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´╗┐Title: The Book of Art for Young People
Author: Conway, Agnes Ethel, 1885-1950, Conway, William Martin, Sir, 1856-1937
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Book of Art for Young People" ***

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[Frontispiece: RED RIDING HOOD
From the picture by G. F. Watts, in the Birmingham Art Gallery
Page 197]



THE BOOK OF ART
FOR YOUNG PEOPLE


BY
AGNES ETHEL CONWAY
AND
SIR MARTIN CONWAY


WITH SIXTEEN FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR



A. & C. BLACK, LTD.
4, 5 & 6 SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W.1


First published September 1909 as "The Children's Book of Art"
Reprinted in 1914, 1927, and 1935


Made in Great Britain.
Printed by R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, Edinburgh.



TO
MY LITTLE FRIENDS
AGNES AND ROSANNE



NOTE

My thanks are due and are cordially rendered to the Earl of Yarborough,
Sir Frederick Cook, and the authorities of Trinity College, Cambridge,
for permission to reproduce their pictures; to Lady Alfred Douglas
and Mr. Henry Newbolt for leave to quote from their poems; to Mr.
Everard Green, Somerset Herald, for all that is new in the
interpretation of the Wilton diptych; to Miss K. K. Radford for the
translation in Chapter VIII., and to all the friends who have helped
me with criticism and suggestions.

A. E. C.



CONTENTS


CHAP.                                        PAGE

   I INTRODUCTORY  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   1

  II THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY IN EUROPE  . . . .  14

 III RICHARD II. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  29

  IV THE VAN EYCKS . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  46

   V THE RENAISSANCE . . . . . . . . . . . . .  63

  VI RAPHAEL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  78

 VII THE RENAISSANCE IN VENICE . . . . . . . .  93

VIII THE RENAISSANCE IN THE NORTH  . . . . . . 104

  IX REMBRANDT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116

   X PETER DE HOOGH AND CUYP . . . . . . . . . 133

  XI VAN DYCK  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143

 XII VELASQUEZ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153

XIII REYNOLDS AND THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY . . . 165

 XIV TURNER  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176

  XV THE NINETEENTH CENTURY  . . . . . . . . . 188

INDEX  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

IN THE COLOURS OF THE ORIGINAL PAINTINGS


Red Ridinghood . . . . . . . . . . _G. F. Watts_ _Frontispiece_

Richard II. before the Virgin                             PAGE
    and Child  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  33

The Three Maries . . . . . . . . . _H. Van Eyck_ . . . . .  48

St. Jerome in his study  . . . . . _Antonello da Messina_   65

The Nativity . . . . . . . . . . . _Sandro Botticelli_ . .  76

The Knight's Dream . . . . . . . . _Raphael_ . . . . . . .  85

The Golden Age . . . . . . . . . . _Giorgione_ . . . . . .  96

St. George destroying the Dragon . _Tintoret_  . . . . . . 102

Edward, Prince of Wales,
    afterwards Edward VI.  . . . . _Holbein_ . . . . . . . 111

A Man in Armour  . . . . . . . . . _Rembrandt_ . . . . . . 126

An Interior  . . . . . . . . . . . _P. de Hoogh_ . . . . . 134

Landscape with Cattle  . . . . . . _Cuyp_  . . . . . . . . 141

William II. of Orange  . . . . . . _Van Dyck_  . . . . . . 146

Don Balthazar Carlos . . . . . . . _Velasquez_ . . . . . . 161

The Duke of Gloucester . . . . . . _Sir J. Reynolds_ . . . 170

The Fighting Temeraire . . . . . . _Turner_  . . . . . . . 177



THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF ART



CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTORY


Almost the pleasantest thing in the world is to be told a splendid
story by a really nice person. There is not the least occasion for
the story to be true; indeed I think the untrue stories are the
best--those in which we meet delightful beasts and things that talk
twenty times better than most human beings ever do, and where
extraordinary events happen in the kind of places that are not at all
like our world of every day. It is so fine to be taken into a country
where it is always summer, and the birds are always singing and the
flowers always blowing, and where people get what they want by just
wishing for it, and are not told that this or that isn't good for them,
and that they'll know better than to want it when they're grown up,
and all that kind of thing which is so annoying and so often happening
in this obstinate criss-cross world, where the days come and go in
such an ordinary fashion.

But if I might choose the person to tell me the kind of story I like
to listen to, and hear told to me over and over again, it would be
some one who could draw pictures for me while talking--pictures like
those of Tenniel in _Alice in Wonderland_ and _Through the
Looking-Glass_. How much better we know Alice herself and the White
Knight and the Mad Hatter and all the rest of them from the pictures
than even from the story itself. But my story-teller should not only
draw the pictures while he talked, but he should paint them too. I
want to see the sky blue and the grass green, and I want red cloaks
and blue bonnets and pink cheeks and all the bright colours, and some
gold and silver too, and not merely black and white--though black and
white drawings would be better than nothing, so long as they showed
me what the people and beasts and dragons and things were like. I could
put up with even rather bad drawings if only they were vivid. Don't
you know how good a bad drawing sometimes seems? I have a friend who
can make the loveliest folks and the funniest beasts and the quaintest
houses and trees, and he really can't draw a bit; and the curious thing
is, that if he could draw better I should not like his folks and beasts
half as much as I do the lop-sided, crook-legged, crazy-looking people
he produces. And then he has such quaint things to tell about them,
and while he talks he seems to make them live, so that I can hardly
believe they are not real people for all their unlikeness to any one
you ever saw.

Now, the old pictures you see in the picture galleries are just like
that, only the people that painted them didn't invent the stories but
merely illustrated stories which, at the time those painters lived,
every one knew. Some of the stories were true and some were just a
kind of fairy tale, and it didn't matter to the painters, and it doesn't
matter to us, which was true and which wasn't. The only thing that
matters is whether the story is a good one and whether the picture
is a nice one. There is a delightful old picture painted on a wall
away off at Assisi, in Italy, which shows St. Francis preaching to
a lot of birds, and the birds are all listening to him and looking
pleased--the way birds do look pleased when they find a good fat worm
or fresh crumbs. Now, St. Francis was a real man and such a dear person
too, but I don't suppose half the stories told about him were really
true, yet we can pretend they were and that's just what the painter
helps us to do. Don't you know all the games that begin with 'Let's
pretend'?--well, that's art. Art is pretending, or most of it is.
Pictures take us into a world of make-believe, a world of imagination,
where everything is or should be in the right place and in the right
light and of the right colour, where all the people are nicely dressed
to match one another, and are not standing in one another's way, and
not interrupting one another or forgetting to help play the game.
That's the difference between pictures and photographs. A photograph
is almost always wrong somewhere. Something is out of place, or
something is there which ought to be away, or the light is wrong; or,
if it's coloured, the colours are just not in keeping with one another.
If it's a landscape the trees are where we don't want them; they hide
what we want to see, or they don't hide the very thing we want hidden.
Then the clouds are in the wrong place, and a wind ruffles the water
just where we want to see something reflected. That's the way things
actually happen in the real world. But in the world of 'Let's pretend,'
in the world of art, they don't happen so. There everything happens
right, and everybody does, not so much what they should (that might
sometimes be dull), but exactly what we want them to do--which is so
very much better. That is the world of your art and my art.
Unfortunately all the pictures in the galleries weren't painted just
for you and me; but you'll find, if you look for them, plenty that
were, and the rest don't matter. Those were painted, no doubt, for
some one else. But if you could find the some one else for whom they
were painted, the some one else whose world of 'Let's pretend' was
just these pictures that don't belong to your world, and if they could
tell you about their world of 'Let's pretend,' ten to one you'd find
it just as good a world as your own, and you'd soon learn to 'pretend'
that way too.

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

One of the troubles of a painter is that he can't paint every detail
of things as they are in nature. A primrose, when you first see it,
is just a little yellow spot. When you hold it in your hand you find
it made up of petals round a tiny centre with little things in it.
If you take a magnifying glass you can see all its details multiplied.
If you put a tiny bit of it under a microscope, ten thousand more little
details come out, and so it might go on as long as you went on magnifying.
Now a picture can't be like that. It just has to show you the general
look of things as you see them from an ordinary distance. But there
comes in another kind of trouble. How do you see things? We don't all
see the same things in the same way. Your mother's face looks very
different to you from its look to a mere person passing in the street.
Your own room has a totally different aspect to you from what it bears
to a casual visitor. The things you specially love have a way of
standing out and seeming prominent to you, but not, of course, to any
one else. Then there are other differences in the look of the same
things to different people which you have perhaps noticed. Some people
are more sensitive to colours than others. Some are much more sensitive
to brightness and shadow. Some will notice one kind of object in a
view, or some detail in a face far more emphatically than others. Girls
are quicker to take note of the colour of eyes, hair, skin, clothes,
and so forth than boys. A woman who merely sees another woman for a
moment will be able to describe her and her dress far more accurately
than a man. A man will be noticing other things. His picture, if he
painted one, would make those other things prominent.

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

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

It seems strange that at one time the beauty of natural landscape was
hardly perceived by any one at all. People lived in the beautiful
country and scarcely knew that it was beautiful. Then came the time
when the beauty of landscape began to be felt by the nicest people.
They began to put it into their poetry, and to talk and write about
it, and to display it in landscape pictures. It was through poems and
pictures, which they read and saw, that the general run of folks first
learned to look for beauty in nature. I have no doubt that Turner's
wonderful sunsets made plenty of people look at sunsets and rejoice
in the intricacy and splendour of their glory for the first time in
their lives. Well, what Turner and other painters of his generation
did for landscape, had had to be done for men and women in earlier
days by earlier generations of artists. The Greeks were the first,
in their sculpture, to show the wonderful beauty of the human form;
till their day people had not recognised what to us now seems obvious.
No doubt they had thought one person pretty and another handsome, but
they had not known that the human figure was essentially a glorious
thing till the Greek sculptors showed them. Another thing painters
have taught the world is the beauty of atmosphere. Formerly no one
seems to have noticed how atmosphere affects every object that is seen
through it. The painters had to show us that it is so. After we had
seen the effect of atmosphere in pictures we began to be able to see
for ourselves in nature, and thus a whole group of new pleasures in
views of nature was opened up to us.

Away back in the Middle Ages, six hundred and more years ago, folks
had far less educated eyes than we possess to-day. They looked at nature
more simply than we do and saw less in it. So they were satisfied with
pictures that omitted a great many features we cannot do without.

But painting does not only concern itself with representing the world
we actually see and the people that our eyes actually behold. It
concerns itself quite as much with the world of fancy, of make-believe.
Indeed, most painters when they look at an actual scene let their fancy
play about it, so that presently what they see and what they fancy
get mixed up together, and their pictures are a mixture of fancy and
of fact, and no one can tell where the one ends and the other begins.
The fancies of people are very different at different times, and you
can't understand the pictures of old days unless you can share the
fancies of the old painters. To do that you must know something about
the way they lived and the things they believed, and what they hoped
for and what they were afraid of.

Here, for instance, is a very funny fact solemnly recorded in an old
account book. A certain Count of Savoy owned the beautiful Castle of
Chillon, which you have perhaps seen, on the shores of the Lake of
Geneva. But he could not be happy, because he and the people about
him thought that in a hole in the rock under one of the cellars a
basilisk lived--a very terrible dragon--and they all went in fear of
it. So the Count paid a brave mason a large sum of money (and the payment
is solemnly set down in his account book) to break a way into this
hole and turn the basilisk out; and I have no doubt that he and his
people were greatly pleased when the hole was made and no basilisk
was found. Folks who believed in dragons as sincerely as that, must
have gone in terror in many places where we should go with no particular
emotion. A picture of a dragon to them would mean much more than it
would to us. So if we are really to understand old pictures, we must
begin by understanding the fancies of the artists who painted them,
and of the people they were painted for. You see how much study that
means for any one who wants to understand all the art of all the world.

We shall not pretend to lead you on any such great quest as that, but
ask you to look at just a few old pictures that have been found charming
by a great many people of several generations, and to try and see
whether they do not charm you as well. You must never, of course,
pretend to like what you don't like--that is too silly. We can't all
like the same things. Still there are certain pictures that most nice
people like. A few of these we have selected to be reproduced in this
book for you to look at. And to help you realize who painted them and
the kind of people they were painted for, my daughter has written the
chapters that follow. I hope you will find them entertaining, and still
more that you will like the pictures, and so learn to enjoy the many
others that have come down to us from the past, and are among the world's
most precious possessions to-day.



CHAPTER II

THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY IN EUROPE


Before we give our whole attention to the first picture, of which the
original was painted in England in 1377, let us imagine ourselves in
the year 1200 making a rapid tour through the chief countries of Europe
to see for ourselves how the people lived. The first thing that will
strike us on our journey is the contrast between the grandeur of the
churches and public buildings and the insignificance of most of the
houses. Some of the finest churches in England, built in the style
of architecture called 'Norman,' one or more of which you may have
seen, date before the year 1200, as for example, Durham Cathedral,
and the naves of Norwich, Ely, and Peterborough Cathedrals. The great
churches abroad were also beautiful and more elaborately decorated,
in the North with sculpture and painting, in the South with marble
and mosaic. The towns competed one with another in erecting them finer
and larger, and in decorating them as magnificently as they could.
This was done because the church was a place which the people used
for many other purposes besides Sunday services. In the twelfth,
thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, the parish church, on week-days
as well as on Sundays, was a very useful and agreeable place to most
of the parishioners. The 'holy' days, or saints' days, 'holidays'
indeed, were times of rejoicing and festivity, and the Church
processions and services were pleasant events in the lives of many
who had few entertainments, and who for the most part could neither
read nor write. Printing was not yet invented, at least not in Europe,
and as every book had to be written out by hand, copies of books were
rare and only owned by the few who could read them, so that stories
were mostly handed down by word of mouth, the same being told by mother
to child for many generations.

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

We must realise this difference before we can well understand a picture
painted in the twelfth, thirteenth, or fourteenth centuries, nor can
we look at one without feeling that the artist and the people for whom
he painted, so loved the holy personages. They thought about them
always, not only at stated times and on Sundays, and never tired of
looking at pictures of them and their doings. It is sometimes said
that only Catholics can understand medieval art, because they feel
towards the saints as the old painters did. But it is possible for
any one to realize how in those far-off days the people felt, and it
is this that we must try to do. The religious fervour of the Middle
Ages was not a sign of great virtue among all the people. Some were
far more cruel, savage, and unrestrained than we are to-day. Very
wicked men even became powerful dignitaries in the Church. But it was
the Church that fostered the impulses of pity and charity in a fierce
age, and some of the saints of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries,
such as St. Francis of Assisi and St. Catharine of Siena, are still
held to be among the most beautiful characters the world has ever known.

