The Wallace Collection

The special treasure here is one of REMBRANDT’S greatest pictures, The Centurion Cornelius, or The Unmerciful Servant. Lacking the complex deep-space design of The Night Watch, it achieves more concentrated force through the sombrely majestic reds and golds that flame suddenly out of enveloping darkness, placing four figures among the shadows with magical reality, and bringing out a fitful play of lights and textures, together with a tense emotional drama in the four expressive, opposing faces. Less subtle but more vivacious is The Laughing Cavalier of FRANS HALS, in slashing, bold strokes and ornate coloring consistent with the gay good humor it expresses. VELAZQUEZ has a deftly simplified portrait, The Lady with the Fan, in his awn delicately blended blacks and silver-blues, surrounding creamy flesh-tints that make the Hals look wooden. Many of the numerous eighteenth century French are second-rate, including all the Bouchers and some of the larger canvases by WATTEAU. His small Music Lesson (377) and Gilles and his Family (381), in Room XVIII, have more delicately fragile, iridescent surfaces, and more spontaneous, unconventional drawing.