The Flemish And Dutch Paintings
WE will now retrace our steps through the Italian section to enter the left wing of the Museum where in five galleries and seven cabinets the numerous works are displayed that come from the Netherlands. Almost a complete survey may be had of the art of Flanders and Holland, from the van Eycks with whom the 15th century commenced until the end of the 18th century. Indeed, some of these painters are far more richly shown in Vienna than in any museum of the Netherlands.
Flemish and Dutch art found its origin, as with the Italians, in the religious life of the people; but in the North art had a broader expression. It did not confine itself to the churchliness of religious life, but embraced soon the humanistic side of life, its interest in all things created. Thus the painters depicted the scenes of daily life, even not neglecting to delineate plants and animals and inanimate objects that could add to the truth of these scenes.
We will first enter CABINET XVIII (see Plan).
The first important masters of painting outside of Italy, in point of time, were the brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck, of Flanders. They are the reputed discoverers of painting with oil as a medium to mix and apply pigments; or, if not the originators of this method, they at least perfected the process so that it was thenceforth universally adopted.
But they were further pioneers in another most important aspect. Up to the 15th century art was universally in the employ of the Church, and ecclesiastical in its aim and tendency; but, although Hubert van Eyck, the elder brother, always remained faithful to the traditions of mediaeval times, Jan was the first to give expression to the restless, half-conscious, half-unconscious spirit of resistance to the powers of ecclesiasticism, and he turned with a kind of joyous conviction, and in all sincerity, to the higher revelation which he found in nature itself. His interest in the outward aspect of material things, no matter what they were, asserted itself with irresistible force. Jan van Eyck must be regarded as the first liberator of art from the yoke of the Church, and with him we find the birth of that great Flemish art which in its own way faithfully pictured the life around.
It is as a painter of portraits that he has given us the greatest proofs of his genius. His men and women seem to be living realities, so strongly does the personality of each appeal to us; for he not only correctly delineated the features of his sitters, but studied them until he grasped and could transfer to his panel the characteristics of each one. In fact, his Madonnas and saints are nothing but portraits of the homely or comely Flemish women whom he chose as his models. And though this may show a lack of imaginative quality in his work, it was a distinct departure.
The Imperial Museum possesses two works by Jan van Eyck. His " Portrait of Jan de Leeuwe " (No. 625) is magnificent, showing all the finesse of his delicate brush without in the least belittling its vitality and expressiveness. This Bruges gold-smith, according to the inscription then thirty-five years old, shows a strong, beardless face, and is dressed in a dark, fur-bordered garment. As an emblem of his trade he holds between his thumb and forefinger a small ring. A strong light falls on the face accentuating the physiognomic lines.
The other portrait seen here is of equal importance. It shows the likeness of " Cardinal della Croce" (No. 624), a grey man in a wide, red tabard, hemmed with white fur. It is painted with excessive care and exactitude, and with exquisite finish in the delineation of detail, while it shows at the same time the directness and simplicity which characterise Jan van Eyck's work.
Rogier van der Weyden, his contemporary, developed himself independently, although surely receiving significant impressions from the van Eycks. His was a different, even a dissimilar genius. Where the van Eycks aimed at calm and serene grandeur, van der Weyden strove for pathos. He had the religious and dramatic instinct, the gifts of tenderness and emotion, a taste for sinuous, even tortuous and dislocated lines, which express the strong emotions of the soul.
The fine altarpiece with two wings (No. 634) is an undoubted example of the great Tournai master. The centre shows Christ on the cross, before which Mary is kneeling, with St. John standing at her side. On the left kneel the donors, and four angels in black robes flutter in the sky. The left wing shows St. Veronica, with the sweatcloth; on the right stands St. Magdalene with the cup of balsam. An impressive, soulful expression is found on the different faces; the colour is beautiful in its harmony; while the landscape shows the great naturalistic advance of the North over the work of the Italian artists. Nos. 632 and 633 are miniaturelike paintings of the " Madonna " and of " St. Catharine," which, if not by Rogier, are very near to his manner.
Rogier van der Weyden divided honours with the van Eycks as the inspirer of those who worked in the second half of the 15th century. Among the most important of his followers was Hugo van der Goes, of whose sorrowful life, ending in mental aberration, little is known. We find here three small panels, parts of a relic shrine, which are characteristic of his work. On the outside of the little door is the statuette of " St. Genoveva " (No. 630), painted in white, standing in a Gothic frame-work. The reverse of the door, sawed off from the front, presents " Adam and Eve in Paradise" (No.631), which is an exquisite piece of painting of original conception. The form of the tempter, part woman, part serpent, shows the independent spirit in which these old Flemings worked. What was the background of the little reliquary shows a " Lamentation of Christ " (No. 629. Plate X). This composition also illustrates the divergence of conception from the Italian mind. There is a greater mobility, more realistic expression, purer humanism than in any Italian work that presents this subject.
And that these Flemings did not copy each other, but had their own way of doing things, is seen in the work of Hans Memlinc. He was called the Northern Beato Angelico, but only because of the loveliness and innocence of his female figures, in which he excelled all his contemporaries. He did not, however, express the character and force of the male types of his master Rogier, nor the individual naturalism which we find in Jan van Eyck's portraits.
Still, it is with the van Eycks that Memlinc was most in sympathy, and he should be classed with them in the early Flemish school. In choice of subjects, in his love for Christian tradition, he belonged to the previous century, to the devout spirituality of Hubert van Eyck, whom he rivals in fervour of expression, with less of the older master's lofty mysticism. He is more dramatic in his scenes of piety and adoration, and in this he points to his training under Rogier ; but he rather chose the gentle legends of St. Ursula with her eleven thousand virgins, or of St. Christopher, of Virgins, heavenly betrothals, pious priests, and inspired saints, than tragic scenes. He equalled Jan van Eyck in mastership of technique, in rendering bright, clear colours so admirably that they give roundness of form to his figures, and without having recourse to any strong contrasts of light and shade. He also equalled him in the marvellous reproduction of the minutest details — and yet nothing is obtruded, nothing introduced to show how well he could paint it; all is treated to give dignity and grace to his principal figures.
One striking thing in Memlinc's pictures is the evidence they contain of the ancient magnificence of the city of Bruges. The costumes of his painted personages, of superb stuffs, rich designs and flowered patterns, as well as the magnificence and opulence of the sumptuous decorations, bear testimony of the city's wealth a hundred years before Titian and Veronese recorded the wealth of Venice. Nor are these accessories of costume and luxurious living given by Memlinc for their pictorial importance, as is the case with later Italians, but simply in obedience to that love of realism which is the keynote to the art of the Flemings, as they faith-fully render their surroundings.
Of the five wings from different small altarpieces by Memlinc, all of exquisite painting, the two combined under No. 639, the " Cross-bearing Christ " and the "Resurrection " are the most famous. The centre panel of the triptychon, of which they formed the side wings, is now in the Budapest Museum and bears a representation of the Crucifixion.
