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Full text of "Renaissance masters; the art of Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Correggio, Botticelli and Rubens"

THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 



GIFT OF 

Gladys Wickson 

Ida Wickson Thomas 

Ednah Wickson Kelly 



A 



RENAISSANCE MASTERS 



THE ART OF RAPHAEL, MICHELANGELO 

LEONARDO DA VINCI, TITIAN 

CORREGGIO, BOTTICELLI AND 

RUBENS 



BY 
GEORGE B. ROSE 



THIRD EDITION 

To WHICH is ADDED A STUDY OF THE ART OP 
CLAUDE LORRAINE 



G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS 

NEW YORK & LONDON 

Gbe Knickerbocker {press 

1908 



COPYRIGHT, 1898 

BY 

G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS 
Entered at Stationers' Hall, London 

COPYRIGHT, 1908 

BY 

G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS 
(For new material) 



Ubc Knickerbocker f>ree0, View fiorb 



GIFT 



A/6370 

Tfr 

/fef 






DEDICATED 

TO 
MY WIFE 

WHOSE INTELLIGENT SYMPATHY WITH MY STUDY 
OF RENAISSANCE ART HAS BEEN A 
GREAT ENCOURAGEMENT 



921 



PREFACE 

IT is not the purpose of this book to endeavor 
to assist the successors of Morelli in deter- 
mining the authenticity of pictures. It accepts 
the results of the latest criticism, and is based 
on a loving study of works whose genuineness 
is established by the weight of authority. 

Its design is to give in a brief compass an 
insight into the essential characteristics of each 
of the masters treated, so that the traveller 
may be able to enjoy them for what they are, 
without looking for merits in one which can 
be found only in another. Even the greatest 
have their limitations, and these as well as 
their qualities must be understood to derive 
the fullest pleasure and profit from the con- 
templation of their achievements. 

General students should form their concep- 
tion of an artist from his acknowledged master- 



VI PREFACE 

pieces, which give the measure of his powers. 
I have therefore rarely considered doubtful or 
inferior productions, and have added no lists of 
the master's works. Many such lists exist 
already, and no two of them agree. I should, 
however, particularly recommend those ap- 
pended to Mr. Bernhard Berenson's invalu- 
able little books on the Painters of the Italian 
Renaissance. The extraordinary penetration 
displayed in the body of the text qualifies the 
author in an unusual degree to pass on ques- 
tions of authenticity. 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 



INTRODUCTION i 

RAPHAEL 18 

MICHELANGELO 42 

LEONARDO DA VINCI \ . . .71 

TITIAN 104 

CORREGGIO 131 

BOTTICELLI 159 

RUBENS 180 

CLAUDE LORRAINE . . . .211 
INDEX 239 



vii 



RENAISSANCE MASTERS 



INTRODUCTION 

THERE are two periods in the history of 
the world's art that are of supreme in- 
terest, the age of Pericles and the Italian 
Renaissance. But they are widely different in 
their character. The age of Pericles was the 
culmination of a long and harmonious develop- 
ment, the glorious blossoming of a perfect 
flower, which had grown in symmetrical grace 
to bloom in ideal beauty. 

Not so with the Renaissance. No period of 
humanity has been torn with more conflicting 
ideas, with more diverse aspirations, with more 
opposing passions. Greek literature and Greek 
art had come again to light, and the hearts of 
many, carried away by the loveliness of this 
I 



2 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

world, longed to return to the bright days of 
old when beauty was all in all, and men gath- 
ered to watch the naked runners at Olympia 
straining their forms of matchless grace and 
power, or stood upon the shore of the Athen- 
ian gulf to look at Phryne as she rose as 
Aphrodite from the purple sea. But in other 
breasts the religious fervor of the Middle 
Ages, the hatred of the pomp and glory of 
the earth, glowed as warmly as in the bosom 
of Peter the Hermit when he aroused Europe 
to throw itself upon Asia in the hope of re- 
covering the Holy Sepulchre. What made 
the conflict so intense and so peculiar was that 
the new spirit did not come as a distinct faith 
against which the forces of conservatism could 
be clearly drawn. The lovers of antique art 
did not cease to be Christians, they were not 
even heretics, so that they could not be burned 
at the stake and an end made of the matter, as 
Simon de Montfort had wiped out in blood the 
brilliant civilization of Provence when a holy 
war had been proclaimed against the trouba- 
dours because they sang too sweetly of woman's 
love and of earthly beauty. The spirit of the 



INTRODUCTION 3 

Renaissance penetrated into every heart, and 
the conflict went on in the bosom of every 
man. For long centuries men had bowed be- 
neath the yoke of an ascetic discipline imposed 
by a religious fervor that had blinded them to 
the loveliness of nature, and had regarded the 
fair earth as a hideous dungeon haunted by 
evil spirits, the body as an unclean tenement 
of clay that imprisoned the soul and dragged 
it down to sin. Slowly their eyes wereX 
opened. They looked upon the world, and 
they saw that though defaced by the ravages 
of man and stained by his crimes, it was still 
fair and good, and in thier breasts there grew 
up, although they struggled against it, the old 
pagan love for the beauty of external things, 
for the purple sea breaking forever on the 
silver sands, for the sunlight's brilliance as it 
fell upon fields of golden grain and hills clothed 
in verdure; above all, for the beauty of the*^ 
human countenance, for the grace of the human 
form. But these feelings were not simple and 
unmixed as in the bosom of a Greek. In 
every breast there were also the spiritual aspira- 
tions, the hatred of the world, the flesh, and 



4 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

the devil that characterized the Middle Age. 
These inconsistent elements waged an incessant 
war. Sometimes, as in the case of Fra Angel- 
ico, the spiritual side had almost the entire 
victory ; sometimes, as in the case of Titian, 
the new paganism almost uprooted the Chris- 
tian spirit; and sometimes, as in the case of 
Raphael, they were blended together in har- 
monious union. 

AVhen the Renaissance began we cannot tell. 
Far back in the Dark Ages we can see the 
spirit stirring, now manifesting itself here, now 
there, but always sternly repressed by the 
bigotry of the time. But when at length the 
human intellect broke its fetters, its advance 
was extremely rapid. Petrarch was already 
seventeen years of age when Dante died, yet, 
while the spirit of Dante is almost entirely 
mediaeval, the spirit of Petrarch is almost en- 
tirely classic. Still, as showing how the two 
spirits were intermingled, the very groundwork 
of Petrarch's poetry is of the Middle Age. 
One of the peculiarities of the Middle Age 
was its constant yearning for the unattainable. 
That which was within reach was without 



INTRODUCTION 5 

value: that which was beyond the grasp was 
longed for with infinite desire. Men cared 
little for their own wives or for any whom they 
could win. Every knight chose some lady in 
whose honor he might achieve his feats of 
arms, every minnesinger or troubadour chose 
one to whom to address his songs of love and 
war ; but it was always some one beyond their 
reach, either because she was the wife of 
another or because of her exalted rank. It 
was this purely spiritual love alone that found 
poetic expression ; and there was so little 
reality in it, it was so entirely a matter of the 
imagination, that the real objects of human 
love cared little about it. His visionary pas- 
sion for Beatrice did not prevent Dante from 
marrying and having ten children, and his 
good wife, Gemma, no doubt valued the poet's 
devotion to his shadow at its true worth. 
Had Beatrice come to Dante or Laura to Pe- 
trarch the poets would have wept over their 
shattered dream, and have chosen some other 
woman as the object of their adoration. This 
visionary love, which it is so hard for us now to 
realize, was the natural result of the absorption 



6 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

of the Middle Age in the things of the spirit 
and its abhorrence of the things of the flesh.* 
/Though the Renaissance owed its awakening 
to the re-discovery of antiquity, there is a vast 
gulf between the art of Greece and that of 
Italy. In ancient art it was the type that was 
sought, each artist striving to produce the ideal 
of perfect beauty, free from the imperfections 
of any individual man or woman. With the 
soul, Greek art has little to do. The expression 
upon the faces is usually one of Olympian 
serenity alone, and if human passions are por- 
trayed, as in the " Laocoon," it is only in 
their simplest form. 

Far different was the Renaissance. Chris- 
tianity and the Middle Ages had swept across 
men's lives, and they had learned to turn their 
glance inward, probing the soul's most hidden 
mysteries. Instead of faces which merely ex- 
press the joy of living in a joyous world, in a 
world still bright with the freshness of its 
glorious youth, we have countenances in which 

* Perhaps the best illustration of this peculiar kind of love 
is the Florentine poet Sacchetti, who married three successive 
wives, and in the meantime addressed all his poems to a fourth 
woman. 



IN TROD UC TION *J 

are depicted all the passions of humanity, its 
most secret instincts, its vaguest aspirations. 
It is no longer the type that is sought, it is theN 
individual. Instead of trying to eliminate from 
the work of art all that is personal to the 
model, leaving only the abstraction of ideal 
beauty, the effort is to represent the individual 
person, the individual soul. Instead of en- 
deavoring to produce from many imperfections 
a single perfect type, they strive to show how 
body differs from body, spirit from spirit. 
Leonardo da Vinci would follow all day long 
one whose countenance struck him as they 
passed upon the street, striving to penetrate 
the secret of personality, and to fix upon his 
sketch-book the charm of feature or expression 
with which he had been impressed trying to 
seize those very elements of being that Apelles 
would have been most anxious to exclude. 

Therefore, while the purpose of Greek art 
was the attainment of abstract perfection, the\ 
purpose of Renaissance art was the expression 
of the individual countenance and form. In 
this respect nearly all modern art has followed 
the guidance of the Renaissance, not of an- 



8 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

tiquity. We admire ancient art, but its calm 
grandeur is no longer possible to our souls, 
torn as they are with conflicting feelings un- 
dreamed of by a Greek ; and when we try to 
imitate it we are usually merely stiff and 
academic. But the people of the Italian Re 
naissance are our true ancestors. Their feel- 
ings were the same as ours, only more intense; 
they were confronted by the same problems; 
their art deals with the same sentiments, the 
same aspirations; and in the study of their 
works the modern artist will find infinite profit 
and inspiration. 

The result of this seeking after individuality* 
is that Renaissance art is far more varied than 
that of classic times. In Greece every artist 
was striving for the same thing, for the highest 
type of beauty or of strength, so that there is 
a certain sameness in their works. Scopas is 
more vehement, Praxiteles more voluptuous, 
but they are in search of the same ideals, and 
even among the ancients their works were 
hopelessly confused a thing that could never 
happen in the case of Michelangelo, Raphael, 
Leonardo, Correggio, and Titian. 



INTRODUCTION 9 

And it was in consequence of this love of 
individuality that painting became the favorite 
art of the Renaissance, as sculpture was the 
favorite art of Greece. Sculpture is best suited 
to the creation of ideal types, painting to the 
depicting of individual expression. And in 
the hands of the artists of the Renaissance the 
function of sculpture is completely changed. 
Instead of plastic forms with brows on which 
sits the serenity of Olympus, the body is useol 
as a vehicle for the utterance of the most com- 
plex feelings; and often the artist thinks not 
of its beauty, but only of the expressiveness of 
the tortured limbs. 

And this striving after individuality in art is 
but an expression of the spirit of the age.^/ 
There are times in the world's history when 
the individual is completely absorbed in the 
mass of his fellows ; when all men are seeking 
a single ideal, each rejoicing to subordinate 
himself to the spirit that animates the whole. 
Such in art were the Middle Ages, when 
myriads of men co-operated in the erection of 
those marvellous Gothic cathedrals which are 
the wonder of all succeeding generations, and 



IO RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

yet all were so absorbed in their work that we 
know not even the names of the architects from 
whose astounding brains could spring the con- 
ception of these vast structures with their in- 
finite complications of ornament and slender 
shafts reaching heavenward their stony arms 
in rapturous prayer to the throne of grace 
men who cared only for their work, and who 
did not even carve their names upon those 
pillars, the least of which would have made 
them immortal. 

There are other times that are periods of 
disintegration, when the bonds that bound 
men together are loosened, and when each 
strikes out for himself, or combines with others 
only for purposes of temporary advantage, 
moved by no common impulse, but each seek- 
ing for himself pleasure, power, riches, or fame. 
Such a period was the Peloponnesian War, 
the fall of the Roman Republic, the dissolu- 
tion of the Roman Empire, the Italian Renais- 
sance, the Thirty Years' War, the French 
Revolution, times of intense personal activ- 
ity, of strong individual development, when the 
human soul breaks its fetters and revels in a 



IN TR OD UC TION 1 1 

freedom that too often leads to dissolution and 
ruin. These are not the most wholesome 
periods in the world's records, but they are the 
periods of greatest interest. In them we pass 
from history to biography. We are no longer 
concerned with the movement of vast inert 
masses we are fascinated by intense person-^ 
alities, each of which differs from the other, 
having different ideas, different aspirations, 
different characteristics. And of all these 
periods of transition, when the old idols are 
crumbling and thousands of new ones are 
clamoring to take their places, when the old 
ties of association have been broken and new 
ones have not yet been established, when men 
are free to pursue the bent of their own spirit 
without constraint, when each stands distinct 
from the mass of humanity, the Italian Re- 
naissance is the most attractive. It was a time 
of vehement activity, when brain and nerves 
and sinews were strained to the utmost, when 
each strove most passionately for himself, 
freeing himself most completely from his fel- 
low-men, a time of intense light and Cimme- 
rian darkness, of great virtues and astounding / 



12 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

crimes, of princes like the Visconti, of whom 
it was said that their hate was fratricide and 
their love was incest ; of popes like Sixtus IV. 
and Alexander Borgia, who defiled the chair of 
St. Peter with orgies that would have shocked 
the companions of Nero, and at whose poisoned 
banquets Death presided as master of the 
revels ; of saints like Fra Angelico and Carlo 
Borromeo ; of murderous Bacchantes like Lu- 
cretia Borgia, and of holy matrons like Vittoria 
Colonna, a time of upheaval, of tumult, of 
confusion, when a mere condottiere like Sforza, 
selling his sword and his mercenaries to the 
highest bidder, could become a sovereign, 
when principalities were daily changed into 
republics and republics into principalities, 
when the ruler of to-day was the exile of to- 
morrow, only to return again in triumph to 
exact a bloody vengeance, a time almost of J 
anarchy, when men yet loved art and learning 
with an intensity of devotion that has never 
since been equalled, when the artist quietly 
painted his altar-piece or his Venus rising from 
the sea, or the scholar drank rapturously at 
the newly discovered fount of the Grecian 



INTRODUCTION 13 

Muses while men were cutting each other's 
throats outside his door, a time, in short, 
when a man could be anything if he only had 
the boldness, the cunning, or the strength.^/ 
No age is so varied in its interest^ Each city 
has its different architecture, its different art, 
and its individual history full of the storm and 
stress of conflicting passions. The very air\ 
seemed surcharged with electricity, here shin- ' 
ing as a splendid beacon giving light to an 
admiring world, there crashing downward as a 
thunderbolt, bearing destruction in its wake. 
In this atmosphere, where all things were pos- 
sible for good or evil, life was intense, passion- 
ate, voluptuous, cruel, as it has rarely been, 
and yet pervaded everywhere by a spirit of 
humanistic culture strangely at variance with 
the brutal ferocity that was continually break- 
ing forth. The art of such an age must neces-^ 
sarily possess a peculiar and enduring interestX 
/"There is nothing more striking than the 
sodden ending of Renaissance art) Greek art 
reached the zenith in the age of'Tericles, but 
its long afternoon was almost as brilliant as 
its noonday splendor. But when the sun of 



14 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

Utalian art had reached its meridian it was 
suddenly eclipsed. This was partly due to 
exhaustion, but was principally the result of 
political causes. \ 

\ While all this brilliant life was going on in 
Italy, while the peninsula was divided among 
a number of petty principalities maintaining 
the balance of power as carefully as the Europe 
of to-day, each the centre of a rich artistic 
activity, beyond the Alps, in those countries 
of the North and West of which the Italians 
rarely thought, and then only with contempt 
as a region of barbarism and darkness, forces 
were at work of which they scarcely reckoned. 
Slowly out of the anarchy and turmoil of the 
Middle Ages two great kingdoms were emerg- 
ing, France and Spain kingdoms that cared 
not for the arts, but rejoiced in war and rapine, 
before whose vast mail-clad armies the Italian 
mercenaries must be scattered as chaff before 
the wind. They rose above Italy like black 
and angry waves ready to break and overwhelm 
the land; but she saw not the danger, and 
went on with her masques and her revels, her 
painting and her sculpture, heedless of the 



INTRODUCTION 15 

wrath to come.y In an evil hour Ludovico il 
Moro, Duke of Milan, invoked the assistance 
of the French. This brought the Spaniard 
also into the peninsula, and from that time 
forth havoc and desolation reigned supreme. 
Italy, where serious war had been for centuriesN 
unknown, became the battle-ground of Europe.^ 
The steel-clad knights of France, the iron in- 
fantry of Spain, the ruthless reiters of Ger- 
many, who dreamed only of blood and gold, 
and to whose rude natures art could make no 
appeal, marched back and forth, devastating 
the land and trampling upon the people until 
in the wretchedness of slavery they lost their 
genius and their manhood, and became as in- 
capable of artistic production as Greece when 
she was reduced to the condition of a Roman 
province. 

Moreover, Italy had returned toward classic 
times until it had become almost pagan, while 
the rest of Europe was still imbued with the 
spirit of the Middle Age. The pilgrims from 
the North, seeing the wealth, the luxury, the 
immorality of Italian life, in which the church 
took the lead, were shocked beyond measure; 



16 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

and doubtless to the rude visitors from beyond 
the Alps many pictures which are now the 
glory of the world gave greater offense than 
the murders of the Borgias. Germany rose in 
revolt, and Switzerland, Holland, Denmark, 
Norway, Sweden, and England threw in their 
lot with her. Even in France the authority of 
the Pope was assailed. In this hour of the 
church's extreme peril, the fierce and bigoted 
Spaniards seized the helm, and fought out with 
measurable success the long battle against the 
forces of the Protestant revolt; and they 
trampled the bright Italian race under foot as 
cruelly as they had done the people of Mexico 
and Peru. 

Crushed and bleeding, Italy thought no more 
of art, and under the tyranny of the Spanish 
Inquisition, she sank into such a state of deg- 
radation that not only was she unable to pro- 
duce works worthy of her past, but she could 
not even appreciate those which she possessed, 
and covered many of them with hideous 
whitewash. 

So perished the Italian Renaissance, but as 
long as man loves the beautiful and the grand 



INTRODUCTION \*J 

it will be studied with a loving care devoted to 
no other epoch of modern times. It has been 
to the modern world what Greece was to the 
ancient, the glorious beacon at which the 
torches of civilization have been lit. 



RAPHAEL 
(1483-1520) 

ENIUS has so often been synonymous 
* J with misfortune, its path has so often 
led in despair and darkness over stones and 
brambles to a neglected tomb, Life has so 
often pressed down upon its aching brows the 
crown of thorns, leaving Death to circle them 
with the wreath of laurel, that it is with peculiar 
pleasure that one contemplates Raphael's un- 
varying felicity. ^From his cradle to his grave 
Fortune smiled upon him, and the approbation 
with which his first artistic efforts were greeted 
increased with the progress of his years until 
it became a chorus of universal praise^ 

Most men who have enjoyed in fullest meas- 
ure the admiration of their contemporaries are 
forgotten by posterity. Their popularity is 
due to the fact that they voice the peculiar 

18 



RAPHAEL 19 

feelings of their own time, and when those 
feelings are forgotten, they, too, pass into ob- 
livion, leaving the throne to some rival who 
speaks to the eternal and unchanging heart of 
man. But such was not Raphael's fate. /In 
his own day he was hailed by common acclaim 
the Prince of Painters, and if a faint voice has 
since been raised here and there to contest his 
pre-eminence, it has been drowned in the general 
applause. His fame has grown with the pas- 
sage of the centuries until it is co-extensive 
with civilization, and his name is pronounced 
with reverence in every land and on every sea. 
Nor is his renown confined to any class/S There 
are painters, like Botticelli, who appeal chiefly 
to the learned. There are others, like Dore", 
whose hold is only upon the populace. But 
Raphael charms both alike. (The connoisseur 
understands better the mystery of his power, 
but the peasant is enthralled with the beauty of 
his work.^ It may not be amiss to examine the 
foundations of this universal and enduring fame. 
Our modern civilization is composed of two 
elements : the humanism, the love of beauty, 
of harmony, of rhythm, of proportion, of the 



2O RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

sweetness and the light of this world that we 
have borrowed from the Greeks; and the 
spiritual aspirations that we have inherited 
from the Hebrews. These forces are in large 
measure antagonistic. We all remember the 
Euphorion of Goethe, the beautiful boy born 
of Faust and Helena, the perfect being sprung 
from the marriage of the Middle Age and An- 
tiquity, harmoniously blending in a single per- 
son the excellences of each. Goethe fancied 
that he saw Euphorion in Lord Byron, but he 
was surely mistaken, for Byron is totally defi- 
cient in that unclouded serenity which is the 
crowning perfection of Greek culture. 

(There has been but one Euphorion, and he 
was Raphael} In him alone are combined the 
noblest characteristics of the classic and the 
mediaeval spirits.} In him alone do we discover 
the spiritual fervor of the Hebrew so chastened 
and refined that it mingles in harmonious union 
with the rhythmic beauty of Grecian art. (Tie 
is the crowning glory of the Renaissance.) 
Since the great awakening the two forces had 
moved on side by side, often in hostility, 
sometimes blending imperfectly. To Raphael 



RAPHAEL 21 

was reserved the supreme honor of uniting 
them, of giving to Greek beauty the religious 
fervor and the sweetness of the Christian spirit 
in its pristine purity, of clothing the Hebraic 
abstractions in the radiant forms of Greece. 
/He has done more than any other man to 
purify and elevate the conception of physical 
beauty and to make us comprehend the beauty 
of "holiness. The world has never been the 
same since his inspired brush effected the 
magic combination. The two spirits which 
had been at conflict for ages he has reconciled 
with one another, and we know now, as those 
who preceded him could never know, that they 
can be blended without injury to either, and 
that from their union there can spring the 
dazzling Euphorion, as serenely beautiful as 
an Olympian divinity, as pure in spirit and as 
full of heavenward aspirations as the Marys 
who gazed in wonder into the vacant sepulchre. 
According to our individual temperament or 
culture, we may prefer the Hebraic or the 
classic spirit ; but since Raphael has made the 
great reconciliation we can never again look 
upon them as incompatible. 



22 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

One great element in Raphael's fame is his 
perfect purity. The soul of man was born to 
rise. It may flounder in the mire, but it will 
still strive with its soiled and broken pinions to 
beat upward into the pure ether, and though 
it may fall back into the slime from which it 
rose, the gaze of the dying eagle will still be 
fixed on the clear heavens where it might have 
soared on extended wing. Therefore the art 
that can combine a beauty that will allure with 
a purity that will lift the soul to a higher plane 
is the art that will last; and no painter com- 
bines these qualities in the same measure as 
does Raphael. There are some who have 
more spiritual fervor, but they are so indiffer- 
ent to external beauty that they repel as much 
as they attract. There are others who have 
an equal, possibly a finer, conception of physi- 
cal beauty, but they have not the same power 
to exalt the soul. It is impossible to look 
upon a masterpiece of Raphael's without a 
sense of spiritual elevation. He does not, like 
Michelangelo, carry us to dizzy heights around 
which rage the storms of Titanic passions ; he 
leads us into an enchanted land bathed in a 



RAPHAEL 23 

mellow radiance, where all is as wholesome as 
it is charming, and where the Christian Graces 
move about upon their errands of love and 
mercy as fair as Olympian deities and with the 
sweet serenity of the world's youth. It mat- 
ters not whether we are Christians or pagans, 
his works appeal to all ; and we can never look 
upon them without carrying away with us 
some atom of their serene beauty which will 
make us aspire to a purer and a higher life. 

Another cause of Raphael's success is his 
never failing humanity. In his works there is 
always to be found that touch of nature that 
makes all men kin. Michelangelo is super- 
human, and it is only the elect who can be in 
full sympathy with his mighty and solitary 
soul. Raphael deals indeed with a humanity 
that is perfected and lifted into a serener 
atmosphere than is possible for this troubled 
world, but even in his grandest flights he re- 
mains human. His men and women live on a 
higher plane than ours, but they are never 
beyond our comprehension or our sympathy. 
They are so elevated that they must be looked 
up to by the noblest, but they are never so far 



24 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

away that the humblest cannot grasp their es- 
sential qualities. v They are select spirits who 
have shaken off the dross of earth, but the 
beauty, the dignity, the sweetness of true man- 
hood and womanhood remain. They are not 
supernatural beings, but men and women like 
ourselves, purified, elevated, and refined. The 
sight of the superhuman is dispiriting, for we 
know that we can never reach it. But the 
sight of the humanly perfect is encouraging, 
for it shows us an ideal that we can under- 
stand, and which does not seem beyond the 
possibility of achievement. Before Michel- 
angelo's prodigious figures we feel a sense 
of our littleness and incapacity; but before 
Raphael's noble creations we feel exalted, and 
we say to ourselves, Why should not we be 
thus ? In his power to combine the highest 
art with an unfailing spirit of humanity Raphael 
is supereminent. 

One of the qualities which endear him most 
to the hearts of men is his cheerful serenity. 
Sometimes we enjoy the frenzied orgy of ex- 
cessive mirth ; sometimes we like to sup full of 
horrors; but both, in the healthy mind, are 



RAPHAEL 25 

transient tastes, while we gladly pass our lives 
in the contemplation of serene cheerfulness. 
Therefore Raphael's are pictures that we love 
to live with, that become dear companions of 
our solitude, lifting the troubled soul into a 
clearer and brighter atmosphere, purging it of 
baleful and unwholesome thoughts, bringing it 
to repose and peace; and as such they must 
always be inexpressibly dear to the human 
heart. 

And it is to Raphael more than to anyone 
'else that the modern world owes its conception 
of beauty that beauty in which the physical 
and the spiritual shall mingle in ever varying 
proportions, but in which neither shall ever be 
entirely lacking; the beauty of the " Sistine 
Madonna," whose great eyes are full of the 
light of heaven as she is revealed upon her 
cloudy throne; the beauty of the " Madonna 
of the Chair," the ideal of wholesome and 
happy motherhood ; the beauty of the young 
athlete worthy to have entered the Olympic 
games, who hangs from the wall in the " Burn- 
ing of the Borgo "; the beauty of the Arch- 
angel Michael transfixing Satan with his lance, 



26 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

unmoved by passion, as serene in the per- 
formance of his glorious duty as an Olympian 
divinity; the beauty of Apollo and the Muses 
thrilled with the rapture of divine harmony 
upon the wooded summit of Parnassus, beauty 
in countless forms, never sensual and gross, 
never unsubstantial and inane, always truly 
physical and truly spiritual, always attractive 
and always ennobling. We do not know what 
our ideal of beauty would have been without 
Raphael, but it would have been different, 
either erring like Leonardo on the side of the 
spiritual, or like Titian on the side of the phys- 
ical. It was Raphael who struck the golden 
mean and established our standard. 

In no other painter have the real and the 
ideal so happily blended. He is upon principle 
an idealist, seeking to elevate human nature 
and to give it a surpassing beauty, dignity, 
and grace. But it is not the washed-out, intan- 
gible, unrealized idealism of which we see so 
much to-day. His figures, beautiful as they 
are, remain as real as the ugliest transcripts of 
low life given us by Van Ostade or Teniers. 
Even his fabulous monsters, his dragons and 



RAPHAEL 27 

chimeras, are not mere creatures of the im- 
agination, but are rilled with an intense, ve- 
hement, palpitating life, and we feel that if 
Nature had made such things she would have 
made them thus. And idealist as he is, he is 
perhaps the most absolute realist of all artists 
in the one branch where absolute realism is the 
highest merit, the making of portraits. He 
anticipated Cromwell's injunction to paint him 
as he was, warts and all, and it is doubtful 
whether there are any portraits in the world 
more remorselessly realistic, more intensely in- 
dividual, than those of Raphael. He neither 
flatters the physical aspect of the faces nor 
lends to them any of the charm of his own 
gracious personality; but with a pitiless pre- 
cision almost without example he gives them 
to us exactly as they were, with all their im- 
perfections on their heads. 

Outside of the physical beauty and the 
spiritual elevation of his types, Raphael's 
highest qualities as an artist those in which he 
remains unapproached and unapproachable 
are in illustration and composition. 

Art may be roughly divided into two great 



28 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

elements, decoration and illustration : decora- 
tion, which seeks beauty alone, regardless of 
meaning; illustration, which seeks meaning 
alone, regardless of beauty. Ordinarily they 
are combined, so that the thing has both 
beauty and meaning, but they may be utterly 
divorced, as in the case of a crazy quilt, which 
has no meaning at all, yet which pleases by 
reason of the sensuous charm of color, and in 
the case of a newspaper woodcut showing 
some important event, which has no beauty, 
but which interests by reason of the occur- 
rences portrayed. In art the decorative ele- 
ment is the universal, appealing to all times 
and to all nations ; while the illustrative element 
is transitory, and when we lose interest in the 
events depicted we lose interest in the work as 
an illustration ; and then if it still attracts, it 
must be solely on account of the decorative 
elements which it contains. But a vivid illus- 
tration of anything about which people are 
deeply concerned, as a terrible conflagration or 
a great battle that has just taken place, will 
interest the general public far more than any 
decorative picture, however beautiful, and will 



RAPHAEL 29 

bring to the artist a more immediate fame and 
a greater meed of popular applause. Qnjthe 
other- hand, a mere illustration of something 
far away or almost forgotten will fall flat, how- 
ever skilful may be its execution. 

Raphael was the greatest illustrator that ever 
lived, and he has devoted his incomparable 
talents to the illustration of the book that in- 
terests us most, to depicting the events of the 
story in which we are all instructed at our 
mother's knee, whose every episode is familiar 
to every beholder, and which to most of us is 
full of absorbing interest ; hence his vast popu- 
larity with all mankind. 

If the time shall ever come when the Babe 
of Bethlehem shall be forgotten, when the 
meaning of the pictures is lost and men marvel 
vainly why angels should be attending an in- 
fant sleeping in a manger, then the decorative 
elements of Raphael's work will alone remain, 
and men may wonder why he was more es- 
teemed than Titian ; but as long as Christianity 
maintains its hold, the story which he illus- 
trates with a sweetness, a dignity, a beauty that 
remain unrivalled will preserve its perennial at- 



30 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

traction, and the popularity of his works will 
continue unimpaired. 

