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Title: Overbeck
Author: Atkinson, J. Beavington, 1822-1886
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                    _ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHIES OF
                        THE GREAT ARTISTS._


                    JOHANN FRIEDRICH OVERBECK.



            ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHIES OF THE GREAT ARTISTS.

_The following volumes, each illustrated with from 14 to 20 Engravings,
are now ready, price 3s. 6d. Those marked with an asterisk are 2s. 6d._


 GIOTTO. By HARRY QUILTER, M.A.
 FRA ANGELICO. By C. M. PHILLIMORE.
 FRA BARTOLOMMEO AND ANDREA DEL SARTO. By LEADER SCOTT.
 MANTEGNA AND FRANCIA. By JULIA CARTWRIGHT.
 GHIBERTI AND DONATELLO.* By LEADER SCOTT.
 LUCA DELLA ROBBIA.* By LEADER SCOTT.      [_Nearly ready._
 LEONARDO DA VINCI. By Dr. J. PAUL RICHTER.
 MICHELANGELO BUONARROTI. By CHARLES CLÉMENT.
 RAPHAEL. By N. D'ANVERS.
 TITIAN. By R. F. HEATH, M.A.
 TINTORETTO. By W. R. OSLER.
 CORREGGIO.* By M. COMPTON HEATON.
 VELAZQUEZ. By E. STOWE, M.A.
 MURILLO.* By ELLEN E. MINOR.

 ALBRECHT DÜRER. By R. F. HEATH, M.A.
 THE LITTLE MASTERS OF GERMANY. By W. B. SCOTT.
 HANS HOLBEIN. By JOSEPH CUNDALL.
 OVERBECK. By J. BEAVINGTON ATKINSON.
 REMBRANDT. By J. W. MOLLETT, B.A.
 RUBENS. By C. W. KETT, M.A.
 VAN DYCK AND HALS. By P. R. HEAD, B.A.
 FIGURE PAINTERS OF HOLLAND. By LORD RONALD GOWER, F.S.A.

 CLAUDE LORRAIN.* By OWEN J. DULLEA.      [_In preparation._
 WATTEAU.* By J. W. MOLLETT, B.A.      [_In preparation._
 VERNET AND DELAROCHE. By J. RUUTZ REES.
 ROUSSEAU AND MILLET. BY W. E. HENLEY.      [_In preparation._
 MEISSONIER.* By J. W. MOLLETT, B.A.

 SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS. By F. S. PULLING, M.A.
 WILLIAM HOGARTH. By AUSTIN DOBSON.
 GAINSBOROUGH AND CONSTABLE. By G. BROCK-ARNOLD, M.A.
 ROMNEY AND LAWRENCE.* By LORD RONALD GOWER, F.S.A.
 TURNER. By COSMO MONKHOUSE.
 SIR DAVID WILKIE. By J. W. MOLLETT, B.A.
 CROME AND THE NORWICH SCHOOL.* By C. MONKHOUSE.      [_Preparing._
 SIR EDWIN LANDSEER. By F. G. STEPHENS.



              [Illustration: JOHANN FRIEDRICH OVERBECK.]



    _"The whole world without Art would be one great wilderness."_

                               OVERBECK

                        BY J. BEAVINGTON ATKINSON
                               AUTHOR OF
                'SCHOOLS OF MODERN ART IN GERMANY,' ETC.

                               NEW YORK
                          SCRIBNER AND WELFORD
                                LONDON
                SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON, SEARLE, & RIVINGTON
                                 1882.



                                  TO
                          THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
                        A. J. BERESFORD HOPE, ESQ.,
                              M.P., LL.D.,
                        THE KIND FRIEND OF ARTISTS,
                   THE FERVENT UPHOLDER OF CHRISTIAN ART,


                               This Life
                                  OF
                THE CHRISTIAN PAINTER J. FRIEDRICH OVERBECK
                                  IS
                        _RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED_
                                  BY
                              THE AUTHOR.



                                PREFACE.


In offering to the public the first complete biography yet attempted of
the painter Overbeck, I wish to give a few words in explanation. The
task has been far from easy: the materials, though the reverse of
scanty, are scattered: reminiscences of the artist and criticisms on his
works lie as fragments dispersed over the current literature of Germany.
My endeavour has been to fill in vacuities, to thread together a
consistent and connected narrative, and thus, so far as I have been
able, to present a true and lucid history.

My duty has been all the more anxious from the unusual complexity of the
pictorial products falling under review. The scenes are laid amid the
battle of the schools: the periods bring into prominence conflicts
between classic, romantic, and naturalistic styles. The art of Overbeck
was rooted in the olden times, yet in some degree it became quickened by
contact with present life, and took also a personal aspect from the
painter's inner self. The great pictures and the numberless drawings
thus evolved over a space of more than half a century, and here
described from my own knowledge, raise interesting and intricate
questions on which the world remains divided. My care has been to give a
just estimate of these exceptional art manifestations.

Also enter into the art, through the life, conflicts of religious
creeds, strifes between Protestantism and Catholicism, between
Platonism, Mysticism, and Rationalism. In dealing with such delicate and
serious topics I have avoided all controversy, and have ventured only on
the simplest and briefest exposition. My effort has been to state the
case fairly all round, to maintain an even balance, and, above all, to
place the reader, whatever may chance to be his creed or art school, in
a position to form a true judgment.

Likewise fairly to appreciate the artist, it is needful rightly to
comprehend the man. And here, again, perplexities arise from unwonted
combinations. The character is one of the noblest and purest, and yet it
is beset with peculiar infirmities. The portrait offered in these pages
is, I trust, true and individual, toned down into unity, and yet not
left cold or colourless. Such negation would, indeed, do injustice to my
own feelings. For among the cherished recollections of past days are my
visits to Overbeck's studio, stretching over a period of twenty years: I
learned to revere the master and to love his works, and I trust no word
in this little volume may lessen the respect due to an honoured name.

                                                                J. B. A.

KENSINGTON,
    _May, 1882._



                            CONTENTS.



							CHAPTER I.

                          LÜBECK--VIENNA.

Birth and Parentage--Early Days in Lübeck--The Artist's learned and
religious Ancestry--His Father Doctor of Laws and Burgomaster--Chart of
the Family--Creed for a Purist Painter--Young Overbeck leaves Lübeck for
Vienna: his Studies in the Academy--Decadence of Art in the Austrian
Capital--Rise of the German Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood--Conflict between
the Old Party and the New--Overbeck and his Friends expelled from the
Academy--He resolves to make Christian Art the Vocation of his
Life--Leaves Vienna for Rome                                         Page 1


                            CHAPTER II.

                    ROME--THE GERMAN BROTHERHOOD.

Overbeck and his brother Artists reach Rome--The German Colony settle in
the Convent of Sant' Isidore--Inspiring surroundings of Art and
Nature--Modes of Study and of Life--Overbeck "a Treasury of Art and
Poetry, a saintly Man"--"The New-Old School," "the Nazarites," provoke
opposition and ridicule--State of Art in Rome: Classic, Romantic,
Christian--First Commission: early Drawings and Pictures--Exhibition in
Palazzo Caffarelli--Overbeck and his Friends join the Roman Catholic
Church--Reasons assigned--Literary circle: Niebuhr, Bunsen, and
Friedrich Schlegel--Frescoes by Overbeck, Cornelius, Veit, and Schadow
in the Casa Bartholdi and the Villa Massimo                              19


                            CHAPTER III.

                           ROME--GERMANY.

Overbeck marries, two children born--His position in "Monumental
Painting"--Fresco, "The Vision of St. Francis" at Assisi--Inclinations
towards Monastic Life--Journey to Germany--Triumphal Entry into
Munich--The Guest of Cornelius--Pictures in the New
Pinakathek--Correspondence and friendship with Fräulein Emilie
Linder--Visits to Heidelberg, Frankfort, Cologne, and Düsseldorf--Return
to Rome--Present at the opening of Raphael's Tomb in the Pantheon--Views
of Art become more dogmatic and sacerdotal--Three important easel
pictures: "Christ's Agony in the Garden," at Hamburg; "The Marriage of
the Virgin," in Count Raczynski's Gallery, Berlin; "The Triumph of
Religion in the Arts," Frankfort--The Painter's explanatory disquisition
on the last--His habits of work, personal aspect and character           48


                            CHAPTER IV.

            LATE WORKS--CONCLUSION--THE PAINTER AND HIS ART.

Death of Son--Pictures: "The Pietà," in Lübeck; "The Incredulity of St.
Thomas," in the possession of Mr. Beresford Hope--Death of Wife--"The
Assumption of the Madonna," Cologne Cathedral--Second visit to
Germany--Fête in Cologne--Return to Rome--Studio in Garden House on the
Esquiline Hill--Cartoons and Water-colour Drawings, "The Via
Crucis"--Cartoons and Tempera Drawings, "The Seven
Sacraments"--Commissions from Pius IX., his Portrait, Picture for
Quirinal Palace: the Pope's Visit to the Studio--Portraits of the Artist
by various hands--Overbeck's mental habits: his extraordinary
memory--Modes of Study and of Work--Form--Composition--Colour--The
relation of his Art to nature, tradition, and personal
character--Pecuniary rewards--Influence over the contemporary Schools of
Europe--Closing scenes--Death and Burial                                 76

CHRONOLOGY                                                              109

INDEX                                                                   111



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


PORTRAIT OF OVERBECK                                        _Frontispiece._

                                                                       PAGE

THE HOLY FAMILY                                                           2

THE NAMING OF ST. JOHN                                                   18

CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE                                                     24

CHRIST BLESSING LITTLE CHILDREN                                          28

THE CALLING OF ST. JAMES AND ST. JOHN                                    48

CHRIST'S ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM                                            58

CHRIST HEALING THE SICK                                                  70

CHRIST FALLING UNDER THE CROSS                                           76

THE ENTOMBMENT                                                           86

THE RESURRECTION                                                         94

THE CROSS MARKING OVERBECK'S TOMB                                  _Finis._



                                Chart of the Overbeck Family.

                                    CASPAR OVERBECK,
                                Merchant, Religious Refugee.
                                             |
                                CHRISTOPH OVERBECK, Pastor.
                                             |
                        CASPAR NIKOLAS OVERBECK, D. 1752, Pastor.
                                             |
                        Total number of Children 8 sons and 6 daughters:
                        2 sons and 4 daughters died in childhood.
 ____________________________________________|_______________________________________
|         |                |                 |               |         |            |
Johann    Levin   GEORGE CHRISTIAN OVERBECK,  Johann      Gottfried    August      Two
Adolph,   Conrad,     B. 1713, D. 1786,       Daniel,     Ferdinand,   Friedrich,  Daughters
B. 1706,  B. 1712,     Doctor of Laws.        B. 1715,    B. 1717,     B. 1719,    who grew to
Pastor.   Pastor.            |                D. 1802,    Apothecary.  School      womanhood.
                            |                Doctor of                Teacher.
                            |                Theology, &c.
       _____________________|_________________________________________________
      |                                   |                                  |
    Conrad,                     CHRISTIAN ADOLPH OVERBECK,                Johann George,
    Died at Riga,               B. 1755, M. 1781, D. 1821.                D. 1819,
    Merchant.       Doctor of Laws, Syndic, Bürgermeister of Lübeck, &c.  Pastor.
                                          |
                    4 sons and 2 daughters: one son died in childhood.
         _________________________________|________________________________________
        |                |                      |                 |               |
Christian Gerhard,  Johannes,  JOHANN FRIEDRICH OVERBECK,     Frau Charlotte  Frau Elizabeth
B. 1784, D. 1846,   D. 1830,   B. in Lübeck 1789, M. 1819,    Leithoff,       Meyer,
Judge, Lübeck.      Merchant.  D. in Rome 1869                deceased.       deceased.
         |                |           The Painter                  |
Christian Theodore,       |                |                   Frau Harms,
B. 1818, D. 1880,         |                |                   Lübeck,
Doctor, Senator;          |                |__________________ living.
left no children.         |                |                 |
     _____________________|_________________             ____|_________________
    |            |            |            |            |                     |
Johannes,     Gustav,      Arnold,      Frau Rath  ALFONS MARIA,        Daughter of the
Professor,    Düsseldorf,  Düsseldorf,  Reuleaux,  Son of the Painter,  Painter: died
Doctor,       living.      living.      Berlin,    B. 1822, D. 1840.    in childhood.
Archæologist,                           living.
Leipzig,
living.



                            OVERBECK.

                            CHAPTER I.

                          LÜBECK--VIENNA.


Johann Friedrich Overbeck was born, as a tablet on his father's house
records, in Lübeck on the 4th of July, 1789. Among his ancestors were
Doctors of Law and Evangelical Pastors. His parents were good
Protestants; his father was Burgomaster in the ancient city. Seldom has
a life been so nicely preordained as that of the young religious
painter. The light of his coming did not shine, as commonly supposed,
out of surrounding darkness. A visit to his birth-place, expressly made
for this memoir, soon showed me that Overbeck, from his youth upwards,
had been tenderly cared for; that he received a classic education; that
his mind was brought under moral and religious discipline; in short,
that the rich harvest of later years had found its seed-time here within
the family home in Lübeck.

The old house in which Overbeck was born has unfortunately, within the
last few years, been modernised, but the original medallion relief of
the painter's head, life-size, is built into the new façade, and the
former structure can be accurately ascertained as well from the designs
of the adjoining tenements as from the living testimony of the
neighbours.[1] The Overbeck mansion stood in the König Strasse, a
principal thoroughfare in the heart of an old city which may not inaptly
be designated the Nuremberg of Northern Germany. It is not difficult
here on the spot to picture the life of the painter while yet in his
teens. The historic town of Lübeck had enjoyed a signal political,
commercial and artistic epoch. As the head of the Hanseatic League, it
rose to unexampled prosperity. Deputies from eighty confederate
municipalities assembled in the audience-chamber of the Rathhaus;
fortifications, walls and gateways were reared for defence, and merchant
princes made their opulence and love of ostentation conspicuous in
dwellings of imposing and picturesque design; thus pointed gables,
high-pitched overhanging roofs, stamp with mediæval character the
present streets. Then, too, were founded rich ecclesiastical
establishments; then was built the cathedral, containing among other
treasures matchless brasses, a unique rood-loft, and a double triptych,
the masterpiece of Memling. This sacred work made a deep impression on
young Overbeck, and is known to have given a direction to his art. About
the same period was also reared the Marien Kirche, enriched with bronze
sacrament-house, old German triptychs and fine painted glass. This is
the church in which the painter's father, as Burgomaster, had a
distinguished stall, elaborately carved; and now, on visiting the spot,
I find appropriately among the treasures two chefs-d'oeuvre which the
son affectionately wrought for the city of his birth. These churches are
Protestant, but fortunately the worst sign of the Reformation is
whitewash, and so the relics of the past are reverently conserved, and
here in Lübeck, as in Nuremberg, the Madonna still holds her honoured
niche, and the saints yet shine from out the painted window, even as in
after-years the selfsame characters appeared on the canvases of
Overbeck. Amid associations thus sacred, encircled by a family addicted
to learning and piety, to poetry and art, was the tranquil spirit of the
young painter led into meditative paths; and as I took my evening walk
at the setting of the sun by the side of the wooded river, under shadow
of the old gateways and churches, it was not very hard to realize how
the love of nature and of art grew up in the mind of the young student,
and how this city of the past proved a fitting prelude to a noble
life-work which set as its goal the revival of what was best and most
beautiful in the olden times.

The family of Overbeck had been for generations preeminent for learning
and piety, and biographers have scarcely sufficiently taken into account
either the Classic or the Christian inheritance of the painter.
Religious teaching and living came by long lineal descent (see Family
Chart on page xvi.): the great, great, great grandfather, Caspar
Overbeck, was a religious refugee; the next in succession, Christoph,
was a Protestant pastor; and to the same sacred calling belonged his
son, Caspar Nikolas, who lived into the middle of the last century.
After comes the grandfather, George Christian, Doctor of Laws; and among
collaterals signally shines the great-uncle, Johann Daniel Overbeck
(died 1802, aged 88);[2] this memorable man was Doctor of Theology,
Rector of the Lübeck Gymnasium, and a voluminous writer; he published
thirty or more treatises; among the number are 'The Spirit of Religion,'
'Grounds of Agreement in Religion through the Reason and the
Understanding;' also discourses on St. Peter, St. Paul, and Luther.
Facility of pen runs through the family. Two other great-uncles, Johann
Adolph and Levin Conrad Overbeck, brothers of the Doctor of Theology,
were Pastors: furthermore must not be forgotten the uncle, Johann George
(brother of the Burgomaster), who lived till 1819, and is described as a
faithful untiring pastor to an evangelical congregation, who offered his
life a willing sacrifice. "Duty" might be the watch-word of all who bear
the name of Overbeck. Lastly, and not least, appears the pious, learned,
and æsthetic father, Christian Adolph. Though not in holy orders, he
concerned himself variously with religion in the wide and vital sense of
the word, holding it a divine presence, the rule of life, and the
inspirer of all noble work. I should judge he was not dogmatic in creed,
nor rigid in ceremonial. He was philosophic, but had too much heart to
be a rationalist; too much imagination for an anti-supernaturalist. He
was a mystic pietist; religion blending with poetry coloured his whole
mind; revelation, nature, and art, were for him one and indivisible. And
this I believe to have been the mental state of the son while yet under
the parental roof. The sequel will show a change; the incertitude of
speculation could not be sustained, and so anchorage was sought within
an "Infallible Church." Yet for the right reading of a character
curiously subtle and complex, it is needful to realise the fact that the
seeds sown in the homestead were never uprooted, that it was, indeed,
the old stock which sustained the new grafting, and that, to the last, a
poetic mysticism dwelt in the chambers of the artist's mind. And as was
the tree so were the fruits; sprung from a family of preachers, the
painter became an evangelist in his art.

The father, Dr. Christian Adolph Overbeck, as the formative type of the
son, merits a further word.[3] If not quite a genius, he was the model
of a scholar and a gentleman; besides being Burgomaster in the city of
his birth, he was Doctor of Laws, Syndic of the Cathedral Chapter, and
served in important political missions to Paris and St. Petersburg. He
is described "Musis Amicus";[4] and not only the friend of poesy, he was
a poet himself, and by virtue of the duality habitual to his mind
dedicated his pen with singular impartiality to Christ and Apollo; one
volume of verses being entitled 'Anacreon and Sappho,' another,
containing a poem, on 'The Love of God.' These products rise somewhat
above the level of respectable mediocrity, yet they have not escaped the
stigma of platitudes. Goethe, however, did not disdain to make
respectful mention of the poet. The painter inherited in some small
degree the paternal gift; he accompanied with verses the engraved and
published drawings, _Jesus as a Child in the House at Nazareth_. By the
father I have also before me a "new edition," published 1831, of a
collection entitled 'Frizchens Lieder,'[5] so called because penned for
the benefit of the youthful Frederick. The preface makes mention of "my
little Frizchen" thus:--"It were better had he been an angel, but he is
just a human child:" then, facetiously, it is added, "he is less ideal
than saucy and conceited." Those who like myself knew only the solemnity
of the painter in advanced years have a difficulty in supposing in the
child such traits compatible. These songs of the domestic affections
were set to music; the father, as a dilettante complete, cultivated all
the harmonies whether of thought, form, or sound; the home was musical.

The family life composes into a placid, homelike picture. The parents,
though well to do, were far from affluent. The stipends of the busy
Burgomaster and Syndic were small, and he remained comparatively poor.
At the age of twenty-six he married a young widow with money and one
daughter, and domestic cares necessarily thickened with the birth of six
additional children, two daughters and four sons, of whom Frederick was
the youngest. The mother, we are told, was beloved and honoured, and in
addition to ordinary domestic duties, diligently assisted her children
in the preparation of their school lessons; moreover it is expressly
stated that her fortune contributed largely to the household expenses.
The would-be artist could not be considered unfortunate in his worldly
condition; he entered on life removed equally from the extremes of
riches or poverty; his parents were sufficiently well off to make it
possible for him to gratify his tastes in the choice of a profession,
while he was always under such pressure as to render it imperative that
he should put out his full powers. His education within the limits of a
provincial town was liberal; the father kept himself and his household
quiet, student-like, and sequestered from the dissipation of society,
and so all the better could be cultivated the budding faculties of his
offspring. When the children were sufficiently advanced he joined with
other parents in engaging a qualified tutor, and so formed a special
class or superior school. With affection was watched the inclination
towards art of the youngest son, and anxiety lessened as the faculty
strongly declared itself, for above all was dreaded "mediocrity as the
deadly sin of artists." The father held that for success in art as a
profession three conditions were essential; classic training, nobility
of mind, and technical skill. And so in each day the foremost place was
assigned to classic studies. As to the formation of character, religion
stood as the corner-stone, and the maxim for the daily life was "love in
a pure mind." This axiom sounds to me as the key-note to the painter's
lifelong art--an art loving in spirit and kept unspotted from the world.
But the father and son differed in this--that the one was eclectic, the
other exclusive. The father, with the wide toleration of a
poet-philosopher, believed in the possibility of harmoniously combining
styles, Classic, Romantic, and Christian. His views may be judged from
the following:


            _The Father's Monition to study the Classics._

With joy I see you constant in the study of the ancients. To the Greeks
and old Romans was it given to stand as the everlasting lawgivers of the
beautiful. Well for you that you read the classics: above all, acquaint
yourself with the glorious forerunner, Homer, of whom almost every line
is a picture. Homer in the right chamber of the heart, and the Bible in
the left--or _vice-versâ_--in this way, it seems to me, you cannot go
far astray.


                    _Creed for a Purist Painter._

The artist's and poet's mind should be as a spotless mirror: his heart
must be pure and pious, at one with God and all mankind. The path to the
holy Temple of Art lies apart from the world, and the painter will go on
his way all the more unassailed if he stand aloof from the temptations
of the senses. And if the artist's mind be a temple, then should find
place therein only the figures of saints and the semblances of holy
things; and even in profane representations a heavenly spirit should
reign. The mind is raised by the contemplation of the master-works of
genius, thus art reaches the highest summit.

It is not to be supposed that the youth while in Lübeck reached the
father's ideal; but within a stone's throw of the house lay a Gymnasium,
including a Drawing School of which the great uncle, Dr. Johann Daniel
Overbeck, had been head master. Here, on the spot, I am told the nephew
received from a certain Professor Federau instruction in art, and I have
before me a drawing, the earliest that has come to my knowledge, which
proves that the pupil was at least painstaking. The subject, in
accordance with the father's precept, is Homeric, the well-known meeting
of Ulysses and Telemachus.[6] After the prevailing manner of the period,
the style is classic, according to the French school of David, and a
Greek portico appropriately finds a place in the background. Young
Overbeck discovered in the sequel how much he had to learn, and to
unlearn; he closed Homer to open his Bible.

