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Europe and America Criss-Crossing Perspectives, 1788-1848

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Jacques Portes

Deuxième partie. Europe Viewing America

II.3. "Bright, Peerless Italy": The Meaning of Italy for Washington Allston and his Art

Gabriella Micks

Texte intégral

  • 1 E. L. Griggs, ed., Unpublished letters of S. T. Coleridge. 2 vols. New Haven, 1933, II, 305-6.
  • 2 Cf., e.g., E. P. Richardson, W. Allston. A Study of the Romantic Artist in America, Chicago, 1948, (...)
  • 3 Cf. Percy Mackaye, Epoch, 2 vols. New York, 1927, I, 166, 168-75.

1Washington Allston is a unique figure in nineteenth-century American culture: admired both as painter and writer, he was an inspiration and an example for the generation active in the 1830’s, who shared S. T. Coleridge’s estimate of him as a man "of high and rare genius... whether I contemplate him in the character of a Poet, a Painter, or a philosophic Analyst"1. He established himself on both sides of the Atlantic as a painter of unquestionable talent--indeed, his countrymen considered him as the greatest painter as yet produced by America, an evaluation which modern criticism confirms2; the last great man of the Renaissance, the "American Titian". Moreover, his poems were very favourably received and his Gothic romance Monaldi had some success and was later adapted for the stage3: his Lectures on Art (published posthumously in 1850) has the distinction of being the first systematic American treatise on art, and contains much that is of interest.

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  • 4 R. L. Ruske, ed., Letters of R. W. Emerson. 6 vols. New York, 1939, III, 182.

2 Allston’s influence was much greater upon American intellectual life outside his own profession. He made his impression both by the quality of his achievement and the quality of his life: to his countrymen, he appeared as the one American artist who could bridge the gulf between the Old World and the New by grafting the lesson of Europe and the past to strong American roots. To Emerson and many others, Allston was "the solitary link... between America and Italy"4. An exploration of the significance of Italy for Allston’s thought and art, in view of this emblematic quality of his figure to his contemporaries, seems therefore relevant to a better understanding of his oeuvre and of American Romantic art.

  • 5 Th. Jefferson, Writings, 17 vols. Washington 1904, XVII, 292.
  • 6 W. Allston, Lectures on Art. 1850, in Lectures on Art and Poems, and Monaldi. ed. N. Wright, Gaines (...)

3A sense of widening horizons, the assertion of culture as a universal inheritance, and the interest in the past characterized the early nineteenth century in America, powerfully contributing to the rise of a spirit of cosmopolitanism. The attraction toward Europe was getting stronger and stronger, and though of course it had been felt in America since colonial times, there was now, at the turn of the eighteenth century, a significant shift in perspective. Thus in 1788, for instance. Th. Jefferson thought that American travellers to Europe should study useful things like architecture and agriculture during their visit, while painting and sculpture were "too expensive for the state of wealth among us. It would be useless, therefore, and preposterous, to make ourselves connoisseurs in these arts. They are worth seeing but not studying"5. In 1800, however, as cultural interests and ambitions gathered strength among American intellectuals, they began to wonder, as Allston put it, "whether a simple flower may not be sometimes of higher value than a labor-saving machine"6, and to put aesthetic values above utilitarian ones. They also felt that, far from its being "useless and preposterous", it was indeed essential for them to make themselves "connoisseurs in these arts", which more than others suffered and were starved by America’s being cut off from the rich cultural inheritance of the past that made the flourishing of the arts possible in the Old World.

4Though artists felt this deprivation most acutely, of course also writers now (and later) painfully felt and denounced with varying degree of vigour this state of things, notably Henry James when, enlarging on Hawthorne’s famous denounciat ion, he listed in an equally famous passage, in great and sometimes gently mocking detail all the deprivations that crippled American writers, artists and intellectuals in general:

  • 7 H. James, "Hawthorne", 1879, in The Shock of Recognition, ed. E. Wilson, New York, 1955, p. 503.

No sovereign, no court, no personal loyalty, no aristocracy, no church, no clergy, no army, no diplomatic service, no country gentlemen, no palaces, no castles, nor no cathedrals, nor abbeys, nor little Norman churches; no great Universities, nor public schools--no Oxford, nor Eaton, nor Harrow; no literature, no novels, no museums, no pictures, no political society, no sporting class--no Epsom nor Ascot!7

5James himself shortly after partially undercuts the "somewhat lurid light of this indictment", which refers to the first decades of the nineteenth century; the lack of the various factors he listed as making for a stimulating environment without which art cannot be created and live, was however real enough, and an attitude of Sehnsucht towards Europe and its cultural and artistic riches, together with the determination to repossess themselves of their rightful inheritance by laying claim to their European past, became increasingly typical of most early nineteenth-century American artists and writers. The absence of cathedrals and ruins, embodying the great memories of past generations, of museums, pictures and statues was naturally more painfully felt by artists, who moreover felt their position was made more difficult by the lack of art schools and by the scarce recognition that painting as a profession as yet received in the United States, where it was hardly established.

  • 8 Cf. letter by B. West to Canova, quoted in P. R. Baker, The Fortunate Pilgrims. Americans in Italy. (...)

6Europe and especially Italy, on the other hand, offered the kind of aesthetic and intellectual experience that was not available in the United States and that was felt to be necessary if the ambition to establish a national art and literature was to be fulfilled. Italy was the mecca of American artists till after 1850, since it was seen as the place where the ideal world of art and beauty could be best appreciated: to Allston as to Benjamin West, it was the country which most fully and most perfectly embodied the greatest achievements in the Western tradition of the fine arts8

*

  • 9 W. Dunlap, A History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United States. 1834, 2 v (...)

7 Washington Allston was born in 1779 in South Carolina, where he early absorbed a love for "the wild and marvellous"9, the mysterious and the tragic; in his youth he was a great reader of tales of banditti and supernatural beings, while Gothic romances, especially Mrs Radcliffe’s, were always among his favourite readings. He knew he wanted to be a painter even before he went to Harvard, and after graduating in 1800 he decided to go to Europe to learn his craft and study the Old Masters. Accordingly, he reached London in 1801 and attended the school of the Royal Academy for three years, while he also became acquainted with various painters, notably West and Fuseli, and patrons.

  • 10 Cf. Lectures on Art, pp. 58-9.

8In 1804 he started for Italy by way of France, where he visited the Louvre and saw Titian, Veronese and Tintoretto, and Switzerland. The Alps struck him with their grandeur and sublimity, and in the Lectures Allston described Mount Blanc, "that mighty pyramid of ice", as a supreme example of the sublime10. The journey through the Alps was one of Allston’s great experiences in Europe, which like his sojourn in Italy greatly influenced his perception of nature, and many years later he recalled a glorious sunrise he had seen at the Lago Maggiore as an unforgettable, deeply moving revelation;

  • 11 "To the Author of ’The Diary of an Ennuyée’" in Lectures... and Poems, iii, p. 378.

... entranced, I saw the mountain kings,
The giant Alps, from their dark purple beds
Rise ere the sun, the while their crowned heads
Flashed with its one thousand heralds’ golden wings11.

  • 12 Monaldi, in Lectures..., pp. 102-120. Written in 1822, Monaldi was published only in 1841.
  • 13 Cf. Ibid., pp. 210-11.

