The Royal National Gallery
THE foundation of the Berlin Collection of nineteenth century art was laid when in 1861 the then King Wilhelm of Prussia accepted the legacy of two hundred and sixty-two paintings left him by the late Swedish and Norwegian Consul G. H. W. Wagener. Since that time, by gifts, legacies and purchases, the Collection has grown to 1100 paintings and cartoons, 233 sculptures, and 30,000 drawings and watercolours. The vast bulk of these are works by German artists, for not until 1896 was any effort made to add foreign works.
The building in which this collection of modern art was housed in 1876 was designed by Stüler, after a sketch by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV himself. Although its outward appearance of a Corinthian temple is imposing, its interior is far from suitable as a picture museum, for only two galleries on the middle floor have sky-lights.
The hanging arrangement does not lend itself to an historical survey of the various art tendencies which held sway in Germany during the nineteenth century, for the works of men of the most diverging views are often hung in the same room. The most logical way to view the paintings in this museum will be by beginning with the top floor, where we shall first inspect the works of the foreign artists, and in Rooms I and II the German painters of the early part of the nineteenth century. Descending to the second floor we shall find the two great representative men, Cornelius and Menzel, each of whom has a special Gallery, and in the other rooms the work of the men of Dusseldorf and Munich, up to the time of the Secession. In the rooms of the first floor the majority of the paintings are by the Moderns.
We ascend then the monumental stairway to the second floor, thence to the third floor, and pass through Room I and a small hallway to Room III. There we find a number of works, principally by French artists who with more or less reason have been called " forerunners of the Impressionists." Whether this appellation be justifiable or not to all, it is apparent that scarcely is there a room to be found anywhere where the intrinsic harmony of great art is so palpable as in this gallery. There is not a discordant note, and works of Constable, Diaz, Millet, Courbet hang alongside of those of Goya, Fantin-Latour, and Daumier in symphonic union.
The work of Francisco Goya (1746-1828) attracts us first. This Spaniard appeared at a time when few artists in Europe knew how to paint. The disease of academicism which ravaged all Europe did not touch him, and in him we find preserved the taste for true painting, inherited from the Renaissance masters and bequeathed to the schools that appeared after the first quarter of the nineteenth century had gone by. The two examples we find here, a " Bull-fight " and the " May-pole," are entirely characteristic of the strong colour, the broad but sure brushwork, the perfect ensemble in which Goya excelled.
Two Englishmen, although landscapists, are thoroughly in harmony with Goya. John Constable (1776-1837), the sincere, studious, unflinching interpreter of nature — rather than a creator — plants our feet in the midst of nature, surrounds us with it, instead of giving us an external view thereof. And no scenes he portrayed with such love and fidelity as the familiar scenes of his earlier years. Every reach of the willow-fringed Stour, every stretch of the lanes around his father's mill, the thatched cottages amid the woodlands were all stored in his brain, down to the smallest details. Two such favourite subjects are here, " Village on the Stour " and " Mill on the Stour."
One who came nearest to Constable in his conception of outdoor views, but who devoted himself mostly to the seacoast, was Richard Parker Bonington (1801-1828), whose untimely death cut short a career of wonderful promise. His " Fishing boats," with the chalk-rocks of Dover in the back-ground is full of moist atmosphere and depth of colour.
Turning to the French we find that perfervid enthusiast of realism and naturalism, Gustave Courbet (1819-1877). He felt nature more intensely for what it is than for what it suggests. He was absorbed in the material, physical, actual, without unearthy voices or poetizing idealism. Some have stigmatized him glibly as brutal and gross, but this is beside the question— merely the self-centred judgment of the Philistine. His was the talent of elemental strength, large, overpowering, which triumphs in splendid fashion over all imaginative shortcomings. The " Wave," here, is a preliminary study to his famous Louvre picture, and has much of the imposing grandeur of the final production. The " Mill-dam " is a smaller canvas, but also here the sentiment of reality is equal to the realism of the technique. His " Eagle-owl attacking a Roe " rivals as animal painting anything produced by Fyt or Snyders.
The same spirit of real nature, but with the tenderness and charm of a gentler soul, is found in the " Spring-landscape," by Charles Daubigny (1817-1878). In him we find affection for, rather than absorption in nature. There is less of style, more of sentiment, of poetry in his landscapes, which expresses itself in a manner spontaneous and serene.
Narcisso Diaz (1807-1876) had greater elegance, even with decorative impulse, without falling into the quagmire of rendering his subjects with mere superficial attractiveness. His " Wood-interior " shows somewhat his own personal imposing of harmonious and rich colours upon the usual sobriety of landscape.
Thomas Couture (1815-1879), whose " Romans of the Decadence " aroused such great expectations which never were fulfilled, was a better teacher than painter, and directed many Germans from Berlin, among whom Feuerbach and others. Feuerbach's early work can easily be traced to Couture's " Female Head " which we find here.
Ignace Fantin-Latour (1836-1879), although greatly admiring the Impressionists, was not much influenced by their tendencies until late in life. The two portraits here, a " Self-portrait " and the " Portrait of a Lady, are yet in his early style which was strongly saturated with the study of the Italian masters.
Honoré Daumier (1810-1879), the greatest caricaturist of France in the nineteenth century, was also a strong painter, whose influence upon J. F. Millet has been recognized. His " Don Quixote and Sancho Panza," travelling through a rocky gorge, the knight upon his bony steed, the corpulent servant on a little donkey, is colourful, and has the technique of line which this powerful draughtsman knew how to use and to exaggerate.
In the Corridor (IV) we find a number of foreign works and some cases with statuettes by modern sculptors. Among the paintings we single out a fine evening view of the beach at Scheveningen, by H. W. Mesdag (born 1831), the famous Dutch marine painter; and a view of Venice, by Felix Ziem (1821-1911), which needs no description since his scenes are familiar every-where. Also the American painter Gari Melchers (born 1860) is represented here by a canvas on which his vigorous brush has depicted the members of a Dutch fisherman's family in genrelike simplicity. A few Belgian works by Leys, Braekeleer and Bossuet are thoroughly academic.
Gallery V contains principally the work of French Impressionists, and of others who are in sympathy with their method.
The strong, which is also the weak point of the impressionist convention is its aim to produce the illusion of nature rather than its reality. This results in a sense of actuality and vividness such as never before has been attempted. Its weakness lies in the transitoriness of the impression, which does not allow the expression of any deeper feeling or meaning of the moment snatched and put on canvas, or of the man who put it there. The technical innovation which Manet introduced and Monet carried to the highest power was to show the colours of nature in pure tones juxtaposed, not in their relative value, but in their actual value when affected by sunlight. This truth of impressionistic effect revealed nature incomparably vivid, vibrant, and palpitating with the light, which heretofore had only been represented by the old theory of contrast between light and shade.
Edouard Manet (1832-1883) created this great movement, which ultimately has conquered the schools and furnishes to-day the stamp of modernity. " In the Conservatory " shows a man and a woman, M. and Mme. Guillemet, friends of the artist, whom he posed on the veranda of his studio in the Rue d'Amsterdam, before a group of exotic plants. It is a beautiful painting, of vibrating colour, rich, pure paint, simple composition, with the whole picture based upon two or three values. His " Countryhome at Rueil " has all the mysterious power he possessed in handling sunlight.
Claude Monet (born 1840) concentrated his attention upon the effects of light and atmosphere, and has caught the fleeting beauties of nature's moods. The " View of Vetheuil," with its winding river, white churchtower peeking behind the dark poplars, and cumulous sky, is tintillating with sunbeams. The " View of Argenteuil," with its straight row of cottages in the middle distance, is a song of pure colour set in a high key. The " Church St. Germain-Pauxerrois in Paris " gives the animated scene of a Parisian square at the summer noon-hour.
