[Paris—Wednesday, 9 November 1859]
Wednesday. Drove to the Ecole des beaux Arts. A strange old palace crowded about with antiquities illustrative of the immense knowledge of Art as possessed by the ancients. There is a gallery here of great beauty painted in imitation of the Vatican and executed with that accuracy which belongs so essentially to the French Artist. He is a remarkable draughtsman, an indefatigable student, but an originator of noble pictures, almost never. The rooms are full of execrable modern pictures; execrable subjects I mean and should say; the execution is often marvelous. The great attraction of the place is however the famous picture of Paul De la Roche. It is worthy of all the praise which will ever be showered upon it; charming one from its entire fitness in the hall which it adorns as well as its intrinsic value. The hall is used for the distribution of prizes and except on these annual occasions is occupied only by the geniuses who have been conjured thither by the magic of this great painter. There we found the Raphaels and Angelos in easy daily converse with their peers. We were borne as if enchanted within this circle and found ourselves on a rich balcony of stone carving overhanging all this scene of wonder.
Coming away everything seemed cold in comparison and we hurried home.