9On his way to Rome, he stopped for some time at Siena in order to learn a little Italian, and then he proceeded to Rome, probably by the more picturesque--if more dangerous-route of Radicofani, through impervious and lonely mountains where banditti were not infrequent: a "wild, barren country", where Allston will set a fateful night encounter in one of the most Gothic episodes of his Monaldi12. He reached the city in November 1804, and spent there most of his four years in Italy, though he also visited Florence where he greatly admired Michelangelo’s Medici tombs, and is thought to have painted "The Casket Scene"; on the evidence of a sonnet entitled "On Seeing the Picture of Aeolus by Pellegrino Tibaldi, in the Institute at Bologna", and of a descriptive passage in Monaldi13, it would seem he also visited Bologna and the bay of Naples. His biographer, J. B. Flagg, reports Allston also saw Venice, but there in no evidence to support his statement.

  • 14 Lectures, p. 100.
  • 15 G. S. Hillard, Six Months in Italy. Boston, 1854, p. 560.
  • 16 Monaldi, p. 65.
  • 17 – Ibid., p. 211.
  • 18 Ibid., p. 65.

10Rome fascinated Allston: the "shock of recognition" he experienced when exposed to the beauty and sublimity of its natural scenery, the splendour of antiquity and of Renaissance painting, may be described in the words he used for his first impression of the Apollo del Belvedere; "A sudden intellectual flash, filling the whole mind with light"14. Here he discovered, or rather rediscovered what he had first explored in his imagination: a past at once legendary and authentic, the world of history, the dream of classical antiquity fostered by his study of the classics and most powerfully embodied in the vision of Rome which “at school and at college... broods over the mind with a power which is never suspended or disputed"15. The city gave Allston an expanded sense of time: he became aware of the vital continuity between past and present as he contemplated, "with mute awe and reverence", the "objects of grandeur and sublimity" that surrounded him everywhere. The Forum and the Coliseum seemed to him to have found "a tongue in the elements, and become oracular to man’s heart, ..– speaking from without in the gorgeous language of the sun"16. In the "delicious atmosphere only known to the South", where it is as if "the very ground and air were exulting in life"17, the language of art and the language of nature become one, as the great monuments of antiquity speak to the heart, revealing the invisible web of correspondences that underlies the universe: "... There is a chain that runs through all things. How else should the mind hear the echo of its workings from voiceless rocks? Mysterious union! That our very lives should seem but so many reflections from the face of nature; and all about us but visible types of the invisible man!"18

  • 19 Cf. W. Irving, "W. Allston", in Spanish Papers. Biographies and Miscellanies. 2 vols. New York, 186 (...)

11Allston’s first period in Rome and his reactions to the city and its art treasures have been described by Washington Irving, who spent some weeks with him there in the spring of 1805: he points out the young painter’s sensitivity to beauty, his discriminating taste, his deep emotion and reverence before the rich and varied spectacle before his eyes. The well-studied works of the Old Masters, when seen in person, were inexpressibly thrilling and moving, and Allston was filled with reverent admiration for the "stupendous pile" of St Peter’s and other sublime works by Michelangelo. Irving stresses the "sentiment of veneration" and the concentration displayed by his friend, as well as the "enthusiasm of an artist" constantly animating him as he pointed out the beauties of the Roman scene during their "delightful rambles" about the city and its environs19. The calm beauty of the city and the Campagna, with their stillness, silence and timeless quality, their subtle colours and light effects gave Allston a sense of the past and the timeless, and sharpened his awareness of the symbolic potential of landscape.

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  • 20 Ibid., p. 150.
  • 21 Dunlap, p. 187.

12Allston’s life in Rome appealed so strongly to Irving, that he formed the short-lived project of joining him and becoming a painter himself: the young painter resided "among these delightful scenes, surrounded by masterpieces of art, by classic and historic monuments, by men of congenial minds and tastes, engaged like him in the study of the sublime and the beautiful"20. Allston had met other artists, both Italian and foreign, who gathered at the Caffé Greco and had welcomed the newcomer, and he had certainly profited from their stimulating company and talk. His most important encounter in Rome was however with a poet, S. T. Coleridge, who was to become his lifelong friend and was, according to Allston himself, the most powerful and decisive single influence on his intellectual development. Many years later, he told Dunlap: "To no other man whom I have known, do I owe so much intellectually, as to Mr Coleridge, with whom I became acquainted in Rome and who has honored me with his friendship for more than five and twenty years"21.

  • 22 Quoted by Richardson, p. 74, n 9.
  • 23 Cf. A. Grant, A Preface to Coleridge. London 1977 2, p. 177.
  • 24 Quoted in Richardson, p. 75.
  • 25 Cf. Grant, p. 179.
  • 26 Cf. Richardson, p. 78. Ten years later, while in England, Allston painted another portrait, now in (...)
  • 27 Quoted in Grant, p. 177.

13Coleridge reached Rome on 31 December 1805 and quite early in 1806 he became acquainted with Allston: years later, he wrote "I am conscious I look with a stronger and more pleasurable emotion at Mr Allston’s large landscape ["Diana with her Nymphs in the Chase", 1805 circa]... from its having been the occasion of my first acquaintance with him in Rome"22. The encounter was not only, perhaps, the most important event in Allston’s Italian sojourn, but also a memorable feature of Coleridge’s journey through Italy23. Allston attracted his interest, esteem and affection-the poet wrote to him that, had he known the Wordsworths, "I should have loved and esteemed you first and most. and as it is, next to them I love and honour you"24–-for his personal qualities, his keen, receptive mind, and his attitude to art, reflected in the mysterious, deeply suggestive character of his painting. His notebook of the journey recorded analyses of the art of Rome and of paintings by Allston25, who painted a portrait of the poet (unfinished owing to Coleridge’s hurried departure) remarkable for its luminosity and vivid quality26. Coleridge especially admired "Diana with her Nymphs in the Chase" with its magical atmosphere of mystery and wonder and its sublime elements: he saw it as an example of "exquisitely picturesque effects", analysed it at length in its notebook, and again praised the picture, "of which it is not too much to say--quam qui non amat, illum omnes et Musae et Veneres odere"27, in a series of "Essays on the Fine Arts", published in a journal on the occasion of an exhibition held at Bristol by Allston in 1814.

  • 28 Dunlap, p. 187.
  • 29 Cf. Richardson, p. 83.

14Following their first meeting, the two young men explored the city and the Campagna together- Coleridge’s company and conversation made every sight, every ruin and monument more exciting and alive; Allston later said that Rome could never be for him the "silent city", as Coleridge called it, while they were together, as "the fountain of his mind was never dry, and... its living streams seemed specially to flow for every classic ruin over which we wandered"28. The magic of Coleridge’s extraordinary eloquence made the past live again for Allston: it became for him as real as the present while he discovered not only the grandeur of antiquity, but also the timeless. This was one of his most important imaginative experiences in Rome29, where under Coleridge’s guidance his notions of the potentialities of the imagination gradually expanded.

15The long walks the two friends took in the Villa Borghese and the three weeks they spent at Olevano in the Sabine Hills, where Allston had rented a house, gave them an opportunity to contemplate and commune with nature: in the enthusiastic description left by Coleridge of the magnificent mountain scenery at Olevano, which he examines minutely stressing all its picturesque and sublime elements, we may see a faithful record of the response, full of emotion, which the Italian scenery evoked in the two friends.

