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studies of character drawing. These pictures are painted on silk (now attached to wood), and were originally part of a standard. 728. MADONNA AND CHILD.
Beltraffio (Lombard : 1467-1516). An interesting work both for its own sake and as being by an amateur. Giovanni Antonio Beltraffio came of a noble family in Milan (his epitaph is in the Brera) and filled public offices there. He was not a professional painter, but neither was he a mere dilettante; he boarded in Leonardo da Vinci's house, and his pictures are all executed with great care (Morelli, pp. 425-428). The child with its quaint belly-band, and still more the gentle but slightly languishing grace of the mother, at once recall Leonardo.
See above under 779, p. 206. 1152. ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST.
Martino Piazza (Lombard : early 16th century). A good example of one of the many Lombard painters on whom Leonardo da Vinci's influence was predominant. Compare not only the type of countenance but the impossible rocks with those in I. 1093, p. 24. For the subject of the picture see XIII. 25, p. 316. 1149. MADONNA AND CHILD.
Marco d Oggionno (Lombard : 1470-about 1549). A characteristic picture by one of Leonardo's oldest pupils. The imitation is obvious, but so is the pupil's inferiority. There is a sad want of grace in the child's straining after the blue-bell, and in its top-knot of hair. 753. ON THE ROAD TO EMMAUS.
Altobello Melone (Cremonese : painted about 1500). There is, as we have seen, no native and independent school of Cremona. Melone was a pupil of Romanino (see VII. 297, p. 169) at
Two of Christ's disciples are walking after his death and burial to Emmaus. The risen Christ “drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden, that they should not know him” (Luke xxiv. 16). The painter makes excuses for
the disciples not recognising their master by naively dressing him as a tourist with an alpenstock.
AT Visitors who wish to complete their survey of Italian art as re
presented in the National Gallery, before examining the works of other schools, should now pass to Room XIII., where the later Italian pictures are hung.
• Artists should descry abundant worth
ROBERT BROWNING: Gerard de Lairesse. The Dutch and Flemish schools are not at present, owing to want of space, completely separated in the National Gallery. The pictures of the early Flemish School are, however, arranged together in Room XI., under which room some general remarks on that school will be found. We take up the story here at the point where it leaves off there, and proceed to discuss the Dutch School as well as the later developments of the Flemish. The confusion between Dutch and Flemish art is, it may first be remarked, historical. Just as Flanders derived its earliest artistic impulse from Germany (see p. 259), so did the Dutch derive theirs from the Flemings. In the two first periods of Flemish art, Dutch art runs precisely parallel with it. These periods are, on the Dutch side, very sparsely represented in the National Gallery. 713 and 714 (both in XII., pp. 273, 270) may be taken as examples of the former religious period. Engelbertsz, the painter of 714, was born in 1468—the year in which the Flemish Thierri Bouts finished
some of his best known pictures. Mostaert, the painter of 713, died in 1556, and was the last of the “Primitives" in the Dutch School. During the sixteenth century a new development began in both schools. This is the period of Italian influence, of the “Romanists” or “Italianisers,” as they are called, represented on the Flemish side by Bernard van Orley and Mabuse (655, 656 : both in XI., pp. 271, 280); on the Dutch by More (XI. 1094, p. 261) and Steenwyck (1132, p. 251).
At the end of the sixteenth century, however, a national movement began in both schools—corresponding closely to political changes. In 1598 the Archduke Albert and his consort Isabel established what was almost an independent State in the Spanish Netherlands ( = roughly Flanders, or the modern Belgium). The “Spanish fury” was at an end, the Inquisition was relaxed. Albert and Isabel eagerly welcomed artists and men of letters, and the exuberant art of Rubens responded to the call. This is the third and great period in the Flemish School—the succession being carried on by Rubens's pupils, Van Dyck and Teniers. Rubens, the greatest master of the Flemish School, was born in 1577. The birth of the corresponding great period in Dutch art is almost exactly contemporaneous. For it was in 1579 that the “Union of Utrecht” was effected, whereby the Dutch “United Provinces” (= roughly what is now Holland) were separated alike from the Spanish Netherlands and from the Empire, and that Dutch independence thus began. Within the next fifty years nearly all the great Dutch painters were born—de Keyser, Cuyp, Rembrandt, Terburg, Bol, Berchem. In characteristics, as well as in chronology, Dutch art was the direct outcome of Dutch history. This art has come to be identified in common parlance, owing to its chief and distinguishing characteristic, with what is known as “genre painting," — the painting, that is, which takes its subject from small incidents of everyday life. Three historical conditions combined to bring this kind of painting into vogue. First, the Reformation. The Dutch, when they asserted their independence, were no longer Catholics; but Protestantism
despised the arts, and hence the arts became entirely dissociated from religion. There were no more churches to ornament, and hence no more religious pictures were painted," whilst religious rapture is superseded by what one of their own critics describes as “the boisterous outbursts which betoken approaching drunkenness” (Havard : The Dutch School, p. 12). Secondly, the Dutch were Republicans. There was no reigning family. There were no palaces to decorate, and hence no more historical or mythological pictures were in demand. This point of distinction may best be remembered by the supreme contempt which the great King Louis XIV. of France entertained for the genre style. Eloignez de moi ces magots, he said, “take away the absurd things,” when some one showed him some works by Teniers. But the "plain, simple citizens" of the United Provinces did not want their faces idealised — hence the prosaic excellence of Dutch portraiture,—nor had they any ambition to see on their walls anything but an imitation of their actual lives of their dykes, their courtyards, their kitchens, and their sculleries. Thirdly, the Dutch were a very self-centred people. A certain obstinate tenacity to their own ways was at once their weakness and their strength. Their artists were wonderfully laborious, wonderfully skilful in execution; but strangely lacking in imagination, strangely limited in their range. Hence on the one side their fondness for genre. “With the Dutch,” says Sir Joshua Reynolds (Discourse iv.), "a history piece
1 This statement, like all others in so short and general a summary as can alone be here attempted, is of course only broadly true.
" It is interesting to note that this spirit of anti-religious revolt is what fascinated Heine in Dutch pictures. "In the house I lodged at in Leyden there once lived," he says, "the great Jan Steen, whom I hold to be as great as Raphael. Even as a sacred painter Jan was as great, and that will be clearly seen when the religion of sorrow has passed away. ... How often, during my stay, did I think myself back for whole hours into the household scenes in which the excellent Jan must have lived and suffered. Many a time I thought I saw him bodily, sitting at his easel, now and then grasping the great jug, 'reflecting and therewith drinking, and then again drinking without reflecting. It was no gloomy Catholic spectre that I saw, but a modern bright spirit of joy, who after death still visited his old workroom to paint many pictures and to drink" (Heine's Prose Writings, Camelot Series, p. 67).