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are a dozen pictures of him in the National Gallery alone. One of the chief events in his life is told in the left-hand compartment at the bottom of this picture. Jerome is tending a sick lion, and in all the pictures of him a lion appears as his constant companion. The story is that one evening a lion entered the monastery, limping as in pain, and all the brethren fied in terror, as we see one of them doing here, whilst the others are looking on safely behind a door; but Jerome went forward to meet the lion, as though he had been a guest. And the lion lifted up his paw, and Jerome, finding it was wounded by a thorn, tended the wild creature, which henceforward became his constant companion and friend. What did the Christian painters mean by their fond insistance on the constancy of the lion-friend? They meant to foretell a day “when the Fear of Man shall be laid in benediction, not enmity, on inferior beings,—when they shall not hurt nor destroy in all the holy Mountain, and the Peace of the Earth shall be as far removed from its present sorrow, as the present gloriously animate universe from the nascent desert, whose deeps were the place of dragons, and its mountains, domes of fire. Of that day knoweth no man ; but the Kingdom of God is already come to those who have tamed in their own hearts what was rampant of the lower nature, and have learned to cherish what is lovely and human, in the wandering children of the clouds and fields ” (Bible of Amiens, ch. iii. $ 54). The other compartments depict incidents in the lives of St. Damasus, St. Eusebius, St. Paula, and St. Eustachia-saints associated with St. Jerome, The picture itself shows an earlier period of his life, when, before he settled in a monastery, but after a life of pleasure in Rome, he left (as he himself tells us) not only parents and kindred, but the accustomed luxuries of delicate life, and lived for ten years in the desert in the effort to obtain some closer knowledge of the Being and Will of God. The saints who are made by the painter to keep St. Jerome company below are in sorrow; the angels above, in joy. The other kneeling figures are portraits of the patron for whom the picture was painted and of his son. 283. VIRGIN AND CHILD ENTHRONED.
Benozzo Gozzoli (Florentine : 1424-1498). Benozzo Gozzoli was the favourite pupil of the “ angelical painter,” Fra Angelico. From him Benozzo borrowed the devotion in his pictures, the bent of his own mind being altogether different. It must be remembered that “in nearly all the great periods of art the choice of subject has not been left to the painter;... and his own personal feelings are ascertainable only by watching, in the themes assigned to him, what are the points in which he seems to take most pleasure. Thus in the prolonged ranges of varied subjects with which Benozzo Gozzoli decorated the cloisters of Pisa, it is easy to see that love of simple domestic incident, sweet landscape, and glittering ornament, prevails slightly over the solemn elements of religious feeling, which, nevertheless, the spirit of the age instilled into him in such measure as to form a very lovely and noble mind, though still one of the second order” (Modern Painters, vol. m. pt. iv. ch. iii. $ 8). So in this picture the choice of subject was not left to Benozzo. On the contrary the figure of the Virgin was specially directed—so it appears from the original contract, dated 1461, still in existence—to be made similar in mode, form, and ornaments to one by Fra Angelico, now in the Florentine Academy, and it was also stipulated that “the said Benozzo shall at his own cost diligently gild the said panel throughout, both as regards figures and ornaments." The prices paid for such commissions in those days may be judged from the fact that in the case of his great frescoes at Pisa, Benozzo contracted to paint three a year for 10 ducats each ( = say £100). As for Benozzo's own personal feelings, it is easy to see with what pleasure he put in the pretty flowers in the foreground for St. Francis, and the sweetfaced angels behind the throne, and with what gusto he shot the gold in their draperies. Compared with all this, the kneeling St. Jerome and St. Francis and the other saints appear somewhat perfunctory. Notice, too, the bright goldfinches on the alabaster steps, introduced, we may suppose, in honour of
Sweet St. Francis of Assisi, would that he were here again !
TENNYSON : Locksley Hall Sixty Years After.
663. THE RESURRECTION.
Fra Angelico (Florentine : 1387-1455). Artists may be divided according to the subjects of their choice into Purists, Naturalists, and Sensualists. The first take the good in the world or in human nature around them and leave the evil; the second render all that they see, sympathising with all the good, and yet confessing the evil also ; the third perceive and imitate evil only (Stones of Venice, vol. ii. ch. vi. § 51). Of the first class Angelico is the leading type. His life was almost entirely spent in the endeavour to imagine the beings of another world. His baptismal name was Guido, but he changed it early in life to Giovanni, when he entered a Dominican convent in Florence. He was once offered the archbishopric of his city, but he refused it : “He who practices the art of painting," he said, “has need of quiet, and should live without cares and anxieties ; he who would do the work of Christ must dwell continually with Him." He was given the name of “ Angelico," and after his death that of “ Beato" (the Blessed), for his purity and heavenly-mindedness, and it is said of him that “ he was never known to be angry, or to reprove, save in gentleness and love. Nor did he ever take pencil in hand without prayer, and he could not paint the Passion of Christ without tears of sorrow.” By this “purity of life, habitual elevation of thought, and natural sweetness of disposition, he was enabled to express the sacred affections upon the human countenance as no one ever did before or since. In order to effect clearer distinction between heavenly beings and those of this world, he represents the former as clothed in draperies of the purest colour, crowned with glories of burnished gold, and entirely shadowless. With exquisite choice of gesture, and disposition of folds of drapery, this mode of treatment gives, perhaps, the best idea of spiritual beings which the human mind is capable of forming. It is, therefore, a true ideal; but the mode in which it is arrived at (being so far mechanical and contradictory of the appearances of nature) necessarily precludes those who practice it from being complete masters of their art. It is always childish, but beautiful in its childishness" (Modern Painters, vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. vi. § 4). Angelico, it may be added, looking on his work as an inspiration from God, never altered or improved his designs when once completed, saying that “such was the will of God.”
