The History of Painting: From the Fourth to the Early Nineteenth Century  

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"Geschichte der Malerei [...] treats the entire development of European painting from the downfall of the antique world to the early nineteenth century [...] [and interprets] the great styles of painting from the psychology of the age in which they originated."--The History of Painting: From the Fourth to the Early Nineteenth Century (1893/94) by Richard Muther


"The Gods in Exile, the title of a fanciful sketch by Heine, would also be an appropriate designation for this chapter. In Leo X’s day the gods of Olympus had taken possession of the Christian heaven. Men lived and moved in antiquity, to such an extent that the most sacred monuments of Christian religion gave place to new structures conceived in the antique spirit. In place of the ancient basilica of St. Peter a temple arose in antique proportions, a Pantheon suspended in the air.’’ The Vatican, the residence of the pope, was filled with the masterpieces of antique art. The purpose of a crusade to which he summoned the nations was not to recover the Holy Sepulchre; he hoped to find Greek codices in Jerusalem. In life also the spirit of Hellenism, the joyous sensuousness of the ancients reigned. Not the princes of the apostles, Peter and Paul, but the heathen philosophers Plato and Aristotle, were immortalised by Raphael as the rulers of spiritual life."--The History of Painting: From the Fourth to the Early Nineteenth Century (1893/94) by Richard Muther

{{Template}} Geschichte der Malerei (five volumes, 1899–1902) is a book by Richard Muther.

It was published in English as The History of Painting: From the Fourth to the Early Nineteenth Century (2 volumes, 1907), translated and edited by George Kriehn.


Contents

Preface

THE author of the present work, now for the first time presented in English translation, needs no introduction to the English-speaking public.

To all investigators and students of the history of art he is widely known as the author of numerous authoritative works upon the history of illustration and of painting. Some of us, indeed, had the good fortune to hear his brilliant paper upon Problems of the Study of Modern Painting at the congress held in connection with the Universal Exposition at St. Louis in 1904. To the general public also, he is widely known by his standard treatise, Geschichte der Malerei im neunzebnten Jabr- bundert (3 vols., Munich, 1893-4), the English trans- ‘lation of which appeared under the title, The History of Modern Painting, in 1895-6. This rather inaccu- rate translation of the German title of the work (since the term “Modern Painting” is usually employed to include the entire development since the Renais- sance) should not lead the reader to confuse it with the present work, the title of which i have translated The History of Patnting.

Its original, the Geschichte der Malerei, appeared in five small volumes in the Sammlung Goschen (Leipzig, iii 1900). While the first named work is practically confined to the nineteenth century, of which it is the standard history, the latter treats the entire development of European painting from the downfall of the antique world to the early nineteenth century, ending therefore where the former begins. But although it is more general in treatment and less prolix in detail than the earlier work, it is equally brilliant in style and interesting in conception. For it represents the consistent application to this more extensive period of the author’s interesting theory of the interpretation of the great styles of painting from the psychology of the age in which they originated.

The scope and purpose of the present work are most clearly indicated in Professor Muther’s brief and modest preface to the German edition:

‘These volumes [he says] do not constitute a text-book of the history of painting. The author has undertaken to present neither the biographies of the authors nor descriptions of their pictures. For the reader who is interested in such personal and descriptive records the material will be found available in a number of authoritative works. In the present treatise the author has attempted to explain from the psychology (so to speak) of each period its dominant style and to interpret the works of art as ‘human documents.’ The pre- scribed brevity of the work has rendered it impossible to do more than touch upon certain of the questions and problems considered.”

The interpretation of the works of the great masters from the time and circumstances under which they arose is not a novelty in the history of art. It is of common occurrence in the history of literature, and in artists’ biographies of the present day it is customary to devote one or more chapters to such interpretation. Some biographies, indeed, like Thode’s admirable Leben Michelangelos, are written entirely from the psychological standpoint. But no one has heretofore gone as far as Professor Muther in the application of the psychological method to such extensive periods, nor has any one used the method as incisively as he. The great styles are for him the necessary outcome of the intellectual and religious tendencies of the age; as, for example, the religious art of such painters as Botticelli, Crivelli, Perugino, and Memling are part and parcel of the great religious reaction throughout Europe of which the chief spokesman was Savonarola. The religious paintings of Zurbaran and the portraits of Velasquez are for him the logical expression of the two dominant tendencies of the Spanish monarchy, Catholicism and absolutism. Proceeding with the same method from the age to the individual, he interprets the works of the artist as the expression of his psychical development, bringing the reader into more sympathetic relation with the artist than is possible by any other method.

This is hardly the proper place for an exposition of the advantages of the psychological method or a comparison of it with others. Suffice it to say that, as applied by Professor Muther, it gives greater unity to the development of European painting in that it reveals new and interesting bonds of union between widely separated schools; that its use elucidates a number of doubtful points; that it discloses relations among individual artists not hitherto evident; and that it brings the reader into more sympathetic relation with the art of the great epochs as well as with the individual masters. So well, indeed, does the author’s treatment assign the relative importance of epochs and individuals, and so well has he selected for detailed treatment the really significant facts and masters, relegating the lesser lights to a proper subordinate position, that his work, although it forms a well organised and harmonious whole, generally assumes the character of a series of brilliant and critical essays. Such interpretations as the sections treating Giotto, Piero della Francesca, Durer, Rembrandt, Watteau, and many others are highly valuable contributions to art criticism.

It must not however be assumed, because the treat- ment is a psychological one, that the author fails to give an insight into the technical qualities of the great masters, even though this may be only incidental to the treatment. In this regard the present work fully sus- tains the reputation achieved by the author in his History of Modern Painting.

The style is clear and intelligible, more resembling clever magazine writing than the ponderous, involved style frequently met with in German works of this character. It has been the effort of the translator to preserve as far as possible the flavour of the original, although this has often been difficult.

In accordance with the popular character of the work, the author has refrained from the use of foot- notes. It did not seem within the province of the editor to change this plan, except in a few instances requiring elucidation to the English-speaking: public. A few other footnotes have been added in such cases where an explanation seemed desirable; as where the author’s view conflicts with the consensus of expert opinion, or in case of some seeming error of detail. Nor has the editor esteemed it his duty to express or comment upon the instances in which his own opinion differs from that of the author.

In the index will be found in connection with the name of each artist whose work is considered the specification of the year of his birth and death, in so far as these are obtainable. The translator has adopted the form of the names used by Professor Muther in all cases in which they are permissible in English.

In conclusion, the translator desires to express his sincere thanks to his friend, A. I. du Pont Coleman, Esq., whose valuable advice and assistance have been freely and readily given, and his obligation to the publishers, who have spared no expense to make the book attractive in form. The numerous _half-tone illustrations which appear in it have been selected with a view of supplementing the narrative with a pictorial presentation of the history of painting.

George Kriehn,

New York, November, 1906,


Book I.— Medieval painting

Chapter I.— The Middle Age

I.—The Mosaic Style

The history of Christian painting may perhaps be conceived as a great compromise with Hellenism. With the collapse of the antique world, the most subtly refined civilisation that the world has ever seen came to anend. By its spiritual tendencies and its denial of the earthly, Christianity placed almost insuperable barriers to art. “ Great Pan was dead.”’ Religion with the Greeks had been a joyous cult of the senses teaching men to enjoy life here below; it now became a belief in the other world, which regarded the earthly existence as only a sad preparation for the life to come. True, the spring still came; men loved, the flowers bloomed, the birds sang, and the meadows were green. But all this was a delusion of Hell intended to lead the believer astray and to fill his soul with sinful thoughts. The world beyond was his home, the present world only a Gol- gotha, where the skull lay and Christ hung crucified.


By this ascetic trend so hostile to sensuality,! which proscribed: the love of nature and the enjoyment of this world, Christianity tied up the chief artery of artistic creation; and only in one direction was the course left open.


‘It had deepened the psychical, and revealed treasures of kindness and love, of humility and self-denial, which Greek thought had not yet conceived. In this direction, if any art at all should originate, the development must go.- As Greek art had been sensual and physical, the Christian must become psychical and spiritual. If the former had sought its aim in the ideal perfection of bodily form, Chris- tianity must find hers in the apotheosis of the soul.” ?

Although by a circuitous route, painting approached this aim.

The first reaction against Hellenism was this, that art was entirely forbidden. “Cursed be all who


,


paint pictures,’ is a sentiment often recurring in the writings of the church fathers. Not until Christianity had come into contact with other cultures, after it had come to Rome, did it lose its hostile character to art. But as these artists were Romans it is at the same time explicable why the first works of art were much less Christian than antique. It is the affair of the theologian to describe how painting began as a language of signs, and to explain all those symbols, the cross, the fish, the lamb, the dove, and the phcenix,


1 The terms ‘‘sensual” and ‘‘ sensuality ” are used in this translation to signify that which appertains to the senses; without evil signifi- cance, and corresponding with the German sinzlich and Sinnlichkeit.

  • It was impossible for the translator to obtain from the author in

time the source of this citation, evidently the same authority cited on pp. 6, 46-47.

which, as a kind of hieroglyphic writing, open the history of Christian art. The archeologist must explain why in the pictures of the catacombs, although they express a new spirit, the forms of the antique are used without reserve. All these mural paintings, Hermes Bearing the Ram, Orpheus Playing the Lute, or other figures borrowed from paganism, and now intro- duced with Christian change of meaning, are joyful and bright. As in the mural paintings of Pompeii, the entire treatment is decorative in a pleasant sense. But this correspondence shows that the art of the catacombs belongs to the past, not the future— that it is the end, not the beginning of an artistic development.

Not until after the first churches were constructed, and Christianity represented no longer a sect but the ruling state religion, could a Christian art develop. The symbolic element, which had been borrowed from the antique, becomes less prominent, and the sacred personages of Christian art receive their fixed types. This development is reflected in the mosaics. Although they also were created by a technical process known to the ancient Romans, the spirit which pervades them is a new one. In these works the whole tre- mendous power of the church in the first days of its recognition is expressed. ‘As once in the temples of the Hellenic world the gold-gleaming statues of Zeus and Pallas had shone, so now from the apses of the basilicas the images of Jesus and of His court look


6 The Middle Age


down in solemn splendour.’”’ A solemn repose char- acterises all these figures; motionless as statues, they are enthroned side by side in simple symmetry. The vine decoration and the playful, joyous elements of antique art which still prevailed in the paintings of the catacombs have disappeared. All is solemn, imposing, suffused with majestic splendour, like the heroes of the Christian faith, as if for eternity, and with a sublimity and power attained by no other technique.


‘‘ The gigantic size of the figures, their immobility, and the threat- ening glance of their staring open eyes has a superhuman terrifying effect. The whole spirit of the middle age, in its gloomy dogmatism and fanatic severity, and the unshaken sense of power of the ancient church have found form in these sublime works.

‘* Only one thing is no longer felt: that Christianity was originally the religion of love. In course of the centuries Christian doctrine had taken an increasingly dogmatic form. The loving founder of the new faith, the simple Jesus of Nazareth, had by the decree of the councils been transformed into a God; and God Himself, the loving Father, had - become a punishing despot. So, at least, the mosaics announce. They speak of the power and of the severity of God, not of His kind- ness; they preach the fear of God, but no heavenly love.”


That they are made of stone is significant; for stony, cold, and icy is the heart of these beings. All-know- ing, all-seeing, and unapproachable, divinity, like an omnipresent revenging Nemesis or a stony Gorgon, looks down upon the world.

~The gloomy, rigid, and motionless character of the mosaic style was justified as long as Byzantine painting was confined to Byzantium; for here it corresponded with the development followed by Christian belief.


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The Mosaic Style 7


It suited to the formal character of the state, the solemn ceremony of manners, the rigid gravity of the court, and the strangely stable, oriental spirit per- vading all life. But the youthful, unexhausted nations of the West, who from the close of the first millennium had entered as new factors into history, also required ideals. Whence should they be derived?

Although the Occident too had long been nourished from the mighty heritage of antiquity, the incursions of the northern barbarians put an end to this ancient civilisation. After the events of the German mi- grations and during the resulting struggles, there was for centuries no room for art, which can only flourish in the soil of a clarified culture. The new races began indeed to govern themselves and to form real nations; but with all their military greatness, energy and force, they had not yet entered that zsthetic stage which is a prerequisite of artistic development. Men were en- gaged in eating and drinking, building, tilling the soil, and populating the country: it was only a time for armi, not for marmi. Not until the material wants had been supplied did enterprising Byzantines cross over to adorn the new churches with their works of art. Through them the Occident received its first artistic veneer; but the schematism of that withered art was also transferred to the new domain. Confined between the civilisation of the declining Orient and the barbarism of their home, artists hesitated between blind imitations of Byzantine models and awkward,


8 The Middle Bdge


crude, and helpless creation from their own feelings, In the one case a rigid scheme prevails, in the other barbaric wildness.

The miniature painting of the Irish, Gallic, and German monks was less painting than calligraphy. From scrolls and flourishes purely calligraphic human figures were constructed. Panel-painting occasionally attempted to break through Byzantine rigidity: the artists painted gigantic crucifixes and even ventured upon more dramatic subjects, such as martyrdoms and passion scenes. But every effort was thwarted by their inability to draw. The limbs are uncouth, the movements clumsy, and the pictures unnatural, crude, and hideous. In other instances foreign models were imitated, only with greater crudity and rudeness. It seems as if the painters had intentionally imitated the aged character of their Byzantine models. Morose and emaciated figures, withered as mummies, with hollow cheeks and deep-set eyes—beings grown old through castigation and penance,—are the subjects of the later products of mosaic-painting. And even these, instead of becoming more lifelike, constantly grew more rigid and gloomy. As mosaics played the deter-. minative rolein art, mural and glass painting acquired the same ascetic, petrified style. Not an eyelash of these figures quivers; not a feature betrays that they could hear prayers of men, graciously comfort or mercifully pardon them. " Severe as judges, and with pitiless dignity, they stare down like threatening


The Mosaic Style 9


tables of the law, demanding submission, fear, and obedience, but according neither mercy, comfort, nor redemption. And yet men long for love and comfort. When the official forms of religion had hardened into spirit- less rigidity, they again sought to enter into a personal relation with God, and to honour Him not as a slave his master, but as a child his father. They desired saints who should not make the sinner tremble by their heartless severity, but who should kindly and lovingly pity him. In the great religious movement accomplished in the twelfth century, this longing found expression. Amidst the great world-moving questions of Catholicism the care for the individual had been forgotten. The exciting age of the crusades had concealed for a time the interior emptiness; but after the jubilation of war had passed over, it was all the more perceptible. The people required clergy who should take part in their pain and joy; who should preach no longer in Latin but in the vernacular, and proclaim the gospel, not with scholastic subtlety, but with the same patriarchal simplicity as did Christ upon the Mount of Olives. Peter Waldo had already appeared, but the church had condemned him as a heretic. Francis of Assisi was the first to have a better fate.

When he began his sermons a feeling of springtime passed over the earth. It seemed to men as if a new Messiah had come; and Francis indeed refounded


10 The Middle Age


Christianity by the substitution of a religion of feeling for a rigid faith in the letter. Love bridged the abyss which had until now yawned so abruptly between God and mankind. By depriving the Godhead of its awful rigidity, mysticism gave it a feeling, human soul. Mary especially, the youthful mother of God, became the centre of worship. The adoration of Mary re- flected in part the knightly reverence for women felt by the Crusaders and the Minnesingers; but it is due also to her personality, which, in its tender, helpless womanhood, was more sympathetic to the sentiment of the age than the tragic figure of the Son of God and the severe majesty of the Father. To her St. Francis dedicated stammering love songs, just as the Minne- singers had written to their gentle ladies, their «liebe Frouwe.”’ In her honour the chimes of Ave Maria each evening sounded their salutation from the towers of all Franciscan churches.

Not only did Francis bring divinity nearer to man- kind; he also reconciled it with the animal world and with nature. As in the days of Hellas a pantheistic trend again passed over the earth. While the middle age had seen in animals only beings inimical to God, creations of Satan, and enchanted demons, Francis calls them his “brothers and sisters.’”” And the animals thank him for his love; the robins eat at his table, and the birds of the field listen to his sermon. In like manner he freed nature from the curse which monkish theology had spoken over her. He calls


PanelePainting II


upon the meadows and the vineyards, the fields and the woods, the rivers and the hills to praise God. For him all creation is the result of the love of God, who wishes to see men happy; who lets the spring come and the mild winds blow in order that his children here below may rejoice in them.

These changed views did not remain without in- | fluence upon art. Through Francis nature was reconciled to religion, and again became a subject of artistic glorification. Therefore, in place of the gold background which had previously served the purpose of isolating the figures of the saints from everything earthly, the landscape gradually appears: rose hedges and paradisiac gardens, where the little birds sing and animals live peaceably beside the saints. But especially from a psychic point is the change perceptible. As in the midst of the religious enthusiasm the fervent hymns of the Franciscans replaced older chants, so in painting ecstatic feeling succeeds rigid solemnity. The saints, once so gloomy and severe, became kindly and mild as the Poverello himself. Especially in de- picting Mary and the lovely virgins of her train, art learned what it most lacked: the expression of psychic feeling.

II.— Panel Painting under the Influence of Mysticism

But the circumstance that panel-painting, which formerly had played a very modest part, now became the determinative factor in art is characteristic of the change in emotional life. In mosaic-painting also artistic progress and animation of the figures was ex- cluded by the technique of the work. The painter could not express himself directly, since he only de- signed the cartoon which served as a model for the artisans who completed the work. Now the place of this impersonal style, in whose cold material every emotion was chilled, was taken by a new technique which: permitted the master to record his thoughts without an intermediary, and also to express by means of the delicate technique of the brush the finer shades of emotion.

Nevertheless, the change was in no sense a rapid one. However much art endeavoured to follow the new spirit of the times, it stood under the ban of a thousand years’ tradition. Even after the appearance of Francis the Byzantine scheme prevailed, and very gradually the new sentiment breaks. through tra- ditional forms.

In older art Mary had usually been represented alone with arms raised in prayer. More rarely the theme was the Madonna with the Christ-child, although, according to the legend, the evangelist Luke had painted such a picture. But even then Mary pre- served her rigid sublimity. She is seated facing the beholder—the involuntary mother of God; while He, more a miniature divinity than a child, stands solemnly upon her lap, holding in one hand a scroll, as a sign


PanelePainting 13


of His office as teacher, and with the other giving the blessing.

The oldest panel paintings differ in no wise from these mosaics. Until the twelfth century it had been the custom to adorn the altars with costly reliquaries wrought in metal; and partly to preserve the metallic sheen of this decoration, partly because of the con- tiguity of mosaics or stained glasses, the paintings had to make the most glittering impression possible. The figures, therefore, are raised like mosaics from a gold background. Red, blue, and gold are the pre- vailing colours. The figures also have the solemnity of Byzantine types. The head of the Madonna, with the large almond eyes and long, pointed nose, and the indifferent manner in which she holds the Child with her elongated, bony hands, are the same in both cases; as is also true of the aged features of the Byzantine Christ-child. There is as yet no sign of any in- novation or of heightened emotion. ;

Not until the close of the thirteenth century, in the works of the Florentine master Cimabue, is a change perceptible. The Christ-child becomes more childish and tender; and a soft inclination of the head of the Madonna shows that she hears the prayers of men and can bring them help and gracious forgiveness. The hard, sullen features are animated by softness and charm, by human sentiment; and it is in this sense that Vasari wrote that through Cimabue more love had come into art.


ae The Middle Fge


More tenderly than the rest of Tuscany, Siena, the quiet hill city, incorporated the mystic ideal of the Madonna. The Siennese are the first lyric painters of modern art. As they imparted to their pictures a neat and dainty element and a splendour of colour and gilding that recall Byzantine art, so also their works reflect the wealth of ecstatic feeling that had come into the world through St. Francis. While Byzantine art emphasised age, here the youthful, lovely, and graceful prevail; if there all was stormy and rigid, the prevailing characteristic here is slender, supple grace. It seems as if the stone vaults of the churches had suddenly become transparent, and the eye gazed upward into the real heaven, where tender ethereal beings, singing and praising the Highest, lived in eternal youth and lovingly gazed down upon mankind. In his great Madonna of the Cathedral Duccio gave the first impulse. This Mary is no longer severe and dignified, but mild and gracious, as if she had had pity upon the longing soul of the believer; for a soft dreamy melancholy transfigures her features. Her relation to the Child also is changed; she is no longer the involuntary mother of God, but a tender mother. Ambrogio. Lorenzetti, the gentle poet, painted her tenderly pressing her cheek against the Child’s face, and giving nourishment to Him: motherly and yet maidenly, proud and yet modest.

A similar progress from rigidity to soul-painting may be seen in all subjects. Not only in the principal


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figures; for in order to neighten the psychic effect painters loved to add angels and saints, whose joy or sadness harmoniously echoed the sentiment of the principal event. Formerly the Assumption of Mary was depicted with frosty rigidity; now gratitude and heavenly longing beam from her eyes, while the angels sing and make music, and festal jubilation pervades the pictures. In the Coronation of Mary nothing else had been formerly represented but Christ, stiffly seated, placing a crown upon the head of the equally immobile Madonna. Now she crosses her arms in humble ecstasy, and the Redeemer blesses her. while saints and angel musicians follow the action in joyful astonishment. If the Annunciation is depicted, the endeavour now is to express the modesty of Mary and the childish eagerness of God’s messenger. Even to the crucifixes, which were formerly frightful pictures, in awkward blurred outlines, with an uncouth, greenish body, a sacred and melancholy sentiment is imparted. Silent devotion speaks from the eyes of the Redeemer wailing or lost in the depths of melancholy his friends stand about: one pressing his hands upon his breast, another lifting them in astonished adoration, a third covering his face and weeping hot tears.

The same development was experienced during the fourteenth century in Germany; indeed, the ideals of the mystics perhaps found here their purest embodi- ment, since a dreamy sentimentality is more a part of the German than of the Italian character.


VOL. I.—2


16 The MDiddle Age


In Germany also, especially in Westphalia, it had been preceded by altar-pieces in the rigid style of mosaics. The position is stiff, the expression lifeless, and the forms are outlined with severe conventionality. Eyes, noses, beards, the folds of the garments, and the wings of the angels, everything—although drawn with a brush, makes rather the impression of being composed of mosaic cubes.

The schools of Prague and Nuremberg likewise made little progress beyond this. In Prague, which had become an artistic centre through Charles IV, the chief painter was Master Theodorich, who carried specifically medizval painting to the highest perfection. All of his figures are of gloomy majesty and deep solemnity: the heads powerful, the eyes threatening, and the draperies arranged in accordance with the mosaic style. The painters of Nuremberg, indeed, attempted to follow the new spirit of the times; for their works, although commonplace and compre- hensible, are softer than those of Prague. The solemn grandeur of the medizval style is lost upon them; but to the ideals of the self-sacrificing love of God, which St. Francis nad revealed, the artist of that thrifty commercial city could not honestly surrender.

As Assisi of Italian, so Cologne became the centre of German painting. It was in a peculiar sense a sacred city, hallowed by the poetry of an ancient history and the seat of the mightiest cathedral of the middle age. During the fourteenth century, it was the home


PanelePainting 17


of the greatest German mystics, Albertus Magnus, Master Eckhardt, Tauler of Strasburg, and Suso—all apostles of the same doctrine which Francis had pro- claimed in Italy. In Suso, especially, the seraphic saint found a successor kindred in spirit. His whole life was an eternal love struggle, his adoration of the Madonna of an almost sensual character. He calls her his heart’s love, and begs that she will become his lady, because his young and gentle heart cannot exist without love. At night he longs for her and he salutes her in the morning. In the month of May, when the youths sing songs to their sweethearts, he also brings ~ his song to the blessed one. He sees her before him in body, clothed in a long white garment, a wreath of roses in her golden hair; and hears songs like the sound of zolian: harps. Just such visions, translated into painting, are the pictures of the epoch: the delicate ethereal dreams of pious visionary enthusiasts. As Mary had before been a solemn and majestic queen, she now appears as a most gracious virgin in all the charm of youth, attended like a princess by a court of well-bred maids of honour.

The founder of this new tendency was until recently supposed to have been Master Wilhelm of Cologne. But it is evident from dated panels of the school that in the years 1358-72, when Wilhelm of Herle laboured at Cologne, the school of that city still moved in thoroughly medizval paths. The rigidly-drawn figures with angular movements and awkward hands in no


18 The Middle Age


wise resemble the languishing beings with soft and — oscillating. bearing, so typical of the Cologne school. The actual creator of this new style was Hermann Wynrich of Wesel, who after Wilhelm of Herle’s death took charge of his workshop, and dominated Cologne painting from 1390 to 1413. He, and not Master Wilhelm, is the master of the celebrated Altar of Mary in the Cathedral, which reveals with especial clearness the awakening of the new sentiment.

The paintings are not all by the same hand. The crude passion scenes of the upper row seem the work of an assistant, who painted in the old style. Wynrich painted the six middle panels in which, with delicate freshness, the childhood of Jesus is recounted. When at a later period he attempted dramatic subjects, he had little success. Only where the problem is to depict quiet Madonnas and mild womanhood his delicate lyric art is in place. The slender, fragile bodies of his Virgins, encircled by flowing garments, are quite overshadowed by the expression of their soft brown eyes, beaming with longing for the other world and for the heavenly bridegroom. The heads are inclined softly to the side; the shoulders are narrow and the chest is flat; and the weak, slender arms terminate in delicate, ethereally white hands. Even the men, although they wear beards, possess nothing of powerful manhood. They look bashfully and humbly into the world, dreamy as children, reminding one of the doctrine of the mystics that a healthy body


Panel-Painting 19


is the severest hindrance in the journey to blessedness. One also recognises that from this subordination of body to soul all the excellences of this art are derived. Just because Wynrich placed the bodily element in the background, he succeeded in rendering the ex- pression of feeling with such purity and clearness, “The typical resemblance of the figures, the delicate oval of the heads, the fragile slenderness of the bodies— all serve to transport into a distant world, where everything is charming and beautiful, and the feelings are tender and refined: a paradise where neither rudeness nor discord disturbs the great harmony, the heavenly music of the spheres.”’

«That the landscape is occasionally called into re- quisition in order to heighten the paradisiac sentiment of the pictures, is also due to the teachings of the mystics. As Francis in Italy, so Suso in Germany freed nature from the curse of monkish theology. Flowers, especially roses, and beautiful gardens in which the Madonna wanders, frequently occur in his visions.”

He describes Paradise as a beautiful meadow, where lilies and roses, violets and mayflowers exhale their odours, and where starlings and nightingales sing day and night their glorious melodies: Therefore Wynrich also loves to represent the Madonnia out-of-doors, upon blooming meadows, escorted by dainty virgins. Some- times St. Catherine kneels beside her in the act of betrothal with the Christ-child; sometimes it is Agnes


20 The Middle Age


who plays with the lamb. Others read to her from precious books, make music, pluck flowers, or teach the Christ-child to play the zither. Knights, also, slender as maidens, join them to carry on well-bred conversation with the young ladies upon the green sward, where the flowers bloom and waft their per- fume. In works of this kind the medizval period of German art ended. They are the last echo from that world of pure harmonies which Francis and Suso had revealed.

III.— The Foundation of the Epic Style by Giotto

In another direction the appearance of St. Francis was even more fruitful in consequences. Not only did he deepen by his sermons the religious life of the period, thus creating the soil for mystic painting; but by re- placing the dogmatic by a personal Christ, as His earthly life had shown Him, a man among other men, he added the “Life of Christ” as a new subject of art. An epic was furnished which could be related only by painters. Especially did the life of the saint, with its self-denial and miraculous occurrences, call for present- ation with epic breadth in great monumental paintings.

As the Gothic in Italy was different from that in the North, there was no lack of mural surfaces. Its principle was to vault wide interiors with great arches upon small supports; and as these broad surfaces required decoration, fresco painting became the de- terminative factor in Italian art.

For the legend of St. Francis there was no sacred tradition. The artists, confined for centuries to de- votional pictures of Christ and Mary in which every motion, every fold of the garment had been determined by ecclesiastical prescription, suddenly found freedom in this new theme. All the scenes had to be created anew from the oral traditions of the monks or from his Life by Bonaventura. The problem now was to depict events and actions, instead of quiet devotional paintings. For the mastery of such things emotional ecstasy and mystic meditation would not suffice. A mighty, virile formative power, a power to create independently, and a certain realism were necessary. The substitution of an actual, almost a contemporary, subject for immutable heavenly figures meant a com- plete break with medieval tradition. It is therefore no accident that the solution of this problem was ac- complished by a city which had no tradition to break, because it had stood silently aside during the middle age; not by eternal Rome, proud Venice, or mighty Pisa, but by youthful Florence, which, fresh, strong, and with unexhausted power, now took its place in the culture and art of Italy. By the side of the lyric artists of Siena and Cologne, the great Giotto arose as the epic painter; a realist among the mystics of the fourteenth century.

He won his spurs in the church which was the burial-place of St. Francis at Assisi. Giovanni Cimabue, who had been commissioned with the decoration,


22 The Middle Age


had taken him, the former shepherd boy, along with — his other assistants, and assigned to him, for inde- pendent execution, the pictures which adorned the walls of the upper church with scenes from the life of St. Francis. Having exercised his powers upon the new theme, and freed himself through this contemporary subject from the chains of Byzantinism, he saw also the ancient with the modern eye. The Legend of St. Francis was followed by a new version of the Life of Christ, which he painted in the Church of the Arena at Padua. After he had decorated the nether church of Assisi with frescoes of the three vows of the Franciscan order, Poverty, Obedience, and Chastity, as well as the A potheosis of St. Francis, and had created exten- sive but not longer existing works in various other cities (Rome, Ravenna, Rimini, and Naples), he re- turned in 1334 to Florence. He was made chief architect of the cathedral and of the campanile, and also began an extensive activity as a painter in Santa Croce, the church of the Franciscans, which had just been completed. Three years after his return, on the 8th of January, 1337, his death occurred. Of him Boccaccio wrote in the Decamerone: ‘Giotto was such a genius that there was nothing in nature which he could not have represented in such a manner that it not only resembled, but seemed to be, the thing itself.”’ And Poliziano wrote as his epitaph:

‘T]le ego sum, per quem natura extincta revixit.””

Such praise offered to Giotto as a naturalist seems


BIUALOD 1] ‘9IOLD DIUDG ‘OISAAM


SIONVUd “LS JO ONITIVMAE AHL



@NOGNO" Id OLLOIN



Giotto 23


much exaggerated to the modern mind. For whoever approaches Giotto’s works with a realistic standard derived from the style of later epochs, finds no entry into the workshop of his spirit.

True, when the problem is to depict something unusual or exotic he astonishes by a quite modern naturalism. Among the following of the Three Kings in the church of Assisi are strange examples of the Mongolian race, with flat noses, yellow skin, and ebony hair; and in like manner the heads of the Nubians in the Church of Santa Croce are astonishing in ethno- graphical fidelity. But that they thus impress us shows how isolated such things are in Giotto’s works. Like all earlier artists he also has a prevailing type: those hard, impersonal faces, as if sculptured in wood, with protruding cheek-bones, almond-shaped eyes, and straight, Grecian nose.

The time was not yet ripe for the study of the nude. Consequently, where unclothed figures were depicted, as in the Baptism of Christ or in the pictures of the Crucifixion, the drawing is quite general.

As to costume he has in isolated cases, as in his picture of the Adoration of the Kings, used con- temporary fashions; but only in case of figures which he wished to contrast with those belonging to specifically Christian mythology. For the saints he retains the solemn ideal costume which the middle age had adopted from the antique: the toga, tunic, and sandals, with the head uncovered.


24 The Middle Age


As in the representation of man, so as a painter of animals he is far distant from truth to nature. The pointer which in one of the Paduan frescoes springs upon St. Joachim, the mule which in the same series St. Joseph rides, and the three camels in the Ado-. ration of the Kings at Assisi are, as regards natural- istic execution, probably the most important that Giotto has accomplished in the domain of animal painting. The sheep, with which as a former shepherd boy he must have been familiar, are incorrectly drawn; and the horse remains for him an incomprehensible mechanism.

Even more singular are his backgrounds. The buildings, although true to nature, do not as a whole form a realistic background. Far too small, they are neither drawn in correct perspective nor in proper relation to the figures of men, who are often larger than the house in which they live. As a landscape painter he also moves along the most primitive lines. In his frescoes nature is usually composed of strangely jagged and bare cliffs, upon which here and there a tree grows, having as its only foliage at most a dozen leaves which look as if they were made of lead. The picturesque elements of the landscape—streams, val- leys, hills, and woods,—its sombre and light vegetation, existed as little for him as for other painters of the lrecento. ‘lf thou wishest to design mountains in correct fashion, so that they shall appear natural, choose great stones, rough and unpolished, and draw them


Giotto. me


after nature.” This prescription of Cennini’s is a significant document for the conception of nature during an epoch for which the tree signified the forest and the stone the mountain.

Even the colour of Giotto, however much it may differ in its light tones from the elaborate and barbaric colour of Byzantine art, is far from corresponding with reality. As he sometimes paints horses red and trees blue, so he has never attained nor even attempted to render the difference of the substances of which things are composed, or to differentiate the treatment of architecture, drapery, or flesh.

But in forming a conclusion as regards the im- portance of an artist, he should be compared never with later but with earlier artists. From this point of view even the extension of the subject-matter of painting accomplished by Giotto is most important. Whereas Byzantine art had only represented the regular, eternally fixed repose of the divine, and had ‘only attempted to represent dramatic scenes in an incidental and modest fashion, Giotto was the first to depict action, and to represent not the quiet but the dramatic; not that which transcended time but what had actually happened. By substituting complete epics. and dramas for representative devotional paintings, he became the first historical painter in Christian art. |

Continuing the comparison with work that preceded his, one is immediately impressed by the aggregate technical means of expression which Giotto had to


26 The Midole Age


create in order to found this new style. The figures are not naturalistic in detail, but he is the first to present human figures in complete action. The animals are not well drawn, but he was the first to introduce into fresco painting the representatives of the animal kingdom, from the quadrupeds to the birds listening to the sermon of St. Francis. Although his landscapes are still symbolic, it was a great step to transfer the figures from the Byzantine void into fixed earthly surroundings, and to depict them upon the earth, both in the country and in the streets and squares of the cities, in a new lifelike activity.

Finally, much that seems to offend against natural truth should be explained not so much from lack of ability as from the requirements of a great style. In the absolute certainty with which he fixed the laws of the monumental style, his real immortal greatness lies. Giotto still knew, what later painters forgot, that it is not at all the purpose of mural painting to achieve naturalistic effects in form and colour; but that it only fulfils its purpose when it remains within the bounds of pure surface decoration. For this reason his art, even in our own day, has become the starting- point for Puvis de Chavannes and others. After the | development which had for centuries been directed towards realism had at length concluded, it was all | the more evident that Giotto had six centuries before possessed that which we are to-day trying to attain, His whole activity was determined not by the natural:


Giotto 27


istic but by the decorative point of view; and just because he sacrificed much of natural truth which he also might have attained, in order to achieve a monu- mental effect, he achieved in its very essence the pur- pose of decorative art.

His secret lies in the great flow of line, the clear arrangements of groups, and the severe subordination of all detail. That no belittling detail might disturb the flow of line, he chooses types which are simple and measured in feature and form. In order that the clear- ness of presentation might not suffer, he avoids all ac- cessory figures, confining himself to a laconic expression of the spiritual content of his theme. As the sustained grandeur of the monumental style is not reconcilable with abrupt change and uncertain gestures, he forms for himself a fixed language of gestures, which, like the written language, always uses the same words for the same things, and thus immediately relates to the observer what the figures have to say. A sig- nificant glance, a light movement of the hand and of the body, which the loosely hanging garments freely follow, suffice to express the person represented and the emotions of his soul. As he considers mural painting simply as surface decoration, he avoids all, plastic effects depending upon illusion of corporeality, and labours in the same style as the Japanese, in whose works also the figures have neither roundness nor throw shadows. The colour also is subordinated to the decorative purpose; for which reason he has no


28 The Middle Age


scruples against a conscious deviation from reality, if a natural colour would have disturbed the gobelin tone of his paintings.

Another consequence was the adaptation of the landscape to the requirements of this style. As the landscape could not be an independent factor, but only an accompaniment to the simple lines of the figures,- he confined it to the simplest forms. Giotto also knew that no human beings could live in such little houses, that trees and plants could not grow so sym- metrically, and that cliffs were not formed like steps or pointed like needles; but he paints them so because he knew that a naturalistic presentation would have deviated from his aim. For if he had depicted the houses larger, his frescoes, instead of being monu- mental paintings, would have become architectural and historical genre-pieces in the style of Gentile Bellini. Had he not drawn his cliffs in such sharp, straight outlines, he would not have been able to separate the planes so sharply, or the different events so clearly from each other. Had he painted the trees in naturalistic fashion, they would not only have been out of harmony with the measured straight-lined figures, but the impression of solemnity achieved by his style would have been lost. Only by doing away with everything trivial and all naturalistic detail, and by simplifying nature in order that she might speak more clearly, could he give his works the firm precision and the solemn dignity demanded by the


GIOTTO DI BONDONE



ALLEGORY OF ENVY Fresco in the Arena Chapel, Padua



Giotto 29


theme as well as by the style of decorative art.

The founder of this style could only be a man of such a clear and virile mind as Giotto. It is a psycho- logical curiosity that in the midst of such an ecstatic generation a man should live with nothing of. the mystic about him. In order to recognise this trend of his character one has only to examine his Madonnas. They are far separated from the tenderness and the mystic sincerity of the Siennese and Cologne artists. A certain sobriety, ungraceful severity, and prosaic objectivity clings to them. Instead of attempting, like the others, to attain ethereal blessedness, he introduces realistic and genre features. The Christ- child sticks his finger in his mouth, plays with a bird, or is on the point of climbing into his mother’s lap. The few anecdotes known from his life also point to the same double position. While glorifying the vows of the Franciscans, he was very careful that poverty should not be the chief aim of his own effort. Although a painter, he was equally successful in the most ma- terial of arts, one postulating no sentiment but only technical ability and mathematical calculation—ar- chitecture. He, indeed, painted mystic subjects, but was known among his contemporaries as a very clear- headed man, whose modern views and caustic witti- cisms contrasted strangely with the character of the saint, whose glorification it was his mission to celebrate.

Such also is the character of his art. It reveals, like the works of the Siennese, what depths of psychic


30 The Middle Age


life were revealed by St. Francis. All the emotions of the human heart—anger and humility, love and hate, courage and self-denial—are interpreted in masterly fashion; but without mystic blessedness and with sensible objectivity. His art is cold and transparent and speaks in sentences as brief and convincing as the conclusions of a mathematical theorem. No enthusiast, but a man of positive, exact mind; no dreamer, but a powerful workman of healthy, com- prehensive vitality, he determined for a century to come the development of Italian art.

IV.— Fresco Painting in the Later Fourteenth Century

After Giotto had created a language for painting, an extensive activity began throughout Italy. In Florence, the Church of Santa Croce, where he had painted his last pictures, offered a rich field of work for the younger generation, and at the same time Santa Maria Novella received its decoration. Siena, not- withstanding its lyric and mystic tendencies, also fol- lowed the spirit of the age, which had now become epic, in causing its Palazzo Pubblico to be decorated with frescoes. In Pisa, the slumbering city of de- cayed grandeur, the Camposanto received one of the most powerful cycles of frescoes in medizval art. In Padua, where Giotto’s work in the Arena Chapel had awakened a sense for monumental art, native artists proved their power in the Church of Sant’ Antonio and in the Chapel of San Giorgio.


The names of the principal artists are: in Florence, Taddeo Gaddi, Giottino, Maso di Banco, Giovanni da Milano, Andrea Orcagna, Agnolo Gaddi, Antonio Veneziano, Francesco da Volterra, and Spinello Aretino; in Siena, Simone Martino, Lippo Memmi, Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti; and in Padua, Altichiero da Zevio and Jacopo d’ Avanzo. Pisa, though once the chief seat of plastic art, produced no native painters, with the single exception of Francesco Traini, but imported foreign talent for the accomplishment of its great commissions.

After Giotto had portrayed the life of Christ and the legends of St. Francis and St. John the next step was to treat in a similar manner the entire Bible and the legends of the saints. The events of the Old and of the New Testament and the narrative of the Legenda Aurea were depicted in the same lucid style in which the sermons of St. Francis had been delivered.

Then the order of the Dominicans entered as a mighty factor into the artistic life. The Franciscans, simple men of the people, were now joined by the learned advocates of the church, whose principal mission was the scientific formulation and the strict preservation of the pure teachings of the church. The art which developed under the protection of the Dominican order is characteristic of their rigidly learned and strictly scholastic spirit. While in the Franciscan art allegories are exceptional and a simple legendary narrative is usually preserved, the chief


VOL, I.—3


32 The Middle Age


purpose of their rivals was to glorify in learned alle- gorical representations the moral and religious system of the great Dominican St. Thomas Aquinas, the prince of medizval scholars. It is remarkable with what consecrated seriousness the artists endeavoured to translate these abstract thoughts, hardly to be appreciated by the senses, into the language of art. In the celebrated Apotheosis of St. Thomas by Francesco Traini it was proposed to represent in a symbolic manner the spiritual influences which the saint received from different quarters and in turn exercised upon the believers,—an effect accomplished by means of a complicated system of rays, which fall upon and issue from St. Thomas. In the cycle of frescoes in the Spanish Chapel in Santa Maria Novella the subject was the importance of the Dominican order in the history of civilisation, its scientific system, and its severe office as a guardian of truth. About the papal throne lie the ‘‘watch-dogs of Christ’? (Domini- canes) awaiting the call to spring upon the wolves (the heretics); farther on friars are preaching and the souls converted by their labours enter the heavenly portals. As here the practical, so on the corresponding fresco the scientific activity of the order is represented. St. Thomas sits on a Gothic throne, at the foot of which the conquered heretics Arius, Averroes, and Sabellius cower. There follow, personified by female figures, the sacred and profane sciences. One of them, holding the globe and sword, represents imperial power; an-


Later FrescosPainting 33


other, with bow and arrow, the terrors of war, and a third, with-an organ, is music. As earthly repre- sentatives of these allegorical conceptions the figures of men are added.

Similarly, the political allegories, such as were cus- tomarily depicted in judicial and council chambers, are usually derived from the works of the greatest poetical genius of the day, Dante. After he had furnished the ideal of civic life, Ambrogio Lorenzetti, of Siena, could paint his mural decorations in the Palazzo Pubblico, which, partly as pictures of manners, partly as an allegory, depicted the blessings of good and the evils of bad government.

The symbolic and visionary subjects portrayed at the same time as the allegories are derived partly from Dante, partly from the teachings of the two mendicant orders. As popular preachers, the friars found a reference to the last judgment and the ensuing paradise and hell to be the most effective method of moving popular feeling. One of their number, Giacomino da Verona, describes paradise as a royal court in the heavens. The patriarchs and the prophets, enveloped in green, white, and blue mantles, the apostles, seated on golden and silver thrones, and the martyrs with roses in their hair, are gathered about the Eternal One in a life of untroubled joy. At Christ’s side, His enthroned mother, beautiful as a flower, is greeted by the angels with the music of harps and jubilant hymns. Hell, on the other hand, is described as a


36 The Middle Age


A certain stylistic progress over the works of Giotto may, indeed, be observed in other paintings. Orcagna and the Siennese supplemented him in psychological analysis. While Giotto interpreted powerful sentiment with dramatic perspicuity, Orcagna paints the finer, more quiet feelings, which live half in dreamland. Even when painting the Siennese hold fast to their native sentiment, thereby surpassing Giotto in psychical expression. Instead of his energetic nar- rative they prefer to depict mild visions; instead of deep passion, a gentle beauty; instead of dramatic life, a sentimental tenderness.

The master who created the frescoes of the Spanish Chapel is conspicuous by reason of his realistic back- grounds. In one instance he shows a garden planted with fruit-trees and inhabited by young people picking the fruits or resting in the shade; in another, the cathedral of Florence exactly as it had been planned by contemporary architects. The school of Padua went even farther in its realism. While Giotto was content to place the figures in the same plane in the simple style of a relief, the Paduans attempted difficult problems of perspective. Their architectural back-: grounds are more correctly drawn and the distant figures are more properly diminished in size. The char- acters, also, are conceived in a more individual, portrait- like manner, and the animals are observed as carefully as the men; as, for example, the slow and quiet tread of the oxen, which is rendered in an astonishing man-


Dstq ‘ojuns odumpg HLVGd JO HdWOAIUL



OLNGOaaL YALVI AHL AO AALSVYW NMONYNO



Later Fresco-Painting 37


ner. Even the nude, when it occurs in martyrdoms, is presented with considerable knowledge of nature. But even in cases like these we can hardly speak of an actually realistic development. When it is recorded of a pupil of Giotto, a certain Stefano, that on account of his naturalistic style he was called the “ape of nature,’’ this must be taken with the same reservation as Boccaccio’s statement about Giotto’s naturalism. A more correct characterisation is that of the com- mentator Benvenuto da Imola, who, in 1376 (forty years after Giotto’s death), commenting on the verses in which Dante states that Giotto held the field in painting, notes: “Be it well observed that he still holds it; for since his day no greater has appeared.” As in the middle ages the Byzantine, so during the fourteenth century the Giottesque style prevailed. The development consisted rather in the broadening of the subject-matter of painting than in technical improvements on Giotto. The forms which he created were sufficient for the translation of the principal spiritual ideas of the day into pictorial presentation effected by his successors. The latter approached the most obscure allegories, the most fantastic ideas of the future life, and the most learned dogmas of the church, endeavouring to express, in the language of form established by Giotto, an infinity of world-mov- ing ideals. Few attempted the technical perfection of these forms. As during the nineteenth century in the time of Cornelius, painting was the product of an


38 The Middle Age


epoch predominantly literary, so in the trecento the great poets and thinkers, Dante and Petrarca, swaying all minds, compelled the artist also to approach his work as a poet rather than as a painter.

Chapter II.— The Aftergrowth of the Medieval Style in the Fifteenth Century

I.— The Struggle of the Old with the New Spirit

The school of Giotto was more than necessary, it was a vital question. Instead of leaning upon the teachers of the church and the poets, painting had to learn to stand upon its own feet; instead of illustrating scholarship it had first to become mistress in its own house. That was the revolution which the fifteenth century effected. The triumphs of chastity, poverty, and of the church militant, and allegories of good and bad government, as the painters of ideas had conceived them, were no longer treated. In place of dogmatic and didactic tendencies and of literary composition, we find simple pictures which bear in themselves the justification of their existence. Artists no longer poetised but observed; they no longer painted thoughts but objects. The significance of the fifteenth century, therefore, consists in its gradual conquest of the visible world, and hand in hand with this the gradual development of the technique of painting.

The great renaissance of culture at the beginning of the quattrocento directed painting along this path. The civilisation of the middle ages was altogether ecclesiastical. The church regulated the customs of the people, taught them practical things, and, as far as it thought proper, instructed them in spiritual. But gradually, as humanity grew more mature, it repudiated this tutelage as compulsion, and the unity of medizval consciousness was lost in the breach. The senses and the intellect asserted their rights against asceticism and blind faith, and Christian humility yielded to the sense of personal strength. Instead of satisfying himself with the promise of future life, man began to establish himself upon the earth, and to make the forces and secrets of the universe subservient to him. New continents were discovered; revolutionary inventions were made in all lines of industrial activity; and it is well-known how, under the influence of these new principles, the great problem of an entire recon- struction of human knowledge appeared in the back- ground. No less well-known are the mighty results of the collapse of medizval ideals on public and private morals. It seemed as if suddenly the earth had been withdrawn from under the feet of mankind. All traditions which had until then the binding power were shattered, and all the shallowness of the human heart was revealed. If men had formerly considered the earthly life as a mere preparation for future happiness, they now wished to make the most of life upon the earth; if they had formerly gone about


Struggle of Old with Hew Spirit 4I


in sackcloth and ashes, they now delighted in fes- tivals and tourneys, in balls and mummeries, in luxury of the table and of dress. Along with the revival of the power of the senses came the rebellion against the state and the family. Writers appeared who in modern skepticism held up to laughter and scorn the system of morals enunciated by the monks and theologians. On every hand new states were formed: here monarchical despotisms of which he became the ruler who could elevate and maintain himself by force and terror; there civic republics, the victims of the wildest party strife, but at the same time flourishing through the industry of a free bourgeoisie. __

The art of a nation always develops along lines ‘parallel with its ideas, culture, and customs. It is the mirror, the abbreviated chronicle of its time. In art, therefore, the trend towards the after-life gave way to love of the present; and the worldly joy of the epoch also found its expression in painting. Just as the fourteenth century, the age of mysticism, had revealed the depths of the soul-life, so now the fifteenth takes possession of the external world; as trade and navigation had discovered new worlds, so painting discovered life. She no longer seeks to arouse con- templative and pious sentiments, but rather to mirror the external world in all of its beauty.

For such a task the technical achievements of the trecento were insufficient. Upon the expansion of the content of painting which it had accomplished, the


42 Medfeval Style in Fifteenth Century


improvement of the means of representation had to follow. While the painting of the ¢recento, just because of its spiritual and didactic tendencies, had never achieved progress, the quattrocento, which was more modest in scope, was all the richer in purely artistic achievements. Not merely in their delight in the external world are its painters the real children of the time; but as technical pioneers they are the worthy associates of Columbus and Gutenberg. Only upon the foundations which the quattrocento had laid could modern painting arise.

The revolution, however, was neither abrupt nor sudden. Too many different tendencies crossed in this century for it to be called, en bloc, the century of realism. The materialistic current directed upon the conquest of the external world formed but a single factor in this great movement of culture. It must not be assumed that all religion was at once forgotten and all questions of feeling were at once silenced. On the contrary, the doctrines of the wretchedness of the earthly existence and salvation by faith alone still found enthusiastic apostles. At the beginning of the century stands the wonderful figure of St. Catherine of Siena; and later Fra Giovanni Dominici and St. Anthony of Padua, through their ser- mons and writings, awakened a new religious enthu- siasm especially among womer. The fifteenth century is an epoch in which the principles of two ages contend with each other—the religious ideas of the waning


Bvy3antinism and Mysticism 43


middle age and the worldly delight of the modern spirit. The same double tendency permeates painting. In contrast to the realists earnestly seeking after truth alone stand those who endeavour to unite the progress , of the modern with the spirit of the middle age. While | they do not scorn the technical achievements of con- temporaries, neither are they ready to relinquish the heritage of the past. For them the body is still the ‘mere tenement of the soul, the earthly chrysalis en- closing the divine butterfly. They do not, like the ‘realist, appeal to the eye, but to the heart and the spirit. A certain archaic attitude places their pictures even in external contrast with the others. For while the fifteenth century usually substituted scenes from nature for golden backgrounds, these masters, refining the usage of the middle age, were the first to recognise the full possibilities of the use of gold in painting. They were not satisfied to retain the golden back- grounds and use gold ornaments whenever possible; but went so far as to represent certain objects, like the keys of St. Peter and the jewels in the crown of the Virgin, in high gold relief, thus giving their pictures a solemn, richly archaic effect. As late as 1430 these progressive and conservative elements co-existed, equally justified by the tendencies of the age.

II.— Byzantinism and Mysticism —

The most conservative city, not only of Italy but of Europe, was Venice. She felt herself the daughter of


44 Medieval Style in Fifteenth Century


Byzantium; for her power was principally in the Orient and her customs were Oriental. In the secluded life of the women, in the practice of the slave trade, and the costumes of the people, this was a fragment of the Orient on Occidental soil. Although a republic in name, the government was Byzantine. The power was in the hands of a few old aristocratic families who in art, as in their other opinions, were conservative. The solemn dignity and severe majesty of the Byzan- tine style and its dependence on rigidly traditional forms were far more in accordance with their character than an art which sought after novelties. The old was good enough. Quwieta non movere was their motto.

But the splendour of colour and bright glitter of Byzantine painting were also pleasing to the Venetian taste.. The enchanting situation of Venice between sea and land and the bright glittering wares which came from the Orient—Persian carpets, shim- mering gems, and sparkling gold-ware—all of these had accustomed the eye of the Venetian to strong colour effects. Brightly-coloured marbles encrust the walls of St. Mark’s and all of its cupolas are adorned with glittering mosaics. This solemn effect of gold, the severe splendour of the mosaics remained, even in the fifteenth century, their highest ideal. The Venetians, therefore, demanded of the panel picture the same splendour of colour, golden gleaming light, and solemn figures, surrounded by a trelliswork of rich ornaments, and arising mysteriously from a


By3antinism and Adysticism 45


golden background. Such effects had long ago been achieved by Byzantine painting.

As late as the fifteenth century Jacopo del Fiore and Michele Giambone were true representatives of this style. In their pictures saints bristling with gold and with emaciated, clumsily drawn figures appear in the midst of barbaric architecture of dazzling splendour. Archimandrites and patriarchs with long white beards, solemn as judges, raise their arms to bless the con- gregations kneeling in the dust. As late as 1430, and in a city of Italy, the cold and sublime spirit of Byzan- tinism prevailed;. and with it that awfully empty and yet so powerful art, which, in its gloomy rigidity, re- flects as no other does the sense of powerof the medizval church. Pictures were still painted from which one would never dream that, two centuries before, St. Francis of Assisi had preached there.

Yet during the fifteenth century, and in Venice, mysticism also experienced a fragrant aftergrowth. A series of masters appeared to depict the mystic vision of the heaven on earth revealed by Duccio, Lorenzetti, and Wynrich, with even greater tenderness and charm than did older painters with their deficient technique. In a certain sense these masters followed the modern spirit. In contrast with the ¢trecento, the century of the mendicant friars, they delighted in the splendour of this world. Luxuries that were pleasing to the rich—the dainty products of the goldsmith’s art, pearls and treasures—were also used to adorn the


46 Mdedizseval Style in Fifteenth Century


heavenly personages. The “Adoration of the Kings,” especially, became a popular subject, because it offered an opportunity to depict, at the same time, a biblical subject and earthly pomp, pious humility and the splendour of life at court. In landscape, too, they make progress over their predecessors by the use of rose hedges, flower-deckéd meadows, and gaily-coloured birds singing in trellis work to attain the effect of paradise in their pictures. They even acquired the technical tricks of their contemporaries, modestly and not for dexterity’s sake, but that they might, by means of these more perfect instruments, express more clearly those ideals which had justified the art of the trecento, those qualities in it which were eternal. As dreamers, not as observers, and with sensibility, not with the cold spirit of research, they used the new technical acquirements to reveal that great treasure of the trecento—the tenderness, fervour, and love which the spirit of mysticism had revealed.

As late as 1450, sacred Cologne, the home of Suso, held fast to the style founded by Hermann Wynrich. It is true that an examination of the works of Stephan Lochner, who dominated the art of Cologne from 1442 to 1451, and especially of his celebrated masterpiece in the cathedral, will reveal a certain modest appearance of mundane elements. The spiritual endeavour to effect the absorption of all earthly into the divine element is no longer the only aim. “The bodies have lost their languor, the heads are rounder; the hands


By3zantinism and Mysticism 47


and arms are less slender than in the earlier works. The feet, which formerly hardly dared to touch the earth, are now firmly planted. In the heads of the women the artist endeavours less to attain a modest and maidenly than a charming and arch expression. While the costumes were formerly ideal, enclosing the body in heavy masses of drapery, they now tend to follow the fashion of to-day.’’ His language is that of a painter who with childish joy collects every- thing bright and sparkling to adorn his saints. Never- theless, there is no difference in principle between his works and those of Wynrich. The innocence, blessed happiness, and spiritual beauty of the old master are to be found in these figures also. Like Wynrich, Lochner is not most at home in representing martyrdoms and dramatic incidents, but in depicting piety, humility, loving-kindness, and enchanting idyls.

The beautiful Madonna of the Archiepiscopal Museum at Cologne is evidently earlier than the altar- piece of the cathedral. The figure of Mary has the fragile slenderness of the old epoch. Her thin arms, small hands, and narrow shoulders, the stoop of the figure, and the almost girlish tenderness of the child, which in its little frock feels half infant, half Saviour, are quite in accordance with the art of Hermann ‘Wynrich. But the head of the Madonna, with hair carefully parted and encircled with a string of pearls, and the large clasp which adorns her mantle, point to the difference in time between Wynrich and Lochner. In


VOL. I.—4


48 Medieval Style in Fitteenth Century


like manner his Madonna in an Arbour of Roses treats a theme popular since Wynrich’s day. Two angels draw back a curtain and the heaven in gleaming splendour is revealed. Enthroned like a king, the Christ-child sits in the lap of Mary, who, adorned with a royal crown, is seated upon a grassy ridge. Angels make music and worship her, offer fruits to the Christ- child, and break for him flowers from the rosehedge, in the branches of which little birds are singing. Al- though in this painting worldly joy is united with the spirit of abnegation, the dreamy longing and the heavenly peacefulness of the itrecento hover like an echo from the other world over Lochner’s work. __——-Fhe note which he had struck did not sink into silence after the master’s death, but echoed like a sacred peal of bells through the land. It was even brought by a pupil to Venice, and in the next paintings of the City of the Lagoons we find the solemn majesty of Byzantium combined with the tenderness and mysticism of Cologne. It is probable that the Vivarini would not have relinquished the Byzantine manner had not Antonio of Murano, in 1440, formed a partner- ship with Johannes de Alemannia, seemingly a Cologne artist, who in his wanderings had come to Venice. The joint activity of these artists resulted in a series of pictures which presented a remarkable com- bination of solemnity and youthful freshness. The golden splendour so dear to the Venetians was re- tained, and furthermore all the figures were adorned


BPv3zantinism and cadysticism 49


with gold and with precious stones, like princes in a fairy tale. Raised golden ornaments and ancient frames, with steep Gothic gables and with flowers and trelliswork, completed the impression of Oriental splendour which reverberated like a stirring hymn through these paintings. But there is also a novel element: a touch of new psychic life and a feeling for landscape. As in the German paintings, the throne of the Madonna is erected in a secluded, paradise- like garden, where brightly-coloured birds are nesting. Instead of the mummy-like figures of Byzantinism we find the youthful blessedness, the silent purity and gentle humility of a Stephen Lochner. After having at first confined themselves to traditional represent- ations of saints, the artists progressed to more narrative subjects. In Antonio’s Adoration of the Kings, halos and crowns, weapons and trimmings ~ of garments, arms and utensils, even the harness of the horses and the spurs of the riders—all appear in plastic relief. Yet the dainty, languishing figures of the youths are equally surprising by reason of their friendly and gracious charm. Here again a soft Cologne strain is curiously commingled with Byzan- tine splendour.

Or should we rather speak of Giibriak than Cologne influence? For there was a remarkable commingling of influences at Venice. While the painters of Murano were engaged upon their works, an Umbrian master had laboured in Venice who in the whole spirit of his art


5so}6-. Medieval Style in Fifteenth Century


bears a curious resemblance to Lochner. Although the efforts of Venetian painters had previously been confined to churches, the Venetian government, in 1419, determined to provide the palace of the Doge with suitable mural decoration. The subject chosen was an incident from the glorious past of Venice—the mediation of this small but powerful state between Frederick Barbarossa and Pope Alexander III. As Byzantine painting was not capable of accomplishing such a task, the choice for the artist fell upon Gentile da Fabriano, who, although modern in style, was not an iconoclast, but full of respect for ancient tradition.

The inhabitants of the mountain countries cling more tenaciously to their traditions than the inhabitants of large cities. As the mountain city of Siena had throughout the old century remained faithful to the principles of Duccio, so Umbria also, that quiet mount- ain district in whose valleys St. Francis had laboured, closed its doors to the modern spirit. The panels of Alegretto Nuzi and Ottaviano Nelli, the earliest Umbrian painters, echo the style of the trecento in tender, modest beauty; but it was reserved for Gentile to rescue Umbrian art from its provincial exclusiveness and transplant it to the soil of the cities: from the quiet chapels of distant villages to the festal halls of city palaces. The Adoration of the Kings, his most celebrated panel, painted in 1423 for Palla Strozzi, breathes the spirit of youth and the love of legend characteristic of the quattrocento. Gentileisindeed


Byzantinism and Adysticism 51


an innovator; for the epic breadth in which he ren- ders the entire subject is quite as characteristic of the new realism as the refined feeling for landscape with which he scatters bright flowers through the mead- ows. But with him realism has not destroyed poetry. An indescribable charm of youth and of grace suffuses all the precise details which he gives. Even the golden ornaments and the ancient looking frames with Gothic gables heighten the fairy-like effect. As Michelangelo observed: “Aveva la mano simile al nome’’; and this gentilezza, this timid and loving manner has not lost its charm with the centuries.

Even in a large city like Florence there was a quiet and lonely cloister from whose walls all waves of the modern. spirit recoiled—San Marco, the convent of the Dominicans, where the blessed Fra Giovanni da ~ Fiesole laboured. Although no profound artist but more like a grown child in sentiment, he was yet the most lovable apparition of all these survivors of the middle age. The circumstance that he was not a native of a city, but of the village of Vicchio, and that he had lived until his fiftieth year in the hill towns of Cortona and Fiesole, is important for the analysis of his style. A man who did not come to Florence until his fiftieth year could no longer change his personality, even had he so wished. Not the contemporary mas- ters, but the works of the past epoch, especially those of Orcagna, were his guiding star; in the middle age


se Medfxval Style in Fifteenth Century


lay the sources of his power. In Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella he absorbed to such an extent the feeling of the trecento, that he was henceforth proof against the realistic tendences of his day.

In a certain sense Fiesole too is an innovator. His eye lingers lovingly on the landscape; the pleasing forms of mountains sometimes serve him as a back- ground, and he never tires of painting the meadow in the garb of spring when a thousand flowers are bud- ding. He also acquired some familiarity with per- spective, and occasionally there appear in his paintings heads painted from living models.

But these things do not determine the character of his art, which in its gentle soulfulness is quite of the trecento, or reminds us even more, perhaps, of the most delightful of the Germans, Stephen Lochner. As in the case of Lochner, the scale of the good frate’s feeling is not extensive; for he was himself so good that he was unable to realise the bad. As Walter von der Vogelweide has a comical effect when he attempts to swear, so Fra Angelico in depicting evil. His devils are very harmless little chaps who are quite satisfied with innocent pinching and squeezing, and do even this good-naturedly, as if ashamed of their profession. His pictures of martyrdoms create the impression of boys disguised as martyrs and executioners; and his bearded men weeping like women are equally incred- ible. But when he does not leave his proper sphere, and the problem is to portray tender feelings, a great


Ico


FRA GIOVANNI DA FIESOLE, CALLED FRA ANGEL



a Wn 2 iq O o Zz > et a O Q a4 Wn Z < O S



TWO DOMID


San Marco, Florence



BHy3zantinism and Mysticism 53


and silent joy of the heart, a holy ecstasy or tender sadness, his pictures have the effect of the silent prayer of achild. And for this heavenly world, the only real world for him, he has also found the suitable, rosy, and joyful colours: a transparent blue, a jubilant red, yellow that gleams like honey, and gold which like a heavenly splendour encircles celestial beings.

San Marco owes it to him that it has become the most sacred cloister in the world. Even in the confusion of picture galleries, one forgets the world in the presence of Fiesole’s pictures: whether he depicts Mary receiving in modest confusion the message of the angel; or the rich kings from afar, who, in such unbounded humil- ity, worship the Christ-child; the kneeling Apostles thankfully and joyfully receiving the host from the Saviour; or the friends of our Lord as, thoughtful and melancholy, they assemble around the cross; fair- haired angels, who celebrate in joyous transports, with harps and song, the crowning of the Blessed Virgin; or the the elect, crowned with red and white roses, marching with stately tread to paradise. A pic- ture of the last-named subject, now in the Berlin Gallery, is perhaps the most beautiful of his works. Since his day thousands who were far greater techni- cians have painted the other world, but in no paradise would one so gladly live asin Fiesole’s— that beautiful, innocent world where it is always Sunday: where the child finds his toys again, the friend his friend, and the lover his mistress. These blessed


34 Medixval Style in Fifteenth Century


ones who gaze, astonished as children an Christmas- day, upon the glory of heaven, the mystic dances on the flower-strewn sod, the movements of the dainty, tender bodies, which revolve more melodiously, more ethereally, the nearer they approach their heavenly home—such paintings involve a world of poesy.

Even in Rome, where at the close of his life Angelico decorated the chapel of Nicholas V. with frescoes, one remains standing before his works in thoughtful re- flection, after having walked through Raphael’s Stanze. Here, indeed, influenced by his pupils, he used a some- what.more modern style, avoiding all archaisms and golden splendour; buildings drawn in proper per- spective fill the background. But even with these concessions to the modern spirit, his native lovableness has not suffered. His old sincerity, the solemn moder- ation and delicacy of taste still remain. And when in the Vatican, even compared with Raphael, the art of Fiesole enchains us, it only proves something which later ages often forgot: that soul alone can speak to soul; the soul of painting, and not its form, is immortal.


III.— The End of the Monumental Style

Outside of the quiet cloisters of San Marco, there was little room for mysticism in a city like Florence. The circumstance that Fiesole, himself a Dominican friar, painted not scholastic but’ rather mystical subjects, shows a certain progressive tendency which is characteristic. As in the four-


End of the Monumental Style 55


teenth century Florence was the soil from which the virile and objective art of Giotto grew, so in the fifteenth it produced a painter who bears the same relation to Fiesole that the epic and serious Giotto bore to the gentle and dreamy Siennese. Giotto born again and beginning at the point where death had cut off his development—such is Masaccio. He it was, and Masolino, who conducted the school of Giotto into the fifteenth century.

From an external point of view (he was a pupil of Starnina) Masolino is connected with the school of Giotto. His frescoes in San Clemente at Rome are distinguished from the works of the Giotteschi by a more lively feeling for reality, a softer expression in the heads, and less stiffness in motion. There is something innocent and pure in the expression of the figures, and the whole character of presentation is strikingly simple and natural. A member of the painters’ guild of Florence in 1423, he received in the same year the commission to decorate the chapel of the Brancacci in Santa Maria del Carmine, dedicated in the preceding year, with frescoes of the Life of St. Peter. On the wall to the right he painted a large picture representing the Healing of the Lame Man and the Raising of Tabitha, on the_ pilaster to the right the Fall of Man, and on the window wall Peter Preaching, From these works also an artist speaks to us who originated in the school of Giotto, but endeavours to enliven and change its style.



End of the Monumental Style eg


Visiting the Sick; and on the wall to the left the Tribute Money and the Raising of the King’s Son. By virtue of these works Masaccio is now generally eclebrated as the real founder of the new style. Let us consider with what justice.

It is true that his pictures contain a wealth of new elements. Contrasted with the frightened couple fleeing from paradise, followed by the angel with drawn sword, the works of Masolino seem mere awkward designs. In the Tribute Money the image of Peter, throwing back his mantle and bending over to seize the fish with such eagerness that the blood rushes to his face, was long ago praised by Vasari because of its striking realism. In the picture of the Raising of the King’s Son the figure of the kneeling youth early became an object of admiration and of copying, because of the sure mastery of the nude displayed. While Masolino’s buildings seem laboriously constructed, Masaccio has, apparently without effort, achieved the harmonious relations which appear in space. Whereas the former, as a disciple of Cennini, still retains the rigid, cake-like forms of mountains, the latter portrays, for the first time in art, the quiet lines of the valley of the Arno. The difference in colour also deserves attention. Masolino still pre- serves the pleasing rosy tone which Giotto loved; but Masaccio has adopted a more powerful colour scheme, which no longer endeavours to attain the effect of faded gobelins but aims at natural truth. It is also customary


58 Medieval Style in Fitteenth Century


to emphasise, as a characteristic of his realism, an external feature, the treatment of the halo. While in the older style, even in the case of Masolino, the halo appears as an immovable circle about the head of the figures, Masaccio treats it as an actual disc suspended horizontally above the head, and participating in all the movements of the body.

The question at issue, however, is whether it was in these innovations that Masaccio’s greatness consisted ; whether his works should be considered as paradigms of Renaissance painting. Episodic details, con- temporary fashions, and portrait heads, which appear sO numerous even with Masolino, are justly considered innovations of the quattrocento; but Masaccio has none of these. He makes a very limited use of por- traits, merely venturing to place his own among the Apostles. Far from giving a literal reproduction of his model, he ennobles and idealises, he raises individual to majestic qualities. Contemporary costumes, which appear but seldom in his paintings, are restricted to the spectators; while the saints, as in the earlier period, wear the antique toga, the drapery of which he models with simple grandeur. Genre episodes and conspic- uous tours de force in perspective do not appear; not that he does not understand how to solve difficult problems, but rather shuns them in order not to dis- turb the great, quiet harmony of his work. Even in landscape backgrounds he avoids all naturalistic detail, confining himself to simple and majestic lines. .


End of the Monumental Style 59


Masaccio’s greatness lies not in his realism, but rather in the quiet repose, the grandiose simplicity, and the solemn style of his work. Although combined with more technical ability, his is still the heroic style created by Giotto a hundred years before. It is no accident that the masters of the cinquecento chose Masaccio as their leader. When the reaction against the naturalism and detailed realism of the quattrocento began, the young painters thronged to the Brancacci Chapel as to a university. Here Michelangelo received from Torregiani the well known blow that flattened his nose, and Raphael made those copies which he after- wards used in his Roman frescoes. It was not the realist in Masaccio that they admired, but the qualities of Giotto which he had preserved for modern art—the sustained grandeur and the impressive dignity of his style.

Parallel with Masaccio in this regard are the works of a northern master, who, like a solemn patriarch of a bygone age, lives on into a new epoch—Hubert van ‘Eyck. Of equal importance with the Brancacci fres- coes for Italian art were the monumental figures of the Ghent altar-piece for northern art.

Like Masaccio, Hubert van Eyck belongs as a tech- nician to the new epoch. He in particular made prac- ticable the use of a vehicle for the expression of that natural truth which the new epoch demanded: colour. The light, pale, bodiless tints of the earlier artists sufficed as long as the problem of painting was


60 ©6WMedieval Style in Fifteenth Century


confined to the expression of purely visionary effects; they were insufficient as soon as real illusion and


striking natural truth were required. The most varied experiments in colour were therefore attempted throughout the century. On the one hand, the ancient tempera technique was raised to new perfection; not in measured harmonies, but by placing the colours side by side, full, powerful, and bright, thus achieving by contrast a heightened effect. On the other hand, the invention of oil painting supplied a vehicle even more pliant for the new requirements; to have first used this technique in panel painting was the achievement of the great master of Maaseyck.

It is not known whence he came, nor can his devel- opment be traced in any youthful works. When he began the work with which his name is for all time con- nected, the altar-piece of Ghent, he was nearly seventy years of age,! and he left it for his brother to complete. It is even questionable how far the altar-piece as it is seen to-day corresponds with the plan of the original designer. Only one thing seems certain—that the panels of God the Father, Mary, John the Baptist, and the Angels making Music are by the hand of Hubert.

Most astonishing is the artistic power which the work reveals. The blue, green, and red mantles enve- loping the figures as in flames; the shimmering


' This computation would place Hubert’s birth about 1356 (for he died in 1426), antedating by ten years the earliest estimates of his _birth year hitherto reached (including Professor Muther’s),—Ep


End of the Monumental Style 61


tiara studded with diamonds, pearls, and amethysts; the sceptre adorned with precious stones, and the heavy brocaded garments of the angels; the glittering agraffes, the sheen of the oak-wood and the gleam of the organ pipes—such effects of colour an earlier painter would have attempted in vain to produce.

In like manner does his draughtsmanship far excel that of an earlier period. The figures are seated as if they were actual bodies, not ethereal spirits, but corporeal beings of flesh and blood. He has even deprived the angels of their shadowy qualities and placed them in the choir of St. John’s church, where the tones of the organ peal forth and the music of viols and harps sounds.

Yet the parallel with Masaccio is a correct one; for the naturalism and the splendour of colour of the new epoch are interwoven with the sublimity of the medi- zeval style. However material the figures may be, they hover beyond all earthly reach; however well painted and designed, the impression they give is less one of the quattrocento than of those solemn saints who, encircled by the splendour of mosaics, sit enthroned in the apse of early Christian churches. As in Italy, so in the Netherlands there flourished during the mid- dle age a great monumental style, of which Hubert’s works are but a reflection. Mighty sublimity, simple grandeur, and consecrated dignity—such are the epithets which best characterise his panels. Their intimate relation to the works of Masaccio is also


62 Medisval Style in Fifteenth Century


shown by their effect upon succeeding generations. The painters of the quatirocento had forgotten Hubert van Eyck; but when the passion for naturalism had been satiated, and the yearning for a monumental style returned, a great German stood reflecting before the altar-piece of Ghent. In the presence of Hubert’s God the Father, Diirer first conceived his Four Apostles.

Book II.— The Renaissance

Chapter I.— Nature and Antique

I. The First Realists

Up to this time, the art of the fifteenth century had presented nothing new. Although it had indeed acquired a better draughtsmanship and created new means of expression in colour, its style thus far had remained that of the past. Not until art had definitely broken with tradition, until there had been an after development of the medizval style from Byzantinism through Mysticism down to the monumental art of Giotto, did painting turn into new paths. Artists then appeared who, unconnected with the past, began quite anew, as if the use of brush and colour had just been invented for them. Change followed change, and a revolution occurred, more rap- idly perhaps than any in our own nervous century. The subject-matter of painting indeed remained ecclesiastical; for the Church was still the principal patron of art. But as the artists were not permitted to paint earthly subjects without a biblical mask, their worldly tendencies found satisfaction in another way: by making all religious painting worldly. Giotto had avoided portraiture, and Masaccio 65


LJ P to this time, the art of the fifteenth century


66 Mature and Antique


confined himself to portraying himself and Masolino among the spectators in the Tribute Money. Now, at one sweep, all paintings are filled with portraits. Not satisfied with inserting their own into biblical pic- tures, artists even added, in life size, the portraits of the donors, which had formerly appeared either not at all or else in very diminutive size. Man no longer felt himself a dwarf in the presence of the saints, but as an equal among equals. They then went further, introducing their friends and protectors as patriarchs, apostles, and martyrs among biblical scenes. The final step was to deprive the saints of their supernatural character. All beings who had formerly lived in the domain of idealism were changed into men of flesh and blood, to be distinguished from others only by the halo above their heads.

This resemblance is by no means confined to the heads, but extends also to the costumes. The quattro- cento was perhaps the most splendour-loving epoch in the history of civilisation; a century inexhaustible in the invention of new fashions, which allowed no edicts against luxury to rob it of its pleasure in the toilet. All these bizarre fashions were adopted by art. While Masaccio, following the principles of Giotto, had enveloped most of his figures in flowing draperies resembling those of the statues of the antique orators, in contrast to this ideal style the art of the following epoch creates the impression of a great book of fashion plates. Delighting in the smallest detail of costume


The First Realists 67


_ artists furnished even the saints with the most piquant toilettes: coquettish little cloaks trimmed with feathers, and impossible head-dresses. An exquisite dandyism seemed to have affected the inhabitants of heaven as well as of this world. If the picture represents a Madonna, an earthly family-scene is actually portrayed. Mary has laid off the hieratic costume; her hair is coquettishly dressed and she wears a tight bodice with rich border and adorned with delicate needlework. The Christ-child holds a starling or a flower, listens to the word of his mother or lies on her breast; and it became a favourite practice to give him the infant St. John as a playfellow. Purely genre scenes took the place of devotional pictures. The Adoration of the Kings was converted into a complete picture of contemporary manners; the kings of Bethlehem are princes of the quattrocento, attended by a rich train of men at arms and Oriental slaves, just as they would appear in making a visit to a foreign court.

As the episodes were transferred to the immediate present, since only the present seemed true and beauti- ful, so the most different elements were introduced, things having no connection with the principal event and owing their existence solely to the pleasure which the artist took in the beauty of the world: here an amusing episode, there some graceful animal like _a bird, a hare, a monkey or a dog; there again, flowers and fruit. Pleasure, splendour, riches, everything but piety is characteristic of these pictures. Every-


68 Wature and Antique


thing beautiful that life offered is woven into bright and gleaming nosegays.

Even the technical execution betrays to what extent earthly joy predominated over religious feeling. The care with which the principal figures are executed is extended to the smallest detail. While in the pictures of the trecento, even with Fiesole and Masaccio, the accessories played no part, but were indicated only when they served to make the principal event clearer, now vessels, carpets, arms, and flowers are executed with such care as if the subject were an independent still-life. The result is that the art of the quattrocento, although the subjects are biblical, nevertheless involves the entire profane painting of later centuries; and that in these works, even though they represent saints, the whole epoch with its people, costumes, arms and utensils, dwelling rooms and buildings, lives on as in a great picture-book of the history of civilisation.

The backgrounds of these paintings also show a radical innovation. In contrast to Giotto, who had indicated the scene of action by conventional forms of — buildings and cliffs, and to Lochner, who had con- structed ideal gardens of hedges and roses, the artists of the quattrocenio conceived the actual earth as the natural home for their very human saints. The rooms in which they lived are the same which may still be found in ancient cities; rooms with heavy wooden ceilings, panelled walls, majolica tiles, and carved furniture. The landscapes through which they stride


4


The First Realists 69


are the same upon which the sun still shines. Whereas Masaccio, Lochner, and Fiesole had confined themselves to powerful lines and modest suggestions, those who followed never tired of a circumstantial description of all details. The background is filled with buildings, views of cities, towers and palaces, sometimes crowning the ridge of a mountain, sometimes extending into fertile plains. Even in interior scenes there is usually a view through a window upon woods, meadows, rivers, and hills. Much more is given than the eye can discern in nature. Hazy and melting effects do not exist for the sharp eye of these painters. Not only are the grass and flowers of the foreground painted stem for stem and leaf for leaf; but even in the far distance objects retain equally sharp outlines and colours.

Although this may often seem unnatural to the modern eye, we can easily understand the feelings that swayed the artists. The logical reaction against an art to which natural scenery had for so long been strange, and which permitted only golden backgrounds, was just such a richly detailed landscape, which in its reverential pantheism thought the smallest leaf with its spark- ling dewdrop equally important with the proud palm, and the pebble with the mighty cliff; which would not permit cloudy atmosphere to darken the brightness of things; and which in a single work would fain have sung the whole richness of form and colour in the universe. Even the church reconciled itself with the new views. When Raymond of Sabunde, in his


70 Wature and Antique


Theologia Naturalis, taught that nature was a book written by the finger of God, he gave its blessing to the worldly delight of the age and to the efforts of the artist to depict it.

As the altar-piece of Ghent is the last echo of the medizval conception of art, so it is also the first classical expression of the new worldly style. Although Jan van Eyck was but twenty years younger than Hubert, a whole world seems to separate him from his brother. The solemn, ideal style of Hubert is of the middle age; but the art of Jan is firmly planted in the soil of modern times. That he completed the altar-piece of Ghent as Hubert had originally planned it, seems very doubt- ful. Even from the panels in which it was necessary for him to follow his brother’s designs, another spirit speaks. As he could never have created the three mighty central figures of the altar, he was also unable to attain his brother’s excellence in the panel of the Singing Angels which he painted as a pendant to Hubert’s Angels Making Music. With Hubert not only the faces but the hands also are inspired with nervous life; through these nimble fingers the spirit of music streams. But in Jan’s Singing Angels, how- ever highly Karel van Mander praises them, the faces are spiritless, the hands are clumsy and badly drawn. He possessed neither the spiritual greatness and the serious thoughtfulness of his brother nor his plastic sense for the organic construction of the body. Even in the panels, which in accordance with the plan of the


VAN EYCK


GIOVANNI ARNOLFINI AND HIS WIFE National Gallery, London





The First Realists 71


altar had to be rendered in large form, he speaks to us as a miniature painter whose eye rests only upon the coloured surface of things.

His figures of the Two Donors are the first real portraits in modern art. They are genuine types of the sterling burgher class which had made Flanders the wealthiest country of the earth: the husband a wealthy and rather dull bon vivant, who after the day’s successful labour has settled himself to repose; his wife a true mistress of the house, with the highly respectable features of a lady used to command. In the panel of the Annunciation he places the chief emphasis upon the still-life—a room containing a washbasin and all kinds of household furniture, and with a view through a window upon the street. In the figures of Adam and Eve, he does not strive, like Masaccio, after great lines and spiritual content, but confines himself to reflecting with photographic accu- racy the sunken breast and the prominent abdomen of Eve, the hair of Adam’s legs, the pale colour of the skin of the body, and the darker hue of the hands. |

He was not in his real element until he painted the lower panels with the many small figures: the Adoration of the Lamb, the Just Judges and the Soldiers of Christ the Holy Anchorites and Hermits. Thus, indeed, are the panels inscribed; but from the figures themselves it would be difficult to surmise a biblical significance. They are men of flesh and blood, in no sense resembling the ideally


72 ature and Antique


draped and spiritual beings of the older epoch. On one side he has painted the Burgundian princes riding with their train to the hunt; on the other, monks and beggars, the rabble of the road, as with swollen feet, sunburned faces, and care-worn brows, they stride over the stony soil.

Even more fascinating than the people is the land- scape. The sky is no longer golden but blue, and the grass-covered sod stretches far into the distance. Daisies, anemones, violets, dandelions, strawberries, and pansies are in bloom; in the bushes the roses glow; cypresses, orange and pine trees tower aloft, and in dark arbours purple grapes shimmer.

_This southern character of nature at the same time calls to mind why Jan was destined to be the father of landscape painting. He may have derived the first impulse from the miniature-paintings; for the novelties which he introduced into the altar-pieces had long been customary in illuminated manuscripts, which as an aristocratic luxury might possess greater wealth of detail and maintain a more worldly character than religious panels. In his position as valet de chambre, he probably saw many a Book of Hours which was inaccessible to ordinary mortals; and what he learned as a court painter was used for the benefit of the good donor of the altar, Jodocus Vydt. But the determining active factor was another event in his life. Wide travel necessarily directs the attention to the strange things in the new surroundings. The


The First Realists 73


air appears bluer, the distant view awakens a more sentimental mood, and the earth seems more beautiful. Things passed listlessly by at home suddenly acquire anew meaning. As in the nineteenth century artists made pilgrimages to Italy, Norway, and the Orient before depicting their native home, so for Jan van Eyck a journey which in 1428 he made to Portugal _in the service of the Duke of Burgundy proved a reve- lation. In southern climes nature was more fully revealed to him, and upon his return home he enthu- siastically embodied in his paintings the memories of what he had seen in foreign lands.

In his independent works he followed even further his personal inclinations. While Hubert, as the offshoot of the old monumental painting, depicted only the sublime and always maintained a solemn tone, Jan, as a descendant of the miniaturists, is the painter of detail par excellence; the unsurpassed an- cestor of all Fortunys and Meissoniers, who, in his small cabinet pictures has created works as delightful in workmanship as they are delicate in colour. His little Madonnas, indeed, make no attempt to awaken pious sentiment. If the older masters attempted to ascend to heaven, Jan brought heaven down to earth; if they had visions of the other world, Jan painted simple episodes of life.

While the painters of Cologne drew all figures tall and slender, like the soaring pillars of Gothic archi- tecture, Jan van Eyck painted them heavy-set; and


74 ature and Antique


in order to create a suitable background, instead of the soaring Gothic, he used the massive Romanesque style. In their works a heavenly longing gleams in Mary’s eyes, but Jan paints her as a healthy Flemish mother. With them the figures lived in Paradise, with him in the midst of a joyous reality. Sometimes he reveals Mary in the interior of a church, in which an architectural perspective, with the interesting effects of light streaming through stained glass windows, opens to view; sometimes the background is a simple living room, affording the opportunity of reproducing a veritable still-life of pewter dishes, lamps, tankards, gleaming water-bottles and carpets; or again she stands in the open air and the eye beholds churches, palaces, gardens, streams, market-places and streets in the dis- tance. It is astonishing how upon a bit of canvas of the size of a hand he can produce the effect of furthest distance; with what fidelity he renders the sheen of metal, every blade of grass in a landscape and the very dewdrop upon it; and lets the light play and shimmer on shining armour, a crystal globe or a piece of goldsmith’s work.

It might even be said that little pictures of this kind form the culmination of the entire technical skill of the northern art during the middle ages. For the fascinating quality of Gothic buildings, tabernacles, pulpits, and baptismal fonts of the fourteenth century is neither the harmony of proportion, purity of line, nor delicacy of decoration; but rather the incredible


The First Realists 75


skill with which the fretwork, rosettes, and other decorative features are carved and fitted together just as if the material were not hard stone, but soft enough to be kneaded in the hand. Now in the fifteenth century these manual gymnastics re- dounded to the benefit of painting. After the eye had once accustomed itself to the actual forms of nature, the hand was soon able to master them with the juggling surety of the Gothic architects in stone.

But a glance at Italy will show that it would not be correct to regard miniature painting as a specifically northern peculiarity. It was a natural reaction from the monumental style of the earlier epoch, and therefore found as enthusiastic followers in Italy as in the Nether- lands. The qualities which in the north are attrib- uted to Jan van Eyck are identified in the south with Pisanello. It is not impossible that there was a mutual influence, since, according to the account of Facius, painters from the Netherlands were active in Verona. At all events, Pisanello is as nearly related to the Netherlander as he is different from his country- man Masaccio. Where the latter rendered only ideal types, Pisanello paints his contemporaries ; and whereas Masaccio retained the ideal costume of Giotto, Pisan- ello never tires of depicting small cloaks, hosiery, enor- mous hats, and dainty pointed shoes. The delight of the quattrocento in the wardrobe now finds place in sacred pictures. Smiling landscapes stretch before us, and,


76 ature and Antique


as in the case of Jan van Eyck, animals move and live among the biblical figures.

The frescoes which he painted in Verona differ as widely from those of the Brancacci Chapel as the lower panels of the altar-piece of Ghent from the monumental figures of the upper row. They are the works of an interesting charmer, who expresses neither spiritual nor formal thoughts, but who observes men and things with a refined and refreshing glance. In- stead of biblical stories he portrays knightly processions and hunting expeditions. Partridges, dragons, dogs, and horses are mingled in the respectable assembly of saints, who in their dandified, tight-fitting clothes seem personages from Boccaccio rather than the Bible. In their visit to the Christ-child, his three kings have brought along all their pages, equerries, hunting dogs, and falcons, and appear in a landscape of the Lake of Garda rich in villas, vineyards, herds of sheep, and birds flying about. His St. George, in a cuirass and with an enormous felt hat, resembles a condottiere of the fifteenth century; while St. Hubert, the mighty hunter, only affords him an opportunity to populate a thick wood with dogs, hares, rabbits, and bears. Even his drawings betray that he was at heart more an animal than a biblical painter.

Finally he resembles Jan van Eyck in this respect, that he was the first to paint purely profane pictures and to elevate portraiture to a separate branch, equally justified with religious painting.


The First Realists 77


Before the fifteenth century portraiture did not exist. Sovereigns alone had the right to be immortal- ised ia statues and mosaics, and portraits were only permitted as plastic decoration of tombs. The spirit of the new epoch first awoke in the fourteenth century. Men wished to leave behind them traces of their earthly career, to hand down their names and effigies to distant generations, and thus achieve immortality on the earth. Ona wall in the Bargello, Giotto de- picted the poet of the Divine Comedy among the blessed in Paradise, and it is related of Simone Martino that he went to Avignon of his own accord in order to portray Petrarca. But Giotto’s picture is rather silhouette than portrait, and an idea of the portrait- ure of Simone Martino is furnished by his fresco of Guidoriccio Fogliani de’ Ricci, which certainly does not greatly resemble the original. Art was yet too -much swayed by the typical to succeed with the individual characterisation.

In the fifteenth century, not only had the love of fame grown to such an extent that every rich citizen henceforth felt the need of handing down his lineaments to posterity, but art had now acquired the ability to portray them with strict fidelity to nature. In Italy it became the vogue to adorn mantels and friezes with colored portrait busts; or at least to preserve likenesses on a bronze medal.

To Pisanello belongs the fame of having, upon the basis of memorial coins, revived the medallist’s art,


78 Wature and Antique


and of having applied the style of the medal to paint- ing. As the medal is based upon a negation of depth, his painted portraits are confined to the profile view, the heads being drawn with plastic severity. In place of the metal background of the medal, he used a carpet-like ornament of a monochrome mass, upon which the profile is firmly planted.

In the Netherlands there was no such connection with the medallist’s art, and the portrait of Jan van Eyck consequently differed from Pisanello’s in that they never presented the heads in profile, but in three- quarters view. While the Italian draws the charac- teristic line, the Fleming paints the coloured surface. Common to both, however, is the endeavour to present human physiognomy with the uncompromising reality and the unbounded exactitude of the photographic apparatus. As landscape painters, who had formerly been permitted to render golden backgrounds only, now painted every pebble, leaf, dewdrop, and blade of grass, so portrait painters, who had previously been confined to general types, now delighted, with veritable passion, in crisp details, such as wrinkles, furrows, warts, and stubs of beards. Even in the choice of models they proceeded in accordance with this point of view. For while they seeem to have avoided youth- ful portraits, both male and female, the shrivelled heads of old men and women are subjects after the heart of these realistic artists. Think of the rugged old man in the Berlin Gallery, holding with comic


The First Realists 79


earnestness a pink in his hand‘; or the strange head of Arnolfini, particularly in his Betrothal in London which, with its rich accessories so illustrative of the customs of the day, already contains the germ of later genre painting.

The development progressed along the same lines. Now that painting had discovered the poetry of the earthly, it could not remain where Jan van Eyck and Pisanello had left it. Their dainty, trifling miniature art had to be changed into serious painting, no longer confined to coloured surfaces, but which should discover the reality of things, and thus justify scientifically the existence of realism. In these further investigations the Netherlanders took no part.

After the founders of the school had given a an important impulse by the perfection of oil painting, their followers confined themselves to working on in the style of the van Eycks.

The works of Petrus Christus offer nothing not already contained in those of Jan. He appropriated the models of his master and the furniture of his studio, adopting whole figures of Jan’s pictures in his own. As in the Frankfort Madonna he used Jan’s Turkish carpet and the figures of Adam and Eve of the Ghent altar, so in the Madonna at Burleigh House he copied the Carthusian monk of the Rothschild Madonna. An interesting subject, because no similar work of Jan’s


1 The pink, which had at that time just been introduced into Europe, created a similar sensation to that caused by the orchids in our own day.


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survives, is his St. Eligius at Cologne; it shows what worldly and purely pictorial points of view then deter- mined the choice of subjects. The artist desired’ to paint gleaming objects like golden tankards, beakers, necklaces, aigrettes, and wings; and as this could not yet be done in the form of pure still-life, he remembered good old Eligius, and placed him, purely as a matter of form, in the foreground.

While he lived at The Hague Jan van Eyck may have also had a determinative influence upon con- temporary Dutch painting. At any rate Albert Ouwater’s masterpiece, the Resurrection of Lazarus, is quite in the manner of his school. Like Jan he has placed the scene in a Romanesque cathedral, and the daintiness and repose of the figures, who are in no wise disturbed by the miracle, are equally reminiscent.

Although Dirk Bouts is reputed to have improved upon Jan in landscape, his panels’ of the altar at Louvain indicate no progress from elaboration to greater intimacy. On the contrary, Bouts even adds details and piles the most arbitrary objects upon each other. .It is curious to note how with him the spirit of realism led to the fantastic landscape. The artist felt that biblical scenes should not occur in the Nether- lands; and as he distinguished the figures as Orientals by turbans or other Eastern head-dresses and curious arms, so also he sought to give the landscape an exotic character. For Jan van Eyck, who had travelled widely, this was easy enough—he simply gave Portugal as the Orient; but Bouts, who had never left home, had to invent. As Holland was such a flat and level country, he thought the Orient must be mountainous; and he believed that by painting the opposite of what his home offered he could most correctly achieve the real character of biblical scenes. Another innovation by him is the endeavour to interpret certain effects of light. In contrast to Jan van Eyck, who painted everything in broad daylight, Bouts has in his St. Christopher depicted the background of the reddish light of the rising sun, while a ravine in the foreground is still enveloped in the darkness of night. In his Christ Taken Prisoner he has even attempted a problem not again ventured upon until it was at- tempted two centuries later by Elsheimer; while the background shows the pale light of the moon in a nightly sky, the figures are enveloped by the glare of torches.

But even such achievements only indicate progress along the old path, and no diverging road. The ap- pearance of Jan van Eyck was so sudden, and so far did he reach into the future, that those who came after had quite enough to do to hold the field which he had conquered. It is true that in the Netherlands great personalities still appear who even enter into the drama of European art; but as they march alone, there is no co-ordination of labour or logical develop- ment of art. A real evolution of art during the fifteenth century exists only in Italy.


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II.— Storm and Stress in Florence

In Florence, especially, all the conditions for the logical development were present. Here, where Cosmo de’ Medici was at the head of the state, and where the Strozzi, Bardi, Rucellai, Tornabuoni, Pitti, and Pazzi sought, by the patronage of art, to emblazon recent coats of arms, there were such commissions for painting as were given nowhere else in the world. But Florence had also become the scientific centre of Italy, and the great scholars, anatomists, and mathematicians whom the Medici had summoned thither worked hand in hand with the artists. A scientific spirit pervaded art, the only spirit capable of solving all the purely technical problems which the century proposed. Sim- ply because in Florence artists laboured who, more as scholars than as artists, dedicated themselves with fanatic eagerness to the solution of the different prob- lems, and made it a life work to penetrate into the formative workshop of nature, could the painting of the quattrocento make such rapid progress. Only upon the foundation which these Florentine investigators had laid could the structure of modern painting arise.

