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Holy Women going to visit the tomb of Christ, whose Resurrection is announced to them by the angels. Three guards sleep at the foot of the tomb, and the numerous details of their armour are given with extreme care. The scene of the picture is a rich landscape, with an imaginary view of Jerusalem in the distance.
Johanna Schopenhauer, an enthusiast in art,—a friend of Goethe,—describes a picture of the Last Day at Danzig, which she assigns to John Van Eyck, but which is now attributed to Van der Goes. It represents the Saviour, with the Virgin Mary and St. John by his side, and beneath them the Archangel with the scales of Justice in his grasp the wicked going down to perdition on one hand, and the righteous proceeding to heaven through the aisles of a Gothic edifice. The manner in which this picture found its way to Danzig is strange enough. The Chronicle of Schöppen says that, in “1473, one Pauel Venecke, a privateer of Danzig, carried a Dutch galley in which this celebrated piece was found.” It was placed in the church soon after, and considered as a miraculous prize. The date of 1467 appears on the panel; but still Mme. Schopenhauer did not hesitate to class the picture amongst the finest of Van Eyck's, founding her judgment on its resemblance to the St. Luke of the Munich Gallery 3 She did not know that this last mentioned picture was by Van der Weyden. Passavant, on a first view, believed that it was by Ouwater; being, as
1 Wood, 24 feet by 1}. We owe to the kindness of our friend, Otto Mündler, the notices of these two pictures.
2 Hirsch, quot. by Passavant. Kunstblatt, No. 32, 1st July, 1847. 3 No. 42, Cab. III. of Munich Gallery. Wood 4' 4" by 3' 5" 6"". he thought, like the Descent from the Cross in the Vienna Gallery, attributed to Wan Eyck." But, on a second visit, he leans to the belief that the picture is by Memling.” It was necessary to give these details, as we had not visited this Danzig altar-piece. Dr. Waagen attributes to John Wan Eyck the Virgin and Child of the Doria Gallery, known there under the name of Duerer; and two portraits, male and female, in the gallery of Count Demidoff in Paris. He also describes a Marriage of St. Catherine in possession of a picturedealer, M. Weber of Antwerp, signed “Joanes Wan Eyck.” Opposite St. Catherine, who holds a sword, is another female saint and St. Ursula. M. Werhelst's collection at Ghent contains a large-sized copy of the same picture. Dr. Waagen also assures us that M. Nieuwenhuys, of Brussels, had an Annunciation by John Van Eyck, much in the style of painting of the Virgin of La Pala at Bruges, and describes a copy of the same picture in the house of M. Joly de Bammeville in Paris. We have not seen the first of these pictures. The second was sold at the death of M. de Bammeville in 1854, and bought by M. Nieuwenhuys. It has all the character of a picture by John Wan Eyck.” The sacerdotal ornaments made by order of Philip the Good, for the Chapter of the Golden Fleece, are now preserved at Vienna; and Dr. Waagen describes them as being adorned with many figures, drawn, he doubts not, from the cartoons of John Van Eyck."
Facio relates that a remarkable tryptic was preserved in the palace of Alphonzo, in which the Annunciation was represented with St. John the Baptist and St. Jerome on each wing, whilst on the outer side were portraits of the donor, Baptista Lomellinus, and his wife.' Of this tryptic no trace remains. Sansovino describes an altar-piece in the church of Santa Maria di Servi at Venice, containing the Adoration of the Magi, of which nothing further is known.
There are two pictures mentioned in the inventory of Margaret of Austria, as forming part of her gallery at Malines in 1524: a portrait of a lady,3 “ accoustrée à la mode du Portugal,” in a red habit, turned with sable, and, above her, a figure of St. Nicolas. The picture was called “ La Belle Portugalaise,” and was probably one of those which John Van Eyck produced at the time he went to Lisbon. The inventory of 1516 describes this picture as being painted by Johannes (Van Eyck), and given to the Regent by “Don Diego.” 4 The same inventory also contains “a picture of Our Lady and the Duke Philip, which came from Millardet, covered with satin ... done by the hand of Johannes." 5
Two other pictures are also mentioned as by “Maistre Jehan” the painter, one of which is the Virgin, and the other Monseigneur de Ligne. All these figures are at present not discoverable.
1 Facio. (Bart.) De Viris Illustribus, 4to. Florence, 1715, p. 46. 2 Sansovino (Descrizione di Venezia). Ven. 1580, p. 57. 3 De Laborde, ut sup., p. 24. 4 Le Glay, ut supra. 5 Ibid. 6 De Laborde, ut sup., p. 31.
Notwithstanding the small demand for pictures representing other than sacred subjects, in the fourteenth century, and necessary as it seemed for artists to vary, as best they might, the scenes from Holy Writ or legendary history, which served to ornament the churches or the palaces of the clergy and the nobles, they deigned at times to wander from the heights of their solemnity, and paint profane compositions; productions of which kind met with most success in Italy, where they appear to have been exclusively desired. Frederic of Urbino, the first and only duke of that name, adorned a bath-room with them.” Ottaviano degli Ottaviani, a luxurious cardinal, likewise had some pictures of this kind, in which were women of splendid form emerging from the bath, slightly veiled to hide their sex ;-an old woman perspiring in a corner of the room, which showed that the bath was bot; a dog lapping water in a distant landscape ; and the neverfailing mirror. Other pieces of this kind were to be found in various towns of Italy at the beginning of the sixteenth century. In the gallery of Niccolo Lampognano, at Milan, was exhibited “the Patron and his Agent,” half figures ;3 and in the house of Leonico Tomeo, “filosopho," an Otter Hunt, on canvas, a picture a foot high, with various figures in a landscape. The most curious of these pictures must, however, have been that produced by John Van Eyck for Philip the Good, representing the
1 Vasari, ut sup., vol. i. p. 163. 2 Facio, ut sup., p. 46.
3 Notizie d' opere di disegno nella prima metà del secolo XVI. scritte da un Anonimo.Ed. J. Morelli. 8vo. Bassano, 1800, p. 45.
4 Anonimo di Morelli, ut sup., p. 14. If this picture was authentic, it is Van Eyck's only production on canvas.
world in its spherical shape, pointing out accurately distant sites and places.'
The unfinished altar-piece of St. Martin's cloister at Yprès is only known by an old copy of it in possession of M. Bogaert Dumortier, at Bruges. It represented, as Vaernewyk informs us, “ the Virgin and Child, before whom knelt the abbot of St. Martin's.” The wings, which were unfinished, contained the burning bush, Gideon's fleece, Ezekiel's gate, and Aaron's rod-subjects “executed apparently more by spiritual means than by men's hands.” ?
Amongst the vast number of pictures which bear the name of John Van Eyck in the catalogues of public and private collections, it is but natural that many should be falsely assigned to that painter. Those who fail to trace a master's hand upon a real picture, are more at fault in giving names to paintings of which the trace is not discoverable in history; and thus we find that, whilst John Van Eyck has been ignored in the noble altar-piece of the Santa Trinita Museum, at Madrid, his name has been attached to pieces not resembling in execution or in sentiment panels of undoubted authenticity. It may seem, indeed, a bold assertion to declare, that the Munich Galleries contain no real picture by Van Eyck; still more so to say, that panels, with the signature and date complete, are false, and only forgeries; yet such, undoubtedly, is the case in more than one instance.
In 1788 a gentleman named Busschere presented to the Bruges Academy a “ Head of Christ,” apparently
1 Facio, ut sup., p. 46. 2 Vaernewyk, ut sup., p. 133. V. Mander, p. 202.