It is the fashion now to depreciate the illus- 
trative or literary element in painting even to 
the extent of denying it any place in true art. 
But this is an extreme view. The illustrations 
of the life of Christ can have no meaning for a 
Turk or a Japanese, who might still enjoy the 
splendor of Titian's coloring. But for a long 
time the civilized world has been brought up 
in the teachings of the Christian faith, and it 
is not likely that the Christian legends will be 
forgotten before the pictures themselves have 
crumbled into dust ; and art can perform no 
greater service to humanity than to clothe the 
popular beliefs in noble and dignified forms 
calculated to exalt and purify the people's 
faith. Besides, it is doubtful whether illustra- 
tion itself is inferior in artistic merit to decora- 
tion. [The imaginative illustrator who enables 
us to realize vividly and intensely the events 
of the past or of the present, giving form and 
substance to our faint and fleeting impressions, 
so that we can feel the elevation and purity of 
X soul of which humanity is capable, and can 



RAPHAEL 3 1 

raise our feeble imaginations to a comprehen- 
sion of the grandeur and solemnity of great 
events, displays a talent that may well be 
paralleled with that of the most splendid mas- 
ters of decorative art. 

From what I have said of Raphael's suprem- 
acy as an illustrator it must not be inferred 
that his works lack decorative qualities. As 
a colorist he is inferior to the great Venetians, 
but his color is always agreeable and appropri- 
ate, and the harmony of his lines is decorative 
in the highest degree. If their meaning were 
entirely lost, his pictures would still be ex- 
tremely attractive for their mere sensuous 
beauty. 

In the art of composition Raphael's pre- ^Hu-Q^ 
eminence has never been contested. In the 
grouping of the figures so as to form an agree- 
able and impressive whole he has no rival. It 
is not merely the balancing of group against 
group on a flat surface, which had been done so 
often and so admirably before him; it is the 
composition in space, the composition in three 
dimensions, in which he excels. No man, un- 
less it be Claude Lorraine, gives so vivid an 



32 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

idea of space. And most of his pictures give 
not merely the feeling of space, but of its limit- 
less extent. He may not show a far-reaching 
background, but there is a sense of space 
stretching beyond and away into infinite dis- 
tance. And this sense of space has much to 
do with the impressiveness of his work. We 
have all climbed to some eminence from which 
we have overlooked a wide expanse of country, 
and remember the thrill which we have experi- 
enced, the exaltation, the sense of enlarged 
vitality, the charm of the infinite t'hat has 
stirred our souls. Something of this there is 
in Raphael's pictures. And his skill in group- 
ing his figures is such that they remind us of 
the rhythmic harmony of music ; not, like 
architecture, of music that is frozen, but of 
music that is throbbing and palpitating with 
life. 

Nor is it necessary to go out of doors to 
experience the feeling of space. The same 
exhilarating sense comes upon us as we stand 
beneath the arches of a vast cathedral, in a 
lofty hall, or a lengthy corridor, and none of 
Raphael's pictures gives it more strongly than 



RAPHAEL 33 

the " School of Athens." To produce it is 
perhaps the highest achievement of architec- 
ture; to give the illusion of it is one of the 
greatest feats of painting. 

Man's puny body can be accommodated in 
very restricted quarters, but his intellect pines 
for extended reaches, for limitless distances. 
A ceiling seven feet high will serve his every 
physical want, but unless it towers far above 
his head he experiences a sense of confine- 
ment, of suffocation. It is all a matter of the 
imagination, and therefore the same effect of 
exhilarating freedom can be produced by a 
picture so disposed as to give a feeling of the 
measureless extent of space. 

As I have said, Claude Lorraine approached 
and perhaps equalled Raphael in his power of 
creating this illusion, but they work in widely 
different ways and to widely different ends. 
With Claude man is swallowed up in nature. 
He is but an atom in the illimitable expanse, 
and his puny figure might be stricken from the 
landscape without material loss. But with 
Raphael it is nature dominated by man. The 
sense of space is the same, but man is not a 

3 



34 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

, mere incident, he is the master spirit. He is 
not there to adorn the landscape: the land- 
scape exists for him, and, limitless as it is, it is 
subordinated to man's dignity. And it is this 
faculty, which Raphael possesses in so supreme 
a degree, of giving at the same time a realizing 
sense of nature's boundless extent and of man's 
inherent superiority, that imparts to Raphael's 
pictures a large portion of their unrivalled 
charm. 

Raphael did not develop this faculty un- 
aided. His master, Perugino, possessed it in 
a high degree, and taught it to his pupil, who 
surpassed him in this as in all else. And if, as 
many critics now contend, the " Apollo and 
Marsyas " of the Louvre, attributed to Ra- 
phael, and the " Baptism of Christ " in the 
National Gallery, attributed to Perugino, are 
by neither of those masters, there must have 
been at least one other who had almost equal 
skill in the difficult art of composing so as to 
reveal the depths of space while asserting man's 
pre-eminence. 

Raphael was the most receptive artist that 
ever lived, learning something from everyone 






RAPHAEL 35 

with whom he came in contact; but he was 
never an eclectic. We are familiar with eclec- 
ticism in the next age, when the Carracci sought 
to produce pictures combining the merits of all 
schools. Their works exhibit great skill, and 
are sometimes very beautiful, but they lack 
vitality. With Raphael it was different. 
Everything he learned was. so thoroughly as- 
similated that it became his own, and in pass- 
ing through the alembic of his marvellous brain 
it was transmuted into purest gold. 

This power of assimilation possessed by some 
geniuses is startling. Shakespeare's knowledge 
of antiquity was of the slightest, extending 
little beyond Plutarch's Lives; and yet he 
has given us in Julius Casar the most living 
transcript of ancient life and feeling to be 
found in the whole range of literature. The 
flashlight of his genius penetrated deeper into 
the spirit of antiquity than all the learned 
have reached, groping painfully with their 
farthing candles. So it was with Raphael. 
His life was so short and so busy that he could 
not have become a very profound scholar ; yet 
the whole spirit of Greek poetry is in his 



36 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

" Galatea/' the whole spirit of Greek philos- 
ophy is in his "School of Athens"; and 
while he became so thoroughly a Greek that 
his work would have been hailed by Pericles 
with delight, he still remained the highest and 
purest type of the Christian artist. 

When he arrived at the zenith of his fame 
Raphael was so overwhelmed with commis- 
sions that Briareus himself would not have 
been able to meet the demands upon him, and 
the master had recourse to the assistance of 
his pupils, often furnishing only a sketch, and 
leaving to them the entire work of painting. 
For this he has been greatly blamed, but it 
was a priceless gain to art. His inexhaustible 
fertility enabled him to dash off these designs 
with extreme rapidity, and in the meantime he 
was himself working industriously with his 
brush. The patron who thought that he was 
getting a picture by Raphael's own hand might 
have had cause to complain, but we should 
only be grateful. Without this collaboration 
we should have had few, if any, additional 
productions by Raphael himself, and we 
should have lost numerous treasures of ines- 






RAPHAEL 37 

timable value. Who would not have the 
" Holy Family of Francis the First," with 
that Madonna and that Magdalen which are 
among the most beautiful faces that even Ra- 
phael drew, and the magnificent " St. Michael " 
of the Louvre, perhaps the most glorious type 
of youthful manhood to be found in all the 
range of modern art, painted as they are by 
the hand of Giulio Romano, rather than not 
have them at all ? Who would not have the 
" Battle of Constantine," perhaps the most 
splendid battle-piece ever produced, worked 
out after Raphael's death by his scholars ac- 
cording to his designs, rather than the unin- 
spired compositions that they would have 
turned off if left to their own devices ? 

To realize the difference between Raphael 
and his pupils we need only to go to the Far- 
nesina at Rome, and look at his " Galatea," 
the most beautiful of all the lovely pictures 
that have been inspired by the art of antiquity, 
so full of the sea's splendor and of the exultant 
spirit of pagan joy, and then pass into the ad- 
joining enclosed loggia decorated by his pupils 
with the story of Cupid and Psyche after his 



38 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

designs. Nothing could be more deliciously 
perfect than his own painting, while the work 
of his disciples offends the eye by its coarseness 
and haste. Still, through the imperfection of 
the workmanship there shines forth the divine 
beauty of Raphael's conception. The pictures 
would have been incomparably more precious 
had they been wrought by the master's own 
hand; but in that event we must have done 
without many a priceless masterpiece which we 
could afford to sacrifice even less than we could 
afford to dispense with this delightful specimen 
of mural decoration. Owing to the brevity of 
Raphael's life his works, without the assistance 
of his pupils, must have been comparatively 
few^ Each would have been perfect, but we 
should have been deprived of many a marvel 
of composition, whose merits may be impaired, 
but not destroyed, by the inferiority of the 
workmanship. 

Apart from the assistance received from his 

- f disciples Raphael was the most productive 

artist that ever lived. His early death limited 

his artistic activity to a period of twenty years, 

and yet he has filled the galleries of the world 



RAPHAEL 39 

with the most varied masterpieces. He was 
unceasingly industrious, but he must have had 
the most intensely creative imagination in 
history. Just as Michelangelo could see the 
statue in the marble, begging to be liberated, 
so he must have seen upon the naked canvas, 
as though projected by a magic lantern, the 
fair faces, the graceful forms, the appropriate 
attitudes that were to make up the picture, 
and beyond them those wide reaches of hill 
and meadow, always different and always 
lovely, that carry the glance away into illimit- 
able space. He saw it all with the mind's eye 
as clearly as we see it now that he has given it 
tangible shape, and in the realization of it 
there was none of that doubt and hesitation 
which sometimes paralyzes even a supreme 
genius like Leonardo. He saw exactly what 
he wanted to paint, and the slender white 
fingers knew exactly how to paint it. The re- 
sponse of the hand to the mind was instan- 
taneous and unfailing. He worked as a bird 
sings, from the fulness of an overflowing heart, 
spontaneously, without an effort, knowing pre- 
cisely the note that he would strike. When he 



4O RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

thought of an occurrence it did not present 
itself to him in the vague and intangible way 
in which it appears to most of us. The whole 
scene rose up before him, not as it was irTfact, 
but as it might have happened in a world 
purer, serener, more beautiful than this, and 
his magic pencil hastened to turn the vision 
into an everlasting reality. Where other artists 
fumble about, seeking the correct note, he 
caught it at once ; where they hesitate, doubt- 
ing the right path, he advanced blithely, seeing 
the end from the beginning and the flowery 
road leading to the goal. It was this wonder- 
ful capacity for mental images, this concord of 
all his faculties, that enabled him to produce 
so much and to do it all so well. The facul- 
ties of most of us are like the pieces of an 
orchestra playing each a different air; while 
his were all attuned together, each aiding the 
other in the production of the divine harmony 
that thrills our souls across the ages. 

If you do not realize Raphael's greatness 
when you first see one of his masterpieces, do 
not despair. Few are they who do. JThe Ti- 
tanic force of Michelangelo is more impressive, 



RAPHAEL 41 

Titian's voluptuous charms are more alluring, 
the haunting smile of Leonardo has a subtler 
fascination. But none of them grows upon 
one like Raphael. To appreciate him wholly 
we must slowly realize the vast variety of com- 
positions in which he excelled. There are 
perhaps others who could have produced the 
delicious pagan beauty of the " Galatea," the 
noble dignity of the " School of Athens," 
the dramatic intensity of the " Expulsion of 
Heliodorus," the hurrying tumult of the 
Battle of Constantine," the sweet, soul- 
stirring loveliness of any of his numerous Ma- 
donnas, or the agony of his " Entombment " ; 
but who is there who could have produced 
them all, or other works so various in their 
character, so surpassing in their merit ? 



MICHELANGELO 
(1477-1564) 

IT is difficult to think of Raphael without 
also thinking of Michelangelo. j^Beside 
the beautiful countenance of the divine Um- 
brian there always rises the grim visage of the 
mighty Florentine. This is partly due to their 
rivalry in life, still more to the law of contrasts^ 
Each stood upon a summit to which succeeding 
generations of artists have vainly sought to 
climb; but while Raphael's mountain rises in 
the clear ether bathed in sunshine and clothed 
in verdure, Michelangelo's is wrapped in clouds 
and beaten upon by the storms of Titanic pas- 
sions. Which mountain is the higher we can- 
not say. Sometimes the verdurous summit 
seems to lift itself farther into the serene air ; 
sometimes it appears dwarfed in the presence 
of the rugged sublimity of the other. 



MICHELANGELO 43 

Time usually settles such questions of pre- 
eminence. We all remember Victor Hugo's 
fine poem telling of his search among the 
Pyrenees for the Pic du Midi. All the moun- 
tains seemed of the same height, but when he 
had given up the quest in despair, and was far 
advanced on his return journey to the North, 
he looked back, and behold, the Pic du Midi 
standing alone upon the horizon's verge. But 
time has not settled the contest between 
Michelangelo and Raphael. The men who 
saw them daily at their work were divided in 
their judgment as to which was the greater 
artist, and their descendants remain equally 
unable to agree. 

JBoth devoted their best talents to the illus- 
tration of the Bible] but it was the Old Testa- 
ment with its sternness and its God of Wrath 
that appealed to Michelangelo, while it was 
the New, with its sweetness and its God of 
Love, that attracted RaphaelJ Sometimes 
they invaded one another's province, but with 
moderate success. If Raphael had painted 
only the Bible pictures of the Loggie, or if 
Michelangelo had produced only his " Christ," 



44 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

his " Pieta," and his " Holy Family of the 
Tribune," they would have been esteemed 
capable artists and nothing more ; but in their 
proper spheres each has remained without a 
rival. 

[ There was never a more fervent Christian 
than Michelangelo, but there have been few 
who so utterly failed to grasp the Christian 
spirit of sweetness and light, patience and 
humility. Darkness and gloom, wrath and 
defiance, an exultation in physical and mental 
strength, a pride like that of Prometheus that 
would never bow though the eagle should rend 
his vitals through eternity these are the senti- 
ments that we read in his works. He tries to 
be a Christian, but his soul is with the Hebrew 
prophetsj He was fit to stand beside Elijah 
as he stretched out his hands on Mount Car- 
mel, cursing the followers of Baal ; beside 
Isaiah as he hurled his maledictions upon 
Babylon the Great. He endeavors to repre- 
sent Christian subjects, but all in vainj His 
Christ of Santa Maria sopra Minerva is an 
athlete rejoicing in his strength, who would 
have borne the cross to Golgotha with a smile; 






MICHELANGELO 45 

not the Man of Sorrows whose fragile body 
sank beneath its weight. Change the head 
but a little, and it might stand beside the 
statues of the Olympic victors wrought by 
Myron and Polycletus. The Christ of the 
" Last Judgment " is not the gentle Saviour 
of Mankind welcoming the elect into the 
mansions that he has made ready to receive 
them ; he is the God of Wrath of the Hebrew 
prophets embodied in a form of unexampled 
muscular development even exceeding that 
Torso of the Belvedere that Michelangelo ad- 
mired so much. The master had been asked 
to restore the missing limbs to this headless 
trunk of unequalled power. This he was un- 
willing to attempt in the marble, but has sought 
to surpass it in his Christ, who resembles 
Apollo hurling the thunderbolts of Jove 
against the ascending Titans, but with an im- 
measurable strength and a vengeful implacabil- 
ity of which the Greeks had no conception. 
The "Pieta" of St. Peter's has been much 
and justly admired; but it is the physical 
beauty of the corpse of Christ, and the fidelity 
with which the limpness of death is depicted 



46 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

that attract the attention, not the spiritual 
significance; nor can any trace of Christian 
spirit be found in the " Holy Family of the 
Tribune," while the naked youths in the back- 
ground, which are perhaps the best part of the 
composition, are strangely out of keeping with 
the subject. These and his Madonnas in stone 
and his " Descent from the Cross " are precious 
masterpieces, but they do nothing to body 
forth in living shapes the Christian Gospel, and 
a pagan who should infer from them the genius 
of Christianity would fall into a singular mis- 
conception. 

The spirit of antiquity, whether Assyrian or 
Egyptian, Hebrew, Greek, or Roman, was 
always masculine. jThe feminine element, al- 
though ever present, was strictly subordinate^ 
[The virtues of antiquity were the manly virtues 
courage, pride, independence, integrity, pa- 
triotism. It was these embodied in noble 
forms of perfect manhood that ancient art re- 
joiced to portray. But they easily degenerated 
into arrogance, revengefulness, and cruelty, 
and when they had done so, and beneath the 
tyranny of Tiberius the burden of the world's 



MICHELANGELO 47 

anguish had become greater than it could bear, 
Christ arose to proclaim the superiority of 
the feminine virtues of love, gentleness, and 
humility, and to preach the brotherhood of 
man. Of the new gospel Raphael became the 
supreme exponent in art, but Michelangelo 
remained with the mighty men of old, the last 
and the greatest to assert the supremacy of 

the 



And he carried his preference for the mas- 
culine to the point of being abnormal, almost 
unnatural. He loved no woman unless the 
Platonic sentiment that he experienced for 
Vittoria Colonna in his old age could be called 
by such a name. His affection went out to his 
own sex, and when he emerged from his soli- 
tude peopled by stupendous phantoms, it was 
the society of men that he sought, particularly 
of young men distinguished for the beauty of 
their persons. 

It is the fashion to admire indiscriminately 
all the works of a great man, and many laud 
the beauty of the women of Michelangelo. It 

is trne thai- many nf them arf> beautiful, but n it 

is not the. hpRiitv of woman r The Eve of the 



48 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

" Creation " has been much commended; but 
in point of fact she is heavy and somewhat 
gross, a great Titaness sprung immediately 
from the bosom of Mother Earth. And how 
inferior she is to the glorious Adam in the ad- 
joining fresco, receiving the spark of life from 
the outstretched finger of God. He likewise 
is a Titan, but he is one who, like Ixion, might 
aspire to the embraces of Juno. The ' ' Night* ' 
and the " Dawn " of the Medici tombs are also 
of the Titan race, the one plunged in the 
dreamless sleep that follows the exhaustion 
of intolerable woe, the other waking from 
troubled slumbers to look in agony upon the 
hateful light of another day. They are very 
beautiful, but in their beauty there is no trace 
of feminine charm. It is the beauty of elemen- 
tal creatures that Earth might have formed in 
her teeming womb when she was producing 
the great cave tiger and the mammoth. The 
lower limbs of the " Night " and of the Eve of 
the " Temptation " are surpassingly fine, but 
they have none of woman's softness. Beneath 
the tightly drawn skin we see the iron muscles 
of a victor in the race-course at Olympia. 



MICHELANGELO 49 

/No man could love one of Michangelo's 
women. They are not human. We can no 
more love them than we can love an elemental 
force J If the " Night " should shake off her 
slumber and sit upright upon her couch, if 
" Dawn " should rear herself erect, we should 
fly in terror from their superhuman strength 
and their unspeakable despair. Frankenstein's 
monster might claim them for his mates, but 
they could only inspire terror in our puny 
hearts. HLven his Madonnas are not lovable,./ 
They are strong, vigorous women whom we 
admire, but who could stir no tender passion 
in our bosoms. 

j3ut on the other hand no artist among the 
moderns, perhaps none even among the arf^ 
cients, has ever felt so keenly and expressed so 
well the beauty of manhood of manhood in 
its highest perfection, strong in body, with 
every muscle developed to the utmost and 
capable of the intensest strain, powerful and 
undaunted in mind, ready for every conflict,,? 
for every dangerTJ Look at the youths who 
adorn the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. They 
are beautiful, proud, and manly as the Apollo 



5O RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

Belvedere. fThey are not unhuman like his 
women. They are men as men should bej as 
we can imagine them to have been in the 
heroic days when Jason sought the Golden 
Fleece, when Theseus struggled with the Min- 
otaur, and Hercules hunted the monsters in 
their lairs. If called to life they would win the 
love of woman and the admiration of man, and 
their beauty would be as conspicuous as their 
strength. And where will we find the beauty 
of youth combined with the pathos of despair 
as in the finer of the two " Captives " of the 
Louvre ? The " Hermes of Olympia " is not 
more beautiful, the " Dying Alexander" is 
less pathetic; and the hopeless dejection of 
the bright young spirit now bound in fetters 
is revealed not merely in the lovely face but 
in every muscle of the perfect form. 
M3ut beautiful as are these adolescent figures, 
the essential of Michelangelo's art is over- 
whelming power, that terribilitct which amazed 
all his contemporaries and continues to awe 
the world. There is no other artist who lifts 
[the soul so high. In the presence of his super- 
\human shapes weighed down by thoughts too 



MICHELANGELO 5! 

/great for mortal comprehension, bowed with 
/ a grief which tongue can never utter, or else 

/ defiantly erect like Ajax upon the storm-beaten 
rock, we feel that we are transported into 

V another world peopled by mighty and terrible 
^-shadows, forms of supernatural sorrow, despair, 
and wrath, before whose vast elemental pas- 
sions we quail as before some convulsion of 
nature J Look at his " Moses," and think 
what would happen if the giant, so instinct 
with life even in the marble, should arise and 
speak! How the multitudes would cower be- 
fore him ! What thunders, like those of Sinai, 
would roll from his mighty lips! We should 
think no more of resisting him than we should 
struggle with an earthquake. Before his over- 
mastering will we could only bow in terror and 
submit. Imagine the 4< David " alive again, 
with that face that would defy a world in 
arms! Before his wrath a host of Goliaths 
would fly in consternation. Glorious in their 
strength as are the deities of Greece, we feel 
that if the war had been with Titans of this 
mould the battlements of Olympus would have 
been scaled and the Gotterdammerung would 



52 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

have come ; and upon the ruins of Jove's 
palaces there would have sat the terrible Christ 
of the " Last Judgment " condemning the 
vanquished with an inexorable resolve. But 
such creations could not exist in Hellas. 

Happy Greeks! The iron had not entered 
their soul, they had not bent beneath the 
burden of an unutterable despair, they had not 
striven to float among the stars on pinions that 
would not lift them even from the earth ; and 
they could have formed no conception of the 
ideas which Michelangelo sought to body forth 
in his stupendous shapes. The simple serenity 
and directness of their imagination is impos- 
sible to us. They belong to a different and a 
happier world. What they desire is clear and 
tangible. They are not haunted by impossible 
dreams, by vague and unutterable longings. 
Their art is the reflection of their own tranquil 
souls. It is immensely beautiful, but it makes 
to us no personal appeal. We admire it as we 
admire Homer, but it cannot thrill us like a line 
of Shakespeare, voicing our inmost thoughts, or 
a statue of Michelangelo. We feel no kinship 
with the Venus of Melos or the Apollo Belve- 



MI CHELA NGEL 53 

dere. They are too far away, too alien to the 
ideas and feelings that stir us now. We can- 
not fathom the full meaning of Michelangelo's 
prodigious figures ; but we feel that, Titanic as 
they are, they are still modern, and that they 
utter in superhuman tones the aspirations and 
the sorrows of living humanity ; and they have 
a fascination for us that is never found even in 
the noblest works of Greece. 

Artists who endeavor to express violent pas- 
sions usually express nothing else. Their 
picture or their statue is only a symbol of the 
passion sought to be portrayed, of wrath or 
fear, of love or hate. We see at a glance the 
full message which they seek to utter. The 
figures are there to say a certain thing and they 
say it, well or ill. Understanding all that 
they would communicate, we lose interest, and 
return to them again only to admire the beauty 
of line or color. But Michelangelo's creations, 
like Shakespeare's, are real beings. We can 
no more read their inmost hearts than we can 
read the inmost hearts of living men ; and their 
souls are vaster, more complex, than poor 
humanity can be. Their depths remain eter- 



54 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

nally unsounded. We see the storms beating 
upon the surface, but we also understand that 
there are abysses which the eye can never 
reach. They are infinitely suggestive like the 
music of some mighty symphony. The more 
we see them the more their power grows upon 
us, the more unfathomable do we discover 
them to be. 

No man so dominates the soul as Michel- 
angelo. As Rogers says of the fearfuFBfood- 
ing figure that sits upon the tomb of Lorenzo, 
meditating some frightful purpose of revenge 
and death, he " fascinates and is intolerable." 
In the presence of these awful shapes we feel 
as we have felt in some lofty mountain region 
with nothing around save stony desolation. 
Michelangelo is more terrible than Milton or 
than Wagner, for they comprehend the sweet- 
ness of love, the charm of womanhood, the 
rapture of exchanged caresses. They stroll at 
times through the vales of Paradise, butjae 
wanders forever upon the mountains amid 
storms and darkness, or if he descends, it is 
with a poor grace "as if he scorned his spirit 
that could be moved to smile at anything." 



MICH EL A NGEL 55 

But his mountain solitudes are peopled by 
glorious dreams such as he alone has dreamt. 

Yet it is a mistake to speak of them as 
dreams. In the presence of his prodigious 
figures we feel that they are the reality, and 
that we are only shadows that flit before their 
face. As Venetian art was devoted to color 
and Umbrian to grace, Florentine art had been 
devoted to the realization of the human form.f 
From Giotto down the Florentine masters had 
depicted figures that seemed more real than 
life. This power over the reality of things was\ 
inherited by Michelangelo, and applied to 
types of such stupendous energy, so instinct 
with passionate vitality, so colossal in their 
dimensions and so overwhelming in their 
power, that in their presence all else seems 
trivial and unsubstantial. Beneath the Sis- 
tine's vault there are noble pictures by illus- 
trious masters, Perugino, Botticelli, and the 
like. But who deigns to look at them ? In 
another place they would enthrall our attention, 
but beneath these overwhelming shapes, how 
unreal, how insipid they appear! Others have 
tried his terrible style, but have only succeeded 



56 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

in producing spiritless giants, while his are im- 
bued with an intense vehement life, and are 
worthy associates of those sons of God who 
forsook heaven to woo the daughters of men, 
only to brood despairingly over the loss of their 
celestial home. 

How is it that he produces this effect ? It 
is not merely his mighty soul, it is also his per- 
fect knowledge. He alone knew all the capac- 
ities of the body as a vehicle of expression. 
Most artists are content to exhibit passions 
only in the face. He comprehended that 

'every passion quivers in every muscle, and 
knew how to utter the full burden of the flesh. 
He was the first in modern times entirely to 

^understand the importance of the nude to see 
rhat in the successful depicting of the naked 
body so as to make every limb cry out the 
emotions of the soul, art attains its completest 
utterance. No man has ever comprehended 
the use of the unclothed form as he. With 
others we look to the countenance to see what 
the subject feels; with him we look to the 
torso and the limbs. Each sinew speaks and 
proclaims its tale of agony or joy. In ancient 



MICHELANGELO 57 

art the body rarely expressed anything save 
the tranquillity of strength or beauty, or the 
harmony of rhythmical exertion. Michel- 
angelo's contemporaries unveiled it only for 
purposes of study or to reveal its sensuous 
beauty. He alone used it as the vehicle for\ '"**&* * 

v ~ ~ ~~~~ ~ _-..._-- ^C-jr> ^"^ 

the utterance of all the passions of humanity, 
its love and hate, its rapture and despair. + 

He^was born a sculptor, and a sculptor he 
remained, even when he wielded the brusl^ 
He was never a painter like Raphael. He had 
none of the power of composition of the Prince 
of Painters. When you see a picture by the 
latter the first thing that strikes you is the 
harmony of the design. It is only after you 
have looked at it in its entirety for a long time 
that it occurs to you to examine the details, 
and probably you will look at it for years 
charmed with the exquisite rhythm of the 
balancing lines without going further. But 
Michelangelo never pleases you in this way. 
His composition is rarely satisfactory, some- '"' 
times confused. You do not think of looking 
at his pictures as a whole. It is the individual 
figures that seize the eye and rivet the atten- 



RENAISSANCE MASTERS 




tion. How differently Raphael would have 
painted the " Last Judgment." Christ would 
have been a benignant and merciful judge, not 
an avenging god. Stress would have been laid 
rather upon the happiness of the blest than on 
the agony of the damned. The Virgin would 
not have crouched timid and unnoticed beside 
her Son. Above all, instead of a confused 
group of writhing shapes whose general pur- 
pose is scarcely intelligible after the most 
patient study, we should have had a composi- 
tion comprehensible at a glance, and of such 
rhythmic harmony that we should probably 
never have thought to examine the details. 
But if we did, how weak the individual figures 
would have seemed compared with this crowd 
of writhing Titans trying to scale heaven and 
hurled back by the wrath divine ! In Michel- 
angelo's great fresco we rarely try to make out 
the general plan. Each figure attracts on its 
own account. Each is an amazing study in 

<^** 

anatomical expression. Strong, passionate, 
wrathful, despairing, they struggle up or fall 
\backward with superhuman force. And, par- 
adoxical as the statement seems, perhaps the 



MICHELANGELO 59 

finest of all his statues are those created by his 
brush ; for these prodigious forms of the Sis- 
tine's vault and of the " Last Judgment " be- 
long to statuary and not to painting. They 
could be transferred to the marble with no loss 
of effect. They are self-sufficing, they exist 
for themselves, and could be freed from the 
wall to which they are attached. They are 
not mere parts of a scene like the figures in a 
true picture. The sculptor has made them 
with his brush because he was so commanded, 
and because he did not have time to chisel 
them out in stone; but they are the works of a 
sculptor, and to statues they must be compared. 
^No artist was ever so wrapped up in man. 
For the beauties of nature Michelangelo seems 

Vto have cared nothing. The backgrounds of 
Raphael's pictures are frequently marvels of 
charming landscapes, and many of the most 
delightful scenes ever delineated are to be 
found in the pre-Raphaelite masters. But for 
all this Michelangelo had no eyes. His only 

/interest was in the human form and in the feel- 
ings of humanity heightened to a supernatural 
^degree and expressed with Titanic power. He 



6O RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

does not rejoice in peaceful prospects like Ra- 
phael ; he does not dream of fantastic rocks like 
Leonardo ; he does not even think of the deso- 
late sublimity of mountain summits. Man is 
sufficient for him, and man's nude form suffices 
to utter all his message. Man is even the only 
ornament that he employs, and no one else has 
so fully understood the decorative qualities of 
the body. The grandest piece of decoration 
in the world is the Sistine's vault, and the 
only element that enters into it is the human 
figure, sometimes draped, generally unclothed. 
No one, not even Michelangelo, can entirely 
escape the spirit of his time, and one reason 
why he exults so much in physical strength is 
that it was so highly esteemed by his contem- 
poraries. The revival of Greek learning with 
the pride of the Greeks in the triumphs of 
physical vigor at the national games, added to 
the warlike instincts inherited from the Middle 
Ages, gave a great interest to all that con- 
[cerned muscular development; and the ineffi- 
Iciency of the laws, the insecurity of life and 
(property, the constant necessity of repelling 
assaults and the temptation to make them in 



MICHELANGELO 6 1 

that troubled era gave to bodily force an im- 

fportance far beyond anything that we can now 

Vconceive. Rarely has so much civilization 

been combined with so little protection of the 

law ; rarely have men of such cultivation so 

often taken into their own hands the righting 

/ of their wrongs. It is but natural that the 

/ foremost sculptor of the age should portray 

/ the type which the age admired; but it is 

I fortunate that he was a man of so lofty a soul 

\ that he could redeem from all grossness the 

] enormous brute strength which he delighted 

1 to depict and make it the vehicle for the ex- 

\ pression of the highest thoughts. By giving 

\to his Titans a spirit even vaster than their 

bodies he has created a type of art that has 

remained unique, immeasurable, and over- 

Iwhelming. 

is exultation of Michelangelo in mere 
physical force, this joy in iron muscles ready 
for any strain, is most fully exhibited in that 
cartoon of the soldiers bathing in the Arno and 
surprised by the trumpet's blast, usually called 
the " Battle of Pisa." No such study in an- 
atomy, no such picture of the male body in 



62 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

fullest development, no such group of intensely 
hurrying athletes, with every nerve throbbing 
and palpitating with life, has been created in 
modern times, perhaps not even by the Greeks. 
Of its kind it is perfect. Exertion is carried 
exactly to the point that it should not over- 
pass. There is none of that excess so peril- 
ously close to attitudinizing and contortion 
that disfigures the " Last Judgment." All is 
instinct with intense vitality, yet rhythmical 
and harmonious. Cellini and many of his con- 
temporaries in an age so enamored of physical 
vigor regarded it as his masterpiece. It has 
perished now, and we can judge it only by the 
copies ; but we know that their estimate must 
have been erroneous. Masterly as it was as an 
anatomical study, it could not have had that 
lofty spiritual meaning that gives to the gigan- 
tic shapes that adorn the Sistine's vault or 
brood above the Medicean tombs their everlast- 
ing interest. Yet it is not surprising that 
artists should have esteemed the cartoon so 
highly. They were no more capable than the 
rest of us of grasping the sense of those Titanic 
forms, or of reading the secrets of their troubled 



MICHELANGELO 63 

souls ; but the cartoon was a matchless school 
of design where all the secrets of the human 
frame stood openly revealed. 

