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bution which reduced—what may not be gathered by way of comment from the chequered records of the great museums of the Louvre ! Historical Paris, however present to the mind's eye, is fast disappearing from the sight. The Tuileries are not what they were. The salons of the Louvre would puzzle those who trod them last in 1814 ; but a retrospect of their contents, all shifted and changed as they have been, still speaks as clearly as ever to the student of history, equally in what is no longer there as in those portions which have descended safe to the present day through all the foaming cataracts of French history.
Considered geographically, socially, and politically, France as a country, and the French as a race, may be said to have been predestined to the early possession and appreciation of those objects of taste which are among the most defensible idols of human worship. Most royal collections of other countries and later times owe their main formation to the policy which took advantage of the mal-government and degenerate needs of petty Italian princes. Thus, the walls of Charles I.'s palaces were clothed with the dismantlings of those of Mantua, and the Gallery of Dresden filled with the emptying of that of Modena. But the French were in the field before these ups and downs of the picture market began. It is not too much to say that the Court of France were earlier even than any secular
in Italy in patronage of artists and acquisition of works of art. Charles V. of Francereigned 1361-1380—was a collector. He decorated his residences with sculpture and painting long vanished both from sight and record. This was more especially the case with that small château, first a hunting-seat, then a prison, of which nothing more that the name 'le Louvre' remains—the name itself retained from a remote period, and forming one of those links between Past and Present which embrace the utmost possible contrast of ideas; being supposed to descend from (Silva) lupina, indicative of a neighbourhood curiously at variance with that which surrounds the present noble edifice. Charles V. first used the Louvre as a palace of residence, adding greatly to its extent, and enclosing it within the walls of Paris. He first also associated its name with the conservation of rare and precious works; for there he placed the Royal Library, rich with those galleries on a small scale which adorn the vellum pages of ancient manuscripts. These, too, in great portion followed the tide of particular history, surging backwards and forwards with it across the Channel; for many of these manuscripts were carried off to England in 1429, by the Duke of Bedford, Regent of France ; and many were brought back in 1440 by the Princes of Angoulême, on the termination of their long captivity in England.
The foundations, however, properly speaking, of the collections de la maison du Roi' belong to a later monarch. If the story so pertinaciously repeated of the letter of Francis I. to his mother, after the battle of Pavia, reporting the loss of all, fors l'honneur, has been proved by the evidence of the letter itself to be totally untrue, it is, at all events, clear that he acquired and carried off from his Italian campaigns that respect for art which was an honour to his taste, and a dowry to his country. Nor would it be far-fetched to attribute to the personal impression produced by Leonardo da Vinci
French monarch the germinating idea of what has since expanded into the magnificent museums of the Louvre. There have been as pertinaciously untrue tales told of Francis I. and the painter of the Cena,' as of the King's letter to his mother. But there can be no doubt that the enthusiasm for the varied gifts of the great master kindled in the breast of the King, when the two first met at Milan in 1515, was the stepping-stone to his admiration for Italian art. sure means of securing their works, he transplanted the painters themselves to his own dominions. Seldom has a monarch been so ungratefully requited. Leonardo did him little more than the compliment of dying in France, rather prematurely, to our present view, distinguished, or excused, by his biographers by the title of Venerable, for he was only sixty-seven years of age; while Andrea del Sarto, having undertaken to purchase antique marbles in Italy on behalf of the King, embezzled the money and returned no more. Other painters of secondary note, such as Primaticcio, and Niccolo dell'Abbate, constituted the so-called School of Fontainebleau. They decorated the walls of that palace with frescoes of great magnificence and extent, the execution of which, continued by their scholars, placed Fontainebleau, in point of adornment, almost on a par with the cotemporary glories of the Vatican, and probably far above the questionable merits of the Palazzo del Té, at Mantua. Benvenuto Cellini added the éclat of his work and exaggerated artistic character to this period, and was one of the few faithful Italians in the King's pay. He decorated the royal banqueting tables with objects precious in workmanship and material. French artists also, responding to the encouragement given by a monarch so enlightened in these respects, added their contributions in sculpture, painting, enamels, porcelain, &c.; so that Fontainebleau obtained the name of the little Rome.' Undeterred also by the failure of his first attempt, Francis I. employed agents, honester than Andrea, to procure examples of antique sculpture-figures and busts - from the then teeming soil of Rome. Or, when the object he coveted, such as the Apollo Belvedere, the Venus, &c.,
was beyond purchase, casts were taken for the King, and the work was executed in bronze under a French sky. Some of these inay still be identified in the Tuileries gardens.
Smaller objects too, such as incised gems, medals, and coins, were sought for by this accomplished Prince. His immediate successors, especially Catherine de' Medici, continued these researches, till such became the rage for the acquisition_more especially of coins, that a numismatist, travelling in France during the time of Catherine, enumerates no less than two hundred collections, of which hers was the chief, among the princes and nobility.
