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The dépôt of the Museum of Madrid contains a portable altar-piece, representing the Adoration of the Magi, with wings on which are painted the Presentation in the Temple and the Adoration of the Angels. It is the very composition of Van der Weyden’s altar-piece at Munich, which Memling copied in the altar-piece of the Magi in the Hospital at Bruges, but which he varied by the substitution of the Adoration for the Annunciation. This Madrid altar-piece, which belonged to Charles the Fifth, is almost a copy of that by Memling, with only slight variations. For instance, in the central panel some figures are introduced as followers of the Magi,—the donor of the Bruges altar-piece being thus displaced; the architecture varies also; but the curious point about this votive picture appears to be the variety of hands that worked upon it. The greater part of it exhibits Memling’s style and colour, but the figures introduced behind the Magi are examples of another taste in drapery and tone. The angels in the Adoration of the Virgin are much inferior to those of Memling; it would seem, in truth, as if the panels were commenced by him, and finished by a pupil. We remark, amongst other things, the head of a spectator at a window -the counterpart of that in the Adoration of the Magi at payer V livres ung grant tableau, en platte painture à ung Dieu de pitié, Notre Dame, Sainct Jehan, et demandait IV 8. pour les deux feuillets faicts depuis audit tableau, auquel a painct en toille les armes de l'église et de M. S.-De Laborde, ut sup., Introd., p. 45.
1 Wood, not catalogued ; about 44 ft. by 4 ft. Engl. Brought from Aranjuez. We take this opportunity of thanking Don José Madrazo for his kindness in affording us facilities to see this and other pictures.
It must still be borne in mind that this picture is catalogued under the name of Van Eyck. Vide sup., pp. 105–184.
Bruges, said to be the portrait of the painter. Many of the fine qualities of this picture have been destroyed by cleaning.
A painting, in two compartments, in the Belvedere Gallery, containing the Carrying of the Cross and the Resurrection of the Saviour, bears a striking resemblance to the manner of Memling in the shrine of St. Ursula. The figures, however, have been much retouched; the extremities, such as hands and feet, appear to be treated with less than usual care, and the pictures as a whole have body of colour and little finish. These latter characteristics—those of a copyist rather than of the master himself may, however, be attributed to over-painting.
A picture painted for Adrian Reims, the patron of Memling and Superior of the Hospital of St. John at Bruges, is the last of which we shall treat in this chapter on the works of Memling. It represents the Descent from the Cross—the Virgin, Mary Magdalen, and Joseph of Arimathea in tears at the feet of the Saviour. On the right wing is a portrait of Adrian Reims, kneeling before his patron saint. On the left wing is St. Barbara. The outer sides of these wings are divided into pointed arches, within which are depicted the Discovery of the Cross and Mary of Egypt crossing Jordan. The date of 1480 on this altar-piece is apparently a late înscription. The letters “ A. R.,” written below the central composition, are the initials of the patron.
Conventional and theatrical in composition, this altar
piece lacks the sentiment usual in Memling's productions—the Magdalen exhibiting her grief in the contorsive gestures peculiar to Van der Weyden's representations. A red tone prevails throughout; and the landscape is arid, and devoid of the fine qualities of the master. Still, it must be borne in mind that the whole is much damaged by cleaning and restoring.
As there are few painters who have been so frequently imitated as Memling, a greater number of pictures are attributed to him than usual. These will form the subject of separate comment. Some, assigned to Memling because of false signatures; others, because divers authors have given them to different painters, in consequence of a certain collective resemblance to Van Eyck, Van der Weyden, and Memling, will be classed amongst the imitations of those masters; whilst others, again, in which we discover the traces of the influence of the school of Louvain, · we have gathered together in a chapter under that head.
Various art authorities attribute to Memling pictures which it has not been our fortune to examine. The responsibility of these attributions must be left to those who have assumed them.
Mr. Passavant says :-"The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine,' in the · Mairie’ of Strasburg, is attributed in the Catalogue (No.39) to Lucas of Leyden ; but it greatly resembles the picture of that subject in the Hospital of St. John at Bruges, and is a remarkable work of Memling, half the life size. The Virgin Mary, sitting on a marble throne, holds the naked Infant Saviour, who presents a ring to St. Catherine, whilst that saint is represented kneeling, to the left of him. To the right is
St. Barbara, presenting a piece of fruit. A gold brocade, behind the throne, is similar to that which hangs in the same place in the pictures of the Florence Gallery and the Vienna Belvedere.” “At Lubeck,” says Dr. Waagen, “the finest work of Memling is to be seen. It is an altar-piece in the Greveraden Chapel of the Cathedral. Externally, it represents the Annunciation. The forms of the Virgin and of the Angel are svelt and noble, the draperies are modelled with the utmost care, and the heads have the softness and the finish peculiar to Memling—one of the signs by which his pictures may be most surely recognised. The opened wings discover to us St. Blaise and St. Egidius with the doe, probably the patron saint of the founder of the altar. Next them are St. John the Baptist, with the lamb, and St. Jerome extracting a thorn from the lion's paw. St. John has much resemblance to the Saint in the altar-piece of St. Christopher in the Munich Gallery (Nos. 48, 49, 54, Cab. IV. Munich Cat.)” As in other pictures by Memling, one sees several small subjects in the distance, in which scenes from the Passion are depicted; amongst which are Christ on the Mount, the Kiss of Judas, and the Ear of Malchus, the Entrance of Christ into Jerusalem, the Entrance of Christ into the House of Caiaphas, Christ before Pilate, the Scourging, the Crowning with Thorns, and the “Ecce Homo.” The central picture is the Carrying of the Cross. In the corner, on the foreground, is the figure of the donor, with
* Passavant, Kunstblatt, No. 62, 1843. * This picture, in the Munich Gallery, is, in our opinion, not by Memling, but by another pupil of Van der Weyden.
a little dog and a frog before him. The painting, in its complete form, consists of thirty-five figures. Two persons on horseback separate the Saviour from the group of holy women. Mary is supported by John and a female saint, whilst another wrings her hands, and the Magdalen extends her arms towards the cross. The distant landscape is more blue than those of Memling. A monkey, riding behind one of the horsemen, makes grimaces because a child has stolen some fruit from it. In the distance is a part of Jerusalem. The date, 1491, on the lower border of the altar-piece, shows that it is of the master's later period. It has the greatest finish. On the left wing, the foreground contains the Burial of Christ by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, and Mary Magdalen Ĩ distance. As regards design of heads and other details, this work is best to be compared with the “Seven Joys and Griefs of the Virgin,” in the Pinakothek at Munich; but is also like the picture of the “ Passion,” at Turin.
The Royal Academy of Fine Arts at Vienna possesses a series of subjects much in Memling's manner. The pictures were bequeathed by the late Count de Lamberg Springenstein, in 1835. One of them is the Coronation of the Virgin, who kneels in the foreground, whilst the Eternal sits on a throne surrounded by Angels. The drawing of this picture is correct, and the colour clear.?
1 Dr. Waagen, Kunstblatt, No. 29, 1846.
Wood, 2 ft. 9 in. high by 2 ft. 9 in. broad.