Page images

in the list of anniversaries of St. Gudule as “Magister Petrus Van der Weyden, pictor.” We need scarcely remark, that no traces are left of productions from the hand of this Peter. With regard to Goswyn Van der Weyden, little that is new has been elicited in addition to what we have stated. We only learn that he was born at Brussels, in 1465, one year after the death of Roger. We laboured under one mistake, however, in assigning to him with certainty a series of pictures in the Brussels Museum, on one of which may still be seen the words “Te Brusele.” The panels which are historically traced as having originally been painted for the Church of Tongerloo, by Goswyn Van der Weyden, are those of a tryptic, representing the Burial of the Virgin, and classed in the Catalogue of the Brussels Museum under the name of Van der Meire. The following passage from a work by Mr. A. Heylen, keeper of the records at Tongerloo, is transcribed from the work of Mr. Wauters:— “He” (that is Goswyn) “was born at Brussels, and, in 1535, being then seventy years of age, he painted the piece representing the Death and Assumption of the Virgin, which may be seen at this time, at the entrance to the convent, on the lower side of the Church of Tongerloo, and which once adorned the great altar. He represented himself on the wings with his grandfather; and above those two figures is a tablet with the following inscription :“‘Opera R. P. D. “‘Arnoldi Streyterii hujus ecclesiae abbatis hanc depinxit posteritatis monumentum tabulam Goswinus Van der Weyden, septuagenarius suá canitie, quam infra ad vivam

* No. 631, Brussels Mus, Cat. Wood.

exprimit imaginem, artem sui avi Rogerii, nomen Apellis suo aevo sortiti, imitatus, redempti orbis, anno 1535.’” Or, in English:“For Arnold Streyter, abbot of this church, Goswyn Van der Weyden, a septuagenarian, painted this picture— a monument for posterity, in his old age, which expresses within it, to the life, his image, imitating the art of his grandfather, Roger, called the Apelles of his age, in the year of the Redemption of the World, 1535.” It is not our intention to enter here into a description of the picture painted by Goswyn Van der Weyden, nor to follow Mr. Van Hasselt in the effort to trace the portraits of the painter and his grandfather in the work; but simply to state our conviction that the tryptic, as well as the eleven pictures signed “Te Brusele,” already cited, are of the same school—when painters learnt, in the end of the fifteenth and commencement of the sixteenth centuries, to exaggerate the peculiarities of Roger Van der Weyden, mixing with their own defects those of the then degenerate schools of the Rhine, and producing pictures marked, perhaps, by a certain breadth of hand, but devoid of sentiment, lacking nobleness of conception and composition, as well as softness of line, and tending to rigidity of form, coupled with grey, unblended, and earthy colours, without harmony or truth. Goswyn Van der Weyden is, therefore, a painter of the decline of art in Belgium, born after the death of Roger Van der Weyden, but a student of his manner in a school which must have produced numerous painters, and whose tendency, whether purposely or by chance, seems to have been the perpetuation of the worst errors of the primitive school which preceded the Van

Eycks, lived contemporaneously with them, and continued to exist long after their death.

Respecting these painters, no judgment can be too severe, when we consider the degree of abasement to which they reduced the Flemish school, at a period when the arts in Italy had reached the pinnacle of their greatness. Nor can we consider the tendencies of the two countries, as exemplified by their works, more strikingly than by putting this comparison—that whilst the Flemings followed the tendency to naturalism, and the reproduction of the real by innate sense rather than by science, and gradually entered the track of simple imitation, making their art one of servile portraiture—whilst, at the same time, they perfected the technical processes of colour to such a degree, that they helped to found the Venetian school—the great masters of Tuscany and Umbria founded their art on severity and perfection of form, rising to the extreme point of grandeur, in Raphael and Michael Angelo,- the last of whom never painted in oil. In the same period we see the upward and the downward course. Can men of taste be blamed for preferring the former to the lowest extreme of the latter ?

In the life of Hubert Van Eyck (p. 31), we remarked that “the brothers Van der Meire exhibited some trace of inspiration from the rich and powerful talent of the chief of the Flemish school.” In the notices of Hubert's pupils, we mentioned but one artist of the name of Gerard Van der Meire, forgetting to transcribe the following respecting Jan Van der Meire, copied from Immerzeel :

“Jan Van der Meire was, like his brother, a pupil of the brothers Van Eyck, and completed, amongst other pictures, one for Charles the Rash, representing the Installation of the Order of the Golden Fleece. This artist was much esteemed at the court of the last Duke of Burgundy, whom he followed in his campaigns. He died at Nevers in 1471.” Immerzeel does not give any authority for these statements. With regard to Gerard Van der Meire, some new and important facts have been brought to light. He is discovered to have been free-master of the Guild of St. Luke, at Ghent, in 1452, and juror of the corporation in 1472.” The manuscript of Mr. Delbecq, frequently quoted in the course of our work, is the only authority from which we ascertained that Gerard was the pupil of Hubert Wan Eyck. As Hubert died in 1426, it was difficult to conceive that Gerard should have lived till late in the century. It is ascertained, however, as we have said, that he was alive at Ghent in 1472, and we must suppose him to have entered the school of the Wan Eycks at a tender age, or deny the authenticity of the Delbecq manuscript. We have been loth to take the latter course hitherto, and we have been led to doubt, in consequence, whether Gerard Van der Meire could have painted miniatures in the Breviary of Cardinal Grimani, in conjunction with Memling. The facts lately discovered prove that in this we have made a wrong inference, because, as regards dates, Gerard Wan der Meire, being alive in 1472, could have painted in conjunction with Memling. We have other reasons, however, besides these, to doubt whether or not Van der Meire painted in miniature ?—a question

* Immerzeel, “Hollandsche ende Vlamsche Konst,” p. 212. * Wauters (A.), “Revue Universelle des Arts,” Jan. 1856, p. 246. * No. 18, Antwerp Gallery Catalogue. Wood, 0.29 metres by 0.21, French measure.

which we are inclined to resolve in the negative.

A portrait by Antonello da Messina, accidentally omitted in the description of the pictures by that master, requires notice here." It represents a half-figure of a young man of Italian features, having a long face, and a thin, aquiline nose, small lips, and dark hair overhanging the forehead, and escaping from under a black cap, in shape like those commonly worn in the fifteenth century; a white collar appears at the neck, relieved on a close-fitting black dress; one hand is visible, holding forward a medal inscribed with the words : — “NER. CLAUD. C.ESAR. A.U.G. C. E. TR. P. IMPER.” The southern character of the features, as well as the medal in the hand of the figure, have, doubtless, caused it to be called Victor Pisano. It is also assumed to be the portrait of Antonello himself. These Italian characteristics are, in particular parts, however, not more distinguishable than are Flemish features in others, for instance, in the landscape distance, which represents a lake, a watercourse with a mill on it, the miller, a man on horseback, and a couple of swans, and the peculiar touch of the trees and accessories. The distance has many points of resemblance to that of Memling in the “Clifford altarpiece,” now at Chiswick; and that of the “Madonna,” of the same painter, in the Gallery of the Uffizi, at Florence. The resemblance between Memling and Antonello is developed, not only in this, but also in the parsimonious

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »