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Famous Paintings 


Famous Paintings 

As Seen and Described 
by Famous Writers 




With Numerous Illustrations 





Copyright, igoa 
Bv DoDD, Mead & Company 




IN making a second collection of masterpieces of paint- 
ings that have given pleasure and afforded inspiration 
to many generations of mankind, I have endeavoured to 
represent several great painters who did not appear in my 
former volume, of virhich this is, in some measure, a con- 
tinuation. Crivelli, Luini, Giorgione, Moroni, Landseer, 
Mantegna and Perugino are among those who were left out 
of Great Pictures for lack of space. Even now, looking at 
the two volumes together, many favourite pictures will be 
missed ; but it must be remembered how impossible it is to 
include within the limits of two small books every work 
that justly holds a firm place in the affections of all who 
love and reverence great art. 

The pictures in this series are not only paintings with 
great reputations, but each one is a painting of the very 
first rank. Many of them have peculiar charms of origi- 
nality ; for instance, Carpaccio's Due Cortigiane Venezxane^ 
which Ruskin considers one of the best pictures in the 
world, is unique, and it is perhaps, one of the earliest 
paintings in which animals and human figures apparently 
receive the same enthusiastic attention from the artist. 
Crivelli's Annunciation,, conceived in the style of the paint- 
ings in the illuminated mediaeval MSS. is another work that 


delights the eye and mind; Luini's Columbine is an en- 
chantress, who, like da Vinci's Mono Lisa^ holds, by the 
power of her strange smile, all those who study her ; and 
Veronese's Rape of Europa belongs also to the list of works 
that captivate the fancy forever by means of their beauty, 
sumptuousness and subtle charm. 

A great proportion of the pictures in this book are por- 
traits, — and some of them, such as the Doge Loredano^ 
Charles /., Innocent X.^ Cardinal Richelieu^ La Bella and Mo- 
roni's Tailor^ are numbered among the most celebrated in the 
world ; there are, also, a great many others in this volume, 
like Veronese's exquisite Saint Helena^ Giorgione's Concert^ 
Hals's Banquet of the Arquehmiers^ Reynolds's ^«^^/f' Heads 
and Rembrandt's Syndics that are really portraits. Per- 
haps, too, we might include in this class Raphael's Ma- 
donnas, of which there are several. I need not apologize 
for selecting so many of these works which the whole 
world unites in placing among the greatest productions of 
any age or country. 

It will be interesting to the student to compare them 
with Murillo's, Correggio's, and Ribera's Holy Families. It 
will also be interesting to consider the different treatment 
that Raphael and Carpaccio give the ever popular legend 
of St. George and the Dragon. 

I have generally selected authors who are not only com- 
petent to speak with authority, but who describe interest- 
ingly, the pictures and the artists who made them. 

E. S. 
New York, June, 1903. 


The Holy Family, (The Pearl) . Raphael . . i 
F. A. Gruyer. 

Due Cortigiane Veneziane . . Carpaccio , . 9 

John Ruskin. 

The Annunciation . . . Crivelli . . 14 

Cosmo Monkhouse. 

The Concert .... Giorgione . . 20 
Walter Pater. 

St. George and the Dragon . Raphael . . 34 

F. A. Gruyer. 

The Holy Family . . . Murillo , . 41 

Henry Jouin. 

The Sun of Venice Going to Sea . Turner . . 47 

John Ruskin. 

The Columbine .... Luini . . 51 
Marcel Reymond. 

The Angel Musicians . . . Fa» Eyck . . 58 

J. A. Crowe and G. B. Cavalcaselle. 

La Belle Jardiniere . . . Raphael . . 68 

F. A. Gruyer. 

Innocent X. .... Velasquez. . . 75 

Henry Jouin. 

Banquet of ARguEBUsiERs . . F. Hals . . 83 

Henry Havard. 



The Slave Ship 


John Ruskin. 

The Madonna della Sedia . . Raphael 
F. A. Gruyer. 

Portrait of Charles I. . . Van Dyck 

Jules Guiffrey. 

The Presentation in the Temple . Titian 

J. A. Crowe and G. B. Cavalcaselle, 

Proserpine ..... Rossetti 
F. G. Stephens. 

The Old Shepherd's Chief Mourner Landseer 
John Ruskin. 

The Virgin of the Fish . . Raphael 

Mrs. Siddons 
The Nativity 

F. A. Gruyer. 

Henry Jouin. 


Botticelli . 

Cosmo Monkhouse. 

St. George and the Dragon . Carpaccio . 

James Reddie Anderson. 

Portrait of a Tailor . . . Moroni 

I. Cosmo Monkhouse. 
II. R. N. Wornum. 

The English Ambassadors . . Carpaccio . 

John Ruskin. 

The Madonna of the Diadem . Raphael 

F. A. Gruyer. 

Portrait of an Old Woman . Rembrandt . 

Emile Michel. 

The Rape of Europa . . . Veronese 

S. A. RiTMAN. 

. 90 

. 112 

. 118 

. 130 

• 13+ 
. 150 

. 162 
. 183 

. 187 

. 203 


. 217 


The Light of the World . . Hunt . .224 

John Ruskin. 

St. Anne . . . . . L. da Vinci . zzy 
F. A. Gruyer. 

Tobias and the Angel Raphael . Perugino . . 234 

Paul Lafond. 

Ecce Ancilla Domine . . . Rossetti . .241 
I. John Ruskin. 
II. William Sharp. 

Cardinal Richelieu . . . P. de Champaigne 247 

Gustave Larroumet. 

The Madonna di Foligno . . Raphael . .253 

F. A. Gruyer. 

Las Meninas .... Velasquez . . 269 

Carl Justi. 

The Syndics .... Rembrandt . 282 

Emile Michel. 

The Age of Innocence . . . Reynolds . . 290 
I. F. G. Stephens. 
II. Anonymous. 
Beautiful Women . . . Titian 

J. A. Crowe and G. B. Cavalcaselle. 

The Crucifixion of Christ . . Rubens 

Sir Joshua Reynolds. 
Parnassus ..... Mantegna . 
Jules Guiffrey. 

La Notte ..... Correggio . 

TnfiopiLE Gautier. 

CEdipus ..... Ingres 

Charles Blanc. 

The Annunciation . . . Fra Lippo Lippi 

Cosmo Monkhouse. 






The Cardinal-Prince Ferdinand . Velasquez. 
Carl Justi. 

The Madonna of the Baldaquin . Raphael 

F. A. Gruyer. 

Saint Helena .... Veronese 

J. BuiSSON. 

The Adoration of the Shepherds . Ribera 

Toussaint Bernard Em£ric-David. 

The Doge Loredano . . . Bellini 
Charles Yriarte. 

Angels* Heads 

Paul Mantz. 




Raphael The Holy Family Madrid 

(The Pearl.) 

Facing page 

Carpaccio . 
Crivelli . , 


Raphael . . 


Turner . . 

LUINI . , . 
Van Eyck . 
Raphael , 
Velasquez . 
Frans Hals 
Turner . . 
Van Dyck . 
Titian . . . 
Rossetti . , 
Landseer . 

Raphael . 
Botticelli . 
Carpaccio , 
Moroni . 
Carpaccio , 
Raphael , 
Veronese . 
Hunt . . 
L. DA Vinci 

Due Cortigiane Veneziane . . Venice , 
. The Annunciation London 

The Concert Florence 

. St. George and the Dragon . . Paris . 

The Holy Family Paris . 

The Sun of Venice Going to Sea, London 
. The Columbine Sf. Petersburg 

The Angel Musicians Berlin . 

, La Belle Jardinidre Paris . 

. Innocent X Rome . 

. Banquet of Arquebusiers . , . Haarlem 

The Slave Ship Boston . 

• The Madonna della Sedia . . Florence 

. Portrait of Charles I Paris . 

. Presentation in the Temple . . Venice . 

, Proserpine London , 

. The Old Shepherd's Chief 

Mourner London 

. The Virgin of the Fish , . . Madrid 

. Mrs. Siddons London 

. The Nativity London 

. St. George and the Dragon . . Venice . 

. Portrait of a Tailor London 

. The English Ambassadors . . Venice . 
. The Madonna of the Diadem . Paris . 
. Portrait of an Old Woman . . St. Petersburg 

. Rape of Europa Venice , 

. The Light of the World . . . Oxford . 

. St. Anne Paris 

. Tobias and the Angel Raphael . London 





, 227 









Titian . 

Rubens . 




Fra Lippo Lippi 




Ribera . 

Bellini . 

Ecce Ancilla Domine .... London 

Cardinal Richelieu Paris 

Madonna di Foligno Rome 

Las Meninas Madrid 

The Syndics Amsterdam 

The Age of Innocence .... London 

La Bella Florence 

The Crucifixion Antwerp 

Parnassus Paris . 

La Notte Paris . 

CEdipus Paris . 

The Annunciation London 

The Cardinal-Prince|Ferdinand, Madrid 
The Madonna of the Baldaquin, Florence 

Saint Helena London 

The Adoration of the 

Shepherds Paris . 

. The Doge Loredano London 

. Angels' Heads London 








THE history of art had taught us that the palace of the 
King of Spain contained several pictures by Raphael 
long before events made us acquainted with them. But, 
outside the dominions of His Catholic Majesty, it was diffi- 
cult for one to form an exact idea of the merits of this 
precious collection. Vasari, who mentions the Madonna 
known as the Fish^ and the Bearing of the Cross^ takes no 
notice either of the Fisitation^ or of the Holy Family known 
as the Pearl, The displacement of the five pictures of 
which France was the depository for some time helped to 
bring them into great renown. Taken to Paris in the year 
1813, towards the close of the war, they were there 
received with the admiration and welcome due to their rare 
beauty : we might almost say that there they became the 
objects of a universal worship. 

Restorations recognized as indispensable and carried out 
with the greatest possible care have done away with the 
slightest trace of the changes that Time had wrought : and, 
according to the expression of the reputable judges who 
were entrusted with the task of examining these pictures 
before and after the work, these restorations have assured a 


new life for them. Finally, the lines are now reproduced 
by faithful engravers ; and by this means the friends of art 
in all countries may join France and Spain in just homage. 

One of these five pictures appears to have been finished 
by Giulio Romano. The authenticity of the others cannot 
be contested. On this point, testimony of every kind 
would contribute to the assistance of criticism, if the hand 
of the printer here were to be denied. They all date from 
the period when, enlightened by study of the antique and 
excited by Michael Angelo's success, Raphael added to the 
grace and truth that were natural to him, the grandiose 
rendering of art by his learned rival, and caused us to 
admire the style known as his third manner. 

There is no quality fit to honour this great painter that 
is not manifested in these masterpieces in a very eminent 
degree ; and there is not one of the chief rules of art that 
cannot be admired here in its happiest application. If we 
direct our attention to the choice of forms, we recognize in 
them the invariable principles of Raphael's style in that 
love of truth that only aspires to please us by touching our 
emotions ; that noble, purified and delicate taste that gives 
equal dignity and grace to everything; that sure tact, that 
appropriates with such perfect propriety the external appear- 
ance of the personages to their rank and moral character, as 
well as to the part they play in the pictorial drama. If we 
study more minutely the relief of the bodies, we find in 
them those learned traits, those graceful contours and those 
forms at once so precise and soft that constitute all the 
works of this great master such excellent models for 


Studies. The very truth and richness of the colour, the 
spirit of the touch, and the diversity of the handling have 
almost as much right to our admiration as the beauty of 
the types and the correctness of the drawing. In a word, 
in every part of the work, we recognize the privileged 
being, the sublime painter to whom no kind of perfection 
was foreign so soon as he desired to attain it. 

But in these beautiful works, as in all those by Raphael, 
what most strongly charms the mind, what moves, pene- 
trates, transports and carries away all hearts is that multi- 
tude of elevated or simple ideas, vehement or more 
frequently tender and sweet affections, which while multi- 
plying themselves in the same picture, and sometimes while 
combining in the expression of the features of the same 
personage, impress upon us the idea of a superhuman and 
veritably divine nature. 

Anciently owned by the dukes of Mantua, the Holy 
Family^ known as the Pearly was included in the numerous 
collection of pictures that the unfortunate Charles I., King 
of England, at the beginning of his reign purchased from 
Charles I. of Gonzaga, who soon afterwards was driven 
from his dominions. On the death of the King of Eng- 
land, ■ Philip IV., King of Spain, a no less enlightened 

' In 1649, after the death of that unfortunate prince, Don Alonzo de 
Cardenas, Spanish ambassador to Cromwell, bought a large number of 
pictures from the gallery in Whitehall for Philip IV. The Pearl was 
among the number. De los Santos asserts that " a great sum " was paid 
and that Philip IV. immediately had it placed in the sacristy of the 
Escurial, where it always remained. Antonio Conca says that nearly 
;^3,ooo sterling was paid for it. 


amateur and himself a painter, caused it to be purchased 
with other pictures at the sale of the possessions of that 

We are told that when he first saw it, struck with its 
beauty Philip cried : " That is my pearl ! " Thence comes 
that name that has been handed down to us, and which 
while serving to designate a precious monument of art, has 
become its most worthy eulogy. 

The phrase by which Philip expressed the impression 
produced upon him by this smiling picture does indeed give 
a just idea of the kind of merit that characterizes it and the 
perfection that distinguishes it. Among all Raphael's 
works, there is nothing more finished nor more pure. In it 
we see united all the truth, spirit and delicacy that the 
brush of this master could express. 

The scene is entirely gracious in manner. The little 
St. John, lifting with both hands the shaggy skin that serves 
as his vestment, is presenting some fruit to the Infant Jesus 
in the kind of basket thus formed. About to take it, Jesus, 
sitting on his mother's knees, turns round towards her, 
smiling as if to communicate his joy to her. Mary is sup- 
porting him with her right hand, while her left reaches out 
and rests upon St. Anne's shoulder, while at the same time 
she is looking affectionately at the Forerunner. Anne, on 
her knees, with one elbow leaning on her daughter's left 
thigh, gives herself up to meditation as she watches the two 
children. The cradle stands in front of the Virgin who 
rests one foot on each side of it. In this interwoven 
group, Mary, closely united with all she holds most dear, 


at the same time expresses her tenderness towards her son, 
her mother, and her cousin's son. An ingenious, pictur- 
esque mechanism has thus become a medium of expression 
that is so much the more touching in that it appears to be 
taken direct from nature. Beautiful, gentle and modest, 
the Virgin already belongs as much to Heaven as to earth. 
The varied feelings with which she is animated are im- 
pressed upon her modest face without any confusion. She 
loves St. John ; but her affection is not that of a mother ; 
ideas of superiority and protection mingle with her tender- 
ness : whilst holding her son with tender solicitude, she 
seems to say to the Forerunner: "You are not his 
equal ! " 

The character which Raphael has generally given to the 
Infant Jesus is one of the most poetic conceptions of this 
great master. The type is that of an infant Hercules. The 
extremities, however, are more delicate and the contours 
are finer. In the movements as well as in the features of 
this extraordinary being, we see a superabundance of power 
accompanied by an inexpressible grace. Such is the Divine 
Infant in this picture, and his joy seems to add still more to 
his beauty. I am not ignorant of the fact that a writer 
who has published a very detailed description of the five 
pictures by Raphael that belong to the King of Spain, has 
regarding this one expressed an opinion entirely contrary to 
that which I have adopted. According to him, St. John 
is presenting to the Infant Jesus a chestnut in its burr; 
Jesus has pricked himself with it ; and this prick, by awa- 
kening the presentiment of the sufferings on the cross, has 


cast sadness over the Holy Family. It is impossible for me 
not to remove such a serious error, for the reader otherwise 
would have the right to suppose that I was the one to be 
mistaken. What the writer to whom I refer has taken for 
the spiky covering of a chestnut is nothing more than a 
corner of the camel skin that forms the vestment of St. 
John the Baptist. To raise this sort of tunic, St. John 
takes it in both hands and one part protrudes between the 
thumb and index finger of his right hand. It is this piece 
held between the two fingers which, by its brown tint and 
the hair with which it is covered, presents the appearance 
of a chestnut ; but a very slight examination will suffice to 
recognize the real facts. Although the painters have often 
associated the idea of the death of Jesus Christ with the 
image of the Holy Family, we must not attribute this idea 
to them unless it is presented in a very visible manner, since 
it is opposed to the text of the sacred books, wherein it is 
never said that the parents of Jesus Christ had any antici- 
pated knowledge of his Passion. In the picture of La belle 
Jardiniere^ we see the little St. John holding a cross made 
of reeds : we must suppose that this instrument was only 
made in childish play. This emblem, although interesting 
to us, has no significance in the eyes of the Virgin. If the 
sight of the cross were to seem to afflict her, then the artist's 
intention would be at variance with Holy Writ. I do not 
think that Raphael ever fell into this error. Like De la 
Puente, De los Santos saw nothing in this picture beyond a 
joyous subject. 

The care that Raphael took to endow his design with all 


the grandeur and his expression of it with all the energy of 
the idea which he had conceived is manifested in several 
changes which our eyes are surprised to notice, but which 
they nevertheless follow with greedy curiosity, charmed to 
discover to some degree the secret of the method of the 
painter's talent. The head was originally in profile ; it had 
been set three quarters full. The hair has been raised 
above the left temple. It is easy to see that the face has 
gained in beauty by these alterations. Second thoughts are 
also to be seen in the Virgin's left hand, and the left thigh 
of the Infant Jesus. 

Notwithstanding the choice lines in St. John's form, he 
is yet far below the Saviour in beauty. The difference 
that distinguishes these two children is the same as in every 
Holy Family by Raphael : one of the two always appears as 
the son of a man and the other as a god. 

The Virgin's costume exhibits the elegant simplicity that 
Raphael never forgets. The tresses of her hair and the veil 
that falls from her head in waves are adjusted with as much 
grace as dignity. 

The colouring, although slightly darkened by time, still 
preserves a ravishing vigour, skill and harmony. There are 
parts in it that the Venetian schools could never have sur- 
passed. The flesh tints of the Infant Jesus are as brilliant 
as the outlines of his figure are pure, and the movements 
lively and graceful. The delicacy of the brush here is al- 
most prodigious ; and this in a master the elevation of whose 
ideas so often distracted him from the minute cares of exe- 
cution. Amid the strongest shadows, all the relief of na- 


ture forces our admiration. The landscape, adorned with 
figures, charms the eye with the precision of its details and 
the transparency of its distances ; and in the depths of the 
ruined edifice, where St. Joseph is visible, a soft and silvery 
light plays. 

A masterpiece of taste, this picture contains all the kinds 
of perfection proper to the subject; and the most severe 
criticism would find difficulty in discovering any negligences 
in it. The composition, the design, the expression and the 
colour present an almost perfect merit in every part. 


( Carpaccio) 


TO Carpaccio, whatever he has to represent must be a 
reality ; whether a symbol or not, afterwards, is "no 
matter, the first condition is that it shall be real. A ser- 
pent, or a bird, may perhaps mean iniquity or purity ; but 
primarily, they must have real scales and feathers. But 
with Luini, everything is primarily an idea, and only realized 
so far as to enable you to understand what is meant. When 
St. Stephen stands beside Christ at His scourging, and turns 
to us who look on, asking with unmistakable passion, 
*' Was ever sorrow like this sorrow ? " Luini does not 
mean that St. Stephen really stood there ; but only that the 
thought of the saint who first saw Christ in glory might 
best lead us to the thought of Christ in pain. But when 
Carpaccio paints St. Stephen preaching, he means to make 
us believe that St. Stephen really did preach, and as far as 
he can, to show us exactly how he did it. 

And, lastly, to return to the point at which we left him. 
His own notion of the way things happened may be a very 
curious one, and the more so that it cannot be regulated 
even by himself, but is the result of the singular power he 
has of seeing things in vision as if they were real. So that 


when, as we have seen, he paints Solomon and the Queen 
of Sheba standing at opposite ends of a wooden bridge over 
a ditch, we are not to suppose the two persons are less real 
to him on that account, though absurd to us ; but we are 
to understand that such a vision of them did indeed appear 
to the boy who had passed all his dawning life among 
wooden bridges, over ditches ; and had the habit besides of 
spiritualizing, or reading like a vision, whatever he saw with 
eyes either of the body or mind. 

The delight which he had in this faculty of vision, and 
the industry with which he cultivated it, can only be justly 
estimated by close examination of the marvellous picture in 
the Correr Museum, representing two Venetian ladies with 
their pets. 

In the last general statement I have made of the rank of 
painters, I named two pictures of John Bellini, the Ma- 
donna of San Zaccaria, and that in the sacristy of the 
Frari, as, so far as my knowledge went, the two best pic- 
tures in the world. In that estimate of them I of course 
considered as one chief element, their solemnity of purpose 
— as another, their unpretending simplicity. Putting aside 
these higher conditions and looking only to perfection of 
execution and essentially artistic power of design, I rank 
this Carpaccio above either of them, and therefore, as in 
these respects, the best picture in the world. I know no 
other which unites every nameable quality of painter's art 
in so intense a degree — breadth with minuteness, brilliancy 
with quietness, decision with tenderness, colour with light 
and shade : all that is faithfullest in Holland, fancifullest in 

dup: couti<;iam^ vi;nkziane. 



Venice, severest in Florence, naturalest in England. What- 
ever de Hooghe could do in shade. Van Eyck in detail — 
Giorgione in mass — Titian in colour — Berwick and Land- 
seer in animal life, is here at once ; and I know no other 
picture in the world which can be compared to it. 

It is in tempera, however, not oil : and I must note in 
passing that many of the qualities which I have been in the 
habit of praising in Tintoret and Carpaccio, as consummate 
achievements in oil-painting, are, as I have found lately, 
either in tempera altogether, or tempera with oil above. 
And I am disposed to think that ultimately tempera will be 
found the proper material for the greater number of most 
delightful subjects. 

The subject, in the present instance, is a simple study of 
animal life in all its phases. I am quite sure that this is the 
meaning of the picture in Carpaccio's own mind. I sup- 
pose him to have been commissioned to paint the portraits 
of two Venetian ladies — that he did not altogether like his 
models, but yet felt himself bound to do his best for them, 
and contrived to do what perfectly satisfied them and him- 
self too. He has painted their pretty faces and pretty 
shoulders, their pretty dresses and pretty jewels, their pretty 
ways and their pretty playmates — and what would they 
have more ? — he himself secretly laughing at them all the 
time, and intending the spectators of the future to laugh 
for ever. 

It may be, however, that I err in supposing the picture a 
portrait commission. It may be simply a study for practice, 
gathering together every kind of thing which he could get 


to sit to him quietly, persuading the pretty ladies to sit to 
him in all their finery, and to keep their pets quiet as long 
as they could, while yet he gave value to this new group of 
studies in a certain unity of satire against the vices of 
society in his time. 

Of this satirical purpose there cannot be question for a 
moment, with any one who knows the general tone of the 
painter's mind, and the traditions among which he had been 
educated. In all the didactic painting of mediaeval Chris- 
tianity, the faultful luxury of the upper classes was symbol- 
ized by the knight with his falcon, and lady with her pet 
dog, both in splendid dress. This picture is only the 
elaboration of the well-recognized symbol of the lady with 
her pets ; but there are two ladies — mother and daughter, I 
think — and six pets, a big dog, a little dog, a parroquet, a 
peahen, a little boy and a china vase. The younger of the 
women sits serene in her pride, her erect head pale against 
the dark sky — the elder is playing with the two dogs ; the 
least, a white terrier, she is teaching to beg, holding him up 
by his fore-paws, with her left hand ; in her right is a 
slender riding-whip, which the larger dog has the end of 
in his mouth, and will not let go — his mistress also having 
dropped a letter, ' he puts his paw oh that and will not let 
her pick it up, looking out of gentlest eyes in arch watch- 
fulness to see how far it will please her that he should carry 
the jest. Behind him the green parroquet, red-eyed, lifts its 
little claw as if disliking the marble pavement ; then be- 
hind the marble balustrade with gilded capitals, the bird and 
' The painter's signature is on the supposed letter. 


little boy are inlaid with glowing brown and red. Nothing 
of Hunt or Turner can surpass the plume-painting of the 
bird ; nor can Holbein surpass the precision, while he can- 
not equal the radiance, of the porcelain and jewelry. 

To mark the satirical purpose of the whole, a pair of 
ladies' shoes are put in the corner, (the high-stilted shoe, 
being, in fact, a slipper on the top of a column,) which 
were the grossest and absurdest means of expressing female 
pride in the Fifteenth and following centuries. 

In this picture, then, you may discern at once how Car- 
paccio learned his business as a painter, and to what con- 
summate point he learned it. 




CARLO CRIVELLI is another Venetian artist of 
whom we know little but what can be gathered 
from pictures. He is supposed to have been born about 
1430, and his dated works range from 1468 to 1493. ^^ 
was a Venetian by birth, and from his mode it would ap- 
pear certain that he studied under Squarcione at Padua, 
and probably also under the Vivarini at Venice. But he per- 
fected a style, and one marked by so many peculiarities that 
despite all affinities which may be traced with other masters, 
he stands out clear and distinct by himself. 

In the first place, he is unique as a colourist. He be- 
longs, indeed, to the old mosaic and illumination school of 
colour, not to the school of great " schemes," in which the 
masses are blent into one great harmony. The masses or 
patches of colour are isolated, and produce a pleasant 
variegation, without fusion. His colour is thin, also, as of 
a superficial tinting, not affecting the substance. His flesh 
is hard and opaque, his flowers leathery, his fruit, though 
finely drawn and beautifully coloured, of a stony texture ; 
and his draperies everything but soft. It is only in hard, 
gmooth tl)ings like pottery and glass, as in The Madonna in 



Ecstasy^ or of brick and marble, as in The Jnnuncialion, 
that you get the true consistency as well as the true colour. 
Yet his colour is exquisite of its kind, brilliant and trans- 
parent like enamel, and the different tints in themselves are 
lovely and varied. Such reds and greens, and lilacs and 
salmon-pinks, and a hundred other combinations of the pri- 
maries, are scarcely to be matched in the work of any other 
artist. Nor has any one been more skilful in the use of 
gold in connection with colour. Like Antonio Vivarini 
and Pisanello, he used it in relief, even decorating it with 
real stones, as we see in the keys, the mitre, and the or- 
phreys of S. Peter, and the ornaments of S. Catherine. 
This was a remnant of Byzantine practice, and in unskilful 
hands has an unreal effect j but Crivelli's modelling was so 
forcible and his colour so carefully adapted, that the passage 
from paint to relief is scarcely perceptible. 

There is scarcely need to call attention to Crivelli's 
special gift as a designer of decoration. Almost every 
square inch of his canvas attests the inexhaustible richness 
of his invention — an invention fed, no doubt, from the rich 
products of Oriental looms, of which Venice was the 
emporium. The patterns of his stuffs and dresses in the 
eight pictures in the National Gallery, are almost enough 
to set up a modern designer for life; and his sculpturesque 
ornamental reliefs are extraordinary for elegance, spirit, and 
audacity. See, for example, his treatment of elephants' 
heads and trunks in The Madonna in Ecstasy (No. 906), 
and of dolphins in the great altar-piece (No. 788), and the 
boldness with which he has used the crown of a cherub's 


head as a decorative feature on the base of the throne of 
the same picture. It is to be remarked that the beautiful 
festoons which decorate the base, though adjusted to 
resemble carved ornament, are meant for real fruit. They 
are tied with string and fastened with nails. Such ingen- 
ious and abundant fancies, if they do not make the greatest 
art, are full of interest and charm, and render the work of 
Crivelli fascinating in no usual degree, if only for its 
decorative detail. 

A higher order of invention is seen in the design of the 
various mises en scene, in which his figures are set. Oc- 
casionally, as in The Beato Ferretti (No. 668), we have a 
landscape, but by far the most beautiful at the National 
Gallery — probably the most beautiful that he ever painted 
— is that of The Annunciation (No. 739), in which he shows 
the inside of the Virgin's Chamber, the outside of her mag- 
nificent house, and a street scene at once realistic and 
romantic. Although, perhaps. The Annunciation is ex- 
ceeded by The Madonna, etc., (No. 724), in brilliant purity 
of colour, and some of his single figures have more intensity 
of character, his genius is perhaps more completely repre- 
sented in this picture than in any other. Here, for once, 
his lively fancy has had its fullest play, and revels in a 
gorgeousness and elaboration of detail even beyond his 
wont. Fortunately for him, his imagination was not tram- 
melled, like that of artists of the present day, by questions 
of historical accuracy or physical possibilities. To him the 
presence of S. Emidius by the side of the announcing angel 
suggested no absurdity, and it never occurred to him that 


the neatly finished orifice through which the Holy Dove 
has entered the Virgin's chamber would present any diffi- 
culty to the most realistic mind. 

Here, for once, also he gives us not only the incident, 
but introduces spectators, as was the custom of the Floren- 
tine School of the same period. Besides the frankly 
anachronistic bishop, there are several figures in the street 
dressed in the Italian costume of Crivelli's time. One 
noble-looking gentleman, dazzled by the sudden beam of 
light that strikes across the road, raises his hand to his 
brow, the better to investigate the extraordinary phenome- 
non. Still more naive and delightful is the little child who 
timidly peeps from a place of vantage at the mysterious 
occurrence that is taking place over the way. 

Thus we have the whole scene idyllically, even dramat- 
ically, rendered, as though we were present at an exquis- 
itely mounted play. Although in many respects the work 
of Crivelli, by the strained formality of the figures, the 
system of colouration, and the profuse use of gold, still bear 
traces of remote influences, they seldom fail to remind us 
that we are past the middle of the Fifteenth Century, that 
the difficulties of anatomy and perspective have been 
mastered, that a lively interest in nature and human nature 
has sprung up, that technical excellence and artistic beauty 
are sought for their sakes — in a word, that Crivelli was the 
contemporary of Botticelli, Ghirlandajo, and Mantegna. 

Crivelli wrought only for the Church, and appears to 
have spent most of his life at Ascoli, but neither restriction 
of subject and feeling, nor provincial residence, could fetter 


his genius. There is, indeed, no artist of more striking 
individuality than Carlo Crivelli, no one who had more 
complete mastery over his means of expression, or attained 
more nearly to his ideal. This ideal was not the " beau- 
ideal " of later art — that is to say, the perfection of physical 
beauty — it was an ideal of character, the embodiment of 
the essential qualities of his subject. When beauty was 
essential, as in the Virgin Mary, or the royal martyr, S. 
Catherine of Alexandria, it was sought, but only as one out 
of many attributes. When not essential, as in S. John the 
Baptist or S. Peter, the artist's whole imagination was 
devoted to the creation of a form which should be the exact 
expression of the spirit within. In this aim he was not 
indeed original, but he achieved it with singular fervour 
and completeness. In some of his conceptions, as, for 
instance, in those of S. John Baptist and S. Catherine, his 
imagination indulges in the extravagant and touches the 
grotesque. A refined fantasticism characterizes his work 
generally, but it is always not only refined but coherent. 
It may be said that S. Catherine's fingers are preternaturally 
long, her demeanour aff^ected, her expression a grimace ; 
but if we say this, we must also say that the whole figure, 
hands and all, is a complete and most dainty conception, 
and that there is not a degraded line or a vulgar touch 

I have dwelt so long upon Crivelli, not because he is 
comparable to the greatest artists as a mover of grand 
emotions, or as a master of the noblest form or colour, but 
because his really remarkable gifts are apt to be unduly 


neglected in comparison with more transcendent powers, 
and because the National Gallery is the best place in the 
world to study his rare individuality — I may add also, on 
account of the engaging personality which seems to breathe 
through his work. Such sentimental impressions are no 
doubt often rudely shaken by closer knowledge, but they 
are pleasant to indulge, and one cannot help regarding 
Crivelli as a man of knowledge and intellect, of charming 
manners, refined almost to fastidiousness, delighting in all 
things dainty and beautiful, a lover of animals and of his 
kind. If he did not love animals, at least he loved to in- 
troduce them into his pictures. See the peacock and the 
smaller bird in The Annunciation, the Swallow in No. 724, 
and, not least, the ducks in the Beato Ferretti. 

There are, of course, greater painters and greater men 
on the roll of artists, but few who have more marked and 
more varied gifts ; many who impress more, but few who 
amuse so much ; many of wider range, but few so com- 
plete in themselves. 





BY no school of painters have the necessary limitations 
of the art of painting been so unerringly though in- 
stinctively apprehended, and the essence of what is pictorial 
in a picture so justly conceived, as by the school of Venice; 
and the train of thought suggested in what has been now 
said is, perhaps, a not unfitting introduction to a few pages 
about Giorgione, who, though much has been taken by 
recent criticism from what was reputed to be his work, yet, 
more entirely than any other painter, sums up, in what we 
know of himself and his art, the spirit of the Venetian 

The beginnings of Venetian painting link themselves to 
the last, stiff, half-barbaric splendours of Byzantine decora- 
tion and are but the introduction into the crust of marble 
and gold on the walls of the Duomo of Murano, or of Saint 
Mark's, of a little more of human expression. And 
throughout the course of its later development, always sub- 
ordinate to architectural effect, the work of the Venetian 
school never escaped from the influence of its beginnings. 
Unassisted, and therefore unperplexed, by naturalism, relig- 


ious mysticism, philosophical theories, it had no Giotto, no 
Angelico, no Botticelli. Exempt from the stress of thought 
or sentiment, which taxed so severely the resources of the 
generations of Florentine artists, those earlier Venetian 
painters, down to Carpaccio and the Bellini, seem never for 
a moment to have been tempted even to lose sight of the 
scope of their art in its strictness, or to forget that painting 
must be before all things decorative, a thing for the eye, a 
space of colour on the wall, only more dexterously blent 
than the marking of its precious stone or the chance inter- 
change of sun and shade upon it — this, to begin and end 
with — whatever higher matter of thought, or poetry, or 
religious reverie might play its part therein, between. At 
last, with final mastery of all the technical secrets of his 
art, and with somewhat more than " a spark of the divine 
fire to his share," comes Giorgione. He is the inventor of 
genre, of those easily movable pictures which serve for 
uses, neither of devotion, nor of allegorical or historical 
teaching — little groups of real men and women, amid con- 
gruous furniture or landscape — morsels of actual life, con- 
versation or music, or play, refined upon or idealized, till 
they come to seem like glimpses of life from afar. Those 
spaces of more cunningly blent colour, obediently filling 
their places, hitherto, in a merej* architectural scheme, 
Giorgione detaches from the wall ; he frames them by the 
hands of some skilful carver, so that people may move 
them readily and take with them where they go, like a 
poem in manuscript, or a musical instrument, to be used, at 
will, as a means of self-education, stimulus or solace, com- 


ing like an animated presence, into one's cabinet, to enrich 
the air as with some choice aroma, and, like persons, live 
with us, for a day or a lifetime. Of all art like this, art 
which has played so large a part in men's culture since that 
time, Giorgione is the initiator. Yet in him too that old 
Venetian clearness or justice, in the apprehension of the 
essential limitations of the pictorial art, is still undisturbed ; 
and, while he interfuses his painted work with a high- 
strung sort of poetry, caught directly from a singularly rich 
and high-strung sort of life, yet in his selection of subject, 
or phase of subject, in the subordination of mere subject to 
pictorial design, to the main purpose of a picture, he is 
typical of that aspiration of all the arts towards music, 
which I have endeavoured to explain, — towards the perfect 
identification of matter and form. 

Born so near to Titian, though a little before him, that 
these two companion pupils of the aged Giovanni Bellini 
may almost be called contemporaries, Giorgione stands to 
Titian in something like the relationship of Sordello to 
Dante, in Mr. Browning's poem. Titian, when he leaves 
Bellini, becomes, in turn, the pupil of Giorgione ; he lives 
in constant labour more than sixty years after Giorgione is 
in his grave ; and with such fruit, that hardly one of the 
greater towns of Europe is without some fragment of it. 
But the slightly older man, with his so limited actual prod- 
uct (what remains to us of it seeming, when narrowly 
examined, to reduce itself to almost one picture, like 
Sordello's one fragment of lovely verse), yet expresses, in 
elementary motive and principle, that spirit — itself the final 


acquisition of all the long endeavours of Venetian art — 
which Titian spreads over his whole life's activity. 

And, as we might expect, something fabulous and illu- 
sive has always mingled itself in the brilliancy of Giorgi- 
one's fame. The exact relationship to him of many works 
— drawings, protraits, painted idylls — often fascinating 
enough, which in various collections went by his name, 
was from the first uncertain. Still, six or eight famous 
pictures at Dresden, Florence and the Louvre, were un- 
doubtingly, attributed to him, and in these, if anywhere, 
something of the splendour of the old Venetian humanity 
seemed to have been preserved. But of those six or eight 
famous pictures it is now known that only one is certainly 
from Giorgione's hand. The accomplished science of the 
subject has come at last, and, as in other instances, has not 
made the past more real for us, but assured us that we 
possess of it less than we seemed to possess. Much of the 
work on which Giorgione's immediate fame depended, 
work done for instantaneous effect, in all probability passed 
away almost within his own age, like the frescoes on the 
facade of the fondaco del Tedeschi at Venice, some crimson 
traces of which, however, still give a strange additional 
touch of splendour to the scene of the Rialto. And there 
is a barrier or borderland, a period about the middle of the 
Sixteenth Century, in passing through which the tradition 
miscarries, and the true outlines of Giorgione's work and 
person become obscured. It became fashionable for 
wealthy lovers of art, with no critical standard of authentic- 
ity, to collect so-called works of Ciiorgione, and a multitude 


of imitations came into circulation. And now, in the 
" new Vasari," ' the great traditional reputation, woven 
with so profuse demand on men's admiration, has been 
scrutinized thread by thread ; and what remains of the most 
vivid and stimulating of Venetian masters, a live flame, as 
it seemed, in those old shadowy times, has been reduced 
almost to a name by his most recent critics. 

Yet enough remains to explain why the legend grew up, 
above the name, why the name attached itself, in many in- 
stances, to the bravest work of other men. The Concert 
in the Pitti Palace, in which a monk, with cowl and ton- 
sure, touches the keys of a harpsichord, while a clerk, placed 
behind him, grasps the handle of a viol, and a third with 
cap and plume, seems to wait upon the true interval for be- 
ginning to sing, is undoubtedly Giorgione's. The outline 
of the lifted finger, the trace of the plume, the very threads 
of the fine linen, which fasten themselves on the memory, 
in the moment before they are lost altogether in that calm 
unearthly glow, the skill which has caught the waves of 
wandering sound, and fixed them for ever on the lips and 
hands — these are indeed the master's own ; and the criticism 
which, while dismissing so much hitherto believed to be 
Giorgione's, has established the claims of this one picture, 
has left it among the most precious things in the world of 

It is noticeable that the " distinction " of this Concert^ 
its sustained evenness of perfection, alike in design, in ex- 
ecution, and in choice of personal type, becomes for the 

1 Crowe and Cavalcaselle : History of Fainting in North Italy, 


" new Vasari " the standard of Giorgione's genuine work. 
Finding here enough to explain his influence, and the true 
seal of mastery, its authors assign to Pellegrino da San Dan- 
iele the Holy Family in the Louvre, for certain points in 
which it comes short of that standard, but which will hardly 
diminish the spectator's enjoyment of a singular charm of 
liquid air, with which the whole picture seems instinct, fill- 
ing the eyes and lips, the very garments, of its sacred per- 
sonages, with some wind-searched brightness and energy ; 
of which fine air the blue peak, clearly defined in the dis- 
tance, is, as it were, the visible pledge. Similarly, another 
favourite picture in the Louvre, the subject of a sonnet by 
a poet whose own painted work often comes to mind as one 
ponders over these precious things — the Fete Champetre^ 
is assigned to an imitator of Sebastian del Piombo ; and the 
Tempest^ in the Academy at Venice (a slighter loss, perhaps, 
though not without its pleasant effect of clearing weather, 
towards the left, its one untouched morsel), to Paris Bor- 
done, or perhaps to " some advanced craftsman of the Six- 
teenth Century." From the gallery at Dresden, the Knight 
embracing a Lady., where the knight's broken gauntlets seem 
to mark some well-known pause in a story we would. will- 
ingly hear the rest of, is conceded to " a Brescian hand," 
and 'Jacob meeting Rachel^ to a pupil of Palma ; and, what- 
ever their charm, we are called on to give up the Ordeal and 
the Finding of Moses with its jewel-like pools of water, per- 
haps to Bellini. 

Nor has the criticism, which thus so freely diminishes the 
'This picture is included in Love in Literature and Art. Y.. S. 


number of his authentic works, added anything important 
to the well-known outline of the life and personality of the 
man : only, it has fixed one or two dates, one or two cir- 
cumstances, a little more exactly. Giorgione was born be- 
fore the year 1477, and spent his childhood at Castelfranco, 
where the last crags of the Venetian Alps break down ro- 
mantically, with something of parklike grace, to the plain. 
A natural child of the family of the Barbarelli by a peasant- 
girl of Vedelago, he finds his way early into the circle of 
notable persons — people of courtesy ; and becomes initiated 
into those differences of personal type, manner, and even 
of dress, which are best understood there — that " distinc- 
tion " of the Concert of the Pitti Palace. Not far from his 
home lives Catherine of Cornaro formerly Queen of 
Cyprus ; and up in the towers which still remain, Tuzio 
Costanzo, the famous condotti'ere — a picturesque remnant of 
mediaeval manners, in a civilization rapidly changing. 
Giorgione paints their portraits; and when Tuzio's son, 
Matteo, dies in early youth, adorns in his memory a chapel 
in the church of Castelfranco, painting on this occasion 
perhaps, the altar-piece, foremost among his authentic 
works, still to be seen there, with the figure of the warrior- 
saint, Liberale, of which the original little study in oil, with 
the delicately gleaming, silver-grey armour, is one of the 
greater treasures of the National Gallery, and in which, as 
in some other knightly personages attributed to him, people 
have supposed the likeness of his own presumably gracious 
presence. Thither, at last, he is himself brought home 
from Venice, early dead, but celebrated. It happened, about 


his thirty-fourth year, that in one of those parties at which 
he entertained his friends with music, he met a certain lady 
of whom he became greatly enamoured, and " they rejoiced 
greatly," says Vasari, " the one and the other, in their 
loves." And two quite different legends concerning it 
agree in this, that it was through this lady he came by his 
death : Ridolfi relating that, being robbed of her by one of 
his pupils, he died of grief at the double treason ; — Vasari, 
that she being secretly stricken of the plague, and he ma- 
king his visits to her as usual, he took the sickness from her 
mortally, along with her kisses, and so briefly departed. 

But, although the number of Giorgione's extant works 
has been thus hmited by recent criticism, all is not done 
when the real and the traditional elements in what concerns 
him have been discriminated j for, in what is connected 
with a great name, much that is not real is often very stim- 
ulating ; and, for the aesthetic philosopher, over and above 
the real Giorgione and his authentic extant works, there re- 
mains the Giorgionesque also — an influence, a spirit, a type in 
art, active in men so different as those to whom many of his 
supposed works are really assignable — a veritable school, 
which grew together out of all those fascinating works 
rightly or wrongly attributed to him ; out of many copies 
from, or variations on him, by unknown or uncertain 
workmen, whose drawings and designs were, for various 
reasons, prized as his; out of the immediate impression he 
made upon his contemporaries, and with which he con- 
tinued in men's minds ; out of many traditions of subject 
and treatment, which really descend from him to our own 


time, and by retracing which we fill out the original image ; 
Giorgione thus becoming a sort of impersonation of Venice 
itself, its projected reflex or ideal, all that was intense or de- 
sirable in it thus crystallizing about the memory of this won- 
derful young man. 

And now, finally, let me illustrate some of the character- 
istics of this School of Giorgione, as we may call it, which, 
for most of us, notwithstanding all that negative criticism 
of the "new Vasari," will still identify itself with those 
famous pictures at Florence, Dresden and Paris ; in which 
a certain artistic ideal is defined for us — the conception of 
a peculiar aim and procedure in art, which we may under- 
stand as the Giorgionesque, wherever we find it, whether in 
Venetian work generally, or in work of our own time — and 
of which the Concert, that undoubted work of Giorgione in 
the Pitti Palace, is the typical instance, and a pledge authen- 
ticating the connexion of the school with the master. 

I have spoken of a certain interpenetration of the matter 
or subject of a work of art with the form of it, a condition 
realized absolutely only in music, as the condition to which 
every form of art is perpetually aspiring. In the art of 
painting, the attainment of this ideal condition, this perfect 
interpenetration of the subject with colour and design, de- 
pends, of course, in great measure, on dexterous choice of 
that subject, or phase of subject ; and such choice is one 
of the secrets of Giorgione's school. It is the school of 
genre, and employs itself mainly with " painted idylls," but, 
in the production of this pictorial poetry, exercises a won- 
derful tact in the selecting of such matter as lends itself 


most readily and entirely to pictorial form, to complete ex- 
pression by drawing and colour. For although its produc- 
tions are painted poems, they belong to a sort of poetry 
which tells itself without an articulated story. The master 
is pre-eminent for the resolution, the ease and quickness, 
with which he reproduces instantaneous motion — the 
lacing-on of armour, with the head bent back so stately — 
the fainting lady — the embrace, rapid as the kiss caught, 
with death itself, from dying lips — the momentary conjunc- 
tion of mirrors and polished armour and still water, by which 
all the sides of a solid image are presented at once, solving 
that casuistical question whether painting can present an 
object as completely as sculpture. The sudden act, the 
rapid transition of thought, the passing expression — this, he 
arrests with that vivacity which Vasari has attributed to 
him, tl fuoco Giorgionesco, as he terms it. Now it is part 
of the ideality of the highest sort of dramatic poetry, that it 
presents us with a kind of profoundly significant and ani- 
mated instants, a mere gesture, a look, a smile, perhaps — 
some brief and wholly concrete moment — into which, how- 
ever, all the motives, all the interests and effects of a long 
history, have condensed themselves, and which seem to 
absorb past and future in an intense consciousness of the 
present. Such ideal instants the school of Giorgione 
selects, with its admirable tact, from that feverish, tumultu- 
ously coloured life of the old citizens of Venice — exquisite 
pauses in time, in which, arrested thus, we seem to be 
spectators of all the fulness of existence, and which are 
like some consummate extract or quintessence of life. 


It is to the law or condition of music, as I said, that all 
art like this is really aspiring ; and, in the school of Gior- 
gione, the perfect moments of music itself, the making or 
hearing of music, song or its accompaniment, are them- 
selves prominent as subjects. On that background of the 
silence of Venice, which the visitor there finds so impress- 
ive, the world of Italian music was then forming. In 
choice of subject, as in all besides, the Concert of the Pitti 
Palace is typical of all that Giorgione, himself an admirable 
musician, touched with his influence ; and in sketch or 
finished picture, in various collections, we may follow it 
through many intricate variations — men fainting at music, 
music heard at the pool-side while people fish, or mingled 
with the sound of the pitcher in the well, or heard across 
running water, or among the flocks ; the tuning of instru- 
ments — people with intent faces, as if listening, like those 
described by Plato in an ingenious passage, to detect the 
smallest interval of musical sound, the smallest undulation 
in the air, or feeling for music in thought on a stringless 
instrument, ear and finger refining themselves infinitely, in 
the appetite for sweet sound — a momentary touch of an in- 
strument in the twilight, as one passes through some un- 
familiar room, in a chance company. 

In such favourite incidents, then, of Giorgione's school, 
music or music-like intervals in our existence, life itself is 
conceived as a sort of listening — listening to music, to the 
reading of Bandello's novels, to the sound of water, to time 
as it flies. Often such moments are really our moments of 
play, and we are surprised at the unexpected blessedness of 


what may seem our least important part of time ; not 
merely because play is in many instances that to which 
people really apply their own best powers, but also because 
at such times, the stress of our servile, everyday attentive- 
ness being relaxed, the happier powers in things without us 
are permitted free passage, and have their way with us. 
And so, from music, the school of Giorgione passes often 
to the play which is like music ; to those masques in which 
men avowedly do but play at real life, like children " dress- 
ing-up," disguised in the strange old Italian dresses, parti- 
coloured, or fantastic with embroidery and furs, of which 
the master was so curious a designer, and which, above all 
the spotless white linen at wrist and throat, he painted so 

And when people are happy in this thirsty land, water 
will not be far off; and in the school of Giorgione, the 
presence of water — the well, or marble-rimmed pool, the 
drawing or pouring of water, as the woman pours it from a 
pitcher with her jewelled hands in the Fete Champetre^ lis- 
tening, perhaps, to the cool sound as it falls, blent with the 
music of the pipes — is as characteristic, and almost as sug- 
gestive, as that of music itself. And the landscape feels, 
and is glad of it also — a landscape full of clearness, of the 
effects of water, of fresh rain newly passed through the air, 
and collected into the grassy channels ; the air, too, in the 
school of Giorgione, seeming as vivid as the people who 
breathe it, and literally empyrean, all impurities being burnt 
out of it, and no taint, no floating particle of anything but 
its own proper elements allowed to subsist within it. 


Its scenery is such as in England we call " park scenery," 
with some elusive refinement felt about the rustic buildings, 
the choice grass, the grouped trees, the undulations deftly 
economized for graceful effect. Only, in Italy all natural 
things are, as it were, woven through and through with gold 
thread, even the cypress revealing it among the folds of its 
blackness. And it is with gold dust, or gold thread, that 
these Venetian painters seem to work, spinning in fine fila- 
ments, through the solemn human flesh, away into the 
white plastered walls of the thatched huts. The harsher 
details of the mountains recede to a harmonious distance, 
the one peak of rich blue above the horizon remaining but 
as the visible warrant of that due coolness which is all we 
need ask here of the Alps, with their dark rains and streams. 
Yet what real, airy space, as the eye passes from level to 
level, through the long-drawn valley in which Jacob em- 
braces Rachel among the flocks ! Nowhere is there a truer 
landscape and persons — of the human image and its acces- 
sories — already noticed as characteristic of the Venetian 
school, so that, in it, neither personage nor scenery is ever 
a mere pretext for the other. 

Something like this seems to me to be the vraie v'erit'e 
about Giorgione, if I may adopt a serviceable expression by 
which the French recognize those more liberal and durable 
impressions which, in respect of any really considerable 
person or subject, anything that has at all intricately occu- 
pied men's attention, lie beyond, and must supplement, the 
narrower range of the strictly ascertained facts about it. 
In this, Giorgione is but an illustration of a valuable gen- 


eral caution we may abide by in all criticism. As regards 
Giorgione himself, we have indeed to take note of all those 
negations and exceptions, by which, at first sight, a " new 
Vasari " seems merely to have confused our apprehension 
of a delightful object, to have explained away out of our 
inheritance from past time what seemed of high value there. 
Yet it is not with a full understanding even of those excep- 
tions that one can leave ofF just at this point. Properly 
qualified, such exceptions are but a salt of genuineness in 
our knowledge ; and beyond all these strictly ascertained 
facts, we must take note of that indirect influence by which 
one like Giorgione, for instance, enlarges his permanent 
efficacy and really makes himself felt in our culture. In a 
just impression of that, is the essential truth, the vraie v'erit'e 
concerning him. 




AMONG the principal European galleries, the Louvre 
is one of those in which Raphael is perhaps best rep- 
resented from the point of view of the progress of his work. 
There, it is true, we do not find pictures of such brilliant 
splendour as the Sistine Madonna, the Virgin with the Fish, 
the Madonna della Sedia or the Violin Player ; but there we 
see a series of paintings of rare beauty, which, extending 
from 1506 to 15 1 8, embrace the whole active period of that 
life that was so full and so soon ended. Thus in turn ap- 
pear before our eyes the St. George and the Little St. Michael 
(1506), the Belle Jardiniere (1507), the Portrait of a Young 
Man (1508 or 1509), the Virgin with the Blue Diadem 
(15 1 2), the Portrait of Balthazar Castiglione (15 15), the 
Large St. Michael, and the Large Holy Family (15 18). 

St. George. — St. George, on horseback, fights with the 
legendary dragon. He has already broken his lance against 
it, and is about to strike it with his sword. This is 
quite a small picture, but singularly great in its character, 
thought and style. The saintly warrior, clad in steel armour 
and wearing a plumed helmet, rises in his stirrups, reins 
back his charger with his left hand, and raises his right, 



armed with a sword, against the monster that is pursuing 
him, and on which he casts a bacicward glance of contempt. 
This figure is one of singular pride and elegance. The 
face is almost that of a virgin. Minerva would willingly 
recognize it as her own, and our Joan of Arc could put up 
with it wonderfully well. Notwithstanding the impetuous 
speed (the rapidity of which is shown by the drapery of the 
mantle which is violently agitated), and notwithstanding the 
imminence of the danger, the Christian hero preserves a 
regal tranquillity. He carries with him something of the 
power and majesty of a God. The issue of the combat is 
not in doubt. The horse on its side is no less eminent in 
beauty. It recalls the admirable horses of the Panathenaea : 
it has the same nobility, with something mystical in addition 
that belongs peculiarly to the Renaissance. What Raphael 
had already seen of Antiquity made him feel in advance 
what he did not already know, and even what he was never 
to know. This white horse with rose harness, galloping 
across the green meadow, closely pressed by the dragon 
whose poisonous breath it scents, rearing under the restraint 
of its rider, raising its head and its eyes to Heaven, in 
prayer and belief, as one might be tempted to say, so 
strongly does it seem to be imbued with fervour and poesy, 
— is it not at once a Classic reminiscence and a personal 
inspiration ? The monster is no less remarkable. It is the 
winged dragon of Fable, with savage jaws, vampire wings, 
paws armed with menacing claws and tail with coils like a 
python. Would not one be inclined to say, so greatly does 
the painting here assume splendour and solidity, that this 


was one of those beautiful enamels of the beginning of the 
Sixteenth Century, preserved in the cabinets of our Gallery 
of Apollo ? Finally, for the background of this picture, we 
have a landscape with suave and harmoniously cadenced 
lines, fresh, springlike, and virginal, in which the verdurous 
valleys melt into the azure distances of the mountains which 
themselves fade and are lost in the blue of a pure and 
luminous sky. There is nothing present that is not of ex- 
quisite grace and delicious sentiment, even to the little fe- 
male figure, robed in rose, and fleeing in the distance. 
Thus, everything in this picture is of the very first order. 
Under modest appearances, the forms have a firmness of 
accentuation which is the work no longer of a student but 
of a master. As for the colour, limpid, transparent, and of 
a tempered harmony, it reveals a state of preservation that 
nearly four centuries have not been able to injure. 

It is said that this picture dates from 1504 : this is an 
error. It is added that it is after the manner of Perugino : 
this is also an error. The date of the St. George of the 
Louvre is 1506. In it we recognize the spirit and the hand 
of a painter who has already attained full independence. 

In 1504, Raphael who had just left Perugino's school, 
was still confined within the picturesque world fashioned by 
his master. It is true that he only remained in it out of 
pure deference, and that he managed to dwell there as if he 
were in his own home. Witness the Sposaliz'to borrowed 
almost line for line from Perugino but invested with a new 
grace and transfigured by a new mind, which set the picture 
of the pupil on a level high above that of the master. As 


for the St. George, nothing in it is left that smells of the 
school; there is no longer any imitation in it; everything 
in it reveals a new art, like a rising sun. In it Raphael 
shows himself completely liberated, without any sort of re- 
volt or violence, and possessed of the calm and respect that 
befit power. Between the St. George and the Sposalizio 
there is a whole world. To set the same date to these two 
pictures appears to us impossible. This, however, is what 
hitherto has been done by saying that Raphael painted the 
St. George during the very short stay he made at Urbino in 
the course of the year 1504. Raphael then went to his 
native town to pay homage to Guidobaldo, whom Julius II. 
had just nominated Gonfalonier of the Church and reinstated 
in the duchy of Urbino. The genius of the Renaissance, with 
its most illustrious representatives, was sitting at the hearth 
of the noblest of men and the most amiable of women. 
Although still very young, Raphael had found his place 
there ; but he did not tarry. Furnished with a letter by 
Elizabeth Gonzaga for Soderini, he hastened towards Flor- 
ence, there to ripen his talent by contact with the greatest 
artists whom Italy had yet possessed. 

Let us now place ourselves in 1506 and look at our St. 
George. After a two years' abode in Tuscany, Raphael is 
found again in Urbino surrounded with the rays of his 
youthful glory. The plague had desolated Umbria, and 
before going forward in his life, he had come again to see 
his friends and relatives, and to pay homage to them with 
the celebrated works that he left behind him. 

At the beginning of the year 1506, the Abbot of Glas- 


tonburjr and Gilbert Talbot, ambassadors from Henry 
VIII. to Julius II. went to Urbino to invest Guidobaldo 
with the Order of the Garter. Raphael, being then in his 
natal town, had at once to paint a St. George for the King 
of England, the Order of the Garter as well as the realm of 
England being placed under the patronage of the legendary 
hero. In this picture, the warrior who wears the Garter 
below his right knee, faces the monster and pierces him 
with his lance. The little female figure that in our picture 
is fleeing in the distance, is kneeling in the background of 
the other. These two paintings, executed with great pre- 
cision, are exactly in the same spirit and the same style. 
They are almost identical, and there is no doubt that they 
were executed almost at the same time. If you put these 
two St. Georges side by side, you will recognize that the 
more beautiful of the two is not the one that has the Garter, 
and that ours is more strongly conceived and more broadly 
painted. Now, when an artist like Raphael repeats one of 
his pictures, it is always in order to aggrandize its character 
and never to lessen its expression. Raphael therefore 
painted our St. George after the one he had already painted 
for the King of England. The date 1506 being certain for 
the St. George with the Garter — nobody disputes this — that 
date should also be attributed to the St. George in the Louvre. 
If you have the slightest lingering doubt on this point go 
to the U^ze Gallery and compare the two preliminary 
sketches for these pictures. They are by the same pen, 
drawn in the same manner and almost at the same hour. 
You will find in both the same youthful ardour and the 


same sureness of hand ; but you will notice a very notable 
improvement in the sketch for the picture now in the 
Louvre. It is probable that Guidobaldo, enraptured with 
the picture that he sent to the King of England, ordered 
from Raphael a second for himself, and the artist, having 
more mastery over his subject than at first, designed and 
painted the St. George of our Museum. What became of it 
after the dispersion of the collections gathered together by 
the Montefeltri in the Urbino palace ? Nobody knows, 
until the day when it found a place in Mazarin's cabinet, 
whence it passed into the gallery of Louis XIV. Since 
then it has belonged to France. 

What a beautiful subject for painting is this subject of St. 
George ! Historic and legendary at the same time, born of 
Christian antiquity, aggrandized by the Middle Ages and al- 
most transfigured into an archangel, to the Renaissance it 
opens the infinite horizons of the earth and of the sky 
confounded in one vision ! King or governor of Cappa- 
docia, and martyred at Nicomedia under Diocletian, whose 
armies he had commanded, St. George immediately became 
the patron of warriors and the great saint of the Greek 
church. It was particularly in the Orient and during the 
Crusades that he revealed himself to the Occident. St. 
George appeared to Robert Guiscard's troops under the 
walls of Antioch, and fought by the side of Richard Cceur 
de Lion at Caesarea, Jaffa and before Ascalon. Thence- 
forth he became the special patron of England. The 
national Council of Oxford, in 1222, decided that his festi- 
val should be obligatory throughout the realm, and the 


Order of the Garter, founded by Edward III. in 1330, was 
placed under his invocation. After so many apparitions 
and prodigies, this heroic figure had assumed proportions 
that surpassed the ordinary measure of saints. Like 
Michael the Archangel, it was the Devil himself whom it 
was St. George's mission to fight and to conquer. Thus 
transported into the supernatural world, on a mettlesome 
horse, he dashes against the enemy of the human race, 
against Satan metamorphosed into a dragon; and, a new 
Perseus, he also has his Andromeda. Following the ex- 
ample of Antiquity, whose anthropomorphism personified 
cities and provinces, waters and woods, the Renaissance 
symbolized, by a virgin, Cappadocia torn by St. George from 
idolatry, that is to say from Hell. We see this virgin, 
sometimes praying and sometimes fleeing before the mon- 
ster, become one of the characteristics of the saint. We 
have pointed her out in the St. George with the Garter as 
well as in the St. George in the Louvre. It must be repeated 
that these two pictures are brethren, they have exactly the 
same age, both belonging to the year 1506. 