The time came for a change in the scene of action, the art resources of
a small provincial town were exhausted, and the necessity arose for
thorough academic training elsewhere. The choice in those days was not
extended, and after due consideration the election fell in favour of
Vienna. Accordingly, in March, 1806, at the age of seventeen, young
Overbeck left Lübeck. The home-parting was tender, and might have been
heart-rending could the future have been read. Never were son and
parents to meet again. Frederick in sundry years, when full of honours,
visited Germany, but he seemed to shrink from a return to the scenes of
his youth; change in religion may have made contact painful. Yet we are
told that closest communication was kept up by constant correspondence;
that the father affectionately watched his son's illustrious career and
read with lively satisfaction all announcements in the public journals.
The mother died in 1820, the father a year after: for forty years they
had been lovingly united. I have visited the retired "God's-acre,"
beyond the gates, removed from the noisy traffic of the town, and not
without difficulty discovered the grave of father and mother. So dense
was the overgrowth of years, that not a letter on the massive stone
could be seen; but the old man of the place, tearing away the thick
mantle of ivy, revealed the words, "Here rest in God Elizabeth Overbeck,
and Christian Adolph Overbeck, Burgomaster."

On reaching Vienna, the super-sensuous painter did not find a bed of
roses: his tastes were fastidious, his habits exclusive, his aspirations
impracticable. Of course his art remained as yet unremunerative; thus
his means were scanty, and the friends he might have hoped to make
turned out enemies. And it cannot be denied that the state of things in
Vienna was enough to discourage and disgust an earnest, truth-seeking
student. The Academy into which the Christian artist entered was under
the direction of Friedrich Füger, a painter of the French type, not
without renown, but given over to the service of Jupiter, Prometheus,
and Venus, and when he chanced to turn to sacred subjects, such as _The
Death of Abel_ and _The Reading Magdalen_, affectation and empty
pretence were his resource. I have seldom seen works more contemptible.
Overbeck was in despair, and wrote to a friend that he had fallen among
a vulgar set, that every better feeling, every noble thought, was
suppressed within the Academy, and that, losing all faith in humanity
and in art, he turned inwardly on himself. This transcendental strain, I
cannot but think, came in some measure from the conceit incident to
youth; self-complaisancy was certainly a habit of mind which the painter
persistently cultivated as a virtue.

Four years' work within an organised academy could not be otherwise than
a gain to a tyro who had everything to learn. Director Füger was at
least thoroughly trained; talent and industry had early won him the
distinction of pensioner to Rome, and he subsequently executed important
frescoes in Naples, which obtain honourable mention in the history of
the times. His school might be bad, but still it was a school; and the
fact cannot be controverted that Overbeck issued from it an artist. He
learnt what his father had laid down as essential to success, drawing,
composition, technique, and his advance was such, that while in Vienna
he commenced, and in part painted, _Christ's Entry into Jerusalem_, a
prized possession to this day in the Marien Kirche, Lübeck. Moreover, I
am inclined to think that under Füger he was grounded in the art of
wall-painting, not only as a manipulative method, but as a system of
composition and decoration; otherwise it is hard to understand how,
shortly after arriving in Rome, he knew more about fresco than the
Italians themselves. Overbeck and his master, however, became all the
more irreconcilable because the discords lay less in the letter than in
the spirit.

In order to realise Overbeck's artistic and mental difficulties here in
Vienna, and afterwards in Rome, it may be well in fewest words to
indicate the perplexed state of things in Germany generally--a wide
theme on which volumes have been written. We have to consider that
Europe had suffered under the throes of the great French Revolution, and
that then followed the galling despotism of Napoleon. Art and literature
lay frozen and paralysed, and Overbeck in Lübeck and Vienna, like
Cornelius in Düsseldorf, found in tyrannous sway the pseudo-classic
school of the French David, cold as marble, rigid as petrifaction,
spasmodic as a galvanised muscle. But the Germans, especially the more
intellectual sort, smarting under the yoke, were all the while gathering
strength to reclaim nationality as their birthright. The reaction came
through the romantic movement, otherwise the revival of the poetry and
the art of the Middle Ages. Overbeck fell under the influence: in his
Lübeck home he read Tieck's 'Phantasies on Art,' and thirsted for the
regeneration drawing near. In Rome the spell heightened; thinkers such
as Frederick Schlegel brought over proselytes, and the painter's early
frescoes from Tasso's 'Jerusalem Delivered,' came as the specific
products of the new era. But the School of Romance wore two aspects; the
one, Poetic and Chivalrous; the other expressly Christian; and Overbeck
was not content to exchange Homer and Virgil for Dante and Tasso, he
turned from the age of Pericles and Augustus to the nativity of Christ.
And it seemed to him that the pure spring of Christian Art had, not only
in Vienna but throughout Europe, been for long diverted and corrupted,
and so he sought out afresh the living source, and casting on one side
his contemporaries, took for his guides the pre-Raphaelite masters. Such
is the relation in which he stands to the Romantic movement.

But the election made in favour of an art born of Christianity proved
for Overbeck the severer conflict, because Germany, in the generation
scarcely passed away, had experienced a studious classic revival under
the critic Winckelmann and the painters Mengs and Carstens. Goethe, too,
a tyrant in power, had thrown his weight into the classic scale, and,
much to the chagrin of the young painter, declared that the highest
Christian Art was but the perfecting of humanity. Moreover, classicism
had been brought within the painter's home by a five years' sojourn in
Lübeck of Carstens, the Flaxman of Germany. The father befriended the
poor artist, and being well-read in Greek and Roman authors, supplied
him, among other needs, with ideas for his classic compositions. I deem
these facts should be duly considered; it is wholly false to ignore the
presence of a classic element in the Christian Art of Overbeck; and just
as the purest religious painters of Italy borrowed from the Pagans, so
the great Christian Artist of our times culled from the antique all he
could assimilate. It is clear to me, judging from the internal evidence
of his works, that as a student Overbeck went through the usual course
of drawing from the plaster cast. Many are the passages in his
compositions which might be quoted in point, particularly Biblical
incidents, such as the _Expulsion from Paradise_, wherein appear
undraped figures. Here are seen to advantage the generic form, the
typical beauty, the harmony of line, the symmetry, which distinguish the
Classic from the Gothic. Furthermore, Overbeck from first to last
eschewed the dress actually worn in the Holy Land, and deliberately
draped Christ and the Apostles as Greek sages and Roman senators. I
believe in so doing he was on the whole wise, his motive being to remove
his characters from the sphere of common life; even for him, the most
single-minded of men, art was a compromise: but while borrowing thus
largely both in figure and costume from the Classic, it were vain to
contend that his creations had an exclusively Christian origin. I may
add that I do not think the controversy lies so much between religions
as between historic Schools of Art. Overbeck was so much the artist
that, like Raphael, he made beauty wherever extant his own, only caring
that whatever was taken from the Pagan should be baptized with the
Christian spirit. Thus much indeed is confessed in his explanatory text
to his master-work the _Triumph of Religion in the Arts_. Therefore in
quoting his own words the subject may fairly be allowed to drop: he
writes: "Although heathenism, as such, should be looked upon by the
Christian painter with decided disdain, yet the arts as well as the
literature of the ancients may be turned to advantage, as the children
of Israel employed the gold and silver vessels which they brought with
them out of Egypt in the service of the true God in His Temple, after
melting them down and consecrating them anew."

The much abused Director Füger was the champion, as we have seen, of
hybrid classicism, hence the hostility between master and pupil. The
precise attitude assumed by the contending parties it is not very easy
to define; but that there were faults on both sides may easily be
conceded; that each was in extreme is also evident, and that Overbeck
was the last man to yield an inch or to meet half way is equally
certain. The fatal conflict broke out in differences as to the modes of
study: of the Academy we should now say that it was conventional, wedded
to false methods, in short, that it had wholly lost the right road in
the devious paths of decadence. The young innovators, not choosing to
conform, assumed a defiant position analogous to, though not identical
with, that taken half a century later by our English pre-Raphaelite
brethren. The study of the early masters in the royal collection they
preferred to the routine of the Academy; thus Dürer and Perugino were
held up in challenge to Correggio and Rubens, the idols of the day. Then
the discord was equally violent as to the right mode of studying nature.
The charge made against the German pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was that
they dealt with the life-model crudely and inartistically; on the
contrary, Overbeck and his adherents declared that they sought for
nothing else than truth, only they held that nature should not be
studied superficially, but with the end of deciphering her hidden
meanings. The human body they looked on as a temple, the face they read
as the mirror of the mind. All this, and much more besides, though then
a novelty, is now an old story; the doctrine that the bodily form is
moulded on the spiritual being, the speculations concerning the
relations between the "objective" and the "subjective," the outward and
the inward, the correspondence between the world of sense and the world
of thought, have one and all taken definite place in the history of
mental philosophy. We have here fully to realise that Overbeck had
breathed the atmosphere of mystic spiritualism in Lübeck; hence his
entrance into "spiritual art," hence his "soul pictures." His mind being
thus sublimated, he looked down upon the Viennese Academicians as common
and unclean; a rupture naturally ensued, and he and his companions being
in the minority, were with a strong hand, and with little ceremony,
expelled from the classes. The blow for the moment seemed overwhelming,
yet it brought salvation. Had Overbeck remained chained to the Academy,
art through him would not have seen a new birth. His course became
clear: he quitted Vienna for Rome, the city of his desire.

In the fourth and last year of the painter's apprenticeship in the
Austrian capital, was begun a really arduous composition, _Christ's
Entry into Jerusalem_.[7] The picture is of the utmost import as
affording the only evidence of the artist's attainments in Vienna. In
the first place to be remarked is the striking fact that not a vestige
remains of the French school of David, or of the showy masters of the
Italian decadence; the work, indeed, might have been designed as a
protest against the Viennese Academy, and as a justification of the
painter's revolt. The style adopted is conjointly that of the Italian
pre-Raphaelite and of the early German and Flemish masters. The
background is built up into a high horizon giving support to the
foreground figures; the colours are deep and lustrous, and so far
contrast favourably with the weaker and cruder tones unfortunately
adopted at a later period. The costume is a deliberate compromise
between the classic and the naturalistic. Nowhere does the artist
venture, as Horace Vernet, on the Bedouin dress. Christ is clothed in a
flowing robe, while the Apostles, as in the compositions of Raphael,
belong less to the Holy Land than to the Roman Forum. This treatment of
draperies was adhered to through all subsequent works, the only change
being further generalisation and a wider departure from naturalism. In
fact it is curious to observe in this early work how much nature enters;
figures and incidents come direct from life, as witness portraits of
contemporaries, groups of little children, young mothers and aged women.
Such passages are happily destitute of what the Viennese academicians
called "style;" they have more of the old German angularity than of "the
Grecian bend." Yet always with Overbeck Beauty is present, only not
thrust in, as by the academicians of the period, in violation of Truth
and Goodness. Also very noteworthy is the impress of thought in the
heads, hands, and attitudes; the painter, as we have seen, came of a
family of thinkers, and the purport of his art was to give expression to
mind. Here again he took as his teachers the early masters, so that
these figures, though more or less studied from nature, might seem to
have walked out from an old panel picture, yet they are more than
complications, they are impressed with the painter's own individuality.
Altogether the work marks not only a starting-point in Overbeck's life,
but a new era in the art of the nineteenth century.

The composition by lapse of time gains biographic and historic value
through the introduction, in accordance with the practice of the old
masters, of contemporary portraits. The painter has placed among the
spectators his father, in character of Burgomaster, also close by, his
mother, a remarkably shrewd old lady. His wife, memorable as a beauty,
is grouped with the three Marys, and by her side sports the painter's
much-loved son, a boy, palm-branch in hand, rejoicing with the
multitude. Nor are the pilgrim painters in Rome forgotten: Overbeck and
his brother artists, Cornelius and others, appear at respectful
distance, gazing on Christ riding into Jerusalem.

Overbeck, before quitting Vienna, pretty much determined his vocation:
he resolved to dedicate his life to Christian Art. On the point of
departure, in writing to a friend in Lübeck, he takes a retrospective
view, and also points to the future. He recalls evening walks under the
shade of trees with congenial companions; he remembers earnest
conversations on poetry, painting, and other manifestations of the
beautiful, yet still something remained wanting. True art, he writes, he
had sought in vain: "Oh, I was so full of it, my whole fancy was
possessed by Madonnas and Christs; I bore these impressions about with
me, I cherished them, but nowhere could I find response." In Vienna, as
we have seen, the desire of his soul remained unsatisfied. His conflicts
were painful, but once for all he declares, "I will abide by the Bible;
I elect it as my standing-point." A few friends were like-minded, and
one especially, who had come from Italy, encouraged a pilgrimage to the
land of Christian Art. Accordingly, Overbeck packed up his small worldly
possessions, of which the canvas of _Christ's Entry into Jerusalem_ was
the most considerable, and at length he reached Rome as a haven of rest.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: The Overbeck house, when I sought it out in 1880, was
rebuilt and retenanted; the ground floor happens to be now occupied by a
bookseller and fancy stationer, who sustains intact the Protestant
character of the establishment. In vain I enquired for engravings from
Overbeck; the nearest approach to religious art was a portrait of Luther
in chromo-lithography!]

[Footnote 2: See 'Leben Herrn Johann Daniel Overbeck, weiland Doctors
der Theologie und Rectors des Lübeckischen Gymnasiums, von einem nahen
Verwandten, und vormaligen Schüler des Verewigten.' Lübeck, 1803.]

[Footnote 3: See 'Zur Erinnerung an Christian Adolph Overbeck, beider
Rechte Doctor und Bürgermeister zu Lübeck.' Lübeck, 1830.]

[Footnote 4: I have seen in the Public Library, Lübeck, the engraved
portrait inscribed with the above words; the head bears a striking
resemblance to the well-known features of the son: the profile shows a
fine intellectual type, the forehead is ample and overhanging, the
coronal region full, the eye searching and earnest, the upper lip long,
the mouth large and firmly set. The last was not the most beautiful
feature in the painter's remarkable face.]

[Footnote 5: 'Frizchens Lieder, herausgegeben von Christian Adolph
Overbeck: neue Ausgabe.' Hamburg, Verlag von August Campe, 1831.]

[Footnote 6: This juvenile exercise, probably only a copy, was given by
young Overbeck to his master, and is now in the Town Library; it is
washed in with Indian ink, measures two feet by one foot nine inches,
and is signed and dated "F. Overbeck, 1805-21 April." The Gymnasium,
like the House, has recently been rebuilt, but the continuity of
learning remains unbroken--boys flock to the school as in the painter's
youth. The adjoining Town Library also contains the original cartoon,
drawn in Rome, for one of the frescoes illustrative of Tasso in the
Villa Massimo, length about ten feet; likewise the cartoon of the Vision
of St. Francis, painted in fresco in Sta. Maria degli Angeli, near
Assisi; the cartoon is about twenty feet long, the figures are
life-size.]

[Footnote 7: This picture, on canvas, is nearly eight feet long by six
feet high, the figures are about three feet. The 'Lübeckische Blätter'
states that "Overbeck began the work in Vienna in 1809, in the fourth
year of his art study, and there completed the background and the
figures in the middle plane, and that it was taken by him to Rome in
1810." In the course of time the foreground figures were introduced, but
not till 1824 did the picture reach completion. It bears the signature
and date "J. F. Overbeck, 1824." Thus fifteen years elapsed between the
first touch and the last, and some ten further years passed before the
canvas came to the artist's native city. I carefully examined the
painting in the Marien Kirche in October, 1880, and found it in perfect
preservation, the colours unchanged, the surface untouched by time or
restoration. The picture differs from the illustration to these pages.]



                            CHAPTER II.

                    ROME--THE GERMAN BROTHERHOOD.


The biographies of artists, proverbially picturesque, present few scenes
more pleasant to look on than the early years in Rome of the Brotherhood
of German Painters, of whom Overbeck and his friend Cornelius were the
leaders. Exiles in some sort from their native land, they entered Italy
as pilgrims, and were not far from suffering as martyrs. They were
devout, hard-working, and withal poor. They had been drawn from distant
cities to Rome as a common focus, and there they severed themselves from
ignoble present times, and abiding quietly amid ancient monuments and
sacred shrines, sought to make the days of old live anew. So congenial
did Rome prove to Overbeck, that he could hardly be induced to sever
himself from the city or its neighbourhood over a space of more than
fifty years. The task he assigned to himself was arduous: how he went to
work and accomplished his mission I shall try to show.

Overbeck, in company with his brother artists, Pforr, Vogel and
Hottinger, having in Vienna cast off all fetters, entered Rome as
freemen in 1810. A year later Cornelius, as a young Hercules, came upon
the scene; he had fought his way from Düsseldorf; like Overbeck, he had
found the Academy a burden and a snare, and he betook himself to Italy
for deliverance. Then began that closest friendship between the two
painters which, lasting for more than half a century, was severed only
by death. Cornelius, writing to his friend Mosler, describes the German
Brotherhood in Rome, and adds: "Overbeck from Lübeck is the one who by
the gentleness and nobility of his soul draws all around him; he
inspires them to everything true and beautiful. May be he is the
greatest artist now living: you would be astonished if you could see him
at his work. Yet he is the most humble and retiring of men." If Overbeck
were as a lamb, surely Cornelius was a lion, each indeed supplied what
was lacking in the other. Cornelius in after years said to Rudolf
Lehmann, "I am the man, he is the woman." And it may strike the mind as
a singular coincidence, or rather as a benignant disposition of
Providence, that at sundry turning-points in the world's history, two
men the opposites the one of the other have been conjoined, as if for
the better accomplishment of the work to be done. We may recall, in art,
Raphael and Michelangelo; in religion, St. John and St. Peter,
Melanchthon and Luther; and in philosophy, Plato and Aristotle. At the
risk of pushing the analogy too far, it may be added that Cornelius was
positive as Aristotle, impetuous as St. Peter and Luther, defiant as
Michelangelo; while in contrast, Overbeck shared with Plato idealism,
with St. John love, with Melanchthon gentleness, and with Raphael grace.

The German colony of pre-Raphaelite painters in Rome grew, and in after
years came accessions almost unintermittingly.[1] Within the first
twelve months were gathered together, as we have seen, Overbeck,
Cornelius, Pforr, Vogel and Hottinger. Soon followed the brothers
Wilhelm and Rudolf Schadow: to these must be added Koch, Wintergerst,
Sutter, Mosler, Veit, Schnorr, Eggers, Platner, and others. Later came
Joseph Führich, who literally worshipped the ground on which Overbeck
stood. Edward Steinle, of a younger generation, was also a bosom friend
of the painter. Later still arrived young zealots from Düsseldorf, where
Schadow had established the renowned school of religious art. The best
known of these disciples are Ernst Deger, Franz Ittenbach, and the
brothers Andreas and Carl Müller. After sitting at the feet of Overbeck
in Rome, it was their privilege to paint the chapel at Remagen on the
Rhine: these frescoes are accepted as among the most beauteous
manifestations of the master's teachings. This brief epitome anticipates
the story of years. In the course of a long life it was the good fortune
of Overbeck to witness the growth into a large tree of the grain of
mustard-seed he had cast into the earth.

The Brethren found congenial habitation in the old Franciscan convent of
Sant' Isidoro on the Pincian Hill. The picturesque monks having been
turned out by Napoleon, the German colony became tenants at a yearly
rental, and held in quietude the dormitories, also larger rooms which
served as studios, until the fall of the First Empire, when the
monastery once more reverted to the Mendicant Friars, by whom it is
still occupied. A few years since, the Superior of the Order politely
showed the present writer over the ecclesiastical establishment, now, as
formerly, devoted to charitable works. Time has brought little change in
the cells, the refectory, or in the large hall used for religious
teaching. Other rooms, great and small, are ranged round a cloister
enclosing a garden still fragrant with orange-blossoms as in the days of
Overbeck and Cornelius. Here, amid sacred associations and venerable
monuments, did these devoted students build up the new art, and when the
day's work was ended, they mounted at eventide the lofty Belvedere,
commanding a panorama of which, even in Rome, are few equals. From
neighbouring campanili, vesper bells sound a chorus in the bright
Italian sky, and beneath the eye stretches, as a prairie of the old
world, the wide Campagna, spanned by broken viaducts and bounded by the
blue Alban hills. Through the panorama winds the golden Tiber, guarded
by the Castle of St. Angelo and St. Peter's, and around and below lie
Monte Mario, the pine-clad Pincian, the Villa Medici, and the ilex
groves of the Ludovisi. The scene was inspiring, yet not without shadow
of melancholy; the Capitol had fallen into the hands of the stranger,
but the spirit of Dante fired the dauntless young men; they turned from
the present to the past, "imagination restored the empire that had been
lost," and though "calamity afflicted the country, they believed that
God had not forsaken the people."

Overbeck is known to have been deeply penetrated by the beauties of the
Italian sky and landscape. After sufferance of the rigours of northern
winters, mind and body expanded under the sun of the genial south. In
spring-time came days serene as his own spirit, giving to nature the
re-birth he sought for art; the clear horizon carried thought to a world
beyond; and in the deep blue above floated such clouds as had served the
old pre-Raphaelites with the thrones and footstools of saints and
angels. Overbeck did not, as the masters of the decadence, shroud his
compositions in backgrounds of impenetrable darkness, but flooded the
canvas with the light of the Italian heavens, and like the early
painters, placed holy people in the midst of such beauties of nature as
tranquillise and elevate the mind. And his sympathetic eye was not only
open to scenes which served as distances, he watched in the gardens of
the Roman villas the springing flowers, and made careful studies of
mossy, jewelled foregrounds which served as carpeting for the feet of
his Madonnas. Having turned his back on the Fatherland, his pictures
bear no memories of black forests or frowning Harzburg mountains, and he
became so thoroughly Italianised that he seated Holy Families on the
borders of the Thrasymene Lake, and placed saints within sight of Mount
Soracte! Like all true artists, he painted what he saw; as his
predecessors, he gathered in daily walks the accessories he needed. Fra
Angelico had painted at Fiesole, Francia at Bologna, Perugino at
Perugia, Pinturicchio at Spello and Siena, and each in turn, like
Overbeck, made the surrounding scenery serve as accompaniments to figure
compositions. Nature was to all these painters a great teacher; her
presences were healing powers, and they left out all the storms and
discords, and like our poet Wordsworth, brought her forms and aspects
into harmony with tranquil living. Yet the Brethren from their monastic
abode in Sant' Isidoro looked upon the outer world with sympathies as
diverse as their individual characters. When Cornelius took his walks
abroad, he crossed the Tiber to visit the _Last Judgment_ of
Michelangelo. Overbeck's steps lay in an opposite direction; he passed
by the church of Sta. Maria Maggiore, looked in for the sake of the old
mosaics, and then wended his solitary way to Sta. Croce in Gerusalemme,
to pay his devotions before the frescoes commemorative of the discovery
by St. Helena of the true Cross. Here, in lovely surroundings, nature
blended in unison with art, he looked on the blue hills and the calm
sky, and thanked God Italy was his home.

