Abbildungen der Seite

came to a bad end, owing, Vasari says, to his forsaking painting for alchemy,“ since he believed that he should make himself rich much more rapidly by the congelation of mercury than by his art.” The chequered life of the artist finds a parallel in the varying fortunes of his reputation as an artist. He was an imitator both of Correggio and of Michael Angelo

-here, for instance, the head of the infant Christ recalls the former master, the figures of St. Jerome and St. John recall the latter; and in his own day was held to have imitated them successfully, whilst Vasari adds that “the spirit of Raphael was said to have passed into Parmigiano.” Of one of his works Reynolds, two hundred years later, expressed himself “at a loss which to admire most, the correctness of drawing or grandeur of conception." But the fashion in art has changed since Reynolds's day, and modern critics have found Parmi. giano's work“incongruous," " insipid,” and “affected.” This difference of opinion is well exemplified in the case of this picture. Vasari calls it " singularly beautiful,” and its subsequent popularity is attested by the number of copies of it extant (visitors on Student's Days will still often see copyists at work on it). But other critics have attributed its fame "more to its defects than its beauties” (Passavant), and have found it “mannered and theatrical” (Mrs. Jameson), and "a pernicious adaptation of an incongruous style” (Dr. Richter).

Leaving the visitor to form his own judgment, we may remind him that the subject is a supposed dream of St. Jerome when doing penance in the desert. He is asleep on the grounddoing penance, it might seem from his distorted position, even in his sleep, with a skull before him and a crucifix beside him. He is in the same desert where John the Baptist once preached, and thinking, we may suppose, of him, St. Jerome sees him in vision—with his camel skin about him—pointing upwards to the sky. There is the Virgin Mary seated as queen of heaven on a crescent moon, with a palm branch in her hand

—the symbol now, not of martyrdom, but of victory over sin and death. And on her knee is the Divine Child, who rests his right hand on a little book on the Madonna's lap. It is a volume, we may suppose, of the Scriptures which St. Jerome had translated, and the vision thus foreshadows the time when it should be said unto him, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant; . . . enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” 76. CHRIST'S AGONY IN THE GARDEN.

After Correggio. See under 15, p. 199. This is a copy of a picture in the Duke of Wellington's gallery at Apsley House, which was taken in Joseph Buonaparte's carriage at the battle of Vittoria, returned to the King of Spain, and by him presented to the Great Duke.


Correggio (Parmese : 1494-1534). See under 15, p. 199.

One of the most celebrated works in the Gallery—“the two pictures which I would last part with out of it," Mr. Ruskin once said, “would be Titian's Bacchus and Correggio's Venus.” It is a great picture first because it is true to nature, “Look at the foot of Venus. Correggio made it as like a foot as he could, and you won't easily find anything liker. . . . Great civilised art is always the representation, to the utmost of its power, of whatever it has got to show --made to look as like the thing as possible(Queen of the Air, $ 163). Notice, too, the roundness of effect produced in the limbs by the gradation of full colours, the reflected lights, and the transparent shadows. The “chiaroscuro” is so clever that you can look through the shadows into the substance.

As for the subject of the picture, Mercury, the messenger of the gods (dressed therefore in his winged cap and sandals), is endeavouring to teach Cupid (Love) his letters, of which, according to the Greek story, Mercury was the inventor. Venus, the Goddess of Beauty and the Mother of Love, looks out to the spectator with a winning smile of self-complacent loveliness and points us to the child. She has taken charge meanwhile of Cupid's bow (from which he shoots his arrows into lovers' hearts), and is herself represented (as sometimes in classical gems) with wings, for Beauty has wings to fly away as well as Time and Love. The picture is sometimes called the Education of Cupid, but Love learns through the heart and not through the head, and “if you look at this most perfect picture wisely, you will see that it really ought to be called “Mercury trying, and failing, to teach Cupid to read,' for indeed from the beginning and to the end of time, Love reads without letters, and counts without arithmetic " (Fors Clavigera, viii. 238).

This famous picture has had a strange, eventful history. It was included in Charles I.'s collection, and hung in his private rooms at Whitehall. When he was beheaded and his pictures were sold, it passed through several collections, and ultimately into that of Murat, King of Naples. Upon his fall from power his wife took it with her when she escaped to Vienna. During the congress of sovereigns in 1822 her chamberlain communicated with the ministers of all the powers with a view to the sale of this and another Correggio (15). Russia was negotiating for the purchase of them when Lord Londonderry, hearing by mere accident of the affair, went to the chamberlain, paid the larger price against which Russia was holding out, and despatched his courier post haste to Vienna to convey the treasures to England. An attempt was made to stop him, but they reached this country almost before the Russians had heard of the purchase. 1


Bazzi, called Il Sodoma (Lombard : 1477–1549). The confusion in the use of the word “school” (see above p. 194) is again illustrated in the case of Giovanni Antonio Bazzi (sometimes wrongly given as Razzi), called also Il Sodoma. He spent most of his life at Siena, and is often grouped therefore with the Sienese school. But he was born at Vercelli, in Piedmont-being the son of a shoemaker—and “ripened into an artist during the two years he spent at Milan with Leonardo da Vinci” (1498-1500). Sodoma is therefore, says Morelli, p. 428, to be reckoned as one of the Milanese-Lombard School. “Nay, I believe I should not be far wrong were I to maintain that the majority of the better works ascribed to Leonardo in private collections are by him. ... Young Bazzi while at Milan seems to have taken Leonardo for his model, not only in art, but even in personal appearance and fancies. All his life he loved to play the cavalier, and, like Leonardo, always kept saddle-horses in his stable, and all kinds of queer animals in his house." Vasari gives an amusing, though probably apocryphal, account of his excesses, and represents him as a lewd fellow of the baser sort, with whom no respectable person would have anything to do. But Raphael so respected Bazzi and his work that he introduced his portrait (erroneously called Perugino's) by the side of his own in his celebrated fresco of the “School of Athens.” But at any rate Sodoma was a careless jovial fellow-dividing his time between the studio and the stable ; and when cash ran short or a horse ran wrong, he would meet his liabilities with a hastily dashed off picture. This very Madonna may perhaps have paid off a racing debt.

1 The two pictures were bought by the nation in 1834 for $11,550. This sum was then thought a very large one, and the trustees fortified themselves with the opinion of experts. Amongst these Sir David Wilkie, R.A., wrote, “It is certainly a large sum for two pictures ; but giving this difficulty its due weight, I would decidedly concur in giving this sum rather than let them go out of the country, considering the rarity of such specimens even in foreign countries, and their excellence as examples of the high school to which they belong, to which it must be the aim of every other school to approach."


Ludovico of Parma (Parmese : early 16th century). The crozier shows him to be a bishop, and it is inscribed S. VGO. This is St. Hugo (died 1132), who was Bishop of Grenoble when St. Bruno founded the Chartreuse, and who often resided amongst the Carthusians. Doubtless he was not an unwelcome visitor, for he had the power, it is said, of converting fowls into fish, which it was lawful to eat. For forty years, it is further told of him, he had haunting doubts on the old, old question of the origin of evil. The good bishop referred them at last to Pope Gregory VII., who greatly comforted St. Hugo by assuring him that such doubts were only sent to try his virtue and faith in the providence of God in permitting evil in the world. 923. A VENETIAN SENATOR.

Andrea Solario (Lombard : about 1460-1520). Andrea belonged to an artist family, the Solari (of Solaro, a village near Saronna); one of his brothers, Christopher, was an architect and sculptor, and from him perhaps Andrea learnt his superb modelling of the head—a point which is conspicuous in this picture, and in which he surpassed all his contemporaries. His repute in his own time is attested by the journey he made to France in 1507. The Cardinal George of Amboise desired to entrust the decoration of a chapel to Leonardo ; but Leonardo was too much taken up with hydraulic works at Milan to accept the commission, and the Cardinal's representative sent Andrea in the great man's place (Morelli, pp. 63-68).

This picture “ was ascribed to Giovanni Bellini before it entered the National Gallery, and dilettanti might well mistake it for a work of Antonello da Messina. There seems to be little doubt that the picture was painted by Solario at Venice, where he went in 1490 in company of his brother. ... The firmly drawn portrait of the senator, with its minutely executed landscape in the background, reveals plainly that he there became an ardent follower of Antonello(Richter, p. 99). 1200, 1201. GROUPS OF SAINTS.

Macrino d'Alba (Lombard : painted about 1500). Macrino d'Alba, a native of Alba in Piedmont, otherwise called Giangiacomo Fava, belongs to the pre-Leonardo period, having been a pupil probably of Vincenzo Foppa (729, p.198).

In the first group (1200) are St. Peter Martyr (for whom see Octagon, 41, p. 192), with the knife and plenty of blood on his

head, and a bishop in full robes. In the second (1201), St. Thomas Aquinas looking with an almost comic squint at a cruci. fix, and John the Baptist. On the pages of St. Thomas's book are the words in Latin, “I have kept the commandments of my father;" on those of St. John the Baptist, “ Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world.” 734. A MILANESE LAWYER. Andrea Solario (Lombard : about 1460-1520).

See under 923, p. 205. A portrait (dated 1505) of the artist's friend, a Milanese lawyer, whose name, John Christopher Longoni, is written on a letter in his right hand. He wears the gown and cap (not unlike that still worn by French advocates ") of his profession. Observe the landscape background-here quaintly peopled with prancing dogs and horses on the left, and servants in red pushing off boats on the right—with which the old painters, like some of our modern photographers, were fond of flattering their subjects. But in this case the subject is well entitled to his “setting," for he is a nobleman as well as a lawyer, and the background is perhaps studied from his country seat. On the bottom of the panel is a Latin inscription which, literally interpreted, runs, “Not knowing what you have been or what you may be, may it for long be your study to be able to see what you are,” i.e. by looking at this picture of yourself-a neatly-turned compliment at once to the painter and his subject : the picture is to last for many a long year, and the lawyer for many a long year is to grow no older. Or is the inscription also meant to describe the lawyer's character in words, as the portrait does in colours--a man not troubled overmuch with what has been or what may be hereafter, but one who is keenly alive to what he is, and who pours all his powers into the tasks and interests of the present ? 1200.

See above under 1201, p. 205. 779, 780. FAMILY PORTRAITS. Ambrogio Borgognone (Lombard : about 1455-1524).

See under 1077, p. 197. On the left (779) a group of nine men, above them a hand, probably of some patron saint; on the right (780) a group of thirteen women, kneeling (apparently) by the side of a tomb

« ZurückWeiter »