Page images
PDF
EPUB

fifteenth century, was one Corrado d'Alemania, who lived and laboured at Taggia in 1477. Spotorno supposes, not improbably, that Corrado came to Italy with Justus d'Allamagna, and held a subordinate position in the workshop of that artist, as Memling did in that of Van der Weyden. It was in Taggia that Padre Dom”. E. Maccari and Lodovico Brea, of Nice, also flourished; and Spotorno conceived it not improbable that these men, who exhibited Flemish tendencies in their works, might be pupils of Corrado d'Alemania ; doing so from some resemblance discoverable between the works of these masters. The only picture remaining of Maccari is at Taggia; and of Brea the first known work is as late as 1480. The foreign character of Brea's pictures was noticed by all who saw them. His composition, the attitude of his figures, the hardness of his design and the angular nature of his draperies, his partiality to ornamentation, proclaimed a painter influenced by the Flemings. It is possible that these characteristic features of his style may have been obtained from Corrado, who painted at Taggia in 1477, and Justus d’Allamagna, who painted at Genoa in 1451.

Baldinucci and Lanzi, who notice Brea's foreign style, say that he founded the Genoese school; but Spotorno,

who searched the records of Genoa, discovered the names

of twenty-six painters previous to Brea on the chrono

logical register of the old painters of that city; one,

Oberto, having professed the art as far back as 1368.

The influence of the Flemings at Genoa did not last.

It ceased after Maccari and Brea; and Semino and Piaggio, pupils of the latter, abandoned his manner after

they had seen the pictures of Carlo di Mantegna and Pier Francesco Sacco. 1

No such doubts as those which arise respecting the connexion of the picture at Genoa with Justus of Ghent beset us in considering an altar-piece in Santa Agatha, at Urbino, executed in 1468-74. It was painted by Giusto da Guanto, for the brotherhood of Corpus Christi, and paid for by a charitable subscription raised for the purpose ; Federico di Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, contributing his share in the good work. The registers of accounts preserved in the convent furnish full and interesting details of the manner in which the subscription was raised, and the money spent in the production of the altar-piece. One Giovanni da Luca, or Zaccagna, is described as contributing 33 florins and 22 bolognini ; Gostino Santucci, three sums of divers amounts; the Duke of Urbino, 15 florins of gold. The remaining sums are not specified; but the expenses of the altarpiece are distinctly stated ; 300 florins being paid for its production, and 40 florins 33; bolognini for the gold leaf of the background.?

See Padre Spotorno (G. B.), Storia Letteraria della Liguria, 8vo. Genova, 1824-6.

2“1465. Marzo 31. Giovanni da Luca, altram. Zaccagna, deve dare fiorini 33 e bol. 22. della promessa che fece per la tavola.”

“1468. Tre partite pagate per l'elemosyna promessa per la tavola a conto di Battista (di Maestro Gostino Santucci Medico).”

“1474. Marzo 7. Fiorini 15 d'oro dati dal Conte Federico per aiuto della spesa della tavola a Guido Mengaccio per la fraternita.”

“1474. Ottobre 25. Fiorini 40 e bologn. 331, spesi in pezzi 4,700 d'oro battuto per la tavola."