The mode of living adopted within the cells and refectory of Sant'
Isidoro naturally savoured of the monastic: it combined appropriately
society with solitude. The habit of the Brethren was to take meals
together at a common table, and to work separately each in his private
painting-room. The refectory served as a common hall for study and for
drawing from the model. The rule obtained in the establishment that the
provisioning and housekeeping should be taken in rotation by each, one
week at a time, and it is said that Overbeck had so far a sense of
creature comforts that he complained that one of the Brothers was
accustomed to put too much water into the broth! On Sundays the work
relaxed or ceased wholly, and the wholesome practice prevailed of
bringing together the products of the week for criticism with the end to
mutual improvement: many grave observations and lively pleasantries
passed from one to the other, Overbeck usually in his modest way acting
the part of mentor. "No one," writes Schadow, "who saw or heard him
speak, could question his purity of motive, his deep insight and
abounding knowledge: he is a treasury of art and poetry and a saintly
man." Overbeck had stoutly defended the adopted course of study which
others condemned. "What," he asked, "has been our crime? It is in great
measure that we have striven after a severe outline, in opposition to
the loose, cloudy, washed-out manner of the day. Is not this an
endeavour after truth?" But such studies, while filling portfolios,
brought no grist to the mill. And the historian Niebuhr, an anxious
friend, confesses that these devoted men "were hard put to it for their
daily bread," yet never has a confraternity of artists more nearly
approached an ideal. No vow was actually taken, the bond was simply
voluntary; thus Overbeck expressly states, "with the greatest concord
among us as to the fundamental principles of art, each goes on his own
way."

The attitude assumed almost of necessity provoked opposition, even
ridicule. The assumption was made of superiority, the tone grew even
assailant; Correggio, Guido, Guercino, and Domenichino, with all
post-Raphaelites, were denounced, and not only was it declared, "We are
right," but it was added, "You are wrong." The Brethren personally laid
themselves open to attack; they were not free from the affectations of
youth, they made themselves conspicuous by long hair and strange
costume, and through their exclusiveness and sanctity won as their
nickname the epithet of "Nazarites." Other designations were less
characteristic; simply descriptive are such terms as "pre-Raphaelites,"
"the new-old School," "the German-Roman artists," "the Church-Romantic
painters," "the German patriotic and religious painters." But all
trivial imputations weigh lightly when set in the balance against solid
work and holy living. The earnest devotees in the long run silenced evil
tongues and won respect and a good name. Niebuhr, ambassador and
historian, by no means a blind apologist, describing the art society of
the day, writes: "The painters in Rome are divided by a broad line of
demarcation into two parties--the one consisting of our friends and
their adherents, the other of the united phalanx of those who are of the
world, a set who intrigue and lie and backbite; they intend there shall
not be light, come what will. The former are exemplary in their lives;
the latter display the old licentiousness which characterised the German
artists in Rome thirty years ago. Happily, at the present moment, the
more talented of the newcomers are ranged on the side of our friends. It
is a hopeful sign that some foreigners, and even Italians, are beginning
to pay attention to their works." Overbeck and his more immediate
associates were indeed, in the best sense of the term, "purists" and
"pietists," and held vitally to the maxim that they who would know of a
doctrine must live out the doctrine. On no other conditions was it
possible to accomplish their mission--the regeneration of art. The
schools around them had fallen in great measure through lack of
sincerity and truth; they in contrast believed as our English Bishop
Butler taught, that conscience is the ruling faculty in the human mind.

The style of art dominant in Rome during Overbeck's early residence did
not materially differ from that which he had left behind him in Vienna.
The Director, in fact, of the Viennese Academy had in youth won the
prize of Rome, and there became the representative of the prevailing
decadence. Among the Italians, Battoni, following in the footsteps of
Carlo Maratti, was not without the grace and the beauty of Correggio and
Guido. Descending a generation later, Overbeck found among his
contemporaries Pietro Benvenuto, one of the most distinguished adherents
of the school of David: whose masterpiece in Arezzo Cathedral has justly
been designated "one of the finest productions of modern art." These
were not men to be wholly despised. Furthermore it is to be remembered,
as before indicated, that the Germans, in a generation only just passed
away, had here in Rome formed a learned school based on the antique;
Lessing, in his treatise, the 'Laocoon,' and Winckelmann, by his
criticisms on the marbles of the Vatican, had induced a new Classic
Renaissance. The painter Raphael Mengs, thus guided, appropriately
executed in the Villa Albani the famous fresco of _Apollo and the Nine
Muses on Mount Parnassus_. Again, here are men and manifestations not to
be disdained. But for such art Overbeck, as we have seen, cherished
inveterate antipathy: whether he was absolutely right, impartial
critics, founding a judgment on a wide historic basis, will hesitate to
determine. The correct verdict probably is that each school is good of
its kind, that the one possesses merits distinctive of the other, and
that it is well for the world that every mode of thought should in turn
obtain the fullest and highest manifestation. But Overbeck's vision was
too intently focussed on one point to perceive that his sphere was but a
segment, a part, though by no means an unimportant part, of the greater
whole. The classic movement, against which he set his face steadily, was
not to be easily annihilated; it survived in Rome in such illustrious
representatives as Canova, Thorwaldsen and Gibson. But Overbeck grew
more and more the recluse; he shortly became a proselyte to the Romish
Church, shut himself out from other associations, and thus after a time
devoted his pencil exclusively to Christian Art.

The early pictures and drawings executed in Rome carry out the painter's
resolve. To this first period belong: _The Adoration of the Kings_
(1811), _Jesus in the House of Martha and Mary_ (1812), _The Preaching
of St. John_, _The Raising of Lazarus_, _The Entombment_, _Christ
Blessing Little Children_, _The Holy Family_, _Ave Maria, Blessed art
thou among Women_, also a portrait of Vittoria Caldoni.[2] The first
commission received by the struggling painter came from Queen Caroline
of Bavaria for _The Adoration of the Kings_, in oils. The Queen had
written to Rome saying that she wished for a picture by the young
artist; that as to the price, a hard bargain need not be driven, for
when one gains a beautiful work, the cost cannot be regretted. Overbeck,
on receiving the good news, writes, December 16, 1811, "I was so
overpowered with joy that I could not bring out a syllable. The affair
moves me all the more because I had not dreamt of it. What can be the
cause of my good fortune? Happy day! I shall think of it as long as I
live: to the Lord be the praise." Four days later he writes to
Lübeck:--"What joy! I can now relieve my parents from further burden.
This is the moment so long wished for. Henceforth and for ever I am a
man and an independent artist in the workshop, free as a king over the
boundless domain of fantasy to create a beautiful world."

The maxim that correct drawing lies at the foundation of all true art
was maintained by the Brotherhood through both precept and example.
Overbeck first mastered form, he trained his hand to outline; next he
learnt the principles of composition, that is the power of combining
separate parts into a connected whole; lastly, he added colour, but
rather as an accessory than an essential. Hence his water-colours and
even his oil-pictures are often little more than tinted drawings. In the
first Roman period, that is up to about the year 1820, when the age of
thirty had been reached, we find the artist in full possession of the
faculty of expressing his ideas at the point of his pencil. Of this
happy facility many examples have come before me: one especially, at
Stift Neuburg, _The Raising of Jairus's Daughter_ (1814); another,
almost a replica of the last, delicately washed with colour, in the
private collection of Herr Malss, of the Städel Institute, Frankfort. I
note with admiration the precision and subtlety of the form, especially
in the hands and feet. The work, though small in scale (1 ft. 3 in. by
1 ft.), is large in manner, the treatment being that of the Great
Masters as distinguished from the Small Masters. Overbeck, who was on
intimate terms with the family of Director Malss, said that he wished
they should have a work as perfect as he could make it: verily he
realised his endeavour. Belonging to the same period, I find in another
private collection in Frankfort a portrait in delicate pencilling of a
young girl of about eighteen; the hair is in close curls all round the
head, the necklace is marked with utmost detail. Perhaps I have not laid
sufficient stress on the truth and rectitude of Overbeck's work, as
seen, for instance, in the _Head of an Old Monk_ among the drawings of
the National Gallery, Berlin. This is so close to nature that a
deformity in one ear has been conscientiously registered. The handling
here is masterly, the touch firm and strong; the play of lines in the
hatchings proves a free hand and a facile turn of the wrist. Also may be
mentioned, for incidents taken from the life, a remarkable composition
at Stift Neuburg, _The Feeding of the Hungry_. Close to nature are these
transcripts of the poor, the needy, and aged, one advancing on crutches
to receive bounty; and over all presides the spirit of beauty and
charity. Also in the same collection is a triptych, wherein angels and
cherubs appear: this is among the earliest examples of the intervention
of the supernatural. Overbeck was not the man to rush in where angels
fear to tread. Likewise among Biblical subjects, I find in the National
Gallery, Berlin, _The Creation of Adam and Eve_, and _The Expulsion from
Paradise_. Here the delineation of the undraped figure proves absolute
knowledge, and shows, as before said, that the usual course of drawing
from the nude had been gone through. The point indeed need not be
discussed further, as Schadow expressly states that Overbeck's drawings
from the nude as well as from the draped figure were, for subtlety and
truth to nature, the admiration of every one. The _Creation_ and
_Expulsion_ are of exceptional value, because the artist for once
borrows from Michelangelo: also it will be seen that Overbeck gave
himself from the outset to the illustration of the Biblical narrative,
and thus fondly trod in the footsteps of Giotto and Fra Angelico.

An Exhibition of the works of the German painters in Rome was held in
1819, in a room of the Palazzo Caffarelli, which, as the official
residence of Niebuhr and Bunsen, had often been a spot of kindly meeting
and hospitality. The collection Frederick Schlegel pronounced
unsurpassed in richness, variety, and intrinsic value. Public interest
was awakened, and attention centred round the contributions of Overbeck,
Schadow, Veit and Cornelius. Overbeck sent a _Madonna_ and a _Flight
into Egypt_; and Schlegel specially names the cartoon of _Jerusalem
Delivered_, for the frescoes then in progress at the Villa Massimo, as
proof of the artist's power of expression and faculty of invention. He
adds: "The struggle of the German artists in Rome daily excites more and
more observation, and their progress is watched with cordial sympathy by
men of all nations."

A very serious topic must now be considered. Overbeck in 1813
relinquished the Protestant faith of his forefathers and joined the
Roman Catholic Church. Obviously in these pages polemics are out of
place, and the step which the conscientious painter thought fit to take
has to be here noted so far only as it serves as an index to character
and as an interpretation of art. Rightly to judge the case, it were well
correctly to estimate Overbeck as a man: his strength lay within his
art, outside which he had infirmities; his bodily health was feeble, his
mind to the extreme refined and to the last degree sensitive; he shrank
from the conflict of life; common people he could not associate with;
for the ordinary world he was wholly unfit, and sought refuge in some
ideal not yet reached. Niebuhr truly reads the character when he writes:
"Overbeck is an enthusiast and quite illiberal; he is a very amiable man
and endowed with a magnificent imagination, but incapable by nature of
standing alone, and by no means so clear-headed as he is poetical. He
bends easily and naturally under the yoke of the Catholic faith."

Overbeck doubtless felt all the more need of safe anchorage from the sea
of troubles on which many minds were cast through the controversy and
scepticism which agitated Protestant Europe. In Lübeck, as we have seen,
the phases of faith were philosophic and æsthetic, and the divinities of
Olympus and Parnassus shared equal favour with the saints of the Church.
The young painter was cast in a severer mould, and needed that the
infinite and eternal should be circumscribed by definite form. It is
reported of a certain German philosopher that, when addressing his
class, he ended with the words:--"In the next lecture we shall proceed
to construct God!" Overbeck preferred to such speculation the authority
of the Church. The painter Joseph Führich puts the case strongly:[3] he
declares that his friend had to take the choice between Pantheism and
Catholicism. Overbeck felt that art was a religious question, and he
determined that all his work should be a protest against the
indifferentism and latitudinarianism which account all religions equal.
He conceded that secular writings and mundane arts were not without
their value and charm; in the arts may be permitted divers
manifestations, such as landscape, animal, and flower painting. The
Church is tolerant of all that is good, but on the highest pinnacle
stands the Christian painter. Over these matters he had pondered long,
and was accustomed to say to himself, "Let not my Christ be ever robbed
of my love; the true home of art is within the soul before the altar of
the Church; the tabernacle of art has its foundations in the worship of
God."

Early Christian Art naturally drew Overbeck towards the Roman Catholic
Church. Frederick Schlegel, Rio, Pugin severally fell under the same
spell. The old mosaics, frescoes, and easel pictures which came down
through unbroken ecclesiastical descent, were for the Christian artist
of the nineteenth century means of grace, and served as revelations of
the Divine. Fra Angelico was taken as a pattern; through living and
loving, watching and praying, believing and working, the High Priesthood
of Art was to be established. And the actual experiences of modern Rome
brought no disillusion; the frivolity and the hollowness which so often
disgust newcomers were either not seen or were turned aside from. The
painter was too pure and childlike to realise the evil, he turned only
to the good: for him the world shone as a land of light; from art he
would exorcise the passions; the true art-life blended heaven with
earth, the ideal could be attained only through the Church: her
teachings were the education of humanity.

The decisive step ultimately taken is recorded as follows: "Overbeck at
Whitsuntide in the year 1813 joined the Catholic Faith, and with joy
entered into the family of the world's Church. His spiritual guide and
confessor was Professor, afterwards Cardinal, Ostini; and the poet
Zacharias Werner, of Königsberg, as a fellow-countryman from the shores
of the northern sea, acted as godfather at the ceremony. The poet, in
writing at the time to the Prince Primate of Dalberg, said that he
recognised in the young painter 'a true seraphic character of the
Fatherland.'"[4]

A veritable mental epidemic seized on the German artists, and when one
after another of Overbeck's friends followed his example, Niebuhr took
alarm, and bethought himself of what measures could be taken. It appears
that a pamphlet had been published intended expressly for the conversion
of the young Germans, and Niebuhr, feeling the emergency of the
situation, requested a friend to bring or send Luther's works with other
writings against Popery. He adds: "It cannot be expressed how disgusting
these proceedings become the more you see of them. At this moment the
proselytes have Schadow, one of the ablest of the young artists, on
their bait." At a later date he writes: "I like Overbeck and the two
Schadows much, and they are estimable both as artists and as men; but
the Catholicism of Overbeck and one of the Schadows excludes entirely
many topics of conversation." Overbeck is elsewhere described as of
"very prepossessing physiognomy, taciturn and melancholy," with a
"proselyting spirit." Bunsen, who no less than Niebuhr deplored these
conversions, writes in 1817 that Overbeck had been for a fortnight in
August a welcome guest at Frascati, that he had finished a water-colour
drawing--a very lovely Madonna with the infant Jesus--"of which he
permitted a copy to be taken, still extant, and valued as a record of
the time and of the short-lived intimacy with the gentle and
heavenly-minded artist, who soon after this period withdrew from all
companions of a different religious persuasion from that which he had
adopted." Among the chief converts are numbered the brothers Schadow,
Veit, Platner, and the critic Frederick Schlegel. Cornelius is not
included, because he was born into Catholicism. He is described as of
"an open and powerful intellect, free from all limitations," "with
habits and convictions rooted as the facts of his existence." He thus
looked on coolly while the new converts were at fever-heat. Yet it is
pleasant to know that these controversies were, in the main, preserved
from personal bitterness, and that whatever might be the difference in
creeds, the broad union of religion and humanity was never torn asunder.
Thus in 1817 Niebuhr, a Protestant and possibly something more, was able
to write: "I associate chiefly, indeed almost exclusively, with the
artists who belong to the religious party, because those who are
decidedly pious, or who strive after piety, are by far the noblest and
best men, and also the most intellectual, and this gives me an
opportunity of hearing a good deal on faith and its true nature." And
the faith of these men we know to have brought forth good works; as were
their belief and their practice, such were their pictures, and it is
scarcely here the place to discuss whether larger views might have given
to their art wider extension.

By a curious coincidence, about the time when these conversions to Roman
Catholicism were going on in Rome the third jubilee of the Reformation
was celebrated at Lübeck. The pietist father of the painter made himself
champion of the cause, and delivered a speech at a meeting of the Bible
Society, wherein he proclaimed Luther the great witness of truth.
"Luther," he declared, "spoke, wrote, thundered, and the power of
darkness was overturned; thus conscience became free, doctrines were
purified, and the precious Bible, as a heavenly treasure, was given back
to the people."[5] It has been assigned as a reason why Overbeck never
returned home, that he could not bear to see the city of Lübeck with her
old walls thrown down; but a less fanciful cause was that other walls
than those of brick and mortar had been set up, dividing kindred and
friends.

Let us now turn from polemics to the pleasing descriptions given by
Niebuhr and Bunsen of the daily lives of the German Brotherhood. It is
not always that archæologists and literary men are the soundest
counsellors of artists; they place overmuch stress on the inward
conception and motive; they lay down, like Coleridge, the axiom that "a
picture is an intermediate something between a thought and a thing," and
in exalting the "thought" they subordinate the "thing." This was the
last teaching that Overbeck needed. He and his fellows were already only
too prone to ignore technique, to neglect colour, chiaroscuro, texture.
They deemed it all-sufficient to perfect form as the language of
thought; consequently while their works instruct and elevate, they fail
to please or to gain wide popularity.

Nevertheless, taken for all in all, Overbeck and Cornelius must be
accounted most fortunate in their intellectual companionship. The habit
was, when gathered socially together at the Embassy in the Palazzo
Caffarelli, to read books, talk of pictures, and to consort together
generally for the furtherance of the great art revival in which Niebuhr
and Bunsen believed fervently. The attachment became mutual, the
intercourse was prized on both sides. Niebuhr writes of Cornelius and
his wife: "They are, strictly speaking, intimate family friends;" and
again he says: "The society of Cornelius and Overbeck gives an inspiring
variety to the day's occupations, and one or other of these intellectual
companions seldom fails to join our evening walks." In another letter we
read: "Cornelius of Düsseldorf, Platner from Leipzig, Koch from the
Tyrol, Overbeck from Lübeck, Mosler from Coblentz, and William Schadow
from Berlin, were assembled at Bunsen's in the apartments of the painter
Brandis: in different ways and degrees we are attached to them all, and
we think them men of talent. Their society is the only pleasure we
derive from human beings in Rome." The young artists are found to be
wholly without worldly wisdom, a charge to which at least Overbeck might
readily plead guilty. Niebuhr further declares: "I confidently believe
we are on the eve of a new era of Art in Germany, similar to the sudden
bloom of our literature in the eighteenth century." He discerned in the
movement an unaccustomed spiritual phenomenon--one of those
manifestations of the national mind from time to time found in the
history of humanity. He felt once more an outburst of the intellectual
life of Germany, a rising again of the force of genius which had
impelled Lessing, Kant, and Goethe, which had given birth to profound
philosophy and science, and had animated a whole people with patriotism
and a spirit of self-sacrifice to do battle amid national songs and
hymns, even to the death, in the cause of the King and the Fatherland.
Bunsen testifies how Niebuhr showed his affection and care for the
Prussian and German disciples of art; he considered it an agreeable part
of his duty and vocation to render them assistance, to encourage them in
their studies, to give them the time of which he was so sparing to men
of mere show and fashion, also to render them pecuniary assistance when
necessary. To Niebuhr belongs the honour of having been the first to
recognise the new school at the moment when it was "despised, derided,
and vituperated." He befriended the men who had to fight their way
against shallowness and wickedness, against the low and false taste of
connoisseurs and patrons, till the day came when the martyrs of an
exalted aspiration gained the attention and admiration of the world.

Nor in numbering friends must be forgotten Frederick Schlegel, the
avowed champion of the new school. The critic was not without connecting
links and antecedents; he had made himself son-in-law of the Jewish
philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, and stepfather of the painter Philip
Veit; and he further qualified himself for his critical duties by
joining the Roman Catholic Church. Overbeck and this rhapsodist on
Christian Art were naturally close allies; each was of use to the other,
and gave and received in turns. The artist strove, it is said, to embody
in pictorial form his friend's teachings; the two, in fact, moved in
parallel lines. Schlegel urged that the new style must be emulative and
aspiring, ever possessed of lofty ideas. Believe not, he writes, that
the glory of art has passed away. The hope is not vain that there comes
a rekindling of former fires; art uprising from the dark night breaks as
the morning's dawn; "a new life can spring only from the depths of a new
love." Let us hold that Art like Nature renews her youth. The soul alone
can comprehend the truly beautiful; the eye gazes but on the material
veil--the union of the inner soul with the outward form constitutes the
noblest art. Nowhere are to be found more eloquent utterances on "the
Bond between Art and the Church," but in all is overlooked the simple
fact that "the Celestial light" cannot be made appreciable to mortal eye
otherwise than through the medium of matter, and according to the laws
of vision. And to such oversight is greatly to be ascribed the
infirmities of Overbeck and his school. It is forgotten that the most
holy of motives cannot save a picture which is not good as a picture.
Schlegel discusses the question, What is needed by the Christian
painter? The following phrenzy, though wordy, is worth reading:--

"The answer is that the beautiful truths of the Christian faith should
not be received into the mind as merely lifeless forms, in passive
acquiescence to the teaching of others: they must be embraced with an
earnest conviction of their truth and reality, and bound up with each
individual feeling of the painter's soul. Still even the influence of
devotion is not alone sufficient; for however entirely religion may be
felt to compensate for all that is wanting to our earthly happiness,
much more is required to form a painter. I know not how better to
designate that other element, without which mere technical skill, and
even correct ideas, will be unavailing, than by calling it the inborn
light of inspiration. It is something quite distinct from fertility of
invention, or magic of colouring, rare and valuable as is the latter
quality in painting. It is no less distinct from skill in the
technicalities of design and from the natural feeling for beauty
inherent in some susceptible minds. The poet and the musician should
also be inspired, but their inspiration is more the offspring of human
emotion; the painter's inspiration must be an emanation of celestial
light: his very soul must, so to speak, become itself illumined, a
glowing centre of holy radiance, in whose bright beams every material
object should be reflected; and even his inmost conceptions and daily
thoughts must be interpenetrated by its brightness and remodelled by its
power. This indwelling light of the soul should be recognised in every
creation of his pencil, expressive as a spoken word; and in this lies
the peculiar vitality of Christian beauty, and the cause of the
remarkable difference between Classic and Christian art." "Physical
beauty is employed by the Christian painter but as a material veil, from
beneath which the hidden divinity of the soul shines forth, illuminating
all mortal life with the higher spirituality of love."