Michelangelo will always be more interesting- 
than Raphael. The latter, like Tennyson, was 
only an artist. He lived in and for his art 
alone, and expressed himself completely in it. 
But with Michelangelo, great as was his work, 
we feel that the man was greater still. Lofty 
as is the dome of St. Peter's, terrible as is 
the " Moses," mournful as are the Medicean 
tombs, we feel that the soul of Michelangelo was 
loftier, more terrible, more mournful than them 
all. It is a rugged greatness, stern and unap- 
proachable ; but at heart he is kind and tender, 
filled with unspeakable pity for the miseries of 
man, with burning protest against his wrongs. 
Though beneath his touch the marble quivers 
with an elemental life, and on the barren wall 
there spring into being forms of supernatural 
power, we feel that much is still unuttered, 
that within that prodigious soul there are 
oceans of woe and whirlwinds of passion too 
great for brush or chisel to articulate. ^Ra- 
phael lived in an ideal world that was all his 



64 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

own, serenely indifferent to the tempests that 
were raging round. With Michelangelo the 

Florentine patriotism and devotion to liberty 

4F 

lose even above his love for art. He was first 

S man and then an artist, and he was a part of 
the storm and stress of contemporary life. 

If Raphael availed himself too freely of the 
labors of others, Michelangelo went to the 
opposite extreme of excluding reasonable 
co-operation. He wore himself out in rough- 
hewing the marble when a common stone- 
cutter could have done it as well ; and therefore, 
considering the duration of a life prolonged to 
the ninetieth year and the robust health which 
he enjoyed, the amount of work that he has 
left, particularly in stone, seems limited, and 
very little of that has been finished in every 
part. Had he done like the modern sculptor, 
merely making a figure of clay and leaving to 
his workmen the task of turning it into a 
statue, his amazing energy and inexhaustible 
fertility would have enabled him to fill the 
world with masterpieces; but it is doubtful 
whether any of them would have had upon 
their brows the seal of supreme greatness, 



MICHELANGELO 6$ 

whether all of them together would have been 
worth one of these astounding creations sprung 
entirely from that mighty hand and that tre- 
mendous brain. Still we can easily conceive 
how he could have availed himself to a greater 
degree of the services of others in doing the 
rough work of shaping his statues, and in that 
way have doubled his artistic production with- 
out a loss of power. But we must accept 
genius with its limitations. His solitariness 
was inseparable from his greatness. Like the 
lion, he stalked alone. His quarry would have 
been larger had he availed himself of the assist- 
ance of the jackals ; but they were hateful in 
his sight, and he hunted by himself. 

In our own days we have seen the art of 
music culminate in a genius worthy to stand 
beside Michelangelo, and have beheld his death 
followed by a decline like that which ensued 
when the mighty Florentine had passed away. 
A few years ago, when Wagner was pouring 
out his prodigious music-dramas, it was felt 
that at last the true dramatic music had been 
discovered, and that we should have a series 
of great operas of ever increasing power. He 

5 




66 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

died, and there fell a silence so profound that 
the slender flute of Mascagni resounded 
throughout the world. 

So it was after the death of Michelangelo. 
Some artists went to the other extreme, like a 
relaxed bow, and painted pictures of sugared 
sweetness, which found a ready popularity; 
but the majority of the public, having become 
accustomed to the grandeur of Michelangelo's 
style, demanded that it should be continued ; 
and many of the artists themselves, fascinated 
by its power and forgetting their own limi- 
tations, strove to imitate it. The pigmies, 
encumbered by the giant's armor, rattled pain- 
fully along, stumbling at every step. Where 
he was dramatic, they were theatrical ; where he 
was vigorous, they were hysterical ; where 
he was awful, they were grotesque, and the 
almost superhuman power of the master be- 
came one of the most potent influences in the 
decline of art. 

In one respect Michelangelo was less fortu- 
nate than Wagner. He survived his genera- 
tion, to sit alone like Marius upon the ruins of 
Carthage, brooding over the desolation and 



MICHELANGELO 6/ 

shrouded in the gloom of the descending night. 
If Wagner has had no successors, he at least 
passed away surrounded by contemporaries 
worthy of his genius and with every reason to 
hope that music would take yet bolder flights ; 
but the illustrious artists with whom Michel- 
angelo had been associated preceded him to 
the tomb, and he lived to see art decline from 
Raphael to Giovanni Penni, from himself to 
Baccio Bandinelli, and to stand like some 
glorious mountain whose snowy summit still 
remains bathed in sunlight when the world 
all around lies wrapped in shadow. 

Unhappily the progress of the decline is 
nowhere more plainly visible than in the works 
of Michelangelo himself. 

At the outset of his career his efforts were 
directed to the attainment of an absolute mas- 
tery over the human body. By diligent study 
of the living model and continual dissection of 
the dead he acquired a proficiency in artistic 
anatomy that has never been paralleled, and 
which finds its supreme expression in the car- 
toon of the " Battle of Pisa." Nothing has 
ever surpassed the power and grace of these 



68 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

hurrying athletes, whose movements are so 
varied, so rhythmic, and so natural. 

But when he had reached this point he was 
not content, as almost any other artist would 
have been, to repeat himself. He sought still 
/higher flights. No longer satisfied with the 
( mere beauty and strength of the body, he de- 
J termined to make it the vehicle for the expres- 
A sion of the deepest passions and the loftiest 
v^aspirations of humanity. A technical skill, a 
perfect knowledge, which others would have 
considered an end in themselves, were with 
him only the beginning, only a stepping-stone 
from which he might mount to higher things. 
It was in this period of his perfect development 
that he produced the ceiling of the Sistine 
Chapel, the " Moses," and the Medicean 
tombs, figures that are still almost, if not 
quite, as realistically true as the " Pisan Bat- 
tle," but in which the soul utters the burden 
of its grandest thoughts. 

/"But with the " Last Judgment " the decline 

[. /begins. These prodigious figures, with their 

muscles like knotted ropes, their surprising 

lattitudes, their amazing foreshortenings, are 



MICHELANGELO 69 

still immensely powerful, but they pass the 
modesty of nature. The era of mannerism 
has set in it is no longer nature that the 
master imitates, but himself, and his strength 
has become exaggeration. In the paintings of 
the Pauline Chapel the end has come the 
divine fire has burnt out nature has been for- 
gotten, and mannerism alone remains. 

Yet even now, when he has lost his empire 
over his own peculiar domain and the powers 
of the Titan seem exhausted, he invades 
another field, and, designing the dome of St. 
Peter's, so prodigious in its size, so harmonious 
in its proportions, so strong and yet so beauti- 
ful, he achieves the grandest triumph of modern 
architecture. 

Ages have passed, but he still remains the 
greatest name in art. The Greeks have none 
to compare with him. Phidias was only a 
sculptor, Ictinus only an architect, Apelles 
only a painter. Michelangelo was a sculptor 
by profession, and with extreme reluctance 
did he take up the brush, but only to project 
upon the Sistine's vault the sublimest forms 
that painting has produced. With still greater 



7<D RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

reluctance he took up the compass, but only to 

give the world the crowning glory of St. Peter's 

_dome. As painter, architect, or sculptor he 

has had no superior, and in his supreme mas- 

; tery of the three he stands unapproached and 

unapproachable. 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 
(1452-1519) 

IN Venice a painter was usually only a painter, 
a sculptor only a sculptor ; but in Florence 
it was customary for the same man to practice 
all the arts. Giotto was the foremost painter 
and architect of his day, and in sculpture he 
attained no mean distinction. And such was 
the case with many of his successors, until the 
school culminated in Michelangelo, who stood 
pre-eminent in all. 

But of Florentine versatility Leonardo is Jthe 
supreme expression. He embraced not only 
all the arts, but all the sciences. He was dis- 
tinguished as a military and civil engineer, as a 
geologist, geographer, and astronomer; he re- 
discovered the principles of the lever and 
hydraulics ; he was a great mathematician and 
machinist, an anatomist, a physiologist, and a 
71 



?2 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

chemist. He invented more mechanical de- 
vices than any man that ever lived unless it be 
Edison, some of them merely wonderful toys 
that delighted or terrified his contemporaries, 
others serviceable implements that are still in 
use, like the saws employed to-day at the quar- 
ries of Carrara, or the hoisting apparatus with 
which the obelisks of London and New York 
were lifted into position. He designed breech- 
loading cannon, and demonstrated the advan- 
tages of conical bullets. He invented the 
camera-obscura and boats that ran with wheels, 
and foresaw that the latter could be propelled 
by steam. He planned the great works of en- 
gineering that have controlled the courses of 
the Arno and the Po, and put a stop to their 
destructive floods. Not content to walk upon 
the earth, he devoted much time to the con- 
trivance of a flying-machine, studying the 
flight of birds, and trying to devise an instru- 
ment that could soar on extended wings above 
the mountains. 

But it was in penetrating the secrets of 
Nature that he is most amazing. She who 

I guards her secrets so carefully from us all, so 

I 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 73 

that we have to wrest them from her bit by 
bit, considering ourselves fortunate if after a 
lifetime of toil we have lifted but a little corner 
of the veil, welcomed him to her bosom with 
outstretched arms, and whispered into his ears 
her most hidden mysteries. He walked be- 
side the sea, and he understood that the waters 
were composed of countless molecules. He 
watched the billows in their rhythmical advance, 
and he comprehended that light and sound 
moved onward in succeeding waves. He trod 
the mountain summits, and he knew that they 
had been the bottom of the ocean when the 
fossil shells had been deposited there, and that 
they had since been raised aloft. He looked 
into the heavens, and perceived that the world 
was not the centre of created things, forestall- 
ing the discovery of Copernicus; and he saw 
that the universe was held together by the at- 
traction of gravitation. He gazed at the 
faintly illumined body of the new moon, and 
divined that it was the earth's reflection that 
lit it up. He loved all plants and animals, and 
comprehended their structure and their growth. 
He knew that the tides obeyed the moon, and 



74 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

that the waters of the sea must rise highest at 
the equator. And long before Bacon was born 
he perceived the barrenness of the scholastic 
philosophy, and laid down the principles of 
inductive reasoning. And yet, though he saw 
deeper into Nature than any one man ever 
saw, it is doubtful whether he ever took the 
trouble to mention his discoveries to a human 
being, contenting himself to set them down in 
those note-books written in strange characters 
running from right to left, and which we are 
now only beginning to decipher, continually 
surprised by some unexpected flash of preter- 
natural insight, and saddened to find that many 
a secret that we have since wrested from Na- 
ture with infinite toil was known to him and 
noted in his memoranda; while other notes 
which now seem obscure and incomprehensible 
are perhaps only revelations of a penetration 
transcending ours, and will one day be seen to 
foreshadow discoveries the most profound. 

And yet science was only the diversion of 
his leisure hours. He was by profession an 
artist, inscribing himself as a Florentine painter, 
and practicing also architecture and sculpture, 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 75 

poetry and music. The beauty of his person 
fascinated every beholder, while the charms of 
his eloquence enchanted every ear; and in ad- 
dition to his multifold occupations he was an 
accomplished courtier, the best swordsman of 
his time, and the leader of the brilliant revels 
and pageants in which the age rejoiced. 

It is not surprising that as a youth in Flor- 
ence he was courted and admired as youth has 
never been since the days of Alcibiades, or that 
when he went to Milan he took the court by 
storm. As he appeared before the duke in the 
strength and beauty of his early manhood with 
his hair falling in luxurious ringlets below his 
waist, holding in his hand his wonderful lute 
that he had fashioned of silver in the likeness 
of a horse's head and from which he drew 
notes sweeter than living man had heard, im- 
provising songs accompanied by music of his 
own composing, sung in tones of richest mel- 
ody, it must have seemed to the assembled 
courtiers that the heavens had opened and that 
Apollo Citharaedus was standing in their midst. 

That a man of such varied occupations 
should have produced little in art is not sur- 



76 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

prising ; but that that little should be so per- 
fect is astonishing, so rare is the combination 
of scientific and artistic genius, so difficult is it 
to look into the essence of things and yet be 
charmed with the beauty of their external 
forms. Yet there can be no doubt that among 
the countless works produced by that desire 
of beauty that dwells in every heart, none 
rank higher than the few that we owe to Leo- 
nardo's hand. 

Modern criticism has done a great deal for 
the reputation of the masters. It has freed 
them from responsibility for many unworthy 
productions ascribed to them by the vanity 
and self-interest of successive owners. But in 
Leonardo's case the result is in the highest 
degree confusing. A few years ago the Euro- 
pean galleries numbered many pictures con- 
ceded to his brush. The critics began their 
work of demolition, and there are no two whose 
lists agree ; while of the numerous paintings 
once attributed to him only the cartoon of the 
Royal Academy, the " Mona Lisa" and the 
decaying fresco of the " Last Supper" are 
admitted by all to be authentic. His works 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 77 

are the field where the modern criticism that 
has done so much for art is most vulnerable to 
the ridicule of its enemies. Still the doubt as 
to the genuineness of the paintings accredited 
to him does not greatly detract from their 
value as an insight into the character of his 
style. If not from his hand they are from 
craftsmen of his school, and in his genius their 
inspiration must be sought. 

Fecundity is almost an essential element of 
greatness. It is scarcely possible for a single 
work, however perfect, to entitle its author to 
a seat among the mighty witness Gray's Elegy 
and Poe's Raven ; and it is doubtful whether 
any other man so deficient in fecundity as 
Leonardo was ever numbered with the greatest. 
Yet no voice has been lifted to dispute his rank 
among the master spirits of all time. 

J$y what qualities has Leonardo been raised 
to this pre-eminence ? Tojp_egin with, he was 
the first perfect painter among the moderns. 
Compared with him, his predecessors are all 
primitives. Between their art and his there 
yawns an immense chasm. They are striving 
with doubtful success to give tangible form to 



?8 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

simple ideas; he bodies forth with consummate 
power thoughts too subtle and profound for 
vocal utterance. Childlike and sincere, their 
vision ranges over a narrow field, and depicts 
imperfectly the things that it beholds; while 
his powerful mind grasps the most hidden 
secrets of Nature and of the human heart, and 
his wizard fingers transfer them to the canvas 
with unerring skill. They are still mediaeval, 
while he is modern, belonging not to the past 
but to our own and all succeeding generations, 
one of those marvellous geniuses who outrun 
their time, like Omar Khayyam questioning 
the Deity among the blind followers of Ma- 
homet, or like Shakespeare writing the solilo- 
quies of Hamlet. In passing to his works from 
those of the most illustrious of his predecessors 
we perceive none of that gradual transition that 
we usually meet. Their art is an attempt his 
the perfection of achievement. They are 

^JLtui^C^ 

fascinating by their immaturity, he by the 
plenitude of his power. They are suggestive 
because we seek to realize what they were try- 

^***f$^*-%+*-*4. 

ing to express; he is infinitely more so because 
he represents more than our minds can seize. 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 79 

Of all artists Giotto alone has so far outleaped 
the men who went before. In the singular 
letter which Leonardo wrote to the Duke 
of Milan in his youth he said, " In painting I 
can do what can be done as well as any man, 
be he who he may," and his boast stands as 
good now as on the day when it was made. 
The first of the great triumvirate of art in point 
ofjime, he remains the most modern in the 
spirit of his work. We feel that he was familiar 
with all the thoughts that haunt us now, per- 
haps with some that will only come to our re- 
mote descendants. He was the first modern 
artist in whom absolute technical skill and a 
great creative mind went hand in hand, and in 
neither respect has he ever been surpassed. 

To Leonardo also must be accorded the 
supreme glory of being the first modern to in- 
vent grandeur of style. Before his day there / 
were strong and beautiful pictures, but the 
" Last Supper " was the first that was truly 
grand. And it is the genuine grandeur which 
depends not on largeness of dimensions, but 
which arises from the harmonious combination 
of nobility and simplicity, and shines forth in 




80 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

the smallest woodcut of the immortal work. 
Every line of the majestic composition, how- 
ever reduced in size, is marked by a grandeur 
which was a revelation to his contemporaries, 
and for the like of which they had to return to 
the shattered marbles of Greece. .1 The picture 
reminds one of Handel's music, which can be 
properly rendered only by a mighty organ or a 
full orchestra, and yet whose simple grandeur 
is apparent when it is played upon a flute. Its 
painting was like the discovery of some majes- 
tic harmony in nature of which men had never 
dreamed. In these thirteen figures seated at a 
table in a bare room with windows outlooking 
upon an extended prospect there is a dignity, 
an elevation, a majesty that came as an aston- 
ishment to the world ; while in the varied yet 
harmonious arrangement of the several groups, 
the full capacities of composition were first 
disclosed. When the picture was completed it 
was hailed as the masterpiece of painting, and 
succeeding ages have but joined in the acclaim. 
From Uggione's great copy in the Royal 
Academy to the cheapest print that adorns the 
humblest cottage every reproduction of it con- 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 8 1 

veys some impression of the grandeur of the 
original which, faded, repainted, and defaced, 
still charms us by the majesty of its shadowy 
outlines. If Leonardo had produced nothing 
else, his title to rank with the greatest could 
never be gainsaid. Grandeur of style is the 
highest merit that a work of art can possess, 
and of that supreme distinction he is the in- 
ventor. Had he never lived it might have 
been discovered by Michelangelo or Raphael; 
but who can say that without the " Last Sup- 
per " we should ever have had the " Creation 
of Man " or the " School of Athens " ? Had 
Columbus never sailed upon the Western seas 
another might have planted his foot upon 
America's shores; but the glory of the dis- 
covery is justly his; and we cannot determine 
with certainty what Raphael and Michelangelo 
would have done had not Leonardo taught 
them how such miracles are wrought. 

No man ever had such a mastery of facial 
expression. In portraying the human counte- 
nance he has the same undisputed supremacy 
that Michelangelo possesses in dealing with 
the human form. He looked quite through 

6 



82 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

the souls of men, and fixed them on his sketch- 
book or the canvas with unequalled skill. No 
expression is too violent or too grotesque to be 
depicted there, none too delicate or too evanes- 
cent. He understood the whole gamut of 
human feelings, the fiercest passions, the most 
fleeting sensations. His whole life was a study 
of the faces that he met, and the exquisite re- 
finement and accuracy of his drawing enabled 
him to fasten forever the surging frenzy of the 
storm or the shade that passed over the face for 
a moment like the shadow of a summer cloud. 

When occasion required, the meaning could 
be plain and comprehensible at a glance, as in 
the " Last Supper," where were to be seen all 
the manifestations of horror and amazement 
exhibited by strong men as Christ uttered the 
words, " One of you shall betray me." In 
the " Battle of Anghiari," or the " Battle of 
the Standard," as it is commonly called, the 
first great battle piece of modern times, we 
have every aspect of rage and fury of which 
the countenance of man or beast was ever 
capable. 

Nowhere can we better contrast Leonardo, 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 83 

Michelangelo, and Raphael than in their three 
great battle pieces. In Raphael's " Battle of 
Constantine " we are attracted by the harmony 
and rhythm of the contending masses, the 
beauty of the composition, the pomp, pride, 
and circumstance of glorious war. In Michel- 
angelo's " Battle of Pisa "it is the muscular 
development of the hurrying athletes. But 
with Leonardo it is the psychological interest 
the unspeakable rage of the struggling 
soldiers. His ancestors had known nothing 
of real war. The contests of the Italian mer- 
cenaries were little more than jousts and tour- 
neys, where fatalities were rare. But in his 
day the French, Germans, and Spaniards had 
made Italy the battle-ground of Europe, and 
had shown its inhabitants how war was carried A/ 
on by the barbarians across the Alps. Leo- 
nardo beheld it, and it seemed to him, in his 
own words, a most bestial frenzy. As such he 
has depicted it, and beside his masterpiece all 
other representations of the rage of battle are 
weak and tame. The insane fury, the fiendish 
hunger for blood that has changed the combat- 
ants into wild beasts having only the outward 




84 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

semblance of humanity extends even to the 
horses, which fight savagely, tearing each other 
with their teeth with all the ferocity of tigers. 
There is nothing glorious here all is fierce, 
realistic, horrible, the truest, strongest, most 
merciless picture of the human brute ravening 
for slaughter that has ever been drawn. In 
Raphael's painting we see war as it looks to 
the leaders from afar; in Michelangelo's, war 
as it appears to the soldiers preparing for the 
conflict; while Leonardo gives us war as it is 
in fact, in all its nameless horror. 

Leonardo's cartoon, like Michelangelo's, has 
disappeared, and we know it only by the 
copies ; but in his Treatise on Painting he gives 
us the best description of the appearance of a 
battle that has ever been penned, and as we 
know that he had the power to body forth 
every vision of his teeming brain, we have no 
reason to doubt that all the smoke and dust, 
the confusion, the frenzy and despair of which 
he speaks were to be seen in this cartoon. 
Even as it has come down to us it stands un- 
rivalled as a representation of war in its psy- 
chological significance. 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 85 

But while Leonardo thus excelled all others 
in depicting the violent passions of men, he 
delighted most in delineating faces of a charm 
so delicate and subtle that they remain as 
fathomless as those Alpine lakes whose smiling 
surface conceals abysmal depths. Upon most 
of them there is that strange smile extend- 
ing no further than the lips which he inherited 
from his master Verrocchio, but which beneath 
his magic touch changed from a pleasing smirk 
to a thing of profound and fascinating mystery. 

It is seen in its perfection on the lips of the 
" Mona Lisa," that marvellous portrait which 
Francis I. purchased at a price then almost un- 
heard of, and whose riddle succeeding genera- 
tions have striven in vain to read. In the 
Louvre she is still sitting, and every passer is 
constrained to stop, lured by that smile as by 
a siren's song, vainly demanding why she 
smiles and with what intent. Has she ex- 
hausted all the possibilities of pain and joy ; 
has she wandered through the streets of Sodom 
and by the waters of Damascus ; has she hung 
her harp upon the willows of Babylon ; has she 
danced with Messalina and supped with Nero; 



86 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

and does she smile to behold our innocence ? 
Has she sat with Apollo beside the Castalian 
stream, and is she still listening to the Muses' 
song ? Is she thinking of her liege lord Gio- 
condo, or dreaming of some guilty love ? Is 
it good or evil that is in those haunting eyes 
and on those smiling lips ? Perhaps Walter 
Pater, whose peculiar and super-refined genius 
brings him very close to Leonardo, has best 
divined her meaning: 

" The presence that thus rose so strangely 
beside the waters, is expressive of what in the 
ways of a thousand years man had come to 
desire. Hers is the head upon which all ' the 
ends of the world are come/ and the eyelids 
are a little weary. It is a beauty wrought out 
from within upon the flesh, the deposit, little 
cell by cell, of strange thoughts and fantastic 
reveries and exquisite passions. Set it for a 
moment beside one of those white Greek god- 
desses or beautiful women of antiquity, and 
how would they be troubled by this beauty 
into which the soul with all its maladies has 
passed ? All the thoughts and experience of 
the world have etched and moulded there, in 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 8? 

that which they have of power to refine and 
make expressive the outward form, the animal- 
ism of Greece, the lust of Rome, the reverie of 
the middle age with its spiritual ambition and 
imaginative loves, the return of the Pagan 
world, the sins of the Borgias. She is older 
than the rocks among which she sits ; like the 
vampire, she has been dead many times, and 
learned the secrets of the grave ; and has been 
a diver in deep seas, and keeps their fallen day 
about her ; and trafficked for strange webs with 
Eastern merchants ; and, as Leda, was the 
mother of Helen of Troy, and, as Saint Anne, 
the mother of Mary ; and all this has been to 
her but as the sound of lyres and flutes, and 
lives only in the delicacy with which it has 
moulded the changing lineaments, and tinged 
the eyelids and the hands." * 

Many others have sought to read her riddle, 
but she remains the most insoluble of mysteries, 
and pursues us with a haunting power pos- 
sessed by no other work save perhaps the " Mel- 
ancholia " of Albert Pjir^r. 

And this same charm is in the faces of all 

* The Renaissance, p. 134. 




88 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

his women, in those Madonnas which are so 
fascinating as revelations of subtlest woman- 
hood, and in his countless sketches of female 
heads. No man has ever penetrated so deeply 
into woman's heart, none has ever felt so 
strongly the enchantment of the eternal 
womanly, or transferred it to canvas with such 
consummate skill. 

He is not a lover of physical beauty. His 
types, if robbed of the charm of expression 
that transfigures them, would rarely be beauti- 
ful at all. His is a beauty that works from 
within outward, which existed in the soul be- 
fore it manifested itself in the face. Take it 
away, and the features attract no more some- 
times they would be merely commonplace, 
more frequently they would be simply strange. 

It is not all beauty that is suited to artistic 
treatment. Many exquisitely beautiful women 
are fit only for the adornment of a fashion plate 
they lack that nameless distinction which a 
picture must possess to be classed as art. This 
fashion-plate beauty made no appeal to Leo- 
nardo. He did not even value it at its worth. 
The only beauty that he cared for was the 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 89 

purely artistic beauty, beauty so thoroughly 
artistic that only the elect can realize the full 
extent of its subtle fascination. 

It is everywhere in Leonardo's genuine 
work, in the " Mona Lisa," in the Academy 
cartoon, in the " Madonna of the Rocks " of 
the National Gallery, in " La Vierge aux 
Rochers " and the " St. Anne " of the Louvre. 
Deprived of the refined, sensitive soul that 
shines through their eyes and quivers on their 
lips they would be plain enough ; but he who 
is insensible to their enthralling magic may 
well despair of ever comprehending art in its 
most exquisite manifestations. 

Leonardo's figures are the most spiritual ' 
that have ever been drawn. Beside them 
Michelangelo's are only athletes, Raphael's 
only innocents upon whose unstained brows 
sorrow and sin and love and hate have set no 
mark. Leonardo's have lived this life and 
drunk its cup of joy and anguish to the lees 
lived it with minds intensely active and nerves 
vibrating to passion's every thrill, and it is 
with their souls that they have lived souls 
that have trembled with rapture and quivered 



9O RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

with pain, and which have learned the lesson 
that their lives could teach. But they are not 
spiritual in the sense of religious. He was not 
a saintly man, and Vasari says in his firsc edi- 
tion, probably not without reason, that he was 
an unbeliever. But in humanity it was the 
spiritual essence that concerned him and not 
the fleshly envelope. 

Of all artists he was the greatest anatomist, 
unless it be Michelangelo. But how differently 
they studied and for what different ends! 
Michelangelo studied anatomy only to see what 
he could do with the human frame as a means 
of artistic expression. Leonardo investigated 
it as a scientific fact, and competent judges 
declare that his anatomical drawings are the 
most accurate that have ever been made. 
Michelangelo loved the body, and rejoiced to 
portray its strength and beauty. Leonardo 
painted no nude figure save the " Leda," 
which has disappeared, and even there it was 
the expression of the face that struck the be- 
holder, not the beauty of the form; and his 
sketches and drawings of the nude are hasty 
and defective. It was in the face that his art 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 91 

was centred, in the representation of the soul 
shining through mortal lineaments. Perhaps 
no one was ever so exclusively a painter of the 
soul. 

And as usual, exclusive devotion met with 
its reward. He caught the soul in the mo- 
ments when it seems most hidden to mortal 
sight, when it was listening to the music of the 
spheres, when it was wandering among dreams 
of unspeakable raptures and impossible sins, 
when it strayed with the women of Gomorrah 
or sat by the waters of Lethe. 

No man ever painted faces of such subtle 
charm or of so unsearchable a meaning; and 
as we stand before them we are impelled to in- 
quire whether they were mysteries also to him, 
or whether those penetrating eyes of his which 
saw so deeply into Nature's secrets could also 
read their strange enigmas. To us they remain 
as inscrutable as they are fascinating, and be- 
cause their riddle remains unread they haunt 
us yet with their inscrutable smile. 