“Adi do Fiorini 300 . . A Mstro Giusto da Guanto depintore

The Duke of Urbino appears to have taken a special interest in the production of this altar-piece, as it was intended to illustrate a curious incident in the late years of his reign. Ussum Cassan, Shah of Persia, being desirous of assistance in a war he was waging against the Turks, sent to Italy to raise funds and troops amongst the people of those States. Caterino Zeno, an agent of Venice in the East, was entrusted with this mission, and came to Urbino to solicit the aid of the Duke di Montefeltro in 1471, when Justus of Ghent was commissioned to execute the altar-piece of the Corpus Domini. Federico did honour to the ambassador by causing him to be painted by Justus in company of himself, as spectator of the Lord's Supper." In 1474 the picture was completed, after which we have but one further record of the stay of Justus at Urbino ; and that is an entry in the registers of the brotherhood of Corpus Christi, respecting a piece of canvas purchased for a banner to be painted by the artist.” per fiorini 250 d'oro a lui promessi per sua fatica per depingere la tavola della fraternita.” “Adi d" Fiorini 250 d'oro. Li d. sono per tantiche Guido di Mengaccio ha dato contanti a Maestro Giusto da Guanto depintore per la promessa gli fé fatta per dipingere la tavola. Avemone el queto per mano di Ser Francesco di Pietro da Spelle, et anche e accesa la scripta tra noi e Mtro Giusto, et é in mano di Giovanni di Luca perchè non fece il dovere, e danoi fu intieramente pagato a conto di Guido in questo a carte 73, Lire 600.”—Pungileoni (L.), Elogio Storico di Giovanni Santi, 8vo, Urbino, 1822, p. 66. * Don Andrea Lazari, arciprete, “Compendio Storico Delle Chiese e delle pitture esistenti in esse,” Urbino, 1801. Pungileoni, ut sup., p. 46. * “1475. Giugno . . . . E piá tela a Metro Giusto depintore

che diceva voler fare un insegna bella per la fraternita.”—Pungileoni, ut sup., p. 66.

The Last Supper of Santa Agatha having been removed from its original position, and suspended high up above a large picture on the great altar of the church, is not in such a satisfactory state of preservation as to enable us to form a perfect judgment of its merits; nor are criticism and examination satisfactory when a picture is seen at such a distance as this, notwithstanding the size of the whole—about 10 feet square—and the stature of the figures about half the size of nature. The Saviour, clothed in long rich vestments, is represented at a table, leaning forward and breaking bread with his disciples, who kneel around him in a large edifice not unlike a church. St. John is absent from the feast, carrying the wine. Judas alone looks round to avoid the glance of the Saviour, and two winged angels, in long white dresses, float in the upper space. Federico, on the right of the picture, accompanied by two of his suite—one of them supposed to be the portrait of the painter—seems to , converse with the bearded and turbaned figure of Zeno, enforcing his words by touching the ambassador on the left arm. A woman and child are spectators of the scene, from an opening in the distance. The old frame of the altar-piece, said to have contained representations of the miracles, no longer encloses the picture." The few observations that we feel justified in making respecting this masterpiece, the only known and authentic one of Justus of Ghent, are these : that the painter was one of those who upheld the fame of Flemish art with no less power than Wan der Goes, imprinting on his works many of the characteristic features of that great

[merged small][ocr errors]

artist. Of fair attainments in the art of composition, he exhibited the quality of good arrangement, without surpassing in this other masters of the school. His figures of Apostles, whilst they were natural and true in attitude and features, were, perhaps, more than usually exempt from the charge of vulgarity. Of the Saviour less should be said in praise, because the face lacks holiness; and the attitude, rigidly and stiffly presented, is deprived of grace by an over-abundance of drapery in the somewhat angular character of fold peculiar to the Flemings. Freed from the care which weighed upon him in representing the sacred character, Justus, like his contemporaries, painted with nature and effect the portraits of Federico and his company, which are faithful delineations from nature, less hard and dry than we are accustomed to find even amongst Flemish painters of the schools. He drew the hands and feet of his figures with delicate accuracy, and of fair. proportions; and thus gave to his picture, as a whole, an aspect of great completeness.

With regard to the general system of colour pursued by Justus of Ghent-in so far, at least, as the unsatisfactory state of preservation in which the picture remains will allow-we are inclined to believe him as vigorous in general intonation as Van der Goes, but browner and more transparent in his shadows than that master. In comparison with Petrus Cristus, he was free from the fault of sombreness, and a reddish tinge overspreads his flesh tints.

The presence of Justus of Ghent at Urbino, his stay there for a period of years, and the patronage which he seems to have received from a powerful religious body like the brotherhood of Corpus Christi, and a talented

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »