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Full text of "The book of art for young people"

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THE CENTI^X CHILDREN'S ROOM 

DOr^Trn. LLBflARY CENTER 
20 WEST 53 STREET 
liEWYOPiC, N.Y. 10019 



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AGENTS 
America . The Macmillak Company 

64 & 66 Fifth Avenue, New York 
Australasia The Oxkohd University Press 

205 Flinders Lane, Melbourne 

'^"%!^r''"^'^ Company op Canada, Ltd 

St. Martins House, 70 Bond Street, Toronto 

Macmillan & Company, Ltd. 

Macmillan Building, Bombay 

309 Bow Bazaar Street, Calcutta 



Canada 
India 




Red Riding Hood. 
From the picture by G. F. Watts, in the Birmingham Art Gallery. 



Page 197 



I?»^ 



THE BOOK OF 

ART 

FOR YOUNG PEOPLE 



AGNES ETHEL CONWAY 

AND 

Sir martin CONWAY 



WITH St J^'ffiEW •' ifOLL'.PAQE ,' LL LXJSTRATIONS 
. .' m C.OLQU.R 



LONDON 

ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK 

1914 






TH5 NSW YO'#^ j 

PUBLIC LIRPAPy | 

AtTOW, L&NOX •■' 

m 



First published September 1909 
Reprinted September 1914 



TO 



C- 



MY LITTLE FRIENDS 
AGNES AND ROSANNE 



NOTE 

My thanks are due and are cordially rendered to 

the Earl of Yarboroiigh, Sir Frederick Cook, and 

the authorities of Trinity College, Cambridge, for 

permission to reproduce their pictures ; to Lady 

Alfred Douglas and Mr. Henry Newbolt for leave 

to quote from their poems ; to Mr. Everard Green, 

Somerset Herald, for all that is new in the 

interpretation of the Wilton diptych ; to Miss 

K. K. Radford for the translation in Chapter VIII., 

and to all the friends who have helped me with 

criticism and suggestions. 

A. E. C. 



CONTENTS 



CHAP, 


PAGE 


1. Introductoky ....... 


1 


2. The Thirteenth Century in Europe 


14 


3. Richard II. ...... . 


29 


4, The Van Eycks ...... 


46 


5. The Renaissance ...... 


63 


6. Raphael ........ 


78 


7. The Renaissance in Venice . . . . . 


93 


8. The Renaissance in the North . . . . 


104 


9- Rembrandt ....... 


116 


10. Peter de Hoogh and Cuyp . . . . . 


133 


11. Van Dyck 


143 


12. Velasquez ........ 


153 


13. Reynolds and the Eighteenth Century . 


165 


14. Turner ........ 


176 


15. The Nineteenth Century .... 


188 


INDEX . . 


199 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



In the Colours of the Ouiginal Paintings 



1. Red Ridinghood 

2. Richard II. before the V^irgin 

and Child 

3. The Three Maries 

4. St. Jerome in his study 

5. The Nativity 

6. The Knight's Dream . 

7. The Goldeix Age 

8. St. George destroying the 

Dragon . 

9. Edward, Prince of Wales, after- 

wards Edward VI. . 

10. A Man in Armour 

11. An Interior 

12. Landscape with Cattle 

13. Don Balthazar Carlos 

14. The Duke of Gloucester 

15. The Fighting Temeraire 
l6". William II. of Orange 



G. F. Watts Frontispiece 



KACINO PAGE 



H. Fan Eyck 
Antonello da Messin 
Sandro Botticelli 
Raphael 
Giorgione 

Tintoret 



Holbein 


112 


Reuibrandl 


. 126 


P. de Huogh . 


136 


Cuyp . 


142 


Velasquez 


1.54 


Sir J. Reynokh 


. 170 


Turner . 


176 


Fan Duck 


On the Cover 



30 

48 
64 

72 
78 

9& 

100 



THE CHILDREN'S BOOK 
OF ART 

CHAPTER I 

INTRODUCTORY 

Almost the pleasantest thing in the world is to 
be told a splendid story by a really nice person. 
There is not the least occasion for the story to be 
true ; indeed I think the untrue stories are the best 
— those in which we meet delightful beasts and 
things that talk twenty times better than most 
human beings ever do, and where extraordinary 
events happen in the kind of places that are not at 
all like our world of every day. It is so fine to be 
taken into a country where it is always summer, 
and the birds are always singing and the flowers 
always blowing, and where people get what they 



2 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

want by just wishing for it, and are not told that 
this or that isn't good for them, and that they'll 
know better than to want it when they're grown 
up, and all that kind of thing which is so annoying 
and so often happening in this obstinate criss-cross 
world, where the days come and go in such an 
ordinary fashion. 

But if I might choose the person to tell me 
the kind of story I like to listen to, and hear 
told to me over and over again, it would be some 
one who could draw pictures for me while talking 
— pictures like those of Tenniel in Alice in 
Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. 
How much better we know Alice herself and the 
White Knight and the Mad Hatter and all the 
rest of them from the pictures than even from the 
story itself. But my story-teller should not only 
draw the pictures while he talked, but he should 
paint them too. I want to see the sky blue and 
the grass green, and I want red cloaks and blue 
bonnets and pink cheeks and all the bright colours, 
and some gold and silver too, and not merely black 
and white — though black and white drawings would 
be better than nothing, so long as they showed 
me what the people and beasts and dragons and 



INTRODUCTORY 3 

things were like. I could put up with even rather 
bad drawings if only they were vivid. Don't you 
know how good a bad drawing sometimes seems ? 
I have a friend who can make the loveliest folks 
and the funniest beasts and the quaintest houses 
and trees, and he really can't draw a bit ; and the 
curious thing is, that if he could draw better I 
should not like his folks and beasts half as much 
as I do the lop-sided, crook-legged, crazy-looking 
people he produces. And then he has such quaint 
things to tell about them, and while he talks he 
seems to make them live, so that I can hardly 
believe they are not real people for all their unlike- 
ness to any one you ever saw. 

Now, the old pictures you see in the picture 
galleries are just like that, only the people that 
painted them didn't invent the stories but merely 
illustrated stories which, at the time those painters 
lived, every one knew. Some of the stories were 
true and some were just a kind of fairy tale, and it 
didn't matter to the painters, and it doesn't matter 
to us, which was true and which wasn't. The only 
thing that matters is whether the story is a good 
one and whether the picture is a nice one. There 
is a delightful old picture painted on a wall away 



4 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

off at Assisi, in Italy, which shows St. Francis 
preaching to a lot of birds, and the birds are all 
listening to him and looking pleased — the way birds 
do look pleased when they find a good fat worm or 
fresh crumbs. Now, St. Francis was a real man 
and such a dear person too, but I don't suppose 
half the stories told about him were really true, 
yet we can pretend they were and that's just 
what the painter helps us to do. Don't you know 
all the games that begin with * Let's pretend ' ? — 
well, that's art. Art is pretending, or most of it 
is. Pictures take us into a world of make-believe, 
a world of imagination, where everything is or 
should be in the right place and in the right light 
and of the right colour, where all the people are 
nicely dressed to match one another, and are not 
standing in one another's way, and not interrupting 
one another or forgetting to help play the game. 
That's the difference between pictures and photo- 
graphs. A photograph is almost always wrong 
somewhere. Something is out of place, or some- 
thing is there which ought to be away, or the light 
is wrong; or, if it's coloured, the colours are just 
not in keeping with one another. If it's a land- 
scape the trees are where we don't want them ; they 



INTRODUCTORY 5 

hide what we want to see, or they don't hide the 
very thing we want hidden. Then the clouds are 
in the wrong place, and a wind ruffles the water 
just where we want to see something reflected. 
That's the way things actually happen in the real 
world. But in the world of * Let's pretend,' in the 
world of art, they don't happen so. There every- 
thing happens right, and everybody does, not so 
much what they should (that might sometimes be 
dull), but exactly what we want them to do — 
which is so very much better. That is the world 
of your art and my art. Unfortunately all the 
pictures in the galleries weren't painted just for 
you and me ; but you'll find, if you look for them, 
plenty that were, and the rest don't matter. Those 
were painted, no doubt, for some one else. But if 
you could find the some one else for whom they 
were painted, the some one else whose world of 
'Let's pretend' was just these pictures that don't 
belong to your world, and if they could tell you 
about their world of * Let's pretend,' ten to one 
you'd find it just as good a world as your own, 
and you'd soon learn to ' pretend ' that way too. 

Well, the purpose of this book is to take you 
into a number of worlds of * Let's pretend,' most of 



6 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

which I daresay will be new to you, and perhaps 
you will find some of them quite delightful places. 
I'm sure you can't help liking St. Jerome's Cell 
when you come to it. It's not a bit like any room 
we can find anywhere in the world to-day, but 
wouldn't it be joyful if we could ? What a good 
time we could have there with the tame lion (not 
a bit like any lion in the Zoo, but none the worse 
for that) and the jolly bird, and all St. Jerome's 
little things. I should like to climb on to his plat- 
form and sit in his chair and turn over his books, 
though I don't believe they'd be interesting to read, 
but they'd certainly be pretty to look at. If you 
and I were there, though, we should soon be out 
away behind, looking round the corner, and finding 
all sorts of odd places that unfortunately can't all 
get into the picture, only we know they're there, 
down yonder corridor, and from what the painter 
shows us we can invent the rest for ourselves. 

One of the troubles of a painter is that he can't 
paint every detail of things as they are in nature. 
A primrose, when you first see it, is just a little 
yellow spot. When you hold it in your hand you 
find it made up of petals round a tiny centre with 
little things in it. If you take a magnifying glass 



INTRODUCTORY 7 

you can see all its details multiplied. If you put a 
tiny bit of it under a microscope, ten thousand 
more little details come out, and so it might go on 
as long as you went on magnifying. Now a 
picture can't be like that. It just has to show you 
the general look of things as you see them from an 
ordinary distance. But there comes in another 
kind of trouble. How do you see things ? We 
don't all see the same things in the same way. 
Your mother's face looks very different to you 
from its look to a mere person passing in the 
street. Your own room has a totally different 
aspect to you from what it bears to a casual 
visitor. The things you specially love have a way 
of standing out and seeming prominent to you, 
but not, of course, to any one else. Then there are 
other differences in the look of the same things 
to different people which you have perhaps noticed. 
Some people are more sensitive to colours than 
others. Some are much more sensitive to brightness 
and shadow. Some will notice one kind of object 
in a view, or some detail in a face far more em- 
phatically than others. Girls are quicker to take 
note of the colour of eyes, hair, skin, clothes, and 
so forth than boys. A woman who merely sees 



8 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

another woman for a moment will be able to 
describe her and her dress far more accurately 
than a man. A man will be noticing other things. 
His picture, if he painted one, would make those 
other things prominent. 

So it is with everything that we see. None 
of us sees more than certain features in what 
the eye rests upon, and if we are artists it is 
only those features that we should paint. We 
can't possibly paint every detail of everything 
that comes into the picture. We must make 
a choice, and of course we choose the features 
and details that please us best. Now, the pur- 
pose of painting anything at all is to paint the 
beauty of the thing. If you see something that 
strikes you as ugly, you don't instinctively want to 
paint it ; but when you see an effect of beauty, you 
feel that it would be very nice indeed to have a 
picture showing that beauty. So a picture is not 
really the representation of a thing, but the re- 
presentation of the beauty of the thing. 

Some people can see beauty almost everywhere : 
they are conscious of beauty all day long. They 
want to surround themselves with beauty, to make 
all their acts beautiful, to shed beauty all about 



INTRODUCTORY 9 

them. Those are the really artistic souls. The 
gift of such perfect instinct for beauty comes by 
nature to a few. It can be cultivated by almost 
all. That cultivation of all sorts of beauty in life 
is what many people call civilization — the real art of 
living. To see beauty everywhere in nature is not 
so very difficult. It is all about us where the work 
of uncivilized man has not come in to destroy it. 
Artists are people who by nature and by education 
have acquired the power to see beauty in what 
they look at, and then to set it down on paper or 
canvas, or in some other material, so that other 
people can see it too. 

It seems strange that at one time the beauty of 
natural landscape was hardly perceived by any one 
at all. People lived in the beautiful country and 
scarcely knew that it was beautiful. Then came 
the time when the beauty of landscape began to 
be felt by the nicest people. They began to put it 
into their poetry, and to talk and write about it, 
and to display it in landscape pictures. It was 
through poems and pictures, which they read and 
saw, that the general run of folks first learned to 
look for beauty in nature. I have no doubt that 
Turner's wonderful sunsets made plenty of people 



10 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

look at sunsets and rejoice in the intricacy and 
splendour of their glory for the first time in their 
lives. Well, what Turner and other painters of 
his generation did for landscape, had had to be 
done for men and women in earlier days by earlier 
generations of artists. The Greeks were the first, 
in their sculpture, to show the wonderful beauty of 
the human form ; till their day people had not 
recognised what to us now seems obvious. No 
doubt they had thought one person pretty and 
another handsome, but they had not known that 
the human figure was essentially a glorious thing 
till the Greek sculptors showed them. Another 
thing painters have taught the world is the beauty 
of atmosphere. Formerly no one seems to have 
noticed how atmosphere affects every object that 
is seen through it. The painters had to show 
us that it is so. After we had seen the effect of 
atmosphere in pictures we began to be able to see 
for ourselves in nature, and thus a whole group of 
new pleasures in views of nature was opened up 
to us. 

Away back in the Middle Ages, six hundred 
and more years ago, folks had far less educated 
eyes than we possess to-day. They looked at 



INTRODUCTORY 11 

nature more simply than we do and saw less in it. 
So they were satisfied with pictures that omitted a 
great many features we cannot do without. 

But painting does not only concern itself with 
representing the world we actually see and the 
people that our eyes actually behold. It concerns 
itself quite as much with the world of fancy, of 
make-believe. Indeed, most painters when they 
look at an actual scene let their fancy play about 
it, so that presently what they see and what they 
fancy get mixed up together, and their pictures 
are a mixture of fancy and of fact, and no one can 
tell where the one ends and the other begins. The 
fancies of people are very different at different times, 
and you can't understand the pictures of old days 
unless you can share the fancies of the old painters. 
To do that you must know something about the 
way they lived and the things they believed, and 
what they hoped for and what they were afraid of. 
Here, for instance, is a very funny fact solemnly 
recorded in an old account book. A certain Count 
of Savoy owned the beautiful Castle of Chillon, 
which you have perhaps seen, on the shores of 
the Lake of Geneva. But he could not be happy, 
because he and the people about him thought that 



12 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

in a hole in the rock under one of the cellars a 
basilisk lived — a very terrible dragon — and they all 
went in fear of it. So the Count paid a brave 
mason a large sum of money (and the payment is 
solemnly set down in his account book) to break a 
way into this hole and turn the basilisk out ; and I 
have no doubt that he and his people were greatly 
pleased when the hole was made and no basilisk 
was found. Folks who believed in dragons as 
sincerely as that, must have gone in terror in many 
places where we should go with no particular 
emotion. A picture of a dragon to them would 
mean much more than it would to us. So if we 
are really to understand old pictures, we must 
begin by understanding the fancies of the artists 
who painted them, and of the people they were 
painted for. You see how much study that means 
for any one who wants to understand all the art of 
all the world. 

We shall not pretend to lead you on any such 
great quest as that, but ask you to look at just a 
few old pictures that have been found charming by 
a great many people of several generations, and to 
try and see whether they do not charm you as 
well. You must never, of course, pretend to like 



INTRODUCTORY 13 

what you don't like — that is too silly. We can't 
all like the same things. Still there are certain 
pictures that most nice people like. A few of 
these we have selected to be reproduced in this 
book for you to look at. And to help you realize 
who painted them and the kind of people they 
were painted for, my daughter has written the 
chapters that follow. I hope you will find them 
entertaining, and still more that you will like the 
pictures, and so learn to enjoy the many others 
that have come down to us from the past, and are 
among the world's most precious possessions to-day. 



CHAPTER II 

THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY IN EUROPE 

Before we give our whole attention to the first 
picture, of which the original was painted in 
England in 1377, let us imagine ourselves in the 
year 1200 making a rapid tour through the chief 
countries of Europe to see for ourselves how the 
people lived. The first thing that will strike us on 
our journey is the contrast between the grandeur of 
the churches and public buildings and the insig- 
nificance of most of the houses. Some of the 
finest churches in England, built in the style of 
architecture called * Norman,' one or more of 
which you may have seen, date before the year 
1200, as for example, Durham Cathedral, and 
the naves of Norwich, Ely, and Peterborough 
Cathedrals. The great churches abroad were also 
beautiful and more elaborately decorated, in the 

14 



THIRTEENTH CENTURY IN EUROPE 15 

North with sculpture and painting, in the South 
with marble and mosaic. The towns competed 
one with another in erecting them finer and larger, 
and in decorating them as magnificently as they 
could. This was done because the church was 
a place which the people used for many other 
purposes besides Sunday services. In the twelfth, 
thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, the parish 
church, on week-days as well as on Sundays, was 
a very useful and agreeable place to most of the 
parishioners. The ' holy ' days, or saints' days, 
'holidays' indeed, were times of rejoicing and 
festivity, and the Church processions and services 
were pleasant events in the lives of many who 
had few entertainments, and who for the most part 
could neither read nor write. Printing was not yet 
invented, at least not in Europe, and as every book 
had to be written out by hand, copies of books 
were rare and only owned by the few who could 
read them, so that stories were mostly handed down 
by word of mouth, the same being told by mother 
to child for many generations. 

The favourites were stories of the saints and 
martyrs of the Catholic Church, for of course 
we are speaking now of times long before the 



16 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

Reformation. The Old Testament stories and all 
the stories of the life of Christ and His Apostles 
were well known too, and just as we never tire of 
reading our favourite books over and over again, 
our forefathers of 1200 wanted to see on the walls 
of their churches representations of the stories 
which they could not read. Their daily thoughts 
were more occupied with the Infant Christ, the 
saints, and the angels, than ours generally are. 
They thought of themselves as under the pro- 
tection of some saint, who would plead with God 
the Father for them if they asked him, for God 
Himself seemed too high or remote to be appealed 
to always directly. He was approached with 
awe ; the saints, the Virgin, and the Infant Christ, 
with love. 

We must realise this difference before we can 
well understand a picture painted in the twelfth, 
thirteenth, or fourteenth centuries, nor can we 
look at one without feeling that the artist and 
the people for whom he painted, so loved the 
holy personages. They thought about them 
always, not only at stated times and on Sundays, 
and never tired of looking at pictures of them 
and their doings. It is sometimes said that only 



THIRTEENTH CENTURY IN EUROPE 17 

Catholics can understand medieval art, because 
they feel towards the saints as the old painters 
did. But it is possible for any one to realize how in 
those far-off days the people felt, and it is this that 
we must try to do. The religious fervour of the 
Middle Ages was not a sign of great virtue among 
all the people. Some were far more cruel, savage, 
and unrestrained than we are to-day. Very 
wicked men even became powerful dignitaries in 
the Church. But it was the Church that fostered 
the impulses of pity and charity in a fierce age, and 
some of the saints of the thirteenth and fourteenth 
centuries, such as St. Francis of Assisi and St. 
Catharine of Siena, are still held to be among 
the most beautiful characters the world has ever 
known. 

The churches of the eleventh and twelfth 
centuries in Florence were lined with marble, and 
a great picture frequently stood above the altar. 
It is difficult to realize to-day that the pro- 
cesses which we call oil and water-colour painting 
were not then invented, and that no shops existed 
to sell canvases and paints ready for use. The 
artist painted upon a wooden panel, which he had 
himself to make, plane flat, and cut to the size he 



18 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

needed. In order to get a surface upon whicli he 
could paint, he covered the panel with a thin 
coating of plaster which it was difficult to lay on 
absolutely flat. Upon the plaster he drew the out- 
line of the figures he was going to paint, and filled 
in the background with a thin layer of gold leaf, 
such as is to-day used for gilding frames. After 
the background had been put in, it was impossible 
to correct the outline of the figures, and the labour 
of preparing the wooden panel and of laying the 
gold was so great that an artist would naturally 
not make risky attempts towards something new, 
lest he should spoil his work. In the Jerusalem 
Chamber of Westminster Abbey there is a thir- 
teenth-century altar-piece of this kind, and you can 
see the strips of vellum that were used to cover 
the joins of the different pieces of wood forming 
the panel, beneath the layer of plaster, which has 
now to a great extent peeled off. 

The people liked to see their Old Testament 
stories and the stories from the Life of Christ 
painted over and over again. They had become 
fond of the versions of the tales which they had 
known and seen painted when they were young, 
and did not wish them changed, so that the range 



THIRTEENTH CENTURY IN EUROPE 19 

of subjects was not large. The same were repeated, 
and because of the painter's fear of making mistakes 
it was natural that the same figures should be 
repeated too. Thus, whatever the subject pictured, 
a tradition was formed in each locality for the 
grouping and general arrangement of the figures, 
and the most authoritative tradition for such 
typical groupings was preserved in Constantinople 
or Byzantium, from which city the 'Byzantine' 
school of painting takes its name. 

Before 1200, Byzantium had been a centre of 
residence and the civilizing influence of trade for 
eighteen centuries. It had been the capital of the 
Roman Empire, and less civilized peoples from the 
north had never conquered the town, destroying 
the Greek and Roman traditions, as happened else- 
where in Europe. You have read how the Romans 
had to withdraw their armies from England to 
defend Rome against the attacks of the Goths 
from the north, and then how Britain was settled 
by Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and Danes, who de- 
stroyed most of the Roman civilization. A 
similar though much less complete destruction took 
place in Italy a little later, when Goths and Lom- 
bards, who were remotely akin to the Angles and 



20 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

Saxons, overwhelmed Roman culture. But next 
to Constantinople, Rome had the best continuous 
tradition of art, for the fine monuments of the 
great imperial days days still existed in the city. 
In Byzantium the original Greek population 
struggled on, and continued to paint, and make 
mosaics, and erect fine buildings, till the Turks 
conquered them in 1453. The Byzantines were 
wealthy and made exquisite objects in gold, 
precious stones, and ivory. While they were 
painting better than any other people in Europe, 
they too reproduced the same subjects and the 
same figures over and over again, only the figures 
were more graceful than those of the local Italian, 
English, and French artists, who in varying degrees 
at different times tried to paint like the Byzantine 
or Greek artists, but without quite the same 
success. So long as there was no need for an artist 
to paint anything but the old well-established sub- 
jects, and so long as people desired them to be 
painted in the old conventional manner, there was 
little reason why any painter should try to be 
original and paint what was not wanted. But in 
the thirteenth century a great change took place. 
Let us here refresh our memories of what we 



THIRTEENTH CENTURY IN EUROPE 21 

may have read of that delightful saint, Francis of 
Assisi. He was born in 1182, the son of a well-to- 
do nobleman, in the little town of Assisi in Umbria, 
and as a lad became inflamed with the ideal of the 
religious life. But instead of entering one of the 
existing monastic orders, where he would have been 
protected, he gave away every possession he had 
in the world and adopted ' poverty ' as his watch- 
word. Clad in an old brown habit, he walked from 
place to place preaching charity, obedience, and 
renunciation of all worldly goods. He lived on 
what was given to him to eat from day to day ; 
he nursed the lepers and the sick. Ever described 
as a most lovable person, he won by his preaching 
the hearts of people of all classes, from the King 
of France to the humblest peasant. He wrote 
beautiful hymns in praise of the sun, the moon, 
and the stars, and had a great love for every living 
thing. The birds were said to have flocked around 
him because they loved him, and we read that he 
talked to them and called them his 'little sisters.' 
An old writer tells this story in good faith : 

When St. Francis spake words to them, the birds began 
all of them to open their beaks and spread their wings and 
reverently bend their heads down to the ground, and by 



22 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

their acts and by their songs did show that the holy Father 
gave them joy exceeding great. 

Wherever he preached he made converts who 
'married Holy Poverty,' as St. Francis expressed 
it, gave up everything they had, and lived his 
preaching and roaming life. St. Francis himself 
had no idea of forming a monastic order. He 
wished to live a holy life in the world and show 
others how to do the same, and for years he and 
his companions worked among the poor, earning 
their daily bread when they could, and when they 
could not, begging for it. Gradually, however, 
ambition stirred in the hearts of some of the 
followers of Francis, and against the will of their 
leader they made themselves into the Order of 
Franciscan Friars, collected gifts of money, and 
began to build churches and monastic buildings. 
At first the buildings were said to belong to 
the Pope, who allowed the Franciscans to use 
them, since they might not own property ; but 
after the death of St. Francis, the Order built 
churches throughout the length and breadth of 
Italy, not of marble and mosaic but of brick, 
since brick was cheaper ; but the brick walls 
were plastered, and upon the wet plaster there 



THIRTEENTH CENTURY IN EUROPE 23 

were painted scenes from the life of St. Francis, 
side by side with the old Christian and saintly 
legends. This sudden demand for painted churches 
with paintings of new subjects, stirred the painters 
of the day to alter their old style. When an 
artist was asked to paint a large picture of 
St. Francis preaching to the birds, he had to 
look at real birds and he had to study a real 
man in the attitude of preaching. There was no 
scene that had ever been painted from the life 
of Christ or of any saint in which a man preached 
to a bird, so that the artist was driven to paint from 
nature instead of copying former pictures. 

Let us now read what a painter who lived 
in the sixteenth century, Vasari by name, wrote 
about the rise of painting in his native city. 
Some learned people nowadays say that Vasari 
was wrong in many of the stories he told, but 
after all he lived much nearer than we do to the 
times he wrote about, and it is safer to believe 
what he tells us than what modern students 
surmise, except when they are able to cite other 
old authorities to which Vasari did not have access. 

