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The greater part of Hugo's works in Belgium were destroyed in 1575 by iconoclasts. His pictures in the church of Vasselaere were burnt on the 4th of October in that year. The Story of St. Catherine, two panels, painted for the Carmelites of Ghent, have also perished. 2 David and Abigail, and the Mariabild, a memorial painting on the tomb of Wouter Gaultier, in St. James of Ghent, have disappeared ;3 but the greatest loss appears to be the Crucifixion, or Christ between the Thieves, which long adorned that edifice. It was saved from the grasp of image-burners, but fell soon after into the hands of Calvinists, who took possession of the Church, and laid the subject under a coat of colour, on which they placed the Ten Commandments. The church was afterwards restored to the Roman Catholic worship, and the picture to its original state, but it has since been lost.4
Like John Van Eyck and most of the Belgian painters, Hugo Van der Goes was often in request for compositions to be drawn on painted glass. Van Mander tells us of a window in St. James of Ghent, the design of which he made, and which seemed so talented that he doubted whether it was not by John Van Eyck. Such are the remaining traces of a clever painter, whose style and talent were more grandiose than sentimental, and whose compositions possessed more energy than grace.
1 Messager des Sciences Historiques. Gand. 8vo. 1845, pp. 117_145.
2 Vaernewyk, ut sup., p. 100. Van Mander, p. 204. 3 Ibid.
4 Van Mander, p. 204.
JUSTUS OR JODOCUS OF GHENT.
The earliest records of Justus or Jodocus of Ghent connect him with the teaching of Hubert Van Eyck. But the partial and imperfect nature of the information transmitted to us hardly justifies the conclusion, unsupported as it is by a knowledge of the early works of the painter. Serious difficulties, in truth, beset us in the endeavour to give a connected narrative of his life and labours. Through the whole period of his youth,—during the time of his tuition under Hubert Van Eyck,—and for twenty-five years subsequent to the death of that master,—we are unable to trace the name of Justus, except as the author of a lost picture of the Decollation of St. John the Baptist.1
But our difficulty ends not here. In 1451, one Justus d'Allamagna lived and laboured in the Dominican convent of Santa Maria di Castello, at Genoa, painting in its cloisters the Annunciation of the Virgin on the wall. Was
1 “En Jodocus van Gent, discipel van Hubertus van Eyck, een tafereel verbeeldende St. Jans Onthoofdinge.” Extract from Mr. Delbecq's manuscript, ut sup.— Passavant, Kunstreise, p. 381. De Bast, Mess. des Sci. et des Arts. de Belgique, 1824, p. 132. “Furono similmente de primi... maestro Martino e Giusto da Guanto, che fece la tavola della communione del Duca d'Urbino ed altre pitture.” - Vasari, ut sup. vol. i. Introd., c. vii. p. 163. “ Jodocus Gandavensis, pict. nobilissimus, Huberti Eyck discipulus.”—Sanderus, ut sup., De Gand. Erud. Clar., lib. ii. fol. 79.
this Justus d’Allamagna the same artist who, during his stay in Flanders, produced the picture of St. John the Baptist? or was he an artist of the same name, coming to Italy, and settling at Genoa for the rest of his days ? We are inclined to the latter supposition ; although history is silent on this important point. We cannot, it is true, infer from the signature of the picture of Santa Maria di Castello, that the painter was more a German than a Fleming ; because the inscription
adds nothing to the argument, as the Netherlands and parts of the Rhine country were called Alemania by the geographers of this period ; but the information withheld from us by history is of less moment, if from the examination of the picture itself we can come to a conclusion as to the country in which the painter was educated.
The Annunciation of Justus d’Allamagna, in Santa Maria di Castello, deserves a minute and careful description, not only because of its importance as the work of a Flemish or German artist in Italy, but because it is one of the few remaining examples of a tempera' picture on the wall. Painted on the side of the cloisters in which
1 The whole work is 13 palms, about 9 ft. 9 in. square, including the arch which contains the representation of the Eternal. The Annunciation, taken alone, is 9 ft. 9 in. by 7 ft. 6 in. The whole picture is entirely under glass, for its better preservation ; portions of it, such as the gold work of the dresses of the two principal figures, being partially effaced, and the blue of the Virgin's dress darkened by age. The landscapes also have become slightly indistinct.