Brussels Picture Gallery - Other Halls
( Originally Published 1904 )
NOW go into the next hall, marked Room II. on the plan. This contains mainly German and Flemish pictures of the transition.
Right of the door, unknown and unnumbered, Adam and Eve. Good later Flemish nude.
125. Quaint German Annunciation.
130. Crucifixion, by an unknown German, with small figures of donors, and Rhine back-ground.
14,15. Cranach the Elder (German sixteenth century) : Adam and Eve. Fine specimens of the later northern nude of the early Renaissance, interesting for comparison with the cruder realism of Van Eyck. As yet, however, even the figure of Eve has relatively little idealism or beauty. Excellent stag in the background.
137. Six panels : German School. Ornate, but not interesting. (I) The Lord creating Eve; in the background the Temptation. (2) Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac; in the background in three successive scenes, Abraham's Sacrifice. (3) Noah and his Family with the Ark. (4) Esau asks the Blessing of Isaac. (5) Meeting of Jacob and Esau. Note the grotesquely urban conception of the Semitic nomads. (6) The Nativity.
129. German School. Tree of Jesse, of purely symbolical interest.
28. J. Joest : St. Anne enthroned, Joseph, Our Lady, the Infant. Early transitional.
293. Van Hemessen : Genre piece, absurdly given the name of The Prodigal Son, by, a sort of Prescription, but really a Flemish tavern scene of the sort which afterward appealed to Dutch artists. A characteristic work : transitional, but with good humourous faces, especially to the right. Painters still thought all pictures must pretend to be sacred.
2. Mostart : Two stories from the life of $t. Benedict. (i) The Miracle of his dinner. (2; As a youth, he mends by prayer the dish broken by his nurse. (See Mrs. Jame-son's " Monastic Orders.")
3. Lancelot Blondeel: St. Peter enthroned as Pope : in one of his usual extravagant architectural frameworks. In circles above, his Imprisonment and Crucifixion.
Close by, unnumbered, two excellent portraits.
79. Transitional Adoration of the Shepherds. Observe the growing Renaissance feeling and Italian influence.
4A. P. Brueghel the Younger : absurdly called The Census at Bethlehem. In reality a Flemish Winter Scene.
356. Sir Anthony More : Portrait of the Duke of Alva, with the firm lips and cruel eyes of the ruthless Spaniard. One under-stands him.
3B. J. Bosch : Appalling Flemish Temptation of St. Anthony, with perhaps the silliest and most grotesquely repulsive devils ever painted.
387. Good portrait by Pourbus of a plump and well-fed Flemish gentleman.
4. Brueghel the Elder : Described as the Massacre of the Innocents. Flemish winter. The beginning of genre painting.
Most of the pictures skied above these are of some interest for comparison with earlier examples of the same subjects.
152. Unknown French portrait of Edward VI. of England. Hard and dry and of little artistic value.
76. Tolerable Flemish portrait of Guillaume de Croy (Golden Fleece).
Another example of a later Last Judgment.
Unusual combined picture of St. Jerome, uniting the subjects usually known as St. Jerome in the Desert and St. Jerome in his Study.
91. Flemish School: Annunciation. Chiefly interesting for its conventional feature, and its very quaint figure of St. Mary of Egypt, with her three loaves, in the right panel.
121. Good Flemish portrait of a woman, dated 1504.
132. German Adoration of the Magi. A fragment only.
153. Aertsen : The Dutch Cook. A famous picture, showing well the earlier stages of Dutch genre development.
A late Flemish Virgin, with portrait of the donor, and St. Francis receiving the Stigmata. Beneath it
386. A good Pourbus. Beyond the door, 66, Flemish School (Hugo van der Goes?). Donor, a lady in a nun's dress (?), with her name-saint, St. Barbara, bearing her palm as martyr : in the background, her tower with the three windows. To balance it, 65, Her brother (?) or husband, with his patron, St. James. (Staff and scallop-shell.)
Above them, good portrait of Philip II., of the later transitional period. At the corner, Adam and Eve, showing the increased Italian influence. Compare with the two previous stages of northern nude in the Van Eyck and the Cranach. Beside it, tolerable Flemish portraits.