The endless flood of misfortunes which overwhelmed 
unhappy Italy not only ruined everything worthy of the 



24 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

name of a building, but completely extinguished the race 
of artists, a far moi'e serious matter. Then, as it pleased 
God, there was born in the year 1240, in the city of 
Florence, Giovanni, surnamed Cimabue, to shed the first 
light on the art of painting. Instead of paying attention 
to his lessons, Cimabue spent the whole day drawing 
men, horses, houses, and various other fancies on his books 
and odd sheets, like one who felt himself compelled to do 
so by nature. Fortune proved favourable to his natural 
inclination, for some Greek artists were summoned to 
Florence by the government of the city for no other 
purpose than the revival of painting in their midst, since 
the art was not so much debased as altogether lost. In 
this way Cimabue made a beginning in the art which 
attracted him, for he often played the truant and spent 
the whole day in watching the masters work. Thus it 
came about that his father and the artists considered him 
so fitted to be a painter that if he devoted himself to the 
profession he might look for honourable success in it, and 
to his great satisfaction his father procured him employ- 
ment with the painters. Thus by dint of continual 
practice and with the assistance of his natural talent he 
far surpassed the manner of his teachers. For they had 
never cared to make any progress and had executed their 
works, not in the good manner of ancient Greece, but in 
the rude modem style of that time. Cimabue drew from 
nature to the best of his powers, although it was a novelty 
to do so in those days, and he made the draperies, garments, 
and other things somewhat more life-like, natural, and soft 



THIRTEENTH CENTURY IN EUROPE 25 

than the Greeks had done, who had taught one another 
a rough, awkward, and commonplace style for a great 
number of years, not by means of study but as a matter 
of custom, without ever dreaming of improving their designs 
by beauty of colouring or by any invention of worth. 

If you were to see a picture by Cimabue 
(there is one in the National Gallery which re- 
sembles his work so closely that it is sometimes 
said to be his), you would think less highly than 
Vasari of the life-like quality of his art, though 
there is something dignified and stately in the 
picture of the Virgin and Child with angels that 
he painted for the Church of St. Francis at Assisi. 
Another story is told by Vasari of a picture by 
Cimabue, which tradition asserts to be the great 
Madonna, still in the Church of Santa Maria 
Novella at Florence. 

Cimabue painted a picture of Our Lady for the church 
of Santa Maria Novella. The figure was of a larger size 
than any which had been executed up to that time, and 
the people of that day who had never seen anything better, 
considered the work so marvellous that they carried it to 
the church from Cimabue's house in a stately procession 
with great rejoicing and blowing of trumpets, while Cimabue 
himself was highly rewarded and honoured. It is reported, 
and some records of the old painters relate, that while 

4 



26 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

Cimabue was painting this picture in some gardens near the 
gate of S. Piero, the old King Charles of Anjou passed through 
Florence. Among the many entertainments prepared for 
him by the men of the city, they brought him to see the 
picture of Cimabue. As it had not then been seen by any 
one, all the men and women of Florence flocked thither in 
a crowd with the greatest rejoicings, so that those who lived 
in the neighbourhood called the place the ' Joyful Suburb ' 
because of the rejoicing there. This name it ever after- 
wards retained, being in the course of time enclosed within 
the walls of the city. 

For this story we may thank Vasari, because 
it helps us to realize the love the people of 
Florence felt for the pictures in their churches, 
and the reverence in which they held an artist who 
could paint a more beautiful picture of the Virgin 
and Ctiild than any they had seen before. It is 
difficult to think of the population of a town to-day 
walking in procession to honour the painter of a 
fine picture ; but a picture of the Madonna was a 
very precious thing indeed to a Florentine of 
the thirteenth century, and we may try to imagine 
ourselves walking joyfully in that Florentine pro- 
cession so as the better to understand Florentine 
Art. 

I have repeated this legend about Cimabue, 



THIRTEENTH CENTURY IN EUROPE 27 

because he was the master of Giotto, who is 
called the Father of Modern Painting. The story 
is that Cimabue one day came upon the boy Giotto, 
who was a shepherd, and found him drawing a sheep 
with a pointed piece of stone upon a smooth surface 
of rock. He was so much struck with the drawing 
that he took the boy home and taught him, and 
soon he in his turn far surpassed his master. In 
order to appreciate Giotto we need to go to 
Assisi, Florence, or Padua, for in each place he 
has painted a series of wall-paintings. In the 
great double church of Assisi, built by the Fran- 
ciscans over the grave of St. Francis within a few 
years of his death, Giotto has illustrated the 
whole story of his life. An isolated reproduction 
of one scene would give you no idea of their 
power. In many respects he was an innovator, 
and by the end of his life had broken away com- 
pletely from the Byzantine school of painting. 
He composed each one of the scenes from the 
life of St. Francis in an original and dramatic 
manner, and so vividly that a person unacquainted 
with the story would know what was going on. 
Standing in the nave of the Upper Church, you 
are able to contrast these speaking scenes of the 



28 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

lives of people upon earth, with the faded glories 
of great-winged angels and noble Madonnas with 
Greek faces, that were painted in the Byzantine 
style when the church was at its newest, before 
Giotto was born. These look, down upon us still 
from the east end of the church. 

Giotto died in 1337, and for the next fifty 
years painters in Italy did little but imitate 
him. Scenes from the life of St. Francis and 
incidents from the legends of other saints re- 
mained in vogue, but they were not treated in 
original fashion by succeeding artists. The new 
men only tried to paint as Giotto might have 
painted, and so far from surpassing him, he was 
never even equalled by his followers. 

We need not burden our memories with the 
names of these ' Giottesque ' artists ; and now, 
after this glimpse of an almost vanished world, 
we will turn our attention to England and to 
the first picture of our choice. 



CHAPTER III 

RICHARD II. 

Our first picture is a portrait of Richard II. on 
his coronation day in the year 1377, when he 
was ten years old. It is the earliest one selected, 
and the eyes of those who see it for the first 
time will surely look surprised. The jewel -like 
effect of the sapphire -winged angels and coral- 
robed Richard against the golden background 
is not at all what . we are accustomed to see. 
Nowadays it may take some time and a little 
patience before we can cast ourselves back to the 
year 1377 and look at the picture with the eyes of 
the person who painted it. Let us begin with a 
search for his purpose and meaning at least. 

The picture is a diptych — that is to say, it 
is a painting done upon two wings or shutters 
hinged, so as to allow of their being closed 

29 



30 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

together. You have no doubt been wondering 
why I called it a portrait, for the picture is 
far from being what to-day would commonly 
be described as such. Richard himself is not 
even the most conspicuous figure ; and he is 
kneeling and praying to the Virgin. What should 
we think if any living sovereign, ordering a state 
portrait, had himself portrayed surrounded on one 
side by his predecessors on the throne, and on 
the other side by the Virgin and Child and 
angels ? But, in the fourteenth century, it was 
nothing strange that the Virgin and Child, the 
angels, John the Baptist, Edward the Confessor, 
Edmund the Martyr, and Richard II. should be 
thus depicted. When we have realized that it was 
usual for a royal patron to command and an artist 
to paint such an assemblage of personages, as 
though all of them were then living and in one 
another's presence, we have learnt something sig- 
nificant and impressive about a way of thinking 
in the Middle Ages. Richard II. thought of 
himself as the successor of a long line of kings, 
appointed by the Divine Power to rule a small 
portion of the Divine Territories, so what more 
natural than that he, as the newly reigning sovereign, 




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RICHARD II. 31 

should have his portrait painted, surrounded by his 
hoUest predecessors upon the throne, and in the act 
of dedicating his kingdom to the Virgin Mary ? 

In an account given of his coronation we read 
that, after the ceremony in Westminster Abbey, 
Richard went to the shrine of Our Lady at Pewe, 
near by, where he made a special offering to Our 
Lady of eleven angels, each wearhig the King's 
badge, one for each of the eleven years of his 
young life. What form this offering of angels 
took, we know not ; they may have been little 
wooden figures, or coins with an angel stamped 
upon them ; but it is reasonable to connect the 
offering with this very picture of Our Lady and 
the angels. The King's special badges were the 
White Hart and the Collar of Broom-pods which 
you see embroidered all over his magnificent red 
robe. The White Hart is pinned in the form of a 
jewel beneath his collar, and each of the eleven 
angels bears the badge upon her shoulder and the 
Collar of Broom-pods round her neck. One of the 
King's angels gives the Royal Standard of England 
with the Cross of St. George on it to the Infant 
Christ in token of Richard's dedication of his 
kingdom to the Virgin and Child. 



32 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

Edward III. died at Midsummer 1377 and 
Richard succeeded him in his eleventh year, having 
been born on January 6, 1367. It is necessary to 
note the exact day of the year when these events 
took place, for it can have importance in deter- 
mining the saint whom a personage chiefly honoured 
as patron and protector. In this instance St. 
John the Baptist, whose feast occurs on June 23, 
near to the day of Richard's accession, obviously 
stands as patron saint of the young King. 
Next to him is King Edward the Confessor, 
the founder of Westminster Abbey, who was 
canonized for his sanctity and who points to 
Richard II. as his spiritual successor upon the 
throne. In medieval art the saints are distin- 
guished by their emblems, which often have an 
association with the grim way in which they met 
their death, or with some other prominent feature 
in their legend. Here Edward holds up a ring, 
whereof a pretty story is told. Edward once took it 
oiF his finger to give it to a beggar, because he had 
no money with him. But the beggar was no other 
than John the Evangelist in disguise, and two 
years later he sent the ring back to the King with 
the message that in six months Edward would be 



RICHARD II. 83 

in the joy of heaven with him. William Caxton, 
the first English printer, relates in his life of King 
Edward that when he heard the message he was 
full of joy and let fall tears from his eyes, giving 
praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God. 

St. Edmmid, who stands next to Edward the 
Confessor, is the other saintly King of England ; 
after whom the town of Bury St. Edmunds takes 
its name. He was shot to death with arrows by 
the Danes because he would not give up Chris- 
tianity. If I could show you several suitably 
chosen pictures at once, you would recognize in 
the arrangement of the three Kings here (two 
standing, one kneeling before the Virgin and 
Child) a plain resemblance to the typical treat- 
ment of a well-known subject — the Adoration 
of the Magi. You remember how when the 
three Wise Men of the East — always thought 
of in the Middle Ages as Kings — had followed 
the star which led them to the manger where 
Christ was born, they brought Him gold and 
frankincense and myrrh as offerings. This beauti- 
ful story was a favourite one in the Middle Ages, 
often represented in sculpture and painting. 
One King always kneels before the Virgin and 



34 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

Child, presenting his gift, whilst the other two 
stand behind with theirs in their hands. The 
standing Kings and the kneeling Richard in our 
picture, are grouped in just the same relation to 
the divine Infant as the three Magi. The imita- 
tion of the type is clear. There was a special 
reason for this, in that the birthday of Richard 
fell upon January 6, the feast of the Epiphany, 
when the Wise Men did homage to the Babe. 
The picture, by reminding us of the three Wise 
Men, commemorated the birthday of the King as 
well as his coronation, the two chief dates of his life. 
You have some idea now of the train of 
thought which this fourteenth - century painter 
endeavoured to express in his picture commemo- 
rative of the coronation of a King. A medieval 
coronation was a very solemn ceremony indeed, 
and the picture had to be a serious expression of 
the great traditions of the throne of England, 
suggested by the figures of St. Edward and St. 
Edmund, and of hope for future good to the 
realm, to ensue from the blessings of the Virgin 
and Child upon the young King. Religious feel- 
ing is dominant in this picture, and if from it you 
could turn to others of like date, you would find 



RICHARD II. 35 

the same to be true. The meaning was the main 
thing thought of. When Giotto painted his scenes 
from the Hfe of St. Francis, his first aim was that 
the stories should be w^ell told and easily grasped 
by all who looked at them. Their beauty was of 
less importance. This difference between the aim 
of art in the Middle Ages and in our own day is 
fundamental. If you begin by picking to pieces 
the pictures of the thirteenth and fourteenth 
centuries because the drawing is bad, the colouring 
crude, and the grouping unnatural, you might as 
well never look at them at all. Putting faults and 
old fashions aside to think of the meaning of the 
picture, we shall often be rewarded by finding a 
soul within, and the work may affect us powerfully, 
notwithstanding its simple forms and few strong 
colours. 

Nevertheless, after the painter had planned his 
picture so as to convey its message and meaning, 
he did try to make it beautiful to look upon, and he 
often succeeded. In the thirteenth and fourteenth 
centuries it was beauty of outline and a pleasant 
patching together of bright colours for which the 
painters strove, both in pictures and in manuscripts. 
If you think of this picture for a moment as a 



36 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

coloured pattern, you will see how pretty it is. 
The blue wings against the gold background make 
a hedge for the angel faces and look extremely 
well. If the figure of Richard II. seems flat, if 
you feel as though he were cut out of cardboard 
and had no thickness, then turn your mind to 
consider only the outline of the figure. It is very 
graceful. Artists in the thirteenth century some- 
times made their figures over-long if they thought 
that a sweep of graceful line would look well in a 
certain position in their picture ; the drapery was 
bent into impossible curves if so they fell into a 
pretty pattern. 

In the fourteenth century, beauty of outlines 
still prevailed, even when they contained plain 
masses of brilliant colour so pure and gem -like 
that the pictures almost came to look like 
stained - glass windows. In fact probably the 
constant sight of stained -glass windows in the 
churches greatly influenced the painters' way 
of work. The contrast of divers colours placed 
next one another was more startling than we 
find in later painting, whilst an effort was made 
to finish every detail as though it were to be 
looked at through a magnifying glass. 



RICHARD II. 37 

In this picture which we are now learning how 
to see, the Virgin was to be shown standing in a 
meadow of flowers. A modern artist knows how 
to paint the general effect of many flowers growing 
out of grass, but the medieval painter had not the 
skill to do that. He had not learnt to look at the 
effect of a mass of flowers as a whole, nor could he 
have rendered such an effect with the colours and 
processes he possessed. He knew what one flower 
looked like, and thought that many must be a 
continued repetition of one. But it was impossible 
to paint a great number of flowers close together, 
each finished in detail, so he chose instead to paint 
a few as completely as he could, and leave the rest 
to the imagination of the spectator. That was his 
way of making a selection from nature ; thus he 
hoped to suggest the idea of a flowery meadow, 
since he could not hope to render the look of it. 

Likewise, all the details of the dresses are 
minutely painted. The robes of Richard and of 
Edmund the Martyr are beautiful examples of 
the careful and painstaking work character- 
istic of the Middle Ages. No medieval painter 
spared himself trouble. Although he had not 
mastered the art of drawing the figure, he had 



38 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

learnt how to paint jewellery and stuffs beautifully, 
and delighted in doing it. The drawing of the 
figures you can see to be imperfect, yet nothing 
could be sweeter in feeling than the bevy of girl 
angels with roses in their hair surrounding the 
Virgin. Most of them are not unlike English girls 
of the present day, and the critics who say that 
this picture must have been painted by a French- 
man may be asked where he is likely to have found 
these English models for his angels. 

Possibly the face of Richard himself may have 
been painted from life, for the features correspond 
closely enough with the large full-face portrait of 
him in Westminster Abbey, and with the sculp- 
tured figure upon his tomb. He certainly does 
not look like a child of ten, for his state robes 
and crown give him a grown-up appearance. But 
if you regard the face carefully you can see that it 
is still that of a child. 

The gold background in the original shines 
out brilliantly, for after the gold was laid on, it 
was polished with an agate, which gives it a 
burnished effect, and then the little patterns were 
carefully punched so as not to pierce the gold and 
thereby expose the white ground beneath. There 



RICHARD II. 39 

is a jewel-like quality in the colour such as you 
can see in manuscripts of the time, and it is 
possible that the painter may have learned his art 
as an illuminator of manuscripts. Artists in those 
days seldom confined themselves to one kind of 
work. We do not know this man's name, and are 
not even certain whether he was French or 
English. 

Before, as in the time of Richard, painting had 
been mainly a decorative art, and the object of 
making pictures was to adorn the pages of a 
book, or the walls and vaults of a building. The 
most vital artistic energies of Western Europe in 
the thirteenth century had gone into the building 
of the great cathedrals and abbeys, which are 
to-day the glory of that period. Most medieval 
paintings that still exist in England are decorative 
wall-paintings of this kind, and only traces of a few 
remain. In many country places you can see poor 
and faded vestiges of painting which adorned 
church walls in the thirteenth century, and 
occasionally you may come upon a bit by some 
chance better preserved. These old wall-paintings 
were done upon the dry plaster. The discovery, or 
rather the revival, of ' fresco ' painting (that is, of 



40 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

painting done upon the wet surface of freshly 
plastered walls, a more durable process) was made 
in Italy and did not penetrate to England. 

Richard II. was not the only art-loving King 
of his time. You have read of John, King 
of France, who was taken prisoner at the Battle 
of Poitiers by the Black Prince, father of Richard. 
During his captivity he lived in considerable 
state in London at the Savoy Palace, which 
occupied the site of the present Savoy Hotel 
in the Strand ; he brought his own painter from 
France with him, who painted his portrait which 
still exists in Paris. This King John was the 
father of four remarkable sons, Charles V., King 
of France, with whom Edward III. and the Black 
Prince fought the latter part of the Hundred 
Years' War ; Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy ; 
John, Duke of Berry ; and Louis, Duke of Anjou. 
In this list, all are names of remarkable men and 
great art-patrons, about whom you may some day 
read interesting things. Numerous lovely objects 
still in existence were made for them, and would 
not have been made at all if they had not been 
the men they were. It was only just becoming 
possible in the fourteenth century for a prince 



RICHARD II. 41 

to be an art-patron. That required money, and 
hitherto even princes had rarely been rich. The 
increasing wealth of England, France, and Flanders 
at this time was based upon the wool industry and 
the manufacture and commerce to which it gave 
rise. The Lord Chancellor in the House of Lords 
to this day sits on a woolsack, which is a reminder 
of the time when the woolsacks of England were 
the chief source of the wealth of Enghsh traders. 

After the Black Death, an awful plague that 
swept through Europe in 1349, a large part of the 
land of England was given up to sheep grazing, 
because the population had diminished, and it took 
fewer people to look after sheep than it did to till 
the soil. Although this had been an evil in the 
beginning, it became afterwards a benefit, for 
English wool was sold at an excellent price to the 
merchants of Flanders, who worked it up into 
cloth, and in their turn sold that all over Europe 
with big profits. The larger merchants who 
regulated the wool traffic were prosperous, and so 
too the landowners and princes whose property 
thus increased in value. The four sons of King 
.John became very wealthy men. Philip the Bold, 
Duke of Burgundy, by marrying the heiress of the 



42 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

Count of Flanders acquired the Flemish territory 
and the wealth obtained from the wool trade and 
manufacture there. Berry and Anjou were great 
provinces in France yielding a large revenue to 
their two Dukes. Each of these princes employed 
several artists to illuminate books for him in 
the most splendid way ; they built magnificent 
chateaux, and had tapestries and paintings made 
to decorate their walls. They employed many 
sculptors and goldsmiths, and all gave each 
other as presents works of art executed by their 
favourite artists. In the British Museum there 
is a splendid gold and enamel cup that John, 
Duke of Berry, caused to be made for his brother 
King Charles V. ; to see it would give you a 
good idea of the costliness and elaboration of the 
finest work of that day. The courts of these four 
brothers were centres of artistic production in all 
kinds — sculpture, metal -work, tapestries, illumi- 
nated manuscripts and pictures, and there was a 
strong spirit of rivalry among the artists to see 
who could make the loveliest things, and among 
the patrons as to which could secure the best 
artists in his service. 

These four princes gave an important impulse 



RICHARD II. 43 

to the production of beautiful things in France, 
Burgundy, and Flanders, but it is needless to burden 
you with the artists' names. 

In the fourteenth century an artist was a work- 
man who existed to do well the work that was desired 
of him. He was not an independent man with 
ideas of his own, who attempted to make a living 
by painting what he thought beautiful, without 
reference to the ideas of a buyer. Of course, if 
people prefer and buy good things when they see 
them, good things will be likely to be made, but if 
those with money to spend have no taste and buy 
bad things or order ugly things to be made, then 
the men who had it in them to be great artists may 
die unnoticed, because the beautiful things they 
could have made are not called for. To-day 
many people spend something upon art and a few 
spend a great deal. Let us hope we may not see 
too much of the money spent in creating a demand 
for what is bad rather than for what is beautiful. 

It was not unusual in the fourteenth century for 
a man to be at one and the same time painter, illumi- 
nator, sculptor, metal-worker, and designer of any 
object that might be called for. One of these many 
gifted men, Andre Beauneveu of Valenciennes, a 



44 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

good sculptor and a painter of some exquisite 
miniatures, is sometimes supposed to have been the 
painter of our picture of Richard II. In the absence 
of any signature or any definite record it is im- 
possible to say who painted it, but it is unnecessary 
to assume that it must have been painted by a 
French artist, since we know that at the end of the 
fourteenth century there were very good painters 
in England. 

It was by no means an exception not to sign a 
picture in those days, for the artists had not begun 
to think of themselves as individuals entitled to 
public fame. Hand -workers of the fourteenth 
century mostly belonged to a corporation or guild 
composed of all the other workers at the same trade 
in the same town, and to this rule artists were no ex- 
ception. Each man received a recognized price for 
his work, and the officers of the guild saw to it that 
he obtained that price and that he worked with 
good and durable materials. There were certain 
advantages in this, but it involved some loss of 
freedom in the artist, since all had to conform to 
the rules of the guild. The system was charac- 
teristic of the Middle Ages, and arose from the fact 
that in those troublous times every isolated person 



RICHARD II. 45 

needed protection and was content to merge his 
individuality in some society in order to obtain it. 
The guilds made for peace and diminished com- 
petition, so that a guildsman may have been less 
tempted to hurry over or scamp his task. The 
result was much honest, careful work such as you 
see in the original of this picture. We are told 
by those who know best that there has never been 
a time when the actual workmanship of the general 
run of craftsmen was better than in the Middle 
Ages. 

This picture of Richard II. has not faded or 
cracked or fallen off the panel, and it seems as 
though we may hope it never will, for it was well 
made and, what is even more important, it seems 
always to have been well cared for. If only the 
nice things that are produced were all well cared 
for, how many more of them there would be in the 
world ! 



CHAPTER IV 



THE VAN EYCKS 



Before passing to Hubert van Eyck, the painter 
of the original of our next picture, please compare 
carefully the picture of Richard II. and this of the 
Three Maries, looking first at one and then at the 
other. The subject of the visit of the Maries to 
the Sepulchre is, of course, well known to you, 
but let us read the beautiful passage from St. 
Matthew telling of it, that we may see how faith- 
fully in every detail it was followed by Hubert 
van Eyck. 

In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward 
the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene, and the 
other Mary, to see the Sepulchre. And, behold, there was a 
great earthquake : for the Angel of the Lord descended from 
Heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, 
and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and 



46 



THE VAN EYCKS 47 

his raiment white as snow : And for fear of him the keepers 
did shake, and became as dead men. 

Surely this would be thought a beautiful picture 
had it been painted at any time, but when you 
compare it with the Richard II. diptych does it not 
seem to you as though a long era divided the two ? 
Yet one was painted less than fifty years after the 
other. It is the attitude of mind of the painter 
that makes the difference. 

In the diptych, although the portrait of Richard 
himself was a likeness, the setting was imaginary 
and symbolic. The artist wished to tell in his 
picture how all the Kings who succeed one 
another upon the throne of England alike depend 
upon the protection of Heaven, and how Richard 
in his turn acknowledged that dependence, and 
pledged his loyalty to the Blessed Virgin and her 
Holy Child. That picture was intended to take 
the mind of the spectator away from the everyday 
world and suggest grave thought, and such was 
likewise in the main the purpose of all paintings in 
the Middle Ages. But we are now leaving the 
Middle Ages behind and approaching a new world 
nearer to our own. 

Hubert van Eyck, in attempting to depict the 



48 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

event at the Sepulchre as it might actually have 
occurred outside the walls of the City of Jerusa- 
lem, was doing something quite novel in his day. 
His picture might almost be called a Bible illustra- 
tion. It is at least painted in the same practical 
spirit as that of a man painting an illustration for 
any other book. It is not a picture meant to help 
one to pray, or meditate. It does not express any 
reliffious idea. It was intended to be the vera- 
cious representation of an actual event, shown as, 
and when, and how it happened, true to the facts 
so far as Hubert knew them. 

He has dressed the Maries in robes with 
wrought borders of Hebrew characters, imitated 
from embroidered stuffs, such as at that time were 
imported into Europe from the East. The dresses 
are not accurate copies of eastern dresses ; Hubert 
would scarcely have known what those were like, 
but was doing his best to paint costumes that 
should look oriental. Mary Magdalen wears a 
turban, and the keeper on the right has a strange 
peaked cap with Hebrew letters on it. Hebrew 
scholars have done their best to read the inscrip- 
tions on these clothes, but we must infer that 
Hubert only copied the letters without knowing 



THE VAN EYCKS 49 

what they meant, since it has not been possible 
to make any sense of them. In the foreground 
are masses of flowers most carefully painted, 
and so accurately drawn that botanists have 
been able to identify them all ; several do not 
grow in the north of Europe. The town at the 
back is something like Jerusalem as it looked 
in Hubert van Eyck's own day. A few of the 
buildings can be identified still, and a general view 
of Jerusalem taken in 1486, sixty years after the 
death of Hubert, bears some resemblance to the town 
in this picture. The city is painted in miniature, 
much as it would look if you saw it from near at 
hand. Every tower, house, and window is there. 
You can even count the battlements. The great 
building with the dome in the middle of the 
picture, is the Mosque of Omar, which occupies 
the supposed site of Solomon s Temple. 

Some people have thought that perhaps Hubert 
van Eyck, and his brother John, actually went to 
the East. Many men made pilgrimages in those 
days, and almost every year parties of Christian 
pilgrims went to Jerusalem. It was a rough and 
even a dangerous journey, but not at all impossible 

for a patient traveller. Dr. Hulin, who has made 

7 



50 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

wonderful discoveries about the early Flemish 
painters, found a mention, in an old sixteenth- 
century list, of a * Portrait of a Moorish King or 
Prince' by Van Eyck, painted in 1414 or perhaps 
1418. If he painted a portrait of an oriental prince, 
he may have visited one oriental country at least, 
or at any rate the south of Spain. Probably enough 
during that journey he made studies of the cypress, 
stone-pine, date-palm, olive, orange, and palmetto, 
which occur in his pictures. They grow in the 
south of Spain and other Mediterranean regions, 
but not in the cold north where Hubert spent most 
of his days. 

