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1134 MADONNA AND CHILD.
Liberale da Verona (Veronese : 1451-1536). A picture of interest to students of art history, like other Veronese pictures in the Gallery, because of the scarcity of such works out of Verona itself. It is only there that the first period of Veronese art can be studied, but the National Gallery affords better opportunities than any other foreign collection for the comparative study of Veronese masters of the second period. One of these is this Liberale, who began life as a miniaturist. “No school of painting in Italy, except the Florentine, shows so regular and uninterrupted a development, from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century, as the graceful School of Verona. If we look, for example, at some of the oldest frescoes at St. Zeno's, if we examine the pictures of . . . Liberale, Domenico Morone (Octagon 1211, 1212, p. 190), Girolamo dai Libri (748, p. 133), ... and then when we come . . . to Paolo Veronese, we find everywhere the same cheerful, amiable, and graceful character looking out of each of these works of the Veronese School. The Veronese do not penetrate so deep into the essence of art as the Venetians, but they are, with few exceptions, more gracious and serene, and to this day the population of this beautifully-situated town is reckoned among the cheeriest and gayest of all Italy (Veronesi, mezzo matti)” (Morelli, pp. 394,395).
1173. AN UNKNOWN SUBJECT.
Unknown 1 (Venetian : 15th or 16th century). Another picture of the golden age (cf. 1123, p. 157) such as Giorgione, we are told, loved to paint-“men and women enjoying the golden tranquillity ; here is seen the haughty lion, there the humble lamb ; in another part we behold the swift flying hart, with many other terrestrial animals.” The picture before us precisely agrees with this general description, but the par. ticular subject of it is unknown. A child, it would seem, is being initiated into some order of the golden age—he is being dedicated, perhaps, to a life of song, for the stately personage on the throne wears the poet's crown of wild olive, whilst the young man on the steps below him lightly touches a lute, and has books by his side. The page bears a rich dish of fruits and herbs, for the golden age is vegetarian ; whilst fawns and a leopard, with a peacock and other birds, attend the court of the king of song.
i When in the Bohn collection, this picture was ascribed to Giorgione, For some interesting remarks on its possible authorship and subject, see the Times, December 22, 1885, where resemblances in this picture to pictures of Carpaccio and Pordenone, as well as of Giorgione, are pointed out.
634. THE MADONNA OF THE GOLDFINCH. Cima da Conegliano (Venetian : painted 1489–1517).
See under 300, p. 156.
599. THE MADONNA OF THE MEADOW.
Marco Basaiti (Venetian : painted 1500-1520). This pretty little picture, thoroughly Venetian in its purity of colour, was formerly attributed to Giovanni Bellini, with whom Basaiti was contemporary. It is now attributed by some critics to Catena. Mr. Armstrong (Notes on the National Gallery, p. 24) draws attention to the similarity in the baby's hands here and in 234, p. 150, which also is now very generally attributed to Catena. The correct settlement of disputed points of attribution like this is highly important for the history of painting, but meanwhile the very fact of such disputes has a useful significance, as showing what is meant by the old " schools” of painting. Individual peculiarities are only discovered by minutest examinations; but beneath such differences there are in each school similarities of treatment and conception which come from common traditions and common teaching, and which cause critics of equal intelligence to attribute the same pictures to different masters of the school.
695. MADONNA AND CHILD.
Andrea Previtali (Bergamese : 1480-1528). A picture by one of Bellini's numerous pupils—a provincial from Bergamo, “a dry, honest, monotonous” painter (see Norelli, pp. 178-181, and under 1203, p. 151).
“Padovani gran dottori” (the Paduans are great scholars)
Italian Provero. PADUA, more than any other Italian city, was the home of the classical Renaissance in painting. It was at Padua, that is to say, that the principles which governed classical art were first and most distinctly applied to painting. The founder of this learned Paduan school l was Squarcione (1394-1474). He had travelled in Italy and Greece, and the school which he set up in Padua on his return—filled with models and casts from the antique-enjoyed in its day such a reputation that travelling princes and great lords used to honour it with their visits. It was the influence of ancient sculpture that gave the Paduan School its characteristics. Squarcione was pre-eminently a teacher of the learned science of linear perspective; and the study of antique sculpture led his pupils to define all their forms severely and sharply. “In truth,” says Layard, “the peculiarity of this school consists in a style of conception and treatment more plastic than pictorial.” This characteristic of the school is pointed out below under some of Mantegna's pictures, but is seen best of all in Gregorio
1 The earlier Paduan School, represented in the National Gallery by one picture, -701 in Room IV., p.71_was only an offshoot from the Florentine.