The churches of the eleventh and twelfth centuries in Florence were
lined with marble, and a great picture frequently stood above the altar.
It is difficult to realize to-day that the processes which we call
oil and water-colour painting were not then invented, and that no shops
existed to sell canvases and paints ready for use. The artist painted
upon a wooden panel, which he had himself to make, plane flat, and
cut to the size he needed. In order to get a surface upon which he
could paint, he covered the panel with a thin coating of plaster which
it was difficult to lay on absolutely flat. Upon the plaster he drew
the outline of the figures he was going to paint, and filled in the
background with a thin layer of gold leaf, such as is to-day used for
gilding frames. After the background had been put in, it was impossible
to correct the outline of the figures, and the labour of preparing
the wooden panel and of laying the gold was so great that an artist
would naturally not make risky attempts towards something new, lest
he should spoil his work. In the Jerusalem Chamber of Westminster Abbey
there is a thirteenth-century altar-piece of this kind, and you can
see the strips of vellum that were used to cover the joins of the
different pieces of wood forming the panel, beneath the layer of
plaster, which has now to a great extent peeled off.

The people liked to see their Old Testament stories and the stories
from the Life of Christ painted over and over again. They had become
fond of the versions of the tales which they had known and seen painted
when they were young, and did not wish them changed, so that the range
of subjects was not large. The same were repeated, and because of the
painter's fear of making mistakes it was natural that the same figures
should be repeated too. Thus, whatever the subject pictured, a
tradition was formed in each locality for the grouping and general
arrangement of the figures, and the most authoritative tradition for
such typical groupings was preserved in Constantinople or Byzantium,
from which city the 'Byzantine' school of painting takes its name.

Before 1200, Byzantium had been a centre of residence and the
civilizing influence of trade for eighteen centuries. It had been the
capital of the Roman Empire, and less civilized peoples from the north
had never conquered the town, destroying the Greek and Roman traditions,
as happened elsewhere in Europe. You have read how the Romans had to
withdraw their armies from England to defend Rome against the attacks
of the Goths from the north, and then how Britain was settled by Angles,
Saxons, Jutes, and Danes, who destroyed most of the Roman civilization.
A similar though much less complete destruction took place in Italy
a little later, when Goths and Lombards, who were remotely akin to
the Angles and Saxons, overwhelmed Roman culture. But next to
Constantinople, Rome had the best continuous tradition of art, for
the fine monuments of the great imperial days still existed in the
city. In Byzantium the original Greek population struggled on, and
continued to paint, and make mosaics, and erect fine buildings, till
the Turks conquered them in 1453. The Byzantines were wealthy and made
exquisite objects in gold, precious stones, and ivory. While they were
painting better than any other people in Europe, they too reproduced
the same subjects and the same figures over and over again, only the
figures were more graceful than those of the local Italian, English,
and French artists, who in varying degrees at different times tried
to paint like the Byzantine or Greek artists, but without quite the
same success. So long as there was no need for an artist to paint
anything but the old well-established subjects, and so long as people
desired them to be painted in the old conventional manner, there was
little reason why any painter should try to be original and paint what
was not wanted. But in the thirteenth century a great change took place.

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

When St. Francis spake words to them, the birds began all of them to
open their beaks and spread their wings and reverently bend their heads
down to the ground, and by their acts and by their songs did show that
the holy Father gave them joy exceeding great.

Wherever he preached he made converts who 'married Holy Poverty,' as
St. Francis expressed it, gave up everything they had, and lived his
preaching and roaming life. St. Francis himself had no idea of forming
a monastic order. He wished to live a holy life in the world and show
others how to do the same, and for years he and his companions worked
among the poor, earning their daily bread when they could, and when
they could not, begging for it. Gradually, however, ambition stirred
in the hearts of some of the followers of Francis, and against the
will of their leader they made themselves into the Order of Franciscan
Friars, collected gifts of money, and began to build churches and
monastic buildings. At first the buildings were said to belong to the
Pope, who allowed the Franciscans to use them, since they might not
own property; but after the death of St. Francis, the Order built
churches throughout the length and breadth of Italy, not of marble
and mosaic but of brick, since brick was cheaper; but the brick walls
were plastered, and upon the wet plaster there were painted scenes
from the life of St. Francis, side by side with the old Christian and
saintly legends. This sudden demand for painted churches with
paintings of new subjects, stirred the painters of the day to alter
their old style. When an artist was asked to paint a large picture
of St. Francis preaching to the birds, he had to look at real birds
and he had to study a real man in the attitude of preaching. There
was no scene that had ever been painted from the life of Christ or
of any saint in which a man preached to a bird, so that the artist
was driven to paint from nature instead of copying former pictures.

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

The endless flood of misfortunes which overwhelmed unhappy Italy not
only ruined everything worthy of the name of a building, but completely
extinguished the race of artists, a far more serious matter. Then,
as it pleased God, there was born in the year 1240, in the city of
Florence, Giovanni, surnamed Cimabue, to shed the first light on the
art of painting. Instead of paying attention to his lessons, Cimabue
spent the whole day drawing men, horses, houses, and various other
fancies on his books and odd sheets, like one who felt himself compelled
to do so by nature. Fortune proved favourable to his natural
inclination, for some Greek artists were summoned to Florence by the
government of the city for no other purpose than the revival of painting
in their midst, since the art was not so much debased as altogether
lost. In this way Cimabue made a beginning in the art which attracted
him, for he often played the truant and spent the whole day in watching
the masters work. Thus it came about that his father and the artists
considered him so fitted to be a painter that if he devoted himself
to the profession he might look for honourable success in it, and to
his great satisfaction his father procured him employment with the
painters. Thus by dint of continual practice and with the assistance
of his natural talent he far surpassed the manner of his teachers.
For they had never cared to make any progress and had executed their
works, not in the good manner of ancient Greece, but in the rude modern
style of that time. Cimabue drew from nature to the best of his powers,
although it was a novelty to do so in those days, and he made the
draperies, garments, and other things somewhat more life-like, natural,
and soft than the Greeks had done, who had taught one another a rough,
awkward, and commonplace style for a great number of years, not by
means of study but as a matter of custom, without ever dreaming of
improving their designs by beauty of colouring or by any invention
of worth.

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

Cimabue painted a picture of Our Lady for the church of Santa Maria
Novella. The figure was of a larger size than any which had been
executed up to that time, and the people of that day who had never
seen anything better, considered the work so marvellous that they
carried it to the church from Cimabue's house in a stately procession
with great rejoicing and blowing of trumpets, while Cimabue himself
was highly rewarded and honoured. It is reported, and some records
of the old painters relate, that while Cimabue was painting this
picture in some gardens near the gate of S. Piero, the old King Charles
of Anjou passed through Florence. Among the many entertainments
prepared for him by the men of the city, they brought him to see the
picture of Cimabue. As it had not then been seen by any one, all the
men and women of Florence flocked thither in a crowd with the greatest
rejoicings, so that those who lived in the neighbourhood called the
place the 'Joyful Suburb' because of the rejoicing there. This name
it ever afterwards retained, being in the course of time enclosed
within the walls of the city.

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

I have repeated this legend about Cimabue, because he was the master
of Giotto, who is called the Father of Modern Painting. The story is
that Cimabue one day came upon the boy Giotto, who was a shepherd,
and found him drawing a sheep with a pointed piece of stone upon a
smooth surface of rock. He was so much struck with the drawing that
he took the boy home and taught him, and soon he in his turn far
surpassed his master. In order to appreciate Giotto we need to go to
Assisi, Florence, or Padua, for in each place he has painted a series
of wall-paintings. In the great double church of Assisi, built by the
Franciscans over the grave of St. Francis within a few years of his
death, Giotto has illustrated the whole story of his life. An isolated
reproduction of one scene would give you no idea of their power. In
many respects he was an innovator, and by the end of his life had broken
away completely from the Byzantine school of painting. He composed
each one of the scenes from the life of St. Francis in an original
and dramatic manner, and so vividly that a person unacquainted with
the story would know what was going on. Standing in the nave of the
Upper Church, you are able to contrast these speaking scenes of the
lives of people upon earth, with the faded glories of great-winged
angels and noble Madonnas with Greek faces, that were painted in the
Byzantine style when the church was at its newest, before Giotto was
born. These look down upon us still from the east end of the church.

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

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



CHAPTER III

RICHARD II.


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

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

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

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

[Illustration: RICHARD II. BEFORE THE VIRGIN AND CHILD
From a picture by an unknown artist in the Wilton House Collection]

St. Edmund, who stands next to Edward the Confessor, is the other
saintly King of England; after whom the town of Bury St. Edmunds takes
its name. He was shot to death with arrows by the Danes because he
would not give up Christianity. If I could show you several suitably
chosen pictures at once, you would recognize in the arrangement of
the three Kings here (two standing, one kneeling before the Virgin
and Child) a plain resemblance to the typical treatment of a well-known
subject--the Adoration of the Magi. You remember how when the three
Wise Men of the East--always thought of in the Middle Ages as Kings--had
followed the star which led them to the manger where Christ was born,
they brought Him gold and frankincense and myrrh as offerings. This
beautiful story was a favourite one in the Middle Ages, often
represented in sculpture and painting. One King always kneels before
the Virgin and Child, presenting his gift, whilst the other two stand
behind with theirs in their hands. The standing Kings and the kneeling
Richard in our picture, are grouped in just the same relation to the
divine Infant as the three Magi. The imitation of the type is clear.
There was a special reason for this, in that the birthday of Richard
fell upon January 6, the feast of the Epiphany, when the Wise Men did
homage to the Babe. The picture, by reminding us of the three Wise
Men, commemorated the birthday of the King as well as his coronation,
the two chief dates of his life.

You have some idea now of the train of thought which this
fourteenth-century painter endeavoured to express in his picture
commemorative of the coronation of a King. A medieval coronation was
a very solemn ceremony indeed, and the picture had to be a serious
expression of the great traditions of the throne of England, suggested
by the figures of St. Edward and St. Edmund, and of hope for future
good to the realm, to ensue from the blessings of the Virgin and Child
upon the young King. Religious feeling is dominant in this picture,
and if from it you could turn to others of like date, you would find
the same to be true. The meaning was the main thing thought of. When
Giotto painted his scenes from the life of St. Francis, his first aim
was that the stories should be well told and easily grasped by all
who looked at them. Their beauty was of less importance. This
difference between the aim of art in the Middle Ages and in our own
day is fundamental. If you begin by picking to pieces the pictures
of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries because the drawing is bad,
the colouring crude, and the grouping unnatural, you might as well
never look at them at all. Putting faults and old fashions aside to
think of the meaning of the picture, we shall often be rewarded by
finding a soul within, and the work may affect us powerfully,
notwithstanding its simple forms and few strong colours.

Nevertheless, after the painter had planned his picture so as to convey
its message and meaning, he did try to make it beautiful to look upon,
and he often succeeded. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries
it was beauty of outline and a pleasant patching together of bright
colours for which the painters strove, both in pictures and in
manuscripts. If you think of this picture for a moment as a coloured
pattern, you will see how pretty it is. The blue wings against the
gold background make a hedge for the angel faces and look extremely
well. If the figure of Richard II. seems flat, if you feel as though
he were cut out of cardboard and had no thickness, then turn your mind
to consider only the outline of the figure. It is very graceful. Artists
in the thirteenth century sometimes made their figures over-long if
they thought that a sweep of graceful line would look well in a certain
position in their picture; the drapery was bent into impossible curves
if so they fell into a pretty pattern.

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

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

Likewise, all the details of the dresses are minutely painted. The
robes of Richard and of Edmund the Martyr are beautiful examples of
the careful and painstaking work characteristic of the Middle Ages.
No medieval painter spared himself trouble. Although he had not
mastered the art of drawing the figure, he had learnt how to paint
jewellery and stuffs beautifully, and delighted in doing it. The
drawing of the figures you can see to be imperfect, yet nothing could
be sweeter in feeling than the bevy of girl angels with roses in their
hair surrounding the Virgin. Most of them are not unlike English girls
of the present day, and the critics who say that this picture must
have been painted by a Frenchman may be asked where he is likely to
have found these English models for his angels.

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

The gold background in the original shines out brilliantly, for after
the gold was laid on, it was polished with an agate, which gives it
a burnished effect, and then the little patterns were carefully punched
so as not to pierce the gold and thereby expose the white ground beneath.
There is a jewel-like quality in the colour such as you can see in
manuscripts of the time, and it is possible that the painter may have
learned his art as an illuminator of manuscripts. Artists in those
days seldom confined themselves to one kind of work. We do not know
this man's name, and are not even certain whether he was French or
English.

Before, as in the time of Richard, painting had been mainly a decorative
art, and the object of making pictures was to adorn the pages of a
book, or the walls and vaults of a building. The most vital artistic
energies of Western Europe in the thirteenth century had gone into
the building of the great cathedrals and abbeys, which are to-day the
glory of that period. Most medieval paintings that still exist in
England are decorative wall-paintings of this kind, and only traces
of a few remain. In many country places you can see poor and faded
vestiges of painting which adorned church walls in the thirteenth
century, and occasionally you may come upon a bit by some chance better
preserved. These old wall-paintings were done upon the dry plaster.
The discovery, or rather the revival, of 'fresco' painting (that is,
of painting done upon the wet surface of freshly plastered walls, a
more durable process) was made in Italy and did not penetrate to
England.

Richard II. was not the only art-loving King of his time. You have
read of John, King of France, who was taken prisoner at the Battle
of Poitiers by the Black Prince, father of Richard. During his
captivity he lived in considerable state in London at the Savoy Palace,
which occupied the site of the present Savoy Hotel in the Strand; he
brought his own painter from France with him, who painted his portrait
which still exists in Paris. This King John was the father of four
remarkable sons, Charles V., King of France, with whom Edward III.
and the Black Prince fought the latter part of the Hundred Years' War;
Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy; John, Duke of Berry; and Louis,
Duke of Anjou. In this list, all are names of remarkable men and great
art-patrons, about whom you may some day read interesting things.
Numerous lovely objects still in existence were made for them, and
would not have been made at all if they had not been the men they were.
It was only just becoming possible in the fourteenth century for a
prince to be an art-patron. That required money, and hitherto even
princes had rarely been rich. The increasing wealth of England, France,
and Flanders at this time was based upon the wool industry and the
manufacture and commerce to which it gave rise. The Lord Chancellor
in the House of Lords to this day sits on a woolsack, which is a reminder
of the time when the woolsacks of England were the chief source of
the wealth of English traders.

After the Black Death, an awful plague that swept through Europe in
1349, a large part of the land of England was given up to sheep grazing,
because the population had diminished, and it took fewer people to
look after sheep than it did to till the soil. Although this had been
an evil in the beginning, it became afterwards a benefit, for English
wool was sold at an excellent price to the merchants of Flanders, who
worked it up into cloth, and in their turn sold that all over Europe
with big profits. The larger merchants who regulated the wool traffic
were prosperous, and so too the landowners and princes whose property
thus increased in value. The four sons of King John became very wealthy
men. Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, by marrying the heiress of
the Count of Flanders acquired the Flemish territory and the wealth
obtained from the wool trade and manufacture there. Berry and Anjou
were great provinces in France yielding a large revenue to their two
Dukes. Each of these princes employed several artists to illuminate
books for him in the most splendid way; they built magnificent chateaux,
and had tapestries and paintings made to decorate their walls. They
employed many sculptors and goldsmiths, and all gave each other as
presents works of art executed by their favourite artists. In the
British Museum there is a splendid gold and enamel cup that John, Duke
of Berry, caused to be made for his brother King Charles V.; to see
it would give you a good idea of the costliness and elaboration of
the finest work of that day. The courts of these four brothers were
centres of artistic production in all kinds--sculpture, metal-work,
tapestries, illuminated manuscripts and pictures, and there was a
strong spirit of rivalry among the artists to see who could make the
loveliest things, and among the patrons as to which could secure the
best artists in his service.