The first important problem was perspective—the problem with which the early period had most clumsily striven. Giotto always failed in attempting to divide his figures among several planes and to place them in correct relation to the buildings.” With however much genius Masaccio solved the problem, he did so by arbitrarily following his own feelings. Such experi-


Storm and Stress in Florence 83


ments had to be replaced by clear, scientific knowledge. As the correct proportions of the figures in space as well as the further development of landscape painting was only possible after the laws of perspective had been established, the foremost minds of the day proceeded to devote themselves to this subject.

Brunellesco, the great architect, laid the foundation. Assisted by the mathematician Paolo Toscanelli, he established as the first principle that objects appear smaller in accordance with their distance from the eye, and offered the proof in a drawing of the piazza in front of the Baptistery. The way being thus paved, his conclusions were followed further. In his first book on painting, which was devoted mainly to the laws of perspective, Leon Battista Alberti put in writing all that had heretofore been orally transmitted, and in- vented the scheme of quadrates which enabled the artist to solve the most complicated problems with mathematical exactness. The origin of a special profession, that of the prospettivista; the facts that, in the coloured incrustation of furniture, representations were for a long time popular which were nothing more than perspective paradigms, and that Ghiberti even treated reliefs as picturés with a background in per- spective—these are further examples of the importance which the quattrocento ascribed to the new science.

Paolo Uccello used these achievements as a starting point in painting. According to Vasari, he received the appellation Uccello because, notwithstanding his


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poverty, he possessed an entire menagerie, including a collection of rare birds. In his study of animals, so characteristic of the quattrocento, he is therefore related with Pisanello. His principal activity, however, con- sisted in the establishment, in connection with his friend the mathematician Manetti, of a system of the rules of perspective. It is touching to see a workman of this calibre becoming a fanatic over his problems, for- getting the whole world and brooding through whole nights over his investigations. What cares he for life or for painting! If it is in any wise possible he paints his pictures in monochrome, and if he must carry them out in colour, it is immaterial to him whether his horses are red or green. The life work which fate has decreed for him is only the solution of problems of perspective.

Thus in his fresco of The Flood in the cloister of Santa Maria Novella, he does not paint the terrors of an inundation of the world, as any pupil of Giotto could have done; but he attempts the solution of problems which, chosen only for their difficulties, make the entire painting seem an illustration for a text-book of per- spective. In the pendant representing the Sacrifice of Noah he causes a being supposed to represent. God the Father to fall headlong from the clouds—for the sole purpose of determining how a person who had suddenly fallen from a scaffold would appear if he remained suspended in space. His battle-pieces, too, seem strange to the modern eye. The weirdly- coloured, thick-necked horses, rearing or lying stiff


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upon the ground, resemble the horses of a merry-go- round more than real animals.

But the word battle-piece calls to mind what a great revolution we now witness. The very fact that such profane objects could be painted reveals the seven- league strides of the time. When we reflect that Uccello had no predecessor in this field, and that what he attempted was not again taken up until Raphael and Titian did it in the sixteenth century and Salvator Rosa and Cerquozzi in the seventeenth, we cannot but recognise the historical importance of this keen and fanatic mind. No great conquest is accomplished at one blow, and it is more meritorious to attempt new problems than to imitate perfectly the traditional. It is due to such minds as Uccello’s that Florentine painting did not remain stationary like the Nether- landish, but continued to ascend to new heights. With what astonishing fineness are the movements of these riders observed! How clearly the different planes are separated, and with what botanical exactness the leaves and the oranges are drawn! With what pains he endeavours, with a Japanese sharpness of eye, to render all the branches and leaves in correct perspective! In reading his biography and studying his works one cannot but feel reverence for this zealot who prosecuted his study of perspective in leaves and branches with as much reverence as though it had been a holy service


to God. His equestrian portrait of the condottiere John


86 Wature and Antique


Hawkwood, in the cathedral of Florence, is also of epoch-making importance. The spirit of the Renais- sance and the equestrian statue—these involve almost the same idea. Equestrian statues must again, as in classical antiquity, be erected in public places; but plastic art was not yet capable of solving these prob- lems and painted statues had to suffice. In Uccello’s fresco everything has a characteristic and monumental air. Donatello learned from him, when seventeen years later he created the statue of Gattamelata, and even Titian’s Charles V. presupposes Uccello’s Hawkwood.

The second problem was to furnish the new age with a new soul and a new body. In the middle ages men regarded themselves as a flock following the Good Shepherd, and art consequently did not recognise the individual and the particular. In the structure and position of the figures, as in their expression, a general and uniform type of beauty prevailed, which in the previous pages we have had ample occasion to examine. The fifteenth century, on the other hand, marks the victory of individualism and the uncompromising prominence of the individual. An abundance of sharply outlined characters suddenly appears—robust, clear-cut personalities; lawless natures belonging just as much in the gallery of criminals as in that of great men. Character, individuality, power, and energy are the passwords of the age. This new humanity, all these rugged and manly figures which the age had


Storm and Stress in Florence 87


created, had also to appear in painting. In contrast to the former preference for beauty of an angelic and tender type, the problem now was to depict energetic and powerful beings; and to replace the shy and feminine, though bearded, men in the pictures of the older masters by angular, harsh, determined, and daring types. The figures which had formerly hovered like spirits above the earth had now to stand firmly upon their own feet and become a part of their earthly home.

But the sentimental as well as the external ideals of mankind had changed. Instead of humility and self- effacement shining from downcast eyes and transfigured features, rugged faces with furrowed brows appear. The whole menagerie of passions was let loose. As the tyrants of the quattrocento unreservedly followed the passion of the moment, whether it were sensuality or towering rage, art was now commanded to represent more powerful emotions than earlier painting had known; to depict flitting motion, changing gesture, and passion convulsively thrilling the human frame.

Such problems were not even approached by Jan van Eyck and Pisanello. Although they had indeed painted the new costumes of their day, yet in their dainty manner of representation they remained Gothic. Their works have nothing of the rough breadth of the new age and its free demeanour, nothing of the depths of soul which suddenly appeared with such elementary power. Donatello was the first to give sculpture its new ideal; and it is characteristic how one extreme


88 Wiature and Antique


followed the other. The standard of beauty was measured by the rudimentary and uncompromising representation of individual qualities. For thus may be best explained all the strange physiognomies which suddenly made their appearance in art: coarse men of the people with uncouth, overworked figures; peasants, with bones of bronze and pointed weather-beaten features; half-starved old beggars with flabby muscles and tottering bodies; neglected fellows with bald heads, stubbly beards, and long muscular arms. In place of the former dainty pose, every line is now a sinew. Their firm, energetic attitude reflects the entire spirit of the rugged age of the condottiert; especially when, under the power of passion, the whole body is shaken as by convulsions. In his endeavour to render drastic ex- pression Donatello occasionally descends to grimaces, and it is no accident that he so loves the figures of Magdalen and John the Baptist. For in these figures all is united that the time demanded: a body upon which hunger and self-denial have left their hideous mark; a withered skeleton, held together by the leathery skin alone, and convulsed by tearful woe and fiery, ecstatic pathos.

The Donatello of painting is Andrea del Castagno, a keen and fearless spirit, who hesitates at no brutality or exaggeration which lends character to his figures. Like Donatello he loves revolting physiognomies, wild men of the desert, and starving ascetics, whose mighty and powerful features, consumed by an awfully intensi-


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fied life, nevertheless create an indelible impression. Like Donatello, he combines with keenness of facial expression mighty statuesque power. His Cruci- fixion in Santa Maria Novella is a marvel of pathetic expression; particularly the figure of Mary, a harsh and embittered matron, whose entire body is bowed in suffering. In his Last Supper in Sant’ Apollonia every figure has a character of rigid severity —that con- centrated fulness of life expressed in Donatello’s statues of the Campanile. One lingers before his Pieta in Berlin because of its grandiose, heroic ugliness. His Magdalen and the two Jobns in Santa Croce find their equal only in the ascetic figures of the great con- temporary sculptor.

By dint of sheer realism he sometimes attains a mighty, kingly style. His equestrian portrait of Niccolo da Tolentino, the pendant of Uccello’s Hawk- wood in the cathedral, is of a defiant and monumental grandeur, and the portraits of Dante, Petrarca, and Boccaccio, as well as those of Acciajuolo, Uberti, and Pippo Spano, all of which he painted for Villa Pandol- fini, are most impressive in their mighty, heroic power. Pippo Spano especially, standing, his sword in hand, with legs spread apart, seems the spirit incarnate of the quattrocento—that elemental age, equally great in art and in passion. Terribile—that much misused word— is certainly appropriate for Castagno. He is the king of the lawless age which piled up the unhewn stones of the Pitti Palace.


go Wature and Antique


The third subject requiring study was the problem of colour. . Accustomed to fresco painting artists had de- voted little attention to the technique of panels, and were therefore far from having achieved the luminous colouring of the Flemish pictures that had found their way to Italy. To fill this deficiency was the lot of an artist who came from the city in which the greatest triumphs of colour in later Italian art were celebrated— from Venice. Domenico Veneziano, who had seen Pisanello’s frescoes arise in the Ducal Palace, had then followed him to Rome, and had finally settled in Florence, is reputed to have been the first man who experimented with colours, independent of the Nether- landers.!. Although his panels are painted in tempera they are characterised by a peculiar brilliancy and shimmer and a soft enamel-like effect. We are con- fronted by the interesting fact that a Venetian, who had evidently acquired the colour sense at home, attempted, as early as the first half of the fifteenth century, and in severe, plastic Florence, to solve the same problems which did not again occupy Venetian painters until Bee days of Bellini.

Even in sentiment the Venetian is recognisable.

1In common with other German writers, Professor Muther uses the terms Netherlands and Netherlanders for the Low Countries and their inhabitants during this epoch. Their art is more properly termed Netherlandish than Flemish, since it was common to both the Dutch and the Flemish provinces. Not until the sixteenth century did it


differentiate in consequence of their separation, and we may then more


properly speak of Flemish and Dutch art than one the earlier period. —Ep.


Storm and Stress in Florence gi


The harsh, realistic traits which obtrude in Domenico’s altar-pieces should not mislead us into considering him an unbridled naturalist in the sense Castagno was. The relation between these two artists was one of mutual giving and taking. The impressions which Castagno received from Domenico are expressed in his occasional experiments with colour in such paintings as the Crucifixion; it is even related that he killed Domenico on account of envy at his success as a colourist. Domenico, on the other hand, assumed the garb of Castagno when he painted Sts. Jobn and Francis in Santa Croce. As a matter of fact this rugged rusticity was little in accordance with his nature. He was the first after Pisanello to paint portraits—those profile heads in which the evolution of the portrait from the medal can be so clearly fol- lowed. His subjects are all young girls. In_ his portrait of the little Bardi maiden (Museo Poldi- Pezzoli, Milan), he has depicted with loving tenderness the charming lines of the arch profile and dainty neck, the eye with free, childish glance and the blond hair adorned with pearls. At a time when other portrait painters were only in their element when giving the facsimilies of old wrinkled faces and characteristic ugliness, he could thus render the budlike freshness of maidenhood with finely felt grace. The same young woman, only a few years later, may be seen in a profile portrait of the Berlin Gallery: in the one instance a shy fiancée fresh from school, in the other a more


s


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developed young wife. As several other portraits of young women ascribed in the different galleries to other artists are probably the work of Domenico, he may be characterised as feminine in the midst of virile Floren- tine art, and so the first artist who realised the grace of youth and the charm of tender womanhood. Thus did Venice, whose later art developed into a hymn to womanhood, produce even at the beginning of the fifteenth century the first portraitist of girls.

Such active minds wrestling with great problems were of course not in a position to supply the entire artistic needs of their day. The éclazreurs, therefore, were accompanied by the profiteurs, the investigators by those who popularised their ideas. The former did not dissipate their efforts or attempt activity in different fields, but laid down the results of their in- vestigation in a few works every one of which meant a conquest. The latter attempted to achieve breadth instead of depth. With the aid of the technical in- struments which others had forged, they set out to conquer the world. The whole fulness of life entered into art; and the history of the civilisation of the age is recorded in its paintings.

Fra Filippo, especially, and Gozzoli became the chroniclers of their epoch: careless, versatile minds, who, without troubling themselves over scientific problems, plunged with a joyous quiver in the stream of worldly events. By their position in life and educa- tion, both had been called to hold aloft the banner of


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the old religious painting; for one was a friar, the other the favourite pupil of the blessed brother of San Marco. But how little religious feeling remains in their works!

Even as an individual, Fra Filippo is an interesting type of the day. Although only eight years younger than Fiesole, he was as different from him as a gallant abbée from a saintly hermit. In his quiet cloister Fra Giovanni knew nothing of the temptations of life or of the love of woman; but Filippo was of “‘such a loving nature that he would have given all his possessions for women.” In order to seek an adventure he would leave his workshop and work for days. When confined in his convent he made a rope out of the bedclothes in order to escape through the window upon a nightly expedition. He eloped with Lucrezia Buti, a pretty nun of Prato, and Spinetta, her younger sister, also fled to the home of the jolly couple. When Cosmo de’ Medici heard of these scrapes, he only “laughed heartily over them.” |

These performances, although indifferent as anec- dotes, illumine the joyful and worldly character of the age, and explain why the pictures of Fra Filippo have so little in common with Fiesole’s. Only in several of his youthful works, as in the delicate Adoration of the Christ-child, in Berlin, is there a breath of. that heavenly love which Fra Angelico painted. The sub-

1 According to Vasari, in the story which Browning followed in his famous poem, and from which the author's. version is derived, Filippo


was confined in the house of Cosimo de’ Medici, who thus sought to keep the roving friar out of mischief.—Eb.


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ject of the painting, its light, rosy colour and the soft flow of the draperies, betray a connection with the older art. He even became a fresh narrator, gazing with sensual glance into life, and portraying in his paintings sprightly maidens and women with nothing holy about them. His Coronation of the Virgin rivals the beauty of a harem, in the charming maidens who are kneeling, their hair crowned with rose wreathes, and carrying flowering, long-stemmed lilies in their hands. In his paintings of Madonnas everything solemn and representative is eliminated. The lowly Virgin has become a blooming Florentine woman who devotes much attention to the toilette. He clothes her with gold-seamed garments, drapes her with scarfs and jewellery, and arranges her lace collar with the choice taste of a man who is an authority upon such things. Of course, with the principal figure the sur- roundings also change. Mary is no longer enthroned or surrounded by saints, but sits in her home or in a garden. Even in his frescoes at Prato depicting the life of the Baptist and of St. Stephen, he remains an admirer of women. In this cycle he occasionally at- tempts a serious, solemn style; but he certainly took most pleasure in the picture which represented Herod’ s Banquet with Salome dancing. A Dinner with the Medici would have been a more suitable title. “Fra Filippo was very partial to men of cheerful character, and lived for his own part in a very joyous fashion”’: thus Vasari characterised him, and the artist certainly


IINALO] +] ‘DIMapnIIV


NIOUIA AHL AO NOILVNOUOD



IddIT OddITla



Storm and Stress in Florence 95


resembled the man. It would be vain to seek depth or grandeur in his works. As the son of a butcher, he passed his life among rather elementary feelings; but his wholesomeness and good nature, his harmless epicu- reanism, and fine feeling for feminine beauty make him a true son of this joyful and happy age.

‘Benozzo Gozzoli experienced a similar artistic de- velopment. When in his youth he painted the delight- ful woodland story of the Journey of the Three Kings in the Palazzo Medici, he was still the dainty pupil of Angelico, and although he had fallen in love with the springtime, he had not yet forgotten heaven. He does not merely relate a novel of Florentine life; for groups of angels of captivating beauty terminate, on either side, this fresh and lovable work. Afterwards this dreamy tendency disappears. The lyric poet no longer survives and the narrator alone speaks in the celebrated cycles of San Gimignano and Pisa, which under biblical titles illustrate the whole life of the quattrocento. In the former cycle, which represents the Life of St. Augustine, one picture is particularly celebrated, because it gives information in regard to instruction in the schools of the fifteenth century. In the Pisan cycle, which treats subjects from the Old Testament, there is a veritable history of Florentine manners; the Legend of Noah is transformed into a Florentine vintage and the Building of the Tower of Babel affords an opportunity to depict the confused action of a building site, in which Cosmo de’ Medici, accom-


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panied by his friends, views the structure. There is nothing of the thunder of the prophets or of the bloody wrath of Jehovah; but he relates contemporary. wars, the foundation of cities, and the pleasures of country life. He knows as little of artistic subtleties or of mod- ern problems as the Giotteschi who laboured in the Camposanto before him. But his bubbling narrative talent and facility of execution are most astonishing. Minarets, obelisks, triumphal columns, palaces, gardens and vineyards, people of every age and condition, animals and flowers—all these he weaves into bright garlands. To improve and convert is as far from his purpose as possible; his only aim is to entertain, chat superficially, and record the chronicles of his age.


III.— Piero della Francesca

As the activity of the Florentine masters had not been confined to their native city, but had spread throughout Tuscany, it was not long before the spirit of realism took root elsewhere. Prato, the coquettish little city in the plain of the Arno, Em- poli, and Pistoja, summoned Florentine masters; in Pisa the time-honoured cradle of medizval painting, the new works of Gozzoli arose; in San Gimignano, in the picturesque mountain town of Arézzo, in Borgo San Sepolcro, and Cortona—everywhere Florentine painters were active. :

By this means realistic art was carried into these distant provinces. There, too, the painters were no longer willing to listen to the melodies of centuries gone by, as Gentile had done. Forgetting the ancient churchly ideals, they contended with their Florentine associates in the difficult labour of investigation. The dreamers who had lived so completely apart from the world were followed by calm and clear observers. Indeed, the artist with whom the realistic movement in Umbria began, Piero della Francesca, is the greatest of those searching minds whose scientific experiments created the grammar of modern painting, and who at- tempted problems which have occupied the world even until our own day.

Scarcely twenty years have passed since Impression- ism entered the artistic activity of the present day. The problem was to represent objects in their atmos- pheric veil, enveloped by light and air; it was not to paint local colours, but the effects of light under which every object momentarily changes colour. The activ- ity of Piero della Francesca confirms the old saying of Ben Akiba. Four hundred years ago he proposed the problem of realism, and endeavoured as the fore- runner of the most modern artists to establish in what manner atmosphere changes colour impressions.

The conditions then were very much the same as in our own-day. The consciousness had gradually arisen that there was a contradiction between the sharp out-


1A rabbi in Gutzkow’s Uriel Acosta, whose favourite expression was, ‘Alles schon dagewesen”—there is nothing new under the sun. —Ep.

lines and bright glistening colours of the van Eycks and Pisanello and what the eye actually sees; for ob- jects do not glisten in nature as Jan painted them on the Ghent altar. Yet another problem arose. Earlier art- ists, whose eyes lingered upon details, were not capable of rendering wide and distant views. Their perspec- tive knowledge only permitted them to indicate the recession of planes by means of hills and curtains. As they were not able to paint the broad heaven which lies above the plane, they avoided attempting it. The landscape rises almost vertically to two thirds of the . height of the picture, and often indeed the ascending surface is given without attempting to render the sky. The picture is the representation of a flat surface, and does not create the impression of depth.

By reason of his origin, Piero was called to offer a successful solution of these problems. The little town of Borgo San Sepolcro, where, in 1420, he was born, lies in the midst of the Umbrian plain. While artists who laboured in densely populated and closely built cities were accustomed, with sharp eye, to observe things from near by, Piero, standing on the hill of his native town, saw only light and space. He saw the sun as it brooded over the valley and bathed objects, now in the splendour of the morning, now in the quiyering light of noon, now in the soft twilight. Narrowed by no limit, his eye swept over numberless hills into infinite space. The two problems of space and light, therefore, became the great objects of his life.

The Florentines had also approached both. Uccello endeavoured by lines in perspective to awaken the feel- ing of depth; Castagno was fond of placing his fig- ures in a niche in order to attain the impression of a plastic object in space, and Domenico Veneziano at- tempted to interpret the gleaming shimmer of objects. When Piero, in 1438, came to Florence with Domenico, after the latter’s employment in Perugia, he saw the works of all these masters. What he had felt in his home became the object of scientific research. An Umbrian gathered the threads together in his hand, and solved the problem which the Florentines had laboriously attempted. The country in which St. Francis had written his hymn to the sun bestowed upon the world the first painter of light.

Even in his earliest work, the altar of the Miseri- cordia, which is still preserved in the hospital of Borgo, both problems are announced. The style is as new as the subject is medieval. While earlier artists had laboured rather in the style of relief and upon flat surfaces, Piero, in order to create the impression of spacious depth, represents the mantle of the Madonna as a hollow, cubic space, in which the kneeling figures are arranged in circular form. In contrast with earlier paintings, which reveal only broken local colours, the inner side of the mantle which Mary spreads over the believers refracts and reflects the colour in accordance with the light that sweeps over it. In his next picture, the fresco in San Francesco at Rimini, representing the lord of the city, Sigismondo Malatesta, a celebrated condottiere, kneeling before his patron saint, Piero has transferred these principles to landscape; the wall is broken open and the Duke is seen kneeling in an open space, which, pervaded by delicate light, stretches into the infinite. In order to heighten the impression of infinite space, he has erected in the foreground, like a mighty screen, a Renaissance column; that is to say, in order to direct the eye into the depth, he used the same artifice afterwards employed by Claude Lorrain. The two portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino are also significant of these tendencies. While Pisanello and Domenico Veneziano had preserved, in their por- traits, the severe style of ancient medals, Piero, in his tendency to attain the impression of depth, broke with this point of view. A wide landscape with well tilled acres, hills and valleys, representing the blessings of good government, stretches out. The blue back- ground is no longer that of a medal, but the sky stretch- ing brightly over the fields. Instead of painted reliefs the figures have the effect of bodies in space. It is true that he did not solve the problem perfectly. His insistence upon the rigid profile causes a dissonance between the spacious effect of the background and the flat, constrained style of the heads. But he has made the beginning for the substitution of really painted portraits in place of painted medals.

While in these works he competes successfully with his Florentine colleagues, in a series of others he has


<


Piero della Francesca ol


taken over the ancient inheritance of the Umbrians, the sense for feminine charm, into the new period. For there hardly exists a more tender picture than his Madonna, in Oxford, who, pale and emaciated, with irregular but distinguished features, bends so silently to the Christ-child. In his Birth of Christ, in Lon- don, the scientific problem is, as usual, most promi- nent. In order to attain the impression of spacious depth he causes the roof of the hut to descend in keen foreshortening, so that one feels that the figures really stand in space; and on both sides he directs the view to the landscape which, just because the scene in the foreground is pushed forward, seems the more distant and infinite in effect. In like manner he proposes a fixed problem of light, the interpretation of the silvery gleam of moonlight. Pale, blue light fills the room, quivers in greyish beams through the hut, and bathes the landscape of the background a bluish mist. But the eye lingers with rapture upon the beautiful angels who have come down from heaven to greet the Madonna with song and with the music of mandolin and viol, They are very wonderful and of a captivating modern beauty, reminding one of Rossetti—these budding maidens in gay costumes like those of an operetta, with their wavy locks and gleaming necklaces.

“The frescoes of the History of the Holy Cross, upon which he was engaged in the Church of San Francesco in Arezzo until 1466, show him at the height of his ability. All the problems which he had adopted from the


102 Wature and Antique


Florentines are here solved in classic perfection. While Uccello’s. battle-pieces do not progress beyond au- tomatic stiffness, Piero’s pictures are perfected results of modern battle painting. Castagno had laboured to acquire the third dimension, but with Piero the surface that he had to paint resolves itself without effort into space. Although Domenico Veneziano was the first to render the effects of light, Piero transformed all nature into a world of values which were determined by the all-ruling factor of light. In his Adam and Eve Masaccio was the first to approach the problem of the nude; but Piero renders scenes—especially nude men seen from behind—which seem to have been taken from the works of Klinger.

The psychological aspect of his work is no less re- markable than the technical. In representing the History of the Holy Cross, he actually gives the history of the Tree of Life which Seth, the son of Adam, planted: the history of the tree trunk, the wood of which served as a bridge, then as the threshold of the Temple, which once lay at the bottom of the sea, then in the depths of the earth; and which, although the Nazarene was crucified upon it, still preserves its indestructible power. The introductory picture, in which the dying Adam gives the command to plant the tree, contains the master’s philosophy. He sits there, aged and tired; the power of primitive man has left his sickly limbs. Beside him stands Eve supported by a crutch, her face wrinkled and her breasts withered.


PIERO DELLA FRANCESCA



THE BIRTH OF CHRIST National Gallery, London



Piero della Francesca 103


This group, however, is balanced on the other side by a powerful young man, strong as an athlete, and beside him a buxom lass whose full breasts protrude from her clothing. Itis the contrast of age and youth, of decline and power, of death and of ever renewing procreation referred to by the Earth Spirit in Goethe’s Faust—


‘*“Geburt und Grab, Ein ewiges Meer, Ein wechselnd Weben, Ein gliihend Leben.”


Piero resembles the Earth Spirit. What Millet called “Je cri de la terre’’ resounds through his works. He knows no heaven, but only the fruitful all-supporting earth. The grain ripens, the soil of fertile acres steams, and waving fields of grain stretch before us. Man, bound fast to the soil and hard pressed, leads upon this earth a great animal life. For Piero the world is no longer a station on the road to heaven. He is the son of the soil, made of the earth, to which he will again return. He loves the workman, leaning on his spade; the tiller of the soil, who makes it tributary and fruitful. He is also attracted by Nubian types, because these primitive men have something earthly and vege- tating about them. His women resemble nurses who only live to give life to new generations. In contrast to the figures of Gentile gazing longingly towards heaven, an Umbrian peasant now proclaims a new gospel: that there is no immortality after death, but only the withering and the budding, the eternal process of creation in nature, is immortal.


104 ature and Antique


The Madonna del Pario, which after the com- pletion of the frescoes of Arezzo he painted for the mortuary chapel of the mountain town Ville Monterchi, is perhaps his most representative work. Angels draw back a curtain, revealing a woman placing, with monumental gesture, her hand on her consecrated body. Here he has painted the symbol of life; for the Madonna is not the Blessed Virgin, but Cybele, the primeval mother of the race of man, the incarnation of Zola’s La Terre. Nor is there any death or resurrection of existence for him. As in the frescoes at Arezzo he had avoided representing the Crucifixion, although the theme demanded it, so at San Sepolcro he paints not the crucified but the risen Christ. Motionless as if a part of the soil, the sleeping guards lie before the sarco- phagus, and with solemn dignity the Earth Spirit, superhumanly powerful, rises from the dark shaft. Some of the trees are dead and bare; but on others a new and succulent green begins to sprout.

His later works are onlyfurther paradigms of his prin- ciples. A flaring daylight lies over the Baptism of Christ, in the National Gallery (London). The body of Christ is not flesh-coloured, but the light falling through the treetops plays upon the skin with greenish reflec- tions. The figures do not stand in front of the landscape, but grow out of it mighty as statues. The trees meet- ing above the scene are pomegranates, the symbol of fertility. As angels, the fresh, saucy maidens of the Birth of Christ, with green wreaths and red and


The harbingers of the Storm 105


white roses in their fair hair, have returned. In the _ picture of the Brera in which Federigo of Urbino kneels before the Madonna, he has painted the latter’s wife, Battista Sforza, as the Madonna, and her son, the little Guidobaldo, as the Christ-child; the view opens into the apse of the church in which the figures are ar- ranged cubically ina hollowspace. Inthe Madonna di Sinigaghia he attempts the favourite problem of Pieter de Hoog in showing how the light from a window, flooding into a room, vibrates more dimly in one place and more brightly in another. The love of still-life revealed in this painting led him to paint pictures with- out figures, representing wide squares enlivened by festive Renaissance buildings; and thus architectural painting took its place in Italian art. It is true that in these last works a yellowish-green mist has taken the place of the clear, bright colours he had formerly loved. It announced his disease of the eye—a strange irony of fate that just the man who had seen so much light was finally blinded.

IV.— The harbingers of the Storm

All these pictures seem separated by many de- cades from those of Gentile and Fiesole. Every vestige of the medizval feeling has died away, and all traces of religious devotion have been elimi- nated. Some treat subjects only to solve technical problems. With what a mocking shrug of the shoulders they must have looked upon Fiesole, seeing in his piety


106 ature and Antique


nothing but a melodvariae concession to the public. Others, while they did not change painting into science, nevertheless translated the whole Bible into a worldly language, using all scriptural subjects as a pretext for pictures of manners and fashions. That painting should be a handmaiden of religion and satisfy certain psychic needs seemed to them an exploded theory.

It is a question whether this art could have remained permanently dominant. However worldly-minded the upper classes may have been, and however proudly painters may have followed the programme of art for art’s sake, there was also a people who demanded other nourishment from art, who wished to be moved, and sought edification and comfort in pictures. Thus it came to pass that about the middle of the century a popular art appeared, in direct opposition to worldly and scientific painting. Among the people themselves, suppressed and grudging, a religious reaction was pre- paring. Although Roger van der Weyden and Fie- sole are separated by only a few years, one was the end, the other the beginning of an epoch. The art of the former is no longer of the soft yet rather thought- less and phlegmatic piety of the middle age, but the thunder preceding the storm; an earthquake that con- vulsed the nations.

This is not true of all the master’s paintings, for at the end of his life- he became even soft and conciliatory. In his last works, the Middelburg altar-piece and St. Luke, he is almost reconciled in character and in


The harbingers of the Storin 107


execution with the school of van Eyck, gentle and quiet in feeling, delicate and detailed in landscape. If another work ascribed to him in the Munich Gallery, the altar-piece of the Three Kings, is really by him and not by Memling, it might be said that in his latest period he achieved an almost courtly delicacy of execution. The costumes are smart and elegant, the movements pleasing and courteous. The bit of land- scape in the background—showing Memling’s rider on a white horse approaching by a lonely road—would even stamp him as the first painter of paysage intime in the Netherlands.

But it is not of such elegant works that we think when Roger’s name is mentioned. One recalls great, wide- open eyes, tears streaming down emaciated cheeks, hands convulsively clasped or with stiff fingers stretched to heaven; one thinks of wailing and of wild anguish.

Jan van Eyck was not concerned with the suffering and heavy-laden; he appealed only to the wealthier classes, who demanded of art.a feast for the eye but no psychic emotion. With him everything is gay and bright; the flowers bloom, clothes glimmer, and a joyous Easter feeling pervades the world.

When Roger, the city painter of Brussels, spoke to the people, he spoke in words of thunder, like an im- passioned prophet of the Old Testament. His only theme is the suffering of the Saviour. Emaciated people with staring, tear-stained eyes stand sobbing


108 Wature and Antique


and wailing about the cross; Mary sinks unconscious to the earth, and the apostles cry to heaven in wildest despair. Or he paints the Madonna seated, a grief- stricken matron, as if petrified by pain, and holding in her lap the wounded and emaciated corpse of her Son. In another painting the heaven has opened and Christ calls the blessed to him, consigning the damned to eternal tortures. In so far as he does not revert to the medizval gold background, he even draws the landscape into the struggle of passion. Abrupt and jagged cliffs arise from dismal chasms, and all nature seems petrified when the rigid body of the Redeemer is interred.

As we of the present are no longer familiar with such passions, much about Roger’s pictures seems forced and the outbursts of pain impress us as grimaces. But if we reflect with what theatrical hollowness later artists painted the same theme, we cannot but feel the elemental force and the primeval power of these works. It seems as if no single man, but the people itself, had created them. As in Roman times it had once demanded panem et circenses, it now cried for religion, not begging but threatening and prepared for a revolt. Roger was.the interpreter of this senti- ment of the age. Never before and seldom since then has painting spoken in such tragic, convulsing tones. This explains the tremendous effects of his work, which


may be likened to an avalanche rolling over the countries,


ROGER VAN DER WEYDEN



F CHRIST


THE BODY O Berlin Gallery


F


BEWAILING O



The harbingers of the Storm 109


For Roger’s influence was not confined to the north. The journey which as a pious man he made in order to celebrate the jubilee of 1450 in the Eternal City, was also an event for Italian art. From Cosmo de’ Medici he received a commission for that altar-piece with the Medicean patron saints, which now hangs in Frankfort. This shows that in Italy also there existed religious needs for which the scientific and worldly painting was not sufficient. It would be interesting to know what external event caused this sudden flaming up of the religious spirit. Did St. Anthony of Padua, who was at that time preaching, bring about the revolution? It is very remarkable that the aged Donatello, who had become a classicist while at Rome, suddenly changed into a wild and impassioned Baroque master. A shrill cry of despair seems to echo through his works at Padua, and it is noteworthy that the school of that city as- sumed the same tone.

For all such pictures as Gregorio Schiavone and Marco Zoppo painted have nothing in common with the superficial worldliness of Fra Filippo and Gozzoli, but are products of the same spirit which dominates Donatello’s reliefs and Roger’s Pzela. Earnest, un- approachable, and almost haughty, the Madonna sits on her marble throne, with saints of bony harshness and gloomy, threatening expression gathering about her. The world is dead; the eye sees no sprouting and budding, no flowers and perfume, but naked cliffs and gloomy caves. Bare and robbed of their foliage, the


110 ature and Antique


trees, as if freezing, stretch their withered branches towards heaven. Men, too, were freezing; they longed again for the warming rays of the light of heaven. A harsh, frosty and ascetic spirit, as if of the north, pervades these works.

The same spirit is even more prevalent in the product of the school of Ferrara. The very soil of this city is more northern than Italian. A flat plain, monotonous and dreary, stretches out like a mighty solemn Nirvana, filling the human spirit with religious stupor. The eye sees only little fields separated by crippled, leafless mulberry trees, among which scraggy grape-vines climb. Solemn and crude, defiant and gloomy, the Palazzo Schifanoja towers aloft, behind whose red brick walls the bloody tragedies recounted by Byron occurred. The streets are sober-looking and straight, and are flanked by palaces built of dark brick in the same severe and gloomy style.

It is easy to understand how Roger van der Weyden, on his road to Rome, found an appreciative reception in this serious northern town. Lionello d’Este, the friend of Pisanello, ordered from him that triptych of the Descent from the Cross, the central panel of which now hangs in the Uffizi. Indeed Roger’s harsh, angular art had a determinative effect upon the character of Ferrarese painters. From Squarcione, in whose studio at Padua they received their education, they acquired technique, and from Piero della Fran- cesca, who had been employed for some time at the


The harbingers of the Storm TII


court of Lionello, they derived their preference for light grey values of colour and for wide extensive land- scapes from which the figures arise like statues. Roger van der Weyden added an especially harsh note, that of Netherlandish ascetisicm.

The joint work of the school, the cycle of frescoes in the Palazzo Schifanoja, is characteristic of the medizval spirit of Ferrarese art. The theme of the Twelve Months affords the opportunity of portraying, besides political events, the labour of the field and the pleasures of the hunt. The representation of March by women spinning in the midst of a landscape is especially important as the first picture of labour in the history of art. By the same artist, Francesco Cossa, is an Autumn, in the Berlin Gallery, which has made his name one of the best known of the quat- trocento: a peasant woman in tucked-up dress, with spade and hoe in hand and a cluster of ripe grapes over her shoulder, stands in the midst of the field; a proud picture of labour, lonely as a mighty statue, with her eyes turned to her native village. The “scent of the earth,” as we perceive it in the works of Piero della Francesca, seems to stream from this work. It must not, however, be forgotten that the Ferrarese still maintained more intimate relations with the middle age than their contemporaries. While the Florentines narrate in a worldly manner, the Ferrarese reach back to medizval allegory. For Autumn is one of those “pictures of the months’ which occur in medieval


VOL, 1.—8


112 ature and Antique


calendars, and the entire Schifanoja frescoes treat the medizval theme, that the course of the stars determines the fate of men.

Besides these allegories practically the only other works in Ferrarese painting are such as treat with ascetic severity and almost grimacing pathos the theme of the Bewazling of the Body of Christ or the Madonna Enthroned. Thin, ugly, aged figures, bony old men and careworn matrons, dominate almost ex- clusively the repertoire of Ferrarese art. No other Italian school stands as near to the naturalism of Roger; no other took such delight in harsh and disagreeable lines, callous hands and emaciated bodies quaking as if from the fever. But it is just to this one-sidedness that its works owe their mighty and characteristic greatness. The colour, the harsh juxta- position of lemon yellow, blue, and vermilion, even heightens the harsh and solemn effect.

In its wild barbaric pathos, the Pzeta of Cosimo Tura in the Louvre has a grandiose effect, and his Madonna in Berlin glitters like Byzantine mosaic. Her throne, adorned with gilded bronze reliefs and glittering mosaics, rests upon columns of crystal, and her garments gleam in emerald, scarlet, and yellow; while the stiff, ascetic, and bony saints have the effect of mighty statues. Even Ercole dei Roberti, although belonging to the younger generation, has the same rugged and archaic style. In describing his passion Scenes in San Petronio at Bologna, Vasari could speak


Mantegna 113


only of Mary sinking into unconsciousness and of weeping faces, disfigured by pain. His best known work in Germany is the John the Baptist in the Berlin Gallery—a skeleton arising like a statue from a reddish, solemn landscape. In the presence of such paintings one feels the announcement of a spiritual tendency to which the future would belong, and sees, approaching at a distance, the man who was called to be the Luther of Italy. But the time was not yet ripe; for another power, the antique, was as yet stronger than Christianity.


V.— Mantegna

Up to this time the antique had exercised but little influence upon the artistic activity of the quattro- cento. The word “ Renaissance’’ in the sense of a revival of antiquity would be more suitable for the trecento. At the time when Petrarca, the youth- ful enthusiast, set out to make known the buried treasures of the pagan world; when Cola di Rienzi dreamed of restoring the greatness of ancient Rome, and when Boccaccio wrote his Genealogia Deorum and those lightly-clad novels in which a thoroughly heathen spirit dallies and jests—at that time art also experienced an antique Renaissance. It was the age of the bap- tistery and the church of San Miniato in Florence, of the cathedral, the baptistery, and the leaning tower in Pisa—all works of the Romanesque style, after an- tique models and of an almost Hellenic purity. In


114 ature and Antique


close imitation of the antique the Pisani carved their sculptures, and in the domain of painting Giotto filled the antique forms with new life and animated their serious outlines with Christian content. At hardly any other time was Christian art so permeated by antique elements as when the master of the Triumph of Death painted his nude putt: at Pisa, and Loren- zetti created those frescoes in which many a figure seems to have been taken directly from Pompeian mural paintings.

In contrast to this the antique plays a more modest part in the earlier art of the quattrocento. The advice given by Leonbattista Alberti to the artist, to substitute . for antique forms an independent study of natural ones, clearly indicates the change. The only thing adopted from the trecento was the delight taken in antique accessories. As in Giotto’s pictures the column of Trajan, the temple of Minerva at Assisi, the horses of St. Mark’s, and Victories bearing palms occur, so now paintings fairly abound in antique buildings and orna- ments. Even before architecture had taken the new path, painters used architectural backgrounds of an antique character and scattered a profusion of palmettes and rosettes, sphinxes and satyrs, cornucopias and meanders, garlands and triglyphs, candelabra and urns, sirens and trophies to attain a pleasing surface decora- tion. Antique statuettes, here a Cupid, there a Venus, are placed in niches; masks, antique busts and medal- lions of the emperors are introduced wherever the


Mantegna 115


space permits. Artists take as much pleasure in antique detail-as a child with a new toy, and play with it wherever possible. Yet they never progress beyond this dallying appropriation of classic ornament. Nothing is more distant from the simplicity of antique line than a statue by Donatello, with its sharply accentuated head, long limbs, capriciously ordered draperies; nothing is less like the classic style of antique reliefs than Ghiberti’s Baptistery doors, with their introduction of pictorial perspective. Even less do we find antique echoes in the types, costumes, position or arrangement of paintings of Uccello and Castagno, Fra Filippo and Gozzoli.

Not until the second half of the fourteenth century does the antique begin to exercise a stylistic influence. This influence first appears in Padua, which was the city of Livy as well as of St. Anthony. Whenin 1413 the supposed grave of the great Roman historian was discovered, every one, even the most humble, con- sidered himself a man of the antique world. Wherever Paduans went, they were enthusiastic collectors. Cardinal Scarampi, especially, is a type of the age; a prince of the church who took greatest pride in the fact that the arena of Padua belonged to him; an enthusiast for the antique, who had Roman aqueducts built, and in connection with Cyriacus of Ancona gathered a much envied collection of Greek gems. His counterpart in the domain of painting was Francesco Squarcione, who, in order to see the celebrated works of antique art,


116 Wature and Antique


travelled even in Greece; made plaster casts, collected busts, statues, reliefs, and fragments of architecture; and after his return to Padua opened an academy of painting on the basis of this collection.

It is true that Squarcione’s own works show little influence of the antique, and it would be erroneous to characterise Andrea Mantegna, his greatest pupil, as exclusively a partisan of the antique. Mantegna, of all painters, can only be explained through his own personality. Piero della Francesca and he signify respectively the soil and the rugged cliffs in Italian art. With Giotto, Castagno, and Segantini, he was one of the four great shepherd boys in the history of art. A keen Alpine air pervades his works; they have the quality of granite, like the cliffs of the Euganean Mountains.

A glance at his portrait will reveal why the bust form was chosen for it. Although this was never done in painted likenesses of other artists of the guattrocento Which survive, the master who created Mantegna’s portrait had the feeling that only bronze would be suitable material for this stern head. What power, strength of purpose, and indomitable will appear in these features! This was evidently no mild and lov- able man, but a strong and harsh character. As his relations to Squarcione, who adopted him as a poor boy, soon changed into enmity, so he maintained the same stiff-necked pride towards his later prince, Gonzaga of Mantua. In his letters every word is as


‘M@antegna 117


keen and biting as a sharp knife. As he was always in conflict with his prince, so neither could he live in peace with any neighbour, but accused and sued without mercy; every one who came in contact with him was wounded. Corresponding with these qualities in his pictures are the jagged halos and stiff tree- leaves, which also make the impression that one could scratch himself upon them so that the blood would flow. Of the same character is his entire art, which resembles a garden fenced closely about and full of steel traps. It sounds as sharp and as shrill as a brass shield struck by a sword. And it is precisely in this severity, from which everything mild, agreeable, and reconciling is eliminated, his one-sidedness and also his ‘greatness lie, Le style c'est l’homme.

The man with the bronze head and the stony glance created people after his own image. How they stand there, pressed into their iron armour, like fabulous giants whose muscular backs and firm and sinewy legs seem formed by a sculptor rather than by a painter! Their whole bodies are tense, like an arrow on the string of a bow; just as Mantegna himself was always expect- ing opposition and ready for defence. They look sullen and silent, and the sharp folds that fall from the protruding cheekbones are hard and abrupt as if by a magic formula they had been petrified in motion. The draperies, even when they are of soft material, seem to be of steel; especially those stiff protruding little cloaks, which occur so frequently in his pictures.


118 Wature and Antique


In order to attain most pointed and stiff folds he was accustomed to model from rigidly sized paper and he would perhaps have preferred models of tin. This metallic style of drawing also reacts upon the colour. In conceiving appearances to be so rigid, he was naturally compelled to give the colour a metallic tone. Many of his figures, although they are painted after nature, resemble bronze statues, so hard are they in outline, and so much like polished bronze do the folds of the drapery glisten.

His manner of choosing the accessories is also determined by the same point of view. As he loves warriors in bronze armour with glittering arms and draperies with stony folds, he also heaps about them accessories of similar appearance; armour, helmets, tin vessels, gleaming metallic greaves, jagged halos and nails. The halo, which with other artists is an ethereal representation, Mantegna forms of heavy, glittering rings of pewter; and angels’ heads, lightly indicated by others, look like floating pieces of Robbia- ware.. Upon his picture of the Resurrection the edges of the halo behind the Saviour are jagged and as sharp as those of a razor. In his line engraving of the Crucifixion the inscription I. N. R. I..is fastened with thick iron nails, and in the foreground lies a heavy door of dry oak with a rusty iron frame. In other pictures urns and vases, copper vessels and gold chains are used to heighten the metallic effect.

Grandest of all, however, is his translation of land-


Mantegna 11g


scape into the brazen style. For people like those he created could not live on the ordinary earth, but needed a world of the same rigid grandeur. In his pictures there are no meadows and gardens, no grass and flowers; but creation is transformed into a vision of the age of stone: bared of the covering earthly crust, and only enlivened by blocks of stone, dried trees, hedges, boulders, and sandy roads. Upon the hill- tops turret-crowned castles and _ high-walled cities tower. All vegetation is dead and the slaty summits of the cliffs are pushed into the foreground, opening into yawning chasms. Many of these scenes he must certainly have seen in nature. When he paints the Deposition from the Cross in a quarry of trachyte, chooses a cave of black lava for the scene of the Adoration of the Kings, and depicts on the left wing of this altar-piece a towering volcanic cliff, the basis of these paintings was probably studies made in the Euganean Mountains. But in other cases he uses the elements of nature for independent creations. As he loves to insert in the picture giant corals, such as no mineralogist has ever seen anywhere, so in the Ma- donna della Petriera he has enlarged a little stalactite formation into monumental proportions. In a quarry near by masons are occupied in hewing stone blocks; but even these are only introduced to strengthen the stony impression. The same purpose is served by his fondness for concentric paths ploughing through the hills. In introducing them he dis-


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robes nature, as it were, and lays bare her stony skeleton.

He proceeds in the same manner with plants, being especially fond of grapes and leaves of vines. Just as wonderfully as they can be imitated to-day—the fruit in glass, and leaves in tin—so he painted them, equally true and equally hard. Greater changes were necessary in order to make trees harmonise with his style. They seemed to wear heavy iron armour, and their leaves, which no breeze could disturb, hang fast as steel from the branches. The branches stretch into the air, jagged and barbed as the points of javelins. Even the plants which grow in this stony soil have something metallic and crystalline about them. Some look like zinc sprinkled with white lead; others as if painted over with a coat of greenish bronze through which the white leaves of the steel still shimmer. He has translated even the air and the sky into this stony style. The soft, melting, and intangible qualities of clouds are rendered. in hard, sharply outlined plastic forms. It is no accident that the painter who paid most attention to clear outline was the first to master the technique of line engraving, which is most adapted to rendering, free from their coloured veil, objects in relief, strength of contour, and solidity of form.

If we may at all speak of external influence in case of amind like Mantegna’s, it is probable that he received the determinative impression when Donatello was labouring in Padua. He probably witnessed the


Mantegna 121


creation of the equestrian statue of Gattamelata as well as the reliefs of the high altar, and may perhaps have entered into personal relations with Donatello. At all events the great Florentine found his most capable pupil not in a sculptor, but in this painter. Bronze statues were the first works of art upon which the glance of the lad fell; and it was this taste for them which caused him to attempt such plastic effects, as though sculpture were an accessory to painting. Next to Donatello, his principal teacher was Paolo Uccello, who had come to Padua in the train of the great sculptor and had painted in the Palazzo Vitaliani. To him Mantegna owed his inclination to devote himself to the science of perspective, which he enriched by revolu- tionary discoveries. That at an earlie: period he. was also familiar with the works of Piero della Francesca may be concluded from the resemblance of his picture of the Resurrection, at Tours, to Piero’s fresco in San Sepolcro, from the plein air methods which pervade his representation of the Legend of St. Christopher, and, quite generally, from the problems of space which he attempted to solve.

Even in the celebrated pictures which he painted from 1454 to 1459 (between his twenty-third and his twenty-eighth year) in the church of the Eremitani at Padua, these elements all appear. As well in his manner of showing the figures from below, foreshortened in the way they would actually appear to the observer looking upward, as in the general space arrangements,


122 ature and Antique


he endeavours to create the impression of depth. Ata later period, when decorating the ceiling of the Camera degli Sposi in the Castello del Corte at Mantua, his perspective studies again led him to a new result. In transferring Uccello’s principles to the decorating of the ceiling, he practically opened it, painting the puttz as if they were actual beings suspended in space and seen from below; thereby becoming the inventor of perspective ceiling-decoration, and the ancestor of Correggio, Veronese, and Tiepolo.

In the portrait groups also, which he painted on the walls of this hall, two centuries join hands. Artists had at first confined themselves to introducing portraits of the donors into religious representations, and after- wards Castagno had created the first life-sized single portraits; but in these scenes from the lives of the Gonzagas the first independent portrait groups are represented. The path is for the first time trodden which led to Tintoretto, and from him to the Dutch doelenstukken of the seventeenth century.

But richest in consequence for the quattrocento was his relation to the antique. It is significant that the master who painted the portrait bust of Mantegna conceived him as a hero of antiquity, his long hair crowned with a laurel-wreath. For he towers in his epoch like the offshoot of a forgotten heroic age, like a Hellene born after his day. It seems as if Providence had only made use of Squarcione in order to produce Mantegna; for it was in his spirit that what Squarcione


Mantegna 123


had collected first won life and soul. In association with the humanists of Padua, he mastered the spirit of the antique, somewhat as Menzel mastered that of the age of Frederick the Great. With the zeal of an antiquarian, the scientific severity of an archeologist, he sought out even the smallest fragments that would serve to afford a living picture of the antique world; such as reliefs, coins, inscriptions, works of marble and bronze. He took pains to ascertain, even to the small- est detail, the armament of the ancients, and was not satisfied until he knew the appearance of a Roman bridle or sandal; and he was as familiar with their archi- tectural forms as he was with their clothes, implements, and customs. In later life a sojourn in Rome afforded him a new opportunity to freshen his antique studies. Before this world of buildings and statues he stood amazed, and lingered, sketch-book in hand, before the column of Trajan and the arch of Titus.

Even the impression of his early Paduan frescoes, although they treated saintly legends, is one of solemn classicism. The strictly Hellenic character of these structures could only be obtained by a master who had grown up in a classic atmosphere; and the Roman equipments of the soldiers by a painter whose mind was a veritable encyclopzdia of antiquity. When he painted the celebrated tablet in the Camera degli Sposi, telling in classical Latin andequally classic letters about the donor and the completion of the work, when he chained Sebastian not to a tree but to the ruin of a temple,


124 ature and Antique


adding his name in Greek letters: such incidents only reveal how completely his spirit was dominated by the an- tique. Later, when Isabella d’Este mounted the throne of Mantua, the opportunity was afforded to create the work which he himself probably regarded as the climax of his artistic activity—the Triumph of Ca@sar.1 If formerly he could only use monuments of antiquity as accessories to religious paintings, he was now per- mitted to treat an actually antique theme. Making use of all the material he had collected for decades, he gave us the most learned reconstruction which antiquity has ever found; an evocation of the past to which following centuries could add nothing, either in the exactness of archeological detail or in the thoroughly antique conception of the subject.

But this is not the only novelty of his work, that to the Christian subjects which had heretofore dominated the répertoire of art the antique was now added. The occupation of artists with the antique introduced a number of new problems. To begin with, they were inspired by antique statues to discover more exactly than had been done before the laws of movement in the nude. For even though Piero della Francesca had previously taken a decisive step in portraying the nude, it was not in the nature of his art to depict motion. All of his pictures are in motionless repose, as if planted for eternity. They stride as heavily to and fro as the


' This celebrated series of nine cartoons on paper backed with can- vas is now at Hampton Court, near London.


ANDREA MANTEGNA



PARNASSUS


Louvre



Mantegna 125


peasant, who, walking through his field, sinks at every step in the loamy soil. Mantegna, whose beings lived not on the soil but in the mountains, supplemented Piero, in that he was the first to paint action as well as repose. He was the first to take up the movements of the nude body, with the resulting contractions and relaxation of the muscles, as an especial object of study. His line engraving of Hercules Strangling Antaus, especially, must have affected the artists of those days like a revelation.

No less evident is the influence of the antique in his treatment of costume. Whereas, heretofore, the bi- garrerie of fashion had been an inexhaustible field of new discoveries for the painters, Mantegna altogether avoids contemporary costumes; substituting for the gaiety of costume and bric-a-brac, which former artists had loved, simple antique draperies, upon the artistic rendition of which he bestowed special attention. Something similar had been attempted by Piero della Francesca; but for Mantegna the search for beautiful motives of drapery is a determinative factor of the artistic activity. Not satisfied with arranging the draperies about the body with sovereign tact, he approached those problems of harmony and elegance which the sculptors of antiquity had so matchlessly solved. Evenin one of his first works, Sant’ Eufemia in the Brera, the play of the draperies is equal in beauty to the best draped statues of antiquity. His Par- nassus, in the Louvre, painted for the private room


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of Isabella d’Este, might be a work of Poussin -in the severe antiquity of the rhythm of movement and the fall of the light draperies, here softly clinging to the body, there fluttering in the wind. Quite a new order of beauty, having nothing in common with the joyful realism and the indiscriminate copying of nature of the early quattrocento, makes its triumphal entry into art.


To recapitulate: Mantegna was the first to give his figures full plastic rotundity; to create the earliest perspective ceiling decorations and the earliest portrait groups, and to raise the study of the nude in motion and of draperies to a real artistic problem. He stands, therefore, revealed as the genius who, next to Piero della Francesca, exercised the most determinative influence upon the artistic activity of the younger generation.

V.I.— The Successors of Mantegna

Without Mantegna, Melozzo da Forli is unthinkable.! He lacks, however, the sturdy greatness of the Paduan; being as soft as the latter is hard, and as mild as he is austere and defiant. He was also influenced by his countryman Piero della Francesca, who imparted to him something of his delicate charm.

1It is, however, the prevailing opinion with art historians that the two painters working independently arrived at the same results.


The same is probably true of Antonio Pollajuolo and the next artist


treated, whose style was formed before Mantegna’s brief stay in Florence.—Ed,


Successors of Mantegna 127


Even in his earliest works, the personifications of the liberal arts, which in 1474 he painted for the library of the Duke of Urbino, the manner in which he com- posed his figures in space reveals his relation to Piero. Instead of arranging the scenes in the manner of relief — the figure of each science to the left and her followers to the right—he places the throne in the middle of the background, with the masculine figures kneeling before it, and indicates the dimension of depth by means of the steps of the throne. In addition to this, he was principally occupied with draperies. With outspoken formal talent, he devoted to the cast of draperies an attention which would have delighted Fra Barto- lommeo, the inventor of the lay figure.

In his next work, the painting of the cupola of the cathedral of Loreto, he first attempted Mantegna’s problem of painting from below, but did not succeed in solving it, because he was lacking in a certain light- ness; his figures are smothered in their heavy draperies. These difficulties were at last overcome in his cupola frescoes of Santi Apostoli at Rome. As Vasari relates, Christ was suspended so freely in the air that he seemed to burst the vaulting of the cupola, and the angels, too, appeared to move in the free space of heaven. As the cupola has been destroyed, it is im- possible at the same time to say how far these per- spective illusions were successful; but the fragments preserved in the sacristy of the Vatican are as remark- able for a delicate sense of beauty as for the mastery


VOL. I.—9


128 ature and Antique


of perspective. The angels with their fair fluttering locks, making music and singing while they are wafted about and a supernatural breeze stirs their garments, have not ceased to exercise their attraction for succeed- ing generations.

In this last work, the fresco of the Vatican Library representing Sixtus IV. appointing Platina its director, Mantegna and Piero della Francesca again clasp hands. With some resemblance to Mantegna’s portraiture, he has created a portrait group of representative nobility. The disposition of the space noticeable in the keen foreshortening of the incrusted ceiling, the manner in which the columns recede, and in the view of the loggia opening in the background reminds one of Piero’s Santa Conversazione at Milan, and at the same time points to the future; for Raphael had this picture in mind when he conceived the School of Athens.

In Florence, where in 1466 Mantegna had resided, he found a successor in Antonio Pollajuolo, the great bronze caster. Like Melozzo the latter was influenced by the mighty statuesque qualities of the Paduan and the classic repose of his draperies, especially when he created in the figures of the Five Virtues for the Mercatoria in Florence the counterpiece of the former’s Sciences in the library of Urbino. But in another domain Mantegna was even more his master. Polla- juolo was first to acquire the technique of line engrav- ing, and among his prints, one in especial, the Battle of the Nudes, is characteristic of his tendency. Never


Successors of Mantegna 129


had fiercely struggling figures, life and motion, been presented with such skill. All the muscular con- tractions and complicated motives of motion are rendered with a hitherto unknown mastery. This print is also significant of the tendency that ruled him as a painter. Following Mantegna he made anatomy a special field of study. ‘He understood the nude,” relates Vasari, “better than any of his predecessors. As he studied anatomy on the dissecting table, he was the first to render the full play of muscles.” From this point of view he chose his subjects, and by it alone his pictures should be criticised. Human bodies, contending in battle, contracted limbs in the most difficult contor- tions, the commingling and contest of struggling forces —such is his domain. His practise of bronze casting may also be recognised in his rendition of form, his pre- ference for well rounded and undulating positions, and in the hard metallic character which characterises his style.

Of Christian subjects affording an opportunity for the solution of such problems he first chose Sebastian. The life-size painting in the Pitti Gallery reveals mighty forms which seem cast in bronze, with foreshortened head, swollen muscles and a loin-cloth formed like a bronze plate. In the London picture he has increased the problem by the introduction of archers: six men spanning crossbows and shooting at a nude figure. This gives an opportunity for varied positions and a rich play of muscles. Some of the executioners bend- ing over to string their bows do it with such zeal that


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one can see their veins swell; their sinews, hair, and the wrinkles of their faces are chiselled in bronze. For a similar reason he added to his répertoire the figures of Hercules, whose labours he depicted in a series of Cecorative paintings in the Palazzo di Venezia and the small double figures in the Uffizi: Hercules Sirangling Antaus and the Hydra. How in the picture of Antzus the feet of Hercules are fastened to the earth; how the calves of his legs swell and his breast is thrown back- ward; and with what strangling power he clutches his antagonist —all this is another triumph in the represent- ation of motion and of the nude. Even inthe little panel of Apollo and Daphne in the National Gallery, the theme is chosen from this point of view. The elastic body of a youth and the austere body of a maiden, one following, the other fleeing—is this not a veritable compendium of difficult movements and anatomical studies? Along with human anatomy he was occupied with that of the horse, as witness the Munich sketch for an equestrian monument, which long passed for the work of Leonardo. We can understand how artists stood astonished before such works, for no Florentine before Pollajuolo had thus mastered the structure of the bodies of men and animals.

“What with Pollajuolo was still experimental, Signor- elli raised to quiet mastery. After Mantegna and Pollajuolo had fixed the laws of motion. for the nude body, it was only left for Signorelli to go one step further and express the emotions of the soul by movements of


Successors of Mantegna 131


the body. He is, therefore, the connecting link between Mantegna and Michelangelo. The activity of Signorelli included everything. He painted altar-pieces for the cities of Tuscany and Umbria, and even in these he is reflected as a serious and virile master. Like Mantegna he knows no gentle lyricism; his pictures are crude and harsh, almost brusque and violent; he loves hard faces and profiles as sharp as a razor. But most of all he loved the nude, less the softness of the feminine body than the sinewy spareness of the masculine. Not because the legend tempted him, but only to glorify the splendour of the nude and sinewy human body, he painted the Education of Pan. In this painting, now in the Gallery of Berlin, all the movements of which the nude body is capable are represented; some of the figures are erect, others are seated, and still others recline. He is actuated by a similar point of view in the choice of his biblical subjects. The Baptism of Christ was.a favourite, be- cause it permitted him to represent in the figures of the candidates for baptism bodies in various positions. But he was fond of the Crucifixion, because the theme gave opportunity to depict a corpse with all possible contractions and contortions of the sinews. Of the saints who stand about the throne of Mary, Jerome was his favourite, because tradition per- mitted him to represent an aged body with wrinkled skin and overworked muscles. If such a figure-is not possible in the foreground, he inserts it in the back-


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ground, even though it may be in no wise related with the theme. It is like a monogram of Signorelli to find in all of his paintings, even in portraits, nude youths standing, sitting, or reclining. The rear view, showing powerful thighs and firm shoulder-blades, particularly tempts him. If there is no opportunity to depict such figures nude, he at least paints them clothed in tricot or tight-fitting armour. The angels are therefore his friends, especially Michael with his gleaming coat of mail, and lansquenets with stretched, steely sinews. It is especially these ener- getic, weather-browned figures, standing with legs spread apart, in a position which gives opportunity for all the muscles to play, and defiant as if they were courting danger, which gives his pictures a heroic, martial boldness. In his female figures and saints the drapery is simple and dignified without unnecessary bulging folds, everything being arranged in heavy masses and in great simple lines. To this powerful strength of line the colour quite corresponds. As in the case of Mantegna, it has a certain metallic sharpness, a tone of copper or bronze, not hard or dry but grey and gloomy. Although, as a pupil of Piero della Francesca, he is occupied in the Education of Pan with the study of reflex light, he is nevertheless too much of a draughstman and anatomist, too serious and harsh, to seek after charms of colour.

When he is not confined by the size of a panel paint- ing, but stands in front of large mural surfaces, a great


Successors of Mantegna 133


dramatic talent rises within him. Among the paint- ings of the Sistine Chapel those of Signorelli immediately attract attention by their dramatic action and by a certain crude beauty. In his second cycle, the scenes from the Life of St. Benedict, painted in 1447 for the monastery of Monte Oliveto near Siena, the manner in which he has treated the theme is very characteristic. Passing over the youthful life of his hero, he begins abruptly with the picture which gives the opportunity to represent wild motion, the Punishment of Florens. In further sequence he selects scenes in which it is possible to portray lansquenets with martial equipment, especially soldiers on the march with halberds, feathered caps, and tightly fitting checkered uniforms.

When in his sixtieth year he was summoned to create his most celebrated work, the cycle of frescoes at Orvieto, he did not need to select a subject; the theme was as if created for him: the Last Judgment, its Approach, Heaven, and Hell. Here, where there was nothing but nudes to be portrayed and he was not circumscribed by the size of the picture, his power grew into something tremendous. Had Fiesole, the beginner of the work, completed it, the spectator would have been led into a kingdom of eternal peace. Signorelli, on the other hand, changes heaven and hell into an anatomical theatre. Delicacy and tenderness of expression are not to be found, but in the manner in which he uses the nude to express emotion, developing psychical motives from physical action, there lies a


x


134 ature and Antique


superhuman, a Titanic greatness. Here the dead are slowly and solemnly leaving their graves, some still ascending from the earth, others already risen and stretching their limbs as after a long sleep. There joy and blessedness prevail; knees are bowed, hands laid upon hearts and arms raised gratefully towards heaven. In the last painting Hell is an athletic drama. Monsters fly through the air; wild demons knead and strangle their victims as if with bronze tongs; nude bodies writhe in cramped convulsions on the ground or brace themselves up against crazing agony.

The tendencies which began with Mantegna and formed the life work of Pollajuolo thus found in Signorelli their consummation.


VII.— Hugo van der Goes

In the meanwhile an abrupt change of scene had taken place in Florence. About the same time that Mantegna resided there, a picture had arrived from the Netherlands before which to-day one. stands astonished in the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova. Hugo van der Goes, the painter of this work, is known also from many similar works in German and Belgian galleries. In one of them at Brussels, a young Fran- ciscan kneels in silent adoration before Mary in the midst of a yellowish-green autumn landscape. In an Annunciation at Munich, he attempts the very modern problem of creating a harmony in white. Instead of a warm and glowing tone, the picture was


0ja1n4C) Lo 1vAPaYJDD ‘OISAAT (LUvVd) INAWOaOL LSVT AHL



IITAUONDIS VONT



hugo van der Goes 135


intended to have a light and silvery effect, but it be- came hard, cold, and chalky. In his portraits he often frightens by phenomenal ugliness. It seemed as if he took delight in the mongrel when he painted Cardinal Bourbon looking like an old woman. A toilsome, troubled, and struggling element runs through his work; he appears as a tormented spirit, always undertaking new problems, but who in the course of the work lost confidence and inspiration. ~

What may be read from his pictures is confirmed by his biography. At first he was a pleasure-loving child of the world. The town council of Bruges summoned him when pompous processions were to be arranged, arches of honour to be erected, or banners painted with the festal images of antique heroes and goddesses. Wine, women, and song dominated his life. Suddenly he withdrew into the Augustinian convent in the wood of Soignies, to live only for the salvation of his soul. For a while two powers, the spirit of worldliness and the spirit of self-denial, struggled within him. He still rejoiced to take part in the sumptuous repasts of the noble lords who came to the monastery for portrait sittings ; but such hours of worldly delight were followed by others of deepest despondency in which he con- sidered himself eternally damned. Conscience-stricken, he now painted pictures devoted to the end of things and to the bitter sufferings of the Saviour. In a painting at Frankfort, Mary stands with the veil of a matron drawn over her head and gazes with solemn


136 ature and Antique


earnestness upon the Child; in one at Venice the lifeless body of the Redeemer hangs in a gloomy landscape; in another, at Bruges, Mary lies upon her death-bed, while to her failing eyes the Redeemer appears in heavenly glory; and in still another, at Vienna, friends are mournfully taking the rigid body of our Lord down from the cross—the old theme which Roger so often painted. With Goes, however, there is no pathos and no wailing; everything is suppressed and deep, a hopeless woe, to which not even tears will bring relief. A pale woman, deserted and emaciated in appearance, the Mag- dalen silently folds her hands and gazes gloomily into space. Ravens flutter about the cross, which towers like a ghost into the clouded evening sky. But even such pictures do not express what Goes wishes to say. He conceived the strangest plans—visions of pictures for the completion of which one life seemed too short; for during the work he lost pleasure in it, and despaired of ever expressing the feelings that moved his heart. One day, with the cry, “I am damned,” he collapsed. All the scruples of conscience which for years had martyred his soul ended in religious insanity, and henceforth only the resounding tones of the organ and the pious songs of the brethren gave relief to his torments.

His works show what a noble spirit was here crushed. The altar-piece with the Adoration of the Kings which, under the orders of Tommaso Portinari, the Medicean agent in Bruges, he painted for Santa


tbugo van der Goes 137


Maria Nuova, offers one of the most powerful artistic impressions to be experienced in Florence. The thought is as new as is the problem of light which he proposes. On a heap of straw, the Christ-child reclines, encircled by rays of light, which also illumine the kneeling Madonna. Languishing angels kneel about or hover in the air. One in particular, joyfully rising on gleam- ing wings to heaven, but still illumined by the divine light flooding the lower part of his clothing, might have been taken from the painting by Rembrandt. But we are also reminded of Bocklin. The manner in which light green branches stand out against the deep blue sky and the fire-red lily standing as a bold spot of colour in the foreground are conceptions of colour which belong much less in the fifteenth than at the end of the nineteenth century. In the garments dark blue, violet, green, and gloomy black tones of colour are united in accords never before heard. An indefinable charm is woven about the figure of the Madonna, who looks not like a maiden but like a woman who has experienced the mighty pains of childbirth. Old and sullen, with the callous hands of a labourer, and yet majestic as a doge by Tintoretto, Joseph stands near by. On the other side are the nude and weather-beaten figures of the shepherds, sun-browned, rough, and true: one.of them kneeling, another gazing curiously, and a third approaching in breathless haste. Remembering the difficulties experienced by painters even of the seventeenth cenutry in avoiding caricature when paint-


138 ature and Antique


ing peasant pictures, and recalling the grotesque boobies and drunken harlequins introduced by Brueghel and Ostade as peasants, one cannot but admire the great and simple realism of this master, who approaches Millet and Bastien-Lepage.

Even more impressive than this central panel are the wings of the altar. On the one side are saints, strange Jewish types of patriarchal, royal dignity. At their feet kneels the great grandson of Dante’s Beatrice, Tommaso Portinari—a fine head with the solemn and reticent features of an aristocratic merchant; and at his side the pale, modest faces of his two boys, wonder- ing what it is all about, and timidly, half mechanically folding their dainty fingers in prayer. The other wing is devoted to women of quiet and noble dignity: his wife, slender and delicate, his fair little daughter, fresh as a schoolgirl, and, behind them, their patron saints, Margaret and Mary Magdalen, dressed like princesses in grey, gold-bordered robes and shimmering white damask, with hair combed back and covered with a high and coquettish cap. .Even the older artists celebrated Goes as the greatest painter of female por- traits of this epoch. Van Mander speaks of their well- bred modesty and their sweet, demure appearance, as if Cupid and the Graces had guided the artist’s brush— statements confirmed by the Portinari altar. The artist’s strong and powerful characterisation of men does not prevent an equal success with women. To a subtle and distinguished bearing, almost affected in its


aouasop it ‘C4aqqo4) 221f SGUAHdAHS AHL 1O NOILVUOGY



Sa09 4dd NVA OONH



Hugo van der Goes 139


girlish coyness, he adds a flowerlike grace; and at the same time a solemn melancholy lies in the pale, thought- ful heads, with dark eyes shaded by thin brows, and small, nervously twitching lips. The hands, in the case of men so hard and callous, are delicate and white, and as expressive as if they could themselves relate romances. With an austere charm he combines meas- ured harmony and a grandeur of style, which makes quite intelligible that his highest ideal was fresco painting. Every theme is of a monumental sublimity such as no Flemish artist since Hubert van Eyck had attained.

Hand in hand with this grandeur of line goes an intimate quality of landscape painting such as had never yet appeared. Jan van Eyck, the first landscape painter of the Netherlands, had been attracted to his theme by the exotic taste of a tourist. As a widely travelled artist he presents to his simple countrymen, who had never got beyond Bruges or Ghent, all the gay splendour of the south. Even when he occasionally renders Flemish motives, there is something elaborate and overloaded about his landscapes. The same tendency which led him to represent his figures in rich robes, and to weave flowers and gold seams into their garments, caused him to paint lansdcapes much richer than they actually are. The most heterogeneous vegetation, palm-trees, sorbs, cypresses, and pines, he depicted as growing side by side, only to attain a rich effect and without regard for season and climate. In


140 ature and Antique


place of this festal feeling of Jan van Eyck, Goes sub- stitutes the intimate and the every-day. The first to feel that landscape did not need to be exotic and adorned, he revealed a taste for the simple nature that he saw about him; for acres, meadows, ponds, and trees. In the right panel of the altar just mentioned with the lofty trees, on whose bare branches crows have alighted, one gazes into a fallow winter landscape, sadly stretching out beneath a clouded sky. At the same time he penetrated more than did the earlier artists into the very structure of the landscape. While Jan placed flowers and trees carefully in his pictures, as children do with their toys, Goes was the first to examine their roots and leaves. The manner in which he paints trees is extraordinary. Each has its own physiognomy, and yet, with the finest calculation, all the lines are subordinated to the chief outlines of the figures.

Under the influence of this wonderful work an entirely new conception of nature must have originated, which, characteristically for the epoch, took root not in the Netherlands but in Italy. While it would hardly have found appreciation in the north, in the south painters streamed to see it. Piero della Francesca must have had it in mind when he painted his Oxford Madonna, and the Birth of Christ and the Santa Conversa- qione in the Brera. This is indicated by the type of the Madonna in the first named painting, the group of Shepherds in the second, and in the third by the figure


ugo van der Goes t4t


of the saint to the left, which seems to have been taken directly from the Flemish altar-piece. Jean Foucquet, the Frenchman, must also have seen works of Goes; for the resemblance of his Etienne Chevalier, whom in the Berlin painting St. Stephen commends to the

Madonna, to Goes’s St. Victor is too striking to be ~ accidental. Other adaptations may be seen in the works of Baldovinetti, Piero di Cosimo, Ghirlandajo, Lorenzo di Credi and Piero Pollajuolo, and it was under the impression of Goes’s work that the Duke of Urbino summoned a Fleming, Justus van Ghent, to his court. It would be wrong, however, to emphasise only such details. The whole further development of Florentine _ art indicates that, next to the visit of Mantegna, the appearance of this Flemish altar-piece was regarded as the greatest artistic event of the decade between 1460 and 1470!

Its influence is next revealed in the new colouristic tendencies of the painters. While, with the exception


Professor Muther’s view of the influence of van der Goes, and particularly of the Portinari altar-piece, upon Florentine painting is a very interesting as well as a novel one. The more detailed statement of the proofs which his promised larger work will doubtlessly contain, should prove most valuable. For the present, it seems to us that this influence is somewhat overrated. From a chronological point of view, it is difficult to conceive of a marked influence upon Piero della Fran- cesca, who was some twenty years his senior, and whose style was certainly formed before he saw the Portinari altar-piece; and the same is true of other masters mentioned. The change in colouristic tendencies in Florentine art revealed in the work of Baldovinetti, the improved rendition of atmosphere practised by Verrocchio and the other changes noted were, in our opinion, due to tendencies which existed in Flor- entine art before the arrival of Goes’s celebrated altar-piece.—Eb.


142 ature and Antique


of Domenico Veneziano, they had not progressed beyond the primitive colouring of the Florentine school, they now cultivated the purely pictorial element. Even more than formerly ornaments, architecture, and landscape were introduced to increase the brightness of colour. Furthermore, the peasant figures of the altar-piece and its wonderfully painted animals stim- ulated the taste for rusticity. Another element new to Florentine art is evidently connected with the ap- pearance of Goes’s work—grace.. In the earlier works of the fifteenth century, like those of Filippo Lippi and Gozzoli, a thoughtless and rather vulgar charm pre- vailed, and in Castagno the spirit of the quattrocento found expression in all its energy, manhood, and defiant strength. This tendency towards the powerful was now followed by an artistic trend, more feminine in character; and the distinguished delicacy and silent melancholy which beams from the eye of Goes’s women now enters Florentine painting. In wholesome Italian art the fascinating charm of sickness appears. When suddenly all painters, as if by appointment, began to paint Tobias or the legend of the Blind Man Restored to Sight, it almost seems like homage to the great Fleming who opened their eyes and revealed to them new a beauty.

Alessio Baldovinetti was called by his training—for. he was a pupil of Domenico Veneziano—to take uv the new colouristic principles of the Netherlanders. Vasari describes him-as a Flemish miniature-painter: rivers,


et


hugo van der Goes 143


bridges, stones, grasses, fruits, paths, fields, villas, and palaces, all such things he painted after nature. In his Birth of Christ one can count the blades of straw and the roots of the ivy, the leaves of which are also painted true to nature, of deeper colour on the one side than on the other. One sees also a half-fallen house, the stones of which, weather-beaten by rain and frost, are covered with moss; a snake creeps along a wall. In fact, the group of shepherds in this picture, painted in the forecourt of Santa Annunziata, leaves no doubt that he was familiar with Goes’s altar-piece. Not only in his gleaming colour did he follow the refined Fleming. Some of his pictures, like the Annunciation and the Madonna in the Duchatel collection, formerly ascribed to Piero della Francesca, characterise him as a delicate painter of women, who transformed the feminine trend of Goes (which likewise ran through the works of Domenico Veneziano) into an almost affected grace. In the last named painting the landscape also contributes a strange, romantic charm.

To ascribe this group to Verrocchio, the great sculptor in bronze, seems uncalled-for. For he is known as the artist who created in his Colleoni the most power- ful equestrian statue of the quattrocento, and as the master of the Baptism of Christ, a harsh, ascetic picture with the two nude sinewy bodies, which is generally used to contrast the “dry realism” of Verrocchio with the celestial tenderness of his pupil Leonardo. Yet at bottom Verrocchio was not a harsh.


VOL. I.—I10


144 ature and Antique


~ but agentle spirit. Although he conceived the Colleonz, it was no longer as a man who had himself, like Dona- tello, lived in the age of the condottier1, but as the survivor of a vanished age, for whom this Colleonz meant the “last knight’’—the symbol of a spur-clang- ing, heroically great past, to which the present looked up with sad astonishment. This thoughtful, dreamy present lives in the gracious head of his David, and in the dainty, almost coquettish pictures of the master, . who in his portrait looks into the world as quiet and thoughtful as a Florentine Giambellini, and in no respect resembles the wild and defiant race to which Donatello and Castagno belonged. Castagno’s Pippo Spano creates such a powerful impression because he wears his armour as unconcernedly as we a dressing gown. Verrocchio can only attain this impression artificially by adorning the armour of his hero with the serpents and heads of gorgons.

He may have received his first impressions from Mantegna, whom he approaches in the plastic finish of his figures. Well rounded bodies, tense lines, neat- ness and precision of outline, the greatest smoothness and finish of surfaces—everything that a good bronze cast should have he endeavours to reproduce. In addition to this he shows a goldsmith’s delicacy in the finish of accessories; every ornament, the golden em- broidery of the clothes as well as the dainty gauze veil which adorns Mary’s head, is painted with the most careful accuracy. Goes strengthened him in these


ugo van der Goes 145


colouristic tendencies. Verrocchio’s workshop was the first one in Florence where oil-painting was system- atically carried on. Under the influence of Goes, he also guided Florentine landscape painting into new paths. In contrast to the earlier Florentines, who had lost themselves in elaborate detail and caused the most distant objects to gleam in unbroken colours, Verrocchio had a taste for simple plains, which he depicted with certain plein air tendencies. His favourite hour was the twilight, when the trees stand out black from the light grey heaven and the cool moisture sinks over withered and dusty plains.

But even more characteristic of the impression of his pictures is the dainty grace which he endeavours to render in facial expression and motion. While the figures of Donatello and Castagno hold their hands wide open and extend the second finger, Verrocchio’s merely bend the little finger—a detail which alone is significant of the change of taste: there, energy; here, . an almost affected delicacy. Noli me tangere is the inscription upon his portrait of a girl in the Berlin Museum, which might also serve for Castagno’s portrait of Pippo Spano, though in a very different sense. Verrocchio himself felt what a delicate, fragile ideal he substituted for the mighty, powerful figures of the older masters. He was the first to depict the dainty putto in place of their robust, healthy children; to give to the features of the Madonna a touch of that soft, enchanting smile associated with Leonardo’s name.


146 ature and Antique


His picture Tobias in the Florentine Academy pro- bably contains. the quintessence of his work. This subtle, maidenly youth with the wavy locks, striding in minuet step through the landscape, with bands and sashes clinging and fluttering in the breeze, and raising with mannered grace his fine, aristocratic hands—such a figure clearly reveals that the ideal of beauty cherished by this new generation was directly the opposite of what their fathers had honoured.

If Verrocchio, in his own works, at least, reminds us of the powerful past, Piero Pollajuolo is quite an off- shoot of this new over-delicate age: as fine in feeling as he is weak, pale and dreamy; a Niels Lyhne of the quattrocento, oscillating between one master and an- other, and unable to stand without leaning in feminine devotion upon some stronger man. In his earliest work, the Coronation of the Virgin (1483). he is still dominated by his teacher Castagno, and attempts to be crude and powerful. But it is not in him to paint in this rugged fashion; and Hugo van der Goes furnished him an ideal more in accordance with his nature. The bearded man in his Three Kings is taken literally from the Flemish altar-piece. Like Baldovinetti, he then turned to colour and created the Annunciation of the Berlin Gallery, which in its deep glowing fire belongs to the greatest pictorial achievements of Florentine art. But he is most at home in those works in which he translates the dainti- ness of Verrocchio and the grace of Goes into an even


Doren3zo the Magnificent 147


greater effeminacy. He is especially fond of painting ‘limp, falling boot-legs—a symbol, by the way, of his own character. It seems as if the whole weariness of a sinking century weighed upon his small shoulders. A strange feeling of decadence exhales from these tender, languishing figures who are clothed so coquettishly, move their hands so affectedly, and so modestly tread the earth. Witness his David in Berlin, which might just as well have been painted by a modern Rosicrucian as by a son of the youthful quattrocento; or his Tobias in the Turin Gallery, with the nervous white lapdog and the mincing, affected beings, so timid, weakly, and over-delicate that they tremble at every noise. It might be said that this Tobias laying his little hand. upon the arm of a strong man is: Piero Pollajuolo himself, helpless the moment a stronger does not lead him. As he was fourteen years younger than his brother Antonio, one might think of the pampered helplessness of late-born children, if this soft, weary trait did not pervade the entire epoch. The strong were followed by the weak, the healthy by the nervous, and the conquerors by the weary aristocrats, wishing no longer to work but only to enjoy.


VIII.— The Age of Lorenzo the Magnificent

Lorenzo the Magnificent embodied in his personality the age in which he lived. After the elder Cosimo, the wise and able banker who had collected the riches of the house of Medici, came his grandson who enjoyed them. For Cosimo business stood in the foreground, and art was only a means of making an impression on the people. Lorenzo, who through his marriage with Clarice Orsini had invested their modern coat of arms with the lustre of an ancient house, was too much of the grand seigneur to soil his hands with money affairs. With him the patronage of art was an artistic predilection.

Reared in the midst of all the works of art which three generations of his family had collected, his eye was accustomed to the finest zesthetic enjoyment. He could suffer nothing ugly or plebeian about him; every object, whether it be furniture or ornament, gobelins or table furniture, must be a work of art, a jewel in itself. Festivals of costume, showy tournaments, and festal processions were arranged, because they disguised grey life with a brighter lustre. But not only the eye was delighted with the most costly enjoyment; a like cult was dedicated to all the senses. For the age of the Magnifico is also that of music and of love, of flowers and gastronomy.

A pronounced aristocratic tendency, a feeling of Odt profanum vulgus et arceo, pervaded the age. While Cosimo had endeavoured to be one of the people, Lorenzo is a solitary man. As in Barré’s novel Sous l'ceil des barbares, humanity is divided into two classes, the barbarians and the intelligent. The barbarians are all those who have to work and live a commonplace, every-day life; the intelligent are the chosen ones, the


Loren30 the Magnificent 149


élite of the spirit, the esthetic connoisseurs, who in the midst of the plebeian world create for themselves an artificial paradise, where they live in association with works of art and books which suit their exquisite taste. As in the day when Horace wrote Beatus ille qui procul negotits, country life is the ideal of the elect. Lorenzo seldom tarried in the city, but led, in his villas of Careggi, Caffagiolo, and Poggio a Cajano, the life of a country gentleman surrounded by choice spirits, who, like himself, considered themselves devotees of pure beauty. The Platonic Academy especially, founded by Cosimo de’ Medici, acquired a new importance under Lorenzo. Although it had formerly been dedicated to learned studies it now became a voluntary association of friends, who, as “brothers in Plato,”’ professed the cult of the senses and faith in the ancient gods of Greece. Christianity, as a universal religion, meant little to such esthetes. They were so epicurean in matters of form that the Bible repelled them, because “the style of Holy Writ was bad.’ They assembled in Lorenzo’s villa at Careggi, that charming building whose ruins even to-day are replete with the full charm of the early Renaissance. Wide, shadowy rows of columns surround a quiet court- yard in which a fountain dreamily patters, and from the windows of the high, graceful, simple rooms, the view extends over the blooming valley of the Arno and the hills of Fiesole adorned with villas, where pines and dark cypresses rise above grey olives and sun-


150 “fiature and Antique |


crowned laurel. To the clink of beakers and the music of the harp, they discussed Platonic dialogues or read new poems. If the heat was oppressive they fled into the woodland hills, as described by Landini in that passage so strangely recalling Boccaccio. They lay down in the silent coolness of the wood under lofty plantains; a brook rippled near by, and the view ex- tended to the sea shimmering in the distance. In this secluded solitude, into which the sound of no church bells penetrated, they forgot that they were Christians and believed themselves Greeks as they philosophised about the conception of human happiness.

The poems of Poliziano and Lorenzo are the chief literary works of this select circle. Although not replete with deep thought, they are full of grace, the poetry of souls thirsting after beauty and tuned to Arcadian repose; who have fled from Golgotha to Olympus, from the present into a distant Elysium. Poliziano wrote his Giostra, a mythological poem in praise of the tourna- ment which Giuliano de’ Medici, the elegant and chivalric leader of the gilded youth, had held in honour of his Simonetta; and Lorenzo dedicated sonnets full of tender infatuation to his beloved Lucrezia Donati. These sonnets curiously illumine the ideal of beauty of this over-refined age. For what he treasured in woman was not a wholesome and robust, but a suffering beauty of ethereal pallor and with deathly sick, enchanting eyes—the beauty of consumption, from which Simonetta died.


Loren30 the Magnificent 151i


The sentiment of Vergil’s Eclogues pervades his Nencia, the jests of a joyful carnival his lightly clad Cant: di ballo; and his Corinto, the love plaint of a shepherd, might have been written by a Greek idyllic poet and illustrated by Bocklin.’ Again and again he repeats the teaching of Horace to enjoy as long as one can enjoy, and the summons to live without whims and cares, to crown beakers and to enjoy life with song and dance; for so sounds the melancholy refrain: ‘One cannot know what the morrow will bring.”

In these works repose the thoughts to which painters gave pictorial form. No remembrance of the suffering Nazarene and of bleeding martyrs should bring a false note into this Arcadian blessedness; but only idyllic pictures of Hellenic mythology, pleasing to the senses, were suitable for the villas which these zsthetes erected as oases in the desert of every-day life. A quite new variety of Arcadian and bucolic painting was created. For all those pictures which Lorenzo had painted for his. villas, Signorelli’s Pan as well as Botticelli’s Spring and Birth of Venus, have nothing in com- mon with the antique which Mantegna cherished. The latter was a great scholar who by means of science transplanted himself into antiquity, and who by the most careful study of costume and arms sought to reconstruct the epoch in an archeological manner. The painters of Lorenzo’s circle might have done this also: for in the extensive gardens of San Marco whole rows of statues were erected along the avenues of trees,


152 Wature and Antique


and in the collections of Lorenzo hundreds of Greek vases and antique gems were preserved. What, however, they wished to depict was not the antique, but a Saturnian age, in which man, rejoicing in the senses, lived in unbroken joyful existence in blessed unity with nature. While Mantegna saw the antique world with the eyes of Menzel, they gazed at it as did Bécklin and Puvis de Chavannes. The land of the Greeks which the Paduan had sought with his intelligence, they sought with the soul, and would have said about Mantegna what Bécklin said of Menzel, “He is a great scholar.” On the one hand a clear and intelligent classicism, on the other a romanticism flying from actuality into a dreamy Hellas as to a blessed shore, to repose in the land of poesy, and afterwards bring home sweet sentiments and beautiful pictures.

As these works revealed the spiritual, so Ghirlan- dajo’s paintings reflect the external garb of the epoch. Although they seemingly portray biblical subjects, they are in truth only a glorification of a great age; when, as the inscription says, “Our most beautiful city of Florence, renowned for its riches, arts and buildings, lived in prosperity, health and peace.” The thought that he was painting biblical subjects never seems to have entered Ghirlandajo’s mind, in his commission from Lorenzo’s cousin Giovanni Tornabuoni to paint the cycle of frescoes in the choir of Santa Maria Novella. He paints only the world which he sees about him, and in the festal garment of pleasure. The Florence of


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those days in its sincerity, its distinguished renown and its nobility of culture is immortalised in these paint- ings. One witnesses the pompous display of ecclesias- tical pageantry, sees how marriages were celebrated, and is introduced into the lying-in room of a Florentine patrician lady. Other ladies with a worldly air, the créme of the Florentine aristrocacy, come to visit; very piquant with their irregular but delicate faces and their brocaded, dignified costume. Marble friezes, such as the Robbias had created, adorn the walls of the room. It must have been an event when all Florence streamed to see the portraits of these well known beauties, and to admire the ladies of the houses of Tornabuoni and Tornaquinci, Sassetti and Medici.

We must also thank Ghirlandajo for his faithfulness in portraying the culture of the age. It is his gift to us that the whole epoch stands so tangible and full of life before our eyes; and his pictures have the same interest as a lecture on the culture of the age of the Magnifico. But his artistic qualities also are impres- sive. While Gozzoli, who laboured in the same manner a generation earlier, did not rise above the level of a clever illustrator, in Ghirlandajo’s pictures there is a great historic trend. There, easy complacency; here, a clear, serious composition and monumental dignity. Whereas Gozzoli, with relief-like breadth, overloads his mural surfaces with such a number of details that one interferes with the other, with Ghirlandajo a simple, forceful space composition prevails. He has developed


154 Wature and Antique


Benozzo’s waggish chatter into a well-written oration, and clarified his naive juxtaposition of single episodes into a classical lapidary style.

On the other hand this change involves no great personal service on the part of Ghirlandajo. The reason for his superiority consists merely in the fact that while Gozzoli could only avail himself of the achievements of Masaccio, Uccello and Castagno, Ghirlandajo had at his disposal those of a wider period. He is a greater space composer, because Piero della Francesca had created the laws of space composition; more dignified and simpler because Pollajuolo had taught the Floren- tines a sense for monumental simplicity. His figures have a corporal and not a flat, geometrical effect, like those of Gozzoli, because Verrocchio had taught the methods of achieving plasticity of form. The cast of his draperies and the antique monuments and ornaments which he uses in the background and as decorative ac- cessories, are of a classical purity of style, because he had seen Rome, and because since the publication of Mantegna’s line engravings the study of draperies had been systematically carried on in Florence. Sometimes he even surprises us with intimate details, with flowers and animals—because Hugo van der Goes had awak- ened taste for these things. Ghirlandajo made use of the entire capital in art that the age had collected, and availed himself of everything that the great in- vestigators had established. While this raises him above Gozzoli, it also shows that Gozzoli signifies the


Lorenzo the Magnificent 185


termination of an epoch. For as often as an epoch of art approaches its end the éclaireurs are followed by the profiteurs, who, instead of attempting new things, merely collect what has been already achieved.

In other respects as well, no further progress was possible along the path taken by Ghirlandajo. How- ever much gratitude is due him for having transmitted with documentary fidelity a picture of that great age, it is nevertheless questionable whether the legends of John and Mary are a proper pretext for furnishing con- temporary fashion plates. Religious feeling is no longer to be found in his paintings; the last vestige of piety which the fourteenth century had retained is eliminated. Even the legend of St. Francis which Giotto had painted with such serious sublimity becomes in Ghirlandajo’s hands a representation of ecclesiastical ceremonies and architectural scenes. The Paul Vero- nese of the quattrocento, he has rendered biblical subjects in a more worldly style than any of his pre- decessors. While even in Gozzoli’s works there still exists a story-telling sentiment, a certain rustic patriarchal air suitable for biblical themes, with Ghirlandajo they have become social episodes of the salon and worldly representations of society. By his well-known expression of regret that, after he had acquired a mastery of this kind of art, he could not decorate the entire city walls of Florence, he has him- self betrayed how purely superficial his conception of his profession was.


156 ature and Antique


Although in his altar-pieces the translation of biblical into modern subjects is less conspicuous, they offer a logical commentary of this transformation. They are able, but prosaic, sober and crude. An experienced business man, he carried on the painting of altar- pieces as a factory owner would have done, never refusing a commission. This explains why his works possess neither psychic qualities nor colouristic charm. Glaring red and blue colours, fresh from the tube, stand side by side. Pictures which for Fiesole would have been soul-confessions are for Ghirlandajo articles of commerce, which he executes with the help of his apprentices, as well as may be, in his shop.

It is easy to understand how, in an age no longer possessing Christian ideals, whose choice spirits made pilgrimages into the land of the Hellenes, religious painting also acquired the same mundane or else a purely manufactured character. It is impressive to find a view of life which no longer recognised a Christian heaven expressing itself with such candour. But one also understands why, in consequence of the store of religious feeling which still existed, such an art as Ghirlandajo’s must be followed by the severest reaction.

Chapter II.— The Religious Reaction

I.— Savonarola

‘* Di doman non é certezza.”’


LORENZO himself had still to experience this. When at the close of his life he wrote his Laudz, a strange change had transformed him. The exuberant poet of the carnival songs discusses the gloomy problem of human fate, demands to know the wherefore of life, speaks of the evil hours of an inner void and of the pale terror that affrights the soul. It was in such a moment of inner void that he sent from his sick-bed in the Villa Careggi to the cloister of San Marco to summon the Domin- ican prior Girolamo Savonarola to console him and grant absolution. At the death-bed of the favourite of the Graces the great reformer stood long and silently—a gloomy, threatening phantom, transfixing the dying man with his eagle eye— then turned away and departed without granting absolution. 157


158 The Religious Reaction


The years of theocratic rule have now dawned. The Platonism of the aristocratic circles could not satisfy the feelings, and repletion reigned after the long intoxicating dream of beauty; a burning desire for salvation after earthly pleasures, and _ puritanical fanaticism after the cult of the senses and the pleasure- loving epicureanism of the past. Savanarola belonged to those rare men who come at the right hour. The same little monastery of San Marco, where in Fiesole’s time St. Antoninus had laboured, now became once more the bulwark of Christianity. The ideas of asceti- cism and renunciation which at that time only existed in narrow monastic circles were carried by Savonarola to the passionately excited masses. To the enticing ideals of antiquity, the siren song of sensual pleasure and of antique beauty, he opposed the power of a thousand years of ecclesiastical traditions and the gloomy passion of a religious life. As early as January, 1491, Savo- narola had begun his penitential sermons in Santa Maria del Fiore, and in a few months Florence was changed. Like a storm his inspired word fell upon the pleasure-loving masses. It seemed as if a prophet from on high had come down from heaven to call the luxurious city to penance and contrition. Ecclesiastical processions took the place of worldly festivals, and exuberant carnival songs were succeeded by spiritual hymns of praise. The number of his adherents in- creased daily. Even though the Pope threatened excommunication and the aristocratic circles raged


Savonarola 159


against the demagogue, with the cry “Viva Cristo” the electrified masses surged about, and dervish-like scenes reminding one of the processions of Flagellants in the middle ages began. The house of Medici no longer reigned; but Jesus Christ, populi Florentini decreto creatus, Was in proper person King and Lord Protector of Florence. The Auto da fé of vanities arranged for the carnival of 1497, probably marks the summit of his activity as an agitator. Thirteen hundred children, marching from house to house, demanded and collected the tinsel of this world. Silken clothes and musical instruments, carpets and editions of the Decamerone, antique authors and mythological pictures —all were piled into a high pyramid, and the smoke mounted to heaven. Women and maidens crowned with olive branches danced around the blazing pile in mystic ecstasy, offering rings, bracelets, or whatever ornaments they possessed to the flames. A dzmonic, hypnotic power must have proceeded from the great zealot; for even Miran- dola, the friend of the Magnifico, relates that he trembled and his hair stood on end, when listening to one of the fanatical sermons of the Dominican friar.

