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HANDBOOK TO THE NATIONAL GALLERY

The National Gallery is open to the Public on week-days throughout the year. On MONDAYS, TUESDAYS, WEDNESDAYS, and SATURDAYS admission is free, and the Gallery is open during the following hours:—

January From 10A.M.until 4P.M.
February From 10A.M. until dusk.
March
April From 10A.M.until 6 P.M.
May
June
July
August
September
October From 10A.M.until dusk.
November
December

On THURSDAYS and FRIDAYS (Students' Days) the Gallery is open to the Public on payment of Sixpence each person, from 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. in winter, and from 11 A.M. to 5 P.M. in summer.

On SUNDAYS the Gallery is open, free, from 2 P.M. till dusk, or 6 P.M. (according to the season).

Persons desirous of becoming Students should address the Secretary and Keeper, National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, S.W.

The National Gallery of British Art ("Tate Gallery") is open under the same regulations, and during the same hours, as those given above, except that Students' Days are Tuesdays and Wednesdays.


[Pg iii]

A POPULAR HANDBOOK
TO THE
NATIONAL GALLERY

INCLUDING BY SPECIAL PERMISSION
NOTES COLLECTED FROM THE WORKS OF JOHN RUSKIN
Volume I.—FOREIGN SCHOOLS

COMPILED BY

E. T. COOK

WITH PREFACE BY JOHN RUSKIN, LL.D., D.C.L.

EIGHTH EDITION

MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED

ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON

1922

[Pg iv]

A picture which is worth buying is also worth seeing. Every noble picture is a manuscript book, of which only one copy exists, or ever can exist. A National Gallery is a great library, of which the books must be read upon their shelves (Ruskin: Arrows of the Chace, i. 71).

There, the long dim galleries threading, May the artist's eye behold Breathing from the "deathless canvass" Records of the years of old:
Pallas there, and Jove, and Juno, "Take" once more their "walks abroad," Under Titian's fiery woodlands And the saffron skies of Claude:
There the Amazons of Rubens Lift the failing arm to strike, And the pale light falls in masses On the horsemen of Vandyke;
And in Berghem's pools reflected Hang the cattle's graceful shapes, And Murillo's soft boy-faces Laugh amid the Seville grapes;
And all purest, loveliest fancies That in poet's soul may dwell, Started into shape and substance At the touch of Raphael.
Lo! her wan arms folded meekly, And the glory of her hair, Falling as a robe around her, Kneels the Magdalen in prayer;
And the white-robed Virgin-mother Smiles, as centuries back she smiled, Half in gladness, half in wonder, On the calm face of her Child:—
And that mighty Judgment-vision Tells how men essayed to climb Up the ladder of the ages, Past the frontier-walls of Time;
Heard the trumpet-echoes rolling Thro' the phantom-peopled sky, And the still Voice bid this mortal Put on immortality.
Calverley.
[Pg v]

CONTENTS


PAGE
Preface by John Ruskin vii
General Introduction, with some Account of the National Gallery x
Guide to the Gallery and Plan of the Rooms xxv
Introductions to the Schools of Painting:
The Early Florentine School 1
The Florentine School 8
The Sienese School 14
The Lombard School 16
The Ferrarese School 19
The Umbrian School 22
The Venetian School 25
The Paduan School 32
The Later Italian Schools 34
The Early Flemish and the German Schools 38
The Dutch School 43
The Later Flemish School 47
The Spanish School 48
The French School 51
Numerical Catalogue, with Biographical and Descriptive Notes 55
Pictures on Loan 749
Copies from Old Masters 752
The Arundel Society's Collection 757
Sculptures and Marbles 770
Appendix I. Index List of Painters (with the subjects of their pictures) 771
Appendix II. Index List of Pictures 791

[Pg vii]


PREFACE BY JOHN RUSKIN

So far as I know, there has never yet been compiled, for the illustration of any collection of paintings whatever, a series of notes at once so copious, carefully chosen, and usefully arranged, as this which has been prepared, by the industry and good sense of Mr. Edward T. Cook, to be our companion through the magnificent rooms of our own National Gallery; without question now the most important collection of paintings in Europe for the purposes of the general student. Of course the Florentine School must always be studied in Florence, the Dutch in Holland, and the Roman in Rome; but to obtain a clear knowledge of their relations to each other, and compare with the best advantage the characters in which they severally excel, the thoughtful scholars of any foreign country ought now to become pilgrims to the Dome—(such as it is)—of Trafalgar Square.

[Pg viii]

We have indeed—be it to our humiliation remembered—small reason to congratulate ourselves on the enlargement of the collection now belonging to the public, by the sale of the former possessions of our nobles. But since the parks and castles which were once the pride, beauty, and political strength of England are doomed by the progress of democracy to be cut up into lots on building leases, and have their libraries and pictures sold at Sotheby's and Christie's, we may at least be thankful that the funds placed by the Government at the disposal of the Trustees for the National Gallery have permitted them to save so much from the wreck of English mansions and Italian monasteries, and enrich the recreations of our metropolis with graceful interludes by Perugino and Raphael.

It will be at once felt by the readers of the following catalogue that it tells them, about every picture and its painter, just the things they wished to know. They may rest satisfied also that it tells them these things on the best historical authorities, and that they have in its concise pages an account of the rise and decline of the arts of the Old Masters, and record of their personal characters and worldly state and fortunes, leaving nothing of authentic tradition, and essential interest, untold.

As a collection of critical remarks by esteemed judges, and of clearly formed opinions by earnest lovers of art, the little book possesses a metaphysical interest quite as great as its historical one. Of course[Pg ix] the first persons to be consulted on the merit of a picture are those for whom the artist painted it: with those in after generations who have sympathy with them; one does not ask a Roundhead or a Republican his opinion of the Vandyke at Wilton, nor a Presbyterian minister his impressions of the Sistine Chapel:—but from any one honestly taking pleasure in any sort of painting, it is always worth while to hear the grounds of his admiration, if he can himself analyse them. For those who take no pleasure in painting, or who are offended by its inevitable faults, any form of criticism is insolent. Opinion is only valuable when it

gilds with various rays These painted clouds that beautify our days.

When I last lingered in the Gallery before my old favourites, I thought them more wonderful than ever before; but as I draw towards the close of life, I feel that the real world is more wonderful yet: that Painting has not yet fulfilled half her mission,—she has told us only of the heroism of men and the happiness of angels: she may perhaps record in future the beauty of a world whose mortal inhabitants are happy, and which angels may be glad to visit.

J. Ruskin.
April 1888.

[Pg x]


GENERAL INTRODUCTION
WITH SOME
ACCOUNT OF THE NATIONAL GALLERY

Division into Volumes.—In arrangement and, to some degree, in contents the Handbook in its present form differs from the earlier editions. Important changes have been made during the last few years in the constitution and scope of the National Gallery itself. The Gallery now consists of two branches controlled by a single Board of Trustees: (1) the "National Gallery" in Trafalgar Square; and (2) the "Tate Gallery" or, as it is officially called, the "National Gallery of British Art" on the Thames Embankment at Millbank.[1] At the former Gallery are hung all the pictures belonging to Foreign Schools. Pictures of the British Schools are hung partly in Trafalgar Square and partly at Millbank, and from time to time pictures are moved from one Gallery to the other. It has therefore been decided to divide the Handbook into volumes according to subject rather than according to position. Volume I. deals with the Foreign Schools (National Gallery); Volume II., with the British Schools (National Gallery and Tate Gallery). By this division the convenience of the books for purposes of reference or use in the Galleries will not be disturbed by future changes in the[Pg xi] allocation of British pictures between Trafalgar Square and Millbank respectively.

How to use the Handbook.—The one fixed point in the arrangement of the National Gallery is the numbering of the pictures. The numbers affixed to the frames, and referred to in the Official Reports and Catalogues, are never changed. This is an excellent rule, the observance of which, in the case of some foreign galleries, would have saved no little inconvenience to students and visitors. In the present, as in the preceding editions of the Handbook, advantage has been taken of this fixed system of numbering; and in the pages devoted to the Biographical and Descriptive Catalogue the pictures are enumerated in their numerical order. The introductory remarks on the chief Schools of Painting represented in the Gallery are brought together at the beginning of the book. The visitor who desires to make an historical study of the Collection may, if he will, glance first at the general introduction given to the pictures in each School; and then, as he makes his survey of the rooms devoted to the several Schools, note the numbers on the frames, and refer to the Numerical Catalogue following the series of introductions. On the other hand, the visitor who does not care to use the Handbook in this way has only to skip the preliminary chapters, and to pass at once, as he finds himself before this picture or that, to the Numerical Catalogue. For the convenience, again, of visitors or students desiring to find the works of some particular painter, the full and detailed Index of Painters, first introduced in the Third Edition, has here been retained. References to all the pictures by each painter, and to the page where some account of his life and work is given, will be found in this Index. Finally, a concise Numerical Index is given, wherein the reader may find at once the particulars of acquisition, the provenance, and other circumstances regarding every picture (by a foreign artist) in the possession of the National Gallery, wherever deposited.

History of the National Gallery.—"For the purposes of the general student, the National Gallery is now," said Mr. Ruskin in 1888, "without question the most important collection of paintings in Europe." Forty years before he said of the same Gallery that it was "an European jest." The growth of the Gallery from jest to glory[2] may be traced in[Pg xii] the final index to this book, where the pictures are enumerated in the order of their acquisition. Many incidents connected with the acquisition of particular pictures will also be found chronicled in the Catalogue[3]; but it may here be interesting to summarise the history of the institution. The National Gallery of England dates from the year 1824, when the Angerstein Collection of thirty-eight pictures was purchased. They were exhibited for some years in Mr. Angerstein's house in Pall Mall; for it was not till 1832 that the building in which the collection is now deposited was begun. This building, which was designed expressly for the purpose by William Wilkins, R.A., was opened to the public in 1838.[4] At that time, however, the Gallery comprised only six rooms, the remaining space in the building being devoted to the Royal Academy of Arts—whose inscription may still be seen above a disused doorway to the right of the main entrance. In 1860 the first enlargement was made—consisting of one new room. In 1869 the Royal Academy removed to Burlington House, and five more rooms were gained for the National Gallery. In 1876 the so-called "New Wing" was added, erected from a design by E. M. Barry, R.A. In that year the whole collection was for the first time housed under a single roof. The English School had, since its increase in 1847 by the Vernon gift, been exhibited first at Marlborough House (up to 1859), and afterwards at South Kensington. In 1884 a further addition of five rooms was commenced under the superintendence of Sir John Taylor, of Her Majesty's Office of Works; these rooms (numbered I., II., III., V., VI. on the plan), with a new staircase and other improvements, were opened to the public in 1887; and the Gallery then consisted of twenty-two rooms, besides ample accommodation [Pg xiii]for the offices of the Director and the convenience of the students.[5] A further extension of the Gallery, on the site of St. George's Barracks, was completed in 1911; this consisted of six new rooms.[6] At the same time the older portions of the building were reconstructed, in order to make it fire-proof. The rearrangement of the Gallery is described below (p. xxv).

Growth of the Collection.—This growth in the Galleries has, however, barely sufficed to keep pace with the growth of the pictures. In 1838 the total number of national pictures was still only 150. In 1875 the number was 926. In 1911 the number of pictures, etc. (exclusive of the Turner water-colours) vested in the Trustees of the Gallery was nearly 2870. This result has been due to the combination of private generosity and State aid which is characteristic of our country. The Vernon gift of English pictures in 1847 added over 150 at a stroke. Ten years later Turner's bequest added (besides some 19,000 drawings in various stages of completion) 100 pictures. In 1876 the Wynn Ellis gift of foreign pictures added nearly another hundred. In 1910 the bequest of Mr. George Salting added 192 pictures (160 foreign and 32 British). Particulars of other gifts and bequests may be gathered from the Appendix. Parliamentary grants have of late years been supplemented by private subscriptions and bequests. In 1890 Messrs. N. M. Rothschild and Sons, Sir Edward Guinness, Bart. (now Lord Iveagh), and Mr. Charles Cotes, each contributed £10,000 towards the purchase of three important pictures (1314-5-6); whilst in 1904, Mr. Astor, Mr. Beit, Lord Burton, Lord Iveagh, Mr. Pierpont Morgan, and Lady Wantage subscribed £21,000 to supplement a Government grant for the purchase of Titian's "Portrait of Ariosto" (1944). In 1903 a "National Art-Collections Fund" was established for organising private benefactions to the Galleries and Museums of the United Kingdom; it was through this agency that the famous "Venus" by Velazquez (2057), in 1906, and the still more famous "Christina, Duchess of Milan," by Holbein (2475), in 1909, were added to the National Gallery. The same Fund contributed also to the [Pg xiv]purchase in 1911, of the Castle Howard Mabuse (2790). Mr. Francis Clarke bequeathed £23,104, and Mr. T. D. Lewis £10,000, the interest upon which sums was to be expended in pictures. Mr. R. C. Wheeler left a sum of £2655, the interest on which was to purchase English pictures. Mr. J. L. Walker left £10,000, not to form a fund, but to be spent on "a picture or pictures." In 1903 a large bequest was made to the Gallery by Colonel Temple West. The will was disputed; but by the settlement ultimately effected (1907, 1908) a sum of £99,909 was received, of which the interest is available for the purchase of pictures. In 1906 Mr. C. E. G. Mackerell made a bequest, and this will also was disputed. By the settlement (1908) a sum of £2859 was received, and a further sum will be forthcoming at the expiration of certain life-interests, of which sums, again, the interest will be available for the purchase of pictures. Appendix II. shows the pictures acquired from these several funds. This growth of the Gallery by private gift and public expenditure concurrently accords with the manner of its birth. One of the factors which decided Lord Liverpool in favour of the purchase of Mr. Angerstein's Collection was the generous offer of a private citizen—Sir George Beaumont.

Value of the Pictures.—Sir George's gift, as we shall see from a little story attaching to one of his pictures (61), was not of that which cost him nothing in the giving. The generosity of private donors, which that little story places in so pleasing and even pathetic a light, has been accompanied by public expenditure at once liberal and prudent. The total cost of the collection so far has been about £900,000[7]; at present prices there is little doubt that the pictures so acquired could be sold for several times that sum. It will be seen in the following pages that there have been some bad bargains; but these mostly belong to the period when responsibility was divided, in an undefined way, between the Trustees and the Keeper. The present organisation of the Gallery dates from 1855, when, as the result of several Commissions and Committees, a Treasury Minute was drawn up—appointing a Director to preside over the Gallery, and placing an annual grant of money at his disposal.[8] The [Pg xv]curious reader may trace the use of this discretion made by successive Directors in the table of prices given in the final index—a table which would afford material for an instructive history of recent fashions in art. The annual grant has from time to time been supplemented by special grants, of which the most notable were those for the Peel Collection, the Blenheim pictures, the Longford Castle pictures, two new Rembrandts (1674-5), Titian's "Ariosto" (1944), Holbein's "Duchess of Milan" (2475), and Mabuse's "Adoration of the Magi" (2790) respectively. The Peel Collection consisted of seventy-seven pictures. The vote was proposed in the House of Commons on March 20, 1871, and in supporting it the late Sir W. H. Gregory (one of the Trustees of the Gallery) alluded to "the additional interest connected with the collection, for it was the labour of love of one of our greatest English Statesmen, and it was gratifying to see that the taste of the amateur was on a par with the sagacity of the minister, for throughout this large collection there could hardly be named more than two or three pictures which were not of the very highest order of merit." The price paid for this collection, £70,000, was exceedingly moderate.[9] The "princely" price given for the two Blenheim pictures is more open to exception; but if the price was unprecedented, so also was the sale of so superb a Raphael in the present day unprecedented.

Features of the Collection.—The result of the expenditure with which successive Parliaments have thus supplemented private gifts has been to raise the National Gallery to a position second to that of no single collection in the world. The number of pictures now on view in Trafalgar Square, exclusive of the water-colours, is about 1600.[10] This number is very [Pg xvi]much smaller than that of the galleries at Dresden, Madrid, and Paris—the three largest in the world. On the other hand no foreign gallery has been so carefully acquired, or so wisely weeded, as ours. An Act was passed in 1856 authorising the sale of unsuitable works, whilst another passed in 1883 sanctioned the thinning of the Gallery in favour of Provincial collections. There are still many serious gaps. In the Italian School we have no work by Masaccio—the first of the naturalisers in landscape; only one doubtful example of Palma Vecchio, the greatest of the Bergamese painters; no first-rate portrait by Tintoret. The French School is little represented—an omission which is, however, splendidly supplied in the Wallace Collection at Hertford House, now the property of the nation. In the National Gallery itself there is no picture by "the incomparable Watteau," the "prince of Court painters." The specimens of the Spanish School are few in number, though Velazquez is now finely represented; whilst amongst the old masters of our own British School there are many gaps for some future Vernon or Tate to fill up. But on the other hand we can set against these deficiencies many painters who, and even schools which, can nowhere—in one place—be so well studied as in Trafalgar Square. The works of Crivelli—one of the quaintest and most charming of the earlier Venetians—which hang together in one room; the works of the Brescian School, including those of its splendid portrait painters—Moroni and Il Moretto; the series of Raphaels, showing each of his successive styles; and in the English School the unrivalled and incomparable collection of Turners,—are amongst the particular glories of the National Collection. Historically the collection is remarkably instructive. This is a point which successive Directors have, on the recommendation of Royal Commissions, kept steadily in view; and which has been very clearly shown since the successive re-arrangements of the Gallery after the extension in 1887.

Scope of the Handbook.—It is in order to help visitors to take full advantage of the opportunities thus afforded for historical study that I have furnished some general introductions to the various Schools of Painting represented in the National Gallery. With regard to the notes in the Numerical Catalogue, my object has been to interest the daily increasing numbers of the general public who visit the National Gallery.[Pg xvii] The full inventories and other details, which are necessary for the identification of pictures, and which are most admirably given in the (unabridged) Official Catalogue—would obviously be out of place in a book designed for popular use. Nor, secondly, would any elaborate technical criticism have been in keeping—even had it been in my power to offer it—with a guide intended for unprofessional readers. C. R. Leslie, the father of the present Academician, tells how he "spoke one day to Stothard of his touching picture of a sailor taking leave of his wife or sweetheart. 'I am glad you like it, sir,' said Stothard; 'it was painted with japanner's gold size.'" I have been mainly concerned with the sentiment of the pictures, and have for the most part left the "japanner's gold size" alone.

Mr. Ruskin's Notes.—It had often occurred to me, as a student of Mr. Ruskin's writings, that a collection of his scattered notes upon painters and pictures now in the National Gallery would be of great value. I applied to Mr. Ruskin in the matter, and he readily permitted me to make what use I liked of any, or all, of his writings. The generosity of this permission, which was supplemented by constant encouragement and counsel, makes me the more anxious to explain clearly the limits of his responsibility for the book. He did not attempt to revise, or correct, either my gleanings from his own books, or the notes added by myself from other sources. Beyond his general permission to me to reprint his past writings, Mr. Ruskin had, therefore, no responsibility for this compilation whatever. I should more particularly state that the pages upon the Turner Gallery in the Second Volume were not even glanced at by him. The criticisms from his books there collected represent, therefore, solely his attitude to Turner at the time they were severally written. But, subject to this deduction, the passages from Ruskin arranged throughout the following pages will, I hope, enable the Handbook to serve a second purpose. Any student who goes through the Gallery under Ruskin's guidance—even at second-hand—can hardly fail to obtain some insight into the system of art-teaching embodied in his works. The full exposition of that system must still be studied in the original text-books, but here the reader may find a series of examples and illustrations which will perhaps make the study more vivid and actual.

[Pg xviii]

Attribution of Pictures.—In the matter of attributions, the rule, in the successive editions of this Handbook, has been to follow the authority of the Official Labels and Catalogues. Criticism has been very busy of late years with the traditional attribution of pictures in our Gallery, and successive Directors introduce their several, and sometimes contradictory, opinions on such points. Thus more than One Old Master hitherto supposed to be represented in the Gallery has been banished, and others, whose fame had not previously been bruited abroad, have been credited with familiar masterpieces. Thus—to notice some of the changes made by Sir Edward Poynter (Catalogue of 1906)—among the Venetians, Bastiani and Catena have come into favour. To Bastiani was given the picture of "The Doge Giovanni Mocenigo" (750) which for forty years has been exhibited as a work by Carpaccio; that charming painter now disappears from the National Gallery. To Catena is attributed the "St. Jerome" (694), which for several decades had been cited as peculiarly characteristic of Bellini. To Catena also is given the "Warrior in Adoration" (234). In this case Catena's gain is Giorgione's loss. But elsewhere Giorgione has received compensation for disturbance. To him has been given the "Adoration of the Magi" (1160), which some critics attributed to Catena. The beautiful "Ecce Homo" (1310), which was sold as a Carlo Dolci and bought by Sir Frederick Burton as a Bellini, was ascribed by Sir Edward Poynter to Cima. One of the minor Venetians—Basaiti, who enjoyed a high reputation at the National Gallery—was deprived of the pretty "Madonna of the Meadow" (599), which went to swell the opulent record of Bellini. Among the Florentines, a newcomer is Zenobio Macchiavelli, to whom is attributed an altar-piece (586) formerly catalogued under the name of Fra Filippo Lippi. Cosimo Rosselli, hitherto credited with a large "St. Jerome in the Desert" (227), now disappears; it was labelled "Tuscan School," and was any one's picture. The attribution of pictures belonging to the group of the two Lippis and Botticelli is still very uncertain. A note on these critical diversities will be found under No. 293. Among alterations in other schools we may note the substitution of Zurbaran for Velazquez as the painter of "The Nativity," No. 232; the attribution to Patinir, the Fleming, of a landscape formerly labelled "Venetian School" (1298); and the discovery of Jacob van Oost as the painter of a charming "Portrait of a[Pg xix] Boy" (1137), which, but for an impossibility in the dates, might well continue to pass as Isaac van Ostade's.

Such were the principal changes made in the ascriptions of the pictures during Sir Edward Poynter's directorate. His successor, Sir Charles Holroyd, has recently made many others, as shown in the following list:

97 (P. Veronese), now described as "after Veronese."

215, 216 (School of T. Gaddi), now assigned to Lorenzo Monaco (see 1897).

227 (Florentine School), now assigned to Francesco Botticini (a Tuscan painter of the 15th century).

276 (School of Giotto), now assigned to Spinello Aretino; for whom, see 581.

296 (Florentine School), now assigned to Verrocchio; see below, p. 262.

568 (School of Giotto), now assigned to Angelo di Taddeo Gaddi, a pupil of Giotto's chief disciple, Taddeo Gaddi (for whom, see p. 211).

579 (School of Taddeo Gaddi), now assigned to Niccolo di Pietro Gerini, a painter of Florence who was inscribed in the guild in 1368 and died in 1415. Our picture is dated 1387.

579A (School of Taddeo Gaddi), now assigned to Gaddi's pupil, Giovanni da Milano.

581 (Spinello Aretino), now assigned to Orcagna; for whom, see 569.

585 (Umbrian School), now assigned to "School of Pollajuolo"; for whom, see 292.

591 (Benozzo Gozzoli), now described as "School of Benozzo."

592 (Filippino Lippi), now assigned to Botticelli; see below, p. 294 n.

599 (Giovanni Bellini), now re-assigned to Basaiti; see below, p. 299.

636 (Titian or Palma). After a period of ascription to Titian, this portrait is now re-assigned to Palma; see below, p. 315.

650 (Angelo Bronzino), now assigned to his pupil, Alessandro Allori (Florentine: 1535-1607).

654 (School of Roger van der Weyden), now assigned to School of Robert Campin; for whom, see 2608.

655 (Bernard van Orley), now ascribed to Ambrosius Benson; born in Lombardy, painted in Bruges, living in 1545.

658 (after Schongauer), now assigned to School of Campin. The picture ascribed to the "Master of Flémalle," as referred to in the text (p. 328), is now No. 2608 (also now assigned to Campin).

659 (Johann Rottenhammer), now assigned to Jan Brueghel, the younger (1601-1667), a scholar of Brueghel, the elder.

664 (Roger van der Weyden), now assigned to Dierick Bouts; for whom, see 2595.

[Pg xx]

670 (Angelo Bronzino), now described as "School of Bronzino."

696 (Flemish School), now assigned to Petrus Cristus; for whom, see 2593.

704 (Bronzino), now described as "School of Bronzino."

709 (Flemish School), now assigned to Memlinc; for whom, see 686.

713 (Jan Mostaert), now assigned to Jan Prevost (Flemish: 1462-1529), a painter of Bruges and a friend of Albert Dürer.

714 (Cornelis Engelbertsz), now assigned to Bernard van Orley; for whom, see 655.

715 (Joachim Patinir), now assigned to Quentin Metsys; for whom, see 295.

750 (Lazzaro Bastiani), now described as "School of Gentile Bellini"; for whom, see 1213.

774 (Flemish School), now assigned to Dierick Bouts; for whom, see 2595.

779, 780 (Borgognone), now described as "School of Borgognone."

781 (Florentine School), now attributed to Botticini.

782 (Botticelli), now described as "School of Botticelli."

808 (Giovanni Bellini), now assigned to Gentile Bellini; see below, p. 422 n.

916 (School of Botticelli), now assigned to Jacopo del Sellaio; for whom, see 2492.

943 (Flemish School), now assigned to D. Bouts.

1017 (Flemish School), now assigned to Josse de Momper; see below, p. 489.

1033 (Filippino Lippi), now assigned to Botticelli; see below, p. 494.

1048 (Italian), now assigned to Scipione Pulzone; see below, p. 505.

1078, 1079 (Flemish School), now "attributed to Gerard David"; for whom, see 1045.

1080 (School of the Rhine), now assigned to Flemish School.

1083 (Flemish School), now assigned to Albrecht Bouts (a son of D. Bouts), who died in 1549.

1085 (School of the Rhine), now assigned to Geertgen Tot Sint Jans (Dutch: 15th century). This painter was a pupil of Albert van Ouwater; he established himself at Haarlem in a convent belonging to the Knights of St. John (whence his name, Gerard of St. John's). His works were seen and admired by Dürer.

1086 (Flemish School), now assigned to the "School of Robert Campin"; for whom, see 2608.

1109A (Mengs). To this picture the number 1099 (noted in previous editions of this Handbook as having been missed in the official numbering) is now given.

1121 (Venetian School), now assigned to Catena; for whom, see 234.

1124 (Filippino Lippi), now described as "School of Botticelli."

1126 (Botticelli), now assigned to Botticini; see on this subject p. 536 n.

1160 (School of Giorgione), now assigned to Giorgione himself.

[Pg xxi]

1199 (Florentine School), now assigned to Pier Francesco Fiorentino; a Tuscan painter of the 15th century.

1376 (Velazquez), now "ascribed to Velazquez."

1412 (Filippino Lippi), now described as "School of Botticelli."

1419 (Flemish School), now assigned to Early French School. The picture formed part of a diptych; the companion picture was in the Dudley Collection (No. 29 in the sale catalogue of 1892, where an illustration of it was given). In this the choir of St. Denis is shown. There are two portraits by the same hand at Chantilly.

1433 (Flemish School), now assigned to Roger van der Weyden; for whom, see 664.

1434 (Velazquez), now "ascribed to Velazquez," and it is added that the picture has been attributed to Luca Giordano (Neapolitan: 1632-1705).

1440 (Giovanni Bellini), now assigned to Gentile Bellini; for whom, see 1213.

1468 (Spinello Aretino), now assigned to Jacopo di Cione, the younger brother of Andrea Cione (called Orcagna); he was still living in 1394.

1652 This picture has hitherto been assigned to the British School (and therefore included in vol. ii. of the Handbook), and called a portrait of Katharine Parr. It is now discovered to belong to the Dutch School and to be a "portrait of Madame van der Goes."

1699 (Jan Vermeer), now "attributed to Vermeer."

1842 (Tuscan School), now "attributed to Stefano di Giovanni," known as Sassetta (Sienese: 1392-1450).

1870 "Angels with Keys," by Sebastiano Conca (Neapolitan: 1679-1764). Lent by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

1903 (Jan Fyt), now assigned to Pieter Boel (Flemish: 1622-1674), of Antwerp, who became official painter to Louis XIV.

It will be observed that critical fashions are unstable, and that in several cases Sir Edward Poynter's changes have been reversed. The recent alterations were made just as this edition of the Handbook was going to press. The ascriptions in the body of my Catalogue remain, therefore, in conformity with the Official Catalogue of 1906 which embodied Sir Edward Poynter's views. The lists of painters and pictures at the end (Appendix I. and II.) have, on the other hand, been revised in accordance with Sir Charles Holroyd's alterations.

Additional Notes.—In the notes upon the pictures, a large number of additional remarks have been introduced since this Handbook first appeared. These, it is hoped, may serve here[Pg xxii] and there to deepen the visitor's impression, to suggest fresh points of view, to open up incidental sources of interest. Attention may be called, by way of example, under this head, to several notes upon the designs depicted on the dresses, draperies, and backgrounds of the Italian pictures. These designs, sometimes invented by the artists themselves and sometimes copied from actual stuffs, form a series of examples which illustrate the "art fabrics" of the best period of Italian decorative art, and which might well give hints for the decoration of textile fabrics to-day.[11] Another incidental source of interest in a collection of pictures such as ours, is the historical development of art as it may be traced in the several representations of the same subject by different painters, in successive periods, and in different schools. Such comparisons are instructive to those interested alike in the evolution of art and in the history of religious ideas. In the art of mediæval Christendom we find an unwritten theology, a popular figurative teaching of the sublime story of Christianity blended with the traditions of many generations. On the walls of the National Gallery we may see a series of typical scenes from the Annunciation to the Passion, from the childhood of Christ to His Death, Resurrection, and Ascension, together with ideal forms of apostles and saints. These pictures, contemplated in sequence and compared with one another, afford, as a writer in the Dublin Review (October 1888) has pointed out, a large and interesting field for thought. Very interesting it is also to trace the different types which prevail in the different schools. Thus at Florence, the Madonna is a tender, shrinking, delicate maiden. At Venice, she is a calm, serene, and pure-spirited mother. The Florentine "handmaiden of the Lord" often wears a mystic, and almost always an intellectual air. The Venetian type, seen at its central perfection in Bellini, has a neck firm as a column; the child is nude and plays with a flower or fruit; grandeur of mien and a noble type of motherhood are the ideals the Venetian painters set before themselves. The Lombard Madonna is less spiritual and severe than the Florentine. A refined worldly beauty replaces here the poetic idealism of the Tuscan artists. With the Umbrian painters the model of the Madonna is usually a softly-rounded and very girlish maiden. A certain mystic pensiveness informs her [Pg xxiii]features. Her feet tread this earth, but her soul is absorbed in the contemplation of the infinite.[12] A study of the successive characteristics of Raphael's Madonnas, passing from the vaguely divine to the frankly human, would form material for a volume in itself.[13] In another department of the painter's art, the comparative method of study is no less suggestive. It is one of the most curious points of interest in any large collection of pictures to notice the different impressions that the same elements of natural scenery make upon different painters. As figure painting came to be perfected, some adequate suggestion of landscape background was required. Giotto and Orcagna first attempted to give resemblance to nature in this respect. Subsequent painters carried the attempt to greater success, but it was long before landscape for its own sake obtained attention. When it did, the preferences of individual painters, now freed from conventionalism, found abundant scope, as we may see by pausing in succession before the flowery meadows of the "primitives," the "fiery woodlands of Titian," the savage crags of Salvator Rosa, the "saffron skies of Claude."[14] These are some of the incidental points of interest upon which additional notes have been supplied in recent editions. Many others will be discovered by the patient reader of the following pages.

Notices of Painters.—Lastly, the biographical and critical notices of the painters have been revised and expanded since the first appearance of the book. Many have been re-written throughout, nearly all have been re-cast, and a good many references to pictures in other galleries and countries have been introduced. The important accession to the National Gallery of the Arundel Society's unique collection of copies from the old masters affords an opportunity even to the untraveled visitor to become acquainted, in some sort, with the most famous wall-paintings of Italy. Mr. Ruskin, by whose death the National Gallery lost one of its best and oldest friends, once expressed a hope to me that the notices of the painters [Pg xxiv]given in this Handbook would be found useful by some readers not only as a companion in Trafalgar Square, but also for other galleries, at home and abroad. Nobody can know better than the compiler how far Mr. Ruskin's kindness led him in the direction of over-indulgence.

I can only hope that the later editions have been made—largely owing to the suggestions of critics and private correspondents—a little more deserving of the kind reception which, now for a period of nearly twenty-five years, has been given by the public to my Handbook.

E. T. C.

May 1912.


[Pg xxv]

FOOTNOTES:

[1] The Tate Gallery is ten minutes' drive or twenty minutes' walk from Trafalgar Square. It is reached in a straight line by Whitehall, Parliament Street, past the Houses of Parliament, Millbank Street, and Grosvenor Road.

[2] Mr. Ruskin himself was converted by the acquisition of the great Perugino (No. 288). In congratulating the Trustees on their acquisition of this "noble picture," he wrote: "It at once, to my mind, raises our National Gallery from a second-rate to a first-rate collection. I have always loved the master, and given much time to the study of his works; but this is the best I have ever seen" (Notes on the Turner Gallery, p. 89 n.).

[3] See, for instance, Nos. 10, 61, 193, 195, 479 and 498, 757, 790, 896, 1131, and 1171.

[4] The exterior of the building is not generally considered an architectural success, and the ugliness of the dome is almost proverbial. But it should be remembered that the original design included the erection of suitable pieces of sculpture—such as may be seen in old engravings of the Gallery, made from the architect's drawings—on the still vacant pedestals.

[5] The several extensions of the Gallery are shown in the plan on a later page.

[6] The total number should thus be 28; but in the reconstruction four smaller rooms were thrown into two larger ones. The plan thus shows 25 numbered rooms and one called the "Dome."

[7] This sum only includes amounts paid out of Parliamentary grants or other National Gallery funds or special contributions.

[8] In 1894, however, an alteration was made in the Minute, and the responsibility for purchases was vested in the Director and the Trustees jointly.

[9] Sir William Gregory relates in his Autobiography the following story: "In 1884, when the Trustees were endeavouring to secure some of the pre-eminently fine Rubenses from the Duke of Marlborough, Alfred Rothschild met me in St. James's Street, and said, 'If you think the Blenheim Rubenses are more important than your Dutch pictures to the Gallery, and that you cannot get the money from the Government, I am prepared to give you £250,000 for the Peel pictures; and I will hold good to this offer till the day after to-morrow.'"

[10] Of the 1170 pieces thus unaccounted for (the total number belonging to the Trustees being roughly 2870) the greater number are at Millbank. Others are on loan to provincial institutions (see App. II.).

[11] With this object in view, several of them have been published with descriptive letterpress by Mr. Sydney Vacher.

[12] These contrasts were worked out and illustrated by Mr. Grant Allen in his papers on "The Evolution of Italian Art" in the Pall Mall Magazine for 1895.

[13] See Raphael's Madonnas, by Karl Károly, 1894.

[14] Ruskin's Modern Painters is of course the great book on this subject. The evolution of "Landscape in Art" has been historically treated by Mr. Josiah Gilbert in a work thus entitled, which contains numerous illustrations from the National Gallery.

GUIDE TO THE GALLERY
AND
INTRODUCTIONS TO THE SCHOOLS OF PAINTING

The pictures in the National Gallery are hung methodically, so far as the wall-space and other circumstances will admit, in order to illustrate the different schools of painting, and to facilitate their historical study. Introductions to the several Foreign Schools of Painting, thus arranged, will be found in the following pages together with references to many of the chief painters in each school who are represented in the Gallery. Introductory remarks on the British School and British Painters will be found in Volume II.

At the present time (May 1912) the arrangement of the Gallery is in a transitional state, as some of the Rooms are still in process of reconstruction or rearrangement. When this work is finished, the arrangement of the whole Gallery will, it is expected, be as shown below:—

Archaic Greek Portraits: North Vestibule.

Italian Schools:—
Early Tuscan: North Vestibule.
Florentine and Sienese: Rooms I., II., V.
[Pg xxvi]Florentine (later): Room III.
Milanese: Room IV.
Umbrian: Room VI.
Venetian: Room VII.
Venetian (later): Room IX.
Paduan: Room VIII.
Venice, etc.: the Dome.
Brescian and Bergamese: Room XV.
Bolognese: Room XXV.
Late Italian: Room XXIII.

Schools of the Netherlands and Germany:—

Early Netherlands: Room XI.
Later Flemish (Rubens, etc.): Room X.
Dutch (landscape: Ruysdael, etc.): Room XII.
Dutch (Rembrandt): Room XIII.
Dutch: Room XIV.
German: Room XXIV.

Spanish School: Room XVI.

French School: Rooms XVII., XVIII.

British Schools:—

Hogarth, etc.: Room XXII.
Reynolds, Gainsborough, etc.: Room XXI.
Romney, Morland, etc.: Room XX.
Turner: Room XIX.

The rooms on the ground floor, hitherto occupied by the Turner Water-Colours (now for the most part removed to the Tate Gallery: see Vol. II.), will be arranged with pictures of minor importance, with the Arundel Society's collection and other copies, and with photographs and other aids to study.

It should, however, be understood that the scheme of arrangement set out above is provisional, and may be modified. It is also possible that the numbering of the rooms may be altered. Should this be the case, the visitor would have no difficulty in marking the changes on the Plan.

[Pg xxvii]

PLAN OF THE ROOMS.

[Pg xxviii]
[Pg 1]


THE EARLY FLORENTINE SCHOOL

"The early efforts of Cimabue and Giotto are the burning messages of prophecy, delivered by the stammering lips of infants"

(Ruskin: Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. i. sec. i. ch. ii. § 7).

Give these, I exhort you, their guerdon and glory For daring so much, before they well did it. The first of the new, in our race's story, Beats the last of the old; 'tis no idle quiddit.
Browning: Old Pictures in Florence.

On entering the Gallery from Trafalgar Square, and ascending the main staircase, the visitor reaches the North Vestibule. What, he may be inclined to ask, is there worth looking at in the quaint and gaunt pictures around him here? The answer is a very simple one. This vestibule is the nursery of Italian art. Here is the first stammering of infant painting. Accustomed as we are at the present day to so much technical skill even in the commonest works of art, we may be inclined to think that the art of painting—the art of giving the resemblances of things by means of colour laid on to wood or canvas—is an easy one, of which men have everywhere and at all times possessed the mastery. But this of course is not the case. The skill[Pg 2] of to-day is the acquired result of long centuries of gradual improvement; and the pictures in this vestibule bear the same relation to the pictures of our own time as the stone huts of our forefathers to the Gallery in which we stand. The poorness of the pictures here is the measure of the richness of others. To feel the full greatness of Raphael's Madonna (1171), one should first pause awhile before the earliest Italian picture here (564), the gaunt and forbidding Madonna by

Margaritone of Arezzo, With the grave-clothes garb and swaddling barret (Why purse up mouth and beak in a pet so, You bald old saturnine poll-clawed parrot?) (R. Browning).

But even in the earliest efforts of infancy, there is a certain amount of inherited gift. First of all, therefore, one should look at a specimen of such art as Italians had before them when they first began to paint for themselves. With the fall of the Roman Empire and the invasion of the Goths, the centre of civilisation shifted to the capital of the Eastern Church, Byzantium (Constantinople). The characteristics of Byzantine art may be seen in a Greek picture (594). The history of early Italian art is the history of the effort to escape from the swaddling clothes of this rigid Byzantine School. The effort was of two kinds: first the painters had to see nature truly, instead of contenting themselves with fixed symbols—art had to become "natural," instead of "conventional." Secondly, having learned to see truly, they had to learn how to give a true resemblance of what they saw; how to exhibit things in relief, in perspective, and in illumination. In relief: that is, they had to learn to show one thing as standing out from another; in perspective: that is, to show things as they really look, instead of as we infer they are; in illumination: that is, to show things in the colours they assume under such and such[Pg 3] lights. The first distinct advance was made by Cimabue and Giotto at Florence, but contemporaneous with them was the similar work of Duccio and his successors at Siena, whose pictures should be studied in this connection. Various stages in the advance will be pointed out under the pictures themselves; and the student of art will perhaps find the same kind of pleasure in tracing the painter's progress as grown-up people feel in watching the gradual development of children.

But there is another kind of interest also. Wordsworth says that children are the best philosophers; and in the case of art at any rate there is some truth in what he says, for "this is a general law, that supposing the intellect of the workman the same, the more imitatively complete his art, the less he will mean by it; and the ruder the symbol, the deeper is its intention" (Ruskin's Lectures on Art, § 19). The more complete his powers of imitation become, the more intellectual interest he takes in the expression, and the less therefore in the thing meant. What then is the meaning of these early pictures? To answer this question, we must go back to consider what it was that gave the original impulse to the revival of art in Italy. To this revival two circumstances contributed. First, no school of painting can exist until society is comparatively rich, until there is wealth enough to support a class of men with leisure to produce beautiful things. Such an increase of wealth took place at Florence in the thirteenth century: the gay and courteous life of the Florentines at that time was ready for the adornment of art. The particular direction which art took was due to the religious revival, headed by St. Francis and St. Dominic, which occurred at the same time. Churches were everywhere built, and on the church walls frescoes were wanted, alike to satisfy the growing sense of beauty and to assist in teaching Christian doctrine. These early pictures are thus[Pg 4] to be considered as a kind of painted preaching. The story of Cimabue's great picture (see No. 565) well illustrates the double origin of the revival of art. It was to its place above the altar in the great Dominican church of Sta. Maria Novella at Florence that the picture was carried in triumphal procession; whilst the fact that a whole city should thus have turned out to rejoice over the completion of a picture, proves "the widespread sensibility of the Florentines to things of beauty, and shows the sympathy which, emanating from the people, was destined to inspire and brace the artist for his work" (Symonds: Renaissance, iii. 137).[15] The history of Giotto is no less significant. It was for the walls of the church of St. Francis at Assisi that his greatest work was done. It was there that he at once pondered over the meaning of the Christian faith (with what result is shown by Ruskin in Fors Clavigera and elsewhere), and learned the secret of giving the resemblance of the objects of that faith in painting. Thus, then, we arrive at the second source of interest in these old pictures of Florence—rude and foolish as they sometimes seem. "Those were noble days for the painter, when the whole belief of Christendom, grasped by his own faith, and firmly rooted in the faith of the people round him, as yet unimpaired by alien emanations from the world of classic culture, had to be set forth for the first time in art. His work was then a Bible, a compendium of grave divinity and human history, a book embracing all things needful for the spiritual and civil life of man. He spoke to men who could not read, for whom there were no printed pages, but whose hearts received his teaching through the eye. Thus painting was not then what it is now, a decoration of existence, but a potent and efficient agent in the education of the race" (ibid. p. 143). The message which these painters had to [Pg 5]deliver was painted on the walls of churches or civic buildings; and it is only there—at Assisi, and Padua, and Florence, and Siena—that they can be properly read. But from such scraps and fragments as are here preserved, one may learn, as it were, the alphabet, and catch the necessary point of view.

But why, it may be asked, did painting come to its new birth first at Florence, rather than elsewhere in Italy? The first answer is that painting thus arose at Florence because it was there that a new style of building at this time arose. The painters were wanted, as we have seen, to decorate the churches, and in those days there was no sharp distinction between the arts. Not only were architects sculptors, but they were often painters and goldsmiths as well. Giotto and Orcagna are instances of this union of the arts. But why did the new style of building arise specially in Florence? The answer to this is twofold: first, the Florentines inherited the artistic gifts and faculties of the Etruscan (Tuscan) race. Even in late Florentine pictures, pure Etruscan design will often be found surviving (see 586). Secondly, in the middle of the thirteenth century new art impulse came from the North in the shape of a northern builder, who, after building Assisi, visited Florence and instructed Arnolfo in Gothic, as opposed to Greek architecture. Thus there met the two principles of art—the Norman (or Lombard), vigorous and savage; the Greek (or Byzantine), contemplative but sterile. The new spirit in Florence "adopts what is best in each, and gives to what it adopts a new energy of its own, ... collects and animates the Norman and Byzantine tradition, and forms out of the perfected worship and work of both, the honest Christian faith and vital craftsmanship of the world.... Central stood Etruscan Florence: agricultural in occupation, religious in thought, she directed the industry of the Northman into the[Pg 6] arts of peace; kindled the dreams of the Byzantine with the fire of charity. Child of her peace, and exponent of her passion, her Cimabue became the interpreter to mankind of the meaning of the Birth of Christ" (Ariadne Florentina, ch. ii.; Mornings in Florence, ii. 44, 45).

In the left-hand corner of the Vestibule will be found a very remarkable series of archaic Greek portraits dating from the second or third century A.D. (Nos. 1260-1270).


The architecture of the Entrance Hall and Vestibule is worth some attention, for here is the finest collection of marbles in London. Many distant parts of the world have contributed to it. The Alps, from a steep face of mountain 2000 feet high on the Simplon Pass, send the two massive square pillars of light green "cipollino" which form the approach to the Vestibule from the Square. Their carved capitals are of alabaster from Derbyshire, whilst the bases on which they stand are of Corrennie granite from near Aberdeen. The square blocks of bluish gray beneath the upper columns come from New Zealand. Ascending the stone steps, the visitor should notice the side walls, built up of squares of "giallo antico," which was brought from the quarry at Simittu, in the territory of Tunis. It had long been known that Rome was full of the beautiful "giallo antico," sometimes yellow, sometimes rosy in colour, but always of exquisite texture and even to work. It had come from the province of Africa; and the quarry was rediscovered by a Belgian engineer working on the railway then being made from Tunis to the Algerian frontier. He observed at Simittu a half-consumed mountain with[Pg 7] gaps clearly marked, from which the last monoliths had been cut, and the work of the Romans was presently resumed by a Belgian Company. No more beautiful specimen of the "giallo antico" similar to that used in Augustan Rome could be desired than slabs in the entrance to the National Gallery. The cornice above the "giallo antico" walls is of "pavonazzetto" from the Apennines, near Pisa, and the same marble forms the base of the red columns. These splendid columns come from quarries near Chenouah, just west of Algiers, which were first opened by the French some years ago. Red Etruscan is the unmeaning trade name of this jasper-like stone, which is also used for door frames in many of the new rooms with very sumptuous effect.


[Pg 8]

FOOTNOTES:

[15] My references to this book are to the new edition of 1897.

THE FLORENTINE SCHOOL

"This is the way people look when they feel this or that—when they have this or that other mental character: are they devotional, thoughtful, affectionate, indignant, or inspired? are they prophets, saints, priests, or kings? then—whatsoever is truly thoughtful, affectionate, prophetic, priestly, kingly—that the Florentine School lived to discern and show; that they have discerned and shown; and all their greatness is first fastened in their aim at this central truth—the open expression of the living human soul" (Ruskin: Two Paths, § 21).

Each face obedient to its passion's law, Each passion clear proclaimed without a tongue.
Robert Browning: Pictor Ignotus.

"Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts;—the book of their deeds, the book of their words, and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others; but of the three, the only quite trustworthy one is the last." The reason for this faithfulness in the record of art is twofold. The art of any nation can only be great "by the general gifts and common sympathies of the race;" and secondly, "art is always instinctive, and the honesty or pretence of it therefore open to the day" (St. Mark's Rest, Preface). It has been seen from the remarks already made how Floren[Pg 9]tine art in its infancy was thus in a certain sense a record of the times out of which it sprang. In the later pictures, we may trace some of the developments which characterised the inner history of Florence in succeeding stages. The first thing that will strike any one who takes a general look at the early Florentine pictures and then at the later, is the fact that easel pictures have now superseded fragments of fresco and altar-pieces. Here at once we see reflected two features of the time of the Renaissance. Pictures were no longer wanted merely for church decoration and Scripture teaching; there was a growing taste for beautiful things as household possessions. And then also the influence of the church itself was declining; the exclusive place hitherto occupied by religion as a motive for art was being superseded by the revival of classical learning. Benozzo Gozzoli paints the Rape of Helen, Botticelli paints Mars and Venus, Piero di Cosimo paints the Death of Procris, and Pollajuolo the story of Apollo and Daphne. The Renaissance was, however, "a new birth" in another way than this; it opened men's eyes not only to the learning of the ancient world, but to the beauties of the world in which they themselves lived. In previous times the burden of serious and thoughtful minds had been, "The world is very evil, the times are waxing late;" the burden of the new song is, "The world is very beautiful." Thus we see the painters no longer confined to a fixed cycle of subjects represented with the traditional surroundings, but ranging at will over everything that they found beautiful or interesting around them. And above all they took to representing the noblest embodiment of life—the human form. Some attempts at portraiture may be perceived in the saints of the earliest pictures; but here we find professed portraits on every wall. This indeed was one of the chief glories of the Florentine School—"the open expression of the living human soul." This widening and secularising of art did not pass in Florence, as we know, without a protest; and here, too, history is painted on the walls. Some of the protest was silent, as Angelico's, who painted on through[Pg 10] a later generation in the old spirit; some of it was vocal, in the fiery eloquence of Savonarola, whose influence may be seen in Botticelli's work (1034).

But the development went on, all protests notwithstanding; for as the life of every nation runs its appointed course, so does its art; and the second point of interest in studying a school of painting is to watch its successive periods of birth, growth, maturity, and decay. In no school is this development so completely marked as in the Florentine, which for this reason, as well as for its priority in time, and therefore influence on succeeding schools, takes precedence of all others. The first period—covering roughly the fourteenth century, called the Giottesque, from its principal master—is that in which the thing told is of more importance than the manner of telling it, and in which the religious sentiment dominated the plastic faculty. In the second period, covering roughly the fifteenth century, and called by the Italians the period of the quattro-centisti,[16] the artist, beginning as we have seen to look freely at the world around him, begins also to study deeply with a view to represent nature more exactly. One may see the new passion for the scientific study of the art in Paolo Uccello (583), who devoted himself to perspective; and in Pollajuolo (292), who first studied anatomy from the dead body. It is customary to group the Florentine artists of this scientific and realistic period under three heads, according to the main tendencies which they severally exhibit. The first group aimed especially at "action, movement, and the expression of intense passions." The artist who stands at the head of this group, Masaccio, is, unhappily, not represented in the National Gallery, but the descent from him is represented by Fra Filippo Lippi, Pesellino, Botticelli, Filippino Lippi. The second group aimed rather at "realistic probability, and correctness in hitting off the characteristics of individual things," and is represented by Cosimo Rosselli, Piero di Cosimo, Ghirlandajo, [Pg 11]Andrea del Sarto, Francia Bigio. Thirdly, some of the Florentine School were directly influenced by the work of contemporary sculptors. Chief amongst this group are Pollajuolo, Verocchio, himself a sculptor, and Lorenzo di Credi. We come now to the third stage in the Florentine, as in every other vital school of painting. This period witnesses the perfection of the technical processes of the art, and the attempt of the painter to "raise forms, imitated by the artists of the preceding period from nature, to ideal beauty, and to give to the representations of the sentiments and affections the utmost grace and energy." The great Florentine masters of this culminating period are Leonardo da Vinci and Michael Angelo. The former is especially typical of this stage of development. "When a nation's culture has reached its culminating point, we see everywhere," says Morelli,[17] "in daily life as well as in literature and art, that grace[18] comes to be valued more than character. So it was in Italy during the closing decades of the fifteenth century and the opening ones of the sixteenth. To no artist was it given to express this feeling so fully as to the great Leonardo da Vinci, perhaps the most richly gifted man that mother Nature ever made. He was the first who tried to express the smile of inward happiness, the sweetness of the soul." But this culminating period of art already contained within it the germs of decay. The very perfection of the technical processes of painting caused in all, except painters of the highest mental gifts, a certain deadness and coldness, such as Browning makes Andrea del Sarto (1487-1531) be conscious of in his own works; the "faultless painter" as compared with others less technically perfect but more full of soul (see under 690). Moreover the very fascination of the [Pg 12]great men, the pleasure in imitating their technical skill, led to decay. Grace soon passed into insipidity, and the dramatic energy of Michael Angelo into exaggerated violence. One mannerism led to another until the school of the "Eclectics" sought to unite the mannerisms of all, and Italian art, having run its course, became extinct.[19]

The growth and decay of painting described above is connected by Ruskin with a corresponding growth and decay in religion. He divides the course of mediæval art into two stages: the first stage (covering the first two periods above) "is that of the formation of conscience by the discovery of the true laws of social order and personal virtue, coupled with sincere effort to live by such laws as they are discovered. All the Arts advance steadily during this stage of national growth, and are lovely, even in their deficiencies, as the buds of flowers are lovely by their vital force, swift change, and continent beauty. The next stage is that in which the conscience is entirely formed, and the nation, finding it painful to live in obedience to the precepts it has discovered, looks about to discover, also, a compromise for obedience to them. In this condition of mind its first endeavour is nearly always to make its religion pompous, and please the gods by giving them gifts and entertainments, in which it may piously and pleasurably share itself; so that a magnificent display of the powers of art it has gained by sincerity, takes place for a few years, and is then followed by their extinction, rapid and complete exactly in the degree in which the nation resigns itself to hypocrisy. The works of Raphael, Michael Angelo, and Tintoret, belong to this period of compromise in the career of the greatest nation of the world; and are the most splendid efforts yet made by human creatures to maintain the dignity of states with beautiful colours, and defend the doctrines of theology with anatomical designs." It is easy [Pg 13]to see how the progress in realism led to a decline in religion. "The greater the (painter's) powers became, the more (his) mind was absorbed in their attainment, and complacent in their display. The early arts of laying on bright colours smoothly, of burnishing golden ornaments, or tracing, leaf by leaf, the outlines of flowers, were not so difficult as that they should materially occupy the thoughts of the artist, or furnish foundation for his conceit; he learned these rudiments of his work without pain, and employed them without pride, his spirit being left free to express, so far as it was capable of them, the reaches of higher thought. But when accurate shade, and subtle colour, and perfect anatomy, and complicated perspective, became necessary to the work, the artist's whole energy was employed in learning the laws of these, and his whole pleasure consisted in exhibiting them. His life was devoted, not to the objects of art, but to the cunning of it; and the sciences of composition and light and shade were pursued as if there were abstract good in them;—as if, like astronomy or mathematics, they were ends in themselves, irrespective of anything to be effected by them. And without perception, on the part of any one, of the abyss to which all were hastening, a fatal change of aim took place throughout the whole world of art. In early times art was employed for the display of religious facts; now, religious facts were employed for the display of art. The transition, though imperceptible, was consummate; it involved the entire destiny of painting. It was passing from the paths of life to the paths of death" (Relation between Michael Angelo and Tintoret, pp. 8, 9, and Modern Painters, vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. iv. § 11. See also under No. 744).


[Pg 14]

FOOTNOTES:

[16] It should be noted that the Italian terms quattro-cento and cinque-cento correspond with our fifteenth (1400-1500) and sixteenth (1500-1600) centuries respectively.

[17] Italian Masters in German Galleries, p. 124. My references to this work are to Mrs. Richter's translation, 1883; in the case of Morelli's Borghese and Doria-Pamfili Galleries in Rome, they are to Miss Ffoulkes's translation, 1892.

[18] Well said: but it remains to be asked, whether the "grace" sought is modest, or wanton: affectionate, or licentious (J. R.).

[19] Not by its own natural course or decay; but by the political and moral ruin of the cities by whose virtue it had been taught, and in whose glory it had flourished. The analysis of the decline of religious faith quoted below does not enough regard the social and material mischief which accompanied that decline (J. R.)

THE SIENESE SCHOOL

"Since we are teachers to unlearned men, who know not how to read, of the marvels done by the power and strength of holy religion, ... and since no undertaking, however small, can have a beginning or an end without these three things,—that is, without the power to do, without knowledge, and without true love of the work; and since in God every perfection is eminently united; now, to the end that in this our calling, however unworthy it may be, we may have a good beginning and a good ending in all our works and deeds, we will earnestly ask the aid of the Divine grace, and commence by a dedication to the honour of the Name, and in the Name of the most Holy Trinity" (Extract from the Statutes of the Painters' Guild of Siena, 1355).

The school of Siena, though in the main closely resembling that of Florence, has yet an independent origin and a distinct character. There is a "Madonna" at Siena, painted in 1281, which is decidedly superior to such work as Margaritone's (564). But the start which Siena obtained at first was soon lost; and at a time when Florentine art was finding new directions, that at Siena was running still in the old grooves. This was owing to the markedly religious character of its painting, shown in the tone of the statutes above quoted. Such religious fervour seems at first sight inconsistent with the character of a people who were famed for factious quarrels and[Pg 15] delicate living.[20] But "the contradiction is more apparent than real. The people of Siena were highly impressible and emotional, quick to obey the promptings of their passion, whether it took the form of hatred or of love, of spiritual fervour or of carnal violence. The religious feeling was a passion with them, on a par with all the other movements of their quick and mobile temperament."[21] Sienese art reflects this spirit; it is like the religion of their St. Catherine, rapt and ecstatic. The early Florentine pictures are not very dissimilar; but in Siena the same kind of art lasted much longer. In the work, for instance, of Matteo di Giovanni (see 1155), there is still the same expression of religious ecstasy, and the same prodigal use of gold in the background, as marked the works of the preceding century; yet he was contemporary with the Florentine Botticelli, who introduced many new motives into art. Matteo was the best Sienese painter of the fifteenth century, and with him the independent school of Siena comes to an end. Girolamo del Pacchia (246) betrays the influence of Florence; whilst Il Sodoma (1144), who settled at Siena and had many pupils, was not a native, and shows in his style no affinity with the true Sienese School. Peruzzi (218), on the other hand, was a native of Siena, but belongs in his artistic development to the Roman School.


[Pg 16]

FOOTNOTES:

[20] See Dante, Inferno xxix. 121. There was, moreover, in Siena a "Prodigal Club," and a poet of the day wrote a series of sonnets (translated by D. G. Rossetti) "Unto the blithe and lordly fellowship."

[21] History of the Renaissance in Italy, iii. 161.

THE SCHOOLS OF LOMBARDY

Painters of "the loveliest district of North Italy, where hills, and streams, and air, meet in softest harmonies" (Ruskin: Queen of the Air, § 157).

'Twere pleasant could Correggio's fleeting glow Hang full in face of one where'er one roams, Since he more than the others brings with him Italy's self,—the marvellous Modenese!
Browning: Bishop Blougram's Apology.

The loose use of the term "school" has caused much confusion in the history and criticism of art. Sometimes the term is used with reference only to the place where such and such painters principally worked. Thus Raphael and Michael Angelo, together with their followers, are sometimes called the "Roman School." But Rome produced no great native painters; she was merely a centre to which painters were drawn from elsewhere. So too when the phrase "Milanese School" occurs, it generally means Leonardo da Vinci and his immediate pupils, because, though a Florentine, he taught at Milan. Sometimes, again, the term "school" is used as mere geographical expression. Thus under "Lombard School" are often included the painters of Parma, simply because Parma is contiguous to Lombardy. A third use of the term school, however, is that in which it means "a definite quality, native to the district, shared through many generations by all its[Pg 17] painters, and culminating in a few men of commanding genius." Such a definite quality is generally marked by "a special collection of traditions, and processes, a particular method, a peculiar style in design, and an equally peculiar taste in colouring—all contributing to the representation of a national ideal existing in the minds of the artists of the same country at the same time." This is the use of the term which is suggested by the main arrangement of the National Gallery, and which is at once the most instructive and the most interesting.

Following this principle in the case of the present chapter, we must first dispose of the "pseudo-Lombards"—the Cremonese, namely, and Correggio. The pictures belonging to artists of Cremona are, as will be seen below, practically Venetian. Correggio and his imitator Parmigiano are more difficult to deal with. The truth is that Correggio stands very much apart (see under 10); but if he must be labelled, it seems best to follow Morelli and class him, on the score of his early training, with the Ferrarese. Coming now to the genuine Lombard School, one sees by looking round the room that it is by no means identical with Leonardo da Vinci. He himself was a Florentine, who settled at Milan, and whose powerful individuality exercised a strong influence on succeeding painters there. But before his coming, there was a native Lombard School—with artists scattered about in the towns and villages around Milan, and with a distinct style of its own. Long before Leonardo came to settle at Milan, the Lombard Madonnas—with their long oval faces and somewhat simpering smile—have already what we now describe as a "Leonardesque character." Among technical points we may notice as characteristic of the Lombard School, in its earlier phases, a partiality for sombre tints and high finish in the rendering of detail. In spirit the School is characterised by great simplicity of feeling. It will be noticed that among the Milanese pictures there are few with any allegorical or mythological subject. Even after Leonardo came to Milan, bringing with him new motives and a wide curiosity, the native Lombard masters, such as Luini and[Pg 18] Gaudenzio Ferrari, adhered in the main to sacred subjects. The Lombard School, it should be observed, was late in arising. The building of Milan Cathedral and the Certosa of Pavia in the first part of the fifteenth century directed the art-impulse of the time rather to sculpture, and it was not till about 1450 that Vincenzo Foppa came from Brescia and established the principal school of painting at Milan. Other schools started with spiritual aims, which wore off, as it were, under the new pleasure of sharpening their means of execution; but the Lombards first took up the art when it had already been reduced to a science. And then most of the painters were natives, not of some large capital, but of small towns or country villages. Thus Luini was born on the Lago Maggiore, and the traditions of his life all murmur about the lake district. But he learned technique at Milan; and thus came to "stand alone," adds Ruskin, "in uniting consummate art power with untainted simplicity of religious imagination" (see references under 18).

With regard to the historical development of the school, it was founded, as we have seen, by Vincenzo Foppa, "the Mantegna of the Lombard School." Borgognone, his pupil, was its Perugino. Then came Leonardo from Florence, and the school divides into two sets—those who were immediately and directly his imitators, and those who, whilst feeling his influence, yet preserved the independent Lombard traditions. The visitor will have no difficulty in recognising the pictures of Beltraffio, Oggionno, and Martino Piazza as belonging to the former class. Solario, Luini, and Lanini are more independent. Lastly Sodoma, a pupil of Leonardo, went off to Siena and established a second Sienese School there, which is represented at the National Gallery by Peruzzi (218).

[Pg 19]


FERRARESE AND BOLOGNESE SCHOOLS

"One may almost apply to the School of Ferrara the proud boast of its ducal House of Este—

Whoe'er in Italy is known to fame, This lordly house as frequent guest can claim."
Guidebook.

The Schools of Ferrara and Bologna, which, as will be seen, are substantially one and the same, are interesting both for themselves and for their influence on others. Two of the greatest of all Italian painters—Correggio and Raphael—may be claimed as "guests," as it were, of "this lordly" school. Correggio's master was Francesco Bianchi of Ferrara, a scholar of Cosimo Tura, and may possibly have afterwards studied under Francia at Bologna;[22] whilst as for Raphael, his master, Timoteo Viti, was also a pupil of Francia. The important influence of this school is natural enough, for the Ferrarese appear to have had much innate genius for art, and there is a note of unmistakable originality in their work.

"The Art of the Emilia, the region that lies between the river Po and the Apennines, has been unduly neglected. Here there once dwelt a vigorous and gifted race, as original[Pg 20] in their way as the Umbrians, Tuscans or Venetians, who found means of self-expression in form and colour under the political security of the Court of Este, and whose art forms an organic whole with stages of development and decay, characteristically differing, like their dialect, from that of other parts of Italy.... The traveller visiting the now deserted city of Ferrara, who meditates on its records of the past, may still in fancy see erected again the triumphal arches which welcomed emperors, popes and princes in the 'quattro-cento'; the gilded barges ascending the river to the city; the platforms draped with the arras, on which were woven in gold and silk stories of cavaliers in tilt and tourney; the duke in his robes, stiff with brocade of gold and covered with gems, bearing a jewelled sceptre in his hand; the magnificently caparisoned steeds; the princesses who came in their chariots of triumph, to be brides of the house of Este.... To trace the various processes, alike of thought, feeling and technique, which have gone to the making of a masterpiece of Correggio, L'Ortolano or Dosso is a fascinating pursuit. Only through knowledge of the tentative efforts of their predecessors at the splendid jovial court of the Este, is it possible to get a total impression. Born, as elsewhere, in bondage to rigid types and forms of composition, Ferrarese genius began by being profoundly dramatic and realistic. The masters of 1450 to 1475, well grounded in geometry, perspective and anatomy, painted rather what they saw than what they felt. Their aim was to conventionalise Nature rather than to transfigure her, and truth was more to them than beauty. The next generation, 1475 to 1500, developed technique so as to express movement and emotion, tempered by the eternal charm of antique ideals, till upon this sure foundation there arose men of high imagination and sentiment, who grasped and solved the mysteries of tone and colour, as distinguished from a brilliant palette" (R. H. Benson and A. Venturi in Burlington Fine Arts Club's Catalogue, 1894). Of the first or Giottesque period of the school no pictures survive, and the founder of the school, so far as we can now study it, is Cosimo Tura, who occupies[Pg 21] the same place in the art of Ferrara as Piero della Francesca occupied in that of Umbria, or Mantegna in that of Padua. Look at his picture (772): one sees at once that here is something different from other pictures, one feels that one would certainly be able to recognise that "rugged, gnarled, and angular" but vigorous style again. Doubtless there was some Flemish influence upon the school (see the notes on Tura, No. 772); and doubtless also the Ferrarese were influenced by the neighbouring school of Squarcione at Padua. But the pictures of Tura are enough to show how large an original element of native genius there was. The later developments of this genius are well illustrated in this room, with the important exception that Dosso Dossi, the greatest colourist amongst the Ferrarese masters, is very incompletely represented. His best works are to be seen at Ferrara, Dresden, Florence, and the Borghese Palace. He has been called "the Titian of the Ferrarese School," just as Lorenzo Costa has been called its Perugino and Garofalo its Raphael. Such phrases are useful as helping the student to compare corresponding pictures in different schools, and thus to appreciate their characteristics.

The early Bolognese School does not really exist except as an offshoot of the Ferrarese. Marco Zoppo (590) was "no better," says Morelli, "than a caricature of his master, Squarcione, and besides, he spent the greater part of his life at Venice;" whilst Lippo Dalmasii (752) was very inferior to contemporary artists elsewhere. The so-called earlier Bolognese School was really founded by the Ferrarese Francesco Cossa and Lorenzo Costa, who moved to Bologna about 1480, and the latter of whom "set up shop" with Francia in that town (see under 629). Remarks on the later "Eclectic" School of Bologna, formed by the Carracci, may more conveniently be deferred (see p. 35)


[Pg 22]

FOOTNOTES:

[22] See for Correggio's connection with the Ferrarese-Bolognese School, Morelli's German Galleries, pp. 120-124.

THE UMBRIAN SCHOOL

"More allied to the Tuscan than to the Venetian spirit, the Umbrian masters produced a style of genuine originality. The cities of the Central Apennines owed their specific quality of religious fervour to the influences emanating from Assisi, the headquarters of the cultus of St. Francis. This pietism, nowhere else so paramount, except for a short period in Siena, constitutes the individuality of Umbria" (J. A. Symonds: Renaissance in Italy, iii. 133).

Yonder's a work now, of that famous youth The Urbinate... Well, I can fancy how he did it all, Pouring his soul, with kings and popes to see, Reaching, that heaven might so replenish him, Above and through his art....
Browning: Andrea del Sarto.

The Umbrian School, unlike the Florentine, was distinctively provincial; painting was not centralised in any great capital, but flourished in small towns and retired valleys—in Perugia, Foligno, Borgo S. Sepolcro, S. Severino, Rimini (see 2118), etc. Hence the older traditions of Italian art held their ground, and the religious feeling of the Middle Ages survived long after it had elsewhere been superseded. This tendency was confirmed by the spirit of the district. The little townships of Umbria begirdle the Hill of Assisi, the hallowed abode of St. Francis, and were the peculiar seats of religious enthusiasm. Art followed the current of life,[Pg 23] just as it did in Florence or Venice or Padua; and Umbria—"the Galilee," as it has been called, "of Italy"—thus produced a distinct type in painting, marked by a quality of sentimental pietism. The influence of Siena, whose artists worked at Perugia, must have made in the same direction, and it is interesting to notice in this room one picture of St. Catherine of Siena (249), and two of her namesake of Alexandria (693, 168). It is interesting, further, to notice how the "purist" style of landscape, identified with this pietistic art (see under 288), is characteristic of the district itself. "Whoever visits the hill-town of Perugia will be struck," says Morelli, "with two things: the fine, lovely voices of the women, and the view that opens before the enraptured eye, over the whole valley, from the spot where the old castle stood of yore. On your left, perched on a projecting hill that leans against the bare sunburnt down, lies Assisi, the birthplace of S. Francis, where first his fiery soul was kindled to enthusiasm, where his sister Clara led a pious life, and finally found her grave. Lower down, the eye can still reach Spello and its neighbouring Foligno, while the range of hills, on whose ridge Montefalco looks out from the midst of its gray olives, closes the charming picture. This is the gracious nook of earth, the smiling landscape, in which Pietro Perugino loves to place his chaste, God-fraught Madonnas, and which in his pictures, like soft music, heightens the mood awakened in us by his martyrs pining after Paradise" (German Galleries, p. 252). "All is wrought," says another writer, "into a quietude and harmony that seem eternal. This is one of the mysterious charms in the Holy Families of Raffaelle and of the early painters before him: the faces of the Madonnas are beyond the discomposure of passion, and their very draperies betoken an Elysian atmosphere which wind never blew" (Letters of Edward FitzGerald, i. 45). Such were the local circumstances of the art which, beginning with the almost grotesque pietism of Niccolò da Foligno (1107), led up to the "purist ideal" of Perugino and to the first manner of Raphael.

The scattered character of Umbrian art above referred[Pg 24] to makes it impossible for us to trace its course historically. From that point of view each of the local schools would have to be treated separately. Of the local schools which were the earliest to develop—Gubbio, Fabriano, and S. Severine—the first two are not represented here at all, and the third has only one picture (249). The taste for art amongst the people of Perugia was much later in developing itself. Even up to 1440 they had to rely on Sienese artists; and later still they sent for Piero della Francesca, of Borgo S. Sepolcro, who had studied at Florence and had greatly advanced the science of perspective. Many of the Umbrian masters—Melozzo, Palmezzano, Fra Carnovale, Giovanni Santi, and even perhaps Perugino, were pupils of his. The earliest native artist of Perugia in the gallery is Fiorenzo di Lorenzo (1103), who, however, owed much to the Florentine Benozzo Gozzoli. This Fiorenzo was probably the master of Pinturicchio. The latter worked for some time under Perugino, who had studied under Piero della Francesca and afterwards himself went to study in Florence. Perugino in his turn was the master, after Timoteo Viti, of Raphael. The development of Raphael's art, leading in its later periods to directions far removed from the Umbrian ideal, is traced under the biographical notice of that master (1171). We have thus completed the circle of the principal Umbrian masters. They are allied, as it will have been seen, by teaching, to the Florentines, but they retained a distinctive character throughout. The one exception in this respect is Luca Signorelli, who, though he was apprenticed to Piero della Francesca, was born nearer to Florence, and whose affinities are far more with the Florentine than with the Umbrian School.

[Pg 25]


THE VENETIAN AND ALLIED SCHOOLS[23]

"The Venetian School proposed to itself the representation of the effect of colour and shade on all things; chiefly on the human form. Here you have the most perfect representation possible of colour, and light, and shade, as they affect the external aspect of the human form, and its immediate accessories, architecture, furniture, and dress. This external aspect of noblest nature was the first aim of the Venetians, and all their greatness depended on their patience in achieving it" (Ruskin: Two Paths, §§ 20, 22).

Diego answered thus: "I saw in Venice The true test of the good and beautiful; First, in my judgment, ever stands that school, And Titian first of all Italian men is."
Velazquez, reported by Boschini, in curious Italian verse thus translated by Dr. Donaldson.

The general characteristics of the Venetian School, as defined by Mr. Ruskin in the passage above quoted, may be traced both to historical circumstances and to physical surroundings. Thus the first broad fact to be noticed about [Pg 26]the Venetian School of painting is that it is later than the Florentine by some hundred years or more. From the point of view of art, Venice, from her intimate connection as a trading power with the East, was almost a Byzantine colony. St. Mark's is a Byzantine church, her earliest palaces are Byzantine palaces. And so, too, for painting she relied exclusively on a Byzantine supply. It was not till the latter end of the fourteenth century that the influence of Giotto's works in the neighbouring town of Padua began to rouse Venice to do and think for herself in art, instead of letting her Greek subjects do all for her.[24] But by the time Venetian painters had acquired any real mastery over their art, Venice was already in a state of great magnificence; her palaces, with their fronts of white marble, porphyry, and serpentine, were the admiration of every visitor. Painters paint what they see around them, and hence at the outset we find in the Venetian School the rendering of material magnificence and the brilliant colours that distinguish it throughout. Look, for instance, at the pictures by a comparatively early Venetian, like Crivelli (see 602); no other painter of a corresponding age showed such fondness for fruits and stuffs and canopies and jewels and brilliant architecture. And then, in the second place, there is the colour of Venice itself, caused by her position on the lagoons. The Venetians had no gardens; "but what are the purples and scarlets and blues of iris, anemone, or columbine, dispersed among deep meadow-grasses or trained in quiet cloister garden-beds, when compared with that melodrama of flame and gold and rose and orange and azure, which the skies and lagoons of Venice yield almost daily to the eye?" (Symonds's Renaissance, iii. 255). But, thirdly, the sea had a further influence on Venetian painting—it caused at once their love of bodily beauty and the kind of such beauty that they loved. Compare, for instance, a typical Venetian "beauty," such as Paris [Pg 27]Bordone's (674), with one of Botticelli's (915): how great is the difference between them! Well, the sea "tends to induce in us great respect for the whole human body; for its limbs, as much as for its tongue or its wit.... To put the helm up at the right moment is the beginning of all cunning, and for that we need arm and eye;—not tongue. And with this respect for the body as such, comes also the sailor's preference of massive beauty in bodily form. The landsmen, among their roses and orange-blossoms, and chequered shadows of twisted vine, may well please themselves with pale faces, and finely drawn eyebrows and fantastic braiding of hair. But from the sweeping glory of the sea we learn to love another kind of beauty; broad-breasted; level-browed, like the horizon;—thighed and shouldered like the billows;—footed like their stealing foam;—bathed in clouds of golden hair like their sunsets." Then further, "this ocean-work is wholly adverse to any morbid conditions of sentiment. Reverie, above all things, is forbidden by Scylla and Charybdis. By the dogs and the depths, no dreaming! The first thing required of us is presence of mind. Neither love, nor poetry, nor piety, must ever so take up our thoughts as to make us slow or unready." Herein will be found the source of a notable distinction between the treatment of sacred subjects by Venetian painters and all others. The first Venetian artists began with asceticism, just as the Florentines did; "always, however, delighting in more massive and deep colour than other religious painters. They are especially fond of saints who have been cardinals, because of their red hats, and they sunburn all their hermits into splendid russet brown" (see 768). Then again, through all enthusiasm they retain a supreme common sense. Look back, for instance, from the religious pictures in this room, from Titian's "Holy Family" (635), or Cima's "Madonna" (634), to those of the Umbrians, which we have just left. The Umbrian religion is something apart from the world, the Venetian is of it. The religion of the Venetian painters is as real as that of Fra Angelico. But it was the faith not of humble men or of mystics, not of profound thinkers or ecstatic visionaries, so much as of[Pg 28] courtiers and statesmen, of senators and merchants, for whom religion was not a thing by itself but a part and parcel of ordinary life. "Throughout the rest of Italy, piety had become abstract, and opposed theoretically to worldly life; hence the Florentine and Umbrian painters generally separated their saints from living men. They delighted in imagining scenes of spiritual perfectness;—Paradises, and companies of the redeemed at the judgment;—glorified meetings of martyrs;—madonnas surrounded by circles of angels. If, which was rare, definite portraitures of living men were introduced, these real characters formed a kind of chorus or attendant company, taking no part in the action. At Venice all this was reversed, and so boldly as at first to shock, with its seeming irreverence, a spectator accustomed to the formalities and abstractions of the so-called sacred schools. The madonnas are no more seated apart on their thrones, the saints no more breathe celestial air. They are on our own plain ground—nay, here in our houses with us." Cima places the Madonna in his own country-side, whilst at Venice itself Tintoret paints Paradise as the decoration for the hall of the Greater Council of the State. The religion of the Venetian School was not less sincere than that of others, but it was less formal, less didactic; for Venice was constantly at feud with the popes, and here we come to the last circumstance which need be noticed as determining the characteristics of the school. "Among Italian cities Venice was unique. She alone was tranquil in her empire, unimpeded in her constitutional development, independent of Church interference, undisturbed by the cross purposes and intrigues of the despots, inhabited by merchants who were princes, and by a freeborn people who had never seen war at their gates. The serenity of undisturbed security, the luxury of wealth amassed abroad and liberally spent at home, gave a physiognomy of ease and proud self-confidence to all her edifices.... The conditions of Florence stimulated mental energy and turned the face of the soul inwards. Those of Venice inclined the individual to accept life as he found it" (Symonds, iii. 259). Hence the ideal of Venetian painting[Pg 29] was "stateliness and power; high intercourse with kingly and beautiful humanity, proud thoughts, or splendid pleasures; throned sensualities; and ennobled appetites."

A speciality of the Venetian School arising from the characteristics we have described is its portraiture. "If there be any one sign by which the Venetian countenance, as it is recorded for us, to the very life, by a school of portraiture which has never been equalled (chiefly because no portraiture ever had subjects so noble),—I say, if there be one thing more notable than another in the Venetian features, it is their deep pensiveness and solemnity. In other districts of Italy, the dignity of the heads which occur in the most celebrated compositions is clearly owing to the feeling of the painter. He has visibly realised or idealised his models, and appears always to be veiling the faults or failings of the human nature around him, so that the best of his work is that which has most perfectly taken the colour of his own mind; and the least impressive, if not the least valuable, that which appears to have been unaffected and unmodified portraiture. But at Venice, all is exactly the reverse of this. The tone of mind in the painter appears often in some degree frivolous or sensual; delighting in costume, in domestic and grotesque incident, and in studies of the naked form. But the moment he gives himself definitely to portraiture, all is noble and grave; the more literally true his work, the more majestic; and the same artist who will produce little beyond what is commonplace in painting a Madonna or an Apostle, will rise into unapproachable sublimity when his subject is a Member of the Forty, or a Master of the Mint" (Stones of Venice, vol. iii. ch. iii. § lxxv.).

In its historical development the Venetian School may be divided, like other schools, into three main periods. First we have the Giottesque or heroic period, or, as it should in the case of Venice be called, "the Vivarini epoch, bright, innocent, more or less elementary, entirely religious art, reaching from 1400-1480." Next comes the Bellini epoch, sometimes classic and mythic as well as religious, 1480-1520. In this period Venetian art is[Pg 30] "entirely characteristic of her calm and brave statesmanship, her modest and faithful religion." "Bright costumes, distinct and sunny landscapes, broad backgrounds of architecture, large skies, polished armour, gilded cornices, young faces of fisher-boys and country girls, grave faces of old men brown with sea-wind and sunlight, withered faces of women hearty in a hale old age, the strong manhood of Venetian senators, the dignity of patrician ladies, the gracefulness of children, the rosy whiteness and amber-coloured tresses of the daughters of the Adriatic and the lagoons—these are the source of inspiration to the Venetians of the second period.... Among the loveliest motives in the altar-pieces of this period are the boy-angels playing flutes and mandolines beneath the Madonna on the steps of her throne. They are more earthly than Fra Angelico's melodists, and yet they are not precisely of human lineage. It is not, perhaps, too much to say that they strike the keynote of Venetian devotion, at once real and devoid of pietistic rapture" (Symonds, iii. 266.) Thirdly comes the epoch of "supremely powerful art corrupted by taint of death," 1520-1600.

This final transition may perhaps best be seen by tracing the similar progress in the technical feature which distinguishes the Venetian painters. They are the school of colour. Their speciality consists in seeing that "shadow is not an absence of colour, but is, on the contrary, necessary to the full presence of colour; every colour in painting must be a shadow to some brighter colour, and a light to some darker one—all the while being a positive colour itself. And the great splendour of the Venetian School arises from their having seen and held from the beginning this great fact—that shadow is as much colour as light, often much more. In Titian's fullest red the lights are pale rose-colour, passing into white—the shadows warm deep crimson. In Veronese's most splendid orange the lights are pale, the shadows crocus colour.... Observe that this is no matter of taste, but fact. It is an absolute fact that shadows are as much colours as lights are; and whoever represents them by merely the subdued[Pg 31] or darkened tint of the light, represents them falsely." But in the two earlier periods above specified, the Venetians are further "separated from other schools by their contentment with tranquil cheerfulness of light; by their never wanting to be dazzled. None of their lights are flashing or blinding; they are soft, winning, precious; lights of pearl, not of lime: only, you know, on this condition they cannot have sunshine: their day is the day of Paradise; they need no candles, neither light of the sun, in their cities; and everything is seen clear, as through crystal, far or near. This holds to the end of the fifteenth century. Then they begin to see that this, beautiful as it may be, is still a make-believe light; that we do not live in the inside of a pearl; but in an atmosphere through which a burning sun shines thwartedly, and over which a sorrowful night must far prevail. And then the chiaroscurists succeed in persuading them of the fact that there is mystery in the day as in the night, and show them how constantly to see truly, is to see dimly. And also they teach them the brilliancy of light, and the degree in which it is raised from the darkness; and instead of their sweet and pearly peace, tempt them to look for the strength of flame and coruscation of lightning." Three pictures may be noted in which the whole process may be traced. First in Bellini's "St. Jerome"[25] (694) is the serene light of the Master of Peace. In another Bellini (726) is a first twilight effect—such as Titian afterwards developed into more solemn hues; whilst in No. 1130 is an example of the light far withdrawn and the coils of shade of Tintoret. (For Ruskin's general remarks on the Venetian School see Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. iii.; Guide to Venetian Academy; Oxford Lectures on Art, §§ 134, 173-177.)


[Pg 32]

FOOTNOTES:

[23] With the pictures of Venice, those of many neighbouring towns—Brescia, Bergamo, Treviso, and Verona—are associated. All these local schools have certain peculiarities of their own, and some of them are well represented here. Nowhere, for instance, out of Brescia itself can the Brescian School be so well studied as in the National Gallery. But above these local peculiarities there are common characteristics in the work of all these schools which they share with that of Venice. It is only these common characteristics that can here be noticed. (Some interesting remarks by Dr. Richter, on the independence of the Veronese School, will be found in The Art Journal, February 1895.)

[24] It should, however, be remembered that "before the Venetian School of painting had got much beyond a lisp, Venetian artists were already expressing themselves strikingly and beautifully in stone, in architectural and sculptural works" (see Morelli's German Galleries, p. 5).

[25] Now ascribed, however, to Catena.

THE PADUAN SCHOOL

"Padovani gran dottori" (the Paduans are great scholars)

Italian Proverb.

Padua, more than any other Italian city, was the home of the classical Renaissance in painting. It was at Padua, that is to say, that the principles which governed classical art were first and most distinctly applied to painting. The founder of this learned Paduan school[26] was Squarcione (1394-1474). He had travelled in Italy and Greece, and the school which he set up in Padua on his return—filled with models and casts from the antique—enjoyed in its day such a reputation that travelling princes and great lords used to honour it with their visits. It was the influence of ancient sculpture that gave the Paduan School its characteristics. Squarcione was pre-eminently a teacher of the learned science of linear perspective; and the study of antique sculpture led his pupils to define all their forms severely and sharply. "In truth," says Layard, "the peculiarity of this school consists in a style of conception and treatment more plastic than pictorial." This characteristic of the school is pointed out below under some of Mantegna's pictures, but is seen best of all in Gregorio Schiavone (see especially 630). A second mark of the classical learning of the school may be observed in the [Pg 33]choice of antique embellishments, of bas-reliefs and festoons of fruits in the accessories. For a third and crowning characteristic of the school—the repose and self-control of classical art—the reader is referred to the remarks under Mantegna's pictures. With Mantegna the school of Padua reached its consummation. Crivelli's pictures are hung with those of the Paduan school, for he too is believed to have been a pupil of Squarcione. But after Mantegna the learning of Padua must be traced not in native painters, but in its influence on other schools.


[Pg 34]

FOOTNOTES:

[26] The earlier Paduan School, represented in the National Gallery by No 701, was only an offshoot from the Florentine.

THE LATER ITALIAN SCHOOLS

"The eclectic school endeavoured to unite opposite partialities and weaknesses. They trained themselves under masters of exaggeration, and tried to unite opposite exaggerations. That was impossible. They did not see that the only possible eclecticism had been already accomplished;—the eclecticism of temperance, which, by the restraint of force, gains higher force; and by the self-denial of delight, gains higher delight" (Ruskin: Two Paths, § 59).

The typical painters, with whom this chapter is concerned, are those of the "Eclectic School" of Bologna—the Carracci, Domenichino, Guido Reni; and Salvator Rosa, the Neapolitan painter of about the same period.

It may be noticed, in the first place, that the lower repute in which these Italian painters of the seventeenth century are now held is of comparatively recent date. Poussin, for instance, ranked Domenichino next to Raphael, and preferred the works of the Carracci to all others in Rome, except only Raphael's, and Sir Joshua Reynolds cited them as models of perfection. Why, then, is it that modern criticism stamps the later Italian Schools as schools of the decadence? To examine the pictures themselves and to compare them with earlier works is the best way of finding out; but a few general remarks may be found of assistance. The painting of the schools now under consideration was "not spontaneous art. It was art mechanically[Pg 35] revived during a period of critical hesitancy and declining enthusiasms." It was largely produced at Bologna by men not eminently gifted for the arts. When Ludovico Carracci, for instance, went to Venice, the veteran Tintoretto warned him that he had no vocation. Moreover "the painting which emerged there at the close of the sixteenth century embodied religion and culture, both of a base alloy.... Therefore, though the painters went on painting the old subjects, they painted all alike with frigid superficiality. Nothing new or vital, fanciful or imaginative, has been breathed into antique mythology. What has been added to religious expression is repellent, ... extravagantly ideal in ecstatic Magdalens and Maries, extravagantly realistic in martyrdoms and torments, extravagantly harsh in dogmatic mysteries, extravagantly soft in sentimental tenderness and tearful piety.... If we turn from the ideas of the late Italian painters to their execution, we shall find similar reasons for its failure to delight" (Symonds's Renaissance, vii. 232). For "all these old eclectic theories were based not upon an endeavour to unite the various characters of nature (which it is possible to do), but the various narrownesses of taste, which it is impossible to do.... All these specialities have their own charm in their own way; and there are times when the particular humour of each man is refreshing to us from its very distinctness; but the effort to add any other qualities to this refreshing one instantly takes away the distinctiveness" (Two Paths, § 58). It was not an attempt to unite the various characters of nature. On the contrary, "these painters, in selecting, omitted just those features which had given grace and character to their models. The substitution of generic types for portraiture, the avoidance of individuality, the contempt for what is simple and natural in details, deprived their work of attractiveness and suggestion. It is noticeable that they never painted flowers. While studying Titian's landscapes, they omitted the iris and the caper-blossom and the columbine, which star the grass beneath Ariadne's feet.... They began the false system of depicting ideal foliage and ideal precipices—that is to say, trees which are not trees, and cliffs which cannot be distinguished from cork or stucco.[Pg 36] In like manner, the cloths wherewith they clad their personages were not of brocade, or satin, or broadcloth, but of that empty lie called drapery ... one monstrous nondescript stuff, differently dyed in dull or glaring colours, but always shoddy. Characteristic costumes have disappeared.... After the same fashion furniture, utensils, houses, animals, birds, weapons, are idealised—stripped, that is to say, of what in these things is specific and vital"[27] (Symonds, ibid. p. 233).

With regard to the historical development of the declining art whose general characteristics we have been discussing, it is usual to group the painters under three heads—the Mannerists, the Eclectics, and the Naturalists. By the first of these are meant the painters in the several schools who succeeded the culminating masters and imitated their peculiarities. We have already noticed, under the Florentine School, how this "mannerism" set in, and all the other schools show a like process. Thus Giulio Romano shows the dramatic energy of Raphael and Michael Angelo passed into mannerism. Tiepolo is a "mannerised" Paolo Veronese, Baroccio a "mannerised" Correggio. Later on, however, and largely under the influence of the "counter-Reformation"—the renewed activity, that is, of the Roman church consequent on the Reformation,[28]—a reaction against the Mannerists set in. This reaction took two forms. The first was that of the Eclectic School founded by the Carraccis at Bologna in about the year 1580. This school—so called from its principle of "selecting" the qualities of different schools—includes, besides the Carraccis themselves, Guido Reni, Domenichino, [Pg 37]Sassoferrato, and Guercino. The last-mentioned, however, combined in some measure the aims both of the Eclectics and of the other school which was formed in protest against the Mannerists. This was the school of the so-called Naturalists, of whom Caravaggio (1569-1609) was the first representative, and whose influence may be traced in the Spanish Ribera (see page 220) and the Neapolitan Salvator Rosa. They called themselves "Naturalists," as being opposed to the "ideal" aims alike of the Mannerists and the Eclectics; but they made the fatal mistake—a mistake which seems to have a permanent hold on a certain order of minds, for it is at the root of much of the art-effort of our own day—that there is something more "real" and "natural" in the vulgarities of human life than in its nobleness, and in the ugliness of nature than in its beauty (see below under 172, and under Salvator Rosa passim).

The later Venetian pictures make a most interesting group. In the eighteenth century Venetian art experienced a partial revival, and the painters of this revival—Tiepolo, Longhi, Canaletto, and Guardi may here be well studied.


[Pg 38]

FOOTNOTES:

[27] It was this false striving after "the ideal," as Mr. Symonds points out, that caused Reynolds, with his obsolete doctrine about the nature of "the grand style," to admire the Bolognese masters. For Reynolds's statement of his doctrine see his Discourses, ii. and iii., and his papers in the Idler (Nos. 79 and 82); for Ruskin's destructive criticism of it, see Modern Painters, vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. i.-iii.

[28] The realism and the morbid taint in the religious pictures of the Italian decadence were in some measure the direct outcome of ecclesiastical teaching. "Depict well the flaying of St. Bartholomew," said a Jesuit father, "it may win hearts to piety." The comment of Shelley on the Bolognese Schools was this: "Why write books against religion when we may hang up such pictures?"

THE EARLY FLEMISH AND THE GERMAN SCHOOLS

"Why is it, probably, that Pictures exist in the world, and to what end was the divine art of Painting bestowed, by the earnest gods, upon poor mankind? I could advise once, for a little! To make this poor authentic earth a little memorable for us. Flaying of St. Bartholomew, Rape of Europa, Rape of the Sabines, Piping and Amours of goat-footed Pan, Romulus suckled by the Wolf: all this and much else of fabulous, distant, unimportant, not to say impossible, ugly and unworthy shall pass. But I say, Herewithal is something not phantasmal; of indisputable certainty, home-grown" (Carlyle: Friedrich, bk. iv. ch. vi., slightly altered).

The Early Flemish and German schools are by no means so completely represented as the nearly contemporary schools of Italy; but there are enough pictures to bring out the characteristics of the northern art. Nothing can be more instructive, and convincing of the value of art as a means of national autobiography, than to compare the early pictures in these rooms en bloc with those in any of the Italian rooms (e.g. the Umbrian). No one can fail to be struck at once by the contrast between what Mr. Ruskin has called "the angular and bony sanctities of the North," and "the drooping graces and pensive pieties of the South." This is the first distinguishing character of the early northern art: there is little feeling, or care, for beauty as[Pg 39] such. Look round the rooms, and see whether there is a single face which will haunt you for its beauty. Look at the pictures which interest you most, choose out the brightest and the most exquisitely finished: and see if it is not an almost defiant absence of beautiful feature that characterises them. Coupled with their absence of feeling for the beautiful there is in the work of these artists a strange fondness for death—for agonies, crucifixions, depositions, exhumations. "It is not that the person needs excitement or has any such strong perceptions as would cause excitement, but he is dead to the horror, and a strange evil influence guides his feebleness of mind rather to fearful images than to beautiful ones,—as our disturbed dreams are sometimes filled with ghastlinesses which seem not to arise out of any conceivable association of our waking ideas, but to be a vapour out of the very chambers of the tomb, to which the mind, in its palsy, has approached" (Modern Painters, vol. iv. pt. v. ch. xix. § 16). Thus, in painting scenes from the Passion or stories from the book of martyrs, the Italians of the earlier time endured the painfulness, the northern artists rejoiced in it.

What, then, is it that gives these pictures their worth and has caused their painters to be included amongst the great masters of the world? Look at some of the best, and the more you look the more you will see that their goodness consists in an absolute fidelity to nature—in dress, in ornaments, and especially in portraiture. Here are unmistakably the men and women of the time, set down precisely in their habit as they lived. In this grim, unrelenting truthfulness these pictures correspond exactly to the ideal which Carlyle—himself a typical northerner—lays down, in the passage above quoted, for the art of painting.

Look at these pictures and at the Italian again, and another obvious difference is apparent. The Flemish pictures are on the whole much smaller. This is a fact full of significance. In the sunny South the artists spent their best energies in covering large spaces of wall with frescoes; in the damp climate of the North they were obliged to paint[Pg 40] chiefly upon panels. The conditions of their climate were no doubt what led to the discovery of the Van Eyck method (described under 186), the point of which was a way of drying pictures rapidly without the necessity of exposure to the sun. It was a method only applicable to work on a small scale, but it permitted such work to be brought to the highest finish. This precisely suited the painstaking, patient men of the Low Countries. Hence the minuteness and finish which characterise their work. Moreover, "every charm that can be bestowed upon so small a surface is requisite to intensify its attractive power; and hence Flemish painters developed a jewel-like quality of colouring which remained peculiar to themselves." ... Further, the Van Eyck method, requiring absolute forethought and forbidding any alterations, tended to a set of stock subjects treated more or less in the same way. "Thus the chief qualities of the Flemish School may be called Veracity of Imitation, Jewel-like richness of Colour, perfection of Finish, emphasis of Character, and Conservatism in design. These indeed are virtues enough to make a school of art great in the annals of time, even though they may never be able to win for it the clatter of popular applause. The paintings of Flanders were not, and were not intended to be, popular. Flemish artists did not, like the Italians, paint for the folk, but for the delight of a small cultured clique."[29]

Such are the general characteristics of the Early Flemish School. Passing now to its historical development and to its relations with the schools of Germany, we may distinguish three successive periods. (1) The birthplace of painting as a separate art in the North was on the Lower Rhine, at Maastricht and Cologne. Of this school of the Lower Rhine a characteristic specimen is No. 687. It is properly grouped with the Early Flemish School, because in the fourteenth century most of the Flemish artists were Germans from the valley of the Rhine. (2) Later on, however, the great development in the prosperity and wealth of the Low Countries—the land of the Woolsack and the Golden [Pg 41]Fleece, led to the growth of a native art. This was closely connected with the schools of illuminators patronised by the Courts of France and Burgundy, and many works of the Primitifs cannot be distinguished, with any complete certainty, as French or Flemish. Just as at Venice the people, busy with their trade, preferred for a long time to buy rather than produce their works of art, but afterwards settled down and made works for themselves, so in Flanders the German art came to be superseded by a native Flemish art. The Early Flemish School, covering roughly the period 1400-1500, was the result, the most important masters being Van Eyck, Van der Weyden, Bouts, David, and Memlinc. (3.) It was now the turn of this school to influence that of Germany. The Flemish masters were great travellers, and the German masters were no doubt attracted to Flanders by the great technical skill there in vogue. Hence we now come to a second period in German painting—marked by Flemish influence. There is less of the mysticism and more realism; but with the realism there is an element of brutality and ugliness. Nos. 707 and 1049 are typical German pictures of this period.

Finally, it will be noticed, as the visitor goes round the rooms, that many of the pictures are either altogether "unknown" or are attributed to artists whose names are not given, and who are merely described as the "master" of such and such other pictures. This is an interesting and characteristic point. Of individual painters of the Early German School, and for the most part of those of the Early Flemish, very little is known. They seldom signed their names,[30] and the works of the fifteenth century were in the next two centuries treated with neglect. Hence both the attribution of these pictures, and the lives of the painters to whom they are attributed, are still very uncertain. A second reason for this uncertainty is to be found in the Guild [Pg 42]system, which was very strict amongst the northern artists. Painting, to the mediæval mind, was a craft like any other, and was subject to the same rules. The Guild educated the artist and bought his materials, and even when he emerged into mastership, stood in many ways between him and his patron. Hence pictures were often regarded as the work not of this or that individual, but of this or that Guild. Hence too the quiet industry and the uncompetitive patience of these Early Flemish painters. "It was not merely the result of chance that the brothers Van Eyck invented their peculiar method of painting by which they were enabled to produce pictures of almost unlimited durability and of unsurpassable finish, provided sufficient care were bestowed upon the work. The spirit of the day and the method of the day were reflections one of another.... Take any picture of this old Flemish School, and regard it carefully, you will find that only so do its beauties strike you at all.... The old Flemish artists did always the thing that was within their powers, striving indeed by daily industry to increase the strength of those powers, but never hoping either by luck or momentary insanity to attain anything unattainable by patient thought and long-continued labour. 'Patient continuance in well-doing' was the open secret of their success" (Conway, ch. ii.)