Above, 84, Triptych, by Jan Coninxloo, of the History of St. Nicholas. (The wings are misplaced.) Right wing (it should be left), St. Nicholas, three days old, stands up in his bath to thank God for having brought him into the world. Central panel, the young St. Nicholas enthroned as Bishop of Myra. Left wing' (should be right), The Death of St. Nicholas, with angels standing by to convey his soul to Heaven. A good transitional Flemish picture. Beneath, tolerable portraits.
Near this, skied, are four good female saint , transitional, named on labels.
355. Sir Anthony More. Portrait. Above it, an Entombment, where note again the conventional grouping.
44k. Wings of a triptych by Bernard van Orle. The centre is missing. To the left, Martyrdom of St. Matthias. To the right, The Doubting Thomas. In the background, Lazarus and Dives, and other episodes. Renaissance architecture.
155. Van Alsloot: The Procession of the Body of St. Gudula at Brussels : of the Spanish period, with the guilds named. Interest purely archæological. Each guild carries its mace and symbol. (The second part comes later.
46. Portrait, of the School of Van Orley : lady with a pink, pleasing. Italian influence is obvious.
489. Portrait of a lady, by M. De Vos. Early seventeenth century, marking the latest transitional period. It belongs to a destroyed triptych.
3A. Bosch : St. Michael the Archangel conquering the devils. A hideous nightmare of a morbid and disordered imagination.
488. Portrait by M. De Vos. Probably husband of (and pendant to) the previous one. It was the other wing of the same triptych.
45. Very Raphaelesque Holy Family, by Bernard van Orley, showing in the highest degree the Italian influence on this originally quite Flemish painter.
Above it, 92 and 92A. Portraits of the Micault family.
156. Van Alsloot : Remainder of the Procession of St. Gudula, with a quaint dragon, and the Maison du Roi in the background. Observe, near the centre, the personification of the patron, St. Michael : elsewhere are St. Christopher, Ste. Gudule, etc.
44. Two panels from a triptych by Van Orley. Centre, missing. Left, The Birth of the Virgin. Note this for the conventional features : St. Anne in bed ; attendant feeding her: bath for infant. In the background, Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple : Joachim and Anna below : the Virgin ascending :II the High Priest welcoming her : the Virgins of the Lord by the side. Right, Joachim's offering rejected. In the background, the Meeting of Joachim and Anna at the Golden Gate, and the Angel foretelling the Birth of the Virgin. Compare this with the treat Quentin Matsys, observing especially the money falling from the table.
354. Good strong portrait, by Sir Anthony More, of Hubert Goltzius.
Fine German portrait of the early seventeenth century.
2. Herri met de Bles : The Temptation of St. Anthony. Figures and landscape show Italian influence.
Now pass through Room VIII., containing chiefly late Italian and French pictures (which neglect for the present), and go on into Corridor A, to the left, overlooking the Sculpture Gallery. This takes us at once into the Later Flemish School of Rubens and his followers, whoe works fill all these large corridors, which are admirably adapted for them. Begin to the right of the door.
315. Jordaens : Fine landscape, with city to the right. As yet, however, landscape dare not stand entirely on its own merits. Therefore, we have here in the foreground figures of Eleazar and Rebecca at the well, which retain the tradition that pictures must have some sort of sacred purpose.
507. Unknown. Interior of a picture gallery, with well-known pictures.
To the left of the door. 475. Van Thulden : Flemish Wedding Feast. Landscape is beginning to triumph now : it gets rid of all pretence of sacredness, but still retains small figures in the foreground. Landscape for landscape's sake is hardly yet dreamed of.
24. De Crayer, one of the best imitators of Rubens : Adoration of the Shepherds, in the master's manner.
Near it, unnumbered, Jordaens : * Nymph and Satyr. (This corridor is largely given up to works by Jordaens, who was a Protestant, and preferred heathen mythological subjects to Catholic Christian ones.)
447. Snyders : seventeenth century : Still Life, which now begins to be painted on its own' merits. This last is by the great animal painter of the Flemish School.
