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the Dominicans spend their leisure hours, it stands in a brilliant light thrown upon it from an opposite window looking upon the sea. The sacred scene, thrown into three irregular spaces, formed by two slight colonnets, is laid within an apartment seen through a highly ornamented Gothic arch, with an opening in which the figure of God the Father is placed. The Virgin, standing on the right in a pensive attitude, seems to listen. Her head, leaning gracefully towards the angel, is covered with a transparent veil, through which her golden hair shines brightly. A beautiful blue tunic gracefully falling from the head to the shoulders, and surrounded by a nimbus, is fastened below the neck, and opens out to show the hands delicately crossed at the bosom. Then forming full and sweeping folds, it fills the foreground, and impinges on the central space. The inner dress, seen beneath the mantle fringed with golden embroidered letters, is of rich gold stuff. A painted receptacle of stone covered with a red cloth stands at the Virgin's side, and is filled with books. An arch of stones, alternately coloured black and white, opens behind, and golden rays fall upon the figure from the glory that surrounds the Eternal.
The announcing angel, dressed in a gorgeous golden tabard, with broad edges, containing figures of the Apostles, occupies the central and left portion of the picture, and, kneeling at some distance back, holds out one hand, and grasps a delicate mace in the other. The inner dress of white falls in folds on a chequered brown and white floor, leaving bare the naked feet. In a recess stands a basin, above which hangs an ewer. A bird dips
its beak into the water, and a lily in a vase stands on the window-sill. Three open arches permit the distant landscape to appear,—the eye wandering over distant hills, where faint traces of episodes in sacred history may yet be seen. Similar characteristic particularities may be noticed in a landscape opening behind a window on the left. A bright orange-tree impedes a portion of the view ; and on the frame of a high window is a small square card, on which the painter inscribed his name.
The Eternal, looking down from the midst of the carved and fretted work that surrounds him, has the benignant aspect of age-silvery hair and beard. The colonnets which divide the picture are canopied in stone, and form niches on each side of the Eternal, in which are small and expressive figures of saints.
Numerous considerations proceeding from the analysis of this composition lead us to the belief that Justus d'Allamagna was not taught under the particular discipline of Hubert, nor even under that of his brother John Van Eyck. The aspect of the work, it is true, is that of a painting of Flemish character, but with an admixture of peculiarities marking the school of Cologne. The elements of comparison between the great Flemish pictures, executed in oil, and this produced à tempera on the wall, are wanting here, and prevent us from entering into. the discussion of the question of colour ; because tempera does not possess the vigour of tone, choice, and power of contrast, and transparency of medium, which distinguish oil-paintings — and especially those of the Van Eycks ; but if we turn to other considerations in reference to this mural painting—if we examine its finished treatment and
execution — we do not find them differ from tempera paintings on panel; and we do not, amongst the latter, find any that so nearly approximate, in method and use of colours, as those of the school of Cologne; whose artists, as we shall have occasion to show, were marked by the nice blending of their tints, the clearness of their lights, the paleness of their shadows, and want of relief and chiaro-'scuro. Small scope for remark is to be found in the choice of such a subject as the Annunciation, common to every school of the world; but the general distribution of this composition, and its combination of figures with low arches, rich in carved ornament and detail, are more characteristic of the Rhenish school, than of that of Bruges. With respect to the character of the figures; if they are executed with less artistic mastery of form than those of the Flemings, they are marked by a softness and religious sentiment peculiar to the Rhenish school. The figure of the Madonna essentially illustrates this view, being placed in an attitude of considerable grace, and surrounded by draperies which tend to give her elegance of attitude. Nor is the impression thus made diminished by any angularity of fold, such as we too frequently remark in the Flemings. The round and sweet outline and form of the head, the hair covered with a veil, are amongst the pleasing features, and recal to our mind the Virgin of Stephen of Cologne. The announcing angel, although more in the Flemish manner than the rest of the picture, has a cast of countenance different from those of the Van Eycks, and in Some points resembles those of the Rhenish school. The
custom of gilding the vestments was peculiarly remarkable in the painters of the Rhine, and is found in this Justus d’Allamagna.
But we trace Flemish methods and inspirations with more certainty than elsewhere in the background of the picture, which, instead of being a golden surface, surrounded by architecture, is made to represent space and depth by depicting the interior of an apartment, with windows looking out upon landscapes such as we have described as in the Flemish fashion. The painter's knowledge of the science of linear perspective is, however, slight.
We may, finally, come to the conclusion, that Justus d'Allamagna was a painter, partaking of the Flemish and Rhenish manners, and exhibiting the religious sentiment of the latter, combined with the more material tendency of the former to imitate nature. We cannot conceive him to have been a pupil of the Van Eycks, with whose pictures and method this mural painting has nothing to do. We do not believe him to have known the methods of the Van Eycks; because, forty-one years after the alleged discovery of oil medium-namely, in 1451, when Roger Van der Weyden was so well received in Italy in consequence of knowing it-Justus d’Allamagna, had he been Van Eyck’s pupil, would have known and practised oils, and would, doubtless, have preferred to exhibit his talent in the new practice, rather than in the old manner of tempera, in which the Italians excelled. 1
1 Another painter, called Johannes Alamannus, seems to have painted with Antonio Vivarini in 1445, and in 1496. He exhibits somewhat of the Rhenish manner in sentiment and in the nice blending of flesha tints, but especially in the architectural parts of his composition.
It is curious, however, that no other trace of this artist should be found at Genoa. In Parisis a picture coming from that city, exhibited in the Louvre, and divided into three parts—the centre representing the Annunciation; the wings, St. Benedict and St. Augustin, and St. Stephen and St. Angelo." This composition is similar in character, as regards faces and figures, to that of Justus d’Allamagna ; but the composition has less his calm and religious manner, than one characterised by another sentiment. The Virgin shrinks tremulously, and supports herself against a column, whilst the angel is represented in the air. The Virgin is dressed in a golden garment, covered with a black drapery. The types of the faces resemble those of the Annunciation at Genoa, and the background is an Italian landscape. The flesh tints are in chiaro-'scuro or grey, and unrelieved, so that they really seem unfinished. This is a picture either by Justus d’Allamagna, or by one of his pupils. The Flemish character is less visible in the composition on the wings, which are not by the same painter as the central panel.
There were many painters of Germany, or the Low Countries, at Genoa, in the fifteenth century, to whose names we might turn in seeking for the authorship of the panel of the Louvre. Padre Spotorno, who wrote the literary history of Liguria in 1824, published some interesting facts, illustrating the early school of painting in Genoa. Amongst the men who migrated to Italy in the
* No. 258, Louv. Cat. The central panel, 1 met. 56 by 1-07. The panels of the wings, 0 met. 98 by 0.48. This picture formed part of Louis the Eighteenth's Collection, and had been executed for an oratory at Genoa.