These four princes gave an important impulse to the production of
beautiful things in France, Burgundy, and Flanders, but it is needless
to burden you with the artists' names.

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

It was not unusual in the fourteenth century for a man to be at one
and the same time painter, illuminator, sculptor, metal-worker, and
designer of any object that might be called for. One of these many
gifted men, Andre Beauneveu of Valenciennes, a good sculptor and a
painter of some exquisite miniatures, is sometimes supposed to have
been the painter of our picture of Richard II. In the absence of any
signature or any definite record it is impossible to say who painted
it, but it is unnecessary to assume that it must have been painted
by a French artist, since we know that at the end of the fourteenth
century there were very good painters in England.

It was by no means an exception not to sign a picture in those days,
for the artists had not begun to think of themselves as individuals
entitled to public fame. Hand-workers of the fourteenth century mostly
belonged to a corporation or guild composed of all the other workers
at the same trade in the same town, and to this rule artists were no
exception. Each man received a recognized price for his work, and the
officers of the guild saw to it that he obtained that price and that
he worked with good and durable materials. There were certain
advantages in this, but it involved some loss of freedom in the artist,
since all had to conform to the rules of the guild. The system was
characteristic of the Middle Ages, and arose from the fact that in
those troublous times every isolated person needed protection and was
content to merge his individuality in some society in order to obtain
it. The guilds made for peace and diminished competition, so that a
guildsman may have been less tempted to hurry over or scamp his task.
The result was much honest, careful work such as you see in the original
of this picture. We are told by those who know best that there has
never been a time when the actual workmanship of the general run of
craftsmen was better than in the Middle Ages.

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



CHAPTER IV

THE VAN EYCKS


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

In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day
of the week, came Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the
Sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the Angel
of the Lord descended from Heaven, and came and rolled back the stone
from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning,
and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did
shake, and became as dead men.

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

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

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

[Illustration: THE THREE MARIES
From the picture by Hubert van Eyck, in Sir Frederick Cook's Collection,
Richmond]

He has dressed the Maries in robes with wrought borders of Hebrew
characters, imitated from embroidered stuffs, such as at that time
were imported into Europe from the East. The dresses are not accurate
copies of eastern dresses; Hubert would scarcely have known what those
were like, but was doing his best to paint costumes that should look
oriental. Mary Magdalen wears a turban, and the keeper on the right
has a strange peaked cap with Hebrew letters on it. Hebrew scholars
have done their best to read the inscriptions on these clothes, but
we must infer that Hubert only copied the letters without knowing what
they meant, since it has not been possible to make any sense of them.
In the foreground are masses of flowers most carefully painted, and
so accurately drawn that botanists have been able to identify them
all; several do not grow in the north of Europe. The town at the back
is something like Jerusalem as it looked in Hubert van Eyck's own day.
A few of the buildings can be identified still, and a general view
of Jerusalem taken in 1486, sixty years after the death of Hubert,
bears some resemblance to the town in this picture. The city is painted
in miniature, much as it would look if you saw it from near at hand.
Every tower, house, and window is there. You can even count the
battlements. The great building with the dome in the middle of the
picture, is the Mosque of Omar, which occupies the supposed site of
Solomon's Temple.

Some people have thought that perhaps Hubert van Eyck, and his brother
John, actually went to the East. Many men made pilgrimages in those
days, and almost every year parties of Christian pilgrims went to
Jerusalem. It was a rough and even a dangerous journey, but not at
all impossible for a patient traveller. Dr. Hulin, who has made
wonderful discoveries about the early Flemish painters, found a
mention, in an old sixteenth-century list, of a 'Portrait of a Moorish
King or Prince' by Van Eyck, painted in 1414 or perhaps 1418. If he
painted a portrait of an oriental prince, he may have visited one
oriental country at least, or at any rate the south of Spain. Probably
enough during that journey he made studies of the cypress, stone-pine,
date-palm, olive, orange, and palmetto, which occur in his pictures.
They grow in the south of Spain and other Mediterranean regions, but
not in the cold north where Hubert spent most of his days.

It is difficult at first to realize what an innovation it was for Hubert
van Eyck to paint such a landscape. In the Richard II. diptych there
is just a suggestion of brown earth for the saints to stand upon, but
the rest of the background is of gold, as was the common practice at
the time. The great innovator, Giotto, in some of his pictures had
attempted to paint landscape backgrounds. In his fresco of St. Francis
preaching to the birds there is a tree for them to perch on, but it
seems more like a garden vegetable than a tree. Even his buildings
look as though they might fall together any moment like a pack of cards.
Hubert not only gives landscape a larger place than it ever had in
any great picture before, but he paints it with such skill and apparent
confidence that we should never dream he was doing it almost for the
first time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The brothers Van Eyck were, first and foremost, good workmen. Few other
painters in the whole of the world's history have aimed at anything
like the same finish of detail. In the original of this picture the
oriental pot which the green Mary holds in her hand is a perfect marvel
of workmanship. There is no detail so small but that when you look
into it you discover some fresh wonder. A story is told of how Hubert
van Eyck painted a picture upon which he had lavished his usual
painstaking care. But when he put it in the sun to dry, the panel cracked
down the middle. After this disappointment Hubert went to work and
invented a new substance with which colours are made liquid, a 'medium'
as it is called, which when mixed with colour dried hard and quickly.
It was possible to paint with the new medium in finer detail than before,
and the Flemish artists universally adopted it. While very little was
remembered about the facts of Hubert van Eyck's life, his name was
always associated with the discovery of a new method of painting, and
on that account held in great honour.

The 'Three Maries' is in many respects the most attractive of the
pictures ascribed to Hubert, but his most famous work was a larger
picture, or assemblage of pictures framed together, the 'Adoration
of the Lamb,' in St. Bavon's Church at Ghent. It is an altar-piece--a
painting set up over an altar in a church or chapel to aid the devotions
of those worshipping there. Many of the panels of the Ghent altar-piece
are now in the Museums of Berlin and Brussels. They belonged to the
wings or shutters which were made to close over the central parts,
and which used also to be painted outside and inside with devotional
or related subjects. The four great central panels on which these
shutters used to close are still at Ghent. The subject of the 'Adoration
of the Lamb' was taken from Revelations, where before the Lamb has
opened the seals of the book, St. John says:

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

Hubert has figured this verse by assembling, as in one time and place,
representatives of Christendom. They who worship are the prophets,
apostles, popes, martyrs, and virgins. On each side of the central
panel the just judges, the soldiers of Christ, the hermits, and the
pilgrims, advance to join the throng around the Lamb. Most beautiful
of all is the crowd of virgin martyrs bearing palms, moving over the
green grass carpeted with flowers, to adore the Lamb of God, the
Redeemer of the World. Above, God the Father, the Virgin Mother, and
St. John the Baptist, with crowns of wonderful workmanship, are throned
amid choirs of singing and playing angels on either hand.

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

Josse Vyt, who ordered the picture, and whose portrait, with that of
his wife, is painted on the shutters, no doubt explained exactly what
he wanted, and Hubert sought to please him.[1] But although the design
of the central panel was old-fashioned and symbolic, Hubert was able
to do what he liked with the landscape, and with the individual figures.
They are real men and women with varieties of expression such as had
not been painted before, and the landscape is even more beautiful than
the one at the back of the 'Three Maries.' Snow mountains rise in the
distance, and beautiful cypresses and palms of all kinds clothe the
green slopes behind the Lamb. There are flowers in the grass and jewels
for pebbles in the brook. Behind, you can see the Cathedrals of Utrecht
and Cologne, St. John's of Maestricht, and more churches and houses
besides, and the walls of a town, and wide stretches of green country.

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

Hubert van Eyck died in 1426, and the picture was finished by his
younger brother John, of whose life, though more is known than of
Hubert's, we need not here repeat details. Many of his pictures still
exist, and the most delightful of them for us are his portraits. He
was not the first man to paint good portraits, but few artists have
ever painted better likenesses. It seems evident that the people in
his pictures are 'as like as they can stare,' with no wrinkle or scratch
left out. Portraits in earlier days than these were seldom painted
for their own sake alone. A pious man who wanted to present an
altar-piece or a stained-glass window to a church would modestly have
his own image introduced in a corner. By degrees such portraits grew
in size and scale, and the neighbouring saints diminished, till at
last the saints were left out and the portrait stood alone. Then it
came about that such a picture was hung in its owner's house rather
than in a church. One of the best portraits John van Eyck ever painted
is at Bruges--the likeness of his wife. The panel was discovered about
fifty years ago in the market-place of Bruges, where an old woman was
using the back of it to skin eels on; but so soundly had the picture
been painted that even this ill-usage did not ruin it. The lady was
a very plain Flemish woman with no beauty of feature or expression,
but John has revealed her character so vividly that to look at her
likeness is to know her. It is indeed a long leap from the Richard
II. of fifty years before, with its representation of the outline of
a youth, to this ample realization of a mature woman's character.

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

During the next fifty years many and beautiful were the pictures
produced throughout Flanders. All of them have a jewel-like brilliance
of colour, approaching in brightness the hues of the Richard II.
diptych. The landscape backgrounds are charming miniatures of towns
by the side of rivers with spanning bridges. The painting of textures
is exquisite. But the Flemish face, placid, plump, and fair-haired,
prevails throughout. In the pictures of Paradise, where the saints
and angels play with the Infant Christ, we still feel chained to the
earth, because the figures and faces are the unidealized images of
those one might have met in the streets of Bruges and Ghent. This is
not a criticism on the artists. The merit of their work is unchallenged;
and how could they paint physical beauty by them scarce ever seen?
Yet when all has been said in praise of the Flemish School, the brothers
Van Eyck, the founders of it, remain its greatest representatives,
and their work is still regarded with that high and almost universal
veneration which is the tribute of the greatest achievement.



CHAPTER V

THE RENAISSANCE


Who is this old gentleman in our next picture reading so quietly and
steadily? Does he not look absorbed in his book? Certainly the peacock,
the bird, and the cat do not worry him or each other, and there is
still another animal in the distance--a lion! Can you see him? He is
walking down the cloister pavement on the right, with his foot lifted
as though it were hurt. The story is that this particular lion limped
into the monastery in which this old man lived, and while all the other
monks fled in terror, this monk saw that the lion's fore-paw was hurt.
He raised it up, found what was the matter, and pulled out the thorn;
and ever afterwards the lion lived peacefully in the monastery with
him. Now, whenever you see a lion in a picture with an old monk, him
you will know to be St. Jerome. He was a learned Christian father who
lived some fifteen hundred years ago, yet his works are still read,
spoken, and heard every day throughout the world. He it was who made
the standard Latin version of the Scriptures. The services in Roman
Catholic churches in all countries are held in Latin to this day, and
St. Jerome's translation of the Bible, called the Vulgate, is the
version still in use.

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

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

[Illustration: ST. JEROME IN HIS STUDY
From the picture by Antonello da Messina, in the National Gallery,
London]

Of course you all know something about the remarkable revival of
learning in the fifteenth century, which started in Italy, spread
northward, and reached England in the reign of Henry VIII. Before the
fifteenth century, Italians seem to have been indifferent to the
monuments around them of ancient civilization. Suddenly they were
fired with a passion for antiquity. They learnt Greek and began to
take a keen interest in the doings of the Greeks and Romans, who in
many ways had lived a life so far superior to their own. Artists studied
the old statues, which taught them the beauty of the human figure.
The reacquired wisdom of the ancients by degrees broke down the
medieval barriers. There was born a spirit of enterprise into the world
of thought as well as into the world of fact, which revolutionized
life and art. The period which witnessed this great mental change is
well known as the Renaissance or 'rebirth.'

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

The manner in which this picture is painted is still more suggestive
of change than the subject itself. Our artist knew a great deal about
the new science of perspective, for instance. One might almost think
that, pleased with his new knowledge, he had multiplied the number
of objects on the shelves so as to show how well he could foreshorten
them. Medieval painters had not troubled about perspective, and were
more concerned, as we have seen, to make a pretty pattern of shapes
and colours for their pictures. The Van Eycks, as we noted, only
acquired the beginnings of an understanding of it, and were very proud
of their new knowledge. It was in Italy that all the rules were at
last brought to light.

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

The painter of our picture lived within those seventy-five years. He
was, probably, a certain Antonello of Messina--that same town in Sicily
recently wrecked by earthquakes. Of his life little is known. He seems
to have worked chiefly in Venice where there was a fine school of
painting during the Renaissance Period; his senior Giovanni Bellini,
one of the early great painters of Venice, some of whose pictures are
in the National Gallery, taught him much. It is also said that Antonello
went to the Netherlands and there learnt the method of laying paint
on panel invented by the Van Eycks. Modern students say he did not,
but that he picked up his way of painting in Italy. Certainly he and
other Venetians and Italians about this time improved their technical
methods as the Van Eycks had done, and this picture is an early example
of that more brilliant fashion of painting. There is here a Flemish
love of detail. The Italian painters had been more accustomed to
painting upon walls than the Flemings, for the latter had soon
discovered that a damp northern climate was not favourable to the
preservation of wall-paintings. Fresco does not admit of much detail,
as each day's work has to be finished in the day, before the plaster
dries. Thus, a long tradition of fresco painting had accustomed the
Italian painters to a broad method of treatment, which they maintained
to a certain extent even in their panel pictures. But in our St. Jerome
we see a wealth of detail unsurpassed even by John van Eyck.

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

One of the greatest pioneer artists of the fifteenth century was Andrea
Mantegna of Padua in the north of Italy. More than any other painter
of his day, he devoted himself to the study of ancient sculpture, even
to the extent of sometimes painting in monochrome to imitate the actual
marble. Paintings by him, which look like sculptured reliefs, are in
the National Gallery; and at Hampton Court is a series of cartoons
representing the Triumph of Julius Caesar, in which the conception
and the handling are throughout inspired by old Roman bas-reliefs.
In other pictures of his, the figures look as though cast of bronze,
for he was likewise influenced by the sculptors of his own day,
particularly by the Florentine Donatello, one of the geniuses of the
early Renaissance. Mantegna's studies of form in sculpture made him
an excellent draughtsman. Strangely enough, it was this very severe
artist who was, perhaps, the first to depict the charm of babyhood.
Often he draws his babes wrapped in swaddling clothes, with their
little fingers in their mouths, or else in the act of crying, with
their eyes screwed up tight, and their mouths wide open. Such a
combination of hard sculpturesque modelling with extreme tenderness
of feeling has a charm of its own.

We have now just one more picture of a sacred subject to look at, one
of the last that still retains much of the old beautiful religious
spirit of the Middle Ages. The painter of it, Sandro Botticelli, a
Florentine, in whom were blended the piety of the Middle Ages and the
intellectual life of the Renaissance, was a very interesting man, whose
like we shall not find among the painters of his own or later days.
He was born in 1446, in Florence, the city in Italy most alive to the
new ideas and the new learning. Its governing family, the Medici, of
whom you have doubtless read, surrounded themselves with a brilliant
society of accomplished men, and adorned their palaces with the finest
works of art that could be produced in their time. The best artists
from the surrounding country were attracted to Florence in the hope
of working for the family, who were ever ready to employ a man of
artistic gifts.

