He now began to fulfil the promise of his "Cimabue," and by such pictures as "Paolo e Francesca," "The Star of Bethlehem," "Jezebel and Ahab taking Possession of Naboth's Vineyard," "Michael Angelo musing over his Dying Servant," "A Girl feeding Peacocks," and "The Odalisque," all exhibited in 1861-1863, rose rapidly to the head of his profession.
" It was at Rome, on the 15th of October 1764, as I sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the barefooted friars were singing vespers in the temple of Jupiter, that the idea of writing the decline and fall of the city first started to my mind."
Giovanni Villani, the first chronicler who used Italian for the compilation of a methodical history, tells us how he was impelled to write by musing on the ruins of Rome and thinking of the vanished greatness of the Latin race.
He was disappointed at the resistance which was made, and after musing a while " upon a stall over against the Bell Savadge Gate " he turned back.
The most beautiful of his few pictures of this kind was the "David musing on the Housetop" (1865).
The vivacious lilac still grows, unfolding its sweet-scented flowers each spring.