THE life of an artist, and a great artist, without roman- 
tic experiences, is not this a prodigy ? And, above 
all, that he should be a Spanish master ! Such was, how- 
ever, the life of Murillo. He was born, he worked and he 
died. He was born at Seville, like Velasquez, who was to 
be his friend and counsellor. Unconscious of his strength, 
as well as of his tastes, Murillo, from his youth, illumined 
canvases of no value which he hurried away to the New 
World. This obscure labour procured him bread. But 
his mind worked. Each day brought to the young man 
some new light. He has a confused revelation of his 
future. What is it to him to have merely technical skill, 
when others know how to fix for centuries the radiant 
visions they see ? Without fortune, without help, without 
guidance, Bartolome Esteban searched vainly for the path 
that he should follow. One of his own relatives, Juan del 
Castillo, a good professor, initiated him into the first rudi- 
ments of painting ; and then, having given these very in- 
sufficient lessons, went to Cadiz. Murillo was beginning 
to be doubtful of the future, when the painter Piedro y 
Moya passed through Seville. 


Moya was returning from London to Grenada. Moya 
had fallen under Van Dyck's influence in London. He 
showed one of his canvases to Murillo, spoke to him of his 
master, told him of all he had learned, and confided his 
schemes to him. This was a ray of light to the young 
painter. To see Van Dyck, to listen to him, and to adopt 
him for his master, was Murillo's dream ; and, without any 
hesitation, he set himself the task of realizing the sum nec- 
essary for a voyage to London. Vain project ! Van 
Dyck died in the meantime and Murillo heard the news 
while he was still in Seville. 

Should he despair ? London without Van Dyck had no 
attractions for our painter; but would not Italy furnish him 
some compensation for the loss of the Flemish master whose 
disciple he had wished to become ? Could not he, when 
once away, visit Flanders and Holland ? And, asking him- 
self these questions, he discovered a double stream in his 
thought. Subjects of pure imagination charmed him, with- 
out any doubt, but he experienced an almost equal attrac- 
tion for popular scenes which unfolded themselves every 
day and every hour beneath the careless glance of the 
pedestrian. What we never see, the painter perceived and 
remembered. A beggar, a wretch, or a lame man are 
repulsive to us, and we turn our eyes away from these un- 
fortunate beings; the mother who cares for her ragged 
.child upon the threshold of his house, an ordinary man 
cannot notice without disgust. The Dutch and Flemish 
have less disdain for this kind of subject. Murillo felt 
himself of their race by his pleasure in looking at pictures 



of common life and finding them agreeable. It was then 
settled. Our young man would make a tour of Europe. 

Conceived by a greater than he, other great projects have 
had the fate of castles in the air ! But the galleons of 
America had always a few piastres to pay for the dozens of 
images which they wanted to sell to not particular popula- 
tions of Mexico and Peru. Murillo worked for the ship- 
owners, accumulating piastres upon piastres, and, soon, in 
possession of a good round sum, he started for Italy. 

His first stop was Madrid. It was also the last ! This 
was in 1643. Murillo was twenty-five. Velasquez, con- 
sidered at this period the first painter of Spain, lived in 
Madrid on familiar terms with the King. He was, one 
must remember, a compatriot of Murillo. With extreme 
kindness, he welcomed the young man who came to him 
and retained him by those masterpieces with which the 
Escurial was peopled. The painter of Philip IV. had seen 
Italy, and Rubens was not a stranger to him. Velasquez 
was older than Murillo by about twenty years, and in full 
possession of his strong and distinguished genius. Murillo 
saw that he had no need to go farther than the Escurial. 
In this rich palace, Titian, Rubens, Van Dyck and Ribera 
exhibited their greatest works ; and Velasquez gave Murillo 
his authoritative commentary upon these robust masters. 
Murillo remained. 

Two years passed. In 1645, the painter of Seville re- 
appeared among his fellow-citizens. This time he was 
equipped; full of enthusiasm, rich in knowledge, and gifted 
with thought, energy and facility, and for thirty-seven years 


without ever leaving his native city, he never ceased pro- 
ducing with a fertility full of ease and distinction. 

I am mistaken. Murillo consented to go one day to 
Cadiz. He was to paint upon the high altar of the con- 
vent de los Capuchinos an important picture, — the marriage 
of Saint Catherine. Mounted upon the scaffolding above 
the altar, in the fervour of his composition, he forgot that 
the space was restricted, and he fell. Seriously wounded, 
he returned to Seville where he died on April 3rd, 1682, 
after cruel sufferings. 

" Heureux qui ndit et meurt dans la meme maison". 

Such was Murillo's fate. And if we set aside the trials 
of his last months, we can count nothing but happy days in 
the painter's life. Fortune smiled upon him from the age 
of thirty years. In 1648, his reputation enabled him to 
gain the hand of Dona Beatrix de Calabrera y Sotomayor, 
a noble and rich lady of the town of Pilas. 

Without a rival in his deserved favour, he attacked with 
equal certainty of touch scenes o^ genre ^ portraits, religious 
compositions and even landscapes. Murillo — a rare case — 
was always growing. His last works are his most perfect. 
While Ribera never saw anything during the whole of his 
life but motives for severe, sombre and sometimes mournful 
pictures, Murillo, not of less faith than Ribera, delighted 
himself with quiet, radiant, and pleasing ecstasies. 

The sweetness and calmness of his visions are what 
determine his rank and characterize his style. 

What serenity is contained in the Holy Family in the 


Louvre ! The Virgin holds, standing upon her knees, the 
Infant Jesus, who is leaning towards Saint John the Bap- 
tist. The latter is presenting the Infant God with a cross 
of reed. In his left hand he is holding a scroll on which 
the words Ecce agnus Dei are inscribed. A lamb is lying 
in the foreground. Saint Elizabeth, with a contemplative 
glance, is on her knees. A dove hovers above the Bam- 
bino's head, and, in the sky, God the Father leans 
towards the group composed of four evangelical personages. 
I admit that the Virgin's head is a delicate portrait, but it is 
not merely a portrait. This reservation made, I am ready 
to pronounce an unbounded eulogy for the harmony of the 
composition, the happy contrasts of the positions and types, 
the correctness of the attitudes and the lightness and the 
transparency of the colouring. Some imponderable cheru- 
bins are playing in the ether, but nearer to the spectator is 
the body of the Infant Jesus, with its clearly marked con- 
tours, and without dryness, surpasses by elegance, distinc- 
tion and gracefulness, the cherubins that are happy to con- 
template him. 

This canvas, regarding which we have no information, 
seems to have always belonged to the collection of Louis 
XVI. It certainly dates from 1670 to 1680, that is to 
say from the painter's last years. The sight of it recalls a 
touching story about Murillo. 

Towards the end of his life, the master was in the habit 
of going into the church of the Vera Cruz and remaining 
for hours in contemplation before Pedro Campana's Descent 
from the Cross, One day, the sacristan, in a hurry to close 


the church, came up to the painter and asked him what he 
was waiting for. " I am waiting," replied Murillo with a 
smile of ecstasy, " until those reverent servants shall have 
finished taking the Saviour from the cross." 

Several months ago, I found myself in front of the Holy 
Family in the Louvre Gallery, intent upon absorbing its 
beauties before speaking of it to my readers. Suddenly 
the solemn " It is time to close ! " was heard in the loud 
voice of the keeper. I never moved, held in a dream be- 
fore Murillo's canvas. The keeper tapped my elbow : 
'' We are closing, sir, we are closing, what are you waiting 

" I am waiting," I answered, " for the Infant Jesus to 
take that cross of reed which the little Saint John is offer- 
ing to him with such grace." 

The man thought that I was mad ; he shrugged his shoulders 
and went away repeating : " We are closing, we are clo- 
sing ! " He did not understand what great praise I was 
giving Murillo in borrowing from him that superb speech 
that he had formerly pronounced before the masterly work 
of Pedro Campana. 




THE master mind of Turner, without effort, showers 
its knowledge into every touch, and we have only 
to trace out even his slightest passages, part by part, to find 
in them the universal working of the deepest thought, that 
consistent cry of every minor truth which admits of and 
invites the same ceaseless study as the work of nature her- 

There is, however, yet another peculiarity in Turner's 
painting of smooth water, which, though less deserving of 
admiration, as being merely a mechanical excellence, is not 
less wonderful than its other qualities, nor less unique — a 
peculiar texture, namely, given to the most delicate tints of 
the surface, when there is little reflection from anything 
except sky or atmosphere, and which, just at the points 
where other painters are reduced to paper, gives to the sur- 
face of Turner the greatest appearance of substantial liquid- 
ity. It is impossible to say how it is produced ; it looks 
like some modification of body colour; but it certainly is 
not body colour used as by other men, for I have seen this 
expedient tried over and over again without success ; and 
it is often accompanied by crumbling touches of a dry 
brush, which never could have been put upon body colour. 


and which could not have shown through underneath it. 
As a piece of mechanical excellence, it is one of the most 
remarkable things in the work of the master ; and it brings 
the truth of his water-painting up to the last degree of per- 
fection, often rendering those passages of it the most at- 
tractive and delightful, which from their delicacy and 
paleness of tint, would have been weak and papery in the 
hands of any other man. The best instance of it I can 
give is, I think, the distance of the Devonport with the 

After all, however, there is more in Turner's painting of 
water surface than any philosophy of reflection, or any 
peculiarity of means can accomplish ; there is a might and 
wonder about it which will not admit of our whys and 
hows. Take, for instance, the picture of the Sun of Venice 
Going to SeOy of 1843, respecting which, however, there are 
one or two circumstances which may as well be noted be- 
sides its water-painting. The reader, if he has not been at 
Venice, ought to be made aware that the Venetian fishing- 
boats, almost without exception, carry canvas painted with 
bright colours, the favourite design for the centre being 
either a cross or a large sun with many rays, the favourite 
colours being red, orange, and black, blue occurring oc- 
casionally. The radiance of these sails and of the bright 
and grotesque vanes at the mast-heads under sunlight is be- 
yond all painting, but it is strange that, of constant oc- 
currence as these boats are on all the lagoons. Turner alone 
should have availed himself of them. Nothing could be 
more faithful than the boat which was the principal object 


in this picture, in the cut of the sail, the filling of it, the 
exact height of the boom above the deck, the quartering of 
it with colour, finally and especially, the hanging of the 
fish-baskets above the bovv^s. All these, however, are com- 
paratively minor merits (though not the blaze of colour 
which the artist elicited from the right use of these circum- 
stances), but the peculiar power of the picture was the 
painting of the sea surface, where there were no reflections 
to assist it. A stream of splendid colour fell from the 
boat, but that occupied the centre onlyj in the distance, 
the city and crowded boats threw down some playing lines, 
but these still left on each side of the boat a large space of 
water reflecting nothing but the morning sky. This was 
divided by an eddying swell, on whose continuous sides the 
local colour of the water was seen, pure aquamarine, (a 
beautiful occurrence of closely-observed truth), but still 
there remained a large blank space of pale water to be 
treated, the sky above had no distinct details and was pure 
faint grey, with broken white vestages of cloud : it gave no 
help therefore. But there the water lay, no dead grey flat 
paint, but downright clear, playing, palpable surface, full 
of indefinite hue, and retiring as regularly and visibly back 
and far away, as if there had been objects all over it to tell 
the story by perspective. Now it is the doing of this 
which tries the painter, and it is his having done this which 
made me say above that " no man had ever painted the sur- 
face of calm water but Turner." The San Benedetto, look- 
ing towards Fusina, contained a similar passage equally fine; 
in one of the Canale della Guidecca, the specific green 


colour of the water is seen in front, with the shadows of 
the boats thrown on it in purple; all, as it retires, passing 
into the pure reflective blue. 

But Turner was not satisfied with this. He is never 
altogether content unless he can, at the same time that he 
takes advantage of all the placidity of repose tell us some- 
thing either about the past commotion of the water, or 
of some present stirring of tide or current which its still- 
ness does not show or give us something or other to think 
about and reason upon, as well as to look at. 


j (^Luini) 


IN art criticism, it is customary to affirm as an incontest- 
able principle that the Greeks realized an ideal of 
beauty to which modern nations have never been able 
to attain. Nevertheless, who is there among us that, 
desiring to give new life to one of the dreams of beauty 
that blossomed under the hands of the artists of the past, 
would choose a Venus or a Diana of Greek art, and would 
not a thousand times rather evoke one of those enchant- 
resses immortalized by the genius of a Lionardo or a Luini. 
The reason is that, notwithstanding the superiority we 
may recognize in Greek art, and whatever may be the 
plastic beauty of the forms it has reproduced, there is yet 
in the faces created by modern art a more ardent awakening 
of thought and heart, a closer and warmer communication 
between their souls and our own. They seize upon us less 
by reason of the regularity of their features than by the 
smile upon their lips and the tenderness in their eyes. 

Luini, the master whose glory equals that of the most 
illustrious artists of northern Italy, — Mantegna, Giovanni 
Bellini, Titian — possesses a complex mind, and follows a 
twofold artistic dream in his works. If he works in this 
way, it is because he lived in the early part of the Sixteenth 


Century, during a period of transition, that still preserved 
the memory of former ages whilst prizing the new ideals. 
In no other artist, perhaps, do we find united with such 
intensity, these two apparently irreconcilable sentiments : 
the religious sentiment and the passion of love. On ex- 
amining Luini in his great religious pages at Milan, Sa- 
vonno and Lugano, or in admirable Madonna faces, we 
seem to have before our eyes some neophyte who has been 
piously reared in the shadow of the cloisters ; and on look- 
ing at his Herodiases, his Susannas and his symbolical figures, 
it seems that his whole life must have been spent in the 
pursuit of love and beauty. 

Luini's female creations are so exquisite that for a long 
time people supposed that Luini alone was capable of con- 
ceiving them and permanently recording their loveliness; 
but now this injustice has come to an end, and Luini's art 
appears before us with sharply determined characteristics 
that prevent us from confounding it with Lionardo's art. 

First of all, from the point of view of technique, it must 
be remarked that Lionardo works like a master born about 
1450 ; and Luini like one born after 1470. With Luini 
the workmanship is less precise than with Lionardo ; while 
the stroke is less restrained, and the modelling freer. To 
convince ourselves of this, it is only necessary to examine 
the picture from St. Petersburg reproduced herewith. The 
artists of the Sixteenth Century were fond of this broad 
and supple execution, but Lionardo would have been likely 
to have taxed this suppleness with insufficiency, and would 
have prescribed a more nervous effort to draw closer to- 



gether the forms of life. Moreover, Luini's art, as we 
behold it in the Columbine of the Hermitage, differs from 
that of Lionardo quite as much in depth as in form. In 
fact, the student should be good enough to consider that 
whatever Lionardo's naturalist researches may have been, 
he never conceived a work of art outside his religious bond ; 
and if we accept the 'Joconde^ which is a portrait merely, 
all the faces of women in which he has incarnated his 
dream of beauty are those of Madonnas. Now, in these 
faces, we find united with the noblest thoughts, the most 
subtle strivings after carnal loveliness ; and it is impossible 
for us not to regard as hurtful, or at least as useless and in- 
appropriate, such sensual elements in a motive that above 
all else demands the expression of innocence, modesty and 
maternal love. But Lionardo's pupils, especially Luini, in 
obedience to an imperious logic, were led, in order to fol- 
low their master's own ideas, to relinquish the Madonna 
motive and adopt subjects more in unison with the ideas 
that they desired to express ; and, with Luini, thus arises 
the whole of this interesting group of works of art to which 
the picture that we are now studying belongs. It is a 
motive to which his most intimate preferences appear to 
have been attached, and in truth, more than any other, this 
motive worthily responds to that ideal of sovereignly seduc- 
tive beauty that haunted him. This is the motive of Hero- 
dias^ which he has repeated four times (Louvre, Vienna, 
Florence and Milan). With the Herodias we must connect 
a group representing symbolic figures, the most admirable of 
• See Great Pictures (New York, 1899), 142, 


which are the Vanity and Modesty of the Sciarra Gallery, 
and the picture here reproduced from the Hermitage. The 
slightest comparison between the picture of the Sciarra 
Gallery and that of the Hermitage will show that the same 
subject appears in both. The St. Petersburg picture, like 
the one in Rome, represents an allegory intended to pro- 
claim the eternal beauty of woman. If we knew the lan- 
guage of flowers, as it was understood in the Sixteenth 
Century, perhaps we might be able to draw some more 
precise deduction from the flowers chosen by Luini, from 
that ancholic that he loved so much and that he has else- 
where placed in the hands of the Infant Jesus {Brera Ma- 
donna)^ from that jasmin that we find again in the Vanity 
of the Sciarra Palace, or from those miserable little flowers, 
sprouting in the ruins, that Lionardo had studied with 
such interest in his Madonna of the Rocks, 

How comes it that upon a picture the meaning of which 
is so comprehensible the name Columbine has been writ- 
ten ? A Columbine by Luini ! But truly, does not that 
sound to our ears as strangely false as if someone were to 
speak to us of a Punchinello by Michelangelo or a Pierrot 
by Raphael ? These personages borrowed from Italian 
comedy are good enough for Watteau and the little masters 
of the Eighteenth Century. It is true that our picture by 
Luini received its name Columbine in the Eighteenth Cen- 
tury, and to a certain extent we may understand the reason 
of this appellation. Every period realizes under a particu- 
lar form the ideas that are dear to it, and if in order to 
express the great thoughts that preoccupied the minds of 


the artists of the Fifteenth Century, it was necessary to 
create Madonnas, Heroadases and Judiths ; in order to 
satisfy the amorous folly of the Eighteenth Century it was 
sufficient to evoke Harlequins, Punchinellos and Colum- 
bines. Columbine is the Venus of the Eighteenth Century, 
pretty, charming and coquettish. Therefore, why not give 
that name to this adorable figure into which Luini has put 
so much smiling charm and loveliness ? And yet, what a 
mistake, what a monstrous anachronism it is to judge the 
ardent soul of the Sixteenth Century with the frivolous sen- 
suality of the Eighteenth ; it is utterly falsifying the mean- 
ing of these works in which the Italy of the Renaissance 
reveals herself to us in such a prodigious ideal of 

It has often been asked how it came to pass that Lion- 
ardo left no disciples in Florence, when he created such a 
strong school in Milan. The first cause, in my opinion, 
should be sought for in the laws that presided over the for- 
mation and development of the Florentine school of paint- 
ing. This school, created by fresco painters accustomed 
to works of vast dimensions, did not care to tarry over the 
finesses of execution, or the enumeration of minute details ; 
it simplified its vision, attaching itself particularly to the 
broad lines, and only retaining of the forms what was 
essentially expressive in them. This character will be 
noticed at all periods of Florentine painting, in Giotto, 
Masaccio, Ghirlandaio and Andrea del Sarto. When the 
Florentine painters depart from this general conception, it 
is only by accident and almost always in consequence of 


foreign action, and action that will be sometimes that of 
Flemish painters such as Van der Weyden, or Van der 
Goes, and sometimes that of Florentine sculptors who, at a 
given moment, about the middle of the Fifteenth Century, 
exercised so powerful an influence upon the painters who 
were their contemporaries. The action of Verrocchio in 
particular was such as to transform the style of the Floren- 
tine school of painting, and to give birth to the so entirely 
individual, and in certain respects so little Florentine, of 
Lionardo da Vinci. 

But the fact that this new style was outside the traditions 
of the Florentine school of painting must have hindered its 
development, and in reality Lionardo had no disciple in 
Florence. With Fra Bartolomeo and Andrea del Sarto 
it is the old character of the school that reappears to follow 
out its natural evolution through the whole course of the 
.xteenth Century. 

In the North of Italy, on the contrary, the precision of 
line and observation of detail form a predominant character 
of those schools of which Mantegna is the most illustrious 
representative. These schools, therefore, found in Lion- 
ardo a teaching that responded to their ancient 
traditions, and we may thus understand how the seed 
planted by Lionardo in the soil of Milan struck 
such deep root and produced such beautiful flowers 

But however this may be, and whatever may have been 
the causes of this admirable blossoming of Milanese art in 
the early years of the Sixteenth Century, we may say that 


it represents in a highly learned form one of the researches 
that have the most occupied the Itahan genius, I mean the 
seeking after beauty pursued in the harmonious accord 
between form and poetry. 


(^Hubert and Jan Van Eyck^ 


THE Chapel of the Vydts at Saint Bavon was conse- 
crated in 1432 and Van Mander describes the 
'' swarms " which came to admire it. There were festive 
days, he adds, on which the people were allowed to enter. 
In ordinary times it was closed, and *' few but the high 
born and such as could afford to pay the custos saw it." 

That this wonderful performance, when finished and 
exhibited, should have been looked at with exceptional 
interest is not surprising. It was the finest picture of the 
age in Belgium, remarkable for its perfection of technical 
handling, and eminently calculated to captivate a public 
full of the fervour of religion. When open it represented 
the sacrifice of Christ, and the triumph of the Church 
militant. When closed it displayed in prominent positions 
the portraits of the donors. That such a picture should 
receive minute and special attention is evident. 

In the centre of the altar-piece, and on a panel which 
overtops all the others, the noble and dignified figure of 
Christ sits enthroned in the prime of manhood with a short 
black beard, a broad forehead, and black eyes. On his 
head is the white tiara, ornamented with a profusion of 
diamonds, pearls, and amethysts. Two dark lappets fall 




on either side of the grave and youthful face. The throne 
of black damask is embroidered with gold ; the tiara re- 
lieved on a golden ground covered vi^ith inscriptions in 
semicircular lines. Christ holds in his left hand a sceptre 
of splendid workmanship, and with two fingers of his right 
hand he gives his blessing to the world. The gorgeous red 
mantle which completely enshrouds his form is fastened at 
the breast by a large jewelled brooch. The mantle itself is 
bordered with a double row of pearls and amethysts. The 
feet rest on a golden pedestal, carpeted with black, and on 
the dark ground, which is cut into perspective squares by 
lines of gold, lies a richly-jewelled open-worked crown, 
emblematic of martyrdom. This figure of the Redeemer 
is grandly imposing; the mantle, though laden with 
precious stones, in obedience to a somewhat literal inter- 
pretation of Scripture, falls from the shoulders and over 
the knees to the feet in ample and simple folds. The 
colour of the flesh is powerful, brown, glowing, and full of 
vigour, that of the vestments strong and rich. The hands 
are well drawn, perhaps a little contracted in the muscles, 
but still of startling realism. On the right of Christ, the 
Virgin sits in her traditional robe of blue ; her long fair 
hair, bound to the forehead by a diadem, flowing in waves 
down her shoulders. With most graceful hands she holds 
a book, and pensively looks with a placid and untroubled 
eye into space. On the left of the Eternal, St. John the 
Baptist rests, long haired and bearded, austere in expression, 
splendid in form, and covered with a broad, flowing, green 
drapery. On the spectator's right of St. John the Baptist, 


St. Cecilia, in a black brocade, plays on an oaken organ 
supported by three or four angels with viols and harps. 
On the left of the Virgin, a similar but less beautiful group 
of singing choristers stand in front of an oaken desk, the 
foremost of them dressed in rich and heavy red brocade. 
All the singing and playing angels have light wavy hair, 
bound over the head by cinctures of precious stones. 
Their dresses are profusely ornamented, somewhat heavy 
in texture and angular in fold. A prevailing red tone in 
the shadow of the flesh tints makes it doubtful whether 
they are executed by the same hand as the Christ, but the 
comparative want of power and harmony in the colour of 
these panels may be caused by restoring, and a few outlines 
which are slightly weakened may owe this blemish to a 
similar cause. 

On the spectator's right of St. Cecilia once stood the 
naked figure of Eve, now removed to the Brussels Museum 
— a figure upon which the painter seems to have concen- 
trated all his knowledge of perspective as applied to the 
human form and its anatomical development. It would be 
too much to say that Hubert rises to the conception of an 
ideal of beauty. The head is over large, the body pro- 
trudes, and the legs are spare, but the mechanism of the 
limbs and the shape of the extremities are rendered with 
truth and delicacy, and there is much power in the colour- 
ing of the flesh. 

Counterpart to Eve, and once on the left side of the 
picture, Adam is equally remarkable for correctness of pro- 
portion and natural realism. Here again the master's 


science in optical perspective is conspicuous, and the 
height of the figure above the eye is fitly considered. 

Christ, by his position, presides over the sacrifice of the 
Lamb as represented in the lower panels of the shrine.^ 
The scene of the sacrifice is laid in a landscape formed of 
green hills receding in varied and pleasing lines from the 
foreground to the extreme distance. A Flemish city, 
meant, no doubt, to represent Jerusalem, is visible chiefly 
in the background to the right ; but churches and monas- 
teries, built in the style of the early edifices of the 
Netherlands and Rhine countries, boldly raise their domes 
and towers above every part of the horizon, and are sharply 
defined on a sky of pale grey gradually merging into a 
deeper hue. The trees, which occupy the middle ground, 
are not of high growth, nor are they very different in 
colour from the undulating meadows in which they stand. 
They are interspersed here and there with cypresses, and 
on the left is a small date-palm. The centre of the picture 
is all meadow and green slope, from a foreground strewed 
with daisies and dandelions to the distant blue hills. 

In the very centre of the picture a square altar is hung 
with red damask and covered with a white cloth. Here 
stands a lamb, from whose breast a stream of blood issues 
into a crystal glass. Angels kneel round the altar with 
parti-coloured wings and variegated dresses, many of them 
praying with joined hands, others holding aloft the em- 
blems of the passion, two in front waving censers. From 
a slight depression of the ground to the right a little behind 
> See Great Pictures, (New York, 1199), 154. 


the altar a numerous band of female saints is issuing, all in 
rich and varied costumes, fair hair floating over their shoul- 
ders, and palms in their hands ; foremost may be noticed 
St. Barbara with the tower and St. Agnes. From a similar 
opening on the left, popes, cardinals, bishops, monks, and 
minor clergy advance, some holding croziers and crosses, 
others palms. 

Looking at this beautiful altar-piece in its totality, we 
have to consider that it was the work of two artists and 
their assistants, of Hubert, who, no doubt, composed, 
arranged, and partly executed it, of John and his journey- 
men who finished it. The portraits of the two brothers 
are found on one of the panels; are they done by the 
elder or by the younger brother ? What part is Hubert 
most likely to have finished first ? Surely the upper, which 
comprises the Saviour, the Virgin, St. John, and our first 
parents ; yet when looking at the band of hermits in the 
lower course, the display of power seems as great as in the 
best portions of the upper, and greater than is to be found 
in any of the pictures produced by John Van Eyck alone. 
Hubert incepit^ John perfecit ; that is the sum total of our 
knowledge. By nicely comparing the merits of the several 
pieces, we come to the conclusion that John carried out 
the panel of the Lamb with some of the groups at its sides, 
and most of the outer faces ; but it would be too much to 
say that Hubert was not instrumental in laying out and 
beginning some even of these. 

The unity of religious thought which comes to its dis- 
play in this masterpiece is marred by curious disproportions. 


The idea of divine power conveyed by contrasting the 
larger size of Christ, Mary, and John vv^ith the smaller 
statue of the angels or Adam and Eve, is more of earth 
than of heaven, and hardly conducive to a fine general 
effect. Our feeling for uniformity is affected by figures 
reduced in the lower course to one-third of the height of 
those in the upper. There is something essentially of this 
world in the realism which depicts the Saviour in a room 
with a chequered floor, and the angels of paradise as chor- 
isters in an organ loft. It is a mistake into which the Van 
Eycks have fallen to suppose that the notion of spiritual 
might is inseparable from rigidity of attitude and gaze, or 
that the radiance of God can be fitly and exclusively em- 
bodied in gorgeous raiment and costly jewels ; but, taking 
realism as the necessary portion of the Fleming, it is a 
pleasure to admire the regular forms, the grave and solemn 
face of Christ, the mild serenity of Mary, and the rugged 
force of the Baptist. 

There is great if not perfect harmony of lines and of 
parts in the composition of the adoration of the Lamb, 
and no picture in the Flemish school of the Fifteenth Cen- 
tury more completely and fully combines the laws of appro- 
priate distribution. The human framework is mostly well 
proportioned, appropriate in movement and immediate in 
action. Without selection, if tried by the purest standards, 
the nude as displayed in Adam and Eve would satisfy the 
canons of a not too critical taste. It is studied as to shape 
and place, natural, and carefully wrought in features, articu- 
lations, and extremities. Outlines of such clearness and 


firmness were only possible to men fully cognizant of 
anatomy ; they are never too strongly emphasized, except 
where the artists try their utmost to be true to the model. 
Expression, chastened and serene in some of the more ideal 
figures, is seldom free from vulgarity in those of a lower 
clay ; and if plainness of face does not repel us in a 
St. Christopher, it is strikingly out of place in the Virgin 
or in angels. Drapery is often unequal, — at times ample 
and telling of the under shapes, as in the Eternal and the 
hermits ; at times broken, as in the brocades of the chor- 
isters ; or angular, piled, and superabundant, as in the 

As landscapists, the Van Eycks are not only faultless, 
they are above all praise. The landscapes give that unity 
to the composition which it ought to have derived solely 
from the proper arrangement of the groups. Grand and 
harmonious lines unite the various parts together, and the 
beauty of the distances contrasts with the figures to the 
disadvantage of the latter. The feeling for depth which 
pervades the altar-piece is one of its chief attractions. To 
a certain extent the Van Eycks possessed the rules of 
linear perspective, but the want of its abstract scientific 
principles is but too evident in the Agnus Dei. They 
corrected this want of science by the most judicious and 
admirable use of aerial perspective. They deceived the 
eye by subtly melting tints, so as to interpose air between 
the spectator and the receding distances ; they thus rivalled 
nature in her most beautiful gifts, and achieved what we 
prize in the very best of the later Dutch. They shed 


light round their figures so as to relieve them upon each 
other or upon the landscape ; they projected their shadows 
with consummate art, showing themselves possessed of a 
quality unknown to the followers of their school, rare 
in the Fifteenth Century, and attained in the Sixteenth 
only by artists of the highest powers. The panel of 
St. Christopher may be taken as an example of their skill 
in melting tones to the extreme horizon. That of the 
hermits — a well ordered composition — represents figures 
under leafy overhanging trees, yet preserving their due 
position in the landscape. The interior of the Annuncia- 
tion — too small for the figures — is kept in focus by the 
subtle arrangement of tints and the dexterous play of 
sun through a window, whilst the sense of subdued light 
in a room is rendered in the whitish tones of the flesh. 

The true excellence of the Van Eycks is their excellence 
as colourists. Their picture is in respect of tone perfectly 
beautiful. Some panels are doubtless finer than others, 
but the variation in colour is less marked than the varia- 
tions in drawing. The general intonation is powerful, of 
a brown reddish tinge, full of light yet in a low key, — 
technically considered, of a full body copiously used, with 
a rich vehicle and great blending. 

The labour of the brush is not visible, but the skin and 
complexions have the polish of bronze. The brightest 
lights and the shadows of flesh are high in surface. 
The whole is treated with great breadth of chiaros- 
curo, yet at times with minute detail. In some parts indeed 
the detail is carried out to the detriment of the mass. The 


draperies are more thickly laid in than the flesh, and the 
shadows of the folds project from the panel j the touch is 
everywhere decisive and the accessories are modelled in 
relief. Important as a test of the perfection, to which the 
new system of painting had been brought in the Nether- 
lands is the fact that no portion of the altar-piece gives evi- 
dence of experimental or tentative handling. The parts 
are all treated in the same way i the pigments are mixed 
with oil vehicle and used with a freedom which bespeaks 
consummate practice. It is a strange vagary of history 
that of two painters who lived for a quarter if not for half a 
century, the works should remain wholly unknown to us 
till a period when their style had reached its final expan- 
sion. Here are two artists who mastered the most interest- 
ing problem of any age, who invented a medium subverting 
the old ones in use throughout the world, and yet of whose 
invention we only know the aim and the results. Of the 
pictures in which they first emancipated themselves from 
the traditions of the guilds not a trace j all the preliminary 
steps by which they perfected their discovery are obliterated. 
To which of the two masters shall we ascribe the trials first 
made to replace the old method by a new one ; in what 
respect did the latter differ from the former ? To answer 
these questions with authority is unfortunately beyond the 
power of any writer not furnished with better materials than 
those at present in existence ; but we shall observe in the 
first place that John Van Eyck who lived much later and 
holds a more brilliant position in our eyes than Hubert, was 
also favoured by fortune in this, that though the grave had 


scarcely closed upon him before he was forgotten by his 
countrymen, he was remembered by men in distant lands 
who were not content to know that he had existed, but who 
committed the fact to paper and so handed it down to pos- 




AFTER having transported us into the seraphic and 
infernal realms, Raphael conducts us into the do- 
mains of the Virgin and the Infant Jesus, which he has 
made his own special property. In fact, it is there that he 
has particularly planted his standard j there he is the master 
of masters ; and there we can follow him from one end of 
his life to another. From the Virgin Connestabile (1503) to 
the Sistine Madonna (15 19) what a magnificent develop- 
ment there is of the same thought ! This thought, ever 
diverse and ever new, is expressed again and again by him 
without ever being repeated. Unfortunately none of his 
Umbrian Madonnas (such as the Virgin of the Solly Collec- 
tion, the Countess AlfanPs Virgin^ or the Virgin Connestabile\ 
so naively moved with the chaste emotions of youth, is to 
be found in the Salon Carre, and vain also would be the 
search for one of those Florentine virgins so tenderly 
blooming under the spring-tide influences of the first so- 
journing in Tuscany, such as the Grand Duke^s Virgin, 
Lord Coiupers Virgin, or the Ansidei Madonna. The Belle 
Jardiniere takes us to the close of the year 1507, or into 
the early months of the year 1508, when Raphael, having 



acquired what he wanted to learn from Florence, aspires 
towards Rome, where his genius is to soar to its highest 
pitch. The Belle 'Jardiniere is the song par excellence of 
this pastoral symphony, the harmonious preludes of which 
are the Virgin in the Meadow and the Virgin with the Finch. 
It follows in their train and forms almost the conclusion of 
one of the important chapters in the master's life. 

The Virgin is seated, three quarters full to the left, be- 
tween the Infant Jesus and the little St. John : she has 
ceased looking at her book that still lies open and apparently 
forgotten on her knees. Entirely absorbed in contempla- 
tion of her Son, she is leaning towards him and supporting 
him with both hands. She is as fresh in heart as in coun- 
tenance. Her head is borne gently forward in the direc- 
tion followed by the motion of her body. Her brow is 
serene and fair; her eyes are full of love and suffused with 
sadness; her mouth that wants to smile, notwithstanding 
its sweetness, assumes an expression that is almost austere. 
A veil of gauze is wound in among her blonde tresses that 
are parted in the middle. Her red robe, embroidered with 
black and laced in front, reveals her neck and a little of her 
shoulders ; it would also leave her arms bare, but for yellow 
undersleeves that hide them. A blue mantle thrown over 
her right shoulder falls over and envelops her legs while 
leaving visible her feet, which are bare. This Virgin is 
already far removed from the Madonnas, immobile in their 
mysticism, that had cradled Raphael's childhood. We feel 
Nature palpitating within her. In her physiognomy even, 
there is something personal and individual that betrays the 


living model and makes us suspect a portrait ; but if, before 
this image, our gaze is filled with the charm of life, our 
spirit is none the less penetrated with emotions of grace. 
The Infant Jesus, entirely naked, is standing in front of the 
Virgin. Standing with both feet upon his mother's right 
foot, he raises his head towards her and his eyes are 
beaming with love. The head of the Infant Jesus turned 
to the left is almost in profile. Whilst he supports him- 
self against his mother's knee with his right hand, he 
stretches out his left hand towards the book in the Virgin's 
lap. It is impossible to imagine a sweeter union or more 
intimate communion between the Virgin and the Bam- 
bino. Gazing at his mother, Jesus seems to be desirous of 
telling her of the homage he is receiving from his forerun- 
ner. The little St. John, in fact, clad in the fleece of a 
lamb, that falls from his right shoulder and encircles his 
waist, is bending the knee before his master and fervently 
contemplating him. Viewed in profile from the left, and 
with his body bending forwards, he is leaning upon a cross 
of reed which he holds in his right hand. His hair upon 
his brow is waving like flames ; his lips are praying and his 
eye is brilliant with ardour. Nothing can be more moving 
than the adoration of this little St. John at the sight of the 
truly divine beauty of the Infant Jesus. These three 
figures, united in the same thought, the same sentiment and 
the same love, have each their own separate beauty, and are 
also lovely by a mutual beauty that each sheds over the 

What the picture alone can give is the landscape back- 


ground dominated by the divine group, it is the fresh and 
limpid atmosphere in which dwell the Virgin and the two 
children j it is those beautiful, luminous and profound 
horizons that give birth to hope and promise happiness. 
What a number of things Raphael knows how to get from 
Nature ! How he knows how to make her speak to the 
soul, and how lovely she appears to him in the shadows of 
the infinite beauty of the Virgin and the Word ! " Before 
the New Testament," says Bossuet, " the world was only 
a temple for idols." Thus the Church has attributed to 
the Virgin all the splendours of the regenerated world, and 
popular faith continues through the centuries to fete in 
Mary the dawn of beautiful weather. She is the Lady and 
the Queen of Nature revived by the divine maternity in 
her original dignity. Raphael shows here the Mother of 
the Word modestly seated in the middle of a meadow, in 
which an abundance of plants and flowers are growing. 
Thence arises the name of the Beautiful Gardener by which 
this picture is generally known. Behind the Virgin, the 
planes slope harmoniously, succeeding one another without 
brusque transitions, and gradually leading on the eye with- 
out fatigue and with gentle modulations to the distant 
horizon bathed in light. To the left, a few trees rise 
lightly into the air. Farther away we perceive groves, 
buildings and a lake that leads on its opposite shore to a 
city situated on the banks of limpid waters. Then come 
blue mountains covered with eternal snow, the summits of 
which are lost in the sky. How small everything is in 
comparison with these great works of God ! In them we 


see simplicity with the grandeur, the abundance, the pro- 
fusion and the inexhaustible riches that have cost only one 
word, and that one word sustains. So many beautiful 
objects only show themselves and attract our eyes in order 
to direct our gaze to their incomparably more beautiful 
author. For if men, enchanted with the beauty of the sun 
and the whole world, have been so transported as to make 
gods of them, how is it that they have not thought how far 
more beautiful must be He who has created them and who 
is the father of all beauty ? 

In the work of Raphael, this picture is the achieved 
image of the spring-time of life, the last word of combined 
Umbrian and Florentine aspirations. Under its grace and 
charm lies something austere. The idea of death, and 
death upon the cross, however veiled it may be, leaves a 
somewhat profound impress on the enchantment of this 
religious idyll. 

Does not this picture, that translates the truest sentiments 
in the clearest form, seem to be the product of an almost 
involuntary impulse and a spontaneous outburst ? Does 
not such splendour spring forth of itself as water gushes 
from a spring? One might believe so, and yet genius 
alone does not suffice to give birth to masterpieces ; patient 
study of Nature and prolonged effort of thought are also 
requisite. Nothing can escape the law of labour; — not 
even Raphael. This is proved by the preliminary sketches 
for this picture of the Belle "Jardiniere. Let us look at one 
owned by the Louvre Museum. Here we find Raphael in 
the presence of the living model at the moment in which 


his idea, after already ripe reflection, assumes its almost 
final form especially with regard to the Virgin. The 
maiden, or the young matron, who serves the painter as a 
model is clothed in a tunic that allows nothing to be lost of 
the action of the entire figure. The adjustment of the 
bodice is almost the same as in the picture. Freed of its 
mantle, the figure appears in all its natural elegance. The 
shoulders are more sloping ; the breast is not so full j the 
suppleness of the figure is better felt, as well as the beauti- 
ful lines of the hips, and the action of the arms that is so 
full of abandon. The legs are bare to above the knees. 
Although they were to be draped in the picture, Raphael 
wanted to take precise note of their forms, and with one 
stroke of his pen he has drawn one of those inimitable lines 
that of themselves alone are sufiicient to reveal a master. 
The relations that the three figures bear to one another in 
the picture are not found in the sketch. The Virgin has 
her head turned towards St. John and is looking at him in- 
stead of at Jesus ; whilst the latter instead of gazing at his 
mother bends towards St. John who is kneeling in front of 
him. This design therefore almost reproduces the idea 
already expressed in the Madonna painted for Taddeo 
Taddei (the Madonna in the Meadow) and in the Madonna 
painted for Lorenzo Nasi (the Madonna with the Finch). 
The eye of the spectator, following in the sketch the gaze 
of the Virgin and of the Bambino^ is directed to St. John ; 
whilst, in the picture, it is upon the Infant Jesus that all 
eyes are concentrated, as upon the hearth whence the light 
emanates. Without doubt, other sketches had preceded 


this one, as others followed it. They show what a masterly 
gradation the painter's idea passed through, and how the 
picturesque expression increased by being simplified; that 
is to say, by advancing more and more towards perfection. 

The Belle "Jardiniere belongs to Raphael's last stay in 
Florence. This is incontestable, since Raphael has signed 
and dated his picture on the border of the Virgin's robe. 

According to Vasari's commentators, the Belle 'Jardiniere 
was ordered from Raphael by Messer Filippo Sergardi, a 
Siennese noble, from whom Francis I. purchased it. What 
is certain is that Father Dan mentions it in the Tresors des 
Merveilles de Fontainebleau in 1652, and that Bailly men- 
tions it in the Inventaire des tableaux du Roy in 1709. 
From the Cabinet des M'edailles^ at Versailles, it passed to 
the Louvre, and justice has been done to it by giving it a 
place of honour in the Salon Carre. 




FLORENCE has the Uffizi, and the Louvre has the 
Salon Carre^ but the Doria Palace attracts its visitors 
by the portrait of Innocent X. A picture presumably by 
Raphael, some authentic works by Fra Bastiano del Piombo, 
Quentin Matsys and Hans Memling call for attention not 
far from the image of Gio-Battista Panfili, elected successor 
to Urbain VIIL Sept. 15, 1644; but none eclipses the 
work of Velasquez. 

This canvas is celebrated beyond all others. It is not 
comparable, however, to Raphael's portrait of Leo X. or to 
Titian's of Paul III. Velasquez, pintor de camara, the 
special painter of Philip IV., a man without a rival, per- 
haps, in the stern and easy translation of nature, never 
knew that mental anguish, that glorious supplication of the 
artist who pursues the ideal. Such was not really the aim 
that Velasquez imposed upon himself. He loved nature, 
he fed upon her, penetrating her most hidden secrets, and 
surrounding everything with elevated thought ; distinction 
and nobility were to him native virtues. But if he tried to 
produce the illusion of reality, — that was his only ambition. 
He showed the character of his model j he wished to 


reproduce it with the rarest science j but as for the 
interpretation of a visible form to that which consti- 
tutes the creative faculty of the painter, Velasquez pays 
no heed. 

However, if we take him in his own domain without 
asking him to pass its boundaries, the painter of Philip IV. 
is a master that no one has surpassed. The accent, the 
brilliancy, the movement, the life, and the light, all that 
is imposing or that radiates by effect, magnificence, and 
a picturesque style finds in Velasquez a man always 
clever in mingling the tones with quantity and suitable 

Let us proceed. Such an artist deserves to be studied. 
Who was his master ? The biographers name the savage 
Herrera the Elder, then the amiable Pacheco. 

But we are not mistaken in saying that the young painter 
followed Poussin's methods. Do you remember the anec- 
dote ? Vigneul-Marville relates it. " I saw him often," 
he wrote of Poussin, " among the ruins of ancient Rome, 
in the country, or upon the banks of the Tiber, sketching 
a landscape that pleased him, and I have met him with his 
handkerchief filled with stones, moss or flowers which he 
carried home to paint after nature." Vigneul-Marville adds 
that one day he was bold enough to ask Poussin by what 
means he had reached perfection. And Poussin replied : 
" I have neglected nothing." 

No one has told us that Velasquez has given the 
same testimony, but Cean Bermudez has shown him to us, 
applying himself to the painting of birds, fish, fruit and 




flowers. Are we then so far removed from the stones and 
moss that Poussin endeavoured to render with his brush ? 
Nature so untiringly interrogated and scrutinized in the 
smallest details, was, in reality, the instructor of Velasquez. 
He remained her attentive, patient and persistent pupil. A 
renown, undisputed for two centuries, has rewarded him for 
this cult of nature. 

Wc may assume that the certainty of touch that dis- 
tinguishes him came from Herrera. As for Pacheco, whose 
daughter Juana he married when he was but twenty-two, he 
was not without his value. About 1620, Pacheco's studio 
seems to have been something like those of Horace Vernet 
and Pradier in our time. The painters, poets and story- 
writers of Seville congregated there. Cervantes was a con- 
stant visitor. Why should Velasquez not have acquired or 
developed there the moral qualities, the distinction of man- 
ner, and the polished mind that made him liked by Philip 
IV. and the eminent men of his time .? 

Having come from Seville to Madrid at the age of twenty- 
three, Velasquez scarcely had time to paint a single portrait 
before the king asked him to represent him on horseback in 
the country. The painter acquitted himself of the king's 
command with so much cleverness that he made a lasting 
conquest of that prince's good favour. His high fortune 
never pufFed him up. The masterpieces that he produced 
without any apparent effort are numerous, but it does not 
seem that the painter was conceited about them. He con- 
tinued kind and appreciative of the merits of others. Have 
we not in the Louvre, by Velasquez, the portraits of thir- 


teen personages grouped upon the same canvas, and who 
are supposed to be artists of merit, friends and contempo- 
raries of the painter ? He himself is represented among his 
peers, and Murillo, his pupil, is beside him. 

Rubens came to Madrid. He brought some presents to 
Philip IV. from the Duke of Mantua. Curious coincidence 
— the master of ceremonies in the royal chamber was no 
other than Velasquez. That is how the two masters came 
into contact. They became friends at the first meeting. 
Rubens asked the king's painter about the Italian masters. 
Velasquez had never travelled except from Seville to Mad- 
rid. Rubens begged his friend to see Titian, Correggio and 
Raphael. And are not these two the descendants of those 
divine men ? Velasquez followed Rubens's advice : he left 
for Venice, Parma and Ferrara. In Rome Urban VIII. 
offered him the hospitality of the Vatican. His trip was a 
triumph, but the vogue that he enjoyed and the honours 
that he received did not distract him from his art. This 
master copied masters. He made himself a disciple. The 
days that he devoted to the works of Raphael and Tintoret 
were too short. From time to time, however, Velasquez 
turned from those works that absorbed him and entirely 
created the pictures Joseph's Coat and the Forge of Vulcan. 
Notwithstanding the surrounding influences, these works 
are Velasquez. Italy fascinated him without subtracting 
from his personal qualities. 

He returned. The restless Philip IV. was contented. His 
painter was still his painter. He heaped titles, attentions 
gnd friendship upon him. During this time Velasquez was 


accumulating fine works in the king's palaces j he was the 
portrait-painter of the court and of the grandees of Spain. 
From fifteen to eighteen years of the master's life thus 
elapsed. Uninterrupted labour assured him repeated suc- 
cesses. Suddenly news was noised abroad that Paris was 
about to endow a royal academy of painting. Philip IV. 
got excited. He was not willing to be outdistanced by 
Anne of Austria and Mazarin in the domain of art. Spain 
should have her Academy. Pictures by great masters, 
antiques and rare treasures capable of forming the taste of 
students and of the public must ornament the rooms of the 
projected institute. But who shall be the man of taste and 
knowledge to select these treasures in the country of all 
wealth, — Italy ? Velasquez is the one ambassador capable 
of managing successfully the difficult negotiation meditated 
by the King of Spain. The court painter sailed from 
Malaga in November, 1648. They dropped anchor at 
Genoa. Velasquez again saw Venice, Milan, Parma, and 
Modena. Travelling about, he acquired treasures and tried 
to persuade the famous painters that he met to accompany 
him to Spain. In 1630, he had asked thirteen of the great- 
est artists of the period — among whom was our Poussin — to 
execute a work for his master, the king. Let us emphasize 
this trait. It shows a man who suspects no envy and who 
delights in bringing the works of his rivals to light in his 
own country. At Modena, he was received with magnifi- 
cence. It was then that Velasquez made up his mind to 
avoid ovations by travelling incognito ; and the painter of 
Philip IV. escaped in a stage to Naples. 


Informed of Velasquez's presence upon Italian soil, Inno- 
cent X. called him to Rome. In vain was the artist dismayed 
by triumphs. The urgent demands of the Pope would not 
permit the artist to keep him waiting. He arrived. The 
entertainments began. The pontiff, and following his ex- 
ample, the cardinals disputed the honour of having him. 
However, the brilliancy of these tiresome receptions, the 
marbles and the canvases that Velasquez, as a clever nego- 
tiator, acquired for his prince, the painters, the sculptors 
and the workers in bronze, who, fascinated by his speech, 
followed him to Spain, — in a word, the complete success 
of his delicate mission remain eclipsed in renown by the 
portrait that he painted at the Vatican. 

It is not a portrait, it is a symphony. The picture ac- 
companying these lines renders it unnecessary to describe the 
pose of Innocent X. But that which this picture does not 
show, that which one always remembers, if he has seen 
the work of Velasquez in the second gallery of the Doria 
Palace and of which we must speak, is the colour of this 
strange and marvellous portrait. The Pope, himself very 
ruddy, wears upon his head the red clementine ; the camail 
is red ; red also the armchair and the draperies of the back- 
ground. Is the canvas then a monochrome ? You would 
never think so. The painter of Philip IV. seized the nuances 
and knew how to combine tones with a boldness of touch in 
defiance of rules. The drapery forming the background is 
damask of an old-fashioned garnet; upon this background 
stand out the cap and the ruby-coloured camail, but still more 
brilliant is the face of Innocent X. the almost glowing ruddi- 


ness of which dominates the whole picture. Life, a life 
intense, vibrates beneath this mask, where artfulness and 
some hardness are not absent. The fine and compressed 
lips attest the blood of the personage ; the large forehead 
is that of a man of thought. The aristocratic hands are 
life itself; the tapering fingers, lightly fidgeting upon the 
white material of the rochet, make one think of the claws 
of a bird. But the flexible cheeks, of rich red and white, 
showing strength and exuberance and the brilliant, domina- 
ting and incisive eye are treated with an authoritative art 
and create illusion. Such is, in reality, the result of the 
painter's stratagem. Velasquez carried to its farthest point 
the perception of the real, and this rare faculty has made 
him the prince of naturalists. The eye is still further de- 
ceived on account of the setting the owners of the portrait 
of Innocent X. have used of late years. The canvas is 
exhibited upon a dais, at the extremity of a long gallery, 
and just as far as you can see it, the pontiff fixes his hawk's 
eye upon you and follows your every movement. This is 
not an effigy that engages your attention, it is a man who 
is sitting down yonder and is watching you. 

Palomino relates that Philip IV., entering Velasquez's 
studio one day when the painter was about to finish the 
portrait of the great admiral, Adrian Pulido Pareja : " You 
here," said the king walking straight up to the picture, 
" what are you doing here? Did I not give you command 
of the fleet ? Why are you not at your post ? " Then 
turning towards the painter : " My son," said the king, 
"you have deceived me." If Philip IV. had found himself 


at Rome in 1648, when the portrait of Innocent X. had 
the honour of a procession and coronation by acclamation 
of the enthusiastic people, he would have prostrated him- 
self to place his lips upon the Pope's toe. 


{Frans Hals) 


I DO not know if it would be possible to experience in 
a matter of art, an impression at once more singular 
and disquieting than that felt by a stranger visiting Haarlem 
for the first time. He has hardly left the railway before he 
seems to have entered into a sleeping town. The Kruis- 
straat opens before him, a long and absolutely deserted per- 
spective. To right and left, the empty streets ofFer to 
the caressing sunlight their brick pavements, so neat and 
bright that it seems as if they cannot have been trodden 
upon for many years. The slimy waves of the canals that 
he crosses by means of neat little bridges appear to sleep 
in the shadow of the great beeches. In proportion as he 
approaches the centre of the village, this strange feeling of 
isolation and this impression of solitude become more in- 
tense. After having fathomed with his glance the depths 
of the Market Place and he raps with the knocker of the 
Stadhuis^ it seems to him that he is in the land of the 
Sleeping Beauty. But the door turns silently upon its 
hinges. A mute personage admits and precedes him. Fol- 
lowing him, our visitor ascends several steps, and immedi- 
ately finds himself opposite the pictures of Frans Hals, — 


that is to say before an exuberance of noisy and dissolute 

Never was there produced a more striking and impress- 
ive contrast. With a perplexed mind, one asks if these 
pictures of wild life could have been produced in this very 
proper and curiously drowsy city, and if the painter has not 
traduced nature outrageously. No, Frans Hals has traduced 
nothing. He did nothing but translate joyously what his 
eyes rested upon ; for, during the first years of the Seven- 
teenth Century, Haarlem bore very little resemblance to the 
pleasant and soporific town through which we have just 

Then it was a brilliant agglomeration, surrounded with 
solid ramparts and animated with warlike and querulous 
sentiments, and, consequently, was just as noisy as it is now 
quiet, and as wide-awake as it is now somnolent. Around 
Saint-Bavon, so solitary to-day, bursts of loud laughter 
made the windows of the taverns and gaming-houses ring. 
The Pelican, the Golden Grape, the Bastard Pipe, the 
Rhine, the Draw-Net, and the Golden Fleece, succeeded 
one another with an assortment of dandies of every kind 
and appearance, and overflowed with thirsty customers who 
came in to moisten their mirth under the shadow of the 
gigantic signs. Everywhere there reigned an assiduous and 
fecund activity. It was really from 1570 to 1630 that 
most of the public edifices that adorn the town — churches, 
gateways, the town-hall, and market were built, as well as 
the greater number of the pleasing houses whose smart 
facades, combining their warm tones of brick with those 


of Stone, stand out with their toothed gables from the 

Haarlem, at this far-away period, was above all a home 
of art and great intellectual work. The heroic siege that 
she had so valiantly supported in 1572, had made her name 
known throughout the whole of Europe. Her Chambers 
of Rhetoric were celebrated throughout the Low Countries. 
In the domain of painting, she remembered with pride the 
friendship that had united Thierry Bouts and Jan van Eyck, 
and took care not to forget the rank that the Haarlem 
painters, Aalbert van Oudewater and Geraard van Sint- 
lans, held among the forerunners of Dutch art. Finally, 
she claimed for another of her children, Laurent Coster, 
the invention of printing. This was more than was even 
necessary to assure the renown of an active and valiant 
city. Then when, after the religious wars, the Flemings 
began to emigrate towards the north, those who prided 
themselves upon art and literature, took by choice the route 
to Haarlem. It was there that Van de Veldes, Goltzius, 
Karel van Mander, who was to become, in consequence, 
the master of Frans Hals, and Frans Hals himself 

The latter was not really born in Haarlem. His father, 
Pieter Hals, belonged, it is true, to an old family of the 
country ; and had indeed been alderman of the town, 
which he left for some reason that nobody knows. He 
settled in Flanders, and Frans was born in Antwerp in 
1584. Our painter, however, soon returned to Haarlem, 
apparently about the age of sixteen or seventeen years, for 


Van Mander with whom he studied for three or four years 
left the Low Country about 1603 and died about 1606. 

What influence did the brilliant personality of Van 
Mander exercise upon the talent of our artist ? No one 
would ever think of settling this. A scholar fascinated by 
everything Italian, an amateur of classic antiquity raised 
by the Renaissance into the cult of Form, in the usage of 
emblems, and an admirer of obscure allegories and jeux 
d' esprit. Van Mander was not merely contented with be- 
ing a " distinguished " painter. Poet and litterateur., he had 
translated Homer, Ovid and Virgil, and had written some 
aesthetic treatises and biographies of the painters of his day. 
Beyond the instruction in the technique of an art which he 
possessed to its depths, what effect would this disciple of 
the Rhetoricians have upon an artist of such an astounding 
personality as Frans Hals, upon so bold a painter, disdain- 
ful of old formulae and engrossed beyond all else in per- 
ceiving and fixing the vibrant realities of life in their most 
evanescent manifestations ? 

Very well ! Frans Hals owes perhaps to this old master 
one of his most precious qualities, — that attractive and gal- 
lant humour that each knew how to preserve under the 
hardest trials, and which, with our painter not only tri- 
umphed over the material difficulties of a life often pre- 
carious, but also above that Calvinistic prudery, that studied 
gravity, and that outward formality for which the Dutch 
have invented the name Deftigheid, which has no equivalent 
in any other language. 

It is to this gay, indefatigable humour that he owes his 


perfect eclecticism and that determined resolution to seize 
everywhere life as it offered itself to his eyes without 
prejudice, and without distinction or cultivation, and with- 
out exclusive preferences. Rich lords and prisoners for 
debts, ladies of high degree and repulsive shrews. Catholic 
priests and Protestant ministers, grave historians and ad- 
venturers, civic guardsmen and frequenters of taverns, 
patrons of hospitals and unfortunates of all habits, — his 
brush was always eager to give the same attention to each. 
He was as ready to caress the disgusting Hille-Bobe as 
the lovely young lady of Beresteyn. He showered im- 
mortality upon criminal buffoons, and rotten-toothed swag- 
gerers, with the same care and the same joy that he fixed 
for posterity the features of Voetius or Descartes. 

But it seems as if I am wandering, it is not a study of 
Frans Hals that is wanted of me, not an analysis of his 
vigorous talent, but a simple description of his picture. 
It is true that this work is one of the most interest- 
ing that the Seventeenth Century has produced and that 
it occupies a particularly important place in the life of the 
master. It is the largest, and perhaps the most beautiful 
of his " civic " pictures. 

This great canvas, which measures 2 metres by 3"", 30, 
contains no less than fourteen figures, all of magnificent 
carriage, of marvellous life and character, of a striking 
resemblance, where are to be found portrayed with a rare 
precision, not only the features of each personage, but his 
character, his temperament, his condition and his age. It 
is indeed this astonishing resemblance which imprints upon 


this picture its true distinction ; for it was not in the mind 
of the painter, nor in his intention, to make a page 
of history. He wished simply to paint a collection of 

All these handsome lords are citizen soldiers. Instead 
of being represented at the table, as was the custom of the 
time, they asked the painter to reproduce their likenesses in 
the garden of their place of reunion — their Doelen. Each 
one posed alone, and wished not only to be painted to the 
life, but in the position and place assigned to him in the 
company according to fortune and rank; and the painter 
has naively and faithfully conformed to that singular re- 
quest. Therefore, notice how each of these pacific heroes 
is here on his own account. Even those who are con- 
versing address themselves to the spectator, exactly like 
actors at the theatre. Several of them are speaking, but 
not one of them listens, being absorbed in his own role and 
paying no attention to that of his neighbour. The result 
of this singular arrangement is that the composition lacks 
unity. Cut the canvas in two, just beyond the handsome 
lieutenant, Johan Schatter, who, standing up, with his hand 
upon his heart, seems to be addressing some burning decla- 
ration to an unknown lady visitor, and you will have two 
distinct pictures, each possessing its elements of easy group- 
ing and each presenting its individual interest. 

What contribute, moreover, to giving this work its sig- , 
nificance, are the numbers placed over each of the figures 
and which refer us to a kind of key arranged so that no one 
will ignore it, to inform the curious of the names, titles and 


qualities of these handsome personages. This vast canvas 
upon which triumphant vanity is so pompously exhibited 
might have been frightfully ridiculous. Imagine a reunion 
of national guards under the reign of Louis Philippe inter- 
preted by a contemporary painter ! But MM. the Klove- 
niers presented themselves before an artist of genius, and 
their portraits make an imperishable chef d^oeuvre. 

This great scene, disconnected as a composition, is really 
incomparable in its unity and harmony of colour. With- 
out being any freer than he is in many other of his vv'orks, 
— and no one could say that the Graces have been invoked 
for it, — the bold and ingenious touch of the painter shows 
itself here lighter and more careful than usual. The 
modelling is more supple, softer, and less brutal. The per- 
sonages, magnificently posed and sumptuously clothed in 
their multicoloured doublets, their scarfs of orange, white, 
or blue, their large rufFs, their cufFs, their hats, their pikes, 
and their swords, stand out from a background of red roofs 
and sombre verdure, where grey, olive-green and light yel- 
low bring out the values of the more vigorous tones of the 
background. But if all these happy combinations which 
reveal a colourist of the first rank did not exist, the work 
would still be admirable for the glowing life that animates 
all these heads, and for the incomparable way in which the 
hands are treated. And it is thus that a painter of genius 
accomplishes a superb work on a most ungrateful theme 
and one best calculated to discourage his fancy. 