With Gerard David we enter the 16th century. He was Memlinc's successor at Bruges, but he displays somewhat alarming indications of Italian leaning. None of the four paintings that are catalogued under his name, all altarpieces, can be given to him with full assurance, if we compare them with works in Bruges and Ghent. They were, however, indisputably painted in his studio and under his influence.
We shall be unable in our review of this section to separate the Flemish paintings from those of the North Netherlands or Dutch school, since the Museum authorities have not drawn a distinction between these so often diverging tendencies of art expression. This is especially the case with the Primitives, for further on we will find a more logical, and historically more correct arrangement.
We note then a work of the typical North Netherlander Geertgen van Sint Jans van Haarlem. It is the remaining wing of an altarpiece which the artist painted for the St. John church in Haarlem, the other two parts having been destroyed by fire. Having been sawed through we see here both sides of this wing (Nos. 644 and 645). On one side is shown a " Descent from the Cross," characteristic for its detailed description of the whole scene. In one part, for instance, we note how the body of one of the thieves, taken from the cross, is put, head foremost, into a hole in the ground by the Roman soldiers. The other side shows the legend of St. John the Baptist, whose bones were burned by order of the Emperor Julian the Apostate. The distinctly new departure of managing the light effect, which originated in the North and was brought to its full glory by Rembrandt, is here seen for the first time.
Another Hollander, Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, comes next with a four-winged altarpiece, dated 1511. Dedicated to St. Jerome, shown in a cardinal's dress, it displays various groups of saints and other personages, with an interesting and original arrangement wherein animals play a role.
Nearby hangs a new acquisition of the Museum, not yet catalogued but numbered 643a. The tablet ascribes it to the Master of the Death of Mary, a very prolific painter, thoroughly imbued with Italianism, who has lately been identified as one Joost van Cleve. This remarkable artist was active in Cologne, but had his training in Flanders or Holland. His most important painting, " The Death of Mary," which gave him his name, hangs in the Munich Pinakothek.
The picture before us is a small portrait of Queen Eleanore of France, the sister of Emperor Charles V. The enamel-like pencilling of the fur-bordered, silver-stitched dress points to the artist's Flemish training.
One of the most original and fantastic personalities of that time was Hieronymus Bosch, called in the North where he properly belongs, Jeroen Bosch. He was the forerunner of Breughel and Teniers in their grotesque presentations of the nether-world; nor did these followers ever surpass the chimeralike fantasy of Jeroen. On an altarpiece (No. 615), a triptychon, we see St. Jerome, in a red mantle, kneeling before a crucifix; a sidewing depicts St. . Anthony, in a hairy coat, being tempted; the other wing has St. Aegydius with his emblems, the arrow and the little doe who unafraid has sought refuge with him. Especially in the temptation of St. Anthony a subject which Bosch constantly repeated with endless variety of presentation — do we find those weird little figures of scarcely imaginable form wherewith he filled his scenes. A delicate brushing, an exquisite sense of colour, and an admirable handling of the light-effects among the numerous details of his compositions are his most prominent characteristics. That with all his racy and spirited imagination he was also able to portray deep feeling is shown in another triptychon (No. 653), on which the martyrdom of St. Julia is depicted. Two other panels (Nos. 650 and 652) are excellent copies of the work of Bosch. They show even more fully his favourite topics the temptation of St. Anthony and the torments of hell.
Still another Hollander is the famous Lukas van Leyden, one of the greatest painters of the early Dutch school, and equally famous as an etcher. Neither one of the two examples found here under his name — one a portrait of " Maximilian I " (No. 659), the other a " Temptation of St. Anthony" (No. 658) — gives, however, the right impression of his work. Their attribution may well be doubted.
We should note that these northern painters show less susceptibility to those trans-Alpine influences which were commencing to prove pernicious to their Flemish contemporaries.
One of the first landscape painters of note was the Flemish Joachim Patinir. He was in the habit of painting from an eminence, whereby he succeeded in giving a wide sweep and stretch to his undulating landscapes, aided therein by a transition from soft green and brown tones in the foreground to a blue green and light blue shimmering tone in the far distance. Thus he produced a light-perspective of peculiar luminance. The " Baptism of Christ" (No. 666) may well be regarded as one of his masterpieces, while the " Flight into Egypt " (No. 664), despite its miniaturelike execution, is of almost equal importance.
Of great interest are a half dozen pictures by Hendrik met de Bles, a follower of Patinir and of Jeroen Bosch, who had, nevertheless, a personal talent. He signed his pictures with an owl, where-fore he was called Civeta by the Italians when he visited Italy. Three " Temptations of St. Anthony " (Nos. 655-657) and a representation of hell (No. 654) are in the style of Bosch, while in Nos. 670-672 we find more an echo of Patinir's landscape art. " John the Baptist " (No. 671), where the herald is seated in a hollow tree preaching to the people, is especially interesting. Four other panels are also labelled as in his manner, but probably not of his hand.
A picture, of which replicas are found in Antwerp and in the Munich Pinakothek, represents a " Flight into Egypt " (No. 676), and is catalogued as of the Master of the Seven Sorrows of Mary. The painter should, however, be identified with Adriaen Isenbrant, who was active in Brussels in the first half of the 16th century.
We will now enter GALLERY XV.
What Patinir did for landscape in his search for realism, Quentin Massys did for the human figure. In portraits, and by his novel grouping in religious and genre pictures, he proved himself a master whom even Dürer was delighted to honour. Only in one example here, but that a typical one, can we study his work. This is " St. Jerome " (No. 691), seated at a table in a study, reading a large book, with his left hand resting on a skull. The face shows more character and strength than has yet been seen among the Flemish. By his son, Jan Massys, there are three panels, fully in his father's manner.
A few other 16th century Antwerp painters are shown, whose works we may, however, only passingly notice. These are Jan Sanders, called after his native place van Hemessen of whom the Berlin Gallery possesses a magnificent example, although he is nowhere represented in the Dutch galleries and Marinus van Roymerswale. In the latter's " St. Jerome " (No. 698) we can easily recognise the influence of Massys.
Turning again to the North Netherlands we meet with the work of Pieter Aertsen, called Lange Pier, of Amsterdam, the first one of the painters who dignified peasant life with a scenic presentation of realistic joy — although this had already been done in miniatures and etchings in the 15th century. His figures, many of them lean and lanky in imitation of his own, display an abandon of social insouciance which must have been startling to Italians when first they beheld these pictorial scenes of harmless riotous living. His " Peasant Festival " (No. 704) is the best of the three examples shown here. It has many figures and a complicated miseen-scene, perfectly harmonious in all its apparent disorder, such as was to become a characteristic of the Netherland school. No. 703 represents a peasant-couple making love in their rustic way; while in No. 705 we see a farmer with a basket of fowls, and a peasant woman bringing her eggs and butter to market. The still life in these pictures becomes already noteworthy.
His pupil, Joachim Bueckelaer, has two single figures of excellent types in the genre of his master.
