THE Grande Galerie, numbered VI. on the plan, is divided into six bays. The first three of these, and part of the fourth, are devoted to the Italian school. In the fourth however, besides the few late Italians, are most of the Spanish, English and German pictures owned by the Louvre. The fifth and sixth bays contain Flemish works. For convenience of placing, these bays are marked A, B, C, D, E and F, as they are in the general catalogue of the Louvre.
Beginning at the Italian end, which has an entrance from both Salle des Primitifs and the Salon Carré, one of the earliest masters- represented is Francesco di Marco di Giacomo Raibolini, known generally by the name he took in honour of his first master, Il Francia. The Nativity and the Crucifixion do not show Il Francia at his best, though the latter, with the figure of Job kneeling at the foot of the cross, does give some adequate idea of the tender gravity that is so notable a distinction of the Bolognese painter. Il Francia, says M. Alexandre, is somewhat the Perugino of Bologna, with more reflection and less spontaneity than Perugino possessed. His figures, if not made so much after a formula, have, on the whole, less personality, and he has, continues the French critic, a predilection for calm and pure types, for pleasing landscape, for silhouettes against a light back-ground, and for intense limpidness of tones. Undoubtedly it is true that Francia was influenced by Perugino and later by Raphael. His works have a sweet seriousness, a placid joy and a serenity that partakes of Raphael’s earlier manner and in general of the school of Perugino. His colour is rich and full, rather less trans-parent than the Umbrian school at its best. His types are not generally beautiful, but there is a reverent air, a humble every-day sort of piety in all his works that make them the highest achievements of the Bolognese school. Contrary to perhaps the general rule of Italian painting, he is most successful in his easel pictures. Vasari’s story of Francia’s death from envy of the young Raphael is one of his numerous decorative fictions. The two painters, when Raphael was in all his glory at Rome, and when Francia was an old man, were, it seems likely, acquainted, and it may be that Raphael did send a picture for a church in Bologna to the care of Francia. It is even possible that not long after receiving the St. Cecilia, the old Bolognese painter was taken with the sickness that proved mortal. It is far from likely, however, that this sickness was caused by his overmastering envy at the sight of painting so far from what he could produce.
The Nativity represents the infant Jesus lying on the ground, his head resting on a hard, round pillow, his mother, Joseph and two angels kneeling in adoration around him. The angel in the centre is a really lovely creation. Her little body is drawn with a fineness of line matching the purity of her face. Mary, too, who is something of the Peruginesque type, is scarcely less lovely. The line from the top of her head to her right shoulder is charming in its sweep and curve. As a composition the picture is not highly successful. The group in the foreground is too much of a straight mass and insufficiently balances the background of high cliffs and distant mountains.
Perugino has a Holy Family, and a Combat between Love and Charity in the first division. Judged by the height Perugino reached in his finest mural paintings, he is a great painter. Judged by innumerable easel pictures, he is weak, sentimental, sugary. It is because these latter are so many and so broadly scattered that the general opinion has given Perugino a relatively low place in art. At his best, however, he is so fine, says so fully the last word of the quattrocento, is so far in advance of most of his contemporaries in purity and brilliance of colour, in feeling for the nude, in a very unusual perception of the beauty and value of landscape and in appreciation of compositional unity, that he must be given, as the American editors of Vasari say, ” one of the very highest places in the secondary group.”
His Holy Family is one of the half-length pictures he so often painted. The Virgin is sitting in full face, holding the Christ-child on her knee. St. Catherine of Alexandria, in a gold brocaded gown and carrying a pen, is on the right, Joseph, in a red mantle, at the left. The Madonna has a red waist and blue mantle. Her face is heavier about the chin than usual with Perugino, but, though far from one of his best easel pictures, there are still the grace and purity of expression peculiar to him and which, in his greatest works, reach a nobility that is as fine as it is beautiful.
Isabella d’Este ordered the Combat between Love and Charity, giving very full directions as to how it should be painted. It was finished in distemper, about 1505. It is not one of Perugino’s most successful works in composition, in expression or in colour. A wide prairie-like field with scattered trees and bushes and a rolling line of hills toward the back is the scene of the conflict. A most unequal conflict it seems, too, though, in accordance with his orders, Perugino left the actual outcome of the affair uncertain. In the foreground Venus and Diana are engaged in a hand-to-hand battle. Diana, at the left, aims her arrow straight at Venus’s breast, while the goddess of love has meanwhile applied her torch to her opponent’s drapery, which already is scorched. A little at the left Pallas is seen holding Cupid by a bandage tied over his eyes. His bow and arrows are broken at his feet, and her lance is poised to pierce the little fellow to the heart. All about are other Loves, satyrs, and the nymphs of Diana. The little Loves are much the best of the whole scene, the one who is climbing a tree being the most exquisite bit of all. Altogether, though the serene sky and softly rolling plain are admirably treated, it was a subject which was far from Perugino’s taste.
A very poor Virgin and Child that is ascribed to Pinturicchio, gives no idea of the rarely fascinating qualities of this master of decoration. Pinturicchio, though said to be a pupil of Perugino, seems to have acquired comparatively few of his teacher’s peculiarities, and he never learned to draw the human figure with surety or ease. Nevertheless, his frescoes at Siena and Rome are among the world’s treasures. As has been well said, they are full of ” an ever-present, tireless fancy, a joyous and fertile imagination.”
Full of none of these is the Virgin and Child here. It has the golden background he loved so well to paint, and shows the Madonna seated between two saints, holding a book upon which the child Jesus writes.
Nowhere so well as at the Louvre can Leonardo da Vinci be studied. Of the nine pictures most generally regarded as actually by him the Louvre possesses four, and these four are, with the exception of the Cenacola, his most important works and the best preserved of all.
For four hundred years the world has sung the praises of Leonardo. Honoured, admired and adored in his own time by both his countrymen and foreigners to an ex-tent accorded few men that history ranks great, the centuries have but added wreaths to the laurels of his fame. Perhaps one of the most extraordinary things about this fame is its unlimited scope. ” Beyond all men in all things,” seems to be its dictum. And indeed, there is scarcely any department of human thought or activity for which he does not stand as inventor, instigator, predecessor or at least godfather. Physiologist, astronomer, mathematician, engineer, essayist, poet, musician, architect, sculptor, painter, these are but few of the titles he earned in his wonderful life. Born into the awakening consciousness of a world whose dawn of modern life was flushing her horizon, it is as if all the erstwhile slumbering forces of a mighty universe awoke to find in him a perfect medium for expression. Even to-day, science, invention, mechanism, see his explanations, his models, his appliances, in advance of their new est discoveries. The world is still observing the fulfilment of the prognostications of this magician of the fifteenth century. This is what makes Leonardo’s name a synonym for all wisdom, for all insight, for all discovery, for all genius. No life was ever so wide in its activities, so penetrating in its perceptions, so accomplished in its manifestations. And yet, the curious part of it is that it is due to the least of these manifestations of his genius that his name is accorded such world-wide paeans of applause. For the part that painting played in the life of this Florentine, compared with all the other activities of his crowded years, is as a noonday rest in a week of toil. And of what he accomplished in this brief nooning, only one perfectly complete picture is known to exist today. And that, as well as the others which his brush left unfinished, has so suffered from the ravages of time, of the restorer and of his own feverish experiments, that any adequate idea of their first estate must be impossible. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that Leonardo’s genius, even his genius as shown in hydraulics, in mathematics, in physiology, in astronomy, in what-not, rests largely upon just these few, dimmed, incomplete, half-destroyed pictures. He would be known to scientific students in many and diverse fields as a wonderful fore-runner, a marvellous discoverer. But it is his Cenacola, his Mona Lisa, that have drawn the attention of the entire world to his unlimited explorations, his preeminent inventions, his unapproached supremacy in almost every line of human speculation and endeavour.
He has always been called a Florentine, but he was really born at Vinci, half-way between Florence and Pisa. Entering Verocchio’s studio when fifteen, where were Perugino and Lorenzo di Credi, at twenty he was a member of the Painters’ Guild, and soon after was in receipt of a pension. From Florence, somewhere between 1482 and 1487, he went to Milan, and was in the service of Lodovico Sforza, where he not only modelled the famous colossal statue of Lodovico’s father, but where he was engineer, painter, architect and general scientific consulter of the Milanese court. It is during these years that the Virgin of the Rocks now in the Louvre, was painted. From 1449, after the downfall of Lodovico, for sixteen years Leonardo travelled everywhere in the Italian peninsula, fulfilling all kinds of important commissions. In 1505 came the exposition of his cartoon of the Florentines and Milanese at Anghiari, and some-where near this date must the Mona Lisa be placed. In 1515, after repeated urgings from France, Leonardo went to Paris, where François I. lodged him as befitted his fame, and treated him henceforth with the greatest honour. The St. Anne in the Louvre is the only painted record we have of these years. In 1519 the great spirit was at rest.
The Madonna of the Rocks is so named from the rocky cavern in which the group is placed. In the centre Mary is kneeling in nearly full face, her right hand out-stretched and resting on the shoulder of the little St. John, who kneels at the left of the picture. His hands are clasped in adoring praise and in his arms is his long reed cross. Mary’s left hand is spread open and is held above the head of the tiny Christ who sits in front of her in profile, his right hand lifted, blessing the little Baptist. He is supported by a young girl angel sitting beside him, her wings half lost in the shadow. Behind the group the rocky walls of the cave break into sharp points and open places, showing a winding stream and distant mountains. The whole scene is one of ineffable beauty. The Virgin has something of the smile of Mona Lisa, but it is chastened, saddened and more tender. The lines of her face are longer, her head is more delicate, with finer, purer planes. The angel is still lovelier. There is such match-less purity, such a winsome wistfulness, such a naïveté, and yet such a wonderful pride as no painter had expressed before. Gautier says that no human face has ever had such beauty, it is what men may only dream of. As for the children, he goes on to cry rapturously that ” Nothing could be more admirable than the foreshortening of the two tender little crouching bodies, nothing more finely modelled than the little limbs, with their in-finite gradations of shadow.” The picture is darkened by the years, but still keeps a tender harmony of tones.
St. John the Baptist was also in the collection of François I. It has grown very deep in the shadows, and has been repainted in many places. But neither time nor unskilled hands have wholly spoiled the wondrous modelling of the face or of that uplifted hand and arm. It is a half-length figure showing the Baptist, if it is he, standing, with his body facing the right, his face turned far toward the left. In his left hand he holds the tall reed cross, while with his right he points up to it.
