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694. ST. JEROME IN HIS STUDY.
Ascribed to Giovanni Bellini.1 See under 280, p. 153. Besides translating the Bible, St. Jerome (see II. 227, p. 41) is famous as one of the founders of the monastic system, “of the ordered cell and tended garden where before was but the desert and the wild wood,” and he died in the monastery he had founded at Bethlehem. This picture shows us the inside of monastic life. St. Jerome, with the scholar's look of quiet satisfaction, is deep in study ; his room has no luxury, but is beautiful in its grace and order; the lion, who seems here to be sharing his master's meditation, and the partridge peering into the saint's slippers, speak of the love of the old monks for the lower animals ; and the beautiful landscape seen through the open window recalls the sweet nooks which they everywhere chose and tended for their dwelling. The effect of the whole picture is to suggest the peaceful simplicity of the old religious life in contrast to the “getting and spending " with which we now “lay waste our powers."
The picture belongs to what Mr. Ruskin has called the “ Time of the Masters," who desire only to make everything dainty and delightful. “Everything in it is exquisite, complete, and pure; there is not a particle of dust in the cupboards, nor a cloud in the air ; the wooden shutters are dainty, the candlestick is dainty, the saint's blue hat is dainty, and its violet tassel, and its ribbon, and his blue cloak, and his spare pair of shoes, and his little brown partridge—it is all a perfect quintessence of innocent luxury-absolute delight, without one drawback in it, nor taint of the Devil anywhere” (Verona and its Rivers, reprinted in 0.0.R., i. 661). For another specimen of this pictorial perfectness and deliciousness," see VI. 288, p. 102 (especially the compartment with Raphael and Tobit).
As for the partridge, this is frequently introduced into sacred pictures, especially those of the Venetian School. There is a pretty legend of St. John which perhaps accounts for it, and which makes its introduction very appropriate in the picture of a recluse. St. John had, it is said, a tame partridge, which he cherished much, and amused himself with feeding and tending. A certain huntsman, passing by with his bow and arrows, was astonished to see the great apostle, so vener
1 Other critics ascribe this, with 234, p. 150, to Catena, one of Bellini's numerous followers.
able for his age and sanctity, engaged in such an amusement. The apostle asked him if he always kept his bow bent. He answered that would be the way to render it useless. “If," replied St. John, “you unbend your bow to prevent its being useless, so do I thus unbend my mind for the same reason" (Mrs. Jameson : Sacred and Legendary Art, p. 100). 1024. AN ITALIAN ECCLESIASTIC. Moroni (Bergamese : 1525-1578). See under 1023, p. 132.
The letter in his hand is addressed to himself, and tells us that he is Ludovico di Terzi, Canon of Bergamo, and an Apostolic Prothonotary. These latter functionaries, of whom there are still twelve in the Roman Church, are the chiefs of what may be called the Record Office of the Church. It is their business to draw up the reports of all important church functions, such as the enthronements of new popes and public consistories. It is an office of much dignity-as this holder of it seems to be fully conscious, and the prothonotaries rank with bishops in the Church. 32. THE RAPE OF GANYMEDE.
Titian (Venetian : 1477-1576.) See under 34, p. 138. Ganymede—so the Greek story ran—was a beautiful Trojan boy beloved of Jupiter, and was carried off by an eagle to Olympus to be the cup-bearer of the gods. Which things, say some, are an allegory- for “ those whom the gods love die young," and are snatched off, it may be, in sudden death, as by an eagle's swoop.
Flushed Ganymede, his rosy thigh
Half-buried in the Eagle's down,
TENNYSON: Palace of Art. 1047. A FAMILY GROUP.
Lorenzo Lotto (Treviso : 1476-1555).
See under 1105, p. 136. Portraits of the artist himself, his wife and two of their children. The pleasant, homely character of the scene is also true to the life. For Lotto, who was one of Bellini's many pupils, was a very upright and Christian man, Vasari says, and was of a very retiring, as well as religious, disposition. Unlike so many of his contemporaries, he never sued the favour of the mighty, but passed the greater part of his long life in the stillness of a convent cell, among Dominican monks. When at last he was very old and had almost entirely lost his voice, he was supported by a religious charity, to which he had left his possessions. The peaceful inwardness of Lotto's life was reflected in his art. His portraits “have all that refined, inward elegance of feeling which marks the culminating point in the last stage of progressive art in Italy, and which is principally represented by Leonardo da Vinci, Lotto, Andrea del Sarto, and Correggio; whereas the elegance of Bronzino in Tuscany, and of Parmigiano in North Italy, is an outward affected one, which has nothing to do with the inner life of the person represented, and therefore characterises the first stage of declining art” (Morelli, pp. 36-40).
299. PORTRAIT OF AN ITALIAN NOBLEMAN. Il Moretto (Brescian : 1498–1555). See under 625, p. 131.
This painter is conspicuous, says Lanzi (History of Painting in Italy, Bohn's edition 1847, ii. 181), for his “ skill in imitating every kind of velvet, satin, or other cloth, either of gold or silver." His portraits are remarkable, as has been noticed under 1025, p, 145, for their poetic insight. He is not content with producing an obvious likeness in the fiesh; he strives at portraying or suggesting some spiritual idea in all his sitters. These characteristics are conspicuous in the present picture. Thus notice, first, the splendid brocades. Then secondly, how the painter tells you not only that this was what the sitter looked like, but what was his character. On the cap is a label inscribed with a motto in Greek: “by the desire of the extreme." This is interpreted as referring to the desire of the sitter, Count Sciarra Martinengo Cesaresco (a noble family of Brescia, still distinguished at the present day) to avenge the death of his father, who had been assassinated. The desire of the extreme, the activity of a restless spirit, was with the Count to the end, and he died fighting in France in the campaign which ended in a defeat of the Huguenots at the battle of Moncontour, October 3, 1569.
1 There is a letter extant by Pietro Aretino which throws a pleasant light on Lotto's friendship with Titian. “'Titian writes to me from Augsburg," says Aretino to Lotto, “that he embraces and greets you, and he adds, that his delight in seeing his works praised by the emperor would be doubled if he could show them to you, and talk them over with you" (April, 1548).
294 THE FAMILY OF DARIUS.
Paolo Veronese (Veronese : 1528–1588).
See under 26, p. 136. This picture_ the most precious Paul Veronese," says Mr. Ruskin, “in the world ”mis, according to another critic, “in itself a school of art, where every quality of the master is seen in perfection_his stately male figures, his beautiful women, his noble dog, and even his favourite monkey, his splendid architecture, gem-like colour, tones of gold and silver, sparkling and crisp touch, marvellous facility of hand and unrivalled power of composition."1 The glowing colour is what strikes one first : of all pictures by Veronese this is the best preserved. It is a splendid example too of what the historical pictures of the old masters were. The scene represented is that of the Macedonian conqueror, Alexander the Great, surrounded by his generals receiving the submission of the family of the defeated Persian King Darius ; but in his treatment of the scene Veronese makes it a piece of contemporary Venetian life. “It is a constant law that the greatest men, whether poets or historians, live entirely in their own age. ... Dante paints Italy in the thirteenth century; Chaucer, England in the fourteenth ; Masaccio, Florence in the fifteenth; Tintoret, Venice in the sixteenth ;-all of them utterly
1 Layard, ii. 621. Similarly Mr. Ruskin says : "The possession of the Pisani Veronese will happily enable the English public and the English artist to convince themselves how sincerity and simplicity in statements of fact, power of draughtsmanship, and joy in colour, were associated in a perfect balance in the great workmen in Venice" (Catalogue of the Turner Sketches and Drawings, 1858, p. 10). As an instance of Veronese's “economical work"-a sure sign of a great painter-Mr. Ruskin refers to "the painting of the pearls on the breast of the nearer princess, in our best Paul Veronese. The lowest is about the size of a small hazel-nut, and falls on her rose-red dress. Any other but a Venetian would have put a complete piece of white paint over the dress, for the whole pearl, and painted that into the colours of the stone. But Veronese knows beforehand that all the dark side of the pearl will reflect the red of the dress. He will not put white over the red, only to put red over the white again. He leaves the actual dress for the dark side of the pearl, and with two small separate touches, one white, another brown, places its high light and shadow. This he does with perfect care and calm ; but in two decisive seconds. There is no dash, nor display, nor hurry, nor error. The exactly right thing is done in the exactly right place, and not one atom of colour, nor moment of time spent vainly. Look close at the two touches, you wonder what they mean. Retire six feet from the picture—the pearl is there !” (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. viii. ch. iv. $ 18).
regardless of anachronism and minor error of every kind, but getting always vital truth out of the vital present. . . . Tintoret and Shakespeare paint, both of them, simply Venetian and English nature as they saw it in their time, down to the root; and it does for all time; but as for any care to cast themselves into the particular ways and tones of thought or custom of past time in their historical work, you will find it in neither of them, nor in any other perfectly great man that I know of" (Modern Painters, vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. vii. SS 19, 20). Thus here Veronese simply paints a group of living Venetians of his time, i dog, monkey and all. Alexander, in red armour, is pointing to his friend Hephaestion, who stands a little behind on his left, and whom the captives had at first mistaken for the king. The queen-mother implores his pardon, but Alexander tells her that she has not erred, for that Hephaestion is another Alexander. The principal figures representing these different characters are, however, all contemporary portraits, of the Pisani family, it is said, for whom the picture was painted, and in choosing this scene of Alexander in one of his best moments Veronese was expressing his ideal of Venetian nobility and refinement. So too the dresses, to which the picture owes so much of its splendour, are the Venetian dresses of the period. It may be interesting, lastly, to remark that something of the magnificence in the picture itself attaches also to the circumstances of its painting. Veronese having been detained by some accident at the Pisani Villa at Este, painted this work there, and left it behind him, sending word that he had left wherewithal to defray the expense of his entertainment. As the Pisani family ultimately sold it to the National Gallery in 1857 for £13,650, Veronese's words were decidedly made good. It inay be interesting to add that the negotiations for its purchase extended over nearly four years. Vast sums had been offered
1 An even more striking instance is to be found in Veronese's picture of the Last Supper, now in the Academy of Venice. Here too he introduced his favourite dog, as well as dwarfs and armed retainers. He was summoned before the Inquisition for such irreverent anachronisins; and the account of his cross-examination is most amusing and instructive reading. A translation will be found in the appendix to Mr. Ruskin's Guide to the Academy at Venice.
2 Richter, p. 74, disputes this. The kneeling girls are, he believes, the artist's daughters, whom he has also introduced into a picture in the Louvre, and the courtier presenting them is Veronese himself.