Against art too he hurled his ban: “Aristotle, who was a heathen, says in his Poetics that immodest figures should not be painted, lest children be corrupted by the sight. What shall I thensay to you, ye Christ- jan painters, who expose half-nude figures to the eye?


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160 The Religions Reaction


That is a thing of evil which must cease. But ye who possess such paintings, destroy them or paint them over and ye will then do a work pleasing to God and the Blessed Virgin.” As he thundered against the repre- sentation of the nude, so he protested against the introduction of contemporary portraits into religious paintings: “The figures which ye have painted in your church are the figures of your gods. Nevertheless, young people may say when they meet this or that person, ‘This is Magdalen, that is St. John.’ For the pictures of your wantons ye cause to be painted as saints in the churches, thus drag- ging that which is divine into the dust, and bring- ing vanity into the house of the Eternal One. Think ye that the Virgin Mary was so clothed as ye paint herP I say unto you, that she wore the clothes of the poor, but ye paint her as a woman of the streets.”

The injury done to art by this great ecclesiastical reaction, which changed the new Athens into a second Geneva, as intolerant as the capital of Calvin, has often been described. If the representations of the antique in the fifteenth century never progressed beyond beginnings, and the gods of Greece for whom Lorenzo prepared a home had again to flee from Italy, this is entirely due to the teaching of Savonarola. In consequence of his zeal against contemporary portraits and modern costume, the wholesome relation of art to life was lost. On the other hand, he offered a


Savonarola - 161


substitute for that which he destroyed and gave back to art what she had lost in the days of Lorenzo: her Christian ideals, which he showed in a light which made them seem to have become quite new. When in his sermons he speaks of the maternal love of Mary, of her timid prophetic soul, gazing with a pathetic glance into the future, when he describes-her as a som- nambulist living from day to day in painful anticipation of a coming fate, or represents her as a poor,-simple maiden unable to comprehend the mercy shown her in being the chosen of heaven—all these things reveal the far deeper ideal of the Madonna with which he inspired painters. ‘Beautiful alone is the beauty of the soul. Behold a pious person, whether man or woman, who is inspired of the Holy Ghost; observe him when he prays and a heavenly inspiration seizes him; then ye shall see the beauty of God beaming from his face, and his features will have the expression of an angel.” In such words a whole new programme for art was given. And the artists, each after his own fashion, took sides in regard to the preacher of penance. For one he was an evil demon, for another the Holy Ghost; this one he robbed of his ideals, that one he assisted to discover himself. Standing in the midst of these passionate disturbances, art also was shaken by the spiritual fever which streamed through the ‘veins of the whole people.


162 The Religious Reaction


II.— Piero di Cosimo

For Piero di Cosimo, Savonarola proved an evil genius; for he destroyed his world of fables and drove him from the enchanted domain which he had built for himself in gleaming splendour: where fabulous beings glided through the air; where stately knights and captive princesses, three-headed gaints, and enchanted heathen deities frightened and loved, fought and teased each other. If any one, then, Piero di Cosimo is the true child of the age of the Magnifico, the kindred spirit of those bucolic poets who played with the ancient myths with such a coy and gracious charm.

Although usually accounted a pupil of the dull and clumsy Cosimo Roselli, he was in reality a follower of Hugo van der Goes. From him he acquired the sense of rusticity and of beautiful luminous colours, his taste for the intimate observation of plant and animal life, and his pleasure in sunlight playing upon faces, flowers, and clothes. Especially characteristic for the Nether- landish spirit of his art is the Berlin picture of the Adoration of the Shepherds. No festal splendour, but rather a rustic charm pervades the representation. Mary folds her hands devoutly; a coarse-grained shepherd, with a little goat under his arm, raises his great greyish-yellow hat. A sunbeam strikes his weather-browned face, light brown coat, and bluish- gray hose. The landscape is simple and modest in


Piero di Cosimo 163


design, and bathed in even light; and the pale green or delicate yellow leaves of the lofty trees stand out daintily against the blue firmament. The rustic character of the picture is further heightened by a heap of vegetables, the thatched roof of the hut, and the powerful animals.

This primitive, yet confidential manner, which has nothing in common with the light elegance of the Italians, pervades also his other works. A Madonna in the Louvre looks more like a Dutch market woman than an Italian picture of the Virgin. A simple peasant woman in plain, homely clothes, she wears a striped light blue head-dress, tucked under her chin and knotted at the ends—a delightfully artistic motive which never occurs in Italian paintings. In the foreground a white dove and a book bound in red are arranged quite in the manner of Flemish still-life. In other paintings he is occupied with the analysis of light. Quite in the sense of Ghirlandajo he has given in his Magdalen the portrait of a richly dressed young lady. But this lady stands at the window, through which the sunlight floods the room, enveloping the figure in bright light; gleaming upon her cheeks, skipping over her hair, glimmering upon pearls and rubies, and refracting in a thousand colours upon her dark green dress. Other Flemish traits are the use of the three-quarter instead of the Italian profile view, and the still- life, consisting of salve-box, paper, and book, which he has grouped upon the window-sill. The window-


164 The Religious Reaction


sill is very skilfully used to exhibit the third dimension and to increase the plastic impression of space.

In other pictures again he charms by his close ob- servation of animal and vegetable life. In the Adoration of the Christ-child, painted for Lorenzo de’ Medici, a brooklet ripples over the pebbles; a starling sits near a tree trunk, and in the foreground flowers sparkle in the green grass of the meadow. There is hardly a picture of his in which animals do not occur; such as pigs, rabbits, or pigeons, ducks, cranes, or swans. He is everywhere recognisable by the botanical faithfulness with which he paints palm and olive trees, clusters of myrtle, heads of grain, tulips, primroses, and daisies. Yet, with all this richness of detail, his landscapes are impressive by reason of their broad and distant views and their mighty simple line. One feels that he did not adorn nature, as the earlier painters had done, but, like Goes, portrayed her as a simple analyser.

The impression made by his paintings is confirmed by what we know of his life. Vasari relates that he always locked himself in his workshop and would not permit others to see him paint; which shows to what extent he considered himself a technical experimenter, and was conscious that he had discovered Goes’s secrets of colour, which he wished to preserve as his own property—just as Leonardo used backhand writing in order to guard his manuscripts from unwelcome eyes.


Piero di Cosimo 165


Vasari further relates that Piero would not suffer any one to cut the fruit in his garden, but let the grape vines grow wild, maintaining that we should let nature take her own course rather than endeavour to make something else out of her. This reminds us of Bous- seau’s theory that everything is good just as it has sprung from the lap of nature, the mother of all, and at the same time shows the cause of the realism of his landscapes, which also reproduce nature without “desecrating by improvement.” It is further related that Piero lived only on eggs; and even this abstinence, seemingly the caprice of an eccentric spirit, is closely connected with the pantheistic views of the master, who was such a friendly observer of animals, and, after Goes, created the first important animal-pieces in modern art.

But this habit of intimate observation is only one side of Piero’s nature; hand in hand with it goes a trend towards the fantastic. The same man who observed nature with such a bright and acute eye also listened for the sound of lost melodies, soft and low. Weird beings appeared to him, fantastic yet serious; and the figures of the legends, mounted upon strange animals, glide through space. A fabulous hippogriff carries him into lost worlds of beauty, to Greece, the Orient, and Utopia. “This youth,’ says Vasari, “was blessed by nature with much intelligence and was very different in his strange notions from the other young people who worked at the same time with Cosimo Roselli. Often when he wished to relate something it seemed as if he suddenly no longer knew what he was talking about, and he had to begin anew because his mind had in the meanwhile become occupied with quite different things. At the same time he was so fond of solitude that he only felt comfortable when he could go about alone, devoting himself to fantastic thoughts and building air castles.”’! From this and the succeeding description it is evident that, long before Leonardo, he had followed the advice which the latter gave to young artists in his treatise on painting: “If thou hast a situation to invent, thou canst behold strange things in clouds and weather-beaten walls: beautiful landscapes adorned with mountains, views, cliffs, trees, great plains, valleys, and hills. Thou canst see all kinds of battles there, dramatic positions, strange figures, faces, and clothes. In viewing such walls and mixtures the same thing occurs as in listening to the sound of bells, in the peals of which thou wilt again find every name and every word which thou dost imagine.”

Piero’s talent for the fantastic revealed itself earliest in the carnival processions which he arranged for the aristocratic young gentlemen of Florence. Vasari relates that he designed entire triumphal processions, with music and verses which had been made for this purpose. There were men on horseback and on foot


While the author’s translation of Vasari is not a literal one, it embodies the entire sense of the original in better and briefer form.—Epb.


Piero df Cosimo 167


and everything was of incredible pomp, the clothes corresponding strictly with the picture represented. It was beautiful to see at night about thirty horses mounted by knights in magnificent costumes, each one attended by six or eight pages, lance in hand, and then the triumphal chariot adorned with trophies and fantastic ornaments. Ata time when painting was still practically confined to the traditional religious sub- jects, fantasies could only find vent in such ephemeral representations. Through the journey to Rome, which in 1482 he made in company with his teacher Roselli, this trend towards the fantastic was guided into a firm course. The radiant and wonderful antique world and the charm of the ancient legend were revealed to him. His imagination, which formerly had not known how to occupy itself or what course to take, now found a sure aim. The antique world was for him a lost, en- chanted kingdom, where witchcraft and love, adventure and knighthood reigned. He leads us into the deep forest where satyrs and nymphs dwell; to the seashore where courageous knights fight against dragons to release captive princesses. Sometimes the prevail- ing note of his pictures is the coy, jesting tone which laughs from Boccaccio’s Genealogia Deorum ; at others the romantic longing which echoes from the verses of the Magnifico; then again a_ very modern feeling, reminding of Lohengrin or Nickel- mann.

Like an antique legend set to Offenbach’s music is the


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effect of his picture which, following Poliziano’s Silvae, portrays the Finding of Hylas. A nymph has found the handsome youth, the favourite of Hercules, in a flowery meadow; and like dogs scenting the game all the maidens hurry to the scene to admire the nude boy. Each one wants him for herself. One brings him flowers, another fruits, a third a little dog; another is so fascinated with the sight that, stopping with wide-spread limbs, her hands on her thighs, she stares at the lad like one crazed and in her excitement drops all the flowers. The fat Tritons, gazing on the bathing Naiads in Bécklin’s Play of the Waves do not look more astonished than Piero’s nymphs. His Venus and Mars in Berlin is a shepherd’s idyl of mischievous charm. Cupids play with the armour of Mars, and doves lock bills; a red butterfly has lighted on the knee of Venus, and a little rabbit nestling to her intelligently pricks its ears, as if sniffing the perfume of her body. In the picture of the Liberation of Andromeda, Perseus, with yellow cuirass, blue tabard, fluttering sash, and red hose, flies through the air like a burlesque Lohengrin, and the dragon clumsily coils itself like a primeval Fafner.

According to Vasari, Piero for a long time laboured exclusively with such subjects. He had found the true direction for his activity, and was inexhaustible in the invention of fabulous monsters and strange hobgoblins. Centaurs and satyrs storm about, Lapithze struggle, and Prometheus brings down fire from


Piero dt Cosimo 169


~~


heaven. In his fantasy the whole space of the earth is peopled with spirits, and the air with legions of strange beings. It seemed as if, after a thousand years slumber, old Pan had awakened again. Probably the most beauti- ful of these subjects is the Dead Procris in London, a lovely ideal of Bocklinesque charm. Her tender body lies upon a sweet-scented, blooming meadow, and a faun kneels beside her, unable to believe that the daughter of Erechtheus is dead. Silently he bends over, seeking to raise her head, and glances into her eyes. The picture is pervaded by a romantic Hellen- ism and a deep melancholy. Not only the dog, her faithful guardian, sitting near, but the very landscape mourns; like the branches of a weeping willow the shrubbery hangs down. Piero, the merry knave, has become serious and thoughtful: one almost believes that in the mourning faun he has painted himself, and in the dead Procris his art.

For when the penitential sermons of Savonarola thundered, it was all over with the joyful fables. Gay antiquity was again followed by the gloomy middle age, and merry sensual pleasure by sanguinary asceticism. Although he even tried it for a time, Piero, the heathen, could not accommodate himself to the change. The Holy Family in Dresden is probably his first concession to the Dominican. His landscape, formerly flowery, has become rocky and desolate, and bare trees stretch their branches towards heaven. St. John, formerly the playfellow of the Christ-child, now timidly


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approaches him with the cross; mighty angels’ wings, indistinct as clouds, spread over the landscape. In the Immaculate Conception of the Florentine Academy he even rises to a great achievement in the sense of the new spiritualism. The very theme shows the spirit of the Counter-reformation casting its shadow before, being the first representation of the incident to the glorification of which Murillo afterwards dedicated his art. In this painting the heads are full of ecstatic devotion, and he has actually succeeded in attaining the pitch of religious excitement which thrilled the age. But this excitement did not last long. Although he lived to paint many religious pictures, his personality was lost. At one time it is Signorelli, at another Leonardo or Fra Bartolommeo whom he imitates, and he feels that his labour is forced. The moment he no longer expresses himself he is no longer the peer of the others. He begins his panels in discouragement, to end them either in a forced manner or not at all. Under the pretext of painting portraits he occasionally ventures upon a modest excursion into his old domain: like his uncanny Cleopatra, the nude woman with the oriental shawl, about whose necklace a greenish-yellow snake is curled. But one feels that a man in whose soul a chord had snapped painted this picture; so shrill is the dissonance between the tropical, exuberant char- acter of Cleopatra and the desolate hungry landscape with the withered trees presented as a background; so devilish is the contrast between this pale profile


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Piero di Cosimo 171


and black masses of clouds which gather behind it. The portraits of the musician Francesco Giamberti and the architect Giuliano da Sangallo at the Hague also belong to this period. They were surely no commissions, but the portraits of friends; embittered people with whom he, like Gottfried Keller, associated in the evening over a fiasco of Chianti, to denounce the change of times: Giuliano gazing with dull, imbecile eye, and the other a toothless old idealist, who has angrily cocked his great cap over one ear. The land- scape is so little suitable to the allegorical accessories, that one would imagine he had painted these heads over previous landscape studies.

The life-blood of his art had been sapped by Savo- narola. The Christian ideals which had again become omnipotent left no room for fantasy. The figures of the saints had again to be painted in accordance with the strict canons that had for centuries prevailed. But once more his old pleasure in carnival processions awakened, and he resolved to express himself freely in mummeries. The carnival procession which he de- signed in 1507 brought for the last time his name on every tongue. But what had Savonarola made of the jolly Piero! The procession exhibited, as Vasari relates, ‘the triumphant chariot of Death drawn by buffaloes, quite black and painted with bones and white crosses. The figure of Death, scythe in hand, was seated upon it, and coffins followed. When the procession paused and sang, the lids of the coffins


172 The Religious Reaction


opened, and skeletons appeared’ wrapped in black grave-clothes upon which the bones and ribs had been painted so naturally that one shuddered to behold it. Then shrill trumpet blasts sounded, at which the dead half arose from their coffins, sat up and with wailing voices sang: ‘Dolor, pianto e penitenzia.’ Behind the chariot dead men rode upon horses which he had carefully selected from the leanest in the city. Upon the black covers, white crosses were painted. Every man had four pages, who were also dressed as dead, carrying in their hands black lances and great black standards adorned with crosses and death heads. Other corpses, clad in black cloth, marched: beside the chariot singing with wailing voices, ‘Miserere mei, deus.’”’

Although he lived ten years longer noone was heard to speak of Piero after this. He even dismissed his pupils. He painted many pictures, like the representa- tion from the Legend of Andromeda in the Uffizi, but they were only works executed to kill time; joyless repetitions, drawn with trembling hand, of that which he had portrayed with such charming spirit in his youth. When it rained he would go out into the street to ob- serve how the raindrops sprinkled the earth: such, he said, was human fate. When a storm came he would sit in the corner of the room, trembling as if pursued by spirits. Misanthropic, friendless, and neglected, he lived on, a fantastic without means of existence, awaiting death. Only when he heard the church bells


Botticellt 173


and the chant of priests he would awaken from his apathy and angrily clench his fists; for church bells and priests’ chants had killed his art. One morning he was found dead on the doorstep.

III.— Botticelli

Botticelli was affected in quite a different way by the tragedy of Savonarola. Indeed, considering his youthful works, it might seem that the religious revival should be traced to him rather than to the preacher of San Marco. For what Savonarola preached, Botti- celli had previously painted.

His youth fell in the age which was tired of dreaming and wished only to investigate and observe. Fra Filippo, the jolly Carmelite, was his first teacher, and after he had left Florence he attached himself to the great technicians Verrocchio and Pollajuolo, from whom he learned colour, anatomy, and perspective. But even his early works show that he used the forms derived from his teachers to express a sentiment quite different from theirs. In the midst of a time without spiritual tendencies, Botticelli penetrated anew the unfathomable depths of religious emotion; and among a group of realists he stands alone as a mystic enthusi- ast in a world apart from the rest. The joy in nature and the laughing optimism of the others he confronted, even at that time, with the solemn ecclesiasticism of the middle age, painting pictures which were a protest of a dreamy and sensitive soul against the prosaic


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objectivity reigning about him. The works of the older painters are sensible, sober, and clear, his are full of ecstatic emotion and dreams; a romanticism which, longing for the home of the soul, flies back to the middle age, strong in belief, and weaves about it all the charms of mysticism.

Three pictures in the Uffizi—La Fortezza, a small Judith, and the Finding of the Body of Holofernes—and also the St. Sebastian in the Berlin Gallery show how, beginning as a pupil of Pollajuolo, he nevertheless differed from him in the soft, melancholy trend of his art. Similarly, while strictly following in several Madonnas the types of his teachers, he differs from them in that he never introduces genre subjects or jolly episodes, but conceives his paintings as the bearers of symbolic thoughts. The Madonna looks thoughtfully upon the crown of thorns and the nails, which the Christ-child innocently, unsuspectingly holds, or else a curly-haired angel offers her grapes and ears of wheat, the symbol of the sacrifice. In the place of the fresh worldliness of Fra Filippo, Botticelli’s works reveal the presence of a mystic and transcendental, a solemn and sacramental element. While the realists in their Madonnas portray the joys of motherhood, Botticelli’s know no joy whatever. Mary appears gloomy and lost in thought, as if, even when she presses the Christ- child to her bosom, a foreboding of coming suffering casts its shadow over her soul. But generally the artist quite removes her into the heavenly spheres,


Botticelli 175


and he is more solemn and effective with the medizval theme of the Queen of Heaven. Saintly men, solemn and severe as Direr’s Four Apostles, assemble, like the protectors of the Holy Grail, around her throne; or else angels draw back the curtains of the baldachin and place the crown upon her head. In these paintings, so different in their solemn contemplative feeling from the joyful prosaic art of Filippo, his teacher, all re- miniscences of earlier forms have also disappeared. A new type of the Madonna, independently created by Botticelli, enters the domain of art. She is no longer the mother, but a pale, thoughtful maiden, who seems only to be in the world to pine away like an unopened bud, and of such a silent melancholy as if the end of the earth were nigh. No joy in life, no sunshine and no hope is left. Pale and quivering are her lips, and a tired, world-weary expression plays about her mouth. In the eyes of the Christ-child, too, a secret dawns, as if foreboding the purpose for which it was chosen, This is no playful child, but the Saviour of the world, solemnly blessing or looking thoughtfully upward as if under an inspiration. Even the angels, unlike Fra Filippo’s self-willed boys, here performed their office in contemplative solemnity; not playfellows of the Christ-child but prophetic beings, who gaze with deep pity upon the world of sorrows, and dedicate with longing devotion and timid hesitation their services to the Son of God.

~ In the manner, also, in which he treats costume and


VOL. 1.12


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uses flowers to heighten the sentiment, he has more in common with the trecento than with his realistic con- temporaries. Instead of clothing the Madonna in the fashionable costume of the day, he envelops her in a great mantle, decked with flowers and adorned with gold and lace, which alone suffices to give the impression of elaborate solemnity. For the clothing of the angels he reverts to the Greek chiton, to which he adds articles selected from the ancient ecclesiastical garb: the alb, stole, and amice. Entire still-life scenes, composed of fruits and flowers, and artistic niches of cypress branches and thick palm leaves envelop the figures; and the angels press forward bedecked with wreaths of roses, bearing vases, candles, and lily stalks. He only needs to apply the brush, and we are transported into a wide and lofty cathedral where the odor of incense mounts to heaven and a thousand great white candles flicker. We see solemn processions with flower-decked baldachins marching across the floor strewn with roses, and hear the silvery voices of children singing the praises of the Infinite One.

The Magnificat, which, to the contemplative delight of thousands, hangs in a gallery of honour in the Uffizi, and the Madonna of the Palms in the Berlin Museum are the most characteristic examples of such works. The former has such an unspeakable character of grandeur and sublimity that the beholder fancies he is listening to the mighty, solemn tones of an organ mingling with angel choirs. The word “Magnificat,”


SANDRO BOTTICELLI



THE MAGNIFICAT Ujfizt Gallery, Florence



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which the Madonna is writing, sounds through the whole painting. The Berlin picture owes to its floral decoration the solemn and festal effect. An arbour of palms, from the dark leaves of which. white blooming myrtle gleams, forms the vault above the pale, maidenly Mary, while the sweet perfume of roses, lilies, and in- numerable flowers fills the air about. The whole psychology of the perfume of flowers, which we are — so fond of claiming for the nineteenth century, was anticipated by Botticelli. All those rose-crowned angels approaching the Blessed One, bearing lighted candles wound about with flowers, or holding with hieratic stiffness the long stalks of lilies in their white trembling hands—while admiring them in the paintings of Burne-Jones, we often forget that they originated with Botticelli.

A fresco of this period, Sit. Augustine, in the church of Oganissanti, often shows how different his taste is from that of a realist. While in the pendant representing St. Jerome Ghirlandajo has simply at- tired an elderly Florentine gentleman as a saint, Bot- ticelli’s Augustine gazes with the eyes of a visionary into the distance, his hands pressed upon his breast, as if to control his excitement over the revelation which he has just received. His frescoes in the Sistine Chapel are no paintings, but learned discussions and interpretations of theological wisdom, hardly excelled in their severe dogmatism by the works of the Domini- can painters of the fourteenth century. In the midst


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of an art which hated everything symbolic, which depicted not thoughts but actualities, and which never wished to invent, but observe and relate, Botticelli stands alone as a thinker who has much in common with the art of the trecento, so rich in ideals, as with ' the heavy thoughtfulness of the German Cornelius.

That such a sensitive and impressionable mind could not remain untouched by the splendour of the antique world, is a matter of course. However little his style may have been influenced by the antique—for there is nothing less antique than these slender forms, these restless, ruffled and puffed draperies—his back- grounds, nevertheless, betray the enthusiasm with which he studied the remains of antiquity. From the time of his stay at Rome, ancient buildings, sculptures, and gems occur frequently in his works. In one of his frescoes of the Sistine Chapel he has painted the arch of Constantine and in the background of another the group of the Disocuri of the Quirinal. The portrait of a young girl in the Frankfort Museum wears as a necklace an antique gem carved with the images of Apollo and Marsyas. At that time every heathen temple and triumphal arch had a particular legend; and it was just this mystery enveloping the antique which attracted a dreamer and a brooder like Botticelli.

When he returned to Florence the harvest of human- ism was ripe. He entered the circles of the zsthetes collected about the Magnifico, and was for several


Botticello 170


years a guest in Lorenzo’s house, dining at his table. Most of his mythological pictures were painted for the Villa Careggi. It is principally of these works, painted for the Medici, that we think when Botticelli’s name is mentioned. Everybody knows that from these entrancing paintings is wafted a perfume of youth, purity, and grace, identifying Botticelli himself with the springtime which in the principal one he glorified. In his Pallas the head of the goddess, with its soft full outlines and long wavy hair, is of such radiant beauty and so different from the harsh type of Simonetta, which usually recurs in his works, that one thinks of the transcendental sweetness of Leonardo da Vinci. In the figures of his remaining paintings the grace of slenderness prevails, together with a certain dreamy and transfigured expression which heightens the mysterious effect. If his Birth of Venus had been painted thirty years later by the clever decorators of Rome or Venice, they would have painted geniuses fluttering through the air, gods reclining in the clouds, and all Olympus in a state of commotion, and the result would have been a picture like Raphael’s Triumph of Galatea. Botticelli, on the other hand, develops the sentiment from the landscape, the wide and endless ocean, upon whose quietly rippling waves the Cyprian goddess is wafted like a fair dreamland picture. The ringing of bells, the song of voices, and the rustling of garments is in the air; a longing, dreamy feeling pervades the entire earth.


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A midsummer night’s dream has taken form in his Primavera, with its nymph-like graceful beings which seem like an anticipation of Bécklin. Botticelli was the first to see the elves dance. Slender Dryads who housed in a thicket of the wood beside bubbling springs, have come to take part in the dance of spring. It is wonderful how in these paintings also he uses flowers to enhance the effect. Olive branches encircle Pallas and crown her head, and in the Birth of Venus the mantle of the Hour is decked with flowers of spring, and the wind god strews roses in the air. Inthe Pri. mavera oranges and myrtlesshimmer; golden fruits and white blossoms gleam from the dark foliage.’ Like the Sleeping Beauty of the fable, Primavera is enveloped with wild roses; flowers of the meadow encompass her neck; blue cornflowers and white primroses are en- twined in her fair hair. Buds of the springtime, anemones, tulips, and narcissus, she lightly scatters over the earth. Botticelli appears as a_ perfectly charming mannerist in his treatment of draperies, these transparent veils and fluttering bands. None before him used such fine gauze draperies, clinging tightly to the limbs and clearly revealing the flower- like forms.

And yet, however magically beautiful these pictures


1The Birth of Venus is now in the Florentine Academy, and Primavera 3s in the Uffizi Gallery. In an excellent monograph, Geburt der Venus und Friihling (Hamburg and Leipzig, 1893), Dr. Warburg has shown that the latter picture was painted after a poem by Poliziano, entitled the Realm of Venus which is also the more correct title for the painting. —Ep.


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Botticello 181


are, even though they be the finest survivals of that glorious day in which the gods of Greece were called from exile, there is nevertheless something lacking, a dissonance between the joyous fables which he relates and the style in which he does it. The poetry of Lorenzo il Magnifico and of Poliziano, which gave the inspiration for these works, is pervaded by the love of pleasure and an epicurean joyfulness; it is a poesy of sensual Arcadian souls who have quite forgotten that they are Christians. Botticelli’s paintings, on the other hand, possessed nothing of this bucolic repose, nothing of the joyful fable and the quaint charm which pervades those of Piero di Cosimo. That he could not laugh is clearly shown where he forces himself to do so—in such an example as Mars and Venus in the National Gallery (London). A beautiful woman, a nude youth, cupids, a southern landscape, thin draperies, and glittering accessories—such are the elements of the picture; and. yet the impression does not correspond with them. Mars resembles the cruci- fied Saviour; his mouth is distorted by pain, and he does not sleep, but breathes heavily as if oppressed by a nightmare. Equally unpleasant, with a cold mur- derous glance like Klinger’s bust of Salome, Venus looks upon the sleeping hero. Is this the bliss which the im- mortal gods enjoy in heavenly repose? Is this the love-goddess of the HellenesP Even when Botticelli ventures to paint her nude, there is something ghostly about her, staring with green eyes, like a mermaid,


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into the infinite, or with a melancholy smile pervading her trembling lips. Far from resembling the joyous mistress of the war-god, she is rather like the red-haired she-devil of the middle age, passing in her exile by the cross upon which the Son of Man hangs crucified. A weary dreaminess or a resigned sadness is characteristic of all of his figures. It seems as if these women were about to enter the con- vent to do penance for their sins of the flesh. The classic clearness of heathen mythology is combined with a Catholic mysticism; a breath of monkish asceticism represses joy.

Botticelli did not feel himself at home in the Hill of Venus. It seemed as if he had been followed by the thought of a purer ideal, the chaste Mary to whom he sang his first hymns. With all the filaments of his soul rooted in the middle age, he shuddered at the heathen enthusiasm which for a time beclouded his soul like a delirium. His pictures of the antique world seem to have been painted as if with hesitation, as if an unseen hand held him back. From the last of them, Calumny, after Lucian’s description of a painting by Apelles, and now in the Uffizi Gallery, a shrill cry of despair sounds. An action stormy beyond measure, the restlessness of fluttering garments, and a wild, uncanny expression of countenance appear in place of his usual quiet beauty of line and repressed melancholy. One feels that a man shattered by physical discontent painted this almost insane picture.


Botticelli 183


Most terrible of all is the figure of Repentance, an emaciated, grief-stricken old woman, clothed in torn mourning garments, who, stretching her bloodless, spider-like fingers, totters forward, timid and trem- bling. Botticelli regretted his tarrying in the Hill of Venus. But what power could lead him back into the community of the pure, him, the Christian, who had sacrificed to strange gods! In this frame of mind, he painted The Outcast,’ a work which stands alone in the entire art of the century, and could only originate because inconsolable suffering in the heart of an artist cried out, with elemental power, for expression. Before the locked portal of a Renaissance palace sits a maiden lightly clad. She has followed her own vagrant fancy, and now that the morning has dawned, and she wishes to return to her father’s house, the door is locked. Trembling from the frost and sobbing bitterly, she buries her face in her hands, and her body writhes in deepest woe; but all her wailing avails not to open the locked portal. Botticelli himself, like Tannhauser, found redemption: it was Savonarola who again opened to him the gate of salvation. The prophet’s voice of thunder which frightened others only told him what as a youth he had long ago felt. All his youthful dreams, the most secret emotions of his soul, were expressed in words, and the time of his first romantic attachment seemed to return. Inspired and supported by Savonarola,


1In the collection of Prince Pallavincini at Rome, —Eb,


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Botticelli’s art received a powerful impulse. Forever forgetting Venus, the witch, and with a devotion all the more glowing and stormy because united with repentance, he sank at the feet of the object of his youthful worship, Mary, the mother of God. The three Hours, who in Primavera with clasped hands tread a measure, are changed into theological virtues, escorting in joyful dance the triumphant chariot of the church. Not until this work is the whole power of the master revealed. Savonarola had touched his lips and the timid, hesitating, dreamy Botticelli had himself become a prophet, who with glowing enthusiasm and loud pathos preached the return to asceticism and to the Christian doctrine of salvation. No longer do his figures glance at us with beseeching sadness, but they seem to exhort and to warm.

The difference between his late and his earlier Madonnas consists in the much greater emphasis upon the gloomy and solemn character of the devotional picture. As he changed the youthful, deeply reflective mother of God into a thoughtful sibyl to whose prophetic glance the future lies revealed, so his angels became deeply earnest, sad and tired beings, staring with wide-open eyes as if into an abyss. Sometimes Mary, as if she had suddenly awakened from an awful dream, embraces the child with a stormy fervour; or she passes by absorbed in thought like a somnambulist, mechanically holding the Christ-child, who with equal sadness bends over to John. As the mother is con-


Botticelli 185


vulsed by a silent woe, so the child feels the whole weight of an unavoidable destiny resting upon him. To Savonarola’s influence also is to be attributed the emphasis which in other altar-pieces he places upon the maidenly, modest character of the Virgin. The most costly objects, glittering stuffs, gleaming marble and grey granite are heaped up; and men in all the pomp of earthly splendour have assembled as a guard of honour around the imposing throne. But upon this throne, barefooted and in the black garb of a matron, there sits a pale, timid, thoughtful maiden, who does not understand the homage paid her. Only Burne-Jones in his King Cophetua has with equal refinement depicted a similar contrast.

But Botticelli now struck even louder and more penetrating tones. While he had formerly only lived in gentle dreams, he struck in his last works the whole scale of human emotion; from the joyful dithyrambs of the angels, who in the Coronation of the Virgin dance, fly, flutter, and rush through the air, singing the praises of the Almighty and strewing flowers down upon the earth, to the mournful pathos in his picture of the Entombment of Christ.!. The sermon which Savonarola preached on Good Friday, 1494, to the breathless, tearful people is echoed in the gloomy, sobbing pathos of Botticelli’s works. One sees women sink into unconsciousness, dying of insane anguish, and men writhe with loud moaning. The painter of the Venus


1 Both of these paintings are in the Florentine Academy.


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has become the Jeremiah of the Renaissance. Instead of whispering, he thunders with the fanaticism of the convert; he struggles as if defending a great treasure, labours with such haste as though he feared that he would not be able to express what he had to say. More than two thirds of his work originated in these years of theocratic rule.

Then almost nothing more. The martyrdom of Savonarola was the funeral of Botticelli’s art. As the great figure of the prophet had held him above water, the fall of his hero robbed him of his power. After he had celebrated the memory of the martyr in the Adoration of the Kings (London), he laid down the brush, hardly fifty years old, but a brokenman. The illus- trations of Dante are almost the only evidence of his existence during the last decade of his life. “Being whimsical and eccentric,’’ relates Vasari, “he occupied himself with commenting on a certain part of Dante, illustrating the Inferno, and executing prints, over which he wasted much time, and, neglecting his proper occupation, he did not work, and thereby caused infinite disorder in his affairs.”’ In other words, the nedizval romanticist took refuge in his true spiritual home. In the mystic transcendental poetry of Dante, the great genius of the middle age, he sought to find a resting place for his afflicted soul. He buried himself in remote ideological speculations, in order to forget as much as possible the impious present, and sought to express in the language of art things which mock


Filippino Dippt 187


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at artistic reproductions; hoping to find in the mighty epic poem of the future world the quiet repose which he so entreatingly and hopelessly sought. But this work, too, he threw aside, discouraged. Brooding and devoted only to his dreams, lonely and lost in meditation, he lived on. Misery and poverty befell him. He had to walk about on crutches and would have died of starvation had not the Medici occasionally remembered him.

IV.— Filippino Lippi

Although the lives of the remaining painters were not changed into a tragedy, as were those of Piero di Cosimo and Botticelli, they also were unable to escape from the influence of the great Dominican. Externally the difference appeared in the completely changed subject of painting. In place of the genre paintings of the Madonna the devotional picture again appeared. The Madonna is majestically enthroned, no longer a richly dressed Florentine woman with coquettish little cap, but


1 Vasari’s story of Botticelli’s poverty and misery in old age, upon which the present account is based, is not confirmed by documentary evidence. In 1491, under Medicean rule, Botticelli, associated with Ghirlandajo, was in charge of the mosaic work of the Cathedral and competed in the plans for the fagade. According to the income-tax of 1498 he possessed a villa and vineyards outside of the gates of San Frediano; and in 1503 he was one of the commissioners consulted in regard to a location for Michelangelo’s David. In1510 his father was sufficiently wealthy to purchase a family vault in the church of Ognissanti, where Sandro lies buried.


188 — The Religious Reaction


the donna umile whom Savonarola had described, the poor hand-maiden of the Lord, her face trans- figured with silent sadness and a matron’s veil drawn over her head. Angels draw back a curtain or press forward in happy enthusiasm; with coquettish glance the saints gaze upward; the Christ-child no longer plays, but gives the blessing, and little St. John approaches him with a cross in his hand. As in the trecento, flowers and music are used to heighten the effect. The Adoration of the Kings and the Sujf- jerings of the Redeemer, His Crucifixion, Deposition, and Entombment, of which Savonarola had so often spoken, also occupy the artist. The usual custom of represent- ing Christ as beardless more frequently than was formerly done may be due to the fact that in the eyes of the artists, Savonarola himself seemed the Saviour. Visions, also, especially Mary appearing to various saints, or Christ to His mother or Magdalen, became as popular as in the times of the Counter- reformation. While the realist wished to know nothing of supernatural things, the miracle, “ Faith’s dearest child,” again enters into art. Only the manner in which the themes are treated differs in accordance with the temperament of the individual artist. Lorenzo di Credi followed the course of events in thoughtful silence. As his Annunciation in the Uffizi and his Adoration of the Shepherds in the Academy show, he was a very lovable master, who-acquired a good colour sense and a delicate feeling for landscape


Filippino Dippt 189


in the workshop of Verrocchio and from Goes’s altar- piece. Then he also sacrificed to the gods of Greece and painted that Venus of the Uffizi, a work of Botticellj translated into Cranach. At the auto da fé of vanities on Carnival Tuesday in 1497, he as a modest, quiet man, would have found it discourteous not to have taken part; so with bold determination he threw all of his life studies into the flames, and began to paint the many mild and contemplative pictures which repre- sent him in all the galleries. In the midst of that temperamental, nervous race, Credi is the only one who had no nerves: a kind of Gerard Dou, who was lost in the stormy time. He prepared his own colours, and with a Dutch sense of cleanliness he was careful that no bit of dust dimmed the enamel-like smoothness of his paintings. His landscapes must be as clean as the room in which he labours: the sod well-trimmed, the gravel paths without weeds, the brook sparkling, and the sheep fresh-washed.

' He never exercises his intellect, but with incredible persistence continues to repeat all his life the same scenes. The Adoration of the Christ-child especially he treated in endless repetitions with a mild and friendly charm, too soft to be called melancholy, and with a childish, somewhat stupid piety, too phlegmatic to rise to passion. Even when, after Savonarola’s fall, taste again turned to other subjects, Credi did not permit his repose to be disturbed. He became a restorer of paintings, and finally bought himself a place in a


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hospital for old men, where, much esteemed by his fellow-citizens, he ended his days in contemplative peace.

A similar nature, only much more delicate and tired, was R, xellino del Garbo. With him everything fades into the perfume of flowers and music of mandolins. His circular painting of the Madonna at Berlin, in particular, has a fragrant, almost hypnotic effect. To the music of viols and flutes, angels have rocked the Christ-child to sleep; a dreamy silence rests over the earth, and the last sounds of the angel’s viol, dying quietly away, vibrate through the air; while the other angel, who has ceased playing the flute, gazes upon Mary as if lost in a dream.

Even more interesting is the attitude which Filippino Lippi, a thorough child of the world, takes towards the new events. It is a piquant coincidence that this son of the jolly monk and the former nun, the son of that light-hearted sensual period. which made a harem of the convent, was called to become the painter of rigid Dominicanism. And even more piquant is the clever and frivolous manner with which he dedicated his fascinating talent to the service of ideals quite indifferent to him.

To attempt to explain Filippino Lippi’s style would be love’s labour lost.. Whenever he so desires, he can imitate others to the point of illusion. At first he followed his teacher Botticelli, as whose double he appears in his youthful works. The wonderful picture


Filippino Lippi Ig1


of the Virgin Appearing to St. Bernard, which he painted for the Badia in 1480, might have been signed Botticelli. Like an aristocratic lady she gently approaches the saint, who almost lets his pen fall in astonishment when with her tender hand she couches his book. The altar-piece of the Virgin Mary in the Uffizi and another in Santo Spirito are further works reminding in their: quiet melancholy of Botticelli. He is equally delicate when, following Botticelli, he paints fantastic, allegorical pictures, like the Allegory of Music in Berlin, over which a dreamy far-away feeling broods.

Then came an abrupt change of scene, transforming Botticelli’s double to Masaccio’s. He was twenty-seven years of age when he received the commission to com- plete Masaccio’s cycle of frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel. The subjects were the Visit of Paul to Peter; the Release of Peter from Prison; Peter and Paul before the Proconsul; the Crucifixion of Peter, and the in- complete subject of the Razsing of the King’s Son. Truly, a style could not be imitated in a more virtuose fashion. During the sixty years intervening between Masaccio and Filippino Lippi a very different nervous

_life had come into the world. Nevertheless, Filippino Lippi wears the mask of the older master with the same self-possession with which he had formerly worn Botticelli’s. The solemn monumental style of Masaccio seems quite as natural to him as the emotional art of Botticelli.


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As a skilful prestidigitator he quickly adapted him- self to the style of the age of Savonarola, and thus at the close of the fifteenth century the Baroque style appears; like causes producing like effects. Under the impression of the sermons of Savonarola emotions had been raised to the fever pitch. The quiet objectivity of the old masters no longer sufficed; agitation and pathos were demanded; pictures which spoke in the same words of thunder which rolled from Savonarola’s lips. But the entirely modern trend of his talent, his. versatility and adaptability, enabled Filippino at once to satisfy these demands. As he had formerly imitated Botticelli and then Masaccio, he now adopted the religious style, with the versatile talent and the unbelieving indifference of a child of the world. He merely plays the tragedy which Botticelli lived. Just because he was not a convinced but only a disguised apostle, there enters into his art that affected theatrical quality adopted for the same reason by the Baroque in the seventeenth century.

The very theme of the frescoes which in 1493 he painted for the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome, shows that the spirit of Dominicanism had again entered as a power into the development of art. While the masters before Savanarola had treated simple and narrative themes from the legend of the saint, Filippino depicts an Apotheosis of St. Thomas Aquinas. In the pictures the same dogmatism prevails which a hundred years before had been the programme


Filippino Lippi =


of the Dominican paintings by Traini and the frescoes of the Spanish Chapel. Learned inscriptions, alle- gorical figures, Aignificant references to the heretics refuted by the Saint—things with which the realism of the quattrocenio had broken—are taken up anew. And as he had in his subject attached himself to the propagandist painting of the trecento, he also by his style paves the way for the art of the Jesuits. The simple, sustained narrative of Masaccio is followed by theatrical pathos. All the figures gesticulate and screw themselves into sanctimonious grimaces; the draperies are arranged in puffed and restless folds; and fluttering bands, sashes, and veils complete the Baroque effect. The architecture plays a suitable accompani- ment to the melody of the figures. In place of the delicacy of the quattrocento, wildly exaggerated and fantastic forms appear.

Before his last cycle, the frescoes of Santa Maria Novella in Florence (1498-1512) one stands speech- less as before an anachronism. Here also the theme of the painting, St. Philip Exorcising the Demon, is characteristic of the changed views. On a compli- cated pedestal stands Mars swinging a torch; while from a hole beneath the monument the demon crawls forth whom the apostle with a mighty gesture exorcises. Round about surges an excited, neryous crowd. In place of the quiet spectators of Ghirlandajo’s paint- ings, Filippino introduces actors, each one of whom plays a réle, explaining his theatrical pathos with


194 The Religious Reaction


corresponding gestures. Everything in this astonishing picture is movement and excitement. Even the cary- atids of the triumphal arch, the victories, hermaz and trophies, stretch themselves and grin; the gables rear and writhe, and all technical laws are broken. Bor- romini thus appears in art a hundred years before his birth. The non plus ultra, however, is the ceiling- decorations; angels fly about with the same aplomb that Correggio afterwards achieved. Noah resembles an ancient river god, while Abraham and Jacob reveal such breadth of treatment and such boldness in dra- peries and movement, and are encircled by such .im- possible bands and folds that one can do nothing but gaze in silent astonishment.

The same is true of his later panel-paintings. The heavy puffed draperies which encircle his Madonna are the same which Bernini gave his angels a hundred and fifty years later. In his last work, the Deposition from the Cross,in the Florentine Academy, the influ- ence of Savonarola is shown in the reversion to the golden backgrounds of the middle age, in the simple drapery, the desolate Golgotha with its skull, and the gloomy, mournful colour. More personally character- istic of Filippino are the Baroque angels, with draperies streaming in the clouds, and the fluttering sashes and bands which they wind about the goblet. The fifteenth and seventeenth centuries clasp hands. Had he died a generation later, instead of in 1504, he would be celebrated as the founder of the Baroque style.


The Secular Religious Masters 195

V.— The Secular Religions Masters

Savonarola’s influence was not confined to Florence alone, but throughout all Italy it guided art back into religious channels. It is certain that he did not alone create the religious reaction which at that time swept over Europe; for in him an explosion found vent, the materials for which were everywhere present. He was the speaking-tube of his time, proclaiming with loud voice what others had felt in silence. It was just for this reason that with his appearance a new section of the history of art begins.

At the close of the fifteenth century a similar feeling must have pervaded the earth to that experienced in the years when the triumphs of Courbet’s realism and Manet’s impressionism were succeeded by the enthu- siasm for Rossetti and Moreau, and the reaction of the Rosicrucians began. Realism was the product of a positive and worldly epoch which expressed itself in epic, never in lyric strains. A clear eye was considered sufficient, and feeling could be dispensed with. Pas- sionless and in the same attitude of science to nature, painting wished to conquer by means of the eye alone. Nature and the antique were the two powers which inspired their activity. “ Only one thing had been forgotten: Christianity. They knew nothing more of that longing for the future world which at the beginning of the century still pulsated in all hearts.


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Then there came, as in the nineteenth century, the moment when the long-suppressed inner life asserted itself, and feeling revolted against science. Not in Florence alone, but in all countries the narrators and investigators, whose eye was fixed clearly upon the objective world, were confronted by the lyricists and the dreamers, for whom art was only a means of express- ing the inner life. The realists were followed by the romanticists, who, tired of the decades of unbelieving investigators, longed for the fervent faith and the unselfish love which the middle age had professed.

True, there were still individuals who decorated the churches and palaces with narratives of the news of the day. During his sojourn in Constantinople, Gentile Bellini had ample opportunity to see many things that were ethnographically interesting, which he recorded in his sketch book; and after his return to his native city he illustrated in the same way the manners and usages of Venice. Festal processions approach; richly decked Venetians, dignified senators, and browned sons of the Orient in strange gaudy costumes move upon the pavement of the Piazzetta. The whole of Venice of the quattrocento, with its streets, squares, churches, and palaces; with the charming colour of the costumes of its inhabitants, collected from the Orient and the Occident, is preserved in his paintings with the faithfulness of a document and with the exactitude of a photographic apparatus. Of course it is at bottom immaterial who takes such photographical representations, which do


Tbe Secular Religions Masters 197


not rise above the level of painted illustrations. What was an actual achievement in Pisanello’s time was no longer one at the close of the century.

Gentile’s counterpart in Umbria was Pinturicchio, who left an amazing number of frescoes in Rome, Spello and Siena—paintings which may be described with the same words as those of Benozzi Gozzoli. Like the latter he is a merry narrator, who with great skill devotes himself to wordy descriptions of festal scenes and with great ease invents rich Renaissance buildings. Resplendent costumes, gaudy carpets before the throne, stately halls, and proud facades give his pictures a joyous, festal imprint. But as Gozzoli had achieved this effect as early as 1460, it was no achievement to repeat the performance in 1500, the less so as Pin- turicchio does not even excel his predecessor in technique. With the childishness of a miniature painter he places red, green, and blue side by side, as if the great technicians in colour had never existed. He never succeeds in seizing the dramatic elements of a scene, in connecting the figures with each other, or in bringing unity into the action. Nor does he understand how to arrange the figures in perspective, but places those of the background upon the heads of those in front. He seems to be a primitive who has survived in the sixteenth century. His position as the court painter of that Borgia who was instrumental in burning Savonarola shows how distant he stood from thé great ideals of the age. For in the case of Pinturicchio it


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could hardly be maintained that his was a conscious reversion to medieval miniature painting.

His works, therefore, as well as Gentile Bellini’s merely confirm the passing away of realism. The very scene of their activity is characteristic. Gentile laboured in Venice, which was always decades behind the artistic development of the rest of Italy; and while Pinturicchio succeeded in playing an important rdle in Perugia, Orvieto, Spello, Siena, and even in Rome, whose artistic activity had lagged behind, he never dared attempt Florence. In other words, whereas about the middle of the century the spirit of realism prevailed in all progressive cities, and religious art quietly survived chiefly in the country, the relation now is reversed. Precisely in the most modern city of Italy, in Florence, which had done the longest and most complete homage to realism, the signal for a complete change was earliest and most loudly sounded. After that, even in the remainder of Italy, the need for worldly pictures was supplied by illustrators of the second rank. The realists are no longer factors in the historical development, but stragglers who blessed unprogressive cities and small villages with doubtful artistic productions.

As with the contemporary historical painting and the presentation, also, of New Testament subjects in modern costume so it is all over with the antique. Although in the preceding epoch Padua had been the strong citadel of Hellenism, now even the heathen Mantegna


The Secular Religious Masters 199


flees as a repentant Christian to the foot of the cross. Savonarola had preached in the cities of northern Italy as well as in Florence. Did Mantegna hear him, or did the waves of the new religious revival which the Dominican had inspired indirectly reach him? Strange incidents are related of his last years. He, the Roman, the hard, implacable spirit, had a chapel built, in which, as a hermit, he daily practised contemplation. An antique bust of Faustina, the gem of his collection, which he had guarded as a precious treasure, he offered for sale to the Marchioness of Mantua, and his last works offer further proof of the great change in his spirit.

As in the case of Botticelli, the transition first reveals itself in his preference of allegorical to antique subjects. Especially, the picture he painted for Isabella d’ Este, showing Wisdom Expelling the Vices, is a strange pendant to Botticelli’s Calumny of Apelles. The whole is pervaded by a disagreeable torn and shattered feeling; and in the air, quite out of connection with the principal theme, a heavenly group appears. Finally, he refused altogether to work further upon the cycle, and his activity ceased in Christian representations of quite a different spirit from those he had painted during his heathen period.

‘Then he had painted Sebastian bound to an antique ruin, professing himself a Hellene in the Greek inscrip- tion, and had in a line engraving represented him as a Greek ephebos dying in his beauty. In the painting


200 The Religious Reaction


of the Franchetti collection in Venice, the beautiful youth has become an emaciated man, a suffering mortal whose features are furrowed by painful woe. “ Nil nisi divinum stabile est, cetera fumus,” the inscription reads. Formerly in painting Madonnas and Entomb- ments, the emotional content of the theme was in- different to him. He was attracted by the bronze-like beauty of sinewy bodies, the splendour of marble thrones and fruit garlands, and the stony appearance of the landscape. In the works which sound the last chord of his activity, the spirit of Christianity begins to animate the rigid stony objects. The clear-headed and carefully-weighing Mantegna becomes a lyricist and a wailing prophet. Sometimes his figures have a mild, thoughtful, and melancholy expression ; at others a passionate pathos, formerly confined within the steel corslet of Grecian rules of style, breaks forth with abrupt directness. The Christ-child is sad, almost weeping, and Mary, with foreboding of future suffering, thoughtfully bows her head. The altar-piece of the National Gallery in London and the Madonna della Victoria of the Louvre show this change with especial clearness. -The tones of the organ resound, festal niches of foliage arise; saints, no longer the sullen, reticent bronze beings of his earlier days, but fair- haired and ecstatic gather around the throne. The Christ-child, who in the altar-pieces of San Zeno in Verona sang so joyfully with the angels, now, solemn and shrinking, gives a melancholy blessing. Mary,


The Secular Religious Masters 201


formerly rigid and majestic, is now a pale and languish- ing maiden staring dreamily and sadly into vacancy, clothed as humbly as a beggar, the donna umile of Botticelli.

At the same time that the latter completed his grief-convulsed Entombment, Mantegna painted his. His feet in the foreground, the corpse of Christ appears in boldest foreshortening—a revival of Mantegna’s love of perspective. But who thinks of perspective in the presence of this sunken body, with the hands cramped together; of these old women whose wrinkled faces are contorted in nameless woe? From the contemporary line engraving of the same subject, the cry of despair sounds even wilder. In raving grief Magdalen bends over the corpse; Mary sinks into unconsciousness, and, loudly as a maniac, John cries his agony to heaven. The cold and reticent, classically severe Mantegna has through Savonarola become a Rogier van der Weyden. “Humani generis redemp- - tori” is inscribed in large letters upon the sarcophagus. To the same Saviour of mankind Mantegna’s last line engraving is dedicated. Christ, arisen from the grave and holding the banner of victory, stands blessing between Sts. Andrew and Longinus. The former, holding the cross in quiet confidence, is the saint for whom the artist is named; and the Roman warrior bowing his head so deeply, who, timid as a prodigal son, approaches the Saviour with folded hands, is Mantegna himself, the man .of the Renaissance seek-


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ing peace in the faith of Christ. In this print the tra- gedy of a life is summarised —the tragedy of the quaitrocento.


V.— Crivelli

Although at the beginning of the fifteenth century the middle age quietly passed away, its close witnessed a subtle and refined revival of all the medizval styles. Instead of going forward the artists looked backwards. “Le moyen-age énorme et délicat” is their spiritual home.

The reactionary tendencies are especially evident in Venice. The new religious current of the epoch en- abled its painters not only to hold fast with conserva- tive rigidity to the ideals of the early quattrocento, but once more to invoke the gloomy majesty of the By- zantine style. Although he lived until 1499, Bartol- ommeo Vivarini remains, in his austerity, a Paduan of the days of Squarcione. Rigid and in separate panels, as in Squarcione’s altar, his figures stand before us. The elevated marble thrones are adorned with statuettes of angels, stone ornaments, and with garlands of fruits and flowers. The figures of the saints are severe and ascetic, their features careworn or sullen, and their mighty brows are ploughed with deep furrows. The colour is gloomy and threatening, and the white, black, and yellow draperies gleam harshly from the golden background.

Carlo Crivelli does not appear to belong to the


Crivelli 203


fourteenth century at all, but to the pre-Giottesque period of Cimabue. In Huysmans’s A rebours there is a passage describing how Des Esseintes had the shell of a tortoise varnished with a gold glaze and set with rare and precious stones,—after which he placed it upon an oriental carpet and rejoiced in the glittering colour- effect. Carlo Crivelli’s paintings resemble this gilded tortoise: in their sparkling metallic splendour and icy reptilian coldness, they have at the same time an offensive and delicate, a revolting and attractive effect. Like the mosaicists of the middle age, he could not conceive a painting without rich and glittering orna- ments, applied (especially in the case of keys and -crowns) in the heavy style of-a relief. Like them his eyes were entranced with the sheen of fabrics, the sparkle of precious stones, and a quite barbaric material splendour. His saints wear the triple papal crown, their clothes are set with precious stones, and an amazing wealth of ornament adorns the frames. But he was not satisfied with keeping Grecian stoles, mass-vestments of gold fabric, and brocaded choir mantles, and setting the crosiers of his saints with transparent pearls of a glassy, piercing splendour. Even where ornaments do not belong, upon the sar- cophagus of Christ, for example, emeralds, rubies, topazes and gleaming amethysts sparkle, here a bluish-red, there sea-green in their chilling splendour. He loved the glittering products of the goldsmith’s art, the magic of slender goblets and pyxes; monstrances


204 The Religious Reaction |


of gilded copper in the Byzantine style; precious altar tables with engraved ornaments, and old quarto volumes clasped in silver. Even the gay plumage of birds must assist to heighten the splendour of his paintings, especially of peacocks, with tails gleaming in gold, green, blue, and silver.

Quite as medizval as this barbaric splendour of colour is the effect of his archaic drawing. The position of his Madonnas is as rigid as those of Cimabue; the colour of their faces is pale and corpse-like; their emaciated arms are bare to the elbow, and small and withered hands stretch out from their sleeves. Although in other altar-pieces of the day the donors are depicted equal in size to the saints and kneel in the midst of the chief painting, Crivelli reverted to the medizval custom of introducing them as pygmies quite outside of the composition.

Alongside of these Byzantine traits are Paduan and Umbrian tendencies. In the sweetness which he sometimes imparts to his Madonnas, he reminds us of Gentile da Fabriano; he comes in contact with the mystics of the trecento when he distinguishes the Christ- child as a fisher of men by placing a hook in his hand. Even a Netherlandish trait is thought to be observed in his manner of grouping pots and candlesticks, plates and glasses, carpets and cushions, bottles and vases as still life. His severe types of children and careworn old women are quite Paduan, reminding us of Schiavone and Zoppo; as are also the heavy garlands hanging over


CARLO CRIVELLI



MADONNA WITH SAINTS


Berlin Gallery



Crivelli 205


the rich marble throne, and the large peaches and stiff flowers scattered upon the ground. Quite Paduan is the pathos which pervades his presentation of the Pieta. Howling Megzras prostrate themselves over the corpse, a half-decayed, mouldering body, the skin of which hangs like leather from the ribs; great tear- drops run down the cheeks of the angels, and a con- vulsive pain distorts the figures and the features of the Redeemer.

But it is precisely in such paintings, where he weeps pathetically, that his cruel coldness is the more evident. Although he has sounded the entire gamut of emotion, from howling pain to affected ecstasy, the effect of his art is cold as ice. Even though his saints distort their lips with morbid gracefulness or in grotesque pain and weep hot tears, his works retain the petrified jewel-like effect of the mosaic style. Rigidly as exhumed corpses the men stare at us; cold and clear is the glance of the women, with their steel-blue, faience- like eyes. The very pottery which he heaps about, and the ugly, pale, confused landscape, over which such a strange greenish light shines, strengthen the cold, corpse-like effect. Only in his refinement of colour, in the subtle manner in which he takes up an- cient notes and combines them to new chords, and in the tortuous daintiness with which his women stretch out their nervous hands and crook their spider-like fingers, can we recognise the artist of the quattrocento, for whom this archaic style is not natural, but an


206 The Religious Reaction


~ artificial one chosen with conscious epicureanism.

We can also understand why just Crivelli was called to effect this strange revival of the middle age. For he was an aristocratic gentleman, and when in 1490 King Ferdinand of Naples raised him to the dignity of knighthood, he seems to have regarded this dis- tinction as the most important event of his life. From now on he represented St. Sebastian as a_ knight, and always signs himself eques. If he lived to-day he would belong not to the Liberal but to the extreme Conservative party. The most reactionary of all aristocratic Venice he conceived the idea of again proclaiming, at least in the country, the gospel of the mighty, unshaken medizval church—in all those little towns like Massa, Ripatransone, Ascoli, Camerino, and Fermo, whither neither worldliness nor ecclesiastical struggles had penetrated. Considering also that his belief was not a sincere one and that the distinguished Crivelli, himself a sort of Des Esseintes, only regarded Byzantine art as a source of zsthetic pleasure, and the old ecclesiastical ideals as so much perfumed golden tinsel—the character of his painting is evident. It is an artificial and affected art, playing in a cold-blooded manner with all the emotions of the heart; uniting childishness with mouldy decay, archaic severity with putrid decadence. . This perversity also explains why our own time has made a favorite of Crivelli. As latter-day beings burdened with a long past, for whom the art of our predecessors signifies zsthetic nature,


Perugino » 207


we love Crivelli, because the blue blood of the ancient and cultivated past flows through his veins; because, as a conscious abstracter of the quintessence of things, he chose the most dainty and the most precious in the past to form his bizarre style. We admire, because, in the midst of the world which had grown quite different, he resurrected such cruel visions and such fantastic apotheoses of a bygone time, and invoked in such an amazing manner the splendour of the middle age in its barbaric glory. We love him as we love Gustave Moreau, because his dainty, aristocratic and mannered style is the acme of refinement; and because his art is unknown to the masses for the very reason that it preserved these haughty and noble qualities.

VI. Perugino

An apparition like Crivelli was only possible in Byzantine Venice, whose aristocratic population had never loved a living art, but had preferred to collect only ancient and sparkling things, medals and cameos, mosaics, filigree work, and ivory. The following artist has the same relation to Crivelli as the Siennese, as Fiesole and Lochner, to the mosaic painters. As in Venice the ancient Byzantine style, so in Umbria the spirit of Francis of Assisi was revived anew. It is customary to deduce the mystic and dreamy traits of Umbrian art from the character of the country. While in a city like Florence a worldly and realistic art necessarily developed, only a lyric and elegiac art was


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possible in the isolated valleys of Umbria, where poor people, silently trusting in God, lived a contemplative life. But however convincing this may appear, styles of painting can only result from the prevailing spiritual factors of the epoch. At the same time that Umbria possessed a mystic painter in Gentile da Fabriano, Florence saw hers in Fiesole. At the same time that the great investigators, Uccello, Castagno and Pol- lajuolo, labored in Florence, Umbria produced the greatest of all investigators, Piero della Francesca, and later Melozzo and Signorelli. Among other Umbrians Benedetto Bonfigli, Fiorenzo di Lorenzo, and Niccol6 di Liberatore are still confirmed realists, knowing nothing of that emotional blessedness and sentimental ecstasy which came into Umbrian art through Perugino.

The latter, however, received his inspiration not in Umbria but in Florence. “Think not that Mary at the death of her Son went screaming through the streets, tearing her hair and acting like one possessed. She followed her Son with meekness and great hu- mility. She shed tears, indeed, but externally she did not appear sad—rather at the same time sad and joyful. Thus also she stood under the cross, sad and joyful at the same time and quite lost in contemplation of the secret of the great goodness of God.” These words of Savaronola were a revelation to Perugino: a joyful sadness, smiles among tears, is the prevailing sentiment of all of his pictures. Umbria added only


Perugino 209


the delicate charm of its landscape; the melancholy effect of a pale, delicate green, and the spare, quivering trees of spring, shivering and longingly stretching out their branches towards the sunlight.

In this dreamy melancholy Perugino is one of the most enchanting masters of the quattrocento. The reproach has been brought against him that his art was not in harmony with his character; that the painter of such mystic and supernatural work was a clear- headed and calculating business man, who repeated the joyful ecstasy of his saints in cold routine, merely to please the public. His one-sideness has also been dwelt upon; and it has been maintained that the con- ception of powerful and virile characters, as well as the lifelike representation of energetic action, was denied him; that instead of connecting his figures, he places them side by side, often so symmetrically that the left half of the painting corresponds with the right; and that, instead of differentiating them with reference to their character, he made all of them either boyish pages or meek and mild old men.

-Yet all of these peculiarities resulted as a logical consequence of the end he sought to attain. The contemplative and lyric character of his saints and the impression of sustained repose and archaic sublimity which he wished to create could only be attained by a composition which did not permit its quiet repose to be disturbed by hasty movement or changeful contrasts. For this reason he avoids variety in position; the


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figures either stand straddling or in affected daintiness upon the toes. The symmetrical arrangement of his paintings may also have been determined by the point of view that this arrangement best expressed the “divinity in the construction of nature’’—in accordance with the saying of St. Augustine: “Where order exists, there is beauty, and all order comes from God.” The feminine proclivities of his art he has in common with all mystics, the Siennese as well as the Cologne painters. Women (and also girlish youths and weary old men) are better suited to be bearers of the soft sentiment which he alone interprets.

Perugino’s adoption of Savonarola’s idea of joyful sadness is perhaps a_ specifically Umbrian trait. Whereas in the works of Botticelli and Mantegna the sentiment, whether it be abrupt pathos or suffering despair, is that of a wild struggle, in the sweet, soulful figures of Perugino, smiling so sadly or dreaming so mournfully, the mild piety and childish peace of soul of Francis of Assisi still appears. Ina storm-convulsed time which usually played fortisstmo, he was the first to prescribe dolce, adagio,and mezza voce for his composi- tions, and to seek out the softer and finer emotions instead of great convulsions. It is just this absence of movement and discreet moderation, this delight in dreaming and this preference for tender and weary feel- ings, which make him so related to our own time. Al- though he lived more in Florence, the great city, than in little Perugia, his art resembles a quiet, secluded


Perugino 211


mountain tarn, reflecting the entire heaven in its clear depths.

What the artist of the Medicean age saw in the antique, Perugino found in allegory. When Isabella d’ Este commissioned him to paint a picture for her study, he did not choose a heathen subject like Mantegna’s Parnassus, but depicted the Victory of Chastity over Love (now in the Louvre). In like manner the cycle of frescoes. painted in 1499-1500, for the court-room of the money-changers in Perugia, is characteristic of the change which had come over art since Savonarola’s appearance. Although upon the ceiling the deities of the firmament move to and fro, and Greek and Roman heroes are portrayed upon the walls, the theme is not antique, but rather a reversion, under the influence of the spirit of the time, to the allegoric subjects popular in the érecento. As in the Dominican paintings of the Spanish Chapel, Wisdom, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance are personified by female figures to which those of men famed for these virtues are added by way of commentary.

All of his remaining paintings are dedicated to the Mother of God, and however different the themes the sentiment is always the same, a joyful sadness, smiles amidst tears. For the mild ecstasy of his figures he also found suitable soft colours, and was one of the first to discover the secret threads which bind the sentiment of the landscape with the human soul. With the Child upon her arm Mary usually sits dreaming,


212 The Religious Reaction


her eyes fixed upon a mysterious horizon; or she kneels before the new-born infant, happy and yet sad, as if her joy were subdued by the presentiment of a future fate; or else a melancholy smile spreads over her features when the music of heavenly harps sounds. A wonder- ful effect is attained by the pious, refined, and yet simple manner in which he depicts the Vision of St. Bernard. \n a graceful hall of columns opening into a view upon an Umbrian mountain landscape, the saint sits at his desk gazing upon the incarnation of the Blessed One who had just occupied his thoughts. Inaudibly, with maidenly timidity she approaches and then speaks to him, accompanied by two dove-eyed angels. Bernard is not frightened, makes no motion, and does not rise from his seat, but raises his hand as if to welcome a long-expected visitor, and looks joyfully upon the heavenly vision.

In another cycle of frescoes, painted in 1492-96 in the church of Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi, Florence, he depicts the Crucifixion and the events following. The wall is separated by three arches, in the middle one of which stands, in the silent desolate landscape, the cross with the Saviour. He is portrayed as very youthful, without a beard, and disfigured by no traces of suffering. The Magdalen is praying, Mary looks reflectively before her, and no cry or gesture of pain disturbs the holy quiet; a weary peace has spread over the landscape. With equal repose, without any dramatic excitement, the Entombment is portrayed.


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Instead of writhing bodies convulsed with pain, such as Botticelli and Mantegna had painted, Perugino only gives a sorrowful scene of parting, a silent wor- ship of souls. Mary, whom Botticelli has represented as sinking into unconsciousness, bends over the dead man as if she wished to speak apart with him; the other participants stand murmuring silent prayers and lost in painful contemplation. As little as he here knows wild pathos did he depict stormy joy in the Ascension. With a tired inclination of the head, the apostles, arranged in a straight line, look up to heaven, where, borne by the heads of seraphs, the Risen One hovers, while upon the cloudlets angels make music. The delicately poised position, the childishly con- ceived cloudlets, and the symmetrical arrangement— all these things betray how consciously Perugino imitates the archaic in order to attain an unreal, trecento effect.

The note which he struck was so much in the spirit of the times, and his paintings in their bitter-sweet sentimentality had such a tormenting and fascinating effect, that others soon tuned their instruments to the same key. Francesco Francia in Bologna, choosing the same subjects, paints Madonnas, Holy Families, the Adoration of the Christ-child, and Holy Conversations. As with Perugino, Mary wears the matron’s veil over her head; like the Umbrian master he is more at home in painting women than men; only that he has a similar relation to Perugino that Lorenzo di Credi had to


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Botticelli. He is harsher, less temperamental and more fleshly, and cannot rise to the sweet ecstasy and divine languor of Perugino. As the figures themselves are fuller, more healthful and powerful, so the colour is more quiet and material, but less warm and fragrant. The trembling melancholy of Perugino is replaced by a woful meekness, his vibrating tervousness by phlegmatic calm. Like Credi he was a quiet, lovable man, who attracted numerous pupils to his atelier. Timoteo Viti, Raphael’s first master, a charming and delicate artist, whose works are characterised by quiet joyfulness and a soft dreaminess, is especially indebted to him. Lorenzo Costa, also, who at first painted in the harsh manner of the Ferrarese, acquired his later style, which was full of sentiment and grace- fully artificial, from his association with Francia. In his paintings meek men and modest women who only know soft feelings and mild gestures lead an esthetic life in the midst of dainty landscapes. Rather hovering than walking, and with modestly sunken head, they move about with a mannered grace —quite a different race from the powerful and angular mortals which he once painted from Tura’s pictures. ;

  • Quite otherwise the religious sentiment of Milan is

differentiated. Vincenzo Foppa, who is considered the founder of old Milanese art, can hardly be recognised as a pupil of Mantegna. Although he decorated a chapel in the church of Sant’ Eustorgio in accordance


Perugino . 215


with the principles of Mantegna’s ceiling-decoration, the effect here, as well as in the Marytrdom of Sebastian, is not one of Paduan severity but of Umbrian softness. As regards Bernardo Zenale, the artist next following him, nothing can at present be said, because the Madon- na in the Brera formerly considered his principal work was probably painted by Boltraffio. Although it is cer- tainly a phrase to call Ambrogio Borgognone a North Italian Fiesole, there is one point of resemblance. Like Fiesole, Borgognone lived for a long time in a convent, the Certosa of Pavia. This sentiment of the cloister, a breath of peace like the sweep of angels’ wings, pervades his paintings. The heads are pale and spiritual, and the colour in its veiled silvery-grey harmonies had the effect of a song played in the high, delicately touched notes of a violin. He appears like a distinguished clergyman of quiet tastes who has fled from the noise of the world to seek quiet con- templation. Indeed, he does not impress one as an Italian. Something of the sincerity of an old German, I might almost say the sentiment of “forget-me-nots,”’ hovers over his modest, lovely works. Think for a moment of the putti of the Italian artist, and then look upon the little philistines in night dresses who in Borgognone’s Crucifixion bewail the Saviour in an old- fashioned, pathetic manner, as if they were repeating school poems, or the two small lads in gold-embroidered caps who appear beside Mary in the Berlin picture. Compare the pictures of Christ by the Italians with


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the pale, consumptive man with the spare beard, softly inclining to his mother in Borgognone’s picture in San: Simpliciano. Even the Gothic character of his composition is significant. It seems as if he had wished to create the impression of an ancient glass painting, the arrangement of which is never triangular, but vertical and straight-lined in accordance with the demands of Gothic architecture. This explains why none of his figures make broad, ample movements, and why the Christ-child sits so bolt upright in Mary’s lap; why he always arranged his draperies in vertical parallel folds; why of the flowers he especially loved the slender lily; or why in his picture of the Crucifixion the hair of Magdalen falls in such straight lines over her shoulders. It also explains why the rich Renais- sance ornament in his hands almost acquires the per- pendicular and stiff forms of the empire. Of modern artists, Burne-Jones especially has learned much from Borgognone. The extended angels who in his Days of Creation hold the celestial sphere with the hieratic solemnity, are lineal descendants of those in Borgo- gnone’s Coronation of the Virgin. Yo the German Naza- renes, had they known him, his esthetic thoughtfulness and pale dreaminess would have been sympathetic. For the knightly princes of fable whom he so loved may be found in the pictures of Steinle. The pale and young deacon in the painting of Siro in the Certosa is like Borgognone himself, the type of the art-loving friar who lived in the fantasy of Wackenroder.


Giovanni Bellint 217


VIII.— Giovanni Bellini

At Venice Giovanni Bellini conducted art from the Byzantinism of Crivelli and the Paduan rigidity of Bartolommeo Vivarini into the paths of Lotticelli and Perugino. At first he had no individual style, but be- ing of a pliant nature he began by following his brother- in-law Mantegna in painting pictures like the Pzeta of the Brera, which inits harsh pathos and hard draw- ing might have been the work of a Paduan. After Antonello da Messina had come to Venice, Giovanni was the first, under the influence of this Sicilian Nether- lander, to adopt the technique of oil painting. Not until he had absorbed these different elements did he become Bellini. The great religious revival which, since the appearance of Savonarola, had convulsed Italy also helped him to find himself. His great altar-piece in the church of the Frari (1488), with the angel boys making music, and the mighty saints; that of San Pietro in Murano, in which the Doge Barbarigo kneels before the Christ-child; that of San Giobbe, where Mary as if astonished stares into the infinite; and that of 1505 in San Zaccaria, in which an expression of woe transfigures her serious features—these are the world-known pictures of which one always thinks when Bellini’s name is mentioned.

it is difficult to express in words the sentiment of these works. Writers on art formerly endeavoured to characterise Venetian painting by contrasting it with the Florentine. They maintained that, while the Flor-


218 The Religious Reaction


entines loved broad epic narration or dramatic action, a lyric sentiment pervades Venetian painting; they contrasted the plastic severity of the Florentines with the power of Venetian colour to awaken sentiment, and their representations of motherly love with the solemn devotional subjects of the Venetians. But in doing so they compared works of art of two quite different epochs. At the time when Bellini created his mature works, dreamers had succeeded the scho- lars also on the bank of the Arno, and profane paint- ings had been followed by devotional. In Flor- ence, also, since the appearance of Goes’s altar-piece, no longer form but colour stood in the foreground. Here as there, artists painted Mary as the donna umile, a maiden of the people unadorned and with the matron’s veil drawn about her head, and the female saints surrounding her aristocratically fine, pale, and richly clad, their carefully dressed hair adorned with pearls. Even the angels making music, cited as characteristics of Venetian painting, are quite as frequent in the works of Perugino and Raffaellino del Garbo. The tender keynote, the musical and emotional elements, are common to all works of the period. What distinguishes Bellini from the rest is purely personal things, delicate nuances, which are to be explained partly by the character of the painter and partly by the surroundings under which he laboured.

‘When the epicurean age of the Magnifico had passed away, Botticelli, a characteristic son of nervous


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Florence, in need of an abrupt contrast, threw himself into the arms of the great Dominican. The feeling with which he did this was similar to that which in Paris, ten years ago, the Rosicrucians, also seized by a profonde tristesse epicurienne, proclaimed their spiritual gospel. Weary and no longer able to bear the benumbing odour of Aphrodite’s roses, he ap- proached with unsteady tread the throne upon which Mary, crowned with cold white flowers, sits in silence. Just because he had formerly sacrificed to heathen gods, he now battled for the ideals of Christianity with the zeal of the convert. He speaks in shrill and wail- ing tones, and the lines in his paintings are hard and austere; deathly pale hands are stretched forth. It seemed as if Mary herself could not escape the recollection of the Hill of Venus, as she glances fear- fully, like a timid roe, convulsed by a trembling longing for peace. : Perugino, the true son of the Umbrian mountains, passed his youth in high and lonely valleys among a poverty-stricken population. The character of his home is impressed upon his pictures. The landscape which he paints is of a lyric charm; bare trees grow upon delicate swelling ground, and there is something unstable, timid, and imploring in this sickly vegetation. His figures resemble the quivering trees which any gust of wind could fell. He deprives them of everything that smacks of the earth, disrobes them of everything carnal; so that only a shadow, a soul quivering in


220 The Religious Reaction


delicate, intangible accords, remains. They are sensitive to the finger-tips, spiritual to the point of sickliness, suffering and filled with a mystic longing. For the hill country of Umbria was also the land of mysticism and of second sight, the land of forebodings and of dreams. Here St. Francis dreamed that he had been called to support the Lateran Basilica, and here he saw Christ hovering above him in the figure of a winged seraph. Here Catherine of Siena had her blessed visions, and in every shepherd-maiden a Joan of Arc . lived. Perugino’s Madonnas also resemble country maidens, pious, dreamy children, who, attending to the flocks and buried in mystic contemplation, sud- denly hear the voice of their patron saint.

Giovanni Bellini had never visited the Hill of Venus; for the spirit of Hellenism had never penetrated his oriental corner of the earth. He had never experienced tragedy, but passed an entire life like a long, beautiful and stormless day. Furthermore, when he created his most beautiful pictures he was already an old man. To the little plush cap which he wears in his portrait one would like to add a dressing gown. Everywhere his pictures are lacking in the psychopathic, nervously excited and shattered elements which bring Botticelli so near to our own time. There we find psychic unrest, the cry of a human soul; here eternal peace, a great and simple harmony—the mild, transfigured repose of old age, which no longer knows impetuous action. As we love Botticelli because we find in him a reflex of every-


Giovanni Bellini 221


thing that is morbid, nervous and strained with us, we look up to Bellini as to a noble patriarch who possessed the great and secluded repose which is no longer ours. He differs from Perugino in his solemn grandeur and in the specifically ecclesiastical sentiment that pervades his pictures: country air with Perugino, the perfume of flowers with Botticelli, and incense with Bellini. While the Umbrian’s Madonnas possess a bucolic element, Bellini’s give the impression of entering into a wide and lofty cathedral. All is quiet about, and the sublime figures of his paintings live their serious and lonely existence in solemn grandeur. This solemn, ecclesiastical effect is not only produced by placing the throne of Mary in the mighty apse of a church; but the figures themselves exhale a sort of magic breath of the divine, and appear themselves to possess the sentiment which comes over one when, with bared head, one passes from noise and daylight into the consecrated dimness and deep silence of the house of God. They neither speak nor make motion; silent as if under the spell of the Holy of Holies, they stand there just as we stand when, lost in dreams, we gaze into the golden night of St. Mark’s, and let ourselves be hypnotised by the eyes of the Byzantine saints, solemnly staring down from the golden mosaics; or as when sitting on the Lido we gaze upon the dreamy mirror of the lagoons. .For Byzantinism and the lagoons produce the same effect: a solemn Nirvana stupefying the human spirit. This stupor of the


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spirit probably best expresses the sentiment of Bellini’s paintings.

He never paints action, but only feeling; never motion, but only repose; and these feelings are so sup- pressed and have entered so little into the sphere of consciousness that his people seem stupefied by opium. His saints never have the languishing ecstasy or the sentimental upward glance of the eyes that Perugino loves; his Madonnas never feel that supernatural long- ing, that devoted sacrifice with which the Umbrians re- present her bending over the Child. With a calmness that is almost indifference Mary holds the Infant upon her arm, as the mother of God, whom the Byzantines painted; or else she is a woman of the people, sitting with her child at the door of the church—having no wants and dreaming, as if stupefied by the glare of the sun and the sultry heat of the noonday. Perugino’s Madonnas are shepherdesses, the sisters of Joan of Arc; but over Bellini’s hover soft drowsiness and in- different indolence—the melancholy, tired character of the oriental spirit. There the inward and ecstatic glance of the sibyl, here the uncertain weary glance of the eye gazing dreamily over the lagoons.

The landscape even heightens the dreamy repose of his pictures. For his early pictures, like Christ Crucified of the Museo Correr (Venice) or the Christ in London, do not give a true idea of his feeling for landscape. As in other respects, he was at that time a Paduan in landscape painting, and like Mantegna laid bare the


Giovanni Bellint 223


skeleton of the earth, taking pleasure in the plastic execution of hard details. It was only gradually that the Venetian element entered his pictures. No longer with the eye of an investigator, but with that of a dreamer he gazed upon nature as the traveller ploughing quietly and noiselessly through the waves in a gondola. No waggon or footfall disturbs him and he sees no de- tails. Bathed in light, like phantoms of the fairy world, palaces and blue mountain chains rise up only to dis- appear. Bellini was the first to be caressed by the salt air of the lagoons and to realise the dreamy atmosphere which hovers over the coast of Venice. The mountains are bathed in bluish undulating clouds; the valley lies silently in the golden shimmer of the evening red, and the twilight spreads over the silent hills. One is reminded especially of Bécklin’s fairy picture in which a slender nymph-like woman, encircled by a flowing white robe and holding a great globe upon her knee, reposes in a boat which, impelled by light winds, is gliding silently away. I know as little what it represents as the thousand others who stand dreamily before it. It seems as if the artist had painted his own life, which, unmoved by storm, also passed away as quietly and silently as a beautiful autumn day. Now that the evening has come, the water maiden takes him by the hand, leads him to the boat, and conducts him over the lagoons to the Island of the Blessed.

In the works of this honourable patriarch we have also described the subject-matter of the many others


VOL, I.—I5


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who laboured partly as contemporary, partly as his - pupils in Venice. Mary, with or without a following of saints, and occasionally another saint, who instead of Mary forms the central figure, are almost the only themes treated in the altar-pieces and the broad half- length pictures. Next to the Madonna—and this is a characteristic of the religious spirit of the age—St. Jerome plays the principal part: an old man repent- ant of his past and recognising that everything earthly is vain.

A proud artistic spirit, mental sufferings, and buried hopes—such is the life history of Alvise Vivarini. As the last offshoot of the old artist family of Murano, he struggled for decades to hold the field beside Bellini. That gloomy and severely archaic art which Bartol- ommeo Vivarini had brought from Squarcione’s studio to Venice was revived in his hands. Plastic strength and an almost ascetic simplicity are the characteristics of his early works: he loves the black cowl of monks, old wrinkled faces, and furrowed hands. His picture of St. Clara especially—an old abbess holding the crozier with a firm grasp—is so full of the sentiment of the cloister that one thinks of Zurbaran. But from being an opponent he become an imitator of Giovanni Bellini. After he had battled in vain for the Muranese ideals, he now wished to show that he could also do all that was admired in his oppo- nent; gave to his figures the weary droop of the head and the melancholy expression of Bellini’s; and endeavoured


Giovanni Bellini 225


to be mild instead of harsh, tender instead of rough. This endeavour to feel with the sensibility of another became the tragedy of his life. At first sight one can hardly distinguish his paintings from Bellini’s; the fea- tures of the enthroned Madonna are the same, the angels make similar music, and the mantle of Mary falls in the same soft, curved lines. The female saints standing about the throne seem the sisters of those who do homage to the Virgin in Bellini’s paintings. Neverthe- less, a responsive chord is not struck by the pictures; one seems to feel that Alvise himself had the oppressed feeling of a man of compromise, who no longer ex- presses himself and could not equal his model. With Bellini everything is veiled and dreamy, animated by that great repose which flowed from the artist’s soul into his works. Alvise, the awkward and struggling talent, lacking confidence in himself, does not achieve this effect. His colour remains hard and the sentiment sullen. Grudgingly he finally withdrew to die almost unnoticed.

Even Cima and Basaiti, his pupils, had in the meanwhile deserted to Bellini. The only novelty in their works is the element of landscape. Cima da Conegliano, who in his Pzefa in the Academy has a harsh Muranese effect, but later grew to be soft and lyric like Bellini, filled the narrow circle of his artistic activity with honest ability; he interprets contempla- tion and quiet solemnity in a simple and unpretentious manner, though less delicately than Bellini. He is


226 The Religious Reaction


independent in that he places the throne of Mary in the open landscape instead of in the gloom of a church. He was not a native of Venice but of the Alpine region, and this love of the mountaineer for his home is expressed in his paintings. He never misses a chance to represent the splendid mountains and valley in which he passed: his youth, delighting especially in the wonderful, cold effects of autumn. A deep blue sky, harmonious in tone and full of gleaming clouds, melts into the green, brown, and blue colours in which the earth gleams. Quiet melancholy and idyllic peace are the prevailing sentiments in all his landscapes.

Basaiti experienced a similar development. In_ his early works, like the Pzeta in Munich, he endeavoured to surpass Mantegna in pathos; later he became mild and imitated Bellini in sentiment and colour, but without losing his individuality as a Jandscape painter. The coast of Illyria and Dalmatia whence he came is a bare and rugged country, sloping precipitously to the sea, whose wild ravines, narrow inlets, and steep cliff walls remind us of the fjords of Norway. The wild character of his home is reflected in the landscape background of Basaiti’s pictures. Bartolommeo Montagna of Vi- cenza, a great and serious artist, may also be classed with the group halfway between Mantegna and Bellini. »With the artists described below there is no longer a trace of Muranese influence; they stand from the beginning upon the ground prepared by Bellini. Scant justice has been done to Vittore


Giovanni Bellini 227


‘Carpaccio by the general opinion, based upon the sub- jects of his paintings, that he was a pupil of Gentile Bellini. Next to Gentile he is esteemed the greatest epic painter of the school, as is evinced by his fresh narrative talent in the use of rich buildings, girlish heads, and trim figures of youth to compose gay and festive novels. Indeed .Carpaccio’s best-known work, the cycle of the Legend of St. Ursula, may be described with the same words as Gentile’s paintings. The spectator takes part in diplomatic audiences; sees gondolas and richly pennoned ships riding the waves; gazes upon half classic, half oriental monuments, and before them, upon terraces and stairways, a festively adorned multitude: proud senators, elegant youths, beautiful women, musicians sounding fanfares, and gay banners fluttering in the breeze. He has created a fairy world of pompous palaces, picturesque cos- tumes, and gleaming waves. But herein also lies the difference between him and Gentile. ‘While the latter painted architectural views with the dry eye of the illustrator, Carpaccio is a poet, who interweaves reality with the charm of a fairy story; leading us from the earth to dreamland, where there are only heavenly beings and pure feelings. He does not depict Venice, but rather the “courts of love’’ of Provence and of German legend, redolent with linden blossoms, peopled - by slender princesses and enchanted king’s sons. His pictures are fétes galantes, the scene of which is laid in paradise. As in St. Ursula’s Dream in the Venetian


228 The Religious Reaction


Academy he has depicted the entire mysticism of Christianity, so his Presentation in the Temple and his Coronation of the Virgin are also of a delicate though painful beauty. Even the two courtesans sitting, in the picture of the Museo Correr, upon the balcony of their house, have been made angels by Carpaccio: street women with the soul of a Madonna. One almost believes that he had descended in direct line from that Johannes de Alemannia who had once come from the home of Suso to Venice.

Of the remaining painters of this group, Andrea Previtali of Bergamo, who is probably the most nearly related in spirit to Giovanni Bellini, is sometimes surprising in the intimate, almost German character of his landscapes. The Martyrdom of St. Catherine, by Vincenzo Catena, is an achievement before which one lingers admiringly in the church of Santa Maria Mater Domini, not only because the landscape (a wide plain with the sea glimmering in the distance) is of such heavenly beauty, but because it so completely reflects the soul of this spiritual epoch. This maiden, about whose neck the millstone has already been bound, yet who makes no complaint and sheds no tears, bow- ing herself in silent humility to the will of God, is the incarnation of the triumph of soul over body.

In contrast to the above masters, revolving like little planets about the sun of Bellini, an independent position is maintained only by the few who might be termed Venetian Netherlanders. Venice had, since


AMemling 229


the beginning of its artistic development, been united _by many bonds with the North. As Johannes de Alemannia had carried the style of Stephan Lochner to the Lagoons, so Antonello da Messina had in 1473 brought the technique of oil painting from the Nether- lands. As the portraits of Giovanni Bellini sometimes appear Netherlandish, so Marco Marziale’s name only is Italian, and his style as Flemish as if he had been an associate of Roger van der Weyden. Another bond between north and south was furnished by Jacopo de’ Barbari, who painted the first purely still-life subject in the history of art—the partridge in the Augsburg Gallery—influenced Durer at Nuremberg, and ended as a court painter in Brussels.

IX.— Memling

What Botticelli was for Florence, Perugino for Umbria, Borgognone for Milan, and Bellini for Venice, Hans Memling was for the Netherlands. In the quiet hospital of St. John at Bruges where he laboured, the battle-cry of the age of Savonarola became a soft and harmonious echo.

Even after the appearance of Goes, there had been mockers in the Netherlands. The short-lived Geertgen van St. Jans occupies a similar position in the North to that of Piero di Cosimo in Italy. He is said to have lived in the priory of St. John at Haarlem, from which, however, it does not follow that he had the character


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of amonk. In his paintings he appears as an exuberant young man—cracking jokes over religion and sticking out his tongue at the priests. Only once, when he painted the Bewazling of the Body of Christ (Vienna), did he succeed in remaining serious. In the cor- responding picture from the legend of St. John, he shows, by weaving quite burlesque elements into the subject, how heartily he made merry over these sub- jects of a distorted medizval view of life. The Em- peror Julian the Apostate, commanding the bones of John to be burnt, is the embodied king of the theatre; the grotesque grave-diggers resemble Brueghel’s merry- andrews, and the knights of St. John attending the celebration look at the relics of their patron as if they were asses’ bones. In the Amsterdam picture of the Holy Family, he has painted in the foreground the tenderest female heads, such as only a lover could paint, and behind them stupid-looking children in dressing gowns, and waddling, bow-legged choristers lighting a chandelier. It reminds one of Crabbe or Heine spoiling the sentiment of a poem by some low or trivial remark. Behind the enthusiastic Faust stands the mocking Mephistopheles.

When Hans Memling lived times had changed. The parody and skepticism—the spirit of the opéra bouffe—had long been followed by romantic longing, and Thomas a Kempis had awakened new religious en- thusiasm in the Netherlands.

A young and jolly comrade (so the legend relates),


Memling 231


after a joyful wanderer’s life, became a soldier, and while fighting under Charles the Bold at Nancy was severely wounded. Painfully he dragged himself to Bruges to sink unconscious at the gate of the Hospital of St. John, into which he was admitted and there hap- pily cured. Out of gratitude and without price, he painted for the hospital the pictures still to be seen there. Having fallen in love with the Sister of Mercy who had carefully tended him, like Tannhdauser, he made a pilgrimage to Rome to find redemption, and died as a monk in the Carthusian monastery of Miraflores.

As in many other cases, science has destroyed this beautiful legend. We know to-day that Hans Memling was a native of Mommlingen near Mayence, became a pupil and associate of Roger van der Weyden, and later figures as a wealthy burgher at Bruges. What a pity! History gathers in her dead, and the legend makes them immortal. Memling’s pictures are more in accordance with his legendary character than with that of the owner of three houses at Bruges. No learned critic could characterise the essence of Memling’s work more beautifully than the legend has done. His art actually resembles a quiet cell in which a sick man who had once galloped through the meadows, a trim soldier upon a white charger, now lived, wounded and weary. “Imaginez un lieu privilégié, une sorte de retraite angélique idéalement silencieuse et fermée, ou les passions se taisent, ou les troubles cessent,


232 The Religious Reaction


oi l’on prie, ou l’on adore, ot tout se transfigure, ot naissent des sentiments nouveaux, Ot. poussent comme des lis des ingénuités, des douceurs, une mansuétude surnaturelle, et vous aurez une idée de ]’ame unique de Memlinc et du miracle qu’il opére en ses tableaux.” With these words Fromentin in his Maitres d’autrejois has described the charm of Memling’s art.

One cannot fully enjoy him in all his works. When he attempts to be strong, -pathetic, or powerful, his talent does not suffice. This is true of the Crucifixion at Litbeck, and also in part of his Last Judgment. At least he has not depicted the terrors of the dies ire with the power of his teacher Roger, but with the child- ishness of Lochner. St. Michael, modestly weighing the souls, looks like a disguised maiden; and the damned approach the pit of hell with souls just as pure as all the dainty nude virgins ascending in single file to the gate of heaven, on the left. He is only great in sub- jects of youthful beauty and tender love. As in the legend, so in his works he appears as a natural en- thusiast, who, because his earthly love has scorned him, chooses a heavenly bride, Mary, rich in mercies, whom he celebrates with the rapture of a troubadour. In- describable in their girlish freshness and chaste grace are the women in his Betrothal of St. Catherine; and touching is the devoted piety with which he relates the Legend of St. Ursula. In contrast to the wide spaces, ravishing beauty, and festal attire of Car- paccio’s treatment of the subject all is here childish


oO e 4 = QQ = n a <q td


THE MADONNA


Gallery


Vienna



ide



Memling 233


simplicity, miniature daintiness, humility and peace. Even in the Martyrdom of the Virgins there is neither complaint nor fear of death. With folded hands and meek devotion, they depart from life with that be- lieving equanimity for which the terrors of death are only the foreboding of heavenly joys.

Memling’s difference from his Netherlandish prede- cessors is equally apparent. While Jan van Eyck was enamoured of the splendour of the world, and Roger, the painter of pathos, depicted careworn matrons, Memling’s works are pervaded by a mild, lyric senti- ment, a breath of feminine blessedness: his fair angels with the long flowing hair, these slender figures of maidens and dreaming Maries. The traits are the ‘same which distinguished Bellini or Borgognone from older masters like Pisanello or Tura. The difference between Memling and these Italian contemporaries is less obvious. From an external point of view the Netherlander is easily recognisable; he has painted but a single picture, the Madonna of the Vienna Museum, which shows familiarity with Renaissance decoration, as is evinced by a round arcade opening to view and by the putt playing and holding a heavy garland hanging festively over the throne of Mary. Otherwise Gothic forms are the prevalent ones in his paintings. While the worldly-minded Jan van Eyck avoided this style, and reverted to the massive Romanesque figures, Memling, although he was familiar with the Renaissance, preferred the aspiring, ethereal Gothic, because it alone


234 The Religious Reaction


was in harmony with his slender, spiritual fives Between Memling’s women and those of the Italians there also exists that difference which Barrés sketched in his Deux femmes du bourgeots de Bruges. ‘The Italian type is Mary, Memling’s Martha; there the animated woman, here the good Cinderella. There, the broad, sultry lagoons, over the mirror-like surface of which gondolas glide to the music of the mandolin; here the narrow canals of Bruges, in whose cold water white swans bathe their snowy plumage.

The rich Bruges which Jan van Eyck had known had already become a dead city when Memling painted it. The great house of the Medici had collapsed; the foreign merchants who had formerly traded there had gone elsewhere; the canals were deserted, and the palaces had fallen into decay. This poetry of solitude which, like the sentiment of the fable of the sleeping princess, pervaded Bruges, as it now pervades Rothenburg, hovers over Memling’s pictures. He also gazed with the eye of a romanticist upon those defiant city gates and mighty churches, the proud survivals of a great past which towered aloft in an impoverished present. Even upon him the wide streets, once the scenes of festal processions, but now so useless and devoid of people, had a melancholy effect.