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

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

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

At this time many persons burnt in great 'bonfires of vanities' all
the pretty trinkets that they possessed. But when the prophecies did
not literally come true, and the people began to be weary of
Savonarola's vehemence, we read that a reaction set in, which afforded
a chance for his enemies within the Church, whom he had lashed with
his tongue from the pulpit of the cathedral. They contrived to have
him tried for heresy and burnt in the market-place of Florence, in
the midst of the people who so shortly before had hung on every word
that fell from his lips.

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

I, Sandro, painted this picture at the end of the year 1500, during
the troubles of Italy, in the half year after the first year of the
loosing of the Devil for 3-1/2 years, in accordance with the fulfilment
of the 11th chapter of the Revelations of St. John. Then shall the
Devil be chained, according to the 12th chapter, and we shall see him
trodden down as in the picture.

The Devil which was loosed for three and a half years stood for the
stage of wickedness through which Botticelli believed that Florence
was passing in 1500. In the bottom corners of the picture you can see
minute little devils running away discomfited; otherwise all is pure
joy and peace, symbolic of the gladness to come upon Italy when the
Church had been purified:

  When Life is difficult, I dream
  Of how the angels dance in Heaven.
  Of how the angels dance and sing
  In gardens of eternal spring,
  Because their sins have been forgiven....
  And never more for them shall be
  The terrors of mortality.
  When life is difficult, I dream
  Of how the angels dance in Heaven....[2]

[Footnote 2: By Lady Alfred Douglas.]

That is what Botticelli dreamed. He saw the beautiful angels in green,
white, and red dancing with joy, because of the birth of their Saviour,
and into their hands he put scrolls, upon which were written:--'Glory
to God in the Highest.' The rest of the verse, 'Peace and goodwill
towards men' is on the scrolls of the shepherds, brought by the angel
to behold the Babe lying in the manger. The three men, embraced with
such eagerness and joy by the three angels in the foreground, are
Savonarola and his two chief companions, burnt with him, who, after
their long suffering upon earth, have found reward and happiness in
heaven.

[Illustration: THE NATIVITY
From the picture by Sandro Botticelli, in the National Gallery, London]

Such is the meaning of this beautiful little picture, as spiritual
in idea as any of the paintings of the thirteenth and fourteenth
centuries. But while the earlier painters had striven with inadequate
powers to express the religious feeling that was in them, Botticelli's
skill matched his thought. His drawing of the angels in their Greek
dresses is very lovely, and one scarce knows in any picture a group
surpassing that of the three little ones upon the roof of the manger,
nor will you soon see a lovelier Virgin's face than hers. Botticelli
had great power of showing the expression in a face, and the movement
in a figure. Here the movements may seem overstrained, a fault which
grew upon him in his old age; the angel, with the two shepherds on
the right, has come skimming over the ground and points emphatically
at the Babe, and the angel in front embraces Savonarola with vehemence.
The artists of the early Renaissance had learnt with so much trouble
to draw figures in motion that their pleasure in their newly acquired
skill sometimes made them err by exaggeration as their predecessors
by stiffness.

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

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



CHAPTER VI

RAPHAEL


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

When Raphael drew and painted this picture of the 'Knight's Dream,'
about the year 1500, he was himself like a young knight, at the outset
of his short and brilliant career. As a boy he was handsome, gifted,
charming. His nature is said to have been as lovely as his gifts were
great, and he passed his short life in a triumphant progress from city
to city and court to court, always working hard and always painting
so beautifully that he won the admiration of artists, princes, and
popes. His father, Giovanni Santi, was a painter living in the town
of Urbino, in Central Italy, but Raphael when quite young went to
Perugia to study with the painter Perugino, a native of that town.

Perugia stands upon a high hill, like the hill in the background of
the picture of the 'Knight's Dream,' only higher, for from it you can
overlook the wide Umbrian plain as far as Assisi--the home of St.
Francis--which lies on the slope of the next mountain. That beautiful
Umbrian landscape, in which all the towns look like castles perched
upon the top of steep hills, with wide undulating ground between,
occurs frequently in the pictures of Perugino, and often in those of
his pupil Raphael. If you have once seen the view from Perugia for
yourself, you will realize how strongly it took hold of the imagination
of the young painter. Raphael had a most impressionable mind. It was
part of his genius that, from every painter with whom he came in contact
he imbibed the best, almost without knowing it. The artists of his
day, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the other great men, were
each severally employed in working out once and for all some particular
problem in connection with their art. Michelangelo, a giant in
intellect, painter, sculptor, architect, and poet, studied the human
body as it had not been studied since the days of ancient Greece. His
sculptured figures on the tombs of the Medici in Florence rank second
only to those of the greatest Greek sculptors, and his ceiling in the
Sistine Chapel is composed of a series of masterpieces of
figure-painting. He devoted himself largely in his sculpture and his
painting to the representation of the naked human body, and made it
futile in his successors to plead ignorance as an excuse for bad drawing.
As a colourist he was not pre-eminent, and his few panel pictures are
for the most part unfinished.

Leonardo da Vinci, the older contemporary of Raphael, first in Florence
and afterwards in the north of Italy, left a colossal reputation and
but few pictures, for in his search after perfection he became
dissatisfied with what he had done and is said to have destroyed one
masterpiece after another. For him the great interest in the aspect
of man and woman was not so much the form of the body as the expression
of the face. What was fantastic and weird fascinated him. At Windsor
are designs he made for the construction of an imaginary beast with
gigantic claws. He once owned a lizard, and made wings for it with
quicksilver inside them, so that they quivered when the lizard crawled.
He put a dragon's mask over its head, and the result was ghastly. The
tale gives us a side light on this extraordinary personage. When you
are led to read more about him you will feel the fascination of his
strong, yet perplexing personality. The faces in his pictures are
wonderful faces, with a fugitive mocking smile and a seeming burden
of strange thought. By mastery of the most subtle gradations of light,
his heads have an appearance of solidity new in painting, till Raphael
and some of his contemporaries learnt the secret from Leonardo.
Heretofore, Italian painters had been contented to bathe their
pictures in a flood of diffused light, but he experimented also with
effects of strong light and shade on the face. His landscape
backgrounds are an almost unearthly cold grey, and include the
strangest forms of rock and mountain. His investigations into several
of the scientific problems connected with art led to results which
affected in an important degree the work of many later artists.

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

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

Although the 'Knight's Dream' is so small, and Raphael was but a boy
when he painted it, the picture has the true romantic air,
characteristic of the joyful years of the early Renaissance. He does
not seem to have felt the conflict between the old religious ideal
and the new pursuit of worldly beauty as Botticelli felt it. Yet he
chose the competition of these two ideals as the subject of this picture.
The Knight, clothed in bright armour and gay raiment, bearing no
relation at all to the clothes worn in 1500, rests upon his shield
beneath the slight shade of a very slender tree. In his dream there
appear to him two figures, both of whom claim his knightly allegiance
for life: one, a young and lovely girl in a bright coloured dress with
flowers in her hair, tempts him to embrace a life of mirth, of

  Jest and youthful Jollity,
  Quips and Cranks and wanton Wiles,
  Nods and Becks and wreathed Smiles.

The other resembles the same poet's

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

She holds sword and book, symbols of stern action and wise
accomplishment. Which the knight will choose we are not told, perhaps
because Raphael himself never had to make the choice. He was too gifted
and too fond of work to be tempted from it by anything whatever. Always
joyous and always successful, he was able to paint any subject, sacred,
profane, ancient, or modern, so long as it was a happy one. He was
too busy and too gay to feel pain and sorrow, as Botticelli felt them,
and to paint sad subjects. To him the visible world was good and
beautiful, and the invisible world lovely and happy likewise. His
Madonnas are placid or smiling mothers. The fat and darling babies
they hold are indeed divine but not awesome. Yet the extraordinary
sweetness of expression, nobility of form, and beauty of colouring
in the Madonnas make you almost hold your breath when you look at them.

In the 'Knight's Dream' there is a simple beauty in the pose and
grouping of the figures. You can hardly fancy three figures better
arranged for the purpose of the subject. There is something inevitable
about them, which is the highest praise due to a mastery of design
in the art of composition. Raphael's surpassing gift was in fitting
beautiful figures into any given space, so that it seems as though
the space had been made to fit the figures, instead of the figures
to fit the space. You could never put his round Madonnas into a square
frame. The figures would look as wrong as in a round frame they look
right. If you were to cut off a bit of the foreground in any of his
pictures and add the extra piece to the sky, you would make the whole
look wrong, whereas perhaps you might add on a piece of sky to Hubert
van Eyck's 'Three Maries' without spoiling the effect.

[Illustration: THE KNIGHT'S DREAM
From the picture by Raphael, in the National Gallery, London]

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

You can see from the drawing of the 'Knight's Dream,' which is hung
quite near the painting in the National Gallery, how carefully Raphael
thought out the detail of the picture before he began to paint. He
seems even to have been afraid that he might not be able to draw it
again so perfectly; therefore he placed the drawing over the panel
and pricked it through. The marks of the pin are quite clear, and it
brings one nearer this great artist to follow closely the process of
his work. It makes the young boy genius of 1500 almost seem akin to
the struggling boy and girl artists of the present time.

From Perugia Raphael went to Florence, where he painted a number of
his most beautiful Madonnas. Then, in 1508, he was called to Rome by
Pope Julius II. to decorate some rooms in the Vatican Palace. The
Renaissance popes were possessed of so great wealth, and spent it to
such purpose, that its spending influenced the art of their age. Many
of the rooms in the Vatican had been decorated by Botticelli and other
good artists of the previous half-century, but already the new pope
considered their work out of date and ordered it to be replaced by
Michelangelo and Raphael. For nine years Raphael worked at the
decoration of the palace, always being pressed, hurried, and even
worried by two successive popes who employed him. The wall spaces which
he had to fill were often awkwardly broken up with windows and doors,
but he easily overcame whatever difficulties were encountered. To
succeed apparently without struggle was a peculiar gift granted to
Raphael above any other artist of his day. The frescoes painted by
him in the Vatican illustrated subjects from Greek philosophy and
medieval Church history, as well as from the Old and New Testament.
As an illustrator of sacred writ he never attempted that verisimilitude
in Eastern surroundings to which Hubert van Eyck leaned, neither was
he satisfied with the dress of his own day in which other painters
were wont to clothe their sacred characters. The historical sense,
which has driven some modern artists to much antiquarian research to
discover exactly what Peter and Paul must have worn, did not exist
before the nineteenth century. Raphael felt, nevertheless, that the
clothes of the Renaissance were hardly suitable for Noah and Abraham,
so he invented a costume of his own, founded upon Roman dress, but
different from oriental or contemporary clothes. The Scripture
illustrations of Raphael most familiar to you may probably be his
cartoon designs for tapestry in the South Kensington Museum, which
were bought by Charles I. In these you can see what is meant about
the clothes, but you will not be surprised at them, because the same
have been adopted by the majority of Bible illustrators ever since
the days of Raphael. His pictures became so popular that it was thought
whatever he did must be right. The dress was a mere detail in his work,
but it was easy to copy and has been copied persistently from that
day to this. It is curious to think that the long white robes, which
Christ wears in the illustrations of our present-day Sunday School
books and other religious publications, are all due to imitation of
Raphael's designs.

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

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

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

With far less power than Leonardo, one of his imitators, Bernardino
Luini, painted pictures of such charm and simplicity that almost
everyone finds them delightful. If you could see his picture of the
angels bearing St. Catherine, robed in red, through the air to her
last resting-place upon the hill, you would feel the beauty and peace
of his gentle nature revealed in his art. But the spell of Leonardo
vanished with the death of those who had known him in life. The last
of his pupils died in 1550, and with him the Leonardo school of painting
came to an end.

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

In 1550 the impetus given to painting in Italy by the Renaissance was
drawing to an end. The great central epoch may be said to have
terminated in Tuscany a few years after the deaths of Leonardo and
Raphael in 1520. But we have said nothing yet of Venice, where, in
1520, artists whose visions and whose record of them were to be as
wonderful as those of Botticelli and Raphael, were as yet sleeping
in their cradles.



CHAPTER VII

THE RENAISSANCE IN VENICE


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

The Venetians were a proud and successful people, wealthier by virtue
of their great sea-trade than the citizens of Florence or of any other
town in Italy; their foremost men lived in great high-roomed palaces,
richly furnished, and decorated with pictures of a sumptuous pageantry.
But the Venetians were not merely a luxurious people. The poetry of
the lagoons, and the glory of the sunset skies, imparted to their lives
the wealth of a rare romance. Even in Venice to-day, now that the
steamers have spoilt the peace of the canals and the old orange-winged
sailing-boats no longer crowd against the quays, the dreamy atmosphere
of the city retains its spell.

Few artists ever felt and expressed this atmosphere better than
Giorgione, the painter of the first of our Venetian pictures. He was
one of the great artists of the Renaissance who died young, ten years
before Raphael, but their greatness is scarcely comparable. Like
Raphael, Giorgione was precocious, but unlike him he painted in a style
of his own that from the very beginning owed little to any one else.
He saw beauty in his own way, and was not impelled to see it differently
by coming into contact with other artists, however great. Unlike
Raphael, he was not a great master of the art of composition. In the
little picture before us the grouping of the figures is not what may
be called inevitable, like that in the 'Knight's Dream.' It seems as
though one day when Giorgione was musing on the beauties of the world,
and the blemishes of life, even life in Venice, he thought of some
far-off time beyond the dawn of history when all men lived in peace.
The ancient Greeks called this perfect time the 'Golden Age' of the
world. In many ways their idea of it tallies with the description of
the Garden of Eden, and they were always contrasting with it the 'Iron
Age' in which they thought they lived, as the Hebrews contrasted the
life of Adam and Eve in the garden with their own. As the fancy flashed
across Giorgione's mind, perchance he saw some just king of whom his
subjects felt no fear seated upon a throne like this. A dreamy youth
plays soft music to him, and another hands him flowers and fruit. Books
lie strewn upon the steps, and a child stands in a reverent attitude
before him. Wild and domestic animals live together in harmony; the
ground is carpeted with flowers; all is peaceful. Such a subject suited
the temperament of Giorgione, and he painted it in the romantic mood
in which it was conceived. Nothing could be further from everyday life
than this little scene. It has the unlaboured look that suits such
an improvised subject. Of course no one knows for certain that this
is a picture of the Golden Age, and you may make up any story you like
about it for yourselves. That is one of the charms of the picture.
It has been said that the throned one is celebrating his birthday,
and that his little heir is reciting him a birthday ode accompanied
by music. You may believe this if you like, but how do you then account
for the leopard and the peacock living in such harmony together?

