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1001. HOLLYHOCKS AND OTHER FLOWERS.
Jan van Huysum (Dutch : 1682–1749).
See under 796, p. 238. 1222 A STUDY OF FOLIAGE, BIRDS, AND
Otto Marcellis (Dutch : 1613-1673). One may doubt whether lovers of bird and insect life will appreciate such a picture as this, in which specimens are brought together in so dark a corner of decaying wood. Birds and butterflies—beautiful as they are by themselves, and insects --serviceable as each is in its place, are here placed in combination, suggesting nothing so much as a happy hunting-ground for the witches' cauldron. 187. THE APOTHEOSIS OF WILLIAM THE TACI
TURN OF HOLLAND, Rubens (Flemish : 1577-1640). See under 38, p. 220. A sketch of a picture in the possession of the Earl of Jersey at Osterley Park. 958. AN ITALIAN LANDSCAPE.
Jan Both (Dutch : 1610–1662).1 Jan Both, the son of a glass-painter, was one of the first “Italianisers" in landscape. He travelled in Italy, always in the company of his brother Andries, until the latter, returning from a supper party at Venice, fell from his gondola and was drowned. Unlike Rubens, who even at Genoa painted only the Netherlands, Both always adopted Italian scenery. The influence also of Claude, whose works he would have seen at Rome, is very perceptible in Both's pictures.
Both is often praised for faithful representations of "southern luxuriance" and a "seeming fragrance of atmosphere." It may be so. But it is at any rate interesting to compare Both's version of the scenery of the Italian lakes with more modern renderings—such, for instance, as Bridell's “ Lake Como,” XX. 1205, p. 527. Visitors who know the scenery will be able to decide for themselves which version is truer to nature.
1 He died in 1662, or after. The date 1656, given in the Official Catalogue, must be a mistake, for an engraved portrait of him published at Antwerp in 1662 is inscribed “Jean Both, good and well-respected landscape painter, staying now at Utrecht, his native town."
53. AN EVENING LANDSCAPE.
Albert Cuyp (Dutch : 1605-1691). Cuyp was born at Dort, was a brewer by trade, and was a citizen of importance. As a painter, however, he had little reputation in his own country, and, as is the case with so many of the Dutch masters, it was in England that he was first appreciated. Even in 1750 one of his pictures sold for thirty florins ; in 1876 one fetched at Christie's £5040. The high esteem in which his works are thus held is justified alike by their own merits and by his important position in the history of landscape art. He is, in the first place, the principal master of pastoral landscape “ representing peasant life and its daily work, or such scenery as may naturally be suggestive of it, consisting usually of simple landscape, in part subjected to agriculture, with figures, cattle, and domestic buildings." Secondly, Cuyp has been called the “ Dutch Claude," for he was the first amongst the Dutch to “set the sun in the sky.” “ For expression of effects of yellow sunlight, parts might be chosen out of the good pictures of Cuyp, which have never been equalled in art.” It is sunshine, observe, that Cuyp paints, not sun colour. “Observe this accurately. Those easily understood effects of afternoon light, gracious and sweet so far as they reach, are produced by the softly warm or yellow rays of the sun falling through mist. They are low in tone, even in nature, and disguise the colours of objects. They are imitable even by persons who have little or no gift of colour, if the tones of the picture are kept low and in true harmony, and the reflected lights warm. But they never could be painted by great colourists. The fact of blue and crimson being effaced by yellow and gray, puts such effect at once out of the notice or thought of a colourist.” The task of painting the sun colour was reserved for Turner; yet Cuyp's pictures had a great influence over him. “He went steadily through the subdued golden chord, and painted Cuyp's favourite effect, 'sun rising through vapour,' for many a weary year. But this was not enough for him. He must paint the sun in his strength, the sun rising not through vapour. If you turn to the Apollo in the Ulysses and Polyphemus' (XXII. 508, p. 620), his horses are rising beyond the horizon—you see he is not ‘rising through vapour,' but above it ;-gaining somewhat of a victory over vapour, it appears. The old Dutch brewer, with his yellow mist, was a great man and a good guide, but he was not Apollo. He and his dray-horses led the way through the flats cheerily, for a little time ; we have other horses now flaming out beyond the mighty sea'” (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. ii. ch. i. § 19; vol. v. pt. ix. ch. xi. SS 3, 4).
An interesting study in what is called “truth of tone” may be made with this picture -- by which is meant the “exact relation and fitness of shadow and light, and of the hues of all objects under them; and more especially that precious quality of each colour laid on which makes it appear a quiet colour illuminated, not a bright colour in shade.” Now with regard to this Mr. Ruskin says, “I much doubt if there be a single bright Cuyp in the world, which, taken as a whole, does not present many glaring solecisms in tone. I have not seen many fine pictures of his which were not utterly spoiled by the vermilion dress of some principal figure, a vermilion totally unaffected and unwarmed by the golden hue of the rest of the picture ; and, what is worse, with little distinction between its own illumined and shaded parts, so that it appears altogether out of sunshine, the colour of a bright vermilion in dead, cold daylight. ... And these failing parts, though they often escape the eye when we are near the picture and able to dwell upon what is beautiful in it, yet so injure its whole effect that I question if there be many Cuyps in which vivid colours occur, which will not lose their effect and become cold and flat at a distance of ten or twelve paces, retaining their influence only when the eye is close enough to rest on the right parts without including the whole. Take, for instance, the large one in our National Gallery. (Seen at a distance) the black cow appears a great deal nearer than the dogs, and the golden tones of the distance look like a sepia drawing rather than like sunshine, owing chiefly to the utter want of aerial grays indicated through them” (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. ii. ch. i. SS 11, 19). 981. A STORM AT SEA. W. Vandevelde (Dutch : 1633–1707). See under 150, p. 215.
See also under XII. 819, p. 283—another piece of rough weather. 1168. PORTRAIT OF A JESUIT.
Willem van der Vliet (Dutch : 1584–1642). An admirable portrait by a rare master, and the only specimen in the Gallery by a Delft artist -a town as active in painting, as in the pottery which is still sought after by collectors. The Jesuit father, here depicted with so much quiet truth and skill, is a good representative of the great order which had at that time saved the Papacy. He is a student, but the crucifix is ever on his books. “The Jesuits appear,” says Macaulay, "to have discovered the precise point to which intellectual culture can be carried without risk of intellectual emancipation." But he turns round from his book and looks with a smile of
tender sadness on the spectator--he is ready to read your heart and to give you sympathy in return for confidences. 38. THE ABDUCTION OF THE SABINE WOMEN.
Rubens (Flemish : 1577-1640). Peter Paul Rubens, born on the festival of Saints Peter and Paul (hence his Christian name), is the chief glory of the Flemish School, and one of the great masters of the world. It is impossible to walk round any gallery where there are good specimens of his work and not to be impressed at once with his power. Here, one feels, is a strong man, who knew what he wanted to paint, and was able to paint it. Whatever moral or poetical feelings he had or had not, he was at any rate master of the painter's language, and this language is itself “ so difficult and so vast, that the mere possession of it argues the man is great, and that his works are worth reading." "I have never spoken,” says Mr. Ruskin elsewhere, “and I never will speak of Rubens but with the most reverential feeling; and whatever imperfections in his art may have resulted from his unfortunate want of seriousness and incapability of true passion, his calibre of mind was originally such that I believe the world may see another Titian and another Raphael, before it sees another Rubens.” Rubens affords in fact " the Northern parallel to the power of the Venetians.” Like the Vene. tians, too, he is a great colourist. The pictures by the later Northern painters which here hang around his are dark and gloomy; his are all bright and golden. He is like Paul Veronese, too, in his - gay grasp of the outside aspects of the world.” 2 His pictures in this Gallery embrace a wide range of subjects—some peaceful, others tumultuous—some religious, others profane, but over them all is the same guy glamour. “Alike, to Rubens, came subjects of tumult or tranquillity, of gaiety or terror ; the nether, earthly, and upper world were to him animated with the same feeling, lighted by the same sun; he dyed in the same lake of fire the warp of the wedding-garment or of the winding-sheet ; swept into the same delirium, the recklessness of the sensualist, and rapture of the anchorite ; saw in tears only their glittering, and in torture only its flush.” A fourth characteristic, which also cannot fail to be perceived in a general survey of Rubens's pictures in the Gallery, remains to be noticed. In all his exuberant joyousness is a strain of coarseness, "a want of feeling for grace and mystery.” There is an
1 Mr. Ruskin's analysis of Rubens's technical method, which is here omitted as foreign to the scope of this handbook, will be found in his re. view of Eastlake's History of Oil Painting, now reprinted in On the Old Road, i. 133-205.