There are no women whom men could love 
like Leonardo's, and none perchance whose 
love would be so dangerous. Age could not 




Q2 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

wither them, nor custom stale their infinite 
variety. Their empire would not be based 
upon the passing attractions of the flesh, but 
upon all that is subtle and alluring in the soul 
of woman. With the witchery of their smile 
they could change their lovers into brutes or 
lift them into heroes. They would be forever 
new because the shadowy depths of their being 
could never be sounded, and leaden-eyed 
Satiety would not wait upon their multiform 
caresses. They might be the sirens, the lamias, 
the vampires of old; they might be Lais or 
Cleopatra; to their subtle genius all things 
would be possible, and the man who fell be- 
neath the magic of their spell would find re- 
lease in death alone. When his soul was once 
caught in the witchery of that mysterious 
smile or in the shining meshes of those locks 
waving in uncontrolled luxuriance or bound in 
intricate braids above the arching brows, it 
might struggle as a butterfly in the web, but 
never could it burst its bonds. 

But it was not alone in the grandeur of his 
style or in his unequalled capacity to delineate 
the varying expressions of the human counte- 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 93 

nance that Leonardo advanced beyond his pred- 
ecessors ; no man has ever made greater 
changes in the technic of painting. Before 
his day men were content with line and color 
as the means of artistic utterance. He was 
the first to perceive that light and shade were 
equally important, and were capable of pro- 
ducing the most poetical and illusive effects. 
He did not invent chiaroscuro, but he was the / 
first to handle it as a master. In his pictures 
lights and shadows are treated with all the 
truth of nature, and they are full of bewitching 
loveliness, of mystery and charm. His chiar- 
oscuro is not brilliant like Correggio's, it is not 
full of luminous splendor like that of Rem- 
brandt; but it is deep and true. He experi- 
mented much with pigments, and as the effect 
of time upon them could only be determined 
with the lapse of years, he fell into errors never 
sufficiently to be deplored, which have lost for 
us the " Last Supper " and the portion of the 
" Battle of the Standard " that was executed 
upon the wall, and whose effects are only too 
visible in all his works. To deepen his shadows 
he painted upon a sombre groundwork, and ,/ 



94 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

the pigment of this having come through, it 
has darked all his pictures. The wonderful 
flesh tints of the " Mona Lisa" which filled 
Vasari with admiration have disappeared, and 
it is only with difficulty that we can distin- 
guish the fantastic rocks and meandering 
streams that fill the background. To convince 
ourselves that this darkening is not essential to 
the most perfect light and shade we need only 
turn to the other wall of the Salon Carr6 on 
which hangs Correggio's " Jupiter and An- 
tiope," still as bright as on the day when it 
left the painter's hand. But as Raphael and 
Michelangelo learned from Leonardo the 
grandeur of their style, so Correggio owes to 
him the bewitching charm of his chiaroscuro. 

Some complain of Leonardo that he enticed 
men from the pleasant paths of primitive art 
so that after him it was impossible to paint 
with the old simple directness. The observa- 
tion is just, but the reproach unfounded. No 
work can combine every merit, and every gain 
implies a corresponding loss. There can be 
no increase of power without some loss of deli- 
cacy, and what we gain in depth we lose in 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 95 

simplicity. A man who innovated so much as 
Leonardo, who converted the works of his pred- 
ecessors into relics of the past, and lifted art 
to a higher and a broader plane, necessarily 
bore it away from many a sweet dell where at 
times we still delight to linger; but his services 
were none the less conspicuous. He did 
nothing to degrade art ; he only exalted it to 
a perfection where certain charming qualities 
of the delicious primitives became impossible ; 
and if their pictures grow brighter and mellower 
with time while his have steadily darkened, 
that is due to the accidental use of unsatisfac- 
tory pigments and to the absence in their 
works of those delicate gradations of light and 
shade so essential to artistic truth. 

Nature never loved a son as she loved 
Leonardo, and to none other has she opened 
her bosom with such unreserve. And he re- 
turned her love with an equal devotion. She 
was his sole monitor, his only example. To 
her he went in all his perplexities ; from her he 
gathered every truth. While his contempo- 
raries were all powerfully affected by the re- 
mains of antique art, for him it did not exist. 



96 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

Only once in his Treatise on Painting does he 
mention the Greeks and Romans, and then 
not as objects of artistic imitation. The plas- 
tic beauty of form and feature that they ad- 
mired meant nothing for him ; the mysterious 
beauty of the soul for which he sought would 
have been incomprehensible to them. Amidst 
the countless faces that his sketch-books have 
preserved there is perhaps not one of classic 
purity of outline. Neither are they mediaeval, 
like Botticelli's. They are modern or, rather, 
they belong to all ages where the soul of man 
suffers and pants and yearns and is rejoiced. 

But though Leonardo turns so persistently 
to Nature, he was not a realist. He was never 
content with commonplace ugliness. He 
sought to penetrate Nature's remotest con- 
fines and pluck the rarest and most delicate 
flowers that blossom there unseen by common 
eyes. He was a seeker after things that are 
beautiful and exotic, the exquisite orchids, fed 
by the air and the dew, that bloom in life's 
tangled garden. It is Nature that attracts 
him, but it is Nature in her most refined and 
subtlest revelations. 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 97 

His devotion to Nature is apparent not only 
in his studies of the human countenance, 
but in his treatment of every leaf and flower. 
He paints them with a skill, a tenderness, an 
accuracy, which reveal not merely his botanical 
knowledge, but his affection. He loved all 
living things, and he would spend large sums 
in buying birds that he might open their cages 
and watch them fly away. In his long study 
for Sforza's statue he acquired the most 
thorough comprehension of the anatomy and 
movements of the horse that any man has ever 
possessed, and he was so attached to his horses 
that in the moments of his greatest adversity 
nothing could induce him to part with them. 
His fondness extended even to inanimate 
nature, particularly when it manifested itself 
in unusual forms; and he paints his fantastic 
rocks with the same care as his Madonna's 
smile. 

One of the things that he loved most was 
human hair. His own was the admiration of 
his contemporaries, and he loved hair in all its 
multifold shapes and varying colors, and 
painted it with an unequalled patience of de- 

7 



98 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

tail,. so that each gleaming thread is distinctly 
seen. It appears to fascinate him, and he 
represents it in every conceivable way, now 
freely flowing, now arranged in intricate de- 
signs of marvellous conception. 

And to the same love of Nature we owe that 
interest in all things strange and curious that 
seems to have been the strongest passion of 
his life. Rare plants and flowers, singular ani- 
mals, above all, fantastic rocks such as haunt 
the dreams of poets, and unusual faces, having 
in them something extraordinary, whether of 
ugliness or beauty, had for him a resistless 
charm. Insects and reptiles of the most hid- 
eous aspect, countenances the most grotesque 
and repulsive, allured him as much as forms of 
benignity and grace. He would gather rude 
peasants about him and excite them to laugh- 
ter by unseemly jests that he might fix upon 
his note-book their bestial mirth. He would 
stand beside the dying criminal, and watch 
him writhing in the agony of the execution ; 
or he would follow a crippled beggar that he 
might preserve the record of his deformity. 
All that was abnormal, all that was strange and 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 99 

curious, had for him an attraction in no way 
dependent on its inherent worth. 

His fondness for strange things is also mani- 
fested in that fashion of writing from right to 
left, which makes his manuscripts so difficult 
to decipher that a great part of them still re- 
tain their secrets. Some writers have accounted 
for it by those wanderings through the East 
which his papers seem to put beyond question, 
though Vasari knew nothing of them; but 
many have travelled there without that result. 
Others, again, explain it by the fact that he 
was left-handed ; but the world is full of left- 
handed men who still write in the normal man- 
ner. It could only have been a part of that 
seeking after strange things that was an es- 
sential element of his genius. 

Was it this same love of Nature that caused 
him to paint St. John as a smiling faun such 
as thronged the forests when Greece was 
young ? A face closer to Nature in her smiling 
moods it would be difficult to find. He is one 
of the joyous children of universal Pan, such a 
face as we should look to see peering out of 
the thicket in spring when a bird is singing on 



IOO RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

every bough and every bramble is a mass of 
flowers. He is not the pale anchorite of the 
desert, the voice crying in the wilderness. He 
is not even Christian. By a kinship of soul, 
by the same love for the beauty of woodland 
nature, Leonardo has returned unconsciously 
to the early pagan spirit, and has created a 
type which is perhaps the most profoundly 
pagan of any that we possess; and the pupil 
who has taken the same conception, crowned 
it with vine-leaves and converted it into the 
beautiful " Bacchus " that sits in the Louvre 
beside the " St. John ' ' had a truer sense of the 
character of the work. 

Leonardo is the most thoughtful of all 
painters unless it be Albert Durer. The mind 
and its infinite suggestions are his realm. 
.! With Raphael it is beauty and harmony, with 

Michelangelo it is passion and strength, with 
him it is thought and feeling thought so deep 
that voice can never utter it, feelings so sensi- 
tively delicate, so preternaturally refined that 
they elude our grasp; and he is full of all 
sorts of curious questionings, of intricate ca- 
prices mingled with sublime conceptions. No 



LEONARDO DA VINCI IOI 

mind of power so versatile and penetrating 
was ever devoted to artistic effort. The time 
that he spent in scientific investigation has 
been regretted, but it was not lost, even to 
art. Had he been less intent to know the 
hidden mystery of things he might have pro- 
duced more; but would it have been worth 
the smile of the " Mona Lisa" or the faces 
of the Academy cartoon ? The world is full of 
commonplace painters whose production is un- 
limited ; is it not better to have the few master- 
pieces of Leonardo, full of subtle witchery 
drawn from the inmost heart of nature and of 
man, than all their shallow works ? We must 
accept him as he is. His mind was too vast, 
too subtle, for him to be a largely creative 
artist. He saw too deeply into the essence of 
things to be content with facile hand to depict 
their surfaces. His visions were so beautiful 
that he despaired of giving them tangible 
shapes, and preferred to leave them in the 
realm of dreams. Perhaps he cared not to 
bring them forth to public view, just as he was 
content with merely jotting down in his note- 
book discoveries which we have since remade 



IO2 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

with infinite toil. Perhaps he wished to do 
more than art could, and so accomplished less 
than it might. But the little that we possess 
gives us a deeper insight into nature and the 
human heart than we should otherwise have 
had, and is as precious as it is rare. Had he 
not been so curious of other things he would 
have painted more, but he could not have 
painted as he did. 

Of Leonardo we have only one authentic 
portrait, a powerful drawing in red chalk by 
his own hand, representing himself in his old 
age, and it is the saddest portrait that was 
ever made. It is a strong face with beetling 
brows and piercing eyes, but its expression is 
one of bitterest disenchantment. He is the 
man to whom Nature had opened her bosom 
as to no other that ever lived, who read as in 
an open book the most hidden secrets of the 
human heart, and the only result is an inex- 
pressible bitterness, an unutterable scorn for 
man and perhaps for Nature. With all his 
Herculean strength, he died of exhaustion at 
sixty-seven, an age at which Michelangelo 
and Titian were in their prime, and we can 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 103 

imagine him upon his death-bed muttering 
to himself, " Vanity of Vanities, all is Van- 
ity. He who increaseth Knowledge increaseth 
Sorrow." 



TITIAN 



IN Titian the Renaissance culminates. The 
revolt against the Middle Ages, which be- 
gan timidly with Niccolo Pisano, achieved in 
him its completest triumph. Raphael com- 
promised with the past, and fused the mediaeval 
and classic conceptions into a new ideal of ever- 
lasting beauty. Rejecting the mediaeval spirit, 
Titian, although he painted some of the noblest 
of religious pictures, was essentially a pagan, 
with all a Greek's joy in the dignity of man, 
the beauty of woman, and the charm of nature ; 
loving them for what they are, and with no 
vain aspirations toward a higher spiritual life. 
Most of the Renaissance masters are still strug- 
gling with the Middle Age, endeavoring with 
only partial success to escape from the prison 
in which it has confined their souls. Titian 
104. 



TITIAN IO5 

has conquered his freedom, or rather was 
born free, and if the Middle Age exists for 
him at all, it is only as a hideous nightmare 
which he has almost forgotten in the golden 
sunshine of a perfect day. Life, which to 
the mediaeval conception was only a gloomy 
portal leading to death and judgment, is to 
him a thing of infinite beauty, dignity, and 
health. 

We are only now recovering the position to 
which Titian had attained. The Protestant 
Reformation, followed by the Catholic Reac- 
tion, the Spanish Inquisition, and the religious 
wars, swept away the bright spirit of youthful 
joy and freedom which thrilled the men of the 
Italian Renaissance, and plunged the world 
into a darkness almost as black and even 
bloodier and more hideous than the night of 
the Middle Ages. This terrible tempest of 
bigotry and wrath has thundered past us, and 
for two hundred years the clouds that it left 
behind have been drifting slowly by, so that 
at length we can again look at the world with 
Titian's eyes, rejoicing in its life and beauty, 
though rather with the saddened gaze of his 



106 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

later years than with the idyllic freshness of 
his early prime. 

In his broad sanity, his masterful serenity, 
his perfect control of the resources of his art, 
he reminds us of Goethe in his Olympian days 
at Weimar; but unlike Goethe he had no 
Gothic period, no season of storm and stress. 
From the time when he came to Venice, look- 
ing with the wonder of a mountain lad on the 
dazzling splendor of the Ocean's Queen, until 
in his hundredth year he laid down his brush 
at the summons of the plague, he is ever the 
same, with an unchanging sense of the dignity 
of life and of nature's beauty, with the same 
broad comprehension of humanity, and the 
same exclusive devotion to his art. We see 
the tree grow until its branches reach far and 
wide, but its symmetrical form remains un- 
altered. To the end of his unexampled career 
he follows the same path, ever upward and on- 
ward, patiently, firmly, without haste and 
without rest. The joy of existence and the 
love of beauty for its own sake never desert 
him, and the Venuses which he painted when 
oppressed by the burden of a century have all 



TITIAN ID/ 

the voluptuous charm of those that he depicted 
in his lusty manhood. Who that looks upon 
the " Sleeping Antiope " of the Louvre or the 
" Venus and her Nymphs Equipping Cupid " 
of the Borghese Gallery, would imagine that 
they are the work of one who had already at- 
tained an age that few indeed have reached ? 

In the handling of the brush he was the 
greatest painter of all time. Others may be 
more inspired, but in brush-work he surpasses 
everyone. He can paint with the detail of 
Albert Diirer or the breadth of Velasquez, and 
seems to exhaust every possibility of his craft, 
tone, color, texture, perspective, chiaroscuro, 
drawing, composition. In particular qualities 
there are others who can surpass him ; but no 
other brings to the technic of painting a pro- 
ficiency so perfect and so varied. He is the 
most rounded and complete of painters, and 
therefore the hardest to describe. If a man 
has a phenomenally long nose or a monstrous 
head, we can strike off his portrait in a few 
words ; but when he is faultless in his propor- 
tions, his accurate characterization becomes a 
matter of extreme difficulty. 




108 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

The Venetians were always the most skilful 
painters of the Renaissance. Painting is color ; 
and of color the Venetians were the supreme 
masters. Their merchants traded with the 
Levant, bringing back the gorgeous fabrics of 
the East. They beheld the splendor of the 
Orient, and transferred it to their city, adorn- 
ing their buildings like the mosques and palaces 
of Cairo and Damascus. Beneath their feet 
was the emerald sea and above their heads the 
azure dome of heaven. The ocean mists were 
tinged with a thousand hues, while far away 
were the purple summits of the Alps. And 
who can tell what effect was produced upon 
their art by those gorgeous sunsets across the 
Lagunes that Aretino has described so well ? 
What painter could look upon that pageant of 
gold and crimson without wishing to preserve 
it on his canvas ? Hemmed in by his moun- 
tains clothed in the pale green of their olives, 
a Florentine rarely saw the perfect glory of a 
sunset; but the Venetian lived in an ever- 
changing pageant of color. It became to him 
the most essential part of life, the very sub- 
stance of existing things. Every Venetian 



TITIAN 



painter was therefore a colorist, and of them 
all v Titian is the most complete. Giorgione is 
sometimes more luminous, Bonifazio brighter, 
Tintoretto more startling, Veronese more 
stately, and if they could all be combined in 
one, Titian would be surpassed; but no one 
of them has such perfect mastery of color's 
varied resources. They are all limited in their 
range, while he is universal. And no one ever 
knew how to use color so appropriately. He 
understands what exact tints will enhance the 
effect of every picture. From the brilliant 
hues of his bacchanals, which recall the emer- 
ald islands of the sparkling ^Egean, and the 
glorious splendor of his "Assumption," where 
heaven's own light seems streaming through 
its gates, to the darkness of his " Entomb- 
ment " that so heightens the agony of the 
scene, he adapts his color to his subject with a 
skill that is all his own. And when we consider 
that these colors which we now admire so 
much have been dimmed and faded by the 
lapse of more than three centuries, we may well 
be amazed at the thought of what they must 
have been in their pristine glory. 



1 10 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

Yet this result is produced by comparatively 
simple means. He was not a searcher after 
strange and recondite pigments. His palette 
was not peculiar, embracing only the hues 
within the reach of every painter, and he dif- 
fered from others only in his patient industry 
and consummate skill, an industry so tireless 
that he worked upon his pictures for years, 
going over them again and again and altering 
them repeatedly, a skill so great that many 
have doubted whether it was oil that he em- 
ployed, surmising that he possessed some 
vehicle known to himself alone an idea that 
seems to be without foundation. 

Color is perhaps the most enchanting element 
of beauty. The most perfect features cannot 
redeem a face if the complexion be bad, while 
a dazzling complexion will lend an alluring 
charm to lineaments the most irregular. So, 
too, color is the essence of life, as pallor is 
death's most striking ensign. It is therefore 
only to be expected that Titian should excel 
all other painters in depicting beauty, as he 
excels all save only Rubens, the mighty color- 
ist of the North, in imparting a sense of vital- 



TITIAN 1 1 1 

ity. And while Rubens surpasses him in the 
intensity of vital energy, he falls far below in 
appreciation of life's dignity and grace. 

It is the fashion in recent years to belittle 
Titian as a religious painter ; but his are among 
the most splendid religious pictures that we 
possess. It is true that he treats them from a 
human standpoint, but was not Christ also a 
man, and were not his disciples men ? The rock 
on which devotional painters split is the face of 
Christ. In trying to make it divine while pre- 
serving its meekness and humility they gener- 
ally make it weak and unmanly. In the effort 
to do more than is in the power of art, they 
fall below what they might accomplish. Into 
this trap Titian never falls ; and since the de- 
struction of Leonardo's " Last Supper," which 
was also treated from a purely human stand- 
point, probably the finest head of Christ that 
we possess is in Titian's " Tribute Money." 
It is impossible to conceive a nobler face, or to 
imagine a loftier or gentler expression of re- 
proach, or a finer contrast than is presented by 
the cunning Pharisee beside the exalted Christ. 

And of all the glorious altar-pieces that Chris- 



112 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

tian art has furnished, the most magnificent is 
the " Assumption^ " It provokes comparison 
with Raphael's "Transfiguration," and in this 
instance the palm must be awarded to Titian. 
It is a perfect composition, all centering in the 
stately figure of the Madonna, to whose face 
the eye is irresistibly drawn from every part of 
the canvas; while Raphael's is in reality two 
pictures in one, and the drama going on at the 
foot of the mountain is so much fuller of 
human interest than that upon the summit 
that the eye lingers there instead of soaring 
upward. It has been said that the figure of 
the Madonna is too matronly; but Titian is 
right, both in point of fact and in point of art. 
The Virgin was no longer young she was the 
mother of a son who had died at the age of 
thirty-three, and she must have been fully as 
mature as she is represented. And if you 
doubt the correctness of his artistic judgment, 
imagine a slender, girlish figure in the centre 
of this vast composition and bearing all its 
weight. The balance and majesty of the 
picture would be destroyed. Then it is said 
that the Apostles below are too agitated. 



TITIAN 113 

Even in those days it was not an every-day 
affair for a person to be carried to heaven 
by exultant angels. The amazement of the 
Apostles was therefore natural ; and when we 
consider that she who was thus snatched from 
their midst by the angelic host in a burst of 
light and song was one whom they loved and 
reverenced with an absolute devotion, their 
agitation is no greater than we should expect. 
When we consider the splendor of the color, 
the unity of the composition, the majesty of 
the Madonna, the strength of the Apostles, the 
beauty of the angels, particularly of the three 
exquisite young girls upon the right, it is dif- 
ficult to name another altar-piece that can stand 
beside this. In particular features it may be 
excelled, but as a whole it is unsurpassable. 

To value aright the greater part of Titian's 
religious pictures, such as the " Pesaro Ma- 
donna " and the " Presentation of the Virgin 
in the Temple," we must understand the re- 
ligious feeling of Venice. The Venetian was 
as completely absorbed in his city as a Roman 
of the Republic. He lived for Venice alone, 
and scarcely had a separate existence. He 

8 



114 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

conceived religion not so much as a matter of 
personal worship as of state ceremonial. He 
was first a Venetian and then a Christian. Of 
the Italian cities Venice alone is personified by 
her citizens like Rome, seated upon her throne 
as mistress of the sea while the nations lay 
their tribute at her feet. The Venetian who 
looked upon her beauty saw in her the god- 
dess of his idolatry, and her faith was his. 
From her grandeur he derived the idea of his 
stately and ceremonial religion, which in the 
hands of Titian is so noble and dignified, but 
which with Veronese is to degenerate into a 
splendid but worldly pageant. 

And it was with this conception of religion 
as a state function that Titian painted. If we 
consider his pictures as something to take into 
our closet as a stimulus to personal devotion, 
we shall be much disappointed ; but if we place 
ourselves in his point of view, we shall perceive 
that nothing could be worthier or more appro- 
priate that the grand solemnities of a state 
religion could not be more nobly rendered. 

The sense of humanity which gives so much 
life and interest to his religious pictures makes 






TITIAN 115 

of him the greatest of portrait painters. In 
this line even Raphael, Rubens, Van Dyck, 
and Velasquez must yield the palm to him. 
The vital realism of his portraits is unsur- 
passed, and is combined with a sense of human 
dignity that gives them an unique distinction. 
How much of this dignity was in the subject 
and how much in the painter it is now impos- 
sible to determine. We should deem him a 
flatterer were it not that the three portraits 
where he had most interest to please, those of 
Paul III., Charles V., and Philip II., are so 
cruelly realistic. Paul appears as a gaunt, 
treacherous wolf, while it is difficult to believe 
that the protruding under-jaw and sickly phy- 
sique of Charles and Philip were less attractive 
than they are represented. Of all his portraits 
these possess perhaps the least of his peculiar 
dignity, and we are forced to conclude that he 
only rendered nobly the qualities which his 
sitters in fact possessed. 

The Venetian nobility were a superior race. 
Venice gave to her nobles wealth and power, 
but, as we have said, she exacted in return the 
exclusive consecration of their lives. To find 



Il6 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

an equal absorption of the citizen in his city 
we must go back to Sparta or to Rome. The 
Venetian loved Venice with an intense devo- 
tion that made exile the worst of punishments, 
so that, like the young Foscari, he preferred 
to die at home beneath the torture rather than 
to be a wanderer in foreign lands. The life of 
the Venetian nobility was one of labor and 
danger, and they stood at all times ready to 
toil and bleed and die for Venice. Yet their 
intense patriotism involved no narrowness of 
view. Their commerce brought them into 
contact with all the nations of the earth, and 
they were continually sent on missions of war 
and peace to foreign capitals. In this busy 
life, with their minds full of lofty purposes and 
unalterable resolve, they acquired something 
of that calm, masterful dignity that made the 
ambassadors of Pyrrhus see in the Roman 
senate a council of the gods. Such men were 
Titian's friends and associates, and their proud, 
thoughtful faces he transferred to the canvas. 
His own genius enabled him to understand 
them, and their society helped him to attain 
their level. His portraits are therefore not 






TITIAN 117 

merely marvels of execution they give us an 
enhanced appreciation of man's dignity and 
worth. 

He is the painter of humanity. In the 
breadth and sanity of his conception of man 
and his environment he has no superior save 
Shakespeare, whom he resembles in many 
ways. He does not, like Raphael, idealize 
human nature and lift it to a higher plane. 
Like Shakespeare he accepts it as it is, but 
from the herd he chooses the noblest and fair- 
est types. And he is the painter of the flesh. 
The mediaeval notion that the flesh is hateful 
and unclean found no lodgment in his mind. 
He appreciated its beauty with the simplicity 
of a Greek, and had as much delight in its 
representation. The forms of his women are 
as rounded and voluptuous as art can make 
them, but as sane and wholesome as Grecian 
goddesses. He has all a Greek's joy in sensu- 
ous beauty, but he is always healthy and virile, 
never corrupt or coarse. Except in some cases 
where he is constrained by the necessities of 
portraiture, he gives to his nude Venuses 
something of the dignity of Venetian senators. 



Il8 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

Venetian painting was allowed to develop 
along the lines of pure decoration, almost en- 
tirely unaffected by those classical influences 
that moulded the art of Florence. And this 
was a great good fortune. The Florentine 
school could not have been surpassed in its 
special qualities, and as it is we have two 
manifestations of artistic genius as different as 
if they had grown up in remote regions of alien 
race, the one the product of thought and study, 
the other as spontaneously beautiful as a 
flower. By their contrast each enhances the 
other's interest, and both are essential to the 
glorious harmony of the Renaissance. 

Of all the arts painting was the one which 
on its revival was least affected by the art of 
antiquity. It was not until long afterward, 
when Pompeii and Herculaneum were un- 
covered, that men acquired any adequate con- 
ception of the style of painting practised 
among the ancients; and the influence of an- 
tique art on painting was indirect, working 
through the medium of sculpture. This is one 
reason why the painting of the Renaissance is 
so superior. It is spontaneous and original; 



TITIAN IIQ 

and particularly was this true in Venice. 
There were no remains of ancient statuary to 
be found in her lagunes, and she was too much 
occupied with war and commerce to import 
them. Her attention was directed not to the 
dead past, but to the living East and her per- 
ennial contest with the Turk. Yet in its spirit 
Venetian painting is far nearer to Greece than 
that of Florence. There was no conscious 
imitation, but the Venetians were imbued with 
the same sentiments a respect for the dignity 
of man and a love for the beauty of nature. 
And of this revived spirit of antiquity, this 
new flowering of humanity, this unconscious 
neo-paganism, Titian is the supreme exponent. 
The first to realize it fully was Giorgione, 
who revolutionized the art of Venice, so that 
all men had to follow in his footsteps or be 
forgotten. He was a fellow-pupil of Titian in 
Bellini's workshop, and they appear to have 
been born in the same year; but it seems to be 
universally conceded that it was Giorgione who 
invented the new style. He, however, did not 
advance beyond the idyl. He felt as no artist 
has ever felt the sweet poetry of nature, so 



120 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

joyous and yet so near to melancholy, that we 
find in Daphnis and Chloe and in Theocritus; 
but he found that domain so charming that he 
sought no further. Titian adopted Giorgione's 
spirit and method, and in the " Sacred and 
Profane Love" and the "Three Ages of 
Man " presented them to perfection. But he 
was not content to remain there. He de- 
veloped the new art in every direction, and 
applied it to the most varied and important 
themes. In his hands it gradually lost some- 
thing of its poetry, but it gained immensely in 
dignity and breadth. 

Her absorption in practical affairs also pre- 
cluded Venice from becoming a literary centre, 
and preserved her art from the literary bias 
that is visible upon the mainland. The de- 
mands which she made upon the time and 
energies of her nobles were too great to allow 
them much leisure for literary pursuits. The 
love of fame which led the Italian princes to 
gather around them scholars and poets to per- 
petuate the memory of their exploits was for- 
bidden by the jealous oligarchy which ruled in 
Venice, and which insisted sternly upon the 



TITIAN 121 

principle of equality among the governing 
class. Though on account of her freedom and 
her commercial advantages she had long been 
the centre of the book-trade, it was only when 
the Spanish Inquisition had rendered intellec- 
tual life throughout the Peninsula a thing of 
extremest danger that the humanists sought an 
asylum in Venice, where they found the same 
protection that England has afforded to the 
political refugees of later days. But they 
came only after Venice had formed her style 
of painting, and too late to produce a marked 
effect either upon its spirit or its practice. The 
Venetian princes had encouraged art only be- 
cause it had served to decorate the city they 
loved so well. Hence the decorative element, 
not the illustrative, remained paramount in 
Venetian painting. Some, like Giorgione, 
never grasped at all the idea of illustration. 
Several of his pictures, which Herr Franz 
Wickhoff has demonstrated to have been in- 
tended as illustrations of classic authors, are so 
ineffectual as such that they have been always 
mistaken for charming but incomprehensible 
allegories. 



122 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

p 

So it was with Titian in his early days. The 
wonderfully beautiful picture in the Borghese 
collection of two women, one nude and the 
other richly draped, seated beside a fountain 
in which a Cupid is playing, has always been 
known by the absurd title of " Sacred and 
Profane Love," and has been considered a 
profound allegory, though none could say 
.which was the sacred and which the profane. 
Now, however, the same eminent scholar has 
shown that it was painted to illustrate the 
Argonautica of Valerius Flaccus, and repre- 
sents Venus persuading Medea to fly with 
Jason that it is one of those subjects sug- 
gested to the painter by the scholars who had 
sought refuge in Venice, as was also perhaps 
the picture entitled the " Three Ages of 
Man." 

This incapacity to conceive of art otherwise 
than as decoration, which remained with Gior- 
gione till his death, was overcome by Titian, 
and the passages chosen from the Erotes of 
Philostratus and the Epithalamium of Peleus 
and Thetis of Catullus could not have been 
better rendered than they are in the " Worship 



TITIAN 123 

of Venus " and the " Bacchus and Ariadne," 
whose meaning is apparent at a glance. 

Titian's progress in composition is conspicu- 
ous. At first he seems to have painted pictures 
mostly for the beauty of the individual figures; 
but later he displayed great skill in composing 
a skill only surpassed by that of Raphael, 
and which he perhaps owed in some measure 
to his visit to Rome and his study of the lat- 
ter's masterpieces. Still, even to the end he 
was uncertain in composition, often splendid, 
generally good, but sometimes strangely de- 
fective. 

It has been said that he was no draughts- 
man, but the charge shows a misconception of 
his art. Drawing implies an insistence upon 
the outline, and the greatest draughtsmen are 
those who render the outline with the greatest 
power. Titian was not of these. His system 
implied the subordination of the outline. He 
rendered form by color, light and shade and 
atmosphere, as Nature does, and in his proc- 
esses he was truer to Nature's methods than 
Michelangelo. The outline of his figures is 
rarely prominent, but the figures themselves 



124 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

are admirably modelled, and in his " St. Peter 
Martyr" he displayed a power of drawing 
that Michelangelo himself might envy, together 
with a feeling for landscape of which the great 
Florentine was wholly destitute. -That picture 
shows that if he had wished to be a draughts- 
man he could have ranked with th*e Jrig$es$Q 
but he preferred the domain of color, light, 
and air. Michelangelo was in Venice while it 
was being painted, and perhaps influenced its 
style. This, however, is doubtful, for the 
" Danae " that Titian painted in Rome is thor- 
oughly Venetian. 

