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mestic poetry as one shall see in a summer's day. She was the daughter of a vine-dresser, whom Retzsch fell in love with, while she was yet almost a child, and educated for his wife-at least so runs the tale. At the first glance I detected the original of that countenance, which, more or less idealized, runs through all his representations of female youth and beauty: here was the model, both in feature and expression; she smiled upon us a most cordial welcome, regaled us with delicious coffee and cakes prepared by herself, then taking up her knitting, sat down beside us; and while I turned over admiringly, the beautiful designs with which her husband had decorated her album, the looks of veneration and love with which she regarded him, and the expression of kindly, delighted sympathy with which she smiled upon me, I shall not easily forget. As for the album itself, queens might have envied her such homage: and what would not a dilettante collector have given for such a possession.
I remember two or three of these designs, which must serve to give an idea of the rest:-1st. The good Genius descending to bless his wife.—2nd. The birthday of his wife-a lovely female infant is asleep under a vine, which is wreathed round the tree of life; the spirits of the four elements are bringing votive gifts with which they endow her.—3rd. The Enigma of Human Life. The Genius of Humanity is reclining on the back of a gigantic sphinx, of which the features are averted, and partly veiled by a cloud; he holds a rose half-withered in his hand, and looks up with a divine expression towards two butterflies which have escaped from the chrysalis state, and are sporting above his head; at his feet are a dead bird and reptile-emblematical of sin and death. 4th. The genius of art, represented as a young Apollo, turns, with a melancholy, abstracted air, the handle of a barrel-organ, while Vulgarity, Ignorance, and Folly, listen with approbation; meantime his lyre and his palette lie neglected at his feet, together with an empty purse and wallet: the mixture of pathos, poetry, and satire, in this little drawing, can hardly be described in words. 5th. Hope, represented by a lovely group of playful children, who are peeping under a hat for a butterfly, which they fancy they have caught, but which has escaped, and is hovering above their reach. 6th. Temptation presented to youth and innocence by an evil spirit, while a good genius warns them to beware. In this drawing, the figures of the boy and girl, but more particularly of the latter, appeared to me of the most consummate and touching beauty. 7th. His wife walking on a windy day: a number of little sylphs are agitating her drapery, lifting the tresses of her hair, playing with her sash; while another party have flown off with her hat, and are bearing it away in triumph.
After spending three or four hours delightfully, we drove home in silence by the gleaming, murmuring river, and beneath the light of the silent stars. On a subsequent visit, Retzsch showed me many more of these delicious phantasie, or fancies, as he termed them,-or more truly, little pieces of moral and lyrical poetry, thrown into palpable form, speaking in the universal language of the eye, to the universal heart of
I remember, in particular, one of striking, and even of appalling interest. The Genius of Humanity and the Spirit of Evil are playing at chess for the souls of men: the Genius of
Humanity has lost to his infernal adversary some of his principal pieces,-love, humility, innocence, and lastly, peace of mind;—but he still retains faith, truth, and fortitude; and is sitting in a contemplative attitude, considering his next move; his adversary, who opposes him with pride, avarice, irreligion, luxury, and a host of evil passions, looks at him with a Mephistophiles' expression, anticipating his devilish triumph. The pawns on the one side are prayers on the other, doubts. A little behind stands the Angel of conscience as arbitrator. In this most exquisite allegory, so beautifully, so clearly conveyed to the heart, there lurked a deeper moral than in many a sermon.
There was another beautiful little allegory of Love in the character of a Picklock, opening, or trying to open, a variety of albums, lettered, the “Human Heart, No. 1; Human Heart, No. 2;" while Philosophy lights him with her lanthorn. There were besides many other designs of equal poetry, beauty, and moral interest I think, a whole portfolio full of them.
I endeavoured to persuade Retzsch that he
could not do better than publish some of these exquisite Fancies, and when I left him he entertained the idea of doing so at some future period. To adopt his own language, the Genius of Art could not present to the Genius of Humanity a more delightful and a more profitable gift.*
The following list of German painters comprehends those only whose works I had an opportunity of considering, and who appeared to me to possess decided merit. I might easily have extended this catalogue to thrice its length, had I included all those whose names were given to me as being distinguished and celebrated among their own countrymen. From Munich alone I brought a list of two hundred artists, and from other parts of Germany nearly as many more. But in confining myself to those whose productions I saw, I adhere to a principle which, after all, seems to be the best-viz. never to speak but of what we know; and then only of the individual
* Since this was written, in November 1833, Retzsch has sent over to England a series of these Fancies for publication, and his own engraving of the “ Chess players” has since become celebrated both in Europe and America.