But the memory of the Hospital of St. joint whitewashed walls, white beds, and Sisters of Mercy—is awakened by his paintings. Borgognone is a monk, the man in a cowl who, tired of life, fled to nature and


Memling 238


to her peace, and his pictures awaken the sentiment that one feels in driving on a fine afternoon from Florence to the Certosa. The pictures of Bellini have the effect which one experiences in passing from the sunlight of the Piazza into the incense-filled gloom of St. Mark’s. Quite a different sentiment is awakened by the traveller wanderlng through the uneven, moss- grown streets of Bruges to the Hospital of St. John. A little gate is opened and he is led into a courtyard, where under ancient linden trees poor old men dream upon the benches in contemplative idleness. Béguines in black and red costumes and neat white caps come and go. There is something sad and resigned about these maidens, who live the lives of nuns, away from their families, and are transformed into such staid and serious beings by the life within these walls. Memling’s pictures are pervaded by the sentiment of a hospital. One examines them with the same feeling which fair and sickly maidens arouse. It seems as if he had observed nature with the eyes of a sick man, sitting in his little room and looking through leaded = panes into the joyful world. . Why are the people who sat to him all so pale? Why do they hold the rosary or a prayer-book, and fold their hands so thankfully? Why does the world, bathed in mild light, stretch out in such a solemn and Sunday attire in the background, so green and spring- like, as if the splendour of the first day of creation still rested upon it? They seem to be people who for the


236 The Religious Reaction


first time step out of the oppressive air of the sick-room into God’s own nature, just as the old men of the Hospital of St. John realise, with thankful happiness, that the dear sun again shines upon them. Observe all the flowers and books which he loves to keep up in his pictures of the Madonnas. Does he not treat Mary like a sick child to whom one brings picture-books, elder-blossoms, and lilies? How touching are these flower-pots, looking as if they had been tended by a sick child, which Memling loves to place at the feet of Mary. The picture-books of which his pale maidens so abstractedly turn the leaves have the sentiment of a sick-room; as do also the windows so tightly locked that no cool draught may enter, and the enchanted bit of the world seen through the tiny window-panes. Nature is not thus enjoyed by one who has her always before him, but appears only to a sick man standing at the window so touching, so holy in her beauty. He sees the rider upon his white horse approaching along the lone- some road; he observes the reapers mowing in the cornfield; the waggon driver asking a passer-by for the road; and he rejoices in the swans paddling over there in the pond, and in the sheep reposing upon the sunny green meadow. A thatched hut standing lonely in a field, an old mill or a decayed wooden bridge stretching across gleaming water, is sufficient to fill him with thoughts and emotions. His maidens themselves have the beauty of a sick-bed; that fine and spiritual appear- ance which the atmosphere of a room gives to people.


Memling 237


Their features are mild and resigned, their movements powerless and silent; and in touching coquetry they have donned their most costly garments and bedecked themselves with pearl diadems and with rings. Such thoughts, which others had long ago read in Memling’s pictures, gave origin to the legend of the wounded soldier who lived as a sick man in the Hospital of St. John.

The same charm of lovable silence, the same bashful- ness which anxiously avoids everything brutal, per- vades the Madonnas of Gerard David, who appears in all respects a continuator of Memling. He also loves women with high brows and bashful downcast eyes. and knows how to make the expression of thoughtfulness, of sublimity speak from these eyes. An altar-piece painted in 1509 for the church of the Carmelite nuns in Bruges, which afterwards found its way to Rouen, is considered his masterpiece. His adoption in other paintings of the theme of the Madonna in a bower of roses, which had been so popular in the Cologne school, likewise shows how nearly related he was to Memling and Lochner. Mary and the other saints have that purity and dreamy thoughtfulness which enchants us in Memling’s paintings; they sit motionless there as if rooted to the spot by the overflow of psychic experiences; they have experienced the holiest, but their lips are silent, as if they feared through loud words to disturb the solemn repose. A certain mel- ancholy foreboding and silent reticence hover over


238 The Religious Reaction


them, giving to David's pictures also a touch of tender, delicate reserve. Only in later works (he lived until 1523) did his style change, in accordance with the changed sentiment of the time.


X.— Leonardo

The result of our studies has shown that Savonarola is in no wise to be considered as the grave-digger of art, but that the quattrocento owes to the religious movement which emanated from him the most refined and subtle works of art which it produced. It is true that through him the gods of Greece were ex- pelled from Italy, and that it was now all over with those narratives from the Old Testament and the legends of the saints which had served the realists as a pretext to depict the pomp and splendour of their time. In place of this, under the influence of increased emotional life, a new note came _ into religious painting. By reminding the artists that the highest aim of Christian art was to represent not the external but the inner world, the beauty not of the body but of the soul, he revealed to them the entire domain of the soul-life. In agitating against the worldly excesses of art he contributed to transform the realist’s love of nature to a higher, more significant beauty.

While the chief aim of the primitives had been portraiture, the masters of the age of Savonarola


Leonardo 239


created men who were indeed true to nature, yet an- imated by the breath of a higher life, and removed from everything earthly by the intensity of their emotions. A subjective idea of beauty took the place of the objective portrayal of nature. Whether the heads were more melancholy, as in the case of Bellini, more sentimental as with Perugino, or childishly good as in Memling’s paintings—the command of form is entirely subsidiary to the expression of the soul’s emotion: The most intangible spiritual conditions were painted; such as the self-sacrificing melancholy of Mary, the prophetic inspiration of John, the agonising repentance of Jerome, the inspired faith of Ursula, the mystic fervour of Francis, the chaste devotion of Catherine, and the blessed ecstasy of the angels. After the conquest of nature accomplished by the realists the awakening of the soul followed.

This awakening also changed the character of portraiture. The painters following Pisanello and Jan van Eyck had with an acute realism painted merely the epidermis—the exterior of man, as he sat immobile in presence of the artist; but in the portraits of Mem- ling, Bellini, and Botticelli, the corporeal is no longer the highest aim. A breath of sadness or of ia thoughtfulness begins to animate the rigid heads. The emotional character or the fate of the subject is

‘indicated by means of mysterious inscriptions or attributes, making the portrait a human document, a confession of the artist’s soul or a reflection of his mood.


VOL. I1.—16


240 The Religions Reaction


Corresponding with this physical effect in portraiture, a similar element appears in landscape. Although the realists had painted landscape backgrounds, the con- sciousness that it was in the power of an artist to reflect the sentiment of the action in the landscape had not yet been awakened. The two elements had been disconnectedly portrayed, the Entombment of Christ, for example, being depicted in the midst of a laughing spring landscape. The ucceeding painters, however, as they had discovered the soul of man, discovered also the soul of nature. In accordance with the sentiment of the principal action the earth is pervaded by a joyful peace or by a silent woe. Man and nature are attuned to the same great chord.

Greatly to the advantage of these new psychic elements, for which flowers and music were also very important, the views of colour were also affected by the revolution. In their pronounced realism the primi- tives had given to each object its own bright and full colours; and after Piero della Francesca had discovered atmospheric effects, artists devoted their entire ability to mastering the most difficult problems of painting, the depicting of light and air. The masters of the epoch of Savonarola, less analysts than dreamers, went a step further. The objective presentation of a natural impression was no longer the final aim of Bellini and his associates; they attempted rather to make colour a means of expressing sentiment, thus discovering the intrinsic property of colour to awaken


Leonardo 241


effects akin to those caused by music. The outlines are softened, a tender twilight veils the objects. The period of chiaroscuro thus begins.

On the other hand, equally serious formal tendencies went parallel with these psychological and colouristic achievements. After Savonarola had forbidden the use of contemporary fashions, the ideal costume had regained its former importance, and the question of its artistic treatment arose. The study of draperies, which Mantegna had already emphasised, now became an important branch of art. The same religious fervour led to the exclusion of all anecdotic and other details. At a time when the love of nature rather than the religious significance of the theme stood in the foreground, artists recognised no bounds in adding the most incongruous objects. Different episodes, past, present, and future, were represented in a single picture; and all kinds of accessory figures, having nothing to do with the action, were grouped about the principal event as disinterested spectators. The masters of Savonarola’s time, in order to obtain a uniform impression of the whole, did away with all these accessories. A vowerful simplicity took the place of disintegration.. For this reason even the form of the altar-pieces was changed. Formerly composed of a central picture, wings, predelle, and lunettes, they were now confined to a single panel. and every figure was excluded which had no part in the principal action. The presentation now resembles a lyric poem or a uniform drama rather than a scattering


242 The Religious Reaction


epic. A psychic keynote pervades the whole and assigns to each figure its corresponding réle. These changes furthermore led to new problems of composition which must be equally definite with the sentiment expressed. While formerly the figures had been ar- ranged as a frieze, the question now was to concentrate them, giving a base and an apex to the picture, and to express the dramatic unity of the event by a corre- sponding arrangement. Thus the aim of composition became that concinnitas which Alberti declared as the ideal of beauty: a complete harmony of the different parts, so that nothing could be added or taken away without injuring the whole. The loose presentation of the earlier painters was replaced by a style involving a rigid arrangement; rhythmic simplicity and soft | curved lines prevail.

Adding together all the attainments of the epoch, it becomes possible—at least in part—to conceive of the mighty figure of Leonardo da Vinci, seemingly far removed from the earth, in his proper relation to the age in which he lived; and to understand how he as a psychologist, as a master of light and shade and as the founder of the laws of composition, grew out of the age of Savonarola. He attempted and achieved the solution of all problems proposed by the age.

To begin with, he made the psychological problem proposed by Savonarola an object of scientific research; the chapter in his Treatise on Painting which relates to it, as well as many anecdotes of his life, show how


DLeonardo 243


much he was occupied with the study of expression.! In order to study sudden outbursts of feeling, he in- vited peasants to visit him, related adventurous anecdotes, and suddenly frightened them; he escorted criminals to the place of execution in order to see the terror of death reflected in their faces. In the so-called caricatures his aim is to exaggerate the peculiarities of the human countenance to the utmost extent of organic possibility but at the same time to portray with harsh directness all shades of expression. In like manner the heads which recur in his drawings are psychological studies. His ideal is not physical strength or voluptuous beauty, but the physical one of delicacy, softness, and dreaminess. He is continually searching for new nuances of quivering love, maternal joy, and childish delight. The freshness of youth is subdued to a soft melancholy, and the dignity of old age is transfigured by philosophical resignation. A commentary upon the heads which he painted are the hands. Even his master Verrocchio had heightened the charm of his youthful figures by the dainty pose of slender fingers. Leonardo, going further, uses the hands as a psychological commentary, assigning, to them dramatic participation in the action.

Besides the psychological problem, he was occupied

1 The best edition of Leonardo’s Trattato della pittura is in J. P. Richter’s edition of his works (2 vols., London, 1883), which also contains an English translation. Others are by Ludwig in the Quellen-


schriften fur Kunstgeschichte (Vienna, 1882), with German trans- lation, and by Tabarrini (Rome, 1890).—Ep.


244 The Religions Reaction


with that of colour. It is interesting to note that he was a distinguished musician. It is related by Vasari that even in his youth he had occupied himself with music, and learned to play the lyre; that he was called to Milan only because the duke found great pleasure in his lute-playing, and that upon this occasion he took with him an instrument, invented by himself, which softened the sound, making it somelting and euphonious that he surpassed all the musicians of Milan. As all painters who were also musicians—Giorgione as well as Gainsborough and Corot—loved soft and melting colours, it is no accident that singing and musical Venice witnessed the first triumphs of colour, and that the musician Leonardo was the founder of the real pictorial style.

But as he was a mathematician as well as a musician, he solved as many formal as pictorial problems. In his Treatise on Painting he dedicated an especial chapter to draperies, advising that they should be studied from clay figures draped with cloths soaked in plaster of Paris; and he attained in his compositions all that his predecessors Perugino, Mantegna, and Bellini had endeavoured to accomplish singly. His sepulchral inscription states that the ‘‘eurhythmy” of the an-- cients had been his chief aim. In such a versatility he stands out like a great gleaming sun at the boundary of two centuries. He rendered it possible to unite caressing charm of form with quivering emotion, and the formal beauty of the sculptures of the Parthenon


Deonardo 245


with deep spirituality; he founded the pictorial style, and at the same time established new laws for linear composition—enough problems to occupy a whole generation of painters.

The few pictures which he painted when no more important questions occupied his mind, and which he did not usually finish, but cast aside as soon as he was himself satisfied with the solution of the problem, were in reality only illustrations for his Treatise on Painting; stray bits from the gigantic treasure-house of his soul. In the angels’ heads of Verrocchio’s Baptism of Christ, the keynote of Leonardo’s art is given. For the first time we behold the dreamy, melancholy eyes, the soft curly locks, and the quiet enigmatic smile,twith which Leonardo’s name is usually associated. In the female portrait of the Liechtenstein Gallery (Vienna)! he is occupied with the problem of the demonic woman. In the presence of this pale face with its cruel almond eyes, one thinks of a mur- deress, of Lady Macbeth. These psychological char- acteristics are supplemented by the landscape; for it is no accident that behind this head, with its exotic, almost Chinese effect, an Asiatic plant, the bam- boo shrub, arises. In the Resurrection at Berlin the


1 This painting is more commonly (as, for example, by Berenson) and with greater probability ascribed to Verrocchio. The consensus of nearly all expert opinion is against attributing the Resurrection to Leonardo; and, as the author himself observes in his remarks upon Boltraffio, it should perhaps be ascribed to this master. (Below, p. 332.)—Eb.


246 The Religious Reaction


psychological elements are united with a new achieve- ment in composition. While earlier art depicted three guards about the sarcophagus of Jesus, Leonardo represents two youthful saints on bended knee in ecstatic adoration. The young deacon, bowing softly forward, raises his hands in fervent worship, while Lucy, with hands folded upon her breast, is quite lost in blessed ecstasy. The composition is so arranged that the figures form an equilateral triangle, and the Baroque Christ is an interesting parallel with these works of Filippino which also form a strong connecting link between the Dominican art of the fourteenth and the Jesuit art of the seventeenth centuries.

The Last Supper, in the former convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, is a psychological drama. Earlier artists had depicted the disciples either sitting quietly at table or receiving the Host from the Saviour, without uniting them by any common thought or action. In order to bring unity into the action and to attain a motive which should vibrate like an electric shock through the whole representation, Leonardo adopts the words of Jesus, “Verily, I say unto you that one of you shall betray me,”’ as a starting-point and shows how each individual disciple was affected by these words. Timidity, silent melancholy, sadness, horror, rising anger, listening, questioning, terror, indignation, curiosity, and pain are reflected in the heads and hands of the apostles in ever-renewed excitement. For. Leonardo does not confine himself to facial expression,


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BLeonardo — 247


‘but makes the hands also assist in giving the highest animation to the dramatic scene. But this is not

_ because it lies in the nature of the southerner to “speak with his hands,’’ as Goethe observed; for all Italian

painters before Ghirlandajo made little use of gesture

and seated their figures in the same repose as did the

northern masters. If Leonardo makes them ges-

ticulate, if one, as Goethe says, can read from the

hands the words that each individual speaks, this is

to be attributed not to the Italian national character,

but rather to the circumstance that every epoch

emphasises a particular artistic problem, and at that

time mimicry and the language of gesture had become

the most important field of study. \His drawings also

reveal how gradually the composition took shape

in Leonardo’s mind; how with increasing facility

he succeeded in arranging all the single figures within

the architectural composition; in creating and dis-

solving contrasts, in changing motions of the lines

lingering and again hurrying forward; and finally in

‘harmonising all by means of an unexampled rhythm. As a pictorial achievement—in the manner in which

the figures softly dissolved in space and the light

streamed through the window into the half-darkehed

hall—the Last Supper must have been a revelation,

although at the present time this can no longer be seen,

but only felt. The Madonna of the Grotto, on the other hand, still


There is much dispute as to the location of the original of this


248 The Religions Reaction


gives an idea of Leonardo’s treatment of colour. In this painting all the aims of the master sound together in rich accord. Again we see those beautiful faces, gazing in such blessed happiness: the Madonna bending dreamily over the Child, and the guardian angel as far removed from this earth as if he were listening to the soft, distant notes of a violin. It may be seen how Leonardo first arranged the whole in the strictly geometrical form of an equilateral triangle, and then immediately disintegrated this pyramid of lines by his treatment of the light; which, falling from the upper left-hand side of the painting, quivers like a soft chord through the enchanted twilight of the grotto, revealing one object in plastic relief, another in veiled picturesque haze. All sharp lines are dissolved and each detail vanishes with soft delicacy into the other.

Of his later Florentine paintings the Madonna tn the Lap of St. Anne! is perhaps the one in which he carries his principles of composition the furthest. In order to bring the figures into the form of a pyramid he places Mary in the lap of St. Anne, bending over towards


painting. Although some careful critics believe that the examples in the Louvre and the National Gallery (London) are both by the hand of Leonardo, the preponderance of expert opinion (Morelli, Müntz, — Müller-Walde, Richter, Berenson) attributes only the former to him.

Professor Muther regards the London picture as a copy by Ambrogio de Predis. (Below, p. 333).—Ep.

1 The oil painting after this celebrated cartoon, executed in part by Leonardo, is in the Louvre; the cartoon in the Royal Academy (Lon- don) being a variation by him on the same theme.—Eb.


Leonardo 249


the Christ-child, who forms the basis of a pyramid on ' the other side. With this he has joined a new problem of light. While in the Madonna of the Grotto a gloomy dolomite landscape is used to dissolve the pale faces and hands in the mild gleam of a delicate chiaroscuro, in this picture the heads rise airily and softly in a bright and quivering atmosphere.

The smoke of powder and dust probably formed the atmosphere of the Battle of Anghiari. The drawings after this lost mural painting only show the psy- chological and compositional problems which he attempted. The same master to whom the highest beauty seen by an artist since the days of Phidias had been revealed, is here the painter of raving madness and snorting rage. A hoarse, roaring sound is heard; men hack and thrust, horses rear, neigh, and bury their teeth in each other, in a Gordian knot impossible to disentangle. But, however impetuously everything is commingled, the great master of composition holds the masses firmly in hand. The crossed forelegs of the prancing horses form the apex of a triangle, within which all the other figures find a proper place.

Even more complicated in arrangement, and almost Baroque in feeling, is the Adoration of the Kings. All former painters, placing Mary at one side of the picture, had represented the kings as approaching


! This picture, in an unfinished state, survives in the Uffizi; and the world-famed Mona Lisa, mentioned below, is the pride of the Louvre.—Ep.


250 The Religious Reaction


- with stately tread from the other side. In Leonardo’s paintings all is commotion. With great curiosity the people press forward, gazing, inquiring, wondering, adoring, and guiding others to the scene; hands are raised and heads stretched forward. At the same time he has changed the relief-like composition in profile which was formerly customary into the direct opposite. Mary again forms the apex of the pyramid, the base of which is indicated by the adoring kings. All about are contrasts dissolving into harmonies, and a waving mo- tion proceeding from Mary and streaming back towards her.

Mona Lisa, whose portrait occupied him at the same time, is as little beautiful as the Vienna portrait. She is uncanny with her missing eyebrows and the witch-like shimmer of her unfathomable eyes, deep as the sea; which seem to glance now passionately, then ironically, then false and catlike; soon they blink at us, then stare cold and dead into the infinite— soulless as the sea which yesterday swallowed men and to-day lies there seductively beautiful, mocking at the misdeed which it has committed. As he has in the Vienna portrait represented the perverse charm of a murderess he has here depicted the Sphinx’s riddle of woman’s nature. Vasari further relates that Leonardo while painting this portrait had singers and musicians present, that the young woman might enjoy their music and thus avoid the rigid appearance of most portraits. This also explains why the picture at that


Leonardo 251


time affected artists like a new gospel. However softly and tenderly Botticelli’s maidens dream, they are not free from a certain expression of metallic rigidity; seeming more like costly artistic jewels than living and breathing people. But in this portrait, at one stroke, the fulness of life and the charm of mo- mentary expression had been attained. Painters marvelled how softly and mistily the figure arose from the background; they admired the nose which seemed to vibrate, the eye which seemed to blink, and the mouth which appeared to smile, and the bust seeming to breathe. The pale, nervous, and quivering hands form a commentary to the head, and at the same time serve the purpose of composition. By resting them firmly upon the waist, Leonardo has achieved the simple outlines of a triangle, the apex of which is _the head, while the basic angles are indicated by the elbows. The landscape of the background echoes the mysterious mood of the entire painting. For although Piero della Francesca and Piero di Cosimo, improving upon the “medallion”’ style of early Italian portraits, had placed the figures in realistic landscape, it was reserved for Leonardo to make the landscape a psy- chical commentary on the figure. For this fantastic, blue-black world, sultry and gloomy, encircling the pale woman, 1s as mysterious and unfathomable as the being wandering through these meadows.

It might be said that Leonardo had in this picture painted himself and his own unfathomable Faust-like


oreo. The Religions Reaction


nature. As the sphinx Mona Lisa stands there in inpenetrable silence, so there is something sphinx-like, demonic, and unapproachable in the nature of this man, who, an illegitimate son and a childless man, wandered lonely through life like a wonderful magician; great as an investigator, and even greater as the seducer who poured the sweet poison of sensuality into Italian art; and who, after centuries, hurls at every one ap- proaching him with a critical probe the crushing words of the Earth Spirit:


‘* Du gleichst dem Geist, den du begreifst, Nicht mir.”


LEONARDO DA VINCI



MONA LISA


Louvre

Chapter III.— Germanic Painting during the Age of the Reformation

I.—. The Beginnings of the Italian Influence

IN the same year that Leonardo da Vinci closed his eyes in the castle of Amboise, Michel Wohlgemuth died at Nuremberg. These names are typical of two different worlds: of the Renaissance and the middle age, of free artistic activity and the craftsman’s handiwork.

It has often been regretted that beginning with the sixteenth century German artists travelled south- wards and, like the emperors of the middle age, forgot their home for Italy. But they also forgot for a time in Italy the stifling air and the trivial caste system of the North. From philistine narrowness they had come into a land of freedom, into a happy en- chanted world; and from being sycophants, they had become lords. “Here the arts freeze,” wrote Erasmus in the safe-conduct which he gave Holbein, and Durer “froze for lack of the sun”’ after his return from Venice.


253


254 Germanic Painting


The dream of his life was ended, and the cage of philistinism again received him.

It is touching to read the biographies of German artists of the fifteenth century. While the Italian masters wandered upon the heights of life, as the “singer walks with the king,” was a poor devil of the same guild with saddlers, glaziers, and bookbinders. First, he had to serve long years as an apprentice with the master; and then he entered into the trade by espousing the daughter or widow of a painter. There was no magnificent court, no aristocracy of distinguished connoisseurs. The patronage of art was in the hands of good burghers, who donated an altar-piece in order to buy their way into heaven. The panels, together with the necessary wood carving, were completed as well as might be in the workshop with the assistance of journeymen; and if upon the delivery they were pronounced well done, the wife of the painter received a pourbotre.

It is therefore hardly proper to speak of a style of German art during the fifteenth century. The problem was only to narrate a theme as clearly as possible and to impart strict religious instruction. This was done by the painters with rustic coarseness. It is not necessary to assume that they acquired their knowledge from Roger van der Weyden; rather, from the same requirements a similar style resulted. The problem was to be popular, drastic, and plastic; for which reason they applied the colours as thick as possible; screaming


the German painter


The Italian Mnfluence 255


instead of speaking, and exaggerating nature to the point of caricature in order to be understood by even the most stupid. The features are contorted; heavy tears and drops of blood flow, and sprawling arms are stretched out; the participants strike, thrust, stamp, and spit in the midst of blood-curdling scenes of martyrdom; and, as in the passion-plays, farces are introduced in order to please the sense of humour. If they cannot be impassioned the artists are at least soberly honest. There is no silent thoughtfulness, no ethereal grace; but everything is substantial, straight- forward, and of an honest, home-made morality. —

It is a characteristic fact that Martin Schongauer, the chief master of Colmar, is better known from his line engravings than from his paintings. Not having the opportunity of expressing himself as a painter, he adopted the engraver’s art. His Madonna at Colmar is harsh, severe, and of rugged power, but the smaller pictures of Mary at Munich and Vienna are modest and trusting. His best work, however, is his drawings.

Wood engraving assumed a similar importance for the Nuremberg artists, who illustrating for the early printers discovered a field in which they could move more freely. In their altar-pieces they laboured as burghers, substantially and honestly. Until 1472, the largest atelier was that of Hans Pleydenwurff, to whom modern investigation has attributed a Crucifixion and a Marriage of Catherine in Munich, a Crucifixion


VOL. 1.—17


256 Germanic Painting


in the Germanic Museum at Nuremberg, a Deposition in Paris, and an altar-piece in Breslau. Then Wilhelm, his son, whose principal work is said to be the Perings- dorff altar of 1488, set up in business. By marrying the widow of the elder Pleydenwurff, Michel Wohlgemuth acquired his business also. In him the Germans of the quattrocento possessed the painter whom they deserved. The number of his works is enormous; there are examples at Munich, Nuremberg, Schwabach, Heils- bronn, Zwickau, and many other places. But whoever is familiar with Durer’s portrait of his teacher—the head with the hawk’s nose and cold, steely glance— knows also Wohlgemuth’s paintings. With a healthy realism, more of a manufacturer than an artist, he approaches nature rigidly and crudely, and has a substantial manner of placing green beside red, and red beside yellow. Such an art was sufficient for the best spirit of his day.

Nordlingen, Ulm, Memmingen and Augsburg should also be mentioned as seats of German artistic activity. In Nordlingen, Friedrich Herlin of Rothenburg, who had sought enlightenment in the studio of Roger van der Weyden, was much admired for his technical dexterity. Bartholomaus Zeitblom of Ulm is the type of the Suabian pastor, speaking slowly and thoughtfully, and carefully weighing every word. If he wishes to be fiery he becomes unctuous and his lyric poetry becomes dry common sense. With Bernhard Strigel of Memmingen this clumsy repose is transformed into


HANS HOLBEIN THE ELDER



MARTYRDOM OF ST. SEBASTIAN Munich Gallery



The ftalfan Tnfluence 257


Baroque exaggeration. The gestures are sprawling, the draperies puffy, and in his altar-pieces the same ruffled intricacies prevail as in the architecture of the expiring Gothic style.

Hans Holbein the elder, of Augsburg, is the se real artist among these painters. He is accomplished and versatile, full of soul and nerves; and because he was an artist, his fatherland let him starve. His youthful works, the little Madonnas in the Germanic Museum, go back to the days of ancient idealism, to the art of Lochner, being of a soft and ecstatic beauty. Then he became the most extreme leader of the new naturalistic tendencies. Especially char- acteristic for this phase of his style are the passion- scenes of altars at Kaisheim and Donaueschingen. The most dangerous rascals of the road are his models, and his gallery of beauty is composed of convicts, harlequins and whimsical inmates of hospitals. Finally the clarification comes. In the picture of Si. Paul’s Basilica in the Gallery of Augsburg, the man of storm and stress, who had only considered the hideous beautiful and the crazy as true, has become a serious man, who paints life with quiet objectivity. All the figures are modest portraits, among which the group representing the master himself with Ambrosius and Hans, his sons, is especially celebrated. With increasing age, his taste became purer and simple beauty his chief aim; his activity closed with a really classical work, the altar-piece of St. Sebastian in Munich.


258 Germanic Painting


The Renaissance decoration and the gleaming golden colour betray the cause of this last change of style— Italy.

Not until they became acquainted with Italy did the quest. of northern artists find a certain goal; and only through contact with the South did they realise that art means more than a substantial copy of nature. If during the fifteenth century the Nether- landers and even the Germans had exercised a fructify- ing influence upon Italy, this country now returned with interest what it owed to Johannes de Alemannia, Roger, and Goes. Thither the young artists made pilgrimages in order to refine their tastes; there they acquired that theoretical knowledge which the older painters had lacked, and became conscious of the dignity of their calling.

They did not indeed relinquish the things in which they had delighted during the epoch in which van Eyck dominated northern art. After engravers of the fifteenth century, Schongauer and the master who signs himself E. S., had begun to represent scenes from everyday life, such themes were now made subjects of pictures. After van Eyck had carefully painted every bud and leaf, and Goes and Memling had followed with real landscapes as backgrounds, the study of landscape painting as an independent branch was now begun. In addition to this, painting mastered a third domain: the fantastic. As long as the spirit of realism prevailed, artists had painted only what they saw, looking with suspicious eye upon anything beyond this. But when, in consequence of the ecclesiastical reaction, metaphysical tendencies followed the realistic, the fantastic element at once appeared. It was developed to an even greater extent in the North than in Italy, because the fantastic is a more important element in the northern than in the Italian character. The art of engraving, which, with greater facility than the brush, follows the spirit into the world of fable, became of determinative importance. After Schongauer in his Temptation of St. Antony had first modestly entered the territory the artists who followed him took possession of the entire legendary domain.

Serious efforts to attain the mastery of form, on the other hand, went parallel with these “intimate” and fantastic endeavours, and the labour of investigation, which had been solved a generation earlier in Italy, began also in the North. By eliminating the episodic from the works of former painters and concentrating themselves, like the Italians, upon the execution of life-sized human figures, the northern artists attained a characteristic simplicity unknown to the fifteenth century. The study of the nude, heretofore little attempted, was raised to the rank of an artistic problem. Instead of harshness a uniform harmony of colour was adopted, and instead of a broad juxtaposition of detail, a well arranged scheme of composition. The crumpled fashionable costume of the day yields to a simple

ideal drapery. Instead of being guided by accident, they laboured in accordance with fixed, theoretically- established norms.

II.— The Netherlands

Quentin Massys, the “smith of Antwerp,”’ introduced the reform into the Netherlands. According to the legend he only became a painter because his sweetheart would not marry a smith; and although this sounds quite improbable, in the story, as in all legends, there lies a certain logical justification. When people used to the highly detailed brushwork of the old masters saw his mighty and broad technique, they necessarily sought for an explanation of this change in style, and found it in the supposition that the creator of these works had originally been a smith; a man with heavy fists and of great swinging movements, who introduced something of the vigour of his former trade into this new profession.

Standing before his Burial of Christ in the Antwerp Museum, one feels that even to-day, with this work, a new epoch in the art of the Netherlands begins. Form, composition, and colour—everything is new. While earlier artists worked in unbroken colours, placing full blues, reds, and greens in immediate juxtaposition, Quentin Massys subordinates this gleam- ing splendour to a uniform colour tone. The figures are given not in miniature form as formerly, but in


QUENTIN MASSYS



THE BANKER AND HIS WIFE


Louvre



The Hetberlands 261


almost life size. Nothing episodic distracts from the principal action; and the problem solved by Leonardo in his Last Supper—the portrayal of a complicated scene as a uniform drama, complete in itself—has also become determinative for the Nether- landers. Along with these psychological efforts he attempts also the solution of the formal problems of Leonardo. However different the movements of his figures are, he has arranged them with reference to a strict scheme of composition.

His other works also, like the Holy Family in Brussels, the Madonna in Berlin, and the Pzeta in Munich, are quite without the bounds of ancient art in their greater size, more graceful movements, and broader draughtsmanship; they form the connecting link between Jan van Eyck and Rubens. Half figures, which are especially frequent, resulted as a logical consequence of the tendencies of the master. Not wishing to depart from his life-size scale, as such figures would have demanded canvases of colossal proportions, he preferred in all cases of re- stricted size to confine himself to half-length figures rather than to diminish the scale.

His genre pictures likewise belong to this class. What Petrus Cristus had indicated in his St. Eligius, Quentin Massys carried out. In his Goldsmith and his Wife of 1518, now in the Louvre, he did in reality nothing more than omit the halo which Petrus Cristus had given to St. Eligius. While this may seem a


oaes Germanic Painting


very small service, it was nevertheless a decisive step; for through it the genre picture was recognised as an independent variety -of painting. It is true that Quentin himself, as well as his predecessors Jan Massys and Marinus van Roymerswele, did not venture to dispense with all ecclesiastical accessories. After painting had for a thousand years been strictly re- ligious, such a change of repertoire could not be accomplished at one stroke. Even though it were only for appearance’ sake, the artist was compelled to preserve a certain connection with the Bible. In the picture above referred to the wife of the goldsmith, although her glance lingers upon the gold, carries a dainty prayer-book adorned with miniatures in her hand. Succeeding painters proceeded to change the prayer-book for an account-book, and to transform the goldsmith and his wife into attorneys, merchants, misers, and usurers. But even in such cases a biblical content is assumed. In his picture at Vienna at least, the words of the parable of the unjust steward are added and, what is more, such paintings are not independent representations, but pendants to the equally numerous representations of St. Jerome. The joy in worldly goods depicted in the pictures of money-changers serves to emphasise their moral: all is vanity. In contrast to paintings representing man in the midst of his wealth were others warning him of the transitory character of earthly things. Gradually the pictures of St. Jerome disappeared and the biblical morals of


The Wetherlands 263


the others were forgotten. Pawnbrokers and ad- vocates, surrounded by papers and documents, sit in their offices collecting money or produce from their clients; broadly painted genre pictures take the place of the original allegories. The expression of the heads was also changed. It had usually been con- torted into passion, because an art occupied principally with the pathetic scenes of the passion of Christ unconsciously transferred this pathos to subjects of every-day life; but now these forced grimaces gave place to a quiet business expression.

The Chess Players, by Lucas van Leyden, is es- _ pecially characteristic of the pathetic element in the earlier genre pictures. The people act not as if they were assembled about a gaming table, but about the cross of the Saviour. The attention is especially attracted by gesticulating hands, indicating some remote connection with Leonardo. Lucas proposed a similar problem to that solved by Durer in his Christ with the Scribes and Titian in his Tribute Money. It is, by the way, difficult to recognise the aims of this intelligent, early deceased Dutchman. The de- terminative event of his life seems to have been a journey to Italy. Although so few paintings by him are preserved, he furnished rich inspiration to other artists in his engravings. Those highly-finished, thoughtful heads which we shall see in the works of the master of St. Severin are already to be found in the prints of Lucas van Leyden; and by his genre


264 Germanic Paintings


paintings of dentists, surgeons, vagabonds, and the like, he prepared a way for later genre painters like Ostade and Brouwer.

Another Dutchman, Hieronymus Bosch, made himself a name as a visionary. All those grimacing images which were customary in mediaval decorative art, especially in the stone ornaments of Gothic cathedrals and the wood carvings of the choir stalls, were transferred by him to panel painting. He is especially fond, as was Teniers at a later day, of giving fishes the wings of bats and of creating strange monstrosities by commingling the forms of animals and vessels. Any one expecting the fantastic in our sense of the term, the demonic and the ghostly, would be bitterly disappointed: for his paintings have not a fantastic, but a burlesque or rather a didactic effect. His practice of giving them the form of an altar is characteristic of their significance. Whether he represents the Seven Deadly Sins, the Ship of Fools, the Pleasures of the World or the Temptation of St. Antony, it is always a sermon beginning with the fall of man and ending with hell. At the same time that Luther threw the inkstand at the devil, the last representation of the devil as the middle age conceived him passed away with Bosch. At a time when gluttony and wild sensuality had followed upon the former mortification of the flesh, he swung, as did Hogarth later, the heavy moral club, practised the art of "hanging people in colours,” and painted the same Capuchin sermons with which Sebastian Brant, Geiler von Kaisersperg, and Thomas Murner regaled their hearers.

Like Quentin Massys, he was also fond of painting biblical scenes in half-size figures, in which he appears as a sharp and malicious physiognomist. His line engravings, Gluttony, Avarice, and Drunkenness are further examples in which low genre painting, though under an allegorical cloak, ventures forth. Themes like the dance of the cripples, surgical operations, and quack doctors became especially popular in painting.

For the beginnings of landscape painting Hendrik. - Bles and Joachim Patinir are important. Both passed their youth upon the picturesque banks of the Maas, where wooded hills alternate with green meadows and sloping valleys, and here their art received its char- acteristic imprint. It is true that they could not yet take the decisive step of being exclusively landscape painters. As in the older genre painting, so in land- scape the religious element was still preserved, and by its presence excused the innovation. Yet one feels that, although they paint biblical subjects, the heart of the painters was elsewhere. Even their choice of subjects is determined by the point of view of ‘the landscape. St. Hubert, sinking on his knee before the wonderful stag, or the Vision of John at Patmos, the Flight into Egypt, and the Adoration of the Kings, are almost the only themes, because they give an ex- cuse for depicting a rich woodland scene.


266 Germanic Painting


A particularly interesting painter is Hendrik met de Bles. Though his spindly, elongated figures are often mannered, his mannerism exercises an unusual charm. A painting by him at Antwerp is especially noteworthy because it portrays, in quite modern fashion, nature reduced to the service of man. In the foreground there is a lively street with rolling-mills, blast furnaces, and a smithy where labourers are hammering; behind this a cliff crowned by a castle, and in the distance the ocean enlivened with ships. A subordinate group of a man leading a horse upon which a woman with a child is sitting is all that indicates the subject of the picture: the Flight into Egypt.

Patinir, whom even Durer had called “the good ” worked along the same lines ex- cept that he piled together more details; a partial result of his youthful enthusiasm. As the profession of a landscape painter was not yet acknowledged, it was considered necessary to make nature more in- teresting than reality by exaggeration of form and ad- dition of detail; and it was supposed that more friends could be won for the cause if nature was exhibited in rich Sunday adornment. On the other hand, this tendency also reveals the same realistic trend and en- deavour to be correct which had originated with Bouts. As the subjects were biblical, they sought to invent a suitable landscape, one different from what they saw about them. As no painter had yet gone to the Holy Land (this was not done until some years


landscape painter,’


The Cologne School 267


later by Jan Scorel), they endeavoured to adorn fantastically the nature about them, and to compose imaginary landscapes from given Flemish motives. The luxuriant tree-tops, wide views of rivers, sand dunes, and horizons with the sea which they saw at home were enlarged, multiplied, and joined with abrupt, jagged cliffs and wild Alpine heights, under the impression that the painting thereby received a biblical and oriental imprint.

III.— The Cologne School

As one can travel in a few hours from the Netherlands to Cologne, so the transition between the art of the two schools is almost imperceptible. Of many painters who were active in Cologne it is impossible to say whether they were natives or Netherlanders; the development of its art in both places from 1480 until 1510 is identical; leading from Roger through Memling to Quentin Massys and Lucas van Leyden, and ending


’ Most of the paintings mentioned in this section are in the Cologne Gallery, where the school can be most satisfactorily studied. As the names of the painters are not generally known, they are usually called after their principal work with which critics first become acquainted. Among such works mentioned in this treatise, the Lyversberg Passion, the altar of Sts. George and Hippolytus, the Glorification of Mary, the Holy Kinship, and the Death of Mary are in the Cologne Gallery; and the Master of St. Severin derives his name from an altar in the church of that name at Cologne. The Masters of the Life of Mary and of St. Bartholomew are named after pictures in the Munich Gallery; while the Master of the Amsterdam Cabinet is so called because this cabinet contains the greatest number of extant prints after his engravings.—Eb.


268 Germanic Painting


with the Italians. The first impulse of the painters of Cologne to desert the paths of Stephan Lochner was due to the influence of Roger van der Weyden. After his return from Italy Roger probably tarried in Cologne, and although the altar-piece of the Three Kings in the church of St. Columba is not by him, but by Memling, it is certain that relations existed between Roger and the principal city of the Rhine.

Without the great dramatic painter of Brussels the Master of the Lyversberg Passion is inconceivable. He relates his stories with crude directness, his favourite theme being martyrdoms in which rude soldiers as- semble with brutal love of torture about the Redeemer. In like manner the Master of the altar of Saints George and Hippolytus endeavours to equal Roger in wild passion. Emaciated, angular figures, with sharp, almost caricatured, features jostle each other and push forward in the midst of bright landscapes, exe- cuted in Roger’s style. For, as we have already seen, the influence of Roger did not last long. The final quarter of the fifteenth century—the age of Perugino and Bellini in Italy, and of Memling in the Netherlands —was a gentle lyric age. This trend of the century is also followed by the Cologne painters. As in southern Germany Schongauer developed from a sincere imitator of Roger into a sensitive lyric painter, the Cologne artists, instead of traversing further the paths of realism, returned to those of Lochner. Solemn


The Cologne School 269


religious devotion and tender ecstasy take the place of crude pathos.

In the Master of the Life of Mary we can clearly follow the change. Only in his Christ Crucified does he endeavour to be pathetic like Roger; then Memling becomes his guide. As his Adoration of the Kings is a free copy of Lochner’s altar-piece for the cathedral, so in his Virgin in the Temple there is a woman taken directly from that altar. Returning finally to Lochner, he created in the Life of Mary, to which he owes his name, a lovely idyl of a delicate, archaic character. The tender, maidenly figures in their slender, sensitive beauty, the simple and clinging ideal drapery, and the solemn golden background enveloping the figures— all show a return to the ideals of Stephan Lochner, which, in their dreamy beauty, were especially suited to the mystic, pious spirit of the time. The other themes which he treated are characteristic of the same spiritual tendency: like his Madonnas in bowers of roses, such as Master Wilhelm had already painted, maidenly, modest, sensitive and tender; or the Bewazling of the Body of Christ, full of a deep sustained grief and of that mild quietude which fears by a loud word or an eager gesture to disturb the holiness of the hour. \

The Master of the Glorification of Mary is a more prosaic and sensible gentleman, and cannot therefore follow so unconditionally the new romantic and ecclesiastical tendencies. Although he retained the type of Stephan Lochner, it was without the latter’s


270 Germanic Painting


sensibility and loveliness; and his visionary themes are painted with rustic clumsiness. The heaven radiates in golden splendour, but over landscapes representing, with dry objectivity, Rhenish scenery or panoramas of entire cities.

All the more delicate, almost like that of a Perugino of Cologne, is the sentiment of the Master of the Holy Kinship. The prevailing effect of his paintings is one of mild beauty and sentimental softness. Even when he occasionally depicts dramatic subjects, like the Crucifixion or the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, he does not leave the domain of soft elegiac sentiment. As he lived until 1509, it is not impossible that he may have seen paintings by Perugino; he occasionally paints palm-groves, which he could not have seen in the North. At all events, the similarity of expression of the elegiac spirit of the epoch in North and South is remarkable. Like Perugino, the Master of the Holy Kinship is not capable of depicting manly strength; like the Umbrian he avoids everything harsh and all dramatic action; and under his hands everything acquires the sentiment of “smiles amidst tears.” A quiet peace and a gentle weariness is spread over nature.

It is certain that the Master of the Death of Mary visited Italy. Although a born Netherlander, he was active in Cologne and finally settled at Genoa. His development corresponds with this activity, beginning with Memling and later resembling Mabuse. In his


The Cologne School 271


earlier paintings, women with tender, pale faces, and men with mild, soft features live in the midst of peaceful landscapes, over which the warm, even light of springtime is spread. As with Patinir, one gazes through portals in the cliffs upon moist and green declivities, and over the heights upon warm valleys and ancient ruins. He resembles Memling, as in his interiors, which are scenes of comfort and repose, so also in his aristocratic taste for costumes which, while almost coquettish, are yet quite free from detailed or overloaded adornment. When he visited Italy at a later period, his taste became even more clarified, uniting the grandeur of the Italian style with German sentiment.

Two other artists, who preceded the Master of the Death of Mary, are the most interesting of the entire group. For them also parallels can be found in the Netherlands; they would hardly have painted those rugged monumental figures had not Quentin Massys preceded them; and in case of the Master of St. Severin, the influence of Lucas van Leyden is also perceptible. They stand there, nevertheless, as strange figures and lonely spirits—a delight to him who seeks not. the regular but the unusual. =

What a bold and reckless talent is this of the Master of St. Severin! Without trace of the mild beauty of the Cologne masters, the figures stand gaudy and stiff, like the kings of playing-cards. Yet with the angularity of the primitives he combines a quite


vou’ 1.—18


272 Germanic Painting


modern psychological acuteness and an intensity of expression which no contemporary possessed. In- stead of being satisfied with representing the maidenly or conventional in woman, he represents her as she is and has been made by life, with all the ugliness of deviating forms and with suffering or hardened features. And his men—what rugged figures are these ancients with the weather-beaten countenances, these apostles with heads of modern scholars! No other painter of the day has succeeded in rendering such well-executed, strikingly thoughtful physiognomies. The skulls are very high, and the forehead is boldly rounded, as in the case of chess-players; the eyes are set with heavy rings like those of people who have studied throughout the night; the lips are pale and drawn down as if in nervous exhaustion. Modest chin beards lengthen the bony countenance, which has an over-exerted and tired expression. In strange contrast with these spiritual heads are the damask mantles and brocaded clothes, the glittering crowns, sparkling sceptres, and swords. Even the treatment of the hair is individual. It does not seem natural, but sits like a wig upon the head, and the forehead is encircled by hairs stiff as a horse’s mane. This strange combination—the reflective thoughtful heads and the mummeries of costume—creates the impression of standing before a primitive carnival or modern living pictures adapted to biblical scenes. One looks like a fantastic sea-king, another like Shakespeare’s King Lear; here we are


The Cologne School 273


reminded of Norwegian fables, there of Klinger and Eduard von Gebhardt. With this fantastic costume a strange and visionary colour-scheme is often united. In contrast to the hard and gaudy hues of his con- temporaries, the pictures of this master often reveal flashing and gleaming, glimmering and _ sparkling effects, corresponding with the fabulous character of the representations. At the close of his life he achieved a statuesque grandeur which almost reminds of Signorelli. Nude putt: play about the pillars; the colour is uniformly light and cool; the drapery falls in mighty folds and the line is solemn and reposeful. A great psychologist, a great painter of light, and one of the founders of the monumental style—such is his place of honour in the history of German art.

The Master of St. Bartholomew forms the logical conclusion of the artistic activity of the Cologne school. In its four hundred years of culture it had gone through all the stages of artistic experience from ecstatic mysticism to laughing worldliness and festal sublimity. The Master of St. Bartholomew appeared at the time when piety was changed into hysteric cant; when pleasure in colour was followed by weary absten- tion; and when art returned from a surfeit of expres- sion to the style of medizval sculpture, that it might by archaizing attain new and piquant charms. The sculptors of the age of Hadrian, who sought to express in the severe forms of primitive Greek art all the sen- sations of their own jaded epoch, and the paintings


274 Germanic Painting


of Carlo Crivelli, who at the close of the quattrocento resurrected Byzantinism, are the corresponding par- allels—all sons of a dying culture which had spoiled its stomach for ordinary nourishment and found taste only in the pungent flavours of novelties.

It is hardly possible to enumerate all the elements to which the paradoxical, tasteless, and yet fascinating effect of the pictures of the Master of St. Bartholomew is due. Like living figures of sandstone in rigid, statuesque repose, his saints stand before us, their cold limbs clothed in the most magnificent vestments Pearl diadems are woven into the luxuriant reddish blond hair of the women, and dragons, looking strange as enchanted human beings, accompany them. Putt: in the Italian style flutter in the air; rich brocaded carpets hang behind the figures, over which the eye glides to bright, grey-green plains and gleaming blue hills. A strange contrast to this modern feeling for nature is afforded by his Baroque ornamentation and the Gothic architecture seemingly chiselled by a goldsmith’s hand, and also between the precious gleaming accessories and the cold neurasthenic colour of the remainder: a sallow, yellow carnation imparting to the figures a corpselike and half-decayed appear- ance, and the pale tones of the green, yellow, and grey clothing. But most fascinating of all is the over- refined sentiment and the affected grace of movement. One thinks at the same time of the most ancient and the most modern painting; of the sandstone figures


The Cologne School 275


arising so solemnly on the pillars of Gothic cathedrals and of Fernand Khnopff’s Sphinx grinning perversely as a stony archangel clutches her brow. But Leonar- do’s Mona Lisa, and that pale woman of the Lichten- stein Gallery with the cold almond-shaped eyes, also come to mind. Asin both cases it was the sphinxlike, enigmatic, and uncanny that tempted Leonardo, so a similar thought seems to have hovered before the Master of St. Bartholomew when he created those female heads, which with their broad brows, thin eye- brows, and cruel cheekbones seem caricatures of saints. Their little mouths with the teasing dimple are full of desire, as if pouting for a kiss; affectedly they bend and stretch their bony, pointed fingers, and draw back the thin bloodless lips as though they were laughing over some doubtful remark which the saint opposite them had just whispered. At the same time, it will be remembered, Cologne was the home of the obscurantists, a brood of stealthy hypocrites who during the day knelt before the pictures of saints, in order that they might in the night celebrate the secret orgies of the black mass. The same tendency in art seems to be expressed in the infernal, satanic element of these paintings. a Along with Cologne, Mayence appears to have been a principal seat of artistic activity at the close of the century. Here also there lived an artist who has much to say to us moderns; an artist as rich in chivalric grace as in individual romanticism: the sympathetic


276 Germanic Painting


unknown Master of the Amsterdam Cabinet. He had long been known as a line-engraver, in which technique he reminds one of Rops, when he shows woman as the ruler of the universe, making a beast of the greatest philosopher and causing the most pious king to grovel in the dust before idols. There are indications of Schwind and Bécklin when he depicts wild men and nude young women dashing across the moor upon a unicorn or a hart. The sentiment of a northern ballad pervades the gloomy print representing a young man festally crowned with grape leaves in his curly hair, glancing over the glowing meadow, while Death, not the usual skeleton but an old man with withered body and tired, pitiful features, suddenly blocks his way and looks him long and deeply in the eye. Yet this same brooder also observed life with a quick eye, and painted quarrelsome peasants, ragged tramps, and half- starved village musicians with the acuteness of a Rembrandt. Even more did the aristocratic world, with its elegance and chivalric strain, find in him a knightly poet. He has depicted tourneys, stag and falcon hunts: crashing trumpets sound, horses neigh, dogs bark, and the startled game runs gracefully away. He has succeeded quite as well with the sweet game of love. What tender, unspeakably lovely little prints are those in which the young gallant sits, sedately chatting with his sweetheart, while about them roses, tulips, and flowers of all kinds are budding and filling the air with perfume.


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Whether it is by accident or because a real relation existed between them, one cannot examine the works of the Master of the Amsterdam Cabinet without thinking of Leonardo. Did he wander to upper Italy from Constance, where he remained for a time, or did he in some other way learn of the enigmatic genius who was at that time revealing new beauty to the South P At all events, his charm and his delicate feeling for beauty resemble the Italian as much as they are unlike the German art of the period. His slender youths with elastic, yet soft and sensual bodies; the modest delicacy of his young women; their luxuriant locks framing the face with soft ringlets, their dreamy, softly sensual eyes and the expression of ineffable sweetness which transfigures their faces—only in the drawings of Leonardo are similar things found. In his pictures, also, which have lately become known, he is recognisable by the coquettish costume, the charming types, and the delight in wreaths and flowers. His portrait of two lovers (Gotha) is probably the most beautiful of all old German portraits. This fine, fashionable youth with his long, fair hair crowned with wild roses, and this bashful maiden with the rose in her hand, listening so dreamily to the languishing whispers of her lover, are graceful to their fingertips, even for a modern eye. A ray of the blessedness of the women sung by Walther von der Vogelweide, and also a ray of southern sunlight, has fallen upon this delightful work.


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IV.— Dürer

In southern Germany Nuremberg remained the cen- tre of artistic activity. Like Wackenroder and Tieck a hundred years ago, the traveller is still strangely moved in treading the streets of the ancient city on the Peg- nitz. The venerable churches, the uneven streets, and the solemn patrician houses seem still peopled with picturesque figures in the quaint caps and head-dresses of that great period when Nuremberg was “the crowded school of the fatherland’s art,” when an overflowing spirit of art flourished within its walls, and when the masters Hans Sachs, Adam Kraft, Peter Vischer, Albrecht Durer, and Willibald Pirkheimer were alive.:

True, there is still much Romanticism in this en- thusiasm. How trivial and philistine seems the development of German art compared with its mighty progress in the Italian republics! Maximilian, the last of the knights, gave all manner of commissions, but in his chronic financial need he was unable to pay the artists. Although Cardinal Albrecht of Mayence had the high ideals of an Italian Mzecenas, the troubles of the Reformation prevented him from carrying out his plans. How small and poor do the commissions of the Fuggers, the Imhoffs, and the Holzschubers appear in comparison with those of the Medici, the Tornabuoni and the Pazzi! German art would have remained a craft, and confined itself to imparting religious instruction by means of altar-pieces, if the artists themselves had not sought and found the means


Diirer 279


of raising themselves on the wings of genius above the age and the world.

Direr, especially, owes his splendid achievements not to his fatherland, but to himself alone. Only in the works which were no commission, in which as a poet he stands outside of the public, is he free and great. That which really makes him a classic is to be found not in his paintings, but in his wood and copper engravings. In recognising the specific value of engray- ing and making it technically capable of conquering the entire domain of fantasy, he loosed not only his own but the age’s tongue. In these arts he appears in the fulness of his genius, and reveals the “collected secret treasure of his heart.” The germs of the creations of Cornelius, Ludwig Richter, Schwind, and Bécklin in our own day, lie in the works of Durer, the most profound and powerful painter-poet recorded in the history of art.

The fact that his career began with the Apocalypse, the representation of wild, fantastic ideas hardly possi- ble to express in art, is characteristic for the tendency of his genius. In his hands even that which is contrary to nature found organic presentation. Like an uncanny dream, like a ghostly face, the gnostic vision passes before our eyes. But at the same time that he was labouring with the Apocalypse, the Life of Mary took shape in his mind; and the dzemonic artist of the world of revelation transformed himself into a refined, soulful story-teller, whose pleasant idyls, woven out of German


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country life, German houses, and German furniture, made the life of the Mother of God as simple and intelligible as that of a woman of old Nuremberg. He is equally celebrated as the poet of the story of Christ. Even before Luther had thought of his translation of the Bible, Durer had translated the gospel for his people and had made the Roman-Asiatic types of Christianity homelike and familiar to the German people.

While in the popular technique of wood engraving he treated simple themes comprehensible to the people, his line engraving reveals an aristocrat and a humour- ist. One thinks of Schwind, when Durer tells of St. Genevieve, St. Hubert, and all tthose weather-beaten hermits living with the deer and the squirrels in the midst of the German forest ; of Boécklin in his Rape of Amyone, or the Abduction upon the Unicorn—those an- tique prints pervaded by the magic breath of fable, in which the clear spirit of Hellenism is so strangely united with northern sentiment. His Nemesis, the Knight with Death and the Devil, St. Jerome, and Melancholy are world-known examples of Diirer’s profound, struggling art. Like the deep furrows in the countenance of Melancholy, this brooding woman, his art is deep and serious; revealing the struggles of a mighty spirit in an enigmatic, unfathomable world, in which the vibrating thoughts of a great genius labour.

Lest one should think Durer was only a brooder, a reticent and unapproachable spirit, one has only to


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read his letters, pervaded by the same crude and homely humour as Luther’s Table Talk. One has only to glance at his marginal drawings for Maximilian’s Prayer-book to observe that this serious man could also laugh mischievously, and that this philosopher was a convivial and joyful being. This universality is the extraordinary thing about Durer’s nature. Although a poet who was seemingly quite lost in the world of ideas, he was at the same time an observer to whose sharp eye the wide world was revealed. The Munich portrait alone shows the thinker, the visionary, and the brooding spirit whose art furnished four centuries with profound enigmas to solve. In the others, painted at an earlier period, he is a bold and joyful young man, who, like Rembrandt, takes childish pleasure in a pretty jacket, a coquettish cap or a handsome garment. As an artist he is just such a mixtum compositum of the most diverging elements. The same man who could be so brooding and abstract had also a sense for everything that concerned the world; and far from living away from it, he created works which made him the forerunner of the “intimate”’ art of the following century. His simple drawings of popular life assure him first place by the side of Quentin Massys among the pioneers of genre painting. His studies of animals did not find their counterparts in painting until Rembrandt’s Carcass of an Ox a hundred and twenty years later; his studies of plants and flowers are pages trom the book of that impartial realism which


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passes all boundaries of time. Pansies, columbines, meadow grass, bindweed, plantains, violets, and dan- delion—he draws them all with such astonishing grace that his aquarelles might belong to the present instead of the sixteenth century, and to a Japanese artist as well as to Durer. In like manner all his landscape drawings pass chronological bounds; they might just as well have originated in the circle of the most modern of artists, the Impressionists. If in any respect at all he was in advance of his time it was as a landscape painter; for he accomplished what the Master of the Amsterdam Cabinet had attempted, and prepared the way for that which Elsheimer, and, after him, only the present age again attained.

But Durer did not confine himself to observing na- ture with an impartial eye; he wished also to ascertain the laws governing her appearance. Beside the poet stands not only the realist, but also the investigator, the scholar, and the theorist. Heretofore northern artists had proceeded in a purely empirical manner. Trusting entirely to the eye, they were correct when they saw correctly, but erroneous when their vision deceived them. Durer was the first to proceed as the Italians had done from empiricism to knowledge; and through the learned works written at the close of his life, he created for Germany the scientific basis which Alberti and Leonardo had furnished the Italians.

“ As for Leonardo, so also for Diirer painting was only a form of expression used occasionally when no other


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thoughts filled his mind. Even with the palette in hand, he remained a brooder. If those only are to be con- sidered painters who afford delight by the harmony and beauty of their colour, Durer can hardly so be considered. His works are entirely lacking in colour sense; gaudy and hard, rather written than painted, they afford little pleasure to the eye used to colour effects. Just as in his graphic works art signifies nothing more to him than a form of speech for the expression of thought, so when he labours with the brush, he is occupied more with spiritual or formal than specifically pictorial problems.

The psychological problem most interested him in the many portraits which he painted from the days of his apprenticeship to the last years of his life. Aside from the portraits of princes, those of Frederick the Wise and the Emperor Maximilian, and of a few councillors of Nuremberg and merchants of Augsburg, he was seldom occupied with commissions. He painted only those who were related to him in mind or in heart or who seemed to afford an interesting psychological study. Like Rembrandt, he practised upon himself; he portrayed his father, the hearty old goldsmith, and the thin and hollow-eyed countenance of his brother, the tailor Hans; painted Michel Wohl- gemuth, his aged master, and created in Holzschuher the type of a whole generation; that rugged and warlike race, whose king was Luther and who effected the Reformation. From the purely pictorial standpoint his


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portraits are examples of the same miniature paintings which prevailed in the Netherlands in the days of Jan van Eyck. Every wrinkle, hair, furrow, and vein is depicted with documentary fidelity. While in Holbein’s drawings the lightest pen stroke is applied like a brush mark, Direr paints as if he were making pen strokes with a brush. While Holbein, in great, sure lines, seizes upon that which is lifelike in appear- ance, Diirer does not progress beyond laborious efforts, and seeks by the addition of details to establish the sum of character expressed ina head. But whatever is lacking in facility or workmanship is atoned for by his intellectual greatness. Just because he so far surpassed in intellect the dashing and brutal Holbein, the latter’s portraits, notwithstanding their skilfulness of technique, seem like photographs alongside of Diurer’s characteristic, spiritual heads. There the cold analyst reflecting the exterior of his subject with the infallible certainty of the camera obscura; here the brooder and thinker, who lends to his sitters something of his own Faust-like nature.

In his religious pictures Durer was dominated partly by psychological, partly by formal problems; and the very fact that he made such problems the starting point raises him above his surroundings. All artists before him in Germany felt themselves artisans, and fulfilled each commission as well as they could without higher ambition. Durer was the first to raise art above the handicraft and to feel himself


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an artist; he created not because he received com- missions, but because a power within him cried out for expression; he put his whole soul into his works, and had the feeling that he was working for eternity. Italy had shown him how great was the difference between handicraft and art.

When his activity began, the rigid and constrained style of Michel Wohlgemuth dominated the artistic life of Nuremberg. Diirer lingered in his workshop, but only like the king’s son in the fable who, losing his way, had wandered into the charcoal-burners’ hut. As soon as his apprenticeship was over, he dissolved the bonds which had connected him with the school of Wohlgemuth, and chose masters who were spiritually nearer to him. His first mentor, as is shown by the small Madonna of the Cologne Museum, was Schongauer. Then he disappears for a time from view. For if the altar-piece at Meissen and the Flora of the Frankfort Museum be assigned to this period, it would mean that during his youth Diirer had adopted the manner of Jan Scorel as well as that of Bartolommeo da Venezia with quite astonishing surety. We do not stand upon sure ground until his next works, inspired by Mantegna.

Upon his arrival at Venice in 1494, Mantegna’s prints, of which he had copied two, opened his view into a new world. To this great master he did homage in his first altar-pieces; almost as an imitator in the small Dresden altar-piece and more independent in his Bewailing of the Body of Christ, which even in


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subject is connected with the Paduan school. In the Nuremberg as well as the Munich work, there is no loose juxtaposition as in Wohlgemuth’s painting, but a rigid composition. In the latter’s work the tough metallic tone, the stony grief-stricken appearance of Mary, and the pathos of the old toothless woman raising her arms with a wild cry of grief show how much Mantegna’s style and figures dominated Direr’s thoughts.

When he developed from the creator of the Apo- calypse into the poet of the Life of Mary, these Padu- an elements were relegated to the background, and the painter of pathos became an idyllic artist. In the Birth of Christ in the Munich Gallery as well as the Adoration of the Kings at Florence, the Holy Family is placed in a ruin, full of corners and affording all kinds of interior and exterior views. Mary, with her fair hair protruding from a white head-dress, is the youthful and pretty Nuremberg maiden of the Life of Mary. Instead of harsh and emotional, he is quiet and mild— a transition from Mantegna to Bellini.

His development is the same that the art of Venice experienced at the beginning of the sixteenth century. When Diirer lived at Venice in 1494, the chief paintings which he saw in the churches were the products of the school of Murano, and of Giovanni Bellini, both inspired by Mantegna. But when he returned to Venice, in 1506, Bellini had adopted his soft and harmonious style. The people thronged before his altar-pieces, and


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Durer also experienced the same change in taste. “The thing which so well pleased me eleven years ago does not at all please me now”: in this passage of his letters he announces that for him also the Muranese were a thing of the past, and that he no longer con- sidered Alvise Vivarini but Bellini as the greatest artist of Venice.

The Festival of the Rosary now in the Rudolphinum at Prague is the principal evidence of his admiration for Bellini. As he himself had softened under the blue Venetian sky, so his art lost its rigidity and con- straint. A soft, lyric tone, a rhythmic line, and something lovely even in his colour betrays that while painting the picture he was looking not at the crisp and pointed gables of northern houses but into the quiet watery mirror of the lagoons. The Madonna with the Goldfinch also, although characteristically done, would have been no strange note in the midst of the full round tones of Bellini and Cima. Even the nude entered into his studies; and the delicate miniature-like Christ Crucified, at Dresden, shows that the art of Antonello had touched a sympathetic cord.

In addition to this Verrocchio also impressed_him. For many of his line engravings, like the Knight with Death and the Devil, the Little Horse, and St. George, were evidently conceived under the influence of the Colleoni monument which had recently been erected in Venice. In another direction he was inspired by


VOL. 1.—19


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Leonardo, whom he met in Bologna.’ The content of Diirer’s Christ Disputing with the Doctors (Barberini Palace, Rome) is derived from the painting ascribed to Leonardo in the National Gallery (London); it belongs, with Titian’s Tribute Money, to that series of works which were created under the inspiration of Leonardo and treat the problem of characteristic heads, using the hands as a_ psychological commentary. From the tender smile playing about the portrait of a Young Woman in the Museum at Berlin and the Female Head in charcoal drawing of the Louvre, as well as from the “ crazy coutnenances”’ which Durer was so fond of drawing, it is evident that the caricatures of Leonardo pleased his brooding spirit.

The further development of Diirer after his return home in 1507 is vacillating. Although his angular late Gothic taste sometimes appears, he endeavoured, wherever the theme permitted, to attain rhythmic, graceful: movement and unity of composition; and while he never thought of casting aside his own senti- ment in favour of a strange one, he is nevertheless conscious .that realism is not necessarily identical with monstrosity and abnormal ugliness.

It is quite characteristic that immediately after his return from Italy he painted the life-size figures of Adam and Eve, now in Madrid. Although both are thoroughly German in conception, he would not have


TIt is usually assumed, in the absence of conclusive favorable evi- dence, that no such meeting took place at Bologna.—Ep.


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painted them had he never been in Italy; for his pleas- ure in the nude and the rhythm which he endeavours to attain in both figures are thoroughly Italian. The same figures of the Ghent altar-piece are rigid and angular, creating the impression that Jan van Eyck had seen only nude, northern models without bodily charm. In contrast to this coarse-grained ugliness there is free and rhythmic line with Durer. In contrast to the pure planimetric contours, filled with colour, of former German art, he endeavours, in the sense of Verrocchio, to give the figures bodily roundness and to create effective contrasts in movement. As a pupil of Leonardo he is no less occupied with psychological analysis. Adam longingly opens his lips, and a quiet smile—Flaubért’s “Ob sz tu voulais !’’—plays about Eve’s lips.

In his next work, the Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand, painted for Frederick the Wise, and now in the Vienna Gallery, he falls back upon the realism which had previously dominated German art; but in the Heller altar-piece he reapproaches the aim that since his Italian journey had hovered before him. The groups of the apostles are simply and carefully composed, and in place of contemporary costume he has adpoted simple, ideal draperies, the studies for which might well be confounded with similar studies by Leonardo. He also shares with Leonardo the quality of avoid- ing undue emphasis upon the formal. Although the soles of the feet and the hands are drawn with the


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assiduous exactitude of the primitives, he remained a psychologist in the manner in which he makes his portrait. heads types of character.

In the Trinity of the Vienna Gallery (1511) he has — attained the exact opposite of the style of Wohlge- muth. Where in the latter’s works one sees the wrinkled folds of wood statuary, Durer’s draperies are simple in arrangement and graceful in move- ment. Jn his own portrait, which he has introduced into the background, he no longer wears the cos- tume of the day, but a long and simple cloak. Where Wohlgemuth shows a confused conglomeration, with Diirer a solemn eurythmy of line prevails. In con- trast to the older German form of an altar with wings, Durer, in the manner of the quattrocento, has united the picture in a single frame rounded at the top.

Several other works which originated in the following years (both Madonnas and subjects like the Lucretia at Munich) contained nothing new. The only in- teresting point is how the recollection of the mosaics of St. Mark’s lives in his memory. Not only in the Munich portrait of himself, in that of Charles the Great at Frankfort, and his powerful woodcut the Head of Christ, but in several Madonnas, he has returned to the Byzantine tradition of full face; in order, no doubt, to attain solemn and monumental effects.

Not until the close of his life was he able to unite


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in a single great work the result of all his efforts. His journey to the Netherlands in 1520-21 furnished a new incentive to the imposing simplification of his art. He saw the paintings of Quentin Massys with their powerful life-sized figures, and the altar-piece of Ghent. “That is a delightful, comprehensible painting, and especially Mary and God the Father are excellent”’: this passage of his diary shows the path he afterwards followed. As at the same time the young artists of Florence studied no longer Gozzoli and Pisanello but the works of Masaccio in the Brancacci Chapel, so Durer no longer admired the miniature painting of Jan, but the powerful figures of Hubert van Eyck with their solemn and mighty draperies, thus approaching the same style which the artists of the sixteenth century learned from Masaccio. Several wood en- gravings enable us to follow the problem as it ripened in his mind. Simple and lonely figures, impressively conceived and executed, take the place of the charming beings which had formerly lived so modestly in de- lightful landscapes.

But the greatest revelation is in his mighty series of the Four Apostles, of 1526, long in the Rathaus of Nuremberg, but now in the Munich Pinakothek. According to ancient tradition, the « Four Tempera- ments” are represented ; and the fact that the series was thus explained shows how much real temperament and character reposes in each one of these Titans. Like Leonardo, Durer followed a double aim. He was


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probably attracted by the problem of characteristic heads; the saints formerly pious and contemplative, become meditative and thoughtful men. On the other hand, as in the case of Leonardo, the psychological are accompanied by formal tendencies. The powerful characterisation of the heads corresponds with the statuesque character of the bodies; and in this com- bination of psychic power with monumental grandeur, the Four Apostles are something unique in the history of art. Although similar figures occur in the altar- pieces of Giovanni Bellini, Cima, and Mantegna, they lack this formal simplicity and majestic, statuesque repose. Others, like Fra Bartolommeo at a later period, do not possess the spiritual grandeur; their mantles no longer invest a thinker but are hung ac- cording to academic rules over hollow lay figures. Albrecht Durer, like Leonardo, solved the problem of uniting the deepest intellectual content with formal beauty and psychic grandeur.


V.— Franconia and Bavaria

In the midst of his time Durer stands like a giant, his feet rooted in the earth but his head reaching to the stars. A monument dedicated to German art of the period of the Reformation would have a colossal statue of Durer as its central figure; all the others would sit as figurines in sockets at the foot of the monument. Although they are indeed lovable and sympathetic men, the name Little Masters, which is applied to them, characterises their relation to Durer. Following the all-embracing colossal genius who had dominated reality as well as dreamland, came the diadochit who divided his world-empire, ruling their little principalities as well as they might.

Some, inspired by the humanistic movement, devoted themselves eagerly to the antique legend, others to depicting the culture of the epoch. They wandered about the yearly fairs and markets among the peasants and burghers, revealing the scenes of popular life with primeval crudity. The picturesque figures of weather- beaten lansquenets, market women, maidens and distinguished ladies, peasants, young dandies and aged noblemen, kirmesses, weddings, and banquets— such figures and scenes defile past us in their prints.

But it was not only in the graphic arts that this development took place. The achievements of paint- ing signify less an advance than a retrogression into the old craftsman’s ways. There was neither emperor, nobility nor bourgeoisie with appreciation for the problems which Durer proposed; and when later, on account of the Reformation, German intellectual life adopted a petty trend and lost itself in dreary and colourless quarrels, the tender flower of art must have frozen in this icy atmosphere.

Hans Siss of Kulmbach is a mild and pleasing master, much like a descendant through a feminine collateral line from Diirer’s harsh and manly art.

Hans Schaufeieln, the illustrator of Herr Thuerdank, fulfilled honestly, as might have been expected from a master-painter of Nérdlingen, his numerous com- missions. Barthel Beham, who had visited Italy, loved to fill the backgrounds of his paintings with rich Renaissance buildings. Anton Woensam of Cologne, untouched by the Renaissance, expressed himself in exaggerated late Gothic forms; with the archaic harshness which forms the characteristic feature of his works, he combines Baroque gesture with wrinkled, puffed draperies.

When speaking of German art one longs to hear the rustling of the German woods, to breath the fragrance of their ozone, and see nymphs and wood-sprites roving through the thicket. Faithfulness, inwardness, and an appreciation of the spirit of the wood seem to us characteristic of German art. We think of hermits sitting, oblivious of the world, before their caves; of green meadows and flower-strewn hills; of gloomy woodland slopes and pleasing valleys through which shimmering waters ripple. The fresh ray of the morn- ing sun breaks through the light green of the young birches, and leaping from branch to branch changes into diamonds the gleaming dewdrops, and into gold or precious stones the beetle comfortably crawling ir. the soft moss.


““ Da gehet leise, nach seiner Weise Der liebe Herrgott durch den Wald.”


Because these things are found with Schwind and


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Thoma, they seem the most characteristically German among modern artists; and for the same reason, among the older artists Altdorfer stands nearest to us.

He was a lovable, truly German master, whose pic- tures are redolent of pine forests, and in their sleep- iness and cosy sentiment strike a confidential and homelike chord within us. He began as a miniature painter. At the close of the fifteenth century Berthold Furtmeyer, who also lived in Regensburg, painted fragrant mountain ranges and the play of sunlight with fine feeling. Altdorfer was the first among the Germans to apply the delicacy of miniature to panel painting. His little pictures, therefore, seem curiously out of place in German painting of the sixteenth century, which still saw its chief task in proclaiming in large altar-pieces the doctrine of Christian salvation. But Altdorfer did not labour for the church. For miniature painting had since the days of Gutenberg become an aristocratic luxury; and Altdorfer, as a painter for amateurs, produced not altar but little cabinet pieces, intended not for religious edification but for artistic enjoyment. It is for this reason that one so gladly lingers before his works. As he laboured for the aristocrats of taste, he could go so far in advance of his time that many of his pictures, in their freshness of conception and sparkling colour, affect us like forerunners of the most modern painting.

In a classification of his works in accordance with the problems attempted, the first group would be


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formed of those in which architectural features are combined with landscape. For Altdorfer was not only a painter but city architect of Regensburg as well; and he enthusiastically adopted all architectural and ornamental forms which at that time were introduced from Italy into Germany. He therefore inserts into his picture representing the Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt a splendid fountain, which might well adorn the court of a Renaissance palace. For the same reason the scene of Susanna’s Bath is laid in the neighbourhood of a great palace, which in its gay splendour surpasses all the fantastic designs of contemporary German architects.

The second group is composed of panoramic. views over broad plains, of which the Berlin picture illustrat- ing Beggary sitting upon the Train of Arrogance is the most striking example. A princely pair, upon whose trailing mantles a family of beggars sits, makes brilliant entry into a Renaissance palace, which is balanced to the right of the painting by a dark mass of foliage; and between the two the eye sweeps over a hilly country upon habitations, streams, and castles. Altdorfer therefore uses the same artistic device which Piero della Francesca had applied before and Claude Lorrain adopted after him. By painting dark curtains in the foreground, he achieves the possibility of making the distance appear lighter and more spacious.

To the third group belong the pictures in which, progressing in the paths of Gerard David, he attempted


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to interpret certain effects of light. In his Crucifixion the heaven is veiled with dark, curiously coloured clouds, through which gloomy lighting he endeavours to render the sad parting feeling of the hour. In his Assumption of Mary the whole heaven is bathed in a fiery purple, as if a gleaming world of joy and mag- nificence were opened. Through the same skilful handling of light, he even succeeded in transforming in an artistic sense the most tiresome commission which he had received, Alexander's Victory. While the other battle-pieces at that time ordered from Bavarian artists by Duke William IV. and now united in the Munich Pinakothek do not rise above the character of coloured wood-cuts, Altdorfer spread a bright morning light over the sea, the hills, and the battle-field, playing in reddish gleam upon the pinnacles of the castle and leaving the other parts of the landscape in gloomy shadow. Armour, uniforms, and banners flash and sparkle in the sunlight. Not until the seventeenth century did another German, Adam Elsheimer, paint the action of light in an equally delicate manner.

But his most beautiful paintings are those which conduct us into the depths of the German forest. His name need only to be mentioned to remind us of the woodland, where sunbeams dance upon the tree- trunks, hermits sit beside their caves, or woodland gods repose upon green moss. No one before him had painted real woodland life. While all others had


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“gemalne at the entrance of the wood, Altdorfer was the first to plunge, like a miner, into the green shaft. The branches of the trees closed over him and the blue heaven disappeared; but he saw the sunbeams rustling through the green leaves and the moss spread like a velvet mantle upon the earth.

Even to his drawings, wood-cuts and etchings his delight in the German forest gives a unique charm. While Durer in his marginal drawings on Maximilian’s Prayer-book confined himself to clever scroll-work, Altdorfer sought by his trees, branches, and foliage to transport the reader into the silence of the forest. In the Triumphal Procession of Maximilian his prints, the Train of Prisoners, may be recognised by the German pine woods forming the background. How- ever different the content of his etchings may be, a tall and splendid tree, whether fir or pine, is added as though it were the artist’s monogram. The thick foliage and the heavy hanging branches of the pine, the thread-like roots, and the half-dried creepers winding about an ancient wall are more attractive to him than a biblical or legendary theme.

In pictures of this kind the figures are a matter of indifference; one only observes the woodland landscape enclosing them. Here in a green cave a family of satyrs has nested; there the wild solitude of the forest moves Jerome’s heart to repentance; or St. George, riding through a beech forest, has met the dragon. Neither the heaven nor the treetops,


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but only the foliage is visible. For the first time in the history of art the depth of the forest, as in our own days Diaz painted it, was revealed. Finally Altdorfer, to crown his life work, painted a picture which was a pure landscape, without any figures. Hanging, like his St. George, in the Munich Pinakothek, this earliest German landscape shows a simple bit of nature, de- picted with the faithfulness of portraiture. Here all time limits are obscured, and one seems to gaze upon the works of a modern painter—a deep, blue sky rising above a green clump of trees; a little lake, a narrow footpath winding over the meadow, a bluish mountain and a few houses—such is the content of this painting. All that had previously originated in this domain had maintained at least an external connection with religious painting; and when the landscape at first timidly appeared in altar-pieces, in order to have a justification for its existence it retained, even at a later period, the biblical figures. Even Patinir uses nature as a mere foil for the religious subjects; and although in his aquarelles Durer had rendered in- dependent landscapes, in panel paintings he did not venture to break with tradition. Altdorfer did, and through this he became the precursor of the great landscape painters of the following century.

Even in the sixteenth century he was followed, although timidly, by a few other masters. Augustine Hirschvogel and Hans Sebald Lantensack are known as etchers of spirited, quite modern prints, while


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Michael Ostendorfer attempted by light effects to impart sentiment to his pictures. Since his St. George of the Marcuard collection has become known, Melchior Feselen of Ingolstadt appears as one of the most interesting painters of the epoch. For this picture, with its Marée horse, its Nickelmann dragon, and its Corot tree, combined with the delightful cosiness and story-telling sentiment of the whole, is a fine example of childish and hearty German fantasy.

Even to Cranach one can only be just in the presence of his “intimate’”’ paintings. The other works, which during his lifetime brought him fame and reputation, have now but little to say to us. However often he painted the spiritual heroes of the sixteenth century his portraits of Luther reveal nothing of the warm- hearted temperament of the reformer, as little as those of Melanchthon disclose the thoughtful delicacy of the scholar. They are simply great men seen through the temperament of a philistine. The dogmatising altar- pieces which serve as professions of his Protestant faith have only a didactic, even schoolmasterly effect ; they are learned treatises, as different from former pictures as an intelligible and naturalistic Protestant sermon differs from the poetic lyricism of the Gospels; as a whitewashed Protestant church from a mighty cathedral gleaming in the splendour of tapers and flooded with the notes of the organ. But he is most distressing of all when attempting to play the academi- cian and to render life-sized figures: the greater the


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size, the more awful the void. There are half-length pictures of Judith with red Rembrandtesque hats, showing with droll smiles a sword and a pewter bowl containing a decapitated head; there are full-length women wearing heavy golden necklaces, who when escorted by a Cupid are called Venus, or when senti- mentally thrusting a dagger into their breasts are characterised as Lucretia. Everything is weak and schematic in drawing and affected in sentiment.

But when upon the point of turning from Cranach as a dry pedant, an empty exaggerator or an aged talker, one suddenly discovers that the same man has painted pictures which, in their honest inwardness and simple thoughtfulness belong to the most delightful products of German life. Among these are the delicate yellow-haired Madonnas which fill one with such homelike pleasure in foreign collections—as when in the midst of fiery Romanic eyes the clear, faithful glance of a German eye meets us; or when in foreign climes the ear unexpectedly catches a simple German folk-song, sung with untrained voice but hearty feeling. Among these paintings, also, are his mis- chievous panels of the Fountain of Youth, in which old hags climbing into the water basin appear upon the other side as dainty maidens. Here also belong his pictures of Bathsheba, which are so Teutonic, and so simple and hearty in the manner in which the biblical bath scene with the lustful old men is transformed into an innocent foot-bath. A piece of Germany as our


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grandfathers knew it lives in these ancient village humours,—as when on a sunny Sunday morning they wandered through the flowering gardens and uneven lanes of an old German town, where fair maidens, look- ing down from oriel windows, sleepily combed their hair. Is there anything more dainty than Cranach’s fresh pic- tures of antique life, in which, however, the nymphs of German romance and the wild men of our woodland tales move and live? Far from the philosophic brooding of Diirer transposing the profound thoughts of a Faust into the antique world, or from the cold, clear correctness which at a later day prevailed, Cranach treats antique legends like romantic stories of the age of chivalry, with the same childishness that charms us in Thoma. Unspeakably comic is the gentleman with broad, well-kept beard of the formal cut of a Saxon elector, who at one time appears as a satyr, at another as Paris or Apollo. And the little maidens with the slight budlike forms, and delicate but firm limbs, and with the golden chains and red hats, associated in such an innocent manner with Eve’s costume, are surely charming. Whether they appear as coy forest queens daintily sitting on a stag’s back, as nymphs reposing beside a rippling brook, or as Venus, Minerva or Juno in company with the gentleman of the Saxon beard aforesaid—we have the German sentiment of story un- disturbed by a single academic trait.

It is the spicy woodland landscape that gives to these paintings their indescribable charm. Works like the


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Flight into Egypt have an odour of pine forest and a Christmas poetry which even Altdorfer did not attain. While the latter depicted the German forest, Cranach discovered the soul of the forest—the fairy story. Sometimes it even seems as if the toadstool was about to change into a gnome, the knotted branches of a tree into old Rubezahl,! or the clouds into elves. For all these beings are not placed arbitrarily in nature. As the insect procures its whole existence, and even acquires its form and colour, from the plant upon which it lives, so Cranach’s beings, enchanted by the magic of the wood, seem an integral part of the thicket. Gnarled stumps, misshapen as the alum root, arise; thick creepers, knotted roots, moss and ferns spread out; and in the midst of this woodland nature, in its rugged castles, dwell the inhabitants of the wood. Their cal- loused fingers are knotted branches, their wrinkled skin is the burst bark of a tree, their beards resemble that clinging moss which in the autumn hangs upon old trees. The denizens of the forest, stags, roes, squirrels, and wildcats, are their comrades. It was a fatality for Cranach that in the learned and courtly surroundings of Wittenberg he was so often compelled to labour against the trend of his talents. In\these simple pictures of fable he is the most German of Germans. One loves to think of him sitting in his drug shop beside the heavy pigskin folios, brewing the herbs of the German forest into wonderful elixirs. There is a 1A mountain demon of the Riesengebirge.—Ep,


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certain relation between his art and the pharmacy; for he and Spitzwerg, the two apothecaries in the history of art, are also most closely related as artists.

VI.— Alsace and Suabia

Matthias Grünewald, whose Conversion of Mauritius hangs beside Cranach’s Lucregia in Munich, again leads us to the southern soil. Not untruly does Sandrart, the acute connoisseur, call him the German Correggio. In sentiment, indeed, he has little in com- mon with the painter of Parma; his cruel naturalism, his delight in suffering and demonic fantasy found a counterpart neither in Correggio nor in any other Italian master; but in a colouristic sense the character- isation is accurate. For Griinewald’s relation to the school of Diirer resembles Correggio’s to the school of Rome. In the circumstance that neither prints from wood-cuts nor from line engravings by him exist, the difference is expressed. While other German artists pre- ferred the burin to the brush and gave their paintings the character of large coloured prints, Grunewald thought in a pictorial manner, and felt his power only in uniting bright, glowing colours in powerful harmonies. In his paintings there are no sharp outlines or arch- itectonic composition, but dissolving masses of colour and a magic chiaroscuro enveloping the scene with a subtle charm. In pathos also he is characteristically German, far deeper than the Romanic artists, although


certain shades of his sentiment remind one of Correggio. A certain dreamy, sensuous tendency lends to his Madonna at Colmar an almost North Italian character.

When Sandrart! characterised him as the German Correggio, he had, without knowing it, correctly determined the artistic origin of Grinewald. Correggio and Grunewald have sprung from the same source: their spiritual father is Leonardo. While it is not certain that Grunewald visited Italy, it must be re- membered that even to-day many a journey made by a young artist is not immediately recorded by a re- porter. In all of his pictures Griinewald used a kind of heraldic, late Gothic decoration—never antique : ornaments, columns or pillars as he would have done had he seen the South. He was perhaps attracted by something else besides the architecture of Italy. We know that when Durer went to Venice he was most interested in the problems of line, eurythmy and the nude. Although Griinewald was also impressed as his picture of St. Mauritius at Munich shows, by the monumental simplicity of Italian art, the mighty pose of its figures, and the nobility of its draperies, he was even more attracted by the wonderful world of colour and of sentiment which Leonardo had revealed. The effects of light in his paint are Leonardesque,


1 Joachim von Sandrart (1606-88), himself a painter and engraver, is the Vasari of German art. The seventh volume of his monumental work upon the fine arts, Teutsche Academie der Bau-, Bildhauer- und Malerkunst (2 vols., Nuremberg, 1675-79), revised by Volkmann (8 vols., 24., 1768-75), contains the lives of the painters.—Eb..,,


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as is also the smile that plays about Mary’s lips and the soft wavy hair encircling her countenance. The Madonna in the Grotto is the elder sister of the same subject at Colmar. Even the landscapes are different from what Germany offers; he does not, like Altdorfer and Cranach, paint the young green foliage of German woods; but a sensuous, sappy nature, recalling the Riviera. All the plants are luxuriant and rich in col- our, almost seeming to smother in their overpowering fulness of life. Every tree makes the impression of rapid tropical growth. Sappy parasites wind from stem to stem; garlands and creepers climb luxuriantly through the branches; and glowing red roses gleam from the dark foliage. It is curious to hear that even the donor of Griinewald’s principal work was an Italian, the preceptor Guido Guersi; but even stranger to observe that many of his Leonardesque qualities are found in the works of an older artist of Mayence, the Master of the Amsterdam Cabinet.

In its pictorial and spiritual qualities, Griinewald’s masterpiece, the celebrated Isenheim altar-piece, now in the Museum of Colmar, is the most astonishing work produced by German art during the fifteenth century. Although he does not stand in such close relation to nature as Cranach and Altdorfer, and al- though it is useless to seek for German soulfulness in his works, he has nevertheless run through the whole scale of human emotion: from transfigured sensuality to cruel tragedy, and from joyful ecstasy to ghostly


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‘‘Satanism.” An entire witches’ Sabbath is let loose in his painting representing the Temptation of St. Antony. From the ravines and the fissure in the rock hideous monsters crawl forth, not the tame little devils of Schongauer, but wild demonic creatures. Then there is a change of scene; heaven opens, angels descend, and a golden temple of luxuriant parasites, grape vines, and flowers arises, as if by magic, from the landscape. Cherubim descend, making music and singing in stormy devotion to Mary. In the other wings of the altar, a wild cry of pain strikes us. The sufferings of Christ are over; the arms of the cross bend under the burden of his lifeless body. The wounds made by the scourge still bleed; the fingers are cramped, the toes stretched, and the feet swollen; the head, like that of a man who had been hanged, sinks heavily to one side. Magdalen cries aloud, and Mary sinks to the earth in deathlike rigidity The Resurrection is Griinewald’s greatest work as a painter of light. The starry heaven is opened and the clouds are torn apart; but while the earth remains in darkness, fluttering cloud-like light floods the Saviour, whose figure has no corporeal but a ghostly effect; it seems an apparition of light which has suddenly taken shape, only to dissolve again into vapour. This is more than a colouristic achievement; it is a new way of thinking. The linear style of older artists is replaced by a purely pictorial style, centring around the treatment of light and shade. A curious perspective in the history


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of art is here revealed. Sandrart writes that the painter Philipp Uffenbach, a pupil of Griinewald’s pupil Hans Grimmer, had often told him at Frankfort of the strange master who “led such a melancholy life’ at Mayence. This Uffenbach was the master of Adam Elsheimer, who inspired Pieter Lastmann, who was in turn the teacher of Rembrandt; and thus the two greatest fantastic painters of the North clasp hands over the centuries.

An immediate influence upon German art was not exercised by Griinewald. For it would hardly har- monise with the style of Hans Baldung to call him a successor.of this master. It is true that upon making the acquaintance of the Isenheim altar in 1512 he adopt- ed its creator's tendency towards dreamy and colour- istic effects. If nothing were known of Grunewald, the altar of the Freiburg minster might be celebrated as the greatest sixteenth-century German achievement in colour. The beaming light, the tropical landscape with the luxuriant palms in whose foliage angels are swinging, resemble those in Griinewald’s works. But for lack of the instinct of a creative spirit, the colour is subordinated to rigid line.

Of his later panels, painted at Strassburg, the al- legories and his representation of Death stand nearest to the sentiment of our own day. Baldung here shows a fine eye for the sensuous charm of the female nude. Women, music, and cats are curiously juxta- posed in the example at Nuremberg. Strange also is


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the dzmonic trend of many of his works. One thinks of Stuck’s Sin before the woman full of passionate desire at whose feet the serpent crawls, or of Rops, before the allegories of the Basel Museum, in which death, like a were-wolf, seizes youthful women, pressing his fleshless teeth in elfine, vampire-like passion upon their rosy lips.

As Leonardo was for Grunewald, so Giovanni Bellini was a mentor for the Suabian masters. They are equally unacquainted with thoughtful fantasy, German inwardness, or wild passion; but insinuating, charming, and pleasing in their gentle sentiment, graceful flow of line, and harmonious colour. The treasures of the Italian Renaissance had been revealed to them earlier than to the Frankish and Bavarian masters, and they dallied with these ornaments as the Italians had centuries before with the antique. One sees splendid halls with painted ceilings resting upon Corinthian columns, mighty niches in churches with open aisles, Renaissance fountains and gilded thrones, in the midst of which, as in the Venetian paintings, gentle and quiet events occur.

In Ulm Martin Schaffner was the first to follow this path. Instead of the unctuous pulpit tone sounded by Zeitblom, his elder countryman, he indulges in worldly causerie. There is nothing angular or rugged in his works, but all is of flowing elegance. In his principal painting, the organ-doors of the imperial foundation of Wettenhausen, now in Munich, rich Gothic foliage


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is combined with cupids, dolphins, and other joyful decorative elements of the Renaissance. Gay columns of marble with golden capitals arise; and the draperies fall with an easy elegance. His Death of Mary does not occur in her bed, as in older German paintings, but in the solemn nave of a church where, surrounded by apostles, she sinks toearth. For Schaffner had already been influenced by the representative spirit of the cinquecento, which considered the homelike and genre accessories of the older art ordinary.

Augsburg, in which, unlike Nuremberg, the life of a great city pulsated, was the little Paris of those days. Even to-day, notwithstanding the levelling influence of time, the two cities preserve this contrast: in Nurem- berg Gothic churches, oddly decorated tabernacles, and angular narrowness; in Augsburg broad streets, mighty Renaissance palaces, and fountains with statues. The fountain of Augusta, a proud embodiment of the Roman origin of Augusta Vindelicorum, is the characteristic feature of Augsburg. Not only by reason of its pride as a Roman colony, but also through its commercial relation with Venice, it was destined to be an Italian enclave on German soil. The high- school of Augsburg merchants was Venice, where in the Fondaco dei Tedeschi its merchant princes like the Fuggers obtained their education.

Its painters, therefore, were the Venetians of the North. Ulrich Apt alone, in his Crucifixion at Augs- burg, the altar-piece of the Munich University Chapel,


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and the Bewailing of the Body of Christ, creates a northern and Netherlandish impression. The pictures of the others all point to the South. Although Hans Burgkmair belonged to the school of Schongauer, his connection with Venice is proved by the fact that Caspar Straffo, a Venetian, was apprenticed to him in 1501, and that the background of his chiaroscuro print Death the Executioner exhibits a canal scene with gondolas. It would be vain to search for delicacy of feeling in his works. Even in treating such subjects as the Passion or the Apocalypse in his wood-cuts, he achieved only a decorative effect, and confined himself to placing ideas borrowed from others in pleasing surroundings. But the prints designed for the Wezss- kunig,a life of the Emperor Maximilian, are graceful and elegant, and moreover valuable sources of information upon costumes and arms. The same sense of harmony in form and colour also characterises his paintings. Quite Venetian is the mighty, gloomy effect of the Renaissance architecture surrounding the figures, and the manner in which he places the throne of Mary in the midst of the landscape. The heads of his Madonnas, with the regular oval and loose plaits of hair framing the features, bear the impress of the South. By a capriciously distorted position of the mouth he sought to impart a Bellinesque touch and something of the dreamy melancholy of upper Italy to his works. Even his feeling for landscape is Venetian; for he painted only southern nature—golden oranges gleaming


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in the dark foliage—never the German; nor did he attempt to render detail in sharp outline, but rather to attain misty light effects in which the outlines are dissolved in the decorative masses.

Gumpolt Giltlinger, a rather clumsier artist, offers in his Adoration of the Kings further variations of the same style, and Christopher Amberger is altogether a Venetian. His music-making angels, the soft, full figures of his women with their golden hair, the pompous columnar architecture and the glowing colour—all these things impress one as if the altar-pieces had been painted not on the banks of the Lech but on the Lagoons. His best portraits are in the Berlin Gallery: those of Charles V. and Sebastian Mutinster, which unite with the acute observation of nature, character- istic of the German, Venetian nobility of character and harmony of colour. By similar works the last great Augsburg artist, Hans Holbein the younger, achieved his world-wide reputation.

VII.— Holbein

Since Durer and Holbein are honoured as the greatest German artists of the sixteenth century, the in- clination to place them in antithesis arises; not in order to decide, in accordance with the well-known scheme, which of the two was the greater, but be- cause comparisons afford very valuable means of characterisation.

One is first struck by the change which had taken place in art since the appearance of Durer. As a pupil of Wohlgemuth, the latter began with angular Gothic forms, and laboriously achieved harmony and simplicity; while Holbein stood from the beginning upon the soil of the. Renaissance, which he had learned from his father. Besides the differences in time, there was a Striking difference in their surroundings; in the one case the uneven, angular Nuremberg, in the other the urban and elegant Augsburg, which also im- parted to its artists an urbane and polished character. Finally they were radically different in character. Although both were Germans they were nevertheless antipodes, While Diirer was at bottom a scholar and closed his activity with theoretical and_ scientific works, Holbein was quite indifferent to the theory of art, and, indeed, perhaps never took a pen in hand to write. As soon as he had left Nuremberg Durer at once kept a diary, or at least wrote long letters to his friends; but no letters of Holbein to his friends or family survive, notwithstanding his long residence abroad. This is indicative not merely of laziness in writing but of lack of feeling. Standing before the celebrated portrait in Basel with which he said farewell to his tamily in 1529, one receives a similar impression. His wife sitting there is the same being to whom he had sworn faith ten years before, except that she has grown older and now seems a burden to him. The handsome fellow of thirty-five, who wishes to conquer the world


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for himself, could no longer use this matron who seemed to him so provincial and countrified. “‘ Was schert mich Weib, was schert mich Kind, Ich trage weit besseres Verlangen. Lass sie betteln gehen, wenn sie hungrig sind;” this was probably his only sentiment for his family.