This Museum is the only place where a remarkable painter can be fully studied who is elsewhere, even in Flanders and Holland, insufficiently shown. This is Pieter Breughel, the Elder, called Peasant Breughel. Fourteen magnificent examples, eleven of these of ample size, display his art to perfection. The earliest of these paintings is dated 1559, when the artist was thirty-four years old, the latest dated picture is of 1567, two years before his early death in Brussels, at the age of forty-four.
The work dated 1559 is called " The Struggle between Carnival and Fasting" (No. 716), and shows the Flemish masquerade of Shrove Tuesday. The principal figures are a well-rounded boniface, sitting astride a beer-barrel and holding a toasting-spit like a lance before him, and a doleful looking person sitting on a chair on rollers, which is being pulled and pushed by monks and nuns. The onslaught which the merry crew that pushes the beer-barrel will make on the order of the bread-shovel may be imagined. There is an inexhaustible fund of humour in this picture, and as much in the array of " Playing Children " (No. 708), painted the year following. This seems to contain a complete catalogue of all the joys of child-life but the almost confusing medley of details is so harmoniously brought together by the colour scheme that the most orderly arranged mosaic cannot be more restful to the eye. The little panel called " The Bird-thief " (No. 718) is a jewel of execution. On a space of 23 x 28 inches a scene is portrayed in a landscape that seems to stretch for miles. A husky farmer has detected a boy in one of his trees, and points threateningly towards him with a stick. Still smaller in size, but with an equal sweep of landscape, is the " Battle between the Israelites and Philistines " (No. 721), where the two hosts are depicted in an inextricable mass, while Saul and his armour-bearer fall on their swords. The " Way to the Cross" (No. 712) is of larger size, again with a mixed multitude of people, and an exquisite landscape. And so we might go on. All the numbers, from 708 to 721, present features that arouse our astonishment and demand our admiration.
The painting which I have selected to illustrate Breughel's work is called "Winter " (No. 713. Plate XI), one of a series on the four seasons of which " Spring " (No. 711) and " Autumn " (No. 709) are also found here, while " Summer " hangs in the Louvre. This set belongs to the last years of the painter's life, and shows how he gradually advanced in simplifying his fantastic masses of people, although he never could forego the ideal invention of his landscape composition, which rarely is completely Flemish. Yet, how full of life is the scene. Note the far-off figures skating on the pond —never has the spirit of winter in Flanders been so vividly portrayed. And equal praise belongs to " Spring " and " Autumn."
When Peasant Breughel died he left a four years old son who was to be called Pieter Breughel, the Younger, and became known as " Hellish Breughel." The " Winter Landscape" (No. 722), by the younger Pieter, seems empty compared with the great work of his father. The fantastic compositions which gave him his unsavoury appellation, and in which he equalled Jeroen Bosch, are not represented here. The landscapes (Nos. 729-739), by Lucas van Valckenborch, are praise-worthy ; some, notably No. 738, impressive — still they savour too much of the work of the Elder Breughel, his teacher.
We must not overlook the architectural paintings of Hans Vredeman de Vries, who was court-painter to the Emperor Rudolph II. These church interiors and open spaces surrounded by magnificent façades (No. 723-727) are extremely meritorious.
We will turn to the adjoining CABINET XVII to follow the later development of Flemish art; and we find an interesting array of men, many of whom are scarcely known, even by name, to many art lovers. They all bear, however, visible traces of what was to cause the early decay of Flemish art — an undue following of Italian example. These are hybrid, though often fascinating works, in which Italian idealism, the imitation of the antique, and Flemish realism are associated, but not assimilated.
Thus we note in the work of Jan Gossaert, called Mabuse, besides a following of his master Quentin Massys, also the distinct influence of his study of Leonardo da Vinci, as may be seen in " St. Luke" (No. 754), and in a " Madonna " (No. 755). His contemporary, Barent van Orley, active in Brussels, where he died in 1542, retained more of the colour and handling of the earlier Gerard David ; especially does his " Rest on the Flight to Egypt " (No. 766) recall the primitive master. His pupil, Michiel van Cocxie, called the Flemish Raphael, has to his credit two panels representing scenes connected with the loss of Paradise (Nos. 770 and 771), which prove his right to the name given him by his admirers. The same enervating Italian influence is found in the works of Frans Floris, Marten van Cleve, and some others, among whom the flower painters Jan van Thielen and Daniel Seghers excelled.
The portraits in the Cabinet are more original in handling. From the Master of the Female Half-figures, an unknown Flemish painter of the early part of the 16th century, we find here two portraits, of a young man, and of a young woman (Nos. 763 and 764), which furnish some ground for the identification of this unknown with François Clouet, the Flemish-born Frenchman whose work we saw in Cabinet V. Two members of the Antwerp St. Lukas Guild of the middle of the century were named Key Adriaen Thomas and his cousin Willem. The portraits which are shown from these men, each represented by two, are of marked interest. The best portrait painter of this period was Antonis Mor, who had a deserved reputation in England as well as in Spain. None of his portraits shown here (Nos. 786-791) can, however, compare with his famous " Goldsmith " of the Mauritshuis of The Hague. The work of the three painters named Pourbus, Pieter, Frans, the Elder, and his nephew Frans, the Younger, is in comparison with that of Mor of less account.
There are also in this cabinet some examples of a few North Netherland painters of secondary rank. A mythological subject (No. 775) is by Antonis van Montfoort, called van Blokland, who belonged to the Utrecht Guild ; as did Joachim Wtewael, with Nos. 798 and 799. The Haarlem painter Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem was decidedly the most talented, with a presentation of Kadmus, whose people are being devoured by the Dragon (No. 802).
The last picture that will keep us in this Cabinet will also lead us to the next Gallery, which may well be called the Rubens Room, since fifty of the sixty paintings displayed there are by this greatest of the Flemish masters, or came from his studio.
This painting by Peter Paul Rubens, which hangs in Cabinet XVII, because a sidelight is better for its display than a toplight, is the master's famous portrait of his second wife, Helene Fourment, generally called " The Pelise " (No. 829. Plate XII). Rubens never wearied of reproducing her, as he seemed to worship in her the perfection of femininity, and apostrophised her in his paintings as his ideal of beauty. Here we find her coming from her bath, holding a dark fur coat loosely around her. It is a masterpiece of exquisite flesh-tints,, treated in a series of delicate white and ivory tones, with the blood just under the skin, that glows in contrast with the black of the cloak.
GALLERY XIV is magnificent in the display of the rich, voluptuous art of the greatest of all Flemings. It shows the unparalleled fecundity of the man, as a portrait painter, landscape painter, a painter of religious, historical, allegorical and domestic subjects, of hunting scenes, fêtes and battle-pieces.
With all this diversity of subjects we are not confused by a perplexity of impressions. In fact, such a complete array of the master's work enables us, after a little while of patiently assimilating all the messages these many canvases bring to us, to have a very clear conception of the art and the man. We see that the principal thing with Rubens was the general effect; and though he painted the details with the greatest truth, he contented him-self with making them subordinate to the whole.
