23 JUNE 1860, Page 13


Paris, 20th of June 1860.

Sin—Paris has just raised a cry of indignation ; _for after months of un- certainty, it sees newly put in its place, in the Salon Carre of the Louvre, Raphael's grand St. Michel, which has just issued from the offices of Messrs. Yillot Reiset an Co., "quantum miaow ab ipso !" This abominable out- rage, following 'elo closely on the massacre of Reubens, Titian, Perugino, &c., has worn out the patience of the people, docile though they are and have been. Let them give: us back all those chefs- d'ceuvrev which have formed the glory of our country for centuries ; or, better still, let them be sold. Then,

at least we should get thanks, or perhaps a few halfpence ! But to think that we can see them effaced one after another without murmuring; or that we can without vexation see "the keystone put to the work even by the execution of a Raphael, and all for the profit of a few schemers, the pleasure of certain silly persons, and the scorn of every sensible man, is to ascribe to us a patience beyond our pretensions.

M. Edmond About and others have at length taken up the question, and sounded the alarm. Why have they not done so sooner ? They speak of a deputation to the Emperor, imploring him to interpose between the rest of the collection and these "conservative mites."

M. de Nieuwerkerke, Director-General of the Louvre, and a very fine man as everybody knows, in a full sitting of the Institute on the subject of the exploits of his brethren, received a humiliating admonition, to which he replied in the following dignified manner. "Gentlemen it is my ruin you seek. You wish to see me turned out of doors ; and yet I have always done my best to make myself agreeable." How noble, and how much to the rupees! "No, Sir," he was answered, "we do not desire your min. He who might replace you would perhaps know no better than you ; and if we are to submit to pacha' measures in our art museums, we would as soon have you as another. Only we wish for a pledge, that you will con- tent yourself with the performance of your duties, and for the future not to touch a single picture. Do not forget, Sir, that the riches contained in the Louvre belong neither to you nor to the Emperor. Your office is that of Chamberlain and Director of the Arts. But our object, and we know how to enforce it, is to protect what you so badly guard." M. de Nieu- werkerke, who during this harangue cut but a very sorry figure, soon calmed down and relapsed into his usual serenity. He promised all that was required, and that an ordonnance should appear, which should prevent his touching a single painting without the authority of the Picture Depart- ment of the Institute. The pledge was in fact given ; but this affair of the " restoration " of our chefs-d'ceuvre has made, and is making an immense sensation, which cannot be put down so easily as a certain set of people would wish. This set of people are a real scourge, and if energetic measures are not everywhere taken to resist them, there will soon be an end to our glorious souvenirs of art.

Believe me to be, Sir, with the highest esteem, N. E. [We do not give the name of our correspondent, not being certain whether he intended it for the public part of his letter. We much doubt whether the abuse to which he refers can have come under the notice of the Em- peror, and shall be glad, indeed, if we can assist in procuring that notice.]