In his work he generally preferred repose or 
quiet movement, but when he desired he could 
be agitated and dramatic. He understood that 
it is pleasantest to live with pictures of serene 
and tranquil beauty, but when the occasion 
demanded he was a master of vehement action 
and intense emotion. 

He was not a great anatomist like Michel- 
angelo. He did not love the body for its 
framework of bones and muscle, but for the 
beauty of its fleshly covering. And no one 
has rendered this so well. The female types 



TITIAN 125 

that he prefers are voluptuous and full, so that 
the muscles are rarely seen, and as they are 
fitted rather for repose than for action, he 
shows them seated or reclining, sometimes in 
princely palaces, sometimes upon the sward 
beneath overarching trees or beside the sea. 
He is the painter of woman's form, as Leo- 
nardo is the painter of her soul ; and his women, 
so beautiful and so healthy, often with that 
hair of reddish gold that has acquired his name, 
stand among modern works where the Venus 
of Cnidus did among the ancient. 

He is sensuous but never gross. He remains 
always an aristocrat to his finger-tips. Amongst 
the commonplace and vulgar types that cover 
the walls of our modern salons his women 
would reign as queens. He painted them for 
the great of the earth, for the princes and 
nobles with whom he associated, not for the 
vulgar populace. 

And, indeed, no modern populace has suffi- 
ciently shaken off the Middle Ages properly to 
enjoy the nude. When certain men appeared 
naked before the Empress Livia, and her ser- 
vants would have chastised them, she forbade 



126 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

it, saying, " Let them alone; to a pure woman 
they are only statues." But to the modern 
populace statues are only naked men and 
women. In Titian's time, however, as with 
us to-day, many of the intelligent classes had 
passed beyond that stage, and for them he 
painted, producing works which, however dif- 
ferent in their mode of treatment, would have 
delighted the companions of Pericles, and 
would have been hailed with universal ac- 
clamation by that beauty-loving people who 
assembled in multitudes to gaze upon the 

charms of Phryne or of Lais. 

' 

He was a master of many manners. He 
began with the idyllic style of Giorgione, in 
which is to be found the sweetest essence of 
bucolic poetry. But he passed on to the 
splendid realism of his portraits, the grand 
style of his "Assumption," the agony of his 
' Entombment," and the unspeakable torture 
of his " Mocking of Christ." No painter save 
only Raphael has covered so wide a field, or 
covered it so well. 

But in one respect he was the very antithesis 
of Raphael. As if conscious that his life and 



TITIAN 127 

vigor were to be prolonged to an unexampled 
degree, he was in no haste, though he rested 
not, and his development was slow; while 
Raphael, as if aware that, like Achilles, his 
career was to be as brief as glorious, developed 
at the earliest moment, and crowded into his 
narrow span every possible activity. 

Though his masterful repose was removed 
as far as possible from Byron's storm and 
stress, in two respects they were strikingly 
alike they had a more intense and personal 
comprehension of woman's beauty than any- 
one else has had, and an unequalled feeling 
for nature, a sort of pantheistic sense of being 
a part j)f the inanimate world. 

Titian was the first in modern times to paint 
a landscape. There were many fine landscapes 
before his day, and landscape-painting has 
achieved few greater triumphs than in his 
master Bellini's " Agony in the Garden," with 
that awful light in the east proclaiming the 
lurid dawning of the fatal day. But they were 
only backgrounds. Titian was the first to 
paint a landscape for itself alone. The land- 
scape, too, is an important part of nearly all his 



128 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

pictures, and it is as appropriate as his colors. 
It smiles with the joyous, it weeps with the 

sorrowing, it thunders with the wrathful., It 

is not, as with Raphael, nature dominated by 
man ; it is man and nature as inseparable parts 
of a pantheistic whole, laughing, wailing, curs- 
ing together, and each answering to the other's 
mood. He, too, painted a great battle-piece, 
which has perished, and which we know only 
by engravings and his sketch. It is not so 
passionate as Leonardo's, nor so harmonious as 
Raphael's; but it differs from both in the in- 
sistence upon the landscape, and in the violent 
tempest by which Nature contributes to the 
tumult of the strife. 

He was the first to understand the grandeur 
and the mystery of the mountains. To the 
ancients and to his contemporaries they were 
simply horrid and forbidding. He was born 
among them, and he loved them with a moun- 
taineer's devotion to his home. But he knew 
how to use them for artistic purposes. He 
knew that the barren desolation of mountain 
regions soon wearies the eye, and that the true 
function of mountains in landscape-painting is 



TITIAN 129 

as a background to verdant and alluring scenes. 
As such they are supremely effective, lending 
grandeur and sublimity to a view which would 
otherwise be only pretty. Of all painters he 
uses mountains with the greatest felicity. In 
most of his pictures his native Dolomites, far 
away, as he saw them from Venice or the ad- 
jacent mainland, stand out blue in the distance, 
enveloping the landscape with a sense of 
mystery and awe. He was the greatest of 
landscape-painters until Claude Lorraine, and 
in breadth exceeded him, passing from the 
idyllic suavity of Giorgione's scenes to the 
desolate horror which forms the appropriate 
setting to St. Peter's death. 

Like Raphael he is a painter to live with. 
He is not a striver after the unattainable, a 
wearier of the flesh, like Michelangelo. With 
him there is no strife between mind and body. 
Each is suited to the other, and repose and 
harmony result. He is the painter of man as 
a citizen of the world, of woman as a thing of 
beauty, all placed in a suitable environment. 
He is mundane and human, while Raphael 

soars above the earth, but he is equally serene, 

I 



I3O RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

and he lends to our mortal life a dignity and a 
beauty that we can never contemplate too 
often. He may not lift us up, but he gives us 
a keener and a fuller sense of the worthiness 
of terrestrial things. 



CORREGGIO 
(1494-1534) 

CORREGGIO is a Greek of the Ionian 
Isles, the fit companion of Sappho, of 
Alcaeus, of Anacreon, full of the joy of life, 
of the adoration of physical beauty, blithe as a 
skylark, lovely as the morning. The return to 
the pagan spirit is not with him the result 
of study and conscious effort, as with most of 
his contemporaries ; he was born a pagan of the 
gladsome days when the forests were full of 
fauns and dryads, when a nymph lay hidden in 
every fountain, when the wilderness trembled 
with the sighs of the amorous Pan. How such 
a spirit survived the darkness and sorrow of 
the Middle Ages, its joy undimmed, its bright- 
ness untarnished, fresh as in the days when 
Apollo watched the flocks of Admetus on the 
Thessalian plains, is one of those problems of 
which there is no solution. 
131 



I3 2 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

He is the painter of joy, of a dithyrambic 
ecstasy which, if it ever existed in this work- 
a-day world, has long since passed away. His 
family name, Allegri, means joyful, and he ac- 
cepted it as descriptive, for he often signs him- 
self Lieto, or Laetus, its Italian and Latin 
synonyms. In Italy there has never been the 
break of continuity between classic and modern 
times that exists in other lands, and perhaps 
Correggio was descended from some glad pagan 
of the ancient days whose jocund spirit won 
for him the title that was borne by his descend- 
ants. And Correggio almost makes us believe 
in the doctrine of metempsychosis. In an ob- 
scure little town scarcely to be found upon an 
ordinary map, and in the humble dwelling of a 
small merchant, he was born, the glorious rein- 
carnation of the spirit of Grecian joy, which 
had been crushed beneath the iron heel of im- 
perial Rome and entombed in mediaeval dark- 
ness. And he comes forth from his long sleep 
with no stain of the past upon him, fresher, 
brighter, more buoyant than when he wandered 
with Sappho and Anacreon through Lesbos 
and Ionia. Everything with him is gladsome, 






CORREGGIO 133 

and even the Fates, whom other artists have 
conceived as gloomy, stern and old, he repre- 
sents as youthful maidens spinning the shining 
webs of golden destinies. 

It has been the fashion of late years to de- 
preciate Correggio, but it is difficult to see why 
he should not be numbered with the greatest. 
It is true that his art bears the same relation 
to that of Raphael and Michelangelo that lyric 
poetry bears to the drama and the epic. But 
is the lyric essentially inferior ? Is not the 
quivering, impassioned song, free in its move- 
ment as the air and beautiful as the sunset, one 
of the highest expressions of poetic genius ? 
The Greeks, who were no mean judges, ranked 
Sappho's Odes with the Iliad of Homer, and 
he who loves beauty for its own sake must be 
drawn to Correggio with an irresistible attrac- 
tion. 

Beauty and joy are the essence of his art, 
beauty of a sweetly sensuous type, exultant, 
rapturous joy such as the modern world has 
never seen. His beings are not of the earth 
that we know, neither are they of heaven. 
Sometimes they are the fauns that basked in 



134 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

the sunlight and frolicked in the shadows of 
Grecian woodlands, sometimes the Ariels who 
palpitate with ecstasy as they disport them- 
selves in the blue empyrean. 

His children and his boys are the loveliest 
that were ever painted, far exceeding poor sad 
humanity in their beauty as in their joy. His 
infants that frolic among the clouds or play at 
Madonnas' feet are thrilled with a rapture such 
as childhood never knew, and the happiness of 
his youths reaches the highest pitch of lyric 
transport. Even the jubilant gladness of 
_. Shelley's Ode to the Skylark gives no idea of 
their feelings. 

It would be wrong to call his beings super- 
human. They are fairer and happier than 
man can ever be, but they lack that tinge of 
sadness which purifies and elevates humanity 
at its best. They are spirits of the air that 
hover near to earth, playing in the sunbeams 
and wantoning with the roses, and they have 
never scaled those heights wrapped in storms 
and clouds which the soul of man can reach. 
Our own Shakespeare, whose immeasurable gen- 
ius enabled him to comprehend not merely the 



CORREGGIO 135 

infinite complexities of humanity, but the un- 
seen beings that people the air about us, alone 
has understood them, and in the Midsummer 
Night 's Dream and The Tempest he brings them 
into view Oberon, Ariel, and their rout, 
creatures of inexpressible grace and gladness, 
wanton yet innocent, knowing nothing of sor- 
row and incapable of guilt. 

These are the types which give to Correg- 
gio's works their essential character. He can 
represent grief with infinite truth, and the sad, 
sweet face of the Madonna in his " Ecce 
Homo " of the National Gallery has been 
the model for all subsequent pictures of the 
Mater Dolorosa. But with him joy is con- 
tagious while sorrow is individual. His glad- 
some pictures are glad throughout, all his 
figures joining in the glorious paeon of raptur- 
ous delight ; while his mournful works are so 
only in part. The pious wish that health 
might be contagious instead of disease finds 
its realization in his ideal world. 

No other artist ever took so lofty a flight 
from so low an eminence. He was brought up 
in the insignificant Emilian town whose name 



136 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

he bears, and it is not known that he ever had 
a competent teacher. He never visited Flor- 
ence, Rome, or Venice. Morelli sees in his 
works traces of Francia's influence, but there 
is no proof that he was ever at Bologna, or 
that he ever beheld one of Francia's pictures. 
Traces of Mantegna's influence are apparent, 
and it is strongly believed that he must have 
studied at Mantua; but the genius of Man- 
tegna, the severest of Renaissance masters, has 
so little in common with Correggio's that the 
influence could not have been great. It is 
suspected that he must have seen something 
by Leonardo and Raphael, but there is no cer- 
tainty, perhaps no likelihood, of that. He is 
generally looked upon as an outgrowth from 
the school of Ferrara, but his gracious style 
has little in common with that of Tura, Costa, 
Grandi, or even Dosso. Of course he learned 
the rudiments of painting from someone. The 
mastery of technic results only from the labor 
of successive generations, and no one who 
begins at the beginning can accomplish much. 
But the vital elements of his style are all his own, 
and its originality is as striking as its beauty. 



CORK EGG 10 137 

Perhaps his isolation was an advantage. 
With none about him of commensurate talents, 
his genius was left in unfettered freedom to 
develop along its own lines. Contact with 
men of equal force might have robbed him of 
a portion of his originality, taken away some- 
thing of the lyric ecstasy of his works and left 
them more formal and academic. It is sad to 
think that one of the few supreme masters of 
art should have passed his life in obscurity, 
without the fellowship of the great men who 
could have understood his worth ; but perhaps 
it is better as it is. Who can tell what effect 
the life of courts would have had on the ex- 
quisite poetry of his delicate nature ? 

Nor was the place of his birth so unpropi- 
tious as it would seem at first. The spirit of 
the Renaissance had permeated the whole of 
Northern Italy, and in every town and hamlet 
men talked of Plato and Apelles, often with 
insufficient knowledge, but always with un- 
limited enthusiasm. The little city of Correg- 
gio, now so drowsy, was then the centre of 
considerable intellectual activity. At no time 
have women been more cultivated or more 



138 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

influential than during the Italian Renaissance, 
and in Correggio's day the petty court of his 
native town was presided over by Veronica 
Gambara, one of the most charming of her sex, 
a lover of art and literature and a poetess of 
decided merit. Existing documents show that 
Correggio must have been a welcome visitor at 
this court, and there, if he met no artists of the 
first distinction, he at least found painters who 
could teach him the rudiments of his craft, and 
he sucked in with every breath that love of 
classic beauty that was the very soul of the 
Renaissance. Even in that provincial town 
the opportunities for grasping the true spirit 
of artistic creation excelled those now offered 
by many a pretentious city. That spirit of 
youth which characterizes the Renaissance 
movement was stirring in the breast of every- 
one. Each felt that he had a message for his 
fellow men, and strove to utter it. Some 
sought to do so in words, others by the brush ; 
and art, which owes its origin in some measure 
to the longing of the soul to escape its solitude 
and commune with its fellows, naturally re- 
ceived a tremendous impulse. 



CORREGGIO 139 

Living as they did at the centre of the 
world's thought and culture, where the most 
complex problems were agitating the minds of 
men, it was inevitable that the art of Leonardo, 
Raphael, and Michelangelo should be weighted 
with a deep significance. But probably the 
profoundest thought with which Correggio 
came in contact was the sweet, feminine poetry 
of Veronica Gambara, which cast no burden 
upon his mind. In art's great symphony the 
high, clear notes that thrill us in the paeon are 
as essential to the harmony as the echoing 
basses of the dirge or the mellow beauty of the 
middle chords, and it is well that Correggio 
was left to play them to the end. 

From the time when Vasari and the Caracci 
proclaimed his merits to the world, he was the 
object of unqualified admiration until recent 
years, when there arose a school of critics, with 
Mr. Ruskin at their head, who loudly condemn 
him as immoral. They might as well inveigh 
against the morality of a skylark or a turtle- 
dove. The feelings which he expresses are joy 
and love, and if they are immoral, heaven must 
be a place of exceeding wickedness. 



14 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

It is readily conceivable that persons who 
think that the function of art is to inculcate 
moral precepts should find nothing to attract 
them in his works; but it is amazing that in- 
tolerance in this age should be carried so far as 
Mr. Ruskin carries it when he brands as " las- 
civious " the Magdalen of the Holy Family 
called the " Day," who, fully draped, nestles 
against the shoulder of the Virgin, one of the 
sweetest incarnations of womanhood in all the 
range of art. 

It is said that if his beings were alive they 
would be of no use. It is true that they would 
not be serviceable as plow-hands or as soldiers. 
But is beauty of no utility ? Is not the flower 
that adorns the fields, which toils not, neither 
does it spin, as essential in the world's economy 
as the cabbage or the potato ? Is the great 
singer who thrills the hearts of thousands to be 
condemned because she cannot toil upon the 
highway or fight in the ranks of battle ? The 
love of beauty is one of the greatest influences 
in the refinement and elevation of humanity, 
and its contemplation is one of the few enjoy- 
ments that leave no sting behind. 



CORK EGG 10 141 

It is true that his beings, were they alive, 
would be wrapped up in the joy of living and 
the ecstasy of light and air; but they would be 
as harmless as birds. And can as much be said 
of the prodigious figures of Michelangelo which 
are supposed to breathe so lofty a morality ? 
Would the " David " care greatly who fell be- 
fore his wrath ? Would not the " Moses " in 
his immeasurable pride tread the innocent and 
the guilty indiscriminately under foot ? And 
who can assure us that the mighty figures on 
the Medicean tombs, if they should rouse 
themselves, would not wish to plunge the 
world into a gloom as overwhelming as their 
own ? 

There is nothing immoral in joy, neither is 
love a sin. The early Christians believed that 
God was love, and as such He is portrayed in 
the catacombs, where the pictures are all cheer- 
ful, even joyous. But in the frightful night 
of the Middle Ages man's conception of God 
underwent a change. Judging Him by their 
own misery and suffering, they conceived Him 
as a being of implacable wrath and hate, de- 
lighting in His creatures' woes. Gladness and 



142 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

beauty were accounted sinful, sighs and tears 
and the maceration of the flesh were alone sup- 
posed to find favor in the sight of God. That 
mediaeval conception of Christianity, so differ- 
ent from the benign spirit of Him whose first 
miracle was wrought that nothing might mar 
the joy of a wedding festival, still persists in 
the hearts and minds of many ; and to such, 
and to such alone, Correggio is immoral. Love 
is holy, and joy that is not purchased with 
another's pain is sweet and good. These are 
the worst sentiments that Correggio expresses, 
and he is no more open to the charge of im- 
morality than the wanton flower that is kissed 
by the breeze. He may be called unmoral, but 
he is not immoral. His works simply have 
nothing to do with morality. He belongs to 
the class of those who are neither for heaven 
nor against it. He is content with depicting 
beauty in its most exquisite forms, with no 
suggestion of evil, and if others are seduced 
by it he is no more concerned than the youth- 
ful angels whose charms so tempted Mephis- 
topheles at the burial of Faust. He is as inno- 
cent of offence as the children of Adam and Eve 



CORREGGIO 143 

playing unclothed among the thornless roses 
of Eden. He belongs to the age when men 
were naked and were not ashamed, and if we 
have eaten of the forbidden fruit, the fault is not 
with him. Raphael's beauty is of a kind that 
cannot be divorced from active goodness ; Cor- 
reggio's is neither good nor evil, but simply 
innocent and glad. 

In his early works there is a marked religious 
/ feeling, though conceived in a sweet human 
way that would have startled and perhaps 
shocked the primitives. How much of this 
was heartfelt and how much the result of imi- 
tation we cannot say. Doubtless he received 
a religious training in his youth ; but he was a 
faun from the Grecian woodland on whose soul 
the teachings of the church could make little 
impression, and year by year we see its influ- 
ence weakening and the pagan joy of life and 
love of carnal beauty reasserting themselves 
more strongly. The greater number of his 
mythological pictures were painted in his last 
days, when he had abandoned the work in the 
Parma Cathedral in disgust, and had returned 
to his native town. And as his genius was 



144 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

essentially pagan, the further he wanders from 
the ascetic spirit of mediaeval Christianity the 
more striking and beautiful his works become. 
There was in him no revolt against mediaeval 
devotion as in some of his contemporaries. It 
never had a firm hold upon him, and he merely 
slips away from it. He was like some lovely 
bird of paradise which we capture in the nest 
and seek to tame, but which when its wings 
are grown flies back to its glad life of free- 
dom among the golden flowers of its native 
forest. 

When at his maturity, his religious and his 
mythological subjects are treated in very much 
the same spirit. He humanizes religious feel- 
ing and spiritualizes sensual passion until there 
is no great difference between them. The St. 
John the Baptist of the " St. George " picture 
is a faun straight from the Grecian forests, and 
there was never a more charming representa- 
tion of Cupid in his youthful prime than the 
St. Sebastian who looks on at the mystic 
marriage of St. Catherine in the Louvre. On 
the other hand there is nothing gross in the 
ecstasy of his " Danae " or " lo." The joy of 



CORREGGIO 145 

love was never depicted with more realistic 
truth or more exquisite refinement. And the 
child angels that are strewn over the "Assump- 
tion " and " Ascension " like flowers upon a 
meadow, tumbling upon the clouds, or peeping 
out from between the legs of the Apostles, are 
conceived in exactly the same mood as the 
boys who attend " Diana " in the chase. 

Like Michelangelo he is a painter purely of 
the imagination, though his visions are simple 
and joyous while Michelangelo's are complex 
and mournful; and like him he made no por- 
traits, not even his own, so that we know not 
how he looked. His figures spring like Mi- 
nerva from his creative brain, and have no pro- 
totypes on earth. They are superhuman in 
blitheness as in beauty, and yet so vivid is his 
imagination and so great his artistic power that 
they are projected upon the canvas or the wall 
with an intensity of realism that would do 
honor to the Dutch. Our reason tells us that 
such beings never existed in this sad world, 
but we sympathize with Guido, who always 
asked those who had seen the " Madonna with 
St. George " since he had seen it, if the chil- 



146 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

dren were still in the picture, and if they had 
not grown up. 

His name has become a synonym for light 
and shade. No Italian artist ever equalled 
him in that respect, and it is doubtful whether 
Rembrandt himself surpassed him, though 
their methods are so different that an intelli- 
gent comparison is hard to make. Like Rem- 
brandt's, his shadows are not opaque, but 
luminous, suffused through and through with 
light, just as in nature a thing so difficult of 
achievement that it has been accomplished in 
a satisfactory manner by few. None of his 
predecessors save Leonardo and Dosso had 
any considerable skill in chiaroscuro, yet Cor- 
reggio in his earliest works reveals himself a 
master of the art, though a master who con- 
tinually improves. It is incredible that so 
young a man should have conquered its com- 
plexities unaided, and we are driven to the 
conclusion that he must have seen some of 
Leonardo's works and perhaps studied under 
Dosso. 

And as a result of his mastery of light and 
shade, his figures are bathed in atmosphere. 



CORREGGIO 147 

They are not standing in a vacuum like those 
of the primitives; the air circles round them, 
full of light, and they stand out in a luminous 
medium as in nature. 

The Florentine masters usually practised 
both painting and sculpture, with the result 
that their sculpture is frequently pictorial, as 
in the case of Ghiberti, their painting always 
somewhat sculptural, standing out in bold re- 
lief, with strongly marked outlines. But Cor- 
reggio and the Venetians are painters and 
nothing else, and the luminous, palpitating 
vitality of color finds its most perfect expres- 
sion in their works. 

As a colorist he must be numbered with the 
greatest. His color has not the glowing splen- 
dor of Venice, but in transparent lustre it is 
unexcelled. It has been well described as a 
clarification of Leonardo's. 

It is very difficult to be a great colorist in 
fresco. The system is suited to works of mon- 
umental or primitive simplicity, and is not 
conducive to brilliancy, depth, or delicate 
gradations. It was rarely employed by the 
great masters of color, the Venetians. Titian 



148 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

tried it at Padua, but without adding anything 
to his fame. Leonardo was so dissatisfied with 
it that he mixed his fresco paints with oil, and 
so destroyed them ; while the colors of Michel- 
angelo are so inconspicuous that they are 
scarcely thought of. Raphael himself seldom 
reached great eminence in frescoed color, 
though in some of his compositions, particu- 
larly the " Miracle of Bolsena," his success is 
undeniable. But it was reserved to Correggio 
to give to fresco the splendor and transparency 
of oil, and to produce with it those subtle 
effects of light and shade in pursuit of which 
Leonardo had sacrificed the durability of his 
most precious works. 

In the painting of the delicate flesh of women 
and children even Titian and Veronese must 
own Correggio's pre-eminence. The finest 
piece of flesh painting in the world is probably 
his " Antiope " of the Louvre. The satiny 
sheen, the dainty tenderness, the rich, soft 
flesh-tints of a youthful nymph could not be 
better rendered. It seems living flesh, with the 
warm blood coursing through the veins as she 
lies there dreaming of love upon her mossy bank. 



CORREGGIO 149 

This picture of Correggio's and Titian's in 
the same gallery dealing with the same sub- 
ject afford a rare opportunity of contrasting 
their styles, which have so much in common 
and yet are so diverse. Titian's gives an ex- 
tended landscape, while Correggio's reveals 
only enough of the background to show that 
the scene takes place in the forest depths. 
Titian's Antiope is stronger, healthier, and 
lies in an attitude of graceful repose, full of 
dignity even as she sleeps. The posture of 
Correggio's is violently foreshortened, with the 
knees projecting straight toward the spectator, 
and her light slumbers are haunted by amorous 
dreams. But the greatest contrast is in the 
satyrs. Titian's is the perfect blending of the 
goat and man, exactly such a creature as would 
be produced by such a union. The goat's 
legs, the hairy body, and the low, sensual, cun- 
ning physiognomy are just what we should ex- 
pect in a real satyr. Such a creature would be 
content with himself and assured of his own 
perfection. But the satyr of Correggio is a 
beautiful monster. There are the hairy legs 
of a genuine goat, but the head is one of the 



ISO RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

most beautiful ever painted, as lovely as the 
" Eros " of Praxiteles, as the vision that ap- 
peared to Psyche when she lit the fatal lamp 
to gaze upon the sleeping Cupid. Such a 
creature would have died of mortification had 
he looked down at his hideous shanks. The ex- 
pression of their faces, too, is widely different. 
Titian's satyr shows only the animal satis- 
faction of a bestial nature, while Correggio's is 
quivering with jubilant love. Yet it is not 
certain that Titian's is the juster rendering of 
the subject. If it were only a common satyr 
surprising a nymph, there could be no doubt 
of Titian's superiority ; but when we remember 
that it was great Jove himself in this disguise, 
it is quite probable that Correggio's picture 
interprets more faithfully the true significance 
of the scene. Then we see divine beauty re- 
vealed in spite of its disguise, and the god, 
knowing that the travesty can be cast off at 
pleasure, is not ashamed of the ugly shanks 
and cloven hoofs. But the two pictures show 
well the difference between the realistic and 
human beauty of Titian and the ideal, super- 
mundane beauty of Correggio. 



CORREGGIO 151 

From someone, doubtless Mantegna, Cor- 
reggio early acquired a taste for the problems 
of foreshortening, and attained such a profi- 
ciency in it that he remained unrivalled until 
Michelangelo painted the " Last Judgment." 
And as with Michelangelo, his extraordinary 
skill led to its abuse, so that he sometimes 
painted figures merely to test his powers, plac- 
ing them in violent postures where they seem 
attitudinizing and in points of view from which 
they appear contorted. Extreme power is 
always apt to be pushed to exaggeration, but 
in Correggio's behalf it must be said that 
Michelangelo in his later days departed further 
from the modesty of Nature than he has ever 
done. 

In the handling of great masses Correggio 
has no superior. It would be vain to seek 
elsewhere for a composition so vast and so 
united as the " Assumption of the Madonna " 
that fills the dome of the Cathedral at Parma. 
It is not a complicated harmony ; it is a thou- 
sand voices singing together a jubilant paeon of 
ecstatic joy. The Virgin rises into heaven in 
a quivering transport of triumphant exultation, 



152 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

and all the apostles and the heavenly host join 
in a chorus of rapture that borders upon frenzy. 
For the first time save in his majestic frescoes 
in San Giovanni the architectural framework of 
the dome is disregarded, and we look straight 
upward into heaven. At the first glance the 
countless legs of the ascending angels seen 
through the billowy clouds of light produce a 
singular effect; but as we continue to gaze 
upon the prodigious sweep and whirl of the 
mighty throng the wonderful realism of the 
scene grows upon us, the world around is 
forgotten, and we seem to behold heaven in 
all its glory opened before our eyes. It is a 
bold experiment, one of those daring attempts 
which must find their justification in success. 
It fascinated his followers, who continually 
imitated it, but it remains alone as the one 
perfect achievement of its kind. 

He loved most the beauty of women, youths, 
and children, but "The Apostles" of San 
Giovanni's dome are among the grandest types 
of manhood that art can offer. Perhaps the 
thing in which he was most deficient was in 
capacity to represent the withering effects of 



CORREGGIO 153 

age. Youth was his domain. He may give 
to his old men silver locks and flowing beards, 
but their eyes remain bright and their cheeks 
rounded, so that they do not really look old. 

Correggio inspired in the breast of Toschi a 
devotion that has no parallel in the history of 
art, and the great engraver devoted his long 
life to reproducing the master's works. In this 
way we are able to enjoy portions of the fres- 
coes which have been so injured by damp and 
dirt as to be invisible or incomprehensible from 
below. In the translation from the poetry of 
color to the engraving's prose there has been 
necessarily a change no work can pass through 
another's hand and brain and remain unaltered. 
Something of the dithyrambic ecstasy of the 
originals has been lost, something of academic 
neatness has been added. Still the result is a 
triumph of the engraver's art and a boon for 
which the world must remain forever indebted. 

One of the first duties of modern criticism 
was to relieve Correggio from responsibility for 
a multitude of unworthy pictures attributed to 
him by an uncritical age. Many of them were 
by feeble imitators like Parmigianino and An- 



154 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

selmi, and had something of his manner, while 
others bore no resemblance to his work. They 
were simply clouds that obscured his fame, and 
now that they have been dispersed his star 
shines with a clearer lustre. Among them, 
however, was one whose loss we must all de- 
plore, the famous ' Reading Magdalen." 
Since Morelli called attention to the absence 
in it of the qualities of Correggio's style it has 
been abandoned by all authoritative critics save 
M. Muntz, and even he dares not be positive. 
It is apparently the work of a later age ; but it 
is with reluctance that we give it up and con- 
fess that we do not know by whose hand the 
dainty marvel was wrought. It is a lovely 
little jewel taken from Correggio's crown a 
jewel that never belonged there, but which he 
had worn so long that we regret to see it go. 

He is perhaps the equal of Titian in depict- 
ing the beauty of woman ; and in his style there 
is more of tenderness and refinement. He 
never degenerates into the insipid elegance of 
his imitators, but his female types are so ex- 
quisite that even the lovely patricians whom 
Titian delights to paint seem too voluptuous 



CORREGGIO 155 

and strong when placed beside them. Like 
Titian's, his Madonnas are only women, but 
women of such charming grace that they are 
almost worthy of adoration. And he has 
Leonardo's fondness for hair, and a nearly 
equal skill in representing its waving, fluffy 
lustre. 