A kindly and timely commission came to the masters of the German
Brotherhood--Overbeck, Cornelius, Veit, and Schadow--from the Prussian
Consul, Bartholdi. Personal relations, with the desire of giving the
untried painters an opportunity of proving what good was in them,
prompted the charge to decorate with frescoes a room in the Casa
Bartholdi, situated on the brow of the Pincian Hill.[6] The Prussian
Consul was in a roundabout way connected with Philip Veit and Frederick
Schlegel, whose mutual relationship has been already recounted; his wife
was sister of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, and aunt of the
illustrious musician, and sundry intermarriages had made, as it were, a
compact in literature and art between the families of Bartholdi,
Mendelssohn, Veit, and Schlegel.[7] The chosen sphere of operations was
comparatively narrow; the small room in an upper story, now of historic
interest, is not more than twenty-four feet square. The situation is
inviting; the beauties of nature are usually found proximate with the
beauties of art, and here the windows command a panorama sweeping from
the Pincian to the Tiber, and embracing St. Peter's, the Vatican, St.
Angelo, and the Capitol. The topic chosen for these wall pictures was
the _Story of Joseph and his Brethren_--a theme conveniently
accommodating to any existing diversities in creeds or styles. The
technical process adopted was fresco, a monumental art, the revival of
which formed part of the mission of the German fraternity. The arduous
undertaking was commenced and carried out in strict accordance with
historic precedents. Preliminary studies were made, and well-matured
cartoons on the scale of the ultimate pictures were perfected. To the
lot of Overbeck fell _Joseph sold by his Brethren_,[8] and _The Seven
Years of Famine_.

It has been my pleasure to visit and revisit these wall-paintings over a
period of a quarter of a century, and growing experience does but
enhance my admiration. They fulfil the first requirements of wall
decoration: the story is told lucidly and concisely; the style is
simple, noble; accidents are held subordinate to essentials; the
compositions are distributed symmetrically; the colour, though a little
crude, is brought into somewhat agreeable unity; the light and shade are
not focussed at one point, but carried evenly over the whole surface;
and the treatment inclines sufficiently to the flat to keep the
compositions down on the wall. The finished pictures of the four masters
vary in dimensions. The lengths range from eight to seventeen feet, the
height is mostly about eight feet; the figures do not exceed five feet.
The lines bounding the figures and draperies are firm and incisive.
Accordant with the practice of the old fresco-painters, each day's work
is marked and discernible by the joinings in the plaster, and the
junctions between the dry plaster of one day and the wet plaster of the
next are appropriately fixed at the points where the subject breaks off
readily and can be resumed most easily. The technique is thoroughly
mastered, and, barring some surface cracks, the paintings are in as
perfect condition as when they came from the artists' hands. The chief
defect is a somewhat crude opacity of pigments, a characteristic
belonging to the debased period of wall-painting rather than to the
"_fresco buono et puro_" of Giotto, Luini, and Pinturicchio.

Another point to be remarked is that the frescoes in the Casa Bartholdi
show that the four painters--Overbeck, Cornelius, Veit, and
Schadow--worked here at the outset of their career in remarkable unison.
In the course of years they diverged widely, but as yet the school
collectively dominates over the artist individually. The Brethren had
formed themselves equally on the same originals, and had scarcely found
time to take their several departures from nature. Indeed, the actual
presence of nature comes almost as a surprise in these compositions.
Overbeck's figures are manifestly more or less studied from the life,
only, according to his habitual practice, he has taken pains to
eliminate from his models any individual accidents which marred the
generic form, softening down angularity and ruggedness into pervading
grace and beauty. Here and there are traces of affectation, together
with a feebleness incident to the painter's weak physique which stands
in utmost contrast with the force of Cornelius. Overbeck mostly shunned
action and dramatic intensity, and here the figures in their movements
depart but slightly from the equilibrium of repose. As a religious
artist, the New Testament was more within his sphere than the Old. Thus
the outrage committed against Joseph by his brethren is toned down into
a calm, orderly transaction; placidity reigns throughout; all is brought
into keeping with the painter's spirit of gentleness.

The Casa Bartholdi frescoes,[9] when finished, produced a most
favourable impression in Rome; the cause of the Germans was greatly
strengthened, and the opposite party felt the defeat. The Italians, too,
were taken by surprise to find themselves beaten by foreigners on their
own ground. A natural consequence of the success was further
commissions, and the fortune no less than the fame of the revivalists
was made. Singularly enough the modern Romans came forward as the next
patrons. Niebuhr, writing from Rome in 1817, says: "It is a significant
fact that some foreigners, even Italians, are beginning to pay attention
to the works of our friends." It is well known that the Romans had been
addicted for centuries to mural painting in palaces, villas and
garden-houses: Raphael was employed to decorate the Farnesina; Guido and
Annibale Carracci painted the ceilings of the Farnese and of the
Rospigliosi Palaces. Emulating these illustrious examples, Prince
Massimo commissioned Overbeck, Cornelius, Veit, and Schnorr to cover the
walls and ceilings of his Garden Pavilion near St. John Lateran with
frescoes illustrative of Tasso, Dante, and Ariosto. Not only the themes,
but the local surroundings were inspiring. The Villa Massimo is a site
only possible in Rome. When the artists in the morning came to work,
before their view opened a panorama embracing the Claudian Aqueduct, St.
John Lateran, the Church of Sta. Croce in Gerusalemme, the old Walls of
Rome, with cypresses and stone pines around, and the Alban Hills beyond.
The Pavilion assigned to the painters stands in the Villa garden, with
the accustomed growth and fragrance of orange-trees, magnolias, azaleas,
roses, and violets. Overbeck entered on the work with poetic ardour.

The Massimo Pavilion is little more than three rooms standing on the
ground; the first, indeed, is an Entrance Hall, and therein Schnorr
painted copiously from Ariosto. On the left a door leads to the room
assigned to Cornelius for the illustration of Dante: the ceiling fell to
the lot of Veit. On the right another door opens to a corresponding room
of like dimensions, set apart to Overbeck and Tasso's _Jerusalem
Delivered_.[10] This small interior is not more than fifteen feet
square, and the wall-spaces are much broken up by doors and windows, so
that only one of the four sides remained disencumbered. The compositions
are eleven in number, and are unequal alike in size and merit. The
largest and most noteworthy is fifteen feet long by ten feet high,
representing the _Meeting of Godfrey de Bouillon and Peter the Hermit_.
The narrative is lucidly told, the picture well put together, and the
successive planes of distance are duly marked. Altogether the
fundamental principles of wall-decoration are clearly understood in this
the most complex composition yet attempted by the painter. Another
thoroughly studied design is _Sophronio and Olindo on the Funeral Pyre
delivered by Clorinda_.[11] The action has more than usual force and
movement, and the undraped figures are drawn with severe exactitude.
Presiding over the whole series, in the middle of the ceiling, is an
allegorical figure of _Jerusalem Delivered_.[12] An angel on either side
unlooses the fetters of an innocent placid maiden crowned with thorns.
These frescoes, notwithstanding their situation in a cold, damp
garden-house, remained, when I saw them last, in January, 1878, in sound
condition: thus once more we find Overbeck, equally with Cornelius, to
have been solidly grounded in the method of wall-painting.

I must confess that I have always been disappointed with this Tasso
Room.[13] One reason is that the carrying out of the original designs
was delegated to an inferior brush. Overbeck was not in strong health;
he worked slowly, and when other commissions came in, some more to his
liking, such as that for the church picture at Assisi, he felt
overburdened, and wished to be released from a task that had grown
wearisome. The work, began about 1817, had dragged on for ten years,
till at last Overbeck made a deliberate call on good and friendly Joseph
Führich, and requested that he would complete the unfinished frescoes.
The proposal, naturally felt as an honour, was gratefully acceded to.
After this distance of time it becomes difficult to determine how far
this worthy substitute must be held responsible for much that is to be
regretted on these walls. For some of the compositions the master had
made nothing more than sketches or indications, and at least three must
be laid to the charge of the scholar. Führich was for Overbeck what
Giulio Romano had been for Raphael, and the Tasso Room suffered the same
degradation as the latest stanza in the Vatican.

The Tasso Room may be taken as a measure of Overbeck's capacity. This
"cyclus," or series, shows the painter's power of sustained thought and
faculty of invention. Much, doubtless, is compilation, yet something
remains of originality. The best passages are those not borrowed from
old pictures, but taken from life, which makes the regret all the
greater that here and in the sequel nature was not trusted more
implicitly. On the whole, these compositions leave the impression that
Overbeck had not mental force or physical stamina sufficient for the
task. It is true that the presence of a lyrical spirit is felt; but
scenes of Romance need more fire and passion; the deeds of Chivalry were
not enacted in a cloister. Perhaps self-knowledge wisely counselled
Overbeck to quit the regions of creative imagination. With greater peace
of mind he trod in the future, the safer paths of Christian Art, wherein
precedent and authority served as his guide and support.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: See among other authorities: 'Die Deutsche Kunst in
unserem Jahrhundert, von Dr. Hagen,' vol. ix. Berlin, 1857.]

[Footnote 2: The above compositions suggest the following observations.
Overbeck was in the habit of making over many years replicas with
variations and improvements of favourite themes, and the dates of the
successive stages are not always easily determined. Of the _Preaching of
St. John_, the Düsseldorf Academy possesses an example dated 1831. Also
in the same collection is a mature and almost faultless drawing, fit
companion for Raphael, of _The Raising of Lazarus_; the figure of Christ
is 9 inches high. Overbeck made several renderings of the
universally-beloved composition, _Christ Blessing Little Children_: the
most deliberate is that given in these pages. The replica in the Meyer
Collection, Hamburg, is of the last decade of the artist's life, and
betrays infirmity of hand. _The Entombment_, classed above among works
of the first Roman period, is probably that now in the choice collection
at Stift Neuburg, near Heidelberg, dated 1814, and obviously suggested
by Raphael's _Entombment_ in the Borghese Palace. No drawings have
better pedigree than those in this old family mansion: a predecessor of
the present possessor was the artist's personal friend. The version of
_The Bearing to the Sepulchre_ given in these pages is from one of the
forty well-known drawings of the Gospels, and dates 1844. At Stift
Neuburg I also saw in the autumn of 1880, by the courtesy of the owner,
Graf von Bernus, the drawing for the _Holy Family_, chosen as an
illustration to this volume; it is of utmost delicacy and beauty--the
motive has evidently been borrowed from Raphael; the measurement is 1
foot 3 inches by 1 foot 8 inches.]

[Footnote 3: See 'Autobiography of Joseph Führich,' published in Vienna
and Pesth, 1875.]

[Footnote 4: See 'Historisch-Politische Blätter für das Katholische
Deutschland,' vol. lvi., part 8. Munich, 1870.]

[Footnote 5: See 'Erinnerung an Christian Adolph Overbeck;' Lübeck,
1830.]

[Footnote 6: The Casa Bartholdi has for some years been let as lodgings
to a superior class of travellers, and is much favoured by the English.
The rooms are not always accessible; the servants have been known to
name, as the most convenient time for seeing the frescoes, Sunday
mornings, when the tenants are attending the English Church. The Painted
Chamber is suitably furnished for daily uses; _The History of Joseph_,
which covers the walls, is not too serious a theme to mingle with the
common avocations of domestic life: fresco-painting, in fact, is not
only a national and an ecclesiastic, but likewise a domestic art.]

[Footnote 7: The Royal Academy Exhibition, Berlin, 1880, contained a
large coloured design for the decoration of the ceiling of the Villa
Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. Thus the joint names over a period of more than
half a century stand conspicuous among art-patrons.]

[Footnote 8: Overbeck's cartoon in charcoal on paper of _Joseph sold by
his Brethren_ is carefully preserved under glass in the Städel
Institute, Frankfort, where I examined it in 1880: the width is 11 feet,
the height 8 feet, the figures are about 5 feet. The outlines are firmly
accentuated; the details sufficient without being elaborate; the figure,
as proved specially in the arms, hands, legs, and feet, is perfectly
understood; the draperies are cast simply and broadly; the heads of
noble type are impressed with thought. Not a false touch appears
throughout; the crayon is guided by knowledge; evidently preliminary
studies and tentative drawings must have preceded this consummated
product. No wonder that this cartoon made a deep impression; nothing had
been seen at all like it in Rome for very many years.]

[Footnote 9: Many are the authors who have written on the Casa Bartholdi
frescoes, the chief authorities are Hagen, Förster, Reber, and Riegel.]

[Footnote 10: See among authorities before named, 'Geschichte des
Wiederauflebens der deutschen Kunst zu Ende des 18. und Anfang des 19.
Jahrhunderts, von Hermann Riegel.' Hannover, 1876.]

[Footnote 11: The cartoon for this fresco is in the Leipzig Museum,
where I examined it in 1880. It is in chalk on whity-brown paper, in
squares and mounted on canvas; length 15 feet by 7 feet. As a mature
study of form and composition it is just what a cartoon should be, but
the touch is feeble and poor. Like most of Overbeck's designs, it has
received the tribute of engraving.]

[Footnote 12: The cartoon was acquired for the National Gallery, Berlin,
in 1878, at the price of 37_l_. 10_s_. 0_d_.; measurement 6 feet by 4
feet: it has been engraved.]

[Footnote 13: Persistent difficulties are placed in the way of even
students who desire to visit these frescoes; the public are
systematically excluded from the Villa Massimo, and on two occasions,
when after much trouble I gained orders for admission, the attendant, in
accordance with instructions, forbade the taking of notes.]



                            CHAPTER III.

                           ROME--GERMANY.


The life of Overbeck apportioned itself into successive periods of five,
ten, or more years, corresponding to the important works from time to
time in hand. The painter threw his whole mind into whatever he
undertook, and so his pictures in their conception, and even in their
execution, reflect the thought and the state of consciousness which for
the while held supreme sway. The preceding chapters treat of two
periods; the one describes the early times in Lübeck and Vienna, the
other presents a sketch of the first decade in Rome. The foundations
have been laid; the main principles for the guidance of a true life and
for the building up of a soul-moving art have been firmly fixed; and now
it remains to be seen how far and in what way the lofty aim was reached.

Overbeck, as soon as his prospects in life became somewhat assured,
married. Little is recorded of the wife: the earliest mention I have met
with is in 1818, when the artists in Rome gave a grand fête in honour of
the Crown Prince of Bavaria. Overbeck and Cornelius furnished designs
for pictorial decorations and transparencies: the guests wore mediæval
costumes, and made themselves otherwise attractive; and we learn on the
authority of Madame Bunsen that among the brilliant assembly "the most
admired of the evening was Overbeck's future wife, a lady beautiful,
engaging, and influential, from Vienna."[1] The marriage, which was not
long delayed, proved on the whole happy, though the wife's delicate
health gave constant cause for anxiety, and her other demands on an
indulgent husband are said to have provoked the displeasure of Cornelius
and other friends. Two children were the fruits of the union: a girl,
who died young, and a boy, who lived only long enough to give singular
promise.

Overbeck, as we have seen, had, in common with his brethren, given his
best powers to "monumental painting." For this noble and "architectonic
art" he was not without qualifications. He moved in an exalted sphere,
his mind ranged among immutable truths, his forms were high in type, his
compositions had symmetry and concentration, he knew how to adapt lines
and masses to structural spaces. An occasion calculated to call forth
his powers came with the commission to paint in fresco _The Vision of
St. Francis_ for the church of Sta. Maria degli Angeli, near Assisi.
Overbeck here, as his custom was, remained obedient to tradition, and
yet struck out a new path; he was not content to retrace the footsteps
of Giotto or of Cigoli, he preferred to depict the vision of his own
mind. He enthrones the Madonna as Queen of Heaven, seated by the side of
the risen Saviour, surrounded by the angelic hosts. On the lower earth,
also attended by angels, appears St. Francis in adoration, while on the
other side kneel reverently two mendicant friars. The picture belongs to
the middle period, when the artist had attained the mature age of forty:
the style, speaking historically, is that of the grave and severely
defined Florentine school as represented by the Brancacci chapel. The
fresco has been accounted by some the painter's masterpiece, and it is
pronounced by Count Raczynski as one of the few works of modern days
worthy of transmission to future ages.[2]

Overbeck, it is easy to believe, while painting on the very spot where
St. Francis was in ecstasy, led a life much to his liking. He dwelt
within the monastery, and his pure mind, open only to the good, was
blind to the dissolute ways of monks who became a scandal to the
district. When the fresco was half finished, the master received a visit
from his bosom friends Steinle and Führich, and the three strengthened
one another as they communed on religion and the arts. Overbeck is known
to have had leanings towards a convent life, and at one time, when
seriously thinking of taking the vow, he received from the Pope friendly
admonition that his true mission lay within his art, and that by
renouncing the world his usefulness would be lessened. It can scarcely,
however, be doubted that asceticism became so much the habit of his life
as to afflict his mental condition, and to impoverish his art. Some
critics indeed point to the early picture of _The Seven Years of Famine_
as the origin of a certain starved aspect in subsequent compositions.
Pharaoh's lean kine have been supposed to symbolise the painter, and the
spare fare within the cells of St. Francis served to confirm the
persuasion that flesh and blood, in art as in life, must be kept in
subjection. Nevertheless, I for one, when on the spot, could not but
revere the pictorial outcome; when first I made acquaintance with this
plenary revelation of the painter, I had been taking a walking-tour,
knapsack on back, through the Umbrian hills and valleys, the birth-land
of St. Francis; I had become acquainted with the wall and panel
paintings of Giotto, Gentile di Fabriano, Perugino, Giovanni Santi, and
the youthful Raphael; and while looking on this heavenly "Vision," I
could not but feel that Overbeck ranked among the holy company. Unlike
most modern painters, surely he had not to worship in the outer court of
the Gentiles.

Overbeck received repeated solicitations to return to Germany: he was
asked in 1821 by Cornelius to take the directorship of the Düsseldorf
Academy, and four years later he writes in reply to the further
persuasions of Wintergerst and Mosler. He urges his incapacity for the
duties: he had learnt painting, he says, in a way difficult to impart to
others; moreover, sculpture and architecture he did not understand at
all, and as for the business matters he was without faculty. Further
difficulties were the health of his wife and the welfare of his son:
"every information," he continues, "I receive from my native country
tells me of spiritual fermentations: the sanctuary, insufficiently
protected by the law, suffers under attacks, and a proud worldly spirit
raises its head and proclaims its wisdom. Can parents be blind to the
risks to which they expose their child, till now reared in the most
delightful simplicity of belief? Dearest friends, can you give us the
assurance that we shall be able to educate our son in the simple
Catholic faith which we have learnt to recognise as the most vital and
consoling." Overbeck, it need hardly be added, shrank from the dangers
and declined the duties.

But, at length, free from pressing and onerous commissions, he lent a
more willing ear to invitations from Germany. Cornelius in 1830 had come
to Rome from Munich, the better to complete certain cartoons; with him
were a daughter, also his wife, who had under charge Fräulein Emilie
Linder, a young lady of Basle, of some means and given to pictorial
pursuits. Overbeck, on the completion of his wall-painting at Assisi,
rejoined the brilliant art circle of the Roman capital, and from this
time dates the memorable friendship between the lady, then a Protestant,
and the great Catholic painter. After a winter pleasantly passed among
congenial spirits, the whole party in the early summer of 1831 set out
from Rome and reached Florence. Emilie Linder returned for a time to
Basle, while Overbeck, under the care of Cornelius, by way of the Tyrol
reached Munich. On the news of their approach in July, the local
artists, young and old, assembled at the gates, outposts had been
stationed along the road, and the townfolks gathered by thousands in the
streets: from afar the cheering was heard, and then group after group
raised the cry, "Overbeck!" "Cornelius!" The entry soon grew into a
triumphal march, and, protests notwithstanding, the horses were unyoked,
and a company of lusty youths drew the carriage to the dwelling of
Cornelius.

Twenty years had elapsed since Overbeck, an unknown youth, had quitted
his native land; he now returned with a world-wide reputation.
Cornelius, once the sharer of his trials, became the equal recipient of
the triumphs; he had just completed the grand series of frescoes for the
Glyptothek, and with him were brought the cartoons elaborated in Rome
for the wall-paintings in the new Ludwig Kirche. Overbeck, as the guest
of his old friend, passed happy weeks in Munich. The two painters
conferred closely together in the interests of Christian Art, and aided
each other in the arduous works soon to be carried out. The artists of
Bavaria signalised the visit of the apostle of Christian Painting by a
jubilee; they gave in honour of the illustrious stranger one of those
joyous and scenic fêtes for which Munich is famed. The locality chosen
was the Starnberger See, a lovely region of hill and lake lying in the
Bavarian highlands, bordering on the Ammergau, peopled by peasants with
sacred traditions since better known through "The Passion Play."
Overbeck writes gratefully of enjoyment and instruction received through
kind friends among the beauties of nature and of art.

The Roman recluse in his journey northwards had widely extended his
knowledge of nature. On leaving the Apennines he encountered the Alps,
and exchanged beauty for grandeur. His figures were often accompanied by
landscapes; but mountains exceeding in altitude five or six thousand
feet appalled his imagination; masses of such magnitude could not enter
the smaller sphere of his consciousness; hence his northern
peregrinations brought into his compositions no Alpine presences;
indeed, his habitual serenity and simplicity were disturbed by dramatic
stir or storm of the elements, and though his sympathies warmed under
novel experiences, his art failed to take a new departure.

I have often when in Munich regretted that Overbeck had no share in the
Bavarian manifestations of Christian Art. But that he, the head of the
religious revival, is left out was simply his own fault. Cornelius, in
1821, when as director reorganising the Academy, wrote to his friend,
asking assistance; King Ludwig also urged Overbeck to come. But the
timorous artist as usual hesitated; he gave at first assent, conditional
however on a delay of three years to complete works in hand; then he
pleaded the impossibility of taking any step whatsoever without the
sense of religious duty. The King naturally grew weary, and interpreted
the equivocal dealing as a denial. Cornelius again in 1833, when the new
Basilica of St. Boniface needed decoration, once more proposed that his
fellow-labourer in Rome should settle in Munich, but with no avail; the
King evidently had little cordiality for the artist, and so employed
others on the plea, not wholly tenable, that Overbeck was better in oil
than in fresco. Thus the large acreage of wall surfaces dedicated to
Christian Art in the churches of Munich and the Cathedral of Spires fell
into the hands of Cornelius, Hess, and Schraudolph. It is impossible not
to regret that this grand sphere was thus closed to the artist who of
all others had most of beauty to reveal. Yet the sensitive painter might
have encountered much to disturb his peace of mind. King Ludwig could
not assuredly be quite the patron for a spiritual and esoteric artist,
and, moreover, there was something too wholesale in the Munich way of
going on for a man of limited strength. Overbeck, as I can testify, was
about the last person to climb a giddy ladder or to endure a long day's
drudgery before an acreage of wall fifty feet above the ground. He
wisely did not overstep his bounds; he had not the wing of an eagle, and
preferred to keep as a dove, near to the nest.