  • 30 Cf. Dunlap, p. 187.
  • 31 "On the Late S. T. Coleridge", in Lectures..., p. 346.
  • 32 Cf. Grant, p. 88.

16When recalling, years later, those unforgettable walks with Coleridge under the pines of Villa Borghese, Allston said he was tempted to dream he had once listened to Plato in the groves of the Academy30. This is not only a tribute to the poet’s well-known conversational powers, but also an indication as to the nature of these talks, which certainly dealt with metaphysics. The two friends contemplated and attempted to investigate "that unfathomable deep, The Human Soul", as Allston will say in his sonnet "On the Late S. T. Coleridge", adding that his friend’s "Living Truths" will abide with him forever31. Coleridge’s metaphysical concerns, powerfully stimulated by his study of the German Idealists and especially of Kant and Schelling, led him to attempt the construction of a philosophical system of his own. He thus used Kantian terminology and ideas to his own purposes: Kant’s reexamination of the creative interchange between self and world was particulary important to him, as he aimed at constructing a dynamic philosophy of the mind that took account of man’s creativity and moral freedom, his experience and existence as the creation of a personal God32, while Schelling’s views of Nature and art had notable consequences also for his aesthetic theories. Coleridge’s thought deeply impressed the young painter and coloured his vision of reality, while giving him sound philosophical bases and introducing him to Kant and Schelling, whose influence may be clearly seen in Allston’s writings. The poet moreover encouraged Allston to see his mission as an artist as the discovery and communication of the truths of the human soul, and it is also to be remembered that when Allston joined the Episcopalian Church in 1815, he was following Coleridge’s example.

  • 33 Cf. Ibid., p. 179.
  • 34 B. J. Wolf, Romantic Re-vision. Chicago and London, 1982, p. 23.
  • 35 Quoted in G. T. Hughes, Romantic German Literature, London, 1979, p. 114.
  • 36 Lectures. p. 69.

17Art, both ancient and modern, was of course a constant topic of conversation: with Allston, Coleridge undertook an exploration of pictorial aesthetics, recorded in his notebook, and it has been suggested that he derived some of his ideas on the subject of the aesthetics of painting from his friend33. Coleridge was intent on revealing a world of landscape in poetry which he associated in his mind with the limitless horizons of some contemporary painters. Among these, true to his metaphysical insights, he chose as his counterpart in painting the "sublime" and pantheistic German Romantic artist, C. D. Friederich. In view of Coleridge’s association with Allston and of his appreciation for his art, it is interesting to note that there are some important affinities between the two painters, whose technique expresses their perception of creation as a visionary activity: "Sight has become in-sight, a continual introspective enquiry into the mind’s own powers and limitations"34. Friedrich’s dictum-–"The painter should not just paint what he sees before him, but also what he sees within himself"35–-is also Allston’s: for both artists, it is the self that moulds the world of senses, and indeed for Allston the "continuous chain of creation" is but the reflection of the self, as he affirms in a passage of the Lectures strongly reminiscent of Kant, Fichte and Schelling, almost certainly mediated by Coleridge: "The Soul of Man is the conscious Reality, to which this stupendous circle [the chain of creation] is but the symbol"36.

  • 37 Novalis, quoted in Hughes, p. 66.
  • 38 Cf. S. T. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, ed. G. Watson, London, 1967, p. 167.
  • 39 Ibid., pp. 168-9.

18At the same time, for the German Romantics the artist is he who restores to the world its pristine purity and significance by "romanticizing" it, that is by giving "a higher meaning to the everyday, a mysterious aspect to the ordinary, the dignity of the unfamiliar to the familiar, the appearance of infinity to the finite"37. This reads like a description of Wordworth’s aims in the Lyrical Ballads as described by Coleridge, as well as of Allston’s practice in his painting, especially in the various Italian landscapes and pictures like "Beatrice", "Rosalie" and "Moonlight Landscape", where the atmosphere of reverie projects the scene and the sitters into a timeless, magic dimension full of mysterious suggestiveness. Allston, like his painter Monaldi in his Italian romance, "delighted to shut out the external world, to combine and give other life to the images it had left in his memory". This description of the artistic process is very close to Coleridge’s definition of the workings of the secondary imagination, which deliberately recombines the disparates of experience in order to create new forms out of them38. In a famous passage of the Biographia Literaria, Coleridge describes the kind of poetry he wanted to create, dealing with characters "supernatural, or at least romantic, yet so to transfer from our inward nature to these shadows of the imagination a human interest and a semblance of truth"39. Again, this is precisely what Allston was aiming at when choosing his subjects from Mrs Radcliffe, Schiller, Spenser, Shakespeare, classical myth or the Bible.

  • 40 Quoted in Grant, p. 72.
  • 41 Griggs, II, 152.

19Friederich’s use of typical Romantic symbols such as moon, clouds, and mountains, as well as his luminosity and sense of magic wonder, of a release from time, all recur in Allston’s painting, and in both artists Coleridge--who declared "I never regarded my senses as the criteria of my belief"40–-could find a release from the "tyranny of the eye", that is from a literalness of vision that can only result in an unimaginative depiction of phenomenal reality lacking those suggestive overtones that express an awareness of a higher metaphysical reality beyond appearance. Coleridge praised Allston as the only contemporary artist to whom it seemed given to know that nature is not "the dead shapes, the outward Letter but the life of Nature revealing itself to the Phenomenon, or rather attempting to reveal itself"41.

  • 42 Monaldi, p. 23.

20There can be no doubt that such knowledge had come to Allston mainly through the mediation of Coleridge during the weeks they spent together in Rome; though they met again in England nine years later, the poet’s influence on him was stronger and more deeply felt in Allston’s formative period. Coleridge initiated the young painter to German Idealist philosophy and to some crucial Romantic theories, while encouraging him to value spiritual and expressive aspects of art. Allston assimilated and made his own the philosophical ideas which he felt Coleridge had first made available to him and which, though most evident in the Lectures on Art, are an essential element of his artistic personality. His meditative, imaginative nature was well suited to absorb Idealist interpretations of the world, of nature and of art, for--as he had come to realise while in Italy, he was "as one who could sleep to the real, and be awake only to a world of shadows"42.

*

  • 43 Cf. Lectures, p. 31.
  • 44 Lectures, p. 158; J -B• Flagg, W. Allston. Life and Letters, New York, 1882, p. 319.
  • 45 Lectures, pp. 157, 158.

21If an artist is fortunate enough to have been born in Italy, according to Allston, he need go nowhere else to realise his Idea, while many foreigners have sought in Italy--where even "the human form is of a finer mould"–-what they could not find in their own country43. Rome was the "great University of Art", where the great masters of the past lived in their imperishable works everywhere to be seen and taught the "vernacular tongue of genius through all time": as Allston said many years later, the "glowing works of art" everywhere surrounding him in Rome had "breathed new lilfe" into him44 and to him Rome was always the place where he felt he had been born again to a new, spiritual life which would nourish both his heart and his mind. As he said of Claude Lorrain, whom he greatly admired, Allston’s own intellectual and artistic education had been achieved in Rome mainly "by human sympathy, acting through human works, which gave birth to his intellect". Once his mind had thus been awakened, he could master "new forms of language" to express his new vision of the world and of Nature "in all her beauty, her majesty, her grandeur and sublimity"45.