The claim that he does not represent the Man of the Wilderness at all seems borne out by his type of face and especially by his expression. It is the head of a Greek nymph or fawn, – for it is hard to guess whether it be man or woman, soft, luxurious in outline, full of an aesthetic beauty of curve and contour, only intensified and made more voluptuously seductive by the entrancing smile of the curving lips, the dancing light in the melting eyes that look out from under the wealth of curls. The mystery of the shadow out of which his figure emerges as if drawn from a dream into reality, adds to the sublety and tenderness of the modelling of this face and shoulder and arm,.
There is more doubt among critics about the portrait called La Belle Feronnière. Morelli, Frizzoni, Richter, Armstrong and Berenson consider it not at all his work, while Müntz, Lübke, Rosenburg, Brun and Gruyer all think it can belong to no one else. It is badly cracked and has been much repainted. In spite of a certain hardness in contour and modelling, with a decided lack of that suavity so peculiarly Leonardo’s, the portrait has great charm and is full of a personality that, if far less intense and subjective than the Mona Lisa, is franker, simpler and perhaps more honest. And out of the eyes looks the soul as only Leonardo and Rembrandt could show it.
It is hardly a half-length figure, a balustrade cutting it above the waist line. She is in three-quarters position, dressed in a square-cut velvet gown with a pearl necklace wound four times about her firm, full neck. Her hair is brought down on to each cheek and covers both ears, with a jewel on the forehead between the waves. She is evidently a ” lady of quality,” though not now believed to be Isabella of Mantua. It seems more probable that she was Lucrezia Crevelli of Milan.
Salome Receiving the Head of John the Baptist, by Luini, was in the collection of Louis XIV. Salome, in a green dress with plaited muslin undersleeves and chemisette, stands at the left, a half-length figure only, holding in her outstretched hands the huge platter. At the right, on about a line with her forehead, a hand, wrist and bit of sleeve appear, the rest of the arm as well as all the person owning it being out of the picture. The hand holds by the hair the severed head of the Baptist, streams of blood running from it into the platter. The gruesomeness of the scene is intensified by this unattached hand coming out, it seems, of nowhere, with its prey. Salome has. an unusual sort of beauty, with no hint of wickedness, unless it lies in the depths of those calmly watching eyes. She is absolutely indifferent, apparently, to the fearful trophy she is to carry, though she has turned her face so that she does not actually see it. The red brown tresses falling in waves over her temples and down below her shoulders, emphasize her pure, pale beauty, and with their colour, joined to the sombre flames in those mysterious eyes, help to suggest the passionate possibilities in this otherwise seemingly coldly placid woman. The head of John is livid ; its bluish lips, its fallen, dead lids that still appear to quiver with the last agony, the dripping blood, all adding to its ghastly horror.
Fra Bartolommeo and Albertinelli are each represented here by two pictures. The Holy Family, sometimes called The Marriage of St. Catherine, was painted by Bartolommeo while the two men were still working in companionship, but it is wholly by the Frate’s hand. After he had finished it he painted another, like it except for certain variations, which is now in the Pitti. The one here was done in 1511 for the convent of San Marco. The following year the Florentine government purchased it and gave it to Jacques Hurault, Bishop of Autun, and then envoy of Louis XII. at Florence. He bequeathed it to the cathedral at Autun, and there it stayed till the French Revolution, when it was taken away and at length placed in the Louvre.
It represents the Virgin on a low throne under a sort of dome, with the child Jesus standing at her knee, placing the ring on the hand of St. Catherine of Siena, who kneels at the left at his feet. On either side are groups of saints, and above three beautifully modelled angels lift the folds of the green drapery that depends from the curving dome. Mary is clad in a red robe, a long blue mantle lined with green hanging from her shoulders. Her position is both noble and graceful, the lines con-forming admirably to the space allotted her. One hand is on her knee loosely holding a book, while with the tips of the fingers of her other hand she gently touches the forehead of the little Jesus. Her head is bent downward and to the left, and, with the soft, contemplative curves of her lovely mouth, the purity of her brow, and her adorable chin, she is one of the Frate’s fairest creations.
The child is a round, rosy, smiling babe, and if not of a very high order spiritually considered, yet with an entrancing humanness about him that is rarely appealing. St. Catherine, who kneels nearly back to, her profile lost in shadow, is dressed in the white of the Dominican order. She makes, with her substantial, firmly modelled figure, a splendid balance, bringing the centre of the picture thus nearer to the foreground, though she herself is so treated that one’s eyes slip directly from her to the child before her. The saints on each side are noble, individualized personages, giving, by the arrangement of the lines of their figures and draperies, a fine depth to the picture. On the left are St. Peter, St. Vincent and St. Stephen. On the right a young girl saint in green and red, St. Bartholomew and another saint, and in the back-ground St. Dominic and St. Francis are observed embracing each other.
If this picture is not one of Fra Bartolommeo’s greatest efforts, it does give a very fair idea of his especial abilities. It is as a master of composition, this term including not only well-balanced masses, but a management of drapery so skilful that they become integral parts of the pictorial scheme, and as a rich and harmonious colourist, that he takes rank among the leading painters of the great Florentine school. He was one of the very first of the Renaissance masters to feel the beauty of space, and to treat his figures not as individuals so much, but as adjuncts to the picture as a whole. His scheme of geometrical and rhythmical composition was similar to Leonardo’s, but he carried it to a scientific extent not attempted by Leonardo. Bartolommeo’s draperies, till they became overheavy and voluminous from the influence of Michelangelo, are rarely beautiful, falling in line and fold with a stateliness that is almost as expressive as the figures themselves. In colour, too, especially after his visit to Venice, Bartolommeo shows a vigour and brilliancy joined with a richness and depth unexcelled by any of his contemporaries, and beyond that of any Florentine of his day.
Albertinelli never equalled his friend as a painter, but his pictures have many of the same general characteristics, and if he had never done anything but his Visitation, nowt in the Uffizi, it would be enough to rank him as an admirable artist. And in all his work he is felt to have been a serious, dignified and earnest worker.
Of his two pictures in the Louvre, the Virgin and Child is the more interesting. In it Mary, heavily draped, stands on a pedestal, holding the infant Jesus in her arms. He is turning to the left to bless St. Jerome who kneels at the side of the pedestal reading from a big book. At the right is St. Zenobius in his episcopal robes, his mitre before him. His hands are met in prayerful adoration, and his fine old head, which is in profile, is lifted to the group above. Behind him in the landscape are scenes taken from his life, while back of St. Jerome, on a rocky mountain, are depicted episodes from his career. The pedestal is ornamented with a low relief of Adam and Eve, the serpent wound about a tree-trunk between them. The pyramidal form here used is evidence of Bartolommeo’s influence, though the latter usually employed it in a less patent and simple manner. The figure of Mary, if rather overweighted with clothes, has a nobility of bearing that, with a trifle less movement of the head, would be classic in its pose.
There are four pictures by Andrea Solario, in the first bay, of which the Virgin with the Green Cushion is by far the most lovely. In this, as in much of his work, Solario shows how strongly he was influenced by Leonardo in both modelling and treatment of chiaroscuro. M. Alexandre, however, remarks that he often reflects more the old school of Lombardy and of Padua. But there are also other influences discernible in his paintings. For though he is classed as belonging to the Lombard school, he was much in Venice, where he certainly was brought into contact with the works of the Flemish school and of Antonello da Messina. He also went to France and decorated the chapel of the Château de Gaillon.
The Madonna with the Green Cushion is one of Solario’s most celebrated pictures, and is full of a maternal tenderness that is supremely affecting. Lifting the child slightly with her right hand from the green cushion where he lies, the Madonna bends over to nurse hint. Behind them is a mass of foliage on each side of which a distant landscape can be seen. The child has a round little body of most bewitching curves, and modelled with the fulness and freedom of a hand sure and supple. His baby-like attitude as he grabs his right foot and strikes out into the air with the other, is more naturalistic than would have seemed possible to painters even a few years before Solario’s time. As unconventional and natural is the baby’s beautiful head with its thick, long curls, its broad forehead, its questioning eyes. Mary, as she leans over, is equally lovely. Her soft hair, rolling off her forehead, is mostly hidden by a thick white drapery. Nothing more appealing than her love-lit face can be imagined, drawn as it is with an exquisiteness of line only matched by its spiritual expression.
The Portrait of Charles d’Amboise is an example of what Solario could do in portraiture. It too, M. Alexandre says, suggests Leonardo in its treatment. At all events it is a vigorous, lifelike portrait, whose accuracy of line and proportion is balanced by its excellent colour and lighting. It is not much more than a bust, showing M. d’Amboise clad in a very magnificent brocaded and fur-trimmed garment, with a heavy chain over his shoulders and a cap on his Medici-cut hair. Turned three-quarters to the left, he is painted with his eyes looking directly at the spectator. A landscape of winding river and distant mountains again reminds one of Leonardo.
The Head of St. John cut off and placed on a dish is even more Leonardesque in its feeling.
A Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene, by Credi, is a poor replica of the same subject in the Uffizi. The surface has been much abraded. Christ is in the garden walking toward the left and stopping to turn and bless the Magdalene, who is kneeling at the right. The figure of Christ is lacking in dignity and power and his face in expression. Mary’s face is more successful, and her long curling hair is well treated, but as a whole it is not even a good example of Credi.
Of very different calibre are the four pictures by Andrea del Sarto in Bay A of the Grande Galerie. From the time of Vasari Andrea del Sarto’s name has been coupled with dishonour, disaster and despair. Dishonour, because he confiscated to his own use funds that had been confided to him for other purposes ; disaster, because he was married to a termagant, a coquette and an utterly selfish, headstrong woman, and because he was shunned by his compatriots after his theft; despair, because of anguish at his own misdeeds, his wife’s perfidy and his failure to reach the standard in art set by Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael. The man himself has been more the subject of controversy and question than have been his works. It would seem as if, having discussed his personality with all the avidity of a cross-road gossip, the scandal-mongers found no time to consider his pictures. If such consideration was given, however, the paintings did not greatly gain thereby. Compared always, and, be it noted, only, with those of Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael, they were rapidly dismissed as being neither so majestic, so powerful, so purely beautiful nor so epoch-making.
