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176. ST. JOHN AND THE LAMB.
Murillo (1618–1682) Bartholomé Estéban Murillo, the most widely popular of the Spanish painters, was himself sprung from “the people." He was born of humble parents in Seville, and his earliest attempts at art were pictures for fairs. He is also believed to have supplied some of the Madonnas which were shipped off by loads for the convents in Mexico 1 and Peru. A turning point in his artistic career came, however, when a certain Pedro de Moya came into the studio of Murillo's uncle, Castillo. De Moya had been studying under Van Dyck in London. Van Dyck's style was a revelation to Murillo, who determined forthwith to start off on the grand tour. First, however, he went to Madrid, where Velazquez helped him greatly (see p. 378). His studies here were so successful, and his popularity became so great that the foreign journey was abandoned. He married a lady of fortune, his house became a centre of taste and fashion, commissions poured in upon him, and in 1660 he formed the Academy of Seville. His life was as pious as it was busy. He was often seen praying for long hours in his parish church, and in his last illness (which was brought on by his falling, in a fit of absence of mind, from a scaffold) he was carried every day to the church of Santa Cruz to pray before a “Descent from the Cross.” “I wait here," he said to the sacristan who asked one day if he were ready to go, “ till the pious servants of our Lord have taken him down."
Murillo was thus one of the last sincerely religious painters-a class
(see p. 509), who offered to restore the missing parts out of his head. So far Mr. Ruskin was decidedly wrong. But he was also right. The parts which Lance painted in “out of his head" were the groups on the left of the foreground, and some of the middle distance. “I endeavoured," he says, "to fill up the canvas, such as I supposed Velazquez would have done; and I had great facility in doing that, because if there was a man without a horse here, there was a horse without a man there, so I could easily take his execution as nearly as possible, and my own style of painting enabled me to keep pretty near the mark" (!). But the high lights of the sky, he particularly added, were untouched by him. So that there Mr. Ruskin was right. The picture, when restored to its owner, gave complete satisfaction, and Lance's share in it was kept a secret. A year or two later he must have felt a proud man. The picture was being exhibited at the British Gallery. In front of it Lance met two cognoscenti of his acquaintance. “ It looks to me," he said, testing them, “as if it had been a good deal repainted."-"No! you're wrong there," they said ; “it is remarkably free from repaints.”
1 “In some of the convents (in Mexico) there still exist, buried alive like the inmates, various fine old paintings ... brought there by the monks” (Dublin National Gallery Catalogue). The Spanish influence gave birth, moreover, to a native Mexican School of painting, said to be of considerable merit.
which, " after a few pale rays of fading sanctity from Guido, and brown gleams of gipsy Madonnahood from Murillo, came utterly to an end” (Modern Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. iv. § 4). But it was “gipsy Madonnahood :" there is an entire want of elevation in his religious types, and the peasants whom he painted as beggars or flower-girls he painted also as angels or Virgins. This mingling of the common with the religious alike in subject and treatment was no doubt a principal reason of his great popularity in his own country. His vulgarity of treatment in his favourite beggar subjects is best seen in the Dulwich Gallery; of his religious style, the pictures here are characteristic examples. There is a certain “sweetness” and sentimentality about them which often makes them immensely popular. The French in particular are subject to a furore for Murillo, his “Immaculate Conception," now in the Louvre, having been bought in 1852 for £23,440 - the largest sum ever given up to that time for a single picture. 2 With children, too, Murillo is nearly always a great favourite. A maturer taste, however, finds the sentiment of Murillo overcharged, and the sweetness of expression an insufficient substitute for elevation of character. One charm however his pictures have which no criticism is likely to take away: they are all stamped with the artist's individ. uality, there is never any mistaking a Murillo.
An interesting illustration of the substitution of the palpable image for the figurative phrase. The mission of St. John the Baptist was to prepare the way for Christ, to proclaim to the people “Behold the Lamb of God !” Murillo makes the standard of the Lamb, with those words upon it, lie upon the ground below; but he further represents the young St. Baptist as embracing an actual lamb. 1122. ST. JEROME. (See II. 227, p. 41.)
Domenico Theotocopuli (1548–1625). Theotocopuli, called also “Il Greco," and supposed to have been of Greek descent, was born in one of the Venetian
1 "Murillo, of all true painters the narrowest, feeblest, and most superficial, for those reasons the most popular" ( Two Paths, 8 57 n.)
"the delight of vulgar painters (as Murillo) in coarse and slurred painting merely for the sake of its coarseness, opposed to the divine finish which the greatest and mightiest of men disdained not" (Modern Painters, vol. ii. pt. iii. sec. i. ch. x. & 3).
The French partiality for Murillo is traditional, dating back to Marshall Soult's time, from whose collection the “Immaculate Conception" was bought. Murillos were his favourite spoils from the Peninsular War. “One day, showing General
G h is gallery in Paris, Soult stopped opposite a Murillo, and said, 'I very much value that, as it saved the lives of two estimable persons.' An aide-de-camp whispered, 'he threatened to have both shot on the spot unless they gave up the picture." (Ford's Handbook).
States, but migrated in early life to Spain, where most of his works are now to be found. The inscription on the book, “ Cornaro aet suae 100-1566," is interpolated. 74. A SPANISH PEASANT BOY.