IT is not, however, from the shore that Turner usually 
studies his sea. Seen from the land, the curl of the 
breakers, even in nature, is somewhat uniform and monoto- 
nous ; the size of the waves out at sea is uncomprehended, 
and those nearer the eye seem to succeed and resemble 
each other, to move slowly to the beach, and to break in 
the same lines and forms. 

Afloat even twenty yards from the shore, we receive a 
totally different impression. Every wave around us ap- 
pears vast, — every one different from all the rest — and the 
breakers present, now that we see them with their backs 
towards us, the grand, extended, and varied lines of curva- 
ture, which are perfectly expressive both of velocity and 
power. Recklessness, before unfelt, is manifested in the 
mad, perpetual, changeful, undirected motion, not of wave 
after wave as it appears from the shore, but of the very 
same water rising and falling. Of waves that successively 
approach and break, each appears to the mind a separate 
individual, whose part being performed, it perishes, and is 
succeeded by another; and there is nothing in this to im- 
press us with the idea of restlessness, any more than in any 

. < 


successive and continuous functions of life and death. But 
it is when we perceive that it is no succession of wave, but 
the same water rising, and crashing, and recoiling, and 
rolling in again in new forms and with fresh fury, that we 
perceive the perturbed spirit and feel the intensity of its 
unwearied rage. The sensation of power is also trebled ; 
for not only is the vastness of apparent size much increased, 
but the whole action is different ; it is not a passive wave 
rolling sleepily forward until it tumbles heavily, prostrated 
upon the beach, but a sweeping exertion of tremendous and 
living strength, which does not now appear to fall^ but to 
burst upon the shore ; which never perishes, but recoils 
and recovers. 

Aiming at these grand characters of the Sea, Turner al- 
most always places the spectator, not on the shore, but 
twenty or thirty yards from it, beyond the first range of the 
breakers, as in the Land's End, Fowey, Dunbar and Laug- 
harne. The latter has been well engraved, and may be 
taken as a standard of the expression of fitfulness and 
power. The grand division of the whole space of the sea 
by a few dark continuous furrows of tremendous swell, 
(the breaking of one of which alone has strewed the rocks 
in front with ruin), furnishes us with an estimate of space 
and strength, which at once reduces the men upon the 
shore to insects ; and yet through this terrific simplicity 
there is indicated a fitfulness and fury in the tossing of the 
individual lines, which give to the whole sea a wild, un- 
wearied, reckless incoherency, like that of an enraged multi- 
tude, whose masses act together in frenzy, while not one 


individual feels as another. Especial attention is to be 
directed to the flatness of all the lines, for the same 
principle holds in sea which we have seen in mountains. 
All the size and sublimity of nature are given not by the 
height, but by the breadth of her masses : and Turner, by 
following her in her sweeping lines, while he does not lose 
the elevation of its surges, adds in a tenfold degree to their 
power : farther, observe the peculiar expression of weight 
which there is in Turner's waves, precisely of the same 
kind which we saw in his water-fall. We have not a cut- 
ting, springing, elastic line — no jumping or leaping in the 
waves : that is the characteristic of Chelsea Reach or 
Hampstead Ponds in a storm. But the surges roll and 
plunge with such prostration and hurling of their mass 
against the shore, that we feel the rocks are shaking under 
them ; and, to add yet more to this impression, observe 
how little, comparatively, they are broken by the wind ; 
above the floating wood, and along the shore, we have indi- 
cation of a line of torn spray ; but it is a mere fringe along 
the ridge of the surge, — no interference with its gigantic 
body. The wind has no power over its tremendous unity 
of force and weight. Finally, observe how, on the rocks 
on the left, the violence and swiftness of the rising wave 
are indicated by precisely the same lines which we saw 
were indicative of fury in the torrent. The water on these 
rocks is the body of the wave which has just broken, rush- 
ing up over them ; and in doing so, like the torrent, it does 
not break, nor foam, nor part upon the rock, but accommo- 
dates itself to every one of its swells and hollows, with 


undulating lines, whose grace and variety might alone serve 
us for a day's study ; and it is only where two streams of 
this rushing water meet in the hollow of the rock, that 
their force is shown by the vertical bound of the spray. 

In the distance of this grand picture, there are two waves 
which entirely depart from the principle observed by all the 
rest, and spring high into the air. They have a message 
for us which it is important that we should understand. 
Their leap is not a preparation for breaking, neither is it 
caused by their meeting with a rock. It is caused by their 
encounter with the recoil of the preceding wave. When a 
large surge, in the act of breaking, just as it curls over, is 
hurled against the face either of a wall or of a vertical rock, 
the sound of the blow is not a crash nor a roar ; it is a report 
as loud as, and in every respect similar to that of a great 
gun, and the wave is dashed back from the rock with force 
scarcely diminished, but reversed in direction, — it now 
recedes from the shore, and at the instant that it encounters 
the following breaker, the result is the vertical bound of 
both which is here rendered by Turner. Such a recoiling 
wave will proceed out to sea, through ten or twelve ranges 
of following breakers, before it is overpowered. The 
effect of the encounter is more completely and palpably 
given in the Quilleboeuf, in the Rivers of France. It is 
peculiarly instructive here, as informing us of the nature 
of the coast, and the force of the waves, far more clearly 
than any spray about the rocks themselves could have 
done. But the effect of the blow at the shore itself is 
given in the Land's End, and vignette to Lycidas. Under 


favorable circumstances, with an advancing tide under a 
heavy gale, where the breakers feel the shore underneath 
them a moment before they touch the rock, so as to nod 
over when they strike, the effect is nearly incredible, 
except to an eye-witness. I have seen the whole body 
of the wave rise in one white, vertical, broad fountain, 
eighty feet above the sea, half of it beaten so fine as to be 
borne away by the wind, the rest turning in the air when 
exhausted, and falling back with a weight and crash like 
that of an enormous waterfall. This is given most com- 
pletely in the Lycidas^ and the blow of a less violent wave 
among broken rocks, not meeting it with an absolute wall, 
along the shore of the Land's End. This last picture is a 
study of sea whose whole organization has been broken up 
by constant recoils from a rocky coast. The Laugharne 
gives the surge and weight of the ocean in a gale, on a 
comparatively level shore ; but the Land's End, the entire 
disorder of the surges when every one of them, divided and 
entangled among promontories as it rolls in, and beaten 
back part by part from walls of rock on this side and that 
side, recoils like the defeated division of a great army, 
throwing all behind it into disorder, breaking up the 
succeeding waves into vertical ridges, which in their turn, 
yet more totally shattered upon the shore, retire in more 
hopeless confusion, until the whole surface of the sea 
becomes one dizzy whirl of rushing, writhing, tortured, 
undirected rage, bounding, and crashing, and coiling in an 
anarchy of enormous power, subdivided into myriads of 
waves, of which every one is not, be it remembered, a 


separate surge, but part and portion of a vast one, actuated 
by internal power, and giving in every direction the 
mighty undulation of impetuous line which glides over the 
rocks and writhes in the wind, overwhelming the one and 
piercing the other with the form, fury, and swiftness of a 
sheet of lambent fire. And throughout the rendering of all 
this, there is not one false curve given, not one which is 
not the perfect expression of visible motion ; and the forms 
of the infinite sea are drawn throughout with that utmost 
mastery of art which, through the deepest study of every 
line, makes every line appear the wildest child of chance, 
while yet each is in itself a subject and a picture different 
from all else around. Of the colour of this magnificent 
sea I have before spoken ; it is a solemn green grey, (with 
its foam seen dimly through the darkness of twilight), 
modulated with the fulness, changefulness, and sadness of a 
deep, wild melody. 

The greater number of Turner's paintings of open sea 
belong to a somewhat earlier period than these drawings ; 
nor, generally speaking, are they of equal value. It appears 
to me that the artist had at that time either less knowledge 
of, or less delight in, the characteristics of deep water than 
of coast sea, and that, in consequence, he suffered himself 
to be influenced by some of the qualities of the Dutch sea- 
painters. In particular he borrowed from them the habit 
of casting a dark shadow on the near waves, so as to bring 
out a stream of light behind ; and though he did this in a 
more legitimate way than they, that is to say, expressing 
the light by touches on the foam, and indicating the shadow 


as cast on foamy surface, still the habit has induced much 
feebleness and conventionality in the pictures of the period. 
His drawing of the waves was also somewhat petty and 
divided, small forms covered with white flat spray, a con- 
dition which I doubt not the artist has seen on some of the 
shallow Dutch seas, but which I have never met with my- 
self, and of the rendering of which therefore I cannot speak. 
Yet even in these, which I think among the poorest works 
of the painter, the expressions of breeze, motion, and light, 
are very marvellous ; and it is instructive to compare them 
either with the lifeless works of the Dutch themselves, or 
with any modern imitations of them, as for instance with 
the seas of Callcott, where all the light is white and all the 
shadows grey, where no distinction is made between water 
and foam, or between real and reflective shadow, and which are 
generally without evidence of the artists' having seen the sea. 
Some pictures, however, belonging to this period of 
Turner are free from the Dutch infection, and show the 
real power of the artist. A very important one is in the 
possession of Lord Francis Egerton, somewhat heavy in its 
forms, but remarkable for the grandeur of distance obtained 
at the horizon ; a much smaller, but more powerful example 
is the Port Ruysdael in the possession of E. Bicknell, Esq., 
with which I know of no work at all comparable for the 
expression of the white, wild, cold, comfortless waves of 
northern sea, even though the sea is almost subordinate to 
the awful rolling clouds. Both these pictures are very 
. grey. The Pas de Calais has more colour, and shows more 
art than either, yet is less impressive. Recently, two 


marines of the same subdued colour have appeared (1843) 
among his more radiant works. One, Ostend, somewhat 
forced and affected, but the other, also called Port Ruysdael, 
is among the most perfect sea pictures he has produced, and 
especially remarkable as being painted without one marked 
opposition either of colour or of shade, all quiet and simple 
even to an extreme, so that the picture was exceedingly 
unattractive at first sight. The shadow of the pier-head on 
the near waves is marked solely by touches indicative of 
reflected light, and so mysteriously that when the picture is 
seen near, it is quite untraceable, and comes into existence 
as the spectator retires. It is thus of peculiar truth and 
value ; and instructive as a contrast to the dark shadows of 
his earlier time. 

Few people, comparatively, have ever seen the effect on 
the sea of a powerful gale continued without intermission 
for three or four days and nights, and to those who have 
not, I believe it must be unimaginable, not from the mere 
force or size of surge, but from the complete annihilation 
of the limit between sea and air. The water from its 
prolonged agitation is beaten, not into mere creaming foam, 
but into masses of accumulated yeast,^ which hang in ropes 

*The yeasty waves of Shakespeare have made the likeness familiar, 
and probably most readers take the expression as merely equivalent to 
" foamy " ; but Shakespeare knew better. Sea-foam does not, under ordi- 
nary circumstances, last a moment after it is formed, but disappears, as 
above described, in a mere white film. But the foam of a prolonged 
tempest is altogether different; it is "whipped" foam, — thick, permanent, 
and, in a foul or discoloured sea, very ugly, especially in the way it hangs 
about the tops of the waves, and gathers into clotted concretions before 
the driving wind. The sea looks truly working or fermenting. 


and wreaths from wave to wave, and where one curls over 
to break, form a festoon like a drapery, from its edge ; these 
are taken up by the wind, not in dissipating dust, but 
bodily, in writhmg, hanging, coiling masses, which make 
the air white and thick as with snow, only the flakes are 
a foot or two long each j the surges themselves are full 
of foam in their very bodies, underneath, making them 
white all through, as the water is under a great cataract j 
and their masses, being thus half water and half air, are 
torn to pieces by the wind whenever they rise, and carried 
away in roaring smoke, which chokes and strangles like 
actual water. Add to this, that when the air has been 
exhausted of its moisture by long rain, the spray of the 
sea is caught by it and covers its surface not merely with 
the smoke of finely divided water, but with boiling mist ; 
imagine also the low rain-clouds brought down to the 
very level of the sea, as I have often seen them, whirling 
and flying in rags and fragments from wave to wave ; and 
finally, conceive the surges themselves in their utmost 
pitch of power, velocity, vastness, and madness, lifting 
themselves in precipices and peaks, furrowed with their 
whirl of ascent, through all this chaos ; and you will under- 
stand that there is indeed no distinction left between the 
sea and air ; that no object, nor horizon, nor any landmark 
or natural evidence of position is left ; that the heaven is 
all spray, and the ocean all cloud, and that you can see no 
farther in any direction than you could see through a cata- 
ract. Suppose the effect of the first sunbeam sent from 
above to show this annihilation to itself, and you have the 


sea picture of the Academy, 1842 — the Snow-storm, one 
of the very grandest statements of sea-motion, mist, and 
light that has ever been put on canvas, even by Turner. 
Of course it was not understood ; his finest works never 
are ; but there was some apology for the public's not com- 
prehending this, for few people have had the opportunity 
of seeing the sea at such a time, and when they have, can- 
not face it. To hold by a mast or a rock, and watch it, 
is a prolonged endurance of drowning which few people 
have courage to go through. To those who have it is one 
of the noblest lessons of nature. 

But, I think, the noblest sea that Turner has ever 
painted, and, if so, the noblest certainly ever painted by 
man, is that of the Slave Ship, the chief Academy picture 
of the Exhibition of 1840. It is a sunset on the Atlantic 
after prolonged storm ; but the storm is partially lulled, 
and the torn and streaming rain-clouds are moving in 
scarlet lines to lose themselves in the hollow of the night. 
The whole surface of sea included in the picture is divided 
into two ridges of enormous swell, not high, nor local, but 
a low, broad heaving of the whole ocean, like the lifting 
of its bosom by deep drawn breath after the torture of the 
storm. Between these two ridges, the fire of the sunset 
falls along the trough of the sea, dyeing it with an awful 
but glorious light, the intense and lurid splendour which 
burns like gold and bathes like blood. Along this fiery 
path and valley, the tossing waves by which the swell of 
the sea is restlessly divided, lift themselves in dark, indefi- 
nite, fantastic forms, each casting a faint and ghastly 


shadow behind it along the illumined foam. They do not 
rise everywhere, but three or four together in wild groups, 
fitfully and furiously, as the under strength of the swell 
compels or permits them ; leaving between them treacher- 
ous spaces of level and whirling water, now lighted with 
green and lamp-like fire, now flashing back the gold of the 
declining sun, now fearfully dyed from above with the in- 
distinguishable images of the burning clouds which fall 
upon them in flakes of crimson and scarlet, and give to 
the reckless waves the added motion of their own fiery 
flying. Purple and blue, the lurid shadows of the hollow 
breakers are cast upon the mist of the night, which gathers 
cold and low, advancing like the shadow of death upon the 
guilty ^ ship as it labours amidst the lightning of the sea, 
its thin masts written upon the sky in lines of blood, girded 
with condemnation in that fearful hue which signs the sky 
with horror, and mixes its flaming flood with the sunlight, 
— and cast far along the desolate heave of the sepulchral 
waves, incarnadines the multitudinous sea. 

I believe if I were reduced to rest Turner's immortality 
upon any single work, I should choose this. Its daring 
conception — ideal in the highest sense of the word — is based 
on the purest truth, and wrought out with the contrasted 
knowledge of a life ; its colour is absolutely perfect, not 
one false or morbid hue in any part or line, and so modu- 
lated that every square inch of canvas is a perfect composi- 
tion ; its drawing as accurate as fearless ; the ship buoyant, 

iShe is a slaver, throwing her slaves overboard. The near sea is 
encumbered with corpses. 

THE SLAVE SfflP 10 1 

bending, and full of motion ; its tones as true as they are 
wonderful;* and the whole picture dedicated to the most 
sublime of subjects and impressions — (completing thus the 
perfect system of all truth, which we have shown to be 
formed by Turner's works) — the power, majesty, and death- 
fulness of the open, deep, illimitable Sea. 

' There is a piece of tone of the same kind, equal in one part, but not 
so united with the rest of the picture, in the storm scene illustrative of 
the Antiquary, — a sunlight on polished sea. I ought to have particularly 
mentioned the sea in the Lowestoffe, as a piece of the cutting motion of 
shallow water, under storm, altogether in grey, which should be espe- 
cially contrasted, as a piece of colour, with the greys of Vandevelde. And 
the sea in the Great Yarmouth should have been noticed for its expression 
of water in violent agitation, seen in enormous extent from a great eleva- 
tion. There is almost every form of sea in it, — rolling waves dashing on 
the pier — successive breakers rolling to the shore — a vast horizon of mul- 
titudinous waves — and winding canals of calm water along the sands 
bringing fragments of bright sky down into their yellow waste. There is 
hardly one of the views of the Southern Coast which does not give some 
new condition or circumstance of sea. 




WITH the Virgin of the Chair we arrive at the cul- 
minating point of Raphael's thought. All that is 
beautiful upon earth is only a veil intended to temper the 
brilliance of eternal beauty. Having reached the apogee 
of his powers, Raphael seems to lift this veil and see God 
face to face. In the Madonna della Tenda^ he attempted to 
show the Virgin, the Infant Jesus and the little St. John in 
the midst of luxury and magnificence. This attempt, al- 
though a happy one, did not yet completely satisfy him, and 
moreover, he left to one of his pupils the task of doing 
part of it. But almost immediately, he again took up the 
same idea, isolated it still more from the vulgar and acci- 
dental conditions of life, considered it this time as a pure 
abstraction, and, disengaging it from all secondary attrac- 
tion, relied upon himself for the task of formulating it 
definitely. The Virgin of the Chair is the product of the 
inspiration of a unique moment, and is like a ray of light 
that marks one of the three summits upon which Raphael 
has placed the Mother of the Word. On the first of these 
peaks we see the Virgin of the Candelabra ; the Virgin of 
the Chair gleams on the second with an even greater splen- 



dour; and on the third the Sistine Madonna appears radiant 
with celestial light. 

Seated in a chair (sediay one of the posts of which is 
visible, the Virgin holds the Infant Jesus close in her arms. 
They are both looking at the spectator, and are radiant 
with beauty against a sombre background. Beside them 
appears St. John in the ecstasy of prayer and contempla- 
tion. Nothing can be simpler, nor at the same time more 
striking. It is only the Infant in the arms of his Mother, 
with another child beside them. There is no dramatic 
action, nor any violence in the figures. Everywhere is 
immobility and repose. But in this group, where there is 
perfect calm, and yet where real life is abundantly circula- 
ting, the feeling of divinity elevates Nature to heights that 
of herself she would not be able to attain. 

The purest part of Raphael's glory is to have seen, 
through the images of the Virgin of the Word, the pro- 
gressive march of love, passing from the body to the soul, 
and from the soul mounting to God. Raphael knows how 
to find God everywhere. It is evident that a human 
model was before him when he painted the Virgin of the 
Chair. Some people even will have it that La Fornarina 
was not a stranger to this picture. But La Fornarina, how- 
ever beautiful she may appear in her portraits, does not at 

'Whence the name of Virgin of the C/4az> (Madonna della Sedia). 
It was already catalogued in the inventory of Florence. It is now in the 
Pittl Palace. The Virgin of the Chair is contained in the circumference 
of a circle, and should never fill any other form of space. From the 
point of view of composition, nothing can give a better idea of Raphael. 
Everything converges to the centre of the circle, and every point of the 
circumference receives a reflection of the central light. 


all surpass the limits of the senses. Her face is full of 
freshness, her glance is brilliant, and her features blossom 
out the breath of health and happiness j but she is only a 
woman. It is true that in every Christian woman, how- 
ever degraded she may be, there is an internal flame which 
the ashes of the world may cover but which they never ex- 
tinguish. Art may brush these ashes aside, make the flame 
leap up afresh, and restore its original energy to it. Then 
there is a veritable transfiguration : the reality, without dis- 
appearing, purifies itself, ennobles itself, and transforms it- 
self till it is scarcely recognizable; and, where only a 
woman had been, we now see only a Virgin. But in 
order to perform this miracle, what restraint must be exer- 
cised, what justice of taste is requisite, and with what 
singular force of genius one must be endowed ! If the 
artist halts halfway in his task, he only arrives at profana- 
tion. This is the case with a great number of painters at 
the close of the Fifteenth Century and the beginning of the 
Sixteenth. For having presumed upon their strength, they 
have fallen into impiety, and often their Virgins look only 
scandalous. On resuming the work of the Renaissance, 
Raphael measured the abyss with a sure eye and crossed it 
without an effort. If La Fornarina is behind the Virgin of 
the Chair, there is nothing less than a world that separates 
them. The two beauties are measured by the two lives : 
terrestrial love put into Raphael's hand the brush that 
painted the portrait of the Barberini palace ; divine love 
armed the master with sufficient power to produce the 
Madonna of the Pitti Palace. 


The Virgin of the Chair raises us directly to God by the 
tenderness with which she surrounds and seems to want 
to protect Him who protects all ; but she is richly adorned, 
and she belongs to the world by the external splendour 
with which the world surrounds her. She belongs to it es- 
pecially by the love that she gives to Him and by the in- 
ternal sentiment that stamps compassion upon her beauty ; 
compassion the kin to sadness. Her head, three quarters 
full on the right, bends gently towards the Saviour's head, 
on which it rests. The hair, rather chestnut than blonde, 
is divided in slightly waved bands and completely exposes 
the ear and the cheeks. The brow is beautifully propor- 
tioned : it is lower than in the Umbrian faces, and higher 
than in the antiques. The eyes, pensive, brilliant and fully 
open, look towards the left of the spectator with a gravity 
bordering on grief.^ The nose is straight and regular, and 
has nothing of the particular accent of the model that peo- 
ple are too ready to give Raphael for this picture. It is 
the same with the mouth : it is of a medium size, ad- 
mirably shaped, not smiling at all and in perfect accord with 
the sentiment of the eyes. Its lines would be almost severe 
if kindness did not dominate all in this face. The outline 
of this face is a beautiful oval, neither too long nor too 
short, and does not in the least recall the portrait of the Bar- 
berini Gallery. Therefore, away with all reminiscence of 
La Fornarina ; away with all living reality ! This image is 

' An infinity of reproductions has been made of this picture. Not one 
of them gives a true idea of it. However, it must be said, in honour of 
French engraving, that Desnoyer is the only one who has shown some 
comprehension of the melancholy in the gaze of this Virgin. 


purely impersonal. We are in the presence of the Virgin : 
it is she ; she alone whom we see ; she alone who is look- 
ing at us. The external beauty of the Virgin of the Chair 
is as great as anything that could be imagined, but the in- 
ternal beauty is not in the least sacrificed to it. The chief 
characteristic of this face is its regularity and the purity of 
its features. Deterioration of ideas is always betrayed by 
certain laboured refinements, by something tame, unde- 
cided, too personal, or too feminine, that impairs the dignity 
of the subject. Here, there is nothing of that. All the 
lines are simple, regular, and traced as though by inspira- 
tion. It is true that Raphael, carried away by the genius 
of harmony, has represented his Madonna as brilliantly and 
richly attired, but it is without anything jarring, without 
anything too staring, and without anything hurtful of the 
principal impression. A scarf, admirable in colour, is 
wound around the crown of her head and falls down to her 
neck. A green shawl, enriched with various shades that 
respond to those in the scarf, envelops the breast, the right 
shoulder, and falls behind the back, where it is confounded 
with the golden fringe that decorates the back of the chair. 
Beneath this shawl appears the purple robe, the sleeve of 
which is tight-fitting, with a cufF, and the blue mantle that 
covers the knees. The two hands, one crossed above the 
other over the body of the Infant Jesus, are charming in 
shape and delightfully modelled. Everything in this ar- 
rangement is enchanting : in the entire effect of this image 
everything is seductive. In painting, form and colour are 
what rhythm and song are in poetry, — they are the wings 


given to Love by the artist and the poet. Now, Raphael 
never soared in a more sudden flight than in this picture. 
This Virgin seems to have been painted with the rapidity 
of fresco. The master's hand was never more sure of it- 
self, nor did it ever pass across his work with happier 
speed. There is not the least hesitation, nor the slightest 
reservation. The transparent and fluid colour without 
effort attains to an incredible seductiveness. Nowhere 
does Raphael affect a freer, more spontaneous, or more in- 
dependent gait. The head and hands of the Virgin are 
rigorously fixed by a preliminary necessary design ; but that 
sumptuous vesture so well ordained for the pleasure of 
the eye, seems made during the course of the brush j and 
such is the marvellous harmony of the tones and the truth 
of the lights and shadows, that this improvisation seems to 
be the result of the most profound calculation. There is 
nobody anywhere that more closely resembles a beautiful 
soul ; and there are nowhere more musical or more har- 
monious forms. So much the worse for those who only 
see a material image in it ! What is flesh ? A wind that 
"passeth away and cometh not again." If there were 
only this breath in the Virgin of the Chair, our eyes might 
be charmed, but our souls would not be moved in the slight- 
est degree. Now, not only does this Virgin ravish our eyes, 
but she penetrates profoundly into our hearts, establishing 
herself there and definitely taking possession. It is thus 
that, as Plato says, " We raise ourselves from beautiful 
bodies to beautiful souls and from beautiful souls to eternal 


Yet, in the Virgin of the Chair, there is something 
still more elevated and beautiful than the Virgin, and 
that is the Infant Jesus. Seated on the blue drapery that 
covers the knees of the Mother, he looks fixedly at us, re- 
coils, as if struck with our miseries; and presses close against 
the virginal bosom that conceived him. The body of the 
Saviour is presented almost in full profile to the left against 
Mary, whilst his head, turned towards us, shows a full face. 
A slight vestment covers his shoulders and breast and leaves 
his legs, hips and arms bare. This infant body is taken 
from life and belongs wholly to humanity ; but the head is 
that of a God. Three flames radiate from this infant head 
and mysteriously gleam in the obscurity of the background. 
The ruffled hair seems to obey an impulse that springs from 
the spirit ; the eyes shine brilliantly ; the mouth with its 
severe lines, is grave, and the whole countenance is im- 
mobile, fixed, majestic, solemn and almost terrible. God 
is patient because He is eternal; but He is just even as 
He is good ; and, even while manifesting Himself as the 
Lamb that takes away the sins of the world. He al- 
ready announces Himself as the sovereign judge that must 
condemn them. We are in the presence of the ''Word 
uncreate which moves matter and penetrates it with His 
spirit, Meus agitat molem ; of the Word incarnate, which 
fills the world invisible with His corporeal virtue, Caro 
instaurat mentem. He spake, and it was done : he com- 
manded, and it stood fast. In him was life, and the life 
was the light of men, not the life derived from nothingness, 
but the life that flows from the eternal and living genera- 


live force, the life that is the source of all life. This In- 
fant, in fact, does not speak a human language : " He light- 
ens, he thunders, he astounds, he beats down every spirit 
created under the obedience of the faith." It is thus that 
he appeared when the Evangelist " with rapid flight " 
cleaving the air, piercing the clouds, and soaring above 
angels, virtues, cherubs and seraphs intones his book with 
these words : " In the beginning was the Word. . . . 
The Word ! that is to say the internal word, the thought, 
the reason, the intelligence, the wisdom, the internal dis- 
course, sermo^ the discourse without discussion, in which 
one does not extract one thing from another by reasoning, 
but the discourse in which all is substantially all truth and 
which is truth itself." Raphael, captivated and subdued by 
an internal comprehension, painted this Infant with a calm 
hand, exempt from effort or agitation. That is why, before 
such a conception, our reason is troubled, admires and is 

The little St. John the Baptist, in the background, ef- 
faces himself on a secondary plane, and his beauty, although 
only relative, is worthy of the absolute beauty of the Virgin 
and the Infant Jesus. His head, three quarters to the left, 
bends over towards the right shoulder of the Saviour. His 
gaze, fixed on Jesus, is fervent and full of ardour. From 
his parted lips escape words that mount to God. His 
hands are clasped and his whole face is in prayer. This 
is no longer the St. John of the Madonna della Tenda^ 
smiling and naively happy at the sight of the Virgin : it is 
the forerunner who sees God in Jesus, who penetrates his 


greatness, comprehends his justice and obeys the impulse 
of a spontaneous burst of faith. Raphael thus shows the 
sursam corda of the Christian soul before the mystery of 
love, the living image of prayer directly inspired by the 
Real Presence of the Redeemer. The little cross of reed 
in the arms of St. John associates by anticipation this 
humble and ardent prayer with the idea of sacrifice. In 
the Infant Jesus, we see the Christ, and in the little St. 
John we find all men who are illumined by the light of the 

Perhaps this picture could not have been painted else- 
where than in Rome, or outside the influences that were at 
work around the master. But, at the same time, this 
picture proves that Raphael had come to dominate those 
influences, to transform them, and to reconcile them with 
the interests of a higher order. A frenzied taste, the cult 
of sensible beauty, a craving for unbridled pleasure, had 
taken hold of the century of Leo X. To a certain extent, 
Raphael shared the passions of his day, but he purified 
them by thinking of the Virgin, and, without in any way 
diminishing the external brilliance that charmed his con- 
temporaries, he showed them a splendour before which he 
forced them to bow, not only with admiration, but with a 
fervour with which they had been unacquainted. For 
three centuries and a half, posterity has professed the same 
enthusiasm for this picture, and this will be so as long as 
the instinct of the beautiful lasts among men. So that, if 
such a work belongs by certain material ties to a given 
moment of space and time, it is more particularly of all 


times and places by the spirit that emanates from it. 
Nothing can surpass the elegance of the Virgin of the Chair, 
and if Raphael some time afterwards had not painted the 
Sistine Madonna, it must be added that nothing can equal 
the pure beauty of this Madonna and the majesty of her 
son. In the presence of such a Virgin, we may say with 
Erasmus, in a lyrism borrowed from profane antiquity but 
especially inspired by religious emotion : *' You are more 
brilliant than the dawn, sweeter than the silver moon, 
purer than the new-blown lily, whiter than the still im- 
maculate snow, more gracious than the spring-time rose, 
more precious than the ruby, sweeter than the honey, 
dearer than life, higher than the skies, and chaster than the 
angels. Hail ! noble sanctuary of the Eternal God, sub- 
lime throne of Divinity ! " 


{Fan Dyck) 


A POETIC legend surrounds the portrait of Charles I. 
like an aureole. The painter is supposed to have 
impressed upon the features of the unfortunate monarch 
the mark of fatality. Even to-day, the best informed 
writers are pleased to find forebodings of his sad destiny 
upon the vv'earied and melancholy face of the prince. All 
this, however, is pure fancy. 

In vain have the searchers of archives discovered and 
proclaimed the truth ; in vain has Carpenter exhumed the 
authentic and decisive memoir, giving to the portrait in 
the Louvre its true title, Le Roy a la chasse, for sentimental 
historians will long continue to see in this famous canvas 
literary and romantic intentions of which in all probability 
the painter never dreamed. 

During the year 1637, Van Dyck, having reached the 
apogee of his glory and reputation and with the title of 
portrait-painter to the royal family, the court, and the noble 
aristocracy of England, found himself in the necessity of 
asking Charles I. for the payment of numerous works that 
had been accumulating for several years. His habits of 
living and princely luxury could not be maintained except 




at the cost of enormous expenditure. His feverish, forced 
and consuming industry could with difficulty fill the gulf 
caused by his extravagances. Therefore he had to have 
recourse to the royal benevolence and he claimed the price 
of his works presenting the list upon which figures the 
portrait of the Roy a la chasse. He asked two hundred 
pounds for this canvas ; the price was reduced to half, 
equivalent to 1,500 livres, a modest sum, if one considers 
the importance of the canvas and modern exigencies. 
However, Van Dyck was one of the best treated artists of 
his time and none of his contemporaries obtained so great 
a reward for their most extolled pictures. 

The portrait in the Louvre then does not represent the 
sovereign already succumbing under the weight of bad 
fortune and visited by sad presentiments or melancholy 
regret ; but as an elegant and accomplished cavalier, for- 
getting the anxieties entailed by power and the etiquette of 
court to abandon himself to the pleasures of the country. 
We have here, in some measure, the pendant to the 
familiar pages that Velasquez has painted in the traits of 
the never-to-be-forgotten Philip IV. in his rich doublet, 
carrying his gun, and accompanied by his enormous molosse 
(hunting-dog). With the one as with the other, the court 
portrait-painter, after having rendered upon immense official 
canvases the pomp of royal majesty, has taken pleasure 
in finding with a sort of partiality the familiar every day 
attitude, the true portrayal of the gentleman surprised in 
the surrendering of himself to his chosen pleasures. 

Regarding the names of the two persons accompanying 


Charles I. divers opinions are held. The equerry who 
holds the horse has successively been given the name of 
the Due d'Epernon, and Duke of Hamilton. Mariette, fol- 
lowing Walpole's opinion, asserts that this portrait is 
simply that of the King's equerry, M. de Saint-Antoine ; he 
is right. 

In a catalogue of the collection of James II., published 
in England in the middle of the last century, our canvas is 
thus designated : " King Charles I. and his equerry, M. de 
Saint-Antoine, vs'ith him." From this document another 
valuable piece of information is gained. The portrait in 
the Louvre did not leave England before the flight of 
James II. How did it get to France, where it was found 
at the beginning of the Eighteenth Century in the famous 
cabinet of the Countess de Verrue ? Nothing prevents our 
supposing that James II. carried with him in his flight from 
Saint-Germain a certain number of family portraits, notably 
that of the Roy a la chasse^ and that, after a time, his heir, 
at the end of his resources, found it necessary to part with 
the efligy of his ancestor. There is nothing improbable in 
this hypothesis. Here has always rested an obscure point 
diflSicult to clear up. Every one knows that the succession 
of the famous countess escheated to the Marquis de Lassay 
with the portrait of Charles I. The possessions of the 
Marquis de Lassay passed, at least a part of them, to the 
Count de Guiche, and in the lot of the latter Antony Van 
Dyck's canvas ^ was included. 

1 Villot has made many errors in his history of the portrait of Charles I. ; 
that is why we consider it necessary to insist upon these small details. 


We have not yet spoken of the second person who ac- 
companies the King, and whose bare head, turned towards 
the distant sea, stands out from the sky, behind the head of 
the equerry who holds the horse. This is a page whose 
name is ignored by the old catalogues ; yet this obscure 
personage was destined to have a decisive influence upon 
the fate of the picture. 

The Count de Quiche's collection was sold at auction in 
1770. Charles I. not having reached the price demanded 
by the heirs, the latter bought it in for 1 7,000 livres. It 
was at this moment that some intermediary officers, per- 
haps from self-interest, christened the anonymous page 
with the name of Barri, and persuaded the reigning favour- 
ite that the roue who had opened the doors of the great 
apartments of Versailles was descended from an old Eng- 
lish family allied to the Stuarts. The Comtesse du Barry 
put no difficulties in the way to prove this glorious gene- 
alogy. She bought the picture, not for the King, as the 
Louvre Catalogue says erroneously, but for her own col- 
lection ; she paid 24,000 livres for it. That was ten times 
the price the artist got for it. 

What is the value to-day of this masterpiece considered 
worthy of the honour of a place in the Salon Carre? It 
would be difficult to say. 

The portrait of Charles I. never entered the royal gallery 
during the lifetime of Louis XV. We have only just now 
related, with supporting proofs under what circumstances it 
was acquired by Louis XVI. It is necessary to insist 
upon this point, because the account, substantiated by F. 


Villot's notice, is still credited by the most recent historians 
of the Museum. 

After the death of Louis XV. the Comtesse du Barry, 
accustomed to satisfy every caprice without counting the 
cost, found herself in an embarrassing position. To satisfy 
the more and more pressing demands of her creditors, she 
put within reach of amateurs the priceless objects that she 
had acquired in the happy days of her favour. The archi- 
tect Le Doux, who had friendly relations with her, advised 
her to offer the portrait of Charles I. to the King. 

The matter was soon brought to a conclusion. On May 
8, 1775, M. d'Angiviller, director of the King's buildings, 
informed Le Doux that his proposition was agreed to and 
that the Comtesse du Barry would receive 24,000 livres for 
Charles I. On the 22d of the same month, a new letter 
advised the architect that the order for payment was signed 
and that some one was going to Luciennes to take posses- 
sion of the picture. It was then in the month of May, 
1775, that Charles I. a la chasse entered the King's 

We have related in detail the history of this celebrated 
canvas, leaving no detail in the dark, so that there can be 
no doubt upon the truthfulness of the facts. Is it worth 
while to give a description of the picture when the excellent 
reproduction placed before the eyes of the reader renders 
this task almost superfluous ? It would seem preferable in 
ending to recall the appreciation of one of our contempo- 
rary masters who has best penetrated and characterized the 
talent of the great artists of Belgium and Holland. 


In the brilliant pages devoted to Van Dyck, Eugene 
Fromentin lingers with delight before the chef cC oeuvre in 
the Salon Carre. " The Charles I.," he says, " by the deep 
feeling of the model and the subject, the familiarity and 
nobility of the style, and the beauty of all kinds in this 
exquisite work, the drawing of the face, the colour, the 
unheard of values of rarity and accuracy, and the quality of 
the work, — Charles /., to take only one example, well- 
known in France, — can bear the greatest comparisons." 

After this eulogy one may assert without timidity that of 
all the portraits of Charles I. painted by Van Dyck, — and 
you can count at least twenty scattered throughout the 
European Museums, portraits of the bust, half-length por- 
traits, equestrian portraits, and portraits in royal robes, — 
the Roy a la chasse is perhaps the picture that gives the most 
faithful and the most exquisite representation of the noble 
and unfortunate sovereign of Whitehall, 




THE Presentation in the Temple^ originally designed for 
the brotherhood of Santa Maria della Carita, covered 
the whole side of a room in the so-called " Albergo," now 
used for the exhibition of the old masters at Venice. In 
this room, which is contiguous to the modern hall in which 
Titian's Jssunta is displayed there were two doors for 
which allowance was made in Titian's canvas ; and twenty- 
five feet — the length of the wall — is now the length of the 
picture. When this vast canvas was removed from its 
place, the gaps of the doors were filled in with new linen, 
and painted up to the tone of the original, giving rise to 
the quaint deformity of a simulated opening in the flank of 
the steps leading up to the Temple, and a production of 
the figures in the left foreground — a boy, a senator giving 
alms, a beggar woman and two nobles. Strips of new 
stuflF were sewn on above and below, and in addition to 
various patches of restoring, the whole was toned up, or 
"tuned," to the great detriment of the picture. Notwith- 
standing these drawbacks and in spite of the fact that the 
light is no longer that which the painter contemplated, the 
genius of Titian triumphs over all difficulties, and the Pre- 


sentation in the Temple is the finest and most complete crea- 
tion of Venetian art, since the Peter Martyr and the Ma- 
donna di Casa, Pesaro. 

It was not to be expected that Titian should go deeper 
into the period from which he derived his gospel subject 
than other artists of his time. An ardent admirer of his 
genius has noticed the propriety with which he adorned a 
background with a portico of Corinthian pillars, because 
Herod's palace was decorated with a similar appendage. 
He might with equal truth have justified the country of 
Bethlehem transformed into Cadorine hills, Venice sub- 
stituted for Jerusalem, and Pharisees replaced by Venetian 
senators. It was in the nature of Titian to represent a sub- 
ject like this as a domestic pageant of his own time, and 
seen in this light, it is exceedingly touching and sur- 
prisingly beautiful. Mary in a dress of celestial blue as- 
cends the steps of the temple in a halo of radiance. She 
pauses on the first landing place, and gathers her skirts, to 
ascend to the second. The flight is in profile before us. 
At the top of it the high priest in Jewish garments, yellow 
tunic, blue undercoat and sleeves and white robe, looks 
down at the girl with serene and kindly gravity, a priest in 
cardinal's robes at his side, a menial in black behind him, 
and a young acolyte in red and yellow holding the book of 
prayer. At the bottom, there are people looking up, some 
of them leaning on the edge of the steps, others about to 
ascend, — Anna, with a matron in company ; Joachim turn- 
ing to address a friend. Curious people press forward to 
witness the scene, and a child baits a little dog with a cake. 


Behind and to the left and with grave solemnity, some dig- 
nitaries are moving. One in red robe of state with a black 
stole across his shoulder is supposed to represent Paolo 
de' Franceschi, at this time grand-chancellor of Venice. 
The noble in black to whom he speaks is Lazzaro Crasso. 
Two senators follow, whilst a third still further back gives 
alms to a poor mother with a child in her arms. In front 
of the gloom that lies on the profile of steps an old woman 
sits with a basket of eggs and a couple of fowls at her feet, 
her head and frame swathed in a white hood, which carries 
the light of the picture into the foreground. In a corner to 
the right an antique torso receives a reflex of the light that 
darts more fully on the hag close by. It seems to be the 
original model of the soldiers that rode in the battle of Ca- 
dore, or the Emperors that hung in the halls of the palace 
of Mantua.^ 

Uniting the majestic lines of a composition perfect in 
the balance of its masses with an effect unsurpassed in its 
contrasts of light and shade, the genius of the master has 
laid the scene in palatial architecture of great simplicity. 
On one side a house and colonnade on square pillars, with 
a slender pyramid behind it, on the other a palace and 
portico of coloured marbles in front of an edifice richly 
patterned in diapered bricks. From the windows and bal- 
conies the spectators look down upon the ceremony or con- 
verse with the groups below. With instinctive tact the 
whole of these are kept in focus by appropriate gradations 

1 This torso filled the unoccupied corner of the picture to the right of 
the door, the framework of which broke through the base of the picture. 


of light, which enable Titian to give the highest prominence 
to the Virgin, though she is necessarily smaller than any 
other person present. The bright radiance round her fades 
as it recedes to the more remote groups in the picture, the 
forms of which are cast into deeper gloom in proportion as 
they are more distant from the halo. The senator who 
gives alms is darkly seen under the shade of the colonnade, 
from which he seems to have emerged. In every one of 
these gradations the heads preserve the portrait character 
peculiar to Titian, yet each of the figures is varied as to 
sex, age, and condition ; each in his sphere has a decided 
type, and all are diverse in form, in movement, and 
gesture. To the monumental dignity of the groups and 
architecture the distance perfectly corresponds. We 
admire the wonderful expressiveness of the painter's 
mountain lines. The boulder to the left, with its scanty 
vegetation and sparse trees, rises darkly behind the pyramid. 
A low hummock rests dimly in the rear, whilst a gleam 
flits over remoter crags, crested with ruins of castles ; and 
the dark heath of the hill beyond — with the smoke issuing 
from a moss-fire — relieves the blue cones of dolomites that 
are wreathed as it were in the mist which curls into and 
mingles with the clouded sky. The splendid contrast of 
palaces and Alps tells of the master who was born at 
Cadore, yet lived at Venice. 

The harmony of the colours is so true and ringing, and 
the chords are so subtle, that the eye takes in the scene as 
if it were one of natural richness, unconscious of the means 
by which that richness is attained. Ideals of form created 


by combinations of perfect shapes and outlines with select 
proportions, may strike us in the Greeks and Florentines. 
Here the picture is built up in colours, the landscape is not 
a symbol, but scenic ; and the men and palaces and hills 
are seen living or life-like in sun and shade and air. In 
this gorgeous yet masculine and robust realism Titian 
shows his great originality, and claims to be the noblest 
representative of the Venetian school of colour.^ 

Hardly a century has expired since Venetian painting 
rose out of the slough of Byzantine tradition, yet now it 
stands in its zenith. Recruiting its strength from Jacopo 
Bellini, who brought the laws of perspective from Tuscany, 
the schools of the Rialto expand with help from Paduan 
sources, and master the antique as taught by Donatello and 
Mantegna. They found the monumental but realistic 
style which Gentile Bellini developed in his Procession of the 
Relic, and Carpaccio displayed in his Ursula Legend. They 
seize and acquire the secrets of colour by means of An- 
tonelloj and their chief masters, Giovanni Bellini, 
Giorgione, and Titian, adding a story to the pictorial 
edifice, bring it at last to that perfection which we witness 

•The measure of this canvas, No, 487, at the Venice Academy, is 
m. 3.75 high by 7.80, but of the height 10 cent, above and 10 below are new. 
The person who made these and other additions, as well as restorations 
noted in the text, was a painter of this century, named Sebastiano Santi. 
(Zanotto, Pinac. Venet.) Besides the patches described above, there are 
damaging retouches in the landscape and sky, in a figure at a window to 
the left, in figures on the balcony, and a soldier holding a halberd. The 
face of St. Anna, and the dress of the old woman in the foreground are 
both new. Zanetti (Pitt. Ven., p. 155) states that the picture was cleaned 
and the sky injured in his time (i8th century). 


in the Presentation in the Temple. Looking back a hundred 
years, we find Jacopo Bellini's conception of this subject 
altogether monumental. The long flight of steps, the 
portico of the temple, Mary on the first landing, her 
parents behind her, a castellated mansion in the distance, 
are all to be found in the sketch-book of 1430. Titian 
inherits the framework, and fills it in. He takes up and 
assimilates what his predecessors have garnered. He goes 
back to nature and the antique, and with a grand creative 
power sets his seal on Venetian art for ever. What Paris 
Bordone or Paul Veronese can do on the lines which their 
master laid down is clear when we look at the Doge and 
fisherman of the first and the monumental palaces in the 
compositions of the latter. In a later form of Titian's 
progress — that which marks the ceiling pieces of San 
Spirito — we trace the source of Tintoretto's daring. All 
inherit something from Titian, but none are able to surpass 




NOWHERE in Time's vista, where the forms of great 
men gather thickly, do we see many shapes of those 
who, as painters and as poets have been alike illustrious. 
Among the few to whom, equally on both accounts, con- 
spicuous honours have been paid, none is superior to 
Rossetti, of whose genius doubly exalted the artists say 
that in design he was pre-eminent, while, on the other hand, 
the most distinguished poets of our age place him in the 
first rank with themselves. As to this prodigious, if not 
unique, distinction, of which the present age has not yet, 
perhaps, formed an adequate judgment, there can be no 
doubt that with regard to the constructive portion of his 
genius Rossetti was better equipped in verse than in design. 
It is certain that our subject looked upon himself rather 
as a painter who wrote than as a verse-maker who painted. 
It is probable that the very facility, which, of course, had 
been won with enormous pains, and was maintained with 
characteristic energy and constant care, of his literary 
efforts led Rossetti to slightly undervalue the rare gifts of 
which his pen was the instrument, while, as to painting, 
his hard-won triumphs with design, colour, expression, form, 
and visible beauty of all sorts seemed to him the aptest as 



well as the most successful exponents of the passionate 
poetry it was, by one means or the other, his object to 
make manifest. His mission was that of a poet in art as 
in verse, and, by devoting the greater part of his life and 
all his more arduous efforts to the former means, he made 
it plain that, notwithstanding all obstacles, the palette 
served his purpose better than the pen. 

The year 1870 did not witness the completion of any 
important painting, a shortcoming for which the glorious 
Proserpine^ that had its inception in a drawing of Mrs. 
Morris, dated 187 1, made ample amends. Although the 
oil picture of this theme, which Mr. W. A. Turner lent 
to the Manchester Exhibition in 1882, and as No. 86 to 
the Burlington Club in 1883, is dated 1877, I consider it 
under the earlier date. It represents at life-size, a single 
figure of Proserpine in Hades, holding in her hand the 
pomegranate, by partaking of which she precluded her re- 
turn to earth.^ She is passing along a gloomy corridor in 
her palace, and, on the wall behind her, a sharply defined 
space of light has fallen. It is the cool, bluish, silvery 
light of the moon, that because of some open door 
far overhead has penetrated the subterranean dimness, 
flashing down for a moment on the wall, revealing the ivy- 
tendrils that languish in the shade, displaying the Queen, 
her features, the abundant masses of her hair, which seem 

' In countless early Italian pictures the bitten pomegranate is a well 
understood emblem of sorrow and pain. Hence it often occurs in the 
hand of the Infant Christ, who in several exam])les, presses the fruit to 
the lips of His mother. On this account, no doubt, Rossetti placed the 
pomegranate in tlie hand of Proserpine. 


to have become darker than was ever known on the earth 
above, and the sorrowfulness of her face. It shows also 
the slowly curling smoke of an incense-burner (the attribute 
of a goddess) which, in the still air of the gallery, circles 
upward, and spreading, vanishes. Proserpine is clad in a 
steel-blue robe, that fits loosely her somewhat slender, 
slightly wasted, but noble frame of antique mould. It 
seems that she moves slowly with moody eyes instinct with 
slowly burning anger; yet she is outwardly still, if not 
serene, and very sad in all her stateliness ; too grand for 
complaint. In these eyes is the deep light of a great 
spirit, and, without seeing or heeding, they look beyond the 
gloom before her. Her fully-formed lips, purplish now, 
but ruddy formerly, and once moulded by passion, are com- 
pressed, the symbols of a strenuous soul yearning for free- 
dom, and, with all their pride, suffering rather than enjoy- 
ing goddess-ship. The even-tinted cheeks are rather flat ; 
the face, so wide is the brow, is almost triangular, the nose 
like that of a grand antique. These features are set in 
masses of bronze-black and crimped hair, darkly lustrous 
as it is that encompasses the head, and flows like an 
abundant mantle over her shoulders and bust. The won- 
der of the picture is in the face. The light cast on the 
wall throws the head in strong relief; she turns slowly to- 
wards the distant gleam ; the ivy branch curves downwards, 
and assists with the swaying lines of the drapery, the com- 
position of the whole.* 

*Rossetti wrote to Mrs. Rae, — "October 12th, 1877. The present one 
[Proserpine'] belonging to myself, was begun before Leyland's [of 1873], 


Rosetti wrote a sonnet in Italian, and an English version 
of the same, both of which are inscribed on the frame of 
the picture in question. The latter is as follows : 


" Afar away the light that brings cold cheer 
Unto this wall, — one instant and no more 
Admitted at my distant palace door. 
Afar the flowers of Enna from this drear 
Dire fruit, which, tasted once, must thrall me here. 
Afar those skies from this Tartarean grey 
That chills me ; and afar, how far away. 
The nights that shall be from the days that were. 

** Afar from mine own self I seem, and wing 

Strange ways in thought, and listen for a sign : 
And still some heart unto some soul doth pine, 
(Whose sounds mine inner sense is fain to bring. 
Continually together murmuring,) — 

* Woe's me for thee, unhappy Proserpine ! * " 

These are indeed profound sighs, worthy of a goddess of 
the antique mould, and even sadder than the picture to 
which they refer. As to their subject, every friend of the 
painter knew that he was prouder of having invented it 

and thus had the immense advantage of the first inspiration from nature. 
It is unquestionably the finer of the two, and is the very flowrer of my 
work. . . . You may perhaps have seen an article in the Athencetim 
relating to some pictures of mine completed at that time, and among 
which this is the first mentioned. The size is the same as Leyland's, the 
price 1,000 guineas." Mr. Leyland's version was sold in May, 1892, for 
540 guineas; it was No. 314 at the Academy 1883. Mr. Turner's version 
is that which Mr. W. Rossetti distinguishes as No. 3, of the rather 
numerous category of Proserf>ines ; it now belongs to Mr. C. Butler, and 
is that which the painter himself thought highest of. 


than of his share in devising, or rather applying to art any 
other theme in which he excelled. Reckoning The Bride 
as his technical chef d'aeuvre^ I place Proserpine next to it, 
not because it is as well or better painted than half a dozen 
of his capital pieces, severally, but on account of the com- 
plete originality of its theme. On the other hand it should 
be remembered that, while he produced at least four or five 
versions of Proserpine^ he never ventured on a second 

The disastrous use of chloral, which was ultimately to 
insure his ruin, while it certainly did not act alone in pro- 
moting that catastrophe, had not, in 1871, although he be- 
came addicted to it more than two years before, made deep 
inroads upon our poet's energies, nor reduced his power in 
art. But it is noteworthy that, some time before 1868, 
when chloral came to his hands, nearly all the subjects of 
his pen and brush were more or less desponding ; of those 
none is sadder than Proserpine. At this time the chivalric 
and romantic subjects he had affected so late as the Tris- 
tram and Iseult of 1867, disappeared from his repertory, and 
gave place to the woe of Ceres' daughter, the mournful 
despair of La Pia, the sad pity of the Donna della Finestra, 
the ominous agony of Pandora^ the sorrowing of Dante in 
the Dream^ and the vague melancholy of Veronica Veronese^ 
whose music is a dirge. Rossetti was not the man to " be 
sad o' nights out of mere wantonness," and therefore we 
must seek a cause for his selecting themes so gloomy and 
so woebegone as these, and may perhaps find it in the in- 
sidious effects of the drug which precipitated, though it did 


not cause his downfall, — and long before he had reached 
the allotted goal of man's existence — left desolate that 
noble '' House of Life," whose inner treasures his poetry 
and painting set forth with 

** Such a pencil, such a pen." 




IN the 15th lecture of Sir Joshua Reynolds, incidental 
notice is taken of the distinction between those excel- 
lencies in the painter which belong to him as such, and 
those which belong to him in common with all men of in- 
tellect, the general and exalted powers of which art is the 
evidence and expression, not the subject. But the distinc- 
tion is not there dwelt upon as it should be, for it is owing 
to the slight attention ordinarily paid to it, that criticism is 
open to every form of coxcombry, and liable to every phase 
of error. It is a distinction on which depends all sound 
judgment of the rank of the artist, and all just appreciation 
of the dignity of art. 

Painting, or art generally, as such, with all its technicali- 
ties, difficulties, and particular ends, is nothing but a noble 
and expressive language, invaluable as the vehicle of 
thought, but by itself nothing. He who has learned what 
is commonly considered the whole art of painting, that is, 
the art of representing any natural object faithfully, has as 
yet only learned the language by which his thoughts are to 
be expressed. He has done just as much towards being 
that which we ought to respect as a great painter, as a man 


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who has learned how to express himself grammatically and 
melodiously has towards being a great poet. The lan- 
guage is, indeed, more difficult of acquirement in the one 
case than in the other, and possesses more power of de- 
lighting the sense, while it speaks to the intellect, but it is, 
nevertheless, nothing more than language, and all those 
excellencies which are peculiar to the painter as such, are 
merely what rhythm, melody, precision and force are in the 
words of the orator and the poet, necessary to their great- 
ness, but not the tests of their greatness. It is not by the 
mode of representing and saying, but by what is repre- 
sented and said, that the respective greatness of the painter 
or the writer is to be finally determined. 

Speaking with strict propriety, therefore, we should call 
a man a great painter only as he excelled in precision and 
force in the language of lines, and a great versifier, as he 
excelled in precision or force in the language of words. A 
great poet would then be a term strictly, and in precisely 
the same sense applicable to both, if warranted by the char- 
acter of the images or thoughts which each in their respect- 
ive language conveyed. 

Take, for instance, one of the most perfect poems or 
pictures (I use the words as synonymous) which modern 
times have seen: — the Old Shepherd's Chief Mourner. 
Here the exquisite execution of the glossy and crisp hair of 
the dog, the bright sharp touching of the green bough be- 
side it, the clear painting of the wood of the coffin and the 
folds of the blanket, are language — language clear and ex- 
pressive in the highest degree. But the close pressure of 


the dog's breast against the wood, the convulsive clinging 
of the paws, which has dragged the blanket off the trestle, 
the total powerlessness of the head laid, close and motion- 
less, upon its folds, the fixed and tearful fall of the eye in 
its utter hopelessness, the rigidity of repose which marks 
that there has been no motion nor change in the trance of 
agony since the last blow was struck on the cofHn-lid, the 
quietness and gloom of the chamber, the spectacles mark- 
ing the place where the Bible was last closed, indicating 
how lonely has been the life — how unwatched the depart- 
ure of him who is now laid solitary in his sleep ; — these are 
all thoughts — thoughts by which the picture is separated at 
once from hundreds of equal merit, as far as mere painting 
goes, by which it ranks as a work of high art, and stamps 
its author, not as the neat imitator of the texture of a skin, 
or the fold of a drapery, but as the Man of Mind. 

It is not, however, always easy, either in painting or 
literature, to determine where the influence of language 
stops, and where that of thought begins. Many thoughts 
are so dependent upon the language in which they are 
clothed, that they would lose half their beauty if otherwise 
expressed. But the highest thoughts are those which are 
least dependent on language, and the dignity of any com- 
position and praise to which it is entitled, are ii exact 
proportion to its independency of language or expression. 
A composition is indeed usually most perfect, when to such 
intrinsic dignity is added all that expression can do to 
attract and adorn ; but in every case of supreme excellence 
this all becomes as nothing. We are more gratified by the 


simplest lines or words which can suggest the idea in its 
own naked beauty, than by the robe or the gem which 
conceal while they decorate ; we are better pleased to feel 
by their absence how little they could bestow, than by their 
presence how much they can destroy. There is therefore 
a distinction to be made between what is ornamental in 
language and what is expressive. 




THE Virgin, having descended from the skies, is seated 
upon earth with her divine Son surrounded by vari- 
ous personages. Her throne, only one of the uprights of 
which, richly ornamented in the antique taste, is visible, is 
placed on a slightly raised platform. One step in the form 
of a rectangular parallelopiped that occupies the centre of 
the foreground leads up to it. The wood of the whole 
construction is of a bright colour. On the right, an old 
man is kneeling with a lion crouching at his feet. On 
the left, a youth is led forward by an angel. This youth 
carries a fish ; whence arises the name by which this picture 
is known. What is the motive of this picture, and what 
is its precise meaning ? Vasari expressly says that the 
Madonna is between St. Jerome, the angel Raphael and 
Tobit : Dentro vi e la Nostra Donna^ San Girolamo vestito 
da cardinale^ ed uno Angela Raffaello ch'' accompagna Toh'ia, 
This being admitted, people asked how the young captive 
of Nineveh was thus brought into the company of the 
Bethlehem recluse, and for a long time people did not see 
the bonds that united these two figures of such difi^erent 
periods and characters. Thus, some people concluded that 



Raphael had merely obeyed a pictorial fantasy ; whilst 
others, seeking a moral meaning in so beautiful a work 
and finding none in Vasari's description, have denounced 
this description as false and have gone to some pains to 
substitute a complicated allegory for a simple picture of 
religious history. Both these opinions are equally far from 
the truth. Those who deny to Raphael the intervention 
of reason and logic in the composition of such a picture 
are evidently wrong ; and those who seek a far-fetched 
explanation in the allegory cannot be right. But outside 
an interpretation at any cost and an absolute denial of any 
interpretation there is still room for the truth. If on the 
one hand, we hold by Vasari's text; while on the other 
hand, we maintain that a work of such beauty must have 
been ripely thought out and strongly intended in every 
part, we have no difficulty, when we recall the spirit of 
the personages and go back to the origin of the picture, 
in finding the reason why St. Jerome and Tobit are in 

And first, the questions of anachronism here are puerile. 
When it is a question of the Virgin in glory, time and 
place do not count. What are centuries by the side of 
eternity ; and what is the earth by the side of immensity ? 
Such subjects only depend upon the Christian ideal. More- 
over, what is there to shock one in meeting St. Jerome in 
Tobit's company, in the Firgin of the Fish^ when in the 
Foligno Madonna we find the same St. Jerome in the com- 
pany of St. John the Baptist and St. Francis D'Assisi ? 
And more than this : the motives that determined Sigis- 


mond Conti to surround himself with such or such saints 
are unknown to us, whilst we can easily discover the rela- 
tion between St. Jerome and Tobit. In the earliest Chris- 
tian age, the Book of Tobit was considered scarcely more 
than a religious and moral apologue, not in the least ortho- 
dox. It is true that St. Polycarp in the Second Century 
and St. Cyprian in the Third speak of the Book of Tobit 
as an inspired book ; but the question was far from being 
settled ; and, at the beginning of the Fourth Century, the 
Council of Laodicqa does not mention this book among 
the Lessons recommended in the churches. Then comes 
St. Jerome, who, in the name of Christianity, adopts the 
two Tobits and causes their history to be put in the Vul- 
gate. Before this imposing authority, contradiction ceased : 
the Councils of Hippo and Carthage, held at the close of 
the Fourth Century and early in the Fifth, consecrated the 
Book of Tobit, and although the Church still thought it 
well to adjourn her solemn decision for nearly a thousand 
years, the order of the founder of the Christian exegesis 
prevailed from that date at Rome and in the West over all 
disagreements. This being established, what can be more 
simple to explain than the picture in the Madrid Museum ? 
By the simultaneous presence of the youthful Tobit, the 
angel and St. Jerome at the foot of the Madonna's throne, 
Raphael, anticipating the decision of the Council of Trent 
by about thirty years, maintains the Ninevite captive in the 
rank of the prophets and proclaims the canonicity of the 
version to which, moreover, Rome has pinned her faith in 
all ages. Tobit, still a child, comes trembling before the 


Saviour. Before recognizing the prophet's mission, the 
Virgin hesitates, and thus recalls the hesitation of the 
Church. The Infant Jesus, on the contrary, resolutely 
pronounces in favor of Tobit and with a gesture confirms 
the authenticity of the Book admitted by St. Jerome. All 
the personages brought together in this picture have there- 
fore their necessary relations and their rational linking. 