  • 46 Cf- "Sonnet on the Group of the Three Angels before the Tent of Abraham, by Raffaelle, in the Vatic (...)

22Allston painted fifteen pictures while in Italy, and often returned to Italian subjects once back in America, frequently referring to the drawings he had made in Rome. "Diana with her Nymphs in the Chase" and the first "Italian Landscape" (1805 circa) already show most of the elements with which Allston’s imagination will always work: silence, light, wonder, mystery and loveliness. The quality of Italian light in all its subtle modulations--sunrise, midday, twilight, sunset, moonlight--impressed itself indelibly on Allston’s imagination, which transmuted it into the rich yet delicate luminosity of his pictures. His light is always "luce di dentro", as he said of Titian’s; it has that dreamlike quality of an inner experience magically transferred by the artist on his canvas, where it comes to life through the "poetry of colour", so characteristic of Allston’s art, which he said he had learned from Titian. In his Italian landscapes Allston distils his memories of the beauty and serenity of the Italian natural scene and of the classical past, imaginatively rearranging and transforming reality-as-perceived to suggest a landscape of the mind and the artist’s insight into the Idea: referentiality is reduced to a dream, and the Roman Campagna is arrested in a timeless myth as Allston aims at achieving "the essences combined/Of Motion ceaseless, Unity complete" he had found in Raphael46.

  • 47 Monaldi, p. 139.
  • 48 Cf. "To the Author...", iii, p- 378; Monaldi. pp. 64-5, 138-9, 208-9, 7.

23The Italian scenery was to Allston "never to be forgotten by a painter", and its intense, suggestive beauty was "not to be painted with words"47: yet, in some poems and in Monaldi he did paint it in words as his memorable descriptions of the mountains at sunrise at the Lago Maggiore, of high noon and sunset in Rome, late afternoon at the bay of Naples or twilight in the mountains of Abruzzo48 have the same evocative, visually realised power of his landscapes. We find the same quiet intensity, skilful use of colours, of chiaroscuro and of the harmony of lines and masses, and also on the page the artist’s chief expressive medium is light. The stillness and silence of Rome with its nearly empty streets and squares under the glowing sun greatly impressed Allston, who recaptured this elusive quality on his canvas and in one of the most effective passages of description in his romance, a view of the Forum at high noon seen through a window that frames the scene as if it were a picture.

  • 49 Monaldi, p. 64.

The air was hot and close, and there was a thin yellow haze over the distance like that which precedes the scirocco, but the nearer objects were clear and distinct, and so bright that the eye could hardly rest on them without quivering, especially on the modern buildings, with their huge sweep of whited walls, and their red tiled roofs, that lay burning in the sun, while the sharp, black shadows, which here and there seemed to indent the dazzling masses, might almost have been fancied the cinder-tracks of his fire. The streets of Rome, at no time very noisy, are for nothing more remarkable than... for their noontide stillness.... It was now high noon; not a vestige of life was to be seen, not a bird on the wing, and so deep was the stillness that a solitary foot-fall might have filled the whole air49.

  • 50 Cf. Lectures, p. 16. Unlike T. S. Eliot, for whom the "objective correlative" is a literary device (...)
  • 51 Richardson, pp. 172, 173; V. Wyck Brooks, The Flowering of New England (1937), New York, 1952, p. 1 (...)

24The centrality of the inner life, which finds in the picturesque beauty, the stillness and repose, the bright transparency of the light of Italy its "objective correlative" necessary for its manifestation50, is one of the major themes of Allston’s romance, which also clearly reflects his awareness that in Italy he had discovered how to transmute his experiences into art. Thus when he wrote Monaldi (1822), Allston’s choice of the locale was not dictated by Gothic conventions or the current fashion for "italianate" novels; rather, his personal experiences in Italy as a young American artist in search of the past and self-identity, had convinced him that only Italy and Rome could be the appropriate setting for his parable, into which he projected so much of himself and of his ideas on the nature of art and on the mission of the artist in his own times. The romance is therefore crucial to an understanding of the role played by Italy in Allston’s artistic and intellectual development, and should not be dismissed as "the writing of a gifted amateur", "full of Italian souvenirs", of no value to us51, since like some of the poems, especially those on artists and art works, it sheds light on a complex but remarkably consistent artistic personality.

*

  • 52 Cf. N. Wright, American Novelists in Italy. Philadelphia, 1965, ch. 1 and 2.

25Aside from the considerable interest Monaldi has for us as a projection of Allston’s views and feelings about Nature and the past, of his insistent self-questioning about the nature and function of art, and of the significance of his Italian experience, in my opinion the romance as a work of fiction has more merit than is usually conceded, and compares very favourably with the large nineteenth-century output of American novels with an Italian setting examined by N. Wright52. If Monaldi does not attain the thematic complexity, the subtlety of characterization and the symbolic density of Hawthorne’s The Marble’s Faun, unquestionably the best of this group, yet Allston’s handling of certain themes, motifs and narrative techniques that will reappear in Hawthorne’s romance is far from inept, and strongly encourages us to view Monaldi as a successful example of the kind of fiction that was to engage the writers of the "American Renaissance", especially from a thematic point of view. It must be furthermore pointed out, however, that the romance is not only interesting at a thematic level: the narrative structure, though obviously drawing on some Gothic patterns, is quite well organised and shows a certain degree of sophistication in the shifting of narrative points of view, in the control of the action that moves swiftly, though its psychological motivations and implications are fully developed, and in the characterization of the protagonists who constantly occupy the centre of the stage- One is in fact often reminded of drama, in which Allston had dabbled in London, while reading Monaldi, and not only because of the deliberate parallels with Othello. but also for the quality of the many dialogues, usually far more credible and natural that happens in most nineteenth-century American novels. As regards his characters, Allston is quite successful with his three men--Monaldi, Maldura and Fialto--and less so with his heroine, Rosalia Landi, who suffers like endless fictional heroines of the century, from an excessive idealisation. She retains, however, sufficient concreteness to save her from being the mere allegorical projection of stereotyped beauty, purity and virtue.

26 Allston’s fable of art has the form of a dark tale of envy, betrayal, deceit and revenge. The young, gifted, noble-minded painter Monaldi is tricked by his friend Maldura, jealous of his success in art and personal life, into believing his virtuous wife betrays him with the villainous Fialto, Maldura’s accomplice. Monaldi revenges himself by stabbing Rosalia and loses his reason, restored to him on his deathbed. While affording Allston an opportunity to indulge his taste for the mysterious and the tragic, this dramatic, Gothic plot is charged with symbolic reverberations that allow him to explore some of the themes that most deeply concerned him.

  • 53 V. Wyck Brooks, p. 171.
  • 54 N. Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables, ed. H. Levin, Columbus, Ohio, 1969, Preface, p. 1.