Nevertheless, Munich is not without witness to the spirit of the mystic
and poetic painter. King Ludwig, himself at least a poetaster, hit upon
a felicitous comparison, oft since reiterated, when he designated
Overbeck the St. John and Cornelius the St. Paul in pictorial art. The
two artists, like the two apostles, had a common faith, though a diverse
calling, and their several works testify how greatly the one was
indebted to the other. Overbeck brought with him to Bavaria a drawing of
exceptional power, _Elias in the Chariot of Fire_ (1827), a composition
which reflects as indubitably the greatness of Cornelius as Raphael's
_Isaiah_ responds to the grandeur of Michelangelo. But this lofty strain
of inspiration proved transient, and Overbeck, as seen in Munich, truly
personates the apostle who leant on the Saviour's breast. The New
Pinakothek is fortunate in the possession of three pictures.[3] One is
the _Portrait of Vittoria Caldoni_, already enumerated among earliest
efforts; another is the _Holy Family_, illustrating these pages; the
composition recalls Raphael's Florentine manner. The third, _Italy and
Germany_, must be accounted exceptional because secular; the motive,
however, rises above common life into symbolism. Two maidens in tender
embrace are depicted seated in a landscape, the one blonde and homely,
personifying Germania; the other dark and ideal, as if Tasso inspired,
typical of Italia. The intention has given rise to interesting
speculation. The German girl leans forward in earnest entreaty, while
her Italian sister remains immobile and impenetrable. And herein some
have seen shadowed forth a divided mind between two nationalities.
Solicitations had come from Germany, yet, after moments of hesitation,
Overbeck held fast to the land of his adoption, and his resolve may not
inaptly find expression in "Italia," a figure which seems to say, "Vex
not my spirit; leave me to rest in this land of peace and of beauty."
But this composition is supposed to speak of yet wider experiences. The
painter had given much time to the writing of a romance descriptive or
symbolic of human life, wherein he embodied his own personal feelings
and aspirations. The two principal characters in this unpublished story
are said to be here depicted under the guise of "Italia and Germania."
The composition thus becomes somewhat autobiographic.

Munich is identified with a friendship between Overbeck and a lady,
which ranks among the most memorable of Platonic attachments. Fräulein
Emilie Linder we have already encountered in Rome, where an abiding
friendship was rooted, and the devoted lady, on separation, soon found
occasion to open a correspondence which was prolonged over a period of
thirty years. Overbeck was a persistent letter-writer; he wasted no time
on society, and so gained leisure to write epistles and publish essays.
And yet it cannot be said that, had he not been an artist, he would have
shone as the brightest of authors. On the contrary, as with the majority
of painters, he never acquired an adroitness of pen commensurate with
his mastery in the use of his pencil; and it is certain that if his
pictures had been without adorers, his prose would have remained without
readers. The great painter was destitute of literary style; his
sentences are cumbrous and confused; his pages grow wearisome by wordy
repetition. Doubtless his thoughts are pure and elevated, but, lacking
originality, they run into platitudes, and barely escape commonplace.
The prolonged correspondence with Emilie Linder[4] contracts the flavour
peculiar to polemics. Overbeck had grown into a "fanatic Catholic"; he
was ever casting out nets to catch converts; his tactics were enticing;
his own example proved persuasive. Moreover, about his mind and method
was something effusive, which won on the hearts of emotional women. At
all events, these letters brought over to the Roman Catholic Church the
lady and others. And so it naturally came to pass that the bonds of
union were drawn very close when the revered apostle and the devout
disciple reposed within the same sheepfold. These letters have a further
significance; they declare what indeed is otherwise well established,
that the Catholic faith served as the prime moving power in the life and
the art of Overbeck.

The painter brought to Munich ten or more drawings executed in Rome with
a view to his travelling expenses, and Emilie Linder lost no time in
making an offer for the set, to add to her private collection. The
artist, with suitable diffidence, hesitated, yet looked on the proposal
as an interposition of Providence, and then begged for the money at
once, to help him on his further journey into Germany. Though success
had delivered him from poverty, and commissions came in faster than he
could paint, yet at no time did he roll in wealth; spite of scrupulous
economy, he never much more than paid his way; and a few years later,
when, for Emilie Linder, engaged on _The Death of St. Joseph_,[5] he
gladly accepted beforehand the price by instalments. The correspondence
shows a tender conscience, with a humility not devoid of independence.
The art products were in fact of so high a quality that the painter
conferred a greater favour than any he could receive in return.

Overbeck left the hospitable roof of Cornelius in Munich at the end of
August, 1831, and reached Heidelberg, there to meet with an enthusiastic
reception from friends and admirers; there also, after a separation of
five-and-twenty years, he saw once more, and for the last time, his
elder brother from Lübeck. Close to Heidelberg, overhanging the banks of
the Necker, is Stift Neuburg, formerly a monastic establishment, but
then the picturesque residence of a family in warmest bonds of
friendship with the art brethren. At this lovely spot, I am told by the
present owner, "Overbeck stayed several days, and a seat in the garden
is still called after him 'Overbeck's Plätzchen.'" On this rustic bench
the painter was wont to sit meditatively amid scenery of surpassing
beauty; the quietude of nature and the converse of kindred minds were to
his heart's content. Within the old mansion, on the walls and in
portfolios, are the choicest examples of the artist's early and middle
periods; thus Stift Neuburg in its house and grounds remains sacred to
the painter's memory.[6]

From Heidelberg Overbeck travelled to Frankfort--a city soon to become a
focus of the wide-spreading revival. Here the apostle of sacred art made
the acquaintance of the poet Clemens Brentano, and fell among other
friends and adorers. Philip Veit, his fellow-worker in the Casa
Bartholdi and the Villa Massimo, had just been appointed Director of the
Städel Institute, where he executed one of the noblest of frescoes--_The
Introduction of the Arts into Germany through Christianity_. Likewise
among warm adherents was Johann Passavant, a painter who in Rome had
joined the brethren, a critic who made a name by the 'Life of Raphael.'
Overbeck was here esteemed "the greatest living artist," and some
expressed "the cherished thought, the earnest desire" that the painter
should be secured for Frankfort. But as this proved out of the question,
the promise was gladly accepted of the master-work since famous as _The
Triumph of Religion in the Arts_. Cologne next received a visit, and the
Cathedral choir having advanced towards completion, the assistance of
the Christian painter was naturally solicited: _The Assumption of the
Virgin_, now adorning a side chapel, counts among the memorable fruits
of the painter's timely visit to his native land. This northern journey
was extended as far as Düsseldorf, a sequestered town already growing
illustrious for its school of religious painting. Wilhelm Schadow,
co-partner in Roman labours, had here, as Director of the Academy,
gathered round him devoted scholars, and Overbeck greeted his old friend
as a missionary in the common cause. After receiving on all hands
respectful adulations which would have turned a vainer head, the
traveller bent his steps southwards, and reached Italy by way of
Strasburg and Switzerland. On reaching Rome, he writes on the 1st of
December to Cornelius in characteristic tone: "You will understand with
what lively joy I once more saw my beloved Rome; I therefore will not
conceal the painful impression which the distracted opinions and
doctrines in the Fatherland have left in my mind, but I feel rest in the
persuasion that, through the dispensation of Providence, my lot has been
cast in this Roman seclusion, not that I intend to lay my hands idly in
my lap, but, on the contrary, I shall endeavour to work with my utmost
ability, spurred on all the more by the thought that even here at a
distance I shall move in your circle." Assuredly as to professional
prospects the passage of the Alps had extended the artist's circuit: the
Italian works which chiefly mark the painter's first period had come to
an end; henceforth Overbeck's labours, though prosecuted within the
Roman studio, were for the good of Germany.

Overbeck, in September, 1833, witnessed an event memorable in the
history of art: he was present at the opening of Raphael's tomb in the
Pantheon, and a few days after he wrote to his friend Veit at Frankfort
a circumstantial account, as some relief to his overwhelming emotions.
The letter is here of interest as evidence of Overbeck's unshaken
allegiance to the great master; if called by others a pre-Raphaelite, he
remained at heart faithful to the painter from whom indeed he borrowed
largely. Unlike certain of our English artists and critics, he never
decried Raphael. He writes: "Know, then, I was present at the opening of
Raphael's grave, and have looked upon the true and incomparable master.
What a shudder came over me when the remains of the honoured painter
were laid open, thou canst better conceive than I can describe. May this
deep experience not be without good results for us: may the remembrance
of the honoured one make us more worthy inheritors of his spirit!"[7]

Overbeck about this time, in letters to Emilie Linder, begins to express
ultra views, to the prejudice of his art. He pleads that certain
Biblical drawings may have for her more worth because the religious
meaning dominates over the art skill. In like manner he writes
apologetically concerning _The Death of St. Joseph_. The picture, he
urges, embodies not so much a historic fact as an idea, the intent being
not to lead the spectator to the real, but to something beyond. The
purist painter then proceeds to express his invincible reluctance to
study the subject from the side of life; models he had carefully
avoided, because he feared that a single glance at nature would destroy
the whole conception. It is with sincere regret that I have to record so
pernicious a doctrine. Surely the artist's special function must always
be to find out the divine element in nature, and fatal is the day when
first he calls into question the essential oneness between Nature and
God. But Overbeck's peculiar phase of Catholicism marred as well as made
his art. Through the Church he entered a holy, heavenly sphere, and his
pictures verily stand forth as the revelation of his soul. But the
sublimest of doctrines sometimes prove to be utterly unpaintable, and
certainly the tenets to which Overbeck gave a super-sensuous turn, in
the end perplexed and clouded his art. Outraged nature took her revenge,
and the sequel shows that Overbeck so diverted his vision and narrowed
his pictorial range that his art fell short of the largeness of nature
and humanity.

Northern Germany claimed the illustrious painter as her son, and so
fitly came commissions from Cologne, Lübeck, and Hamburg. For the great
Hospital in this last commercial town was painted the large oil-picture,
_Christ's Agony in the Garden_. This impressive composition represents
the Saviour kneeling; the head is bowed in anguish, the hands are raised
in ecstasy; below, the three disciples lie asleep, and in the glory of
the upper sky amid rolling clouds appears as a vision the angel bearing
the cross. I paid a visit to Hamburg in order to judge of a work of
which I could find but slight mention. Its characteristics are just what
might have been anticipated. The drawing is studious, the expression
intense, the execution feeble; in short, the technique becomes wholly
subordinate to the intention. The conception has Giottesque simplicity:
the shade of night brings solemnity, and the longer I stood before the
canvas the more I became impressed with the quietude and fervour of the
scene.[8]

We find an epitome of Overbeck's mind and art in a lovely composition,
_Lo Sposalizio_. Count Raczynski had as far back as 1819 given a general
commission, and at first was proposed as a subject the _Sibyl_, for
which the drawing in sepia, dated 1821, now hangs in the Count's Gallery
in Berlin. The figure, pensive and poetic, resembles a mediæval Saint
rather than a Sibyl. The painter afterwards found a more congenial theme
in _The Marriage of the Virgin_. The treatment is wholly traditional,
the style austerely pre-Raphaelite; the only expletive in the way of an
idea comes with attendant angels, lyres in hand. The work was not
delivered till 1836, in the meanwhile the first fire had died out, and
nature was thrust into the distance. The technique had not improved, the
material clothing becomes subject to the mental conception, thus are
eschewed _chic_ of touch and surface texture. The colour is
indescribable: it pertains neither to earth nor to heaven, and yet it
has more of dull clay than of iridescent light. What a misfortune that
the gem-like lustre of the early Italians escaped this modern disciple!
A thoroughly characteristic letter accompanied the picture. Overbeck
having shut himself out from the world, seeks for his creations a like
seclusion. He writes to Raczynski: "As you are wishing to send my
picture to the public exhibition in Berlin, I cannot refrain from
expressing my anxiety. Paintings of this kind appear to me not fitted to
be seen by the motley multitude usually gathered together in
exhibitions. The general public are almost sure to measure wrongly works
like this, for as the eye is attracted to outward means and is engaged
on technical splendours, pictures in which these qualities are held in
subordination to higher aims cannot but sink into the shade. The
spectator is not in the mood to honour a spiritual subject which has
been thought out from a spiritual side. The place in which this picture
should be seen is a chapel, or some such peaceful spot removed from
disturbing surroundings."[9]

I now wish to direct the reader's attention to _The Triumph of Religion
in the Arts_, otherwise _The Magnificat of Art_, or _The Christian
Parnassus_, or the triumph of Mariolatry. This large and elaborate
composition embodied the artist's best thoughts for ten years in the
prime of life, from 1831 to 1840. Accompanying the work was a written
explanation, which comprises a confession of Overbeck's art faith.[10]
The Madonna, with the Infant in her arms, sits enthroned in the upper
half of the canvas, and around, in mid-heaven, are ranged prophets,
evangelists, and saints. On the earth below stand some sixty painters,
sculptors, and architects; the heads as far as possible are taken from
authentic portraits. In the midst is a fountain, the upper waters rising
into the sky, the lower falling into two basins beneath. The painter
explains his meaning as follows: "The fountain in the centre is the
emblem of the well of water springing up into eternal life, thus
denoting the heavenward direction of Christian Art as opposed to the
idea of the ancients, who represented the stream as flowing downwards
from Mount Parnassus. Every manifestation of art therefore is honoured
so far only as it looks towards heaven. The fountain descends into two
mirrors: the upper one reflects heaven, the lower receives earthly
objects; thus is indicated the twofold character of art, which, on the
one hand, in its spiritual essence comes with every good thought from
above, and which, on the other, is derived from the outward forms of
nature. This twofold sphere of art is signified by the position assigned
to the assembled artists in relation to the two mirrors of water."
Overbeck next proceeds to expound his pictorial judgments. He gives
Raphael a white robe as symbolic of universal genius, "for as white
light contains the seven prismatic colours, so does Raphael's art unite
all the qualities we gaze on with wonder." Michelangelo sits apart on a
fragment of antique sculpture, his back turned alike on the Fountain and
the Madonna. I once ventured to ask Overbeck in his studio for some
explanation of this harsh judgment; he calmly but firmly replied that he
thought the verdict according to the evidence. Still less mercy is shown
to the Venetians, and as for Correggio, he is stigmatised as utterly
lost. On the other hand, Fra Angelico, the Tuscan School, Dürer, and the
brothers Van Eyck receive due reverence. But it has fairly been
questioned whether the majority of the sixty or more artists here
immortalised would thank the painter for his pains. The reading given to
historic facts is narrow, partial, not to say perverted, and could
content only such ultra critics as Rio, Montalembert, and Pugin.

_The Triumph of Religion_[11] I have known for more than a quarter of a
century, and have heard much of its profundity, spiritualism, and
symbolism. But no critic will assign to the picture the first rank among
works of creative reason and imagination; the comparison has inevitably
been instituted with Raphael's _Disputa_, in the Vatican, to which it is
confessedly inferior. Historically, it finds a place sufficiently
honourable by the side of Francia and Pinturicchio. Its avowed merits
are considerable; its very scale and the vastness of the labour give
importance; the canvas extends to a breadth and height of about fifteen
feet. The composition, if not bold or masterly, is careful and
thoughtful, the drawing scholastic; the heads are wrought as biographic
studies, the draperies cast into balanced harmonies. The execution is
steady, without show or fling; the colour, as always, is the reverse of
alluring: Venetian splendours are eschewed in favour of pigments thin,
dull, and crude. Yet the technique has usual soundness; the materials
stand firm and unchanged. The picture has the advantage of a commanding
position in the handsome new gallery in Frankfort, and, notwithstanding
its defects and shortcomings, must be accounted as among the most
memorable achievements of the century.

Overbeck made _The Triumph of Religion_ a propaganda of his pictorial
faith, and wrote his explanatory text for the special benefit of young
painters. The document concludes with the following emphatic and
affectionate appeal: "And now, my dear young friend and brother artist,
so ardently striving to excel in the Fine Arts, I have placed a picture
before you in which you may wander as in a garden. Here you see all the
great masters: behold how the future lies spread before you, like the
bright distance in this picture, so that you may be encouraged thereby
in your noble task. Strive to approach the great masters with all the
powers of your mind, but know that you can only reach their eminence by
steadily keeping in view the goal which I have endeavoured in this
painting to place before you. Several of the artists here assembled may
serve as warnings to you: the Venetians went astray as soon as they made
colouring the principal object of attraction, and so by degrees they
sank in sensuality. The effeminate Correggio proceeded in this career at
a more rapid rate, until he had cast aside every restraint of modesty
and morality, and gave himself up to unbridled voluptuousness.[12]
Michael Angelo set up the antique as an object of idolatry, and Raphael
was tempted to taste the forbidden fruit, and so the sin of apostasy in
the fine arts became manifest. In after times, indeed, various attempts
have been made to elevate the arts; but as no remedy was applied to the
source of the evil, the result proved on the whole unsuccessful. This is
also the reason why none of the celebrated masters of late times have
been introduced into our painting.[13] In conclusion, you may
unhesitatingly adopt as a principle that the fine arts can alone be
beneficial to man when, like the wise virgins, they go out to meet the
bridegroom in humility and modesty, with their lamps burning and fed
with the faith and the fear of God: only as such daughters of heaven are
they worthy of your love."

Ten years of the painter's later period, reaching from 1843 to 1852,
were dedicated to the Life of Christ as recorded by the four
Evangelists. German artists of the modern time have revived the practice
of the old religious painters of composing Biblical series, and such a
narrative is technically termed a "cyclus." Overbeck evolved three such
consecutive compositions--"The Gospels" in forty cartoons, "The
Sacraments" in seven, and "The Stations" in fourteen. The large drawings
for "The Gospels" or "Evangelists"[14] I was accustomed to see from time
to time while in progress within the studio; none were ever carried out,
as the artist might have hoped, in oils, or as wall pictures or
tapestries, but all, in common with most of his drawings, have been
widely diffused by means of engraving.[15] Overbeck was specially
qualified by his habits of mind and literary tastes and antecedents thus
to write off his thoughts in outline; his drawings may be compared to
"thinking aloud," and one scene after another reads as consecutive
sonnets bearing on continuous themes. The events depicted as a matter of
course fall into accustomed routine; they almost of necessity begin with
_The Annunciation_ and end with _The Ascension_. Yet Overbeck, while
inspired was not enslaved by his predecessors; often are presented novel
and even bold conceptions, as in _The Massacre of the Innocents_ (1843)
and _Barabbas released and borne in Triumph_ (1849). Such designs prove
an intellect neither servile nor sterile. Certain other compositions are
marred by affectation and sentimentality, traits of morbid moods
increasing with years, and which contrast strangely with the healthiness
and robustness of the great old masters. Fitly have been chosen to
illustrate these pages _The Naming of St. John_ (1843), _Christ Healing
the Sick_ (1843), _Christ's Entry into Jerusalem_ (1849), _The
Entombment_ (1844), and _The Resurrection_ (1848). Two other
illustrations, _Christ in the Temple_ and Christ _falling under the
Cross_ show variations on the Gospel series. Overbeck may be compared to
certain fastidious writers who mature by endless emendations and
finishing touches; he loved to recur oft and again to favourite texts,
changing attitudes, adding or subtracting figures, episodes, or
accessories. His lifelong compositions are as a peopled world of the
elect and precious: many of the characters we claim as old
acquaintances; the figures come, go, and return again, changed, yet
without a break in personal identity. They move round a common centre;
Christ is their life; they are in soul and body Christian.

These "Gospels" have taken a permanent place in the world's Christian
Art. If not wholly worthy of so large and grand a theme, they yet
scarcely suffer from comparison with like efforts by other artists. They
have hardly less of unction and holiness than Fra Angelico's designs,
while undoubtedly they display profounder science and art. That they
have nothing in common with the Bible of Gustave Doré is much to their
praise; on the other hand, that they lack the inventive fertility and
the imaginative flight of the Bible of Julius Schnorr indicates that
they fall short of universality. These Gospels, it may also be said,
pertain not to the Church militant, but to the Church triumphant; not to
the world at large, but to a select company of believers. They teach the
passive virtues--patience, resignation, long-suffering, and so far
realise the painter's ideal of earth as the portal to heaven. Certain
spheres were beyond his ken. The marriage of Cana did not for him flow
with the wine of gladness; he had no fellowship with the nuptial banquet
as painted by Veronese. His pencil shunned the Song of Miriam and the
Dance of the Daughter of Herodias; it could not pass, like the pen of
England's epic poet, with a light fantastic touch from "Il Penseroso" to
"L'Allegro;" his walk was narrow as a convent cloister; his art was
attuned to the sound of the vesper bell.

Overbeck's modes of study and habits of work were like himself--secluded
and self-contained. His strength did not permit prolonged labour, and
his mind was easily put out of tune; yet by method and strict economy of
time he was able, as we have seen, to get through a very considerable
amount of work. Each day had its allotted task. He rose summer and
winter between five and six o'clock, and usually went to church; at
seven he took a simple breakfast, then entered his studio and worked on
till one. This was the hour for dinner, a frugal meal preceded by the
customary grace. After a little repose, action was resumed about
half-past two, and continued till four, or sometimes even to six. Then
came exercise, mostly a meditative walk; in early times, before the
habits of a recluse had grown confirmed, the painter enjoyed an
evening's stroll with choice spirits, such as Niebuhr and Bunsen, but in
later years he preferred his own communings, his thoughts turning upon
art or finding diversion only among the beauties of nature. Within the
house he became abstracted; he wandered about lost to outward
surroundings, and would brook no interruption. In the winter evenings,
at least in later life, he relaxed so far as to join in some table game;
but his hours were early, he supped at eight, then retired to his room
for meditation, and was always in bed by ten. General family prayers
were not the order of the household; the constant habit was individual
devotion in private. The Pope took a fatherly care over the pious
artist, and granted him privileges permitted only to the few. And
Overbeck was on his part strict and zealous in all Church functions, and
neglected no means of building up the Christian life. Each day in fact
was so nicely apportioned between religion and art, that the morning and
the evening worship blended indissolubly with the midday work.

The bodily and mental aspect of Overbeck is well known. I myself had the
privilege of first seeing the painter when in the Cenci Palace, as far
back as the year 1848. My journal describes a man impressive in
presence, tall and attenuated in body, worn by ill-health and suffering,
the face emaciated and tied round by a piece of black silk. The mind had
eaten into the flesh; the features were sorrow-laden. The voice sank
into whispers, the words were plaintive and sparse; noiselessly the
artist glided among easels bearing pictorial forms austere as his own
person, meekly he offered explanations of works which embodied his very
soul, timidly sought retreat and passed as a shadow by--the emblem of an
art given in answer to prayer and pertaining to two worlds.