Of the later German School, specially distinguished in portraiture, the Gallery has now some fine examples, and here again there is similarity between the German and the early Flemish painters. "If," says Ruskin, "the reader were to make the circuit of this collection for the purpose of determining which picture united in its modes of execution the highest reach of achievement with the strongest assurance of durability, we believe that he would finally pause before a small picture or panel, representing two quaintly dressed figures in a dimly lighted room." Turn from the portraits by Jan van Eyck to the portraits by Cranach and Albert Dürer, and much of the same minute fidelity and careful workmanship will be found. For Holbein's portraits, the reader is referred to the notes (pp. 613-4).


[Pg 43]

FOOTNOTES:

[29] Sir W. M. Conway: Early Flemish Artists and their Predecessors on the Lower Rhine, 1887.

[30] The letters often found on pictures, which for a long time excited the curiosity and imagination of critics, are now fully explained as the initials not of the painters but of the patrons (see Wauters: The Flemish School, p. 61).

THE DUTCH SCHOOL

... Artists should descry abundant worth In trivial commonplace, nor groan at dearth If fortune bade the painter's craft be plied In vulgar town and country!
Robert Browning: Gerard de Lairesse.

The Dutch and Flemish schools were formerly hung together at the National Gallery. They are now separated, and with the early Flemish school we have already dealt. We take up the story here at the point where it leaves off there, and proceed to discuss the Dutch school; passing afterwards to the later Flemish school. The confusion between Dutch and Flemish art is, it may first be remarked, historical. Just as Flanders derived its earliest artistic impulse from German painters, so did the Dutch derive theirs from the Flemings. In the two first periods of Flemish art, Dutch art runs precisely parallel with it. During the sixteenth century a new development began in both schools. This is the period of Italian influence, of the "Romanists" or "Italianisers," as they are called, represented typically by Bernard van Orley and Mabuse.

At the end of the sixteenth century, however, a national movement began in both schools—corresponding closely to political changes. In 1579 the "Union of Utrecht" was effected, whereby the Dutch "United Provinces"[Pg 44] (= roughly what is now Holland) were separated alike from the Spanish Netherlands and from the Empire, and Dutch independence thus began. Within the next fifty years nearly all the great Dutch painters were born—Berchem, Bol, Cuyp, Frans Hals, Van der Helst, De Keyser, Rembrandt, Ruysdael. In characteristics, as well as in chronology, Dutch art was the direct outcome of Dutch history. This art has come to be identified in common parlance, owing to its chief and distinguishing characteristic, with what is known as "genre painting,"—the painting, that is, which takes its subject from small incidents of everyday life. Three historical conditions combined to bring this kind of painting into vogue. First, the Reformation. The Dutch, when they asserted their independence, were no longer Catholics; but Protestantism despised the arts, and hence the arts became entirely dissociated from religion. There were no more churches to ornament, and hence no more religious pictures were painted[31] whilst religious rapture is superseded by what one of their own critics describes as "the boisterous outbursts which betoken approaching drunkenness" (Havard: The Dutch School, p. 12).[32] Secondly, the Dutch were Republicans. There was no reigning family. There were no palaces to decorate, and hence no more historical or mythological pictures were in demand. This point of distinction may best be remembered by the supreme contempt which the great King Louis XIV. of France entertained for [Pg 45]the genre style. Eloignez de mot ces magots, he said, "take away the absurd things," when some one showed him some works by Teniers. But the "plain, simple citizens" of the United Provinces did not want their faces idealised—hence the prosaic excellence of Dutch portraiture,—nor had they any ambition to see on their walls anything but an imitation of their actual lives—of their dykes, their courtyards, their kitchens, and their sculleries. Thirdly, the Dutch were a very self-centred people. "With the Dutch," says Sir Joshua Reynolds (Discourse iv.), "a history piece is properly a portrait of themselves; whether they describe the inside or outside of their houses, we have their own people engaged in their own peculiar occupations; working or drinking, playing or fighting. The circumstances that enter into a picture of this kind, are so far from giving a general view of human life, that they exhibit all the minute particularities of a nation differing in several respects from the rest of mankind." "Those innumerable genre pieces—conversation, music, play—were in truth," says Mr. Pater, "the equivalent of novel-reading for that day; its own actual life, in its own proper circumstances, reflected in various degrees of idealisation, with no diminution of the sense of reality (that is to say), but with more and more purged and perfected delightfulness of interest. Themselves illustrating, as every student of their history knows, the good-fellowship of family life, it was the ideal of that life which these artists depicted; the ideal of home in a country where the preponderant interest of life, after all, could not well be out of doors. Of the earth earthy,[33] it[Pg 46] was an ideal very different from that which the sacred Italian painters had evoked from the life of Italy; yet, in its best types, was not without a kind of natural religiousness. And in the achievement of a type of beauty so national and vernacular, the votaries of purely Italian art might well feel that the Italianisers, like Berghem, Bol, and Jan Weenix, went so far afield in vain" (Imaginary Portraits, p. 99).

The same awakening of a national taste made itself felt in the native school of Dutch landscape—a landscape excellent in many ways, but cabin'd, cribbed, and confined, like their own dykes. "Of deities or virtues, angels, principalities, or powers, in the name of our ditches, no more. Let us have cattle, and market vegetables" (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. vi. § 11). But the Dutch School of landscape had the qualities of its defects. "The Dutch began to see what a picture their country was—its canals, and boompjis, and endless broadly-lighted meadows, and thousands of miles of quaint water-side; and their painters were the first true masters of landscape for its own sake" (Pater, ib. p. 98).


[Pg 47]

FOOTNOTES:

[31] This statement, like all others in so short and general a summary as alone can be here attempted, is of course only broadly true.

[32] It is interesting to note that this spirit of anti-religious revolt is what fascinated Heine in Dutch pictures. "In the house I lodged at in Leyden there once lived," he says, "the great Jan Steen, whom I hold to be as great as Raphael. Even as a sacred painter Jan was as great, and that will be clearly seen when the religion of sorrow has passed away.... How often, during my stay, did I think myself back for whole hours into the household scenes in which the excellent Jan must have lived and suffered. Many a time I thought I saw him bodily, sitting at his easel, now and then grasping the great jug, 'reflecting and therewith drinking, and then again drinking without reflecting.' It was no gloomy Catholic spectre that I saw, but a modern bright spirit of joy, who after death still visited his old workroom to paint many pictures and to drink" (Heine's Prose Writings, Camelot Series, p. 67).

[33] "The Dutch painters were not poets, nor the sons of poets, but their fathers rescued a Republic from the slime and covered it with such fair farms that I declare to this day I like Dutch cheese as well as any, because it sends one in imagination to the many-uddered meadows which Cuyp has embossed in gold and silver. What savoury hares and rabbits they had in the low blunt sand-hills, and how the Teniers boor snared them, and how the big-breech'd Gunn-Mann (I haven't any knowledge of Dutch, but I am sure that must be the Dutch for 'sportsman') banged off his piece at them, and then how the shining Vrow saw them in the Schopp and bargained for them. The Schopp had often a window with a green curtain in it, and a basso-relievo of Cupids and goats beneath, with a crack across the bas-relief, and iron stains on the marble, and a bright brass bulging bottle on the sill, and such pickling cabbage as makes the mouth water" (Letters of James Smetham, p. 172).

THE LATER FLEMISH SCHOOL

The early history of the Flemish school has been already traced (pp. 38-41). The birth of its later period is almost exactly contemporaneous with that which has been described in the case of the Dutch school. In 1598 the Archduke Albert and his consort Isabel established what was almost an independent State in the Spanish Netherlands (= roughly Flanders, or the modern Belgium). The "Spanish Fury" was at an end, the Inquisition was relaxed. Albert and Isabel eagerly welcomed artists and men of letters, and the exuberant art of Rubens responded to the call. This is the third and great period in the Flemish school—the succession being carried on by Rubens's pupils, Van Dyck and Teniers. Rubens, the greatest master of the Flemish School, was born in 1577 in Germany, but brought up at Antwerp, then the depository of western commerce, and he coloured every subject that he touched with the same hues of gay magnificence. It is by his pictures, and those of Van Dyck, that this room is dominated, and it is unnecessary to anticipate here the accounts of those masters given below (pp. 111, p. 130). They were painters of the Courts. The works of Teniers complete the picture of Flemish life and manners by taking us among the common people in country fairs and village taverns.

[Pg 48]


THE SPANISH SCHOOL

"For the learned and the lettered," says a Spanish author in the reign of Philip IV., "written knowledge may suffice; but for the ignorant, what master is like Painting? They may read their duty in a picture, although they cannot search for it in books."

"What we are all attempting," said Sir Joshua Reynolds, "to do with great labour, Velazquez does at once."

None of the great schools of painting is so scantily represented in the National Gallery as the Spanish, although the works in this room by its greatest master, Velazquez, are of exceptional excellence in quality and of exceptional interest as illustrating the progress of his art. The deficiency in Spanish pictures is not peculiar to London. "Spain," said Sir David Wilkie, "is the Timbuctoo of artists." The Spanish School of painters and their history are still only half explored, and can only be fully studied in Spain itself. "He who Seville (and Madrid) has not seen, has not seen the marvels great" of Spanish painting.[34]

There are, however, enough examples of the school here to make some few general remarks desirable. The first point to be noticed is this, that all the painters represented in the room (with two or three exceptions) are nearly contemporary. The period 1588-1682 covers all their lives.

[Pg 49]

They are four of the chief painters of Spain, and they all reach a high level of technical skill. This fact suggests at once the first characteristic point in the history of the Spanish School. It has no infancy.[35] It sprang full-grown into birth. The reason of this was its Italian origin. The art of painting, except as purely decorative, was forbidden to the Moors; and it was only in 1492, when the banner of Castile first hung on the towers of the Alhambra, that the age of painting, as of other greatness, began for Spain. But the very greatness of Spain led to Italian influence in art. The early Spanish painters nearly all found means of going to Italy (Theotocopuli,—1122—was born there in 1548), and the great Italian painters were constantly attracted to the Spanish court.

But though Spanish art sprang thus rapidly to perfection under foreign influence, it was yet stamped throughout with a thoroughly distinctive character. In the first place the proverbial gravity of the Spaniard is reflected also in his art. Look round this room, and see if the prevailing impression is not of something grave, dark, lurid. There is here nothing of the sweet fancifulness of the early Florentines, nothing of the gay voluptuousness of the later Venetians. The shadow of the Spaniard's dark cloak seems to be over every canvas. Then secondly, Spanish painting is intensely "naturalist." Velazquez exhibits this tendency at its best: there is an irresistible reality about his portraits which makes the men alive to all who look at them; Murillo exhibits it in its excess: his best religious pictures are spoiled by their too close adherence to ordinary and even vulgar types.

Both these characteristics are partly accounted for by a third. Painting in Spain was not so much the handmaid, as the bondslave, of the Church. As the Church was in Spain, so had art to be—monastic, severe, immutable. "To have changed an attitude or an attribute would have been a change of Deity." Pacheco, the master of Velazquez, was [Pg 50]charged by the Inquisition to see that no pictures were painted likely to disturb the true faith. Angels were on no account, he prescribed, to be drawn without wings. The feet of the Blessed Virgin were on no account to be exhibited, and she was to be dressed in blue and white, for that she was so dressed when she appeared to Beatrix de Silva, a Portuguese nun, who founded the order called after her. One sees at once how an art, working under such conditions as these, would be likely to lose free play of fancy. And then, lastly, one may note how the Spanish church tended also to make Spanish art intensely naturalistic. Pictures were expected to teach religious dogmas and to enforce mystical ideas. But, in the inevitable course of superstition, the symbol passed into a reality. This was more particularly the case with statues. Everything was done to get images accepted as realities. To this day they are not only painted but dressed: they have, like queens, their mistress of the robes. This idea of art—as something which was not to appeal to the imagination, but was to pass itself off as a reality—inevitably extended also to Spanish painting. How far it did so is best shown in a story gravely related by Pacheco. A painter on a high scaffold had just half finished the figure of the Blessed Virgin when he felt the whole woodwork on which he stood giving way. He called out in his horror, "Holy Virgin, hold me," and straightway the painted arm of the Virgin was thrust out from the wall, supporting the painter in mid-air! When a ladder was brought and the painter got his feet on it, the Virgin's arm relapsed and became again only a painting on the wall. One need not go farther than this story to see the origin of the realistic character of Spanish art, or to understand how Murillo, although often the most mystic of all painters in his conceptions of religious subjects, was also the most naturalistic in his treatment of them (see W. B. Scott: Murillo and the Spanish School of Painting).

We now pass into Rooms XVI. and XVII., where pictures of the French School are hung.


[Pg 51]

FOOTNOTES:

[34] On the ground floor small copies of many of the famous pictures at Madrid may be seen.

[35] This statement, though broadly true, requires, of course, much modification: see the early Spanish picture (of the 15th century) on loan in this room from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

THE FRENCH SCHOOL

ROOMS XVI AND XVII

Whate'er Lorraine light-touch'd with softening hue, Or savage Rosa dash'd, or learned Poussin drew.
Thomson.

Of the pictures in this room nearly all the more important are the works of three masters—Claude and the two Poussins. It is of them, therefore, that a few general remarks will here be made. It should be noticed in the first place how very different this French School of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is from the French School of to-day. The latter school is distinguished for its technical skill, which makes Paris the chief centre of art teaching in the world, but, also, and still more markedly, for its "excessive realism and gross sensuality." "A few years ago," adds Professor Middleton, "a gold medal was won at the Paris Salon by a 'naturalist' picture—a real masterpiece of technical skill. It represented Job as an emaciated old man covered with ulcers, carefully studied in the Paris hospitals for skin diseases." There could not be a greater contrast than between such art as that and the "ideal" landscapes of Claude, the Bacchanalian scenes of Poussin, or the soft girl-faces of Greuze.

[Pg 52]

Confining ourselves now to Claude and the Poussins—with whom, however, the contemporary works of Salvator Rosa (in Room XIII.) should be studied, we note that in spite of considerable differences between them they agree in marking a great advance in the art of landscape painting. The old conventionalism has now altogether disappeared; there is an attempt to paint nature as she really is. There are effects of nature, too,—not shown in any earlier pictures, and here painted for the first time,—graceful effects of foliage, smooth surface of water, diffusion of yellow sunlight. In some of these effects Claude has never been surpassed; but when his pictures are more closely examined, they are often found to be untrue to the forms of nature. Trees are not branched, nor rocks formed, nor mountains grouped as Claude and Poussin represent. Their conception of landscape, and especially of its relation to human life, is governed by the "classical ideal," to which as far as possible they made their pictures approach. This "classical" landscape is "the representation of (1) perfectly trained and civilised human life; (2) associated with perfect natural scenery, and (3) with decorative spiritual powers. (1) There are no signs in it of humiliating labour or abasing misfortune. Classical persons must be trained in all the polite arts, and, because their health is to be perfect, chiefly in the open air. Hence the architecture around them must be of the most finished kind, the rough country and ground being subdued by frequent and happy humanity. (2) Such personages and buildings must be associated with natural scenery, uninjured by storms or inclemency of climate (such injury implying interruption of the open air life); and it must be scenery conducing to pleasure, not to material service; all cornfields, orchards, olive-yards, and such-like being under the management of slaves, and the superior beings having nothing to do with them; but passing their lives under avenues of scented and otherwise delightful trees—under picturesque rocks and by clear fountains. It is curious, as marking the classical spirit, that a sailing vessel is hardly admissible, but a galley with oars is admissible, because the rowers may be conceived as absolute slaves. (3) The[Pg 53] spiritual powers in classical scenery must be decorative; ornamental gods, not governing gods; otherwise they could not be subjected to the principles of taste, but would demand reverence. In order, therefore, as far as possible, without taking away their supernatural power, to destroy their dignity ... those only are introduced who are the lords of lascivious pleasures. For the appearance of any great god would at once destroy the whole theory of classical life; therefore Pan, Bacchus, and the Satyrs, with Venus and the Nymphs, are the principal spiritual powers of the classical landscape" (abridged from Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. v. §§ 1-8).

It may be interesting to point out how entirely this ideal accords with the prevailing taste and literature of their time. The painting of Claude and Salvator precisely corresponds to what is called "pastoral poetry, that is to say, poetry written in praise of the country, by men who lived in coffee-houses and on the Mall[36]— ... the class of poetry in which a farmer's girl is spoken of as a 'nymph,' and a farmer's boy as a 'swain,' and in which, throughout, a ridiculous and unnatural refinement is supposed to exist in rural life, merely because the poet himself has neither had the courage to endure its hardships, nor the wit to conceive its realities.... Examine the novels of Smollett, Fielding, and Sterne, the comedies of Molière, and the writings of Johnson and Addison, and I do not think you will find a single expression of true delight in sublime nature in any one of them. Perhaps Sterne's Sentimental Journey, in its total absence of sentiment on any subject but humanity ... is the most striking instance; ... and if you compare with this negation of feeling on one side, the interludes of Molière, in which shepherds and shepherdesses are introduced in court dress, you will have a very accurate conception of the general spirit of the [Pg 54]age.[37] It was in such a state of society that the landscape of Claude, Gaspar Poussin, and Salvator Rosa attained its reputation. It is the complete expression on canvas of the spirit of the time" (Edinburgh Lectures on Architecture and Painting, pp. 163-167). The reputation thus gained survived unimpaired almost into the present century, until Wordsworth in poetry and Turner in painting led the return to nature, and the modern school of landscape arose.

It is, however, the art of Constable to which direct influence must be attributed in the foundation of the modern school of landscape—paysage intime—in France (see Vol. II., pp. 93-4). Of this school, wholly unrepresented until lately in our National Gallery, a few examples—characteristic, if not very important—may now be seen in Room XVII. (see Nos. 2058, 2135, etc.).

We have now concluded our survey of the Foreign Schools. The western doors in Room XVII. lead down a side staircase into the entrance Hall, and thus form an exit from the Gallery. On the staircases leading to the Hall and thence down to the basement, some foreign pictures are now placed. The visitor who wishes to see the British School should return into Room XVI. and thence proceed into the East Vestibule, where a few portraits by British masters are hung. Descending the steps and ascending those opposite, the visitor will come into the West Vestibule, which leads to the rooms of the British School—XVIII., XIX., XX., and XXI. Finally, at the east end of the Gallery, we reach Room XXII., devoted to the Turner Collection. For remarks on the British School see Volume II. From the Entrance Hall, the visitor reaches the West Basement, and by corresponding stairs on the other side the East Basement. In the Basement Rooms are collections of copies from Old Masters and the Turner Water Colours. For notes on the former, see end of this volume; for the Turners, see Volume II.


[Pg 55]

FOOTNOTES:

[36] Elsewhere Mr. Ruskin speaks of "Twickenham classicism" (with a side allusion, of course, to Pope) "consisting principally in conceptions of ancient or of rural life such as have influenced the erection of most of our suburban villas" (Pre-Raphaelitism, reprinted in On the Old Road, i. 283).

[37] In a later lecture on landscape (delivered at Oxford and reported in Cook's Studies in Ruskin, p. 290) Ruskin cited Evelyn (who was nearly contemporary with Claude) as another case in point: "We passed through a forest (of Fontainebleau)," says Evelyn, "so prodigiously encompass'd with hideous rocks of white hard stone, heaped one on another in mountainous height, that I think the like is nowhere to be found more horrid and solitary." It is interesting to note how long this ignorance of mountains lasted, even amongst painters. James Barry, the R. A., was "amazed at finding the realities of the Alps grander than the imaginations of Salvator," and writes to Edmund Burke from Turin in 1766 to say that he saw the moon from the Mont Cenis five times as big as usual, "from being so much nearer to it"!

NUMERICAL CATALOGUE, WITH BIOGRAPHICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE NOTES

N. B.—The pictures here described are pictures belonging to Foreign Schools only. The numerals refer to the numbers on the frames.

Pictures in the National Gallery to which, because they are deposited on loan or for other reasons, no numbers are attached, are described at the end of the Numerical Catalogue.

References to books in the following pages are, except where otherwise stated, to the works of Ruskin. Wherever possible, the references to his books are by sections and paragraphs, instead of by pages, so as to make them applicable to all the different editions. The references to Vasari are to Bohn's translation, 5 vols., 1855.

1. THE RAISING OF LAZARUS.

Sebastiano del Piombo (Venetian: 1485-1547).

This large picture is generally accounted the masterpiece of Sebastiano Luciani. He was called del Piombo (lead), from his holding the office of Keeper of the Leaden Seal (see No. 20). Sebastiano was originally a painter and musician at Venice, where he studied successively under John Bellini and Giorgione. But in 1512 he was[Pg 56] invited to Rome by the famous banker Agostino Chigi. Here he fell under the influence of Michael Angelo, who employed Sebastiano to execute several of his designs, and saw in him a means, says Vasari, of outdoing Raphael. The opportunity occurred when the Cardinal Giulio de' Medici commissioned Raphael to paint the "Transfiguration" (now in the Vatican), and at the same time Sebastiano to paint this picture, on the same scale, of the Raising of Lazarus. The pictures when finished were exhibited side by side, and there were some who preferred Sebastiano's. "The picture was painted," says Vasari, "with the utmost care, under the direction, and in some parts with the design, of Michael Angelo." There are in the British Museum two original drawings by Michael Angelo which are evidently preparatory studies for the figure of Lazarus; but Sebastiano cannot have painted under his friend's direction, for Michael Angelo was at Florence at the time, and Sebastiano writes to him, "There has been some delay with my work. I have endeavoured to keep it back as long as possible, that Raphael might not see it before it is finished.... But now I do not hesitate any more. I believe I shall not, with my work, bring discredit upon you." Another masterpiece of Sebastiano has recently been added to the Gallery (1450), which also contains two of his portrait pieces (20 and 24), a branch of art in which he obtained great success; Vasari particularly notices his skill in painting the head and hands.

This famous picture is especially remarkable for its dramatic unity. It is crowded with figures, but all combine to concentrate attention on the central subject. The time chosen by the painter is after the completion of the miracle: "He that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes; and his face was bound about with a napkin." Jesus in the middle of the picture is uttering the words, "Loose him, and let him go;" with his right hand Jesus points to heaven, as if he said, "I have raised thee by the power of him who sent me." The three men, who have already removed the lid of the sepulchre, are fulfilling Christ's command. The grave-clothes, by which the face of Lazarus is thrown into deep shade, express the idea of the night of the grave which but just before enveloped him; and the eye looking eagerly from beneath the shade upon Christ shows the new life in its most intellectual organ. To the left, behind Christ, is St. John, answering objections raised against the credibility of the miracle. Farther off, behind this group, is one of the Pharisees, whose unbelief is combated by the man who points in evidence to the raised Lazarus. Behind Lazarus is his sister Martha, sickening now at what she most desired; behind her[Pg 57] are other women—holding their noses.[38] At the foot of Jesus is the other sister, Mary, full of faith and gratitude—

Her eyes are homes of silent prayer, Nor other thought her mind admits But, he was dead, and there he sits, And he that brought him back is there.
Then one deep love doth supersede All other, when her ardent gaze Roves from the living brother's face, And rests upon the Life indeed.
Tennyson: In Memoriam, xxxii.

2. CEPHALUS AND PROCRIS.

Claude Lorraine (French: 1600-1682).

Claude Gellée was the son of humble parents, and to the end he was an unlettered man. He was born in the village of Champagne, in the Vosges, Duchy of Lorraine, and thence acquired the name of Le Lorrain. Lineal descendants of Claude's brother still live in the [Pg 58]village, and the house in which he was born is now preserved as a museum of relics of the painter. He was brought up, it is said, as a pastry-cook, but he entered the household of Agostino Tassi, a Perugian landscape painter, at Rome, in the capacity of general factotum, cooking his master's meals and grinding his colours. From him Claude received his first instruction in art. Subsequently he travelled to the Tyrol and to Venice—the influence of which place may be seen in the "gentle ripples of waveless seas" in his Seaports. After working for some time at Nancy, the capital of Lorraine, he returned in October 1627 to Rome, and there settled down for the remainder of his life. The house which he inhabited may still be seen at the angle of the streets Sistina and Gregoriana. Of his life at Rome many interesting particulars are given by his friend Sandrart, a German painter, who was for some years his companion. "In order," says Sandrart, "that he might be able to study closely the innermost secrets of nature, he used to linger in the open air from before daybreak even to nightfall, so that he might learn to depict with a scrupulous adherence to nature's model the changing phases of dawn, the rising and setting sun, as well as the hours of twilight.... In this most difficult and toilsome mode of study he spent many years; making excursions into the country every day, and returning even after a long journey without finding it irksome. Sometimes I have chanced to meet him amongst the steepest cliffs at Tivoli, handling the brush before those well-known waterfalls, and painting the actual scene, not by the aid of imagination or invention, but according to the very objects which nature placed[Pg 59] before him."[39] (One of these sketches is now in the British Museum.) On one expedition to Tivoli, Claude was accompanied, we know, by Poussin, but for the most part he lived a secluded life; "he did not," says Sandrart, "in everyday life much affect the civilities of polite society." Such seclusion must partly have been necessary to enable Claude to cope with the commissions that crowded in upon him. For the Pope Urban VIII. he painted the four pictures now in the Louvre, and the three succeeding popes were all among his patrons. So was Cardinal Mazarin and the Duke of Bouillon, the Papal Commander-in-Chief, for whom amongst other pictures he painted two (12 and 14) in this Gallery. England was a great buyer of his works: nineteen were ordered from here in 1644 alone; and commissions came also from Denmark and the Low Countries. One sees the pressure of a busy man in the number of "stock" subjects which he repeated. He suffered much too from forgers, and it was partly to check the sale of fictitious Claudes that he prepared his "Liber Veritatis"—a collection of drawings of all his pictures, now in the possession of the Duke of Devonshire. Two hundred and seventy more of his drawings may be seen in the British Museum. For his figures, however, he was glad of outside help, and many painters put these in for him. The soft, pensive, and almost feminine charm which characterises his landscapes well agree with what we know of his life. He was passionately fond of music. To a little girl, "living with me and brought up in my house in charity," he bequeathed much of his treasures. He had received also a poor, lame lad into his house, whom he instructed in painting and music, and who rewarded him by demanding arrears of salary for "assistance." Towards his poor relations he was uniformly generous, and when Sandrart left him it was a nephew from the Vosges whom he called to keep house for him.

With regard to the characteristics of Claude's art, his general position in the history of landscape painting has been defined in the chapter on the French School, and some further points of detail are noticed under his several works. Here, however, it may be convenient to give Ruskin's summary of the matter. (1) Claude had a fine feeling for beauty of form, and is seldom ungraceful in his foliage. His tenderness of conception is especially shown in delicate aerial effects, such as no one had ever rendered before, and in some respects, no one has ever done in oil-colour since. But their character appears to rise rather from a delicacy of bodily constitution in Claude than from any mental sensibility; such as they are, they give a kind of feminine charm to his work, which partly accounts for its wide influence. To whatever their character may be traced, it renders him incapable of enjoying or painting [Pg 60]anything energetic or terrible. Thus a perfectly genuine and untouched sky of Claude is beyond praise in all qualities of air. But he was incapable of rendering great effects of space and infinity. (2) As with his skies, so too with his seas. They are the finest pieces of water painting in ancient art. But they are selections of the particular moment when the sea is most insipid and characterless. (3) He had sincerity of purpose; but in common with the other landscape painters of his day, neither earnestness, humility, nor love, such as would ever cause him to forget himself. Hence there is in his work no simple or honest record of any single truth, and his pictures, when examined with reference to essential truth, are one mass of error from beginning to end. So far as he felt the truth, he tried to be true; but he never felt it enough to sacrifice supposed propriety, or habitual method, to it. Very few of his sketches and none of his pictures show evidence of interest in other natural phenomena than the quiet afternoon sunshine which would fall methodically into a composition.[40] One would suppose he had never seen scarlet in a morning cloud, nor a storm burst on the Apennines. (4) He shows a peculiar incapacity of understanding the main point of a matter, and of men of name is the best instance of a want of imagination, nearly total, borne out by painful but untaught study of nature, and much feeling for abstract beauty of form, with none whatever for harmony of expression. (5) Yet in spite of all his deficiencies Claude effected a revolution in art. This revolution consisted in setting the sun in heaven. We will give him the credit of this with no drawbacks.[41] Till Claude's time no one had seriously thought of painting the sun but conventionally; that is so say, as a red or yellow star (often), with a face in it, under which type it was constantly represented in illumination; else it was kept out of the picture, or introduced in fragmentary distances, breaking through clouds with almost definite rays. Claude first set it in the pictorial heaven (collected from Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. i. ch. vii. §§ 3, 5, 14, sec. iii. ch. i. § 9, ch. iii. §§ 13-15, 17; vol. ii. pt. iii. sec. ii. ch. ii. § 18; vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. xviii. §§ 22, 27, and Appendix i.; vol. v. pt. ix. ch. v. §§ 10, 11). This summary should show that it is a mistake to represent Ruskin as blind to the merits of Claude. He has done full justice to Claude's amenity and pensive grace; to the beauty of his skies and the skill and charm of his aerial effects. At the time when Ruskin began to write Modern Painters, Claude was still accounted the prince of all landscape [Pg 61]painters. The estimate of Claude against which Ruskin protested may be found in Goethe. "Claude Lorraine," he said, "knew the real world thoroughly, even to its smallest detail, and he made use of it to express the world contained in his own beautiful soul. He stands to nature in a double relation,—he is both her slave and her master: her slave, by the material means which he is obliged to employ to make himself understood; her master, because he subordinates these material means to a well reasoned inspiration, to which he makes them serve as instruments." And elsewhere, Goethe expresses his admiration for the depth and grasp of Claude's powers. Ruskin, in vindicating the greater sweep and depth of Turner's genius, fastened with all the emphasis of an advocate upon the weak points in Claude's artistic and intellectual armoury. By so doing he cleared the ground for a truer appreciation of Claude. As a corrective or supplement to Ruskin's adverse criticisms, the reader may be referred to Constable's enthusiastic appreciations. "I do not wonder," wrote Constable to his wife, "at you being jealous of Claude. If anything could come between our love, it is him.... The Claudes, the Claudes are all, all, I can think of here" (Leslie's Life of Constable, 1845, p. 121). Constable was writing from Sir George Beaumont's house, where several of the Claudes, now in the National Gallery, were then hanging. Constable, however, was alive to some of Claude's defects. "Claude's exhilaration and light," he wrote to Leslie, "departed from him when he was between fifty and sixty, and he then became a professor of the 'higher walks of art,' and fell in a great degree into the manner of the painters around him; so difficult is it to be natural, so easy to be superior in our own opinion. When we have the pleasure of being together at the National Gallery I think I shall not find it difficult to illustrate these remarks, as Carr has sent a large picture of the latter description" (ibid., p. 221). The picture in question is No. 6, painted in 1658.

For the story of Cephalus, who is here receiving from Procris the presents of Diana, the hound Lelaps, and the fatal dart with which she was killed, see under 698. As for the landscape, Mr. Ruskin cites this picture as an instance of the "childishness and incompetence" of Claude's foregrounds.

"I will not," he writes, "say anything of the agreeable composition of the three banks, rising one behind another from the water, except only that it amounts to a demonstration that all three were painted in the artist's study, without any reference to nature whatever. In fact, there is quite enough intrinsic evidence in each of them to prove this, seeing that what appears to be meant for vegetation upon them amounts to nothing more than a green stain on their surfaces, the more evidently false because the leaves of the trees twenty yards farther off are all perfectly visible and distinct; and that the sharp lines with[Pg 62] which each cuts against that beyond it are not only such as crumbling earth could never show or assume, but are maintained through their whole progress ungraduated, unchanging, and unaffected by any of the circumstances of varying shade to which every one of nature's lines is inevitably subjected. In fact the whole arrangement is the impotent struggle of a tyro to express by successive edges that approach of earth which he finds himself incapable of expressing by the drawing of the surface. Claude wished to make you understand that the edge of his pond came nearer and nearer; he had probably often tried to do this with an unbroken bank, or a bank only varied by the delicate and harmonious anatomy of nature: and he had found that owing to his total ignorance of the laws of perspective such efforts on his part invariably ended in his reducing his pond to the form of a round O, and making it look perpendicular. Much comfort and solace of mind in such unpleasant circumstances may be derived from instantly dividing the obnoxious bank into a number of successive promontories, and developing their edges with completeness and intensity" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. iv. ch. iv. §§ 17, 18).

3. A CONCERT.

School of Titian (Venetian). See under next picture.

The young man in the red velvet cap plays on the violoncello; the other on the oboe, of which only the reed is visible. The other three are vocalists. The master is keeping time, and is intent on the boy pupil. The young girl, with her hand on her husband's shoulder, is waiting to chime in, and looks far away the while to where the music takes her. "In Titian's portraits you always see the soul,—faces 'which pale passion loves.' Look at the Music-piece by Titian—it is 'all ear,'—the expression is evanescent as the sounds—the features are seen in a sort of dim chiaroscuro, as if the confused impressions of another sense intervened—and you might easily suppose some of the performers to have been engaged the night before in

Mask or midnight serenade Which the starved lover to his mistress sings Best quitted with disdain."
(Hazlitt: Criticisms on Art, edition 1843, p. 10).

[Pg 63]

Perhaps it is indeed a travelling party of musicians practising for a serenade. Certainly one thinks of this picture as one reads of a supper party at Titian's house. "Before the tables were set out, we spent the time in looking at the lifelike figures in the excellent paintings of which the house was full, and in discussing the real beauty and charm of the garden, which was a pleasure and a wonder to every one. It is situated in the extreme part of Venice upon the sea, and from it may be seen the pretty little island of Murano, and other beautiful places. This part of the sea, as soon as the sun went down, swarmed with gondolas adorned with beautiful women, and resounded with varied harmonies—the music of voices and instruments till midnight" (Priscianese, describing a visit to Titian in 1540: cited in Heath's Titian, "Great Artists" series, p. 53).

4. A HOLY FAMILY.

Titian (Venetian: 1477-1576).

Tiziano Vecellio—"il divino Tiziano," as his countrymen called him—is one of the greatest names in the history of painting: "There is a strange undercurrent of everlasting murmur about his name, which means the deep consent of all great men that he is greater than they" (Two Paths, § 57). Titian's works "are not art," said one of his contemporaries, "but miracles; they make upon me the impression of something divine, and as heaven is the soul's paradise, so God has transfused into Titian's colours the paradise of our bodies." It is not easy, however, to point out the special characteristics of Titian, for it is his glory to offer nothing over-prominent and to keep "in all things the middle path of perfection." Titian's mind was "wholly realist, universal, and manly. He saw that sensual passion in man was not only a fact, but a Divine fact; the human creature, though the highest of the animals, was, nevertheless, a perfect animal, and his happiness, health, and nobleness depended on the due power of every animal passion, as well as the cultivation of every spiritual tendency" (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. iii. § 30). As a youth Titian worked under the influence of Giorgione, of whom (says Vasari), "they who were excellent confessed that he was born to put the breath of life into painted figures and to imitate the elasticity and colour of flesh." The so-called "Sacred and Profane Love" of Titian marks the culmination of his "Giorgionesque" style, in which sensuous delight and spiritual yearning are mixed in subtle harmony. The "Bacchus and Ariadne" of our own Gallery belongs to a somewhat later date, and is a combination of poetry and painting almost unique in the[Pg 64] world of art. "One object," says Sir Frederick Burton,[42] "Titian kept steadily before him from the beginning—the rendering of the lustre of the skin in its warmth, its pearliness, and its light, such as it is found in the European races, and nowhere perhaps in such perfection as in the blended northern and southern blood of Venetia. He presents to us humanity in its noblest and most beautiful forms, and so profoundly had he studied it that the ideal personages introduced in his pictures have an intense individuality. Naturally, therefore, he stands supreme amongst the great portrait-painters. In the department of landscape he was, if not the first to perceive, at least the first to render, nature in her sublimer aspects. When dealing with classical themes he thoroughly translated the spirit, without idly imitating the forms, of antiquity." And as the range of his intellectual sympathy was wide, so was that of his executive skill. He is, indeed, especially supreme as a colourist; but for the rest, the very greatness of the master lies in there being no one quality predominant in him. Raphael's power is properly called "Raphaelesque," but "Titian's power is simply the power of doing right. Whatever came before Titian, he did wholly as it ought to be done" (Two Paths, §§ 57, 58, 69).

This universality of Titian's art is reflected in his life—a life prolonged far beyond the ordinary human spell, and full to the end of "superhuman toil." He was sent from his country home at Cadore to Venice to begin his studies when quite a boy: he was only nine, it is said, when he entered Gentile Bellini's studio. He lived to be ninety-nine, and his life was one long education. He was nearly threescore years and ten when he visited Rome and saw Michael Angelo, but he "had greatly improved," he said in later years, "after he had been at Rome." He painted until his dying hour, and is said to have exclaimed at the last that he was "only then beginning to understand what painting was." This continual striving after perfection, this consciousness of falling short, is in striking contrast to the honour and glory paid to him by others. He was painter in ordinary to the Venetian State (a post in which he succeeded Giovanni Bellini). He was an honoured guest at the court of Alphonso I., Duke of Ferrara, for whom he painted the "Bacchus and Ariadne" (35). To the Emperor Charles V. he "stood as Apelles to Alexander the Great, the only man worthy to paint his royal master," and he was made Count Palatine and Knight of the Golden Spur, with precedence for his children as nobles of the Empire. The emperor's son, Philip II. (of Spain), was an equally generous patron; the Pope Paul III. tried hard to induce Titian to settle in Rome; and Henry III. of France, [Pg 65]who visited him at his own house, wished the picture on which the painter was then at work to be placed over his tomb. In his house at Venice Titian lived in great style, attracting kings and nobles and men of letters to him. There is all the keenness of a city of merchants in Titian's business relations, and many of the extant documents about him are petitions for further favours and for arrears of pensions. But if he gathered like a beggar, he spent like a prince. There is a story of two cardinals coming to dine at his house. He flung his purse to the steward, and bade him make ready, for "all the world was coming to dine with him." Certain too it is that if he knocked too much at the doors of princes, it was for the sake of his children rather than of himself. At the loss of his wife (when he was fifty-seven) he was "utterly disconsolate," says the letter of a friend. His sister Orsa afterwards kept house for him—"sister, daughter, mother, companion, and steward of his household," so Aretino described her; and it was his daughter Lavinia whom he oftenest loved to paint. She was "the person dearest to him in all the world," and many years after she had died (1560) in childbirth, he described her to Philip II. as "absolute mistress of his soul." A less pleasant light is thrown upon the great painter by his friendship and close association with the infamous Aretino. This curious product of the Renaissance came to Venice in 1527, and with Titian and Jacopo del Sansovino formed "the so-called Triumvirate, which was a kind of Council of Three, having as its raison d'être the mutual furtherance of material interests, and the pursuit of art, love, and pleasure." To Titian's association with Aretino some critics have ascribed the stronger vein of sensuality which is discernible in some of his later works. To the extreme limit, however, of his long life his hand never lost its cunning, nor was the force of imagination abated. He was carried off by the plague, and received even in that time of panic the honour of solemn obsequies in the church of the Frari—"the man as highly favoured," says Vasari, "by fortune as any of his kind had ever been before him." His house at Venice is still shown. It looks across the lagoons to the distant mountains of his early home.

One of the pictures which mark the advance made by Titian in the art of landscape. Look at the background of some earlier Holy Family—at the "purist" landscape, for instance, of Perugino (288),—and the change will be seen at once—a change from the conventional or ideal to the real and the actual. Titian was one of the first to "relieve the foreground of his landscapes from the grotesque, quaint, and crowded formalism of the early painters, and give a close approximation to the forms of nature in all things; retaining, however, this much of the old system, that the distances were for the most part painted in deep ultramarine blue, the foregrounds in[Pg 66] rich green and brown" (Lectures on Architecture and Painting, p. 158). In particular he was the first[43] to "apprehend the subduing pathos that comes with eventide" (see Gilbert's Cadore or Titian's Country, p. 33). Titian, says Ruskin (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ii. § 1, ch. vii. § 15), "hardly ever paints sunshine, but a certain opalescent twilight which has as much of human emotion as of imitative truth in it:

The clouds that gather round the setting sun Do take a sober colouring from an eye That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality."

5. A SEAPORT AT SUNSET.

Claude Lorraine (French: 1600-1682). See 2.

An instance of false tone (cf. under Cuyp, No. 53). "Many even of the best pictures of Claude must be looked close into to be felt, and lose light every foot that we retire. The smallest of the three Seaports in the National Gallery is valuable and right in tone when we are close to it, but ten yards off it is all brick-dust, offensively and evidently false in its whole hue." Contrast "the perfect and unchanging influence of Turner's picture at any distance. We approach only to follow the sunshine into every cranny of the leafage, and retire only to feel it diffused over the scene, the whole picture glowing like a sun or star at whatever distance we stand, and lighting the air between us and it" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. ii. ch. i. § 20).

6. DAVID AT THE CAVE OF ADULLAM.[44]

Claude Lorraine (French: 1600-1682). See 2.

David, in front of the cave, "longed and said, 'Oh that one would give me to drink of the water of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!' And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines (seen in the valley), and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and [Pg 67]brought it to David" (2 Samuel xxiii. 15, 16). With regard to the landscape, the picture is a good instance at once of Claude's strength and weakness. Thus "the central group of trees is a very noble piece of painting" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. iv. ch. ii. § 8). On the other hand the rocks, both in the left corner and in the right, are highly absurd. "The Claudesque landscape is not, as so commonly supposed, an idealised abstract of the nature about Rome. It is an ultimate condition of the Florentine conventional landscape, more or less softened by reference to nature" (ibid., vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. xviii. § 27). So, too, "the brown foreground and rocks are as false as colour can be: first, because there never was such a brown sunlight, for even the sand and cinders (volcanic tufa) about Naples, granting that he had studied from these ugliest of all formations, are, where they are fresh fractured, golden and lustrous in full light, compared to these ideals of crags, and become, like all other rocks, quiet and gray when weathered; and secondly, because no rock that ever nature stained is without its countless breaking tints of varied vegetation" (ibid., vol. i. pt. ii. sec. ii. ch. ii. § 16).

7, 37. GROUPS OF HEADS.

After Correggio. See under 10.

Copies by Annibale Carracci from Correggio's compositions in the church of S. Giovanni at Parma (Layard's edition of Kugler's Italian School of Painting, ii. 631). These pictures have had an eventful history, and been connected with the fortunes of many sovereigns. They came to the National Gallery from Mr. Angerstein, who bought them from the Orleans collection. They had formerly been in the possession of Queen Christina, having been carried off to Sweden as part of the plunder of Prague when that city was captured by the Swedes in 1648. The pictures collected there by the Emperor Rudolph II. were removed to Stockholm.

8. A DREAM OF HUMAN LIFE.

From a design by Michael Angelo. See 790.

The naked figure, typical of the human race, and reclining against a slippery globe,—with the world, we may say, before him,—is awakening, at the sound of a trumpet from above[Pg 68] from the dream of life to the lasting realities of eternity. It may be the sound of the "last trump" or the call to a "new life" that comes before. Behind his seat are several masks, illustrating the insincerity or duplicity of a world in which "all is vanity"; and around him are visions of the tempting and transitory hopes, fears, and vices of humanity. On the right sits a helmed warrior, moody and discomfited; his arms hang listlessly and his face is unseen—hidden perhaps from the cruelty of War. Above him are battling figures—emblematic of Strife and Contention. A little detached from this group is a son dragging down his parent by the beard—"bringing his grey hair with sorrow to the grave." On the other side sits Jealousy, gnawing a heart; and above are the sordid hands of Avarice clutching a bag of gold. On the left hand Lust and Sorrow are conspicuous; Intemperance raises a huge bottle to his lips; and Gluttony turns a spit (see Landseer's Catalogue of the National Gallery, 1834, p. 41). Thus all around the figure of Human Life there wait—

The ministers of human fate And black Misfortune's baleful train!... These shall the fury Passions tear, The vultures of the mind, Disdainful Anger, pallid Fear, And shame that sculks behind; Or pining Love shall waste their youth, Or Jealousy, with rankling tooth, That inly gnaws the secret heart; And Envy wan, and faded Care, Grim-visag'd comfortless Despair, And Sorrow's piercing dart.
Gray: Ode on a distant prospect of Eton College.

9. "LORD, WHITHER GOEST THOU?"

Annibale Carracci (Eclectic-Bologna: 1560-1609).

Annibale, younger brother of Agostino and cousin of Lodovico Carracci, was one of the three masters of the Eclectic School at Bologna, the characteristics of which have been discussed in the chapter on the Later Italian Schools. Annibale, the most distinguished of the family as a painter, was the son of a tailor and was intended for his father's business. He went off, however, to his cousin Lodovico, with whom he devoted himself to art. In 1580 he visited Parma, where he spent three years in studying the works of Correggio. The copies noticed above (7 and 37) were perhaps made at this time.[Pg 69] Annibale afterwards studied in Venice. In 1589 the school of the Carracci was started at Bologna. They called it the Incamminati, or, as we might say, "The Right Road." In 1600 Annibale was invited to Rome by the Cardinal Odoardo Farnese to decorate his palace. Here, we are told, "he was received and treated as a gentleman, and was granted the usual table allowance of a courtier." He was assisted in the Farnese frescoes by Lanfranco, by Domenichino (then a young man), and by his brother Agostino, of whom, however, he was very jealous (see under 147). He died in 1609, and was buried near Raphael in the Pantheon. The frescoes of the Carracci in the Farnese palace were preferred by Poussin to all the works in Rome after those of Raphael, and they undoubtedly possess many technical merits. The subject-pictures by Annibale in our Gallery will fail greatly to please; they are academical and unindividual, and are deficient in true enthusiasm. Annibale was one of the first to practise landscape-painting as a separate department of art. In this field the influence of the Netherlands and of Venice may be seen united in Carracci's pictures, which in their turn laid the foundation for Poussin and Claude. In our Gallery Annibale is seen at his best in the two poetic subjects painted for a harpsichord (93 and 94); these are both graceful and spirited.

The Apostle Peter, according to a Roman tradition, being terrified at the danger which threatened him in Rome, betook himself to flight. On the Via Appia our Saviour appeared to him bearing his cross. To Peter's question: Domine quo vadis? ("Lord, whither goest Thou?") Christ replied, "To Rome, to suffer again crucifixion." Upon which the apostle retraced his steps, and received the crown of martyrdom. So much for the subject. As for its treatment, the note of almost comic exaggeration in St. Peter's attitude will not fail to strike the spectator; and "there is this objection to be made to the landscape, that, though the day is breaking over the distant hills and pediment on the right hand, there must be another sun somewhere out of the picture on the left hand, since the cast shadows from St. Peter and the Saviour fall directly to the right" (Landseer's Catalogue, p. 193).

10. THE EDUCATION OF CUPID.

Correggio (Parmese: 1494-1534).

Antonio Allegri—called Il Correggio from his birthplace, a small town near Modena—is one of the most distinctive of the old masters. What is it that constitutes what Carlyle (following Sterne) calls the[Pg 70] "Correggiosity of Correggio"? It is at once a way peculiar to him amongst artists, of looking at the world, and an excellence, peculiar to him also, in his methods of painting. Correggio "looked at the world in a single mood of sensuous joy," as a place in which everything is full of happy life and soft pleasure. The characteristics of his style are "sidelong grace," and an all-pervading sweetness. The method, peculiar to him, by which he realised this way of looking at things on canvas, is the subtle gradation of colours,—a point, it is interesting to note, in which of all modern masters Leighton most nearly resembles him (Art of England, p. 98). "Correggio is," says Ruskin, "the captain of the painter's art as such. Other men have nobler or more numerous gifts, but as a painter, master of the art of laying colour so as to be lovely, Correggio is alone" (Oxford Lectures on Art, § 177). The circumstances of Correggio's life go far to explain the individuality of his style. He was the son of a modest, peaceful burgher, and Correggio and Parma, where he spent his life, were towns removed from the greater intellectual excitements and political revolutions of his time. Ignorant of society, unpatronised by Popes or great Princes, his mind was touched by no deep passion other than love for his art, and "like a poet hidden in the light of thought," he worked out for himself the ideals of grace and movement which live in his pictures (see Symonds, Renaissance, iii. 248). Of the details of his life little is known. His earliest works, as Morelli first demonstrated, reveal the influence of the Ferrarese masters, nor was he untouched by the creations of Mantegna at Mantua, where he studied for two or three years. In 1514, in his twentieth year, he was entrusted with an important commission by the Minorite Friars of Correggio. The Court of Correggio was then a centre of refinement and culture, under the rule of Giberto and his wife Veronica, who was one of the most accomplished women of the day, and greatly admired "our Antonio," as she called the painter. In 1518 Correggio left his native city for Parma, which was to become for ever associated with his name. "There is little reason," says his latest biographer, "to lament that he never visited Rome or any other great city. Parma, rising in smiling tranquillity upon her fertile plains, girdled by castles and villages, and looking out upon the vaporous line of hills from which the streams which give her water descend into the champaign, offered our painter not only the serenity that suited his temperament, but a vaster field of activity than had ever been allotted to any artist. There were altar-pieces to be painted, rooms to be decorated; and the joyous fancies of his genius were to be allowed ample scope in the decoration of two stately cupolas" (Ricci). He was first employed by the Abbess of the Convent of S. Paolo to paint her principal chamber. It is characteristic of the time that the subjects selected were from pagan mythology. Afterwards Correggio was commissioned to cover with frescoes the cupolas of the Church of S. Giovanni Evangelista, and of the cathedral. In these compositions, Correggio "carries the foreshortening of the figures to a point which, while it displays the daring of the artist, too often transcends the limits[Pg 71] of grace." Seen from below, little of the figures is sometimes distinguishable except legs and arms in vehement commotion. When one of the frescoes in the cathedral was first uncovered, a canon is said to have remarked that it looked to him like a "fricassee of frogs." But many of the angels' heads in Correggio's frescoes are exquisitely beautiful. It is only in Parma that Correggio's power can be fully appreciated. His charm is to be found rather in his oil-paintings, and in these the National Gallery possesses some acknowledged masterpieces. In 1530 Correggio lost his wife, and returned to his native town. "Although by nature good and well-disposed, he nevertheless," says Vasari, "grieved more than was reasonable under the burden of those passions which are common to all men. He was very melancholic in the exercise of his art, and felt its fatigues greatly." His life was but little longer than that of Raphael, for he died in his forty-first year. The stories of his poverty given in many biographies appear to be ill-founded. He was in constant employment; he was treated as a person of consideration, and received good remuneration; and the Governor of Parma wrote to the Duke of Mantua on the painter's death, "I hear he has made comfortable provision for his heirs." His fame was great, and has been enduring; but his influence upon later art was not fortunate. "His successors, attracted by an intoxicating loveliness which they could not analyse, threw themselves blindly into the imitation of Correggio's faults.... Cupolas through the length and breadth of Italy began to be covered with clouds and simpering cherubs in the convulsions of artificial ecstasy. The attenuated elegance of Parmigiano, the attitudinising of Anselmi's saints and angels, and a general sacrifice of what is solid and enduring to sentimental gewgaws on the part of all painters who had submitted to the magic of Correggio, proved how easy it was to go astray with the great master. Meanwhile, no one could approach him in that which was truly his own—the delineation of a transient moment in the life of sensuous beauty, the painting of a smile on Nature's face, when light and colour tremble in harmony with the movement of joyous living creatures" (Symonds: Sketches and Studies in Italy and Greece, ii. 158).

One of the most celebrated works in the Gallery—"the two pictures which I would last part with out of it," Ruskin once said, "would be Titian's Bacchus and Correggio's Venus." It is a great picture first because it is true to nature. "Look at the foot of Venus. Correggio made it as like a foot as he could, and you won't easily find anything liker.... Great civilised art is always the representation, to the utmost of its power, of whatever it has got to show—made to look as like the thing as possible" (Queen of the Air, § 163). Notice, too, the roundness of effect produced in the limbs by the gradation of full colours, the reflected lights, and the trans[Pg 72]parent shadows. The "chiaroscuro" is so clever that you can look through the shadows into the substance.

As for the subject of the picture, Mercury, the messenger of the gods (dressed therefore in his winged cap and sandals), is endeavouring to teach Cupid (Love) his letters, of which, according to the Greek story, Mercury was the inventor. Venus, the Goddess of Beauty and the Mother of Love, looks out to the spectator with a winning smile of self-complacent loveliness and points us to the child. She has taken charge meanwhile of Cupid's bow (from which he shoots his arrows into lovers' hearts), and is herself represented (as sometimes in classical gems) with wings, for Beauty has wings to fly away as well as Time and Love. The picture is sometimes called the Education of Cupid, but Love learns through the heart and not through the head, and "if you look at this most perfect picture wisely, you will see that it really ought to be called 'Mercury trying, and failing, to teach Cupid to read,' for indeed from the beginning and to the end of time, Love reads without letters, and counts without arithmetic" (Fors Clavigera, viii. 238).

This famous picture has had a strange, eventful history. It was painted in 1521 or 1522, and a century later it was still in the Ducal Gallery at Mantua. In 1625 Charles I. of England despatched his music master, Nicholas Laniere, to Italy to buy pictures for him. Laniere communicated with a picture-dealer named Nys, who purchased several works from the Mantuan gallery. When the transaction became known, the citizens took it so ill that the Duke would have paid double the money to be rid of the bargain. But Nys would not relent, and the picture was included in the artistic freight which the ship Margaret took to London in 1628. On its arrival, our picture was hung in the king's private apartments in Whitehall. When he was beheaded, and his collection sold, the Correggio was bought for £40 by the Duke of Alva, and taken to Spain. It afterwards passed through several collections, and ultimately into that of Murat, King of Naples. Upon his fall from power his wife took it with her when she escaped to Vienna. During the congress of sovereigns in 1822 her chamberlain communicated with the ministers of all the Powers, with a view to the sale of this and another Correggio (15). Russia was negotiating for the purchase of them when Lord Londonderry, hearing by mere accident of the[Pg 73] affair, went to the chamberlain, paid the larger price against which Russia was holding out, and despatched his courier post haste to Vienna to convey the treasures to England. An attempt was made to stop him, but they reached this country almost before the Russians had heard of the purchase.[45] The picture has not come unscathed out of these changes and chances. "Repairs," says Sir Edward Poynter, "are visible in many places. Injudicious cleaning has done even more injury; and it has undoubtedly been deprived of much of that final delicate surface-painting which, in the hands of a great master, does so much to unite a picture into one harmonious whole. It remains, nevertheless, one of the most distinguished works in the collection" (The National Gallery, i. 4).

11. ST. JEROME.

Guido Reni (Eclectic-Bologna: 1575-1642).

Guido was a native of Bologna, the son of a musician, and first studied under Dionysius Calvaert, a Flemish artist established in that city. Guido afterwards removed to the school of the Carracci, and became one of their most celebrated pupils. For twenty years he worked in Rome, where he obtained great distinction. He left Rome abruptly, owing to a dispute with one of the Cardinals, and settled in Bologna, where he lived in splendour and established a school. "As a child he was very beautiful, with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a fair complexion. He was specially characterised by devotion to the Madonna. On every Christmas-eve, for seven successive years, ghostly knockings were heard upon his chamber door; and every night, when he awoke from sleep, the darkness above his bed was illuminated by a mysterious globe of light. In after life, besides being piously addicted to Madonna-worship, he had a great dread of women in general and witches in particular. He was always careful, it is said, to leave his studio door open while drawing from a woman" (Symonds's Renaissance, vii. 215). To the temperament thus indicated we may trace the half-effeminate, half-spiritual character of some [Pg 74]of his works—the "few pale rays of fading sanctity," which Ruskin sees in him (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. iv. § 4). In later life his effeminate eccentricity amounted to insanity, and he gave himself wholly up to the gaming table. To extricate himself from money troubles he sold his time, says his biographer, at a stipulated sum per hour, to certain dealers, one of whom tasked him so rigidly as to stand by him, watch in hand, while he worked. How different from the honourable terms on which the earlier masters worked! How easy to understand the number of bad Guidos in the world! His biographer, Malvasia, relates that Guido's works were sometimes begun and finished in three hours. His earlier works were in the robust and forcible style of Caravaggio (see No. 172). Afterwards he aimed rather at ideal grace. Both styles are represented in the National Gallery; the "Magdalen" (177), the "Youthful Christ embracing St. John" (191), and the "Ecce Homo" (271), have all been much admired for their sentiment or sentimentality. The head of St. John is a work of undoubted grace. But Guido's best work is the Aurora of the Rospigliosi Palace at Rome.

For the story of St. Jerome, see under 227.

12. ISAAC AND REBECCA, OR "THE MILL."[46]

Claude (French: 1600-1682). See 2.

This and the Claude on the other side of the door (14) are of peculiar interest as being the two which Turner selected for "the noble passage of arms to which he challenged his rival from the grave." He left two of his own pictures (479 and 498) to the nation on the express condition that they should always hang side by side—as they are hanging to-day—with these two by Claude.[47] To discuss fully the comparative merits [Pg 75]of the pictures would be beyond the scope of this handbook; the whole of the first volume of Modern Painters was written to establish the superiority of Turner. We can only select a few leading points.

"The greatest picture is that which conveys the greatest number of the greatest ideas." Take first what Ruskin calls "ideas of relation," by which he means "the perception of intellectual relations, including everything productive of expression, sentiment, character." Now from this point of view this picture is a particularly clear instance of Claude's "inability to see the main point in a matter" or to present any harmonious conception:—

"The foreground is a piece of very lovely and perfect forest scenery, with a dance of peasants by a brook side; quite enough subject to form, in the hands of a master, an impressive and complete picture. On the other side of the brook, however, we have a piece of pastoral life; a man with some bulls and goats tumbling headforemost into the water, owing to some sudden paralytic affection of all their legs. Even this group is one too many; the shepherd had no business to drive his flock so near the dancers, and the dancers will certainly frighten the cattle. But when we look farther into the picture, our feelings receive a sudden and violent shock, by the unexpected appearance, amidst things pastoral and musical, of the military; a number of Roman soldiers riding in on hobby-horses, with a leader on foot, apparently encouraging them to make an immediate and decisive charge on the musicians. Beyond the soldiers is a circular temple, in exceedingly bad repair; and close beside it, built against its very walls, a neat watermill in full work. By the mills flows a large river with a weir all across it. The weir has not been made for the mill (for that[Pg 76] receives its water from the hills by a trough carried over the temple), but it is particularly ugly and monotonous in its line of fall, and the water below forms a dead-looking pond, on which some people are fishing in punts. The banks of this river resemble in contour the later geological formations around London, constituted chiefly of broken pots and oyster-shells. At an inconvenient distance from the waterside stands a city, composed of twenty-five round towers and a pyramid. Beyond the city is a handsome bridge; beyond the bridge, part of the Campagna, with fragments of aqueducts; beyond the Campagna the chain of the Alps; on the left, the cascades of Tivoli. This is, I believe, a fair example of what is commonly called an 'ideal' landscape; i.e. a group of the artist's studies from Nature, individually spoiled, selected with such opposition of character as may ensure their neutralising each other's effect, and united with sufficient unnaturalness and violence of association to ensure their producing a general sensation of the impossible. Let us analyse the separate subjects a little in this ideal work of Claude's. Perhaps there is no more impressive scene on earth than the solitary extent of the Campagna of Rome under evening light.... A dull purple poisonous haze stretches level along the desert, veiling its spectral wrecks of massy ruins, on whose rents the red light rests, like dying fire on defiled altars. The blue ridge of the Alban Mount lifts itself against a solemn space of green, clear, quiet sky. Watch-towers of dark clouds stand steadfastly along the promontories of the Apennines. From the plain to the mountains the shattered aqueducts, pier beyond pier, melt into darkness, like shadowy and countless troops of funeral mourners, passing from a nation's grave. Let us, with Claude, make a few 'ideal' alterations in this landscape. First, we will reduce the multitudinous precipices of the Apennines to four sugar loaves. Secondly, we will remove the Alban Mount, and put a large dust-heap in its stead. Next we will knock down the greater part of the aqueducts, and leave only an arch or two, that their infinity of length may no longer be painful from its monotony. For the purple mist and declining sun, we will substitute a bright blue sky, with round white clouds. Finally, we will get rid of the unpleasant ruins in the foreground; we will plant some handsome trees therein, we will send for some fiddlers, and get up a dance, and a picnic party. It will be found, throughout the picture, that the same species of improvement is made on the materials which Claude had ready to his hand. The descending slopes of the city of Rome, towards the pyramid of Caius Cestius, supply not only lines of the most exquisite variety and beauty, but matter for contemplation and reflection in every fragment of their buildings. This passage has been idealised by Claude into a set of similar round towers, respecting which no idea can be formed but that they are uninhabitable, and to which no interest can be attached beyond the difficulty of conjecturing what they could have been built for. The ruins of the temple are rendered unimpressive by the juxtaposition of the watermill, and inexplicable by the introduction of the Roman soldiers. The glide[Pg 77] of the muddy streams of the melancholy Tiber and Anio through the Campagna is impressive in itself, but altogether ceases to be so when we disturb their stillness of motion by a weir, adorn their neglected flow with a handsome bridge, and cover their solitary surface with punts, nets, and fishermen" (Modern Painters, vol i., preface to second edition, pp. xxxvi.-xxxix.)

Take next the "ideas of truth" in the picture—the perception, that is to say, of faithfulness in a statement of facts by the thing produced. And first (1) for truth of colour. "Can it be seriously supposed that those murky browns and melancholy greens are representative of the tints of leaves under full noonday sun? I know that you cannot help looking upon all these pictures as pieces of dark relief against a light wholly proceeding from the distances; but they are nothing of the kind, they are noon and morning effects with full lateral light. Be so kind as to match the colour of a leaf in the sun (the darkest you like) as nearly as you can, and bring your matched colour and set it beside one of these groups of trees, and take a blade of common grass, and set it beside any part of the fullest light of their foregrounds, and then talk about the truth of colour of the old masters!" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. ii. ch. ii. § 5). (2) Next for truth of chiaroscuro. Claude neglects that distinctness of shadow which is the chief means of expressing vividness of light. Thus "the trunks of the trees between the water-wheel and the white figure of the middle distance, are dark and visible; but their shadows are scarcely discernible on the ground, and are quite vague and lost in the building. In nature, every bit of the shadow, both on the ground and building, would have been defined and conspicuous; while the trunks themselves would have been faint, confused, and indistinguishable, in their illumined parts,[48] from the grass or distance" (ibid., ch. iii. § 4). (3) Thirdly, for truth of space. In nature everything is indistinct, but nothing vacant. But look at the city on the right bank of the river:—

"I have seen many cities in my life, and drawn not a few; and I have seen many fortifications, fancy ones included, which frequently [Pg 78]supply us with very new ideas indeed, especially in matters of proportion; but I do not remember ever having met with either a city or a fortress entirely composed of round towers of various heights and sizes, all facsimiles of each other, and absolutely agreeing in the number of battlements. I have, indeed, some faint recollection of having delineated such a one in the first page of a spelling book when I was four years old; but, somehow or other, the dignity and perfection of the ideal were not appreciated, and the volume was not considered to be increased in value by the frontispiece. Without, however, venturing to doubt the entire sublimity of the same ideal as it occurs in Claude, let us consider how nature, if she had been fortunate enough to originate so perfect a conception, would have managed it in its details. Claude has permitted us to see every battlement, and the first impulse we feel upon looking at the picture is to count how many there are. Nature would have given us a peculiar confused roughness of the upper lines, a multitude of intersections and spots, which we should have known from experience was indicative of battlements, but which we might as well have thought of creating as of counting. Claude has given you the walls below in one dead void of uniform gray. There is nothing to be seen or felt, or guessed at in it; it is gray paint or gray shade, whichever you may choose to call it, but it is nothing more. Nature would have let you see, nay, would have compelled you to see, thousands of spots or lines, not one to be absolutely understood or accounted for, but yet all characteristic and different from each other; breaking lights on shattered stones, vague shadows from waving vegetation, irregular stains of time and weather, mouldering hollows, sparkling casements: all would have been there; none indeed seen as such, none comprehensible or like themselves, but all visible; little shadows and sparkles, and scratches, making that whole space of colour a transparent, palpitating, various infinity"[49] (ibid., ch. v. § 7).

(4) Lastly, the picture entirely ignores truth of mountains. And this in two ways. First, there is a total want of magnitude and aerial distance:—

"In the distance is something white, which I believe must be intended for a snowy mountain, because I do not see that it can well be intended for anything else. Now no mountain of elevation sufficient to be sheeted with perpetual snow can by any possibility sink so low on the horizon as this something of Claude's, unless it be at a distance of from fifty to seventy miles. At such distances ... the mountains rise from the horizon like transparent films, only distinguishable from mist by their excessively keen edges and their brilliant flashes of sudden light; they are as unsubstantial as the air itself, and impress their enormous size by means of this aerial-ness, [Pg 79]in a far greater degree at these vast distances, than even when towering above the spectator's head.[50] Now, I ask of the candid observer if there be the smallest vestige of an effort to attain, if there be the most miserable, the most contemptible, shadow of attainment of such an effect by Claude? Does that white thing on the horizon look seventy miles off? Is it faint or fading, or to be looked for by the eye before it can be found out? Does it look high? Does it look large? Does it look impressive? You cannot but feel that there is not a vestige of any kind or species of truth in that horizon; and that however artistical it may be, as giving brilliancy to the distance (though as far as I have any feeling in the matter it only gives coldness), it is, in the very branch of art on which Claude's reputation chiefly rests, aerial perspective, hurling defiance to nature in her very teeth. But there are worse failures in this unlucky distance.... No mountain was ever raised to the level of perpetual snow without an infinite multiplicity of form. Its foundation is built of a hundred minor mountains, and from these, great buttresses run in converging ridges to the central peak.... Consequently, in distant effect, when chains of such peaks are visible at once, the multiplicity of form is absolutely oceanic; and though it is possible in near scenes to find vast and simple masses composed of lines which run unbroken for a thousand feet or more, it is physically impossible when these masses are thrown seventy miles back to have simple outlines, for then these large features become mere jags and hillocks, and are heaped and huddled together in endless confusion.... Hence these mountains of Claude having no indication of the steep vertical summits which are characteristic of the central ridges, having soft edges instead of decisive ones, simple forms instead of varied and broken ones, and being painted with a crude raw white, having no transparency, nor filminess, nor air in it, instead of rising in the opalescent mystery which invariably characterises the distant snows, have the forms and the colours of heaps of chalk in a limekiln, not of Alps" (ibid., sec. iv. ch. ii. §§ 8, 9).

13. THE HOLY FAMILY.

Murillo (Spanish: 1618-1682).

Bartolomé Estéban Murillo, the most widely popular of the Spanish painters, was himself sprung from the "people." He was born of humble parents in Seville, and his earliest attempts at art were pictures for fairs. He is also believed to have supplied some of the [Pg 80]Madonnas which were shipped off by loads for the convents in Mexico[51] and Peru. A turning-point in his artistic career came, however, when a certain Pedro de Moya came into the studio of Murillo's uncle, Castillo. De Moya had been studying under Van Dyck in London. Van Dyck's style was a revelation to Murillo, who determined forthwith to start off on the grand tour. First, however, he went to Madrid, where Velazquez helped him greatly. His studies there were so successful, and his popularity became so great, that the foreign journey was abandoned. He married a lady of fortune, his house became a centre of taste and fashion, commissions poured in upon him, and in 1660 he formed the Academy of Seville. His life was as pious as it was busy. He was often seen praying for long hours in his parish church, and in his last illness (which was brought on by his falling, in a fit of absence of mind, from a scaffold) he was carried every day to pray before Pedro Campaña's "Descent from the Cross." "I wait here," he said to the sacristan who asked one day if he were ready to go, "till the pious servants of our Lord have taken him down."

Murillo was thus one of the last sincerely religious painters—a class which, "after a few pale rays of fading sanctity from Guido, and brown gleams of gipsy Madonnahood from Murillo, came utterly to an end" (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. iv. § 4). But it was "gipsy Madonnahood": there is an entire want of elevation in his religious types, and the peasants whom he painted as beggars or flower-girls he painted also as angels or Virgins. This mingling of the common with the religious alike in subject and treatment was no doubt a principal reason of his great popularity in his own country.[52] His vulgarity of treatment in his favourite beggar subjects is best seen in the Dulwich Gallery; of his religious style, the pictures here are characteristic examples. There is a certain "sweetness" and sentimentality about them which often makes them immensely popular. The French in particular are subject to a furore for Murillo, his "Immaculate Conception," now in the Louvre, having been bought in 1852 for £23,440—the largest sum ever given up to that time for a single picture.[53][Pg 81] With children, too, Murillo is nearly always a great favourite. A maturer taste, however, finds the sentiment of Murillo overcharged, and the sweetness of expression an insufficient substitute for elevation of character. "His drawing," says Ruskin, "is free and not ungraceful, but most imperfect and slurred to give a melting quality of colour. That colour is agreeable because it has no force or severity; but it is morbid, sunless, and untrue. His expression is sweet, but shallow; his models amiable, but vulgar and mindless; his chiaroscuro commonplace, opaque, and conventional; and yet all this is so agreeably combined, and animated by a species of wax-work life, that it is sure to catch everybody who has not either very high feeling or strong love of truth, and to keep them from obtaining either" (Letter to Dean Liddell, given in the Memoir by H. L. Thompson, p, 224.)[54] "Murillo," says a more appreciative critic, "who assimilated least of foreign elements, had become the most international of all Spanish painters; for he possessed the art of winning the favour of all, the gift of a language intelligible to all times and peoples, to all classes and even to aliens of his faith" (Justi: Velazquez and his Times, p. 236). One charm his pictures have which no criticism is likely to take away: they are all stamped with the artist's individuality; there is never any mistaking a Murillo.

This picture—known as the Pedroso Murillo, from the Pedroso family, in whose possession it remained until 1810—is one of the painter's last works, painted when he was about sixty. The look of childlike innocence in the head of the young Christ is very attractive, although the attitude is undeniably "stagey." The heads of the Virgin and St. Joseph also are good instances of Murillo's plan of "supplying the place of intrinsic elevation by a dramatic exhibition of sentiment" (W. B. Scott). The picture is characteristic of what is known as Murillo's third, or vaporoso, manner. His first manner is called frio, or cold; his second warm, or calido, [Pg 82]and the third, from its melting softness, vaporoso. The first style is generally spoken of as lasting up to 1648, the second up to 1656, but he did not so much paint in these different manners at different times as adapt them to the different subjects severally in hand.

14. SEAPORT: THE QUEEN OF SHEBA.

Claude (French, 1600-1682). See 2.

This seaport—inscribed in the right corner La Reine de Saba va trouver Salamon,—is one of Claude's masterpieces. Like its companion, the picture was painted in 1648 for the Duke of Bouillon. "The spectator," says Sir Edward Poynter, "may almost imagine that he feels the freshness of the early morning, and the breeze which sends the crisp waves rolling in from the open sea, while the limpid purity of the sunlit atmosphere and the sparkle of the sun on the water, not only invite sympathy with the more exquisite aspects of nature, which is, perhaps, the highest achievement of this art, but are expressed with a simplicity and perfection of execution which surpass all the works of other painters in which similar effects have been attempted" (The National Gallery, i. 192). The picture which Turner selected to vie with this is not one of his best, but Ruskin makes a point out of Claude's poverty of invention in the details. The queen is starting for a distant expedition, and was going in great state (she went "with a very great company, and camels that bare spices, and gold in abundance, and precious stones"); yet the prominent incident in the picture is the carrying of one schoolgirl's trunk. She is going by sea, and is setting out in the early morning (for the sun is represented only a little above the horizon);[55] yet has no wraps, nor even a head-dress. For the rest, Ruskin notices the tameness of Claude's waves and a certain conventionality in his treatment of ships and seaports generally. "A man accustomed to the broad, wild sea-shore, with its bright breakers, and free winds, and sounding rocks, [Pg 83]and eternal sensation of tameless power, can scarcely but be angered when Claude bids him stand still on some paltry chipped and chiselled quay, with porters and wheel-barrows running against him, to watch a weak, rippling, bound and barriered water, that has not strength enough in one of its waves to upset the flower-pots on the wall, or even to fling one jet of spray over the confining stone"[56] (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. i. ch. vii. § 5). Claude's ships, too, and his conception of seaports generally, show a strange want of true imagination:

"His ships, having hulls of a shape something between a cocoanut and a high-heeled shoe, balanced on their keels on the top of the water, with some scaffolding and cross-sticks above, and a flag at the top of every stick, form perhaps the purest exhibition of human inanity and fatuity which the arts have yet produced. The harbours also, in which these model navies ride, are worthy of all observation for the intensity of the false taste which, endeavouring to unite in them the characters of pleasure-ground and port, destroys the veracity of both. There are many inlets of the Italian seas where sweet gardens and regular terraces descend to the water's edge; but these are not the spots where merchant vessels anchor, or where bales are disembarked. On the other hand, there are many busy quays and noisy arsenals upon the shores of Italy; but queens' palaces are not built upon the quays, nor are the docks in any wise adorned with conservatories or ruins. It was reserved for the genius of Claude to combine the luxurious with the lucrative, and rise to a commercial ideal, in which cables are fastened to temple pillars, and lighthouses adorned with rows of bean-pots" (Harbours of England, pp. 17, 18). Notice, lastly, the "atrocious error in ordinary perspective" in the quay on the left of which the figure is sitting with his hand at his eyes[57] (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. i. sec. i. ch. v. § 5, pt. ii. sec. vi. ch. ii. § 1).

15. ECCE HOMO!

Correggio (Parmese: 1494-1534). See under 10.

"Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the Man!"—Ecce Homo! (John xix. 5). Over the domain of tragedy Correggio—with his pretty grace and sentimentality—[Pg 84]had little sway. In this respect he has been called "the Rossini of painting. The melodies of the Stabat Mater are the exact analogues in music of Correggio's voluptuous renderings of grave or mysterious motives" (Symonds: Renaissance, iii. 248). Thus here it is rather a not-unpleasant feeling of grief than any profound sense of sorrow or resignation that the painter expresses; but within these limits the picture is a very effective one. "The features of Christ express pain without being in the least disfigured by it. How striking is the holding out of the fettered hands, as if to say, 'Behold, these are bound for you!' The Virgin Mary, who, in order to see her son, has held by the balustrade which separates him from her, sinks with grief into the arms of Mary Magdalene. Her lips still seem to tremble, but the corners of the mouth are already fixed, it is involuntarily open; the arched eyelids are on the point of covering the closing eyes; the hands with which she has held fast let go the balustrade" (Waagen: Treasures of Art in Great Britain, i. 327). To the right is a Roman soldier, robust and rugged, yet with a touch of pity in his look; whilst to the left, standing just within the judgment hall, is Pilate, the Roman proconsul, with a mild look of self-satisfaction on his face—as of the man who "washed his hands" of the affair and left the populace to do with Christ as they would.

This picture (which is supposed to have been painted in 1521) was formerly in the possession of the Counts Prati of Parma, and subsequently in the Colonna Palace at Rome. It was purchased of the Colonna family by Sir Simon Clarke, who, finding it impossible to take it out of Italy, sold it to Murat, then King of Naples. It was purchased, as already related, with No. 10 by Lord Londonderry in 1834.

16. ST. GEORGE AND THE DRAGON.

Tintoretto (Venetian: 1518-1594).

Jacopo Robusti, called Tintoretto (the little dyer), from the trade of his father, is the last great master of the Venetian School and "the most imaginative of all painters." His artistic ambition was expressed in the line which he wrote on the wall of his studio: "The design of Michelangelo and the colouring of Titian." He engrafted (says Symonds) on the calm and natural Venetian manner "something of the Michelangelesque sublimity, and sought to sway by dramatic movement the romantic motives of the school." He conquers Michelangelo (says[Pg 85] Ruskin) in his own field; "out-flies him in motion, outnumbers him in multitude, outwits him in fancy and out-flames him in rage." The imagination of Tintoret dwelt among the tragic and dramatic scenes in sacred history. While he conceived of these in the largest and most audacious spirit, his "imagination penetrative" extended to the minutest details, and his great works abound in those minor episodes which lend so much reality to a poet's conceptions. In his classical pictures, Tintoret combined with the sumptuous colour of Titian something of the mythopœic faculty which enabled him to inspire the tales of ancient Greece with an intense vitality of beauty. In other of his pictures, effects of light and shade are the vehicle of his imagination. It was Tintoret (says Symonds) "who brought to its perfection the poetry of chiaroscuro, expressing moods of passion and emotion by brusque lights, luminous half-shadows, by semi-opaque darkness, no less unmistakably than Beethoven by symphonic modulations" (Renaissance, iii. 270). The intense vitality which characterises Tintoret's subject-pictures is conspicuous also in his portraits. They "render the man at his best, full of health and determination, and make us look back with amazement to a state where the human plant was in such vigour" (Berenson's Venetian Painters, p. 59). The picture now before us (16) may give some idea of Tintoret's power of imagination; and the decorative piece lately added to the Gallery (1313) is exemplary of another side of his genius. The Galleries at Hampton Court should also be visited by all admirers of Tintoretto. But it is only in Venice that this great master can properly be studied, and only in the works of Ruskin that any full appreciation of his powers is to be found.[58] One or two points, however, may profitably be mentioned which visitors who come across pictures by Tintoret in foreign galleries should bear in mind. First, he is the most unequal in execution of all painters. The Venetians used to say he had three pencils—one of gold, one of silver, and a third of iron. Annibale [Pg 86]Carracci said of him that "if he was sometimes equal to Titian, he was often inferior to Tintoretto." Secondly, "when no one would pay for his colours (and sometimes nobody would even give him space of wall to paint on), he used cheap blue for ultramarine;" and he worked so rapidly, "and on such large spaces of canvas, that, between damp and dry, his colours must go, for the most part." Tintoret, from the rapidity of his execution, received the nickname of il Furioso; and Sebastiano del Piombo used to say that Tintoret could paint as much in two days as would occupy him for two years. Thirdly, Tintoret "is entirely unconcerned respecting the satisfaction of the public. He neither cares to display his strength to them, nor convey his ideas to them; when he finishes his work, it is, because he is in the humour to do so; and the sketch which a meaner painter would have left incomplete to show how cleverly it was begun, Tintoret simply leaves because he has done as much of it as he likes" (Relation between Michael Angelo and Tintoret, passim).

The well-founded pride which is thus stamped on Tintoret's art is conspicuous in his life. From the first he stood alone. His father had sent him as a boy to Titian's studio; but after ten days the master dismissed him. From this time forward the two men remained upon distant terms,—Tintoretto being indeed an ardent admirer of Titian, but never a friend, and Titian and his set turning the cold shoulder upon Tintoret. The slight passed by Titian upon the young Tintoret threw him back upon his own resources, and henceforth he pursued his own ideals, self-taught. He bought casts from the antique and from the works of Michelangelo; he devoted the day to painting, and in the night he made drawings from his casts. His persevering labour won for him in time a high position among the painters of Venice, and before he was forty he had become the acknowledged rival of Titian himself. For some years, however, he worked in poverty, often accepting commissions without pay, and when he became famous he often worked "for nothing." For years he painted in the Scuola di San Rocco—"a shrine reared by Tintoret to his own genius"—at the rate of 100 ducats a year. For his "Paradise" in the Ducal Palace, "the greatest picture in the world," he was asked to name his own price, but he left it to the State, and abated something from what they tendered. While the commission was still pending, Tintoret used to tell the senators that he prayed to God for it, so that paradise itself might perchance be his recompense after death. His exquisite "Three Graces" in the Ducal Palace was painted for fifty ducats. He lived aloof from the world, seldom leaving Venice. His house, on the Fondamenta de' Mori, is still standing, and there are stories told of the way in which his wife, the daughter of a Venetian nobleman, tried to guard against his unworldliness. When he left the house she would wrap up money for him in a handkerchief, and expected an account of it on his return. Tintoretto, it is said, had always to confess that he had spent it upon alms. He loved all the arts, and played the lute and various instruments, some of them of his own invention. He designed[Pg 87] theatrical costumes, and was well versed in mechanics. He abounded in witty sayings, but no smile, we are told, ever hovered on his lips. He died at the age of seventy-six, leaving as the record of a long life, devoted with rare single-mindedness to his art, the remark that the art of painting was one which became ever increasingly difficult.

A picture of particular interest in the National Gallery, being a representation by one of the greatest of artists of the patron saint of England. The fight of St. George with the dragon is familiar to every one, being on the reverse of our gold sovereigns, and in the "Jubilee" coinage on that of our silver crowns. "As a piece of mere die-cutting, that St. George is one of the best bits of work we have on our money," but a reference to its absurdities in design will serve admirably to bring out some of the imaginative merits of this picture. On our coins St. George's horse looks abstractedly in the air, instead of where it would have looked, at the beast between its legs. Here Tintoret has admirably brought out the chivalry of the horse. Knight and charger are alike intent upon their foe, and note that St. George wears no spurs: the noble animal nature is attuned to his rider. But, though un-spurred, St. George is every inch a knight. His whole strength is given in the spear-thrust which is to kill the dragon: compare this with St. George on our coins, "with nothing but his helmet on (being the last piece of armour he is likely to want), putting his naked feet, at least his feet showing their toes through the buskins, well forward, that the dragon may with the greatest convenience get a bite at them; and about to deliver a mortal blow at him with a sword which cannot reach him by a couple of yards." To understand the other touches of true imagination in Tintoret's picture, it is necessary to recall the meaning of the legend of St. George and the Dragon (identical with that of Perseus and Andromeda).[59] The dragon represents the evil of sinful, fleshly passion, the element in our nature which is of the earth, earthy. Notice with what savage tenacity, therefore, the beast is made to clutch at the earth. From his mouth he is spitting fire—the red fire of consuming passion. St. George is the champion [Pg 88]of purity; he rides therefore on a white horse, white being the typical colour of a blameless life. He wears no helmet—for that might obscure his sight, and the difficulty in this warfare is not so much to kill your dragon as to see him. In front of him is the dead body of another man:

He gazes on the silent dead "They perished in their daring deeds." This proverb flashes through his head, "The many fail, the one succeeds."

Behind him is a long castle wall, the towers and battlements perhaps of some great city. In many pictures of this subject (see e.g. 75) there are crowds of spectators on the walls, who will cheer the knight in his struggle and applaud him in his victory. But here the walls are deserted, and but for the princess in the foreground, there are no spectators of the struggle: it is one which has to be fought alone and in secret places. The princess had been given, in the story, as a sacrifice to the dragon, and St. George, who comes to rescue her, is thus the type of noble chivalry. "She turns away for flight; and if her hands are raised to heaven, and her knees fall to earth, it is more that she stumbles in a woman's weakness, than that she abides in faith or sweet surrender. Tintoret sees the scene as in the first place a matter of fact, and paints accordingly, following his judgment of girl nature." But in another sense the princess of the allegory represents the soul of man, which has to be freed from subjection to the dragon of the flesh. And so perhaps Tintoret makes her fly, "from a certain ascetic feeling, a sense growing with the growing license of Venice, that the soul must rather escape from this monster by flight than hope to see it subdued and made serviceable" (St. Mark's Rest, Second Supplement, pp. 14, 21, 33; Fors Clavigera, 1873, xxv. and xxvi.)

17. THE HOLY FAMILY.

Andrea del Sarto[60] (Florentine: 1486-1531). See 690.

St. Elizabeth with her son, the infant John the Baptist, visiting the Madonna and infant Christ. It is "a Holy [Pg 89]Family," but except for the symbolical cross of the Baptist and the faint circlet of golden light surrounding the Madonna's head, there is no hint of divinity about this pretty domestic scene.

18. CHRIST AND THE PHARISEES.[61]

Bernardino Luini (Lombard: about 1475-1533).

Bernardino, "dear little Bernard," the son of Giovanni Lutero, called Luini from his birthplace Luino, on the Lago Maggiore, is perhaps, says Ruskin, "the best central type of the highly-trained Italian painter," being "alone in uniting consummate art-power with untainted simplicity of religious imagination." "The two elements, poised in perfect balance, are so calmed and restrained, each by the other, that most of us lose the sense of both." Next to nothing is known of his life beyond journeys to various places in the lake district—Lugano, Legnano, and Saronno, to paint frescoes. "We have no anecdotes of him, only hundreds of noble works. Child of the Alps, and of their divinest lake, he is taught, without doubt or dismay, a lofty religious creed, and a sufficient law of life, and of its mechanical arts. Whether lessoned by Leonardo himself, or merely one of many, disciplined in the system of the Milanese School, he learns unerringly to draw, unerringly and enduringly to paint" ... "a mighty colourist, while Leonardo was only a fine draughtsman in black, staining the chiaroscuro drawing like a coloured print." Luini's "tasks are set him without question day by day, by men who are justly satisfied with his work, and who accept it without any harmful praise or senseless blame. Place, scale, and subject are determined for him on the cloister wall or the church dome; as he is required, and for sufficient daily bread, and little more, he paints what he has been taught to design wisely and has passion to realise gloriously: every touch he lays is eternal, every thought he conceives is beautiful and pure" (Queen of the Air, § 157; Catalogue of the Educational Series, p. 43; Oxford Lectures on Art, §§ 73, 92). This picture, formerly ascribed to Leonardo, belongs to Luini's second period, when he was under the [Pg 90]influence of that master. To his third and independent manner belong the frescoes at Milan, Saronno, and Lugano, and the three pictures in Como Cathedral (Morelli's Italian Masters in German Galleries, 1883, pp. 435-438). Luini's female figures (says Sir Frederick Burton) "are full of sweetness and gracious dignity; and should we incline to cavil at the monotony of his type, its loveliness disarms us. But a merit even higher than his sense of beauty is the pathos which he infused into subjects that required it. These he imagined from within outwards, following his inspiration without egotism or mannerism. He appears to most advantage in fresco; for few have understood so well as he the management of the limited palette of the fresco painter, and that skilful juxtaposition of tints by which the value of each is exalted. The decorated party-wall and adjacent chapels in S. Maurizio at Milan must once have been as conspicuous for their harmonious colouring as the former still is for the radiant beauty of the Virgin Saints in its lower compartment." Copies of several of Luini's frescoes are included in the Arundel Society's Collection.

Christ is arguing with the Pharisees, but he wears the tender expression of the man who "did not strive nor cry, neither was his voice heard in the streets." The disputant on the extreme right, with the close-shaven face and firm-set features, has his hand on a volume of the Scriptures, and is taking his stand (as it were) on the letter of the law. The one on the extreme left, on the other hand, is almost persuaded. In contrast to him is the older man with the white beard, who seems to be marvelling at the presumption of youth. The remaining head is the type of the fanatic; "by our law he ought to die." This picture, besides its splendid colouring, is a good instance of that law of order or symmetry which is characteristic of all perfect art. The central figure faces us; there are two figures on one side, balanced by two on the other; the face in the left corner looks right, that in the right corner looks left, whilst to break any too obtrusive symmetry the head of Christ itself inclines somewhat to the left also. This famous picture, of which there are several old copies, was formerly in the Aldobrandini apartments in the Borghese Palace at Rome.

19. NARCISSUS AND ECHO.

Claude (French: 1600-1682). See 2.

Narcissus, a beautiful youth, was beloved by the nymph Echo, but he spurned her love, and when she pined away she[Pg 91] was changed into a stone which still retained the power of voice. But Narcissus, seeing his own image reflected in a fountain, became enamoured of it, and when he could never reach his phantom love he killed himself for grief, and the nymphs who came to burn his body found only the "short-lived flower" that bears his name. Here, half-hidden in the trees, we see the

Naiad hid beneath the bank, By the willowy river-side, Where Narcissus gently sank, Where unmarried Echo died.
Ionica.

This was one of Sir George Beaumont's Claudes which Constable so much admired when he was staying at Coleorton. "I am now going," wrote Constable to his wife, "to breakfast before the Narcissus of Claude. How enchanting and lovely it is; far, very far surpassing any other landscape I ever beheld" (Leslie's Life of Constable, 1845, p. 120). Ruskin, on the other hand, finds fault with some of the details, as showing Claude's ignorance of tree structure. "Take the stem of the chief tree in Claude's Narcissus. It is a very faithful portrait of a large boa-constrictor with a handsome tail; the kind of trunk which young ladies at fashionable boarding schools represent with nosegays at the top of them by way of forest scenery." Again, "Observe the bough underneath the first bend of the great stem, ... it sends off four branches like the ribs of a leaf. The two lowest of these are both quite as thick as the parent stem, and the stem itself is much thicker after it has sent off the first one than it was before. The top boughs of the central tree, in the 'Marriage of Isaac and Rebecca' (12), ramify in the same scientific way" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. vi. ch. i. §§ 7, 9).

20. IPPOLITO DE' MEDICI AND THE ARTIST.

Sebastiano del Piombo (Venetian: 1485-1547). See 1.

In 1531 Sebastiano received from the Pope the office of Frate del Piombo, Monk of the Leaden Signet, which was affixed to the pontifical diplomas. An entertaining account of Sebastiano's appointment is given in Benvenuto Cellini's Memoirs (see Symonds's translation, i. 150). The painter is here dressed in the black robe of his office; on the table are[Pg 92] two parchment-deeds, with Sebastiano's hand on the seal of one of them, and the picture thus represents, perhaps, the ratification of the appointment by his friend and patron, the Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici. The artist's portrait of himself agrees very well with what Vasari says of his character. He was a painter more of necessity than of choice, and when once he received his valuable sinecure he forsook his palette for the lute, and people found it very hard to get any work out of him. He much preferred talking about pictures, says Vasari, to executing them. He was "of a very full habit," and young painters who resorted to him "rarely made any great profit, since from his example they could learn little beside the art of good living." But he was a thoroughly good fellow, and a kindly withal. A better or more agreeable companion never lived; and when he died he commanded that his remains should be carried to the tomb without any ceremony of priests and friars, and that the amount which would have been thus expended should be distributed to the poor, for the love of God: and so was it done. But in one branch of art, adds Vasari, Sebastiano was always ready to work, namely, in painting portraits, such as this, from the life. "In this art he did certainly surpass all others in delicacy and excellence—so much so that when Cardinal Ippolito fell in love with the lady Giulia Gonzaga, he sent Sebastiano with four swift horses to her home for the purpose of taking her portrait, and in about a month the artist completed the likeness, when, what with the celestial beauties of that lady, and what with the able hand of so accomplished a master, the picture proved to be a most divine one." No. 24 was formerly thought to be the portrait in question.

21. PORTRAIT OF A FLORENTINE LADY.

Cristofano Allori (Florentine: 1577-1621).

An excellent portrait-painter, who painted many of the distinguished persons of his time. Of his other works, the best known is the "Judith with the head of Holophernes," in the Pitti. The Judith "so beautifully and magnificently attired is a portrait of his mistress; while her mother appears in the character of Abra, and the head of Holophernes is that of the painter, who permitted his beard to grow for this purpose." He was very fastidious in his execution. "From this method, and from vicious habits that often seduced him from his labours, his pictures are rare, and he himself is little known" (Lanzi's[Pg 93] History of Painting, i. 217). Cristofano was the son of Alessandro Allori, a painter of Michelangelo's school.

Notice the richly embroidered head-dress, resembling in form the Venetian rolled coif or turban which often occurs in pictures of Titian.

22. ANGELS WEEPING OVER THE DEAD CHRIST.

Guercino (Eclectic-Bologna: 1591-1666).

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri was called Guercino, the Squintling, from an accident which distorted his right eye in babyhood. He attained to much fame and wealth in his day; but was self-taught, and the son of humble parents, his father being a wood-carrier, and agreeing to pay for his son's education by a load of grain and a vat of grapes delivered yearly. As a young man, he settled in Rome, where he became acquainted with Caravaggio. He returned to his native town, Cento, in 1623, and there founded an academy which was much frequented by young painters. In 1642 he removed to Bologna, where he died in affluent circumstances in 1666. In art history Guercino is interesting as showing the blending of the Eclectic style of the Carracci with the Naturalistic style of Caravaggio. In the work of his latest, or Bolognese, period, "when he appears to have endeavoured to approximate to the style of Guido, he forsook the vigorous handling and treatment of his earlier pictures and fell into an insipid manner" (Burton). Guercino (says Symonds) "lived the life of an anchorite, absorbed in studies, reserved, sober, pious, truthful, sincere in his commerce with the world, unaffectedly virtuous, devoted to his art and God." In the motives of his picture one sees reflected the Catholic revival of his day,—"the Christianity of the age was not naïve, simple, sincere, and popular, but hysterical, dogmatic, hypocritical, and sacerdotal. It was not Christianity indeed, but Catholicism galvanised by terror into reactionary movement" (Renaissance, vii. 232).

A comparison even of this little picture—in its somewhat morbid sentiment—with such an one as Crivelli's (602)—with its deeper because simpler feeling—well illustrates the nature of the change. This is, however, one of Guercino's best works. It was formerly in the Borghese Gallery, and Rumohr, in his account of that collection (1784), notices it as one of the productions of the painter's best time. "The figure of Christ is admirable in drawing and foreshortening, and painted with a broad decisive touch in really astonishing relief; while the weeping angels, if not of an elevated type, are marked by a real naïveté and sincerity of pathos. The[Pg 94] wonderful chiaroscuro is here not only rich, and well concentrated, too, beyond the painter's wont, but impressive, and duly accounted for by the supernatural luminosity of the body of Christ" (Portfolio, August 1891).

23. "THE VIRGIN OF THE BASKET."

Correggio (Parmese: 1494-1534). See 10.

A celebrated work of the master, and one of the principal treasures of the National Gallery—"a little gem of extraordinary tenderness," Mengs calls it; and Frizzoni, "an incomparable marvel of light, vivacity, and smiling sweetness." Alike in sentiment and in technique, it is very characteristic. A comparison of it with Raphael's great Madonna or any of those of the earlier masters (e.g. Bellini) will show in a moment wherein the peculiarity of Correggio consists. The mother has none of the rapt look of the woman who "laid these things in her heart," and the child has no prophetic sense of future suffering. There is nothing to mark the picture as representing the Holy Family except the introduction of Joseph, the carpenter, in the background. It is a picture painted solely in the "religion of humanity," and full only of artless grace and melodious tenderness. The child is full of play and fun; the mother (with the household basket which gives the picture its name—"La Vierge au panier") is dressing him, and has just succeeded in putting his right arm through the sleeve of his little coat, and is endeavouring by gentle stratagem to do the same with the left; but something has caught his fancy, and she shares in his delight, smiling with all a young mother's fondness at the waywardness of her curly-haired boy. "As a painting," says Sir Edward Poynter, "it is one of those masterpieces of perfect technicality, of brilliant purity of lighting and colouring, and of completeness of modelling in the flesh tints, combined with the utmost apparent ease of execution, which may well be the despair of painters for all time. As a design it is no less remarkable; for though of studied harmony in the arrangement of the forms it is so natural that all appearance of effort is lost, and we cannot conceive of the scene as being rendered in a more artless manner" (The National Gallery, i. 4).

The date of this picture is uncertain. Some, liking to find[Pg 95] in it a piece of the painter's own home-life, have dated it 1521-22, that is just after the birth of Correggio's first child. Others put it earlier in the artist's career, 1518. It is perhaps the picture which Vasari describes as in the possession of the Cavaliere Baiardi of Parma—"a marvellous and beautiful work by Correggio, in which Our Lady puts a little shirt on the Infant Christ." It was afterwards in the royal collection at Madrid, from which it passed by the gift of Charles IV. to Don Emanuele Goday, at whose instance it was subjected to a most rigorous cleaning. During the French invasion of Spain it fell into various hands, and in 1825 was bought for the National Gallery from Mr. C. J. Nieuwenhuys for £3800—a sum, it has been calculated, that would "cover the little panel with sovereigns just twenty-seven times over."

24. AN ITALIAN LADY AS ST. AGATHA.

Sebastiano del Piombo (Venetian: 1485-1547). See 1.