But above all, Francis I. formed a collection of those enchanting objects which only began to be portable and plentiful at the beginning of the sixteenth century, namely, easel pictures. Many came to him doubtless in an honest way, by direct commission and purchase from the painter. Presents, or bribes, also in this fascinating form, were the order of the day ; but more numerous still were the presents, so-called, levied, as Vasari states, upon the fears and necessities of the citizens of Florence, after the siege of that city in 1529. Unfortunately, no catalogue exists of a collection which, fresh as it was from the hands of the greatest painters who ever flourished, must have offered a series such as the world has scarcely seen. It makes us doubt, however, whether pictures ever were seen in the state in which the painter left them; for it is owing to the record of some kind of restoration that we know that the Raphaels, which still constitute the strength of the Louvre, are the legacy of Francis I. As early as 1530, Primaticcio, then engaged on the works at Fontainebleau, where these pictures occupied a particular saloon, is known to have performed some cleaning operation on the four large Raphaels. These were the large Holy Family, with the angel strewing flowers, the St. Michael overcoming Satan, the portrait of Joanna of Arragon, and the St. Margaret and the Dragon; not one of them being then at the most more than thirteen years old. Of these the portrait of Joanna of Arragon was a gift from the Cardinal Giulio de' Medici. The manner in which Francis acquired the others is not now traceable; but there is presumptive evidence in the choice of the subjects of two of them -assisted by other testimony--that they were executed by Raphael for him. The St. Michael,* namely, is believed to have been
* The further interpretation given to this picture, and repeated in all catalogues,- viz., that it was symbolical of Francis I., as the eldest son of the Church, under the form of the Archangel, overcoming Luther, under the form of Satan:- is another of the many baseless stories which spring from the atmosphere of Courts. Raphael had painted this picture before Luther wrote his theses.
painted in allusion to the fact of the King's being Grand Master of the Order of St. Michael, instituted by Louis XI. ; the subject of the St. Margaret to have been chosen in allusion to the King's sister, Margaret of Valois. The Holy Family, by Raphael, called · La Belle Jardinière,' is also traditionally known to have formed part of Francis I.'s collection, though no mention of it appears in any catalogue till the eighteenth century.
The principal pictures by Leonardo da Vinci still in the Louvre--the small Holy Family, the · Vierge aux Rochers,' the Mona Lisa, the single figure of the Baptist,-all belong, as might be expected, to this reign. That of the Baptist, now wretchedly disfigured by copper-coloured varnish, has not remained stationary. It took fight in Louis XIII.'s time, was absent about half a century, and returned again to its companions, having been exchanged with Charles I. against a Holbein and a Titian, sold to the French banker Jabach at the sale of the King's pictures, and purchased from him by Louis XIV. Sebastian del Piombó was also finely represented, and more especially Andrea del Sarto, who is reported to have sent the King several pictures from Italy by way of peace-offering for his misdemeanours.
After the reign of Francis I. the collecting of pictures seems to have subsided. Catherine de' Medici and her sons continued the decorations of Fontainebleau. She also greatly enriched the collections of the Crown with coins and medals, and with what the records of the time call curiosities'—a word of magic meaning in the Medici sense. And Charles IX. dedicated anew the Louvre-of the present form of which his mother, strictly speaking, was the founder-to the conservation of precious things, by placing those collections within its walls.
Henry IV. does not, as might be anticipated, figure greatly as a patron of art. He however purchased the pearl of the present antique sculpture, the Diana Huntress; and in his reign that statue, and other examples of the antique belonging to the Crown, were gathered together and deposited in the Louvre. It was not till long after his death that his widow, Mary de' Medici, gave Rubens the commission for the twenty-one large pictures which decorated the Palace of the Luxembourg, and now form part of the Louvre gallery.
Louis XIII. greatly enriched the Royal Library, but is not reported to have done anything for art.
But the normal condition of France from the time of Francis I. to the accession of Henry IV., however favourable to various modes of acquisition, and even to the production of things of beauty and value, was not characterised by the tranquillity which
insures * Trésor des Merveilles de Fontainebleau,' par le Père Dan.
insures their safety. The creation and acquisition of such objects depend on the powers and motives of the few : the preservation of them is contingent on the temper of the many. Art, per se--whatever enthusiasts may say and philanthropists wishhas no humanising influences. There may be plenty of taste, with a heart of stone. Catherine de' Medici had doubtless exquisite perceptions in the way of art. And if we stand before a few specimens of Henri-Deux china, and think of the massacre of St. Bartholomew, we arrive at conclusions, sad, indeed, but quite compatible with human nature. The little bits of china --the quintessence of taste in that class—were made in her time, and a few of them preserved through it; but the tone she and her sons gave to history disordered all the safeguards of society. In times when human life has no value, all forms of property, including even the most refined, will meet with small respect. Though, therefore, France may be said, even in her most ferocious struggles between Roman Catholic and Huguenot, not to have suffered such wholesale destruction of art as the fanaticism of the Reformation entailed elsewhere; though no one went actually about destroying things of beauty and piety under the pretext of doing God service; yet this awful period of civil war opened a gulf into which much fell, and closed it again upon all record as to how things had been swallowed up. As regards the history of the Crown collections, little better than a tabula rasa presents itself for a considerable time. The destruction, by neglect and other unknown causes, of a great portion of the fresco decorations of Fontainebleau, began in that period, especially during the wretched reign of Henry III. The collection of coins and curiosities in the Louvre was dispersed to the winds, and pictures disappeared from the gallery, which have never been heard of since. No record is found of their diminished numbers until 1642, to which year belongs a meagre kind of catalogue — the first formed* _ of the objects remaining in Fontainebleau. From this catalogue, of the objects known to have been there, are missing a famous Sebastian del Piombo-the portrait of Giulia Gonzaga-also a present from Cardinal Giulio de' Medici to Francis I. ; the greater number of the works by Andrea del Sarto; and the chief groups of Michael Angelo's destroyed cartoon by a contemporary hand; while the small number of thirty-four, to which the Italian pictures were reduced, leads to the conclusion that of those not actually known but reasonably assumed to have formed part of the gallery,