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for it is light and opaque with shadows and mezzotints of blue and grey, and no vigour of chiaro-’scuro. The costumes are those of the fifteenth century, it is true, but singularly angular, minute, and ungraceful in the fold. The general character of the forms is length and rigidity, coupled with meagreness—faults which are but too conspicuous in the body and limbs of the crucified Saviour. The signature, “ Ger. Van der Meeren,” on these panels, is modern, and apparently added by a restorer of the name of S. Lorent, who notes the period of his labours as 1824.
We have seen a picture in the gallery of Mr. Krüger, at Minden, representing a Carmelite monk, supported by a mitred figure bearing a crozier, which is attributed to Van der Meire. We believe this picture not to have been painted in the manner of the Van Eycks, but in the old method of tempera and oil mixed, which is to be found in the pictures of Broederlain and others of his time. The face of the Carmelite kneeling is soft, and may very properly be marked amongst the happiest efforts of a master, whose rich ornamentations, common to the artists of this school, are worthy of much notice,—the more so as the picture is extremely well preserved.
An altar-piece at Bruges, in the church of St. Sauveur, bearing the spurious inscription, “ Meeren, 1500," is in a wretched condition, the painting dropping off in sundry places. The subjects are the Crucifixion, Christ carrying the Cross, and the Descent from the Cross; but their design, sentiment, and colour are inferior to those of the altar-piece at Ghent, and their tone paler and colder.
1 No. 264, Nat. Gal. Cat. Wood, 2f. 41 in. by 9 inches.
The galleries of Antwerp and Berlin contain several panels, of which the style and manner are not dissimilar from those of the altar-piece of Bruges. On a tryptic which represents the Carrying of the Cross, the Presentation in the Temple, and Christ among the Doctors, are the Gothic initials D. B. A. S.,' which are not indicative of any name in history. This tryptic, together with a dyptic representing the Mater Dolorosa and the Donor, and two pictures severally containing Christ on the Cross,3 and Christ in the Tomb," are from the church of Hoogstraaten, and bear no marks of being authentic works of Van der Meire.
The two panels in the Berlin Museum, attributed to Gerard Van der Meire, are an unpleasant Adoration of the Magi, not unlike the pictures of the Antwerp Gallery ;5 and a Virgin with the Donor; an Abbot, of which the style is more pleasing, and marked by profuse and finished ornaments.
An Annunciation, attributed to a scholar of Van Eyck, in the Madrid Museum, partakes of these characteristics."
A celebrated Breviary in the library of St. Mark, Venice, once the property of Cardinal Grimani, contains miniatures assigned to Memling, Gerard of Ghent, Lieven de Witte, and other painters. Gerard of Ghent is said to have
executed no less than 125 of these miniatures;and some writers assume that he is identical with Gerard Van der Meire. We doubt whether Van der Meire, the pupil of Hubert Van Eyck, could paint in conjunction with, or in continuation of, Memling. But there were other Gerards natives of Ghent besides him. Horenbaut of that name, whose style is much in the formal and finished one of the early miniaturists, is more likely to be the painter alluded to;' and in this we are the more confirmed by finding, on examination of the miniatures themselves, that those which are not by Memling are of a more modern hand than his. Horenbaut is well known to have lived as late as the year 1533, and is therefore more likely to have been the painter than Gerard Van der Meire. Lievin de Witte, who laboured in the pages of the Breviary, is also undoubtedly an artist of the sixteenth century; and we therefore have no hesitation in rejecting these miniatures as works of Van der Meire.
1 Anonimo di Morelli, ut sup., p. 78.
Horenbaut painted long at Ghent; amongst others for Lievin Hughenoie, abbot of St. Bavon, a great patron of artists.
HUGO VAN DER GO E S.
OLIVIER DE LA MARCHE, in his Memoirs, gives a detailed account of the wedding of Margaret of York and Charles of Burgundy in 1468; saying not only that the ingenuity of mechanics was exhausted in inventing mysteries for the pleasure and amusement of the assembled guests, but that the streets and houses of Bruges, as well as the Palace of the Prince, were adorned with pictures, stretched on frames, painted by the skilful artists of the Belgian cities. Gay festivities, eating, drinking, jousts, and spouting, are the staple of the story told by De la Marche; and he enthusiastically admires everything except that for which we feel a special interest, omitting to name the pictures that gave a transient splendour to the scene. The story of the wedding, and the progress of the new princess from Damme to Bruges, scarcely need repeating here; but a single point regarding it deserves attention. Amongst the rich and noted persons who accompanied Charles were the burgesses and merchants of the city, the various guilds of trade, and merchants of the foreign companies, the wealthiest of whom was Thomaso Portinari, agent of the Medici at Bruges, who rode in the procession at the head of the company of Florentines,
Memoires de la Marche, 8vo. Ghent, 1566, p. 524.
attired in the dress of counsellor of the Duke in virtue of his place. “ The agents of the Medici,” says Comines, “have always had such credit under cover of their name, that it would be marvellous could we believe all that I have heard and seen respecting them. One whose name is Thomas Portunary, I have known to stand as pledge between King Edward and Duke Charles of Burgundy for 50,000 pieces (escus) on one occasion, and 80,000 on another.”? Folco Portinari, father of the Beatrice whose youthful beauty won the heart of Dante, was the founder of Santa Maria Nuova, in Florence, in 1285. He was buried there in 1289, and left to his family the patronage of that foundation. Thomaso Portinari, the direct descendant of this Folco, is known in fine art history as the patron of Hugo Van der Goes. T'he wealthy families of Bruges, and the Flemings generally—unable, as we have seen, to adorn their mansions or the chapels which they founded with frescoes, on account of the dampness of the air, and, perhaps, as in the case of Venice, the vicinity of the sea-preferred distemper can- . vases, which took the place of fresco. Of this kind chiefly were the early productions of Hugo. Van der Goes. Vaernewyk describes the churches and the palaces of Bruges as being full of Hugo's pictures in this style ;3 and we are told that he produced many for great occasions, such as the installation of Duke Charles, at Ghent, in 1467,4 and the wedding of Margaret of York. On
1 Mémoires de Comines. 2 Reumont, Kunstblatt, No. 40, 1841. 3 Vaernewyk, ut sup., p. 133. 4 Messager des Sciences et des Arts, ut sup., 1826, p. 128.
5 Appendix to Reiffenberg's edition of Barante's Hist. de Bourgogne. Comptes de Fastré Hollet.