There is a total absence of apparent effort. There is an ease and fluency in the painting that does not call a halt when our eyes run along the conglomerating lines of his figures. Even when he portrays the most violent and furious gestures, impetuous and impulsive, the universal commotion is still like the full sonorous harmony of a mighty orchestra, without jar or discord — it makes our blood tingle and rush, but we are not shocked.
The same applies to his colours. However brilliant, luminous and sparkling they may be, forming a scintillating prism of light, the luxuriant contrasts form an harmonious relation of glowing tints. The colouring of his flesh in particular is marvellous in its vivid transparency of tone and glow of life.
The master heightens the general effect of composition and colour by the opulence of accessories, which fit so completely in his scheme that they do not seem to be accessories at all but very significant parts of the whole. Thus the magnificence of lustrous silks, embroideries and golden brocades, modern costumes and antique draperies, arms, standards, colonades, canopies, ships, animals, and every imaginable detail of the richest nature —the irresistible outflow of a surfeited brain, add to the heroic grandeur of his creations.
It is difficult to know where to commence or how to select the best from such wealth as is offered to us in this Gallery. We will view the most important works, generally in the order of the catalogue, which is also the order in which the paintings are displayed on the walls.
The " Feast of Venus " (No. 830) takes a first place among the mythological subjects painted by Rubens. The centre of the large composition is a statue of Venus softly emerging from the half-shadows, and like another Galatea feeling the first pulsations of life as her devotees, putti and maidens, joyously whirl around the altar at her feet. More impassioned is the throng of satyrs and nymphs which comes crowding through the landscape, while in the far distance the temple of Aphrodite is visible.
No. 832 is the magnificent portrait of " Emperor Maximilian I," in armour, which was found in the master's studio after his death. Maximilian was the famous Emperor of Germany who with Henry VIII of England won the brilliant Battle of the Spurs against the French. Since he died fifty-eight years before Rubens was born this portrait is to be considered only as a pure work of art. The Emperor, clad in complete steel, em-bossed with golden ornaments, his morion set with gems, his jerkin emblazoned with heraldic designs, his hand lightly resting on the pommel of his sword, stands at the entrance of his tent, of which a heavy red curtain is visible. The lightly clouded sky serves as a background.
No. 833 is also a work entirely by Rubens' own hand, of his later years. It shows a " Repentant Magdalene," wringing her hands in anguish as with her foot she pushes away a casket with jewels. The juxtaposition of. her sister Mary in a black nun's habit at her side is a coup, whereby the master powerfully portrays the swinging of the pendulum in female character — from a full-blooded abandon to the wiles of life to a deep religious spirit.
No. 834 is one of the principal religious works of Rubens. It is the famous altarpiece of the St. Ildefonso Brotherhood, and was ordered by the Archduchess, the Infanta Isabella, for the church at Coudenberge as a votive offering to the memory of her husband Albert, who had been dead ten years. This number concerns the middle panel and the wings opened. The front of these wings have been sawed off and united in one painting which we shall see under No. 871.
The enthroned Madonna, surrounded by her women, offers to the kneeling Ildefonso a chasuble, which he fervently kisses as he receives it from her hands. A soft, golden light fills the high canopied space, and bathes the luminous figures and resplendent draperies and the angels floating in the upper part of the picture. On the one wing is seen the Archduke Albert, with his patron St. Albert in the costume of a cardinal, who seems to present him to the Madonna ; and on the opposite wing St. Clara offers her protegee, the Arch-duchess, a golden crown intertwined with roses. In the background of each sidepanel a majestic crimson curtain hung between marble columns gives the dominant touch of colour. Many critics declare this to be one of the most admirable works of the master. The Empress Maria Theresia bought this altarpiece from the church of Coudenberge for forty thousand florins, after which it came to Vienna in 1777.
Nos. 835, 836 and 838 are possibly studio paintings, the last two being portraits of old men, lacking somewhat the brilliancy of Rubens' colour.
No. 837 displays the freshness of nature in the "Castle Park "—the summer place of Rubens, " de Steen " — wherein a gallant conversation takes place among the aristocratic visitors. No. 839 is a " Pieta," in which the magnificent drawing and foreshortening of the body of Christ give the artistic pleasure that accompanies the impressiveness of the sorrowing figures. No. 864 shows the same subject in a different composition. No. 841 may be a companion piece to the Maximilian I which we have noticed. It is a harnessed portrait of Charles the Bold, of Burgundy —a masterful performance. No. 842, an " Annunciation," is an early work in which the painter's transparency of colour and of light in the shadows only commences to assert itself.
We know that Rubens, never considering him-self a master but always a student, assiduously applied himself in copying the works of other masters while in Italy and Spain, notably those of Titian. Two of these copies are here (Nos. 844 and 845), in which we note how Rubens could not suppress his individuality, for the gentle, modest Venetian lady, of Titian, which is now in Dresden, presents under his hand a far more worldly appearance.
A number of portraits of intense vitality and force now claim our attention. The bust of " St. Jerome" (No. 848), as a cardinal; the heroic size portraits of Ferdinand, King of Hungary (No. 849), and of the Cardinal Infante Ferdinand (No. 851) ; the socalled " Old Levite " (No. 852) ; the magnificent, sketchy head of the "Man in a Fur Coat" (No. 853) ; another elderly man's head, with a fur coat and a white neck-ruff (No. 855) ; and one of a middle-aged man (No. 856) — all these portraits display marvellous power of individualisation. Further on we will see the profile of Queen Isabella of Spain (No. 873), the first wife of Philip IV, of which No. 872 is a weak studio copy. Also the portrait of a young woman, in a black silk dress (No. 874) ; and the head of a greybeard (No. 875), one of the finest old man's heads Rubens has painted. We will dismiss his portraiture with the well-known "Self-portrait" (No. 859), a vigorous presentation, the hand resting on the rapier handle, pulsating with life.
His wonderful power of composition, the fertility of his invention, and his prodigal force of presentation is further to be seen in three large paintings which Rubens made for the Jesuit church of Antwerp, and which were bought for the Imperial Gallery in 1776. One shows " St. Xavier preaching and working Miracles in India" (No. 860) ; another, " St. Loyola curing the Insane" (No. 865). Both these paintings were produced with the assistance of pupils, as may be seen by comparing them with the original sketches from Rubens' own hand (Nos. 862 and 863). Entirely autographic is the third painting from the Jesuit church, the "Ascension of Mary" (No. 861). The ascending figure, drawn up, as it were, by surrounding putti, is far different from those we know by Raphael or Murillo. There is also a dramatic éclat in the enthusiastic wonder of the apostles and the fearful regret of the women who place their own loss above the glorification of the Madonna. No. 850, "Bishop Ambrose denies to Emperor Theodosius Entrance to the Church," also a large composition, is of equal magnificence and resonance of colour.
