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Eyck," says the accountant, * though by certain orders, sealed in 1426, the wages and the pensions of the servants of my lord have been revoked, and it is not my lord's intention that his ordonnance should touch the wages of his painter, it is ordered and decreed there shall be given customary payment of his pension."
The Duke was also in the habit of visiting the painter's workshop, where his coming was considered as a welcome honour. Having his father's and grandfather's love of show, he was known on these occasions to shower on Van Eyck's apprentices all the silver which his purse contained.* Nor was his hand less ready in the case of John himself, who frequently received, besides his pay, the gift of sums of money.*
le premier jour de Janvier Mil CCCC vint six, toute fuoys son entension n'est pas que esdites ordonnances soit comprinse la pension que prenoit de lui son dit peintre, mais au regard de ce, veult et ordonne que les paiemens de la dite pension, d'aller en avant tant comme il lui plaira, soit entretenu. En mandant à son dit receveur, que icelle pension il paie aux termes accoutumés qui sont moittié à la Saint Jehan, et l'autre moittié au Noel comme il appert par ses lettres patentes sur ce scellées et données en sa ville de Bruges le IIIe jour de Mars mil CCCCXXVII servant tant pour le dit peintre comme pour la pension de la demoiselle de Berkin cy après. Pour ce p. vertu d'icelles lettres cy rendu avec quittance dudit J. de Heick, p. sadite pension et les termes de la St. Jehan et Noel 1427 la dite some de C liv. Compte de G. Poulain Janv. 1426 à Dec. 1427." —De Laborde, Les Ducs de B., vol. i. pp. 246, 247. * " Aux varlets de Johannes Deyk paintre aussi pour don par M.S. à iceulx fait quant M.D.S. a esté en son hostel veoir certain ouvraige fait par le dit Johannes XXV sols.—Compte de Jehan Abonnel, Jan. 1432, à Dec. 1433."—De Laborde, Les Ducs de B. ut sup., vol. i. p. 266. * " A Johannes de Heecht peintre de M.D.S. que iceluy seigneur a donné pour considéracion des bons et agréables services qu'il lui a faictz de son mestier et autrement comme appert par sa quittance .. .. XX l.—Compte de Guy Guilbaut, 1426-27."-De Laborde, Les Ducs de B. ut sup., vol. ii. p. 390. * A
The treasurers of Philip seem to have been slow, however, in conforming to his orders in the payments which he periodically authorized his painter to receive. On two several occasions he has to reprimand them for neglect;-“the retention of his pension being likely to expel the painter from his service, which would cause him (the Duke) much displeasure.” In 1434, he thus formally expresses himself at Dijon.
“To my well beloved and faultz, the people of our accounts at Lille, by order of the Duke of Brabant and Limburg, Count of Flanders, of Artois, and Burgundy, of Haynau, of Holland, of Zellande, and Namur.
“Trusty and well beloved, we have heard that you make difficulties in verifying certain of our letters of pension for life, by us owing and ordered to our well beloved varlet de chambre and painter Jehan Wan Eyck, for which reason he cannot be paid the said pension, and it will be necessary for him to abandon our service, whereat we should have great displeasure, for we desire to entertain him for certain great works in which we shall occupy him hereafter, and we should not find his equal at our will, nor so excellent in his art and science. And for this we will, and we expressly command you that, incontinently on the sight of these, you do verify and confirm the said letters of pension, and cause to be paid the said
“A Jehannes Eykvarlet de chambre et paintre de M.D.S. queicellui seigneur lui a donné tant pour considération des bons et agreábles services qu'il lui a faitz, tant en fait de son dit office, comme autrement, et pour le aidier et soustenir et à avoir ses nécessitez afin plus honorablement ille peusz servir comme appert par sa quittance, 9. 1.-Meme compte.”—De Lab., Les Ducs de B. u sup, vol. ii. p. 392. Jehan Wan Eyck the said pension, according * the contents of the said letters, without any further speech or argument, without delay, cunctation, variation, or difficulty whatever, from fear of disobeying or angering, and so act this once for all that it shall not be necessary for us to write again upon this matter, as we should take it much in displeasure. Trusty and well beloved, may the Holy Spirit hold you in its holy keeping.
“Written in our city of Dijon, the 13th day of March, 1434.
“Countersigned, RouessEAU.” "
No further difficulty appears to have been felt by John in obtaining from the treasurers the usual payment of his salary. On his return from Lisbon, John Wan Eyck took up his final residence in Bruges, having purchased from the chapter of St. Donat, a house upon the Torrenbrugsken, or Tower-bridge, where he lived until his death.” That of Hubert interrupted the progress of the altarpiece in the chapel of St. Bavon. But Jodocus Wydts losing him, gave the commission to John. Much controversy has taken place as to the share of Hubert in this vast undertaking, and that of John after Hubert's death. The oldest writers seek to claim for John Van Eyck a greater fame and talent than that of Hubert; and pos* De Laborde, Les Ducs de Bourg., ut sup., vol. i. Introd. p. liii. * “Purchased in 1430 of Jan Wan Milanen.”—Account books of the chapter of St. Donat. “Receptum anno 1440 in certis redditibus novi libri infra villam in officii Sancti Nicolai. Johannes Van
Eyck XXX sol. par.”—C. Carton. Ann. de la Soci. d’Emulation de Bruges, tom v. sec. 2, No. 34, p. 271.
sibly the name he made by his improvements—a name which spread not merely throughout Belgium, but throughout Italy and Germany—contributed to cast the greater genius of his brother in the shade. Wan Mander seems to have been blinded in this way, and does not hesitate to contradict a general tradition for the purpose of swelling the triumph of his favourite. Accordingly he says, of the great altar-piece of the Mystic Lamb, “Some people say that Hubert began this work, which was only finished by his brother John ; I hold that they both began it.” Tradition here was right, and Van Mander wrong; for a signature, which long remained concealed beneath a coat of colour, has been since recovered, and proves that Hubert did commence the picture which was finished by his brother.” The altar-piece was certainly less than half completed when Hubert died. The Mystic Lamb, however, appears to have been long on hand, and to have been painted at considerable leisure in the town of Bruges.” It would otherwise be difficult to understand why the picture was so long unfinished. Portions of it were, doubtless, completed previous to the Lisbon journey, and the rest after the return. Two or three among the number appear to be of a warmer colour, and filled with more swarthy figures; whilst distances * Wan Mander, p. 200. * Were this testimony wanting, we have that of Waernewyk, who, in his Historie v. Belgis, remarks, “Hubert Van Eyck was also a remarkable painter, who first began the picture in St. John's church.”—Hist. v. Belgis, ut sup., p. 109. . * We have no means of ascertaining whether John went to Ghent after the death of his brother. We know, however, that he lived
continuously at Bruges, where the panels were perhaps painted, and then carried to their resting-place in the chapel of Jodocus Wydts,
reveal the orange and the palm, faithfully and elegantly copied from nature. Landscapes, it is true, were always a feature in the productions of John Van Eyck, and they have been admired at all times for their faithfulness to nature and their aërial perspective. This last quality, depending more on the innate sentiment and perception of colour than the observance of mathematical rules, certainly forms one of the charms of John Van Eyck’s pictures. But great as are these charms, they do not entitle the possessor to the name of inventor of perspective. That Van Eyck did not possess completely the rules of linear perspective, is evident from the examination of his human figures, which are remarkable for vivid colouring rather than for the perfect comprehension of the rules of light and shade, which produce relief or rotundity. These rules were better known and practised by Paolo Uccello, who produced by lines the effects which Van Eyck obtained by colour. The former went so far as to foreshorten figures by the rules of perspective ;' the
1 An example of the progress which perspective had made in Italy, during the lifetime of John Van Eyck, is the interesting book of drawings of Jacopo Bellini, the father of Gentile and Giovanni Bellini, now in the British Museum. It is of this work that Mr. Von Rumohr says, in a letter annexed to the volume, “that Jacopo notably promoted perspective, being among the first of those who sought to carry out the system in naked figures.” Jacopo Bellini, we need scarcely remark, was a contemporary of John Van Eyck.
2 Vasari admired, amongst other things remarkable for their perspective in Uccello's pictures of Santa Maria Novella, at Florence, a figure of the Eternal, which he describes in these words : “ This figure,” he says, " is the most difficult of any that Paolo Uccello executed, because it is represented flying towards the wall, and with the head foreshortened, and has such vigour that the figure by its relief presses through and divides it.”