German artists, who came to Rome increasingly in the late eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth century, found several avenues of approach to the city's life and monuments. To some, Rome meant classical landscape in the tradition of Poussin and Claude; to others, the search for an inner harmony between classic beauty of form and medieval Christian tradition; to still others, of course, it meant chiefly the picturesque blending of the ancient and the contemporary, of ruins and the fresh life led within their shadow.
Asmus Jakob Carstens, who came to Rome in 1792 and devoted himself to figure painting and literary themes, was a leader in the classic style. In 1795 he was joined by the Tyrolese Joseph Anton Koch, who served as a link between the classic and the romantic movements. After Carstens' early death Koch worked chiefly on heroic landscapes in the tradition of Claude, with generalized though sometimes recognizable Roman ruins and picturesque groups of men, women, and animals, sometimes contemporary, sometimes derived from medieval story. His etchings are at once closer to actuality than his paintings and more romantic in treatment, with a touch of that fantasy so highly developed among many German artists of the medieval revival. Perhaps even more important than the considerable body of his work was his influence upon other artists. Karl Philipp Fohr and Franz Hörny, whose Rome in the Renaissance strangely prefigures the English Pre-Raphaelite movement, were among his pupils. Karl Rottmann and Ludwig Richter, though widely divergent in their aims, considered him a master. And among his friends he counted such diverse men as Thorwaldsen and the German Nazarenes.
Friedrich Overbeck was the leader of this German group in Rome, who received their name partly because of their intense religious interests and partly because of the long hair affected by some of their members. Overbeck, in revolt against the classical formalism taught in Germany, came to Rome in 1810 and, with a few friends, formed a group dedicated to the revival of the Christian influence in art. This brotherhood of Saint Luke, which had already been drawn together in Vienna, lived a communal life in Rome in the abandoned monastery of Sant' Isidoro on the Pincian hill. Franz Pforr was one of the original founders; Peter Cornelius, Philipp Veit, the brothers Wilhelm and Rudolph von Schadow, and Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld were among the many associated with it. Friedrich Olivier also studied under Overbeck. Though the Nazarenes emphasized religious subjects and themes from Christian epic and history, many of their members naturally painted the life and monuments of Rome. Franz Catel, for instance, though intimately associated with the group, became more and more a painter of popular Roman genre pictures, from the sale of which he acquired considerable wealth. Aside from their preoccupation with religious work, another fact tended to lessen the interest of the Nazarenes in the remains of Rome itself. This was the number of delightful hill towns nearby which recalled to these lovers of the Middle Ages the legend-haunted crags and castles of Germany. Olevano and Tivoli, crowning their small, steep hills, appear again and again in the sketches and paintings of this group.
The life of the brotherhood may sound aloof and ascetic, but contemporary accounts as well as Fohr's drawing ( Plate 35 ) are evidence of social gatherings in the cafés of Rome, especially the Greco. 'After a good breakfast in the Café Greco, the rendezvous of all the German artists in the city', Ludwig Friedländer set out in 1815 to see the sights of Rome. James Freeman described it more fully some years later. 'The place was resorted to,' he wrote, 'not because of its superior appointments and fame, for it was decidedly one of the smallest, darkest, and untidiest of restaurants; its central position and superior coffee were its chief attractions, added to which a greater freedom of speech was permitted without a strict surveillance of the police, whose spies found their way into all reunions of society. . . . The walls and windows were toned down . . . into asphaltum dinginess, the smoke penetrating into every nook and corner, and keeping the atmosphere so thickly charged with it that it was difficult either to see or breathe. Added to this were the commingling of a dozen languages and dialects, and a variety of costumes, physiognomy, and gesticulation peculiar to Russians, Poles, Hungarians, Danes, Swedes, Spaniards, French, Dutch, English, and other mixed races and eccentric characters.'