It is difficult at first to realize what an innova- 
tion it was for Hubert van Eyck to paint such a 
landscape. In the Richard II. diptych there is 
just a suggestion of brown earth for the saints to 
stand upon, but the rest of the background is of 
gold, as was the common practice at the time. 
The great innovator, Giotto, in some of his pictures 
had attempted to paint landscape backgrounds. 
In his fresco of St. Francis preaching to the birds 
there is a tree for them to perch on, but it seems 
more like a garden vegetable than a tree. Even 
his buildings look as though they might fall together 



THE VAN EYCKS 51 

any moment like a pack of cards. Hubert not 
only gives landscape a larger place than it ever had 
in any great picture before, but he paints it with 
such skill and apparent confidence that we should 
never dream he was doing it almost for the first 
time. 

St. Matthew says : * As it began to dawn 
towards the first day of the week, came Mary 
Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the Sepul- 
chre.' Even in this point Hubert wished to be 
accurate. The rising sun is hidden behind the 
rocks on the left side of the picture, for it was not 
until years later that any painter ventured to paint 
the sun in the heavens. But the rays from the 
hidden orb strike the castles on the hills with shafts 
of lio;ht. The town remains in shadow, while the 
sky is lit up with floods of glory. An effect such 
as this must have been very carefully studied from 
nature. Hubert was evidently one who looked at 
the world with observant eyes and found it beautiful. 
When he had flowers to paint, he painted the 
whole plant accurately, not the blossoms individu- 
ally, like the painter of Richard II. He liked fine 
stuffs, embroideries, jewels, and glittering armour. 
He was no visionary trying to free himself from 



52 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

the earth and live in contemplation of the angels 
and saints in Paradise, like so many of the thirteenth 
and fourteenth century artists. 

In this new delightful interest in the world as it 
is, he reflected the tendency of his day. The fifty 
years that had elapsed between the painting of 
Richard II.'s portrait and the work of the Van 
Eycks, had seen a great development of trade and 
industry in Flanders. Hubert was born, perhaps 
about 1365, at Maas Eyck, from which he takes his 
name. Maas Eyck was a little town on the banks 
of the river Maas, near the frontier of the present 
Holland and Belgium. He may have spent most 
of his life in Ghent, the town officials of which city 
paid him a visit in 1425 to see his work, and gave 
six groats to his apprentices in memory of their visit. 
Where he learnt his art, where he worked before 
he came to Ghent, we do not know for certain, but 
there is reason to think that he was employed for a 
while in Holland by the Count. 

John, his brother, concerning whom more facts 
have been gathered, is said to have been twenty 
years younger than Hubert. He was a painter too, 
and worked in the employ of Philip the Good, Duke 
of Burgundy and Count of Flanders, the grandson 



THE VAN EYCKS 53 

of Philip the Bold, who was one of those four sons of 
King John of France mentioned in our last chapter 
Philip the Good continued the traditions of his 
family and was in his time a great art-patron. His 
grandfather had fostered an important school of 
sculpture in Flanders and Burgundy, which culmi- 
nated in the superb statues still existing at Dijon. 
Like his brother the Duke of Berry, he had 
given work to a number of miniature painters. 
The Count of Holland also employed some 
wonderful miniature painters to beautify a manu- 
script for him. This manuscript and one made for 
the Duke of Berry were among the finest ever 
painted so far as the pictures in them are concerned. 
The Count of Holland's book used to be in the 
library at Turin, where it was burnt a few years ago, 
so we can see it no more. But the fortunate ones 
who did see it thought that the pictures in it were 
actually painted by the Van Eycks when they were 
young. The Duke of Berry's finest book is at 
Chantilly and is well known. Both this and the 
Turin book contained the loveliest early landscapes, 
a little earlier in date than this landscape in the 
' Three Maries ' picture. So you see why it is said 
that the illuminators first invented beautiful land- 



54 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

scape painting, and that landscapes were painted in 
books before they were painted as pictures to hang 
on walls. 

The practical spirit in which Hubert van Eyck 
worked exactly matched the sensible, matter-of- 
fact Flemish character. The Flemings, even in 
pictures of the Madonna, wanted the Virgin to wear 
a gown made of the richest stuff that could be 
woven, truthfully painted, with jewels of the finest 
Flemish workmanship, and they liked to see a 
landscape behind her studied from their own 
native surroundings. 

No man could try to paint things as they looked, 
in the way Hubert did, without making great pro- 
gress in drawing. If you compare the drawing of 
the angel appearing to the Maries with any of the 
angels wearing the badge of Richard II., you will 
see how much more life-like is the angel of Hubert. 
The painter of Richard II. was not happy with his 
figures unless they were standing up or kneeling in 
profile, but Hubert van Eyck can draw them with 
tolerable success lying down, or sitting huddled. 
He can also combine a group in a natural manner. 
The absence of formal arrangement in the picture 
of the Maries is quite new in medieval art. 



THE VAN EYCKS 55 

The painter of Richard II. had known very 
little about perspective. The science of drawing 
things as they look from one point of view has 
no doubt been taught to all of you. You know 
certain rules about vanishing points and can apply 
them in your drawing. But you would have found 
it very hard to invent perspective without being 
taught. I can remember drawing a matchbox by 
the light of nature, and very queer it contrived to 
become. Medieval artists were in exactly that 
same case. The artists of the ancient world had 
discovered some of the laws of perspective, but 
the secret was lost, and artists in the Middle 
Ages had to discover them all over again. 
Hubert van Eyck made a great stride toward 
the attainment of this knowledge. When you 
look at the picture the perspective does not 
strike you as glaringly wrong, though there was 
still much that remained to be discovered by later 
men, as we shall see in our next chapter. 

The brothers Van Eyck were, first and foremost, 
good workmen. Few other painters in the whole 
of the world's history have aimed at anything like 
the same finish of detail. In the original of this 
picture the oriental pot which the green Mary 



56 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

holds in her hand is a perfect marvel of workman- 
ship. There is no detail so small but that when 
you look into it you discover some fresh wonder. 
A story is told of how Hubert van Eyck painted a 
picture upon which he had lavished his usual pains- 
taking care. But when he put it in the sun to dry, 
the panel cracked down the middle. After this dis- 
appointment Hubert went to work and invented a 
new substance with which colours are made liquid, 
a ' medium ' as it is called, which when mixed with 
colour dried hard and quickly. It was possible to 
paint with the new medium in finer detail than 
before, and the Flemish artists universally adopted 
it. While very little was remembered about the 
facts of Hubert van Eyck's life, his name was always 
associated with the discovery of a new method of 
painting, and on that account held in great honour. 
The ' Three Maries ' is in many respects the most 
attractive of the pictures ascribed to Hubert, but 
his most famous work was a larger picture, or 
assemblage of pictures framed together, the 'Adora- 
tion of the Lamb,' in St. Bavon's Church at Ghent. 
It is an altar-piece — a painting set up over an altar 
m a church or chapel to aid the devotions of those 
worshipping there. Many of the panels of the 



THE VAN EYCKS 57 

Ghent altar-piece are now in the Museums of 
Berlin and Brussels. They belonged to the 
wings or shutters which were made to close 
over the central parts, and which used also to be 
painted outside and inside with devotional or 
related subjects. The four great central panels on 
which these shutters used to close are still at 
Ghent. The subject of the * Adoration of the 
Lamb' was taken from Revelations, where before 
the Lamb has opened the seals of the book, St. 
John says : 

And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, 
and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that 
are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, 
and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and 
unto the Lamb for ever and ever. 

Hubert has figured this verse by assembling, as 
in one time and place, representatives of Christen- 
dom. They who worship are the prophets, 
apostles, popes, martyrs, and virgins. On each 
side of the central panel the just judges, the 
soldiers of Christ, the hermits, and the pilgrims, 
advance to join the throng around the Lamb. 
Most beautiful of all is the crowd of virgin 

martyrs bearing palms, moving over the green 

8 



58 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

grass carpeted with flowers, to adore the Lamb of 
God, the Redeemer of the World. Above, God 
the Father, the Virgin Mother, and St. John the 
Baptist, with crowns of wonderful workmanship, 
are throned amid choirs of singing and playing 
angels on either hand. 

The picture does not illustrate the descrip- 
tion of the Adoration of the Lamb in the fifth 
chapter of Revelations so faithfully as the picture 
of the ' Three Maries ' illustrated St. Matthew. The 
Lamb has not seven horns and seven eyes, and the 
four beasts and twenty-four elders are not falling 
down before it and adoring. The Lamb is an 
ordinary sheep, and the picture is a symbolic 
expression of the Catholic faith, founded upon a 
biblical text, but not what could be described 
as *a Bible illustration.' People in the JNIiddle 
Ages liked to embody their faith in a visible 
form, and we are told that theologians frequently 
drew up schemes of doctrine which painters did 
their best to translate into pictures, and sculptors 
into sculpture. Such works of art were for 
instruction rather than beauty, though some also 
served well the purpose of decoration. 

Josse Vyt, who ordered the picture, and whose 



THE VAN EYCKS 59 

portrait, with that of his wife, is painted on the 
shutters, no doubt explained exactly what he 
wanted, and Hubert sought to please him.^ But 
although the design of the central panel was old- 
fashioned and symbolic, Hubert was able to do 
what he liked with the landscape, and with the 
individual figures. They are real men and women 
with varieties of expression such as had not been 
painted before, and the landscape is even more 
beautiful than the one at the back of the 'Three 
Maries.' Snow mountains rise in the distance, and 
beautiful cypresses and palms of all kinds clothe the 
green slopes behind the Lamb. There are flowers 
in the grass and jewels for pebbles in the brook. 
Behind, you can see the Cathedrals of Utrecht 
and Cologne, St. John's of Maestricht, and more 
churches and houses besides, and the walls of a 
town, and wide stretches of green country. 

Hubert van Eyck died in 1426, and the picture 
was finished by his younger brother John, of 
whose life, though more is known than of Hubert's, 
we need not here repeat details. Many of his 

1 There are reasons for thinking that the picture may have been 
ordered by some prince who died before it was finished, and that Vyt 
only acquired it later, in time to have his own and his wife's portraits 
added on the shutters. 



60 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

pictures still exist, and the most delightful of them 
for us are his portraits. He was not the first man 
to paint good portraits, but few artists have ever 
painted better likenesses. It seems evident that 
the people in his pictures are 'as like as they 
can stare,' with no wrinkle or scratch left out. 
Portraits in earlier days than these were seldom 
painted for their own sake alone. A pious man 
who wanted to present an altar-piece or a stained- 
glass window to a church would modestly have his 
own image introduced in a corner. By degrees 
such portraits grew in size and scale, and the 
neighbouring saints diminished, till at last the 
saints were left out and the portrait stood alone. 
Then it came about that such a picture was hung 
in its owner's house rather than in a church. One 
of the best portraits John van Eyck ever painted 
is at Bruges — the likeness of his wife. The panel 
was discovered about fifty years ago in the 
market-place of Bruges, where an old woman was 
using the back of it to skin eels on ; but so soundly 
had the picture been painted that even this ill- 
usage did not ruin it. The lady was a very plain 
Flemish woman with no beauty of feature or 
expression, but John has revealed her character so 



THE VAN EYCKS 61 

vividly that to look at her likeness is to know her. 
It is indeed a long leap from the Richard II. of 
fifty years before, with its representation of the 
outline of a youth, to this ample realization of a 
mature woman's character. 

John lived till 1441, and had some pupils and 
many imitators. One of these, Roger van der 
Weyden by name, spread his influence far and 
wide throughout the whole of the Netherlands, 
France, and Germany. How important this in- 
fluence was in the history of art we shall see later. 
Many of the imitators of John learnt his accuracy 
and thoroughness of workmanship, but none of 
them attained his deep insight into character. 

During the next fifty years many and beautiful 
were the pictures produced throughout Flanders. 
All of them have a jewel-like brilliance of colour, 
approaching in brightness the hues of the 
Richard II. diptych. The landscape backgrounds 
are charming miniatures of towns by the side of 
rivers with spanning bridges. The painting of 
textures is exquisite. But the Flemish face, 
placid, plump, and fair-haired, prevails throughout. 
In the pictures of Paradise, where the saints and 
angels play with the Infant Christ, we still feel 



62 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

chained to the earth, because the figures and faces 
are the unideaHzed images of those one might have 
met in the streets of Bruges and Ghent. This is 
not a criticism on the artists. The merit of their 
work is unchallenged ; and how could they paint 
physical beauty by them scarce ever seen ? Yet when 
all has been said in praise of the Flemish School, 
the brothers Van Eyck, the founders of it, remain 
its greatest representatives, and their work is still 
regarded with that high and almost universal vene- 
ration which is the tribute of the greatest achieve- 
ment. 



CHAPTER V 

THE RENAISSANCE 

Who is this old gentleman in our next picture 
reading so quietly and steadily ? Does he not 
look absorbed in his book ? Certainly the peacock, 
the bird, and the cat do not worry him or each 
other, and there is still another animal in the 
distance — a lion I Can you see him ? He is 
walking down the cloister pavement on the right, 
with his foot lifted as though it were hurt. The 
story is that this particular lion limped into the 
monastery in which this old man lived, and while 
all the other monks fled in terror, this monk saw 
that the lion's fore -paw was hurt. He raised it 
up, found what was the matter, and pulled out the 
thorn ; and ever afterwards the lion lived peacefully 
in the monastery with him. Now, whenever you 
see a lion in a picture with an old monk, him you 

63 



64 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

will know to be St. Jerome. He was a learned 
Christian father who lived some fifteen hundred 
years ago, yet his works are still read, spoken, 
and heard every day throughout the world. He 
it was who made the standard Latin version of 
the Scriptures. The services in Roman Catholic 
churches in all countries are held in Latin to this 
day, and St. Jerome's translation of the Bible, 
called the Vulgate, is the version still in use. 

Here you see St. Jerome depicted sitting in his 
own study, reading to prepare himself for his great 
undertaking ; and what a study it is ! You must 
go to the National Gallery to enjoy all the details, 
for the original painting is only 18 inches high 
by 14 inches broad, and the books and writing 
materials are so tiny that some are inevitably lost 
in this beautiful photograph. The study is really 
a part of a monastery assigned to St. Jerome 
himself, his books, manuscripts, and other such 
possessions. He has a pot of flowers and a dwarf 
tree, and a towel to dry his hands on, and a 
beautiful chair at his desk. He has taken off his 
dusty shoes and left them at the foot of the steps. 

The painter of this picture must have had in his 
mind a very happy idea of St. Jerome. Others 




St. Jerome in his Study. 

From the picture by Antonello da Messina, in the National Gallery, London. 



THE RENAISSANCE 65 

have sometimes painted him as they thought he 
looked when Hving in a horrible desert, as he 
did for four years. But at the time this picture 
was painted, about the year 1470, St. Jerome in 
his study was a more usual subject for painters than 
St. Jerome in the desert. One reason of this was 
that in Italy, in the latter half of the fifteenth 
century, St. Jerome was considered the patron 
saint of scholars, and for the first time since 
the fall of the Roman Empire, scholars were 
perhaps the most influential people of the day. 

Of course you all know something about the 
remarkable revival of learning in the fifteenth 
century, which started in Italy, spread northward, 
and reached England in the reign of Henry VIII. 
Before the fifteenth century, Italians seem to have 
been indifferent to the monuments around them 
of ancient civilization. Suddenly they were fired 
with a passion for antiquity. They learnt Greek 
and began to take a keen interest in the doings of 
the Greeks and Romans, who in many ways had 
lived a life so far superior to their own. Arti^^ts 
studied the old statues, which taught them the 
beauty of the human figure. The reacquired 
wisdom of the ancients by degrees broke down 



66 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

the medieval barriers. There was born a spirit 
of enterprise into the world of thought as well 
as into the world of fact, which revolutionized life 
and art. The period which witnessed this great 
mental change is well known as the Renaissance 
or 'rebirth.' 

When you first looked at this picture you 
must have thought it very different from the two 
earlier ones. Such a subject could only have been 
painted thus in an age when men admired the 
scholar's life. Though the figure is called that of 
St. Jerome, there is really nothing typically saintly 
about him ; he is only serious. The subjects 
chosen by painters of the Renaissance were no 
longer almost solely religious, but began to be 
selected from the world of everyday life ; even 
when the subject was taken from Christian legend, 
it was now generally treated as an event happening 
in the actual world of the painter's own day. 

The manner in which this picture is painted is 
still more suggestive of change than the subject 
itself Our artist knew a great deal about the 
new science of perspective, for instance. One 
might almost think that, pleased with his new 
knowledge, he had multiplied the number of 



THE RENAISSANCE 67 

objects on the shelves so as to show how well he 
could foreshorten them. Medieval painters had 
not troubled about perspective, and were more 
concerned, as we have seen, to make a pretty 
pattern of shapes and colours for their pictures. 
The Van Eycks, as we noted, only acquired the 
beginnings of an understanding of it, and were very 
proud of their new knowledge. It was in Italy 
that all the rules were at last brought to light. 

The Renaissance Period in Italy may be con- 
sidered as lasting from 1400 to 1550. The pioneer 
artists who mastered perspective and worked at 
the human figure till they could draw it correctly 
in any attitude, lived in the first seventy-five years 
of the fifteenth century. They were the breakers 
of stone and hewers of wood who prepared the way 
for the greater artists of the end of the century, 
but in the process of learning, many of them 
painted very lovely things. 

The painter of our picture lived within those 
seventy-five years. He was, probably, a certain 
Antonello of Messina — that same town in Sicily 
recently wrecked by earthquakes. Of his life little 
is known. He seems to have worked chiefly in 
Venice where there was a fine school of painting 



6% THE CHILDREN'S BOOK 6¥ ART 

during the Renaissance Period ; his senior Gio- 
vanni Bellini, one of the early great painters 6f 
Venice, some of whose pictures are in the Nationiail 
Gallery, taught him much. It is also said that 
Antonello went to the Netherlands and there learnt 
the method of laying paint on panel invented by 
the Van Eycks. Modern students say he did not, 
but that he picked up his way of painting in Italy. 
Certainly he and other Venetians and Italians 
about this time improved their technical methods 
as the Van Eycks had done, and this picture is an 
early example of that more brilliant fashion of 
painting. There is here a Flemish love of detail. 
The Italian painters had been more accustomed to 
painting upon walls than the Flemings, for the 
latter had soon discovered that a damp northern 
climate was not favourable to the preservation of 
wall-paintings. Fresco does not admit of much 
detail, as each day's work has to be finished in the 
day, before the plaster dries. Thus, a long tradi- 
tion of fresco painting had accustomed the Italian 
painters to a broad method of treatment, which they 
maintained to a certain extent even in their panel 
pictures. But in our St. Jerome we see a wealth 
of detail unsurpassed even by John van Eyck. 



""THE RENAISSANCE -69 

'Dne needs a magnify ing-glass to see everything 
there is to be seen in the landscape through the 
window on the left Besides the city with its 
towers and walls and the mountains behind, there 
is a river in the foreground where two little 
people are sitting in a boat. Observe every tiny 
stone in the pavement, and every open page of the 
books on the shelves. Here, too, is breadth in the 
handling. Hold the book far away from you, so 
that the detail of the picture vanishes and only 
the broad masses of the composition stand out. 
You still have what is essential. The picture is 
one in which Italian feeling and sentiment blend 
with Flemish technique and love of little things. 
There has always been something of a mystery 
about the picture, and you must not be surprised 
some day if you hear it asserted that Antonello 
did not paint it at all. Such changes in the attri- 
butions of unsigned paintings are not uncommon. 

One of the greatest pioneer artists of the 
fifteenth century was Andrea Mantegna of Padua 
in the north of Italy. More than any other painter 
of his day, he devoted himself to the study of 
ancient sculpture, even to the extent of sometimes 
painting in monochrome to imitate the actual 



70 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

marble. Paintings by him, which look like sculp- 
tured reliefs, are in the National Gallery ; and at 
Hampton Court is a series of cartoons representing 
the Triumph of Julius Caesar, in which the concep- 
tion and the handling are throughout inspired by 
old Roman bas-reliefs. In other pictures of his, 
the figures look as though cast of bronze, for he 
was likewise influenced by the sculptors of his 
own day, particularly by the Florentine Dona- 
tello, one of the geniuses of the early Renaissance. 
Mantegna's studies of form in sculpture made him 
an excellent draughtsman. Strangely enough, it 
was this very severe artist who was, perhaps, the 
first to depict the charm of babyhood. Often he 
draws his babes wrapped in swaddling clothes, 
with their little fingers in their mouths, or else in 
the act of crying, with their eyes screwed up tight, 
and their mouths wide open. Such a combination 
of hard sculpturesque modelling with extreme 
tenderness of feeling has a charm of its own. 

We have now just one more picture of a 
sacred subject to look at, one of the last that still 
retains much of the old beautiful religious spirit 
of the Middle Ages. The painter of it, Sandro 
Botticelli, a Florentine, in whom were blended the 



THE RENAISSANCE 71 

piety of the Middle Ages and the intellectual life 
of the Renaissance, was a very interesting man, 
whose like we shall not find among the painters of 
his own or later days. He was born in 1446, in 
Florence, the city in Italy most alive to the new 
ideas and the new learning. Its governing family, 
the Medici, of whom you have doubtless read, 
surrounded themselves with a brilliant society of 
accomplished men, and adorned their palaces with 
the finest works of art that could be produced in 
their time. The best artists from the surrounding 
country were attracted to Florence in the hope of 
working for the family, who were ever ready to 
employ a man of artistic gifts. 

In such an atmosphere an original and alert person 
like Botticelli could not fail to keep step with the 
foremost of his day. His fertile fancy was charmed 
by the revived stories of Greek Mythology, and for 
a time he gave himself up to the painting of pagan 
subjects such as the Birth of Venus from the Sea, and 
the lovely allegory of Spring with Venus, Cupid, and 
the Three Graces. He was one of the early artists 
to break through the old wall of religious conven- 
tion, painting frankly mythological subjects, and he 
did them in an exquisite manner all his own. 



72 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

The true spirit of beauty dwelt within him, and 
all that he painted and designed was graceful in 
form and beautiful in colour. If, for instance, you 
look closely into the designs of the necks of 
dresses in his pictures, you will find them delightful 
to copy and far superior to the ordinary designs 
for such things made to-day. In his love of 
beauty and his keen appreciation of the new 
possibilities of painting he was a true child of the 
Renaissance, though he had not the joyous nature 
so characteristic of the time. Moreover, as I have 
said, he retained the old sweet religious spirit, and 
clothed it with new forms of beauty in his sacred 
paintings. There is something pathetic about 
many of these — the Virgin, while she nurses the 
Infant Christ, seems to foresee all the sorrow in 
store for her, and but little of the joy. The girl 
angels who nestle around her in so many of his 
pictures, have faces of exquisite beauty, but in 
most of them, notwithstanding the fact that they 
are evidently painted from Florentine girls of the 
time, Botticelli has infiised his own personal note 
of sadness. 

At the end of the fifteenth century, when 
Botticelli was beginning to grow old, great events 




The Nativity. 

From the picture by Sandro Botticelli, in the National Gallery. London. 



THE RENAISSANCE 73 

took place in Florence. Despite the revival of 
learning, we are told by historians that the Church 
was becoming corrupt and the people more 
pleasure-loving and less interested in the religious 
life. Then it was that Savonarola, a friar in one 
of the convents of Florence, all on fire with 
enthusiasm for purity and goodness, began to 
awaken the hearts of the people with his burning 
eloquence, and his denunciations of their worldli- 
ness and the deadness of the Church. He pro- 
phesied a great outpouring of the wrath of God, 
and in particular that the Church would be purified 
and renewed after a quick and terrible punishment. 
The passion, the conviction, the eloquence of Savo- 
narola for a time carried the people of Florence 
away, and Botticelli with them, so that he became 
one of the * mourners ' as the preacher's followers 
were called. 

At this time many persons burnt in great ' bon- 
fires of vanities ' all the pretty trinkets that they 
possessed. But when the prophecies did not 
literally come true, and the people began to be 
weary of Savonarola's vehemence, we read that a 
reaction set in, which afforded a chance for his 
enemies within the Church, whom he had lashed 

10 



74 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

with his tongue from the pulpit of the cathedral. 
They contrived to have him tried for heresy and 
burnt in the market-place of Florence, in the 
midst of the people who so shortly before had 
hung on every word that fell from his lips. 

This tragedy entirely overwhelmed Botticelli, 
who thenceforward almost abandoned painting, and 
gave up his last years to the practices of the religious 
life. It was at this time, says Mr. Home, and under 
the influence of these emotions, in the year 1500, 
when he was sixty years of age, that he painted the 
picture here reproduced, as an illustration to the 
prophecies of Savonarola, and a tribute to his 
memory. Savonarola had been wont to use the 
descriptions, in the Book of Revelations, of the 
woes that were to fall upon the earth before the 
building of the new Jerusalem, to illustrate his 
prophecy of the scourge that was to come upon 
Italy, before the Church became purified from the 
wickedness of the times. At the top of the 
picture is written in Greek : 

I, Sandro, painted this picture at the end of the year 
1500, during the troubles of Italy, in the half year after 
the first year of the loosing of the Devil for 3^ years, in 
accordance with the fulfilment of the 11th chapter of the 



THE RENAISSANCE 75 

Revelations of St. John. Then shall the Devil be chained, 
according to the 12th chapter, and we shall see him trodden 
down as in the picture. 

The Devil which was loosed for three and a half 

years stood for the stage of wickedness through 

which Botticelli believed that Florence was passing 

in 1500. In the bottom corners of the picture 

you can see minute little devils running away 

discomfited ; otherwise all is pure joy and peace, 

symbolic of the gladness to come upon Italy when 

the Church had been purified : 

When Life is difficulty I dream 

Of how the angels dance in Heaven. 

Of how the angels dance and sing 

In gardens of eternal springs 

Because their sins have been forgiven .... 

And never more for them shall be 

The terrors of mortality. 

When life is difficulty I dream 

Of how the angels dance in Heaven i 

That is what Botticelli dreamed. He saw the 
beautiful angels in green, white, and red dancing 
with joy, because of the birth of their Saviour, and 
into their hands he put scrolls, upon which were 
written : — ' Glory to God in the Highest.' The 

* By Lady Alfred Douglas. 