The facts of the case now appear to show that Andrea del Sarto has been maligned by historian, poet and critic. Absolutely no proof of his treachery to François I. can be found, except Vasari’s word. Many other things make it extremely improbable that Vasari’s statement was even approximately true. That he died despised by his countrymen, with his works unsought, unbought, another of Vasari’s cheerful bits of scandal, is proved to be the exact opposite of the truth. There only remains the truculent account of poor Del Sarto’s wife. Whether this is true or not, is perhaps less possible of verification. But at least even Vasari states that Del Sarto counted himself proud to be the husband of the beautiful woman who was always his Madonna model. And surely, if the husband was satisfied, he required no pity.
As a painter the criticism stands more just, though in its terms far too limited. Michelangelo, at his supremest, did reach heights Andrea never scaled ; Leonardo, when the mood was on him, explored the mystery, the secrets of a world Andrea scarce knew existed ; Raphael, the loved of gods and men, at his happiest wielded a brush that turned all to gold when Andrea might, at best, have only silvered. And yet, that is only half-truth. For, to begin with, Andrea del Sarto never had the chances that fate bestowed so prodigally upon these others. Given a Sistine or a Vatican council-chamber to decorate, what might the superior call have forced him to accomplish? It was Michelangelo who is reported to have told Raphael that if Del Sarto had his opportunity he would give him a hard pull. And at least it is true that the greater the demand upon him the greater his achievement. As the American editors of Vasari have noted, after the Sistine and the Stanze, the mural decoration of the sixteenth century in Italy that can rank third is Andrea del Sarto’s series of frescoes in the Chiostro dello Scalzo.
Here it may be well to emphasize again the fact that it is always with the mightiest works of these mighty masters that his labours are compared. It seems to be truth that this Florentine painter, who was one of the two great Italians that François I. persuaded to come to Paris, suffers most from his proximity to the three magic names of Italy’s Renaissance. And yet this very proximity can be regarded as evidence of his real greatness. For he was never absorbed by these men. Unlike the painters in Rome who were about Michelangelo and Raphael, or those others who were followers of Leonardo, he never lost his personality. He learned to use chiaroscuro with a skill and beauty unequalled by any disciple of the painter of the one Cenacola. But he used it in his own way, adapting it to his own ends and making it truly his. The sweep of line, the grandeur of form, the imposing attitude, those he learned perhaps partly from the sculptor who painted the vault of the Sistine Chapel. Yet it is always Andrea, not Michelangelo, we think of when looking at a Del Sarto Madonna. From Raphael, too, he may have acquired some of the grace, the brilliancy, the solidity of his compositions, but not even by Raphael is he dominated. In fact, he was of him-self big enough to take from any one what he wished and to transform it till it was his alone, which assuredly is a trait of only the great originators.
To sum up : in everything he did there is great knowledge concealed by greater charm ; great skill, again sub-merged by the greater seduction of his ” soft silver harmonies.” There is grasp of personality, power of analysis, ability to present the very heart of the subject, a colour that is as sensuous as it is delicate, a beauty of line as sure as it is sweeping, an understanding of composition as large and free as it is definite and certain, a spiritual quality that in its last analysis is felt perhaps to be allied to the flesh, yet that is never fleshly. In other words, there are truth, beauty and infinite grace in all Del Sarto’s works. The best of them even closely approach the grandeur and dignity that only the greatest masters of all time have fully expressed. But generally he is just below this group. He holds perhaps a place somewhat like that accorded Van Dyck. If not among the stars of the first magnitude, he is above those of the second, and thus has a unique position, by its very separation more human, more appealing, more knowable.
All of his pictures in the Louvre have suffered greatly from restoration. So much indeed have they been re-painted, that often, instead of being Italian in the character of the heads, they have a distinctly French aspect, as if Lucrezia had lost her Italian beauty in an effort to acquire the style of the French capital. The Charity, one of his most noble works, has, in some respects, been ruined by this treatment. Originally it was upon wood. In 1550 it was transferred to canvas by Picault, and then in 1842, having become hurt from dampness, it was once more put upon a new canvas. The result, so far as colour goes, has been disastrous in the extreme. Not less lamentable is the change that has taken place in the face of Charity. As usual, the model for this majestic figure was his wife, and there is still enough left of the original work to show the well-known oval of cheek and chin, the high brow and the deep eyes. But over it all an insidious something has spread, giving 4 most extra-ordinarily French character to the whole face. The general lines of the picture, however, the fall of the draperies, the scheme of the chiaroscuro, are presumably practically as the painter left them. And they are all of wonderful beauty. The picture was painted for François I. sometime about 1518, soon after Andrea arrived in the French capital. It belongs, then, to what is called his second period.
In a charming hilly landscape, seated on a rock in the foreground, is Charity, clad in a rose-pink gown and a turquoise blue mantle. In her lap she hold and nurses one small, naked boy, while her right arm encircles another who kneels beside her and offers he a bunch of flowers. Below, at the left, a third has flung on to a bit of the drapery from her robe, ai buried in his arms, is fast asleep in an speaks absolute trust in the care above majestic beauty of this woman, the noble himself over d, with face oblivion that him. The lines of her pose, the supple folds of the ample but quiet drapery about her, are beyond praise. Here are no exaggeration for effect, no overloading of drapery, no straining for theatrical attitude. The absolute naturalness and simplicity of the whole scheme are among its greatest charms. In spite of the tender supervision she evinces for these babies in her care, there is a certain impersonality in her regard that exactly defines the allegory. As M. Gautier has happily observed, she is Charity, not Maternity. The three children are no less perfect in their own way. Their chubby, well-fed little bodies, over which the light plays so entrancingly, changing from brilliancy to a dim mysteriousness of shadow, giving an effect that is almost equal to a Correggio, their graceful, childlike abandonment in their unstudied poses, all is rendered with a skill that never strikes a false note. It is impossible, too, not to speak again of the wonderful drapery of Charity. No one, surely, has ever better expressed the softness, the pliability of stuff than Andrea del Sarto. No one, either, has ever treated big, loose folds more simply, more inevitably than in that robe as it falls over her right knee and on to her extended foot.
The little oval picture of the Holy Family has been so completely repainted, that there is little of Del Sarto left. Only in the general lines of its composition, and big massing of light and shade is it probably as he first blocked it out. A soft brown carbon photograph of it gives perhaps a truer idea of its first estate than does its present unsatisfactory colour.
On her knees in the centre is the Virgin, almost in profile, though her bent face is turned three-quarters to the spectator. On her lap is the child Jesus, his little body so twisted that his back is brought round toward the front, while his head is turned again over his left shoulder as he looks out of the picture. Nearly opposite at the left is Elizabeth, with the little John standing within her surrounding arms. Elizabeth’s face is in profile and she is looking into the background where, behind Mary, Joseph is seen. The light falls full on the Christ-child, on the right side of John and over Mary’s face and Elizabeth’s cap and chin. The rest of the composition is largely submerged in a luminous shadow that, in its original state, must have been of rare beauty of tone. Mary is again Lucrezia, and has a piquant, girlish charm that even restoring has not spoiled. Elizabeth’s fine, strong profile is even more interesting in its suggestion of vigorous but gentle personality.
The other Holy Family was, according to Vasari, painted for the King of France, who w pleased with it that he gave the merchants ported it to him four times the price agreeed Del Sarto. It is supposed to be the origin Munich and Vienna, but has, as usual, repainted that its first condition can only b Mary kneels at the left, facing three-quarters dressed in a rose-coloured robe, with a blue about her knees. Her left arm is on the s baby Jesus, who, with his right knee press leg, and his right hand grasping her waist, ing to spring into her lap. He has stoppe turn a laughing, backward glance over h. the small St. John who stands beside him conjectured. to the right, mantle falling shoulders of the against her seems prepared a second to shoulder to between Elizabeth’s knees, her encircling arms about him. Elizabeth appears to be the same model who posed f r this character in the oval picture. Here she is looking down at her son, her head heavily draped in a white covering that comes on to her shoulders over her blue robe. Back of the Virgin, in the shadow, are two anges, their wings breaking the dark space over their heads The figures almost wholly fill the composition, but there is no crowding, no overloading, always a perfect balance of parts, a fine arrangement of light and shade and beautiful lines.
In this same bay are a Nativity and a Portrait of a Man by Giulio Romano, Raphael’s most noted assistant. He not only worked constantly with the Urbinate before he died, but he finished many of his Works after his death. While Raphael was alive, Romao’s talent was entirely absorbed by his master. He painted very little, if anything, that was wholly his own, though many of the works attributed today to Raphael are his only in original conception of composition, every bit of the execution being by Giulio. After Raphael’s death,Giulio’s own more impetuous fancy, more robust nature and decidedly coarser temperament, led him to desert the style and manner of the greater artist. His works showed less and less of Raphael’s influence and more and more exaggeration, excessive action and cruder colour. Nevertheless, Giulio had a vivid, if sometimes rather hysterical imagination, a good, if occasionally raw sense of colour. He was a vigorous draughtsman, and his compositions had dignity and not seldom grandeur. Of his easel pictures, which are few except those he painted under Raphael’s direction, the Louvre possesses several excellent examples.
The Portrait of a Man was for long supposed to be a likeness of himself. It was an incorrect attribution, though whose it is is still a matter of conjecture. The picture is a half-length, turned three-quarters to the right, dressed in black, with a long beard and short black curly hair. There is much spirit in the handling.
The next bay of the Grande Galerie holds a large pro-portion of the Louvre’s Italian pictures. Among them are the two which the catalogue ascribes to the brothers Bellini. The brothers Giovanni and Gentile Bellini were sons and pupils of Jacopo Bellini, who, in his turn, was a pupil of Gentile da Fabriano, and named his oldest son for that well-loved teacher. Giovanni again was teacher of Titian. He was much influenced by Mantegna, the latter in turn by him, so that some of Giovanni’s earlier pictures have been confounded with Mantegna’s. Giovanni was the greatest Venetian painter of the fifteenth century. His development was slow but sure, and his last great works are incomparably beautiful in colour, line and mass. There are a dignity and austerity about his Madonnas that no other Venetian ever succeeded in expressing. His brother Gentile’s special field was portraiture, in which he was both realistic and dramatic. The brush-work of the two is smooth, subtle and almost imperceptible.
The Holy Family catalogued as by Giovanni is, ac-cording to Morelli and other authorities, not by him, but by Rondinello, one of his pupils and assistants. It has, of course, certain ” Bellinesque ” traits, as would be natural in the work of an assistant. There is a hint of the wonderful golden tone of Giovanni; t e Madonna has something of the grand aloofness of t e Venetian, and the drawing and modelling recall Giovanni anni, if not at his highest. Like so many of the Bellini pictures, too, the figures are only half-length.
