25th January 1842 Rome
My dear Mrs Sandbach,
Lear delivered safe the manuscript book to me. Yes we shall be together there. My handwriting will be with yours. All these beautiful bits, these productions of genius are the whisperings of superior spirits, they breath to you and I, beauties which we each feel, as you read and write them, so I read and feel them, my heart tells me so, but they purify my thoughts and bind me to you and to my art, in my art what do I feel, what do I encounter, – happiness, love which does not depress me, difficulties which I do not fear, resolutions which never abate, flights which carry me above the crowd, ambition which tramples no one down. I send you my grateful and affectionate acknowledgements from your little room where I am chalking up on the slate my new subject, Venus reproving Love for attaching himself to fortune. This idea amuses and pleases people much.
He [Thorvaldsen] said the idea is a very good one provided you express it well. Now me thinks I have done it. Fortune is leading Love off, he clings to her arm and in the act of moving away with her but Venus has just caught him by the waist drawing him back towards her and with the other hand dictating, she pulls one way and he another, this gives counter action. Their action is gentle, gods must not move with violence.
A few days ago Thorvaldsen was in this room of yours with the Baroness Stampe his friend, whom I mentioned to you. She brought me back your little volume and said flattering things. He looked at your bust, said, ‘who is this.’ I told him. He turned to the Baroness, said, ‘you see at once that this is a head of talent.’ It is lucky you are not here just now for I fear that you would be flirting with Thorvaldsen and she would be jealous of you and I should be jealous of him and your husband would settle us both. He said to me, ‘you should go to England and take the place of Chantrey.’ Said I, ‘which place do you think I could produce the greatest works Rome or London?’ ‘Oh Rome, Rome,’ said he. ‘Then why should I go to London?’ ‘to make a great fortune’ said he – ‘fame is my ambition not a fortune. I think, Cavaliere, that no one can produce works for lasting fame out of Rome.’ The Baroness jumped up with fire flashing from her bright black eyes and said ‘I differ with you. Thorvaldsen modelled now in his own country as fine things as he has done in Rome. Rome is a place to learn your art.’ He interrupted her, and said, ‘oh we are always learning.’ I said to Thorvaldsen that we had been friends for many long years and that I often wished to possess a sketch on paper by him. He then said, ‘most happy,’ but told me that he had not a single drawing to give, turning round to her saying ‘she robs me of everything in that way.’ Then I told the Baroness if she would give me one of his sketches that I would make a drawing for her and she agreed and said she would be delighted. The small model of the Aurora stood by us and he looked at it long considering it and I with the feelings and submission of a scholar to a great and venerable master of the art said I pray you to consider it for me and as usual say at once if it be worthy or not to be done in large. His sentiments were most encouraging and ‘by all means do it full size’ said he.
[Penry] Williams and the Baroness are making love. At a party the other evening they were sitting together in the corner and she called to Thorvaldsen who was sitting next to me and said ‘Why Villiams says he has began the picture for me’ He lifted up his hands in the air and said ‘Oh what it is to be a woman.’ It is two years since I gave him a commission and I have nothing yet but promises. Thorvaldsen is a great admirer of the works of Williams.
I am sorry that you have lost your grandpapa whom you liked so much. Our Doctor Gloage is going, we expect him to die tonight. It is consumption. He is a good man and clever and was always kind to me. We are all on the road, those who have just gone have past us but we are following fast. Before I go I wish to finish the Huskisson, the Hunter and to make a large group the design which I have had by me for some years. Thorvaldsen has given me every encouragement to do it large and also before I go I wish to kiss your dear hand.
So you have begun a poem but you do not mention the subject. Now I shall not tell you the subject of my poems in future however I would rather not know it till I read it. Here is a friend of yours Mr and Mrs Loynn and she speaks kindly of you. They are nice kind people. Mrs Trollope has been here and great attentions was paid to her. She was delighted with the Hunter. She is very agreeable and clever. Lady Davy paid great court to her and introduced some of us to her. She is writing a book upon Italy and Rome which they say Murray is to pay her £2000, she has been out a year for this subject. I have had the gout for six weeks in the left foot. I have had it for a few years past otherwise I have felt uncommonly well since my return from the Tyrol. I am always intending to write down for you an account of my beginnings in the arts as you requested. Wyatt did not like England as a place for art and he was sadly disappointed with the state of sculpture there. Chantey’s works disappointed him, he says he has no Greek feeling therefore falls into clumsiness and is graceless in his drapery always bad and tasteless and this was the man who always preached against Rome as a bad school persuading all young men not to go there. If this did not arise from a jealous feeling who can deny that it did not arise from the narrow prejudice, the confined notions of a home bred artist – but Wyatt admires his busts and said that a few of his best portrait statues are in simple and good attitudes. Goodbye – continue to think of your friend – write soon. Tell Mr Sandbach I wrote a business letter to him. I am preparing my iron works to model the Aurora. People who do not understand art are much pleased with the Shepherdess, they find in it repose and soft melancholy. I shall model her too.