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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1862

Friday 13th

13 May 1862

Sunday 15th

15 May 1862
14 May 1862
Saturday 14th

As the prospect of my getting at all to the International Exhibition is growing faint if I do not make a decided object of it, I set apart this whole day for the visit. I drove down at noon and remained there until six o’clock. Even as it was I accomplished a very insignificant portion in comparison with the whole. A hasty and rapid glance at the galleries of pictures of the different nations, a look at a few of the statues, and the finer manufacture in the Roman, French, German and English Department. There is certainly a marvellous display of beauty in art and in manual stile The pictures require much more study. In the elder English school I find more of merit than in the modern. Gainsborough and Morland seem to me in painting what Richardson and Fielding are in literature, the types of English life during the last century. A little of mannerism only serves to them out that characteristic more distinctly. That is different from the artificial “genre” style of the present day. The French gallery is as dramatic as usual and full of military pictures which I cannot admire. The Belgian school is better. If not great genius there is skill in handling and extraordinary finish. Some picture from the north of Europe are characteristic and interesting. The sculpture and the Egyptian Lybian Sybil are of a higher class. I like the last the best. The first is a thoughtful, strong figure, but hardly embodies the type of voluptuous fascination which history makes her. It may indeed be that she was no handsomer according to our ideas, but the Romans had a high conception of beauty, if not originally, at least by transmission from Greene, and the men like Antony and Julius Caesar were not likely to be captivated by a mere abstraction. The Sybil, which generically is not unlike the other is far more in keeping with the idea. There is little of sense and more of mind, less of this world and more of the other. But I must stop speculating, which expands this record beyond my power to keep up with it. Quiet dinner. Evening, we went to a reception at Mrs Cropsey’s and likewise to the Countess of Derby’s.126

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=DCA62d165