27 Monaldi, almost invariably dismissed as pastiche Gothic, an extravaganza full of "artists, bravos, convents, jealous husbands"53, is certainly written in the Gothic mode: the tone is set by the Introduction, which opens with the fearful adventure of an American traveller in the lonely mountains of Abruzzo at twilight. The whole episode is pure Mrs Radcliffe, whom Allston always greatly admired, and there are many more deliberate similarities between his romance and her work, such as the indirect presentation of the story, through the familiar device of the manuscript casually found by the narrator--found, moreover, in a convent; the atmosphere of suspense, fear and powerful emotion created in the Introduction and in some night scenes; the diabolical plot of Maldura and Fialto, who both have many traits of the Gothic villain; the virtuous heroine, yet another version of the "persecuted maiden"; and finally, Monaldi’s ruin and madness. Allston’s use of these Gothic motifs and devices is, however, part of his strategy to convey the deeper implications of his dramatic plot. Like Hawthorne, he is aware of the symbolic potential of such motifs and devices, which involve the reader at a deeper emotional and psychological level than other modes of narration which aim at "a very minute fidelity, not merely to the possible, but to the probable and ordinary course of man’s experience"54. Allston, like Hawthorne, rejects any form of documentary art, and exploits some Gothic devices to project his tale into an atmosphere remote from everyday reality: Monaldi is a "psychological romance", where some spiritual and metaphysical issues are explored through the mind and the inner experiences of an artist whose emblematic role is made clear from the start.

  • 55 Monaldi, p. 25.

28Though possessed of extraordinary genius, Monaldi is utterly devoid of pride or wordly ambition in his complete dedication to art: "I love my art for its own sake", he tells his ambitious, superficial friend Maldura, a failed poet. "Universally acknowledged to be the first painter in Italy", yet modest and unassuming (Allston was almost obsessive in his repeated denounciations of pride and ambition), Monaldi differs from his contemporaries "no less in kind than in degree. If he held anything in common with others, it was with those of ages past--with the mighty dead of the fifteenth century", from whom he has learned "the language of his art", while retaining a profound individuality of thought and expression. "His originality, therefore, was felt by all; and his country hailed him as one coming, in the spirit of Raffaelle, to revive by his genius her ancient glory"55. This passage is an explicit indication of the young painter’s function in the romance; Monaldi not only is the type of the Romantic artist in the modern world, but is also, clearly, a projection of Allston’s own aspirations and views on art. Here as elsewhere, whenever describing Monaldi’s artistic ideas and practice Allston is obviously speaking, through the thin fictional disguise, in his own voice, and in making of him the acknowledged heir of Rapahel, in touch with the living heritage of the past and yet profoundly original--hence, modern, he was defining both the role of the artist in modern times and his own role as he and his contemporaries in the Unites States saw it. As an American artist, Allston felt his mission was precisely to mediate, like his Monaldi, between the great masters of the Italian Renaissance, the rich heritage of the past which Europe and most of all Rome had made available to him, and the American present, as yet lacking a cultural identity of its own.

  • 56 Ibid., p. 19.

29In the course of the romance, only two of Monaldi’s pictures are described, both charged with a symbolic significance. The first is discovered by the anonymous American traveller, who appears in the "frame" of the tale, in a convent: it is "an extraordinary work", "gorgeous and terrible", recording "the visible struggle of a soul in the toils of sin"56. We will learn later that it had been painted by Monaldi, as yet not named, towards the end of his short life, while insane. Even before we know anything of the protagonist’s genius and early, "happy life" we are thus presented with a work born of the artist’s vision in anguish and madness, which embodies not the "pure Idea" but the awful fascination of evil. Thus the painting, with its mysterious suggestiveness and the potency of its malignant beauty, prefigures both Monaldi’s fate and one of the themes engaging Allston’s attention, the dark side of art.

  • 57 Ibid.. p. 29.
  • 58 Richardson is surely right when he rejects the familiar interpretation of Allston’s failure as a si (...)
  • 59 Monaldi, p. 29.
  • 60 Lectures, p. 79.
  • 61 Ibid., pp. 75-6.

30In the "manuscript" section of the romance, we are told that only one of Monaldi’s pictures will be described, as "our business is rather with the man than the painter"57: yet it is clear that the two are one, since an harmoniously integrated personality is an essential requisite in order to be a great artist, and when the pressure of events, as the plot unfolds, breaks this vital balance, disaster will swiftly ensue. The subject of Monaldi’s first great picture is one "best suited to exhibit that rare union of intense feeling and lofty imagination" that characterises him; it also quite accurately reflects Allston’s own interests and taste. Indeed, the fictional "First Sacrifice of Noah after the Subsiding of the Waters" could well figure in a catalogue of Allston’s own paintings: moreover its grandeur and power of form and expression, and most importantly its "infusion of human emotion in the surrounding elements", are what Allston aimed at achieving in his great historical pictures, most of all in his unfinished masterpiece "Belshazzar’s Feast". When writing Monaldi, of course, Allston was still hoping to finish the picture; as is well known, his failure to do so, in spite of his dogged, painful efforts till his death, was both a personal tragedy and a source of endless speculations by contemporaries and later critics58. Monaldi’s unqualified success with this picture is then yet another projection of Allston’s artistic aspirations, while his views are further stated through the persona of the Cavalier S-, "a philosopher and poet" who systematically analyses the painting and voices some of Allston’s ideas as to the requisites of a truly great picture, adding that "one essential" is to imbue the natural world with personal emotion- "This is the poetry of the art; the highest nature. There are hours when nature may be said to hold intercourse with man, modifying his thoughts and feelings; when man acts, and in his turn bends her to his will, whether by words or colours, he becomes a poet"59. Art, that is, is created when man has been granted a vision of "Nature’s subtile mystery", that "pure Idea" which lies beyond phenomenal appearance, and he has the power of assimilating "what is foreign, or external, to our own particular nature"60 by impressing his own unique, individual personality on the data supplied by the senses. These he selects and rearranges according to his personal, inner vision, thus achieving not mimetic fidelity to what he has seen, but "Human or Poetic Truth", which exists exclusively in and for the mind, and is distinguished from the truth of things in the natural or external world61.

  • 62 Monaldi, p. 19.
  • 63 Ibid., p. 29.
  • 64 Cf. the sonnet "Art", in Lectures..., p. 227.

31Ordinary man, trapped in the Actual, for whom as for Maldura "the world, palpable, visible, audible [is] his idol" and who lives "only in externals"62, sees "only with his eyes", relying, that is, entirely on his sense perceptions. To him, then, such imaginative recreations of a deeper spiritual reality as Monaldi’s picture will appear “unnatural"63, as he will not find in it a "faithful transcript" of nature-as-perceived: but the great artist, like Michelangelo (whose "wondrous power" is eloquently praised in the romance, as in other writings), gives birth "to forms unseen by man, unknown to Earth" which throug his mediation, as he brings to view the "invisible Idea", acquire more than ordinary reality and life64.

32As often stated in the sonnets on artists, and clearly though indirectly affirmed in the romance, for Allston great works of art such as Raphael’s and Michelangelo’s, "visible signs of the pure Idea" achieving by their sublimity the status of works of Nature, make available to those who contemplate them with the necessary reverence, the same epiphany experienced by the artists themselves, an intuitive, emotionally charged insight into the Noumenon, the spiritual reality that animates the universe and that, being itself the life-giving principle, alone can give man the god-like power to create. Thus the cognitive powers of art are in this sense superior to any other form of knowledge; the artist is he who deciphers the secret hieroglyphic language of Nature and rediscovers the original meaning of the world through what Novalis called "magischer Idealismus".

  • 65 Lectures, pp. 140, 34.
  • 66 Monaldi, pp. 139-40, 176.