Mythological in character, and perhaps painted with greater gusto, are the " Four parts of the World" (No. 857), which are being divided by the rivergods Maranhon, Nile, Danube and Ganges. " The Hermit and the Sleeping Angelica" (No. 868) gives us another view of Rubens' marvellous nudepainting. The " Hunt of the Calydonian Boar " (No. 858) contains some of the work of the great animal painter Frans Snyders; and one of the last works of the master " A Landscape in a Thunderstorm" (No. 869) combines the mythological figures of Jupiter, Mercurius, Philemon and Baucis in a magnificent display of the tossing elements.
The sawed-off fronts of the wings of the Ildefonso altarpiece have been united as No. 871, and present a scene called " The Holy Family under an Apple-tree." The brightness and brilliancy of the colour of this painting, the liquid energy of the lines, present significant phrases for visual rapture.
Besides a half dozen school pictures from Rubens' studio we find further in this gallery the work of the two van Balens, Hendrik and his son Jan, and of Theodoor van Tulden, who frequently colaborated with Rubens. An " Anointing of Solomon " (No. 887), by Cornelis de Vos, does not give us as high an appreciation of his talent as do his better-known portraits, especially those of children.
Before we enter the next Gallery, where we shall see the work of Rubens' only Flemish rival, van Dyck, we will pass through CABINETS XVI, XV, and XIV, where the work of minor artists is displayed. Some pieces of special interest will, how-ever, attract our attention.
In CABINET XVI we find four landscapes by Paul Bril, and a large number of Roelant Savery both declaring their Italian predilection. The most attractive works here are those by Jan Breughel, the Elder, called Velvet Breughel. Nos. 904-914 show that this famous flower painter was equally successful in other genre. His son, Jan Breughel the Younger, was inferior in talent. The architectural paintings by Hendrik van Steenwyck, the Elder, and the Younger, and by Pieter Neeffs, the Elder, and the Younger, show, often in small pictures, the vast spaces of the Netherland cathedrals.
In CABINET XV we halt before an entire wall covered by the paintings of Peeter Snayers, whose battle pieces are fraught with all the turmoil and confusion of the sanguinary conflicts of his day, where hand to hand combat and equestrian charges formed the principal features. Here also we make the interesting discovery of the work of the van den Hoeckes, father and two sons, Antwerp painters of the 17th century. Their work is scarcely known, but displays in genre, landscape, and portraiture uncommon talent. And still better are two landscapes by Joost de Momper, which well deserve our attention.
A recent acquisition, not yet catalogued, has been hung in this Cabinet. It is the portrait of a Canonicus in white choir robe, with the Almutium on his arm. This very interesting portrait, which has yet some primitif qualities, is ascribed to Francois Denys, a Flemish painter who lived in Antwerp in 1610 but disappears after 1655.
CABINET XIV contains little of special interest. Here also hangs a new acquisition, a Dutch interior in the style of van Ostade, by Gillis Tilborch. The best work in' this. Cabinet is by the two brothers Peeters, Bonaventura and Jan, whose seapieces are among the first in a genre in which the Netherlands were to excel.
We will return now to GALLERY XIII. This may be called the van Dyck Room, since twenty-five of this master's works, in all his various expressions, dominate the Gallery.
Anton van Dyck, the greatest of the pupils of Rubens, showed distinct and clearly marked changes in his style, which may be divided into three periods. When he was influenced by Rubens we find deeper colour and rounder form. When on the advice of Rubens he visited Italy he came under the spell of the genius of Titian and Veronese, and then a greater spirituality and less dominance of the material side of existence become apparent. His last period coincides with his residence in England, when his portraiture, to which he had already devoted considerable time, engrossed him almost completely, and gave him his greatest fame.
The magnificent " Holy Family " (No. 1047) belongs to the early Rubens period; as does the " Crucifixion " (No. 1033), which has noble pathos. Less dramatic than his master's are van Dyck's passion scenes. The Pieta " (No. 1051) has a gentler spirit, deeper feeling of sorrow, more spirituality, if less force, than the work of Rubens. This lack of exuberant strength is also manifest in the only mythological presentation we have here by van Dyck, his " Venus in Vulcan's Smithy" (No. 1035), where the goddess receives armour and weapons for Aeneas. No. 1043 is a paraphrase of one of Rubens' own compositions, and shows the struggle between Samson and the Philistines, after Delilah has taken his strength from him.
Most of van Dyck's Madonnas belong to his second period. The large altarpiece, " St. Rosalie receives a Wreath from the Christ-child" (No. 1039), reflects Titian's inspiration. This painting, as well as " The Blessed Herman Joseph kneeling before the Virgin" (No. 1039), was painted for the Celibate Brotherhood of Antwerp. In the same style is the " St. Franciscus Seraphicus" (No. 1036), with more mystic sentiment, such as the gentle nature of van Dyck could feel. It shows the saint seated in his grotto; in his right hand he holds a skull, while the left arm embraces a crucifix. With closed eyes he listens to a lute-playing angel. This same spirit is shown in the study-head of a young woman (No. 1030). Pure ecstasy has scarcely ever been portrayed so finely, as she looks upward with opened lips and ravished eyes, the face framed in long blond hair.
Van Dyck's portraiture was also at first inspired by Titian, whom he followed therein in preference to Rubens. The latter's portraits were too realistic, too much revealing the inner character of the sitter to suit the exacting taste of the time, which demanded more the embellishment of out-ward appearance, and the dignity of position and office, whether the patron showed it or not. There in did van Dyck reach the acme of his art. The best example of this characteristic, which per-force has become the qualification of his style, is No. 1032, the " Portrait of Prince Rhodokanakis " (Plate XIII). It is the personification of stately grace and charm, not without manliness in its at-tractive beauty.
There are here full-length portraits of Prince Karl Ludwig von der Palz (No. 1038), when he was fifteen years old, and of Prince Ruprecht (No. 1042), when twelve. Several knee-pieces rep-resent notabilities of the Southern Netherlands. There is also a portrait of Countess Amalia van Solms, Princess of Orange (No. 1028), and of a young General (No. 1034), which is full of energy. A more intimate presentation is the Portrait of a Man " (No. 1050), of middle age, with blond beard and mixed-grey hair, which formerly was supposed to be the likeness of his fellow-painter Frans Snyders.
The name of van Dyck can hardly be placed among the masters who shine in the first rank in the Pantheon of art. He lacks the creative genius, the dramatic instinct. He was not original. He followed the example of those whom he selected to imitate with timid steps, betraying his own lack of intuition. Even in his portraits he only copied his sitters, acquiring later the trick of increasing their appearance of distinction. But he could not read their character, nor portray it as Titian had done; nor infuse his own subjectivity as we find it in the work of Lorenzo Lotto. He was an ex-pert workman, with a superficial sheen of brilliancy. That he served later as a model to some English portrait painters, as Lely and Lawrence, accounts for their artistic insignificance.
