Furlough in Rome

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TheFrench came out later in a parade reminiscent of some I've seenin Paris, with turbaned troops and all (only their uniforms, exceptfor headgear, are always American)-we took a picture or two ofthem. Next, we went to the Sapienza and got into the courtyard andlooked at St. Ivo; unfortunately, the inside was closed, you can seeit only on days when mass is held for the laureates. But we lookedat the fa;ade for quite a while, and after this visit to Rome I haveeven more respect for Borromini than I had by studying him formerly.From there we went to S. Agnese in Piazza Navona, and had agood look at the Four Rivers Fountain too, which really is a prettydaring tour de force on old Bernini's part. The veil of the Nile isquite something. All in all this visit to Rome has increased myrespect for the technical courage and perfection of the Baroquemasters if for nothing else in their work.


http://www.jstor.orgFurlough in RomeAuthor(s): Heinz H. ThannhauserSource: College Art Journal, Vol. 4, No. 2, (Jan., 1945), pp. 92-95Published by: College Art AssociationStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/772445Accessed: 24/05/2008 18:11Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available athttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained athttp://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=caa.Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 to build trusted digital archives for scholarship. We enable thescholarly community to preserve their work and the materials they rely upon, and to build a common research platform thatpromotes the discovery and use of these resources. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.FURLOUGHINROME BYHEINZ H.THANNHAUSER' T HAT morning wewenttoS. Luigi dei Francesi, tolookatthe Caravaggiopictures; buttherewasa big massandcelebration there by French troops ofthe 5thArmy, so wedidn'tseethem.The Frenchcameoutlaterina parade reminiscentofsomeI'veseen in Paris, withturbaned troops andall (only their uniforms, except for headgear, are alwaysAmerican)-we tooka picture ortwoof them. Next, we wenttothe Sapienza and got intothe courtyard and lookedatSt. Ivo; unfortunately, theinsidewas closed, you cansee it only on days whenmass isheldforthelaureates.Butwelooked atthe fa;ade for quite a while, andafterthisvisittoRomeIhave evenmore respect forBorrominithanIhad bystudying himfor- merly. From there we wentto S. Agnese inPiazza Navona, and had a good lookattheFourRiversFountain too, which really isa pretty daring tourde force onoldBernini's part. TheveiloftheNileis quitesomething. AllinallthisvisittoRomehasincreased my respect forthetechnical courage and perfection ofthe Baroque masters if for nothing else intheir work. Next, S. Andrea della Valle, which quiteapart fromits design was amazing as being thefirst example of Baroquecupola and ceiling decorationI'dseen-the Lanfrancodomenot being,perhaps, as terrific as some of them, but quite anintroductionlThenthePalazzo Farnese, whichisnowa French headquartersbuilding. After asking someSudanese guards for directions, we groped our wayup and finally a maidshowedus into the Galleria, whichwas justbeing cleaned up-what athrilll Alotof super-moderns despise theCarracci as coldly academicand what-not, butwhen you seeanensemblelike this, whichso per- fectly fulfillsits purpose,your hat goes offtothem.Thefreshness ofthecoloris amazing, andboththe figures andtheentirecom- position are puredelight.Especially asalittlebreatheraftertoo many visitstothedarkandserious churches-although Iunder- standthefracascaused by cardinals havingsexythings likethat painted intheirhomelTheotherroomswere astounding too, with thewoodwork ceilings, etc.Ineed hardlysay how impressed Iwas 1 Excerpts fromaletterwrittentohis parentsduring thesummerof 1944 after a visittoRome. 92 withthe faCade: in Rome,however, youget so, thatthe onlything you noticeisafacadethatisnot perfect, the perfect ones being so commonl Next, S.Mariain Vallicella, withanotherterrific ceiling, andtheRubens altarpiece withthe angelsholdingup the picture ofthe Virgin thatthe gambler is saidtohavestonedwhenitwas at S.Mariadella Pace, whereupon realbloodcamefromit. *** Thenext day we wentto Santa Susanna and thento S. Maria della Vittoria,but unfortunately theBernini Ecstacy of St.Theresahas beenwalledinfor protection, likeso many other things. The figures ofthe onlooking Cornaro family inthetwosideboxesarestill visible, though. Thenwewent up toseeS.Carloalle Quattro Fontane, whichis just aboutthemost amazing ofBorromini'stours de force. Wecouldn't get intothecloisterbutwelookedfor quite a long timeat the amazing