vases with the same taste and design, on the body of the vase, on the cover, and on the handles; these members, I say, of architedure are the very same that the Tuscans made use of in their buildings, the very same that the Romans made use of from their first origin; and are conformable to the Grecian architedure. I only therefore need to cast my eyes on these vases to know in what manner the Hetrurians built their houses, their temples, and their sepulcres. In the same manner if at present we observe the furniture of our houses, we shall find its members to be conformable to our manner of building. (see the oppofite plates.)
But let us pass over to painting, and the vases alone will be sufficient to convince us of the skillfulness of the Tuscans in this art. And first, let those who are declared enemies of a multiplicity of ornaments observe how the paintings which are on the Tuscan vases, notwithstanding their number, instead of causing confusion, and taking away from their good taste and elegance, wonderfully set off the lines of architecture.
This may be seen in the same plates, in which the paintings which adorned the Tuscan vases are divided into different claeees; some regarding architecture, as festoons, various kinds of meanders, fillets, stalks and herbs, little candlesticks, little temples, pineapples, mushrooms,
husks of pines: others of figures of various kinds, as men, animals, masks, etc. Now I would ask whether these ornaments, which are certainly Tuscan, are wanting either in elegence, grace, dispofition, or in any other beauty which makes up the merit of a picture? Observe what a number of new inventions all of which are in Symmetry; consider those figures with one hand usually wraped up in the garments, and with draperies striated in the manner of shells, and dispofed with the greatest wisdom; consider, I repeat it again, what is wanting in them with regard either
to skill or elegance? But if nothing is wanting, as in fact there is not, have I not reason to say, that tho we had nothing of the Tuscans but their vases, these alone would suffice to make us comprehend how excellent they were both in painting and architecture: since the merit of doing well in little as well as in great is derived from the same fountain of good taste, if we see that the Hetrurians excelled in small things, we may, nay ought to conclude that they were also excellent
in the great, and that if their vases are so well construded, so elegantly wrought, and so perfedly designed, their houses, their temples, their porticos, their forums ought likewise in the same manner to have been both magnificent and noble.
But it is not the vases alone which proves to us the skill of the Tuscan artists. How many statues are daily found both great and small, which tho only of clay, are executed with excellent taste and design: the Marquis Maffei, whom I have already cited, has taken notice of it, and I myself have seen great numbers found in Ardea, in the ancient Veij now called Isola Farnese, and in other parts of Tuscany. Among these, that in the possession of M. Hamilton British Minister at the Court of Naples does not deserve the last place. But if the richness of the matter were to be sought in the Tuscan statues, not to speak of those of bronze, the alabaster statues of Volterra unite the elegance of the design and workmanship with the richness of the materials. We may add to the vases and statues the Etruscan cameos and medals, of which I have seen several in Rome in the possession of M. Morison a learned and skillful antiquarian from Scotland, which would be taken by any one whosoever for Grecian workmanship of the most perfect manner, if their inscriptions were not wrote in Tuscan characters. To the cameos and medals may be added the
paintings which still exist in the ancient grottos of Tuscany, in which are to be seen in spite of time, the destroyer of things, little candlesticks, reeds, vases, festoons, meanders, little figures grouped together, leaves, straws, butterflies, shells, fruit, and other such like things executed in a good style, and resembling those which have been found in Herculanum, of which I have engraved several in my answer to M. Mariette. But more than all the rest the grottos of Corneto deserve to be esteemed, they are already known to the greatest part of antiquarians, and professors of the fine arts, and among them to the very learned M.James Byres, architect, and antiquarian from Scotland, who is about publishing the designs of them in a work, in which will appear his extraordinary knowledge in both these arts. In these grottos are still to be seen paintings, monochromatic like those of the vases, and white like those of Zeuxis according to Pliny; others, tho in part defaced, with
their proper relief of light and shade in various natural colors
correfponding to the subject. Now these paintings are as well designed as those of the vases, wrongfully attributed to the
One of these grottos deserves here to be described, which represents a quadrangular building, with a roof sustained by four pilasters, these pilasters are crowned with Tuscan capitals, or Doric, if we are so pleased to call them. On the ovolo is painted a festoon of laurel leaves, on the ring a basso relievo which represents a multitude of human figures in various attitudes, which seem to use violence against one another: on the freize are seen interwoven together shoots of vines with their leaves; round the top of the four walls reigns a continued cornice, likewise painted. It is divided into six parts, the highest of which represents a listel, the second an Echinus ornamented with leaves, the third a string of little eggs alternately oval, and round; the fourth another Echinus of eggs and anchors; the fifth a long and equal row of dentils; and lastly the sixth a long procession of human figures. The roof is cut with the chizel in imitation of a cieling, that is, with beams which form panels very like those in the cupola of the Pantheon. The mouldings of the cornices of these panels consist of two risings divided by an ovolo, and were painted in the following order: a row of eggs, and anchors adorned alternatively the first rising: a row of meanders rectangular, and interlaced adorned and surrounded the other projection.
All the paintings above-mentioned, with regard to their architectonical ornaments, are not, to say the truth, executed with the greatest diligence, but they are done with the greatest freedom, which proves that at the time that this grotto was cut out, these sorts of ornaments were very common among the Tuscans. But in regard of the human figures, they are most exquisitly designed, and are set in all their attitudes with the greatest knowledge, and propriety. In so much that in these grottos and a number of others, which are to be found all over Tuscany, is to be seen at the same time the perfection of art among the Tuscans, and that negligent frankness, which is not to be acquired but by a long practice.
But it is time to come out of these grottos, and to show the skill of the Tuscans in the arts, let us add to the little, which remains of their works, and which we ourselves may