Van Dyck's own portrait (No. 1060) was painted by Adriaen Hanneman, an artist who was not without merit.
Among the other paintings in Gallery XIII we must note a " Pieta " (No. 1089), by Caspar de Crayer, a pupil of Rubens, whose style is easily recognised. Another pupil, and often his co-worker, was Frans Snyders, famous as an animal painter. Nos. 1080-1085 display qualities in this class of subjects that have rarely been excelled. The human figures in the " Fishmarket " (No. 1082) were painted by Cornelis de Vos.
The strongest one of Rubens' contemporaries was Jacob Jordaens. As human as Rubens, this master portrays the manners and morals of his time with greater naivete and humour. Only one example by Jordaens hangs in this Gallery; but it is a masterpiece of his brush. It is his famous " Feast of the Bean-king " (No. 1087), which portrays the revelry of one of the Yule-tide gatherings of Flanders. The glorious, colourful tumult of the many figures, golden in the light that fills the room, gives rich satisfaction to all artistic demand.
Two portraits by Joost Sustermans, both of the Archduchess Claudia, the wife of the Archduke Leopold V of Austria (Nos. 1075 and 1088), are in the conventional manner of, the period, such as we have already become acquainted with in the Pourbus portraits. Peter van der Faes, better known as Sir Peter Lely, and generally classed with the English school, is here housed with the Flemings. Two gentle ladies, gently pictured (Nos. 1093 and 1094), are by the brush of this imitator of van Dyck. No. 1093 is even a copy of van Dyck's Portrait of Frances Howard, Duchess of Richmond and Lenox, which is now in a private collection in England.
GALLERY XII partly shows the work of second rate artists, but also the genre scenes of the great peasant painters. Among the former we must give credit to the allegorical representation of the months, and some mythological compositions (Nos. 1110-1123), by Jan van den Hoecke, by whom we saw already good work in Cabinet XV. The month allegories were designs for tapestries which are now in the possession of the King of Sweden.
More prominent was David Teniers, the Elder, of whom we have here four examples (No. 1137-1144). His style is related to that of the Breughels, although Italy and the Rubens studio taught him much. The landscape part of his mythological compositions forms the most attractive portion of his work. Of his four sons — who were all artists — David Teniers, the Younger, is the most renowned. Seventeen paintings here display the versatility of this remarkable man, the last representative of the great traditions of the 17th century.
The younger Teniers stands in a peculiar, intimate relation to the Imperial Museum, because of his influence in the choice of so many of the pictures which are now on its walls, as has been explained in the first chapter. No. 1161 is the " Gallery Picture " which is mentioned there. We see the miniature copies of fifty of the pictures now in the Museum hanging on the wall of the large Brussels Gallery. Others are leaning against chairs on the floor, and before a Catena, No. 20 in the present collection, we see the Archduke standing in conversation with his court-painter.
A biblical scene, " Abraham's Sacrifice " (No. 1155), shows that such subjects were not congenial to the artist. It is rather mediocre, and an evident imitation of Rubens, wanting in all elevation of feeling and devoid of interest. His favourite sphere was the illustration of subjects of every-day life, the animated delineation of the peasant-world under the most varying forms, while his delicate feeling for nature enabled him to give his landscapes the true rural flavour. A number of such subjects are found here, as "Dancing Peasants " (No. 1156), a rustic " Wedding Party " (No. 1160), and other scenes. The most important example is his Bird-shooting at Brussels" (No. 1158), an annual celebration in the capital, here witnessed by the Arch-duke. A large multitude is gathered, and is depicted with great animation and minute care. It has the golden tone to which Teniers reverted after having for a half dozen years most successfully experimented with a silvery undertone.
His scenes from the realms of fancy, such as witches and incantations, especially in the Temptation of St. Anthony, are not found here. Teniers was influenced in painting such through the example of his uncle " Hellish" Breughel.
David Ryckaert, the Younger, is closely related to Teniers, for he was his pupil but one of original and individual conception. The turbulent scene in his " Kirmess" (No. 1127), the strength and energy in his " Plundering of a Village " (No. 1133), or the " Scholar in his Study " (No. 1131), the " Kitchenmaid " (No. 1129), the " Witch " (No. 1128) they all denote no mean talent.
Only one small panel represents the work of Adriaen Brouwer, a Fleming by birth, but a pupil of the Haarlem Frans Hals. This is a " Drinking Peasant" (No. 1135. Plate XIV). This simple figure is a characterisation full of vitality, beautifully painted. It is splendid in drawing, without the carelessness often seen in the figures in his interiors of the pothouse.
In GALLERY XI we find grouped the later Flemings with some Dutchmen. The loss of national, racial characteristics by the Flemings, and their submission to French-Italian influences becomes painfully apparent.
Still retaining the old traits are the animal paintings of Jan Fyt, whose still lives of game and fruit (Nos. 1171-1174) are often to be favourably compared with the work of Frans Snyders. Animal life, generally in deadly combat, is rendered by Jan van Kessel; while his son, Ferdinand van Kessel, has comic portrayals of monkeys and cats in human actions, quite natural and without making the humour too broad or obvious. The two pictures ascribed to him (Nos. 1182 and 1183), painted on copper, are by Frimmel thought to be the work of Abraham Teniers, whose fancy often found a like humourous expression. The two brothers, von Hamilton, Philip Ferdinand and Johann George, both employed as court-painters in Vienna, also rendered the trophies of the hunt.
In Philippe de Champaigne we find an echo of the French Academy, which was in his time assuming some prominence. " The Death of Abel " (No. 1170) plainly shows the Academy's leaning towards classicism from the very beginning of its existence. The large romantic landscapes (Nos. 1167-1169), by Jacques d'Arthois, despite all their abundance of colour, cannot hide a certain emptiness of motif; while the Italian landscapes (Nos. 1215-1217), by Frans van Bloemen, called Orizonte, are but poor imitations of Gaspard Poussin.
The presence in this Gallery of the Fyts and Hamiltons has probably led to the placing here of the still lives by the Hollanders Melchior d'Hondecoeter and Jan Weenix, which offers us an opportunity for critical examination of their method of execution, and of comparison between those Flemish and Dutch masters.
A number of other Dutchmen complete our survey of this Gallery. Some are later men than those we shall study further on, and all are of secondary importance.
Cornelis van Poelenburgh followed the minute technique of the German Adam Elsheimer, the idol of so many Holland painters, but who lacked breadth and force. Poelenburgh's most characteristic works are little panels with bathing women in a charming landscape, of which No. 1251 is a representative example.
All the pupils of the Utrecht artist Abraham Bloemaert, of whom Poelenburgh was one, were advised by their master to go to Italy. Gerard van Honthorst went, and became fully orientalised. For his night-scenes with burning candles he was called Gherardo della Notti — a good example of this genre is his " St. Jerome" (No. 1243).
