The Collection Of Count Von Harrach
A SERIES of three galleries, with excellent top-light, and a number of cabinets, contain the paintings of the Harrach collection, which excels in the work of Spanish masters. A number of paintings from other schools are, however, of equal interest.
In the First Gallery we note an altarpiece, with a Crucifixion on the centre panel, and saints on the sidewings, which bears the unmistakable traits of Quentin Massys — a less mystic and more realistic presentation of the subject than had heretofore been seen in Flanders. His great contemporary, Jeroen Bosch, was even more realistic, as we note in one of his most characteristic pieces, " The Entrance of Hell." This man had a most original conception of the grotesque, which he applied to the portrayal of the nether-world. His collection of imps, demons, were-wolves, satyrs, witches, tricksies, and devils is of the weirdest and most fantastic creation.
One of the most celebrated paintings of the Harrach collection is " The Concert " (Plate XLV), by the Master of the Female Half-figures. These maidens, two playing the flute and mandolin, and accompanying the third in her song, are delicately and gracefully presented, and form the finest known work of this Flemish or lower Rhenish master.
Some of the early Flemish paintings here are a " Baptism of Christ " and a " Lamentation of Christ," by Marten de Vos, one of the 16th century Flemish painters who gave evidence of the natural tendency of that school to fall under Italian thraldom. Indeed, the Flemish school was only temporarily rescued from that fate by Rubens and his circle, for after the Rubens period it finally succumbed to a complete loss of individuality. And de Vos gives already indications of the loosening of the bonds of nationalism. He truly followed the later Italians, notably Tintoretto, in a striving after contrasts of attitude and movement, although he possessed an individual feeling *for landscape, which had local colour, and did not serve it in the conventional way of his predecessors.
One of the fine flowerpieces for which Velvet Breughel is famous forms the transition to the 17th century, when for three score years the art of Flanders had a truly national character. Of Jacob Jordaens we note a powerful " St. Christopher," albeit a sketch, which has Rubenesque strength. Equally savouring of the Rubens studio is an allegorical presentation of the Genius of Painting attended by Fame, from the brush of Frans Francken the Younger. A contemporaneous copy of one of the many Gallery-pictures which David Teniers painted for the Archduke Leopold Wilhelm is here. The original is in the private collection of Baron Nathaniel Rothschild, of Vienna. We must still note the " Plundering of a House by Robbers," by David Ryckaert III; a turbulent marine, by Bonaventura Peeters; one of the Bacchanalian scenes in which Cornelis Schut was at his best; and a fine fruitpiece, with grapevines, by Jan Fyt.
The 17th century Dutch school is not strongly represented in this room. Salomo Koninck and Govaert Flinck, by whom we find portraits here, were close imitators of Rembrandt. Michiel Sweerts, who flourished in the middle of the century, has an interior with card-playing peasants, in the style of van Ostade. The strongest work is a Norwegian landscape by Allert van Everdingen ; while the landscape with cattle, by Dirk van Bergen, has the weakness of imitation, for he followed closely his master, Adriaen van de Velde. We find also a creditable marine by the rare Abraham Storck, and a natura morte by Willem Claesz. Heda.
Three little-known Germans must still be mentioned. One is Georg Pencz, who worked under Dürer's influence. He illustrates an old story, in which the daughter of Ugolino nourishes from her breast her old father who is imprisoned and condemned to starvation. This painting is dated 1546, and it is curious that sixty years later Rubens painted the same scene under the title " Cimon and Pera," which painting hangs now in the Ryksmuseum. A picture which bears the title " Preaching of Hieronymus Huss " is by Jacob Seisenegger, a Viennese artist who slavishly imitated Titian. A Bavarian artist of the 17th century, Hans Weiner, who lived most of his life in Paris, has two small allegorical compositions in the form of processions, indicating War and Peace.
In a small cabinet leading from this gallery we find some late Italian paintings, among which we only note an " Adoration of the Shepherds," by Jacopo Palma Giovine, in Tintoretto's style ; and a fine idealic landscape, by Francesco Albani, who was from the school of the Carracci, and was exceedingly popular in his day, being called the Anacreon of Painting. This landscape contains a nude figure, who is being spied upon by cupids hiding among the trees and in the flowery sward as she is about to recline on a couch, while in the distance a youth rushes to and fro in search of his love.
The Second Gallery is devoted to Italian and French artists. Besides a number of school-pictures we find a small " Madonna," by Ghirlandajo's pupil Domenico Puligo. A large " Adoration of the Christchild " is by Messer Niccolo, as Niccolo dell' Abbate was called. This artist worked, about 1550, under Pellegrini, but accompanied Primaticcio to France, where he died. The clever imitator of Correggio, Girolamo Bedoli-Mazzola, of Parma, has a smoothly painted Madonna with the Child and the little John, in which the artist's characteristic affectation in drawing the figures and the expression of the faces must be observed.