[Illustration: "THE GOLDEN AGE"
From the picture by Giorgione, in the National Gallery, London]

Giorgione painted a few sacred pictures and many mythological scenes,
besides several very beautiful portraits of dreamy-looking poets and
noblemen. But even when he illustrated some well-known tale, he did
not care to seize upon the dramatic moment that gives the crisis of
the story, as Giotto would have done, and as the painter of our next
picture does. Violent action did not attract him. Whatever the subject,
if it were possible to group the figures together at a moment when
they were beautifully doing nothing, he did so. But he liked still
more to paint ideal scenes from his own fancy, where young people sit
in easy attitudes upon the grass, conversing for an instant in the
intervals of the music they make upon pipes and guitar. He was the
first artist, so far as I know, to paint these half real, half imaginary
scenes, of which our picture may be one. In all of them landscape bears
an important part, and in some the background has become the picture
and completely subordinated the figures. In this little 'Golden Age'
the landscape is quiet in tone, tinged with melancholy, romantic, to
suit the mood of the figures. Its colouring, though rich, is subdued,
more like the tints of autumn than the fresh hues of spring. The
Venetians excelled in their treatment of colour. They lived in an
uncommon world of it. Giorgione saw his picture in his mind's eye as
a blaze of rich colour; he did not see the figures sharply outlined
against a remote background, as are the three in Raphael's 'Knight's
Dream.' That does not mean that Raphael, like the artist of the Richard
II. diptych, failed to make his figures look solid, but that he saw
beauty most in the outlines of the body and the curves of the drapery,
irrespective of colour, whereas to Giorgione's eye outline was nothing
without colour and light and shade. The body of the King upon the throne
in our picture is massed against the background, but there is no
definite outline to divide it from the tree behind. In this respect
Giorgione was curiously modern for his date, as we shall see in pictures
of a still later time.

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

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

But in 1518, eight years after Giorgione's death, another great
innovating master was born at Venice, Tintoret by name, who in his
turn opened new visions of the world to the artists of his day. While
painting in the rest of Italy was becoming mannered and sentimental,
lacking in power and originality, Tintoret in Venice was creating
masterpieces with a very fury of invention and a corresponding
swiftness of hand. He was his own chief teacher. Outside his studio
he wrote upon a sign to inform or attract pupils--'The design of
Michelangelo and the colouring of Titian.' Profound study of the works
of these two masters is manifest in his own. Like Michelangelo he worked
passionately rather than with the sober competence of Titian. His
thronging visions, his multitudinous and often vast canvases are a
surpassing record. Prolonged study of the human form had given to him,
as to Michelangelo, a wonderful power of drawing groups of figures.
His mere output was marvellous, and much of it on a grandiose scale.
He covered hundreds of square feet of ceilings and walls in Venice
with paintings of subjects that had been painted hundreds of times
before; but each as he treated it was a new thing. Centuries of
tradition governed the arrangement of such subjects as the Crucifixion
and the Last Judgment, so that even the free painters of the Renaissance
had deviated but little from it. In Tintoret the freedom of the
Renaissance reached its height. For him tradition had no fetters. When
he painted a picture of Paradise for the Doge's Palace it measured
84 by 34 feet, and contained literally hundreds of figures. His
imagination was so prolific that he seems never to have repeated a
figure. New forms, new postures, new groupings flowed from his brush
in exhaustless multitude.

It is necessary to go to Venice to see Tintoret's most famous works,
still remaining upon the walls of the churches and buildings for which
they were painted, or in which they have been brought together. But
the National Gallery is fortunate in possessing one relatively small
canvas of his which shows some of his finest qualities. The subject
of St. George slaying the dragon was not a new one. It had been painted
by Raphael and by several of the earlier Venetian painters, but
Tintoret's treatment of it was all his own. In the earlier pictures,
the princess, for whose sake St. George fights the dragon, was a little
figure in the background fleeing in terror. St. George occupied the
chief place, as he does upon the back of our gold sovereigns, where
the princess has been left out altogether. Tintoret makes her flee,
but she is running towards the spectator, and so, in her flight, stands
out the most conspicuous figure. One of the victims that the dragon
has slain lies behind her. In the distance St. George fights with all
his might against the powers of evil, whilst 'the splendour of God'
blazes in the sky. There is a vividness and power about the picture
that proclaims the hand of Tintoret. In contrast to Giorgione he liked
to paint figures in motion, yet he was as typical an outcome of Venetian
romance as the earlier painter. Nothing could be more like a fairy-tale
than this picture. It was no listless dreamer that painted it, but
one with a gorgeous imagination and yet a full knowledge of the world,
enabling him to give substance to his visions. Tintoret's stormy
landscapes are as beautiful in their way as Giorgione's dreamy ones,
and each carries out the mood of the rest of the picture. This one
is full of power, mystery, and romance. Tintoret had modelled his
colouring upon Titian and was by nature a great colourist, but too
often he used bad materials that have turned black with the lapse of
years. In this picture you see his colour as it was meant to be, rich,
and boldly harmonious. The vivid red and blue of the princess's clothes
are a daring combination with the brilliant green of the landscape,
but Tintoret knew what he was doing, and the result is superb. With
his death in 1594 the best of Venetian painting came to an end.

[Illustration: ST. GEORGE DESTROYING THE DRAGON
From the picture by Tintoretto, in the National Gallery, London]

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

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



CHAPTER VIII

THE RENAISSANCE IN THE NORTH


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

In Germany, as in Italy, men speedily awoke to the new life, but the
awakening took a different form. We find a different quality in the
art of the north. Italian spontaneity and child-like joy is absent;
so, too, the sense of physical beauty, universal in Italy. You remember
how the successors of the Van Eycks in Flanders painted excellent
portraits and small carefully studied pictures of scriptural events
in wonderful detail. They were a strictly practical people whose
painting of stuffs, furs, jewellery, and architecture was marvellously
minute and veracious. But they were not a handsome race, and their
models for saints and virgins seem to have been the people that came
handiest and by no means the best looking. Thus the figures in their
pictures lack personal charm, though the painting is usually full of
vigour, truth, and skill.

When Flemings began to make tours in Italy and saw the pictures of
Raphael, in whom grace was native, they fell in love with his work
and returned to Flanders to try and paint as he did. But to them grace
was not God-given, and in their attempt to achieve it, their pictures
became sentimental and postured, and the naive simplicity and everyday
truth, so attractive in the works of the earlier school, perished.
The influence of the Van Eycks had not been confined to Flanders.
Artists in Germany had been profoundly affected. They learnt the new
technique of painting from the pupils of the Van Eycks in the fifteenth
century. Like them, too, they discarded gold backgrounds and tried
to paint men and women as they really looked, instead of in the old
conventional fashion of the Middle Ages. Schools of painting grew up
in several of the more important German towns, till towards the end
of the fifteenth century two German artists were born, Albert Durer
at Nuremberg in 1471, and Hans Holbein the younger at Augsburg in 1497,
who deserve to rank with the greatest painters of the time in any
country.

Durer is commonly regarded as the most typically German of artists,
though his father was Hungarian, and as a matter of fact he stands
very much alone. His pictures and engravings are 'long, long thoughts.'
Every inch of the surface is weighted with meaning. His cast of mind,
indeed, was more that of a philosopher than that of an artist. In a
drawing which Durer made of himself in the looking-glass at the age
of thirteen, we see a thoughtful little face gazing out upon the world
with questioning eyes. Already the delicacy of the lines is striking,
and the hair so beautifully finished that we can anticipate the later
artist whose pictures are remarkable for so surprising a wealth of
detail. The characteristics of the Flemish School, carefulness of
workmanship and indifference to the physical beauty of the model, to
which the Italians were so sensitive, continued in his work. For
thoroughness his portraits can be compared with those of John van Eyck.
In the National Gallery his father lives again for us in a picture
of wonderful power and insight.

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

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

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

In England, owing to the effects of the Wars of the Roses, good painters
no longer existed. A century of neglect had destroyed English painting.
Henry VIII., therefore, had to look to foreign lands for his court
painter, and where was he to come from? France was the nearest country,
but the French King was in the same predicament as Henry. He obtained
his painters from Italy, and at one time secured the services of
Leonardo da Vinci; but Italy was a long way off and it would suit Henry
better to get a painter from Flanders or Germany if it were possible.
So Erasmus advised Holbein to go to England, and gave him a letter
to Sir Thomas More. On this first visit in 1526, he painted the
portraits of More and his whole family, and of many other distinguished
men; but it was not till his second visit in 1532 that he became Henry
VIII.'s court painter. In this capacity he had to decorate the walls
of the King's palaces, design the pageantry of the Royal processions,
and paint the portraits of the King's family. Although Holbein could
do and did do anything that was demanded of him, what he liked best
was to paint portraits. Romantic subjects such as the fight of St.
George and the dragon, or an idyll of the Golden Age, little suited
the artistic leanings of a German. To a German or a Fleming the world
of facts meant more than the world of imagination; the painting of
men and women as they looked in everyday life was more congenial to
them than the painting of saints and imaginary princesses.

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

[Illustration: EDWARD, PRINCE OF WALES, AFTERWARDS EDWARD VI.
From the picture by Holbein, in the Collection of the Earl of Yarborough,
London]

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

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

  Child, of thy Father's virtues be thou heir,
  Since none on earth with him may well compare;
  Hardly to him might Heaven yield a son
  By whom his father's fame should be out-done.
  So, if thou equal such a mighty sire,
  No higher can the hopes of man aspire;
  If thou surpass him, thou shalt honoured be
  O'er all that ruled before, or shall rule after thee.[3]

[Footnote 3: Translated by Miss K. K. Radford.]

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

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

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

In the Royal Collection at Windsor there are a number of these portrait
drawings of great interest to us, since many of the portraits painted
from them have been lost. As a record of remarkable people of that
day they are invaluable, for in a few powerful strokes Holbein could
set down the likeness of any face. But when he came to paint the portrait
he was not satisfied with a mere likeness. He painted too 'his habit
as he lived.' Erasmus is shown reading in his study, the merchant in
his office surrounded by the tokens of his business, and Henry VIII.
standing firmly with his legs wide apart as if bestriding a hemisphere.
But I think that you will like this fine portrait of the infant prince
best of all, and that is why I have chosen it in preference to a likeness
of any of the statesmen, scholars, queens, and courtiers who played
a great part in their world, but are not half so charming to look upon
as little Prince Edward.



CHAPTER IX

REMBRANDT


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

When peace came at last, there was a remarkable outburst of painting
in each of the two countries. Rubens was the master painter in Flanders.
Of him and of his pupil Van Dyck we shall hear more in the next chapter.
In Holland there was a yet more wide-spread activity. Indomitable
perseverance had been needed for so small a country to throw off the
rule of a great power like Spain. The long struggle seems to have called
into being a kindred spirit manifesting itself in every branch of the
national life. Dutch merchants, Dutch fishermen, and Dutch colonizers
made themselves felt as a force throughout the world. The spirit by
which Dutchmen achieved political success was pre-eminent in the
qualities which brought them to the front rank in art. There were
literally hundreds of painters in Holland, few of them bad. That does
not mean that all Dutchmen had the magical power of vision belonging
to the greatest artists, the power that transforms the objects of daily
view into things of rare beauty, or the imagination of a Tintoret that
creates and depicts scenes undreamt of before by man. Many painted
the things around them as they looked to a commonplace mind, with no
glamour and no transforming touch. When we see their pictures, our
eyes are not opened to new effects. We continue to see and to feel
as we did before, but we admire the honest work, the pleasant colour,
and the efficiency of the painters. In default of Raphaels, Giorgiones,
and Titians, we should be pleased to hang upon our walls works such
as those. But towering above the other artists of Holland, great and
small, was one Dutchman, Rembrandt, who holds his own with the greatest
of the world.

He was born in 1606, the son of a miller at Leyden, who gave him the
best teaching there to be had. Soon he became a good painter of
likenesses, and orders for portraits began to stream in upon him from
the citizens of his native town. These he executed well, but his heart
was not wrapped up in the portrayal of character as John Van Eyck's
had been. Neither was it in the drawing of delicate and beautiful lines
that he wished to excel, as did Holbein and Raphael. He was the
dramatist of painting, a man who would rather paint some one person
ten times over in the character of somebody else, high priest, king,
warrior, or buffoon, than once thoroughly in his own. But when people
ordered portraits of themselves they wanted good likenesses, and
Rembrandt was happy to supply them. At first it was only when he was
working at home to please himself that he indulged his picturesque
gift. He painted his father, his mother, and himself over and over
again, but in each picture he tried some experiment with expression,
or a new pose, or a strange effect of lighting, transforming the general
aspect of the original. His own face did as well as any other to
experiment with; none could be offended with the result, and it was
always to be had without paying a model's price for the sitting. Thus
all through his life, from twenty-two to sixty-three, we can follow
the growth of his art with the transformation of his body, in the long
series of pictures of his single self.

More than any artist that had gone before him, Rembrandt was fascinated
by the problem of light. The brightest patch of white on a canvas will
look black if you hold it up against the sky. How, then, can the fire
of sunshine be depicted at all? Experience shows that it can only be
suggested by contrast with shadows almost black. But absolutely black
shadows would not be beautiful. Fancy a picture in which the shadows
were as black as well-polished boots! Rembrandt had to find out how
to make his dark shadows rich, and how to make a picture, in which
shadow predominated, a beautiful thing in itself, a thing that would
decorate a wall as well as depict the chosen subject. That was no easy
problem, and he had to solve it for himself. It was his life's work.
He applied his new idea in the painting of portraits and in subject
pictures, chiefly illustrative of dramatic incidents in Bible history,
for the same quality in him that made him love the flare of light,
made him also love the dramatic in life.

Rembrandt's mother was a Protestant, who brought up her son with a
thorough knowledge of the Scripture stories, and it was the Bible that
remained to the end of his life one of the few books he had in his
house. The dramatic situations that he loved were there in plenty.
Over and over again he painted the Nativity of Christ. Sometimes the
Baby is in a tiny Dutch cradle with its face just peeping out, and
the shepherds adoring it by candle-light. Often he painted scenes from
the Old Testament; such as Isaac blessing Esau and Jacob, who are shown
as two little Dutch children. Simeon receiving the Infant Christ in
the Temple is a favourite subject, because of the varied effects that
could be produced by the gloom of the church and the light on the figure
of the High Priest. These, and many other beautiful pictures, were
studies painted for the increase of the artist's own knowledge, not
orders from citizens of Leyden, or of Amsterdam, to which capital he
moved in 1630. At the same time he was coming more and more into demand
as a portrait-painter. These were days in which he made money fast,
and spent it faster. He had a craving to surround himself with beautiful
works of art and beautiful objects of all kinds that should take him
away from the dunes and canals into a world of romance within his own
house. He disliked the stiff Dutch clothes and the great starched white
ruffs worn by the women of the day. He had to paint them in his
portraits; but when he painted his beautiful wife, Saskia, she is
decked in embroideries and soft shimmering stuffs. Wonderful clasps
and brooches fasten her clothes. Her hair is dressed with gold chains,
and great strings of pearls hang from her neck and arms. Rembrandt
makes the light sparkle on the diamonds and glimmer on the pearls.
Sometimes he adorns her with flowers and paints her as Flora. Again,
she is fastening a jewel in her hair, and Rembrandt himself stands
by with a rope of pearls for her to don. All these jewels and rich
materials belonged to him. He also bought antique marbles, pictures
by Giorgione and Titian, engravings by Durer, and four volumes of
Raphael's drawings, besides many other beautiful works of art.