33Presented in the first chapters as not only the true heir, but even as a sort of reincarnation of Raphael--for Allston the supreme example of a great artist whose mind was "an ever-flowing fountain of sympathies" and who therefore was "a prophetic revealer of the unseen True... [that] can only be evoked by a kindred love as pure as itself"65– Monaldi, once his “pure simplicity of heart" is gone through exposure to evil, can no longer be an artist, and indeed has lost all interest in his art. He can no longer look at Nature "with the eye of a lover", and while unresponsively gazing on a gorgeous sunset at Ponte Molle at Rome, "never to be forgotten by a painter" but now meaningless to him, he mourns: "No, thou art nothing to me now, thou glorious sun". Nature no longer affords him a glimpse of the "invisible Idea", from which alone art can spring, but only reflects his disordered mind; "The black river... and its imageless waters appeared to him but the invisible current of his dark thoughts". Monaldi’s contact with evil results in the distortion and thwarting of his emotional and imaginative life, in loneliness and despair, in spiritual death: "Morally, Monaldi’s heart was dead"66.

  • 67 Ibid.. p. 177.
  • 68 "To the Author...", viii, p. 377.

34The young painter’s life before his loss of innocence is described "like one of fresher ages; like the first stream that wandered through Eden, sweet and pure in itself, and bearing on its bosom the bright and lovely images of a thousand flowers"67, and the plot of Allston’s romance may be seen to acquire a mythical dimension through oblique references to the Fall of Man, ever-present to the New England Puritan mind that played such a crucial role in shaping the national consciousness and the imagination of American artists of the nineteenth century. Edenic imagery was readily associated by American writers and artists with Italy, and the Italian natural scene appeared to Allston as "the type and register of what man was/Before sin thralled him"68, while the Arcadian, Edenic quality of the natural scenery in Rome and in the Campagna with its quiet beauty and timeless pastoral simplicities, so memorably recaptured in Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun. will be a constant element in the pictures where Allston imaginatively recreated his Italian experience.

*

  • 69 Cf. e.g., Richardson, pp. 136-7; B. Novak, American Paintaing in the Nineteenth Century, New York, (...)
  • 70 M. Bewley, quoted in R. Chase, The American Novel and its Tradition, Garden City, N. Y., 1957, p. 6
  • 71 Cf. especially the sonnets "Art" and "On Michelangelo".

35Several critics have justly pointed out some parallels between Allston and Hawthorne, stressing their sense of mystery and the tragic, their dreamlike moods, and the centrality the inner life has in their art69. Some further points in common between them have already been indicated, such as their creative use of Gothic motifs, their Edenic imagery and their vision of Italy as the land where past and present coexist and where art as they conceived it could flourish; one last aspect, however, deserves attention. In their Romantic views of the nature and function of art, inevitably at odds with their Calvinistic heritage, there are polarities and tensions typical of the American imagination resulting from the struggle “to close the split in American experience, to discover a unity that--for the artist especially--was not there"70. Among the various causes of this conflict listed by M. Bewley, such as an opposition between Europe and America, we may include the tension between the Romantic conception of the artist, seer and prophet, gifted like Allston’s Michelangelo with god-like powers71, and the Calvinistic deep-rooted distrust of the imagination and of the artist, who holds converse with unseen powers and possesses a mysterious, dangerous knowledge.

  • 72 Cf. N. Hawthorne, "The Prophetic Pictures", (1837), in Hawthorne’s Short Stories, ed. N. Arwin, New (...)

36Neither Allston nor Hawthorne felt completely at ease with the familiar Romantic view of the artist as a sort of secular priest, which was instead readily accepted by Transcendentalism, though both were convinced that the artist’s visionary activity creates myths truer than phenomenal reality, as his "potent art" pierces the veil of appearance. Yet Hawthorne’s attitude to this "awful gift" is ambiguous, as to him as to Allston the artist is not only a seer, but also a magician, and in this connection magic does not have the positive connotations it had for the German Romantics, especially Novalis (to whom, however, Allston seems at times quite close); for Hawthorne, the magic of art is almost always black magic. He projected his own doubts and fears as to the true import of his "gift" into several fictional doubles most explicitly in "The Prophetic Pictures" where a nameless painter/magician glories in his god-like power: his insight into Nature and human nature, however, can be dangerous, and he can unwittingly drive others (and himself) to destruction through his dark knowledge72. This sinister side of art was ever present to Hawthorne’s mind, and in my opinion the same fears may be clearly discerned in Allston’s lifelong reflection on art, most explicitly embodied in Monaldi and his fate.

  • 73 Sonnet "On seeing the Picture of Aeolus by P. Tibaldi...", in Lectures..., p. 275.
  • 74 Sonnet "On the Luxembourg Gallery", in ibid., p. 277.
  • 75 Cf. Monaldi, p. 15.
  • 76 Cf. ibid., p. 30.

37Allston projects into his fictional double not only his aspirations (to be the true heir of the Renaissance masters), but also his fears (as to the ambiguous nature of the artist’s "gift of intercourse with worlds unknown"73. To Allston, the artist is "a privileged seer of Nature", who however treads "very near the dizzy brink of the Impossible", and in art we may find "a charm... how mingled with good and ill!"74. The "superhuman countenance" revealed by the artist on his canvas--as happens with Monaldi’s painting--may communicate a message of horror and despair: it may "radiate falsehood", and its aeshetic appeal may derive from "the appalling beauty of the King of Hell"75. Finally, artists that concentrate too exclusively on the imagination and the inner life, life "rapt" Correggio and visionary Rembrandt, and Monaldi himself, may be easily driven to madness76. The creation of art is therefore fraught with perils, both moral and psychological: the unbounded powers of the imagination, the visionary quality of artistic creation, the very self-concentration so necessary for an artist, all have to Allston potentially dangerous connotations. The imagination is a god-like faculty, but also a possible source of terror and estrangement from society and the natural world.

  • 77 D. Hunter, “America’s First Romantics: R. H. Dana, Sr and W- Allston", New England Quarterly 45, Ma (...)
  • 78 Aphorisms, in Lectures..., p. 177.

38D. Hunter has rightly pointed out that in his theoretical writings Allston was determined to fix the imagination into "a context of permanent, uniform and public truths"77: the same conservative attitude is already evident in the earlier Monaldi, both in the object lesson of the young artist’s fate and in the explicit authorial comments about the value of religion as a constraint for the imagination. On the other hand, if it is only in the Bible, "the only true philosophy, the sole fountain of light" that "the dark questionings of the understanding... at once lose their darkness and their terror"78, yet in the Lectures we find the Idealist view of art as a revelation of the Absolute in the finite; the "dark questionings of the understanding", the self-questioning of the American Romantic artist must go on.

*

  • 79 "To the Author...", ii, p. 378; W. Wordsworth, The Prelude, Introd. by C. Baker, New York, 1966, xi (...)

39The meaning and value of Allston’s experience in Italy for his mind and art are most explicitly expressed, perhaps, in the poem "To the Author of ‘the Diary of an Ennuyée’" (circa 1826). Once more, and more directly than in other writings, Allston makes it clear in the poem that the years spent in Italy in his youth were the turning point of his life, as well as a constant source of inspiration and intellectual nourishment; the poem reads also as a condensed statement of his main beliefs and ideas. All the major themes and moods of Allston’s art and reflection are present: Italy, Nature, art, reverie, youth as the happiest, because the most receptive, intuitive and imaginative period of life, and the restorative, indispensable uses of memory, a central theme to the poem. It is through memory that in "this world of strife" we may recover the life-giving experiences which seem available only "to the first deep consciousness of life": Allston, like Wordsworth, would "enshrine the spirit of the past / For future restoration"79, and he seems very close to the poet (whom he had met in England) as regards the relationship between man and Nature, the unique value of youthful impressions and experiences, and the crucial function of memory.