The nimbus around the head indicates the saint; the palm branch and the pincers indicate St. Agatha, who was "bound and beaten with rods, and her tender bosom was cruelly torn with iron pincers; and as her blood flowed forth, she said, 'O thou tyrant! shamest thou not to treat me so—- thou who hast been nourished and fed from the breast of a mother?' And this was her only plaint." See also under 20.

25. ST. JOHN IN THE WILDERNESS.

Annibale Carracci (Eclectic-Bologna: 1560-1609). See 9.

"And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel" (Luke i. 80). In his left hand is the standard of the Lamb, the symbol of his mission, for which he is preparing himself in the desert solitude, while with his right he catches water in a cup from a stream in the rocks, symbolical of the water by which that mission, the baptism unto repentance, was to be accomplished.

26. THE CONSECRATION OF ST. NICHOLAS.

Paolo Veronese (Veronese: 1528-1588).

Paolo Caliari (called Veronese from his birthplace) stands, says Ruskin, in the forefront of the great colourists. "Titian, Veronese,[Pg 96] and Tintoret were the only painters who ever sought entirely to master, and who did entirely master, the truths of light and shade as associated with colour, in the noblest of all physical created things, the human form." With Veronese, "the whole picture is like the rose—glowing with colour in the shadows, and rising into paler and more delicate hues, or masses of whiteness, in the lights." Contrasting the aims of Veronese with those of the great chiaroscurists, Ruskin says: "Veronese chooses to represent the great relations of visible things to each other, to the heaven above, and to the earth beneath them. He holds it more important to show how a figure stands relieved from delicate air, or marble wall; how as a red, or purple, or white figure, it separates itself, in clear discernibility, from things not red, nor purple, nor white; how infinite daylight shines round it; how innumerable veils of faint shadow invest it; how its blackness and darkness are, in the excess of their nature, just as limited and local as its intensity of light; all this, I say, he feels to be more important than showing merely the exact measure of the spark of sunshine that gleams on a dagger-hilt, or glows on a jewel. All this, moreover, he feels to be harmonious,—capable of being joined in one great system of spacious truth. And with inevitable watchfulness, inestimable subtlety, he unites all this in tenderest balance, noting in each hair's-breadth of colour, not merely what its rightness or wrongness is in itself, but what its relation is to every other on his canvas." In the tone of his colouring Paolo retained, as Sir F. Burton points out, much of the tradition of the Veronese school. "The silvery tone which differentiates his best works from the golden lustre of Titian was not gained in Venice, and under the lightsome skies of the lagoons he was not tempted to alter it." In the tone of his mind Veronese was thoroughly Venetian. It is a certain "gay grasp of the outside aspects of the world" that distinguishes him. "By habitual preference, exquisitely graceful and playful; religious, without severity, and winningly noble; delighting in slight, sweet everyday incident, but hiding deep meanings underneath it; rarely painting a gloomy subject, and never a base one" (Modern Painters, vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. iii. § 16; vol. iv. pt. v. ch. iii. § 18, ch. xx. § 16; vol. v. pt. ix. ch. iii. § 27; Cambridge Inaugural Lecture in O.O.R., vol. i. § 314). Thus Venetian in character, it is the Venice of his time—with all its material magnificence and pride of life of a nation of merchant princes—that Veronese everywhere paints. "Veronese," says Symonds, "elevated pageantry to the height of serious art. His domain is noonday sunlight ablaze on sumptuous dresses and Palladian architecture. Armour, shot silks and satins, brocaded canopies, banners, plate, fruit, sceptres, crowns—all things, in fact, that burn and glitter in the sun—form the habitual furniture of his pictures." It is characteristic of the spirit of his time that the pictures by Veronese of banquets and other scenes of gaiety were mostly painted for monasteries. The frank introduction of the costumes of the painter's own time, clothing the fine race to which he belonged, gives to his pictures of this kind an historical interest. Often he intro[Pg 97]duces portraits into his groups. In expression his figures are often deficient. "He will make the Magdalene wash the feet of Christ with a countenance as absolutely unmoved as that of any ordinary servant bringing an ewer to her master." Animal force in men, superb voluptuousness in women, were his favourite types. "His noblest creatures are men of about twenty-five, manly, brawny, crisp-haired, full of nerve and blood. In all this Veronese resembles Rubens. But he does not, like Rubens, strike us as gross, sensual, fleshly; he remains proud and powerful, and frigidly urbane. The same love of display led him to delight in allegory—not allegory of the deep and mystic kind, but of the pompous and processional, in which Venice appears enthroned among the deities, or the genii of the arts are personified as handsome women and blooming boys." He painted with marvellous facility and revelled, as we have seen, in exuberance. In this he resembled Rubens, but he combined, as Rubens did not, moderation with profusion. Amid so much that is distracting, Veronese never loses command over his subject or his brush, "restraining, for truth's sake, his exhaustless energy; reining back, for truth's sake, his fiery strength; veiling, before truth, the vanity of brightness; penetrating, for truth, the discouragement of gloom; ruling his restless invention with a rod of iron; pardoning no error, no thoughtlessness, no forgetfulness; and subduing all his powers, impulses, and imaginations, to the arbitrament of a merciless justice, and the obedience of an incorruptible verity."

Of the life of Paolo Veronese few incidents are related. He was the son of a stone carver, and having shown a propensity to painting was apprenticed to his uncle, a mediocre artist. In his native city the works of Cavazzola and other Veronese masters were before his eyes. After executing some commissions in Mantua and Verona, he went in 1555 to Venice, which was henceforward to be his home and the scene of his triumphs. He soon began to rank with Tintoretto, who was nearly twenty years his senior, and with Titian, then in his eightieth year. He entered into a competition for painting the ceiling of the library of St. Mark, and executed the commission with so much power that his very rivals voted him the golden chain which had been tendered as an honorary distinction. He visited Verona in 1565, where he then married the daughter of his old master; and in 1560-61 he went to Rome in the suite of Grimani, the Venetian ambassador. With these exceptions he remained in Venice, full of work and honour. Upon his death his two sons and his younger brother, Benedetto, continued the work of his studio, signing the works which they produced in common as "heirs of Paolo Caliari Veronese."

This picture, which was formerly in the church of San Niccolo de' Frari at Venice, represents the consecration of Nicholas (for whom see 1171) as Bishop of Myra, in Syria (hence the turbans of the attendants). Two dignitaries of the Church are presenting him to the patriarch, who holds aloft[Pg 98] the symbolical cross of the Redeemer, and with his right hand gives his blessing. The bishop-elect abases himself meanwhile that he may be exalted, while the angel descending with the mitre and crozier signifies that his "call" is from above. Clearly it is the pageantry of a Church function that fascinates the painter. "His art is seen at its best," says Sir Edward Poynter, "in the grouping and light and shade in this picture. The boy kneeling on the right is a masterpiece of silvery colour, and, with his red stockings, gives vivacity to the whole composition." We may also observe in this picture the employment of a "glaze." "The kneeling figure of the Saint is robed in green, with sleeves of golden orange. This latter colour is carried through as under-painting over the whole draped portions of the figure, the green being then floated over and so manipulated that the golden tint shows through in parts and gives the high lights on the folds" (Baldwin Brown's Fine Arts, 1891, p. 310).

27. THE POPE JULIUS II.

Raphael (Urbino: 1483-1520). See 1171.

This is one of nine replicas, or contemporary copies, of the portrait in the Uffizi at Florence. Julius died in 1513; the portrait belongs, therefore, to the earlier part of Raphael's Roman period.

The portrait of a Pope of the church militant. "Raphael has caught the momentary repose of a restless and passionate spirit, and has shown all the grace and beauty which are to be found in the sense of power repressed and power at rest. Seated in an arm-chair, with head bent downward, the Pope is in deep thought. His furrowed brow and his deep-sunk eyes tell of energy and decision. The down-drawn corners of his mouth betoken constant dealings with the world" (Creighton's History of the Papacy). For it was in the temporal, not in the spiritual world that Julius lived and moved and had his being, and became, by his combination of military and diplomatic abilities, the most prominent political figure of his day. But, like other great princes of the time, Julius was a liberal and enlightened patron of the arts: it was he who laid the foundation-stone of St. Peter's, and who called Michael Angelo and Raphael to his court. On the green hanging which forms the background, the cross-keys of the pontifical office are indicated, and from the two corners of the back of[Pg 99] the chair rise two shafts, surmounted by gilt ornaments in the form of acorns—in reference to the armorial bearings of the Pope's family (della Rovere). "No amount of elaboration in the background could disturb the attention of any one looking at the portrait of Julius the Second, by Raphael, also in the Tribune, which I cannot help thinking is the finished portrait in the world. A portrait is the most truly historical picture, and this is the most monumental and historical of portraits. The longer one looks at it the more it demands attention. A superficial picture is like a superficial character—it may do for an acquaintance, but not for a friend. One never gets to the end of things to interest and admire in many old portrait-pictures" (G. F. Watts, R.A., in the Magazine of Art, January 1889).

28. SUSANNAH AND THE ELDERS.

Lodovico Carracci (Eclectic-Bologna: 1555-1619).

Lodovico is famous in art history as the founder of the Eclectic school of Bologna. Disgusted with the weakness of the Mannerists (of whom Baroccio was the best; see next picture), he determined to start a rival school, and enlisted the services of his two cousins, Agostino and Annibale, for that purpose. Their object, as expressed in a sonnet by Agostino, was to be to "acquire the design of Rome, Venetian action, and Venetian management of shade, the dignified colour of Lombardy (Leonardo), the terrible manner of Michael Angelo, Titian's truth and nature, the sovereign purity of Correggio's style, and the just symmetry of Raphael." Lodovico, who was the son of a Bolognese butcher,[62] was a man of very wide culture and of great industry. In natural talent he was deficient. When first sent to an art school at Bologna, he was called by his companions "the ox," and when he visited Venice the veteran Tintoretto warned him that he had no vocation. But resolving to win by industry what nature seemed to have denied him, he studied diligently at Florence, Parma, Mantua, and Venice. He superintended the school, at first conjointly with his cousins, afterwards alone, from 1589 to his death.

A less objectionable rendering than most, of the story of Susannah in the Apocrypha—a story for all time, setting forth as it does the way in which minions of the law too often prey upon the innocent, and the righteous condemnation that the people, when there are just judges in the land, mete out to the [Pg 100]offenders. Two judges, "ancients of the people," approached Susannah and threatened to report her as guilty unless she consented to do their bidding. She refused, and was reported accordingly. Judgment had well-nigh gone against her, when Daniel arose to convict the elders of false-witness, and they were straightway put to death. It is the moment of Susannah's temptation that the artist here depicts. "It is," says Hazlitt (p. 5), "as if the young Jewish beauty had been just surprised in that unguarded spot—crouching down in one corner of the picture, the face turned back with a mingled expression of terror, shame, and unconquerable sweetness, and the whole figure, with the arms crossed, shrinking into itself with bewitching grace and modesty." But Hazlitt never took notes, and Susannah's arms are not crossed—nor is her expression quite so naïve as he describes.

29. "OUR LADY OF THE CAT."

Baroccio (Umbrian: 1528-1612).

Federigo Barocci, or Baroccio, is the best of the "Mannerists." "He feebly continued the style of Correggio," says Symonds, "with a certain hectic originality, infusing sentimental pietism into that great master's pagan sensuousness" (Renaissance, viii. 211). His colouring is peculiar: he used too much vermilion and ultramarine, and too few yellows. He was a native of Urbino, and the son of a sculptor. In 1548 he went to Rome and remained there some years, devoting his time to the study of Raphael. He then returned to Urbino, again visiting Rome in 1560, when he was employed in the Vatican. While there he was nearly poisoned, by some rival it is supposed, and for the rest of his long life he suffered from disease of the stomach, which rendered him unable to do much work. He died at Urbino at the age of eighty-four.

An admirable example of the decline of Italian art. The old religious spirit has entirely vanished, and the Holy Family is represented as worrying a bird with a cat! John the Baptist holds the little goldfinch; while the Madonna expressly directs the attention of the infant Christ to the fun. "See, the cat is trying to get at it," she seems to say. Behind the bird, the painter, in unconscious irony, has placed the Cross. The visitor who wishes to see how far Italian art has travelled in a hundred years should compare this picture with such an one as Bellini's (280), or with one of Raphael's, of whom Baroccio was a fellow-countryman. The connecting[Pg 101] link should then be seen in Correggio (23). With Bellini or Perugino, the motive is wholly religious. With Raphael it is intermingled with artistic display. Correggio brings heaven wholly down to earth, but yet paints his domestic scene with lovely grace. Baroccio brings, one may almost say, heaven down to hell,[63] and uses all his skill to show the infant Saviour's pleasure in teasing a bird. But the artist only embodied the spirit of his time. Baroccio was one of the most celebrated painters of his day, and his biographer (Bellori) writes of him that "his pencil may be said to have been dedicated to religion: so devout, so tender, and so calculated to awaken feelings of piety, are the sentiments expressed in his pictures."

30. SEAPORT: ST. URSULA.

Claude (French: 1600-1682). See 2.

The best Claude in the Gallery, for it is a perfect example of his chief merit—the painting of quiet skies. Constable, in one of his lectures, refers to it as "probably the finest picture of middle-tint in the world. The sun is rising through a thin mist, which, like the effect of a gauze blind in a room, diffuses the light equally. There are no large dark masses, there is no evasion in any part of this admirable work, every object is fairly painted in a firm style of execution, yet in no other picture have I seen the evanescent character of light so well expressed" (Leslie's Life of Constable, p. 338). "The effect of the breeze upon the water and upon the trees," says Ottley, "and the freshness of the morning atmosphere, in this picture, are expressed with a closeness of imitation bordering on illusion" (Descriptive Catalogue of the National Gallery, 1826, p. 42).

As for the subject: St. Ursula, a beautiful and gifted Sicilian princess, was sought in marriage by a prince of Britain; but having already dedicated herself to Christ, she made a condition that before her marriage, she, with eleven thousand attendant virgins, should be permitted for the space of three years to visit the shrines of the Saints. This being permitted, the maidens started on a miraculous voyage. Guided by angels they proceeded as far as Rome, where pagans having plotted their death, on their further journey to Cologne they [Pg 102]were martyred by the barbarians besieging that city. Here in the picture they are represented as embarking.

31. THE SACRIFICE OF ISAAC.

Gaspard Poussin (French: 1613-1675).

Among the artists who were most closely associated with Nicolas Poussin (see 39) were his wife's brothers, Giovanni and Gaspard Dughet. The former was loved by Poussin as a son; the latter was also his pupil and adopted his name, though in France he is familiarly known as "Le Guaspre." Gaspard was Poussin's junior by nineteen years, and the older man, recognising his abilities, encouraged him to landscape painting. By the time he was twenty, Gaspard had established himself as an independent painter in Rome, and his works were eagerly sought by lovers of art. The Palazzo Doria and the Palazzo Colonna are especially rich in his works; the picture now before us, by some considered Gaspard's masterpiece, was formerly in the latter palace. Gaspard resided chiefly at Rome, but he also rented houses at Frascati and at Tivoli. In the noble scenery of those places and elsewhere in the country around Rome, he found the subjects for many of his best pictures. He worked so rapidly, we are told, that he would often "finish a picture in a day." He had a genuine love for nature, and also a passion for the chase. "A little ass, that he cared for himself, his only servant, bore his entire apparatus, provisions, and a tent, under which, protected from the sun and wind, he made his landscapes." There is (says Ruskin) more serious feeling in his landscapes, more "perception of the moral truth of nature," and "grander reachings after sympathy" than in those either of Nicolas or of Claude. It is impossible to look at many of his pictures in this Gallery without sharing the sense of grandeur and infinity in nature which inspired them, and hence it is that from Gaspard's own time till now they have enjoyed "a permanent power of address to the human heart." But more than this has been claimed for Gaspard. Critics thought they found in his works faithful adherence to the truths of nature in sky and trees. Ottley, for instance, in his Catalogue of the National Gallery (1826), speaks of Gaspard's "unrivalled correctness of imitation." Against these claims Ruskin took up his fiery parable. Gaspard's pictures are "full," he says, "of the most degraded mannerism;" first and foremost, in his search of a false sublimity, he painted every object in his picture, vegetation and all, of one dull gray and brown; and too many of his landscapes are now one dry, volcanic darkness. And secondly, he had a total want of imagination in seizing the true forms of natural objects, so that some passages of his landscapes are, as we shall see, perfect epitomes of the falseness to nature in the painters of that age[64] [Pg 103](collected from Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. i. ch. vii. §§ 3, 14; vol. ii. pt. iii. sec. i. ch. v. § 12, sec ii. ch. ii. § 18; vol. iv. pt. v. ch. xvi. § 24).

These remarks cannot be better illustrated than in the present picture. Abraham and Isaac—the former with a lighted torch, the latter with the wood—are ascending the hill on the right to the sacrifice; while Abraham's two servants await his return below. The whole spirit of the picture is "solemn and unbroken," in perfect harmony with the subject. But it is kept from being a really grand picture by the "hopeless want of imagination" in the forms of the clouds, the colour of the sky, and the treatment of the distant landscape. These painters, says Ruskin, looked at clouds, "with utter carelessness and bluntness of feeling; saw that there were a great many rounded passages in them; found it much easier to sweep circles than to design beauties, and sat down in their studies, contented with perpetual repetitions of the same spherical conceptions, having about the same relation to the clouds of nature, that a child's carving of a turnip has to the head of the Apollo.... Take the ropy, tough-looking wreath in the 'Sacrifice of Isaac,' and find one part of it, if you can, which is not the repetition of every other part of it, all together being as round and vapid as the brush could draw them" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. iii. ch. iii. § 8). Equally deficient is the colour of the sky:—

"It is here high noon, as is shown by the shadow of the figures; and what sort of colour is the sky at the top of the picture? Is it pale and gray with heat, full of sunshine, and unfathomable in depth? On the contrary, it is of a pitch of darkness which, except on Mont Blanc or Chimborazo, is as purely impossible as colour can be. He might as well have painted it coal-black: and it is laid on with a dead coat of flat paint, having no one quality or resemblance of sky about it. It cannot have altered, because the land horizon is as delicate and tender in tone as possible, and is evidently unchanged; and to complete the absurdity of the whole thing, this colour holds its own, without gradation or alteration, to within three or four degrees of the horizon, where it suddenly becomes bold and unmixed yellow. Now the horizon at noon may be yellow when the whole sky is covered with dark clouds, and only one open streak of light left in the distance from[Pg 104] which the whole light proceeds; but with a clear, open sky, and opposite the sun, at noon, such a yellow horizon as this is physically impossible.... We have in this sky (and it is a fine picture, one of the best of Gaspar's that I know) a notable example of the truth of the old masters—two impossible colours impossibly united!... Nor is this a solitary instance; it is Gaspar Poussin's favourite and characteristic effect" (ibid., vol. i. pt. ii. sec. iii. ch. i. § 10).

Lastly, the same want of truth is shown in the wide expanse stretching away to the distance:—

"It is luminous, retiring, delicate and perfect in tone, and is quite complete enough to deceive and delight the careless eye to which all distances are alike; nay, it is perfect and masterly, and absolutely right, if we consider it as a sketch,—as a first plan of a distance, afterwards to be carried out in detail. But we must remember that all these alternate spaces of gray and gold are not the landscape itself, but the treatment of it; not its substance, but its light and shade. They are just what nature would cast over it, and write upon it with every cloud, but which she would cast in play, and without carefulness, as matters of the very smallest possible importance. All her work and her attention would be given to bring out from underneath this, and through this, the forms and the material character which this can only be valuable to illustrate, not to conceal. Every one of those broad spaces she would linger over in protracted delight, teaching you fresh lessons in every hair's-breadth of it, until the mind lost itself in following her; now fringing the dark edge of the shadow with a tufted line of level forest; now losing it for an instant in a breath of mist; then breaking it with the white gleaming angle of a narrow brook; then dwelling upon it again in a gentle, mounded, melting undulation, over the other side of which she would carry you down into a dusty space of soft crowded light, with the hedges and the paths and the sprinkled cottages and scattered trees mixed up and mingled together in one beautiful, delicate, impenetrable mystery, sparkling and melting, and passing away into the sky, without one line of distinctness, or one instant of vacancy"[65] (ibid., vol. i. pt. ii. sec. ii. ch. v. § 8).

32. THE RAPE OF GANYMEDE.

School of Titian. See under 4.

Ganymede—so the Greek story ran—was a beautiful Trojan boy beloved of Jupiter, and was carried off by an eagle to Olympus to be the cup-bearer of the gods. Which things, say some, are an allegory—for "those whom the gods love [Pg 105]die young," and are snatched off, it may be, in sudden death, as by an eagle's swoop.

Flushed Ganymede, his rosy thigh Half-buried in the Eagle's down, Sole as a flying star shot thro' the sky.
Tennyson: Palace of Art.

This picture was painted, like Tintoret's "Milky Way" (1313) and the four Veroneses (1318, 1324-6), for a compartment of a ceiling. It corresponds with a picture described by Ridolfi as painted by a scholar of Titian, though some connect it rather with Tintoret (see J. B. S. Holborn's Tintoretto, 1903, pp. 34, 35). It was formerly in the Colonna Palace: the background is a restoration by Carlo Maratti (see 174).

33. THE VISION OF ST. JEROME.

Parmigiano (Parmese: 1503-1540).

A picture of great interest both for itself and for the circumstances under which it was painted. Parmigiano was painting it at Rome in 1527 when the city was sacked by the army of the Emperor Charles V. under Constable Bourbon. So intent, says Vasari, was our artist on his work that "when his own dwelling was filled with certain of these men, who were Germans, he remained undisturbed by their clamours, and did not move from his place; arriving in the room therefore, and finding him thus employed, they stood confounded at the beauty of the paintings they beheld, and, like good and sensible men as they must have been, they permitted him to continue his occupation."[66] Parmigiano had other narrow escapes in his career, which ultimately came to a bad end, owing, Vasari says, to his forsaking painting for alchemy, "since he believed that he should make himself rich much more rapidly by the congelation of mercury than by his art."

Francesco Maria Mazzola was called Parmigiano from Parma, his birthplace. After Correggio settled there, Parmigiano devoted himself to the study and imitation of that master. In 1523 he went to Rome, to study the works of Raphael and Michael Angelo. In 1531 he returned to Parma, and undertook an important commission to paint in one of its churches. He was paid in advance, and when after five years he had not begun the work he was imprisoned for breach of [Pg 106]contract. He was released on a promise that he would proceed with the frescoes, but he fled the city, and shortly afterwards died, in his thirty-seventh year. The chequered life of the artist finds a parallel in the varying fortunes of his reputation as an artist. He was an imitator both of Correggio and of Michael Angelo—here, for instance, the head of the infant Christ recalls the former master, the figures of St. Jerome and St. John recall the latter; and in his own day was held to have imitated them successfully, whilst Vasari adds that "the spirit of Raphael was said to have passed into Parmigiano." Of one of his works Reynolds, two hundred years later, expressed himself "at a loss which to admire most, the correctness of drawing or grandeur of conception." But the fashion in art has changed since Reynolds's day, and modern critics have found Parmigiano's work "incongruous," "insipid," and "affected." This difference of opinion is well exemplified in the case of this picture. Vasari calls it "singularly beautiful," and its subsequent popularity is attested by the number of copies of it extant (visitors on Students' Days will still often see copyists at work on it). But other critics have attributed its fame "more to its defects than its beauties" (Passavant), and have found it "mannered and theatrical" (Mrs. Jameson), and "a pernicious adaptation of an incongruous style" (Dr. Richter).

Leaving the visitor to form his own judgment, we may remind him that the subject is a supposed dream of St. Jerome when doing penance in the desert. He is asleep on the ground—doing penance, it might seem from his distorted position, even in his sleep, with a skull before him and a crucifix beside him. He is in the same desert where John the Baptist once preached, and thinking, we may suppose, of him, St. Jerome sees him in vision—with his camel skin about him—pointing upwards to the sky. There is the Virgin Mary seated as queen of heaven on a crescent moon, with a palm branch in her hand—the symbol now, not of martyrdom, but of victory over sin and death. And on her knee is the Divine Child, who rests his right hand on a little book on the Madonna's lap. It is a volume, we may suppose, of the Scriptures which St. Jerome had translated, and the vision thus foreshadows the time when it should be said unto him, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant; ... enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."

34. VENUS AND ADONIS.

Titian (Venetian: 1477-1576). See 4.

Venus is endeavouring to detain Adonis from the chase; but the sun is up (see his chariot in the sky) and the young hunts[Pg 107]man is eager to be off with his hounds and his spear. The enamoured goddess caresses him, but it will be in vain. For Cupid, the god of love, is not there: he is asleep and at a distance, with his bow and quiver hanging on a tree; and all the blandishments of beauty, unaided by love, are as naught.

Even as the sun with purple-colour'd face Had ta'en his last leave of the weeping morn, Rose-cheek'd Adonis hied him to the chase; Hunting he loved, but love he laugh'd to scorn; Sick-thoughted Venus makes amain unto him, And like a bold-faced suitor 'gins to woo him.
Shakespeare: Venus and Adonis.

This picture (formerly in the Colonna Palace at Rome) is probably a studio-repetition of an original which is now at Madrid, and which was painted by Titian for Philip II. of Spain, then King-Consort of England. It was forwarded to him in London in 1554. The picture is thus forty years later than the "Bacchus and Ariadne," and critics find in it not unjustly a lack of the finer poetry which characterises the earlier classical works of the master. "That the aim of the artist was not a very high one, or this poesia very near to his heart, is demonstrated by the curiously material fashion in which he recommends it to his royal patron. He says that 'if in the Danaë (now at Naples) the forms were to be seen front-wise, here was occasion to look at them from a contrary direction—a pleasant variety for the ornament of a camerino.' Our worldly-wise painter evidently knew that material allurements as well as supreme art were necessary to captivate Philip" (Claude Philips: The Later Work of Titian, p. 80).

35. BACCHUS AND ARIADNE.

Titian (Venetian: 1477-1576). See 4.

A picture which is at once a school of poetry and a school of art—"in its combination of all the qualities which go to make a great work of art possibly the finest picture in the world" (Poynter). It is a translation on canvas of the scene described in Catullus, where Bacchus, the wine-god, returning with his revel rout from a sacrifice, finds Ariadne on the seashore, after she had been deserted by Theseus, her lover. Bacchus no sooner sees her than he is enamoured and determines to make her his bride—

[Pg 108]

Bounding along is blooming Bacchus seen, With all his heart aflame with love for thee, Fair Ariadne! and behind him, see, Where Satyrs and Sileni whirl along, With frenzy fired, a fierce tumultuous throng.... There some wave thyrsi wreathed with ivy, here Some toss the limbs of a dismembered steer.... Others with open palms the timbrel smite, Or with their brazen rods make tinklings light.
Carmen lxiv.: Sir T. Martin's translation.

Nothing can be finer than the painter's representation of Bacchus and his rout: there is a "divine inebriety" in the god which is the very "incarnation of the spirit of revelry." "With this telling of the story," says Charles Lamb (Essay on Barrenness of the Imaginative Faculty in the Productions of Modern Art), "an artist, and no ordinary one, might remain richly proud.... But Titian has recalled past time, and made it contributory with the present to one simultaneous effect. With the desert all ringing with the mad cymbals of his followers, made lucid with the presence and new offers of a god,—as if unconscious of Bacchus, or but idly casting her eyes as upon some unconcerning pageant, her soul undistracted from Theseus, Ariadne is still pacing the solitary shore, in as much heart-silence, and in almost the same local solitude, with which she awoke at daybreak to catch the forlorn last glances of the sail that bore away the Athenian." But though as yet half unconscious, Ariadne is already under her fated star: for above is the constellation of Ariadne's crown—the crown with which Bacchus presented his bride. And observe in connection with the astronomical side of the allegory the figure in Bacchus's train with the serpent round him: this is the serpent-bearer (Milton's "Orphiucus huge") translated to the skies with Bacchus and Ariadne. Notice too another piece of poetry: the marriage of Bacchus and Ariadne took place in the spring, Ariadne herself being the personification of its return, and Bacchus of its gladness; hence the flowers in the foreground which deck his path.

The picture is as full of the painter's art as of the poet's. Note first the exquisite painting of the vine leaves,[67] and of [Pg 109]the flowers in the foreground, as an instance of the "constant habit of the great masters to render every detail of their foreground with the most laborious botanical fidelity": "The foreground is occupied with the common blue iris, the aquilegia, and the wild rose (more correctly the Capparis spinosa); every stamen of which latter is given, while the blossoms and leaves of the columbine (a difficult flower to draw) have been studied with the most exquisite accuracy." But this detail is sought not for its own sake, but only so far as is necessary to mark the typical qualities of beauty in the object. Thus "while every stamen of the rose is given because this was necessary to mark the flower, and while the curves and large characters of the leaves are rendered with exquisite fidelity, there is no vestige of particular texture, of moss, bloom, moisture, or any other accident, no dewdrops, nor flies, nor trickeries of any kind; nothing beyond the simple forms and hues of the flowers, even those hues themselves being simplified and broadly rendered. The varieties of aquilegia have in reality a grayish and uncertain tone of colour, and never attain the purity of blue with which Titian has gifted his flower. But the master does not aim at the particular colour of individual blossoms; he seizes the type of all, and gives it with the utmost purity and simplicity of which colour is capable." A second point to be noticed is the way in which one kind of truth has often to be sacrificed in order to gain another. Thus here Titian sacrifices truth of aerial effect to richness of tone—tone in the sense, that is, of that quality of colour which makes us feel that the whole picture is in one climate, under one kind of light, and in one kind of atmosphere. "It is difficult to imagine anything more magnificently impossible than the blue of the distant landscape; impossible, not from its vividness, but because it is not faint and aerial enough to account for its purity of colour; it is too dark and blue at the same time; and there is indeed so total a want of atmosphere in it, that, but for the difference of form, it would be impossible to tell the mountains intended to be ten miles off, from the robe of[Pg 110] Ariadne close to the spectator. Yet make this blue faint, aerial, and distant; make it in the slightest degree to resemble the tint of nature's colour; and all the tone of the picture, all the intensity and splendour, will vanish on the instant" (Modern Painters, vols. i., xxvii., xxx. (Preface to the Second Edition), pt. i. sec. ii. ch. i. § 5, pt. ii. sec. ii. ch. i. § 15; vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. ix. § 18; vol. v. pt. ix. ch. iii. § 31; Arrows of the Chace, i. 58). We may notice lastly what Sir Joshua Reynolds points out (Discourse viii.), that the harmony of the picture—that wonderful bringing together of two times of which Lamb speaks above, is assisted by the distribution of colours. "To Ariadne is given (say the critics) a red scarf, to relieve the figure from the sea, which is behind her. It is not for that reason alone, but for another of much greater consequence; for the sake of the general harmony and effect of the picture. The figure of Ariadne is separated from the great group, and is dressed in blue, which, added to the colour of the sea, makes that quantity of cold colour which Titian thought necessary for the support and brilliancy of the great group; which group is composed, with very little exception, entirely of mellow colours. But as the picture in this case would be divided into two distinct parts, one half cold and the other warm, it was necessary to carry some of the mellow colours of the great group into the cold part of the picture, and a part of the cold into the great group; accordingly, Titian gave Ariadne a red scarf, and to one of the Bacchantes a little blue drapery."

This famous picture was a commission from the Duke Alfonso I. of Ferrara. There were great delays in its delivery, the Duke and his agents resorting alternately to threats and cajolery in order to extract the promised canvas from the painter. Among other excuses Titian said he had no canvas for it. The Duke supplied the canvas, and sent at the same time a frame. But the picture did not come. Ultimately Titian took it with him to Ferrara in 1522, and finished it there. He seems to have been engaged on it, off and on, for some three years. The picture subsequently passed into the Aldobrandini collection at Rome, from which it was purchased for an English collector in 1806. Twenty years later it was acquired by the National Gallery.

[Pg 111]

36. A LAND STORM.

Gaspard Poussin (French: 1613-1675). See 31.

The one gleam of light breaking through the clouds falls on the watch tower of a castle, perched on a rock—"a stately image of stability," where all things else are bent beneath the power of the storm. The spirit of the picture is, however, better than its execution. Take, for instance, the clouds. They are mere "massive concretions of ink and indigo, wrung and twisted very hard, apparently in a vain effort to get some moisture out of them" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. iii. ch. iv. § 6). In the tree forms, again, Ruskin sees a concentration of errors. "Gaspard Poussin, by his bad drawing, does not make his stem strong, but his tree weak; he does not make his gust violent, but his boughs of Indian-rubber" (for details of this criticism see ibid., vol. i. pt. ii. sec. vi. ch. i. §§ 12, 13).

37. See under 7.

38. THE ABDUCTION OF THE SABINE WOMEN.

Rubens (Flemish: 1577-1640).

Peter Paul Rubens, born on the festival of Saints Peter and Paul (hence his Christian name), is the chief glory of the Flemish School, and one of the great masters of the world. It is impossible to walk round any gallery where there are good specimens of his work and not to be impressed at once with his power. Here, one feels, is a strong man, who knew what he wanted to paint, and was able to paint it. Whatever moral or poetical feelings he had or had not, he was at any rate master of the painter's language,[68] and this language is itself "so difficult and so vast, that the mere possession of it argues the man is great, and that his works are worth reading." "I have never spoken," says Ruskin elsewhere, "and I never will speak of Rubens but with the most reverential feeling; and whatever imperfections in his art may have resulted from his unfortunate want of seriousness and incapability of true passion, his calibre of mind was originally such that I believe the world may see another Titian and another Raphael, before it sees another Rubens." Rubens affords, in fact, "the Northern parallel to the power of the Venetians." Like the Venetians, [Pg 112]too, he is a great colourist. The pictures by the later Northern painters which here hang around his are dark and gloomy; his are all bright and golden. He is like Paul Veronese, too, in his "gay grasp of the outside aspects of the world."[69] His pictures in this Gallery embrace a wide range of subjects—some peaceful, others tumultuous—some religious, others profane, but over them all is the same gay glamour, "Alike, to Rubens, came subjects of tumult or tranquillity, of gaiety or terror; the nether, earthly, and upper world were to him animated with the same feeling, lighted by the same sun; he dyed in the same lake of fire the warp of the wedding-garment or of the winding-sheet; swept into the same delirium the recklessness of the sensualist and rapture of the anchorite; saw in tears only their glittering, and in torture only its flush." A fourth characteristic, which also cannot fail to be perceived in a general survey of Rubens's pictures in the Gallery, remains to be noticed. In all his exuberant joyousness is a strain of coarseness, "a want of feeling for grace and mystery." "There is an absence everywhere of refinement and delicacy, a preference everywhere for abundant and excessive types." He would have agreed, one may think, with the saying of Blake (in the Marriage of Heaven and Hell), "exuberance is beauty,"—Madonnas, goddesses, Roman matrons, have all alike a touch of grossness. Rubens, says Fromentin, "is very earthy, more earthy than any among the masters whose equal he is, but the painter comes to the aid of the draughtsman and the thinker, and sets them free." To like effect Heine speaks of "the colossal good humour of that Netherlands Titan, the wings of whose spirit were so strong that they bore him up to the sun, in spite of the hundredweights of Dutch cheese hanging to his legs."

It is instructive to notice how the art of Rubens was characteristic of the circumstances of his life and time. In the first place, though he travelled in many lands, Rubens remained to the end a Fleming, every inch of him.[70] "A man long trained to love the monk's visions of Fra Angelico, turns in proud and ineffable disgust from the first work of Rubens which he encounters on his return across the Alps. But is he right in his indignation? He has forgotten that while Angelico prayed and wept in his olive shade, there was different work doing in the dank fields of Flanders;—wild seas to be banked out; endless canals to be dug, and boundless marshes to be drained; hard ploughing and harrowing of the frosty clay; careful breeding of stout horses and fat cattle; close setting of brick walls against cold winds and snow; much hardening of hands and gross stoutening of bodies [Pg 113]in all this; gross jovialities of harvest homes and Christmas feasts which were to be the reward of it; rough affections, and sluggish imaginations; fleshy, substantial, iron-shod humanities, but humanities still; humanities which God had his eye upon, and which won, perhaps, here and there, as much favour in his sight as the wasted aspects of the whispering monks of Florence. (Heaven forbid it should not be so, since the most of us cannot be monks, but must be ploughmen and reapers still.) And are we to suppose there is no nobility in Rubens's masculine and universal sympathy with all this, and with his large human rendering of it, Gentleman though he was, by birth, and feeling, and education, and place; and, when he chose, lordly in conception also? He had his faults, perhaps great and lamentable faults, though more those of his time and his country than his own; he has neither cloister breeding nor boudoir breeding, and is very unfit to paint either in missals or annuals; but he has an open sky and wide-world breeding in him, that we may not be offended with, fit alike for king's court, knight's camp, or peasant's cottage." It is thus that Rubens was a child of Flanders. But he was also a child of the intellectual time in which he lived. He was born at a time, says Ruskin, when the Reformation had been arrested—his father, curiously enough, had fled from Antwerp as a Reformer, but afterwards returned to Catholicism. "The Evangelicals despised the arts, while the Roman Catholics were effete or insincere, and could not retain influence over men of strong reasoning power. The painters could only associate frankly with men of the world, and themselves became men of the world. Men, I mean, having no belief in spiritual existences, no interests or affections beyond the grave. Not but that they still painted Scriptural subjects. Altarpieces were wanted occasionally, and pious patrons sometimes commissioned a cabinet Madonna. But there is just this difference between men of this modern period and the Florentines or Venetians—that, whereas the latter never exert themselves fully except on a sacred subject, the Flemish and Dutch masters are always languid unless they are profane." Rubens was thus a man of the world. When a boy he was for some time page in the family of a countess at Brussels. But his bent towards art was too strong to be gainsaid. When only twenty-two he was already a master-painter in the Antwerp Guild. Two years later he went to Italy, and for eight years he was in the service of the Duke of Mantua. An excellent Latin scholar, he was also proficient in French, Italian, English, German, and Dutch. These gifts procured him diplomatic employment. In 1603 "the Fleming," as they called him, was sent on a mission to Spain. In 1608 news of his mother's illness reached him, and he hastened home, when he was appointed court-painter to the Archduke Albert, then Governor of the Netherlands. In 1620 he visited Paris, at the invitation of Mary de' Medici (a sister of the Duchess of Mantua), and received the commission for the celebrated series of pictures now in the Louvre, commemorating the marriage of that princess with[Pg 114] Henry IV. of France. In 1628 Rubens was sent on a mission to Philip IV. of Spain, and made the acquaintance of Velazquez. The great decorative master and the great realist (his junior by twenty-two years) painted together, travelled together, and talked together for eight or nine months. Rubens, we are told, was never so well pleased as when he was in the company of Velazquez, and Velazquez showed no resentment at the commissions given by the court to the foreign painter. In 1629 Rubens was sent to Charles I. of England (see under 46), by whom, in the following year, he was knighted. He was also given an honorary degree by the University of Cambridge. On this occasion, Rubens was commissioned to paint the pictures which adorn the ceiling of the Banqueting Hall of Whitehall (now the United Service Institution). Wherever he went Rubens continued to paint, and his diplomacy he considered as mere recreation. "The painter Rubens," he is reported to have said of himself, "amuses himself with being ambassador." "So said one with whom, but for his own words, we might have thought that effort had been absorbed in power, and the labour of his art in its felicity." How hard he laboured is known by the enormous number of his works which still survive, by the large fortune he amassed, and by the great request in which his talents were held. "Whatever work of his I may require," wrote a celebrated Antwerp printer, "I have to ask him six months before, so as that he may think of it at leisure, and do the work on Sundays or holidays; no week-days of his could I pretend to get under 100 florins." But of the several thousands of works ascribed to the master, many were painted from his sketches by pupils and assistants. "To put it plainly, Rubens established a picture factory at Antwerp. He was thus enabled to paint portraits, landscapes, hunting scenes, and pictures of genre, as well as to undertake several series of gigantic decorations as important as those of Raphael or Michael Angelo. The master made small, lively sketches of the work to be done, the pupils laid them in, each doing what suited his talent, while Rubens reserved to himself the duty of bringing the picture together; in some cases by using the work beneath as a ground for almost complete repainting, in most cases by mainly correcting here and there, or enhancing the effect with a few brilliant and dexterous touches" (R. A. M. Stevenson's "Portfolio monograph" on Rubens). Brueghel, Snyders, Teniers, and Van Dyck were among his assistants. Some of Rubens's letters contain curious information on his methods. Thus he offers to Sir Dudley Carleton certain pictures in exchange for a collection of antique marbles. Among them was to be "'A Last Judgment,' begun by one of my pupils after an original which I made of much larger size for the Prince of Neubourg, who paid me for it 3500 florins in ready money. As the present piece is not quite finished, I will retouch it altogether by myself, so that it can pass for an original: 1200 florins."

Rubens was unspoilt by success. Like many other great artists, he is conspicuous for "a quite curious gentleness and serene courtesy.... His letters are almost ludicrous in their unhurried polite[Pg 115]ness. He was an honourable and entirely well-intentioned man, earnestly industrious, simple and temperate in habits of life, highbred, learned, and discreet. His affection for his mother was great, his generosity to contemporary artists unfailing." He was twice married. In 1626 his first wife, Isabella Brant, died. Four years later he married Helena Fourment, a beautiful girl of sixteen, the living incarnation of his feminine type. "At the time of his second marriage Rubens was fifty-three years of age. He led a serious, happy, retired life. His leisure time he devoted to his family, to a few friends, to his correspondence, his collections, and his rides." "In the morning," we read, "he rose very early, and while he painted someone read aloud Livy, Plutarch, Cicero, Virgil or other poets. Then he would stroll in his gallery to stimulate his taste by the sight of the works of art he had brought from Italy. On other occasions he would study science, in which he always retained an active interest. Although he lived splendidly, he ate and drank moderately, and the gout from which he suffered in later life was certainly undeserved. He painted in the afternoon till towards evening, when he mounted a horse and rode out of the town." His house at Antwerp still stands; as also does his country-house, near Mechlin, of which there is a view in our Gallery (No. 66) (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. i. ch. vii. § 15, sec. ii. ch. ii. § 12; vol. ii. pt. iii. sec. i. ch. i. § 2; vol. iv. pt. v. ch. i. § 17; vol. v. pt. viii. ch. iv. § 21, pt. ix. ch. vi. §§ 1-9; On the Old Road, i. 185, 186; Stones of Venice, vol. i. App. 15; Wauters, The Flemish School, p. 214).

"A miracle of agitation. A flush tide of the richest colour, which positively seems to boil up in swirling eddies of harmonious form. Its whole surface is swept by lines which rush each other on like the rapid successive entrances of an excited stretto, till the violent movement seems to undulate the entire pattern of the picture" (R. A. M. Stevenson: Velazquez, 1899, p. 51). As for the subject, see for the story of the Sabine women under 644. But the subject in this case does not greatly matter. "Rubens in one of his most marvellous pictures, the Rape of the Sabines, which hangs in the National Gallery, did not even take the trouble to dress his Sabines in the costumes of their day. Without any more ado he dressed them in the style of the seventeenth century. One might rather think it a kidnapping of beautiful Antwerp women on a Flemish fair-day. But what difference does it make? He has made white shoulders that shine, sumptuous stuffs, warriors with glittering arms—all which is instinct with life, and blazes with the deepest colouring of the greatest of Flemish masters. The colourists have never considered the subject[Pg 116] otherwise than as a means of representing life under such and such actions, or such and such aspects, joyful or sad, or simply plastic" (Benjamin Constant in North American Review, Nov. 1900).

39. THE NURSING OF BACCHUS.

Nicolas Poussin (French: 1593[71]-1665).

The life of Nicolas Poussin may be summed up in the cry of Æneas, Italiam petimus—we make for Italy. He was born in Normandy, of a noble family, and first learnt painting under Quintin Varin at Les Andelys. When eighteen he went to Paris and became acquainted with Courtois, the mathematician, whose collection of Italian prints fired him with a desire to go to Rome. This devotion to Rome became from that day the leading point alike in his life and in his art. Among the artist friends of his wandering years was Philippe de Champaigne (see under 798). After several unsuccessful efforts to get to Rome, Poussin made the acquaintance at Lyons of the Italian poet Marino, who invited him to Rome (1624), and introduced him to Cardinal Barberini. The Cardinal, however, was called away, and for a time Poussin's life in Rome was one of severe struggle. He also fell ill, and was nursed by a compatriot, Dughet, whose daughter he afterwards married. The wife brought her husband a comfortable dowry, with which a house was bought, and the painter, now released from the pinch of poverty, was able to give free play to his talents. In 1640 he returned to Paris, where he was introduced by Richelieu (for whom amongst other pictures he painted No. 62 in this Gallery) to Louis XIII. The king appointed him his painter-in-ordinary, with a salary of £120 and rooms in the Tuileries, but two years later, disgusted with the intrigues and jealousies of Paris, and being anxious to rejoin his wife, he returned to Rome, where he remained—full of work—for the rest of his life. His house on the Pincian, adjoining the church of the Trinita, may still be seen, and he is buried in the church of St. Lorenzo. Poussin, says his biographer, Bellori, led a regular life, rising early and taking a walk for one or two hours, sometimes in the city, but more often on Monte Pincio, not far from his house. From these lovely gardens he could enjoy the view of Rome on its hills; there he met his friends and discoursed on curious and learned topics. "In the evening he went out again and walked on the Piazza di Spagna, at the foot of the hill, in the midst of the strangers who congregate there. He always had friends with him, and often they made a kind of retinue. He spoke often of art, and so clearly, that artists and all cultivated men of talent came to hear his beautiful and profound thoughts about painting." "During my sojourn [Pg 117]in Rome," says a traveller of that period, "I often saw Poussin. I admired the extreme love this excellent painter had for perfection in his art. I met him among the ruins of Rome, in the Campagna, and on the banks of the Tiber, and I saw him carry home stones, moss, flowers, and other things, in order to paint them from nature. One day I asked him how he had attained such an elevation among the greatest artists of Italy. He answered modestly, 'I have neglected nothing.'"

It is Rome which gives the leading idea also to Poussin's art. He has been called the "Raphael of France"; and certain it is that at a time when the local art of France was purely decorative in character, he returned, and strenuously adhered, to classical traditions. Already at Paris he had studied casts and prints after Raphael; and when he first went to Rome he lived with Du Quesnoy ("Il Fiammingo"), under whom he learnt the art of modelling bassi-relievi. He also studied anatomy, and attended the academy of Domenichino, whom he considered the first master in Rome. His profound classical learning has caused him to be called "the learned Poussin." "He studied the beautiful," says his biographer, "in the Greek statues of the Vatican." "He studied the ancients so much," says Sir Joshua Reynolds, "that he acquired a habit of thinking in their way, and seemed to know perfectly the actions and gestures they would use on every occasion." His learning went, however, farther than this in its influence on his art. His ideal, says Lanzi, was that of "philosophy in painting"; and in one of his letters Poussin illustrates the idea from the Greek theory of "modes" in music. If a subject were serious, it should be painted in the Doric mode; if vehement, in the Phrygian; if plaintive, in the Lydian; if joyous, in the Ionic.[72] This classical learning of Poussin was the source at once of his strength and of his weakness as an artist. On the one hand, it often made his work wonderfully harmonious and impressive. Thus in the Ionic mode, his Bacchanalian pictures in this Gallery and elsewhere are nearly the best representations in art of the Epicurean ideal of life, of a world in which enjoyment is the end of existence. "His best works," says Ruskin, "are his Bacchanalian revels, always brightly wanton, full of frisk and fire; but they are coarser than Titian's[73] and infinitely [Pg 118]less beautiful. In all minglings of the human and brutal character he leans on the bestial, yet with a sternly Greek severity of treatment." Again, in more serious Doric mode, he is "the great master of the elevated ideal of landscape." He does not "put much power into his landscape when it becomes principal; the best pieces of it occur in fragments behind his figures. Beautiful vegetation, more or less ornamental in character, occurs in nearly all his mythological subjects, but his pure landscape is notable only for its dignified reserve; the great squareness and horizontality of its masses, with lowness of tone, giving it a deeply meditative character:" see especially 40. On the other hand, he had the defects of his training. It made him too restrained and too cold. "His peculiarities are, without exception, weaknesses, induced in a highly intellectual and inventive mind by being fed on medals, books, and bassi-relievi instead of nature, and by the want of any deep sensibility." Thus he "had noble powers of design, and might have been a thoroughly great painter had he been trained in Venice;[74] but his Roman education kept him tame; his trenchant severity was contrary to the tendencies of his age, and had few imitators, compared to the dashing of Salvator and the mist of Claude. These few imitators adopted his manner without possessing either his science or invention; and the Italian School of landscape soon expired.... This restraint, peculiarly classical, is much too manifest in him; for, owing to his habit of never letting himself be free, he does nothing as well as it ought to be done, rarely even as well as he can himself do it; and his best beauty is poor, incomplete and characterless, though refined." Finally, his "want of sensibility permits him to paint frightful subjects without feeling any true horror; his pictures of the plague are thus ghastly in incident, sometimes disgusting, but never impressive:" see 165 (collected from Modern Painters, vol. i. preface, p. xxv., pt. ii. sec. i. ch. vii. § 14; vol. ii. pt. iii. sec. ii. ch. ii. § 19; vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. xviii. § 28; vol. v. pt. ix. ch. v. § 17).

The wine-god is represented in infancy, nursed by the nymphs and fauns of Eubœa, and fed not on milk but on the juice of the grape. "The picture makes one thirsty to look at it—the colouring even is dry and adust. The figure of the infant Bacchus seems as if he would drink up a vintage—he drinks with his mouth, his hands, his belly, and his whole body. Gargantua was nothing to him" (Hazlitt: Criticisms on Art, p. 33).

[Pg 119]

40. LANDSCAPE: PHOCION.

Nicolas Poussin (French: 1593-1665). See 39.

"The work of a really great and intellectual mind, one of the finest landscapes that ancient art has produced"[75] (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. ii. ch. i. § 8),—its excellence consisting in the perfect harmony of the landscape with the subject represented, and thus marking the painter's sense of the dependence of landscape for its greatest impressiveness on human interest. In the foreground to the left is Phocion "the good"—the incorruptible Athenian general and statesman, contemporary with Philip and Alexander the Great, of whom it is recorded that he was "never elated in prosperity nor dejected in adversity," and "never betrayed pusillanimity by a tear nor joy by a smile." He wears an undyed robe, and is washing his feet at a public fountain, the dress and action being thus alike emblematic of the purity and simplicity of his life. In entire keeping with this figure of noble simplicity is the feeling of the landscape in which "all the air a solemn stillness holds." In detail, however, Ruskin finds the picture deficient in truth—false, indeed, both in tone and colour (see ibid., vol. i. pt. ii. sec. ii. ch. ii. § 5).

41. THE DEATH OF PETER MARTYR.

Ascribed to Cariani. See under 1203.

For the legend, see under 812—a more pleasing version of the same subject. The man was afterwards regarded as a martyr and canonised; and here, too, notice that he is made to see the angels as he dies.

[Pg 120]

42. A BACCHANALIAN FESTIVAL.

Nicolas Poussin (French: 1593-1665). See 39.

A realisation of the classic legends of mirth and jollity, precisely in the spirit of Keats's ode On a Grecian Urn

What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape Of deities or mortals, or of both, In Tempe or the dales of Arcady? What men or gods are these? What maidens loath? What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

"This masterpiece, conceived in the manner of Titian and imbued with the spirit of the antique, full of life, and incomparable for its qualities of drawing and painting, is perhaps the most beautiful work which Nicolas Poussin ever painted, and, with the 'Bacchanalian Dance' (No. 62), is among the most valued possessions of the National Gallery" (Poynter: The National Gallery, ii. 104).

43. CHRIST TAKEN DOWN FROM THE CROSS.

Rembrandt (Dutch: 1606-1669). See 45.

A sketch for a composition which Rembrandt etched and also drew. The drawing is in the British Museum. This sketch was formerly in the possession of Sir Joshua Reynolds, at whose sale it was bought by Sir George Beaumont.

44. A BLEACHING GROUND.

J. van Ruysdael (Dutch: 1628-1682). See 627.

This little picture, which dates from the earliest days of the National Gallery, was for many years obscured with dirt and not exhibited to the public. It has recently been cleaned, and shows one of the painter's favourite subjects—the bleaching grounds in the neighbourhood of Haarlem. Before the discovery of chemical means of bleaching linen, these were a great source of income to the town. Linen was brought here from all parts of the continent to be bleached, and then went back as Dutch linen or Holland.

[Pg 121]

45. THE WOMAN TAKEN IN ADULTERY.

Rembrandt (Dutch: 1606-1669).

Rembrandt Harmensz—called also Van Rhyn, "of the Rhine," from having been born on the banks of that river—has a place apart by himself in the history of painting. He is the greatest genius of the Dutch School, and one of the six supreme masters of the world. He is also one of the most distinctive and individual of them all. In what, let us ask, do the genius and the individuality of Rembrandt consist? In the first place, his mastery of the resources of painting, within the sphere and for the ideals he chose for himself, is surpassed by no other artist. "It will be remembered," said Millais, "that Rembrandt in his first period was very careful and minute in detail, and there is evidence of stippling in his flesh-painting; but when he grew older, and in the fulness of his power, all appearance of such manipulation and minuteness vanished in the breadth and facility of his brush, though the advantage of his early manner remained. The latter manner is, of course, much the finer and really the more finished of the two.[76] I have closely examined his pictures at the National Gallery, and have actually seen, beneath that grand veil of breadth, the early work that his art conceals from untrained eyes—the whole science of painting. And herein lies his superiority to Velazquez, who, with all his mighty power and magnificent execution, never rose to the perfection which, above all with painters, consists in ars celare artem" (Magazine of Art, 1888, p. 291). "Rembrandt," says Sir Frederic Burton, "would have been unparalleled had he treated nothing but frivolous subjects"; but, in the second place, "the artist was a poet and a seer." He was a seer in his penetration into the mind of man; a poet in his perception of a special kind of beauty. His portraits have "an inward life that belongs to no others in a like degree." It is as a painter of character that he shows himself supreme, bringing out the personality of his sitters in their gestures and attitudes, and in the peculiarity of bearing and expression stamped upon them by temperament and habits. From his dramatic action and mastery of expression, Rembrandt has been called "the Shakespeare of Holland." In his religious subjects, the originality of his mind and power of his imagination are also conspicuous. "He gives," says Ruskin, "pathetic or powerful fancies, founded on real Scripture reading, and on his interest in the picturesque character of the Jew." In all subjects alike, "he moves us by his profound sympathy with his kind, by his tragic power, by his deep pathos, by his humour, which is thoroughly human and seldom cynical." What he held up to nature—and herein is Rembrandt's individuality [Pg 122]most marked—was the dark mirror. "He was," says Leighton, "the supreme painter who revealed to the world the poetry of twilight and all the magic mystery of gloom." "He was in the mystery," says Burton, "that underlies the surface of things." "He accosts with his dark lantern," says Fromentin, "the world of the marvellous, of conscience, and the ideal; he has no master in the art of painting, because he has no equal in the power of showing the invisible." "It was his function," says another critic, "to introduce mystery as an element of effect in the imitative arts." "As by a stroke of enchantment Rembrandt brought down a cloud over the face of nature, and beneath it, half-revealed, half-hidden, her shapes met the eye in aspects full of new suggestion."[77] In the technical method by which Rembrandt worked out his ideal he is the great master of the school of chiaroscuro—of those, that is, who strive at representing not so much the colours of objects, as the contrasts of light and shade upon them. "If it were possible for art to give all the truths of nature it ought to do it. But this is not possible. Choice must always be made of some facts which can be represented from among others which must be passed by in silence, or even, in some respects, misrepresented.... Rembrandt always chooses to represent the exact force with which the light on the most illumined part of an object is opposed to its obscurer portions. In order to obtain this, in most cases, not very important truth, he sacrifices the light and colour of five-sixths of his picture; and the [Pg 123]expression of every character of objects which depends on tenderness of shape or tint. But he obtains his single truth, and what picturesque and forcible expression is dependent upon it, with magnificent skill and subtlety."[78] Rembrandt "sacrifices the light and colour of five-sixths of his picture." This is inevitable. For both the light and the darkness of nature are inimitable by art. "The whole question, therefore, is simply whether you will be false at one end of the scale or at the other—that is, whether you will lose yourself in light or in darkness.... What Veronese does is to make his colours true to nature as far as he can. What Rembrandt does is to make his contrasts true, never minding his colours—with the result that in most cases not one colour is absolutely true."[79] An exception, however, must be made. For he often "chose subjects in which the real colours were very nearly imitable,—as single heads with dark backgrounds, in which nature's highest light was little above his own." He was particularly fond also of dark scenes lighted only by some small spot of light; as, for instance, in this picture and in No. 47.

The technical skill and sense of power which distinguish Rembrandt's work are reflected in his life—a life of hard labour, sinking towards its close into deep gloom, and a life at all times of a certain aloofness and of restricted vision. He was born at Leyden, being the fifth child of a miller, and from a very early age set himself to etch and sketch the common things about the mill. "His father's mill was, doubtless, Rembrandt's school; the strong and solitary light, with its impenetrable obscurity around, the characteristic feature of many of Rembrandt's best works, is just such an effect as would be produced by the one ray admitted into the lofty chamber of a mill from the small window, its ventilator" (Wornum). He never went to Italy or cultivated the grand style. He studied the life and manner of his own time and people. His models were not conspicuous for elegance; beauty of form was not within the compass of his art. He was indefatigable in making studies both of himself and of his mother. Among the things he studied were, it must be admitted, the lowest functions of humanity and often obscenities of a rollicking kind; coarseness of manner and conversation was common at that time. Rembrandt studied for a short period under a well-known painter, Pieter Lastman, at Amsterdam, where he had for a fellow-pupil a fellow-townsman, Jan Lievens (see 1095), but returned to Leyden in [Pg 124]1624, determined "to study and practise in his own fashion." He soon acquired a considerable reputation; a Dutch poet, in a book published in 1630, refers to him as an instance of precocity, and in disproof of the doctrine of heredity. Rembrandt, "beardless, yet already famous," was the son of a miller, "made of other flour than his father's." As most of his sitters lived in Amsterdam, then a great centre of wealth and learning, Rembrandt moved to that city in 1631. The famous "Anatomy Lesson," now in the Museum at the Hague, was produced in the following year. "He lived very simply," we are told, "and when at work contented himself with a herring or a piece of cheese and bread; his only extravagance was a passion for collecting." In 1634 he married Saskia Uilenburg, a lady of a good Frisian family, and possessed of some fortune. Her features may be recognised in a large number of the painter's pictures; in none more attractively rendered than in the famous picture of the Dresden Gallery, in which she is sitting on her husband's knee. During this period of Rembrandt's life all went well with him. Commissions poured in; his studio was crowded with scholars, and his etchings spread his fame far beyond his native land. He lived for his art and his home, mixing little in society. "When I want to give my wits a rest," he said, "I do not look for honour, but for liberty." "When he was painting," said one of his biographers, "he would not have given audience to the greatest monarch on earth, but would have compelled even such an one to wait or to come again when he was more at leisure." He never travelled, even in Holland, and he dwelt apart. He had few books, but his taste in art was catholic. To his passion for collecting we have already referred. His house, which still stands in the Breedstraat, was a museum of curiosities, containing costly materials, stuffed animals, richly ornamented weapons, casts, engravings, and pictures (including works by Palma Vecchio and Giorgione). The pearls, precious stones, rich necklaces, clasps and bracelets of every kind that Saskia wears in her portraits were not gems of the painter's imagination, but actual objects from the jewel-cases which he filled for his wife. "When Rembrandt was present at a sale," says Baldinucci, "it was his habit, especially when pictures drawn by great masters were put up, to make an enormous advance on the first bid, which generally silenced all competition. To those who expressed their surprise at such a proceeding, he replied that by this means he hoped to raise the status of his profession." This lordly buying was the undoing of Rembrandt's worldly fortunes. In 1642 Saskia died, and his financial embarrassments, which had already begun, went from worse to worse. In 1656 he was declared bankrupt; his house and collections were sold, and at the age of fifty-one he found himself homeless and penniless. He was stripped, we read, even of his household linen, though of this, to be sure, he seems to have had but a meagre store. In his life, as in his art, there were heavy shadows; but the light shines out in his undaunted perseverance. He had lived for some years with his[Pg 125] servant, Hendrickje Stoffels, an uneducated peasant, who served him as a model, and whose homely features appear in many of the pictures of his middle period (see e.g. No. 54). In 1654 Rembrandt had been summoned before the elders of the Church on account of the irregularity of their relationship. But Hendrickje was a good mother to Rembrandt's legitimate children as well as to her own, and in 1660 she and the painter's son, Titus, entered into partnership as art dealers, and supported Rembrandt by the sale of his etchings. His vogue as a painter had by this time been eclipsed by the popularity of painters of less sombre genius. Fallen from his rich estate and frowned upon by the Church, the master found himself in the last period of his life deserted and unhonoured. Yet to this period belong many of his noblest works. "He had never cared," says M. Michel, "for the suffrages of the crowd. He set his face more steadily than ever towards the goal he had marked out for himself. Within the walls of his makeshift studios, seeking solace in work and meditation, he lived for his art more absolutely than before; and some of his creations of this period have a poetry and a depth of expression such as he had never hitherto achieved." But fresh sorrows descended upon the master as the end drew near. Hendrickje died about 1664, and this blow was followed in 1668 by the death of Titus. Crushed in spirit and broken by poverty, the old painter did not long survive his son. He died in 1669—unknown, unrecorded, and dishonoured. Gerard de Lairesse, then at the height of his reputation, said of him only that he was a master "who merely achieved an effect of rottenness," and was "capable of nothing but vulgar and prosaic subjects." Now, two centuries and a quarter after his death, Rembrandt's fame stands higher than even in the heyday of his success. His work as a painter is represented in the National Gallery by several masterpieces. Of his drawings and etchings the British Museum possesses a splendid collection; an exhibition of these (illustrated by an admirable Catalogue) was arranged in 1899.

A tour de force in the artist's speciality of contrasts of light and shade. Notice how a succession of these contrasts gradually renders the subject intelligible. "The eye falls at once upon the woman, who is dressed in white, passes then to the figure of Christ, which next to her is the most strongly lighted—and so on to Peter, to the Pharisees, to the soldiers, till at length it perceives in the mysterious gloom of the Temple the High Altar, with the worshippers on the steps" (Waagen: Treasures of Art in Great Britain, i. 353). "Beyond the ordinary claims of art, this picture commands our attention from the grand conception of the painter, who here, as in other pictures and etchings, has invested Christ with a majestic dignity which recalls Leonardo and no other" (J. F. White).

[Pg 126]

This picture, which was painted in 1644 for Jan Six, the well-known patron of Rembrandt, passed eventually into the possession of Mr. Angerstein. The poet Wordsworth, describing a visit he paid to the Angerstein collection, wrote to Sir George Beaumont in 1808: "Coleridge and I availed ourselves of your letters to Lawrence, and saw Mr. Angerstein's pictures. The day was very unfavourable, not a gleam of sun, and the clouds were quite in disgrace. The great picture of Michael Angelo and Sebastian (No. 1) pleased me more than ever. The new Rembrandt has, I think, much, very much, in it to admire, but still more to wonder at rather than admire. I have seen many pictures of Rembrandt which I should prefer to it. The light in the depth of the temple is far the finest part of it: indeed, it is the only part of the picture which gives me very high pleasure; but that does highly please me" (Memorials of Coleorton, ii. 49).

46. THE BLESSINGS OF PEACE

Rubens (Flemish: 1577-1640). See 38.

This picture was presented in 1630 to King Charles I. by Rubens, when he came to England as accredited ambassador for the purpose of negotiating a peace with Spain. After the death of Charles, the Parliament sold the picture for £100. It passed into the possession of the Doria family at Genoa, where it was known as "The Family of Rubens." It was afterwards bought by the Marquis of Stafford for £3000, and by him presented to the National Gallery.[80]

[Pg 127]

The circumstances under which the picture was painted gave the clue to its meaning. Rubens came to urge Charles to conclude peace, and here on canvas he sets forth its blessings. In the centre of the picture is the Goddess of Wisdom, with Minerva's helmet on her head, her right hand resting on her spear, now to be used no more. Before her flies War, reluctantly, as if he dared not resist Wisdom, yet employing his shield, in order still to shelter Discord, with her torch now extinguished. Last of all in the hateful train is Malice, whose very breath is fire, and who "endeth foul in many a snaky fold"—in the serpent's folds, which ever attend the hostilities of nations. Beneath Minerva's protection sits Peace enthroned, and gives the milk of human kindness for babes to suck. From above, Zephyrus, the soft warm wind, descends with the olive wreath—the emblem in all ages of public peace, whilst at her side stands the "all-bounteous Pan," with Amalthea's storied Horn of Plenty. A band of happy children, led by Love (whose torch, now that Discord's is gone out, burns aloft), approach to taste the sweets of Peace, and to minister to abundance. In the train of Plenty comes Opulence, bringing goblets, wreaths of pearl, and other treasures; whilst behind is Music, playing on her tambourine to celebrate the arts of peace. Last of all in the foreground is a leopard, not hurting or destroying any more, but playful as a lamb—

All crimes shall cease, and ancient fraud shall fail; Returning Justice lift aloft her scale; Peace o'er the world her olive wand extend, And white-rob'd Innocence from heaven descend.... No more shall nation against nation rise, Nor ardent warriors meet with hateful eyes.... The lambs with wolves shall graze the verdant mead, And boys in flowery bands the tiger lead.
Pope: Messiah.

[Pg 128]

47. THE ADORATION OF THE SHEPHERDS.

Rembrandt (Dutch: 1606-1669). See 45.

A characteristic piece of "Bible by candle-light." There is, however, something spiritually instructive, as well as technically skilful, in the way in which such light there is all proceeds from Him who came to be the light of the world: compared with this divine light that in the lantern of the shepherds pales and is ineffectual. The picture is dated 1646. For the most part, however, the picture is a piece of pure realism, which may be contrasted in an instructive way with the essentially religious art of earlier schools. Here there is little, if any, symbolism, and "the decorative qualities with which a painter like Botticelli appealed to the imagination to heighten the impressiveness of the story have vanished also. In their stead we have pure naturalism,—naturalism of a very refined and cultured order, which appeals to the imagination as powerfully, but in a totally different way. The charm of the picture is independent of any exegetical qualities. Rembrandt treats the Nativity as a natural event, in a scientific spirit. The only connection between this picture and religious art is that it represents certain conventional attributes which are common to both. But just so much as we subtract from it as an exponent of strictly religious thought, just so much must we add to it as appealing to the intellect in general; its impressiveness, its sublimity, and its suggestiveness, and it has all these, are evolved out of the phenomena of natural effects by a poetical process" (J. E. Hodgson, R.A., in Magazine of Art, 1890, p. 42).

48. LANDSCAPE, WITH TOBIAS AND THE ANGEL.

Domenichino (Eclectic-Bologna, 1581-1641).

Domenico Zampieri, called Domenichino for his small stature, was born at Bologna, the son of a shoemaker. He entered the school of the Carracci, and afterwards was invited to Rome by Albani, in whose house he lived. Here he soon acquired a great reputation, and was taken by Annibale Carracci as assistant in the execution of the frescoes of the Farnese Palace. The Cardinals Borghese and Aldobrandini were also among his patrons. In 1617 he revisited Bologna, where he married. In 1621 he was recalled to Rome by the Pope Gregory XV., who appointed him principal painter and architect to the pontifical palace.[Pg 129] Some of the villas at Frascati were designed by him. In 1630 he was invited to Naples to decorate the Cappella del Tesoro of the Duomo, a commission which Guido Reni sought in vain. Here Domenichino incurred the hostility of the Neapolitan painters, and the machinations of the notorious triumvirate, the "Cabal of Naples," were suspected of causing his death. At Rome also he had been much persecuted by rival artists. Accusations of plagiarism were levelled at him, and his more pushing competitors "decried him to such a degree that he was long destitute of all commissions." It is interesting to contrast the conditions of (literally) "cut-throat competition," under which the Italian painters of the decadence worked, with the Guild System of the Flemish and the honourable time and piece-work of the earlier Italians.

The varying fortunes of Domenichino's fame form a curious chapter in the history of taste. In his own time and down to the end of the eighteenth century he was ranked among the greatest masters. Poussin placed him next to Raphael. Bellori attributed to him "the same wand which belongs to the poetical enchanters." Sir Joshua Reynolds speaks of him with high respect, and Lanzi describes him as the admiration of all professors, and records the enormous price which his pictures still fetched (1809). Against these panegyrics we may set Ruskin's invectives. "I once supposed," he says, "that there was some life in the landscape of Domenichino, but in this I must have been wrong. The man who painted the 'Madonna del Rosario' and 'Martyrdom of St. Agnes' in the gallery of Bologna is palpably incapable of doing anything good, great, or right, in any field, way, or kind whatsoever.... Whatever appears good in any of the doings of such a painter must be deceptive, and we may be assured that our taste is corrupted and false whenever we feel disposed to admire him.... I am prepared to support this position, however uncharitable it may seem; a man may be tempted into a gross sin by passion and forgiven, and yet there are some kinds of sins into which only men of a certain kind can be tempted, and which cannot be forgiven. It should be added, however, that the artistical qualities of these pictures are in every way worthy of the conceptions they realise; I do not recollect any instance of colour or execution so coarse and feelingless." Domenichino and the Carraccis were, says Ruskin elsewhere, mere "art-weeds." "Their landscape, which may in few words be accurately described as 'scum of Titian,' possesses no single merit, nor any ground for the forgiveness of demerit." "The flight of Domenichino's angels is a sprawl paralysed." "They are peculiarly offensive, studies of bare-legged children howling and kicking in volumes of smoke" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. i. ch. vii. § 13; vol. ii. pt. iii. sec. ii. ch. v. § 17; vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. xviii. § 20; Stones of Venice, travellers' edition, vol. ii. ch. vi.; On the Old Road, vol. i. § 91). Ruskin's estimate, "though expressed with such a clangour of emphasis," yet fairly represents, as Mr. Symonds says, the feeling of modern students. Perhaps, however, the reaction against the once worshipped pictures of Domenichino has gone too far.[Pg 130] His celebrated "Diana and her Nymphs" in the Borghese Gallery is "a charming picture," says Morelli, "worthy of a purer period of art. Full of cheerful animation and naïve and delightful details, it cannot fail to please" (Roman Galleries, p. 228). Of the moral obliquity which Ruskin seems to impute, Domenichino must be acquitted. He appears to have been a simple, modest, painstaking, and virtuous person. "He was misled by his dramatic bias, and also by the prevalent religious temper of his age. That he belonged to a school which was essentially vulgar in its choice of type, to a city never distinguished for delicacy of taste, and to a generation which was rapidly losing the sense of artistic reserve, suffices to explain the crude brutality of the conceptions which he formed of tragic episodes" (Symonds, Renaissance, vii. 220). Lanzi says with truth that Domenichino's style of painting is "almost theatrical." He tears the passion of his figures to tatters—"exaggerated action destroying," as Ruskin says, "all appearance of intense feeling." An interesting tale is told of the way in which the artist worked himself up. He was engaged on a scene of martyrdom, and "in painting one of the executioners he actually threw himself into a passion, using threatening words and actions. Annibale Carracci, surprising him at that moment, embraced him, exclaiming with joy, 'To-day, my Domenichino, thou art teaching me.'"

Tobias, directed by the angel, is drawing out of the water the fish that attacked him. See the Book of Tobit, ch. vi. 4, 5, and the note on No. 781.

49. THE PORTRAIT OF RUBENS.

Van Dyck (Flemish: 1599-1641).

Sir Anthony Van Dyck, the prince of court portrait-painters and the most famous of Rubens's pupils, is one of the many great artists whose gifts showed themselves almost from birth. He was born at Antwerp, the seventh child of a tradesman in good circumstances. His mother was a woman of taste, who attained considerable skill in art-needlework, and from her he doubtless derived many of the qualities for which his works are conspicuous. At the age of ten the boy had already begun to paint. His admission at the age of thirteen to the crowded studio of Rubens is a proof of his precocious talent. Documents recently discovered show that Van Dyck when seventeen had already pupils of his own, and that his independent work was sought after by artists and amateurs. At nineteen he was admitted to the painters' Guild of St. Luke. For five years (1620-25) he was for the most part travelling and painting in Italy, with introductions from Rubens. Many of his best works are still to be seen in Genoa and Turin. He also visited Venice, where the spell of Titian's genius enchanted him. Several[Pg 131] sketches in the British Museum testify to his devout study of the great Venetian. On his return to Antwerp at the end of 1625, Van Dyck soon became the great court-painter of his time. Queens visited him in his studio, and the nobility of three nations considered it an honour to be painted by him. Religious pictures were also produced by him at this time with amazing rapidity. In 1632 he came to England. He had already paid a short visit in 1620-21, when he had painted James I., and was in receipt of a grant from the Exchequer "for special service performed for His Majesty." This first visit to England seems to have been due to the initiative of the celebrated connoisseur, the Earl of Arundel. At the court of Charles I. Van Dyck came at once into the highest favour. Sir Kenelm Digby, a gentleman of the bedchamber, was his bosom friend, and on his first presentation to Charles I. he obtained permission to paint the king and queen. He was appointed painter to the court, was knighted, and received a pension of £200. A town-house was given him at Blackfriars, and a country-house at Eltham. He "always went magnificently dressed, had a numerous and gallant equipage, and kept so good a table in his apartment that few princes were more visited or better served." In England alone there are said to be twenty-four portraits of the king by Van Dyck, and twenty-five of Queen Henrietta Maria. Every one of distinction desired to have his or her features immortalised by the court-painter, and for seven years he worked at the portraits of the English aristocracy with indefatigable industry. Some 300 of these portraits exist in this country. The painter's health gradually began to fail, from the constant drain upon his strength caused by the incessant labour necessary to procure the means of gratifying his luxurious tastes, and also by his irregular mode of life. Van Dyck, says Mr. Law in his Catalogue of the Hampton Court Gallery, "loved beauty in every form, and found the seduction of female charms altogether irresistible." In 1639 he married Mary Ruthven, grand-daughter of the unfortunate Lord Ruthven, Earl of Gowrie—a marriage promoted by the king, who hoped thereby to effect a change in the painter's habits of life. Margaret Lemon, the celebrated beauty, who lived with Van Dyck for some time at Blackfriars, resented the marriage most bitterly, and tried to maim the painter's right hand. In 1640-41 he travelled abroad with his wife, but returned to this country a dying man. The king offered a special reward to any doctor who could save the painter's life; but he expired in his house at Blackfriars on December 9, 1641, at the early age of forty-two. Two days afterwards he was buried in the old cathedral of St. Paul's, and the king erected a monument to record the death of one "who in life had conferred immortality on many." A magnificent collection of his works was shown at the Royal Academy in the winter exhibition of 1900.

The characteristics of Van Dyck's art may in large measure be gathered from the circumstances of his life. He is essentially the painter of princes. His sacred and other subject pictures are often remarkable for force and vigour of handling. "Van Dyck," says[Pg 132] Ruskin, "often gives a graceful dramatic rendering of received Scriptural legends." But it is not in these subjects that Van Dyck is seen in his most interesting and most characteristic manner. "Rubens is only to be seen in the Battle of the Amazons, and Van Dyck only at court." No more in him than in the other later Flemish artists is there anything spiritual. The difference between him and Teniers, for instance, is accidental rather than essential. "They lived," says Ruskin, "the gentle at court, the simple in the pot-house; and could indeed paint, according to their habitation, a nobleman or a boor, but were not only incapable of conceiving, but wholly unwishful to conceive, anything, natural or supernatural, beyond the precincts of the Presence and the tavern." What distinguishes Van Dyck is the indelible mark of courtly grace and refinement which he gives to all his sitters. Nowhere clearer than in his portraits does one see the better side of the "Cavalier" ideal. In this connection we may note Van Dyck's feeling for the nobility of the horse (see note on No. 156). One thing "that gives nobleness to the Van Dyck," says Ruskin in describing one of his "cavalier" portraits, "is its feminineness; the rich, light silken scarf, the flowing hair, the delicate, sharp, though sunburnt features, and the lace collar, do not in the least diminish the manliness, but add feminineness. One sees that the knight is indeed a soldier, but not a soldier only; that he is accomplished in all ways, and tender in all thoughts." The reader who remembers any large collection of Van Dycks will feel that the spirit of Ruskin's description is true to a very large number of them. One may forget the individual sitter; the impression left by the Van Dyck type is indelible. Charles I. and his Queen, though painted by several other painters, are known to posterity exclusively through Van Dyck—not (says M. Hymans) from a greater closeness of resemblance to the original, but from a particular power of expression and bearing, which, once seen, it is impossible to forget. The same may be said of Van Dyck's portraits generally. He endowed all his sitters alike with the same distinction of feature and elegance in bearing. He excelled in giving delicacy to the hands, and is said to have kept special models for this part of his work. He is not what is called an "intimate" portrait painter. He does not startle us with penetration in seizing points of individual character; he charms us with the refinement of his type. "In Titian," says Ruskin, "it is always the Man whom we see first; in Van Dyck the Prince or the Sir." With regard to Van Dyck's technique, his earlier productions (says Sir F. Burton) "are scarcely to be distinguished from those of Rubens, and there are cases in which dogmatism as to authorship would be hazardous.[81] Differentiation is first visible in a greater precision, a slenderer, it might be said, a more wiry touch, and a cooler colouring, on the part of the pupil." At its worst, Van Dyck's touch is distinguished by what Ruskin calls a certain "flightiness and flimsiness"; at its best, by [Pg 133]great refinement: "there is not a touch of Van Dyck's pencil but he seems to have revelled in—not grossly, but delicately—tasting the colour in every touch as an epicure would wine." His output was prodigious; in spite of his early death more than 1000 works are attributed to him. A considerable portion of many of these was done by assistants, and his later works are often hasty and careless. The references to Van Dyck in Ruskin's books are numerous. (The most interesting are Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. vi. §§ 5, 10, 22; ch. vii. § 23; Elements of Drawing, appendix ii.; On the Old Road, i. § 154; Art of England, 1884, pp. 43, 83, 138, 212.)

A portrait of special interest as having been much prized by Sir Joshua Reynolds, to whom it formerly belonged. When Mr. Angerstein bought it, the great Burke is said to have congratulated him on possessing Sir Joshua's "favourite picture." It is commonly called "The Portrait of Rubens," but the principal figure does not greatly resemble the well-known face of Rubens; it is more probably a portrait of Luke Vostermann, a celebrated engraver of the time. He is discoursing, it would seem, on some point of art, suggested by the little statue which a man behind is holding.

50. ST. AMBROSE AND THEODOSIUS.

Van Dyck (Flemish: 1599-1641). See under last picture.

A copy, with some variations, of a large picture by Rubens now at Vienna. The subject is that described by Gibbon (ch. xxvii.). The Emperor Theodosius, for a massacre of the inhabitants of Thessalonica, was excommunicated by Ambrose, the Archbishop of Milan.

The emperor was deeply affected by his own reproaches, and by those of his spiritual father; and, after he had bewailed the mischievous and irreparable consequences of his own rash fury, he proceeded, in the accustomed manner, to perform his devotions in the great church of Milan. He was stayed in the porch by the Archbishop; who, in the tone and language of an ambassador of heaven, declared to his sovereign that private contrition was not sufficient to atone for a public fault, or to appease the justice of an offended Deity. Theodosius humbly represented that if he had contracted the guilt of homicide, David, the man after God's own heart, had been guilty not only of murder, but of adultery. "You have imitated David in his crime, imitate then his repentance," was the reply of the undaunted Ambrose.

Observe as an instance of picturesque ornament properly[Pg 134] introduced in subordination to the figure subject, the robes of St. Ambrose. "Tintoret, Titian, Veronese, Rubens, and Van Dyck would be very sorry to part with their figured stuffs and lustrous silks; and sorry, observe, exactly in the degree of their picturesque feeling. Should not we also be sorry to have Bishop Ambrose without his vest in that picture of the National Gallery? But I think Van Dyck would not have liked, on the other hand, the vest without the bishop. And I much doubt if Titian or Veronese would have enjoyed going into Waterloo House, and making studies of dresses upon the counters" (Stones of Venice, vol. i. ch. xx. § 13).

51. A JEW MERCHANT.

Rembrandt (Dutch: 1606-1669). See 45.

One of the "heads of the people" whom Rembrandt saw around him; for the street in which he lived at Amsterdam swarmed with Dutch and Portuguese Jews. "In rendering human character, such as he saw about him, Rembrandt is nearly equal to Correggio, Titian, Tintoret, Veronese, or Velazquez; and the real power of him is in his stern and steady touch on lip and brow,—seen best in his lightest etchings,—or in the lightest parts of the handling of his portraits, the head of the Jew in our own Gallery being about as good and thorough work as it is possible to see of his" (Academy Notes, 1859, p. 52).

52. "PORTRAIT OF GEVARTIUS."

Van Dyck (Flemish: 1599-1641). See 49.

One of the most celebrated pictures in the Gallery. The title by which it is commonly known is incorrect; the sitter being not Gaspar Gevarts or Gevartius, but Cornelius van der Geest, an amateur of the arts and a friend of Rubens and Van Dyck. It is the grave learning of a scholar, the gentle refinement of an artist—notice especially "the liquid, living lustre of the eye"—that Van Dyck here puts before us. In point of execution this picture ranks as one of the finest portraits in the world. "From it," says Mr. Watts, R.A., "the modern student will learn more than from any I am acquainted with.[Pg 135] The eyes," he adds, "are miracles of drawing and painting. They are a little tired and overworked, and do not so much see anything as indicate the thoughtful brain behind. How wonderful the flexible mouth! with the light shining through the sparse moustache. How tremulously yet firmly painted. The ear: how set on ... so throughout there is no part of this wonderful portrait that might not be examined and enlarged upon; but I would ask my fellow-students to do this for themselves. Not a touch is put in for what is understood by 'effect.' Dexterous in a superlative degree, there is not in the ordinary sense a dexterous dab doing duty for honourable serious work: nothing done to look well at one distance or another, but to be right at every distance" (Magazine of Art, June 1889). Sir Edward Poynter is equally enthusiastic. "This wonderful portrait," he says, "is perhaps the most perfect head ever painted by this consummate painter. Not only for the brilliancy and purity of its flesh tints, the masterly drawing, and the vitality of the expression, does it rank as one of the masterpieces of portraiture existing; but for the brushwork, of which every touch expresses with supreme dexterity all the varieties of form, substance, and texture, it is unsurpassed, perhaps unrivalled, in the history of painting" (National Gallery, i. 152). Another P.R.A., Benjamin West, copied the "Gevartius," and at this day there is no picture in the Gallery more often copied by students.[82] Their preference is justified by that of the painter himself, who "used to consider it his masterpiece, and before he had gained his great reputation carried it about with him from court to court, and patron to patron, to show what he could do as a portrait painter."[83]

[Pg 136]

53. AN EVENING LANDSCAPE.

Albert Cuyp (Dutch: 1620-1691).

Cuyp was born at Dort—the son of an artist who was one of the founders of the Painters' Guild in that town. He was a deacon and elder of his church, and was a citizen of importance, holding various municipal and judicial offices. As a painter, however, he had little reputation in his own country, and, as is the case with so many of the Dutch masters, it was in England that he was first appreciated. Even in 1750 one of his pictures sold for thirty florins; in 1876 one fetched at Christie's £5040. The high esteem in which his works are thus held is justified alike by their own merits and by his important position in the history of landscape art. He is, in the first place, the principal master of pastoral landscape, "representing peasant life and its daily work, or such scenery as may naturally be suggestive of it, consisting usually of simple landscape, in part subjected to agriculture, with figures, cattle, and domestic buildings." In this respect Cuyp is an interesting case of the detachment of an artist's life. He was born and lived in troublous times; but in looking at his works one would imagine (it has been said) "that he passed his whole life in Arcadia, untroubled by any more anxious thought than whether the sun would give the effect which he required for his paintings, or the cows stay long enough for him to depict them in their natural attitudes." Dwelling on the banks of the placid Maas, he delighted also to reproduce the warm skies of summer or autumn reflected in an expanse of water overspread with marine craft. Secondly, Cuyp has been called the "Dutch Claude," for he was the first amongst the Dutch to "set the sun in the sky." "For expression of effects of yellow sunlight, parts might be chosen out of the good pictures of Cuyp, which have never been equalled in art." It is sunshine, observe, that Cuyp paints, not sun colour. "Observe this accurately. Those easily understood effects of afternoon light, gracious and sweet so far as they reach, are produced by the softly warm or yellow rays of the sun falling through mist. They are low in tone, even in nature, and disguise the colours of objects. They are imitable even by persons who have little or no gift of colour, if the tones of the picture are kept low and in true harmony, and the reflected lights warm. But they never could be painted by great colourists. The fact of blue and crimson being effaced by yellow and grey puts such effect at once out of the notice or thought of a colourist." The task of painting the sun colour was reserved for Turner; yet Cuyp's pictures had a great influence over him." He went steadily through the subdued golden chord, and painted Cuyp's favourite effect, 'sun rising through vapour,' for many a weary year. But this was not enough for him. He must paint the sun in his strength, the sun rising not through vapour. If you turn to the Apollo in the 'Ulysses and Polyphemus' (508), his horses are rising beyond the horizon—you[Pg 137] see he is not 'rising through vapour,' but above it;—gaining somewhat of a victory over vapour, it appears. The old Dutch brewer,[84] with his yellow mist, was a great man and a good guide, but he was not Apollo. He and his dray-horses led the way through the flats cheerily, for a little time; we have other horses now flaming out 'beyond the mighty sea'" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. ii. ch. i. § 19; vol. v. pt. ix. ch. xi. §§ 3, 4). Admirers of Cuyp should make a point of visiting the Dulwich Gallery, which is peculiarly rich in works by this master. In the British Museum are several of his drawings and studies.

An interesting study in what is called "truth of tone" may be made with this picture—by which is meant the "exact relation and fitness of shadow and light, and of the hues of all objects under them; and more especially that precious quality of each colour laid on which makes it appear a quiet colour illuminated, not a bright colour in shade." Now with regard to this Ruskin says, "I much doubt if there be a single bright Cuyp in the world, which, taken as a whole, does not present many glaring solecisms in tone. I have not seen many fine pictures of his which were not utterly spoiled by the vermilion dress of some principal figure—a vermilion totally unaffected and unwarmed by the golden hue of the rest of the picture; and, what is worse, with little distinction between its own illumined and shaded parts, so that it appears altogether out of sunshine—the colour of a bright vermilion in dead, cold daylight.... And these failing parts, though they often escape the eye when we are near the picture and able to dwell upon what is beautiful in it, yet so injure its whole effect that I question if there be many Cuyps in which vivid colours occur, which will not lose their effect and become cold and flat at a distance of ten or twelve paces, retaining their influence only when the eye is close enough to rest on the right parts without including the whole. Take, for instance, the large one in our National Gallery. (Seen at a distance) the black cow appears a great deal nearer than the dogs, and the golden tones of the distance look like a sepia drawing rather than like sunshine, owing chiefly to the utter want of aerial greys indicated [Pg 138]through them" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. ii. ch. i. §§ 11, 19).

54. A WOMAN BATHING.

Rembrandt (Dutch: 1606-1669). See 45.

"Those who have been in Holland," says Mrs. Jameson, "must often have seen the peasant girls washing their linen and trampling on it, precisely in the manner here depicted. Rembrandt may have seen one of them from his window, and snatching up his pencil and palette, he threw the figure on the canvas and fixed it there as by a spell." More probably, however, this is one of Rembrandt's many pictures of his servant and model, Hendrickje Stoffels. "The finest of the whole series," says M. Michel, "is the study of Hendrickje in the National Gallery, the so-called 'Woman Bathing.' It bears the date 1654, and is undoubtedly a masterpiece among Rembrandt's less important works. The young woman, whose only garment is a chemise, stands facing the spectator, in a deep pool. Her attitude suggests a sensation of pleasure and refreshment tempered by the involuntary shrinking of the body at the first contact of the cold water. The light from above glances on her breast and forehead, and on the luxuriant disorder of her bright hair; the lower part of her face and her legs are in deep transparent shadow. The brown tones of the soil, the landscape background and the water, the purple and gold of the draperies, make up a marvellous setting alike for the brilliantly illuminated contour and the more subdued carnations of the model. The truth of the impression, the breadth of the careful but masterly execution, the variety of the handling, proclaim the matured power of the artist, and combine to glorify the hardy grace and youthful radiance of his creation" (Rembrandt: his Life, his Work, and his Time, ii. 70).

55. THE DEATH OF PROCRIS (see under 698).

Claude (French: 1600-1682). See 2.

"A most pathetic picture," says Constable (who made a copy of it when it was in Sir George Beaumont's possession). "The expression of Cephalus is very touching; and, indeed, nothing can be finer than the way in which Claude has told[Pg 139] that affecting story throughout. Procris has come from her concealment to die at the feet of her husband. Above her is a withered tree clasped by ivy, an emblem of love in death,—while a stag seen on the outline of a hill, over which the rising sun spreads his rays, explains the cause of a fatal mistake.... It is the fashion to find fault with his figures indiscriminately, yet in his best time they are so far from being objectionable that we cannot easily imagine anything else according so well with his scenes; as objects of colour they seem indispensable. Wilson said to a friend who was talking of them in the usual manner, 'Do not fall into the common mistake of objecting to Claude's figures'" (Leslie's Life of Constable, 1845, p. 339).

56. LANDSCAPE WITH FIGURES.

Annibale Carracci (Eclectic-Bologna: 1560-1609). See 9.

57. THE CONVERSION OF ST. BAVON.

Rubens (Flemish: 1577-1640). See 38.

Bavon, a noble of Brabant, in the seventeenth century having determined to renounce the pomps and vanities of the world (his retinue is to be seen on the right), is met on the steps of the convent church by the bishop who is to receive him into his new life. To the left his goods are being given away to the poor, and above there is a group of ladies returning thanks for the noble penitent's conversion.

58. A STUDY OF TREES.

Claude (French: 1600-1682). See 2.

This picture, when in Sir George Beaumont's collection at Coleorton, was copied by Constable and called by him "The Little Grove." In 1823 Constable wrote to a friend, "I have likewise begun 'The Little Grove' by Claude; a noonday scene 'which warms and cheers, but which does not inflame or irritate.' Through the depths of the trees are seen a waterfall and a ruined temple, and a solitary shepherd is piping to some goats and sheep:—

'In closing shades and where the current strays, Pipes the lone shepherd to his feeding flocks.'"

(Leslie's Life of Constable, 1845, p. 119.)

[Pg 140]

59. THE BRAZEN SERPENT.

Rubens (Flemish: 1577-1640). See 38.

"It is interesting to observe the difference in the treatment of this subject by the three great masters, Michael Angelo, Rubens, and Tintoret.... Rubens and Michael Angelo made the fiery serpents huge boa-constrictors, and knotted the sufferers together with them. Tintoret makes ... the serpents little flying and fluttering monsters, like lampreys with wings; and the children of Israel, instead of being thrown into convulsed and writhing groups, are scattered, fainting in the fields, far away in the distance. As usual, Tintoret's conception, while thoroughly characteristic of himself, is also truer to the words of Scripture. We are told that 'the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people'; we are not told that they crushed the people to death. And, while thus the truest, it is also the most terrific conception.... Our instinct tells us that boa-constrictors do not come in armies; and we look upon the picture with as little emotion as upon the handle of a vase, or any other form worked out of serpents, when there is no probability of serpents actually occurring" (Stones of Venice: Venetian Index, "Rocco, Scuola di San," No. 24).

61. LANDSCAPE WITH FIGURES.

Claude (French: 1600-1682). See 2.

The history of this picture is curiously interesting. It belonged to Sir George Beaumont, who valued it so highly that it was, we are told, his travelling companion. He presented it to the National Gallery in 1826, but unable to bear its loss begged it back for the rest of his life. He took it with him into the country, and on his death, two years later, his widow restored it to the nation. Sir George Beaumont was not the only artist who thought highly of this little picture. Constable, we are told, "looked back on the first sight of this exquisite work as an important epoch in his life.... It is called The Annunciation; but the spring by which the female is seated, and the action of the angel who points to the buildings in the distance, leave little doubt that Claude's intention was to represent the first flight of Hagar from the[Pg 141] presence of her mistress" (Leslie's Life of Constable, 1845, p. 6).

62. A BACCHANALIAN DANCE.

Nicolas Poussin (French: 1593-1665). See 39.

This picture, one of Poussin's masterpieces, is probably one of four Bacchanals painted for Cardinal Richelieu:—

Whence came ye, jolly Satyrs! whence came ye, So many, and so many, and such glee? Why have ye left your forest haunts, why left Your nuts in oak-tree cleft?— "For wine, for wine we left our kernel tree; For wine we left our heath, and yellow brooms, And cold mushrooms; For wine we follow Bacchus through the earth; Great god of breathless cups and chirping mirth! Come hither, lady fair, and joined be To our mad minstrelsy!"
Keats: Endymion.

63. LANDSCAPE WITH FIGURES.

Annibale Carracci (Eclectic-Bologna: 1560-1609). See 9.

This picture was originally in the Giustiniani Palace at Rome; hence the figures are supposed to represent (as stated on the frame) Prince Giustiniani and his attendants returning from the chase.

64. RETURN OF THE ARK FROM CAPTIVITY.

Sebastien Bourdon (French: 1616-1671).

This picture was a great favourite with Sir Joshua Reynolds, to whom it once belonged. He cited it, together with a picture by Salvator Rosa, to the students of the Academy (Discourse xiv.) as an instance of the "poetical style of landscape," calling particular attention to the "visionary" character of "the whole and every part of the scene." The subject is the return of the ark by the Philistines to the valley of Bath-shemesh, as described in I Samuel vi. 10-14. The painter was one of the original twelve anciens of the old French Academy of painting, of which he died rector; he had formerly[Pg 142] been painter to Queen Christina of Sweden, to whose country he had fled as a Protestant.

65. CEPHALUS AND AURORA.

Nicolas Poussin (French: 1593-1669). See under 39.

None of the "learned" Poussin's pictures in the Gallery shows so well as this how steeped he was alike in the knowledge and in the feeling of Greek mythology. Cephalus was a Thessalian prince whose love of hunting carried him away at early dawn from the arms of his wife Procris (see under 698). Hence the allegorical fable of the loves of Cephalus and Aurora, the goddess of the dawn, and her attempt to rival Procris in his affections. Cephalus here half yields to Aurora's blandishments, but a little Cupid holds up before him the portrait of his wife and recalls her love to his mind. Behind is Aurora's car, in which she is drawn by the white-winged Pegasus across the sky. But Pegasus, with that intermingling of many ideas which is characteristic of all Greek myths, is also "the Angel of the Wild Fountains: that is to say, the fastest flying or lower rain-cloud, winged, but racing as upon the earth."[85] Hence beside him sleeps a river-god, his head resting on his urn. But the mountain top is tipped with dawn; and behind, one sees a Naiad waking. Farther still beyond, in a brightening horizon, the form of Apollo, the sun-god whose advent follows on the dawn, is just apparent, his horses and his car melting into the shapes of morning clouds.[86]

66. A LANDSCAPE: AUTUMN MORNING.

Rubens (Flemish: 1577-1640). See 38.

Rubens "perhaps furnishes us with the first instances of complete, unconventional, unaffected landscape. His treatment [Pg 143]is healthy, manly, and rational, not very affectionate, yet often condescending to minute and multitudinous detail; always, as far as it goes, pure, forcible, and refreshing, consummate in composition, and marvellous in colour" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. i. ch. vii. § 15). Notice especially the sky. "The whole field of ancient landscape art affords, as far as we remember, but one instance of any effort whatever to represent the character of the upper cloud region. That one instance is the landscape of Rubens in our own Gallery, in which the mottled or fleecy sky is given with perfect truth and exquisite beauty" (ibid., vol. i. pt. ii. sec. iii. ch. ii. § 9). Rubens's skill in landscape was partly due to fondness for the scenery he depicted. This picture was painted when he was at Genoa, but it is a purely Flemish scene—a broad stretch of his own lowlands, with the castle of Stein, it is said, which was afterwards his residence, near Mechlin, in the background, with Flemish waggon and horses fording a brook, and with a sportsman in the immediate foreground, carrying an old-fashioned firelock, intent on a covey of partridges.[87] "The Dutch painters are perfectly contented with their flat fields and pollards; Rubens, though he had seen the Alps, usually composes his landscapes of a hayfield or two, plenty of pollards and willows, a distant spire, a Dutch house with a moat about it, a windmill, and a ditch" (ibid., vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. xiii. § 20). The Dutch painters agreed, in fact, with the Lincolnshire farmer in Kingsley's Alton Locke, whom Ruskin goes on to quote: "None o' this here darned ups and downs o' hills, to shake a body's victuals out of his inwards," but "all so vlat as a barn's vloor, for vorty mile on end—there's the country to live in!"

