1 AUGUST 1840, Page 19



Tint announcement of un exhibition of the Gallery of Pictures of " his Royal Highness the Duke of Lucca," of course drew crowds of picture- seers to gaze on the chels-tAcurre it was expected to contain : but many have, like ourselves, been disappointed at finding thai the few pod pictures are either of a low class, or of so early a date as to be interesting only as curiosities of art. So far it only showed that an Italian Prince was very poor—a malady incident to other than Italian Princes—and that his Highness had a poor collection of pic- tures. The circumstance of the catalogue being studded with such names as RAFFAELLE, MICHAEL ANGELO, COREGGIO, LEONA nno VINer, while none of their works were visible on the walls, was also too common an occurrence to excite surprise ; but the Raffielle being placed in a conspicuous position in the room, and No. 1 in the cata- logue, we were curious to know what price WaS put upon a picture that bore as strong marks of being a copy as any pretended original we e ver saw, and accordingly asked the question. " Nine thousaud pounds," was the reply: It was quite astounding did we bear right ? yes, 4' thousands and " nine" were the figures : " And," said the attendant, "I don't think less will be taken ; indeed, we have all but sold it to Mr. Holford,"—a young gentleman, heir to a large fortune, who is known to be desirous of possessing a collection of pictures, and whose wishes the dealers are proinpt to gratify with ekfv-thetwre of all the great masters which they always have on hand ready for such occasions. Now if Mr. HOLFORD, or any other Crcesus, chooses to give twenty thousand pounds for a mock Raffaelle, the public have nothing to do with it : the arts of picture. dealers are as well known as the tricks of horse-dealers : but when " the gem" of a collection purporting to belong to a sovereign prince proves to be paste, and is priced at the fullest worth of a real stone, there is a strong ground for suspicion th .t all is not how; file. We should know what to think of a person who offered for sale as a diamond of the first water an artificial imitation, and this ten under the guarantee of its genuineness implied by the rank of' a royal potentate, though but the sovereign of an Italian principality. lint it may be said that we are only assuming that the picture is not genuine. It is difficult to prove the nega- tive in a case where the real original is not to be pointod out ; but no great work of the highest class admits of nitwit doubt, and in this instance the evidences of manufacture are very palpable. The pielltre is a circular composition, called La Madonna del Candelahri, or " Tile Virgin of the Candlesticks." from two flaming torches held over her shoulders by two angels. The Virgin bears some resemblance to RAFFA ELLE'S Madonnas, as far as the outline is concerned; but there is a pinched-up look in her petite features, and a glittering affectation in the expression of her eyes and those of the child, very different from the ingenuous sweetness and unaffected delicacy of RAFFAELLE'S women ; the'llwes of the two angels are bard and lifeless; and the handling is in the laboured, niggling style ofa stippled miniature, heavy and spiritless. The composition, moreover, is too formal and artificially balanced for RAFFAELLE neither is it consistent with the great painter's habitual tenderness of sentiment to bare introduced two such dull, indifferent spirits as these attendant angels ; whose heads are thrust into the picture like two sulky sentinels, tired of standing, without a trace of reverential love in their looks. In short, we do not believe that RA erAELLE ever de. siemed such a pic- ture, much less painted it ; it has every appearance of being altogether a fabrication. The Virgin cg. the Candlestich—Virgin of the Fiddle- sticks! The pedigree of' this precious production is singularly concise for a picture of such pretensions : all that the catalogue vouchsafes in the way of information, is that it " belonged to the gallery of Prince Berghesi ; it was sold to Lucien Bonaparte, and by him to the Queen of Etruria." The thing called a Michael Angelo, namely, a miniature " Crucifixion on copper, with two Saints "—a greater libel on BuoNa 'torn than the other on RAFFAELLE—bits the same pedigree. So alto has the Massacre of the Innocents, by N. POUSSIN, (100 which looks very like a copy ; for the painter who could have conceived and designed the subject so finely, would surely have been able to throw more of pathos into the expres- sion of the mothers : the one kneeling has a face like the mask of a Gorgon, and the other carrying off her dead infant might be mistaken for a woman crying—fish ! The Leonardo dim Vinci and the Coreggio, we suppose were among those sold at CHRISTIE'S last week, as we did not find them in the gallery. The three pictures by the CARACCI, and a fourth by GERARD HosullonsT, which we are told " were commanded by his Highness Prince Justiniani front these great painters," only show that these great painters were not inspired by the subjects. The three Caraccis are prosaic and commonplace ; and, without meaning to question their authenticity, we cannot think them worth so many thousands as are asked for them, though they are as large as life. ANNIBALE painted The Woman qf L'enattn, (4,) Lenovico, Christ Healing the Blind, [Fiddler?] (5,) and AGOSTINO, Christ Raising the Widow s Son, (6): this last is the best of the three ; but in each the Christ is any thing hut a divine person, and the sentiment of the events is wanting. Christ brought before (3,) is a life.size candle-light piece, representing a countryman in a smock-frock brought before a petty magistrate. In this view of the subject the painting is admirable : the accused looks like an innocent person, and the manly simplicity and patience of his countenance excite a strong human interest ; the sharp earnestness of' the judge, too, is well expressed, but the senti- ment is purely rustic : the effect of candle-light is well imitated, though the chiaroscuro has not the imaginative effect of REMBRANDT. A Repos°, by SIMONE DA PESARO, (15,) is another village version of a Scripture subject : a young mother in a faded silk gown is suckling a naked child, and an old peasant is lying asleep on his back across a sack, under the shelter of' a broken wall, from behind which the ass's head appears. The foreshortening of the old man's figure is admirable, and the painting excellent for the close imitation of nature. But pic- tures of this class are not such as one expects to be the principal orna- ments in the gallery of an Italian sovereign. The Marriage of St. Catherine, by PIETRO PAOLINI, (29,) is a good specimen of a master not known ; and a Noli me tangere, (140 by Bs- noccio, may be considered authentic, for nobody would be at the trouble of copying such a flimsy absurdity : Mary would snake a capital Madge Wildfire. The Holy Fancily, attributed to ANDREA DEL SART% (94.) is a clay-coloured mass of ugliness; and Ilylas among the Nymphs,by FURINI, (47,) is a group of very ugly and ill-tempered nudities pulling a poor young man into the water—one charitably hopes with the benevolent intention of saving him from the fire, which, judging from the carbonized aspect of the scene and their red-hot faces, must be raging near at band.

In a picture assigned to GUERCINO, The Woman if Samaria, (16,) Christ seems to be bargaining with the woman, and to have little chance of bringing her to terms.

The only really valuable portion of the collection consists of some curious specimens of the Gothic style of the early Italian and German painters ; such as Si. Jerome, by ALBERT DIDIER, (200 Virgins and Saints, Icy LUCAS DE LEYDEN, (73,) by HEMMELING, 090 by PERU... GINO, (19.) and PRA BARTOLOMEO, (25,) and two forming one altar- piece by Fit.iseiA, (8 and 9); which last is exquisite of its kind: its beauty, however, is more in design and execution than expression ; and !bur thousand pounds is a prodigious sum for a mere curiosity. Thu mania Ibr "01(1 masters" has lately shown dangerous symptoms of revival, and among the most alarming is this LuccA fever ; a turn of the disorder that if suffered to run its course, may be followed by fits of the " sweating sickness," imported from other foreign principalities. Unfortunately, the "copious bleeding" prescribed by the quack-doctors who bring over the virus, is no preventive from any fresh attack after inoculation : John Bull is only more open to other infections.