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

In 1642 he received an order to paint a large picture of one of the
companies of the City Guard of Amsterdam. According to the custom of
the day, each person portrayed in the picture contributed his equal
share towards the cost of the whole, and in return expected his place
in it to be as conspicuous as that of anybody else. Such groups were
common in Holland in the seventeenth century. The towns were proud
of their newly won liberties, and the town dignitaries liked to see
themselves painted in a group to perpetuate remembrance of their tenure
of office. But Rembrandt knew that it was inartistic to give each and
every person in a large group an equal or nearly equal prominence,
although such was the custom to which even Franz Hals' brush had yielded
full compliance. For his magnificent picture of the City Guard,
Rembrandt chose the moment when the drums had just been sounded as
an order for the men to form into line behind their chief officers'
march-forth. They are coming out from a dark building into the full
sunshine of the street. All in a bustle, some look at their fire-arms,
some lift their lances, and some cock their guns. The sunshine falls
full upon the captain and the lieutenant beside him, but the background
is so dark that several of the seventeen figures are almost lost to
view. A few of the heads are turned in such a way that only half the
face is seen, and no doubt as likenesses some of them were deficient.
Rembrandt was not thinking of the seventeen men individually. He
conceived the picture as a whole, with its strong light and shade,
the picturesque crossing lines of the lances, and the natural array
of the figures. By wiseacres, the picture was said to represent a scene
at night, lit by torch-light, and was actually called the 'Night
Watch,' though the shadow of the captain's hand is of the size of the
hand itself, and not greater, being cast by the sun. Later generations
have valued it as one of the unsurpassed pictures in the world; but
it is said that contemporary Dutch feeling waxed high against Rembrandt
for having dealt in this supremely artistic manner with an order for
seventeen portraits, and that he suffered severely in consequence.
Certainly he had fewer orders. The prosperous class abandoned him.
His pictures remained unsold, and his revenue dwindled.

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

It is certain, too, that he had been almost childishly reckless in
expenditure on artistic and beautiful things which were unnecessary
to his art and beyond his means, although those for a while had been
abundant. At the time of the failure of the 'Night Watch,' his wife
Saskia died, leaving him their little son, Titus, a beautiful child.
Through ever-darkening days, for the next fifteen years, he continued
to paint with increasing power. It is to this later period that our
picture of the 'Man in Armour' belongs.

[Illustration: A MAN IN ARMOUR
From the picture by Rembrandt, in the Corporation Art Gallery, Glasgow]

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

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

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

In the other process, the design is ploughed into a metal plate, the
lines being made deep enough to hold ink, and varying in width according
to the strength desired in the print. You then fill the grooves with
ink, wiping the flat surface clean, so that when the paper is pressed
against the plate and into the furrows, the lines print black, out
of the furrows, and the rest remains white.

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

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

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

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

In his old age he received one more large order from a group of six
drapers of Amsterdam for their portraits. It has been said that the
lesson of the miscalled 'Night Watch' had been branded into his soul
by misfortune. What is certain is that, while in this picture he
purposely returned to the triumphs of portraiture of his youth, he
did not give up the artistic ideals of his middle life. He gave his
sitters an equal importance in position and lighting, and at the same
time painted a picture artistically satisfying. Not one of the six
men could have had any fault to find with the way in which he was
portrayed. Each looks equally prominent in vivid life. Yet they are
not a row of six individual men, but an organic group held together
you hardly know how. At last you realize that all but one are looking
at you. _You_ are the unifying centre that brings the whole picture
together, the bond without which, metaphorically speaking, it would
fall to pieces.

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER X

PETER DE HOOGH AND CUYP


Let us now turn from the splendid gloom of Rembrandt's 'Knight in
Armour,' to delight in this beautiful little interior of a Dutch house
by Peter de Hoogh. Still you see the prepossession for light, but for
more tempered rays and softer shadows. The sunshine is diffused by
the yellow curtains throughout the room. The old lady need not fear
its revelations, to be sure, for it is Holland--she knows that the
whole house has been duly scrubbed with soap and water. Dust and dirt
are banished. It is a cloudless day and dry under foot, otherwise the
little boy would have worn clogs over his shoes, and you might see
them outside. Mud on the polished stones of the passage would have
ruffled the housewife's calm. As it is, we can see she has had no worries
this morning. She has donned her fresh red dress and clean white apron,
and will soon be seated to prepare the vegetables and fruit that are
being brought her. Perhaps they are a present from the old lady in
the house over the way, who from her front door watches the child
delivering the gift.

[Illustration: AN INTERIOR
From the picture by Pieter de Hoogh, in the Wallace Collection, London]

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

This atmosphere of Dutch life, peaceful, home-loving, and competent,
is rendered by Peter de Hoogh in most of his pictures. It is not the
atmosphere of Rembrandt's art, yet he never could have painted thus
except for Rembrandt. The same love of sunlight and shadows prevailed
with Peter de Hoogh, and it was no less the aim of his art to attain
mastery over the painting of light, but light diffused and reflected.
He loved to show the sunlight shining through some coloured substance,
such as this yellow curtain, which scatters its brightness and lets
it fall more evenly throughout the room. He never painted such extreme
contrasts as make manifest Rembrandt's power. Rembrandt's light had
been so vivid that it seemed to overwhelm colours in a dazzling
brilliancy. Peter de Hoogh's lights are just strong enough to reveal
the colours in a milder illumination. In our picture the sunshine
diffused by the yellow curtains mingles with the red of the woman's
dress and creates a rich orange. Little does she know how well her
dress looks. But it was only after incessant study of the way in which
Rembrandt had mastered the whole range from light to dark, that Peter
de Hoogh became able to paint as he did within his narrower scale,
abridged at both extremes.

Begin with the room, then the passage, then the farther hall, then
the highway open to the unseen sky above, then the house-front beyond
it, and the hall beyond the lady in the neighbouring doorway; there
are at least four distinct distances in this picture each differently
lighted, and the several effects worked out with scrupulous
painstaking fidelity. It is worth your while, with your own eyes rather
than with many words of mine, to search out on the original all these
beautifully varied gradations. In many of his pictures one part is
lighted from the sunlit street, and another from a closed court.
Sometimes his figures stand in an open courtyard, whilst behind is
a paved passage leading into the house. All his subjects are of the
domestic Dutch life of the seventeenth century, but the arrangement
in rooms, passages, courtyards, and enclosed gardens admitted of much
variation. We never feel that the range of subjects is limited, for
the light transforms each into a scene of that poetic beauty which
it was Peter de Hoogh's great gift to discern, enjoy, and record.

The painting is delicate and finished, meant to be seen from near at
hand. It is always the room that interests him, as much as the people
in it. The painting of the window with its little coats of arms,
transparent yet diffusing the light, is exquisitely done. A chair with
the cushion upon it, just like that, occurs again and again in his
pictures, the cushion being used as a welcome bit of colour in the
scheme. Most of all, the floors, whether paved with stone as in this
picture, or with brick as in the courtyards, are painted with the
delightful precise care that the Van Eycks gave to their accessories.
In Peter de Hoogh's vision of the world there is the same appreciation
of the objects of daily use as was displayed by the fifteenth-century
Flemish painters whenever their sacred subjects gave them opportunity.
In the seventeenth century it was more congenial to the Flemish and
Dutch temperament to paint their own country, and domestic scenes from
their own lives, than pictures of devotion.

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

The Dutchman of the seventeenth century loved his house and his garden,
and every inch of the country in which he lived, rescued as it had
been from invasions by armies and the sea. Many painters never left
Holland, and found beauty enough there to fill well-spent lives in
painting its flatness beneath over-arching clear or clouded skies.
Although the earlier Flemings had had a great love of landscape, they
had not conceived it as a subject suitable for a whole picture, but
only for a background. In the sixteenth century the figures gradually
get smaller and less important, and towards the end of the century
disappear. As the song says, 'a very different thing by far' is painting
a landscape background and painting a whole landscape picture. Before
the end of the century Rubens painted some wonderful landscapes, and
he was soon followed by a great number of very fine landscape painters
in Holland. Cuyp was one of many.

In a Dutch landscape we cannot expect the rich colouring of Italy.
The colouring of Holland is low toned, and tender gradations lead away
to the low and level horizon. The canals are sluggish and grey, and
the clouds often heavy and dark. We saw how the brilliant skies and
pearly buildings of Venice made Venetian painters the gayest
colourists of the world. So the Dutch painters took their sober scale
of landscape colouring as it was dictated to them by the infinitely
varied yet sombre loveliness of their own land. In the great flat
expanses of field, intersected by canals and dotted with windmills,
the red brick roof of a water-mill may look 'loud,' like an aggressive
hat. But the shadows cast by the clouds change every moment, and in
flat country where there is less to arrest the eye the changes of tone
are more marked.

In an etching, Rembrandt could leave a piece of white paper for the
spot of highest sunlight, and carry out all the gradations of tone
in black and white, until he reached the spot of darkest shadow. A
painted landscape he indicated in the same way by varying shades of
dull brown. In all of them you seem to feel the interposition of the
air between you and the distant horizon at which you are looking. What
else is there? At each point in the picture the air modifies the
distinctness with which you can see the objects. This consciousness
of air in a picture of low horizon is a very difficult thing to describe
and explain. We know when it is there and when it is not. It has to
be seen, to be enjoyed, and recorded. Holbein painted Edward VI.
standing, so to speak, in a vacuum. Every line of his face is sharply
defined. In real life air softens all lines, so that even the edge
of a nose in profile is not actually seen as a sharp outline. The figures
in Richard II.'s picture stand in the most exhausted vacuum, but Hubert
van Eyck had already begun to render the vision or illusion of air
in his 'Three Maries.' In this respect he had learnt more than the
early painters of the Italian Renaissance; but Raphael and the
Venetians, especially Giorgione and Titian, sometimes bathed their
figures in a luminous golden atmosphere with the sun shining through
it.

The Dutch painters carried this still further, particularly in their
pictures of interiors and landscapes. It is the atmosphere in the rooms
that makes Peter de Hoogh's portrayal of interiors so wonderful. In
our little picture the light coming through the window makes the air
almost golden. When this painting of air and tone is set forth by the
exquisite colour of Peter de Hoogh, you see this kind of Dutch
achievement at its best. Cuyp's love of sunshine is rare among Dutch
landscape painters. He suffuses his skies with a golden haze that
bathes his kin and kine alike in evening light. In our picture you
can feel the great height of the sky and the depth of the air between
the foreground and the horizon. The rendering of space is excellent.
But Cuyp has not been content with the features of his native Holland.
He has put an imaginary mountain in the distance and a great hill in
the foreground. It is certainly not a view that Cuyp ever saw in Holland
with his own eyes. He thought that the mountain's upright lines were
good to break the flatness; and the finished composition, if beautiful,
is its own excuse for being.

[Illustration: LANDSCAPE WITH CATTLE
From the picture by Cuyp, in the Dulwich Gallery]

Rembrandt is an exception to all rules, but most of the Dutch painters
did not allow themselves these excursions within their studios to
foreign scenes. They faithfully depicted their own flat country as
they saw it, and added neither hills nor mountains. But they varied
the lighting to express their own moods. Ruysdael's sombre tone befits
the man who struggled with poverty all his life, and died in a hospital
penniless. Cuyp is always sunny. In his pictures, cattle browse at
their ease, and shepherds lounge contented on the grass. He was a
painter of portraits and of figure subjects as well as of landscapes,
and his little groups of men and cattle are always beautifully drawn.
Ruysdael, Hobbema, and many others were landscape painters only, and
some had their figures put in by other artists. Often they did without
them, but in the landscapes of Cuyp, cows generally occupy the
prominent position. The black and white cow in our picture is a fine
creature, and nothing could be more harmonious in colour than the brown
cow and the brown jacket of the herdsman.

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

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



CHAPTER XI

VAN DYCK


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

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

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

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

Rubens's great ceremonial paintings, containing numerous figures and
commemorating historical scenes in honour of his Royal patrons, were
executed by his own hands, or by the hands he taught and guided, with
great skill and speed. He painted also beautiful portraits of his wife
and family, and pictures of his own medieval castle, which he restored
and inhabited during the last years of his life, with views of the
country stretching out in all directions. He liked a comfortable life
and comfortable-looking people. He painted his own wives as often as
Rembrandt painted Saskia; both were plump enough to make our memories
recur with pleasure to the slenderer figures preferred by Botticelli
and the painters of his school.

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

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

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

[Illustration: WILLIAM II. OF ORANGE
From the picture by Van Dyck, in the Hermitage Gallery, Leningrad]

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

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

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

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

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

Queen Henrietta Maria was painted even more often than the King. She
is always dressed in some bright shimmering satin; sometimes in yellow,
like the sleeve of William II.'s dress, sometimes in the purest white.
She looks very lovely in the pictures, but lovelier still are the groups
of her children. Even James II. was once a bewitching little creature
in frocks with a skull-cap on his head. His sister Mary, aged six,
in a lace dress, with her hands folded in front of her, looks very
good and grown-up. When she became older, though not even then really
grown-up, she married the William of Orange of our picture. He came
from Holland and stayed at the English Court, as a boy of twelve, and
it was then that Van Dyck painted this portrait of him.

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

Van Dyck's patrons in England, other than the King, were mostly
noblemen and courtiers. They lived in the great houses, which had been
built in many parts of the country during the reigns of Elizabeth and
her successors. The rooms were spacious, with high walls that could
well hold the large canvases of Van Dyck. Sometimes a special gallery
was built to contain the family portraits, and Van Dyck received a
commission to paint them all. Often, several copies of the same picture
were ordered at one time to be sent as presents to friends and relations.
Usually the artist painted but one himself; the rest were copies by
his assistants.

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

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



CHAPTER XII

VELASQUEZ


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

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

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

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

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

Velasquez came to Court in the year in which Charles I., as Prince
of Wales, went to Madrid to woo the sister of Philip IV. He painted
her portrait twice, and made an unfinished sketch of Charles, which
has unfortunately been lost. Five years afterwards Rubens was a visitor
at the Spanish Court on a diplomatic errand. The painters took a fancy
to one another, and corresponded for the remainder of their lives.
They must have talked long about their art, and the elder painter,
Rubens, is thought to have promoted in Velasquez a desire to see the
great treasures of Italy. At all events we find that in the next year
he has obtained permission and money from Philip to undertake the
journey, which kept him away from Spain for two years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Velasquez's power with his brush lay in depicting vividly a scene that
he saw; thus in portraiture he was at his best. He knew how to pose
his figures to perfection, so as to make the expression of their
character a true pictorial subject. In our picture it is on high ground
that the hoofs of the pony of Don Balthazar Carlos tread. So to raise
the little Prince above the eye of the spectator was a good stroke,
suggesting an importance in the gallant young rider. The boy's erect
figure, too, firmly holding his baton as a king might hold a sceptre,
and the well-stirruped foot, are all perfect posing. Velasquez does
not give him distinction in the manner of Van Dyck, by delicate drawing
and gentle grace, but in a sturdier fashion, with speed and pose and
a fluttering sash in the wind. All the portraits of this lad are full
of charm. He was heir to the throne, but died in boyhood.