This picture is one of four "seasons." (Spring is in the Wallace collection at Hertford House, Summer and Winter are in the Royal collection at Windsor.) It was presented to the nation by Sir George Beaumont. The painter Haydon, describing a visit to Sir George at Coleorton, writes:

[Pg 144]

"We dined with the Claude and Rembrandt before us, breakfasted with the Rubens landscape, and did nothing morning, noon, or night but think of painting, dream of painting, and wake to paint again." The picture is referred to also by Wordsworth in a very interesting passage. "I heard the other day," he writes to Sir George Beaumont, "of two artists, who thus expressed themselves upon the subject of a scene among our lakes: 'Plague upon those vile enclosures!' said one; 'they spoil everything.' 'Oh,' said the other, 'I never see them.' Glover was the name of this last. Now, for my part, I should not wish to be either of these gentlemen, but to have in my own mind the power of turning to advantage, wherever it is possible, every object of Art and Nature as they appear before me. What a noble instance, as you have pointed out to me, has Rubens given of this in that picture in your possession, where he has brought, as it were, a whole country into one landscape, and made the most formal partitions of cultivation, hedgerows of pollard willows, conduct the eye into the depths and distances of his picture: and thus, more than by any other means, has given it that appearance of immensity which is so striking" (Memorials of Coleorton, ii. 135).

67. THE HOLY FAMILY AND ST. GEORGE.

Rubens (Flemish: 1577-1640). See 38.

On the left are the usual incidents of a "Riposo," or Repose in Egypt. St. Joseph is asleep, and the mule browses on the bank of the stream, while John the Baptist and attendant angels play with the Lamb. The Holy Child is on its mother's knee, and to them St. George is presenting his proselyte, the heathen princess whom he had saved from the dragon (see under 16). The dragon, now bridled with her girdle, follows her meekly, and St. George, as he introduces her to the mysteries of Christianity, plants the banner of the Faith. With the holy mother is St. Mary Magdalen—a penitent sinner herself, like the heathen princess, whom she now ushers into the Holy Presence.

Such appears to be the subject. As for the manner in which it is treated, it is interesting to know that the figures are portraits of the painter himself and his family. Rubens "is religious, too, after his manner; hears mass every morn[Pg 145]ing, and perpetually uses the phrase 'by the grace of God,' or some other such, in writing of any business he takes in hand; but the tone of his religion may be determined by one fact. We saw how Veronese painted himself and his family as worshipping the Madonna. Rubens has also painted himself in an equally elaborate piece.[88] But they are not worshipping the Madonna. They are performing the Madonna, and her saintly entourage" (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. vi. § 9).

68. A WOODY LANDSCAPE.

Gaspard Poussin (French: 1613-1675). See 31.

The scene is the beautiful avenue of oaks, called the "Galleria di Sopra," which skirts the upper margin of the Lake of Albano. Ruskin refers to this picture in illustration of his thesis that Turner's "truth of vegetation," in his representation of the exceeding intricacy of nature, is not to be paralleled among the old painters, and least of all in Gaspard Poussin with his regular "tree-patterns." The picture before us is "a woody landscape," which in nature would be a mass of intricate foliage—

"a mere confusion of points and lines between you and the sky.... This, as it comes down into the body of the tree, gets closer, but never opaque; it is always transparent, with crumbling lights in it letting you through to the sky; then, out of this, come, heavier and heavier, the masses of illumined foliage, all dazzling and inextricable, save here and there a single leaf on the extremities: then, under these, you get deep passages of broken irregular gloom, passing into transparent, green-lighted, misty hollows ... all penetrable and transparent, and, in proportion, inextricable and incomprehensible, except where across the labyrinth and mystery of the dazzling light and dream-like shadow, falls, close to us, some solitary spray, some wreath of two or three motionless large leaves, the type and embodying of all that in the rest we feel and imagine, but can never see.

"Now, with thus much of nature in your mind, go to Gaspard Poussin's 'View near Albano.' It is the very subject to unite all these effects, a sloping bank shaded with intertwined forest. And what has Gaspard given us? A mass of smooth, opaque, varnished brown, without one interstice, one change of hue, or any vestige of leafy structure, in its interior, or in those parts of it, I should say, which are intended [Pg 146]to represent interior; but out of it, over it rather, at regular intervals, we have circular groups of greenish touches, always the same in size, shape, and distance from each other, containing so exactly the same number of touches each, that you cannot tell one from another. There are eight or nine and thirty of them, laid over each other like fish-scales; the shade being most carefully made darker and darker as it recedes from each until it comes to the edge of the next, against which it cuts in the same sharp circular line, and then begins to decline again, until the canvas is covered with about as much intelligence or feeling of art as a house-painter has in marbling a wainscot, or a weaver in repeating an ornamental pattern. What is there in this, which the most determined prejudice in favour of the old masters can for a moment suppose to resemble trees? It is exactly what the most ignorant beginner, trying to make a complete drawing, would lay down; exactly the conception of trees which we have in the works of our worst drawing-masters, where the shade is laid on with the black lead and stump, and every human power exerted to make it look like a kitchen grate well polished"[89] (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. vi. ch. i. §§ 16-19).

A further "untruth of vegetation" is the perpetration of the bough at the left-hand upper corner. This is—

"a representation of an ornamental group of elephants' tusks, with feathers tied to the end of them. Not the wildest imagination could ever conjure up in it the remotest resemblance to the bough of a tree. It might be the claws of a witch, the talons of an eagle, the horns of a fiend; but it is a full assemblage of every conceivable falsehood which can be told respecting foliage, a piece of work so barbarous in every way, that one glance at it ought to prove the complete charlatanism and trickery of the whole system of the old landscape painters" (ibid., § 7).

69. ST. JOHN PREACHING IN THE WILDERNESS.

Pietro Francesco Mola (Eclectic-Bologna: 1612-1668).

Mola, a native of Milan, and the son of an architect, studied first at Rome and Venice, but afterwards at Bologna—returning ultimately to Rome, where he held the office of President of the Academy of St. Luke. "There is," says Sir Frederic Burton, "a certain idyllic character in Mola's works which renders them extremely attractive and of more artistic value than the majority of works produced in his day."

The wild figure of the Baptist is well contrasted with the turbaned Pharisee and the rest of his audience:—

[Pg 147]

The last, and greatest, herald of Heav'n's King, Girt with rough skins, hies to the desert wild: There burst he forth—"All ye whose hopes rely On God! with me amidst these deserts mourn; Repent! repent! and from old errors turn." Who listen'd to his voice, obey'd his cry? Only the echoes, which he made relent, Rung from their flinty caves—Repent!—repent!
Drummond of Hawthornden: Flowers of Zion.

The preacher places his right hand on his heart as if to attest his own sincerity, while with his left he points to the Saviour, who is seen approaching in the distance: "This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me, for he was before me."

70. CORNELIA AND HER JEWELS.

Padovanino (Venetian: 1590-1650).

Alessandro Varotari was born at Padua, from which town he derived the name by which he is generally known. He was the son of a Veronese painter, but went early to Venice, where he became a student and imitator of the works of Titian and Paolo Veronese. His masterpiece is the "Marriage at Cana" in the Academy at Venice. He painted children well, and often introduced them into his pictures.

Cornelia, a noble Roman lady, daughter of the elder Scipio Africanus, and mother of the Gracchi, was visited by a friend, who ostentatiously exhibited her jewels. Cornelia being asked to show hers in turn, pointed to her two sons, just then returning from school, and said, "These are my jewels."

71. A PARTY OF MULETEERS.

Jan Both (Dutch: 1610-1662).

Jan Both, born at Utrecht, was one of the first "Italianisers" in landscape. He was the son of a glass painter, who gave him his first lessons in drawing; he afterwards became the pupil of Abraham Bloemaert. As soon as he was old enough to travel, he set out with his brother Andries for Italy. Unlike Rubens, who even at Genoa painted only the Netherlands, Both adopted Italian scenery as his subject. At Rome he formed his style on that of Claude. The two brothers travelled, studied, and worked in Italy together. Jan excelled in landscape; the figures and cattle in his pictures were generally sketched by Andries. After some years at Rome, the brothers worked[Pg 148] for a time at Venice; here Andries, having dined one evening not wisely but too well, fell from his gondola into the water and was drowned. This was a terrible blow to Jan, who returned to Utrecht in despair, where he survived his brother for some years, during which Poelenburgh took the place of Andries (see No. 209). In the year 1649 Jan was one of the chiefs of the Painters' Guild at Utrecht, and the inscription on an engraved portrait of him published in 1662 speaks of him as a "good and well-respected landscape painter." Both loved to paint abruptly-rising rocks, with mountain paths fringed with trees, and cascades or lakes in the foreground. His best works are distinguished by the soft golden tones of the declining day. Several good examples of this master are to be seen at the Dulwich Gallery.

A reminiscence, doubtless, of one of Both's journeys in the Italian lake district. One may recall the reminiscence of Italy by another northern traveller—

Know'st thou the mountain bridge that hangs on cloud? The mules in mist grope o'er the torrent loud, In caves lie coil'd the dragon's ancient brood, The crag leaps down and over it the flood: Know'st thou it, then? 'Tis there! 'tis there Our way runs; O my father, wilt thou go?
Mignon's song in Wilhelm Meister: Carlyle's translation.

72. LANDSCAPE WITH TOBIAS AND THE ANGEL.

Rembrandt (Dutch: 1606-1669). See 45.

73. THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL.

Ascribed to Ercole di Giulio Grandi (Ferrarese: died 1531).

The confused character of this picture is sufficiently shown by the fact that whilst the official designation is as above, other critics have called it the "Destruction of Sennacherib." For a masterpiece by Ercole, see 1119. The ascription to him of this inferior work is decidedly doubtful.

74. A SPANISH PEASANT BOY.

Murillo (Spanish: 1618-1682). See 13.

Look at this and the other little boy near it (176), and you will see at once the secret of Murillo's popularity. "In a[Pg 149] country like Spain he became easily the favourite of the crowd. He was one of themselves, and had all the gifts they valued. Not like Velazquez, reproducing by choice only the noble and dignified side of the national character, Murillo could paint to perfection either the precocious sentiment of the Good Shepherd with the lamb by his side, or the rags and happiness of the gipsy beggar boy" (W. B. Scott's Murillo, p. 76)—

Poor and content is rich and rich enough.

75. ST. GEORGE AND THE DRAGON.

Domenichino (Eclectic-Bologna: 1581-1641). See 48.

Compare this conventional representation of the subject with the imaginative one by Tintoretto (16). Amongst points of comparison notice the absence of anything terrible in the dragon, the crowd of spectators (on the walls in the distance), St. George's helmet; and where is his spear?

76. CHRIST'S AGONY IN THE GARDEN.

After Correggio. See under 10.

This is an old copy, or perhaps a replica, of the original picture in the possession of the Duke of Wellington at Apsley House. The treatment of the subject is remarkable, and characteristic of Correggio. "The angel hovers in mid-air with marvellous ease and lightness, and though he bears the healing message of approaching bliss, he cannot restrain his sense of pity. His face is at once radiant and sorrowful, expressing the mingled feelings with which he points on the one hand to heaven, on the other to the cross and crown of thorns. Christ, effulgent in his long straight robe and shining aureole, gazes upward with mournful resignation, the spasm of agony dying out of his face. The twilight landscape is calm and melancholy. The supernatural radiance sheds but a faint light on the grass and bushes, scarcely touching the figures of the sleeping disciples, and dying out completely in the dense foliage beyond. But in the distance a band of soldiers, scarcely visible by the faint glimmer of their torches, draws near, led by Judas, and over the mountains the sky whitens with the first pale streak of dawn" (Ricci: Correggio: his Life, his Friends, and his Time, p. 231). The effect of light,[Pg 150] Mengs points out, is peculiar: "the radiance of the Saviour's face lights up the picture. But this radiance comes from above, as if from Heaven, while the angel is illuminated by the light reflected from the Saviour." It is interesting to compare Correggio's version of the agony with the earlier one by Bellini (726) and Mantegna (1417). The earlier pictures impress us, but the manner of impression is quite different. There is no attempt either in the Bellini or in the Mantegna to win our sympathy by the beauty of the human type. This, on the other hand, is of the essence of Correggio's art. "The figure of Christ and the Angel represent the dignity of perfect humanity; and Correggio makes the pathos of the expiatory sacrifice of Calvary turn upon this consideration. This is the strictly Renaissance point of view" (J. E. Hodgson, R.A., in Magazine of Art, 1886, p. 215).

The original picture has a legend attached to it. "Correggio," says Lomazzo, "was accustomed always to value his works at a very low price, and having on one occasion to pay a bill of four or five scudi to an apothecary in his native city, he painted him 'Christ Praying in the Garden,' which he executed with all possible care." The picture was sold shortly afterwards for 500 scudi. It was subsequently in the royal collection at Madrid, and after the battle of Vittoria it was found in Joseph Bonaparte's carriage by one of Wellington's colonels. Wellington hastened to restore it to Ferdinand VII., who, not to be outdone in courtesy, presented it to the duke. The picture in our Gallery was part of the Angerstein collection.

77. THE STONING OF ST. STEPHEN.

Domenichino (Eclectic-Bologna: 1581-1641). See 48.

78.[90] LANDSCAPE WITH RUINS.

Nicolas Berchem (Dutch: 1620-1683).

Nicolas Pietersz, son of Pieter Claesz, a painter, called himself Berchem, by which name he is entered in the town records of [Pg 151]Haarlem, and by which he signed his pictures. He married the daughter of his master, Jan Wils (No. 1007). In 1642 he became a member of the Guild of St. Luke at Haarlem. No authentic information exists about his visiting Italy, but that he had travelled in that country is clear from the views represented in his pictures, and from the character of his landscapes generally. His style resembles that of another Dutch "Italianiser," Jan Both (No. 71), and there seems to have been some rivalry between the two men. It is related that a burgomaster of Dordrecht, Van der Hulk by name, commissioned a picture from each painter, promising an additional premium to the one whose work should be thought the better. On the completion Of the pictures, the patron declared that the admirable works had deprived him of the capability of preference, and that both were entitled to the premium. The picture painted on this occasion by Berchem is the "Halt of Huntsmen," now in the Hermitage at St. Petersburg. Berchem's landscapes are taken, says Dr. Richter, "from the mountainous countries of Italy, and the types and costumes of the figures therein represented are also entirely Italian, though not copied direct from nature. He probably painted most of his Italian landscapes in Holland. What characterises him principally is a brilliant and easy touch, with which he renders nature with more art than exactitude. He is more ingenious in his conceptions than profound or true." The mannerism and monotony of his works accord with what is told of his life. In 1665, when at the height of his reputation, he sold his labour to a dealer, from early in the morning to four in the afternoon, for ten florins a day. His wife, it appears, kept the purse, and is said to have doled out very scanty supplies—a precaution which was perhaps necessary, as Berchem had a weakness for Italian drawings, his collection of which sold at his death for 12,800 florins.

81. THE VISION OF ST. AUGUSTINE.

Garofalo (Ferrarese: 1481-1559).

Benvenuto Tisio, called Garofalo[91] from the village of that name on the Po to which his family belonged, was (like Sodoma) the son of a shoemaker, and having shown a strong taste for art, was apprenticed as a lad to the Ferrarese painter, Domenico Panetti. Seven years later he went to Cremona and attached himself to Boccaccino (806). He left Cremona suddenly, as described in a letter, still extant, from Boccaccino to Garofalo's father: "Had your son," he writes, "learnt good manners as thoroughly as he has learnt painting, he would scarcely have played me such a shabby trick. He [Pg 152]has taken himself off, I know not whither, and without a word. But this may be a clue to his whereabouts, that he said, if he is to be believed, that he would see Rome." From Rome he returned to Ferrara, where he formed a warm friendship with the brothers Dossi. In 1509 he was again in Rome, where he saw and admired Michael Angelo's frescoes in the Sixtine Chapel in all the splendour of their freshness. He also greatly admired the work of Raphael; "and displayed," says Vasari, "so much diffidence as well as courtesy that he became the friend of Raphael, who, kind and obliging as he was, assisted and favoured Benvenuto much, teaching him many things." In 1511 Benvenuto was at Mantua, but in the following year he returned to Ferrara, which remained his home for the rest of his life. There, says Vasari, who was entertained by him, he lived a particularly happy and busy life, being "cheerful of disposition, mild in his converse, warmly attached to his friends, beyond measure affectionate and devoted, and always supporting the trials of his life with patient resignation." These trials were very heavy, for soon after he was forty he lost the sight of one eye; "nor was he without fear and much danger of losing the other. He then recommended himself to God, and made a vow to wear grey clothing ever after, as, in fact, he did, when by the grace of God the sight of the left eye was preserved to him so perfectly that the works executed by Garofalo in his sixty-fifth year are so well done, so delicately finished, and evince so much care, that they are truly wonderful." For the last nine years of his life he was totally blind, in which affliction he solaced himself by cultivating music. Garofalo's works are very numerous; many of them are in France and in Rome, and in our own Gallery he is well represented. "He was conscientious and truthful within his scope, and the ease and delicacy with which he carried out his smaller works could hardly be exceeded." He was an eclectic rather than an original painter, though he remained Ferrarese throughout in his system of colouring. "His fellow-countrymen have called him the 'Ferrarese Raphael,' in the same way that the Milanese have called Luini the 'Lombard Raphael,' and, if properly understood, both appellations have their meaning; for these painters occupy much the same position in their respective schools as did Raphael in the Umbrian, Andrea del Sarto in the Florentine, etc., though the individual gifts of each were of course very different." (Morelli's Borghese and Doria-Pamfili Galleries, pp. 200-214, contains a detailed account of Garofalo. His theory that the works attributed to Ortolano are in reality early works of Garofalo is very doubtful. See on this point under 699, and cf. Venturi's criticism in the Catalogue of the Ferrarese Exhibition at the Burlington Fine Arts Club).

A well-known incident in the life of St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo in Africa (A.D. 354-430), one of the "doctors" of the Christian Church whose writings have had a greater[Pg 153] effect than those probably of any one man on the beliefs and lives of succeeding Christian ages. Whilst busied, he tells us, in writing his discourse on the Trinity, he one day beheld a child, who, having dug a hole in the sand, was bringing water, as children at the seaside do, to empty the sea into his hole. Augustine told him it was impossible. "Not more impossible," replied the child, "than for thee, O Augustine! to explain the mystery on which thou art now meditating" ("Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea," Job xi. 7-9). The painter shows the visionary nature of the scene by placing beside St Augustine the figure of St. Catherine, the patron saint of theologians and scholars, and in the background, on a little jutting cape, St. Stephen, whose life and actions are set forth in St. Augustine's writings. The saint himself receives the child's lesson with the contemptuous impatience of a scholar's ambition; but all the time the heavens whose mysteries he would fain explore are open behind him, and the angel choirs are singing that he who would enter in must first become as a little child, "for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."

82. THE HOLY FAMILY.

Mazzolino (Ferrarese: 1480-1528). See 169.

For better examples of this painter, see Nos. 169 and 641.

84. MERCURY AND THE WOODMAN.

Salvator Rosa (Neapolitan: 1615-1673).

"What is most to be admired in the works of Salvator Rosa," says Sir Joshua Reynolds, "is the perfect correspondence which he observed between the subjects which he chose and his manner of treating them. Everything is of a piece: his rocks, trees, sky, even to his handling, have the same wild and rude character which animates his figures." There is perhaps no painter whose life is more accurately reflected in his work than Salvator. Conspicuous in this picture are a withered tree on the right and a withered tree on the left: they are typical of the painter's blasted life, and "indignant, desolate, and degraded art." He was born near Naples, the son of an architect and land-surveyor. In early youth he forsook his father's business and began[Pg 154] secretly to learn painting. At seventeen his father died, and Salvator, being one of a large and poor family, was thrown on his own resources. He "cast himself carelessly on the current of life. No rectitude of ledger-lines stood in his way; no tender precision of household customs; no calm successions of rural labour. But past his half-starved lips rolled profusion of pitiless wealth; before him glared and swept the troops of shameless pleasure. Above him muttered Vesuvius; beneath his feet shook the Solfatara. In heart disdainful, in temper adventurous; conscious of power, impatient of labour, and yet more of the pride of the patrons of his youth, he fled to the Calabrian hills, seeking, not knowledge, but freedom. If he was to be surrounded by cruelty and deceit, let them at least be those of brave men or savage beasts, not of the timorous and the contemptible. Better the wrath of the robber than enmity of the priest; and the cunning of the wolf than of the hypocrite." It was in this frame of mind that he sought the solitudes of the hills: "How I hate the sight of every spot that is inhabited," he says in one of his letters. It was thus that he formed the taste for the wild nature which distinguishes his landscapes. It is said indeed that he once herded for a time with a band of brigands in the Abruzzi. "Yet even among such scenes as these Salvator might have been calmed and exalted had he been, indeed, capable of exaltation. But he was not of high temper enough to perceive beauty. He had not the sacred sense—the sense of colour; all the loveliest hues of the Calabrian air were invisible to him; the sorrowful desolation of the Calabrian villages unfelt. He saw only what was gross and terrible,—the jagged peak, the splintered tree, the flowerless bank of grass, and wandering weed, prickly and pale. His temper confirmed itself in evil, and became more and more fierce and morose; though not, I believe, cruel, ungenerous, or lascivious. I should not suspect Salvator of wantonly inflicting pain. His constantly painting it does not prove he delighted in it; he felt the horror of it, and in that horror, fascination. Also, he desired fame, and saw that here was an untried field rich enough in morbid excitement to catch the humour of his indolent patrons. But the gloom gained upon him, and grasped him. He could jest, indeed, as men jest in prison-yards (he became afterwards a renowned mimic in Florence); his satires are full of good mocking, but his own doom to sadness is never repealed." It is characteristic of the man that the picture on the reputation of which he went up from Naples to Rome was "Tityus torn by the Vulture." At Rome, besides his fame as a painter, he made his mark as a musician, poet, and improvisatore. He cut a brave figure in the Carnival, and his satires were bold and biting. Partly on this account he afterwards found it well to leave Rome for Florence, where he formed one of the company of "I Percossi" (the stricken)—of jovial wits and artists—who enjoyed the hospitalities of Cardinal Carlo Giovanni de' Medici. But in spite of his merry-making he knew (as he says in a cantata) "no truce from care, no pause from woe." He ultimately died of the dropsy, having shortly[Pg 155] before his death married the Florentine Lucrezia, who had borne him two sons. "Of all men whose work I have ever studied," says Mr. Ruskin, in summing up his career as typical of the lives which cannot conquer evil but remain at war with, or in captivity to it, "he gives me most distinctly the idea of a lost spirit. Michelet calls him, 'Ce damné Salvator,' perhaps in a sense merely harsh and violent; the epithet to me seems true in a more literal, more merciful sense,—'That condemned Salvator.' I see in him, notwithstanding all his baseness, the last traces of spiritual life in the art of Europe.... All succeeding men ... were men of the world; they are never in earnest and they are never appalled. But Salvator was capable of pensiveness, of faith, and of fear. The misery of the earth is a marvel to him; he cannot leave off gazing at it. The religion of the earth is a horror to him. He gnashes his teeth at it, rages at it, mocks and gibes at it. He would have acknowledged religion had he seen any that was true.... Helpless Salvator! A little early sympathy, a word of true guidance, perhaps, had saved him. What says he of himself? 'Despiser of wealth and of death.' Two grand scorns: but, oh, condemned Salvator! the question is not for man what he can scorn, but what he can love." At the "opposite poles of art are Fra Angelico and Salvator Rosa; of whom the one was a man who smiled seldom, wept often, prayed constantly, and never harboured an impure thought. His pictures are simply so many pieces of jewellery, the colour of the draperies being perfectly pure, as various as those of a painted window, chastened only by paleness, and relieved upon a gold ground. Salvator was a dissipated jester and satirist, a man who spent his life in masquing and revelry. But his pictures are full of horror, and their colour is for the most part gloomy grey. Truly it would seem as if art had so much eternity in it that it must take its dye from the close rather than the course of life; 'in such laughter the heart of man is sorrowful, and the end of that mirth is heaviness'" (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. iv. See also vol. i. pt. i. sec. ii. ch. ii. § 9; vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. xviii. § 21; vol. v. pt. ix. ch. viii. § 14. Stones of Venice, vol. ii. ch. v. § 31. For a full record of fact and romance about this painter, see Lady Morgan's interesting Life and Times of Salvator Rosa; London, 1855).

An illustration of Æsop's fable of the dishonest woodman who, hearing of the reward which an honest fellow-labourer had obtained from Mercury for not claiming either the gold or silver axe which the god first offered, threw his axe also into the water, hoping for like good fortune. Mercury—here seen standing in the stream—showed him a golden axe. He claimed it, and the god having rebuked him for his impudence, left him to lose his axe and repent of his folly. The painting of the picture is conspicuous for that want of sense for colour, noted above as fatally characteristic of Salvator:—

[Pg 156]

There is on the left-hand side something without doubt intended for a rocky mountain, in the middle distance, near enough for all its fissures and crags to be distinctly visible, or, rather, for a great many awkward scratches of the brush over it to be visible, which, though not particularly representative either of one thing or another, are without doubt intended to be symbolical of rocks. Now no mountain in full light, and near enough for its details of crags to be seen, is without great variety of delicate colour. Salvator has painted it throughout without one instant of variation; but this, I suppose, is simplicity and generalisation;—let it pass: but what is the colour? Pure sky blue, without one grain of grey, or any modifying hue whatsoever; the same brush which had just given the bluest parts of the sky has been more loaded at the same part of the pallet, and the whole mountain thrown in with unmitigated ultramarine. Now, mountains can only become pure blue when there is so much air between them that they become mere flat dark shades, every detail being totally lost: they become blue when they become air, and not till then. Consequently this part of Salvator's painting, being of hills perfectly clear and near, with all their details visible, is, as far as colour is concerned, broad, bold falsehood, the direct assertion of direct impossibility.

In connection with Salvator's want of sense for colour one should take his insensitiveness to other beauty. For instance, his choice of withered trees, which are here on both sides of us, "is precisely the sign of his preferring ugliness to beauty, decrepitude and disorganisation to life and youth" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. ii. ch. ii. § 4; vol. v. pt. vi. ch. viii. § 7).

85. ST. JEROME AND THE ANGEL.

Domenichino (Eclectic-Bologna: 1581-1641). See 48.

For St. Jerome, see under 227. The apparition of the angel implies the special call of St. Jerome to the work of translating the Scriptures.

88. ERMINIA AND THE SHEPHERDS.

Annibale Carracci (Eclectic-Bologna: 1560-1609). See 9.

A scene from the "Jerusalem Delivered" by Carracci's contemporary, Tasso. Erminia from the beleaguered city of Jerusalem had beheld the Christian knight, Tancred, whom she loved, wounded in conflict. Disguised in the armour of[Pg 157] her friend Clorinda, wearing a dark blue cuirass with a white mantle over it, she stole forth at night to tend him. The sentinels espy her and give her chase. But she outstrips them all, and after a three days' flight finds herself amongst a shepherd family, who entertain her kindly. The old shepherd is busily making card-baskets, and listening to the music of his children. Their fear gives place to delight as the strange warrior, having dismounted from her horse and thrown off her helmet and shield, unbinds her tresses and discloses herself a woman—

An old man, on a rising ground, In the fresh shade, his white flocks feeding near, Twig baskets wove; and listen'd to the sound Trill'd by three blooming boys, who sat disporting round. These, at the shining of her silver arms, Were seized at once with wonder and despair; But sweet Erminia sooth'd their vain alarms, Discovering her dove's eyes and golden hair. "Follow," she said, "dear innocents, the care Of heaven, your fanciful employ; For the so formidable arms I bear, No cruel warfare bring, nor harsh annoy To your engaging tasks, to your sweet songs of joy."
From Landseer's Catalogue, p. 214.

This picture has sometimes been ascribed to Domenichino; as the latter was occasionally employed by Annibale to execute his designs, both masters may have had a share in the work.

91. VENUS SLEEPING.

Nicolas Poussin (French: 1593-1665). See 39.

93. SILENUS GATHERING GRAPES.

Annibale Carracci (Eclectic-Bologna: 1560-1609). See 9.

Silenus in a leopard skin, the nurse and preceptor of Bacchus, the wine-god, is being hoisted by two attendant fauns, so that with his own hands he may pick the grapes. This and the companion picture, 94, originally decorated a harpsichord.

[Pg 158]

94. BACCHUS PLAYING TO SILENUS.[92]

Annibale Carracci (Eclectic-Bologna: 1560-1609). See 9.

A clever picture of contrasts. The old preceptor is leering and pampered, yet with something of a schoolmaster's gravity, "half inclining to the brute, half conscious of the god." The young pupil—like the shepherd boy in Sidney's Arcadia, "piping as though he should never be old"—is "full of simple careless grace, laughing in youth and beauty; he holds the Pan's pipe in both hands, and looks up with timid wonder, with an expression of mingled delight and surprise at the sounds he produces" (Hazlitt: Criticisms upon Art, p. 6).

These two pictures—together with the "Lot" and "Susannah" of Guido (193 and 196)—used to hang in the Lancellotti Palace in Rome. Lanzi describes our picture, No. 94, as one of the principal treasures of that collection. It is exquisitely finished, he says; the figures are "at once designed, coloured, and disposed with the hand of a great master" (Bohn's translation, iii. 79).

95. DIDO AND ÆNEAS.

Gaspard Poussin (French: 1613-1675). See 31.

Dido, Queen of Carthage, enamoured of the Trojan Æneas, the destined founder of Rome, sought to detain him by strategy within her dominions. The goddess Juno, who had espoused Dido's cause, contrived that a storm should befall when the Queen and her guests were on a hunting party (Æneid, iv. 119). In front of the cave a Cupid holds the horse of Æneas, and two others are fluttering above. High in the clouds is Juno, accompanied by Venus, who had contrived all this for Dido's undoing.

As for the execution of the picture, "the stormy wind blows loudly through its leaves, but the total want of invention in the cloud-forms bears it down beyond redemption. Look [Pg 159]at the wreaths of cloud (?), with their unpleasant edges cut as hard and solid and opaque and smooth as thick black paint can make them, rolled up over one another like a dirty sail badly reefed"[93] (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. iii. ch. iv. § 23; vol. ii. pt. iii. sec. ii. ch. ii. § 18).

97. THE RAPE OF EUROPA.

Paolo Veronese (Veronese: 1528-1588). See 26 & p. xix.

(A study for a larger picture now at Vienna.) Jupiter, enamoured of Europa, a Phoenician princess, transformed himself into a white bull, and mingled with her father's herds whilst she was gathering flowers with her attendants. Europa, struck by the beauty and gentle nature of the beast, caressed him, and even mounted on his back. Two of her attendants are here assisting her, while a third remonstrates with her on her foolhardiness. Europa is replying that she has no fears. The amorous bull meanwhile is licking her foot. He is garlanded with a wreath of flowers, which is held by his master Cupid, forming thus the leading-string of Love. With the other hand Cupid has "taken the bull by the horn"; whilst above, two little winged loves are gathering fruit and scattering roses. In the middle distance Europa and the bull appear again, about to enter the sea; whilst farther on, the bull is swimming with her toward the land. For the story goes that as soon as Europa had seated herself on his back Jupiter crossed the sea and carried her safely to the island of Crete, and from this rape of Europa comes the name of the continent to which she was carried.

98. VIEW OF LA RICCIA.

Gaspard Poussin (French: 1613-1675). See 31.

This picture and the scene of it—the ancient town of Aricia, about fifteen miles from Rome, famous in Roman legend, and Horace's first stopping-place on his journey to Brindisi—are described by Ruskin in a celebrated passage of Modern Painters:—

"Whether it can be supposed to resemble the ancient Aricia, now La Riccia, close to Albano, I will not take upon me to determine, [Pg 160]seeing that most of the towns of those old masters are quite as much like one place as another; but, at any rate, it is a town on a hill, wooded with two-and-thirty bushes, of very uniform size, and possessing about the same number of leaves each. These bushes are all painted in with one dull opaque brown, becoming very slightly greenish towards the lights, and discover in one place a bit of rock, which of course would in nature have been cool and grey beside the lustrous hues of foliage, and which, therefore, being moreover completely in shade, is consistently and scientifically painted of a very clear, pretty, and positive brick red, the only thing like colour in the picture. The foreground is a piece of road which, in order to make allowance for its greater nearness, for its being completely in light, and, it may be presumed, for the quantity of vegetation usually present on carriage-roads, is given in a very cool green grey; and the truth of the picture is completed by a number of dots in the sky on the right, with a stalk to them, of a sober and similar brown.[94]

"Not long ago, I was slowly descending this very bit of carriage road.... The noonday sun came slanting down the rocky slopes of La Riccia, and their masses of entangled and tall foliage, whose autumnal tints were mixed with the wet verdure of a thousand evergreens, were penetrated with it as with rain. I cannot call it colour: it was conflagration. Purple and crimson and scarlet, like the curtains of God's tabernacle, the rejoicing trees sank into the valley in showers of light, every separate leaf quivering with buoyant and burning life; each, as it turned to reflect or to transmit the sunbeam, first a torch and then an emerald. Far up into the recesses of the valley, the green vistas arched like the hollows of mighty waves of some crystalline sea, with the arbutus flowers dashed along their flanks for foam, and silver flakes of orange spray tossed into the air around them, breaking over the grey walls of rock into a thousand separate stars, fading and kindling alternately as the weak wind lifted and let them fall. Every glade of grass burned like the golden floor of heaven, opening in sudden gleams as the foliage broke and closed above it, as sheet-lightning opens in a cloud at sunset; the motionless masses of dark rock—dark though flushed with scarlet lichen, casting their quiet shadows across its restless radiance, the fountain underneath them filling its marble hollow with blue mist and fitful sound; and over all, the multitudinous bars of amber and rose, the sacred clouds that have no darkness, and only exist to illumine, were seen in fathomless intervals between the solemn and orbed repose of the stone pines, passing to lose themselves in the last, white, blinding lustre of the measureless line where the Campagna melted into the sea. Tell me [Pg 161]who is likest this, Poussin or Turner?" (vol. i. pt. ii. sec. ii. ch. ii. §§ 1-3).

Ruskin further instances the picture as an example of "untruth of trees." It is an elementary law of tree structure that stems only taper when sending off foliage and sprays:—

"Therefore we see at once that the stem of Gaspard Poussin's tall tree, on the right of the 'La Riccia,' is the painting of a carrot or a parsnip, not of the trunk of a tree" (see further, ibid., vol. i. pt. ii. sec. vi. ch. i. § 6; and cf. vol. ii. pt. iii. sec. ii. ch. ii. § 18).

101, 102, 103, 104. THE FOUR AGES OF MAN.

Nicolas Lancret (French: 1690-1743).

Lancret, a painter of the "fêtes galantes" school, was an imitator of Watteau, but his productions lack the airy grace and touch of poetry which elevate even the most frivolous pictures of that "prince of court painters" into works of fine art. Examples of Watteau are now included among the National treasures in the Wallace collection at Hertford House. Lancret was the son of humble parents, and received his early training as an engraver. Entering subsequently the studio of Claude Gillot he came under the influence of Watteau, but his friendship with that painter was short-lived. A rivalry appears to have sprung up between them, and they remained estranged until the closing year of Watteau's life. "Lancret was a thorough bourgeois, and passed his time chiefly in Paris. He was a regular frequenter of the opera and the 'Comique,' and was a friend of the dancers La Camargo and La Sallé, whom he frequently represented in his works" (Bryan's Dictionary of Painters). In 1719 he was admitted into the Academy, and in 1735 was elected Councillor. In 1840 he married a grand-daughter of the comic poet Boursault.

These pictures, which are among the principal works of Lancret, are interesting historical records as showing the ideal of life at the French Court in the time of the regent Orleans and Louis XV. In "Infancy" (101) children, in the gayest clothes and garlanded with flowers, are at play under a stately portico—life being not so much a stage as a game, and all the men and women (in that sense) "merely players." To what should children, thus educated, grow up but to the pomps and vanity of life, as shown in "Youth" (102)? The adornment of the person is the chief occupation, it would seem, of the dwellers in "the Armida Palace, where the inmates live enchanted lives, lapped in soft music of adulation, waited on by the splendours of the[Pg 162] world." And "Manhood" (103) is like unto youth. The business of life is pleasure on the greensward, with shooting at the popinjay! "Old Age" (104) has no place in such a philosophy of life. One old man is indeed attempting a last amour. The other caresses a dog, while the old women sleep or spin. But in "Old Age" the painter changes his scene from the court to common life; the thought of old age is banished, it seems, from the high life of princes. "In short," wrote an English observer at the time when this picture was painted, "all the symptoms which I have ever met with in History, previous to all Changes and Revolutions in government, now exist and daily increase in France" (Lord Chesterfield: see Carlyle's French Revolution, bk. i. ch. ii.).

125. IZAAK WALTON (1593-1683).

Jacob Huysman (Dutch: 1656-1696).

Huysman was one of the many foreign artists who settled in England under the Stuarts. He obtained considerable employment as a portrait painter, in spite of Sir Peter Lely's rivalry; one of the portraits among the "Windsor Beauties," now at Hampton Court, was painted by him.

A portrait of the retired city hosier who became famous as the author of the Complete Angler. It was painted for his family (with whom it remained till it was presented to the National Gallery in 1838), and was engraved in one of the later editions of the book (1836). Izaak Walton—"that quaint, old, cruel coxcomb" (as Byron, who was no fisherman, called him)—lived to be ninety: his fishing did something, one may expect, to keep him in the vigorous health which is here stamped on his face. "The features of the countenance often enable us," says Zouch in the Memoirs of Izaak Walton (cited in M. E. Wotton's Word Portraits of Famous Writers, p. 323), "to form a judgment, not very fallible, of the disposition of the mind. In few portraits can this discovery be more successfully pursued than in that of Izaak Walton. Lavater, the acute master of physiognomy, would, I think, instantly acknowledge in it the decisive traits of the original,—mild complacency, forbearance, mature consideration, calm activity, peace, sound understanding, power of thought, discerning attention, and secretly active friendship. Happy in[Pg 163] his unblemished integrity, happy in the approbation and esteem of others, he enwraps himself in his own virtue. The exaltation of a good conscience eminently shines forth in this venerable person."

127. VENICE: THE SCUOLA DELLA CARITÀ.

Canaletto (Venetian: 1697-1768).

Antonio Canale, commonly called Canaletto,[95] was born in Venice, lived in Venice, and painted Venice. His pictures (of which the one before us is among the best) are in some respects very like the place, but most of those who love it best soon find much that is wanting in Canaletto's representations. "The effect of a fine Canaletto," says Ruskin, "is, in its first impression, dioramic. We fancy we are in our beloved Venice again, with one foot, by mistake, in the clear, invisible film of water lapping over the marble steps of the foreground. Every house has its proper relief against the sky; every brick and stone its proper hue of sunlight and shade; and every degree of distance its proper tone of relieving air. Presently, however, we begin to feel that it is hard and gloomy, and that the painter, compelled by the lowness of the utmost light at his disposal to deepen the shadows, in order to get the right relation, has lost the flashing, dazzling, exulting light which was one of our chief sources of Venetian happiness. But we pardon this, knowing it to be unavoidable, and begin to look for something of that in which Venice differs from Rotterdam, or any other city built beside canals. We know that house, certainly; we never passed it without stopping our gondola, for its arabesques were as rich as a bank of flowers in spring, and as beautiful as a dream. What has Canaletto given us for them? Four black dots. Well; take the next house. We remember that too; it was mouldering inch by inch into the canal, and the bricks had fallen away from its shattered marble shafts, and left them white, skeleton-like; yet, with their fretwork of cold flowers wreathed about them still, untouched by time, and through the rents of the wall behind them there used to come long sunbeams, greened by the weeds through which they pierced, which flitted and fell, one by one, round those grey and quiet shafts, catching here a leaf and there a leaf, and gliding over the illumined edges and delicate fissures, until they sank into the deep dark hollow between the marble blocks of the sunk foundation, lighting every other moment one isolated emerald lamp on the crest of the intermittent waves, when the wild sea-weeds and crimson lichens [Pg 164]drifted and crawled with their thousand colours and free branches over its decay, and the black, clogging, accumulated limpets hung in ropy clusters from the dripping and tinkling stone. What has Canaletto given us for this? One square red mass, composed of—let me count—five-and-fifty, no; six-and-fifty, no; I was right at first, five-and-fifty bricks, of precisely the same size, shape, and colour, one great black line for the shadow of the roof at the top, and six similar ripples in a row at the bottom! And this is what people call 'painting nature'! It is, indeed, painting nature, as she appears to the most unfeeling and untaught of mankind. The bargeman and the bricklayer probably see no more in Venice than Canaletto gives—heaps of earth and mortar, with water between—and are just as capable of appreciating the facts of sunlight and shadow, by which he deceives us, as the most educated of us all. But what more there is in Venice than brick and stone—what there is of mystery and death, and memory and beauty—what there is to be learned or lamented, to be loved or wept—we look for to Canaletto in vain" (Modern Painters, vol. i. sec. ii. pt. i. ch. vii. § 7, first edition). Canaletto's pictures of Venice in this room should be compared with Turner's. It is impossible to get a more instructive instance of the different impression made on different minds by the same scenes. Canaletto drew, says one of his admirers (Lanzi, ii. 317), exactly as he saw. Well, what he did see we have shown us here. What others have seen, those who have not been to Venice can discover from Turner's pictures, from Shelley's and Byron's verse, or Ruskin's prose. "Let the reader restore Venice in his imagination to some resemblance of what she must have been before her fall. Let him, looking from Lido or Fusina, replace, in the forest of towers, those of the hundred and sixty-six churches which the French threw down; let him sheet her walls with purple and scarlet, overlay her minarets with gold, ... and fill her canals with gilded barges and bannered ships; finally, let him withdraw from this scene, already so brilliant, such sadness and stain as had been set upon it by the declining energies of more than half a century, and he will see Venice as it was seen by Canaletto (as it might have been seen by him, Ruskin means); whose miserable, virtueless, heartless mechanism, accepted as the representation of such various glory, is, both in its existence and acceptance, among the most striking signs of the lost sensation and deadened intellect of the nation at that time.... The mannerism of Canaletto is the most degraded that I know in the whole range of art. Professing the most servile and mindless imitation, it imitates nothing but the blackness of the shadows; it gives no single architectural ornament, however near, so much form, as might enable us even to guess at its actual one; ... it gives the buildings neither their architectural beauty nor their ancestral dignity, for there is no texture of stone nor character of age in Canaletto's touch; which is invariably a violent, black, sharp, ruled penmanlike line, as far removed from the grace of nature as from her faintness and transparency: and for his truth of colour let the[Pg 165] single fact of his having omitted all record whatsoever of the frescoes, whose wrecks are still to be found at least on one half of the unrestored palaces, and, with still less excusableness, all record of the magnificent coloured marbles" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt ii. sec. i. ch. vii. § 30). Stated in the fewest words, the difference between Canaletto and the others is this: To Canaletto Venice was a city of murky shadows, to them it is a city of enchanted colour. But his pictures satisfied the taste of his time, as the great number of them still extant testifies. Moreover his fame extended beyond his own country. There was an English resident at Venice who engaged Canaletto (who started in life at his father's profession, that of scene painter) to work for him at low prices, and then used to retail the pictures at an enormous profit to English travellers. At last Canaletto came to England himself, and was given many commissions; but after two years he returned to Venice, as it was still Venetian pictures that his patrons wanted. How completely the public taste has now changed is shown by the fact that the Venice of all the most popular painters to-day, of whatever nation, is the Venice of Ruskin and Turner. Canaletto's pictures, however, will always possess one element of interest, apart from any fluctuations in taste. Within his limits they are historical records of the appearance of Venice in his time; and as more and more of the old Venice is destroyed, Canaletto's pictures will increase in interest. For though he is mechanical, yet his mechanism is very good. He was, by the way, the first to apply the camera obscura to linear perspective, and he painted in a workmanlike manner, so that his pictures endure.[96]

An interesting piece of "old Venice." Beyond the canal is what is now the National Gallery of Venice—the Academy of Arts—but was in Canaletto's time still the Scuola della Carità, the conventual buildings of the Brotherhood of our Lady of Charity. Notice the green grass in the little square: the Campo, as it is called (the field), is now covered with flagstones (there is a sketch of this spot among the Turner drawings given by Ruskin to the University Galleries at Oxford: see Guide to the Venetian Academy, p. 34).

[Pg 166]

134. A LANDSCAPE.

Cornelius Gerritz Decker (Dutch: died 1678).

"Amongst the artists who followed the footsteps of Ruysdael and Hobbema, the one who most nearly resembled these masters was Cornelius Decker, whose works may be classed among the best Dutch landscapes" (Havard's Dutch School, p. 209). He painted at Haarlem, and studied under Salomon Ruysdael (see 1344).

135. LANDSCAPE WITH RUINS.

Canaletto (Venetian: 1697-1768). See 127.

The artist, "disgusted with his first profession (of scene painter), removed," we are told, "while still young to Rome, where he wholly devoted himself to drawing views from nature, and in particular from ancient ruins" (Lanzi, ii. 317).

137. LANDSCAPE.

Jan van Goyen (Dutch: 1596-1656).

Jan van Goyen, one of the first masters in the native Dutch art of landscape as opposed to the exotic work of the Italianisers, was born at Leyden in 1596. He studied with the elder Swanenburch, the father of Rembrandt's first master, and subsequently went to Haarlem to work under Esaias van de Velde. His position in the world of art was considerable. In 1640 he was President of the Guild of St. Luke at the Hague; his portrait was painted by Vandyck and Frans Hals; and Jan Steen was his son-in-law. His earlier extant pictures date from 1621, his latest go down to the year of his death. His production during this period of thirty-five years was immense; "a single London expert claims to have had at least three or four hundred genuine pictures by the master passing through his hands during the last thirty years." Like so many of the Dutch masters whose works are now prized, he received in his lifetime very small sums for his pictures—often not more than fifteen or twenty florins apiece. He tried to help his income by speculating in houses, and even, after the fashion of the time, in tulips. But he died insolvent. His work, however, and influence remained. His extant pictures are very numerous; and among the successors whose skill was largely formed by him are Cuyp, Jan van de Cappelle, and Salomon Ruysdael. "The subjects which he preferred were of two kinds: flat landscapes with a little broken ground in the front, a cottage, the figures of a few peasants, and a clump of trees; or, on the other hand,—and these are his best and most[Pg 167] characteristic productions—broad views of the river scenery of Holland, a wide expanse of water under a wide sky." He was one of the first to discover a poetry in the unbroken horizons of his native land. "Where he is at his best is in the painting of the infinitely varied sky that overhangs a great Dutch river or estuary, the clouds taking at every movement new shapes or new effects of light and shade, and the water below reflecting them" (see an article on "The Landscape Painters of Holland" in The Quarterly Review, October 1891). In order to give his favourite effects, he generally placed the skyline very low in the picture, sometimes not more than a quarter of the canvas being given to the landscape. Van Goyen aimed rather at tone than at colour. "His silvery river-views, with all their delicate shades of grey, are almost studies in monochrome." In his landscapes the foliage and the herbage partake more or less of brown or gray. "No heavy, dark, no bright colour disturbs," says Sir F. Burton, "the dreamy monotone."

This work was formerly ascribed to J. Ruysdael.

138. A VIEW IN ROME.

Giovanni Antonio Panini (Roman: 1695-1768).

Panini, who obtained celebrity as a painter of architectural subjects, was born at Piacenza, and studied in Rome. His settled place of abode was that city, but for some time he lived in Paris, and in 1732 he was elected a member of the French Academy.

Roman ruins with the pyramid of Caius Cestius.

140. PORTRAIT OF A LADY.

Bartholomeus van der Helst (Dutch: 1611-1670).

Of the life of Van der Helst, one of the most distinguished of the Dutch portrait painters, little is known, except that he resided constantly at Amsterdam, and was in good practice there as a portrait painter. He had a part in founding the Painters' Guild there, whilst his likeness of Paul Potter at the Hague (1654), and his partnership with Bakhuizen, who laid in the backgrounds of some of his pictures in 1668, indicate a constant companionship with the best artists of the time. His masterpiece is in the Museum at Amsterdam. It contains thirty-five portraits, whole length, and represents a banquet given by a company of the civil-guard of Amsterdam, in commemoration of the Peace of Münster, in 1648. Sir Joshua Reynolds, in his Journey to Flanders and Holland, says of that work that it "is, perhaps, the first picture of portraits in the world, comprehending more of those qualities which make a perfect portrait than any other I have ever seen." Whilst delighted with Van der Helst, Sir Joshua was disappointed by[Pg 168] Rembrandt; and certainly "Van der Helst attracts by qualities entirely differing from those of Rembrandt and Frans Hals: nothing can be more striking than the contrast between the strong concentrated light and the deep gloom of Rembrandt, and the contempt of chiaroscuro peculiar to his rival, except the contrast between the rapid sketchy touch of Hals and the careful finish of Van der Helst."

This picture is dated 1647.

146. A VIEW ON THE MAES.

Abraham Storck (Dutch: 1630-1710).

About the life of this marine painter nothing is known. His pictures usually represent views near Amsterdam, "with a variety of shipping and boats, and a number of small figures, correctly drawn, and handled with spirit. His ships are well drawn, his colouring clear and transparent, and his skies and water light and floating" (Bryan).

Rotterdam is seen in the distance.

147. CEPHALUS AND AURORA.

148. THE TRIUMPH OF GALATEA.

Agostino Carracci (Eclectic-Bologna: 1557-1602).

Agostino was the elder brother of Annibale Carracci (see under 9) and cousin of Lodovico (see under 28). It was he who composed the well-known sonnet in which the aims of the Eclectic School are set forth. He was the most learned of the Carracci, being painter, engraver, poet, and musician, and well versed in the arts and sciences generally. His pictures are rare. The best is the "Communion of St. Jerome" in the Academy at Bologna. His prints are numerous; his engraving of Tintoretto's "Crucifixion," executed at Venice in 1589, was highly praised by that artist. In the same year Agostino returned to Bologna, and became the principal teacher in the school of the Carracci. He afterwards went to Rome to assist Annibale in the frescoes for the Farnese Palace. He executed the "Cephalus and Aurora" and "Galatea" in that series; his success excited the jealousy of Annibale, and caused a feud between the two brothers. Agostino thereupon left Rome for Parma, where he died shortly afterwards.

These are the cartoons made by Agostino for the frescoes referred to above. They formed part of Sir Thomas Lawrence's collection of drawings. In 147, Cephalus, while on a hunting expedition on Mount Hymettus, is forcibly carried off by Aurora. The aged Tithonus, her husband, is sleeping in the[Pg 169] foreground. In 148, the sea-nymph Galatea is borne on the ocean by Glaucus, preceded by Triton blowing his horn, and surrounded by Nereids and Cupids on Dolphins.

149. A CALM AT SEA.

Willem van de Velde (Dutch: 1633-1707).

William Van de Velde, the younger, was the son of an artist of the same name, and the two together were the most famous sea-painters of their time. The father was specially commissioned by the East India Company to paint several of their ships. The son was for a time engaged in painting the chief naval battles of the Dutch. In 1675 they were both established in England, living at Greenwich, as painters to King Charles II., who granted each of them a pension of £100 a year; the father "for taking and making draughts of sea-fights"; and the son "for putting the said draughts into colours." The Vandeveldes, thus employed, "produced," says Macaulay, "for the king and his nobles some of the finest sea-pieces in the world." "The palm," says Walpole, "is not less disputed with Raphael for history than with Vandevelde for sea-pieces." But in no branch of art has the English School of this century made more conspicuous advance than in sea-painting, and those who are fresh from reminiscences of Turner or Lee, or, amongst later artists, of Hook and Moore and Brett, will hardly be inclined to agree at this day with such high praise of Vandevelde. "It is not easily understood," says Ruskin, "considering how many there are who love the sea, and look at it, that Vandevelde and such others should be tolerated. Foam appears to me to curdle and cream on the wave sides, and to fly flashing from their crests, and not to be set astride upon them like a peruke; and waves appear to me to fall, and plunge, and toss, and nod, and crash over, and not to curl up like shavings; and water appears to me, when it is grey, to have the grey of stormy air mixed with its own deep, heavy, thunderous, threatening blue, and not the grey of the first coat of cheap paint on a deal floor."

"It is not easy to understand," perhaps, but two helps towards understanding may be mentioned in Ruskin's own words. First, previous painters—including even the Venetians, sea-folk though they were—had all treated the sea conventionally. Vandevelde and his fellows, at any rate, endeavoured to study it from nature. Bakhuizen, as we shall see, like Turner after him, used to go to sea in all weathers, the better to obtain "impressions." Hence the Dutch sea-painting did mark an advance, and how great was its influence on later artists and sea-lovers we know from the case of Turner, who "painted many pictures in the manner of Vandevelde, and always painted the sea too grey, and too opaque, in consequence of his early study of him." And this grey and opaque rendering of the sea by the Dutch was to some extent due to natural causes. "Although in artistical qualities lower[Pg 170] than is easily by language expressible, the Italian marine painting usually conveys an idea of three facts about the sea,—that it is green, that it is deep, and that the sun shines on it. The dark plain which stands for far-away Adriatic with the Venetians, and the glinting swells of tamed wave which lap about the quays of Claude, agree in giving the general impression that the ocean consists of pure water, and is open to the pure sky. But the Dutch painters, while they attained considerably greater dexterity than the Italian in mere delineation of nautical incident, were by nature precluded from ever becoming aware of these common facts; and having, in reality, never in all their lives seen the sea, but only a shallow mixture of sea-water and sand; and also never in all their lives seen the sky, but only a lower element between them and it, composed of marsh exhalation and fog-bank,—they are not to be with too great severity reproached for the dulness of their records of the nautical enterprise of Holland. We only are to be reproached, who, familiar with the Atlantic, are yet ready to accept with faith, as types of sea, the small waves en papillote and peruke-like puffs of farinaceous foam, which were the delight of Bakhuizen and his compeers"[97] (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. v. ch. i. § 20; vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. xviii. § 30; On the Old Road, i. 283; Harbours of England, p. 18). The storms of Van der Velde are certainly unattractive, but the silvery daylight of his "calms at sea" gives to many of his works an enduring charm. This painter is well represented both in the Dulwich Gallery and in the Wallace collection.

150. A GALE AT SEA.

Willem van de Velde (Dutch: 1633-1707). See 149.

[Pg 171]

151. A RIVER SCENE.

Jan van Goyen (Dutch: 1596-1656). See 137.

Signed with the artist's name, and dated 1645.

152. AN EVENING LANDSCAPE.

Aart van der Neer (Dutch: 1603-1677).

This painter was a native of Amsterdam, and lived and worked there. His pictures are now much appreciated; but he died destitute, and the pictures he left behind him were valued at only three florins apiece.

Aart (Arthur) van der Neer is the Dutch painter of "the hues and harmonies of evening." Before the door of the country house are a lady and gentleman, who have come out as if to gaze on one of such effects. This is one of the largest of his pictures—which is the more valuable as the figures are by Cuyp, whose name is inscribed on the pail; but 239 is perhaps more attractive.

153. THE CRADLE.

Nicolas Maes (Dutch: 1632-1693).

Maes (or, in more modern form, Maas), was a pupil of Rembrandt, and ranks high among Dutch masters, being distinguished from many of the genre painters by his richer colouring. "He assimilated the principles of his master," says Sir. F. Burton, "without adopting his subjects. In the class of pictures by which he is best known, namely, indoor scenes taken from ordinary life, he unites subtlety of chiaroscuro, vigorous colour, and great mastery in handling, with that true finish which never becomes trivial. The figures are finely drawn, and their action is perfect. Harmonies of red and black prevail in these works—sometimes pervading the picture in subdued tones; sometimes brought out in full contrasting force against white. The smaller pictures by Maes in this Gallery are among the finest examples of the former mode of treatment." Maes entered Rembrandt's studio in 1650 and remained there four years. He then returned to Dort, his native town, where he lived till 1678. In that year he moved to Amsterdam, where he remained to the end of his life, and was employed by most of the distinguished persons of his time. In these latter years he was mostly engaged in portraits. His earlier portraits (of which No. 1277 is a good specimen) are worthy of a pupil of Rembrandt. The later portraits are so different in style and inferior in quality that some critics ascribe them to the painter's son or some other artist of the[Pg 172] same name. "Maes's favourite colour," says Havard, "was red. No artist uses this colour with more boldness or more success than he does in his earlier works [note, e.g. the crimson curtain which forms the background in 1277]. For this reason doubts have been raised if he ever painted the series of large bewigged portraits which have been attributed to him, sombre and morose faces, uniformly set against a dark background. It is difficult to imagine the brilliant painter of 'The Cradle' forgetting his skill in light and shade and his love of nature, to give himself up, as in these commonplace productions, to mannerism and affectation" (The Dutch School, p. 100).

154. A MUSIC PARTY.

David Teniers, the younger (Flemish: 1610-1694).

Teniers, though a Fleming by birth, belongs rather to the Dutch School in style—being one of the principal genre painters, of whom most of the other leading masters are Dutch. His art stands, however, in direct relation to that of the Flemish painters preceding him, through the want of spiritual motive common to him and to them. But Teniers and the genre painters carry this banishment of spiritual motive a step further. "Rubens often gives instructive and magnificent allegory. Rembrandt, pathetic or powerful fancies, founded on real Scripture-reading, and on his interest in the picturesque character of the Jew. And Van Dyck, a graceful rendering of received Scriptural legends. But (with Teniers) ... we lose, not only all faith in religion, but all remembrance of it. Absolutely now at last we find ourselves without sight of God in all the world.... Farthest savages had, and still have, their Great Spirit, or, in extremity, their feather-idols, large-eyed; but here in Holland we have at last got utterly done with it all. Our only idol glitters dimly, in tangible shape of a pint pot, and all the incense offered thereto comes out of a small censer or bowl at the end of a pipe." The place of Teniers in art history is, therefore, so far as the ideals of art go, that he is, par excellence, "the painter of the pleasures of the ale-house and card-table" (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. vi. §§ 10, 11; ch. viii. § 11). He did, indeed, occasionally venture on the ground of religious painting; but his essays in this sort are absurd. His devotion to genre entirely hit the taste of his time, and his fame was rapid and enduring. He was taught the rudiments of art by his father, David Teniers, the elder, a mediocre painter of small rustic subjects (see 949); but his real masters were Rubens and Brouwer, though he did not actually study with them. In 1633, at the age of twenty-three, he received the dignity of master. Four years later he married the daughter of Velvet Breughel, the former ward of Rubens, who acted as witness at the marriage ceremony. His talents were in universal request. The Archduke Leopold-William, Governor of the Spanish Netherlands, appointed him his private painter, and[Pg 173] gave him an office in his household. Queen Christina of Sweden and King Philip IV. of Spain were amongst his patrons. He gave Don Juan of Austria lessons in painting, and this prince painted the portrait of Teniers's son, and presented it to the master as a token of his regard. In 1644 he was chosen to preside over the Antwerp Guild of Painters. In 1647 he took up his abode in Brussels. His country-seat at Perck (see 817) was a constant resort of the Spanish and Flemish nobility. Shortly after the death of his first wife in 1656 he married Isabella de Fren, daughter of the Secretary of the Council of Brabant, and he strove his utmost to prove his right to armorial bearings. The king declared his readiness to grant the request, but only on condition that Teniers should give up selling his pictures. Teniers did not accept the condition, and transferred his energies to procuring a charter for an Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp to which artists should alone be admitted, whereas the former Guild of St. Luke made no distinction between art and handicraft.

The aristocratic leanings of Teniers may be detected in his pictures. He is indeed, as we have seen, "the painter of the ale-house." "He depicted the manners of the Flemish rustic, told of the intimacy of his domestic life and his happy, coarse laughter. His folk go to market, clean out the stable, milk the cows, raise the nets, sharpen knives, shoot off arrows, play at nine-pins or cards, bind up wounds, pull out teeth, cure bacon, make sausages, smoke, sing, dance, caress the girls, and, above all things, drink, like the live Flemings they are." Yet as compared with some other masters of genre, Teniers seems to treat his rustics somewhat from the outside. Their expressions are often exaggerated, and their gestures pass into grimace. "Brouwer knew more of taverns; Ostade was more thoroughly at home in cottages.... Teniers seems anxious to have it known that, far from indulging in the coarse amusements of the boors he is fond of painting, he himself lives in good style and looks like a gentleman. He never seems tired of showing the turrets of his château of Perck, and in the midst of rustic merry-makings we often see his family and himself received cap in hand by the joyous peasants" (e.g. in 817). So too, though many of his interiors are very good, Teniers is on the whole at his best in open-air scenes. In his skies he has given (says Ruskin) "some very wonderful passages" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. iii. ch. i. § 20; H. Hymans in Encyclopædia Britannica; Wauters's Flemish School, p. 294). Good examples of Teniers continue to be greatly appreciated. The Belgian Government, for instance, gave £5000 in 1867 for the "Village Pastoral," now in Brussels Museum. The taste of Teniers may justly be condemned; his technique will always be admired. "Take," says Ruskin, "a picture by Teniers, of sots quarrelling over their dice; it is an entirely clever picture—so clever that nothing in its kind has ever been done equal to it; but it is also an entirely base and evil picture. It is an expression of delight in the prolonged[Pg 174] contemplation of a vile thing, and delight in that is an 'unmannered' or 'immoral' quality" (Crown of Wild Olive, § 56). His bright palette, his freshness of handling, his straightforwardness in means and intent, give to the best works of Teniers a permanent interest. He "touched with a workmanly hand, such as we cannot see rivalled now"; and he seems "never to have painted indolently, but gave the purchaser his thorough money's worth of mechanism." Hence it is that Sir Joshua Reynolds, though condemning Teniers's vulgarity of subject, yet held up his pictures as models to students who wished to excel in execution. It should, however, be noted that his works vary very much in this respect. Many of his later pictures are painted so thinly that the ground is in places barely covered. They have been called "afternoons," not from their subject, but from the time the painter took in producing them.

This and the companion picture, 158, are characteristic specimens of the painter. The human specimens are ugly and vulgar; the pottery is pretty, and beautifully painted.

155. THE MONEY CHANGERS.

Teniers (Flemish: 1610-1694). See under last picture.

A man and his wife—usurers, we may suppose—counting their money. There is all the miser's misery in the withered careworn faces, all the miser's greed in the thin, tremulous hands. The man alone seems not quite to like some transaction which they are discussing; the woman—Portia's prerogative of mercy being reversed—seems to be thinking, "Come, man, don't be a fool: a bond is a bond."

156. A STUDY OF HORSES.

Van Dyck (Flemish: 1599-1641). See 49.

An interesting sketch as illustrating Van Dyck's affection for the horse. "In painting, I find that no real interest is taken in the horse until Van Dyck's time, he and Rubens doing more for it than all previous painters put together. Rubens was a good rider, and rode nearly every day, as, I doubt not, Van Dyck also. The horse has never, I think, been painted worthily again, since he died" (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. vi. § 22).

The particular choice of subject in this sketch shows further in its literary connection a lover of the horse. The subject, as we know from the words equi Achillis on a scroll[Pg 175] in the left corner of the picture, is the horses of Achilles, said for their swiftness to be the sons of the wind Zephyrus: in the upper part of the picture is a sketch of a zephyr's head. "The gentleness of chivalry, properly so called, depends on the recognition of the order and awe of lower and loftier animal-life, ... taught most perfectly by Homer in the fable of the horses of Achilles. There is, perhaps, in all the Iliad nothing more deep in significance—there is nothing in all literature more perfect in human tenderness, and honour for the mystery of inferior life, than the verses that describe the sorrow of the divine horses at the death of Patroclus, and the comfort given them by the greatest of the gods"[98] (Fors Clavigera, 1871, ix. 13).

157. A LANDSCAPE: SUNSET.

Rubens (Flemish: 1577-1640). See 38.

For Rubens's landscapes see under 66. "It is to be noted, however, that the licenses taken by Rubens in particular instances are as bold as his general statements are sincere.... In the Sunset of our own Gallery many of the shadows fall at right angles to the light" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. i. ch. vii. § 15).

158. BOORS REGALING.

Teniers (Flemish: 1610-1694). See 154.

159. THE DUTCH HOUSEWIFE.

Nicolas Maes (Dutch: 1632-1693). See 153.

"There are few pictures in the National Gallery," says C. R. Leslie (Handbook for Young Painters, p. 243), "before which I find myself more often standing than at this." Its great attraction, he adds, is "the delight of seeing a trait of childhood we have often observed and been amused with in nature, for the first time so felicitously given by art." The Dutch housewife sits intently engaged in scraping a parsnip, [Pg 176]whilst the child stands by her side "watching the process, as children will stand and watch the most ordinary operations, with an intensity of interest, as if the very existence of the whole world depended on the exact manner in which that parsnip was scraped." Note the Flemish kruik, or beer-jug, so often introduced into the pictures of Maes. Signed and dated 1655.

160. A "RIPOSO."

Mola (Eclectic-Bologna: 1612-1668). See 69.

The Italians gave this title to the subject of the Holy Family resting on the way in their flight to Egypt,—"the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt."

161. AN ITALIAN LANDSCAPE.

Gaspard Poussin (French: 1613-1675). See 31.

Gaspard travelled largely in Italy in search of the picturesque, and this striking landscape may be a recollection of the mountain scenery in the North—possibly near Bergamo. The spray of foliage prominent on the left is characteristic of Gaspard's method:—

"One of the most remarkable characters of natural leafage is the constancy with which, while the leaves are arranged on the spray with exquisite regularity, that regularity is modified in their actual effect. For as in every group of leaves some are seen sideways, forming merely long lines, some foreshortened, some crossing each other, every one differently turned and placed from all the others, the forms of the leaves, though in themselves similar, give rise to a thousand strange and differing forms in the group.... Now go to Gaspard Poussin and take one of his sprays, where they come against the sky; you may count it all round: one, two, three, four, one bunch; five, six, seven, eight, two bunches; nine, ten, eleven, twelve, three bunches; with four leaves each; and such leaves! every one precisely the same as its neighbour, blunt and round at the end (where every forest leaf is sharp, except that of the fig-tree), tied together by the stalks, and so fastened on to the demoniacal claws above described (see under 68), one bunch to each claw" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. vi. ch. i. §§ 16, 17).

[Pg 177]

163. VENICE: A VIEW ON THE GRAND CANAL.

Canaletto (Venetian: 1697-1768). See 127.

The Church, that of S. Simeone Piccolo, was built in Canaletto's time. "One of the ugliest churches in Venice or elsewhere. Its black dome, like an unusual species of gasometer, is the admiration of modern Italian architects" (Stones of Venice, vol. iii. Venetian Index, s. v. Simeone).

165. THE PLAGUE AT ASHDOD.

Nicolas Poussin (French: 1593-1665). See 39.

The Philistines having overcome the Israelites removed the ark of the Lord to Ashdod, and placed it in the temple of their god Dagon. "And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark ..." (seen here in the temple to the right). "But the hand of the Lord was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he smote them with a loathsome plague" (1 Samuel v. 4, 6).

The picture—a ghastly subject ghastlily treated—is yet a good instance of Poussin's learned treatment. Everywhere the intention to express alarm is obvious, and in the foreground are figures fleeing the infection, with nose and mouth muffled. Others are engaged removing the dead and dying, while in the centre are the dead bodies of a mother and child; another child approaches the mother's breast, but the father stoops down to avert it. A similar group to this occurs in a design by Raphael, "Il Morbetto," and was also in the celebrated picture by Aristides which Alexander the Great, at the sack of Thebes, claimed for himself and sent to his palace at Pella (Wornum: Epochs of Painting, p. 47, ed. 1864). This picture is a replica of one, now in the Louvre, which was painted in Rome in 1630—Poussin receiving only 60 scudi (about 12 guineas) for it.

166. A CAPUCHIN FRIAR.

Rembrandt (Dutch: 1606-1669). See 45.

Michel ascribes this portrait to the year of Rembrandt's tribulations. "At this period, when his emotions were so[Pg 178] deeply stirred by the vision of a compassionate Saviour, he felt a kindred attraction for those mystic souls who sought in solitude and prayer a closer communion with the Christ to whom he felt himself drawn by his own sorrows. The 'Capuchin' in the National Gallery has suffered from time, but the devout gravity of the face is finely expressed" (Rembrandt: his Life, his Work, and his Time, ii. 126).

167. THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI.

Peruzzi (Sienese: 1481-1537). See 218.

This drawing—of the same composition as we see in the picture No. 218—was made at Bologna in 1521 for Count Giovanni Battista Bentivogli. The drawing was presented to the National Gallery by Lord Vernon, together with a print from the plate engraved from it by Agostino Carracci.

168. ST. CATHERINE OF ALEXANDRIA.

Raphael (Urbino: 1483-1520). See 1171.

This is a picture of Raphael's second period—"painted about the year 1507, to judge from its close resemblance in style to the celebrated picture of the Entombment in the Borghese (Rome), which is known to have been executed at that time." There are several studies for the picture in the University Galleries at Oxford, and another in the Chatsworth collection. The finished cartoon in black and white chalk, pricked for transfer to the panel, is exhibited in the Louvre.

A perfect picture of saintly resignation. St. Catherine (for whose story see 693) leans on the wheel, the instrument of her martyrdom, and "looks up to heaven in the dawn of the eternal day, with her lips parted in the resting from her pain." Her right hand is pressed on her bosom, as if she replied to the call from above, "I am here, O Lord! ready to do Thy will." From above, a bright ray is seen streaming down upon her, emblematic of the divine inspiration which enabled her to confound her heathen adversaries. The studies existing show the pains Raphael took with the exquisite expression; but the result defies analysis. "It is impossible to explain in language the exact qualities of the lines on which depend the whole truth and beauty of expression about the half-opened lips of Raphael's St. Catherine."[Pg 179] But these lines should be noticed as exemplifying the principle of "vital beauty"—of beauty, that is to say, as consisting in the appearance in living things of felicitous fulfilment of function. Thus eyes and mouths become more beautiful precisely as they become more perfect means of moral expression. The mouth of a negro is ugly because it is only a means of eating; the mouth of St. Catherine is beautiful for the feeling it expresses (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. i. ch. vii. § 47; vol. ii. pt. iii. sec. i. ch. xii. § 10, sec. ii. ch. v. § 21). It may be noticed, lastly, how much the pathetic feeling of the picture is heightened by the herbage in the foreground, and especially perhaps by the carefully-painted dandelion "clock": "so soon passeth it away, and we are gone."

169. THE HOLY FAMILY.

Ludovico Mazzolino (Ferrarese: 1480-1528).

Ludovico Mazzolino, "whose brilliant colours play through all shades," has been called "the glowworm of the Ferrarese School;" creamy-toned backgrounds of architectural subjects also enrich his compositions. "He was principally a genre painter, though in his early period he is said to have worked much in fresco. His brilliant colouring made him a favourite with art-loving prelates of succeeding generations; hence his small pictures abound in Roman collections" (Italian Painters, Borghese Gallery, p. 219). Morelli elsewhere adds the conjecture that Mazzolino studied at Ferrara under Domenico Pannetti. In another of his characteristics—the minuteness, namely, of his work—he resembles rather the Flemish School. Of his life little or nothing is known; but his interest in decorative craftsmanship is proved by his pictures.

The background and accessories here, as well as in 641, are particularly interesting as a record of the decorative art of the time. A few years before the date of these pictures the Pope Leo X. had unearthed the buried treasures of the Baths of Titus, and Giovanni da Udine rediscovered the mode by which their stucco decorations were produced. This method of modelling in wet plaster on walls and ceilings was extensively used in house decoration from that time down to the middle of the last century, but has since then been supplanted by the cheaper process of casting. No sooner was Giovanni da Udine's invention known than it must have been adopted by Ferrarese artists, for here we find Mazzolino[Pg 180] portraying it in the background of his picture. As in Tura's pilaster (see 772), the winged sphere plays a principal part in the design, for it was a favourite badge of the ducal house of Ferrara. Nor is it only in the plaster modelling that Mazzolino's interest in decorative art shows itself. The back of the bench on which the Madonna sits is crowned by the most delicate carving, whilst up aloft, peeping over the wall on which the plaster work occurs, there is a choir of angels playing on a portable organ, which is full of suggestions for decorative design (G. T. Robinson in Art Journal, May 1886, pp. 151, 152).

170. THE HOLY FAMILY.

Garofalo (Ferrarese; 1481-1559). See 81.

Notice the rich cap in which the little St. John is dressed; it is not unlike those which French and Flemish children are still made to wear as a protection from tumbles. There is a grace in the figures of the Virgin and St. Elizabeth which recalls Raphael. A less happy effect of his influence may be seen in the vision of the heavenly host above, full of that exaggerated action which marks the decadence of Italian art. God the Father is represented gesticulating wildly, almost like an actor in melodrama. And so with the playing angels. In pictures of the great time they are shown "with uninterrupted and effortless gesture ... singing as calmly as the Fates weave" (Relation between Michael Angelo and Tintoret, p. 15), but here they are all scrambling through their songs, their hair floating in the breeze and their faces full of excited gesture.

172. THE SUPPER AT EMMAUS.

Caravaggio (Naturalist: 1569-1609).

Michael Angelo Amerighi, the son of a mason, is usually called Caravaggio from his birthplace, a town of that name near Milan.[99] He was the leader of the so-called "Naturalist" School (see introduction to "The Later Italian Schools"), which numbered among its [Pg 181]disciples Spagnoletto (235) and the Dutch Gerard von Honthorst (1444). The characteristics of his art, as described below, were not out of keeping with the sombre character of the man.[100] He had established himself as a painter at Rome, when he had to fly for homicide. He was playing at tennis and became so violent in a dispute that he killed his companion. After a short stay at Naples he went to Malta, where he gained the favour of the grand-master, and was made a Knight of the Cross of Malta. His ungovernable temper, however, again led him into trouble, and quarrelling with one of the knights, he was cast into prison. He escaped to Sicily and thence returned to Naples. Having procured the Pope's pardon for his original offence, he hired a felucca and set sail for Rome. The coast-guard arrested him in mistake for another person; the crew of the felucca plundered him of all his belongings; and after wandering disconsolately along the coast, he was seized with fever, and died at the early age of forty.

One notices first in this picture the least important things—the supper before the company, the roast chicken before Christ. Next one sees how coarse and almost ruffianly are the disciples, represented as supping with their risen Lord at Emmaus (Luke xxiv. 30, 31). Both points are characteristic of the painter, who was driven by the insipidities of the preceding mannerists into a crude "realism," which made him resolve to describe sacred and historical events just as though they were being enacted in a slum by butchers and fishwives. "He was led away," says Lanzi (i. 452), "by his sombre genius, and represented objects with very little light. He ridiculed all artists who attempted a noble expression of countenance or graceful folding of drapery." His first altar-piece was removed by the priests for whom it was painted, as being too vulgar for such a subject. "Many interesting studies from the taverns of Italy remain to prove Caravaggio's mastery over scenes of common life. For the historian of manners in seventeenth-century Italy, those pictures have a truly precious value, as they are executed with such passion as to raise them above the more careful but more lymphatic transcripts from beer-cellars in Dutch painting. But when he applied his principles to higher subjects, then vulgarity became apparent. It seems difficult for realism, either in literature or art, not to fasten upon ugliness, vice, pain, and disease, as though these imperfections of our nature were more real than beauty, [Pg 182]goodness, pleasure, and health. Therefore Caravaggio, the leader of a school which the Italians christened Naturalists, may be compared to Zola" (Symonds, vii. 221).

173. PORTRAIT OF A GENTLEMAN.

Bassano (Venetian: 1510-1592).

Jacopo da Ponte is commonly called Il Bassano or Jacopo da Bassano from his native town, near Venice. His father, Francesco, who was a painter in the school of the Bellini, was his first master; he afterwards studied under Bonifazio at Venice. After a short stay in that city, Jacopo returned to his native town, where he remained for the rest of a long life. "His best works are almost worthy," says Sir F. Burton, "of Titian. They are conspicuous among other qualities for Venetian excellence of colouring—especially in his green, where he exhibits a peculiar brilliancy. Most of his pictures seem at first sight as dazzling, then as cooling and soothing, as the best kind of stained glass; while the colouring of details, particularly of those under high lights, is jewel-like, as clear and deep and satisfying as rubies and emeralds." No. 228 in this Collection has passages which illustrate this point. Jacopo was nearly contemporary with the great Tintoretto, but while the latter was the last of the Venetian painters in the grand style, Bassano after a time devoted himself to simple scenes of country life. His distinguishing place in the history of art is that he was the first Italian painter of genre—a painter, that is, du genre bas, painter of a low class of subjects, of familiar objects such as do not belong to any other recognised class of paintings (as history, portrait, etc.): see, for instance, No. 228, in which the religious subject merely gives the painter an opportunity for a scene of market life. "His pictures were for the inhabitants of the small market-town from which he takes his name, where, besides the gates, you still see men and women in rustic garb crouching over their many-coloured wares; and where, just outside the walls, you may see all the ordinary occupations connected with farming and grazing. Inspired, although unawares, by the new idea of giving perfectly modern versions of Biblical stories, Bassano introduced into nearly every picture he painted episodes from the life in the streets of Bassano and in the country just outside the gates. Another thing Bassano could not fail to do, working as he did in the country and for country people, was to paint landscape. He loved to paint the real country. He was, in fact, the first modern landscape painter" (Berenson: Venetian Painters of the Renaissance, § xxi). "Giovanni Bellini places his figure in the crystal air of an Italian morning; Titian and Tintoretto give us daylight, mighty while subdued; but Bassano throws a lurid grey over his landscape and carries the eye to the solemn twilight spread along the distant horizon. This peculiarity of feature is partly accounted for by the position of the town of[Pg 183] Bassano, which is wrapped in an early twilight by the high mountains above it on the west" (Layard's edition of Kugler, ii. 624).

A fine portrait—somewhat recalling Rembrandt in style—of a very refined face. In the vase beside him is a sprig of myrtle. This painter is fond of introducing such vases: see one in 277. In the principal street of Bassano, where the artist was born and, after studying at Venice, continued to live, such vessels may still be seen placed out for sale.

174. PORTRAIT OF CARDINAL CERRI.

Carlo Maratti (Roman: 1625-1713).

Carlo Maratti (called also Carlo delle Madonne, from the large number of Madonna pictures that he painted) was an imitator of Raphael, and for nearly half a century the most eminent painter in Rome. The portrait of a cardinal should have come kindly to him, for he was in the service of several popes, and was appointed superintendent of the Vatican Chambers by Innocent XI.

176. ST. JOHN AND THE LAMB.

Murillo (Spanish: 1618-1682). See 13.

An interesting illustration of the substitution of the palpable image for the figurative phrase. The mission of St. John the Baptist was to prepare the way for Christ, to proclaim to the people "Behold the Lamb of God!" Murillo makes the standard of the Lamb, with those words upon it, lie upon the ground below; but he further represents the young St. John as embracing an actual lamb.

177. THE MAGDALEN.

Guido (Eclectic-Bologna: 1575-1642). See 11.

Just such a picture as might have suggested the lines in Pope's epistle on "The Characters of Women"—

Let then the fair one beautifully cry, In Magdalen's loose hair and lifted eye; Or dress'd in smiles of sweet Cecilia shine, With simpering angels, palms, and harps divine; Whether the charmer sinner it, or saint it, If folly grow romantic, I must paint it.

Just such a picture, too, as Guido turned out in numbers.[Pg 184] "He was specially fond," says one of his biographers, "of depicting faces with upraised looks, and he used to say that he had a hundred different modes" of thus supplying sentimentality to order.

179. VIRGIN AND CHILD ENTHRONED.

180. A PIETÀ.

Francia (Ferrarese-Bolognese: 1450-1517).

Of Francesco Raibolini's life the two most interesting things are these: first, that great artist though he came to be, he never painted a picture, so far as we know, till he was forty; and secondly, the intimate connection, exemplified in him, between the artist and the craftsman. He was the son of a carpenter, and, like so many of the greatest old masters, was brought up to the goldsmith's trade. The name of Francia was that of his master in goldsmith's work, and was adopted by him in gratitude.[101] He attained great skill in his trade, especially as a die-engraver and a worker in "niello" (inlaying a black composition into steel or silver). He was appointed steward of the Goldsmiths' Guild in 1483, and afterwards became master of the Mint—a post which he held till his death. In some of his earlier pictures the hand of a goldsmith is seen—in the clear outline, the metallic and polished surface, and the minuteness of detail; and even on some of his later and more important works, such as 179, he signed himself "Francia aurifex (goldsmith) Bononiensis." It was with Costa, the Ferrarese artist (see 629), who migrated to Bologna, and with whom he entered into partnership, that Francia learnt the art of painting, and thus, though a Bolognese, he is properly included in the Ferrarese School. His work marks the culminating point of that school, just as Raphael's[102] marks that of the Umbrian, and in these pictures (originally one altar-piece, painted for the Buonvisi chapel in S. Frediano at Lucca, where, says Vasari, it was held to be of great value) we have some of his best work. Many of his pictures are still at Bologna, including the one which some consider his chef d'œuvre, the Bentivoglio altar-piece in S. Giacomo Maggiore.[Pg 185] Francia is the most pathetic of painters. Raphael is said to have remarked that Francia's Madonnas were the most devoutly beautiful he knew,[103] and there is considerable affinity between Francia and Perugino. But the Umbrian master was more ideal; in Francia there are touches of realism. "It will be observed in No. 180 that the Virgin is represented as a middle-aged woman, and that the lids of the angels' eyes are red with weeping. In spirit also they are different. Francia makes his angels appeal to the spectator as if to enlist his sympathy in the pathos of the tragedy, holding up the beautiful tresses of Christ's hair to aid in the appeal. This Perugino would never have done; his angels, and his saints also, are always wrapt in a spiritual ecstasy to which Francia could not attain" (Monkhouse: In the National Gallery, p. 173).

(179) On the throne are the Virgin and her mother, St. Anne, who offers the infant Christ a peach, symbolical, as the fruit thus offered in these pictures originally was, of "the fruits of the spirit—joy, peace, and love." At the foot of the throne stands the little St. John (the Baptist), "one of the purest creations of Christian art," holding in his arms the cross of reeds and the scroll inscribed "Ecce Agnus Dei" ("Behold the Lamb of God"). The discovery of Benedetto Buonvisi's will has shown why the various saints were selected—St. Anne, because the Buonvisi chapel was dedicated to her; St. Lawrence as the patron of the founder's father; St. Paul as the patron of the founder's brother and heir; St. Sebastian as the saint invoked in plagues (from which calamity Lucca suffered in 1510); and St. Benedict as the patron of the founder (G. C. Williamson's Francia, p. 111).

(180) This picture, which was the "lunette," or arch, forming the top of the altar-piece, is a "pietà," i.e. the Virgin and two angels weeping over the dead body of Christ. The artist has filled his picture with that solemn reverential pity, harmonised by love, which befits his subject. The body of Christ—utterly dead, yet not distorted nor defaced by death—is that of a tired man whose great soul would not let him rest while there was still His father's work to do on earth. In the face of the angel at His head there is a look of quiet joy, [Pg 186]as of one who knows that "death is but a covered way that leads into the light"; in the attitude and expression of the angel at the feet there is prayerful sympathy for the sorrowing mother. The face of the mother herself, which before was pure and calm, is now tear-stained and sad, because her son has met so cruel a death—

What else in life seems piteous any more After such pity?

Yet it bears a look of content because the world has known him. She rests His body tenderly on her knee as she did when he was a little child—thus are "the hues of the morning and the solemnity of eve, the gladness in accomplished promise, and sorrow of the sword-pierced heart, gathered into one human Lamp of ineffable love" (Modern Painters, vol. ii. pt. iii. sec. ii. ch. v. § 21).

181. THE VIRGIN AND CHILD WITH ST. JOHN.

Perugino (Umbrian: 1446-1523). See 288.

If really by Perugino,[104] this must be one of his early works. It is painted in tempera. The Flemish process of oil-painting found its way to Venice, where Perugino is known to have been in 1494, and where he probably learnt it. The superiority of the new method may be seen in a moment by comparing the cracked surface and faded colours of this picture with 288, which was painted when Perugino had obtained complete mastery over the new medium, and which is still as bright and fresh as when it was painted. The style of this picture is, however, thoroughly Peruginesque. It is interesting to compare the Umbrian type of the Madonna—innocent and girl-like, with an air of far-off reverie—with the types of other schools. The Umbrian Madonna is less mature, more etherealised than the Venetian. She is a girl, rather than a mother. Therein she resembles the Florentine type; but an air of dreamy reverie in the Umbrian takes the place of the intellectual [Pg 187]mysticism of the Florentine. In Perugino "the Umbrian type finds its fullest and highest representative. Dainty small features, all too babyish for the figures that bear them; a mouth like a cupid's bow; a tiny and delicate chin; eyes set well apart, with curiously heavy and drooping lids; faint pencilled eyebrows; a broad smooth forehead,—these are the main elements in Perugino's Madonnas" (Grant Allen in the Pall Mall Magazine, 1895, p. 620).

184. PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG LADY.

Nicolas Lucidel (German: 1527-1590).

Lucidel (a name which is supposed to be a corruption of Neufchatel) studied painting at Antwerp, and afterwards settled at Nuremberg. This picture, dated 1561, was formally ascribed to Sir Antonio More and supposed to represent Jeanne d'Archel; but it reveals (says the latest edition of the Official Catalogue) "in its style and its Upper German costume, the handiwork of Lucidel."

"The picture is much obscured," says Sir Edward Poynter, "by a coarse brown varnish. A beautiful example of this master, in the collection of Lord Spencer, is remarkable for the purity of its colour, and doubtless this portrait had originally the same qualities" (The National Gallery, i. 294).

186. PORTRAITS OF JAN ARNOLFINI AND HIS WIFE.

Jan van Eyck (Early Flemish: about 1390-1440).

The Van Eycks—Hubert, the elder brother, and Jan—were natives of Maesyck (Eyck-sur-Meuse), and are famous as being the artists to whose ingenuity the first invention of the art of painting in oils was for a long time ascribed. The probability is that although the practice of mixing oil with colours was employed for decorative purposes in Germany and elsewhere long before their time, they were the first to so improve it as to make it fully serviceable for figure-painting.[105] The [Pg 188]art of oil painting reached higher perfection in many ways after their time; but there is no picture in the Gallery which shows better than this, one great capacity of oil painting—its combination, namely, of "imperishable firmness with exquisite delicacy" (On the Old Road, i. 141). The place of the Van Eycks in the development of early Flemish art has been described in the introduction to that School, but the suddenness and completeness of their mastery remains among the wonders of painting. "The first Italian Renaissance," says Fromentin, "has nothing comparable to this. And in the particular order of sentiments they expressed and of the subjects they chose, one must admit that neither any Lombard School, nor Tuscan, nor Venetian, produced anything that resembles the first outburst of the School of Bruges." The two brothers were granted the freedom of the profession by the Corporation of Painters of Ghent in 1421. In that year Jan left Hubert and took an appointment as painter to Count John of Bavaria at the Hague. In 1424 he returned to Bruges as painter to Philip, Duke of Burgundy, in whose service he remained to the end of his life. Like Rubens, the painter Jan van Eyck "amused himself with being ambassador." "He was frequently employed on missions of trust; and following the fortunes of a chief who was always in the saddle, he appears for a time to have been in ceaseless motion, receiving extra pay for secret services at Leyden, drawing his salary at Bruges, yet settled in a fixed abode at Lille. In 1428 he joined the embassy sent by Philip the Good to Lisbon to beg the hand of Isabella of Portugal. His portrait of the bride fixed the Duke's choice. After his return he settled finally at Bruges, where he married, and his wife bore him a daughter, known in after years as a nun in the convent of Maesyck. At the christening of this child the Duke was sponsor; and this was but one of the many distinctions by which Philip the Good rewarded his painter's merits" (Crowe). But never was there an artist less puffed up. "Jan van Eyck was here." "As I can, not as I would." Such signatures are the sign-marks of modesty. In 1426 his brother Hubert died, leaving the great altar-piece—the Adoration of the Lamb—for Jan to finish. This masterpiece of the Van Eycks was in 1432 set up in the Chapel of St. Bavon at Ghent, where the[Pg 189] central portions still remain—the other original panels being now at Brussels and Berlin. The portraits by Jan in our Gallery belong to the next three years. There are no finer specimens of his marvellous precision and delicacy in this branch of the art.

This wonderful picture of a Flemish interior—dated 1434—is as spruce and clean now (for the small twig broom did its work so well that the goodman and his wife were not afraid to walk on the polished floor without their shoes), as it was when first painted five hundred years ago. This is the more interesting from the eventful history the picture has had. At one time we hear of a barber-surgeon at Bruges presenting it to the Queen-regent of the Netherlands, who valued it so highly that she pensioned him in return for the gift. At another it must have passed again into humbler hands, for General Hay found it in the room to which he was taken in 1815 at Brussels to recover from wounds at the battle of Waterloo. He purchased the picture after his recovery, and sold it to the British Government in 1842. "It is," says Sir Edward Poynter, "one of the most precious possessions in the national collection, and, in respect of its marvellous finish, combined with the most astounding truth of imitation and effect, perhaps the most remarkable picture in the world."

For the delicacy of workmanship note especially the mirror, in which are reflected not only the objects in the room, but others beyond what appears in the picture, for a door and two additional figures may be distinguished. In the frame of the mirror, too, are ten diminutive pictures of the ten "moments" in the Passion of Christ "as material for the lady's meditation while doing her hair." Notice also the brass-work of the chandelier. "There are many little objects about, such as an orange on the window-sill, placed there to catch the light. Through the window you can see a cherry-tree, with sunshine on the ripe fruit. In the treatment of these and similar details Jan van Eyck shows a liking for dots and spots of light" (Conway). Above the chandelier, elaborately wrought, is the painter's signature. This signature (in Latin), "Jan van Eyck was here," exactly expresses the modesty and veracity which were the keynote of his art. The artist only professed to come, to see, and to record what he saw. Arnolfini was the representative at Bruges of a Lucca firm of merchants, and Van Eyck gives us a picture of the quiet, dry, business folk exactly as he found them.

[Pg 190]

187. THE APOTHEOSIS OF WILLIAM THE TACITURN OF HOLLAND.

Rubens (Flemish: 1577-1640). See 38.

A sketch of a picture in the possession of the Earl of Jersey. This sketch was formerly in the possession of Sir David Wilkie, R.A.

189. THE DOGE LEONARDO LOREDANO.

Giovanni Bellini (Venetian: 1426-1516).

Giovanni Bellini (often shortened into Giambellini)—the greatest of the fifteenth-century artists—"the mighty Venetian master who alone of all the painters of Italy united purity of religious aim with perfection of artistical power"[106]—belonged, it is interesting to note, to a thoroughly artistic family. His father, Jacopo, drawings by whom may be seen in the British Museum, was an artist of repute; his elder brother Gentile (see 1213) was another. The two brothers studied together in their father's school at Padua, and there they formed a friendship with Mantegna, who afterwards married their sister. Two pictures in our Gallery (Bellini's, 726; and Mantegna's, 1417) recall the days of their early association. By blood every inch an artist, so was Giovanni also in character. His life was one long devotion to his art. He lived to be ninety, and showed to the end increasing knowledge and power. Albert Dürer wrote in 1506, when the grand old man was eighty, that "though very old he was still the best painter in Venice."[107]

[Pg 191]

This famous portrait must have been painted about the same time, for Leonardo Loredano only became Doge in 1501. About 1460, Bellini had settled in Venice, where he soon rivalled and eclipsed the established school of the Vivarini. In 1479, when his elder brother Gentile departed to Constantinople, Giovanni was appointed in his place to carry on the series of pictures for the Hall of the Great Council in the Ducal Palace. These works were destroyed by fire in 1577. The documents referring to them show the terms on which he worked. He was engaged at a fixed rate of salary to work "constantly and daily, so that said pictures may be completed as expeditiously as possible, with three assistants, also paid by the State, to render speedy and diligent assistance." One of these assistants was Carpaccio (see 750). Three years later he was appointed State painter to the Republic. His fame is sounded by Ariosto, who in "Orlando Furioso" ranks him with Leonardo. It may be gathered also from the number of great painters who attended his studio, including Giorgione and Titian. He was overwhelmed with work, and doubtless employed assistants to complete commissions from his design. Hence the confusion that exists in the matter of attribution among pictures of this school (see under 599). With Titian he was on terms of warm friendship, and his last work (a companion piece to Titian's "Bacchus and Ariadne," now in the Duke of Northumberland's Gallery at Alnwick) was left for Titian to finish. Bellini was buried in the Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, in the same tomb where Gentile had lain since 1507.

Giovanni Bellini's long life covers the end of one period and the beginning of another in the history of Italian art. In point of technique this is so: his earliest works are in tempera, his later ones in oil—the use of which medium he learnt perhaps from Antonello da Messina. It is so also in motive. "The iridescence of dying statesmanship in Italy, her magnificence of hollow piety, were represented in the arts of Venice and Florence by two mighty men on either side—Titian and Tintoret, Michael Angelo and Raphael. Of the calm and brave statesmanship, the modest and faithful religion, which had been her strength, I am content to name one chief representative artist at Venice, John Bellini." The years of change were 1480-1520 (roughly speaking those of Raphael's life). "John Bellini precedes the change, meets and resists it victoriously till his death. Nothing of flaw or failure is ever to be discerned in him" (Relation between Michael Angelo and Tintoret, pp. 11-13). His position is thus unique: he was the meeting-point of two ways: as great in artistic power as the masters who came after, as pure in religious aim as those who went before. An interesting episode is recorded which marks the transition and Bellini's meeting of it. Isabella Gonzaga, the Duchess of Mantua, wrote in 1501 to her agent in Venice to get Bellini to do for her a picture of which the subject was to be profane, to suit Mantegna's allegories. Bellini suggests that he cannot do such a subject in a way to compare with Mantegna; with such a subject "he cannot do anything to look well." Isabella thereupon is content to put up with a religious subject,[Pg 192] but Bellini on his side agrees to add "a distant landscape and other fantasies" (qualche luntani et altra fantaxia). Bellini, however, was by no means stagnant in his art, or in his outlook. At the end of his life, he undertook, as we have seen, a Bacchanal, and in his middle period he painted the beautiful little allegories now in the Academy at Venice. "Bellini," says Morelli, "was ever making progress. He knew how to adapt himself to his subject, and was, as occasion required, grand and serious, graceful and attractive, naïve and simple." It is in Venice that Bellini can be best studied; but our National Gallery is fortunate in having more of his works than can be seen in any other collection north of the Alps. And how varied are his powers! The same hand has given us subjects of intense religious conviction, like "The Agony in the Garden" (726) and "The Blood of the Redeemer" (1233); "sunny pictures of devotional sentiment" (280 and 599); the noble portrait here before us; and delicate landscape work, like the "Peter Martyr" (812). In his earliest pictures he devoted himself to the profoundest sentiments of Christianity—perhaps, as has been suggested, under the influence of S. Bernardino, then preaching at Padua (Roger Fry's Giovanni Bellini, p. 22). Afterwards the "note" in Bellini's work is rather "genial serenity." The expression of his Madonnas is often tender and solemn, but he never lets it pass into the region of the ecstatic. All is bright and peaceful and sunny. He belongs to what Ruskin calls "the age of the masters," in which the main object is "pictorial perfectness and deliciousness."

A magnificent portrait of one of the greatest men of the Venetian Republic. Leonardo, the 67th Doge, held office from 1501 to 1521. He belonged to one of the most ancient and noble families in the State, and Venice, under his rule, was one of the Great Powers of Europe—as the league of Cambrai formed against him sufficiently shows. There is all the quiet dignity of a born ruler in his face—"fearless, faithful, patient, impenetrable, implacable—every word a fate" (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. ix. § 1). In his capacity of State painter to the Republic it was Bellini's duty to execute the official portraits of the Doges. During his long life he saw no fewer than eleven Doges, and was State painter during the reigns of four. This, however, is the only portrait of a Doge by Bellini which has been preserved (Richter's Lectures on the National Gallery, p. 42). It is remarkable alike for strong characterisation, simplicity of conception, and brilliancy of colouring.

