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On the evening after Miriam's visit to Kenyon's studio, there was an
assemblage composed almost entirely of Anglo-Saxons, and chiefly of
American artists, with a sprinkling of their English brethren; and some
few of the tourists who still lingered in Rome, now that Holy Week was
past. Miriam, Hilda, and the sculptor were all three present, and with
them Donatello, whose life was so far turned from fits natural bent
that, like a pet spaniel, he followed his beloved mistress wherever he
could gain admittance.
The place of meeting was in the palatial, but somewhat faded and gloomy
apartment of an eminent member of the aesthetic body. It was no more
formal an occasion than one of those weekly receptions, common among
the foreign residents of Rome, at which pleasant people--or disagreeable
ones, as the case may be--encounter one another with little ceremony.
If anywise interested in art, a man must be difficult to please who
cannot find fit companionship among a crowd of persons, whose ideas and
pursuits all tend towards the general purpose of enlarging the world's
stock of beautiful productions.
One of the chief causes that make Rome the favorite residence of
artists--their ideal home which they sigh for in advance, and are so
loath to migrate from, after once breathing its enchanted air--is,
doubtless, that they there find themselves in force, and are numerous
enough to create a congenial atmosphere. In every other clime they are
isolated strangers; in this land of art, they are free citizens.
Not that, individually, or in the mass, there appears to be any large
stock of mutual affection among the brethren of the chisel and the
pencil. On the contrary, it will impress the shrewd observer that the
jealousies and petty animosities, which the poets of our day have flung
aside, still irritate and gnaw into the hearts of this kindred class of
imaginative men. It is not difficult to suggest reasons why this should
be the fact. The public, in whose good graces lie the sculptor's or the
painter's prospects of success, is infinitely smaller than the public to
which literary men make their appeal. It is composed of a very limited
body of wealthy patrons; and these, as the artist well knows, are but
blind judges in matters that require the utmost delicacy of perception.
Thus, success in art is apt to become partly an affair of intrigue; and
it is almost inevitable that even a gifted artist should look askance at
his gifted brother's fame, and be chary of the good word that might help
him to sell still another statue or picture. You seldom hear a painter
heap generous praise on anything in his special line of art; a sculptor
never has a favorable eye for any marble but his own.