Rubens : Coronation of the Virgin by God the Father and the Son, the Holy Ghost hovering above in a glory. This altar-piece, for an altar of Our Lady, is a magnificent specimen of the master's rich and luminous colouring. The crimson robe of the Christ, the blue and lilac harmony on the Madonna, and the faint yellow of the Father's robe, are admirably contrasted. So are the darkness of the lower clouds and the luminosity of the upper region, recalling Titian's famous Assumption at Venice. The little boy-angels are sweet and characteristic. Here you may begin to appreciate the force, the dash, the lavish wealth of Rubens. (According to Rooses, however, the work of a pupil, touched up by the master.)
25. Good Still Life by Fyt.
Then, unnumbered, Jordaens : Susannah and the Elders: a very Flemish and matronly Susannah. The nude of Rubens, without the glorious touch of the master : but a good picture.
417. Fine portrait, by Rubens, of a fair man (J. C. de Cordes).
Then, unnumbered, Study by the same for the ceiling in Whitehall.
418. Rubens : Portrait : Wife of the last : in his finest and richest portrait manner, which contrasts in many ways with his larger and freer allegorical style. (Fromentin thinks poorly of it.)
414. Rubens : An unimpressive little Martyrdom of St. Ursula.
Above it, an Adoration of the Magi, by Herreyns : Interesting only as showing the persistence of the School into the eighteenth century.
310. Jordaens : An Allegory of Abundance. Studies from the nude in the style of the School: meritorious.
259. Du Chatel: Quaint little portraits of the seventeenth century.
Pass the door of the Dutch School. Beyond it, more Still Life, excellently painted.
311. Jordaens : Very Flemish family group, with a somewhat superfluous satyr. (Subject nominally taken from the fable of the Satyr and the Wayfarer.)
344. Vandermeulen : View of Tournay and landscape, with the siege by Louis XIV. introduced for the sake of figures in the foreground.
Above it, De Crayer : St. Anthony and St. Paul the Hermit. Interesting for persistence of the typical figures.
Tie other pictures in this corridor are, I think, self-explanatory.
Now enter Room III. to the left of the door.
412. Rubens : Charming little Madonna and Child (called Our Lady of the Forget-me-not "), in a garden of roses (the landscape by j. Brueghel). One of his best small pictures, in a careful style.
Still Life, by Snyders. In the corner, four Fine Heads of Negroes, a study for the Magi, by Rubens. Not caricatured, but full of genuine negro character.
220. Good portrait by Philippe de Champaigne.
449. Splendid portrait by Rubens : (ac-cording to Rooses, by Van Dyck).
This room also contains several fine pictures by Teniers (father or son) and other late Flemish painters, deserving of attention, but needing no explanation. (Portraits, picture gallery, etc.) Do not imagine because I pass them by that you need not look at them.
Now enter Corridor B. To the right of door, 476. A. van Utrecht : One of the favourite Dutch kitchen scenes, well painted.
255. Van Diepenbeeck : St. Francis praying.
Left of the door, good works by De Crayer and others.
339. P. Meert, good portraits.
In the centre, 407, Rubens : Assumption, High Altar-piece from the Carmelite Church in Brussels. A fine picture, of Rubens's early period, smooth of surface and relatively careful, with the Apostles looking into the empty tomb, whence women are picking roses (See " Legends of the Madonna "). To the right, the youthful figure of St. Thomas, stretching his hands. Observe the fine contrast of colour between the lower and upper portions. This is a noble specimen of the master's bold and dramatic treatment, but without his later ease of execution.
265. Van Dyck (the greatest pupil of Rubens, leading us on to the later Dutch School). St. Francis receiving the Stigmata. From the Franciscan Capuchin Church in Brussels.
440. Good portraits, by C. de Vos, of himself and his family.
264. Companion to 265. Another Franciscan picture by Van Dyck. St. Anthony of Padua holding the Infant Jesus. (In neither is he seen to great advantage.)
230. De Crayer : St. Anthony, with his pig and staff, and St. Paul the Hermit, in his robe of palm-leaves, fed by a raven. In the background, the Death of St. Paul; two lions dig his grave. On the right, below, late figure of donor, seldom so introduced at this period. Jay In the background. Good landscape.
Enter Room IV., with landscapes and still life of the later period. One by * Rubens near the centre. Good family group of the Van Vilsteren household, by Van Dyck. Flower-pieces by Seghers and others.
266. Fine Van Dyck, portrait of an Antwerp magistrate.
The room also contains several pictures worthy of note, but too modem in tone to need explanation. Observe that landscape has now almost vindicated its right to be heard alone, though figures in the foreground are still considered more or less necessary.