amountofmovementandundulation he got intososmalla faCade atsuchanarrowcorner.Wetriedto take pictures ofitbutwillhaveto splice two together, there wasn't enoughbacking room. *** Fromthereitwas just a little way toSta. Maria Maggiore, which Ihad especially wantedto see, afterthat unendingpaper Iwrote forKoehleronthemosaicsthere.Iwas afraid they'd probably have themwalled up likemostofthe apsidial mosaicsin Rome, butlo and behold, they wereallthereintheirfullfreshnesslItwasone ofthemostterrific artistic impressions I got onour stay inRome. Ihadnot expectedanything likethe strength ofcolorthatremains justgleaming outat you,-especiallyso, of course, inthecaseof theTorritiworkbut amazinglybright toowiththeoldmosaics. Wewalkedroundthewholechurch looking atthemall:thewalls of Jerichofalling down, God'shand throwing stonesdownonthe enemy, Lot'swife turning to salt, the passage overtheRed Sea, etc.I really was happy wehadbeenableto get intoSta.Maria Maggiore. *** Wehad planned to go back viathe Thermaeof Trajan, butit got toolatefor that, andatS. Pietroin Vincoli, weheardthatMichel- angelo's Moseswasallcovered up, sowedidn'tbother. Instead, we dropped intoSan Clemente, whereso manygreatpainters have worshipped inMasaccio's chapel. Father McSweeney(it's achurch 93 given totheIrishin Rome), whotookus around,remarked, "He was quite a big noiseinthose days, as you would sayl" First Iasked himinItalianhowto get tothesubterranean church, andhean- sweredinItalianandthensaid"Yedon't speak much English, do ye?" whichwas veryfunny. He proved tobean unusually in- terestingperson, withthemostintimate knowledge ofart history and styles and so forth as wellas allmatters pertaining to hischurch anda lively interestinthe war, discussingbombing formationsand everything else.Heis completely inlovewithRomeandsaid there was no place likeitto live in, andthat he hoped after the war wewouldallthreecometo stay andlivetherelThe mosaics, as usual, werecovered over, butwehad plenty oftimeto study all thedetailsoftheMasaccioandMasolino works, andthenwent downtotheoldchurch below, withtheMithraicstatueandthe other amazingthings. HeshoweduswherethehouseofClemens was, and pointed outtheusualanecdoticdetailsoftheCicerone withan ever so slight but delightful noteofamusementinhis voice, placing themwhere theybelong: for instance, withthe Aqua Mysteriosa, "because nobody knowswhereitcomesfrom"he said, asifhemeantto say, "and why should anybodygive a damn, either?" Allin all, onaccountoftheMasolino chapel, thechurch itself, thesubterranean part withits amazingfragments of early painting, andlastbutnotleastFather McSweeney's delightful and enlightened manner, thiswasoneofourmostmemorablevisitsin Rome. *** Wehailedahorse carriage andwent straight toSt.Peter's.As Pauland Ihad already studiedit prettythoroughly thetime before, we justglanced into give ourfriendalookat it, andthenwent straight totheSistine Chapel. Well, there just aren't any wordsto tellhow overwhelming itwas. HereI'd writtena paper, Godknows how long, aboutthe Prophets and Sibyls andtheinterrelationof figures onthe ceiling, butI hadn'tknowna damned thing aboutthe ceiling. Itisso unbelievablypowerful that you can't sayanything. I keptlooking,irresistibly, atthe Jonah, which epitomizes tome thewholeof Michelangelo's lifeandtorture,and really is, inthe last analysis, theculminationandcornerstonetothewhole ceiling. Whata piece of painting-what a piece of poetry, or philosophy, or emotional outburst, awhole ageexpressed inonemovementofa body! The way inwhich everythingincluding the Prophets and 94 Sibyls andAtlantesbuilds up fromthe relativelyquietfigures in the chronologically later pieces(Biblicallyspeaking) tothestorm that sweeps through the early Genesis scenes andthe figures around them, is inexpressible in words, RomainRolland'sor anyone's. As forsheer perfection of painting, theCreation of Adam just can't be beat. And say what you will, no photographs, detail enlargements ofthemostskillful kind, canever dowhatthe things themselves do to you,especially inthe contextfrom which you can't separate them. TheLast Judgment isalmostananticlimax against it; andasfor the Ghirlandaios,etc., you just can't getyourself to lookatthembe- cause somethingimmediatelypullsyoureyeuphighagain. And whenhasthereeverbeenamantodosomuchto your senseof formwithsuchmodestandrestraineduseofcolor?You begin to wonder why Rubenseverneededallthatrichnesswhena guy like thiscan sweepyou off your feetwith just afewtintsofroseand light blueand yellow-but wherethetintsare put, oh boy! Well, it'sallwritten up inallthe books, butI just haveto put down whatitdidtome. MediterraneanTheatre


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