Behind a balustrade, the very top of which is the base of the picture, stands Mary, turned in three- u quarters view to the left, supporting the baby Jesus who stands upright on the top of the railing. He is a fat, rather tightly modelled little figure, with eyes far apart, gazing out with a babyish, wondering look, while with his right hand he makes the sign of the blessing. Mary, dressed in blue, with a yellow over-robe and white head-dress, is drawn with a dignity but coldness of line that gives her a sort of impersonality, as if she were an uninterested spectator. Her heavy eyebrows, drooping lids, pronounced nose and small mouth, make her face very unlike the Umbrian, Florentine or Siennese type of Madonna. Behind the mother and child, at the left, is Sebastian, his hands joined, his eyes wistful. At the right is St. Peter, his rugged, bushy-bearded face in strong contrast to the soft, full, smooth countenance of St. Sebastian. Above this group are three cherubs, two in extremely fore-shortened positions.
The panel of Portraits of Two Men, called by Gentile Bellini, is now generally considered not to be by Bellini.
It may perhaps be by Catena, or Bissolo. They are really very fine heads, full of strong drawing, characterization and individuality, as modern in their feeling as if done by a painter of to-day. They are merely heads, being cut off just below their shoulders. Half facing each other, each is thus in three-quarters view. With their long, thick hair, strongly marked features and searching eyes, they are typical Italians of the late fifteenth century.
One of the two pictures attributed to Crivelli in the Louvre is St. Bernard of Siena, which is in this room. Crivelli called himself a Venetian, but he partakes of little that was characteristic of that school. His colour was frequently unpleasing, his figures angular, often ugly, generally ill-drawn. He remained very archaic in many ways, keeping, for instance, always to the raised gold work in trimmings of gowns, halos, and accessories. Yet he had great form and energy, and only Mantegna really eclipsed him in a certain rude power. He is sup-posed to have been a pupil of Squarcione. Unlike his contemporary Venetian artists he always painted in tempera.
His St. Bernard was originally in Santa Annunziata at Ascoli. It shows the saint in the costume of his order, standing before a drapery where are suspended fruits, looking at two little ” donors ” who are kneeling before him.
Andrea Mantegna, who has four pictures here, was born in Padua, and studied with Squarcione, which feeble painter claimed many of his works as his own. Mantegna was greatly influenced by Fra Filippo Lippi, whose works in Padua he had a chance to study, and also by Bellini. He has been said as well to unite the qualities of both Dürer and Michelangelo. His colour was clear and trans-parent if rather dry, his modelling was sure and definite with good effects of light and shade. He was a better colourist than any contemporary Venetian. Kugler says : ” He combined an intensely realistic tendency with an ardent love for the antique, adding to them great powers of invention, a solemn poetry of feeling, the grandest expression of passion and a mastery of hand which is almost unique. Whoever has learned to relish this great master will never overlook a scrap by him; for while his works sometimes show a certain austerity and harshness bordering on grimace, they have always a force and an energy of will which belong to no one else.”
The Crucifixion here was only a predella of an altar-piece painted for St. Zeno at Verona. The whole work was taken to Paris by Napoleon and returned minus this predella, now one of the most prized gems of the Louvre. For nobility of feeling and dignity of treatment it would be hard to surpass it. The foreground of the picture is a paving made of big square stones into which the three crosses have been driven. Upon the central one, placed with its arms squarely across, is Christ. On each side is another, so turned that its arms make a right angle with the central one. There is nothing directly in front of or very near to Christ, the other personages of the scene being grouped about the robbers. At the right two mounted soldiers taunt the robber, or watch the Romans below, who are playing dice over the division of the clothes of Jesus. At the left Mary has fallen into the arms of two women, while others guard her behind. St. John stands at the foot of the second robber’s cross gazing at his master, his hands clasped in agony. In the distance on a high hill is Jerusalem, and on the road thither, leaving Calvary, a procession of people mounted and on foot. Above, a blue sky streaked with clouds. So much for the general placing. Horrible as is the subject, Mantegna has treated it with a restrained passion that alone bespeaks the great artist. Nothing is overdone, the extreme agony of the time, the despair and grief of Mary and John never transcend the limits of pictorial art. Though the climax of grief is here depicted, all immoderation is avoided. It is this very restraint that makes the scene even more poignant. The figure of the Crucified One is a marvel of anatomical correctness The way he hangs upon the driven nails is only one of the master-strokes. Mary has perhaps never been better expressed as the Mater Dolorosa. The utter slump of her body, the helpless drop of her arms and hands, the sense of weight upon her supporters, this is all a technical marvel only equalled by the agonized face that has half lost consciousness under its woe. Very beautiful is the figure of John, young, graceful, as befits the ” best beloved ” of the master. Equally splendid in drawing, modelling and pose are the Romans on the right. Their indifference and carelessness, while interrupting the other-wise unbroken anguish of the scene, add, by their very callousness, to the tremendous effect of the whole.
Far removed from this is the spirit of the Parnassus. Mantegna is one of the few painters who could adapt his style absolutely to the subject in hand. Neither his types nor his manner of treatment suggest cast-iron rules. The Parnassus is the very essence of Greek mythology. The joyousness, the freedom, the beauty, the in-consequence, so typical of the lives of the gods as told in myth, are as clearly shown as are the rhythm of curving line, the grace of dancing form, the perfection of classic figure. Mantegna’s love of the antique, and his keen knowledge of the human figure, are here both blazoned. But perhaps it is its spontaneity, its gay abandonment, that makes the longest impression. Were ever the nine Muses so exquisitely depicted? Has he not here ensnared the very spirit of Dance? It is not only the individual grace and rhythm and motion of each one of the flying figures that so enthrall. It is the composite picture of the whole nine that leaves in the mind a vision of flying, diaphanous drapery, of dancing feet, of arms and legs that seem music incarnated. Light as thistle-down, soft as summer clouds, full of a lilt that is the quintessence of melody, this line of dancing Muses is Greece, and Greek art, epitomized.
The rest of the picture is scarcely less remarkable. Above these Muses, on a high, wooded and rocky arch, through which the distant landscape is seen, stand Venus and Mars. Behind them is a couch with a group of trees as background. Mars is a royal figure in full armour, Venus is nude. No one up to this time in Italian art had ever half so perfectly expressed the nude. She stands there in a typically classic position, not far removed from the pose of the Venus of Milo, her weight so resting upon her left leg that her left hip makes the outward curve of the graceful line from shoulder to ankle. Other Italians were to paint this goddess of love, perhaps, more sensuously, more humanly, but it is doubtful if any ever kept so strongly the feeling of the Greek ideal. Through her left arm Mars has drawn his right and the two lovers are saying farewell. Just below the arched rock at the foot of a mountain Vulcan is seen in an overpowering rage, while a small Cupid blows a shooting-tube at him in derision. At the left in the foreground Apollo plays a lyre to which the Muses dance. And at the extreme right Mercury holds Pegasus, whose wings are spread ready for flight. Mercury is another rarely beautiful figure, and Pegasus is the realization of a poet’s dream.
Another important Mantegna is his Madonna of Victory. This he painted for Giovanni Francesco Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, as a commemoration of his victory over Charles VIII. of France. The Madonna is seated on a throne made of trelliswork covered with vines, fruits and flowers. The baby Jesus stands upright upon her lap blessing the donor who kneels in armour at the left. Opposite him is St. Elizabeth whose right elbow rests on the base of the throne and beside the feet of a little nude John who stands there gazing upward, his right hand raised in greeting. On each side of the Virgin are two other saints : St. Michael on the left, a very unusually beautiful figure with an ideal face of purity and strength, with St. Andrew behind him. On the other side are St. George or St. Maurice, and St. Longinus. St. George and St. Michael hold out on each side the Virgin’s mantle, so that Gonzaga, as well as Elizabeth and John, are within its shelter. Gonzaga, by the way, is evidently true to life. Mantegna would never have ventured to paint such a treacherous face if it had not existed in the model. The overloading here of fruit and flower does not spoil this rarely splendid picture. There are dignity, nobility and grace in the Madonna, and the saints are very fine specimens of early Italian art.
It was in 1474 that Antonello da Messina painted his famous Portrait of a Man, now in this room of the Louvre. Antonello was a southern Italian who preferred North Italy to live in, and though called a Neapolitan, his work belongs distinctly to the school of which Bellini, Giorgione and Titian are the great names. His work at first was angular, feeble and ill-drawn, and it was not till he went to Venice, somewhere about 1470, that his style showed the wonderful advance that soon made him a master of greater power than Giovanni Bellini. That this is not overstated the mere dates of some of the works of the two painters will prove. Compare any picture of Bellini’s of the date of Antonello’s Portrait here, with this latter, and see how far below it falls. It was not till 1487 that the great Venetian revealed his slow-growing but more wonderful genius in the Madonnas that are world-famed. It was as a portrait-painter that Antonello was at his best, and it was in that line that his contemporaries acknowledged his supremacy. He was the one from whom Giovanni Bellini learned the use of oil paints, and thus Antonello may be said to have introduced it into Italy. Vasari’s statement that he acquired his knowledge of the new medium on a visit to Flanders is probably untrue. Pictures by Van Eyck were imported into Italy and Antonello may easily have seen them in Naples.
The Portrait-bust here is considered not only one of the finest works of the painter, but one of the finest portraits in existence. Bellini himself, nor Titian, scarcely ever surpassed it in reality, in intensity of expression, in its plastic feeling, its subtle modelling, its splendid flesh-tones. It represents a man in early middle-age, clean shaven, with a thick wig of hair cropped straight across the forehead and bunching over the ears to the base of the neck. Over this is a high, round, black cap. His loose coat is black also and fits into a straight standing collar close about his neck, at the edge of which a bit of white shows. His head is turned three-quarters to the left, while his eyes look to the right so that he gazes straight at the spectator. These eyes are remarkable. There is a translucence, a limpidity about the pupil, a marvellous feeling of flesh about the eyelids that accenetuate what seems to be actual vision. It seems hardly credible that those sternly regarding eyes do not see as clearly as those of a living man. Not less remarkable is the rest of the countenance. To speak of the smooth, astute modelling, that never suggests brush-work ; of the flesh with the undertones made, it seems, of actual blood-corpuscles ; of those full, pressed lips as pulsingly soft as life itself ; of that finely drawn, rather sharp nose ; of that square, aggressive chin and high cheek-bones, to speak of any or all of these is only to emphasize the varying elements in the picture as a whole. It is the living presentation of a very much alive Italian of the fifteenth century, more valuable as a historical document of life than reams of historical research.