2 • The conditions of art in Flanders—wealthy, bourgeois, proud, freewere not dissimilar to those of art in Venice. The misty flats of Belgium have some of the atmospheric qualities of Venice. As Van Eyck is to the Vivarini, so is Rubens to Paolo Veronese. This expresses the amount of likeness and difference" (Symonds, iii. 362 n.)
absence everywhere of refinement and delicacy, a preference everywhere for abundant and excessive types. Madonnas, goddesses, Roman matrons have all alike a touch of grossness.
It is instructive to notice how, in all these respects, the art of Rubens was characteristic of the circumstances of his life and time. In the first place, though he travelled in many lands, Rubens remained to the end a Fleming, every inch of him.2 “A man long trained to love the monk's visions of Fra Angelico, turns in proud and ineffable disgust from the first work of Rubens which he encounters on his return across the Alps. But is he right in his indignation ? He has forgotten that while Angelico prayed and wept in his olive shade, there was different work doing in the dank fields of Flanders ; wild seas to be banked out; endless canals to be dug, and boundless marshes to be drained ; hard ploughing and harrowing of the frosty clay ; careful breeding of stout horses and fat cattle ; close setting of brick walls against cold winds and snow; much hardening of hands and gross stoutening of bodies in all this; gross jovialities of harvest homes and Christmas feasts which were to be the reward of it; rough affections, and sluggish imaginations; fleshy, substantial, iron-shod humanities, but humanities still; humanities which God had his eye upon, and which won, perhaps, here and there, as much favour in his sight as the wasted aspects of the whispering monks of Florence. (Heaven forbid it should not be so, since the most of us cannot be monks, but must be ploughmen and reapers still.) And are we to suppose there is no nobility in Rubens's masculine and universal sympathy with all this, and with his large human rendering of it, Gentleman though he was, by birth, and feeling, and education, and place ; and, when he chose, lordly in conception also ? He had his faults,
perhaps great and lamentable faults, though more those of his time · and his country than his own; he has neither cloister breeding nor
boudoir breeding, and is very unfit to paint either in missals or annuals ; but he has an open sky and wide-world breeding in him, that we may not be offended with, fit alike for king's court, knight's camp, or peasant's cottage.” It is thus that Rubens was a child of Flanders. But he was also a child of the intellectual time in which he lived. He was born at a time, says Mr. Ruskin, when the Reformation had been arrested-his father, curiously enough, had fled from Antwerp as a Reformer, but afterwards returned to Catholicism. “The Evangelicals despised the arts, while the Roman Catholics were effete or insincere, and could not retain influence over men of strong reasoning power. The painters could only associate frankly with men of the world, and themselves became men of the world. Men, I mean, having no belief in spiritual existences, no interests or affections beyond the grave.
1 Rubens would have agreed, one may think, with that saying of Blake's (in the Marriage of Heaven and Hell), “ Exuberance is Beauty."
2 See, for a further instance of this, what is said of Rubens's landscapes below under 66, p. 232.