But being given the opportunity of St. Jerome and Tobit 
in company, what particular motive had Raphael in placing 
beside the Virgin a Biblical character who historically pre- 
ceded Jesus Christ by more than 650 years ? To re- 
solve this problem, we must remember the destination of 
the picture and the circumstances under which it was 
painted. It was in 15 14: three years had already passed 
since Raphael had painted the Foligno Madonna. Julius II. 
was dead, Leo X. had taken possession of the pontifical 
chair, and the Attila fresco in the Heliodorus Chamber had 
just been completed. It was then that the Dominicans 
of the church of San Domenico Maggiore, at Naples, asked 
Raphael for a Virgin in Glory for their chapel of Crocifisso. 
In this chapel was the crucifix which, according to the 
legend, spoke to St. Thomas Aquinas, and before this 
crucifix those who suffered from ophthalmia came and 
prostrated themselves. Now what was more natural than 
the choice of the young Tobit to speak in such a place to 
the souls of unfortunates threatened with the loss of sight, 
and at what more timely season could hope and faith have 
been awakened in them ? Might not God repeat for each 
of them the miracle he had performed in Tobit's favour ? 


Thus nothing in Raphael's picture was put in by chance. 
The selection of the personages is subordinate to the sub- 
ject, which in turn is determined by the destination of the 
picture. Everything is linked and bound together in this 
composition, and posterity, that has consecrated it under 
the name of the Virgin of the Fish has instinctively fixed its 
aim, its meaning and its true intent. The examination of 
each figure separately will convince us of the logical and 
necessary order of the ideas contained in this admirable 

The Virgin with the Infant Jesus, dominating the per- 
sonages surrounding her, is the principal figure of the 
picture. Seated and seen almost full-faced, the body about 
three-quarters right towards St. Jerome, and the head three- 
quarters left towards Tobit, she holds her divine Son in 
both arms and seems to be trying to restrain His eagerness 
to go to the young Ninevite captive. The reserved atti- 
tude of the head, the gaze so calm in its investigation, the 
mouth ready to soften, but still immobile and mute, the 
prudent movement of the body and the arms, all reveal 
Mary's hesitation in recognizing the vocation of the 
prophet. This figure, so profoundly human, has some- 
thing of the grandiose dignity of the antique conceptions at 
the same time that it preserves that Christian virginity that 
forces prayer and invites love. Without losing any of the 
sovereign humility that was hers upon earth, the Virgin has 
become regally glorious in eternity : she is the Omnipotentia 
supplex who has said of herself: "In me is all the hope 
of life and of virtue." Her head is beautifully formed, 


broadly developed at the crown, without heaviness below, 
and perfectly smooth in its entire outline. The brow is 
high, noble and full of intelligence; and the hair that crowns 
it is very simply arranged in bands. The eyes, lowered 
upon Tobit, possess great calm and extreme sweetness. 
The form of the eyelids, the curve of the brows and the 
flat part of the nose that prolongs the surface of the fore- 
head are all irreproachable. The mouth is of medium size 
and devoid of all primness. The cheeks, full but not at all 
pasty, present none of those artifices of modelling by which 
the artist, often guided by a seductive nature, arrives at the 
pretty without attaining the beautiful. This face is scru- 
pulously inspired by reality and recalls the highest tradi- 
tions ; it is simple, restrained, and touches the sublime by 
suffusing our hearts with the idea of a superhuman kind- 
ness. The pose and adjustment of this figure also con- 
tribute to the same impression. In the position of the 
body, the gesture of the arms and the action of the legs, 
everything is full of ease ; but the serenity has nothing in it 
to engender monotony, and the idea of the immutable ex- 
pression of fate is the negation of immobility. At the 
same time that the shoulders, drawn by the movement of 
the head, turn to the left towards Tobit, the arms are 
drawn back sharply to the right towards St. Jerome to hold 
back the Infant Jesus. The legs also keep their primitive 
position with its tendency towards the left, and from this 
double combination results a variety and spontaneity of 
attitude that would have been an obstacle to the majesty 
of the Virgin if Raphael by a masterly interpretation had 


not known how to make the vivacity of a natural move- 
ment accord with the quietude inseparable from the Virgin 
in glory. The costume is the simplest that could be 
imagined. A white veil is twined in the hair around a 
tress that encircles the head and forms a diadem ; thence it 
falls upon the shoulders and reaches the breast. There is 
nothing to find fault with in the humility of this arrange- 
ment, and yet the art with which the effect has been 
attained is such that no other head-dress could exalt the 
dignity of the Virgin to such a degree. Thus, where 
Leo X.'s too pagan contemporaries found a motive for 
admiration, even the Old Masters, fond of severity, would 
have had nothing to do but to applaud. Raphael, in a 
higher harmony had reconciled the rights of beauty and the 
exigences of faith. A pure blue robe, of a severe cut and 
without any ornament, outlines the arm that is visible, and 
leaves the neck bare. This robe is for the most part 
covered by a large mantle of stronger blue, which, thrown 
over the knees, envelops all the lower part of the figure, 
and only shows the extremity of the left foot, which is bare 
and of a very beautiful shape. Nothing could be more severe 
or graceful than this whole effect in which the colour is in 
harmony with the simplicity of line. The fresh and 
transparent rose of the flesh and the blonde of the hair arc 
in enchanting accord with the white of the veil and the two 
blues of the robe and mantle. A masterly hand, and one 
sure of itself, has broadly disposed rapid effects that yet 
have nothing abrupt in them, and co-ordinated the colours 
in accordance with the mysterious laws of the noblest 


harmony. The clear and limpid tones almost remind us 
of the tones of fresco. Light is everywhere in this central 
figure on which the spectator's attention is to be principally 
fixed : it radiates even in the diaphanous shadows through 
which we see the contours and modelled forms. The draperies 
are disposed with a taste that Raphael himself has rarely 
equalled : they cover all without hiding anything and render 
a strict account of the parts they envelop. There is no 
ornament, nor embroidery of any kind. The idea of 
absolute beauty is born of the sobriety of the colour and 
the grandeur and purity of the lines. We think of Samuel 
Rogers^ Madonna and the Madonna delta Tenda^ but on 
comparing these with the Virgin of the Fish we find a 
greater nobility and beauty in the latter. What is par- 
ticularly remarkable is that in proportion as Raphael ap- 
proaches perfection and soars towards that impersonal ideal 
by which Antiquity was attracted as he was, he brings more 
heart and soul to the expression of his idea. In a burst of 
sincere enthusiasm, Vasari has said : " Raphael has shown 
what beauty can be put into the face of a Virgin, by giving 
modesty to the eyes, honour to the brow, grace to the nose, 
and virtue to the mouth. No Virgin merits this eulogy 
more than the Virgin of the Fish. And yet it must be com- 
pleted by the addition of the most exquisite of all human 
quality, — kindness ; for one of the most individual and 
permanent traits of Raphael's Virgins is that they only 
appear to be beautiful because they are good. 

The Infant Jesus completes and explains the intent of 
the picture with a vivacity of expression and a spontaneity 


of movement that are decisive and irresistible. He recog- 
nizes Tobit as one of his own, and tries to spring towards 
him. While with his left hand and arm reaching backward 
and lying in St. Jerome's bible he affirms the authenticity 
of the Scripture, with his right hand extended forward he 
seems to want to draw Tobit towards him, to hold and 
caress him. His head also, three quarters right and bent 
forwards, leans towards Tobit and rests gently against the 
Virgin's cheek j he wants to influence his Mother and make 
her also decide in favour of the Ninevite captive. All this 
is clearly indicated and no doubt as to Raphael's intention 
seems possible to us. The countenance of this Infant 
Jesus is serious, serene and, like the Virgin's, perfectly kind. 
The eyes are bright, and the gaze, benevolent as it is, re- 
mains full of authority ; the nose, mouth and all the fea- 
tures are delicately and firmly drawn, and express a truly 
religious solemnity at the same time as an almost familiar 
sentiment. The naked body is drawn and modelled with 
perfection : it is nature herself with the Spontaneity of her 
movements and her gestures. But what elegance there is 
in the form, and what discernment in the choice of the pre- 
cise moment when the real touches the ideal ! The colour 
is also delightful : it is impossible to imagine a brush more 
supple, learned, free, scrupulous, or independent. All the 
science and all the taste possible would not suffice for the 
production of such works ; genius is required, and Raphael 
so constantly visited by inspiration has rarely been more 
highly inspired. Here, however, there is none of that ter- 
fible majesty by which Raphael (in the Sistine Madonna) 


makes us see in a little child the arbiter of the world and 
the Sovereign Judge. The Bambino still mingles with man- 
kind, gives himself up naively to them and seeks to subju- 
gate them with love. No trait of severity is revealed in 
him, but all the external signs of sweetness and kindness 
are in evidence. In order to gain hearts, the Infant Jesus 
dons the simple graces of humanity and to encourage hu- 
man weakness he makes himself really a little child. 

The youthful Tobit, presented and supported by the 
angel, is kneeling at the foot of the Madonna's throne and 
imploring the Word of God. Nothing can surpass the 
fervour and beauty of these two figures that appear in this 
picture as the exalted image of faith, hope and love. 

Tobit bows at the Madonna's feet. He is a charming 
youth, viewed in right profile, in an attitude at once re- 
spectful, timid and confiding. His head, very animated 
and very warm in tone, is of rare beauty. Long curls of 
golden blonde fall upon his shoulders. His gaze, raised 
towards the Word is full of light ; his lips part, desiring 
but not daring to speak. Gratitude and admiration give an 
expression to the face in which we are forced to recognize 
something more beautiful than nature and more truthful 
than truth itself. The costume is extremely simple. It is 
merely composed of a short tunic of a bright yellow tint, 
the sleeves of which cover the arms to the wrists. The 
legs are bare from the knees down ; the feet are covered 
with sandals tied to green leggings. The left knee rests 
upon the ground and the right leg bends without yet kneel- 
ing. At the same time the left hand is given up to the 


hand of the archangel and reaches towards the Infant Jesus, 
while the right hand holds a string by which hangs the 
symbolic fish. Raphael put his whole heart into this de- 
lightful figure. It was impossible to borrow less from ac- 
cessories : the whole charm arises from the purity of the 
lines, the truth of the action and gesture, and the agree- 
ment between the forms and the internal sentiment. Noth- 
ing can be more modest and less equivocal in intent than 
this youth trembling with happiness and ecstasy in the pres- 
ence of the Virgin and the Son of God. Raphael, always 
so clean cut in his expression, has never been more clear or 
precise; he has never painted those timorous souls, of 
which Dante speaks, that Heaven and Hell alike reject, and 
he has never reached his goal with more decision than in 
this picture. The youthful Tobit is truly " a citizen of the 
Holy City," veramente del Paradiso ; before him we feel 
penetrated with the religion that has made Hope a virtue. 

The angel possesses a still grander beauty. Seen also 
in right profile, with body bending forwards above Tobit, 
and head stretched towards the Virgin, he keeps behind the 
youthful prophet whom with his left hand he presents to 
the Saviour, pushing him forward with his right hand 
towards the divine group. The gaze, the mouth and all 
the features of this face burn with the saintliest ardour, and 
are almost adorable in their adoration. The flesh glows 
with a lively and almost Venetian colouring. The hair of 
a somewhat dark blonde falls away leaving bare the temples, 
ear and cheek, at the same time rising so as to form a sort 
of flame at the top of the brow. We are reminded of the old 


faces of the Genii created by Classic art, and the very taste 
of profane antiquity, becoming Christian, seems to revive in 
this celestial messenger. The neck, and top of the shoulder, 
left bare by the vestment, are admirably modelled. The 
robe, the sleeves of vv^hich reach the wrist, is yellow, but 
of a deeper tint than that of Tobit j over it is a red tunic, 
that covers the shoulders and lower part of the figure. 
Great grey wings toning into pale blue rise behind the 
head and pass out of the frame. Such an angel as this 
seems to have descended from Heaven and yet is held to 
earth by the most material beauty. The face is so serene, 
it possesses such divine ardour and such real fervour, and 
seems to be almost intoxicated with divine love. Thus 
Raphael translates with sovereign perfection the visions 
that had visited him from his infancy. Here we have one 
of those sexless beings, or rather proceeding from both 
sexes, possessing the strength of the one and the grace and 
charm of the other, pure reflections of eternal beauty, 
created by the religious sentiment to show us in our own 
image the very image of God. Never has painting pro- 
duced such a beautiful angel as the archangel Raphael 
in the Virgin of the Fish. In this there is a sort of exalta- 
tion of genius, something that elevates the soul above the 
earth and carries it even into the depths of Divinity. 
All the influences united that made Raphael are 
clearly visible in the Virgin of the Fish. In particular, 
consider the archangel Raphael and the young Tobit : no- 
where has Nature been more scrupulously studied ; nowhere 
also has this study been more discreetly hidden under the 


Christian idea ; and, finally, nowhere can we better com- 
prehend that Classic learning that has taught Raphael to 
make everything simplification and abstraction in view of 
the principal idea. 

On the other side of the Madonna, St. Jerome worthily 
completes the picture ; and his strong figure suffices to 
counterbalance the delicate ones of Tobit and the angel. 
Robed in purple and kneeling on the platform of the Vir- 
gin's throne, he holds in both hands the version of the 
Vulgate and concentrates his whole mind upon the book 
that the Infant Jesus himself adopts and consecrates. His 
robust and broadly constructed head preserves only a few 
white hairs which wave above his brow and on his temples 
where they join a long beard, equally white, which covers 
his cheeks, lips and chin ; and falls to the middle of his 
breast. His brow is contracted and reflective, but without 
any effort or anxietyo His attentive gaze is concentrated 
exclusively upon the Scriptures : although almost lost in 
the beard his mouth is expressive and speaking ; and all 
his features are regular and handsome, gentle and kind in 
their strong accentuation. The saint is in full possession 
of the Truth : he penetrates it and is himself illuminated 
by it. The colouring of his face is animated, charming 
and as far removed from weakness as from harshness, re- 
flecting without any exaggeration something of the warm 
purple glow. Look at the beautiful values exchanged by 
the colour of the head and that of the vesture ! What 
light, what relief, what a lovely diaphanous shadow is cast 
by the book on the left hand the fingers of which are in 


the leaves ! This St. Jerome has lived, but he has tri- 
umphed over life ; he has suffered but " he who has not 
suffered, what does he know ? " He has entered alive into 
eternal rest, carrying his robust old age with dignity ; and 
of earthly passions he only retains what is necessary for 
genius to testify of its empire. Never had so grand an 
image of this holy person yet been seen, and since Raphael 
Art has made vain attempts to rise as high. 

A great green clirtain, raised diagonally from the right, 
forms a background on which the Virgin and the Infant 
Jesus, the angel Raphael and Tobit stand out. This broad 
and sober note is broken only on the right by a patch of 
sky on which the admirable face of St. Jerome glows with 
greater brilliance. This corner of the firmament, intensely 
blue at the zenith, gradually pales down towards the hori- 
zon. In the distance are outlined vague silhouettes of 
mountains drowned in the blue. St. Jerome, placed 
directly under the light that falls from the sky is the most 
brilliantly illuminated by it. As for the other figures, the 
light only strikes them subdued by the interposition of the 
curtain. However, the Infant Jesus is also almost entirely 
enveloped by the outside air. The difference of light is 
slightly noticeable in passing from the Infant to the Virgin ; 
but it becomes sensibly so in passing to the youthful Tobit, 
and still more so with the archangel Raphael. Then the 
shadows deepen gradually, but without thickening or assum- 
ing any obscurity or blackness anywhere, and without any 
darkness shrouding any point, but on the contrary preserv- 
ing a transparence and limpidity through which even the 


most sombre parts look flooded with light. Nothing can 
be more harmonious than the disposition of the colours in 
this picture. The colouring of the heads is fresh, dazzling, 
and entirely appropriate to the age, character and condition 
of each. The draperies, always of simple shades, preserve 
a perfect equilibrium of tonality with the flesh-tints, and 
form oppositions among themselves of equal softness and 
sonority. The blue mantle and white veil of the Virgin, 
the two neighbouring yellows of the robes of Tobit and the 
angel, the strong red of St. Jerome's vesture and the no less 
vivid blue of the sky, — all these different notes, which seem 
exclusive on account of frankness and brilliance, vibrate 
with intensity and especially in harmony, melt into and 
join one another without any violence, and over these 
modulations the green curtain is thrown like a deep holding- 
note which serves as a bond for all these parts of the same 
chant. In certain aspects of colour, this picture recalls the 
Fol'tgno Madonna. When we look at it, however, wc think 
neither of Giorgione, nor of Sebastiani of Venice, nor of 
anybody whatsoever outside Raphael. Raphael is there 
himself, alone and entire. Others have had a more glaring 
palette, but nobody has had more harmony, tranquillity and 
dignity in his colour. His brush, broad, spontaneous and 
full of decision, is accustomed to the uses of great painting ; 
his hand has been familiarized with the simple and rapid 
operations of fresco ; and, in the execution of the Virgin of 
the Fish^ we recognize the painter of the Bolsena Mass. Even 
from the standpoint of colour, such a picture as this can 
compare advantageously with the most beautiful productions 


of the genius of the exclusively colourist schools. But 
however lovely the colour may be, here it is always only an 
accessory j it makes part of the form, it is inherent in the 
idea, and it is this idea that is truly marvellous in its sim- 
plicity. In his strong virility, Raphael had lost none of 
the native and enchanting qualities of his earliest youth. 
In his most masterly works of the Roman period, we still 
find the Umbrian painter of the Knight's Dream. Under 
the loveliest forms, his soul here burns with more intensity 
than ever. The time of mysticism had passed away, and 
the internal feeling had never appeared stronger nor more 
eloquent. The Christian idea, in associating itself with 
the beautiful, does not abdicate, it becomes transformed ; 
the great mystery, while investing itself with more har- 
monious colours and better adapted for the pleasure of the 
eyes, loses nothing of its religious and profound meaning. 
Raphael proves this by admirable evidence in the Virgin of 
the Fish. 




ADRIENNE LECOUVREUR, Clarion and Rachel! 
These three names, which with us recall the 
"Tragic Muse" in her most brilliant manifestations, unite, 
with our neighbours across the English Channel, into the 
one name of Mrs. Siddons. This marvellously gifted artist 
has no rival in the history of the English theatre. For 
over a century, she has been the highest incarnation and 
the most powerful personification of the tragedienne's art. 
Her father was Roger Kemble. She was born on July 
14th, 1755, at Brecon in Wales. Roger Kemble was 
managing a troupe of strolling players there. She immedi- 
ately received the name of Sarah. Eleven children were 
born after her ; and two of her brothers made the name of 
Kemble illustrious. The first was John Philip, both actor 
and author, born in Prescot, in 1757, who studied at Douai 
and whose successes as a tragedian continued for more than 
twenty years. His favorite roles were Hamlet, Macbeth 
and Othello. As a dramatic author, he produced nothing 
but burlesques. John Philip, dying at Lausanne, in 1823, 
received the signal tribute of a statue in Westminster 
Abbey. Charles Kemble, much younger, became cele- 
brated as a comedian. He first saw the light in 1775, at 




Brecon, where his father was again established, having 
taken the management of a theatre. Following the 
example of his brother John, he grew up at the college of 
Douai, made his debut at Drury Lane in 1794, and then 
took the management of the Covent-Garden theatre, the 
administration of which he kept until 1826. 

The marriage of Mrs. Siddons, which occurred in No- 
vember, 1773, at Coventry, to a young actor in her father's 
troupe, was not antagonistic to the dramatic vocation of 
her brothers, John Philip and Charles. Roger Kemble, 
the father, had tried to divert his daughter from the theatre, 
and, towards accomplishing this purpose, he had placed her, 
at the age of fifteen, as lady's maid to a wealthy family of 
Warwickshire. But it was too late. It was not with im- 
punity that Roger Kemble had confided to his daughter 
from her earliest childhood roles of all kinds upon the strolling 
stage that he managed. This was a grave imprudence, or, 
perhaps, an unconscious complicity towards an irresistible 
vocation. Siddons and Sarah Kemble were worthy of each 
other. Both knew how to conquer the esteem and the re- 
spect of their contemporaries by the regularity of their 
lives, no less than by their talents. When just married, 
Mrs. Siddons played in many provincial theatres and rapidly 
acquired her great reputation. Garrick, having heard of 
her, made a contract with her for an engagement at Drury 
Lane, of which he was manager. She played in company 
with the great tragedian ; but, not being able to overcome 
her timidity, she was mediocre. A few years of retreat 
and patient study enabled her to triumph over her nerves. 


She made successive essays at the theatres of Manchester, 
York and Bath. And when she reappeared, in 1782, upon 
the Covent Garden stage, after the death of Garrick, the 
perfection of her playing gave her authority and success 
which never deserted her up to 18 18. The roles in which 
she was illustrious are numberless. Juliet, Ophelia, Portia 
in The Merchant of Venice^ Marguerite d'Anjou in Edward 
IF.., Constance in King 'John, and, beyond all else. Lady 
Macbeth should be recalled. Mrs. Siddons, much enam- 
oured of her art, studied all the sources and weighed all 
the problems. She left some written notes upon the role of 
Lady Macbeth which are witnesses of her reflection and 
her high intelligence. She was a tragedienne by vocation, 
but there is every reason to take into consideration, in re- 
gard to her success, the persistent work that she imposed 
upon herself, so that she could penetrate into the genius of 
the poets that she interpreted. 

What of this ? Of what avail is it to name triumphs and 
enumerate victories ? In truth, statistics are very dry, and 
I beg Mrs. Siddons's pardon. We can do better by seizing 
from the pens of her contemporaries some words that will 
give a just idea of the enchantments and terrors with which 
the great tragedienne carved out her brilliant path. Lord 
Byron thus defined Mrs. Siddons in the role of Lady Mac- 
beth: "It was something transcending nature; one would 
say that a being of a superior order had descended from a 
high sphere to inspire fear and admiration at the same 
time." One day some one insisted that Byron should go 
to see Miss O'Neil, a celebrated actress in the role of Lady 


Macbeth : " I have seen Siddons ; any other spectacle 
would only harm my ideal." Doctor Samuel Johnson, the 
arbiter, or rather the tyrant of British opinion for a quarter 
of a century, was profoundly misanthropic. The name of 
Siddons ceaselessly repeated in the London salons wounded 
the ears of the redoubtable doctor, yet notwithstanding, he 
rendered this tribute to the tragedienne : " Neither eulogy 
nor fortune, which, ordinarily are a double danger for hu- 
manity, have captured this superior person." Miss Burney 
thus expresses herself: "Hers is an excellent nature; she 
is always self-possessed. She is calm and modest. Her 
attitude is serious and grave without affectation ; a certain 
coldness, exempt from arrogance, distinguishes her person." 
Mrs. Thrale, a woman of knowledge, knowing many 
languages, whom Johnson, when he was seventy years of 
age, wanted to marry, alludes to that coldness of which 
Miss Burney speaks. " Siddons," she writes, " is at cer- 
tain times, a leaden statue ; but what does it matter, we have 
made her our idol, and she appears to us like a statue of 
gold." The tragedienne had occasion one day to visit the 
dwelling of Johnson whom Chesterfield qualified as a 
Hottentot and whom M. Valbert called " a crude giant and 
a rude elephant." Coming under the roof of the publicist, 
she looked around for a chair upon which she might sit 
down. He had none in the place, and Johnson perceived 
the poverty of his furniture. The rude pachyderm, sud- 
denly rendered tame, found this admirable speech for his 
visitor : " You see, Madame, whenever you appear seats 
are lacking;" Mme. de Stael saluted her as "the most 


noble of all actresses in her manners." " Mme. Siddons," 
she added, ^' has the secret of prostrating herself to the 
earth without losing her dignity." 

What else do I know ? It was Walpole who wrote : 
" Mistress Siddons is always the fashion and, what is rare, 
she is always modest and sensible. She declines all invita- 
tions to the London salons on the pretext that she gives all 
her time to study and to the education of her son." This 
son was Henry Siddons. He himself became an actor, 
theatrical manager and author. He was twenty-six when 
he played the role of Hamlet. And his mother wrote to 
Mrs. Inchbald : " How sweet it is to me to see the talent 
of my dear Henry appreciated ! I believe his talent is real 
and indeed very remarkable. But it all seems a dream to 
me. I am trembling and impatient to learn the effect of 
his Hamlet. It is almost a mad undertaking for such a 
youth to appear in a role played for so long and in so per- 
fect a style by his Uncle John. Let us pray God that he 
will succeed. Adieu, dear Muse ! " 

Mistress Siddons was the object of requests from the 
painters of her day. Reynolds has left a celebrated por- 
trait of this great actress known under the name of the 
Tragic Muse. Mistress Thrale tells us that Siddons her- 
self chose the pose that Reynolds preserved in his composi- 
tion. The tragedienne is sitting in an antique chair, the 
head erect and lightly turned towards the shoulder, as if 
listening to a discourse that an invisible interlocutor is 
pronouncing. Her foot rests upon a stool and she appears 
as if in the clouds. It is an apotheosis rather than a por- 


trait. "I will not lose the opportunity," said Reynolds, 
*'to transmit my name to posterity by not inscribing it 
upon the fringe of your robe." And he actually did this. 
You can read the painter's signature and the date 1783 
upon the gold border of the drapery that covers the knees 
of the Tragic Muse. The original work is in Grosvenor 
Gallery. A copy by Reynolds, signed and dated 1789, is 
in Dulwich College. Romney and Lawrence also painted 
the portrait of Mistress Siddons. But their canvases 
did not have the success of Reynolds's. However, ac- 
cording to the opinion of Leslie and Tom Taylor, biogra- 
phers of the painter of the Tragic Muse^ Reynolds was 
outdistanced by Gainsborough in the interpretation of Mrs. 
Siddons's features. With the former, the model and the 
pose are apparent ; with the second, nature is not on her 
guard, and allows herself to be surprised. Mrs. Siddons 
was twenty-nine when Gainsborough obtained permission 
to paint her portrait. It was in 1784. She is in street 
costume, sitting, at half-length, and seen nearly in profile ; 
a dress of blue and white stripes, a shawl with golden re- 
flections envelops the slender body of this young woman ; 
and a black hat, surmounted with a feather of the same 
colour, is placed on the head and brings out the dead white- 
ness of the face ; the eye, with its penetrating expression, 
looks into space and seems disdainful of the spectator's 
admiration. The resolution, the character and also the 
great tranquillity of the soul, and a self-possession that 
nothing can disturb distinguishes this severe and quiet 
image. Visitors to the National Gallery remain spell- 


bound by the facility that the painter has shown in this 
picture. It does not seem as if Gainsborough paid the 
slightest heed to his method in acquitting himself of this 
task. He took however, serious care to render with a 
rigorous truthfulness the accentuated features of his model. 
The head of Mrs. Siddons had its peculiarities. A speech 
of the painter proves this. One day after he had worked 
for a long while without saying a word : " Damn your nose, 
madame," he cried suddenly, '' there is no end to it : it is 
one of the characteristic features of your face. The mouth 
is also very peculiar." " You mean to say the jawbone," 
replied Mrs. Siddons, laughing ; " I have the Kemble jaw- 
bone; it is not less celebrated than that of Samson." 
This dialogue shows us the wit that the tragedienne en- 
joyed. Whatever opinion she had of her face, it is not to 
be despised. Gainsborough has, moreover, perpetuated it at 
a propitious moment. In reality, during the period of her 
youth, the tragic mask of the actress, too prematurely ac- 
cented, was not without harshness. Towards the approach 
of her thirtieth year, all inequalities and all violence had 
disappeared, and it was really in the hour of her full beauty 
that Reynolds and his rival fixed upon their canvases the 
radiant image of the tragedienne and the woman. 




OF all the artists of the Fifteenth Century, there was 
no one who more fully exercised his imaginative 
faculty than Sandro Filipepi, generally called Botticelli, and 
no one who more fully represents the spirit of the Renais- 
sance. He was a great church painter, infusing his own 
strong and abundant life into the oft-repeated themes of 
ecclesiastical art. Like his master, Lippi, he conceived 
them over again, but in a still more romantic spirit, and 
with a vigour and energy unknown before. But his imagi- 
nation was also captured by the poetic legends of the 
ancient pagan world, and by the romantic inventions of his 
own countrymen. If not the first to choose subjects from 
the poets of Greece and Rome, he was the first to illustrate 
a modern one. His designs to the Divina Commedia (once 
in the possession of Lord Ashburnham, but now in the 
museum of Berlin) show how thoroughly he was aff^ected 
by the spirit of Dante. Some of the most original motives 
in his great altar-pieces can be traced to the influence of 
the great poem on his imagination, and he not only illus- 
trated but annotated it. He painted pictures also from the 
tales of Boccaccio. 


The pictures by Botticelli in the National Gallery illus- 
trate many sides of his genius, if they do not show its full 
range. The largest, the Assumption of the Virgin (No. 
1 1 26), is original and grand in its conception, the wide ex- 
panse of sky being filled with great zones of the angelic 
hierarchy and all the company of heaven, while below, and 
behind the figures of the Apostles who stand round the 
Virgin's tomb, we see the valley of the Arno, with the city 
of Florence and another town. The wonderful energy of 
the angels and the boldness of the design attest the inven- 
tion of Botticelli, and its history from the date it left that 
artist's bottega is complete j but it is thought by some to 
have been executed by his pupils, and in any case it is too 
much damaged to be, in its present state, a satisfactory ex- 
ample of his skill. This picture is supposed to have been 
painted about 1472, or when the painter was about twenty- 
six, and is therefore a striking witness of the reputation he 
acquired at an early age, especially if his position was so 
secure that he could afford to leave the execution of so im- 
portant a work in the hands of his pupils. 

As Matteo Palmieri, who had written a poem somewhat 
in the manner of Dante, was a friend of Botticelli, it does 
not appear probable that the artist would have spared any 
personal pains in the execution of this picture; but how- 
ever that may be, it is satisfactory to feel assured that no 
kind of doubt exists as to the hand which executed the 
smaller but more interesting and beautiful work which 
hangs near it to the left, on the east wall.^ This picture 
* It has now been removed to Room I. 




The Nativity (No. 1034), is " signed all over." From the 
inscription upon it, it appears to have been painted in the 
year 1500, or nearly thirty years after The Assumption ; and 
though Botticelli lived till 15 10, there is no w^ork from his 
hand to which a later date has been assigned. In this 
picture we see that intensity of feeling, which is the pecul- 
iar characteristic of Botticelli, strained to its highest pitch. 
It does not need the inscription upon it to tell us that it 
was produced under great excitement. The fervour of the 
still Madonna, as she kneels before the Child ; the extra- 
ordinary nervous tension which the artist has managed to 
suggest in the seated figure of Joseph ; the rapture of the 
angels below at meeting their redeemed friends ; the ardour 
of the angels at the sides, who introduce the awestricken 
shepherds and kings ; and, finally, the wild ecstasy of the 
angels above as they dance around the throne, present such 
a picture of highly wrought emotion as even Botticelli him- 
self has never equalled. Between the execution of the two 
pictures he had lived his life, a life of which we know 
little, except what we can learn from his works ; but that 
is sufficient evidence that he had felt and probably suff'ered 
more than most men. His youth, we know, was one of 
remarkable success. After the death of his master, Lippi, 
he was reckoned, according to Vasari, the best painter in 
Florence. A few years after he painted The Assumption 
(the date assigned is 148 1), he was summoned to Rome by 
Sixtus IV., to take part in the decoration of the famous 
chapel which the Pope had built in 1473. Here his asso- 
ciates were the most celebrated artists of Florence and 


Umbria — Signorelli, Perugino, Cosmo Rosselli, and Ghir- 
landajo, and it is said that Sandro was appointed to super- 
intend the whole of the decorative works. His frescoes 
there of the History of Moses ^ the Temptation^ and the 
Destruction of Korah^ are full of his fiery spirit and deserve 
to be more generally known and studied than they are. 
They are of much interest in connection with the two 
pictures with which we are at present concerned, as they 
are about equi-distant in date between them, and combine 
much of the exaggerated gesture of the latter, with groups 
as calm and dignified as the Apostles in The Assumption. 
From the inscription on The Nativity it would appear that 
the painter was suffering from strong religious excitement. 
It was painted under the conviction that the devil was then 
let loose for three years and a half, as foretold in the Reve- 
lation of S. John, and in glorious expectation of the time 
when he should again be chained and trodden down. As 
Botticelli was one of the most fervent followers of Savon- 
arola, and the picture was painted but two years after the 
burning of the Dominican and the downfall of that short- 
lived " Kingdom of Christ," which he endeavoured to 
establish in Florence, it is only reasonable to conclude that 
this vision of the triumph of the Redeemer was the flash of 
an imagination still inflamed with the fierce enthusiasm of 
those unforgotten days ; a reaction from a terrible disap- 
pointment ; a prophecy of the near fulfilment of his hopes. 
It is also probable that such a man, convinced by the teach- 
ing of the monk, that all his pictures, or at least all those 
inspired by pagan feeling, like the Mars and Venus^ in 


Room I., were worthy only of the flames, should, as Vasari 
tells us, have renounced painting and fallen into distress. 
In no way opposed to this theory that Botticelli should 
have painted this particular picture, nor even that he should 
have served, in 1503, on a committee appointed to select a 
site for Michael Angelo's statue of David. There appears 
to be no doubt of the poverty of his later years, nor of the 
support which he received from his old patrons the Medici, 
and other friends, until his death in 15 10. 


( Carpaccid) 


THE first picture on the left hand as we enter the 
chapel shows St. George on horseback, in battle with 
the Dragon. Other artists, even Tintoret ^ are of opinion 
that the Saint rode a white horse. The champion of Purity 
must, they hold, have been carried to victory by a charger 
ethereal and splendid as a summer cloud. Carpaccio be- 
lieved that his horse was a dark brown. He knew that this 
colour is generally the mark of greatest strength and en- 
durance; he had no wish to paint here an ascetic's victory 
over the flesh. St. George's warring is in the world, and 
for it ; he is the enemy of its desolation, the guardian of 
its peace; and all vital force of the lower Nature he shall 
have to bear him into battle ; submissive indeed to the spur, 
bitted and bridled for obedience, yet honourably decked 
with trappings whose studs and bosses are fair carven faces. 
But though of colour prosaically useful, this horse has a 
deeper kinship with the air. Many of the ancient histories 
and vase-paintings tell us that Perseus, when he saved 
Andromeda, was mounted on Pegasus. Look now here at 
the mane and tail, swept still back upon the wind, though 

> In the anti-chapel of the Ducal Palace. 


already the passionate onset has been brought to sudden 
pause in that crash of encounter. Though the flash of an 
earthly fire be in his eye, its force in his limbs — though the 
clothing of his neck be Chthonian thunder — this steed is 
brother, too, to that one, born by farthest ocean wells, 
whose wild mane and sweeping wings stretch through the 
firmament as light is breaking over earth. More j these 
masses of billowy hair tossed upon the breeze of heaven 
are set here for a sign that this, though but one of the 
beasts that perish, has the roots of his strong nature in the 
power of heavenly life, and is now about His business who 
is Lord of heaven and Father of men. The horse is thus, 
as we shall see, opposed to certain other signs, meant for 
our learning, in the dream of horror round this monster's 

St. George, armed to his throat, sits firmly in the saddle. 
All the skill gained in a chivalric youth, all the might of a 
soldier's manhood, he summons for this strange tourney, 
stooping slightly and gathering his strength as he drives the 
spear-point straight between his enemy's jaws. His face is 
very fair, at once delicate and powerful, well-bred in the 
fullest bearing of the words ; a Plantagenet face in general 
type, but much refined. The lower lip is pressed upwards, 
the brow knit, in anger and disgust partly, but more in care 
— and care not so much concerning the flight's ending, as 

• This cloudlike effect is through surface rubbing perhaps more marked 
now than Carpaccio intended, but must always have been most noticeable. 
It produces a very striking resemblance to the Pegasus or the Ram of 
Phrixus on Greek vases. 


that this thrust in it shall now be rightly dealt. His hair 
flows in bright golden ripples, strong as those of a great 
spring whose up-welling waters circle through some clear 
pool, but it breaks at last to float over brow and shoulders 
in tendrils of living light.^ Had Carpaccio been aware that 
St. George and Perseus are, in this deed, one ; had he even 
held, as surely as Professor Miiller finds reason to do, that 
at first Perseus was but the sun in his strength — for very 
name, being called " the Brightly-Burning " — this glorious 
head could not have been, more completely than it is, made 
the centre of light in the picture. In Greek works of art, 
as a rule, Perseus, when he rescues Andromeda, continues 
to wear the peaked Phrygian cap, dark helmet of Hades,^ 
by whose virtue he moved, invisible, upon Medusa through 
coiling mists of dawn. Only after victory might he unveil 
his brightness. But about George from the first is no 
shadow. Creeping thing of keenest eye shall not see that 
splendour which is so manifest, nor with guile spring upon 
it unaware, to its darkening. Such knowledge alone for the 
dragon — dim sense as of a horse with its rider, moving to 
the fatal lair, hope, pulseless, — not of heart, but of talon 
and maw — that here is yet another victim, then only be- 
tween his teeth that keen lance-point, thrust far before the 
Holy Apparition at whose rising the Power of the Vision 
of Death waxes faint and drops those terrible wings that 
bore under their shadow, not healing but wounds for men. 
The spear pierces the base of the dragon's brain, its 

' At his martyrdom St. George was hung up by his hair to be scourged. 
' Given by Hermes (Chthonios). 


point penetrating right through and standing out at the back 
of the head just above its junction with the spine. The 
shaft breaks in the shock between the dragon's jaws. This 
shivering of St. George's spear is almost always emphasized 
in pictures of him — sometimes, as here, in act, oftener by 
position of the splintered fragments prominent in the fore- 
ground.^ This is no tradition of ancient art, but a purely 
mediaeval incident, yet not, I believe, merely the vacant re- 
production of a sight become familiar to the spectator of 
tournaments. The spear was type of the strength of hu- 
man wisdom. This checks the enemy in his attack, sub- 
dues him partly, yet is shattered, having done so much, and 
of no help in perfecting the victory or in reaping its reward 
of joy. But at the Saint's " loins, girt about with truth," 
there hangs his holier weapon — the Sword of the Spirit, 
which is the Word of God. 

The Dragon^ is bearded like a goat,' and essentially a 
thorny creature. Every ridge of his body, wings, and head, 
bristles with long spines, keen, sword-like, of an earthy 
brown colour or poisonous green. But the most truculent- 
looking of all is a short, strong hooked one at the back of 
his head, close to where the spear-point protrudes.* 

' See Raphael's picture facing page 34. — E. S. 

2 It should be noticed that St. George's Dragon is never human-headed, 
as often St. Michael's. 

'So the Theban dragon on a vase, to be afterwards referred to. 

* I do not know the meaning of this here. It bears a striking resem- 
blance to the crests of the dragon of Triptolemus on vases. These crests 
signify primarily the springing blade of corn. That, here, has become 
like iron. 


These thorns are partly the same vision — though seen with 
even clearer eyes, dreamed by a heart yet more tender — as 
Spenser saw in the troop of urchins coming up with the 
host of other lusts against the Castle of Temperance. 
They are also symbolic as weeds whose deadly growth 
brings the power of earth to waste and chokes its good. 
These our Lord of spiritual husbandmen must for prelimi- 
nary task destroy. The agricultural process consequent 
on this first step in tillage we shall see in the next picture, 
whose subject is the triumph of the ploughshare sword, as 
the subject of this one is the triumph of the pruning-hook 
spear. To an Italian of Carpaccio's time, further, spines 
— etymologically connected in Greek and Latin, as in 
English, with the backbone — were an acknowledged symbol 
of the lust of the flesh, whose defect the artist has here set 
himself to paint. The mighty coiling tail, as of a giant 
eel,^ carries out the portraiture. For this, loathsome as the 
body is full of horror, takes the place of the snails ranked 
by Spenser in line beside his urchins. Though the mon- 
ster, half-rampant, rises into air, turning claw and spike and 
tooth towards St. George, we are taught by this grey abomi- 
nation twisting in the slime of death that the threatened 
destruction is to be dreaded not more for its horror than for 
its shame. 

Behind the dragon lie, naked, with dead faces turned 
heavenwards, two corpses — a youth's and a girl's, eaten 

' The eel was Venus's selected beast-shape in the " Flight of the Gods." 
Boccaccio has enlarged upon the significance of this. Gen. Deor. IV., 68. 
One learns from other sources that a tail was often symbol of sensuality. 


away from the feet to the middle, the flesh hanging at the 
waist in loathsome rags torn by the monster's teeth. The 
man's thigh and upper-arm bones snapped across and 
sucked empty of marrow, are turned to us for special 
sign of this destroyer's power. The face, foreshortened, is 
drawn by death and decay into the ghastly likeness of an 
ape's.^ The girl's face — seen in profile — is quiet and still 
beautiful ; her long hair is heaped as for a pillow under her 
head. It does not grow like St. George's, in living ripples, 
but lies in fantastic folds, that have about them a savour, 
not of death only, but of corruption. For all its pale gold 
they at once carry back one's mind to Turner's Pytho, 
where the arrow of Apollo strikes him in the midst, and, 
piercing, reveals his foulness. Round her throat cling a 
few torn rags, these only remaining of the white garment 
that clothed her once. Carpaccio was a diligent student 
of ancient mythology. Boccaccio's very learned book on 
the Gods was the standard classical dictionary of those days 
in Italy. It tells us how the Cyprian Venus — a mortal 
princess in reality, Boccaccio holds — to cover her own 
disgrace led the maidens of her country to the sea-sands, 
and, stripping them there, tempted them to follow her in 

* In the great Botticelli of the National Gallery, known as Mars and 
Venus, but almost identical with the picture drawn afterwards by Spenser 
of the Bower of Acrasia, the sleeping youth wears an expression, though 
less strongly marked, very similar to that of this dead face here. Such 
brutish paralysis is with scientific accuracy made special to the male. It 
may be noticed that the power of venomously wounding, expressed by 
Carpaccio through the Dragon's spines, is in the Botticelli signified by 
the swarm of hornets issuing from the tree-trunk by the young man's 


shame. I suspect Carpaccio had this story in his mind, 
and meant here to reveal in true dragon aspect the Venus 
that once seemed fair, to show by this shore the fate of 
them that follow her. It is to be noticed that the dead 
man is an addition made by Carpaccio to the old story. 
Maidens of the people, the legend-writers knew, had been 
sacrificed before the Princess ; but only he, filling the tale 
— like a cup of his country's fairly fashioned glass — full 
of the wine of profitable teaching, is aware that men have 
often come to these yellow sands to join there in the dance 
of death — not only, nor once for all, this Saint who clasped 
hands with Victory. Two ships in the distance — one 
stranded, with rigging rent or fallen, the other moving 
prosperously with full sails on its course — symbolically 
repeat this thought.^ 

Frogs clamber about the corpse of the man, lizards 
about the woman. Indeed for shells and creeping things 
this place where strangers lie slain and unburied would 
have been to the good Palissy a veritable and valued 
potter's field. But to every one of these cold and scaly 
creatures a special symbolism was attached by the science 
— not unwisely dreaming — of Carpaccio's day. They are, 
each one, painted here to amplify and press home the pic- 
ture's teaching. These lizards are born of a dead man's 
flesh, these snakes of his marrow : ^ and adders, the most 
venomous, are still only lizards ripened witheringly from 

1 The many fall, the one succeeds. 

* The " silver cord " not " loosed " in God's peace, but thus devilishly 


loathsome flower into poisonous fruit. The frogs ^ — sym- 
bols, Pierius tells us, of imperfection and shamelessness — 
are in transfigured form those Lycian husbandmen whose 
foul words mocked Latona, whose feet defiled the wells of 
water she thirsted for, as the veiled mother painfully jour- 
neyed with those two babes on her arm, of whom one 
should be Queen of Maidenhood, the other, the Lord of 
Light, and Guardian of the Ways of Men. This subtle 
association between batrachians and love declining to sense 
lay very deep in the Italian mind. In Ariadne Florentina 
there are two engravings from Botticelli of Venus, as a 
star floating through heaven and as foam-born rising from 
the sea. Both pictures are most subtly beautiful, yet in the 
former the lizard likeness shows itself distinctly in the face, 
and a lizard's tail appears in manifest form as pendulous 
crest of the chariot, while in the latter not only contours 
of profile and back,^ but the selected attitude of the god- 
dess, bent and half emergent, with hand resting not over 
firmly upon level shore irresistibly recall a frog. 

In the foreground, between St. George and the Dragon, 
a spotted lizard labours at the task set by Sisyphus in hell 
for ever. Sisyphus, the cold-hearted and shifty son of 
^olus, stained in life by nameless lust, received his mock- 
ing doom of toil, partly for his treachery — winning this 
only in the end, — partly because he opposed the divine 
conception of the ^acid race ; but above all, as penalty 

* Compare the " unclean spirits come out of the mouth of the dragon," 
in Revelation. 

» Compare the account of the Frog's hump, Ariadne Florentina, p. 93. 


for the attempt to elude the fate of death "that is ap- 
pointed alike for all," by refusal for his own body of that 
" sowing in corruption," against which a deeper furrow is 
prepared by the last of husbandmen with whose labour each 
of us has on earth to do. Then finding that Carpaccio 
has had in his mind one scene of Tartarus, we may believe 
the corpse in the background, torn by carrion-birds, to be 
not merely a meaningless incident of horror but a reminis- 
cence of enduring punishment avenging upon Tityus the 
insulted purity of Artemis.^ 

The coiled adder is the familiar symbol of eternity, here 
meant either to seal for the defeated their fate as final, or 
to hint with something of Turner's sadness, that this is a 
battle not gained " once for ever" and " for all," but to be 
fought anew by every son of man, while, for each, defeat 
shall be deadly, and victory still most hard, though an 
armed Angel of the Victory of God be our marshal and 
leader in the contest. A further comparison with Turner 
is suggested by the horse's skull between us and St. George. 
A similar skeleton is prominent in the corresponding part 
of the foreground in the *' Jason " of the Liber Studiorum. 
But Jason clambers to victory on foot, allows no charger to 
bear him in the fight. Turner, more an antique Hellene 
than a Christian prophet, had, as all the greatest among the 
Greeks, neither vision nor hope of any more perfect union 
between lower and higher nature by which that inferior 
creation, groaning now with us in pain, should cease to be 

' Or, as the story is otherwise given, of the mother of Artemis, as in 
the case of the Lycian peasants above. 


type of the mortal element, which seems to shame our soul 
as basing it in clay, and, with that element, become a 
temple-platform, lifting man's life to heaven.^ 

With Turner's adder, too, springing immortal frorn the 
Python's wound, we cannot but connect this other adder 
of Carpaccio's issuing from the white skull of a great snake. 
Adders, according to an old fancy, were born from the 
jaws of their living mother. Supernatural horror attaches 
to this symbolic one, writhing out from between the teeth 
of the ophidian death's-head. And the plague, not yet 
fully come forth, but already about its father's business, 
venomously fastens on a frog, type of the sinner whose 
degradation is but the beginning of punishment. So soon 
the worm that dies not is also upon him — in its fang 
Circean poison to make the victim one with his plague, as 
in that terrible circle those, afflicted, whom " vita bestial 
piacque e non humana." 

Two spiral shells^ lie on the sand, in shape related to 
each other as frog to lizard, or as Spenser's urchins, spoken 
of above, to his snails. One is round and short, with 

' Pegasus and the immortal horses of Achilles, born like Pegasus by the 
ocean wells, are always to be recognized as spiritual creatures — not as St. 
George's horse here — earthly creatures, though serving and manifesting 
divine power. Compare, too, the fate of Argus (Homer, Od., XVII.). 
In the great Greek philosophies, similarly, we find a realm of formless 
shadow eternally unconquered by sacred order, offering a contrast to the 
modern systems which aim at a unity to be reached, if not by reason, at 
least by what one may not inaccurately call an act of faith. 

* Ovid associates shells with the enemy of Andromeda, but regarding it 
as a very ancient and fishlike monster, plants them on his back — " (erga 
cavis suj>er obsita conc/iis." — Ovid Alet. IV., 724. 


smooth viscous-looking lip, turned over, and lying towards 
the spectator. The other is finer in form, and of a kind 
noticeable for its rows of delicate spines. But, since the 
dweller in this one died, the waves of many a long-fallen 
tide rolling on the shingle have worn it almost smooth, as 
you may see its fellows to-day by hundreds along Lido 
shore. Now such shells were, through heathen ages in- 
numerable and over many lands, holy things, because of 
their whorls moving from left to right ^ in some mysterious 
sympathy, it seemed, with the sun in his daily course 
through heaven. Then as the open clam-shell was special 
symbol of Venus, so these became of the Syrian Venus, 
Ashtaroth, Ephesian Artemis, queen, not of purity but of 
abundance, Myletta, ' tj't:? tzot ' iarh^ the many named and 
widely worshipped. In Syrian figures still existing she 
bears just such a shell in her hand. Later writers, with 
whom the source of this symbolism was forgotten, ac- 
counted for it, partly by imaginative instinct, partly by 
fanciful invention concerning the nature and way of life 
of these creatures. But there is here yet a further refer- 
ence, since from such shells along the Syrian coast was 
crushed out, sea-purple and scarlet, the juice of the Tyrian 
dye. And the power of sensual delight throned in the chief 
places of each merchant city, decked her " stately bed " 
with coverings whose tincture was the slain of that bap- 
tism.'' The shells are empty now, devoured — lizards on 

' In India, for the same reason, one of the leading marks of the Bud- 
dha's perfection was his hair, thus spiral. 

* The purple of Lydda was famous. Compare Fors Clavigera, April, 
1876, p. 2, and Deucalion, § 39. 


land or sea-shore are ever to such '' inimiassimum genus " — 
or wasted in the deep. For the ripples that have thrown 
and left them on the sand are a type of the lusts of men, 
that leap up from the abyss, surge over the shore of life, 
and fall in swift ebb, leaving desolation behind. 

Near the coiled adder is planted a withered human head. 
The sinews and skin of the neck spread, and clasp the 
ground — as a zoophyte does its rock — in hideous mimicry 
of an old tree's knotted roots. Two feet and legs torn off 
by the knee, lean on this head, one against the brow and 
the other behind. The scalp is bare and withered. These 
things catch one's eye on the first glance at the picture, 
and though so painful are made thus prominent as giving 
the key to a large part of its symbolism. Later Platonists — 
and among them those of the Fifteenth Century, — de- 
veloped from certain texts in the Timaeus a doctrine con- 
cerning the mystical meaning of hair, which coincides with 
its significance to the vision of early (pre-Platonic) Greeks. 
As a tree has its roots in earth, and set thus, must patiently 
abide, bearing such fruit as the laws of nature may appoint, 
so man, being of other family — these dreamers belonged to 
a very " pre-scientific epoch " — has his roots in heaven, 
and has the power of moving to and fro over the earth for 
service to the Law of Heaven, and as sign of his free 
descent. Of the diviner roots the hair is visible type. 
Plato tells us, that of innocent, light-hearted men, " whose 
thoughts were turned heavenward," but " who imagined in 
their simplicity that the clearest demonstration of things 
above was to be obtained by sight " the race of birds had 


being, by change of external shape into due harmony with 
the soul (" /^ero"') — such persons growing feathers 
instead of hair.^ We have in Dante,^ too, an inversion of 
tree nature parallel to that of the head here. The tree, 
with roots in air, whose sweet fruit is, in Purgatory, 
alternately to gluttonous souls, temptation, and purifying 
punishment — watered, Landino interprets, by the descend- 
ing spray of Lethe — signifies that these souls have for- 
gotten the source and limits of earthly pleasure, seeking 
vainly in it satisfaction for the hungry and immortal spirit. 
So here, this blackened head of the sensual sinner is rooted 
to earth, the sign of strength drawn from above is stripped 
from off it, and beside it on the sand are laid, as in hideous 
mockery, the feet that might have been beautiful upon the 
mountains. Think of the woman's body beyond, and then 
of the head — " Instead of a girdle, a rent ; and instead of 
well-set hair, baldness." The worm's brethren, the 
Dragon's elect, wear such shameful tonsure, unencircled 
by the symbolic crown ; prodigal of life, " resurgeranno" 
from no quiet grave, but from this haunt of horror, *•*■ cocrin 
mozzi"^ — in piteous witness of wealth ruinously cast 
away. Then compare, in light of the quotation from 
Plato above, the dragon's thorny plumage; compare, too, 
the charger's mane and tail, and the rippling glory that 

' The most devoid of wisdom were stretched on earth, becoming foot- 
less and creeping things, or sunk as fish in the sea. So, we saw Venus's 
chosen transmigration was into the form of an eel — other authorities say, 
of a (ish. 

« Dante, Purg., XXII., XXIII. 

» Dante, Inf., VII., 57. Purg. XXII., 46. 


crowns St. George. It is worth while, too, to have in mind 
the words of the '' black cherub " that had overheard the 
treacherous counsel of Guido de Montefeltro. From the 
moment it was uttered, to that of the sinner's death, the evil 
spirit says, stato gli sono a crini " ^ — lord of his fate. 
Further, in a Venetian series of engravings, illustrating 
Dante (published 1491), the fire-breathings of the Dragon 
on Cacus' shoulders transform themselves into the Cen- 
taur's femininely flowing hair, to signify the inspiration of 
his forceful fraud. This " power on the head " he has 
because of such an angel.^ When we consider the Princess 
we shall find this symbolism yet further carried, but just 
now have to notice how the closely connected franchise of 
graceful motion, lost to the dishonoured ones, is marked by 
the most carefully painted bones lying on the left — a thigh- 
bone dislocated from that of the hip, and then thrust 
through it. Curiously, too, such dislocation would in life 
produce a hump, mimicking fairly enough in helpless dis- 
tortion that one to which the frog's leaping power is due. ^ 
Centrally in the foreground is set the skull, perhaps of 
an ape, but more probably of an ape-like man, " with fore- 
head villanous low." This lies so that its eye-socket looks 
out, as it were, through the empty eyehole of a sheep's 
skull beside it. When man's vision has become ovine 
merely, it shall at last, even of grass, see only such bitter 
and dangerous growth as our husbandman must reap with a 
spear from a dragon's wing. 

> Dante, Inf., XXVII. » Dante, /;;/, XXV. 

* Ariadne Florentina, Lcct. III., p. 93. 


The remaining minor words of this poem in a forgotten 
tongue I cannot definitely interpret. The single skull with 
jaw-bone broken off, lying under the dragon's belly, fails to 
be mentioned afterwards. The ghastly heap of them, 
crowned by a human mummy, withered and brown,' be- 
side the coil of the dragon's tail, seem meant merely to add 
general emphasis to the whole. The mummy, (and not 
this alone in the picture) may be compared with Spenser's 
description of the Captain of the Army of Lusts : — 

" His body lean and meagre as a rake. 
And skin all withered like a dried rock. 
Thereto as cold and dreary as a snake. 
Upon his head he wore a helmet light. 
Made of a dead man's skull, that seemed a ghastly sight." 

The row of five palm trees behind the dragon's head 
perhaps refers to the kinds of temptation over which 
Victory must be gained, and may thus be illustrated by the 
five troops that in Spenser assail the seven senses, or beside 
Chaucer's five fingers of the hand of lust. It may be 
observed that Pliny speaks of the Essenes — preceders of the 
Christian Hermits — who had given up the world and its 
joys as ^^ gens socia palmarum." ^ 

Behind the dragon, in the far background, is a great 
city. Its walls and towers are crowded by anxious specta- 
tors of the battle. There stands in it, on a lofty pedestal, 

'The venom of the stellio, a spotted species of lizard, emblem of 
shamelessness, was held to cause blackening of the face. 
8 Pliny, Hist. Nat., V., 17. 


the equestrian statue of an emperor on horseback, perhaps 
placed there by Carpaccio for sign of Alexandria, perhaps 
merely from a Venetian's pride and joy in the great figure 
of CoUeone recently set up in his city. In the background 
of the opposite (St. George's) side of the picture rises a 
precipitous hill, crowned by a church. The cliffs are 
waveworn, an arm of the sea passing between them and 
the city. 

Of these hieroglyphics, only the figure of the princess 
now remains for our reading. The expression on her face, 
ineffable by descriptive words ^ is translated into more 
tangible symbols by the gesture of her hands and arms. 
These repeat, with added grace and infinitely deepened 
meaning, the movement of maidens who encourage 
Theseus or Cadmus in their battle with monsters on many 
a Greek vase. They have been clasped in agony and 
prayer, but are now parting — still just a little doubtfully — 
into a gesture of joyous gratitude to this captain of the 
army of salvation and to the captain's Captain. Raphael ' 
has painted her running from the scene of battle. Even 
with Tintoret ' she turns away for flight ; and if her hands 
are raised to heaven, and her knees fall to the earth, it is 
more that she stumbles in a woman's weakness, than that 

* Suppose Caliban had conquered Prospero, and fettered him in a fig- 
tree or elsewhere ; that Miranda, after watching the struggle from the 
oave, had seen him coming triumphantly to seize her ; and that the first 
app)earance of Ferdinand is, just at that moment, to her rescue. If we 
conceive how she would have looked then, it may give some parallel to 
the expression on the princess's face in this picture, but without a certain 
light of patient devotion here well marked. 

' Louvre. » National Gallery. 


she abides in faith or sweet self-surrender. Tintoret sees 
the scene as in the first place a matter of fact, and paints 
accordingly, following his judgment of girl nature.^ 

Carpaccio sees it as above all things a matter of faith, 
and paints mythically for our teaching. Indeed, doing this, 
he repeats the old legend with more literal accuracy. The 
princess was offered as a sacrifice for her people. If not 
willing, she was at least submissive ; nor for herself did she 
dream of flight. No chains in the rock were required for 
the Christian Andromeda. 

*' And the king said, . . . ' Daughter, I would you 
had died long ago rather than that I should lose you thus.* 
And she fell at his feet, asking of him a father's blessing. 
And when he had blessed her once and again, with tears 
she went her way to the shore. Now St. George chanced 
to pass by that place, and he saw her, and asked why she 
wept. But she answered, ' Good youth, mount quickly 
and flee away, that you die not here shamefully with me.' 
Then St. George said, ' Fear not, maiden, but tell me what 
it is you wait for here, and all the people stand far off be- 
holding.* And she said, ' I see, good youth, how great of 
heart you are ; but why do you wish to die with me ? * 
And St. George answered, ' Maiden, do not fear ; I go not 
hence till you tell me why you weep.' And when she had 
told him all, he answered, ' Maiden, have no fear, for in the 
name of Christ will I save you.' And she said, * Good 

* And perhaps from a certain ascetic feeling, a sense growing with the 
growing license of Venice, that the soul must rather escape from this 
monster by flight, than hope to see it subdued and made serviceable. 


soldier, — lest you perish with me ! For that I perish alone 
is enough, and you could not save me ; you would perish 
with me.' Now while she spoke the dragon raised his 
head from the waters. And the maiden cried out all 
trembling, ' Flee, my good lord, flee away swiftly.' " ^ But 
our " very loyal chevalier of the faith " saw cause to dis- 
obey the lady. 

