30 MAY 1829, Page 9


A CHANGE in the views at this popular exhibition comes so rarely, that on the information of such an event being to take place last Wed- nesday, we travelled with post-haste expedition to the Regent's Park, determined to be among the first to welcome in the strangers. The paintings which we have to notice in this article represent the interior of St. Peter's at Rome, and the village of Thiers in France ; both of which more than rival any that have been exhibited at the Diorama before. The interior of St. Peter's is prominent for the cold chasteness with which pilaster after pilaster rises on the canvass, and gives all the scope of architecture to the painting; so that the eye fol- lows the great design from entrance to aisle, and from aisle to nave,. till the burst of light that overhangs the circle and centre of the build- ing stops the wandering gaze, and rivets it to the spot, which at once consummates the pride of the architect and of the painter. Inde pendently of this breadth of light, which pervades the principal feature. of the picture, there are one or two other lights introduced, more sub- dued in tone, but not less happy in effect, and which, while they are sufficiently remote and kept under not to meddle with or intrude upon the chief arrangement in this respect, are yet conspicuous enough to prevent any monotony as to tone. A great variety of figures are at intervals introduced into the picture : but while we are ready to admit that these may serve to give a better idea of St. Peters as it appears in the nineteenth century, we cannot but object to them as destroying in some measure the purity of the scene. Had the whole pavement of this vast and imposing structure been left unoccupied, a fine repose— the genuine characteristic of such a scene—would have been obtained; and the eye might have rested on this portraiture of the architectural masterpiece of RAPHAEL, MICHAEL ANGELO, and others of mighty name, undisturbed by the groups of parading monks and devotees that obtrude themselves on its solitude.

To the view of the village of Thiers we have to give the praise of being the pleasantest landscape that has yet been exhibited at the Diorama ; the great defect of which hitherto appears to have been, that it had not the power of giving to landscape that high effect of illusion which it has so often imparted to the more artificial forms of architec- ture. The village of Thiers has an extraordinary quantity of fine painting about it, and will delight with busy recollections those who have had an opportunity of seeing what a French village really. is. The house that stands immediately next the bridge, exhibiting a front half of whitewash and half of boards, is an invaluablee-specimen for all

who make the painting of houses their study : every thing about it ap- pears so steadily carried on to a just conclusion, and the truth of nature is so happily combined with the brilliancy of effect, that the spectator, after wandering among the other beauties of the picture, still comes

back here to take his among glance. The background of the picture is occupied with a finely-wooded upland, where copse and meadow mingle with each other in all the uncertainty of nature, and over the surface of which the morning fog spreads its dim atmosphere, till a July sun triumphs over it and brightens the scene. In the foreground a bedded stream glistens and ripples in the same bright light:— " Shallow rivers, to whose falls

Melodious birds sing madrigals." In short, the whole scene is one of nature ; and whether we gaze on the verdant upland, the humble dwelling, the dancing stream, or the curling smoke that rises from the distant chimney, we feel that the artist has been her faithful copyist.