The dome of the sixth chapel of this church, executed in fresco by Guido, is esteemed one of the finest works of this celebrated master. The roof forms a semicircular arch, in the centre of which St Dominic is represented ascending into paradise, received by our Saviour on the one hand, and the Virgin Mary on the other. In the highest circle of the dome, a soft radiance, emanating from the Holy Spirit, illuminates the picture, touching, with partial lights, the heads of our Saviour, of Mary, and the Saint, who are placed at equal distances; while a choir of angels, exquisitely designed, and finely coloured, fills the space below; the foreground being occupied by a number of musical instruments, violoncellos, guitars, violins, and harps, which are arranged with wonderful skill and effect. The composition of the whole rises in a fine pyramidical form, harmonizing at once with the subject, and the proportions of the dome.
The Altar Piece of the Chapel, by Lombardi, is well worthy of notice. There is also a very excellent picture, a work of much expression and detail, by Leonardo Spadi, the subject of which is the miracle of St Dominic, when the book refused to be burned. One person is seen holding the chafing dish, while another is lying down and blowing; while one of the aged spectators, represented as being much astonished and confounded at the inefficacy of these endeavours, is seen putting on his spectacles to read the title of a book held by one of the saints, and understood also to have resisted the power of the flames. The picture is fourteen feet high, and, in spite of all this nonsense, is good. Opposite to this painting there is a fine Nativity, by Alexander Casini, a pupil of Caracci. The Church of St Bartolomeo:In the fifth chapel of this church, we find Guido’s celebrated picture of the Virgin and Child, a most exquisite composition, simple and touching. It is held so precious that they have very properly framed and glazed it. The history of the preservation of this little valuable work, when the French were in this city, is told here with great interest. During their stay in Bologna it was care-fully concealed in what was styled the Madonna’s Chamber, and is now again replaced upon the altar.
The Altar Piece by Franceschini, on the Martyrdom of St Bartolomeo; a grand but horrible picture, yet less savage than the statue of Milan on the same subject, as here at least the actual representation of torture is spared. The saint is tied and drawn up high on a tree ready for sacrifice; two ferocious figures are seen tighting the ropes, while a third is deliberately preparing to excoriate one of his legs, where a little blood appears, but there, and there only. This church is in a very chaste and good style of ornament. Corinthian pilasters with deep capitals, the pannelling prettily painted, relieved by slight and delicate gilding, and the whole simple and elegant.
The Church of St Petronius, the patron saint of Bologna, (in which the meridian executed by the celebrated Cassini, is preserved,) is a fine Gothic edifice. Among the paintings in this church, the picture contained in the last chapel, executed by Guercino, may be esteemed one of the finest. The subject represents St Thomas composing on the subject of the Eucharist, with two inspiring angels. Their wings are perhaps rather heavy, and their limbs a little straggling, but the design and manner of the whole is very superior.