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Apropos of female artists : I met here with a lady of noble birth and high rank, the Countess Julie von Egloffstein, * who in spite of the prejudices still prevailing in Germany, has devoted herself to painting as a profession. Her vocation for the art was early displayed; but combated and discouraged as derogatory to her rank and station; she was for many years demoiselle d'honneur to the grand Duchess Luise of Weimar. Under all these circumstances, it required real strength of mind to take the step she has taken; but a less decided course could not well have emancipated her from trammels, the force of which can hardly be estimated out of Germany. A recent journey to Italy, undertaken on account of her health, fixed her determination, and her destiny for life.
In looking over her drawings and pictures, I was particularly struck by one singularity, which yet, on reflection, appears perfectly comprehensible. This high-born and court-bred woman shows a decided predilection for the picturesque in humble life, and seems to have turned to simple nature in perfect simplicity of heart. Being self-taught and self-formed, there is nothing mannered or conventional in her style ; and I do hope she will assert the privilege of genius, and, looking only into nature out of her own heart and soul, form and keep a style to herself. I remember one little picture, painted either for the queen of England or the queen of Bavaria, representing a young Neapolitan peasant, seated at her cottage door, contemplating her child, cradled at her feet, while the fishing bark of her husband is sailing away in the distance. In this little bit of natural poetry there was no seeking after effect, no prettiness, no pretension; but a quiet genuine simplicity of feeling, which surprised while it pleased me.
the opportunity I could have wished of cultivating their acquaintance. These three sisters, all so talented, and so inseparable,-all artists, and bound together in affectionate communion of hearts and interests, reminded me of the Sofonisba and her sisters.
* She is the “ Julie” celebrated in some of Goëthe's minor poems.
When I have looked at the Countess Julie in her painting-room, surrounded by her drawings, models, casts—all the powers of her exuberant enthusiastic mind flowing free in their natural direction, I have felt at once pleasure, and admiration, and respect. It should seem that the energy of spirit and real magnanimity of mind which could trample over social prejudices, not the less strong because manifestly absurd, united to genius and perseverance, may, if life be granted, safely draw upon futurity both for success and for fame.
I consider my introduction to Moritz Retzsch as one of the most memorable and agreeable incidents of my short sojourn at Dresden.
This extraordinary genius, who is almost as popular and interesting in England as in his own country, seems to have received from Nature a double portion of the inventive faculty — that rarest of all her good gifts, even to those who are her especial favourites. As his published works, by which he is principally known in England (the Outlines to the Faust, to Shakspeare, to Schiller's Song of the Bell, &c.) are illustrations of the ideas of others, few but those who may possess some of his original drawings are aware that Retzsch is himself a poet of the first order, using his glorious power of graphic delineation to throw into form the conceptions, thoughts, aspirations, of his own glowing imagination and fertile fancy. Retzsch was born at Dresden in
1779, and has never, I believe, been far from his native place. From childhood he was a singular being, giving early indications of his imitative power by drawing or carving in wood, resemblances of the objects which struck his attention, without the slightest idea in himself or others of becoming eventually an artist; and I have even heard that, when he was quite a youth, his enthusiastic mind, labouring with a power which he felt rather than knew, his love of the wilder aspects of nature, and impatience of the restraints of artificial life, had nearly induced him to become a huntsman or forester (Jäger) in the royal service. However, at the age of twenty, his love of art became a decided vocation. The little property he had inherited or accumulated was dissipated during that war, which swept like a whirlwind over all Germany, overwhelming prince and peasant, artist, mechanic, in one wide-spreading desolation. Since that time Retzsch has depended on his talents alonecontent to live poor in a poor country. He has by the exertion of his talents, achieved for himself a small independence, and contributed to the support of a large family of relations, also ruined
by the casualties of war. His usual residence is at his own pretty little farm or vineyard a few miles from Dresden. When in the town, where his duties as professor of the Academy frequently call him, he lodges in a small house in the Neustadt, close upon the banks of the Elbe, in a retired and beautiful situation. Thither I was conducted by our mutual friend, N—, whose appreciation of Retzsch's talents, and knowledge of his peculiarities, rendered him the best possible intermediator on this occasion.
The professor received us in a room which appeared to answer many purposes, being obviously a sleeping as well as a sitting-room, but perfectly neat. I saw at once that there was every where a woman's superintending eye and thoughtful care; but did not know at the moment that he was married. He received us with openhearted frankness, at the same time throwing on the stranger one of those quick glances which seemed to look through me: in return, I contemplated him with inexpressible interest. His figure is rather larger, and more portly than I had expected; but I admired his fine Titanic head, so large, and so sublime in its expression;