76 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

rest of the verse, * Peace and goodwill towards 
men ' is on the scrolls of the shepherds, brought by 
the angel to behold the Babe lying in the manger. 
The three men, embraced with such eagerness and 
joy by the three angels in the foreground, are Savo- 
narola and his two chief companions, burnt with 
him, who, after their long suffering upon earth, 
have found reward and happiness in heaven. 

Such is the meaning of this beautiful little 
picture, as spiritual in idea as any of the paintings 
of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. 
But while the earlier painters had striven with 
inadequate powers to express the religious feel- 
ing that was in them, Botticelli's skill matched 
his thought. His drawing of the angels in 
their Greek dresses is very lovely, and one 
scarce knows in any picture a group surpass- 
ing that of the three little ones upon the roof 
of the manger, nor will you soon see a lovelier 
Virgin's face than hers. Botticelli had great power 
of showing the expression in a face, and the 
movement in a figure. Here the movements may 
seem overstrained, a fault which grew upon him in 
his old age ; the angel, with the two shepherds on 
the right, has come skimming over the ground and 



THE RENAISSANCE 77 

points emphatically at the Babe, and the angel in 
front embraces Savonarola with vehemence. The 
artists of the early Renaissance had learnt with so 
much trouble to draw figures in motion that their 
pleasure in their newly acquired skill sometimes 
made them err by exaggeration as their prede- 
cessors by stiffness. 

The way in which Botticelli treated this 
subject of the Nativity of Christ, is, as you 
see, very different from the way in which Hubert 
van Eyck painted the Three Maries at the 
Sepulchre. We saw how the latter pictured the 
event as actually taking place outside Jerusalem. 
To Botticelli the Nativity of Christ was em- 
blematic of a new and happier life for people in 
Florence, with the Church regenerated and purified, 
as Christ would have wished it to be. To him the 
Nativity was a symbol of purity, so he painted the 
picture as a commentary on the event, not as an 
illustration of the Biblical text. 

The angels rejoice in heaven as the shepherds 
upon earth, the devils flee away discomfited, and 
Savonarola and his companions obtain peace after 
the tribulations of life. Such was the message of 
Botticelli in the picture here reproduced. 



CHAPTER VI 



RAPHAEL 



The original of our next picture is very small, only 
seven inches square, yet I hope it will instantly 
appeal to you. The name of the artist, Raphael, 
is perhaps the most familiar of all the names of the 
Old Masters, mainly, it may be, because he was 
the painter of the Sistine Madonna, the best 
known and best loved of Madonnas. 

When Raphael drew and painted this picture of 
the ' Knight's Dream,' about the year 1500, he was 
himself like a young knight, at the outset of his 
short and brilliant career. As a boy he was hand- 
some, gifted, charming. His nature is said to have 
been as lovely as his gifts were great, and he passed 
his short life in a triumphant progress from city to 
city and court to court, always working hard and 
always painting so beautifully that he won the 

78 




The Knight's Dream. 
From the picture by Raphael, in the National Gallery, London. 



RAPHAEL 79 

admiration of artists, princes, and popes. His 
father, Giovanni Santi, was a painter living in the 
town of Urbino, in Central Italy, but Raphael 
when quite young went to Perugia to study 
with the painter Perugino, a native of that 
town. 

Perugia stands upon a high hill, like the hill in 
the background of the picture of the 'Knight's 
Dream,' only higher, for from it you can overlook 
the wide Umbrian plain as far as Assisi — the home 
of St. Francis — which lies on the slope of the next 
mountain. That beautiful Umbrian landscape, in 
which all the towns look like castles perched upon 
the top of steep hills, with wide undulating ground 
between, occurs frequently in the pictures of Peru- 
gino, and often in those of his pupil Raphael. 
If you have once seen the view from Perugia for 
yourself, you will realize how strongly it took hold 
of the imagination of the young painter. Raphael 
had a most impressionable mind. It was part of 
his genius that, from every painter with whom he 
came in contact he imbibed the best, almost with- 
out knowing it. The artists of his day, Michel- 
angelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the other great 
men, were each severally employed in working out 



80 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

once and for all some particular problem in con- 
nection with their art. Michelangelo, a giant in 
intellect, painter, sculptor, architect, and poet, 
studied the human body as it had not been studied 
since the days of ancient Greece. His sculptured 
figures on the tombs of the Medici in Florence rank 
second only to those of the greatest Greek sculptors, 
and his ceiling in the Sistine Chapel is composed of 
a series of masterpieces of figure -painting. He 
devoted himself largely in his sculpture and his 
painting to the representation of the naked human 
body, and made it futile in his successors to plead 
ignorance as an excuse for bad drawing. As a 
colourist he was not pre-eminent, and his few panel 
pictures are for the most part unfinished. 

Leonardo da Vinci, the older contemporary of 
Raphael, first in Florence and afterwards in the 
north of Italy, left a colossal reputation and but 
few pictures, for in his search after perfection he 
became dissatisfied with what he had done and 
is said to have destroyed one masterpiece after 
another. For him the great interest in the aspect 
of man and woman was not so much the form of 
the body as the expression of the face. What was 
fantastic and weird fascinated him. At Windsor 



RAPHAEL 81 

are designs he made for the construction of an 
imaginary beast with gigantic claws. He once 
owned a lizard, and made wings for it with quick- 
silver inside them, so that they quivered when the 
lizard crawled. He put a dragon's mask over its 
head, and the result was ghastly. The tale gives 
us a side light on this extraordinary personage. 
When you are led to read more about him you will 
feel the fascination of his strong, yet perplexing 
personality. The faces in his pictures are wonderful 
faces, with a fugitive mocking smile and a seeming 
burden of strange thought. By mastery of the 
most subtle gradations of light, his heads have 
an appearance of solidity new in painting, till 
Raphael and some of his contemporaries learnt the 
secret from Leonardo. Heretofore, Italian painters 
had been contented to bathe their pictures in a 
flood of diffused light, but he experimented also 
with effects of strong light and shade on the face. 
His landscape backgrounds are an almost unearthly 
cold grey, and include the strangest forms of rock 
and mountain. His investigations into several of 
the scientific problems connected with art led to 
results which affected in an important degree the 
work of many later artists. 

U 



82 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

If Raphael had less originality than Michel- 
angelo or Leonardo, if Leonardo was the first 
artist to obtain complete mastery over the ex- 
pression of the face and Michelangelo over the 
drawing of the figure, Raphael was able to profit at 
once by whatever they accomplished. Yet never 
was he a mere imitator, for all that he absorbed 
became tinged with a magical charm in his fertile 
brain, a charm so personal that his work can hardly 
be mistaken for that of any other artist. 

Our picture of a ' Knight's Dream ' was probably 
painted while Raphael was under the influence of 
a master named Timoteo Viti, whose works you 
are not likely to know, or much care about when 
you see them. It was just after he had painted it 
that he came into Perugino's hands. 

Although the * Knight's Dream ' is so small, and 
Raphael was but a boy when he painted it, the 
picture has the true romantic air, characteristic 
of the joyful years of the early Renaissance. He 
does not seem to have felt the conflict between the 
old religious ideal and the new pursuit of worldly 
beauty as Botticelli felt it. Yet he chose the 
competition of these two ideals as the subject of 
this picture. The Knight, clothed in bright 



RAPHAEL 83 

armour and gay raiment, bearing no relation at all 
to the clothes worn in 1500, rests upon his shield 
beneath the slight shade of a very slender tree. In 
his dream there appear to him two figures, both 
of whom claim his knightly allegiance for life : one, 
a young and lovely girl in a bright coloured dress 
with flowers in her hair, tempts him to embrace a 
life of mirth, of 

Jest and youthful Jollity, 

Quips and Cranks and wanton Wiles,' , 

Nods and Becks and wreathed Smiles. 

The other resembles the same poet's 

Pensive Nun, devout and pure, 
Sober, steadfast, and demure. 

She holds sword and book, symbols of stern 
action and wise accomplishment. Which the 
knight will choose we are not told, perhaps because 
Raphael himself never had to make the choice. 
He was too gifted and too fond of work to be 
tempted from it by anything whatever. Always 
joyous and always successful, he was able to paint 
any subject, sacred, profane, ancient, or modem, so 
long as it was a happy one. He was too busy and 
too gay to feel pain and sorrow, as Botticelli felt 



84. THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

them, and to paint sad subjects. To him the 
visible world was good and beautiful, and the 
invisible world lovely and happy likewise. His 
Madonnas are placid or smiling mothers. The fat 
and darling babies they hold are indeed divine but 
not awesome. Yet the extraordinary sweetness of 
expression, nobility of form, and beauty of colour- 
ing in the Madonnas make you almost hold your 
breath when you look at them. 

In the ' Knight's Dream ' there is a simple 
beauty in the pose and grouping of the figures. 
You can hardly fancy three figures better 
arranged for the purpose of the subject. There 
is something inevitable about them, which 
is the highest praise due to a mastery of 
design in the art of composition. Raphael's sur- 
passing gift was in fitting beautiful figures into 
any given space, so that it seems as though the 
space had been made to fit the figures, instead 
of the figures to fit the space. You could 
never put his round Madonnas into a square 
frame. The figures would look as wrong as 
in a round frame they look right. If you 
were to cut off a bit of the foreground in any of 
his pictures and add the extra piece to the sky, 



RAPHAEL 85 

you would make the whole look wrong, whereas 
perhaps you might add on a piece of sky to 
Hubert van Eyck's ' Three Maries ' without spoil- 
ing the effect. 

The colouring of the picture, too, is jewel- 
like and lovely, but the uncoloured drawing is 
itself full of charm. The grace of line, which 
was to distinguish all the works of his mature 
years, is already manifest in this effort of his boy- 
hood. It seems to foretell the sweep of the 
Virgin's drapery in the Sistine Madonna, and the 
delightful maze of curves flowing together and 
away again and returning upon themselves which 
outline the face, the arms, hands, and draperies of 
St. Catherine in the National Gallery. You will 
find it well worth a little trouble to look long and 
closely at one of Raphael's well-known Madonnas 
till you clearly see how the composition of all the 
parts of it is formed by the play of long and 
graceful curves. 

You can see from the drawing of the ' Knight's 
Dream,' which is hung quite near the painting 
in the National Gallery, how carefully Raphael 
thought out the detail of the picture before he 
began to paint. He seems even to have been 



86 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

afraid that he might not be able to draw it again 
so perfectly ; therefore he placed the drawing over 
the panel and pricked it through. The marks of the 
pin are quite clear, and it brings one nearer this 
great artist to follow closely the process of his 
work. It makes the young boy genius of 1500 
almost seem akin to the struggling boy and girl 
artists of the present time. 

From Perugia Raphael went to Florence, 
where he painted a number of his most beautiful 
Madonnas. Then, in 1508, he was called to 
Rome by Pope Julius II. to decorate some rooms 
in the Vatican Palace. The Renaissance popes 
were possessed of so great wealth, and spent it to 
such purpose, that its spending influenced the art of 
their age. Many of the rooms in the Vatican had 
been decorated by Botticelli and other good artists of 
the previous half-century, but already the new pope 
considered their work out of date and ordered it to 
be replaced by Michelangelo and Raphael. For 
nine years Raphael worked at the decoration of the 
palace, always being pressed, hurried, and even 
worried by two successive popes who employed 
him. The wall spaces which he had to fill were 
often awkwardly broken up with windows and 



RAPHAEL 87 

doors, but he easily overcame whatever difficulties 
were encountered. To succeed apparently without 
struggle was a peculiar gift granted to Raphael 
above any other artist of his day. The frescoes 
painted by him in the Vatican illustrated subjects 
from Greek philosophy and medieval Church 
history, as well as from the Old and New Testa- 
ment. As an illustrator of sacred writ he never 
attempted that verisimilitude in Eastern surround- 
ings to which Hubert van Eyck leaned, neither 
was he satisfied with the dress of his own day in 
which other painters were wont to clothe their 
sacred characters. The historical sense, which has 
driven some modern artists to much antiquarian 
research to discover exactly what Peter and Paul 
must have worn, did not exist before the nineteenth 
century. Raphael felt, nevertheless, that the 
clothes of the Renaissance were hardly suitable for 
Noah and Abraham, so he invented a costume of 
his own, founded upon Roman dress, but different 
from oriental or contemporary clothes. The 
Scripture illustrations of Raphael most familiar 
to you may probably be his cartoon designs for 
tapestry in the South Kensington Museum, which 
were bought by Charles I. In these you can see 



88 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

what is meant about the clothes, but you will not 
be surprised at them, because the same have been 
adopted by the majority of Bible illustrators ever 
since the days of Raphael. His pictures became 
so popular that it was thought whatever he did 
must be right. The dress was a mere detail in his 
work, but it was easy to copy and has been copied 
persistently from that day to this. It is curious 
to think that the long white robes, which Christ 
wears in the illustrations of our present-day Sunday 
School books and other religious publications, are 
all due to imitation of Raphael's designs. 

The first room he finished for Julius II. was so 
rich in effect and beautiful in colour that the 
Pope could scarcely wait for more rooms as fine. 
Raphael had to call in a large number of assistants 
to enable him to cover the walls fast enough to 
please the Pope, and the quality of the work 
began to deteriorate. The uneven merit of his 
frescoes foretold the consequence of overwork 
despite his matchless facility and power. But in 
his panel pictures, when he was not hurried, his 
work continued to improve until he reached his 
crowning achievement in the Sistine Madonna 
painted three years before his death. 



RAPHAEL 89 

Raphael was thirty -seven when he died in 
1520, and very far from coming to the end of his 
powers of learning. Each picture that he painted 
revealed to him new difficulties to conquer, and 
new experiments to try, in his art. We seem 
compelled to think that had he lived and laboured 
for another score of years, the history of painting 
in Italy might have been different. In Rome and 
Florence no successor attempted to improve upon 
his work. His pupils and assistants were more 
numerous than those of any other painter, but 
when they had obtained some of his facility of 
drawing and painting they were contented. None 
of them had Raphael's genius, yet all wished to 
paint like him ; so that for the following fifty 
years Rome and Florence and Southern Italy were 
flooded with inferior Raphaelesque paintings, which 
tended to become more slip-shod in execution as 
time went on, and more devoid of any personal 
note. It was just as though his imitators had 
learnt to write beautifully and then had had little 
to say. 

Leonardo da Vinci died a few months before 
Raphael. Several of his pupils were artists of 
ability, and lived to carry on his traditions of 



90 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

painting in the north of Italy. Leonardo himself 
had been so erratic, produced so little, and so few 
of his pictures survive, that many know him best in 
his pupils' work, or through copies and engravings 
of his great ' Last Supper ' — a picture that became 
an almost total wi-eck upon the walls of the 
Refectory in Milan, for which it was painted. His 
influence upon his contemporaries at Milan was 
very great, so that during some years hardly a 
picture was painted there which did not show a 
likeness to the work of Leonardo. He had created 
a type of female beauty all his own. The face will 
impress itself upon your memory the first time you 
see it, whether in a picture by Leonardo or in 
one by a pupil. You can see it in the National 
Gallery in the great * Madonna of the Rocks,' and 
in the magnificent drawing at Burlington House. 
It is not a very beautiful face, but it haunts the 
memory, and the Milanese artists of Leonardo's 
day never threw off their recollection of it. 

With far less power than Leonardo, one of his 
imitators, Bernardino Luini, painted pictures of 
such charm and simplicity that almost every one 
finds them delightful. If you could see his picture 
of the angels bearing St. Catherine, robed in red. 



RAPHAEL 91 

through the air to her last resting-place upon the 
hill, you would feel the beauty and peace of his 
gentle nature revealed in his art. But the spell of 
Leonardo vanished with the death of those who 
had known him in life. The last of his pupils 
died in 1550, and with him the Leonardo school of 
painting came to an end. 

There is one more painter belonging to the 
full Renaissance too famous to remain entirely 
unmentioned. This is Correggio, a painter affected 
also by the pictures of Raphael and Leonardo, but 
individual in his vision and his work. He passed 
his life in Parma, in the north of Italy, inheriting 
a North Italian tradition, and hearing only echoes 
of the world beyond. His canvases are thronged 
with fair shapes, pretty women and dancing children, 
ethereally soft and lovely. But it is in his native 
town that the angels soar aloft with the Virgin in 
the dome of the cathedral, and the children frolic 
on the walls of the convent. These are his master- 
pieces you would like best. 

In 1550 the impetus given to painting in Italy 
by the Renaissance was drawing to an end. The 
great central epoch may be said to have terminated 
in Tuscany a few years after the deaths of 



92 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

Leonardo and Raphael in 1520. But we have 
said nothing yet of Venice, where, in 1520, artists 
whose visions and whose record of them were to 
be as wonderful as those of Botticelli and Raphael, 
were as yet sleeping in their cradles. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE RENAISSANCE IN VENICE 

A VISIT to Venice is one of the joys which perhaps 
few of us have yet experienced. But whether we 
have been there or not, we all know that the very 
sound of her name is enchanting for those who are 
fresh from her magic — her sunrises and sunsets 
unmatched for colour, and her streets for silence. 

The Venetians were a proud and successful 
people, wealthier by virtue of their great sea-trade 
than the citizens of Florence or of any other town 
in Italy ; their foremost men lived in great high- 
roomed palaces, richly furnished, and decorated 
with pictures of a sumptuous pageantry. But the 
Venetians were not merely a luxurious people. 
The poetry of the lagoons, and the glory of the 
sunset skies, imparted to their lives the wealth of a 
rare romance. Even in Venice to-day, now that 

93 



94 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

the steamers have spoilt the peace of the canals 
and the old orange-winged sailing-boats no longer 
crowd against the quays, the dreamy atmosphere 
of the city retains its spell. 

Few artists ever felt and expressed this atmo- 
sphere better than Giorgione, the painter of the 
first of our Venetian pictures. He was one of the 
great artists of the Renaissance who died young, 
ten years before Raphael, but their greatness is 
scarcely comparable. Like Raphael, Giorgione 
was precocious, but unlike him he painted in a 
style of his own that from the very beginning 
owed little to any one else. He saw beauty in 
his own way, and was not impelled to see it 
differently by coming into contact with other 
artists, however great. Unlike Raphael, he was 
not a great master of the art of composition. In 
the little picture before us the grouping of the 
figures is not what may be called inevitable, like 
that in the ' Knight's Dream.' It seems as though 
one day when Giorgione was musing on the beauties 
of the world, and the blemishes of life, even life in 
Venice, he thought of some far-off time beyond 
the dawn of history when all men lived in peace. 
The ancient Greeks called this perfect time the 



THE RENAISSANCE IN VENICE 95 

* Golden Age ' of the world. In many ways their 
idea of it tallies with the description of the Garden 
of Eden, and they were always contrasting with it 
the * Iron Age ' in which they thought they lived, 
as the Hebrews contrasted the life of Adam and 
Eve in the garden with their own. As the fancy 
flashed across Giorgione's mind, perchance he saw 
some just king of whom his subjects felt no fear 
seated upon a throne like this. A dreamy youth 
plays soft music to him, and another hands him 
flowers and fruit. Books lie strewn upon the 
steps, and a child stands in a reverent attitude 
before him. Wild and domestic animals live 
together in harmony ; the ground is carpeted with 
flowers ; all is peaceful. Such a subject suited the 
temperament of Giorgione, and he painted it in 
the romantic mood in which it was conceived. 
Nothing could be further from everyday life than 
this little scene. It has the unlaboured look that 
suits such an improvised subject. Of course no 
one knows for certain that this is a picture of the 
Golden Age, and you may make up any story you 
like about it for yourselves. That is one of the 
charms of the picture. It has been said that 
the throned one is celebrating his birthday, and 



96 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

that his little heir is reciting him a birthday ode 
accompanied by music. You may believe this 
if you like, but how do you then account for 
the leopard and the peacock living in such 
harmony together ? 

Giorgione painted a few sacred pictures and 
many mythological scenes, besides several very 
beautiful portraits of dreamy-looking poets and 
noblemen. But even when he illustrated some 
well-known tale, he did not care to seize upon the 
dramatic moment that gives the crisis of the story, 
as Giotto would have done, and as the painter of 
our next picture does. Violent action did not 
attract him. Whatever the subject, if it were 
possible to group the figures together at a moment 
when they were beautifully doing nothing, he did 
so. But he liked still more to paint ideal scenes 
from his own fancy, where young people sit in 
easy attitudes upon the grass, conversing for an 
instant in the intervals of the music they make upon 
pipes and guitar. He was the first artist, so far as 
I know, to paint these half real, half imaginary 
scenes, of which our picture may be one. In all of 
them landscape bears an important part, and in 
some the background has become the picture and 




■ TuE Gulden Age. " 
From the picture by Giorgione, in the National Gallery, London. 



THE RENAISSANCE IN VENICE 97 

completely subordinated the figures. In this little 
'Golden Age' the landscape is quiet in tone, 
tinged with melancholy, romantic, to suit the 
mood of the figures. Its colouring, though rich, 
is subdued, more like the tints of autumn 
than the fresh hues of spring. The Venetians 
excelled in their treatment of colour. They lived 
in an uncommon world of it. Giorgione saw his 
picture in his mind's eye as a blaze of rich colour ; 
he did not see the figures sharply outlined against 
a remote background, as are the three in Raphael's 
' Knight's Dream.' That does not mean that 
Raphael, like the artist of the Richard II. diptych, 
failed to make his figures look solid, but that he 
saw beauty most in the outlines of the body and 
the curves of the drapery, irrespective of colour, 
whereas to Giorgione's eye outline was nothing 
without colour and light and shade. The body of 
the King upon the throne in our picture is massed 
against the background, but there is no definite 
outline to divide it from the tree behind. In this 
respect Giorgione was curiously modern for his 
date, as we shall see in pictures of a still later 
time. 

Giorgione was only thirty-three years old when 

13 



98 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

he died of the plague in 1510, the same year as 
Botticelli. His master, Giovanni Bellini, who was 
born in 1428, outlived him by six years, and the 
great Titian, his fellow-pupil in the studio of 
Bellini, lived another half-century or more. 

Titian in many ways summed up all that was 
greatest in Venetian art. His pictures have less 
romance than those of Giorgione, except during the 
short space of time when he painted under the 
spell of his brother artist. It is extremely difficult 
to distinguish then between Titian's early and 
Giorgione's late work. Titian perhaps had the 
greater intellect. Giorgione's pictures vary accord- 
ing to his mood, while Titian's express a less 
changeable personality. In spite of his youth, 
Giorgione made a profound impression upon all 
the artists of his time. They did not copy his 
designs, but the beauty of his pictures made them 
look at the world with his romantic eyes and 
paint in his dreamy mood. It was almost as 
though Giorgione had absorbed the romance of 
Venice into his pictures, so that for a time no 
Venetian painter could express Venetian romance 
except in Giorgione's way. 

But in 1518, eight years after Giorgione's 



THE RENAISSANCE IN VENICE 99 

death, another great innovating master was born 
at Venice, Tintoret by name, who in his turn 
opened new visions of the world to the artists 
of his day. While painting hi the rest of Italy 
was becoming mannered and sentimental, lacking 
in power and originality, Tintoret in Venice was 
creating masterpieces with a very fury of inven- 
tion and a corresponding swiftness of hand. He 
was his own chief teacher. Outside his studio 
he wrote upon a sign to inform or attract pupils 
— ' The design of Michelangelo and the colouring 
of Titian.' Profound study of the works of these 
two masters is manifest in his own. Like Michel- 
angelo he worked passionately rather than with 
the sober competence of Titian. His thronging 
visions, his multitudinous and often vast canvases 
are a surpassing record. Prolonged study of the 
human form had given to him, as to Michelangelo, 
a wonderful power of drawing groups of figures. 
His mere output was marvellous, and much of it 
on a grandiose scale. He covered hundreds of 
square feet of ceilings and walls in Venice with 
paintings of subjects that had been painted 
hundreds of times before ; but each as he treated 
it was a new thing. Centuries of tradition 



100 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

governed the arrangement of such subjects as the 
Crucifixion and the Last Judgment, so that even 
the free painters of the Renaissance had deviated 
but Httle from it. In Tintoret the freedom of 
the Renaissance reached its height. For him 
tradition had no fetters. When he painted a 
picture of Paradise for the Doge's Palace it 
measured 84 by 34 feet, and contained literally 
hundreds of figures. His imagination was so 
prolific that he seems never to have repeated a 
figure. New forms, new postures, new groupings 
flowed from his brush in exhaustless multitude. 

It is necessary to go to Venice to see Tintoret's 
most famous works, still remaining upon the walls 
of the churches and buildings for which they were 
painted, or in which they have been brought 
together. But the National Gallery is fortunate in 
possessing one relatively small canvas of his which 
shows some of his finest qualities. The subject of 
St. George slaying the dragon was not a new one. 
It had been painted by Raphael and by several of 
the earlier Venetian painters, but Tintoret's treat- 
ment of it was all his own. In the earlier pictures, 
the princess, for whose sake St. George fights the 
dragon, was a little figure in the background fleeing 




St. George destroying the Dragon. 
F'rom the picture by Tintoretto, in the National Gallery, London. 



THE RENAISSANCE IN VENICE 101 

in terror. St. George occupied the chief place, as 
he does upon the back of our gold sovereigns, 
where the princess has been left out altogether. 
Thitoret makes her flee, but she is running towards 
the spectator, and so, in her flight, stands out the 
most conspicuous figure. One of the victims that 
the dragon has slain lies behind her. In the 
distance St. George fights with all his might 
against the powers of evil, whilst 'the splendour of 
God ' blazes in the sky. There is a vividness and 
power about the picture that proclaims the hand of 
Tintoret. In contrast to Giorgione he liked to 
paint figures in motion, yet he was as typical an 
outcome of Venetian romance as the earlier painter. 
Nothing could be more like a fairy-tale than this 
picture. It was no listless dreamer that painted it, 
but one with a gorgeous imagination and yet a 
full knowledge of the world, enabling him to give 
substance to his visions. Tintoret's stormy land- 
scapes are as beautiful in their way as Giorgione's 
dreamy ones, and each carries out the mood of the 
rest of the picture. This one is full of power, 
mystery, and romance. Tintoret had modelled his 
colouring upon Titian and was by nature a great 
colourist, but too often he used bad materials that 



102 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

have turned black with the lapse of years. In this 
picture you see his colour as it was meant to be, 
rich, and boldly harmonious. The vivid red and 
blue of the princess's clothes are a daring combina- 
tion with the brilliant green of the landscape, but 
Tintoret knew what he was doing, and the result 
is superb. With his death in 1594 the best of 
Venetian painting came to an end. 

There were as many excellent painters in the 
fairy city as there had been in Florence ; con- 
temporaries of Giovanni Bellini (who, in his early 
years, worked in close companionship with Man- 
tegna, his brother-in-law), as well as contemporaries 
of Titian and Tintoret. The painter Veronese, for 
instance, died a few years before Tintoret. For 
pomp and pageantry his great canvases are eminent. 
Standing in some room of the Doge's Palace, deco- 
rated entirely by his hand, we are carried back to 
the time when Venice was Queen of the Seas, 
unrivalled for magnificence and wealth. He was 
the Master of Ceremonies, before whom other 
painters of pomps and vanities pale. Gorgeous 
colouring is what all these Venetian painters had in 
common. We see it in the early days when 
Venetian art was struggling into existence. In 



THE RENAISSANCE IN VENICE 103 

her art, as in her skies and waters, we are over- 
whelmed by a vision of colour unsurpassed. 

We have now touched on a few prominent points 
in the history of painting in Italy from its early rise 
in Florence with Giotto ; through its period of 
widespread excellence in the first quarter of the 
sixteenth century, when Raphael, Giorgione, 
Michelangelo, and Leonardo were all painting 
masterpieces in Florence, Venice, Rome, and Milan 
at the same moment ; to its final blaze of sun- 
set ffrandeur in Venice. It is time to return to the 
north of Europe. In the next chapter we will try 
to gain a few glimpses of the progress of painting in 
Germany, Holland, Flanders, and our own country. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE RENAISSANCE IN THE NORTH 

The Renaissance involved a change of outlook 
towards the whole world which could not long 
remain confined to Italy. There were then, as 
now, roads over the passes of the Alps by which 
merchants and scholars were continually travelling 
from Italy through Germany and Flanders to 
England, communicating to the northern countries 
whatever changes of thought stirred in the south. 

In Germany, as in Italy, men speedily awoke to 
the new life, but the awakening took a different 
form. We find a different quality in the art of 
the north. Italian spontaneity and child -like 
joy is absent ; so, too, the sense of physical beauty, 
universal in Italy. You remember how the 
successors of the Van Eycks in Flanders painted 
excellent portraits and small carefully studied 

104 



THE RENAISSANCE IN THE NORTH 105 

pictures of scriptural events in wonderful detail. 
They were a strictly practical people whose paint- 
ing of stuffs, furs, jewellery, and architecture was 
marvellously minute and veracious. But they 
were not a handsome race, and their models 
for saints and virgins seem to have been the 
people that came handiest and by no means the 
best looking. Thus the figures in their pictures 
lack personal charm, though the painting is usually 
full of vigour, truth, and skill. 

When Flemings began to make tours in Italy 
and saw the pictures of Raphael, in whom grace 
was native, they fell in love with his work and 
returned to Flanders to try and paint as he did. 
But to them grace was not God-given, and in their 
attempt to achieve it, their pictures became senti- 
mental and postured, and the naive simplicity and 
everyday truth, so attractive in the works of the 
earlier school, perished. The influence of the Van 
Eycks had not been confined to Flanders. Artists 
in Germany had been profoundly affected. They 
learnt the new technique of painting from the 
pupils of the Van Eycks in the fifteenth century. 
Like them, too, they discarded gold backgrounds 
and tried to paint men and women as they really 

14 



106 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

looked, instead of in the old conventional fashion of 
the Middle Ages. Schools of painting grew up 
in several of the more important German towns, 
till towards the end of the fifteenth century two 
German artists were born, Albert Dlirer at Nurem- 
berg in 1471, and Hans Holbein the younger at 
Augsburg in 1497, who deserve to rank with the 
greatest painters of the time in any country. 

Dlirer is commonly regarded as the most 
typically German of artists, though his father was 
Hungarian, and as a matter of fact he stands 
very much alone. His pictures and engravings 
are 'long, long thoughts.' Every inch of the 
surface is weighted with meaning. His cast of 
mind, indeed, was more that of a philosopher 
than that of an artist. In a drawing which 
Diirer made of himself in the looking-glass at 
the age of thirteen, we see a thoughtful little face 
gazing out upon the world with questioning eyes. 
Already the delicacy of the lines is striking, and 
the hair so beautifully finished that we can 
anticipate the later artist whose pictures are 
remarkable for so surprising a wealth of detail. 
The characteristics of the Flemish School, care- 
fulness of workmanship and indifference to the 



THE RENAISSANCE IN THE NORTH 107 

physical beauty of the model, to which the Italians 
were so sensitive, continued in his work. For 
thoroughness his portraits can be compared with 
those of John van Eyck. In the National 
Gallery his father lives again for us in a picture 
of wonderful power and insight. 

Diirer was akin to Leonardo in the desire for 
more and yet more knowledge. Like him he 
wrote treatises on fortifications, human proportions, 
geometry, and perspective, and filled his sketch- 
books with studies of plants, animals, and natural 
scenery. His eager mind employed itself with the 
whys and wherefores of things, not satisfied with 
the simple pleasure that sight bestows. In his 
engravings, even more than in his pictures, we 
ponder the hidden meanings ; we are not content 
to look and rejoice in beauty, though there is 
much to charm the eye. His problems were the 
problems of life as well as the problems of art. 

The other great artist of Germany, Hans 
Holbein the younger, was the son of Hans Holbein 
the elder, a much esteemed painter in Augsburg. 
This town was on the principal trade route 
between Northern Italy and the North Sea, so that 
Venetians and Milanese were constantly passing 



108 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

through and bringmg to it much wealth and news 
of the luxury of their own southern life. As a result 
the citizens of Augsburg dressed more expensively 
and decorated their houses more lavishly than did 
the citizens of any other town in Germany. 
After a boyhood and youth spent at Augsburg, 
Holbein removed to Basle. He was a designer of 
wood -engravings and goldsmiths work and of 
architectural decoration, besides being a painter. 
In those days of change in South Germany, artists 
had to be willing to turn their hands to any 
kind of work they could get to do. North of 
the Alps, where the Reformation was upsetting 
old habits, an artist's life was far from being 
easy. Reformers made bonfires of sacred pictures 
and sculptured wooden altar-pieces. Indeed the 
Reformation was a cruel blow to artists, for it 
took away Church patronage and made them 
dependent for employment upon merchants and 
princes. Except at courts or in great mercantile 
towns they fared extremely ill. Altar-pieces 
were rarely wanted, and there were no more legends 
of saints to be painted upon the walls of churches. 

The demand for portraiture, on the other 
hand, was increasing, whilst the growth of print- 



THE RENAISSANCE IN THE NORTH 109 

ing created a new field for design in the prepara- 
tion of woodcuts for the illustration of books. 
Thus it came to pass that the printer Froben, 
at Basle, was one of the young Holbein's chief 
patrons. We find him designing a wonderful 
series of illustrations of The Dance of Deatli, as 
well as drawing another set to illustrate The 
Pi'aise of Folly, written by Erasmus, who was 
then living in Basle and frequenting the house 
of Froben. Erasmus was a typical scholar of the 
sixteenth century, belonging rather to civilized 
society as a whole than to any one country. He 
moved about Europe from one centre of learning 
to another, alike at home in educated circles in 
England, Flanders, and Germany. He had lived 
for some time in England and knew that there 
were men there with wealth who would employ a 
good painter to paint their portraits if they could 
find one. Erasmus himself sat to Holbein, and 
sent the finished portrait as a present to his friend 
Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England. 

In England, owing to the effects of the Wars of 
the Roses, good painters no longer existed. A 
century of neglect had destroyed English painting. 
Henry VIII., therefore, had to look to foreign lands 



110 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

for his court painter, and where was he to come 
from ? France was the nearest country, but the 
French King was in the same predicament as Henry. 
He obtained his painters from Italy, and at one 
time secured the services of Leonardo da Vinci ; but 
Italy was a long way off and it would suit Henry 
better to get a painter from Flanders or Germany 
if it were possible. So Erasmus advised Holbein 
to go to England, and gave him a letter to Sir 
Thomas More. On this first visit in 1526, he 
painted the portraits of More and his whole family, 
and of many other distinguished men ; but it was 
not till his second visit in 1532 that he became 
Henry VIII. 's court painter. In this capacity he 
had to decorate the walls of the King's palaces, 
design the pageantry of the Koyal processions, and 
paint the portraits of the King's family. Although 
Holbein could do and did do anything that was 
demanded of him, what he liked best was to paint 
portraits. Romantic subjects such as the fight of 
St. George and the dragon, or an idyll of the 
Golden Age, little suited the artistic leanings of a 
German. To a German or a Fleming the world of 
facts meant more than the world of imagination ; 
the painting of men and women as they looked in 



THE RENAISSANCE IN THE NORTH 111 

everyday life was more congenial to them than the 
painting of saints and imaginary princesses. 

But how unimportant seems all talk of contrast- 
ing imagination and reality when we see them fused 
together in this charming portrait of Edward, the 
child Prince of Wales. It belongs to the end 
of the year 1538, when he was just fifteen months 
old, and the imagination of Holbein equipped him 
with the orb of sovereignty in the guise of a baby's 
rattle. It is in the coupling of distant kingship 
and present babyhood that the painter works his 
magic and reveals his charm. 

If you recall for a moment what you know of 
Henry VIII., his masterful pride, his magnificence, 
his determination to do and have exactly what 
he wanted, you will understand that his demands 
upon his court painter for a portrait of his only 
son and heir must have been high. No one could 
say enough about this wonderful child to please 
Henry, for all that was said in praise of him 
redounded to the glory of his father. 

The following is a translation of the Latin poem 
beneath the picture : 

Child, of thy Father's virtues be thou lieir. 
Since none on earth with him may well compare ; 



112 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

Hardly to him might Heaven yield a son 

By whom his father's fame should be out-done. 

So, if thou equal such a mighty sire. 

No higher can the hopes of man aspire ; 

If thou surpass him, thou shalt honoured be 

O'er all that ruled before, or shall rule after thee. ^ 

In justice be it said that the little Edward VI. 
was of an extraordinary precocity. When he was 
eight years old he wrote to Archbishop Cranmer 
in Latin. When he was nine he knew four books 
of Cato by heart as well as much of the Bible. 
To show you the way in which royal infants were 
treated in those days, — we read that at the time 
this picture was painted, the little prince had a 
household of his own, consisting of a lady-mistress, 
a nurse, rockers for his cradle, a chamberlain, vice- 
chamberlain, steward, comptroller, almoner, and 
dean. It is hard to believe that the child is only 
fifteen months old, so erect is the attitude, so 
intelligent the face. The clothes are sumptuous. 
A piece of stuff similar in material and design to 
the sleeve exists to-day in a museum in Brussels. 

In the best sense Holbein was the most Italian 
of the Germans. For in him, as in the gifted 
Italian, grace was innate. He may have paid a 

1 Translated by Miss K. K. Radford. 



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Edwaru, Prince of Wales, afterwards Edward V'I. 
From the picture by Holbein, in the Collection of the Earl of Yarborough, London. 



THE RENAISSANCE IN THE NORTH IVS 

brief visit to Italy, but he never lived there for any 
length of time, nor did he try to paint like an 
Italian as some northern artists unhappily tried to 
do. The German merits, solidity, boldness, detailed 
finish, and grasp of character, he possessed in a 
high degree, but he combined with them a beauty 
of line, delicacy of modelling, and richness of 
colour almost southern. His pictures appeal more 
to the eye and less to the mind than do those of 
Diirer. Where Diirer sought to instruct, Holbein 
was content to please. But like a German he 
spared no pains. He painted the stuff and the 
necklace, the globe and the feather, with the finish 
of an artist who was before all things a good work- 
man. Observe how delicately the chubby little 
fingers are drawn. Holbein's detailed treatment 
of the accessories of a portrait is only less than the 
care expended in depicting the face. He studied 
faces, and his portraits, one may almost say, are at 
once images of and commentaries on the people 
they depict. Thus his gallery of pictures of Henry 
and his contemporaries show us at once the reflexion 
of them as in a mirror, and the vision of them as 
beheld by a singularly discerning and experienced 
eye that not only saw but comprehended. 

15 



114 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

This is the more remarkable because Holbein 
was not always able to paint and finish his portraits 
in the presence of the living model, as painters 
insist on doing nowadays. His sitters were 
generally busy men who granted him but one 
sitting, so that his method was to make a draw- 
ing of the head in red chalk and to write upon 
the margin notes of anything he particularly 
wanted to remember. Afterwards he painted the 
head from the drawing, but had the actual clothes 
and jewels sent him to work from. 

In the Royal Collection at Windsor there are a 
number of these portrait drawings of great interest 
to us, since many of the portraits painted from 
them have been lost. As a record of remarkable 
people of that day they are invaluable, for in a 
few powerful strokes Holbein could set down 
the likeness of any face. But when he came 
to paint the portrait he was not satisfied with a 
mere likeness. He painted too 'his habit as he 
lived.' Erasmus is shown reading in his study, 
the merchant in his office surrounded by the tokens 
of his business, and Henry VIII. standing firmly 
with his legs wide apart as if bestriding a hemi- 
sphere. But I think that you will like this fine 



THE RENAISSANCE IN THE NORTH 115 

portrait of the infant prince best of all, and that is 
why I have chosen it in preference to a likeness of 
any of the statesmen, scholars, queens, and courtiers 
who played a great part in their world, but are not 
half so charming to look upon as little Prince 
Edward. 



CHAPTER IX 



REMBRANDT 



After the death of Holbein, artists in the north 
of Europe passed through troublous times till 
the end of the sixteenth century. France and 
the Netherlands were devastated by wars. You 
may remember that the Netherlands had belonged 
in the fifteenth century to the Dukes of Burgundy ? 
Through the marriage of the only daughter of the 
last Duke, these territories passed into the posses- 
sion of the King of Spain, who remained a Catholic, 
whilst the northern portion of the Netherlands 
became sturdily Protestant. Their struggle, under 
the leadership of William the Silent, against the 
yoke of Spain, is one of the stirring pages of history. 
By the beginning of the seventeenth century, seven 
of the northern states of the Netherlands, of which 
Holland was the chief, had emerged as practically 



116 



REMBRANDT 117 

independent. The southern portion of the Nether- 
lands, including the old province of Flanders, 
remained Catholic and was governed by a Spanish 
Prince who held his court at Brussels. 

When peace came at last, there was a remarkable 
outburst of painting in each of the two countries. 
Rubens was the master painter in Flanders. Of 
him and of his pupil Van Dyck we shall hear more 
in the next chapter. In Holland there was a yet 
more wide -spread activity. Indomitable perse- 
verance had been needed for so small a country to 
throw off the rule of a great power like Spain. The 
long struggle seems to have called into being a kin- 
dred spirit manifesthig itself in every branch of the 
national life. Dutch merchants, Dutch fishermen, 
and Dutch colonizers made themselves felt as a 
force throughout the world. The spirit by which 
Dutchmen achieved political success was pre- 
eminent in the qualities which brought them 
to the front rank in art. There were literally 
hundreds of painters in Holland, few of them bad. 
That does not mean that all Dutchmen had the 
magical power of vision belonging to the greatest 
artists, the power that transforms the objects of 
daily view into things of rare beauty, or the 



118 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

imagination of a Tintoret that creates and depicts 
scenes undreamt of before by man. Many painted 
the things around them as they looked to a 
commonplace mind, with no glamour and no 
transforming touch. When we see their pictures, 
our eyes are not opened to new effects. We 
continue to see and to feel as we did before, but 
we admire the honest work, the pleasant colour, 
and the efficiency of the painters. In default of 
Raphaels, Giorgiones, and Titians, we should be 
pleased to hang upon our walls works such as 
those. But towering above the other artists of 
Holland, great and small, was one Dutchman, 
Rembrandt, who holds his own with the greatest 
of the world. 

He was born in 1606, the son of a miller at 
Leyden, who gave him the best teaching there to 
be had. Soon he became a good painter of like- 
nesses, and orders for portraits began to stream 
in upon him from the citizens of his native town. 
These he executed well, but his heart was not 
wrapped up in the portrayal of character as John 
Van Eyck's had been. Neither was it in the 
drawing: of delicate and beautiful lines that he 
wished to excel, as did Holbein and Raphael. He 



REMBRANDT 119 

was the dramatist of painting, a man who would 
rather paint some one person ten times over in 
the character of somebody else, high priest, king, 
warrior, or buffoon, than once thoroughly in his 
own. But when people ordered portraits of them- 
selves they wanted good likenesses, and Rembrandt 
was happy to supply them. At first it was only 
when he was working at home to please himself 
that he indulged his picturesque gift. He painted 
his father, his mother, and himself over and over 
again, but in each picture he tried some experiment 
with expression, or a new pose, or a strange effect 
of lighting, transforming the general aspect of the 
original. His own face did as well as any other 
to experiment with ; none could be offended with 
the result, and it was always to be had without 
paying a model's price for the sitting. Thus all 
through his life, from twenty-two to sixty-three, 
we can follow the growth of his art with the 
transformation of his body, in the long series of 
pictures of his single self 

More than any artist that had gone before him, 
Rembrandt was fascinated by the problem of light. 
The brightest patch of white on a canvas will look 
black if you hold it up against the sky. How, 



120 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

then, can the fire of sunshine be depicted at all ? 
Experience shows that it can only be suggested by 
contrast with shadows almost black. But abso- 
lutely black shadows would not be beautiful. 
Fancy a picture in which the shadows were as 
black as well-polished boots ! Rembrandt had to 
find out how to make his dark shadows rich, and 
how to make a picture, in which shadow pre- 
dominated, a beautiful thing in itself, a thing 
that would decorate a wall as well as depict the 
chosen subject. That was no easy problem, and he 
had to solve it for himself. It was his life's work. 
He applied his new idea in the painting of portraits 
and in subject pictures, chiefly illustrative of 
dramatic incidents in Bible history, for the same 
quality in him that made him love the flare of 
light, made him also love the dramatic in life. 

Rembrandt's mother was a Protestant, who 
brought up her son with a thorough knowledge of 
the Scripture stories, and it was the Bible that 
remained to the end of his life one of the few 
books he had in his house. The dramatic situa- 
tions that he loved were there in plenty. Over and 
over again he painted the Nativity of Christ. 
Sometimes the Baby is in a tiny Dutch cradle 



REMBRANDT 121 

with its face just peeping out, and the shepherds 
adoring it by candle-light. Often he painted scenes 
from the Old Testament ; such as Isaac blessing 
Esau and Jacob, who are shown as two little Dutch 
children. Simeon receiving the Infant Christ in 
the Temple is a favourite subject, because of the 
varied effects that could be produced by the gloom 
of the church and the light on the figure of the High 
Priest. These, and many other beautiful pictures, 
were studies painted for the increase of the artist's 
own knowledge, not orders from citizens of Leyden, 
or of Amsterdam, to which capital he moved in 
1630. At the same time he was coming more and 
more into demand as a portrait -painter. These 
were days in which he made money fast, and spent 
it faster. He had a craving to surround himself 
with beautiful works of art and beautiful objects 
of all kinds that should take him away from the 
dunes and canals into a world of romance within 
his own house. He disliked the stiff Dutch 
clothes and the great starched white ruffs worn by 
the women of the day. He had to paint them 
in his portraits ; but when he painted his beautiful 
wife, Saskia, she is decked in embroideries and soft 
shimmering stuffs. Wonderful clasps and brooches 

16 



122 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

fasten her clothes. Her hair is dressed with gold 
chains, and great strings of pearls hang from her 
neck and arms. Rembrandt makes the light 
sparkle on the diamonds and glimmer on the 
pearls. Sometimes he adorns her with flowers 
and paints her as Flora. Again, she is fastening 
a jewel in her hair, and Rembrandt himself stands 
by with a rope of pearls for her to don. All 
these jewels and rich materials belonged to him. 
He also bought antique marbles, pictures by 
Giorgione and Titian, engravings by Diirer, and 
four volumes of Raphael's drawings, besides many 
other beautiful works of art. 

These were splendid years, years in which he 
was valued by his contemporaries for the work he 
did for them, and years in which every picture he 
painted for himself gave him fresh experience. A 
picture of the anatomy class of a famous physician 
had been among the first with which Rembrandt 
made a great public success. Every face in it — 
and there were eight living faces — was a master- 
piece of portraiture, and all were fitly grouped and 
united in the rapt attention with which they 
followed the demonstration of their teacher. 

In 1642 he received an order to paint a large 



REMBRANDT 123 

picture of one of the companies of the City Guard 
of Amsterdam. According to the custom of the 
day, each person portrayed in the picture con- 
tributed his equal share towards the cost of the 
whole, and in return expected his place hi it 
to be as conspicuous as that of anybody else. 
Such groups were common in Holland in the 
seventeenth century. The towns were proud of 
their newly won liberties, and the town dignitaries 
liked to see themselves painted in a group to per- 
petuate remembrance of their tenure of office. 
But Rembrandt knew that it was inartistic to 
give each and every person in a large group an 
equal or nearly equal prominence, although such 
was the custom to which even Franz Hals' brush 
had yielded full compliance. For his magnificent 
picture of the City Guard, Rembrandt chose the 
moment when the drums had just been sounded 
as an order for the men to form into line behind 
their chief officers' march-forth. They are coming 
out from a dark building into the full sunshine 
of the street. All in a bustle, some look at 
their fire-arms, some lift their lances, and some 
cock their guns. The sunshine falls full upon the 
captain and the lieutenant beside him, but the 



124 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

background is so dark that several of the seventeen 
figures are almost lost to view. A few of the heads 
are turned in such a way that only half the face is 
seen, and no doubt as likenesses some of them 
were deficient. Rembrandt was not thinking of 
the seventeen men individually. He conceived 
the picture as a whole, with its strong light and 
shade, the picturesque crossing lines of the lances, 
and the natural array of the figures. By wiseacres, 
the picture was said to represent a scene at night, 
lit by torch -light, and was actually called the 
' Night Watch,' though the shadow of the 
captain's hand is of the size of the hand itself, 
and not greater, being cast by the sun. Later 
generations have valued it as one of the unsur- 
passed pictures in the world ; but it is said that 
contemporary Dutch feeling waxed high against 
Rembrandt for having dealt in this supremely 
artistic manner with an order for seventeen por- 
traits, and that he suffered severely in consequence. 
Certainly he had fewer orders. The prosperous 
class abandoned him. His pictures remained 
unsold, and his revenue dwindled. 

Rembrandt was thirty-six years of age and at 
the very height of his powers, at the time of the 



REMBRANDT 125 

failure of this his greatest picture. His mature 
style of painting continued to displease his con- 
temporaries, who preferred the work of less in- 
novating artists who painted good likenesses 
smoothly. Every year his treatment became 
rougher and bolder. He transformed portraits 
of stolid Dutch burgomasters into pictures of 
fantastic beauty ; but the likeness suffered, and 
the burgomasters were dissatisfied. Their con- 
servative taste preferred the smooth surface and 
minute treatment of detail which had been tradi- 
tional in the Low Countries since the days of 
the Van Eycks. Year after year more of their 
patronage was transferred to other painters, who 
pandered to their preferences and had less of the 
genius that forced Rembrandt to work out his 
own ideal, whether it brought him prosperity or 
ruin. These painters flourished, while Rembrandt 
sank into ever greater disrepute. 

It is certain, too, that he had been almost child- 
ishly reckless in expenditure on artistic and beautiful 
things which were unnecessary to his art and beyond 
his means, although those for a while had been 
abundant. At the time of the failure of the 
'Night Watch,' his wife Saskia died, leaving him 



126 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

their little son, Titus, a beautiful child. Through 
ever-darkening days, for the next fifteen years, he 
continued to paint with increasing power. It is to 
this later period that our picture of the 'Man in 
Armour ' belongs. 

The picture is not a portrait, but rather a study 
of light upon armour. No man came to Rembrandt 
and asked to be painted like that ; but Rembrandt 
saw in his mind's eye a great effect — a fine knightly 
face beneath a shadowing helmet and set off against 
a sombre background. A picture such as this is a 
work of the imagination in the same sense as the 
* Saint George and the Dragon ' of Tintoret. It was 
an effect that only Rembrandt could see, painted as 
only he could paint it. The strongest light falls 
upon the breastplate, the next strongest upon the 
helmet, and the ear-ring is there to catch another 
gleam. When you look at the picture closely, 
you can see that the lights are laid on (we might 
almost say ' buttered on ') with thick white paint. 
More than once Rembrandt painted armour for 
the sake of the effects of light. In one of the 
portraits of himself he wears a helmet, and he 
painted his brother similarly adorned. A picture 
of a person wearing the same armour as in the 




A Man in Armour. 

From the picture by Rembrandt, in the Corporation Art Gallery, Glasgow. 



REMBRANDT 127 

Glasgow picture is in St. Petersburg, but the 
figure is turned in a slightly different direction 
and reflects the light differently. It is called 
* Pallas Athene,' and was no doubt painted at 
the same time as ours ; but the person, whether 
named Pallas Athene or knight, was but a peg 
upon which to hang the armour for the sake of 
the light shining on it. 

Rembrandt was a typical Dutch worker all his 
life. Besides the great number of pictures that 
have come down to us, we have about three 
thousand of his drawings, and his etchings are 
very numerous and fine. 

I wonder if you know how prints are made ? 
There are, broadly speaking, two different pro- 
cesses. You can take a block of wood and cut 
away the substance around the lines of the design. 
Then when you cover with ink the raised surface 
of wood that is left and press the paper upon 
it, the design prints off* in black where the ink 
is but the paper remains white where the hollows 
are. This is the method called wood-cutting, 
which is still in use for book illustrations. 

In the other process, the design is ploughed into 
a metal plate, the lines being made deep enough to 



128 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

hold ink, and varying in width according to the 
strength desired in the print. You then fill the 
grooves with ink, wiping the flat surface clean, so 
that when the paper is pressed against the plate 
and into the furrows, the lines print black, out of 
the furrows, and the rest remains white. 

There are several ways of making these furrows 
in a metal plate, but the chief are two. The first is 
to plough into the metal with a sharp steel instru- 
ment called a burin. The second is to bite them 
out with an acid. This is the process of etching 
with which Rembrandt did his matchless work. 
He varnished a copper plate with black varnish. 
With a needle he scratched upon it his design, 
which looked light where the needle had revealed 
the copper. Then the whole plate was put into 
a bath of acid, which ate away the metal, and so 
bit into the lines, but had no effect upon the 
varnish. When he wanted the lines to be blacker 
in certain places, he had to varnish the whole rest of 
the plate again, and put it back into the bath of 
acid. The lines that had been subjected to the 
second biting were deeper than those that had 
been bitten only once. 

The number of plates etched by Rembrandt was 



REMBRANDT 129 

great, at least two hundred ; some say four hundred. 
Their subjects are very various — momentary im- 
pressions of picturesque figures, Scriptural scenes, 
portraits, groups of common people, landscapes, 
and whatever happened to engage the artist's 
fancy, for an etching can be very quickly done, 
and is well suited to record a fleeting impression. 
Thousands of the prints still exist, and even some of 
the original plates in a very worn -down condition. 

In spite of the quantity and quality of Rem- 
brandt's work, he was unable to recover his 
prosperity. He had moved into a fine house 
when he married Saskia, and was never able 
to pay off the debts contracted at that time. 
Things went from bad to worse, until at last, in 
1656, when Rembrandt was fifty, he was declared 
bankrupt, and everything he possessed in the world 
was sold. We have an inventory of the gorgeous 
pictures, the armour, the sculptures, and the jewels 
and dresses that had belonged to Saskia. His 
son Titus retained a little of his mother's money, 
and set up as an art dealer in order to help his 
father. 

It is a truly dreary scene, yet Rembrandt still 
continued to paint, because painting was to him 

17 



130 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

the very breath of life. He painted Titus over 
and over again looking like a young prince. In 
these later years the portraits of himself increase in 
number, as if because of the lack of other models. 
When we see him old, haggard, and poor in his 
worn brown painting -clothes, it hardly seems 
possible that he can be the same Rembrandt as 
the gay, frolicking man in a plumed hat, holding 
out the pearls for Saskia. 

In his old age he received one more large order 
from a group of six drapers of Amsterdam for 
their portraits. It has been said that the lesson of 
the miscalled ' Night Watch ' had been branded 
into his soul by misfortune. What is certain is 
that, while in this picture he purposely returned to 
the triumphs of portraiture of his youth, he did not 
give up the artistic ideals of his middle life. He 
gave his sitters an equal importance in position 
and lighting, and at the same time painted a 
picture artistically satisfying. Not one of the six 
men could have had any fault to find with the way 
in which he was portrayed. Each looks equally 
prominent in vivid life. Yet they are not a row 
of six individual men, but an organic group held 
together you hardly know how. At last you 



REMBRANDT 131 

realize that all but one are looking at you. You 
are the unifying centre that brings the whole 
picture together, the bond without which, meta- 
phorically speaking, it would fall to pieces. 

This picture of six men in plain black clothes 
and black hats, sitting around a table, is by some 
considered the culmination of Rembrandt's art. 
It shows that, in spite of misfortune and failure, 
his ardour for new artistic achievement remained 
with him to the end. 

In 1662 Rembrandt seems to have paid a brief 
and unnoticed visit to England. If Charles II. had 
heard of him and made him his court painter, we 
might have had an unrivalled series of portraits of 
court beauties by his hand instead of by that of Sir 
Peter Lely. As it was, a hasty sketch of old St. 
Paul's Cathedral, four years before it was burnt 
down, is the sole trace left of his visit. 

The story of his old age is dreary. Even Titus 
died a few months before his father, leaving him 
alone in the world. In the autumn of 1669 he 
himself passed away, leaving behind him his paint- 
ing-clothes, his paint-brushes, and nothing else, 
save a name destined to an immortality which his 
contemporaries little foresaw. All else had gone : 



132 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

his wife, his child, his treasures, and his early vogue 
among the Dutchmen of his time. 

The last picture of all was a portrait of himself, 
in the same attitude as his first, but disillusioned 
and tragic, with furrowed lines and white hair. No 
one cared whether he died or not, and it is recorded 
that after his death pictures by him could be 
bought for sixpence. Thus ended the life of one 
of the world's supremely great painters. 



CHAPTER X 

PETER DE HOOGH AND CUYP 

Let us now turn from the splendid gloom of 
Rembrandt's 'Knight in Armour,' to delight in this 
beautiful little interior of a Dutch house by Peter 
de Hoogh. Still you see the prepossession for 
light, but for more tempered rays and softer 
shadows. The sunshine is diffused by the yellow 
curtains throughout the room. The old lady need 
not fear its revelations, to be sure, for it is Holland 
— ^she knows that the whole house has been duly 
scrubbed with soap and water. Dust and dirt are 
banished. It is a cloudless day and dry under foot, 
otherwise the little boy would have worn clogs 
over his shoes, and you might see them outside. 
Mud on the polished stones of the passage would 
have ruffled the housewife's calm. As it is, we can 
see she has had no worries this morning. She has 

183 



134 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

donned her fresh red dress and clean white apron, 
and will soon be seated to prepare the vegetables 
and fruit that are being brought her. Perhaps 
they are a present from the old lady in the house 
over the way, who from her front door watches the 
child delivering the gift. 

It is a domestic scene that you might witness 
in any of the old towns of Holland to this day. 
The insides and outsides of the houses are still 
scrubbed with soap and water ; rows of clogs stand 
outside the front doors on muddy days ; the women 
wear the same bright coloured gowns fully gathered 
round the waist, with the cleanest of white aprons ; 
their faces are placid and unruffled as they pursue 
the even tenour of their way. 

This atmosphere of Dutch life, peaceful, home- 
loving, and competent, is rendered by Peter de 
Hoogh in most of his pictures. It is not the 
atmosphere of Rembrandt's art, yet he never 
could have painted thus except for Rembrandt. 
The same love of sunlight and shadows prevailed 
with Peter de Hoogh, and it was no less the aim 
of his art to attain mastery over the painting of 
light, but light diffused and reflected. He loved 
to show the sunlight shining through some coloured 



PETER DE HOOGH AND CUYP 135 

substance, such as this yellow curtain, which scatters 
its brightness and lets it fall more evenly throughout 
the room. He never painted such extreme contrasts 
as make manifest Rembrandt's power. Rem- 
brandt's light had been so vivid that it seemed to 
overwhelm colours in a dazzling brilliancy. Peter 
de Hoogh's lights are just strong enough to reveal 
the colours in a milder illumination. In our picture 
the sunshine diffused by the yellow curtains mingles 
with the red of the woman's dress and creates a 
rich orange. Little does she know how well her 
dress looks. But it was only after incessant study 
of the way in which Rembrandt had mastered the 
whole range from light to dark, that Peter de 
Hoogh became able to paint as he did within his 
narrower scale, abridged at both extremes. 

Begin with the room, then the passage, then 
the farther hall, then the highway open to the 
unseen sky above, then the house-front beyond it, 
and the hall beyond the lady in the neighbouring 
doorway ; there are at least four distinct distances 
in this picture each differently lighted, and the 
several effects worked out with scrupulous pains- 
taking fidelity. It is worth your while, with your 
own eyes rather than with many words of mine, to 



136 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

search out on the original all these beautifully 
varied gradations. In many of his pictures one 
part is lighted from the sunlit street, and another 
from a closed court. Sometimes his figures stand 
in an open courtyard, whilst behind is a paved 
passage leading into the house. All his subjects 
are of the domestic Dutch life of the seventeenth 
century, but the arrangement in rooms, passages, 
courtyards, and enclosed gardens admitted of much 
variation. We never feel that the range of subjects 
is limited, for the light transforms each into a 
scene of that poetic beauty which it was Peter de 
Hoogh's great gift to discern, enjoy, and record. 

The painting is delicate and finished, meant to 
be seen from near at hand. It is always the room 
that interests him, as much as the people in it. 
The painting of the window with its little coats of 
arms, transparent yet diffusing the light, is ex- 
quisitely done. A chair with the cushion upon it, 
just like that, occurs again and again in his pictures, 
the cushion being used as a welcome bit of colour 
in the scheme. Most of all, the floors, whether 
paved with stone as in this picture, or with brick 
as in the courtyards, are painted with the delight- 
ful precise care that the Van Eycks gave to their 




Ax Interior. 
From the picture by Pieter de Hoogh, in the Wallace Collection, Londc 



PETER DE HOOGH AND CUYP 137 

accessories. In Peter de Hoogh's vision of the 
world there is the same appreciation of the objects 
of daily use as was displayed by the fifteenth- 
century Flemish painters whenever their sacred 
subjects gave them opportunity. In the seven- 
teenth century it was more congenial to the Flemish 
and Dutch temperament to paint their own country, 
and domestic scenes from their own lives, than 
pictures of devotion. 

Other artists besides Peter de Hoogh painted 
people in their own houses. In the pictures of 
Terborch ladies in satin dresses play the spinet 
and the guitar. Jan Steen depicted peasants 
revelling on their holidays or in taverns. Peter 
de Hoogh was the painter of middle -class life, 
and discovered in its circumstances, likewise, 
abounding romance. 

The Dutchman of the seventeenth century 
loved his house and his garden, and every inch of 
the country in which he lived, rescued as it had 
been from invasions by armies and the sea. Many 
painters never left Holland, and found beauty 
enough there to fill well-spent lives in painting its 
flatness beneath over-arching clear or clouded skies. 
Although the earlier Flemings had had a great 

18 



138 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

love of landscape, they had not conceived it as a 
subject suitable for a whole picture, but only for 
a background. In the sixteenth century the 
figures gradually get smaller and less important, 
and towards the end of the century disappear. 
As the song says, *a very different thing by far' 
is painting a landscape background and painting 
a whole landscape picture. Before the end of 
the century Rubens painted some wonderful 
landscapes, and he was soon followed by a great 
number of very fine landscape painters in Holland. 
Cuyp was one of many. 

In a Dutch landscape we cannot expect the rich 
colouring of Italy. The colouring of Holland is 
low toned, and tender gradations lead away to the 
low and level horizon. The canals are sluggish and 
grey, and the clouds often heavy and dark. We 
saw how the brilliant skies and pearly buildings of 
Venice made Venetian painters the gayest colour- 
ists of the world. So the Dutch painters took 
their sober scale of landscape colouring as it was 
dictated to them by the infinitely varied yet 
sombre loveliness of their own land. In the 
great flat expanses of field, intersected by canals 
and dotted with windmills, the red brick roof of 



PETER DE HOOGH AND CUYP 139 

a water-mill may look 'loud,' like an aggressive 
hat. But the shadows cast by the clouds change 
every moment, and in flat country where there is 
less to arrest the eye the changes of tone are 
more marked. 

In an etching, Rembrandt could leave a piece 
of white paper for the spot of highest sunlight, 
and carry out all the gradations of tone in black 
and white, until he reached the spot of darkest 
shadow. A painted landscape he indicated in 
the same way by varying shades of dull brown. 
In all of them you seem to feel the interposition 
of the air between you and the distant horizon 
at which you are looking. What else is there? 
At each point in the picture the air modifies the 
distinctness with which you can see the objects. 
This consciousness of air in a picture of low 
horizon is a very difficult thing to describe and 
explain. We know when it is there and when 
it is not. It has to be seen, to be enjoyed, and 
recorded. Holbein painted Edward VI. standing, 
so to speak, in a vacuum. Every line of his face 
is sharply defined. In real life air softens all lines, so 
that even the edge of a nose in profile is not actually 
seen as a sharp outline. The figures in Richard II.'s 



140 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

picture stand in the most exhausted vacuum, but 
Hubert van Eyck had already begun to render the 
vision or illusion of air in his ' Three Maries.' In 
this respect he had learnt more than the early 
painters of the Italian Renaissance ; but Raphael 
and the Venetians, especially Giorgione and Titian, 
sometimes bathed their figures in a luminous golden 
atmosphere with the sun shining through it. 

The Dutch painters carried this still further, 
particularly in their pictures of interiors and land- 
scapes. It is the atmosphere in the rooms that 
makes Peter de Hoogh's portrayal of interiors 
so wonderful. In our little picture the light 
coming through the window makes the air almost 
golden. When this painting of air and tone is 
set forth by the exquisite colour of Peter de 
Hoogh, you see this kind of Dutch achievement 
at its best. Cuyp's love of sunshine is rare 
among Dutch landscape painters. He suffuses 
his skies with a golden haze that bathes his 
kin and kine alike in evening light. In our 
picture you can feel the great height of the 
sky and the depth of the air between the fore- 
ground and the horizon. The rendering of space 
is excellent. But Cuyp has not been content 



PETER DE HOOGH AND CUYP 141 

with the features of his native Holland. He has 
put an imaginary mountain in the distance and a 
great hill in the foreground. It is certainly not 
a view that Cuyp ever saw in Holland with 
his own eyes. He thought that the mountain's 
upright lines were good to break the flatness ; 
and the finished composition, if beautiful, is its 
own excuse for being. 

Rembrandt is an exception to all rules, but most 
of the Dutch painters did not allow themselves 
these excursions within their studios to foreign 
scenes. They faithfully depicted their own flat 
country as they saw it, and added neither hills nor 
mountains. But they varied the lighting to ex- 
press their own moods. Ruysdael's sombre tone 
befits the man who struggled with poverty all his 
life, and died in a hospital penniless. Cuyp is 
always sunny. In his pictures, cattle browse at 
their ease, and shepherds lounge contented on the 
grass. He was a painter of portraits and of figure 
subjects as well as of landscapes, and his little groups 
of men and cattle are always beautifully drawn. 
Ruysdael, Hobbema, and many others were land- 
scape painters only, and some had their figures 
put in by other artists. Often they did without 



142 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

them, but in the landscapes of Cuyp, cows generally 
occupy the prominent position. The black and white 
cow in our picture is a fine creature, and nothing 
could be more harmonious in colour than the brown 
cow and the brown jacket of the herdsman. 

There were some painters in Holland in the 
seventeenth century who made animals their chief 
study. Theretofore it had been rare to introduce 
them into pictures, except as symbols, like the lion 
of St. Jerome, or where the story implied them ; 
or in allegorical pictures, such as the 'Golden 
Age.' But at this later time animals had their 
share in the increased interest that was taken in 
the things of daily life, and they were painted 
for their handsome sakes, as Landseer painted 
them in England fifty years ago. 

Thus the seventeenth century in Holland shows 
an enlargement in the scope of subjects for paint- 
ing. Devotional pictures were becoming rare, but 
illustrations, sacred and secular, portraits, groups, 
interiors, and landscapes, were produced in great 
numbers. Dutch painters outnumbered those of 
Flanders, but among the latter were at least two 
of the highest eminence, Rubens and Van Dyck, 
and to tliese we will next direct our attention. 




u 



CHAPTER XI 



VAN DYCK 



The great painter Rubens lived at Antwerp, a 
town about as near to Amsterdam as Dover is 
to London. Yet despite the proximity of Flanders 
and Holland, their religion, politics, social life, 
and art were very different in the seventeenth 
century, as we have already seen. 

Rubens was a painter of the prosperous and 
ruling classes. He was employed by his own 
sovereign, by the King of Spain, by Marie de 
M^dicis, Queen of France, and by Charles I. of 
England. His remarkable social and intellectual 
gifts caused him to be employed also as an 
ambassador, and he was sent on a diplomatic 
errand to Spain ; but even then his leisure hours 
were occupied in copying the jfine Titians in the 
King's palace. 



143 



144 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

One day he was noticed by a Spanish noble, 
who said to him, ' Does my Lord occupy his spare 
time in painting ?' 'No,' said Rubens ; ' the painter 
sometimes amuses himself with diplomacy.' 

In his life as in his art he was exuberant. An 
absurd anecdote of the time is good enough to 
show that. Some people, who went to visit him 
in his studio at Antwerp, wrote afterwards that 
they found him hard at work at a picture, whilst 
at the same time he was dictating a letter, and some 
one else was reading aloud a Latin work. When 
the visitors arrived he answered all their questions 
without leaving off any of those three occupations ! 
We must not all hope to match Rubens. 

Rubens's great ceremonial paintings, containing 
numerous figures and commemorating historical 
scenes in honour of his Royal patrons, were ex- 
ecuted by his own hands, or by the hands he 
taught and guided, with great skill and speed. 
He painted also beautiful portraits of his wife 
and family, and pictures of his own medieval 
castle, wliich he restored and inhabited during the 
last years of his life, with views of the country 
stretching out in all directions. He liked a com- 
fortable life and comfortable-looking people. He 



VAN DYCK 145 

painted his own wives as often as Rembrandt 
painted Saskia ; both were plump enough to 
make our memories recur with pleasure to the 
slenderer figures preferred by Botticelli and the 
painters of his school. 

To accomplish the great mass of historic, sym- 
bolic, and ceremonial painting that still crowds the 
walls of the galleries of Europe, Rubens needed 
many assistants and pupils, but only one of them. 
Van Dyck, rose to the highest rank as a painter. 

He was a Fleming by birth, and worked in the 
studio at Antwerp for several years as an assistant 
of Rubens ; then he went to Italy to learn from 
the great pictures of the Italian Renaissance, as so 
many Northern artists wished to do. It has been 
said that the works of Titian influenced his youth- 
ful mind the most. Van Dyck spent three years in 
Genoa, where he was employed by those foremost 
in its life to paint their portraits. Many of these 
superb canvases have been dispersed to enrich the 
galleries of both hemispheres, public and private ; 
but the proud, handsome semblances of some of 
his sitters, dressed in rich velvet, pearls, and lace, 
look down upon us still from the bare walls of 
their once magnificent palaces, with that 'grand 

19 



146 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

air ' for which the eye and the brush of Van Dyck 
have long remained unrivalled. 

When he returned to Flanders from Italy, he 
had attained a style of painting entirely his own 
and very different from that of his great master, 
Rubens. The little picture on the cover is an 
excellent example of Van Dyck's work. The child 
is a prince : we know it as plainly as if Van Dyck 
had spoken the word before unveiling his canvas. 
His erect attitude, his dignified bearing, his perfect 
self-possession and ease, show that he has been 
trained in a high school of manners. But there is 
also something in the delicate oval of the face, the 
well-cut nose and mouth, and the graceful growth 
of the hair, that speak of refined breeding. Distinc- 
tion is the key-note of the picture. 

This little Prince had in his veins the blood of 
William the Silent, and became the father of our 
William III. Poor human nature is too easily 
envious, and some deny the reality, in fact, of the 
distinction, the grace, of Van Dyck's portrayed 
men and women. Nevertheless, Van Dyck's 
vision, guiding his brush, was as rare an endowment 
as envy is a common one, and has higher authority 
to show us what to look for, to see, and to enjoy. 



VAN DYCK 147 

Van Dyck was the first painter who taught 
people how they ought to look, to befit an admirer's 
view of their aristocratic rank. His portraits thus 
express the social position of the sitter as well as 
the individual character. Although this has been 
an aim of portrait-painters in modern times, when 
they have been painting people of rank, it was less 
usual in the seventeenth century. 

There was hardly scope enough in Antwerp for 
two great painters such as Rubens and Van Dyck, 
so in 1632 Van Dyck left Flanders and settled 
permanently in England, as Court painter to 
Charles I. All his life Charles had been an 
enthusiastic collector of works of art Born with 
a fine natural taste, he had improved it by study, 
until Rubens could say of him : ' The Prince of 
Wales is the best amateur of painting of all the 
princes in the world. He has demanded my 
portrait with such insistence that he has overcome 
my modesty, although it does not seem to me 
fitting to send it to a Prince of his importance.' 

Two of our pictures, the Richard II. diptych 
and the Edward VI. of Holbein, were in his 
collection, besides many we have mentioned, such 
as Holbein's ' Erasmus,' Raphael's cartoons, and 



14S THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

Mantegna's * Triumph of Caesar.' Before Charles 
came to the throne he had gone to Spain to woo 
the daughter of Philip III. The magnificent 
Titians in the palace at Madrid extorted such 
admiration from the Prince that Philip felt it 
incumbent upon him as a host and a Spaniard to 
offer some of them to Charles. Charles sent his 
own painter to copy the rest. He kept agents all 
over Europe to buy for him, and spent thousands of 
pounds in salaries and presents to the artists at his 
Court. As in the time of Henry VIII., there 
were still no first-rate English painters. James I. 
had employed a Fleming, and an inferior Dutch- 
man, whom Charles retained in his service for a 
time. Then he experimented with a second-rate 
Italian artist, who painted some ceilings which still 
exist at Hampton Court. Rubens was too much 
in demand at other Courts for Charles to have his 
exclusive service, but the courtly Van Dyck was 
a painter after his own heart. For the first time 
he had found an artist who satisfied his taste, and 
Van Dyck a Court in which he could paint 
distinction to his heart's content. Charles would 
have squandered money on him if he had then had 
it to squander. As it was, he paid him far less 



VAN DYCK 149 

than he had paid his inferior predecessors, but Van 
Dyck continued to paint for him to the end, and 
by Heaven's mercy died himself before the crash 
came, which overthrew Charles and scattered his 
collection. 

Between the years 1632 and 1642, Van Dyck 
painted a great number of portraits of the King. 
It is from these that we obtain our vivid idea of the 
first Charles's gentleness and refinement. He has a 
sad look, as though the world were too much for 
him and he had fallen upon evil days. We can see 
him year by year looking sadder, but Van Dyck 
makes the sadness only emphasize the distinction. 

Queen Henrietta Maria was painted even 
more often than the King. She is always dressed 
in some bright shimmering satin ; sometimes in 
yellow, like the sleeve of William II.'s dress, some- 
times in the purest white. She looks very lovely 
in the pictures, but lovelier still are the groups of 
her children. Even James II. was once a 
bewitching little creature in frocks with a skull-cap 
on his head. His sister Mary, aged six, in a lace 
dress, with her hands folded in front of her, looks 
very good and grown-up. When she became older, 
though not even then really grown-up, she married 



150 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

the William of Orange of our picture. He came 
from Holland and stayed at the English Court, as 
a boy of twelve, and it was then that Van Dyck 
painted this portrait of him. 

Later on, when they were married, Van Dyck 
painted them together, but William was older and 
looked a little less beautiful, and Mary had lost the 
charm of her babyhood. With all her royal dignity 
and solemnity, she is a perfect child in these pictures. 
Refined people, loving art, have grown so fond of 
the Van Dyck children, that often when they 
wish their own to look particularly bewitching 
at some festivity, they dress them in the cos- 
tumes of the little Mary and Elizabeth Stuart, 
and revive the skull-caps and the lace dresses for a 
fresh enjoyment. 

Van Dyck's patrons in England, other than the 
King, were mostly noblemen and courtiers. They 
lived in the great houses, which had been built 
in many parts of the country during the reigns 
of Elizabeth and her successors. The rooms were 
spacious, with high walls that could well hold 
the large canvases of Van Dyck. Sometimes a 
special gallery was built to contain the family 
portraits, and Van Dyck received a commission to 



VAN DYCK 151 

paint them all. Often, several copies of the same 
picture were ordered at one time to be sent as 
presents to friends and relations. Usually the 
artist painted but one himself ; the rest were 
copies by his assistants. 

Van Dyck's portraits were designed to suit great 
houses. In a small room, which a portrait by Hol- 
bein would have decorated nobly, a canvas by Van 
Dyck would have been overpowering. In spite of 
the fact that the expressions on the faces are often 
intimate and appealing, domesticity is not the mark 
of his art. In Van Dyck's picture of our ' heir of 
fame,' the white linen, the yellow satin, and the 
armour please us as befitting the lovely face. There 
is a glimmer of light on the armour, but you see 
how different is Van Dyck's treatment of it from 
Rembrandt's. Van Dyck painted it as an article 
of dress in due subordination to the face, not as an 
opportunity for reflecting light and becoming the 
most important thing in the picture. 

We have seen how Rembrandt, Peter de 
Hoogh, Cuyp, Rubens, and Van Dyck were all 
contemporaries, born within an area of ground 
smaller far than England. Yet the range of their 
subjects was widely different, and each painter gave 



152 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

his individuality full play. The desires of the 
public were not stereotyped and fixed, as they 
had been when all alike wanted their religious 
aspirations expressed in art. The patrons of that 
epoch had various likings, as we have to-day, and 
the painter developed along the lines most congenial 
to himself. Unless he could make people like what 
he enjoyed painting, he could not make a living. If 
they had no eyes to learn to see, he might remain 
unappreciated, like Rembrandt, until long after his 
death. Yet Van Dyck's portraits were popular. 
People could scarcely help enjoying an art that 
showed them off to such advantage. Having found 
a style that suited him, he adhered to it consis- 
tently, thenceforward making but few experiments. 
This little picture before us is an admirable ex- 
ample of the gentle poetic grace and refinement 
always recalled to the memory by the name of Van 
Dyck. So long as men prize the aspect of dis- 
tinction, which he was the first Northern painter to 
express in paint. Van Dyck's reputation will endure. 



CHAPTER XII 

VELASQUEZ 

During the years in which Van Dyek was painting 
his beautiful portraits of the Royal Family of 
England, another painter, Velasquez, was im- 
mortalizing another Royal Family in the far-away 
country of Spain. Cut off by the great mountains 
of the Pyrenees from the rest of Europe, Spain did 
not rank among the foremost powers until after the 
discovery of America had brought wealth to her 
from the gold mines of Mexico and Peru. In 
the sixteenth century the King of Spain's dominions, 
actual or virtual, covered a great part of Western 
Europe, excepting England and France. Germany, 
Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands, owned the 
sovereignty of the Holy Roman Emperor, 
Charles V. His son was Philip II. of Spain, the 
husband of our Queen Mary of England, and his 

153 20 



154 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

great-grandson was King Philip IV., the patron of 
Velasquez, as Charles I. was of Van Dyck. 

It is the little son of Philip IV., Don Balthazar 
Carlos, whose portrait is before us — as manly and 
sturdy looking a little fellow as ever bestrode a 
pony. He was but six years old when Velasquez 
painted the picture here reproduced. Certainly he 
was not fettered and cramped and prevented from 
taking exercise like his little sisters. The princesses 
of Spain were dressed in wide skirts, spread out 
over hoops and hiding their feet, from the time they 
could walk. The tops of the dresses were as stiff 
as corselets, and one wonders how the little girls 
were able to move at all. As they grew older the 
hoops became wider and wider, until in one picture 
of a grown-up princess, the skirts are broader than 
the whole height of her body. Stringent Court 
etiquette forbade a princess to let her feet be seen, 
but so odd may such conventions be, that it was 
nevertheless thought correct for the Queen to 
ride on horseback astride. 