Pissarro, Sisley and Cézanne stand for the extreme convention of the impressionists. Their enthusiasm to execute the theory has given them a mechanical, not an intellectual point of view. Theirs is not a way of looking at things but of rendering them. And to them may be applied what Brownell has well called " a certain savagery of the impressionists." Their pure colours, without the tonal values which Manet employed, have often a feeling of rawness, of elemental crudity, whereby they lack the subtleness, the suggestiveness which is Monet's greatest charm.
Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) is shown here in a " Countryhouse near Paris," of 1873, when he was more reserved than he became later. Alfred Sisley (born 1839) has also an early work in his "First Snow in a French Village," while Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), has a late " Landscape " of broad and luminous facture. His two stillives are exquisitely truthful.
Auguste Renoir (born 1844) is a representative member of the original group. While less emphatic of the impressionist convention— for the impressionist has fallen into convention — in his outdoor work, he developed in his interiors the extreme method of colour technique of Pissarro, Sisley, et al. This is demonstrated by two pictures here, his " Blossoming Chestnut-tree " and " The Children of Vargemont " — the one almost a Fontainebleau picture except for its technique, the other a pure plein air painting of uncompromising colour movement. His " In Summer " presents a girl in negligée, seated in an armchair in the garden in full sunlight, which flecks the foliage behind her.
Edgar Degas (born 1834), although classed with the group, has so personal an expression that his position is rather unique than affiliated. His only alliance with impressionists is his fondness for the momentary aspect of things; and he found an artistic ideal in one of the most artificial subjects — the ballet-girl. In all his works he has firmly established the permanence of the modern thought in art: of just values and true impressions. The three ladies in most unconventional attitudes, in his " Conversation," were painted from a genuine and spontaneous impulse, which serves merely as a vehicle for value-painting in colour of extraordinary truthfulness.
The universal appeal which the new thought and the new technique has made is seen in the work of so many who by no means are classed with the luminists. Yet plein air painting 'produced landscapes of astonishing reality, and one of those whose conception of nature was refreshed, almost renovated, by Manet's example was Jean Charles Cazin (1841-1901). His " Evening Landscape with Mary Magdalene," with its hazy glow, its looseness of brushwork, and its poetic suggestion, is a fine example of his work.
One of the first Belgian pleinairists is Emile Claus (born 1849), whose " Morning in February " shows a river-stretch through meadows, a simple composition, which is charming for its freshness, brightness and buoyancy.
The Swedish Anders Zorn (born 1860) is the strongest Scandinavian representative of the Impressionists, who have had such great influence upon that northern school. Zorn's " Summer Evening," in which a nude girl is descending the cliff to bathe in the cool lake, excels in the perfect drawing of the girl's figure and the luminous morbidezza of the soft skin. Zorn, however, becomes really great in his portraits, whereof " Maja " is an example. A heavy fur stole, decorated with foxheads, rests around her shoulders, leaving part of the bosom and the arms bare, while she has her finely painted hands clasped around her knee. Despite the broad brushwork there is completeness in the modelling of the features, far superior to Manet's faces which always contained vacant spots. The half-opened mouth, showing the pearly teeth, has an agreeable smile playing around its corners.
A German impressionist is Christian Landenberger (born 1862) whose " Boy Bathing," although fine and fresh in colour, shows unfortunately a leaning towards the extravagance of the school.
The Italian Giovanni Segantini (1858-1899) has a peculiar technical way of laying his primary colours like threads alongside each other, relying on the optical vision at the proper distance to mix these to the chromatic combinations he aims at. His " Return Homeward " is a characteristic ex-ample, such as he painted many during his last decade. The canvas, entitled Sad Hours," is a cattlepiece, with a Millet-like woman seated in the meadow near a boiling pot. The meaning of the title is not quite evident. The evening glow over the horizon is remarkably clear and brilliant.
Cabinet 1 may be called the Klinger cabinet. It introduces us to one of the great modern German artists Max Klinger (born 1857), whose early struggles have been crowned with present recognition and success. He passed through Flaubert's and Zola's realism to a more refined manner, to the originality of which the Philistines became' gradually educated. The canvases here, seven in number, formed part of the decorative wall-paintings for the villa Albers near Steglitz. Seven others are now in the Art Hall of Hamburg. They are landscapes and marines peopled with Centaurs, Tritons, etc., in Böcklin's style, but of personal execution.
Cabinet 2 is filled with the remainder of the foreign works. The modern Spaniards Zuloaga and Sorolla stand out strong amongst these. The " Spanish Peasants," by Ignacio Zuloaga (born 1870), are picturesque types, seated around a dinner-table in the open air. The white shirt of the one with his back to us is a marvellous piece of painting, while the one seated behind the table, cutting the bread held with his knotty hands, is strongly drawn. The faces of the other two, directly fronting us, are too coarse, almost impish, to give us a favourable conception of the Iberian lower-class.
Two Valencia coast scenes, one with fishermen, the other with boys bathing are by Sorollay Bastida (born 1862), who is especially fortunate in his sunlight effect upon moving water. Less typically Spanish than Zuloaga, Sorolla is more inclined to the French plein air school.
The Italian Giovanni Boldini (born 1845), whose eccentricities in the painting of women border on the grotesque, has here a portrait of Menzel, painted when the great German was eighty years. It is a serious work, in which the physiognomic lines are fully emphasized, while the peculiar pose, only the upper part of the chest with the broad shoulders and head being shown, and the decorative background, makes it one of the best works Boldini has ever produced.
The Scandinavians are represented by Thaulow and Hammershöi. Fritz Thaulow (1847-1906), the Norwegian, is a thorough French naturalist, with an individual mannerism which greatly added to his popularity. His " November day in Normandy " is a fair example of his work. The Dane Vilhelm Hammershöi (born 1864) is far more original. His " Sunny Room " is the simplest composition imaginable — an antique mahogany sofa standing in the corner of a room, four prints in dark-wood frames on the wall, and right in the front corner part of a mahogany console. But the play of light, the reflections in the dark, shining wood, give masterful display of values. It is a tonal painting of great depth and richness.
The most progressive of modern English artists are found in the so-called Glasgow school, which is here represented by three of its leading men. Macaulay Stevenson (born 1860), called " the Moonlighter " because of his preference for night-scenes, has such an effect in the " Jairus Dike; " and John Lochhead (born 1866) has depicted a " Village in Fifeshire, Scotland." Both are painted in that modification, or rather moderation of impressionism, which was peculiar to the Glasgow school. John Lavery (born 1856) has vogue as a portrait painter, but the " Lady in Black " here is not attractive. The profile of the model does not lend itself for the pose the artist gave her, while the left hand and wrist which support the chin are ludicrously elongated.
Only two landscapes remain to be considered. These are examples of the modern Dutch school. Anton Mauve (1838-1888) was the painter of sheep and cattle in the heath, meadows or dune-stretches of Holland. His " Landscape with Cattle " which we find here has that hazy atmosphere that envelopes everything in its mysterious folds. It has that fascinating spell which all his paintings cast over us because of their quiet beauty, their serenity, their cheerful joy.
The " Canal," by Jacob Maris (1837-1899), is not properly named in the catalogue. There are no canals in Holland spanned by heavy stone bridges with three arches as we see it here. This is apparently a view on the River Waal, with many houses and a large church on the further bank, and ships lying at the docks. It is an animated, picturesque scene. But Maris was above all a sky-painter, and in this picture more than two-thirds of the canvas is filled by the sky, with wind-driven cumuli against an azure background, here and there thickened to grey cloudmasses.
The collection of 30,000 drawings and water-colours is found in Cabinets 3 and 4, and in Gallery VI, Corridor VII and Gallery VIII. Almost all the German artists who used the burin, the crayon, or the sable brush are represented here, as well as a number of foreign artists. We cannot commence to describe this collection, but must leave it for individual inspection.
Thus we have returned to Room I where we begin our review of the works of the German school to which the National Gallery is principally devoted, and where we find the men of the first half of the nineteenth century.
But before we do this it will be helpful first to give a cursory review of German art during the nineteenth century, so that we may be better able to understand the group-relations of the different men we shall meet.
At the beginning of the century German art was under the abject control of the influences of David and the French Academy. Napoleon's supremacy in every part of the continent of Europe by force of arms was supplemented by a voluntary subjection to French culture. It was Goethe who gave the first impetus for a loosening of the bonds by his advocacy of naturalism towards what he called a " patriotic art." His greatest opponent was von Schadow, the leader of the Berlin artists, who would adhere to academic dicta, and would have none of independently developed artists, who turned to nature. Von Schadow's tenaciousness triumphed, for not until after the half of the century had passed, and long after the academic yoke had been shaken off in France, did German art escape the trammels of professorial dictation and classic imitation.
For classicism was at the bottom of all German art. Even when a group of German artists in Rome, Cornelius, Schadow, Veit, Overbeck, Schnorr von Carolsfeld, called the Nazarenes, sought to revive art, it was but a striving for a revival of the classic past. They had ambitions like the later Pre-Raphaelites in England, only it was Pre-Raphaelitism without poetic impulse. They were inspired by the monumental, the ideal, the grand, but still hidebound by the rules of the schools — line upon line, precept upon precept.
When these men returned to Germany they diffused their teaching but did not find pupils strong enough to comprehend their meaning. Cornelius went to Munich and founded a school which aimed at great, grand things but accomplished little, until under Piloty, after the middle of the century, it developed into a school of historical painting and large genre.
Schadow started the school of Dusseldorf about 1825, and from the first it became noted for its academic presentation of more intimate genre, with the sentimental, the dramatic, or the romantic subject.
In the middle of the century French realism stirred some of the dead bones in this dismal valley, and Menzel must be noted as the prophet whose teaching and example had far reaching influence. Still the racial Teutonic characteristic of anecdotal painting was never lost.
The birth of United Germany was also the birth of a new art. The political alienation and the racial antagonism consequent to the war of 1870 resulted in a total abandonment of Paris for a number of years, and an ambitious turning to national themes and national surroundings. These new ambitions, stirred by patriotic pride, may well be claimed to have been the true inspiration of the Modern German School. There was no intercourse for some time with Paris, the Mecca of art; French paintings were not seen in German exhibitions for many years. The German artists were to a large extent thrown on their own resources, and Holland was virtually the only country visited by them in foreign travel. This accounts for the strong influence the Dutch school of Israels and the Marises exerted on so many. Then men appeared who infused new thoughts into their work by idealizing their natural surroundings. Men like Leibl, Liebermann, Uhde, Thoma, worked with freedom and original conception. The Munich Secession movement, the Dachau school of landscape painting, the vigorous plein air work of the cattle painter Zügel, and von Marées, Böcklin, Stuck, Klinger, Habermann followed a way of new idealism, which ushered the German school of painting to a front rank in Modern art.
Our introduction to nineteenth century German art is had in Room I with several portraits by eighteenth century artists.
The name of Johann Heinrich Tischbein (1722-1789) is well-known because the work of this prolific and much-travelled artist reached France, Holland and England even during his lifetime. His style was moulded on that of Charles van Loo in whose studio he learned the accepted popular manner of portrait painting. It is exemplified in a portrait-group here, in which Tischbein himself appears, and in a portrait of C. F. Robert, a Councillor of the Hessian Court. His portrait of G. C. Lessing has the additional interest of being the earliest known portrait of the famous poet and philosopher, the author of Laocoon.
The painter whose name is most mentioned in connection with this period of fallowness was Raphael Mengs (1728-1779), whose self-portrait is found here. Mengs was the painter of good taste — the only ideal that then held sway. His aim was the beautiful, which he sought not so much in nature as by the study of the antique, and the imitation of Raphael's followers, the baroque of the Maratta school. An artist of the same stamp was Anna Therbusch (1722-1782), whose portrait of Henrietta Herz, as Hebe, has the superficial sweetness and decorative ornamentation of the decadent Frenchmen of the time.
A far stronger man than Mengs was Anton Graff (1739-1813). He also has here a portrait of Henrietta Herz, a famous Jewish beauty, whose salon was for decades a rendezvous for the cultured minds of Berlin. There is more intellectuality ennobling her beautiful features than in the sugary sweetness which Anna Therbusch depicted. Graff was a man who went his own realistic way without concerning himself much about the quibblings of the aesthetics. He even proclaimed in writings the principles he designed to follow, that " man is the highest, unexplainable miracle in creation. But that whosoever surmounts the habituated familiarity with an appearance to which he has become accustomed, will acquire the knowledge, the science to perceive through the features and form, through the physiognomy, the very soul of man." This made him a portrait painter par excellence. He sought to put the soul of his sitter in his counterfeit. Where Reynolds' greatness lies in the fact that unconsciously his artist's soul supervened his orderly artistic execution whereby he practised better than he preached Graff's greatness lies in that his artistic searching surmounted and pre-dominated his brushwork. We need but look at his self-portrait, at the portrait of Pastor Spalding, in his chamber-cloak, or at the portrait of a lady with a high powdered wig, to acknowledge that a master of keen perception has painted here human documents of great discernment and truthfulness.
The portrait of Count Preysing, by J. G. von Edlinger (1741-1819), a contemporary of Graff, lacks his spiritual depth, but is technically as strong in colour impasto and broad brushwork. The portraits by Friedrich Georg Weitsch (1758-1828) are scarcely interesting, except the one of Alexander von Humboldt, the great naturalist, which is apparently carried forward by the inspiration of the subject.
With Heinrich Füger (1751-1818) we approach the academic rule which kept firm hold on German art for so long a period. Füger was in Vienna what David was in Paris, an autocrat, whose influence was felt throughout Germany until the Dusseldorf days of Cornelius, when it was not lost but only slightly modified. His stately portrait of Princess Galitzin is painted purely according to formula, its very perfection militating against approval. As rigidly correct and as nerveless is the " Landscape near Partenkirchen," by Johann Bidermann (1763-1830). Also the works of Joseph Koch (1768-1839), Italian landscapes with buildings, show that same idiosyncrasy of having too much skeleton, and too little soul.
The founder of the Dusseldorf school, Wilhelm von Schadow (1789-1862), who forsook his early connection with the Nazarenes for a slavish following of David and Gros, is shown here by a portrait of a lady, with an Italian landscape back-ground, and a portrait-group of himself, his brother Rudolf Schadow the sculptor, and the Danish sculptor Thorwaldsen. Portraits of Cornelius, of Overbeck, of Veit and of the landscape painter Reinhart, are by Eduard von Heuss (1808-1880), a painter whose faithful study of Rembrandt, Rubens, and other old masters is evidenced in his work.
The aims and aspirations of the so-called Nazarenes may be studied most completely in the corner-room II, where eight fresco paintings are exposed, the socalled " Casa Bartholdy " paintings. These were painted between 1816 and 1818 for the Prussian Consul General Bartholdy to decorate his Roman villa. They concern the story of Joseph's sojourn in Egypt, and Cornelius, Overbeck, Veit and von Schadow each contributed one or more of these scenes.
