We lately visited the Florentine Museum. Besides the usual collection of objects of natural history, there is an anatomical cabinet, very celebrated for its preparations in wax. All parts of the human frame are represented so wonderfully exact, that students of medicine pursue their studies here in summer with the same facility as from real “subjects.” Every bone, muscle, and nerve in the body is perfectly counterfeited, the whole forming a collection as curious as it is useful. One chamber is occupied with representations of the plague of Rome, Milan, and Florence. They are executed with horrible truth to nature, but I regretted afterwards having seen them. There are enough forms of beauty and delight in the world on which to employ the eye, without making it familiar with scenes which can only be remembered with a shudder.
We derive much pleasure from the society of the American artists who are now residing in Florence. At the houses of Powers, and Brown, the painter, we spend many delightful evenings in the company of our gifted countrymen. They are drawn together by a kindred, social feeling as well as by their mutual aims, and form among themselves a society so unrestrained, American-like, that the traveler who meets them forgets his absence for a time. These noble representatives of our country, all of whom possess the true, inborn spirit of republicanism, have made the American name known and respected in Florence. Powers, especially, who is intimate with many of the principal Italian families, is universally esteemed. The Grand Duke has more than once visited his studio and expressed the highest admiration of his talents.
AMERICAN ART IN FLORENCE.
I have seen Ibrahim Pacha, the son of old Mehemet Ali, driving in his carriage through the streets. He is hero on a visit from Lucca, where he has been spending some time on account of his health. He is a man of apparently fifty years of age; his countenance wears a stern and almost savage look, very consistent with the character he bears and the political part he has played. He is rather portly in person, the pale olive of his complexion contrasting strongly with a beard perfectly white. In common with all his attendants, he wears the high red cap, picturesque blue tunic and narrow trowsers of the Egyptians. There is scarcely a man of them whose face with its wild, oriental beauty, does not show to advantage among us civilized and prosaic Christians.
In Florence, and indeed through all Italy, there is much reason for our country to be proud of the high stand her artists are taking. The sons of our rude western clime, brought up without other resources than their own genius and energy, now fairly rival those, who from their cradle upwards have drawn inspiration and ambition from the glorious masterpieces of the old painters and sculptors. Wherever our artists are known, they never fail to create a respect for American talent, and to dissipate the false notions respecting our cultivation and refinement, which prevail in Europe. There are now eight or ten of our painters and sculptors in Florence, some of whom, I do not hesitate to say, take the very first rank among living artists.