Durer would never have deserted his wife, whom he took with him even upon his journey to the Netherlands; and he was bound by the same tenderness to his native town. However much he rejoiced to receive a visit from Bellini at Venice, or when at Antwerp the artists instituted a torch-light procession in his honour, nothing could have moved him to leave Nuremberg. Holbein, on the other hand, was more suited in his unpatriotic cosmopolitanism to the international world of learning at Basel. Among these humanists he found his especial affinity in Erasmus. Could Durer be summoned from the grave and asked whom among his contemporaries he honoured most, he would have answered, Luther. He feared for him with con- stant solicitude, and read his writings with throbbing heart. Holbein’s life was influenced only by the Voltaire of the sixteenth century, the sceptical and ironical Erasmus.

It would not be wrong to call Diirer the Luther and Holbein the Erasmus of German art; for the latter’s portrait of himself has the same mocking and critical expression. In his portrait at Munich Durer appears as a visionary, staring rigidly into another world, like an


HANS HOLBEIN THE YOUNGER



PORTRAIT OF GEORG GISSE Berlin Gallery



olbein | 315


apparition of Christ among mankind. As sacramental and solemn as is Direr’s portrait, so profane and worldly is that of Holbein. His clear, light blue eyes gaze not into the other world, but sharply and keenly into this one. There is also something cold and merciless in this face of the man who, when his father ended in misery and his brother was overwhelmed by life, was as cold and indifferent toward them as others had been to him.

A document of 1517, summoning him to appear before court in order to answer for a nocturnal brawl with goldsmiths’ apprentices, illumines another side of his nature. From it one can see that he also re- sembled those Swiss artists who were known as such wild fellows. Urs Graf especially, a rude and ad- venturous companion, was a true type of the time. He marched through the country with market-women; served as a lansquenet in the murderous battle of Marignano; was warned in court to cease the licentious life which he had openly and shamelessly led with strumpets, and had to promise that he would hence- forth neither jostle, pinch nor beat his lawful spouse. Holbein also was something of a lansquenet. It is no accident that he was so fond of drawing quarrelsome peasants and lansquenets; that he painted the first courtesan picture in German art, that of Dorothea Offenburg; and that in his London will he made no provision for his family at Basel, but only for his illegitimate children.


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With this analysis of his nature, that of his art is also given. Diirer, the thinker, expresses as an artist also the power of his personality in thoughts. His art is poetic and story-telling, and his principal char- acteristic is a brooding element, a reflective absorption in mysterious, allegorical ideas. Holbein never offers us such heavy nourishment. Not only is the allegorical and thoughtful absent; he is also a stranger to the hearty and confidential element of Diirer’s work. In examining the latter’s St. Jerome one imagines that it is the artist himself, sitting in his quiet retreat near the Tiergartner gate, labouring at his engravings and rejoicing in the sunshine that plays so cosily upon the floor and chests. Turning through the leaves of his Life of Mary the student is charmed with the deep love of family pervading the works of this man, who was never blessed with children. In his landscapes he himself lives, as fresh, pious, joyful, and free as they are, and with the wanderer’s staff in this hand he marches over hill and dale. There is nothing of all this in the works of Holbein. Homeless himself, he was lacking in the German love of home. Although he had children, he only knew the child as an Italian putto. When he paints landscapes at all they are so much like applied art that one could more readily conceive them as chased in silver than as existing in reality. Mysterious nooks and cosy corners, inviting the beholder to reflect and dream, do no exist in his works.


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As Durer began with his Apocalypse, so did Holbein with book-titles; but while even in such work the former remained a deep thinker—as, for example, in his Knots—everything in Holbein’s works is char- acterised by a clear and flowing elegance. Besides the ornamentation of books, he also designed for applied art; and while Diurer’s decorative designs were dramas unsuitable for the stage (because in these things, too, he placed so much thought that no artisan could carry them out), Holbein’s, although everything in them is strange, whimsical, and joyous, were at the same time of a simplicity which admitted of practical execution. He knew exactly how much he could expect of the artisan and of the material.

Passing from the ornamental to his designs of figures, let us first examine those for stained glasses. Saints, Madonnas and angels alternate with sturdy lansquenets in gay and picturesque costume; not to forget those designs of feminine costume, which were resurrected thirty years ago by Makart and Fritz August Kaulbach. Finally, he also appears as a singer of the Messzad, in which work his difference from Durer is clearly shown. While the latter com- posed thoughtful religious epics and preached the life of the Redeemer to the people, Holbein only gives designs for stained glasses; quite unconcerned as to the emotional content of the subject, and only inquiring how the silhouette of the figures would harmonise: with their decorative surroundings. The


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same is true of his wood-cuts, which belong to the same circle of ideas. Durer never illustrated, but incorporated his own thoughts, bringing before the eye only that which moved his innermost being. Holbein’s illustration of the Bible would hardly have appeared had not Luther completed his translation just at that time. In his illustration of the Apocalypse ~ he shapes even those things which for Diirer contained the deepest riddles of the spirit into clear and elegant. forms. With the same impartiality shown in his designs for Luther’s Bible, he illustrated the Vulgate also. The Old Testament, with which he was con- nected by no ties of heart, permitted him to appear even more as a profane narrator. Even in his Dance of Death he is a jolly comrade whom neither the devil nor hell inspires with terror. The night of insanity broods over Rethel’s version, and that of Klinger is thoughtful and demonic. Death, as Holbein .con- ceived him, is not the great world-dominating power, but a wild soldier, who, like Urs Graf, takes pleasure in jostling, poking, and beating civilians.

Even with the brush in hand, he remains the same able workman. The entire manual dexterity of the old German stone-masons seems revived in him. He mounted scaffolds to decorate facades like those still popular in southern Germany and Tyrol. In his mural paintings of the council-chamber at Basel he obtained a monumental effect by a simple de- corative style. Even in his panels he never became


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a dreamer, but rather reminds us of the dual activity of Menzel. Examining the ornamental illustrations of Menzel for the works of Frederick the Great, one is as- tonished to see with what facility the same man, other- wise known as a realistic painter, was also a master of clever improvisation. So Holbein, the facile decora- tor and improviser, is in his oil paintings essentially realistic; he never applies the brush without consulting his model, knowing no fantasy, and trusts only his clear and sure eye. -

His first masterpiece, the Christ of the Basel Museum, only bears this title pro forma. It is in truth a powerful realistic representation, before which in our own day Léon Bonnat and Wilhelm Tribner stood in thoughtful meditation before they themselves painted the subjects which aroused the horror of visitors to universal expositions. In other works Holbein places the chief emphasis upon costume; he introduces as saints the beautiful women, much décolletées and in rich costumes, who at a later period aroused the same indignation among Protestant reformers as had Ghirlandajo’s figures with Savonarola. In the Madonna at Solothurn he has portrayed his wife Elsbeth Schmidt, at that time a young woman, and his oldest child. As in the northern Italian works, a knight and a monk stand at her side as guard of honour. The same noble simplicity was not possible in the Madonna of Burgo- master Meyer, the original of which is at Darmstadt. Here the problem was to unite a whole family—the


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father, his two wives, and three children—about Mary in a picture which should serve as an epitaph. It afforded, however, all the greater opportunity to a portrait painter; for it would be out of place to speak of religious feeling or to search for heavenly longing and lyric softness in this picture. On the contrary, just this Madonna shows wherein the gifts of the master Jay; for Holbein’s distinction lies in his portraits. Even in portraiture he cannot dispense with the coldness which is his prevailing characteristic, Such a clear and sober man was incapable of sentimental fits. When Holbein, unknown and searching for for- tune, came to England, he was taken up by Sir Thomas More, the royal chancellor. For a year he lived in More’s house, and through him he was introduced into learned and court circles. Yet in the following year he served the same Henry who had condemned his first patron to the scaffold. He witnessed the executions caused by Henry, and lived through a dance of death far more awful than the one he had designed. The proudest. and most touching figures upon the stage of Henry VIII.’s reign stand before us in his portraits: statesmen, princes of the church, noblemen, and beautiful women, over whom even while he painted them the Damocles sword of destiny hung. His portraits betray nothing of this tragedy; even the temperament and disposition of his models is a matter of indifference to him. A stranger living among strangers he only felt himself a camera obscura... Trav-


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ARCHBISHOP WARHAM OF CANTERBURY


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elling in the service of the King to Brussels and later to Cléves, he painted the proposed queens Christina of Denmark and Anne of Cléves with the same ob- jectivity with which he also painted Jane Seymour. One might almost say that Holbein himself had some- thing of Henry VIII. about him. One can hardly conceive of other German artists, like Durer and Griinewald, living in England. What could such fantasts have done in the midst of these practical, positive people, with their sensible matter-of-fact disposition and their sanguine egotism which knew no ideals ? Holbein suited England; when he became court painter to Henry VIII. two congenial spirits found each other. There was a secret bond between them, the same pitiless coldness. Even his colour appears to supplement this cold sensibility; for although Holbein occasionally used warm colour, cold harmonies are far more characteristic of his work. Blue and black, green and grey especially appear in cool and silvery harmonies, as distinguished as they are icy.

In this unparalleled objectivity lies also his greatness. Consider the portrait painters of all centuries; each one is more or less one-sided, succeeding with certain heads, but utterly hopeless when attempting to depict others. Jan van Eyck rejoices in pronounced ugliness, in fan- tastic noses, wrinkled hands, and furrowed coun- tenances. Durer, the master of the Four Apostles, succeeds .as a portraitist only in interpreting the heads of thinkers: while van Dyck, Holbein’s successor in


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England, is powerless to portray rugged, manly characters, and feels himself at home only with gracious womanhood and dandified nobility. In contrast to this, Holbein reflects nature with an absolute objectivity, and is equally great in portraying the business-like expression of a Giese or the puffed-up brutality of King Henry; a weather-browned, swearing sea-bear, or the distinguished ambassador Moret; the refined grace of Christina of Denmark, or the homely pro- vincialism of Anne of Cléves. Considering the paths afterwards traversed by court painting, one must admire not only the versatility but also the sentiment of the master. There is something imposing in this rugged plebeian pride which, even before the king’s throne, never learned how to flatter.

Even more than Holbein’s pictures one admires his drawings. For the modern eye is accustomed to value artistic mastery most when it is expressed with boldest directness. A sketch preserving the original thought, the very handwriting of the master, is dearer to us than the completed painting no longer revealing the process of creation. Holbein’s drawings, and es- pecially the sketches in Windsor Castle, therefore con- tain, according to the present taste, the quintessence of his art. He was the first to form for himself what may be called a stenographic style, which in its grand- lose simplicity has no equal in the art of the sixteenth century. . The simpler the means, the more astonishing © the effect. A skilful line of the pencil suffices to fix


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a character or to create the impression of the corporeal. Had he created nothing else than these rapid and accurate drawings, they alone would suffice to insure him a place among the first draughtsmen in the history of art.

When he died at London in 1543 German art was buried with him. That he was compelled to leave home and seek sustenance in a foreign land, already presaged the end of German artistic life. For in the religious and political struggles of the day art was necessarily silenced. Such works as still came into being were created by foreigners; and instead of German art there existed only Italian art upon German soil.

Chapter IV.— The Triumph of the Sensual In Italy

I.— The Influence of Leonardo

IF one wished to denominate the change which Italian art experienced at the beginning of the sixteenth century with a single characteristic expression, he might call it the reaction against Savonarola. A spiritual period was followed by one of sensuality, and the mortification of the senses by their triumph. When Botticelli painted, Savonarola’s elo- quence had changed all Italy into a house of God. The people streamed together to hear from him the gospel of renunciation and of the joys of paradise. The Banishment of the Vices, at that time so often painted, is no eternal allegory, but homage to Savo- narola, who drove the vices out of Italy.

But when the executioner’s pyre of the Piazza della Signoria had consumed the troublesome disturber of peace, what he had outlawed, sensuality and the joy of living, arose phcenix-like from the ashes. It is true that at this time religious notes were also sounded. Luther had nailed his theses to the church door at Wittenberg, and an echo of these blows vibrated

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through Italy. But it was only a soft echo which was soon silent. Italy did not need to be excited over what took place in foreign countries. The generation which listened to Savonarola was followed by a new worldly race which wished to enjoy to the full the pleasures which life offered. The earth itself had become a paradise, and the most beautiful thing in this paradise was the fall of man. If, as was related, a cardinal at the court of Leo X. had his bathroom decorated with love-myths of the ancient gods; if another declared that to the perfection of the papal court only women were lacking; if, as is reported, one of the following popes upon his death-bed answered with a painful smile to the priest who was painting the joys of the other world, “This pleasure will be all the greater the longer it is deferred’”’—all such incidents illumine, in a striking manner, the spirit of the time. And what happened at Rome, the city of St. Peter, is more comprehensible elsewhere. There were eleven thousand courtesans in Venice, and at Parma there is said to have been a nunnery where the experiences related in Boccaccio’s Decamerone could have been duplicated. A paganism rejoicing in the senses, such as had existed at Athens and Alexandria, had once more come over the world, Art is the chronicle of its age, and if a title were sought for the epoch following Savonarola, it could only be found in one like the following: art under the influence of sensuality. Glanc- ing backward into the past, it is not difficult to recognise


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in Leonardo the man who began this new era. For however much he may have resembled Botticelli, Bellini, and Perugino in spirituality, the soul which he gave to his women is a different one. For these artists, however different they were, the Christian gospel of the renunciation of earthly things was determinative. The eyes of their chaste and pale women do not long for earthly joys, but gaze, fore- boding future suffering, with melancholy piety into the infinite. In this resignation and perfect renuncia- tion of all earthly joys, they embody the ethical content, the innermost spirit of Christianity. Leo- nardo’s works contain no such religious sentiment. One is na longer reminded of a great cathedral where the quivering incense ascends to heaven: the odeur de femme has replaced the incense. The senses of these women have been awakened, and they no longer practise self-denial. Like a suppressed, erotic earthquake is the quiver about their mouth, and the moist shimmer which the Greeks gave to the love-goddess glistens in their eye. While Botticelli painted his Venus as chaste as Mary, in Leonardo’s hands Mary became a goddess of love.

The body also asserted its rights-against the soul. Those earlier artists thought with Millet: When I paint a mother, she should only be beautiful through the glance with which she beams upon her child. The earthly grace of Leonardo is not confined to the head; the love charm is indissolubly united with the body;


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and for this reason thin gauze draperies cling to the voluptuous forms. In his search for sensual beauty, he commingles the charms of both sexes.

In subject also he stands in contrast to the artists of the age of Savonarola. They painted the Crucifixion, the Entombment, and the Bewailing of the Body of Christ in a manner as gloomily pathetic as the thunder tones of the prophet himself. From Leonardo da Vinci, the steel-armoured youth who paces so serenely in Verrocchio’s Tobias, all the waves of the religious movement rebounded. There is nothing sad in his works. Even his Last Supper is not the representation of the sad hour of parting, but a masterly dramatisation of a great psychological event. In the picture at Berlin he did not choose the moment of the Crucifixion. or of the Entombment, but of the Resurrection. Christ is represented not as suffering, but as the victor over

life and death. It is not his friends who bewail the martyred one, but two saints ecstatically glance up to the radiant Son of God. Indeed, he goes even further. As he knew no suffering, he knew no age and no decay. He avoided every theme which rendered it necessary to introduce Mary as an aged matron, as Bellini and Botticelli had done in_their representation of the Pietd@. In order to avoid painting folds and wrinkles, he went so far as to represent St. Anne in the same radiant youthful beauty as her daughter Mary.

How greatly he touched the heart of his time in this respect is shown by the literary products of the epoch.


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The same significance that the treatises on perspective and anatomy had for the fifteenth century belongs to those upon the beauty of women in the sixteenth— such as the Venetian Luigini’s Libro delle belle donne or the Discorso della bellezga by the Florentine Firen- zuola. The same spirit of erotic sensuality and Olympian serenity henceforth prevails in art. The whole emotional content of the age is expressed in that Leonardesque smile. In the Crucifixion every expression of pain is softened, and the harsh severity of the theme is deprived of its realistic truth by delicate treatment. In martyrdoms not the physical pain and suffering, but ecstatic foreboding of heavenly joys is depicted. They no longer love to linger with sad things, but tim- idly avoid all that can cause pain. Christ’s heart bleeding and full of wounds, and his passion, about which the representations of the German masters centred, no longer exist for the Italians. It is dis- tasteful to this age which takes so much joy in the senses to see God suffer, die, and offer himself as a sacrifice. Mary, too, is neither the pale maiden nor the careworn mother, but an elegant lady of fashion who, even in her later years, preserved the charm of a young widow. The saints who serve her as guard of honour no longer resemble the ecstatic children of the desert and the weather-beaten grey-beards of former days; they are now joyful individuals for whom heaven signifies a court of love, and gallant young gentlemen bowing delicately before an adored lady. Indeed,


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they even receive a touch of feminine beauty. John the Baptist is transformed from the aged man in haircloth into a nude curly-haired youth with ecstatic glance; Magdalen, the penitent, becomes a fair sinner, and Golgotha has been transformed into a Christian Olympus, where there is neither struggle nor tragic pain, but pure unsullied happiness.

Thence to the actual Olympus was not a long journey. After Leonardo had opened the way with his Leda, all the antique subjects outlawed by Savona- rola found their way back into art. As in Leonardo’s painting, the pale Crucified One of Golgotha soared to heaven, and the joyful swarms of the gods of Greece took possession of the earth. The Hill of Venus which Botticelli, the penitent sinner, had deserted, now became the shrine to which the painters made pilgrimages. They knew nothing of the solemn power of the under world; of the struggles of the demi-gods Jason and Perseus, Theseus and Meleager, or of the heroes of Roman history. Ovid alone is the breviary of the age. As they depicted even the religious figures deprived of clothing, so also they preferred mythological subjects, because the Hellenic was such a lightly clad and very décolleté epocn. In abrupt contrast to the monkish art of the past, they celebrated the soft linear rhythm of the nude; they painted almost exclusively the voluptuous love-adventures of the ancient gods who transformed themselves to delude fair mortals; and used antique subjects only to whisper sensuous, melting


330 Triumpb of the Sensual


words and tempting love-melodies. A kind of fifteenth century Rococo thus followed the impassioned Baroco of the age of Savonarola.

II.— Leonardo’s Followers

The painters who assembled about the great master in Milan have not as yet been adequately considered by modern scholarship, which has dismissed them as planets shining by reflected light from the sun of Leonardo; as imitators who change the hoarded treasure of the master into small coin. Leonardo, of course, forms the imposing background of the artistic life of Milan. We are reminded of an Alpine landscape, the highest summit of which is his mighty head, so like an ancient river-god’s. At the foot of the colossus the others contend; not giants, but men. Each of them had his own personality, and increased by some feature the realm of beauty. It is not correct to say that they only imitated the female ideal of Leonardo; every one had his own, differing in delicate shades from that of the master: the same melody, perhaps, but in a different key.

In the portrait of the Emperor Maximilian, Ambro- gio de Predis still appears quite a quattrocentist. In the portrait of the Ambrosiana formerly supposed to be Bianca Sforza, wife of Maximilian, the Leonardesque female type first appears. How deeply he absorbed


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Leonardo’s Followers "331


the spirit of the master is shown by the London copy of the Madonna Litta in the Hermitage at St. Peters- burg formerly also attributed to Leonardo. It is the representation of a distinguished lady taking pleasure, as they did in the age of Rousseau, in nursing her child. A sensual and piquant touch is here im- parted to the ancient motive of the Madonna. Andrea Solario, descended from an ancient family of painters, was compelled as a young man to leave Milan and received his first impressions in Venice. His youthful works, principally portraits and half- length figures of the Madonna; create the impression made by a pupil of Bellini. After his return to Milan he seems to have been influenced by Borgognone. Reminiscent of this phase of his style, which resembles that of the Empire, is the Repose on the Flight into Egypt of the Museo Poldi Pezzoli, the strange Madonna who reminds one of Queen Louise of Prussia. In the Madonna of the Louvre he has become a pupil of Leonardo, but a perfumed and over-refined one. His other painting in the Louvre, the delicate head of John, upon a silver platter, is an interesting example of how art, freeing herself from the church, is at this time used to make quite personal confessions. In his portrait of the Liechtenstein Gallery, Leonardo created the type of the demonic woman; and Solario, developing the theme, celebrates love as the demonic, enslaving power. For the refined head with the delicate features is probably his own portrait,


332 Triumph of the Sensual


and the entire painting is dedicated to the lady who played the rdle of Salome in his life.

Two other pupils of Leonardo, Francesco Melzi and Antonio Boltraffio, occupy a peculiar position, even as men. Such a charm was exercised by Leonardo’s personality upon his surroundings that young aristo- crats for whom it was not at all necessary devoted themselves to painting. With such dilettanti the problem is a peculiar one. Being less constrained and in a position to follow their taste more than a profes- sional could, perhaps also because of their aristocratic descent, they often created the most refined works.

Although Boltraffio’s female types are derived from Leonardo’s, he marks a new step in the history of painting. In former pictures Mary was always the Virgin: at first the maiden who had renounced the world, and then a more sensual type. Boltraffio’s Madonna in the National Gallery—a woman mighty in outline, with serious eyes quivering with suppressed melancholy, with deep black hair shimmering almost into blue framing her harsh, brown features— such a type has less in common with Leonardo than with Watts arid Feuerbach. The Child comes from its mother’s lap and returns into the lap of the earth: such perhaps was also the thought of Watts when he conceived the Angel of Death. A manly accent, a touch of solemn grandeur, distinguishes Boltraffio from the others. Solemn and sublime is the figure of St. Barbara in the midst of a gloomy, rocky landscape ;


Leonardo’s Followers 333


Stately and severe La belle Ferronitre of the Louvre} and of the Czartoryski gallery—both after the same model used at a later period for the Casio Madonna, On account of the same serious and monumental trend the Resurrecticn of the Berlin Gallery should perhaps be ascribed not to Leonardo but to Boltraffio. Francesco Melzi, Leonardo’s youthful friend, who followed him to France and was present at his death, is known only by a single painting, Vertummus in the Berlin Gallery, But what distinction exhales from this delightful work! Even the choice of subject is sin- gular. No artist before him, except Leonardo in a sketch, had painted that little-known tender scene of the Metamorphoses, where Vertummus, the radiant god of the seasons, changes himself into a poor old woman in order to excite the pity and thereby win the love of the chaste Pomona. With what choice taste the thin gauze garment of Pomona is arranged, and how entrancingly sweet are her dainty Rococo head and the smile playing about her mouth! With what fine taste of the connoisseur has he chosen all these flowers and arranged them into a fragrant still-life! True, the same dainty head, the same delight in flowers, the same seductive, tender female charms, and the same Hellenic spirit recur in Columbina, a painting in the Hermitage. If this, as modern research now assumes, is the work of Giampetrino, Vertummus


1 This painting is commonly ascribed to Leonardo, and sometimes identified with Lucrezia Crivelli, the mistress of Lodovico Sforza. —Eb,


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should also be ascribed to him. His other known works are principally Madonnas, rather glassy in technique, and in the midst of cosy, almost Nether- landish landscapes.

Bernardino Luini is the perambulating master-work- man of theschool. The many crowded frescoes which he painted for the small towns of upper Italy might lead to the under-estimation of his lovable talent. For he appears in these as a survivor of the quattrocento. Well-ordered composition and beautiful simplicity are lacking; and charming details like Magdalen in the Crucifixion are lost in the fulnessof indifferent figures. But in his youth he was a very dainty master, a true son of that Milan which sought in love-revelries a consolation for the horrors of war. He once painted his own portrait as St. Sebastian, looking ecstatically out of the picture, as if to charm beautiful women, and this trend towards an effeminate joyfulness pervades all his works. His picture of the Bathing Nymphs in the Palazzo Reale in Milan is something unheard-of in the art of the cimquecento; young maidens in poses approaching Fragonard, and a landscape as boldly handled as by any Impressionist of the present day. Ata later period he appears to best advantage in frescoes, when the problem, as in the Sposalizio is to paint soft and dreamy beings. Most reflective of all, and most reminiscent of Perugino, are those small pictures which he painted for quiet rural churches. At a time when religious sentiment was on the wane,


Leonardo's Followers 335


he imparted to biblical subjects an honesty and devoted tenderness which seem an echo of the quattrocento. He neither thrills nor frightens, but is mild and touching and most in place when the subjects are quiet idyllic scenes, silent friendliness or happy smiles. His female martyrs have an expression of supreme blessedness, and with sweet ecstacy Mary regards her Child. One quite forgets that many works like the half-length Vanity and Modesty are only the solution of one of Leonardo’s school problems; that in the semi-circular fresco in Lugano he had literally taken the Christ-child from Leonardo’s St. Anne and little John from the Vierge aux rochers. Yhe spectator never dreams before his paintings, nor is he led into a secret workshop reverberating with the throbbing thoughts of a genius. But because Leonardo has painted so little, we love Luini’s works as the emanations of his master’s spirit.

In the pictures of Cesare da Sesto Milanese blood is commingled with foreign elements. As he trans- planted the ideals of Leonardo to Rome, so also he himself adopted something of the Roman style. A striving after a grand style and a love of contrast take the place of Milanese softness. He regards the Eternal City with the eyes of the romanticist, and loves to depict native ruins covered with ivy in the background of his paintings. The principal example of this sentiment for ruins is the Adoration of the Kings at Naples, with its mannered and out-stretched figures. As the central group of these paintings


VOL. I.——22


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recurs almost unchanged in a picture of the Madonna in the Hermitage, this also, which formerly bore Leonardo’s name, was assigned to Cesare da Sesto. He is probably the only master in question in that lunette in Sant’ Onofrio which was also considered a youthful work of Leonardo’s. In the Baptism of Christ in the former Galleria Borghese he seemed half Roman, half Venetian, like a double of Sebastiano del Piombo, while in his St. Catherine at Frankfort, the feminine ideal of Milan is translated into the mystic and sickly—into the style of Gabriel Max.

The Madonnas of Gaudenzio Ferrari as well as the portraits of Bernardino de’ Conti are further exempli- fications of the fact that the school of Leonardo laid the foundations of modern painting of women. After Leonardo had shown the way, these masters were the first to realise the sensual charm of womanhood. They painted incidents like a flash of the eye, a smile wreath- ing the lips, the soft weariness following exertion, and the perfume of the hair, with the feeling of men to whom no sense of power but much appreciation of grace is accorded. That effeminate delicacy which has characterised so much of modern English art makes their works appeal especially to our own time.

Sodoma, the master of Siena, is the most over-refined of all. Like Luini, he also painted a number of in- different pictures. Possessing a ready pictorial talent, he fulfilled every commission in an elegant manner, and appeared, Proteus-like, in the most different


Leonardo's Followers 337


‘masks. Yet one feels which works occupied his heart and which his hand only. In painting Crucifixions he remains altogether cool; and if he attempts to be energetic he becomes declamatory. In his pictures for the monks of Monte Oliveto he not unaptly played the réle of Signorelli or Zurbaran; but he took pleasure only in the frescoes representing the courtesans at- tempting to seduce St. Benedict.

His delight in shocking the good burghers of Siena is a significant trait of his character. During his work at Monte Oliveto, he denied entry to the monks; and when he did permit it, the first glance of the pious brethren fell upon the group of courtesans, whom, upon command of the prior, he was compelled to furnish with clothes. In the Crucifixion of the Siennese Academy he painted himself as a soldier, in a sturdy, defiant attitude. The summons of the tax commission to make declaration of his possessions he answered with a list of all the strange animals which he kept.

Only when the problem is to paint women can he be taken seriously; he is then an enchanting master, nervous and sensitive, and inimitable in the manner in which he transforms Leonardo’s smile into joyous, al- most frenzied ecstasy. As he is bold, almost Parisian, in the courtesan group at Monte Oliveto, so in the cele- brated painting of the Farnesina he depicted the bridal confusion of Roxana with the art of a connoisseur, fur- nishing a commentary, as in an Ars amandi, with the Cupids. Although the Leda of the Galleria Borghese


338 Triumph of the Sensual


is a copy, it nevertheless gives an idea of the delicate Rococo perfume which pervaded the original. He is also a fine interpreter of the state of unconsciousness and of moments of gentle exhaustion; and the womanly sense of shame or a virginal blush could only be ex- pressed, as was done by Sodoma in his wonderful figure of Eve, by a painter who was entirely a feminist.

He was even more charmed by the hermaphroditic expression in many of Leonardo’s drawings of young men. When Sebastian dies, his smile is as full of joy as if he was destined in the other world to become what the abducted Ganymede was to the Olympians. The whole character of Sodoma is expressed in the figure of Isaac in his Sacrifice of Abraham. This youth with the head of a young girl and the delicate hips, crossing his full round arms over his bosom, is the Antinous of Christian art—an ideal of beauty which only occurs in times of the highest culture and greatest immorality. The swan in his Leda and the squibs which the Siennese burghers sent him furnished the logical supplement. There is something strange in the activity of this light-hearted artist, who began his career, like a grand seigneur, in revelry and riot, kept horses for the races, and walked about in silk and velvet, escorted by beautiful slaves, to die at last not in prison, but in a hospital.’


In his description of Bazzi’s life, the statements of which Professor Muther follows, Vasari seems to have been guided by no slight pre- judice against the lighthearted and eccentric painter, due perhaps to his extreme partisanship for Beccafumi, Bazzi’s chief rival at Siena. A


Giorgione 339


III.— Giorgione

Even Byzantine Venice had become a heathen city. With Aldus Manutius, the refined scholar, the hu- manistic movement began; the celebated Academia Graeca, in which he united his associates, considered itself a Platonic academy. At its meetings Greek was the only language spoken; a fine was levied upon every one who used an Italian word, and the proceeds were used to provide for banquets which remind one of the soupers 4 la grecque of the eighteenth century. The Hypnerotomachia Polyphili, that dreamy romance with its dainty wood-cuts, is the first monument of this time, when a breath of the bright and beautiful days of Hellas was Wafted over the oriental soil of Venice.

Painting, heretofore so religiously severe, also be- came an inspired hymn to the beauty of this world and the Hellenic joy inthesenses. Although Madonnas and saints were still painted, as in Bellini’s days, the spirit of the pictures was no longer the same. No Christian self-denial but heathen sensuality beams from the eyes of these figures. The body, formerly despised, becomes free, and voluptuous forms shatter the tender casement of the soul. Along with Mary,


fondness for racing was considered a mark of distinction in those days So far from spending his last years in poverty and dying in a hospital, Bazzi, the possessor of two houses at Siena, seems to have been in affluent circumstances and to have lived quietly with his family. This is evident from the documents cited in Milanesi’s edition of Vasari’s Lives (Florence, 1878-85), vol. vi.—-Ep.


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Venus is honoured, and the gods of Greece make their joyful entry.

At first there is little to be seen of this change. For the work which stands on the threshold of the Venetian cinquecento, the Madonna of Castelfranco, is so tender and oblivious of the world that it can hardly be distinguished from Bellini’s Holy Conversations. With the same tone with which the old century passed away, the new began. Two men, a young knight and a monk, stand guard before the throne of Mary. No breath of air moves, but everything is pervaded by a deep, silent repose, into which the saints also have dreamily sunk. Yet a dainty touch announces a new soul-life. However much the pretty oval head of the Madonna with its melancholy eyes and simply- parted brown hair resembles Bellini’s types her sen- timents are no longer the same. She silently dreams, sadly and tenderly, as if she were thinking of a distant lover. Although the figure is pure, it is pervaded by a refined sensuality; and one feels that for this artist Mary was no longer the Madonna; that he had kissed this mouth and had longed for this woman when she was absent. 5

“Vieni, o Cecilia, Vieni t’ affretta, Il tuo t’ aspetta Giorgio.” . , Whether these verses which were upon the back of the panel were written by the painter awaiting his beloved or by another, is a matter of indifference.


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For this other man also felt the delicate sensual per- fume wafted from the painting.

By every trait of his character Giorgione was called to be the pioneer of this new art. He was a native of the town whose church to-day prizes his altar-piece as its most splendid treasure: Castelfranco in the Marca Trevisana, to which poets were so fond of giving the title of “amorosa.” There nature is lyrically soft, and the air one breathesis sensuously laden; all is woven into a great and dreamy monotony of a mysterious and melancholy character. Men who have grown up in such surroundings are more sensitive in all their emo- tions than those who live among mountains and raw cliffs; for the perfume and melody of this strange, soft nature render the nerves more vibrating and tender. According to the legend, Giorgione was an illegitimate offshoot of the ancient noble family of Barbarelli; and there is, indeed, something noble in the complicated refinement of his nervous system, and something of the Shakespearian bastard in the wild way in which he stormed through life.

When he came to Venice he found himself upon his true soil. Vasari describes him as a pleasure-loving child, a worldling, who plunged full of passion into the whirlpool of life, progressing from one love-adventure to another, and tremulously enjoying a luxurious and sensual life. He depicts him as a galantuomo wandering through the streets in the evening with his lute and singing ecstatic love-songs to fair ladies.


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When at thirty-two years of age he collapsed, the number of his works was not large, and even smaller is the number of those which have come down to us. In the earliest of these, the two little pictures in the Uffizi, representing the Judgment of Solomon and the Childhood of Moses, he still appears as a pupil of Bellini. But although the figures are drawn in the style of the primitives, one already recognises that this artist was destined to become a great landscape painter. Softly and delicately, not in hard outlines, the graceful tree-tops dissolve into the soft firmament. Pictures like Bellini’s Allegory, the figure of a woman in a boat gliding so quietly over the floods, had probably made the deepest impression upon this dreamer.

But his admiration of Bellini was soon supplemented by that of another master. When, in commission for Tuzio Costanzo, the condottiere of Castelfranco, he created his first masterpiece, he had already made the acquaintance of the man whose art at that time illumined all Italy. In 1503-04 Leonardo had resided in Venice, and if he did not paint, he at least made drawings, and his female heads had certainly been seen by Giorgione. For the spirit which beams from the eyes of his Mary, a love no longer melancholy and self-sacrificing, but quivering and longing, is no longer the spirit of Bellini, but of Leonardo da Vinci. As he had found in Bellini his ideal as a landscape painter, Leonardo revealed to him the path through the joyful earthly realm of the senses.


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Several idyllic pictures form the transition from the Christian to:his Hellenic works. At that time a senti- ment similar to that of Watteau’s day pervaded the world. As in the eighteenth century men sought relief from the heroic and pompous in the Arcadian and the Elysian, so in the cznquecento, after the ascetic age of Savonarola, they wished to return into a Sat- urnian era, where there had been no Christianity, no monks, and no chorals; when the majestic wooded halls of the forests took the place of cathedrals; where men did not wait for the heavenly happiness, but en- joyed the earthly. Of the works of antique literature the pastoral poetry—that of Theocritus, Callimachus, Longus, and Nonnus—was most popular. As formerly Poliziano’s pastoral drama Orpheus had been the most popular poem of the day, it was now Sazzanaro’s Arcadia, published by Aldus Manutius. The bucolic and happy shepherd life of primeval days was the ideal of the spirit; as we are reminded by Giorgione’s Concert champétre of the Louvre.

From this painting one recognises anew Giorgione’s importance as alandscape painter. Aman of sentiment, so dependent upon his emotion that he could not exist without his Cecilia and died because she was unfaithful, became the creator of the Stimmungsbild—a painting reflecting the mood of the artist. With him everything was sentiment; so he was the first to discover language in which the soul of nature speaks—light. Like Watteau, he never gives a copy of nature, which seems


344 Triumph of the Sensual


to exist only in order that happy men may live in her. Even the trees quiver as if with tenderness and longing and all is enveloped in a dreamy and sensuous at- mosphere. In the objects also which he places in these landscapes the same longing, soft, and melancholy sentiment is re-echoed. He paints shepherds sitting as in a golden age near their herds, lost in dreams. He loves knights, for they also appear to him as the incarnation of days gone by: not wild conquerors devastating the land, but quiet dreamers who feel themselves the Last Knights; youths of soft, feminine forms, whose existence is passed in beautiful devotion to love. He depicts antique ruins because they also awaken elegiac memories of that distant time when no monks preached self-immolation and the cult of the senses was a religion. No man has yet guessed what he wished to say in his most celebrated work, the so-called Familia di Guworgione. Two objects are represented which seem to belong to one another and yet are strangely contrasted. Cecilia, the Madonna of Castelfranco, has become a young mother, nursing a child at her bosom. In no respect does she resemble the quiet Mary; there is nothing left of the ethereal chastity of the quatirocento.

This picture also prepares us for the one with which Giorgione concluded his life-work, his celebrated Venus in the Gallery of Dresden. That which in the Madonna at Castelfranco was longing, is here fulfilment. In unveiled beauty, Cecilia reclines upon the couch.


Correggio 345


The little figure of the Familia has become a life-sized female nude, and the Madonna of Castelfranco has become Aphrodite. In contrast to Botticelli’s Venus, in which the spiritual asceticism of the middle age still lingers, Je cri de la chair here rises joyfully to heaven. Soft, undulating limbs are wearily distended. Only a man of such refined sense as Giorgione, painting not a picture but an experience, could throw open the portals of this new era.

When he was buried, the work was incomplete, and it is almost symbolic that Titian completed it by adding the landscape background. Indeed, in a second work which also hung incomplete in his studio, one might find an allegory of Giorgione’s own career. It repre- sents three philosophers, of whom only the youngest turns to the rising sun, while the two elder stand un- concerned at his side. So the youthful Giorgione was the first to see the rosy dawn of the new epoch; but artists older than he, following his leadership, continued his life-work.

IV.— Correggio

In Correggio, the Legnardo of Parma, another shade of the erotic element in Italian painting appears. In all the other artists of the epoch the sensuality was external. For Giorgione his Cecilia was everything, and the sensuality of Bazzi is sufficiently indicated by his nickname. In the case of Correggio we know nothing


346 Triumph of the Sensual


of such things. According to Vasari, as a lad he was “bashful and inclined to dreaming and melancholy.” Although he visited different seats of art, he never became intimate with any of his colleagues, but was interested only in their pictures, inspecting them timidly as a cat, without any one knowing of his pre- sence. His stay in lascivious Parma was not marked by a single scandal, nor did he ever paint a portrait. He did not like to look people in the eye, and felt himself most comfortable when alone, dreaming about what the others had experienced. This distinguishes his painting from Giorgione’s. While the latter’s Venus has the expression of weariness and of the soft repose after embraces, Correggio’s figures are convulsed by a perpetual nervous trembling. His creations are dream- land figures, as, mysteriously laughing, they appear to the sleeper; the beautiful apparitions of a lonely soul full of tender sentiment, never outwardly expressed. To this his colour corresponds. In contrast to the figures of Giorgione placed in actual surroundings, Correggio’s live in a dreamland veiled by twilight, transporting them into the far distance. The power under whose touch they tremble is no warm body, but a cloud.

Correggio’s father was a seller of spices and the lad passed hours and days in the small shop, the odours of which have a stimulating effect upon the nerves. If behind the counter he read the Bible, it was neither the Books of Moses nor the drama of the Passion, but


Correggio 347


the Song of Solomon and the beautiful story of Mag- dalen that charmed him. The entire Holy Writ was for him a love-story. He became acquainted also with the romance of antique legends; for through Lady Veronica Gambara his native town had become a seat of humanism, and the lady took pleasure in the timid lad. One can picture her stroking his locks and drawing him tenderly to her side, as she translated for him passages from Ovid, and told him the love-tales of the ancient gods. With beating heart he heard of the amorous adventures of Jupiter, of all the beautiful mortals whom he had deluded, of Io and Dane, of Antiope and Leda. On closing his eyes at night he thought of them in feverish excitement, and they followed him like phantoms in his dreams. Such were the themes that lived in his spirit, that he wished to paint, and that he finally painted.

True, it was only by a roundabout way that he at- tained his end, and he was compelled to create many works which were against his temperament.

The beginnings of his art point to Mantua. In this town, to which he had come with Veronica in 1511, he received the first artistic impressions of his life. Man- tegna, who still invisibly hovered over Mantua, became his first guide. He dreamed long in the Castello di Corte before the works of the great master, as a child dreams sitting at the feet of a bronze statue. The spirit of Mantegna, all that his realism and scholarship had created, were for him an unknown world. But one


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painting attracted him, the only joyful one among Mantegna’s works—the nude putt playing about the ceiling of the Camera degli Sposi. They pleased him, be- cause they were so coy, so attractive, and so joyous. At Mantua he saw also the portrait of Isabella d’ Este and other drawings by Leonardo, and having seen one work by the great magician he was attracted to Milan. It is pleasant to picture young Correggio at Milan after the return of Leonardo, not venturing to express his admiration to the master, but seated timid and dreaming before his paintings. He saw that soft sfwmato which so effectively awakens the sensuous vibrating mood—and the heads which had hovered before him in his dreams: women quivering with joy, children modestly blushing when beautiful female sdints or loving youthful angels tenderly observe them.

His earlier works reveal how the influence of Man- tegna was replaced by that of Leonardo, and finally the independent Correggio was evolved. His Madonna with St. Francis especially, contains the quintessence of what he had adopted from others; and the Betrothal of St. Catherine shows the new element which he added. Leonardo’s female ideal is transformed into a more dainty type, that of the Tanagra figurines. A morbid delicacy and over-refinement distinguishes him from the other painters of the cinquecento as much as it unites him with those of the Rococo. Especially in the nervous, delicate hands with soft, quivering touch,


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the essence of Correggio’s art lies. All the white, small, slender hands of princesses which Parmeggianino and many later artists painted are derived from Correggio’s Betrothal of St. Catherine.

‘The following year (1518) was the turning point of his life, and the work which he created in commission for the noble prioress of the nunnery of San Paolo in Parma is characteristic not only of himself but of the age. Formerly the images of patron saints before which the nuns offered their prayers had been esteemed suitable decorations for nunneries; but Donna Gio- vanna thought in the Hellenic fashion. Diana, whose character as goddess of chastity did not prevent her from descending to Endymion, was the patroness whose crescent she chose for her coat of arms. And Correggio did not endeavour, like other masters of the Renaissance, to conceive a great and thoughtful composition, but confined himself to capricious, charming causerie. The putii of the Camera. degli Sposi and the foliated architecture of the Madonna della Vittoria lived in his memory; and the result was the delicate little beings joyously and_ gracefully sporting about in the midst of the grape-vines on the walls and ceilings of the priory. Now comes an abrupt change of scene, transporting us into the presence of the gigantic cupola frescoes of the church of San Giovanni Evangelista and the cathedral of Parma, As if Melozzoda Forli or Michelangelo had turned his head, the quiet Correggio suddenly became a virtuoso


350 Triumpb of the Sensual


who makes hair flutter and draperies swell. Gigantic bodies writhe, throw their arms into the air, distort their features; angels thunder and storm through the sea of air. The fresco of the cathedral cupola already contains the entire heaven that lived in the fantasy of the Baroque painters. It is astonishing how he mocks at all difficulties and with what sureness he treads the path which led from the Renaissance to Pater Pozzo.!. And yet how insignificant is the theme behind this clanging instrumentation! All is without force, form without content, the brows of thinkers without thought, mighty gestures without sense or purpose. Only in certain details is the former Correggio recognisable, as in the beautiful angels joyfully flutter- ing about the scene. Even the symbols of the evange- lists in San Giovanni are in love; the angel of Matthew embraces John’s eagle, and the lion of Mark jests with Luke’s calf.

Correggio’s scale was a limited one; and as, after his successes in the cupola frescoes, he was of the opin- ion that he could accomplish everything, he painted a whole series of works which show him from a dis- agreeable rather than a lovable side.

As often as he ventures into the domain of the pathetic and endeavours to depict the moments of great passion, his pictures are as false as ever was a religious painting of Boucher’s day. As in the case


‘A celebrated decorative artist of the Baroque period (1642-1709), whose chief work is in the church of Sant’ Ignazio at Rome.—Ep.


CORREGGIO



THE MARRIAGE OF ST. CATHERINE Louvre



Correggto 351


of Rococo painters the gift of depicting dignified and quiet manhood was also denied him. His people are beautiful as long as they are young, but insipid when they grow old. They have done nothing in their youth but smile, and now it appears how empty their hands were. One often feels that his instincts warned him; as when in the Bewailing of the Body of Christ, omitting the customary male friends of the Saviour, he introduces women alone as mourners, or when in his Ecce Homo, contrary to all usage, he introduces Mary and Magdalen instead of the soldiers; of course not the emaciated mother and remorseful penitent, but beautiful women with darkly-shaded eyes, ecstati- cally gazing upon an effeminate young man. But almost more numerous. are the works in which men were not at all necessary, but which he spoiled by the introduction of empty-headed giants. Just because his entire feeling was feminine, he took it into his head to label them as men, with the same result as when a delicate, elegiac artist like van Dyck in his early period imitated Rubens. A hollow striving after power took the place of real, powerful grandeur. By gigantic theatrical figures placed conspicuously in the foreground, or else by virtuose, forced efforts suitable enough for cupola frescoes but not for panels, he spoiled the sentiment of many of his best paintings. Even in the celebrated Holy Night at Dresden, his beloved “ragout of frogs’ legs’”’ in- trudes, depriving a scene which would otherwise


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have been quiet and full of sentiment of its greatest charm.

Correggio is great only when the problem is to render not power, but gentle feelings, not in pathos but in harmless play and laughing joyfulness; in painting not men but women and children; and especially where he remains the painter of the graces and confines himself within the bounds of a charming Rococo. His name “ Allegri” well indicates the confines of his art.

In describing his Madonnas. one cannot, of course, use the same terms as we apply to those of Botticelli, Bellini, or Perugino. When these masters lived a mighty, solemn and religious art still existed. . They understood the tenderness of religious tradition in all of its mystic charm, and had learned the significance of the qualities necessary for its expression. In com- parison with them, Correggio appears affected and empty. Where he cannot be pathetic he is affectedly sweet; he translates their sincere devotion into earthly gallantry, into a dialogue of languishing glances and significant smiles. It is characteristic that Joseph no longer feels comfortable in these scenes; he disappears to avoid disturbing his wife with her friends, who in their turn are very liberal with their attentions. Not satisfied with making eyes at Mary, if she smiles upon one of them, the other uses the opportunity to coquet with a beautiful lady among the spectators. This is the beginning of that exchange of glances between


Correggio 353


the figures in the painting and the observer which was a heritage of Correggio to Baroque painting. Correggio, if any one, was the genuine painter of the time, which of all the teachings of Christianity followed only one, «Little children, love one another,’ and that one almost too literally. Finally, it is a mockery to misuse the figures of Mary and the saints in order to paint love scenes.

Correggio felt this, and as far as possible he trans- lated his figures into heathen conceptions. In the Betrothal of St. Catherine Sebastian might just as well have held a bunch of grapes instead of an arrow and been called Bacchus. St. John is transformed into an Adonis, and St. George into a Roman general. But his life-work was just as little completed with what he had previously done as was that of Mantegna when he had completed the Triumph of Cesar. All those erotic visions which had dawned upon his youth when Veronica Gambara had translated Ovid to him, but had remained dreams, had still to take bodily form; and so at the end of his life he found at last his proper province. The same woman who gave oc- cupation to Mantegna, Isabella d’ Este, gave also to Correggio the opportunity of realising the ideals of his childhood. Yhe last picture which Mantegna had painted for her represented the Banishment of the Vices; but now all the beings which Savonarola had sent into exile returned in triumph. Not until these pictures in which, turning away from Christianity, he


354 Triumpb of the Sensual


sang only the power of love, was the true Correggio revealed. Here he has thrown off the mask, and the former dissonance between theme and conception has disappeared. The emaciated image of the Re- deemer no longer hangs on the cross, but, as in the etching by Rops, a female body, delicate as condensed light, appears; and over it, instead of the letters I. N. R. I., the word Eros is inscribed.

In his London picture, the School of Cupid, he ise down the basic theme. But the paintings of which one chiefly thinks when Correggio’s name is mentioned are Antiope in the Louvre, Dane in the Borghese Gallery, and Leda at Berlin—all intended by the Gongazas as presents for Charles V. The entire life of this man, who had lived so secluded from the outer world, had been a love-dream with beautiful women and laughing Cupids hovering about. For this very reason he created the most sensual paintings of his age, as. Watteau most daintily rendered the fra- grance of the Rococo. Being a sickly, lonely man, he never painted reality, but only dreams. It is no accident that the eighteenth century was so en- thusiastic about Correggio, and called him the prince of the Rococo. Sensitive and weakly, nervous and pampered, he represented the ideal of this over-refined age. Correggio born two centuries later is called Boucher.

His Jo at Vienna signifies the acme of the age of the triumph of sensuality. Here at last the word is


CORREGGIO


THE SCHOOL OF CUPID


National Gallery, London





Correggio 355


spoken which lay upon the lips of Leonardo, when he converted the chaste and pious womanly ideal of Savonarola into his own female type, glowing with life and vibrating with passion. Correggio offers grat- ification to the longing of the age. Along this path no further progress was possible, and the great reaction now began. All those masters whose art was a reaction upon that of the preceding epoch could not conceive of the nude without sensuality. By the following artists the nude was withdrawn from the sphere of the senses and raised to an artistic problem. The lines of Michelangelo,


‘“ Woe to the man whose blind and reckless hand Drags beauty down to where the senses stand,”


were intended not indeed for Correggio, of whom the Roman Titan knew nothing, but for his spiritual ancestor, Michelangelo’s great rival, Leonardo. But they apply to the art which ruled in Italy from Leo- nardo to Correggio. The epoch of eroticism and of sensuality was followed by one of unapproachable majesty.

Chapter V.— The Majestic and the Titanic

I.— The Conception of Beauty in the Cinquecento

HE change experienced by Italian painting after the disappearance of the influence of Leonardo can only be understood by reference to the

general change in taste since the beginning of the cinquecento. For all great epochs are pervaded by one artistic tendency, which permeates uniformly all expressions of life. As the men build, move about, and clothe themselves, so also do they paint. From this point of view it is easy to understand why the painting of the later sixteenth century considered as beautiful exactly the opposite of what the waning quattrocento had honoured.

Il Cortegiano, the manual of the perfect cavalier, published by Count Castiglione in 1516, is an account of what was at that time considered gentlemanly in society. It is improper, said Castiglione, to make violent or awkward gestures, to take part in rapid dances. The antique gravitas—a grave and sustained dignity—is mentioned as the essence of good tone.

In accordance with this sentiment a style of costume


356


Beauty in the Cinquecento 357


came into fashion which in its majestic fulness would permit none but serious, sustained gestures. The fifteenth century had loved an angular, coy slenderness in costume; somewhat stiff and pedantic for women, tight-fitting for men. Fashion delighted in the gay, lively colours, embroidered borders, glittering chains, golden caps, and gleaming pearl necklaces to be seen in Jan van Eyck’s paintings, and in ruffles, creases, and angular folds. In the sixteenth century this was all eliminated in favour of a great sweep of line. The form of garments is of grandiose simplicity, not over- loaded as formerly with dainty details. While formerly the suppleness and slimness of the body had been emphasised by short sleeves and tight-fitting hose, the costume is now treated with breadth and dignity. Women are clad in heavy rustling brocades, the puffed sleeves of which make the body appear broad and majestic. The skirt, formerly short, now received a mighty train, only permitting a sustained walk, an andante mestoso. A black cap and wide mantle, rich in folds, give the men a conscious, serious, and impos- ing expression, their movements, formerly so dainty, are full and round.

The portraits of the cinquecento differ in yet another respect from those of the preceding epoch. It is not unimportant for the psychology of the age that bust portraits, formerly the exclusive fashion, now developed into half and three-quarter lengths. While for such a soulful time as the quattrocento the head alone


358 Mafestic and Titanic


was of importance, the man of the cinquecento, for whom dignity of movement had become so important, preferred, if possible, to be portrayed in full fig- ure. Whereas formerly only slenderness was popular, to emphasise which the arms were pressed firmly against the body, now a pose is sought which will admit of the greatest possible breadth of movement. In consequence of the majestic impression which artists sought to make, the accessories are also changed. Even with Memling, the men still held a rosary, the women a prayer-book; and Perugino added to his portrait of Francesco dell’ Opere the inscription, Timete Deum. Now the ladies hold a fan and the hands of the men rest upon a sword. The conception of majesty would no longer permit of an humble attitude towards the other world. Even the age of the men portrayed is changed. At the beginning of the quattrocento, when it was the custom to observe every- thing microscopically, portrait-painters preferred the heads richest in detail—in wrinkles and folds—and consequently matrons and old men. Later, when the tendency towards daintiness prevailed, girls and youthful pages were the favourite subjects; and even when men were represented, they retained something youthful in their tight-fitting costume, curled hair, and smooth-shaven faces. The cinquecento has nothing to compare with the graceful, girlish busts depicted at the close of the fifteenth century. Whether one thinks of Lavinia, Dorothea, or the Donna Velata, the


Beauty in the Cinquecento 359


galleries of beauty of the sixteenth century consist only of ripe, well-developed womanhood. In like manner the portraits of youths are rare. The subjects are almost exclusively men, no longer shaved but with countenances framed by a serious beard; at that age which most gives the impression of gravitd riposata— of dignity and power.

Just as men appear serious and powerful in their portraits, so the apartments in which they move are great and spacious. During the Early Renais- sance the chief aim of architects was to attain fresh grace and slender elegance in their buildings. The slender columns of the palaces resemble the people in their tight-fitting clothes; and the walls of the buildings were as richly and daintily decorated as the costumes. In the sixteenth century, in harmony with the changes in costume and movement, there appears also in architecture impressive power and simple grandeur. All trifling ornament is avoided; the forms are heavy and massive, the apartments high and broad, in order that the majestic bearing may not be restricted.

As the paintings must correspond with these men and this architecture, a new ideal of beauty finds its introduction into art. It is sufficient to compare the Madonnas of the cznquecento with those of the pre- vious epoch. In the quattrocento the forms were slender and delicate, austere and budlike; in Leonardo’s day the closed bud began to open; and now it beams


360 Majestic and Titanic


in mature, summer-like splendour. Another language of gesture is developed. | Whereas in the paintings of Filippino and Pollajuolo the figures had walked in a dainty measure, they now stand firmly upon the ground. Then they had stretched the little finger and held their garments with affected elegance; now they affect neither the graceful gestures of the quattrocento nor the soft, subtle ones of Leonardo’s day, but broad and princely movements.

The psychological change is no less radical. People who preferred the sword and fan to prayer-book and rosary in their portraits could have no more use for humble saints, nor conceive of the divine in servile form. In place, therefore, of the wmilta, which had been the ideal of the age of Savonarola, maestd now appears. If formerly Mary’s hair was covered by a gloomy matron’s veil, she is now clad in princely garments. If she had formerly been the devoted handmaiden of the Lord, and later in the works of Correggio a woman of the world, she has now become the queen of heaven. Neither melancholy nor tenderness beams from her eye; but proud and dis- tinguished, lofty and unapproachable, she glances down from above. An odor di regina pervades her being. The complete absence of the motive of the nursing Madonna, to which the age of Leonardo had imparted a slight tendency towards the sensual, must likewise be attributed to these conceptions of dignity and princely majesty.


Beauty in the Cinquecento 361


The form and the composition of the paintings also became different. The small and detailed panels which the former age had loved now appeared trivial; for the impression of the sublime could only be obtained in life-sized or more than life-sized figures. The miniature painting of the former epoch therefore finds no continuation. As regards composition Leonardo had indeed taken a decisive step. Improving upon the mere juxtaposition of detail of the quattrocento, he had attained the principle of compressing within a small space the greatest possible action. This tendency to develop the scene briefly and without accessories by means of a few figures remained in the fifteenth century the prevailing one. But Leonardo’s sense of space, his concentration of action within narrow limits, no longer suited a time used to such spacious apartments. As the high bearing of the czmquecento could not thus be limited, artists confined themselves more and more to a few large figures, moving freely and easily in the midst of a spacious architecture. It is a characteristic circumstance that, whereas during the quattrocento painters were often at the same time goldsmiths, they are now at the same time architects. Then they affected microscopic vision and joy in decora- tion, now a broad view and impressive sense of roomi- ness. The triangular composition which Leonardo preferred now seemed too angular. As in costume they no longer preferred bell-shaped dresses and small shoulders for women, but full hips and puffy sleeves,


362 Majestic and Titanic


they also arranged the composition of the picture in soft, flowing lines. The circle, bow, curve, and a wavy line are their prevailing schemes of composition.

Even the ideal of landscape followed this new taste. The fifteenth century, with its taste for sharp, angular lines, loved also in landscape jagged, harsh outlines, and depicted it in the angular bareness of its forms. The sixteenth, which affected softness of line, prefers also in nature curved and wavy forms, as is shown by the use of vegetable forms to soften the hard outlines. The earlier artists, who loved rugged, muscular men, exhibited the skeleton of the landscape, to which those of the cinquecento, who preferred full and imposing bodies, added flesh. The fifteenth century, which painted slender people in hose, preferred cypress, pine, and fir trees with slender and ascending, tapering and pointed forms. The painters of the cimquecento, on the other hand, avoided these trees because only the full, well-rounded form of trees rich in foliage corresponded to the majestic beings with broad gestures which appear in their paintings. The parallel even applies to the flowers. As the fifteenth century, which had created the graceful portraits of maidens, saw in landscape principally the charm of the springtime, the sixteenth, whose ideal was the well-developed woman, saw nature only in the glowing splendour of summer.

The artists themselves are as majestic as the pictures which they painted. In Castagno’s day, they were


Titian 363


wild comrades, uncouth and defiant as the unhewn walls of Palazzo Pitti; in the days of the Magnifico they became zsthetes. Savonarola made friars of them, and afterwards they plunged with avidity into the whirlpool of life. Now. they are settled men of the gravity which Castiglione describes as . characteristic of the perfect cavalier; radiant in majestic distinction, and associating as equals with the great men of the world.


II.— Titian

Titian, the mighty king of the Venetian cznquecento, has the same relation to Giorgione as clarified, quiet manhood to the passion and ecstasy of youth. With Giorgione, one thinks of the verses which Mogens w-ote of himself:


“Tn Sehnen leb’ ich In Sehnen”;


and with Titian of the words of Faust:


‘‘Entschlafen sind nun wilde Triebe Mit jedem ungestiimen Thun.”


Not in Venice itself, not even in the neighbouring plain, but in the distant Alps, he first saw the light of day; and his early years were spent in the midst of solemn pine woods and mighty mountain walls. This alone gave to his personality a different character. When he—a Hercules in growth, deep chested (for he had breathed only the keen mountain air), his


364 Majestic and Titanic


features sun-browned as if cast in bronze, his eye strong and clear, and with that keen, eagle glance which one ascribes to the world’s conquerors—came from his rude mountains into the shimmering wonder- city, into the sultry atmosphere of Venice, he stood be- fore the easel with a consciousness that he would achieve greatness and become the prince of Venetian painters, simply because he willed it. This force of will, this cwdpoavvyn, the serious direction of life, never deserted him.

As in the case of almost every other artist, there was a period in Titian’s life when he was not himself. When he painted the Gypsy Madonna at Vienna he wandered in Bellini’s path, and in the Tribute-Money he followed Leonardo. So there are also paintings by him which seem the product of Giorgione’s art: like the Three Ages of Man and Heavenly and Earthly Love. But just these paintings show that Titian never painted real St:mmungsbilder. Under his firm hands the soft fabric of Venice received the quality of granite. Even works like the Heavenly and Earthly Love, notwithstanding their ravishing beauty, are hardly dreamy and melting. Titian is no dreamer; he does not possess the tear-shimmering elegiac and bucolic qualities of Giorgione. When he is genuine, the real Titian is lofty and powerful, stony and firm as the mountains of his home. The light that flows. about his figures is not sultry and sensual, but cold and clear. Terms like lovely, charming, or dreamy can as little be


TITIAN



FLORA Uffizi Gallery, Florence



Citian | 365


applied to his works as to his home, the awe-inspiring hills of Cadore; but they may properly be termed powerful and majestic. The sublime element, cor- responding to the nature upon which the first astonished glance of the lad fell, and also the primeval power of the mountaineer replaces with him the dreamy softness of Giorgione, the son of the plain. He has something of the primeval trees of his home, which, growing in a stony, precipitous soil, were early strength- ened to defy all elements, because their roots were so tough and their branches so firm.» He even has much of the cruel egotism of such giant trees. As they robbed all the lesser shrubbery about them of sunlight, in order that their own foliage might be developed on all sides, so Titian, in accordance with the right of the stronger, pushed aside with his powerful elbows all those who would have lived and created beside him.

Yet another phase of Titian’s art may be explained from his mountain origin. The house in which he was born lies at the uttermost end of the village, where the hill begins and the Pieve roars down from storm- capped heights. He heard the wind sweep through the mighty tree-tops and rattle the joints of the houses; he saw uprooted stones crush against the shore, and the rain pour down from black storm-clouds. So he was the first to associate with the quiet repose and the tender lyricism of Venetian painting a dramatic and impassioned element.


366 Majestic and Titanic


The two principal works which belong in this class, the Battle of Cadore and Peter Martyr, were destroyed by fire—as if the elements wished to revenge themselves for his wild portrayal of their destructive power. But ancient prints have handed down their content. In a narrow ravine from which no escape is possible, men and horses struggle; the smoke of burning villages arises; rain and lightning stream and strike from the gloomy cloud. A wild and stormy note sounds through his Peter Martyr. The figure of the saint is athletic and powerful; that of the murderer bending over him is wild and gigantic; their garments rustle and the tree-tops bend in the wind.

If his Assumption upon its appearance only created cool astonishment, the reason was that in a conservative city like Venice and in the midst of a quiet, priestly, solemn art, the picture was felt to be unsuitable. As if drawn by a celestial magnet Mary, her mighty arms out-stretched, ascends towards heaven. Her dark hair flutters in the wind, the folds of her garments swell grandiosely, and a roar like the moving wings of the archangels sounds through the air; astonished, the apostles stretch their arms upward. In the church of the Frari, before the Pesaro Madonna one first recognises the dramatic action which Titian brought into Venetian art. At the base of a mighty column, powerful as those which were in future to support St. Peter’s, Mary sits; not in the centre of the painting, nor even in full face, as Byzantine tradition


. Titian 367


demanded. For the column is erected on the side of the painting, and is balanced only by a fluttering banner which one of the praying figures unfolds. With this the principles of composition of the past are deserted ; the lines are not arranged in regular arch- itectonic order; a composition which reckons only with coloured masses takes the place of regular linear arrangements.

True, this one characteristic is not the determina- tive for Titian’s art. Although his mountain origin explains a great deal in which he differs from the more naturalised Venetians, he nevertheless came as a young man to Venice. For this reason his art does not always remind of the summits of the dolomite Alps, but more often of the quiet mirror of the lagoons.

That Titian did not become a stormy dramatist is, aside from the conditions of the time, the result of the course of his life. Never had an artist a more even career; never did one understand better how to shape life into a work of art. His whole existence was a single great harmony, without want or mighty struggles, without convulsions. As early as 1516, Titian, receiving the legacy of his master Bellini, was appointed the official painter of Venice, and his course of fortune, a lifelong triumphal procession, began. In 1520 he appeared at the zenith of his fame; no meteor, but a quiet gleaming star, which, gradually but constantly ascending and in a slow course without diminution of power, brightens the firmament. The


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368 Majestic and Titanic


mightiest princes of Europe loaded him with com- missions and honours: Charles V., who summoned him to his court at Bologna and Augsburg, Pope Paul IIJ., and Francis I. of France, who, in flattering letters, sued for his favour. Two sons and a daughter of radiant beauty filled his house with joy—that patrician home which he erected far from the turmoil of the market-place, and where he lived independently, devoted to art and to his friends. Here he received Henry III. with princely splendour; here was the scene of those social gatherings which remind one of Feuer- bach’s Dante in Ravenna. Proud senators and noble ladies wandered through the shady arbours of his gardens, and when the sun had sunk, and the distant islands gleamed in evening twilight, the laughter of the gondoliers, song, and the music of lutes sounded over the lagoon. “All princes, learned men, and distinguished persons who came to Venice visited Titian,” relates Vasari; for “not only in his art was he great, but he was a nobleman in person.”

This distinction has also left its mark upon his art. What we call the idealism of Titian is not the result of zsthetic reflection, but the natural point of view of a man who wandered upon the heights of life, never knew trivial care, nor even experienced sickness; and therefore saw the world healthy and beautiful, in gleaming and majestic splendour. Artlessly he ap- proaches things which an idealist would have avoided, as when in his Danae he contrasts the royal in the person


Titian 369


of his heroine with the plebeian in the ugly old woman; or when he depicts the Presentation of Mary in the Temple as a great public gathering in the sense of Gen- tile Bellini, in which senators and bedecked patrician women, market-women and beggar boys are presented. But even the most ordinary he ennobles; the peasant riding upon his ass to market has the great style of the metopes of the Parthenon; and all his works are per- vaded by a great repose, the royal tranquillity of his own being. In his portraits this style is especially conspicuous. He never attempts to beautify or flatter in a servile way. With awful realism he portrayed the old and wasted body of Paul III. with the trembling spider fingers, the thin half-decayed lips, the bleary eyes whose crafty, fox-like glitter is all that is still alive in this mummy. In like manner Charles V. was well advised when he named Titian his Apelles. While other painters had painted only his pale, scrofulous, icy mask, Titian ennobled it with something of his own majesty. That black knight in steel armour in the Madrid picture, riding with tilted lance over the battle-field at daybreak, is not the loiterer with whom the electors of Germany trifled, the confused, hesitating mind which received its political instruction from Granvella the chancellor; but the personification of the coldness of a great general in battle, and of destiny itself approaching, silent and unavoidable. And the emaciated reticent man, who in the Munich portrait


\


370 Mafestic and Titanic


sits shivering upon the veranda of his palace, enveloped in spite of blooming summer in thick fur, is not the melancholy grey-beard, broken in body and will, who, disgusted with the world and with himself, a year later retired as a hermit to the monastery of San Yuste, and there, surrounded by ticking clocks and black cof- fins, constantly celebrated his own funeral. Titian had given him that of which Charles in his best years boasted —the penetrating intelligence of the greatest statesman of his day and the Olympian indifference of the ruler of two worlds.

Although Titian is celebrated in text-books as the painter of kings because the kings of the sixteenth century sat to him for their portraits, the title is more justified in a reverse sense. The man who was himself a prince among his associates ennobled, like a king by the grace of God, every one who applied to him for his patent of nobility. The artist who, when the plague snatched him away, was buried not like Pe- rugino and Ghirlandajo in the potter’s field, but like a king in the church of the Frari, made princes of all men. Aretino, the choleric man of letters, looks like Jupiter whose darkening brow makes the great of the earth tremble. The little Strozzi maiden seems a king’s child; and his daughter Lavinia is transformed into a Greek goddess, who has enveloped her mighty limbs in the splendid garb of the Renaissance in order to linger for an hour among mortals.

His landscapes are the result of the same feeling for


TITIAN



THE MAN WITH THE GLOVE


Louvre



Titian 371 }


style. He has painted nature in all her moods, but convincing truth is never lacking. Every detail shows an artist who has grown great in nature, with whom he never lost touch. Yet his biographers have endeavoured in vain to identify the localities; for Titian’s landscapes, true in detail and inspired by the scenery of his home, are never exact copies of reality. The azure tone of the distance is deeper, the brown of the leaves warmer, and the light of the sun more gleaming. He has created a sublime world, superior to the earthly world in nobility, because as a landscape painter he depicted not nature but himself. By reason of this exalted style he has become the painter of the heroic landscape, the forerunner of Poussin and Claude. His reputation was so firmly founded that the age of classicism, the epoch of Winckelmann, still called him the Homer of landscape.

This epithet leads us to another characteristic— the feeling for the primeval and the patriarchal gen- erally associated with the name of Titian. One can only conceive him as he stands in the portrait of the Berlin Gallery, mighty as a patriarch of the first age of the world. Eighty years have passed over him, but an indestructible power lies in that head, with its _ fiery, gleaming eye and the high and mighty forehead. A heavy fur cloak envelops his body and the chain of the Golden Fleece adorns his breast—not conspicu- ously but naturally. In this picture all conceptions of Titian are united: the distinguished gentleman,


372 Majestic and Titanic


the son of the Alps, but above all the Homeric patriarch. Although there are numerous other portraits of him, not one shows him as a decayed old man, or as a youth. He seems always the aged man, with whom the conception of youth is as difficult to unite as with Jehovah, “the ancient of days.”” To this mature old age, long after Giorgione rested under the sod, his most important works belong. They are the youthful works of an old man, the full, ripe creations of a patri- arch who remained ever young, This is not unim- portant for their artistic comprehension.

For Titian never painted the springtime nor winter, when the rigidity of death covers the earth. The beautiful sunny October days, when thick blue grapes gleam from the dark foliage; when the leaves shimmer in warm, brown tones, and succulent fruit loads the trees—such is Titian’s season. It is no accident that he is so fond of placing a basket of ripe apples in his pictures of the Madonna, or of giving his daughter a bowl of fruit. These peaches, grapes, melons, and oranges in their gleaming, golden splendour meant for Titian what the lily did for Botticelli, the master of the springtime. Even when flowers appear, they are never spring blossoms—snowballs, crocus, anemones or gentian-—but the well-developed flowers of the autumn, and perhaps also pansies or violets, because they are more sonorous and less youthful in colour. As the autumn of the year so also he preferred the autumn of the day—the evening hour, when a deep


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harmony of colour suffuses all things; even after a long, beautiful day the earth lies in repose before the veil of night sinks over it.

Corresponding to this also is his ideal of woman, with this difference, that she is usually portrayed ten years younger than man. For they are not exactly autumnal, these mighty women who seem never to wither, but to beam in an eternal, powerful beauty. If it is not autumn, neither is it springtime; but the high summer in its rich, mature splendour. Neglecting youth in its dewy freshness and its coy grace, he painted only, the proud majesty of the mature woman.

He paints her with a serious, quiet feeling of a settled manhood, which no longer knows dreaming or longing. The star which illumines his work is not Venus, but the evening star. The circumstance that no traditions survive about the models of Titian points to his dif- ference from Giorgione. It is indeed related that his Venus in the Uffizi represents Eleonora, the Duchess of Urbino, and for the others fair-haired Lombard women may have been his models, or German maidens from the distant Alps. For the proud and mighty female type of his paintings has nothing in common with the small, brown, black-eyed Venetians, who in their little wooden slippers glide over the Piazza di San Marco, as nimble as lizards. The Venetians of the cinquecento probably regarded Titian’s women with similar eyes to those with which the Romans gazed


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upon the German queen Thusnelda, marching royal and proud in the triumphal procession of Germanicus.

The principal thing remains that Titian, according to Vasari’s account, painted mostly from his own imagination, and only used the female model in case of necessity. Unlike Giorgione, the first to make a pilgrimage to the isle of Cythera, Titian knew neither passion nor desire. A female body did not signify a woman for him, but a harmony of form, line, and col- our. Likehis picture of Alfonsod’ Este placing his mailed fist upon the bosom of his beloved is Titian’s feeling for women.

In this Olympian repose, this lofty patriarchal tranquillity, he is the most Hellenic of all Christian painters. Even Correggio was not capable of con- ceiving the nude from the purely artistic standpoint, but inserted the most un-Grecian element imaginable, that of desire, into the Hellenic worship of beauty. Titian’s figures have nothing languishing or tempting, and no sensual smile plays about their features. Even when Jupiter disguised as a satyr surprises the nymph Antiope, or Danae receives the golden rain, his works are pervaded by the candour of antique sculpture, a majestic sublimity which makes them almost sacred pictures. Calmly, without desire, the great black eyes of these women shine, and because they are so unapproachable and so free from all earthly longing, they are free also from prudish- ness and everything trivial. Their nudity is as


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awe-inspiring as the exalted repose of Aphrodite of Melos.

This Hellenic spirit is also expressed in his religious paintings. “Hellenism, what was it? Measure, dis- tinction, clearness.” Schiller’s definition applies to no Christian master as it does to Titian. True, Christian notes are occasionally sounded in his works. When he depicts martyrdoms like that of St. Laurence, or the Magdalen as a crushed penitent, the Bible and skull at her side, painted for Philip I.—these are the heralds of that convulsed and ecstatic spirit which dominated the close of the sixteenth century. But even in such works he remains solemn and measured. In his Madonnas a festal Hellenic conception and classic purity have displaced the Christian spiritualism. The fall of the drapery is broad and majestic, the movement full and graceful. Not only Mary but all his saints have attained Hellenic distinction. They are animated by a feeling of princely power, not of vassal humility, by strength and not by weakness. Their bodies are powerful and their features bespeak a commanding majestic spirit. As Titian himself associated as an equal with the kings of Europe, so these saints associate in proud independence with their God. In all respects he seems the son of the great age when Pericles and Phidias lived. One does not think of clouds of incense in the twilight of Christian cathedrals, but of the murmur of the sea waves and of the solemn grandeur of the temples of Pestum.


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III.— The Contemporaries of Titian

Although Titian was the centre of Venetian art as Leonardo of Milanese and Durer of German, the follow- ing are independent masters. each one of whom has added a new province to the realm of beauty. None of them, however, equals the giant of Pieve in his all- embracing power.

In the works of Palma Vecchio the soft repose of Venetian art almost degenerates into ennui without temperament. He painted much the same subjects as Titian: especially broad pictures in which the Madonna surrounded by saints is seated in evening landscape. As his activity began at a very early period, he seems even to have introduced a stylistic innovation in that he was the first to substitute full-length for the half- length figures popular in Cima’s day. His landscapes also are very beautiful, and hardly to be distinguished externally from Titian’s. The joyful peace and charm of his native town of Serinalta suffuses them. The eye is delighted with luxuriant fruitful valleys, brown slopes, blue distances, and the sun spreading a glowing red over dark ranges of mountains. In many of his pictures (as in Ruth and Boaz at Dresden) there is something cosily countrified, such as Titian has attained only in some of his wood-cuts. But he seldom passes beyond this pleasant thoughtfulness and a certain


mediocrity. As Serinalta, Palma’s birthplace, is neither a sultry plain like Giorgione’s home, nor an


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Alpine region like Titian’s, so his art is neither sensual and dreamy nor powerful and sublime. It is indeed attractive, but smooth and superficial; sympathetic in colour, but without fire; and nowhere is temperament Or spontaneous sentiment revealed. No matter how many pictures he painted, itis always the same paint- ing. Whether Mary, Barbara, Ottilia, or Theresa is represented is of as little significance as if in our own day Vinea labels his heads Ninetta, Lisa, or Giulietta. The same head and empty forms always recur; and if the lady, by way of a change, appears not clothed but nude, it makes no difference. Standing, she is called Eve; reclining, Venus. One of these pictures of Venus hangs in Dresden near the wonderful work of Giorgione; but a world-wide chasm separates them. What with Giorgione had been a transport of love, an ecstatic song of embraces, is with Palma the idealised portrait of a tiresome beauty lying upon a bed in order to display the full linear rhythm of her figure.

Even his portraits, which made him the most popular fashionable painter of Venice, suffer from idealistic retouches. True, these women are majestic enough; they are even imposing in the fulness of their wavy, luxuriant hair fastened with a pearl chaplet, in their voluptuous outlines and puffed silk sleeves, as rigid and festal as if a wire frame were fastened beneath. Sometimes they raise with ample gesture their heads of golden hair; sometimes they are on the


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point of powdering themselves; or else they do nothing at all but lay their hand to their head and gaze with a glance which might be seductive if it were not so stupid. It is a question whether this unintelligent expression is to be ascribed to Palma or to the fair Venetians themselves. Women of intellectual ability, like Cassandra Fedeli and Caterina Cornaro, were certainly rare in Venice, and there were perhaps few whose natural horizon extended beyond the powder- box. But even the toilette has its poetry, as has been shown by the Rococo painters and by Rossetti. In Palma’s hands, grace and delicacy, fire and gentleness of the eye, tenderness and mocking laughter are all lost in the same tiresome majesty. All the delicate dishes of the earth are changed into cold roast veal. After Palma’s death his heritage passed to Paris Bordone. Like Palma he also painted the most varied -themes. Most of his pictures belong to that genre- class introduced by Gentile Bellini: scenes from Venetian history played amidst a rich architectural setting. The only difference, corresponding to the difference in time, is that the architecture now bears the style of the High Renaissance and the people no longer move about stiffly but with ample dignity. But, like Palma, he is principally known as a painter of Venetian women. Almost every gallery possesses a portrait of his red-haired beauties, in gleaming peach-coloured costume, and Bordone has a more distinguished effect than Palma. He not only knows


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how to cause velvet and silk to shimmer as brilliantly as did his predecessor and renders the delicate shades of red hair and the soft gleam of powdered skin with equal appreciation, but also endows his women with such a commanding majesty, such a nobility of pose, and such queenly movements, that Palma’s entire art seems trivial in comparison. For between him and Palma stands the giant figure of Titian, to whom Bordone owes his great style.

The Bonifazii and Bassani play an important rdéle in the history of genre-painting. The former treated religious subjects as scenes from the patrician life of Venice, the latter as scenes from peasant life. It is vain to search for religious sentiment in the works of the Bonifazii. Worldly splendour and enjoyment is the prevailing sentiment of all their works. Festal buildings rise, and richly dressed people come and go; and the twilight, which they especially affect, brings unity of colour into this gay medley. It is difficult to say whether Bonifazio Veronese ever thought of the Bible when he painted his Rich Man’s Feast; for the painting simply represents the private life of the Venetian nobility. After his dinner, the nobleman sits in his garden with his wife and daughters, one playing the lute, the other dreaming. There is nothing great about his art, which is only dainty and neat. But as the painters in the sixteenth century, in their endeavour to attain a monumental effect, usually avoided genre subjects, the pictures of the Bonifazii


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are important as forerunners of the genre-painting of the following centuries.

The Bassani received their inspiration from the peas- ant idyls in some of Titian’s wood-cuts. They went into the country, drew huts, oxen, and waggons,- and transferred these studies to biblical and legendary subjects, which they decorated with rich landscape scenery. The household furniture and domestic ani- mals of their paintings were of more importance to them than the biblical theme. Thus a certain rustic trend was introduced into Italian religious painting, and the animal-painting of the following century stands revealed in the background.

The development of painting in Brescia runs parallel with the Venetian. In his dramatic actions and technical bravura Romanino greatly resembles the Venetian Pordenone. Moretto, one of the noblest painters whom Italy produced, gave his altar-pieces a grandiose and solemn character. A cinquecentist in the powerful simplicity of his painting, he neverthe- less preserved the solemn sincerity of the older time; and at the same time he strikes strangely modern accords of colour. In contrast to the Venetian’s love of full and vibrating colour tones, Moretto attuned everything to a fine silver-grey. He felt himself most at home in painting the white cowls of his monks, which supply the leading note for the colour harmony of the whole. In nature also cool and grey-blue tones prevail; the water is white and the clouds gleam in


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light grey. The evening red, with the Venetians a deep crimson, is with him a greyish or lemon colour. His chief altar-pieces, besides those at Brescia, are a fine panel at Berlin, St. Justina at Vienna, a Madonna at Frankfort and an Assumption of the Virgin in the Brera. Otherwise he is principally represented by portraits which are Venetian in their mighty outline, but almost northein in the intimate manner in which he depicts people in their accustomed surroundings.

In this domain he was followed by his pupil Morone, who, at a later period, laboured at Bergamo, and whose Tailor is one of the most extraordinary examples of the sixteenth century portraiture. Nothing is con- spicuous or artificial in the pose; but a representative sublimity or monumental effect is to such an extent the prevailing note of the age, that a simple artisan is here transformed into a nobleman, and his portrait into a product of a mighty, historic style.

Savoldo is the most interesting artist of the group. As he, like Melzi and Boltraffio, was descended from a noble house and practised art as an amateur, he could, like them, follow his personal inclinations to a greater extent than his professional colleagues. His preference was for landscape, by means of which he changed the traditional religious representations into studies of light and shade and Stimmungsbilder. The great altar-piece painted by Titian in 1522 for Brescia, in which the Resurrection of Christ is represented as


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taking place in the evening twilight, seems to have been the starting point of Savoldo’s art, which prefers dreamy-and mystic effects. In his picture of the Trans- figuration a mystic light radiating from the Son of God fills the air; the Bewazling of the Body of Christ takes place in a melancholy evening light; and the Adoration of the Shepherds gives an opportunity to depict the charm of a moonlight night. Even in his portraits he introduces light effects, especially the soft shimmer of the evening glow streaming in through the window and flooding the room and its occupants. As they were the principal problems for him, he took the further steps of projecting light effects upon simple figures of every-day life. The mysterious picture of a girl in the Berlin Museum is especially celebrated. With a brown silk mantle drawn over her head, she glides past with rapid observing glance; the evening sinks, and only a belated sunbeam falls upon her pale, delicate face. In pictures of this sort Savolo anticipated by decades the development of professional art.

Sebastiano del Piombo, who was eight years younger than Titian, can only in his youthful works be considered a Venetian. His altar-piece of the church of San Giovanni Crisostomo belongs to the finest flowers of Venetian art. The figures of the women surrounding the throne of the saints are of a serious and solemn grandeur reminiscent of Feuerbach. He also had such a sense for deep glowing colours as had hardly


GIOVANNI BATTISTA MORONE



PORTRAIT OF A TAILOR


National Gallery, London



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another in Venice. But after he had become a resident of Rome, in response to an invitation of Agostino Chigi, the Venetian painter became a Roman. Even his female portraits show the change: the mighty heroic woman of the Uffizi gallery with the broad Ro- man bust usually called La Fornarina, and Dorotea of the Berlin Museum, glancing at the beholder like a Ven- us Victrix, dignified and unapproachable. At a later period the son of Byzantine Venice was only revealed in the fact that he, even in heathen Rome, painted passion scenes, representations of the Flagellation or Christ Bearing the Cross and the Entombment, but the style of these works is Roman: instead of Venetian colour, a gloomy, leaden grey; instead of repose, a powerful dramatic action. This is especially shown in his picture of the Saviour summoning with mighty gestures the herculean Lazarus from the grave. Michel- angelo, the Roman Titian, was the demigod before whom he admiringly bowed the knee.


IV.— Michelangelo

Under Michelangelo’s leadership the art of the cinquecento took its final step. Since the beginning ‘of. the century all detail had been increasingly elim- inated in favour of the grand style. If formerly as much as possible of the beautiful world had been depicted in paintings, now the development of monu- mental figure-painting was accomplished. In this


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respect Michelangelo spoke the decisive word. While in the pictures of the Venetians landscape played an important part as an aid to sentiment, Michelangelo proclaimed that there was no other beauty except that of the human form. Not a blade of grass occurs in his paintings, and when in the picture of the Creation in the Sistine Chapel it was necessary to indicate the origin of vegetable life, he made use of a sort of primeval fern. A piece of marble is the symbolic representation of a city, a tree of the garden of Paradise. Michel- angelo’s only problem is the nude human body, the representation of which for him was the equivalent of art.

For the comprehension of his paintings it is further necessary to remember that Michelangelo was really a sculptor. One loves to think of him sitting brooding before the marble quarry of Pietra Santa, reflecting upon all the beings concealed in the cliff. Although his occupation with painting goes back to his earliest youth, he was in his element only when he held hammer and chisel in his hands. Painting had for him an indirect value as the necessary surface representation of plastic thoughts which he was not privileged to carry out in marble. While he was not permitted to complete many works as a sculptor, painting afforded a means of conjuring up a whole world of beings in stone. The onesideness with which he followed these paths from the beginning was terribly impressive. He was never charmed by colour or by the psychic


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content of a theme, but viewed the world as a sculptor alone, and is concerned only with the problem of form, even when it is not the expression of a given subject.

The Holy Family in the Tribune of the Uffizi is the first thundering revelation of his abrupt personality. Former artists had depicted love and tenderness, manhood and cheerfulness in such works and attempted to achieve the solution of a problem in composition. But Michelangelo was occupied with the problem only because Leonardo’s cartoon of St. Anne had appeared. His chief interest was in those beings with gigantic limbs sprawling about the triangular composition. In the foreground sits a mighty woman, neither the humble Mary of a former day nor the queen of heaven of the cinquecento, but a heroine with brazen bones, and bare arms and feet. Stretching her knees to the right and her arms to the left she reaches over her shoulder to receive the Child from Joseph, a grey- bearded athlete, who is seated behind her. The Holy Family has become a brood of Titans, and the old theme of maternal joy a conglomeration of powerful dramatic action. The colour is of metallic hardness, the landscape only indicated in so far as it is necessary as the ground upon which they sit. Where other artists would have depicted trees, Michelangelo plants nude men with neither name nor purpose except that they are there.

The cartoon of the Bathing Soldiers, drawn in 1504, gave him for the first time an opportunity to make


ee


386 Majestic and Titanic


the principal object what in the picture of the Uffizi had been relegated to the background—the nude. In- stead of a battle-piece with arms and cannon, which the Signoria had desired as a pendant to Leonardo’s Battle of Anghiari, he represented the moment when an alarm summoned a crowd of bathing soldiers to battle. One attempts to climb the steep river bank, another bends over to help a comrade; a third, sup- ported upon his hand, swings himself up to the shore; _ yet another lies negligently on the ground; and a fifth endeavours to draw his hose over his nude body, while his comrade runs about looking for his clothing.

A copious discourse might be delivered upon the content of the ceiling frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. After the Tuscan masters of the quattrocento had frescoed the walls with subjects of the Mosaic and Christian dispensation, contrasting the times sub lege and sub gratia, Michelangelo received the commission to recount upon the ceiling the period ante legem, from the story of the Creation to the Flood. To this he added the prophets, the sibyls, and furthermore the ancestors of Christ to prepare the way for His appearance. But such an account of the biblical content is quite inadequate. For Michelangelo there was nothing Christian or unchristian, neither sin nor forgiveness, neither guilt nor mercy; only human bodies and dramatic action.

In the three pictures from the life of Noah with which he began the work, the Florentine battle-piece is re-


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echoed. He claimed from the beginning the right of treating the theme in the nude. The scene of the Disgrace of Noah he rendered senseless by representing not only the drunken patriarch but all the others nude. The Thank-offering of Noah he used as a pretext to assemble a group of nude men about an altar; and in the Flood the motive of the Bathing Soldiers is mag- nified into tremendous proportions. As there the enemy, here the water approaches. Men drag their wives away, and women gloomily brooding sit with their children upon the ground. One seeks to save his possessions, another to climb a tree, while a third, who endeavours to climb into a canoe, is pushed back by its inmates. Others are huddled together under a tented roof. Not a vestige of clothes or landscape appears.

With a better sense of perspective he confines himself in the following pictures to a few colossal figures. With hands raised and head thrown back, God the Father storms through space: “ Let there be light!” He spreads his arms, the sun and moon arise; He stretches them downwards, and one feels that life is coming upon the earth, although Michelangelo only paints the force and not the effect. In the fresco of the Creation Adam lies like a colossus of clay; his body in full view, his hips turned, the knee drawn up. At God’s touch an electric shock pulsates through the giant body. While in the older art the Fall of Man consisted of a landscape and two standing figures, Michelangelo


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merely indicates paradise by a few leaves, and instead of reposeful figures presents contorted bodies. Eve, cowering, turns backward to receive the apple from the serpent, while the erect Adam reaches over his wife into the foliage of the tree. In colour also he becomes increasingly the sculptor. Although in the frescoes of Noah a few tints are still visible, in the later ones everything is softened to a dull grey.

Surrounding these middle pictures are twelve single statues, which, by way of ecclesiastical justification, Michelangelo labelled with the names ascribed by Christian mythology to the prophets and to the sibyls. But how indifferent it is whethe: one is called Joel, an- other Jeremiah, or a third Jonah! What cares he for the Delphic, the Libyan and the Cumzan sibyls! He is only concerned with the ecstatic convulsions of the gigantic bodies. Here one absorbed in deep thought supports his head on his hand; there a woman like a beautiful Medusa stares rigidly and wonderingly into the infinite; another prophet falls backward as if convulsed by a sudden revelation. And even if in this case the movement seems the expression of psychic action, purely physical motives actuate the other figures. A sibyl, wishing to procure a mighty book from a shelf, instead of rising reaches backward with both arms; another, in raising a giant folio, lying at her side upon her knee turns body and legs in opposite directions.

In the architectural framing he felt himself released


Imory “JadDY) IU1IStS IY} {O OISAL WVdV dO HLUId AHL



OTAONVITHOIN



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Michelangelo 389


from all biblical fetters. Instead of the decoration of the earlier masters he gives nude bodies. Children, painted the colour of bronze or of wood, writhe in the midst of triangular surfaces, and further on, youths conceived as caryatids support the pillars of the ceilings and the bronze tablets serving as labels for the prophets and sibyls. Finally, to crown the whole, the Slaves, high above the pillars, between: the prophets and the sibyls, sit facing each other in pairs, winding the bronze medallions about with garlands and draperies. It is the old motive of the putt with the fruit garlands; only that Michelangelo has made giants of the children and changed the delighful sport into a neck-breaking performance of balancing. Ten times the same prob- lem had to be solved, and always new- motives of movement crowded upon him. Thirty years later he used the theme of the Last Judgment to hurl nude human bodies through the air in all conceivable movements, foreshortenings, and contortions.

This is, indeed, an external description of the pictures, but it does not correspond with the real content of Michelangelo’s art. As his God was neither the terrible Jehovah of the Old Testament nor the loving Father of Christianity, but Fate passing indifferently over the earth, so,in describing his work, one can properly speak neither of man nor of the nude. For his creations are not men; they have nothing in common with the creatures living upon our earth. In depicting the nude, he indeed adopted the heritage of Pollajuolo


390 (Majestic and Titanic


and Signorelli; but he is not tempted by the animal heauty of the body, nor is this exaggerated action the expression of a given theme. He only unburdens the nightmare of his own soul, and what he created relates only the tortures of a lonely, martyred spirit. “7 T was of my own sad soul a picture true, And bore the stamp that marks my gloomy brow.”

As Titian’s life was a great harmony, Michelango’s was a mighty dissonance. An event even before his birth is significant. When his mother had borne him seven months under her heart, and was accom- panying her husband on horseback to his post in Chiusi, the animal stumbled; she fell and was dragged after it. This is a premonition that the life of this man would be a chain of catastrophes and mighty convulsions. Proud of the ancient blood of the counts of Canossa flowing, as he believed, in his veins, his father was not willing that his son should become an artist; and it was only by the son’s immovable will that family resistance was conquered. Hardly was he apprenticed to Ghirlandajo when his relation to his teacher became one of enmity. Not long afterwards a further collision occurred. Torregiani, whom Michelangelo had irritated, broke his nose, a deformity which futher affected the formation of his character He who should in appearance also have been a priest of the beautiful was a homely, deformed man; in striking contrast to Leonardo, who moved about like a young god or an enchanting magician.


Micbelangeto 391


Michelangelo, on the other hand, was small, his head almost abnormally formed, his brow mighty, and his eye without lustre; his flattened nose gave an expression of slavish, Malayan ugliness.

Thus in his youthful years he never learned what love meant. “If thou wishest to conquer me,” in old age he addresses love, “give me back my features, from which nature has removed all beauty.” Whenever in his sonnets he speaks of passion, it is always of pain and tears, of sadness and unrequited longing, never of the fulfilment of his wishes. But besides ugliness, quarrelsomeness of disposition was a gloomy present of nature to him. Sharp and ironical in his judgments, proud and irascible, he was not made to win friends. His judgment of Perugino was so severe that the latter accused him before a court; and in Bologna he quarrelled with good-souled Francia, to whose son he had observed that his father’s living figures were better than those he painted. From their first meeting he was hostile to Leonardo, because even their external contrast aroused a feeling of bitterness within him. He was never present when Florentine artists assembled. Sensitive and suspicious, irritable and discontented, he always believed himself surrounded by intrigues. - Even in his youth, at the time of his flight from Florence, that dependence upon gloomy forebodings appeared which in later life so often determined his actions. Only by labour could he assuage his melancholy and bitterness. He worked by fits and starts, lying for


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a long time fallow and then tempestuously unburdening himself. It is related that he laboured so feverishly — upon his David that he slept in his clothes just where he had fallen down in the evening, overcome by work.

When he came to Rome a new convulsion im- mediately followed, for here two worlds collided. Michelangelo himself was, in the highest sense, of a tyrannical nature; and upon the papal throne sat a similar spirit, the passionate condottiere Julius, of whom it was said that he was accustomed to beat his cardi- nals at table. Like two hostile powers the two stood opposite each other. Michelangelo spoke to the pope with head covered, and treated him, according to Soderini’s words, “‘as the king of France would not have dared to.” Yet the pope tamed him, and led him back, after his flight to Florence, ‘with a halter about his neck.” But not only with Julius did he collide; nothing that he did took place without a battle. In Carrara he quarrelled with the labourers who hewed the blocks for the monument of Julius, and with the shipowners entrusted with their transport he was embroiled to such an extent that they finally besieged him in his house. He was compelled only by force to undertake the ceiling frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. Bramante who had built the scaffolding, was accused of designs upon his life. The assistants, whom he had sent from Florence, he suddenly avoided; when they came to work they found the


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chapel locked. Only because it was unbearable for him to be in company with others, he completed the giant work without assistance. ‘“‘Overburdened with cares and bodily labour,” thus he writes home, “I have not a friend in Rome, neither do I wish nor have use for any; I hardly find time to take nourish- ment. Not an ounce more can | bear than already rests upon my shoulders.” When the work was com- pleted he speaks in none of his letters of satisfaction, but only complains, praising Bugiardini because he was always satisfied with his own work, while he him- self was not permitted to finish even one in accord- ance with his desire.