190. A JEWISH RABBI.

Rembrandt (Dutch: 1606-1669). See 45, and also under 51.

[Pg 193]

191. THE YOUTHFUL CHRIST AND ST. JOHN.

Guido (Eclectic-Bologna: 1575-1642). See 11.

St. John is charming in the beauty of boyhood. In the youthful Christ the painter has striven after something more "ideal," and has produced a somewhat namby-pamby face.

192. PORTRAIT OF HIMSELF.

Gerard Dou (Dutch: 1613-1675).

Dou, who stands at the head of the Leyden School, is remarkable for the patient industry which he devoted to his work, and which was rewarded by his attainment of wonderful mastery in delicate execution. "Mr. Slap-dash whips out his pocket-book, scribbles for five minutes on one page, and from that memorandum paints with the aid of the depths of his consciousness the whole of his picture. Not so the true follower of Gerard Dou. To him the silent surface with the white ground is a sacred place that is to tell on after ages, and bring pleasure or power or knowledge to hundreds of thousands as silently. No eyes, emperor's or clown's, telling the other that they have been there. It is worth this man's while to spend a whole sketch-book, if need be, over one twelve-inch panel" (Letters of James Smetham, p. 173). With Gerard Dou "a picture was a thing of orderly progression, even as the flowers of spring gradually unfold their leaves and buds and blossoms to the sun. He hurried his work for no man, but moved with a princely ease, as much as to say to the world, 'Other men may hurry as they please, from necessity or excitement; but Gerard Dou at least chooses to think, and to perfect his works until he has satisfied himself.'" At first he worked at portrait-painting, but his manner was too slow to please his sitters. "The wife of a wealthy burgomaster paid the penalty of possessing a fair white hand by having to sit five long days while the painter transferred it to canvas. Had his patrons come into the world for no other purpose than to serve Gerard Dou, he could not have dissipated their time with greater indifference. The cheek of his fair model would grow pale with hunger and fatigue while he was rounding a pearl on her neck" (968). Afterwards Dou devoted himself to scenes of indoor genre, and herein "he spent as much time in imitating an indentation on a copper stewpan as he devoted to a dimple in the refulgent cheek of beauty. Each object he transcribes is sharp or dull, transparent or opaque, rounded or squared, as it ought to be. The texture is always given with exactness, even to the minute threads in a costly robe. He paints goblets of wine which would tempt an ascetic. His gentlemen smoke such delicately moulded clay pipes with so much serenity that smoking in his pictures is invested with all the grace of an accomplish[Pg 194]ment. He carried his neatness and love of order into his studio. Other painters were content to sit at an easel of plain deal—Gerard Dou must have one of ebony, inlaid with mother-of-pearl. He locked up his colours in a costly cabinet as if they had been rubies, emeralds, and brilliants of the first water. On arriving in front of his easel, he is said to have paused for a few moments to allow the dust to settle before he uncovered the picture" (Merritt's Art Criticism and Romance, i. 170). The German painter Sandrart relates that he once visited Dou's studio and admired the great care bestowed by the artist on the painting of a broomstick. Dou remarked that he would still have to work at it for three days more. The history of his pictures is a remarkable instance of industry rewarded. In his lifetime an amateur of the name of Spiering used to pay him one thousand florins a year—in itself a good income—for the mere privilege of having the first offer of his pictures; and since his death their value has steadily increased. Of his life, beyond what has been stated above, little is known. He was the son of a glazier at Leyden, and was apprenticed successively to an engraver and a glass-painter. At the age of fifteen he entered the studio of Rembrandt, with whom he remained three years. He lived nearly all his life in his native town. Among his pupils were Schalcken (199), Mieris (840), and Metsu (838).

This fine portrait is painted (says Sir Edward Poynter) in a style unusually large and free for the master.

193. LOT AND HIS DAUGHTERS LEAVING SODOM.

Guido (Eclectic-Bologna: 1575-1642). See 11.

This and the companion picture (196) are interesting as being two of the nation's conspicuously bad bargains. The purchase of them at very high prices, £1680 and £1260, was indeed one of the grievances that led to the Select Committee of the House of Commons, 1853, and to the subsequent reconstitution of the Gallery. "Expert" witnesses declared before the Committee that these two pictures ought not to have been bought at any price or even accepted as a gift. Ruskin had some time previously written to the Times about them as follows:—

"Sir, if the canvases of Guido, lately introduced into the Gallery, had been good works of even that bad master, which they are not,—if they had been genuine and untouched works, even though feeble, which they are not,—if, though false and retouched remnants of a feeble and fallen school, they had been endurably decent or elementarily instructive,—some conceivable excuse might perhaps have been by[Pg 195] ingenuity forged, and by impudence uttered, for their introduction into a gallery where we previously possessed two good Guidos (11 and 177) ... but now, sir, what vestige of an apology remains for the cumbering our walls with pictures that have no single virtue, no colour, no drawing, no character, no history, no thought?" (Arrows of the Chace, i. 64, 65).

194. THE JUDGMENT OF PARIS.

Rubens (Flemish: 1577-1640). See 38.

At the wedding of Thetis and Peleus an apple was thrown amongst the guests by the Goddess of Discord, to be given to the most beautiful. Paris, the Trojan shepherd, was ordered by Jupiter to decide the contest. He is here seated with Mercury, the messenger of the gods, at his side, about to award the apple to Venus. On the right of Venus is Juno with her peacock at her feet; on the left, Minerva, with her owl perched behind her. Paris thus chose Pleasure, instead of Power or Wisdom; and from his choice came, the story adds, all the troubling of domestic peace involved in the Trojan War. The Goddess of Discord, already assured of her victory and its consequences, hovers in the clouds above, spreading fire and pestilence.

This picture—one of Rubens's masterpieces and "evidently entirely the work of his own hand"—belongs to his latest period; "never did he show his intense appreciation of the beauty of flesh and the delights of colour more conspicuously than in the pictures of his old age." Characteristic also is the painter's treatment of the subject. The goddesses are as substantial as any figures of flesh and blood; the picture is realistic, not symbolic. An exactly opposite method of treatment was exemplified in Mr. Watt's "Judgment of Paris," exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1887. Paris was left out, for does not every lover have the same choice to make for himself? and the goddesses were soft visionary forms of purely ideal beauty (cf. Modern Painters, vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. viii. § 7).

195. A MEDICAL PROFESSOR.

Unknown (German School).

The interest of this picture lies in the history of its purchase. It was bought by the trustees in 1845, on the advice of the[Pg 196] then Keeper, as a Holbein. "The veriest tyro might well have been ashamed of such a purchase" (Arrows of the Chace, i. 65); and very much ashamed the trustees were, when immediately after the purchase the hoax was discovered. There and then they subscribed £100 between them, which they offered to M. Rochard, the dealer, "to induce him to annul the bargain, but he declined, and there was an end of it."[108]

196. SUSANNAH AND THE ELDERS.

Guido Reni (Eclectic-Bologna: 1575-1642). See 11.

"A work devoid alike of art and decency" (Modern Painters, vol. ii. pt. iii. sec. i. ch. xiv. § 24). For the circumstances of its acquisition see above under 193.

197. A WILD BOAR HUNT.

Velazquez (Spanish: 1599-1660).

Don Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez was born at Seville of well-to-do parents—his father's name being Silva, his mother's Velazquez. His talent for drawing quickly showed itself, and when only twenty he married Juana, the daughter of his second master, Pacheco (his first being another painter of Seville, Herrera). Pacheco's house, says one of the Spanish historians, was "the golden prison of painting," and it was here that Velazquez met Cervantes, and obtained his first introduction to the brilliant circle in which he was himself to shine. In Pacheco's company he went in 1622 to Madrid, where he had influential friends, and next year he was invited to return by Olivares, the king's great minister. Olivares persuaded the king to sit to Velazquez for his portrait. The portrait was a complete success, and the painter stepped at once into fame and favour. This immediate success is characteristic of his extraordinary facility. "Just think," says Ruskin, "what is implied when a man of the enormous power and facility that Reynolds had, says he was 'trying to do with great labour' what Velazquez 'did at once.'" Velazquez shows indeed "the highest reach of technical perfection yet attained in art; all effort and labour seeming to cease in the radiant peace and simplicity of consummate human power"[109][Pg 197] (Two Paths, § 68; Fors Clavigera, 1876, p. 188). From the time of this first portrait of Philip IV. onwards, the life of Velazquez was one long triumph. He was not only the favourite but the friend of the king. He was made in succession painter to the king, keeper of the wardrobe, usher of the royal chamber, and chamberlain, and offices were also found for his friends and relations. He lived in the king's palace on terms of close intimacy, painting the king and his family in innumerable attitudes, and accompanying him on his royal progresses. When our Charles I., then Prince of Wales, visited Madrid in 1623, Velazquez painted his portrait, and figured in all the royal fêtes held in the English prince's honour. The Duke of Buckingham, it would seem, was also his friend, and Velazquez saw much too of Rubens, when the latter came on his diplomatic mission to Madrid. Rubens advised Velazquez to visit Italy, and in 1630 the king gave his consent. He travelled with recommendations from the king, and wherever he went—Venice, Ferrara, Rome, Naples—he was received with all the honours accorded to princes. His second visit to Italy was in 1648, when the king sent him to buy pictures with the view of forming a Spanish Academy. At Rome he painted the portrait of the Pope (Innocent X.), which made so great a mark that it was carried in triumphal procession, like Cimabue's picture of old. His royal master, however, became impatient for his return, and he hurried back to Madrid, after giving commissions to all the leading artists then at Rome. On his return he was given fresh honours and offices—especially that of Marshal of the Court, whose duty it was to superintend the personal lodgment of the king during excursions. It was the duties of this office which were the immediate cause of his death. He accompanied the king to the conference at Irun—on the "Island of the Pheasants"—which led to the marriage of Louis XIV. with the Infanta Maria Teresa. There is a picture of him at Versailles by the French artist Lebrun, which was painted on this occasion. The portrait, sombre and cadaverous-looking, was no doubt true to life; and when Velazquez returned to Madrid, it was found that his exertions in arranging the royal journey had sown the seeds of a fever, from which after a week's illness he died. Seven days later his wife died of grief, and was buried at his side.

Though Velazquez spent all his life, as we have seen, amongst the great ones of the earth, no trace of vanity or meanness is discernible in his character. Ruskin (The Two Paths, §§ 62, 65) connects his sweetness of disposition with the truthfulness which was characteristic of his art. "The art which is especially dedicated to natural fact always indicates a peculiar gentleness and tenderness of mind, and all great and successful work of that kind will assuredly be the production of thoughtful, sensitive, earnest, kind men, large in their views of life, and full of various intellectual power ... (One instance is Reynolds). The other painter whom I would give you as an instance of this gentleness is a man of another nation, on the[Pg 198] whole I suppose one of the most cruel civilised nations in the world,—the Spaniards. They produced but one great painter, only one; but he among the very greatest of painters, Velazquez. You would not suppose, from looking at Velazquez's portraits generally, that he was an especially kind or good man; you perceive a peculiar sternness about them; for they were as true as steel, and the persons whom he had to paint being not generally kind or good people, they were stern in expression, and Velazquez gave the sternness; but he had precisely the same intense perception of truth, the same marvellous instinct for the rendering of all natural soul and all natural form that our Reynolds had. Let me, then, read you his character as it is given by Mr. Stirling (afterwards Sir W. Stirling-Maxwell): 'Certain charges, of what nature we are not informed, brought against him after his death, made it necessary for his executor to refute them at a private audience granted to him by the king for that purpose. After listening to the defence of his friend, Philip immediately made answer, "I can believe all you say of the excellent disposition of Diego Velazquez." Having lived for half his life in courts, he was yet capable both of gratitude and generosity.... No mean jealousy ever influenced his conduct to his brother artists; he could afford not only to acknowledge the merits, but to forgive the malice of his rivals. His character was of that rare and happy kind, in which high intellectual power is combined with indomitable strength of will, and a winning sweetness of temper.'" Nothing shows his character better than his treatment of Murillo, who came to Madrid, an unfriended youth, in 1640. Velazquez received him to his house, gave directions for his admission to all the galleries and for permission to copy, presented him to the king, procured him commissions, and offered him facilities for making the journey to Rome.

The chief characteristics of Velazquez's art have been already incidentally alluded to. "Rejecting all influences," says Sir Frederick Burton, "alike native and foreign, and following nature alone, he succeeded in imitating the true appearances of things as seen through the atmosphere that surrounds them, with a fidelity that has never been matched. Whatever he undertook to paint, whether the human face and figure, other animals, or landscape scenery, the result in his hands was a presentment intensely individualised, and yet, at the same time, suggestive of the type." Some modern writers claim the work of Velazquez as "impressionism"—a much abused and a very ill-defined term. Certainly Velazquez, like every other great artist, painted his impressions. But his sheet-anchor was fidelity to fact; and as for his technique, it was only by constant observation and practice that he attained that lightness of hand, that felicity of touch, by which his later work is characterised. For a painting of the master's earliest period, see 1375. The truthfulness of Velazquez had its reward, says Ruskin, in making him distinguished also amongst all Spanish painters by the sparkling purity of his colour. "Colour[Pg 199] is, more than all elements of art, the reward of veracity of purpose.... In giving an account of anything for its own sake, the most important points are those of form. Nevertheless, the form of the object is its own attribute; special, not shared with other things. An error in giving an account of it does not necessarily involve wider error. But its colour is partly its own, partly shared with other things round it. The hue and power of all broad sunlight is involved in the colour it has cast upon this single thing; to falsify that colour, is to misrepresent and break the harmony of the day: also, by what colour it bears, this single object is altering hues all round it; reflecting its own into them, displaying them by opposition, softening them by repetition; one falsehood in colour in one place, implies a thousand in the neighbourhood.... Hence the apparent anomaly that the only schools of colour are the schools of Realism.... Velazquez, the greatest colourist, is the most accurate portrait painter of Spain" (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. xi. § 8 n.).[110] It is curious that the influence of Velazquez was in his own time and country comparatively circumscribed. He exercised no such overpowering attraction as that of Leonardo, or Raphael, or Michael Angelo. The real followers of Velazquez are painters of our own day, and more especially the French painters of the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and their imitators in the other schools of Europe and America.

A very interesting picture, both for the sparkling brilliancy of its execution and for the truth with which it reproduces the court life of the time. Philip IV. was as fond of the chase as he was of the arts; and here we see some state hunting-party in a royal enclosure (such as was arranged, no doubt, for the pleasure of our Charles I. when he visited Madrid), with an array of huntsmen and guards, and magnificent carriages for the ladies of the court. "The king has just thrown his horquilla [a kind of pitchfork] into the flank of a boar tearing furiously by.... Here the heroes of the day are [Pg 200]very slightly sketched, but we at once recognise Philip IV. from the few touches suggesting his face; he keeps to the right, owing to the proximity of the ladies, and by him stands Olivares as equerry-in-chief.... In the second carriage is Queen Isabella. Occasionally the boars made tremendous leaps; hence the ladies are also provided with pitchforks to turn them aside. Moreover, two huntsmen with spears keep watch by the Queen's coach. The groups of spectators deserve minute study. They contain studies of costume and character enough for a scrap-book of "Castilian Types of the Seventeenth Century." Thus, notice under the tree on the right a peasant resting with elbows and chest on the patient back of his beloved ass—verily, another Sancho Panza! And those two rogues on the grass, one holding the water-jug to his mouth, look like a sketch by Murillo. The mendicant, again, in the brown cloak, both hands resting on his stick, is surely a privileged speculator, who solemnly invites the rich folk to increase their stock in the next world by entrusting their investments to him. Elsewhere is a rider slashing at the hard flanks of his obstinate mule, while his escudero shoves from behind; two cavaliers paying each other formal compliments; a group of experts in "dog-flesh" near the master of the hounds, thronging round the fine boar-hound, who has been ripped up by the quarry. Notice, too, the isolated group of cavaliers in grey and scarlet cloaks, with the clergyman, perhaps the "chaplain to the hunt." They stand apart from the scene, having more weighty matters on hand." "The figures do not seem very numerous, as they are scattered about without a trace of conventional grouping. Yet, even without the heads that are merely suggested, there are over a hundred figures, some sixty outside and fifty inside the central enclosure. Sir Edwin Landseer declared that he had never seen so much large art on so small a scale" (Justi's Velazquez and his Times, pp. 212-14). Notice especially the two splendid dogs near the left-hand corner. Velazquez is very great in painting dogs; he "has made some of them nearly as grand as his surly kings" (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. vi. § 13).

With regard to the execution of the picture (which was bought in 1846 and was alleged to have been damaged in cleaning), Ruskin wrote: "I have seldom met with an example of the master which gave me more delight, or which I believed to be in more genuine or perfect condition....[Pg 201] (The critic's) complaint of loss of substance in the figures of the foreground is, I have no doubt, altogether groundless. He has seen little southern scenery if he supposes that the brilliancy and apparent nearness of the silver clouds is in the slightest degree overcharged; and shows little appreciation of Velazquez in supposing him to have sacrificed the solemnity and might of such a distance to the inferior interest of the figures in the foreground.... The position of the horizon suggests, and the lateral extent of the foreground proves, such a distance between the spectator and even its nearest figures as may well justify the slightness of their execution. Even granting that some of the upper glazings of the figures had been removed, the tone of the whole picture is so light, grey, and glittering, and the dependence on the power of its whites so absolute, that I think the process hardly to be regretted which has left these in lustre so precious, and restored to a brilliancy which a comparison with any modern work of similar aim would render apparently supernatural, the sparkling motion of its figures and the serene snow of its sky"[111] (Arrows of the Chace, i. 58-60).

[Pg 202]

198. THE TEMPTATION OF ST. ANTHONY.

Annibale Carracci (Eclectic-Bologna: 1560-1609). See 9.

The legend of the temptation of St. Anthony, here realistically set forth, is the story of the temptations that beset the ascetic. In the wilderness, brooding over sin, he is tempted; it is only when he returns to the world and goes about doing good that the temptations cease to trouble him. St. Anthony lived, like Faust, the life of a recluse and a visionary, and like him was tempted of the devil. "Seeing that wicked suggestions availed not, Satan raised up in his sight (again like Mephistopheles in Faust) the sensible images of forbidden things. He clothed his demons in human forms; they hovered round him in the shape of beautiful women, who, with the softest blandishments, allured him to sin." The saint in his distress resolved to flee yet farther from the world; but it is not so that evil can be conquered, and still "spirits in hideous forms pressed round him in crowds, scourged him and tore him with their talons—all shapes of horror, 'worse than fancy ever feigned or fear conceived,' came roaring, howling, hissing, shrieking in his ears." In the midst of all this terror a vision of help from on high shone upon him; the evil phantoms vanished, and he arose unhurt and strong to endure. But it is characteristic of the love of horror in the Bolognese School that in Carracci's picture the celestial vision does not dissolve the terrors.

199. LESBIA AND HER SPARROW.

Godfried Schalcken (Dutch: 1643-1706).

Schalcken was probably a pupil of Gerard Dou (see 192), whose delicate finish he sought to rival. "But the smooth, polished surface[Pg 203] of his works is unpleasant, and the labour bestowed upon them is too obvious" (Burton). He spent the greater part of his life at Dort, but he was employed for some time in England by King William III. In addition to his genre pieces, Schalcken painted numerous portraits, and also attempted sacred subjects. He especially excelled in pictures of candle-light.

A picture in illustration of a Latin poem, as befits a painter whose father was headmaster of a Latin school (at Dort). Lesbia is weighing jewels against her sparrow, which she loved better even than her own eyes—

Mourn, every Venus, every Love! Gallants gay, mourn every one! My darling had a favourite dove, That she did prize As her own eyes— Her dove is dead and gone.
G. R., from Catullus, iii.

200. THE MADONNA IN PRAYER.

Sassoferrato (Eclectic: 1605-1685).

Giovanni Battista Salvi, called Sassoferrato from his birthplace, not far from Urbino, is generally described as a follower of the Carracci, but he seems to have been chiefly a copyist of Raphael, Perugino, and other early masters. Compare Sassoferrato's Madonnas with the earlier models, and the distinction between sentimentality and sentiment becomes plain. His works are, however, marked by real feeling, and he maintained a certain elevation of style.

202. DOMESTIC POULTRY

Melchior de Hondecoeter (Dutch: 1636-1695).

This painter, a member of a noble family of Brabant, devoted himself to the poultry-yard, and became famous for his pictures of fowl and other birds. His compositions show a constant study of the subjects he treats. He studied first under his father, Gysbert de Hondecoeter, and afterwards under his uncle, Jan Baptist Weenix (1096).

"A beautiful brood of young chickens in the foreground. The cock was Hondecoeter's favourite bird, which he is said to have taught to stand to him in a fixed position as a model." (Official Catalogue).

[Pg 204]

203. CONVENTUAL CHARITY.

William van Herp (Flemish: 1614-1677).

Works by W. Van Herp, a member of the Painters' Guild at Antwerp, are not numerous. They show the influence of Rubens and also of Jordaens, the two leaders of the Flemish School at his time.

Franciscan friars are distributing food to the poor at the gate of a convent.

204. DUTCH SHIPPING.

Bakhuizen (Dutch: 1631-1708).

Ludolf Bakhuizen comes second in the succession of Dutch sea painters to W. van de Velde, and the reader is referred to the remarks on that painter (see under 149) for the general characteristics of them both. Whereas, however, Van de Velde preferred calms, Bakhuizen preferred storms, and even "voluntarily exposed his life several times," says a compatriot, "for the sake of seizing, in all its horrible reality, the effects of rough weather" (Havard: The Dutch School, p. 255). It cannot be said, however, that the result was very successful. There is, adds the same critic, a hardness about his forms and a want of transparency in his colours "which cannot be counterbalanced by the fury of upheaved waves or the furious driving of the heavy clouds across the sky." Bakhuizen, before he took to painting, was successively a book-keeper (his father was town-clerk of Emden) and a writing-master. Perhaps it is to his experience in the latter capacity that the hardness and "peruke-like" regularity of his waves are due. In his own day, however, his sea-pieces were very greatly esteemed. The King of Prussia was among his patrons, and the Tzar, Peter the Great, frequently visited his studios, and even himself took lessons of him. He made many constructive drawings of ships for that monarch. He was also an etcher, and the British Museum possesses a fragment of a sketch-book of his.

205. ITINERANT MUSICIANS.

J. W. E. Dietrich (German: 1712-1774).

Johann Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich was born at Weimar, where his father was court-painter. So precocious was his talent that when only in his eighteenth year he was himself appointed court-painter to Augustus II., King of Poland and Elector of Saxony. In 1743 he went to Italy, and after this visit he turned his name into Italian by signing it Dietrici (as in the picture dated 1745). He was afterwards appointed keeper of the celebrated Gallery at Dresden, a Professor of the[Pg 205] Academy there, and Director of the school of painting attached to the porcelain manufactory. His pictures and etchings are numerous. In his original work his style remained German. But he had also a remarkable facility in imitating the works of other painters. "He did more," says Merritt, the picture-restorer, "to confound collectors than all other imitators put together. Hundreds of his imitations of the various masters have been sold to second-rate amateurs for original productions" (Art Criticism and Romance, i. 164).

206. THE HEAD OF A GIRL.

Jean Baptiste Greuze (French: 1725-1805).

To understand the great reputation which Greuze enjoyed in his day one should remember, besides the prettiness of his pictures in themselves, the contrast which they afforded in their subject-matter to the art around them. Look, for instance, at 1090 and 101-104. Those pictures are nearly contemporary with Greuze's, and are typical, the first of the mythology, the latter of the courtliness, and all of the sensuality, of the current art of the time. The return to nature, the return to simpler life and sounder morals, which inspired Rousseau, found expression in Greuze's domestic scenes and sweet girl faces. "Courage, my good Greuze," said Diderot of one of Greuze's pictures of domestic drama; "introduce morality into painting. What, has not the pencil been long enough and too long consecrated to debauchery and vice? Ought we not to be delighted at seeing it at last unite with dramatic poetry in instructing us, correcting us, inviting us to virtue?"[112] Greuze's art, in comparison with what was around it, was thus simple, natural, moral. Yet one sees now that something of the artificiality, against which his pictures were a protest, nevertheless affected them. For instance there is an obvious posing in this picture, just as there is a touch of affectation in 1154. Decidedly, too, Greuze "invests his lessons of bourgeois morality with sensuous attractions." There is neither the innocence nor the unconsciousness in the girls of Greuze that there is in those of Reynolds or Millais.

The life of Greuze is interesting for the curious instance it affords of the inability, which so many eminent men have shown, to know in what direction their best powers lay. Greuze's reputation rested on his genre painting—on his rendering of domestic scenes or faces; [Pg 206]but his ambition was to figure as an historical painter. His one picture in this style—"Severus and Caracalla" (in the Louvre)—was painted in 1769 as his diploma work for the French Academy. They praised him for "his former productions, which were excellent," and not for "this one, which was unworthy alike of them and of him," and admitted him as a painter in the class of genre only. Greuze, who was vain and overbearing in the days of his vogue, was greatly incensed and ceased to exhibit at the Academy until after the Revolution. But his power had then begun to fail; the classic school reigned supreme; and Greuze, who had been unhappily married, and whose large earnings were squandered by extravagance and bad management, died in great poverty. He was born in Burgundy, of humble middle-class parents, in the little town of Tournus, where his modest birthplace may still be seen. His happiest productions were taken from the daily life of the middle-classes, and his sweet girl faces are unique in French art (Lady Dilke's article in the Encyclopædia Britannica, and Morley's Diderot, vol. ii. chap. iii.).

Campbell's "Lines on a picture of a girl by Greuze" may be quoted of this picture:—

What wert thou, maid?—thy life—thy name Oblivion hides in mystery; Though from thy face my heart could frame A long romantic history.
Transported to thy time I seem, Though dust thy coffin covers— And hear the songs, in fancy's dream, Of thy devoted lovers.
How witching must have been thy breath— How sweet the living charmer— Whose every semblance after death Can make the heart grow warmer!

207. THE IDLE SERVANT.

Nicolas Maes (Dutch: 1632-1693). See 153.

In the background is the family at dinner. The waiting-maid comes to the kitchen to serve the next course—the duckling, perhaps, which a cat is stealing—and finds the cook of Sancho Panza's philosophy: "Blessings on him who invented sleep, ... the food that appeases hunger, the drink that quenches thirst, ... the balance that equals the simple with the wise." Signed and dated 1655.

[Pg 207]

208. THE FINDING OF MOSES.

Bartholomew Breenbergh (Dutch: 1599-1659).

Breenbergh, after visiting Italy, established himself in France, where, after the example of Poussin and Claude, he painted "classical landscapes," into which he introduced small figures, supposed to represent scenes from Holy Writ, etc. His work was in great request in France, and several of his pictures are now in the Louvre.

209. THE JUDGMENT OF PARIS.

Both and Poelenburgh (Dutch). See under 71 and 955.

The landscape by Both, the figures by Poelenburgh. For the subject of the judgment of Paris, see under 194.

210. VENICE: THE PIAZZA DI SAN MARCO.

Francesco Guardi (Venetian: 1712-1793).

Francesco Guardi was a scholar and imitator of Canaletto. "Less prized during the heyday of his master's fame, he has been steadily acquiring reputation on account of certain qualities peculiar to himself. His draughtsmanship displays an agreeable stateliness; his colouring a graceful gemmy brightness and a glow of sunny gold. But what has mainly served to win for Guardi popularity, is the attention he paid to contemporary costume and manners. Canaletto filled large canvases with mathematical perspectives of city and water. At the same time he omitted life and incident. There is little to remind us that the Venice he so laboriously depicted was the Venice of perukes and bagwigs, of masks and hoops and carnival disguises. Guardi had an eye for local colour and for fashionable humours" (J. A. Symonds, "Pietro Longhi," in the Century Guild Hobby Horse, April 1889).

Notice the effect of light on the Church of St. Mark at the end of the square: "Beyond those troops of ordered arches there rises a vision out of the earth, and all the great square seems to have opened from it in a kind of awe, that we may see it far away;—a multitude of pillars and white domes, clustered into a long low pyramid of coloured light" (Stones of Venice, vol. ii. ch. iv. § 14).

211. A BATTLE-PIECE.

Johan van Huchtenburgh (Dutch: 1646-1733).

Huchtenburgh was in great request as a battle-painter, and in 1708 was commissioned by Prince Eugene to paint the victories won by that prince and the Duke of Marlborough over the French.

[Pg 208]

212. A MERCHANT AND HIS CLERK.

Thomas de Keyser (Dutch: 1596-1667).

This painter—the son of an eminent sculptor and architect—was born at Amsterdam, and was one of the chief forerunners of Rembrandt in the art of portrait painting. "If," says Burton, "in some of his work remains of the formality and stiffness of the sixteenth century may be traced, the greater number show a freedom and a sense of life unusual among those of his predecessors."

This picture—which is signed (on the mantelpiece) and dated 1627—is interesting as showing us, in a particular instance, the condition of social and political life out of which the Dutch art of the seventeenth century arose. The merchant has his globes before him: he was one of those who had built up the riches of his country by foreign trade. But he is a man of taste as well as of business, and the two things are closely united.[113] His office is itself hung with rich tapestry, and amongst the implements of his trade, his plans and books and maps, is a guitar. "The United Provinces, grouped together by the Convention of Utrecht (1579), ... concentrated the public functions in the hands of an aristocratic middle class (such as we see them in Terburg's historical picture, 896), educated and powerful, eager for science and riches, bold enough to undertake everything, and persevering enough to carry their enterprises to a successful conclusion. The brilliant heroism, implacable will, and indefatigable perseverance which had aided the people to recover their liberty and autonomy were now directed to other objects.... Their shipbuilders covered the seas with vessels, a legion of adventurous sailors went forth in all directions to discover distant shores or to conquer unknown continents.... Gold was now to be found in plenty in the country which hitherto had been poor, and with the influx of riches, taste, luxury, appreciation of the beautiful and love of Art were developed" (Havard: The Dutch School, p. 62).

[Pg 209]

213. THE VISION OF A KNIGHT.

Raphael (Urbino: 1483-1520). See 1171.

This picture—with the original pen-and-ink drawing from which it was traced[114]—is the earliest known work of Raphael, painted when he was not more than seventeen and was "pluming his wings and meditating a flight." His first (or as it is commonly called, "Perugian") period may be divided into two: (1) Down to about 1500, before he went to Perugia, and whilst he was still studying at Urbino under Timoteo Viti; (2) From 1500-1504, at Perugia. This picture probably belongs to the former of these periods. It is unlike Perugino in several respects—in the landscape, for instance, and in the broad hand of the sleeping knight, whereas Perugino's hands are narrower and longer. In connection, too, with Raphael's early pupilage under a Ferrarese master, note that the figure of Duty is like Francia's saint in No. 638 (see further on this subject Morelli's Italian Pictures in German Galleries, pp. 285-340). The picture, which was at one time in the possession of Sir Thomas Lawrence, came to England from the Borghese Gallery at Rome. It was originally in the Ducal Palace at Urbino. "The subject breathes the very essence of that courtly and romantic atmosphere which haunted the palace of Urbino and may well have been inspired by the Duchess Elizabeth herself. This accomplished lady was the first to honour the son of her old friend Giovanni Santi with her patronage, and Raphael may have painted this little allegory for the decoration of her chamber, just as Costa and Mantegna painted their picture of Parnassus and the Muses for Isabella d'Este's grotto at Mantua" (Julia Cartwright: Early Work of Raphael, p. 12).

A young knight sleeps under a laurel—the tree whose leaves were in all ages the reward of honour; and in a dream of his future career he sees two figures approach him, between whom he has to make his choice. The one on the left speaks with the voice of Duty; she is purple-robed and offers him a book and a sword—emblematic of the active life of study and conflict. The other is of fair countenance and is gaily decked with ribbons and strings of coral. Hers is the voice of Plea[Pg 210]sure, and the flower she offers is a sprig of myrtle in bloom—"myrtle dear to Venus." Raphael was thinking, perhaps, of the Greek story which told of the choice of Hercules. For Hercules, when he came to man's estate, laid him down to rest and pondered which road in life to take; and lo! there stood by him two women. And one of them took up her parable and said: "O Hercules, if thou wouldst choose the smoothest and the pleasantest path, then shouldst thou follow me." And Hercules said: "O lady, I pray thee tell me thy name." And she answered: "Those who love me call me Pleasure, and those who hate me call me Evil." Then the other woman came forward and said: "O Hercules, there is no road to happiness except through toil and trouble; such is the gods' decree, and if thou wouldst be happy in thy life and honoured in thy death, then up and follow me." And her name was Duty. And Hercules chose the better part, and went about the world redressing human wrong, and was reverenced by men and honoured by the gods—

Choose well; your choice is Brief, and yet endless. Here eyes do regard you In Eternity's stillness; Here is all fulness, Ye brave, to reward you. Work, and despair not!
Goethe, tr. by Carlyle (Past and Present).

214. CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN.

Guido (Eclectic-Bologna: 1575-1642). See 11.

In pictures of this subject two distinct conceptions may be noticed. In some the coronation of the Virgin is, as it were, dramatic; the subject is represented, that is to say, as the closing act in the life of the Virgin, and saints and disciples appear in the foreground as witnesses on earth of her coronation in heaven. No. 1155 is a good instance of that treatment. This picture, on the other hand, shows the mystical treatment of the subject—the coronation of the Virgin being the accepted type of the Church triumphant. The scene is laid entirely in heaven, and the only actors are the angels of the heavenly host. Notice the carefully symmetrical arrange[Pg 211]ment of the whole composition, as well as the charming faces of many of the angel chorus.

215, 216. VARIOUS SAINTS.[115]

School of Taddeo Gaddi (Florentine: 1300-1366).
See also (p. xix)

Taddeo Gaddi was the godson and pupil of Giotto, with whom he lived twenty-four years, and whose tradition he faithfully carried on: art had "gone back," he used to say, "since his master's death." His most extensive works were the frescoes in the Spanish Chapel in Santa Maria Novella (described in ch. iv. of Ruskin's Mornings in Florence). Taddeo was also distinguished as an architect. "He built the Ponte Vecchio, and the old stones of it were so laid by him that they are unshaken to this day."

There is an air of settled peace, of abstract quietude, about this company of saints which is very impressive—something fixed in the attitude and features recalling the conventual life as described by St. Bernard and paraphrased by Wordsworth in his Ecclesiastical Sonnets

[Pg 212]

Here Man more purely lives, less oft doth fall, More promptly rises, walks with stricter heed, More safely rests, dies happier, is freed Earlier from cleansing fires, and gains withal A brighter crown.

218. THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI.

Ascribed to Peruzzi (Sienese: 1481-1536).

Baldassare Peruzzi, an excellent draughtsman and fair painter, was most distinguished as an architect. His life, says Sir Edward Poynter, was one which any artist might envy. "Brought up at his own wish as a painter at Siena, he soon gave evidence of such talent that he was entrusted with important commissions at Rome, making acquaintance by this means with one of the great Roman patrons of art, Agostino Chigi, the same for whom Raphael painted a chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo. Baldassare found leisure to devote himself to the study of architecture; from this time he seems to have had almost the happiest lot that one can imagine falling to an artist, that of building palaces and decorating them with his own hand" (Lectures on Art, ch. viii.). Among these were the Farnesina Palace for Agostino Chigi, and the Palazzo Massimi, which is "justly considered one of the most beautiful and ingeniously constructed in Rome." It is characteristic of the taste of the time that what Vasari most admired in Peruzzi's buildings was "the decoration of the Loggia at the Villa Farnesina, painted in perspective to imitate stucco work." "This is done so perfectly," he says, "with the colours, that even experienced artists have taken them to be works in relief. I remember that Titian, a most excellent and renowned painter, whom I conducted to see these works, could by no means be persuaded that they were painted, and remained in astonishment when, on changing his point of view, he perceived that they were so." Baldassare also designed the fortifications of Siena, and on the death of Raphael was appointed architect of St. Peter's at Rome. His life was not free from adventures. At the sack of Rome in 1527 he was plundered of all he possessed by the Imperial soldiers, and was forced to paint a picture of their general, the Constable Bourbon, who had been killed in the assault of the city. He died at Rome, not without suspicion of having been poisoned, and was buried in the Pantheon, near the tomb of Raphael.

There is a drawing by Peruzzi of this subject in possession of the National Gallery, No. 167. Girolamo da Treviso (623) made a copy of it, which is perhaps this work. The figures of the three magi are interesting as having been portraits of Titian, Raphael, and Michael Angelo.

[Pg 213]

219. THE DEAD CHRIST.

Unknown (Lombard School, 16th century).

Perhaps to be ascribed to Bazzi (see under 1144).

221. HIS OWN PORTRAIT.

Rembrandt (Dutch: 1606-1669). See 45.

Compare No. 672. That was painted when he was about thirty; this, some thirty years later. We see here the same features, though worn by age; the same self-reliant expression, though broken down by care. "In manner," says Sir Walter Armstrong, "it is amazingly free, irresponsible, and what in any one but a stupendous master we should call careless. It looks as though he had taken up the first dirty palette on which he could lay his hands, and set himself to the making of a picture with no further thought. To those who put signs of mastery above all other qualities, it is one of the most attractive pictures in the whole Gallery" (Portfolio, September 1891).

222. A MAN'S PORTRAIT (dated 1433).

Jan van Eyck (Early Flemish: about 1390-1440). See 186.
See also (p. xxi)

One of Van Eyck's obviously truthful portraits, so highly finished that the single hairs on the shaven chin are given. On the upper part of the frame is the inscription, "Als ich kan"—as I can, the first words of an old Flemish proverb, "As I can, but not as I will,"—an inscription beautifully illustrative of a great man's modesty; accurately true also as a piece of criticism. No pictures are more finished than Van Eyck's, yet they are only "as he can," not as he would. "Let all the ingenuity and all the art of the human race he brought to bear upon the attainment of the utmost possible finish, and they could not do what is done in the foot of a fly, or the film of a bubble. God alone can finish; and the more intelligent the human mind becomes, the more the infiniteness of interval is felt between human and divine work in this respect" (Modern Painters, vol. iii. pt iv. ch. ix. § 5).

223. DUTCH SHIPPING.

Bakhuizen (Dutch: 1631-1708). See 204.

[Pg 214]

224. THE TRIBUTE MONEY.

School of Titian. See under 4.

The Pharisee, hoping to entrap Jesus into sedition, asks him whether it is lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar. "Show me the tribute money" is the answer. "Whose is this image and superscription?... Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and unto God the things that are God's." Titian's great picture of this subject (painted about 1514) is at Dresden.

225. BEATIFIC VISION OF THE MAGDALEN.

Giulio Romano (Roman: 1498-1546). See 624.

A semicircular fresco (formerly in the church of the Trinita de' Monti, Rome), showing the Magdalen borne upwards by angels to witness the joys of the blessed.

226. VIRGIN AND CHILD, WITH ST. JOHN AND ANGELS.

School of Botticelli (1447-1510). See 1034.

This is a copy of a picture by Botticelli in the Rospigliosi Palace at Rome. In the background is a hedge of roses, Botticelli's favourite flower. "No man has ever yet drawn, and none is likely to draw for many a day, roses as well as Sandro has drawn them" (Fors Clavigera, 1872, xii. 2). And he painted them, just as he painted his Madonnas, from life, and from everyday life—for even as late as forty years ago, Florence was "yet encircled by a wilderness of wild rose." It should be noticed, further, that there was a constant Biblical reference in the flowers which the painters consecrated to their Madonnas—especially the rose, the emblem of love and beauty. The background in Madonna pictures is frequently, as here, a piece of garden trellis: "a garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse" (Song of Solomon, iv. 12).

227. ST. JEROME IN THE DESERT.

Florentine School (15th century).
See also (p. xix)

Kneeling below are Girolamo Rucellai and his son. The arms of the Rucellai family are at each end of the predella. The picture was[Pg 215] originally an altar-piece in the Rucellai Chapel in the church of the Eremiti di San Girolamo at Fiesole. Formerly ascribed to Cosimo Rosselli, the picture is now conjecturally attributed to Botticini (for whom see under 1126).

St. Jerome (A.D. 342-420) who first made the great Eastern book, the Bible, legible in the West, by translating the Hebrew into Latin, was one of the chief saints of the Latin or Western Church, and was a favourite subject in Christian art; there are a dozen pictures of him in the National Gallery alone. One of the chief events in his life is told in the left-hand compartment at the bottom of this picture. Jerome is tending a sick lion, and in all the pictures of him a lion appears as his constant companion. The story is that one evening a lion entered the monastery, limping as in pain, and all the brethren fled in terror, as we see one of them doing here, whilst the others are looking on safely behind a door; but Jerome went forward to meet the lion, as though he had been a guest. And the lion lifted up his paw, and Jerome, finding it was wounded by a thorn, tended the wild creature, which henceforward became his constant companion and friend. What did the Christian painters mean by their fond insistence on the constancy of the lion-friend? They meant to foretell a day "when the Fear of Man shall be laid in benediction, not enmity, on inferior beings,—when they shall not hurt or destroy in all the holy Mountain, and the Peace of the Earth shall be as far removed from its present sorrow, as the present gloriously animate universe from the nascent desert, whose deeps were the place of dragons, and its mountains, domes of fire. Of that day knoweth no man; but the Kingdom of God is already come to those who have tamed in their own hearts what was rampant of the lower nature, and have learned to cherish what is lovely and human, in the wandering children of the clouds and fields" (Bible of Amiens, ch. iii. § 54). The other compartments depict incidents in the lives of St. Damasus, St. Eusebius, St. Paula, and St. Eustache—saints associated with St. Jerome. The picture itself shows an earlier period of his life, when, before he settled in a monastery, but after a life of pleasure in Rome, he left (as he himself tells us) not only parents and kindred, but the accustomed luxuries of delicate life, and lived for ten years in the desert in the effort to obtain some closer knowledge of the Being and Will of God. The saints who are made by the painter to keep St. Jerome com[Pg 216]pany below are in sorrow; the angels above, in joy. The other kneeling figures are portraits of the patron for whom the the picture was painted.

228. CHRIST AND THE MONEY-CHANGERS.

Bassano (Venetian: 1510-1592). See 173.

Christ is driving out from the House of Prayer all those who had made it a den of thieves—money-changers, dealers in cattle, sheep, goats, birds, etc. A subject which lent itself conveniently to Bassano's characteristic genre style.

230. A FRANCISCAN MONK.

Francisco Zurbaran (Spanish: 1598-1662).

Zurbaran—the contemporary of Velazquez—unites in a typical manner the two main characteristics of the Spanish School—asceticism in subject, realism in presentment. He is, says Stirling-Maxwell, the peculiar painter of monks, as Raphael is of Madonnas, and Ribera of martyrdoms; he studied the Spanish friar, and painted him with as high a relish as Titian painted the Venetian noble, and Vandyck the gentleman of England. In the Museum of Seville are several pictures which he painted for the Carthusians of that city. "The venerable friars seem portraits; each differs in feature from the other, yet all bear the impress of long years of solitary and silent penance; their white draperies chill the eye, as their cold hopeless faces chill the heart; and the whole scene is brought before us with a vivid fidelity, which shows that Zurbaran studied the Carthusian in his native cloisters with the like close and faithful attention that Velazquez bestowed on the courtier, strutting it in the corridors of the Alcazar or the alleys of Aranjuez" (Annals of the Artists of Spain, ch. xi.). Zurbaran was the son of a peasant, but having shown an early talent for drawing was released from the plough and sent to the studio of the painter-priest Juan de Roelas, at Seville. His abilities and his close study of nature soon gained him a high reputation; his forcible naturalistic style acquired for him the name of "the Caravaggio of Spain." He was employed in the cathedral of Seville, which remained his abode for the greater part of his life. In his picture of "St. Thomas Aquinas" in the museum there, the dark wild face, immediately behind the Imperial adorer, is traditionally held to be the portrait of Zurbaran himself. His habits were those of the recluse, but in 1650 he was, through the influence of Velazquez, called to Madrid. There he was set to a task little suited to his tastes—the production of a series of pictures (now in the Prado) to illustrate the labours of Hercules. Philip IV. used, we are told, to visit the artist whilst engaged on these pictures, and on one occasion expressed his admira[Pg 217]tion of his powers by laying his hand on his shoulder, and calling him "painter of the King, and king of the painters." "His best characteristic," says Burton, "is his power of imparting the sense of life to the heads of his figures. He was in fact a great, though not a professed, portrait painter."

It is a transcript from the religious life around him that Zurbaran here sets before us. Seville was the most orthodox city in the most Catholic country—at every corner of the streets there were Franciscan monks, with prayers or charms to sell in exchange for food or money. "For centuries in Spain country people bought up the monks' old garbs, to use them in dressing the dead, so that St. Peter might pass them into heaven thinking they were Franciscans." It was in the streets and convents of Seville therefore that Zurbaran found his models. This picture was bought for the National Gallery from the Louis Philippe sale in 1853. When the gallery of Spanish pictures to which it formerly belonged was inaugurated in the Louvre, "what remained most strongly in the Parisian mind, so impressionable and so blasé, was not the suavity of Murillo, nor the astonishing pencil of Velazquez, making the canvas speak and palpitate with life; it was a certain 'Monk in prayer' of Zurbaran, which it was impossible to forget, even if one had seen it only once" (C. Blanc, cited in W. B. Scott's Murillo, p. 55). "Of his gloomy monastic studies," says Stirling-Maxwell, "the kneeling Franciscan holding a skull is one of the ablest; the face, dimly seen beneath the brown hood, is turned to heaven; no trace of earthly expression is left on its pale features, but the wild eyes seem fixed on some dismal vision; and a single glance at the canvas imprints the figure on the memory for ever."

232. THE ADORATION OF THE SHEPHERDS.

Francisco Zurbaran (Spanish: 1598-1662). See 230.

A characteristic and fine example of the naturalistic treatment of such subjects by the Spanish School; formerly supposed to be an early work of Velazquez, now attributed by the authorities of the Gallery, following M. de Beruete, to Zurbaran.[116] The affinity of the Spanish School in this [Pg 218]respect to the Italian naturalists may be seen by a glance at No. 172 in the late Italian Room. In the distance is the guiding angel as the star of the Epiphany. It is a pretty piece of observation of child nature that makes the painter show the boy offering his animals to the infant Christ. One remembers George Eliot's "young Daniel" (in Scenes of Clerical Life), who says to Mr. Gilfil, by way of making friends, "We've got two pups, shall I show 'em yer? One's got white spots." Zurbaran was noted for his successful delineation of animals. Palomino mentions with approbation his picture of an enraged dog from which chance observers used to run away, and of a yearling lamb, deemed by the possessor of more value than a hecatomb of full-grown sheep.

234. A WARRIOR ADORING THE INFANT CHRIST.

Catena (Venetian: died 1531).

Of Vincenzo di Biagio, commonly called Catena (possibly from a partiality for jewellery), little is known, and until recently little was heard. Modern critics have, however, decided that he was one of the ablest of the School of Bellini, and have attributed to him many beautiful works, which have hitherto borne famous names.[117] He was born at Treviso; his first master was probably the elder Girolamo da Treviso, but he must have finished his artistic education in the School of Bellini. Signed pictures from his hand are to be found in several of the Venetian churches and elsewhere. He was fond of introducing a partridge (as here and in 694) and a white poodle dog (as here) into his pictures, by which they may often be recognised. An altar-piece, [Pg 219]representing S. Cristina in the church of S. Maria Mater Domini, and another of S. Giustina in S. Simpliciana are referred to as offering marked analogies with the work now before us. A letter is extant, dated April 11, 1520, when Raphael was just deceased and Michelangelo infirm, in which Catena is recommended to be on his guard, "since danger seems to be impending over all very excellent painters." He was famous for his portraits; the portrait of Count Raimund Fugger, specially praised by Vasari, is now at Berlin. He died in 1531, in which year he made a will leaving legacies to a number of poor painters, and the greater part of his substance to the Guild of his art. In his later works the influence of Giorgione is strongly marked—as here in the rich full colour of the Kneeling Knight, and in other respects. "Giorgione," says Mr. Berenson, "created a demand which other painters were forced to supply. One of them, turning toward the new in a way that is full of singular charm, gave his later works all the beauty and softness of the first spring days in Italy. Upon hearing the title of one of Catena's works in the National Gallery, A Warrior Adoring the Infant Christ, who could imagine what a treat the picture itself had in store for him? It is a fragrant summer landscape enjoyed by a few quiet people, one of whom, in armour, with the glamour of the Orient about him, kneels at the Virgin's feet, while a romantic young page holds his horse's bridle. A good instance of the Giorgionesque way of treating a subject; not for the story, nor for the display of skill, nor for the obvious feeling, but for the lovely landscape, for the effects of light and colour, and for the sweetness of human relations" (The Venetian Painters of the Renaissance, p. 31).

Observe, for the technical merits of this picture, the horse-bridle: "An example of true painter's work in minor detail; unsurpassable, but not, by patience and modesty, inimitable" (Academy Notes, 1875, p. 48). As for the subject, the warrior portrayed is nameless. This is suggestive; it is not a peculiar picture, it is a type of what was the common method of Venetian portraiture. "An English gentleman, desiring his portrait, gives probably to the painter a choice of several actions, in any of which he is willing to be represented. As for instance, riding his best horse, shooting with his favourite pointer, manifesting himself in his robes of state on some great public occasion, meditating in his study, playing with his children, or visiting his tenants; in any of these or other such circumstances, he will give the artist free leave to paint him. But in one important action he would shrink even from the suggestion of being drawn. He will assuredly not let himself be painted praying. Strangely, this is the action which, of all others, a Venetian desires to be painted in. If they want a noble and complete portrait, they nearly all[Pg 220] choose to be painted on their knees" (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. iii. § 15). Notice also the little dog in the corner—"one of the little curly, short-nosed, fringy-pawed things which all Venetian ladies petted." "The dog is thus constantly introduced by the Venetians (in Madonna pictures) in order to give the fullest contrast to the highest tones of human thought and feeling.... But they saw the noble qualities of the dog too—all his patience, love, and faithfulness ...," and introduced him into their sacred pictures partly therefore in order to show that "all the lower creatures, who can love, have passed, through their love, into the guardianship and guidance of angels" (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. iii. § 21, ch. vi. § 14; Fors Clavigera, 1877, p. 31).[118]

235. THE DEAD CHRIST.

Giuseppe Ribera, called Spagnoletto (Spanish: 1598-1648).

Ribera is a leading artist amongst what are called the Naturalisti or Tenebrosi (an alternative title, curiously significant of the warped and degraded principle of the school, as if "nature" were indeed only another name for "darkness").[119] His works show remarkable force and facility; his subjects were painful. As Byron says—

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Spagnoletto tainted His brush with all the blood of all the sainted.

"It is a curious example of the perversity of the human mind," says Stirling-Maxwell, "that subjects like these should have been the chosen recreations of an eye that opened in infancy on the palms and the fair women of Valencia, and rested for half a lifetime on the splendour of the Bay of Naples." His life was like his art, being "one long contrast between splendour and misery, black shadow and shining light" (Scott). He made his way when quite a youth to Rome, where one day, as he was sketching in the streets, dressed in rags and eating crusts, he was picked up by a cardinal and taken into his household. They called him in Italy, owing to his small stature, by the name Lo Spagnoletto, the little Spaniard. But Ribera could not brook the cardinal's livery, and stole away into poverty and independence again. He especially studied the works of Caravaggio, and went afterwards to Parma to study Correggio. Then he moved to Naples, where a picture-dealer discovered his talent and gave him his daughter in marriage. A large picture of the martyrdom of St. Bartholomew, which he painted about this time, was exhibited by the dealer on the balcony of his house, and created such a furore that the Spanish Viceroy, delighted at finding the painter to be a Spaniard, loaded him with appointments and commissions. This was the making of Ribera's fortune. He soon became very wealthy—never going out but in his carriage, and with an equerry to accompany him, and so hard had he to work to keep pace with his orders that his servants were instructed at last to interrupt him when working hours were fairly over. He kept open house—entertaining Velazquez, for instance, when the latter visited Naples in 1630; but though lavish he was yet mean. Ribera, Corenzio (a Greek), and Caracciolo (a Neapolitan), formed a memorable cabal, with the object of establishing a local monopoly in the artistic profession for themselves. In this object, by means of force and fraud, they succeeded for many years. Domenichino, Annibale Carracci, and Guido Reni were all more or less victims of the cabal. The story of the conspiracy of Ribera and his allies to get the commission for painting the chapel of St. Januarius, forms one of the most curious and disgraceful chapters in the history of art, and may be read in Lanzi's History of Painting (vol. ii. in Bohn's translation). Ribera's life ended like his pictures, in darkness. His daughter was carried off by one of his great friends, Don Juan of Austria, and Ribera was so overwhelmed with grief that he left Naples and was never more heard of.[120]

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The Virgin, accompanied here by St. John and Mary Magdalen, is weeping over the dead Christ—the subject termed by the Italians a Pietà. It is instructive to compare this Spanish treatment of it with an Italian Pietà, such as Francia's No. 180. How much more ghastly is the dead Christ here! How much less tender are the ministering mourners!

236. CASTLE OF SANT' ANGELO, ROME.

Claude Joseph Vernet (French: 1714-1789).

Vernet, one of the most celebrated of French landscape and marine painters, received his inspiration and lived a large part of his life in Italy. He was born at Avignon, and in 1732 went to Italy with a view of improving himself in historical painting, but the beautiful scenery of Genoa and Naples induced him to devote himself to marine landscape. One of his Mediterranean pictures is No. 1393 in this Gallery. It is said that on his first voyage he was so impressed with the effect of a stormy sea as to have himself tied to the mast in order to be able more accurately to observe it. For some time Vernet lived in poverty. He had to paint carriages, and a picture, afterwards sold for 5000 francs, procured him only a single suit of clothes. His subjects were now the rivers, landscapes, and costumes of Rome (as in this picture). In 1752 he was invited to Paris by Louis XV. In the following year he was elected a member of the French Academy of Arts, and was commissioned by the Government to paint his celebrated pictures, now in the Louvre, of the seaports of France. This task occupied him the greater part of the year. He died in the Louvre, where he had been given apartments by the king. His last years were embittered by the madness of his wife, a daughter of the Pope's naval commandant, whom he had married in 1745. He was the grandfather of the celebrated historical painter, Horace Vernet (see 1285).

Past and present in the eternal city, as it was in Vernet's day. Behind is the castle which the Emperor Hadrian had built for his family tomb, in which were buried several of the Emperors after him, and the history of which in the Middle Ages was almost the history of Rome itself. In front is a fête on the Tiber, with a fashionable crowd in crinolines watching the boats tilting on the river.

237. A WOMAN'S PORTRAIT.

Rembrandt (Dutch: 1606-1669). See 45.

Of interest as being one of his last works: dated 1666.

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238. DEAD GAME.

Jan Weenix (Dutch: 1640-1719).

Jan Weenix, the younger, was born at Amsterdam—the son of Jan Baptista Weenix (see 1096)—and is usually considered the best of all Dutch artists in this style. For some years he was employed at the Court of John William, Elector of the Palatinate.

A stag, a couple of hares (a speciality with this artist), a heron, and a fowling-piece.

239. A MOONLIGHT SCENE.

Aart van der Neer (Dutch: 1603-1677). See 152.

A good example of "the penetrating melancholy of moonlight"—an effect in which this painter excelled.

240. CROSSING THE FORD.

Nicolas Berchem (Dutch: 1620-1683). See 78.

242. THE GAME OF BACKGAMMON.

Teniers (Flemish: 1610-1694). See 154.

"An example," says Mr. J. T. Nettleship in a comparison between Morland and some of the Dutch masters, "not only of the works that Morland loved, but of the life (alas!) he best loved too. In one respect it at once takes rank above the English painter, for every man must be a portrait; the two playing might indeed be English as well as Dutch, the man looking on is a degraded boor. In the chimney-place are several men farther off—one with his back to you is seated on a bench with his head against the chimney-jamb, a 'poor drinker,' he seems. The standing man, standing with his back to the fire, smoking a long clay, looks half-pitying, half-scornful at the feebler sinner" (George Morland, p. 23).

243. AN OLD MAN.

Rembrandt (Dutch: 1606-1669). See 45.

A noble picture of the dignity of old age (dated 1659).

244. A SHEPHERD WITH A LAMB.

Spagnoletto (Spanish: 1598-1648). See 235.

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245. PORTRAIT OF A SENATOR.

Hans Baldung (German-Swabian: 1476-1545).

This portrait is dated 1514, and signed with the monogram of Albert Dürer, to whom it was formerly ascribed. But the monogram is now said to be a forgery, and the picture is identified as the work of Dürer's friend Baldung. On the death of Dürer (in 1528) Baldung received a lock of his hair (now preserved in the Library of the Academy of Arts at Vienna), and Dürer, in his Journal in the Low Countries, records having sold several of Baldung's engravings. Baldung, painter, engraver, and designer, was a native of Gmünd in Swabia, and his earliest works show the influence of Martin Schongauer (see 658). He lived at Freiburg-in-the-Breisgau (in the monastery at which place is his greatest work, a "Coronation of the Virgin"), and also at Strassburg, of which latter city he became a senator shortly before his death. Baldung's portraits, says the Official Catalogue, "are highly individual and full of character. When unsigned they have sometimes passed for the work of Dürer, but they want his searching modelling." Baldung acquired and adopted the name of Green or Grün, either from his habit of dressing in that colour or from his fondness for a peculiarly brilliant tint of green often found in his pictures.

The influence of Dürer was strong on Hans Baldung, and a similar spirit is discernible in the works of both painters. This old man, strong and yet melancholy, is precisely true to Dürer's favourite type of human strength founded on labour and sorrow. And the choice of this type is characteristic of his mind. With the Reformation came, says Mr. Ruskin, "the Resurrection of Death. Never, since man first saw him face to face, had his terror been so great." Nothing shows the character of men of that time so clearly as the way in which they severally meet the King of Terror. "It haunted Dürer long; and the answer he gave to the question of the grave was that of patient hope; and twofold, consisting of one design in praise of Fortitude, and another in praise of Labour.... The plate of 'Melancholia' is the history of the sorrowful toil of the earth, as the 'Knight and Death' is of its sorrowful patience under temptation" (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. iv.).

246. MADONNA AND CHILD.

Girolamo del Pacchia (Sienese: 1477-1535).

Pacchia, who is often confused with his fellow-countryman Pacchiarotto, was born at Siena, being the son of a cannon-founder[Pg 225] from Croatia who had settled in that city. He first studied in his native town, but afterwards went to Florence. His works recall the style of the Florentine masters of the time. In 1500 he went to Rome, returning to Siena with an established reputation in 1508. Many of his works are to be seen in the churches and picture-gallery in that city, famous alike for its religious revivals, its artistic activity, and its civic turbulence. Pacchia, in company with Pacchiarotti, joined the revolutionary club of the Bardotti, and on its suppression in 1535 the two artists fled the city. After that date no record of Pacchia has been found.

This graceful picture resembles the style of Andrea del Sarto.

247. "ECCO HOMO!"

Matteo di Giovanni (Sienese: 1435-1495). See 1155.

"Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!" (Ecco Homo) (St. John xix. 5). In the "glory" around the head are the Latin letters signifying "Jesus Christ of Nazareth"; on the outer edge of the background, "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth" (Philippians ii. 10).

248. THE VISION OF ST. BERNARD.

Fra Filippo Lippi (Florentine: about 1406-1469). See 666.

"St. Bernard was remarkable for his devotion to the blessed Virgin; one of his most celebrated works, the Missus est, was composed in her honour as mother of the Redeemer; and in eighty sermons from the Song of Solomon he set forth her divine perfection. His health was extremely feeble; and once, when he was employed in writing his homilies, and was so ill that he could scarcely hold the pen, she graciously appeared to him, and comforted and restored him by her divine presence" (Mrs. Jameson: Legends of the Monastic Orders, p. 152). Notice the peculiar shape of the picture, the upper corners of the square being cut away. The picture was painted in 1447 (the artist receiving 40 lire, equal now perhaps to £60, for it and another work) to fit a space over the door of the Palazzo della Signoria at Florence. "Have you ever con[Pg 226]sidered, in the early history of painting, how important is the history of the frame-maker? It is a matter, I assure you, needing your very best consideration, for the frame was made before the picture. The painted window is much, but the aperture it fills was thought of before it. The fresco by Giotto is much, but the vault it adorns was planned first ... and in pointing out to you this fact, I may once for all prove to, you the essential unity of the arts" (Ariadne Florentina, §§ 59, 60).

249. THE MARRIAGE OF ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA.

Lorenzo di San Severino (Umbrian: painted 1483-1496).

This picture is signed by the artist "Laurentius the second of Severino"—to distinguish himself from the earlier Lorenzo, who was born in 1374, and who painted some frescoes at Urbino in 1416. The date of this picture is approximately fixed by the fact that Catherine is described on her nimbus as "saint," and she was not canonised till 1461; and perhaps also by the influence on Lorenzo of Crivelli (painted 1468-1493), which has been traced in the execution of the details: see for instance the cucumber and apple on the step of the throne (cf. 724, etc).

St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) is one of the most remarkable figures of the Middle Ages. She was the daughter of a dyer, brought up in the humblest of surroundings, and wholly uneducated. When only thirteen she entered the monastic life as a nun of the Dominican order (St. Dominic is here present on the right), and at once became famous in the city for her good works. She tended the sick and plague-stricken, and was a minister of mercy to the worst and meanest of her fellow-creatures. On one occasion a hardened murderer, whom priests had visited in vain, was so subdued by her tenderness that he confessed his sins, begged her to wait for him by the scaffold, and died with the names of Jesus and Catherine on his lips. In addition to her piety and zeal she succeeded as a mediator between Florence and her native city, and between Florence and the Pope; she travelled to Avignon, and there induced Gregory XI. to return to Rome; she narrowly escaped political martyrdom during one of her embassies from Gregory to the Florentine republic; she preached a crusade against the Turks, and she aided, by her[Pg 227] dying words, to keep Pope Urban on the throne. But "when she died she left behind her a memory of love more than of power, the fragrance of an unselfish and gentle life. Her place is in the heart of the humble. Her prayer is still whispered by poor children on their mother's knee, and her relics are kissed daily by the simple and devout."

The mystical marriage which forms the subject of this picture, where the infant Christ is placing the ring on her finger, suggests the secret of her power. Once when she was fasting and praying, Christ himself appeared to her, she said, and gave her his heart. For love was the keynote of her religion, and the mainspring of her life. In no merely figurative sense did she regard herself as the spouse of Christ; she dwelt upon the bliss, beyond all mortal happiness, which she enjoyed in supersensual communion with her Lord. The world has not lost its ladies of the race of St. Catherine, beautiful and pure and holy, who live lives of saintly mercy in the power of human and heavenly love. (See further, for St. Catherine of Siena, J. A. Symonds, Sketches in Italy (Siena), from which the above account is principally taken.)

250. FOUR SAINTS.

The Meister von Werden (German: 15th Century).

The Meister von Werden, or the painter of this picture and of Nos. 251 and 253, which were found in the old Abbey of Werden, near Düsseldorf, is otherwise unknown. These three pictures probably formed folding wings of an altar-piece. A fourth panel, belonging to the same series, is in the National Gallery of Scotland.

The saints in this picture are Jerome (with his lion), Benedict (in the habit of his order), Giles (with his doe), and Romuald (founder of the eremite order of the Camaldoli).

251. FOUR SAINTS.

The Meister von Werden. See under 250.

The saints in this picture are Augustine (with the heart transfixed with an arrow), Ludger (Bishop of Münster, Apostle of Saxony), Hubert (patron saint of the chase, see No. 783) and Maurice.

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252. THE CONVERSION OF ST. HUBERT.

The Meister von Werden. See under 250.

253. THE MASS OF ST. HUBERT.

The Meister von Werden. See under 250.

For St. Hubert, see under 783. Here the saint, in his canonicals, is represented bending before the altar; while an angel from heaven is, according to the legend, descending with the stole.

254-261. FRAGMENTS OF AN ALTAR-PIECE.

The Meister von Liesborn (German: about 1465).

The principal work of this master, whose name has not come down to us, was a high altar-piece for a convent church of the Benedictines at Liesborn, near Münster in Westphalia. This work was cut in pieces and sold in 1807, when the convent was suspended, and Napoleon established the modern kingdom of Westphalia. Some of the pieces were afterwards lost, some were obtained by different collectors, while others, which were acquired by Herr Krüger of Minden, were purchased in 1854 by the British Government. The sweet but feeble faces, with the gold background, recall the earliest Lower Rhine School, of which the Westphalian was an offshoot.

In 259—a Head of Christ on the Cross—we have a fragment of the centre compartment of the altar-piece.

In 260 and 261 we have the saints who stood by the side of the Cross (hence their melancholy expression). In 260 the saints are St. John, St. Benedict, and St. Scholastica (the first Benedictine nun and the sister of St. Benedict himself). In 261 the saints are Sts. Cosmas and Damian (see under 594), and the Virgin.

In 254 and 255 we have other saints: in 254, St. Ambrose (see under 50), St. Exuperius (a Bishop of Toulouse), and St. Jerome (saying, as it were, "Down, down" to his lion); in 255, St. Gregory, St. Hilary, and St. Augustine.

On either side of the central groups in the altar-piece were represented various sacred subjects. No. 256, represents the Annunciation; No. 257, the Purification of the Virgin and the Presentation of Christ in the Temple; No. 258, The Adoration of the Magi.

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262. THE CRUCIFIXION.

School of the Meister von Liesborn. See under last pictures.

In the form of a predella or decoration of the base of the altar-piece. In the centre is Christ on the Cross; on either side are four Saints; on the left St. Scholastica, Mary Magdalen, St. Anne with the Virgin in her arms, who holds the Infant Christ; and the Virgin. On the right St. John the Evangelist, St. Andrew, St. Benedict, and St. Agnes with the Lamb. In the background is a representation of Jerusalem; here depicted as a little Westphalian town.

264. A COUNT OF HAINAULT AND HIS PATRON SAINT.

Unknown (Early Flemish).

The count and the confessor. The count, attired as a monk, is praying. Behind him is his patron saint (St. Ambrose), holding a cross in one hand, a scourge in the other. More important, however, than the penitence of the count is the splendour of the robes. The picture is a good illustration of the love of jewellery characteristic of the time. "That this love of jewels was shared by the painters is sufficiently shown by the amount and beauty of the jewelled ornaments introduced by them into their pictures. Not only are brooches and clasps, sceptres and crowns, studded with precious stones, but the hems of garments are continually sewn with them, whilst gloves and shoes of state are likewise so adorned" (Conway, p. 121). This picture is by some ascribed to Gerard van der Meire (see under 1078).

265. THE VIRGIN AND CHILD.

Unknown (Flemish School: Early 16th Century).

266. THE DEPOSITION FROM THE CROSS.

Lambert Lombard (Flemish: 1505-1566).

Lambert Lombard of Liège was, says Vasari, "a distinguished man of letters, a most judicious painter, and an admirable architect." His pictures, which are scarce, are generally remarkable for correctness of drawing, but his colouring was thin and cold. Lombard, who was a[Pg 230] pupil of Mabuse (see 656), travelled as a young man in Germany and France, and visited Italy in the suite of Cardinal Pole, when he became acquainted with Vasari. On his return he opened a school at Liège.

268. THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI.

Paolo Veronese (Veronese: 1528-1588). See under 26.

A striking example of the old symbolical conception, according to which the adoration of the Magi—the tribute of the wise men from the East to the dawning star of Christianity—was represented as taking place in the ruins of an antique temple, signifying that Christianity was founded upon the ruins of Paganism. This picture was painted in 1573 for the church of San Silvestro in Venice, where it remained until 1835. It is mentioned in most of the guidebooks and descriptions of Venice. One of these published in 1792 says, in describing the church of San Silvestro: "Many are the pictures by Tintoretto, by scholars of Titian, by Palma Vecchio, etc.; but among them all the famous Adoration of the Magi by Paolo Veronese deserves especial attention." The picture has recently been covered with glass, an operation which is noteworthy on account of the great size of the pane required, 11 ft. 7 in. by 10 ft. 7 in. The pane had to be obtained in France.

269. A KNIGHT IN ARMOUR.

Giorgione (Venetian: 1477-1510).

Giorgio[121] of Castelfranco, called Giorgione, George the Great,—a name given him, according to Vasari, "because of the gifts of his person and the greatness of his mind,"—is one of the most renowned of the old masters, and exercised a deeper influence upon the artists of his time than any other painter. He was the fellow-pupil with Titian of Bellini at Venice, and after executing works at his native place was employed in Venice. Here by way of exhibiting a specimen of his ability, he decorated the front of his house with frescoes. He was afterwards employed in conjunction with Titian there to decorate the façade of the Fondaco de' Tedeschi. These paintings have been destroyed by the sea-winds.[122] But what was more [Pg 231]original in Giorgione's work was his small subject pictures. He was, says Pater, "the inventor of genre, of those easily movable pictures which serve for uses neither of devotion, nor of allegorical or historical teaching—little groups of real men and women, amid congruous furniture or landscape—morsels of actual life, conversation or music or play, refined upon or idealised, till they come to seem like glimpses of life from afar." Some of Bellini's late works are already of this kind; but they were a little too austere and sober in colour for the taste of the time. Carpaccio was full of brilliancy, fancy, and gaiety, but he painted few easel pictures. Giorgione brought to the new style all the resources of a poetical imagination, of a happy temper, and of supreme gifts as a colourist. He was, says Ruskin, one of "the seven supreme colourists."[123] The chief colour on his palette, it has been said, was sunlight. In the glowing colour with which he invested the human form "the sense of nudity is utterly lost, and there is no need nor desire of concealment any more, but his naked figures move among the trees like fiery pillars, and lie on the grass like flakes of sunshine" (Modern Painters, vol. ii. pt. iii. sec. i. ch. xiv. § 20). Giorgione, says Mr. Colvin, came to enrich Venetian painting further, with "a stronger sense of life and of the glory of the real world as distinguished from the solemn dreamland of the religious imagination. He had a power hitherto unknown of interpreting both the charm of merely human grace and distinction, and the natural joy of life in the golden sunlight among woods and meadows." Giorgione, by his originality and his exact correspondence with the spirit of the time, created a demand which other painters were forced to supply. His influence, says Morelli, is not only to be traced in the early work of Titian; it stands out broadly in the paintings of nearly all his Venetian contemporaries—Lotto, Palma, Pordenone, Bonifacio, Cariani, and many others, not to speak of his scholar, Sebastiano del Piombo. The surviving pictures which are undoubtedly by Giorgione's own hand are very few. This category hardly includes more than four,—the altar-piece at Castelfranco (see below), the so-called "Famiglia di Giorgione" (now identified as "Adrastus and Hypsipyle," in the Palazzo Giovanelli at Venice), the "Three Philosophers" (in the Belvedere at Vienna), and the lovely "Sleeping Venus," identified by Morelli, in the Dresden Gallery. Among pictures in a second and less certain category, may be mentioned the "Concert" in the Louvre (the "Venetian Pastoral" of Rossetti's sonnet), another "Concert" in the Pitti, the "Head of a Shepherd" at Hampton Court, and (more doubtfully) No. 1160 in this Gallery. The number of reputed Giorgiones is very large. His fame has been constant [Pg 232]from his own day to ours, and as every gallery desired to have a Giorgione, the wish was freely gratified by dealers and cataloguers. Modern criticism has played havoc among most of these so-called Giorgiones;[124] but the Giorgionesque spirit remains—unmistakable and distinct—in many works. Such in this Gallery are Nos. 930, 1123, and 1173, ascribed by the director to "the School of Giorgione." It is a school, as we have seen, of genre. It "employs itself mainly with painted idylls, but, in the production of this pictorial poetry, exercises a wonderful tact in the selecting of such matter as lends itself most readily and entirely to pictorial form, to complete expression by drawing and colour. For although its productions are painted poems, they belong to a sort of poetry which tells itself without an articulated story." Vasari remarked that it was difficult to give Giorgione's representations an explanatory name. As Morelli has well pointed out, the genius of Titian was wholly dramatic; Giorgione was a lyric poet, who gives us at most dramatic lyrics. A picture by Giorgione or in his style "presents us with a kind of profoundly significant and animated instant, a mere gesture, a look, a smile perhaps—some brief and wholly concrete moment—into which, however, all the motives, all the interests and effects of a long history, have condensed themselves, and which seem to absorb past and future in an intense consciousness of the present. Such ideal instants the school of Giorgione selects, with its admirable tact, from that feverish, tumultuously coloured life of the old citizens of Venice—exquisite pauses in Time, in which, arrested thus, we seem to be spectators of all the fulness of existence, and which are like some consummate extract or quintessence of life." Pictures in the Giorgionesque spirit are, as it were, "musical intervals in human existence—filled with people with intent faces listening to music, to the sound of water, to time as it flies" (Pater: "The School of Giorgione," Fortnightly Review, October 1877, reprinted in the third edition of The Renaissance). The landscapes of Giorgione have the same quality of quickened life. "Most painted landscapes leave little power to call up the actual physical sensations of the scenes themselves, but Giorgione's never fail to produce this effect; they speak directly to the sensations, making the beholder feel refreshed and soothed, as if actually reclining on the grass in the shade of the trees, with his mind free to muse on what delights it most. In so far as poetry may be compared to painting, Giorgione's feeling for landscape suggests Keats" (Mary Logan: Guide to the Italian Pictures at Hampton Court, p. 13).

[Pg 233]

Giorgione's pictures may be described as showing us golden moments of a golden age. His life, as told by Vasari and Ridolfi, corresponds with this ideal, which also was in exact accordance with the spirit of the times. Many readers will remember that it is with a mention of Giorgione that Ruskin prefaces his noble description of Venice in the days of the early Renaissance: "Born half-way between the mountains and the sea—that young George of Castelfranco—of the Brave Castle; stout George they called him, George of Georges, so goodly a boy he was—Giorgione. Have you ever thought what a world his eyes opened on—fair, searching eyes of youth? What a world of mighty life, from those mountain roots to the shore; of loveliest life, when he went down, yet so young, to the marble city, and became himself as a fiery heart to it?" (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. ix. § 1). He spent his childhood at Castelfranco, "where the last crags of the Venetian Alps break down romantically with something of a park-like grace to the plain." "Giorgione's ideal of luxuriant pastoral scenery, the country of pleasant copses, glades and brooks, amid which his personages love to wander or recline with lute and pipe, was derived, no doubt, from these natural surroundings of his childhood." Close by his birthplace is Asolo, whence the word asolare, "to disport in the open air; to amuse oneself at random" (see Browning's Asolando). Giorgione "found his way early into a circle of notable persons—people of courtesy, and became initiated into those differences of personal type, manner, and even of dress, which are best understood there. Not far from his home lived Catherine of Cornaro, formerly Queen of Cyprus, and up in the towers which still remain, Tuzio Costanzo, the famous condottiére—a picturesque remnant of mediæval manners, in a civilisation rapidly changing" (Pater). In Venice Giorgione's gracious bearing and varied accomplishments introduced him into congenial company. "He took no small delight," says Vasari, "in love-passages and in the sound of the lute, to which he was so cordially devoted, and which he practised so constantly, that he played and sang with the most exquisite perfection, insomuch that he was for this cause frequently invited to musical assemblies and festivals by the most distinguished personages." "It happened, about his thirty-fourth year, that in one of those parties at which he entertained his friends with music, he met a certain lady of whom he became greatly enamoured, and 'they rejoiced greatly,' says Vasari, 'the one and the other in their love.' And two quite different legends concerning it agree in this, that it was through this lady he came by his death; Ridolfi relating that, being robbed of her by one of his pupils, he died of grief at the double treason; Vasari, that she being secretly stricken of the plague, and he making his visits to her as usual, he took the sickness from her mortally, along with her kisses, and so briefly departed" (Pater).[125]

[Pg 234]

This little panel is a study for the figure of San Liberale, the warrior-saint, in the altar-piece by Giorgione at Castelfranco—one of his acknowledged masterpieces, and according to Ruskin one of the two best pictures in the world.[126] Notice "the bronzed, burning flesh" of the knight—"the right Giorgione colour on his brow" characteristic of a race of seamen (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. v. ch. i. § 19). This "original little study in oil, with the delicately gleaming silver-grey armour is," says Mr. Pater, "one of the greatest treasures of the National Gallery, and in it, as in some other knightly personages attributed to Giorgione, people have supposed the likeness of his own presumably gracious presence." From a MS. memorandum on the back of the Castelfranco picture, it appears, however, that the warrior was said to represent Gaston de Foix. The only difference between this study and the picture is that in the altar-piece the warrior wears his helmet, while in the picture he is bareheaded. On this ground, and owing to the high finish of our picture, some have argued that it is not an original study for the picture, but a later copy from it (see e.g. Richter's Italian Art in the National Gallery, p. 86). The argument does not seem conclusive. Do artists never make elaborate studies? and is not an artist as likely to vary his design as a copyist his model? Our picture, which was formerly in the collection of Benjamin West, P.R.A., was bequeathed to the National Gallery by Samuel Rogers.

270. "NOLI ME TANGERE!"

Titian (Venetian: 1477-1576). See 4.

A picture of the evensong of nature and of the evening of a life's tragedy. "The hues and harmonies of evening" are upon the distant hills and plain; and whilst the shadows fall upon the middle slopes, there falls too "the awful shadow of some unseen Power" upon the repentant woman who has [Pg 235]been keeping her vigil in the peaceful solitude; at the sound of her name she has turned from her weeping and fallen forward on her knees towards him whom she now knows to be her master. "The impetuosity with which she has thrown herself on her knees in shown by the fluttering drapery of her sleeve,[127] which is still buoyed up by the air; thus with a true painter's art telling the action of the previous moment" (Quarterly Review, October 1888). She stretches out her hand to touch him, but is checked by his words; as Christ, who is represented with a hoe in his hand because she had first supposed him to be the gardener, bids her forbear: "Touch me not," "noli me tangere," "for I am not yet ascended to my Father:" it is not on this side of the hills that the troubled soul can enter into the peace of forgiveness.

This beautiful picture was bequeathed to the National Gallery by Samuel Rogers. It is usually ascribed to Titian's earlier or "Giorgionesque" period. "The Magdalen is, appropriately enough, of the same type as the exquisite golden-blond courtesans—or, if you will, models—who constantly appear and re-appear in this period of Venetian art" (C. Phillips: The Earlier Work of Titian, p. 52).

271. "ECCE HOMO!"

Guido (Eclectic-Bologna: 1575-1642). See 11.

For the subject, see under 15, by Correggio. It was from Correggio that the Eclectics borrowed the type of face [Pg 236]for this subject—which was a favourite one with them; but notice how much more they dwell on the physical pain and horror, how much less on the spiritual beauty, than Correggio did.

272. AN APOSTLE.

Unknown (Italian: 16th century).

From a church near Venice. Formerly ascribed to Pordenone.

274. VIRGIN AND CHILD.

Andrea Mantegna (Paduan: 1431-1506).

Andrea Mantegna, the greatest master of the Paduan School, has a commanding name in art history, so much so that many writers describe the epoch of painting (from 1450 to 1500 and a little onwards), of which he was one of the chief representatives, as the Mantegnesque period. "No painter more remarkable for originality than Mantegna ever lived. Whoever has learned to relish this great master will never overlook a scrap by him; for while his works sometimes show a certain austerity and harshness, they have always a force and will which belong to no one else" (Layard). "Intensity may be said to be the characteristic of Mantegna as an artist. Deeply in earnest, he swerved from his purpose neither to the right nor to the left. In expressing tragic emotion, he sometimes touched a realism beyond the limits prescribed by poetic art. So, too, he never arrived at an ideal of female beauty. But he could be as tender as he was stern; and we forget the homely plainness of his Madonnas in the devoted and boding mother or the benign protectress. His children are always childlike and without self-consciousness. His drawing was remarkably correct. An occasional lengthiness in his figures adds to their dignity, and never oversteps possible nature. Drapery he treated as a means of displaying the figure. This peculiarity he derived from an almost too exclusive study of ancient sculpture. Yet so thoroughly does it accord with his whole style, that none would willingly miss a single fold which the master thought worthy of almost infinite care" (Burton). He was a tempera painter, and "excelled in harmoniously broken tones, but with little attempt at those rich and deep effects which by the practice of art his later Venetian contemporaries initiated." "He loved allegory and symbolism; but with him they clothed a living spirit." The beauty of classical bas-relief entered deep into his soul and ruled his imagination. His classical pictures are "statuesque and stately, but glow with the spirit of revived antiquity" (Symonds). He was equally distinguished as an engraver and a painter, and his plates spread his fame and influence widely abroad.

[Pg 237]

Mantegna was born at Padua,[128] and according to Vasari, was originally, like Giotto, a shepherd boy. Like Giotto, too, he early displayed great aptitude for drawing, so much that when only ten years old he was adopted by Squarcione as son and pupil. Squarcione was an indifferent painter, but must have been an able teacher, and it was from him that Mantegna imbibed his love of the antique. It was Squarcione's intention to make him his heir, but Mantegna married a daughter of Jacopo Bellini, Squarcione's rival; "and when this was told to Squarcione he was so much displeased with Andrea that they were ever afterwards enemies." Of Mantegna's association with his brother-in-law, Giovanni Bellini, the pictures numbered 726 and 1417 in this gallery are an interesting record. Mantegna soon obtained recognition. Among the most important of his early works are the frescoes of the chapel of St. James and St. Christopher in the church of the Eremitani at Padua. Copies of some of these may be seen in the Arundel Society's collection. Of about the same date is "The Agony in the Garden," No. 1417. To his early period belong also the "St. George" in the Venice Academy, and the triptych in the Uffizi. The picture now before us, the beautiful "Madonna della Vittoria," and the "Parnassus" of the Louvre belong to a maturer time. In 1466 Mantegna went, at the invitation of the Marquis Ludovico Gonzaga, to the court of Mantua, and there he remained till his death, as painter-in-ordinary at a salary of £30 a year—with the exception of two years spent in painting for Pope Innocent VIII. at Rome. Many of Mantegna's frescoes at Mantua are now obliterated; but some are preserved in the Camera degli Sposi in the Ducal Palace, and in spite of restorations, exhibit some of the master's characteristics in perfection. For the palace of St. Sebastiano at Mantua, he painted in tempera on canvas the "Triumph of Cæsar," now at Hampton Court. Although much defaced, this large composition still proclaims the genius of the master who "loved to resuscitate the ancient world, and render it to the living eye in all its detail, and with all its human interest." The sketch by Rubens in our Gallery, No. 278, was made from a portion of Mantegna's cartoons. In a similar style is the master's "Triumph of Scipio," No. 902, completed shortly before his death. At Rome (1488-1490) he decorated the chapel of the Belvedere, now demolished.

Though in the service of princes, Mantegna knew his worth, and was wont to say that "Ludovico might be proud of having in him something that no other prince in Italy could boast of." He liked, too, to live in the grand style of his age. It appears that he spent habitually more money than he could afford, and after his death his sons had to sell the pictures in his studio for the payment of his creditors. Still more was he a child of his age—the age of the revival [Pg 238]of classical learning—in his love for the antique. He spent much of his money in forming a collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, and the forced sale of its chief ornament, a bust of Faustina, is said to have broken his heart. "He was the friend of students, eagerly absorbing the knowledge brought to light by antiquarian research; and thus independently of his high value as a painter, he embodies for us in art that sincere passion for the ancient world which was the dominating intellectual impulse of his age." With Mantegna, classical antiques were not merely the foibles of a collector, but the models of his art. He was "always of opinion," says Vasari, "that good antique statues were more perfect, and displayed more beauty in the different parts, than is exhibited by nature." Of some of his works what Vasari adds is no doubt true—that they recall the idea of stone rather than of living flesh. But Mantegna studied nature closely too; for, as Goethe said of his pictures, "the study of the antique gives form, and nature adds appropriate movement and the health of life." Mantegna died at Mantua and was buried in a chapel of the Church of Sant' Andrea. The expenses incurred by him in founding and decorating this family chapel had added seriously to his embarrassments. "Over his grave was placed a bronze bust, most noble in modelling and perfect in execution. The broad forehead, with its deeply cloven furrows, the stern and piercing eyes, the large lips compressed with nervous energy, the massive nose, the strength of jaw and chin, and the superb clusters of the hair escaping from a laurel-wreath upon the royal head, are such as realise for us our notion of a Roman in the days of the republic. Mantegna's own genius has inspired this masterpiece, which tradition assigns to the medallist Sperando Maglioli. Whoever wrought it must have felt the incubation of the mighty painter's spirit, and have striven to express in bronze the character of his uncompromising art" (Symonds: The Renaissance in Italy, iii. 203). A plaster cast from this bust hangs on one of the staircases in our Gallery. Mantegna's second son, Francesco, who in his father's later years had assisted in his studio, afterwards practised independently. See Nos. 639, 1106, 1381.

"One of the choicest pictures in the National Gallery," exquisite alike in sentiment, in drawing, and in purity of colour. "Being in an admirable state of preservation, it enables us to become acquainted with all the characteristics of Mantegna's style, and above all to enjoy the refinement in his rendering of the human forms, the accuracy in his drawing, the conscientiousness in the rendering of the smallest details" (Richter). For the latter point notice especially the herbage in the foreground. Mantegna, says Mr. Ruskin, is "the greatest leaf-painter of Lombardy," and the "exquisite outlines" here show "the symmetry and precision of his design" (Catalogue of Educational Series, p. 52). The draperies also[Pg 239] are "of extraordinary beauty in design and colour. The rose-coloured dress of the Virgin is most delicately heightened with gold, and the draperies of the two saints are of materials shot with changing colours of exquisite harmonies" (Poynter). Very sweet is the expression of mingled humility and tenderness in the mother of the Divine Child. On her right stands St. John the Baptist, the great preacher of repentance; on her left Mary Magdalen, the woman who repented. The Baptist bears a cross and on the scroll attached to it are written the words (in Latin), "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world." The Magdalen carries the vase of ointment—the symbol at once of her conversion and her love ("She brought an alabaster box of ointment, and began to wash his feet with tears.... And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven"). "Mantegna combines with the most inexhaustible imagination and invention and power, which include the whole range of art, from the most playful fantasy to the profoundest and most passionate tragedy, a skill of workmanship so minutely and marvellously delicate as to defy imitation. Look at the refinement with which the drapery is drawn, the wonderful delicacy of handling with which the gold-lights are laid on, the beautiful and loving spirit which has presided over the execution of the foliage in the background, and indeed of every detail in the picture, and you will begin to have an understanding of what I mean by workmanship as such, and how an artist proceeds whose hand has been thoroughly trained, and who is truly in love with his art" (Poynter's Lectures on Art, p. 127).

275. VIRGIN AND CHILD, ST. JOHN AND AN ANGEL.

Sandro Botticelli (Florentine: 1447-1510). See 1034.

A beautiful and characteristic work.[129] "At first glance you may think the picture a mere piece of affectation. Well—yes, [Pg 240]Botticelli is affected in the way that all men of his century necessarily were. Much euphuism, much studied grace of manner, much formal assertion of scholarship, mingling with his force of imagination. And he likes twisting the fingers of hands about"—just as he likes also dancing motion and waved drapery (see 1034) (Mornings in Florence, iii. 59). The picture is characteristic also of two faculties which Botticelli acquired from his early training as a goldsmith: first, his use of gold as a means of enriching the light (as here in the Madonna's hair); and, secondly, the "incomparable invention and delicacy" with which he treated all accessory details and ornaments (as here in the scarves and dresses). But chiefly is the picture characteristic of his "sentiment of ineffable melancholy, of which it is hard to penetrate the sense, and impossible to escape the spell." It may help one in understanding the spirit of such pictures to remember that in Botticelli there met in perfect poise the tenderness of Christian feeling with the grace of the classical Renaissance. He was "a Greek reanimate. The first Greeks were distinguished from the barbarians by their simple humanity; the second Greeks—these Florentine Greeks reanimate—are human more strongly, more deeply, leaping from the Byzantine death at the call of Christ, 'Loose him, and let him go.' And there is upon them at once the joy of resurrection and the solemnity of the grave"[130] (Ariadne Florentina, § 161; and Fors Clavigera, 1872, xxii.).

[Pg 241]

276. TWO APOSTLES.

School of Giotto. See under 568.
See also (p. xix)
Here's Giotto with his Saints a-praising God, That set us praising.
Browning.

These solemn heads seem to breathe the very spirit of the master; but the history of the painting forbids the supposition that we have here the handiwork, or even the direct influence of Giotto. It is a fragment from one of the wall-paintings in the chapel of St. John the Baptist in the church of S. Maria del Carmine at Florence. The frescoes were not executed till 1350, some years after the death of Giotto. The subject of the composition to which our fragment belongs was the burial of the Baptist. The history of these frescoes is typical of that of many a vicissitude, and recalls the idea suggested in one of Browning's Dramatic Lyrics, in which the soul of the painter watches the gradual decay and dispersal of his life's work:—

Wherever a fresco peals and drops, Wherever an outline weakens and wanes Till the latest life in the painting stops, Stands One whom each fainter pulse-tick pains: One, wishful each scrap should clutch the brick, Each tinge, not wholly escape the plaster, —A lion who dies of an ass's kick, The wronged great soul of an ancient Master.

This and two portions from other paintings of the series, now in the institution at Liverpool, were saved from the fire[Pg 242] which destroyed this chapel in 1771, and became the property of Mr. Thomas Patch, the engraver. They were brought to England by Mr. Townley. This fragment was subsequently in the collection of the Right Hon. C. Greville, from whom it passed into the possession of Mr. Rogers, and at the sale of his pictures in 1856 was purchased for the National Gallery. Some other fragments are preserved in the Cappella dell' Ammannati, in the Campo Santo at Pisa, and one is in the town gallery at Pavia.

277. THE GOOD SAMARITAN.

Bassano (Venetian: 1510-1592). See 173.

The wounded Jew, who had fallen among thieves, is beneath the shadow of a great rock. The Levite is behind, engaged in sanctimonious prayer. The good Samaritan is busy in good works. He has brought out his flask and is raising the Jew to place him on his mule. The picture is of additional interest as having been a favourite with Sir Joshua Reynolds, to whom it once belonged, and who is said to have kept it always in his studio. It was afterwards in the collection of Samuel Rogers.

278. THE TRIUMPH OF JULIUS CÆSAR.

Rubens (Flemish: 1577-1640). See 38.

One of the fruits of Rubens's visit to Italy. This picture was in Rubens's possession at his death, and is described in the inventory as "Three cloathes pasted upon bord, beinge the Triumph of Julius Cæsar, after Andrew Mantegna, not full made." Mantegna's procession (somewhat similar to the Triumph of Scipio, No. 902) was painted for the Duke of Mantua, and is now at Hampton Court.

Any one who cares to see by a single illustration what "classic purity of style" means, should compare Mantegna's original with this transcript by Rubens. "The Flemish painter strives to add richness to the scene by Bacchanalian riot and the sensuality of imperial Rome. His elephants twist their trunks, and trumpet to the din of cymbals; negroes feed the flaming candelabra with scattered frankincense; the white oxen of Clitumnus are loaded with gaudy flowers, and the dancing maidens are dishevelled Mænads. But the rhythmic[Pg 243] procession of Mantegna, modulated to the sound of flutes and soft recorders, carries our imagination back to the best days and strength of Rome. His priests and generals, captives and choric women, are as little Greek as they are modern. In them awakes to a new life the spirit-quelling energy of the Republic. The painter's severe taste keeps out of sight the insolence and orgies of the Empire; he conceives Rome as Shakespeare did in Coriolanus"[131] (Symonds's Renaissance, iii. 200).

279. THE HORRORS OF WAR.

Rubens (Flemish: 1577-1640). See 38.

"Mars, leaving the temple of Janus[132] open, is held back by Venus, while Europe bewails the inevitable miseries of war; but he is drawn on by the Fury Alecto, who is preceded by Plague and Famine; the figure on the ground with the broken lute represents Concord overthrown. Mars and the two female figures behind him are said to be the portraits of Rubens and his two wives" (Official Catalogue).

This is a sketch of the large picture painted by Rubens in 1637 for his friend Sustermans, and now in the Pitti palace at Genoa. This sketch, with the preceding one, was in the collection of Mr. Rogers, where Ruskin saw it, as recorded in the following extract from his autobiography, in which he describes "a lesson given to me by George Richmond at one of Mr. Rogers's breakfasts (the old man used to ask me, finding me always reverent to him, joyful in his pictures, and sometimes amusing, as an object of curiosity to his guests), date uncertain, but probably in 1842":—

Until that year, Rubens had remained the type of colour power to me, and Titian's flesh tints of little worth! But that morning, as I was getting talkative over the wild Rubens's sketch (War or Discord, or Victory or the Furies, I forget what), Richmond said, pointing to the Veronese beneath it, "Why are you not looking at this—so much greater in manner?" "Greater—how?" I asked, in surprise; "it [Pg 244]seems to me quite tame beside the Rubens." "That may be," said Richmond, "but the Veronese is true, the other wildly conventional." "In what way true?" I asked, still not understanding. "Well," said Richmond, "compare the pure shadows on the flesh in Veronese, and its clear edge, with Rubens's ochre and vermilion, and outline of asphalt" (Praeterita, ii. 181).

280. THE MADONNA OF THE POMEGRANATE.

Giovanni Bellini (Venetian: 1426-1516). See 189.

A prophetic sense of the Saviour's sufferings is signified by the symbol of the pomegranate—

Pomegranate, which, if cut deep down the middle, Shows a heart within blood-tinctured, of a veined humanity.
Mrs. Browning: Lady Geraldine's Courtship.
Years pass and change; mother and child remain. Mother so proudly sad, so sadly wise, With perfect face and wonderful calm eyes, Full of a mute expectancy of pain: Child of whose love the mother seems so fain, Looking far off, as if in other skies He saw the hill of crucifixion rise, And knew the horror, and would not refrain.
Love in Idleness (1883).

This picture, which is signed by the painter, probably dates from 1485-88.

281. ST. JEROME READING.

Marco Basaiti (Venetian: painted 1500-1521).

Basaiti—born in Friuli; according to some writers, of Greek parents—was assistant to Alvise Vivarini. He was one of the early Venetian painters in oils. His works when well preserved are (says Sir F. Burton) brilliant in colour, and display great ability in the general management of the accessories, especially in the landscape backgrounds, which, according to Zanetti, he contrived to unite with his figures more skilfully than his contemporaries.

The scenery, says Gilbert (Cadore, p. 42), is that of Serravalle in Titian's country—Serravalle, "the true gate of the hills," with walls and towers rising steeply on the hill-side. The way in which the old masters thus consigned their saints and anchorites to the hill-country is very typical of the mediæval view of landscape. "The idea of retirement from[Pg 245] the world for the sake of self-mortification ... gave to all mountain solitude at once a sanctity and a terror, in the mediæval mind, which were altogether different from anything that it had possessed in the un-Christian periods.... Just in so much as it appeared necessary for the noblest men to retire to the hill-recesses before their missions could be accomplished, or their spirit perfected, in so far did the daily world seem by comparison to be pronounced profane and dangerous; and to those who loved that world and its work, the mountains were thus voiceful with perpetual rebuke.... And thousands of hearts, which might otherwise have felt that there was loveliness in the wild landscape, shrank from it in dread, because they knew that the monk retired to it for penance, and the hermit for contemplation" (Modern Painters, vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. xiv. § 10).

282. THE GLORIFICATION OF THE VIRGIN.

Bertucci (Umbrian: 16th Century).

Formerly ascribed in the Official Catalogue to Lo Spagna (for whom see under 1032); by other critics attributed to Giovanni Battista of Faenza, called Bertucci (the monkey), an artist who borrowed both from the Umbrian School and from Lorenzo Costa. The similarity between this picture and No. 629, by the latter artist, especially in the playing angels at the foot of the throne, is remarkable (see Richter's Italian Art in the National Gallery, p. 52). Works by Bertucci are to be seen in the picture gallery of Faenza.

The little angels are very pretty. Notice the three peering out from under the Virgin's robe. On the marble platform below one angel plays a white-headed pipe; the other, a six-stringed rebec, which is very accurately represented.

283. VIRGIN AND CHILD ENTHRONED.

Benozzo Gozzoli (Florentine: 1420-1498).

Benozzo Gozzoli was the favourite pupil of the "angelical painter," Fra Angelico. From him Benozzo borrowed the devotion in his pictures, the bent of his own mind being altogether different. It must be remembered that "in nearly all the great periods of art the choice of subject has not been left to the painter; ... and his own personal feelings are ascertainable only by watching, in the themes assigned to him, what are the points in which he seems to take most pleasure. Thus in the prolonged ranges of varied subjects with which Benozzo[Pg 246] Gozzoli decorated the cloisters of Pisa, it is easy to see that love of simple domestic incident, sweet landscape, and glittering ornament, prevails slightly over the solemn elements of religious feeling, which, nevertheless, the spirit of the age instilled into him in such measure as to form a very lovely and noble mind, though still one of the second order" (Modern Painters, vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. iii. § 8). The earlier works of Benozzo are entirely in Fra Angelico's manner. His later style (of which an example may be seen in No. 591) presents the greatest contrast to that master; for Benozzo is "the first of all the Florentine painters who seem to have been smitten with the beauty of the natural world and its various appearances. His later pictures overflow with the delighted sense of this beauty. He was the first to create rich landscape backgrounds, with cities, villas, and trees, rivers, and richly-cultivated valleys, bold rocks and hills. He displays the richest fancy for architectural forms,—open porticoes, elegant arcades, and balconies. In the representation of the human figure, we find gaiety and whim, feeling and dignity, in the happiest combination" (Layard). Like other painters of the time Benozzo began his career as a worker in metal, and his name is found amongst the artificers who assisted Ghiberti in making the celebrated gates for the Baptistery at Florence. He next entered the school of Fra Angelico, accompanying his master to Rome and Orvieto. In 1459 he was employed to decorate the walls of the small chapel in the Medici, now Riccardi Palace, and here he first gave rein to his own fancies. Copies from these frescoes are included in the Arundel Society's collection, as well as from those in the church of S. Agostino at S. Gimignano, where Benozzo was next employed. The chief work of his life was, however, the painting of the Campo Santo at Pisa. This occupied him from 1469-1485. Twenty-one of the frescoes were by his own hand. They are much injured; for "when any dignitary of Pisa was to be buried, they peeled off some Benozzo Gozzoli and put up a nice new tablet to the new defunct" (Praeterita, vol. ii. ch. vi., where Ruskin gives a charming account of happy days spent in copying Benozzo's work). These frescoes are remarkable for their wealth of fancy and picturesque detail. The Pisans themselves were so well pleased that they presented the painter in 1478 with a tomb, that his body might repose amidst the great works of his life. He died at Pisa twenty years later.

This was a picture painted very much to order. The figure of the Virgin was specially directed—so it appears from the original contract, dated 1461, still in existence—to be made similar in mode, form, and ornaments to one by Fra Angelico, now in the Florentine Academy, and it was also stipulated that "the said Benozzo shall at his own cost diligently gild the said panel throughout, both as regards figures and ornaments." The prices paid for such com[Pg 247]missions in those days may be judged from the fact that in the case of his great frescoes at Pisa, Benozzo contracted to paint three a year for 10 ducats each (= say £100). As for Benozzo's own personal feelings, it is easy to see with what pleasure he put in the pretty flowers in the foreground for St. Francis, and the sweet-faced angels behind the throne, and with what gusto he shot the gold in their draperies. The figure on our extreme left is St. Zenobius. His embroidered cope is very rich. The details of needlework in the picture will well repay careful study. Compared with all this, the kneeling St. Jerome and St. Francis and the other saints appear somewhat perfunctory. Notice, too, the bright goldfinches on the alabaster steps, introduced, we may suppose, in honour of

Sweet St. Francis of Assisi, would that he were here again! He that in his Catholic wholeness used to call the very flowers Sisters, brothers—and the beasts—whose pains are hardly less than ours!

284. MADONNA AND CHILD.

Bartolommeo Vivarini (Venetian: painted 1450-1499).

Bartolommeo Vivarini of Murano was the younger brother of Antonio (see 768), with whom he began to work in partnership in 1450—as is shown by the inscription on the great altar-piece by the two brothers, now in the Pinacoteca of Bologna. Bartolommeo appears to have studied at Padua, and the influence of Squarcione is manifest in the painter's striving after correctness of form. "The ornate character of his altar-pieces, with gold heightening, garlands of fruit and flowers and fluttering fillets, is also borrowed from the Paduans, and lends festal pomp and solemnity to the whole."

Of Bartolommeo Vivarini it is recorded that he painted (in 1473) the first oil picture that was exhibited in Venice. This one, however, is in tempera. "The figures in Bartolommeo's pictures are still hard in outline,—thin (except the Madonna's throat, which always in Venice, is strong as a pillar), and much marked in sinew and bone (studied from life, mind you, not by dissection); exquisitely delicate and careful in pure colour;—in character portraits of holy men and women, such as then were. There is no idealism here whatever. Monks and nuns had indeed faces and mien like these saints, when they desired to have the saints painted for them" (Guide to the Venetian Academy, p. 6).

[Pg 248]

285. MADONNA AND CHILD.

Francesco Morone (Veronese: 1473-1529).

Francesco is one of the best masters in the earlier style of the Veronese School. He was the son of Domenico Morone (1211), the friend and fellow-worker of Girolamo dai Libri (748) and the master of Morando (735). His works are rarely to be seen out of Verona, but the present picture is characteristic. At Verona, his best work in fresco is to be seen in the decoration of the sacristry of S. Maria in Organo, described by Vasari. Among his altar-pieces, one in the same church and another in S. Bernardino are specially noteworthy. "There is," says Sir F. Burton, "something peculiarly winning in the type chosen for the Madonna by this painter. The small, round, delicately-featured head, slightly thrown back, so that the eyes are cast down towards the worshipper, conveys a mingled impression of sweetness and dignity. The finish of his easel pictures is remarkable; the eye is delighted by the intricate variegation of costly stuffs, where numerous tints broken together resemble what nature has wrought on the wings of some moths and butterflies. Such broken surfaces give additional value to the masses of whole colour where these more sparingly appear." "That the artist himself was of a harmless, lovable nature is evident from his will which we still possess, and Vasari's judgment is to the same effect when he calls him 'so good a man, so religious and so orderly that no word which was not a praiseworthy one was ever known to proceed from his mouth'" (Richter). Vasari adds that he was "buried in the church of San Domenico beside his father, and was borne to his grave clothed as he had desired to be, in the vestments of a monk of San Francesco."

"A youthful production, in which glowing colour, delicately balanced, is combined with fine drawing and powerful modelling. Characteristic are the regular oval of the Madonna's head and the look of simplicity and charm which breathes in the features" (Dr. Richter in Art Journal, Feb. 1895).

286. VIRGIN AND CHILD.

Francesco Tacconi (Cremonese: painted 1464-1490).

The only signed picture by this painter still in existence. He was a native of Cremona and worked there: he and his brother pleased the Cremonese so much by painting in the Town Hall that the artists were given an exemption from taxes. But he may be classed as a Venetian, for he was an imitator of Giovanni Bellini. This picture at once recalls Bellini's No. 280, and is in fact a copy of a Madonna by that painter in the Chiesa degli Scalzi at Venice.

[Pg 249]

287. LUDOVICO MARTINENGO.

Bartolommeo Veneziano (painted 1505-1530).

The Martinengo family seems to have patronised this painter, as the Senator Count Martinengo, of Venice, possesses as an heirloom a small picture by the master which is signed "Bartolommeo mezzo Veneziano e mezzo Cremonese." The present picture (dated 1530) is signed "Bartolom. Venetus," so that he was perhaps a Cremonese by birth and a Venetian by artistic training, being probably a pupil of Giovanni Bellini (see Morelli's Italian Works in German Galleries, p. 138).

A portrait of a young man, at the age of twenty-six (as the inscription tells us), in the costume of the Campagnia della Calza (the guild of the stocking).

288. THE VIRGIN AND CHILD, MICHAEL AND RAPHAEL.

Pietro Perugino[133] (Umbrian: 1446-1523).

Pietro Vannucci, a native of Castello della Pieve, was called Perugino, from the town of which he afterwards became a citizen. His earliest master was probably Fiorenzo di Lorenzo, and he is known to have also worked under Piero della Francesca. Afterwards he went to Florence, where, it is said, he studied with Leonardo da Vinci under the sculptor Verrocchio. There is, however, no trace of any such discipleship in his works, which, on the contrary, show an untouched development of native Umbrian art, so that Perugino becomes the typical representative of what Ruskin calls the "purist ideal." It is probable that his first visit to Florence was not paid till he was already established in independent practice. "He there remained," says Vasari, "for many months without even a bed to lie on, and miserably took his sleep upon a chest; but, turning night into day, and labouring without intermission, he devoted himself most fervently to the study of his profession." And in time he became himself a famous master, with Raphael for his pupil, and "he attained to such a height of reputation that his works were dispersed, not only through Florence and all over [Pg 250]Italy, but in France, Spain, and other countries." He was himself too of a roving disposition, and he multiplied his engagements beyond his power of fulfilling them. In 1475 he received his first public commission at Perugia, but the frescoes then painted for the Palazzo Communale have perished. In 1480 he was employed by the Pope Sixtus IV., together with Signorelli and Botticelli, to cover the walls of the Sixtine Chapel with frescoes. Of the four allotted to Perugino (which occupied him in part for six years) three were afterwards destroyed to make room for Michael Angelo's "Last Judgment"; the fourth, the "Delivery of the Keys to St. Peter," remains. Perugino's subsequent movements are not easy to follow,[134] and we can only here allude to some of his most famous works. In 1494 he was at Venice, and in the same year painted his very beautiful altar-piece in S. Agostino at Cremona. In 1495 he contracted to paint for the monks of Cassino the noble Assumption now at Lyons. In 1496 he painted for the Cathedral of Perugia, the famous "Sposalizio," now at Caen. To the same period in his career belongs the picture now before us, painted for the Certosa of Pavia. Down to about 1493, Perugino's easel pictures were executed in tempera (see 181); he then adopted the new oil medium, which he used to such splendid effect in richness of colour. In 1499 he was at Perugia, engaged upon the beautiful frescoes in the Hall of the Bankers (Collegio del Cambio). He was afterwards in Florence, but in 1505 returned to Perugia, where in 1507 he painted the altar-piece, No. 1075 in our gallery. In his later years he erected a large studio in which several scholars were employed to execute commissions from his designs, and the works of this period show considerable inequality of execution, as well as repetition of design, and some falling off in richness of colouring. According to Vasari's gossip Perugino was very careful of his money—as one who had seen such hard times might well be; would only paint for cash down, and on all his wanderings carried his money box with him. "When it is fair weather," he used to say, "a man must build his house, that he may be under shelter when he most needs it." It was not, however, till middle life that he did literally build himself a house. At the same time he married a very beautiful girl, and is said to have had so much pleasure in seeing her wear becoming head-dresses that he would spend hours together in arranging that part of her toilet with his own hands. There is a tradition that she was the model for the angel who accompanies Tobias in our picture. The master was still painting in his 77th year, and was engaged on a fresco at Frontignano (now in this gallery, No. 1441), when he was carried off by the plague. The most famous of his pupils was Raphael; among the rest, the most accomplished were Giovanni lo Spagna (1032), and Giannicola Manni (1194).

Perugino's work is well represented in the National Gallery, and its several characteristics are pointed out under the pictures themselves [Pg 251](cf. especially 181 and 1075). He was, as we have said, the typical representative of the purist ideal. His technical supremacy set the seal of perfection upon pietistic art, and the masterpiece before us is unique for its combination of warmth of colour, with the expression of religious fervour. "What this artist seems to have aimed at, was to create for the soul, amid the pomps and passions of this world, a resting-place of contemplation tenanted by saintly and seraphic beings." Of his life as reflected in his work, Ruskin gives this summary: "A sound craftsman and workman to the very heart's core. A noble, gracious, and quiet labourer from youth to death,—never weary, never impatient, never untender, never untrue. Not Tintoret in power, not Raphael in flexibility, not Holbein in veracity, not Luini in love,—their gathered gifts he has, in balanced and fruitful measure, fit to be the guide, and impulse, and father of all" (Ariadne Florentina, § 72). But Perugino, like the times in which he lived, presents a study in contradictions. This idealist painted his portrait in the Sala del Cambio; it is an unsurpassed piece of realism, and the hard, unsympathetic features do not belie, but rather win credence for Vasari's tales about his sordid soul. He never deviated in his art from the pietistic path he had chosen; but according to Vasari[135] (whose statements on this point are supported by some other evidence), he was himself an unbeliever, and on his death-bed rejected the last sacraments. In his art he is essentially a quietist. He is not successful when he represents action or movement. His ideal is of quiet rapture, and sacred peace. But the criminal records of Florence prove that he was not over-scrupulous to keep his hands from violence, and in the civil courts he pursued Michael Angelo with equal indiscretion and ill-success for defamation of character. His pictures reflect the landscape, but not the fortunes, of his native country: that the quietism of Perugino "should have been fashionable in Perugia, while the Baglioni were tearing each other to pieces, and the troops of the Vitelli and the Borgia were trampling upon Umbria, is one of the most striking paradoxes of an age rich in dramatic contradictions" (Symonds's Renaissance, iii. 218).

One of the most valuable pictures in the Gallery alike for its own beauty and for its interest in the history of art. For Perugino is the final representative of the old superstitious art, just as Michael Angelo and Raphael (in his later manners) were the first representatives of the modern scientific and anatomical art; the epithet bestowed on Perugino by Michael Angelo, goffo nell' arte (dunce, or blockhead, in art), shows how trenchant the separation is between these two forms of artists. One may notice, then, in this picture as a perfect [Pg 252]example of the earlier art: First, that everything in it is dainty and delightful, and all that it attempts is accomplished. Michael Angelo, dashing off his impetuous thoughts, left much of his work half done (see 790); Perugino worked steadily in the old ways and indeed repeated ideas with so little reflection that, according to Vasari, he was blamed for doing the same thing over and over again. But everything is finished, even to the gilding of single hairs. Notice also the beautiful painting of the fish.[136] Secondly, it is a work in the school of colour, as distinguished from the school of light and shade. "Clear, calm, placid, perpetual vision, far and near; endless perspicuity of space, unfatigued veracity of eternal light, perfectly accurate delineation of every leaf on the trees and every flower in the fields" (notice especially in the foreground the "blue flower fit for paradise" of the central compartment). "There is no darkness, no wrong. Every colour is lovely, and every space is light. The world, the universe, is divine; all sadness is a part of harmony; and all gloom a part of peace." In connection with the lovely blue in the picture (which was painted in 1494-98 for the Certosa of Pavia), one may remember the story told of an earlier picture, how the prior of the convent for which Perugino was painting doled out to him the costly colour of ultramarine, and how Perugino, by constantly washing his brushes, obtained a surreptitious hoard of the colour, which he ultimately restored to shame the prior for his suspicions. Thirdly, in its rendering of landscape, the picture is characteristic of the "purism" of older art as compared with the later "naturalism." "The religious painters impress on their landscape perfect symmetry and order, such as may seem, consistent with the spiritual nature they would represent. The trees grow straight, equally branched on each side, and of slight and feathery frame. The mountains stand up unscathed; the waters are always waveless, the skies always calm."[137] Notice also that the sentiment of the whole picture [Pg 253]is like its landscape; there is no striving, nor crying, no convulsive action; it is all one "pure passage of intense feeling and heavenly light, holy and undefiled, glorious with the changeless passion of eternity—sanctified with shadeless peace." Notice lastly, how in this, as in many sacred compositions, "a living symmetry, the balance of harmonious opposites, is one of the profoundest sources of their power. The Madonna of Perugino in the National Gallery, with the angel Michael on one side and Raphael on the other, is as beautiful an example as you can have" (Elements of Drawing, p. 258). The subject of the right-hand compartment is Raphael and Tobias (for which see 781); that of the left-hand one is "the orderer of Christian warfare, Michael the Archangel; not Milton's 'with hostile brow and visage all inflamed'; not even Milton's in kingly treading of the hills of Paradise; not Raphael's with expanded wings and brandished spear; but Perugino's with his triple crest of traceless plume unshaken in heaven, his hand fallen on his crossleted sword, the truth-girdle binding his undinted armour; God has put his power upon him, resistless radiance is on his limbs; no lines are there of earthly strength, no trace on the divine features of earthly anger; trustful and thoughtful, fearless, but full of love, incapable except of the repose of eternal conquest, vessel and instrument of Omnipotence, filled like a cloud with the victor light, the dust of principalities and powers beneath his feet, the murmur of hell against him heard by his spiritual ear like the winding of a shell on the far-off sea-shore." He is thus armed as the orderer of Christian warfare against evil; in his other character, as lord of souls, he has the scales which hang on a tree by his side (Ariadne Florentina, pp. 40, 265, 266; On the Old Road, i. § 529; Modern Painters, vol. ii. pt. iii. sec. i. ch. x. § 4; sec. ii. ch. v. § 20.)

[Pg 254]

289. "THE NIGHT WATCH."

Gerrit Lundens (Dutch: 1622-1677).

This is a copy, on a greatly reduced scale, of the famous picture by Rembrandt (painted in 1642), now in the State-Museum at Amsterdam. It is of interest as showing the pristine condition of its great original, which in the earlier part of the eighteenth century was maltreated on all four sides, and thereby shorn of some of its figures in order to suit the dimensions of a room to which it was at that time removed. The picture had so darkened by time or neglect, that it came to be called "The Night Watch." The real subject is the march out of a company of the Amsterdam Musketeers from their Headquarters' Hall, under the command of their captain, Frans Banning Cocq, who is seen advancing in the centre and giving orders to his lieutenant. The principal figures are all portraits, and the names were written on the back of the picture. Our copy was painted for Cocq himself, and after many vicissitudes reached England at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

290. A MAN'S PORTRAIT (dated 1432).

Jan van Eyck (Early Flemish: about 1390-1440). See 186.

A portrait of a friend of the artist, for it is inscribed "Leal Souvenir"—and a true recollection it obviously is, and was the more acceptable, one likes to think, for being so. "It is not the untrue imaginary Picture of a man and his work that I want, ... but the actual natural Likeness, true as the face itself, nay, truer in a sense, Which the Artist, if there is one, might help to give, and the Botcher never can" (Carlyle, Friedrich).

291. PORTRAIT OF A GIRL.

Lucas Cranach (German: 1472-1553).

Lucas Sunder (or possibly Müller), called Cranach from his native place, was one of the chief of the German painters,—after Dürer, the most famous artist of his day. He was the close friend of Martin Luther, whose features he several times represented. He may indeed be called the painter of the German Reformation, and in his later[Pg 255] works the reformed doctrines receive symbolical illustration. The influences of the Renaissance were also at work in his art, as may be seen in his classical subjects. He was fond also of drawing birds and animals, and he often depicted hunting scenes. These he rendered with a realism of effect which won the admiration of his princely employers. It was, however, as a portrait-painter that he was chiefly employed. His engravings were also very numerous. In the lower left-hand corner of the picture before us, a crowned serpent will be noticed. This was the arms granted to him in 1508 by the Elector of Saxony, and it superseded his initials on all his pictures after that date. Of Cranach's earlier years, little is known. In 1504 he was established at Wittenburg as court-painter to Frederick the Wise, a post which he occupied under the next two Electors as well. He was a man of importance at Wittenburg, for he was twice mayor of the town, and carried on there, besides large art workshops, a book-printing business and an apothecary's shop. He was also employed in diplomatic missions, and when the Elector Frederick the Magnanimous was in captivity at Augsburg, Cranach was instrumental in procuring his release from the Emperor Charles V., whose portrait had in earlier years been taken by our painter.

"His female portraits have a sort of naïve grace that renders them very pleasing. There is one in the National Gallery, of a young girl in elaborate costume, which is entirely characteristic" (Bryan's Dictionary of Painters).

292. MARTYRDOM OF ST. SEBASTIAN.

Antonio Pollajuolo (Florentine: 1429-1498).

This picture is expressly ascribed by Vasari to Antonio alone. On the other hand, Albertini, an earlier authority (1510), ascribes it to Piero, the younger brother of Antonio. It is known that many pictures were the joint production of both brothers—Antonio furnishing the design, and Piero putting it into colour. "In the 'St. Sebastian,'" says Sir F. Burton, "we probably have a work so produced; the severe and strenuous drawing of the elder brother, the sculptor and toreuta by profession, is visible throughout; whether he shared in the painting, and if he did, to what extent, may remain an open question."

Antonio Pollajuolo (the "poulterer,"—so called from his grandfather's trade) is an interesting man from two points of view: first, as an instance of the union of the arts in old times; for he was a working goldsmith and engraver as well as a sculptor and painter. He took to painting comparatively late in life, desiring, says Vasari, "for his labour a more enduring memory" than belongs to works of the goldsmith's art; "and his brother Piero being a painter, he joined himself to him for the purpose of learning the modes of proceeding in painting. He acquired a knowledge in the course of a few[Pg 256] months and became an excellent master." He became, indeed, an excellent draughtsman, but "neither harmony of colours nor grace was the strong point of this master" (Morelli's Italian Masters in German Galleries, p. 351). In 1484 Antonio was invited to Rome by Pope Innocent VIII., and executed some important monumental works in St. Peter's. His brother died in 1496; Antonio, two years later. The two brothers were buried in S. Pietro in Vincoli, where busts of them may be seen. Antonio is interesting, in the second place, for the developments he introduced into Italian painting. He was one of the first of the Florentines to adopt an oil medium, and the first (says Vasari) who had recourse to the dissection of the dead subject. To him, therefore, Ruskin attributes a baleful influence. "The virtual beginner of artistic anatomy in Italy was a man called 'the poulterer'—Pollajuolo, a man of immense power, but on whom the curse of the Italian mind in this age was set at its deepest. See the horrible picture of St. Sebastian by him in our National Gallery." He was the beginner of those anatomical studies, continues Ruskin, which, pursued and established by later masters, "polluted their work with the science of the sepulchre, and degraded it with presumptuous and paltry technical skill. Foreshorten your Christ, and paint Him, if you can, half-putrefied—that is the scientific art of the Renaissance" (Ariadne Florentina, Appendix IV.).

How popular this "scientific art" was in its day may be seen from the following enthusiastic account which Vasari gives of this picture:—

A remarkable and admirably executed work, with numerous horses, many undraped figures, and singularly beautiful foreshortenings. This picture likewise contains the portrait of St. Sebastian himself, taken from the life—from the face of Gino di Ludovico Capponi, that is. The painting has been more extolled than any other ever executed by Antonio. He has evidently copied nature in this work to the utmost of his power, as we perceive more particularly in one of the archers, who, bending towards the earth, and resting his weapon against his breast, is employing all the force of a strong arm to prepare it for action; the veins are swelling, the muscles strained, and the man holds his breath as he applies all his strength to the effort. Nor is this the only figure executed with care; all the others are likewise well done, and in the diversity of their attitudes give clear proof of the artist's ability and of the labour bestowed by him on his work; all which was fully acknowledged by Antonio Pucci, who gave him three hundred scudi for the picture, declaring at the same time that he was barely paying him for the colours. This work was completed in the year 1475.

The dominant motive in the picture is, it will be seen, interest in the mechanism of the human body; notice especi[Pg 257]ally the muscles of the executioners' legs and their efforts in stretching their bows. There are, however, other points worthy of notice. "The work is not less remarkable for the extent and variety of the landscape, and for the sense of aerial, as distinct from mere linear, perspective. Instead of standing up like a wall behind the figures it appears to recede to the horizon, as in nature. The study of the remains of classical art also is betrayed by the introduction of one of the Roman monumental arches in the background. The groups of soldiers and horses introduced at different distances further attest the variety of the designers' interests" (Monkhouse: In the National Gallery, 1894, p. 77).

293. VIRGIN AND CHILD: STS. JEROME AND DOMINIC.

Filippino Lippi (Florentine: 1457-1504).

Filippo Lippi, the younger (called "Filippino" to distinguish him from his father), was the son of Fra Filippo Lippi (see 666), and the nun, Lucrezia Buti. In his will, Filippino left an annual provision of corn, wine, oil, and other necessaries to his beloved mother Lucrezia, daughter of Francesco Buti. There is perhaps no other case in art-history of father and son attaining such nearly equal excellence as did the two Lippis. Owing to his father's death when Filippino was still a boy, the latter became the pupil of Botticelli, and so good a pupil was he that the critics are often in doubt, as explained in the footnote, to which master to ascribe pictures.[138] The genius of Filippino seems to have been the more gentle, that of Botticelli the more impetuous. The grace and charm of Filippino are nowhere better shown than in the "Vision of St. Bernard," in the church of the Badia at Florence—a [Pg 258]work executed when he was about 23. A copy of it is in the Arundel Society's collection. The pictures in our Gallery which are indubitably by Filippino (namely, this picture and 927), show the same quiet beauty. Filippino was also employed upon important frescoes—in the Branacci Chapel, in Sta Maria Novella, and (at Rome) in Sta Maria Sopra Minerva; in these works he shows great skill in composition, appropriate action, and refined feeling. Filippino lived a busy and a blameless life; and the peace and beauty of his pictures were a reflection of his character. "Having been ever courteous, obliging, and friendly, Filippino was lamented," says Vasari, "by all who had known him, but more particularly by the youth of Florence, his native city; and when his funeral procession was passing through the streets, the shops were closed, as is done for the most part at the funerals of princes only."

This picture is identified by the arms of the Rucellai family below, as the one described by Vasari as "executed in the church of San Pancrazio for the chapel of the Rucellai family." After the suppression of the church, it was removed to the Palazzo Rucellai until it was purchased for the National Gallery.

294. THE FAMILY OF DARIUS.

Paolo Veronese (Veronese: 1528-1588). See 260.

This picture—"the most precious Paul Veronese," says Ruskin, "in the world"—is, according to another critic, "in itself a school of art, where every quality of the master is seen in perfection—his stately male figures, his beautiful women, his noble dog, and even his favourite monkey, his splendid architecture, gem-like colour, tones of gold and silver, sparkling and crisp touch, marvellous facility of hand and unrivalled power of composition."[139] The glowing colour [Pg 259]is what strikes one first; and next the dignity, life, and ease of the principal persons represented. It is a splendid example too of what the historical pictures of the old masters were. The scene represented is that of the Macedonian conqueror, Alexander the Great, surrounded by his generals, receiving the submission of the family of the defeated Persian King Darius; but in his treatment of the scene, Veronese makes it a piece of contemporary Venetian life.

"It is a constant law that the greatest men, whether poets or historians, live entirely in their own age.... Dante paints Italy in the thirteenth century; Chaucer, England in the fourteenth; Masaccio, Florence in the fifteenth; Tintoret, Venice in the sixteenth;—all of them utterly regardless of anachronism and minor error of every kind, but getting always vital truth out of the vital present.... Tintoret and Shakespeare paint, both of them, simply Venetian and English nature as they saw it in their time, down to the root; and it does for all time; but as for any care to cast themselves into the particular ways and tones of thought or custom of past time in their historical work, you will find it in neither of them, nor in any other perfectly great man that I know of" (Modern Painters, vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. vii. §§ 19, 20).

[Pg 260]

Thus here Veronese simply paints a group of living Venetians of his time,[140] dog,[141] monkey and all. Alexander, in red armour, is pointing to his friend Hephaestion, who stands a little behind on his left, and whom the captives had at first mistaken for the king. The queen-mother implores his pardon, but Alexander tells her that she has not erred, for that Hephaestion is another Alexander. The principal figures representing these different characters are, however, all contemporary portraits of the Pisani family,[142] it is said, for whom the picture was painted, and in choosing this scene of Alexander in one of his best moments Veronese was expressing his ideal of Venetian nobility and refinement. "The greatest portrait painters," says Ruskin,—"Titian, Veronese, Velazquez, and Raphael,—introduce the most trenchant, clear, and complete backgrounds. Indeed, the first three so rejoiced in quantity of accessories, that, when engaged on important portraits, they would paint large historical pictures merely by way of illustration or introduction. The priceless Veronese, 'The Triumph of Alexander,' was painted only to introduce portraits of the Pisani; and chiefly to set off to the best advantage the face of one fair girl" (Academy Notes, 1857, p. 37). So too the dresses to which the picture owes so much of its splendour, are the Venetian dresses of the period. It may be interesting to remark that something of the magnificence in the picture itself attaches also to the circumstances of its painting. Veronese having been detained by some accident at the Pisani Villa at Este, painted this work there, and left it behind him, sending word that he had left wherewithal to defray the expense of his entertainment. As the Pisani family ultimately [Pg 261]sold it to the National Gallery in 1857 for £13,650, Veronese's words were decidedly made good. It may be interesting to add that the negotiations for its purchase extended over nearly four years. Vast sums had been offered for the picture in former centuries, and within the previous thirty years sovereigns, public bodies, and individuals had all been competing for it.

Some of the fame of the picture is due to its splendid preservation. Rumohr speaks of it as "perhaps the only existing criterion by which to estimate the original colouring of Paul Veronese." "The lakes, for instance, in the crimson cuirass and dress of Alexander, which form such a magnificent feature in the composition, are," says Sir Edward Poynter, "as fresh as when first painted, as, indeed, is the whole picture." James Smetham, in one of his eloquent letters, refers to this work in 1858, in illustration of the enduring qualities of a painter's "flying touches"—touches "destined to live in hours and moments when you have fled beyond all moments into the unembarrassed calm of eternity":—

Paul Veronese, three hundred years ago, painted that bright Alexander, with his handsome, flushed Venetian face, and that glowing uniform of the Venetian general which he wears; and before him, on their knees, he set those golden ladies, who are pleading in pink and violet; and there he is, and there are they, in our National Gallery; he, flushed and handsome—they, golden and suppliant as ever. It takes an oldish man to remember the comet of 1811. Who remembers Paul Veronese, nine generations since? But not a tint of his thoughts is unfixed, they beam along the walls as fresh as ever. Saint Nicholas stoops to the Angelic Coronation (26), and the solemn fiddling of the Marriage at Cana is heard along the silent galleries of the Louvre. ("Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter")—yes, and will be so when you and I have cleaned our last palette, and "in the darkness over us, the four-handed mole shall scrape."

205. OUR SAVIOUR AND THE VIRGIN.

Quentin Metsys (Flemish: 1460-1530).

Metsys—whose name appears also in the forms Matsys, Massys, and Messys—was the first of the great Antwerp painters and the last who remained faithful to the traditions of the early Flemish school. The gold background here recalls the earliest Flemish pictures in the Gallery. "He retained," says Sir F. Burton, "the technical method introduced by the Van Eycks, but with a softer and broader handling, and with a wonderfully subtle modelling which gave perfect relief and[Pg 262] rounding without dark shadows." Among the most important monuments of his skill are the large altar-pieces in the public galleries of Brussels and Antwerp respectively. There are in other galleries pictures similar to the two figures here before us. Metsys was also fond of depicting merchants or money-changers counting their gains—a subject imitated by Marinus van Romerswael (see 944). Metsys was a native of Antwerp, and a person of consequence in his native town. A romantic legend was formerly associated with his name. He was, it is said, a locksmith, but became a painter to obtain the consent of his wife's father to his marriage. Hence the inscription—connubalis amor de mulcibre fecit Apellem. But this story, it now appears, belongs to another Metsys, of Louvain. Our painter was twice married. Portraits of himself and his second wife are in the Uffizi at Florence.

These figures are remarkable for their serenity and dignity. Characteristic also is the care lavished on the jewellery and edgings. The figure of our Saviour somewhat resembles the "Salvator Mundi" of Antonella da Messina (673)—the Italian painter who introduced the Flemish influence to his country.

296. THE VIRGIN ADORING THE INFANT CHRIST.

Florentine School (15th Century).
See also (p. xix)

The authorship of this picture and of No. 781, which must be by the same hand, is one of the unsolved problems of art criticism. It has at different times been ascribed to Domenico Ghirlandajo, to Antonio Pollajuolo, to the school of Piero Pollajuolo, to Verrocchio, and to an unknown master in the school of the last-mentioned painter. Sir F. Burton said, "If not by Verrocchio, it must be the work of one of his most distinguished pupils." Sir Edward Poynter says, "This picture has all the characteristics of Andrea del Verrocchio's best work, and is probably by that painter; but the small number of works that can with certainty be ascribed to him renders the attribution uncertain." Andrea del Verrocchio (1435-1488) was the sculptor of the celebrated equestrian statue of Bartolommeo Colleoni at Venice, than which, says Ruskin, "I do not believe that there is a more glorious work of sculpture existing in the world" (Stones of Venice, vol. iii. ch. I, § 22). As a painter Verrocchio was for a time the master of Leonardo da Vinci, who painted the figure of an angel in Verrocchio's "Baptism of Christ" (in the Florentine Academy). "This figure," says Vasari (ii. 255), "was so much superior to the other parts of the picture that, perceiving this, Verrocchio resolved never again to take pencil in hand." Whether this be so or not, Verrocchio left an enduring mark[Pg 263] on the art of his time. "He delighted to paint the putto—the infant boy who is just beginning to rejoice in the use of his limbs—and with such a charm did he invest his creations of this kind, whether in sculpture or in painting, that," says Dr. Meyer, "it is not too much to say that he was the creator of that child-type which is so universal in the Italian art of the Cinque-cento." "Verrocchio," says E. Müntz, "is the plastic artist, deeply enamoured of form, delighting in hollowing it out, in fining it down; he has none of the literary temperament of a Donatello, a Mantegna, masters who in order to give expression to the passions that stir them, to realise their ideal, need a vast theatre, numerous actors, dramatic subjects. There is no mise-en-scène, no searching after recondite ideas, with Verrocchio. Most suggestive in spirit, he sowed more than he reaped, and produced more pupils than masterpieces. All there is of feminine, one might almost say effeminate, in Leonardo's art, the delicacy, the morbidezza, the suavity, appear, though often merely in embryo, in the work of Verrocchio" (Leonardo da Vinci, i. 23, 25). The one undoubted picture by Verrocchio is "The Baptism" above referred to. In the St. George's Museum at Sheffield there is a "Madonna Adoring" which has a marked affinity (especially in the Virgin's expression and attitude, and in her peculiar head-dress) to our picture. Ruskin, who purchased it in Venice from the Manfrini collection, ascribed it unhesitatingly to Verrocchio, and called it "a picture of extreme value, which teaches all I want my pupils to learn of art." For an excellent reproduction of it, and for a full discussion both of it and of our picture, the reader should consult Mr. W. White's Principles of Art as illustrated in the Ruskin Museum (pp. 62-83). The angel on the left of this picture resembles the angel in the "Baptism," and the drawing of a head in the Uffizi at Florence by Verrocchio is a study for an angel. Dr. Richter, however, thinks the picture must be ascribed to a pupil of Verrocchio only, for "the artist of the Colleoni monument could not have been guilty of the abnormal extension given to the lower part of the Virgin's body. What should we have to say of the proportions of this figure if she were to rise from her seat?" (Italian Art in the National Gallery, p. 33). Morelli, on the other hand, on the strength of various technical details, ascribes the picture to Pollajuolo (Italian Masters in German Galleries, pp. 353-355).

This picture, whatever may be its authorship, is certainly one of the most beautiful examples of Florentine art in the second half of the fifteenth century. Of a very individual and fascinating type are the faces of the two angels; their sweet and childlike loveliness will haunt the memory of any visitor who has once studied them. Mr. Monkhouse suggests that they may represent some member of the Medici family: "It is at all events evident that the originals of these beautiful children, however elevated by the refinement of the artist,[Pg 264] belonged to no common stock. Nor can there be any doubt that this extremely elegant type, dainty to a degree unknown before, has a close affinity to the ideal of Leonardo da Vinci." The angels' hands in our picture are also very beautiful, though there is a touch of awkward affectation in the disjointed bend of the little finger in the angel on the left. The spectator will notice further the beautiful embroidery, and the jewelled brooches worn both by this angel and by the Madonna. The child holds a raspberry in one hand, some seeds of which he puts to his lips. The expression of the mother is very beautiful in its serene happiness of worship. Her head-dress is peculiar. "The light golden hair is entirely off the forehead, with but little showing, and is formed into a kind of pad, enclosed in an ornamental veil of thin material, which being tied round upon the top of the head, lightly forms a triangular curved peak upon the forehead, and hangs down gracefully on either shoulder." The entire picture is, as Kugler says, "a work of the most attractive character, from its careful finish, its rich and transparent colour, and its great beauty of expression."

297. THE NATIVITY.

Il Romanino (Brescian: about 1485-1566).

Girolamo Romani was a native of Brescia and the son of a painter; his family belonged originally to the small town of Romano, in the province of Bergamo: hence his name, "Romanino." Like Moretto (whose rival he was), he was little known outside the district of Brescia; but he studied at Venice, where he took Giorgione for his pattern. His best works are remarkable for a brilliant golden colouring, which is unfortunately not conspicuous in this picture. It pervades the fine altar-piece of the "Madonna Enthroned" in S. Francesco at Brescia. Another splendid altar-piece is to be seen in the museum at Padua. Among Romanino's frescoes may be mentioned the lively scenes he executed for the Castle of Malpaga. Copies of these are in the Arundel Society's collection.

Of this altar-piece—painted in 1525 for the church of St. Alessandro at Brescia—Mr. Pater gives the following description: "Alessandro, patron of the church, one of the many youthful patrician converts Italy reveres from the ranks of the Roman army, stands on one side, with ample crimson banner superbly furled about his lustrous black armour; and on the[Pg 265] other—St. Jerome, Romanino's own namesake—neither more nor less than the familiar, self-tormenting anchorite.... But the loveliest subjects are in the corners above—Gaudioso, Bishop of Brescia, above St. Jerome; above Alessandro, St. Filippo Benizzi, meek founder of the order of Servites to which that church at Brescia belonged, with his lily, and in the right hand a book, and what a book!... If you wish to see what can be made of the leaves, the vellum covers of a book, observe that in St. Philip's hands. The metre? the contents? you ask: What may they be? and whence did it come?—Out of embalmed sacristy, or antique coffin of some early Brescian martyr, or, through that bright space of blue Italian sky, from the hands of an angel, like his Annunciation lily, or the book received in the Apocalypse by John the Divine? It is one of those old saints, Gaudioso (at home in every church of Brescia), who looks out with full face from the opposite corner of the altar-piece, from a background which, though it might be the new heaven over a new earth, is in truth only the proper, breathable air of Italy. As we see him here, Saint Gaudioso is one of the more exquisite treasures of our National Gallery. It was thus that, at the magic touch of Romanino's art, the dim, early, hunted-down Brescian church of the primitive centuries, crushed into the dust, it might seem, was 'brought to her king,' out of those old dark crypts, 'in raiment of needlework'—the delicate, richly-folded, pontifical white vestments, the mitre and staff and gloves, and rich jewelled cope, blue or green.[143] The face, of remarkable beauty, after a type which all feel, though it is actually rare in art, is probably a portrait of some distinguished churchman of Romanino's own day: a second Gaudioso, perhaps, setting that later Brescian church to rights after the terrible French occupation in the painter's own time, as his saintly predecessor, the Gaudioso of the earlier century here commemorated, had done after the invasion of the Goths. The eloquent eyes are open upon some glorious vision. 'He hath made us kings and priests!' they seem to say for him, as the clean, sensitive lips might do so eloquently. Beauty and holiness had 'kissed each other,' as in Borgognone's imperial deacons at the Certosa. At the [Pg 266]Renaissance the world might seem to have parted them again. But here certainly, once more, Catholicism and the Renaissance, religion and culture, holiness and beauty, might seem reconciled, by one who had conceived neither after any feeble way, in a gifted person. Here at least, by the skill of Romanino's hand, the obscure martyr of the crypts shines as a saint of the later Renaissance, with a sanctity of which the elegant world itself would hardly escape the fascination, and which reminds one how the great Apostle St. Paul has made courtesy part of the content of the Divine charity itself. A Rubens in Italy!—so Romanino has been called. In this gracious presence we might think that, like Rubens also, he had been a courtier" ("Art Notes in North Italy" in New Review, November 1890).

298. THE TWO ST. CATHERINES.

Ambrogio Borgognone (Lombard: about 1455-1523).

Ambrogio Borgognone, called also Ambrogio da Fossano, the latter being the name of a town in Piedmont, was born at Milan. "It may have been Ambrogio's grandfather or great-grandfather who left the little Piedmontese town to settle at Milan; one of his ancestors had probably lived some time in Flanders (then called Borgogna by the Italians) and had thus received the surname of Borgognone. Ambrogio, who holds the same central place in the Milanese School of painting as Perugino in that of Perugia, and Francia in that of Bologna, was, according to my view, a pupil of Vincenzo Foppa the elder, and the real master of Bernardino Luini, the Raphael of the Milanese school. He remains in all his works a thorough Lombard" (Morelli's German Galleries, p. 419). The tenderness of feeling in this "Perugino of the Lombard School" is very marked. "The presentment of divine or holy personages, in calm serenity or in resigned suffering, accorded best," says Burton, "with his temperament. Even his colouring partakes of the pervading sentiment; the grey pallor of his heads is only modified, now and then, by the reddened eyelids of sorrow. In the Accademia at Pavia is a small picture, representing Christ bearing his cross, and followed by some Carthusian Brothers, which in simple pathos and deep religious meaning is perhaps without its equal in art." Ambrogio was distinguished as an architect no less than as a painter, and was employed on the façade of the Certosa of Pavia—a view of which building figures in the background of a picture by Ambrogio in our gallery (1410).

For St. Catherine of Alexandria, see under 693; for St. Catherine of Siena, under 249. Each of them was proclaimed the spouse of Christ for the love they bore him.[Pg 267] And Borgognone here places them on either side of the Madonna's throne. "Their names are inscribed on the haloes which surround their heads. The Madonna—an exquisite example of the earlier and purer Lombard type—sits enthroned on a raised seat, which may be compared with that of the Blenheim Madonna and of many other Virgins in our collection. The Child, erect on her knees and short-coated after the earlier wont, is in the very act of placing the ring of His mystic wedding on the timorous hand of St. Catherine of Alexandria. The Saint herself, as the earlier and more famous of the two, stands at the right hand of Our Lady. In her left she grasps the palm of martyrdom. As Princess of Egypt the meek and beautiful lady wears a regal crown. Her long wavy hair, of the type which we usually regard as Leonardesque, but which Leonardo really acquired in Lombardy, is characteristic of this saint, even in pictures of other schools (cf. the Umbrian, No. 646). At her feet lies the wheel, with its conventional hooked spikes, which was the instrument of her torture. On the Madonna's left stands St. Catherine of Siena in her Dominican robes. Her face is pure saintliness—a marvel of beauty; her left hand holds the ascetic white lily of the Dominican order; her right the Madonna takes with a gentle, and one might almost say consolatory gesture. Our Lady seems to comfort her for her less favoured position; and if you look close you will see that the infant Saviour holds in His left hand a second ring, which He extends with childish grace towards the Nun of Siena" (Grant Allen in Pall Mall Magazine, June-December 1895, p. 66).

299. PORTRAIT OF AN ITALIAN NOBLEMAN.

Moretto (Brescian: 1498-1555).

In examples of the Brescian, as of the Veronese School, the National Gallery is very rich. "The dialect of the Brescians is very like that of their neighbours of Bergamo, but not so harsh and rugged (see 1203): the character of the people, too, is more lively and frank, more given to show and swagger (Bresciani spacca-cantoni). The Brescians, wedged in between the Veronese and Bergamese, unite, to some extent, the manly energy of the latter with the greater vivacity and pliancy of the former" (Morelli). The foundation of the Brescian School was laid by Vincenzo Foppa (see 729), whose pupil Il Moretto was. It is characteristic of the wide dispersion of the art gift in Italy that this Alessandro Bonvicino, nicknamed "Il Moretto,"—one of the[Pg 268] greatest of portrait painters,—should have belonged entirely to a provincial city. He was born and educated at Brescia, where his father was a merchant; and with the exception of a very few pictures, he painted only for his native town and the province of Brescia, and it is there that nearly the whole work of his life is still to be found. Indeed he was little known beyond the frontiers of the Brescian district, and it is only during the last half century or so that his reputation has arisen. Moretto never studied in Venice; his development and genius are native, and he rivalled Titian himself in the stateliness and dignity of his figures. His altar-pieces are distinguished further by much gravity of feeling and sincerity of unostentatious religious feeling. The picture in our own gallery (625) is a good example. Others are to be found in the churches of his native town and in some foreign galleries. Among the best are the "Coronation of the Virgin" in SS. Nazzaro e Celso, Brescia; "St. Margaret" in S. Francesco, Brescia; "The Feast of the Pharisee," S. Maria della Pietà, Venice; "Madonna and Child," Städel Institute, Frankfort; and "S. Giustina," Belvedere, Vienna. His nickname of "the Blackamoor" is particularly inappropriate to his style, which is distinguished for its silvery tones, "a cool, tender, and harmonious scale of colour which has a peculiar charm, and is entirely his own" (Layard, ii. 577). This harmony of colour, which became characteristic of the Brescian School, may be observed also in his rival, Romanino. Moretto is distinguished not more for his religious subjects than for his portraits, of which we possess two very beautiful specimens in the picture now before us, and in No. 1025. He was the master of another great portrait-painter, Moroni of Bergamo (see 697), and works of the two are often confused. In addition to the charm of his harmonious colouring, Moretto's portraits are remarkable for the dignity he imparts to his subjects. "Moretto," says Morelli, "shows himself the higher artist of the two; his conception of a subject and his drawing are nobler and more elegant than those of his matter-of-fact scholar; but these intellectual qualities, which are not perceptible to every eye, do not always suffice to distinguish his weaker works from Moroni's best. In such cases the only means we have of determining the authorship is an exact and minute examination. The shape and expression of the hand, for instance, are very different in Moroni from what they are in Moretto. The hands of the latter, with pointed fingers, suggestive of the academy, are never so true to nature as those which Moroni can make when he chooses in drawing from life. Moretto's flesh-colours, too, have a delicate silver tone, while Moroni's, with their earth-like tints, are more realistic" (German Galleries, pp. 47-50, 169-171, 396-403).[144]

This painter is conspicuous, says Lanzi (History of Painting [Pg 269]in Italy, Bohn's edition 1847, ii. 181), for his "skill in imitating every kind of velvet, satin, or other cloth, either of gold or silver." His portraits are remarkable, as is noticed under 1025, for their poetic insight. He is not content with producing an obvious likeness in the flesh; he strives at portraying or suggesting some spiritual idea in all his sitters. These characteristics are conspicuous in the present picture. Thus notice, first, the splendid brocades. Then secondly, how the painter tells you not only that this was what the sitter looked like, but what was his character. It is clearly the portrait of some one who combined with an important position the tastes of a dilettante, and who had an aspiring soul. On his cap is a label inscribed ιου λιαν ποθω, which being literally interpreted means "Alas, I desire too much!"—an inscription which accords with the yearning upward gaze and the pose selected by the painter. But the motto has also a punning reference. Reading the two first words as one, it becomes ιουλιαν ποθω, "I desire Julia," or with a further pun on the last word, "Julia Potho." We thus obtain a clue to the identity of the sitter. The Potho or Pozzo family was well known at the time in Brescia. Francesco dal Pozzo, 3rd Marquis of Ponderano (born 1494), had as his first-born a daughter Julia. She became the wife of Giacomo Gromo, Signor di Ternengo, who was a man of official status in Biella in 1539, having to do with the fiscal arrangements of the district. This may be indicated in our picture by the two coins of bronze and gold, and the die or seal. The sandalled foot on the table (an antique lamp?) may indicate his love of antiquities. "It is to be hoped, if our picture be a portrait of Monsignor Giacomo Gromo di Ternengo, that he had not long to wait before he became the devoted husband of Julia Potho, for whom he so yearned, and whose favour he wore in his hat." (W. Fred Dickes in Athenæum, June 3 and Aug. 26, 1893).[145]

[Pg 270]

300. THE VIRGIN AND CHILD.

Cima da Conegliano (Venetian: 1460-1518).

Some miles north of Venice, in the Friuli, rises the town of Conegliano, which, from its isolated and castled hill, overlooks the plain of Treviso. Cima, whose real name was Giovanni Battista, takes his title in art-history from the "cima," or castled "height," of his native place—a picturesque feature which he introduced, wherever it was at all possible, into his pictures. We see these towers of Conegliano in the present picture; and a window is opened in the large composition, No. 816, in order to give us a glimpse of a similar height. In his love of his native landscape is one of the principal charms of Cima's work. "Morning is his favourite time—morning among the hills; and then and there the painter enjoyed more happiness than any twilight gondola could give him. In our National Gallery are two examples of the Conegliano scenery, but the brilliant daylight that so distinguishes Cima is strangely absent" (Gilbert's Landscape in Art, p. 329). One of his best works is the "St. John the Baptist" in the church of S. Maria dell' Orto, Venice. "He is here painting," says Ruskin, "his name-saint; the whole picture full of peace and intense faith and hope, and deep joy in light of sky and fruit and flower and weed of earth. The picture was painted for the church of Our Lady of the Garden, and it is full of simple flowers, and has the wild strawberry of Cima's native mountains gleaming through the grass.... He has given us the oak, the fig, the beautiful 'Erba della Madonna' on the wall, precisely such a bunch of it as may be seen growing at this day on the marble steps of that very church; ivy, and other creepers, and a strawberry plant in the foreground, with a blossom, and a berry just set, and one half-ripe, and one ripe, all patiently and innocently painted from the real thing, and therefore most divine.... His own Alps are in the distance, and he shall teach us how to paint wild flowers, and how to think of them" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. i. ch. vii. § 9; vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. x. § 5; Oxford Lectures on Art, § 150; Catalogue of the Educational Series, p. 27). The charming landscape and fine colour[Pg 271] of Cima are accompanied by earnestness of religious feeling, and a sense of peace and quiet, unmixed with any ascetism. "The painter," says Ruskin, of another of his pictures, "does not desire the excitement of rapid movement, nor even the passion of beautiful light. But he hates darkness as he does death. He paints noble human creatures simply in clear daylight; not in rapture, nor yet in agony. The unexciting colour will not at first delight you; but its charm will never fail, and you will find that you never return to it but with a sense of relief and of peace.... Cima is not supreme in any artistic quality, but good and praiseworthy in all" (Lectures on Landscape, § 60; Guide to the Academy at Venice, p. 14). Cima is usually reckoned among the disciples of Giovanni Bellini, and is believed at one time to have superintended the workshop of that master.

In the background, on the right, are the towers of Conegliano; on the left, the neighbouring castle of Colalto. There is something very pretty in the way in which the earlier Venetian masters placed their Holy Families in their own fields and amongst their own mountains (compare e.g. the Madonna in the Meadow, No. 599), thus imagining the Madonna and her child not as a far-away sanctity in the sky, but as an actual presence nigh unto them, at their very doors.[146] "There has probably not been an innocent cottage-home throughout the length and breadth of Europe during the whole period of vital Christianity, in which the imagined presence of the Madonna has not given sanctity to the humblest duties, and comfort to the sorest trials of the lives of women; and every brightest and loftiest achievement of the arts and strength of manhood has been the fulfilment of the assured prophecy of the poor Israelite maiden, 'He that is mighty hath magnified me, and holy is his name'" (Fors Clavigera, 1874, p. 105).

479. THE SUN RISING IN A MIST.

J. M. W. Turner, R.A. (British: 1775-1851).

For the circumstances under which this picture by Turner and the "Dido Building Carthage" (498) hang not in the Turner Gallery but beside the Claudes, see under 12.

This picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1807, and belongs therefore to Turner's first period, which was [Pg 272]distinguished by "subdued colour and perpetual reference to precedent in composition." This effect of sunrise in a mist was a favourite one with Dutch painters, and Turner, when he went to the sea-shore, painted it in the Dutch manner. A time was to come when he would paint the sun rising no longer in a mist. Yet from the first, the bent of his own mind was visible in his work. He paints no such ideal futilities as are pointed out above in Claude's picture, but fishermen engaged in their daily toil. One of his father's best friends was a fishmonger, whom he often visited: "which gives us a friendly turn of mind towards herring-fishing, whaling, Calais poissardes, and many other of our choicest subjects in afterlife." He was the painter not of "pastoral indolence or classic pride, but of the labour of men, by sea and land" (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. ix.).

498. DIDO BUILDING CARTHAGE.

J. M. W. Turner, R.A. (British: 1775-1851).

From the technical point of view this is not one of Turner's best pictures. It was exhibited in 1815, and belongs therefore to his first period, when he had still not completely exorcised "the brown demon." The picture, says Ruskin, "is quite unworthy of Turner as a colourist," "his eye for colour unaccountably fails him,"[147] and "the foreground is heavy and evidently paint, if we compare it with genuine passages of Claude's sunshine" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. i. ch. vii. § 45, sec. ii. ch. i. § 13, ch. ii. § 18).

But there is a noble idea in the picture. Dido, Queen of Carthage, surrounded by her people, and with plans and papers about her, is superintending the building of the city which was to become the great maritime power of the ancient world. "The principal object in the foreground (on the left) is a group of children sailing toy boats. The exquisite choice of this incident, as expressive of the ruling passion which was to be the source of future greatness, in preference to the tumult of busy stone-masons or arming soldiers, is quite as appreciable when it is told as when it is seen,—it has nothing to do with [Pg 273]the technicalities of painting; a scratch of the pen would have conveyed the idea and spoken to the intellect as much as the elaborate realisations of colour. Such a thought as this is something far above all art; it is epic poetry of the highest order" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. i. sec. i. ch. vii. § 2).

564. THE VIRGIN AND CHILD, WITH SCENES FROM THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS.

Margaritone (Tuscan: 1216-1293).

Margaritone, famous in his time (like so many of his successors) for painting, sculpture, and architecture alike, was a native of Arezzo, and was "the last of the Italian artists who painted entirely after the Greek (or Byzantine) manner," from which Cimabue and Giotto were the first to depart.[148] He died at the age of seventy-seven, "afflicted and disgusted (says Vasari) that he had lived to see the changes by which all honours were transferred to new artists." This picture being, according to the critics, the most important and characteristic picture of the artist still remaining, should, therefore, be carefully studied by those who are interested in tracing the history of art. Of the Greek manner, in which art was for so many centuries encased, one may notice, first, that there was no attempt to depict things like life. Art, as the phrase goes, was "symbolic," not "representative." Certain definite symbols, certain definite attitudes, were understood to mean certain things. Just as in earlier Greek painting white flesh, for instance, was taken to denote a woman, black or red flesh a man, so here such and such attitudes were accepted as meaning that the figure in question was the Virgin, and such and such other attitudes that it was the Christ. Secondly, these symbols were all expressive of various dogmas of the Church—of creeds and formulas peculiar to one sect rather than of spiritual truths common to all Christianity.

Both characteristics may be traced in almost every line of this picture. For instance, the humanity of Christ is not yet [Pg 274]even hinted at, his divinity alone being insisted upon. Thus the young God is here represented in the form of a man-child; erect, with the assumed dignity of an adult, as he raises his hand to bless the faithful. With his left hand he holds the roll in which are written the names of the faithful saved: it is as a judge that he comes into the world. The Virgin again is here shown as elect of God to be the mother of God: not as the mother of Jesus, the mother of man's highest humanity. She wears on her head the fleur-de-lys coronet, symbol of purity; and the glory, or aureole, around her represents the acrostic symbol of the fish, the Greek word for fish containing the initials of the several Greek words meaning "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour." Outside this "Vesica" (or "fish glory"), in the four corners, are four Jewish symbols (Ezekiel i. 10), adopted as emblems of the four Evangelists—the Angel (St. Matthew), the Ox (St. Luke), the Lion (St. Mark), and the Eagle (St. John). So again, in the scenes on either side of the central piece we see the same gloomy theology, in which the world is thought of solely as a place made hideous with evils, where saints are boiled by pagans, women slain by seducers, children devoured by dragons. By help of such pictured deeds of hell, men were taught by the early Church to "loathe this base world and think of heaven's bliss." The first subject (on the spectator's left) represents the birth of Christ in a cattle-shed; the second St. John the Evangelist, calm midst the cauldron of seething oil, the martyr's uplifted hand expressing the precept, "Pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you." The third subject depicts in a rude symbolic way incidents in the life of St. Catherine—her beheading, her soul's reception by angels, and the burial of her body by two angels on Mount Sinai. The fourth subject shows St. Nicolas appearing suddenly to some sailors, whom he exhorts to throw overboard a vase given by the devil. In the fifth is St. John resuscitating the body of Drusiana, a matron who had lived in his house previous to his departure, and whose bier he had chanced to meet on his return to Ephesus. In the next subject St. Benedict, founder of the Benedictine Order, is shown in the act of throwing himself into a thicket of briars and nettles, as he rushes from his cave to rid himself of the recollection of a beautiful woman he had once met in Rome, and whose image now tempts him to leave his chosen solitude. In the seventh, St. Nicolas[Pg 275] liberates three innocent men; and in the eighth is represented St. Margaret, patron saint of women in childbirth, whom the devil in the form of a dragon confronts to terrify into abnegation of her Christian faith. Unable to persuade her, he devours her, but bursts in the midst, and by power of the Cross she emerges unhurt. It is interesting to observe that the two consecutive acts are here shown as co-existent: a thing frequently done, as we have seen, in early art. Finally, another characteristic feature is the introduction of the "grotesque" in the animals that support the throne as a relief from the strained seriousness of the rest of the picture (A. H. Macmurdo in Century Guild Hobby Horse, i. 21-28).

The picture, signed by the painter, was an altar-front in the church of Santa Margherita at Arezzo. It is painted in tempera on linen cloth attached to wood, and even in Vasari's day its preservation was deemed remarkable. "It comprises," he says, "many small figures, of better manner than those of larger size, designed with more grace and finished with greater delicacy; and this work deserves consideration, not only because the little figures are so carefully done that they look like miniatures, but also for the extraordinary fact that a picture on canvas should have continued in such good preservation during 300 years" (i. 89).

565. THE MADONNA AND CHILD.

Cimabue (Florentine: 1240-1302).

Giovanni Cenni, called Cimabue, has been called the "Father of Modern Painting." He imitated the Byzantine style, says Vasari, but "improved the art and relieved it greatly from its uncouth manner." He did not entirely free himself from the dismal formalism of his predecessors, but he infused new life into the old traditional types. A contemporary of his was Niccola Pisano, whose work in the allied art of sculpture shows a more marked advance, and who perhaps really gave the new impulse which art received at this period—an impulse carried on in the field of painting by Cimabue's pupil, Giotto. Niccola Pisano, says Ruskin, "is the Master of Naturalism in Italy,—therefore elsewhere: of Naturalism and all that follows" (Val d'Arno, § 16). Well-authenticated pictures by Cimabue are the Madonna panel with angels in the Academy at Florence (formerly in the church of SS. Trinita), and the colossal Madonna still in the Rucellai chapel in S. Maria Novella. The latter is the picture of which the well-known story, referred to below, is told. Our picture, which is also mentioned by Vasari, was[Pg 276] originally attached to a pilaster in the choir of S. Croce.[149] Cimabue also executed some of the frescoes in the Upper Church at Assisi: and at the time of his death was occupied on the mosaics in the tribune of the Duomo at Pisa. Copies of Cimabue's frescoes may be seen in the Arundel Society's Collection.

The changes which Cimabue introduced into the art of painting were twofold. In the first place, his pictures show an increase of pictorial skill. This picture has suffered much from time. Thus in the Madonna's face, which was originally laid in green and painted over thinly, time and restorations have removed this over-painting, and left the green exposed (see also Duccio's 566). The green and purple of her dress also have changed into a dusky tone; but even so, the advance in pictorial skill may be seen in the shading of the colours, and the attempt to represent the light and dark masses of the drapery, whereas in earlier pictures the painters had been content with flat tints. But the advance made by Cimabue was even more in spirit than in technical skill. He combined the contemplation of the South with the action of the North. He gave the populace of his day something to look at—and something to love. "Is she not beautiful," asks a critic before this picture, "in simplicity and solemn majesty? Is she not a real mother with a half sad and foreboding wistful look that goes straight to the heart?" Cimabue's Madonna is still a Mater Dolorosa—"our Lady of Pain," but there is an attempt alike in her and in the child, and in the attendant angels, to substitute for the conventional image of an ideal personage the representation of real humanity. It was this change that explains the story told of one of Cimabue's works, that it was carried in glad procession, with the sound of trumpets, from his house to the church, and that the place was ever afterwards called "Borgo Allegro" (the joyful quarter)—a name which it bears to this day. "This delight was not merely in the revelation of an art they had not known how to practise; it was delight in the revelation of a Madonna whom they had not known how to love" (Mornings in Florence, ii. 48). In telling this story, Vasari adds that "they had not seen anything better"; the rudeness and quaintness which are all that at first sight are now discernible would then, it must be remembered, have been unseen. We may recall the poet's protest against those who,

[Pg 277]

Because of some stiff draperies and loose joints, Gaze scorn down from the heights of Raffaelhood On Cimabue's picture.
Mrs. Browning: Casa Guidi Windows.

566. MADONNA AND CHILD.

Duccio (Sienese: about 1260-1340).

Duccio, the son of Buoninsegna, did much the same for the Sienese School as Cimabue and Giotto did for the Florentine. He was the first, that is to say, who, forsaking partly the conventional manner of the Byzantine School, endeavoured to give some resemblance to nature, and in religious subjects to bring down heaven to earth. "He retained the ancient formulas, destroying, however, their formalism by the inspiration of new life." The development of Sienese art under his influence was parallel to, yet distinct from, that in Florence. "His feeling is quite distinct; his pure, sweet, transparent colouring is his own; his type of beauty more graceful and more classical, and he loved more gentle curves, more oval faces and longer limbs. In these things he followed his own temperament, and by so doing determined the characteristics of the Sienese School" (Monkhouse: In the National Gallery, p. 17). In 1285 Duccio was commissioned to paint a large Madonna for the church of S. Maria Novella at Florence. In 1308 he began the execution of his Maestà for the cathedral of Siena, of which some portions are now in the transept and others in the Opera del Duomo. The revelation that Duccio made of the new power of art was received, as was Cimabue's, with rapturous applause, and a portion of the famous picture just referred to was in 1310 carried in procession on a beautiful day in June to the Cathedral amidst the ringing of bells and the sounding of trumpets; the magistrates, clergy, and religious orders escorting it, followed by a multitude of citizens with their wives and families, praying as they went: the shops were closed and alms distributed to the poor. For that masterpiece Duccio received 16 soldi (8d.) the working day, paid to him in monthly instalments. The city, however, found him his materials, which, owing to the quantity of gold used (see 1139), raised the whole cost to 3000 gold florins. Works by Duccio are a speciality of the National Gallery, which has four of them to show, 566, 1139, 1140, and 1330. The present picture is the most important, and best illustrates the new departure made by Duccio.

The young Christ, for instance, instead of being depicted in the act of priestly benediction (as in 564), is shown as a true babe, drawing aside the veil that hides his Mother's face. In this little incident one may thus see the tendency which was to lead to the representation of the Mother and Child as a Holy Family (the spectator must have "charity of imagina[Pg 278]tion" to ignore the green hue of the Madonna's face, for reasons stated under 565). "A conception like this of the Infant Saviour is not met with, so far as I know, in the whole range of Byzantine art from the fifth century onwards. The relation of the Child to his mother, as here represented, the gesture of childlike love, contrasting with the expression of melancholy in her face, which, perhaps, constitutes the principal charm of the picture—is an innovation. This motive does not occur in the work of Niccola Pisano, the great sculptor who had executed a famous work in the cathedral of Siena some twenty years previously. We find it, however, in contemporary Gothic sculpture of France; a very characteristic example is in the South Kensington Museum, a charming little ivory of the Madonna standing with the Child in her arms" (Richter's Lectures on the National Gallery, p. 18). Above are seen the prophets, headed by David their king, while on either side St. Catherine[150] and St Dominic adore the vision of the mother of God. The Byzantine influence, on the other hand, may be seen in the Greek type of feature and long, slender fingers.

567. CHRIST ON THE CROSS.

Segna di Buonaventura (Sienese: painted 1305-1326).

A ghastly and conventional work by one of the early Sienese painters—a pupil of Duccio.

568. THE CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN.

School of Giotto (Giotto: 1266-1336).
See also (p. xix)

Giotto di Bondone—great alike as a painter, a sculptor, and an architect—was the son of a shepherd in the country near Florence. One day when he was drawing a ram of his father's flock with a stone [Pg 279]upon a smooth piece of rock, Cimabue (see 565) happened to be passing by, and, seeing the lad's natural bent, carried him off to be a painter. Cimabue taught him all he knew, and in time the pupil eclipsed his master. Dante mentions this as an instance of the vanity of Fame: "Cimabue thought to hold the field in painting, but now Giotto has the cry." But another poet holds

That Cimabue smiled upon the lad At the first stroke which passed what he could do, Or else his Virgin's smile had never had Such sweetness in't. All great men who foreknew Their heirs in art, for art's sake have been glad.
Mrs. Browning: Casa Guidi Windows.

The earliest examples of his work extant are the frescoes forming the lower range in the Upper Church at Assisi. His frescoes of the virtues in the Lower Church are believed to belong to a later period. So great was his fame that in 1298 he was sent for to do some work for the Pope. It was for him that Giotto sent as his testimonial the famous circle drawn with a brush, without compasses. "You may judge my masterhood of craft," Giotto tells us, "by seeing that I can draw a circle unerringly." (Hence the saying, "rounder than the O of Giotto.") After a short time in Rome, Giotto returned to Florence and painted the chapel of the Podestà, or Bargello, of Florence, which was rescued from destruction in 1841. Some of Giotto's work in it was restored. Here is his famous portrait of Dante (traced previous to restoration and published by the Arundel Society). To a later period belong his frescoes in the church of Santa Croce. In 1303 Giotto was called to decorate the walls of the chapel of the Annunziata dell' Arena at Padua. This he did with a series of compositions which are the greatest monument of his genius. It was during the execution of this work that Dante visited Padua, being entertained by his friend the painter. "Thus went Giotto, a serene labourer, throughout the length and breadth of Italy. He engaged himself in other tasks at Ferrara, Verona, and Ravenna, and at last at Avignon, where he became acquainted with Petrarch. Then passed rapidly through Florence and Orvieto on his way to Naples, where he received the kindest welcome from the good King Robert. The King, ever partial to men of mind and genius, took especial delight in Giotto's society; and Giotto (says Vasari), who had ever his repartee ready, held him fascinated at once with the magic of his pencil and pleasantry of his tongue. Returning to Florence, Giotto was appointed chief master of the works of the Duomo then in progress. He designed the Campanile, modelled the bas-relief for the base of the building, and sculptured two of them with his own hand. He died full of honour and at the zenith of his strength. He was buried in the cathedral, at the angle nearest his campanile; and thus the tower, which is the chief grace of his native city, may be regarded as his own sepulchral monument." Only those who have[Pg 280] seen Giotto's wall paintings at Assisi, Padua, and Florence can form any true conception of his greatness. It is pointed out below in what respects his work was remarkable and important for his time. It has also an abiding value in itself. "In nine cases out of ten," says Ruskin, "the first expression of an idea is the most valuable: the idea may afterwards be polished and softened, and made more attractive to the general eye; but the first expression of it has a freshness and brightness, like the flash of a native crystal compared to the lustre of glass that has been melted and cut. Giotto was not, indeed, one of the most accomplished painters, but he was one of the greatest men who ever lived. He was the first master of his time, in architecture as well as in painting; he was the friend of Dante, and the undisputed interpreter of religious truth, by means of painting, over the whole of Italy. The works of such a man may not be the best to set before children in order to teach them drawing; but they assuredly should be studied with the greatest care by all who are interested in the history of the human mind" (Giotto and his Works in Padua). Copies of many of his works are in the Arundel Society's Collection.

It was Cimabue who first attempted to represent action as well as contemplation. Giotto went farther, and represented the action of daily life. "Cimabue magnified the Maid; and Florence rejoiced in her Queen. But it was left for Giotto to make the queenship better beloved, in its sweet humiliation." This picture is not by the master himself, but it is characteristic—in its greater naturalness and resemblance to human life—of Giotto's work. Cimabue's picture (565) is felt in a moment to be archaic beside it. Giotto is thus the first painter of domestic life—the "reconciler of the domestic with the monastic ideal, of household wisdom, labour of love, toil upon earth according to the law of Heaven, with revelation in cave or island, with the endurance of desolate and loveless days, with the repose of folded hands that wait Heaven's time." The corresponding development in the direction of greater naturalness which Giotto—himself a country lad brought up amongst the hills and fields—introduced in the art of landscape painting cannot, unfortunately, be illustrated from the National Gallery (see on this point Edinburgh Lectures on Architecture and Painting, ch. iii.). But a third development—the introduction, namely, of portraiture—is well seen in the Heads of St. John and St. Paul (276), a work in which Giotto's influence is very marked. There is no longer a mere adoption of conventional types: these apostles are individual portraits. "Before Cimabue, no beautiful rendering of human form was possible; and the rude or formal types of the Lombard and[Pg 281] Byzantine, though they would serve in the tumult of the chase, or as the recognised symbols of creed, could not represent personal and domestic character. Faces with goggling eyes and rigid lips might be endured, with ready help of imagination, for gods, angels, saints, or hunters—or for anybody else in scenes of recognised legend; but would not serve for pleasant portraiture of one's own self, or of the incidents of gentle, actual life. And even Cimabue did not venture to leave the sphere of conventionally reverenced dignity. He still painted—though beautifully—only the Madonna, and the St. Joseph, and the Christ. These he made living—Florence asked no more: and 'Credette Cimabue nella pintura tener lo campo.' But Giotto came from the field; and saw with his simple eyes a lowlier worth. And he painted the Madonna, and St. Joseph, and the Christ,—yes, by all means, if you choose to call them so, but essentially,—Mamma, Papa, and the Baby. And all Italy threw up its cap—'ora ha Giotto il grido' (now Giotto has the cry)." A fourth development which the art of painting owes to Giotto may be well seen in this picture. Notice the pretty passages of colour, as, for instance, in the dresses of the angels. "The Greeks had painted anything anyhow,—gods black, horses red, lips and cheeks white; and when the Etruscan vase expanded into a Cimabue picture, or a Tafi mosaic, still—except that the Madonna was to have a blue dress, and everything else as much gold on it as could be managed—there was very little advance in notions of colour. Suddenly Giotto threw aside all the glitter, and all the conventionalism; and declared that he saw the sky blue, the tablecloth white, and angels, when he dreamed of them, rosy. And he simply founded the schools of colour in Italy" (Mornings in Florence, pt. ii.).

569. AN ALTAR-PIECE.

Orcagna (Florentine: about 1308-1386).

"From the time of Giotto to the end of the 14th century Orcagna stands quite pre-eminent even among the many excellent artists of that time. In sculpture he was a pupil of Andrea Pisano; in painting, though indirectly, a disciple of Giotto. Few artists have practised with such success so many branches of the arts. Orcagna was not only a painter and a sculptor, but also a worker in mosaic, an architect and a poet. His importance in the history of Italian art rests not merely on his numerous and beautiful productions, but also on his widespread[Pg 282] influence, transmitted to his successors through a large and carefully trained school of pupils. In style as a painter Orcagna comes midway between Giotto and Fra Angelico; he combined the dramatic force and realistic vigour of the earlier painting with the pure brilliant colour and refined unearthly beauty of Fra Angelico. His large fresco paintings are works of extreme decorative beauty and splendour, composed with careful reference to their architectural surroundings" (Middleton). His real name was Andrea di Cione, but he was called by his contemporaries Orcagna, a corruption of Arcagnuolo, the Archangel. "An intense solemnity and energy in the sublimest groups of his figures, fading away as he touches inferior subjects, indicates that his home was among the archangels, and his rank among the first of the sons of men" (Modern Painters, vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. iii. § 8). Orcagna's father was a goldsmith, and the result of his early training in the use of the precious metals may be traced in the extreme delicacy and refined detail of his principal works in sculpture. He used to note his union of the arts by signing his pictures "the work of ... sculptor," and his sculptures "the work of ... painter." As a sculptor and architect, the principal work of Orcagna is the church of Or San Michele at Florence. The great marble tabernacle is "one of the most important and beautiful works of art which even Italy possesses." Vasari also attributes to his design the Loggia dei Lanzi in the Piazza della Signoria, but this attribution cannot be upheld. As a painter, the chief works of Orcagna are the frescoes in the Strozzi chapel in S. Maria Novella. The "Paradise" is the finest of these compositions—a work full both of grace and of majesty. These frescoes were executed in 1350. In 1357 Orcagna painted the altar-piece in the same chapel, and of about the same date is the altar-piece now before us. The grand frescoes in the Campo Santo at Pisa ascribed by Vasari to Orcagna are now attributed to other hands.

"In San Piero Maggiore," says Vasari in his life of Orcagna, "he executed a rather large picture, the 'Coronation of the Virgin.'" This is the picture now before us. The principal portion is numbered 569. The other nine pictures (570-578) were originally portions of the same magnificent piece of decoration. A model of the church for which it was painted is held by St. Peter (among the saints adoring on the spectator's left). This altar-piece, though a handsome piece of church furniture, is not so favourable a specimen of the master's power as are the works referred to above. Nevertheless these panels are full of varied interest.

A certain quaint uncouthness should not blind us to Orcagna's wealth of expressive detail. Thus, "in the sensitive cast of the Mother's countenance, and in the refined pose of her figure,[Pg 283] there is a rare degree of eloquence, such as silently bespeaks a modesty which would shun, a humility which would disallow, any sort of self-adornment. Her Lord, to whose will she submits herself, is no less monumental in dignity of combined power and tenderness. And in the celestial band below, in the maidens that play and sing at the Mother's feet, despite their quaint little almond eyes, there is a naïveté of expression, a simplicity and animation unequalled at so early a date. In particular she who, singing behind the harpist, generously spends her soul in impassioned songs, while others, agreeable to nature's truth, are singing regardless of their song, interested only in what is around. Again, in that dual company of holy men and women sitting about the throne, reverence stills every feature, and a saintly singleness of purpose keeps each eye as they look in loving adoration on Him whose dying bought their soul's salvation, or as they lean towards Her whose human heart petitioned them to Paradise" (A. H. Macmurdo in Century Guild Hobby Horse, ii. 34). In the Hobby Horse (a different publication, No. 1, 1893), a musical expert calls attention to the instruments shown by Orcagna. Thus "in the central compartment note the portative organ, at that time in familiar use, with its gimlet-shaped keys all of one light colour, and apparently, even in that early date, chromatic in disposition. Five large drone pipes may be recognised, from their being out of scale with the melody pipes. The second instrument in the angelic band is the mediæval harp, the comb holding the wrest, or tuning, pins being held here in an animal's mouth. A third angel is furnished with a cither, also a favourite mediæval instrument. It is ornamented in ebony and ivory, and has a plectrum guard inserted in the belly, as in a modern mandoline. The fourth angel has a viol of a clumsy form; it took another 200 years to arrive at the graceful outline of the violin. The fifth has a psaltery. One angel has a bagpipe; the chaunter or melody pipe has eight holes, the same number the highland bagpipe has now." Variations of these instruments may be noted in the subordinate pictures (A. J. Hipkins). An expert in another art calls attention to the beauty of the patterns on the dresses of the central figures, on the ground upon which the angels kneel and stand, and also on the stuff hung at the back of the throne (Sydney Vacher: Italian Ornaments from brocades and stuffs found in pictures in the National Gallery).

[Pg 284]

570-2. THE TRINITY, WITH ANGELS ADORING.

Orcagna (part of the altar-piece, 569).

One may notice here one of Orcagna's limitations. "He was unable to draw the nude. On this inability followed a coldness to the value of flowing lines, and to the power of unity in composition; neither could he indicate motion or buoyancy in flying or floating figures" (On the Old Road, i. § 78). Compare especially the flying angels in the two little pictures 571 and 572, with such figures as those by Botticelli (1034), and it will be seen at once how inferior Orcagna's knowledge was.

573-5. THE NATIVITY, ADORATION, AND RESURRECTION.

Orcagna (part of the altar-piece, 569).

These panels are very rude and "conventional": nothing can be more absurd, for instance, than the sleeping sheep and shepherds at the top of the Nativity; but they are interesting, if only by comparison with later pictures of the same subjects. Such a comparison shows how constant the traditional ways of representing these events were, and how individual choice was shown in beautifying the traditions. From this point of view the Nativity is specially interesting. "This beautiful little picture," says Mr. Hodgson, R.A., "is a good example of the simplest and most perfectly symbolical treatment of the subject. In design and composition the painter has thought only how to convey the story with the utmost clearness and simplicity. It is what it was intended to be, a Scripture story made visible to those who could not read. Naturalism, i.e. the actual representation of the aspect of nature, is not thought of, no more at least than was necessary to make the meaning of the painted symbol equivalent to that of the word: rock for rock, ox for ox, and ass for ass. The degree of naturalism aimed at in such scenes can be tested pretty accurately by the treatment of the nimbus. A flat circular expanse of gold inserted into a picture must necessarily be destructive of all illusion—it is treated as a symbol, a thing non-existent, but as a necessary traditional observance. When naturalism was aimed at, the nimbus was looked upon as an actual existing corona of golden light which[Pg 285] the saint carried about with him, and it was drawn in perspective, according to the turn of his head" (Magazine of Art, 1890, p. 39). Turn next to the Nativity by Piero della Francesca (908)—a picture painted 100 years later. The symbolism is already mixed up with some conscious striving after objects beautiful in themselves. To a generation later still belongs Botticelli's "Nativity" (1034). It is full, as we shall see, of doctrinal symbolism, but it strikes the imagination also by the pomp and pageantry of the angelic host, and appeals to the senses by its flowing lines and gorgeous colourings. Yet in all these pictures of the Nativity there are certain fixed elements. One feature never absent is the introduction of the ox and the ass, suggested by a text from Habakkuk, iii. 4, "He shall lie down between the ox and the ass." A second point is that Joseph "sits apart, apparently weary or in meditation. Great care seems to have been taken to suggest that he in a certain sense held aloof, and was no participator in the interest of the scene; it was feared, perhaps, that were he to exhibit joy and surprise, it might convey the idea of paternity; he is always a mere impassive spectator." The scene of the Nativity is in the earliest pictures always represented as a cavern; a grotto at Bethlehem is to this day revered as the actual spot. In Margaritone's picture (564) we have a bare cave in the rock. In Orcagna's the cave remains, but a wooden portico or shed is added to shelter the Virgin and her Child. Next the cave disappears altogether, but the shed remains (e.g. 908, 1034).

The Adoration of the Magi (574) was a favourite subject with the Italian painters, for the three kings and their attendants gave them an excuse for the most elaborate and picturesque detail. In the picture before us Orcagna was restricted by the size and shape of the panel; but even making the necessary allowances on this score, we see that we have here a relatively simple treatment of the theme. Orcagna finds room, however, for "a perfect menagerie. There are the sheep, with a howling dog above; and below, an evil, badger-like dog, evidently much ashamed of himself and his deeds, is sneaking along into a hole in the rock. As for the amiable ox sitting upon his haunches, with his tail turned round like a cat's, and the shy ass, showing the whites of his eye: are they not delightful beauties?" (The Beasts of the National Gallery, by Sophia Beale, in Good Words, July 1895). For the rest,[Pg 286] Orcagna's "Adoration" is limited to the necessary characters. By way of contrast, look at Filippino Lippi's (1033), in which some seventy figures are introduced, and the whole picture is alive with gay colours and picturesque incident. Other representations of the same subject in our Gallery are by Fra Angelico (582), Foppa (729), Dossi (640), Peruzzi (167), and Veronese (268). A study of similarities and differences in these various examples will disclose an immense number of coincidences. The type survives, but each feature is the subject of elaborate variations.

576. THE THREE MARIES AT THE SEPULCHRE.

Orcagna (part of the altar-piece, 569).

Mary Magdalen, Mary the mother of James, and Salome stand beside the vacant tomb (Mark xvi. 1); on the opposite side are two angels: "he is risen, he is not here, behold the place where they laid him." This subject, common with the earliest painters, is afterwards seldom met with.

577. THE ASCENSION.

Orcagna (part of the altar-piece, 569).

This was a subject in which Giotto made a new departure. None of the Byzantine or earliest Italian painters ventured to introduce the entire figure of Christ in this scene. They showed the feet only, concealing the body; according to the text, "a cloud received Him out of their sight." This form of representation may be seen in some manuscripts in the British Museum. In the Arena at Padua, Giotto broke away from this tradition and introduced the entire figure of Christ; succeeding also in conveying the idea of ascending motion very skilfully. Orcagna's picture is modelled on the new type fixed by Giotto.

578. THE DESCENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

Orcagna (part of the altar-piece, 569).

The descent of the Holy Spirit is represented above; and below, the multitude confounded, every man hearing his own language.

[Pg 287]

579. THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST.

School of Taddeo Gaddi (Florentine: 1300-1366). See 215.
See also (p. xix)

In the centre is John the Baptist, baptizing Christ; on the left St. Peter, on the right St. Paul. In the pictures for the predella (the step on the top of the altar, thus forming the base of the altar-piece) is a saint at either end; and then, on the left, (1) the angel announcing the Baptist's birth, (2) his birth, (3) his death, (4) Herod's feast, and (5) Herodias with John the Baptist's head in a charger. The picture must have been the work of an inferior scholar; but it is interesting to notice that this attempt to tell a consecutive story in his picture, as in an epic poem, instead of a fastening on some one turning-point in it, as in a drama, is characteristic of early art (see under 1188). Notice further in the central picture "how designedly the fish in the water are arranged: not in groups, as chance might rule in the actual stream, but in ordered procession. All great artists ... have shown this especial delight in ordering the relations of self-set details" (A. H. Macmurdo in Century Guild Hobby Horse, i. 71).

579a. PARTS OF AN ALTAR-PIECE.

School of Taddeo Gaddi (Florentine: 1300-1366). See 215.
See also (p. xix)

These three panels formed the cuspidi of the Baptism of Christ (579). In the centre is the Almighty, on the left the Virgin, on the right Isaiah, holding a scroll with the words (in Latin), "Behold a virgin shall conceive."

580, 580a and b. THE ASCENSION OF ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST.

Jacopo Landini (Florentine: about 1310-1390).

Jacopo Landini was born at Prato Vecchio, in the Casentino; whence his common designation, Jacopo da Casentino. This picture was formerly in the Church of St. John at the painter's native place. He was a pupil of Taddeo Gaddi, and the master of Spinello Aretino.

Another of the altar-pieces (cf. 579, above), which aimed at giving the whole story of some subject, and thus recall the time when sacred pictures were (as it has been put) a kind of "Scripture Graphic." In the predella pictures (580b) are, on[Pg 288] the left, (1) St. John distributing alms and baptizing, (2) his vision of Revelation in the island of Patmos, (3) his escape from the cauldron of boiling oil; and then, as the subject of the principal picture, his ascension to heaven, for, "according to the Greek legend, St. John died without pain or change, and immediately rose again in bodily form and ascended into heaven to rejoin Christ and the Virgin." In the central picture, Mr. Gilbert finds "a glimpse of true landscape feeling in the brown platform of rock, carefully gradated in aerial perspective, in the colouring, coarse though it be, and especially in the long dark sea-line beyond" (Landscape in Art, p. 184). In the other small pictures and in the pilasters are various saints, and immediately over the central picture are (1) the gates of hell cast down, (2) Christ risen from the dead, (3) the donor of the picture and his family, being presented by the two St. Johns. Of the cuspidi, or upper pictures (580a), the centre piece is a symbolic representation of the Trinity (seen best on a large scale in 727); at the sides are the Virgin and the Angel of the Annunciation, divided as explained under 1139.

581. A GROUP OF SAINTS.

Spinello Aretino (Tuscan: about 1333-1410).
See also (p. xix)

Spinello di Luca Spinelli is commonly called Spinello Aretino, from Arezzo, his native town. As is the case with most of the early Tuscan painters, he is seen to greater advantage in his frescoes than in his panel pictures. Some fragments of frescoes by him are in our Gallery (1216). Important frescoes may be seen in the sacristy of S. Miniato above Florence (the life of St. Benedict); in the Campo Santo at Pisa (the histories of SS. Efeso and Potito); and in the Palazzo Pubblico at Siena (scenes in the life of Pope Alexander III.). Spinello "represents the spirit of Giotto at the close of the fourteenth century better than any other painter of the time." He belonged to a family of goldsmiths. It is interesting to note on an altar-piece executed by him for Monte Oliveto (now in the Gallery of Siena), that the names of the carver and gilder of the frame are inscribed as conspicuously as that of Spinello the painter of the picture. He was the pupil of Jacopo di Casentino.

Certainly not an adequate, and perhaps not an authentic, specimen of the master. The saints are St. John the Baptist, St. John the Evangelist, and St. James the Greater.

[Pg 289]

582. THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI.

Fra Angelico (Florentine: 1387-1455). See 663.

For the subject see notes on No. 574. Angelico's picture is remarkable for the picturesque and sparkling costumes. "The art of Angelico," says Ruskin, "both as a colourist and a draughtsman, is consummate; so perfect and beautiful, that his work may be recognised at any distance by the rainbow play and brilliancy of it. However closely it may be surrounded by other works of the same school, glowing with enamel and gold, Angelico's may be told from them at a glance, like so many pieces of opal lying among common marbles" (Stones of Venice, vol. i. app. 15).

683. THE ROUT OF SAN ROMANO.

Paolo Uccello (Florentine: 1397-1475).

This painter was originally brought up as a goldsmith, and was one of the assistants of Lorenzo Ghiberti in preparing the first pair of the celebrated gates of the Baptistery. It is doubtful with whom he learnt to paint. He introduced new enthusiasms and interests into the art, as explained below in the notes on this picture. The majority of his works have perished. He was employed principally in Florence, where frescoes by him may be seen in one of the cloisters of S. Maria Novella. At Padua he also executed some works which are said by Vasari to have been greatly admired by Andrea Mantegna. Other works by him are referred to below. The present picture is, however, the most attractive of his extant productions. He seems to have been a man of original character, and Vasari's life of him is very good reading. The biographer's statement about his poverty seems to be exaggerated, for documents exist showing that he lived in a house which he had purchased.

A picture of great interest in itself, both from a technical and from a moral point of view, and also deserving of note in the history of painting. (1) It shows the beginning of scientific "perspective" (i.e. the science of representing the form and dimensions of things as they really look, instead of as we conceive them by touch or measurement to be); the painter is pleased with the new discovery, and sets himself, as it were, the hardest problem in perspective he can find. Note the "foreshortening" of the figure on the ground (objects are said to be "foreshortened" when viewed so that we see their[Pg 290] breadth, and not their length—for example, the leg of Titian's Ganymede in No. 32). So devoted was Paolo to his science that he became (says Vasari) more needy than famous. His wife used to complain to her friends that he sat up all night studying, and that the only answer she ever got to her remonstrances was, "What a delightful thing is this perspective!" The sculptor Donatello is also said to have remonstrated with our painter: "Ah, Paolo, with this perspective of thine, thou art leaving the substance for the shadow." Paolo was fond, too, of geometry, which he read with Manetti. He had another and a softer passion: he was so fond of birds that he was called Paul of the Birds ("Uccelli"—his family name being Paolo di Dono), and he had numbers of painted birds, cats, and dogs in his house, being too poor to keep the living creatures. (2) This picture is remarkable, secondly, as the earliest Italian work in the Gallery containing portraits, and the first which endeavours to represent a contemporary event.

Our picture has hitherto been supposed to represent the battle of Sant' Egidio (1417) in which Carlo Malatesta and his nephew Galeazzo were taken prisoners by Braccio di Montone, lord of Perugia. Other battle-pieces belonging to the same series are in the Uffizi and the Louvre respectively; and it has been shown by Mr. Herbert P. Horne (Monthly Review, October, 1901) that these are the three pictures of the "Rout of San Romano," painted by Uccello for the palace of Cosimo de' Medici, as described in an inventory of 1492. The principal figure is Niccolo Maurucci da Tolentino, the leader of the Florentine forces, directing the attack against the Sienese at San Romano in 1432. "He is represented on horseback fully armed, except for his helmet, with the baton of command in his right hand. He wears on his head a rich cappuccio, or head-dress, of gold and purple damask; while his bascinet, covered with purple velvet, is carried by his helmet-bearer, who rides by his side [the 'young Malatesta' of previous descriptions]. Above the figure of Tolentino waves his standard powdered with his impress, the 'groppo di Salomone,' a knot of curious and intricate form, in a white field." The impress may be seen again, as Mr. Horne points out, in the memorial portrait of Tolentino by Andrea del Castagno in the Cathedral of Florence.

From the moral point of view, we may see in this picture, says Ruskin, what a gentleman's view of war is, as distinguished from a boor's, with mean passion and low fury on every face.[Pg 291] "Look at the young Malatesta,[151] riding into the battle of Sant' Egidio. His uncle Carlo, the leader of the army, a grave man of about sixty, has just given orders for the knights to close: two have pushed forward with lowered lances, and the mêlée has begun only a few yards in front; but the young knight, riding at his uncle's side, has not put his helmet on, nor intends doing so yet. Erect he sits, and quiet, waiting for his captain's order to charge; calm as if he were at a hawking party, only more grave; his golden hair wreathed about his proud white brow, as about a statue's" (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. viii. § 9). Another point to notice is the type this picture affords of "the neglect of the perfectness of the earth's beauty, by reason of the passions of men. The armies meet on a country road beside a hedge of wild roses; the tender red flowers tossing above their helmets, and glowing between the lowered lances." In like manner, adds Ruskin, in the Middle Ages, when men lived for safety in walled cities, "the whole of Nature only shone for man between the tossing of helmet-crests; and sometimes I cannot but think of the trees of the earth as capable of a kind of sorrow, in that imperfect life of theirs, as they opened their innocent leaves in the warm spring-time, in vain for men; and all along the dells of England her beeches cast their dappled shade only where the outlaw drew his bow, and the king rode his careless chase" (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. vi. ch. i. § 6).

585. PORTRAIT OF A LADY.

Umbrian School (15th century).
See also (p. xix)

This picture has been dethroned by Sir Edward Poynter from the high estate which it occupied in the catalogues of former directors, wherein it figured as a portrait by Piero della Francesca (see 665) of Isotta di Rimini, the wife of Sigismondo Malatesta. Our portrait "bears little resemblance," says the official catalogue, "to the well-known medallion portraits of that lady by Matteo de' Pasti." It is, says Dr. Richter, "an indifferent production, inferior to the master in outline, as well as in the execution of the ornamental parts. It may have been done by any forgotten painter of the time" [Pg 292](Italian Art in the National Gallery, p. 17). "The curious stippled execution has little or nothing in common with the subtle technique of Piero" (Claude Phillips in the Academy, September 28, 1889). It is, however, interesting for its study of fashions of the time. Notice the high forehead and the sleeves and ornaments of the lady's gown.

586. MADONNA AND CHILD ENTHRONED.

Zenobio Macchiavelli (Florentine: 1418-1479).

This picture was formerly ascribed to Fra Filippo Lippi. It is now given to Macchiavelli, who was a pupil of Benozzo Gozzoli, and perhaps also of Lippi. A signed altar-piece by this painter is in the Museo Civico at Pisa; another is in the Louvre; and a third is in the National Gallery of Ireland. The latter is "a picture of singular interest," says the catalogue, "proving this master to have been one of the first of his time; full of delicacy and refinement of feeling, and the heads beautifully drawn."

Madonna and her babe, Ringed by a bowery, flowery angel-brood Lilies and vestments and white faces.

Browning: Fra Lippo Lippi.

A characteristic production of a school which, "orderly and obedient itself, understood the law of order in all things, which is the chief distinction between art and rudeness. And the first aim of every great painter is to express clearly his obedience to the law of Kosmos, Order, or Symmetry" (Fors Clavigera, 1876, p. 292). The four angel-faces on one side of the Madonna are matched by four on the other; the bishop and black monk on one side-compartment, by the saint and black nun on the other. Similarly at the foot of the throne the two angels are arranged symmetrically, one facing one way, the other the other. "You will at first be pained by the decision of line, and, in the children at least, uncomeliness of feature, which are characteristic, the first, of purely descended Etruscan work; the second, of the Florentine School headed afterwards by Donatello. But it is absolutely necessary, for right progress in knowledge, that you begin by observing and tracing decisive lines; and that you consider dignity and simplicity of expression more than beauty of feature" (Fors Clavigera, 1875, p. 308).

[Pg 293]

589. THE VIRGIN AND CHILD.

Fra Filippo Lippi (Florentine: about 1406-1469). See 666.

Combined with Lippi's realism of representation, "there is also an unusually mystic spiritualism of conception. Nearly all the Madonnas, even of the most strictly devotional schools, themselves support the child, either on their knees or in their arms. But here the Christ is miraculously borne by an angel" (Fors Clavigera, 1875, p. 308).

590. A PIETÀ.

Marco Zoppo (Bolognese; painted 1471-1498).

This unattractive painter was born in Bologna, and became a pupil in the school of Squarcione at Padua. His work shows also the influence of Cosimo Tura at Florence.

It is interesting to compare the various representations of the Dead Christ, or Pietà, which may be seen in the National Gallery. The subject, it may first be noted, was treated in very different ways. "Convention did not early harden down into fixity of composition or crystallise into rigid forms. A certain plasticity of imagination was permitted from the beginning; a certain indefiniteness of nomenclature and scope remained habitual to the end" (Grant Allen: see also Mrs. Jameson's History of our Lord, ii. 226). Sometimes the subject of the "Pietà" is the Mater Dolorosa, weeping over the body of the dead Saviour, and attended by saints (266, 1427) or angels (180). At other times the dead Saviour is supported by angels only (22, 219, 602), or, as in this picture, by saints. Sometimes the dead figure is represented lying at full length (22, 180); at other times it is a half-figure showing above a tomb or ledge (219, 266, 602, 590, 1427). Still more interesting is a comparison between these pictures for the illustration it gives of the different sentiment of different painters or schools. The picture before us is hard and dry; that of Crivelli (602) is full of tenderness. With some painters it is the physical horror, the bodily distortion that appeals to them in this subject. With others it is the pity and the sorrow (as, pre-eminently, in Francia's, 180).

[Pg 294]

591. THE RAPE OF HELEN.

Benozzo Gozzoli (Florentine: 1420-1498). See 283.
See also (p. xix)

The earliest picture in the Gallery which was painted for domestic pleasure, not religious service. One of the earliest also in which a classical subject is attempted. It probably formed the end of a coffer or cassone,[152] such as were often given for wedding presents, and was no doubt a commission to the artist for that purpose. Hence the choice of subject (which has been variously given as the Rape of Helen and the Rape of the Venetian Brides), and the (surely intentional) comic extravagance of the drawing: the bridegroom takes giant's strides in lover's eagerness, and the ships scud along with love to speed them. The ludicrous unreality of the rocks and trees, contrasted with the beautifully painted flowers of the foreground, is very characteristic of the art of the time (cf. 283 and 582). Rocks, trees, and water are all purely "conventional" still; and "the most satisfactory work of the period is that which most resembles missal painting, that is to say, which is fullest of beautiful flowers and animals scattered among the landscape, in the old independent way, like the birds upon a screen. The landscape of Benozzo Gozzoli is exquisitely rich in incident of this kind" (Edinburgh Lectures on Architecture and Painting, ch. iii.).

592. THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI.

Filippino Lippi[153] (Florentine: 1457-1504). See 293.
See also (p. xix)

This picture, with its immense retinue of followers, is "full of [Pg 295]life and swarms with incident and expression, from the dignified gravity of St. Joseph to the fantastic humour of the dwarf. No two figures are alike, except perhaps the two shepherds who are approaching from the right, and they are different from all the rest" (Monkhouse).

593. VIRGIN AND CHILD.

Lorenzo di Credi (Florentine: 1459-1537).

Lorenzo di Andrea Credi has been called by Morelli the Carlo Dolci of the fifteenth century. His pictures are sweet and gentle, but lack force or inspiration. His colouring tends towards crudeness; his careful execution and finish are remarkable. "He was a very careful and laborious workman, distilling his own oils and grinding his own colours; and when he was working he would suffer no movement to be made," says Vasari, "that would cause dust to settle on his pictures." What Vasari adds about him may be partly seen in this and the companion picture (648), with their bright colouring and pretty distances: "His works were finished with so much delicacy that every other painting looks but just sketched and left incomplete as compared with those from his hand." Lorenzo was the son and grandson of goldsmiths, and was placed when quite a child under the tuition of Verocchio (296), and was still working under him at the age of twenty-one, content with the modest salary of one florin (about £2) a month. Like his master, he was a sculptor as well as a painter, and Verocchio in his will requested that Lorenzo might finish his famous statue (at Venice) of Bartolommeo Colleoni. (The Venetians, however, gave it to Alessandro Leopardo to finish.) Lorenzo was one of the few men who lived through the Renaissance without swerving from the religious traditions of earlier art, and even without being much influenced by his fellow-pupils—though in his grave and sweet Madonnas there is yet a suspicion of the sidelong look, half sweet, half sinister, and of the long, oval face, which distinguish Leonardo. He was a disciple of Savonarola, and burnt his share of pictures in the famous bonfire. "His will bears witness to his contrition. After having assured the future of his old woman-servant, to whom he left his bedding and an annuity in kind; after having made certain donations to his niece and to the daughter of a friend, a goldsmith; he directed that the rest of his fortune should go to the brotherhood of the indigent poor, and that his obsequies should be as simple as possible" (Müntz: Leonardo da Vinci, i. 29). Lorenzo is not represented so well in the National Gallery as in the Louvre and[Pg 296] at Florence. His "Nativity" in the Florentine Academy is perhaps his best work. Lorenzo's range was limited, and "Holy Conversations" or "Madonnas" were his most frequent subjects. A peculiarity of them is the large head and somewhat puffy and clumsy forms he gives to the Infant Christ.

