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It has been said that Margaret Van Eyck was more likely to have devoted herself to miniatures than oilpaintings. It has been remarked also, that the name of the sister of the Wan Eycks was not found attached to any pictures; but it will, we hope, not be considered presumptuous to mention certain miniatures which bear the impress of the manner of the Wan Eycks, and which may be due to the pencil of their sister. The Missal of the Duke of Bedford, at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, is the work we refer to." The miniatures which it contains have not only the character of works by the Van Eycks, but resemble some of their pictures. The largest and finest of them cover the whole page of the Missal; and in these such a resemblance is discoverable, as might almost cause us to assign them to John; but the merit is not great in all, some lacking character, whilst others lack vigour of colour. Some are executed in a cold and monotonous tone, and differ from the rest in the manner of depicting drapery, the vestments flowing in the first, and angular in the last. The smallest miniatures, which are the capitals, are inferior to the rest, and were painted also by various hands. It may not be far wrong to suppose that the best of these miniatures are by Margaret Wan Eyck, painting under the direction of her brother. A small number of pictures are attributed to Margaret Van Eyck, which, albeit inferior to those of her brother, yet have some likeness of style to them. The principal merit of these pictures consists in the accurate and diligent care with which they are laboured. They are remarkable for coldness of tone, and want of power in
* Breviarium Sarisberiens, No. 273, MSS.
the execution. They lack character, vigour, and expression; wants which are more likely to be found in a miniature painter of that time than in any other artist. An example of our meaning may be found in the Wallerstein Collection at Kensington Palace, in a picture attributed to Margaret Van Eyck, representing the Virgin and Child.1
1 Wallerstein Collection, Kensington Palace, No. 54. On wood, 8 inches by 6 inches, Engl.
PUPILS OF HUBERT AND JOHN VAN EYCK.--PETRUS CRISTUS
AND VAN DER MEIRE.
WHEN Hubert and John Van Eyck took up their residence at Bruges and Ghent, they found their art established in those cities under rules and regulations common to other guilds. Young aspirants to celebrity were bound apprentices in this as in every other trade; and thus the painter's sanctuaries, as we may call them, were shrouded from public view with the same success as those of architects or glass painters. Artists thus preserved amongst themselves the knowledge of improvements, which became the envy of foreign craftsmen, whilst the secrets of manipulation were committed to those alone who had an interest in keeping them.
It was by this means alone, and not by affectations of concealment, that these secrets were preserved. They justify Vasari, who remarked that Giovanni Van Eyck divulged them only, in old age;' and Van Mander, who asserted that the secret of oil-painting was preserved from Italian painters till Antonello came to Bruges.2 It is true, however, that Van der Weyden first brought to central Italy the secrets of oil-painting, and communicated them to artists when Antonello is said to have returned to Venice. In the meanwhile, a number of apprentices and pupils had spread the teaching of the Flemish masters throughout the Netherlands.
1 Vasari, ut sup., vol. i. p. 163. ? Van Mander, p. 202.
Petrus Cristus, or Christophsen, the first of these, was born about 1393, and is called by the Italians Pietro Christa. He was the first to follow John Van Eyck in the practice of oil-painting, and received, no doubt, the lessons of the elder brother also, whose style he followed much more faithfully than that of John. He painted, in 1417, a Madonna and Child, which for grace may rival John, and for power Hubert, remarkable for being the oldest picture of the school, and executed previously to any of the authentic works of Hubert or of John.
From Bruges he went to Cologne, the seat of a noble school of art, degenerating into prettiness, which changed his manner. Some traces of his stay there, in 1438, are still preserved. He soon returned to Flanders, however, where he seems to have resided alternately at Bruges and Antwerp. In 1450 he was member of the painter's brotherhood of St. Luke, at Bruges ;and in 1451 'he painted the well-known altar-piece of Mr. Oppenheim's Collection at Cologne, for the Antwerp guild of goldsmiths. He then obtained the patronage of the Count d'Etampes, who gave him a commission for some works at Cambrai. A supernatural degree of sanctity was then attached to pictures of the Virgin, said to be produced by one of the apostles. A picture of this kind was brought from Rome to Cambrai in 1451, and Cristus was chosen to make copies of it. He produced three; and one of them is still preserved in the hospital of Cambrai.
1 Guicciardini calls him Pierre Creste. Guicciardini trad. Pierre Dumont, Descr. de tous les pays Bas. 8vo. Amst. 1641. From the original published in 1566, p. 124.
. He is there called Pierre Cristus. A painter of the same name, Bart. Cristus, appears on the register for the years 1470–80.
The original is even now considered to possess peculiar sanctity, and is carried in procession every year with much parade and ceremony." Cristus returned a few years after to Cologne, and by degrees fell into exaggerated imitation of the Rhenish manner. His name appears in the chronicle of Michael Mörkens, who mentions an altar-piece in a chapel called the Holy Angels, belonging to the convent of Carthusians in that city, which was finished by a painter named Christophorus in 1471. Cristus and Christophorus may be the same artist, but proof is difficult, because the picture thus described is lost.” The first production from the pencil of Cristus is the finest extant, the last which he composed, the feeblest. Retrograding with the painters of Cologne, he became weaker as he advanced in years. A pupil of Hubert Wan Eyck, he had some features peculiar to John. He was, however, inferior to the elder in colour and design, and feebler than the younger in sentiment and spirit. He used his colours freely, but of a sombre and untransparent hue. When in his later years his manner changed under the influence of the school of Cologne, he chose to imitate the least agreeable features in the pictures of the master of the Dom, preferring them to the works of
* Actes Capitul. de Cambrai, ap. De Laborde, ut sup., vol. i. Introd. p. cxxvi. “Concluserunt domini imaginem bě. Wgs. que legavit Mgr. Fursens du Bruille, archid. Valenchem ponenda esse in capella Sté. trinitat.” (Sitting of August 13, 1451.)
2 “Ad requisitionem illustris diu comitis de Stampis, Petrus Cristus, pictor incola Brugen. Tornacen. Dioc. depixit tres imagines ad similitudinem illius imaginis bao. Mar et Sanctæ Virg. quae in cappella est trinitat. collocata.” (Sitting of April 24, 1454.)