The painter, as drawn or described by himself and others, presents an
interesting psychological study: no historic portrait reveals closer
correspondence between the inner and the outer man. Cornelius delineated
his friend at the age of twenty-three: the type is ascetic and æsthetic
after the pre-Raphaelite pattern affected by the Nazarites. Führich, one
of the fraternity, describes his first impressions: on entering the
studio he beheld a tall, spare figure, noble in head, the hair flowing
over smooth temples to the shoulders, the forehead reflective, the calm
eye "soul-full," the whole aspect that of "inner living." It is added,
"at once I felt a soul fulfilment." Yet another artist-disciple, Edwin
Speckter,[16] also leaves a graphic record penned in 1831 as follows: "A
melancholy and heart-moving impression has Overbeck made upon me: I
beheld a tall, spare man, with thin, light hair, shadowed by a black
cap, whose eyes looked forth sadly, as with an expression of unutterable
suffering. His mouth contracted at each word into a forced yet sweet
smile. He looked just as a timid prisoner, who dreads in every corner to
see a spy. Yet in all his speech and ways appeared wondrous humility,
modesty, and kindly geniality, which, however, did not attract, but in
a strange manner repelled. I hardly dared to open my mouth, and only
spoke softly and by way of inquiry. Freely to impart my mind as with
others was impossible. My breast felt oppressed, and truly I scarcely
knew what to say when he unceasingly begged pardon that he should dare
to show his works: he called them 'insignificant,' 'nothing,' esteemed
himself fortunate that people should choose to give commissions to so
unworthy an individual, only he pitied the patrons that they had not
fallen on a more capable man. And then when I asked if I might come
again, he replied, 'Good heavens! if I would give myself the trouble, he
should be only too delighted.' I could almost have laughed, but with
tears in my eyes."

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: For further particulars as to Overbeck's wife, "Nina," see
'Erinnerungen und Leben der Malerin Louise Seidler,' Berlin, Verlag von
Wilhelm Hertz, 1875. According to this authority the young lady was the
illegitimate daughter of a gentleman of aristocratic family in Vienna,
from whom she received a dowry. She had come to Rome in search of
health, and possessing talents, accomplishments and charms, and being
withal a "fanatic Catholic," she won the affections of the impressible
painter. "The young couple," we are told, passed "a soul-satisfying"
honeymoon, and took up their abode in the Villa Palombara, near the
Baths of Diocletian. In the private collection of Herr Bockenheimer,
Frankfort, I have found an exquisite drawing, wherein the artist is said
to have depicted himself, his wife, and two children.]

[Footnote 2: Mrs. Jameson, in 'The Legends of the Monastic Orders,'
illustrates the visions and ecstasies of St. Francis from the pictures
of Giotto and others down to Domenichino. Coming to our times, the only
work found worthy of such companionship is that of Overbeck. The modern
German does not suffer by comparison with the old Italian masters. The
fresco was finished 1830; shortly after, an earthquake visited the spot
and destroyed a large portion of the church, but _The Vision of St.
Francis_ remained intact. The cartoon for the picture is in the Library,
Lübeck, framed, hung, but badly seen. I examined and noted it October
1880. It is in chalk, on paper mounted on canvas; the form is lunette,
the base about 20 feet broad; the figures are life-size. The heads,
hands and draperies are thoroughly studied in a broad, large manner. The
work when exhibited in Munich in 1831, on the artist's visit to Germany,
obtained high commendation. The oil study made for the colour is now in
the Leipzig Museum: measurement, 2 feet 3 inches by 2 feet 7 inches. The
cartoon has been lithographed by Koch: the fresco itself is
photographed.]

[Footnote 3: Portrait of _Vittoria Caldoni_, oil, on canvas, nearly
life-size, about 3 feet by 2 feet. _Holy Family_, about 4 feet 6 inches
by 3 feet: oil, on rough Roman canvas, signed "F. O. 1825": better
colour than usual: in good condition, but, like many pictures in the New
Pinakothek, revived by the Pettenkofer process: the beautiful engraving
by Felsing has a sale quite unusual for Overbeck. "Italia und Germania,"
about 3 feet 5 inches by 2 feet 9 inches, oil, on canvas: manner hard
and dry: lithographed by F. Piloty.]

[Footnote 4: See 'Historisch-Politische Blätter für das Katholische
Deutschland,' before quoted.]

[Footnote 5: _The Death of St. Joseph_, oil, on canvas, 3 feet by 2 feet
3 inches, was at last completed 1836, and appeared two years later in
the Munich Exhibition: the price was less than 100_l._ A small drawing
for the picture was, with others in the possession of Emilie Linder,
lithographed for devotional purposes: the lady with characteristic
generosity sent the proceeds of publication to the painter. On her death
in 1867 her collection went by bequest to the Basle Museum, where are
conserved, besides _The Death of St. Joseph_, ten drawings in pencil.
Among the last are _God appearing to Elias on Mount Horeb_, _The Finding
of Moses_, _The Israelites gathering Manna_, _The Madonna and St. Joseph
worshipping the Infant Jesus_, _Christ found in the Temple_, and _The
Awakening of Jairus's Daughter_. Of the last I have met with two other
examples. The engraving, _Christ in the Temple_, illustrating this
volume, is from the drawing in this collection.]

[Footnote 6: The principal drawings at Stift Neuburg have been mentioned
in previous pages. I will now add from notes taken on the spot: Portrait
of Cornelius by Overbeck and a companion portrait on the same paper of
Overbeck by Cornelius. Pencil: 1 foot 4 inches by 1 foot 3 inches. This
joint handiwork, presented to their friend on the eve of his leaving
Rome for Germany, bears the following inscription: "In Remembrance of
our friend C. F. Schlosser, from F. Overbeck and J. P. Cornelius. Rome,
16 March, 1812." The latest drawing in the collection, date 1836,
represents Christ bearing the Lamb: the Saviour opens His mantle and
shows a flaming heart. This is one of the first signs of the painter's
ultimate tendency to exalt dogmas and legends at the expense of
essential truth and beauty. Some of the chief drawings at Stift Neuburg
have been published in photography by Bruckmann, Munich.]

[Footnote 7: Overbeck's letter on the opening of the tomb in the
Pantheon is published in Passavant's 'Life of Raphael.']

[Footnote 8: _Christ's Agony in the Garden_ is on canvas, 7 feet wide by
11 feet high: figures size of life: without signature or date: the
manner is that of the middle period: the year I believe to be between
1831 and 1835. The system of colour, though not without the depth and
solemnity of the early schools of Lombardy, is that peculiar to the
religious art of modern Germany: it is dull, heavy and opaque. I would
quote as an interesting proof of nature-study, still maintained at this
pronounced period, a foreground plant and flower exquisitely drawn and
affectionately painted. The picture is seen to utmost disadvantage: the
cold and poverty-stricken surroundings are those usually deemed
appropriate in Lutheran Germany.]

[Footnote 9: The present position of _The Marriage of the Virgin_ in the
Raczynski Gallery, Berlin, has just those "disturbing surroundings"
which the painter dreaded. It is crowded among discordant works, and is
hung so high that I had to ask for a ladder to examine its quality and
condition. The oil pigments remain sound save some small surface cracks.
The size is about 6 feet by 4 feet. The modest price paid by the
munificent patron, and for which he received the artist's grateful
acknowledgments, was somewhat under 100_l_. sterling. Surely Overbeck
did not paint for filthy lucre.]

[Footnote 10: See account of 'Religion glorified by the Fine Arts,'
written by the painter himself and translated by Mr. John Macray:
published by Ryman, Oxford; 2nd edition, 1850.]

[Footnote 11: The picture has been engraved by Amsler, and is also
photographed. The cartoon is in the Carlsruhe Gallery, framed and hung:
it measures about 12 feet wide by 14 feet high: it is in charcoal or
chalk, on squares of whity-brown paper mounted on canvas. This drawing
is remarkable for thoroughness in form and character; indeed, it is just
what a cartoon should be. Countless preliminary studies of separate
figures and draperies must have preceded it. Overbeck in a letter, 28th
December, 1839, to Emilie Linder mentions three cartoons or studies. One
large one being the above. A second smaller, 4 feet 8 inches square, in
sepia, on canvas. This I examined October, 1880, in the National
Gallery, Berlin: the execution in parts is poor. The work had been sent
for sale, but was not purchased. The third sketch is described by the
artist as different in proportions and composition. It is in black chalk
and pencil on red paper. The painter names £100 as the price: he
received £1300 for the picture.]

[Footnote 12: Surely Overbeck is unjust to the masterpieces of Correggio
in Parma and Dresden, including two Holy Families, _Il Giorno_ and _La
Notte_. He likewise must have forgotten Titian's religious pictures in
Venice and Vienna, _The Assumption_ and sundry Holy Families. The "young
artist" has to remember that a picture is different from a homily: that
art has to be valued for her own sake, that drawing, composition, light,
shade and colour are indispensable elements in every art work. Overbeck
shirks the stern truth that the first duty of a painter is to paint.]

[Footnote 13: It is difficult to remain tolerant of such intolerance.
Why does not Overbeck declare plainly that Ary Scheffer is excluded
because he was a Protestant? As spectators a place in the picture is
assigned to Cornelius, Veit, and to Overbeck himself, all Roman
Catholics, whilst Schnorr, as a Protestant, is deemed unworthy to
appear. It is interesting to observe that Overbeck's darling son is
introduced in the character of a young Englishman.]

[Footnote 14: The cartoons for the Gospels, originally made for an art
dealer in Prague, were afterwards acquired by the late Baron Lotzbeck of
Weihern, near Munich, and are now in the possession of the son, the
present Baron: they are framed and protected under glass.]

[Footnote 15: See 'L'Évangile Illustré: Quarante Compositions de
Fréderic Overbeck: gravées par les meilleurs Artistes de l'Allemagne:'
Schulgen, Düsseldorf and Paris. Overbeck had an aversion to the heavy
and mechanical schools of engraving; he objected to meaningless masses
of shadow and to the multiplication of lines inexpressive of form.
Accordingly these engravings from the Gospels, in common with other
plates from the master, possess merits the opposites to such defects.
Like the original drawings, they are chiefly dependent on outline, and
even their slightness is not without the advantage of suggestiveness.
Four illustrations here are facsimiles of the engravings.]

[Footnote 16: See 'Briefe eines deutschen Künstlers aus Italien, aus den
nachgelassenen Papieren von Edwin Speckter.' Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1846.
Also see 'Bunte Blätter, von A. W. Ambros.' Leipzig: Leuckart, 1872.]



                            CHAPTER IV.

            LATE WORKS--CONCLUSION--THE PAINTER AND HIS ART.


Overbeck, as we have seen, deliberately laid out his life for
tranquillity; but not sheltered, as Fra Angelico, in a cloister, his
serene mind was at times clouded by trouble. First came the death of his
son, then he lost a brother, and afterwards was bereaved of his wife.
All accounts tell that the darling son, Alfons Maria, inherited the rare
gifts of the father, and unhappily also was a sharer in like bodily
frailty. He had been reared with tenderest solicitude, in the hope that
he might carry on the good work. The profession chosen was that of
architecture, an art which the Christian painter felt to be of a "mystic
nature," being something "musical," and "the visible emblem of religious
enthusiasm." But the bright promise was soon darkened: the youth died in
the autumn of 1840, at the early age of eighteen. The father in
overwhelming sorrow recounts, in a letter to Emilie Linder, how he had
watched over the sick bed, and had snatched up a pencil by the quarter
of an hour to assuage his grief. The boy was dutiful, and filled with
filial love--he was so good that the people called him a saint. The
stricken parent turned to art as "a crutch to support his lameness, and
as a solace to his tears."

The picture of _The Entombment_, or rather _The Pietà_, in Lübeck, tells
of the mind's heavy burden. In 1837 an association had been formed, and
money subscribed among friends and admirers, who desired that the native
city should possess some work worthy of the painter's renown. In 1842,
on the completion of the first sketch and the cartoon, a letter arrived
in Lübeck, saying that the grief through which the artist had passed was
thrown into a composition that expressed the uttermost anguish of the
soul. And again, in 1846, on the completion of the work, the Christian
man writes, praying that this "lamentation over the death of the Son of
God may arouse in the spectator true faith and repentance. May this
painting, begun in tears for my own and only son, and finished in grief
for the loss of my dear brother, draw tears from the eyes of Him who
shed not only tears, but blood, in order that His death might be our
life. Such aim have I always in my art, without which it would seem
idle, indeed blasphemous."

_The Pietà_[1] was exhibited in Rome, and friendly criticisms were
followed by final touches, with the filial intent to make a worthy
offering to the parental city. In March, 1846, Overbeck announces, in
the most modest terms, that the labour of love had at length been
dispatched to Lübeck, and, much to his joy, a quiet side chapel of the
choir of the Marien Kirche was chosen for its resting-place. The
impression on entering this secluded spot, shut in by a locked gate, is
almost startling; the eye gazes, as it were, on the actual scene: the
figures are life-size; the pictorial style is, perhaps, all the more
persuasive because it belongs to a remote time--nothing modern breaks
the spell of sacred associations. The spectator is transported to a
sphere super-mundane, and altogether religious. The dead Christ, well
modelled and a fine piece of flesh painting, lies stretched on the
ground in a white winding-sheet, and, as sometimes with the old
painters, the body seems not dead but sleeping, as if expectant of
resurrection. The composition is strictly traditional, indeed the
_Pietà_ of Perugino in the Pitti Palace has been implicitly followed:
around are the holy women weeping, with disciples and Nicodemus and
Joseph of Arimathæa. Every head, hand, and drapery, are thoroughly
studied. Dark rocks, lofty cypresses, and distant hills, make up a
landscape which adds solemnity and depth of colour. Within a few
minutes' walk of the Marien Kirche and this _Pietà_ still remains
Memling's masterpiece, which, as already related, had deeply impressed
the youthful painter while yet in the Lübeck home, but allegiance had
been long, we know, transferred from old German to Italian art, and
accordingly the style adopted recalls well-remembered compositions by
Francia, Fra Bartolommeo, and Perugino. Not a single new motive
intrudes; in fact, Overbeck no more desired a new art than a new
religion; for him the old remained unchangeably true,--sacred characters
were handed down immutably as by apostolic succession; he would
rearrange an attitude, but feared to lose personal identity; he desired
that this _Pietà_ should awaken such holy associations as environ old
pictures.

Overbeck received a commission from a Yorkshire squire, Mr. Rhodes, to
paint an altar-piece for the Protestant church of St. Thomas, in Leeds,
recently built from the design of Mr. Butterfield. Naturally the
Incredulity of the Apostle was chosen as the subject, and the picture[2]
reached completion in 1851. The composition is in no way out of keeping
with the Anglican Church; it is without taint of Romanism; but we are
told by Ernst Förster, the Munich critic,[3] that "people were not well
pleased with the work," at all events it never reached its destined
place. Mr. Rhodes had brought the picture to England from Overbeck's
studio, and being for disposal, it was offered to Mr. Beresford Hope,
who gladly became the owner, at the price of 300_l_., the modest sum
asked by the artist. The scene is thrown upon canvas with the painter's
habitual simplicity, brevity, and breadth. Christ in commanding, yet
benignant, attitude, with arm uplifted, utters the words: "Reach hither
thy hand and thrust it into my side, and be not faithless, but
believing." The Apostle reverently approaches. Beyond stretches a
distant landscape with a mountain-height that might be mistaken for the
crested summit of Soracte. The lines of composition flow symmetrically,
the sentiment has quiet dignity, with that sense of the divine presence
which seldom fails the painter. The picture hangs in the drawing-room of
Mr. Hope's town-house, and, though painted for a church, conforms to
domestic uses, not being "too bright or good for human nature's daily
food." The personation of the Saviour when once seen will not be
forgotten; the figure, indeed, was cherished by the artist, for the
motive with slight variation is repeated in _The Vocation of the
Apostles James and John_ (_see_ Illustration), and again in _The
Sacrament of Marriage_. Overbeck had none of the modern unrest which
seeks novelty for its own sake; as a Christian artist, his growth was
that of grace; and, if tested here and elsewhere by the worthiness of
his conception of the God-Man, no painter attained a more heavenly
ideal. It is hard to realise on earth a more perfect divinity than seen
in the design _Feed my Sheep_. _The Incredulity of St. Thomas_ has been
exhibited in England twice; first in 1853, in the Royal Academy, where,
I remember, it was honoured with a conspicuous place in the large room;
afterwards, in 1857, it was seen in the Manchester Art Treasures. As far
as I know, it is the only large and important work of the master
submitted to the English public.

Overbeck, thirteen years after the death of his son, was in 1853 bereft
of his wife, who had been his companion and caretaker for more than
thirty years. She died suddenly, yet, as her husband thankfully records,
with all the consolations the soul could desire. She had in the morning
been to church and taken the sacrament; she was then seized with
difficulty of breathing, but, on reaching home, revived, and raised her
voice to the praise and glory of God; after, she grew worse, desired to
see the priest, received extreme unction, and so died.

The good painter, when the help-mate of his life was taken away, felt
utterly desolate and disabled. He had never been accustomed to look
after the house; some thirty poor families are said to have been
dependent on his bounty; but as for himself he took little thought, and
all he desired was to be saved from mundane cares. In Rome there
happened to be a certain family of Hoffmanns, who, like the painter, had
forsaken Protestantism for Catholicism. They were endowed with the
worldly faculties in which the Christian artist was wanting, and so a
close relationship had conveniently grown up. Overbeck, on the death of
his wife, being absolutely incapable of getting on alone, arranged to
live with this family; moreover, he adopted Madame Hoffmann, a lady of
forty, as his daughter, and the adoption included the husband and the
children. They seem to have made him comfortable, and letters exist
which give expression to his gratitude. They, on their side, reaped
their reward, inasmuch as on the death of the good artist they came into
the possession of the contents of his studio, his papers, and
correspondence, moneys, and all other properties. After the aforesaid
family arrangement, the blood relations found little favour, and all who
bore the name of Overbeck were cut off without a shilling.

Earthly trouble did but turn the painter's gaze heavenwards, and his
art, which in time of trial came as consolation, grew all the more
spiritual as it passed through waters of affliction. Few painters, even
in the good old days, obtained so sympathetic a public. Belief in a
mission begat like faith in others, and so solicitations came for
drawings and pictures far in excess of available time and strength.
Certain commissions could not be entertained, secular subjects had been
long eschewed, religion and the Church were alone accounted worthy of
service. Therefore, in genial mood, was the great picture for Cologne
Cathedral undertaken and carried out. The work occupied no less than
nine years; the cartoon was already in course of preparation in 1846,
and the picture reached completion in 1855. But, as with other
engagements, the negotiations and preliminary correspondence extended
over a longer period. Thus, as far back as 23rd August, 1829, Overbeck,
while working on the Assisi fresco, writes from Santa Maria degli Angeli
to his friend Mosler, stating that the Düsseldorf Kunst-Verein wish for
some picture; but prior engagements stand in the way: he foresees that
on the return to Rome he will find his studio crowded with works begun,
but still unfinished, besides sketches of all sorts and sizes for
pictures not even commenced. He therefore asks for delay, and ends with
apologies for not writing more on the parental plea that "though it is
Sunday, I have long given my promise to my boy Alfons, whose tenth
birthday is to-day, that he shall have a ride on a donkey, and I am all
the more obliged to keep my word because my fresco work here compels me
for the moment to neglect him. We are all, thank God, very well, and
enjoy a thousand blessings in this abode of Paradise." Three months
later he writes under mistaken impressions as to the character of the
commission; he wishes to know the architectural style of the church, and
hopes it may be Gothic; he desires accurate measurements, because the
picture must appear to belong to its destined place, and then ends in
the following characteristic terms: "I repeat once more that the
commission fills me with utmost pleasure, but to you I must confide my
great anxiety, that I fear this picture is destined for a Protestant
church, as I hear it is to be for some newly-built church. Should this,
indeed, be the case, then pray try to give the whole thing another
direction, as such a commission would not suit me at all, and to refuse
it would be very disagreeable to me."

Overbeck's visit to Cologne, in 1831, naturally led to further
conferences concerning the picture for the Cathedral. The proposal, at
first, was that a triptych on a gold ground, in a Gothic frame, should
be painted for the high altar. Drawings were prepared, the general
scheme was approved by Cornelius, and the Archbishop gave his assent.
But objections having been raised on historic or archæologic grounds,
the pictorial reredos was abandoned in favour of the present stone altar
table. The artist felt deeply disappointed, and craved the prayers of
his friend Steinle, who was engaged on the decoration of the choir.
Fortunately, the services of Overbeck were only transferred from the
high altar to the Madonna chapel, renovated to receive _The Assumption_
commissioned to be painted. The cartoon was prepared and approved, and
while engaged on the work the artist expressed himself supremely happy;
he had no higher ambition than to be found worthy of a place in the
great Cathedral.

_The Assumption of the Madonna_[4] is suited to its surroundings; it is
in keeping with the Gothic structure and decorations, and in
companionship with old triptychs and other works which carry the mind
back to remote ages. The composition stands forth as a vision of the
imagination; from the darkness of the grave into the light of the upper
sky rises the Queen of Heaven, borne upwards on angels' wings; midway
sustained by clouds are the adoring host, comprising Adam, Eve, Abraham,
and King David; on the ground below are seen, in miniature, the
disciples around the empty tomb. The whole conception is in perfect
accord with the rites and ceremonies of the Church; while looking at the
picture and listening to the voices in the choir, the harmonies between
form and sound seem fitly attuned.

Overbeck, on the completion of the Cologne picture, revisited Germany
for the second and last time. On the 20th July, 1855, he left Rome,
proceeded to Florence, thence by way of Switzerland reached Frankfort,
and extended his journey as far as Düsseldorf. In Cologne he stayed some
weeks, and a festival, with usual laudatory speeches, was given in his
honour. I happened to encounter the painter during his sojourn; I could
hardly believe my eyes when I discovered the venerable artist gazing
with accustomed placidity at Rubens's brutal representation of _The
Crucifixion of St. Peter_, head downwards. With reverence I approached
the great master, and received a kindly shake of the hand. Overbeck on
the return-journey passed a quiet month at Mayence; he also once more
saw his old friends at Stift Neuburg, near Heidelberg. In Frankfort many
sympathetic hours were spent with his attached companion Steinle, whose
elevated works proved a renewed delight, and whose happy family circle
recalled his own joys and losses. The town of Spires also received a
visit, the inducement being Schraudolph's extensive frescoes, then in
progress within the Cathedral. Posterity has reason to lament that these
important works were not entrusted to the chief of Christian painters.
Some further weeks passed pleasantly among congenial minds in Munich,
but friends were grieved to mark growing infirmities. Overbeck had
reached the age of sixty-six, and Emilie Linder writes sorrowfully, that
he was the only person over whose death she could rejoice, because all
pertaining to the body had become a painful burden. Even the
affectionate demonstrations of his countrymen were too much for him, and
so gladly he turned his steps homewards. Yet not without lingering
regrets did he journey southwards, and on reaching the summit of the
Brenner he writes: "I turned round once more and gave, through the
streams flowing northwards, a last greeting to my German land." After
four months' absence, home comforts brought rest to his troubled mind.

