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Claire von Hultem, with their patrons, St. Agnes and St. Clara.' The monogram on the frame is said to represent the gauge in use by brother Floreins, but this can scarcely be admitted as a proof that he gave the commission for this altar-piece. The portraits of the superiors certainly occupy the most honourable positions in the picture, those assigned by the common practice of the artists of the Netherlands to the donors. In truth, the painter must have worked indifferently for the whole establishment; for, in 1479, he painted the Adoration of the Magi, in which brother Floreins is the donor.” In 1480, Adrian Reims, Superior of the Hospital, commissioned him to execute the subjects destined for the ornament of the shrine of St. Ursula. It is said, that after Memling finished the Sibyl Zambeth, brother Floreins conceived the happy notion of making him depict upon a shrine a series of scenes from the life of St. Ursula and her companions. Passavant, however, says, that in 1843 he obtained some facts from the then Superior of the Hospital, derived, she said, from records to which she would not give him access. Their purport was, that Adrian Reims, Superior of the Hospital, commissioned Memling, in 1480, to paint the shrine, and furnished him with funds to travel to Cologne, that he journeyed there on two occasions, and that the panels were completed in 1486.” These facts have not been contradicted, and, in a measure, shake the strong assertions of historians who declare that Memling never had a livre for the pictures at the Hospital. It was so evident that Memling painted views from nature, of Cologne, Mayence, and Bâle, that all the Belgians say he visited the Rhine; but they attribute his knowledge of the country to a journey there in early youth. The fact, in truth, was, that his visit to Cologne and Bāle was undertaken at the bidding of his patron, Adrian Reims.
* Catalogue of the Hospital, p. 23.
* Ibid. p. 36."
* Passavant, Kunstblatt, No. 62, 1843. Michiels says: “In 1477, our artist, in all likelihood, painted the Sibyl already mentioned, and then commenced the reliquary.”—P. 335.
Memling made some stay upon the Rhine, and sketched the cities on its banks. He, doubtless, studied the old pictures of the early Rhenish schools, the German character being visible in the figures of the shrine,—a proof that he also took note of the features of the people of those countries.
In depicting on the panels of the Châsse the startling scenes which marked the journey of St. Ursula and her companions, he discarded the fabulous, and adopted the more likely version of the legend, which confines the number of attendant virgins to eleven. He could not have acted otherwise, for the monks and nuns of Bruges were confident that they alone possessed the bones of St. Ursula and her companions, and therefore put no faith in legends which assigned to her the leading of eleven thousand. Ernest, Duke of Saxony, in his memoir of a journey through France and Belgium in 1613, says, that the bones and skulls exhibited in St. Ursula of Cologne (where they may still be seen), as the relics of the saint and her companions, were the remnants of an excavation in a cemetery of Cologne.
The passage of the mountains by the pious cohort would enable Memling, had he crossed the Alps, to represent with accuracy the snow-clad mountains on the road. But he did not do so; and Băle appears to be the farthest point he visited. Those who think he went to Italy solve this difficulty by supposing that he went through France." Soon after the completion of the Châsse, or, as the Flemings call it, the Ryve, Memling received commissions from another hospital of Bruges, that of St. Julian.” The picture of St. Christopher in the Bruges Academy, though dated 1484, may have been painted later, as the signature has been evidently tampered with. The picture is amongst the finest of the master, though considerably damaged and retouched. There were others still in Bruges in 1780, which show that Memling was not exclusively employed by the Hospital of St. John. Pierre Bultynck, of the corporation of curriers, obtained, in 1480, a copy of the Adoration of the Magi, of 1479, and placed it in the Curriers' Chapel in Notre Dame of Bruges. The portraits of Pierre Bultynck and his wife Catherine Wan Ryebeck were on the wings. The curriers sold the picture, which, when last heard of, in 1780, belonged to Mr. Wan Cock, a picture dealer of Antwerp.” In 1487 he again produced a dyptic for the Hospital of St. Julian at Bruges, ordered by one Martin Van Nieuwenhoven, who became sheriff of the city in 1492." Numerous pictures by Juan Flamenco have caused
1 Michiels, vol. ii. p. 295. * Catalogue of the Hospital, p. 12, Michiels, vol. ii. p. 309. * Catalogue of the Hospital, pp. 13, 14.
* Ibid. pp. 12, 13.
Hans Memling to be considered the same person as that painter. Antonio Ponz, in his Viage de España, remarked five pictures in the choir of Los Legos, in the convent of Carthusians at Miraflores, representing episodes from the life and martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, They had long been attributed to Lucas of Leyden. Ponz discovered, in the records of the monastery, that the “ Bautismo" (baptism) in the choir of Los Legos was commenced by Master Juan Flamenco, in the year 1496, in the convent itself, and finished by him in 1499. Without counting the board and lodging of the painter, it cost the sum of 27,735 maravedis. These pictures have been lost; nowhere have we seen five episodes from the life of St. John the Baptist. At Berlin there are three pictures representing scenes of that description, and at Francfort a copy of the same. The pictures at Berlin were taken, it appears, from the very convent of which we speak; but they are works of Van der Weyden. It is impossible, in consequence, to tell whether Juan Flamenco is the painter of the Hospital of Bruges. In truth, the number of Flemish painters with the name of Juan is very large. If, as Mme. Schopenhauer states, Memling is the painter of the Burgos convent, he might, with similar propriety, be called the painter of Palencia ; for a chapel in the Cathedral of that town possessed eleven-paintings, the work of Juan de Flandes, who, in 1509, according to the records, bound himself to finish them in three years for 500 ducats. But the latest writer on Flemish painters disbelieves the fact of Memling's journey into Spain on other
i Ponz, Viage de España, vol. xii. p. 50. 2 Kunstblatt, Passavant, No. 61, 1843.
grounds. He thinks he may have painted all the pictures mentioned in the Wiage, and sent them to Spain. He never went to Burgos; for a charming dyptic, painted for the convent of the Dunes, in 1499, by Memling, is a proof that he was still in Flanders at that time, the very - period when, according to the records of Miraflores, the picture of Los Legos was completed." But the charming dyptic of 1499 is not by Memling, as any one may see by visiting the Antwerp Gallery.” The only proof of the picture's authenticity is its execution, and that is not in Memling's manner. And besides, there is no doubt, from the records already referred to, that in some portion of 1499 Memling had ceased to exist.” The numerous pictures which remain of him, on which no signature or date is found, but which are still recognisable by their touch and mode of colour and design, would tend to show that Memling was not a libertine, and that the hand of the man who traced those delicate and highly-finished compositions was not that of a soldier. It must be doubted that Memling ever served as such. He seems, indeed, to have enjoyed the patronage of many noble families. The Cliffords, painted in the altar-piece at Chiswick, are his handiwork, not that of John Van Eyck. The panels in the Galleries of Vienna, Munich, Florence, and Turin, all prove that the painter's time was long and patiently employed in painting, and not in fighting. * Michiels, vol. ii. pp. 311, 312.