Yet Carpaccio means to do much more than just repeat 
this story. His princess (it is impossible, without undue 
dividing of its substance, to put into logical words the truth 
here " embodied in a tale ") — but this princess represents 
the soul of man. And therefore she wears a coronet of 
seven gems, for the seven virtues ; and of these, the mid- 
most that crowns her forehead is shaped into the figure of a 
cross, signifying faith, the saving virtue. ^ We shall see 
that in the picture of Gcthsemane also, Carpaccio makes 
the representative of faith central. Without faith, men 
indeed may shun the deepest abyss, yet cannot attain the 
glory of heavenly hope and love. Dante saw how such 
men — even the best — may not know the joy that is perfect. 
Moving in the divided splendour merely of under earth, or 
sward whose '' fresh verdure," eternally changeless, expects 
neither in patient waiting nor in sacred hope the early and 
the latter rain, ^ '' Sembianza avevan ne trista ne lieta." 

' Legenda Aurea. 

*St. Thomas Aquinas, putting logically the apostle's "substance of 
things hoped for," defines faith as " a habit of mind by which eternal life 
is begun in us " (Summa II., III., IV., i). 

3 Epistle of James v., Dante selects (and Carpaccio follows him) as 
heavenly judge of a right hope that apostle who reminds his reader how 


This maiden, then, is an incarnation of spiritual life, 
mystically crowned with all the virtues. But their diviner 
meaning is yet unrevealed, and following the one legible 
command, she goes down to such a death for her people, 
vainly. Only by help of the hero who slays monstrous 
births of nature, to sow and tend in its organic growth the 
wholesome plant of civil life, may she enter into that 
liberty with which Christ makes His people free. 

The coronet of the princess is clasped about a close red 
cap which hides her hair. Its tresses are not yet cast 
loose, inasmuch as, till the dragon be subdued, heavenly 
life is not secure for the soul nor its marriage with the 
great Bridegroom complete. In corners even of Western 
Europe to this day, a maiden's hair is jealously covered till 
her wedding. Compare now this head with that of St. 
George. Carpaccio, painting a divine service of mute 
prayer and acted prophecy, has followed St. Paul's law con- 
cerning vestments. But we shall see how, when prayer is 
answered and prophecy fulfilled — "a glory to her," and 
given by Nature for a veil — is sufficient covering upon the 
maiden's head, bent in a more mystic rite. 

From the cap hangs a long scarf-like veil. It is twisted 
once about the princess's left arm, and then floats in the 
air. The effect of this veil strikes one on the first glance 
at the picture. It gives force to the impression of natural 

man's life is even as a vapour that appeareth for a little time and then 
vanisheth away. For the connection — geologically historic — of grass and 
showers with true human life, compare Genesis ii. 5-8, where the right 
translation is, " And no plant of the field was yet in the earth, and no herb 
yet sprung up or grown," etc. 


fear, yet strangely, in light fold, adds a secret sense of se- 
curity, as though the gauze were some secret aegis. And 
such indeed it is, nor seen first by Carpaccio, though 
probably his intuitive invention here. There is a Greek 
vase picture of Cadmus attacking a dragon. Ares-begotten, 
that guarded the sacred spring of the warrior-god. That 
fight was thus for the same holy element whose sym- 
bolic sprinkling is the end of this one here. A maiden 
anxiously watches the event ; her gesture resembles the 
princess's ; her arm is similarly shielded by a fold of her 
mantle. But we have a parallel at once more familiar and 
more instructively perfect than this. Cadmus had a daughter, 
to whom was given power upon the sea, because in utmost 
need she had trusted herself to the mercy of its billows. 
Lady of its foam, in hours when " the blackening wave is 
edged with white," she is a holier and more helpful Aph- 
rodite, — a "water-sprite" whose voice foretells that not 
*' wreck " but salvation *' is nigh." In the last and most 
terrible crisis of that long battle with the Power of Ocean, 
who denied him a return to his Fatherland, Ulysses would 
have perished in the waters without the veil of Leucothea 
wrapped about his breast as divine life-buoy. And that 
veil, the "immortal" " KpTJdeiivov"^ was just such a scarf 
attached to the head-dress as this one of the princess's 

• In pursuance of the same symbolism, Troy walls were once literally 
called "salvation," this word, with, for certain historical reasons, the 
added epithet of " holy," being applied to them. With the fipvSeixva 
Penelope shielded her tender " cheeks " in presence of the 


here. Curiously, too, we shall see that Leucothea (at first 
called Ino), of Thebes and Cadmus' line, daughter of 
Harmonia, is closely connected with certain sources of the 
story of St. George. 




MORETTO'S pupil, Giambattista Moroni (about 
1525-1578), great portrait-painter though he was, 
could not equal his master in reflecting the fine style of the 
Italian nobility. By him we have' also two portraits of the 
Brecian aristocracy, but though they are not without dig- 
nity and strength of character, they are but commonplace 
persons by the side of Moretto's grandees. One of them 
(No. 1022) is supposed to be a member of the same family 
as No. 1025, and is finely painted in a very reticent scheme 
of cool, almost cold, colour; the other (No. 13 16), which 
looks almost as if it had been painted for its pendant, is 
the less agreeable of the two, on account of the redness of 
the flesh tints, a characteristic of his earlier manner. It 
is, however, masterly in execution — a merit which must be 
accorded to the not very pleasant Portrait of an Italian Lady 
(No. 1023), who is supposed to have been the wife of No. 
1022. On the whole, so far, at least, as this Gallery is 
concerned, Moroni's genius is best seen in his portraits of 
less distinguished personages ; in his Lawyer (No. 742), his 
Ecclesiastic (No. 1024), and in the most celebrated, if not 

* National Gallery. 


the best of all, his famous Tailor (No. 697). If we take 
into consideration the excellence of its preservation (it 
seems as fresh in colour as the day it was painted), the 
crispness of its execution, and its spirited character, the 
Lawyer ought to be awarded the first place. But the 
Tailor besides its beautiful and subtly gradated tones and 
its life-like attitude, has the great merits of extreme sim- 
plicity and naturalness. The action of the man, as he 
stays his shears for a moment to listen to a customer, gives 
the picture the charm of incident, the attraction of a genre 
picture added to that of a portrait ; and so it has become, 
and deservedly become, one of the most popular of all por- 
traits by an "old master." Though deficient in intel- 
lectual quality and somewhat faded, as it seems to me, 
in colour, it is perfect in character, exquisite in tone, 
and completely intelligible to everybody — a beautiful 
picture and a peepshow into the Sixteenth Century, 
which tells us that the men then living were very much 
like ourselves. We meet Tagliapanni (for this was his 
name) every day in the street. 




Quel d'un Sartor, si belo, e si ben fato, 
Che'l parla piu de qual se sia Avocato ; 
L'ha in liian la forfe, e vu el vede a tagiar. 
Carta del Navegar Pitoresco (1660). 

SUCH is the notice by Boschini of this remarkable 
portrait ; this likeness more speaking, he says, than 
any advocate ; and telling us, too, his occupation by the 
shears and cloth. 

This Tailor in the National Gallery and the Jesuit at 
Stafford House, by the same hand, are two of the best 
portraits in England. They are both the work of the 
excellent Bergamasc master Giambattista Moroni, who, 
according to Ridolfi, had so gained the admiration of 
Titian, as to make him politely question the good taste 
of some of his patrons who came from Bergamo to be 
painted by him, when they had so great a master of painting 
at home. Moroni was an historical and portrait-painter, 
and a native of Albino, near Bergamo : he studied his art 
under il Moretto, at Brescia. He died at Bergamo on the 
5th of February, 1578. In the Berlin Gallery is a por- 
trait of himself by Moroni. 

The half-length of an Advocate (in the National Col- 


lection) is also by Moroni. These portraits are of the 
realistic school, yet painted with perfect freedom. In this 
instance, besides the painting, we must admire also the 
good sense of the Tagliapanni, or cutter-out, who has 
chosen to be represented engaged in his humble vocation, 
rather than be painted in fine clothes as a fine gentleman. 
He did not despise the means to which he owed his posi- 
tion. He is dressed in an undyed flannel jacket and red 
breeches, with small white frills at neck and wrists, and a 
leather belt around his waist. He is standing at his board, 
with the shears in his right hand, on the point of cutting 
out a piece of black cloth, on which the white chalk lines 
are visible. The expression of the face is thoroughly indi- 
vidual, and it is clear that we have no conventional work 
here : he is looking towards the spectator and seems to be 
speaking to some one. 

Half-length, life size. On canvas, 3 ft. 2^^ in. high, 
by 2 ft. 5^ in. wide. Formerly in the Grimani Palace at 
Venice ; subsequently in the possession of Signor F. Friz- 
zoni de Salis, at Bergamo, from whom it was purchased in 
1862 by Sir Charles Eastlake, for £,'^20. 


( Carpaccio) 


IF you have looked with care at the three musicians, or 
any other of the principal figures, in the great town 
or landscape views in this principal room, you will be 
ready now with better patience to trace the order of their 
subjects, and such character or story as their treatment 
may develop. I can only help you, however, with Car- 
paccio's, for I have not been able to examine, or much 
think of, Mansueti's, recognizing nevertheless much that 
is delightful in them. 

By Carpaccio, then, in this room,* there are in all eleven 
important pictures, eight from the legend of St. Ursula, 
and three of distinct subjects. Glance first at the series 
of St. Ursula subjects, in this order : — 

I. — 539. Maurus, the king of Britany, receives the 
English ambassadors ; and has talk with his daughter 
touching their embassy. 

II. — 533. St. Ursula's Dream.^ 

III. — 537. King Maurus dismisses the English ambas- 
sadors with favourable answer from his daughter. (This is 
the most beautiful piece of painting in the rooms.) 

' Or at least in the Academy : the arrangement may perhaps be altered 
before this Guide can be published: at all events we must not count on it. 
'See Great Pictures, (New York, 1699), facing page 58, 


IV. — 549. The King of England receives the Prin- 
cess's favourable answer. 

V. — 542. The Prince of England sets sail for Britany ; 
— there receives his bride, and embarks w^ith her on pil- 

VI. — 546. The Prince of England and his bride, voy- 
aging on pilgrimage with the eleven thousand maidens, 
arrive at Rome, and are received by the Pope, who, ^' with 
certain Cardinals," joins their pilgrimage. (The most beau- 
tiful of all the series, next to the Dream.) 

VII. — 554. The Prince with his bride, and the Pope 
with his Cardinals, and the eleven thousand maids, arrive 
in the land of the Huns, and receive martyrdom there. In 
the second part of the picture is the funeral procession of 
St. Ursula. 

VIII. — St. Ursula, with her maidens, and the pilgrim 
Pope, and certain Cardinals, in glory of Paradise. I 
have always forgotten to look for the poor bridegroom in 
this picture, and on looking, am by no means sure of him. 
But I suppose it is he who holds St. Ursula's standard. 
The architecture and landscape are unsurpassably fine ; the 
rest much imperfect ; but containing nobleness only to be 
learned by long dwelling on it. 

In this series, I have omitted one picture, 544, which is 
of scarcely any interest — except in its curious faults and 
unworthiness. At all events, do not at present look at it, 
or think of it ; but let us examine all the rest without 

In the first place, then, we find this curious fact, in- 





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tensely characteristic of the Fifteenth as opposed to the 
Nineteenth Century — that the figures are true and natural, 
but the landscape false and unnatural, being by such fallacy 
made entirely subordinate to the figures. I have never ap- 
proved of, and only a little understand, this state of things. 
The painter is never interested in the ground, but only in 
the creatures that tread on it. A castle tower is left a 
mere brown bit of canvas, and all his colouring kept for 
the trumpeters on the top of it. The fields are obscurely 
green ; the sky imperfectly blue ; and the mountains could 
not possibly stand on the very small foundations they are 
furnished with. 

Here is a Religion of Humanity, and nothing else, — to 
purpose. Nothing in the universe thought worth a look, 
unless it is in service or foil to some two-legged creature 
showing itself off to the best advantage. If a flower is in 
a girl's hair, it shall be painted properly; but in the fields, 
shall be only a spot ; if a striped pattern is on a boy's 
jacket, we paint all the ins and outs of it, and drop not a 
stitch ; but the striped patterns of vineyard or furrow in 
field, the enamelled mossy mantles of the rocks, the barred 
heraldry of the shield of the sky, — perhaps insects and 
birds may take pleasure in them, not we. To his own 
native lagunes and sea, the painter is yet less sensitive. His 
absurd rocks, and dotty black hedges — round bitumen- 
coloured fields (542), are yet painted with some grotesque 
humour, some modest and unworldly beauty ; and sustain 
or engird their castellated quaintnesses in a manner pleasing 
to the pre-Raphaelite mind. But the sea — waveless as a 


deal board — and in that tranquillity, for the most part re- 
flecting nothing at its edge, — literally such a sea justifies 
that uncourteous saying of earlier Venice of her Doge's 
bride, — " Mare sub pede pom '." ^ Of all these deficiencies, 
characteristic not of this master only, but of his age, you 
will find various analysis in the third volume of Modern 
Painters^ in the chapter on mediaeval landscape ; which be- 
gun examination of the causes which led gradually to more 
accurate observance of natural phenomena, until, by Turner, 
the method of Carpaccio's mind is precisely reversed, and 
the Nature in the background becomes principal ; the figures 
in the foreground, its foil. I have a good deal more, how- 
ever, to say on this subject now, — so much more, indeed, 
that in this little Guide there is no proper room for any of 
it, except the simple conclusion that both the painters are 
wrong in whatever they either definitely misrepresent or 
enfeeble by inharmonious deficiency. 

In the next place I want you to notice Carpaccio's fancy 
in what he does represent very beautifully, — the architecture, 
real and ideal, of his day. 

His fancy, I say ; or phantasy ; the notion he has of what 
architecture should be; of which, without doubt, you see 
his clearest expression in the Paradise, and in the palace of 
the most Christian king, St. Ursula's father. 

And here I must ask you to remember, or learn if you do 

• On the scroll in the hand of the throned Venice on the Piazetta side 
of the Ducal Palace, the entire inscription is, 

" Fords, justa, trono furias, mare sub pcde potto.'''' 

" Strong and just, I put the furies beneath my throne, and the sea be- 
neath my foot" 


not know, the general course of transition in the archi- 
tecture of Venice; — namely, that there are three epochs of 
good building in Venice; the first lasting to 1300, Byzan- 
tine, in the style of St. Mark's; the second, 1300 to 1480, 
Gothic, in the style of the Ducal Palace; and the third 
1480 to 1520, in a manner which architects have yet given 
no entirely accepted name to, but which, from the name 
of its greatest designer. Brother Giocondo, of Verona,^ I 
mean, myself, henceforward to call " Giocondine." 

Now the dates on these pictures of Carpaccio's run from 
1480 to 1485, so that you see he was painting in the youth- 
ful gush, as it were, and fullest impetus of Giocondine 
architecture, which all Venice, and chiefly Carpaccio, in the 
joy of art, thought was really at last the architecture di- 
vinely designed, and arrived at by steady progress of taste, 
from the Creation to 1480, and then the ne plus ultra^ and 
real Babel-style without bewilderment — its top truly reach- 
ing to heaven, — style which was never thenceforth to be 
bettered by human thought or skill. Of which Giocondine 
manner, I really think you had better at once see a substan- 
tially existing piece. It will not take long, — say an hour, 
with lunch ; and the good doorkeeper will let you come in 
again without paying. 

So, (always supposing the day fine), go down to your 
boat, and order yourself to be taken to the church 
of the Frari. Landing just beyond it, your gondoliers 

' Called " the second Founder of Venice," for his engineering work on 
the Brenta. His architecture is chiefly at Verona ; the style being adopted 
and enriched at Venice by tlie Lombardi. 


will show you the way, up the calle beside it, to the 
desolate little courtyard of the School of St. John the 
Evangelist. It might be one of the most beautiful scenes 
among the cities of Italy, if only the good Catholics of 
Venice would employ so much of their yearly alms in the 
honour of St. John the Evangelist as to maintain any old 
gondolier, past rowing, in this courtyard by way of a Pat- 
mos, on condition that he should suffer no wildly neglected 
children to throw stones at the sculptures, nor grown-up 
creatures to defile them ; but with occasional ablution by 
sprinkling from garden-water engine, suffer the weeds of 
Venice to inhabit among the marbles where they 

How beautiful the place might be, I need not tell you. 
Beautiful it is, even in its squalid misery ; but too probably, 
some modern designer of railroad stations will do it up with 
new gilding and scrapings of its grey stone. The gods 
forbid ; — understand, at all events, that if this happens to 
it, you are no more to think of it as an example of Gio- 
condine art. But, as long as it is let alone there, in the 
shafts and capitals you will see on the whole the most char- 
acteristic example in Venice of the architecture that Car- 
paccio, Cima, and John Bellini loved. 

As a rule, observe, square-pierced, not round-pillared ; — 
the square piers either sculptured all up with floral tracery, 
or, if plain, decorated, half-way up, by a round panel of 
dark-coloured marble or else a bas-relief, usually a classic 
profile i the capitals, of light leafage, playing or springing 
into joyful spirals at the angles ; the mouldings and cornices 


on the whole very flat and square-cut, — no solid round 
mouldings anywhere, but all precise, rectangular and shal- 
low. The windows and doors either square-headed or 
round, — never pointed ; but, if square-headed, having often 
a Greek gable or pediment above, as here on the outer wall ; 
and, if round-headed, often composed of two semicircles 
side by side, with a circle between : ^ the wall decoration 
being either of round inlaid marbles, among floral sculpture, 
or of fresco. Little to be conceived from words ; but if 
you will look well inside and outside of the cortile of the 
Evangelist, you will come away with a very definite primary 
notion of Giocondine work. 

Then back, with straight speed to the Academy ; and 
before landing there, since you can see the little square in 
front of it, from your boat, read on. 

The little square has its name written up at the corner, 
you see, — " Field of Charity," or rather of the Charity, 
meaning the Madonna of Charity, and church dedicated to 
her. Of which you see the mere walls, variously defaced, 
remaining yet in their original form, — traces of the great 
circular window in the front yet left, also of the pointed 
windows at the sides — filled up, many a year ago, and the 
square holes below cut for modern convenience : there being 
no space in the length and breadth of Italy to build new 

• In returning to your boat, just walk round to the back of the church 
of the Frari, and look at the windows of the Scuola di San Rocco, which 
will fix the form in your mind. It is an entirely bad one ; but took the 
fancy of men, for a time, and of strong ones, too. But don't stop long 
just now to look at this later building ; keep the St. John's cortile for your 
type of Giocondine work, pure. 


square-holed houses on, the Church of Charity must be 
used for makeshift. 

Have you charity of imagination enough to cover this 
little field with fresh grass, — to tear down the iron bridge 
which some accursed Englishman, I suppose, greedy for 
filthy job, persuaded the poor Venetians to spoil their 
Grand Canal with, at its noblest bend, — and to fill the 
pointed lateral windows with light tracery of quatrefoiled 
stone ? So stood, so bloomed, the church and its field, in 
early Fourteenth Century — dismal time ! the church in 
its fresh beauty then, built towards the close of the 
Thirteenth Century, on the sight of a much more 
ancient one, first built of wood; and, in iiig, of stone; 
but still very small, its attached monastery receiving Alex- 
ander III. in 1 177 ; — here on the little flowery field landed 
the Pontiff Exile, whose foot was to tread so soon on the 
Lion and the Adder. 

And, some hundred years later, putting away, one finds 
not why, her little Byzantine church, more gravely medi- 
tative Venice, visited much by Dominican and Franciscan 
friars, and more or less in cowled temper himself, built this 
graver and simpler pile ; which, if any of my readers care 
for either Turner or me, they should look at with some 
moments' pause ; for I have given Turner's lovely sketch 
of it to Oxford, painted as he saw it fifty years ago, with 
bright golden sails grouped in front of it where now is the 
ghastly iron bridge. 

Most probably, (I cannot yet find any direct document 
of it), the real occasion of the building of the church 


whose walls yet stand, was the founding of the Confrater- 
nita di S. Maria della Carita, on St. Leonard's Day, 6th 
November, 1260, which brotherhood, in 13 10, fought side 
by side with the school of the Painters in St. Luke's field, 
against one body of the conspirators for Bajamonte, and 
drove them back, achieving the right thenceforward of 
planting their purple standard there, in St. Luke's field, 
with their stemma ; (all this bears on Carpaccio's picture 
presently, so have patience yet a minute or two), and so 
increasing in number and influence, bought in 1344, from 
the Monks of the Church of Charity, the ground on which 
you are presently going to see pictures ; and built on it their 
cloister, dedicated also to St. Mary of Charity ; and over 
the gate of it, by which you are going to enter, put St. 
Mary of Charity, as they best could get her carved, next 
year, 1345 : and so you have her there, with cowled mem- 
bers of the confraternity kneeling to her; happy angels 
fluttering about her; the dark blue of her eyes not yet 
utterly faded from them. Blue-eyed as Athena she, — the 
Greek tradition yet prevailing to that extent, — a perfect 
type, the whole piece of purest central Fourteenth Cen- 
tury Gothic thought and work, untouched and indubitable 
of date, being inscribed below its bracket cornice, 

MCCCXLV. I Lo Tempo De Mis 
Marcho Zulian fo fato Sto Lavorier 

To-wit — "1345, in the time" (of the Guardianship) 
"of Messer Mark Julian, was made this laboured thing." 


And all seemed to bid fair for Venice and her sacred 
schools ; Heaven surely pleased with these her endeavours, 
and laboured things. 

Yes, with these, and such other, I doubt not. But other 
things, it seems, had been done in Venice, with which 
Heaven was not pleased ; assuming always that there is a 
Heaven, for otherwise — what followed was of course only 
process of Darwinian development. But this was what 
followed. That Madonna, with her happy angels and 
humble worshippers, was carved as you see her, over the 
Scuola cloister door, — in 1345. And " on the 25th of Janu- 
ary, 1347,^ on the day, to-wit, of the conversion of St. 
Paul, about the hour of vespers, there came a great earth- 
quake in Venice, and as it were in all the world ; and fell 
many tops of bell-towers, and houses, and chimneys, and 
the church of St. Basil : and there was so great fear that 
all the people thought to die. And the earth ceased not to 
tremble for about forty days j and when it remained quiet, 
there came a great mortality, and the people died of various 
evil. And the people were in so great fear that father 
would not go to visit son, nor son father. And this death 
lasted about six months ; and it was said commonly that 
there died two parts out of three, of all the people of 

These words you may read, (in Venetian dialect), after 

you have entered the gate beneath the Madonna ; they are 

engraved under the Gothic arch on your right hand ; with 

other like words, telling the various horror of that Plague ; 

1 1348, in our present calendar. 


and how the guardian of the Scuola died by it, and about 
ten of his officers with him, and three hundred of the 

Above the inscription, two angels hold the symbol of the 
Scuola; carved, as you see conspicuously also on the outer 
sculptures in various places ; and again on the well in the 
midst of the cloister. The first sign this, therefore, of all 
chosen by the greater schools of Venice, of which, as 
aforesaid, "The first was that of St. Mary of Charity, 
which school has its wax candles red, in sign that Charity 
should be glowing ; and has for its bearing a yellow " 
(meaning golden) " cross, traversing two little circles also 
yellow ; with red and green quartering the parts which the 
cross describes, — those who instituted such sign desiring to 
show thereby the union that Charity should have with 
Faith and Hope." 

The golden "anchored" cross stands for Faith, the 
golden outer circle for Charity, the golden inner for Hope 
— all on field quartered gules and vert, the colours of 
Charity and Hope. 

Such the first symbol of Venetian Brotherhoods, — in 
reading which, I delay you, that you may be better pre- 
pared to understand the symbolism running through every 
sign and colour in Venetian art at this time, down even to 
its tinting of wax candles ; art which was indeed all the 
more symbolic for being rude, and complicated much with 
the use of signals and heraldries at sea, too distant for any 
art in them to be visible, but serviceably intelligible in 


How far the great Scuola and cloisters of the Carita, for 
monks and confraternity together, reached from the gate 
under which you are pausing, you may see in Diirer's 
woodcut of the year 1500 (Correr Museum), which gives 
the apse with attached chapels; and the grand double 
cloister reaching back nearly to the Giudecca; a water- 
wheel — as I suppose — outside, on the (now filled up and 
paved) canal, moved by the tide, for molinary work in the 
kitchens. Of all which nothing now remains but these 
pillars and beams, between you and the gallery staircase ; 
and the well with two brothers on each side holding their 
Stemma, a fine free-hand piece of rough living work. You 
will not, I think, find that you have ill-spent your hour of 
rest when you now return into the Carpaccio room, where 
we will look first, please, at No. IV. (549), in which many 
general points are better shown than in the rest. 

Here is the great King of ideal England, under an 
octagonal temple of audience ; all the scene being meant to 
show the conditions of a state in perfect power and pros- 

A state, therefore, that is at once old and young ; that 
has had a history for centuries past, and will have one for 
centuries to come. 

Ideal, founded mainly on the Venice of his own day; 
mingled a little with thoughts of great Rome, and of great 
antagonist Genoa: but, in all spirit and hope, the Venice 
of 1480-1500 is here living before you. And now, there- 
fore, you can see at once what she meant by a " Campo," 
allowing for the conventional manner of representing grass. 


which of course at first you will laugh at ; but which is by 
no means deserving of your contempt. Any hack draughts- 
man of Dalziel's can sketch for you, or any member of the 
Water-colour or Dudley Societies dab for you, in ten min- 
utes, a field of hay that you would fancy you could mow, 
and make cocks of. But this green ground of Carpaccio's, 
with inplanted flowers and tufts of grass, is traditional from 
the first Greek-Christian mosaics, and is an entirely syste- 
matic ornamental ground, and to be understood as such, 
primarily, and as grass only symbolically. Careless indeed, 
more than is usual with him — much spoiled and repainted 
also ; but quite clear enough in expression for us of the 
orderliness and freshness of a Venetian campo in the great 
times ; garden and city you see mingled inseparably, the 
wild strawberry growing at the steps of the king's court of 
justice, and their marble sharp and bright out of the turf. 
Clean everything, and pure ; — no cigars in anybody's 
poisoned mouth, — no voiding of perpetual excrement of 
saliva on the precious marble or living flowers. Perfect 
peace and befittingness of behaviour in all men and 
creatures. Your very monkey in repose, perfect in his 
mediaeval dress ; the Darwinian theory in all its sacredness, 
breadth, divinity and sagacity, — but reposeful, not venturing 
to thrust itself into political council. Crowds on the bridges 
and quays, but untumultuous, close set as beds of flowers, 
richly decorative in their mass, and a beautiful mosaic of 
men, and of black, red, blue, and golden bonnets. Ruins, 
indeed, among the prosperity ; but glorious ones ; — not 
shells of abandoned speculation, but remnants of mighty 


State long ago, now restored to nature's peace; the arches 
of the first bridge the city had built, broken down by storm, 
yet what was left of them spared for memory's sake. (So 
stood for a little while, a few years ago, the broken Ponte- 
a-Mare at Pisa; so at Rome, for ages, stood the Ponte 
Rotto, till the engineers and modern mob got at it, making 
what was in my youth the most lovely and holy scene in 
Rome, now a place where a swineherd could not stand 
without holding his nose, and which no woman can 
stop at.) 

But here, the old arches are covered with sweet weeds, 
like native rock, and (for once !) reflected a little in the 
pure water under the meadowy hills. Much besides of 
noteworthy, if you are yourself worthy of noting it, you 
may find in this lovely distance. But the picture, it may 
be complained, seems for the most part — distance, architec- 
ture, and scattered crowd ; while of foreground objects, we 
have principally cloaks, and very curiously thin legs. ' 
Well, yes, — the distance is indeed the prettiest part of this 
picture ; and since, in modern art and drama, we have been 
accustomed, for anatomical and other reasons, to depend on 
nothing else but legs, I admit the supply of legs to be here 
scanty, and even of brachial, pectoral, and other admirable 
muscles. If you choose to look at the faces instead, you 
will find something in them ; nevertheless, Carpaccio has 
been, on the whole playing with hnnself and us, in his 
treatment of this subject. For Carpaccio is, in the most 

1 Not in the least unnaturally thin, however, in the forms of persons of 
sedentary life. 


vital and conclusive sense, a man of genius, who will not 
at all supply you, nor can in the least supply himself, with 
sublimity and pathos to order ; but is sublime, or delight- 
ful, or sometimes dull, or frequently grotesque, as Heaven 
wills it ; or — profane persons will say, — as the humour 
takes him. And his humour here has been dominant. 
For since much depends on the answer brought back from 
St. Ursula, besides the young Prince's happiness, one 
should have thought, the return of the embassy might have 
been represented in a loftier manner. But only two of the 
ambassadors are here ; the King is occupied in hearing a 
cause which will take long, — (see how gravely his minister 
is reading over the documents in question) ; — meantime 
the young prince, impatient going down the steps of the 
throne, makes his own private inquiries, proudly : " Your 
embassy has, I trust, been received, gentlemen, with a just 
understanding of our diplomatic relations ? " " Your Royal 
Highness," the lowly and gravely bowing principal am- 
bassador replies, " must yourself be the only fitting judge of 
that matter, on fully hearing our report." Meantime, the 
charge d'affaires holds St. Ursula's answer — behind his 

A piece of play, very nearly, the whole picture ; a 
painter living in the midst of a prosperous city, happy in 
his own power, entirely believing in God, and in the 
saints, and in eternal life ; and, at intervals, bending his 
whole soul to the expression of most deep and holy 
tragedy, — such a man needs must have his times of play ; 
which Carpaccio takes, in his work. Another man, in- 


Stead of painting this piece with its monkey, and its little 
fiddler, and its jesting courtiers, would have played some 
ape-tricks of his own, — spent an hour or two among literal 
fiddlers, and living courtiers. Carpaccio is not heard of 
among such — amuses himself still with pencil in hand, and 
us also, pleasantly, for a little while. 


{Raphael ) 


THE Madonna of the Diadem is a little later than the 
Aldobrandini Madonna. Supposing that the latter 
was painted in 1510 or 151 1, we may with great probabil- 
ity give the date 15 12 to the other. In these two pictures 
the figures are of almost the same dimensions; but from 
the first to the second they sensibly gain in idea as they do 
in style. The picture of the Aldobrandini House showed 
them only at half length and in a private dwelling ; more- 
over they dealt with individual and incidental circumstances, 
and the Virgin, in whom we might almost recognize a por- 
trait, only reached the ideal by means of an inner sentiment. 
In the Madonna of the Diadem^ these figures assume more 
picturesque independence and at the same time recover the 
universality of their moral significance. They appear entire, 
living and moving freely in the open air, under the hori- 
zons of the Eternal City, in the dazzling light of the 
Roman Campagna, and manifesting the affection of their 
souls in the presence of nature and ages marvellously inter- 
preted by Raphael's genius. In the Madonna of the Dia- 
dem^ Raphael has again taken up the motive that he had 
already essayed at Florence in the Madonna of the Veil. 
Only, by compressing his idea into a narrower frame, he 


has summarized it under a form the eloquence of which he 
had not suspected in 1508. The Virgin has made of her 
shawl a bed for the Infant Jesus to sleep on. In prayer, 
she watches over the slumbers of her Son, and, carefully 
lifting the veil that protected the infant, she gazes fixedly 
at this divine beauty ; she adores it but is not at all 
amazed at it, and remains calm and silent. The little 
St. John, on the contrary, allows his joy and admiration to 
break out, and pressing close against Mary, seems to want 
to spring towards Jesus. Such is this picture, which the 
masters before Raphael, about him, and after him, have re- 
peated everywhere, and which here attains its most complete 

So the Infant Jesus is reposing upon the Virgin's shawl, 
and upon this blue drapery his body assumes an extraordi- 
nary splendour. Nature is observed quite closely. The 
Son of God is at the same time the Son of Man, and if he 
beams with a divine brightness he yet satisfies all the human 
conditions of harmony and sensible beauty. Seated rather 
than reclining, with his loins supported by the folds of the 
vesture, his legs slightly spread apart and his left arm fall- 
ing down along his body, Jesus shows himself facing us 
so that we may lose none of his traits. Transparent shad- 
ows lightly caress him through the white glow that envelops 
him. What delicacy, notably in the shadow cast by the 
veil over the right forearm ! He slumbers in tranquillity, 
but his spirit watches and illumines his pensive and grave 
face. His short blond hair looks like the rays of an aureole 
gleaming upon his broadly cut brow. His lowered lids 



cover his eyes whence the tears of love are soon to flow ; 
his mouth, of severe lines, although silent, seems already 
accentuating itself for austere words; and, in this sleeping 
infant we recognize Him who one day shall dispense mercy 
and justice. It is the sleep of a God who must die in or- 
der to ransom us from Death. We are before one of those 
marvellous figures that we have already seen in the arms of 
the Virgin, and who is now going to manifest himself with 
still greater splendour in company with the little St. John. 
A grieving shadow hovers over this divine infant, and, 
without robbing him of any of his calm beauty, impresses 
upon him something of grandeur that attracts our souls and 
commands adoration. 

The Virgin, in fact, is adoring the Saviour, and from this 
adoration she draws strength and peace. Kneeling, or 
rather sitting on her legs doubled up under her, she stretches 
out her right arm towards Jesus and lifts the veil with her 
right hand, while she puts her left arm and hand about St. 
John and draws him lovingly towards her. What pre- 
cautions, what respect and what simplicity are contained in 
the gesture with which Mary uncovers the Son of God ! 
What tenderness and gentle familiarity are in the move- 
ment that draws the Forerunner to her ! But what is in- 
describable in this picture and suffices to lift us above the 
earth is the unmixed purity in this Virgin face. The head 
bending towards Jesus is almost in profile to the left. The 
brow is high without being excessively so. The hair, 
parted in bands and raised above the ears, leaves the temples 
bare and is arranged in thick masses at the back of the head 


and down the neck. It is crowned by a blue diadem; 
and from this diadem falls a veil, or rather a drapery, down 
the back, covering the shoulders, enveloping the left arm, 
and forming the background on which the contours of the 
head and torso are outlined. The eyes lowered on the 
Redeemer contemplate Him without astonishment : they 
know what they see and, by simplicity, they make us com- 
prehend it also. " Mary loved her divine Son as a mother, 
but she also loved Him as a Virgin : she considered Jesus 
Christ as a flower put forth by her integrity." It is with 
this sentiment that she gazes at Him with more than motherly 
eyes, since they are the eyes of a virgin mother. All her 
features, nose and mouth, chin and curve of the cheeks, are 
of such purity of line as to set aside every comparison and 
defy every model. The robing of this figure is exquisite, 
although very simple. A robe, rose in the high lights and 
red in the shadows, envelops the whole body, leaving bare 
the neck down to the beginning of the shoulders. The 
sleeves reach to the wrist; and a simple yellow border 
ornaments the top of the bodice. Over this robe, a blue 
tunic, caught at the right shoulder and tied to the body, 
passes across the breast transversely, covering the left side 
of it, and falls to the ground, almost entirely concealing the 
lower limbs, the red robe only being visible on the left leg. 
Does this vestment conform to the taste of the antique, or 
does it really belong to Sanzio's day ? I do not know. It 
bears in the highest degree the imprint of a grand style, and 
if it belongs to Sixteenth Century life, it also comes from 
Classical tradition. Moreover, what could be more ele- 


mentary ? Nothing in the form is laboured and there is 
nothing startling in the tones j but everything in it con- 
tributes to harmony. Red, blue and yellow mingle their 
individual notes in a perfect chord. The blue tunic sub- 
mits to the influence of the vicinity of the red robe : it 
shades into lilac in the high lights and into violet in 
the shadows; and the bright yellow drapery that falls 
from the blue diadem, as it touches the left shoulder as- 
sumes the transparency of a white veil. In this Virgin, 
Raphael did not copy any living reality : he took his ideal 
from the depths of his soul. He knew that the Virgin 
is the most beautiful as well as the most holy of living 
creatures, and that from the flowers of the field to the 
seraphim nothing is so beautiful as she; that above her 
there is only the infinite and creative Beautiful that was the 
fruit of her virginity. He knew this, and he has expressed 
it as no one else ever did and as nobody after him ever will. 
The little St. John reflects a more human but not less 
religious poetic idea. Kneeling beside the Virgin, and 
leaning his right arm against her, he joins his hands in 
ecstasy in the presence of the Saviour. His limbs are ro- 
bust and he has strong flesh colours. In him we see the 
germ of a man created for struggle and for the truth. His 
head, covered with abundant chestnut hair, is in left pro- 
file. At the sight of Jesus, the heart of the Forerunner 
leaps with love, overflows and breaks out in joyous accents. 
" He that loveth not, knoweth not God : for God is love." 
His fixed, brilliant eyes seem to be dazzled by the splendour 
of the divine beauty. His lips part and emit cries of ad-. 


miration. An unmixed fervour animates and transfigures 
this child, who in anticipation enjoys the ecstasy of the 
saints. Nevertheless he belongs to the earth, and his en- 
tirely human sentiment explodes in an accidental, unforeseen, 
transitory and almost noisy manner. It is not so with the 
Virgin, who, while living this mortal life, was marked from 
the beginning to be the sanctuary of sanctity. She is inac- 
cessible to astonishment, because ecstasy is constant in her; 
as is purity, submission, humility and sacrifice. St. John, 
on the contrary, who *' was not the light," but " the lamp 
that burneth and shineth," according to the Saviour's ex- 
pression, is almost fascinated by the splendour of Christ, 
and it is with high rapture that his eyes are fixed upon 
Jesus. This therefore is the relation that unites the three 
personages in this picture. The Infant Jesus is " the true 
light that lighteth every man coming into the world." The 
Virgin is thoroughly penetrated with this light because she 
has conceived and borne it. Finally, in the little St. John 
the Baptist, " the light shineth in the darkness," but this 
darkness is illuminated by it " so that we may understand 
that if the Forerunner shows Jesus Christ to the world, it 
is by the light that he receives from Jesus Christ Himself." 
To complete this picture, Raphael has evoked the natural 
scenery, the ruins and the memories of Rome. The im- 
provised bed of Jesus is backed up against a forgotten block 
of stone in the foreground of the landscape. Then come 
substructures which like dismantled ramparts are succeeded 
by half fallen arches and vaults. Vegetation, which is the 
life of ruins, has invaded these glorious fragments. Three 


little human figures appear in the distance as if to accent 
the disproportion that exists between the stature of man and 
the proud grandeur of his views. On the right, rises a 
solid and sombre flank of wall that, with the ruins on the 
opposite side, serves to frame the apparition that presents 
itself at the back of the picture. There mount one above 
another the palaces, thermae, basilicas and visions of the 
past mingled with the dreams of the future, and farther off^, 
towards the horizon, the high mountains covered with the 
eternal snows. What a lovely country ! What passionate 
admiration it arouses in us ! How we love it ! This is 
because in Rome and her surroundings, to delight, move 
and subjugate us, there is more than the beauty of line, 
more than the combined harmony of the heavens and the 
earth, there are the majesty and the history of thirty centuries 
that have rolled away. Poor Italy ! how she has suffered ! 
What carnage ! what blood ! what tears ! And yet, from 
the heart of all these ruins, from the midst of the extinct 
embers of so many successive generations, eternal hope 
always springs up. There it is alive, religious, poetic and 
charming in the figures of the Word, the Virgin and St. 
John. The colour of the sky dominates this picture 
throughout. The drapery upon which the Saviour is re- 
posing is blue ; the Virgin's diadem is also blue ; Mary's 
blue tunic almost extinguishes the red in her robe; and 
finally the atmosphere that bathes the city and the horizon 
is entirely blue. The whole creation seems to be rejoicing 
in this ideal light that penetrates all things and yet has noth- 
ing wounding in its brightness. 




THE fine portrait, of which an excellent reproduction 
is given here, belongs to the Museum of the Her- 
mitage, where it was entered in 1771, with the Crozat col- 
lection acquired at this time by order of the Empress 
Catherine H. through the agency of Diderot. For a long 
time this portrait was called that of Rembrandt's mother ; 
the new catalogue that appeared in 1895, written under the 
care of M. Somof, the learned and conscientious director 
of the Hermitage, has rendered justice to this purely gratui- 
tous denomination. They were accustomed in the last 
century to these more or less fantastic titles, which, they 
believed at that time, bestowed an additional interest and 
value upon the picture. Therefore, in many collections 
you still meet with a whole series of portraits, for which, if 
we may believe the catalogues, Rembrandt's nurse, his 
coachman, his cook and his maitre d" hotel posed. Rem- 
brandt, it is true, did not neglect using the models that were 
about him and, without mentioning himself, his brushes 
were exercised in turn upon his parents, his sister, his 
brothers, Saskia, his first wife, and Hendrickje Jaghers, the 
faithful companion of his old age, his friends and his kins- 
men. But the numerous authentic portraits of his mother, 




engraved or painted by the master in his youth, oppose in 
a positive fashion the appellation formerly attributed to the 
picture in the Hermitage, vv'hich bears, moreover, with 
Rembrandt's signature, the date 1654. However, the per- 
son represented certainly was one of the persons that be- 
longed to the artist's intimate life, for, in the same museum 
in Saint Petersburg, three other portraits made by him in 
the same period, another of almost equal worth and in ex- 
cellent preservation which is in the Moltke gallery in Co- 
penhagen, and finally a fifth quite damaged which is in the 
Musee d'Epinal, — it came from the collection of the 
Comtes de Salm — show us also the features of the same old 
woman, in whom we may perhaps see Hendrickje's mother, 
or some one of his relatives, who according to his native 
kindness, Rembrandt had at this time welcomed to his hearth. 
But no matter how this may be, if the name of the 
model has not been fixed upon, the opinion regarding the 
worth of the picture is unanimous. Artists and critics 
agree in recognizing it as one of the master's chefs d''ceuvre. 
To judge from the simplicity of her costume, the person is 
in a very modest condition, and neither her type nor her 
pose is designed to attract our attention. Seen almost in 
full face and seated in an arm-chair, with folded hands, the 
good dame is clothed in a reddish dress upon which is 
thrown a brown cape ; a white fichu covers her breast and 
a black hood throws a strong and transparent shadow upon 
her forehead. Her poor withered and drawn features, her 
wrinkled skin, her wearied and sunken eyes would not seem 
to offer any great picturesque resources to the artist. One 


docs not, however, dream of asking him how with such or- 
dinary materials, he has known how to produce a work 
which attracts and deeply moves us. 

The magic of Rembrandt's brush has transformed this 
humble model ; and the simplicity of the pose, the strength 
and suppleness of the composition, the largeness of the 
modelling, and above all the frankness and nobility of ex- 
pression attest the full maturity of the master. To see this 
manner of consulting nature, at once so respectful and free, 
one feels, in reality, that at this moment of his career he 
was in the full strength of his talent and the complete pos- 
session of his genius. About forty-eight years of age, liv- 
ing in retreat, and entirely for his art, he enjoyed, without 
having to share with any one, the only pleasures that had 
value in his eyes : the satisfaction of an opinionated work 
and the love of his home ; thus by the side of a wife who 
was entirely devoted to him, he could satisfy his mania for 
collecting and amassing, in true prodigality, those objects 
of art and curiosity which made his delight, but which, 
after his downfall, were soon dispersed. Indifferent to 
criticism, which thenceforth was not spared to him, he 
never cared much about public opinion. With the excep- 
tion of a few rare friends who remained faithful to him, he 
did not have much to do with his contemporaries; and he 
isolated himself more and more from his associates. When, 
in the very year that he painted this portrait, in the month 
of October, 1654, the members had reconstructed the guild 
of Saint-Luke, he withdrew himself, and his name never ap- 
pears upon the lists of that association. 


Holland was not then lacking in distinguished portrait 
painters, and the qualities of a penetrating observation and 
deep sincerity in the study of nature which characterize her 
school found their best employment in this branch of art. 
After Schoorel and after Antonio More, who, truly speak- 
ing, was a cosmopolitan, one saw a rich blossoming of 
masters such as Ravesteijn and Frans Hals, at the Hague 
and Haarlem ; also in Amsterdam, the names of Jacobsz, 
Cornelis Teunissen, Dirk Barentsen and Ketel ; and soon 
after them those of C. Van der Voort, Van Valckert and 
Nicolas Elias, were justly celebrated. But all had disap- 
peared, and Thomas de Keyser, with whom Rembrandt had 
formerly disputed his vogue, painted nothing but little can- 
vases. Bartholomew Van der Heist was at that time the 
most conspicuous portrait-painter. By his absolute correct- 
ness and his exceeding scrupulousness regarding like- 
nesses, he pleased more than Rembrandt the reigning taste 
which was inclining more and more towards a clearer, 
more equal and more sedate style of painting than 
his. To satisfy these preferences of the amateurs, Rem- 
brandt's pupils themselves, Govert Flinck and Ferdinand 
Bol, seemed to abandon their first manner so that they 
might attain as nearly as possible to that of Van Dyck. 

If, in the depths of his heart, Rembrandt had reason to 
be wounded by the neglect in which he was gradually 
left, it must be admitted that he brought it upon himself 
somewhat by the strangeness of his fantastic and even sav- 
age moods. Incapable of accommodating himself to the 
caprices of fashion, he would not submit to the slightest 


constraint, and away from the beaten paths, he agreed to 
give free play to the aspirations of his ardent nature, with- 
out any other concern than that of satisfying himself. He 
did not then suffer so very much from a neglect which al- 
lowed him to recover his entire independence. Choosing, 
therefore, his own subjects and models, he was free to pur- 
sue at his own pleasure, those disinterested studies, to which 
he gave himself unremittingly, even in old age and misery. 
Thenceforth, also, he understood what a fecund and new 
element he could make with the chiaroscuro. Many 
others, before him, had tried to find in the play of light and 
shadow the opportunity for piquant and unexpected prob- 
lems ; but none of his predecessors had thought of making 
the chiaroscuro an intimate expression of life and in put- 
ting, for which we must thank him, the salient features of 
a composition or figure in full evidence by subordinating 
the details according to their respective importance and in 
such a way as to allow only the most significant ones to 

With a thorough display of drawing and perfect correct- 
ness of modelling, the portrait of the old woman in the 
Hermitage possesses this superior charm of intimacy which 
belongs to Rembrandt only. He alone has known how to 
put with such penetration into the physiognomy, and above 
all into the gaze of his portraits, those mysterious reflections 
of the inner life that form the individual personality of 
each human being. This depth of moral sentiment he has 
expressed beyond all in certain portraits of old people, and 
of these he painted a great number. 


At the beginning of his career, and when he had scarcely 
arrived in Amsterdam, in a trice and for a brief time he 
was the favourite of fashion. Young, and elegant women, 
great personages, statesmen, physicians, ministers of differ- 
ent cults, and rich merchants came with the desire of 
posing in his studio. But, even at the height of his vogue, 
he reserved for himself the pleasure of satisfying his tastes, 
by choosing from the most modest conditions those types of 
models that fascinated him. Sandrart, who was a gentle- 
man and took pleasure in intercourse with the great, has 
reproached Rembrandt for seeking the society of humble 
people. The master had as much horror of the gross 
pleasures of some of his associates as he had of the frivo- 
lous banality of the worldly. But he felt drawn to those 
simple and loyal souls who, away from polite customs and 
even good society, knew how to preserve their moral 
dignity under the most modest conditions. He loved to 
discern their features and to express in those images which 
he has shown us that natural grandeur and nobility in a 
human face which show self-respect and the good use of life. 
It was by frequenting this humble society that the master 
discovered some of his simple and august faces, of so poetic 
and truthful an inspiration, which he has immortalized in 
such religious compositions as old Tobias groping along the 
road^ the Father of the Prodigal Son clasping him to his 
breast, Manoah praying with his wife, Jacob blessing his 
sons upon his death-bed, and many others of his most 
elevated creations. The old Woman of the Hermitage 
who so often tempted his brush can worthily hold her place 


among these. This poor old woman has been through 
much suffering, but in spite of the misfortunes of all kinds 
which she has had to undergo, an impressive expression of 
kindness, of calmness, and of supreme serenity dominates 
her face. The indifference of the pose, the gentle benevo- 
lence of her vague glance, and the marvellous harmony of 
her features lend to this work of the painter I know not 
what tender grace that, little by little, grows upon you and 
commands your respect. You forget to contemplate her 
and to interrogate her, for in this mute communication you 
are held by the touching gravity of her confidences. After 
all her trials, accepted with such an entire resignation, we 
are happy in the assurance of her near future. After this 
unspeakable mixture of the real and the ideal, of clearness 
and mystery which makes it a pure masterpiece, this simple 
portrait urges and invites us to that secret assistance 
which the greatest masters only have the power of awaking 
in us. In opening our souls and in communicating thus 
with us, they lift us up to themselves by the irresistible 
fascination of their genius. 



THE Ducal Palace still contains the most splendid 
manifestations of the genius of Paul Veronese. In 
that sanctuary of art called the Anti Collegio, where his 
glory might be expected to pale beside that of Tintoretto, 
four of whose best pictures are here — Mercury and the 
Graces^ VulcarCs Forge^ Pallas with 'Joy and Abundance^ and 
Ariane Consoled by Bacchus — it is nevertheless the Rape of 
Europa that commands the greatest attention and admira- 
tion from the majority of visitors. This picture was 
painted by Veronese at the noontide of his powers, and it 
makes an even greater impression on most people than the 
gorgeous Marriage of Cana of the Louvre. It is the very 
triumph and perfection of the art of painting, full of splen- 
dour and warmth, and animated with life in its gayest and 
most entrancing mood. It fills the eyes with delight and 
the heart with sensuous beauty. 

At the time when Caliari, better known as Paul Ver- 
onese, was born in Verona, a school was rising there whose 
works were distinguished by a scenic and purely decorative 
character. Venice had long shown this taste : there the 
choice of rich adjuncts to the main interest of the work, 
the introduction of hangings, wreaths, carpets and silks 


prevailed. This was the natural result of holding " the 
gorgeous East in fee." Paul Caliari shows this taste in 
fuller development perhaps than any other painter. Living 
amidst the most sumptuous costumes of silk, satin and 
brocade that fashion ever produced, he filled his great can- 
vases with patricians and their retinues in settings of more 
than royal magnificence. No matter what the subject — 
sacred, historical, emblematical or mythical — Veronese 
found himself forced to make his figures glitter with gems 
and rustle with silks. In his Marriage of St. Catherine^ 
for example, Christ's bride is crowned and amply robed in 
rich brocade, in which stuff the angel musicians are also 
gowned ; and above them rise marble columns draped with 
hangings of splendid silks. The Marriage of Carta and 
many another famous painting by this master show the 
same luxurious revelling. In a mythological subject, there- 
fore, such as the Rape of Europa^ it is not surprising to see 
the daughter of Agenor on the margin of the sea near 
Sidon robed, as are also her companions, in Venetian mag- 

In his representation of the scene, Veronese has closely 
followed Ovid's narration. In fact, if we reproduce part 
of his version, we shall be describing the picture. Jupiter 
has fallen in love with Europa as she sports with her com- 
panions, and at his behest the ever obsequious Mercury has 
driven a herd of cattle to the meads where the maidens are. 

" Mixing with the oxen, he lows, and in all his beauty, 
walks about upon the shooting grass. For his colour is that 
of snow, which neither the soles of hard feet have trodden 


upon, nor the watery South wind melted. His neck swells 
with muscles, dewlaps hang from between his shoulders. 
His horns are small indeed, but such as you might maintain 
were made with the hand, and more transparent than a 
bright gem. There is nothing threatening in his brow ; 
nor is his eye formidable ; his countenance expresses peace. 
The daughter of Agenor is surprised that he is so beautiful, 
and that he threatens no attack ; but although so gentle, she 
is at first afraid to touch him. Presently she approaches 
him, and holds out flowers to his white mouth. The lover 
rejoices, he gives kisses to her hands. And now he plays 
with her and skips upon the green grass ; and now he lays 
his snow-white side upon the yellow sand. And, her fear 
now removed by degrees, at one moment he gives his breast 
to be patted by the hand of the virgin ; at another his horns 
to be wreathed with new-made garlands. The virgin of 
royal birth even ventured to sit down upon the back of the 
bull, not knowing upon whom she was pressing. Then the 
God, by degrees moving from the land, and from the dry 
shore, places the fictitious hoofs of his feet in the waves 
near the brink. Then he goes still further and carries his 
prize over the expanse of the midst of the ocean. She is 
affrighted, and borne off, looks back on the shore she has 
left ; and with her right hand she grasps his horn, while the 
other is placed on his back; her waving garments are ruffled 
by the breeze." 

The painter of this picture charmingly follows the naive 
methods of early art, and shows us three separate scenes of 
Europa's abduction, though the two subordinate ones do 


not in any way detract from the interest of the chief cen- 
tral episode. In the foreground, Europa is taking her seat 
on the back of the kneeling bull ; in the middle distance 
the bull with his precious burden is slowly moving away, 
preceded by Cupid and accompanied by Europa's compan- 
ions, — all is still confidence and girlish gaiety. Finally in 
the background, the bull has gained the strand, swiftly 
speeding to the deep, Europa already is terrified as she 
realizes her danger. She is seen turning back, and calling 
to her playmates, and stretching out her arms to them. 
They have frantically rushed into the waves after her, but 
the sea grows smooth before the feet of Jupiter, who 
leaves them far behind as he fares with unwetted hoofs over 
the wide waves. 

The central group in the foreground is one of rare charm 
and grace. The divine bull, snow-white in hue, kneels 
and forms a sort of ivory throne for the temporary queen 
of his devotion. A smiling landscape stretches all around 
him, and above him lean trees loaded with fruit. His 
limbs, head and body are of delicate and beautiful form. 
His small and shining horns and his ears are garlanded 
with flowers. His eyes are full of a caressing languor, as he 
bows his head to lick Europa's left foot. The latter is 
seated on his back. Her beautiful arms are bare to above 
the elbows and, with the exception of sandals laced with 
thongs, her feet and ankles are also bare. Her head 
slightly bends to the left and upwards, showing almost a 
full face. Her figure has that opulence of curve and propor- 
tion in which Veronese delights. Her robe has fallen away 


leaving her bosom bare, and one of her attendants is bend- 
ing down, showing a beautiful figure charmingly fore- 
shortened, and clasping at Europa's left shoulder a richly 
jewelled, transverse girdle. Another companion is adjust- 
ing Europa's ample draperies and making her position com- 
fortable on the amiable bull's back before starting on the 
novel ride through the meadows. This attendant is re- 
proving a big, snarling dog, who apparently has penetrated 
the god's disguise, and wants to save his mistress. 
Europa's robe is of the rich materials and hues in which 
this artist delighted. A necklace of pearls, with which 
Veronese so often adorns his female figures, decks her 
beautiful neck, a rich bracelet clasps her wrist, and her 
abundant tresses are waved back from her low broad brow 
and fall down her back. Above in the air, hovering cupids 
pluck fruits and extend coronals of blossoms from the trees 
to two other of the princess's attendants, who raise their 
hands in graceful attitudes to receive them. The whole 
sentiment of the scene is reminiscent of the toilette of 
Venus j and indeed neither the Queen of Love and Beauty, 
nor her Graces, would be shamed by the lovely forms 
given by Veronese to Europa and her companions. The 
bending trees cast an aqueous green shadow over all this 
group. The whole picture is a marvel of light and colour, 
and smiles with eternal youth and joyous vitality. Sky, 
shadows, trees, flowers, meads, waves, flesh tints and 
draperies all seem to be bathed in the glow of an unknown 
Elysium, Everything palpitates with life, youth and love ; 
everything is fresh, tender and seductive; everything is joy- 


ous, calm and pure. There is nothing mannered in the 
grace of this composition, and nothing unwholesome in this 
radiant gaiety. Watteau doubtless derived the inspiration 
for his Depart pour Cythere from this picture ; which indeed 
contains the same elements of fashionable distinction, 
though of an earlier and less artificial period. The female 
forms are superb in their opulence ; Venetian delight and 
Greek beauty decked with flowing and lively draperies are 
here happily mingled. This picture is only one of many 
examples that show how adept Veronese is in covering the 
antique with the costume of his day without leaving any 
feeling of anachronism, awkwardness, or unreality. 

There are several variants of this picture; the best 
known of these are in Dresden, Rome, and London. The 
picture now in the Ducal Palace in Venice was taken to 
Paris with other Italian masterpieces when Napoleon looted 
Italy of so many of its art treasures. In Paris, it suffered 
considerably from irreverent " restoration." However, a 
replica of this picture in the Capitoline Museum, Rome, 
would appear to have suffered still more from this species 
of vandalism. This picture is considered by some critics 
to be the first draught of the work. Its colour, however, 
is completely lacking in transparency; and even the draw- 
ing is not distinguished by the elegance that the picture in 
Venice possesses in such a marked degree. Among the 
subjects taken from Greek mythology, none has appealed 
to great painters more strongly than that of the Rape of 
Europa. In addition to the replicas attributed to Veronese 
himself, the subject was treated by Titian in his old age. 


This picture passed from the Orleans gallery into England. 
Florence also possesses a Europa by Albano ; and Munich 
another by Domenichino. Numerous other masters have 
been attracted by this myth, among whom may be men- 
tioned Rembrandt, Annibal and Ludovico Caracci, Guido, 
Claude Lorraine, Mignard, Natoire and Boucher. Nor 
must we forget a charming little bronze by Benvenuto 
Cellini, which may be seen in the Corsini Palace, in Rome. 
The principal engravings after the Rape of Europa by 
Veronese are by P. Bettelini, F. Renaldi, Edme Jeaurat and 
Re veil. 


{Hunt) ' 


MR. HUNT has never explained his work to me. I 
give what appears to me its palpable interpretation. 

The legend beneath it is the beautiful verse, — " Behold, 
I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice, 
and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup 
with him, and he with me." — Rev. iii, 20. On the left 
hand side of the picture is seen this door of the human 
soul. It is fast barred ; its bars and nails are rusty ; it is 
knitted and bound to its stanchions by creeping tendrils of 
ivy, showing that it has never been opened. A bat hovers 
about it } its threshold is overgrown with brambles, nettles, 
and fruitless corn, — the wild grass, '' whereof the mower 
fiUeth not his hand, nor he that bindeth sheaves his 
bosom." Christ approaches it in the night time, — Christ, 
in his everlasting offices of prophet, priest, and king. He 
wears the white robe, representing the power of the Spirit 
upon him ; the jewelled robe and breastplate, representing 
the sacerdotal investiture ; the rayed crown of gold, in- 
woven with the crown of thorns, but now bearing soft 
leaves, for the healing of the nations. 

Now, when Christ enters any human heart, he bears 
with him a two-fold light. First the light of conscience. 



which displays past sin, and afterwards the light of peace, 
the hope of salvation. The lantern, carried in Christ's 
left hand, is this light of conscience. Its fire is red and 
fierce ; it falls only on the closed door, on the weeds which 
encumber it, and on an apple shaken from one of the trees 
of the orchard, thus marking that the entire awakening of 
the conscience is not merely to committed, but to heredi- 
tary guilt. 

This light is suspended by a chain, wrapt about the 
wrist of the figure, showing that the light which reveals 
sin appears to the sinner also to chain the hand of Christ. 

The light which proceeds from the head of the figure, 
(5n the contrary, is that of the hope of salvation ; it springs 
from the crown of thorns, and, though itself sad, subdued, 
and full of softness, is yet so powerful that it entirely melts 
into the glow of it the forms of the leaves and boughs, 
which it crosses, showing that every earthly object must be 
hidden by this light, where its sphere extends. 

I believe there are very few persons on whom the pic- 
ture, thus justly understood, will not produce a deep im- 
pression. For my own part, I think it one of the very 
noblest works of sacred art ever produced in this or any 
other age. 

It may, perhaps, be answered, that works of art ought 
not to stand in need of interpretation of this kind. Indeed, 
we have been so long accustomed to see pictures painted 
without any purpose or intention whatsoever, that the un- 
expected existence of meaning in a work of art may very 
naturally at first appear to us an unkind demand on the 


spectator's understanding. But in a few moments more I 
hope the English public may be convinced of the simple 
truth, that neither a great fact, nor a great man, nor a 
great poem, nor a great picture, nor any other great thing, 
can be fathomed to the very bottom of in a moment of 
time } and that no high enjoyment, either in picture-seeing 
or any other occupation, is consistent with a total lethargy 
of the powers of the understanding. 