By Marco Basaiti, the rival in Venice of Giovanni Bellini, there is a small Madonna, which indicates the transition of the best of the 15th century to the High Renaissance of the 16th. His simplicity and grace are charming; his colouring, both in figure and landscape, is clear and brilliant.
But the 16th century is but poorly shown here. The " St. Magdalene," by Girolamo Muziano, of Brescia, has all the qualities of his provincialism, and may be regarded as an echo, and truly a faint one, of Titian. The large ceiling painting, depicting the " Temptation of St. Anthony Abbas," by Domenico Tintoretto, clearly proves the folly and futility of attempting what is beyond one's strength. It is patent that the artist sought to emulate his father's grandiose conceptions, in which he signally failed. There is a lack of balance, an unsatisfying dismemberment of the composition, and a conspicuous defect in fore-shortening of which the older man would never have been guilty. Some critics, nevertheless, enthusiastically give this painting to Jacopo, which, to say the least, is an insult to the memory of his great talents.
The younger Palma was of the same type as the younger Tintoretto, and his " Pieta," with a number of figures, although ambitious, only recalls the great masters and displays the weakness of the artist. A Carlo Maratta, " Rest on the Flight to Egypt," and several compositions by Solimena further declare the character of late Italian work in its pleasing but truckling aspect. The architectural painter Giovanni Paolo Panini has a well drawn view of Roman ruins. The 18th century artist Pompeo Batoni has a tame performance in his " Susannah and the Elders." He was far better in his portraiture.
There are several good works among the French paintings in this Gallery. The great landscapists Nicolas and Gaspard Poussin and Claude Lorrain are represented by excellent works, which indicate eyes opening to the beauties of nature, although still bound by classic traditions. Laurent de la Hire, the protegé of Richelieu, displays his allegiance to the Italian art of the previous century, and this is also evident in the " Massacre of the Innocents," by Eustace le Sueur. Jacques Courtois leaned more towards Rubens, both in colour and energy of drawing, as noted in his " Battle with the Turcs." François de Troy was a portrait painter of aristocratic mien, whose portraits of men, hanging here on both sides of the door, have elegance and grace. He was even more pleasing as a women's painter.
Claude Joseph Vernet was as sincere in his landscape and cattle painting, of which we find two examples, as Chardin was in genre. These two men formed the transition in French art from the Watteau and Fragonard period to the classicism of David and Ingres. We must yet note a " Holy Night," by Anton Raphael Mengs, the father of German classicism, who, being an Italianised eclectic, knew beauty only at second hand.
The Third Gallery offers a few more examples of the later Italians, notably of Lodovico Carracci, Michelangelo da Caravaggio, Salvator Rosa, and Canaletto. The most interesting paintings, how-ever, are the Spanish pictures we meet here.
A Spaniard by adoption was Bartolomeo Carducho, who painted much in the Escorial. His Tuscanian training of expressiveness is combined with the racial trait of deep colouring in a " Crowning with Thorns." Francesco Pacheco, the first noted painter of the Andalusian school, of which Murillo was to become the greatest ornament, is seen here in a temple-festival dedicated to Venus. It has less of the general ascetic feeling that permeates early Spanish art, and plainly points to the source whence his greatest pupil and son-in-law, Velasquez, drew his feeling for humanism.
The noblest works here are by Joseph de Ribera, lo Spagnoletto, the artist of Valencia. The best one of the half dozen examples is the portrait of a man, holding a golden goblet. When still a youth Ribera arrived in Italy where he was fascinated by the style of Caravaggio. On his return to Spain he introduced the violent illumination of the Italian, and his intense realism, which sometimes betrays a sort of instinctive ferocity. It found a congenial soil, and it cannot be denied that the influence which Ribera exerted has never been quite lost, and may be traced, through Goya, to Zuloaga and other modern Spanish painters. Ribera took pleasure in the rendering of martyrdoms, of beggars, and old men with deep wrinkles. But his types are nobler and his drawing is better than in the work of the Neapolitan master.
We may pass hastily through the cabinets running along the left side of these galleries, where we find a diversified assortment of smaller paintings from various schools. We must halt, however, in the fifth cabinet to note an exceedingly rare little panel from a 17th century Spanish painter, Juan de Cordua.
This old woman weighing coins is painted with the care and delicacy for which some of the Dutch Little Masters are noted.
A small room at the end of the third gallery contains the jewels of the collection, from which we will first select the Spaniards. Truly the most impressive are the two life-size royal portraits, by Juan Carreño de Miranda. One is a portrait of Charles II, the last of the Habsburg Kings, in regal robes and Spanish hood, the crown lying on a table at his side. It is a dignified, if not forceful presentation. The other portrait is of the widow of Philip IV, Donna Maria Anna of Austria, in the dress of an abbess. The first impression of this spectrelike appearance is startling. Her white bodice is completely enveloped by the long black robe; and the pale, delicate face, bandaged with white, and surrounded by the heavy black veil that reaches down to the feet, peers out with a sad expression. But gradually the refinement of the features and the stately dignity of the pose, as well as the kindly, though sorrowing look, awaken human interest, and we gaze with sympathy on the image of one whose life was sad, and who sought peace in ascetic devotion. Carreño was one of the 17th century Spanish artists who followed more the gentle style of his contemporary, Murillo, than the more forceful expression of Ribera. His was grace of thought and knowledge of execution. The tenderness and suavity of his colour he owed more to the study of van Dyck than to the all-pervading influence of Velasquez. He ranks in the special direction of his talents surely next to Murillo.