Cima da Conegliano has but one picture in the Louvre, but that, says M. Alexandre, is a magnificent one. It represents the Virgin and Child seated upon a throne-chair in front of a tall baldaquin on a balcony with a charming landscape for background, and St. John and Mary Magdalene for attendants. Mary is one of Cima’s most charming Madonnas, her round face, of rather a peasant type, full of a sweet maternal expression, her attitude, as she leans over the baby, one of grace and tender solicitude. Jesus has a very natural, childlike pose, resting on his right arm and turning to look at John, who is depicted as a youth many years older. The Magdalene half-kneels at the right, and receives very little attention from either mother or babe. The landscape, with its wooded cliff at the right, and its low-lying valley stretching to farther hills, is a scene from the Friuli country, often chosen by Venetian painters of this era.
Cima has a certain cleanness, polish, and brilliance that reminds one, as critics have not failed to notice, of Credi, though the former has more richness of colour, as is to be expected of a Venetian, while Lorenzo di Credi has perhaps more nobility of line. Cima was a pupil of Alvise Vivarini, and we know little more about him.
If not much is known of Cima, still less, from one point of view, can be definitely stated about Giorgione, the supposed author of the Holy Family in this bay of the Grande Galerie. Around no painter’s name, probably, has a fiercer fight raged than about this ” Great George,” of Castelfranco,the golden youth who, according to Va-sari, and to many later critics, influenced all Venetian art, influenced Titian himself to such a degree that from his day on only those paintings that were ” Giorgionesque ” received full praise and appreciation. He and Titian were both pupils of Giovanni Bellini, and so compelling, it is related, was the young Giorgione’s personality and talent that old Giambellini himself made a desperate attempt to remodel his own style after that of his pupil. Titian in his turn was equally impressed with his fellow pupil’s genius, and, after leaving Bellini’s bottega, took lessons of Giorgione. And Giorgione’s fame spread all over Italy and pictures by him were in demand in every wealthy household. Such is the tradition, if it be no more than that. Since those days works by him were supposed to be in every museum, every private collection in Europe. But finally came destructive as well as re-constructive criticism. One by one the pictures ascribed to the young Venetian have been torn away from him, till now not half a dozen are indisputably his. So little, indeed, is left him that there seems some justice in the questions that naturally arise. From whence come the universal praise and admiration given his name? Why is his influence over Titian and the rest of the Venetians so positively stated? How can one tell, in the dearth of works positively his, what his style really was, or to what degree of excellence he had attained when, at only thirty-two, he died? Is it wholly upon the record that Vasari left Vasari, the notoriously inaccurate? Why is Titian supposed to be indebted to Giorgione in-stead of Giorgione to Titian?
If there seems to be no very definite answer to all these questions, or one that to-morrow may not be overturned, perhaps the most common-sense explanation of the universally conceded debt of Titian to him lies in the dates of the two men’s lives. Giorgione died before a single painting can be positively assigned to Titian. For the earliest dated work by the latter are the frescoes of St. Antonio, done in 1511. And Giorgione died in 1510. Therefore, all the works attributed to Giorgione were executed before that date. Since, then, there is unquestionably much in Titian that resembles the style, the colour, the design of these works, it is credible that it was Giorgione who influenced him, rather than he Giorgione. The contemporary estimation in which he was held, Vasari unquestionably voices. Now, at the end of all the debates between critics, after all these centuries, Giorgione is probably best or most generally known by his Madonna at Castelfranco and by the Concert, whether or not by him, at the Pitti. A glowing colour for which the word divine seems not inappropriate, a consummate mastery of line, a musical sense unlike any other painter, a joyous exuberance joined to exquisite tenderness as shown in landscape of fields and trees and water, and a refinement of the sensuous unknown to Titian, these inadequately perhaps characterize one’s impression of a work by Giorgione.
Of the Holy Family in this bay which is ascribed to him, a pretty general opinion exists that it is not his, though some critics think it may be a late work which Sebastiano del Piombo finished after Giorgione’s death.
This picture, Mr. Herbert Cook says, ” is marked by a lurid splendour of colour and a certain rough grandeur of expression well calculated to jar with any preconceived notion of Giorgionesque sobriety and reserve. Yet here, if anywhere, we get that fuoco Giorgionesco of which Vasari speaks, that intensity of feeling, rendered with a vivacity and power to which the artist could only have attained in his latest days.”
The Virgin is seated at the left, a slightly over half-length figure, with Joseph’s head and shoulders seen behind her still more at the left. She is in three-quarters position, dressed in a red gown, a blue mantle lined with green and a white drapery over her head and shoulders. On her knee is the baby Christ whom she draws toward her by the fold of muslin about his waist, the ends of which she holds in her left hand. Before them, only head and shoulders appearing, is the donor, a black-bearded man in profile. Beside him, at the right, is St. Sebastian, arrow pierced and tied to the tree behind him. Between this saint and Mary is St. Catherine looking with adoration at the Madonna and Child. A red curtain back of Mary and Joseph cuts off the scene that shows at the right beyond the other figures. Mary is a rather full-faced, exquisitely-browed woman, whose mouth falls into Cupid curves, and whose whole blooming beauty is one of richness and splendour. Sebastian’s nude torso and beautiful face are equally glorious in colour and model-ling.
Carpaccio, best and most famously known for his series of scenes illustrating St. Ursula’s life, is represented at the Louvre by the one picture, St. Etienne Preaching at Jerusalem. The painter was born in or near Venice, and his last dated work is about the time of Raphael’s death, when, presumably, he was far older than the young Urbinate. He is thought to have been a pupil of both Giovanni Bellini and Alvise Vivarini, and his work shows their influence. He is the truest, and at the same time the most poetic historian of Venice of the latter end of the fifteenth and early sixteenth century. In his can-vases live again the streets, the architecture, the daily life of the Venice of his day. His colouring is the glowing translucent tone that only Venetian painters knew, his compositions are dignified, interesting, and his personages are depicted with a delicate observation and sympathetic rendering that makes a figure by Carpaccio as distinctive and unmistakable as an angel by Fra Angelico.
Not of Venice, however, is the Louvre picture. Standing at the left of a public square, on a pedestal carved with a medallion of the Roman emperor, is the saint preaching to an assembly dressed in Eastern costumes. At the right, in the centre of a group of men, a number of women are seated, all gazing at the saint with absorbed, following faces. Back of them are the buildings that make the town, minarets rising often against the mountainous background. The colour is glorious, full of rich, deep tones. It was executed for the Scuola of St. Stefano at Venice, and was one of a series of five pictures illustrating incidents of the saint’s life.
Titian is represented at the Louvre with a long list of pictures, several of which are Titian at his best, and many others are very beautiful works. Unlike most of the men of the Renaissance, he seems not to have been a prodigy in his early youth. But if his genius was slow in developing, it was even slower in showing any signs of decay. In full perfection it bloomed, presenting the spectacle of a man past eighty still producing immortal works. He died of the plague when he was ninety-nine years old, and up to a short time before, his brush had been as busy as if the hand that held it knew but half the century it had helped to mould. The greatest colourist of the world is the title probably oftenest given to him. It is both more and less than his due. He was the greatest Venetian, and the school of Venice stands pre-eminent for its colour. But Veronese, Giorgione, even Correggio at times surpassed him in brilliancy, depth or golden glow. None of these, however, or any other, ever attained to such universal splendour of colour and tone. His extraordinarily high standard, a standard that years did not lower, has never been equalled. On the other hand, the emphasis that has always been laid upon his colour seems to hint a limitation of his powers as draughtsman, composer and master of movement. And it is true that at times his compositions, minus their colour-scheme, would seem huddled, and the action inadequate or strained ; that occasionally in his portraits there is a lack of feeling for the bony construction of the cranium, and that the hands are sometimes too pulpy. But this is Titian at his worst. At his best he is as great a draughtsman, as perfect a master of composition, and has as exquisite feeling for rhythm and movement as any painter that ever lived. If he lacked certain of the peculiar, personal attributes of such men as Raphael, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Correggio or Velasequez or Rembrandt, he excelled each one in other respects, and perhaps equalled them all en masse. ” Serene grandeur ” seems indeed to be the distinguishing characteristic of all his work. It is as untroubled as it is brilliant, as graceful as powerful, as poetic as simple, as full of clarity as it is of richness, as sane as it is original.
During his life Titian was the friend of emperor, kings, princes, poets and nobles, and his work was almost entirely done for these mighty patrons. He was invited to go to Rome, as a young man, to work for the Popes, but he preferred to stay in his city of Venice, and only made trips from that city in the service of noted prince, king or emperor.
The most important of his paintings in the Louvre are in the Salon Carré, but there are many extremely interesting ones in this bay of the Grande Galerie. Among them is the Jupiter and Antiope. This is one of the mythologic scenes which Titian, in common with all the Venetians, loved to paint, principally, undoubtedly, because of the opportunity it gave to portray the nude. The Venetians, indeed, painted the nude as no others in Italy ever thought of doing. It was not so much for the sake of line and contour, like the Florentines, nor yet to display wonderful movement and action, like Michelangelo. It was to show the pulsing beauty of flesh, with the warm sun lighting the rounded planes, or soft shadows caressing the curves. It was because the human figure was best adapted to displaying the beauty of paint. In other words, they treated the nude body as painters, pure and simple, revelling in its gleaming flesh, its soft forms, its firm structure, as no other school has ever done. Even the modern French school has never approached it with the singleness of purpose that characterized the Venetian at its height. Beauty of tone, of colour, of light and perforce of contour, and all seen and expressed as only a painter could see and express, that was their aim, their entire object.