As far as regards the technical qualities of Mr. Hunt's 
painting, I would only ask the spectator to observe this 
difference between true pre-Raphaelite work, and its imita- 
tions. The true work represents all objects exactly as 
they would appear in nature in the position and at the 
distances which the arrangement of the picture supposes. 
The false work represents them with all their details, as if 
seen through a microscope. Examine closely the ivy on 
the door in Mr. Hunt's picture, and there will not be found 
in it a single clear outline. All is the most exquisite 
mystery of colour; becoming reality at its due distance. 
In like manner, examine the small gems on the robe of the 
figure. Not one will be made out in form, and yet there 
is not one of all those minute points of green colour, but it 
has two or three distinctly varied shades of green in it, 
giving it mysterious value and lustre. 

The spurious imitations of pre-Raphaelite work repre- 
sent the most minute leaves and other objects with sharp 
outlines, but with no variety of colour, and with none of 
the concealment, none of the infinity of nature. 


(Jjionardo da Vinct) 


HERE is a work of singular nobility and prodigious 
virtuosity, but also one in which the recognized 
religious proprieties are strangely sacrificed. Lionardo left 
foolish scruples to fools and cared very little about what 
there might be in his paintings to scandalize common 
reason, which, moreover, he did not confound with com- 
mon sense. The St. Anne routs criticism and defies 
analysis. Its conception is odd and improbable. But what 
does that matter, so long as the beauties revealed in it are 
great ? 

The Virgin, sitting on St. Anne's lap, leans over towards 
the Infant Jesus who with both hands is holding a lamb by 
the ears and trying to climb upon its back. Whatever in- 
terest is found in the figure of this Bambino and although 
its head is very beautiful, yet a pupil or imitator of the 
master might have painted it. Moreover, it is not finished 
and many weak points are left in it. It is quite otherwise 
with St. Anne and the Virgin, to which figures Lionardo 
has entirely devoted himself. The great interest of the 
picture lies in these. One is the mother of the other, but 
Lionardo scarcely pays any attention to that. It strikes his 
fancy to represent a group of two figures, young with the 

228 ST. ANNE 

same youth and beautiful with the same beauty : that cuts 
short all objections. From the point of view of the evan- 
gelic drama, there was a contrast to be drawn between 
these two women. St. Anne can smile without any hidden 
thoughts at the pranks of the Bambino^ but the Virgin can- 
not, for, being in the secrets of God, the lamb, the em- 
blem of sacrifice, must awake in her the presentiment of 
the cross. Lionardo sets this distinction also entirely 
aside. The Virgin and St. Anne shall be animated with 
the same joy : his picturesque combinations demand this, 
and so much the worse for the Christian idea if it does not 
receive its daes here. Here, therefore, we have neither St. 
Anne nor the Virgin : the former is far from the Biblical 
austerity that should belong to the spouse of St. Joachim, 
and the latter is still farther from the divine humility that 
is the symbol of the mother of Jesus ; but the concord of 
these two faces is ravishing, and the harmony of their 
smiles is one of the most harmonious that ever could be 
dreamed of. Both are enchantresses endowed with that 
Italian beauty that bursts forth and is always accompanied 
with majesty. One would credit them with being made of 
light and shadow. Life flows in them with brimming 
banks without the appearance of any gross clay. Enig- 
matic and mysterious, animated by a strange sensibility — I 
was about to say sensuality — they provoke admiration 
whilst at the same time trowfeling the soul with an emotion 
that almost amounts to enervation. 

St. Anne is seated facing us, with her left hand proudly 
planted on her hip and her right arm enveloped in the 



ST. ANNE 229 

violet drapery of her mantle. Her head, ^yound with thick 
bands of brown hair covered with a transparent veil, is ani- 
mated with a gaiety that is charming and full of youth. 
What is visible of her neck and breast is bare, and bare also 
are her feet. She is the axis of the picture, to which, very 
properly, she has given her name. What character there 
is in her physiognomy ! With what native grandeur, 
nobility arid pride she bears herself! The Virgin, sitting 
on her mother's knees, is three-quarters right ^ face. Her 
opulent and waving tresses fall down along her cheeks and 
behind her neck. Her head, her breast, her arms and her 
right leg and foot are stretched out almost horizontally in 
front, while her left leg is bent almost vertically backwards. 
Her robe, very low in the neck, does not hide any of the 
throat or shoulders; the veilings are present only to en- 
hance her beauty. Her body, moulded in the vesture that 
harmoniously outlines its forms, has something of the 
decent boldness of beautiful nudities. And it is quite a 
profane seductiveness that inflames the face. Nowhere has 
Lionardo more happily reproduced the type of woman that 
pursued him. What charm there is in this whole figure ! 
What suppleness there is in its action, and what spontane- 
ity in its gesture ! But at the same time, how very far this 
pretended Virgin is from what she should be ! This then 
is what the greatest of Florentine painters made of the 
Mother of the Word ! What would John of Fiesole have 
thought in the presence of such an image ? The times, it 
is true, had changed. The Renaissance, having arrived at 
the apogee of its grandeur, knew too much of tke world to 

230 ST. ANNE 

have retained much of God, and certainly it was not upon 
his knees that Lionardo painted. ^ 

But let us not decry masterpieces, and, pygmios as we 
are, let us not haggle over our admiration of them ! What 
a magnificent equilibrium exists between these two figures 
of St. Anne and the Virgin ! How they hold together, and 
what elegance and solidity there are in the ties that unite 
them ! They are not above the natural size and yet they 
appear colossal. And the landscape that serves as a back- 
ground to them adds something unfathomable to their size. 
Lionardo's passion for science declares itself in the humblest 
things. This universal investigator knew plants and stones 
by their virtues quite as much as he loved them for their 
beauties. His rocky foregrounds evince an art that desires 
to penetrate the whole of nature, and his horizons mount to 
the sublime in poetic picturesqueness.^ What a striking 

' Lionardo ventured as far as possible into the domains of religious prof- 
anations. Yielding to the sacrilegious demands of I^udovico il Moro, it is 
said that more than once he took Cecilia Gallevani, the mistress of his all- 
powerful protector, as a model in his religious pictures. Sometimes he 
disguised her as a saint and sometimes as a Virgin. Amoretti cites a 
picture of a Virgin beneath which Lionardo had written these verses : 
" Per Cecilia qual tt orna, lauda e adora 
El tuo unico figliolo, beata Vergine, exora." 

The portrait of Cecilia Gallevani, now lost, during the last century 
belonged to the Marquis Boncvana. 

* On the right we see a clump of trees that has not been carried beyond 
the stage of sketch. In his Treatise on painting, Lionardo himself has 
told us what importance he attributed to landscape. He required a painter 
to be universal in his art, and denounced those who attached too little im- 
portance to the study of landscape to spend any time on it, " like our friend 
Botticelli, who sometimes said that it is enough to throw a sponge soaked 
with various colours haphazard at a wall, so that a stain may be printed on 
it in which with a little imagination one may see a landscape." 

ST. ANNfc. 231 

opposition there is between the smiling faces of the picture 
and the gulfs of those fantastic distances in which the gaze 
loses itself in a sort of vertigo. Do not our souls recognize 
an incomparable beauty of isolation in those deserts bristling 
with peaks resembling ruins ? ^ 

So far, it has been impossible to assign a date to this 
picture. When Lionardo returned to Florence from Milan 
about the year 1500, the Servite Friars had just ordered 
from Filippino Lippi a picture of St. Jnne for the high 
altar of the Annunz,iata. The excellent Filippino, having 
learned that Lionardo regretted not having been entrusted 
with this work, abandoned it to him, and Lionardo immedi- 
ately went and took up his quarters with the Servites, who 
fed him and paid all his expenses. After long hesitation, 
he made his cartoon, representmg St. Anne, the Virgin, the 
Infant Jesus and St. John the Baptist. This sketch was 
exhibited, and gained an ovation for Lionardo. It was ad- 
mired not only by the painters, but the multitude also 
flocked to look at it. They thronged about it as at solemn 
festivals. The triumph was complete. Lionardo prom- 
ised to execute the work, but he did nothing to it. The 
cartoon, which Vasari describes in detail is in fact one of 
remarkable beauty. It may be seen at the Royal Academy 
in London, where one may satisfy oneself that it does not 

' Several very beautiful designs for this St. Anne picture are known. 
M. femile Gallichon's collection alone contained two. In another sketch 
for the same picture, Lionardo tried the employment of a waterfall. We 
see that science ceaselessly pursued him, and possessed him even when he 
was painting. Or rather, art and science were never more strictly con- 
founded, or more completely in accord than in this miglity genius. 

232 ST. ANNE 

in the least conform with the picture. However, notwith- 
standing the differences presented by these two pictures, 
there are intimate bonds between them. When all Florence 
had admired the Servites' cartoon, Lionardo found some 
weak points in it, and became disgusted with it. In this 
cartoon, the Virgin is half sitting on St. Anne, and their 
heads are close together, in the same plane and on the 
same horizontal line. Notwithstanding the charm of this 
very beautiful sketch, this gives rise to a certain indecision 
in the attitudes, and a little monotony in the lines. As for 
the Infant Jesus, who is springing from his mother's arms 
to bless the little St. John who is kneeling before him, he 
has nothing in common with the Infant Jesus of the finished 
picture. Moreover, this group of the two children was a 
theme that had already been done to death. Lionardo 
might have done as Raphael did, — repeat it again and 
again without ever exhausting it ; but he found it simpler 
to renounce it. The cartoon was abandoned, and years 
passed before the great artist thought again of taking up the 
idea of painting the St. Anne. When he set to work again 
at this picture, he had without doubt definitely left Florence 
to install himself again in Milan. It would therefore be 
between 1507 and 151 2 that he executed the picture in 
which he adopted the great picturesque version that we see 
in the Louvre. What authorizes this supposition is that 
we are almost fully acquainted with the use that Lionardo 
made of his time in Florence between 1500 and 1507. 
His contemporaries are very explicit in this respect : they 
state that the cartoon of the Annun-z.iata was not followed 

ST. ANNE 233 

by any picture representing the same subject at this period. 
What makes us think furthermore that the St. Jnne was 
executed at Milan is the vogue it had around Milan during 
Lionardo's lifetime, and the great number of copies that 
were made from it by the best Lombard painters of the 
school. It is also to be noted that the work of the master 
remained in Lombardy until the Seventeenth Century, which 
constitutes another presumption in favour of its having been 
painted there. It was in Lombardy that Richelieu found 
it, when he arrived to command in person at the siege of 
Casala in 1629. Brought into France by him, the St. Jnne 
then found a place in the gallery of the Palais Cardinal, 
and afterwards entered the Cabinet of Louis XIV. Since 
then it has never ceased to belong to France. It is found 
in the inventory of the king's pictures at the beginning of 
the Eighteenth Century, and it is now one of the most 
precious gems in our national museum. 

Finally, let us note that this picture is still unfinished. 
However wonderful it may appear to us, Lionardo was not 
satisfied with it. The figures of St. Anne and the Virgin did 
not please him, and their draperies remained partly in the 
sketch stage. We know that Lionardo never succeeded in con- 
tenting himself. Vasari says that this great mind, by means 
of heaping excellence upon excellence and perfection upon 
perfection, carried his work to that point noted by Petrarch : 
" Che roprae ritardata dal desio" tothat moment when every 
human work is arrested by the desire^ by something unknown 
that cannot be attained something of which the soul has a pre- 
sentiment, but the possession of which is prohibited to us. 




IS it not strange that the most celebrated works of the 
great Italian painter Pietro Vannucci, called Perugino, 
are not to be found in the galleries of Italy and that it is 
outside his native country, scattered in the great European 
museums, that one must seek his most perfect works, — 
those that best exhibit the scope of his wonderful talent ? 
Let us mention the Jpparttion of the Virgin to Saint Ber- 
nard in the Pinakothek of Munich ; the Madonna between 
Saint Peter^ Saint Paul^ Saint "Jerome and Saint "John 

* The Hebrew legend of Tobit and his son Tobias (told in the Book 
of Tobit in the Apocrypha) was a favourite one with the Mediaeval Church, 
and became therefore a traditional subject for painting. Tobit, a Jewish 
exile, having fallen also into poverty, and afterwards becoming blind, 
prays for death rather than life, in noble despair. " To him the angel of 
all beautiful life (Raphael) is sent, hidden in simplicity of human duty, 
taking a servant's place for hire to lead his son in all right and happy 
ways of life, explaining to him, and showing to all of us who read, in 
faith, forever, what is the root of all the material evil in the world, the 
great end of seeking pleasure before use " [Fors Clavigera, 1877). Here 
we see Raphael leading the young Tobias into Media, where he was to 
marry Sara, his rich kinswoman, the daughter of Raguel. But she was 
haunted by an evil spirit, who had slain her seven husbands, each on their 
wedding day, and the angel bade Tobias take the gall of a certain fish, 
wherewith afterwards to heal his father's blindness and hardness of heart 
and liver wherewith to drive away the evil spirit from his bride. Tobias 
is carrying the fish, Raphael has a small box for the gall. — Cook. 




Baptist in the Belvedere Museum, Vienna ; The Ascension 
in the Museum of Lyons, which formerly decorated the 
high altar of the Cathedral of Padua ; and the Sposalizio in 
the Museum of Caen, that came from the Chapelle du 
Saint-Anneau of the same church. These are important 
works which should be counted among the most delicate 
and pleasing ones of the master; but it is in the National 
Gallery in London that his most perfect chef d''oeuvre is 
found, the one that best enables us to appreciate the mys- 
tical aspect of his genius, the extreme cleverness of his brush 
and the rare talent which knew how to render the expres- 
sion of the human form. 

This picture is in three compartments, the principal of 
which shows us the Virgin on her knees in a landscape, 
adoring the Infant Christ who is presenting an angel to her, 
while above, in the clouds, three angels are chanting the 
praises of the Saviour; the second, Saint Michael^ seen full 
face and standing; and the third which represents the Arch- 
angel Raphael holding young Tobias by the Hand seems, if pos- 
sible, superior to the two others and merits all our attention. 

The scene is of the simplest. It takes place in a land- 
scape shut in by quite low hills ; and the two personages, 
the Archangel Raphael and young Tobias, are placed ex- 
actly in the foreground, upon a hillock sown with all kinds 
of flowers, their feet almost on the edge of the frame, and 
standing very high above the horizon. The archangel is 
represented as a handsome and slender young man with fine 
blond hair falling over his shoulders ; his head is slightly 
inclined to the right; his half-opened wings seem set with 


precious stones ; the tunic, a little loose, is confined only 
at the waist, cut out a little upon the chest, revealing the 
harmonious lines of the neck, and falling to the feet which 
are bare and admirably drawn j the cloak is carelessly 
looped over the hips. In his left hand brought up to the 
height of his chest, the archangel holds a little box ; his 
right hand, with graceful action, clasps that of Tobias, 
who lifts his eyes towards his guide and contemplates him 
with a tender and submissive glance; suspended by a string 
upon his right wrist, the latter carries the fish, the gall of 
which is to restore his old father's sight. The painter has 
represented young Tobias in the elegant costume worn by 
the Italian nobility at the end of the Fifteenth Century. 
A nimbus encircles his head. 

It would be impossible to carry any further than the old 
Umbrian master has done in this panel natvete and delicacy 
of expression, purity and correctness of drawing, grace and 
religious sentiment, tenderness and beauty of colouring, 
taste in the attitudes, and a strange and somewhat peculiar 
charm ; impossible ever to find lines that are happier or 
more delicate. This is certainly Perugino's most finished 
work, — the one that marks the height of his genius. The 
painter's talent, which had nothing to do but grow in order 
to reach this culminating point, began to decline little by 
little. The coming of a new century, — of that superb and 
pompous Sixteenth Century, — was for this mystical and 
tender quattrocentiste^ an ill-omened date. Was it owing to 
age — he was about to pass his fiftieth year ? Did he doubt 
himself at the sight of the productions of the new masters? 


we know nothing about it. But from this moment all his 
works are but a pale reflection of those which had shone 
with so much brilliancy during his youth and his mature 
years. The gentle genius, which was the glory of the 
Umbrian School, became obscured and eclipsed. The 
poor artist even came in his last years to copy and make sad 
thefts from his former compositions, without even taking 
any pains to dissimulate. 

But let us return to our triptych in the National Gallery, 
which the painter was pleased to sign, for he has inscribed 
on the left panel : Petrus Peruginius pinxit. Despite the 
signature which seems authentic, perhaps indeed because of 
the signature, although in works of art it does not mean 
very much, certain critics, and not of the least authority, 
Rumohr, Passavant, etc., are not far from believing that in 
this work, and particularly for the panel of young Tobias 
and the archangel Raphael, Perugino was helped by his 
pupil, the divine Sanzio. To support their opinions, we 
must notice the analogy that exists between this last picture 
and a drawing representing the same subject executed upon 
tinted paper and attributed to Raphael. This design, now 
in Oxford, was previously in the Lawrence collection. 
But without casting a doubt upon his prerogative certified 
by Dr. Waagen, what is to prove that Raphael did not 
imitate or copy his master ? Let us not forget either that 
he was very young when this panel was painted, that is to 
say between the years 1497 ^"^ 1500. Until the contrary 
is proved, we shall continue to attribute this masterpiece to 
the great Umbrian painter. 


This superb page is but the half of a vast composition 
executed by Perugino for the decoration of the high altar of 
the church of the Chartreuse in Pavia, and formed two 
triptychs superimposed. These two triptychs are still in 
their place, but of the six pictures that they contain, only 
one, representing God the Father^ is from the hand of the 
painter, the others have been replaced by copies; other 
copies also hold the place of the composition now in 

And this is the way that splendid altar decoration came 
to the National Gallery. For a long time, it had been in the 
Palais Melzi in Milan. One of the heads of that ancient 
family had bought it at the Chartreuse in Pavia from which 
it was taken in a moment of pressing need for money in 
1786. In 1859, '^'^ Charles Eastlake bought it in his turn 
from the Due de Melzi, for the London museum, for 3571 
pounds sterling, which in French money equals 89.265 
a francs, considerable sum. forty years ago, but which certainly 
would be exceeded to-day, if a work of such value were put 
up at auction. 

Let us finish with a few short biographical details of 
Perugino, little known, or badly known, until these last 
years, on account of the calumnies that Vasari has heaped 
upon his memory. We know that the brutal animosity of 
the author of the Lives of the greatest Painters^ Sculptors^ and 
Architects with regard to Pietro Vannucci had its source in 
the quarrel that the latter, already old, had in Florence with 
young Buonarroti who, in a fit of anger, had treated him in 
public like a blockhead, or something equivalent, and for 


this behaviour, he summoned him before the Tribunal of 
the Eight, who did not grant the satisfaction that he had 
hoped for. But was this a sufficient reason for Vasari to 
stand up in revenge for Michelangelo, his future master, and 
to represent the great Umbrian artist without the least ap- 
pearance of veracity, — as a miser, a vile speculator, and a 
despicable man ? 

Pietro Vannucci, called Perugino, was born in 1446, at 
Citta della Pieve, near Perugia, where he established him- 
self, and from which is derived the name by which he is 
generally called. His first master, whom he left to study 
in Florence under the guidance of Andrea Verocchio, is 

His first authentic work is a fresco which he painted in 
the chapel of Cerquito, near Perugia, in 1478. Then re- 
turning to Florence, Perugino executed there various 
works, most of which have now disappeared, that made 
him known. His reputation was quickly established and 
orders were not slow in coming to him from all sides. We 
know of numerous compositions of his in fresco, distemper 
and oil, which he was one of the first in Italy to use, in 
Siena, Vallombrosa, Bologna, Padua and Naples, etc., but 
very few of them have come down to us intact. Towards 
1480, he was called to Rome by Pope Sixtus IV., who was 
about to erect in the Vatican the famous Chapel that bears 
his name, and who ordered him to paint some frescoes in 
it, two of which still exist. This was not the limit of his 
work in the Eternal City ; he painted also in the Colonna 
Palace, and in the church of Saint Mark ; but all of these 


works have been destroyed ; in the rooms of the Vatican 
also you can see a fresco by him, but it is of a much later 
date and far from being one of his best compositions. In 
1495, Pietro Vannucci returned to Perugia, and it was 
there that Raphael, barely twelve years old, became his 
pupil. A little later, he returned to Florence and it was 
during this sojourn in the city of the Medici that his quar- 
rel with Michelangelo, of which we said a few words a 
moment ago, took place. Returning permanently to Peru- 
gia, which he never left again except for rare and short in- 
tervals, he was charged with the important decoration of 
the Sala del Cambio. When old age came upon him, he did 
not abandon his brush but remained at his post. The 
works of his old age unhappily show the effects of his 
years, among others, his pictures in the Duomo of his native 
Citta della Pieve ; but let us not insist upon these last 
works, so little worthy of the master; we have already 
spoken of them. 

Perugino died in Castillo de Fontignano in 1524, at the 
age of seventy-eight ; with him ends the Umbrian school 
of which he was the most brilliant example. 




ROSSETTI'S Annunciation differs from every previous 
conception of the scene known to me, in repre- 
senting the angel as waking the Virgin from sleep to give 
her his message. The Messenger himself also differs from 
angels as they are commonly represented, in not depending 
for recognition of his supernatural character, on the inser- 
tion of bird's wings at his shoulders. If we are to know 
him for an angel at all, it must be by his face, which is 
that simply of youthful, but grave, manhood. He is 
neither transparent in body, luminous in presence, nor 
auriferous in apparel ; — wears a plain, long, white robe ; — 
casts a natural and undiminished shadow, — and although 
there are flames beneath his feet, which upbear him, so 
that he does not touch the earth, these are unseen by the 
Virgin. She herself is an English, not a Jewish girl, of 
about sixteen or seventeen, of such pale and thoughtful 
beauty as Rossetti could best imagine for her. She has 
risen half up, not started up, in being awakened ; and is 
not looking at the angel, but only thinking, with eyes cast 
down, as if supposing herself in a strange dream. The 
morning light fills the room, and shows at the foot of her 
little pallet-bed, her embroidery work, left off the evening 


before, — an upright lily. Upright, and very accurately up- 
right, as also the edges of the piece of cloth in its frame, — 
as also the gliding form of the angel, — as also, in severe 
foreshortening, that of the Virgin herself. It has been 
studied, so far as it has been studied at all, from a very 
thin model ; and the disturbed coverlid is throw^n into con- 
fused angular folds, which admit no suggestion vv^hatever of 
ordinary girlish grace. So that, to any spectator little in- 
clined towards the praise of barren * uprightness,* and ac- 
customed on the contrary to expect radiance in archangels, 
and grace in Madonnas, the first effect of the design must 
be extremely displeasing. . . . But the reader will, if 
careful in reflection, discover in all pre-Raphaelite pictures, 
however distinct otherwise in aim and execution, an effort 
to represent things as they are, or were, or may be, instead 
of, according to the practice of their instructors and the 
wishes of their public, things as they are not^ never were, 
and never can be : this effort being founded deeply on a 
conviction that it is at first better, and finally more pleas- 
ing, for human minds to contemplate things as they are, 
than as they are not. Thus Mr. Rossetti, in this and sub- 
sequent works of the kind, thought it better for himself and 
his public to make some effort towards a real notion of 
what actually did happen in the carpenter's cottage at 
Nazareth, giving rise to the subsequent traditions delivered 
in the Gospels, than merely to produce a variety in the 
pattern of the Virgin, pattern of Virgin's gown, and pattern 
of Virgin's house, which had been set by the jewellers of 
the Fifteenth Century. 





THE main colour of this composition is white, but blue 
and crimson wonderfully add to the general effect 
of lucency ; and it is wrought in such exquisite lightness, 
delicacy, and beauty as to deserve the highest praise that 
Mr. Ruskin or any one else could bestow upon it. It 
seems to me to stand alone amongst this artist's works for 
perfect clarity, and has even less of the early Italian Goth- 
icism than The Girlhood of the Virgin; certainly, whatever 
other merits his subsequent work may possess, none dwell 
in such an atmosphere of light. There is great severity, 
rigidity in form, but the excellence of the three colours of 
pre-Raphaelitism would nullify still more serious draw- 
backs. Mr. Ruskin refers to it as differing from every 
previous conception of the scene known to him, in repre- 
senting the angel as awakening the Virgin from sleep to 
give her his message ; but in his subsequent remarks as to 
the angel's non-recognizability as such, " not depending for 
recognition of his supernatural character on the insertion of 
bird's wings at his shoulders," or in being " neither trans- 
parent in body, luminous in presence, nor auriferous in ap- 
parel," he, while noting the pale yellow flames about his 


feet, surely forgot to note the aureole that radiates round 
his head — though on the other hand, it may be that he re- 
ferred only to personal and not to external signs. The 
Virgin, clothed in white, is sitting up in her white pallet- 
bed and reclining forward with eyes awestruck with the 
premonitory dream that foretold her of God's will ; she 
seems to look backwards into the mystery that came to her 
in sleep with a yearning questioning as to the reality or 
non-reality as affecting herself, and forwards into the dim 
future with the awe of some great thing she can yet scarce 
comprehend in its significance. Unseen to her, the divine 
messenger with calm, grave face and clothed simply m 
white, aureoled and upborne, while apparently standing on 
the floor, by pale, golden flames just reaching above his 
feet, stands looking at her, having through her sleep spake 
the message he came to give ; and in his hand is a stem 
bearing Annunciation lilies, just over which is poised in 
downward flight the dove of the Holy Spirit. In front of 
her simple pallet there is an upright piece of crimson cloth 
in a wooden frame, and worked downwards in it a very 
rigid but exactly delineated white lily branch ; and behind 
her and the white pillow on her bed there is a light, square 
curtain of deep cerulean blue, exquisite as anything not 
nature's own production can be. To the left of this cur- 
tain-screen there is the semicircular window-space, where- 
through the scented air can enter freely ; but nothing is 
visible through it save the clear blue Syrian morning sky 
and the leafy crown of a single palm. On the ledge of 
the window, above Mary's head, is a lamp with a flame 


Still burning, but seeming quite white owing to the clear 
subdued radiance of fulfilled dawn. The drawback to this 
otherwise exquisite piece of workmanship is its prevailing 
angularity and uprightness, in the angel, in the embroidery- 
screen, in the curtain, and, in Mr. Ruskin's words, in " the 
severe foreshortening of the Virgin herself " ; though at the 
time of its exhibition this was a minor matter compared to 
the heresy of deviation from sacred tradition in re represen- 
tation of angels and madonnas, and from the traditional 
choice of time and surroundings for the Annunciation, as 
also in its realistic tendencies. I confess I can only par- 
tially agree with Mr. Ruskin in considering the Ecce Ancilla 
Domini a realistic representation of what actually did occur 
in the dwelling of the Nazarine carpenter, for, though 
doubtless succeeding better in this than those "jewellers of 
the fifteenth century," who set the example that became 
stereotyped, the room, with its screen and embroidery and 
other surroundings, cannot well be regarded as a prob- 
able representation of the very humble abode and correspond- 
ing method of life we are taught and infer from Biblical 
and secular history as likely to appertain to a poor carpen- 
ter in a poor, if naturally well-provided, district. But 
these, after all, are minor points, and are forgotten or put 
aside when looking at the pure colours and the solemn sig- 
nificance of this most lovely and memorable picture. Its 
motif was given in the same sonnet as was printed in the 
catalogue recording The Girlhood of the Virgin^ of which 
picture it is indeed a successor ; so that while the first two- 
thirds of the sonnet may be taken as applicable to the 


earlier work, the concluding three and a half lines refer to 
the Annunciation : — 

** . . . Till one dawn, at home 
She woke in her white bed, and had no fear 
At all, — yet wept till sunshine, and felt awed ; 
Because the fulness of the time was come." 


{^Philippe de Champaigne) 


THE greatest minister of the old regime^ the first of our 
statesmen who did not reign, the founder of the 
Acad'emie Fran^aise and the restorer of the Sorbonne, has 
not been praised in literature for a long time. Poets, nov- 
elists, and historians are equally severe upon the Cardinal 
de Richelieu. His will hovers over Victor Hugo's Marion 
de Lorme like a nightmare of cruelty ; the reflection of his 
red robe illuminates the drama with a sinister light ; and in 
the last act, the terror of the denouement is obtained by his 
pitiless voice letting the words " No mercy ! " fall from his 
litter, while Marion expresses the popular horror of the sin- 
ister procession by crying : 

" Regarde-z,-tous ! viola Phomme rouge qui passe ! " 

Alfred de Vigny sacrifices Richelieu to the equivocal and 
brilliant Cinq-Mars. Between politics working to make 
France and rashness inspired by vanity, he is unjustly se- 
vere towards the former, and unnecessarily lenient towards 
the latter. If the good Dumas did not treat Richelieu 
with the same gracefulness as he did Mazarin, and if he 
did not go so far as to disguise this great Frenchman as a 
puppet of the Italian comedy, he made his d'Artagnan 
laugh at him. 


Michelet is too great an historian not to admire the 
grand man and his work, but he does not like him. In 
the superb portrait which he spreads across two volumes 
of his Histoire de France^ he passes from admiration to 
invective, and from his greatest eulogies to his gravest 
accusations. He is possessed by this commanding figure, 
and is divided between personal antipathy and the superior 
wish to render justice. If he shows the visible grandeur 
of his soul and his powerful will, the immensity of his 
labour and the sinister dignity of his attitude, he judges 
him "a knave of genius, who originated our vain Euro- 
pean balance and the equilibrium between the dead." 

It is because Richelieu, ill-treated by his contemporaries 
for having subordinated private interests to those of the 
king and of France, entered into modern literatuie at a 
singularly unfavourable moment for him. He represented 
the old regime and authority in the eyes of a period that 
had founded the new order and adored liberty ; he was the 
incarnation of mature age and judgment grappling with 
youth and love ; and he united in his personality all that 
the romantic lyrism did not like, notably, the sacrifice of 
the individual for the State. 

Moreover, each one of those who from 1826 to i860, 
have made him act in fiction or history, have personal feel- 
ings of animosity or injustice towards him. Victor Hugo, 
after his youth as a legitimist, left the king's cause for that 
of the people. Vigny, a gentleman, took upon himself to 
revenge the French nobility upon those who had hurled 
down the pride of the great. To Dumas, Richelieu was 




nothing more than the character of a novel : he was less 
" sympathetic " with him than he was to a " Gascon cadet," 
or even with Anne of Austria, amorous queen and weak 
woman. To Michelet, the Cardinal Due de Richelieu, 
was a nobleman and a priest, and the man who had written : 
"All politics agree that if the people were too free, it 
would be impossible to constrain them within the rules of 
their duty." All of these think that he wronged literature, 
for although he did protect and pension poets, and even 
honoured Chapelain, he was the persecutor of the Cid and 
of Corneille. 

The recognition due to Richelieu from men of letters 
was only slightly marked for two centuries by mere con- 
ventional compliments in the orations pronounced at the 
Academic Fran^aise. 

But note that justice for him is gradually beginning. In 
proportion as romanticism loses its illusions and history 
grows more conscientious in its methods, — this slow work 
will be to his advantage. A greater retrospective sense of 
justice for old France, a clearer idea of the gifts and labour 
made by the Statesmen, and the knowledge of his original 
schemes will make reparation for him. At this mo- 
ment, he is popular among writers and a monument of 
truth is elevating itself in his honour. In his discourse on 
being received into the Academie Fran^aise in 1875, Alex- 
andre Dumas y?7j, took sides for Richelieu against Corneille, 
and his paradox contained a great deal of truth. In 1879, 
Renan gave himself the keen pleasure of binding into his 
subject the academic tradition of beginning his admission 


address by: "The great Cardinal Richelieu." In 1894, 
M. Brunetiere happily seized the occasion " of bringing 
into his academic discourse the formerly obligatory eulogy." 
At this moment, a young minister who is preparing a history 
of politics, wishes a history of the Cardinal Richelieu, 
solid and complete, of sober elegance and worthy of its 
double subject, Richelieu and France. 

Although art is greatly inferior to letters, it has this ad- 
vantage, — that, dispensing with discussions and arguments, 
it avoids errors of judgment. It is quite sufficient to be 
truthful and to represent what is seen. Maltreated by the 
novelists, the poets and the historians, Richelieu has re- 
ceived far more justice from the sculptors and the painters 
who have not been so anxious to penetrate into his soul as 
they have simply to show him as they saw him. 

While he was living, Warin modelled a celebrated bust 
of him and engraved a medal that is a masterpiece. Fifty 
years after his death, Girardon, in raising to him, after 
Lebrun's design, the pompous tomb upon which he expires 
supported by Religion and mourned by History, rendered 
him a somewhat theatrical homage, but, taking it all in all, 
worthy of his memory. 

Notwithstanding the indifferently expressed character of 
the head, Girardon was inspired by a masterly canvas, — the 
portrait painted by Philippe de Champaigne, which is to be 
seen in the Salon carre of the Louvre. 

Champaigne, born in Brussels, belongs geographically to 
the Flemish school. However, he is French, for he de- 
veloped in our country and is filled with its spirit \ he 


painted French models in the French style. A lover of 
Port-Royal, he thought and felt like the religious recluses 
of that holy house j he had in his art the same serious in- 
tegrity, cautious energy and moral elevation that they had 
in literature. His painting is Jansenist, but with more ex- 
pressive vigour than these moralists, so scornful of eclat^ 
ever deigned to show. It is curious to note, while on this 
subject, that the same strange region gave to France two 
French things — the art of Philippe de Champaigne and the 
literature of Port-Royal. 

By means of his faith, Champaigne was drawn to re- 
ligious painting, and his reputation forced him to execute 
numerous decorations in palaces and castles, but in the 
depths of his soul he was a realist, a lover of direct truth, 
respectful towards nature, and tempering his joy in colour 
and elegance in form by serious thought and moral dis- 
cipline. Thus he has excelled in portraiture, and for pos- 
terity his value lies there. His principal work consists of 
several fine Crucifixions, in which imagination and wealth 
of decoration have no place, and that series of portraits 
containing his two masterpieces, the Two Nuns of Port- 
Royal — Mere Arnault and the painter's daughter — and 
Cardinal Richelieu. 

Michelet studied the latter a long time, and its contem- 
plation helped him in tracing his portrait of the great 
Cardinal. With vigorous justice, he remarked the paint- 
er's merits, and praised the artist for " that very fine colour, 
restrained by exact truthfulness." As for the moral im- 
pression, he has simply translated what the portrait ex- 


presses itself, for he speaks of that " sphinx in a red robe," 
that " phantom with grey beard, fixed grey eye, and delicate, 
thin hands." The spectator sees in that head with its broad 
brow, burning eyes, long straight nose, lips compressed be- 
neath the fine moustache, and chin pointed by the goatee, 
only genius, will and sadness, — a double sadness of suffer- 
ing without respite and labour without rest. The walking 
and gliding attitude is of unequalled nobility ; the gesture 
of the hand, which receives and commands, is an ob- 
servation of genius. The arrangement of the folds of the 
red robe crossed by the white rochet and the blue cord of 
the Holy Spirit, is noble and simple. The whole picture 
is a symphony in red, where the sheen of the silk and the 
heaviness of the cloth produce, in their balanced tonality, a 
learned and simple harmony. Never has the most brilliant 
and pompous of colours been treated with a more sober and 
masterly strength. 

Midway between Clouet's precision and Rigault's rich- 
ness, the art of Philippe de Champaigne has endowed the 
French school with a series of portraits in which perhaps 
the most essential qualities of our national genius — accuracy 
and decorum — fixed the spirit of a time and state of the 
French nation. This contemporary of Richelieu, Corneille, 
and Descartes is as French as they are. 




IN the first of the great frescoes painted by Raphael at 
the Vatican, the Virgin appears gloriously seated on 
the right of Jesus Christ ruling with him all the celestial 
hierarchies, and shedding light and grace upon the Church 
by her ministry of intercession. We may almost say, 
therefore, that Raphael took possession of the Eternal City 
in the name of the Virgin. That Eucharist upon which the 
Doctors and Fathers meditate ; that mystery, an image of 
which Zacharias saw in the " wheat of the elect," in the 
" wine that makes virgins conceive," has its origin in 
Mary. " Our generation in the bosom of the Church pro- 
ceeds from the spiritual origin of Jesus Christ in the bosom 
of a virgin." Thus speaks St. Leo the Great, and it is 
this doctrine that is developed by Raphael in the Argument 
of the Holy Sacrament. This sublime page is the most 
Christian that art has ever conceived, because it is the most 
penetrated with the mystery of the Trinity. " Before the 
Mosaic Law," says Hugues de Saint Victor, "God made 
known his existence to the world; under the Law, his 
unity ; under the Gospel, his Trinity ; so that the knowl- 
edge of the truth might increase little by little." Now, the 
Virgin completes the Trinity in its work. It is for her that 


this mystery is produced in the world. Spouse of the 
Father, it is before her also that the Apostle bows when he 
says : *' I bend my knees unto the Father, from whom 
every family in heaven and on earth is named, Mother of 
the Son, by virtue of the Most High who has covered 
her with his shadow," she has conceived Jesus in time, so 
as to give the elect to God in eternity. Sanctuary of the 
Holy Ghost, she is the tabernacle in which the Holy of 
Holies has made itself pontiff and concentrates in herself 
the eternal love of which the Word was born. In his 
fresco, Raphael represents the Virgin under this triple 
aspect : he associates her with the Trinity by pictorial bonds 
that appear incorruptible, and confides the intelligence of 
the Eucharist to her prayers. Seated upon the clouds by 
the Saviour's side, she bows humbly before him, and derives 
her power from her very humility. It is true that this 
figure does not strictly belong to our subject, but it seems 
to detach itself from its frame and hover before us at the 
moment when Raphael arrives at Rome under the inspira- 
tion of the Virgin in Glory. 

Dunng the. first three years of his residence in Rome, 
Raphael was entirely absorbed in his Segnatura frescoes. 
From time to time, he managed to steal a few moments to 
devote them to more intimate labours : it was at this time 
doubtless that he painted the portraits of Julius II., the 
Marquis Frederick of Mantua, himself, and that Margarita 
whom he has immortalized under the name of the Forna- 
rina. In 151 1, the works of the first Vatican chamber 
were completed ; the alliance between Science and Faith 



was concluded, the chain of tradition was mended, all its 
links were rivetted so as to defy henceforth all the efforts 
of barbarianism. Universally admired, Raphael could for a 
moment give rein to less solemn though not less elevated 
aspirations. The Alban Madonna^ the Aldohrandini Ma- 
donna^ the Madonna of the Diadem,^ and the Holy Family 
of Loretto^ which without doubt, belong to this period ; seem 
rather to be before than after 151 1. It is to 15 11 also that 
the Foligno Madonna belongs. In fact, it was painted for 
Sigismund Conti, who died Feb. 23, 15 12. Since, more- 
over, it reveals colour leanings that, as we shall see, were 
not unknown to Sebastiano of Venice, it is certain that it is 
posterior to the Venetian painter's arrival in Rome. Now, 
Sebastiano having been called to Rome by Augustino Chigi 
at the beginning of 151 1, it results that the Foligno 
Madonna must have been painted towards the close of that 
year. The Contis of Anagni had given one pope. Inno- 
cent III., to the Church, and since that time had fixed 
their abode in Rome, where they had not ceased to afford 
magnificent patronage to the arts. Sigismund Conti, who 
belonged to this illustrious house, was born at Foligno, in 
the first half of the Fifteenth Century, and devoted himself 
particularly to letters. In particular, he had written a his- 
tory of his own times, and Raphael's father, Giovanni Santi, 
in his dedicatory epistle to the Duke of Urbino, names him 
as a distinguished writer. Having become secretary under 
Julius II., he occupied a high position in the pontifical 
court at the moment when Sanzio arrived at Rome. In 
151 1, Sigismund Conti was getting very old, and the disease 


that was to carry him off already tormented him. Desiring 
to offer an ex-voto to the Virgin, he applied to Raphael. 
Let us see with what simplicity of genius Raphael carried 
out the donor's wishes. 

In the opening skies, the Virgin and the Infant Jesus 
appear in the middle of a circle glittering with light, outside 
of which an innumerable company of angels is thronging. 
On the earth, transfigured by the radiation of the eternal 
beams, the donor contemplates the divine vision, in com- 
pany with St. John the Baptist, St. Francis of Assisi and 
St. Jerome, who are recommending his prayers to the 
Virgin and Saviour. One angel, detached from the celes- 
tial train, also adds his voice to those of the saints, and 
holds a tablet on which was to be mentioned the destina- 
tion of the picture. 

That is the motive repeated a thousand times for more 
than two centuries by the Italian Renaissance. Raphael 
takes possession of it in his turn and does not break with 
the past in the least ; but if he adopts all its traditions, it is 
only on condition of elevating and reconciling them. 
Without making any pretense at new systems, he purifies 
and reconciles the strayings of the old schools as well as 
the impatient aspirations of contemporary masters. Great 
audacities were forming around him ; but he took care not 
to imitate them. Whatever is truly inspired with the 
Spirit of God is simple, and so Raphael approaches his sub- 
ject with entire simplicity. The greatest homage we can 
render to liberty is to submit ; and so Raphael finds the 
most complete independence in submission. He honours 


the Virgin as much as he adores the Infant Jesus. For 
him, " Mary is the cause of safety for the whole human 
race." God only pardons us through the merits of his Son 
who never hears us better than through the voice of His 
Mother. Such is the Catholic doctrine of which Raphael 
was an indefatigable interpreter through every period of his 
life. And not satisfied with not departing in any way 
from the strictest orthodoxy, he preserves even the tradi- 
tional arrangement of form. At the top and in the centre, 
the Virgin dominates the whole composition. At the base, 
and on either side, the donor and the saints are grouped 
symmetrically in pairs. On the left, St. John the Baptist 
is standing and St. Francis of Assisi is kneeling in front of 
him ; on the right, St. Jerome corresponds to St. John, and 
Sigismund Conti to St. Francis. These four figures that 
are endowed with adorable mastery of expression balance 
and, without any loss of power, contribute to an identical 
resultant. Animated with the same love and the same 
faith, they seem to be already transported into the celestial 
realms and, although they still touch the earth, they domi- 
nate it from the same point of view whence the eagle sees 
it aloft in the air. Penetrated with an ardent and generous 
flame, this picture speaks to our imagination as much as to 
our emotions. Gazing at it, we recall the words of Isaiah : 
" Distil, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour 
down righteousness : let the earth open that it may bring 
forth salvation, and let it cause righteousness to spring up 
together ! " How did Raphael find some of the noblest 
accents of religious speech in this picture? By what 


power did he rise to the antique simplicity of the Scrip- 
tures ? That is what each of the parts of this admirable 
whole will teach. 

The Virgin, sitting on the clouds and holding her Son in 
her arms, hovers over " the saints and the household of 
God." In consequence of a surprising knowledge of the 
subject and a marvellous grasp of aerial perspective, she 
seems to be at a great height, when she is really almost on 
the level of the earth, so that, notwithstanding the neces- 
sarily very restricted limits of the picture, we fancy we see 
the heights whence benediction falls. Without lowering 
herself, Mary seems to want to place herself on our level ; 
the saints who are praying to her, and the donor who is 
imploring, could almost touch her with their hands, and yet 
we feel that their souls alone can reach her. Mother of 
the living, she yet remains the Queen of the angels who 
saluted her upon earth and afterwards carried her into the 
highest heaven. Her head, gently bending over her left 
shoulder, is draped with a veil that falls along her right 
cheek and is raised by the Infant Jesus at her left cheek. 
This veil is at the same time very soft and very rich in 
tone : it is of a yellowish white, shaded with blue reflec- 
tions, and the reverse is of red embroidered with gold, 
being most noticeable above the Saviour's head. Covering 
the Virgin's hair without entirely hiding it, this alone 
forms the most humble and most beautiful of ornaments, 
for to chastity it adds an incontestable element of beauty. 
Two blonde bands crown the forehead, which is pure, in- 
telligent and well formed. The brows are admirably 


arched. The sweet and sad eyes are lowered upon the 
Word and combine in the same thought the love of the 
Christ and the love of mankind. The nose is very well 
drawn. The mouth is of medium size and almost of a 
grieving expression. The whole face very clearly indicates 
the painter's meaning. The Virgin is there as the interme- 
diary between man and God, at the same time reflecting 
human suffering and divine splendour. The vesture is one 
of rigorous chastity ; for a robe of beautiful clear red, and a 
mantle of almost equally clear blue form the whole. The 
robe, very modestly cut, leaves the neck bare to the begin- 
ning of the shoulders, and severely envelops the breast and 
arms j the bodice is trimmed with a gold embroidery that 
gives a truly royal appearance to that humble purple. 

From the pictorial point of view, the Infant in the 
FoUgno Madonna is in perfect accord with his Mother : he 
is held to her by the strictest bonds and seems almost to 
form one with her ; but he remains more exclusively than 
she confined within the domains of sensible form, and does 
not at once arouse that great idea of Godhead that Ra- 
phael is soon to give its highest expression in the Sistine 
Madonna. As yet we are only in 151 1, and before arriv- 
ing at that summit we shall find several intermediate stages 
where we shall have again to halt. 

The Infant Jesus has heard the prayer of the donor, and 
hastens to meet him. His arms are outstretched and with 
his hands he opens his Mother's veil. Ready to spring 
forward, he is held back only by the red scarf that girds his 
body and is held by the Virgin's right hand. His right leg 


is bent and still rests upon Mary's left knee, while his left 
leg is advanced and already touches the cloud. This little 
figure is of rare elegance ; but the gesture is of such a fa- 
miliar nature as to injure the sentiment of Divinity. The 
head is only beautiful, and we could wish for something 
more. We should like to see in it some of that compas- 
sion, that grief and that kindness that give such a touching 
character to the features of the Virgin. 

Above the clouds that form the aerial throne of the 
Virgin, and beyond the circle of golden light surrounding 
the divine group, the eye loses itself in the midst of a glory 
formed by a gathering of the most beautiful angels. These 
mysterious infants that throng around the Virgin and the 
Word swim in an atmosphere of an inexpressibly soft azure. 
Some are pushing aside the clouds, to get a better view of 
the divine spectacle ; others give themselves up to prayer, 
or abandon themselves to ecstasy ; some, with closed eyes, 
seem in their sleep to be visited by celestial dreams ; and 
others are embracing one another in fervour and love. 
These admirable infants appear to be penetrated with " the 
divine light that glows upon the whole of Nature." 

Of the four personages here, who place earth in commu- 
nication with heaven, the first, St. John the Baptist, points 
out the way ; the second, St. Francis d'Assisi, seeks by 
means of love to interest God Himself in our misery ; the 
third, St. Jerome, directly presents the fourth, who is the 
donor, to the Virgin and her Divine Son. 

St. John the Baptist is there as sent by God. " The 
same came for witness, that he might bear witness of the 


light, that all might believe through him." With his left 
hand raised to the level of his shoulder, " the illustrious 
citizen of the desert" (in the words of St. John Chry- 
sostom) holds a long and slender cross, upon which he 
leans, and points the first finger of his right hand at Jesus, 
" the same was in the beginning with God." His face is 
full, and while the left side is in high light, the right is 
bathed in transparent shadows. His eyes, fixed upon the 
spectator, are well drawn, and full of fire, penetration and 
authority. His lips are very expressive, and closed though 
almost speaking. A sparse beard covers the lower part of 
his face without at all hiding the fine modulations of his 
lips, chin, or cheeks. On his emaciated face glows the 
internal flame of a soul inspired by God. In the Fore- 
runner, we must see " the last and greatest of the prophets ; 
the first and greatest of the apostles." He possesses the 
Mosaic austerity, and the Christian grace and suavity : he 
is worthy to announce the religion of sacrifice and love. 
His neck, on each side of which his hair falls, stands out 
well. A lamb's fleece, cut like a tunic and slightly blonder 
than his hair, covers his shoulders and breast and descends 
to his knees. As a foil to this rustic garment, a red cloak, 
the emblem of spiritual sovereignty, is thrown over the left 
shoulder. In all this figure, there is something rough and 
savage that recalls the Dantesque image : this is " the great 
John, who, ever saintly, suffered solitude, martyrdom and 
chains for two years." 

St. Francis d'Assisi, kneeling in front of St. John the 
Baptist, is at the apogee of his terrestrial vocation. " This 


Sun is not far from its setting, and it makes the earth feel 
all the effects of its great virtue." This is indicated by 
" the stigmata which he received from Christ on a rugged 
rock between the Tiber and the Arno, and which his limbs 
bore for two years." This is particularly shown also by 
that emaciated face of clear and almost transparent flesh 
tints, radiating with pure light and raised towards the sky, 
the splendours of which it seems to reflect. The head, 
seen almost in right profile, is shaven, but enough hair re- 
mains to crown the brow as with an aureole. The eye, 
limpid and brilliant, is illumined with the vision it con- 
templates ; and the parted lips breathe forth the divine 
trouble that possesses the entire spirit. Here is indeed the 
gaze intoxicated with God, of which his contemporaries 
speak. As for the body, it disappears and is lost in the, 
long grey robe of the poor. Francis and the poor loved 
one another more from day to day. Holding in his left 
hand a little cross which he raises towards Jesus, he 
stretches out his right hand towards us and recommends us 
to the Divine kindness. Here he is in one of those ecstasies 
of charity that were the joy of his heart. Raphael has 
finally parted with routine and convention. He has broken 
with the traditional type that up to that time he had 
accepted. There is nothing in this figure to remind us of 
the stereotyped images of Perugino or any quattrocentista. 
It is an absolutely new and original creation. Raphael has 
placed the apostle of poverty immediately under the eye of 
th« Infant Jesus. It is with St. Francis above all that 
the Word is in communication in this picture. Their 


glances meet ; they understand each other ; and the saint, 
plunged into ecstasy, is in complete possession of his God. 
On the other side of the Virgin, facing St. John the 
Baptist, St. Jerome is standing, presenting the donor to the 
Virgin. He wears the rich costume of the princes of the 
Church : a white rochet, that shows on the fore-arms, a 
long blue cape shading into a neutral tint, with a broad 
amice doubled with ermine and turned down upon his 
breast. All this is conventional, without doubt, and the 
founder of the religious houses at Bethlehem never wore 
this sumptuous garb; fond of mortification, he would have 
disdained these adornments. But let us not forget that 
here we are in full apotheosis and that anything that con- 
tributes to the pomp of such a spectacle is not only allow- 
able but advisable. Moreover, in adopting this costume, 
Raphael has only conformed to tradition, and has drawn 
the most beautiful pictorial effects from it. With his 
right arm and hand extended respectfully towards the 
Madonna, St. Jerome lays his left hand familiarly on 
Sigismund Conti's head. His features are marked by 
nobility, grandeur and beauty. They have lost their 
natural ruggedness, and all their violence is purified by 
a divine flame. The cranium, completely bald, is radi- 
ant with light. Through the eyes, shadowed by heavy 
brows, the soul soars in prayer; the curves of the lips 
assume an expression of great sweetness ; and on this face, 
furrowed by wrinkles and partly covered by a long beard, 
there is room for nothing but kindness. The time of 
struggle is over ; ardour and hatred are extinct ; the friend 


of Paula and Eustochium is in possession of the calm of 
eternity, and the lion couched at his feet is only there now 
to recall one of the qualities of his heart. 

As for Sigismund Conti, he is kneeling in left profile in 
front of his patron saint. With hands clasped on a level 
with his breast, he lifts his head and eyes towards the 
Virgin, whom he contemplates and to whom he prays. 
His costume is the same as that still worn by the cameriere 
when they are on duty in the Papal chapel : black soutane 
trimmed with fur, surmounted by a long red pilgrim's cape 
without sleeves, and a broad amice, the ermine of which 
comes over the shoulders and covers the breast. It is only 
a portrait ; but what a portrait, and how nature, while 
keeping within her province, has gained in nobility and 
grandeur ! What simplicity of attitude and physiognomy ! 
How easily we recognize the habits and functions of the 
individual, and read his character! It is less literal than a 
portrait by Holbein, but just as true. The features are 
vigorously accented; the cheeks are bony, and withered 
with sickness and suffering ; the hair is flat ; the mouth is 
large and fallen in ; the line of the nose is prominent and 
thin, and the chin juts strongly. But these discords disap- 
pear in a harmony superior to reality. Far from being 
extinct, the eye is brilliant. However, between the donor 
and the saints with him, Raphael makes us feel the differ- 
ence that separates a private interest from a general idea. 
The saints are already living in Eternity, where they repre- 
sent the different orders of virtue ; the donor still exists only 
in time, where he dwells subject to all the exigences and 


accidents of life. However, although his devotion is en- 
tirely personal, it is so simple, so naive, and so true, that it 
already hovers in the higher spheres. Life is leaving the 
donor; and not being able to retain it, he implores the 
Virgin for it. Then, thanks to the intervention of the 
saints, thanks especially to Mary and the Infant Jesus, 
hope opens radiant horizons before him till they are lost to 

Below the Virgin and the Infant Jesus, and between St. 
John the Baptist and St. Francis, St. Jerome and the donor, 
a full-face angel is standing, with his head and eyes raised 
towards the Madonna. With both hands, he holds a tablet 
the inscription of which has long disappeared, if it was 
ever written. (No author makes any mention of it.) In 
painting this little figure, Raphael has taken pleasure in 
displaying all the contrasts of his art. The beauty of the 
face, the purity of the lines, the fervour of the features, the 
arrangement of the hair and the wings, the truth and sim- 
plicity of the nude, the strength of the modelling, the 
brilliance of the light and the harmony of the chiaroscuro^ 
all this is inimitable and adds to this work, which is other- 
wise so complete and so marvellous, a particularly just and 
sentimental note. " Faith and innocence are found only in 
little children," says the poet on seeing the angels in Para- 
dise ; and Raphael proves this every moment. Admirable 
from the pictorial point of view, from the religious point of 
view this angel establishes a direct and palpable relation 
between the heaven whence he comes and the earth where 
he is. If he is momentarily among men, it is to teach 


them the better to pray, for : " Out of the mouth of babes 
and sucklings thou hast perfected praise." 

Lastly, what is quite as marvellous in this picture is the 
atmosphere and the landscape. The sun sheds its pure and 
warm rays over the earth transfigured by the presence of the 
Virgin and the Word. From the blade of grass and the 
meadow flower dotting the foreground to the summits of 
the far horizon and even up to the sky, all is full of the 
glory of God. The saints, the donor and the angel among 
them stand upon ground that has nothing unreal in it ; but 
beyond the foreground, the apotheosis begins, and every- 
thing seems to be bathed in an ocean of azure. The eye 
then loses itself among ideal meadows, gently undulating, 
furrowed by streams, and shadowed by tints of infinite 
sweetness. On these meadows, a flock of sheep is led by 
a shepherd ; two persons are in conversation ; and a knight 
is travelling, preceded by an attendant. Farther away, a 
city piles its monuments, its shops, its temples and its ruins, 
one above another. Woods add to the mysterious beauty 
of this city which nestles against the sides of high peaks, 
the summits of which are lost in the clouds. The rainbow, 
with irised fires, serves as aureole for this immensity, in 
the midst of which the vibrations of an intense light make 
the sweetest and most brilliant melodies audible. Creation, 
seized with sublime emotion, seems to be in ecstasy before 
God. Heaven and earth unite in a great thanksgiving, and 
we fancy we hear the harps of gold accompanying the 
words of the sixty-fourth psalm. 

The Foligno Madonna marks a special place in Raphael's 


career. About 15 11, new influences were affecting him, 
and after having successively assimilated the spirit of the 
masters of Urbino, Perugia, Bologna and Florence, in Rome 
we find him taking possession of the Venetian genius and 
appropriating its brilliant and pompous externals. Had he 
seen some of the works of Giorgione ? One might believe 
so from the boldness, freedom, and particularly the vigour 
of his brush. In any case, in the absence of the paintings 
of. Giorgio Barbarelli, he was able to make acquaintance 
with those of Sebastiano del Piombo. It was doubtless 
from this painter, who had recently arrived in Rome, that 
he borrowed the richness of the flesh-tints, the splendour 
of the draperies, the softness of the ambient air, the grace, 
and the general beauty of colour that render the Foligno 
Madonna one of the most brilliant works of the Italian 
brush. Would Raphael by himself have attained possession 
of such colour ? What is certain is, whilst this colour recalls 
the finest Venetians, it is yet quite individual to him. Here, 
as elsewhere, he has proceeded by way of transformation 
and complete assimilation. Not Sebastiano, nor Giorgione, 
nor any other master could have painted this picture. 

The Madonna painted for Sigismund Conti remained at first 
at Rome and was placed over the high altar of the church of 
Ara-Coeli, at the summit of the Capitoline Hill. On May 
23d, 1565, one of the descendants of the donor, the nun Anna 
Conti, obtained from Pope Pius IV. the translation of this 
picture to the convent of St. Anne, founded at Foligno by 
the Conti. Carried away by the French, at the end of the 
Eighteenth Century, this masterpiece arrived at Paris in a 


deplorable condition. It was transferred from its old panel 
to canvas by M. Haquin, and restored by M. Roser, of 
Heidelberg. In 1815, the celebrated Madonna returned to 
Italy, but did not go back to Foligno. It merely retained 
the name of the little Umbrian town in which it had so- 
journed for two hundred and thirty-two years, and passed 
directly from the Louvre to the Vatican palace. 



THIS great picture, at all times regarded as the master's 
most renowned work, and most clearly impressed 
with the stamp of his genius, is strictly speaking a portrait 
of the Princess Margaret as the central figure in one of the 
daily recurring scenes of her palace life. The figure agrees 
perfectly with the Vienna work (No. 619), only it is painted 
with more fiery rapidity, and the blond complexion looks 
to better advantage in an environment treated with much 
dark blue. 

Her step-brother, Don Balthasar, had been dealt with in 
a somewhat similar way in the Riding School. But the 
daily life of a young princess offered no such favourable 
scenes to the artist as those suggested by the more varied 
occupations of a prince fond of horsemanship and field 
sports. Her existence was passed in the secluded apart- 
ments of the Cuarto de la Reina^ surrounded by all the 
restrictions of a relentless Court etiquette. Madame de 
Motteville's Memoirs gives us an account of a visit at the 
threshold of the Infanta Maria Theresa's room : " She is 
waited on with great respect, few have access to her, and it 
was a special favour that we were allowed to linger at the 
door of her chamber. When she is thirsty a Tnenin (maid) 
brings a glass to a lady, who kneels as does also the menin ; 


and on the other side is also a kneeling attendant, who 
hands her the napkin j opposite stands a Maid of Honour." 

The passage reads almost like a description of our paint- 
ing. Here the central figure is the little idol, at that time 
in her fifth year, constantly surrounded by ministering elfs, 
by trusty Ariels and submissive sprites ; for she is depicted 
as the chief orb of a sphere, where light and shade, beauty 
and deformity harmoniously combine to do her service. 

In Spain the picture bears the name of Las Meninas^ not 
without reason. The noble damsels were at any rate for 
the Spaniards the most attractive of all the figures, but they 
were the dark-eyed daughters of their race, lovely young 
blossoms of the old Castilian stock. For this office in the 
royal family beauties were specially selected, and Madame 
d'Aulnoy who saw them in the year 1680, calls them 
" fairer than Love is painted." In their curtseying and 
bending of the knee there lurks an innate grace that triumphs 
even over the unsightly costume of that period. 

So famous was the painting that the names of all the 
figures were duly recorded. The lady kneeling in profile 
is Dona Maria Agostina, daughter of Don Diego Sarmiento ; 
she holds a gold salver from which she hands the princess 
the water in a red cup made of hucaro^ a fine scented clay 
brought from the East Indies. The other facing her and 
curtseying slightly, is Dona Isabel de Velasco, daughter 
of Don Bernardino Lopez de Ayala y Velasco, Count of 
Fuensalida. She grew up to a womanhood of rare beauty, 
but died three years later. 

These maids of honour attended on the queen and on 



the princesses from their infancy to the time when they as- 
sumed the chapin^ or slippers worn by the young ladies. 
The meninas themselves wore low shoes and a kind of 
high-heeled sandals, which like galoches^ were worn over 
the others ; both in the palace and outside they went with- 
out hat or cloak. 

On the right and more to the front of Dona Isabel, are 
two figures of quite a different type, who form in the fore- 
ground a group apart, jointly with the sculpturesque-look- 
ing mastiff crouched half asleep at the edge of the frame j 
for these playthings are after all themselves mere domestic 
animals in human form. With the Cerberus at the thresh- 
old are naturally associated the two grotesque figures of 
Mari Barbola and Nicolasico Pertusato, who serve to com- 
plete our master's gallery of Court dwarfs, and who have 
suggested Wilkie's description of the work as the " Picture 
of the Children in Grotesque Dresses." Pertusato has 
planted his foot on the dog, as if to remind him that it is 
unseemly to slumber in the presence of royalty, while the 
other, round as a tub, gives the spectator a full view of her 
broad, depressed, almost brutal countenance. 

Farther back, in the gloom produced by the closed 
shutters, two Court officials are conversing with bated 
breath — the Senora de honor Dona Marcela de Ulloa in 
the convent habit, and a guardadamus (" ladies' guard "), 
whose duty it was to ride with the coaches of the Court 
ladies and conduct the audiences. Then quite in the rear 
at the open door stands Don Joseph Nieto, the queen's 
quarter-master, drawing the curtain aside. 


Such a grouping as this can have resulted only by 
chance. Such everyday scenes, even when in themselves 
suited for pictorial treatment, passed unnoticed because of 
their constant occurrence, unless indeed the artist be a 
stranger. Chance alone, which Leonardo da Vinci tells us 
is so often a happy discoverer, could have here detected 
the materials of a pictorial composition. It happened that 
on one occasion, when the royal couple were giving a sit- 
ting to their Court painter in his studio. Princess Margaret 
was sent for to relieve their Majesties' weariness. The 
light, which, after the other shutters had been closed, had 
been let in from the window on the right for the sitters, 
now streamed in upon their little visitor. At the same 
time Velasquez requested Nieto to open the door in the 
rear, in order to see whether a front light also might be 

Thus the king sat there, relieved from councils and 
affairs of State, and yielding to his paternal feelings in the 
midst of the family circle. Then it occurred to him, being 
himself half an artist, that something like a pictorial scene 
had developed before his eyes. He muttered : " That is a 
picture : " the next moment the desire arose to see this per- 
petuated, and without more ado the painter was at work on 
the sketch of his recuerdo (memento). In the case of 
recuerdos details should be faithfully recorded, just as they 
had been casually brought together. 

Hence the peculiar character of the composition, which 
as an invention would be inexplicable. It is, so to say, a 
tableau vivanty and the figures might certainly have been 


more naturally and effectively grouped in a semi-circle 
about the canvas on the easel. But they were not in fact 
at the moment mingled in a single group ; the royal couple, 
although invisible to the observer, were in the immediate 
vicinity. Thus the princess while taking the hucaro glances 
towards her mother; Dona Isabel looks with a curtsey in 
the same direction ; Mari Barbola hangs with the eyes of a 
trusty watch-dog on those of her mistress j the guardadamas 
while listening to Dona Marcela's whisperings keeps an 
eye on the king ; lastly Nieto turns at the door with an in- 
quiring look. 

In a word we see the company as one sees the audience 
in the pit from the stage, and precisely from the stand- 
point of the king, who is reflected in the mirror in the wall 
by the side of the queen. He had seated himself opposite 
this mirror in order to be able to judge of his posture. It 
may, however, be incidentally remarked that nothing is 
known of any work in which he appears actually on the 
same canvas with Mariana. 

In this instantaneous picture the artist himself had also 
of course to be taken. He stands at his easel, but slightly 
concealed by the kneeling figure in front, his head domina- 
ting the whole group. In his right hand he holds the long 
brush, in his left the palette and painter's stick. The 
hand, like those of this picture generally, is exquisitely 
painted, the motion of the fingers being distinctly indicated 
by four strokes of the brush. 

On his breast he wears the Red Cross of Santiago. 
According to the legend Philip, on the completion of the 


painting, had reserved a royal surprise for its creator. 
Remarking that it still lacked something, he seized the 
brush and added this Red Cross. The anecdote has been 
questioned, because the preliminary formalities connected 
with the conferring of the Order date from two years later. 
But although according to Palomino the Cross was added 
by order of the king after Velasquez' death, it may still 
have possibly been associated with the work at the time. 
Certainly this was the first precedent for the figure of a 
painter, even though a palace marshal, to be introduced in 
a canvas depicting the intimate family circle of royalty. 
Hence it may have seemed proper for him also to be pro- 
moted to a higher degree of nobility for the occasion. 

Such might seem to be the probable history of the 
Meninas. Here is consequently the apparent paradox that 
one of the most original creations of modern painting is 
more than any other the fac-simile of a casual incident. 
It is the picture of the production of a picture. The sub- 
jects of the latter are kept out of sight, for if introduced 
they would have to turn their backs on the observer; 
nevertheless their presence is betrayed by the mirror. The 
observer sees what the royal couple see, not what the 
painter sees, for he would see his meninas in a mirror hang- 
ing over against him. And it is quite possible that he 
really made use of such a mirror. 

There is otherwise a superfluity of frames in the picture 
— frames of the mirror, of the door, of the easel, many (all 
these black) of oil paintings, perhaps those copies of works 
by Rubens, the Heraclitus and Democritus and the Saturn 


and Diana, which according to the inventories hung be- 
tween the windows. The same inventories mention 
animal paintings and landscapes above the windows. Yet 
no picture is more calculated than this to make us forget 
that it is a picture. '' Ou est done le tableau ? " asked 
Theophile Gautier. 

This passing incident would naturally have at first been 
fixed by a sketch. This sketch, which is still extant, is the 
only undoubted one known to us of any painting carried out 
by the master on a large scale. And even this perhaps owes 
its existence to the circumstance that it was the original 
intention to execute the work in more modest proportions. 

The sketch, which in Caen Bermudcz' time belonged to 
Don Caspar de Jovellanos, is undoubtedly the same that is 
now owned by Mr. Banks of Kingston Lacy (size 56x48 
inches). Its accordance with the large canvas is almost 
complete. Under the pigments we see the delicate and 
distinct lines of the infanta's oval face, of her eyes and 
loose hair, drawn with a pencil. The couple in the mirror 
is still missing, although the red curtain is already there. 

Regarding this sketch the most diverse views have been 
advanced. The thoughtless and jealous declared it to be a 
copy. Waagen {Treasures^ IV., 581), considered it incredi- 
ble that such a spirited work (delicate silver tone, clear 
deep chiaroscuro) could be a copy, and even a greatly re- 
duced copy. At the exhibition in Burlington House (1864) 
it was pronounced to be an original sketch. On that occa- 
sion the opinion was expressed [Jthena;um I., 811) that 
Velasquez made this sketch for the purpose of securing the 


king's approval, and thus obtain his sanction to execute it 
on a large scale as something unique in portrait-painting. 

In the sketch, where ground colours prevail, the light 
seems to fall somewhat less abruptly ; the black figure of 
the artist, who already wears his decoration, stands out 
more conspicuously between the bright and coloured figures, 
while the ceiling with its greenish grey tone and the yellow 
floor is more distinct. 

That such a picture should be due to a momentary 
fancy was naturally owing to the circumstance that the 
material accidentally presented to the painter was specially 
calculated to stimulate his peculiar powers, reviving the 
memory of the motives in the works he most admired, such 
as Tintoretto's Marriage of Cana with the sunlight falling 
sideways on the fair-haired heads, and his IVashing of the 
Feet with its marvellous perspective display. 

Assuredly Leonardo da Vinci's dogma that relief is " the 
soul of painting," that " the beauty and first wonder " of 
this Art lies in the appearance of the figure raised and 
detached from the surface, has never been more convin- 
cingly understood, adhered to with more force of learning, 
more approvingly admired in all its accuracy by artists and 
non-professionals alike, than in this work. Waagen re- 
marked that one here seems to observe Nature as in a 
camera obscura ; to Stirling-Maxwell it looked like " an 
anticipation of Daguerre's invention " ; Mengs calls it 
" the proof that the petfect imitation of Nature is some- 
thing that equally satisfies all classes of observers." 

The nine figures of which scarcely two occupy the same 


perspective depth, are each toned according to their respect- 
ive positions, and modelled in the continually shifting 
accidents of the light effects. The light falls fullest on 
the princess, radiating back from the white satin and golden 
blond complexion. Other figures are distributed between 
light and shade ; others again are completely plunged in the 
gloom, and as at first a light figure stands on a dark ground, 
at last a dark figure, little more than a silhouette^ stands 
against the clear sunlight. 

The strongly foreshortened wall with the three rows of 
pictures one above the other helps to measure the space. 
The obtrusive monotonous reverse of the large easel-piece 
serves to conveniently disturb the sense of an apparently 
studied arrangement of the composition, and thus aids the 
illusion. Then the dim empty space above the groups, 
occupying far more than half of the canvas, lends anima- 
tion to the groups themselves by the force of contrast. 
Here also, where he had a free hand, we see how at last 
Velasquez studied the just relation between the height of 
the figures and that of the whole. 

To prevent the surface of the background from closing 
in abruptly and confining the eye the dark wall opposite 
was broken through in two diff^erent ways. In the treat- 
ment of this motive Velasquez, as well as his pupil Murillo, 
came in contact with Peter de Hooghe, the greatest con- 
temporary painter of sunlight. The open door lets the 
daylight in and reveals the sunshine outside. Then the 
mirror brings in a measure on to the scene the perspective 
depth towards the rear as well as the forward depth. 


The mirror plays this part also in De Hooghe's works, as 
in the Pianist in the Van der Hoop Museum. Nor should 
the blank space be overlooked in the mirror itself in the 
left corner below. 

Light and shade mutually aid each other. A sunlight 
such as that streaming in through the door has a dazzling 
effect ; this rectangular white patch affects us so overpower- 
ingly that we take the vagueness of the objects on the wall 
(for instance, those undistinguishable oil-paintings, copies 
of Ruben's Mythologies, amongst others apparently the 
Jpollo and Marsyas) as the effect of the glare, and accord- 
ingly estimate the intensity of that light as much stronger 
than any colours could produce. Here not only are the 
objects painted, but the artist has also depicted the very 
strain of the eye to discern them through the gloom. In a 
good light the groups appear veiled as if with a delicate 
luminous gossamer web. This is due to that dispersion of 
the radiations, which is caused by the proximity of a strong 
light over a dimly illumined space. 

All this dawns only gradually on the eye. Few pictures 
demand such a continuous study, the more so that at first 
the attention is too much absorbed in the wonderful figures 
themselves. As is often the case with Rembrandt, we 
fancy at first that we see nothing but colourless gloom in- 
terspersed with a few luminous oases. But as we linger a 
mysterious life seems to stir on the surface ; the vagueness 
clears up, grows distinct ; the colours come out ; one figure 
after another emerges in relief; nay, some seem even to 
turn, the features, the eyes appear to move. The golden 


frame becomes a setting for a magic mirror which annihi- 
lates the centuries, a telescope for distance in time, reveal- 
ing the spectral movements of the inmates of the old 
palace over two hundred years ago. In this picture the 
ideal of the historian has become truth and reality. 

And with what expedients has all this been realized ? 
when the eye is brought close to the surface, we are 
amazed at their simplicity. The picture is broadly painted, 
as if with reckless haste, on a coarse canvas with long 
bristly brush, although of all his works it produces the 
softest and most tranquil impression. In no other are the 
processes laid so completely bare. In the shadows we dis- 
tinguish the brown parts of dead colouring rubbed in ; the 
grey surfaces in white blends applied over this ground ; 
the local colours and lights in one place dashed off 
with rich, angular, formless touches, in another softly 

The figures are formed with such broad grey touches, 
and then full bodily substance and the pulse of life are im- 
parted to their still dim existence, often with a few sharp 
strokes. The local colouring is kept in reserve, the artist 
operating chiefly by means of light and shade ; a deadened 
greenish blue, dark green, or white is lightly applied above, 
while here and there small red patches come to the front. 
The secret lies in that thin superposition of dark on light, 
light on dark, unblinded, hovering one above the other, the 
outlines receiving an appearance of quivering motion by 
broad brown strokes of the brush as if stippled. But the 
essential point is the nuances improvised on the spur of 


the moment, by the fire of the hand struggling with the im- 
pression of the eye. 

Peculiar to Velasquez' genius was this delicate sensitive- 
ness to the differences of the chiaroscuro^ and the processes 
by which Nature models. He saw what no one had 
hitherto seen. But does not the true artist always find the 
means to effect his purpose, this being the special privilege 
of genius ? An artist possessing the receipts for every 
trick of Titian's or Rembrandt's brush would still make 
nothing of them without their eye. 

The earliest known remark on this painting is that of 
the Italian Luca Giordano, who is said to have observed to 
Charles II.: "Sire, this is the theology of painting!" 
What are we to understand by this enigmatical expression ? 
It is scarcely to be supposed that he thereby meant to pro- 
nounce it " the first in the world, as theology is the fore- 
most of the sciences," as a Spanish commentator inter- 
preted the saying. To a Frenchman it occurred that the 
point of comparison lay in its " subtlety." For, " what in 
fact is more subtle than theology and the impalpable air, 
although itself touching, and enveloping all things " 
(Thore, Salons^ I., 225). 

One might fancy he wished to single out the work as a 
standard for the treatment of relief and chiaroscuro^ just as 
Polycletus' Lance-bearer was accepted as the " Canon " of 
proportions. But in that case, why did not Giordano use 
the word philosophy rather than theology^ as did Lawrence in 
his letter to Wilkie of November 27, 1827: "In all the 
objects and subjects of his pencil it is the true philosophy 


of Art — the selection of essentials — of all which, first and 
last, strikes the eye and senses of the spectator." The- 
ology is the science of revealed truth in contra-distinction 
to that acquired by the natural powers of the understand- 
ing. Hence the point of comparison would seem to lie in 
the directness, the inspired character of the work, such as 
Mengs remarks upon in another of Velasquez's paintings, in 
the execution of which the will alone, and not the hand, 
seemed to have had any part. 

In the inventory of 1686, where it is first mentioned, the 
Meninas is valued at ten thousand doubloons, and under 
the Bourbons (1747) the price rose to twenty-five thousand 
doubloons. It was etched by Goya, but the plate was 
destroyed, having been injured in the process of rebiting. 
Only five impressions are known, one of which is in the 
British Museum, acquired for ;[f2i. The original was said 
to have been injured by the fire that destroyed the Alcazar 
(1734), and afterwards repaired by Juan de Miranda. The 
general tone may perhaps thereby have become somewhat 




WE may find some solace for our regrets at the muti- 
lations undergone by such works as the Night 
Watch and the Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis, in the perfect 
preservation of another canvas of this period. Commis- 
sioned by the Guild of Drapers, or Cloth-Workers, to paint 
a portrait group of their Syndics for the Hall of the 
Corporation, Rembrandt in 1661 delivered to them the 
great picture which formerly hung in the Chamber of the 
Controllers and Guagers of Cloth, at the Staalhof, and has 
now been removed to the Ryksmuseum. As in earlier 
days at Florence, the wool industry held an important 
place in the national commerce of Holland, and had greatly 
contributed to the development of public prosperity. At 
Leyden, where the guild was a large and important com- 
pany, we know that the Drapers decorated their Hall with 
pictures by Isaac van Swanenburch, representing the vari- 
ous processes of cloth-making. At Amsterdam, they 
formed a no less conspicuous body, and an admirable work, 
also in the Ryksmuseum, painted by Aert Petersen in 
1599, has immortalized the Six Syndics of the Cloth Hall of 
that date. On this brilliant and perfectly preserved panel, 
the arrangement of the six figures has, it is true, a some- 
what accidental appearance, and evidently cost the artist 


few awkwardly rendered episodes inspired by the distribu- 
tion of alms to the aged and the orphaned, the painters of 
these compositions contented themselves with arranging 
their patrons round a table, making no attempt to charac- 
terize them by any sort of accessory. The balancing of 
accounts, an operation common to all the Companies, had 
become a favourite motive in such groups. The adminis- 
trators would appear seated at a table, covered with a cloth, 
busily verifying their accounts, and the contents of their 
cash-boxes, and explaining with gestures more or less ex- 
pensive, that all was in order, and that they had faithfully 
fulfilled their trust. In the background, standing apart 
with uncovered heads, some subordinates awaited their 
pleasure, or aided them in their task. Such was the trite 
theme, which was adapted to each of the societies in turn, 
and to which all the painters of corporation groups con- 
formed with more or less exactitude. The only modifica- 
tions of treatment arose from the varying degrees of talent 
in the executants. But in all we find that same spirit of 
conscientious exactitude and absolute sincerity which had 
brought wealth to their models, and was the first founda- 
tion of Dutch greatness alike in commerce and in art. 

Such a spirit had already manifested itself in the Regents 
of the Asylum for the Aged^ by Cornelis Van de Voort, and 
in the pictures of Werner Van Valckert, an artist who had 
won a well deserved reputation by his studies of life in the 
Municipal Orphanage, and who painted a portrait-group 
of The Four Syndics of the Mercers^ Guilds in 1622. In 
the hands of Thomas de Keyser and Nicholas Elias the 


genre had reached its full development. Proclaimed their 
painter in ordinary by the leading citizens of Amsterdam, 
Elias was commissioned in 1626 to paint the Regents of the 
Guild of Wine Merchants^ and in 1628 produced his fine 
work, The Regents of the Spinhuis. Santvoort in his turn — 
though his talents lay chiefly in the direction of female por- 
traiture — displayed his powers very creditably in his Four 
Regents of the Serge Hall of 1643, ^ serious and well-con- 
sidered work, finely modelled and very characteristically 
treated. But to Haarlem belongs the honour of having 
produced the finest corporation picture executed before 
Rembrandt's masterpiece. Too much stress has perhaps 
been laid on the manifestation of his influence in Frans 
Hals' Regents of the Hospital of St. Elizabeth^ painted in 
1 64 1. The Haarlem master may, we think, justly lay 
claim to the full glory of his achievements. As if grate- 
ful in anticipation for the succour he was afterwards to re- 
ceive from his models, Hals here combines with the mag- 
nificent technique usual in his works, a precision and dig- 
nity to which he had never before attained. 

At this period, Dutch art had reached its apogee, and 
corporation pictures were beginning to show symptoms of 
decline. The unquestionable talent of Ferdinand Bol, one 
of Rembrandt's best pupils, had not preserved him from a 
certain mannerism in his Regents of the Asylum for the Aged^ 
dated 1657. The six persons are seated in the usual man- 
ner round a table. The heads are somewhat round and 
soft in the modelling, and have little of the strong individ- 
uality that impresses us in the works of Bol's predecessors. 


The composition is lacking in simplicity, and the painter's 
anxiety to give variety to the attitudes is somewhat dis- 
tractingly obvious. Each figure seems to claim exclusive 
attention, and this neglect of artistic subordination injures 
the unity of the composition, though it was indeed one of 
the main causes of Bol's success, for each model was flat- 
tered by the importance of his own figure in the group. 

Such were the most important productions in this genre^ 
when Rembrandt was commissioned to paint his group of 
Syndics. It is not unlikely that Van de Cappelle had used 
his influence on the master's behalf. He was on terms of 
friendship with Rembrandt at this period, and had dealings 
with most of the principal drapers, in connection with his 
dye-works. It is therefore possible that he recommended 
the master to their patronage. On this occasion Rem- 
brandt made no attempt to vary traditional treatment by 
picturesque episode, or novel method of illumination, as in 
the case of the Night Watch. As Dr. Bredius remarks : 
" He recognized, no doubt, that such experiments were far 
from grateful to his patrons, or it may be that they them- 
selves made certain stipulations which left him no choice 
in the matter." ^ Be this as it may, Rembrandt accepted 
the convention of his predecessors in all its simplicity. 
The five dignitaries of the Corporation are ranged round the 
inevitable table, prosaically occupied in the verification of 
their accounts. They are all dressed in black costumes, 
with flat white collars, and broad-brimmed black hats. Be- 
hind them, and somewhat in the shadow, as befits hisoiBce, 

* Les chefs a'ccuvre du Musee d' Amsterdam, 26. 


a servant, also in black, awaits their orders with uncovered 
head. The table-cloth is of a rich scarlet ; a wainscot of 
yellowish brown wood, with simple mouldings, forms the 
background for the heads. No accessories, no variation in 
the costumes ; an equally diffused light, falling from the 
left on the faces, which are those of men of mature years, 
some verging on old age. With such modest materials, 
Rembrandt produced his masterpiece. 

At the first glance, we are fascinated by the extraordi- 
nary reality of the scene, by the commanding presence and 
intense vitality of the models. They are simply honest 
citizens discussing the details of their calling j but there is 
an air of dignity on the manly faces that compels re- 
spect. In these men, to whom their comrades have en- 
trusted the direction of their affairs, we recognize the marks 
of clean and upright living, the treasures of moral and 
physical health, amassed by a robust and wholesome race. 
The eyes look out frankly from the canvas : the lips 
seemed formed for the utterance of wise and sincere words. 
Such is the work, but, contemplating it, the student finds 
it difficult to analyze the secret of its greatness, so artfully 
is its art concealed. Unfettered by the limitations imposed 
on him, the master's genius finds its opportunity in the ar- 
rangement of the figures, and their spacing on the canvas, 
in the slight inflection of the line of faces, in the unstudied 
variety of gesture and attitude, in the rhythm and balance 
of the whole. An examination of the various details con- 
firms our admiration. We note the solid structure of the 
heads and figures, the absolute truth of the values, the in- 


dividual and expressive quality of each head, and their unity 
one with another. Passing from the drawing to the colour, 
our enthusiasm is raised by the harmony of intense velvety 
blacks and warm whites with brilliant carnations, which 
seem to have been kneaded, as it were, with sunshine ; by 
the shadows which bring the forms into relief by an uner- 
ring perception of their surfaces and textures j ^nd, finally, 
by the general harmony, the extraordinary vivacity of which 
can only be appreciated by comparing it with the surround- 
ing canvasses. 

The execution is no less amazing in its sustained breadth 
and sobriety. As Fromentin justly observes: " The vivid 
quality of the light is so illusory that it is difficult to con- 
ceive of it as artificial. So perfect is the balance of parts," 
he adds, " that the general impression would be that of so- 
briety and reticence, were it not for the undercurrent of 
nerves, of flame, of impatience, we divine beneath the out- 
wardly calm maturity of the master." No criticism could 
be more admirable, save for the terms " nerves " and " im- 
patience," which seem to me to be peculiarly inappropriate. 
I appeal to all students of this great work, in which there 
is not the slightest trace of precipitation or negligence, in 
which the " flame " is the steady fire of an inspiration per- 
fectly under control. 

That phase of Rembrandt's development in which he 
had yielded an almost slavish obedience to Nature had long 
passed away ; but his assurance has none of a virtuoso 
making a display of his proficiency. His is the strength 
that possesses its soul in patience, and attains its end with- 


out haste or hesitation. Never before had he achieved such 
perfection; never again was he to repeat the triumph of 
that supreme moment when all his natural gifts joined 
forces with the vast experiences of a life devoted to his 
art, in such a crowning manifestation of his genius. Bril- 
liant and poetical, his masterpiece was at the same time ab- 
solutely correct and unexceptionable. Criticism, which still 
wrangles over the Night Watch^ is unanimous in admiration 
of the Syndics. In it the colourist and the draughtsman, 
the simple and the subtle, the realist and the idealist, alike 
recognize one of the masterpieces of painting. 

We know not how the work was received. But the ab- 
sence of any evidence to the contrary seems to prove that 
it made no great impression on Rembrandt's contemporaries. 
Its virile art was little suited to the taste of the day ; an 
enamelled smoothness of surface, and elaborate minuteness 
of treatment alone found favour. The master's broad and 
liberal manner must have seemed a direct challenge to his 
contemporaries. At Rembrandt's age, and in the con- 
ditions under which he was living, it was impossible that he 
should long sustain the high level of excellence he had 
reached in the Syndics. 




WE believe Reynolds, of that English school of 
portrait-painters of which he was the founder, 
was the happiest in introducing backgrounds to his figures ; 
to him we are indebted for that suitability of one to the 
other which has so great an effect in putting the eye and 
mind of the observer into harmonious relationship with 
what may be called the motive of the portraits, a relation- 
ship which elevates a likeness to the character of a picture, 
and affords a charming field for the display of art in pathos, 
which is often neglected, if not utterly ignored by Rey- 
nolds's successors. We think he exhibited more of this 
valuable characteristic than any other contemporary artist. 
Lawrence aimed at it, but with effect only commensurate to 
his success in painting. Of old, as before the Seventeenth 
Century in Germany and Italy, the art of landscape paint- 
ing per se was inefficiently cultivated, at least it was ex- 
pressed with irregularity, although occasionally with force 
enough to show that the pathos and the beauty of nature 
were by no means unappreciated or neglected to anything 
like the extent which has been commonly represented by 
writers on Art. Reynolds probably took the hint, as he did 
many others of the kind, from Van Dyck, and gave apt 




backgrounds to his figures : between these painters no one 
did much, or even well in the pathetic part of the achieve- 
ment. Since Reynolds, none have approached him in suc- 
cess. It will be understood that the object of these re- 
marks is not to suggest for the reader's consideration who 
painted the best landscape backgrounds as landscapes, but 
who most happily adapted them to his more important 
themes. We believe Reynolds did so, and will conclude 
our remarks by another example. The landscape in the 
distance of The Age of Innocence is as thoroughly in keeping 
with the subject as it can be : there are fields easy to 
traverse, a few village elms, and just seen above their tops 
the summits of habitations, — the hint is thus given that 
the child, all innocent as she is, has not gone far from 
home, or out of sight of the household to whom she be- 
longs. This picture — which is now in the National 
Gallery — was bought at Mr. Jeremiah Harman's sale in 
1844 by Mr. Vernon for 1,520 guineas. It was exhibited 
at the British Institution in 1813 and 1843. Another, the 
property of the Earl of Lonsdale, was also exhibited there 
in 1833. 



IT is rather singular that, though the Age of Innocence is one 
of the painter's most familiar works, little or nothing 
seems to be known respecting it. In the Catalogue ap- 
pended to his English Children as Painted by Sir ^Joshua 
Reynolds^ Mr. F. G. Stephens is unable to assign a date to 
this picture. In the Index to Leslie's Life of Reynolds no 
mention of it is to be found ; but Mr. Tom Taylor, the 
editor of Leslie's unfinished work, is inclined to assign 
many pictures of the class to which it belongs to the year 
1773 and the following years. 

" The average total of sitters for the year had now fallen 
from the hundred and fifty, forty, thirty, at which it stood 
between 1755 and 1765 to sixty and seventy. The inter- 
vals left by sitters Sir Joshua occupied by fancy subjects. 
'Boy,' 'Girl,' 'Shepherd-boy,' 'Shepherd-girl,' are now 
continually recurring entries. It is to this stage that 
we must refer some of his most ambitious historical pieces, 
as the Ugolino^ as well as most of those charming little 
pictures, so many of which contest places in our memories 
with his finest portraits, as much by virtue of their character 
and grace as by their power and ease of execution. Many 
of these belong to this year." 

One is the famous Strawberry Girl^ one of the " half- 


dozen original things," which the painter declared that no 
man ever exceeded in his life's work. " To the same style 
belong Musc'ipula holding up the mouse-trap, while the cat 
eagerly sniffs at the poor little prisoner ; Rohinetta feeding 
her bird, perched on her shoulders; and Dorinda^ sadly cry- 
ing over her pet's body by the side of its empty cage." 

Some hint of the tact which contributed to Reynolds's 
success in depicting the restless, ever-varying graces of 
childhood, is conveyed in the account that has come down 
to us of the circumstances under which his well-known 
picture of Miss Bowles was painted : the painter sitting by 
the little girl's side at dinner, making her look at some- 
thing distant from the table and stealing her plate, pretend- 
ing to look for it and contriving that it should come back 
to her without her knowing how ; amusing her with tricks 
and stories till she thought him the most charming man 
in the world, and was delighted to be taken the next day 
to his house, when she sat down with a face full of glee, 
the expression of which he caught at once and never lost. 
Something of the same skill in seizing a fleeting grace is to 
be seen in the picture before us in the unaffected pose of the 
arms, which the little sitter doubtless maintained for very 
few seconds, but which contributes so much to the ex- 
pression of simplicity and innocence. 




HISTORIANS are not agreed as to whether Laura 
Dianti, whose likeness Titian painted, was the wife 
or the mistress of Alfonso of Este ; yet a record exists 
which seems to prove that Tomaso and Agostino Mosti, 
both well-known writers at Ferrara, confessed to have been 
present at the Duke's marriage. In her lifetime Laura was 
known as " the most illustrious Signora Laura Eustiochio 
Estense " ; and when she died and was buried in Sant' 
Agostino of Ferrara, Alfonso the Second and Cardinal 
Luigi of Este accompanied her son Don Alfonso to the 
funeral.* Vasari tells us it was a " stupendous portrait " 
that Titian painted of the Signora Laura, " who was after- 
wards the Duke's wife." It has not been suggested 
though, it may be, that this masterpiece was the " portrait 
of a lady with an Ethiopian page." The fashion of late 
years has been to identify Laura d'Este with the picture of 
a girl at her toilet attended by a man holding two mirrors 
in the Louvre. In confirmation of this it has been said 
that the man in the background is Alfonso of Este, and 
there is no doubt that the round forehead with the cropped 
hair in a peak down its centre, the short and finely 
'The burial took place June 28, 1573. 



chiselled nose, and the cut beard, are very like similar 
features in Alfonso's portrait at Madrid ; yet this much, if 
accepted as correct, would not prove beyond question that 
the lady to whom Alfonso is holding the mirrors is Laura 
Dianti ; and we may fairly doubt whether a girl, beautiful 
indeed but simple in attire, could be the mistress of a Duke 
like Alfonso. It is known, however, that Laura was the 
daughter of a citizen of modest station, and it may be that 
Titian was called on to portray this citizen's daughter 
when as yet she had not risen from the humbleness of her 
original position. It is certainly striking that the shape 
which Titian has painted should not only be beautiful, but 
of extreme simplicity in its attire, added to which a 
generous breadth of form, ruddy health and firm flesh, in- 
dicate a nature altogether foreign to the air of courts. It 
is true this innocent-looking maid has already learnt the 
arts familiar to ladies of that age. Her hair has been 
washed, plaited and bleached to a ruddy tone by lotions 
and exposure to the sun, and has thus acquired that arti- 
ficial golden tinge which we look for in vain in the Venice 
of our day ; the wave is in it which plaiting gives, and an 
ointment is ready on the table to smooth and perfume it. 
But these innocent arts might be known to the daughter of 
a citizen as well as to the mate of a prince ; and there is 
nothing in them to diminish the impression of simplicity 
which the picture otherwise conveys. The girl is repre- 
sented standing behind a table or slab of stone dressing her 
hair, whilst a man in the gloom behind her holds with his 
left hand a round mirror, the reflection of which he catches 


with a square mirror in his right. Into the second of these 
the girl gently bends her head to look, eagerly watched by 
her lover as she twists a long skein of wavy golden hair. 
Over the white and finely plaited linen that loosely covers 
her bosom, a short green bodice is carelessly thrown ; and 
a skirt of the same stuff is gathered to the waist by a sash 
of similar colour. A broad white sleeve hangs in a rich 
festoon from the right shoulder, exposing the whole of a 
grand and fleshy arm ; whilst a bright blue scarf winds 
round the left wrist and leaves nothing but the hand to be 
seen as it rests on the ointment vase. The left side of the 
girl's head is already dressed, she is finishing the right side, 
and a delightful archness and simplicity beams in the eyes 
as they turn to catch the semblance in the mirror. The 
coal-black eye and brow contrast with the ruddy hair ; the 
chiselled nose projects in delicate line from a face of 
rounded yet pure contour, and the lips, of a cherry redness 
which Titian alone makes natural, are cut with surprising 
fineness. The light is concentrated with unusual force 
upon the face and bust of the girl, whilst the form and 
features of the man are lost in darkness. We pass with 
surprising rapidity from the most delicate silvery gradations 
of sunlit flesh and drapery, to the mysterious depths of an 
almost unfathomable gloom, and we stand before a modelled 
balance of light and shade that recalls da Vinci entranced 
by a chord of tonic harmony as sweet and as thrilling as 
was ever struck by any artist of the Venetian school.^ 

' The earliest reference to this picture is Bathoe's catalogue of Charles 
I.'s collection : " No. 16, Titian and his mistress by himself, appraised at 


How this depth of shade and flimmering of reflections in 
darkness, how this breadth of light were attained, is a secret 
which defies us the more as it defied the closest observers 
of Titian's own time. How he worked the strong pasta 
of his pigments or modified them with countless varieties 
of rubbings, subject to a final general glazing, it is hard to 
say ; but he had now succeeded in producing that combi- 
nation of colour and fairness which we notice in all the 
pictures of this time, — a combination equally conspicuous 
in the Bacchus and Ariadne^ the Madonna with the Rabbit 
and those grander but later marvels of technical execution, 
the Entombment of the Louvre and the Virgin and Saints of 
the Vatican. Traditions of an early time did not, as we 
saw, connect this picture with Alfonso of Ferrara ; on the 
contrary, when it passed into the collection of Charles the 
First of England, it was known as Titian and his Mistress j 
and strange to say, though a likeness is not to be traced 
between the man in the background and Titian, the name 
still clings, as names will strangely do, to the canvas which 
displays, if not his figure, at least his art in its grandest 
form. What distinguishes the canvas at the Louvre from 
others in which Titian has depicted with a certain freedom 
the charms of women, is the semblance of chasteness and 

and sold for ;^loo," Jabach bought it, and afterwards sold it to Louis 
XIV. It is now No. 471 in the Louvre, on canvas, m. o. 96h, by o. 76, 
If there be anything in the picture less commendable than the rest, it is 
the rendering of the right arm, which, together with the drapery about it, 
seems not quite to fit to the shoulder, but this defect is scarcely visible in 
the midst of the beauties which abound in every part. A fine contrast is 
that of the red damask dress of the man with the cold, dark background. 
'See Great Pictures (New York, 1899), facing page 72. 


candour in the persons whom he delineated. When he 
chose he could easily create a more complex impression ; as 
he does in the Flora of the Uffizi, a figure which presents 
form of similar scantling with a mould of head and move- 
ment not essentially different. But here instead of vivid 
colour and powerful effect of light and shade, we have all 
light, all softness, and a suffusion which is not without 
dazzling brightness though it is without strong contrasts. 
Here in fact Titian evidently desires to suggest another 
phase of life — not the maiden, but the woman — with the 
roses which she has plucked, the woman whose skin is fair, 
but blanched by art, whose shape is softened by seclusion, 
a woman of delicate whiteness, seductive and lightly clad. 
Tradition again suggests Titian's mistress ; and Sandrart 
embodied this tradition when he wrote in the Seventeenth 
Century : 

" Fere viret tellus placido perfusa liquore, 
A Zephyr et blando turgida fiore viget 
Flora modo verts, Titiani pectus amore 
Implet, et huic smiles illaqueare par at.** 

It might occur to many to think that the Venus of the 
Uffizi was a portrait immortalizing the charms of a young 
and beautiful woman dear in a passing way to the Duke of 
Urbino. But this need not necessarily be true, if the 
figure be but an embodiment of a new type which struck 
Titian's fancy at the time the figure as a whole, was fre- 
quently copied by contemporaries and later artists ; and of 
this we have examples in the replica by a Venetian of 


Titian's age at the Uffizi, and adaptations such as are seen 
in the Butler Johnstone and Hampton Court collections. 
But the face was also one which reappeared in diverse 
forms in pictures of varied character, and this we observe 
in a portrait of a young woman at the Pitti which goes by 
the name of " La bella di Titiano," and two oc three fancy 
pieces in the galleries of St. Petersburg and Vienna. 

" La bella di Titiano " at the Pitti, is one of Titian's 
likenesses in which every feature tells of high lineage and 
distinction. The pose, the look, the dress are all noble. 
We may presume that the name was accepted for want of 
a better. The face was so winning that it lurked in 
Titian's memory, and passed as a type into numerous can- 
vases in which the painter tried to realize an ideal of love- 
liness. The head being seen about two-thirds to the left, 
whilst the eyes are turned to the right, the spectator is 
fascinated by the glance in whatever direction he looks at 
the canvas. The eye is grave, serene, and kindly, the 
nose delicate and beautifully shaped, the mouth divine. 
Abundant hair of a warm auburn waves along the temples, 
leaving a stray curl to drop on the forehead. The rest is 
plaited and twisted into coils round a head of the most 
symmetrical shape. A gold chain falls over a throat of 
exquisite model, and the low dress with its braided orna- 
ments and slashed sleeves, alternately tinted in blue and 
white and white and purple is magnificent. One hand — the 
left — is at rest ; the other holds a tassel hanging from a girdle. 
Nothing can exceed the delicacy and subtlety with which 
the flesh and dress are painted; the tones being harmonized 


and thrown into keeping by a most varied use and applica- 
tion of glazings and scrumblings. ^ 

From the palace — for here we are surely in the best and 
highest of company — we descend the social scale to the 
" Mistress of Titian " at the Hermitage of Petersburg ; a 
half length of a slender girl in a red hat prettily decorated 
with a white feather — a double string of pearls, and a 
jewelled clasp, earrings of pearls, and necklace of the same, 
enhance the charms before us. But instead of a dress to 
match this gala head, we find the form all but unclad, the 
muslin under-garment hardly showing at the shoulder, the 
frame but loosely covered with a green pelisse lined with 
ermine. We might think this is a young lady whose head 
is dressed for a ball, waiting for her maid to complete the 
toilet ; but the face which vaguely recalls the Venus of the 
Uffizi, is too gay, too arch and too provoking, and women 
who are dressing are not necessarily in this best of tempers. 

' This picture is a half-length of life-size on canvas. It measures i 
brae. I4in. in height, and 1.6 in breadth ; and is numbered 18 in the Pitti 
collection. Some of the finish has been removed by cleaning, and the 
abrasion of the finest glazings makes the surface look comparatively cold. 
This coldness is most apparent about the throat, but may also be seen in 
the hair, which is partly retouched, and in the warm, dark background. 




THE altar of the choir is the famous Crucifixion of 
Christ between the two Thieves, by Rubens. To 
give animation to this subject, he has chosen the point of 
time when an executioner is piercing the side of Christ, 
whilst another with a bar of iron is breaking the limbs of 
one of the malefactors, who in his convulsive agony, which 
his body admirably expresses, has torn one of his feet from 
the tree to which it was nailed. The expression in the 
action of this figure is wonderful : the attitude of the other 
is more composed ; and he looks at the dying Christ with a 
countenance perfectly expressive of his penitence. This 
figure is likewise admirable. The Virgin, St. John, and 
Mary, the wife of Cleophas, are standing by with great ex- 
pression of grief and resignation, whilst the Magdalen, who 
is at the feet of Christ, and may be supposed to have been 
kissing his feet, looks at the horseman with the spear, with 
a countenance of great horror: as the expression carries 
with it no grimace or contortion of the features, the 
beauty is not destroyed. This is by far the most beautiful 
profile I ever saw of Rubens, or, I think of any other 
painter ; the excellence of its colouring is beyond expres- 
sion. To say that she may be supposed to have been kiss- 
ing Christ's feet, may be thought too refined a criticism •, 


but Rubens certainly intended to convey that idea, as 
appears by the disposition of her hands; for they are 
stretched out towards the executioner, and one of them is 
before and the other behind the Cross; which gives an idea 
of her hands having been round it j and it must be remem- 
bered that she is generally represented kissing the feet of 
Christ ; it is her place and employment in those subjects. 
The good centurion ought not to be forgotten, who is 
leaning forward, one hand on the other, resting on the 
mane of his horse, while he looks up to Christ with great 

The genius of Rubens nowhere appears to more ad- 
vantage than here : it is the most carefully finished pic- 
ture of all his works. The whole is conducted with the 
most consummate art ; the composition is bold and un- 
common, with circumstances which no other painter had 
ever before thought of; such as the breaking of the limbs, 
and the expression of the Magdalen, to which we may add 
the disposition of the three crosses, which are placed pro- 
spectively in an uncommon picturesque manner: the nearest 
bears the thief whose limbs are breaking ; the next the 
Christ, whose figure is straighter than ordinary, as a con- 
trast to the others ; and the furthermost, the penitent thief : 
this produces a most picturesque eff^ect, but it is what few 
but such a daring genius as Rubens would have attempted. 
It is here, and in such compositions, we properly see 
Rubens, and not in little pictures of Madonnas and Bam- 
binos. It appears that Rubens made some changes in this 
picture, after Bolswert had engraved his print from it. 



The horseman who is in the act of piercing the side of 
Christ, holds the spear, according to the print, in a very 
tame manner, with the back of the hand over the spear, 
grasping it with only three fingers, the fore-finger straight, 
lying on the spear ; whereas in the picture, the back of the 
hand comes under the spear, and he grasps it with his 
whole force. 

The other defect, which is remedied in the picture, is the 
action of the executioner, who breaks the legs of the crimi- 
nal ; and in the print both his hands are over the bar of 
iron, which makes a false action : in the picture the whole 
disposition is altered to the natural manner in which every 
person holds a weapon, which requires both hands ; the right 
is placed over, and the left under it. 

This print was undoubtedly done under the inspection of 
Rubens himself. It may be worth observing, that the 
keeping of the masses of light in the print differs much 
from the picture : this change is not from inattention, but 
design : a different conduct is required in a composition with 
colours, from what ought to be followed when it is in black 
and white only. We have here the authority of this great 
master of light and shadow, that a print requires more and 
larger masses of light than a picture. 

In this picture the principal and the strongest light is the 
body of Christ, which is of a remarkable clear and bright 
colour; this is strongly opposed by the very brown com- 
plexion of the thieves (perhaps the opposition here is too 
violent), who make no great effect as light. The Virgin's 
outer drapery is dark blue, and the inner a dark purple; and 


St. John is in dark strong red ; no part of these two figures 
is light in the picture, but the head and hands of the 
Virgin ; but in the print they make the principal mass of 
light of the whole composition. The engraver has cer- 
tainly produced a fine effect ; and I suspect it is as certain, 
that if this change had not been made, it would have ap- 
peared a black and heavy print. 

When Rubens thought it necessary in the print to make 
a mass of light of the drapery of the Virgin and St. John, 
it was likewise necessary that it should be of a beautiful 
shape, and be kept compact ; it therefore became necessary 
to darken the whole figure of the Magdalen, which in the 
picture is at least as light as the body of Christ j her head, 
linen, arms, hair, and the feet of Christ, make a mass as 
light as the body of Christ: it appears therefore, that some 
parts are to be darkened, as well as other parts made lighter; 
this consequently is a science which an engraver ought well 
to understand, before he can presume to venture on any 
alteration from the picture which he means to represent. 

The same thing may be remarked in many other prints 
by those engravers who were employed by Rubens and Van 
Dyck ; they always gave more light than they were 
warranted by the picture : a circumstance which may merit 
the attention of engravers. 

I have dwelt longer on this picture than any other, as it 
appears to me to deserve extraordinary attention : it is cer- 
tainly one of the first pictures in the world, for composition, 
colouring, and what was not to be expected from Rubens, 
correctness of drawing. 




AFTER a visit of four years in Rome, Mantegna re- 
turned to Mantua in 1490, the day after the 
magnificent feasts in honour of the marriage of Giovanni 
Francisco de Gonzaga, Duke regnant, w^ith the Princess 
Isabella d'Este, who, in the history of the Italian Renais- 
sance, has the reputation of being one of the most 
interesting of w^omen for her beauty and still more for 
her intelligence, and her taste for art and philosophy. 
From her arrival in Mantua, Isabella endeavoured to 
establish in the enormous ducal palace a studiolo^ where 
she could receive the savants^ the poets and the artists, and 
converse with them. She ordered the most renowned 
painters of her day to decorate it and gave the subjects for 
these compositions first to Mantegna, and then to Perugino, 
Giovanni Bellini, Francia, and, finally, to Lorenzo Costa. 

Doubtless Isabella d'Este, great friend of art that she was, 
knew Mantegna through his reputation which was already 
considerable, and through his works which she could have 
seen at her father's court ; she was certainly astonished 
also upon her arrival at Mantua by the paintings of this 
great master spread in profusion upon the walls of the pal- 
aces and ducal villas, the very rare remains of which allow 


US to catch a glimpse of their grandeur. It was then very 
natural that the duchess called first upon Mantegna to dec- 
orate her salon. But as he was living in Mantua, the com- 
mand was given by word of mouth, and no written docu- 
ment has come to light regarding the preparation and exe- 
cution of these two pictures. This was not the case with 
the other artists established outside of the domains of the 
Duke Giovanni. Fifty-two letters exchanged between Per- 
ugino and Isabella d'Este are in existence, which show that 
Mantegna's two compositions served as models for later 
works with regard to dimensions, procedure, the number of 
personages in the foreground, etc. A similar correspond- 
ence, but not so important, was exchanged between the 
princess and Giovanni Bellini in Venice, on the one hand, 
and, with Francia in Bologna, on the other, and very use- 
lessly, moreover, for they sneaked away from the requests 
of Isabella d'Este and would not execute her commands. 

These letters show us how exacting the Duchess of 
Mantua was ; she not only gave the subject of the picture, 
but she indicated also the way in which she wanted it 
treated, the number of personages and their attitudes, the 
episodes in the middle distance, and, finally, fixed all the 
details, and even accompanied her orders by a sketch, so 
that the painter could not possibly mistake the meaning of 
her instructions ; and if, embarrassed by so many restric- 
tions, he asked for a small variation in the programme, 
every change and every modification was refused. The 
Duchess was obstinate in imposing her own ideas. More- 
over, she was not always satisfied, for she tells us in one of 


her letters that Perugino's picture, The Combat of Love and 
Chastity did not please her. 

This was not the case with the two paintings by Man- 
tegna, one representing the Combat of the Virtues with the 
Vices ; the other, Parnassus. The first is addressed to the 
philosophers, the second to the poets that frequented the 
studiolo. As for the date of their execution, it is cer- 
tainly before 1505 ; a letter of Perugino's proves this. 
Very probably Mantegna painted it from 1493 ^° ^497 > ^°^ 
in 1493 Isabella sent to Venice quite a large supply of ul- 
tramarine, then a rare and precious commodity, " for Man- 
tegna's pictures," and in 1497 ^ varnish, with which the 
master had previously declared his satisfaction. ^ 

It was under these conditions that one of the purest 
masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance was produced, 
Parnassus^ — that picture where, in a landscape that one only 
sees in dreams, the nine Muses, in light tunics, of varied 
and changing hue, gaily dance and sing upon the grass to 
the sounds of the lyre with which Apollo, seated on the 
left, accompanies his own songs. Pegasus is on the right, 
and Mercury is standing near him j while in the middle 
distance, on a rock, cut out in the form of an arch, and 
showing in the distance the green and flowery declivities of 
Helicon, Mars and Venus are revealed, standing in front of 
a mass of orange trees. Near them, Cupid annoys with 
his arrows Vulcan, who appears, furious, at the entrance of 
a grotto where his furnace flames, 

' See Gazette des Beaux-Arts (1895); *"*^ habelle d' Este et les Artistes 
de son Temps by Charles Vriarte. 


Let us now remark that nowhere else, in all the work of 
Mantegna, does woman hold so great a place as in this pic- 
ture, inspired by a woman as attractive by the charms of her 
beauty as by the cultivation of her mind. These Muses, 
in their varied attitudes of healthful grace, without affec- 
tation or archness, reveal memories of antique sculpture; 
and we believe that we can see the inspiration, or the copy 
of a Greek marble, in the beautiful body of Venus, who is 
the one nude female preserved to us in all the works 
painted by Mantegna. 

If it was Isabella d'Este who decreed the details of this 
composition, she was certainly well inspired ; she did still 
better, too, in charging Mantegna with its execution. He 
was, moreover, particularly adapted to revive this vision of 
antiquity, for not only was his knowledge of archaeology 
very extensive for the period in which he lived, but his 
knowledge of letters was not less ; and already, at the time 
of his visit to Rome, he had drawn in numerous composi- 
tions, destined to serve as cartoons for tapestries, the tri- 
umphs of Julius Caesar, in which he endeavoured to get as 
near as possible to antique models in regard to the costumes, 
arms, caparisons, and trophies of a victorious army return- 
ing to Rome. 

Here the knowledge of the learned man was useless and 
had to give place to the imagination of the poet. This 
was perhaps something quite new for Mantegna, whose 
talent had rarely been employed up to this time on a similar 
subject. But notwithstanding this, how much at ease is he 
in this domain, still so new to him ! It is because he had 


a tender soul, although a somewhat difficult character, and, 
doubtless, he was fascinated by the grace of the classic 
legend, which, by means of his conversations with a 
learned woman and with philosophers and poets of the 
Renaissance, he endeavoured to recall and to make correct 
in every detail. 

The Duchess of Mantua showed herself well satisfied 
with this picture and the master himself was, doubtless, very 
well pleased. We may be allowed to think this because he 
either engraved himself, or had engraved in his studio, the 
charming group of Muses, and this he only did for a very 
small number of his pictures. 

But the days of prosperity were succeeded by a dark 
period of reverses for Mantua and its dukes. The fortunes 
of war introduced troops from Germany and France. The 
mural paintings which the Gonzagas had, with the lavish- 
ness of Mecaenas, decorated their palaces and villas, were 
almost entirely destroyed, and the objects of art, — furniture, 
pictures and statues, — went to enrich the collections of 
other princes who had acquired, by their frequent inter- 
course with Italy, artistic tastes which they satisfied, in 
consequence, at the expense of Italy herself. Those 
which did not become the spoil of the conqueror, were 
sold by the Duke Vincent to meet some indispensable ex- 
penses. This happened in 1632. Some negotiations were 
begun between Mantua and London. Richelieu heard of 
these, and intended to take his part. He charged one of 
his agents, already sent to Rome to get some statues and 
antique busts, to go to Mantua, where he bought the five 


pictures which had decorated the studiolo of Isabella 
d'Este, and which therefore did not have to be separated, 
even in the evil days. 

Parnassus and the four other pictures came to France 
with the marbles of Rome to enrich the beautiful collec- 
tions which the great minister of Louis XIII. had gathered 
in his chateau of Poitou. 

M. Bonnaffe, who has made these details known to us in 
his book, Recherches sur les Collections des Richelieu., has also 
told us that during the Revolution these pictures were re- 
moved, the Duke de Fronsac, great nephew of the Car- 
dinal, having emigrated. A transaction with the heirs as- 
sured them to the Government. It was thus that the 
Parnassus and the Combat of the Virtues with the Vices by 
Mantegna, the Combat of Love and Chastity by Perugino, 
and the two pictures by Lorenzo Costa entered the Louvre, 
their last resting-place, in 1801. To-day they are 
grouped around another of Mantegna's pictures, ordered 
by the husband of Isabella d'Este, Giovanni Francisco de 
Gonzaga, who is there represented at the end of the 
undecided battle of Fornona, where he wished to be the 

It is a claim to glory for a museum to be able to show 
an authentic work by Mantegna ; the Louvre has reason to 
be proud of the works of this master which it possesses and 
which are ranked among his most precious and important 
ones. Parnassus and the Combat of the Virtues and Vices 
are the only painted allegorical scenes by Mantegna 
in existence. It is then in the Louvre that he can 


be seen under the most diverse and unexpected aspects 
and nowhere else does the painter of the Gonzagas 
show as he does here the many sides of his great genius. 




ANTONIO ALLEGRI was born in Correggio, from 
which comes his name, about the year 1494, (the 
date is not very certain), the son of Pcllegrino AUegri and 
Bernardina Piazzoli. According to the tradition of his 
country, he was taught the first rudiments of art by his 
uncle Laurent, and then he went to the school of Fran- 
cesco Bianchi, called le Frari, in Modena. He learned at 
the same time to model in clay, and he worked with Bega- 
relli upon that group of Piety in St. Margaret's church, the 
most beautiful figures of which are attributed to him. 
From Modena they made him go to Mantua, to Andrea 
Mantegna, but, as it has been since discovered, Mantegna 
died in 1506, this supposition has been destroyed, some- 
what materially at least, for it is necessary that an artist 
should be living in order to form disciples : his works 
reveal his place and frequently in a more eloquent manner 
than even words could do. Thus we may admit very well 
Mantegna as one of Correggio's masters, no matter if the 
dates oppose any direct instruction. Correggio took in- 
spiration from Mantegna with the liberty of genius, and 
made perfect that which he had borrowed, mingling it in 
intimate amalgamation with his own natural qualities. 



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It is rare happiness to find in this world of form which 
seems limited and where the human body is the eternal 
theme, an individual inflexion, a line as yet unknown, a 
charm revealed for the first time. This happiness Cor- 
reggio possesses in the highest degree. He knew how to 
extract from both women and children a grace that no one 
had ever suspected, a tender, lovable and smiling grace, and 
which we do not know how to designate better than by 
using the name of the painter himself as an epithet : Corre- 
gian Grace. Nothing else could give an idea of it. It is 
not the mysterious, deep, and almost disquieting and super- 
natural grace of Lionardo da Vinci, nor the calm, virginal 
and celestial grace of Raphael ; it is an indefinable voluptu- 
ousness, a perpetual caress, an irresistible seduction, where 
there is, however, nothing lascivious ; nakedness with Cor- 
reggio has the ingenuous candour of infancy ; like Eve be- 
fore she sinned, it does not know that it is unveiled. We 
insist upon this grace, because it is the distinctive character 
of the artist, the charm that draws and keeps souls to him. 
But it must not be imagined that Correggio is a painter ex- 
clusively preoccupied with the beautiful, the amiable and 
the smiling : he was an artist whose muscular boldness and 
audacity rivalled Michelangelo ; and, in order to convince 
oneself of this, it is necessary to see the cupola of St. John 
and the Duomo of Parma. This suave and delicious Cor- 
reggio possesses the most solid instruction of the picturesque, 
and thoroughly understands geometry, and perspective, and 
this enables him to execute with mathematical precision 
these foreshorten ings whose boldness is astonishing. This 


science created the style of his drawing with its varying in- 
finity of movements and points of view. While most 
painters are satisfied with rendering faces as they appear to 
the eye, Correggio always paints his heads raised or lowered ; 
they are looking up or they are looking down, the lines de- 
scend or mount upward with deflections or unexpected 
turnings, which reveal in their outlines aspects of a strange 
and charming novelty : it is the same with his bodies, 
where this knowledge of foreshortening and perspective 
produces attitudes, forms and profiles which no pencil nor 
brush had ever expressed before. The custom of model- 
ling in clay gave to Correggio this perfect feeling for 
relief which we admire in him. The figures are not en- 
closed in a rigid outline ; they are painted, so to speak, in 
round humps drawn in light and shade, and seem to leap 
out of their surroundings. Like objects in the atmosphere, 
they swim in fluid outlines, toned down and vaporous, that 
bathe them, envelop them and seem to whirl about them. 
The brush, in his hand, is a kind of sculptor's tool model- 
ling in masses and producing the roundness of the forms 
upon the canvas as if made with clay. Sometimes, indeed 
he painted after a clay model, to get a better idea of the 
foreshortening and the projection of the shadows, a method 
used by the divine Lionardo. There have been preserved 
a few of the figurines that he used when he worked upon 
the frescoes of the Duomo, and which explain those attitudes 
impossible to imagine or to copy from nature. However, all 
this knowledge is adorned with grace ; never does any ef- 
fort make itself felt, even in the excesses and tours de force ; 


a divine harmony envelopes everything like a light and flex- 
ible drapery that floats around a beautiful body. 

An Italian critic calls Correggio a clarified Lionardo. 
This remark is not unjust. The painter of Parma, like 
the painter of Milan, leads from light to shade by degrees 
of infinite delicacy, but the quality of the shadow is not 
the same. Black or violet, or, at the very least, neuter in 
tone with da Vinci, Correggio's shadow is silvery, trans- 
parent, illumined with reflections, and would really serve 
for light with many painters ; the artist has carried to the 
last illusions the magic of chairoscuro^ z magic of which he 
is a kind of inventor, for before him the palette had no 
knowledge of these marvellous resources. But these lights 
of shadow, these clearnesses of shadow take nothing from 
the solidity of the bodies. They play upon their surfaces 
and do not penetrate into them. They have indeed a rela- 
tive intensity which leaves all their value upon the parts 
touched by the light. The local tone of the objects pur- 
sues it and finds it, without attracting the eye. The white- 
nesses of the flesh are not surrounded by those swarthy or 
wood-coloured zones which too often represent the shadow 
in pictures that are otherwise admirable and full of sublime 
qualities. This perfect homogeneity of the bright parts 
and the dark parts give to Correggio's figures a rare power 
of relief; they detach themselves from the block of the 
background spread out behind them and exhibit themselves 
to the eye with all the appearance of life-like objects per- 
ceived in a mirror. At the approach of twilight, when the 
canvasses in the galleries extinguish themselves one by one, 


and present themselves only as confused blots, Correggio's 
pictures keep the light and seem to illuminate themselves; 
the personages assume an intense and mysterious life, one 
would say they mean to come out of the frames like tab- 
leaux vivants when the effect is produced, and that they 
must take new poses for another group. As the sun lin- 
gers upon the high mountains long after night has bathed 
the valleys, light abandons these high summits of art re- 

It is in Dresden that this fascinating picture, so inappro- 
priately called Correggio's Night and to which the name of 
Aurora would be more suitable, is to be found. Nothing 
in this radiant canvas gives you the idea of darkness ; 
dawn is breaking behind the distant mountains that you see 
through the stable door, constructed of frame-work resting 
upon the ruins of an ancient edifice : and the whole picture 
is illuminated by a supernatural light that is emanating 
from the body of the Infant Jesus. The new-born child 
in the lap of Mary gives out such brilliancy that, like the 
sun, he illuminates all the objects surrounding him. The 
Virgin's face, lovingly bending towards him, receives 
silvery reflections of an ideal transparency and freshness. 
The smile of the happy mother causes its rosy line to wave 
across the whiteness of mother of pearl, milk, or opal, 
where the long lashes of lowered eyes are slightly traced in 
light shadow. Touched by this celestial splendour, the 
humble straw of the manger shines like the golden threads 
of an aureole. The splendour flashes upon the handsome 
shepherdess who is bringing a couple of turtle-doves in a 


basket and makes a naive gesture of wonder at the divine 
baby : it enlightens the young herdsman, who, with one 
hand on the edge of the manger and the other on the back 
of a large dog, raises his head in ecstasy and seems to be 
contemplating with a visionary glance the group of angels 
who are balancing themselves on a cloud in the ceiling of 
the stable ; and finally it comes up to that old shepherd 
of Herculean build, holding a stick that looks like a club or 
an uprooted tree, and who is scratching his head with an 
embarrassed air like a peasant in the presence of a king. 
One cannot imagine with what miraculous art that light 
leaving its peculiar source is conducted, diminished and 
melted from the centre to the edge of the picture. All 
these figures are bathed in it as if in the atmosphere of 
paradise. Never did a colourist play more powerfully with 
such a difiicult problem, and this is not a vain tour de force ^ 
but it is the triumphant expression of an idea, perfectly 
charming, perfectly poetic, and full of tenderness, which 
could only belong to the happy genius of Correggio. That 
feeble little one, that baby crying on the straw and shed- 
ding about him in the stable even now that light whose 
radiance will illumine the whole world ! The Virgin is not 
astonished, perhaps, indeed she does not see anything ; — 
every child is glorious to its mother ! — and with a passion- 
ate caress she makes a cradle for him with her arms, and 
presses him to her heart. 

In the corner towards the top of the picture, the angels 
fly about joyfully in those foreshortened ceiling attitudes so 
loved by Correggio, and which take nothing from their 


celestial grace. They support themselves by their very 
lightness and even if they should forget to move their 
wings they need not fear falling. The clouds with their 
bluish flakes not only give them support, but form for them 
an atmosphere and separate them from the human beings. 

In the middle distance, Saint Joseph is clutching the ass 
by the mane to lead him to the manger. Further away, 
two young boys hold the ox by his horns. Is it not neces- 
sary that the dumb creation should have these two 
witnesses to the birth of our Saviour ? Good and gentle 
beasts touched dimly in their souls that are warming the 
child with their breath ! This familiar and tender detail, of 
pure naturalism, gives to the scene an appearance of real 
life without detracting from the divine side. Nothing 
strained, nothing forced, and nothing of false grandeur, but 
everywhere the most lovable grace. 




IN the second year of his sojourn in Rome, after having 
painted Mme. Devau^ay, Ingres produced a master- 
piece, (Edipus explaining the Riddle^ in which for the first 
time he affirmed his individual manner of understanding 
and feeling. 

