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described; whilst others look up with eagerness, joy, or veneration, at another group which crowns the upper portion of the picture, and represents the Virgin holding the Infant, affectionately receiving a book from the hands of an aged man, and the Eternal, with orb in hand and the papal crown, looking on with great solemnity.
The characteristic feature of this picture is the patience and care with which it has been executed, recalling to mind the habits of a miniature painter accustomed to lavish his efforts on the representation of arabesques and ornaments. We might point to several miniatures in this country in this sentiment; such, for instance, as that of the “Baptism of Christ," belonging to Mr. Farrer, and the numerous pages of Mr. Weld Blundell's Missal at Ince. The pictures which it most resembles are the “ Baptism of Christ” at Bruges, and the “Virgin and Child” with patrons and saints, at the Town-hall of Rouen. Of these, we have had to remark that they were tasteless, and faulty in many parts of design—the figures being frequently stout, short, and inelegant, and executed without anatomical knowledge; that the limbs of the figures, as well as the hands, were defective, being hard, or feeble of outline ; that the draperies were crude and angular, and the colour of the whole laid on with much impasto, and a considerable flow of vehicle. We added, that whilst some portions of the execution betrayed a student of Memling, others were marked by the influence of Van Eyck or Van der Weyden. We find the same characteristics here. The Virgin, seated near Jesse, has the type common to Van der Weyden—the small chin and neck, and falling shoulders, of that master; the naked Infant, the form usual in Memling. Whilst these are the features of the lower group, others are remarkable in the upper. The Infant Christ there has the square trunk of Van Eyck’s representations. The figure of the Eternal, the finest in the panel, recals to mind that of God the Father by Memling, in the shrine of St. Ursula ; and one of the saints in the roses, who is recognised by the chalice to be St. John the Evangelist, resembles the Saviour in the “Baptism of Bruges.” In all its characteristics, however, the picture approaches most to that of the “Rouen votive altar-piece.” It has the feebleness of design of which we have spoken,—visible particularly in the short stature and poverty of form of Aaron, and in the faulty attitude of the body and legs of David, in the patient elaboration of the execution, and the want of vigour in the outlines—the knotted and large development of the digital joints, and the angularity of the draperies, and the profusion of their folds, without reference to the form they cover -- the profusion of vehicle employed in the colours, and the vitreous aspect there given to them.
It must be admitted, however, that the general aspect of the picture, unfavourable as it is by its arabesque arrangement to any development of composition, offers a fair arrangement in the disposal of the attitudes, so as to avoid monotony, and a good balance of harmonies, chiefly in the secondary and tertiary keys,—each figure being properly detached by the flowers forming the complement of the colours in the vestments. The flesh-tints are somewhat flat and unrelieved, of a pale, cold tint, falling to a rosy hue in the feeble shadows, as we see in
miniatures. As regards the painters whose names might be suggested by this panel, we had occasion already to express our inability to mention one with certainty, when speaking of the “Baptism” at Bruges, and Rouen altarpiece. Gerard Horenbaut, who lived in the latter part of the fifteenth and commencement of the sixteenth centuries, and Lievin de Witte, are the only two artists whose known connexion with miniatures* would place
* Gerard Horenbaut's birth has been hitherto placed too late in the fifteenth century; namely in 1498 (vide “Messager des Sciences et des Arts de Belgique,” vol. i. Ghent, 1833, p. 16). Albert Dürer's Relics (Campe) correct this error; that painter stating in his diary that Gerard,who lived at Antwerp in 1521, had then a daughter named Susanna, aged eighteen, whose precocious talent he admired. Gerard Horenbaut must have been at the age of manhood in 1498. This is an additional fact in support of our argument (vide supra, p. 126), to the effect that Horenbaut, and not Wan der Meire, painted miniatures in the Breviary of St. Mark. It may not be amiss, also, to correct an error, somewhat common at the present time, respecting the name of the person who presented this Breviary to Cardinal Grimani. The “Anonimo di Morelli” states (p. 77), that this Breviary was sold to Cardinal Grimani for 500 ducats, by Messer Antonio Siciliano. It has been inferred from this, that the person alluded to by the Anonimo was Antonello da Messina, the painter whose life and works are treated of in the present volume. Morelli, in one of his notes to the Anonimo (note 100, p. 189), speaking of Antonello da Messina with reference to the portraits of Alvise Pasqualino and Michel Wianello, says, that the presence of Antonello da Messina in Venice, in 1475, is proved by a letter written from Matteo Colaccio Siciliano to Antonio Siciliano, “Rector of the artists” in Padua, and published in his work, “De Fine Oratoris,” in 1486. In this letter, Colaccio mentions Antonello da Messina as follows: —“Habet vero haec aetas Antonellum Siculum, cujus pictura Venetiis in Divi Cassiani aede magnæ est admirationi.” Antonio Siciliano, to whom this letter is addressed, was one of the family of the Adinolfi, and a native of Catania; and is, therefore, a different person from Antonello da Messina. It is curious to note that the Anonimo (p. 81) speaks of the portrait of Antonio Siciliano painted by a Flemish artist.
them in the position of executing such a picture as this ; but too much obscurity hangs over them, and other painters of that time, to justify any certain attribution.
A mural painting of the Root of Jesse is to be seen at Utrecht, in one of the aisles of the Buurkerk, executed by a painter of the middle of the fifteenth century.
Since the impression of the preceding pages, the following pictures have been changed in their numbers and positions :
MEMLING (p. 266).—Picture at Hampton Court, changed from No. 299 to No. 305, and no longer attributed to Sir A. More, but more properly classified under the title of “School of Van Eyck."
The Gallery of the late Samuel Rogers having been sold on the 28th of April, and succeeding days, the following pictures, mentioned in the body of this work, have changed hands :
VIRGIN AND CHILD, assigned to John Van Eyck (p. 282). Sold to Mr. Thomas Baring for 2671.
PORTRAIT, assigned to Memling, but more probably by Dierick Stuerbout (pp. 190, 240, 253, 295). Bought by Mr. Pierce for 901. 68.
MEMLING.— Wings of an altar-piece (p. 265). Sold to Mr. Vernon Smith for 1781. 10s.
IMITATOR OF MEMLING.—Two small heads (p. 282). Bought by Mr. Herz, and since sent to France. Sold for 231. 10s.