Overbeck, after the death of his wife in 1853, left the Cenci Palace and
went to dwell in the more quiet region of the Esquiline Hill, near the
church of Santa Maria Maggiore. Later on he removed to the house in
which he died, belonging to a convent, in the Via Porta Pia on the
Quirinal Hill, near to the little church of San Bernardo, where he
worshipped and lies buried. I remember the sequestered dwelling on the
Esquiline, lying away from the road in one of those Italian wildernesses
called a garden or a vineyard. The surroundings were inspiring; the eye
wandered among churches and ruins, and beyond stretched the Roman
Campagna, spanned by aqueducts and bounded by the Alban Hills, with
Rocca di Papa, the painter's country retreat. The studio, which on
Sundays continued to be crowded with strangers from all countries, had
little in common with the ordinary run of painting rooms. Showy
sketches, picturesque costumes, gay carpets and draperies, which
commonly make a fashionable lounge, were wholly wanting. Like the studio
of Steinle in Frankfort, all was in keeping with an art not dependent on
outward materials, but reliant on inward thought. Around were ranged
compositions embodying ideas, cartoons and drawings in no way
decorative, but simple and austere studies of form in light and shade,
or slightly tinted. At this period were thus evolved the pictorial
series of the _Via Crucis_ and _The Seven Sacraments_. Turning from
these creations to the painter himself, the visitor might be tempted to
indulge in psychological speculations touching the processes whereby the
spirit of the man passed into objective shape. More and more the old and
solitary master withdrew his affections from earthly concerns, he
approached the close of life as the sun which sets to rise on a new day,
and his art breathed the atmosphere of those pure regions where his
beloved ones were at rest.

In the summer time was usually sought some country abode, not for
remission of labour, but for refreshment through change of scene amid
the beauties of nature. Overbeck, in 1856, was full of work, and in the
autumn he journeyed to Perugia, and took as his travelling companions
the small drawings of the _Via Crucis_. There, in the cradle of Umbrian
art, in the presence of Perugino and Raphael, he carried out the scenes
of _The Passion_. In the hill country of Perugia his thoughts turned to
the hills round about Jerusalem, olive gardens spoke of the Garden of
Gethsemane, a land lovely, yet sad, told of Him who trod the Via
Dolorosa. The painter divided the day between the practice of his art,
Church functions, and social intercourse; he revisited the scenes of his
labours at Assisi, and rejoiced the German Sisterhood of St. Francis by
a visit. The next year the picturesque district of Ariccia was chosen
for summer sojourn, with the advantage of Cornelius within the distance
of a walk. The following autumn the two old friends revisited the spot.
Here the water-colour drawings of the _Via Crucis_, or _The Stations_,
were with earnest solicitude brought to completion.

_The Stations_ in "the history of our Lord" have been accustomed to
comprise Christ's last sufferings, and in their symbolic meaning
"represent the way to Calvary through which the believer is typically
supposed to enter into the inner and holier part of the Church." Such
compositions are almost indispensable to every Roman Catholic place of
worship, however humble; therefore Overbeck, desiring that his art
should at all seasons furnish aids to devotion, designed these fourteen
stations on the Via Dolorosa. According to precedent, the series begins
with _Jesus Condemned_, and ends with _The Entombment_. The compositions
were elaborated in two forms, the one as cartoons, the other as
water-colour drawings.[5] The treatment is, of course, traditional, and
the general style does but suggest the line of criticism with which the
reader must by this time be familiar; more than ever we here encounter
sermons for the edification of the faithful rather than works appealing
to the artist. The notes which a few years since I made before the
drawings in the Vatican read somewhat severe, yet I ought hardly to
withhold the impressions left on the mind. Utmost devotion and sincerity
will be taken for granted, but I found that the excessive striving after
religious feeling degenerated into morbid affectation and spiritual
spasm, that sentiment passed into sentimentality, and that simplicity
scarcely escaped childishness. Throughout became painfully apparent the
lack of physical sinew and dramatic force; the characters, not being
modelled on the life, wanted truth to nature; they were afflicted with a
bodily frailty and mental infirmity wholly unequal to the tragic
situation. These shortcomings in works of noblest motive may be ascribed
to two causes: first, advancing age, with increasing loss of power;
secondly, the confirmed habit of slighting art and ignoring nature in
order to magnify some favourite dogma. Thus the divine painter in late
years missed his aim and marred his work.

These reflections receive confirmation in _The Seven_ _Sacraments_,
compositions which are triumphs of faith at the expense of art. The
painter, however, in fairness, must be allowed to speak for himself. "I
must," he writes, "first set forth what my conception of art is. Art to
me is as the harp of David, whereupon I would desire that Psalms should
at all times be sounded to the praise of the Lord. For when earth and
sea and everything that therein is, when Heaven and all the powers of
Heaven unite in extolling their Creator, how can man fail to join with
every faculty and gift his Maker has endowed him with in this universal
hymn of thanksgiving? And especially how can one of the noblest
attributes he possesses--the creative talent revealed in art--fail to
acknowledge that its highest glory and noblest end consist in offering
in art's own peculiar language Psalms and Songs of Praise to the Lord?
So precisely as Psalms of Praise would I wish to be accepted my seven
representations of the Sacraments, which, as so many fountains of grace,
the Church causes abundantly and ceaselessly to flow. These mercies of
God are the subjects of my seven pictures. As regards their style and
execution, they may be compared to tapestries after the manner of the
Arazzi of Raphael, such as it is customary to display in Italy on feast
days for the adornment of churches, and serving for the instruction of
the people in a language all can understand. Similar tapestries might,
in a more favourable time than the present, have been wrought from these
representations, but they appear now only as designs preparatory to
their possible completion some day in fresco or tempera."[6]

Biblical history received ample exposition in numerous accessory
compositions. Each of _The Seven Sacraments_ was surrounded by a
predella, a frieze, and two side borders. Some of these long spaces
dilated into several themes, and thus the total number of subsidiary
subjects falls little short of forty. The foliated and floral ornament
in style is not Raphaelesque, but more allied to early Gothic; the
manner is graceful but feeble. The scheme embodies types in the Old
Testament with their fulfilment in the New; both conjoined are brought
to bear on the teachings of the Church concerning the Sacraments. Some
of the analogies may appear, at least to outsiders, rather fanciful and
far-fetched. Yet, the mystic meanings thrown around the singularly
lovely composition of _Matrimony_ satisfy at least the poetic sense. The
artist explains how in the frieze is seen the union of Christ with the
Church--the heavenly architype of marriage--celebrated by a choir of
angels. The predella presents a symbol from the Old Testament in Tobias,
who, under divine guidance, obtains a companion for life. One
side-border exemplifies the first institution of matrimony in Paradise;
angels above, in embrace, are scattering flowers. On the opposite side
an angel showers down thorns, and on the ground beneath lies the dead
Saviour, signifying that marriage through suffering obtains its
consecration. The painter ends with the closing prayer that "these seven
Psalms which I have sounded on my harp may exhibit the teaching of the
Church in its beauty and sublimity, and thus do honour to God, to whom
alone are due glory and praise in time and in eternity. Amen."

Neither _The Seven Sacraments_ as works of art, nor the printed notes
thereto as treatises in theology, have been accepted by the world
favourably. Even within the Roman Catholic Church they are deemed rather
ultra; unfortunately the painter could not see when and where his art
became an outrage on the common sense of mankind. His treatment of _Holy
Communion_ in these _Sacraments_, as well as in sundry other designs, is
an instance of the way in which he pushed full far his sacerdotalism. He
habitually departs from the treatment sanctioned by the great masters,
from Giotto to Leonardo da Vinci; in place of a long table whereat all
are seated is a small altar, before which the Apostles kneel; in lieu of
a supper, the cloth is laid with only a plate and chalice, and instead
of the breaking of bread among the disciples, Christ stands apart
elevating a wafer. Now, all religious controversy aside, most minds will
feel that, by thus substituting a fiction for a recorded fact, the
subject is spoilt in point of art. And herein I cannot but recall a
saying of Coleridge to the effect that he who begins by loving his Creed
more than Christianity will end "by loving his Church more than
truth."[7]

Between the Christian artist and the head of the Church grew, as might
be expected, a bond of mutual respect and attachment. Overbeck and Pius
IX. had much in common; they were as brothers in affliction; the age was
unbelieving; they had fallen upon evil days; and each was sustained
alike by unshaken faith in the Church. Concerning _The Stations_, the
drawings of which are in the private rooms of the Vatican, the Pope
showed the liveliest interest, and wrote a letter to the artist full of
apostolic benedictions. He had also evinced his friendly regard by
giving sittings for his portrait. Afterwards, in 1857, came the
commission to paint, for the Quirinal Palace, the large tempera picture
representing Christ miraculously escaping from the Jews, who, according
to the Gospel of St. Luke, had "thrust him out of the city, and had led
him to the brow of the hill whereon the city was built, that they might
cast him down headlong." This astounding composition is the one step
from the sublime to the ridiculous; it represents Christ with the right
foot on the edge of a precipice, the left in the air on the heads of
small angels: it was intended to symbolise the Pope's escape from Rome,
and his subsequent return to the city; and further it expressly
signified the triumph of the spiritual over the temporal power.[8] While
the large and important work was in progress, Pius IX. paid a visit to
the painter in his studio, an event to the honour of modern art
comparable to the old stories touching Francis I. with Leonardo da Vinci
and Philip IV. in the painting-room of Velazquez. This abortive miracle
on canvas left on my mind, when seen in the studio, a very painful
impression, and sound critics--Zahn and others--pronounce the subject as
unpaintable, and the work most unfortunate. Overbeck had not the power
possessed by the old masters of carrying the imagination into the age of
miracle.

I have been at some pains to make the account here given of the
painter's works exhaustive. My opportunities of observation have been
favourable, and yet, especially as no complete biography of the artist
has hitherto been published, some minor works may have escaped my
notice. Here, in conclusion, may fitly come a few additions. _The
Raising of Lazarus_, the exquisite drawing of which, now in the
Düsseldorf Academy, has already received notice, was, in 1822, painted
in oils. _The Death of St. Joseph_, before mentioned, was, in 1838,
reproduced for the private chapel of the newly created Bishop of
Algiers. Also worthy of mention are cartoons of _The Twelve Apostles_
and of _The Four Evangelists_, for the Torlonia chapel at Castel
Gondolfo; a design, _Christ teaching the Lord's Prayer_, for a window in
the church of St. Katherine, Hamburg; sketches, including _The
Coronation of the Virgin_, for a cathedral in Mexico; likewise drawings
of the _Virtues_, also _Moses and the Daughters of Jethro_, the last
engraved by Gruner, and then in England, belonging to Lord Hatfield.
Also _The Vocation of St. John and St. James_, a pencil drawing in the
possession of Baron Lotzbeck, Schloss Weihern, near Munich. This
beautiful design has been chosen as one of the illustrations to this
volume. Few masters have been so largely engraved as Overbeck; scarcely
a picture or drawing of import exists that has not become thus widely
diffused. By the artist's own hand are reproduced, on copper, _St.
Philip Neri_, and a _Pilgrim_. In France were published the "Book of
Hours," and "The Imitation of Christ," severally illustrated from
designs by Overbeck. A pictorial art, chiefly reliant on form, and
expressly intended for the teaching and saving of man, was fitly thus
multiplied and disseminated.

Numerous portraits of Overbeck, by himself and friends, give a
retrospective view of his character. Probably the earliest is a pencil
drawing in the Vienna Academy by the Viennese painter, Johann Scheffer
von Leonhardshoff; the date must be prior to 1810, and the age somewhere
about twenty. The head is remarkable, almost abnormal; the outlook on
the world is inquiring, querulous, and combative; the penetrative eyes
seem in search after undiscovered truth; the pursed-up mouth is prepared
for protest; the attenuated nose and contracted nostril betray austerity
and acerbity; the whole aspect is that of nervous irritability. The
spirit is still in unrest, having sought in vain for the ideal; and
unsatisfied yearnings already settle into moody sentiment and
melancholy. In these traits are clearly legible the painful perplexities
and the severe conflicts of the painter's first period. And like mental
states and bodily conditions are carried into the pencil likeness
already mentioned, taken in Rome by Cornelius some three years later:
for the moment the mind seems masked by a phlegmatic mass of German
clay; whatever might be light-giving in the inward man appears clouded.
This, as we have seen, was for the young painter a time of doubt and
difficulty, and the face remains as yet unillumined. The next known
portraits come at a long interval, and show marked changes, which tell
of deep and not wholly blissful experiences. In 1837, Carl Küchler, who
made a series of portraits of German painters living in Rome, took and
engraved the likeness of Overbeck at the age of forty-eight. The head is
most striking and impressive; the coronal regions, the reputed abode of
the moral and religious faculties, rise in full development; the frontal
lobes of the intellect, with the adjacent territories of the
imagination, bespeak the philosopher and the poet, while the scant
circuit of the posterior organs gives slight sign of animal passion. The
mien is that of a mediæval saint--austere, devout; the eyes steadfastly
gaze as on hidden mysteries, yet shine with spiritual radiance; the
brow, temple, and cheek are those of the child, yet thinker; all the
features have settled into meditative repose, gently shaded by
melancholy. Overbeck, at this time in close converse with Heaven, had
given himself unreservedly to Christian Art; hence this supremely ideal
head. The portrait, contributed to the autograph collection of artists'
heads in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, pleased neither the painter nor
any one else, yet it was carried out on the favourite doctrine of
uniting the inward with the outward man. The style is hard and dry, the
character that of starved asceticism; the expression is Jesuitical, and
actual traits are so exaggerated as barely to escape caricature. The
artist was painted by Carl Hoffmann, also, it is said, by Genelli and
Ernst Deger. The portraits in late life, whilst preserving personal
identity, betray somewhat painfully the inroads of age and ill health.
Rudolf Lehmann made a faithful study in 1853; Adolf Grass, an inmate in
the house, painted in oils a portrait in 1865; and Professor Bendemann,
in 1867, prevailed upon the diffident old man to give a sitting. Two
years later death entered the house, and Friedrich Geselschap, a friend
and artist from Düsseldorf, came a few hours after the eyes were closed,
and made a full-size chalk drawing of the head as it peacefully lay on
the pillow. This faithful transcript, now on the table before me,
scarcely sustains the statement of some writers, that the countenance
after death assumed a glorified aspect; but, whether living or dying,
peace, though not void of pain, is the pervading expression.

Overbeck, after the goodly habit of the old masters, was fond of
introducing himself as a spectator in the sacred scenes he depicted, and
thus the above list of portraits is considerably extended. The painter
appears personally in _Christ's Entry into Jerusalem_; also, in company
with his friends Cornelius and Veit, he joins the general assembly of
artists in _The Triumph of Religion_. Again, in _The Gospels_ the devout
painter is present at the Crucifixion, bent on his knees, the hands
clasped, his eyes gazing on Christ upon the Cross. Overbeck was not thus
the egotist or a man craving for glory, but merely the humblest of
servants seeking some inconspicuous place among the followers of Christ,
and desiring to be numbered with God's elect.

I have endeavoured, though perhaps very imperfectly, to lay before the
reader a picture of Overbeck as the artist and the man, and now little
remains save a few general conclusions. I have anxiously tried to
ascertain the painter's mode of work, and the successive steps by which
he matured his compositions. This inquiry has proved all the more
difficult, because drawings in their early stages were persistently kept
out of view. The artist had two studios, the one strictly private for
quiet incubation apart; the other public, wherein only finished products
were shown. The question is, how consummate designs such as _The
Gospels_ were elaborated. I find that Overbeck first revolved a subject
in his thoughts until he had formed a distinct mental conception; this
inward vision he would sometimes for months carry about with him, within
the house and in his walks abroad. At last, when it had taken shape, he
sketched out the idea with lead pencil on a small piece of paper; and,
just in proportion as the first process had been tentative and slow, so
was the final act swift and certain. In these supreme moments he had the
power of throwing off his innermost thoughts without aids from the outer
world: the lines flowed from his pencil rapidly when he had made up his
mind what to do, and the forms once set down were seldom changed. The
facility increased rather than lessened with years; thus we read, "At
the age of seventy-two I create with undiminished freshness and
pleasure." As soon as the first small sketch was complete, the usual
method was followed of squaring out the surface with lines, in order to
reproduce in charcoal, chalk, or sepia the design on the full scale
required--often the size of life. For the important figures, for the
heads, hands, and draperies, studies from the life were diligently made.
Such drawings and cartoons have been and are greatly prized by
connoisseurs; for example, _The Seven Years of Famine_ was acquired by
Sir Thomas Lawrence for his collection. The reader will understand how
difficult it was for the painter to find assistants who could help in
this directly personal work, in this concentration of individual
thought; hence the prolonged time needed, extending, as we have seen, to
periods of five or ten years. Separate studies of colour were also
sometimes, if not always, made. The ultimate stage of painting upon
canvas or wall was comparatively a mechanical process.

Furthermore, we have to consider and make allowance for certain
technical notions of Overbeck and his school. The opinion upheld was
that the idea or mental conception constituted the chief value of any
art work, that outline or form was the direct language or vehicle of
such idea, and that colour, light, shade, surface-texture, or realism,
were subordinate, if not derogatory, elements. Thus it is that the works
of the master cannot be judged by ordinary standards: hence likewise the
drawings and cartoons are superior to the pictures.

Especially does Overbeck's colour stand in need of explanation or
apology. In the first place we have to take into account how far the
artist was bound to tradition; we have, for instance, to bear in mind
that in painting _The Assumption_, he was enjoined by the Church to
clothe the Madonna in white. Then comes the whole question of symbolism,
or the inherent or accepted relation between colour and thought and
feeling. Now, I think it probable that Overbeck sacrificed harmonies
pleasing to the eye for the sake of arrangements that might inculcate
doctrines or impress emotions. Certain it is that he looked on colour as
something carnal: the example of the Venetian painters warned him
against passionate excess, and so as a religious artist he felt it a
duty to use sombre pigments, tertiary tints, and low, shadowy tones.
Thus much needs explanation, yet it must always be cause for regret that
Overbeck did not take for examples such masters of colour as Fra
Angelico and Perugino, and thus gain the heavenly radiance begotten of
religion.

The art of Overbeck will live by its merits despite its defects; it is
vital and enduring in the three mental elements of thought, form, and
composition. The last he matured and mastered with the certainty of a
science and the beauty of an art. His compositions have the exactitude,
and occasionally the complexity, of geometric problems, neither are they
without the rhythm of a stanza, or the music of a song.

How much and in what manner the art of Overbeck was due to direct
inspiration from heaven is not easy to determine. But, at all events,
the modern master, like his forerunners in the spiritual school of
Umbria, watched and waited, fasted, prayed, and painted. One who
observed him closely testifies how, while making the drawings for _The
Gospels_ and _The Seven Sacraments_, he was penetrated with the life of
Christ. From deep wells the infinite soul flowed into the finite mind,
and the art conceived in the spirit of prayer issued as a renewed prayer
to God.

The reader, I trust, has formed a judgment as to the three-fold relation
in which Overbeck and his works stand to nature, to historic precedent,
and lastly, to inward consciousness or individual character. We have
seen that the notion prevalent in Rome, that the living model was wholly
discarded, is inaccurate; bearing on this moot point may be here told an
anecdote. It is related how one morning, when the artist was engaged on
the Tasso frescoes, in the Villa Massimo, he had need of the life for a
muscular arm, and so sallied forth into the neighbouring Piazza of the
Lateran and made appeal to some men who were breaking stones on the
road. One of the number, of amazing muscle, consented to sit, but, to
the disgust of the purist painter, the man turned out to be a public
executioner, who only took to stone breaking when slack of usual work.
Another story is to the effect that, one day a fellow of terrific aspect
entered the studio, declaring he was without food, and demanding
engagement as a model. He turned out a villain, and so the aversion grew
to coming in contact with common and unclean nature. Another reason
assigned for the non-employment of models is the lack of sufficient
strength to sustain protracted study from the life. Hence recourse to
other methods: for instance, both mental and pencil notes were taken of
casual figures and incidents in society or in the public streets. John
Gibson, the sculptor, cultivated a like habit. Also a remarkable memory,
of which much might be told, served as a storehouse of pictorial
materials. It is recounted now on Sunday evenings, after the reception
in the studio of fifty or a hundred guests, the meditative artist would
recall and describe the visitors one by one, and after many years, and
perhaps in a distant place, meeting some person, otherwise unknown, he
would say, "I remember to have seen that face once in my painting-room."
In like manner his memory was peopled with figures, whose acquaintance
he had made only in pictures: thus, when he came to paint _The
Assumption_ for Cologne Cathedral, he had recourse to the mental vision
of the Madonna, derived from an old Sienese panel, and, when charged
with the plagiarism, he replied: "The figure realises my idea, and I do
not see why I should search further." Thus, however, it came to pass
that he borrowed more and more from others, just in proportion as he
took less from nature. But in coming to a fair judgment, we have to
remember that the accidents in nature, and the grosser materialism in
man, were foreign to this super-sensuous art, the aim being to reach the
hidden meaning and the inner life. Hence the favourite practice of
placing and posing in the painting-room some well-chosen figure which
was quietly looked at, carefully considered, and taken in; thus the
irrelevant elements were eliminated, and only the essential truths
assimilated. This was for Overbeck the saving study of nature: he made
extracts and essences, elaborated generic types, and thus his art became
supreme in beauty. However, the beautiful is not always new, neither is
the new always beautiful.

The painter's relation to the historic schools of Christian Art has been
so fully stated, that little more remains to be said. The old masters
were studied much in the same way as nature: their spirit was inhaled,
and just as John Gibson was accustomed to ask, What would the Greeks
have done? so Overbeck put himself in the place of the early Italian
painters, and desired that his pencil might be guided by their spirit.
Like Raphael, what he borrowed he made his own, and often added an
aspect and a grace peculiar to himself. A gallery of pictures was for
him what a well-stored library is to a literary student, who takes from
the shelves the author best supplying the intellectual food needed. The
method is not new or strange: Bacon teaches how the moderns inherit the
wisdom of the ancients, and surely if for art, as for learning, there be
advancement in store, old pictures, like old books, must give up the
treasure of a life beyond life. Overbeck in the past sought not for the
dead, but for the living and enduring.