  • 80 Cf. "To the Author...", v, p. 378, and "On the Group... by Raffaelle", p. 274.

40Wordsworth’s "spots of time", epiphanic moments of intensified perception located in childhood and youth, are one of the key elements of his poetic vision. Two such visionary experiences are minutely described in The Prelude where they are seen as central to the growth of the poet’s mind: a vision of the eternal Mind constantly at work in the universe, granted to him on Snowdon, gave Wordworth a feeling of new life, of active exploration of a new-found world. What the Lake District and the English countryside were to Wordsworth, Italy and its "vision clime" was to Allston. Here he was granted his vision on the Lago Maggiore and felt his mind could communicate with the external Mind through new kinds of sense perceptions. He often felt that in Italy "another sense, from heaven descended, ... had informed his soul", whether through contemplation of the natural scene or of the great masterpieces of the Renaissance80: he could thus decipher the signs, inscribed in the natural world, of an eternal Mind continuously creating the universe it pervades and animates.

  • 81 Monaldi, pp. 23-4.
  • 82 Ibid., p. 209.
  • 83 Ibid., pp. 24-5.
  • 84 Ibid.
  • 85 "To the Author...", vii, p. 379.
  • 86 Lectures, p. 16.
  • 87 Cf. Monaldi, p. 23.

41Allston’s Monaldi--the Wordsworthian, Romantic artist-regards nothing "in the moral or physical world as tiresome or insignificant; every object had a charm, and its harmony and beauty, its expression and character, all passed into his soul in all its varieties, while his quickening spirit brooded over them as over the elementary forms of a creation of his own"81. This, while recalling a famous passage in The Prelude (iii, 124-8), is clearly a description of Allston’s attitude to nature, especially in Italy, where “there is a voice in nature ever audible to the heart"82, and Italy becomes for him identified with nature itself, to be lovingly contemplated, noting its minutest beauties that stir "a sensitive heart and a romantic imagination" to be treasured up in memory, as "themes of delightful musing in her absence"83. Memories of the natural scene he had observed in Italy during his youth came back to him in later years after his final return to America, "with the never-failing freshness and life which love can best give to the absent"84: concentrating on his inner life, for Allston the artist relives past experiences and emotions, and in Wordsworth’s words "Even as an agent for the one great mind, / Creates, creator and receiver both (ii, 272-3). He mediates between the seen and unseen worlds, giving visible shape to what would otherwise be inexpressible, that "stranger feeling, far remote from earth, / That still through earthly things awaits its birth"85. This "stranger feeling" is "the pre-existing idea, in its living power", that needs for its manifestation its "objective correlative" in the external world86: the artist seeks it among his memories of what he has observed in nature, delighting to combine and give another life to the images it has left in his memory87.

  • 88 Lectures, p. 138.
  • 89 Lectures. p. 139. Italics mine.
  • 90 Dunlap, II, 158; N. Hawthorne, "The Customs House", in Great Short Works of Hawthorne, ed. F. C. Cr (...)
  • 91 "To the Author...", iv, p. 378; cf. also ii and iii.
  • 92 Flagg, p. 320.
  • 93 Cf. Ibid.

42The supreme creative power of the artist is embodied for Allston in Raphael and Michelangelo, "in whose highest efforts we have... certain revelations of Nature", such as have been vouchsafed only to "her privileged seers": they are "the two great sovereigns of the distinct empires of Truth, –-the Actual and the Imaginary"88. Michelangelo, seen as the type of the imaginative Romantic artist, is described as rarely dealing with familiar objects; and "when he did deal with them, it was rather as things past. as they appear to us through the atmosphere of the hallowing memory"89. We may say then, that for Allston the essence of artistic creation is Wordsworth’s "emotion recollected in tranquillity". In Rome Allston had become aware that the present can only be understood in terms of the past, and memory was the great source and theme of his work, as he was convinced that the germs of our best ideas are to be found in our past, in the insights, "pure affections", experiences and dreams ("In Rome... were some of my happiest dreams") of youth. He wrote, "I seldom step into the ideal world but I find myself going back to the age of first impressions", when the mind creates for itself "a permanent beach", a barrier against the "ocean of time": "upon this beach the poetry of life may be said to have its birth, where the real ends and the ideal begins". This "beach", Hawthorne’s "neutral territory, somewhere between the real world and fairy-land"90, is where art as Allston and Hawthorne conceived it can live and be fully realised, in a delicate balance between the Actual and the Imaginary, achieved through the mediation of memory. Allston’s "neutral territory" became identified for him with "bright, peerless Italy", forever present to his mind with the same freshness of his first, youthful impressions91. "The visions of the past... do not vanish": they are accessible to him even from his "present foreground, matter of fact as it is: ... I have only, as if reversing a telescope, to look back into the past, to see the same delightful though imaginary distance... still the same"92. The visions of Italy, a visionary past contrasted with the matter-of-fact American present, are to Allston an unchanging source of artistic creativity; after more than thirty years, he still lived upon them in memory, as he said of the art works in Rome93. Thus we may say that Allston’s memories of Italy function precisely like Wordsworth’s "spots of time", which retain

A vivifying Virtue, whence, depress’d
In trivial occupations, and the round
Of ordinary intercourse, our minds
Are nourished and invisibly repaired.
(xi, 258-65)

*

  • 94 Cf. Kasson, p. 47.
  • 95 Cf. Richardson, p. 150.
  • 96 "To the Author...", iv, viii, pp. 378, 379.

43The poetry of absence, of memory is the great theme of Allston’s whole oeuvre, a sort of Proustian Recherche du Temps Perdu: what he had seen and experienced in Italy, where he had also learned to see himself as part of a historical continuum beginning with the great masters of the Renaissance94, stylized through sentiment, reflection and a process of displacement in time, is central to his artistic vision and his art. London had given him the basic skills he needed, but Italy taught him "the language of art" and what he wished to say95. With her "gorgeous skies", her "lines of harmony, [and] nameless hues", her "prophecy / Of lost, regained, primeval harmony"96, her art treasures Italy was throughout Allston’s life a potent symbol for a cluster of experiences, emotions and ideas of the utmost significance for his art. Natural beauty and sublimity, the insight into the spiritual core of reality, the awareness of a living universe where material and spiritual elements interfuse, and of "a world within"; the uses of the past, the living splendour of a rich artistic tradition--all this, and more, is the meaning of Italy to Allston. The memory of Italy was part of his way of seeing and thinking, of painting and writing, of his identity as an American Romantic artist.

Notes de fin

1 E. L. Griggs, ed., Unpublished letters of S. T. Coleridge. 2 vols. New Haven, 1933, II, 305-6.

2 Cf., e.g., E. P. Richardson, W. Allston. A Study of the Romantic Artist in America, Chicago, 1948, p. 174.

3 Cf. Percy Mackaye, Epoch, 2 vols. New York, 1927, I, 166, 168-75.

4 R. L. Ruske, ed., Letters of R. W. Emerson. 6 vols. New York, 1939, III, 182.

5 Th. Jefferson, Writings, 17 vols. Washington 1904, XVII, 292.

6 W. Allston, Lectures on Art. 1850, in Lectures on Art and Poems, and Monaldi. ed. N. Wright, Gainesville, Fla, 1967, p. 18.

