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if we fail to discover. that they attained this aim, we must attribute the failure to causes peculiar to Flanders. Amongst these we may class the social status of the Flemish painters, whose positions in the household of princes subjected them, perhaps, to caprices unfavourable to the development of high aspirations, or to the contemplation and free communion with self which are the soul of art. Be this as it may, the attainments of Broederlain are inferior to those of the Cologne school, and possess more of those belonging to the Westphalian. His pictures are chiefly remarkable for clear and light flesh tints, want of vigour, abruptness of light and shade, thinness and meagreness of colour, and lack of chiaro'scuro, all special characteristics of the old Westphalian school. The heads are flat and unrelieved, and the features are repulsive; the general aspect of the composition is marred by the ugliness and length of the hands and feet, the awkward and thickset look of some figures, and the unpleasant type of the infant Christ. Whilst in these particulars Melchior's style is characterised by the fault of the Westphalian, in others it is marked by the simple and graceful mode of drapery peculiar to the early painters of Cologne. No contrast can be more striking, in this sense, than the ease and cleverness of the action and arrangement of the Madonnah and Saviour in the panel of the Flight, and the awkwardness of the figure and features of St. Joseph, The painter struggled evidently between the desire of giving a material imitation and the inspirations of graceful teachers, like those of Cologne. But although Melchior's style was founded on the study
of the painters of the Rhine, his composition was similar
to the later productions of the Flemish school. A tendency to realism already marks this early Fleming, and is the distinctive feature of a manner in which the painter strives to imitate nature in its most material forms. Idealism and noble types are lacking, but Broederlain is a fair imitator of the truth. Distinctive combination and choice of colours in draperies, and vigorous tone, characterise him as they do the early works at Bruges, Gand, and other cities of the Netherlands, which may be judged by his standard. , The school of Bruges, and perhaps that of Limburg, in which the first Wan Eyck was reared, were secondary ones, derived from those of the Rhine, in which all the Flemish artists and German painters were inspired. The Flemings first improved themselves there, and rescued their paintings from much that was ignoble and repulsive. And in their own country they formed a body of respectable attainments when the Van Eycks came to Flanders. This explains and clears up many doubtful points in the history of Flemish art. We can scarcely understand why Van der Meire, the first pupil of Hubert Wan Eyck, was so feeble and so unlike him. In truth, Van der Meire's manner was that of the earliest artists, before the genius of Hubert ennobled the Flemish manner. There are other works also which, like those of Melchior, afford an idea of the early state of Flemish art. The Salle des Marguilliers of the cathedral of Bruges contains an altar-piece representing Christ upon the Cross, in which the head is leaning to one side, and three angels; painted blue, are receiving the blood which flows from his wounds; while, to the right of the cross, the
women. Beyond is seen St. Barbara with her symbol the tower. On the left are four figures, one of which, wearing the dalmatica,' points to the Saviour, with these words engraved on a gold ground, Veri Dei filius iste. In the distance St. Catherine, holding in one hand her wheel, in the other a sword, tramples under her feet the figure of a king. This picture, once in the possession of the Corporation of Tanners at Bruges, and presented to the cathedral of Bruges by one of the marguilliers, or care-takers, Mr. I. J. Vermeiren Van Damme, bears a strong resemblance to the works of the Cologne school of the fourteenth century. The figure of the Saviour is lank and meagre-faulty in the hands and feet-and generally, indeed, in details ; yet, after contemplating it for a time, we are struck with a certain truthfulness, interesting when we consider the period. The female figures are not wanting in expression, elegance, and simplicity of attitude ; the drapery, particularly that of the Madonnah, is good. But the male figures are inferior ; they are short and thickset, and that of the centurion is truly trivial in conception. The clear pale tone of the flesh tints are deficient in transparency and chiaro-’scuro ; the outlines are not well defined—defects characteristic of the school of Westphalia. On the other hand, the broad and powerful colours of the garments mark the Flemish school.
The museum at Valencia contains a small panel, which bears some resemblance in manner to those of Broederlain.
1 The dalmatica is a vestment worn by deacons and sub-deacons of the Roman Catholic faith,
It certainly belongs to the same school, and is equally remarkable for the simplicity of its draperies, and for the contrasts already remarked between the picture of Dijon and that of Bruges—between the broad and powerful colours of the garments, and the clear pale tones of the flesh tints. It represents Christ's dead body seated on a tomb, supported by an angel, with various figures kneeling round him; on the right a woman and two girls, on the left a man and two boys, evidently members of one family. The library at Berlin also contains some small compositions on wood, which seem to have been studies for pictures rather than finished productions, but which are quite in the style of Broederlain." If we turn from viewing these pictures as productions of art, and examine them more particularly with reference to the means by which they were produced, we shall discover much that is extremely worthy of remark, and much that throws a light upon the introduction of oil in the production of pictures. The documentary evidence which fills the preceding pages proves how frequent was the use of oil in painting sculptures and banners. We now come to a point where oil-colours are used in the minor or less important portions of pictures, of which the chief parts were completed in distemper. But before proceeding, it may be necessary to compare for a few moments the early paintings of the Flemish with those of other schools, in order to see whether, in the practice of tempera painting itself, there may not * See Entwiirfe und Studien eins Niederlandischen Meisters aus den XW. Yahrhundert, &c. Berlin, 1830. Humblot. Druck", des Koni". Acad", der Wissenchaften.
have been causes which led the former to feel the necessity of improving the modes most commonly in use. It is clear that clime has had great influence in all countries on the progress of art, and that the means employed in warm countries will be found unsuitable for the more variable atmosphere of those in a colder latitude. The painters of the Netherlands, perhaps, from the first felt the necessity of turning their attention to the means of preserving their paintings from the effects of climate, and rendering their colours and varnishes more durable. The Flemings may have found, also at an early period, that they could not with impunity leave pictures exposed to the air, and have felt, at the same time, that the medium employed by the Italians for the preservation of paintings so exposed must be insufficient in a damper atmosphere. Van Mander says that "painting with glue and egg was first brought to the Netherlands from Italy.” The Flemings cannot but have been aware that in the practice of tempera the Italians themselves differed essentially, according to the degree of warmth of the climate in which they lived. The glutinous or drying matters, such as glue and egg, were, used in greater or smaller quantities as vehicle—they were rendered less drying by the use of honey, or of the milky juice of the fig-tree, diluted to a less viscous consistency by vinegar, beer, and wine, according to necessity. All these materials were known to the tempera painters of every clime, and used as the case required or necessity compelled them. In colouring
1 V. Mander. Schilderbock, 4to. Haerlem, 1604, p. 199.