in other countries. Now have passed a great variety of superior works and then too, the death or exigencies of a collector, through their hands, such persons on the contiwho knew how to profit by the chances of revolu- nent having a more extended experience than tionary times, sets free a few brilliant bits. These with us. opportunities are, however, insufficient to account It is not our intention to supply such as wish to for the number of good works in the trade, which invest a portion of their wealth in the most rais one of the most conclusive testimonies to the tional as well as attractive of ornamental furniture, with a defence for their credulity and their selves by selecting the very worst specimen from pockets, out of the somewhat extensive acquaint- such a lot, to ask “How much?” when at once ance which we have chanced to form, abroad and some hundred crowns would be named, for what, at home, with those whose vocation it is to ad- at a stall, would scarcely bring a dollar. The minister to that appetite. A few hints may not, smile which it was impossible to repress, would however, be out of place. The best general rule be answered by, “Who knows bui it may be for a collector to avoid buying experience at a worth as many thousands ? My father once sold, high rate is, of course, to study the most impor- for five crowns, a Madonna, for which five huntant schools of painting, and the best masters, dred have been refused by the fortunate purboth through books and their most authentic chaser." Many similar anecdotes might be menworks, and also to examine and “price" many tioned ; one may suffice.

be serio.

A Scottish baronet, pictures ere he begin to buy, either on his own whose purse was presumed to outweigh his conjudgment or that of any one else. To those who noisseurship, and who was consequently beset by acquire pictures as a matter of fashion, or as mere importunate venders, at last condescended to look ornaments, without caring much for their price, at some daub brought to him at Milan, and even to no plan can be better than that of commissioning ask the price. The Italian's eye kindled with a respectable and skilled dealer or artist to find for joyful anticipation, and in a voice trembling with him such as he wishes. But this is necessarily a ecstacy he exclaimed, “Cento mille scudi!"costly plan, for the agent's ten per cent. on his hundred thousand crowns, being the highest outlay cannot quicken his zeal to buy at a low amount to which his arithmetic could carry him. figure, nor will many true amateurs transfer to To almost equal ignorance, another class of amaanother, what is, after all, the chief interest and teur sellers add an immoderate share of impugratification of their pursuit, the pleasure of seek- dence spiced with cunning. If, on entering a ing out their purchases.

house, you are assailed by multiplied expositions Setting aside the more difficult question of its of the vast advantage of buying from private authenticity, there are certain faults and qualities owners, (Signori, of course,) with frequent prowhich ought to secure the rejection of a picture testations that your present coinpany are such, by amateurs of taste and feeling, besides the and no dealers, you may look for imposition so merely technical ones of bad execution and de- barefaced, and prices so preposterous, as to defeat fective preservation. Among these may be men- the object in view, and leave your purse scathtioned, a subject in itself painful, or treated in a less. manner revolting or mean; a picture unpleasing Upon the whole, it would seem that one can buy in shape or effect, in whose ensemble there is some on better terms and with equal safety from dealers, obvious defect, such as the shadows darkened by though in such affairs the hundred eyes of Argus time acting upon a bad ground. Unfinished pic-would be far from superfluous. The varieties of tures, though often of infinite value to the stu- their fraud, from the random assumption of a dent, are seldom satisfactory additions to a select great master's name, to the elaborate fabrication cabinet, and over-painted ones are speculations to of a fine old picture, were an endless theme. be touched with caution. On the continent, fine Many tricks, such as ascribing the work to some old or school copies of chefs-d'ouvre are much noted gallery, the solemn asseveration that no prized, and are certainly far more deserving of at- one else has yet been permitted to see the treatention than careless originals bearing good names : sure, or the casual bint that Lord Some-one has in England, however, the epithet copy is, in the come down with a handsome offer for it, have slang of ignorant connoisseurship, a stain con- been generally discarded as too transparent for founding all degrees of merit, and which no in- our sharp-witted generation. There are, huwtrinsic excellence can effice. It is scarcely neces- " three ariful dodges” in especial faror sary to say, that no collection can become choice among Italians, to whose dexterity of resource without occasional weeding, when opportunities and effrontery of falsehood, every other people of substituting better specimens occur.

must yield the palm. These we shall distinguish Those who find amusement in collecting pic as the “ dodge candid,” the “ dodge confidential," tures, will do well to remember that the price and that by coup-de-main, and shall shortly illusdemanded has usually but a remote analogy with trate each. the sum that would be gladly accepted, whether When you ask an Italian the price of any comby dealers or private parties. It is especially so modity which he is pressing upon you, he is in in Italy, where almost every family has something most cases at once struck dumb, puts on the air of of art which they are anxious to turn into cash, a man totally unconscious of your question, and and where a class of small agents of very ques- waits until you repeat it. He then, probably, tionable reputation, are always ready to lead a resumes his interminable laudation of his wares, stranger through rooms of rubbish dignified with without vouchsafing you an answer. the title of galleries, or to exhibit to them, under way to treat such a fellow is to walk quietly a cloud of mystery, a pretended Raffaelle. Pur- away; but if you have patience once more to chasing out of private houses is, indeed, seldom make the inquiry which he so anxiously evades, pleasant. Apart from feelings of delicacy, in you will perhaps only have your words reëchoed, most instances misplaced, one has to contend with and followed by another pause. Now the perthe natural tendency of the seller to over-estimate pose of all this by-play is to gain time for estia perhaps favorite object, which is usually exag-mating the utmost limit to which he may venture gerated by his thorough ignorance of its real upon your ignorance, credulity, and purse. When value. No doubt that from such people, when you have gone through such preliminaries with pressed for money, a prize is occasionally ob- ihe “candid" picture-dealer, and fairly brought tained at an utterly inadequate price, but it is him to bay, he assumes his most insinuating frankmuch more common to find in their hands worth-ness of manner, and solemnly says, “ Hear me! less trash treasured, in roguery or ignorance, as that picture cost me a hundred crowns.” As you chefs-d'auvre. We have sometimes amused our- I have by this time probably made up your opinion


The proper

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »