« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
The collection of drawings at the British Museum contains a fac-simile outline of the Magdalen, under the name of John of Bruges. This drawing, half the size of the painted figure, is complete, with the exception of the hand and cup of ointment."
The warmer colour and softer mode of painting which characterised Roger after his journey to Italy, may be noticed in the tryptic of the Medici at Francfort. The Virgin stands in the centre of the composition, under a dais, affectionately clasping the Infant Saviour. On her right St. Peter and St. John stand in contemplation, whilst on her left are St. Cosmo and St. Damian. In graceful sentiment this composition rivals all those of the master; whilst in its execution, whether or not owing to the smallness of its dimensions, which are more favourable to the development of the artist's manner than the large designs of the Beaune altar-piece, the utmost effect is produced. The head of St. Peter is noble and severe, and the draperies which surround him and St. John are of a broad character, which is not always one of the features of the master. The other figures illustrate the ableness of Van der Weyden in painting portraits. Luminous and finished colour, used with much body and boldness, com
bine to render this the most pleasing picture of the master with which we are acquainted." His fine qualities are also seen in Bladelin's altar-piece. Belgium was deprived of this picture some few years ago, when the curate of the church of Middelburg sold it. It was then supposed to be the work of Memling. The adoration here is represented in a manner unusual with the Flemings. The Infant Saviour on the ground gives light to the surrounding group. Mary kneels before him, with Bladelin and St. Joseph. In the distance is the adoration of the shepherds. Here, again, we trace the fashion, which earlier Flemish painters imitated and exaggerated, of completing their pictures by episodes painted in the distance. On one of the wings is Mary with the Infant Christ appearing to the Emperor, or the fulfilment of the Sybil's prophecy. Unfortunately, the Emperor is dressed like the Duke of Burgundy. The subject of the second wing is the Adoration of the Magi, and the Infant Saviour in the clouds.” This altar-piece, one of the finest works of Van der Weyden, is almost equalled by the Adoration of the Magi,” and the Virgin and St. Luke, in the Munich Gallery—two pictures which have long been attributed to John Van Eyck, but which bear indubitable traces of the hand of Van der Weyden. The Adoration is a perfect composition, but disagree* No. 139, Staedel Gallery. Wood, 20" by 14". * No. 535, Berlin Cat. Centre panel, wood, 2f 113 z. by 2f. 11z.; wings, wood, 2f 113 z. by 1 f. 34 z.
able in its colour, which, though clear, is glassy. When closed, the tryptic exhibits the Annunciation; when open, the Adoration, the Annunciation, and the Presentation in the Temple; a series and form of subject which, like that of distant episodes, was copied by numerous followers of this painter; and, amongst the rest, by Memling in his picture of the Hospital of Bruges, by the author of a panel in the depôt of the Madrid Museum, and by others too numerous to mention. . St. Luke and the Virgin sitting to him," is a subject that was seldom treated by the Flemings. The Madonna on her throne has peculiarly the type of Wan der Weyden's virgins. One need but observe the thinness of the Infant, its meagre limbs, and large hands and feet, the angular and heavy draperies, the hardness of the outline, to be convinced that this was not the manner of Van Eyck. The picture, indeed, has all Van der Weyden's faults, with his usual pleasing quality—soft and harmonious colour. The distant landscape, with its numerous figures, is a counterpart of that which is in the Rollin votive picture at the Louvre, and may thus have led to its false appellation. An old copy of this piece is to be seen in the Santa Trinita Museum. It once belonged to the Infante Sebastian. The remarkable influence of Wan der Weyden upon his cotemporaries and followers has been already mentioned, but may be seen more fully in the numerous copies and imitations of his last great picture—that which he painted for Notre Dame, “hors des murs,” at Louvain. The great original of this masterpiece is at Madrid, where it hangs , No. 42, cab. III. Pinak Cat wood, 4' 4" high by * * * *
so high that one can scarcely see it.' The body of the Saviour is in the act of being taken from the Cross. It is handed down by the executioner and supported by Joseph of Arimathea. Mary Magdalen looks on and wrings her hands with the wildest signs of grief ; Van der Weyden here exhibiting his peculiarities of exaggerating grief and joy by unnatural action. Near her is St. Peter, the Virgin swooning at his feet, and the third Mary, with other saints, close by. This celebrated picture is remarkable for its composition, and justifies the numerous copies which were made of it, not only by the painter's own immediate followers, but by successive generations of artists. But the figures being life-size, exhibit in a proportionate degree the failings of Van der Weyden,—his hardness of outline, his meagreness of form, his want of sentiment increased by a certain knowledge of anatomy, and his lack of noble feeling. The Saviour's head is fine, but the group of Mary swooning and the figures round her are the chief attraction,—the blooming flesh tints and harmonious colour contrasting with the livid hues of the crucified body. Michel Coxie made a copy of this picture for Margaret of Austria, of which no tidings can be learnt, but numerous imitations of it exist besides. One of them is in the Escurial, given there to Albert Dürer, but painted by one of Roger's pupils, grey in tone and harder of line than the original; another is in the Santa Trinita Museum of Madrid, by a stranger to the Flemish school.
i No. 1046, Madrid Mus. Cat. 1850. 7 f. 2 in. high by 9 f. 5 in. Wood, gilt-ground.
2 No. 3. Hist. y descr. del Escorial. D. Jos. Quevedo. Madrid, 1849, p. 288.
It lacks all sentiment of grace or colour, and is heavy, dark, and red. A fourth is in the Berlin Museum, and has suffered much from cleaning and restoring, but is an old copy.” A tryptic, the central portion of which exhibits features not dissimilar from those of the Descent from the Cross of Berlin—such as the composition, grouping, and attitudeof the figures—is in the Liverpool Gallery” Asixth, diminutive in size, is still in the cathedral of Louvain, with wings, on which are portraits of the donor and his family. This, perhaps, is the most unfavourable presentment of the subject, and indicates a painter who flourished during the decline of art in Belgium, in proof of which the lifeless aspect of the figures, their large round eyes, and the picture's dark and dreary colour and want of chiaro-'scuro, may be mentioned. But the repetitions and imitations of this subject are yet more numerous. For half a century it was recopied in all the schools of Germany and Holland; and taste, as usual, becoming slave to fashion, the subject was reproduced and changed ad infinitum. A curious instance of exaggerated imitation is the panel in the Cologne Museum representing the Descent from the Cross, dated 1480, and attributed by some to Israel Meckenen, and others to Albert van Ouwater.” In truth, the picture is by neither of those artists, but more properly belongs to a secondary school of the Rhine; the painter
* No. 534, Berlin Cat. given to “Roger v. d. Weyden der jüngere, 1529.” Dated 1488. Wood, 4 f. 83 z. high by 8 f. 54 z. broad.
* No. 42, Liverpool Gall Cat. 1851. Wood, 4 f. by 2. On the wing St. Julian and St. John the Baptist. Ascribed to Roger v. der Weyden the younger.
* Because of a mutilated signature which still comprises the letters O W A.