Like Michelangelo, he was one of the great 
factors in the decline of art. After his death 
countless imitators thought that they must 
paint laughing children and wriggling legs, 
with which they filled half the domes of Italy ; 
but that was no fault of his. They carried his 
qualities to the same exaggeration to which 
Bernini carried the mannerisms of Michel- 
angelo, but the irresistible impulse of weaklings 
to imitate the play of giants is as inevitable as 
it is unfortunate. Many a modest painter who 
might have been a worthy disciple of Francia 
or Perugino was ruined in his vain effort to 
follow Michelangelo and Correggio in their 
audacious flight. 

He is the most emotional of painters. All 
his figures feel intensely. The sentiment 
which he usually prefers is joy, but sorrow, 



156 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

when it is expressed at all, is expressed with 
the same vehemence. But his emotions are 
never complicated or difficult of apprehension. 
They are as simple as those of childhood, ut- 
tered with as little reserve, and weighted with 
as little thought. 

He and Leonardo are the painters of smiles, 
but in what a different way ! Leonardo sur- 
prises the soul upon the lips souls of wonder- 
ful depth and unspeakable complexity, and 
fixes them there forever as a riddle that no man 
can read. Sorrow and hope and joy, unutter- 
able passions and unavowed desires are in that 
smile, while Correggio's have all the wanton 
happiness of childhood, only raised to a super- 
human pitch. 

It is this want of depth that debars Correggio 
from the highest place. All other qualities of 
his art beauty and color and light and shade, 
strength and movement and composition are 
united in him as perhaps in no other; but he 
lacks Raphael's serene wisdom and the depth 
of those who have passed through the Valley 
of the Shadow of Death and drained the bitter 
cup. Joy is good, but he who has tasted only 



CORREGGIO 157 

its honeyed draught knows not the fulness of 
our mortal life; and Correggio's works lack 
that poignant fascination which an acquaint- 
ance with Our Ladies of Sorrow alone can 
give. 

During the eighteenth century he was the 
most esteemed of painters. It was an age of 
super-refinement and elegance, when the nobil- 
ity had become courtiers and passed their but- 
terfly lives in exquisite enjoyments, scarcely 
conscious of the vast, hungry, suffering multi- 
tudes whose existence was to be revealed by 
the lurid flames of the French Revolution. 
To that polished and effeminate society the 
works of Correggio seemed the highest ideal 
of perfection. And even now as we stand be- 
fore them, their fascination is so great that we 
can hardly restrain ourselves from concurring 
in this judgment. 

We see in him a boldness of drawing and 
foreshortening worthy of Michelangelo, a 
genius for composition that Raphael alone can 
surpass, color not so glowing as Titian's, but 
of a marvellous lustre and transparency, a 
mastery of light and shade that only Rem- 



158 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

brandt can rival, and a sweet joyousness that 
has never been seen on earth since the mighty 
voice was heard off Paxos proclaiming the death 
of Pan. While we look at him we cannot con- 
fess that another is his superior, and it is only 
when we have left him and our enthusiasm has 
had time to cool that a still, small voice whis- 
pers in our ears that, great as he is, Leonardo, 
Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian are greater 
still. 



BOTTICELLI 
(1446-1510) 

IT is very difficult to write impartially of 
Botticelli. Those whom he pleases at all 
are apt to love him to excess, and see in his 
works all possible and impossible perfections ; 
while those who are not touched by his peculiar 
charm are disposed to look upon him as merely 
quaint and curious. The truth lies between 
these two extremes. He is not a great master 
like Raphael and Leonardo, but he has a 
singular and personal fascination that marks 
him as one apart, and gives him a niche in the 
temple of fame that is all his own. His works 
are like certain music that strikes a responsive 
chord only in particular hearts, but a chord 
that vibrates with an intense and special har- 
mony. He who has caught its singular charm 
has a joy of his own forever, but he must not 
159 



l6o RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

blame his neighbor upon whose ear it jars. 
Every man who is not abnormal appreciates 
Raphael ; but one has to be somewhat out of 
the ordinary to experience the full attraction 
of Botticelli's work. He speaks to an elect 
circle, whose members are prone to worship 
him with idolatrous devotion, and to regard as 
boors the profane who reject their idol. 

No artist has had greater vicissitudes of 
fame. In his prime he was the favorite painter 
of the brilliant court of Lorenzo the Magnifi- 
cent, but with the death of his illustrious patron 
he sank under the influence of Savonarola, so 
inimical to his genius, and in his old age he 
was eclipsed by the glories of Leonardo, 
Michelangelo, and Raphael. He was almost 
forgotten when at length he passed away in 
poverty and neglect, and he seemed consigned 
to hopeless oblivion when Mr. Ruskin and the 
English pre-Raphaelites proclaimed his great- 
ness and made him the object of a cult that is 
extending every day. His pictures, little 
prized forty years ago, are now sought for with 
infinite eagerness, and are numbered among 
the most precious gems of the richest galleries. 



BOTTICELLI l6l 

Those who do not feel their charm regard this 
sudden fame as sentimental and factitious, born 
without reason and destined to a speedy de- 
cay ; while his votaries wonder that his position 
among the highest should ever have been denied. 

Both are wrong. He cannot be numbered 
with the supreme masters, but he gives a 
peculiar form of aesthetic pleasure that no one 
else can give, and now that we are awakened 
to its enjoyment, it is not likely that his works 
will ever again sink into oblivion. 

In fact, he is especially the painter of our 
age, of an age that lives upon its nerves and is 
deficient in the placid strength of earlier days. 
He is the painter of the nerves, as Michel- 
angelo is the painter of the muscles and Titian 
of the flesh. In all his pictures, pagan or re- 
ligious, the type is nervous, quivering, restless, 
palpitating with feeling, incapable of repose. 
They are all neurotic ; not to the point of dis- 
ease, but beyond the limits of normal health. 
The women that he loves to paint are delicate 
hothouse flowers, rare orchids and sensitive 
plants that know not the sunlight and the rain. 
They are very lovely, and they have the tender 



1 62 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

charm of those fragile beings whose heads are 
bowed with the weight of impending doom. 

They are enchanting, but they are not beau- 
tiful. Their faces are irregular, often with high 
cheek-bones and hollow cheeks, and frequently 
their expression is one of poignant sadness. 
Yet perhaps it is wrong to deny them beauty. 
They do not conform to our standard, to the 
standard that has been bequeathed to us by 
Raphael's harmonious genius. But according 
to other standards they may be perfect. They 
are purely mediaeval. If they had been pro- 
duced in the depths of the Middle Ages men 
would have hailed them as a divine revelation, 
and would have considered them immeasurably 
finer than the master works of Greece. Every 
age has its own standards which it deems in- 
fallible, and the type created by Botticelli does 
not conform to our ideals. It belongs to 
another world more delicate, more exquisite, 
less healthy and practical than ours. 

One reason of the high regard in which he is 
now held is the prevailing practice of studying 
art historically. No artist represents so per- 
fectly a particular moment in history. He 






BOTTICELLI 163 

stands at the exact point where the mediaeval 
is aspiring toward the classical with infinite but 
ineffectual desire. In him the Middle Age 
stretches out its arms with unutterable yearn- 
ing toward the goddess of Grecian beauty 
rising again resplendent from the sea, but she 
still eludes its grasp. He belongs to the time 
when men kept lamps burning before the bust 
of Plato as before the Virgin's shrine, yet 
failed to grasp the essence of Hellenic culture. 
In a little while the full day is to burst upon 
them, revealing shapes of classic purity that 
are to be preserved by Raphael's and by 
Titian's brush. But Botticelli's contempo- 
raries are still in the early dawn, lit up by a 
dim and misty light through which the radiant 
forms of the Grecian goddesses look thin and 
pale. They scarcely see their shapes at all, 
but they know that they are there, and in try- 
ing to give them a corporeal form Botticelli 
recurs for models to the delicate, unhealthy 
types of mediaeval beauty which he already 
knows ; and it is as if some slender nun brought 
up in the shadow of the cloister should attempt 
to rise with Phryne from the sea. 



1 64 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

In his work we are most powerfully attracted 
by this yearning of the Middle Age for the fair 
Grecian land this love of the pine tree for the 
palm which it cannot see, but of whose beauty 
it has heard, and of which it has formed grace- 
ful misconceptions based upon a study of the 
ferns that grow about its feet. The most 
popular of his pictures are the " Birth of 
Venus" in the Uffizi and the " Spring" in 
the Florentine Academy. And they are justly 
so, for in them we see the very essence of 
Botticelli's genius. They are among the most 
fascinating pictures ever painted. Their spirit 
is purely mediaeval, but with what ineffable 
desire does it yearn toward the beautiful shores 
of Greece! And how unavailingly ! In the 
" Parnassus " Raphael transports us to the 
Hellenic mountains; in the "Galatea" we 
float with him upon the sparkling waves of the 
blue -/Egean. But Botticelli knows them not. 
In his search for Hellas he wanders far astray, 
and leads us to an enchanted land where the 
fairies dance upon flowers that their footsteps 
do not crush. He shows us Venus again, not 
as she landed in all the pride of her beauty 



BOTTICELLI 165 

upon the shores of Cyprus, but as she emerged 
from the Venusberg, grown slender and pale 
in her long seclusion, with softly rounded limbs 
whose muscles have disappeared for want of 
use, and in whose eyes is the sad, wistful gaze 
that speaks of the infinite longing for the 
moonlit valleys and sun-kissed mountains of 
her native land that has grown up during the 
centuries of her northern exile. It is a world 
that has never existed save in the imagination 
of mediaeval dreamers, a sweet fairyland of 
delicate and delicious fancies. In his works we 
see what the men of the early Renaissance im- 
agined Greece to be, just as in his illustrations 
of Dante so different from the pictures that 
we owe to Flaxman's classic genius or to the 
unbridled imagination of Dor we probably 
have a much nearer approach to the visions 
that arose before the poet and his contempo- 
raries than any that we can attain elsewhere. 
His works are precious documents that enable 
us to understand the workings of the human 
mind as words can never do, which reveal to 
us the Middle Age standing upon tiptoe and 
peering with unspeakable longing through the 



1 66 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

morning's gilded mists toward the fair shapes 
that are dimly seen beyond the veil. 

Historically Botticelli is of the first impor- 
tance, and as an artist he has merits of a high 
order. 

Though one of the worst anatomists, he is 
one of the greatest draughtsmen of the Renais- 
sance. This may seem a contradiction in terms 
when applied to a painter who dealt so largely 
with the nude, yet it is true. The anatomy 
of his figures is usually wretched. There is 
every reason to believe that the poor diet, the 
imperfect sanitation, the want of cleanliness 
and the general misery of the Middle Ages had 
a most deleterious effect upon the human 
frame, and that the average man and woman 
of mediaeval days was far from beautiful. In 
Botticelli's time but few of the masterpieces of 
antique art had been rescued from the clay. 
The Middle Age had looked upon the body as 
unclean, and had rarely represented it save in 
ghastly crucifixions; but with the revival of 
Greek learning came a new interest in the 
human figure, and men turned again to its 
representation. But they sought for models 



BOTTICELLI l6? 

among those about them, and sometimes with 
as little discrimination as Botticelli displayed 
in the selection of the " Mars " of the National 
Gallery or the youth dragged by the hair in the 
" Calumny " of the Uffizi, with their emaciated 
limbs; and doubtless a part of Botticelli's de- 
fective anatomy is due to the imperfections of 
his models. But Nature never made such 
shapes as some of those that he has drawn, 
and it is difficult to see how they could have 
held together if they had been created. Either 
he was ignorant of anatomy, or utterly in- 
different to its requirements. 

Yet he is one of the greatest masters of the 
single line that ever lived. He treats the 
human body simply as a pattern for a living 
arabesque. As a lineal decorator he stands 
supreme. In point of color he is perhaps the 
best of the Florentine school, sometimes bright, 
usually harmonious, nearly always charming. 
Yet he subordinates coloring so thoroughly to 
the line that his pictures have been described 
as tinted drawings. The tendency of color is 
usually toward the obliteration of the outline. 
With him it serves only to accentuate it. In 



1 68 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

these days when it is the fashion to confound 
the distinction between the arts, his pictures 
may be described as symphonies of lines. And 
all of them are lines of grace. Such harmoni- 
ous curves it would be difficult to find else- 
where. Frequently they are false to nature, 
an outrage upon the human anatomy, and to 
appreciate them we must forget how men are 
made, and look upon them merely as parts of 
an arabesque design. We shall then perceive 
that as lineal decorations they are endowed 
with a wonderful beauty. 

Another merit which he possesses in an 
extraordinary degree is the presentation of 
movement. His figures are all in motion or 
ready to move. It is not a strong movement 
dependent upon muscular power, it is the 
light, quick, graceful movement whose seat is 
in the nerves. His walking figures nearly all 
rest lightly on the ball of the foot in a position 
that they could not retain for a moment. They 
are like instantaneous photographs taken when 
motion is at the highest point of its curve. And 
this motion is always graceful. However bad 
the figures may be in point of anatomy, they 



BOTTICELLI 169 

always move with an exquisite rhythm. In- 
deed, the grace of their movements is enhanced 
by their very imperfection. When we see mo- 
tion in a body of perfect outline, its grace is 
only what we expect, and our attention is 
attracted most by the plastic beauty of the 
form itself. But when we see these thin, ill- 
drawn bodies moving so gracefully, it strikes 
us with all the force of a surprise, and there 
being no plastic loveliness to charm the eye, 
we surrender ourselves entirely to the sense of 
grace. By making the forms attenuated and 
unattractive he gives us the very essence of 
movement. We feel that he would be de- 
lighted if he could express it entirely disem- 
bodied. 

And this he almost does through the agency 
of the wind. He is the painter of the breeze. 
In his pictures it blows continually, sometimes 
quaintly represented as issuing from the wind- 
god's mouth, sometimes as only revealed in 
the flutter of garments not the horrible ba- 
roque flutter with which Bernini has made us 
all familiar, but a flutter in which is expressed 
all the buoyant joy and vitality of the zephyr. 



1 70 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

No one has ever depicted so faithfully or so 
daintily the effects of the breeze playing with 
a woman's vestments. 

And what vestments they are! Sometimes 
heavy, sometimes light, sometimes mere gauzy 
draperies that only serve to enhance the rhyth- 
mic grace of the moving limbs, they fall or 
flutter in delightful folds, and are usually 
adorned with those delicious embroideries 
which were only produced in their perfection 
during the Middle Ages, when time was a 
matter of no importance, and when a handmaid 
would spend years in the beautifying of a gar- 
ment as a monk would pass his life in the illu- 
mination of a missal. Embroideries so fanciful 
or so charming have never been depicted by 
the brush. And however classical the subject, 
if it is clothed at all, it is in these quaintly 
beautiful draperies of the Middle Ages un- 
dreamed of by the Greeks. 

He was the painter of small groups and of 
single figures. In a large field he lost himself. 
His great frescoes in the Sistine Chapel are 
charming in many of their details, but the 
composition is confusing a confusion height- 



BOTTICELLI I/I 

ened by the insertion into one picture of suc- 
cessive episodes of the same story, so that it is 
only with great labor that we can make out 
the meaning; and they can scarcely be said to 
have a general plan. He is like many writers 
who can tell a short story well, but who can- 
not handle the complicated threads of a long 
romance. Within his narrow limitations his 
composition is pleasing, but when he attempts 
it on too large a scale we see that he has over- 
passed his powers. 

And he has surprising limitations. Though 
he spent his life in seeking after dainty types, 
his hands and feet are usually coarse, and the 
way in which he sometimes sought to indicate 
the fruitfulness of Nature is so gross and in- 
artistic that it is inconceivable that so exquisite 
a painter should have committed such a blun- 
der. It must be noted, too, that he was almost 
indifferent to light and shade at a time when 
Leonardo was displaying all its resources. 

He was a great lover of flowers, and painted 
them, particularly roses, with exceeding skill. 
Usually they are true to nature, but there are 
some of them that have no prototypes now on 



172 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

earth, and which were probably creations of 
his own delicious fancy. It has been suggested 
that his fondness for round pictures was due to 
his love of flowers, and that he borrowed the 
design of the " Crowned Madonna" from a 
full-blown rose. 

From the Middle Ages he derived a fond- 
ness for allegory, and like a good many 
other allegories his own are not always clear. 
The one single exception is the recently dis- 
covered picture of " Pallas and the Centaur," 
and this was probably painted under the im- 
mediate direction of Lorenzo the Magnificent, 
and owes its comprehensibility to his shrewd 
and practical genius. No more delightful alle- 
gory than the " Spring " was ever painted, but 
its entire meaning can never be deciphered, 
and, indeed, it owes a part of its charm to that 
very fact. If we understood it fully it might 
lose in interest.* 

He is the most feminine of all painters, and 
that is one reason why he so appeals to an age 
dominated by the female element. He paints 

* It seems to have been intended to illustrate some lines of 
Lucretius, which, however, do not fully explain it. 



BOTTICELLI 173 

men sometimes, but rarely with entire success, 
and as soon as possible he turns away to the 
presentation of woman's charm and grace. 
Vasari informs us that he loved to paint beau- 
tiful undraped women, but the iconoclastic 
frenzy of Savonarola, which has obliterated so 
many traces of the pagan spirit in the early 
Renaissance, has doubtless robbed us of most 
of these. Still the best remain those which 
he executed for the Medici, who took no part 
in the mad orgy of destruction when so many 
priceless treasures were cast upon the bonfires 
in the Piazza della Signoria and from them 
we can judge the type. We see that it was 
not woman's plastic beauty that he loved, but 
the alluring grace of her airy motion. Only 
once does he produce a form of exceeding love- 
liness the new-born Venus that floats toward 
the shore in the pearly shell. And she is not 
classically beautiful. She has never known 
the free life of the mountains and the fields, 
her bosom has never throbbed with pagan joy, 
her limbs have never been strengthened by 
wholesome exercise. She has been brought 
up in the shadow of some dim cloister, wearied 



174 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

by the droning of unceasing prayers, and now 
that she has escaped she feels no exultant rap- 
ture, and in her nakedness she is ashamed. 
The maiden upon the shore rushes with a richly 
embroidered mantle to clothe her nudity, and 
when she gets the robe she will fold it around 
her with all the modesty of a nun. As an at- 
tempt to represent the radiant goddess of pagan 
love, failure could scarcely be more complete ; 
but it is full of the most delicate charm of 
womanhood. And so, too, are the maidens of 
the " Spring." Ill-drawn as they are, they 
are the very essence of dainty grace. 

One reason that Botticelli is so attractive is 
that he falls so far short of what he attempts 
that much remains for the play of the imagina- 
tion. He loves to tell a story, but he tells it 
imperfectly, leaving a great deal for fancy to 
supply. It is as if one should try to play the 
Moonlight Sonata on a flute. He would fail in 
the attempt, but he might draw forth sweet 
and haunting melodies that would never have 
been heard had he confined himself to music 
appropriate to his instrument. 

His faces are as irregular in their outline as 



BOTTICELLI 175 

his forms ; but as in the figures it is the grace 
and not the shape that allures us, in the faces 
it is the expression. He is a painter of the 
soul of woman, not in its unsounded depths 
like Leonardo, but in its delicate refinement, 
its melancholy reveries, its sweet sadness, its 
wistful longings. If Leonardo's types may be 
compared to an Alpine lake whose smiling sur- 
face conceals unfathomed depths, his may be 
compared to a lovely brook that winds in 
sinuous curves, never very deep, but full of 
charming grace. Botticelli's women are not 
profound ; but they are wholly womanly, with 
a tender, gentle melancholy that is the same in 
a Venus or a Madonna. He is not a very re- 
ligious painter, nor of a powerful imagination. 
His realm is one of delicious fancy perhaps 
the most refined and exquisite in all the range 
of art. In his yearning for Grecian days he 
wanders far from his purpose, and finds him- 
self not in the classic land of Hellas, but in 
that region of mediaeval paganism against 
which the church waged a war so unrelenting 
and so unavailing. It might crush mind and 
body, but at times the human soul would slip 



RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

its fetters and escape into the woodland peopled 
by elves and fairies and water-sprites, sweet, 
tender spirits whose joy was close akin to sor- 
row. In his search for the isles of Greece it 
was into this enchanted land of fancy that 
Botticelli strayed, while he thought that he 
was wandering through Grecian vales and by 
Castalian springs. 

But though the thing that charms us most 
is the sight of this mediaeval soul rambling 
through a pagan world of its own creation, he 
has produced two religious works that are 
among the most attractive of all time, the 
" Crowned Madonna" of the Uffizi and the 
' ' Nativity ' ' in the National Gallery. The first, 
with its irregular mediaeval faces that are yet so 
beautiful, so full of wistful melancholy, is one 
of the hardest to forget of all the pictures of 
the Virgin; while the latter, with its angels 
circling in the air as graceful as butterflies, is 
perhaps the daintiest in all of art's domain. 
Neither of them is great, but there are those who 
would rather surrender many a grand master- 
piece than give up these delicious creations of a 
rare fancy ; and their choice is not to be despised. 



BOTTICELLI 1/7 

He is one of the most poetical of all painters, 
with a quaint, sweet poetry that we love some- 
times beyond its merits, like some of the old 
lyrics of Elizabethan and Stuart days, so naive, 
so touching, so full of delicate fancies and pleas- 
ing affectations, and possessed of a haunting 
rhythm and a delightful freshness that can 
never be forgotten. They, too, sing of Grecian 
gods with the same spirit of mediaeval phan- 
tasy, striving with the same unsuccess to grasp 
the spirit of Ovid or Theocritus. The painters 
of his day were mostly realists, but Botticelli 
was a poet and a dreamer, living apart in a 
fairyland of his own creation. 

There is no denying that there is something 
affected in many of his attitudes. It was an 
age of affectation, when poets delighted in 
fanciful conceits and far-fetched images, and 
Botticelli was not strong enough to escape its 
influence. The most poetical painter of his 
time, he had the faults as well as the qualities 
of the men who sang around him, and his poses 
sometimes overpass the limits of nature, and 
assume the affected airs of the pastoral verse 
that charmed his soul. 



178 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

There are individuals whom we love beyond 
their deserts, whom we love with a full knowl- 
edge of their deficiencies, because of some 
peculiar attraction that emanates from their 
personality. Indeed, it is not usually the best 
and greatest whom we love the most. There 
is in all of us something of the spirit of the 
Athenian who was tired of hearing Aristides 
called the Just. And so it is that many turn 
willingly from Raphael's perfect sanity and 
beauty to the super-refined and morbid deli- 
cacy of Botticelli. Nor are they to be greatly 
blamed, for he can give them a peculiar pleas- 
ure like the love of some exquisite creature 
upon whose hectic cheek consumption has set 
its mark, and whose caresses derive a poignant 
sweetness from the sense of impending death. 

Until our own day his influence has been 
slight. But since Mr. Ruskin rediscovered 
him he has been growing steadily in impor- 
tance. It is difficult to understand how Burne- 
Jones could have existed had he never seen the 
"Madonna Incoronata," the "Spring" and 
the " Birth of Venus," or how Strudwick could 
have painted those wonderfully dainty and 



BOTTICELLI 

gracious pictures of his had he never beheld 
the " Nativity." As the progenitor of these 
two masters Botticelli must be numbered with 
the blest ; but he shines by no borrowed light, 
and few painters below the greatest are pos- 
sessed of a charm so haunting when it has once 
been felt. 



RUBENS 
(1577-1640) 

BORN one year after Titian's death, Rubens 
was the last and in some respects the 
most dazzling product of the Italian Renais- 
sance. There are flowers which, when trans- 
planted to a foreign soil, assume strange forms 
never seen before and take on a new and start- 
ling brilliancy. So it was with the flower of 
Renaissance culture when transplanted to the 
Belgian Netherlands. It lost its delicacy, its 
grace of form, its refinement of color, its subtle 
perfume ; but it bloomed forth into something 
brighter, more gorgeous, and of a more start- 
ling splendor. At first glance it appears to 
have no affinity with the beautiful lily that 
grew tall and stately beside the Arno, gracious 
and lovely among the Umbrian mountains, 
luxuriant yet still refined beside the lagoons 
180 



RUBENS l8l 

of Venice; but on a careful scrutiny we dis- 
cover that it is still the same. 

If we imagine a number of wild Thracians 
coming to Athens to view the Pan-Athenaic 
procession and on their return attempting to 
enact it at one of the orgies of their bearded 
Bacchus, we shall have some idea of the trans- 
formation of Renaissance art when it passed 
from Raphael and Titian to its northern exile. 
The grace, the delicacy, the refinement are 
lost, but we have instead a wild, lusty strength, 
a primitive joy in animal existence, unprece- 
dented since man replaced the fauns and satyrs 
that haunted the primeval woods. 

The perfection of classic art is in its serenity 
and self-restraint, the subordination of the 
individual and characteristic to the ideal and 
universal. And yet, unrestrained and some- 
times even grotesque as Rubens is, he is es- 
sentially a classicist. He was one of the most 
accomplished men of his time, speaking all the 
languages of Western Europe, familiar with 
Latin and Greek, and steeped to the lips in 
ancient literature, art, and archaeology. That 
love for " the glory that was Greece and the 



1 82 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

grandeur that was Rome," that spirit of 
humanism which so permeated the elect spirits 
of the Italian Renaissance, was Rubens' in 
fullest measure. At the banquets of Lorenzo 
de' Medici, with Politian, Ficino, Filelfo, and 
the rest, he would have been the guest of 
honor. In his conversation, so learned, so 
brilliant, so full of tact and refined courtesy, 
they would have recognized a kindred soul ; 
and would have hailed him as one of the glories 
of the Renaissance. 

But art is nature seen through a tempera- 
ment, and no artist ever had a temperament 
so overmastering as that of Rubens. When 
he picked up the brush and sought to put 
upon the canvas (or rather the boards, for 
he usually painted on wood) those antique 
legends that he knew so well and loved so 
much, when he sought to translate to the eye 
those stories of the Greek and Latin poets with 
which he was so familiar, they suffered beneath 
his magic touch a wonderful sea-change. They 
remained things of rarest beauty, but instead 
of the chastened and refined beauty that had 
adorned them in their southern home, they 



RUBENS 183 

took on a florid and luxuriant beauty, a bar- 
baric pomp and splendor, a lusty vitality that 
is wholly new. 

Usually when he deals with classic subjects 
it is in his own manner. A great student of 
classic art, he yet understood that it must not 
be imitated, but used only as an inspiration. 
With his wonderful facility of execution he 
could no doubt have reproduced the master- 
pieces that he studied with absolute accuracy; 
but when he copies them he changes them to 
suit his own genius. With him classic scenes 
lose their calm majesty and are filled with 
tumult and fire. The tall, straight forms of 
ancient deities become overfull in their con- 
tours and their curves exaggerated. But that 
he can, if he sees fit, be perfectly classic in his 
outlines is attested by his wonderful " Tiberius 
and Agrippina " in the Liechtenstein Gallery, 
where a purity of drawing that is worthy of 
Greece is combined with a glory of color and 
an intense vitality peculiar to himself. 

While so entirely individual in his method 
of presentation, he embodied, though with 
superhuman power, the thoughts and ideals of 



1 84 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

his own day. No one, however powerful, can 
escape the spirit of the times in which he lives. 
Already art was invaded by the affectations, 
the baroque style, the fluttering draperies, the 
excessive curves, which a little later Bernini 
was to carry to so disastrous an excess. 
Rubens was permeated by all of these. Every 
fault of his contemporaries is found in his 
works: their stilted manner, their tedious alle- 
gories, their countless incongruities ; but these, 
in passing through the wonderful alembic of 
Rubens' genius, undergo a transformation, 
and, ceasing to be lifeless affectations, become 
endowed with an unspeakable vitality. He 
utters with his brush all the thoughts of his 
own age, but he utters them with the voice of 
a giant, so that their petty babblings sound 
like the blast of a trumpet. The ideals which 
he embodies are the ideals of his own time; 
but he clothes them for eternity. 

Even in his unbridled sensuousness he is a 
man of his age and country. The long, deso- 
lating religious wars were over in Belgium ; the 
stern, unbending Protestants had fled to Hol- 
land, Germany, or England, and the population 



RUBENS 185 

that remained, weary of suffering, thought 
only of festivals and enjoyment. In this dis- 
position they were encouraged by their rulers, 
who knew that happy people are never dan- 
gerous, and who sought by splendid pageants 
and worldly pleasures to divert the attention 
of their subjects from the strife-breeding ques- 
tions of the day. 

It was to this harmony with contemporary 
ideals that he owed his wonderful prosperity, 
a prosperity which Raphael alone has rivalled. 
They both stood as the perfect exponents of 
their respective ages, thinking the thoughts of 
their fellow-men, but giving to those thoughts 
forms of imperishable glory. Because they 
uttered the thoughts of their own time they 
were appreciated in their own day, and knew 
nothing of the penury and neglect that dog 
the footsteps of him who is either before or 
behind his age ; and because they bodied forth 
those thoughts in everlasting types their fame 
can never die. 

Rubens lived when allegory was the fashion. 
He was an elder contemporary of John Bun- 
yan. He turns out one allegory after another, 



1 86 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

sometimes fairly comprehensible, sometimes 
demanding a volume of explanations, and 
mingling real and mythological personages in 
a most bewildering manner. But while as 
allegories they are usually obscure enough, save 
those splendid works in which he so often tried 
to impress upon the strife-laden nations the 
contrast between the horrors of war and the 
blessings of peace, as pictures they are im- 
mensely successful, and we are content to gaze 
upon them for their own refulgent beauty, and 
never trouble ourselves to inquire what it is all 
about. 

The coarseness and sensuality of the art of 
Rubens offends all sensitive souls; and yet it 
would be impossible to make any list of the 
world's half-dozen supreme masters that should 
not include his name. There is none who is 
absolutely greater, and few indeed can stand 
beside him. He does not, like Michelangelo, 
carry us to dizzy heights where the soul com- 
munes with the Deity face to face; he does 
not, like Raphael, lead us by Castalian springs 
where the Greek Muses and the Christian 
Graces move in loving converse ; he does not, 



RUBENS 187 

like Titian, transport us to the Isle of Paphos, 
and show us Venus rising from the sea amid 
the glories of a summer sunset; he does not, 
like Leonardo, whisper to us the soul's un- 
spoken secrets. He is of the earth earthy, 
intensely human, and with a humanity that 
aspires to no higher sphere. 

In what, then, does his greatness consist ? 