Now enter Corridor C, which contains good pictures of the Later Flemish School.
482. Otto van Veen (Rubens's master: of whom I shall say more at Antwerp). Holy Family, with St. Francis, left, and St. Catherine, right (Sword and Wheel). The Infant Christ puts the ring on her finger. Influence of Titian obvious.
Unnumbered, Janssens : Our Lady appearing to St. Bernard.
Stag Hunt by Snyders.
411. Rubens ; Martyrdom of the local Bishop, St. Lieven. His tongue is torn out and given to dogs. Very savage pagans; rearing horse; and characteristic angels, with celestial scene. In Rubens's less pleasing " allegorical " manner. Plenty of force, but too fiercely bustling.
413. Rubens : Venus in the Forge of Vulcan. A made-up picture. Splendid studies of the exuberant nude by Rubens; with effects of light and shade in a smithy, added in the late seventeenth century to make up for a lost portion.
416. Rubens : Companion portrait of the Infanta Isabella, wife of 415.
406. Rubens : Painfully un-Christian subject: mainly by a pupil, retouched by the master : The Saviour about to destroy the World, which is protected by St. Francis and Our Lady. A strange method by which a votary seeks to impress his devotion to his own patrons. Behind, burning towns, murder, etc.
405. Rubens : The Way to Calvary. (Almost all these large Rubenses are from High Altars.) In the foreground the two thieves; then Christ falling, and a very Flemish and high-born St. Veronica unconcernedly wiping his forehead. Our Lady faints close by, Supported by St. John. St. Longinus mounted, and Roman soldiers. The composition somewhat sketchy, but immensely vigorous. A gorgeous pageant, it wholly lacks pathos.
410. Rubens : Adoration of the Magi (Altar-piece of the Capuchin Church at Tour-nay). One of his noblest works, magnificently and opulently coloured. The subject was one he often painted. Note still the Three Kings, representing the three ages and continents, but, oh, how transfigured ! In their suite are Moors and other Orientals. Behind, St. Joseph with flambeaux, representing the earlier candle. This is a painting in Rubens's best Grand Seigneur manner — vast, throbbing, concentrated. He thinks of a Nativity as taking place with all the pomp and ceremony of the courts which he frequented. Charming pages in the foreground.
Then flowers, hunting scenes, etc., requiring no comment.
408. Rubens (much restored) : Christ on the knees of Our Lady. A noble composition, greatly injured. In the foreground kneels the Magdalen (her hair falling ungracefully), with the nails and Crown of Thorns. Notice always her abundant locks. To the right, St. Francis, with the Stigmata, bends over in adoration (a Franciscan picture). To the left, very fleshy angels (Antwerp models) hold the instruments of the Passion. White sheet and dead flesh in their usual strong combination. (Painted for the Franciscan Capuchins of Brussels.)
The De Crayers, close by, contrast in the comparative crudity of their colour with the splendid harmonies of the master.
236. De Crayer. The Martyrdom of St. Blaise. Shows him combed with a wool-carder.
Now pass through Room VII. (with Italian pictures to be considered later) and enter Corridor D. Right of door, nothing that re-quires comment, save
205. Philip de Champaigne : Presentation in the Temple, with characteristic crude French colouring.
Left of door, 243, De Crayer : Fraternity of Crossbowmen, with their patroness, the Madonna.
158. J. D'Arthois : Landscape, now absolutely emancipated from the superstition of figures.
Right and left of central door, good saints, by De Crayer. Beneath them, excellent landscapes.
237. De Grayer : Assumption of St. Catherine, with her wheel and sword. A fine picture, in which De Crayer approaches very near Rubens. In the foreground are St. Augustine with the flaming heart; St. Gregory, habited as Pope; St. Ambrose, and St. Jerome, — the four Doctors of the Church, with other saints, contemplating devoutly the glory of St. Catherine.
The remaining pictures in this room can be inspected by the visitor without need for explanation.
It is interesting to stand by the balustrade, here, above the sculpture gallery, not only for the general outlook upon the handsome hall, but also to note how the colour of the Rubenses stands out at a distance among the other pictures.