Nevertheless, at a later period, he looked back upon the years which he had spent under the reign of Julius II. as upon a golden age. When the wild choleric Julius was succeeded by the effeminate, sybaritic Leo X., the discord between Michelangelo and the world into which fate had thrown him grew continually greater. A joyful epicurean spirit pre- vailed at Rome. One reads of merry cardinals and beautiful women, of Chigi’s villa and of the luxurious banquets at which golden plates that the pope had used were hurled into the Tiber. In the midst of this world of agreeable cavaliers, beside Raphael, who won all by his lovable character, stood the sarcastic, reticent Michelangelo, unbearable in demeanour, firm and immovable in his opinions; passing judgment even upon Raphael with unmerciful keenness. As the


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pope observed to Sebastiano, Michelangelo was terribile and filled people with fear.

It thus came to pass that he was banished by a commission to build the facade of San Lorenzo at Florence, where he lived during the following years. Here he witnessed the destruction of Florentine freedom, and was in charge of the fortifications during the siege, only to flee at a decisive moment—another symptom of the conflict of will which drove his tor- mented spirit hither and thither. Of the works which he planned not one was executed; for his plans were too gigantic. | Even in his youth he wished to trans- form a cliff near Carrara into a colossus, and he planned to make the tomb of Julius a forest of statues. As gigantic as were his plans, so small and poor did that which he was permitted to complete seem to him. There is always a dissonance between his mighty impulse to create and the impossibility of realising this impulse. The man who felt superhuman power in himself went through life with leaden weights upon his feet.

The return to Rome did not change his life. Raphael and Leonardo were dead, and a new diminutive race had grown up. Commissions which in his letters were the subject of grim persiflage were assigned him. He withdrew more and more from society, becoming an “impregnable fortress,” as contemporaries called him. He associated not with the living but with the dead, especially with Dante, whom he honoured as a


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mighty, misunderstood spirit. He suffered about him only people who did not become burdensome to his own thoughts; he had boors in his house and loved to speak with children. His repugnance to seeing others was so great that, when in his work upon the Last Judgment he had fallen from the scaffolding, the physician had to force his way through a window in order to attend him. Even his family was a burden to him. Without a home of his own, he had never- theless to care for his father, brothers, and nephews— all of them genuine types of a degenerate nobility— who carried all their troubles to him. The manner in which he assisted them was likewise a curious mixture of touching love and indignant anger. The man who met the mighty of the world with such abrupt harshness, but watched through the whole night at the sick-bed of his servant, would rise in wrath over the demands of his relatives and yet lead the most penurious life in order to save for them.

A further anomaly should also be considered. However much writers have endeavoured to associate Michelangelo’s sonnets with Platonism, the men to whom they were addressed, Tommaso Cavalieri, Luigi del Riccio, and Cecchino Bracci, were not Plato- nic ideals. When he wrote adoring poems to Cavalieri and drew the Abduction of Ganymede for him, he only revealed how a lonely man sought compensation for the love of women which was denied him. But even in this he did not get beyond torturing thoughts


396 Mafestic and Titanic


and self-reproaches; for to his other burdens religious scruples were added. Memories of youth were awak- ened in him, of the.days when he sat at the feet of Savonarola. As he had formerly stupefied his suffering by work, he now longed for peace of soul, for the heav- enly love which, “stretched upon the Cross ‘holds out a hand to us.” ‘I should have plunged my spirit deep in God— But ah! through all the years I lent an ear


To every fable that the world holds dear, And where sin led, unthinking took the road.”


Angrily he realised at last the dissonance between the spirit within him and the bodily ills which tortured him. At the same time that he designed the cupola of St. Peter’s, he also, in bitter mockery, made a drawing of himself as an old man moving about in one of the little frames used to teach children how to walk. He stands old and lonely “in a treacherous world of sorrows.”

Only by his life can Michelangelo’s art be explained. Because-Titian was in harmony with himself and the world, the same inner happiness, the same mighty repose pours from his character into his works. Michel- angelo is of the race of Tantalus. As in his life there was nothing lovable or joyful, so his art is neither joyful nor free, but fearful and oppressive. It was no accident that he gave to his statue of Night a mask with empty eyes and distorted features as a symbol of her dreams, that his first work was a drawing after


Michelangelo 397


Schongauer’s St. Anthony Tortured by Demons. In him. also demons struggle, and his dreams were not beautiful but gloomy and terrible visions.

A single time, in his Leda, he painted the ecstasy of love; but precisely this work, which in content resembles the ideals of Leonardo, shows the difference between them. Leda does not tremble with joy as in Sodoma’s picture, but is rather the goddess of mis- fortune whose brood of swans brought ruin upon Troy and Greece. As in his sonnets he calls the ecstasy of love a cry of pain, so in his picture an erotic scene is changed into a tragedy of fate. His women inspire one with fear rather than love; their arms are of steel, and their mighty legs are formed like marble columns. If the theme does not require it, he avoids the female body altogether. As in his life women played no réle, so among the twenty Slaves of the Sistine Chapel there is not a single woman. He loved only the beauty of the male body, so much so “that it gave low-minded people cause for thinking evil of him.” The “eternal feminine” which Titian and the followers of Leonardo cele- brated is replaced in Michelangelo’s art by the “ eternal masculine.”

But he did not represent the living man. For as the great recluse passed through the world in communica- tion not with the living but with the geniuses of the past, so as an artist he seldom used living models; he preferred corpses, which powerlessly yielded to con-


398 Majestic and Titanic


tortion of the limbs which living bodies would resist. And as the man was the great scorner to whom the world could offer nothing, so the artist never repre- sented natural mankind, but conceived a superhuman race of giants.

He often emphasises to the pope and his relations how he suffered in being torn from his world of ideas. So his creations are for the most part self-absorbed; they sleep or brood thoughtfully, and if anything disturbs their repose, they start as if absorbed in thought, fearfully turn their heads or raise their arms to ward off. Adam’s gestures in the Expulsion from Paradise and the last line of the artist’s sonnet to his reclining statue, the Night,


‘* Pero non mi destar, deh! parla basso,”


are characteristic of the frame of mind of this lonely man.

As he felt himself a giant in the midst of contemptible pigmies, so his creations are children of wrath, who would spring up and shatter a world. Moses, especially with his threatening, contracted brows and his untamed muscular power, is the.incarnation of the mighty passions and glowing wrath struggling in Michelangelo’s soul. But he is not only a titan; burning like Almighty God to create a world, he is a fettered giant; a Pro- metheus, whose hands and feet are bound by iron clasps. To what extent he realised this is shown


MICHELANGELO



THE PROPHET JEREMIAH


Fresco in the Sistine Chapel, Rome



{Michelangelo 399


by the Slaves of the Louvre. Indeed, he creates only bodies of titanic power and yet fettered, as if they were hindered in their movements by some superior power. His people never move freely and easily like Titian’s; their surroundings always seem too narrow for the free action of their limbs. Here the framing is a triangle in which they can only cower but not stand; ‘there a gable is placed above them, which, if they arose, they would shatter. Within this space which so heavily oppresses them, they struggle and stretch in mighty action, twist their limbs, contort and wind the different parts of their bodies hither and thither; with gigantic effort they seek to rise, and yet are unable to do so. In contrast with the full, joyful power in Titian, there is here something compressed, tortured; the unavailing struggles of Prometheus bound.

Even the conflict of the will so characteristic of Michelangelo’s character recurs in the beings which he created. As he fortified Florence and yet fled at the critical moment; as in his poems be often uses the expression, “What shall I dor My will ever hesitates undecided’’; so in his creations conflicting forces seem to contend, as if the different parts of the body were not directed by the same mind. While with other artists the movements unconsciously follow the will and the body is at unison with itself and the soul, with him the will does not seem to dom- inate the body. The separate limbs pursue different


VOL, 1.—26


400 Majestic and Titanic


paths. Here the muscles of the arm are strained for mighty action, but the body still reclines in deepest lethargy. There the-neck is stretched and distended, but the limbs know not wherefore, being mechanically thrown in different directions. Or again, a sudden determination quivers through the body, but the limbs repose in dull apathy.

The Last Judgment of 1541 contains his legacy. Every element of wrath and bitterness that had collected in his proud soul is here poured forth. In older paintings the saints were silently and solemnly collected about the Saviour; wailing, but submissive, the damned yielded to their fate, and in solemn circles the elect soared to heaven. Michelangelo knows only wrath and revenge as the characteristic of the divinity. Naked, like a Roman izmperator, Christ appears; the martyrs press forward, the angels sweep past, and a thunderbolt from His hand seems to shatter the universe. But it does not strike the damned. As Hutten said of Julius II. that he stormed the gates of heaven when Peter forbade him entrance, so Michel- angelo cannot conceive of humility, slavish obedience and fear, or gentle suffering. Terrible as is his God with the mighty gesture, the athletes defy Him; they do not draw back, but press forward in ever thickening throngs. As they approach, their forms grow more powerful and their bodies are contorted into impossible muscular masses. These are no sinners receiving pun- ishment for past actions, but rebellious giants storm-


Triumph of the Formal 401


ing heaven. The final judgment is transformed into a Gdtterddmmerung. |

In the Pauline Chapel he spoke his last word. Harsh and shrill are the lines; here depicting a yawning void, there wild dramatic action. Peter, nailed head down- wards upon the cross, seeks by a superhuman move- ment of the neck to turn round. It is Michelangelo, the fettered Prometheus, raising himself up for the last time.

For the Italian Renaissance he became the Fate which he himself had painted in the Sistine Chapel; for he deprived art of its joy in the simple and the ordinary, and of its pleasure in colour. After the artists had seen this world of demons, everything earthly appeared insignificant. They also wished to create giants in whom the powers of the universe struggled and contended. They attempted to make his language a universal one; but the greater the num- ber of his followers, the more lonely the great mas- ter became.


V.— The Triumph of the Formal

Of the two painters who at that time represented classic art in Florence, Andrea del Sarto is more nearly related to modern sentiment. Although noble composition meant everything to so true a son of the cinquecento, he nevertheless preserved, within this scheme of composition, complete freedom and a certain nervous mobility. The attitude of his figures is soft


402 Mafestic and Titanic


and tired, their movements are of gentle indifference. In the softly bowed head of his angels the tender ecstasy which Leonardo gave such beings still survives; his female heads are also more nearly related to Leonardo’s ideal of beauty than to the distinguished and majestic conception of the later cznquecento. Dark, passionate eyes, with blue rings bearing testimony to sleepless nights, look upon us with consuming glance. The cheeks are pale, and a loosened braid of dark hair, straying downward, increases the sleepy impression of his paintings. As if confirming Vasari’s description of Lucrezia del Fede, the beautiful widow whom he married in 1517, as the model of his Madonnas and the evil genius of his life, a certain perverse piquancy is expressed in these heads. As a colourist also he entered upon the heritage of Leonardo by imparting a very individual shade to the tender sfumato, by substituting a subdued tone attuned to a cool grey or delicate silver key for the warm tones of Leonardo. In line as in colour he reveals the same soft, tired, aristocratic beauty; his favourite colours being black and white, yellow, red, and pearl grey, in which fine colour scheme he differs from all other painters of his day. With them one hears, in so far as colour is not sacrificed to plastic impression, the full flooding tones of the organ; with Andrea the soft, sharp notes of the violin. It is significant that he was fond of painting frescoes in grey monochrome, for this style corresponded best


Triumph of the Formal 403


with his refined, neurasthenic temperament. He is a painter for connoisseurs, and is most select in his taste; at one time morbidly interesting, at another attractive in his solemnity; and notwithstanding the majesty which the style of the cznquecento required, he was possessed of a worldly elegance belonging to the unique family of Filippino Lippi, Melzi and Boltraffio.

If we understand clearly what attracts us in Andrea del Sarto, we also know why Fra Bartolommeo makes such a strange impression. In the former’s paintings we find men who are majestic and yet have souls; but in the latter’s the difficulty of reconciling the apotheosis of the body, which was the real aim of the art the sixteenth century, with psychic refinement, too evidently appears. He has reached the stage in which feeling no longer animates the mighty forms, and where majesty is converted into hollowness. The body, in the quattrocento the fragile casement of the soul, has become an imposing vessel without content. What a mighty change to occur in the course of a decade! Like Botticelli and Perugino, Fra Bartolommeo belonged to those who gathered about Savonarola, and lived in the very con- vent where one painted and the other preached. He was at the head of the atelier connected with the convent of San Marco, and in conjunction with his friend Albertinelli provided many Tuscan churches with altar-pieces. But in these works the mysticism


404 Majestic and Titanic


of Fiesole as well as the tender soulfulness of Perugino is quite forgotten. For these older masters beauty of form was not an aim in itself, but only in so far as it was an expression of sentiment. Now, in the very cloisters of San Marco, the lay figure was invented by Bartolommeo. When his name is mentioned one thinks of apostles and prophets mighty in body but insignificant in soul, and recalls the words of Goethe: “By chilling idealisation and rigid dexterity these biblical subjects have been deprived of their simplicity and truth and torn away from the sympathetic heart. By majestically draped and trailing cloaks artists try to make us forget the empty nobility of the ecclesias- tical personages.”

Let us neverthelesss beware of regarding Fra Bar- tolommeo from a false point of view. If he does not paint like Perugino or Botticelli, the reason is only because his ideals are different; and the fifteenth century, in its psychic refinement, is more nearly related to the present day than the sixteenth. The frate nevertheless remains one of the representative men of that great age to which the cult of form, nobility of movement, and the majesty of the body meant everything. His first picture, the Vision of St. Bernard in the Florentine Academy, has nothing of the quiet soulfulness of Perugino; but in place of this it announces in the sweeping draperies that trend towards solemnity, in which the greatness of the master lay. To this everything that might destroy the general effect must


aUaL,Op y ‘DiptounuUY ayy {o 42]810]D AY] Ut OISAAT


OOOVS Tad VNNOGVN



OLUYVS THC VAACNV



Triumpb of the Formal 405


yield. No individual heads suit these draperies, for beauty must. be of a “regular’’ type. No landscape can serve as a background for them; they can only stand in the midst of solemn, imposing architecture. This ensemble he creates with a firm hand. Mighty pilasters, roomy niches, form the frames of his scenes; amd he skilfully uses the steps of the throne to vary the composition. Sometimes he places the principal figure upon a pediment in order to attain rhythmic lines. A baldachin held by angels often forms the circular termination above. All his pictures sound in full rich tones like stanzas of Ariosto, and are cf the same rhythmic flow as a well composed piece of architecture. After he had seen the prophets of Michelangelo at Rome, he himself with his St. Mark attempted the titanic. It was due to the religious movement which, as a reflex of the German Reformation, passed over Italy about 1520, that his last work, the Entombment of the Pitti Gallery, reveals psychic qualities which far transcend the level of the fifteenth century.

It was Fra Bartolommeo’s unlucky fate that his works, just because the scientific rules predominated in them, became at a later period a welcome find for those who attempted to create classical art according to the formula of the classicists. His figures are distasteful to us, because they have become the con- ventional types of the “great historic style.” His service nevertheless remains this, that he gave an


406 (Majestic and Titanic


appropriate expression to the stately, pompous, and representative spirit of the cimquecento, and was the first to fix certain laws of composition, just as Uccello had a century earlier determined certain laws of perspective.


End oj Volume 1.

Chapter VI.— The Union of Styles

I.— Rapbael

THE acquisitions of those who extended the


bounds of the empire are inherited by those


who come after them. As in the middle of the fifteenth century Gozzoli had adopted the results of the investigations of Castagnor and Uccello, and all the achievements of the next generation were used by Ghirlandajo; so the great profiteur of the sixteenth century is named Raphael.

In examining Raphael’s portraits of himself one indeed feels a certain persojiaL elemenUpf his style. This youth with the intelligent, sympathetic features, the bare neck, and the long artist’s locks; with the pure, soft girlish eyes like those of Perugino’s Madonnas, corresponds to Vasari’s picture of Raphael’s per- sonality: Every evil humour vanished when his comrades saw him, every low thought fled from their minds ; and this was because they felt themselves vanquished by his affability and beautiful nature.” ^

‘ Although this translation is a condensation of the well-known passage in Vasari, it embodies the essential sense. — Ed,

407


4o8


XTbe XHnion of tbe Stales


As he himself experienced nothing sad, so his art is one of sunny joyfulness. As his life was passed without storms, without catastrophes, so he never painted thrill- ing or convulsive pictures. Even when the subject is terrible, or violently dramatic, he remains mild and soft, pleasing and friendly. As his portrait has more a typical than an individual effect, so in his paintings everything individual is either eliminated or changed into the typical. As he never had conflicts either with his employers or with his assistants, but was as pliant and lovable in obeying as in giving orders, so there are no dissonances in his art. Everything that is hard and angular in nature is softened and rounded; and not only the individual forms but the composition moves in pliant, rhythmic lines. As his own life was a beautiful harmony, so his paintings fuse the gay many-sided- ness of life into soft harmonies in which no movement or fold of drapery disturbs the pleasing unison.

But another side of his being is expressed in the portrait of himself. This handsome cavalier was no brooder over problems; he never knew the anxious hours of doubt which genius experiences. Instead of giving he receives; instead of the manly creative power his most prominent characteristic is a feminine element, the appreciation of work accomplished by others. Only in this manner can the enormous number of works which he created during a short lifetime be explained. The most receptive artistic nature that ever existed, he seizes all the threads in his hand, and


IRapbael


409


shapes what individual geniuses had created into new stylistic unity. Here Perugino or Leonardo, there Fra Bartolommeo or Sebastiano, there again Michel- angelo or a Greek sculptor is his source. Only behind the canvas, almost non-existent, stands the beautiful youth of the portrait, smoothing the corners of his models, softening their individuality, and smoothing their abruptness.

His father, Giovanni Santi, possessed before him this eclectic versatility and followed with much adaptability now the Paduan, now the Umbrian school, uniting with the profession of a painter that of an author. With the son this eclecticism became a genial, inherent quality. While Leonardo and Michelangelo in their first works, the Angel and the Holy Family, displayed their individuality, Raphael devoted his power to mastering the entire development of Italian art from Perugino to Michelangelo. As his first boyish drawings were copies of the pictures of the philosophers which Justus of Ghent had painted in the ducal library of Urbino, so his earliest pictures reflect the works of his Umbrian teacher. The Madonna of the Solly Collection, the Virgin between Sts. Francis and Jerome, and the Connestabile Madonna are essentially Umbrian, and reveal the same soft, sentimental faces with melancholy doves' eyes that Perugino loved. In his first altar- pieces likewise he repeats with touching simplicity the models of his master. At the time that Raphael was his apprentice, Perugino had painted a Crucifixion,


410


XTbe Xllnion of tbe Stales


an Assumption, a Coronation, and a Marriage of the Virgin; and although Raphael treated the same subjects, the effect even at this early period, especially in the Sposalipo, was more subtle and elegant.

He is also a stranger to the one-sidedness of the Umbrian masters. Where Perugino was only mild and contemplative, Raphael painted dramatic action: St. George plunging upon his white horse through the landscape and swinging his sword against the snorting dragon. He also enlarged the domain of painting in another direction. While Perugino, as the follower of Savonarola, had treated only religious themes, Rapha^ who, as in the horse of St. George, copied one of the steeds of the Dioscuri, was the first Umbrian to return to the domain of the antique. Siena, whither he had come as an assistant to Pinturicchio, possessed one of the most beautiful antique groups known to the sixteenth century, the Three Graces, which Raphael copied in a painting now in the Museum of Chantilly. Even more charming in its modest tenderness is the effect of the Umbrian antique in his little painting of Apollo and Marsyas in the Louvre. In a third somewhat earlier little picture, the Choice of Hercules, he painted the choice which he himself never had to make. In the days of Perugino antiquity and Christianity had been in conflict; but Raphael domesticated both in one household.

After he had thus mastered the painting of his Um- brian home he entered upon the heritage of Florentine


RAPHAEL


LA BELLE GIARDINI^RB

Louvre


IRapbael


411

art. In the Brancacci Chapel he learned from Masac- ^ do’s works the secret of the grand style; in the choir of Santa Maria Novella he studied Ghirlandajo’s Coronation of the Virgin which served as a model for his frescoes in San Severo, Perugia; and Donatello’s relief at Orsanmichele furnished the motive of his St. George in the Hermitage. But even more than from the dead, he learned from the living masters. From 1503 to 1506 Leonardo resided at Florence, and Fra Bartolommeo had made it his life-work to demon- strate in his paintings the latter’s maxims of linear composition. Raphael, who had been quite Umbrian in the tender Madonna del Granduca, now created a series of pictures of the Virgin which are as closely related to Leonardo’s Madonna of the Grotto as is the Conne stabile Madonna to Perugino; the best known examples being the Madonna in the Meadow, the Madonna with the Starling, and the Belle Jardiniere, in all of which the figures, as in Leonardo’s picture, are bounded by an equilateral triangle. From Leonardo also he derived the chubby-cheeked Christ-child with the Praxitelean pose; except that with Raphael, especially in the Madonna Canigiani, the calculation in the composition is more conspicuous because the linear arrangements are not softened by the effect of light. His individuality nevertheless is revealed in his type of the Madonna. She is not of heavenly beauty, has nothing of the delicacy of Leonardo, but is only friendly and mild, the true sister of the Raphael whom


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XTbe XHnion of tbe Stales


we know from his own portrait. He appears as a double of Fra Bartolommeo in his Madonna del Baldacchino; and imparts to his portrait of Madda- lena Doni the attitude, though not the mysterious charm, of Mona Lisa. Finally he succeeded in uniting in a single work, the Entombment of the Brera, the characteristics of Perugino, Mantegna, Michelangelo, and Fra Bartolommeo. His studies began with Perugino’s Pietd, received a new point of view from Mantegna’s line engraving of the same subject, and were modified by Michelangelo’s statue, from which he adapted the body of Christ, and his Holy Family, which furnished the woman seated to the right. Fra Bartolommeo’s spirit is revealed in his manner of subordinating the emotional content of the theme to the composition.

His call to Rome was attended by a new change. As in Perugia he had been a soulful Umbrian, and in Florence an apt pupil of Leonardo, he now rises to the “grand style.” The solemnity and majesty of the Eternal City streams into his works.

But the Disputa, the first of his paintings in the chambers of the Vatican, reveals his connection with the Florentine Raphael. As he adopted numerous figures from Leonardo’s Adoration of the Kings, so also he followed the principles which the latter had established for the composition of historical paintings. In like manner in his picture of the Promulgation of the Decretals the connection with the quattrocento.


IRapbael


413


with Melozzo's Appointment of Platina, is evident. From his School of Athens, although here too there are many motives from Leonardo’s Adoration, Melozzo’s Platina, and Donatello’s Paduan reliefs another master seems to speak. It need not be assumed that Bramante furnished him the design; for he painted the ideas of Bramante as Masaccio had those of Brunellesco, and Piero della Francesca those of Leon Battista Alberti. His association with the great architect of Urbino, at that time building structures which announced a new era of architecture, trans- formed the master of line into a great master of space, into a mighty architect.

The chief picture of the second chamber, the Expul- sion of Heliodorus, signifies the acme of his development under Bramante’s influence. As in the School of Athens, a wide hall stretches before us, which, enlivened by few figures, gives an even greater impression of depth. Within this hall an event of stormy dramatic action occurs. Raphael, ten years earlier, so modest and so Umbrian, and so solemn in the School of Athens, here surpasses Filippino Lippi in Baroque movement. In another picture of this chamber, the Liberation of Peter, he even succeeds in uniting with his mastery of line a glowing colour and gleaming effect of light. Sebastiano del Piombo, who had just at that time arrived in Rome, thus transformed Raphael the Umbrian into a Venetian.

In his following works the personal element dis-


414


Zbc Xllnion of tbe Stales


appears even more; for Raphael now assigned the execution of his works to assistants and pupils. A new principle, which is as characteristic for Raphael as for the whole century, is now enforced. The fifteenth century was the age of individualism. All the masters who had laboured in the Sistine Chapel worked independently side by side; and even Michel- angelo painted his colossal frescoes without assistance. Raphael, as he himself had yielded his personality to others, now became in his turn a dictator, under whose command an army of lesser masters laboured. The place of individual creations is taken during the cinquecento by works which are nothing more than joint achievements of artistic activity.

Beginning with the year 1514, Raphael followed other models. Although he had formerly in his Entombment adopted single figures from Michelangelo’s paintings, he now created in the Sibyls in the church of Santa Maria della Pace a work which seems a transla- tion of Michelangelo’s art into the style of Raphael. Michelangelesque is the plastic execution of form and the imposing treatment of drapery; Raphaelesque, the pleasing rhythm of composition, the arrangement, and the gentle manner in which he leads back the titanic creations of Buonarroti to a measured humanity.

But even more than by Michelangelo he was influenced by the antique. Just at that time those celebrated works of antique sculpture were excavated, which until the days of Winckelmann, Lessing, and Goethe


RAPHAEL


THE SCHOOL OF ATHENS

Fresco in the Vatican, Rome


IRapbael


415


were considered the most perfect revelation of the Hellenic spirit; the Apollo Belvedere, the Sleeping Ariadne, Antinous, and the Laocoon group. The baths of Titus revealed the principles of decoration of the late Roman epoch. The museum of the Belvedere was founded, and after Bramante’s death, Raphael, his artistic heir, became not only architect of St. Peter’s but conservator of antiquities.

The decorations of the Loggie of the Vatican were his first creations in this capacity. The problem was to enliven the ceilings and walls of the corridor of the Vatican palace with pleasing play of line; a commission especially sympathetic to his preference for harmonious form and “optical cantilena.” In this joyful Olympian scene, the cupids and birds, the maidens, swinging themselves in garlands of foliage or listening behind dainty columns, festoons and vases, tritons and satyrs, naiads and sphinxes — everything is included that the sixteenth century had adapted from antique works of art; and over it all hovers the graiiosissima grapia of Raphael himself.

After he had thus in light playfulness done homage to the antique, it won a stylistic influence over him. He is no longer tempted by the solution of problems of space and colour, but composes his pictures of statues. The Triumph of Galatea is a characteristic example. Although the motive of the action of the principal figure is derived from a modern work, Leo- nardo’s Leda, all the remaining figures, the marine


4i6


Ubc IHnion of tbe Stales


centaur, the nereids, the triton, and the putto with the dolphin, are taken from the antique sarcophagus reliefs. Space and colour appear so indifferent to him that although this is a marine picture he does not paint the water, but lets the figures rise like statues from the dry earth. The neighbouring frescoes of Psyche in the Farnesina offer the logical complement. The ceiling frescoes with the Judgment of the Gods and the Marriage of Psyche resemble a forest of statues suspended in the air, and the figures of the ceiling vaults arise plastic as statues from a void.

His religious pictures are treated in the same plastic style. The principal subject of the third Vatican Chamber depicted how Pope Leo 111. extinguished a conflagration by making the sign of the cross. In Raphael’s hands the Burning of the Bor go is transformed into the destruction of Troy; but even this designation is derived from a group interpreted as i^neas and Anchises. In truth, the entire painting is a collection of studies; a naked man letting himself down from a wall, another taking up a child, and the wind-blown figure of a woman carrying water. And as there is no psychical, neither is there any external connection among the figures. The whole theme serves to demon- strate certain mathematical principles of form, to juxtapose a few rhythmic and plastic bodies. In the cartoons for the tapestries which are now the pride of the South Kensington Museum, this feeling for the antique is clarified into a serene classicism. They have


IRapbael


417


been called the Parthenon sculptures of Christian art and this characterisation contains much truth. Those who, like Ruskin, the herald of the Pre-Raphaelites, examine the cartoons with regard to their spiritual content, are offended by the superficial character of Hellenic linear rhythm; but he who does not measure one period of art by another feels that the problem imposed by the sixteenth century was most perfectly solved by Raphael.

That he nevertheless retained a naturalistic power which enabled him to create portraits ranking with Titian’s as the greatest products of sixteenth-century portraiture, is a further proof of his astonishing ver- satility. He achieved the highest in the general amalgamation of styles in the works of his last years, in which a power reappears which had been long for- gotten: Christianity.

His earlier Roman Madonnas differ from the Flor- entine as the School of Athens differs from the Disputa. A more heroic race of women, majestically built and bold in movement, takes the place of the mild, gentle beings which he formerly painted. The backgrounds are no longer the sloping hills of the valley of the Arno, but the solemn forms of the Roman Campagna, animated by antique ruins and aqueducts. The composition, then laboriously constructed, now be- comes, in the midst of the most complicated intricacies, powerful and free. But although a breath of the universal power of the papacy and something of

VOL. II.— 27.


4i8 Ubc Xllnion of tbe Stales

the majesty of ancient Rome pervades these works, the Christian note is lacking.

Then came the time when Luther nailed his theses to the church door in Wittenberg, and a breath of this religious enthusiasm pulsated through Italy. Fra Bartolommeo’s Entombment, Titian’s Assumption, and Sodoma’s ecstatic pictures are due to the same sentiment which had moved the world a generation earlier, in the days of Savonarola, the .ime in which Raphael was born. In the visionary pictures which strike the final chord of his artistic activity, the great style, heretofore so cold and plastic, is warmed and animated by a breath of Christianity, by the same mystic enthusiasm which pulsated through the veins of the lad in Perugino’s workshop.

The transition to this later Christian style is repre- sented by St. Cecilia, listening like Raphael himself, who for the first time again hears celestial music. It is true that St. Paul is taken from Leonardo’s Adoration and that the Magdalen resembles the type which occurs in Sebastiano’s St. Chrysostom. But the rapturous upward glance of St. Cecilia’s eyes is new: Perugino is revived and Guido Reni is heralded. For the Madonna di Foligno, Leonardo’s Resurrection was determinative; but the ecstatic head of St. Francis and the burning eyes of the Baptist also show that the Hellene had become a Christian painter. In his Transfiguration he goes a step further in the amal- gamation of styles: dramatic life, gesticulating hands.


RAPHAEL


POPE JULIUS II.

Pitti Gallery, Florence


lBnl> ot tbe IRenaissance 419

and, in the figure of the woman, plastic and antique beauty ; above, the head of Christ taken from Leonardo’s Resurrection combined with an archaic solemnity re- minding one of Perugino.

In the Sistine Madonna, although she also was inspired by Leonardo’s Resurrection, the work of his life vibrates harmoniously in one great accord. All the nobility of the antique is here present; for Mary resembles a majestic antique statue. The arrangement of line is of the most perfect harmony, showing, in spite of the mathematical scheme, no cool calculation. There is an impression of space as if Mary had been wafted from the infinite; a bold colour scheme, and a tender twilight, from which the figures gleam forth as if of gold. Colour, beauty of line, space, composition, and Hellenic nobility of form — all are here united. But something else is added without which all the rest would remain dead: the psychic qualities which far transcend Raphael’s usual level. The slender girlish mother of God, enveloped by the air of heaven, approaching in golden aether; the Christ-child staring so solemnly with his great eyes into the infinite: it seems as if not Raphael but Murillo had painted them. The psychic is once more united with formal beauty. V ) -f-

II. The End of the Renaissance in Italy

In the manner in which he amalgamated the style of most different personalities into a new unity,


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Raphael signifies the acme of the efforts of the sixteenth century. For if one wished by a single expression to characterise the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries, the former should be called the century_of individualism, the latter of centralisation. In the former there ex- isted side by side in Italy a multitude of independent single states, every one of which had a part in history; and everywhere lived rugged and genuine personalities, great in evil as in good. In the cinquecento all this ceased. There were no small principalities or con- dottieri, but only one great native power in all Italy — the States of the Church. In the north a mighty empire had been founded upon whose domain the sun never set.^ The same spirit of centralisation prevailed in art.

As formerly every province of Italy had produced its artists, now Rome, the capital of the land, also became the centre of art. Few painters were born there; they came from the most distant regions and the most different countries of the peninsula. But they all streamed to Rome because they believed that upon the soil of the Eternal City the highest art could be produced. A single style pervades all that they have to say. The masters of the quattrocento were sharply

‘Although the author goes too far in his statement that Rome was the only great native power in all Italy, since Venice and Florence were still independent, it is quite true that it was the chiet native state. The empire in the north referred to is probably Spain, upon whose dominions the sun never set, and which by acquisition of the duchy of Milan and the union with the German Empire under Charles V. became also a northern power. — Ed.


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defined individualities, like the tyrants of the different cities, who were kings within their little principalities. Each individual can be recognised at the first glance, and even the cabinet-maker gave his work a personal note. Their works are dear to us, not as products of manual labour, but as human documents. The painters of the cinquecento, on the other hand, conceal their personality in their creations. All individual characteristics are effaced. As in the political world there were only two great personalities, the pope and the emperor, so in the artistic there were only a few kings, whose courtiers the others were satisfied to be. The word “school,” which had no mean- ing during the fifteenth century, now acquired its aca- demic significance. All are vassals, whether one is more inclined to Raphael, or another to Michelangelo. To this relation the composition of the paintings corresponds: one central figure dominating all the others.

Perino del Vaga, whose estimable decorative talent was of much use to Raphael, painted at a later period the mythological frescoes of the Palazzo Doria in Genoa, variants of what he had painted under Raphael in the Farnesina and the Loggie. In his Deposition from the Cross, painted for the church of Santa Trinita dei Monti, Daniele da Volterra also appears as a faithful follower of Raphael, but his David Beheading Goliath (Louvre) was long attributed to Michelangelo. In the latter painting a preference for the colossal, for exag-


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gerated dramatic action and swollen muscles, has taken the place of his former noble simplicity.

The exaggerated form of Michelangelo combined with sprawling movements and obscene sensuality — such is the art of Giulio Romano. He was Raphael’s favourite pupil and later became his most useful assistant. Most of that which goes under Raphael’s name in the Stanza dell’ Incendio, in the Farnesina, and in the Hall of Constantine, as well as many pictures from Raphael’s later period (such as the Pearl at Madrid, and in the Louvre St. Margaret and the portrait of Joan of Aragon) is at least in execution the work of Giulio. After Raphael’s death it was he who completed the Transfiguration and the Coronation of the Virgin. None of Raphael’s pupils so completely adopted his style, although even then 'Giulio transformed it into a crude and coarser art. In his later works no traces of this tutelage can be observed. Impetuous haste replaces gentleness, and even his Madonnas are full of Michelangelesque elements : Mary herself being a mighty woman of gigantic form, the Christ-child a powerful lad with lively complicated movements. Even less do the frescoes in the Palazzo del Te at Mantua remind one of his former relation with Raphael. Great muscular power, great technical bravura, and coarseness are the characteristics of the pictures in which he depicts thelove stories of Psyche and other Olympians. The Hall of the Giants especially contains the boldest and wildest that Giulio’s strong hand created. Upon


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FALL OF THE GIANTS

Fresco in Palazzo del TF Mantua


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the ceiling one gazes upon an apparent panorama drawn in perspective: an Ionic columnar hall vaulted with a mighty cupola enclosing the throne of Jupiter. All Olympus is in commotion; for the giants painted on the wall are storming heaven. The lightning strikes, overwhelming the malefactors with the columns and walls of temples. There is no decorative arrangement of the surfaces, with the result that the flood of figures is poured without restraint over walls and ceiling. Even the boundary between the floor and walls is not preserved; for Giulio had the floor paved with stones upon which he continued the painting of the wall in order to heighten the dramatic illusion.

It was not long before the Florentine school pursued the same paths. In characterising these masters it is not necessary to speak of them, but only of the models whom they followed. Francesco d’ Ubertino, called Bacchiacca, decorated furniture in the style of the quattrocento, but attuned his colour to that soft misty grey which Andrea del Sarto had brought into fashion. Franciabigio, the fresco painter with whom the latter laboured in the Annunziata and the Scalzo, is also known by his furniture decorations and especially by portraits which form subtle variations of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. Puntormo, likewise a good portrait painter, was, in his earlier works, like the Annunciation of 1516, a clever imitator of the. transparent silver grey tones of Andrea; but in his later works (as in the Forty Martyrs of the Pitti Gallery) he degenerated


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into bombastic imitation of Michelangelo. Ridolfo Ghirlandajo, who at first resembled Raphael, repeated at a later period, with artisan clumsiness, what he had in his youth spoken with freshness and spirit. In examining the youthful works of Francesco Granacci one is reminded of Domenico Ghirlandajo, in his later works of Raphael or Michelangelo. Giuliano Bugi- ardini, Giovanni Sogliani, Domenico Puligo, and their numerous associates are all sympathetic painters, but their works only reflect those created by the authoritative masters.

The further the century progresses the rarer artistic individuality becomes. Portrait painting, indeed, for a time remains fresh. Bronzino especially has left a series of portraits which not only determined the character of court painting for all Europe, but in their sincerity are worthy of the best traditions of the primitives: in line as sharp as chiselled medals, and distinguished in conception and colour. But even this master seems only a survivor of the long procession of mighty portrait painters produced by the preceding epoch. What he still could do — the rendition of a human physiognomy with characteristic truth — the later painters neither desired nor were able to ac- complish. If the fifteenth century, with its civil wars which permitted every peasant lad to become a duke, with its bold recklessness and unrestrained feeling of personal worth, also created the most indi- vidual portraits: so the sixteenth, which destroyed


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the free republics and the spirit of individualism, gave also to its portraits a uniform character. Types replace personalities, or else portrait painting is altogether avoided, because the dependence upon the model cannot be reconciled with the retention of ideal beauty.

A dreary monotony extends on all sides. There was a very great opportunity for painting. Even the com- missions of Julius II. or Leo X. seem unimportant in comparison with the gigantic works that originated in the second half of the sixteenth century. All mythological and historical subjects were reproduced in colours; but no matter how many figures occur in the paintings, they are always the same cliches printed over another signature. The antique is of course the centre of interest, and it is strange how willingly it at all times came to the aid of modern artists. At the beginning of the century when the ideals of taste were delicacy and nobility, the Apollo Belvedere was exhumed; and with the middle of the century, when the tendency was towards Baroque wildness, the Farnese Hercules and the Farnese Bull were resurrected from the earth. These Roman copies of Lysippan originals, although their chief char- acteristics are clumsiness and vulgarity, drew a whole generation in their trail. The head in these works is an eternal variant of the absolute ideal of beauty prescribed by the Grecian decadence; the body is no organism but a composition of bombastic, swollen


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iimbs placed in effective contrast. Because the most influential antique work happened to be a Hercules, moderns also thought they must render colossal figures and no longer create men but giants.

This bombastic rendition of form is supplemented by a declamatory expression of thought. No one any longer expresses briefly what he has to say, but all shout with rhetorical pathos. Christ can no longer sit at the Last Supper without making cramped the- atrical gestures; servants with edibles rush up steps; the disciples wave their arms and contort their bodies. Others feel that such efforts' of bravura are in the long run tiresome, but the more they reason and follow the rules, the more monotonous their works become: geometrical constructions of general, formal beauty which differ from each other as little as the proofs of a mathematical theorem. It is significant that the history of Italian art was now first transcribed; for the historical activity of Vasari ends the entire development. The age itself had the feeling that its creative artery was dried, and sought in- spiration in the past, repeating what had already been done.


III.— Roma Caput Mundi

So great was the trend towards centralisation that other countries also submitted to the artistic supremacy of the Eternal City. During the second half of the


sixteenth century Italy marched at the head of civil- isation. Italian generals won battles for the em- peror, the king of France, and the king of Spain; Italian physicians were summoned as far as Scotland and Turkey; Italian scholars gave instruction in all the universities of France, Germany, and England. The Italian language, little known in the fifteenth century, became the general language of the distinguished world. Aretino, the Venetian pamphleteer, levied tribute upon all the crowned heads of Europe. Artistically, also, Italy gave the tone to all nations. As Italian masters found occupation in the most different courts, so the northern painters thought they could find enlighten- ment only in the South. A homesick longing for Italy, as in Goethe’s and Carstens’s day, seized the best spirits, and gave them no rest until they had reached the land of their dreams. With privations and sufferings, labouring for their bread by the way, they made pilgrimages to Rome as to a sanctuary, and were never willing to depart after having been there. Durer’s words: ‘'Oh, how shall I freeze for lack of the sun; here am I a lord, at home a sycophant,” expressed their innermost soul. For they not only admired the art of Italy; they envied the artists themselves: Raphael, whose whole life was a triumphal procession; Michelangelo, who treated popes as his equals; Titian, whose brush an emperor, Charles V., picked up. They longed for relief from the limitations of their little towns and from the philistine narrowness of the


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North; they wished to take part in a great, free, dignified existence.

In the Netherlands, where a sort of Renaissance pervaded the entire spiritual life, the pilgrimage to Rome began earliest. One artist especially, Jan Scorel, a chivalric romanticist, is a true type of this cosmopolitan race. He inherited from infancy much sense of gracefulness and a fine feeling for landscape. Old, gnarled trees, oaks and pines, occur in all his works. Even before he had trod the soil of the South, he dreamt of majestic mountain ranges, of cypresses and pines. Then he seized the wanderer’s staff. For some time he remained in Germany, and even longer in Carinthia, where he painted the altar-piece at Ober- villach and fell in love with the young daughter of the lord of the castle. With a company of Netherlandish pilgrims he went from Venice to Palestine — a journey which became a voyage of discovery for landscape painting. For while even Patinir, in order to give his landscapes a biblical character, composed them of fantastic sceneries, Scorel was the first to paint the real Holy Land. His Baptism of Christ in Haarlem must have seemed a revelation to men for whom the Orient was still a locked and distant world of fables. Returning to Italy he was called to play a curious role in artistic life. After his countryman, Adrian of Utrecht, the tutor of Charles V., had ascended the papal throne, he named Scorel director of the Belvedere. For three years he lived in the Vatican, in those places


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over which the spirit of Raphael still invisibly hovered. What he created in later life, as canon of Utrecht, seems like a mournful echo of these Roman impressions.

Exquisitely tasteful are the landscape backgrounds of his Madonnas. He was charmed by the Roman ^ villas with their melancholy mixture of old age and youth, of splendour and decline. There are aqueducts, overgrown with parasites, the branches of which hang tiredly down from the weather-beaten wall; ruins, and quiet waters, in which brown ferns and withered ivy-clad foliage are reflected. But also as a painter of women he is one of the most subtle of the North. Few beautiful women had previously been created in northern painting. As if only old age, decline^ wrinkles, and furrows had attracted them, the ancient Netherlanders had only painted careworn women. The few Nuremberg women in Diirer’s drawings are raw-boned and angular, and the bedecked maidens by Cranach are so unattractive that one would think that at that time no beautiful women existed in the North. What pleased the artists was to draw hard faces with sharp and keen technique; they took no pleasure in the soft, misty, and maidenly qualities of womanhood. Scorel, the gentlemanly cleric, who could not live without Agatha von Schonhoven, had a fine sense of feminine charm. Whether he paints Mary or the Magdalen, his women are slender and elegant appari- tions of classic outline. With tender sentimentality he draws the harmonious lines of a youthful neck, the


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fragrant hair curling over the brow; and with true connoisseurship arranges the soft veil, the puffed sleeves, and the collar. He brought to the Nether- landers who had previously known only nun-like women a new ideal of enchanting worldly grace.

What connection existed between him and the lovable unknown artist called the “ Master of the Female Half Figures”? He much resembles Scorel, except that he is often more quiet and hesitating: the Luini of the North, a mild dreamer who speaks only tender loving words. Life with him passes like a beautiful day, to the accompaniment of soft music. He paints young girls playing on the spinnet, raising a glass, or dreaming over their music. Something innocent and harmless, yet melancholy, pervades his graceful, delicate works. One would almost like to say that he saw women with the eye of a schoolboy in love for the first time. For pure as angels and of flower-like grace are these gentle quiet children with their soft movements, their lily- white hands and pure brows, over which the quaintly parted brown hair falls so simply. Pictures like these cannot be described but only felt, and admired in silence. This is probably the chief effect the artist himself intended, since he was perhaps no professional painter, but passed his life so quietly and so unnoticed that our entire knowledge of him lies locked in his pictures.

Jan Gossart, called Mabuse, who made a pilgrimage to Italy even earlier than Scorel, rendered important


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services as a painter of the nude. In his youthful works, like the portable altar of Palermo, he was still a miniature painter in the sense of Gerard David. Then one can see in his Christ on the Mount of Olives how decadent Gothic was transformed into Baroque confusion. The Italian ideal of women began to affect him and he painted the beautiful Woman Weighing Gold in the Berlin Gallery, which is a faint echo of the Master of the Female Half-Figures. In his more ambitious altar-pieces also, as in Christ at the House of Simon in the museum of Brussels, Renaissance elements are commingled with the Gothic. In their severe idealism and rigid angularity many of the figures re- mind one of earlier days; but beside them are others, which, if judged from their soft smoothness of form, would seem to have been taken from Raphael’s painting. Even the architectural backgrounds, in their union of Gothic and Renaissance elements, are characteristic of this transition. In his following works (several Madonnas, the Danae at Munich, and the picture in Prague Cathedral) he stands entirely upon the soil of the cinquecento, although a certain trivial tendency still distinguishes him from the Italians. In the life- size nude figures which he painted at the end of his life, even the remainder of the Gothic intricacies is eliminated. Majestic as ancient marble groups, the figures of Neptune and Amphitrite arise from the cell of an antique temple. True, they are cold, academic, and superficial, but this lies in the character


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of the later cinquecenio. If Mabuse had continued to labour in the style of his youth he would have been a belated survivor of the Gothic; but by attacking the problems which the cinquecenio laid down he ful- filled an historical mission. For without Mabuse’s Aphrodite, Rubens’s Andromeda could hardly have been painted.

In the works of Barend van Orley also there are a rhythm and a flowing, elegant movement which assure him an important position among the masters of the Renaissance in the Netherlands. It is not proper to speak of a repudiation of the national style in the case of these painters; for a style belongs not to a people but to an age. In their transformation from Gothic to Renaissance artists they merely followed the taste of the epoch, and are no worse than contemporary Italians. Of course they are deficient in personal characterisation ; for as the essence of idealism consists in the elimination of the individual and in the subordination of the personal to the absolute, so with them the individuality necessarily receded, and there remains only a general uniform type. The development in the Netherlands is a repetition of what Italy had experienced.

As late as the second half of the sixteenth century some energetic portraits were painted. The portrait- painter cannot confine himself to painting man as such, since resemblance can only be achieved by the rep- resentation of personal traits. Joost van Cleve, Antonis Mor, Frans Pourbus, and Nicolas Neufchatel resemble


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Bronzino in style. They are healthy, powerful realists who, like their predecessor Massys, know neither generalisation nor retouching; and only in the freer character and quiet dignity of their portraits is their Italian schooling revealed.

The products of the so-called “grand painting’' are lacking in every personal imprint. Michael Coxie was called the Flemish Raphael, Frans Floris, the Flemish Michelangelo; and these titles sufficiently indicate that they said nothing which had not been better said by Raphael and Michelangelo before them. Marten de Vos, Barthel Spranger, Marten Heemskerk, G^rnelis Cornelissen — the same statement applies to all of them. They covered enormous surfaces with beautiful but cold figures, and did not serve art, but made use of certain completed designs which en- abled them to satisfy all commissions with schematic perfection.

Proceeding from the Netherlands into other countries we find the names of the actors changed, but the drama which they play is always the same. The silence of the grave lies over Germany, in which the troubles following the Reformation had deprived art of a foothold. The few South German princes who were in a position to play the role of Maecenas either sum- moned foreigners to their courts or bought old masters. At this time originated the private collections which formed the basis of the Munich and Vienna galleries. The few painters who still existed in Germany fol-

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lowed the same path as the Netherlanders. Bartel Bruyn, the last survivor of the Cologne school, under- took the role of Mabuse. His portraits rank with Holbein’s and Amberger’s as the best products of Ger- man portraiture. In his religious paintings he at first continued the work of the Master of the Death of Mary, but later was transformed into a follower of Raphael. The family group in the Munich gallery by Christoph Schwartz, a Munich painter who studied at Venice, possesses the strong and simple sincerity of old German art, while at the same time it shows a har- mony of colour and broad technique derived from Titian. His altar-pieces also re-echo the full sonorous chords of the Venetian masters. Johann Rottenhammer is more trivial and dainty and possesses a pleasing, superficial charm. The demand for decorative work was supplied by Joseph Heinz and Hans von Aachen, virtuosi of the brush, whose work might equally well be Netherlandish or Italian.

French painting had a very original beginning in Jean Foucquet. Although he had visited Italy, his chief work in the Berlin Gallery, representing Etienne Chevalier, the favourite of Charles VIE, and Agnes Sorel, commended by Stephen, his patron saint, to the protection of the Madonna, reminds one of Goes, rather than the Italian masters. The corresponding painting at Antwerp has a specifically French note. In it the Blessed Virgin is represented with the features of Agnes Sorel, clad in a short fashionable dress and princely


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ermine and suckling the Child. A piquant Parisian perfume is wafted from the work.

In the sixteenth century the two Clouets, Jean and Francois, still laboured in this ancient style. Jean Clouet, who was until 1540 court painter to Francis I., resembles Holbein in the photographic truth with which he renders physiognomy. Francois Clouet, who suc- ceeded his father as court painter in 1540, had the same severe, sure art, except that he is more cos- mopolitan and distinguished, reminding us rather of Bronzino than of Holbein.

In fresco painting the same change that occurred elsewhere had in the meanwhile taken place. The invasions of I taly by the French kings at the close of the fifteenth century had already established an artistic connection. In their wars over the duchy of Milan Charles VIII. and Louis XII. not only took along their own painters like Jan Perreal, but also invited Italian artists to settle in France. It is sufficient to recall the mighty name of Leonardo. With Francis 1. the real Italian Renaissance in France began. A whole army of Italian artists was speedily summoned and commissioned to decorate the newly constructed castles. Fontainebleau especially (where in the nine- teenth century Millet, Rousseau, Corot, and Diaz painted) became the French Vatican. II Rosso, Primaticcio, and Niccolo delf Abbate were in charge of the decorations — painters whose works one indiffer- ently passes by in Italy and who do not improve by


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being seen in France. Among their French followers is Jean Cousin, a facile artist of profound knowledge, whose Last Judgment contains many a brilliant theatri- cal effect. It is very instructive to compare the later decorations of the palace of Fontainebleau with the earlier. The masters summoned to complete this new work were not Italians but Netherlanders. But Hieronymus Francken, the head of the Netherlandish colony, was a pupil of Michelangelo’s follower Frans Floris; and passing through the halls one observes, therefore, no difference between the Italian and Netherlandish works.

The tendency towards centralisation in the cin- quecento led to a complete uniformity of art. Every- thing is elastic, polished, and elegant. But just as in their portraits artists of the most different minds resemble each other (they all wear the same fantastic costume and assume the same declamatory attitude), so their painting lacks individual character. The signatures only tell us that this is the work of a German, that of a Netherlander, that again of a Frenchman. What one sees is always the same, general and idealised forms, typical faces, ideal draperies, carefully weighed composition, and an equally cold ceremoniousness in the expression of sentiment. In spite of all its fruit- fulness the second half of the sixteenth century was an age of weariness and exhaustion. The ideals of the Renaissance had lost their spiritual significance and new ones had not yet arisen. Although the great


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masters were dead, men still laboured with their thoughts, and deduced from scientific rules what with them had been an expression of personality. As late as the beginning of the sixteenth century every land and every province had had its own art ; now a universal language, a Volapuk of art, has replaced the dialects. A new development of painting could only come when some great movement in civilisation gave it new subjects, new problems, and new aims. These new ideals were furnished by the Counter-reformation.


Chapter VII.— The Struggle of Venice and Spain against Rome =

I.— Lorenzo Lotto

The course of the development of art in the sixteenth century was exactly the same as in the fifteenth. The great heathen Renaissance was followed by an ecclesiastical reaction; and as at that time the hurricane which descended with Savon- arola had been heralded long before by thunder and lightning, so the beginning of the Counter-reformation goes back to the decade following 1520.

A strange tone is suddenly sounded in the activity of the masters of the Renaissance: weird, visionary, convulsed elements mingle with antique joyfulness and Hellenic pleasure in form. Michelangelo’s figures seem pursued by a nightmare, as if the thought of the Nazarene would not let them rest. The eyes of St. John in Fra Bartolommeo’s Entombment, the eyes of John the Baptist in the Madonna di Foligno, those of St. Cecilia and of the Sistine Madonna — all betray that even these masters were touched by the religious current whose wave dashed from Germany over Italy.

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But with them the influence was an external one; the few drops of Christianity did not mingle with their Hellenic blood.

Conditions were different in Venice, which since its origin had been a religious city, a Byzantine outpost on Italian soil. During the entire quattrocento it remained a bulwark against the Renaissance; and even after a worldly and religious art had been introduced from elsewhere by Gentile da Fabriano and Pisanello, the native school of Murano held fast to mediaeval traditions. We remember how at the close of the century, when the religious reaction passed through Italy, Crivelli seized the opportunity once more to resurrect Byzantinism. A time indeed followed when Venice, like an isle of Cythera, was pervaded by worldly sensuality and joyful festal feeling. No one thought any longer of heaven, into which the earth itself had been trans- formed. The gondoliers sang, beautiful women laughed, and every one seemed rich, proud, and happy. It was a soft and sensuous atmosphere, such as Giorgione painted; a proud and majestic splendour — that of Titian. But although those works form the acme of Venetian art, no Venetian was among the leaders of the movement. Aldus Manutius, who made Venice the literary centre of Humanism, was a Florentine, and all the painters came from the mainland: Giorgione from Castelfranco, Palma from Serinalta, and Titian from Pieve. Yet even in their antique works these masters preserve a holy solemnity. There is no longing


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as with Correggio, no sensuality as with Sodoma. Titian, though a heathen, painted the Magdalen with the skull, which almost heralds the art of the Jesuits; and with a picture which was no antique subject but the Crown of Thorns his activity passed away. At Rome Sebastiano avoided antique subjects, painting miracles and martyrdoms. However much the trav- eller would fain think of the sound of mandolins and of sunshine when Venice is mentioned, his first impres- sion is the black gondola gliding gloomily as a hearse over the dark green lagoons. The character of the palaces is solemn and gloomy; the bells of Murano sound subdued and solemn. For Venice paganism remained an episode. The Renaissance masters from foreign cities were confronted even at the beginning of the sixteenth century by a native Venetian, a follower of Savonarola and the herald of Caraffa. Like a ghost or a preacher of penance Lorenzo Lotto wanders in the midst of that joyful, worldly race; and amid the jubilant bacchanalian hymns of his contemporaries his pictures sound solemn as the bells of Murano.

Lotto also, when a young man, was influenced by the ideas of the Renaissance. The cycle of his works begins with that Danae of the collection of Professor Conway in London whom one would not be surprised to meet among the works of Bocklin. In a green meadow yellow, blue, and white flowers grow; round about trees, fine and erect as in Bocklin’s Summer Day, stretch into the blue ether. In the


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midst of the meadow sits a maiden in white garments receiving in her lap the shimmering golden rain, and a small goat-footed satyr listens behind a tree. But his next picture belongs to a different world of ideas. Upon the slope of a steep precipitous cliff a half-naked hermit kneels before the cross of the Redeemer. Swarms of ravens flutter over his head while he penitently strikes himself with the scourge in his hand. St. Jerome is Lotto’s second hero; the old man who turns away from mankind to find rest in solitude, the tired greybeard burdened by the oppressive weight of the past.

Lotto, the son of conservative Venice, arose as the standard-bearer of the great religious past; for thus the strange archaism of his early works may best be explained. When his activity began, Giorgione, Titian and Palma were regarded as foreign intruders. Even Giovanni Bellini was considered a renegade to the religious art which his predecessors, the Muranese, had still comprehended in its majestic Byzantine solemnity. Lotto bears the same relation to Titian and Giorgione in the sixteenth century as Crivelli to Bellini in the fifteenth. His ideal is Alwise Vivarini, the last survivor of the old school of Murano, who in the days of Giovanni Bellini had proclaimed the gospel of self-renunciation so dear to Byzantine art.

The pictures at Naples, in the Borghese Gallery, Rome, and at Asolo are the principal examples of Lotto’s Muranese style. Cima had removed the throne


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of Mary from the solemn apse of the church to the open landscape. Even Bellini, his teacher, breaking with the old form of altars with wings, predelle, and lunettes, had treated altarpieces as simple, decorative panels in the manner of the cinquecento. Giorgione took a further step by substituting for the humility of the handmaid of the Lord, the love charm of the worldly woman. There is nothing of all this with Lotto. In the apse of a church with solemn and gloomy architecture stands the throne of Mary, or in his smaller pictures the figures arise as if out of nothingness, from a dark background. He always maintained the mediaeval form of the altar with wings and predelle. Solemn and unapproachably majestic is the expression of Mary, gloomy and troubled is the following of saints gathered about her throne. The wild men of the desert of Castagno and the old Donatello, the ascetic hermits and fantastic preachers of Botticelli are revived in Lotto’s works. Especially does the figure of the aged Onophrius in the picture of the Borghese Gallery, so like King Lear, sound like the echo of a convulsed time, when the aged Donatello designed his confused reliefs at Padua, and when Zoppo and Schiavone, Tura and Bartolommeo Vivarini painted their harsh, ascetic pictures.

Meanwhile Alwise Vivarini had died, no one worked at Venice in the spirit of the past, and Lotto was not strong enough to stand alone. Thus, at least, the abrupt change which he made may be best explained.


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After Muranese art had sunk into the grave he sought for other models, sublime beyond all doubt. No art could be more religious or rest upon a sounder founda- tion than the one to which the Vicar of Christ gave his blessing. So he set out upon a pilgrimage to Rome, not to the Eternal City, the city of antiquity, but to the centre of Christendom. The Roman ideals which the pope approved he would make his own. But after he had laboured for four years, from 1 508 to 1512, under the influence of Raphael, the result was the same as twenty years before with Savonarola. As what he had seen in Rome aroused the reforming spirit of the Dominican friar, and as the libertinism which ruled in the most holy places confirmed him in the belief that a new prophet must come to save the church from destruction : so Lotto also, in his associa- tion with the Roman artists, felt there that was nothing Christian in Christian art as it was then practised; that it was further away from what the church had once hon- oured than were the works of Bellini, Titian, and Giorg- ione which he had viewed with fearful eyes at home.

The picture of St. Vincent Ferrer which he painted for the altar of Recanati seems like a thunderbolt of the Counter-reformation striking into the Venetian Renaissance. Not only the theme announces the spirit of Ignatius Loyola (for Vincent Ferrer is a saint whom the Spaniards honoured as an apocalyptic prophet); but the gloomy monastic trend, the wild convulsion of the painting has more in common with Zurbaran than


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with the cinquecento. In the altar of San Bartolommeo at Bergamo his feeling was again quieted; for no senti- ment of battle but a mild resignation pervades the work. Lotto had, it would seem, found a support in a religious movement which was accomplished at that time. During the pontificate of Leo X. a sort of society, the Illuminati, had been formed, to which distinguished gentlemen and cultured ladies from all parts of Italy belonged: “beautiful souls,” who were as little sat- isfied with the heathen philosophy as with the forms of official religion, and professed a sort of pantheistic Christianity. Was Lotto a member of this “ Society of the Divine Love?” One might almost believe so in view of his paintings during the following years (1515-24), when quiet Bergamo was his place of resi- dence. The characteristic feature of these paintings is a pantheistic Christianity. He feels himself in com- munity of love with everything that exists. Nature, which in the sense of the Muranese he had formerly regarded as something godless, the accursed Golgotha upon which the cross of the Redeemer stood, has now become for him a book written by the finger of God; the great mother of all things to whom man and animal, tree and flower owe their existence. A new religion had revealed itself to him which reminds one of Spinoza or of the first "enthusiastic days of the Franciscan order when the saint of Assisi, in reaction against a rigid scholasticism, proclaimed the gospel of love, transferred the love of God to the whole world, and


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addressed Christ and Mary, men and animals, the plants and the stars of heaven as his brothers and sisters.

This change of opinion is clearly shown in the type of his Madonnas. Gloomy and unapproachable with the Muranese; a sibyl, staring sadly with wide eyes into the distance with Bellini; the solemn queen of heaven with Titian : she has become with Lotto the blessed mother, caressing her boy, and pressing her cheek against his in beaming maternal joy. Pictures like his Madonna at Dresden contain nothing new for the history of art, since Leonardo and Correggio had painted similar themes; but they are new for Venetian painting, which had always imparted to the Madonna involuntary and apathetic qualities, and had never attempted to portray tender maternal love. The contrast between wealth and poverty is overcome. In the older Italian paint- ings Mary is either soulful, in which case she is the poor maiden, or she wears costly garments and is proud and haughty. Although Lotto’s Madonnas are richly clothed, although pearls adorn their hair, and their hands are white and tender, they also quiver with feeling. Not only under a beggar’s garb but under a silken bodice, a tender heart may beat and the love of God may move.

This love he imparts also to the landscape. Mary is no longer enthroned in church but in God’s free nature. Wide and boundless the country stretches before us, traversed by rivers which empty into the distant sea. As in a single picture he attempts to


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render the whole infinity of the universe, he also reveals a power of observation for minute objects, for tender forms of the vegetable world, which no contemporary Venetian could rival. Here a rose-bush in full bloom hangs over the wall; there a thick wall of jasmines forms the background or branches of blossoms are spread over the ground. If interiors are represented, he paints, like a Dutch still-life painter, cups, books, pots and candlesticks. A soft light, as if in heavenly harmonies, quivers through the room. Even his frescoes gave a new expression of this pantheistic tendency. In contrast to Italian fresco-painting in general, which has a certain monumental sweep and preserves the solemn character of tapestry. Lotto disregards its decorative character, giving broad views upon sunlit streets and squares, where high houses arise and men move about in daily traffic. And while other masters gave their work an architectural framing of friezes and pilasters. Lotto eliminates all such features, and, like the Japanese in their wood-cuts, de- picts grape and cherry branches of the foreground extending into the midst of the fields.

As a portrait painter, he struck chords which are echoed in no other Italian work. All other portraits of the cinquecento are solemn representative pictures. The subjects are not at ease, but seem as dignified as if they felt that the eyes of the world were upon them. People who played an important part in the world did not exist in little Bergamo, or such as did were not


LORENZO LOTTO


PORTRAIT OF THE PROTHONOTARY GIULIANO

National Gallery, London


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congenial company for tranquil Lotto. Only those whom he loved and honoured were invited into his studio, and this circumstance alone differentiates his portraits from those of Raphael or Titian.

Instead of the general representative types of the cinquecento Lotto paints workmen of the spirit, a humanity which stands nearer to us of the present day in thought and feeling. Unconcerned with their decorative appearance, he does not show them as they move in the world, but in their hours of introspection. Nor does he confine himself to reading their countenances and abstracting their secrets like a father confessor, but even seems to offer them advice, to adjure and warn them; as when in his picture of the youth in the Borghese Gallery he adds a skull amid rose or jasmine leaves, or in the picture of the nervous man in the Doria Gallery gives the age of the subject as in sepulchral inscription. Woman is for him a vampire, who sucks the life-blood from men. This thought seems to pervade his groups; as for example the Messalina-like woman of the National Gallery with the hard, cold glance, and at her side the pale man with trembling hands, and a resigned and tired glance.

The wonderful picture of Palazzo Rospigliosi (Rome) , which is wrongly called the Triumph of Chastity, marks the conclusion of this period of tranquil artistic activity passed at Bergamo. Although he had attained his fiftieth year, he had as yet expressed few of the sentiments that had convulsed his youthful


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soul. He therefore decided to see the world again and find out what was moving the artists there. So he set out, travelled for a while in the Marches, was at the sack of Rome in 1 527, and in 1 529 returned to Venice.

The immediate result of these travels was that he united what he saw into a strange potpourri of painting. He, the brooder and the thinker, for a time imitated Palma, and threw himself at Titian’s feet. But with the spread of the Catholic reformation fate was more favourable to him. The mild and conciliatory Con- tarini, who had before this laboured for reform in Venice, was joined in 1527 by the gloomy Neapolitan CaralTa. In a garden by the monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore the friends of the movement assembled weekly as guests of Abbot Cortese. The nobility, the learned world, and the clergy were all represented, and the eyes of all who longed for a reformation of the church looked in silent hope towards Venice. A reform of art was also intended; for Caraffa recom- mended the rigid and ritual forms of Byzantinism to the painters as the truest expression of reverential, churchly piety. There was thus suddenly awakened in Lotto a sense of power similar to that which Botticelli felt when Savonarola confirmed his youthful ideals; he also would preach and struggle. He' has at last found a fixed aim and a true reason for artistic activity. Enthusiasm and pathos radiate from his works: the mighty figures of bishops. Crucifixions, and Madonnas.

But for the present paganism was still stronger than


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Christianity. Contarini was deserted by his followers and Titian, who had in some works professed Christian- ity, returned to his old Hellenic ways. For Lotto this meant the collapse of all of his hopes. He clung helplessly to the most primeval masters, painting works like the Crucifixion at Milan, which seems a gloomy echo of the trecento; the Pietd of the same gallery, which in its grimacing pain approaches Crivelli; and the altar-piece of Ancona, a strange union of Baroque wildness with Muranese archaism. The altar-piece of the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo at Venice — human hands stretched upwards, as in Lempoeks Fate, with quivering longing for salvation — he presented to the monks in return for a free burial. The aged St. Jerome, who sought in solitude refuge from earthly strife, again filled his mind. He also would have nothing more in common with the profane, and would settle in some quiet corner of the world to end his days as a hermit. He sold the contents of his studio, which included a picture of the Rational Soul, another of the Christ-child Bearing a Cross, and a third of the Conflict between Force and Happiness, and withdrew to Loreto, where he bought a place among the monks. In this sacred precinct Lotto died, a martyr to his faith, because his message came too soon. But the tendency heralded in his works was the one to which the future belonged.


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II.— Tintoretto

In the year 1545 Pietro Aretino, the Venetian author, wrote a strange letter to Michelangelo. As a Christian he disapproved of the freedom which the master had taken in his treatment of the Last Judgment. It was a scandal that such a work should be daily seen in the greatest temple of Christianity, upon the chief altar of Jesus, and in the holiest chapel of the world, by the vicegerent of Christ himself. Although even the heathens had portrayed Diana or Venus with modesty, Michelangelo did not consider this necessary; and his picture therefore was suitable for a bathroom but not for a church. It was a blasphemy to represent the Heavenly Father as Jupiter and the saints as antique heroes, to transform the Madonna into a love goddess and Christian martyrs into hetcerce.

It is significant that this letter came from Venice. Ancient, rigid Byzantine Venice again girds herself to take a part in the development of Italian art, and to supersede the Renaissance of antiquity by a Renais- sance of the middle age.

But the time was not yet ripe. As in the fifteenth century Ghirlandajo had to appear before Savonarola, so in the sixteenth the extreme bound of ecclesiastical worldliness had to be reached before the reaction could begin. The Ghirlandajo of the sixteenth century came in the person of a stranger, Paolo Cagliari, who became the painter of Venetian festivities. In his


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brilliant art the worldly spirit of the cinquecento celebrated its last great triumph.

An ancient author has described a festival which the Venetian Senate gave in honour of Henry III. of France. Two hundred of the most beautiful gentlewomen of Venice, dressed in white and covered with pearls and diamonds, received him, so that the king thought that he had suddenly entered a realm of goddesses and fairies. Paolo’s paintings in the Ducal Palace are of a similar fairy-like pomp. The whole splendour of Venice is there revealed. Representatives of the people salute the doge; beautiful women smile down from marble balustrades; cavaliers ride about upon splendid, prancing horses. Allegories also — Loyality, Happiness, Gentleness, Moderation, and Re- tribution— are to be seen: at least, so says Baedeker, but from the paintings one would never know it. For Veronese painted only beautiful women; if he gives one a lamb, it is Gentleness, if a dog Loyalty.

Notwithstanding their titles, his earlier decorations of the Villa Maser are no frosty allegories. Landscapes, beautiful Ionic columns, guide the eye into the distance; mighty nude figures in bold poses fill the niches and recline upon the architraves: Venus surrounded by Loves and Graces, and Bacchus with his joyous vine- crowned fauns. Christianity and paganism, the nude and the draped are strangely commingled. Cupids, beautiful women, genii, goldsmith’s work, and gleaming fabrics are heaped together in superb examples of still


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life. The Olympian joyfulness of the cinquecento, in no wise “sicklied o’er by the pale cast of thought,” here speaks its last word.

The above descriptions also show what may not be expected from Veronese. He is certainly a clever decorator and an improviser of enviable facility; a painter of great delicacy of feeling. How festally effective is his red, recurring like a joyful trumpet- blast among the silver grey harmonies of his paintings! Yet one never thinks or dreams before his works, but only sees. Veronese seems to have come into the world to prove that the painter need have neither head nor heart, but only a hand, a brush, and a pot of paint in order to clothe all the walls of the world with oil paint- ings. His panel paintings are a supplement of his achievements as a mural painter. In contrast to Carpaccio, who discriminates sharply between decorative and panel paintings, Veronese knows no such difference. Out of a still life of satin portieres and rustling brocaded robes, the head of a woman appears: such are his female portraits; powerful female figures clad in heavy, gold gleaming damask, their blond hair decked with diamonds, the neck with sparkling chains, are labelled Venus or Europa. If he paints Mary^ she is not the handmaid of the Lord or even the queen of heaven, but a woman of the world, listening with approving smile to the homage of a cavalier. In light, red silk morning dress, she receives the Angel of the Annuncia- tion and hears without surprise — for she has already


PAOLO VERONESE


THE MARRIAGE OF CANA

Dresden Gallery


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heard it — what he has to say; and at the Entombment she only weeps in order to keep up appearances.

Those luxuriant festal suppers to which he gave the title of Christ in the House of Levi, the Marriage at Cana, or the Last Supper are especially celebrated. In a splendid hall of columns the festal board is laid amid staircases and colonnades of marble ; waiters move busily about with silver platters and crystal wine-bottles; upon a festively adorned balustrade musicians make table music; while the ladies and gentlemen of Venice, celebrated painters and princes in gala costume, assemble for the state banquet. Veronese was a happy man. Everywhere he goes there is joy and splendour; everywhere beautiful women smile, every- where there is a maitre d’ hotel who has prepared the best of things. He knows no want, but only riches; no huts, only palaces; no sacrifice, only enjoyment. He does not even know of an after- world or of the final judgment which follows, but stands with both feet upon the earth; nor can he imagine that the Last Supper means anything else than a repast.

Just so Ghirlandajo had painted a hundred years before ; and the same reaction followed. On the i8th of July, 1 573, Veronese was summoned before the tribunal of the Inquisition to answer for his Last Supper, which to-day hangs in the Louvre. Lotto had died a martyr to his belief, but now a shrill signal was sounded; Venice remembered her ancient traditions. All that the foreigners from Giorgione to Veronese had created


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was not real Venetian painting. Tintoretto, like Crivelli and Lotto, a born Venetian, rose up against the joyful Veronese as the black knight of the middle age, the sombre priest of a gloomy art.

By his whole character Jacopo Robusti was called to this role of giving the first expression to the gloomy pathos of the Counter-reformation. He is described as a stormy and exalted spirit, a fiery passionate nature. When he invited Aretino to come to his atelier, and by way of reminder of a criticism which he had formerly written tArust a pistol under his nose, he reveals himself by this one trait as the predecessor of that wild race to which Caravaggio and Ribera belonged. The well- known scene of the artist painting his dead daughter by lamplight also heralds the time of Bea- trice Cenci. Examining his bust in the court of the Ducal Palace, the head with furrowed brow, the hollow cheeks and the deep-set staring eyes, one can also understand how the consuming passion and the charnel- house sentiment of his paintings were based upon the character of the man.

Like all other Venetians of the day, Tintoretto had studied with Titian, and appears in his first works as a master of the Renaissance, tranquil in sentiment, gleam- ing and golden in colour. He painted the radiant nudity of the youthful female form, studied the play and reflection of light as it softly caresses a tender back, and by means of fairy-like landscape imparted to his pictures a solemn and majestic splendour. To


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his works of this period belong Susanna in the Vienna Gallery, the slender Andromeda in St. Petersburg, his Venus at Florence; and the most beautiful work by him in Germany, Martha’s Supper, in the Augsburg Gallery. His representation of Christ Washing the Feet of his Apostles signifies, in its joyful Renaissance spirit, the acme of his work as a worldly painter. The sunlight floods the hall, and through the rows of mighty columns the eye falls upon shimmering palaces and the glittering mirror of the lagoons.

As in these paintings there are points of contact with Veronese, so in his portraits he resembles Titian. Tintoretto is more one-sided than he. While in Titian’s portraits the most beautiful women of Venice pass by, among Tintoretto’s few women occur, and such as do are harsh and mannish, massive and heavy. The portraits of the doges and procurators which he painted in an official capacity are the only ones which reveal him in his full greatness. Here also a harsh objectivity differentiates him from Titian. While the latter seeks beautiful poses and graceful movement, and by the use of columns and a curtain imparts to the background also a festal and decorative effect, Tintoretto’s back- grounds are sombre, enlivened with a coat of arms at most; and he is unable to render a beautiful pose because he never paints entire figures but mostly a three-quarter piece. Even the hands, upon which Titian bestowed so much attention, he subordinates, as does Lenbach, to the head, either concealing them in


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Danish gloves or completing them with a few brush strokes. By means of this simplification — and also because he never paints transient traits, but the official mien — he achieves even more powerful and monumental effects than Titian. Velasquez learned much from Tintoretto’s portraits of senators.

In his portrait groups he appears as a predecessor of Frans Hals. He was the first to paint pictures intended for public buildings which, like the Dutch doelenstukke, united a number of officials in a single group. But while the Dutch, in order to unite the figures, represented them at a banquet, Tintoretto’s nobili were far too proud to show themselves to the people in an exhilarated condition. Without any bond of union, without loss of composure, gloomy and reserved, they stand there, like Spanish grandees upon Italian soil.

But the real Tintoretto, the diligent master workman of the wild and fanatical style which dominated the following decades, can only be studied in his religious pictures. It seems as if suddenly a dark cloud had overcast the bright heaven of Venetian art. Instead of the enchanting festal music of Veronese, funeral^ marches and trumpet blasts sound; instead of smiling women, bloody martyrs and pale ascetics appear.

In order to become a painter of the Counter-reforma- tion Tintoretto had formed a quite new technique.

In contrast to the other Venetians who portrayed the nude in repose, he learned to represent it in most


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dramatic action. By the study of Michelangelo and the use of the dissecting knife, he learned the extreme play of muscles that could be applied to his stormy figures. The rounded, classic forms of Titian were not suitable for these nude bodies which, inflamed with the ardour of faith, twist and contort themselves as if in illness. No superflous flesh could make men phlegmatic or restrain the eccentric pathos of their gestures. He therefore introduces a new, emaciated and distended type into Venetian painting. His wo- men, especially, with their pale, livid features and en- circled eyes, strangely sparkling as if from black depths, have nothing in common with the soft ideal, of form which he followed in his youth. The colour is used to strengthen the convulsive sentiment. The inscription above the door of Tintoretto's studio: “The line of Michelangelo, the colour of Titian,” is an error. For Titian's colour resembles that of a beautiful autumn day, when everything gleams in rich harmonious colours, and the sun, before sinking in the west, once more spreads her warm, even light over the earth; but in the presence of Tintoretto's pictures one does not think of an autumn day, but rather of a dismal night, when the lightning flashes or the flames of smouldering autos da je ascend to heaven. Important portions of the painting lie in deep shadow, while others are illuminated in a ghostly fashion by harsh greenish lights. In place of the rich harmonies of the Re- naissance he has substituted the gloomy colour of


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the Baroque; the serene brightness of the Hellenic spirit is followed by mediaeval night.

The celebrated painting of the Venetian Academy, representing St. Mark freeing a slave from death by sacrifice, is the first shrill trumpet note. The repre- sentation of the supernatural interfering in the course of earthly events was a suitable theme for Tintoretto. Head foremost the saint plunges down, seizing with mighty movement the arm of the executioner; a majestic light proceeds from him, illuminating some details, leaving others in deep shade. The symbolic significance is not far to seek. The popes in their free-think- ing heathenism are the executioners of the church; but the Republic of St. Mark interferes to save her.

Then came the frescoes in the church of the Madonna del Orto, the Worship of the Golden Calf and the Last Judgment. Here also is revealed the spirit of the Counter-reformation, which in an age of idolatry pointed to the terrors of the last day. In wild action, as if the delay had already been too long, the angels rush upon Moses to give him the tables of the law. All architectonic laws are dispensed with: here are clouds and yawning space, there wildly commingled masses of figures. At the day of the final judgment all nature is in uproar, the sea overflows its shores, a death- bringing flood. Only a few of the risen, ascending to heaven, find mercy; the angels dash the rest down into the depths. For the whole world had offered sacri-


TINTORETTO


THE MIRACLE OF ST,


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fice to the idols of heathendom and lost the right to redemption.

The fifty-six paintings of the Scuola di San Rocco show the whole greatness and boldness of this daemonic artist. While the Renaissance had avoided the representations of physical suffering and given even to martyrs the smiling expression of a Ganymede, the picture of Tintoretto’s St. Roch Healing a Sick Man already reveals the awful naturalism which the Spaniards later employed in such representations. The Annunciation, which in Veronese’s painting is received by Mary as if it were indifferent town news, Tintoretto renders with a passion as if it were his office to proclaim a rebirth of Christ to the world. In his Crucifixion he has found methods of heightening the feelings which were not further developed until the panoramic painting of the nineteenth century. In Cagliari’s and Robusti’s paintings two worlds collide. In the former pleasure in life, the joy and beauty of the Renaissance pass away, while the gloomy and mighty works of Tintoretto pave the way for the art of the seventeenth century.

III.— The Spanish School

As mighty allies, the Spaniards came to the assistance of the Venetians. It is no accident that the portraits of senators by Tintoretto are reminiscent of Velasquez and that the last great Venetian master, Tiepolo, died


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in Madrid. For there was a spiritual connection between the city of the black gondolas and the land of the black-robed priests. If the history of art dealt only with spiritual factors, the Spaniards would outrank the Venetians. For the movement of the Counter-reformation originated in Spain. CaraflFa had been legate there before he came to Venice in 1527, and it was thence that he brought those rigid Gregorian principles which culminated in the destruction of the heretics and the relentless purification of the church by the return to the discipline of the middle age. Dark, gloomy figures sat upon the throne of the land; kings who were buried not with insignia of real power, but in the cowl of the Dominicans.

The struggle for the faith was traditional with the Spaniards, who battled against the paganism of the Roman church during the sixteenth century as they had in the middle age against the Moors. Ignatius Loyola was the great herald of the battle. By him and his creation, the order of the Jesuits, the mightiest impulse was given to the great movement which has since that time swept over the nations. As the religion of the Roman church had become a veiled paganism, so Spain was the country of convulsed mysticism, which nowhere else revealed itself in such strange forms. Purely contemplative in Italy at the time of Catherine of Siena, mysticism became in Spain a system of self-stupefaction; the art of transporting oneself by external and internal artifices into a con-


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dition in which a sensuous union with supernatural divinity was achieved. In this sense Ossuna in 1521 wrote his Abecedario spiritual, a manual of the method by which one could attain complete union with God. But religious hysteria found its classic expression in the writings of St. Theresa. According to her doctrine the subject must be absorbed in spiritual contemplation of the Deity until the approach of the moment of ecstacy, the “immediate entrance of the Deity into the soul.’’ She especially empha- sises the fact that in such ecstacy there should be complete absence of volition in the body. Only when one is as if dead in this rapture, the Sabbath of the Soul, a foretaste of paradise approaches. The sensations enjoyed, the '‘joys of heaven in which the body takes such a strange part,” are described with detailed exactitude. The same paths were pursued by Michael Molinos and St. Peter of Alcantara, the begging friar, who was composed only of bones and dark brown skin, and took the little sleep which nature persisted in demanding sitting in his narrow cell. At the end of the cycle came those with whom the supersensuous was transformed into sensuality.

That this specifically Spanish element had not yet been purely revealed in the painting of the sixteenth century is due to the fact that art presupposes more difficult manual conditions than literature. Until the fifteenth century paintings had found no home in Spain. The brilliant reception which Jan van Eyck


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had received there caused some enterprising Nether- landers to visit the Pyrenean peninsular, and incited by these foreigners, native Spaniards took up painting. Juan Nunez, Antonio del Rincon, Velasco daCoimbria, and Frey Carlos, who laboured in Spain and Portugal during the fifteenth century, are Gothic masters and advocates of the style which in the Netherlands was represented by Roger and in Germany by Wohlgemuth. As late as the sixteenth century there laboured at Seville Pieter de Kempeneer, a Netherlander, by whom there are a number of Madonnas of gloomy solemnity in German collections. Resembling his art was that of the Spaniard Luis Morales, whose style has points of resemblance with that of Massys. A painful, passionate, gloomy, ascetic character pervades his works. In most of them he displays the Man of Sorrows sinking down under the burden of the cross, flogged at the column, or bleeding under the crown of thorns; in others our Lady of Sorrows, sometimes with the body of her Son in her lap, at others looking upon the cross with wild lamentation. Like Massys he pre- fers half-length figures. Although the drawing of his emaciated, distended figures is archaic and angular, one feels that this use of the old style is intentional, because it appeared to the master more pious than that of the Renaissance.

Portrait painting is represented by Alonso Coello and Juan Pantoja de la Cruz, representatives of the style usually identified with the name of Bronzino. As


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in the case of the latter, their draughtsmanship is careful and delicate, the treatment of costume and ornament very detailed, and the colour of a pale, subtle grey. But while with Bronzino the men wear a sword and the women hold a fan, at the court of Philip II. no one had his portrait painted without a rosary. Thus even the portraits show that one is not in heathen Italy but in the land of religious struggles.

As Spain never offered sacrifice to the gods of Greece, she never had a real Renaissance. It is true that mythological paintings by Titian were placed in the gloomy Escorial, and that Spanish painters journeyed to Italy to complete their technical education. But no one painted a real antique subject. While the pupils of Raphael and Michaelangelo are heathens, contemporary Spaniards, although formerly pupils of the Italians, kept their faith pure and used Renaissance forms only to paint religious scenes: the tragic pathos of the passion scenes, the ascetic solitude of weather- beaten hermits, ecstatic visions, and profound dogmatic treatises. It is significant that they went almost exclusively to Venice, which had remained a bulwark of the church, and had been the first to proclaim the ideas of the Counter-reformation.

Juan Fernandez Navarete and Vincente Carducho, the leaders of the school of Madrid, indeed, use Italian forms; but Navarete, when he painted his Christ in Limbo, was inspired not by a Renaissance master, but by the great painter of the Counter-reformation,


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Tintoretto. In his History of the Carthusian Order Carducho created one of the monastic epics that Zur- baran at a later period composed.

Notwithstanding Justi’s investigations, the chief master of Toledo, Domenico Theodocopuli of Crete, deserves a new biographer. For the “pathological degeneration ” of El Greco seems an important symp- tom of the great religious fermentation which at that time had seized all minds. Pictures like his Purification 0} the Temple, in which he appears as a Venetian, express but little; although the theme seems in some wise related with the purification of the church at that time by Caraffa and Loyola. But in the work which introduced him to Spain, Christ Stripped of His Garments on Calvary, he has freed himself from Titian, and now seems a savage entering the world of art with impetuous primeval power. He displays a collection of herculean figures composed of real flesh and blood, of barbaric bone and marrow. The same quality gives his painting of the Holy Trinity a primeval, brutal grandeur. His picture in the church of San Tome in Toledo, in which the members of a knightly order solemnly attend the funeral of Count Orgaz, whose corpse is lowered into the grave by two saints, while Christ, Mary, martyrs, and angels hover in the air — this painting, in its abrupt union of actual with transcendental, already heralds the visionary painting of the seventeenth century. His later works are uncanny, ghostly pictures of exaggerated line and harsh colour; which


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seem to be executed in wax colours mingled with the mould of corpses. In all respects he seems a strange, titanic master; and not until more is known of his life will he stand revealed as an artist. His chief pupil is reputed to have been Luis Tristan, who painted night scenes with mysterious-looking hermits and ascetics doing penance. A harsh green light from above pulsates, as in the case of Tintoretto, through certain parts of the painting, while the remainder is lost in the gloom of the background.

Of the masters who laboured at Valencia, Vicente Juanes is traditionally reputed to have received his education in the school of Raphael. Although he has been called the Spanish Raphael, there is little of the Raphaelesque in his pictures of the Martyrdom of St. Stephen. The movements are hard and angular, the colours harsh and brusque; the heads, of a pro- nounced Jewish type, are painted without reference to any ideal of beauty. Francisco de Ribalta, who travelled no farther than northern Italy, was attracted by the aifmities of colour which he found there. But although influenced by Correggio’s light and shade, with the technique of the smiling Italian he painted gloomy Spanish subjects: cloistered figures in white hoods; Mary and John returning from the grave of the Lord; Luke and Mary seated in a lonely nocturnal landscape, wrapped in deep thought; and the En- tombment of Christ, likewise a night scene, with flickering


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stars and mighty figures of angels holding the pale body of the Redeemer.

In Seville, where Pedro Campaha,i the Nether- lander, had laboured, Luis de Vargas was the first to enter the paths of the cinquecento. But he also is no Renaissance master. It is unlike the cinquecento to introduce a heavenly vision into his Adoration of the Shepherds and to paint a goat and the straw with the naturalistic joy of a Ribera. In his principal work, the Genealogy of Christ in the cathedral of Seville, the figures are said to have been taken from Raphael, Correggio, and Vasari. It is all the more strange how he translates these masters into Spanish, and with the borrowed forms treats a dogmatic theme never painted by an Italian. Juan de las Ro6las, a pupil of Tintoretto at Venice and a clergyman by pro- fession, was the first to give the favourite subjects for Spanish devotion a classic form. The Mother of God hovering upon a crescent in the clouds, adored by a Jesuit in ecstatic devotion, is his principal theme. In his work the Death of St, Isidore earthly and heavenly are directly juxtaposed. Below is a representation of monks given with the exactitude of Zurbaran, above angels with palms, song-books, and flowers, fluttering through the luminous aether. Francisco Herrera is known outside of Spain by the great picture of the Louvre, St. Basil Dictating his Doctrine. His saints,

‘ This is the Spanish form of the name of Pieter de Kempeneer by which he is usually known. — Ed.


Ube Spanish School 467

with their flashing eyes and majestic gestures, are mighty as primeval kings.

The Spaniards of the sixteenth century assume a peculiar position. Technically they are pupils of the Italians. Like Pacheco and Cespedes, they reflect much over the aims of true art, and are concerned, like all others at that time, with beauty of line and noble composition. But the spirit which pervades their work is the spirit of Jesuitism, — the spiritual tendency to which the future belonged. Venice and Spain, the city of the Byzantines and the land of re- ligious struggles — these two powers, contrary to the will of the popes, encompassed the Counter-reformation. They reminded Rome that she was not only the city of antiquity but also the city of St. Peter. The movement which was now accomplished has been called the “ Hispanisation of the Catholic Church.’’


cy

Book III.— THE SEVENTEENTH AND EIGTEENTH CENTURIES

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Chapter I.— Italian Painting in the Seventeenth Century

I.— The Spirit of the Counter-Reformation

see Art in the Protestant Reformation and Counter-Reformation

The Gods in Exile, the title of a fanciful sketch by Heine, would also be an appropriate designation for this chapter. In Leo X’s day the gods of Olympus had taken possession of the Christian heaven. Men lived and moved in antiquity, to such an extent that the most sacred monuments of Christian religion gave place to new structures conceived in the antique spirit. In place of the ancient basilica of St. Peter a temple arose in antique proportions, "a Pantheon suspended in the air." The Vatican, the residence of the pope, was filled with the masterpieces of antique art. The purpose of a crusade to which he summoned the nations was not to recover the Holy Sepulchre; he hoped to find Greek codices in Jerusalem. In life also the spirit of Hellenism, the joyous sensuousness of the ancients reigned. Not the princes of the apostles, Peter and Paul, but the heathen philosophers Plato and Aristotle, were immortalised by Raphael as the rulers of spiritual life.

Now the reverse of the medal appeared. The German Reformation became more and more threatening, not only in Germany but also in England, the Netherlands, and France. Whole provinces were conquered by Protestantism; and even the soil of Italy was undermined. This had to be checked. The Roman church had to reform her life in such a manner as to deprive her opponents of cause for blame and to satisfy her own adherents. Not of her own accord but under compulsion by Venice and Spain, the decision was made. Since the man who himself gave the signal for the revulsion had mounted the Roman throne under the title of Paul IV., the ancient oaths of the Popes: “We promise and swear to encompass the reform of the church universal and of the Roman court,” was no longer regarded as a mere formula. The spirit of the Renaissance had not the power to rule the nations. The popes again recognised that Christianity was their only hold, the very reason for their existence. Repentant and with a sudden change, they returned to the Catholic ideal which the Renaissance had denied. Epicureanism was followed by fasting and castigation, the friends of paganism by the inquisitors.

The plan in the beginning was to conquer the hostile elements with iron and blood. The order of the Jesuits received the commission to watch over the mind in the sense of ancient Dominican theology. Just at that time the triumphant course of science had begun with the appearance of Copernicus, Galileo, Cardanus, Telesius, Campanella, and Giordano Bruno. Banishment, funeral pyres, and racks took care that the investigating thought should not lift its head too high. Poetry also submitted to the autocratic church. Torquato Tasso, the son of the Renaissance ended in a convent, holding dialogue with spiritual apparitions. No longer antique writers but Augustine and Thomas Aquinas dominated his thoughts.

Art, especially, seemed at first banished from the new system. As men had formerly regarded the works of antiquity with religious piety, they now considered them pagan idols. In so far as they were not destroyed or removed from public places, care was taken to change them in accordance with the Christian spirit. A statue of Minerva which stood before the Capitol received a cross instead of a spear, in order that it might signify Christian Rome. From the columns of Trajan and Antoninus the urns with the ashes of the two emperors were removed, and replaced by the statues of Peter and Paul, as an expression of the “triumph of Christianity over heathendom.'’

The works of the masters of the Renaissance were also subjected to a strict control, particularly as regards their nudity. Because its nudity seemed offensive, Michelangelo’s Last Judgment was bedecked with those rags which still deface it. The artists themselves became so prudish that they were trans- formed into penitentiary preachers. Ammanati, a Florentine sculptor of the time of Leo X., “after the mercy of God had opened his eyes/' begged the Grand Duke Ferdinand for permission by means of draperies to transform into Christian virtues the nude statues of gods which he had created for the garden of Pitti Palace thirty years before; and in 1582, “in bitterest repentance over the errors of his own youth," in an open letter to the Florentine artists he warned them “to desist from all portrayal of the nude, lest they offend God and give men a bad example."

Meanwhile the council of Trent had fixed orthodox doctrine as regards ecclesiastical pictures, and had assigned to the bishops the duty of seeing that it was strictly carried out. In 1564 Andrea Gilli da Fabriano wrote his Dialogo degli errori dei pittori, wherein he subjected the moral value of the frescoes of the Vatican to severe criticism. In his treatise De picturis et imaginihus sacris Molanus in 1570 further developed these unfavourable criticisms ; this was followed in 1585 by the Trattato della nohiliid della pitiura by Romano Alberti, and in 1751 by Gregorio Comanini's Figino. The Discorso intorno alle imagini sacre e projane, published in 1582 by Gabriele Paleotti, arch-bishop of Bologna, shows with especial clearness the art-hating, fanatical, and puritanic spirit which at first dominated the Counter-reformation.

But only in the beginning: for herein consists its great difference from iconoclastic Protestantism. This is the great thought which the Catholic church never forgot : at all times to treasure art as a mighty ally of religion. After the church had for a moment thought of throwing art into shackles, she immediately recog- nised what an invaluable propaganda had been lost. Instead of banishing art she made use of it: instead of subjugating it she began to employ it as an effective means of agitation, and confronted cold and sober Protestantism with the splendid pomp of the ancient church. The splendour of the Eternal City should have a dazzling and overpowering effect upon every one who trod the sacred soil. If art had formerly only served aristocrats of the spirit and the personal in- clinations of the popes, it must now conquer the masses, and be the enticing siren who should lead back the doubters into the bosom of the church. A nervous artistic activity suddenly began in all parts of Italy. Not only did modern Rome at that time receive the form which it has preserved until the present time but everywhere men builded, carved, and painted. But the quiet, cool, and solemn art of former days war incapable of solving the new problems. A strong stimulating potion had to be offered, and the strongest effects achieved. For the gorgeous or the crude, that which was comprehensible to the masses, alone could win them. Into all branches of art this new spirit enters.

If the architecture of the closing sixteenth century was reserved and cold, so that of the seventeenth is pompous, oppressive, and confusing. The latter does not attain effects by quiet beauty of line, but blinds the eye with the glittering splendour of material used, and to an even greater extent shocks the nerves, using music and incense as accessories. As if seized by wild frenzy the columns tower and twist. The interior, formerly evenly lighted, now seem to fade into the infinite. Here everything beams in brilliant splendour; there a mystic twilight spreads through gloomy chapels. Above, where formerly a flat ceiling rested, the heaven seems to open and angels carried on golden clouds storm about. If the pictures of the seventeenth century be considered in these surroundings the change in subject, form, and colour is at once understood.