Given a painter's genius and surroundings, his art usually follows under
the law of cause and effect. Overbeck's pictures, as those of others,
yield under analysis as their component parts, nature plus tradition,
plus individual self. As to the individual man, we have found Overbeck
the poet and philosopher, the mystic, somewhat the sentimentalist, and,
above all, the devout Catholic. The character is singularly interesting,
and the products are unusually complex. He had forerunners and many
imitators, yet he stands alone, and were his pencil lost, a blank would
be felt in the realm of art. His genius was denied grandeur: he did not
rise to the epic, and scarcely expanded into the dramatic; his path was
comparatively narrow; his kingdom remained small, yet where he stands is
hallowed ground; his art is musical, altogether lyrical, yet toned with
pathos, as if the lamentations of The Holy Women at the Sepulchre
mingled with the angel-voices of The Nativity. The man and his work are
among the most striking and unaccustomed phenomena of the century, and
so far as his art is true to God, humanity, and nature, it must endure.
His own assurance is left on record: he held that knowledge and doing
are of value only so far as they ennoble humanity, and lead to that
which is eternal. He believed in the dependence of art on personal
character, on elevation of mind and purity of motive. The noblest
destiny of the race was ceaselessly before him, and he looked to
Christian Art as the means of showing to the world the everlasting
truth, and of raising the reality of life to the ideal. In conclusion, I
think it not too much to claim Overbeck as the most perfect example, in
our time, of the Christian Artist.

The pecuniary rewards of the painter were in no fair proportion to his
talents or his industry. His labour, as we have seen, was primarily for
the honour of art and religion, and his protracted modes of study, as
well as the esoteric character of his compositions, were little likely
to meet with adequate return. Overbeck never realised large sums; his
prices measured by present standards were ridiculously low, and even
when overcrowded with commissions, he is known to have fallen short of
ready cash. Happily, after early struggles, he became relieved from
pressing anxieties, yet he remained comparatively poor.

Overbeck's influence, the example of his life, the principles of his
art, extended far and wide throughout Europe. In France, the German
master won the reverence of the Christian artist Flandrin. In England,
Pugin held him up to students as a bright example. In Vienna and Prague,
Joseph Führich, as a disciple, worked diligently. In Munich, Heinrich
Hess, and in Spires, Johann Schraudolph, painted extended series of
frescoes allied to the same Christian school. In Düsseldorf like
traditions live:--Deger, Ittenbach, Carl and Andreas Müller studied in
Rome, and their frescoes in the Rhine chapel at Remagen were inspired by
Overbeck. And specially does the mantle of the revered painter rest on
his friend Eduard Steinle; important works at Strasbourg, Cologne,
Frankfort, Münster, Klein-Heubach, and Reineck, respond to the spirit of
the great artist who, dead, yet speaks.

Brief is the narrative of the approaching end. The infirmities of age
scarcely abated the ardent pursuit of an art dear as life itself.
Overbeck had suffered from an affection of the eyes, and his later
drawings, notwithstanding partial panegyrists, betray a faltering hand,
together with some incoherence in thought, or, at least, in the relation
of the parts to the whole. For some time, in fact, vitality had been
ebbing from his work. The summer of 1869 found him in his favourite
retreat of Rocca di Papa, and we are told he was "still busily
creating." His country dwelling stood among beauties which, in illness
as in health, came with healing power. From this sylvan quietude the
aged painter, in June, wrote to his dear friend, Director Steinle, a
letter abounding in love and aspiration; he dwells on the serenity of
the Italian sky, on the splendour of the landscape stretching before his
eye into the far distance; with characteristic modesty he laments that
even in old age he is not sufficiently advanced for the great task set
before him, and desires without intermission to turn to good account the
time still left; and then he counsels his "Brother in Christ" to direct
the mind steadfastly towards the glorious olden days which point to the
blessed goal.

Overbeck, on his return to Rome in the autumn of 1869, resumed his
accustomed order of life. One who knew him well in later years relates
that he was to be found in his studio in the early morning, that, after
a short interval at noon, he resumed work till stopped by the darkness
of evening, and that, such was the wealth of material stored in the
mind, that he went on inventing without aid from usual outward
appliances. He still sought utmost tranquillity, and any intrusion on
the hours of study became extremely painful to him. Latterly he had been
engaged on a small composition of _The Last Judgment_; also he was
occupied on designs illustrative of human life--a series which had
advanced as far as the _Return from Church of the Wedding Party_. Such
were the congenial avocations when, on the fourteenth day after the
return home, he was seized with a severe cold on the chest. Yet the
symptoms so far yielded to medical treatment that in eight days the
danger had passed. Suddenly, however, ensued a total failure of power,
yet for the most part the mind remained unclouded. A day or two before
death he asked for a piece of charcoal, and added a few touches to a
design on which lately he had been working; and at times, when
apparently unconscious, he would look upwards, raise and move his hand
as if in the act of drawing. He prayed almost without ceasing, was
grateful for each kindness, and with dying lips had a loving and
comforting word for everyone. The last sinking came in quietness;
sustained by the consolations of religion he fell asleep towards six
o'clock in the evening of Friday, the 12th of November, in the eightieth
year of his age. He lay as he had lived--in peace; and near his bed was
placed the drawing on which he had lately worked, also the small cartoon
of _The Last Judgment_.

The next day, according to the painter's wish, the body was taken by the
hands of his brother artists to San Bernardo, the little parish church
near his house, where he worshipped, and where he is still remembered.
An eye-witness writes from Rome to Lübeck, on the 18th of November: "I
have just come from the burial of our great fellow-countryman. Amid
universal grief the funeral mass took place this morning. The mournful
ceremony was performed by a German bishop assisted by Cistercian monks;
many artists and German students were present, and joined in psalms
composed by the Abbé Liszt. The whole function was most solemn, as if
the pious spirit of the departed had entered the whole assembly. Around
the bier were gathered Protestants as well as Roman Catholics; the
coffin bore the many orders which the artist had received, but was never
seen to wear; and at the feet lay the crown of laurels which his Roman
brethren reverently offered to their acknowledged chief." The body lies
in the chapel of St. Francis of Assisi, within the church of San
Bernardo. The resting-place is marked by a white marble cross, let into
the wall, bearing the inscription "Joannes Fridericus Overbeck--In
Pace."

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: See 'Lübeckische Blätter,' from 1839 to 1869, for sundry
notices concerning this picture and other works. The _Pietà_ is in oil
on canvas, 10 feet wide and nearly as high; the top is arched; it is
photographed. The pigments are in usual sound condition. A small picture
accompanied this _Pietà_. It had been intended as a present to the
brother, Judge Christian Gerhard Overbeck, but his death, in 1846,
preventing the fulfilment of the purpose, it was sent to Lübeck as a
gift to his son, the artist's nephew, Doctor and Senator Christian
Theodore Overbeck, who died 1880. The representatives in Lübeck of this
nephew are said to be in possession of sundry memorials of the
illustrious uncle. Here in Lübeck I may mention a _Madonna and Child_, a
circular composition 3 feet 2 inches in diameter, with the painter's
monogram and the date 1853. The picture is a gem, exquisite for purity,
tenderness, and beauty. Another _Madonna and Child_ is in the
Thorwaldsen Museum, Copenhagen.]

[Footnote 2: _The Incredulity of St. Thomas_ is 10 feet high by 5 feet
wide. It bears the painter's monogram and the date 1851. The figures are
life-size. The picture is in perfect preservation. The pigments, as
usual, lie thin, showing through the rough tissues of the Roman canvas.]

[Footnote 3: See 'Geschichte der neuen Deutschen Kunst, von Ernst
Förster.' Leipzig, Weigel, 1863.]

[Footnote 4: _The Assumption of the Virgin_ is in oil on canvas; height
about 18 feet, width 9 feet. Figures nearly life-size. The scale is
rather small for the magnitude of the architectural surroundings. The
tone is that of an old picture, low and solemn. No positive colours are
admitted. The pigments remain intact, without crack, blister, or change
of colour. The picture was the joint gift of the Düsseldorf Kunst-Verein
and the Cologne Cathedral Chapter. The price paid was equal to about
£1000 sterling. The cartoon was exhibited in 1876 in the National
Gallery, Berlin.]

[Footnote 5: The cartoons of the _Via Crucis_ were, in September 1880,
in the Villa Germania, near Biebrich. They are in chalk or charcoal in
outline on grey ground, tinted with sepia. Height, 1 foot 9 inches;
breadth, 1 foot 5 inches. The water-colour drawings of the same series
were, in January, 1878, in the Camera di Udienza of the Vatican. Height,
2 feet 6 inches; width, 1 foot 8 inches; mounted on white, and massively
framed. The walls and accessories of the Pope's apartment are of a crude
colour and in bad taste. The feeble execution of these cartoons and
water-colour drawings betrays advancing age and declining power.]

[Footnote 6: The cartoons of _The Seven Sacraments_, after a labour of
some eight years, were finished in 1861, and received high encomiums
when exhibited in Brussels. They remained with Overbeck at the time of
his death, together with many other artistic properties, the
accumulation of a life. Some of these treasures have been sold by the
family who entered into possession. The cartoons were offered for sale,
but are still without a purchaser. Small tempera drawings of _The Seven
Sacraments_ were bought for the National Gallery, Berlin, in 1878. They
are on canvas: measurement, 1 foot 8 inches by 1 foot 3 inches. These
reductions were entrusted to scholars; the execution is poor; the master
is responsible chiefly for revision. The pigments used vary; some are in
warm sepia, others in cooler tones, and one, _Penance_, is fully
coloured. The results technically are far from satisfactory. These
_Sacraments_, including the predellas, friezes, and side borders, have
been photographed in large and smaller sizes by Albert, Munich, and from
the photographs August Gaber executed woodcuts, published with
explanatory text penned by Overbeck. This text was also published as a
separate pamphlet: Dresden, August Gaber; London, Dulau and Co. The hope
above expressed that the cartoons might be further carried out was never
realised.]

[Footnote 7: I was informed, in October, 1881, by August Gaber, that the
wood engravings made by him of _The Seven Sacraments_ had proved a
financial failure, and that he had in the undertaking lost his all. The
Bible of Schnorr, also rendered on wood by him, had, on the contrary
succeeded. The reason assigned why the public did not care for _The
Seven Sacraments_ was, that the treatment is too strongly Catholic; and
this can hardly be a prejudiced judgment, because it was pronounced by
Herr Gaber, himself a Catholic.]

[Footnote 8: The picture is in tempera on canvas, and was put up on the
ceiling of Pio Nono's sitting room in the Quirinal Palace. But when the
King of Italy took possession, a new canvas with cupids and putti was
stretched over it, and the Pope's sitting room is now turned into Prince
Humbert's bedroom. This brutality might almost justify the good painter
in his belief that Satan is now let loose upon earth. Yet the plea has
not without reason been urged that the picture is a deliberate attack on
the King's temporal power. The original cartoon was, in 1876, exhibited
in the National Gallery, Berlin, and the same subject the artist
repeated in an oil picture (10 feet by 8 feet), now in the Antwerp
Museum. Overbeck had been made a "Membre effectif" of the Antwerp
Academy in 1863, and the commission for this _replica_ followed thereon.
I am told on authority that in Antwerp "the work is considered very
mediocre."]



[Illustration: JOANNES FRIDERICUS OVERBECK IN PACE

THE RESTING-PLACE OF OVERBECK IN THE CHURCH OF SAN BERNARDO,
ROME, IS MARKED BY A CROSS OF WHITE MARBLE BORDERED WITH
BLACK, AND BEARING AN INSCRIPTION AS ABOVE.]



                CHRONOLOGY OF THE LIFE OF OVERBECK.


A.D.                                                                PAGE

 1789. Overbeck born at Lübeck, 4th July                               1
       His Ancestors for three generations Protestant Pastors          3
       His father Burgomaster, Doctor of Laws, and Poet                5

 1800. His Home Education                                              7

 1805. His First Drawing                                               9

 1806. Leaves Lübeck for Vienna                                        9
       Student in Viennese Academy                                    10

 1809. Begins painting _Christ's Entry into Jerusalem_                11

 1810. Rebels against the Viennese Academy, and is expelled           15
       Leaves Vienna and reaches Rome                                 18

 1811. German Brotherhood of pre-Raphaelites                          20
       Monastery of Sant' Isidoro, the Dwelling of the Fraternity     24
       First Commission                                               28

 1813. Overbeck joins the Roman Catholic Church                       33

 1817. Niebuhr, Bunsen, and Schlegel, literary friends             34-40

 1818. Frescoes, _The History of Joseph,_ in the Casa Bartholdi       40
       Frescoes, _Jerusalem Delivered,_ in the Villa Massimo;
       commission for                                              44-47

 1819. Exhibition in Palazzo Caffarelli                               31
       Overbeck marries                                               49

 1831. Fresco, _The Vision of St. Francis,_ finished                  50
       Overbeck visits Germany; returns to Rome                    52-61

 1833. Present at the opening of Raphael's Tomb                       61

 1835. _Christ's Agony in the Garden_; oil picture                    63

 1836. _Lo Sposalizio_, oil picture, finished                         64

 1840. _The Triumph of Religion in the Arts_, oil picture,         65-69
       finished
       Death of son                                                   76

 1846. _Pietà_, oil picture, finished                                 77

 1851. _The Incredulity of St. Thomas_, oil picture                   79

 1852. _The Gospels_, forty cartoons, finished                     69-72

 1853. Death of wife                                                  80

 1855. _Assumption of the Madonna_, oil picture, finished             83
       Overbeck revisits Germany; returns to Rome                     84

 1857. _Via Crucis_, fourteen water-colour drawings, finished         87
       Pope Pius IX. visits the Artist's studio 7th February          93

 1858. _Christ delivered from the Jews:_ Quirinal: Tempera Picture    92

 1861. _The Seven Sacraments_, cartoons                            89-92

 1869. Overbeck died the 12th November, aged eighty                  106



                                INDEX.


(_The titles of Paintings and Drawings are printed in Italics._)


_Adoration of the Kings_, 28.

_Annunciation_, 70.

_Ascension_, 70.

Assisi, 9, 46, 50, 82, 87.

_Assumption of the Virgin_, 60, 83, 99, 101.


_Barabbas released_, 70.

Bartholdi Casa, 40, 43, 44, 60.

_Bearing to the Sepulchre_, 28.

Beauty in the mind and art of Overbeck, 14, 17, 18, 29, 40, 43, 99.

Berlin, National Gallery, 30, 46, 84, 90, 93.

Bible Society, 36.

_Blessed art thou among Women_, 28.

Bond between Art and the Church, 39.

_Book of Hours_, 94.

Bunsen, Baron, 31, 34, 36, 37, 38, 72.


Caffarelli Palazzo, 31, 37.

Canova, 27.

Carstens, 12, 13.

Cartoons by Overbeck, 9, 42, 45, 46, 50, 58, 70, 77, 82, 83, 87, 88, 93,
98.

Catholicism, 27, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 38, 52, 53, 58, 62, 69, 79, 81, 92,
102, 106.

Chart of Overbeck Family, 3, 4.

_Christ's Agony in the Garden_, 63.

_Christ bearing the Lamb_, 60.

_Christ blessing Little Children_, 28.

_Christ's Entry into Jerusalem_, 11, 16, 18, 71, 96.

_Christ escaping from the Jews_, 92.

_Christ falling under the Cross_, 71.

_Christ healing the Sick_, 71.

_Christ in the Temple_, 59, 71.

_Christ teaching the Lord's Prayer_, 94.

Christian Art, 12, 18, 27, 33, 39, 53, 66, 71, 96, 101, 103.

_Christian Parnassus_, 65.

Classic Movement, 3, 7, 8, 9, 12, 14, 27, 40.

Coleridge, 36, 91.

Cologne, 60, 63, 83, 84, 104.

Colour, System of, 16, 29, 63, 64, 67, 98.

Cornelius, Peter, 12, 18, 19, 21, 23, 31, 35, 36, 40, 43, 44, 48, 52,
54, 59, 61, 74, 83, 87, 95, 97.

_Cornelius, Portrait of_, 59.

_Coronation of the Virgin_, 94.

_Creation of Adam and Eve_, 30.

Crown Prince of Bavaria, 48.


David, French School of, 9, 12, 16, 26.

_Death of St. Joseph_, 58, 62, 94.

Deger, Ernst, 21, 104.

Drawings by Overbeck, 9, 13, 28, 29, 30, 49, 55, 58, 59, 64, 87, 90.

Düsseldorf, 12, 20, 21, 28, 52, 60, 84, 104.


_Elias in the Chariot of Fire_, 55.

_Entombment_, 28, 71, 77, 87.

European Art, influence of Overbeck over, 103.

_Expulsion from Paradise_, 13, 30.


Father of the Painter, 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 10, 17, 36.

Father's Creed for a Purist Painter, 8.

Father's Monition to study the Classics, 8.

_Feeding the Hungry_, 30.

_Feed My Sheep_, 80.

Fêtes in honour of Overbeck, 53, 84.

_Finding of Moses_, 59.

_Flight into Egypt_, 31.

_Four Evangelists_, 94.

Frankfort Städel Institute, 29, 60, 68, 85, 104.

Fresco Paintings by Overbeck, 11, 12, 21, 31, 40, 43, 44, 49, 100, 104.

Füger, Friedrich, 10.

Führich, Joseph, 21, 32, 46, 51, 74, 104.


Gibson, John, 27, 100, 102.

_God appearing to Elias_, 58.

_Godfrey de Bouillon and Peter the Hermit_, 45.

Goethe, 6, 12, 37.

_Gospels_ or _Evangelists_, 70, 97.


Hamburg, 28, 63.

_Head of Old Monk_, 30.

Hess, Heinrich, 55, 104.

_History of Joseph_, 41.

Hoffmann, Madame, 81.

_Holy Communion_, 91.

_Holy Family_, 28, 56.

Home Life of the Painter, 6, 72.

_Human Life_, 105.


_Imitation of Christ_, 94.

_Incredulity of St. Thomas_, 79.

_Infant Jesus_, 59.

Isidoro, Sant', Convent of, 21, 23, 24.

_Israelites gathering Manna_, 59.

_Italy and Germany_, 56.

Ittenbach, Franz, 21, 104.


_Jairus's Daughter, raising of_, 29, 59.

Jameson, Mrs., 50.

_Jerusalem Delivered_, 12, 31, 45.

_Jesus as a Child at Nazareth_, 6.

_Jesus Condemned_, 87.

_Jesus in the House of Martha and Mary_, 28.

_Joseph sold by his Brethren_, 42.


_Last Judgment_, 105, 106.

Leipzig Museum, 45, 50.

Lessing, 27, 37.

Letters and Correspondence of Overbeck, 9, 18, 25, 29, 33, 52, 57, 61,
62, 64, 98, 104.

Linder, Emilie, 52, 57, 58, 62, 76, 85.

Literature and Art, state of, 11, 37.

Lübeck, 1-9.

Ludwig, King, 54, 55.

Luther, 2, 34, 36, 64.


_Madonna_, 31, 35.

_Madonna and Child_, 31, 77.

_Magnificat of Art_, 65.

Maria Alfons, son of Overbeck, 17, 69, 76, 82.

_Marriage of the Virgin_, 64.

_Marriage, Sacrament of_, 80, 90.

_Massacre of the Innocents_, 70.

Massimo Villa, 9, 31, 44, 46, 60, 100.

_Meeting of Ulysses and Telemachus_, 9.

Memling's double Triptych, 2, 78.

Mengs, Raphael, 12, 27.

Mental Aspects of Overbeck, 5, 12, 15, 17, 18, 20, 24, 32, 34, 43, 51,
55, 61, 71, 73, 74, 77, 85, 86, 95, 101.

Monumental Painting, 49.

_Moses and the Daughters of Jethro_, 94.

Müller, Andreas, 21, 104.

Müller, Carl, 21, 104.

Munich, 50, 53, 54, 55, 56, 59, 85, 104.


_Naming of St. John_, 71.

Nature, study of, 15, 17, 23, 30, 43, 47, 54, 62, 63, 64, 66, 88, 100.

Nazarites, 25, 74.

Niebuhr, 25, 31, 32, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 44, 72.

Nina, wife of Overbeck, 17, 49, 76, 80, 85.


Oil Paintings by Overbeck, 11, 16, 28, 50, 56, 58, 60, 62, 63, 64, 65,
77, 79, 83, 92, 93, 94.


_Passion, the_, 87.

_Penance, Sacrament of_, 90.

Personal Aspect of Overbeck, 34, 73, 74, 86, 94.

Perugia, 87.

_Pietà_, 77.

_Pilgrim_, 94.

Pius IX., 73, 92.

_Pius IX., his Portrait_, 92.

Portraits of Overbeck, 17, 59, 69, 94, 96.

_Preaching of St. John_, 28.

Pre-Raphaelites, English, 14, 62.

Pre-Raphaelites, German, 15, 19, 20, 21, 23, 25, 31, 34, 36, 40, 61, 74.

Pre-Raphaelites, Italian, 12, 16, 43, 64, 102.

Prices of Pictures, 46, 58, 65, 67, 79.

Protestantism, 1, 3, 31, 32, 33, 35, 53, 69, 79, 81, 83, 106.

Pugin, 33, 67, 104.


Raczynski, Count, 50, 64.

_Raising of Lazarus_, 28, 93.

Raphael, opening of his Tomb, 61.

Reformation, 3, 36.

_Religion glorified by the Arts_: Overbeck's dissertation thereon, 65.

_Resurrection, the_, 71.

_Return from Church of the Wedding Party_, 105.

Romantic Movement, 7, 12, 37, 47.


Schadow, Wilhelm, 21, 24, 31, 34, 35, 37, 40, 43, 60.

Schlegel, Friedrich, 12, 31, 33, 35, 38, 39, 41.

Schnorr, Julius, 21, 44, 45, 71, 92.

Schraudolph, Johann, 55, 85, 104.

_Seven Sacraments_, 70, 88, 91, 92.

_Seven Sacraments_: Overbeck's exposition of, 89, 91.

_Seven Years of Famine_, 42, 51, 98.

_Sibyl_, 64.

_Sophronio and Olindo_, 45.

Spiritual Art, "Soul Pictures,", 15, 33, 40, 65, 66, 100.

_Sposalizio, Lo_, 64.

_Stations, the_, 70, 86, 87, 92.

Steinle, Eduard, 21, 51, 85, 86, 104.

Stift Neuburg, 28, 29, 30, 59, 85.

_St. Philip Neri_, 94.

Studio of Overbeck, 70, 73, 82, 86, 101.

Study, Overbeck's modes of, 72, 97, 100, 101.


Thorwaldsen, 27, 77.

_Triumph of Religion in the Arts_, 14, 60, 65, 97.

_Triumph of Religion in the Arts_: Overbeck's exposition of, 65.

_Twelve Apostles_, 94.


Veit, Philip, 21, 31, 35, 38, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 60, 61, 97.

_Via Crucis_, 86, 87.

Vienna, 9-18.

_Virtues_, 94.

_Vision of St. Francis_, 9, 49, 50.

_Vittoria Caldoni, Portrait of_, 28, 56.

_Vocation of the Apostles James and John_, 80, 94.


Winckelmann, 12, 27.



LONDON: PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED, STAMFORD STREET AND
                            CHARING CROSS.





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