The weakness and the strength of the painter are alike well seen in this picture of Christ, with the banner of the resurrection surrounded by the Blessed. The representation of Christ Himself is weak and devoid of dignity; but what can be more beautiful than the surrounding angel choirs, “ with the flames on their white foreheads waving brighter as they move, and the sparkles streaming from their purple wings like the glitter of many suns upon a sounding sea, listening in the pauses of alternate song, for the prolonging of the trumpet blast, and the answering of psaltery and cymbal, throughout the endless deep, and from all the star shores of heaven" (Modern Painters, vol. ii. pt, iii, sec. ii. ch. v. $ 21). No two of the 266 figures are alike in face or form, though each is
perfect in grace and beauty. In the central compartment the seraphim (red) are on Christ's right, the cherubim (blue) on his left. In the compartment to Christ's left are, amongst other patriarchs and saints, Abraham with the sword, Noah with the ark, Moses with the tables of law, Aaron with his name on his mitre, and below them St. Agnes with the Lamb, and St. Catherine with her wheel. The martyrs bear palms in their hands; some wear wreaths of roses, others the crown of thorns. In the compartment to Christ's left are the Virgin, St. Peter with the keys, and the Evangelists. On the extreme ends on either side are those of the painter's brother Dominicans, in their black robes, who have joined the company of the “Blessed.”
Multitudes-multitudes--stood up in bliss,
Made equal to the angels, glorious, fair ;
And crowned and haloed hair.
Each face looked one way toward its Sun of Love ;
And knew no end thereof.
Hands locked dear hands never to sunder more :
CHRISTINA ROSSETTI : From House to Home.
586. MADONNA AND CHILD ENTHRONED.
Fra Filippo Lippi (Florentine : 1412–1469).
See under III. 666, p. 52.
Madonna and her babe,
BROWNING : Fra Lippo Lippi. Lippi belongs to a school which, “orderly and obedient itself, understood the law of order in all things, which is the chief distinction between art and rudeness. And the first aim of every great painter is to express clearly his obedience to the law of Kosmos, Order, or Symmetry” (Fors Clavigera,
1 " The many small figures which are seen here surrounded by a celestial glory are so beautiful,” says Vasari of this picture, “that they appear to be truly beings of paradise ; nor can he who approaches them be ever weary of regarding their beauty."
1876, p. 292). The four angel-faces on one side of the Madonna are matched by four on the other; the bishop and black monk on one side-compartment, by the saint and black nun on the other. Similarly at the foot of the throne the two angels are arranged symmetrically, one facing one way, the other the other. “You will at first be pained by the decision of line, and, in the children at least, uncomeliness of feature, which are characteristic, the first, of purely descended Etruscan work; the second, of the Florentine School headed afterwards by Donatello. But it is absolutely necessary, for right progress in knowledge, that you begin by observing and tracing decisive lines ; and that you consider dignity and simplicity of expression more than beauty of feature” (Fors Clavigera, 1875, p. 308). 566. MADONNA AND CHILD.
Duccio (Sienese : about 1260-1340). Duccio of Buoninsegna did much the same for the Sienese School as Cimabue (see IV. 565, p. 74), with whom he was closely contemporary, did for the Florentine. He was the first, that is to say, who, forsaking partly the conventional manner of the Byzantine School, endeavoured to give some resemblance to nature, and in religious subjects to bring down heaven to earth. In this picture, for instance, the young Christ, instead of being depicted in the act of priestly benediction (as in IV. 564, p. 76), is shown as a true babe, drawing aside the veil that hides his Mother's face. In this little incident one may thus see the tendency which was to lead to the representation of the Mother and Child as a Holy Family (the spectator must have " charity of imagination” to ignore the green hue of the Madonna's face, for reasons stated under IV. 565, p. 76). Above are seen the prophets, headed by David their king, while on either side St. Catherine l and St. Dominic adore the vision
1 So described in the Official Catalogue. But “is the female saint on the right wing of the triptych really St. Catherine of Alexandria? Only the beginning of the inscription on either side of the figure containing the name can here still be deciphered. It runs thus : SCA (Saint) AL. The reading “Catherine" thus apparently becomes inadmissible. Besides, the emblems of this female saint are decidedly not those of Catherine of Alexandria, who is always represented with a wheel as the emblem of her martyrdom, while the saint in the picture before us holds in her right hand a palm branch (?) and in her left a small cross, the emblem of consessors" (Richter, p. 9).