Now, go on through Room VIII. to Corridor A, reaching on the left, Room V., containing the Dutch Masters. On these, for the most part, I shall have little to say. Their landscapes, flower-pieces, and portraits are admirable, indeed, but they are of the sort which explain themselves at sight, and need rather for their appreciation critical faculty than external knowledge. Begin on the left of the door.
141. Van Ravestein, capital portrait. 33B. Nicolas Maes : Good portrait of a seventeenth century lady.
325. Leerman's Crucifixion, finely executed.
Beyond it, good landscape or flower-pieces, etc., by Cuyp, De Heem, and Isaac van Ostade. 4)56. St. Pierre at Louvain.
483. Van der Velde, junior : Shipping on the Zuyder Zee. The Dutch interest in the sea begins to make itself felt.
500. Good hunting scene by Wouwerman. Near it, unnumbered and unnamed, fine portrait by Van der Helst.
311C. Admirable figure of an old woman fallen asleep over her reading, by Nicolas Maes.
333C. Good portrait by the same.
94. Hobbema : The Wood at Haarlem. Characteristic Dutch landscape.
331B. Fine portrait by Luttichuys.
184. Bol: Portrait of a mathematician and anatomist. One of the painter's masterpieces.
346. Beneath it. Van Mieris: Susannah and the Elders. Frankly anachronistic.
308 is a fine landscape with cattle, by Karel du Jardin.
424. Excellent sea piece, by Jacob Ruysdael, representing the Lake of Haarlem in a storm. Good foam.
I pass by, on the same wall, many meritorious Dutch works which cannot fail to strike the observer.
181. Admirable portrait by Bol. Near it, good still life and flower-pieces.
182. Bol : Portrait of a lady, probably wife of the last. On either side 350, 351, characteristic tavern scenes by Molinaer.
261. Similar village scene of a Kermesse, by Dusart.
333. Admirable portrait by Nicolas Macs. 423. One of Jacob Ruysdael's finest landscapes, with ruined tower.
284. Fruit piece by De Heem. One of his finest.
Unnumbered, Brekelenkamp : Seam-stresses, with high lights recalling Gerard Doute Beyond these, a number of fine and characteristic Dutch landscapes or figure-pieces, needing little comment.
249. Albert Cuyp : Cows. Excellent. 307. Delicately luminous piece by Karel du JCardin, " L'Avant-garde du Convoi." 292A. Portrait by Van der Helst. Not in is best manner.
242. Van Delen : Excellent architectural piece, with good portraits in the foreground, painted in later by Emmanuel Biset.
258. Gerard Dou: The artist drawing a Cupid by lamplight. One of his finest studies in light and shade. It should be looked at long and carefully.
On either side of it, delicate small pieces by Steen, A. van Ostade, and Dietrich. 84A.
184A.Good portrait by Bol.
333A. Portrait by Maes. Fine and audacious in colouring. Round it, good Wouwermans and Ruysdaels.
Do not imagine because I give little space to the pictures in this room that they are not therefore important. As works of art, many of; them are of the first value; but they do not require that kind of explanation which it is the particular province of these Guides to afford.
Now, pass through the small passage to Room VI., containing works also by the Dutch Masters, the finest of which are here exhibited.
Left of the door,
317 and 316. De Keyser : Two fine portraits of women.
496. Excellent still life by Jan Weenix. 376. Portraits by Palamedes, arranged as a musical party.
Above these, unnumbered.
Brakenburgh : The Pretty Hostess.
352. Molyn the Elder : Town fête by night. Good effect of light.
177A. Fruit and still life, by Van Beyeren. 503. Landscape, by Wynants.
470A. Exquisite miniature portrait, by Ter Burg, which should be inspected closely. 364A. Van der Neer : The Burning of Dordrecht. A lurid small piece.
493. A. de Voys : The Jolly Drinker. Highly characteristic of Dutch sentiment.
The other still life and fruit or flower pieces on this wall need no comment.
495. Weenix : Dutch lady dressing, with goo effects of light and colour.
283. Frans Hals : ** Portrait of W. van Heythuysen. One of his finest works. Broadly executed, and full of dash and bravado.
343. Metsu : One of his favourite scenes between an officer and a lady, exquisitely painted. A light lunch. Look closely into it.