Another Hollander who received an Italian name was Pieter van Laer, called Bamboccio. By him we have a peasant's festival on the Roman Campagna (No. 1240). The best of these artists, perhaps, was Cornelis Herman Saftleven, but he also preferred scenes beyond the borders of his own country, as his passages from the Rhine valley show (No. 1224-1228).
CABINET XIII offers much of far greater importance. We meet at once two men whose work is exceedingly rare. The one, Jacob Willemsz Delff, painted " Esau and Jacob " (No. 1256), in which the posing attitude of the figures is forgotten in the portraitlike qualities of the faces. The other rare work is by Hendrik Avercamp, of whom only one example is found in all of the Netherland Galleries. Here we find a " Winter Landscape" (No. 1267) that possesses the same striking qualities of naturalism as the one in Amsterdam. Of the three landscapes by Aert van der Neer, only two are characteristic examples, especially the " Moonlight " (No. 1261). A " Watery Landscape " (No. 1260) seems to me of doubtful attribution.
One of the forerunners of the great 17th century portrait school was Michiel Jansz. Mierevelt. Plate XV shows his " Man's Portrait " (No. 1258), of strong characterisation and excellent painting quality. Only one example is found here (in the third division of the Cabinet) of Frans Hals. It is the " Portrait of a Young Man " (No. 1297) which, although it bears his cachet, does not belong to his best works.
The greatest genius of that century is represented by seven canvases, all portraits — for the " Apostle Paul" (No. 1270) is more of a portrait of a model than an ideal representation.
Rembrandt combines the highest qualities of a painter, an artist, and a man. He was a genius of supreme power, in technical execution, brilliancy of colour-sense, and elevation of thought. He was the Beethoven of the brush.
Two self-portraits here are physiognomic revelations of the master's character. One (No. 1274), painted about 1658, bears the traces of the economic struggles through which he had passed ; the other (No. 1268) shows him in his last years, with the deep furrow between the eyes of painful thought. His had been an eventful life, in which he saw the sun of popularity sink beneath the clouds of neglect, and the prosperity which his genius brought him melt away through the overwhelming debts of his careless management. And we can never forget how the devotion of his friend Hendrikje Stoffels comforted him in his declining years, and enabled him to illuminate his works with the power of his genius until the end came.
At the very beginning of his Amsterdam career, when but thirty years old, he painted the magnificent, regal portraits of a man and a woman (Nos. 1271 and 1272). Here we find still the attention to de-tail in which his brush plays caressingly with the articles of finery, without neglecting that soulfulness of expression which he never omitted. Only a few years later, in 1639, came that portrait which to me has always been the greatest portrait of old age ever painted, the " Portrait of his Mother" (No. 1273). Neither Plate XVI, nor any of the many reproductions, whether from steel or copper or light-print, will ever give the vividness of that ebbing life, the breath of reality, that chord of human sympathy which one feels tightening, when standing before this marvel of the painter's art.
Also the " Apostle Paul," already mentioned, dates from this time; while the Reading Youth " (No. 1269), a portrait recognised by Bode to be of his son Titus, is of a later period.
Fellow-pupil with Rembrandt in the Pieter Lastman studio was Jan Lievens, who painted his friend " Rembrandt as a Youth" (No. 1278), around which Jan van den Hoecke painted a wreath of flowers. The maturer talent of Lievens is seen in the " Portrait of an Old Man " (No. 1277).
One of the first pupils who came to Rembrandt's studio in Amsterdam was Govaert Flinck, whose work is often ascribed to the greater master. No. 1279 is a portrait of an old man by Flinck. One of the last who learned from Rembrandt, when the master had gone into retirement on the Rozengracht, was Aert van Gelder, whose " Man's Portrait " (No. 1276) is, however, considered by Bode and by Hofstede de Groot, both the most eminent critics of Rembrandt's work, to be a badly preserved work by Rembrandt himself. Another pupil of the master was Samuel van Hoogstraten, the Vasari of the Dutch school. While on a visit to Vienna he painted a view of the Burgplatz (No. 1281), en-livened with many figures, seen from the Sweizerhof. More important, however, is his " Man at the Window " (No. 1282), a brilliantly painted face that looks out of the casemated window with startling vividness.
The Dutch peasant painters of that golden century are represented each by one or two pictures. Foremost stands Adriaen van Ostade, with his favourite subject of the " Quack Dentist" (No. 1302). Other pictures of like scenes of village life, or tavern interiors, are by Cornelis Bega, Pieter Vereist, Pieter Quast, Jan Miense Molenaer, and Richard Brakenburgh. Cornelis Dusart, while choosing similar topics, had more refinement in execution, as may be seen in " Peasants before an Inn" (No. 1301).
A few years ago a legacy enriched the Museum with a fine example of Pieter de Hooch, " The Mother" (No. 1299a). This painting has his well known juxtaposition of outdoor light with interior light, in the rendering of which de Hooch has never been excelled.
De Hooch had two styles. The pictures in his first manner, most of which were painted before 1665, are especially bright and luminous. Of this character we shall see a notable example in the Academy Gallery. After 1665 he seems to have preferred to leave a large part of his compositions in obscurity, showing the bright light of the sun outside only through some open door or window in the background. Of this " The Mother " bears evidence. The contrast between light and shadow is, however, not carried as far as in the pictures which he painted towards the end of his life, where the figures in the dense shadows sometimes become even difficult to distinguish. To him human life was not half as interesting as the life of the sunshine.
A still more recent acquisition, not yet catalogued, is a fine little conversation piece by Dirk Hals, whose work is comparatively rare.
CABINET XII continues our interest in the great school. The social gatherings of the beau monde, usually pictured by Jacob A. Duck, Pieter Codde, and Palamedes, all men trained in the studio of Frans Hals, are not considered to be of supreme importance, and we cannot give very high praise to the examples shown here of Jacob Duck a " Palace Robbery " (No. 1303), and by Palamedes a " Cavalry Engagement " (No. 1306).
Our attention is arrested by two magnificent and characteristic examples of the great painter philosopher Jan Steen. No. 1304 shows a " Peasant Wedding," where the bridal couple under shouting and merriment of the guests are being conducted to their chamber. No. 1305 pictures one of Steen's profound, but droll harangues on the end of a squanderous life. The types which the artist gives in his pictures are inimitable — here, the young spendthrift, the girl who helps him lose his money, the old beldame, and the notary already making an inventory of what is left. All these are placed in a room of extravagant disorder, with exquisite humourous touches note the duck on the notary's humpback.
The works of two architectural painters, Dirk van Delen and Jan van der Heyden hang in this section.
The nascent feeling for landscape reached its height in Holland in the 17th century. The Renaissance in Italy had given birth to a few men who gazed with curious delight upon the earth and its verdure; and Titian, Giorgione, Raphael and Leonardo had already attempted with great ability and beauty to portray landscape, although in dependence and subserviency to human motives. Claude and the Poussins had carried this farther, but still it seemed as if the human interest had to help out, so to speak, to make landscape attractive. It remained for the Dutch of the 17th century to show that landscape might be treated as an object in itself, worthy of our sympathy and admiration, independent of any human interest. And the spirit of the artists who perceived the beauty of earth, sea and sky commenced to interpret, preserve and convey these beauties to the spirit of men ready to receive it.
The Dutch landscapists of that century are sparsely but worthily shown. By Jan van Goyen there is a fine landscape (No. 1313), in which Wouwerman painted some animals. The flat stretch of ground, unbroken by trees, has nevertheless, through its light and local colour, a picturesque appearance.
Allart van Everdingen has one of his turbulent scenes of a waterfall rushing over the mill-wheel, with equally turbulent sky (No. 1312). These scenes, so popular in his day because their picturesque locality was entirely unknown in flat Holland, led Jacob van Ruisdael to change his subjects from the flat stretches of the Dutch lowlands to those with falling water. It did not profit him much, for this greatest of all Dutch landscapists was not honoured during his lifetime. Three fine examples of Ruisdael's later period are here on view (Nos. 1335-1337), whereof the last, " The Great Forest " (Plate XVII), is the most important. It shows the perfect composition, the quiet, deep colour, the breath of atmosphere which signalises all his work.
Jan Wynants, although older by three years, was still a pupil of Ruisdael, whose influence is visible in " Entrance to the Woods " (No. 1310), and in a " Landscape " (No. 1311) with a heavily clouded sky overhead.
Ruisdael's greatest pupil, Meindert Hobbema, is represented by a small panel, a " Wooded Landscape" (No. 1324), which shows his brighter spirit and more lyric vein of poetic thought. Two small landscapes with cattle (Nos. 1330 and 1331), by Adriaen van de Velde, the pupil of Paul Potter, are worthy of mention.
The 17th century Dutch landscape school should be divided in two parts — the men with breadth of touch and largeness of vision, and those who in technique followed the conventions of the so-called Little Masters in fineness of brushwork and elaboration of detail. Some of these were still echoing the powerful influence of Adam Elsheimer, or listened to other foreign inspiration. Five works (Nos. 1319-1323), by Nicolaas Berchem, give the proper view of this class. Karel Dujardin has done better work than we see in the little cattlepiece (No. 1332). Jacob van der Does was Italianised (see No. 1317), while Johannes Lingelbach followed closely Elsheimer's convention, although this is not so obtrusive in the " Sea-harbour " (No. 1343). Frederik de Moucheron has two landscapes (Nos. 1344 and 1345) of secondary importance.
Philip Wouwerman combined his notable landscape art with unexcelled proficiency in painting the horse, to which five examples bear abundant evidence. His pupil, Jan van Hughtenburg, followed him in more animated scenes of equestrian conflict (No. 1346).
Here also are some notable examples of the marine painters, Simon de Vlieger, Reinier Nooms, called Zeeman, Jan van de Capelle, and Ludolf Bakhuyzen.
With CABINET XI we reach the still life painters. In chronological order we note the work of Jan Davidsz. de Heem, and of his son Cornelis de Heem; of Abraham van Beyeren, best known as a painter of fish; the flowerpiece (No. 1355) of Maria van Oosterwyck; a magnificent fruitpiece by Juriaen van Streek, a man rarely met with ; a work by the great flower painter Rachel Ruysch ; and two flowerpieces by the last one of the school, Jan van Huysum.
Small panels by the earlier Dutch Little Masters furnish the second division of this Cabinet; the third division contains German works. Only a few of these Little Masters are here represented, but some.. of these examples are of great importance.
Rembrandt's first pupil, while himself a youth in Leyden, was Gerard Dou, who, indeed, learned the rudiments of his art from Rembrandt, and also the principles of light-painting, but in both instances applied these in a manner far different from his master. His enamel-like work and minute finish is, notwithstanding, broad in conception and wonderfully satisfying. Nos. 1376-1378 are worthy examples. " The Physician" (No. 1377) is exceptionally fine. It has his oft-repeated setting — a window arched at the top and decorated beneath the sill with a bas-relief of children playing with a goat. A heavy blue silk curtain drawn to one side reveals a room in which the figure of the young physician shows in strong relief against the dark background. An old woman in sombre clothes stands by a side-window wiping her eyes. The bright touches of colour — the yellow-bordered purple cloak of the doctor, the brass barber's basin on the tapestry that hangs over the sill, the richly decorated decanter incased in silver, are all painted with marvellous delicacy.
Not very different, only somewhat larger in his compositions, is the work of the aristocratic Gerard Terborch, who shows here a " Young Woman peeling Apples" (No. 1366), a household occupation of which the Dutch ladies were not ashamed. There is an indescribable charm in the simplicity of this subject, the exquisite harmony of colours, and the faithful reproduction of all details. The young woman wears a pearl-grey dress and yellow jacket bordered with white fur. A hood drawn over her head frames the cheerful features with the ripe, red lips. The background is a wall of neutral grey, against which a map is hanging such as we always see in Vermeer van Delft's pictures. The foreground is enlivened by the strong colours of various articles of still life the brilliant blue tablecover, the silver candlestick, the appledish and the basket of white linen. More attractive still is the little girl who stands expectantly watching for a " taste."
Of all that group of Dutch genre painters — for whom the interest of a household scene lay less in the accuracy with which they could reproduce the mise-en-scene than in the finer fidelity with which they could note an expression and record a gesture — the most pregnant, the most fruitful was Terborch, one of the earliest. He may be called the discoverer of this new art of keen social observation which recorded subtly, exactly, intimately the life and doings of the people. Terborch chose the better class of that formal, self-satisfied bourgeois society which grows up in provincial cities; as others chose peasants or artisans for their models. And even in a trivial subject he infused a distinction, an elegance, an irreproachable perfection that raises his work to the highest plane.
A copy of his famous " Young Lady writing a Letter," of the Ryksmuseum of Amsterdam is here as No. 1365.
Gabriel Metsu was also one of the Little Masters, and of no mean talent, as his " Lace-worker " (No. 1370) testifies; while Godfried Schalcken, Dou's pupil, followed his master's style — as far as he was able. His " Old Man Reading" (No. 1364) has one of the candle-light effects that are associated with his name. One of the latest of the really great painters was Frans van Mieris, the Elder, also a pupil of Dou, and perhaps the most talented one. Three small pictures, one on copper (No. 1380), showing the likeness of a man, indicate that in subject matter he followed more Jan Steen's humour, of which a "Lady and her Physician" (No. 1381) is a capital example. With his son, Willem van Mieris, we note, however, the decay of Dutch art. His technique becomes too smooth, his colour cold. His examples (Nos. 1383-1385) are but a faint echo of the glories that are past. Dutch art, also, died through the imitation of foreign examples, and the loss of personal, individual power.
( Originally Published 1911 )
The Art of The Vienna Galleries:
The Museums And Galleries Of Vienna
The Imperial Museum — The Italian Paintings
The Imperial Museum — The Italian Paintings Cont.
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