Dissatisfied with the stern rigidness of the Academy in Vienna, Overbeck, Pforr, Schnorr von Carolsfeld, and other young artists left for Italy in 1810 to seek the atmosphere which should deliver them into freedom. They had ideals, and what these were is indicated by their leaving Florence with its Hellenism aside, and setting their face towards Rome with its classicism. They gathered in an abandoned cloister, San Isidoro, each choosing a cell, and using the Refectory as communal workshop. Schadow and Veit soon joined them from Berlin, and the next year Peter Cornelius. They were pious, they would lief be ascetic, and called themselves Nazarenes to show their somewhat mystic spirit. Their artistic aim was serious. Art to them had only been great when inspired by piety, and only those artists not yet touched by pagan influences could be followed. The old masters between Giotto and Raphael were their exemplars, and they considered that the great master Raphael had erred in leaving Perugino. Of Giulio Romano they would have nothing. Thus linear and aerial perspective were purposely avoided. Their colour was bright and the figures usually flat. Schadow's presence, however, is accountable for it that after all the academic practice was not left far out of sight — which led the way to the quick evaporation of all these high-flowing ideals. Still, theirs was not an empty eclecticism, but a very serious, if abortive, striving for a new birth of art.
In the height of this enthusiasm the Casa Bartholdy frescoes were painted. The selection of Joseph's story is said to have been made because it was decided that a sacred subject should be presented, and since the members of the group were Jews, Protestants or Catholics — most of them went later over to Catholicism — it was agreed that in this story all could express themselves with-out giving offense to one another's creed.
Peter Cornelius (1783-1867) painted " Joseph explains Pharaoh's Dream " and " The Recognition of Joseph and his Brethren" (Plate XXXVII). The latter painting is representative of the style and manner of the entire group. Friedrich Over-beck (1789-1869) painted " Joseph Sold " and " The Seven Lean Years." Philipp Veit (1793-1877) presented " Joseph and Potiphar's Wife " and " The Seven Fat Years," and Wilhelm von Schadow (1789-1862) " Jacob's Lamentation " and " Joseph in Prison."
These paintings were considered epoch-making in the generation following. They resulted in the dethronement of Mengs, in the utter contempt for French baroque and rococo style — but Cornelius came to the Dusseldorf Academy, and later to Munich, and lost his mysticism. Schadow followed Cornelius in Dusseldorf and founded the Dusseldorf school ingrained academic with a romantic touch. Overbeck became a Roman church-painter, as devout in executing papal commissions as the early Italian masters. And the ultimate decadence of the group is exemplified in an " Annunciation," by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872), which hangs at the entrance of Room I, where we now return, and which is an exact facsimile of a Quattrocento Italian painting.
Descending the stairway we find hanging there an immense canvas by Hans Makart (1840-1884), " Venice pays Homage to Catharina Cornaro." It is the only work by Makart in the museum, and is a supreme effort of decorative artistry, in which the painter has not even made use of the nude to enhance the opulent splendour of his creation.
We will pass through the Vestibule, the Cupola Room and the Menzel Gallery, and enter the Cornelius Gallery, so that we may complete our inspection of his work. The gallery is filled with the Cartoons, prepared by Cornelius for fresco paintings which King Friedrich Wilhelm IV planned to use for the decoration of a Princes' Mausoleum, " Campo Santo," the erection of which was never undertaken — the present Dom in Berlin occupies the space set aside for it. This gigantic task occupied the time of Cornelius from 1841, when he was called to Berlin, until the year of his death, 1877. In it he designed to express his highest artistic ideal, to create a Christian epic on canvas. He designed to show in this last resting-place of princes, the higher thought of the destiny of men, as revealed in various places of the Apocalypse. The designs are severe, almost to baldness, yet grandly expressive. Between these main designs there were to be eight representations of the Beatitudes. In all their strength and in their failings we may regard these works as the final word of the art of Cornelius — of a great master, but not a creative genius.
In the apsis of this Gallery we find five biblical landscapes with figures, scenes from the life of Abraham, by Johann Wilhelm Schirmer (1807-1863), the last of the followers of the Nazarenes. With him and with Lessing romanticism commenced to enter into German landscape.
We return now to the Gallery dedicated to the memory of Adolf Menzel (1815-1905) who exerted the most powerful influence on German art during the third quarter of the nineteenth century. His mission was to infuse into the stilted academicism the more vigorous life of romanticism and realism, which had then already redeemed French art. With Menzel it always bore the stamp of Germanic individuality. With extraordinary vigour and originality of observation, with inexhaustible patience to learn and to know, with inborn readiness for the sure line to depict the truth honestly, with a feeling for colour in its purity and light-absorption, wherein he became a forerunner of the Impressionists — thus was Menzel equipped to stir, by precept and example, German art to new fields of endeavour.
In the Menzel Room and in the corner-gallery IV we find over two score of his works displayed, These range from studies of horseheads, arms, fists, military equipments, to his wonderful conversation pieces and his historical pictures. One of the most famous is the " Tafelrunde in Sans-souci, 1750 " (Plate XXXVIII), a perfect mosaic of harmonious colours, and eloquent in its expressive drawing. The young king Frederick II is seated facing us, with those in his immediate neighbourhood listening to Voltaire who is the second to the right of the king. The " Flute Concert " is a composition of equal distinction. The master's versatility is shown when we turn to the " Balcony Room," an interior of simple arrangement in which, however, the play of sunlight is of masterful handling. Then again we note " The Iron Foundry " --- an heroic poem glorifying labour. It was a new art to represent the working man, without the supercilious smile of the morality painter, nor the irony of the reformer, but in his vigorous toil, in his exertion and his strength. In the " Berlin-Potsdam Railway," and in the " Building Operations in a Meadow," we find landscape art of the highest order. Also as a portraitist, as seen in the portrait of " Miss Arnold " and in the " Evening Company," Menzel shows his high rank.
At the entrance wall of this gallery we find a few large battle paintings by Franz Adam (1815-1886) commemorating the Franco-Prussian War.
Beginning with the Cupola Room we will now make the round of the galleries on this floor. Most of the paintings belong to the Dusseldorf and Munich schools. There is a wearying sameness, rarely broken, little originality, and a constant echo of foreign influences. Now and then we will meet men who, if they do not create, at least reflect so well, and such fine rays too, that we will gladly admit that their originality might have been worse than their receptivity. It is poor consolation, forsooth, still it will cheer us occasionally in the very doldrums of mediocrity.
The portraits of Emperor and King Wilhelm I, and of the Empress and Queen Augusta, by Bern-hard Plockhorst (1825-1907) are official documents of conventional rectitude. Plockhorst's better-known genre was as punctilious. His stories were always true stories, without any flight of fancy, always perfectly proper and harmless. Two large military paintings, by Werner Schuch (born 1843), display graphically German victories in the French wars of the eighteenth century.
The corner-room I is entirely filled with a collection of aquarelles, gouaches and drawings by Adolf Menzel, among which his leaves of a Children Album are best known and most. attractive.
The Corridor which we now enter admits us to the Dusseldorf school. The " Dice-players," by Claus Meyer (born 1856), is worthy of a professor at the Dusseldorf Academy. The " Salon-Tyroler," by Franz von Defregger (1835-1909) is well-known through reproductions. Andreas Achenbach (1815-1900) lends variety by a " Dutch Harbour," while Karl Friedrich Lessing (1808-1880) is more energetic in a " Storm in the Eifel Country." Gilbert von Canal (born 1849) has a " Westphalian Mill" of good, cool colour-effect. Christian Bokelmann (1844-1894), in his " Alone," is, as always, anecdotal, and Dutch in technique. Benjamin Vautier (1829-1898) also tells stories in his " First Dancing Lesson " and " At the Sick-bed."
In Gallery II we find another Defregger, " Return of the Tyroler Reserves in 1809 " (Plate XXXIX), which is typical of his style, although more elaborate than usual. Karl Hertel (1837-1895) is harmlessly funny in his " Young Germany at School." Franz Adam always painted military subjects; he himself had taken part in the Austrian wars with Hungary and Italy. His " Retreat of the French from Russia " is very effective and dramatic. We find here landscapes — very prim, detailed, and prettily arranged, by Ed. Schleich (1812-1874), Oswald Achenbach (1827-1905), Anton Teichlein (18204879), Heinrich Schilbach (1798-1858), and Otto Dörr (1831-1868).
Refreshing among these conventional productions is a small canvas by Karl Buchholz (1849-1889), called " Springtime in Ehringsdorf " (Plate XL). It is a charming scene, painted when the artist was but nineteen, and shows great love for the bright side of nature.
The most thorough-paced academician here, both in technique and subject, is Johann Hasenclever (1810-1853). His " Wineprovers in the Cellar " is a typical work. The story tells itself, the different expressions on the faces of the cognoscenti being the humourous object of the artist. Also his " Readingroom," which has a fine lamplight effect, reads like a novelette.
Rudolf Henneberg (1825-1876) was a better artist, who from his study with Couture acquired stronger qualifications romantic colour, greater vigour of presentation, and withal a fanciful imagining not often met with at the time. His " Pursuing Fortune " is well-known through reproductions, while " The Wild Hunter " (Plate XLI) is a graphic pictograph of Burger's ballade of that title.
In Cabinet 1 we find several works by Dresden artists of this period, the beginning and middle of the nineteenth century. The only noteworthy painter apparently was Kaspar David Friedrich (1774-1840), whose landscapes seem to have been the first with Germanic feeling. In mountain scenery and coast views he was equally successful.
Cabinet 2 contains the work of Munich men, but not of those whose names have become familiar. Karl Spitzweg (1808-1885) was lighthearted and droll, and his humour often makes his scenes enjoyable. His " Streetscene in Venice " and Ladies bathing at Dieppe " are more serious and have good quality. Peter Hess (1792-1871) painted the conventional peasant scenes where the participants always wear their Sunday-clothes. His St. Leonard's Festival in Bavaria " is a good example. August Riedel (1802-1883) has some " Girls Bathing," who are so very pink that one thinks of ice-water rather than of summer-refreshment.
In Cabinet 3 are gathered the Viennese artists. Moritz von Schwind (1804-1871) was among the leaders in the Danube city, but his costumed groups and commonplace recital have long lost their savour. In " The Rose, or the Artist's Wanderings " he tries to be humourous, with little satisfaction to the beholder. So is the " Adventure of the Artist Binder," whose sweetheart surprises him at his work, not feverishly exciting. Ferdinand Waldmüller (1793-1865) was a naturalist in his landscapes, and several of these from the neighbourhood of Vienna are quite satisfactory. Eduard von Steinle (1810-1886), who later became teacher at the Städelsche Institute in Frankfort, has a portrait of his little daughter in her school-clothes which is by no means pretty, and yet attracts by a certain fidelity and sincerity. It must be said that the Viennese artists of this period surpassed all the Germans in their attempt at realism. August von Pettenkofen (1822-1889), with his " Gipsies Resting " furnishes a striking example.
The fourth Cabinet is consecrated to the Berlin painter Karl Blechen (1798-1840). Some thirty of his pictures and sketches are found here. It is apparent that his local connection as teacher at the Berlin Academy is accountable for this preferential treatment. Still we find in his work, thus early, a feeling for pleinairism which is remarkable, and often a violent effectiveness note his " Tree struck by Lightning " — which, though it lacks subtler qualities, is very impressive.
Other Berlin painters are found in Cabinet 5 and in Gallery III. Franz Kruger (1797-1875) was famous as a horse painter, and several examples of his work are found here. He may not be compared, however, with the contemporary French horse painter Horace Vernet. His academicism is especially noticeable when he adds the human figure, as seen in " Prince Wilhelm and the Artist " (Plate XLII) which looks like a fashionplate of riding costumes.
The titles of the pictures of the genre painter Eduard Meyerheim (1808-1879) tell their own story " The King of the Sharpshooters," " The Bowlers," " The First Step," and so on. Also his son, Paul Meyerheim, (born 1842), now teacher at the Berlin Academy, chooses like subjects. His " Menagerie," with a crowd of people in a circus tent, is slickly painted, as if this much-travelled artist had never seen the broader and more vigorous method of the later men. Eduard Gaertner (1801-1877) was at his best in city views of Berlin, whereof we find here three examples.
The best illustration of the formal, conventional style of the entire first half of the century we will perhaps find in a recently acquired work of Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781-1841), who was also an architect. This " Ideal Landscape " (Plate XLIII), strictly built on classic lines, with all the minute detail of leaves and twigs, and closely observing in drawing and colour the precepts of the academy, represents all the landscape work of that period. The " ideal " of its title can only refer to the total absence of any naturalism.
In Gallery III we find the literary character of the school exemplified. The " Procession of Death," by Gustav Spangenberg (1828-1891) presents a weird spectacle. A long line of people of all sorts and conditions of life, beggar and bishop, merchant and monk, children and cripples, follow a skeleton, queerly dressed in a white gown, girdled, and covered with a red cloak and hood. The meaning is as banal as the manner of painting. But such was the style en vogue, and Ludwig Knaus (1829-1909), the most popular artist of his day, painted in exactly the same manner. He was, however, more cheerful of mind, and added some distinction to his very correct, and carefully executed compositions. His " Children's Banquet," with the sub-title " As the old sing, the young peep," must have been inspired by Teniers, or Jordaens, but the old Flemish bonhommie is starched and laundered and made very presentable. Another Teniers' subject is his " Cheating at Cards," the interior of an inn with peasants gaming. His portraits of Professor Mommsen and of Professor Helmholtz have their interest in the human document detracted by an excessive devotion to the details of the furniture in the rooms. Holbein painted such details, it is true, but somehow the interest in Holbein's sitter always surpasses the other parts. In the Helmholtz portrait Knaus does not succeed in focusing our attention upon the truly intellectual face. We wander too easily to the optical instrument that stands on the table, even to the brass nails of the chair on which the professor is seated, and to the elastics in the boots he wears.
Fritz Werner (1825-1908) shows in his " Librarian " and his " Taxidermist " a slavish following of Meissonier with whom he studied. Anton von Werner (born 1843) follows the French military painters Detaille and de Neuville in a scene from the Franco-Prussian War, of course in his case glorifying the German side. " In Quarters before Paris, 1871 " is one of the most popular paintings in Germany, and the coloured prints taken from it are found in every nook and hamlet. Four or five German subofficers are lounging in the drawing-room of a countryhouse at Brunoy smoking, or singing, while one plays the accompaniment on the piano. The servants of the house are grouped at the door to listen to the impromptu concert. Aside from its purely sentimental feature this painting is well executed and exceedingly attractive for its drawing and colouring.
Albert Brendel (1827-1895) was a cattle painter whose different canvases would tempt us to call him the German Verboeckhoven they are as finnicky and smooth as the cattle and sheep of the Belgian artist.
Corridor I has yet some good works. Joseph Scheurenberg (born 1846), although of Dusseldorf training and now teacher at the Berlin Academy, has been strongly influenced by modern tendencies. His portraits are excellent, and his picture called " The Lord's Day " shows some breadth of handling in the figures and a clear treatment of the light-effect. Karl Saltzmann (born 1847) is a distinguished marine painter, whose Torpedo boats," in a rough sea, give a realistic presentation and remind of the work of the American Reuterdahl. The military paintings of Georg Bleibtreu (1828-1892), two battles of the Austrian war, and " Crownprince Friedrich Wilhelm before Paris," although intentionally portrait-groups, are well composed and impressively executed. The portrait of Emperor William, by Max Koner (1854-1900), must not be passed by. It is quiet, a fine likeness, and well posed.