7 H. James, "Hawthorne", 1879, in The Shock of Recognition, ed. E. Wilson, New York, 1955, p. 503.

8 Cf. letter by B. West to Canova, quoted in P. R. Baker, The Fortunate Pilgrims. Americans in Italy. 1800- 1860. Cambridge, Ma, 1964, p. 123.

9 W. Dunlap, A History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United States. 1834, 2 vols., Boston, 1918, II, 153.

10 Cf. Lectures on Art, pp. 58-9.

11 "To the Author of ’The Diary of an Ennuyée’" in Lectures... and Poems, iii, p. 378.

12 Monaldi, in Lectures..., pp. 102-120. Written in 1822, Monaldi was published only in 1841.

13 Cf. Ibid., pp. 210-11.

14 Lectures, p. 100.

15 G. S. Hillard, Six Months in Italy. Boston, 1854, p. 560.

16 Monaldi, p. 65.

17 – Ibid., p. 211.

18 Ibid., p. 65.

19 Cf. W. Irving, "W. Allston", in Spanish Papers. Biographies and Miscellanies. 2 vols. New York, 1866, II, 243-50, passim.

20 Ibid., p. 150.

21 Dunlap, p. 187.

22 Quoted by Richardson, p. 74, n 9.

23 Cf. A. Grant, A Preface to Coleridge. London 1977 2, p. 177.

24 Quoted in Richardson, p. 75.

25 Cf. Grant, p. 179.

26 Cf. Richardson, p. 78. Ten years later, while in England, Allston painted another portrait, now in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

27 Quoted in Grant, p. 177.

28 Dunlap, p. 187.

29 Cf. Richardson, p. 83.

30 Cf. Dunlap, p. 187.

31 "On the Late S. T. Coleridge", in Lectures..., p. 346.

32 Cf. Grant, p. 88.

33 Cf. Ibid., p. 179.

34 B. J. Wolf, Romantic Re-vision. Chicago and London, 1982, p. 23.

35 Quoted in G. T. Hughes, Romantic German Literature, London, 1979, p. 114.

36 Lectures. p. 69.

37 Novalis, quoted in Hughes, p. 66.

38 Cf. S. T. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, ed. G. Watson, London, 1967, p. 167.

39 Ibid., pp. 168-9.

40 Quoted in Grant, p. 72.

41 Griggs, II, 152.

42 Monaldi, p. 23.

43 Cf. Lectures, p. 31.

44 Lectures, p. 158; J -B• Flagg, W. Allston. Life and Letters, New York, 1882, p. 319.

45 Lectures, pp. 157, 158.

46 Cf- "Sonnet on the Group of the Three Angels before the Tent of Abraham, by Raffaelle, in the Vatican", in Lectures..., p. 274.

47 Monaldi, p. 139.

48 Cf. "To the Author...", iii, p- 378; Monaldi. pp. 64-5, 138-9, 208-9, 7.

49 Monaldi, p. 64.

50 Cf. Lectures, p. 16. Unlike T. S. Eliot, for whom the "objective correlative" is a literary device at the disposal of the artist, Allston--the first to use it--sees it as a metaphysical expression of a prior harmony between mind and word. Cf. Wolf, pp. 249-50, n 2.

51 Richardson, pp. 172, 173; V. Wyck Brooks, The Flowering of New England (1937), New York, 1952, p. 171. A. Mariani, on the other hand, rightly shows more appreciation for Allston’s romance (cf. Scrittura e figurazione nell’Ottocento americano. Napoli, 1984, p. 19, while Wolf’s interpretation is not wholly convincing (cf. pp. 5-7, 68).

52 Cf. N. Wright, American Novelists in Italy. Philadelphia, 1965, ch. 1 and 2.

53 V. Wyck Brooks, p. 171.

54 N. Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables, ed. H. Levin, Columbus, Ohio, 1969, Preface, p. 1.

55 Monaldi, p. 25.

56 Ibid., p. 19.

57 Ibid.. p. 29.

58 Richardson is surely right when he rejects the familiar interpretation of Allston’s failure as a sign of the impossibility of being an artist in America, as Story, James and others maintained, since most of Allston’s best work, though nourished by his European experience, was done after his return to America (cf. pp. 23, 123, 128).

59 Monaldi, p. 29.

60 Lectures, p. 79.

61 Ibid., pp. 75-6.

62 Monaldi, p. 19.

63 Ibid., p. 29.

64 Cf. the sonnet "Art", in Lectures..., p. 227.

65 Lectures, pp. 140, 34.

66 Monaldi, pp. 139-40, 176.

67 Ibid.. p. 177.

68 "To the Author...", viii, p. 377.

69 Cf. e.g., Richardson, pp. 136-7; B. Novak, American Paintaing in the Nineteenth Century, New York, 19792, pp. 44-5; J. S. Kasson, Artistic Voyagers, Westport and London, 1982, p. 76.

70 M. Bewley, quoted in R. Chase, The American Novel and its Tradition, Garden City, N. Y., 1957, p. 6.

71 Cf. especially the sonnets "Art" and "On Michelangelo".

72 Cf. N. Hawthorne, "The Prophetic Pictures", (1837), in Hawthorne’s Short Stories, ed. N. Arwin, New York, 1946, p. 70, and G. Micks La Regina, "’The Innocent Abroad’: Intention and Achievement in Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun", Itinerari XVI, n° 1 (April 1977), 41-3.

73 Sonnet "On seeing the Picture of Aeolus by P. Tibaldi...", in Lectures..., p. 275.

74 Sonnet "On the Luxembourg Gallery", in ibid., p. 277.

75 Cf. Monaldi, p. 15.

76 Cf. ibid., p. 30.

77 D. Hunter, “America’s First Romantics: R. H. Dana, Sr and W- Allston", New England Quarterly 45, March 1972, 26.

78 Aphorisms, in Lectures..., p. 177.

79 "To the Author...", ii, p. 378; W. Wordsworth, The Prelude, Introd. by C. Baker, New York, 1966, xi, 342-3.

80 Cf. "To the Author...", v, p. 378, and "On the Group... by Raffaelle", p. 274.

81 Monaldi, pp. 23-4.

82 Ibid., p. 209.

83 Ibid., pp. 24-5.

84 Ibid.

85 "To the Author...", vii, p. 379.

86 Lectures, p. 16.

87 Cf. Monaldi, p. 23.

88 Lectures, p. 138.

89 Lectures. p. 139. Italics mine.

90 Dunlap, II, 158; N. Hawthorne, "The Customs House", in Great Short Works of Hawthorne, ed. F. C. Crews, New York, 1967, p. 33.

91 "To the Author...", iv, p. 378; cf. also ii and iii.

92 Flagg, p. 320.

93 Cf. Ibid.

94 Cf. Kasson, p. 47.

95 Cf. Richardson, p. 150.

96 "To the Author...", iv, viii, pp. 378, 379.

Auteur

Università degli Studi "Gabriele d’Annunzio", Pescara

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