[Illustration: DON BALTHAZAR CARLOS
From the picture by Velasquez, in the Prado Museum, Madrid]

Velasquez paid another visit to Italy, twenty years after his first,
for the purpose of buying more pictures to adorn Philip's palaces.
Again we find him in Venice, where he bought two Tintorets and a
Veronese, and again he made a long stay in Rome, this time to paint
the portrait of the Pope. When he returned to Spain in 1651 he had
still nine years of work before him. There were portraits of Philip's
new Queen to be painted--a young girl in a most uncomfortable
dress--and portraits of her child, the Infanta Marguerita. Bewitching
are the pictures of this little princess at the ages of three, of four,
and of seven, with her fair hair tied in a bow at the side of her head,
and voluminous skirts of pink and silver. But sweetest of all is the
picture called 'The Maids of Honour' ('Les Meninas'), in which the
princess, aged about six, is being posed for her portrait. She is
petulant and tired, and two of her handmaidens are cajoling her to
stand still. Her two dwarfs and a big dog have been brought to amuse
her, and the King and Queen, reflected in a mirror at the end of the
room, stand watching the scene. Velasquez himself, with his easel and
brushes, is at the side, painting. The picture perpetuates for
centuries a moment of palace life. In that transitory instant,
Velasquez took his vivid impression of the scene, and has translated
his impression into paint. Everything is simple and natural as can
be. The ordinary light of day falls upon the princess, but does not
penetrate to the ceiling of the lofty room, which is still in shadow.
All seem to have come together haphazard without being fitted into
the canvas. There is little detail, and the whole effect seems produced
by the simplest means; yet in reality the skill involved is so great
that artists to-day spend weeks copying the picture, in the endeavour
to learn something of the secret of Velasquez.

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

The pictures painted in this his latest style are few, for the court
duties heaped upon him left too little time. Maria Theresa, the sister
of Don Balthazar Carlos, was engaged to be married to Louis XIV., King
of France. The marriage took place on the border of France and Spain,
and Velasquez was in charge of all the ceremonies. The Princess
travelled with a cavalcade eighteen miles long, and we can imagine
what work all the arrangements involved. The marriage over, the ever
loyal Velasquez returned to Madrid, but he returned only to die.



CHAPTER XIII

REYNOLDS AND THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY


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

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

Why this nation has made no advance hitherto in painting and sculpture,
it is hard to say.... You are generous enough to wish, and sanguine
enough to foresee, that art shall one day flourish in England. I, too,
much wish, but can hardly extend my hopes so far.

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

In his engravings Hogarth satirised the lives of all classes of the
society of his day. When we look at them we live again in
eighteenth-century London, and walk in streets known to fame though
now destroyed, thronged with men and women, true to life.

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

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

The eighteenth century was a time when politicians and men of letters
had the habit of gathering in the coffee-houses of London--forerunners
of the clubs of to-day. Conversation was valued as one of life's best
enjoyments, and the varied society of actors, authors, and politicians,
in which it flourished best, could only be obtained in the town. To
the most distinguished circle of that kind in London, our painter
Reynolds belonged.

In the eighteenth century, society had also begun to divide its time
in modern fashion between town and country. Many of the large country
houses of to-day, and nearly all the landscape-gardened parks, belong
to that date. Nevertheless it was a time of great artificiality of
life. The ladies had no short country skirts, and none of the freedom
to which we are accustomed. In London they wore long powdered curls
and rouged, and in the country too they did not escape from the
artificiality of fashion. Indeed, their great desire seems to have
been to get away from everything natural and spontaneous. The
artificial poetry of that time deals with the patch-boxes and
powder-puffs of the fashionable dames of the town, and with nymphs
and Dresden china shepherdesses in the country.

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

The pictures are pleasing to look at, although so artificial, and after
all it was only full-length portraits of ladies that Reynolds treated
in this way. They were a small part of his whole output. But he and
Velasquez worked in a totally different spirit. Velasquez made the
subject before him, however unpromising, striking because of its truth.
Reynolds liked to change it on occasion into something quite different,
for the sake of making a picture pretty. Nevertheless, his strength
lay in straightforward portraiture, and in the rendering of character.
His portraits of men, unlike those of women, are dignified, simple,
and restrained. His art was one long development till blindness
prevented him from working. Every year he attained more freedom and
naturalness in his pose and developed more power in his use of colour.

[Illustration: THE DUKE OF GLOUCESTER
From the picture by Sir Joshua Reynolds, in Trinity College, Cambridge]

Many would say that his loveliest achievements were portraits of
children, yet he did not attain the same freedom in his child poses
till late in life. You have all seen photographs, at any rate, of the
'Age of Innocence' and the 'Heads of Angels,' but this little picture
of the Duke of Gloucester, nephew of George III., will not be so
familiar. I wonder whether it reminds you of anything you know? It
reminds me of Van Dyck. The little duke stands with an air of importance
upon the hillside, which is raised above the eye of the spectator as
Velasquez raised the ground beneath the pony of Don Balthazar Carlos.
There is no mistake about the child being a simple English boy, with
a nice chubby face and ordinary straight fair hair. But he is a prince
and knows it. For the sake of having his picture painted, he poses
with an air of conscious dignity beyond his years. He sweeps his cloak
around him like any grown-up cavalier, and holds out a plumed hat and
walking stick in a lordly fashion. The child is consciously acting
the part of a grown-up person, which only emphasizes his childhood.
But the air of refinement and distinction in the picture comes straight
from Van Dyck. As you look at the portraits of the Duke of Gloucester
and William II. of Orange side by side, it may puzzle you to say which
is the more attractive. Van Dyck has painted the clothes in more detail.
A century later Reynolds has learnt to paint with dash, though not
with the mastery of Velasquez. The effect of the cloak of the little
Duke, its shimmering shades of mauve and pink, is inimitable. It tones
beautifully with the background, varying from dull green to brightest
yellow. The background happens to be sky, but it might as well have
been a curtain, as long as its bit of colour so set off the clothes
of the little Duke.

When Reynolds painted children he delighted in making them act parts.
Even in the 'Age of Innocence' the little girl is looking how very
very innocent. He painted one picture of a small boy, Master Crewe,
dressed to look like Henry VIII. in the style of Holbein. With broad
shoulders and a rich dress, he stands on his sturdy legs quite the
figure of Henry. But the face is one beam of boyish laughter, and on
the top of the little replica of the body of the corpulent monarch
the effect of the childish face is most entertaining.

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

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

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

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

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

Goldsmith, the author of the _Vicar of Wakefield_, wrote this character
'epitaph' for him:

  Here Reynolds is laid, and to tell you my mind,
  He has not left a wiser or better behind.
  His pencil was striking, resistless and grand;
  His manners were gentle, complying and bland;
  Still born to improve us in every part,
  His pencil our faces, his manners our heart.
  To coxcombs averse, yet most civilly steering
  When they judged without skill, he was still hard of hearing.
  When they talked of their Raphaels, Correggios and stuff,
  He shifted his trumpet and only took snuff.
  By flattery unspoiled ...

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



CHAPTER XIV

TURNER


I wonder which of you, if seeing this picture for the first time, will
realize that you are looking at the old familiar Thames? It would seem
rather to be some place unknown except in dreams, some phantasy of
the human spirit that we ourselves could never hope to see. And yet,
in fact, this is what Turner actually did see one evening as he was
sailing down the Thames to Greenwich with a party of friends. Suddenly
there loomed up before his eyes the great hull of the _Temeraire_,
famous in the fight against the fleet of Napoleon at Trafalgar, and
so full of memories of glorious battle, that it was always spoken of
by sailors as the _Fighting Temeraire_. At last, its work over as a
battleship, or even as a training-ship for cadets, dragged by a doughty
little steam-tug, it was headed for its last resting-place in the
Thames, to be broken up for old timber. As the _Temeraire_ hove in
sight through the mist, a fellow-painter said to Turner: 'Ah, what
a subject for a picture!' and so indeed it proved. The veteran ship,
for Turner, had a pathos like the passing of a veteran warrior to his
grave.

[Illustration: THE FIGHTING TEMERAIRE
From the picture by Turner, in the National Gallery, London]

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

It was in 1775, while Reynolds was at the height of his fame, that
Turner saw the light, born of obscure parents in an obscure house,
but with a gift of vision that compelled him to the palette and the
pencil his whole life long. Yet, when he was apprenticed to an architect
to learn architectural drawing, he had to be dismissed after two
periods of probation because of his absolute inability to learn the
theory of perspective or even the elements of geometry. But the time
was not far off when he was to become in his turn Professor of
Perspective at the Royal Academy.

The popular distaste, or unborn taste, for landscape, which had
prevented Gainsborough from following his natural bent, was changing
at last. The end of the eighteenth century saw the beginning of a return
to nature in art as well as in poetry. Some artists in the eastern
counties, older than Turner, were already spending their lives in the
not too lucrative painting of landscape. These men took for their
masters the seventeenth-century painters of Holland. Old Crome, so
called to distinguish him from his son, founded his art upon that of
Hobbema, and came so close to him in his early years that it is difficult
to distinguish their pictures. In the works of this 'Norwich School'
the wide horizons of the Dutch artists often occur. But there is a
brighter colour, a fresher green, recalling England rather than
Holland. Turner never felt the influence of the Dutch painters so
strongly as these artists did. Like Gainsborough, and many another
artist before him and since, Turner was to be dominated by the necessity
of making a living. At the end of the century a demand arose for
'Topographical Collections,' of views of places, selected and arranged
according to their neighbourhood. These were not necessarily fine
works of art, but they were required to be faithful records of places.
Topographical paintings, drawings, and prints took the place now
filled by the photograph and the postcard. Turner found employment
enough making water-colour sketches to be engraved for such
topographical publications. But sketches that might be mere hack-work
became under his fingers magically lovely. We may follow him to many
a corner of England, Wales, and Scotland, sketching architecture,
mountain, moor, mists, and lakes. His earliest sketches are rather
stiff and precise. But he developed with rapidity, and soon painted
them in tones of blue and grey, so soft that the stars and the horizons
merge into one lovely indefiniteness. Not till much later is there
a touch of brighter colour in them such as fires the 'Temeraire,' but
in all there is the same spirit of poetry. Turner longed to be a poet,
although he could hardly write a correct sentence even in prose. But
he was a poet in his outlook upon life; he seldom painted a scene exactly
as he saw it, but transfused it by an imaginative touch into what on
rare occasions, with perfect conjuncture of mist and weather, it might
possibly become. He gave extra height to church spires, or made
precipices steeper than they were, thus to render the impression of
the place more explicit than by strict copying of the facts. Yet he
could be minutely accurate in his rendering of all effects of sky,
cloud, and atmosphere when he chose.

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

Later in life, Turner travelled in France, Germany, and Italy. In
Venice his eyes were gladdened by the gorgeous colours above her
lagoons. Henceforth he makes his pictures blaze with hues scarcely
dared by painter before. But so great was his previous mastery of the
paler shades, that a few touches of brilliant colour could set his
whole canvas aflame. Even in the 'Temeraire,' the sunset occupies less
than half the picture. The cold colours of night have already fallen
on the ship, and there remains but a touch of red from the smoke of
the tug.

As Venice enriched his vision of colour, Rome stimulated him to paint
new subjects suggested by ancient history and mythology. He knew little
of Roman history or classical literature, yet enough to kindle his
imagination; witness his 'Rise and Fall of the Carthaginian Empire'
in the National Gallery. In these the figures are of no importance.
The pictures still are landscapes, but freed from the necessity of
being like any particular place. In work such as this, Turner had but
one predecessor, the French Claude Lorraine. While the Dutchmen of
the seventeenth century were painting their own country beautifully,
Claude was living in Rome, creating imaginary landscapes. He called
his pictures by the names of Scriptural incidents, and placed figures
in the foreground as small and unessential as those of Turner. These
classical landscapes, with their palaces and great flights of steps
leading down to some river's edge, and the sea in the distance covered
with boats carrying fantastic sails, never for a moment make the
impression of reality. But they are beautiful compositions, designed
to please the eye and stimulate the fancy, and are even attractive
by virtue of their novel aloofness from the actual world.

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

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

Turner painted still another kind of imaginary landscape, not in
rivalry with any one, but to please himself. Of course you all know
the story of Ulysses and the one-eyed giant, Polyphemus, in the
_Odyssey_ of Homer? Turner chose for his picture the moment when
Ulysses has escaped from the clutches of Polyphemus, and sailing away
in his boat, taunts the giant, who stands by the water's edge, cursing
Ulysses and bemoaning the loss of his sight. Turner has used this
mythical scene as an opportunity for creating stupendous rocks never
seen by a pair of mortal eyes, and a galley worthy of heroes or gods.
The picture is the purest phantasy, even more like a fairy-tale than
the story it illustrates. He has made the whole scene burn in the red
light of a flaming sunrise, redder by far than the sunset of the old
'Temeraire.'

The story is told of a gentleman who, looking at a picture of Turner's,
said to him, 'I never saw a sunset like that.' 'No, but don't you wish
you could?' replied Turner. That is what we feel about the sunrise
in the picture of Ulysses and Polyphemus. Next to it in the National
Gallery hangs another picture called 'Rain, Steam, and Speed'--the
Great Western Railway. From the realm of the mythical, this takes us
back to the class of scenes of which the 'Fighting Temeraire' is one,
actually beheld by Turner, but magically transfigured by his brush.
A train is coming towards us over a bridge, prosaic subject enough,
especially in 1844, when railways were supposed to be ruining the
aspect of the country and were hated by beauty-loving people. But
Turner saw romance in the swift passage of a train, and painted a
picture in which smoke and rain, cloud and sunset, river and bridge,
boats and trees, are all fused in a mist, pearly and golden as well
as smutty and grey. When you look at it, you must stand away and look
long, till gradually the vision of Turner shapes itself before your
eyes and the scene as he beheld it lives again for you.

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

Other artists have interpreted scenery beautifully, and a few have
painted ideal landscapes, but who besides Turner has ever united such
diversities of power? He continued to paint water-colour sketches to
the end of his life, for these were appreciated by a public that did
not understand, and neglected to buy, his oil-paintings. He sketched
throughout France and Switzerland for various publications as he had
sketched in England. Time has not damaged these drawings, as it has
the pictures in oil, for to the end of his life Turner sometimes used
bad materials. Even the sky of the 'Fighting Temeraire' has faded
considerably since it was painted, and others of his oil-pictures are
mere shadows of their former selves. It is pathetic to look upon the
wreck of work not a century old and to wonder how much of it will be
preserved for future generations.

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

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

  Now the sunset breezes shiver,
  _Temeraire! Temeraire!_
  And she's fading down the river,
  _Temeraire! Temeraire!_
  Now the sunset breezes shiver,
  And she's fading down the river,
  But in England's song for ever
  She's the '_Fighting Temeraire_.'[4]

[Footnote 4: _The Fighting Temeraire_. Henry Newbolt.]



CHAPTER XV

THE NINETEENTH CENTURY


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

Hitherto we have been guided in our general preference for certain
artists and certain pictures by the concurring opinion of the best
judges of many successive generations. But while we are looking at
modern paintings, we cannot say, as some one did, that in our opinion,
'which is the correct one,' such and such a picture is worthy to rank
with Titian. The taste of one age is not the taste of another. Who
can surely pronounce the consensus of opinion to-day? Who can guess
if it will concur with that of future decades--of future centuries?
We can but hope that learning to see and enjoy the recognized
masterpieces of the past will teach us what to like best among the
masterpieces of the present.

