THERE is not a collection of paintings in the world of equal importance which is as badly displayed as the collection of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Here are one thousand two hundred and fifty paintings, among which are found some of the choicest works of the most famous artists, crowded together in a few rooms on the second floor of the north-west wing of the magnificent building on the Schiller Platz.
The sketch of the floor-plan will give some idea of the manner of this display. The large Gallery V is about one hundred feet long by twenty wide, lit on one side by nine windows. A row of six-teen screens reaching from floor to ceiling forms seventeen alcoves and leaves one long wall. The alcoves with the uneven numbers are favoured with a window and are well lit, but one is not able to view the paintings there at the proper distance. In the even-numbered divisions the windows have been boarded up, so that they are nothing but dark cupboards; still every inch of wall-space is covered, fortunately, however, with unimportant works. In all the rooms the paintings are hung from floor to ceiling, with the frames touching each other, so that not an inch of space may be lost. In Rooms I-IV and VI many fine pictures are put in dark corners. Only in the narrow corridor, also divided by screens, which runs along Room V, can we enjoy the fine paintings displayed there.
I have already described in Chapter I the origin and general characteristics of this collection. We will now turn to view those paintings which stand out prominently in this chaotic display. The absence of a catalogue which for a number of years has been out of print need not trouble us, since the paintings are readily identified, for they are numbered and supplied with tablets giving title and artist’s name. The numbering is arbitrary on the walls, as it indicates the order in which the paintings were added to the collection, and the hanging is also somewhat confusing; but I will endeavour to aid as far as possible in finding the pictures mentioned, and discuss them in a more orderly manner than they are presented.
THE ITALIAN PAINTINGS
The Venetians are here, as in the Imperial Museum, in largest numbers. A few important pictures of the other Italian schools are, however, likewise to be seen.
Although Dr. Suida grows enthusiastic over a tondo in Room I, ” Madonna with Child and two Angels” (No. 1133), declaring this to be an authentic work by Sandro Botticelli, I do not find in this interesting painting anything more than that it came from his studio. While it bears Sandro’s design, it lacks the sensuous charm of his arabesque curves, and the grace and movement of his lovely lines. Nor is the colour as bright and harmonious as we should find it in the work of this greatest pre-Raphaelite. The composition, indeed, is pleasing, naïve and poetic, as maybe expected in Botticelli’s smaller designs. The Child has rushed to its mother with the flowers the Angels have given it, but the mother draws him to her with anxious forebodings, and the little one looks questioningly in her face, surprised that its joy is not shared. The angels, also, have lost their gaiety and witness Mary’s sadness with sympathy.
Another tondo, the ” Madonna del Candelabro (No. 1134, near the middle window) has by many been considered an early work of Michelangelo, although Dr. Frirnmel suspects it to be Marcello Venusti, after comparing it with a signed painting of this artist in the Leipzig Museum. Venusti was noted for copying Michelangelo’s larger paintings to a reduced size, in which, as a skilful draughts-man, he was very successful. Leaving the author-ship aside we may regard this as a rich Florentine painting of the 16th century, of delicate and neat execution. The Madonna sits on a throne and holds the Child on her knee, while the young John sits on a low stool by her side. The figures have a peculiar attenuated appearance with large heads. A richly sculptured candelabra stands on the tesselated floor near the Madonna’s chair.
A good example of the Sienese school of the 14th century is an apocalyptic scene (No. 48, near the first window), by Bartolo di Fredi, in which the Elders adore the Lamb. It is strong in facial character, but detail is somewhat carried to excess.
The Umbrians were the spiritual heirs of the Sienese in the following century. A few pictures represent them. There is a miniature of the Ma-donna with Saints and Donors (No. 1095, near the first window), which may well be from the brush of Bernardino Pintoricchio. This artist, one of the principal Umbrian painters, has until recently been quite overlooked. Although the gorgeous splendour of his fresco painting in the Cathedral Library of Siena indicates the decadent tendency of his later work, still the miniature be-fore us shows the greater sincerity of his earlier art.
An exceedingly rare work is a ” Presentation in the Temple” (No. 493), by Galeazzo Campi. The architectonic composition in which the three principal figures are placed around a sexagonal altar under an arch is characteristic of the Cremonese. A ” Sancta Conversazione Mariae ” (No. 495), with God, the Father, and St. Hieronymus in the clouds, is by Lodovico Mazzolino, of Ferrara. It is richly coloured, but somewhat gaudy, nor does its minute finishing add to the merit of such large paintings.
Turning to the numerous Venetian paintings we note one of the earliest examples of the 14th century, still showing the influence of the great Florentine Giotto and his Byzantine traditions. This is by Lorenzo Veneziano. The ” Madonna ” (No. 51), holding the Child, sits on a throne which is richly carved and inlaid with ivory figures of saints. Small angels, playing on musical instruments, surround her, four of these seated on the ornate throne-steps. The rich colour is enhanced by the gold background and aureolas. The original carved frame surrounding this picture is worthy of note.
A small altarpiece, in tempera, showing thirteen Passion scenes (No. 22, on the left wall), dates from the 15th century. Comparison with a painting in the Academia in Venice declares it to be related to Michele di Matteo Lambertini, an artist of whom little is known except that he worked in the middle of the Quattrocento. A new colour-element becomes apparent in this work of the transition period, and a seeking for light-effect, notably in the light horizons of the scenes presenting the Descent from the Cross, and the Ascension. The gradually developing sense for landscape, still crude and unrealistic, is felt in the scene of Christ on the Mount of Olives.
Alvise Vivarini came a little later, when the Bellinis had made the Venetian school prominent. A full-length figure of a nun (No. 24, left wall), whose martyrdom is indicated by the palm branch which she holds in her right hand, is apparently the pendant of the St. Clare of the Venice Academy. The long robe shows dexterity in painting the folds, but the hands are poorly done. Many of Alvise’s best paintings go by the name of Antonello da Messina or of Giovanni Bellini.
A little picture, showing ” Christ on the Mount of Olives ” (No. 76, centre window), is by his contemporary Carlo Crivelli. This artist was a reactionary, harking back to the pre-Giottesque period of Cimabue. Crivelli was consciously and wilfully archaic, both in drawing and technique. When all painters were trying oil, he clung with desperate fondness to tempera, and enriched his surfaces with gold and jewels, as had been the byzantine practice. In his drawing he reverted to a rigid position of his Madonnas, with faces pale and corpselike, their emaciated arms bare to the elbows, and small and withered hands stretching out from their sleeves. His figures are ill-favoured beings, lean and ugly, in which melancholy repose is less habitual than grimace; yet he surprises us by the life he concentrates into their action and expression.
There is no artist of more striking individuality than Crivelli; no one who had more complete mastery over his means of expression, or attained more nearly to his ideal. A refined fanaticism characterises his work generally, but it is always not only refined but coherent. Gradually he showed a marked tendency to indulge in splendour and elaboration, and his pictures in this sense become more and more purely decorative. Then every square inch of his panel attests the inexhaustible richness of his invention and the gorgeous brilliancy of his enamellike surfaces.
But the mosaic sparkle of his glittering splendour is sadly dimmed in the little panel before us, and scarcely to be noted, for it has been very badly preserved.
One of the finest works of a second-rate master is ” St. Veneranda Enthroned ” (No. 53, rear wall). This is by Lazaro Sebastiani, an artist who apparently received his training from Gentile Bellini and Carpaccio, yet followed more closely the lead of Quirizio da Murano with his stiff lines and homely features. The painting before us is of very large size, and in the centre the saint sits on a high ornate throne like a goddess of Justice, holding an open folio facing us. Saintly women and little angels are disposed on each side of the throne, which is represented as standing in a part of the Corpus Domini Church of Venice.
A ” Christ bearing the Cross ” (No. 509), in half-figure, is by Giovanni Pedrini, a pupil and imitator of Leonardo da Vinci, whose style he exaggerated.
The principal painting in Room II is one of the choicest of the collection. It is a work by Francesco Francia (No. 505, right wall), of whom we have already seen a fine example in the Imperial Museum. The Madonna, holding the Child standing on her knee, sits on a throne. A baldacchino, gracefully draped, serves as a background for the figure, while the sainted bishop Petronius on one side, and St. Luke with the open gospel on the other, flank the throne. The painting is brilliant with a rich and glowing colour scheme. The figures of the saints are vigorous and manly, their robes flowing in heavy, but easy folds to their feet. They are typical of the grave and deeply religious spirit with which the great Bolognese stamped his work.
Francia’s influence did not extend far beyond his immediate surroundings. He occupied a place apart towards the close of the Renaissance as a great master whose religious feeling did never rise, indeed, to the perfervid ecstasy of Fra Angelico, but was deep, warm-hearted and sympathetic. His meticulous finish, gracious angelfaces, and quietistic feeling rendered him very popular in his day.
Most of the other works in this Room are copies; some, after Bramantino of Milan, Girolamo Muziano, and Torbido Varotari, are interesting.
Two works by Vittore Carpaccio greet us on entering Room III. They hang near the window in a good light. The one represents an ” Annunciation” (No. 43), the other “The Death of Mary ” (No. 49). Beauty of colour and purity of form are combined with wonderful originality of composition in the work of this very personal genius. His imagination was full of subtle inventions and happy surprises which set him apart and in a class by himself among the Venetians of his period. The ” Annunciation ” especially is a beautiful work, divided in half by one of the two fine columns that enclose Mary’s dormitory. The other half of the painting shows a formal Italian garden in which the long-winged angel is approaching. A vignette of God the Father is in the upper left corner. It is a triumph of colour and of pictorial quality. The Apostles, three kneeling priests, and a choir of angels surround the bier of Mary on the other canvas. Although not so well preserved, it yet reveals the sunny glow of its colours.
A large ” Crucifixion” (No. 90), with many figures and hilly landscape background, covers the rear-wall of this room. It is ascribed to Donato Veneziano. Of the two artists known by this name one was active about 1450, the other one does not appear until after 1500. The latter is most likely the author of this work, which is only interesting because of the historical details of costume to be gathered from it. Otherwise it has little of artistic value.
A Lombard painter of the 16th century shows ” Christ bearing the Cross ” (No. 46). It is an impressive single figure, dressed in a light blue robe, bent under the penal burden.
In Room IV we find several interesting works. A large painting shows the ” Martyrdom of St. Marc” (No. 87). This was ordered in 1514 for the Scuola di San Marco from the elder Bellini, who made the design but had to leave the painting unfinished at his death, two years later. It was completed by Vittore Belliniano, whose hand is readily detected in the colder colour and in the aggressiveness of the donors’ portraits. The landscape, the finely conceived buildings on the left, and the gold-brown tones of the colours running towards the background indicate conclusively the work of the greater master.
In the centre of the principal wall is a painting (No. 466) that may well be ascribed to Titian, although some have questioned its authenticity. This ” Cupid ” (Plate XXII) is seated on a stone wall, stretching his bow. A large, brightly-lit cloud crowns the background. This work must come from Titian’s early Giorgionesque period, for the same landscape and house-group appear in his ” Noli me tangere ” of the National Gallery, and in Giorgione’s ” Sleeping Venus ” of Dresden.
A contemporary of Titian was Cima de Conegliano, by whom we find here the middle part of a large lunette (No. 14), which he painted for the Doge’s Palace of Venice. We see St. Marc, seated on a throne, flanked by St. Andrew and by Bishop Louis of Toulouse. The two ends of this lunette were cut off the original canvas and are now preserved in the Academy of Venice. These show the full-length figures of Temperance and of Justice. The Friulian landscape which Cima generally introduced is enlivened here by numerous birds, pheasants and parrots, and is clear and brilliant in colour. Cima shows an advance over Bellini’s art, for his composition is better, his drawing more correct, the expression of the faces more grave, and his colouring by no means inferior.
Of a number of portraits which bear the name of Jacopo Tintoretto but few may be considered authentic. The best one is the ” Portrait of the Procurator Contarini ” (No. 13). The full-bearded face is splendidly painted, and has that air of good breeding which Jacopo was able to infuse, as much as Titian did, into his likenesses.
A notable work is a fresco painting, transferred to canvas, of a scene in old Venice (No. 1126). A group of three young men is seen standing under the arches of the Doge’s Palace. One points to a funeral procession of gondolas, illuminated by torches, which is passing along the Grand Canal. S. Giorgio Maggiore is to the left in the background, the palace of the Giudecca to the right. In the beauty of the background, in the charm of the lines and the colouring, there is enough to make us think of the art of Giorgione, a man whose short life was filled with the full spirit of the Renaissance.
Dating from the Italian student days of Domenico Theotocopuli, el Greco, is an ” Annunciation ” (No. 471), which was undoubtedly inspired by the magnificent painting of this subject by Tintoretto, now in the Berlin Museum. Little of el Greco’s mannerism of figure-elongation is here apparent.
A “Resting Venus” (No. 472), by Alessandro Varotari, called Padovanino, if compared with the treatment of this subject by Giorgione and Titian, shows the decay of Venetian art in the 17th century. Men like Padovanino, Liberi, and Pietro della Vecchia, devoid of original conceptions, fell back on painting variations of the work of the greater masters which had proved most popular. Sometimes even they shamelessly manufactured for distant markets paintings that were intended to pass as the works of Titian, Veronese, and Giorgione.
The first two divisions of the long GALLERY V contain a few of the later Italians, and many copies.
The ” Ascension of Mary ” (No. 456) is by an imitator of Guido Reni, and identical to this master’s altarpiece in the S. Ambrogio at Genoa. A ” Mater Dolorosa ” (No. 26) is undoubtedly by Sassoferrato. It is an imitation of Raphael’s Florentine manner, whereof the sentimentality and silvery tone still possess a certain charm.
In the second division we note several Venetian scenes by Francesco Guardi; and a sketch of the ” Allegory of Dawn ” (No. 484), by Tiepolo, who still retained the quality of force which his con-temporaries were losing. The half-figure of St. Bruno (No. 517) shows also that he was by no means deficient as a delineator of character.
THE SPANISH PAINTINGS
are found in the third compartment of the long Gallery. Among a number of copies we note at once one of the finest examples of Bartolomé Estéban Murillo. It is one of his celebrated beggar-boys pictures, upon which so large a portion of his fame rests, although not one example of these is to be found in any public gallery in Spain. These ” Dice-playing Boys ” (No. 515. Plate XXIII) are, if anything, more attractive than his famous ” Melon-eaters ” of the Munich Pinakothek.
Few men have so well understood the art of pictorial composition, or known so well how to charm the eye by gradations of light, skilful but unstudied attitudes, and adroit foreshortenings. And never did he paint as lovingly, with such peculiar delight, as when he depicted the jocund poverty of Andalusian gamins. This is a picture which fully illustrates the gift for colour wherewith nature had endowed the master. It is unctuous, warm and charming, for the nonce consistently harmonious in its colouring, for sometimes Murillo failed in this, here he is exquisitely inspired. Only by placing this work alongside of a Velasquez, with his aristocratic, masterful palette, does it become merely pretty. By itself it has all the pungency of local colour, a lifelike and picturesque humanity.
The successor of Velasquez in court-favour, Carreño de Miranda, is represented by a large composition (No. 511), a sketch for the “Founding of the Order of Trinitarians,” which he painted later as an altarpiece in the church of Pamplona. It is broadly handled, and the light-effects are well indicated.
A ” Christ among the Doctors ” (No. 512) is of artistic value, but nothing is known of its reputed author Mathias de Torres. It is an unusual presentment of the youthful Messiah discoursing ex cathedra with heavily-shawled rabbis occupying the pupil-benches. Also an ” Ecce Homo (No. 1082), by an unknown Spaniard, deserves recognition. There is here also an excellent copy, probably contemporaneous, of a portrait of Philip IV on horseback, of Velasquez (No. 513). Another portrait, that of a Lady (No. 514), was for a time thought to be by Velasquez himself, but is now considered to be in the style of Cornelis de Vos, to whom is also ascribed the portrait of a boy (No. 661, on the long wall). Both are decidedly Flemish and do not belong to this section.
We will now leave this Gallery for the present and enter the long CORRIDOR, where we find first
THE EARLY GERMAN PAINTINGS.
In the first compartment we find a ” Lamentation of Christ (No. 35), which bears the name of Albrecht Dürer, on the suggestion of Waagen. Although the technique points to the great Nuremberg master, there is much more that points to an author of less dramatic force. The relative sizes of the figures, irrationally diminishing, indicate a crude and unsuccessful attempt at linear perspective in which Dürer would never have failed. The earlier ascription to Lucas Cranach is more probably correct.
A landscape with the Holy Family (No. 564) is by the monogrammist H.P., and is a naïve presentation of the first steps the child Jesus is taking, guided by Joseph.
Of great interest is an early example of Hans Baldung Grien, a ” Rest on the Flight to Egypt ” (No. 545, Plate XXIV). A replica of this picture, with but slight variations in the landscape and the omission of the putto in the lower left corner, is found in the Germanic Museum of Nuremberg. The Madonna is resting at the foot of a heavy, moss-laden tree. The Child embraces her caressingly. A putto has gathered a basket of strawberries, and is now getting water from the spring, while Joseph is studying a map for his travels to the unknown land a queer anachronism.
The Strassburger Baldung came nearest to Dürer among all his contemporaries in energetic drawing, even surpassing him in movement and picturesque ornament. Not a single old man’s head by Dürer even of his famous Apostles in the Uffizi surpasses the force and characterisation of Joseph’s portrait in the picture before us.
The examples found here of Lucas Cranach, the Elder, complement the study of his works in the Imperial Museum. We find here a fine nude figure, signed and dated 1532, named “Lucretia” (No. 557), in the style of his ” Venus ” of the same year which is now in Frankfort. How little his style, which underwent a marked transition in larger compositions, changed in these subjects may be seen by comparing this Lucretia with Cranach’s ” Venus and Cupid ” of the Hermitage, which was painted in 1509. An earlier work is one of his rare presentations from the antique, the ” Struggle of Hercules with Antaeus” (No. 1148), a subject which he had often seen portrayed in upper-Italian etchings. The amorous conflict between an elderly lover and a coy maiden who abstracts money from his pouch (No, 559), is a variation of the same subject, from Cranach’s own hand, which we saw in the Imperial Museum. The painting here is probably a studio repetition. Several other school pictures (Nos. 576, 595, 542, 544) further exemplify Cranach’s style.
There is a highly coloured and richly composed ” Memento Mori ” (No. 572) by the monogram-mist H.F., most likely the Basel painter Hans Fries, who worked under Holbein’s influence. Behind a man of middle age the skeleton Death appears with his hour-glass to admonish the end of all things. Although there is much resemblance in technical execution between this picture and a ” Death of Mary” (No. 573), it seems that the latter belongs rather to the Altdorfer school.
A “Last Judgment” (No. 554), is by Johann Rottenhammer, or else a contemporaneous copy ; and a ” Rest on the Flight to Egypt ” (No. 253) is by another late 16th century artist, Bartholomaeus Spranger. A finely pencilled ” Venus in a wooded Landscape ” (No. 726) is easily recognised as by Adam Elsheimer.
THE DUTCH AND FLEMISH PAINTINGS
are all found in this Corridor, and we must return to its first compartment to view a notable work by Lukas van Leyden. This is called ” The Sibyl of Tibur and the Emperor Augustus ” (No. 568. Plate XXV).
Very few of the easel-pictures of Lukas van Leyden are known to exist, Holland possessing only one altarpiece, a “Last Judgment,” now in the Lakenhal of Leyden. Our picture here is in tempera and transferred to canvas, the colours having darkened considerably. It represents the legend that years before the birth of Christ the Tiburtinian Sibyl showed to the Emperor Augustus the image of the Madonna holding the Babe. This painting furnishes an interesting instance of the results of critical study. The Madonna vignette which appears at the top is a veritable copy of Dürer’s woodcut which appeared in 1508, so that the painting must have been made after that date. But we note further the tendency to figure-elongation which appears in the engravings which we have of Lukas van Leyden, but which disappears in his later paintings. It is plausible therefore to place this work in the early years of this very precocious artist, or about 1510 or 1512.
Nearby hangs a “Holy Family ” (No. 556), attributed to the Master of the Death of Mary, or Joost van Cleve, to give him the name found for him.
On the long wall we find a genuine example of the elusive Hendrik met de Bles. This ” Rocky Landscape” (No. 548), with scenes from the Passion in small figures, is signed with the little owl, which gave the artist his Italian name of Civeta. An old copy of Hendrik’s work hangs in the third compartment (No. 551). The copyist was well able to follow his exemplar in the small figures and animals of these scenes from the life of Christ and of John the Baptist, but he could not reach him in the landscpe part, which is flaccid and weak.
The fourth compartment contains much of interest. The only work in Vienna of the rare Dirk Bouts of Haarlem, who went to Louvain to study with Rogier van der Weyden, is found here. It is a “Coronation of Mary ” (No. 558), a magnificent work which formerly was thought worthy to be ascribed to Memlinc, but was rightly assigned by Waagen. The Munich examples of this master deal more with the solution of light-problems in landscape, but here we find an equally masterful rendition of interior light. The architectonic canopy, under which the persons of the Trinity place the crown upon the head of the kneeling Madonna, fills almost the entire panel. Still there is room for the skilfully grouped choir of singing angels on each side. The light, which apparently comes from the front as well as through the cathedral windows in the background, enriches the soft harmony of the colours.
The ” Three Crosses (No. 552), on which a forged monogram of Dürer is found, is by a weak follower of Memlinc. Among the many figures we find the Magdalene, dressed in white, most impressive. Another “Crucifixion” (No. 555) can-not, although the tablet so ascribes it, be given to an old-Flemish master it bears more the impress of German workmanship under North-Netherland influences. The coats of arms, moreover, displayed in the foreground, point to Silesia and Bavaria. Frimmel suggests a new name among the large number of anonimi for the unknown painter of this picture. He would call him the Master of the Big Nose, and claims to have found a related work in the Gallery of Modena, the figures of which have also long noses. The same critic ascribes a very fine, small altarpiece (No. 567 and 570) to Cornelis Engelbrechtsen, the teacher of Lukas van Leyden a rare find, if true, for only two of his works are known to exist in Holland.
A large triptych (Nos. 579-581) is by Hieronymus or Jeroen Bosch, the fantastic painter of queer creatures and monstrosities, who satirised human frailties by picturing the analogous torments to be expected hereafter. The middle panel shows the Last Judgment, the left wing Paradise and the Fall of man, the right wing Purgatory and Hell. It is a characteristic work which plainly shows the fount wherefrom the later Flemings, Pieter Breughel and the younger Teniers, and also Dürer and Cranach drew their inspiration.
Quite a chronological jump is made when we find hanging in this same partition a masterpiece by the 17th century Pieter de Hooch. This ” Family Group ” (No. 715. Plate XXVI) gives a graphic description of the social life of the Dutch patricians of the 17th century. The scene is the back yard of the home of the old gentleman who sits at the teatable. Visitors approach, and one has departed through the open door in the fence which separates the rear yards of the abutting houses. The entire scene is bathed in sunlight, and the view is enlarged by the magnificent aerial perspectif. The different planes melt into one another by imperceptible gradations. It is a simple scene which becomes wonderfully animated by the vital transcription of nature.
In the next compartment we find a magnificent ” Portrait of a Young Woman ” (No. 611), by Rembrandt, which is dated 1632, the year of the famous Anatomy Lesson, when the artist was but twenty-six. The young girl is seated in an arm-chair, in an easy attitude as if ready for conversation without any idea of pose. The simplicity of her plain black dress is only relieved by the lace manchettes at the wrists, the stiff pleated tulle ruff which circles the neck, and the dainty lace cap that fits snugly over the flat-combed hair. The figure is well defined against the dark background. The face is entirely in light, lifelike and fresh in colour. The whole portrait is finished with extreme care, as was then the master’s way, yet it does not lack freedom in the treatment, for the utmost vitality animates even now this young girl of Amsterdam of three centuries ago.
A direct pupil of Rembrandt was Gabriel Metsu. He was of an impressionable character, and in his short life of seven and thirty years he painted in the style of each one of his teachers, Dou, Jan Steen, and Rembrandt. The last one had naturally most influence on his work. The ” Amorous Pleading” (No. 658) is an unusually large composition for this one of the Little Masters so called because of the usually small size of the pictures these Great Masters painted. It is entirely in that later broad style of Rembrandt which finds its clearest echo in the work of Govert Flinck and van den Eeckhout.
One of the last disciples of Rembrandt was Aert van Gelder, an artist who was too eccentric to attain to eminence, and whose work is at its best when he follows his master’s example with reserve. We find here a ” Judah and Thamar ” (No. 817) in worthy imitation of Rembrandt’s later biblical compositions.
One of the earliest pupils in the studio on the Jewish Breestraat in Amsterdam had been Nicolaas Maes perhaps the most gifted of them all, who has painted works that rival in true artistic merit the work of Rembrandt and Hals, as may be seen especially in the Ryksmuseum of Amsterdam. But in his later years he succumbed to the demands of the Frenchified taste of his countrymen, and he painted a number of children’s portraits, as well as adults for the patrician families of his time in a style that may be called pleasing, but certainly was meretricious. An example of this later period we find here in the ” Portrait of a Boy ” (No. 670), dressed in a fancy costume, with a number of bright plumes on his hat.
Of greater artistic merit, and of rare excellence withal, is the ” Cello Player ” (No. 734. Plate XXVII), by Dirk Hals, the elder brother of Frans. He was among the first to devote himself to genre painting, which he executed with unconventional unction. His light brush, his brilliant colour, laid on thinly over a greyish ground and sharply accentuated, suited the themes and the small scale of his pictures, which are quite rare. An example of his social groups is also found here (No. 684), which shows dexterous grouping and excellent painting of textures.
Pieter Codde painted like subjects, but he was more stiff in posing and arrangement, although his assemblies excel in fine colour and careful minuteness, as may be seen in the ” Dance Party ” (No. 1096), in the sixth compartment. A ” Duet ” (No. 696) of two musicians is possibly from Codde’s hand, although the name of Jacob Duck has also been mentioned. Of this artist we find here an undoubted example in a ” Sleeping Maiden, surprised by a Cavalier ” (No. 713).
Somehow several pictures by the great Fleming, David Teniers the Younger, are found here among the Dutchmen. One, a small bust-piece of a ” Young Man ” (No. 690), is only problematically ascribed to him, but No. 865 is undoubtedly genuine, and leads us to a witches’ dance on a Walpurgis night. It would be difficult to match the mad conceits and wild orgies of the kobolds and goblins in this picture. One may hear the noise of singing, screaming, screeching and croaking in the delirious gambol. The artist also depicted the “.Five Senses ” (No. 821-825) in the form of peasants quite an antithesis to Makart’s ravishing divinities representing the Senses which we shall see in the Lower Belvedere.
Immediate pupils of Frans Hals were the two Adriaens, Brouwer and van Ostade. Adriaen Brouwer, by birth a Fleming, but trained in Haarlem, showed more grossness in his peasant scenes than van Ostade whose humour was keener and, as far as the subject allowed, more refined. A rare “Dune Landscape” (No. 705) is by Brouwer’s own hand, while No. 888 is a copy of a peasant scene in a tavern, the original of which is in Budapest. By Adriaen van Ostade we find a ” Comic Reader ” (No. 732), and in the next, the seventh compartment, ” Two Peasants in the Tavern” (No. 724). These pictures are spark-ling with good-humour, less boisterous than Brouwer’s peasants, and distinctly amusing.
Pieter de Bloot, of whom little is known, painted droll scenes in like vein see his “Landscape” (No. 830) with many small figures. A ” Drunken Frolic of two Peasants ” (No. 721) is by Cornelis Pietersz. Bega, one of van Ostade’s pupils. Also Cornelis Dusart, coming from the same studio, kept himself to the tavern for his models, but still depicted the plain people with homely beauty and charm. An excellent example is No. 698, of a peasant and his wife. Richard Brakenburgh is as lively as the rest, but he lacks definite colour-sense see No. 725.
There is still found in this sixth partition a masterpiece of the London-born Pieter Molyn, who became a member of the Guild of Haarlem in 1616. This Scene before an Inn” (No. 730) is distinguished by suppleness of handling, broad and striking treatment, and truthful conception.
We find several excellent examples in the seventh compartment by the Dutch portrait painters, although the best of these we shall see later in Gallery V. One of the first who specialised in painting portraits was Antonis Mor. He was early impressed by Titian, but developed an original style which excels in warm colour and roundness of form, more indicated by the management of the colour than by the sharpness of line. His ” Portrait of a Young Man ” (No. 1127) is a characteristic example.
Pupils of Rembrandt were Fabricius and Bol. Barent Fabricius has here one of his finest works, a well-dressed young man, carrying a shepherd’s staff (No. 639). The face is exceedingly well blocked in, strong and characterful, while the light-effect is luminous. Ferdinand Bol was far less talented. His early work bears unmistakably the stamp of his master, but in later years he became very uncertain and lost the power of chiaroscuro, his pictures merely having a yellow tone. The ” Man with a grey Beard ” (No. 610) is of this later period. One of the last men of the golden age of Dutch art, and one of the weakest, was Willem van Mieris. His ” Portrait of a fat Gentleman ” (No. 1083), a bust, is but an indifferent performance.
We find here also the work of the men who combined landscape with figures. One of the earliest was Cornelis van Poelenburgh, who painted in Elsheimer’s manner. The example here (No. 666) represents a group of mythological divinities, Venus, Bacchus, Ceres, and two cupids, holding a conversazione in the clouds.
More national in feeling was Philip Wouwerman here with two fine examples, a “Camp scene ” (No. 691) and a ” Cavalry Battle ” (No. 835), the latter an unusually large composition. The landscape portion, with foliage verdant and clear, is an important part, and does credit to the instruction Wouwerman received from the early landscape painter Jan Wynants. But horses were Philip’s favourite study, and their form and action is impeccably shown in his work. An exceedingly rare cattlepiece by Philip’s younger brother, Pieter Wouwerman, of whom little is known, hangs near.
The group of Italianised Dutch landscape painters is represented by Pieter van Laer, called Barnboccio, by whom we have a scene of Roman country life (No. 790), and an ” Italian Landscape ” (No. 834), with numerous figures. Also a peculiar mixture of Dutch and Italian manner is offered by Johannes Lingelbach, showing a public square in Rome (No. 803). Jan Both, despite his Italian leaning, still retained some of his racial characteristics, as we detect in a ” Landscape ” (No. 593), where the warm southern sunlight suffuses the scene in a Dutch, i. e., an atmospheric manner, and not in the bald, hot tint of the thorough-paced Italians.
The ninth compartment contains six examples by Nicolas Berchem, all painted in the artist’s Italian manner. Although a pupil of van Goyen, Berchem never quite overcame the impressions gained by a later sojourn in Italy, so that his landscapes are always mountainous and dotted with ruins, while his peasants or beggars hail from the Roman Campagna. Still he gives these scenes a northern semblance by luminous atmospheric effects. Similar scenes were painted by Jan, called Krabbetje Asselyn, better known as a painter of fowls, but who shows great strength, and nowhere more so, in the landscape we find here. The small ” Cavalier ” (No. 709) was painted by the precocious youth when only fourteen years old. A ” Landscape ” (No. 836), with the seashore in the distance, and an ” Italian landscape ” (No. 869) are of his later years. These are colourful and of poetic feeling. Several animal paintings by Karel du Jardin are in this and in the next, the tenth, compartment.
Better cattle painting is found, in the eleventh division, in the ” Market” (No. 874), by Adriaen van de Velde, an artist who was equally proficient in painting landscapes, coastviews, domestic animals, and human figures. His sense of tone and colour is to be admired, as well as his delicacy of form and outline. He shows a wonderful subtlety in the gradations of almost neutral hues.
But the great landscape painters greet us now. We find here two examples, and in the twelfth division two more, of the foremost Dutch landscapist, Jacob van Ruisdael. In an ” Autumn Landscape (No. 881) night is softly folding the heavy trees in slumbrous darkness. The ” Landscape with the Board-fence ” (No. 893), although by Hofstede de Groot considered to be the master-piece of the little-known Gerrit van Hees, bears not only Ruisdael’s signature, but fully the impress of his masterful treatment. The ” Forest Landscape ” (No. 889) is his masterpiece here. A rich wooded stretch, with a brook on which two ducks are swimming in the foreground, is further enlivened by a few human figures trudging along the path. The sun, now disappearing, then again bursting forth, illuminates the scene with a golden glow. It is a most charming picture, brighter in mood than the melancholy master usually painted. His usual note of gloom is forcibly struck in the ” Coming Storm” (No. 877), where a shepherd hurries his flock through the oak forest to escape the blast. Ruisdael loved to paint trees and dense thickets, the impressiveness of which no one has felt or expressed better. His was a grave mind, often dominated by moody clouds, and he chose the grave, sombre aspects of nature more frequently than her bright side but even in his pathos he was picturesque.
The man who inspired Ruisdael to paint his magnificent views of tumbling water, whereof we saw a masterpiece in the Imperial Museum was Allert van Everdingen. This adventurous artist had taken a sea-trip to the Baltic with a friendly captain, and had suffered shipwreck on the Norwegian coast. The romantic wilds of these regions, the grand forms of rocks, and the picturesque water-falls completely enamoured him, and with his facile touch he soon transferred them to canvas. It was a new subject for the Hollanders, and the artist became exceedingly popular, much to his pecuniary advantage. His large ” Waterfall ” (No. 823) may duly be considered one of his chefs d’oeuvre.
Jan van Goyen was the pathfinder of landscape art, and stands only next to Jacob van Ruisdael in eminence. His manner is very individual, for he developed from a realistic presentation of the colours of nature to a gradual subordination of colour to tone, keeping his pictures in but one key, usually brown or grey. His ” View of Dordrecht ” (No. 814. Plate XXVIII) is a characteristic example. The large ” Marine ” (No. 736. Compartment 14) is also a beautiful painting with its placid water where tall craft lazily float.
A notable marine painter, only lately fully appreciated, was Simon de Vlieger, whose fine light-effect is attractive in a ” Harbour ” (No. 876) with many vessels riding at anchor in the road-stead. Willem van de Velde shows more agitated water in Nos. 788 and 792, but these examples are not so good as the work of this artist in the Ryksmuseum at Amsterdam.
In the last division of the Corridor we find some interesting works by the architectural painters. These are principally church-interiors by Pieter Neeffs, Emanuel de Witte, and several by Hendrik van Vliet, of exquisite light-management. There are also city views by Jan van der Heyden and by Gerrit Berckheyden.
Retracing now our steps through the Corridor we return to GALLERY V, and resume our survey there with the fifth alcove. Here we find the works of Peter Paul Rubens. At least three of these belong to the finest products of the master’s brush; while over a dozen other examples are interesting sketches, many of these for ceiling paintings of the Antwerp Jesuit church which was burned in 1718.
The ” Abduction of Oreithyia by Boreas ” (No. 626) is a famous work. The nymph, struggling in the arms of Boreas, is carried through the clouds. In the lower-right corner two putti are pelting each other with snowballs, balancing in the composition the dark wing of the wind-god in the upper-left corner. Numberless copies have been made of this remarkable work. We see in this picture the wonderful perfection which Rubens attained in a most difficult department of painting, in which he was habitually superior, that is, in the drawing of very substantial bodies floating lightly in space without any support. The secret of this lies in the manner, never surpassed and only approached by Tintoretto, in which he foreshortened. It was a talent which alone enabled him to present so naturally the wonderful productions of his creative fancy in every possible variety of attitude.
It is but natural that our thoughts will revert to that other Abduction we saw in the Imperial Museum, of Ganymede by the Eagle of Jupiter, painted by Correggio. A comparison of the relative position of these two artists will at once suggest itself to the mind, and the judgment will be that while the Italian master had greater refinement and the distinction of beauty in form and colour, the Flemish master far surpasses him in boldness, strength and grandeur.
The “Three Graces” (No. 646) is a magnificent example of the rich, voluptuous presentation of the female nude figure. The three beautiful figures hold a large basket, filled to overflowing with roses, above their heads. The luxuriant display of white, rosy flesh, the mellow suppleness of the yielding torsos, the bloom of life, the richness of nature’s ornaments of brilliant flowers, the iridescent mingling of colour and light all show Rubens in his glory.
And still another masterpiece is the “Tigress and her Young” (No. 606. Plate XXIX). Here is not a thin and languid captive of the menagerie, but the free and terrible beast of the jungle, of sudden, catlike leaps, muscles of steel, fearful jaws and claws – even as she now reclines to maternal duties. What soft, silky fur, brown and gold, what ease of drawing, what glow of colour is found in this matchless work.
The wide embrace of his magician’s brain is seen in the sketches, here and in the next alcove. Saints, Dancing Peasants, Scenes from the Passion and the Glory of Christ, the Apotheosis of James I, Esther before Ahasuerus it is all a frenzy of invention, regulated by genius. A number of copies of the master’s works may also be advantageously studied. These hang on the long wall.
Jacob Jordaens came near to Rubens, both in energy of presentation and richness of colour. The apparent distinction between their work lies in the impression one always gets that Rubens’ painting bears an aristocratic touch, that of Jordaens is more bourgeois. There are two fine examples. The ” Paul and Barnabas in Lystra ” (No. 663) pictures the moment when these two missionaries refuse the honours which the priests of Jupiter and the populace bring to them in the form of sacrificial animals and wreaths. The ” Portrait of a Young Woman, holding a Medal-lion ” (No. 640) is one of his best single figures. It is full of arch vitality and rich in colour. An interesting incident may be gathered from old records which state that this same painting was sold at an auction in 1759, when it brought ten Dutch guilders, i. e. four dollars !
Among the portraits in this alcove we find, be-sides uninteresting work by Frans Pourbus and Mierevelt, a magnificent painting by Jacob Gerritsz. Cuyp, one of the forerunners of Rembrandt. This “Portrait of a Lady” (No. 617. Plate XXX) is incisive by its simplicity. The broad, thick, pleated ruff and the close-fitting velvet cap frame a face which has regular but plain features, still is wonderfully expressive in its quiet and peaceful gaze.
Some paintings here bear the name of van Dyck, but little credence need be given to these tablets. One only, an oval, showing the half-turned head of a Youth (No. 686), is regarded as authentic; by some critics even accepted as van Dyck’s earliest self-portrait.
In the next alcove, the seventh, we find a number of fine examples of the still-life painters. Jan Davidsz. de Heem has an important and large canvas, covered with opulent fruit, shining glass and brimming tankards, watched over by a gaudily feathered parrot. Jan Fyt has painted monkeys and cats, and Abraham van Beyeren his speciality, fish. The greatest of the flower painters were Rachel Ruysch and Jan van Huysum both are well represented. Birds are painted by Jan Weenix and by Melchior d’Hondecoeter. Pieter Claesz. van Haarlem and Willem van Aelst remain yet to be mentioned for meritorious still-lives, although many more examples of less account are found here.
THE FRENCH PAINTINGS
are put away in the dark, in alcove eight ; and not much is lost, for they are of minor importance.