As regards the subject-matter of painting, the change is this, that what the Renaissance painted most is now painted least, and what was once painted least is now painted most. The rarest subjects treated in the sixteenth century were pictures of martyrdoms. The Olympian joyfulness which pervaded the age disliked to linger over painful things. Christ had become a beautiful Olympian, Mary the queen of heaven. A time the conceptions of which were so Hellenic, did not wish to see its gods bleed and suffer. The council of Trent found the art of the Renaissance objectionable just because it did not adequately portray the self-sacrificing spirit of the martyrs. The true province of art was to move even the hardest heart by the presentation of the awful sufferings of the saints. As the Renaissance had praised the power of the human body to enjoy, so the Counter-reformation therefore glorified its power to suffer. Pictures of Christ crowned with thorns and of the Mater Dolorosa form the central feature, and the legends of the saints were searched for the most shocking deeds of blood. Poison, dagger, and cord, drawing, strangling, burning — all such subjects were represented. St. Andrew is nailed to the cross, St. Simon struck with a club, St. Stephen stoned, and St. Erasmus is disembowelled. The whole technique of the torture-chamber is revealed, and instruction is given in all the accessories of the Inquisition.

As well as the representation of suffering, in the sixteenth century all deformities had been timidly avoided. Of the many representations of dwarfs, idiots, blind men, lepers, and maniacs enumerated in Charcot and Richer’s Representation of Deformities and Sicknesses in Art, not a single one belongs to this age of joyful sensuality. In the seventeenth century, as in the days of Grunewald and the elder Holbein, sores, caries, lameness, blindness, and insanity are represented with joyful zest.

The representation of old age was also unpopular in the sixteenth century, and even saints like John, the desert preacher, had been transformed into radiant young men. Now aged prophets and hermits with shrivelled, starved bodies, flabby, leathery skin, and harsh weather-beaten forms appear in great numbers. There was no lack of models, for Paul IV., in order to show living examples of penitent asceticism, imported into Italy real hermits, who, as in the days of St. Jerome, inhabited the cliffs of Dalmatia.

That all these paintings are only busts or three- quarter figures is likewise characteristic. The sixteenth century in its search for rhythmic movement had pre- ferred the full figure. Now, since the chief emphasis lies in the ecstatic expression of the head, a bust suffices. These “ longing half-figures with raised eyes ” had appeared in all ages of convulsed religious life. In the days of Savonarola, Perugino was the first to use them: and when the German Reformation had thrown its shadow over Italy, Raphael came with his Cecilia and Titian with his Magdalen. In the pictures of the Counter-reformation the same feeling is expressed, but in a more abrupt and passionate manner. Re- pentance (as in case of Peter), inspired writings (as with the prophets), and castigation (St. Jerome) present ever varying motives.

The sixteenth century had treated principally antique subjects. Its pleasure-loving artists were more at- tracted by the joyful assembly of the gods of Greece than by the figures of Christianity: for in the former they could celebrate love and the radiant splendour of the nude. The Counter-reformation had, at least in its first stages, avoided everything antique. Domen- ichino even paints St. Jerome punished by the angel for his love of Cicero. But in spite of restriction to increase. On the contrary, instead of the healthy sensuality of the past a perverse and hysterical sen- suality appears. They had been too long accustomed to portray sensuality: the Venetians in their pictures of Venus, and Correggio in his lo sinking into blessedness. Similar subjects were still painted, only with Christian titles. What had formerly been called Venus was now the Magdalen, and lo was transformed into St. Theresa. Magdalen also displays the charms of her body and Theresa kisses with all the passion of which a woman is capable; but Magdalen’s nudity creates no offence, because she repents of her sins, and Theresa’s kisses are holy, because they are pressed not upon the lips of man but upon the feet of the Crucified One. It is a similar sensuality to that expressed in literature by Zinzendorf when he sings of the lance thrust and the wound in the side of Christ :

“ Du Seitenkringel, du tolles Dingel,
Ich fress und sauf mich voll.”

As formerly they had searched through classic authors, so now they searched through the Bible for erotic scenes; and what they found there was not as harmless as the joyous legends of the Hellenes, but such scenes as Lot and his daughters, the expulsion of Hagar, the two elders peeping at Susanna in the bath, or Herodias confounding by her dance the senses of old Herod. If Judith is represented with especial frequency as the murderess of Holofernes, the reason probably is that the thought was akin to the episode of Beatrice Cenci.

Other possibilities of smuggling in profane charms were offered by the legends of the saints. They painted Agnes, the maiden of thirteen years, who, because she would not marry a heathen, was brought into a house of prostitution; but her long hair was spread over her body like a mantle and angels brought her a garment. They painted Christina beaten by her father, and Apollonia whose teeth were torn out. Even more popular is the martyrdom of Agatha because in it sensuality and cruelty are even more closely related.

The possibility of returning to antique subjects was created by first representing only such as were consistent with the sentiment of the Counter-reforma- tion. Such subjects were presented in antique martyr- doms: the flaying of Marsyas, Prometheus bound. Dido upon the funeral pyre, Cato stabbing himself, and Seneca opening an artery in the bath; in longing subjects with raised glance, like Lucretiaor Cleopatra; in antique hermits like Diogenes, or in examples of filial piety, as Cimon in prison comforted by his daughter Pera.

Finally, an entirely new domain of painting was opened to the seventeenth century in its pictures of visions. In this domain also the religious art of the past had taken the initial steps. Giotto had painted St. Francis receiving the stigmata; for the artist of the age of Savonarola the apparition of Mary to St. Bernard was of great importance; and Raphael in later life painted his Sistine Madonna and the Transfiguration. But in all of these works the taste of the Counter- reformation for the miraculous was not sufficiently emphasised, and the Holy Conversations of an earlier period were even less satisfactory in their unaffected simplicity. For the blessing of having visions is only conceived in a condition of religious ecstasy; the saint cannot be in repose, but must be lost in longing fervour and heavenly joy. The oppressive character of the sentiment is heightened when no witnesses are present, and Mary mystically floats into the cell of the lonely monk.

The same transformation as in the subjects may be noted in the forms. Under the overpowering influence of the antique, the late Renaissance admitted only of universal and idealised forms. Everything individual was considered vulgar, and in consequence portrait painting, which is compelled to follow nature, was only tolerated as a subordinate branch. “ No great and extraordinary painter,'’ it was said, '‘was ever a portraitist; for such an artist is enabled by judgment and acquired habit to improve upon nature. In portraiture, however, he must confine himself to the model whether it be good or bad, with sacrifice of his observation and selection; which no one would like to do who has accustomed his mind and his eye to good forms and proportions." In abrupt contrast to these aesthetics, the seventeenth century saw the rise of a series of mighty portrait-painters: Velasquez, Frans Hals, and Rembrandt. Religious art itself again becomes portrait-painting, and crude fidelity to nature takes the place of general beauty. The supernatural has all the more wonderful effect when it towers in tangible reality in the material world. For the saints they sought poor old peasants with overworked figures and weather-beaten faces. The pictures of martyr- doms, formerly rhythmic compositions of swinging motion, are depicted with a merciless, brutal, butcher- like reality. In paintings of visions all the external manifestations of epilepsy and hysteria are rendered with naturalistic truth. Indeed, the conception of a “grand style” is strange to this age. While the sixteenth century had eliminated all accessories in order to attain a monumental effect, the seventeenth in its religious paintings heaps up fruits, birds, fishes, goats, cows, bowls, and bundles of straw — everything calculated to occupy the eye of the people — into veritable examples of still life. The desire to see such things was so great that when Caravaggio introduced a water bottle and a flower vase into one of his first paintings he awakened a storm of enthusiasm. Por- trait-figures in contemporary costume, which the Renaissance had banished from historical compositions, are again introduced; just as in the quattrocento, only that the pictorial view of the seventeenth century is exactly the opposite of that of the fifteenth.

As the latter was the age of detailed execution and miniature painting, so the seventeenth is that of a broad bravura. The masters take pleasure in mixing fat, rich colours, in applying them with broad brush, and in arranging artistic details into a harmonious whole. The later cinquecento, which only appealed to the refined eye, had placed the principal weight upon the language of line. The seventeenth, which appeals to gloomy sentiment and found in music the greatest stimulant to awaken it, at the same time discovered the power of colour to strike responsive emotional chords. The effect of its pictures depends not upon lines but upon blending masses of colour; not upon rhythmic but upon pictorial composition, held together by the treatment of light, and formed in accordance with the masses of light and shade.

II.— Religious Painting

Naturally, such revolutions are not suddenly ac- complished. The brothers Carracci, who as old men survive into the new century, belong also as artists more to the cinquecento than to the Baroque period. It is true that in their subjects the new spirit of the age is expressed; for they painted martyrdoms, visions, and ecstacies. At the same time, however, they are partisans of the antique, and completely under the influence of a worldly and mythological spirit. They extol Juno as much as Mary, and Jupiter as much as Christ. And it is especially to be noted that in the


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treatment of the new religious subjects they use the traditional forms of the cinquecento.

At the appearance of the Carracci the problem was to prepare the technical foundation for a new develop- ment of art.

“Because the arts of design from day to day are losing mo.e of their original beauty, and on account of the lack of a good school are sinking into increasing rudeness, we propose the foundation of an academy over which men, able and experienced in their art, shall pre- side; who shall exhibit to the students the most important master- pieces of Rome, in order that every one, in accordance with his talent, may imitate them/’

Such is the language of the Bull of Sixtus V. in 1593, authorising the foundation of the Academy of St. Luke; b(it the Carracci had at an earlier period followed the same path. They pointed out that the age of the Mannerists had been an epoch of super- ficial and rapid painting. In order to attain excel- lency like that of the classic painters, the student must in serious and conscientious labour abstract from the creation of the past great epochs what was most suitable to learn and teach, extract it and render it useful for the present. In order to accomplish this theory they founded the Academy of Bologna, that Accademia degli Incamminati (“of those upon the right road ”) to which all the young people from Italy soon flocked. A rich collection of plaster casts, medals, and drawings of celebrated masters was collected as the materials of study, and a library of aesthetic books was acquired. The artistic programme


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of the Academy is well stated in the sonnet which Agostino Carracci dedicated to the Bolognese painter Niccolo deir Abbate:

“ Chi farsi un bon pittor cerca e desia,

II disegno di Roma habbia alio mano,

La mossa coll’ umbrar Veneziano E il degno colorir di Lombardia,

Di Michel Angiol la terribil via,

II vero natural di Tiziano,

Del Correggio lo stil puro e sovrano E di un Raffael la giusta simetria.”

The Carracci are not quite as eclectic as would ap- pear from this sonnet. Although they regarded the present as an age of decline, they could not themselves escape the change of times. It therefore happens that we find in their works many things which they should in theory have avoided, because they were entirely out of harmony with the classic profession of faith. They often attempted strong effects of light and colour and a powerful realism. There are etchings by them which have more in common with Tiepolo than with the cinquecento. Even the celebrated work upon which the three brothers proved their power, the cycle of frescoes in the Farnese Palace, is not mere imitation. The different elements are indeed harmoniously united. The antique, the Farnesina, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the Villa Maser — everything is carefully assimilated with conscious eclecticism. For the stories of the gods on the ceilings Raphael’s style rather than Giulio Romano’s was de- terminative. The mighty figures of Hermes supporting


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the frieze, the giants who hold the medallions of the ceilings, are familiar frc^ the Sistine Chapel; and the mural decorations are antique statues translated into painting. But the masks, the shells, and the puffed draperies are in no wise classic but quite Baroque. However much they endeavour to adopt only the classic, they were nevertheless under the influence of the exaggerated, bombastic feeling of form which dominated their time, and they created new things in unconsciously following this modern taste.

They have, therefore, in the history of art a strange double position: they are at the same time Baroque painters and cinquecentists, heralds and stragglers. ‘Often, without their own knowledge, the new spirit breaks through the traditional scheme; but more often their work is purely collected activity and learned retrospection. They laboured in accordance with rules and precepts derived from the past epoch, and in the application of these aesthetic principles to the new subjects which the seventeenth century demanded, the result was often a mixture without character. For in art form and content are identical. As little as the antique artist could have expressed the pathos of the Pergamenes in forms of Praxiteles, so little could the new fermenting wine of the Baroque be kept in the old bottles of the cinquecento. Their pictures of martyrdoms give the impression of anatomical demon- strations because over all the scenes, even the most cruel, the marble coldness of classicism lies. The


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half-figures in which they depict religious devotion and ecstacy have a smooth, academic effect. As Laocoon was the model of their martyrdoms, so Niobe, the Mater Dolorosa of antiquity who just at that time had been resurrected, became the prototype of their emotional figures. Whether the effect was sadness or ecstacy, pain or blessedness, the foundation was always the same normal academic head. The works of the Carracci are important as the first in which there were border conflicts between the new sentiment and the old language of form. But the spirit of the Baroque and aesthetics of the cinquecento, the convulsed sentiment of the Counter-reformation and the serene beauty of the antique, could not be united into a harmonious whole.

Not until the works of their successors did the naturalistic elements become more prominent. One would imagine that a pupil of Raphael had painted the celebrated Aurora of the Palazzo Rospigliosi in Rome, so well has Guido Reni succeeded in transport- ing himself into the spirit of the past; so classic are the outlines of the light hovering figures; so truly cinque- centist is the colour in its bright and pleasing harmony. But the same master who wears the garb of the class- icists with such surety has also created works in which the antique nobility of form is quite supplanted by the naturalistic power, the pathos, and the sentimentality of the Baroque. To these belong the great picture of the Berlin Museum in which he depicts with powerful naturalism the visit of the hermit Antony to the hermit


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Paul. Here also belong certain presentations of the Pieta and the Assumption, a series of martyrdoms (especially the Crucifixion of Peter, in which he created the model for such subjects), and those numerous half- figures with eyes cast heavenwards, who illustrate, especially in their theatrical superficiality, the forced, artificial character of this new ecclesiasticism.

A greater realistic power, a certain primeval and coarse element appear in the works of Domenichino. While Guido sometimes became soft and theatrical, Domenichino always seems as a clumsy and crude and honest fellow. In his Diana' s Hunt, for example, there is no academic emptiness; everything is of virile harshness and bronze-like precision. In his Death of St. Jerome he paints the decay of an aged body with astonishing bravura. How time brought truth to light and the pure teaching of Christianity triumphed over the superstition of the Renaissance, is the subject of his powerful ceiling frescoes of the Palazzo Costagneti at Rome.

As regards colour Francesco Barbieri, called Guercino, is the most important master of the school. His frescoes in the Villa Ludovisi are characterised by bold movement and powerful light effects; his Burial of Petronilla by fine colour and a naturalistic power. All the bonds which united the art of the Carracci with the Renaissance are here torn asunder; Guido, as well as Domenichino and Guercino, already stood under the influence of the man who had in the meanwhile an-


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nounced, far more abruptly than the Carracci, the ideal of the new time — Caravaggio. The life history of this uomo fantastico e besiiale would yield a fine criminal romance. He was born at Caravaggio near Bergamo, where Lotto, the first master of the Counter-reforma- tion, passed the happiest years of his life. His father was a stone-mason, and as his assistant the son went to Milan and for four years earned a livelihood at his father’s trade. But on a certain day he stabbed a work- man and fled, loaded with the curse of blood, to Venice, where Tintoretto, the second master of the Counter- reformation, crossed his horizon. In the meanwhile he had, without having visited an academy, learned how to use brush and colours, and was employed at Rome by the Cavaliere d’ Arpino, half as an assistant, half as a servant. Here he was discovered by the painter and art-dealer Prospero, who ordered pictures from him. One of these pictures was bought by Cardinal del Monte, who conceived an interest in the young man. Caravaggio seemed to be in a safe haven; for the different churches ordered altar-pieces from him, and even the pope sat to him for a portrait. But the stone- mason could not be transformed to a well mannered academician. With wild comrades he wandered about in taverns, disputing and quarrelling, and always ready to plunge his dagger into any one who did not share his opinion. An act of this kind made him impossible at Rome and he wandered like a nomad from village to village, finally landing at Naples. Here, too, he re-


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ceived commissions and the past was forgotten. But the demon again seized him. As the Cavaliere d’ Ar- pino had declined to fight a duel with him, a mason’s son, Caravaggio resolved to become a knight of Malta in order that he might as a nobleman compel his rival to give him satisfaction. He therefore went to Malta and accomplished his purpose. For the portrait of the grand master of the order, which to-day hangs in the Louvre, he received the cross of Malta and a present of a gold chain and two slaves. In gratitude for these favours he wounded one of the knights and was thrown into prison, but soon escaped into Sicily where he painted large altar-pieces in Syracuse, Messina, and Palermo. Not until his return to Naples did fate overtake him. The knights of Malta had hired rulfians who one evening waylaid him; blow followed blow, and, severely wounded, he determined to escape to Rome in a boat; for at the intercession of a cardinal the pope had assured him of pardon. But the bleeding man excited suspicion. He was held by a coastguard and placed under arrest, until his identity was proven. When he returned to the shore his boat had been stolen by brigands. Robbed of his possessions exhausted and dying, he dragged himself as far as Porto d’ Ercole, where he perished from his wounds at forty years of age.

Think for a moment of the artists’ biographies of an earlier day. At the beginning of the sixteenth century when Castiglione wrote his Cortegiano, that antique gravitas which he designates as characteristic of a


CARAVAGGIO


THE FALSE PLAYERS

Dresden Gallery


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perfect cavalier, was characteristic also of painters. They wandered upon the heights of life and were accustomed to associate with princes as with equals. This aristocratic generation was followed in the second half of the century by a generation of scholars. Their portraits resemble professors; they associated with scholars and poets, themselves wrote poems and books upon archaeology, aesthetics, and the history of art; they arranged conferences in which lectures were given on the true aims of art. In Bologna, the seat of an ancient university, this learned art experienced its last after-flower; then the reaction came.

From the people themselves the reaction against the libertinism of the church issued. Not until pressed by the people did the church itself proceed to reforms. So also in the days of Roger van der Weyden, the peo- ple had furnished the first painters of the reaction. The aristocrats were succeeded by plebeians, the thinkers by men of nature, who could wield only the brush but not the pen. A new class, in immediate touch with nature but separated from the formalities of the academies, entered the development of art. They are all from the people, one of them the son of a mason, another of a day labourer. Not one of them visited an academy or received learned instruction; nor did they grow up in large cities, where the sight of works of art at an early period guides the taste into certain directions. They came from the country or from cities like Naples, which had as yet played no part in the artistic develop-


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ment of the past. They were thus lacking in the ad- vantages connected with development from a long line of ancestors. Their art is sturdy, wholesome, and occasionally crude. A cultivated taste schooled by study of the old masters like that of the Carracci could only feel indignation over this brutal crudity, this clumsy copying of nature. But such plebeians were necessary in order to break the ban of tradition. As at the time of the Revolution the guillotines had to be erected in order that the Third Estate should come to its own, so this new plebeian race of artists could only establish itself by force, poison, and the dagger. As in Castagno’s days, they are all wild comrades whose names belong quite as much in the gallery of great rogues as in that of great painters.

Caravaggio’s appearance is like the sudden irruption of some primeval force of nature. He comes from the country with the confidence of a peasant who fears nothing, and has powerful elbows to push everything aside that stands in this way. With the same barbaric abruptness as Courbet in our own days, he struggles against the academies and declares that nature should be the only teacher. To her he wishes to owe every- thing, nothing to art. The more wrinkles his model has the better he is pleased. Porters and beggars, strumpets and gypsies are used in his religious pictures, and he takes pleasure in callous hands, torn rags, and dirty feet. In harsh contrast to the Renaissance, which had recognised only the distinguished, the pie-


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beian Caravaggio will acknowledge the existence of beauty only among the lower classes, and sets himself up only as the democratic painter who raised the lowest classes to a place of honour. His St. Matthew in the Berlin Gallery is a crude proletarian of uncouth great- ness. In his Death of Mary in the Louvre, he paints the corpse of a drowned person with swollen body and clumsy feet, distended in the cramp of death. In his pictures of martyrdoms like that of Sebastian or his Christ Crowned with Thorns, he shows no beautiful youth, but a suffering man whose body is bent with agony. In a picture of the Madonna at Loreto a pilgrim with a torn, greasy cap in his hand kneels before her, and another shows his swollen footsoles, besmeared by the dust of the streets.

On account of this “apish imitation of misshapen na- ture” Agostino Carracci caricatured him as a hairy wild man, with a dwarf at his side and an ape upon his knee; Baglione denounced him as the Antichrist of paint- ing and the destroyer of art. But history can only extol him as the man who was the first to plant himself firmly upon the new domain of the new century. While with the Carracci, as with the Mannerists of the cinquecento, rule still prevails, here a powerful personality speaks. None of the Eclectics could have painted a work of such power and grandeur as Caravaggio’s Entombment in the Vatican Gallery. He was possessed of enormous ability, and his paintings are dashed off with wild bravura. Even the illumination heightens the power-


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ful effect. Although he at first preferred the golden tone of Venice, he later painted his altar-pieces as gloomy as if the light had fallen from above into a cellar, or as if the figures were moving in a dungeon. Some parts are harshly and sharply illumined, others are lost in the gloom of the background. Although Tintoretto had previously used similar effects, it is perhaps no accident that the man who often sat in gloomy prison cells further developed this “cellar- window style.” And as the church had to yield to the claims of the people so the plebeian Caravaggio triumphed over the distinguished academicians. Under his influence Guido, Domenichino, and Guercino de- veloped from pupils of the Carracci into naturalists. He was followed also by Luca Giordano whose pictures of martyrdoms and those half-figures of aged, weather- beaten saints are to be found in all European galleries. Finally, the “democratic painter” was followed by those who proceeded from religious to folk pictures.

III.— The Genre Picture

The Italians of the sixteenth century did not further develop the genre elements in the works of the quattrocento. To paint scenes from daily life, or to give by means of pleasing accessories a genre trend to relig- ious paintings, was not in the spirit of a time for which only that which was noble and significant had value.

But in the Netherlands, the land of kirmesses, the pleasure in such things was so great that, even in this


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epoch of monumental conceptions, a few progressed along the paths which Quentin Massys had trod with his Money Changers. All the burlesque scenes which Lucas van der Leyden and the Little Masters of Germany had treated in their line-engravings found a place in painting. As it was necessary to appear so solemn and measured in religious pictures, they took pleasure in relating in such little works real, crude, and vulgar things.

The little paintings of Jan van Hemessen are there- fore very drastic. He conducts the beholder into public houses where men drink with slovenly women, absolving his conscience by adding the inscription The Prodigal Son by way of a moral. Cornelis Massys, the son of Quentin, relates farces such as in our own day Schroedter and Hasenclever painted; for example, a driver who has allowed women to mount his waggon, and who while courting one is robbed by another.

Pieter Aertsen approached genre painting from an- other side. Just because the religious painting of the sixteenth century excluded still-life from its works, a reaction had soon to occur. For there were also painters who took more pleasure in these gay acces- sories than in biblical figures. Aertsen’s works show how still-life was gradually emancipated. He painted fruits, vegetables, fish and game, whole kitchens with polished pewter mortars shining and yellow copper dishes, with plates and beer glasses, jugs and straw baskets. In this scenery he places the proper figures,


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market-women, cooks, and kitchen boys. No episode is related; his pictures are large still-life with human figures, rendered without witticisms or humour, but, with simple objectivity and powerful colour. In this sense — because he placed emphasis not upon anecdotes but upon the pictorial — he signifies an important step in the history of genre painting, and bears the same relation to his predecessors as in our own day Ribot or Leibel to painter-novelists like Knaus and Vautier.

Similar kitchen and market subjects were painted by his pupil Joachim Beuckelaer, who took especial delight in the jolly life of the Amsterdam fish market. He conceived even the Exposure of Christ as a market subject with hucksters, vegetables, and cakes, with maids and peasants who are much more interested in apples and cabbage heads than in the Martyred One.

On the basis of these varied achievements Pieter Brueghel wrote the chronicle of his day. Like all the Netherlanders of the later sixteenth century he made the journey to Italy. He did not linger before the pictures of the great masters but he wandered about in nature and. among the people. Like Durer in his wan- derings. he made a halt everywhere that a pretty land- scape motive charmed him; made drawings of the cliffs of the Alps with the same simplicity as he studied the harbour of Messina ;and rejoiced in the gay life of the Italian people. Upon his return home he found in the daily life of the north as much that was pictorial as in that of the south. His drawings especially make a curi-


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ously modern impression. They represent the simplest things : a peasant resting on a tree-stump on the way to market, horses dragging a heavy cart over a dusty road, or a tired woodcutter carrying an axe under his arm on the road home. There are also studies of heads which in their simple and powerful realism might have been painted to-day instead of three hundred years ago.

In his pictures such simplicity was not possible, because in them, according to the conception of the day, extensive apparatus and humorous episodes were necessary. Brueghel only used his delightful studies as material for more extensive subjects.

At first the Bible had to yield the subjects. He paints for example a Flemish village in winter time. A division of cavalry, formed in strict conformance with military tactics into a main body and rear-guard, approaches from the road; the foremost have already dismounted and proceed to look for quarters. Men and women plunge into the street calling their children; others bolt the house doors: for these troops have received command to execute the massacre of the innocents at Bethlehem. Or a gay crowd, on foot, in waggons, and on horseback, surges along a road towards a hill — artisans and shopkeepers, clergymen and sol- diers, women and children; the whole city is on its feet, for an execution cannot be seen every day. And this picture represents the Crucifixion! Another, a tax-collector’s office with Flemish burghers paying

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their taxes, is supposed to represent the scene of Joseph and Mary coming to pay their taxes at Nazareth.

To other paintings he gives an allegorical mask; a religious morning service he calls Faith, a group of poor people chewing with their mouths full, Charity, or a regular court session with advocate, judges, and public. Justice. Sometimes he develops pictures, as did Hogarth later, into moral sermons and introduces entire life scenes of a warning kind. The alchemist who has staked everything upon his invention ends with his wife and children in the poor-house, the quack who deceives people is thrown into prison; and the Naples picture of the blind men groping through the landscape is labelled with the biblical quotation: “If the blind lead the blind, shall they not both fall into the ditch?’'

When, as an exception, he dispenses with biblical and allegorical titles, the multitudinous accumulation of comic traits must atone for the lacking moral. Kirmesses with numberless figures, skating scenes, and similar subjects, which can be related in a broad and detailed manner — such is the content of these works. His Vienna picture, the Struggle of Carnival and Lent, is a treatise upon all nonsense that can be conceived in the carnival; his Peasant's Wedding a treatise on intemperance. In his ice scenes all ludicrous episodes are narrated which could possibly occur in skating; or he heightens the comic effect by making the peasants bestial in their hideousness.

In this regard Brueghel is a true son of the sixteenth


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century: an age which was accustomed to see nothing but gods and heroes could not conceive of the poetry of actuality. Daily life must be brought into humorous contrast with the ideal; for the opinion was that nature could not be represented because she was too ugly. For this doctrine Brueghel furnished the proofs by contrasting with the gallery of beauty presented by the idealists his gallery of ugliness.

It was impossible for genre painting to enter other paths until the art of the seventeenth century had broken with the doctrine of the ugliness of nature and had substituted for idealised saints men of flesh and blood. Human beings good enough to don the gar- ments of saints were also beautiful enough to be painted in their own clothes: no longer as caricatured louts and heroes of ludicrous anecdotes, but with seriousness and objectivity. So Caravaggio, the first great natur- alist, became also the first great painter of the people. By selecting, as did Courbet in our own day, the life-size scale for presentation, he removed the last hindrance to the treatment of such subjects. Genre painting thus took its place as an equally justified branch beside religious painting.

To Caravaggio’s early period belongs the lovely blond maiden of the Liechtenstein Gallery listening so dreamily to the tones of her lute. Later the golden gleaming colour was replaced in such pictures also by the gloomy light of a cellar, and the figures became more primeval and wilder. He passed his time in obscure


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taverns with lansquenets, gypsies, and women; and these people, whose society he preferred, are also the heroes of his paintings. For Cardinal del Monte he painted the gypsy Fortune Teller (now in the Gallery of the Capitol) and the False Players of the Sciarra Gallery, another version of which is at Dresden. In still another picture he represented a company of people making music. With such scenes a great new domain was opened to the following painters.

Among P'renchmen he was followed by Jean de Boulogne, called le Valentin, who came when quite young to Rome. His subjects are lansquenets quarrel- ing over dice or making music with the women in taverns. Even when he now and then painted biblical themes like the Innocence of Susanna or the Judgment of Solomon, he treated them in the crude naturalistic style of genre painting. Among the Flemings belong- ing to this group are Theodor Rombouts, who painted companies of singers and card-players in life-size figures, and among the Dutch Gerhard Honthorst, who varied the “cellar-window” style of Caravaggio by the addition of candle-light. Michelangelo Cerquozzi and Antonio Tempesta progressed from genr6 to hunt- ing pieces, which in a century of great wars found a thankful public. Benedetto Castiglione added shep- herd scenes with goats, sheep, horses, and dogs. Unlike the majestic sixteenth century which had only recog- nised one variety of historical painting, the seventeenth witnessed the development of all other branches.


IV.— The Landscape

SOI

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The cinquecento held the same opinion of landscape painting as Winckelmann. An age which con- sidered only the mighty forms of the nude human body beautiful had no sense for life in nature. Even among the Venetians no one followed the path indicated by Titian; not until the seventeenth century, when the bond of the antique had been broken, did landscape painting awaken to new life.

Like Caravaggio, Salvator Rosa, the Neapolitan, was a wild and restless spirit. A fugitive from a seminary of priests, he wandered as a lute-player and a serenader through the taverns of Naples. Then he began to paint; and, without having even seen an academy, he wandered with portfolio and colour-box about the neighbourhood of the city; roamed through the wilder- ness of the Abruzzi, the Capitanata, Apulia, the Basili- cata, and Calabria, making drawings of all points con- nected with historical events : the wild cliffs of the Cau- dine Forks where the Roman army surrendered to the mercy of the victor; the marshy plains of the Volturno where Hannibaks soldiers wasted away stricken with fever; the jagged summits of Monte Cavo with the fallen cliff of Otranto which the Turks destroyed in 1480. Falling into the hands of robbers, he continued his roamings partly as a prisoner, partly for the pleasure he took in the bandit’s life.

As an old man he looked back upon the adventures of his youth as upon a wild romance. The brigand became a grand seigneur, the landscape painter a historical painter. He painted battles and combats of cavalry, historical pictures like the Conspiracy of Catiline, ghostly and fantastic subjects, like the Ghost of Samuel appearing to Saul; in clever etchings he seized upon scenes from popular and military life, and designed those weird landscapes peopled by centaurs, sea nymphs, and sea monsters, which are so strongly reminiscent of the greatest fantastic painter of our own day, Bocklin. The greatest number of his pictures in the galleries are landscapes; and, as in the etchings, here also he has points of contact with Bocklin and reminds us of the youthful works of Lessing and Blechens. His favourite subjects are not the serene majesty of the South, but romantic cliff walls and jagged mountain tops, the crumbling world of ruins of the Abruzzi. He does not see nature in the joyful sunlight; but envelopes the heavens with mighty clouds or leads us into the silence of mountainous deserts. Ruins and weather-beaten trees start upwards ; mighty oaks are swept by the tempest, and threatening storms gather over gloomy chasms. The leaden miasma of malaria hovers over the withered earth, or lightning strikes down from black clouds; a gloomy poetry of solitude, something passionate and impetuous, pervades all his works. In this respect also he resembles the German romanticists of 1830: by making the figures a commentary of the sentiment. As in the pictures of Lessing, monks and nuns, knights and ladies re-echo the elegiac sentiment of the landscape, so adventurers, bandits, and mercenaries are the only objects which people Salvator’s gloomy world.

Salvator Rosa is an isolated instance of roman- ticism in the seventeenth century. With him alone, the Neapolitan, a wild, passionate fire reigns, with all others classic repose. He alone chooses South Italian motives; all the others depict Rome. The reason for this was not only the fact that Rome was the centre of artistic activity, but also because the plastic appear- ance of the Roman landscape was in harmony with contemporary taste. An epoch in which the great historical painters stood in the foreground, could find no sense in the true charms of a landscape. The noble lines and plastic forms which painters sought could best be found in Rome. The Alban mountains with their lonely seas and distant perspectives, the Cam- pagna with its mighty ruins and solemn, monotonous mountain ranges-— -such is the content of the heroic landscape painted at the beginning of the seventeenth century.

Even the Carracci, in some of their works, made concessions to the landscape tendencies of the century. Learned scholars in their historical paintings, they here feel themselves creators. In their landscapes an intangible and solemn repose seems to rest over nature. Albano’s works have an idyllic and arcadian effect: green mountains with majestic trees and shady arbours, peopled by dainty cupids. A distinguished gentleman


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living with his mistress in the country, he makes the impression of the Rococo master gone astray into the Baroque period.

The Carracci, as well as Albano, would hardly have painted these things if foreign artists had not opened their eyes. These strangers, who had often starved for years before they entered upon their pilgrimage to the South, were, when they had reached the land of their longing, far more receptive for the beauty of the Eter- nal City than the natives. The dawn of modern land- scape painting approaches.

Apart from others, a genius by himself, stands Velasquez. For him there exists neither romanticism nor idealism, neither the elegy of ruins nor majestic line. In Rome as in Spain, he sought only the cool green, white, and grev harmony of colours to which his eye was accustomed. A half-wild garden, a white shimmering piece of architecture, a couple of people, and some marble figures are the elements of his Roman land- scapes. As he was too distant from the sentiment of the epoch, Velasquez’s Italian stay passed away without an echo. Far more important were the impulses which owed their origin to a Netherlander and a Frenchman: Paul Bril and Nicolas Poussin.

Bril, whose gay and kaleidoscopic pictures often appear in the galleries, was at the same time a fresco painter in the grand style. That he found opportunity to paint such frescoes in adornment of the walls of a church is characteristic of the trend towards landscape


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during this period. Through painted halls of columns one looks upon impressive hills, by which distant perspectives the narrow chapels are changed into a laughing world. Thus in church frescoes modern landscape painting created its first monumental achievements.

Poussin is called a “primitive” by his countrymen, the French; and although the figures of his paintings reveal him as a cool composer, he looked upon nature with the eye of a primitive — a kind of Mantegna of the seventeenth century, at the same time a scholar and realist. In the midst of the Baroque period, from the ruins of the antique world he created painting anew from the very foundations. In a convulsed epoch he alone maintained classic repose; in an age in which painting was pictorial he was ‘Te peintre le plus sculp- teur qui fut jamais.” His youth was passed in bitter poverty, and when he at last trod the land of his dreams he could never again part from the solemn Roman landscape. His life passed as simply as that ^ of an Arcadian shepherd. In the day he laboured in his workshop upon the hill of Santa Trinita de’ Monti^ whence he could enjoy a wide view over the Campagna. At eventide he roamed with scholars and poets in the environs of the Eternal City; filled his mind with her landscape; brooded in the garden of the Villa Borghese over the primeval past; and made sketches of those gigantic trees which in his pictures rear their heads so majestically towards heaven. In his work there is


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nothing intimate, nothing homelike. Nature, as he depicts her, is a purely plastic, apparently soulless world. H^ees only forms and lines; gazes upon the outlines of a tree with the same eyes as does a sculptor upon the silhouette of a statue. But the grandeur of his line is such that it alone inspires his landscapes with a solemn sentiment. He created a world free from everything trivial and insignificant. These great, noble mountain ranges, these mighty trees and crystal seas are combined with simple antique buildings in com- positions of classic rhythm. The figures also are attuned ' with the elements of nature to one great accord. Many of his works, like the Prometheus of the Louvre, were probably inspirations for young Bocklin.

His pupil and brother-in-law, Gaspard Dughet, added nothing new. Although his landscapes with scenes from the lives of Elijah and Elisha in the church of San Martino ai Monti rank with those of Bril as the most important religious frescoes of the century, they reveal only the form of Poussin without his spirit. Even when he paints those storms to which his chief celebrity is due, he lacks the great and sustained har- mony of his master.

The painter who followed him, on the other hand, has something new to offer. After artists had painted the permanent character, the firm lines, and the eternal repose of nature, they had yet to learn to express the changeable, the transient, and the evanescent effects of light. The rhythm of form and poetry of line had


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also to be combined with the sentiment of light. The decisive steps in just this path had to be taken at the beginning of the sixteenth century by artists like Grunewald and Altdorfer. Gerard David’s picture of Christ’s Prayer upon the Mount of Olives is pervaded by a subdued bluish-white moonlight, and in another picture, Christ taken Prisoner, he painted the effects of torchlight. Among the Italians Giorgione had already interpreted lamplight, painted the lightning flashing in the night, and the fiery glow of the sun pour- ing his light over the earth. Many of Titian’s, Sal- vator’s, and Tintoretto’s pictures are lighted by the beams of evening red and moonlight. But classicism had interrupted this development, and it was reserved for the seventeenth century to enter upon the heritage of the earlier masters. As Poussin, the master of line, can only be conceived as a Frenchman, so Elsheimer in his entire being appears a German. A pupil of Grunewald’s in the third generation, he was called to become the first great Stimmungsmaler^ of the seven- teenth century, who opposed the power of colour tone to the clear elasticity of form. In his pictures the robust and powerful light and shade effects of Cara- vaggio are clarified into a poetic tenderness.

It is true that Elsheimer did not paint pure land-

» The nearest approach to the translation of this significant word is a “ painter of moods,” It is applied to those artists who use the landscape or some other subject as a means of expressing their own poetic sentiment, as was done in the nineteenth century by the painters of the Barbizon school.— Ed.


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scapes; for he peoples them with biblical figures. But the relation of the figures to the landscape is different than with earlier masters. Their art was a species of historical painting. They found in the Bible scenes enacted in a landscape, and sought in the neighbour- hood of Rome the natural elements needed for the completion of such narratives. Elsheimer’s works originated through a different psychological process. What he first sees is the sentiment of nature, and then he peoples her with suitable beings. The senti- ment of landscape produces the subject of the picture.

Whole days he lay, as Sandrart relates, in thoughtful contemplation under beautiful trees, and he became so thoroughly imbued with the sense of their forms that he could see them as clearly with closed as with open eyes. This serene and dreamy observation of nature pervades all his pictures. He paints the vicinity of Rome with its silent mountain ranges, its noble groups of trees, and idyllic valleys. But his observation is not confined to the solemn grandeur of its lines. At one time the light of noon, at another soft dawn, the weary evening red or pale moonlight spreads over the earth. Indeed, he often approaches the problem of the “double light.” Silver stars twinkle, houses burn, and pine torches smoke; or the light of the camp-fire quivers in flaming red through the night. The Flight into Egypt especially gave occasion for variations like those given at a later period by Domenico Tiepolo. He painted it innumerable times under all illuminations.


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In a picture of the Dresden Gallery, the full noonday sunlight spreads over the scene; in that of the Munich Pinakothek it is night: in the foreground Joseph with a gleaming torch walks near Mary, while in the back- ground shepherds sit under mighty trees around the fire. From the sky the moon in serene splendour pours down her mild, silver light upon the earth.

Between Poussin the Frenchman and Elsheimer the German stands one who is at the same time a mas- ter of line and a painter of light, — a Lorrainer, Claude Gelee. With Poussin he shares the feeling for the majestic and the opinion that the landscape should be the scene of an historical event or the dwelling-place of gods and heroes. From the standpoint of line alone, all his works are variations of a single theme. In the foreground a mighty group of trees or a temple is pushed forward in order to carry the eye into the distance, and in the background a classic row of hills bounds the scene. These elements which he always repeats hardly change their position. But the light which vibrates among them is different at every hour of the day. And as Elsheimer always repeated the Flight into Egypt, Hokusai painted a hundred views of the mountain Fuji, and Claude Monet twelve times the same haystack, so also Claude Lorrain could all his life long depict the same temples and groups of trees, but it was each time a different picture. After Sal- vator had painted the struggle and the devastating effects of the elements, Poussin the rigid, linear beauty


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of nature, and Elsheimer the magic of the moonlight, Claude sang the wonders of the sunlight and the mighty dome of heaven, which gleams in the morning in a cool, silver splendour, at noon like liquid gold, and at even like crimson. One loves to think of him as a poor lad, aimlessly leaving the parental roof and on his distant wanderings gazing up into the mighty sky; as a wander- ing journeyman sitting by the lagoons of Venice and following with his eye the rippling sunlight, as it played upon the waves and danced over the colonnades of marble palaces. For it was in Venice that he discov- ered himself : and however often he afterwards painted Roman monuments or the harbours of Messina, Naples, and Tarentum, the recollection of Venice seems to hover over his paintings; the memory of the city of light where he lingered to dream upon his journey. Not until the nineteenth century did another painter, the Englishman Turner, sing such jubilant hymns to light.


CLAUDE LORRAIN


THE DISEMBARKMENT OF CLEOPATRA

Chapter II.— The Religious and Realistic Art of Spain

I.— Ribera and Zurbaran

Like the painters just mentioned, Ribera, who opens the history of Spanish art of the seven- teenth century, also resided in Italy. At the beginning of his activity he had been directed by his master Ribalta to study the Lombard school, had gone to Parma and become so absorbed in Correggio that his decorations in a chapel of that city were for a long time considered works of Correggio. But much as he loved light and colour at the beginning, his pictures became at a later period equally dark and gloomy. Although it does not appear that he made the personal acquaintance of Caravaggio, he certainly honoured him as his master; and when he was called to continue this master’s activity in the Spanish vice- royalty of Naples, he found himself in his true element.

Ribera was a bold and energetic spirit. He had in his youth defied all misery, hunger, and dangers; had without blushing worn the livery of a servant in order to avoid begging in the streets. This will-power, this unbending energy is also apparent in his works. Of

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all artists of the seventeenth century he is the most powerful naturalist, and such was the power and force of his works that they exercised a deep influence upon many artists of the nineteenth century, especially upon Bonnat and Ribot. In contrast to the cinquecento, which had avoided the representation of old age, Ribera felt himself most at home when he could paint aged faces furrowed by the hardships of life — grey hair, swollen veins and sinews. A black background into which the dark garments of his figures imper- ceptibly pass, a mass of furrowed skin and wrinkled hands which he has seen somewhere — such is usually the content of his paintings. But he loved not only the harsh and overworked forms of old age, but also the deformed, which the art of the sixteenth century had never represented; and in his club-footed beggars of the Louvre he created a wonderful piece of defiant realism.

Such figures peopled also his larger works. As Caravaggio had represented fat women of the Trastevere and rugged porters as Madonnas and apostles, so Ribera depicted them as market-women and aged peasants with brazen bones and weather-beaten faces. His Adora- tion of the Shepherds takes place among a rude shep- herd tribe of the Abruzzi. Brown, raw-boned fellows in coats of sheep-fell press about Mary. The still-life — the bread basket, the bundle of straw, the chickens, and the lamb — is arranged to form a complete kitchen subject. In his Entombment the body of Christ is that of a raw-boned Neapolitan peasant.


VELASQUEZ


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The gloomy inquisitorial spirit of the Spanish hier- archy is expressed in his pictures of martyrdoms. Here Bartholomew is flayed, there Lawrence is roasted on the grill, or Andrew hangs upon the cross, while a soldier tries to drag away the corpse before the fetter about his wrist has been loosed. Even when for a change he treads the domain of the antique, he selects martyrdoms, and places beside the Christian such heathen victims as Marsyas, Ixion, and Prometheus.

But the same man who here appears as such a one- sided painter of tortures and wrinkled beggar phi- losophers, has in other cases succeeded wonderfully in presenting soulful ecstacy, and occasionally surprises one with a melancholy type of maiden with great dark and dreamy eyes. Take for example his St. Agnes at Dresden and his Immaculate Conception in Salamanca, which reveal a psychic delicacy and radi- ant rendition of light attained by no Italian painter.

The path indicated by Ribera was followed by other artists .whose activity falls not now in Italy but in Spain. The way was prepared, and a series of mighty spirits proclaimed with powerful naturalism what Ribalta and Roelas had expressed in the forms of the Renaissance. The seventeenth century was the age of the greatest development of culture in Spain: when Calderon wrote his sensual but mystic and romantic poems, and sculptors carved those master- works of glowing polychromy before which one to-day stands amazed in Spanish churches. To painters also the


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foundation of monasteries by Philip III. and Lermo gave work in abundance; and in full possession of a most powerful technique they now became in every drop of their blood true Spaniards.

In Spanish art Spanish religion lives. Passion and fanatical asceticism, gloomy, ecstatic sensuality, and hysteric fervour are reproduced in their religious pictures with an unequalled naturalistic power. In a feudal state like the Spanish, with its grandees and princes of the church, portraiture also found such a soil as it had nowhere else. This is the age of those por- traits in which solemn grande{{a and faded weariness, majesty and insanity are united into such an in- describable whole.

Francisco Zurbaran is the painter of the clergy and monasticism. Before his paintings one has the feel- ing of standing in a gloomy cloister cell. A wooden crucifix hangs upon the whitewashed wall; upon a straw seat lies the Bible, printed in great black and red letters; here stands the prayer-bench and upon it a skull, warning of the changefulness of this world; there the row of books, all great pigskin folios. In the midst of this solemn space, solemn figures move about in ample white woollen cowls, the cross of the order upon their breasts ; men who in solitude have forgotten speech and associate only with the saints of heaven. Some- times they are ecstatic and wild, convulsed by the ful- ness of spiritual feeling, radiating like glowing stoves a light from within. But he often paints them also in


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everyday monastic life as they read, write, and meditate. Instead of the wildness of Ribera there reigns with him an unspeakable simplicity, a quiet almost sober unpretentiousness. The objects about them — the cups, fruits, bread, the coarse stuff of the cowls, the folios and straw chairs are rendered with the objectivity of a still-life painter. If notwithstanding this his works create the impression of all that terrihile which frightens us in Castagno’s and Michelangelo’s works, this effect is the result of the .grandeur of his line. The folds of the great white cowls are statuesque in effect, and the silhouettes are powerful and grand. Like a mystic bandit, a giant of primeval times, seems the Praying Monk of the London Gallery ; and the portrait of Peter of Alcantara with the sparkling eye and solemn threatening gesture is truly grandiose. Of the larger paintings in which he, the epic poet of monasticism, relates the legends of the orders, four scenes from the Life of St. Bonaventura, painted in 1629 for a church of this saint in Seville, have found their way to Paris, Berlin, and Dresden. But even these works are but poor examples of his art. Not until more has become known which is concealed in the churches of Seville and the mountain villages of Estremadura, will Zurbaran be discovered for the history of art.

irir, lDeIa6aue3

A year after Zurbaran, Velasquez was bom, and these two artists are united by the closest of


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bonds. Although most other Spaniards delighted in tragic pain and wild ecstacy, there is nothing oppressive in the works of Velasquez or Zurbaran. Their chief characteristic is royal repose and their only difference this, that of the two pillars of the Spanish state, the church and the nobility, the works of Zur- baran feflect rather the ecclesiastical, those of Velasquez the knightly spirit.

Velasquez also painted religious pictures like his Adoration of the Shepherds and an Adoration of the Kings, a Christ Crucified and a Coronation of the Virgin. He painted landscapes, historical pictures, like the Surrender of Breda, and antique subjects like Los Borrachos and the Smithy of Vulcan, Mars and Venus. Yet one thinks little of these works when the name of Velasquez is mentioned, but rather of his portraits. He is for us the court painter par excellence. The entire enervated Spanish court of the seventeenth century, degenerated by family marriages, stares from his works as from a witch’s mirror. No portrait painter of the world had, it would seem, more interesting problems. Whereas in the works of Titian and Rubens princes alternate with scholars and artists, beautiful women with generals and statesmen, with Velasquez the same figures always recur with tiresome similarity. Al- though his activity in Madrid lasted thirty-six years he hardly painted a picture that was not ordered by the king. Two journeys to Italy in 1629 and 1648-51 were the only events that showed him that a world


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existed outside of the royal palace of Madrid. The same walls which separated the Alcazar from the com- mon herd form the boundaries of his art. Within these walls as little happened as in the mountain palaces of Louis 11. of Bavaria. Foreign royalties were in- frequent guests: and of all the court officials almost the only one of whom we hear, except the minister Olivares, was Cardinal Caspar Borgia, who returned in 1636 to the Spanish capital, after his fanaticism had made him impossible even in Rome. Philip IV. usually preferred to associate with subalterns, to whom he was as de- voted as a master to his dog. His master huntsman, sturdy foresters, and their assistants were dearer to him than ministers; he preferred dwarfs and fools to sane persons. It was so pleasant to address these comical old fellows as uncle and cousin; so elevating to feel, in the presence of a crazy little monster, how like divinity royalty was.

These, then, are the personages whom Velasquez had to paint. We see in a dozen variations the pale, cold, phlegmatic countenance of the king and his brothers Carlos and Ferdinand: men with pale, lan- guishing faces, long Hapsburg chins and protruding underlips, and tired, expressionless faces; men who were old when they were born. We gaze upon Balthasar, the heir apparent, at whose birth his majesty was “so pleased and contented that he opened all the doors and admitted every one: so that even the ordinary chair- carriers and kitchen-boys congratulated his majesty


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in his innermost chambers, and begged leave to kiss his hand, which was most graciously granted them/’ There follow the portraits of the minister Olivares, a few master huntsmen, and the sinister procession of fools One is dressed as a Turkish madman, another has been dubbed Don Juan of Austria, after the king’s great uncle; a third stands upon the stage declaiming one of his farces. Of the dwarfs, one with a mighty dog at his side is dressed as a Flemish nobleman ; another with a mighty folio is occupied with gene- alogical studies; a third has an expressionless grin; yet another with a mighty deformed head stares with empty eyes. His women are as little beautiful as the men are interesting. Isabella of Bourbon and Mariana of Austria, as well as the princesses Maria Theresa and Margarita in their monstrous costumes, resemble Chinese pagodas rather than living beings. They possess neither coquetry nor charm, neither archness nor a friendly smile. Everything is sacrificed to icy pride and implacable ceremony. He who glances back into the past and remembers the beautiful, heavenly women who look down from the pictures of- the Venetians, feels himself transferred in the presence of the works of Velasquez into a world of uncanny phantoms.

How is it, then, that notwithstanding this one turns the leaves of the book of Velasquez’s portraits with awe, that in comparison with him Rubens seems a plebeian, van Dyck a parvenu and a dandy ?


VELASQUEZ


PRINCE BALTHAZAR CARLOS IN HUNTING COSTUME

Prado, Madrid


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Much of this imposing impression is due to the fact that Velasquez presents to us a world so closely cir- cumscribed. With other portrait painters the im- pressions change. Here we linger in a scholar's study, there in a ballroom: here upon the battle-field, there in the boudoir. With Velasquez one has the feeling of standing in a great, lonely, royal palace, whose panelled floor plebeians may only tread in felt shoes; a royal palace where old servants in gold-embroidered liveries pace silently over soft carpets.

The pathological elements of his subjects also give their portraits a strange charm. The Bourbons and the Stuarts who appear in the portraits of Rigaud and van Dyck are still full-blooded, healthy, and powerful. Whenever the court physician discovered that the royal blood was growing thin, he prescribed marriage with a healthy daughter of a foreign royal family, who furnished new life-blood to the race. The Spanish Hapsburgs, who had become exhausted by centuries of endogamy, are refined and nervous, pale and thin : of that fragile delicacy which occurs in the last scions of ancient families with whom the race dies out. There is something fascinating in the union of the two ele- ments of which these characters are composed: illness and chivalry, decline and enforced will-power, weary indifference and the habit of tension. They are all weary, and yet have no time to be weary. All would like to be seated but the kingly profession allows of no relaxation. Velasquez alone had the opportunity


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of painting children with such silken ash-grey hair and such big bluish eyes, who while they gaze at us say that the next year will be their last. Just because his heroes are such pale, enervated, bloodless people, his portraits had such an over-refined, aristocratic effect in an age that was still powerful.

Furthermore, it might be pointed out that the por- traits of Velasquez served a different purpose from the representative pictures of the seventeenth century. Even Louis XIV. was in a certain sense a democratic king, who could be condescending — not with the people indeed, but with the “noblest of the nation.” He considered it necessary to impress them by his splen- dour, led an open life, and showed himself affable; for he even feared for his kingdom “held by the grace of God.” The pillars of the Spanish monarchy were not yet shaken by such fears. If Philip IV. had heard of any discontent among his people, he would have been quite as astonished as the good Emperor Francis; who, in 1848, when his adjutant announced that it was time to flee because the people were storming the royal palace, gave the surprised answer: “Well, are they allowed to do that ? ” For the Spanish Hapsburgs there existed neither people nor aristocracy. They are still princes to whom ministers deliver messages on bended knees; princes who invisibly hover over the people. True, the Spanish court was the most costly in Europe; the liveries of the servants cost 130,000 ducats a year. But these expenses were not made for


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purposes of display; they were things which a king might allow himself as a matter of course. The long passages of the Alcazar in which he lived, enabled him to move unseen among the most distant parts of the palace. When at rare intervals he set foot upon the plebeian soil of the outer world, he avoided the shouting rabble and took pains that no one should see him; sometimes, perhaps, leaving behind his monogram painted in large letters, lo el rey, in order that the people might know that the king, like God, was omni- present. “The Spanish court,’’ says a contemporary author, “is no court like the French and English, but a private m.ansion in which a secluded life is led.”

The portraits of Velasquez, therefore, were not intended to be seen by profane eyes and had no patriotic missions to fulfil, nor was it their duty to remind the nobility that kingly power hovered over them. They were family portraits which hung upon the walls of the Alcazar and in the dining halls of the distant hunting-lodges or were sent as presents to relatives in Vienna. Everything which in other lands characterised the courtly style of portraiture was therefore not suit- able in Spain. While elsewhere the crown and different accessories had to be displayed upon the table in order to show that the subject was really a king, with the Hapsburgs no such insignia were necessary. Every one who saw the picture knew: this is my brother Philip, that my uncle Eerdinand, this my cousin Mariana. In other countries princes show themselves affable or


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gracious, or they sit in imposing positions; they move their arms demonstratively, and if they are on horse- back assume the air of a general reviewing his army. The Hapsburgs need no such display; for they are quite among themselves. They do not need to indicate by a pillar or a curtain that they live in palaces, nor to display their white hands or their costly toilettes. For all these things are understood among them as a matter of course, and the stage effects used to overawe the people serve no purpose among relatives. They have themselves painted in the situations which signify the great moments of their existence: when they grant an audience (God knows what self-control this re- quires! ), when they are in their household or upon the hunt. A portrait by Velasquez was for them what a photograph is for us.

One might then aver that the distinction of Vel- asquez’s portraits is not a merit of the master, but rather due to the surroundings. But how little this is true is shown by a comparison with the portraits which Rubens painted of the same- persons during his stay at Madrid: Philip IV., Isabella, and Ferdinand. Before these portraits of the Munich Pinakothek one seems in the presence of another race. Philip, with Velasquez pale and tired, the withered branch of an ancient sapless tree, is with Rubens a fresh and corpulent gentleman. Isabella, cold and solemn in the portrait of the Span- iard, appears as a lovable, happy lady. The Cardinal- Infant Ferdinand, there a pale reserved young man


VELASQUEZ


PORTRAIT OF INNOCENT X.

Doria Gallery, Rome


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with weary, feverish eyes, has Decome a robust and joyous prelate. If van Dyck had painted them they would not have been so distressingly healthy, but all the more vain and dandified. Philip would have coquetted with his blue-veined hand and assumed the pose of an Adonis; Isabella would have shown that her silken robe was very valuable, and that her handker- chief was genuine Brussels lace; Don Ferdinand, the cardinal, would have looked from the picture with a warm and sentimental glance, as if to charm beautiful women. Something soft and dandified, an obtrusive distinction, would have found its way into the portraits.

Both Rubens and van Dyck would have brought for- eign traits into this highly aristocratic world; Velasquez could see it thus distinguished because he himself belonged to it. Not only did he live in the midst of the most ancient nobility of Europe, in the royal palace itself, loaded with all the titles of a courtier; but he was himself descended from an ancient and noble family. So great was his pride in an ancient family tree that he laid aside his father’s name Silva, although it belonged to the most distinguished of the realm, and assumed his mother’s because this was the name of a still more ancient race.^ So much did he feel

1 The author rather overestimates the ancient character of the artist’s lineage. His full name was Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velasquez. His father, Juan de Silva, was a Portuguese, who came to Seville from Oporto : his mother, Geronima Velasquez, was a native of Seville. Both were of the inferior nobility (hidalgos), and neither family used the title Don. It was a common custom in Andalusia to assume the ma-


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himself an ancient Spanish cavalier and so conscious was he of his dignity as master of his majesty’s household, that it offended him to be regarded as a painter. Nothing that could remind one of his pro- fession can be seen in the portrait of himself in the Uffizi; neither the palette nor even the eye of a painter. Cold and proud, distinguished and solemn as a Spanish grandee, he looks down upon the beholders. From this endeavour of Velasquez to appear as a courtier rather than a painter the individuality of his style can best be explained. He is separated from the professional painters by a similar barrier to that which divided Goethe, the dignified minister of state, from poor literati.

According to the usual conception, the activity of artists consists in transfiguring actuality into beauty. They impress upon their models to show themselves from the most affable and winning side; pose them so that pleasing lines will result, determine the costume and seek by pictorial attitudes to enliven the portraits. As painters they also love beauty of colour. Rubens, the powerful sanguinist, even in his portraits declaims fortissimo in noisy colours with blending reverberating tones. Rembrandt, the master of light and shade, moves in dim mysterious harmonies and has in his Night Watch woven about a simple portrait group the charm of German fable. Others consider themselves


ternal in addition to the paternal name. Compare Justi, ydasque^ and his Times (London, 1889), pp. 59 sg. — Ed.


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virtuosi of the brush. Hals especially, a true son of his warlike century, seems to stand before the easel with the consciousness of wielding a hussar's sword instead of the brush.

None of these. things exist for Velasquez. Of him is true what Nietzsche wrote about Voltaire : Wherever there was a court he laid down the law of court speech and with it the law of style for all writers. The courtly language, however, is the language of the courtier who has no profession, and who even in scientific conversa- tions avoids all handy, technical expressions because they smack of a profession. Technical expressions and anything that betrays a specialist are in countries of courtly culture considered a blemish of style." Velasquez considered everything that could betray the specialist of the palette a blemish of style.

For all extravagances of colour he had an instinctive distaste. He used neither blending colours like Rubens nor chiaroscuro effects like Rembrandt, nor did he even know of an interesting treatment of light; but painted only the cool, silver tone of simple daylight. So great was his moderation in colour that in the days of asphalt painting it was said of him that he did not un- derstand the essence of colour; since all of his pictures were monochrome. As with colour so he also avoids conspicuous brush work. No sketch or clever im- provisation by him exists. If with Hals the strokes of the brush have the effect of sabre-cuts, in Velasquez one observes nothing technical. The effect is obtained


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without betraying the means. As Mengs wrote: “With nothing but the will alone Velasquez was wont to paint his pictures.”

Nor does he otherwise recognise artistic considera- tions. In the Surrender of Breda he feels like an officer, and nothing can induce him for artistic considerations to deviate from military rule. He is a master huntsman in his pictures of hunts, and therefore gives no free im- provisation like Rubens, but severe historical repre- sentation of the hunting achievements of Philip IV. In his equestrian portraits he feels himself the master of the royal stables and therefore never asks whether an attitude is artistic or beautiful. Everything must be correct and bear the criticism of the most exacting sportsman; the position of the rider blameless and the gait of the horses such as would not offend the royal riding school. Likewise in his pictures of royal audiences he is the master of ceremonies and not a painter. No ideal of beauty, but the rule of Spanish etiquette, governs his creations. He who more than any other would have had the opportunity to invent a costume which would admit of freedom and pictorial rhythm, not only confines himself strictly to the con- ventional, but treats the toilette with the professional knowledge of a superintendent of the royal, civil, and military wardrobe. Even less would he, for love of a beautiful line, have deviated from the regulations of the court marshal’s office. However unnatural all these regulations were, his aim is only to paint this unnatural


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with the greatest conceivable accuracy. Every offence against the regulations of court ceremony would have seemed to him ordinary and in bad taste.

From this severe conformity to court etiquette the aristocratic effect of his paintings results. The beauti- ful gestures, the artistically draped curtains which can be seen in other court portraits were considered as cheap, plebeian beauty. A genuine artistic beauty pervades the works of Velasquez. Just because he did not inject artistic notions into this ancient and noble world, his pictures reflect so overpoweringly the essence of ancient Spanish royalty. They seem works which no individual but the spirit of royalism has created.

III .— Murillo

When Velasquez died in 1660 his funeral was celebrated like that of a grandee. The entire court, the knights of all orders took part in the ceremonies. With him was buried the art of Madrid.

After the death of the master, his son-in-law Battista del Mazo, who had often made copies of his portraits, continued his activity in Madrid. Besides his copies of Velasquez, he is known by a panorama of Saragossa, the only landscape painted during this period in Spain. The court painter who became the heir of Velasquez’s offices and titles was Juan Carreho de Miranda — no very happy lot, for his task was to paint the death struggle, the last convulsions of the Spanish Hapsburg. Mariana of Austria, the regent, who in Velasquez’s


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first pictures still preserved a touch of Viennese smart-- nesS; has now become a bigoted old woman. She holds a breviary bound in black; all splendour in dress is relinquished, her jewelry laid aside, and her hair buried under the black widow’s veil. Then Charles 11. be- came the subject for Carreho as Philip IV. had been for Velasquez. The same pale cheeks, the same receding lower jaw, the same soft blond hair which Velasquez had so often painted, he also rendered. But the blue melancholy eyes are no longer the same: they stare without expression, stupid and empty as those of Nino de Vallecas, the hydrocephalic dwarf who con- cludes the series of Velasquez’s pictures of idiots. The family tragedy of the Hapsburgs is now at an end.

At this time great masters lived only at Seville, where Spanish religious painting found its final expression. If in any case, it is to be deplored in that of Alonso Cano that the history of Spanish art is still so little known. He must have been an interesting personality, this young man with sparkling eyes, impetuous demeanour, and the manners of a cavalier, whose sword was always ready to spring from the scabbard. To- gether with Melzi, Savoldo, and Boltraffio, he belongs to that group which may be called the “aristocrats of art history.” The circumstance that he was a native of Granada, the southernmost city of Spain, enables us to understand more fully the mixture of brio and proud chivalry which speaks so charmingly from his works. Before them one thinks of cavaliers fighting duels, of


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challengers and seconds, of rapiers, florets, and swords. The lady over whom they are fighting is called Mary, Theresa, or Agnes; for in his hands Spanish religious painting was transformed into knightly love-service. Every visitor of the Berlin Gallery remembers the wonderful painting of St. Agnes, the patroness of chastity, the bride of God, staring with her great brown Andalusian eyes into the infinite. Every visitor to the Munich Pinakothek recalls the Vision of Si. Anthony — Mary, proud as a Venus Victrix and tender as a Tanagra figurine, looking down upon the pale friar who, holding the Christ-child in his arms, looks up to her in soulful ecstacy. This is no religious painting, but such a love- song as the knightly singers of the middle ages daily offered to their gentle ladies. How daintily sits the crown upon the small austere head of the Madonna; with what exquisite taste he has arranged the veil, the chaplet of pearls, the palm and lilies' Or he depicts Mary with a child upon her lap, dreaming in a nocturnal landscape; she has no halo, but the stars of heaven are grouped into a glittering wreath behind her. Or he paints the Entombment, but not with our Lord’s earthly friends gathered, as in former paintings, about the sepulchre; angels with radiant wings hover down to support the pale body.

For Spanish naturalism Juan Parejas’s picture in the Madrid Museum representing the Calling of St. Matthew is especially characteristic. Uhde and Jean Beraud have gone no further in the union of modern with


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biblical life. As the cinquecenio had banished all portrait-figures from religious paintings so the age of the Counter-reformation depicts the spiritual directly projected into the material world. Parejas paints merely the office of a tax collector where Spanish gentlemen in the costume of the seventeenth century are seated, and into this room enters a strange gen- tleman in simple costume — Christ. Claudio Coello’s picture of St. Louis shows how the seventeenth century, with complete disregard of the sixteenth, reaches back to the pious painting of the quattrocento. In the foreground stands a prince in the knightly costume of the period, and behind him is the Holy Family, with jubilant angels in the air. That Matteo Cerezo in his principal work did not represent the Last Supper but the Disciples at Emmaus is likewise significant for the changed views. The representation of a historical event is less congenial to the mystic tendencies of the time than the theme of Christ appearing as a spirit among the disciples. In another work, which bears a remarkable resemblance to a picture by the great idealist of our own day (Watts’s Love and Life), he represents the guardian angel leading a child through life, that is to say, a new version of the legend of Tobias, so popular in the age of Savonarola.

Murillo drew all these threads together into his hand and entered upon the heritage of Spanish artistic achievement. The earliest examples of his work consisted in life-size folk subjects, such as had since


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Ribera’s day occupied Spanish painters. Indeed, in Germany, one thinks especially of the beggar-boys of the Munich Pinakothek when Murillo’s name is men- tioned. Here a couple of lads cower on the street corner throwing dice, there little girl-venders of fruit count ■ their gains, or brown urchins eat their meal of melons and bread crust in dirty corners. Like Ribera, Murillo is in such pictures an incomparable painter of still-life. The velvety surface of the peach, the blue skin of the grape, the rind of the melon, the yellow peel of the orange, ripe fruit showing juicy cracks, the earthen jugs and woven baskets are painted with fidelity to the substance and a nobility of colour, such as among later still-life painters only Chardin possessed. One of these folk pieces. Las Gallegas, even betrays the fact that there were courtesans in severe, ecclesiastical Spain.

His paintings of the youthful history of Christ and Mary are also rendered in the manner of such folk subjects. In his Adoration of the Shepherds he paints, like Ribera, poor, sunburned people assembling curi- ously about the cradle, and adds an entire still-life of pots, straw bundles, and animals. If the Holy Family is represented, he leads us into the simple workshop of a carpenter, where Mary sits winding yarn, and Joseph, reposing from his labour, gazes at the child playing with a bird or a little dog. In the picture of the Education of Mary Elizabeth wears the costume of the seventeenth century, and Mary looks like a princess by Velasquez.


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A whole cycle of such subjects was united in the hospital of Seville. As Raphael had painted in the Vatican the philosophy of the Renaissance, so Murillo depicted the ethics of the Counter-reformation: the works of Christian neighbourly love and the blessings of almsgiving. The feeding of the hungry is interpreted by means of the biblical miracle of the loaves and fishes; the supplying of drink to the thirsty by Moses striking the rock in the wilderness; the healing of the sick by the history of the man with the palsy at the pool of Bethesda; the office of the good Samaritan by St. John of God carrying a poor man who has fallen in the street to a hospital; hospitality by the story of the Prodigal Son. St, Thomas of Villanueva Giving Alms, and the Munich picture, St. John of God Healing a Lame Man, are further examples of this philanthropic naturalism.

In other works the earthly and spiritual are har- moniously united. Much in the Birth of the Virgin — the bed with mother, physician, the nurse, and visiting relatives — might have been painted by a realist like Ghirlandajo. But among the maids preparing the bath for the new-born child, the angels of heaven are busily commingled. In the Annunciation one seems to look through the attic window of a seamstress: a basket of laundry stands before Mary, but above the heaven is opened, and God, surrounded by circles of angels, gazes down.

The changes in the types of religious presentation


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during this period are especially conspicuous in this painting. During the Renaissance Mary was the glorious queen; here she is a simple Andalusian maiden, and, be it noted, she is younger than in pictures of an earlier epoch. By presenting her as a child, shame- faced and timid as a nun, they emphasised all the more the doctrine of the miraculous birth of her Son. She must appear not as a mother, but as the divine being^ the youthful mother of God. With this dogmatic con- ception which does not like to dwell upon the earthly relation of mother and child is also connected the circumstance that, as never happened at an earlier period, Joseph takes the place of Mary. He holds a lily upon his arm as a sign of his innocence, and the Christ-child with the gesture of Noli me tangere stands upon his lap. Even in the pictures of Mary the two figures are seldom placed in relationship to each other. They gaze solemnly upon us out of great deep eyes. If the Renaissance had changed the Madonna into a family idyl, the Counter-reformation reverted to the mediaeval mosaics. Only from the dark presentient eyes fixed upon the beholder should the sentiment of the picture be developed.

Even when Christ appears alone. He is almost always a child. He wanders thoughtfully through lonely deserts; rests with a lamb by His side upon the pagan ruins; as .the Good Shepherd, staff in hand, leads His lambs through a gloomy wood; meets the child John in the forest. He may not appear as a man who from


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His own power became a prophet; for the mystery is all the greater if through a child who cannot think, the Holy Ghost reveals Himself.

There follow the many works with Which he treads his most proper domain, that of miraculous apparitions, forebodings, and dreams. St. Francis was praying before the crucifix, when the arm of Jesus loosened itself from the cross and rested upon the shoulder of the mystic. A childless couple wished to make some pious foundation, but they knew not how or where. At night JMary in a pure white garment appeared to them, and told them it must be upon the snow- covered surface of the Esquiline. In the next picture they kneel before the pope and recount the vision, and to the right a procession marches to the new house of God.^ His Angels’ Kitchen of the Louvre is dedicated to San Diego, an Andalusian mendicant friar, who was such a pious man and longed so for heaven that during prayer he arose in the air. This occurred upon a day when the monastery, of which Diego was the chief coox, received distinguished visitors. When a brother and two cavaliers appeared in the door to look for the dinner, they saw him suspended in mid-air, while the angels of heaven, in the role of benevolent brownies, are doing the pious brother’s work.

But not only the angels help the good man; even Mary descends to her worshippers. As in the days of

^ This cycle is in the Academy of San Fernando, Madrid.


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Savonarola, she appeared especially to St. Bernard, and if she did not come herself she sent the Christ-child. To old St. Felix soliciting alms, it appeared from heaven and nestled for a kiss upon his arm. Even more fondly than to this weather-beaten grey medi- cant it came to the young and refined St. Anthony, in whose cell the whisper of angel voices was often heard, and who when asked about it, answered: '‘The little Christ-child is visiting.” Murillo treated the story in four paintings: first Anthony, absorbed in prayer, does not even observe the Christ-child, who is sitting upon his book; then he glances up, and, trembling with eagerness, embraces the warm, rosy little body.

The Immaculate Conceptions form the conclusion of Murillo’s works. All painters of Seville had celebrated the great Christian mystery, but none more frequently than Murillo. Not upon clouds, as in the Italian examples, was Mary borne to heaven; but she is sus- pended serenely in the ether, which is filled with gleaming, golden, fructifying particles of the sunlight. Her eyes are not full of inspiration and longing as in Italian paintings; but glance astonished as those of a child gazing upon the splendour of the candles of a Christmas-tree.

In artistic qualities all of these works vary exceed- ingly, and the enthusiasm for Murillo is, at all events, no longer as great as formerly. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, when through the Napoleonic wars a part of his best paintings was taken from Spain


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the name of Murillo signified everything: devotion, beauty, love, and ecstacy. He was the first Spaniard whom Europe learned to know, and his appearance was therefore the discovery of a new world. When later his predecessors became known, he lost much of his celebrity. His art seems in many respects a softening and an enervation of ancient Spanish virility; like a translation of Spanish idiom into a universal language. He possesses neither the chivalry of Cano, the power of Zurbaran, nor the wild force of Ribera; but a certain mediocrity, a soft, insinuating sweetness which renders him universally comprehensible; and he stands in the same relation to his predecessors as in Italian art Raphael to Michelangelo and Leonardo.

This gentle affability may be partly explained by the fact that Murillo belongs to a younger' generation. The works of his predecessors are full of the ardour of battle; they live in the subjects which they depict. With glowing passion they proclaim the doctrines of Christianity, battle in feverish excitement against paganism in the church, and depict martyrdoms and visions amidst darkness and flashes of lightning. Murillo represents the consummation of the age. The wild bubbling source has become a quiet stream. What had excited the others was for him only a subject for elegant pictures. He is never crude, abrupt, harsh, or puritanic, but interesting, pleasing, and charming. The quality which the French called chic has conquered religious painting, and transformed the saints who in


MURILLO


THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

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the beginning were so threatening into dainty toy- figures. His soft and dreamy painting resembles a beautiful summer evening after the thunder-storm has passed, and the quiet sun on the horizon envelopes the earth in its rosy light.

On the other hand, the effect of his painting is less abrupt, less Spanish than that of his predecessors, because the world for which he laboured was not bounded by such narrow walls. Velasquez was the painter of the court, Zurbaran the painter of monks ; the former’s world was the Alcazar, the latter’s the mon- astery. Murillo, on the other hand, laboured for the cultured circles of a large city. His pictures in the Hospital of Seville might be termed charity concerts, in which he reminds the well-to-do of those who suffer and are troubled. He depicts the return of the prodigal son as though it were an event in middle-class society. This consideration for the taste of the bourgeoisie, which wishes to see nothing that would cause unpleasant sensations, never left him. If Zurbaran and Ribera in their crude veracity resemble Flaubert and Zola, Murillo in his good breeding is like Ohnet or Marlitt. It is true that in one of his hospital pictures sick people move about upon crutches; a boy is having the sores of his head washed, and a man lays bare his knee, revealing caries of the shinbone. But these gloomy events are only represented in order that the beauty and the goodness of the dainty Samaritans may shine the more brightly. To the most beautiful maidens of


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Seville, those brown, dark-eyed children described by Merimee in Carmen, he assigns the role of the Madonna ; and even his beggar boys do not resemble the rude, dirty rabble of Ribera. He cuts and polishes their nails, makes them so presentable that even one who would avoid contact with the actual objects loves to gaze upon them when painted. This is the explanation why these pictures were considered masterpieces at a time when such subjects were otherwise tabooed, and why it was through Murillo that at the beginning of the nineteenth century the taste for Spanish paintings became so widespread. All others were too harsh, too aristocratic, too reserved. Murillo,* the painter of the old Spanish bourgeoisie, spoke the language most comprehensible to the nineteenth century, and won the heart by the same qualities which once made Palma Vecchio, and later Angelica Kaufmann, Friederich Au- gust Kaulbach, and Nathaniel Sichel the favourites of their day.

After him there came only Jose Antolinez, a soft, rather insipid and coquettish painter, whose favourite subjects were blond Magdalens and Blessed Virgins in glory. With the younger Herrera Spanish religion became a purely theatrical sentiment. A child of the world, he dallied with the figures of religion as much in the manner of an operetta as Filippino Lippi had done in Italy. Everything is dissolved in the perfume of roses and violets. The last Spaniard, Don Juan de Valdes Leal, the daemonic and gloomy master, is hardly


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to be counted in this time. His weird and gloomy pic- ture depicting the coffins and decayed corpses, over which a hand from the clouds holds a scale, already announces the blood-curdling etchings created in the following century by Goya.

Chapter III.— The Sensual Art of Flanders

I.— Rubens

From Spain the way leads to Flanders ; for Fland- ers was in the seventeenth century a province of Spain. In this country the religious wars had raged with especial force. The year of the iconoclasts, 1566, was the acme of Protestant power. Singing psalms the Puritans marched through the streets, pressed into cathedrals and monasteries, burning and destroying every work of art they found. In three days four hundred churches and chapels were de- vastated, and the streets were covered with broken pictures of the Virgin, the venerable products of Flemish art. Then the reaction came. The con- servative separated from the “storm and stress’" elements; Alba appeared in Brussels and the land fell into his iron hand.

Flanders became the citadel of Jesuitism in the North, and the air of the Spanish court pervaded the land. Archduke Albert and his consort Isabella, the daughter of Philip IT, who ruled the land as a fief of the Spanish crown, erected churches and monasteries everywhere.

Like black swarms of grasshoppers, bands of foreign priests descended upon the land.

One would therefore expect to find in Flanders an art similar to the Spanish; an art uniting gloomy fanaticism with the hot breath of ecstatic fervour. Yet the contrary is true. The churches have not the same gloomy effect, the mystic twilight that pervades the Spanish, but rather that of gigantic festal halls, where sumptuous magnificence and gold gleaming splendour greets the eye. In the midst of this festal magnificence hang pictures just as sumptuous and loudly reverberating. In Spain the colours are gloomy brown, here flashing red and jubilant; there asceticism and ecstatic fervour, here sensual elation; there world- forsaking mysticism, here exuberant vitality and power; there mortification of the flesh, here a full- blooded, over-healthful epicureanism.

It seems almost incredible after the puritanism with which the Counter-reformation began. Then artists had been forbidden to represent the nude, in order that they should not ‘"offend God and give men a bad example"; even the sexless nudity of Michelangelo’s Last Judgment seemed so offensive that the figures had to be clothed. The Flemish pictures are alive with naked human bodies, and these bodies are fat and soft. The art of the Counter-reformation, v/hich began with the prohibition of the nude, ended with the apotheosis of the flesh. In the beginning antique statues were removed from public places, or if clothed were transformed by change of attributes into Christian saints The artists fearfully avoided the domain of the antique. The Flemish painters dealt almost more with the gods and goddesses of Olympus than with the saints of the church, and used antiquity as well as Christianity to sing the joyful praise bf the flesh. Nor does the church call them before the tribunal of the Inquisition as it had called Paolo Veronese, but laughingly gives her blessing. The Catholicism of the Counter-reformation, in the beginning so incomprehensively rigid, became in Flanders a joyful religion, serving not only for the spiritual but also for the fleshly needs of her children.

The explanation of this strange phenomenon is to be found in the fact that the spirit of the Counter-reforma- tion in Flanders had to reckon with the sensual temper- ament of a crude, pleasure-loving people. But in the first instance the difference in time must be considered. The development of art from 1 560 to 1650 illustrates the history of a Counter-reformation. When the reform began the church was in danger; now her dominion has been restored, more splendid than ever before, and the church militant has become the church triumphant. The subjugation of Flanders, in particular, was an astonishing result of carefully planned Jesuitic activity. This triumph of Catholicism is reflected in the works of the Baroque period. In Caravaggio’s and Ribera’s time the pictures were solemn, gloomy, and defiant; now they are festal and joyful and representative of the age With clanging music Jesuitism marched, proclaiming its victory through the valleys of Flanders. It did not fear art, which had rendered important services in the labour of conversion. More quickly than the sword could have done, it won men by contrasting with the puritanic zeal of the iconoclasts the attractive pomp of Catholic pageantry. Humanism also, whose excesses had once given the impetus to the great movement, was no longer dangerous, and the church only gained by again posing as the protector of learning. Thus the Counter-reformation, although it had in the beginning assumed a hostile attitude towards the Renaissance, now entered upon the entire heritage of the Hellenic spirit of the Renaissance.

The painter to whom this great heritage was trans- mitted is named Rubens. He was, generally speak- ing, what Ghirlandajo had been in the fifteenth century and Raphael in the sixteenth. He belongs neither to the inquiring minds who attempt the solution of new problems nor to those whose works are confessions of the soul. In Veronese the Renaissance and in Murillo the Counter-reformation passed away; it was Rubens’s achievement to reconcile the two previously separated worlds, the Counter-reformation and the Renaissance.

The art of the Counter-reformation in its hostility to sensuality had reached that psychic domain where the unnatural begins. The sensuousness of St. Anthony embracing the Christ-child is perverse, as is also that of the monk adoring the Immaculate Mary. After this condition of hysterical over-excitement, Rubens led art back to a healthy Hellenic sensualism. His whole activity is like a great reaction against the spiritual tendencies of the Spanish school. The Counter-reform- ation had transformed sensual to spiritual: Rubens tears the mask of Tartuffe from its countenance and leads back sensuality to its proper domain. It is no accident that he is so fond of painting the passion of animals; lions, tigers and leopards, bears and wolves; for he himself has something of the character of a beautiful, powerful animal, and he stands among other painters like a stallion among horses. He appears in an age of heated fpjitasy like a centaur, like one of those beings in whom the human head is united with the horse’s body, typifying the strength, wildness, and sensual desire of the animals. Instead of self-denial he paints passion, instead of psychic ecstacy over- flowing physical power. The excited visions of the pietists he confronts with healthy animal desire, the spiritual erotics of Theresa with the passion of primeval man. In a country where religion had caused the most blood to flow a painter extolled the eternal procreative powers of nature. His appearance in the history of painting signifies a similar moment to what art had experienced a hundred years earlier, when the asceticism of the epoch of Savonarola was followed by the triumph of sensuality. But the works of those days seem tame and modest in comparison to the orgy which now began. It was just this fruitless psychic exaltation into which the new Catholicism had fallen that excited sensuality to the fever pitch. Therefore it now seemed as if the dykes had burst. Like the irresistible flood was the onward rush of sensuality, overflowing and tearing down everything before it.

His Kirmess of the Louvre and those social subjects which he called conversations a la mode form the intro- duction to his work. In the Kirmess men and women join in a wild orgy not before a tavern door, but upon a wide open field. In the reckless dance one fellow has thrown his arm about the body of a woman; another, shouting, lifts his partner into the air; a third seizes his closely, pressing her at the same time with arms, legs, breast, and lips; yet another has thrown his to the ground. In more distinguished circles there is greater propriety, but the theme is likewise love. Before a fountain in the form of a female statue from whose full breasts thick streams of water spout, ladies and gentlemen are seated. Here a couple assume the position for a dance; there young men play the lute; there again beautiful women, with cupids hovering over, approach. The santa conversazione of the Renais- sance has been transformed into the conversation d la mode. These two pictures reveal all the qualities of Rubens. As the Flemish people are, so they wish their saints to be. Although Rubens’s activity included all branches of painting — religious, mythological, landscape, portrait, and animal — it is all held together by one bond: the warm-blooded, fiery sensuality pulsating through all. After men had for so long been consumed by hysteric longing, the necessity of holding warm and living flesh in their arms was so great that, with all the ostensible difference of the pictures, the theme is at bottom always the same: the apotheosis of the flesh.

The beholder must therefore not expect to find very edifying qualities in Rubens’s religious pictures. All the delicate, fine shades of sentiment which the old masters expressed are strange to him. He has a feeling only for the crude, massive, and sensually powerful. 1 n- stead of genuine feeling and soul, one finds in Rubens’s pictures only aesthetic poses and fat human flesh. All his holy women are so mighty in flesh and have such corpulent bodies that one has little belief in their sanctity. All of his male saints are colossal fellows who are impressive more by reason of athletic, mus- cular power than psychic greatness. The spirit of Christianity is so transformed into its opposite that even the old doctrine of the mortification of the flesh is ex- pressed by means of figures of the greatest imaginable corpulency.

From the Old Testament he selects scenes like Susanna s Bath or the Captivity oj Samson, which give opportunity for the introduction of voluptuous female bodies or of pleasing his stormy sentiment by battle and slaughter. Mary, the spotless maiden of Spanish art, here resembles rather the Aphrodite Pandemos. A thick garland of fruit which fat-cheeked sturdy angels wind about the picture heightens the succulent, sensual effect. If instead of Mary other saints (Mag- dalen, Cecilia, or Catherine) are painted, the change of name necessitates no change of character. It is always the same voluptuous woman of Brabant, with the decollete clinging silk dress. As he loves the Adoration of the Kings only because it gives opportunity to display pomp and splendour and to let the sun’s rays glitter upon damask robes, so in the Slaughter of the Innocents. where the sentiment is one of suffering and gloomy despair, he preserves the same sensual qualities. The Crucifixion of Christ gives the opportunity of painting noble, manly bodies of the highest muscular develop- ment; the risen Lazarus is a robust athlete, whom the sojourn in the grave had not injured, and his sisters also use the opportunity to display their mighty forms. As in this case there is nothing of the mysteries of death, so the repentant sinners bending before the Redeemer show neither regret nor repentance. Christ is a beautiful man with noble gestures, and Magdalen a voluptuous sinner, whose contrition is not very deep. Even the Last Judgment, in which the old masters were wont to express the whole faith of their childish souls, is for Rubens only a cascade of human bodies affording him the opportunity to juggle with the nude and scatter them through the air like a giant emptying a tub of colossal fishes.

The antique is not necessarily the domain of the senses. When one hundred years earlier Mantegna painted his antique pictures, he sought with scientific severity to restore the image of the Roman world, its architectural forms and costumes, its implements and customs. In contrast to this intellectual classicism contemporary Romanticists sought antiquity with the spirit. For Piero di Cosimo, Greece was a vanished, enchanted kingdom, the land of witchcraft and fable; but Botticelli, the disciple of Savonarola, remained even in his antique pictures a Christian painter. Not the stupefying perfume of the roses of Aphrodite but the sentiment of the cloister is wafted from his pictures. One could think of his Venus sitting, like silent Mary, upon a festal throne crowned with cold white flowers. Then follow the pictures of Correggio and Sodoma, who endowed the figures of the antique world with the quivering, erotic sentiment of the age of Leonardo; and further those works of the High Renaissance which imbued the antique with majestic nobility. Before Titian’s pictures one has the feeling of tarrying in Hellenic thermce, where in classic restfulness noble and distinguished figures move about. A change came with Poussin, who, as a follower of Mantegna and a pre- decessor of Schinkel, sought, with all the accessories of his great scholarship, to restore the architecture and the applied arts of the ancients. Ribera and the other painters of martyrdoms discovered that among the Greeks also martyrs had been flayed and chained. With Rubens the antique is a great butcher-shop. Upon the subjects which he portrayed a book has been written, in which it is proved that in his two hundred and eighty mythological pictures nearly all the scenes are treated which occur in the works of Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Plutarch, and Livy. But this achievement of science is love’s labour lost; for Rubens only treasured the antique because he took pleasure in the strong and healthy female nudes and because it gave him the opportunity to depict exuberant power and stormy movement. After the transcendental longing and mystic ecstacy of an earlier day men wished to see flesh. He therefore knows no difference of types. Neither majestic Juno, nor slender and supple Minerva, nor chaste and severe Diana exists for him; the same fat heroines with straw-coloured hair, watery blue eyes, and mighty hips always recur. Corpulent, sturdy, and piquant is Venus, but just as fleshy is Diana, the virgi- nal goddess of the chase, as if she were more accustomed to repose upon downy cushions than, spear in hand, to follow the stag. It is characteristic of Rubens that, often as he represented Venus, the type of the goddess reposing, which was so popular during the Renaissance, never once occurs. Easy repose was no theme for Rubens, who could only conceive of a voluptuous body in motion or glowing with passion. Jupiter approaches the fair Antiope, Amazons join in battle, the Dioscuri carry off the daughters of Leucippus, centaurs gallop across the landscape in pursuit of a maiden, or satyrs assault Diana’s nymphs. These pictures of satyrs, introducing the theme, “And in glowing passion the faun held the nymph fast,” are introduced in ever new variations; and bacchanalia treating fortissimo the theme of drunkenness and passion form the acme of Rubens’s glorification of stormy sensualism. Great masses of colossal femininity are displayed; in untamed passion the distended bodies press each other; bacchic pairs in wild sensual embrace storm about. Thus the hysteria of the earlier day is followed by satyriasis.

His allegorical pictures are distinguished from the mythological only by their titles. He paints the four parts of the world sitting together united only by love, surrounded by powerful animals and the symbols of truthfulness. He models a historic theme like the Life of Maria de' Medici^ in such a manner that it is at the same time a hymn to human flesh. Although he here portrays the age in which he had himself lived, and diplomatic events in which he had taken part, he does not confine himself to the historic costumes, or even to historic subjects, but sets all Olympus in motion. In the midst of the assembly of historical personages, nude geniuses, gods, and goddesses are mingled. Water nymphs guide the ships of Queen Maria, and sturdy Lutti carry her heavy brocaded train. It might be expected that the figure of Truth who is lifted aloft by Time would be naked; but the gloomy fates spinning the thread of the queen’s life also gleam in voluptuous nudity.

His landscapes form a supplement to this tendency.

’ The author here refers to the series oi* the twenty-four decorations for the Luxembourg Palace, Paris, painted after Rubens’s designs by his pupils, and now occupying a separate room in the Louvre.

He paints neither characteristic selections from nature nor a barren landscape of delicate restrained tones. As in his historical painting he loves only flesh and corpulency, and knows only the two poles of over- flowing sensuality and raging struggle, so as a land- scapist he has painted nature only in opulent comfort or in moments of upheaval when elementary powers are let loose. In the foreground of one of his Munich pictures a cow is being milked whose fat swollen udder symbolises the sentiment pervading the earth. In another picture a rainbow appears in the heavens; the struggle of the elements is past, everything glitters with moisture, and the trees rejoice like fat children who have just had their breakfast. At Windsor, Vienna, and Florence other landscapes are preserved in which the power of the elements is let loose; a raging storm dashes over mighty tree-tops, and lightning strikes down from storm-laden clouds. The waters break their barriers, sweeping away ancient trees and mighty cattle. Sometimes he tells of all the earth’s delight when fructifying rain descends; of fat steers driven to pasture; of Flemish peasant women with ripe sheaves of grain striding over the rich soil of Brabant. Passion and fruitfulness, desire and relief — such are his themes.

In speaking of Rubens’s portraits one first thinks of Helene Fourment, the spicy blonde whom he married in 1630; for it is characteristic of this master that at the age of fifty-three he married a girl of sixteen years.

It is no less significant that it was Helene; for in her he found the genius of his art. Not many thoughts were treasured in her pretty animal head, but she was healthy, full-blooded, and overflowing with life — a real Rubens. And as he married a woman who appeared as if he himself had painted her, he painted others as if they belonged to Helene’s family. Whether aristo- crats or scholars, gentlemen or ladies, they are all of blooming, exuberant life, of overflowing, full-blooded power. Although they wear the pompous garments of the seventeenth century, they seem to live in a para- disiac condition; not “sickbed o’ er with th6 pale cast of thought,” but more bodies than souls, more animal than spiritual. Even the personages whom he painted in 1628 at the Spanish court have not the withered charm of a waning race. The weary Philip IV., cold Isabella of Bourbon, and pale Ferdinand are transformed into fresh, joyful, healthy beings. As in his historical paintings, so also in his portraits he proclaims the doctrine that physical and spiritual health are the greatest treasures bestowed upon mankind.

As our own time cannot boast of such health, Ru- bens’s works seem stranger than those of the remaining masters of the seventeenth century. We are too much accustomed to subtle and delicate charms to endure this eternal fortissimo. We are too weakly, too nervous for this crude, animal intoxication of the senses to have any further effect than to frighten us. But we can understand that after an age of oppressive, cerebral erotics such a perversely healthy sensuality must have followed. That Rubens himself regarded this activity in this spirit is proved by the motto over the door of his workshop: Mens sana in corpore sano.

II.— The Contemporaries of Rubens

Corpulent Flemish healthfulness is the charac- teristic also of other painters who were at the same time active in Flanders. Whether they paint nude women, ‘animals, or landscapes, they are all able workmen, sensual and coarse in spirit; men who in their overflowing health take intense delight in the material world.

Jacob Jordaens in particular is a genuine Flemish bear, and compared with the aristocratic Rubens a clumsy plebeian. Flis portrait of himself indicates this difference. In contrast to Rubens, who in all of his pictures wears a plush coat and golden chain, Jordaens, the descendant of a dealer in second-hand clothes, looks like a coarse-grained proletarian. The fact that he was a Calvinist gave his painting a different char- acter. It has only the Flemish heaviness and nothing of the noisy swing, the festal pompousness of the art of the Jesuits. He delights in massive shoulders, plump bodies, the brown fatty skins of satyrs, and the odour of the stable; and heaps up fishes, geese, chickens, pigs, sausages, eggs, milk, bread — fat and heavy nutriment — ■ beside the figures of his pictures. In his Adoration of the Shepherds at Antwerp, weather-browned fellows


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unwashed and uncombed, press forward towards a fat peasant woman. A child in a yellow jacket represent- ing Jesus holds an egg and a bird’s nest; a great dog and a woman with a mighty milk-pot stand beside him. Under the title of the Prodigal Son or Noah's Ark he paints animal pieces of exuberant power. The scene of the youthful Christ Teaching in the Temple is laid in a tavern, where the young lad astonishes fat burghers by his answers. The only antique picture that he painted is a carousal : the Infant Jupiter Nourish- ed hy the Goat Amalthea in the Antwerp Gallery. The obese, pursy nymph, the goat with her overflowing udders; the fat little Jupiter who, although holding the milk bottle, still yells for nourishment; the brown satyr and the succulent things lying upon the ground — all are highly characteristic of Jordaens, the painter of gluttony and love.

Usually he dispenses even with biblical and mytho- logical titles. The orgies of a kirmess are his true domain. In the Festival of the Three Kings an old man with a pouch sips from his wine-glass, a soldier embraces a fat maiden: all drink, shout, or eat. One has gone so far that his paunch will no longer hold the load, and even the cat staggers about, as if drunken, upon the floor. If instead of the above subject the proverb As the old sang so the young twitter is treated, there is little change. He only paints the joy of gluttony, how man eats, drinks, and digests; a Gargantua with an enormous appetite who


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has seated himself in the navel of the nourishing earth.

The following artists laboured more in the pompous, swinging style of Rubens; Abraham van Diepenbeeck, Theodor van Thulden, Cornelis Schut, and Jaspar de Grayer. Diepenbeeck used the theme of the Flight of Clcelia, and Thulden the Triumph of Galatea to display female bodies from all sides. Schut and Grayer supplied the need for religious pictures: in the beginning nat- uralistic and crude, later flashy and dazzling.