In the first place, he exceeds all artists who , /, 
have ever lived in the power of life. He is the 
Prometheus of art, causing the inanimate clay 
to thrill and pulsate with unexampled vitality. 
Of all figures that ever glowed upon the canvas 
or sprang from the chiselled rock, his are the 
most alive; so much alive that the men and 
women who pass before them seem dead or 
sleeping in their presence. Beneath his brush 
the flesh gleams and quivers, the blood surges 
like liquid fire, or rolls in turgid rivers. It is 
a purely animal life, but a life of an intensity 
unparalleled since Leviathan sported in the 
flood and Behemoth reared his shaggy mane. 

From nothing in art or literature did Rubens 
borrow this vitality. The wildest orgies de- 
picted on Grecian marbles, the scenes por- 



1 88 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

trayed in the Fourth Book of Lucretius' De 
Rerum Natura^ are tame in comparison with 
those " banquets of the flesh " of the marvel- 
lous Fleming. Even that wonderful Battle of 
the Gods and Giants that adorned the high 
altar at Pergamon is not so full of seething, 
passionate life. 

This is Rubens' highest claim to immortal- 
ity, the indestructible rock on which is reared 
the imperishable temple of his fame. The 
power to infuse life into inanimate objects is 
the power which brings man closest to the 
Deity. It is art's supremest triumph. And 
this Rubens possessed in an unexampled de- 
gree. He used it not with the serene wisdom 
of the gods, but abused it in the wantonness 
of human pride. From the shadowy void of 
formless things he brought forth not shapes of 
celestial grace, but strange beings, half satyr 
and half man, palpitating with a vehement, 
sensuous life at which Pan himself would have 
gazed in open-mouthed astonishment. 

Such was Rubens when himself, Rubens 
painting for his own pleasure, uncontrolled 
by religious conventions or the necessities of 



RUBENS 189 

portraiture. But when the occasion demanded 
he could restrain this wild pagan spirit, and 
be most nobly human ; and while such scenes 
have not the fierce, lusty life of his prodigious 
orgies, they are immensely vital, more alive 
than when treated by any other hand. 

In the second place, he is the most brilliant 
colorist that ever lived. He seems to dip his 
brush in glowing, palpitating light; not the 
luminous gloom that encircles Rembrandt's 
ugly figures with an undying halo, but the 
dazzling brightness of a summer's noon. 

It will not do to say that he is the greatest 
of all colorists. The Venetians surpassed him 
in depth and harmony. But in brilliancy he 
remains forever unapproached. In every gal- 
lery his pictures shine out like a lambent flame. 
As far as the eye can reach, before the figures 
can be detected, his works can be distinguished 
at a glance. The same colors that others use 
acquire on his palette a more penetrating 
brightness. They seem lit up by a radiance 
that somehow fails to fall upon the works that 
hang beside them. It is neither the pale gray 
light of the north through which objects loom 



RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

pallid and indistinct, nor the clear white light 
of southern climes; it is a splendid super- 
mundane effulgence seen only in the painter's 
visions as he dreamed of that Italy which he 
loved so well, basking beneath Apollo's golden 

beams. 

. 

It is this supernatural brilliancy of color that 
makes Rubens' pictures the most incompre- 
hensible of all to him who has studied them 
only in photographs and engravings. To 
such, Rubens seems simply coarse and inele- 
gant, and the beholder wonders why this un- 
couth Fleming should be throned beside the 
mighty ones of Italy and Greece. But no one 
who has looked upon the original masterpieces 
long enough to recover from the first shock of 
their unbridled sensuality can doubt his right 
to be numbered with the greatest; and the 
more we look the more we love his splendor, 
and the paler and darker seem the works that 
hang beside him. Take, for example, the 
" Judgment of Paris " in the National Gallery 
or the " Perseus and Andromeda " at Berlin. 
Anyone studying these in black and white, 
and seeing only the coarse outlines and heavy 



RUBENS IQI 

forms, would pronounce them ugly; while in 
fact the rich splendor of their coloring converts 
them into visions of eternal beauty. 

The work of every artist is very apt to be 
affected by the prevailing atmospheric condi- 
tions of his country. Different men may de- 
vote their attention to differing objects, but 
they all see them through the same all-pervad- 
ing medium. In a dry climate like Florence, 
where there is little atmospheric coloring, and 
every outline stands forth clear and distinct, 
the painter is apt to be primarily a draughts- 
man. In a moist climate like Venice, where 
in the shimmering mists outlines are frequently 
blurred, and where the sun rises and sets in a 
blaze of glory, the painter is apt to sacrifice 
outline to color. It is therefore not surprising 
that in the far mistier climate of the Nether- 
lands Rubens was essentially a colorist. So 
much environment did for him ; but it was his 
own supreme genius that made of him in that 
gray, dark land the most brilliant colorist that 
the world has ever seen, dipping his brush in 
tints so splendid that they seem to have been 
made for him alone. 



192 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

In the third place, he is the greatest of all 
painters of the flesh. Even Titian is not his 
equ&L With a few strokes of the brush, with 
an amazing economy of labor, he brings before 
us the living, palpitating flesh, with all its 
quivering vitality, its satiny sheen. The 
human flesh is the most difficult of all things 
to paint, and yet the most important, for 
nothing is more profoundly true than that 
saying of Pope's that " the proper study of 
mankind is man." Hence, he who can excel 
in that is entitled to be called the most skilful 
of the wielders of the brush. 

Great discrimination is required in the study 
of Rubens' works. He was not merely an 
earnest and laborious painter, but, like Ra- 
phael, he was the presiding genius of an im- 
mense picture manufactory, where all manner 
of decorative commissions were undertaken. 
In practically all of his works, save those of his 
early days and a few painted in his latter years 
to glorify the voluptuous beauty of his second 
wife, the handiwork of his pupils is seen. For 
many pictures he furnished only a sketch, 
leaving to the assistants the entire work of 



RUBENS 193 

gainting. In some he only touched up the 
flesh tints ; in others he reserved to himself the 
principal figures, leaving the background and 
the accessories to meaner hands. But so char- 
acteristic is his touch, that we can rarely doubt 
where his work ends and where commences the 
labor even of the most skilful of his pupils; 
and he has fortunately left many documents 
stating accurately the extent of their participa- 
tion, to confirm us in our deductions. 

Nothing is more difficult to carry on than a 
picture factory like this. Artists are notorious 
for their delicately strung nerves, their sensi- 
tiveness to criticism, their vanity and their 
irritability; and it is almost impossible to in- 
duce them to work together in harmony and 
under the guidance of a common master. 
Only two men have had the tact and suavity 
to succeed entirely in such an enterprise, Ra- 
phael and Rubens, the two most charming 
personalities in all the history of art, combining 
the perfection of technical skill with the grace 
and polish of the most accomplished men of 
the world and the native urbanity of a heart 
of gold, so that all who knew them loved them. 



194 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

Both have been severely criticized for the 
employment of their assistants, and most un- 
justly blamed. In this way they were enabled 
to multiply their production many times while 
keeping it essentially their own ; and upon the 
great economic principle of the division of 
labor it would seem folly for the man who 
could paint the face of the Virgin or the flesh 
of the Magdalen as no one else could do, to 
waste his precious moments on draperies and 
furniture. 

Moreover, in this way great schemes of 
decoration could be carried out with a unity 
of design and style that is now impossible. 
Look at any of our public buildings that have 
been adorned since the practice of collabora- 
tion has been abandoned. Each picture is the 
work of a single artist, and a unity in itself; 
but all the separate unities generally make a 
most discordant whole ; and it is only on those 
rare occasions where an entire building is 
turned over to a single artist, as was some- 
times the case with Baudry and Puvis de 
Chavannes, that a satisfactory result proceeds 
from so much labor. 



RUBENS 195 

Rubens' amazing and unexampled fecundity 
was not due altogether nor chiefly to the as- 
sistance of his pupils. He himself had an un- 
equalled facility of production. His mastery 
of the brush was perfect ; his ability to produce 
the desired effect with the greatest economy of 
labor has never been excelled. He had the 
true artist's eye, which seizes at once on the 
essential characteristics of things, and his wide 
reading and continual converse with learned 
men filled his mind with unlimited ideas to be 
transmuted into pictures. When you look at 
the orgies and revels which he delights to 
paint, you would expect to find a boon com- 
panion and a wassailer; but of all artists he 
was the most methodical and industrious. Be- 
tween the man and his art there was a mighty 
gulf. His works are the most unrestrained in 
all art's wide domain, but in his life he was 
the model of manly virtue, living laborious 
days and passing his nights in the bosom of 
his family. Even in the painting of those 
impetuous canvases where it seems as if the 
artist, hurried onward by the fire of his imagi- 
nation, had lost all self-control, he was never 



196 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

for a moment carried away, but moved on with 
calm self-mastery, advancing the picture each 
day as much as time and circumstances would 
permit. 

Like most men destined to a long life, 
Rubens was slow to develop, and he was well 
advanced in manhood before his style was 
formed. The pictures painted during his 
youth are numerous and they are entirely by 
his hand, but in the estimate of his genius 
they are scarcely to be considered the real 
Rubens has not yet been born. During a 
long sojourn in Italy, on emerging from his 
master's studio he acquired the vicious method 
of Caravaggio, which was then the rage, with 
its high lights and black shadows, and it was 
many years before he shook it off. His life 
was one long progress toward the light. Each 
year the shadows grow less opaque, each year 
the passage from light to shadow is less abrupt, 
until gradually the shadows almost pass away, 
and the light shines forth with an effulgence 
without example. 

Perhaps the period of his painting that ap- 
peals to the greater number is the middle one, 



RUBENS 197 

when he produced the " Descent from the 
Cross " at Antwerp and so many other noble 
masterpieces; but the works which are most 
attractive to the real lover of Rubens are those 
which he painted in his later years after his 
marriage to Helen Fourment. 

At the age of fifty-three Rubens wedded 
this girl of sixteen. A wonderfully fair 
blonde, she was accounted the most beauti- 
ful woman in Flanders. She was the perfec- 
tion of the type toward which the art of 
Rubens had been constantly tending. His 
love for her was unbounded, and henceforth 
his painting is but a song in praise of her 
voluptuous charms. Marvellous as had been 
his brush-work before, astonishing his skill as 
a painter of flesh, henceforth he surpasses 
himself. In everything he produced afterwards 
the satiny sheen of her plump, blond flesh is 
seen, painted with a caressing touch that only 
love could dictate, and with a perfect mastery 
that remains forever unapproachable. 

And his indiscretions in the disclosure of her 
beauty are amazing even among painters. He 
has portrayed her in every stage of nudity, 



198 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

from the absolutely undraped " Andromeda " 
of Berlin and " Venus of the Prado " to the 
far more suggestive half nudity of the " Shep- 
herd and Shepherdess" at Munich and " La 
Pelisse" at Vienna. Of all these countless 
portrayals of her beauty the last is probably 
the best probably the most perfect piece of 
flesh painting in all the world; and his own 
appreciation of it is shown in his keeping it by 
him while he lived, and leaving it to his wife 
as a legacy at his death. 

Singularly pure in his life for his profession 
and his age, the imagination of Rubens had 
always been of a sensuous type ; and as men 
of that description advance in years a warmer 
voluptuousness usually displays itself in their 
works; as, for example, in those of Titian. 
This was the case with Rubens, and after his 
marriage to Helen Fourment his art became 
a hymn in glorification of the beauty of the 
flesh. Rich and with an established fame, 
no longer annoyed with those embassies and 
political commissions into which he had been 
drawn because of his rare tact in dealing with 
princes, he was able to paint more for his own 



RUBENS 199 

pleasure; and it was apparently for the joy of 
the work itself that he produced that wonder- 
ful series of pictures of voluptuous beauty 
which have so aptly been called his " banquets 
of the flesh." 

This had always been the most characteristic^! 
side,pf his art, the side on which he will remain 
forever unapproachable; but his marriage with 
Helen gave him the model that seemed per- 
fect to his eyes and one which he could never 
weary of depicting ; and so from that time this 
style remained uppermost. It was owing to 
his love for her that he brought to perfec- 
tion that luminous type of the perfect blonde 
that has been the despair of all succeeding 
artists. 

The morality of the art of Rubens has been 
much discussed. Some persons are shocked 
beyond measure at the grossness of his pic- 
tures; others equally pure find in them no 
offense. But it is rather a question of temper- 
ament than of morals. Those of a cold 
temperament find him shocking in the ex- 
treme, while they see nothing objectionable in 
many works which, though more refined, are 



r: 



2OO RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

more immoral; while those of warmer blood 
discover in Rubens nothing to offend. Some, 
like Ruskin, go so far as to allow their preju- 
dice against the morality of his works to blind 
them to his greatness as an artist ; but these 
are few, and are not increasing. 

These " banquets of the flesh/' which to 
some are so objectionable, must remain Ru- 
bens' greatest masterpieces. In them he has 
the opportunity to display to perfection the 
three qualities in which he stands supreme: 

l__his superabundant vitality, his brilliant color, 
and his living flesh. But they are not all. 

'It. He is one of the noblest of religious painters. 
So far as we know, he was sincerely religious. 
He began each day by hearing mass, and con- 
formed to all the requirements of the Church. 
In this there may have been something of 
worldly policy in an age and country where 
safety could be found only in conformity to 
ecclesiastical demands; but Rubens was no 
hypocrite, and was doubtless a Christian, 
though one of liberal mind. That spirit of 
humanism that penetrated the Renaissance 
permitted a man to have a Christian soul and 



RUBENS 201 

a pagan art. Had he not been a Christian he 
could scarcely have brought his wanton im- 
agination to render with so much nobility of 
feeling the scriptural story. In the gentler 
scenes from the Gospels the face of his Christs 
is usually rather commonplace; but in the 
great tragic moments he rises to the level of 
his subject, and the face, though wrung with 
pain, is noble and manly in the highest degree. 
It is human and not divine, but it is grandly 
human. 

Of all these religious pictures the best 
known, and on the whole the finest, is the 
" Descent from the Cross " at Antwerp. It is 
a work worthy to stand beside Titian's " As- 
sumption." The unity of the composition is 
perfect, every feeling and every emotion cen- 
tering around the descending body of our 
Lord. Each movement is rhythmical yet 
grand, and while pity and sorrow are intense, 
they are not carried to the point of disfigura- 
tion. It is one of the great masterpieces in 
grandeur of style. The color is not yet so 
rich as the master afterwards attained nor the 
lights so skilfully handled ; but as a noble, 



2O2 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

dignified work of religious painting it has few 
rivals, and perhaps no superior. 

There are many others by Rubens' brush 
that are fit for its illustrious companionship; 
such, for example, as the noble " Theodosius 
Refused Admittance to the Church," that 
adorns the gallery at Vienna; but there are 
also many others which he painted for relig- 
ious pictures and which were gravely hung in 
sacred places that are really as much " ban- 
quets of the flesh " as those which he painted 
in praise of Helen Fourment's beauty. Yet 
who would wish them otherwise ? Who 
would blot out those numerous Saint Sebas- 
tians, Magdalens, and Susannahs that are 
among art's greatest triumphs ? The Mag- 
dalen in the picture of " Christ and the Four 
Penitents" at Munich, with her perfect blond 
beauty and her shoulders so white and smooth 
that beside them the richest satin would seem 
coarse, is alone worth a king's ransom. 

Rubens was himself most abstemious for his 
time, but he took a strange delight in the 
representation of drunkenness. Silenus and 
his drunken rout repeatedly pass before us, 



RUBENS 2O3 

and even Hercules reels by, supported by 
fauns and satyrs whose intoxication is scarcely 
less complete. And it is with evident love 
that he paints all this. Sober himself, he de- 
lights to note in those around him the exhilara- 
tion and the imbecility of the winecup. And 
this was not so unreasonable in his day as it 
now appears. Drunkenness then brought no 
dishonor. It was the accompaniment and the 
crown of every banquet. The ancestors of his 
fellow-citizens had been the worshippers of the 
god Thor, whose proudest exploit had been 
that he had threatened to drink the ocean dry. 
Rubens in this, as in other things, accepted the 
ideas of his time, but clothed them in forms 
that have made them colossal and eternal. 

Rubens was principally a painter of the 
human figure, but he excelled all contempo- 
raries in every other branch. Usually the 
animals in his pictures were painted by Sny- 
ders or some other assistant; but when he 
turned his hand to them, even Snyders had to 
own himself surpassed. In his early days he 
paid little regard to landscape, usually having 
his backgrounds painted in by others; but in 



204 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

his declining years, when he had retired to the 
country, he devoted some attention to the 
study of nature, and the landscapes that he 
painted go far beyond anything that had 
hitherto been produced in penetrating obser- 
vation of natural phenomena, particularly of 
clouds, light, and atmosphere ; while his vege- 
tation has the same superabundant life and sap 
that characterize his men and animals. 

He was too intensely original to devote 
himself greatly to portraiture. He abhorred 
the literal fact. Even when he set himself to 
copy a picture by a master whom he loved, as, 
for example, Mantegna's " Triumph of Julius 
Caesar," it was never an accurate transcription, 
but a free version in his own exuberant lan- 
guage. Therefore his portraits are not numer- 
ous, and perhaps they are not absolutely true 
to fact; but they are full of palpitating life, 
and sometimes they are perfect in their style. 
What could be lovelier or more living than the 
charming portrait of the elder sister of Helen 
Fourment that hangs in the National Gallery, 
and is called " Le Chapeau de Foil," or that 
Jacqueline de Cordes that is one of the brightest 



RUBENS 205 

jewels in the gallery at Brussels ? His por- 
traits have not the aristocratic bearing that 
Van Dyck gave to all his sitters nor the in- 
tense realism of Velasquez ; but they are won- 
derfully alive. 

Yet it is easy to see that in painting them 
Rubens felt himself hampered, and that he 
worked unwillingly save when love guided the 
brush. He turns with evident delight to 
themes that leave to his imagination unfettered 
scope, and particularly to vast canvases which 
he could fill with exuberant forms of super- 
human power. 

He was not a painter of miniatures. He 
loved broad surfaces over which his brush 
could sweep in unfettered boldness of design 
and execution. He preferred figures of natural 
size; and in the handling of large groups in 
strenuous action he has had few compeers. 
Sometimes, like Michelangelo in his " Last 
Judgment," he overreached himself, as in his 
" Fall of the Damned" and " Fall of the 
Rebel Angels," and in his two versions of the 
" Last Judgment " at Munich, crowding 
the scene to such an extent that pictorial 



2O6 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

effect is lost ; but usually he succeeds wonder- 
fully, as in the marvellous " Boar Hunt " at 
Dresden and " Lion Hunt " at Munich; 
which, in the intensity of the passions, the 
vehemence of the action, and the impression 
of strenuous vitality, are worthy a place beside 
Leonardo's " Battle of the Standard," a part 
of which Rubens had copied, and which no 
doubt he had in mind when these masterpieces 
were produced. 

Yet the man who painted these wonderful 
displays of rage and power has had no rival save 
Correggio in depicting the sweet innocence of 
babyhood. He loved children with all his 
soul, and delighted in their dimpled charms, 
their guileless mirth, and their bird-like prat- 
tle. His children are not superhumanly bright 
and soulful, youthful seraphs, like those of 
Correggio. But they are so plump, so healthy, 
so full of bubbling life, so thoroughly childlike 
that they are irresistible. Where will you find 
such a picture of babyhood as the " Christ and 
St. John with Two Infant Angels " in the gal- 
lery at Berlin ? And he painted many others 
that are little, if at all, inferior. 



RUBENS 207 

As we have said, in the handling of large 
masses in movement or at rest, he has had 
few, if any, equals. However great the crowd, 
he possesses a wonderful faculty of binding it 
together so as to produce an effect of unity. 
The wealth of details rarely detracts from the 
unity of the effect. To crowd a picture with 
figures is nearly always a mistake. The asser- 
tion made by a distinguished artist that there 
was never a great picture with more than one 
figure is of course an exaggeration ; but when 
they surpass a certain number they are rarely 
handled with success. As some generals can 
marshal a larger army than others, so Rubens 
could marshal a greater array of figures in more 
varied action than is usually possible. Again 
and again he presents us vast compositions, 
such as the " Rape of the Sabines," the 
" Massacre of the Innocents," the " Garden 
of Love," the " Kermesse," and the like, 
filled with many figures, each entirely indi- 
vidual and deserving of special study, yet all 
contributing to produce a single impression. 

Though so different, Rubens reminds one of 
Michelangelo. In the mighty Florentine he 



208 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

finds his only rival in vital force. In that re- 
spect those two giants stand upon an eminence 
which none other dares approach. The life 
that quivers in every muscle of Michelangelo's 
titans is gloomy and stern, full of inward striv- 
ings and of aspirations too lofty for this world. 
The life that surges in reddest blood through 
the overfed bodies of Rubens and glistens in 
their shining flesh is joyous, earthly, and 
sensual, and thrills with no supermundane de- 
sires; but it is equally intense. The one is the 
life of titans that would pile Pelion on Ossa to 
reach the heaven from which they are ex- 
cluded ; the other is what the life of the fauns, 
satyrs, and wood nymphs would have been had 
they grown up in a richer, fatter land, flowing 
with milk and honey, and where the gift of 
Bacchus hung from every bough. 

He also resembles Michelangelo in his im- 
mense originality. No other artists are so 
original, none others owe so little to external 
suggestion. Michelangelo deals with strenu- 
ous muscles, Rubens with palpitating flesh. 
Michelangelo is above the weaknesses of 
earth ; the art of Rubens is the apotheosis 



RUBENS 2O9 

of carnal appetites. Both are equally re- 
moved from the serene perfection of Raphael, 
both are abnormal, pressing their characteristic 
qualities far beyond the narrow bounds of na- 
ture. Their men and women are not human- 
ity perfected ; but humanity with special quali- 
ties developed to a superhuman degree. But 
in their way of looking at the world, in the 
character of the types which they evoke and 
the method of their presentation, Michelangelo 
and Rubens are both removed to an immeasur- 
able distance from those who approach them 
closest. 

They are alike also in that neither founded 
a school, and both were stumbling blocks in 
the way of those who followed. This is the 
inevitable consequence of supreme strength. 
Skill may be imitated, but strength is Nature's 
gift. And the sight of strength is demoraliz- 
ing to the weak. They strive to imitate its 
play, but theatrical straining after effect is the 
only result. Both had many admirers, and 
Rubens had many pupils ; but the true art of 
both was so intensely personal that it perished 
when they died. 



210 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

Rubens is one of the broadest of all painters. 
In landscape, in the painting of animals, in 
humanity's boundless realm he was almost in- 
exhaustible. There was only one limitation 
to his talent he could not scale the loftiest 
heights. Man's highest spiritual nature was 
to him a sealed book. Ordinary emotions he 
could feel intensely; but he could not climb 
Sinai's riven summit with Michelangelo nor 
stand with Phidias in serene majesty upon 
Parnassus' brow. His place was in the valley 
where dwell the men of earth, or in the forest 
glades where Bacchus and his rout held their 
prodigious revels. 

The spirit of the Renaissance will never die, 
but Rubens was its last great exemplar. Al- 
ready the two great painters who were his 
younger contemporaries, Rembrandt and Vel- 
asquez, have wholly escaped its influence, 
looking upon the world with different eyes and 
from a different point of view. But as the 
dying day often flares up in a sunset glory 
that makes us almost forget its noontide splen- 
dor, so Rubens came to give to the dying 
Renaissance the one triumph that it lacked. 



CLAUDE LORRAINE 
(1600-1682) 

LANDSCAPE artists, like all others, are 
divided into two great schools, the real- 
ists, who are content to reproduce with photo- 
graphic accuracy the things they see, and the 
idealists, who strive to body forth their own 
conceptions. Of these, the latter are the 
higher type. For the realist only a clear eye, a 
cunning hand, and technical training are essen- 
tial. The idealist worthy of the name must 
possess all these, and must have in addition 
that capacity to evoke forms of power and 
beauty from the shadowy void, that creative 
faculty, which brings man closest to the Deity. 
The idealistic school has been discredited in 
the opinion of many by the incompetency so 
often manifested by its practitioners. Their 
minds teeming with images, they have sought 

211 



212 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

to give to their visions a local habitation and a 
name without first attaining the technical mas- 
tery essential for self-expression. They have 
sought to dance before they have learned to 
walk ; and the result has been feeble, sometimes 
even grotesque. If we attempt to produce the 
ideal without an effectual hold of the real, we 
have vague, lifeless abstractions that may excite 
the wonder of the ignorant, but which cannot 
long command attention. But when both are 
combined, when a dream is clothed with a real- 
ism so intense that it seems as true as fact, as in 
the case of Dante's vision of Heaven and Hell, 
or when the hard actualities of life are bathed in 
an ideal atmosphere, as in Hawthorne's Scarlet 
Letter, we have a work that will survive the 
wearing of the ages. 

The real is the first thing to be aimed at. 
We cannot write a poem until we have mastered 
the grammar; we cannot dance until we have 
learned to walk. But if we are content with 
grammatical exercises, we shall never produce 
literature ; if we are content to walk, we shall 
know nothing of the poetry of motion. As the 
scholar learns a language not for the sake of 



CLAUDE LORRAINE 213 

knowing it, but as a key to the treasures which 
it unlocks, so the idealist learns to reproduce 
the real by brush or chisel only as a means of 
giving tangible forms to the visions of beauty 
that float before his mind's eye. 

It is the function of art to perfect nature. 
She is a wonderful enchantress, infinite in her 
variety, but never perfect in her workmanship. 
Of the thousands of leaves upon a tree, no two 
are alike, yet no one of them is the perfect type 
to which the others should conform. Of the 
millions of beautiful women that have adorned 
the earth, no two could be mistaken for one an- 
other on a careful comparison, yet not one is 
faultless. And so it is in landscape. There 
was never a scene so lovely that it could not be 
improved by the removal of some unsightly or 
discordant object, or the addition of something 
to enhance its beauty or sublimity. The painter 
who reproduces any view, however enchanting, 
with literal accuracy, has merely learned the 
technic of his craft. He is not a creative genius. 
To be such he must not only know the secrets 
of mixing and applying paint to board and can- 
vas ; he must have studied Nature with such 



214 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

loving insight that he can enter into her work- 
shop and comprehend her processes. He must 
not only be able to copy what she has done, 
but to create scenes that she might have created 
and as she would have made them. He should 
be able to use the prospect before him as the 
inspired sculptor uses the living model merely 
as a source of suggestions and as a guide to 
truth. He should be able to look beyond 
the actual to the ideal, taking the real only 
as a firm foundation on which to plant the 
ladder of his dreams. 

Thus it was with Claude Lorraine, who, in 
spite of all the attacks made upon him by smart 
critics, still remains the prince of landscape 
painters. Never did artist study nature with 
more loving care. His two biographers, Sand- 
rart and Baldinucci, tell us how he would 
wander forth into the Campagna before the 
dawn and remain until after nightfall, striving 
to fix upon his palette every gradation of light, 
every tint of the earth and sky, every atmos- 
pheric effect ; how laboriously he would copy 
every tree and leaf and flower, every rock and 
mountain, the flowing brook and the rippling, 



CLAUDE LORRAINE 21$ 

sun-kissed sea. Innumerable sketches remain 
to attest his industry and the keenness of his 
observation. These are no doubt but a small 
fragment of the whole ; yet they demonstrate 
that he was no idle dreamer, but one of the 
most conscientious seekers after truth in all the 
range of art. They show, too, that he perceived 
many things that he did not put upon his canvas 
because they did not suit his purpose ; things 
which critics have accused him of being too 
artificial to appreciate. They prove that had 
he desired it he could have been one of the most 
effective realists that ever lived. His Liber 
Veritatis, with its two hundred drawings of his 
finished pictures, is unhappily locked up at 
Chatsworth, the home of the Duke of Devon- 
shire; but every important gallery in Europe 
possesses some of his sketches and drawings, 
the National Gallery an immense number ; and 
these show a delicacy and precision that rank 
Claude among the great draughtsmen ; nor is 
their beauty more remarkable than the variety 
of the observations that they record. But all 
this enormous mastery of detail he used only 
as steps to the ideal. He did not sit down be- 



2l6 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

fore a landscape and copy it with literal fidelity. 
From the view before him he eliminated every 
discordant element and added what was needed 
to make it perfect ; and he bathed it all in an 
atmosphere of celestial peace that Nature has 
never known and man has found only in his 
dreams of heaven. There results a scene like the 
" Marriage of Isaac and Rebecca " in the Doria 
Gallery, such as Nature has never made, but 
which is true in every detail, and which she 
would have rejoiced to make had her mood 
been happier. To a dweller in a northern clime 
these pictures may seem unreal in the ideality 
of their beauty; but he who has wandered 
through the hills and valleys of Umbria with 
their sense of limitless space and their mountains 
blue in the distance, who has gazed from the 
battlements of her high-perched cities over the 
broad vales where all lies in unbroken repose 
touched with sweetest melancholy, to the far- 
off summits whose sun-kissed clouds seem 
heaven's own outworks, who has stood at a 
Mediterranean seaport and watched the setting 
sun fill the air with gold-dust and suffuse the 
sapphire sea with amethystine tints, he can 



CLAUDE LORRAINE 21? 

understand that while the scene which Claude 
spreads out before us is nature perfected, it is 
still as true as it is enchanting. 

In four aspects of landscape art Claude has 
never been surpassed, and rarely equalled : in 
beauty, in serene peacefulness, in the sense of 
space, in atmosphere and light. 

The beauty of his landscapes none can deny. 
Everything that nature offers most alluring to 
the eye is to be found there ; trees that are the 
perfection of symmetry and grace ; crystalline 
brooks that murmur between their verdurous 
banks, now breaking into miniature waterfalls, 
now spreading out into lovely pools that reflect 
the glories of the earth and sky ; distant moun- 
tains whose curves possess a truly feminine grace 
which yet detracts not from their sublimity ; 
ancient ruins and classic buildings of pleasing 
architecture ; the sunlit sea in all the charm of 
its hours of peace. And while he gives us all 
these in their most exquisite forms, he excludes 
all that is ugly, all that is out of keeping with 
the spirit of the scene. His pictures are true 
harmonies, such harmonies as have rarely been 
produced. 



2l8 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

The realist says : " This is all very beautiful, 
but it is artificial. Nature makes nothing so 
perfect." To which Claude might reply : "Every 
tree, every mountain, every aspect of earth and 
sky, has been studied from Nature. Every part 
is true, and if I have brought together forms 
of grace and beauty that Nature scattered far 
apart, I have but discharged the function of 
the artist." And the traveller who will follow 
Claude over the rolling Campagna and the 
Alban and Sabine hills into Umbria's land of 
enchantment will see that Nature in her happiest 
moments can give us effects almost as sym- 
metrical, almost as serenely beautiful, as any 
offered by Claude's magic brush. Pictures which 
to the dwellers in less favored countries seem 
too exquisite for reality are little more than the 
bare truth in that region of delight. 

