Parthagica Directory 08
The trail--about half a metre wide--wound its way up to a great height above the foaming river. There were beautiful ferns of immense height, some of which had finely ribbed, gigantic leaves. Graceful yellow flowers, or sometimes beautiful red ones, were to be seen on tall trees with white, clean stems. We passed a coffee plantation, owned by English people, near a charming settlement of whitewashed houses on the opposite side of the river. When we came to cross the Rio Las Palmas--heavily swollen--we were once more nearly swept away in riding across with water up to our chests. The baggage naturally suffered a good deal in those constant immersions. This was, unfortunately, the wrong season for crossing the Andes; but I could not help that, as I was anxious to get through, and could not wait for the fine weather to come.
Against the right-hand wall are two lady-helps, each warming a towel at a glowing fire, to be ready against the baby should come out of its bath; while in the right-hand foreground we have the levatrice, who having discharged her task, and being now so disposed, has removed the bottle from the chimney-piece, and put it near some bread, fruit and a chicken, over which she is about to discuss the confinement with two other gossips. The levatrice is a very characteristic figure, but the best in the chapel is the one of the head nurse, near the middle of the composition; she has now the infant in full charge, and is showing it to St. Joachim, with an expression as though she were telling him that her husband was a merry man. I am afraid Shakespeare was dead before the sculptor was born, otherwise I should have felt certain that he had drawn Juliet's nurse from this figure. As for the little Virgin herself, I believe her to be a fine boy of about ten months old. Viewing the work as a whole, if I only felt more sure what artistic merit really is, I should say that, though the chapel cannot be rated very highly from some standpoints, there are others from which it may be praised warmly enough. It is innocent of anatomy-worship, free from affectation or swagger, and not devoid of a good deal of homely naivete. It can no more be compared with Tabachetti or Donatello than Hogarth can with Rembrandt or Giovanni Bellini; but as it does not transcend the limitations of its age, so neither is it wanting in whatever merits that age possessed; and there is no age without merits of some kind. There is no inscription saying who made the figures, but tradition gives them to Pietro Aureggio Termine, of Biella, commonly called Aureggio. This is confirmed by their strong resemblance to those in the Dimora Chapel, in which there is an inscription that names Aureggio as the sculptor.