As a portrait painter Gornelis de Vos developed a great activity by the side of Rubens, and his portraits are characteristic of the representative courtly spirit which under the influence of Spanish etiquette came into Flemiish family life. He painted seldom individual portraits, but almost always monumental family groups. All of these people seem to dwell in palaces. The background is a pompous columnar architecture with boldly puffed and broadly falling curtains; or else the family is seated upon a veranda, with an open prospect on the palace and garden. Vos is older than Diepen- beeck and Jordaens, as is betrayed by his severe and almost rigid manner. Instead of the picturesque breadth of the younger generation, incisive drawing is the prevailing feature of his work, which is treated in the manner of Antonis Mor and Frans Pourbus. Of his smaller portraits, the Steward of the Guild of St. Luke, in the Museum of Antwerp, and that of his little daugh- ter in the Berlin Gallery are celebrated. In the forme-


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an ancient cellarer is polishing the table furnishings of the guild-house — an indication of the luxuriant life led by the artists of gay Antwerp. His portraits of children are represented eating cherries and peaches — an indication that with Vos, as with all Flemings, gormandising plays a prominent part.

The family groups of Gonzales Coques are distin- guished from those of Vos by their smaller size only. The impressive elegance is the same: every one wears the festal costume of the court; the walls are adorned with gobelins and pictures; columns and majestically falling curtains seem to belong to the necessary fur- nishings of every merchant’s house.

The change experienced by landscape painting under the influence of Rubens is shown by a comparison of the works which originated before and after his activity. Lucas van Valckenborch, Joos de Momper, Jan Brueghel, Hendrik van Balen, Roelant Savery, Sebas- tian Vrancx, David Vinckboons,and Alexander Keirinx, although they survive into the seventeenth century, have more in common with Patinir than with Rubens. Yet they were innovators. Patinir and Bias had not attempted to render distant views: their backgrounds did not recede, but were painted higher than the fore- ground. Accustomed to microscopic vision, they did not observe that in the distance the outlines fade and colours change. At a distance of miles the branches and leaves of their trees retain the same incisive forms and the same bright colour as objects of the foreground.


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Important progress was made by Gillis van Coninxloo. He was the first of Flemish landscape painters to realise the effect of air and light upon the appearapce of things, and sought to express the fading outlines and the soft- ened colours in the distance. In his foregrounds every- thing glitters in sharp brown, green, or blue; in a second plane the foliage is not drawn leaf for leaf but tufty; the dark green changes to a lighter bluish-green, and the colour of the tree-trunks from brown into greenish. Farther in the distance the colours become even lighter and fainter. Proud of his discovery of the three planes, Coninxloo did not tone down his colours grad- ually but distinguished them as if brown, green, and grey curtains divided nature into separate planes. The same opinion was maintained by those who fol- lowed him. Instead of their pictures becoming more uniform, the gaudiness constantly increased. A grey background with light blue perspective and dark grey hills; in sharp contrast a foreground of bright green and in the midst of this highly coloured nature little figures in gleaming garments — such is the sole content of their paintings. With jubilant pleasure they com- mingled bright plants and bright costumes, gaily- plumaged parrots and Olympian gods, ruins, cliffs, and waterfalls, in bright bouquets of red, green, and blue. Every picture resembles a palette upon which the most conspicuous colours are whimsically commingled.

In this preference for beautiful, succulent, and voluptuous colours they are genuine Flemish masters,


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except that the richness of detail, the clear and diminu- tive character of their works are no longer in harmony with the taste of a later period. “1 confess that 1, in consequence of a natural gift, am more adapted to paint very large pictures than small curiosities.” These words of Rubens are characteristic for the works of the following artists.

A single one, Jan Silberechts, would not be recognised as a Fleming. For his landscapes are neither rhythmic nor do they shimmer in moist brilliancy. In a picture at Munich he depicts a dairy-maid and a little girl sleeping by the roadside; pewter milk vessels are in front of them, and a few sheep are grazing by the road- side. The entire picture is composed of white, blue, light green, and grey. His Peasant's House at Brussels and Canal at Hanover are likewise extracts from nature with a directness and truth approaching the plein air painting of the present day. As Silberechts was one of the first landscape painters to discover that sunlight envelopes things not in a golden but in a silvery tone, he has in his modest, cool grey pictures created works of a very modern delicacy.

All the others are broad, dashing painters, who en- deavour to obtain pompous and festive effects. They mix rich colours and cover yards of canvas with trees, rivers, hills, and valleys. Rubens’s flashily gleaming and noisily dramatic style of figure painting is de- terminative for them also. Two hills on either side of a sandy road, along which two riders in red doublets ap-


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proach; in the distance blue hills under a deep brown sky — such is the landscape of Lodewyck de Vadder. Jacques d’ Artois found in a park near Brussels impos- ing, pretentious sceneries; and Lucas van Uden painted ponds full of moss and luxuriant meadows upon which fat cattle reposed. The two Huysmans painted Italian landscapes in warm, glowing colours, and Jan Peeters, the marine painter, likewise followed the programme of Rubens by painting the sea in moments of dra- matic disturbance.

Animal and still-life painting is represented by Frans Snyders, Jan Fyt Paul de Vos, Pieter and Adriaen van Utrecht. Like Rubens they paint animal pieces in which lions, tigers, stags, and wolves struggle in wild snorting passion. In their still-life they heap up dead game, fruit, fish, lobsters and oysters, pheasants and turkeys into mighty decorative pieces. As in the pictures of animals Flemish pleasure in action and passion is expressed, so in the representation of such succulent morsels, their love of pleasure appears. Like true epicureans they delight in the appearance of edibles, and their mouths water when in their pictures they heap up breakfast delicacies. Even the flowers which entwine the voluptuous Baroque vases of Daniel Seghers seem to smother in their overflowing fulness of life.

The entire Flemish art resembles a full-blooded body distended by powerful nourishment. All depict a creation which is healthy to the point of bursting and


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which foams over in comfortable corpulency. Rich garlands of flowers and gleaming fabrics, nude human bodies and wild animals, saints, geniuses, and bac- chantes are boldly wound into gay and sensual bou- quets. Van Dyck, the Benjamin of the school of Rubens, was the first to tread a different path.

III.— Van Dyck

After the Spaniards had painted the Immacu- late Conception and Rubens had celebrated sensual joy, the next stage had to be painting of the sad- ness which, according to the proverb, follows sens- ual joy. The flaming, quivering passion of Rubens was followed by the elegiac sadness of van Dyck.

Moon and sun — such is the position of the two in Flemish art; Rubens the radiant, gleaming, all fructi- fying orb; van Dyck the planet which, softly gleaming but not fructifying, pursues its quiet path. Beside the wild dramatist Rubens, he seems a singer of the world’s woe; beside the powerful, fruitful master an over-refined, weary roue. A soft touch of tender ener- vated sensuality characterises both his being and his art. If Rubens is the king, van Dyck is the knave of hearts in Flemish art.

He was descended from a family which belonged neither to the aristocracy nor to the people. His father, a dainty, spruce little gentleman, was a dealer in silks, who waited upon his distinguished customers with a very winning smile. His mother, a tender, pale


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woman, was celebrated for her artistic embroideries and is said, just before Antonis was born, to have embroidered the story of Susanna and the elders. This notice of his youthful surroundings is not unim- portant ; for before his pictures one thinks of the dull gleam of silken fabrics. It is easy to imagine how fond the lad was of passing his time in the shop, with what beaming eyes he looked up when a perfumed lady swept in, and how daintily he blushed when an- other nodded to him with friendly smile — and we may be sure that they all nodded. Refined, pale, of girlish delicacy, with blond locks and great dark eyes, with glance now ecstatic, now melancholy — he was the type that the ladies love. They all knew him, and he re- ceived many a tender glance when, clad like a prince, with white feathers on his hat, he sauntered through the streets of Antwerp. He had a right at a later period to depict himself as Rinaldo conquering the sorceress Armida by his beauty; the right to paint himself as Paris, hesitating as to which of the three goddesses he should award the apple of beauty. The choice was not an easy one for him at whose feet they all lay.

Even in the atelier of Rubens he took an especial position: not indeed that of Achilles among the daughters of Lycomedes (as might be imagined from this theme of one of his earlier pictures), but a maiden lost among wild boys. He preferred gallant chats with Helene to association with these crude daubers.


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At the fetes which Rubens gave, he was admired as an infant prodigy when, with his sweet voice, he sang Italian songs to the accompaniment of the ’cello. Later at Rome the contrast with his Flemish associates became even sharper. The raw fellows sat in their tavern in the Piazza di Spagna and got drunk; but though all of his countrymen came, van Dyck remained away. He preferred the more refined and elegant life of aristocratic circles. There was no festival to which he was not invited; no carnival in which he did not charm the ladies. He never went out without a follow- ing of servants, or forgot to wear his golden chains and new gloves. No wonder then that he was known as il pittore cavalleresco, the cavalier painter, among these Flemish bears.

Painters who do not harmonise with other painters are more comfortable in cities where no artists reside. The cavalier therefore left Rome for Genoa, where there were no Flemings to laugh at him, and no Italian painters to mock him ; but women, beautiful women, and cavaliers, weary young marquises. An air of withered decadence hovered over the city, which had once been so mighty, and with song and pleasure awaited its end. It was just because they saw the collapse coming that they sipped so eagerly the cup of life, with feverish, hasty draughts; and van Dyck stood upon the soil where he belonged.

He found a similar stage of activity when at the close of his life he migrated from Flanders to England. Here


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also was the sultry air preceding the storm, the soft, sensual atmosphere which lies over the earth before a hurricane descends. The old “ merry England” was in its last throes. A young king who loved art and women, a beautiful queen and delicate royal children; and in the background a scaffold and the dark gloomy figure of Cromwell, the man of the people. His studio was the meeting-place of the distinguished world. But although hardly thirty years old, he is no longer the bold coxcomb, the fastidious Paris of former days; for the “god of time clips the wings of Cupid.” He painted this subject in that picture of the Marlborough collection which sounds like a melancholy elegy upon earthly mutability, upon his own fate. He therefore awards the apple and finds a compensation for his lost youth in his new aristocratic splendour. For Mary Ruthven, his wife, is the granddaughter of an earl, and the son of the Antwerp silk-mercer is now a knight and belongs to court circles. True, the fire burns but feebly, the power of love is gone. Life has lost its sunshine for him, the favourite of women, and at the age of forty-two he closes his eyes.

His portraits of himself are a supplement to the course of his life. They occur in nearly all of the galleries, and beside those of other Flemings they create the impression that a man of a different race had lost his way among these crude, healthy people. Pale and tender, as if his pleasures extended far into the night, is the colour of his face; his lips tell of many


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kisses; white and aristocratic is the hand with the rosy well kept nails, and his hair is dishevelled as if the hands of women had passed through it. Van Dyck knew that he was handsome; he knew the charm exercised by a sentimental singer, when by way of a change he assumed the attitude of one weary of the world. He coquettes even with his decline.

His art has a corresponding effect. Van Dyck has in- deed painted pictures, like the Crown of Thorns and the Two Johns of the Berlin Gallery, which seem works of Rubens: except that the gigantic, herculean impression which he endeavours to attain seems rather affectation than actual power. As soon as he had progressed suffi- ciently to dispense with the forms and qualities of Rubens, he pursued his own paths, substituting delicacy for power, and attuning his picture to a minor instead of a major key. With Rubens we hear the clear fan- fares of a gleaming, joyful red; with van Dyck the soft tones of the violoncello, harmonious and subdued; a red that is never scarlet, but a deep carmine, and which seems softened by the funeral veil. With Rubens there are two motives : flesh and strife ; with van Dyck delicate bodies and gentle suffering. No man complains loudly, for a noise is plebeian; no one makes violent gestures, for only elegant poses are allowed in the salon. He never paints peasants, wild kirmesses, broad laughter, or shouting; for everything crude and coarse is ab- horrent to him. To such an extent did women dom- inate his life that his pictures seem love-letters to


VAN DYCK


JAMES STUART, DUKE OF RICHMOND AND LENOX

Metropolitan Museum, N. Y.


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beautiful women or recollections of love’s happy hours.

The antique is distasteful to him, because Rubens transformed it into a domain of rude bacchic sensu- alism. He only painted a Danae — love without brutal contact — and a Diana Surprised hy Endymion; as if some indelicate intruder had appeared at an inop- portune moment in the handsome painter’s studio.

From the Old Testament he selected, like Rubens, the scene of Susannahs Bath. In Rubens’s version a corpulent woman sits before us — a blue-eyed, fair- skinned Fleming; sparkling red and gleaming white are the prevailing notes of the colour scheme. Van Dyck painted a lithe, black-haired Italian, whose dark southern beauty gleams like gold from a deep brown landscape. While with Rubens a gigantic athlete springs over the wall to overpower the woman; in van Dyck’s picture both gentlemen are careful to preserve good form. One tendeny strokes her arm, while the other looks ardently into her eye and vows his love by Cupid.

From the New Testament and the legends of the saints, Rubens painted scenes which gave him the opportunity to display flesh, passion, and worldly splendour. For van Dyck mystic marriages stand in the foreground; and whether the subject is Rosalia, Herman Joseph, or Katherine, the theme is that platonic love which, by avoiding everything crude, wins the heart all the more surely. Or he paints himself in the likeness of his patron saint, Anthony, to


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whom the Madonna appears; or preferably as Sebastian because the negligee of this saint is so interesting. His pale body, bathed daily in essences, is covered only by a white cloth. Beautiful women, while ob- serving Sebastian, gaze in reality upon van Dyck to meet the warm, sensuous glance which, even when dying, he casts upon them. The days of flirtation were indeed followed by others of weariness. As Musset then wrote world-weary poems, so van Dyck is in such moments very sorrowful and distressed. He paints Christ, alone under a gloomy, nocturnal sky, with a quiet sigh giving up the ghost. No brutal executioners torture him, as in the pictures of Rubens. He dies resignedly, a martyr to love; and they who have slain, bewail him. Again and again he painted the Bewailing of Christ — lovely women bending in sorrowful pain over the body of a beautiful man. The ancient and sacred subjects of the Christian religion are for him leaves from the diary of his own life. Here he is coquettish, there sorrowful; but he always plays only with his own erotic and sentimental emotions.

His portraits are like his biblical pictures. He was the born painter of the aristocracy. It is true that as a portrait-painter his talent is limited. He is helpless in the presence of abrupt and self-willed characters. Although it was the time of the Thirty Years’ War, there is nothing military about his men. They wear no leather collars or jackboots, but black satin and silk stockings ; and are at home not upon the battle-field


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but only upon smooth parquetry. He was more adapted to be a painter of beautiful women than an interpreter of rugged manhood. To these pictures he could impart the entire tenderness and delicacy of his soul. Of exquisite taste are the black, mild white, or mild blue fabrics which he chooses for their toilettes; their movements are genteel and indifferent. To all the heads he imparts a subtle charm by the significant language of the eye, by a discreet smile or a dreamy melancholy expression. With fine perception for the eternal feminine, he understood how to read the hearts of women and perceived their wishes and secrets. Here a touch of life’s happine.ss spoiled, there a soft sensuality or languid weariness plays about the lips. He also succeeded admirably with the timid delicacy of aristocratic children and the genteel indifference of young noblemen, because in such subjects he painted his own aristocratic nature.

Often it even appears as if in his effort to appear distinguished he introduced affected, dandified traits into the aristocratic world. At the time of the Renais- sance, when the new states were in process of forma- tion, there were few social differences. All were equal who by their own ability had risen above the common herd, whether they were princes, poets, painters, or scholars. Now the separation of the classes had been accomplished, and the nobility of the intellect was no longer upon the same plane as nobility of birth. In the courts of Europe it was found tactless when the


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Regent Isabella entrusted Rubens, “a painter,’’ with diplomatic missions. Van Dyck is proud to have entered these aristocratic circles. In contrast to Titian, whose eyelashes did not quiver when the Emperor Charles V. picked up his brush, he considered it a great honor when King Charles I. dined at his table. The vanity with which he himself played the grand seigneur he imparted to others. As he himself co- quettes with his velvet cloak, his golden chain, and his well-kept, consumptive hands, so must all of his noble sitters do. The self-evident distinction of an earlier day is replaced by an intentional distinction.

Or is this sharp variegation of the aristocratic con- nected with the fact that van Dyck painted at Genoa and in England ? The parallel with Velasquez, the black knight of mediaeval Spain, presents itself. The princes whom he painted did not need to impress others by fine poses and select costume. They did not know that other than silken clothes existed, or that any other handkerchiefs excepting those of Brussels lace were used. They did not need to show that they were blue-blooded, because they were not acquainted with any other world. Van Dyck’s sub- jects have already been startled out of their aristocratic repose. Genoa was near its end, and in England threatening storm-clouds were gathering. When Hol- bein was there Henry VI 11. had caused a “ Dance of Death ” to be performed; now the people came to make their king dance. Charles I. appreciated this. How-


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ever enterprising he appears upon van Dyck’s portrait, his beard curled upwards, one hand coquettishly propped upon the hip, the other holding a walking- stick, and with an indifferent, mocking expression about his mouth, his glance nevertheless travels uncertainly into the distance, as if in unconscious foreboding of com- ing misfortune. All fear that the end of a long, beautiful day is approaching and the commoner is beginning to disturb their circles. Hence they are so cold and forbiddingly proud; therefore there plays about their lips a contemptuous Odi profanum vulgus et arceo: therefore they assume noble poses and show their blue blood as though it were a holy symbol. To the wild plebeian hordes which are storming upon them they oppose their whole enervated, aristocratic refinement, and they push back with white blue-veined hand the fists that grasp for the royal crown. Fated to die, they wish to die in beauty; a Ueu mourant sentiment pervades their existence.

The long and beautiful day of the ancient aristocratic world — order approached its end, and van Dyck was its evening star. Wan and pale is the colour of his last pic- tures, as if soft moonlight were spread over them. In Holland the sun of a new day had arisen, the sun which to-day illumines the world.

Chapter IV.— The Rise of Dutch Painting

I.— The First Portraitists

IN the midst of the aristocratic world of the seven- teenth century, Holland arises like an island of burgherdom. What was dimly foreseen in Eng- land when van Dyck painted had already been accom- plished here. After a long struggle Holland had become a republic; and immediately after the war a brilliant rise of the Dutch cities had begun. At a time when elsewhere the townsmen were poor, enslaved, and hungry, in Holland an almost premature bourgeois culture replaced the aristocratic. Clever merchants moved to Amsterdam and guided Dutch commerce into new paths. The surplus of popular power sought distant lands. Who would have thought in i 572 that a part of the Spanish Netherlands would become the possessors of a land like Java, would hold the Cape of Good Hope, and dominate the Asiatic trade? In the seventeenth century Holland had become the first commercial and sea power of the world.

If formerly art could only flourish where a splendid court, a pomp-loving church, or a refined aristocracy

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afforded it protection and support, now in rich, repub- lican Holland, for the first time, the bourgeoisie, with all its good and bad sides, became a power in the patronage of art; a change like that experienced by literature in the late middle age when the Minnesingers wer^ followed by the Meistersingers. There was no call for the decoration of palaces, or for ecclesiastical, painting, the reason for whose existence had been destroyed by Calvinism. But the love of home had been awakened. Every family occupied its own house, and did homage, as wealth was not lacking, to the principle, '‘Adorn thy home.’’ From an ecclesiastical, royal, noble art painting became an art for the home.

From this change further consequences resulted for the view of colour as well as for the subject-matter of painting. While the gay and brightly coloured Flemish paintings were intended for roomy, bright churches and splendid palaces, the Dutch were placed in narrow half-dark rooms, “where even the dear light of heaven breaks gloomily through painted glasses.” In harmony with their destination for gloomy, brown-panelled rooms, lighted by little bullseye glasses, is the soft, rich light and shade of the pictures. With the Flemings grandeur, decorative movement, and conspicuous colours; here even in colour a sentimental and home-like quality. As to the subjects of Dutch paintings, scenes from everyday life and the landscape were all the more opportune because the Hollanders saw reality transfigured by poetic light. As they had for


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long years been compelled to battle, they gratefully en- joyed the pleasures of life. Their own hearth was the world for them, indeed the very soil of their home was the creation of the inhabitants, who protected it by dykes against the ocean and had in bloody struggle torn it from the enemy. These conquests were cele- brated in art. They did not think of transporting themselves into distant worlds of beauty, because what they saw about them seemed beautiful enough. They knew nothing of the myths and legends which were a recreation to the distinguished people of other lands; but they wished to see pictures of their own life and all the luxury with which they were able to surround themselves, treasuring art as a glorification of the happiness of home. One is interested in cattle, another in tulips and poultry, a third in the ships which bring his goods to port. One loves to hear a jolly farce, another finds that the view from his window upon the landscape is very beautiful. The subjects which dom- inate the bourgeois art of the present day were first depicted in this bourgeois land in the seventeenth century.

The movement began with portraiture; for it is natural that the rich burgher should begin his role of Maecenas by perpetuating his own image. Through portraiture he finds the way to art. He wishes a counterfeit of his personality, and as photography has not been invented, he sits for his portrait. An in- credible number of portraits was painted in the first


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quarter of the seventeenth century. Every trade and profession is represented in the works of the Amster- dam Museum; the admiral and the merchant, the pastor and the professor, the counsellor and the ship- owner. The portraits of women are the pendants of those of the men. Occasionally the entire family, along with the servants, is united, the elder daughters with their husbands, the young children playing with their toys. These works already show that a new race of men had come upon the stage. Rubens and van Dyck, in their portraiture, seldom descended below a count; even when as an exception a burgher was presented, the picture is pervaded by a noble, courtly air. They love the rhythmic elegance of the toilette, and fair, round gestures; their hands are white and delicate ; the man is more at home upon parquetry, the woman is not a mother of a family but a lady of the world. The dogs, indeed, but not the servants, are counted among the family; and the columnar archi- tecture with the curtain completes the impression of pretentious magnificence.

A democratic atmosphere, on the other hand, en- velops the soil of Holland. The third estate appears — men with raw, plebeian spirit, who are proud enough to wish to appear nothing higher.

“ Ehrt den Konig seine Wiirde,

Ehret sie der Hande Fleiss.”

Everything is simple, unpretentious, bourgeois, and moral. The men are angular, rugged, and self-con-


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scious; the women jovial and honest. They have nothing of the cosmopolitan polish, the social routine of the Flemish noble ladies, and are not dazzled by the splendour of an elegant life. They sit before us dressed in plain costumes, their hair under a thick cap, the neck concealed under a "stiff collar. They are accus- tomed, basket on arm, to do their own marketing, and themselves to wash their blue aprons or stiff ruffs. The hand, which with the Flemish women is long, slender, and aristocratic, is one accustomed to labour and to wield the broom. If they endeavour to appear elegant, their toilette is pathetically tasteless. Here and there, with the taste of a cook dressed up for Sunday, they display a bow, ruching, or ribbon ; they hold a fan as if it were a kitchen utensil. The children, who are all princes with van Dyck, are here so awkward that they will only pose as models if the painter gives them an apple or a bunch of grapes.

These family portraits are supplemented by portrait groups of the corporations. The palace of other lands was replaced in Holland by the guild-house and the town-hall. The rising power of the guild life is likewise characteristic for the bourgeois trend of the time. The £ite were replaced by the men of the hearth and the rule of the masses supplanted the oligarchy. At first the societies of marksmen played a similar role to the veterans’ societies of the present day. Having during the long wars provided the fatherland with gallant defenders, they now rejoiced in amusing war-play.


FRANS HALS


BANQUET OF THE OFFICERS OF ST GEORGE’s GUILD

Haarlem Gallery


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Every society had its guild-house and exercising grounds, where once a year a solemn shooting match occurred. The victor was proclaimed with the sound of cannon; then there was a banquet at which the winner was presented the prize offered by the city, usually a golden cup. The posts of captain, officers, and standard-bearer were assumed by rich young men who delighted to wear uniforms ; and, because they were fond of being painted in this uniform, such group pictures formed an important part of Dutch painting. Every member paid his dues and was therefore per- petuated by a master’s hand.

But there were also guilds for more serious purposes. The love of charity and interest in the care of the poor and sick which had been awakened during the years of war still existed when these had passed. In all cities of the land hospitals for the sick and asylums for orphans, old men, and women were founded. It was the pride of the burgher to belong to the governing board of such institutions of charity, and to be handed down to posterity in such a capacity.

The craft guilds also experienced a new prosperity. The guild of the clothiers, especially, was an important industry which contributed much to the prosperity of trade. Like the military corporations, these industrial chambers had pictures of the masters of the guild painted for the guild-house. The submission of their accounts is always the moment chosen. At a table men are seated; those who review accounts, control the


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treasury fund, and announce that, in their conduct of affairs, everything is done in accordance with the regulations.

Even the learned corporations, especially the phys- icians’, gave occupation to the painters. Precisely at that period, in the century of the great war, surgery became an important science. In Leyden, as in Delft and Amsterdam, dissections were publicly conducted in the great hall called the theatrum anatomicum. The nearest benches were intended for colleagues of the professors and the invited guests, the middle for the students, and the rear for the public. In the middle of the amphitheatre was a table with the corpse, where the professor, surrounded by his assistants, per- formed the dissection. And as in Holland everybody had his portrait painted, portrait groups were also donated for this anatomical lecture-room, represent- ing the professor in the midst of his assistants demon- strating upon a corpse or skeleton.

The oldest portraits of military societies date as early as 1 530, and are in the style of the present photo- graphs of soldiers of the reserve. No artistic effect, but resemblance alone is the object desired. As all paid the same dues, each one demanded the same considera- tion, and wished to be seen in full face and have both hands in the picture. These works are therefore no portrait groups but juxtaposed single portraits. If the number of subjects is too great for one row, they are arranged in several rows, one above another, so that


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the upper faces look through the spaces between and above the lower row. This phase of portraiture is represented in the Amsterdam Museum by the works of Dirk Jacobs, Cornelis Teunissen, and Dirk Barents. The following generation, the treasuries of whose so- cieties were in a position to pay higher prices, was not content with such simple portraits. Instead of busts they demanded three-quarter pieces or full-lengths, which necessitated the placing of figures in action and assigning some uniform motive to what had formerly been a mere juxtaposition of heads. This motive the painters at first found in representing the archers march- ing forth and at a later period in portraying them at a common banquet. The group of 1 588 by Cornelis Ketel represents the culmination of this new develop- ment, and the seventeenth century then completed what the sixteenth had begun.

In 1618 Cornelis van der Voort painted the picture of the regents of the Amsterdam Hospital for Old Men, and before this his soldiers with the lances — those iron, unbending men who fought the Spaniards at Breda. In 1624 Werner van Valckert painted his two principal works, the four male and the four female regents of the Hospital for Lepers. Nicolas Elias Pickenoy, who was softer and tamer, understood the treatment of coloured costumes in a manner befitting the drawing-room, and was therefore especially prized as a painter of female portraits. Aert Pietersen, the son of the still-life painter Pieter Aertsen, painted,


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in 1603, the first group of surgeons, the Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Sebastian Egbert. To this same Dr. Egbert is dedicated the earliest work of Thomas de Keyser, who afterwards practised forty-five years in Amsterdam.

Not only in the capital but in all the smaller towns, portrait painters found work in abundance. In The Hague the rugged and powerful Jan van Ravestyn painted old swashbucklers with cuirass and sash, who had been in the field and preserved a warlike taste all their lives. In Delft the court painter of the house of Orange, Michel Mierevelt, developed an extensive activity, in a somewhat sober and manufactured style, and dashed off not only the Stadtholders, William I., Maurice, and Frederick Henry, but also the scholars of the land. In Dordrecht resided the ancestor of the Cuyp family, Jacob Gerrits Cuyp, a very busy painter, while in Utrecht Paulus Moreelse and Willem van Honhorst executed numerous commissions.

More than all of these cities, Haarlem had suffered in the war with Spain. After having fallen into possession of the foe in a desolate condition, and having been later destroyed by conflagration, it now became the most joyous of all Dutch cities. The painter of the Haarlemites therefore, is particularly the painter of young Holland. One thinks not only of rugged burgherdom and democratic self-confidence but of assertive bravery and lively animation, when the name of Frans Hals is mentioned.

II.— Frans Hals

Think of a people enslaved and oppressed for decades; compelled to witness the restoration of Catholic monasteries in its land and the proclama- tion of laws of mediaeval severity; a people which had, in a bloody struggle, thrown off the foreign yoke and achieved political and religious freedom. A bold and fiery generation grew up, conceived during the thunder of cannons in the battle and reaching manhood at the time of victory and fame. For such a genera- tion the air they breathe has something exhilarating. They fear neither hell nor devil, but move about with clashing sabres and challenging glances. Their life is passed in revel and riot, in knightly war-play, at the banquet amid the clink of glasses. Bayonets flash and the rattle of the drum sounds. Should the Spaniards ever again come, these men, like their fathers, will be found at their posts.

Frans Hals was a true son of this sword-clattering, mad, rollicking Holland. Even in advanced years he felt like a Corpsstudent, joyous and light-hearted, youthful and bold; an anti-philistine who would have considered the word bourgeois as an insult. ^ One can imagine him in a state of exhilaration strolling through the streets at night, breaking windows and

1 For the benefit of the general reader it may be advisable to state that the Corps is the oldest of the varieties of student organisations wearing colours as insignia and devoted, among other purposes, to con- viviality and fighting duels; and that the term philistine is applied by them to all who are not students. — Ed.


beating the night-watchman or in lieu of the night- watchman, his own wife. When this poor creature went to a better land, without ever keeping the year of mourning, he married Lisbeth Reyniers, with whom he is seated in the celebrated picture of the Louvre. Both are no longer young and have experienced many storms. Hals may have cracked many a joke during his work, and often called his wedded wife “old girl.” Jovial and indifferent to fate, as if he himself perceived the comic side of his married life, he looks down from his portrait. Yet he never deserted good Lisbeth; for she was no spoiler of fun, never gave curtain lectures, but could herself raise the wine-glass. It almost seems as if the refrain of the old drinking-song,

“Altes Herz, was gliihest du so,” were inscribed, half ironically, under the picture.

This portrait of himself acquaints one with the re- maining works of Frans Hals. As he himself remained all his life a gay student, so he made his Haarlemites gay students, casting such bold glances and moving about as briskly as if they were always on the point of jostling some philistine. Their life is passed between the Mensur and the Kommers.

“O selig, O selig, ein Fuchs noch zu sein!”»

His three earliest works in the museum of Haarlem

‘The Mensur is the rather harmless duel practised by German stu- dents; the Kommers a convivial celebration consisting principally in singing and drinking. A Fuchs is a student during the first year of his membership of a Corps or other society; his characteristics are supposed to resemble those of the American college freshman. — Ed,

are archers’ banquets, and it is no accident that Hals, the joyful genius of the Kneipe, invented this type of picture. A fresh love of pleasure and rugged health laughs from all the faces. These are the men who themselves had taken part in the defence of Haarlem, and now merrily enjoyed what they had accomplished; men who had smelt powder, had seen blood flow and passed the night on the field of battle. In a later work, the Archers of the Guild of St. Adriaen are united under the trees of their garden, armed cap-a-pie and prepared for the march. In the picture of 1639 representing the Departure of the Guild of St. George, he uses the motive of the staircase to bring new life into the accustomed arrangement into rows. The colours are bold, fresh, and joyous: red sashes and bright blue banners, the rich still-life of fruits and lobsters, and the silvery light streaming through the treetops.

In his smaller portraits also, boldness, joy in life, and self-confident alacrity flash from every eye. If he paints children they do not weep or look serious, neither are they bashful and awkward. However small they are, they do not fear their elders, but look boldly and laughingly into their eyes. Even the nurse is full of a consciousness that her baby will become a field marshal or a Maid of Orleans. And these types of men ! Here a little hunchback feels as brave as if he had just slain the giant Goliath; there a clergyman swings his book in a warlike manner, as if he wished to bring it down upon the heads of the Catholics; there again, a young

man with his knees crossed cracks his whip as if in challenge. In another picture of the Liechtenstein Collection (Vienna) there stands a young man, van Huy- thuysen by name, with his hat on one side, one hand upon his hip, the other playing with his sword hilt — as indescribably swaggering as if he had just declared war upon the united states of Europe. This is one of those portraits which reflect the spirit of an age. No scholar but a painter, Frans Hals, is the historian of Dutch liberty. If one thinks of the portraits of Velasquez, one feels what different worlds these two artists repre- sent. There the refined distinction of the ancient Span- ish nobility; people who seem quite apathetic, because others do not exist for them; here a defiant assertion of the commoner, the almost ludicrous vanity of the Dutch, who considered themselves the first people, the acme of the civilised world; who, confident of the morrow and proud of themselves, their intelligence and their ability, their fencing and their uniforms, paced about with clanking swords. Velasquez’s people are distinguished gentlemen who can indeed wield the sword, but never have the opportunity of drawing it, because every one else is for them a pariah; those of Frans Hals cannot rest until they have scars of which to boast. In van Huythuysen he has painted the soul of the epoch and the soul of himself, the splendid Corps student of art.

What his portraits do not say is related in his genre pieces. In them everything is united in which the artist himself took pleasure — laughing, singing, music and drinking, exuberant sturdiness and bold abandon. The honeymoon of young Holland was celebrated in drinking and sensuality. Here a coarse bearded fellow, his cap awry upon his bald head, jestingly holds a girl in his lap, there the grinning Junker Ramp holds a goblet. There follow those delightful improvisations of light and characteristic portrait painting: the Young Musician in Amsterdam; the Boys making Music in Cassel ; the Drinking and Flute Playing Boys at Schwe- rin. Then figures of the tavern and the streets : joyous topers and laughing girls, half-drunken fiddlers and old sailors' wives; Hille Bohhe, the witch of Haarlem, with the owl upon her shoulder and the pewter mug in her hand.^

In works of this sort Hals has achieved his high- est in the representation of instantaneous expression. A sudden laugh distorting the face, a keen glance, a bold gesture — everything he seizes in its flight. All gradations of laughter, from a pleasant smile to a hoarse roar, are depicted with the directness of the instantane- ous photograph. This telegraphic style is his lan- guage, and in order to catch the flitting expression, he has created a technique in which every line is pulsat- ing life. He wields the brush as if it were a sabre, and treats the canvas as if he stood opposite to the enemy upon whom he was showering blows. Two

» Professor Mother refers to the example in Berlin, of which there is a replica, with slight variations, in the Metropolitan Museum of New York.— Ed.

hundred years before Manet he founded Impressionism.

It is true that he lived eighty years and more — too long; for while he remained the same the world changed. The joyful time of riot and revelry gradually passed away.* Holland had attained its desires, the soldiers of freedom of a former day, in their gallant, knightly costume, had become old and thoughtful. Bowed under the burden of years they still held meetings, but now for quiet counsel, no longer for a joyful banquet or a bold march. Even their clothing was changed; they no longer wore red sashes and glittering armour but solemn dark clothes; they were no longer marks- men and joyous feasters, but dignified patricians of rigid Calvinistic spirit.

These changed conditions are reflected in Hals’s later works. In place of the joyful gaudiness which he formerly loved, an almost monochrome tone prevails in his portrait (1641) of the Regents of the Hospital of St. Elizabeth. A dark green table cover, a grey wall upon which a white spot resembles a map in black bevelled frame, and in front old people in dark costume — such is the content of the picture, which, in its serious characterisation and refined beauty of tone, reveals the boon companion of former days as a quiet, clarified master.

But it does not appear that his art still corresponded with the taste of the day. His free, student-like nature was no longer suited to the more settled views. He was warned in court to “abstain from drunkenness and similar excesses/’ Commissions were no longer forthcoming, and the sheriff’s officer appeared in his house. In 1661 he was declared exempt from taxes on the ground that he had no possessions. Later, when he had passed his eightieth year, the city fathers roused themselves and decided to grant him a life pension of two hundred gulden.

In this noteworthy year, 1664, when free Holland provided so royally for one of its greatest artists, Hals’s last works originated. He who began as a gallant cavalier with soldiers’ banquets now painted the regents, both male and female, of the hospital for old men of which he had himself become an inmate. And how they appear! The consciousness of carrying a hussar’s sabre is no longer his. Contemptuously he dashed the mighty spots of colour upon the canvas. Anxiously and timidly the old maids and the worthy gentlemen gaze upon us, as if provoked and angry over the dirty, slashed garments and the brown linen in which the aged master has vested them. Barthol- omaeus van der Heist knew how to make velvet and satin gleam and cloaks flutter, and painted the gentle- men elegant and the ladies beautiful; Abraham van den Tempel, who imparted to them the aristocratic dignity of the Flemings, clothed them in black silk and white satin and let them wander upon park terraces amidst imposing colonnades; such artists had already become the ideals of those bourgeois who wished to play the role of barons.

In 1666 the aged master Hals filled a pauper’s grave. Nine years later his name is again mentioned: when jolly Lisbeth, his wife, received a weekly allowance of fourteen sous in addition to her pauper’s pension. The life of Frans Hals thus reflects the history of Dutch painting; beginning proudly and boldly but ending in sadness. A single artist whose life lasted eighty years saw how democracy was succeeded by com- fortable philistinism, and philistinism by an apish imitation of courtly manners.

III.— The Contemporaries of Hals

Hals is the centre about which the art of the first half of the seventeenth century is grouped. As he painted portraits and genre pictures, and in his portrait-groups also depicted still-life, his influence extended in all directions, and he became the model of portrait, genre, and still-life painters.

Jan Verspronck and Jan de Bray painted military groups which, in their fine grey tone and vivid anima- tion, resemble^^ose of their master. Such subjects continued to be popular among the successors of Hals; for the Dutch burgher, seated in his comfortable room, was proud of his services as a soldier, of the marches and dangers which he had experienced and loved to relate to his children. In the gazettes he read of the things which were occurring in unhappy Germany; and straggling marauders still wandered through Holland itself. After having his portrait painted, the


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burgher extended his patronage of art to recollections of his soldier days. Bivouac scenes, quarterings, and plunderings were the first subjects selected; then the occupation of gallant officers out of service, consoling themselves with charming girls over wine, with gam- bling and love for the hardships of military life. Dirk Hals, Frans’s younger brother, Pieter Godde, Jan Olis, Jacob Duck, and Antony Palamedes are representative of the group. “The old soldier sits at the window, empties his glass, and blesses peace and peaceful times.”

Others progress from pictures of soldiers to scenes from popular life. The “ third estate,” which had now become dominant, pointed proudly to the fact that beneath it there was yet a “fourth estate.” As in courtly France the plebeian manners of Monsieur Dimanche and Monsieur Jourdain furnished the aris- tocrats with cause for laughter, so in Holland the burgher laughed over the uncouth conduct of the common people. Tavern life and tobacco play a special role in these pictures; for the pipe was as modern in 1600 as the bicycle was with us t^li^ty years ago, and beer taverns were first customary in Holland. In the paintings of Jan Molenaer one sees such figures of drinking comrades and singing couples, pretty, fem- inine, pleasing pictures, in which the soft light of the candle is daintily interpreted.

Although a Fleming by birth, the adventurous Adriaen Brouwer likewise belongs to this group. After


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his flight from his father’s house he took service with the Dutch. With them he defended Breda against the Spaniards, and he appeared with a Dutch troupe of players at Amsterdam and Haarlem. Even in Span- ish Antwerp he acted so much the Hollander that he was thrown into prison. His paintings also, in their homely coarseness and simplicity, belong more to the Dutch than to Flemish art. In the smoke of obscure taverns, over beer and strong drink, he wandered about among drunken plebeians. Boors throwing dice and playing cards, quarrelling, stabbing each other, and the next morning having their thick heads bandaged by the village barber — such is the content of his pictures. It is certainly a one-sided, almost disgusting theme; but his colouristic charm is so great that one quite forgets the content and only admires the brilliancy of execution. Brouwer possessed a native genius for painting. There is nothing reflective, nothing laboured in his work; each stroke of the brush suits just where he placed it. It is related that when he could not pay for a drinking- bout, he would rapidly design a sketch upon paper in the tavern, and send it to the art dealer. Most of his pictures seem to have originated this way; for he never considers the technical finish. Each one of them preserves the outlines of a sketch, and for this reason his works are a delight for every artistic eye.

In landscape painting there were at the beginning of the seventeenth century two opposing tendencies. Cornelis Poelenburg, Dirk van der Lisse, Bartholomaeus Breenberg, and Moses van Uytenbrock relate to Dutch burghers how things looked in fair Italy; painting small landscapes in the environs of Rome and Tivoli, peopled with shepherds and satyrs, with goddesses and bathing nymphs. Everything is executed with calligraphic elegance, and with a pleasing though superficial charm. But while in these little pictures that “arcadian” landscape painting whose chief representative had been Albani passed away, others began to paint the scenes of their native soil, which they well knew how to treasure, because it had been bought with blood. Italian scenes were replaced by Dutch environs; a flat country with high sand-dunes and distant perspective. The nymphs and goddesses were changed into peasants, fishermen, drivers, wood-cutters, hunters, and sailors. The earlier of these landscape painters — Hans Bol, Hendrik Averkamp, Adriaen van de Venne, and Esaias van de Velde — could not dispense with broad narrative; for something interesting had to happen in the pictures, if they were to receive the applause of the bourgeoisie. Popular sports upon the ice — at that time recently introduced, — sleigh-riding, markets, and hunts are the usual subjects of these works. Then the artist began to dispense more and more with figures and emancipate himself from the demands of the purchasers. The way across the fields to the woods, the slope of a sand-dune ; a village amidst trees and shrubbery animated by peas- ants and waggons, by a troop of riders or marauders ; the fiat country with church towers and windmills — such subjects recur in the works of Pieter de Molyn and Hercules Seghers. Jan Porcellis took up his quarters on the coast and observed the sea in its grey colour and monotonous beat of waves with quiet, true Dutch objectivity. Thus was the soil prepared for the great landscape and marine painters of the following epoch.

The walls of dining rooms were decorated with still- life paintings: these too a glorification of the luxury which the opulent burgher -nOw enjoyed with thankful pleasure. Formerly, when Holland was a province, he was satisfied with herring, beer, and bread; now he can afford Rhine wine and oysters.

Among these painters, Pieter Claesz, Heda, and Frans Hals the younger depicted silver goblets, dishes, and gleaming plates with ham, oysters, and peaches in very refined harmonies. Their works reflect the joyful satisfaction of a burgher in his possession of a good wine-cellar and fine table-utensils.

Only the still-life pictures painted in the old uni- versity city of Leyden have a different character. In such a worldly age, so devoted to intense enjoyment, these masters alone thought of the change of earthly things. The pleasure of the table was not painted by Pieter Potter, the father of the celebrated Paul; but skulls, prayer-books, hour-glasses, crucifixes, fragile glasses and clay pipes, and slowly dying candles — such things as formerly St. Jerome had gazed upon when, brooding over the changefulness of earthly things, he arranged them in groups with the inscription Vanitas


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beneath. The pictures remind us that the Dutch of the seventeenth century were not only merchants but also theologians.

They had suffered for their belief in the days when Alba raged in the Netherlands; and they are fond of being represented in their portraits with the Bible in their hands. Proud of the political freedom which they had won, they are even prouder of the Reformed church, which in 1 572 arose from fire and blood. Their state was founded upon the model of the republic of Geneva. The special city of the theologians was Leyden, where the most prominent scholars of the land assembled and did for Holland what a century earlier Luther and Melanchthon had done for Germany. The States’ Bible, completed nine years later, became the palladium of the new church, and was soon spread abroad in a million copies. In this book, which founded the modern Dutch language, the people found a new inspiration in the charm of holy legends, and became absorbed in the poesy of Old and New Testament narratives. The Old Testament, especially, acquired a significance which it had never before possessed in the Christian church; for the Dutch believed that a similarity existed between the fate of the people of Israel and their own, and regarded the prophecies of the Old Testament as wonderful promises for them- selves. They identified Palestine and the Babylonish captivity with Holland and the Spanish domination.

From this feeling of kinship with the Israelites the


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philo-Semitic sentiment which at that time passed over Holland is best explained. It was the first place in which the Jews found a home. Even in the beginning of the seventeenth century there were at Amsterdam four hundred Jewish families, most of them from Por- tugal. Soon afterwards the complete emancipation came. Some of the Jews, like Ephraim Bonus, became prominent physicians, while others stood at the head of the great transmarine projects.

Dutch poetry also has a biblical and Israelitic trend. Not only has Marnix, the poet of the wars of liberation, the effect of the Psalmist; Camphuysen’s Edifying Songs resembles an Israelitic songbook, Vondel and Daniel Heinsius introduced Old Testament dramas upon the stage. In his musical setting of David’s psalms, Huygens hopes “only to obtain immortality if he can reveal in his own works something of the beauty and power of the King of Israel.” The preachers, in dis- cussing contemporary events, refer to Old Testament parables in the pulpit.

By this means a new and wide domain was opened to art also. Although there were no saints to glorify and no churches would endure altar-pieces, the artists possessed the Bible, into which they might penetrate with their whole souls. As the Dutch considered themselves the representatives of the Israelites, the old legends suddenly appeared in a new light. Pieter Lastmann was not strong enough to lift the treas- ure out of its hiding-place; his works are crude, dry,


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vulgar, and heavy; but — he was the teacher of Rembrandt.

IV.— Rembrandt

A picture by Rembrandt in the Dresden Gallery represents Sampson putting Riddles to the Phil- istines; and Rembrandt’s entire activity, a riddle to the Philistines of his time, has remained puzzling until the present day. He has been called the master of light and shade; but this is not significant, since many others, Correggio, for example, attempted the solution of the same problems. He has been praised as the creator of the religious art of the Ger- manic North, which is equally meaningless, as Durer has the same right to this fame. Although all the aids of science have been set in motion, he can neither be apprehended nor explained. As no other man bore his name, so the artist, too, is something unique, mocks every historical analysis, and remains what he was, a puzzling, intangible Hamlet nature — Rembrandt. The clearness and measure of the Hellenic spirit which dominated the Renaissance finds a contrast in the gloom of sentiment in Rembrandt’s works. He has the same relation to the masters of the Renaissance as Ossian to Homer, and beside the Olympians he seems a Nibelung, a hero from cloudland.

It is perhaps possible to approach Rembrandt only if one resolves to interpret his pictures not as paintings but as psychological documents; for this is his most 38


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individual characteristic. However important the few commissions which he received (like the Anatomy Lesson, the Night Watch, and the Staalmeesters) they did not make him what he was. He is only Rembrandt when he holds aloof from the public, as is the case in most of his paintings. He was the first artist who, in the modern sense, did not execute commissions, but expressed his own thoughts. The emotions which moved his innermost being were the only things which he expressed upon the canvas. He does not seem to think that any one is listening to him, but only speaks with himself; he is anxious, not to be understood by others, but only to express his moods and feelings. No painter, but a human being speaks to us. What he created and how he created it can only be understood by regarding his works as a commentary upon his life.

He was born in 1607 in the old university city of Leyden, where Bogermann just at that time began his great work of the translation of the Bible. His father was a miller, his mother the daughter of a baker, and he himself was the fifth of six children. His youth was spent in a serious and religious atmosphere. His mother, in particular, must have been an honest and pious woman; in her son’s numerous portraits she holds in herdap the Bible, her favourite work. It is pleasing to think of the lad sitting at his mother’s feet and listening to the old legends, or wandering about alone in the open field; for his father’s house was at the end of the city just where the two arms of the Rhine


REMBRANDT


PORTRAIT OF SASKIA

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unite, and even farther out stood the famous windmill. He probably wandered for hours along the Rhine; saw the ships with their coloured sails, the sand-dunes in their melancholy brown, the fresh green pastures where in philosophic calm the cattle reposed; gazed upon the grey sea with its boundless horizon and upon the heav- ens with the ever-changing passage of the clouds. A foreboding of the infinity of the universe was even then revealed to him.

At first he was uncertain as to his profession, and was enrolled as a student in the university; then he studied with Swanenburch, and later with Lastmann at Am- sterdam. But after only six months he returned to his father’s house and began anew with painting. His earliest pictures are attractive only in so far as they reveal the early technical progress of a great master. He carefully posed his model, about whom he then arranged into a complete still-life the contents of his atelier: pigskin folios, damascened knives, pieces of ar- mour, and swords. In his studies of light and shade he followed the problems which had been popular in Dutch paintings since Honthorst. In the Stuttgart and 'the Nuremberg pictures representing an old apostle, probably Paul, in prison, the sunlight falls upon the head of the aged man. In his Money Changer of the Berlin Gallery he attempted a night piece: an old Jewish banker examining a coin by candle light, as in the Money Changer of Quentin Massys. The thought of the changefulness of this world and the joy in it


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is probably the basic idea of this picture. If pro- fessional models could not be obtained he made shift with his relatives, whom also he bedecked with the garments to be found in his atelier. In a picture at Amsterdam, his father, the worthy miller, wears an iron armour and a cap with a high feather, and has turned his moustache martially upwards. It was the time when all Holland stood under the spell of the warrior’s profession: such is the best explanation for this preference for military bearing.

At the same time he familiarised himself with the technique of etching. Just at that time, during the great war, beggars from all Europe wandered over the roads of Holland. Rembrandt drew them as he saw them ; hunchbacks, lame, blind, and drunkards. He was especially fond of drawing himself in the most differ- ent costume and with ever-varied expression. Here he is thoughtful, there he rolls his eyes; here he starts back in terror, there smiles broadly, and there again his lips are contracted in pain. It seems as if he were seeking his own personality, which was a riddle to himself. But no less remarkable than the difference in his own portraits is his versatility as an artist.

His activity at Leyden closed in 1631, with a Holy Family and a. Presentation in the Temple. His first attempt at life-size figures is the Munich picture from sacred history, depicted in the manner of Honthorst, as occurring in a Dutch home. Carpenter’s tools hang upon the wall, and both Joseph and Mary wear


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the workaday clothes of 1630. In a painting at The Hague, a great, wide church opens to view; it would seem that, after having painted people in narrow cells, his father’s house had become too small, and the uni- verse was revealed to his sight. This picture is at the same time the first instance of the struggle of light and shade, as if in foreboding that his life also would be shaped into a similar struggle. In his picture of himself in 1631 he stands bold as a conqueror, his hand braced upon his side; and, although a book-plate, his etching of the Ship (Bartsch iiH), may signify the reckoning between past and future. One sees the head of Jesus, a nude woman forms the mast. So he, en- circled by enticing phantoms, sailed into the sea of life.

When he came to Amsterdam woman was at first the centre of all his thoughts. With the joy of a student coming from the constraint of the paternal roof into a strange university city, he yielded to the new impressions. A whole series of feminine studies arose, partly sheets of such coarse sensuality that they are usually preserved as “secret” in the cabinets of engravings. But soon studies of different character arose, like Le lit franfais, expressing a distaste for the sexual. Rembrandt’s life was a constant struggle between these two natures; the desire of the sensual man to plunge into the world, and the disgust of the dreamer who did not find there what he sought.

1 This reference is to the number of the etchings in Adam Bartsch's catalogue of the master’s engravings: Catalogue raisonne des ceuvres de Rembrandt i797)* — Ed.


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He was otherwise occupied in fulfilling, in a serious and objective manner, the commissions for portraits which he received. If he had formerly clothed his relatives in armour, helmets, and strange fabrics, he now confines himself strictly to contemporary Dutch costume. As de Keyser had done before him, he de- picted it in its monotonous seriousness, its dark colours, and its symmetrical cut. Only in the introduc- tion of action into the portraits, does he occasionally de- part from the traditional, as in the portrait of the ship- builder receiving a letter from his wife. By this innova- tion alone his first portrait group, the Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp, is distinguished from earlier works. Even Mierevelt and de Keyser had in their pictures of sur- geons not thought of unifying the scene, but had sub- mitted to the wish of the sitters in placing the chief emphasis upon individual resemblance, fslo one looks at the professor or the corpse, but all are occupied with themselves or the observer. For Rembrandt the in- dividual is only a part of the work of art. All take part in the event, of which the strongly lighted corpse forms the centre: Tulp demonstrates, and the other surgeons attentively follow his lecture.

His preference for gay and fantastic costume could only be gratified in his portraits of himself. In one he wears a storm-hood adorned with a feather or in another a black velvet cap and a moustache trained boldly upwards, in a third a velvet mantle with armour and a golden chain. When Diirer painted his Madrid


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portrait with the gay coat and feathered cap he was like Rembrandt also in 1632, a suitor. In a por- trait of the dispersed Haro collection there appears for the first time a youthful female head with fine delicate complexion, blue eyes, and light blond hair; Saskia van Uylenburgh makes her appearance in Rembrandt’s art. Her cousin, the art dealer Hen- drik van Uylenburgh, had ordered a portrait of his cousin from Rembrandt. They saw and loved. After the completion of the portrait she continued to visit his studio, and the next portraits at Stockholm and the Liechtenstein Gallery are no longer commissions. The sober Dutch costume is replaced by splendid, fantastic clothing. In the former she wears the red, gold-em- broidered velvet mantle which Rembrandt had brought from Leyden; in another he painted her as her chaper- one was arranging her long golden hair. In the bust portrait of the Dresden Gallery she laughs from under a red velvet hat; in that of Cassel she shows the fine lines of her profile; in the St. Petersburg picture she is costumed as a Jewish bride adorned with pearls and flowers and holding a shepherd’s staff in her hand.

In fact, all the pictures of these years are connected with Rembrandt’s betrothal. The sudden, seemingly illogical appearance of quite different subjects is only to be explained by the fact that all of Rembrandt’s works symbolise personal moods. It was so strange that he, the son of the miller of Leyden, should have won this refined daughter of a patrician, almost against


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the will of her relatives; he therefore paints himself as a prince of the nether world abducting Proserpina. It was so strange that this dainty little doll loved him, the awkward, coarse-grained giant; the figure of Samson therefore arises in his mind. When Saskia’s guardian was opposed to the engagement, Rembrandt recalled the biblical scene in which Samson wishes to visit his wife and finds the house locked. “ I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her; therefore I gave her to thy companion,” the old man calls down, while Rembrandt as Samson threatens with his clenched fist. When at last in June, 1634, the wedding was celebrated, it gave occasion for the picture Sam- son s Wedding: Saskia, dainty and serene, sitting like a princess in the circle of her relatives; he himself appearing as a crude plebeian, whose strange jokes frighten more than they amuse the distinguished company.

After he had so long followed public taste, it now amused him to shock the bourgeoisie; he felt himself at odds with the whole world when he painted Samson Destroying the T emple of the Philistines. The early years of his marriage were spent in joy and revelry. Sur- rounded by calculating business men who kept a tight grasp on their money bags, he assumed the role of an artist scattering money with a free hand; surrounded by small townsmen most proper in demeanour, he revealed himself as the bold lansquenet, frightening them by his cavalier manners. He brought together all


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manner of oriental arms, ancient fabrics, and gleaming jewelry; and his house became one of the sights of Amsterdam. Like the princess of a fable, Saskia, decked with gold and diamonds, strutted about, so that her relatives thoughtfully shook their heads. In a picture in Buckingham Palace he paints her examin- ing gleaming earrings before the mirror, while he places a collar about her neck. In the picture of the Dresden Gallery he sits as a cavalier at table, a sword at his side and a velvet cap with curled ostrich feather upon his head. Like a giant playing with a doll, he holds dainty Saskia upon his lap, and smilingly raises his glass of wine. This is no artless pleasure, but Samson throwing down the gauntlet to the Philistines ; a giant stretching his mighty limbs in preparation for a struggle with all existing views.

At the close of his life he once painted a picture of himself grinning at an antique bust. He probably felt a similar feeling in painting the Abduction of Ganymede, that jolly farce which shocked the educated Hollanders as much as Bocklin’s Bath of Susanna shocked cultured Germans. At that time Rembrandt experienced his artistic “years of indiscretion.’’ One need not assume that he wished to imitate Rubens. The first years after his marriage were the times when he let himself loose as a man and as an artist ; for thus may be best explained the coarse affectation of force and the wild impetuosity of his works during this period. The cycle of the Pas- sion of Christ which he began in 1 633 for the Stadtholder


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Frederick Henry — a commission, which cannot there- fore be considered a psychological document — is the principal example of this phase of his style. Arms gesticulate, faces are contorted, and the costumes are puffed in Baroque rhythm. Even as a colourist he speaks fortissimo: he could not depict the splendour of the sky blinding enough or the raging of the elements wild enough.

Gradually he became more serene, more serious. The world which he wished to shock became indifferent to him. Even his marriage had brought gloom as well as sunshine. In 1635 when Saskia became a mother, he drew the jubilant, light-flooded etching of the Annunciation to the Shepherds; now, when his first child died, he commenced the picture of Abraham Offering Isaac. His home, in the Breestraat in the midst of the Jewish quarter, became his world. The fantas- tic Orient, the great and ancient culture which the Jews had brought over from the Moorish middle ages into prosaic Holland, attracted him. The artistic fig- ures of the Ghetto moved about under his window: grey-bearded men with high turbans, veiled women in gleaming fabrics. With many of them, as with Ephraim Bonus and the Rabbi Manasseh ben Israel, he was on friendly terms. The son of youthful Holland, which as yet had no traditions or artificial forms of life, felt himself attracted by these bearers of a culture many thousands of years old. He stood isolated among his countrymen, like a foreigner whose language they


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did not understand ; an orator who preached to ears as deaf as those which heard Christ on the Mount ; a seer among the blind, like Tobias whose eyes were opened by the mercy of heaven. ‘Among the people of the Ghetto he found appreciation for his lonely art. His house also was a piece of the Orient on occidental soil. Smyrna carpets and Arabian curtains, burnooses and caftans, fragments of architecture with polychromatic Moorish columns filled his studio. By means of portieres and gleaming glass windows he created gloomy corners, through which a dreamy light vibrated in mysterious harmonies. As his aim had formerly been bravura, passionate emotion, large size, and harsh colour, his eye now finds repose in the mild gleam of velvet, the warm splendour of silk, and the sparkling shimmer of gold and precious stones. Of tropical and luxuriant landscapes, of costumes and people he built a fairy architecture of exotic splendour; in the midst of a prosaic world he created a poetic one of his own. A romanticist, he dreamt himself far away from the grey of every-day life in a distant and enchanted world.

The beauty of the female body was also revealed to him in its gleaming splendour. If at the beginning only coarse models had been at his disposal, he could now glorify the beautiful body of Saskia. Stretched out gracefully and voluptuously upon a white couch, she is called Danae in the dainty nude of the Hermitage In the picture of The Hague Museum he shows her as


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Susanna The light illumines the little face with pale splendour, caresses the shoulders, and plays upon the body in white, golden reflection. As little as in the first instance Rembrandt thought of the antique, did he here think of the Bible.

Since he had discovered this gleaming wonder-world of light, he felt no inclination to fulfil commissions for sober portraits. In the Dresden portrait he stands with a guinea-hen in his hand, and the light, falling fully upon the plumage of the feathers, presents a bouquet of grey, brown, yellow, and red tones, in which it shines, gleams, sparkles, and glitters. Henceforth all por- trait heads are for him such studies of light effects, a playground for rays of light. The Lady of Buckingham Palace is encircled by soft, golden light, and her toilette, in its select elegance, is one determined not by the sitter but by the painter himself. He would hardly have painted the portrait of the preacher Ansloo if the contrast between the dark red tablecloth with the light grey background and the black clothes had not yielded such refined colour harmonies. His celebrated Night Watch of 1642, representing the departure of the stand- ard-bearer Frans Banning-Cock, is more of a fairy picture than a portrait group of archers. From a gloomy courtyard they step out into blinding sunlight. How this different light is painted, which encircles the figures, here sunny, there gloomy; with what master hand Rembrandt runs through the entire range of his colours, from the lightest yellow through all shades


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of light and dark red to the gloomiest black — this has often been pointed out and justly celebrated.

But one can also understand that the soldiers who gave him the commissions to paint their portraits for the guild-house were little satisfied with the manner in which he conceived their commissions. Not only is the composition which he arranged, for pictorial reasons, contrary to military discipline; positive, sober, and clear-headed, the Hollanders were incapable of appreciating his treatment of light and shade. Accus- tomed to the dry objectivity of de Keyser, they missed resemblance in these heads emerging from the gloom. No military guild ever thought of applying to Rem- brandt again; for other artists were more compliant with the wishes of their patrons. The allegory number- ed '‘Bartsch 1 10'’ perhaps gives expression to Rem- brandt’s feeling over his loss of popularity. The fashionable painter has fallen; but the artist Rembrandt arises, and, free from all fetters, he may now preach the gospel of a new art.

Unfortunately he lost something far more important than the favour of the public in the year — Saskia. A short time before she had presented him with a boy, and Rembrandt had during this time of hope painted the Meeting of Mary with Elizabeth and the Sacrifice of Manoah, in which Manoah and his wife kneel thank- fully before the sacrificial fire while the angel who has announced the birth of Samson rises in the air. Now he was alone in his house in the Breestraat, where


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everything reminded him of the years of his happiness; alone with the lad, to whom the sufferer had given birth shortly before her death. In a drawing showing himself nursing a little child with a milk bottle he ridicules himself as a widower. If even before this his relation to the outer world had been dissolved, his art now become wholly that of a lonely man who only seizes the brush to express the thoughts of his soul.

Before this, Dutch nature had said nothing to him. For the only suitable background to the glittering pictures of the Orient was that tropical splendour which he painted in his Susanna at The Hague or the Maodalen in Buckingham Palace. Even the Storm in the Brunswick Museum, his first landscape, conducts us into a land of dreams. Black clouds pass over the sky, and a dazzling light falls upon the walls of a city and upon trees quivering in the storm; torrents rage and jagged cliffs tower aloft. His loneliness after the death of Saskia drove him out into nature; into that solitary Dutch landscape where the washerwomen labour, and the mills flap their wings. With a beating heart, and perhaps as astonished as when formerly he wandered along the banks of the Rhine at Leyden, he stood in the presence of the great Mother and learnt how to feel her breath even where it but softly sighs. In his sketch-book he seizes upon the simplest, poorest things: the canals with their bridges and bordering houses in his walks through the streets of Amsterdam; if he wanders farther, fallen huts, hay-stacks, and


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THE SACRIFICE OF MANOAH


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peasant houses. Here he is charmed by a silhouette of trees, there by a windmill rising upon a lonely hill. A bit of pasture or a path losing itself in a field is suffi- cient to attract him. His wanderings did not extend far; the quiet environs of Amsterdam, Sloten, Kronen- burg, and Zaandam, were his farthest excursions. Nor did he need to seek for motives or majestic lines; for something much finer, the poetry of the plain, had been revealed to him. In some of his etchings one has the feeling of wandering lonely and self-absorbed over a great plain. However small they are, they seem pervaded by the infinity of space. By these drawings Rembrandt advanced beyond the centuries and became the father of “intimate'’ landscape painting. In them he is the greatest space composer of all times; for a simple suggestive line suffices to make the eye measure infinity.

In his other works the memory of Saskia at first prevailed. For a long time he lived with her in spirit, and as in the Berlin picture he painted her a year after her death, so his other pictures are pages from the book of memory dedicated to his wife who died so young. It is no accident that just at that time he etched the Death of Mary; that just now, when he himself had no domestic happiness, he painted again and again the Holy Family, or Mary with the Child approached by the shepherds in timid adoration. With the Good Samaritan he thought of the hours when he himself sat at Saskia's deathbed. The introduction of the


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supernatural into the material world occupied his thoughts; that dream life with its forebodings and visions; eyes which open again after they have seen death; the secrets of the realm of shadows which the risen Lazarus or Christ could reveal. He represents Jesus appearing as a spirit to the disciples at Emmaus, and shows Him calling Lazarus from the grave. But Christ seems to him not only a worker of miracles; He is also the loving comforter. Once he had painted the Sermon on the Mount: about the Saviour a crowd busy with its own affairs and hearing nothing of His words, and in the foreground a dog, symbolising the thoughts of the masses. Now all who are troubled or heavily laden press about the Blessed One, and He eases their pain, comforts and teaches them, and points to the better world beyond. He is no longer a demigod, but the plain carpenter’s son of Nazareth, who speaks simply to the simple.

Precisely because Rembrandt’s paintings were never ecclesiastical commissions but the ‘'outpourings of the heart,” he has shown, more than all religious painters, what a treasure of poetry, tenderness, kindness, and love slumber in the ancient legends. The purpose of Catholic religious painting was to create general types of Christianity. God must receive the faithful in His house with courtly splendour and with dazzling adorn- ment. This pompous and proselytising element, so predominant in the work of Rubens, is as distant as possible from Rembrandt. Expressing his sentiment


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only, he relates biblical stories as we imagined them when as children we sat at Christmas-time by grand- mother's knee. Instead of the agitation of Rubens’s works, with Rembrandt self-restraint prevails; instead of the oppressive ecstacy of the Spaniards, a soulful inwardness, something sad and suppressed. Although he uses no gestures and no dramatic actions, he never- theless expresses the most delicate emotions of the soul. If Rubens’s art is like a palace with a showy highly coloured facade, but without an interior where human suffering could find refuge, so Rembrandt’s works are a tresor des simples. To this discreet trend of his art, which speaks only in whispers and makes faint suggestions, his attitude towards colour corre- sponds. In the older works when he was the warlike Samson, he loved sharp contrast of dark shadows and harsh light. In the later pictures which originated at the time of his brief and happy love, the air also glitters and gleams as if full of gold dust. Now a melancholy greenish tone prevails ; a soft evening light whose mild rays daintily and softly quiver through the gloom.

A spirit like Rembrandt’s was of course too com- plicated to express itself in a single direction only. Many other scenes chosen from Bible and legend show that woman still influenced his thoughts. He painted V eriumnus Deluding Pomona, Christ Forgiving the Adulteress, and a new version of Susanna, in which she is no longer alone, but the two old men in the back- ground gaze with quivering desire upon the young


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woman. As in his younger days, he again works after the feminine model. Often they are hideous women and in such cases Rembrandt renders everything de- formed in the sense of severe modern realism. As formerly in his Lit jrangais, it now sometimes seems as if he wished to conquer his passion for women by representing actuality in its disgusting ugliness.

His troubled soul at length found repose in the blandishments of his housekeeper Hendrikje Stoflfels, at that time twenty-three years of age. He first painted her in the portrait which survives in the Louvre, bedecked like Saskia with pearls and jewelry. In a picture of the National Gallery (London) she sits clothed only in a chemise, placing her foot in the water; the evening sun casts its rays upon the legs, the chemise, and the blond hair. In the next picture the model has become his beloved, and is depicted as a modern Bathsheba receiving a letter from Rembrandt, her David.

From this time something reposeful pervades Rem- brandt’s works. As he was happy again and enjoyed domestic comfort, his melancholy as well as his desire for women had disappeared. A simple woman, kind and self-sacrificing, was the comrade of his life; she provided for the household and occupied herself with Titus, who had become a fine lad. In the picture of the Kann collection (Paris) he seems a little prince of the Northland, a dreamy Hamlet. She had also


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brought into the house her mother and another relative, a wild boy from the country.

These years were the most fruitful in the activity of Rembrandt’s life. After he had himself again found a home he etched those "‘intimate” portraits like that of Jan Six, in which the man and the home, the figure and its surroundings, are so skilfully interwoven. He was especially attracted by the peacefulness and quiet contemplation of the aged: that great repose which seems so serene, but in which the mighty stream of memory flows. The portrait of Hendrikje’s vener- able mother, with its mild and thoughtful expression, rises before us. In her he has painted the clarified, passionless repose which gradually became the pre- vailing characteristic of his being. In the etching of 1650 he has represented himself in no fantastic costume, but in an ordinary garb, his hat upon his head, stand- ing at the window absorbed in thought. Such is the Rembrandt to whom Hendrikje gave a new summer and who awaited a beautiful and peaceful autumn. He held himself more and more aloof from society and seldom left his home: that paradise which he had created for himself, and where, far from the banality of every-day life, he lived as a lonely aristocrat of the spirit.

But in the meanwhile the civil authorities had discov- ered that such a life offended against the law. On the 23d of July, 1654, Hendrikje received a summons to appear before the consistory to answer to the charge


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of leading an immoral life with Rembrandt the painter. Three times she was summoned but failed to appear. Not until the fourth warning did she “ac- knowledge her guilt and was severely punished there- for, warned to repent, and forbidden to partake of the Table of the Lord.” This scene also, the accusation of Hendrikje by the neighbours before the authorities, was transformed in Rembrandt’s mind into a biblical picture: the Accusation of Joseph by Potiphars Wife. The Egyptian woman is common rumour, bringing the accusation with hypocritical indignation; Potiphar listening with severe judicial mien, the Reformed con- sistory; and poor Joseph, bashful, blushing like a girl, and casting down his eyes, is the good Hendrikje.

This was the prelude of the dramawhich now followed. Rembrandt, through whose hands thousands had passed, suddenly became penniless and loaded with debts. All his earned and inherited fortune had gone, and even the fortune of his son Titus, which he managed as a guardian, had disappeared. He had promised the dying Saskia to be a good father to Titus, and in memory of this hour painted himself as Esau tenderly holding young Jacob in his arms. Now he had forgot- ten the claim of his first-born. Little Cornelia, the daughter of Hendrikje, with her rosy, blond, childish, face, had brought new sunshine into the house. So he painted himself as Jacob blessing Ephraim, the younger, and forgetting Manasseh, the elder. Rembrandt brooded over his troubles, and this mood is reflected in


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the picture of an architect at Cassel, in which an old man with white, beautifully lighted hair sits at his table covered with papers, lost in deep reflection. He endeavoured to raise new sums of money; but the loans which he wished to obtain were refused him. He himself was responsible for his fate, and the public of Amsterdam, which had already dropped him, could wash its hands in innocence. At this juncture he painted the picture of Pilate IV ashing his Hands in indifferent calm.

In response to the pressure of his creditors on the 26th of July, 1656, he was declared a bankrupt. He who had such a horror of all business matters had to negotiate with the bailiffs. Externally everything seemed indifferent to him. He even had the repose to etch the portraits of the two men appointed to conduct the bankrupt proceedings, the porter of the bankruptcy court, Haaring, and his son, the auctioneer. But to the same year also belongs the etching of Christ Ex- posed to the Multitude. When the public posters on street corners announced that the collection of the painter van Ryn would be sold at auction; when tailors and glove makers appeared in the quiet house of the Breestraat in order to examine the exhibition of his collections, there arose in Rembrandt’s mind the picture of Christ at the Pillory surrounded by a mock- ing, plebeian throng. At the same time he etched the Stoning of St. Stephen, the protomartyr; with a thought of himself as one of the many great men whom the


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ignorant world had since then stoned. Rembrandt, who wished to found a new religion in art, was, while he lingered in the realm of his thoughts, thus denied by his people. So he paints the Denial of Peter and Moses in wild anger breaking the tables of the law.

A rich shoemaker bought his house. He himself led a nomadic life until Hendrikje, associated with Titus, began an art shop in order to support the family by the sale of his etchings. In the Rosengracht, at the entrance of the Jewish quarter where Rembrandt had formerly lingered so much in the antiquaries’ shops, lay the little house of which they took possession, and where his last works were created. For although he was robbed of his possessions; although he sat in a poor, bare attic room and his meal consisted of herring, cheese, and bread, Rembrandt struggled on. “ I will not let thee go except thou bless me,” are the words which Jacob spoke when he wrestled with the angel; and with this picture in the Berlin Gallery the last period of Rembrandt’s artistic activity begins.

His power is unbroken, but the sentiment and the colour of the picture is different. He no longer paints the magic harmonies which flooded his house in the Breestraat, but the cold, sober daylight of little attic rooms — no longer gorgeous garments, but rags. Every- thing is attuned to gloomy brown and blackish-grey tones. His art is that of a poor man who has himself experienced Solomon’s '‘All is vanity.” In a picture of the Louvre (1660) he stands before the easel in an or-


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dinary brown coat, with a white cap upon his head, his face unshaven, his skin withered, his hair grey, but with brush and palette in his hand still painting. To himself he must have seemed a Franciscan in his brown woollen cowl, and it is therefore no accident that one of his last etchings is dedicated to St. Francis, il poverello, who also had nothing of his own. With this brown woollen cloak which he himself wore, he also draped his models. He drew it over the mother of Hendrikje, who also has suffered much and has become even more wrinkled, more careworn, and kills time by paring her nails. He draped with it the old man whom he painted as St. Matthew listening breathlessly to the word of the angels, and over the tired pilgrim of the Weber Gallery. In the former painting the theme is inspiration which the human soul receives from heaven; in the latter, the fervour of the prayer which comes from the depths of the soul. But Christ es- pecially, the great sufferer, the God of the lonely and suffering, again becomes the centre of thought to him whom fate had cast down; as in the picture of the dispersed Demidoff collection, the suffering, downcast man, with the mild, kindly eyes, and the Ecce Homo in Aschaffenburg — that phantom-like picture with the expression of a supernatural repose.

One more commission, although as a charity, was assigned to him. A former pupil, the marine painter, Jan van de Capelle, who as the possessor of a dye-shop was known to the members of the clothier’s guild, ob-


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tained for him the commission to portray that august body. Rembrandt, who in 1642 had transformed a sober group of soldiers into a fairy picture, fulfilled this task without thinking of experiments, just as it had been assigned him and as earlier artists had done before. But such commissions seem to have been followed by evil fortune. As in 1642, after the completion of the Nighi Watch, Saskia had died, so in 1664, after the completion of De Stalmeesters Hendrikje breathed her last. As if in foreboding that he would survive quite alone, he had drawn as early as 1659 the etching Youth Surprised by Death: a young woman and a young man, Hendrikje and Titus, in whose way a skeleton with an hour-glass steps. Now that Hendrikje was dead, his own end rapidly approached. His last pic- tures show in an awful manner the changes in him. His face is puffed, his cheeks are flabby, and his ex- pression contorted by pain. The bandage about his cap indicates chronic headache, and the eyes, dimmed by drink, seem half blinded. Weyermann describes how he slept during the day and wandered about in the taverns at night: and the distinguished Chevalier Sandrart saw him wandering with ex- pressionless eye among the second-hand stores of the poorer quarter.

His eyes will no longer permit him to etch; but the brush, or at least the mahlstock, he does not relinquish. He applies colours with a knife, paints reliefs. I'hus originated the Family Group of the Brunswick Gallery


REMBRANDT


THE ARTIST AND HIS WIFE

Dresden Gallery


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(whomever it may represent) , and a strange picture in the Amsterdam Museum, in which he the lonely man thinks of the aged Boaz, leading home a youthful bride. His last dated picture (1668) is the Crucifixion of Christ in the Darmstadt Gallery. While one soldier fastens the fetters upon the Redeemer another draws him up by a rope. “It is finished!'’ He died upon the 8th of October, 1669, Titus also having preceded him. An inventory established that excepting his artist’s materials and woollen clothes, he left nothing behind him. His life was a tragedy of fate, the tragedy of the first modern artist, it has been called.

Chapter I.— The End of Dutch Painting

I.— The Genre Painters

WITHIN the bounds of Dutch art, that of Rem- brandt stands isolated. However much his pupils superficially resemble him, his works are the revelation of a genius, theirs are merely good oil paintings. It is related that Rembrandt in the begin- ning devoted much time to his teaching. Himself the most individual of all artists, he encouraged individual- ity in others, and had the atelier in which they laboured partitioned off, that no one might influence the others. But while he protected them from each other, he could not rescue them from the power of his own personality. Whatever was transferable, they adopted: fabrics, costumes, and the treatment of light. In the beginning, when he was the' most admired painter of Holland, it was their highest pride to have their works taken for his; but later, when the favour of the masses turned from him, they trod more conservative paths, along the broad road of the easily comprehensible.

As early as 1630 Jan Livens and Willem de Poorter were inmates of his studio at Leyden. The former,

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whose principal work is a Sacrifice of Ahraham at Brunswick, is also known by his woodcuts, which were formerly ascribed to Rembrandt. De Poorter’s Sol- omon s Offering to False Gods is derived from Rem- brandt’s Simeon of 1631. Jacob Adriaen Backer, one of the first to study under him at Amsterdam, became a portrait painter, and all his life remained true to Rembrandt’s style of 1632. His portraits are powerful, simple, and objective works. Ferdinand Bol, who in his first paintings (the Flight into Egypt, the Angels at the Grave of Christ, and Tobias) often adopted Rembrandt’s figures, became later a tame and com- prehensible gentleman, by which policy he won the favour of the public to the same extent that Rembrandt sacrificed it by his eccentricities. By means of beauti- ful types, gleaming columns, and majestic draperies he sought to create in his pictures the impression of distinction, which was missed in those of Rembrandt. From Rembrandt to van Dyck: such is the path tra- versed by Govaert Flinck: and as this Flemish, im- pressive tendency corresponded with the wishes of his sitters, he became the most popular portraitist of princely personages and corporations. Gerbrand van den Eeckhout remained truer to the principles of Rembrandt. Such pictures as the Adulteress of the Amsterdam Museum were influenced by Rembrandt not only in subject, but in treatment of light. Jan Victoors is drier and more prosaic; Solomon Koninck is in his pictures of hermits little more than a copyist.


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At the beginning of the decade following 1650, on the other hand, several excellent masters issued from the school of Rembrandt. Women peeling vegetables, young girls standing dreamily at the window, old women at the spinning-wheel, carcasses of animals; such is the content of the quiet, delicate, and very modern pictures of Nicolas Maes. The light plays upon the red table-cloth, grey walls, and bluish white jugs. In pictures like his family scene with a little drummer boy, every chronological estimate is silent: they might be exhibited to-day and signed Christoph Bischop. Not until later, after he had visited Antwerp, did he begin to give to his portraits something of a theatrical dignity. Carel Fabritius, who died at the age of thirty at the explosion of the Delft powder magazine, would, if he had lived longer, have probably become one of the most important masters of Holland. His few pictures belong to the pictorial miracles of the school. In all of them a man speaks who did not imitate Rem- brandt, but followed independently the magic of light- movements and the charm of refined colour-effects. His Starling in The Hague Museum, especially, has as modern an effect as a study by Degas. The best landscape painter of the school is Philips Koninck, to whom Rembrandt had revealed the poetry of the wide plain. Covered by low shrubbery, the flat landscape stretches endlessly away; the air is clear and affords a view into the far distance. Another follower of Rembrandt was Jan van de Capelle a marine painter,


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the most insinuating and subtle colourist of all of his class in Holland. While others had to paint pictures of the ships for their owners, Capelle, who was a rich man and only used the brush for his own pleasure, could place weight upon the purely artistic. He has interpreted the flitting play of light more delicately than the objective and prosaic Dutch painters other- wise do. Aart de Gelder had the courage to enter , Rembrandt’s studio in those years when Rembrandt had become the laughing stock of children. As de Poorter reflects the detailed, youthful style of the master, de Gelder shows that of the half-blind sufferer, who could only labour with mahlstock and palette- knife. Many pictures by him, like Abraham with the Angels, the Ecce Homo at Dresden, and Boa{ in Ber- lin are of such powerful and broad technique that they were formerly considered works of the age of Rembrandt.

It is, by the way, only an echo of Rembrandt’s spirit if his pupils occasionally paint biblical subjects. All other Dutchmen knew nothing of the dream life, but rested firmly and contentedly upon the earth, happy in their mediocrity: quiet settlers who tilled their little fields with diligence and intelligence.

In spite of its world-wide commerce Holland was at bottom a philistine little country. Even to-day, he who treads the halls of one of the old patrician houses of Amsterdam is amazed at the precise neatness, cleanliness, and order, and at the philistine ennui and


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the self-satisfied comfort which reign there. All the copper utensils shine, and in the great chests which are carefully dusted every morning lies the substantial store of linen lasting for generations, which was the pride of our grandmothers. Along the walls, as cor- rectly placed as soldiers, stand the chairs; and upon the panelling of the walls, arranged with equal regularity, are the faiences, the silver flagons and mugs. Above hang the pictures, small cabinet pieces, which are dusted with the same care as the furniture, and in their colour harmonise with the soft light of the rooms. Delft ware, very carefully executed line-engravings, and maps, reminding us of the world-wide possessions of a seafaring people, are also displayed. In the garden nearly everything is straight-lined, stiff, or laid out in circles; the trees as well as the sod; and in rectangular carefully tended flower-beds tulips and hyacinths grow. Even the facades of the houses gleam in snowy whiteness; for they are painted once or twice a year, thanks to the careful cleanliness which is a proverbial characteristic of the Hollanders. Everything in the country shows order and a sense for the practical ; clean houses, as well as the well-trimmed rows of trees grow- ing in faultless regularity about the quays. Even the landscape is divided by streams, canals, and the straight boundaries of fields as if in accordance with a mathe- matical design.

The art of Holland harmonises with the general character of the country. Even to-day its painting is


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somewhat bourgeois and limited in its self-contented phlegm, inimicable to change. It possesses neither fantasy nor poetry. One breathes the soft, regular warmth of the great fragrant stoves, which stand in the wealthier Dutch houses. A contemplative contented- ness and a comfortable provincialism characterise everything. The painters confine themselves to the representation of their home, the stately harbours of their ports, the quiet simplicity of their life, the heavy weight of their cattle, and the fertile soil of their fields. Strangers to all revolutions, to all impetuous boldness, they follow their thoughtful temperament and form a quiet nation in which no tumult sounds. Everything is tasteful and of an almost tiresome excellence. As they paint to-day, they painted two centuries ago. Every one has his small field which he tills un- ceasingly, and paints one picture which he repeats all his life.

Genre-painting, which in the beginning found its subjects only in scenes of soldiers’ life, was greatly ex- tended to include all life — progressed from soldiers to the portrayal of the peasantry, and then to the repre- sentation of city life.

It is difficult to acquire a taste for the peasant pictures of the seventeenth century. Since the days of Millet we have gained too serious a conception of the ethical importance of art and of man’s labour to find pleasure in the puppet-show of the old Dutch masters. The mighty words, ‘‘I labour,” which first gave to


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peasant-painting its significance, had not penetrated their consciousness. Not one of all these painters dares to plunge into the depths of life. They make a mum- mery of peasant life, and let their heroes experience so much pleasure that the question of their sustenance is not even touched. No one seeks the people at labour, in the field, behind the plough and harrow, with the scythe, spade, or hoe. Drinking, revelry and the dance, quarrelling and cracking of skulls are the only themes. The romances of roguery which at that time appeared as a special branch of literature afford a parallel. The types also are strangely alike. It is not to be supposed that there were ever such stupid-look- ing peasants, such sawed-off, thick-nosed beings who vegetated in half-animal stupidity. It is likewise incredible that peasants appeared so charming and clean as they appear in other pictures; that they had such clean nails, and trod a measure with the dainti- ness of a cavalier, taking a dancing lesson. The latter made the peasant artistic by endowing him with the charms of the salon; the former by treating him as a fool over whose stupidity and coarseness the refined burghers could laugh.

The first path was taken by the Flemings. When David Teniers, inspired by the successes of the Dutch, began to paint peasant pictures, he chose the most dapper youths and prettiest girls; he idealised them and gave them a touch of distinction, and made the peasant popular as an artistic subject by paring his


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nails and smoothing down his coarseness. All act like well-bred people; they dance, skip, and sing; but with decency and reserve. However extended the repertoire of his figures appears, they are in truth only changing marionettes, whose words are written down, whose gestures are prescribed, actors in peasant’s garb, who never forget that the public before which they appear consists of very proper ladies and gentlemen.

Adriaen van Gstade, who stands at the opposite pole, tries to raise a laugh by the stupidity of the types, the drollness of their mien, and the comical situation. Boorishness and good-natured stupidity is his domain. Beginning with tavern quarrels and their rude scenes in the spirit of Brouwer, he later yields to Dutch phlegm, and substitutes contemplative peasant in- teriors for the debauches of an earlier period. The people no longer rage and quarrel, but eat, drink, and smoke in the tavern. A fiddler goes through the village, and by his music attracts the people to the window; or the family sits listening in an arbour before the house door. Although a reflective, peaceful, and idyllic tone pervades his last works, he cannot dispense with the cheap joke of distorting the heads into long- nosed caricatures.

His younger brother, Isaac van Ostade, who was par- ticularly occupied with the traffic of horses and waggons, in front of rural taverns, is more serious and objective. Horsemen approach, the peasant-carts make a halt, horses are being shod, and beggars loiter about the road.


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As he avoids constrained effects and approaches things as a simple observer, his pictures are more sympathetic to us than the others. We can no longer appreciate the vulgarity and cheap jokes of Cornelis Bega, Richard Brakenburgh, and Cornelis Dusart. Their “hearty humour and vulgar clownishness no longer provoke laughter, and their paintings show that along these paths progress was no longer possible. To say nothing of the circumstance that the blunt tone which prevailed in the school of Frans Hals no longer found appreciation in the proper Holland of the decade following 1650, the trouble was that the painters discovered no new traits in peasant life. The stupid, coarse, and crude remained their circumscribed domain. As they saw in the peasant only the voracious, drunken, quarrelsome boor, the peasant picture of the seven- teenth century degenerated into a hollow farce, and not until the nineteenth could it, borne by a new social and literary movement, be seriously revived.

Jan Steen, the Moliere of Dutch painting, has at least done the service of having enlarged its subject- matter. In his portrait of himself he appears grinning with a tankard at his side. This hilarious trend, a boorish, Falstaffian humour pervades most of his works. The tavern is the place where as a man and a painter he is most at home. Peasants quarrel and throw mugs at each other's heads : a drunken man is dragged home by his comrades: a quack, in front of a tavern, offers his remedies, or an old scamp courts the waitress. But


ADRIAEN VAN OSTADE


THE OLD FIDDLER

Metropolitan Museum, N. Y,


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the jolly landlord of Leyden was not exclusively a painter of tavern humour. He also paints children’s festivals and scenes of the toilette, serenades and weddings in which acute, mischievous, and witty traits replace crude clumsiness. At times he has even a didactic and moralising air, and he swings a satiric scourge almost like Hogarth. As it was won, so it is spent; As the old sang, so the young pipe; What avails light and spectacles, if the owl does not wish to see; Here no medicine will help, she is love-sick — such are the characteristic titles of the works in which he satisfied those who demanded artistic qualities in a picture, as well as those who wished to read amusing stories from it

A finer variety of genre-painting is that which, look- ing aside from all narrative and representation of character, places the weight upon artistic qualities exclusively. All of these painters were jesters and entertained the correct mynheers by narrating the dissipation and crude conduct of the people. Some did it in the form of crude drollery : others were quieter and more sedate. This drastic crudity was followed by the epigram, the farce by the novel. But the start- ing-point still remained the anecdote. The poetry of the simple and the charm of the purely pictorial had not yet been discovered : for the Dutch burghers appreciated the subject-matter rather than artistic qualities. The problem was to educate the burgher to art. So the clowns were followed by the painters. The


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themes became indifferent — simple scenes from every- day life without action or episode — and the beauty of the painting lies in its purely technical qualities. There the people grin, gaze at the beholder, and play a comedy for him; here they are among themselves and do nothing interesting, but dream, read, write, make music, or amuse themselves. From the colour and treatment of light alone the sentiment is developed.

The conquest of the purely artistic was made easier by the circumstance that some painters came into contact with a more aristocratic culture. Gerhard Terborg, who stands at the head of this group, prob- ably issued from the school of Frans Hals. A blackish- grey tone, resembling the scale preferred by Frans Hals in his later years, gives to his youthful works their individuality, in contrast to the light and shade of others. About his figures he arranged, as did also the masters of Hals’s school, skulls, hour-glasses, and books into veritable still-life. Soon, however, other masters entered his horizon. A cavalier and an enter- prising spirit, he went in 1635 to the court of Charles 1. of England, where he was attracted by the female portraits of van Dyck, with their gleaming, milk- white satin robes. In 1648 he was present at the peace of Munster which he commemorated in the picture of the London National Gallery: and this residence at Munster had the further result that, at the suggestion of the Spanish ambassador, he tried his fortune in Madrid. Although Velasquez was at this time at


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Rome, his paintings hung in the Alcazar, and the later works of Terborg show the deep impression which the spirit and the colour of Velasquez made upon him. Distinguished gentlemen of almost Spanish grande^^a are presented in his portraits, as with Velasquez dressed in black, standing out in full figure from the pearl-grey wall. It is the Spanish court manner translated into the Dutch miniature style. Likewise in his genre- paintings he has adopted not only the yellow of the great Spaniard, but his much-admired pink, his mystic grey, and his deep black. He also preserves an aris- tocratic dignity and a cool reserve which distinguish him from the mass of crude Hollanders as a knightly, almost Spanish figure.

Although the days of war were past, Terborg re- mained the painter of soldiers, partly because the lieutenant had a sort of knightly halo for the Dutch burgher, partly because bright uniforms, swords, and plumed hats, contrasted with the white satin dresses and ermine-lined silk jackets of charming ladies, afforded possibilities of distinguished harmonies of colour. These demands of colour alone determined the content of his pictures. A dapper trumpeter as a love-messenger delivers a letter, awaits the answer, and presents the message to his master, or officers sit with ladies in gallant tete-Mete. Even the celebrated picture which Goethe describes as Fatherly Advice shows in truth nothing but a man with a plumed hat, beside a lady in black and in front of a lady in


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white. His paintings of still-life are usually arranged about silver cups, finely cut glasses, silver chandeliers. Delft porcelain, and the most costly products of foreign applied art which came to Holland by way of the col- onies. If, instead of love, music forms the theme, the performers do not sing and fiddle as with Ostade and Steen; the scenes are laid exclusively in the salon and in select society. The lute, whose soft silvery sound suits well the silver tone of the paintings, is used either for solos or else in duets between ladies and gentlemen. Distinguished, cool, and placid are the proper epithets for all of his pictures.

One other painter alone has the same Spanish effect: Michel Sweerts, who is known by a single but very fine picture in the Munich Pinakothek. Four men are re- presented sitting in a tavern; yet one hardly observes the figures, but only the harmony of the black and whitish grey tones. In an etching known to be by his hand Sweerts calls himself eques et pictor, and it seems strange that we do not know more of this knightly painter.

As devoid of subject as Terborg’s are Pieter de Hooch’s pictures. A few people are gathered in a room in front of the house door, in a court, or in a garden; a woman reads a letter, sits sewing or rocking the cradle, gives alms to a beggar-boy, or arranges her little daughter’s hair. What charms the master is chiefly the sunlight,which, like a stream of gold-dust, pours into the softly lighted rooms or gloomy courtyards. He is


GERARD TERBORG


OFFICER WRITING A LETTER

Dresden Gallery


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especially fond of varying the effects of illumination by displaying a view through several rooms. In the foreground, perhaps, is a room into which the sun shines brightly, and through the open door one looks into another which is even more brightly illuminated, or perhaps pervaded by a soft twilight; or the eye falls upon a shady garden and the street beside it is flooded by warm sunlight. In his charming simplicity de Hooch is a very delicate master. Without thinking of prais- ing the artist, one would like to sit in these cozy rooms, where the sunshine falls upon the floor and chests and the kettle hums softly over the glimmering fire.

He had two doubles who were formerly often confused with him: Esaias Boursse and Johannes Janssens. Their difference from de Hooch consists only in the circum- stance that the people whom they paint are less well- to-do. His belong to the wealthy bourgeoisie, whose houses are paved with marble tiles, and contain heavy, handsome furniture. The rooms of the people whom Boursse and Janssens paint are poorer and barer. They are paved with red brick, and instead of the warm glowing tones of de Hooch, greenish-brown colours prevail.

Jan van der Meer is the master of the brightly flaring sunlight. His teacher, Carel Fabritius, the refined pupil of Rembrandt, had directed his attention to light- painting; but the problems which he attempted are quite different from those of de Hooch. The latter paints entire forms with full-length figures; and the


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light pours through the door, bathing everything evenly in soft tones. Van der Meer, on the other hand, places the figures near the side of the picture and presents them in half-size, depicting only a part of the room. The light does not enter through a door but through a window at the side; and as the figures sit quite in the foreground they remain in the gloom, while the middle and the background flare in bright sunlight. The scale of colour is also different. Whereas de Hooch’s pictures are attuned to a dark red, van der Meer loves a bright, misty blue and a delicate citron-yellow; a map with black bevelled frame is generally on the wall, upon whose fine pearl grey it forms a piquant white and black spot.

Nicolas Koedijk, Pieter van Slingeland, Quirin B re kelenkam, Jacob Ochterveld, and Nicolas Verkolje should further be mentioned; and Gabriel Metsu in- cludes them all. The themes of Terborg (ladies at the toilette, officers, trumpeters, and musical entertain- ments) alternate with the doctor’s visits of Steen and with the fish and vegetable markets. Although Metsu’s activity included but a few years, he illus- trated the entire life of Holland, that of the people as well as of more distinguished circles.

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Equally popular with genre pictures were animal sub- jects. The raising of cattle was an important pursuit in Holland, and even to-day the land


II.— The Landscape Painters

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resembles a great farm-yard; a soft carpet of turf spreads over hill and dale; clover and vegetable fields, splendid meadows stretch out, and everywhere are pastures surrounded by hedges. Fat oxen and sheep, as white as though they had just been washed, lie upon the grass. At the head of these animal painters stands Paul Potter, who painted with Dutch objectivity the mighty brown masses of flesh and the slow, heavy tread of the cattle. They are essentially Dutch, for they know neither passions, nor struggles, nor move- ment, but chew the cud phlegmatically or lie down in comfortable repose. Round about the greenest of meadows extends, and above it is a mighty heaven, which shades imperceptibly into the sea. Adriaen van de Velde is more mobile and coquettish; he has less power and more grace. Instead of the bright green spring colours of Potter, a golden chiaroscuro pervades his works. The cattle, with Potter the principal theme, are with him only a part of the landscape.

Pictures of horses were painted during the first half of the century by Gerrit Bleeker; he was followed by Palamades, who painted cavalry conflicts of stormy movement, and by Pieter van Laar, a healthy and powerful master who found charming things to paint in the neighbourhood of Rome in front of the decaying smithies and taverns. The best known of this group is the graceful and elegant Philips Wouwerman. Soldiers having their horses shod; gypsies, and peasants going to market ; ladies and gentlemen riding to a deer


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or falcon hunt; distinguished companies of hunters at br