As the Germans gathered about Overbeck, so did the Danes about Thorwaldsen, their most famous figure, though they formed no such organized group as that of Overbeck's circle. Detlev Blunck has left an entertaining glimpse of the Danish group in the tavern of La Gensola in 1837. One of those at the table there was Ernst Meyer, creator of such delightful Roman genre scenes as the Public Letter Writer; another was Wilhelm Marstrand, whose October Festival records one of the picturesque celebrations which fascinated visitors from distant lands. Other Danes who painted with gusto Roman monuments and Roman life were Christoffer Eckersberg, Constantin Hansen, and Jorgen Sønne. To this Scandinavian group the young Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen, then unknown, attached himself in 1834. The immediate result of this visit to Rome was his first successful book, The Improvisatore. Though sentiment and narrative contributed much to its popularity at the time, its enduring quality lies in descriptions filled with the evanescent charm of a passing day. With the freshness of observation and diction that later characterized his fairy tales, Andersen noted not only such outstanding sights as the Colosseum, 'like a vast mass of rock' and the Palatine, crowned with black cypresses and pines, 'demon-like and huge', but also the teeming life that surged about them. His young hero's first song dealt with a bacon shop where 'amid beautiful garlands of laurel hung the white buffalo-cheeses, like great ostrich eggs'; where sausages 'reared up like columns, sustained a Parmesan cheese, shining like yellow amber'; and where, 'in an evening . . . the red glass-lamps burned before the images of the Madonna in the wall among sausages and ham'.
To such a cosmopolitan yet picturesque society, to a life totally different from anything they had known across the Atlantic, Americans came in ever-increasing numbers. A period of peace, the improvement of transportation, and a wider distribution of wealth led more and more citizens of the New World to travel for pleasure as well as study. Though the professional guidebook as we know it today was a development of Europe, American writers were at work early to supply the increasing demand for travel books. Theodore Dwight, Connecticut educator and author, published in 1824 his Journal of a Tour in Italy in the Year 1821.
Aside from valuable comments on the condition of Roman monuments at that time, Dwight's book contributes sympathetic descriptions and anecdotes from the city's life.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow slender prose volume, Outre-Mer, appeared in 1835, but the exquisite description, Rome in Midsummer, dates from 1828 when the poet visited the city during his first European journey preparatory to teaching modern languages. Unlike Irving, he never considered the career of an artist; like many another traveller he enlivened his notebooks with occasional sketches by the way ( Plate 39 ). So too did Frances Elizabeth Appleton, whom he met in Europe and later married.
James Freeman, on the other hand, who settled in Rome to paint, is remembered today for his slim volumes, Gatherings from an Artist's Portfolio. Some of these pleasant reminiscences of fact not unmixed with fancy, date from the year of his arrival in 1836, though the two parts of the book were published respectively in 1877 and 1883.
Perhaps the most widely quoted travel book of its time, and still delightful reading, was Six Months in Italy, by George Stillman Hillard, New England lawyer and man of letters, and a friend of Longfellow. Based on a trip in 1847-1848, the book won instant success upon its publication in 1853. The reason is immediately apparent: in its ability to create an atmosphere and interpret a sensitive stranger's reaction to 'the grandeur and mystery of the Eternal City', Hillard's book takes its place among haunting pictures of Roma sparita, vanished Rome, with Story's Roba di Roma and the work of Henry James.
Beyond question, however, Hawthorne Marble Faun was, in Englishspeaking lands, the most widely read of nineteenth-century books dealing with Rome. Shortly after its publication in England in 1860 under the title Transformation, a friend wrote him: 'I suppose no one will visit Rome without a copy of it in his hand.' This was precisely the case. Combining the long and delightful descriptions of his Italian Notebooks with the interest of a romantic love story, shadowed by the clouds of mystery and violence in a foreign land, the book became at once almost as necessary equipment for seeing the city as Murray's guide. Tourists not only visited the spots which Hawthorne described; they saw them through the eyes of his characters; with Hilda and Miriam and Kenyon they stood in the Colosseum by moonlight, gazed at the statue of Marcus Aurelius on the Capitol, shuddered at the fateful precipice of the Tarpeian Rock whence the unhappy Faun hurled the mysterious villain, and watched the clouds pass to and fro above the great opening of the Pantheon's dome.