It is from the canvases of Velasquez that we 
know the Spanish Royal Family and the aspect of 
the Court of Philip IV. as though we had lived 
there ourselves. The painter was born in the 




Don Balthazar Carlos. 
From the picture by \'elasquez, in the Prado Museum, Madrid. 



VELASQUEZ 155 

south of Spain in the same year as Van Dyck, and 
seven years earlier than Rembrandt. To paint the 
portrait of his sovereign was the ambition of the 
young artist. When his years were but twenty- 
four the opportunity arrived, and Phihp was so 
pleased with the picture that he took the young 
man into his household, and said that no one else 
should ever be allowed to paint his portrait. 
Velasquez welcomed with gratified joy the prospect 
of that life-long proximity, although neither his 
earnings nor his station at all matched the service 
he rendered to his sovereign. As the years went 
on he was paid a little better, but his days and 
hours were more and more taken up with duties 
at Court, and his salary was always in arrears. He 
could not even reserve his own private time for his 
art, but as he waxed higher in the estimation of the 
King, the supervision of Court ceremonies, entrusted 
to him as an honour, deprived him of leisure, and at 
last brought his life prematurely to a close. 

From the time when Velasquez entered the 
service of the King, he painted exclusively for 
the Court. We have eight portraits by him of 
Philip IV., and five of the little Don Carlos, besides 
many others of the queens and princesses. We 



156 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

can follow the growth of his art in the portraits of 
Philip IV., as we can follow that of Rembrandt 
in portraits of himself. But while Rembrandt 
might make of the same person, himself, or another 
model, a dozen different people, so that it mattered 
little who the model was, Velasquez was concerned 
with a different problem. In the seventeenth 
century almost any good painter could draw his 
models correctly, but Velasquez reproduced the 
living aspect of a man as no one else had done. 
We have already spoken of the feeling of atmo- 
sphere that Cuyp and Peter de Hoogh were able 
to bring into their pictures. Velasquez, knowing 
little or nothing of the contemporary Dutchmen, 
worked at the same art problems all his life, and at 
last mastered the atmosphere problem completely, 
whether it was the air of a closed room in the dark 
palace of Philip, or the air of the open country, as 
in our picture. In this there is no bright light 
except upon the face of the little prince. It is 
dark and gloomy weather, but if on such a day you 
were to see the canvas in the open air it would 
almost seem part of the country itself, as Velasquez's 
picture of a room seems part of the gallery in 
which it hangs. 



VELASQUEZ 157 

It was only by degrees that he attained this 
quality in his work. He had had the ordinary 
teaching of a painter in Spain, but the level of art 
there at the time was not so high as in Holland or 
Italy. Like Rembrandt he was to a great extent 
his own master. In his early years he painted 
pictures of middle-class life, in which each figure 
is truthfully depicted, as were the early heads in 
Rembrandt's 'Anatomy.' Like Rembrandt in his 
youth, he looked at each head separately and 
painted it as faithfully as he could. The higher 
art of composing into the unity of a group all its 
parts, and keeping their perfections within such 
limits as best co-operate in the transcendent per- 
fection of the whole — this was the labour and the 
crown of both their lives. Velasquez's best and 
greatest groups are such a realized vision of life 
that they have remained the despair of artists to 
this day. 

Velasquez came to Court in the year in which 
Charles I., as Prince of Wales, went to Madrid to 
woo the sister of Philip IV. He painted her 
portrait twice, and made an unfinished sketch of 
Charles, which has unfortunately been lost. Five 
years afterwards Rubens was a visitor at the 



158 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

Spanish Court on a diplomatic errand. The 
painters took a fancy to one another, and corre- 
sponded for the remainder of their lives. They 
must have talked long about their art, and the 
elder painter, Rubens, is thought to have promoted 
in Velasquez a desire to see the great treasures 
of Italy. At all events we find that in the next 
year he has obtained permission and money from 
Philip to undertake the journey, which kept him 
away from Spain for two years. 

There is an amusing page, in doggerel verse, 
which I remember to have read some years ago. 
I trust the translator will pardon the liberty I 
am taking in quoting it. It reports a perhaps 
imaginary conversation between Velasquez and 
an Italian painter in Rome. ' The Master ' in this 
rhyme is Velasquez. 

The Master stiffly bowed his figure tall 
And said, ' For Raphael, to speak the truth, 
— I always was plain-spoken from my youth, — 
I cannot say I like his works at all.' 

* Well,' said the other, * if you can run down 
So great a man, I really cannot see 
What you can find to like in Italy ; 
To him we all agree to give the crown.' 



VELASQUEZ 159 

Velasquez answered thus : ' I saw in Venice 
The true test of the good and beautiful ; 
First, in my judgment, ever stands that school, 
And Titian first of all Italian men is.' 

Velasquez in Rome was already a ripening 
artist, whose vision of the world was quite 
uncoloured and unshaped by the medieval tradi- 
tion. Raphael's pictures with their superhumanly 
lovely saints, their unworldly feeling, and their 
supernaturally clear light, doubtless imparted 
pleasure, but not a sympathetic inspiration. 
Tintoret's immense creative power and the colours 
of Titian's painting which inspired Tintoret's 
ambition, as we remember — these were the 
effective influences Velasquez experienced in Italy. 
His purchases and his own later canvases afford 
that inference. On his return from Italy he 
painted a ceremonial picture as wall-decoration for 
one of the palaces of Philip, and in it we can trace 
the influence of the great ceremonial paintings of 
the Venetians. The picture commemorates the 
surrender of Breda in North Brabant, when the 
famous General Spinola received its keys for 
Philip IV. It is far more than a series of separate 
figures. Two armies, officers and men, are grouped 



160 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

in one transaction, in one near and far landscape. 
It is a picture in which the foreground and the 
distances, with the lances of the soldiers and the 
smoke of battle, are as indispensable to the whole 
as are the central figures of the Dutchman in front 
handing the city keys to the courtly Spanish 
general. 

Don Balthazar Carlos was born while Velasquez 
was in Italy. On his return he painted his first 
portrait of him at the age of two. The little 
prince is dressed in a richly-brocaded frock with a 
sash tied round his shoulder. His hair has only 
just begun to grow, but he has the same look of 
determination upon his face that we see four years 
later in the equestrian portrait. A dwarf about 
his own height stands a step lower than he does, so 
as again to give him prominence. Another picture 
of Don Balthazar a little older is in the Wallace 
Collection in London. 

Velasquez's power with his brush lay in 
depicting vividly a scene that he saw ; thus in 
portraiture he was at his best. He knew how to 
pose his figures to perfection, so as to make the 
expression of their character a true pictorial 
subject. In our picture it is on high ground 



VELASQUEZ 161 

that the hoofs of the pony of Don Balthazar 
Carlos tread. So to raise the little Prince 
above the eye of the spectator was a good 
stroke, suggesting an importance in the gallant 
young rider. The boy's erect figure, too, firmly 
holding his baton as a king might hold a sceptre, 
and the well-stirruped foot, are all perfect posing. 
Velasquez does not give him distinction in the 
manner of Van Dyck, by delicate drawing and 
gentle grace, but in a sturdier fashion, with speed 
and pose and a fluttering sash in the wind. All 
the portraits of this lad are full of charm. He 
was heir to the throne, but died in boyhood. 

Velasquez paid another visit to Italy, twenty 
years after his first, for the purpose of buying 
more pictures to adorn Philip's palaces. Again 
we find him in Venice, where he bought two 
Tintorets and a Veronese, and again he made a 
long stay in Rome, this time to paint the portrait 
of the Pope. When he returned to Spain in 1651 
he had still nine years of work before him. There 
were portraits of Philip's new Queen to be painted 
— a young girl in a most uncomfortable dress — and 
portraits of her child, the Infanta Marguerita. 
Bewitching are the pictures of this little princess 

21 



162 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

at the ages of three, of four, and of seven, with her 
fair hair tied in a bow at the side of her head, and 
voluminous skirts of pink and silver. But sweetest 
of all is the picture called * The Maids of Honour ' 
(* Les Meninas '), in which the princess, aged about 
six, is being posed for her portrait. She is petulant 
and tired, and two of her handmaidens are cajoling 
her to stand still. Her two dwarfs and a big dog 
have been brought to amuse her, and the King 
and Queen, reflected in a mirror at the end of the 
room, stand watching the scene. Velasquez himself, 
with his easel and brushes, is at the side, painting. 
The picture perpetuates for centuries a moment of 
palace life. In that transitory instant, Velasquez 
took his vivid impression of the scene, and has 
translated his impression into paint. Everything 
is simple and natural as can be. The ordinary 
light of day falls upon the princess, but does not 
penetrate to the ceiling of the lofty room, which is 
still in shadow. All seem to have come together 
haphazard without being fitted into the canvas. 
There is little detail, and the whole effect seems 
produced by the simplest means ; yet in reality 
the skill involved is so great that artists to- 
day spend weeks copying the picture, in the 



VELASQUEZ 163 

endeavour to learn something of the secret of 
Velasquez. 

The best judges are among those who rank 
him highest, so that he is called pre-eminently * the 
painter's painter.' It is impossible for any one but 
a painter to understand how he used paint. From 
near at hand it looks a smudge, but at the proper 
distance every stroke takes its right place. Such 
freedom was the result of years of careful painting 
of detail, and is not to be attained by any royal 
road. Velasquez seldom seems to have made 
preliminary drawings, but of that we cannot be 
sure. Certainly he had learned to conceive his 
vision as a whole, and we may fancy at least that 
he drew it so upon the canvas — altering the lines 
as he went — working at all the parts of the picture 
at once, keeping the due relation of part to part ; 
not as if he finished one bit at a time, or thought 
of one part of a figure as distinct from the rest. 
To have drawn separate studies for legs and arms 
would have been foreign to his method of working. 

The pictures painted in this his latest style 
are few, for the court duties heaped upon him 
left too little time. Maria Theresa, the sister of 
Don Balthazar Carlos, was engaged to be married 



164 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

to Louis XIV., King of France. The marriage 
took place on the border of France and Spain, 
and Velasquez was in charge of all the ceremonies. 
The Princess travelled with a cavalcade eighteen 
miles long, and we can imagine what work all the 
arrangements involved. The marriage over, the 
ever loyal Velasquez returned to Madrid, but he 
returned only to die. 



CHAPTER XIII 

REYNOLDS AND THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 

Hitherto we have travelled far and wide in our 
search for typical examples of the beautiful in 
painting. We went from Flanders to Italy, from 
Italy to Germany, back to Holland, and thence 
to Spain. It is true that we began in England 
with our first picture, and that we have returned 
twice, once with Holbein, and again with Van Dyck, 
both foreign born and trained artists. We will 
finish with examples of truly native English art. 

In the eighteenth century England for the first 
time gained a foremost place in painting, though 
the people of the day scarcely realized that it 
was so. Even the poet Gray, writing in 1763, 
could say : 

Why this nation has made no advance hitherto in paint- 
ing and sculpture, it is hard to say. . . . You are generous 

165 



166 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

enough to wish, and sanguine enough to foresee, that art 
shall one day flourish in England. I, too, much wish, but 
can hardly extend my hopes so far. 

Yet in 1763 Reynolds was forty years of age and 
Gainsborough but four years younger. Hogarth 
was even sixty -six, and at work upon his last plate. 
Although, hitherto, the best painting in England 
had been done by foreign artists such as Holbein 
and Van Dyck, yet there had always been English- 
men of praiseworthy talent who had painted 
pleasing portraits. Hogarth carried this native 
tradition to a high point of excellence. He 
painted plain, good-natured -looking people in 
an unaffected and straightforward way. But he 
was a humourist in paint, and as great a student 
of human nature as he was of art. His insight 
into character and his great skill with the brush, 
combined with his sensitiveness to fun, make 
him in certain respects a unique painter. In 
the National Gallery there is a picture of the 
heads of his six servants in a double row. They 
might all be characters from Dickens, so vividly 
and sympathetically humorous is each. 

In his engravings Hogarth satirised the lives of 
all classes of the society of his day. When we 



REYNOLDS 167 

look at them we live again in eighteenth-century 
London, and walk in streets known to fame though 
now destroyed, thronged with men and women, 
true to life. 

As an artist, Hogarth occupies a position between 
the seventeenth -century Dutch painters of low 
life and the English painters that succeeded him, 
who expressed the ideals of a refined society. 
His portraits have something of the strength of 
Rembrandt's. His street and tavern scenes rival 
Jan S teen's ; but behind the mere representation of 
brutality, vice, crime, and misery we perceive not 
merely a skilled craftsman but a moral being, 
whom contact with misery deeply stirs and the 
sight of wickedness moves to indignation. 

After 1720 a succession of distinguished painters 
were born in England. Many of them first saw 
the light in obscure villages in the depths of the 
country. Reynolds came from Devonshire, Gains- 
borough from Suffolk, Romney from the Lake 
country. 

The eighteenth century was a time when politi- 
cians and men of letters had the habit of gathering 
in the coffee-houses of London — forerunners of 
the clubs of to-day. Conversation was valued as 



168 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

one of life's best enjoyments, and the varied 
society of actors, authors, and politicians, in which 
it flourished best, could only be obtained in the 
town. To the most distinguished circle of that 
kind in London, our painter Reynolds belonged. 

In the eighteenth century, society had also 
begun to divide its time in modern fashion 
between town and country. Many of the large 
country houses of to-day, and nearly all the land- 
scape-gardened parks, belong to that date. Never- 
theless it was a time of great artificiality of life. 
The ladies had no short country skirts, and none 
of the freedom to which we are accustomed. In 
London they wore long powdered curls and rouged, 
and in the country too they did not escape from 
the artificiality of fashion. Indeed, their great 
desire seems to have been to get away from every- 
thing natural and spontaneous. The artificial 
poetry of that time deals with the patch -boxes 
and powder-puffs of the fashionable dames of 
the town, and with nymphs and Dresden china 
shepherdesses in the country. 

Even on Reynolds' canvases the desire to im- 
prove upon nature is apparent. In his young 
days he painted the local personages of Devonshire 



REYNOLDS 169 

Then he made a journey abroad and spent three 
years in Rome and Venice. On his return he 
settled in London, and the most distinguished men 
and women of the day and their children sat to 
him. It seems that he would have liked his lords 
and ladies to look as heroic or sublime as the 
heroes or gods of Michelangelo. Instead of paint- 
ing them in the surroundings that belonged to 
them, as Holbein or Velasquez would have done, 
he dressed his ladies in what he called white 
* drapery,' a voluminous material, neither silk, satin, 
woollen, nor cotton, and painted them sailing 
through the woods. The ladies themselves liked 
to look like nymphs, characterless and pretty, so 
the fashion of painting portraits in this way 
became common. 

The pictures are pleasing to look at, although 
so artificial, and after all it was only full-length 
portraits of ladies that Reynolds treated in this 
way. They were a small part of his whole 
output. But he and Velasquez worked in a 
totally different spirit. Velasquez made the 
subject before him, however unpromising, striking 
because of its truth. Reynolds liked to change it 
on occasion into something quite different, for the 

22 



170 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

sake of making a picture pretty. Nevertheless, his 
strength lay in straightforward portraiture, and in 
the rendering of character. His portraits of men, 
unlike those of women, are dignified, simple, and 
restrained. His art was one long development till 
blindness prevented him from working. Every 
year he attained more freedom and naturalness 
in his pose and developed more power in his 
use of colour. 

Many would say that his loveliest achievements 
were portraits of children, yet he did not attain the 
same freedom in his child poses till late in life. 
You have all seen photographs, at any rate, of the 
' Age of Innocence ' and the * Heads of Angels,' 
but this little picture of the Duke of Gloucester, 
nephew of George III., will not be so familiar. 
I wonder whether it reminds you of anything you 
know ? It reminds me of Van Dyck. The little 
duke stands with an air of importance upon 
the hillside, which is raised above the eye of the 
spectator as Velasquez raised the ground beneath 
the pony of Don Balthazar Carlos. There is no 
mistake about the child being a simple English 
boy, with a nice chubby face and ordinary straight 
fair hair. But he is a prince and knows it. For 




The Duke of Gloucester. 
From the picture by Sir Joshua Reynolds, in Trinity College, Cambridge. 



REYNOLDS 171 

the sake of having his picture painted, he poses 
with an air of conscious dignity beyond his years. 
He sweeps his cloak around him like any grown- 
up cavalier, and holds out a plumed hat and 
walking stick in a lordly fashion. The child is 
consciously acting the part of a grown-up person, 
which only emphasizes his childhood. But the air 
of refinement and distinction in the picture comes 
straight from Van Dyck. As you look at the 
portraits of the Duke of Gloucester and WiUiam 
II. of Orange side by side, it may puzzle you to 
say which is the more attractive. Van Dyck has 
painted the clothes in more detail. A century 
later Reynolds has learnt to paint with dash, 
though not with the mastery of Velasquez. The 
effect of the cloak of the little Duke, its shim- 
mering shades of mauve and pink, is inimitable. 
It tones beautifully with the background, varying 
from dull green to brightest yellow. The back- 
ground happens to be sky, but it might as well 
have been a curtain, as long as its bit of colour so 
set off the clothes of the little Duke. 

When Reynolds painted children he delighted 
in making them act parts. Even in the ' Age of 
Innocence ' the little girl is looking how very very 



172 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

innocent. He painted one picture of a small boy, 
Master Crewe, dressed to look like Henry VIII. 
in the style of Holbein. With broad shoulders 
and a rich dress, he stands on his sturdy legs quite 
the figure of Henry. But the face is one beam of 
boyish laughter, and on the top of the little replica 
of the body of the corpulent monarch the effect of 
the childish face is most entertaining. 

When Reynolds puts away his ideas of the grand 
style of Michelangelo to paint pictures such as these, 
he is entirely delightful. He sometimes painted 
Holy Families and classical subjects, but the more 
the spirit of medieval sacred art has sunk into us, 
the less can we admire modern versions of the old 
subjects. The sacred paintings of the Middle Ages 
owe some of their charm to the fact that they do 
not make upon us the impression of life. In 
Reynolds' Holy Families, the Mother and Child 
are painted with all the skill of a modern artist 
and look as human as his portraits of the Duchess 
of Devonshire and her baby. It is no longer 
possible to think of them as anything but portraits 
of the models whom Reynolds employed for his 
picture. 

Another method that modern artists have 



REYNOLDS 173 

sometimes adopted in painting sacred subjects, is 
to imitate the faulty drawing and incomplete 
representation of life which are present in the art 
of the Old Masters. But this conscious imitation 
of bygone ignorance beguiles no one who has once 
felt the charm of the painters before Raphael. 

Reynolds' great contemporary, Gainsborough, 
has been called 'a child of nature.' He would 
have liked to live in the country always and paint 
landscapes. He did paint many of his native 
Suffolk, but in his day landscapes were unsaleable, 
so he was driven to the town and to portrait paint- 
ing to make a living. Less than Reynolds a 
painter of character, Gainsborough reproduced the 
superficial expression of his sitters. But he had so 
natural an eye for grace and beauty, that his por- 
traits always please. He did not attempt Reynolds' 
wide range of subjects or the same difficulties of 
pose. Of Reynolds he said : ' How various he is,' 
but his admiration did not make him stray from 
his natural path to attempt the variety of another. 
Reynolds, equally admiring, said of him: * I cannot 
make out how he produces his effects.' Perhaps 
Gainsborough did not know either. He does seem 
to paint by instinct, and successive pictures became 



174 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

more pleasing. Buoyant in his life as in his art, 
his last words were : ' We are all going to Heaven, 
and Van Dyck is of the company.' 

Another great contemporary painter was 
Romney, whose portraits of ladies are delightful. 
Figured as nymphs too, they are so buoyant with 
bright expressions and wayward locks, that one 
wishes he had depicted in their faces a soul. 

All over England and Scotland portrait painters 
flourished at this time. There were so many 
English artists that in 1768 the Royal Academy 
was founded, with Sir Joshua Reynolds as its first 
president. It was to the students of the Royal 
Academy that he delivered his Discourses upon 
Art, setting forth the principles which he judged 
to be sound. He was an indefatigably hard worker 
until within two years of his death in 1792. 
All classes of men esteemed and regretted him, 
clouded though his intercourse with them had been 
by the deafness from which he suffered during the 
greater part of his life. 

Goldsmith, the author of the Vicar of Wake- 
field, wrote this character * epitaph ' for him ; 

Here Reynolds is laid, and to tell you my mind. 
He has not left a wiser or better behind. 



REYNOLDS 175 

His pencil was striking, resistless and grand ; 

His manners were gentle, complying and bland ; 

Still born to improve us in every part. 

His pencil our faces, his manners our heart. 

To coxcombs averse, yet most civilly steering 

When they judged without skill, he was still hard of 

hearing. 
When they talked of their Raphaels, Correggios and stuff. 
He shifted his trumpet and only took snuff. 
By flattery unspoiled . . . 

The end is missing, for while Goldsmith was 
versifying so feelingly about his friend, death over- 
took the writer, eighteen years before the subject 
of the epitaph. 



CHAPTER XIV 



TURNER 



I WONDER which of you, if seeing this picture for 
the first time, will realize that you are looking at 
the old familiar Thames ? It would seem rather 
to be some place unknown except in dreams, some 
phantasy of the human spirit that we ourselves 
could never hope to see. And yet, in fact, 
this is what Turner actually did see one even- 
ing as he was sailing down the Thames to 
Greenwich with a party of friends. Suddenly 
there loomed up before his eyes the great 
hull of the Temeraire^ famous in the fight 
against the fleet of Napoleon at Trafalgar, and so 
full of memories of glorious battle, that it was 
always spoken of by sailors as the Fighting Teme- 
raire. At last, its work over as a battleship, or even 
as a training-ship for cadets, dragged by a doughty 

176 





H S 




TURNER 177 

little steam-tug, it was headed for its last resting- 
place in the Thames, to be broken up for old 
timber. As the Temeraire hove in sight through 
the mist, a fellow-painter said to Turner : ' Ah, 
what a subject for a picture I ' and so indeed it 
proved. The veteran ship, for Turner, had a pathos 
like the passing of a veteran warrior to his grave. 

Turner loved the sea, and was very sensitive to 
its associations with the toils and triumphs of man- 
kind. Born beside the Thames, he grew up among 
boats and fraternized with sailors all his life. It 
was impossible for him to be the beholder of such 
a scene as the Temeraire s approach to her last 
moorings, save as a poet-painter ; and stirred to 
the putting forth of all his powers, this Fighting 
Temeraire is his surpassing poem. 

It was in 1775, while Reynolds was at the height 
of his fame, that Turner saw the light, born of 
obscure parents in an obscure house, but with a 
gift of vision that compelled him to the palette 
and the pencil his whole life long. Yet, when he 
was apprenticed to an architect to learn architec- 
tural drawing, he had to be dismissed after two 
periods of probation because of his absolute inability 
to learn the theory of perspective or even the 

23 



178 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

elements of geometry. But the time was not far 
off when he was to become in his turn Professor of 
Perspective at the Royal Academy. 

The popular distaste, or unborn taste, for land- 
scape, which had prevented Gainsborough from 
following his natural bent, was changing at last. 
The end of the eighteenth century saw the begin- 
ning of a return to nature in art as well as in 
poetry. Some artists in the eastern counties, older 
than Turner, were already spending their lives in 
the not too lucrative painting of landscape. These 
men took for their masters the seventeenth-century 
painters of Holland. Old Crome, so called to dis- 
tinguish him from his son, founded his art upon 
that of Hobbema, and came so close to him in his 
early years that it is difficult to distinguish their 
pictures. In the works of this ' Norwich School ' 
the wide horizons of the Dutch artists often 
occur. But there is a brighter colour, a fresher 
green, recalling England rather than Holland. 
Turner never felt the influence of the Dutch 
painters so strongly as these artists did. Like 
Gainsborough, and many another artist before him 
and since, Turner was to be dominated by the 
necessity of making a living. At the end of the 



TURNER 179 

century a demand arose for ' Topographical Collec- 
tions,' of views of places, selected and arranged 
according to their neighbourhood. These were 
not necessarily fine works of art, but they were 
required to be faithful records of places. Topo- 
graphical paintings, drawings, and prints took the 
place now filled by the photograph and the post- 
card. Turner found employment enough making 
water-colour sketches to be engraved for such 
topographical publications. But sketches that 
might be mere hack - work became under his 
fingers magically lovely. We may follow him 
to many a corner of England, Wales, and Scot- 
land, sketching architecture, mountain, moor, mists, 
and lakes. His earliest sketches are rather stiff 
and precise. But he developed with rapidity, and 
soon painted them in tones of blue and grey, so 
soft that the stars and the horizons merge into 
one lovely indefiniteness. Not till much later 
is there a touch of brighter colour in them such 
as fires the * Temeraiix,' but in all there is the 
same spirit of poetry. Turner longed to be a 
poet, although he could hardly write a correct 
sentence even in prose. But he was a poet in his 
outlook upon life ; he seldom painted a scene 



180 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

exactly as he saw it, but transfused it by an 
imaginative touch into what on rare occasions, 
with perfect conjuncture of mist and weather, it 
might possibly become. He gave extra height to 
church spires, or made precipices steeper than 
they were, thus to render the impression of the 
place more explicit than by strict copying of the 
facts. Yet he could be minutely accurate in his 
rendering of all effects of sky, cloud, and atmo- 
sphere when he chose. 

Other landscape painters have generally suc- 
ceeded best with some particular aspect of nature, 
and have confined themselves to that. Cuyp 
excelled in painting the golden haze of sunshine, 
and Constable in effects of storm and rain. But 
Turner attempted all. Sunset, sunrise, moonlight, 
morning, sea, storm, sunshine : the whole pageantry 
of the sky. He never made a repetition of the 
golden hazes of Cuyp, who in his particular field 
stands alone ; but it was a small field compared 
with that of Turner, who held the mirror up to 
Nature in her every mood. 