594. THE "HOLY MONEY-DESPISERS."

Emmanuel (Byzantine: about 1660).

This picture is the earliest in the Gallery (with the exception of the Greek portraits, see 1260)—not in order of time, but in order of artistic development. It is a genuine Byzantine picture, an example, therefore, of the art which prevailed in Italy from the sixth century down to about 1250, and the influence of which survived even when the Italian painters had developed an art of their own. The Byzantine style of painting is distinguished by its conventionality and its constancy. It was the recognised thing that such and such a subject should be treated in such and such a way and no other. There is a Byzantine Manual of Painting in a manuscript of the eleventh century in which instructions are given not only as to the subjects to be represented, but as to the costume, age, and lineaments of the characters. An art of this kind was naturally unchanging. This picture is probably only 200 years old, but if it had been painted 800 years ago, or if it had been ordered only the other day from the monks of Mount Athos, little difference of style would be perceptible. It is signed in Greek "The hand of Emmanouel, the priest, son of John," a painter living in Venice about the year 1660.

The picture is conventional in its choice of subject—the saints Cosmas and Damian being one of the subjects recognised in Byzantine art. They were martyrs of the fourth century—patron saints of medicine, which they practised without fees—hence their title, the "holy money-despisers." They are here receiving the Divine blessing. The picture is conventional also in its treatment. Thus the attitude of the hand is the recognised symbol whereby to express that a figure is speaking. So, too, the background is formed by a golden plain, which is meant to represent the air or the sky. The dark blue semicircle surrounding the bust of our Saviour, above the two heads of the saints, has more or less the form of the horizon, and is meant to represent the heaven in which Christ dwells (Richter's Italian Art, etc., pp. 5-7).

[Pg 297]

595. PORTRAIT OF A LADY.

Unknown (Venetian School: 15th-16th century).

One of the many pictures in the Gallery from which the so-called "æsthetic" or "high art" gowns of the present day have been copied. Formerly ascribed to Battista Zelotti, a disciple of Paul Veronese.

596. THE ENTOMBMENT OF CHRIST.

Marco Palmezzano (Umbrian: 1456-1537).

This painter was a fellow-countryman and pupil of Melozzo of Forli, who studied under Piero della Francesca, and to that extent Marco is a member of the Umbrian School. Like his master, Marco studied geometry and perspective. He was skilful in perspective, "but he scarcely ever ridded himself of a certain dryness and hardness, and his draperies are in general angular in the folds, cutting up instead of indicating the forms beneath" (Burton). His pictures abound in Forli.

This picture, originally of a semicircular shape, was the lunette of an altar-piece, painted in 1506 for the Cathedral of Forli, and now in the Gallery of that town. To the spectator's right is San Mercuriale, first bishop of Forli, holding the Guelphic banner of the church; on the left, San Valeriano with the standard of Forli.

597. "ST. VINCENTIUS FERRER."

Francesco del Cossa (Ferrarese: about 1435-1485).

Cossa was a contemporary of Cosimo Tura (772), with whom he exhibits close affinities of style. "But while Tura was fantastic, and inclined to the lavish use of decoration, Cossa, with severer views of his art, sought to give dignity and grandeur to his figures, and kept ornamentation within its proper bounds" (Official Catalogue). "It may be added that Cossa, though 'severer' in one sense, viz. that he saw more clearly and kept more strictly within the true limits of fine art, had more amenity than Tura; his decorative instinct was more refined, his sense of grace less crude. He was also a sweeter, finer, colourist" (Monkhouse). Cossa worked at Ferrara with other artists for Duke Borso, and among other works he executed some of the frescoes for the Schifanoia Palace. These have been copied by the Arundel Society. In 1470 Cossa removed to Bologna, where his best works are to be seen. The finest of them is the "Virgin and Child with St. Petronius" in the Pinacoteca—"a work of singular grandeur."

[Pg 298]

"Our beautiful panel is, for its size, as characteristic and fine a specimen of the master as exists. The painting throughout is of fine quality, the modelling and expression of the head admirable, the colour strong and fine, but soft withal, and the abundant detail executed with great skill and patience, but kept in due subordination. The strange background, with its fantastic erections, half architecture half rock, is of less beauty, but equally characteristic of the artist" (Monkhouse: In the National Gallery, p. 167). The picture, once ascribed to Marco Zoppo, has been now recognised as the central panel of an altar-piece by Cossa, of which the wings are in the Brera at Milan, and the predella is in the Picture Gallery of the Vatican. The Dominican represented has at various times been supposed to be St. Dominic himself, St. Vincentius Ferrer, and St. Hyacinth. The predella pictures are of scenes in the life of St. Hyacinth, who therefore is probably the subject of our panel also. He was a member of the Dominican Order (whose habit he wears), a Pole by birth, and a missionary in Russia. St. Vincentius Ferrer was a Spaniard of Valencia, who in 1374, at the age of 17, entered the Dominican Order, died in 1419, and was canonised in 1455.

598. ST. FRANCIS WITH THE "STIGMATA."

Filippino Lippi (Florentine: 1457-1504). See 293.

St. Francis, the founder of the Franciscan Order of monks (the Black Friars), was the great apostle of Works, whilst St. Dominic, the founder of the Dominican Order (White Friars), was the great apostle of Faith. It was the teaching of these two orders that gave the impetus to the church building, from which grew the art revival at Florence in the thirteenth century. "The gospel of works, according to St. Francis, lay in three things. You must work without money, and be poor. You must work without pleasure, and be chaste. You must work according to orders, and be obedient." And so truly did he in his own works exemplify the life of Christ, that, according to the legend of the time, he received also in his own person the wounds (or "stigmata") of the Crucified One—here visible on his hands. ("Take my yoke upon you"; or "Take up the cross and follow me.") "His reception of the 'stigmata' is, perhaps, a marvellous instance of the power of imagination over physical conditions; perhaps an equally marvellous instance of the swift change of metaphor into tradition; but assuredly, and beyond dispute, one of the most influential, significant, and instructive traditions possessed by the Church of Christ."

[Pg 299]

The saint is here represented in glory; choirs of singing angels encompass him; for now "the wounds of his Master are his inheritance, the cross—sign not of triumph, but of trial, is his reward" (Mornings in Florence, i. 8, 13; iii. 64). Inscribed on the picture below are some lines from a Latin hymn to St. Francis, exhorting others to follow him, and to advance as he did the standards of their king ("Let those who depart out of Egypt follow him, and be united to him, in whom the standards of the King come forth for us in clear light").

The floating angels recall those by Botticelli, but the pupil's work is not here so good: these angels seem after all to be standing, Botticelli's to be indeed floating in thin air. Lippi, too, learnt no doubt from him the goldsmith's work, seen here in the indented background to the picture.

599. THE MADONNA OF THE MEADOW.

Giovanni Bellini (Venetian: 1426-1516). See 189.
See also (p. xix)

A very charming little picture, marred only by a certain insipidity in the expression of the Madonna—which contrasts markedly alike with the pathetic type of Bellini's early Madonnas (e.g. No. 288), and with the more stately type which he afterwards adopted (as in the altar-piece in the Academy at Venice). "The landscape is altogether interesting, and will well repay a long examination. The incident of the bird and the serpent should not be missed, and the Eastern sheep with the long ears and its stately attendant in the white burnous should be noted as an attempt to give some Oriental character to the scene" (Monkhouse: In the National Gallery, p. 220). "The exquisite opaline purity of its daylight, the delicacy and finish of every detail, the walls and towers of the little town serene in the rays of morning, and the mountain ranges, pure and lovely in definition—all these graces make the picture one of the joys of art" (Gilbert's Landscape in Art, p. 330).

This picture has at different times been given several different attributions, of which the most cautious was "School of Bellini." In earlier editions of the Official Catalogue it was ascribed to Basaiti (see 281); but now (1898) to Bellini. Sir Edward Poynter refers in support of this alteration to the close resemblance of the present picture to a signed work by[Pg 300] Bellini in the Giovanelli Palace at Venice, and, as regards the background, to No. 812 in our gallery. Sir Walter Armstrong (Notes on the National Gallery, p. 24) draws attention to the similarity in the baby's hands here and in 224, and would ascribe both pictures to Catena. The correct settlement of disputed points of attribution like this is highly important for the history of painting, but meanwhile the very fact of such disputes has a useful significance, as showing what is meant by the old "schools" of painting. Individual peculiarities are only discovered by minutest examinations; but beneath such differences there are in each school similarities of treatment and conception which come from common traditions and common teaching, and which cause critics of equal intelligence to attribute the same pictures to different masters of the school.

600. THE BLIND BEGGAR.

J. L. Dyckmans (Flemish: 1811-1888).

Josef Laurens Dyckmans, a pupil of Wappers, was for some time Professor of the Academy of Painting at Antwerp.

"A blind old man is standing in the sunshine by a church door: before him is a young girl, who is holding out her hand for alms to the passers-by; an old lady coming from the church is feeling in her pocket for a sou; some other figures are seen in the porch at their devotions before a crucifix. Painted at Antwerp, signed J. Dyckmans, 1853" (Official Catalogue). "The picture is painted in a tone of colour exceedingly low, but the whole is worked to an extreme finish; the heads in fact are elaborated with a care such as Denner's pictures show. In these days of light and glowing harmonies the eye is at once struck with the abstinence from colour which the artist has made a cardinal principle in the execution of his work" (Art Journal, July 1864). This picture was presented by Miss Jane Clark, who paid 900 guineas for it.

602. A "PIETÀ."

Carlo Crivelli (Venetian: painted 1468-1493).

Crivelli is one of the most individual of painters, and no collection is so rich in his works as the National Gallery. He was a native of[Pg 301] Venice, and his work shows marked affinities with the school of Padua. Of his life, little is known except that in, or shortly before, the year 1468 he settled at Ascoli in the Marches of Ancona. In that neighbourhood he seems to have spent the rest of his life, in the employment mainly of various religious fraternities. He thus lived somewhat outside the artistic world of his time, a fact which serves to explain the rather conservative character of his art. Thus he adhered to the tempera medium. He adhered also to the Byzantine traditions of the old Venetian School with its fondness for the "ancona," or altar-piece consisting of many single figures each in its separate compartment, and for gilt and silvered ornaments in high relief. There is, too, a vein of affectation in his pictures which contrasts strongly with the naturalistic tendency in contemporary Venetian art. Owing to a little touch of vanity in the painter we are able to date many of his pictures. For it is known that he was knighted in 1490, and so proud was "Sir Charles" of his new honour that he signed all subsequent pictures "Carlo Crivelli, Knight." No. 724 is probably the first he finished after the reception of the coveted honour. His love of accessories, and especially of fruit, will strike every visitor; and so also will the brilliance of his colouring and the unerring, if somewhat harsh, exactness of his outlines. For tender pathos the present picture is remarkable. His range was, as we shall see, somewhat limited. He seldom attempted compositions on any large scale, and his subject pictures are few: No. 739 is one of the best of them. He excelled rather in single figures, and in these we find expressed, "in quaint combination, morose asceticism, passionate and demonstrative grief, verging on caricature, occasional grandeur of conception and presentment, knightly dignity, feminine sweetness and tenderness mingled with demure and far-fetched grace" (Sir F. Burton). Up to the end of the eighteenth century Crivelli's works were still to be found in their original places, in the churches and convents of Eastern Italy, where they attracted little attention. The suppression of the convents after the age of the Revolution brought them into notice, and English collectors purchased them in large numbers. In recent years this appreciation has steadily increased. The large altar-piece, 788, was bought in 1868 for £3360. At the Dudley sale in 1892, the altar-piece, now in the Berlin Museum, fetched £7350.

This little picture is part of an altar-piece formerly in a church at Monte Fiore, near Fermo: other portions are at Brussels. The picture is signed, but not dated; the piece of red watered silk which hangs over the edge of the tomb is characteristic of Crivelli's earlier period. Its prettily pathetic sentiment and brilliant tone make it one of the painter's most attractive works. For some remarks on the subject, see under 590.

[Pg 302]

621. THE HORSE FAIR.

Rosa Bonheur (French: 1822-1899).

Mdlle. Rosalie Bonheur, usually called Rosa Bonheur, the most vigorous and spirited of French animal painters, was born at Bordeaux. Her parents had a sharp struggle for existence. Her mother taught music; her father—Raymond Bonheur—drawing. He was a painter of some ability, and all the children inherited an artistic bent. When the family removed to Paris, Rosa's precocious talents rapidly developed. They lived next door to a tavern which was a house of call for diligences and market-waggons, and there she found inexhaustible material for animal studies. Her brother, Auguste, became an animal and landscape painter of repute; another brother, Isidore, an animal sculptor; her sister, Juliette, who married M. Peyrol, was also a well-known painter. In the Salon of 1848 the whole family exhibited. From the common purse, when they were children, a goat was bought for a model, which they used to carry up to their humble studio. Another place of study with Rosa Bonheur was the Abattoir du Roule, "where, with characteristic fortitude, she not only controlled her natural repugnance to scenes of slaughter, but overcame all the disgust which attended the 'brutalité grossière' of the people employed there. Even at this early period she studied not only the outward aspects and anatomical construction of the creatures she painted, but their passions and tempers. Among the friends to whom she always referred with grateful pleasure as helpful in these days was Paul Delaroche, who called at the humble family quarters on a sixth floor, and was not sparing in his admiration." Rosa had first been apprenticed to a dressmaker, but her love of art impelled her to give up this occupation, and she succeeded in contributing to the family exchequer by the sale of copies made in the Louvre. In 1841, when only 19, she exhibited two pictures in the Salon. Her mother died in 1833, and in 1845 her father married again; from that time forward she lived an independent life. Her famous "Labourage Nivernais," now in the Luxembourg, was painted in 1848. This greatly increased her reputation, and she was able to secure for her father the post of director of the Women's Painting School, established by the Government in Paris. His death in the following year affected her greatly, and she did not exhibit again until 1853, when "The Horse Fair," Le Marché aux Chevaux, appeared. Through engravings and photographs this work made the name of Rosa Bonheur famous throughout the world. She visited Spain and Scotland, and painted pictures of both those countries. Her permanent residence was an estate at By in the forest of Fontainebleau, which she purchased in 1855. There ten years later she was personally invested by the Emperor of the French with the Cross of the Legion of Honour, an honour confirmed in later years by President Carnot. A still higher compliment was paid her in 1870-1871, when her studio and residence[Pg 303] were spared from any intrusion, by the special order of Prince Frederick Charles. For many years she regularly attended horse fairs both in France—such as she has here depicted—and abroad, adopting as a rule men's costume in order to carry out her studies and purchases without attracting attention. Mr. Frith relates how when he and Sir John Millais went to lunch with her in 1858, they were met at the station by a carriage, the coachman appearing to be a French Abbé. "The driver wore a black broad-brimmed hat and black cloak, long white hair with a cheery rosy face. It was Rosa Bonheur, who lives at her château with a lady companion, and others in the form of boars, lions, and deer, who serve as models." Gambart, who was of the party, "repeated to her some words of praise given by Landseer to a picture of hers, then exhibiting in London. Her eyes filled with tears as she listened." "When one sees this young artist," wrote a journalist in 1852, "small of stature and of delicate appearance, standing by a huge canvas, he would be tempted to think that her powers had not attained the full height of their ambition; but when he comes to make note of the straight, resolute lines of the artist's features, her full square forehead, her thick hair, cut as short as that of a man, and her dark, quick flashing eyes, he ceases to fear. He then realises that it is not reckless audacity which impels her forward in her work, but a greatness of soul and a consciousness of her strength." "Few artistic careers," says her brother-in-law, "have been more active, more brilliant, or more characterised by simple and quiet dignity, or perhaps, on the whole, more happy. Having known during her youngest days the terrible inconvenience of poverty, Rosa Bonheur raised herself, by her talent alone, to a position of independence and fortune. She was privileged to enjoy at the same time the charms of fame and the sweets of obscurity." She never abandoned the retired habits of life she loved, and she was able to continue her studies to the end.

"The magnificent stallions with their powerful forms pass before us at a trot, kicking up the dust under their feet. Full of life and movement, and thoroughly imbued with realism, but of a beautiful and noble realism. The composition is admirable, and brings out finely the energy and spirit of the horse. The scene represents the horses as having just reached the market, and as being in the act of falling back to re-form for their proper places. The fine trees in the background of the picture, under which, upon a rising ground, the dealers and buyers take up their position, are obscured on the left by the haze, and by the clouds of dust raised by the trotting horses; in the background, too, at the extreme left, is seen the small dome of the Salpêtrière. The Marché aux Chevaux of Paris was at that time situate in the Boulevard l'Hôpital,[Pg 304] not far from the Orleans railway; but in consequence of changes, the market has lost the picturesque aspect it wore in 1853. One looks in vain now for the large trees which then shadowed it, and the bold earth, covered in places by short dusty grass and broken up by the trampling of the horses.... A mingling of art and truth is very obvious in 'The Horse Fair.' The irregular order of the horses, their different movements bringing into play all their muscles; the different spots of their coats, so disposed as to set off one another, and furnishing at the same time a charming variety to the eye; the powerful dappled Perche horses, which pass in the foreground and constitute the centre of the picture, with the groups of black[154] and white horses which rear themselves up on their hind feet—all this shows a profoundly skilful arrangement, and results in a grand and harmonious ensemble. Yet the first impression which this picture gives is that of a scene taken from the life, and of intense realism. The freedom and breadth of the execution are equal to the beauty of the composition. The vigorous touch, and the powerful drawing also help to give this picture a spirited character and masculine vigour in perfect harmony with the subject it represents" (René Peyrol in the Art Annual on Rosa Bonheur). Ruskin, while bearing his testimony to the artist's power, calls attention to "one stern fact concerning art" which here detracts from her full success. "No painter of animals ever yet was entirely great, who shrank from painting the human face; and Mdlle. Bonheur does shrink from it.... In the 'Horse Fair,' the human faces are nearly all dexterously, but disagreeably, hidden, and the one clearly shown has not the slightest character. Mdlle. Bonheur may rely upon this, that if she cannot paint a man's face, she can neither paint a horse's, a dog's, nor a bull's. There is in every animal's eye a dim image and gleam of humanity, a flash of strange light through which their life looks out and up to our great mystery of command over them, and [Pg 305]claims the fellowship of the creature, if not of the soul.[155] I assure Mdlle. Bonheur, strange as the words may sound to her, after what she has been told by huntsmen and racers, she has never painted a horse yet. She has only painted trotting bodies of horses" (Academy Notes, etc. 1858, p. 32).

The original of this famous composition—probably the best-known and most popular animal picture of our epoch—was exhibited in the Salon in 1853. The painter had been engaged on it for a long time, and had made innumerable studies for it. She used to call it "her Parthenon Frieze." It was sold to Mr. Gambart, the picture-dealer, who brought it to England. It made a great sensation in London, and afterwards went on a provincial tour. It then travelled to America where it was sold, and is now in the New York Museum. Rosa Bonheur painted for Gambart two repetitions of it on a smaller scale. One of these, the picture before us, was bought by Mr. Jacob Bell, who bequeathed it to the nation in 1859. It was the first work by a living foreign painter to be admitted to the Gallery.

623. MADONNA AND CHILD ENTHRONED.

Girolamo da Treviso (Venetian: 1497-1544).

Girolamo, the son and pupil of Piermaria Pennachi, was born at Treviso. He painted at Venice, Genoa, Trent, Faenza, and Bologna, at which latter place several of his frescoes and paintings remain. Between the years 1535 and 1538 he returned to Venice and became intimate with Titian, Sansovino, and Aretino. "In 1542," says Vasari, "he repaired to England, where he was so favoured by certain of his friends, who recommended him to the king (Henry VIII.), that he was at once appointed to the service of that monarch. Presenting himself to the English sovereign accordingly, Girolamo was employed, not as painter, but as engineer, and having given proofs of his ability in various edifices, copied from such as he had seen in Tuscany and other parts of Italy, the king admired them greatly. Nay, furthermore, his majesty rewarded the master with large gifts, and ordained him a stipend of four hundred crowns a year, giving him at the same time opportunity and permission to erect an honourable abode for him[Pg 306]self, the cost of which was borne by the king." Girolamo had, however, to erect also some bastions at Boulogne, and there "he was struck by a cannon-ball, which came with such violence that it cut him in two as he sat on his horse. And so were his life and all the honours of this world extinguished together, all his greatness departing in a moment." His works are now scarce. No. 218 in this gallery may be the copy made by Girolamo from Peruzzi's drawing, No. 167.

This picture, formerly the altar-piece of the Boccaferri chapel in S. Domenico at Bologna, is signed by the painter and is mentioned by Vasari (iii. 287) as "the best of his works: it represents the Madonna with numerous saints (Joseph, James, and Paul), and contains the portrait of the person by whom the painter was commissioned to execute the work." Girolamo, who, as we have seen, was a man of travel, "did not remain faithful to the tradition of art as professed at Venice and Treviso, and might be called rather a forerunner of the eclectic schools.... The head of St. Paul is apparently copied from Raphael's picture of St. Cecilia in Bologna. In the types of other figures, in the colouring and in the landscape, we perceive the influence of Dosso Dossi and of Garofalo" (Richter's Italian Art, etc. p. 87).

624. THE INFANCY OF JUPITER.

Giulio Romano (Roman: 1492-1546).

Giulio Pippi, called "the Roman," was born at Rome, and was Raphael's favourite pupil; to him Raphael bequeathed his implements and works of art. But the master could not also bequeath his spirit, and in Giulio's works (such as 643 and 644, which, however, are now attributed to a pupil), though "the archæology is admirable, the movements of the actors are affected and forced, and the whole result is a grievous example of the mannerism already beginning to prevail" (Woltmann and Woermann: History of Painting, ii. 562). "Raphael worked out the mine of his own thought so thoroughly, so completely exhausted the motives of his invention, and carried his style to such perfection, that he left nothing unused for his followers.... In the Roman manner the dramatic element was conspicuous; and to carry dramatic painting beyond the limits of good style in art is unfortunately easy.... For all the higher purposes of genuine art, inspiration passed from his pupils as colour fades from Eastern clouds at sunset, suddenly" (Symonds's Renaissance, iii. 359).... "Giulio Romano alone, by dint of robust energy and lurid fire of fancy flickering amid the smoke of his coarser nature, achieved a triumph. His Palazzo del Te at Mantua may be cited as the most perfect production of the[Pg 307] epoch, combining, as it does, all forms of antique decoration and construction with the vivid individuality of genius" (Symonds, ii. 319; iii. 360). It was in 1523 that Giulio entered the service of Federigo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, and besides executing a very large number of works in oil and fresco, he was distinguished as an architect and rebuilt nearly the whole town.[156] Vasari made his acquaintance there, and admired his works so much that Giulio deserved, he said, to see a statue of himself erected at every corner of the city. During his earlier period at Rome, Giulio was entrusted with the completion of the frescoes of the Sala di Costantino in the Vatican. Among his best oil-pictures are the "Martyrdom of St. Stephen" in the church of that saint at Genoa, and a "Holy Family" in the Dresden Gallery.

An illustration of the classic myth of the infancy of Jupiter, who was born in Crete and hidden by his mother, Rhea, in order to save him from his father Saturn ("all-devouring Time"), who used to devour his sons as soon as they were born, from fear of the prophecy that one of them would dethrone him. In the background are the Curetes "who, as the story is, erst drowned in Crete that infant cry of Jove, when the young band about the babe in rapid dance, arms in hand to measured tread, beat brass on brass, that Saturn might not get him to consign to his devouring jaws" (Lucretius, Munro's translation, ii. 629). This picture has been much admired by artists. Samuel Palmer, the friend of William Blake, wrote of it: "By the bye, if you want to see a picture bound by a splendid imagination upon the fine, firm, old philosophy, do go and look at the Julio Romano (Nursing of Jupiter) in the National Gallery. That is precisely the picture Blake would have revelled in. I think I hear him say, 'As fine as possible, Sir! It is not permitted to man to do better!'" (Memoir of Anne Gilchrist, p. 59). Elsewhere Palmer proposed to a friend as a compact test of taste the question: "Do I love the Julio Romano in the National Gallery?" (Life and Letters of Samuel Palmer, p. 250). Another distinguished artist, John Linnell, was also a great [Pg 308]admirer of the picture. He strongly urged its purchase for the National Gallery, declaring it to be "full of beauty and without any alloy" (Story's Life of Linnell, ii. 123).

625. AN ALTAR-PIECE.

Il Moretto (Brescian: 1498-1555). See 299.

The principal figure is St. Bernardino of Siena (1380-1444). He was one of the most celebrated preachers of his time: hence the words on the open book which he is represented as holding in his left hand, "Father, I have manifested thy name to men." The Gospel which he preached was "Salvation through Jesus Christ": hence the circle in his right hand with the Latin monogram "I.H.S." (Jesus the Saviour of mankind). He came of a noble family, but the secret of his power was his determination to live amongst the poor ones of the earth: hence at his feet are mitres inscribed with the names of the three cities of which he refused the bishoprics. The attendant saints are Sts. Jerome, Joseph, Francis (to whose order Bernardino belonged), and Nicholas of Bari. Above is a vision of the only crown to which St. Bernardino aspired—the company of the saints, the Virgin and Child, St. Catherine, and St. Clara. Into the pervading expression of simple and humble piety the artist has put, perhaps, something of his own character; for he was a man of great personal piety, and he is said to have always prepared himself (like Fra Angelico before him) by prayer and fasting for any important work of sacred art. Something, too, of this ascetic ideal may be seen in the attenuated figures of his saints.

"In those who already know Moretto, this altar-piece will," says Mr. Pater, "awake many a reminiscence of his art at its best. The three white mitres, for instance, grandly painted towards the centre of the picture, at the feet of St. Bernardino, may remind one of the great white mitre which, in the genial picture of St. Nicholas, in the Miracoli at Brescia, one of the children, who as delightfully unconventional acolytes accompany their beloved patron into the presence of the Madonna, carries along so willingly, laughing almost, with pleasure and pride, at his part in so great a function. In the altar-piece at the National Gallery those white mitres form the keynote from which the pale, cloistral splendours of the whole picture radiate. You see what a wealth of enjoyable colour Moretto,[Pg 309] for one, can bring out of monkish habits in themselves sad enough, and receive a new lesson in the artistic value of reserve" ("Art Notes in North Italy," in New Review, November 1890).

626. PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG MAN.

Botticelli (Florentine: 1447-1510). See 1034.

This portrait was formerly ascribed in the Official Catalogue to Masaccio. The wish was perhaps father to the thought, for Masaccio is a very important person in the development of art (being the leader of the scientific movement in Florentine painting, and also "the first man," says Ruskin, "who entirely broke through the conventionality of his time and painted pure landscape"), and is not otherwise represented in the National Gallery. Mr. Wornum (the late Keeper) ascribed the portrait to Filippino Lippi; it is now ascribed to Botticelli, who was also distinguished in portrait-painting, which in his time was becoming increasingly fashionable. "The waving lines in the falling hair, and the drawing of the mouth, seem to leave no doubt that Botticelli alone is the author of this impressive, yet simple and unpretentious, likeness of an unknown Florentine" (Richter: Italian Art in the National Gallery, p. 24).

627, 628. WATERFALLS.

Ruysdael (Dutch: 1628-1682).

Jacob van Ruysdael is usually accounted the greatest of the Dutch landscape painters. He often painted wild scenery, but it is perhaps in the quiet, and as it were uneventful pictures from the neighbourhood of Haarlem, that he charms us most. "At each moment in the country around Haarlem," says M. Michel, "the name of Ruysdael occurs to one with a recollection of some picture of his. One can follow his course and even find the very place where he must have sat." "Of all the Dutch painters," says Fromentin, "Ruysdael is the one who has the noblest resemblance to his country. He has its spaciousness, its sadness, its somewhat gloomy placidity, its monotonous and tranquil charm." But though in this way a product of the soil, Ruysdael's genius is essentially human and individual. His means of expression were the simplest. His touch is crisp and spirited, his workmanship thorough and conscientious; but he had no adventitious aids to attraction. There is, however, continues Fromentin, something in his works which compels respect. "It is the conviction created by them that they are the outcome of a great man who has something to[Pg 310] say. The cause of his superiority to others is to be found in this, that there is behind the painter a man who thinks, behind each of his pictures an idea. In studying a picture by Ruysdael we become interested also in the personality of the painter. We find ourselves asking questions. Had he joys, as he certainly had bitterness? Did destiny give him occasion to love other things than clouds, and from what did he suffer most, if he did suffer, from the torment of painting well or of living? All these questions remain without answer, and yet posterity is interested in them. Would it occur to you to ask as much about Berchem, Karel Dujardin, Wouwerman, Goyen, Terburg, Metsu, Peter de Hoogh himself? All these brilliant or charming painters painted, and that seems to suffice. Ruysdael painted, but he also lived, and that is why it matters so much to know how he lived. I know only three or four men in the Dutch school whose personality is thus interesting—Rembrandt, Ruysdael, Paul Potter, and possibly Cuyp, which is already more than is enough to classify them" (Les Maitres d'Autrefois, Hollande, ch. vii. See also M. Emile Michel's article in the Revue des deux Mondes for 1888). What we find pre-eminently in Ruysdael is a mind in harmony with nature in her simplest and most sombre moods. "The grey vapour that overspreads his skies seldom admits a fleeting gleam of sunshine to pass through" (Burton). Ruysdael is remarkable also for a certain solemn love of solitude, and this love of nature in itself, undisturbed by the incidents of daily life, distinguishes him from most of his contemporaries, and accounts, perhaps, for his popularity in more modern times. Goethe, who admired Ruysdael greatly, calls special attention to the painter's success in "representing the Past in the Present," and in suggesting to the spectator that "the works of nature live and last longer than the works of men"("Ruysdael als Dichter").

The sense of isolation perceptible in his pictures is in keeping also with what we know of his life. He was born at Haarlem, the son of a picture-dealer and frame-maker, but became a citizen of Amsterdam. His father intended him for the medical profession, but he probably received instruction in painting from his uncle, Salomon van Ruysdael (1439). He remained unmarried in order, it is said, to promote the comfort of his aged father. He belonged to the sect of the Mennonites, who enjoined on their disciples strict separation from the world. In Ruysdael's case the world also separated itself from him. His talents were ignored by the great public of his day; and in 1681 he was admitted into the town's almshouse at Haarlem, where he died in the following year. His landscapes are now eagerly sought after and command high prices. His views are mostly taken from the northern provinces of the Netherlands; the Norwegian scenery which he introduced in many of his later works being studied probably from sketches by Van Everdingen. But it is probable, though (as a writer in the Quarterly Review observes) no direct evidence in confirmation has yet been found, "that Ruysdael went to Norway either with or without Everdingen, and for a time steeped himself in the spirit of the wild[Pg 311] landscape. The large number of works of the waterfall class that we possess show that he was deeply impressed by the artistic and ethical qualities of the landscape. Severe, remote, and melancholy, these Norwegian solitudes appealed to the mind of this most solitary of artists, in whose art, as Goethe said, the poetry of loneliness has found an eternal expression."

Waterfalls are a speciality with the painter (the name Ruysdael appropriately signifies foaming water). "Ordinary running or falling water may be sufficiently rendered, by observing careful curves of projection with a dark ground, and breaking a little white over it, as we see done with judgment and taste by Ruysdael" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. v. ch. i. § 2). "Ruysdael's painting of falling water," adds Ruskin (ibid. §21), "is generally agreeable; more than agreeable it can hardly be considered. There appears no exertion of mind in any of his works; nor are they calculated to produce either harm or good by their feeble influence. They are good furniture pictures, unworthy of praise, and undeserving of blame." It is interesting to compare this damningly faint praise from Ruskin with the words of another critic. "Where is the traveller," asks M. Charles Blanc, "familiar with the impressive beauties of mountainous countries, who cannot find them in the pictures of Ruysdael? At the foot of those steep rocks how the water falls, foams, and writhes round the ruins it has brought down! It dashes forward from the right, from the left, and from the background of the picture towards the gulf which draws it in; it rushes down, I was going to say, with a hollow noise, for in fact one imagines one can almost hear it. We see it gliding down the slippery rocks, dashing against the rough bark of the trees, and gushing down the rugged bottom of the ravine. We fancy we feel the cold and humid spray falling on our faces.... But such is the power of genius, that after having seen in all its magnificent reality the spectacle which the artist has reproduced on a piece of canvas some few inches in magnitude, nature seems to us less grand and less startling than the work of Ruysdael."

629. MADONNA AND CHILD.

Lorenzo Costa (Ferrarese: 1460-1535).

Lorenzo Costa was a pupil of Cosimo Tura, at Ferrara, but was soon drawn away to Bologna, where he worked with Francia. The friendship of these two men is a good instance of the unity between[Pg 312] the different arts in the Middle Ages. Thus the workshop of Francia at Bologna consisted of two stories. In the upper story, pictures were painted under the supervision of Costa; whilst in the lower, gold and silver works were executed, and coins stamped, under the direction of Francia. Costa remained for twenty-three years at Bologna, where many of his principal works still exist. The altar-piece in the church of S. Giovanni in Monte is the most remarkable. In 1509, invited by the Marquis Francesco Gonzaga, whose wife was Isabella d'Este, Costa fixed his abode in Mantua, where he remained till his death. He depicted their court in an allegorical composition, now in the Louvre. "Costa's style," says Sir F. Burton, "varied during his long career. His earlier works bear signs of his filiation to Tura and Cossa. In later productions we may trace more of the amenity of Umbrian art, and finally the influence of his own pupil Francia. His best merits are a gentle gravity and a sense of colour. Want of force mars what is meant for grace."

This picture (which is signed, and dated 1505) should be compared with the Perugino in the next room (288), for Lorenzo Costa has been called "the Perugino of Ferrara," and works of his are in many galleries wrongly attributed to Perugino. Every one will feel that there is a grace and a sweetness here which recalls Perugino. Lorenzo, too, has Perugino's fondness for a "purist" landscape (see 288); and note the curious device, peculiar to the Ferrarese School, by which he introduces it. The Madonna's throne is constructed in two parts, so that between the base and the upper part a vacant space is left, through which we look into the open air ("Thus saith the Lord, the heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool"). One of Costa's weaknesses may be observed in the figures of the standing saints. "His figures are seldom planted firmly on the ground—a fault which he shared with Francia. The ill-understood folds of their garments obscure the form, and trail upon the ground in meaningless tags. This insensibility on the part of Costa to one of the noblest means of expression in art is remarkable, inasmuch as the works of Francesco Cossa might have set him an example of draperies carefully studied, true to fact, and often grandly disposed" (Burton).

630. MADONNA AND CHILD WITH SAINTS.

Gregorio Schiavone (Paduan: painted about 1470).

A picture of historical interest, as being the earliest in the Gallery of the Paduan School. Gregorio, the Sclavonian (i.e.[Pg 313] Dalmatian), though not, one must think, a very good artist, was proud of his master, and this picture is signed (on the little card below the throne) "the work of Schiavone, the pupil of Squarcione." That master's style was distinguished by its sculpturesque quality; and in the works of a somewhat clumsy pupil like Gregorio ("this Dalmatian clodhopper," Morelli calls him) one sees this tendency carried to excess; the outline of the Madonna's face here, and still more in 904, is quite grotesquely sharp. Another characteristic of the school is exemplified in both Gregorio's pictures—the choice, namely, of antique embellishments, of bas-reliefs, and festoons of fruit, in the accessories. Thus note here the bas-relief behind the Madonna's chair, and in 904 the festoons of fruit upon the arch.

631. PORTRAIT OF A LADY.

Ascribed to Francesco Bissolo (Venetian: painted 1500-1528).

By one of Bellini's pupils and imitators. Observe the rich dress of a Byzantine stuff embroidered with strange animals, such as one sees in the old mosaics at Venice. The lady wears too a long gold chain, as the Venetian women do to this day.

632, 633. TWO SAINTS.

Girolamo da Santa Croce (Venetian: painted 1520-1550).

Girolamo—a relation probably of Francesco Rizo, also of Santa Croce (a village near Bergamo)—was one of the weaker followers of Giovanni Bellini. Morelli mentions, as a sign by which Girolamo's pictures, which are frequently met with in North Italian galleries, may often be recognised, that "he introduced a parrot whenever the subject he was treating would allow it, just as Paolo Farinato used to put a snail into his paintings as a sort of mark."

These two panels were formerly the doors of an altar-piece.

634. THE MADONNA OF THE GOLDFINCH.

Cima da Conegliano (Venetian: 1460-1518). See 300.

The Madonna here wears a graver expression than is common with Cima. There is the usual hilly background, with the ruins of a Roman temple introduced on the left.

[Pg 314]

635. THE "REPOSE."

Titian (Venetian: 1477-1576). See 4.

The subject of this radiantly beautiful picture is the familiar "Repose" of the Holy Family during their flight into Egypt; "perfect serenity and repose" are the keynote of the composition. The introduction of St. John the Baptist, and St. Catherine[157] embracing the Holy Child, and in the distance the angel appearing to the shepherds, serve as the sign-manuals to mark the sacred subject. For the rest it is a simple domestic scene, laid amongst the hills of Titian's country, near Ceneda, on the way to Cadore:—

To this Ceneda scenery I would assign those charming mixtures of woodland and plain,—those sweeping intermingling lines of hill, here broken by a jutting rock, sinking there into the sudden depth of bosky shades,—which are another characteristic of Titian's landscape. The play of light and shade over such a country, throwing out now this, now that, of the billowy ranges as they alternately smiled in sunshine, or frowned in shadow; now printing off a tower or a crag, dark against a far-off flitting gleam, now touching into brightness a cottage or a castle; he specially delighted to record.... It must have been from the village of Caverzano, and within an easy walk from Belluno, that he took the mountain forms, and noted the sublime effect upon them of evening light, introduced in the "Madonna and St. Catherine." The lines of hill and mountain are identical with a record in my sketch-book, and the sharp-pointed hill, almost lost in the rays, is one of the most familiar features in the neighbourhood of Belluno (Gilbert: Cadore, pp. 36, 59).

Mr. Gilbert makes another interesting remark, which may be verified in this picture with its flocks of sheep, as well as in 270, with its farm buildings:

Another characteristic of Titian's landscape, and new in his time, is his perception of its domestic charm—the sweetness of a home landscape. A cottage, a farm, a mill, take the place with him of the temples, towers, and lordly palaces of town-bred painters.... Honest travellers on a country track, or sleeping in the shade; the [Pg 315]peasant going forth to labour, or returning with his tools; the high-roofed, quaintly gabled farm, with its nondescript surroundings, and all set snugly on the bosky knoll ... these are his favourite subjects. But they never would have been so to a thorough Venetian. They show us the man of the hills—the breezy, happy hills: the man of many pleasant memories, upon the sward, beside the brook, under the bending boughs: the man who carried no city apprehensions, or city squeamishness to country places, but was at home anywhere under the broad heaven (ibid. p. 60).

The colour-scheme of this masterpiece is worth noting. It is in keeping with the effect of coolness and repose aimed at in the composition. "The dominant chord is composed by the cerulean blues of the heaven and of the Virgin's dress, the deep luscious greens of the landscape and the peculiar pale citron hue, relieved with a crimson girdle, of the robe worn by St. Catherine. With this exception there is not a trace of red in the picture. Contrary to almost universal usage, it might almost be said to orthodoxy, the entire draperies of the Virgin are of one intense blue. Her veil-like headgear is of a brownish-gray, while the St. Catherine wears a golden-brown scarf, continuing the glories of her elaborately dressed hair. The audacity of the colour-scheme is only equalled by its success; no calculated effort at anything unusual being apparent" (Claude Phillips: The Later Work of Titian, p. 10).

This picture, which is signed TICIAN, was formerly in the Sacristy of the Escurial; it has the Escurial mark on the back. A "Madonna with St. Catherine" by Titian is mentioned in a letter of 1530 written by Giacomo Malatesta to Federigo Gonzaga at Mantua. The reference is supposed by Crowe and Cavalcaselle to be to the "Vierge au Lupin" of the Louvre; but it may be to our picture (see Phillips: The Earlier Work of Titian, p. 82 n.).

636. "PORTRAIT OF A POET."

Titian; or Palma Vecchio (Bergamese: 1480-1528).
See also (p. xix)

This picture was long ascribed to Titian; then for many years to Palma (of whom, therefore, some notice is here retained); now it has been restored by the officials to Titian. Others believe it to be the work of Giorgione (see below).

Jacopo Palma, the elder (II Vecchio), is one of the most illustrious of the "post-Bellinian School" of painters at Venice. But he was[Pg 316] born near Bergamo and "could never entirely lay aside his mountain nature in his works" (see Morelli's German Galleries, pp. 13-18, 24-31, for the best account of Palma's place in art history). He was especially great in the Holy Families, called by the Italians "Sante Conversazioni," in which the figures of sacred story are grouped together in restful attitudes and enframed with blue mountain landscapes. He painted so many of these compositions that Ruskin says—somewhat too sweepingly—that he painted "no profane subject of importance" (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. iii. § 17). He was also a magnificent painter of female and fancy portraits—a branch of art in which he rivals even Titian. Palma's works are sometimes divided into three manners—the Bellinesque, the Giorgionesque, and the blonde. Among the most famous of his productions are the "Adoration of the Shepherds," in the Louvre; the "Jacob and Rachel," at Dresden; and the altar-piece in St. Sebastiano at Vicenza—"his finest and most perfect work," according to Morelli. His "St. Barbara," in S. Maria Formosa at Venice, is also celebrated. The so-called "Bella da Tiziano," at Rome, and the "Three Sisters," at Dresden, are among the best-known of his portraits.

This fine portrait was formerly supposed to represent Ariosto (1474-1533), who was acquainted with Titian and commemorates him as one "who honours Cadore not less than Sebastiano del Piombo and Raphael honour Venice and Urbino." But the portrait bears little resemblance to the poet as he is known to us by authenticated likenesses. The title "Portrait of a Poet" is based partly on the character of the face, partly on the bush of laurel in the background. The evidence for the ascription to Palma is by no means conclusive (see Notes and Queries, Dec. 28, 1889). Mr. W. Fred Dickes has suggested—ingeniously, if not convincingly—that the portrait is of the famous "Liberator of Italy," Prospero Colonna (1464-1523), painted in 1500, when he was living in temporary retirement as a lay brother in a Benedictine monastery. Prospero is described as "tall in person, ruddy in countenance; his eyes were black, his beard reddish, and the locks of his hair of a chestnut character." The laurel would be appropriate to a victorious captain, no less than to a poet. Mr. Dickes ascribes the portrait to Giorgione (see Magazine of Art, March and April 1893). This ascription is accepted by Mr. Herbert Cook. "The conception is characteristic of Giorgione—the pensive charm, the feeling of reserve, the touch of fanciful imagination in the decorative accessories, but, above all, the extreme refinement.... Where can the like be found in Palma, or even[Pg 317] Titian? Titian is more virile in his conception, less lyrical, less fanciful; Palma, infinitely less subtle in characterisation" (Giorgione, p. 84).

637. DAPHNIS AND CHLOE.

Paris Bordone (Venetian: 1500-1570).

Paris Bordone, one of the most splendid colourists of the Venetian School, was born of a noble family of Treviso. "He was taken," says Vasari, "at the age of eight to certain of his mother's kindred in Venice, where, having studied grammar and become an excellent musician, he was sent to Titian." With him he remained for a few years, and afterwards "set himself to imitate the manner of Giorgione to the utmost of his power." "Though Venetian in his education, he took a path peculiar to himself, and it is only a very inexperienced eye that can mistake him for Giorgione or Titian. He is remarkable for a delicate rosy colour in his flesh, and for the purple, crimson, and shot tints of his draperies, which are usually in small and crumpled folds" (Kugler). His most famous work—the large picture in the Venetian Academy of "The Fisherman presenting the Ring of St. Mark to the Doge"—is a masterpiece of gorgeous colouring. "The moment you come before the picture you say, 'What a piece of colour!' To Paris the Duke, the Senate, and the miracle are all merely vehicles for flashes of scarlet and gold on marble and silk" (Ruskin's Guide to the Venetian Academy, p. 17). He painted sacred subjects, mythology, and portraits. In all alike he found occasion for the same brilliant display of flesh-tints and stuffs. Visitors to the Italian lakes will find a Holy Family by Bordone at Lovere, in the Accademia Tadini, which is another of his masterpieces. There are some fine portraits by him at Hampton Court, and No. 674 in our Gallery is a very characteristic example. Chloe in the picture before us belongs to the same type. "The ideal of beauty for women in Italy during the sixteenth century was—perhaps because so difficult of attainment!—extreme blondness. Palma seems to have had no other aim than to fill his canvases with expanses of fair flesh and yellow hair. Paris Bordone succeeded Palma as the fashionable beauty-painter, and continued the tradition" (Mary Logan: Guide to the Italian Pictures at Hampton Court, p. 28). The fame of Bordone led to his being invited to France by Francis II. in 1558-1559 to paint the ladies of the Court. He was knighted by the king. He also visited Augsburg to execute commissions for the merchant princes of that city. "He lives quietly in his own house," says Vasari, "working only at the request of princes, or others of his friends, avoiding all rivalry and those vain ambitions which do but disturb the repose of man."

Daphnis and Chloe, a shepherd and shepherdess, whose life and love were a favourite Greek story, are about to be crowned by Cupid with a wreath of myrtle.

[Pg 318]

638. THE VIRGIN AND CHILD, WITH SAINTS.

Francia (Ferrarese-Bolognese: 1450-1517).

For more important pictures by this master, see 179 and 180. The saint with the palm-branch here will be recognised in one of the angels in 180.

639. "NOLI ME TANGERE!"

Francesco Mantegna (Paduan: about 1470-1517).

Francesco was the pupil and assistant of his father Andrea, whose style is very obvious in this and the two companion pictures (1106, 1381). Francesco completed some work which Andrea had left unfinished.

(For the subject see 270.) The three little pictures by Francesco (639, 1106, 1381) are all noticeable for their dainty detail, often selected for symbolic meaning. Thus, notice here the vine with purple grapes supported on a dead tree which hangs over the figure of Christ—an emblem of life and death. The vine is the most ancient of all symbols of Christ and his Church, being founded on His own words: "I am the vine, ye are the branches." On the other side a bird is seen defending its nest against a snake which has crept up the tree; on the left is a beehive.

640. ADORATION OF THE MAGI.

Dosso Dossi (Ferrarese: 1479-1542).

Giovanni di Lutero, who adopted the name of Dosso Dossi, was the greatest colourist of the Ferrarese School. "His masterpiece is the great altar picture formerly in the Church of S. Andrea at Ferrara, but now in the public gallery of that city, and one of the principal art treasures of Italy. This sumptuous work, notwithstanding the irreparable injuries it had sustained from injudicious restorations and repaints, is still a perfect blaze of colour" (Kugler). The little picture before us gives an inadequate impression of the painter's powers. No. 1234 is more characteristic. For Dossi's real bent lay towards portraiture and romantic subjects. Portraits by him of the Dukes of Ferrara and of other personages are in the public gallery at Modena. Of his subject-pictures the "Circe" of the Borghese Gallery at Rome is the most sumptuous. The records of Dossi's career are scanty; but his works "point strongly to two widely different currents of influence, the one Venetian, the other Ferrarese." He is supposed[Pg 319] to have been for some years at Venice, but to have studied first under the Ferrarese Lorenzo Costa at Bologna. "His education in art, the main characteristics of his style, and his long residence at Ferrara, where he was attached to the court, and where he chiefly worked, entitle him to a place in the Ferrarese School.... His colouring is much admired, and justly, for its force, brilliancy, and novel harmonies: but it would be a mistake to class it with that of the great Venetian masters who had a profounder knowledge and a purer ideal of colour" (Burton). Dossi's romantic genius was no doubt fostered by his friendship with Ariosto, who celebrated Dosso and his brother Battista in somewhat exaggerated terms, naming them in the same breath with Leonardo, Mantegna, Bellini, Michael Angelo, Raphael, and Titian. "The name of Dosso," says Vasari ill-naturedly, "had then obtained greater fame from the pen of Messer Ludovico than from all the pencils and colours consumed by himself in the whole course of his life." Dosso was highly favoured, he adds, by Duke Alphonso, of Ferrara, "first because of his abilities in art, and next on account of his excellent qualities as a man and the pleasantness of his manners, which were advantages always highly acceptable to the Duke" (iii. 256). There are many pictures by Dosso in private collections in England. The exhibition of the Ferrarese School at the Burlington Fine Arts Club in 1894 included thirteen of them. He is well represented at Hampton Court. "His works," says Mary Logan in an interesting appreciation of the painter, "are distinguished from all Venetian paintings by effects of light in dreamland rather than in the everyday world (and have in them) ... a fascinating touch of the bizarre" (Kyrle Society's Guide to the Italian Pictures at Hampton Court). Many pictures passing under other names have been restored to Dosso by Morelli (see his Borghese and Doria-Pamfili Galleries, pp. 214-219).

641. THE WOMAN TAKEN IN ADULTERY.

Ludovico Mazzolino (Ferrarese: 1480-1528). See 169.

A picture chiefly remarkable, like 169, for its accessories. Notice the ornamental sculpture, the paintings in imitation of bronze relievo, and the modelled plaster work on the walls.

642. CHRIST'S AGONY IN THE GARDEN.

Garofalo (Ferrarese: 1481-1559). See 81.

It is interesting to compare this with other versions of the subject in the Gallery—e.g. 76, 726, 1417. What we may call the necessary component parts of the picture are all present—the angel with cup and cross, the sleeping apostles, a crowd[Pg 320] with torches approaching. But Garofalo's picture seems cold and unimaginative as compared with Correggio's, Bellini's, or Mantegna's.

643. THE CAPTURE OF CARTHAGENA.

Ascribed to Rinaldo Mantovano (Roman: early 16th century).

This and the companion picture, 644, formerly ascribed to Giulio Romano, are now ascribed to Rinaldo of Mantua, one of the scholars whom Giulio formed when at work in that city. Rinaldo is mentioned by Vasari as the ablest painter that Mantua ever produced, and as having been "prematurely removed from the world by death."

In the upper compartment is represented the capture of New Carthage by the Roman general, Publius Cornelius Scipio, B.C. 210. He distinguished himself on that occasion by the generosity with which he treated the Spanish hostages kept there by the Carthaginians. This is the subject of the lower compartment. Among the hostages was a girl—hardly represented here as in the story, "so beautiful that all eyes turned upon her"—whom Scipio protected from indignity and formally betrothed to her own lover, who is here advancing to touch the great man's hand, and when they brought thank-offerings to Scipio, he ordered them, as we see here, to be removed again: "accept them from me," he said, "as the girl's dowry" (Livy, xxvi. ch. 50).

644. THE RAPE OF THE SABINES.

Ascribed to Rinaldo Mantovano (Roman: early 16th century).

Romulus, the founder of Rome—so the story goes—had collected a motley crew of men about him, and demanded women from the neighbouring states wherewith to people his kingdom. And when they refused, he determined to take them by stratagem. He appointed a day for a splendid sacrifice, with public games and shows, and the neighbouring Sabines flocked with their wives and daughters to see the sight. He himself presided, sitting among his nobles, clothed in purple. As a signal for the assault, he was to rise, gather up his robe, and fold it about him. Many of the people wore swords that day, and kept their eyes upon him, watching for the signal, which was no sooner given than they drew them,[Pg 321] and, rushing on with a shout, seized the daughters of the Sabines, but quietly suffered the men to escape. This is the subject of the upper compartment of this picture. But afterwards the Sabines fought the Romans in order to recover their daughters. The battle was long and fierce, until the Sabine women threw themselves between the combatants and induced them to ratify the accomplished union with terms of friendship and alliance. This is the subject of the lower compartment—the intervention of the Sabine women in the right-hand part, the reconciliation in the left.

645. VIRGIN AND CHILD.

Albertinelli (Florentine: 1474-1515).

Mariotto Albertinelli, a pupil of Cosimo Rosselli, was the friend and assistant of the painter-monk, Fra Bartolommeo (see 1694). He himself, being of an impatient character, "was so offended with certain criticisms of his work," says Vasari, "that he gave up painting and turned publican."

This picture is often now attributed to a later painter—Sogliani, 1492-1544.

646. ST. CATHARINE.

Unknown (Umbrian School: 15th century).

This, and the companion picture (647), formerly deposited in the South Kensington Museum, were at the time of their purchase (in 1860) from the Beauconsin Collection "ascribed to Ridolfo Ghirlandajo."

647. ST. URSULA.

Unknown (Umbrian School: 15th century).

The emblem of her martyrdom, an arrow, is in her right hand.

648. VIRGIN AND CHILD.

Lorenzo di Credi (Florentine: 1459-1537). See 593.

A pretty landscape background, with a ruin, and the angel appearing to the shepherds in the distance—the whole charmingly harmonious in its blue-grays. "A pure and simple-minded[Pg 322] man, Lorenzo delighted in pure, bright, and simple landscapes, in which one reads something of the gentle Angelico's feeling. Nature with Credi, as with the saint of Fiesole, must show no stain, no trouble, no severity, no sign of the transient. Far be it from him to introduce the jagged ranges that Leonardo reared upon his far, mysterious horizons. No, he must have all that is green and blue, and cheerful" (Gilbert's Landscape in Art, p. 225). With regard to the landscape backgrounds of the Italian painters, Mr. Mackail, in a letter to F. T. Palgrave (Journals and Memories, p. 256), raises the question "whether landscape painting has not lost as well as gained by being elevated from the background into the substance of a picture; whether, that is, the moral or human interest that is essential to all great art can exist in pure landscape painting without putting a greater strain on it than it will bear. Take, for instance, the landscape backgrounds of Lorenzo di Credi's pictures in the National Gallery, or of the great Perugino triptych. Have they not a moral or spiritual quality, as they stand in their place in the picture, that they can only have through this elusive (if one may say so) treatment?"

649. PORTRAIT OF A BOY.

Angelo Bronzino (Florentine: 1502-1572).

Angelo di Cosimo, called Il Bronzino, was born in a suburb of Florence, of poor parents; he became a popular artist, "nor have we any one in our day," says Vasari, "who is more ingenious, varied, fanciful, and spirited in the jesting kind of verse." He was also good at a more serious kind of verse; amongst other things he wrote sonnets on Benvenuto Cellini's "Perseus," of which Cellini says, "they spoke so generously of my performance, in that fine style of his which is most exquisite, that this alone repaid me somewhat for the pain of my long troubles." Vasari was a great friend of his, and speaks in the warmest terms of his generosity and kindness. He was the favourite pupil of Pontormo, some of whose works, left unfinished, he completed. His portraits, if sometimes hard and cold, are often excellent, and form a gallery of great interest to the historian of Florence. In his frescoes and allegories, he belongs to the period of decline. His "Descent of Christ into Hell," in the Uffizi, is among the most celebrated of his works. "Want of thought and feeling, combined with the presumptuous treatment of colossal and imaginative subjects, renders his compositions inexpressibly chilling" (Symonds, iii. 365). Ruskin cites him as an instance of the "base grotesque of men who, having no true imagination, are apt, more than others, to try by startling[Pg 323] realism to enforce the monstrosity that has no terror in itself" (Modern Painters, vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. viii. § 8).

This charming portrait was formerly attributed to Pontormo. Sir Edward Poynter, following Frizzoni, has transferred it to Bronzino. (See Arte Italiana del Rinascimento, p. 267.)

650. PORTRAIT OF A LADY.

Angelo Bronzino (Florentine: 1502-1572). See 649.
See also (p. xix)

"In the rich costume of the sixteenth century," says the Official Catalogue,—and the picture therein resembles most portraits of the time. For it is a remarkable thing how much great art depends on gay and dainty gowns. Note first, in going round these rooms, how fondly all the best painters enjoy dress patterns. "It doesn't matter what school they belong to—Fra Angelico, Perugino, John Bellini, Giorgione, Titian, Tintoret, Veronese, Leonardo da Vinci—no matter how they differ in other respects, all of them like dress patterns; and what is more, the nobler the painter is, the surer he is to do his patterns well." Then note, as following from this fact, how much of the splendour of the pictures that we most admire depends on splendour of dress. "True nobleness of dress is a necessity to any nation which wishes to possess living art, concerned with portraiture of human nature. No good historical painting ever yet existed, or ever can exist, where the dresses of the people of the time are not beautiful; and had it not been for the lovely and fantastic dressing of the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries, neither French nor Florentine nor Venetian art could have risen to anything like the rank it reached" (see, e.g., under 294). And with regard to this nobleness of dress, it may be observed lastly how "the best dressing was never the costliest; and its effect depended much more on its beautiful and, in early times, modest arrangement, and on the simple and lovely manner of its colour, than on gorgeousness of clasp or embroidery" (Cambridge Inaugural Address, p. 11; A joy for ever, § 54).

651. AN ALLEGORY: "ALL IS VANITY."

Angelo Bronzino (Florentine: 1502-1572). See 649.

Venus, crowned as Queen of Life, yet with the apple of discord in her hand, turns her head to kiss Cupid, whose[Pg 324] wings are coloured in Delight, but behind whom is the gaunt figure of Jealousy, tearing her hair. Folly, with one foot in manacles, and the other treading on a thorn, is preparing to throw a handful of roses—

Sweet is Love and sweet is the Rose, Each has a flower and each has a thorn.

A Harpy, the personification of vain desire and fitful passion, with a human face, but with claws to her feet and with a serpent's body, is offering in one hand a piece of honey-comb, whilst she holds her sting behind her in the other. In one corner, beneath the God of Love, doves are billing and cooing; but over against them, beneath Folly, there are masks showing the hideous emptiness of human passion. And behind them all is Time, with wings to speed his course and the hour-glass on his shoulders to mark his seasons, preparing to let down the veil which Pleasure, with grapes twined in her hair, and with the scowl of angry disappointment on her face, seeks in vain to lift—

"Redeem mine hours—the space is brief— While in my glass the sand-grains shiver, And measureless thy joy or grief, When Time and thou shalt part for ever!"

Scott: The Antiquary.

This picture—in some ways harsh and vulgar—was originally painted for Francis I. of France. For a note on its crude colouring, see 270.

652. CHARITY.

Francesco Salviati (Florentine: 1510-1563).

Francesco Rossi, called "de' Salviati" from his patron, the Cardinal of that name, studied under Andrea del Sarto, and was an imitator of Michael Angelo. He was a great friend of Vasari, whose life of Salviati gives a most interesting account of their intimacy, especially of their early student days, when they "met together and went on festival days or at other times to copy a design from the best works wherever these were to be found dispersed about the city of Florence." In 1548 Salviati settled in Rome, where he was much employed.

The usual pictorial representation of Charity, as a woman surrounded by children and giving suck, is the same as Spenser's description of "Charissa"—

[Pg 325]

She was a woman in her freshest age, Of wondrous beauty, and of bounty rare.... Her necke and brests were ever open bare, That aye thereof her babes might sucke their fill.... A multitude of babes about her hong, Playing their sportes, that joy'd her to behold; Whom still she fed whiles they were weake and young, But thrust them forth still as they wexed old.
The Faërie Queene, i. 10. xxx. xxxi.

653. HUSBAND AND WIFE.

Unknown (Early Flemish: 15th century).

This picture, formerly ascribed to Roger van der Weyden, and called "The Painter and his Wife," is delightfully typical of the Flemish ideal both in man and woman—"the man shrewd and determined, the woman sweet and motherly." "They are not fine of figure nor graceful of limb, but, with hardly an exception, their faces tell us that they are men of tried capacity and learnt experience. Through the eyes of many of them glances a happy, childlike soul enough, but the mind is almost invariably a slow-moving, solid power ... and such as they, were the artists who painted them; they possessed the same industry, they admired the same qualities. The virtue of honest strength, which made the men of Flanders the merchant princes of Europe, was the virtue whose traces the artists of Flanders loved to observe.... They care little for mystery, little for pity, little for enthusiasm.... They love a man whose visage tells the strength of his character, who has weathered the buffetings of many a storm, and bears on his visage the marks of the struggle" (Conway's Early Flemish Artists, p. 104).

654. THE MAGDALEN.

Later School of Roger van der Weyden (Early Flemish: 1400-about 1464). See 664.
See also (p. xix)

Known for the Magdalen by the small vase at her feet—emblem, in all the religious painters, of the alabaster box of ointment—"the symbol at once of her conversion and her love." In these "reading Magdalens" she is represented as now reconciled to heaven, and magnificently attired—in reference to her former state of worldly prosperity. "It is[Pg 326] difficult for us, in these days, to conceive the passionate admiration and devotion with which the Magdalen was regarded by her votaries in the Middle Ages. The imputed sinfulness of her life only brought her nearer to them. Those who did not dare to lift up their eyes to the more saintly models of purity and holiness,—the martyrs who had suffered in the cause of chastity,—took courage to invoke her intercession" (Mrs. Jameson: Sacred and Legendary Art, p. 205). Hence the numerous Magdalens to be met with in nearly every picture gallery; in art decidedly there has been "more joy over one sinner that repenteth than over ninety-and-nine that need no repentance."

"This picture is undoubtedly by the unknown master who painted two remarkable panels formerly in the Abbey of Flémalle in Belgium, but now in the Städel Museum at Frankfort-on-Maine. They present respectively the standing figure of the Virgin with the Infant at her breast, and the figure of St. Veronica, as an elderly woman, holding before her the sacred napkin on which is the impression of our Lord's visage. These, and a third panel in the same museum, representing the Trinity, but, unlike the others, painted in monochrome, must have belonged to a large altar-piece in many compartments, of which it is quite possible the small picture above described may have formed one" (Official Catalogue). Mr. Claude Phillips, on the other hand, while admiring the delicate and exquisite colour of our picture and the enamel-like quality of its surface, sees in it no resemblance to the works described above (see Academy, Sept. 28, 1889).

655. THE READING MAGDALEN.

Bernard van Orley (Flemish: about 1490-1542).
See also (p. xix)

This painter, who studied in Raphael's school, was a designer for tapestry (the staple industry of Brussels in his time) and stained glass, as well as what is now exclusively called an artist, and had all a designer's care for little things. He superintended the manufacture of the tapestries of the Vatican made from Raphael's cartoons, and there are some tapestries by him in the great hall at Hampton Court.

Notice the prettily designed cup in ivory and gold—symbolical of the box of precious ointment offered by the Magdalen to her Lord. For the subject see under last picture.

[Pg 327]

656: A MAN'S PORTRAIT.

Mabuse (Flemish: about 1470-1541).

Jan Gossart, called Mabuse from the town in Hainault (now in France) where he was born, is interesting in the history of art as the man who began the emigration of Flemish painters to Italy. He set out in 1508 in the suite of Philip of Burgundy, and remained about ten years in Italy where he copied the works of Leonardo and Michael Angelo. He was one of the illuminators of the famous Grimani Breviary in the Library at Venice. The finest example of the first, or Flemish period of Mabuse is the "Adoration of the Magi" at Castle Howard. To his second period, in which Italian influence is discernible, belongs the altar-piece in the Cathedral of Prague. There is a good portrait group by him at Hampton Court representing the children of King Christian II. of Denmark. A very fine work, attributed to Mabuse, has recently been added to the Gallery, No. 1689.

The sitter here is of the Flemish national type, but the Italian influence may be seen in the Renaissance architecture of the background.

657. A DUTCH GENTLEMAN AND LADY.

Jacob Cornelissen (Dutch: about 1475-1555).

This painter was the master of Jan Schorel (720), and is mentioned by Van Mander as a great artist. Most of his altar-pieces for the churches of Holland perished during the Reformation. He was also an engraver, and his woodcuts were as much admired as the copperplates of his contemporary, Lucas van Leyden. He had a son, Dirk, who was also a good painter, especially of portraits.

Presumably a husband and wife—the donors, we may suppose, of an altar-piece. Their patron saints attend them. St. Peter lays his hand approvingly on the man's shoulder. The woman, as "the weaker vessel," seems to be supported by St. Paul. It should be noticed that in sacred and legendary art these two saints are almost always introduced together—St. Peter, with the keys, representing the church of the converted Jews, St. Paul that of the Gentiles: his common attributes are a book (denoting his Epistles), and a sword, signifying the manner of his martyrdom, and being emblematic also of "the good fight" fought by the faithful Christian with "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

[Pg 328]

658. THE DEATH OF THE VIRGIN.

After Schongauer. (German-Swabian: 1450-about 1488).
See also (p. xix)

A picture, painted perhaps by Hugo van der Goes, on the lines of a print by Martin Schongauer, who was known to his contemporaries as "the glory of painters" and "Martin the Beautiful." He was born at Colmar, but probably studied under Roger van der Weyden. By some the picture is ascribed to the anonymous "Master of Flémalle," a contemporary of Roger van der Weyden: for whom see a little picture in Room XVI., now (1908) lent to the Gallery by Mr. Salting.

The "absolute joy in ugliness," which Ruskin finds most strongly exemplified in some of Schongauer's prints (Modern Painters, vol. iv. pt. v. ch. xix. § 18), is not altogether absent from this picture. A more unpleasant bedchamber, with its unseemly crowd of fat bustling apostles (notice the old fellow puffing away at a censer on the left), it would be hard to conceive. One is glad to escape through the open window to the pretty little view of the square.

659. PAN AND SYRINX.

Johann Rottenhammer (German: 1564-1623).
See also (p. xix)

This painter was born at Munich. Early in life he went to Rome, where he obtained some reputation. He next went to Venice, where he executed some pictures in imitation of Tintoretto, who was then still living. On his return to his native country he settled at Augsburg, and was much patronised by the Emperor Rudolph II.

The nymph Syrinx, beloved by Pan and flying from his pursuit, takes refuge among some bulrushes. The god, thinking to grasp her, finds only reeds in his hand—

And while he sighs his ill-success to find, The tender canes were shaken by the wind, And breathed a mournful air, unheard before, That, much surprising Pan, yet pleased him more.
Dryden, from Ovid's Metamorphoses.

He formed the reeds into a pipe, hence the name of Syrinx given to the "Pan's pipe," see 94. The background of this picture (which is executed on copper) is said to be by Jan Brueghel (for whom see 1287).

[Pg 329]

660. A MAN'S PORTRAIT.

Ascribed to François Clouet (French: about 1510-1572).

François Clouet, like his father Jeannet before him, was court painter to the King of France. Jeannet was, however, probably a Netherlander; and François remained faithful to the old northern style of painting. This and the other portrait ascribed to him might well be taken for works of the Flemish school.

In the costume of the 16th century: dated 1543.

661. THE MADONNA DI SAN SISTO.

After Raphael. (See under 1171.)

A tracing from the original picture by Raphael at Dresden, by Jakob Schlesinger (1793-1855)—a Professor of Painting at Berlin.

663. THE RESURRECTION.

Fra Angelico (Florentine: 1387-1455).

Artists may be divided according to the subjects of their choice into Purists, Naturalists, and Sensualists. The first take the good in the world or in human nature around them and leave the evil; the second render all that they see, sympathising with all the good, and yet confessing the evil also; the third perceive and imitate evil only (Stones of Venice, vol. ii. ch. vi. § 51). Of the first class Fra Giovanni da Fiesole is the leading type. His life was largely spent in the endeavour to imagine the beings of another world.[158] His baptismal name was Guido, but he changed it early in life to Giovanni, when he entered a Dominican convent in Florence. He was once offered the archbishopric of his city, but he refused it: "He who practises the art of painting," he said, "has need of quiet, and should live without cares and anxieties; he who would do the work of Christ must dwell [Pg 330]continually with Him." He was given the name of "Angelico," and after his death the style and distinction of "Beato" (the Blessed), for his purity and heavenly-mindedness, and it is said of him that "he was never known to be angry, or to reprove, save in gentleness and love. Nor did he ever take pencil in hand without prayer, and he could not paint the Passion of Christ without tears of sorrow." By this "purity of life, habitual elevation of thought, and natural sweetness of disposition, he was enabled to express the sacred affections upon the human countenance as no one ever did before or since. In order to effect clearer distinction between heavenly beings and those of this world, he represents the former as clothed in draperies of the purest colour, crowned with glories of burnished gold, and entirely shadowless. With exquisite choice of gesture, and disposition of folds of drapery, this mode of treatment gives, perhaps, the best idea of spiritual beings which the human mind is capable of forming. It is, therefore, a true ideal; but the mode in which it is arrived at (being so far mechanical and contradictory of the appearances of nature) necessarily precludes those who practise it from being complete masters of their art. It is always childish, but beautiful in its childishness" (Modern Painters, vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. vi. § 4). Angelico, it may be added, looking on his work as an inspiration from God, never altered or improved his designs when once completed, saying that "such was the will of God." Angelico's work, says Ruskin in a later passage, in which he discusses the weakness of the monastic ideal, will always retain its power, "as the gentle words of a child will." Yet "the peculiar phenomenon in his art is, to me, not its loveliness, but its weakness.... Of all men deserving to be called great, Fra Angelico permits to himself the least pardonable faults and the most palpable follies. There is evidently within him a sense of grace and power of invention as great as Ghiberti's; ... [but] comparing him with contemporary great artists of equal grace and invention, one peculiar character remains noticeable in him—which, logically, we ought therefore to attribute to the religious fervour;—and that distinctive character is, the contented indulgence of his own weaknesses, and perseverance in his own ignorances." Passing to consider the sources of the peculiar charm which we nevertheless feel in Angelico's work, Ruskin mentions "for one minor thing, an exquisite variety and brightness of ornamental work"; while "much of the impression of sanctity" is "dependent on a singular repose and grace of gesture, consummating itself in the floating, flying, and, above all, in the dancing groups" (Ethics of the Dust, pp. 150-152). Fra Angelico is said to have begun his artistic career as an illuminator of manuscripts—a tradition which is entirely in accordance with the style of his later works. In 1409 he left Fiesole for Foligno and Cortona. In the churches of the latter place fine altar-pieces by him are still preserved. From 1418 to 1436 he was again at Fiesole. In the latter year he was invited to Florence to decorate the new Convent of St. Mark. His frescoes here occupied him nine years. "This convent, now converted into a national monument, is a very museum[Pg 331] of Fra Angelico—cloisters, refectory, chapter-house, guest-room, corridor, stairs, and not less than nineteen or twenty cells, bear witness to a skill and leisure alike obsolete." Copies of several of the frescoes may be seen in the Arundel Society's collection. In 1445 Fra Angelico was called to Rome, where he painted the chapel of Nicolas V. in the Vatican (also copied and engraved for the Arundel Society). At Orvieto in 1447 he commenced some paintings in the chapel of the Madonna di San Brixio, which were afterwards completed by Signorelli. The last years of the painter's life were spent at Rome. He was buried in the Church of the Minerva, where his recumbent effigy (an emaciated figure in the Dominican habit) may still be seen. "Some works are for Earth," says a line in his Latin epitaph, "others for Heaven."

The weakness and the strength of the painter are alike well seen in this picture of Christ, with the banner of the resurrection surrounded by the Blessed. The representation of Christ Himself is weak and devoid of dignity; but what can be more beautiful than the surrounding angel choirs, "with the flames on their white foreheads waving brighter as they move, and the sparkles streaming from their purple wings like the glitter of many suns upon a sounding sea, listening in the pauses of alternate song for the prolonging of the trumpet blast, and the answering of psaltery and cymbal, throughout the endless deep, and from all the star shores of heaven" (Modern Painters, vol. ii. pt. iii. sec. ii. ch. v. § 21).[159] No two of the 266 figures are alike in face or form, though each is perfect in grace and beauty.[160] In the central compartment the seraphim (red) are on Christ's right, the cherubim (blue) on His left. In the compartment to Christ's left are, amongst other patriarchs and [Pg 332]saints, Abraham with the sword, Noah with the ark, Moses with the tables of law, Aaron with his name on his mitre, and below them St. Agnes with the Lamb, and St. Catherine with her wheel. The martyrs bear palms in their hands; some wear wreaths of roses, others the crown of thorns. In the compartment to Christ's left are the Virgin, St. Peter with the keys, and the Evangelists. On the extreme ends on either side are those of the painter's brother Dominicans, in their black robes, who have joined the company of the "Blessed."

Multitudes—multitudes—stood up in bliss, Made equal to the angels, glorious, fair; With harps, palms, wedding-garments, kiss of peace, And crowned and haloed hair.
Each face looked one way like a moon new-lit, Each face looked one way toward its Sun of Love; Drank love, and bathed in love, and mirrored it, And knew no end thereof.
Glory touched glory, on each blessèd head, Hands locked dear hands never to sunder more: These were the new-begotten from the dead Whom the great birthday bore.
Christina Rossetti: From House to Home.

This picture was formerly the predella of an altar-piece in San Domenico at Fiesole. It was sold by the monks in 1826 to the Prussian Consul in Rome, from whose nephew it was purchased for our Gallery. "The price paid was £3500. The additional and incidental expenses, in consequence of the demands of the Roman Government before allowing the exportation, were unusually great. Those demands, ostensibly founded on the excellence and celebrity of the picture, were admitted to be partly also suggested by the state of the Papal finances." The British Consul finally paid £700 for the permission of exportation (Director's Report, 1861). The altar-piece to which our picture belonged remains sadly damaged in situ.

664. THE DEPOSITION IN THE TOMB.

Roger van der Weyden[161] (Early Flemish: 1400-1464).
See also (p. xix)

This painter was born at Tournai, where he was known as Rogelet de la Pasture. He afterwards went to Brussels, where he assumed [Pg 333]his Flemish name, and where in 1436 he was appointed town painter. For the Hall of Justice there he painted four pictures, which are now lost, but of which the designs are preserved in a set of tapestries in Berne Cathedral. He was the chief master (as a teacher, that is) of the early Flemish school. It was he who carried Flemish art into Italy (see 772), where he was in 1449-1450. "Contemporary Italian writers laud the pathos, the brilliant colouring, and the exhaustive finish of his works." He on his side gained something from the study of Italian masters. The composition of many of his great works—e.g. "The Last Judgment" at Beaune, the "Nativity" at Berlin, and "The Adoration of the Magi" at Munich—bears evidence of Italian influence. Nearer home, the school of the Lower Rhine in its later time was an offshoot of his school: and farther up the river, Martin Schongauer, at Colmar, was an immediate pupil of his. He set the fashions in several subjects—such as descents from the cross, and hundreds of followers imitated his designs. What gave his art this wide currency was the way in which it united the older religious feeling, from which Van Eyck had cut himself adrift, with the new naturalism and improved technique which Van Eyck had introduced. His French blood, too, gave his art an element of vivid emotion, which was lacking in the staid control of Van Eyck. He is especially praised for his "representations of human desires and dispositions, whether grief, pain, or joy." He thus painted for the religious needs of the people at large; and though an inferior artist, enjoyed a far wider influence than Van Eyck. "Less intensely realistic than Van Eyck, less gifted with the desire and the power to reproduce the phenomena of nature for their own sake, and in their completeness, he thought more," says Sir F. Burton, "of expressing the feelings common to him and the pious worshippers for whose edification he wrought. His figures exhibit deep, if sometimes rather overstrained, pathos. He strove with naïf earnestness to bring home to the senses the reality of the incidents connected with the last sufferings and death of the Saviour. Still he was naturalistic too, in the sense in which that term applies to all painters of the early Flemish school, in that he imitated with minuteness every object which he thought necessary to his compositions; but of the broad principles of chiaroscuro and subordination which Van Eyck had so wonderfully grasped, he had small perception. His scenes seem filled with the light of early morning. His colour, pale in the flesh-tints with greyish modelling, is varied and delicately rich in the clothing and other stuffs introduced. His landscape abounds in freshness and greenth. Thus he transferred to his oil pictures the light and brilliance of missal painting, an art which perhaps he had himself practised." "He occasionally practised a very different technical method from that usually employed in Flanders—that is to say, he painted in pure tempera colours on unprimed linen, the flesh tints especially being laid on extremely thin, so that the texture of the linen remains unhidden. Other colours, such as a smalto blue used for draperies, are applied in greater body, and[Pg 334] the whole is left uncovered by any varnish" (Middleton). Of this method the present picture is a fine example.

This picture—"one of the most exquisite in feeling of the early Flemish school" (Poynter)—is full of sincere emotion. "Roger van der Weyden is especially known by his touching conception of some of the scenes of the Passion. He excelled in the lull of suppressed feeling. The picture of the Entombment by him in the National Gallery is as much more sad to the heart than the passionate Italian conception, as a deep sigh sometimes than a flood of tears. We could almost wish those mourners, with their compressed lips, red eyelids, and slowly trickling tears, would weep more—it would grieve us less. But evidently the violence of the first paroxysm of grief is over, and this is the exhaustion after it. The tide is ebbing as with all new sorrow, too soon to flow again. No finer conception of manly sorrow, sternly repressed, exists than in the heads of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, who devote themselves the more strenuously to their task in order to conceal their grief. Strange that a painter of such exquisite refinement of feeling should adhere to so hideous a type of Christ as that which appears here" (Mrs. Jameson's History of our Lord, ii. 246). It is interesting to contrast the figure of Christ with that in Francia's picture (180). In painting such subjects the Italians of the best time endured the physical painfulness, the Northern temperament rejoiced in it. The painters in so doing were only meeting the wishes of their patrons. There is a contract, for instance, still in existence in which it is expressly stipulated that the form of our Lord in a picture ordered at Bruges shall be painted "in all respects like a dead man."

665. THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST.

Piero della Francesca (Umbrian: about 1416-1492).

This great Umbrian master was a native of Borgo San Sepolcro in Umbria, but studied in Florence, where it is probable that he was a pupil of Paolo Uccello (see 583). A combination of the characteristics of the two schools is to be seen in the work of Piero, who had at the same time a marked individuality of his own. "He has the imaginative impulse, the Umbrian sense of an inner, an almost mystic beauty, of a certain aloofness from earth and uplifting of the soaring spirit; and yet on the other side of his character he is strongly scientific; he studies perspective, the projection of shadows, the scheme of[Pg 335] values; he fills his work with light and atmosphere, and improves on the oil methods of the earlier Florentines" (Brinton's Renaissance in Italian Art, iii. 85). "By dignity of portraiture, by loftiness of style, and by a certain poetical solemnity of imagination he raised himself above the level of the mass of his contemporaries. Those who have once seen his fresco of the 'Resurrection' at Borgo San Sepolcro [in the Pinacoteca] will never forget the deep impression of solitude and aloofness from all earthly things produced by it" (Symonds, iii. 170). A copy of this fresco may be seen in the Arundel Society's collection. The picture now before us also well illustrates the skill in dealing with technical difficulties and the solemn grandeur of conception which characterise the painter. Piero della Francesca was so called after his mother,[162] "Francesca's Peter," for, says Vasari, "he had been brought up solely by herself, who furthermore assisted him in the attainment of that learning to which his good fortune had destined him." He received at first a scientific education, and possessed, adds Vasari, "a considerable knowledge of Euclid, inasmuch that he understood all the most important properties of rectilinear bodies better than any other geometrician." In a treatise on perspective, written in the vulgar tongue, he reduced the science to "rules which have hardly admitted of subsequent improvement." These studies influenced Piero's tendencies in art. "The laws of aerial perspective, of the harmony of colours, the proportions of light and shade, and the position of objects in space were equally developed by one whose feeling for precise calculation went pari passu with that of pictorial representation. In this combination of science and art he was strictly the precursor of Leonardo da Vinci. Fra Luca Paccioli, a celebrated mathematician, and an intimate friend of Piero, was in later years in constant communication with Leonardo" (Layard, i. 215). Piero probably acquired the new method of oil painting from Domenico Veneziano (see 766), whom he assisted in some wall paintings in S. Maria Nuova in Florence in 1439, and with whom he afterwards worked at Loreto. Some of his best works are to be seen in his native city, and at Arezzo he painted a remarkable series of frescoes for the church of S. Francesco. Piero was also employed at Urbino, where he appears to have been the guest of Raphael's father, Giovanni Santi. He worked also in Rimini and Ferrara, and was called to Rome to paint two frescoes in the Vatican, which were afterwards destroyed to make room for the works of Raphael. His later, like his earlier years, were devoted to mathematical studies, and in his old age "the ban Of blindness struck both palette from his thumb And pencil from his finger." Among his pupils Vasari mentions Perugino and Signorelli.

A picture of great interest from a technical point of view, as [Pg 336]showing an advancing skill, especially in perspective. The feet of Christ are finely "foreshortened"; the tops of the mountains are correctly reflected on the surface of the river in the foreground; in the middle distance there is a foreshortened view of a street leading to a fortified town, and the anatomy of the figure stripping himself for baptism is very carefully rendered. This very realistic figure of a convert strikes a curious note; Piero's paintings are "the working out of problems before our very eyes." In these technical respects Piero resembles Paolo Uccello, while there is also a striking affinity of style between the landscapes of the two painters. "The peculiar construction of these landscapes, with steep mountains of an uncommon type, is the more remarkable because they are the starting-point of all the later achievements in realistic landscape painting" (Richter's Italian Art in the National Gallery, p. 16). "The study of natural phenomena," says Mr. Monkhouse, "is everywhere apparent. The pomegranate trees are the earliest attempt in the National Gallery to give what may be called the portrait of a particular tree—the habit of its growth, the special character of its leafage. The hedge in Uccello's 'Battle of St. Egidio' is the nearest approach to it. He has striven to imagine the scene as it actually might have happened. Sundry worthies, in strange rich costumes, look on from a further bank. Nothing is 'newer' in the picture than the carefully studied reflections of their garments in the water. The effect, so beautifully rendered by Burne-Jones in his picture of 'Venus's Looking-Glass,' Piero was the first to paint, if not to observe" (In the National Gallery, p. 106).

The subject is the baptism in Jordan. Christ, under the shade of a pomegranate tree, is being "baptized of John in Jordan; and straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him" (Mark i. 9, 10). The spiritual feeling of the scene is enhanced by the sweet presence of the attendant angels,—crowned with wreaths of flowers, instead of the nimbus. It is an old belief that angels watch over men's birth, and so too they are represented as presiding over the new birth, which is typified by the rite of baptism. "What solemnity in the bearing of Christ as He permits John to pour over Him the water of Jordan which is flowing in a shallow stream at his feet! How modest the deportment of the assistant angels at His side! How the trees, whose every leaf in the dense foliage[Pg 337] is distinctly outlined, seem even to hush their whispers that nothing may disturb the nearness of God, who looking down from heaven as out of the far distance, makes his presence felt" (Grimm's Life of Raphael, p. 46). This picture, which seems never to have been finished and shows the under-painting, was formerly the principal altar-piece of the Priory of St. John the Baptist at Borgo San Sepolcro.

666. THE ANNUNCIATION.

Fra Filippo Lippi (Florentine: about 1406-1469).
I am poor brother Lippo, by your leave!... Yes, I'm the painter, since you style me so.... For me, I think I speak as I was taught; I always see the garden and God there A-making man's wife: and, my lesson learned, The value and significance of flesh, I can't unlearn ten minutes afterwards.... Why can't a painter lift each foot in turn, Left foot and right foot, go a double step, Make his flesh liker and his soul more like, Both in their order?
Browning: Fra Lippo Lippi.

This and the companion picture by the same artist (667) were painted for Cosmo de' Medici (this one is marked with Cosmo's crest—three feathers tied together in a ring), and are identified with a story told by Vasari, which Browning worked up in his poem on the artist. Cosmo, knowing the artist's ways, kept him under lock and key that his work might be the quicker done, but Lippi one night contrived a way of escape, and "from that time forward," adds Vasari, "Cosmo gave the artist more liberty, and was by this means more promptly and effectually served by the painter, and was wont to say that men of genius were not beasts of burden, but forms of light." Filippo was the son of a butcher, and, being left an orphan, was committed to the charge of the monks of the Carmelite convent close to which his parents had lived. At the age of fourteen or fifteen he was induced to take the vows of the order. At this time he must have seen Masaccio painting in the famous Branacci chapel of the conventual church, S. M. del Carmine. Lippi himself executed some works (now destroyed) in the church, and having by this time found his true vocation, he was in 1431 permitted to leave the convent in order to be free to practise his art. Vasari relates that during an excursion on the Adriatic, Lippi was taken captive by some Moorish pirates. But after a while he found opportunity to draw a whole-length portrait of his master with charcoal on a white wall, which the pirates deemed so marvellous that they set him at liberty. This tale, however, is inconsistent with the facts of Lippi's life as now known[Pg 338] from documentary evidence. Lippi enjoyed the patronage of the Medici, and he received sinecure offices also from the Pope. During the years 1431-53 many of his best panel pictures were painted. Among these may be mentioned the "Coronation of the Virgin" (Academy, Florence), in which is introduced a portrait of himself with the tonsure, and bearing a scroll inscribed Is perfecit opus, and the "Virgin adoring the Infant, borne by two Angels" (Uffizi), which was selected by Ruskin for one of his four "Lesson Photographs," and is fully described by him in Fors, 1875, p. 307. At the end of the period in question Lippi undertook the principal work of his life, which occupied him for several years, the series of frescoes in the choir of the Duomo at Prato. "These magnificent paintings," says Morelli, "were executed at about the same time as those equally celebrated by Mantegna in the Cappella degli Eremitani at Padua. Whoever would learn to know the aspirations and artistic power of that period in the highest utterances, has only to study those two wall-paintings. If we are carried away by Fra Filippo's grandeur of conception and his pure dramatic vividness, we are enthralled, on the other hand, by Mantegna's greater fulness of expression and his perfect execution" (German Galleries, p. 71). While engaged on these frescoes, the friar-painter was appointed chaplain to the convent of Santa Margherita. Here he became enamoured of one of the nuns, Lucrezia Buti, and having persuaded the abbess to let Lucrezia sit to him for a study of the Madonna, he carried her off to his house. She remained with him for two years, and bore him a son, the renowned painter, Filippino Lippi (293). Her portrait is to be seen in the Virgin of the "Assumption," now in the Communal Gallery at Prato. She was induced to return to the convent, and took fresh vows, but again escaped to seek the friar's protection. The scandal now became serious, and Filippo was threatened with punishment. But Cosmo de' Medici intervened, and the Pope issued a bull releasing the erring pair from their vows and sanctioning their marriage. Lippi's last work was a series of frescoes in the choir of the Duomo at Spoleto. Here he died, from an illness ascribed by some to poison, leaving the work to be finished by his assistant, Fra Diamante. He was buried in the Duomo. Over his tomb Lorenzo de' Medici caused a monument to be erected, and Poliziano wrote Latin couplets to commemorate the fame of the friar-painter. "His art," says Ruskin, "is the finest, out and out, that ever monk did, which I attribute myself to what is usually considered faultful in him, his having run away with a pretty novice out of a convent.... The real gist of the matter is that Lippi did, openly and bravely, what the highest prelates in the Church did basely and in secret; also he loved, where they only lusted; and he has been proclaimed therefore by them—and too foolishly believed by us—to have been a shameful person"[163] (Fors Clavigera, 1872, xxii. 4; Ariadne [Pg 339]Florentina, vi. § 5 n.). In other words, Lippi, while true to his religion, did not shut himself out from the world—to use the theological language, he "sanctified," not "crucified," the flesh. His pictures are "nobly religious work,—examples of the most perfect unison of religious myth with faithful realism of human nature yet produced in this world" (Fors Clavigera, 1876, p. 187). "The human element, with him so naïve and spontaneous, gives," says Burton, "a singular charm to his works. His colour is golden and broad, and his drapery finely cast and of fascinatingly broken tones." Among his pupils (besides his son) were Pesellino and Botticelli.

Here the traditional legend of the Annunciation is faithfully adhered to, and there is much "unusually mystic spiritualism of conception" in the dove, the Spirit of God, proceeding in rays of golden light from the hand of an unseen Presence; but the painter delights to elaborate also every element of human interest and worldly beauty. Note, for instance, the prettiness of the angel's face, the gracefulness of his figure, the sheen of his wings, and the dainty splendour of the Virgin's chamber.

667. ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST AND SAINTS.

Fra Filippo Lippi (Florentine: 1406-1469). See 666.

Lippi's general characteristics, noticed above under the companion picture (666), may again be seen here. The "other saints" are Sts. Francis (on the spectator's right, with the stigmata), Lawrence, and Cosmas; on the left Sts. Damianus, Anthony, and Peter Martyr—this last a particularly "human" saint. Lippi was a monk himself, and drew his saints in the human resemblance of good "brothers" that he knew. "I will tell you what Lippi must have taught any boy whom he loved. First, humility, and to live in joy and peace, injuring no man—if such innocence might be. Nothing is so manifest in every face by him as its gentleness and rest." It is characteristic of Lippi, too, that the saints should be represented sitting in so pretty a garden. Secondly,—"a little thing it seems, but was a great one,—love of flowers. No one draws such lilies or such daisies as Lippi. Botticelli beat him after[Pg 340]wards in roses, but never in lilies" (Ariadne Florentina, vi. § 9).

668. THE BEATO FERRETTI.

Carlo Crivelli (Venetian: painted 1468-1493). See 602.

Gabriele Ferretti (to whose family Pope Pius IX. belonged) was Superior of the Franciscans in the March of Ancona, and died in 1456. Thirty years later his body was found incorrupt, and was deposited in a sarcophagus in the church of S. Francesco ad Alto at Ancona. It is conjectured that the present picture was painted for that church in commemoration of the discovery of the body. The artist shows us the holy man in enjoyment of the vision of the beatified. "The Beato (in Franciscan habit) has been reading or praying, at the entrance of a cave near a church, in a quiet country spot from which a road leads to a town in the distance. Suddenly in the sky the Virgin and Child appear (surrounded by the Vesica glory, see No. 564). He has laid down his book, put off his sandals, and kneels in prayer and adoration.... The masterly treatment of the drapery, the perfection of the forms, the architecture, the sense of spaciousness in the landscape, all point to the maturity of Crivelli's art.... The landscape, for general effect, is one of his best, though the treatment of the rocks and of the foreground is still conventional. The most striking objects in it are the leafless tree-stems, the counterpart, as it were, of the hard and bony human figures of which he was so fond, and therefore an illustration of his love for anatomical forms. His seeking after realism again appears in the two ducks painted with minute precision. In contrast to them we get the festoon of fruit at the top of the picture, illustrating the conventional and decorative aspect of his art. No picture of his suggests more completely both the range and the limitations of Crivelli" (G. M. Rushforth: Carlo Crivelli, pp. 65, 87).

669. ST. SEBASTIAN, ST. ROCH AND ST. DEMETRIUS.

L'Ortolano (Ferrarese: died about 1525).

Giambattista Benvenuti, called L'Ortolano (the gardener) from his father's occupation, is still a problem in art history, details of his[Pg 341] life being so uncertain that even the existence of him is disputed by some critics. There is, however, documentary evidence which proves his existence. This noble picture was, until 1844, the altar-piece of the parochial church of Bondeno, near Ferrara, where it was generally considered the painter's masterpiece. His life and works are generally confounded with those of Garofalo, to which painter Morelli ascribes the present work. "Garofalo's characteristics are apparent in the form of hand, the brown flesh-tints, the drapery, the landscape, and the small stones in the foreground" (Italian Painters: The Borghese and Doria-Pamfili Galleries in Rome, p. 208). On the other hand, Venturi has drawn up a list of works, showing common characteristics and common differences from Garofalo, which he therefore attributes to Ortolano. To this list should be added Lord Wimborne's "St. Joseph presenting the Infant Christ." Among the characteristics noticeable in our picture are houses planted on posts; long, straight streaks in the background turning to white; trees with large, sparse, yellowing leaves. "Garofalo never achieved the rapt expression of St. Demetrius" (see the argument of Venturi quoted in Burlington Fine Arts Club's Catalogue, 1894).

In the centre is St. Sebastian, tied to a tree, and pierced with arrows; whilst in the foreground is a cross-bow, lying uselessly. For the story is that Sebastian was a noble youth who was promoted to the command of a company in the Prætorian Guards by the Emperor Diocletian:

"At this time he was secretly a Christian, but his faith only rendered him more loyal to his masters; more faithful in all his engagements; more mild, more charitable; while his favour with his prince, and his popularity with the troops, enabled him to protect those who were persecuted for Christ's sake, and to convert many to the truth. Among his friends were two young men of noble family, soldiers like himself; their names were Marcus and Marcellinus." And when they were tortured for being Christians, Sebastian, "neglecting his own safety, rushed forward, and, by his exhortations, encouraged them rather to die than to renounce their Redeemer. Then Diocletian ordered that Sebastian also should be bound to a stake and shot to death with arrows. The archers left him for dead; but in the middle of the night, Irene, the widow of one of his martyred friends, came with her attendants to take his body away, that she might bury it honourably; and it was found that none of the arrows had pierced him in a vital part, and that he yet breathed. So they carried him to her house, and his wounds were dressed; and the pious widow tended him night and day, until he had wholly recovered" (Mrs. Jameson: Sacred and Legendary Art, 1850, pp. 343, 344).

This legend was one of the special favourites with the[Pg 342] mediæval painters: "the display of beautiful form, permitted and even consecrated by devotion, is so rare in Christian representations, that we cannot wonder at the avidity with which this subject was seized" (ibid. p. 346). It is instructive to compare the noble use of the subject made in this picture, in which the great technical skill of the painter is subordinate to the beautiful display of a sacred legend, with the "St. Sebastian" of Pollajuolo (292), in which, as we have seen, the subject is used solely—and painfully—for the display of such skill. With St. Sebastian is here represented, on his left, his contemporary, St. Demetrius. He is clad in armour, for he also served under Diocletian, being Proconsul of Greece, and like St. Sebastian used his high office to preach Christ. On the other side is St. Roch (for whose legend see 735). He is a much later saint (about A.D. 1300), and is associated with St. Sebastian as another patron of the plague-stricken. Arrows have been from all antiquity the emblem of pestilence; and from the association of arrows with his legend, St. Sebastian succeeded in Christian times to the honours enjoyed by Apollo, in Greek mythology, as the protector against pestilence.

670. A KNIGHT OF ST. STEPHEN.

Angelo Bronzino (Florentine: 1502-1572). See 649.
See also (p. xx)

He wears the robes of his order (with a red cross bordered with yellow), an order established by Cosimo, Duke of Tuscany, and charged with the defence of the coasts against pirates. The knight is a good specimen of the courtier aristocracy with which Cosimo surrounded himself. The knights of St. Stephen afterwards won much honour by their prowess, but they were men of culture also: notice that this one holds a book in his hand, which rests on a table richly carved in the taste of the time. This portrait was presented to the nation by Mr. Watts, R.A.

671. MADONNA AND CHILD ENTHRONED

Garofalo (Ferrarese: 1481-1559). See 81.

This fine picture was originally the principal altar-piece of the church of San Guglielmo (St. William) at Ferrara. Hence the introduction of that saint (on our left)—a beautiful face, into which the artist has put, one may think, all his local piety. The[Pg 343] saint is in armour, for William—the institutor of the hermit order of Guglielmites—was originally a soldier, and was "given," says one of his biographers, "unto a licentious manner of living, too common among persons of that profession." It was to escape from such temptations that he became a holy penitent, and fought thenceforward in mountain solitudes, as a soldier of Christ against the flesh and the devil. Beside him stands St. Clara, "the very ideal of a gray sister, sedate and sweet, sober, steadfast, and demure." She gazes on a crucifix, for she too had renounced the pomps and vanities of the world. Her wealth of golden hair was cut off, it is said, by St. Francis; her fortune she gave to hospitals, and herself became the foundress of the Order of "Poor Clares." St. Francis stands on the other side of the throne, and besides him is "good St. Anthony" (see under 776).

672. HIS OWN PORTRAIT.

Rembrandt (Dutch: 1606-1669). See 45.