408. De Witte : Fine architectural church interior. Above it,
205. Peacock and other birds, by Hondecoeter, who painted almost exclusively similar subjects. The solitary feather in the foreground recalls his famous masterpiece at The Hague.
332. Maes : Old woman reading. Above these, tolerable portraits by Van der Helt.
453. One of Jan Steen's most characteristic pieces of Batavian humour. A Dutch lover offering affection's gift, in the shape of a herring and two leeks, to a lady no longer in her first youth. Behind, her unconscious husband. The painting of every detail is full of the best Dutch merits, and the tone of the whole frankly repulsive.
Right wall. Several excellent bits of still life or landscape.
282. Frans Hals : Splendid portrait of Professor Hoornebeck of Leyden. Extremely vivacious and rapidly handled.
293A. One of Hobbema's most famous mills.
397A. Excellent portrait by Rembrandt. Above it 166. Storm at Sea, by Backhuysen.
Unnumbered, Paul Potter : Pigs. Admirably piggy.
200A. Van der Capelle : Calm sea, with excellent fishing-boats.
296. More of Hondecoeter's unimpeachable poultry.
397. Splendid portrait by Rembrandt (" L'Homme au grand chapeau "). An excellent and characteristic example of his art. The light and shade, the painting of the hair, and the masterly handling of the robe are all in the great painter's noblest manner.
425. Capital water scene, by S. van Ruysdael: a ferry on the Meuse.
297. Hondecoeter. More poultry, this time dead, with realistic nails, and other little tricks to Catch the great public.
183. Bol : Excellent portrait of Saskia, wife of Rembrandt.
452. A very characteristic and excellent Jan Steen, known as The Rhetoricians, — that is to say, members of a Literary Club or Debating Society, one of whom is engaged in reading his prize verses to a not too appreciative audience outside. Even here, however, Jan cannot omit his favourite touch of coarse Dutch love-making, with a tavern-girl introduced out of pure perversity.
Now, return through Corridors A and D to Rom VII., containing the early Italian pictures. Few of these are of much value, and as they are not connected with Flanders or Brabant, I will not enlarge upon them. Right of door,
148. An early Italian Adoration of the Magi, where you may compare the Three Kings, Joseph with the gift, the ox and ass, etch with Flemish examples.
149 is a characteristic example of St. Francis receiving the Stigmata. Study it for comparison with the Rubens at Ghent, and others.
147 is a set of panels containing events in the History of Our Lady. I give the subjects, running along the top row first, with necessary brevity: Joachim expelled from the Temple; Warned by the Angel; Anna warned by the Angel ; Meeting of Joachim and Anna at the Golden Gate; Birth of the Virgin; Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple The Nativity; Adoration of the Magi; Christ found in the Temple; Miracle at Cana; Raising of Lazarus; Death of the Virgin, with Christ receiving her soul as a new-born baby. All these may be studied as early examples of the subjects they represent. Above them, 23 and 151; two Crucifixions of various ages.
17. Good characteristic Carlo Crivelli of St. Francis with the Stigmata.
154. Adam and Eve. Albani.
Above it, a tolerable Veronese of Juno scattering wealth into the lap of Venice, St. Mark's lion beside her.
16. Beautiful Carlo Crivelli of Our Lady and Child. This picture and No. 17 are parts of a large altar-piece, the main portion of which, a Pietà, is in the National Gallery in London.
478. Vannuchi (not Perugino) : Leda and the Swan.
227 is a good portrait of Mary of Austria.
146A. A tolerable Marriage of the Virgin.
401. Tintoretto: Portrait of a Venetian gentleman.
402. Another by the same.
477. Perugino : Madonna and Child, with the infant St. John of Florence, in a frame of Della Robbia work. This is one of the best Italian pictures in this Gallery, but not a good example. Near it, School of Mantegna, Christ and St. Thomas with St. John the Baptist.
Room VIII., opposite, also contains later Italian pictures, with a few French.
400 is a Martyrdom of St. Mark, by Tintoretto.
199 is a Holy Family, by Paolo Veronese, with St. Theresa and St. Catherine.
198. By the same. Adoration of the Shepherds.
The other works in the room do not call for notice.
If you want further information about the pictures in the Brussels Gallery, you will find it in Lafenestre and Richtenberger's " La Belgique," in the series of " La Peinture en Europe."