Later in life. Turner travelled in France, 
Germany, and Italy. In Venice his eyes were 
gladdened by the gorgeous colours above her 



TURNER 181 

lagoons. Henceforth he makes his pictures blaze 
with hues scarcely dared by painter before. But 
so great was his previous mastery of the paler 
shades, that a few touches of brilliant colour 
could set his whole canvas aflame. Even in 
the ' TemeraireJ the sunset occupies less than 
half the picture. The cold colours of night have 
already fallen on the ship, and there remains but 
a touch of red from the smoke of the tug. 

As Venice enriched his vision of colour, Rome 
stimulated him to paint new subjects suggested 
by ancient history and mythology. He knew 
little of Roman history or classical literature, yet 
enough to kindle his imagination ; witness his 
' Rise and Fall of the Carthaginian Empire ' in the 
National Gallery. In these the figures are of no 
importance. The pictures still are landscapes, but 
freed from the necessity of being like any particular 
place. In work such as this. Turner had but one 
predecessor, the French Claude Lorraine. While 
the Dutchmen of the seventeenth century were 
painting their own country beautifully, Claude 
was living in Rome, creating imaginary land- 
scapes. He called his pictures by the names 
of Scriptural incidents, and placed figures in 



182 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

the foreground as small and unessential as those 
of Turner. These classical landscapes, with their 
palaces and great flights of steps leading down to 
some river's edge, and the sea in the distance 
covered with boats carrying fantastic sails, never 
for a moment make the impression of reality. But 
they are beautiful compositions, designed to please 
the eye and stimulate the fancy, and are even 
attractive by virtue of their novel aloofness from 
the actual world. 

Turner set himself to rival Claude in his ideal 
landscapes, founded upon the stories of the ancient 
world. In his picture of * Dido building Carthage,' 
he painted imaginary palaces, rivers, and stately 
ships, in the same cool colouring as Claude, and 
bequeathed his picture to the National Gallery, 
on condition that it should hang for ever between 
two pictures by Claude to challenge their superiority. 
Opinions are divided as to the rank of Turner's 
* Carthage,' so when you go to the National 
Gallery, you must look at them both and prepare 
to form a preference. 

Turner was incited to this rivalry with Claude 
by the popularity that painter enjoyed among 
English collectors of the day, who were less eager 



TURNER 183 

to buy Turner's great oil-paintings than those of 
his predecessor. Incidentally this rivalry was the 
origin of the great series of etchings executed by 
or for him, known as The Book of Studies {Liber 
Studiorum), This book was suggested by Claude's 
Lihri di Verita, six volumes of his own drawings 
(of pictures he himself had painted and sold) made 
in order to identify his own, and detect spurious, 
productions. But Turner's book was designed to 
show his power in the whole range of landscape 
art. The drawings were carefully finished produc- 
tions, work by which he was willing to be judged, 
and many of them he etched with his own hands. 
His favourite haunts, the abbeys of Scotland and 
Yorkshire, the harbours of Kent, the mountains of 
Switzerland, the lochs of Scotland, and the River 
Wye, he chose as illustrating his best power over 
architecture, sea, mountain, and river. He re- 
peated several of the same subjects later in oils, 
such as the pearly hazy ' Norham Castle ' in the 
Tate Gallery. 

Turner painted still another kind of imaginary 
landscape, not in rivalry with any one, but to 
please himself. Of course you all know the 
story of Ulysses and the one-eyed giant, Poly- 



184 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

phemus, in the Odyssey of Homer ? Turner 
chose for his picture the moment when Ulysses 
has escaped from the clutches of Polyphemus, 
and sailing away in his boat, taunts the giant, 
who stands by the waters edge, cursing Ulysses 
and bemoaning the loss of his sight. Turner has 
used this mythical scene as an opportunity for 
creating stupendous rocks never seen by a pair of 
mortal eyes, and a galley worthy of heroes or gods. 
The picture is the purest phantasy, even more like 
a fairy-tale than the story it illustrates. He has 
made the whole scene burn in the red light of a 
flaming sunrise, redder by far than the sunset of 
the old ' Temeraire' 

The story is told of a gentleman who, looking 
at a picture of Turner's, said to him, *I never 
saw a sunset like that.' 'No, but don't you 
wish you could ? ' replied Turner. That is what 
we feel about the sunrise in the picture of 
Ulysses and Polyphemus. Next to it in the 
National Gallery hangs another picture called 
'Rain, Steam, and Speed' — the Great Western 
Railway. From the realm of the mythical, 
this takes us back to the class of scenes of 
which the 'Fighting Temeraire' is one, actually 



TURNER 185 

beheld by Turner, but magically transfigured by 
his brush. A train is coming towards us over a 
bridge, prosaic subject enough, especially in 1844, 
when railways were supposed to be ruining the 
aspect of the country and were hated by beauty- 
loving people. But Turner saw romance in the 
swift passage of a train, and painted a picture in 
which smoke and rain, cloud and sunset, river and 
bridge, boats and trees, are all fused in a mist, 
pearly and golden as well as smutty and grey. 
When you look at it, you must stand away and 
look long, till gradually the vision of Turner 
shapes itself before your eyes and the scene as 
he beheld it lives again for you. 

We saw how Venice opened his eyes to flaming 
colour. In his pictures of Venice, her magic beauty 
is revealed by a delicate sympathy, that re-creates 
the fairy city in her day of glory. Never tired of 
painting her in all her aspects, at morning, at even, 
in pomp, and at peace, a sight of his pictures is still 
the best substitute for a visit to the city itself. 

Other artists have interpreted scenery beauti- 
fully, and a few have painted ideal landscapes, but 
who besides Turner has ever united such diversi- 
ties of power ? He continued to paint water- 

24 



186 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

colour sketches to the end of his life, for these 
were appreciated by a public that did not under- 
stand, and neglected to buy, his oil-paintings. He 
sketched throughout France and Switzerland for 
various publications as he had sketched in England. 
Time has not damaged these drawings, as it has 
the pictures in oil, for to the end of his life Turner 
sometimes used bad materials. Even the sky of 
the ^Fighting Temeraire'' has faded considerably 
since it was painted, and others of his oil-pictures 
are mere shadows of their former selves. It is 
pathetic to look upon the wreck of work not a 
century old and to wonder how much of it will be 
preserved for future generations. 

Turner himself deemed the * Temeraire ' one of 
his best pictures, and from the beginning intended 
to bequeath it to the National Gallery, refusing to 
sell it for any price whatever. 

There's a far bell ringing, 
At the setting of the sun, 
And a phantom voice is singing 
Of the great days done. 
There's a far bell ringing, 
And a phantom voice is singing 
Of renown for ever clinging 
To the great days done. 



TURNER 187 



Now the sunset breezes shiver, 

Temeraire ! Temeraire ! 

And she's fading down the river, 

Temeraire ! Tevieraire ! 

Now the sunset breezes shiver. 

And she's fadmg down the river. 

But in England's song for ever 

She's the ' Fighting Temeraire.' ^ 



The Fighting Temeraire. Henry Newbolt. 



CHAPTER XV 

THE NINETEENTH CENTURY 

Since we began our voyagings together among 
the visionary worlds of the great painters, five 
hundred and thirty years ago, at the accession of 
King Richard II., we have journeyed far and wide, 
trudging from the rock where Cimabue found the 
boy Giotto drawing his sheep's likeness. The 
battleship of Turner has now brought us to the 
mid-nineteenth century, a time within the memories 
of living men, and still our journey is not ended. 

Hitherto we have been guided in our general 
preference for certain artists and certain pictures 
by the concurring opinion of the best judges of 
many successive generations. But while we are 
looking at modern paintings, we cannot say, as 
some one did, that in our opinion, 'which is the 
correct one,' such and such a picture is worthy to 

188 



THE NINETEENTH CENTURY 189 

rank with Titian. The taste of one age is not the 
taste of another. Who can surely pronounce the 
consensus of opinion to-day ? Who can guess if it 
will concur with that of future decades — of future 
centuries ? We can but hope that learning to see 
and enjoy the recognized masterpieces of the past 
will teach us what to like best among the master- 
pieces of the present. 

A great love of the Old Masters inspired the 
work of a group of young artists, who, about the 
year 1 850, banded themselves together into a society 
which they called the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. 
The title indicates their aim, which was to draw 
the inspiration of their art from the fifteenth- 
century painters of Italy. The sweetness of feel- 
ing in a picture such as Botticelli's * Nativity,' the 
delicacy of workmanship and beautiful painting of 
detail in Antonello's ' St. Jerome' and other pictures 
of that date, had an irresistible fascination for 
them. They fancied and felt that these artists 
had attained to the highest of which art was 
capable, so that the best could only again be 
produced by a faithful study of their methods. 
The aims of the Brotherhood were not imitation of 
the artists but of the methods of the past. They 



190 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

held that every painted object, and every painted 
figure should be as true as it could be made to 
the object as it actually existed, rather than to the 
effect produced upon the eye, seeing it in con- 
junction with other objects. 

These men heralded a widespread medieval 
revival, but all the study in the world could not 
make them paint like born artists of the fifteenth 
century. Yet there are those who think that much 
of the spirit of beauty, which had dwelt in the 
soul of Botticelli and his contemporaries, was born 
again in Rossetti and Burne-Jones. Their feeling 
for beauty of form and purity of colour, and their 
aloofness from the modern world, impart to their 
work an atmosphere that may remind us of the 
fifteenth century, though the fifteenth century 
could never have produced it. 

Rossetti and Burne-Jones, indeed, never form- 
ally joined the Brotherhood, though they were 
influenced by its ideals and pursued the same 
strict fidelity to nature in all the acces- 
sories of a picture. Millais and Holman Hunt, 
original members of the Brotherhood, painted 
men and women of the mid -Victorian epoch 
with every detail of their peaked bonnets 



THE NINETEENTH CENTURY 191 

and plaid shawls, and were comparatively in- 
different to beauty of form and face. But 
Rossetti and Burne-Jones created a type of ideal 
beauty which they employed on their canvases 
with persistent repetition. Burne-Jones founded 
his type upon the angels of Botticelli, and his 
drapery is like that of the ring of dancers in the 
sky in our picture of the 'Nativity.' You are 
probably familiar with some of his pictures and 
perhaps have felt the spell of his pure gem -like 
colouring and pale, haunting faces. It was the 
people of their minds' eye who sat beside their 
easels. Rossetti lived and worked in the romantic 
mood of a Giorgione, but instead of expressing the 
atmosphere of his fairy city of Venice, he created 
one as far as possible removed from his own mid- 
Victorian surroundings. His imaginary world was 
peopled by women with pale faces and luxuriant 
auburn hair, pondering upon the mysteries of the 
universe. Like Rossetti's * Blessed Damozel,' they 
look out from the gold bar of heaven with eyes 
from which the wonder is not yet gone. 

One of the best Pre-Raphaelite landscapes is 
the 'Strayed Sheep' of Holman Hunt. The sheep 
are wandering over a grass hillside of the vividest 



192 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

green, shot with spring flowers, and every sheep 
is painted with the detail of the central sheep 
in Hubert van Eyck's 'Adoration of the Lamb.' 
The colouring is almost as bright and jewel -like 
as that of the fifteenth-century painters, for one of 
the theories of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood 
was that grass should be painted as green as the 
single blade — not the colour of the whole field 
seen immersed in light and atmosphere, which can 
make green grass seem gray or even blue. 

In Brett's * Val d'Aosta,' another Pre-Baphaelite 
landscape, we look from a hill upon a great expanse 
of valley with mountains rising behind. Every 
field of corn and every grassy meadow is outlined 
as clearly as it would be upon a map. Every stick 
can be counted in the fences between the fields and 
every tree in the hedge-rows. When we look at 
the picture we involuntarily wander over the face 
of the country. There is no taking in the view at 
a glance ; we must walk through every field and 
along every path. 

After seeing these Pre-Raphaelite landscapes, 
let us imagine ourselves straightway turning to 
one of the numerous scenes by Whistler of the 
Thames at twilight, with its glimmering lights and 



THE NINETEENTH CENTURY 193 

ghostly shapes of bridges and hulks of steamers. 
Nothing is outlined, nothing is clearly defined, 
but the mystery of London's river is caught and 
pictured for ever. Let us look, too, at his 
* Valparaiso,' bathed in a brilliant South American 
sunshine, where all is pearly and radiant with 
southern light. Even here the impression is not 
given by the power of the sun revealing every 
detail. There are few touches, but like Velasquez, 
he has made every touch tell. 

As the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood kindled 
their inspiration by the vision of the fifteenth-cen- 
tury painters of Italy, so Whistler and many other 
modern artists have turned to Velasquez for guid- 
ance. Till the last half of the last century his 
name had been almost forgotten outside Spain. 
Now, among the modern ' impressionists ' so-called, 
he is perhaps more studied than any other painter. 
When we were looking at the pictures of this 
great man, we saw how he and Rembrandt were 
among the earliest to learn the value of subordinat- 
ing detail in the parts to the better general effect 
of the whole, so as to present no more than the 
eye could grasp in a comprehensive glance. Every 
tree and stick in Brett's ' Val d'Aosta ' is truthfully 

25 



194 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

painted, but the picture as a whole does not give 
the spectator the impression of truth, for the 
simple reason that the eye can never see at once 
what Brett has tried to make it see. All the 
wonderfully veracious detail in the work of the 
Pre-Raphaelite does not give the impression of 
life. Men like Holman Hunt, on the one hand, 
and on the other hand Whistler, living and work- 
ing at the same time, exhibiting their works in the 
same galleries, differ even more in their ideals 
than Velasquez differed from the fifteenth-century 
painters of Italy. 

Facts such as these make the study of modern 
art difficult. Before the nineteenth century, 
pictures of the same date in the same country 
were painted in approximately the same style. But 
during the last fifty years many styles have reigned 
together. At one and the same time painters 
have been inspired by the Greek and Roman 
sculptors, by Botticelli, Mantegna, Titian, Tin- 
toret, Velasquez, Rembrandt, Reynolds, and 
Turner, and the work of each is, notwithstanding, 
unmistakably nineteenth century, and could never 
have been produced at any other date. Every 
artist finds a problem of his own to solve, and 



THE NINETEENTH CENTURY 195 

attacks it in his own way. When Whistler 
painted a portrait he endeavoured to express 
character in the general aspect of the figure, rather 
than in the face. The picture of his mother is a 
wonderful expression of the sweetness and peace 
of old age, given by the severe lines of her black 
dress and the simplicity and nobility of her pose. 

The great painter Watts, who by the face 
chiefly sought to express the man, never painted a 
full-length figure portrait. His long life, covering 
nearly the whole of the century, enabled him to 
portray many of the foremost men of the age — 
statesmen, poets, musicians, and men of letters. 
In his portrait gallery their fine spirits still meet 
one another face to face. But his portraits, in and 
through likenesses of the men, are made to express 
the essence of that particular art of which the man 
was a spokesman. In his portrait of Tennyson, 
the bard with his laurel wreath is less Tennyson 
the man, if one may say so, than Tennyson the 
poet. The picture might be called 'poetry,' as 
that of Joachim could be called * music,' for the 
violinist with his dreamy beautiful face, playing his 
heart out, looks the soul of music's self. 

Watts was never a Pre-Raphaelite, clothing anew 

25 a 



196 THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 

his dreams of medieval beauty ; nor a seeker after the 
glories of Greece and Rome, like Leighton and Alma 
Tadema ; nor a student of the instant's impression, 
like Whistler. To penetrate beneath the seen to 
the unseen was the aim of his art. He wrestled 
to express thougKts in paint that seem inexpress- 
ible. When we go to the Tate Gallery in London, 
to the room filled with most precious works of 
Watts, we feel almost overawed by the loftiness 
of his ideas, though they may seem to strain the 
last resources of the painter's art. One of them is 
a picture of * Chaos' before the creation of the 
world. Half-formed men and women struggle 
from the earth to force themselves into life, as the 
half-wrought statues of Michelangelo from the 
marble that confines them. Near by is a picture 
of the 'All-pervading,' the spirit of good that 
penetrates the world, symbolized as a woman 
gazing long into a globe held upon her knee. 
Opposite is the 'Dweller in the Innermost,' with 
deep, unsearchable eyes. These are pictures that 
constrain thought rather than charm the eye. 
When the thought is less obscure, it is better 
suited to pictorial utterance, and Watts sometimes 
painted pictures as simple as these are difficult. 



THE NINETEENTH CENTURY 197 

There is nothing obscure in our frontispiece 
picture of ' Red Ridinghood.' It sets before us a 
child's version and vision of a child's fable that is im- 
perishable, and as such makes an immediate appeal 
to the eye. She is not acting a part or posing as a 
princess, but is simply a cowering little girl, 
frightened at the wolf and eager to protect her 
basket. In her freshness and simplicity, a cottage 
maiden with anxious blue eyes, most innocent and 
childish of children, she need not shun proximity to 
Richard II., Edward VI., William of Orange, Don 
Balthazar Carlos, and the Duke of Gloucester. 

And thus we conclude our procession of royal 
children with a child of the people. Beginning 
with Richard II., a portrait of a king rather than 
a child, we end with a picture in which childhood 
merely, without the gift of distinction or the 
glamour of royalty, suffices to charm a great 
painter's eye and inspire his thought. With the 
sweetness and grace of modern childhood filling 
our eyes, may we not well close this children's 
book ? 



INDEX 



' Adoration of the Lamb,' 56-51) 
Adoration of the Magi, treatment 

of, 33 
* Age of Innocence,' 171 
Alice in Wonderland, 2 
' All-pervading,' the, 19G 
Animals, painting of, 142 
Antonello of Messina, 67-69 
Art, definition of, 4 
Atmosphere, 10 

treatment of by Dutch School, 
139, 140 

by Holbein, 139 

by Velasquez, 156 

Beauneveu, Andre', of Valen- 
ciennes, 43 
Bellini, Giovanni, 98, 102 
Black Death, influence of, 41 
Botticelli, 70-77, 145 

influence of, on Burne-Jones, 
191 
Brett's ' Val d'Aosta,' 192 et seq. 
Burne- Jones, 190 et seq. 
Byzantium, influence of, 19 

Turkish conquest of, 20 

' Chaos,' 196 

Charles I. employs Rubens, 143 
employs Van Dyck, 147 



Charles I. painted by Velasquez, 
157 

Charles II., 131 

Charles V., King of France, 40 

Charles V., Emperor, 153 

Chillon, Castle of, 11 

Cliurches, medieval grandeur of, 
14 

Cimabue, Vasari's account of, 24 
picture in National Gallery, 25 
picture in Santa Maria Novella, 

25 
training of Giotto, 27 

Civilization, definition of, 9 

Claude Lorraine, 181-183 

Constable, 180 

Correggio, 91 

Crome, Old, 178 

Cuyp, 138-142, 180 

' Dido building Carthage,' 182 

Don Balthazar Carlos, 154 et seq., 
160 et seq. 

Douglas, Lady Alfred, 75 

Dragons, fear of, 12 

Duke of Gloucester, 170-171 

Durer, 106-107 

compared with Holbein, 113 

Dutch expansion in the seven- 
teenth century, 117 

* Dweller in the Innermost,' 196 



199 



200 



THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 



Edward the Confessor, story of, 32 
Edward Prince of Wales, 111-115 
Eighteenth century, artificiality 

of, 168 
Erasmus, 109-110 
portrait of, 114 
Etching, process of, 127 

Fighting Temeraire, 176 et seq. 
Francis of Assisi, life of, 17, 21 
Franciscans, foundation of the 

order of, 22 
' P'resco ' painting, 39 

Gainsborough, 173 et seq. 
Garden of Eden, 95 
Giorgione, 94-98, 140 
Giotto, 27, 28, 35, 50 
* Golden Age,' 95-98, 142 
Goldsmith, 174 
Greeks, influence of, 10, 65 

Henrietta Maria, 149 
Henry VHI., \m et seq. 

employs Holbein, 110 

portrait of, 114 
Hobbema, 141, 178 
Hogarth, 166 et seq. 
Holbein, 102-115, 139, 151 

'Erasmus' in collection of 
Charles I., 147 
Holman Hunt, 190, 191 
Home, Herbert P., 74 
Hubert van Eyck, 46 et seq., 140 
Hulin, Dr., 49 

11 Penseroso, 83 

Impressionism, beginning of, 162 

Infanta Marguerita, 161 et seq. 

James II., 149 
Jerusalem Chamber, 18 

view of, taken in 1486, 49 
Joachim, portrait of, 195 
John, Duke of Berry, 40, 42, 63 
John, King of J'rance, 40 



John van Eyck, 60 

compared with Diirer, 107 
Josse Vyt, 68 
Julius II. , Pope, 88 

' Knight's Dream,' 78, 82-86 

L' Allegro, 83 

Landscape painting, beginning of, 

60 
Lely, Sir Peter, 131 
Leonardo da Vinci, 80-81, 89-90, 

110 
compared with Diirer, 107 
' Les Meninas,' 162 
Liber Studiorum, 183 
Louis, Duke of Anjou, 40 
Luini, Bernardino, 90-91 

' Madonna of the Rocks,' 90 
* Man in Armour,' 126-127 
Mantegna, 69, 70, 102 

' Triumphs of Caesar,' 148 
Maria Theresa, 163 
Marie de Me'dicis, 143 
Mary Stuart, 149-150 
Medieval detail, 37 

coronation, solemnity of, 34 

guilds, 44 
Michelangelo, 80 

influence on Reynolds, 169, 172 

influence on Tintoret, 99 
Millais, 190 
Milton, 83 

More, Sir Thomas, 109, 110 
Mosque of Omar, 49 

Newbolt, Henry, 187 

' Night Watch,' Rembrandt's, 

123-124 
'Norham Castle,' 183 
' Norwich School,' 178 

' Pallas Athene,' 127 
Perspective, 66 



INDEX 



mL 



Perspective^ absence of, 55 
Hubert's improvement in, 56 
mastery of, in Renaissance, 67 

Perugino, 79 

Peter de Hoogb, 133-13G 

Philip IV., 154, 155 

Philip the Bold, 40, 41 

Philip the Good, 52 

Photographs and pictures, the 
difference between them, 4 

Portraiture, in the fifteenth cen- 
tury, growth of, 60 

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, 189 
et seq. 

' Rain^ Steam, and Speed,' 184 
Raphael, 78-89, 140 

cartoons, in collection of Charles 
I., 147 

comparison with Giorgione, 94, 
97 

influence on Velasquez, 159 
' Red Ridinghood,' 197 
Reformation, effect of on art, 

108 
Rembrandt, 118-132, 135 

'Anatomy,' 122, 157 

compared with Peter de Hoogh, 
134 

compared with Van Dyck, 151 

compared with Velasquez, 156 

landscapes of, 139 

Syndics, 130 
Revelations, 57, 74 
Revival of learning, 65 
Reynolds, 169-175 
Richard II., portrait of, 29 
et seq. 

diptych, 47, 50, 189, 197 

diptych in collection of Charles 
I., 147 
Roger van der Weyden, 61 
Rome, influence on Turner, 181 
Rossetti, 190 et seq. 
Royal Academy, 174 



Rubens, 138, 143-145 

friendship with Velasquez, 157 

on Charles I., 147 
Ruysdael, 141 

Santi, Giovanni, 79 

St. Catherine, Raphael's, 85 

burial of, 90 
St. Catherine of Siena, 17 
St. Edmund, 33 
St. Francis of Assisi, 17, 21 

preaching to the birds, 4, 23, 

60 
St. George slaying the dragon, 

100-102 
St. Jerome's cell, 6, 63-69 

lion of, 142 
St. Matthew, 46 
Saskia, 121, 122 e^ seq. 
Savonarola, 73-76 
Sistine Madonna, 85 
Spain, greatness of, in sixteenth 

century, 153 
Stained-glass windows, influence 

of in the fourteenth century, 

36 
Steen, Jan, 137, 167 
' Strayed Sheep,' 191 
' Surrender of Breda,' 159 

Tenniel, 2 

Tennyson, portrait of, 195 

Terborch, 137 

' Three Maries,' 46-59 

compared with Botticelli's 
'Nativity,' 77 

compared with Raphael's 
' Knight's Dream,' 85 

treatment of atmosphere in, 140 
Timoteo Viti, 82 
Tintoret, 99-102 

influence on Velasquez, 159 
Titian, 98, 99, 140, 159 
Turner, 176-187 

sunsets of, 9 



202 



THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART 



' Ulysses deriding Polyphemus,' 

184 
Umbrian landscape, beauty of, 79 

'Valparaiso/ 193 
Van Dyck, 145-152 

compared with Reynolds, 170 
et seq. 

comparison with Velasquez, Ifil 
Van Eyck's influence in Germany, 

105 
Vasari, 23, 25 
Velasquez, 153-164 

compared with Reynolds, 169 



Velasquez, influence of, 193 
Venice, influence on Turner, 180, 

185 
influence of on Venetian artists, 

93 et .seq. 
Veronese, 102 

Watts, 195-197 
Whistler, 192 et seq., 193 
AVilliam the Silent, 116, 146 
William II. of Orange, 146-152 
William III., 146 
Wood-cutting, process of, 127 
Wool industry, importance of, 41 



THE END 



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PEEPS AT ARCHITECTURE 

By PHCEBE ALLEN 

CONTAINING 8 FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR AND 
53 LINE DRAWINGS IN THE TEXT 

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"A very useful as well as interesting little book for the young student, 
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enriched with eight splendid coloured illustrations and over fifty line drawings 
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PEEPS AT HERALDRY 

By PHCEBE ALLEN 

CONTAINING 8 FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR AND 
6o LINE DRAWINGS IN THE TEXT 

Large Crown 8vo, Cloth. 



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The aim of this little work is to provide as comprehensive a " Peep" at 
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detail. As no term is used without a full explanation of its meaning and 
origin, it is hoped that by familiarizing the readers for whom it is intended 
with the language and grammar of Heraldry, as far as the scope of the 
present work allows, their interest in the subject may be sufficiently aroused 
to encourage them to pursue the study still further. 

Facts from history and stories associated with various armorial bearings 
have been freely introduced whenever the opportunity for so doing has 
occurred, and the volume is enriched with plentiful illustrations which greatly 
enhance its value. 

' ' With its richly coloured illustrations, this is a most fascinating little book. 
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on history, and will be of the greatest use to every intelligent young student 
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architecture. " — Aberdeen Free Press. 



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