"This portrait, dated 1640, describes the man well—strong and robust, with powerful head, firm and compressed lips and determined chin, with heavy eyebrows, separated by a deep vertical furrow, and with eyes of keen penetrating glance,—altogether a self-reliant man, who would carry out his own ideas, careless whether his popularity waxed or waned" (J. F. White in Encyclopædia Britannica).

673. "SALVATOR MUNDI."

Antonello da Messina (Venetian: 1444-1493)

A picture of special interest as being the earliest known work (it is dated 1465) of Antonello, of Messina in Sicily, who is famous as the man by whom the art of painting in oils, as perfected by the Van Eycks (see 186), was introduced into Venice. Vasari's story is that Antonello saw, on a visit to Naples, a picture by John Van Eyck, in which the brilliancy and fine fusion of the tints so struck him that he forthwith set out for Flanders, ingratiated himself with Van Eyck, and learnt from him the secret of his method. But the dates do not agree with this story. For Van Eyck died in 1440, and Antonello must therefore have been born early in the century, whereas, on the contrary, Vasari expressly states that he died in 1493, aged forty-nine. More probably Antonello learnt the Flemish technique from the painters of that school who are known to have been at Naples in the middle of the fifteenth[Pg 344] century. In his native town, in the church of S. Gregorio, is a triptych by him, dated 1473. In the same year he was at Venice, where he remained until his death. "His practical mastery of the new method, still unknown in the city of the Lagoons, of glazing in oil colours a ground laid in tempera, must have given Antonello a higher status at Venice than his intrinsic merits as an artist would have warranted. We see that he is at once honoured with a commission from the wardens of S. Cassiano. Unhappily the altar-piece there, so highly praised by Matteo Collaccio and Sabellico, and signed with the year 1473, has long since disappeared. And not only did the church dignitaries of Venice patronise him, but the patricians were eager to have their likenesses taken on the new principle practised by Antonello; and, to judge by the number of portraits he turned out in those years, he must for a time have been the most popular portrait painter in Venice" (Morelli). Of his portraits there is a good example in our Gallery (1141). The splendid portrait in the Louvre is dated 1475; that in the Berlin Gallery, 1478. The "Crucifixion" in our Gallery is dated 1477. "It is evident to me," says Morelli, "that Antonello gradually formed himself by studying the works and seeking the society of the great Venetian masters, till he reached that degree of perfection which we miss in his early Ecce Homos and admire in his portraits of 1475-78. His Italian nature gradually works its way through the Flemish shell in which his first master had encased his hand as well as mind. In this transformation of Antonello as an artist Giovanni Bellini had obviously the greatest share. Whoever visits the churches of Messina, and of the towns and villages along that eastern coast of Sicily as far as Syracuse, will still find in many of them Madonnas, whether in colour or in marble, that remind him of Antonello and Giambellino. And not only did Antonello act powerfully on his own Sicilian countrymen; we also discern his influence in several portraits by painters of Upper Italy—for instance, those of Solario." No. 923, for example, the portrait of a Venetian Senator, by that master, is strongly reminiscent of Antonello's style. In fact, as Sir F. Burton says, "to Antonello and his Flemish education is due that type of portraiture which we find among the Venetian and North Italian painters of his time, and which, under a southern sun, and in the hands of a Titian, expanded itself in the noblest form." (The above account of Antonello follows Morelli: see his Italian Masters in German Galleries, pp. 376-390).

Christ as the "Saviour of the World," stands with his finger on the edge of a parapet, giving the blessing and gazing into eternity. The picture, being dated 1465,[164] must have been [Pg 345]painted by Antonello in his twenty-first year. Both in conception and in the ruddy complexion peculiar to the school of Van Eyck (see 222 and 290) it suggests a Flemish influence. Notice also the pentimenti (or corrections): the right hand and border of the tunic were originally higher, and their forms, obliterated by the painter, have now in course of time disappeared. This again shows the hand of an experienced artist.

674. PORTRAIT OF A LADY.

Paris Bordone (Venetian: 1500-1570). See 637.

A splendid specimen of this painter's portraits, and a type of the face which meets one in nearly every Gallery of Europe; for Bordone, who had (as we have seen) a great vogue as a lady's portrait painter, had yet a way, says Ridolfi, of making such works appear more like fancy portraits than individual portraits. This one is of a girl of the Brignole family, aged eighteen, according to the inscription. In the Brignole Palace at Genoa (now the property of the town) are two magnificent portraits by Bordone. The type here is that of a cruel and somewhat sensual beauty—the eyes, especially, being, "like Mars, to threaten or command"—

Cold eyelids that hide like a jewel Hard eyes that grow soft for an hour; The heavy white limbs, and the cruel Red mouth like a venomous flower.
Swinburne: Dolores.

Since the above note was written, Mr. H. Schütz Wilson has suggested, with some plausibility, that the portrait is of Bianca Cappello (1542-1587), "as pre-eminent in sumptuous voluptuous loveliness, as she was in the crime of her day in Italy." "In the deadly calm of the almost inscrutable lineaments of this remarkable portrait, in which charm and grace are shown behind so much that is terrible, so much that is earthly, sensual, devilish, in those awful eyes, and in that cruel 'red mouth, like a venomous flower,' we see, as I fancy," says Mr. Wilson, "not an obscure girl of a noble family of Genoa, but the counterfeit presentment of the romantically wicked Renaissance heroine, the fair and evil Grand Duchess of Tuscany" (Pall Mall Gazette, November 22, 1888).

[Pg 346]

679. THE PORTRAIT OF AN ASTRONOMER.

Ferdinand Bol (Dutch: 1616-1680).

Bol was the most distinguished of Rembrandt's pupils in portraiture. He was born at Dordrecht, and settled at Amsterdam, where he acquired burgess rights in 1652. One of Bol's portraits in the Louvre has attained the honour of being hung in the Salon Carré. His "Four Regents of the Leprosy Hospital" at Amsterdam is the painter's masterpiece, and one of the finest works of the Dutch School. Bol's pictures are remarkable for a prevailing yellow tone. Up to about the year 1660 he seems to have remained the pupil of Rembrandt. "Unfortunately he did not remain faithful to his early teaching. He made sacrifices to the taste of his time, and abandoned the sober and grave figures, the severe and sustained method of painting, the powerful light and shade of his school, to seek a fresh source of success in overwhelming allegory and in the imitation of Rubens. This was his ruin. His later works, painted in full light, are very inferior to those of an earlier date; their colouring is hard, glaring, and discordant, and in composition they are frequently bombastic and pretentious" (Havard: The Dutch School of Painting, p. 93).

The sitter is conjectured to be an astronomer, from the globes on the table before him and from the look on his face as of a man dwelling among the clouds. The picture is signed, and dated 1652.

680. THE MIRACULOUS DRAUGHT OF FISHES.

Van Dyck (Flemish: 1599-1641). See 49.

Painted by Van Dyck from the large picture by Rubens at Mechlin, for an engraver to work from. "One of the too numerous brown sketches in the manner of the Flemish School, which seem to me rather done for the sake of wiping the brush clean than of painting anything. There is no colour in it, and no light and shade;—but a certain quantity of bitumen is rubbed about so as to slip more or less greasily into the shape of figures; and one of St. John's (or St. James's) legs is suddenly terminated by a wriggle of white across it, to signify that he is standing in the sea" (Art of England, p. 44). Ruskin notices the picture as an example of the art which was assailed by the Pre-Raphaelites. A word-picture of the same scene in the Pre-Raphaelite manner, with its literal and close realisation, will be found in Modern Painters, vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. iv. § 16.

[Pg 347]

685. SHOWERY WEATHER.

Meindert Hobbema (Dutch: 1638-1709).

Hobbema, who disputes with Ruysdael the place of best Dutch landscape painter, was a friend of the latter, and perhaps his pupil: certainly works of the two are sometimes remarkably alike. Thus it has been pointed out that Hobbema's No. 996 shows the influence of Ruysdael, whilst Ruysdael's No. 986 recalls Hobbema's. Often, too, they painted the same country; compare e.g. No. 986 with Hobbema's No. 832. Like Ruysdael, too, Hobbema was a painter without honour in his own country, and nine-tenths of his known works are in England, where he was first appreciated, and where he was the means of influencing many of our landscape painters, notably Nasmyth. His pictures were often ascribed to other painters, now considered greatly his inferiors, in order to obtain better prices. It has been remarked as a curious fact that until the middle of the eighteenth century no engraver thought it worth while to reproduce any of Hobbema's pictures; and Sir Joshua Reynolds in his Tour in Holland (1781) makes no reference to Hobbema, though he must have seen some of his pictures. Even a hundred years ago they were not much sought after; now they are more valued than those of any landscape painter and fetch very large prices at auctions. Recently one of them sold for as much as £8820. This appreciation is due in part to the fact that Hobbemas are very rare; the known works by him number hardly more than a hundred. Of Hobbema's life very little is recorded. His name (like that of Alma Tadema) betokens Frisian origin. His birthplace is unknown, but he appears to have been born at Amsterdam, and to have been the scholar of Jacob Ruysdael in landscape painting. Ruysdael was the witness at his marriage. This was in 1668. In the same year he was appointed one of the sworn gaugers for the excise of the town. "Thus, a century before Burns, fortune played upon one of the greatest of landscape painters the same trick that she played in his case upon the most spontaneous of poets." Hobbema was not the only painter of his time who had to eke out a bare subsistence by employment more lucrative than the production of masterpieces. Salomon van Ruysdael was also a frame-maker; Van Goyen speculated in houses, picture-dealing, and tulips; and Jan Steen was an innkeeper. The coincidence of Hobbema's marriage and his appointment as gauger of wines and oil was not by chance. The archives throw a curious light upon the public morals of Amsterdam at the time of its greatest prosperity. By a deed executed in the month of his marriage, Hobbema admits that he owes his appointment to the influence of a companion of his wife, like her a servant in the employment of the burgomaster, and in consideration of this he agrees to pay her, so long as he holds the place, an annual sum of 250 florins. Posterity owes this servant of the burgomaster a grudge, for after taking up the appointment, Hobbema[Pg 348] scarcely painted any more. The post cannot, however, have been lucrative, for he died in evil circumstances—in a house directly opposite to that in which Rembrandt had died forty years before. The painter of works, any one of which is now worth a small fortune to its possessor, was buried in a pauper's grave.

In spite of the resemblance to Ruysdael above noted, Hobbema's best and most characteristic works are quite distinct. Ruysdael is the painter of the solitude of nature, of rocks and waterfalls; Hobbema of the Dutch "fields with dwellings sprinkled o'er." The pervading tone of Ruysdael is dark and sombre; that of Hobbema is drowsy and still. A second characteristic of Hobbema is his fondness for oak foliage, and a certain "nigglingness" in his execution of it. See e.g. 832, 833. "They (Hobbema and Both) can paint oak leafage faithfully, but do not know where to stop, and by doing too much, lose the truth of all, lose the very truth of detail at which they aim, for all their minute work only gives two leaves to nature's twenty. They are evidently incapable of even thinking of a tree, much more of drawing it, except leaf by leaf; they have no notion nor sense of simplicity, mass, or obscurity, and when they come to distance, where it is totally impossible that leaves should be separately seen, being incapable of conceiving or rendering the grand and quiet forms of truth, they are reduced to paint their bushes with dots and touches expressive of leaves three feet broad each." "No word," Ruskin elsewhere adds, "has been more harmfully misused than that ugly one of 'niggling.' I should be glad if it were entirely banished from service and record. The only essential question about drawing is whether it be right or wrong; that it be small or large, swift or slow, is a matter of convenience only. But so far as the word may be legitimately used at all, it belongs especially to such execution as this of Hobbema's—execution which substitutes, on whatever scale, a mechanical trick or habit of hand for true drawing of known or intended forms." A second objection to Hobbema's method may be mentioned besides its "trickiness." His "niggling" touch is extended from the foreground to objects farther off, and thus "a middle distance of Hobbema involves a contradiction in terms; it states a distance by perspective, which it contradicts by distinctness of detail" (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. ii. ch. v. § 17, sec. vi. ch. i. § 22; vol. v. pt. vi. ch. v. § 6). In spite, however, of such defects, the works of Hobbema have an enduring charm for their incisiveness of touch, and warmth of light. He had not Ruysdael's variety nor his depth of poetic feeling. The forest glade and the watermill are almost all he paints. But these he paints so firmly and decisively that they live for ever, and upon them he casts a warm and golden tone which never fails to please.

[Pg 349]

686. THE VIRGIN AND CHILD.

Hans Memlinc (Early Flemish: 1430-1494).

It is only in the Hospital of St. John at Bruges that the art of this exquisite painter can be properly studied. There, as among the Fra Angelicos at San Marco in Florence and the Giottos at the Arena in Padua, one may see the great works of a mediæval painter in the very surroundings which first produced them. (Copies of some of Memlinc's works at Bruges and elsewhere are included in the Arundel Society's collection.) The Hospital is, as it were, a shrine of Memlinc. Around this fact legends grew. In one of the pictures, it was said, a portrait of the artist might be discovered; on the sculptured ornaments of a porch enframing one of its subjects, an incident of the master's life might be traced,—his danger as he lay senseless in the street, his rescue as charitable people carried his body to the hospital. It came to be told how the great artist began life as a soldier who went to the wars under Charles the Bold, and came back riddled with wounds from the field of Nancy. Wandering homeward in a disabled state in 1477, he fainted in the streets of Bruges, and was cured by the Hospitallers. Unknown to them and a stranger to Bruges, he gave tangible proofs of his skill to the brethren of St. John, and showed his gratitude by refusing payment for a picture he had painted. Unfortunately all this is a myth. Of his real life little is known, but it is enough to refute the legends that for so long passed current. In 1477 he was under contract to furnish an altar-piece for the guild chapel of the booksellers of Bruges; this picture, preserved under the name of the "Seven Griefs of Mary," is now one of the principal treasures of the Gallery of Turin. His many pictures for the Hospitallers were painted in 1479 and 1480. He was born at Mayence on the Rhine. His name (which should not be spelt Memling) was probably derived from the town of Memmelinck (now Medenblik) in the north-east of Holland, to which place his family presumably belonged. He is known from the town records to have been settled in Bruges in his own house in 1479. He must have been a citizen of some wealth, for in the next year he was one of those who contributed to a loan raised by Maximilian of Austria to push hostilities against France. In 1487 he lost his wife. In 1494 he died, his children being still minors, and was buried in the Church of St. Giles (see a document cited in the Athenæum of 2nd February 1889).

This is all that documentary evidence has disclosed about Memlinc's life. If the evidence of his pictures may be taken, his life must have been gentle and peaceful. For Memlinc's place in the history of art is among the leaders of the "Purist" School (see under 663). He was, we may say, the Fra Angelico of Flanders. In technique he used the methods perfected by the Van Eycks. "In drawing a com[Pg 350]parison between Memlinc and his predecessors and contemporaries,[165] he is found inferior to John Van Eyck in power of colour and chiaroscuro, as well as in searching portraiture; to Van der Weyden in dramatic force; to Dierick Bouts and Gheeraert David in beauty and finish of landscape" (Weale's monograph on Memlinc, published by the Arundel Society). But Memlinc had a sentiment and an ideal of his own to which none of his Flemish contemporaries attained. "Van Eyck saw with his eye, Memlinc begins to see with his spirit. The one copied and imitated; the other copies, imitates,—and transfigures. Van Eyck, without any thought of an ideal, reproduced the virile types which passed before his eyes. Memlinc dreams as he looks, chooses what is most lovable and delicate in human forms, and creates above all as his feminine type a choice being who was unknown before his time, and has disappeared since. They are women, but women seen according to the tender predilections of a spirit in love with grace, nobility, beauty." Memlinc's men, on the other hand, do not compare advantageously with Van Eyck's. There is more vigour in the latter, more framework, more muscle, more blood. "Memlinc's art is very human, but there is in it no trace of the villainies and atrocities of his time. His ideal is his own. It foreshadowed perhaps the Bellinis, the Botticellis, the Peruginos, but not Leonardo, nor the Tuscans, nor the Romans of the Renaissance. Imagine in the midst of the horror of the century a privileged spot, a sort of angelic retreat where the passions are silenced and troubles cease, where men pray and worship, where physical and moral deformities are transfigured, where new sentiments come into being and sweet usages grow up like the lilies: imagine this and you will have an idea of the unique soul of Memlinc and of the miracle which he works in his pictures" (Fromentin: Les Maitres d'Autrefois).

In front is a portrait of the donor of the picture. On the Virgin's left is St. George with the dragon—not a very dreadful dragon, either—"they do not hurt or destroy" in the peaceful gardens that Memlinc fancied. Notice how the peaceful idea is continued in the man returning to his pleasant home in the background to the left. The Virgin herself is typical of the feminine idea in early Flemish art. "It must be borne in mind that the people of the fifteenth century still lived in an age when the language of symbols was rich and widely understood.... The high forehead of the Virgin and wide arching brows tell of her intellectual power, her rich long [Pg 351]hair figures forth the fulness of her life, her slim figure and tiny mouth symbolise her purity, her mild eyes with their drooping eyelids discover her devoutness, her bent head speaks of humility. The supreme and evident virtue which reigns in all these Madonnas is an absolute purity of heart" (Conway's Early Flemish Painters, pp. 109, 110).

687. ST. VERONICA.

Meister Wilhelm of Cologne (Early German: living in 1380).

A work of interest as being by the first artist who emerges in the North as an individual painter—painting before his time being a mere appendage of other arts and the work solely of guilds. This "Master William," who is mentioned in an old chronicle as having "painted a man as though he were alive," was a native of Herle, near Cologne, and attained a prominent position in the latter town.

The subject of this picture is the compassionate woman whose door Christ passed when bearing his cross to Calvary. Seeing the drops of agony on his brow she wiped his face with her napkin, and the true image (Vera Icon: hence her name) of Christ remained miraculously impressed upon it—the Christ-like deed thus imprinting itself and abiding ever with her. The subject of the picture gives it a further historical interest as being suggestive of the mystics, the "Friends of God," as they called themselves, who were preaching in the Rhine Valley at this time, and under whose influence this early school of painting arose. "The mystic is one who claims to be able to see God with the inner vision of the soul. He studies to be quiet that his still soul may reflect the face of God"—even as did the cloth of St. Veronica (Beard's Hibbert Lectures).

690. "HIS OWN PORTRAIT."[166]

Andrea del Sarto (Florentine: 1486-1531).

[Pg 352]

The cabinet pictures of Andrea del Sarto, "the faultless painter," are well known to all visitors in the great galleries of Europe. There is a certain mannerism in them which makes them very easy of recognition. His type of Madonna is constant, for it was taken from the beautiful wife whom he loved so well, and who requited his love so ill. In his angels there is a delicate, misty beauty; and over all his works there is "that peculiar softness, harmony, and delicacy of colouring which the Italians call morbidezza, and which is to be seen in its perfection in the 'Madonna di San Francesco' in the Uffizi." That Holy Family (painted in 1517) is generally considered his masterpiece, and may be taken as the supreme type of similar pictures in all the galleries. Another typical work is the "Charity" of the Louvre (painted 1518). But it is only in Florence among his frescoes—now unhappily fading, but preserved in part by copies in the Arundel Society's collection—the frescoes of the Santissima Annunziata, the convent of S. Salvi, and, above all, the cloister of the Scalzo, that a full conception of Andrea's power can be obtained. "There only," says Mr. Swinburne, "can one trace and tell how great a painter and how various he was. There only, but surely there, can the influence and pressure of the things of time on his immortal spirit be understood.... In the little cloister of the Scalzo there is such exultation and exuberance of young power, of fresh passion and imagination, that only by the innate grace can one recognise the hand of the master whom hitherto we knew by the works of his after life, when the gift of grace had survived the gift of invention. This and all other gifts it did survive; all pleasure of life and power of mind. All these his charm of touch, his sweetness of execution, his 'Elysian beauty, melancholy grace' outlived and blossomed in their dust" (Mr. Swinburne's eloquent piece on this painter's works is in the first series of Essays and Studies, where also are some notes on the master's drawings in the Uffizi collection).

The painter's life is told in great detail and with much vivacity by Vasari, to whose pages every reader should turn. He was the pupil of Piero di Cosimo, and the friend and fellow-worker of Franciabigio. All their spare, time, we are told, was spent in drawing from the cartoons of Michelangelo and Leonardo. "After the exhibition of Michelangelo's celebrated 'Cartoon of Pisa,' in 1506, he became a decided imitator of that painter in design: in colour and light and shade Fra Bartolommeo appears to have been his model." His[Pg 353] celebrated frescoes in the convent of the Annunziata (not completed till 1514) were among his earliest works. Those in the Scalzo were done in 1514. In 1517 he married, and in 1518 he went to Paris, returning to Florence in the following year. The story that he embezzled sums of money given him by the king for the purchase of pictures is open to suspicion, since the accounts of the king have been discovered. No trace of such moneys occurs, nor did the king ever make any effort to obtain restitution. Andrea died of the plague at the early age of forty-five.

Browning's poem, in which he sets forth the pathos of the artist's life, is the best commentary on this beautiful portrait—so masterly in workmanship, so rich in suggestion of character. The real name of Andrea del Sarto—"Andrew of the Tailor," so called from his father's trade—was Andrea d'Agnolo: his monogram, formed of two inverted A's, may here be seen on the background to the left. The Italians called him "the faultless painter": faultless, they meant, in all the technical requirements of painting—

All is silver-grey, Placid and perfect with my art.

But men may be "faultily faultless"; and what he lacked was just the one thing needful—the consecration and the poet's dream, which lift many works by less skilful hands than his into the higher region of imaginative art—

Their works drop groundward, but themselves, I know, Reach many a time a heaven that's shut to me,... My works are nearer heaven, but I sit here.

And the self-reproach was not less bitter for the knowledge of "what might have been." There is a story that Michael Angelo visited his studio, and said afterwards to Raphael—

"Friend, there's a certain little sorry scrub "Goes up and down our Florence, none cares how, "Who, were he set to plan and execute "As you are, pricked on by your popes and kings, "Would bring the sweat into that brow of yours!"

Yet Andrea himself too was once pricked on by kings. Two pictures of his had been sent to Francis I., who thereupon invited the painter to his court. And there for a time he worked and was honoured; but in the midst of it all he sat[Pg 354] reading the letters which Lucrezia, his wife, sent him to Paris. "You called me and I came home to your heart." It is her face which we see everywhere in Andrea's Madonnas, and if at any time he took his model from any other face, there was always a resemblance to hers in the painting—

You smile? why, there's my picture ready made!

But Lucrezia served as his model, not his ideal. She had been married before to a hatter, but was remarkable, says Vasari, who worked in Andrea's studio and had a grudge against her, "as much for pride and haughtiness, as for beauty and fascination."[167] And

Had the mouth there urged "God and the glory! never care for gain.... "Live for fame, side by side with Agnolo! "Rafael is waiting: up to God, all three!" I might have done it for you. So it seems.

It is in some such mood of communing with himself that we seem here to see the painter; yet there is a certain undercurrent of contentment below the look of melancholy. "The force of a beautiful face carries me to heaven": so sang Michael Angelo. Lucrezia dragged her husband down; his rivals overcame him—

Because there's still Lucrezia,—as I choose.

691. "ECCE HOMO!"

Ascribed to Lo Spagna (Umbrian: painted 1503-1530).
See 1032.

602. ST. HUGO OF GRENOBLE.

Lodovico of Parma (Parmese: early 16th century).

Said to have been a scholar of Francia.

The crozier shows him to be a bishop, and it is inscribed S. VGO. This is St. Hugo (died 1132), who was Bishop of Grenoble when St. Bruno founded the Chartreuse, and who often resided amongst the Carthusians. Doubtless he was [Pg 355]not an unwelcome visitor, for he had the power, it is said, of converting fowls into fish, which it was lawful to eat. For forty years, it is further told of him, he had haunting doubts on the old, old question of the origin of evil. The good bishop referred them at last to Pope Gregory VII., who greatly comforted St. Hugo by assuring him that such doubts were only sent to try his virtue and faith in the providence of God in permitting evil in the world.

693. ST. CATHERINE OF ALEXANDRIA.

Pinturicchio (Umbrian: 1454-1513).

Bernardino di Betto, or the son of Benedetto, was commonly called Pinturicchio, "the little painter." He is not strongly represented in our Gallery. His principal works are the decorated ceiling and frescoes in the Library of Siena, which represent the life of the Pope Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (Pius II.). A drawing of this Library and copies of some of the frescoes are in the Arundel Society's Collection. Pinturicchio, says Symonds, is "a kind of Umbrian Gozzoli, who brings us here and there in close relation to the men of his own time. His wall-paintings in the library of the Cathedral of Siena are so well preserved that we need not seek elsewhere for better specimens of the decorative art most highly prized in the first years of the 16th century. These frescoes have a richness of effect and a vivacity of natural action which, in spite of their superficiality, render them highly charming. The life of Pius II. is treated like a legend. Both Pope and Emperor are romantically conceived, and each portion of the tale is told as though it were a part in some popular ballad. So much remains of Perugian affectation as gives a kind of childlike grace to the studied attitudes and many-coloured groups of elegant young men" (Renaissance, iii. 220). In the foreground of one of the frescoes is a charming figure, supposed to be a portrait of the young Raphael. Vasari states and subsequent writers have repeated that Pinturicchio was assisted in these frescoes by Raphael. This supposition rests on three drawings attributed to Raphael, but now proved to be by Pinturicchio, who bound himself to execute the whole work with his own hand. Morelli's attribution to Pinturicchio of the so-called "Raphael's sketch-book" at Venice is one of the most important of that critic's discoveries. "If (says Morelli) in representing serious religious subjects, he does not come up to Perugino as regards proportion, finish, and the filling of space; if his forms are not so noble, and the expression of religious sentiment not so deep as in Pietro; yet, on the other hand, Pinturicchio is, to my mind, less conscious, more fresh and racy than Perugino, and does not so often fatigue us by monotony and that conventional sweetness which, especially in the productions of his last twenty years, makes[Pg 356] Pietro positively wearisome. And, as an imaginative landscape-painter, Pinturicchio surpasses almost all of his contemporaries" (German Galleries, p. 285). Pinturicchio's frescoes at Siena occupied him from 1502 to 1509. He probably studied first under Fiorenzo di Lorenzo (No. 1103); afterwards he entered into partnership with Pietro Perugino. He went to Rome in 1479 and was honoured by commissions from cardinals and popes. Among his works in Rome are frescoes representing the stories of the Virgin and St. Jerome in S. Maria del Popolo; frescoes in the Appartamenti Borgia in the Vatican, and frescoes of S. Bernardino of Siena in the Bufalini Chapel, S. Maria Aracoeli. Morelli attributes to him also two of the frescoes in the Sixtine Chapel (the Baptism of Christ and the History of Moses). In 1500 he commenced the beautiful series of frescoes, now much disfigured, in the collegiate church at Spello (see Arundel Society's copies). That he was held in high esteem by his fellow-citizens is shown by his having been elected in 1501 Decemvir of Perugia in place of Pietro Perugino. Unlike Perugino, he never mastered the use of oil, but painted in tempera. Vasari, who did not like Pinturicchio, describes him as somewhat of a hack, and still more of a lover of money. "Among other qualities he possessed that of giving considerable satisfaction to princes and nobles because he quickly brought the works commanded by them to an end." As for his love of money, he died of vexation, Vasari assures us, "because a certain trunk which he had insisted on being removed from his painting-room in Siena was afterwards found to be full of gold pieces." According, however, to a contemporary writer, his wife left him alone in his house when ill, and he was starved to death.

St. Catherine of Alexandria was of all the female saints next to Mary Magdalene the most popular: she meets us in nearly every room in the National Gallery, and even in London, churches and districts once placed under her protection still retain her name. Her general attributes are a book, a sword, and a wheel. The meaning of these will be seen from the legend of her which crusaders brought from the East. She was the daughter of a queen, and of marvellous wisdom and understanding. And when the time came that she should govern her people, she, shunning responsibility and preferring wisdom before sovereignty, shut herself up in her palace and gave her mind to the study of philosophy. For this wilful seclusiveness her people wished her to marry a husband who should at once fulfil the duties of government and lead them forth to battle. But she, to prevent this repugnant union, made one more spiritual by her mystical marriage with Christ. And for this and other unworldly[Pg 357] persistencies, the heathen tyrant Maximin would have broken her on a wheel, but that "fire came down from heaven, sent by the destroying angel of God, and broke the wheel in pieces." Yet for all this the tyrant repented not, and after scourging St. Catherine with rods beheaded her with the sword, and so having won the martyr's palm, she entered into the joy of her Lord.

694. ST. JEROME IN HIS STUDY.

School of Giovanni Bellini.[168] See under 189.

Besides translating the Bible, St. Jerome (see 227) is famous as one of the founders of the monastic system, "of the ordered cell and tended garden where before was but the desert and the wild wood," and he died in the monastery he had founded at Bethlehem. This picture shows us the inside of monastic life. St. Jerome, with the scholar's look of quiet satisfaction, is deep in study; his room has no luxury, but is beautiful in its grace and order; the lion, who seems here to be sharing his master's meditation, and the partridge peering into the saint's slippers, speak of the love of the old monks for the lower animals; and the beautiful landscape seen through the open window recalls the sweet nooks which they everywhere chose and tended for their dwelling. The effect of the whole picture is to suggest the peaceful simplicity of the old religious life in contrast to the "getting and spending" with which we now "lay waste our powers."

The picture belongs to what Ruskin has called the "Time of the Masters," who desire only to make everything dainty and delightful. "Everything in it is exquisite, complete, and pure; there is not a particle of dust in the cupboards, nor a cloud in the air; the wooden shutters are dainty, the candlestick is dainty, the saint's blue hat is dainty, and its violet tassel, and its ribbon, and his blue cloak, and his spare pair of shoes, and his little brown partridge—it is all a perfect quintessence of innocent luxury—absolute delight, without one drawback in it, nor taint of the Devil anywhere" (Verona and other Lectures, § 26). For another specimen of this "pictorial [Pg 358]perfectness and deliciousness," see 288 (especially the compartment with Raphael and Tobit).

As for the partridge, this is frequently introduced into sacred pictures, especially those of the Venetian School. There is a pretty legend of St. John which perhaps accounts for it, and which makes its introduction very appropriate in the picture of a recluse. St. John had, it is said, a tame partridge, which he cherished much, and amused himself with feeding and tending. A certain huntsman, passing by with his bow and arrows, was astonished to see the great apostle, so venerable for his age and sanctity, engaged in such an amusement. The apostle asked him if he always kept his bow bent. He answered that would be the way to render it useless. "If," replied St. John, "you unbend your bow to prevent its being useless, so do I thus unbend my mind for the same reason" (Mrs. Jameson: Sacred and Legendary Art, p. 100).

695. MADONNA AND CHILD.

Andrea Previtali (Bergamese: about 1480-1528).

This painter (whose personality is in some art-histories merged in that of Cordelle Agii, see 1409) was one of Bellini's numerous pupils—a provincial from Bergamo, "a dry, honest, monotonous" painter (see Morelli's German Galleries, pp. 178-181, and under 1203). "As regards technique, Previtali is certainly very eminent; in brilliance of colouring he is not behind any of Bellini's pupils, and the landscapes in the background of his pictures are for the most part neatly and faultlessly executed. But he lacks the main attributes of a great artist—invention and the power of original representation." Whilst painting in Venice, he signed his pictures Andreas Bergomensis; on his return to Bergamo, Andreas Previtalus. His pictures at Bergamo are numerous; the best is the altar-piece in S. Spirito.

A characteristic example of the painter. The figure of the monk in adoration is somewhat hard. The landscape background is pleasant.

696. MARCO BARBARIGO.

Unknown (Flemish: 15th century).
See also (p. xx)

He was Venetian Consul in London in 1449, and holds in his hand a letter addressed to him there. He was subsequently elected Doge, but died (in 1486), after holding the office for six months. It is recorded of him as Doge that he was a[Pg 359] specially mild-tempered and good man—a character which is not belied in this portrait of him in his earlier days. This portrait was formerly ascribed to Gerard van der Meire (see under 1078). It is now by some attributed to Petrus Cristus.

697. PORTRAIT OF A TAILOR.

Moroni (Bergamese: 1525-1578).

Giambattista Moroni is one of the greatest of the Italian portrait-painters, and this picture is perhaps his best-known and most popular production.[169] The works of Moroni appeal alike to the general public and to the painter. He gave to his figures a vitality and ease, and impressed upon them a verisimilitude which appeal to every spectator. His works (adds Sir F. Burton) "will always be highly estimated by the painter, as they exhibit rare technical merits, perfect knowledge and command of means, facility of execution without display of dexterity, truth of colour, and the finest perception of the value of tones." "No portrait-painter ever placed the epidermis of the human face upon canvas with more fidelity, and with greater truth than Moroni: his portraits have all a more or less prosaic look, but they must all have had that startling likeness to the original which so enchants the great public, who exclaim 'The very man! just how he looks!' And it was with the eyes of the great public that Moroni did look at his subjects; he was not a poet in the true sense of the word, but a consummate painter. Yet, now and then, he manages to go beyond himself, and to pierce the surface till he reaches the soul of the sitter. In such cases his portraits may rank with those of Titian" (Morelli's German Galleries, p. 48). His colouring varied at different periods of his life. For examples of his manner before he came under Il Moretto's influence see 1023 and 1316—the reddish hue of his flesh-tints being characteristic. In his second period he adopted the "silvery" manner of Il Moretto: seen here and in 1022; whilst for his third, or naturalistic manner see 742. Moroni is a distinguished ornament of the school of Bergamo—a provincial school characterised, says Morelli, by "manly energy," but also by "a certain prosaic want of refinement." See, for other Bergamese painters, Previtali (695) and Cariani (1203). Palma Vecchio, the greatest of them, is represented by the "Portrait of Ariosto," 636. Giambattista Moroni was a painter without honour in his own country, and when people from Bergamo came to Titian to be painted, he used to refer them to their own countryman—no better face painter, he would tell them, existed.[Pg 360] Moroni is believed to have entered the studio of Moretto at Brescia when fifteen years of age. His religious pictures are inferior reflections of his master's. Upon one of them, still preserved in the church of Gorlago (between Bergamo and Brescia) he was engaged at the time of his death. No admirer of Moroni should omit to visit Bergamo: a splendid series of his portraits is to be seen in the Carrara gallery of that town. There too, as also in the gallery at Verona, is a pretty portrait by him of a little girl.

A "speaking portrait." "The tailor's picture is so well done," says an old Italian critic, "that it speaks better than an advocate could." A portrait that enables one, moreover, to realise what was once meant by a "worshipful company of merchant tailors." Tagliapanni—for such is his name—is no Alton Locke—- no discontented "tailor and poet"; neither is he like some fashionable West-End tailor, with ambitions of rising above his work. He is well-to-do—notice his handsome ring; but he has the shears in his hands. He does the work himself, and he likes the work. He is something of an artist, it would seem, in clothes: his jacket and handsome breeches were a piece of his work, one may suppose; and the artist has caught and immortalised him, as he is standing back for a minute to calculate the effect of his next cut.

698. THE DEATH OF PROCRIS.

Piero di Cosimo (Florentine: 1462-1521).

A very characteristic work, and the most interesting of those extant, by Piero, called di Cosimo, after his godfather and master, Cosimo Rosselli. Piero's peculiarities are well known to all readers of George Eliot's Romola, where everything told us about him by Vasari in one of his most amusing chapters is carefully worked up. The first impression left by this picture—its quaintness—is precisely typical of the man. He shut himself off from the world and stopped his ears; lived in the untidiest of rooms, and would not have his garden tended, "preferring to see all things wild and savage about him." He took his meals at times and in ways that no other man did, and Romola used to coax him with sweets and hard-boiled eggs. His fondness for quaint landscape ("he would sometimes stand beside a wall," says Vasari, "and image forth the most extraordinary landscapes that ever were") may be seen in this picture; so also may his love of animals, in which, says Vasari, he took "indescribable pleasure." Piero accompanied his master, Cosimo Rosselli, to Rome in 1480, and painted the landscape to that master's "Sermon on the Mount" in the Sixtine Chapel. He painted several altar-pieces, but his true bent was towards mythological[Pg 361] subjects and quaintly decorative treatment. Vasari describes in detail a Carnival triumph devised by Piero. This and the adornment of dwelling-rooms and marriage-chests were the forms in which his fantastic originality found the most congenial expression. He was also a good portrait-painter: No. 895 in this gallery has recently been recognised as his work.

The subjects of Piero's pictures were generally mythological. In Romola he paints Tito and Romola as Bacchus and Ariadne; here he shows the death of Procris, the story in which the ancients embodied the folly of jealousy. For Procris being told that Cephalus was unfaithful, straightway believed the report and secretly followed him to the woods, for he was a great hunter. And Cephalus called upon "aura," the Latin for breeze, for Cephalus was hot after the chase: "Sweet air, O come," and echo answered, "Come, sweet air." But Procris, thinking that he was calling after his mistress, turned to see, and as she moved she made a rustling in the leaves, which Cephalus mistook for the motion of some beast of the forest, and let fly his unerring dart, which Procris once had given him.

But Procris lay among the white wind-flowers, Shot in the throat. From out the little wound The slow blood drained, as drops in autumn showers Drip from the leaves upon the sodden ground. None saw her die but Lelaps, the swift hound, That watched her dumbly with a wistful fear, Till at the dawn, the hornèd wood-men found And bore her gently on a sylvan bier, To lie beside the sea,—with many an uncouth tear.

Piero's treatment of the theme is, it should be noted, romantic, rather than classical; in which respect his picture is characteristic of the earlier Renaissance. "In creating his Satyr the painter has not had recourse to any antique bas-relief, but has imagined for himself a being half human, half bestial, and yet wholly real; nor has he portrayed in Procris a nymph of Greek form, but a girl of Florence. The strange animals and gaudy flowers introduced into the landscape background further remove the subject from the sphere of classic treatment. Florentine realism and quaint fancy being thus curiously blended, the artistic result may be profitably studied for the light it throws upon the so-called Paganism of the earlier Renaissance. Fancy at that moment was more free than when[Pg 362] superior knowledge of antiquity had created a demand for reproductive art, and when the painters thought less of the meaning of the fable for themselves than of its capability of being used as a machine for the display of erudition" (Symonds's Renaissance, iii. 187). Piero seems to have taken his background from Lake Thrasymene.

Piero's poetic fancy in this picture has aroused a responsive echo in the poets of our own day. The lines quoted above are from "The Death of Procris; a version suggested by the so-named picture of Piero di Cosimo in the National Gallery," in Mr. Austin Dobson's Old World Idylls. Another version of the picture may be found in Michael Field's Sight and Song:—

And there she lies half-veiled, half-bare, Deep in the midst of nature that abides Inapprehensive she is lying there, So wan; The flowers, the silver estuary afar— These daisies, plantains, all the white and red Field-blossoms through the leaves and grasses spread; The water with its pelican, Its flight of sails and its blue countrysides— Unto themselves they are; The dogs sport on the sand, The herons curve about the reeds Or one by one descend the air, While lifelessly she bleeds From throat and dabbled hand.

Mr. Ruskin also has written a piece around our picture, which he reads with a different eye from "Michael Field,"[170] seeing [Pg 363]in it not so much the inapprehensiveness of nature as the pathetic fallacy whereby the moods of nature are made to sympathise with human joy or sorrow:—

"The next best landscape (to Bellini's 'Peter Martyr') in the National Gallery is a Florentine one on the edge of transition to the Greek feeling; and in that the distance is still beautiful, but misty, not clear; the flowers are still beautiful, but, intentionally, of the colour of blood; and in the foreground lies the dead body of Procris, which disturbs the poor painter greatly; and he has expressed his disturbed mind about it in the figure of a poor little brown (nearly black) Faun, or perhaps the god Faunus himself, who is much puzzled by the death of Procris, and stoops over her, thinking it a woful thing to find her pretty body lying there breathless, and all spotted with blood on the breast" (Lectures on Landscape, § 94).

699. AGOSTINO AND NICCOLO DELLA TORRE.

Lorenzo Lotto (Venetian: 1480-1555).

To this great painter full justice has scarcely been done by writers on art—an omission which in recent years Morelli and still more Mr. Berenson, in his elaborate monograph, have sought to repair. Lotto led a wandering life, which took him much away from Venice; hence his pictures are comparatively little known. Again, as Sir F. Burton points out, "great versatility and remarkable impressibility are among the chief characteristics of Lotto, who certainly was possessed of genius but whose development was oscillating and affected by many influences. Only by extremely careful study and comparison can his hand be traced throughout in works, which at first sight exhibit little or nothing in common. Were none of Lotto's works signed or otherwise attested they would certainly bear very various attributions, as indeed many of his unsigned pictures have done, and as it is likely some do still." The portrait, for instance, of Andrea Odoni at Hampton Court was for several centuries attributed to Correggio, but recent cleaning has uncovered Lotto's signature and the date 1527. Of his power as a portrait-painter visitors to the National Gallery can form a good idea. His works in this sort will bear comparison with the best of his contemporaries. They have, says Morelli, "all that refined, inward elegance of feeling which marks the culminating point in the last stage of progressive art in Italy, and which is principally represented by Leonardo da Vinci, Lotto, Andrea del Sarto, and Correggio; whereas the elegance of Bronzino in Tuscany, and of Parmigiano in North Italy, is an outward affected one, which has nothing to do with the inner life of the person represented, and therefore characterises the first stage of declining art." His sympathetic nature enabled him to seize the finer traits of his sitters, and they in turn "look out from his canvasses as if begging for the sympathy" of the spectator. No. 1047[Pg 364] in our Gallery is especially characteristic. Lotto's altar-pieces, which were numerous, must be studied at Treviso, Recanati, Jesi, Bergamo, and Trescorre (frescoes), near the latter place. His pictures at different periods (they are for the most part dated) show strong resemblances to different painters—to Bellini and the Vivarini, to Palma, to Titian, to Giorgione, and to Correggio. He was born at Venice, and, according to Vasari, was a disciple of John Bellini. Mr. Berenson, on the contrary, maintains on internal evidence that Lotto must have belonged to the rival school of Alvise Vivarini. Of Palma, he was, according to Vasari, the friend and companion. With Titian he was on friendly terms, though if we may judge from a letter by Pietro Aretino, the attitude of the worldly Titian coterie to the gentle Lotto, was not unmixed with some contempt. "O Lotto," he writes, "as goodness good, and as talent talented, Titian from Augsburg, in the midst of the high favour everybody is eager to show him, greets and embraces you by the token of the letter which I received from him two days ago. He says that it would double the pleasure that he takes in the emperor's satisfaction with the picture he is now painting, if he had your eye and your judgment to approve him. And indeed, the painter is not mistaken, for your judgment has been formed by age, by nature, and by art, with the prompting of that straightforward kindliness which pronounces upon the works of others exactly as if they were your own. Envy is not in your breast. Rather do you delight to see in other artists certain qualities which you do not find in your own brush, although it performs those miracles which do not come easy to many who yet feel very happy over their technical skill. But holding the second place in the art of painting is nothing compared to holding the first place in the duties of religion, for Heaven will recompense you with a glory that passes the praise of this world.—Venice, April 1548." The resemblance between Lotto and Correggio was founded on no personal intercourse or artistic "influence," but on similarity of temperament. It is most conspicuous in the works of Lotto's "Bergamask period" (1518-1526). But whereas Correggio's sensitiveness is to impressions of outward joy and beauty, Lotto's is attuned rather to states of the human soul. Titian's sitters, it has been well said, are as if on parade, and his religious pictures tell of the pomp or rapture of public services. Lotto's sitters commune rather with their own souls, and in his devotional pieces he aims at a personal interpretation of religious motives. "As a colourist," says Burton, "Lotto remained throughout a Venetian. His flesh tints are true, and various as the age, sex, and temperament of the persons depicted." All that we know of his life suggests a reserved, sensitive, and unworldly nature. Unlike so many of his contemporaries, he never sued the favour of the mighty. In his account book recently discovered at Loreto he speaks again and again of having done excellent work for people who remunerated him with pence where if a contract had been made they would have had to pay him in pounds. He lodged sometimes with friends, sometimes with monks. His life was that of a[Pg 365] lonely wanderer, very industrious, but laying up no store. In 1554 he made over himself and all his belongings to the Holy House at Loreto, "being tired of wandering and wishing to end his days in that holy place." During the last years of his life he had almost entirely lost his voice. In one of his wills is a reference which shows us the temperament of the man. Among his scanty possessions were a number of antique gems. These he speaks of lovingly, because they were engraved with mystic symbols for the spirit to brood upon (see Lorenzo Lotto: an Essay in Constructive Criticism, by Bernhard Berenson, 1895; and Morelli's German Galleries, pp. 31-40; Roman Galleries, p. 301).

Agostino was Professor of Medicine in the University of Padua; he holds a copy of "Galen," the most celebrated of the ancient medical writers, in his hand. It was for Niccolo, however, according to the inscription, that the picture was painted in 1515; and Signor Morelli (its former owner) thinks that Agostino's portrait must have been inserted at a later time, for "it is placed very awkwardly in the background" (German Galleries, p. 37 n.). "No one with a feeling for composition can doubt for an instant that Agostino was originally intended to be alone on the canvas, as he occupies all of it that a single bust ought to occupy. Morelli's inference seems thus to be well founded that Lotto, on his return from Venice to Bergamo, stopped at Padua and painted the portrait of Agostino, which he brought to Niccolo at Bergamo, who thereupon had his own portrait added.... Lotto's sitters were in no way remarkable. Nevertheless, he gives them a look of refinement and innate sweetness of nature which brings us very close to them" (Berenson, pp. 138, 321).

700. THE HOLY FAMILY.

Bernardino Lanini (Lombard: about 1508-1578).

Lanini was a native of Vercelli, and a scholar of Gaudenzio Ferrari. Subsequently he approached more to the manner of Leonardo, as in this picture dated 1543. His works are frequent at Turin and Vercelli. There is an altar-piece by him at Borgo Sesia, near Varallo; his principal works are frescoes in the Cathedral at Novara.

Mr. Pater bids us notice in this picture the "pensive, tarnished silver sidelights, like mere reflections of natural sunshine" ("Art Notes in North Italy," New Review, Nov. 1890).

[Pg 366]

701. THE CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN.

Justus of Padua (died 1400).

A picture of interest as being the oldest by any North Italian painter in the Gallery—the date inscribed on the plinth below is 1367. Justus (Giusto di Giovanni) was a native of Florence, who in 1375 settled in Padua and founded his style upon the works of Giotto in that town. The frescoes at Padua formerly ascribed to him are now said to be the works of his scholars, Giovanni and Antonio da Padova.

None of the pictures in our Gallery by followers of Giotto is so satisfactory as this; "exquisite both in design and colour, though on a very small scale, it has," says Sir E. Poynter, "all the largeness of style which characterises the great Florentine fourteenth-century frescoes" (The National Gallery, i. 258). "The Virgin is of a fresh type, pretty and noble also. Amongst the saints in the centre picture that of St. Paul (on the extreme right) is distinguished by its natural bearing. There is, however, vigour and a sense of beauty and proportion throughout this charming little work." In the panel to the left, with the Nativity, "may be noticed the spirit of alertness in the attendant waiting to wash the child, and the statuesque design of St. Joseph"; in that to the right, with the crucifixion, "the figure of St. John, at the foot of the Cross, with its fine expression of grief, and beautifully-designed drapery" (Monkhouse, Italian Pre-Raphaelites, p. 23). Above is the Annunciation, with regard to which see notes on No. 1139. On the reverse side of the wings are other incidents from the life of the Virgin.

This and the pictures following (701-722) were presented by Queen Victoria to the National Gallery "in fulfilment of the wishes of H.R.H. the Prince Consort." They formerly belonged to the collection of H.I.H. Prince Louis of Oettingen-Wallerstein, and afterwards became the property of Prince Albert. It was his intention from the first to present them to the nation, but the gift was delayed owing to the uncertainty with regard to the site of the proposed new National Gallery. The Prince's purpose remained unaccomplished, but not forgotten, at his death, and in 1863 the best pictures from the collection were presented by Queen Victoria to the nation.

[Pg 367]

702. MADONNA AND CHILD.

Unknown (Umbrian: 15th-16th century).

Formerly ascribed to L'Ingegno. See 1220.

703. MADONNA AND CHILD.

Pinturicchio (Umbrian: 1454-1513). See 693.

704. COSIMO, DUKE OF TUSCANY.

Angelo Bronzino (Florentine: 1502-1572). See 649.
See also (p. xx)

A contemporary portrait of the great Medici, the first "Grand Duke" of Tuscany (ruled 1537-1564), who was regarded in his day as the very incarnation of Machiavelli's Prince, "inasmuch as he joined daring to talent and prudence," and though "he could practise mercy in due season," was yet "capable of great cruelty." No one, who notices here that large protruding under lip of his, will doubt this last element in his character.

705. STS. MATTHEW, CATHERINE, AND JOHN.

Ascribed to Stephan Lochner (Early German: died 1451).

"Meister Stephan" was a native of Constance, who settled in Cologne, and whose work has the stamp of the early Cologne School (see 687). His chief work is the so-called Dombild, now in Cologne Cathedral: "Item. I gave two white pennies," says Albert Dürer in his diary, "to see the picture that Master Staffan of Cologne painted." This famous altar-piece has been published by the Arundel Society. "Italian Art," says Sir F. Burton, "has seldom produced a group so beautiful as that of the crowned Madonna in its central panel." Another exquisite little picture ascribed to Meister Stephan is in the Cologne Museum.

Three figures full of innocent fervour and graceful sentimentality. St. Matthew as an evangelist holds a book and a pen, and is attended by the symbolic angel. St. John is attended by the eagle, which is the constant symbol of this evangelist, because he soared upwards to the contemplation of the divine nature of the Saviour.

[Pg 368]

706. PRESENTATION OF CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE.

The Master of the Lyversberg Passion (German: died about 1490).

A picture by the unknown painter of a series of Passion pictures, formerly belonging to Herr Lyversberg of Cologne, but now in the Museum of the city. He painted also a series of eight subjects from the Life of Mary. Of these six are in the Pinacothek at Munich, a seventh is in the German Museum at Nuremberg, and our picture is the eighth.

Characteristic of the German School after the Flemish influence. The sky background is gilt as in the old German pictures, but the types of the figures are Flemish. Notice the quaint pointed shoes, and the touch of realism in making the foot of Simeon, as he advances to receive the child from its mother, come half out of his slipper.

707. ST. PETER AND ST. DOROTHY.

Master of the Cologne Crucifixion (Early German School: early 16th century).

Part of an altar-piece, the rest of which is in the Munich Gallery, by an artist whose name is unknown, and who is therefore called after his principal works (now in the Cologne Museum). It has been well said of him that "he succeeded in giving an intense expression of transient emotion to the faces; but by endeavouring to lend a sympathetic action to the whole figure, he has exaggerated the action into distortion" (History of Painting, from the German of Woltmann and Woermann, ii. 224). This is conspicuously the case here. Look, for instance, at the comic contrast between St. Peter's big foot and St. Dorothy's pointed little shoe—between what is almost a leer on his face and the "mincing" affectation on hers. St. Peter is distinguished of course by the keys; St. Dorothy by the basket of flowers—the flowers which she sent to Theophilus in token of the truth of the faith in which she died: "Carry these to Theophilus, say that Dorothea has sent them, and that I go before him to the garden whence they came and await him there" (see Mrs. Jameson; Sacred and Legendary Art, p. 336, ed. 1850).

[Pg 369]

708. MADONNA AND CHILD.

Unknown[171] (Early Flemish: 15th century).

The Madonna offers Christ an apple—symbol of the forbidden fruit, and thus of the sin in the world which he came to remove.

709. MADONNA AND CHILD.

Unknown (Flemish School; 15th-16th century).
See also (p. xx)

"In Flemish pictures the varnish was incorporated with the surface colours, and cannot be removed without destroying at the same time the very fabric of the work. For this reason all attempts to, what is called, restore, or clean pictures of the Flemish School, result only in the destruction of the work, and by this means many fine pictures have, for all practical purposes, perished.... (This picture) is a lamentable example" (Conway's Early Flemish Artists, p. 119).

710. PORTRAIT OF A MONK.

Unknown[172] (Early Flemish: 15th century).

711. "MATER DOLOROSA."

712. "ECCE HOMO!"

Roger van der Weyden (Flemish: 1400-1464). See 664.

"It was a common custom with Roger's followers to copy single heads out of their master's large groups. Such single heads always have gold backgrounds, usually dotted over with little black dashes" (Conway's Early Flemish Artists, p. 275). These companion panels are perhaps instances, and the heads selected for reproduction are typical of the overstrained pathos of this school. Notice how prominently the tears in the sorrowing mother, and the blood and tears in the "Ecco Homo" are made to stand out.

[Pg 370]

713. MADONNA AND CHILD.

Jan Mostaert (Early Dutch: 1474-1555).
See also (p. xx)

Mostaert, a native of Haarlem, was for eighteen years painter to Margaret of Austria, Regent of the Netherlands. A picture ascribed to him is preserved in the church of Notre Dame at Bruges, but no known pictures bear his signature. A large number of his works perished in the great fire at Haarlem in 1571.

One of the few specimens in the Gallery of the first period of Dutch art, when it was still following the traditions of the Early Flemish School.

714. MADONNA AND CHILD.

Cornelis Engelbertsz (Dutch: 1468-1533).
See also (p. xx)

Engelbertsz was one of the earliest oil painters at Leyden, and is said to have been the master of Lucas of Leyden. Most of his important religious works were destroyed by the Dutch iconoclasts of the sixteenth century.

715. THE CRUCIFIXION.

Joachim Patinir (Early Flemish: died 1524).
See also (p. xx)

Patinir (born at Dinant, but settled in Antwerp) was styled by Albert Dürer, who stayed with him when in Antwerp, drew his portrait and attended his wedding, "Joachim the good landscape painter." What distinguishes his landscape is its greater expanse, as compared with earlier works. The Flemish painters preceding him were mostly content with the narrow domestic scenery of their own Maas country. But Patinir's pictures "embrace miles of country, and open on every side.... Some far-away cottage by the river-side, some hamlet nestling against a remote hill-slope, some castle on a craggy peak, blue against the transparent sky—such objects were a joy to him.... Moreover, with Patinir the fantastic element was of much importance. He wished his landscapes to be romantic.... He would have precipitous rocks.... His river must pass through gorges or under natural archways; his skies must be full of moving clouds; his wide districts of country must present contrasts of rocky mountain, water, and fertile plains.... He saw also the grandeur of wild scenery, and strove, though not with perfect success, to bring that into his pictures, showing thereby the possession of a foretaste of that delight in nature for her own sake, the full enjoyment of which has been reserved for the people of our own century" (Conway's Early Flemish Artists, pp. 299, 300). "His figures," says Sir F. Burton, "while[Pg 371] retaining old Netherlandish characteristics, are good, expressive, and even noble in conception." Most of the Galleries contain pictures by Patinir. Madrid is particularly rich in them.

"A high authority on early Flemish art, M. Henri Hymans, has stated that the figures in the 'Crucifixion' given to Joachim Patinir, and of which the landscape is undoubtedly his, are by the painter's friend, Quentin Matsys. Unquestionably these figures differ much in colour and execution from those contained in such other examples of Patinir in the National Gallery as the 'Nun' (945), or 'The Visit of the Virgin to St. Elizabeth' (1082)" (Claude Phillips in the Academy, September 28, 1889).

716. ST. CHRISTOPHER.

Joachim Patinir (Early Flemish: died 1524). See 715.

One of the earliest attempts in painting to tell the beautiful legend of Christopher (the Christ bearer), the hermit ferryman, who, "having sustained others in their chief earthly trials, afterwards had Christ for companion of his own." The best account of the legend of St. Christopher is to be found in Miss Alexander's Roadside Songs of Tuscany, edited by Ruskin, illustrated with "the most beautiful and true designs that have ever yet been made out of all the multitude by which alike the best spiritual and worldly power of Art have commended to Christendom its noblest monastic legend."

717. ST. JOHN ON THE ISLAND OF PATMOS.

Joachim Patinir (Early Flemish: died 1524). See 715.

The evangelist on the island of Patmos, writing the revelations out of an ink-horn held by an eagle, which an imp is attempting to steal. In the sky above are the revelations themselves: "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.... And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads" (Revelation xii. 1, 3).

[Pg 372]

718. CHRIST ON THE CROSS.

Ascribed to Hendrik Bles (Flemish: about 1480-1550).

Bles, called by the Italians "Civetta" (the owl), on account of the owl which he often adopted as his monogram, was an imitator of Patinir (see 715). Van Mander says that his nickname was Met de Bles (with the forelock), but as he signs himself Henricus Blessius, it is probable that Bles was his real name.

719. THE READING MAGDALEN.

Ascribed to Hendrik Bles (See last picture).

For the subject see No. 654.

720. A "REPOSE" (see No. 160).

721. PORTRAIT OF A LADY.

Jan van Schorel (Dutch: 1495-1562).

Schorel, so called from his birthplace, belongs to the second period of Dutch art, and was one of the most successful of the "Italianisers"; but neither of these pictures is a good or indeed a certain specimen. He was a poet and musician as well as a painter, and studied under Albert Dürer at Nuremberg. He afterwards visited Venice, whence he went to Jerusalem, returning by Rhodes to Rome. In 1522 he was made by his countryman, Pope Adrian VI., Keeper of the Art Collection of the Vatican. He afterwards returned to Utrecht, where he died a Canon of St. Mary's. He was the master of Anthony Mor.

722. A LADY'S PORTRAIT.

Unknown (German: 15th-16th century).

Formerly ascribed to Sigmund Holbein (1465-1540). A German housewife—with a characteristic mixture about her of sentimentality (for she holds a forget-me-not in her hand) and of austerity (for there is something forbidding, surely, in these terribly angular fingers of hers).

724. "OUR LADY OF THE SWALLOW."

Carlo Crivelli (Venetian: painted 1468-1493). See 602.

Full of the dainty detail which characterises the Venetian pictures of this time. Notice the fruit placed everywhere[Pg 373] about the Virgin's throne; and above, the vases of flowers and the swallow—hence the name of the picture, "Madonna della Rondine." Notice also the beautiful dress patterns and the rich hanging brocades. The Virgin's dress is a lovely silk brocade, of a design which might well be copied for muslins and curtains. In this picture, however, "Crivelli's gift of characterisation has been overpowered by his interest in the accessories. St. Jerome, indeed, is a noble and dignified figure, but who could believe in the St. Sebastian? As a study of costume the figure is interesting, reproducing every detail with minute fidelity, and bringing before us the model of a well-dressed young man of Crivelli's time. But the features are of an ignoble type, and the attitude is suggestive only of self-conscious vanity. Instead of a devout attendant at the throne, we seem to get a dandy posing for the admiration of the spectator." The scenes of the predella, on the other hand, are full of animation, of feeling, and of force (Rushforth's Crivelli, p. 72). The picture is signed by Carolus Crivellus Miles, so that it is one of his later works. In the centre of the step is the escutcheon of the Odoni family, for whose chapel in the church of the Franciscans at Matelica the picture was painted.

726. CHRIST'S AGONY IN THE GARDEN.

Giovanni Bellini (Venetian: 1426-1516). See 189.

An early work of the master, painted probably about 1459 (nearly half a century earlier than the Doge's portrait, 189), but interesting as showing the advance made by him in landscape. "We see for the first time an attempt to render a particular effect of light, the first twilight picture with clouds rosy with the lingering gleams of sunset, and light shining from the sky on hill and town—the first in which a head is seen in shadow against a brilliant sky" (Monkhouse: The Italian Pre-Raphaelites, p. 73). "In the figures of the Apostles, especially in the one on the left, the repose of sleep is expressed in so admirable and convincing a manner, that it would be difficult to name a second painter of the quattro-cento who could compare with Bellini in this respect" (Richter). Nor is the advance one in the technique of art only. The picture is one of the earliest in which art made use of what Ruskin calls "the pathetic fallacy"—in which,[Pg 374] that is, art represents nature as sympathising with human emotion. Bellini "called in nature," says Mr. Hodgson, R.A. (Magazine of Art, 1886, p 215), "to sympathise with human sorrows, or rather he was the first to point out that nature takes her colouring and her aspects from the conditions of our passions and sentiments.[173] That sombre sky, with its gleam along the horizon, that long dark hill, the wild plain over which the traitor and his accomplices are stealing, have exactly the aspect which they would present to one who stood there knowing that a horrible treason was going to be perpetrated." Compare, for this "pathetic fallacy" in painting, Titian's "Noli me tangere" (No. 270). Bellini's picture should be compared with Mantegna's of the same subject in an adjoining room (1417). Mantegna seizes only the sublimity of the idea of the Agony, Bellini's penetrating sympathy renders its infinite pathos. Mantegna's picture is in some technical respects the more accomplished; "but in all that concerns the imaginative conception of the subject, in the harmonising of all the accessories to produce a single profound impression on the emotions, above all in the large and reposeful spaciousness of the composition, Bellini is surely the more to be admired" (Roger Fry: Giovanni Bellini, p. 22). Both pictures may be profitably compared with Correggio's of the same subject, in which we are introduced to a new order of ideas (See notes on No. 76).

727. THE TRINITY.

Francesco Pesellino (Florentine: 1422-1457).

This accomplished master was called Pesellino to distinguish him from his grandfather Pesello, by whom he was brought up. He is "entitled to one of the highest places in the ranks of the Florentine School of the fifteenth century. His compositions are distinguished by their lively grace, and the beautiful and truthful expressions of the persons portrayed" (Kugler). In beauty of colour and dignity of design the work before us is his masterpiece. He was a pupil of Fra Filippo Lippi, and subsequently opened a workshop in Florence in partnership with a certain Piero di Lorenzo. He died at the early age of thirty-five, leaving a widow and several children in penury. His [Pg 375]works are very rare. Two compartments of a predella by him are in the Accademia at Florence, a fourth being in the Louvre. The collection of Morelli (now in the Public Gallery of Bergamo) contains three charming little pictures by him, which strongly recall the style of Fra Filippo (Morelli's account of the painter is in his Roman Galleries, pp. 253-58). "In the Torrigiani Palace at Florence are two remarkable panels from cassoni, there ascribed to Gozzoli, but by modern criticism more justly to Pesellino; they bear out Vasari's remark as to this painter's skill in delineating animals" (Burton).

This picture is perhaps the finest version extant of the conventional Italian representation of the mystery of the Trinity. The Son on a crucifix is supported by the Father, whilst the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove hovers over the head of the Son. The head of the First Person of the Trinity is a very majestic conception. "In this face, so full of beauty and power, of intensity and calm, as well as the careful modelling of the pathetic figure of Christ upon the cross, Pesellino touches heights which Lippi could not reach; but in the charming cherubim and seraphim with which the severity of the subject is softened and decorated, and in the beauty of the colour (though that has suffered much) we may recognise the influence of his master. We have only to compare this picture with the representations of the same subject by Landini (580a) and Orcagna (570) to show how the power to render the most august subjects had been increased by progress in technical accomplishment and the liberation of the artist's imagination, even when the elements and arrangements of the composition remained virtually unchanged from the traditional type" (Monkhouse, In the National Gallery, p. 62). The picture is referred to by Vasari: "At Pistoja is a work by Pesello, representing the Trinity, with figures of San Zeno and San Jacopo" (ii. 115). On the suppression of the religious congregation to whom the church of the Holy Trinity at Pistoja belonged, the picture was sold, and passed into the collection of Mr. Young Ottley. The side panels referred to by Vasari are still in private collections.

728. MADONNA AND CHILD.

Beltraffio (Lombard: 1467-1516).

Giovanni Antonio Beltraffio came of a noble family in Milan (his epitaph is in the Brera) and filled public offices in his native town. He fell under the influence of Leonardo, and when that master settled[Pg 376] at Milan, Beltraffio lodged in his house, and became his ardent disciple. "His most ambitious creation, where he lamentably fails, is the Louvre altar-piece, the redeeming features of which are the fine portraits of the Casio family, his friends and patrons. When he confined himself to portraiture he was often strikingly successful, and the older Milanese families still possess a number of ancestral portraits by him, some of which are of great charm. He seems to have become the pet artist of the society of his day, often painting the portraits of his friends in the guise of a St. Sebastian, or as Sta. Barbara. He accompanied Leonardo to Rome in 1514. Although not a great artist, and entirely lacking in imagination and dramatic power, he exhibits singular refinement. His cultured intellect enabled him to appreciate, and in a measure reflect, the fastidious spirit of his master. His works charm by their high finish, and by the absence of all vulgarity or display. His portraits do not reveal much penetration, and he never caught the subtleties of character or the intellectual qualities of his sitters" (Catalogue of the Burlington Fine Arts Club Exhibition, 1898, p. lviii.). His pictures are for the most part on a small scale. Good specimens are to be seen in the Morelli collection at Bergamo, and the Poldi-Pezzoli collection at Milan. To delineate the human figure on a large scale, or human passions, was not his forte; he succeeded better in expressing naïve innocence in children, and gentle grace in the Mother of God, or devoted women (Morelli's German Galleries, pp. 425-48; Roman Galleries, p. 163).

Of Beltraffio's powers in the respect last mentioned this charming picture is perhaps the best specimen extant. The child with its quaint belly-band, and still more the noble but slightly languishing grace of the mother, at once recall Leonardo.

729. THE ADORATION OF THE KINGS.

Vincenzo Foppa (Lombard: about 1425-1492).

Foppa—Il Vecchio as he is called, to distinguish him from a younger Foppa of the Brescian School[174]—is an important person in the history of art. Born at Brescia, but removing in early manhood to Milan, he "holds both in the School of Brescia, and especially in that of Milan, the same place that the mighty Mantegna does at Padua, and Cosimo Tura at Ferrara," representing that early period of development when force of character is more insisted on than beauty of expression. In relation to the Milanese, Foppa was the founder of [Pg 377]the school which prevailed before and up to the time of Leonardo da Vinci. He was already an artist of repute in 1456, when he was employed to decorate the Medici Palace at Milan with frescoes. These works, and many others executed by him in Milan and the neighbourhood, have perished. His best remaining frescoes are those of the Four Fathers of the Church in S. Eustorgio at Milan. Foppa was also employed in Genoa and Savona. Late in life he returned to Brescia, where he received a renewed grant of citizenship, and a pension, and where also he died. Of his extant works, the earliest is a Crucifixion in the Bergamo gallery. This is dated 1456, and supports the statement of old writers that Foppa had studied under Squarcione at Padua. His latest work is the altar-piece, now in S. Maria di Castello at Savona. This belongs to the year 1490, and agrees in style with our National Gallery picture. Foppa is said to have written on perspective, and many painters of the Lombard School studied under him.

Traces of the older style of work, from which Foppa freed his school, may here be seen in the embossed ornaments in gilt stucco. Notice the daintiness of the picture throughout: the pretty flowers in the foreground, the splendid brocades of the kneeling king, the birds and weeds in the ruined stable. In the background are the star and city of Bethlehem. "The general effect is dark and heavy, relieved by an abundant use of red; the flesh tones, as usual, are of ashen hue. The Madonna is of Foppa's characteristic type, of solid build. It is interesting to find that there is little or no direct trace of Leonardesque influence, a fact which shows that Foppa was too advanced in years to modify perceptibly his style on the advent of the mighty Florentine in 1481" (Catalogue of the Burlington Fine Arts Club Exhibition, 1898, p. xxviii.).

732. A CANAL SCENE.

Aart van der Neer (Dutch: 1603-1677). See 152.

The figures in the picture are supposed to be by Lingelbach (see No. 837).

734. A MILANESE LAWYER.

Andrea Solario (Lombard: about 1460-1520).

Andrea belonged to an artist family, the Solari (of Solaro, a village near Saronna); one of his brothers, Christopher (nicknamed "Il Gobbo," the hunchback), was an architect and sculptor, and from[Pg 378] him perhaps Andrea learnt his superb modelling of the head—a point which is conspicuous in this picture, and in which he surpassed all his contemporaries. His repute in his own time is attested by the journey he made to France in 1507. The Cardinal George of Amboise desired to entrust the decoration of a chapel to Leonardo; but Leonardo was too much taken up with hydraulic works at Milan to accept the commission, and the Cardinal's representative sent Andrea in the great man's place. It is not known with whom Solario studied painting, but his subject-pictures prove conclusively that he came within Leonardo's sphere of influence. "Although by birth and training a Lombard artist, Solario was so much in Venice that his native style was largely modified. There is no historical evidence that he ever met Antonello da Messina, but his works bear such close resemblance to that master's productions that it cannot be doubted they were acquainted. The portrait No. 923 is obviously Venetian in character; indeed, it passed not long since under Bellini's name. It seems unnecessary to suppose [with Morelli] that he paid a visit to Flanders. The Flemish traits so conspicuous in his work could well be derived from contact with Antonello. To the end of his life he painted with the utmost finish and delicacy. The brilliance and warmth of his colour compensate for the somewhat cold ivory pallor of his flesh tones. His landscapes are remarkably picturesque and full of incident. That behind the figure of Longono in the National Gallery portrait is of the greatest delicacy and charm" (Catalogue of the Burlington Fine Arts Club Exhibition, 1898, p. lxi. See also Morelli's German Galleries, pp. 63-68; Roman Galleries, pp. 170-176). Subject-pictures by Solario may be seen in the Brera and the Poldi-Pezzoli Gallery at Milan, and in the Louvre. His last work was a large "Assumption of the Virgin" for the Certosa of Pavia (now in the Sacristy), which his death prevented him from finishing.

A portrait (dated 1505) of the artist's friend, a Milanese lawyer, whose name, John Christopher Longono, is written on a letter in his right hand. He wears the gown and cap (not unlike that still worn by French "advocates") of his profession. Observe the landscape background—here quaintly peopled with prancing dogs and horses on the left, and servants in red pushing off boats on the right—with which the old painters, like some of our modern photographers, were fond of flattering their subjects. But in this case the subject is well entitled to his "setting," for he is a nobleman as well as a lawyer, and the background is perhaps studied from his country seat. On the bottom of the panel is a Latin inscription which, literally interpreted, runs, "Not knowing what you have been or what you may be, may it for long be your study to be able to see what you are," i.e. by looking at this picture of yourself—a[Pg 379] neatly-turned compliment at once to the painter and his subject: the picture is to last for many a long year, and the lawyer for many a long year is to grow no older. Or is the inscription also meant to describe the lawyer's character in words, as the portrait does in colours—a man not troubled overmuch with what has been or what may be hereafter, but one who is keenly alive to what he is, and who pours all his powers into the tasks and interests of the present?

735. ST. ROCH WITH THE ANGEL.

Paolo Morando (Veronese: 1486-1522).

Paolo Morando, otherwise known as Cavazzola (his father was Taddeo Cavazzola di Jacobi di Morando), was a pupil of Morone (see 285). He "infused a higher life, and a fine system of colouring into the Veronese School, making thus a great advance upon his contemporaries, and preparing the way for Paul Veronese.... He shows, as Dr. Burckhardt has justly observed, 'a marvellous transition from the realism of the fifteenth century to the noble free character of the sixteenth, not to an empty idealism'" (Layard, i. 270). His masterpieces are still in his native Verona, and nowhere else, except in the National Gallery, can he be studied.

St. Roch is the patron of the sick and plague-stricken. The legend says that he left great riches to travel as a pilgrim to Rome, where he tended those sick of the plague, and by his intercession effected miraculous cures. Through many cities he laboured thus, until at last in Piacenza he became himself plague-stricken, and with a horrible ulcer in his thigh he was turned out into a lonely wood. He has here laid aside his pilgrim staff and hung his hat upon it, and prepared himself to die, when an angel appears to him and drops a fresh rose on his path. There is no rose without a thorn, and no thorn in a saint's crown without a rose. He bares his thigh to show his wound to the angel, who (says the legend) dressed it for him, whilst his little dog miraculously brought him every morning a loaf of bread.

736. A VENETIAN SENATOR.

Francesco Bonsignori (Veronese: 1455-1519).

Called incorrectly, by Vasari, Monsignori. He was born at Verona, where, in the churches of S. Fermo, S. Bernardino, S. Paolo, and[Pg 380] in the Pinacoteca, works by him may be seen. In the grand but not always attractive productions of his earlier style, Bonsignori followed the traditions and manner of the Veronese School. Later in life he went to Mantua, where he settled and was influenced by Mantegna (see Morelli's German Galleries, p. 103, note).

A portrait—remarkable for vigorous execution, and strong individuality—of a senator, from the life, "in his habit as he stood,"—a branch of art in which this painter excelled. He has been called indeed "the modern Zeuxis," after the famous Greek painter whose painted grapes deceived the birds. For so lifelike were Bonsignori's pictures—says Vasari in his entertaining account of this painter—that on one occasion a dog rushed at a painted dog on the artist's canvas, whilst on another a bird flew forward to perch itself on the extended arm of a painted child. The portrait before us is executed in tempera. The study in chalk, for it is in the Albertina collection at Vienna.

737. A WATERFALL.

Ruysdael (Dutch: 1628-1682). See 627.

739. THE ANNUNCIATION.

Carlo Crivelli (Venetian: painted 1468-1493). See 602.

Mary is kneeling in her chamber; while a golden ray from a glory above, piercing the house wall, has struck her head, over which is hovering a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit. The angel of the Annunciation is outside in the court, but she cannot see him, for a wall stands between them—"a treatment of the subject which may be intended to suggest that the angel appeared to her in a dream." It also gives the painter an opportunity for introducing an additional display of incident and ornament. Beside the angel is St. Emidius, the patron saint of Ascoli, with a model of the city in his hand. "There could not be better examples of what we may call Crivelli's 'exquisite' style, which is only just saved by its refinement from mere prettiness and affectation. This angel is a poseur if ever there was one." The picture is very characteristic, in two features, of mediæval art. First, it was never antiquarian: it did not attempt to give a correct historical setting (cf. under[Pg 381] 294). No mediæval painter made the Virgin a Jewess; they nationalised her, as it were, and painted her in the likeness of their own maidens. So too their scenery was the likeness of their own homes and their own country. Here, for instance, is a picture of an Italian city in gala attire, somewhat idealised, no doubt, in splendour, but otherwise a "perfectly true representation of what the architecture of Italy was in her glorious time; trim, dainty,—red and white like the blossom of a carnation,—touched with gold like a peacock's plumes, and frescoed, even to its chimney-pots, with fairest arabesques,—its inhabitants, and it together, one harmony of work and life" (Guide to the Venetian Academy, p. 21). And secondly, the picture shows the pleasure the painters took in their accessories, and the frank humour—free at once from irreverence and from gloom—with which the Venetians especially approached what was to them a religion of daily life. Notice especially the little girl at the top of the steps on the left, looking round the corner. The whole of this side of the picture shows a naturalistic treatment which forms "a curious accompaniment and contrast to Crivelli's ordinary conventional manner. The group talking with a friar at the house door, the citizen who passes along bent on business, the dandy who shades his eyes from the sun and looks up at the house, the figures on the arch, and the people walking in the open space by the town walls beyond, make up a picture of real life unequalled among Crivelli's works" (Rushworth's Crivelli, p. 63). As a representation of the "Annunciation," the picture should be compared and contrasted with Lippi's (666). The Madonna and the Angel, "though essential to the work from the point of view of the patrons, who commissioned it, were merely its occasion from the point of view of that extraordinarily painstaking and detail-loving creature, its painter. There is endless profusion of decorative work; elaborate arabesques on the pilasters of the Madonna's lordly house, elaborate capitals, elaborate loggias, an elaborate cornice. The grain of the wood on her reading-desk is carefully painted; so are the planks in the wall of her bedchamber.... Besides the endless interest of its decorative work, this picture is useful as marking the difference between the spiritual and ideal motives which dominated Florence, and the worldly motives of richness and splendour which dominated Venice. Compare its purely adventitious detail with the poetical background of Filippo Lippi. In the Florentine, the detail is there[Pg 382] for the sake of the picture; in the Venetian, the picture is there for the sake of the detail" (Grant Allen, in the Pall Mall Magazine, July 1895). See under 1139 for further notes on the subject.

The picture is signed and dated, 1486, at the bottom of the pilasters of the Virgin's chamber. On the face of the step below is an inscription between three coats of arms (the Bishop's, the Pope's, and the town's)—Libertas Ecclesiastica, which is of some historical interest. In the year 1482 the city of Ascoli came to an agreement with the Pope, whereby, in return for an annual tribute and the acknowledgment of his suzerainty, the Pope issued a Bull in favour of its citizens, conferring on them municipal Home Rule. A new phrase—Libertas Ecclesiastica, Independence under the Church—was invented to describe the new settlement. The arrival of the Charter on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, was celebrated henceforth by ceremonies on that day, in which a procession to the church of the Annunziata was a prominent feature. Our picture was painted for that church, where it remained until 1790.

740. MADONNA AND CHILD.

Sassoferrato (Eclectic: 1605-1685). See 200.

741. THE DEAD ORLANDO.

Ascribed to Velazquez.[175] See under 197.

The closing scene, according to one of the many legends, in the history of that "peerless paladin," Orlando, or Roland, who was slain at the battle of Roncesvalles, when returning from Charlemagne's expedition against the Saracens in Spain. Invulnerable to the sword, he was squeezed to death by Bernardo del Carpio. He lies, therefore, prostrate, but fully dressed and armed, his right hand resting on his chest, his left on the hilt of his famous sword. Over the dead man's feet there hangs from a branch a small brass lamp, the flame of which, like the hero's life, has just expired. On either side [Pg 383]are the skulls and bones of other "paladins and peers who on Roncesvalles died."

742. PORTRAIT OF A LAWYER.

Moroni (Bergamese: 1525-1578). See 697.

An excellent example of the painter's third or naturalistic manner. There is an ease of attitude and an absence of constraint which makes the portrait transparently natural.

744. THE "GARVAGH MADONNA."

Raphael (Umbrian: 1483-1520). See 1171.

This picture—known as the "Garvagh Madonna," from its former owner, Lord Garvagh, or the "Aldobrandini Madonna," from having originally belonged to the Aldobrandini apartments of the Borghese Palace at Rome—belongs to Raphael's third or Roman period, and a comparison with the "Ansidei" shows the changes in feeling between the painter's earlier and later manners. The devotional character of the Umbrian School is less marked. In the "Ansidei Madonna" the divinity of the Virgin is insisted on; and above her throne is the inscription "Hail, Mother of Christ." But here the divinity is only dimly indicated by a halo. And as the Madonna is here a merely human mother, so is the child a purely human child. The saints in contemplation of the "Ansidei" are replaced by a little St. John, and the two children play with a pink. The expressions of the children, as indeed the whole picture, are full of sweetness and beauty.[176] Very beautiful too is the pyramidal composition of the group. Of the ultimate significance of the change marked by Raphael's third manner, Ruskin says that it—

"Was all the more fatal because at first veiled by an appearance of greater dignity and sincerity than were possessed by the older art. One of the earliest results of the new knowledge was the putting away the greater part of the unlikelihoods and fineries of the ancient pictures, and an apparently closer following of nature and probability. The [Pg 384]appearances of nature were more closely followed in everything; and the crowned Queen-Virgin of Perugino sank into a simple Italian mother in Raphael's 'Madonna of the Chair.' ... But the glittering childishness of the old art was rejected, not because it was false, but because it was easy; and, still more, because the painter had no longer any religious passion to express. He could think of the Madonna now very calmly, with no desire to pour out the treasures of earth at her feet, or cover her brows with the golden shafts of heaven. He could think of her as an available subject for the display of transparent shadows, skilful tints, and scientific foreshortenings,—as a fair woman, forming, if well painted, a pleasant piece of furniture for the corner of a boudoir, and best imagined by combination of the beauties of the prettiest contadinas"[177] (Modern Painters, vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. iv. §§ 12, 13).

It should, however, be remembered that the "Madonna di San Sisto," perhaps the most spiritual of all Raphael's conceptions, was the latest of the series.

745. KING PHILIP IV. OF SPAIN.

Velazquez (Spanish: 1599-1660). See 197.

Few kings have left so many enduring monuments of themselves as Philip IV., whose face figures twice on these walls and meets one in nearly every European gallery. But nowhere, perhaps, has it been more supremely rendered than on this canvas, where the king seems to live and move before us. The picture is "perhaps the finest example of oil-painting accessible to the British student. Though one of the later works of the master, it is constructed out of a carefully wrought and smooth impasto, without any 'bravura' strokes. The lights are nowhere loaded. The hair is painted, not modelled; the jewels on the dress are easily touched in without relief-effect or juggling. The wonder of the thing is the infinite variety over a surface so simply treated. The face is in such broad, even light that one has to adopt some device which brings it freshly into the field of vision—as by [Pg 385]turning the head down or looking at it through the hand—in order to see how firm is the modelling. The flesh-tints are simple enough. Yet take almost any square inch of surface on the face—say the upper lip with its moustache—and note the effect of each one of the free brush-strokes which draw the pale, umber hair over the warm rubbing on the flesh; or in the cold, lack-lustre, blue eye, measure the apparent ease of the touches against their firm, incisive clearness. Everything is there—form, expression—in a word, the life; but it has all grown into perfection on the canvas so quietly, so smoothly, as if Velazquez had indeed painted with the will only and not with the hand" (Baldwin Brown: The Fine Arts, p. 319). "Velazquez fuses his colours in a way that baffles painters. They melt into each other by imperceptible gradations, as he deals with plane after plane in his subtly-modelled faces. Observe the action of light on the pallid face of the worn-out king, giving to the skin the breath of life in its delicate transparency" (Quarterly Review, April 1899).

The face is one which, once seen, is not soon forgotten. Velazquez, as we have said, caught its expression at once, and by comparing the face in its youth (1129) with its middle age here, one can almost trace the king's career. In youth we see him cold and phlegmatic, but slender in figure graceful and dignified in bearing, and with a fine open forehead. But the young king was bent on ease and pleasure, and his minister Olivares did nothing to persuade him into more active kingship. The less pleasing traits in his character have, in consequence, come to be deeper impressed at the time of this later portrait. He was devoted to sport, and the cruelty of the Spaniard is conspicuous in the lip—more underhung now than before. In the growth of the double chin and yet greater impassiveness of expression, one may see the traces of that "talent for dead silence and marble immobility" which, says the historian, "he so highly improved that he could sit out a comedy without stirring hand or foot, and conduct an audience without movement of a muscle, except those in his lips and tongue." It is not the face of a great ruler; but it is one which rightly lives on a painter's canvas, for no king was ever at once so liberal and so enlightened a patron of the arts as he. Himself too he was something of an artist; and the best-known piece of his painting tells a pretty story, which it is pleasant to remember[Pg 386] in front of Velazquez's portraits of him. Velazquez painted once his own portrait in the background of the king's family (the "Maids of Honour"—Las Meninas—now at Madrid). "Is there anything wrong with it?" Velazquez asked. "Yes," said the king, taking the palette in his hand, "just this"—and he sketched in on the painter's portrait the coveted red cross of the order of Santiago. "In all his portraits Philip wears the golilla, a stiff linen collar projecting at right angles from the neck. It was invented by the king, who was very proud of it. In regard to the wonderful structure of Philip's moustaches, it is said that, to preserve their form, they were encased during the night in perfumed leather covers called bigoteras" (J. F. White, in Encyclopædia Britannica).

746. A LANDSCAPE WITH RUINS.

Ruysdael (Dutch: 1628-1682). See 627.

This picture is signed and dated 1673.

747. ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST AND ST. LAWRENCE.

Ascribed to Hans Memlinc. See 686.

St. Lawrence may nearly always be distinguished by his gridiron—the emblem of his martyrdom. He was a pious deacon of the Christian Church, who was put to death by the Romans. A new kind of torture was, says the legend, prepared for him. He was stretched on a sort of bed, formed of iron bars in the manner of a gridiron, and was roasted alive. "But so great was his constancy that in the middle of his torments he said, 'Seest thou not, O thou foolish man, that I am already roasted on one side, and that, if thou wouldst have me well cooked, it is time to turn me on the other?' Then St. Lawrence lifted up his eyes, and his pure and invincible spirit fled to heaven."

748. MADONNA AND CHILD, WITH ST. ANNE.

Girolamo dai Libri (Veronese: 1474-1556).

Girolamo inherited his surname ("of the books") from the occupation of his father, who was an illuminator of manuscripts. Girolamo himself excelled in this branch of art, but he also became famous as a[Pg 387] painter of altar-pieces. He had "a playful fancy, and loved to introduce into his pictures festoons of flowers and fruit, trees of rich green foliage bearing lemons and oranges, and angels singing and playing on musical instruments. He was a true Veronese in his feeling for colour, which in his works is always rich and gay. In his backgrounds are frequently seen distant views of his native city, with her castellated hills and blue mountains" (Layard, i. 269). Girolamo, whose friendship with Francesco Morone (285) is on record, was born in Verona, and it is there that many of his principal works are preserved. In the Pinacoteca are several charming pictures, and there also is a collection of Girolamo's missals. In S. Giorgio Maggiore is a "Madonna Enthroned," dated 1526, which is by many considered the painter's masterpiece. The German artist Ludwig Richter,[178] thus records (in his Lebenserinnerungen) the impression it made upon him:—"I thought that I had scarcely ever seen anything so beautiful and touching. The picture was by Girolamo dai Libri, an old master of whom until then I had never heard, nor, indeed, have I seen any other picture by him since. Here it was that there first arose in me a suspicion of what a depth of spiritual life, and of the heavenly beauty that is born of it, lay in the masters of the pre-Raphaelite period. The master's way of seeing and feeling, his style—and the style is the man—impressed me deeply and permanently, touched me sympathetically. In fact this dear old painter became veritably my patron saint, for he it was who first opened to me the gates of the inner sanctuary of Art" (quoted by Dr. Richter, in the Art Journal, February, 1895).

A picture "with a pedigree," being mentioned by Vasari. "In the church of the Scala (at Verona)," he says, in his life of the painter, "the picture of the Madonna with St. Anna is by his hand, and is placed between the San Sebastiano of Il Moro and the San Rocco of Cavazzola (Morando)." The latter picture (735) and Girolamo's now hang on the same wall of our Gallery. In the composition of this picture one may trace, perhaps, the influence of the dainty work Girolamo was first accustomed to. Thus the trefoil, or cloverleaf pattern, is followed both in the arrangement of the Virgin, St. Anne, and the Child, and in that of the little playing angels below. Notice the pretty trellis-work of roses on either side, and the slain dragon at the Virgin's feet, emblematic (the latter) of Christ's victory over the powers of evil, and (the former) of the "ways of pleasantness" and "paths of peace" that he came to prepare.

[Pg 388]

749. THE GIUSTI FAMILY OF VERONA.

Niccolo Giolfino (Veronese: painted 1486-1518).

Little is known of this painter except that he was a friend of Mantegna. The façade of his house at Verona was painted with frescoes, the upper part by Mantegna, the lower by Giolfino himself. He was probably a scholar of Liberale, to whose altar-piece in the cathedral at Verona he added the wings. One of his best works is a large altar-piece in S. Anastasia in that city.

Two groups of family portraits, chiefly interesting for studies in costume, originally in one picture, which formed the predella of an altar-piece: hence the upward look of some of the faces.

750. THE DOGE GIOVANNI MOCENIGO.

Lazzaro Bastiani (Venetian: about 1425-1512).
See also (p. xx)

This picture was, until recently, ascribed to Carpaccio, of whom, therefore, some account is here retained. It was once inscribed with Carpaccio's name and the date 1479, but these, having been shown to be false, were removed. The work is now attributed, in accordance with the conclusions reached by Signor Molmenti and Dr. Ludwig[179] to Bastiani.

Lazzaro Bastiani was for many years the victim of one of Vasari's confusions. Carpaccio, we are told by that authority, "taught his art to two of his brothers, both of whom imitated him closely; one of these was called Lazzaro, the other Sebastiano." No such painters existed; but the name of Lazzaro Bastiani is on record as that of a painter already at work in 1449. The presumption is, therefore, that he was not taught by, but the master of, Carpaccio, by which latter painter there is no dated work before 1490. Numerous records of later works by Bastiani from 1449 onwards have been discovered; and there is a public document of December 11, 1508, in which Bastiani and Carpaccio were appointed to value the frescoes executed by Giorgione on the Fondaco dei Tedeschi. Our picture, hitherto supposed to be an early work of Carpaccio, should be compared with the signed and dated (1484) work of Bastiani in the Duomo of Murano, representing a Canon kneeling before the Virgin. Other pictures by him are in the Academies of Vienna and Venice respectively.

Various technical similarities between the work of Bastiani and Carpaccio are pointed out by Sig. Molmenti and Dr. Ludwig, but Bastiani's pictures lack the charm and gaiety of Carpaccio and his chief claim to fame is that which the critics now award him of having been the master of that great painter.

[Pg 389]

The works of Vittore Carpaccio (about 1450-1522) have of recent years attracted great attention owing to the prominence given to them by Ruskin in all his writings since 1870. Of "The Presentation" in the Venetian Academy (dated 1510) he says: "You may measure yourself, outside and in,—your religion, your taste, your knowledge of art, your knowledge of men and things,—by the quantity of admiration which honestly, after due time given, you can feel for this picture. You are not required to think the Madonna pretty, or to receive the same religious delight from the conception of the scene which you would rightly receive from Angelico, Filippo Lippi, or Perugino. This is essentially Venetian,—prosaic, matter of fact,—retaining its supreme common-sense through all enthusiasm. Nor are you required to think this a first-rate work in Venetian colour. This is the best picture in the Academy, precisely because it is not the best piece of colour there;—because the great master has subdued his own main passion, and restrained his colour-faculty, though the best in Venice, that you might not say the moment you came before the picture, as you do of the Paris Bordone, 'What a piece of colour!' Carpaccio does not want you to think of his colour, but of your Christ.... If you begin really to feel the picture, observe that its supreme merit is in the exactly just balance of all virtue;—detail perfect, yet inconspicuous; composition intricate and severe, but concealed under apparent simplicity; and painter's faculty of the supremest, used nevertheless with entire subjection of it to intellectual purpose." Other powers of Carpaccio are better seen in the St. Ursula Series, also in the Venetian Academy, and since Ruskin's day honourably hung. "They are," says Layard, "masterly works, rich in all that gives value and grandeur to historical art. The rather monotonous history which forms the groundwork of many of them is throughout varied and elevated by a free style of grouping and by happy moral allusions. The colours, notwithstanding injudicious cleanings and restorations, still shine with the purest light. The variety of expression, always lifelike, in the many figures, their beautiful and simple action, and the admirable dramatic representation of the different incidents connected with the story, give these pictures an inexpressible charm. The subject of the dream of the young St. Ursula, in bed in her chamber, with her table and an open book upon it and her vase of flowers, has a purity and simplicity quite unique" (i. 320). These pictures were painted 1490-5. Of later date (1502-1511) is the series in the little church of S. Giorgio degli Schiavoni. They are full of the charm of picturesque reality, the wealth of rich and quaint accessories, the playful fancy and penetrative imagination, which characterise Carpaccio. Occasional works by him are to be seen in various continental galleries (e.g. Milan and Ferrara); but it is only in Venice that any adequate conception of him can be formed. Of his life little is known. He was born either in one of the Venetian islands, or in Istria. He generally signed himself "Victor Carpathius." Vasari calls him Scarpaccia; in old Venetian documents, he is Scarpaza. "He was associated with Gentile Bellini in executing the historical paintings for the Hall of the Great Council[Pg 390] in the Ducal Palace, and it has been thought possible that he accompanied Gentile to Constantinople as an assistant. The minute knowledge of Oriental customs and costumes which his works display suggests that he had visited the East, and even those parts of it which were then still under the sway of the Sultans of Egypt" (Burton). Ruskin's criticisms, and descriptions of his principal pictures, will be found in his Guide to the Academy at Venice, St. Mark's Rest (Supplements), and Fors Clavigera, 1872, xx.; 1873, xxvi.; 1876, pp. 329, 340, 357, 381; 1877, p. 26; 1878, p. 182. An earlier reference is in the Oxford Lectures on Art, § 73. Copies from some of Carpaccio's "Schiavoni" pictures are in the Arundel Society's Collection. Copies of the "Ursula" series and other pictures made for Ruskin are in the St. George's Museum at Sheffield.

This is a votive picture commissioned by Giovanni Mocenigo (who reigned over Venice 1477-1485), to be presented by him, according to the custom with reigning doges, to the Ducal Palace. The scene selected represents the doge kneeling before the Virgin and begging her protection on the occasion of the plague of 1478. The gold vase on the altar before the throne contains medicaments, for which, according to the inscription below, a blessing is invoked: "Celestial Virgin, preserve the City and Republic of Venice and the Venetian State, and extend your protection to me if I deserve it." Behind the doge is his patron saint St. John, on the opposite side is St. Christopher. The setting thus chosen for the doge's picture is characteristic. "The first step towards the ennobling of any face is the ridding it of its vanity; to which aim there cannot be anything more contrary than that principle of portraiture which prevails with us in these days, whose end seems to be the expression of vanity throughout, in face and in all circumstances of accompaniment; tending constantly to insolence of attitude, and levity and haughtiness of expression, and worked out further in mean accompaniments of worldly splendour and possession; together with hints or proclamations of what the person has done or supposes himself to have done, which, if known, it is gratuitous in the portrait to exhibit, and, if unknown, it is insolent to proclaim.... To which practices are to be opposed ... the mighty and simple modesty of ... Venice, where we find the ... doges not set forth with thrones and curtains of state, but kneeling, always crownless, and returning thanks to God for his help; or as priests, interceding for the nation in its affliction" (Modern Painters, vol. ii. pt. iii. sec. i. ch. xiv. § 19). The picture was bought in 1865 from the Doge's descendant, Aloise Count Mocenigo di Sant' Eustachio.

[Pg 391]

751. MADONNA AND CHILD.

Giovanni Santi (Umbrian: about 1440-1494).

This picture is of peculiar interest because it is by Raphael's father. It does not, however, give a full idea of the extent to which Raphael's talent was hereditary, for Giovanni's easel pictures, such as this, are inferior to his wall pictures. The young Raphael had all the advantages of an atmosphere of artistic culture. Giovanni, like his father before him, was a well-to-do burgher, and kept originally a general retail shop, but he afterwards—under the teaching, it is thought, of Melozzo da Forli—took to painting, and his house, if one may judge from Piero della Francesca's visit in 1467, was a resort of painters. At the brilliant court of Duke Federigo of Urbino, Giovanni moreover acquired a taste for literature, and there is a long rhyming chronicle by him extant in which he describes the Duke's visit to Mantua, and amongst other things praises greatly the works of Mantegna, Melozzo, and Piero della Francesca. But to see how much of Raphael's genius was original, one has only to compare this picture by the father with one (say 744) by the son. Giovanni's female heads are not without a mild dignity of their own; but his works lack the soft grace and winning charm that distinguish his son's.

"Worth study, in spite of what critics say of its crudity. Concede its immaturity, at least, though an immaturity visibly susceptible of a delicate grace, it wins you nevertheless to return again and again, and ponder, by a sincere expression of sorrow, profound, yet resigned, be the cause what it may, among all the causes of sorrow inherent in the ideal of maternity, human or divine. But if you keep in mind, when looking at it, the facts of Raphael's childhood,[180] you will recognise in his father's picture, not the anticipated sorrow of the Mater Dolorosa over the dead son, but the grief of a simple household over the mother herself taken early from it. This may have been the first picture the eyes of the world's great painter of Madonnas rested on; and if he stood diligently before it to copy, and so copying, quite unconsciously, and with no disloyalty to his original, refined, improved, substituted,—substituted himself, in fact, his finer self—he had already struck the persistent note of his career" (Pater: Miscellaneous Studies, p. 32).

[Pg 392]

752. MADONNA AND CHILD.

Lippo Dalmasii (Bolognese: painted 1376-1410).
See also (p. xx)

A picture by a Bolognese artist, of the Giottesque period, Lippo, son of Dalmasius, called also "Lippo of the Madonna," from the many pictures like this he painted: no Bolognese gentleman's family, we are told, was considered complete without one.

753. ON THE ROAD TO EMMAUS.

Altobello Melone (Cremonese: painted about 1500).

There was no native and independent school of Cremona. Melone was a pupil of Romanino at Brescia. He painted some of the frescoes in the nave of Cremona Cathedral.

Two of Christ's disciples are walking after his death and burial to Emmaus. The risen Christ "drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden, that they should not know him" (Luke xxiv. 16). The painter makes excuses for the disciples not recognising their Master by naïvely dressing Him as a tourist with an alpenstock.

755. RHETORIC.}
756. MUSIC.  }

Melozzo da Forli (Umbrian: 1438-1494).

Melozzo, born at Fo