Murillo (1618-1682). See under 176, p. 380. Look at this and the other little boy near it (176), and you will see at once the secret of Murillo's popularity. “In a country like Spain he became easily the favourite of the crowd. He was one of themselves, and had all the gifts they valued. Not like Velazquez, reproducing by choice only the noble and dignified side of the national character, Murillo could paint to perfection either the precocious sentiment of the Good Shepherd with the lamb by his side, or the rags and happiness of the gipsy beggar boy" (W. B. Scott's Murillo, p. 76)—
Poor and content is rich and rich enough. 230. A FRANCISCAN MONK.
Francisco Zurbaran (1598-1662). Of all the Spanish pictures in the Gallery this is the most characteristic, and the most suggestive of that subserviency of painting to the Church, which distinguishes the Spanish School. Zurbaran was a pupil of the painter priest Juan de Roelas, of Seville, and it is a piece of the religious life around him that we have here before us. Seville was at that time the most orthodox city in the most Catholic country-at every corner of the streets there were Franciscan monks, with prayers or charms to sell in exchange for food or money. “For centuries in Spain country people bought up the monks' old garbs, to use them in dressing the dead, so that St. Peter might pass them into heaven thinking they were Franciscans. It was in the streets and convents of Seville therefore that Zurbaran found his models. This picture was bought for the National Gallery from the Louis Philippe sale in 1853. When the gallery of Spanish pictures to which it formerly belonged was inaugurated in the Louvre, “what remained most strongly in the Parisian mind, so impressionable and so blasé, was not the suavity of Murillo, nor the astonishing pencil of Velazquez, making the canvas speak and palpitate with life; it was a certain Monk in Prayer' of Zurbaran, which it was impossible to forget, even if one had seen it only once. On his knees, in a poor garb of gray-brown, worn and patched, his visage lost in the shadow of his hood, the monk implores the mercy of the Christian God, God soft and terrible. The hands, pallid and emaciated, hold the death's head, and the eyes are lifted to heaven; he seems to say, “Out of the depths have I cried to Thee, Lord, Lord” (C. Blanc, cited in W. B. Scott's Murillo, p. 55). 745. KING PHILIP IV. OF SPAIN.
Velasquez (1599-1660). See under 1129, P. 376. Few kings have left so many enduring monuments of themselves as Philip IV., whose face figures twice on these walls and meets one in nearly every European gallery. It is a face which, once seen, is not soon forgotten. Velazquez, as we have said, caught its expression at once, and by comparing the face in its youth (1129, p. 376) with its middle age here, one can almost trace the king's career. In youth we see him cold and phlegmatic, but slender in figure, graceful and dignified in bearing, and with a fine open forehead. But the young king was bent on ease and pleasure, and his minister Olivares did nothing to persuade him into more active kingship. The less pleasing traits in his character have, in consequence, come to be deeper impressed at the time of this later portrait. He was devoted to sport, and the cruelty of the Spaniard is conspicuous in the lip-more underhung now than before. In the growth of the double chin and yet greater impassiveness of expression, one may see the traces of that “talent for dead silence and marble immobility” which, says the historian," he so highly improved that he could sit out a comedy without stirring hand or foot, and conduct an audience without movement of a muscle, except those in his lips and tongue." It is not the face of a great ruler ; but it is one which rightly lives on a painter's canvas, for no king was ever at once so liberal and so enlightened a patron of the arts as he. Himself too he was something of an artist; and the best-known piece of his painting tells a pretty story, which it is pleasant to remember in front of Velazquez's portraits of him. Velazquez painted once his own portrait in the background of the king's family (the “ Maids of Honour" _Las Meninas-now at Madrid). “Is there anything wrong with it?" Velazquez asked. “Yes," said the king, taking the palette in his hand, “just this "-and he sketched in on the painter's portrait the coveted red cross of the order of Santiago
1148. CHRIST AT THE COLUMN.
Velazques (1599-1660). See under 1129, P. 376. An intensely dramatic rendering of the central lesson of Christianity. The absence of all decorative accessories concentrates the attention at once on the figure of the Divine sufferer-bound by the wrists to the column. His hands are swollen and blackened by the cords; the blood has trickled down the shoulder-so terrible was the punishment—and the scourges and rod have been flung contemptuously at his feet. Yet abnegation of self and Divine compassion are stamped indelibly on his countenance, as he turns his head to the child who is kneeling in adoration. The guardian angel behind bids the child approach the Redeemer in prayer (hence the alternative title that has been given to the picture, “The Institution of Prayer'). From the wise and prudent the lessons of Christianity are often hidden, but Christ himself here reveals them unto babes. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities : the chastisement of our peace was upon him ; and with his stripes we are healed " (For an interesting discussion of this picture, see the Times, August 16, 1883). 13. THE HOLY FAMILY.
Murillo (1618–1682). See under 176, p. 380. This picture—known as the Pedroso Murillo, from the Pedroso family in whose possession it remained until 1810-is one of the painter's last works, painted when he was about sixty, and is characteristic of what is known as his third, or vaporoso manner. It is characteristic also of his religious subjects. The look of child-like innocence in the head of the young Christ is very attractive, although the attitude is undeniably “stagey.” The heads of the Virgin and St. Joseph also are good instances of Murillo's plan of “supplying the place of intrinsic elevation by a dramatic exhibition of sentiment” (W. B. Scott). 235. THE DEAD CHRIST.
Giuseppe Ribera, called Spagnoletto (1598-1648). Ribera is a leading artist amongst what are called the Naturalisti or Tenebrosi (an alternative title, curiously significant of the warped
1 His first manner is called frio, or cold ; his second warm, or calido, and the third, from its melting softness, vaporoso. The first style is generally