In this Jupiter and Antiope the landscape proves how peculiarly sensitive Titian was to its pictorial possibilities. He and Giorgione are the first to show this feeling for outdoors. Not till Claude Lorrain do we again see such play of atmosphere, such enveloping air, such golden shimmering light. At the foot of a tree, Antiope, half- sitting, half-lying, is stretched out, the upper part of her body nude. One arm is over her head, and she seems sleeping, a dreamlike smile curving her lips. Jupiter, in the guise of a satyr, is at her feet. He has lifted up a piece of her drapery, and, crouching on elbow, his eyes are devouring the beautiful sight. Over Antiope’s head, perched on the tree, a small Cupid is aiming his bow and arrow at the king of the gods. At the left of the tree a young woman with low-cut bodice and bare arms sits listening to another satyr, who, back to, leans on his right hand. Beside them stand a hunter with two dogs in leash, and another, only partly in the picture, blowing a horn. A wood behind this group opens out at the left into a charming landscape of meadow, lake and mountain. In the middle distance a hunt is in progress and the dogs in chase. The landscape is full of a golden light that surrounds the figures, softening their outlines, making the whole thing a veritable idyl. It is injured by fire, by much travelling and by restoration, but it is still Titian in the plenitude of his powers. Antiope is, as one noted critic has said, ” modelled with a purity of colour and softness of rounding hardly surpassed in the Parian marbles of the ancients.” In 1829 it was transferred to a new canvas.
Exhibiting Titian in a far different manner is the Disciples at Emmaus. In a stately pillared room opening on to a balcony, Jesus sits at table with Cleophas and Luke. The rich damask of the cloth, the servant and the page, as well as the splendid hall, are not such as one associates in thought with the life of the Carpenter of Nazareth. It would have been contrary to the Venetian principles in painting, however, to make these surroundings of the Master mean or sordid, and in spite of the incongruousness that must be felt, Titian succeeded in giving the scene an intimate, almost homely character. Jesus sits facing the spectator, his left hand on the bread, his right lifted in blessing. Cleophas is at the end of the table on the right, his head reverently bent, his hands joined in prayer. At Jesus’ right sits Luke in profile, his hands outspread, his body thrown back, his whole expression one of rapt wonder and amaze. Quite indifferent to the meaning of the scene are the servants, standing with sleeves turned up and looking as if waiting for orders from Luke, and the page who is behind Luke’s chair.
This picture was painted probably about 1547 when Charles V. had called him to Augsburg. It was at Mantua and with the rest of the Gonzaga collection passed into the hands of Charles L, and then, along with others of the Whitehall gems came to the gallery of Louis XIV. It is therefore an example of his work when he was about seventy years old. The sureness of the touch, the masterly chiaroscuro, the ease in composition, the skill in treatment of damask, silk and stuffs never hint that the hand which held the brush was already older than most painters’ when they drop it for ever. The figures are under life-size. The colours are bright, Christ in the conventional red and blue, Cleophas in tan and red, Luke wearing a green coat and a blue and white checked scarf. It is said that Charles I. was model for Luke and Cardinal Ximenes for Cleophas, and that the page is Philip II. The force and brilliance of the composition are more marked than its spirituality. It is a very different conception from Rembrandt’s picture of the same scene, also in the Louvre.
In the Virgin and Child and Several Saints, the Virgin sits at the left, facing the right her head almost in profile. She holds on her lap the infant Jesus, who is lying on his back, his feet kicked up, his right hand grasping her veil. At the right stand St. Etienne dressed in blue who offers the Madonna a palm, St. Ambroise in red, reading from a large book, and St. Maurice in armour and leaning on his lance. Behind is a landscape with deeply clouded sky. The Virgin has a red dress, a blue mantle lined with yellow and a yellow veil. A replica of the picture is in Vienna.
Of the other works of Titian in this section, the Portrait of François I. was perhaps painted from a medallion. It is a profile view.
The one called simply an Allegory, is supposed to rep-resent Davolos the warrior who is at the right, his hand on the breast of his wife, Mary of Arragon. She is sitting at the left holding a crystal globe in her hands. At the right, opposite her is Cupid, and farther back Hymen and Victory, two young maidens crowned with flower and myrtle. These three are trying to console her for the departure of her husband. It is painted with free, full touch and with rich colour, and is a thoroughly typical work. of the great Venetian. The flesh-tones are pure, rich and delicate. The woman’s face is as beautiful as it is calm and full of a soft harmoniousness. The warrior is splendid and imposing, clad in striking armour.
An Adoration of the Shepherds in this division is by Palma Vecchio, who is called a pupil of Giovanni Bellini and also a Venetian. He was really, however, born near Bergamo, and Morelli claims that his Bergamese traits are apparent in all his paintings. He has a richness of colour, an amplitude of forms, a suppleness of composition, a large, loose management of drapery that, were it not for the greater magic of the names of Titian and Giorgione would place him at the height of Venetian masters. His characteristic type of woman was auburn-haired and brown-eyed, of almost Junoesque splendour of charms, but interfused as it were with an alluring softness that made the beauty less statuesque and more appealing.
All his happiest attributes are shown in the Adoration. It is glowingly splendid in colour, of vigorous handling, with brilliant lights that suggest Lotto’s influence. It is altogether one of Palma’s most beautiful works and has been assigned, though with no good reason, to Titian. The Virgin is seated before a ruin overlaid with ornamental reliefs, dressed in red and blue, in three-quarters position, her head bent to the right. She leans over, holding the child in his crib before a young shepherd who kneels adoringly with hands clasped on his breast. At the right of the Virgin, between her and the shepherd, sits Joseph, in a chestnut-toned mantle, leaning on a stick and looking attentively at the shepherd. Back of the Virgin, at the left, in a gray, fur-bordered costume is the donor, this time a woman, her hands joined. Over her head in the ruin are seen an ox and ass, and in the middle of the landscape more shepherds watching a group of angels in the sky, and a cavalier conducted by a soldier appearing round the bend of the road. The light is so arranged that it falls sharply on the faces of the Virgin, the donor, Joseph and Christ’s little body but only slightly on the kneeling shepherd lad. The graceful positions of the figures are a trifle too much planned, perhaps, though Joseph has a very natural ease.
Not at the Louvre can Jacopo Robusti, he who is always called Tintoretto, be known, though there are one or two things well worthy of even him on the walls. Tintoretto, the last of the great masters of the Renaissance was far from being the least. Few can agree with Ruskin in ranking him superior to all save Michelangelo, yet at his best it must be acknowledged that only the giant Florentine rivalled him in force, majesty of imagination, in virility, in fertility of invention. The mere name of Tintoretto suggests a veritable passion of power, an unceasing surging demand for expression, a boundless vision that could sweep the earth, or pierce the depths of hell or soar into the fulness of heaven, an illimitable capacity for work and a lightning-like facility of execution. Not less does it connote marvellous knowledge of human anatomy, absolute command over every intricate problem of perspective, construction or chiaroscuro, joined to such a feeling for movement, action, as no other painter ever possessed. Nothing was too difficult for his obedient brush. It was a simple matter for him to paint figures floating in the ether, or falling head first like a thunderbolt from the sky, and simple too, to cover yards and yards of canvas, improvising as he painted. More than any of the masters of the later Renaissance he was self-taught. The story may or may not be true that he originally went to work in Titian’s studio and that in a few days the painter of Cadore thrust him out from; fear of a rival in the boy who could already make such extraordinary sketches. It is at least certain that he was with Titian at the most a very short time and from then on worked quite by himself, studying all the works of Titian he could, and making copies of casts of Michelangelo’s great figures. It was in the beginning of his career that he wrote on the wall of his room, ” Il disegno di Michelangelo, il colorito di Tiziano.” And at his best in the Ducal Palace, in the Mater Domini, at the Orto, and occasionally in the San Rocco, it is not too much to say that he has painted with a brush as glowing as ever Titian used and drawn with a pencil as sure, as vigorous and as full of virile imagination as that of the painter of the Sistine Chapel.
Of the number of sadly inadequate works of Tintoretto in this bay, the sketch for the Paradise is perhaps the most interesting for, principally, its associations. In 1587 Guariento of Padua’s picture of Paradise in the Grand Council Hall of the Ducal Palace, was declared unworthy of its associates and a new decoration was wanted to fill its place. It was to cover the whole side wall which was thirty feet in height by seventy-four in length. Veronese was chosen to paint it with the assistance of Bassano. But Veronese, dying before he had even finished his preparatory studies, Tintoretto begged the senators to let him have the work, saying, ” Give me Paradise now for I am not sure of it hereafter.” He was then either seventy-one or seventy-seven. The sketch for it in the Louvre shows the general disposition and gives some effect of the wonderful aerial perspective which so stamps the huge fresco in Venice. The figures of Christ and the Virgin are full of dignity and nobility and Adam and Eve are wonderfully beautiful. But as a whole it is lacking in unity and coherence.
The Dead Christ with Two Angels is a little canvas that has a pathetic beauty quite without exaggeration or sentimentality. Jesus has apparently just been lifted from the tomb by the two angels, one of whom, standing beside him, still half-holds him in his arms. The other is leaning on the tomb, a flaming torch over his shoulder, his right hand holding his robe to his weeping eyes. These two celestial beings are very lovely in their conception and realization. The figure of Jesus, helpless, inert, a dead weight with his dropped head and hanging arms and bent legs, is brought into strong light, emphasizing the gloom and mystery surrounding him.
There are three pictures by Lotto in this bay of which the St. Jerome in the Desert is one of his very earliest works. The general tone is rather warm, recalling, says Mr. Berenson, Alvise Vivarini’s Resurrection in San Giovanni in Bragora at Venice. There are too, he acknowledges, traces of Bellini in the thin, stiff folds of the saint’s draperies and in the rocks of the foreground. But, as indeed even a superficial observer must note, the feeling and movement of the figure are such as would be characteristic of neither Vivarini nor Bellini. There is an expression, a soul-representation in it foreign to these older Venetian painters. The scene takes place on a rocky towering cliff that shows a glimpse of sea and precipitous shore beyond the trees and rocks that make the foreground. At the foot of one of these huge rocks sits St. Jerome half-nude, a crucifix in one hand, a couple of open books beside him. He is looking neither at them nor at the crucifix. His gaze is bent upon the ground and his white beard rests upon his bare chest. Plunged in meditation, the saint does not see the lion who is coming from behind the rock at the left, nor its companion, St. Anthony. Equally oblivious is he to the horseman in the distance.