Besides, no one reproaches Phidias or the 
unknown sculptor of the Venus of Melos with 
having surpassed Nature in dealing with the 
human form. Their figures, though super- 
human, are true to life. And so it is with 
Claude's landscapes. They are perfectly true 
to Nature, such scenes as she has made in 



CLAUDE LORRAINE 219 

Italy, such as she might have made in other 
lands had her mood been happier. The fact 
that they are not transcripts of any particular 
view does not impair their truth, any more 
than the Venus of Melos suffers because she is 
not a literal reproduction of any model. 

I have never understood the reproach so 
often directed against Claude of introducing 
into his pictures Roman ruins and classic archi- 
tecture. Such things exist, and they are beau- 
tiful. They were constantly under his eye. 
Men travel thousands of miles to see them. 
Why, then, should not Claude use them to 
embellish his landscapes ? They are as real as 
a peasant's hut. But somehow in these later 
days the idea has gotten abroad that only the 
ugly and the commonplace are real ; that things 
of elegance and beauty lend an aspect of arti- 
ficiality to a scene. Yet in fact the togaed 
Romans, the mailed knights of chivalry, and 
the silken courtiers of Watteau were just as 
real as the drunken boors of Teniers or the 
peasants of Millet, and the artist who repre- 
sented them as they were was as true a realist. 
Nor was Claude's introduction of these ruins 



22O RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

and this beautiful architecture the result of 
pedantry. He was an unlearned, almost an il- 
literate man, who painted as a bird sings, from 
the fulness of an overflowing heart. He painted 
the things that were lovely in his eyes, and 
happily there are few to whom they are not a 
source of perennial delight. If Claude had had 
no successors, the charge of artificiality would 
probably never have been advanced ; but un- 
happily he was followed by a horde of imita- 
tors, who, with no study of Nature, sought to 
paint scenes like his; and their lifeless pro- 
ductions have brought the whole school into 
disrepute. 

In conveying a sense of peace Claude has 
never been equalled, and this makes him one 
of the greatest ethical forces in the domain of 
art. The old Greek virtue of serenity one of 
the greatest of all virtues has been sadly lack- 
ing in modern days. Instead, we have con- 
tinual unrest, strivings for the unattainable, 
dissatisfaction with ourselves and with all about 
us. Claude takes us out of this nervous, irri- 
table, work-a-day world, and transports us into 
a land of enchantment, where all is peace and 



CLAUDE LORRAINE 221 

rest and serenest joy ; where strife and sin 
have been forgotten ; where the gladness of 
the morning, the delicious languor of a day in 
June, or the exquisite reveries of the sunset 
hour abide forever. When we are oppressed 
with toil and care ; when love and hope seem 
mockeries and hate and pain and weariness the 
only realities, then let the troubled spirit turn 
to Claude and bathe in his immortal sunshine. 
There are few pictures that we so love to live 
with, that have so healing an effect upon the 
soul. The calm beauty of his landscapes de- 
scends upon us like a benediction. They take 
us out of ourselves, out of our sordid surround- 
ings, away from the trivialities of our petty 
existence, and bear us off into a world of serene 
beauty, where struggle and sorrow are unknown 
or but a fading memory that enhances our 
sense of tranquil happiness. Of all man's 
dreams of heaven on earth, Claude's come 
nearest to perfection. 

Nature is infinite in her manifestations, and 
some of her aspects appeal to one, some to 
another ; but there are many of us for whom 
the finest quality in a landscape is the sense of 



222 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

space, the uplifting of the soul into the infinite 
that it gives. In this respect Claude has never 
been equalled save by Turner in a few in- 
stances ; and he produces his effects with the 
sureness of a consummate master, whose hand 
rarely fails. 

If any man of clear vision will ask himself 
what was the supreme moment of his soul's 
expansion, what was the moment when he felt 
most like a god, when the trammels of the flesh 
seemed to fall away and the disembodied spirit 
to soar highest in the heavens, he will recall 
the instant when some far-reaching prospect 
was first opened to his gaze. He will think of 
the time when he first stood on Mount Royal 
above Montreal, upon Richmond Hill, on Peru- 
gia's battlements, or on some other eminence 
overlooking a limitless expanse. In the pres- 
ence of such a view we forget that we are 
poor creatures crawling upon the earth. The 
soul takes unto itself the wings of the morning, 
and flies away over sea and land into the realm 
of the infinite. 

The weakness of man's mind and of his 
vision is such that for him to feel the sense of 



CLAUDE LORRAINE 

space the scene must have a distant boundary 
and there must be objects between on which 
the eye can rest. The most limitless of all 
views is up into the cloudless heavens, where 
the closest star is millions of miles away ; but 
we wholly fail to grasp its import. So it is 
beside the sea. Its vastness so far exceeds our 
comprehension, the eye is so completely lost 
over the boundless expanse, that we have no 
realization of distance. But in the region 
around Rome, where Claude spent nearly the 
whole of his long life, everything combines to 
fill us with a sense of space. The gently roll- 
ing Campagna, dotted with ruins and studded 
with an occasional tree or dwelling, lures the 
eye on and on from point to point till at last it 
rests upon the far-off mountains. There are 
countless objects to arrest the gaze, and as our 
glance ranges from one to another ever farther 
away, the vista seems to stretch into infinity. 

Claude had this view ever before his eyes, 
and its lesson sank into his soul as it has never 
sunk into the soul of any other artist. Nearly 
all of his pictures give us an unparalleled sense 
of space. The eye is led on from tree to river, 



224 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

from river to hill, and from hill to distant 
mountain that suggests yet something beyond. 
The vanishing point seems removed to an un- 
limited distance ; and in their presence we feel 
the same thrill, the same sense of the immedi- 
ate presence of the infinite as when we have 
climbed some eminence that gives us a far- 
reaching view. 

There are few artists who are so sure of their 
effects as Claude. Of course, being human, he 
failed at times ; but the failures are so few that 
they can be ignored in the estimate of his 
achievement. He was not a rapid worker. He 
painted with so much care, he was so deter- 
mined that every detail should be accurate, 
that with all his unflagging industry he turned 
out only from three to five pictures a year ; but 
he was fortunately spared for so great a length 
of days that his total production amounted to 
some four hundred finished paintings, so that 
every considerable gallery in Europe can boast 
of something from his brush, while the homes 
of the English nobility and gentry are teeming 
with his works. And in all this vast output 
how few are the unworthy canvases ! Nearly 



CLAUDE LORRAINE 22$ 

every one of them gives us a glorious vision of 
peace and beauty, and arouses in us a percep- 
tion of the infinity of space. 

Landscape art has explored so many fields 
since Claude's day that it is hard now to realize 
that in his own time he was something of a 
revolutionist, making many advances upon the 
work of his predecessors. The chief of these 
was that he was the first to place the sun 
in the sky. In the predella of his "Adora- 
tion of the Kings," in the Florentine Academy, 
Gentile da Fabrino paints the sun ; but he 
gives it the face of a man, and makes no effort 
to depict its real aspect. The same is true of 
all Claude's predecessors. Claude not only 
painted the rising and the setting sun, but he 
painted it so well that no one has since sur- 
passed or even equalled him. Some of Turner's 
sunsets are said to have been originally more 
brilliant ; but the pigments used were so defec- 
tive that they have long since faded; and 
for the present generation Claude is still the 
painter who gives us the most perfect presenta- 
tion of the sun's glory. 

In light and atmosphere and the rendering of 



226 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

the sky he also made an immense advance on 
anything that had been done before. Many 
atmospheric phenomena, many effects of light 
have been since presented by the brush that 
Claude either failed to observe or eliminated as 
unsuited to his purpose. But in the rendition 
of those effects which he chose to portray he is 
still the master. His landscapes are bathed in 
atmosphere ; not the heavy moist atmosphere 
of the north of Europe, which envelops every- 
thing in mist and blurs all outlines, but the 
clear, luminous atmosphere of sunlit Italy, 
which leaves all clear and distinct and only 
serves to accentuate the distance. 

And there are no pictures more thoroughly 
suffused with light. It permeates everywhere. 
It shimmers through the foliage, it laughs upon 
the surface of the rippling brook, it caresses 
the ruin in the foreground, it bathes the dis- 
tant hill in splendor. But it is never obtrusive. 
As in nature, it is the all-pervading revealer of 
opaque objects, not a thing existing for itself. 
And Claude comprehended what so many real- 
ists have forgotten, that the light can fall as well 
upon the beautiful as upon the ugly, that it can 



CLAUDE LORRAINE 22^ 

light up a temple or a palace as delightfully as a 
cottage. Claude realized, too, the limitations 
of pigment in dealing with light a thing which 
the impressionists have yet to learn. Knowing 
that no paint could reproduce the clear bril- 
liancy of sunlight, he did as a composer who 
transposes a harmony to a lower key he did 
the best he could to represent the sun's bright- 
ness, and then brought down all the other 
lights in proportion, so as to preserve the har- 
mony of effect. The impressionist, on the other 
hand, tries to paint the light precisely as it is. 
He can give us the exact tone of light in the 
shadows ; but he cannot produce the brilliance 
of the sunlight, and so discord results. To any 
normal eye the light in Claude's pictures is 
more natural than in the productions of the 
plein air school. He reproduces Nature's har- 
mony, though in a lower key ; while they, with 
all their scientific accuracy of observation, give 
us a discord unknown to her. 

Claude has been reproached for his inability 
to depict the violent aspects of nature. It is 
true that he was not able to render satisfactorily 
storms and darkness. For that matter, neither 



228 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

was Raphael, whose efforts to portray the tragic 
are essentially failures. But this limitation of 
Raphael's genius does not prevent his being ac- 
knowledged as the Prince of Painters, and it is 
hard to perceive why a different rule should be 
applied to Claude. He does supremely well 
what he undertakes to do ; and that is all that 
can be demanded of any artist. You might as 
well condemn Raphael because he could not 
paint like Michelangelo, or Michelangelo be- 
cause he could not paint like Titian. Every 
one has his limitations, and the question is 
whether he achieves a high degree of perfection 
within those limits. 

In devoting himself to the smiling aspects of 
Nature Claude was true to the traditions of his 
Italian home. The Italian loves light and ab- 
hors darkness. The dim, shadowy aisles of a 
Gothic cathedral have no charm for him. He 
enjoys buildings in which the noon's whitest 
radiance falls upon the splendor of fresco and 
gilding. He delights in days when the air is of 
crystalline brilliancy and when every object 
appears most clearly defined. He may be sor- 
rowful, but the brooding melancholy ,of the 






CLAUDE LORRAINE 

North has no hold upon him. His bright na- 
ture turns from the mournful haze that some- 
times envelops his land to the sun's effulgence. 
He sees many aspects of nature, but only one 
charms his soul, only one does he seek to per- 
petuate on the canvas. At least, so it was in the 
days of the Renaissance, when his own charac- 
ter was suffered to develop naturally, unaffected 
by those influences that now invade him from 
beyond the Alps. Living much in the open air, 
his eyesight was generally good, so that on the 
clear days that he loved he saw distant objects 
with great distinctness. 

Not only is the Italian's sunny nature averse 
to mists and dampness, but they bring to him 
serious physical discomfort. The Hollander in 
his cosy little room beside a cheerful fire likes to 
look out on fogs and clouds. The sight of them 
only adds to his satisfaction, making his home 
seem sweeter and more attractive by contrast. 
From his immaculate windows with their well 
polished panes he gazes on the shifting vapors, 
and loves to study the play of light through 
and upon them and the ever varied atmospheric 
effects which they produce. But with the Ital- 



230 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

ian all is different. His great bare rooms with 
their lofty vaulted ceilings are rarely heated 
save by the sun. When the day is bright they 
are beautiful and stately beyond all other dwell- 
ings ; but in damp weather they are cheerless 
to the last degree. Pictures of mist and rain 
are therefore associated in the Italian's mind 
with all that is cold and chill and wretched. 
In such weather there may be beauty, but he is 
too uncomfortable to observe it ; and the ac- 
companying sensations are so unpleasant that 
he does not wish them recalled to his memory. 
Therefore, in the painting of the Italian 
Renaissance you must not look for storms and 
darkness. The dampness that makes such 
phenomena possible was hateful to the painter's 
sight. Sunlight alone he loves, and sun-bathed 
landscapes are all that he cares to depict. In 
the Italian mind there is little of that haziness, 
of that dreamy vagueness so common with the 
Teuton. What he sees at all he sees clearly, 
and so it pleases him to portray it. Accordingly 
he delights to paint his landscapes only as they 
appear in sunny weather, and especially as they 
appear when a storm has cleared the atmosphere 



CLAUDE LORRAINE 

and when its crystalline purity interposes no 
veil between him and the object of his regard. 
In his taste for landscape, as in so many 
other things, the Renaissance Italian was the 
heir of imperial Rome. To what extent this 
was unconscious, a manifestation of an inherited 
disposition, and to what extent it was due to 
cultivation at a time when almost all works of 
literary merit were in the Latin tongue, we can- 
not say. But certain it is that he loved pre- 
cisely those views that would have pleased the 
subjects of Trajan or Augustus. The ancients 
delighted only in nature's smiling aspects. 
They saw nothing to attract in rugged moun- 
tains or barren rocks. Such things filled them 
with horror. They loved broad meadows slop- 
ing to an azure sea, gentle eminences clothed 
in verdure and bathed in sunlight, seaports 
guarded by graceful promontories and dotted 
with islands like jewels on ocean's bosom. It 
was such prospects that they celebrated in their 
poems and romances ; with such did they 
decorate their walls. The sublimity of desolate 
mountain fastnesses, of fathomless gorges, of 
storms and darkness brooding over waters that 



232 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

moan and shriek in fury and despair, were to 
them unsympathetic and forbidding. Lord 
Byron's exultation in the grandeur of the 
storm-swept Alps they would have found in- 
comprehensible. They loved mountains, but 
only when their desolation was concealed by 
distance, and when, blue on the horizon's verge, 
they seemed the fitting home of the immortal 
gods. They knew nothing of that desire to 
scale them, to climb their riven and blasted 
sides with infinite toil and no little danger, of 
the intoxication of standing upon their dizzy 
summits, that thrills our breasts to-day. They 
knew nothing of our restless aspirations toward 
the infinite. They thought that this world was 
all in all, and that the gods dwelt just above 
their heads on Ida and Olympus, and were 
content. 

The man of the Renaissance knew no more of 
the universe than the ancient Roman, and he 
looked at Nature with much the same eyes. He 
loved her smiles and dreaded her frowns in the 
same way, and was equally inclined to repre- 
sent only her pleasing features. It was they 
alone on which he could look with satisfaction ; 



CLAUDE LORRAINE 233 

it was they alone that he desired to remember. 
Therefore it was they alone that he willingly 
fixed upon the canvas. 

Claude is reproached with the poor drawing 
of his figures. The reproach is just. In dealing 
with the human form he was hopelessly in- 
competent. It is almost inconceivable that one 
who could represent inanimate nature with such 
perfect accuracy should have failed so com- 
pletely in his figure painting. Nor was it due 
to a want of application. He was continually 
drawing from the antique and from life, striving 
with all his might to learn the secrets of the 
human body, yet all in vain. He realized his 
own deficiencies, and used to say that he sold 
his landscapes and threw in the figures. When 
he had attained such eminence as to admit the 
hiring of assistants, he usually employed some 
one to put the figures in according to his scheme. 

It is generally said that Claude derives the 
basis of his art from Titian and the great Vene- 
tians and from the Bolognese. That may be 
so, but I fail to perceive it. Titian and his 
followers are in some aspects more modern 
than Claude. They possess in only moderate 



234 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

degree his sense of space and his serenity. 
They are deeper and richer in color. The 
Bolognese, on the other hand, are so inferior to 
Claude in artistic worth that they are not to be 
mentioned in the same breath. 

To find Claude's real predecessors we must 
go back to the old Umbrian school, especially 
to Perugino, to Pinturicchio, to the youthful 
Raphael before he fell under the spell of Michel- 
angelo. It is only of late that we have begun 
to realize how great were these men as land- 
scape painters. They relegated their landscapes 
to the background, so that the casual observer 
neglected them for the figures. As they were 
not presentations of any known view, it was 
the fashion to speak of them slightingly as 
" conventional." Now, however, we perceive 
that these old Umbrian backgrounds are among 
the glories of art, often far more precious than 
the saints and Madonnas that are the centre of 
the pictures. These scenes, like Claude's, are 
ideal. The artist has not copied any one frag- 
ment of nature. He has composed a work of 
the imagination, true to nature's spirit, but his 
own beautiful creation. And there is the same 



CLAUDE LORRAINE 235 

sense of peace, of infinite distance, the same 
exclusive predilection for scenes of tranquil 
beauty, the same unobtrusive color, the same 
preference for form and line as means of 
expression. 

We do not know that Claude ever saw these 
pictures, far less that he consciously studied 
them. It is likely that the resemblance is due 
entirely to the fact that they lived in similar 
environments, in constant contemplation of the 
same charming scenes, beneath the same lumin- 
ous sky. Certain it is that Claude takes up the 
work where Perugino and Raphael leave it off, 
and carries it along their lines to an ultimate 
perfection. 

It must be noted that not only was Claude a 
great painter, but he was a great etcher. Only 
at two short and distant periods of his life did 
he take up the needle ; and for want of practice 
his work in that line is very unequal. But at 
his best it is very beautiful, remarkable for the 
clearness and delicacy that characterize his 
drawings. Some of his skies are the best ever 
made with the burin. 

Of late years Claude's fame has suffered an 



236 RENAISSANCE MASTERS 

eclipse. On the Continent the methods of the 
Impressionists are the precise antithesis of his, 
and they and all their followers have been con- 
strained to ridicule him and to cry him down. 
In England, Turner, who owed him so great a 
debt and who sometimes imitated him so 
closely, would suffer no rival near his throne, 
and insisted upon abuse of Claude as a passport 
to his favor. Claude's pictures have all the 
qualities called for by the artistic principles 
that Ruskin laid down, the accuracy of detail, 
the idealism, the ethical quality ; and one would 
have expected him to be enthusiastic in their 
praise. But such was his devotion to Turner 
that he voiced all the jealousy and prejudice of 
the master, and his amazing eloquence is con- 
tinually used in abuse of Claude. Rarely does 
he bestow a word of praise on Turner without 
flinging a stone at his great predecessor. 

If, as many critics believe, composition is the 
highest faculty of the artist, Claude must be 
ranked supremely high. His pictures hang 
together in a faultless way. Everything har- 
monizes, and the wealth of detail, instead of 
distracting attention, unites to produce the 



CLAUDE LORRAINE 237 

effect intended. Raphael is called the Prince 
of Painters, largely because his composition is 
so rarely at fault. The same rule should be 
applied to Claude. He is one of the great 
composers. And now, as the influence of Rus- 
kin wanes and the world is growing weary of 
the aberrations of the Impressionists, it is turn- 
ing back to Claude, where he still sits enthroned 
in an enchanted land of his own creation, a land 
where all is harmony, where peace and joy 
reign undisturbed, and sin and sorrow dare not 
enter. 



INDEX. 



ART: 

Renaissance and Greek compared, 6 

Individuality of Renaissance, 7 

Its variety, 8 

Its preference for painting, 9 

Its sudden end, 13 

Art as decoration and illustration, 28 

Venetian color, 108 

Color as an element of beauty, no 

Venetian art little affected by classic, 118, I2O 

Venetian art decorative, 120 

The nude, 125 

Florentine and Venetian, 147 

Color in fresco, 147 

BOTTICELLI : 

Diversity of opinion, 159 
Vicissitudes of fame, 160 
Painter of the nerves, 161 
His ideal of beauty, 162, 163 
His historical importance, 162 
His ineffectual striving after classic ideals, 163, 175 
" Birth of Venus," 164, 173, 178 
"Spring," 164, 172, 173, 178 
Compared with Raphael, 164, 160 
His illustrations of Dante, 165 
239 



240 INDEX 

BOTTICELLI : Continued. 

His defective anatomy, 166 

" Mars and Venus," 167 

"Calumny," 167 

His mastery of lineal decoration, 167 

His color, 167 

His sense of motion, 168 

The painter of the breeze, 169 

His draperies, 170 

His weakness in large compositions, 170 

Sistine frescoes, 170 

His limitations, 171 

His flowers, 171 

"Crowned Madonna," 172, 176, 178 

His fondness for allegory, 172 

44 Pallas and the Centaur,'* 172 

Most feminine of painters, 172 

His suggestiveness, 174 

Painter of woman's soul, 175 

Compared with Leonardo, 175 

His fancy, 175 

" Nativity," 176, 179 

His poetry, 177 

His affectations, 177 

His charm, 178 

His influence on our time, 178 

CORREGGIO : 

His debt to Leonardo, 94, 146, 147 
" Jupiter and Antiope," 148, 94 
His paganism, 131 
His joyousness, 132 
44 The Fates," 133 

Compared with Raphael, 133, 139, 148, 156, 157 
Compared with Michelangelo, 133, 139, 141, 145, 148, 
151. I55> 157 






INDEX 24T 



CORREGGIO : Continued. 
A lyric poet, 133 
His children and boys, 134 
His types, 134 

His expression of sadness, 135 
"Ecce Homo," 135 
His slight opportunities, 135 
His isolation, 137 

Compared with Leonardo, 139, 146, 147, 148, 156, 158 
Is he immoral? 139 
"The Day," 140 
His religious feeling, 143 
" Madonna with St. George," 144, 145 
" Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine," 144 
" Danae," 144 
" Jupiter and lo," 144 
"Assumption," 151, 145 
"Ascension," 145, 146 
A painter purely of the imagination, 145 
Painted no portraits, 145 
His chiaroscuro, 146 
His atmosphere, 146 
His color, 147 

Compared with Titian, 148, 154, 157 
"Sleeping Antiope," 148 
His love for foreshortening, 151 
His handling of masses, 151 
Toschi's engravings, 153 
"Reading Magdalen," 154 
His sense of female beauty, 154 
His effect on the decline of art, 155 
Most emotional, 155 
His smiles, 156 
His want of depth, 156 
His qualities, 157 



242 INDEX 

LEONARDO DA VINCI : 

His study of countenance, 7 

His versatility, 71 

His scientific discoveries and inventions, 71 

His personal appearance and accomplishments, 75 

Questions of authenticity, 76 

Academy cartoon, 76, 89, 101 

" Mona Lisa," 85, 76, 94, 101 

" Last Supper," 79, 76, 82, 93, in 

Want of fecundity, 77, 101, 38 

First modern painter, 77 

Invented grandeur of style, 79 

Mastery of facial expression, 81 

" Battle of the Standard," 82, 93 

Compared with Raphael, 83, 89, 100 

Compared with Michelangelo, 83, 89, 90, IOO 

Preference for subtle types, 85 

His appreciation of the womanly, 88 

Not a lover of physical beauty, 88 

His smile, 85, 150 

" Madonna of the Rocks," 89 

" Virge aux Rochers," 89 

"St. Anne," 89 

His spirituality, 89 

Anatomical skill, 90 

Indifference to the nude, 90 

" Leda," 90 

The painter of the soul, 91 

Lovableness of his women, 91 

His chiaroscuro, 93 

Revolutionized art, 77, 94 

Devotion to nature, 95 

Indifference to classic art, 95 

Not a realist, 96 

His fondness for plants and animals, 97 

His fondness for hair, 97 



INDEX 243 

LEONARDO DA VINCI : Continued. 
Interest in all things curious, 98 
His writing from right to left, 99 
" St. John," 99 
"Bacchus," 100 

Most thoughtful of painters, 100 
His portrait, 102 

Compared with Corregio, 139, 146, 147, 148, 156, 158 
His frescoes, 150 
Compared with Botticelli, 175 

MICHELANGELO : 

Compared with Raphael, 42, 58, 22, 23, 24, 39, 40, 47, 57, 

63,64 

His preference for the Old Testament, 43 
" Christ " of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, 43, 44 
" Pieta," 44, 45 

41 Holy Family of the Tribune," 44, 46 
Not Christian in spirit of his art, 44 
" Last Judgment," 45, 52, 62, 68, 151 
" Descent from the Cross," 46 
His preference for the masculine, 46 
" Eve," 47, 48 
"Adam," 48, 81 
" Night," 48, 49 
" Dawn," 48, 49 

Medicean Tombs, 48, 62, 63, 68, 141 
His women not womanly, 47 
Nor lovable, 49 
His feeling for male beauty, 49 
" Captives," 50 
His terribilitb, 50 
" Moses," 51, 63, 68, 141 
"David," 51, 141 
Compared with Greeks, 52 
The vitality of his creations, 53 



244 INDEX 

MICHELANGELO : Continued. 
His power, 54 

Sistine ceiling, 47, 55, 62, 68 
His mastery of the nude, 56 
Essentially a sculptor, 57 
His absorption in man, 59 
His fondness for physical vigor, 60 
' Battle of Pisa," 61, 67, 83 
His personality, 63 
His aversion to assistants, 64 
Decline following his death, 65 
His own decline, 67 
Pauline Chapel, 69 
St. Peter's Dome, 69 
Painter, sculptor, architect, 69 
His color, 149 

Compared with Correggio, 133, 139, 141, 145, 148, 151, 
155, 157 

MIDDLE AGES : 

Their longing for the unattainable, 4 
Their conception of love, 5 
Their absorption of the individual, 9 
Their conception of religion, 141 
Mediaeval paganism, 175 

RAPHAEL : 

His unvarying good fortune, 18 

Reconciled the mediaeval and the classic, 19 

His purity, 22 

Compared with Michelangelo, 42, 58, 22, 23, 24, 39, 40, 

47, 57 

His humanity, 23 
Fixed our standard of beauty, 25 
"Sistine Madonna," 25 
'* Madonna of the Chair," 25 



INDEX 245 

RAPHAEL : Continued. 

" Burning of the Borgo," 25 

" St. Michael," 25, 37 

4 'Parnassus," 26, 164 

Compared with Leonardo, 26, 39, 41 

Compared with Titian, 26, 41, 112, 123 

His realism and idealism, 26 

His portraits, 27 

As illustrator, 29 

His feeling for space, 32 

His color, 31, 148 

His composition, 31, 58 

41 School of Athens," 33, 36, 41, 8l 

Compared with Claude Lorraine, 31, 33 

44 Apollo and Marsyas," 34 

His receptiveness, 34 

4< Galatea," 36, 37, 164 

Assistance received from his pupils, 36 

44 Holy Family of Francis I.," 37 

44 Battle of Constantine," 37, 41, 83 

44 Cupid, and Psyche," 37 

His fecundity, 38 

His imaginative power, 39 

4 ' Expulsion of Heliodorus," 41 

4 "Entombment," 41 

Variety of his compositions, 41 

His preference for the New Testament, 43 

Loggie pictures, 43 

"Transfiguration," 112 

44 Miracle of Bolsena," 148 

Compared with Correggio, 133, 139, 148, 156, i$7 

Compared with Botticelli, 164, 160 

RENAISSANCE : 

Conflict between classic and mediaeval, I 
A period of disintegration and contrasts, IO 



246 INDEX 

RENAISSANCE : Continued. 
Its lawlessness, 60 
Its general culture, 137 

TITIAN : 

His paganism, 104 

His breadth and sanity, 105 

" Sleeping Antiope," 149, 107 

" Venus and Nymphs Equipping Cupid," 107 

His mastery of his craft, 107 

His color, 108 

" Assumption," 112, 109, 126 

" Entombment," 109, 126 

His religious pictures, 113 

" Tribute Money," in. 

His conception of Christ, in 

" Pesaro Madonna," 113 

" Presentation of the Virgin," 113 

His portraits, 115 

His humanity, 117 

Painter of the flesh, 117, 124 

His debt to Giorgione, 119 

" Sacred and Profane Love," 122, I2O 

" Three Ages of Man," 120, 122. 

As an illustrator, 122 

" Bacchus and Ariadne," 123 

" Worship of Venus," 123 

His composition, 123 

Compared with Raphael, 112, 123, 126 

His draughtsmanship, 123 

Compared with Michelangelo, 123 

" St. Peter Martyr," 124 

"Danae," 124 

His preference for repose, 124. 

His anatomy, 124 

His variety, 126 



INDEX 247 

TITIAN : Continued. 

" Mocking of Christ," 126 

His slow development, 127 

His feeling for nature, 127 

His serenity, 129 

His frescoes, 147 

Compared with Correggio, 148, 154, 157 

RUBENS : 

A classicist, 181 

"Tiberius and Agrippina," 183 

Represents ideas of his own time, 183 

Allegories, 185 

His rank as an artist, 186 

His sense of vitality, 187, 208 

His color, 189 

"Judgment of Paris," 190 

" Perseus and Andromeda," 190 

His flesh painting, 192 

His picture factory, 192 

His fecundity, 195 

His youthful style, 196 

" Descent from the Cross," 197, 201 

Helen Fourment, 197 

"Andromeda," 198 

"Venus of the Prado," 198 

" Shepherd and Shepherdess," 198 

"La Pelisse," 198 

His sensuousness, 198 

Morality of his works, 199 

His religious paintings, 200 

" Theodosius Refused Admittance to the Church," 202 

" Christ and the Four Penitents," 202 

Fondness for painting drunkenness, 202 

His landscapes, 203 

His portraits, 204 



248 INDEX 

" Le Chapeau de Foil," 204 

His fondness for large compositions, 205, 207 

" Last Judgment," 205 

" Fall of the Damned," 205 

" Fall of the Rebel Angels," 205 

" Boar Hunt," 206 

"Lion Hunt," 206 

His children, 206 

" Christ and St. John," 206 

*' Rape of the Sabines," 207 

" Massacre of the Innocents," 207 

" Garden of Love," 207 

"Kermesse," 207 

Compared with Michelangelo, 207 

His originality, 208 

His successors, 209 

His breadth, 210 

SUPPLEMENTARY INDEX. 

CLAUDE LORRAINE: 

Real and ideal, 211 

His drawings, 214 

His sense of beauty, 217 

His use of architecture, 219 

His serenity, 220. 

His sense of distance, 221 

His high average, 224 

Painting the sun, 225 

Light and atmosphere, 225 

Inability to represent storms, 227 

Influence of Italian climate, 228 

His predecessors, 233 

His etchings, 235 

Turner and Ruskin, 235 

His composition, 236 






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