A ” Sheepflock on the Campagna. ” (No. 847) is probably an original painting by Claude Lorrain, but even so not a representative example. An-other picture, a ” Road through the Woods ” (No. 846) is better. There are four spirited pieces of cavalry engagements, by Jacques Courtois, called Bourguignon. The ” Landscape with Waterfall ” (No. 849), by Claude Joseph Vernet, is interesting because plainly showing outdoors feeling. This artist may be considered a pioneer among the French in painting from nature. This little piece is far more sincere than the series of French sea-ports, now in the Louvre, which Vernet painted on government commission, which are scenic and theatrical. Of his contemporary Greuze we find here some of his well-known, sentimental girl-faces sweet, but insipid.
THE LATER GERMAN PAINTINGS
The remaining alcoves in GALLERY V, from the tenth, as well as Room VI, contain German paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries, principally by Viennese artists. Most of these are in the conventional and academic style which dominated the German school during these centuries. Only as far as the stories they tell differ one from the other do they present any variety to relieve the tediousness of their claims. Their assignment to important rank will depend much on individual taste, for criticism is at a loss to choose. I can, therefore, only make a personal appeal to regard a few of these works.
The keynote of the tendency to which German art had succumbed in the 18th century is well shown in a large ” Italian Mountain-landscape ” (No. 330. 10th alcove), by Josef Roos. It is clean painting, but too slick to look spontaneous. Little of nature presents itself much of an effort to have art improve on nature by making her look nice and tuckered up for show.
This refers also to the well-ordered and neatly executed mythological subjects of Johann Martin Schmidt, a ” Judgment of Midas ” (No. 160) and ” Venus and Vulcan” (No. 161, both in alcove 11). Of some interest is the ” Portrait of Count Anton Lamberg” (No. 294), the gift of whose collection laid the foundation of this Gallery. It is by one of the early members of the Academy, Martin Ferdinand Quadal, whose admission picture for membership is also found here. This gives a view of one of the working-galleries of the Academy in 1787, with many miniature copies of paintings then on the walls. Another early member was Josef Abel, who was admitted in 1815, and whose admission picture presented ” Daedalus and Icarus ” (No. 130) in truly classic spirit.
The thirteenth alcove is principally given over to the work of Friedrich Heinrich Finger, a painter of much influence in his time. He dominated the Viennese school, which until the days of Cornelius was counted the best in Germany. Füger was called the German Raphael which explains to us the style in which he endeavoured to paint; but the examples of his work here do not convince us of the justice of the appellation. His admission picture to the Academy, ” The Death of Germanicus ” (No. 170) is much more like a David.
George Ferdinand Waldmüller, an artist who worked in the same style, has here several examples, of which the ” St. Nicholas Eve ” (No. 1092) is a weak German version of the far more spirited presentations which Jan Steen has given of this delightful and amusing subject.
Far stronger, and withal more refined, was the work of Moriz von Schwind, a South German of noble birth, who abhorred the popular peasant painting of his time, and devoted his art to depicting the higher circles of society. A ” Social Gathering ” (No. 1182), nevertheless, shows that he followed the punctilious technique of his period.
The “Madonna and Child ” (No. 1178), by Johann Schraudolph, can scarcely be distinguished from a late Venetian work of minor quality; and the ” Ideal Landscape ” (No. 1159), by Karl Marko, an Hungarian, harks back to Elsheimer. Josef Brandt, a Polish painter, depicts a scene from the campaign of the Allies against Sweden in 1658 (No. 976), which is palpably an historical document rather than a work of art. Johann Friedric Voltz, in two or three cattle pieces, shows his faithful study of Troyon’s work when in the forties he visited Belgium and France. Friedrich Gauermann, popular in Vienna in the middle of the century, would not gain many laurels to-day for his conventional landscapes.
Ludwig Knaus was undoubtedly for many years the most popular painter of Germany. His pictures of the everyday people, generally touched with sentiment, made him not only honoured but beloved. It cannot be denied that even French art was influenced in a measure by his anecdotal painting. There was scarcely an art institution in Europe of which he was not an honorary member. In many, for instance, the Royal Academy, he was the only German member. And these honours were bestowed deservedly, for Knaus was a man who appealed to the heart of the people, as Gustav Freytag did in literature. He was a fine observer, a friend of the human side of social life, who always ennobled even common things in his paintings. This we note in the example of his work here, a ” Jewish Peddler” (No. 1169) characteristic even if the individual is seen at his best.
Franz Defregger, better known for his Tyrolean scenes, has a bust portrait of a man (No. 1163), of excellent quality. Gabriel Max, so well-known for his compositions of religious meaning, is more realistic when painting animals, of which he is very fond. A “Monkey” (No. 1199) is proof of his great talent as an animal painter.
Among the latest painters whose works are in Roots VI, we will notice Emil Jacob Schindler, a Viennese artist who was strongly influenced by the modern French, and little honoured during his lifetime. In his day the old-fashioned style of landscape painting still held control in Vienna. Thus Schindler’s work was never esteemed, although now his landscapes, which we find here among all these conventional daubings, are distinctly refreshing, notably so his ” Mill near Goisern” (No. 1204
This same breath of fresh air strikes us in “Spring in the Penzinger Au” (No. 1123), by Robert Russ. Franz Skarbina had his training in Holland, and in his “Christ” (not numbered) shows the influence of Joseph Israels. Hans Gude was more influenced by the Barbizon school, although his two examples, ” The Chiemsee” (No. 962), a fine large canvas, and ” Fishing by Night in Norway ” (No. 991), have each local colour and individual workmanship.
Some of the best of the modern paintings belonging to the Academy have been placed on exhibition in the Lower Belvedere, which we will view later.