A great love of the Old Masters inspired the work of a group of young
artists, who, about the year 1850, banded themselves together into
a society which they called the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The title
indicates their aim, which was to draw the inspiration of their art
from the fifteenth-century painters of Italy. The sweetness of feeling
in a picture such as Botticelli's 'Nativity,' the delicacy of
workmanship and beautiful painting of detail in Antonello's 'St.
Jerome' and other pictures of that date, had an irresistible
fascination for them. They fancied and felt that these artists had
attained to the highest of which art was capable, so that the best
could only again be produced by a faithful study of their methods.
The aims of the Brotherhood were not imitation of the artists but of
the methods of the past. They held that every painted object, and every
painted figure should be as true as it could be made to the object
as it actually existed, rather than to the effect produced upon the
eye, seeing it in conjunction with other objects.

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

Rossetti and Burne-Jones, indeed, never formally joined the
Brotherhood, though they were influenced by its ideals and pursued
the same strict fidelity to nature in all the accessories of a picture.
Millais and Holman Hunt, original members of the Brotherhood, painted
men and women of the mid-Victorian epoch with every detail of their
peaked bonnets and plaid shawls, and were comparatively indifferent
to beauty of form and face. But Rossetti and Burne-Jones created a
type of ideal beauty which they employed on their canvases with
persistent repetition. Burne-Jones founded his type upon the angels
of Botticelli, and his drapery is like that of the ring of dancers
in the sky in our picture of the 'Nativity.' You are probably familiar
with some of his pictures and perhaps have felt the spell of his pure
gem-like colouring and pale, haunting faces. It was the people of their
minds' eye who sat beside their easels. Rossetti lived and worked in
the romantic mood of a Giorgione, but instead of expressing the
atmosphere of his fairy city of Venice, he created one as far as
possible removed from his own mid-Victorian surroundings. His
imaginary world was peopled by women with pale faces and luxuriant
auburn hair, pondering upon the mysteries of the universe. Like
Rossetti's 'Blessed Damozel,' they look out from the gold bar of heaven
with eyes from which the wonder is not yet gone.

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

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

After seeing these Pre-Raphaelite landscapes, let us imagine ourselves
straightway turning to one of the numerous scenes by Whistler of the
Thames at twilight, with its glimmering lights and ghostly shapes of
bridges and hulks of steamers. Nothing is outlined, nothing is clearly
defined, but the mystery of London's river is caught and pictured for
ever. Let us look, too, at his 'Valparaiso,' bathed in a brilliant
South American sunshine, where all is pearly and radiant with southern
light. Even here the impression is not given by the power of the sun
revealing every detail. There are few touches, but like Velasquez,
he has made every touch tell.

As the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood kindled their inspiration by the
vision of the fifteenth-century painters of Italy, so Whistler and
many other modern artists have turned to Velasquez for guidance. Till
the last half of the last century his name had been almost forgotten
outside Spain. Now, among the modern 'impressionists' so-called, he
is perhaps more studied than any other painter. When we were looking
at the pictures of this great man, we saw how he and Rembrandt were
among the earliest to learn the value of subordinating detail in the
parts to the better general effect of the whole, so as to present no
more than the eye could grasp in a comprehensive glance. Every tree
and stick in Brett's 'Val d'Aosta' is truthfully painted, but the
picture as a whole does not give the spectator the impression of truth,
for the simple reason that the eye can never see at once what Brett
has tried to make it see. All the wonderfully veracious detail in the
work of the Pre-Raphaelite does not give the impression of life. Men
like Holman Hunt, on the one hand, and on the other hand Whistler,
living and working at the same time, exhibiting their works in the
same galleries, differ even more in their ideals than Velasquez
differed from the fifteenth-century painters of Italy.

Facts such as these make the study of modern art difficult. Before
the nineteenth century, pictures of the same date in the same country
were painted in approximately the same style. But during the last fifty
years many styles have reigned together. At one and the same time
painters have been inspired by the Greek and Roman sculptors, by
Botticelli, Mantegna, Titian, Tintoret, Velasquez, Rembrandt,
Reynolds, and Turner, and the work of each is, notwithstanding,
unmistakably nineteenth century, and could never have been produced
at any other date. Every artist finds a problem of his own to solve,
and attacks it in his own way. When Whistler painted a portrait he
endeavoured to express character in the general aspect of the figure,
rather than in the face. The picture of his mother is a wonderful
expression of the sweetness and peace of old age, given by the severe
lines of her black dress and the simplicity and nobility of her pose.

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

Watts was never a Pre-Raphaelite, clothing anew his dreams of medieval
beauty; nor a seeker after the glories of Greece and Rome, like Leighton
and Alma Tadema; nor a student of the instant's impression, like
Whistler. To penetrate beneath the seen to the unseen was the aim of
his art. He wrestled to express thoughts in paint that seem
inexpressible. When we go to the Tate Gallery in London, to the room
filled with most precious works of Watts, we feel almost overawed by
the loftiness of his ideas, though they may seem to strain the last
resources of the painter's art. One of them is a picture of 'Chaos'
before the creation of the world. Half-formed men and women struggle
from the earth to force themselves into life, as the half-wrought
statues of Michelangelo from the marble that confines them. Near by
is a picture of the 'All-pervading,' the spirit of good that penetrates
the world, symbolized as a woman gazing long into a globe held upon
her knee. Opposite is the 'Dweller in the Innermost,' with deep,
unsearchable eyes. These are pictures that constrain thought rather
than charm the eye. When the thought is less obscure, it is better
suited to pictorial utterance, and Watts sometimes painted pictures
as simple as these are difficult.

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

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



INDEX


'Adoration of the Lamb,' 56-59

Adoration of the Magi, treatment of, 33

'Age of Innocence,' 171

_Alice in Wonderland_, 2

'All-pervading,' the, 196

Animals, painting of, 142

Antonello of Messina, 67-69

Art, definition of, 4

Atmosphere, 10
  treatment of by Dutch School, 139, 140
  by Holbein, 139
  by Velasquez, 156


Beauneveu, Andre, of Valenciennes, 43

Bellini, Giovanni, 98, 102

Black Death, influence of, 41

Botticelli, 70-77, 145
  influence of, on Burne-Jones, 191

Brett's 'Val d'Aosta,' 192 _et seq._

Burne-Jones, 190 _et seq._

Byzantium, influence of, 19
  Turkish conquest of, 20


'Chaos,' 196

Charles I. employs Rubens, 143
  employs Van Dyck, 147
  painted by Velasquez, 157

Charles II., 131

Charles V., King of France, 40

Charles V., Emperor, 153

Chillon, Castle of, 11

Churches, medieval grandeur of, 14

Cimabue, Vasari's account of, 24
  picture in National Gallery, 25
  picture in Santa Maria Novella, 25
  training of Giotto, 27

Civilization, definition of, 9

Claude Lorraine, 181-183

Constable, 180

Correggio, 91

Crome, Old, 178

Cuyp, 138-142, 180


'Dido building Carthage,' 182

Don Balthazar Carlos, 154 _et seq._, 160 _et seq._

Douglas, Lady Alfred, 75

Dragons, fear of, 12

Duke of Gloucester, 170-171

Durer, 106-107
  compared with Holbein, 113

Dutch expansion in the seventeenth century, 117

'Dweller in the Innermost,' 196


Edward the Confessor, story of, 32

Edward Prince of Wales, 111-115

Eighteenth century, artificiality of, 168

Erasmus, 109-110
  portrait of, 114

Etching, process of, 127


Fighting _Temeraire_, 176 _et seq._

Francis of Assisi, life of, 17, 21

Franciscans, foundation of the order of, 22

'Fresco' painting, 39


Gainsborough, 173 _et seq._

Garden of Eden, 95

Giorgione, 94-98, 140

Giotto, 27, 28, 35, 50

'Golden Age,' 95-98, 142

Goldsmith, 174

Greeks, influence of, 10, 65


Henrietta Maria, 149

Henry VIII., 109 _et seq._
  employs Holbein, 110
  portrait of, 114

Hobbema, 141, 178

Hogarth, 166 _et seq._

Holbein, 102-115, 139, 151
  'Erasmus' in collection of Charles I., 147

Holman Hunt, 190, 191

Horne, Herbert P., 74

Hubert van Eyck, 46 _et seq._, 140

Hulin, Dr., 49


Il Penseroso, 83

Impressionism, beginning of, 162

Infanta Marguerita, 161 _et seq._


James II., 149

Jerusalem Chamber, 18
  view of, taken in 1486, 49

Joachim, portrait of, 195

John, Duke of Berry, 40, 42, 53

John, King of France, 40

John van Eyck, 60
  compared with Durer, 107

Josse Vyt, 58

Julius II., Pope, 88


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


L'Allegro, 83

Landscape painting, beginning of, 50

Lely, Sir Peter, 131

Leonardo da Vinci, 80-81, 89-90, 110
  compared with Durer, 107

'Les Meninas,' 162

Liber Studiorum, 183

Louis, Duke of Anjou, 40

Luini, Bernardino, 90-91


'Madonna of the Rocks,' 90

'Man in Armour,' 126-127

Mantegna, 69, 70, 102
  'Triumphs of Caesar,' 148

Maria Theresa, 163

Marie de Medicis, 143

Mary Stuart, 149-150

Medieval detail, 37
  coronation, solemnity of, 34
  guilds, 44

Michelangelo, 80
  influence on Reynolds, 169, 172
  influence on Tintoret, 99

Millais, 190

Milton, 83

More, Sir Thomas, 109, 110

Mosque of Omar, 49


Newbolt, Henry, 187

'Night Watch,' Rembrandt's, 123-124

'Norham Castle,' 183

'Norwich School,' 178


'Pallas Athene,' 127

Perspective, 66
  absence of, 55
  Hubert's improvement in, 55
  mastery of, in Renaissance, 67

Perugino, 79

Peter de Hoogh, 133-136

Philip IV., 154, 155

Philip the Bold, 40, 41

Philip the Good, 52

Photographs and pictures, the difference between them, 4

Portraiture, in the fifteenth century, growth of, 60

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, 189 _et seq._


'Rain, Steam, and Speed,' 184

Raphael, 78-89, 140
  cartoons, in collection of Charles I., 147
  comparison with Giorgione, 94, 97
  influence on Velasquez, 159

'Red Ridinghood,' 197

Reformation, effect of on art, 108

Rembrandt, 118-132, 135
  'Anatomy,' 122, 157
  compared with Peter de Hoogh, 134
  compared with Van Dyck, 151
  compared with Velasquez, 156
  landscapes of, 139
  Syndics, 130

Revelations, 57, 74

Revival of learning, 65

Reynolds, 169-175

Richard II., portrait of, 29 _et seq._
  diptych, 47, 50, 139, 197
  diptych in collection of Charles I., 147

Roger van der Weyden, 61

Rome, influence on Turner, 181

Rossetti, 190 _et seq._

Royal Academy, 174

Rubens, 138, 143-145
  friendship with Velasquez, 157
  on Charles I., 147

Ruysdael, 141


Santi, Giovanni, 79

St. Catherine, Raphael's, 85
  burial of, 90

St. Catherine of Siena, 17

St. Edmund, 33

St. Francis of Assisi, 17, 21
  preaching to the birds, 4, 23, 50

St. George slaying the dragon, 100-102

St. Jerome's cell, 6, 63-69
  lion of, 142

St. Matthew, 46

Saskia, 121, 122 _et seq._

Savonarola, 73-76

Sistine Madonna, 85

Spain, greatness of, in sixteenth century, 153

Stained-glass windows, influence of in the fourteenth century, 36

Steen, Jan, 137, 167

'Strayed Sheep,' 191

'Surrender of Breda,' 159


Tenniel, 2

Tennyson, portrait of, 195

Terborch, 137

'Three Maries,' 46-59
  compared with Botticelli's 'Nativity,' 77
  compared with Raphael's 'Knight's Dream,' 85
  treatment of atmosphere in, 140

Timoteo Viti, 82

Tintoret, 99-102
  influence on Velasquez, 159

Titian, 98, 99, 140, 159

Turner, 176-187
  sunsets of, 9


'Ulysses deriding Polyphemus,' 184

Umbrian landscape, beauty of, 79


'Valparaiso,' 193

Van Dyck, 145-152
  compared with Reynolds, 170 _et seq._
  comparison with Velasquez, 161

Van Eyck's influence in Germany, 105

Vasari, 23, 25

Velasquez, 153-164
  compared with Reynolds, 169
  influence of, 193

Venice, influence on Turner, 180, 185
  influence of on Venetian artists, 93 _et seq._

Veronese, 102


Watts, 195-197

Whistler, 192 _et seq._, 193

William the Silent, 116, 146

William II. of Orange, 146-152

William III., 146

Wood-cutting, process of, 127

Wool industry, importance of, 41



THE END



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[Footnote 3: _The Church Times_.]

[Footnote 4: _Monthly Notes of the National Society of Art Masters_.]



BLACK'S DICTIONARY OF PICTURES
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 1. The Age of Innocence                    _Reynolds_
 2. William II., Prince of Orange-Nassau    _Van Dyck_
 3. Lady Hamilton as a Bacchante            _Romney_
 4. The Laughing Cavalier                   _Franz Hals_
 5. Study of Grief                          _Greuze_
 6. Portrait of Mrs. Siddons                _Gainsborough_
 7. Nelly O'Brien                           _Reynolds_
 8. Portrait of the Doge Leonardo Loredano  _Bellini_
 9. Portrait of an old Lady                 _Rembrandt_
10. The Virgin and Child                    _Botticelli_
11. The Hay Wain                            _Constable_
12. Madame Le Brun and Her Daughter         _Le Brun_
13. The Broken Pitcher                      _Greuze_
14. The Parson's Daughter                   _Romney_
15. The Milkmaid                            _Greuze_
16. Portrait of Miss Bowles                 _Reynolds_
17. La Gioconda                             _Leonardo da Vinci_
18. Ulysses deriding Polyphemus             _Turner_
19. Chapeau de Paille                       _Rubens_
20. Portrait of Mrs. Siddons                _Sir T. Lawrence_
21. Head of a Girl                          _Greuze_
22. The San Sisto Madonna                   _Raphael_
23. The Dead Bird                           _Greuze_
24. Princess Margarita Marla                _Velasquez_
25. The Tribute Money                       _Titian_
26. Sir Walter Scott                        _Raeburn_
27. Robert Burns                            _Nasmyth_
28. The Swing                               _Fragonard_
29. Inside of a Stable                      _George Morland_
30. Head of a Girl                          _Rembrandt_
31. Embarking for Cythera                   _Watteau_
32. Anne of Cleves                          _Holbein_
33. The Avenue, Middleharnis, Holland       _Hobbema_
34. Interior of a Dutch House               _Peter de Hoogh_
35. Charles I.                              _Van Dyck_
36. St. John the Baptist                    _Leonardo da Vinci_
37. A Young Man                             _Raphael_
38. A Party in a Park                       _Watteau_
39. His Majesty King George V.              _H. de T. Glazebrook_
40. The Surrender of Breda                  _Velasquez_
41. Prince Balthasar Carlos                 _Velasquez_
42. The Maids of Honour                     _Velasquez_
43. The Tapestry Weavers                    _Velasquez_
44. The Topers                              _Velasquez_
45. The Immaculate Conception               _Murillo_
46. The Blue Boy                            _Gainsborough_

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