A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1862

Sunday 13th

13 April 1862

Thursday 15th

15 April 1862
14 April 1862
Monday 14th

A parcel of newspapers kept me much occupied after breakfast. But I determined to avail myself of my leisure and pay a second visit to the National Gallery. There has been a good deal of change in the arrangement since last year and much improvement in the effect. I examined with more cure the better class of paintings among others two large ones of Paul Veronese. One numbered 294 in the Catalogue and called the family of Darius at the feet of Alexander. As a work of imagination it is sadly deficient. The women are not Persian, neither are the men Greeks. The artist evidently was dwelling not in the fourth century before christ and more than in his own, for his figures are not true to either idea. The men are of one age, the women of another, and all are of the easterly part of Europe and the Caucasian race. It would have been better to expunge the title, and call it generally captive females begging for mercy! Under this blessing the next remark to make is the slight apparent concern of the women. They are dressed as carefully and as elegantly as if soliciting a carriage to go to a ball. And the Conqueror and his party look as if they were pleased to grant the request.74 I can see no strong emotion on either side. The thing looks more like a moderately acted play, with suitable scenery and decorations. This being my remark upon the conception I proceed to consider the execution. Here I perceive the merit. The composition in a technical sense is good, the colouring admirable, the effects telling and the manipulation of detail excellent. If I were a poet I should not look at the thing a second time. If I were an artist, I should make no end of studying it. The other picture in No 268 The adoration of the Magi. The subject better treated, but I have no more space to enlarge on it today. My wish is to improve my taste in the arts whilst I have an opportunity. Conscious of a deficiency of the means for accurate judgment I hope to supply it in a measure by a familiarity with the best established models. I noted several other pictures today for future study, and only left the gallery at the hour it closed. I dined early and alone, after which I went to the Princess’s Theatre to witness the performance of Shakespeare’s “As you like it.” It was only moderately well done, and yet I never before so fully enjoyed the acting power of that play. I have seen many good performers in it and yet it has seemed rather fit for the closet than the stage. But now I followed every word of it with interest, and the charm of the political vein was more salient to my sense than ever. There was an afterpiece called the little Treasure of very little merit.

Cite web page as:

Charles Francis Adams, Sr., [date of entry], diary, in Charles Francis Adams, Sr.: The Civil War Diaries (Unverified Transcriptions). Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2015. http://www.masshist.org/publications/cfa-civil-war/view?id=DCA62d104