Through the corner-Menzel room (IV) and the Cupola Room we come again in the Vestibule, which we passed through before, and we halt there before a magnificent work by Gabriel Max (born 1840), " Jesus heals a sick Child." Although it is still a product of the Piloty school it, nevertheless, bears evidence of how Max from the first laboured to infuse realism into his work. The beautiful figure of the divine Healer, and the adoring faith of the mother holding her sick child, are given without excess of emotion but with a sincere spiritual feeling. The colouring is not striking, but in beautiful harmony of quiet tones.
We also notice two works by von Schwind and Anselm Feuerbach, and in descending the stairway to the groundfloor we pass the large, unfinished canvas, " Death of Alexander the Great," by Karl von Piloty (1826-1886), the great leader of the Munich Academy, his only work in the Museum. Piloty was the man who led the Munich school from its academic thralldom to the principles of the romantic school : " colour and action," and who has produced some of the finest historical works of German art.
Under this canvas hangs the large painting " Huss on the Funeralpile," by Karl Friedrich Lessing, of whom we saw a strong landscape in the first Corridor. Lessing had been a pupil of Schadow in Berlin, and was fully indoctrinated in academic precepts and classic worship. He was one of the first of the Schadow pupils to look for liberty. In his landscapes he soon turned toward nature, as we have seen. In his large historical compositions he added a dramatic substratum, generally with a tragic leaning.
At the foot of the staircase, in the dark Vestibule of the ground-floor we find two immense canvases whereof the strong colours alone enable us to distinguish the composition. " The Jews led to Babylonian Captivity " is by E. Bendemann (1811-1889), also a pupil of Schadow, and for ten years director of the Dusseldorf Academy. This is an eminent example of the Dusseldorf school, smooth, slick-coloured, punctilious in drawing, and recalling the prototype of German church art, the work of the French Academician Ary Scheffer.
Gustav Richter (1823-1884) was another pupil of the Berlin Academy, and his " Raising of Jairus' Daughter " is in the same style as the pendant painting. The conventional manner of presenting these subjects is such that a description of the composition may well be omitted — it is so easily imagined.
In the Cross-hall we find a few works of greater interest. Julius Schrader (1815-1890) was also a Dusseldorf man, but his large painting here of the " Homage of the Cities of Berlin and Cologne to the Elector Friedrich I in 1415 " leans more to the historical penchant of the Munich school. There is little allegory in the bald presentment of all these apocryphal portraits of fifteenth century notabilities.
Bruno Piglheim (1848-1894) was a typical representative of the Munich school. He strives for what is grand and imposing, with richer, warmer colour and more soul than the commonplace of the more northern painters. His " Moritur in Deo " is an original conception indeed. The Christ hangs on the cross ; but this cross has grown into the clouds as if the earth has fallen away from the sacredness of the scene. And it is not a dying Christ, with limp body, drooping head, and agonized features, but the head leans back erect against the wood as the wide open eyes stare into the effulgence of the lightrays that fall around him. These eyes have an expression of the selfconscious performance of an act of sacrifice. And an archangel with mighty pinions has swept down from above and leans over the bleeding head to kiss away the drops of blood. There is so much exalted thought and modernity in this work that we need not be surprised that Piglheim was one of the founders of the Munich Secession movement, which shook the school out of its classic formalism.
Eduard von Gebhardt (1838-1910) again was of Dusseldorf, but his admiration for the German old masters greatly vitalized his work. The " Ascension of Christ " is somewhat formal in its grouping. This may also be said of Karl Becker's (1820-1900) "Carnival at the Doge's Palace," which has hard and dry colour.
When we enter Room I on the right we make at once the stride from typical German conventional art to its freest and most poetic expression in the work of the greatest artistic genius Germany has produced in the last century — Arnold Böcklin (1827-1901), by whom we find here ten master-pieces.
This present estimate of Böcklin has not been undisputed. It was not until the fifties before any notice was taken of his work. Then his Pan, and his enamoured fauns, were recognized by a few as assuring and convincing demonstrations of the cosmic unity between animate and inanimate creation, that the animalism of his figures and the naturalism of the landscapes in which they were placed, melted into each other to an amalgam of poetic thought. But the Dusseldorfers laughed and Berlin held its sides, and Count Schack of Munich who had given Böcklin commissions would not accept his " Pieta " and other paintings. But Böcklin's creative power, his unique fantasy, his iridescent colour, his mastery over romantic nature, the magic of the man, ultimately conquered all antagonism.
A painting showing idealism in a combination of nature and men is his " Springday " (Plate XLIV), a landscape that breathes the atmosphere of awakening life — the first budding of the white birches, the newly blooming flowery sward, the rippling water free from its icy casing, the sky in which the clouds are driven by vernal breezes, the children and youths announcing the fresh brightness of existence, which the quiet note of the old man by the trees and the dark clump of evergreens still further emphasize. The image which Böcklin had of nature was wonderfully clear. There is a vitality in buds and treetrunks and flowers of the grass, a gloss and glow of colour, a purity of artistic conception which few if any artists have ever depicted. Not a vestige of stage setting, not an echo of deliberate composing, but the reality of creation, which as it were speaks to him with audible voices.
And these nature voices he soon embodied in figures of beings which seem the final condensation of the life of nature itself, the tangible embodiment of its spirit, of its life. In the " Regions of the Blessed " we see such figures in human and mythical form that express the essence, the condensation, the embodied mood of nature; they are children, bred and borne of the landscape, and not mere accessories. So in the " Centaur and Nymph," or in the " Surf of the Sea " we do not so much find a Helenic myth as a pantheistic nature idyl.
Böcklin also found his inspiration in sacred story, and there he was assailed most vehemently. In 1876 he painted the " Descent from the Cross " Christ on the ground, supported by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, the women and John in agony around the body. It is noticeable that the body of Christ is wrong in drawing. But, as Schoppenhauer has said, " before a painting one should stand as before a prince, waiting till he speaks, not commencing to ask questions." Then we hark that the manner in which Böcklin drew was not an insult to the sacred body, but a clearer and deeper expression of sacred feeling.
In 1882 his " Pieta " was hung over a door at the International Exposition at Vienna, which at least showed the compassionate tolerance wherewith his brother artists treated the work after it had been accepted by the jury. Sport was made of it. It was called the rainbow, whose colours coquetted with each other around unaesthetic forms. Yet it is simple and grand — the stiff, stark body of Christ on the stone, over which the agonized mother is huddled, and the angel appearing in the clouds, stretching out a consoling arm. It is true, and in the noblest sense religious. Böcklin was never a church painter of dogmatic tenets, but no man touches deeper the heart of religion.
His noble " Self-portrait " is here, with the grinning skeleton Death playing the fiddle behind him, to which he is listening with startled intensity. This, and the portraits of a lady, of the singer Wallenreiter, and of the sculptor von Kopf, show the master's profound intuition and illumination of character.
Böcklin's most popular picture here is " The Hermit" (Plate XLV). It is a simple story, full of tender charm. In the light of early morning the aged hermit is playing on his violin a hymn of praise before the shrine of the Virgin. Three little angels with rainbow-coloured wings have sped to listen to the sweet melody. The sky has the soft violet light of early dawn, the bit of turf is green, and here and there bright spots of colour melt into the quiet tones with delicious harmony.
In the next Room II we find a number of works by Hans von Marées (1837-1887), the one who in spirit is closest related to Böcklin, although technically they are far apart. They had in common the same peculiarity of never painting from nature, but of drinking in its spirit, impressing its forms on the mind, and then depicting these, surcharged with their own personal idealism.