Of this latter master there are no examples here. Two works, attributed to him, a " Crucifixion " and a biblical presentation of Esau selling his birthright to Jacob, may scarcely be connected with his name. Equally dubious is the ascription of the portrait of a bishop to Zurbaran. The work is too insignificant to have come even from this weak imitator of Caravaggio.
The earliest portrait here is also the finest work in Vienna by its author, Alonso Sanchez Coello, who was called the Portuguese Titian. This is a por-trait of Queen Isabella. It is regal in appearance, rich in colour, and with brilliant light-effect.
The place of honour is given in this Tribuna to a portrait of a four years old Infante, by Velasquez. The child stands at the side of a velvet-covered table, his little pet-dog nestling on the floor at his feet. A hilly landscape is seen on the right. Although parts of this painting must be conceded to be students' work, we cannot deny the master's own hand in the wonderful vitality of the little head with its sparkling eyes. Nearby hangs the bust por-trait of a young man, in a simple doublet with Spanish lacé collar, which is an early work of the great master.
Of the later 17th century painters we find still a strong and energetically composed battlepiece by the great painter of battles and seascapes, Juan de Toledo, who had studied in Naples and Rome. A small panel by Juan de Alfero y Gomez, of Cordova, depicts a man kneeling before a crucifix. This pupil of Velasquez was unfortunately always care-less in his design, but excelled as a colourist. The greyish olive tone of this little picture is exquisitely charming.
The remaining choice pictures in this Salon Carré are from various schools. An important work is by Bernardino Luini. It represents St. Jerome at the entrance of his cave, kneeling on one knee, and gazing in adoration at an ivory crucifix which he holds in his left hand. His elbow rests on a rock that serves as a table, on which an open book directs the saint's devotions. A beautiful landscape, bathed in sunlight, stretches to the background on the left of the picture. The figure of the saint comes out in strong illumination against the dark mouth of the cave. The work is important because it demon-strates in the most characteristic manner the exact artistic standard of the artist. It is gentle, sweet, attractive, but it lacks intellectuality of presentation which is vapid and commonplace, and bores by its lack of suggestiveness. Luini was a painter of prettiness — which is the worst that can be said of any painter.
The great name of Rembrandt is affixed to a strong work of his last years. It shows an " Old Man Praying," and is signed and dated 1661. The old man, with thick grey hair and large grey beard, wearing a full greyish violet mantle, sits with half-closed eyes before a large book that lies open on the table. The figure is life-size, half-length, and is broadly painted with all the characteristic light-effect. The painting came originally from Schloss Rohrau, and has been fully accredited and listed by Bode in his work on Rembrandt (Bode No. 594).
The portrait of a noble lady, the niece of the Duke of Nivernois, bears equally the stamp of Rembrandt, although it is one of the least pleasing of his female portraits. Despite the beauty of light and richness of colour there is a certain stiffness in the attitude which is distinctly disagreeable. Neither is the face in its supercilious, proud expression very attractive.
Connected with the art of Rubens, if not by his own hand, is a group of nine heads of outlandish people — moors and cossacks. A sketch of a " Lamentation of Christ " bears the characteristics of van Dyck, but it is not important. The portrait of a lady, looking down, in sumptuous costume with lace collar, formerly ascribed to van Dyck, is by the far more sincere portrait painter Cornelis de Vos. A good male portrait is by Frans Pourbus, in his exact style and painstaking method ; and the profile of an old woman, by the Utrecht painter Abraham Bloemaert, serves as a good pendant, for it is equally stilted. A few early pictures, for which names like Gerard David, the Master of Flémalle, and Bernard van Orley are suggested, are interesting examples.
We find here also a typical early German portrait by Bartholomaeus Zeitblom, the most important artist of the Ulm school. This lean, beardless man is typical of the characters this simple, straightforward painter was in the habit of drawing. One of Holbein's contemporaries, Christopher Amberger, a vigorous and penetrating portrait painter, is the author of a portrait of an elderly man with a long beard.
The portrait of Count Ferdinand Bonaventure Harrach, to whose connoisseurship we owe the best part of this collection, is by Hyacinthe Rigaud, the court-painter of Louis XIV. It is an impressive performance, with its ponderous, curly wig and fine lace jabot. The features, also, are painted with greater vigour and more expressiveness than Rigaud was wont to bestow, making this an exceptionally good work.
( Originally Published 1911 )
The Art of The Vienna Galleries:
The Collection Of Count Von Harrach
The Collection Of Count Schönborn-buchheim
The Collection Of Modern Paintings In The Lower Belvedere
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