Schiavone (see especially 630 in the adjoining Octagon room, p. 193). A second mark of the classical learning of the school may be observed in the choice of antique embellishments, of bas-reliefs and festoons of fruits in the accessories. This characteristic is noticeable in nearly every picture in the room. For a third and crowning characteristic of the school—the repose and self-control of classical art—the reader is referred to the remarks under Mantegna's pictures. With Mantegna the school of Padua reached its consummation. Two pictures doubtfully ascribed to a son of his are hung in Room VII (639 and 1106, p. 173). Crivelli's pictures are hung here, for he too is believed to have been a pupil of Squarcione. But after Mantegna the learning of Padua must be traced not in native painters, but in its influence on other schools. 602. A “PIETÀ.”
Carlo Crivelli (Venetian : painted 1468-1495). Carlo Crivelli, a native of Venice, lived most of his life at Ascoli near Naples. He thus lived somewhat outside the artistic world of his time,-a fact which serves to explain the rather conservative character of his art. Thus he adhered to tempera painting, and did not attempt the new medium. Moreover there is a vein of affectation in his pictures which contrasts strongly with the naturalistic tendency in contemporary Venetian art. Owing to a little touch of vanity in the painter we are able to date many of his pictures. For it is known that he was knighted in 1490, and so proud was “Sir Charles” of his new honour that he signed all subsequent pictures “Carlo Crivelli, Knight.” 724 in this room, p. 186, is probably the first he finished after the reception of the coveted honour. The National Gallery is, as will be seen in this room, particularly strong in Crivelli's works—including specimens of all kinds, from this small and prettily pathetic picture to large altar. pieces. 1145. SAMSON AND DELILAH.
Andrea Mantegna (Paduan : 1431-1506). Andrea Mantegna, the greatest master of the Paduan School, has a commanding name in art history, so much so that many writers describe the epoch of painting (from 1450 to 1500 and a little onwards), of which he was one of the chief representatives, as the Mantegnesque period. He was born at Vicenza, 1 and, according to Vasari, was originally, like Giotto, a shepherd boy. Like Giotto, too, he early displayed great aptitude for drawing, so much so that when
1 Layard, i. 283 n., is the authority for this statement.
only ten years old he was adopted by Squarcione as son and pupil. It was Squarcione's intention to make him his heir, but Mantegna marned a daughter of Jacopo Bellini, Squarcione's rival; “and when this was told to Squarcione he was so much displeased with Andrea that they were ever afterwards enemies." Mantegna, however, soon found powerful friends. In 1460 he went, at the invitation of the Marquis Ludovico Gonzaga, to the court of Mantua, and there he re. mained till his death, as painter-in-ordinary at a salary of £30 a year-with the exception of two years spent in painting for Pope Innocent VIII. Though in the service of princes, Mantegna knew his worth, and was wont to say that “Ludovico might be proud of having in him something that no other prince in Italy could boast of.” He liked, too, to live in the grand style of his age. It appears that he spent habitually more money than he could afford, and after his death his sons had to sell the pictures in his studio for the payment of his creditors. Still more was he a child of his age—the age of the revival of classical learning-in his love for the antique. He spent much of his money in forming a collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, and the forced sale of its chief ornament, a bust of Faustina, is said to have broken his heart. These classical antiquities were not merely the foibles of a collector, but the models of his art. He was “always of opinion,” says Vasari, “that good antique statues were more perfect and displayed more beauty in the different parts than is exhibited by nature.” Of some of his works what Vasari adds is no doubt true that they recall the idea of stone rather than of living flesh. But Mantegna studied nature closely too; for, as Goethe said of his pictures, “the study of the antique gives form, and nature adds appropriate movement and the health of life.”
Samson, whose giant's strength lay in his hair, fell into the toils of Delilah (Judges xvi.), who delivered him to his enemies by cutting off his hair as he lay asleep. On the trunk of the olive tree behind, Mantegna has carved the moral he drew from the tale: “foemina diabolo tribus assibus est mala peior" (woman is a three-times worse evil than the devil).1 But though Mantegna has taken his subject from the Bible, his treatment of it is in the classical spirit. “Apart from the fact that her attention is directed to the mechanical operation, Delilah's expression is one of absolute and entire unconcern. Look of cunning, or of deceit, or of triumph there is none. Mantegna was not the man to shirk expression when he
I cannot find any authority for the interpretation of “tribus assibus peior" given above, which yet seems to be what Mantegna must have meant. A well-known Latin scholar suggests, on the other hand, that “ tribus assibus" should be taken with “foemina " as an ablative of price, referring to Delilah's venality : "a woman who will sell herself for three pence is worse than the devil."