Christ and the Adulteress was painted somewhere near 1529, after Lotto’s so-called Bergamese period, a period when his art was joyous, glorious, full of a colour as seductive if somewhat less rich than Titian’s. Mr. Berenson calls this picture as ” full of charity as the Bible itself.” It represents Christ standing surrounded by the Pharisees, the accused being directly at his left. Mr. Berenson’s remarks are worth quoting because probably no one else has so carefully studied the picture. ” The Christ is Lotto’s usual type with the forked beard and rather bushy hair. The Adulteress recalls the St. Lucy in the Carmine Altar-piece. The Pharisees, although bearing a decided resemblance to the corpulent old men often found in Bonifazio, have here an intentional coarseness and vulgarity. . . . The crowd, stretching away into the darkness is painted with a skill in modelling within deep shadows that surpasses even the altar-piece in San Bartolommeo at Bergamo ; . . . here the shadow itself is treated atmospherically. The painting of armour here, ” that has not the sparkle and iridescence which Titian and Rubens give to metallic surface . . . resembles that of Rembrandt and the Dutch masters.” Perhaps one of the most noticeable things about it is the aggressiveness shown by the Jews. They evince not the slightest reverence or respect for Jesus, shaking their hands in his face, jostling against him, suspicious anger and hatred showing in every movement and expression. It is a Lottoesque appreciation of what must have been actualities.
Soft, tender and lovely is the Holy Family, sometimes called the Recognition of the Holy Child. The baby Jesus lies completely nude on a white cloth spread over the grass and flowers under the shade of large trees. He is reaching out his hands to the little St. John who so finely balances him, the latter in his turn pointing out the divine babe to the Virgin. She is half-lying, half-sitting near by and has lifted her hands in amaze as if she had never before really seen her child, while at the left, somewhat out of the picture, Joseph is rising from his knees also to gaze. On the right is Elizabeth, bending eagerly over the baby and behind her is Joachim lifting his hands wonderingly. Back of St. John three angels dressed in white with ” pearly, iridescent wings” that cross, press forward to make their reverence to the child. The Madonna, remarks Mr. Berenson, is the same type as the Cingola picture and as a whole the painting in certain ways suggests Savoldo.
According to Mr. Berenson Lotto for years was painting like an artist of the fifteenth century when already the sixteenth was in full flower. It is in consequence of this early manner of his that his later style seems so marvellous a jump. And even in his very earliest work he shows signs of what for the day, was a most peculiar personality. It did not reach triumphant expression, however, till he was past fifty years old. This personality, this peculiarly Lottoesque donation to the art of the Renaissance, is a subjective way of looking at life and people. Whether he painted an altar-piece or a portrait, it was always his own interpretation of the Scriptures, not a mere relating of some long accepted myth or story; it was always the man as he saw him ; and these marvellous portraits are evidence that Lotto saw far below the flesh ; it seems, at times, as if he pulled the secrets of the soul too ruthlessly from their hiding. His was a plummet that reached straight and unswervingly to the unworded, almost unthought aspirations, longings and pains of the submerged soul. Titian, continues Mr. Berenson, might have asked his sitter, ” Who are you? What is your station in life?” Lotto would have more likely questioned, ” What sort of a person are you? How do you take life? ” It is this ” that makes him preeminently a psychologist and distinguishes him from such even of his contemporaries as are most like him ; from Dürer, who is near him in depth, and from Correggio who comes close to him in sensitiveness.”
Next to Venice there is no better place than the Louvre to see Veronese, Veronese, who was as little a psychologist as Lotto was a painter of pageants. Although always classed among the Venetians, he was neither born there nor did he go there to live till he had already acquired some considerable prominence as fresco-painter in his own town of Verona. It is to his continued use of fresco-painting when all the Venetians had dropped it for the more pliant oils that is doubtless due much of the transparence and freshness of his colour. In tempera painting it is impossible to overlay, to muddy by re-working. He was the best draughtsman in the Venetian school, for which his early training is largely accountable. His compositions are brilliant masterpieces for the apparent ease in the massing of the immense crowds of figures, for the dignity with which he treated the gorgeously dressed assemblages and (in spite of an astounding richness of apparel, a loading of jewels and elaborate architectural ornamentation), for the unerring good taste that marks all these magnificent wall decorations. In colour he was somewhat less rich than Titian and less violent in chiaroscuro than Tintoretto. He has been accused of being a wholly superficial painter, but his Calvary alone at the Louvre would absolve him from that accusation. Nevertheless, it is perfectly true that he best loved to portray the pageant of life. It was in the beauty of colour, of gleaming flesh against satin and velvet, of crowds of courtiers and ladies against the marble of stately hall, with the blue of Venetian sky for background, that he revelled. And no one else has so well expressed the gaiety, the pomp, the splendour of the Renaissance in the queen of the Italian cities.
The Disciples at Emmaus which is in this bay, shows, in the centre of an open porch or gallery a small table at which is seated Jesus blessing the bread. At his right sits a disciple, in profile, gazing with wonder and awe at his master, while another on the opposite side reaches out his hand as if he too, was overcome at the sight. Back of them are several servants, both men and women. At the left stands a group which represents the painter’s own family. He himself, in black, is behind the disciple who has a bundle knotted on his staff, and his wife, in rich robes of brilliant colour, stands still farther to the left, one child in her arms, three others about her. The painter’s brother is against the frame, in front of a pillar. At the right, through an opening between pillars, a view of distant country, with Christ and two disciples walking down the road is seen. In the very foreground in front of the table is the most beautiful bit of the whole picture. Two small girls are on the marble floor playing with a big dog. Their exquisite blondness, soft infantile roundness of cheek and arm and charming purity of line and colour make the group a rare gem even for Veronese. They are supposed to be his own children.
The Calvary is one of Veronese’s most noted and most moving of pictures. He seldom touches the heart, still less often the deep emotions of the soul. But here, by a daring originality in composition, by a masterly arrangement of light and shade, by an unusual simplicity in colour and grouping, he reached an emotional height far beyond his wont. At the left rise the three crosses in a diagonal line that brings the third into the middle plane of the picture, and the first so far forward that the upper part of the cross and figure is cut off by the top of the panel. The central one, on which of course is Jesus, is thus brought into its proper prominence by an unusual arrangement. Mary Magdalene kneels at the foot of the cross, her back to the spectator, though her head is thrown up so that it is brought into profile. Next to her a woman crouches over the form of the Virgin who has sunk back fainting into John’s arms. Another tall and heavily draped woman stands beside her looking down, her hands clasped at her throat. At the left of this group are two Romans beside the first robber’s cross, with the head of a horse appearing between them. Below, in the valley to the right, is a distant view of Jerusalem. The sky above the city and back of the women is brilliant with angry streaks, while heavy clouds crowd the top of the scene. This makes a wonderfully effective chiaroscuro. The deep shadow enveloping the group at the foot of the cross forms a sombre mass against the flaming sky, while Christ’s body, catching the reflection of this sinister lighting, is thrown into sharpened relief against the banking clouds behind him. The effect of this splendidly wrought out scheme is almost overwhelming, and at the same time there is no false note, no theatrical element.
In its own way the Burning of Sodom is almost as effective. In the foreground at the left an angel leads Lot’s two daughters from the doomed Sodom. She is between the two girls, clasping the hand of the one on the right who is stooping to lift her gown as she steps over a rock. The other daughter on the left carries a big basket and hastens her steps by the angel’s side, a little dog accompanying her. Back of them Lot is being urged on by another angel while still farther in the distance the disobedient wife is seen, already whitening into the shapeless pillar, and beyond, are the flames that sweep the city. The two maidens with the angel form a charming group, the voluminous drapery falling about them almost with a Botticelli sort of rhythm, though their firm, rounded, vigorous young frames, and brilliant, clear flesh, are as far as possible from the thin, swaying, pallid women of the earlier painter. There is an intoxicating sense of freedom, of movement, about these hastening figures. It is as if the world lay wide and un-trammelled before them and they were fairly flying to reach the vast expanse.
Veronese’s two Holy Families at the Louvre are both full of beauty of colour and composition, though it is not in such simple scenes that he is generally at his best. The one here in the Grande Galerie shows the Madonna seated within a stately room, at the left, her face in profile, the child in her arms, Elizabeth standing behind her. The baby is rosy and joyous, his arms and feet flying out in a very ecstasy of motion, though he is sup-posed to be only blessing the nun, who, kissing his hand, kneels before him. By her side is another saint, and back of her, Joseph, who leans over her, resting on his staff. The Madonna is rarely young and slender for Veronese, and has a sweet seriousness and real feeling in her lovely face. The composition is dignified and satisfactory.
The three pictures credited to Bonifazio in this section of the gallery are probably not all his.
The Holy Family with Elizabeth and Joseph and other saints, is at least a characteristic example of his earlier style. It is not so glowing in colour as some of his to be seen in Italy, but it has real beauty if not great originality of force. In front of a ruined pillar, overgrown with flowers sits the Madonna in a red dress and white mantle with the naked baby Christ standing upright on her lap, one foot on her knee the other on her wrist. At the left is Elizabeth holding John, who has his crossed reed. In the foreground at the right Joseph, in profile, is resting his chin on his hand that holds his staff. St. Anthony is at the left in hermit robes, reading, and behind him St. Francis stands praying in bent attitude. Beside the Virgin on the left is the Magdalene offering a vase of perfumes, and behind all, a landscape with ruins.
Bonifazio was a pupil of Palma Vecchio and so much a follower of Titian that the question about more than one painting has been whether he or the man of Cadore was its creator. Charm of colour was his in a high degree. Grace of composition, beauty of line, facility of execution, in fact, a facile brush and a clever head, this was Bonifazio. Withal, he lacked depth of imagination and true warmth of feeling and never really created a single type or even a distinct manner. His usual picture was a fashionably attired assemblage shown in a charming country landscape or under trees, engaged in some sort of ” fête champêtre.”
His pupil, Bassano, is very poorly shown at the Louvre, none of the seven or eight canvases giving much idea of the glowing, jewel-like colouring that fairly thrills with its transcendent brilliancy.
Not much better represented is Paris Bordone, though his Portrait of a Man does perhaps display his ability more fairly. Almost, however, he can be called the painter of one picture, for nothing he ever did begins to compare with his famous Fisherman Presenting the Ring of St. Mark to the Doge. That is so splendid that it does not pale beside Titian or Carpaccio. Bordone was among the Italians called to the court of François II., and it was as a painter of portraits that he was there best known. The portrait in the Louvre is a work of excel-lent handling but of little character. It is supposed to be a likeness of Jeronimo Croft and was painted while the artist was at Augsburg. The man is seated, turned three-quarters to the left, his head almost in full face. Dressed in black, bordered with fur, with a black cap, he has a dark, full beard, slight moustache and dark eyes.
His left hand rests on a table at his right, the other extended, holds a letter. A column, bearing a large coat-of-arms is at the left behind him, a curtain at the right. The face is softly, smoothly modelled with fine gradations of tone. It has a melancholy aspect, emphasized by the large eyes with their heavy lids and dreamy expression. The accessories in the way of background and objects on the table are somewhat overdone.
Another portrait, that of A Sculptor by Bronzino, is worthy of comment. It is a half-length figure of a youth, hardly more than a boy, standing in three-quarters position facing the left. He holds in his hands a statuette of a nude woman; and though his left hand is splendidly articulated and is full of really fine feeling, neither that nor the other actually grasps the statuette. The boy is bareheaded with close-cropped dark hair, long, dark eyes far apart, full lips closed in a wistful line. He is in black with a white open-work collar ; behind him a green drapery hooked back, showing a bare wall.
Bronzino was an intimate friend of Vasari and imitated Pontormo who was a pupil of Andrea del Sarto. He was a capital portrait-painter, though his colour was not usually equal to his draughtsmanship.
Already these last names hint the end of the great race of painters of Italy. The Decadence had come, and only an occasional genius rose to break the downward race of the art. The Caracci, under the leadership of Lodovico did make a valiant attempt to return to the principles of the great past. They were Bolognese, and their school is generally styled ” eclectic.” In opposition to the mannerists, the decadents of the time, they tried to inculcate the study and imitation of all the great masters joined to an intelligent observation of nature. There was therefore in their work often to be seen most flagrant imitation now of this man, now of that. Yet, on the whole, they may be said to have instigated a healthy reactionary movement. Of the three, Lodovico, Agostino and Annibale, the last was by far the most talented. He had real talent that expressed itself in graceful lines, soft harmonies of light and shade and a certain tenderness in modelling that nevertheless did not preclude real and at times decided vigour. He was one of the first to paint landscape as landscape and not as mere accessory for figure studies. He is well represented at the Louvre, and among the best of the canvases are The Sleeping Christ, The Virgin with Cherries and The Dead Christ on the Knees of the Virgin.
In the first of these, behind a table, stands the Ma-donna, only the upper part of her figure being visible. She is leaning forward, one arm about the little Jesus, who, stretched out asleep on the table, has his head on her shoulder. At the end of the table at the left, the small St. John stands, one insistent forefinger cautiously touching the leg of the baby, while his laughing face is turned in profile up to the Madonna. She is looking at him, half-smiling, but with her finger at her lips to enjoin silence. There is a very sympathetic feeling in this picture. St. John’s roguish head with its wealth of curls and the tender face of the mother, suggesting perhaps both Correggio and Veronese, belong distinctly to the Bolognese painter.
The second picture recalls again something of the manner of Correggio in chiaroscuro, modelling and types. The Virgin is seated, in full face, the baby Christ standing on her knees, his left arm about her neck, his right holding the cherries stretched out to Joseph, whose large hand is under the tiny one. The man’s head is in deep shadow and it throws a shade also over the upper part of the child’s face. There is a sort of conventional naturalism in the mother that is not displeasing though her type is not particularly elevated.
The Dead Christ on the Knees of the Madonna with the two little angels at the right is one of his best works. It has something of the deep feeling of the earlier masters and is remarkably good in line and chiaroscuro.
Guido Reni was a pupil of Caracci and his works successively show the influence of first one master and then another. Now he is extremely Raphaelesque, again he reminds one of Caravaggio, and a third style suggests no great master’s name, it is one of pure affectation, figures of wax, with eyes turned theatrically heavenward, and with nothing appealing to either true emotion or the mind. Of this order are the Magdalene and the Ecce Homo of the Louvre.
The St. Sebastian in this bay, is better, and is a figure of careful and beautiful modelling, spiritedly drawn, and with a vigour characteristic of Caravaggio. He is presented in nearly full length leaning against a tree to which he is bound, his hands behind him, his head turned to the left, his eyes lifted to the sky. At the right, below and in deep shadow are seen the executioners, and in the distance beyond, a lake or stream that shimmers brightly out of the surrounding gloom. The head of Sebastian is rarely noble, of a deep, pathetic beauty emphasized by the strong but luminous shadow that sweeps over the entire right side. Very beautiful too are the chest and shoulders which are thrust forward into intense light.
The St. Cecilia by Domenichino in this bay is by far his best work in the Louvre. It does not, of course, begin to come up to the splendid Jerome of the Vatican, a work which proves that the painter could reach heights beyond the possibilities of even his masters the Caracci. But it is full of a grace of colour and tone joined to tenderness of expression. The saint is standing in nearly full face behind a stone balustrade which cuts her off just below the knees. The big bass viol on which she is playing rests on the balustrade where is perched also the small boy angel who serves as music-rack by holding the score on his head. St. Cecilia is singing as well as playing and, with eyes raised heavenward she pays no attention to either music or angel. As was customary when painting the patron saint of music, Domenichino dressed her richly, her red robe with its violet sleeves ornamented with embroidered bands and her broad turban wound with jewels. The picture was extremely popular, and has become world-known through its numerous reproductions. Though to-day would not give it the high place it used to occupy, it has a distinctive and delicate charm that will always make it enjoyable.
Another painter who was at first largely influenced by the Caracci and afterward by Caravaggio is Guercino. Later on his manner grew softer, and he imitated the style of Guido Reni. His last period is by far his worst and if he never quite reaches the depths into which Guido plunged it is because of his more clear and transparent colouring, though even the colour finally gets faded and insipid. It was the transparence and purity of his colour joined to a certain grace and correctness of drawing that made him famous for generations. To-day he, like Guido, seems meaningless and at the same time theatric. Of his works in the Louvre only a few even approach his best.
Circe represents a fully clothed young woman standing by a table on which is an open book of geometric diagrams and a vase. She has a most elaborate turban on her head ornamented with pearls, and she holds in her hands another vase. Her face is without distinction of any kind.
With the Procession of the Doge, and the Fête of Jeudi Gras at Venice, we come to very different art. They are by Guardi, a follower of Canaletto, whose views of Venice are celebrated for the sparkle and brilliance of their colour. Guardi’s works are to-day highly prized and show an iridescence of colour and great facility of execution. Of his pictures in the Louvre it is not necessary to particularize many. The two mentioned above are principally remarkable for their truth of architectural detail, for the easy management of crowds of pleasure-seekers and for the scintillating colour that is a part of the inheritance of the Queen of the Adriatic.
Tiepolo, the last of the great Italian painters, is the author of the Last Supper hanging on the north wall of Bay B. It has been said of Tiepolo that had he lived in the time of Veronese he would have rivalled the greatest of the masters of the Renaissance. While all about him the decadence had ceased even to suggest the days of the golden age, he came, and by his individuality, his power, his force, and his colour, made a name for him-self in Italian art that is rivalled only by his predecessors of a more fortunate age.
In looking at the Last Supper here, there remains no doubt that it is the work of a modern rather than of a man of the Renaissance. The freedom of treatment, the actual brush-work, and finally the point of view, which is realistic beyond any of the fifteenth or even sixteenth-century painters, all proclaim it of to-day, in spite of its century and half age. In a sort of gallery, with huge, Ionic pillars of green marble, the table is spread. In the centre, is Christ, dressed in a red robe and blue mantle, one of the painting’s few conventionalities. About him are the disciples, and Tiepolo has not hesitated to place two of them back to the spectator. Christ is blessing the bread and the disciples are in various attitudes, not all, it is evident, full of the spirit of adoration. In the foreground a dog chews a bone. The violent action and overexpressive countenances of the disciples, the unnecessary elaboration of the architectural back-ground, are characteristic of Tiepolo, but they are faults of the time rather than inherently his. His influence over French art was prodigious, and may, perhaps, be felt even to-day in some of the French painters.
Caravaggio and Salvator Rosa, though of much earlier time than Tiepolo, are not found till the fourth bay, D, where they hang in company with the Spanish school, which indeed, owes much to their influence.
Caravaggio may be said to occupy a similar position in Rome to that Ribera did a little later in Naples. Both men had similar ideals and aims in art. Superficially, the principal attributes of this end of the sixteenth and early seventeenth-century Italian, are his. extraordinary contrasts between his lights and shadows, a rude force in types, in attitudes and expression and in the general lines of his compositions. He lacks unquestionably the highest attributes of a great painter. He is often wholly devoid of beauty, has very slight religious feeling even in his church pictures, is frequently violent, often coarse, and shows no very elevated type in even his most famous pictures. But power, originality in massing, a brilliant if theatric sense of the value of climax, and the way to express it, a poignant, if more physical than mental emotion, and a tremendously dramatic use of chiaroscuro, he shows over and over again. And in the midst of inanities and decadence his name must stand out as at least representing personality and originality.
His Death of the Virgin in Bay D is a really superbly realistic scene, painted with a somewhat restrained force, for Caravaggio, and free from exaggeration. The Virgin in a red robe covered with a gray cloak lies on a couch in the centre of a room, one arm flung out straight, the other at her waist. Her bare feet protrude below her draperies. In front of her sits a girl bent over in grief, and behind the bed are the apostles, weeping or gazing sorrowfully at the dead woman. A conventional piece of red drapery is lifted up over the top of the picture. When this canvas was placed in the Chiesa della Scala, in Trastevere in Rome, it was called too realistic and with not enough of ideality in the Virgin’s figure.
Very splendid is his Portrait of Alof de Wignacourt, grand master of Malta in 1601. It is puissant, not at all theatric, and painted broadly and freely with the unafraid brush of the daring Italian.
An outcome of the school of Ribera was Salvator Rosa, who has in Bay D one of his most famous Battles. The same intense love of contrasts, exaggeration of action and dramatic feeling that often becomes excessive, are shown in his pictures. He was extremely versatile, painting historical scenes, landscapes, genre subjects or battles, with equal facility. Some of them possess real power, some are scarcely more than stupid academic studies.
In this Battle, suffused with its lurid, yellow light, the combat rages straight across the foreground. It is a wild mêlée of horse and man which has no one central climax of action, no one point to arrest the eye. Under rearing, plunging horses, over twisting, screaming, contorted human bodies, the dead and dying are falling, while the living make a frothing, yelling mass of infuriated beasts. At the right a ruined Ionic portico forms a sort of rest for the eye before it follows the line of battle in the distance, where whole companies of horsemen are pursued by others to the base of the rocky mountains that loom against the angry sky. At the left, ships are seen in blaze. The whole scene is one of terrible power and devastation, lacking, however, in its indiscriminate conglomeration sufficient focusing to make it a masterly composition.