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In conclusion, it may be remarked, in reference to the life and labours of Justus, that if we have been unable to throw much light upon it, we have endeavoured, as far as lay in our power, to dispel some of the obscurity which overhung it. We can only trust that future researches may yet bring to light such details as will lead to a better knowledge of a painter whose claims to attention are evidently great.
The pictures painted by Justus of Ghent for the church of St. Jacques in that city-namely, the Crucifixion of St. Peter, and the Beheading of St. Paul— were still in perfect preservation in 1763, when Mensaert wrote his “ Peintre amateur.” They have since disappeared.
Justus is not, in our opinion, the author of the “Invention of the Cross,” a picture in the collection of the late Mr. Huyvetter of Ghent; nor is he that of the panel assigned to him in the Antwerp Gallery.
VAN DER WEYDEN.
LAMBERT LOMBARD, writing to Vasari, in 1565, complains that the followers of Van Eyck and Van der Weyden neglected to ennoble and improve the old traditions of those masters.' He might have added, that Van der Weyden himself, in his efforts to equal or rival them, fell far short of the Van Eycks. Deeply imbued with the forms of his faith, he relied on certain defined and conventional compositions for effect, rather than upon nobleness of sentiment and expression. In doing so he achieved success, and rose to great and well-deserved fame. Graceful and harmonious in his compositions, he formed the elegant and delicate style of Memling; and if we cannot award to him the palm of excellence over the Van Eycks, we grant him the glory of having founded a manner which exercised a greater influence throughout the Netherlands than any other of which we have record.
Roger of Bruges and Van der Weyden were long considered two persons; but later researches have produced a different conviction. Roger Van der Weyden was born at Brussels early in the fifteenth century,' of Flemish parents,
i Gaye (G.), Carteggio inedito d'artisti dei Secoli XIV. XV. e XVI. vol. iii. 8vo. Firenze, 1839, pp. 176-77.
2 Van Mander, p. 207.
and was apprenticed to John Van Eyck, with whom he painted many panels and canvases at Bruges. His diligence and pertinacity were extreme, and his early works numerous, as we know from Marc v. Vaernewyk and Van Mander, who wrote that in their time the churches and the private mansions of the capital were full of his productions.?
Having abandoned Van Eyck’s tuition, he sought employment in his native city, Brussels, where the municipality entrusted him with important commissions. Public works were at that time actively pursued, and Jean Van Ruysbroeck was building the town-hall, which promised to be worthy of a city favoured by the dukes of Brabant and Burgundy. Himself a member of the corporation, promoted to the rank of sheriff in return for his activity in the overthrow of a faction, Van Ruysbroeck may, perhaps, have had a share in naming Roger to the office of painter of the city,' at a salary in kind of a deerdendeel or third of cloth of a certain kind, of finer texture than the twierendeel or quarter worn by architects. The privilege of his place was that of wearing his cloak on the right shoulder ; whilst his labourers and varlets wore theirs upon the left. The privilege not extending to architects, proves that the sumptuary laws of the corporation were highly honourable to painters.
1 Van Mander, p. 203 ; Facio, ut sup., p. 48; Vasari, ut sup., vol. i. p. 163; vol. iv. p. 76; Guicciardini, Descrip. ut sup., p. 124.
2 Van Mander, p. 203; Vaernewyk, p. 133.
3 “Portrateur der Stad.,"— Archives of Brussels (A Wauters), Messag. des Sc. hist., 1846, p. 131.
4 Wauters, Recherches sur l'hotel de Ville de Bruxelles. Messag. des Sc. hist., 1841, p. 205-248.
For the town-hall Van der Weyden painted four of the largest pictures ascribed to him by his biographers. They were destined to remind the judges in the hall of justice of the value of integrity and truth; and their legend in Latin was inscribed as follows on the wall beneath the picture :
“Herkenbald the magnificent, the powerful and illustrious, excepted no one when he sat in judgment; and ever tried, with equal justice, the cause of rich or poor, of a relative or a stranger.
“Whilst recumbent on his couch one day, he heard a tumult in a neighbouring apartment, the piercing shrieks of a woman being most audible. Inquiring the cause, the truth at first was hidden from him. But at length, one more frightened than the rest confessed. “I will answer, Lord; your sister's son, who is feared and honoured second only to yourself, is pressing a girl against her will, and hence the clamour.' Hearing this, and satisfied with its truth, the elder ordered his nephew, . who was dear to him, to be instantly hung. But the senescal, to whom the order was transmitted, feigned obedience, and set the culprit free, charging him to seek a hiding-place; then, proceeding to Herkenbald, declared the sentence to have been carried out. On the fifth day, however, the youth, thinking that his uncle had forgotten his offence, came into his open door. The judge, on seeing him, beckoned him with kindly words; and seizing him by the hair, and with a knife in his right hand, severed the head from the body. In his zeal for justice he killed him. Herkenbald then perceived that his health was failing ; and sending for his bishop, confessed to him all
his sins with many tears, and great contrition; omitting, however, the act by which he had deprived his nephew of life a few days before ; upon which the bishop said : • Wherefore dost thou conceal the homicide by which thou didst deprive thy nephew of his life ?' The old judge retorting : 'I consider this no sin, nor that it is a crime to be remitted by Heaven.' On which the bishop replied : • Confess this crime, and God will take compassion on thee; else canst thou not partake of the Sacrament of the Lord.' But the noble man said to him : 'I take God to witness that no hatred, but zeal for justice made me kill my nephew, who was dear to me ; and though thou deniest me the viaticum on that account, I hope to have communion by the Spirit.' Hearing this, the bishop then retired, without administering to the dying man the consolations of religion. Being soon recalled, however, the judge then said to him : "See if the Sacrament of the body of Christ be in its resting-place ;' and when it appeared that it was not in the open pyx, the sick man subjoined: "Behold that which thou broughtest with thee and deniedst me hath not been refused;' and then he showed him openly, before all, the host, which he held in his mouth and between his teeth ; which, when the bishop saw, magnifying God for so great a miracle, he no longer doubted that it had taken place as the reward of justice.” 1
Herkenbald was one of the judges of Brussels in the eleventh century. The legend concerning him was depicted
Sweertius, Monumenta sepulc. Bra.
1 “In Ædibus 'Senatoriis.” bantiæ, pp. 309–11,