With Marées fate was less gracious than with Böcklin, whose last decade at least was filled with honours. Two years after the death of Marées the German art history by A. Rosenberg, published in 1889, did not even contain his name. Two books which were written about him, by his friend Konrad Fiedler, in 1889, and by his pupil, Karl von Pidoll, in 1890, were never published. And although his name had often been mentioned in Munich in the fifties, as of a man of great promise, and although he was popular with his fellow-artists when he went to Rome, he was soon forgotten. The works which he sent to Berlin were most indifferently received — they were not spirited, so it was said, nor well-drawn, nor well-composed, they had no flashing colour, in short lacked all qualities that might arouse interest or even attract attention.
Marées' artistic ideal was to place the human form in space, colour to him was but the expression of that form, and light only a means to give the openness of the three dimensions. In all his works here this is apparent. There is a stiffness and straightness in the " St. George," seated upon an almost wooden horse as he spears the dragon; but the boldness of the forms, the surrounding atmosphere, the bigness of the landscape is striking. So his Three Men in a Landscape " has knotty, muscular figures of nude men, standing and sitting in an open grove, whose roundness of form is like sculpture, and whose vitality is of human beings. The " Roman Vineyard " has a number of queerly drawn visitors at the tables, but the ensemble gives a naturalistic impression of remarkable vividness. Another landscape has a nude woman sitting on a bank of sod, and a nude male on horseback plucking an orange from a tree. There is even greater apparent carelessness in drawing, a broader, slap-ping brushwork than in the other canvases, but it is still stronger in rugged force. While the colour may be coarse and raw, it still vibrates with continuous shimmering. The " St. Martin," accosted by a half-nude beggar, is carried out with greater care. The verdict must be that the work of Marées may sin against All the conventional rules of aestheticism, notwithstanding, it is virile in its luminous strength.
Anselm Feuerbach (1829-1880) was a strong man of personal searching, who despite early leaning to classic regularity gradually cut his own way and became, what the critics called him, an autodidact. His " Ricordo di Tivoli " has the Italian atmosphere and the refinement of the later followers of Raphael. In a rocky glen, With waterfall and bubbling pool, a young girl is seated on a ledge with her hands clasped around her knees, her head, which shows in profile against the clear sky, is slightly tilted back and she gazes upward in meditation. On a lower rock a half-draped boy reclines, playing a guitar. The " Springtime " is in the same manner, with four ladies, dressed in the fashion of the sixties, scattered in a grove. The " Concert " also is Italian, with four gowned and draped women making music on lute and guitar under the arches of a portico which in architecture reminds of the Doge's Palace.
Later he became more individual and independent. In his " Plato's Symposium " we note the strength of the drawing, with a remarkable feeling for the lines which gives the whole composition that same sense of relief which we find with the Nazarenes. The incident depicted is the gathering of philosophers and poets at the house of Agathon for the discussion of Eros, when Alcibiades partly inebriated and accompanied by girls and slaves enters and delivers an harangue in praise of his friend Socrates.
Another characteristic of his later years comes especially forth in his " Medea's Flight " (Plate XLVI), which is somewhat chalky in colour, flat and reserved, and with the appearance of fresco. The " Battle of the Amazones " was painted about the same time, and with the energy of a Rubens in the whirling of massed figures, it also possesses the personal traits of Feuerbach in its hard, dry colours and successful space-painting.
His portraiture is of a high order. The self-portrait, and the one of his step-mother, are remarkably vivid and clear. The lines in the brightly lit face ,of the woman are crisp, and the shadows not overemphasized. His own portrait with its wealth of wavy hair surrounding the strong features is sculpturesque in its well-blocked planes.
Victor Müller (1829-1879) was another Munich man who, while taking his first impressions from the Piloty school, drifted off and sought his own way, like Feuerbach, Böcklin, Marées, Thoma, and so many others. His two examples here are some-what diverse in subject, but the technique, broad and bold, is readily recognized in each. The half-figure of Salome, whose bare bosom is seen above the head of John which she carries on a large plat-ter, is rich i; colour with fine fleshtints, and the ex-pression of the face, slightly averted, shows plainly a mingling of satisfied pride and disgust. The "Little Snow-princess with the Seven Dwarves " presents a far different view of fantastic gaiety from the realm of German folklore. The brush handling is as broad and certain as in the other work, but the colours are sprightly, and the joy-dance ,of the little gnomes is drawn with great dexterity and expression.
Hugo Habermann (born 1849) is one of the strongest men today of the Munich Secession. His example here is still in the conventional story-telling style of his early years. A physician in his consulting-room is examining a boy for lung-trouble, while the anxious mother, seated on a sofa, is eagerly watching for the verdict. In his later work this artist shows more nervous intensity, and in his broad, long brushstrokes, and sharp colours he displays greater freedom from academic convention.
Gallery III contains a number of works by men scarcely known beyond the German border. Gregor von Bochmann (born 1850) was one of the first to point the Dusseldorf school the way to French romantic realism, but he chose by preference Dutch subjects. His " Dockyard in South Holland " and the " Reaper " are painted, however, in the pleasing style of the French potboilers. Ergen Kampf (born 1861) with a village view " Eifeldorf," Hans von Volkmann (born 1860) with a Spring landscape, Olaf Jernberg (born 1855) with an harvest-scene, and Karl Vinnen (born 1863) with Cattle, show little Teutonic character. The best work in this style of painting here is a picturesque morning scene in the Schwarzwald, by Emil Lugo (1840-1902), a fellow-pupil with Böcklin of Schirmer. Also the " Idylle," by Ludwig von Gleichen-Russwurm (1836-1901), with its noble poplar trees skirting a green meadow is attractive.
Eduard von Gebhardt's Last Supper " hangs also in this room a serious, quiet work, but not overwhelming in high, artistic quality.
Room IV is interesting because of three fine portraits by Franz von Lenbach (1836-1904), Germany's most renowned portrait painter. The most impressive of these is the standing portrait of Bismarck, truly the best of the many counterfeits Lenbach made of the Iron Chancellor. The vigorous body is surmounted by a noble, well-poised head, the furrowed features and piercing eyes are descriptive of dominant character. Also the portraits of Marshal von Moltke, and of the famous sculptor, Reinhold Begas, are worthy of the brush of this artist who excelled in his portraits of men, but whose women portraits are far from sincere.
An " Autumn Storm, Rapallo," by Gustav Schönleber (born 1851), shows excellent painting of agitated water, as the river comes roaring through the arches of the stone bridge which spans it. A " Fishers-village," by Hans Hermann (born 1855), a thorough academician, is pleasing and no more. The " Cemetery by the Sea," by Ludwig Dettrnann (born 1865), is striking and impressive. The flower-decked and shell-bordered graves and crosses are in the foreground, and behind the fence of this cemetery the dune and beach slope gently towards the white surf of the sea.
Going through the Rotunda we enter the first cabinet. Here we find several landscapes of pass-able interest. The landscape by Eugen Jettel (1845-1902) is called in the catalogue " Hungarian Landscape with bathing Children," but is apparently one of the many Dutch scenes the artist frequently painted, with a windmill, houses and trees half concealed by a dike, and a sheet of water with a timber-curing dock in the foreground. The children bathing, the ducks swimming about, and the wash hanging on the hedges, is typical of the Dutch lowlands. A " Taunus Landscape," by Peter Burnitz (1824-1886), has some well-painted stunted and crooked appletrees growing in a field. The perspective is extensive and shows houses and a church tower in the distance. Hugo Darnaut (born 1851), a Viennese artist, shows a landscape in lower Austria ; while Teutwart Schmitson (1830-1902), also of Vienna, places horses and cattle in his wooded fields. Emil Schindler (1842-1892) was one of the Viennese who brought French influences to bear on the conventional art of that city. He was not appreciated during his life, although later his good example was followed. Without deserving unbounded praise still his out-door genre had more animation and realism than the orthodox stiffness of the Viennese school of his time. Its attempt to prod ice heroic, historical work was but a poor imitation of the Piloty school, and had brought forth but few who could compete with their western neighbours. Schindler, in a more modest way, painted scenes of life with great realism. In his "Picnic in the Vienna Prater " he has put many types of excellent characterization. The landscape part, however, is a bald imitation of the Barbizon manner.
Another painter of types is Gotthardt Kuehl (born 1850), now a teacher at the Dresden Academy. His " Old Men's Home in Lübeck" has a peculiar homelike appearance, and its inmates an air of peaceful content.
Cabinet 2 has for its principal work the large painting by Fritz von Uhde (1848-1910) " Come, Lord Jesus, be our Guest." Von Uhde was one of those, like Leibl, Liebermann, Bartels and others, who changed his style through Dutch influence, cut loose from the conventionalism so characteristic of nineteenth century German art, and through the Munich Secession movement stirred the Teutonic school to nobler endeavours. Von Uhde's progress may be marked in the works he has produced, and successively we may trace in him the example of Makart, Munkaczy, Bastien Lepage, until Joseph Israels revealed to him the truths of art that most deeply appealed to his own soul ; and von Uhde became a serious, sincere, and strong painter. There is a realism in his work that well-nigh becomes materialistic, and yet the meanest subject which he chooses he elevates and enobles with a pure feeling, simplicity and rectitude of thought. The plain artisans into whose modest home the Master has entered, with all their humble bearing, are idealized by a loving faith that bows before the divine presence. There is little of the mystic type or symbolism in this painting, but the welcome which the poor believers offer to the Master be-comes very real.
Hans Thoma (1839-1909) also had great influence on German art. It was a hard struggle to overcome the shoulder-shrugs and sneers which greeted his work, even into the eighties, but at last the critics and the public acknowledged the leader. Thoma began to paint in Frankfort, where there was no school but a company of independent artists who allowed each his free way; and quietly our artist developed there. From the first his work was distinct for its sunny light-grey tone, with colours simple and yet abundant, painted with clear delight in their brilliancy. When he painted a piece of nature, notably the Schwarzwald where he lived, he gave a sense of freshness and depth of feeling which denote an unusual intimacy with the spirit of the landscape. His " Schwarzwald Landscape with Goats," and the " Rhine near Söckingen " are pure leaves out of nature's book. There is nothing of the antique, of the classic, of the academy, in these works ; they are not composed, nor idealized, they are painted as the master saw, and, above all, felt.
The next cabinet, 3, shows us several portraits. Karl Stauffer-Bern (1857-1891) painted the likeness of the popular novelist Gustav Freitag; Wilhelm Trübner (born 1851) one of his fellow-artist Karl Schuch; Louis Eisen (1843-1899) a charming and intimate portrait of his mother. There are here, also several more portraits by Franz von Lenbach, a pastel of Bismarck, the Chancellor Prince Hohenlohe, Richard Wagner, and a unique portrayal of the famous historian, Professor Mommsen (Plate XLVII). There is in this likeness a marvellous fulness of effect reached by a modicum of means — just tinted lines, with the scarcity of some of Rembrandt's etchings, but also with their wonderful sureness and expressiveness. The face is incisive in its vital look, its keen eyes and sharp precision of modelling.
The fourth cabinet gives us a view of the work of Wilhelm Leibl (1844-1900), one of the great peasant painters of Germany. He also passed through changes of manner as a result of his training under Piloty, and subsequent studies in Paris. He found himself fully when he retired to the Dachauer region of Upper Bavaria, where he laid the foundation of the present Dachauer school of landscape painting, without, however, himself going as far as his followers into pleinairism. He painted by preference the peasants around Munich. They are not handsome or attractive, nor engaged in any occupation. They are types, and he goes into the details of the texture of their picturesque dress with a passion which Holbein displayed. But Leibl is broader in brushwork. One sees that his ambition did not lie in the telling of a story concerning the people he painted, but in the pure craftsmanship of representing them with pigment and brush. The " Dachauerinnen," the " Dachauer Woman with a Child," the " Gamekeeper," the " Hunter," the " Peasantboy," lounging in a chair, are all types of the people, and thoroughly naturalistic. Three portraits, especially the one of " The Alderman," are strong performances, reminding of the technique of Frans Hals.
Spread among these works we note a few stillives by Karl Schuch (1846-1903), a Vienna artist of some repute, and two interiors of peasant cabins by Leibl's friend, Johann Sperl (born 1840).
The next, the fifth, is the Liebermann cabinet. Max Liebermann (born 1847) was another champion of the new art in Germany. Trained in Berlin, studying in Paris where Munkaczy and also Millet greatly impressed him, influenced by the work of Hals and of Israels on a visit to Holland, and later taken up with the French impressionists, he shows somewhat of each of these tendencies in the work he has produced, without having become superficially imitative. There is undeniable personality in his method and his feeling, and as the first German light-painter he incurred the hatred of the idealistic critics, but at the same time became the prophet of the younger generation of painters. His light-painting was not the chiaroscuro of the old masters, with the contrast of light and shade, brilliancy emphasized by dark spots. His light is tonal through mixing of white with his colours. The critics called this, " giving his pictures milk-baths," many never perceiving that this white of light is everywhere in nature and saturates it. The " Flax-spinners of Laren " and the " Cobbler's Shop " give this light in interiors, the " Dunes near Noordwyk " show it in all its outdoors brilliancy. The " Geese-pluckers " is an earlier work of darker tone, painted under the influence of Munkaczy.
One of his strongest followers was Franz Skarbina (1849-1910), whose " Evening in the Village " is finer than any Thaulow, while the " Lace-knitter of Bruges " has exquisite charm. By no means academic is Friedrich Kalimorgen (born 1856), at present teacher at the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts. His " Harbour view of Hamburg " is a magnificent scene, ruddy and luminous by the reflection of the setting sun in the waves of the roadstead. The houses, factories and docks, with the towers of the city looming in the distance, are broadly painted. His " Michaels' Church in Hamburg by Rain " shows the artist's fondness for moisture with its scintillating reflections.
In Room V we find still two modern men of great strength. The " Grünewaldsee," by Walter Leistikow (born 1865), shows the later reaction against the light-painting of Liebermann and Leibl, which with many degraded into monotony. A greater desire for decorative quality led Leistikow to scenes like the one before us, the bend of a lake, part of the water brightly lit by the clear sky, and part in deep shadow by the heavy fringe of pinetrees that come down to the bank. It was a turning back again from the concrete to the abstract idealism of the middle period.
Heinrich Zügel (born 1850), now teacher at the Munich Academy, is a bold pleinairist. His " Cattle in a Sunny Meadow," his " Boy with a Cow," are broadly painted, with flecks of light dotting the canvas. His cattle is as well painted as the landscape, with a masterful and energetic touch.
The remaining rooms are filled with sculptures by Hildebrandt, Begas, Rauch, and others.
( Originally Published 1912 )
The Art of The Berlin Galleries:
Rooms 41, 44, 43. Venetian Paintings Of The 15th Century
Room 42 - Venetian And Lombard Sculpture, And Venetian Paintings
Room 39—collection James Simon
Room 45 - Florentine Paintings Of The 16th Century
The Spanish Paintings
The French Paintings
The English Paintings
The German Paintings
The Dutch And Flemish Paintings
The Royal National Gallery
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