In order thoroughly to appreciate this admirable painting, 
it is well to ask how David conceived it. If I am not 
mistaken, he wanted to present this strange and mysterious 
myth of Destiny under chaste and pure forms, all of 
which should be borrowed from archaic sculpture, or 
engraved gems, or Greek vases ; and it seems to me that 
his (Edipus was to be nothing but an abstract image of the 
ancient Fatality. More of an artist than his master, and 
more emotional, Ingres has represented not only a mytho- 
logical emblem, a legend, but also a man, a certain man 
whose form is sufficiently individual to have lived in 
former times, and sufficiently ideal for him to keep up the 
prestige of a fabulous being seen through the ages that have 

At once dignified, familiar, tranquil and sure of himself, 
CEdipus has entered the cavern in which lie the bones and 
dreadful fragments of those whom the Sphynx has torn to 


pieces. He has advanced towards the monster, set his foot 
on a slab of rock and resting his elbow upon his knee, he 
is explaining the riddle whilst keeping his eyes fixed in a 
penetrating and firm gaze on the daughter of Typhon. 
Instead of being severely straight, his profile is slightly 
curved. His youthful beard interferes with his resem- 
blance to a statue. With an energy that leaves the habits 
of the school far behind, the painter accentuates most 
strongly the fold that forms the muscle of the neck on the 
raised head of the hero, as well as the vigorous calf of the 
young Theban so well accustomed to all kinds of fatigue. 
By these unexpected accents the artist has sufficiently in- 
dividualized his figure till there is nothing conventional, 
nothing vulgarly familiar in it ; and it appears to us as if it 
were that of a man who had really been hung from the tree 
on Mount Cithasron, who really tore out his own eyes, and 
who indeed expired at Colonna, in the grove of the Eumen- 
ides. It is thus that where others would have only dressed 
a work with frigid rhetoric, Ingres has managed to find 
expressive eloquence and touch our hearts. 

And yet in some parts this modelling makes us feel that 
the individual is apart from prose history, and remains 
intangible in regions to which we are forbidden to attain 
otherwise than by the gaze. 

This unforeseen mingling of life and immortality, this 
happy fusion of the mythical and the real, are especially 
striking in the figure of the Sphynx, a figure at the same 
time alive and symbolical. Divine in the purity of its 
features, infernal in the action of its protruding claws, it 


expresses the genius of evil governed by the intelligence, 
beauty conquered by the mind. At the back of the cavern 
into which CEdipus has ventured, the painter has not hesi- 
tated to let us see the feet of a corpse and the skeletons of 
those who have been devoured by the Sphynx : another even 
more powerful means of adding to the interest of the scene, 
and to human emotion, so as to put his finger upon all that 
was tragical in the situation in the son of Laius, so tran- 
quilly face to face with a frightful death. 

If we can form a just idea of Greek painting from the 
frescoes of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and from mosaics, 
nothing more certainly resembles it than the painting of 
Ingres, so far as execution and style are concerned. As for 
the style, it is not strained nearly so far in this picture as in 
certain of the other works of this master: it is elevated but 
natural; heroic but human. Ingres has managed to mix 
together in small doses the familiar element that preserves 
one from inflation of style, that tempers decorum, and that 
he employs perhaps unknown to himself, like those com- 
mon expressions of which Bossuet makes use with such 
genius in order to humanize the sublime. It is even to be 
noticed that where the painter lays most stress on the 
individuality of his hero, for example, in the shape of the 
nose, the muscles of the neck or leg, he does so with a 
spice of exaggeration and a certain passionate accent that 
without doubt belong to the modern spirit, but which are 
particularly characteristic of his personal humour, — the 
temperament of Ingres himself. 

The execution is simple, frank and limpid ; moreover, it 


is carried out with great spirit, and almost looks as if it had 
been painted from a single palette. In it, we feel the en- 
thusiasm of youth restrained by the painter's respect for his 
work. To-day, even when more than half a century has 
passed across the canvas, we can see how advantageous it 
is to employ pure and strong colours which tranquillize 
without fading with time and grow reconciled to one 
another without weakness, rather than to paint with colours 
that are already tempered for the sake of harmony, and are 
therefore already smoked. The tone of the (Edipus now 
is superb, its primitive intensity having calmed down with- 
out however disappearing. Just as distance tones down to 
our ears the rude and jarring sounds of martial music, so 
the years soften to our eyes the violence and harshness of 
colour. Ingres is all of a piece : his colouring is sometimes 
startling in order to render the beauties of form more 
sensible ; and sometimes it is sacrificed to the grandeur and 
triumph of his idea: that is to say that he gives exactly the 
colouring that is demanded by a desired, well thought out 
and expressive design, and one that is made to be deeply 
engraved in the memory and upon brass. The (Edipus and 
the Bather (back view) are of the same year (1808). One 
would not be able to cite many pensioners who have sent in 
two such works at the same time ! 


(^Fra Lippo Lippi) 


IN Room No. i you will see on the west wall a sad- 
coloured picture, robbed by time and over-cleaning 
of all its once-beautiful surface, or may we not say com- 
plexion, of paint, and immediately below it another, long 
and narrow, which still gleams and glows with nearly all its 
pristine fire, as though it were painted over gold with trans- 
lucent enamel. The former is Fra Lippo Lippi's Vision of 
S. Bernard (No. 248), and the latter is The Adoration of the 
Magi ; or the Wise Men's Offerings (No. 592), which is 
ascribed in the catalogue to Filippino Lippi, the son of 
Lippo, but is thought by many good judges to be by 
Botticelli, the pupil of Lippo and the master of Filippino. 
At first sight there is not perhaps much that is common to 
the two pictures, but if we carefully compare them with 
those earlier Italian paintings in the Gallery, the works of 
the Giotteschi, of Fra Angelico, and even of his pupil 
Benozzo Gozzoli, we shall be conscious of the presence 
of a new element of interest of a more familiar and com- 
panionable kind, which may be shortly and broadly described 
as " humanity." It is easy enough to find this element in 
the picture of The Adoration^ for every figure of the motley 
groups that follow " the kings " is an individual whose per- 


sonality is distinctly, sometimes humorously and even 
whimsically, marked ; but there is " character " also in Fra 
Lippo's picture of S. Bernard's vision. His S. Bernard is 
no conventional saint, whose traditional features are a mere 
mask to express a given feeling. He is not only a saint, 
but a man, and his painter was interested in him personally, 
and did his best to realize how such a man and none other 
would look as, lifting his eyes from his desk, he saw the 
Virgin and her attendant angels between himself and the 
wall. He has truly made the face the window of the soul, 
if not for the first time in art, at least for the first time in 
art as represented in the National Gallery. 

If we pass into Room 2 we shall see this human quality 
in Fra Lippo's art still more fully displayed. Here we 
have two of the most characteristic and exquisite works of 
his earlier period, The Annunciation (No. 666) and S. "John 
the Baptist with six other Saints (No. 667). It is naturally 
in the latter that his keen observation of his fellow-men, 
and his sympathy with their individualities, are the more 
fully displayed. All these saints are also men, clearly 
characterized. Their heads are, indeed, more or less 
typical, but they are individual also. They are like por- 
traits " idealized," as we say, in conformity with the tradi- 
tions of the particular saints. The features and gestures 
of some of them, we may assert with confidence (and this 
we could not do with regard to any of Fra Angelico's 
saints), were studied from men who were alive in Florence 
when the picture was painted, probably intimate acquaint- 
ances of the painter, if not monks in that Carmelite con- 


vent which he entered at an early age. They have all 
different modes of expressing their attention to the golden 
words which fall from the mouth of the Baptist. S. Cosmo 
looks up, S. Damian looks down, the eyes of S. Francis are 
fixed on S. John, those of S. Lawrence on the ground, or 
perhaps on the " stigmata " of S. Francis, S. Anthony 
stretches his right hand towards the speaker, S. Peter 
Martyr holds his up to his ear as if in fear to lose a word. 
Without undue familiarity there is a sense of society ; the 
feeling as well as the composition is bound in one by a tie 
of human sympathy. It is a holy " conversation piece," to 
use a term employed in the Eighteenth Century to denote 
a portrait composition in which several persons are grouped 
together in a social manner. 

The Annunciation is conceived in much the same spirit 
of tender and poetic realism. Robbed of his nimbus and 
wings the announcing angel is only a comely, round-headed 
Florentine boy with closely curling hair, who delivers his 
message with simple and charming grace, and she, the 
Virgin who receives it with so sweet and humble a cour- 
tesy, might be his sister. But if the types are not very dis- 
tinguished or the emotion greatly elevated, the whole com- 
position is lovely and harmonious. The gentle bearing of 
the angel is beautifully echoed by the timid reverence of 
the Virgin and the note of delightful wonder which these 
figures strike is sustained at the same pitch throughout by 
the strangeness, the variety, and the beauty of the details. 
From the exquisite wings of the angel to the richly coloured 
marbles which floor the Virgin's little court, everything in 


the picture is rare and lovely, and as we stand before it we 
feel ourselves in an enchanted land, if not in the presence 
of an awful mystery. 

Not the least thing worthy of note in these two priceless 
pictures is their colour. They have fortunately been well 
preserved, and show us that Lippo Lippi was the first of 
the great painter-colourists. No one before had devised 
schemes of colour so personal to himself, a palette so com- 
pletely his own ; no one had so felt the beauty of " broken " 
colour, of the lovely modifications of which a pure colour 
was capable by reduction with white or mixture with other 
colours, or the endless harmonies which could be produced 
by weaving them together. Many of the colours he 
obtained, as for instance his shoaling pinks and dewy blues, 
were new to painting, and for the prevalent tint of the rich 
arrangement of reds in the Virgin's chamber, we may 
almost seek in vain elsewhere in the National Gallery. 
With the aid of his greys and semitones he enforced his 
stronger colours, and at the same time made them live to- 
gether in a harmony which in its combination of softness 
and lustre has seldom been equalled. 

These two pictures once belonged to Cosimo de' Medici 
(1389-1464), and remained in the palace which he built at 
Florence (to which the name of his family has again been 
restored, after passing for more than a century under that 
of its last private owners, the Riccardi) till the year 1846. 
Signs of their former ownership are visible in both pictures. 
S. John Baptist the patron saint of Florence, is seated be- 
tween S. Cosmo and S. Damian, the patron saints of the 


Medici, and on the plinth, which upholds the Virgin's vase 
of lilies, is carved the badge of Cosimo, three feathers tied 
together in a ring. Cosmo aiwl Damian, according to the 
legend, were brothers famous for their skill in medicine, 
which they practiced, without recompense, for charity and 
the love of God. Arabs by birth, they dwelt in the town 
of Algoe in Cilicia, and suffered martyrdom under Diocle- 
tian (245-313) and Maximian (286-308). These two 
** Santi medici Arabi " are always represented together, in 
the habit of physicians, with loose red robes, and generally 
red caps, as in this picture. The robes are usually trimmed 
with fur. They occur most frequently in Florentine pic- 
tures in the time of Cosimo, but we shall find them on the 
frame of the Landini (No. 580), and in the late Greek pic- 
ture by Emmanuel (No. 594), which, though supposed to 
have been executed in the Seventeenth Century, belongs to 
a stage of art anterior not only to Fra Lippo Lippi but to 

These pictures of S. John and the Annunciation, though 
religious (even more, perhaps, because they are religious) in 
subject, show what a change came over the spirit of the 
artist in the Fifteenth Century. Though by no means 
casting aside all tradition, he was no longer bound by it, as 
with swaddling clothes. He no longer looked on the pic- 
tures of bygone artists as the only source of art, but turned 
boldly to nature for his models and his inspiration. He 
marched out from the cloisters into the world, and enjoyed 
for the first time its freshness and its wonder. Life was 
not only new and beautiful to him, but it was full of 


romance wherever he turned. The long-pent intellect and 
imagination of mankind poured forth in a stream which 
turned every object, into gold. Before the clear, strong, but 
unsentimental eyes of a man like Benozzo Gozzoli, the 
world was a panorama of endless variety, a pageant of in- 
exhaustible interest ; to the poetic dreamer like Lippo 
Lippi it was a perpetual source of sweet vision, a boundless 
playground of the fancy. In this age of search and inven- 
tion, of discovery and rediscovery, when every step was on 
virgin soil, or on ground unbroken for centuries, the 
painters were not the least to be envied. For them, unlike 
the painters of to-day, no glorious array of masterpieces 
stood like the giants of old across the road, intimidating 
their enterprise and forestalling their conceptions. Their 
forerunners had only shown the way into an untrodden 
country of inexhaustible beauty and romantic interest. For 
these had been the journey through the desert, led, indeed, 
by pillars of smoke and fire, but not for them the promised 

Fra Lippo Lippi, if we may judge from his works, was 
thoroughly equipped by Nature to enjoy all the good gifts 
of the earth. Richly dowered as an artist with the sense 
of colour and of decorative beauty, he had also the tempera- 
ment of a poet, keenly alive to all that was interesting in 
human life, sensitive to the different moods of different 
men, following and noting the subtlest shades of expres- 
sion which flitted over their faces, especially when they 
were transfigured with a fine emotion. But he was not a 
saint for all that. His sympathies with his fellow-creatures 


extended indeed to their moments of religious enthusiasm, 
and there can be little doubt that he had such moments 
himself, but he was a man of ill-regulated life, and a 
scandal to the Order to which he belonged. The scandal 
was, perhaps, not entirely his fault, for, if he had been left 
to his own free will, it is very unlikely that he would have 
chosen to become a monk. But he had practically no 
choice, for his parents being dead, he was consigned, when 
eight years of age, to the Carmelite Convent of the Car- 
mine at Florence, where he was brought up and educated, 
and at the age of fourteen or fifteen took the vows. This 
was in the year 142 1, when Masaccio began to paint his 
famous frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel of the Church of 
S. Maria del Carmine adjoining the convent. The young 
monk, who soon showed a greater disposition to paint than 
to pray, no doubt watched the wonderful young genius, 
may have received lessons from him, and certainly studied 
his work with enthusiasm. It is very probable that a warm 
friendship may have sprung up between the two youths, 
for, after all, there were but five years between them, 
although Masaccio was already a master — and the greatest 
that had appeared since Giotto. In a few years he went 
away to Rome, and Lippi saw him no more, for he died 
there about 1428, at the age of twenty-six or twenty-seven. 
Three years after this, Lippi was allowed to leave the con- 
vent, having in the meantime probably executed some 
works in the Carmine (now destroyed), which gained him 
great reputation. According to Vasari, many said that 
" the soul of Masaccio had flitted into the body of Filippo." 


Though he left the convent, he was not released from his 
vows, and, still wearing his monastic habit, went about 
pursuing his profession as a painter. Also according to 
Vasari, he met with strange adventures in his wanderings — 
was seized by Barbary pirates at Ancona, and obtained his 
release by painting the portrait of his master. Though 
this story is now discredited, his doings during the years 
following his exit from the convent are not so fully filled 
up as to leave no room for romantic conjecture. The 
first time we hear of him again is in 1434, when he is said 
to have worked at Padua. The next in 1438, when he 
was painting for San Spirito in Florence a picture which is 
now in the Louvre. 

At this time his " wanderings " were probably over, as 
he was in full employment at Florence, though still very 
poor. There is a letter from him extant, dated the follow- 
ing year, in which he applies to Pietro de'Medici for bread 
and wine, " on account " of an unfinished picture, " as he 
is one of the poorest monks in Florence, and has to pro- 
vide for six poor nieces, still minors." Down to this time 
(and later) there is no evidence of those " scandals," which 
have so much affected poor Lippi's character, and the testi- 
mony of his earlier pictures, including those in the National 
Gallery, which are so pure and reverent in spirit, is 
strongly in his favour. At all events, it is only fair to 
him, if we reject the evidence of tradition with regard to 
his romantic adventures, to give him the benefits of any 
doubts as to his moral conduct, which are founded on no 
stronger evidence. Although the times were tolerant in 


this respect, it is not probable, if he had then been a 
very notorious evil liver, that Pope Eugenius IV. would in 
1442 have appointed him Rector of S. Quirico in Legnaia, 
especially as he deprived him of this office in 1450 for 
misconduct. It must, however, be confessed that this mis- 
conduct, if proved, was of a nature not easy to forgive, as 
it consisted of refusing to pay a pupil a sum of forty golden 
florins, which he owed him, and, what is worse, of forging 
a receipt for the money. The proof, however, was his 
own confession extorted by torture, and he appealed against 
the sentence. It is one of the inexplicable facts of his 
history that, though the sentence was confirmed by a brief 
of Pope Calixtus III., in 1455, in which the painter is 
accused of " numerous and abominable wickedness," he re- 
appears in the following year as chaplain of the Convent 
of S. Margherita at Prato. Here he sadly abused his 
privileges, for, having persuaded the superintendent of the 
convent to allow a beautiful nun named Lucrezia Buti to 
give him sittings for a picture of the Virgin, he made use 
of the opportunity to engage her affections, and contrived, 
during a religious ceremony, to carry her off to his lodg- 
ings. It was some years before the scandal was allayed, 
but at last the Pope, partly, no doubt, through the interven- 
tion of the Medici, absolved both nun and friar from their 
vows, and recognized their marriage. 

Whatever errors Fra Lippo may have committed in his 
life, they, at this distance of time, appear trivial in com- 
parison with the virtue of his work. With him, it may be 
truly said, that the evil perishes and the good remains. He 


may have been a scandal to his Order and a trouble to his 
friends, but he has been a benefactor to the world. Even 
the greatest of his enormities, his elopement vi^ith Lucrezia, 
had no worse result for us who live now than the birth of 
Filippino Lippi, the exquisite painter who inherited his 
father's genius, without, so far as we know, his weaknesses 
of character, and dowered the world with works of im- 
perishable beauty. If Lippo was not always just to his 
pupils in pecuniary matters, he at least taught them well, 
for he was one of those comparatively few good painters 
who have also been good masters. 


( Felasquex) 


IN the Torre de la Parada and in the same apartment 
containing the series of large hunting-pieces there 
hung three figures, the King, his brother Don Ferdinand 
(the cardinal) and his little son Balthasar, in hunting cos- 
tume and with dogs. After the fire they passed to the 
Bourbon Palace, Madrid, and are now in the Prado. But 
the palace inventory itself for 1686 — that is, for the same 
period — mentions two hunting-portraits of the king in the 
apartment of the tower facing the park, which was also set 
apart for hunting-pieces. Replicas must consequently 
have existed of both, possibly of all three, and in fact, such 
replicas are still extant. 

Although the three portraits are exactly the same height 
(1.9 1 metre), agree somewhat closely in arrangement, cos- 
tume and scenery, and seem to supplement each other in 
various details, yet they cannot all have been produced 
simultaneously. According to his stated age {anno aetat'is 
sua vi.) the young prince was taken in 1635, and his 
father about the same year, that is long after Ferdinand 
had left Spain (1632). Judging from his very juvenile 
features, Velasquez must have painted him even before the 
first Italian journey. This passionate lover of sport, arch- 


bishop and primate while in his teens, had probably been 
anxious for once to see himself in the garb of a hunter. 
Then during his long absence abroad, this portrait may 
have suggested to the king to have himself painted in like 
costume, as a pendent piece, in memory of the happy days 
they had both spent together in the hunting-grounds of El 

This is the only known portrait of Prince Ferdinand by 
our master; all others, and they are numerous enough, 
were executed during the last years that he spent in Flan- 
ders (1636-41), by such famous Flemish artists as Rubens, 
Van Dyck, and Gaspar Van Crayer. Ferdinand, third son 
of Philip III., was born in 1609, and in his ninth year re- 
ceived the archbishopric of Toledo, and two years later 
(1620) the red hat. He was thus one of the eight who 
were made cardinals before their fourteenth year, and who, 
all but one, flourished in the first half of the Sixteenth 

On the death of Albert (1621) the intention was enter- 
tained of sending one of Philip IV.'s younger brothers, at 
first Carlos, to be brought up in Flanders, and in due 
course succeed the Infanta Isabella as Stadtholder of the 
Low Countries. In 1623 Ferdinand was designated, but 
owing to Olivares' intrigues, the matter was postponed for 
years. At last Isabella, who felt her end approaching (she 
died in 1633), wrote that unless he be sent at once Flan- 
ders would be lost to Spain. He accordingly started for 
Barcelona in 1632, in order to prepare himself by a year's 
gdminstration of Catalonia, and then left Spain forever. 

IlIK ( AltDINAL- riU.Ni'K li;i{I>IN A N n. 


He was the handsomest and the most richly endowed of 
the three brothers, without a trace of that indolence which, 
since the death of Philip II., seemed to have clung to the 
family. His activity in business and in the field was 
amazing i he shared with the king his passion for sport, 
and in 1639 slew a wild boar in the Brussels woods, which 
had killed eight dogs, wounded four, and ripped up two 
horses. Those in his immediate intimacy called him " the 
kindliest and most courteous prince that Heaven has sent 
us for centuries." 

In our portrait, however, not much more than the head 
belongs to the likeness taken in 1628. Here he appears as 
a slim, beardless youth, whose pale face is relieved by 
narrow shadows accentuated especially by the strongly 
curved nose, while the cap projects on the forehead a 
shadow which is lightened by reflected light. The hair, 
which later in life fell in light gold waves on the shoulders, 
is here cropped short, and a touch of languor, caused by 
fever, lies on the large bright eyes, and on the features, 
which are more intellectual than those of his brother. Al- 
though he seems physically more delicate than the king, he 
still betrays more of the stuff of a ruler in his resolute, in- 
telligent expression. 

The rest of the figure bears the stamp of a later period. 
Thus, the golilla^ or horizontal collar, has supplanted the 
wide pointed valona^ which had been covered over. The 
landscape in a cool light blue-grey tone, is treated with 
great breadth and freedom, but the effect is such that we 
fancy we can breathe the very atmosphere of yonder hills. 


The thick application of colours with abundant mixture of 
white was probably employed in order judiciously to con- 
ceal older pigments. 

The question suggests itself whether the two other por- 
traits may not also have assumed their present condition at 
some time posterior to 1635. In that of the king there are 
not lacking traces of repainting and revision. The left leg 
had originally been brought more forward ; the fowling- 
piece was longer; the trunk-hose fuller. Under the left 
hand planted on the hip there peeps out what looks like a 
large hunting-bag. Lastly, the picture of the young prince, 
compared with the equestrian portrait of nearly the same 
age, is considerably more free and solid, like a rapid recast 
executed more from pure fancy than after Nature. 

Both figures and surroundings look as if they had been 
brought more in harmony with the repainted portrait of 
Ferdinand. All stand under an oak tree, the weather is 
fine, and the dogs are in attitudes of rest, awaiting the shot. 
Ferdinand's is a powerful cinnamon-coloured animal of 
that formidable breed which is the terror of tramps and 
loafers about the Andalusian farmsteads. The king has a 
magnificent mastiff, and the prince an Italian greyhound 
and a beautiful setter stretched out for a sleep. Judging 
from these specimens it would be difficult to name a 
painter with a more thorough knowledge and observation 
of sporting dogs. 

All the costumes are also the same, even to slight details 
— hunting-caps showing one ear pressed back or turned 
up; vest of dark figured silk under a leather jerkin or short 


cloak with false sleeves, long leather gloves, white knee- 
breeches, military boots. The prince rests his little gun 
jauntily on the sward ; the king's long heavy piece is held 
under the left arm hanging by his side ; Ferdinand holds 
his in both hands ready to take aim. 

The scene lies amid the hills, perhaps in the neighbour- 
hood of the Escorial, the sierra showing in the distance. 
The view is most open in Don Balthasar's picture, where 
we see in the middle distance a hill with a castle and thin 
undergrowth of oak, beyond it a stretch of level ground 
with a little tower close to the foot of the range. Every- 
where harmony between figure and environment, in the 
distribution of forms and high lights. The glimpses of sun- 
shine flashing in the clouds and piercing through the 
foliage stand in nicely calculated relation to the high lights 
on the faces, and the white spots and bright patches on the 
trusty companions at the feet of the sportsmen. 




AT the beginning of 1508, the Dei having ordered an 
altarpiece from Raphael for their chapel in the church 
of San Spirito, he began the Madonna of the Baldaquin ; 
but, being called suddenly to Rome, he could not finish this 
picture, which has remained in the sketch stage. 

The Virgin, holding her Son in her arms, appears on a 
throne surmounted by a conical baldaquin suspended from 
the vault of a sanctuary in which are visible the composite 
columns, the pilasters and the entablature. To this baldaquin 
are attached curtains enveloping the throne, which is of an- 
tique form, and to which three high marble steps lead up. 
Two seraphim, hovering in the air, raise the curtains and 
reveal the spectacle that they themselves view with happi- 
ness. At the foot of the throne, two angels, entirely nude, 
are holding a banderole, from which they are reading and 
singing the mysteries of God. To the left, stand St. 
Augustine and St. James the Greater ; to the right, St. 
Peter and St. Bruno. What distinguishes this picture from 
those that preceded it, is the independence shown in the 
grouping of the figures. Not that the ancient symmetry 
is abandoned or broken ; it could never be more rigorously 
observed. The Madonna and Infant are still a sort of 



mathematical centre whence start equal and similarly placed 
rays leading to the seraphim, the angels and the saints that 
correspond two and two. Only the Virgin, without losing 
any of her dignity, assumes a more human grace, and with- 
out becoming worldly tries to mingle more with the world. 
The Infant, even more than in the past, proceeds from Na- 
ture ; but there is more discernment and taste in the choice 
of the forms with which he is clothed, and approaching 
closer to reality he thereby borrows the means of more 
deeply charming us without being less convincing. With 
less grandeur, the angels possess an analogous attraction. 
The seraphim, abandoning the traditional poses consecrated 
by Perugino, descend from Heaven with a rush that would 
have terrified the old masters. In the fulness of their ac- 
tion and freedom, instead of being placed one above another 
and hiding each other from the sight of the spectator, as 
we see them still in the Madonna of the Convent of St. 
Anthony, the saints are placed in accordance with the laws 
of a learned perspective and bound together by ties of com- 
position that nothing could ever break. The general as- 
pect is more familiar without being less solemn ; and if the 
religious idea is asserted with somewhat less authority, it 
perhaps reveals itself with more poetry. 

The Virgin is seated facing us, clothed with a robe 
which is open in the front and low on the neck, recalling 
the robe of the Belle jardiniere. A mantle, thrown over 
the left shoulder, leaves the robe uncovered over the breast, 
then falls over the right knee, envelops the right leg, 
leaves the end of the foot bare and spreads in heavy folds 


over the base of the throne. Mary passes her left arm 
around the body of her Son and presses him against her 
breast, holding the arm of the Infant with her right hand. 
Her blond tresses are in charming taste. Parted in the 
middle and held by a band crowned by a plait in the form 
of a diadem, her hair is cut short on the temples and 
spreads in light waves that flow gracefully along her cheeks 
and neck. These arrangements are almost coquettish, and, 
without being anything but chaste, they mark a transition 
between the archaism of the fervent schools and the return 
to classic methods. At the beginning of the year 1508, 
Raphael felt an abundant sap rising in him, and he tried to 
find his way without yet succeeding. The primitive tra- 
ditions did not suffice for him ; he was not willing to de- 
prive himself of Nature ; and he called upon his imagina- 
tion for new combinations. He has a presentiment of 
vaster horizons ; he is impatient to see them ; and, while 
waiting until he may contemplate them, he dreams about 
them. If I may say so, this is the romantic period of his 
life. But even then, Raphael never departs from the truth, 
or from right, and while yielding to the caprice of a mo- 
ment, he does not cease to borrow his inspiration from the 
Christian dogma. It is thus that here we see the Virgin's 
face preserving that calm, that freshness and that bloom 
that no external or terrestrial cause could aflfect. The features 
are pure and the expression is perfectly kind ; the brows 
and nose are exquisitely proportioned; the eyes humbly 
lowered upon the Redeemer, shine with unmixed happi- 
ness ; the lips, that are loving without having anything 


sensual in them, express the same happiness mingled with 
an infinite gentleness. This last Florentine Virgin has not 
the imposing grandeur that the Roman Virgins are soon to 
assume : she is more human, less plastic, more personal 
and yet there is nothing too individual in her. She is 
happy, but without earthly emotion, or worldly exaltation. 
No sadness, no trouble, no presentiment of any kind has 
left the slightest trace upon her. The Mater speciosa^ 
whose youth has not withered in the least, has conquered 
perfect tranquillity, and found for all Eternity the Divine 
Son with whom she has sacrificed herself for the salvation 
of the world. That is the religious idea contained in this 

The Infant Jesus also shows Himself under externals 
of natural and living verity ; nevertheless He rises to the 
ideal, and if He does not impose Himself as God, He 
makes Himself so loved as a child that by that love alone 
He still leads to God. Sitting on the left knee of His 
Mother, He abandons Himself to the charm of life. He 
looks pleasantly at the saints, smiles on them, and gives 
Himself familiarly to them. His hair is blond and thin ; 
eyes brilliant ; and mouth amiable in expression. With- 
out doubt the face is too lively, too full of spirit ; more 
calm would have been preferable. It is the fact seized 
direct from Nature and rendered by a superior artist who 
has not yet taken the time to gather and fix his ideas. Let 
us not forget that here we have only a sketch ; that 
Raphael would certainly have added something to this In- 
fant ; and that nowhere in this picture has he put the 


finishing touch. The body of this Bambino is none the 
less admirably drawn. On examining this picture we are 
especially reminded of the Infant of the Niccol'tni Madonna, 
We recognize the same principles, the same way of look- 
ing at things, the same alliances, the same mingling of 
picturesque beauty with religious ideas. We also find, as 
in almost all Raphael's Madonnas^ the same characteristic 
resemblance between the mother and child. As yet it is 
only a sketch ; but beneath the individual vivacity of the 
natural sentiments, we already perceive an entirely im- 
personal impression. This Bambino is not yet the Son of 
God ; he would have become so without doubt if Raphael, 
now being sure of the form, had had time to free his idea 
from the trammels of the living model. 

The two seraphim who are raising the curtain of the 
baldaquin are two similar figures opposed to one another, 
completing without repeating each other, without monot- 
ony creating the idea of a higher order and harmony. 
They swoop down at full speed and unite in drawing aside 
with a gesture full of grace and authority the curtains that 
conceal the heavenly vision from profane view. The one 
on the left appears in profile, and is looking at the Virgin : 
with his left hand raised above his head, he raises the upper 
part of the curtain, while with his right hand he holds up 
one of its lower folds. The one on the right is placed in 
the same way, only his head is turned to the right, almost 
full face, and he fixes his eyes upon St. James and St. 
Augustine. In these celestial messengers, we see the re- 
flection of that love that first descended and spread its 


wings before the Virgin, singing : " Ave Maria gratia 
plena." Their hair, ruffled by a rapid flight, stands up 
like flames on their inspired brows ; their features are pure, 
stamped with eternal youth, and seem to be impregnated 
with divinity ; their bare feet elegantly protrude below long 
and floating tunics ; great wings of a thousand hues crown 
and frame these admirable creatures that are sexless and 
have ever been unsullied. What a beautiful flow of drap- 
ery ! With what art Raphael makes us feel with one 
stroke that these aerial beings have no weight, and that, 
while they possess bodies similar to our own, they are noth- 
ing but pure spirits, independent of all laws of matter and 
gravity ! We are already far from the analogous figures, 
evoked every moment in the school of Perousa and hitherto 
still reproduced by Raphael himself! Instead of the timid 
and almost undecided pose that they affected five years be- 
fore in the Coronation of the Virgin^ see with what enthu- 
siasm and irresistible ease here they accomplish their voca- 
tion, and how, in this supernatural function. Nature, closely 
held and faithfully observed, always remains the supreme 
guide ! The more Raphael wants to rise above reality, the 
more necessary he feels it is to lean upon it and to gain 
from that support the indispensable force for proceeding 

The two angels who, standing at the foot of the Ma- 
donna's throne, occupy the centre of the foreground, also 
belong to the ideal, and are still more directly related to 
natural and living facts. They are only two beautiful 
nude children, furnished with two little wings. One faces 


US full, and is modelled in high light; the other, three- 
quarters right, leaning on his companion's shoulder, offers 
sharper modulations, and more accented and violent opposi- 
tions of light and shade. In the state in which the sketch 
presents them, I much prefer the first. His position has 
the greater ease and nobility, and his features are more ex- 
pressive from the religious point of view. The little head 
also is charming, and his features are entirely devoted 
to praise and adoration. Raphael alone knew how to 
paint children thus, and to evoke the enchanted dreams of 
the celestial world from the simple truth. 

Among the saints gathered together at the foot of the 
Virgin's throne, St. Peter and St. James the Greater were 
the contemporaries and friends of Jesus. St. Augustine 
belongs to the Fourth Century, and consecrates to the 
Mother of the Word all that is highest in the science of 
theology. Finally, St. Bruno, the founder of the Carthu- 
sians, also offers to the Virgin the noble aspirations that 
appealed to the world after the foolish terrors of the year 
1000. Animated with the same spirit, they mutually pay 
honour to the Virgin in the sight of Jesus Christ. The 
God that is offered to their eyes sheds upon them rays of 
different degrees and characters. 

St. Augustine, who comes first on the left, holds a book 
in his right hand, and with his left hand he points out the 
Virgin and Child to the spectator, whom he looks at with 

This figure is eminently picturesque and the way in 
which the head is dressed is inimitable. The bishop's 


body, although clothed in Episcopal robes, is draped with 
remarkable independence. The dominating character of 
St. Augustine's figure is placed in perfect light in Raphael's 
picture. The features of the saintly bishop are lively and 
full of that reflective intelligence that gains and makes fol- 
lowers of men. His heart, all on fire, seeks to touch even 
as it has been touched. In him, pride has been trans- 
formed into humility, and it is even humility that he 
preaches and that he points out in the Virgin. 

St. James the Greater is beside St. Augustine. This 
apostle who has been so keenly adopted by popular imagi- 
nation is here represented very simply. His head is bare, 
and seen three-quarters right ; his features are strong and 
even a little rugged, but not without gentleness, sharpened 
by fatigue, still crowned with black hair, and framed in a 
beard already white. Clothed in a long tunic that leaves 
only his feet bare, and in a mantle that leaves almost the 
entire tunic visible, he holds a long walking-stafF in his 
hands. We think of his fabulous perigrinations, and re- 
member that Spain, proud of dating from the earliest 
Christian antiquity, has adopted as her apostle the son of 
Zebedee, the brother of St. John the Evangelist, that 
James whom Jesus associated with himself in the splen- 
dours of Tabor and the agony in the Garden of Olives. 

On the opposite side, St. Peter occupies the foreground. 
Like St. James, he is clothed in a long tunic and a mantle 
that falls from his right shoulder and envelops only the 
lower part of his figure. In his right hand, held against 
his breast, he clasps the keys of Paradise ; and in his left, 


hanging alongside his body, he holds a closed book. He is 
conversing with St. Bruno, and his head turned towards 
him shows only a lost profile. Abundant white hair covers 
his cranium, and a beard, also white, hides the lower part 
of his face. His eye is bright and ardent ; his lips speak 
with animation. 

Finally St. Bruno appears by the side of St. Peter. Com- 
pletely enveloped in his white Carthusian robe, he holds an 
open book in his right hand, and lifts his left towards the 
apostle with whom he confounds his love for Jesus and his 
admiration for Mary. His body, turned towards the 
Virgin, is three-quarters full to the left and his head is 
three-quarters to the right. His features, framed in the 
white hood of his robe, are open to the divine and radiant 
intelligence of the light. We may apply to him St. Paul's 
words : " The world hath been crucified unto me and I 
unto the world ; " but while sacrificing his body, the aus- 
terities have beautified his face with that resplendence that 
is beauty itself. In the conversation that he is holding 
with St. Peter, he seems to be transported with a celestial 
ardour. He speaks like a man who has come from Heaven 
and is jealous for the honour of Jesus. 

As the Madonna of the Baldaquin was not completed, it 
did not reach its destination. After Raphael's death, 
Baldassare Turini bought this picture and gave it to the 
church of Pescia where it remained till 1697. Then 
Prince Ferdinand, the eldest son of the Grand Duke 
Cosmo HI., acquired it from the Bonvicini family, who, on 
becoming proprietors of the chapel, had at the same time 


taken possession of the picture. Now the Pescians were 
greatly attached to this treasure. Getting wind of the 
affair, they raised a riot and became threatening. It was 
necessary to employ ruse, to carry off the picture by might, 
and to flee as if with the proceeds of a robbery. The 
dispossessed Pescians could then do nothing but protest, 
and that they did in terms whose very violence does them 
honour. The Madonna of the Baldaquin then entered the 
Pitti Palace. To adapt it to the place intended for it, it 
was enlarged by some centimetres on either side, and it was 
moreover restored by the painter Giovanni Agostino Cas- 
sana. Thence arises the error, widely credited, that Cas- 
sana finished this picture, left by Raphael in a state of 



AMONG the great masters of Italy, and even those of 
Venice, Paul Veronese is the one whose work best 
serves to particularize the art of painting, not solely in the 
various methods of expressing the human figure, but in the 
special domain of the Beaux-Arts. His triumph is the real 
triumph of the painter. 

When we study his paintings, it is necessary to bear in 
mind the frequently quoted letter that he wrote to Gen- 
naro Lauretti regarding the Marriage in Cana : ''In ex- 
ecuting this great picture, I have endeavoured far less to 
render a Biblical scene than a great Venetian feast. It 
seemed to me that to paint the costumes of my own time 
would be performing not only an artistic, but above all an 
historical work. And, in order that it might be easier for 
me to make it accurate and true, I have represented my 
best friends, those whose features and manners were the 
most familiar to me." 

These lines furnish us with the key for a thorough com- 
prehension of his work; he did nothing but this all his life 
long, in connection with his antique, religious and alle- 
gorical subjects ; he simply made History, observing it 
from a height, and depicting day by day, without fatigue. 




without faltering, and with a full command of himself, the 
life of the incomparable Venice of the Seventeenth Century, 
in subjects that were antique, religious, or allegorical. In 
reality, he has painted the visible Venetian Beautiful that 
he saw, just as the Greeks sculptured the Hellenic Beauti- 
ful, for the eternal feast of the eyes. 

All the great writers of the first order have mingled in 
their poetical or philosophical fictions the impressions, men, 
characters, ways, customs, and the intellectual atmosphere 
of their own time with the things of the Past. Is it neces- 
sary to recall the example of Dante ? That is the secret 
of the strong power of superior minds over their contem- 
poraries, the secret of the intensity of life that makes their 
works immortal. Veronese has employed this melange of 
periods even more widely than the men of letters, with the 
deliberate purpose which is characteristic of his genius, his 
art lending itself more favourably to this. He knew in- 
tuitively that painting with its own powers, exalted to a 
superlative degree, was sufficient for itself and that, to a 
certain extent, the rest was a matter of superaddition. 

Would the other great Italian schools of Umbria, Rome, 
Florence, Milan and even Venice and those masters who 
were his precursors, and several of his contemporaries, who 
had made so many discoveries in the expression and the 
moral presentment of man by means of painting, have un- 
reservedly accepted the thesis of Gennaro Lauretti's corre- 
spondent ? We doubt it. This implies so bold and so 
novel a view of the distinction, of the respective domains 
of reason, faith, history, and the arts of design. The 


admiration of the world and modern analytical criticism 
have pronounced Paul Veronese right. 

There are two kind of geniuses : those with whom pro- 
duction is a painful labour, an effort, a fever, and a natural 
or provoked excitement j and those, on the other hand 
with whom it is nothing but a simple and joyful exercise 
of their natural strength, the flowing of a prodigious spring 
which in their maturity gains the force of a fever. Paul 
Veronese is the type of the latter. Engaged in his profes- 
sion from his birth, as was common during the Renaissance, 
you cannot find one trace of serious hesitation in his man- 
ner regarding the path he should follow ; and he never lost 
a single moment of his life. 

What are the intrinsic and technical merits of this Vene- 
tian master that justify his success and renown ? They 
have been noted in every period by the historians of paint- 
ing : all we have to do is to recapitulate them. The first, 
which contains the germ of everything, is the perfection of 
the ensemble. Paul Veronese is of all the colourists, with- 
out a single exception, the one who has most unity. No 
one ever rendered before him or after him the synthetic 
impression of the human eye before scenes of nature with 
such certainty. Also, among the great men of the palette, 
there is not one from whom it is so hard to extract bits. 
To select a detail from one of his canvasses is like 
mutilating or amputating the member of an organic 

If he has the most unity, he is also the simplest, the 
most truthful, the most accessible, and above all the most 


ethereal of the colourists. He is the painter of the air, 
both out-of-doors and in-doors. His values are impeccable 
and his shadows are at once transparent and full of colour, 
without any artifice, such as Rubens's exaggerated reflec- 
tions, or the excessive sacrifices which in Rembrandt are 
almost equivalent to a monotone in those parts that are 
lacking in light. His lights are broad and steady although 
modelled without any gleams, but of so shining a quality 
that they are positively radiant. Happy artist ! He 
had the eye of the most perfect colourist that Nature 
predestined to perceive at the same time the different qual- 
ities of light and colour, and their variations in intensity 
and values, and to reveal them with a marvellous art to or- 
dinary mortals. We may boldly affirm that optics applied 
to his pictures show us no law that he did not know and 
practise. Veronese is great above all in this. Around this 
substantial and central kernel, his perfect visions in colour 
can be determined ; his spheres or qualities of imagination, 
rhythm, taste, elegance, nobility and magnificence in deco- 
ration, are nothing but complimentary forces attracted into 
his orbit by one superior principal and characteristic 

His hand, moreover, is the equal of his eye ; the rapidity 
of his brush may be compared only to that of Velasquez 
and Rubens. 

In characterizing Voltaire's style, Sainte-Beuve wrote : 
" He draws at pleasure from the stream of thought without 
the aid of images ; Veronese drew at pleasure from the 
stream of painting without the aid of the convenances of the 


subject. A kind of artistic and communicative peace, 
superior to all accidents and contingencies of History, reigns 
throughout his work." 

It is especially in those great portraits of numerous per- 
sonages that he exhibits all his genius ; there are to be 
found the most striking exhibitions of his animated fancy, 
his technical skill, and his inspiration. 

The Saint Helena in the National Gallery of London 
cannot therefore enter into comparison with the vast and 
splendid compositions of the master; but it bears the 
stamp of his genius, his distinctive and chief mark, his 

Veronese could easily have gathered all the historical 
and emblematical information from the lives of the saints 
that were widely distributed in Italy ; but we have noted 
that this mattered little to him. Saint Helena having been 
born in the British Isles, at York or Colchester, of a King 
or Breton Chief, named Ccelius (Koel), we might believe 
that this picture was ordered from the artist by some Eng- 
lish lord to glorify himself by means of a distant relation- 
ship with the mother of Constantine, but its history is less 
legendary. It adorned the altar of Saint Helena in a 
church in Venice ; after having passed through various 
celebrated collections, it was acquired from Lord Percy 
Ashburnham, for the National Gallery in 1878. 

Veronese's Saint Helena is a young Venetian lady whose 
type is well known to us, leaning on her elbow asleep at 
her window, and in an attitude that is far more familiar 
than mystical. How will this gentle and modest creature 


transform herself into the woman, the mother of the Roman 
Emperor, the wife of Constantine Clovis, the mother of 
Constantine ? How will she become that saint predes- 
tined to accomplish a great design of Providence and 
towards the end of her life to discover in Jerusalem among 
the rubbish of Golgotha the True Cross upon which 
Jesus Christ died ? Two cherubs appear in the sky bear- 
ing the sacred wood ; the sleep of the young woman is a 
prophetic sleep which determines the life, the role, the re- 
ligious and historical importance, the human and divine 
glory of Saint Helena. 

Let us return to the picture : the head of the saint is 
resting gracefully upon her right hand ; her profile is deli- 
cious ; and from her parted lips escapes the soft breath of 
slumber. Her expression is of the greatest purity. All the 
charm of the woman is revealed in the curve of her neck, 
her ear and in her rich hair, a tress of which is falling upon 
her shoulder. The harmony of the lines and the harmony 
of the colours are one ; the careless attitude delights us ; 
and the work, wrought according to the relative importance 
of each of its parts, for the pleasure of the eye is complete. 
But, is there nothing here but what gives pleasure to the 
eyes ? Around this window, opening upon the heavens, 
a soul is fluttering ; life, human life, tethered to the earth 
and yet winged, clearly manifests itself. An impression of 
silence, of peace and ideality, rests upon the mind, without 
revealing that the artist sought for anything more than the 
satisfaction of his art. As we indicated in the beginning, 
these kinds of effect are the excesses of painting ; a fatal 


excess, for in reproducing objects, the artist does nothing 
more than make use of the faculty they possess in awaken- 
ing moral ideas in ourselves. He reveals to the generality 
of mankind the symbolic reality of forms and figures. 




JOSEPH DE RIBERA called « Spagnoletto " (the little 
Spaniard), was born at Xativa (now San Felipe in 
Valencia) in 1588. His father took him at an early age to 
Gallipoli in the kingdom of Naples, where he was employed as 
a soldier in the service of the King of Naples. After having 
learned the first principles of his art under Ribalta, young 
Ribera was placed in Caravaggio's studio in Naples. The 
lessons that he received from this master must have been 
of short duration ; ^ but he resembled him so greatly in his 
moral qualities that he soon acquired his manner. He 
then attempted to imitate the works of Raphael in Rome 
and those of Correggio in Parma and Modena. This 
elevated style suited him little ; the prevailing taste of the 
day, moreover, presented an obstacle in that line that was 
difficult for him to overcome. As long as he devoted 
himself to the study of these immortal geniuses, he lived in 
profound misery. His friends advised him to return to 
Naples and to apply himself afresh to Caravaggio's style. 
This apostasy totally changed his fate. His works were 
sought with avidity, and his Spanish quality made him so 

' Ribera should be placed close to Caravaggio in 1606, at the period 
when that celebrated painter, forced to leave Rome, sought a refuge in 
Naples. Caravaggio left for Malta a short while afterwards. 


valued by the viceroy that in a short time he enjoyed great 

' As soon as Ribera experienced this change of fortune, his proud 
character, restrained so long, knew no bounds. The desire to support 
immoderate display resulted in corrupting him. History accuses this 
ambitious man of having plotted with Belizario Corenzio. Greek of 
origin were these conspiracies that shortened the days of the virtuous 
Domenichino. Ribera found a well merited punishment in the conse- 
quences of his pride. He was sufficiently vain to invite the famous Don 
Juan of Austria, son of Philip IV., to a ball. This prince fell in love with 
one of his daughters, seduced her and ran away with her. Ribera, dis- 
honoured by an affront, upon which it was impossible to revenge him- 
self, gave himself up to despair : one day he deceived his family by pre- 
tending that he was going to his country house, and disappeared forever, 
exiling himself voluntarily, or, what is more probable, he threw himself 
into the sea. 

This last fact occasions a very important remark. This picture that we 
are describing bears the following inscription : Jusepe Ribera, Espagnol^ 
Academico romano, f. 1650. Dominici, in relating the circumstances of 
Ribera's death, will have it that Don Juan ran away with his daughter in 
1648, and places his death in the spring of the year 1649. If Ribera 
died in 1649, it follows that the picture in the Louvre is not from his 
hand, or, at least, that the signature is a counterfeit. But Dominici 
seems to have been mistaken about his dates. Don Juan went to Naples 
twice. He went there first when the city was surrendering to the 
Spanish army, April 6, 1648. He embarked to Messina, to quiet the 
troubles in Sicily, September 22, of the same year. In the month of May, 
1650, he came with a portion of his flotilla to gain the Spanish 
viceroy, who was about to descend into Tuscany, and he returned to 
Sicily in the following September. There is reason to believe that he re- 
mained in Naples for some time upon this last occasion, and it was then 
that he ran away with Ribera's daughter. In admitting that the latter 
died in the spring following this event, his death must be placed in the 
month of May, 165 1. Another fact comes to support the latter supposi- 
tion : the existence of a picture by Ribera representing The Last Supper 
placed in the choir of the church of the Carthusians in Naples, dedicated 
to Saint Martin. This picture bears the inscription : Joseph de Ribera, 
Hispanus, Valentinus, Academictis romanus, f. 1 65 1. The touch of the 
picture in the Louvre, moreover, is sufficient to prove that it is from 
Ribera's hand. 



Generally speaking, his pictures offer a faithful and lively 
imitation of nature. His drawing is usually correct ; his 
colour is almost always masculine and true ; his touch broad, 
mellow and bold. He loves to treat tragic and sombre 
stories ; this natural disposition should have led him to the 
beauty of a superior order ; but one notices but little inven- 
tion and little variety in his works. He excels only when 
he represents persons of mean birth : shepherds, butchers, 
soldiers and ahchorites emaciated by years. Amenity and 
grace are strangers to him. When he wishes to paint 
women, his drawing becomes impoverished; his colour 
cold : one would say that he has ceased to consult nature. 

If this observation is correct, the subject of The Adora- 
tion of the Shepherds should reveal striking beauties and 
faults equally remarkable beneath the brush of " the little 
Spaniard." Such, in reality, are presented to us in the 
capital picture that we are examining. Nothing could be 
more vigorous and true than the faces of the shepherds, 
which, full of respect and emotion, bend over Jesus to adore 
Him ; the drawing, the colouring, the touch, and the heads 
and costumes have a vigour that one can never admire suffi- 
ciently : the head of Mary and that of Jesus, on the other 
hand, lack dignity, grace and even relief. The most 
brilliant light, which ought to illuminate the principal per- 
sonage, strikes the shepherd who is furthest in the fore- 
ground. One is, however, forced to pardon these faults, 
when one considers the character of this shepherd, the relig- 
ious expression suffusing his face, and the warm colours 
of his draperies. Neither Caravaggio, nor any one of our 


most skilful colourists have ever painted a more masculine 
and astonishing figure. * 

' Ribera painted the Adoration of the Shepherds many times. A replica 
of our picture exists in the Escurial. We are assured that there is 
another in Cordova in the sacristy of the Augustine convent. M. Le 
Brun thinks that the picture in the Escurial is a copy <^Rec. de grav. au 
trait, II., 18). The one in the Louvre belonged to the duke delta Regina 
for a long time. It was ceded to France by the King of Naples, in ex- 
change for some other pictures belonging to the French which the Neapoli- 
tans had carried away from Rome. 


{Giovanni Bellini') 


GIOVANNI BELLINI, so celebrated by his Madon- 
nas and saintly pictures, was in his own day the 
master of portraiture also. 

During his long life, he saw six successive Doges, and 
four of these, — Giovanni Moncenigo, Marco Barberigo, 
Agostino Barberigo and Lionardo Lorendano — sat to him 
for their portraits. If we consider that his elder brother, 
Gentile, a very great painter, who perhaps was not gifted 
with all the unction and sympathetic grace of Giovanni, 
but who was his equal in strength, and surpassed him in 
the flexibility of his talent and breadth of conception, also 
painted Lorenzo Giustianiani, the Comaros, and other 
princes of the Serenissime, we shall look upon the two 
Bellinis as the official painters of the Doges of Venice dur- 
ing almost the whole of the Fifteenth Century. 

When the Doge Loredano posed before him, Giovanni 
had already reached his eightieth year. People admire the 
longevity of his talent in Titian ; in Bellini, this was still 
greater if we compare the nature of their respective work. 
The latter, grave and severe, restrained in form and yet 
drawn with precision ; the former ever noble and genial. 


but free in expression as it is broad in touch, living by its 
genius rather than its sharpness and penetration. 

We have just spoken of the longevity of Bellini's talent : 
but we know by the letters that he wrote to Isabella d* 
Este, Marchioness of Mantua, who had requested of him a 
picture to decorate her studiolo^ where she had taken pleas- 
ure in gathering together works by Mantegna, Perugino, 
Lorenzo Costa and Lionardo da Vinci, and had even tried 
to obtain the collaboration of the youthful Raphael, that 
Giovanni excused himself for a long time for his tardiness 
in sending to her his work by alleging the necessity of 
finishing for the Doge the portrait that he had ordered. 
This occurred between 1502 and 1506. About the same 
time, Albert Diirer came to visit him at Rome and had 
the opportunity of seeing the famous altar picture of San 
Zaccharia; he retained such a strong remembrance of it 
that all writers on art agree in recognizing that he pre- 
served traces of the influence exercised upon him by the 
aged master. In 15 13, at the age of eighty-three, he ex- 
ecuted the great picture of the high altar of St. Chrysostom, 
and, at the age of eighty-eight, in the Bacchanal^ painted 
for the house of Este, and the Camerini d^Alabastro of 
Alphonso d'Este and Lucrezia Borgia, he gave his most 
joyous note and his freest work, as though, by a veritable 
miracle, at the moment when the sap of life was about to 
dry up within him, his genius renewed itself and produced 
its loveliest blossoms. 

The first canvasses by Bellini, who as well as his brother 
was brought up in the school of his father Jacopo Bellini, 



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in his studio at Padua, are painted in tempera. Following 
the example of Andrea Mantegna, who was to become his 
brother-in-law, he employed that process, so dear to the 
early masters ; but the art of painting in oil, introduced 
into Germany by Van Eyck, and carried thence to Venice 
by Antonio of Messina, was already tempting the young 
school. Giovanni passionately abandoned himself to it ; 
Giorgione and Titian, his pupils, were to draw their richest 
effects from the new process, and the distemper, so tender 
and clear, was abandoned. To the very end of his career, 
however, Mantegna still used it, and it dominates in his 
work. A correspondence between the master and Lorenzo 
de Pavia, who also corresponded with the Marchioness of 
Mantua at Venice, proves to us that, in order to heighten 
the somewhat faint brilliance of that colour of simple 
medium and soft effects, Andrea employed a wonderful 
varnish, the effect of which is such that after four centuries 
have passed, it is still hard for us to believe, when we gaze 
upon the Parnassus of the Italian Gallery in the Louvre, so 
full of relief and so dazzling, that that admirable canvas 
was executed with this medium. 

The personality of his model was sufficiently elevated 
for an artist of Giovanni's talent to apply himself to the 
task of bequeathing Loredano's likeness to posterity. No 
Doge ever assumed a heavier responsibility, nor accom- 
plished a more fruitful task. The twenty years during 
which he wielded power, from 1501 to 1521, without his 
resolution and ability might have become the most fatal to 
the republic. It was the moment of great invasions. 


Charles VIII. had indeed recrossed the Alps after the rude 
shock at Fornoul, where the Venetian troops, joined with 
the Imperial forces and those of Milan and Florence, under 
the leadership of Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, uselessly 
disputed his passage; but the French returned led by Louis 
XII., and Francis I. in his turn wanted to complete their 
work and conquer the Milanais. Venice, ever menaced, 
because she had joined the league even more than because 
her power seemed that it ought rather to be employed on 
the sea, had to bear the burden of the defence, and in the 
midst of incessant vicissitudes, he knew how to maintain 
himself on the level of his task. 

The likeness that Bellini has left us of this great Doge 
worthily reflects the serenity of his soul and the strength 
of his will. His aspect is dignified, his physiognomy is 
grave, and his mouth is firmly closed as if the lips were 
contracted, indicating decision. From the point of view 
of the matter of the painting. Time, that becomes the 
collaborator of men of genius, gives to their works that 
admirable tone that, so to speak, embalms and conse- 
crates them, has preserved intact the very flower of this 
painting, and we may also say its soul. This prodigious 
portrait is certainly the most beautiful of all the images that 
remain to us. 




JOSHUA REYNOLDS, in his anxiety to create for 
himself a language and to conquer a method of execu- 
tion that the masters of the Eighteenth Century could not 
teach him, had given a great deal of study to Rembrandt. 
Thence comes that firmness of stroke that we are so will- 
ing to admire and that solid layer of pigment that seem to be 
so easy that we may regard him as one of the most brilliant 
virtuosi of the English school. But although he multiplied 
the resolutely written and strongly characterized works, 
sometimes he did not disdain to seek sweetness and melting 
tenderness, like one who is fond of modelling, and as that 
species of impression had been rendered by Correggio. The 
painters who have been inspired by this manner have been 
the exception ; and almost all of these have taken as their 
starting point the department to which he devoted himself 
with so much ardour and success — portrait-painting. 

Towards the close of his life, about 1787, when he had 
passed his sixtieth year, and felt a lessening of the generous 
enthusiasms of the ripe age, he received from Lord William 
Gordon the request to paint the portrait of his charming 
daughter, Frances Isabella, who, in her childish freshness, 
had an adorable face. Reynolds began his studies, and. 


finding a vaguely angelic character in his youthful model, 
whilst still remaining faithful to the English type, he re- 
solved to represent the amiable child as an angel. All that 
was necessary was to add wings and to preserve what 
Nature had given, — the charm and spontaneity of a flower. 

From the fresh face of Isabella Gordon, he successively 
made five studies, one representing the little girl full face, 
and the others showing her in profile and three-quarters 
full. Having thus obtained five similar heads, for they 
reproduced the same type, though slightly differing in ac- 
cordance with the altered position of the model and the 
direction of the light, he added a portion of wing here and 
there, and introduced appropriate light and vaporous clouds 
here and there, and gathered these heads into a bouquet, 
like an angelical group worthy of figuring in an Assumptioriy 
and to mount into the skies in the train of the triumphant 
Virgin. The combination of the five studies forming a 
picture, he sent it in 1787 to the exhibition of the Royal 
Academy, of which at that time he was president. The 
family, enchanted on recognizing the little Isabella under a 
disguise that made a celestial being of her, and rendered 
happy by that unexpected promotion, piously preserved this 
painting by the master, and, in 1841, Lady William Gordon 
had the generous thought of presenting it to the National 
Gallery in London, which now possesses it, and exhibits it 
under glass as an exceptional work by Sir Joshua Rey- 

In fact, this picture gives quite an exceptional view of 
the incomparable suppleness of the artist whom people are 

angels' heads. 


accustomed to praise for his strong and sure hand and his 
robust and proud laying on of paint. In this picture, it 
would be difficult to recognize the painter of the vigorous 
picture in the *' Hermitage " at St. Petersburg, Hercules in 
his Cradle Strangling the Serpents in which we admire such 
generous virtuosity and pigment. This composition, that 
is almost a phantasmagoria by reason of its strong and 
almost exaggerated lights, was exhibited in 1788, and 
might be regarded as the type of Reynolds's manner in the 
last period of his life. In the Angels' Heads^ the artist has 
transformed himself: it is an entirely different language. 
The youthful Isabella, with her divine smile and her 
celestial purity, has converted the aged painter and inspired 
him with a veritable passion for sweetness. Reynolds 
painted children very well, and the world is right in admir- 
ing the little princess Sophia Matilda rolling upon the grass 
with a gryphon. The Robinetta of the National Gallery is 
also praised as a charming image of infantile life. But in 
the Angels^ Heads^ Reynolds no longer thinks of imitating 
the Old Masters ; he is entirely under the influence of the 
artists of his own time, and the good workers of the reign 
of Louis XVI., who, like Fragonard in his lively sketches, 
sought lightness of touch above everything else. There is 
no insistence on arriving at characterization of a type, that 
however remains essentially English, no heavy pigment nor 
useless layers, but everywhere a flowery freshness and 
spontaneous suavity in this picture that seems to be com- 
posed only of the delicate petals of a flower. It is not at 
all necessary, in fact it is almost always annoying for the 


laboured execution of a painting to give us an idea to dif- 
ficulty, and to make us intimately acquainted with the 
agony a painter may have experienced in his work. The 
Angels' Heads with their light touch are the very opposite 
of a laboured work. Reynolds, that magician of the 
brush, has forgotten the martyrdom of painting. In this 
canvas, he seems to teach his pupils that supreme happi- 
ness consists in the free expression of form, and in easily 
translating expression and colour. In this extraordinary 
picture, so profoundly English, Reynolds shows the tran- 
quil joy and victorious serenity of a Rubens. 

And since people have a sad tendency to forget dates, 
those golden nails that History uses to fix her materials, let 
us remember that the great artist whose vital intelligence 
we know by his pictures as well as by his writings, and 
notably by the fine lectures he gave at the Royal Academy, 
was born July i6th, 1723, at Plympton in Devonshire, 
that he studied for two years under Hudson, whose por- 
traits were highly esteemed, and that he died in London, 
Feb. 23d, 1793. 

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