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is not so happily depicted. The firm intelligence of outline and beauty of hand and wrist, which mark the painter, are to be found in her as in the Virgin; but the head is over large, the body slightly protrudes, and the legs are too spare. The varied movements of the lips and eyes among the Choristers are singularly natural; but the intonation of the parts is less powerful than was usual in Hubert, a result which may be attributed to restoration." A few outlines slightly weakened may have been altered by the same means. The manner of John Wan Eyck is seen most plainly in the central panel, where the Lamb is bleeding on the altar. Karl Wan Mander affirms that he painted it ; we believe he also executed the remainder of the outer as well as inner scenes of the altar-piece, with the exception, perhaps, of the Evangelists in chiaro-'scuro, which seem to be the work of pupils. How talented John Wan Eyck showed himself in design and execution may be seen in the centre and wings of this altar-piece, where he almost ascended to a level with his brother. Still even here, although less conspicuously than in other pictures, his knowledge of anatomy was less than that of Hubert. In his figures he exhibited a tendency to feebler outlines, thinner limbs, smaller and less graceful hands, and harder or more angular draperies. These, it must be borne in
* Not only are these choristers out of harmony with the parts painted by Hubert, but with those portions also which are the work of John; such as the central composition and the panels of the knights and pilgrims on the lower portion of the wings. By restoration is here meant the process of cleaning and consequent weakening of the surface and parts of the outline.
mind, are comparisons in which John Van Eyck appears to a disadvantage only by the side of Hubert. It is almost needless to say, that in all these points he far surpassed his pupils and followers. At the same time, he was less a colourist than his brother, and rarely produced the true harmonies for which Hubert is remarkable. He lacked vigour and warmth in his shadows, and was unable to conceal at all times the traces of manipulation. But, notwithstanding all, the picture of the Agnus Dei, though not exempt from retouching, is a vivid and powerful one. It is almost impossible to do complete justice to its excellence; and it requires no mean powers of description to give a faint idea of its beauties,—to tell the fervid piety that animates the saints, and hermits, and crusaders; the simpler sentiments expressed upon the faces of the splendid band which St. Agnes and St. Barbara are leading ; the nature of the landscapes and their varied features, the harmony and finish of the meadows and sparkling fountains, the numberless flowers, that give a summer aspect to the scene ; and the genius which could make a vast and splendid whole out of so many divers parts.
Comparisons between the life-size portaits of Jodocus Vydts and Isabella Burluut and the life-size figures described as Hubert's,, are hardly fair. But no one can deny the able treatment of these likenesses, the power of chiaro-’scuro-greater here, perhaps, than ever—and the breadth with which the vestments have been handled by John Van Eyck. In making this division of the work of the two brothers on the altar-piece of the Agnus Dei, our only real guide has been the characteristic features of the tyle of each. Some of the lower scenes which form a
portion of the open picture are, as we have said, almost as powerful as Hubert's. Of these, perhaps, it may be said that the younger brother finished what the elder left undone. And as for the landscapes, some of them exhibit tints so much warmer and more southern than others, that they probably were painted after John Van Eyck’s return from Portugal.
The first great portion of this chef-d'oeuvre that fell a prey to Vandalism was the panel representing the tortures of the condemned, which, being painted à tempera, was washed out before Van Mander's time. Then the painters Schoreel and Lancelot Blondel attempted to restore the altar-piece in 1550, and “washed it so that they brought out afresh a portion which dirt had partially concealed.”1 As they were painters of some note, perhaps their restoration did but little harm. It pleased the canons of St. Bavon, who approved of their success, and gave Jan Schoreel a silver cup.
Philip II. of Spain, who, during the civil wars, succeeded in depriving Belgium of many pictures, contented himself with an able copy by Michel Coxie, for which he paid 4,000 ducats ; a larger sum, perhaps, than the original produced.” Another copy still exists, besides the one obtained from Coxie. Narrowly escaping from destruction by the image breakers in 1566, and by fire in 1641, the Agnus Dei owes its chief dismemberment to Joseph II. of Austria, who paid it a visit, and expressed disgust at the naked figures of Adam and Eve. The altar-piece, in consequence of this, remained closed and 1 Vaernewyk, ut sup.
Vaernewyk, p. 219. V. Mander, p. 201. Guicciardini, ut sup.
shrouded from view from 1785 to 1794, when it was carried off in part by the picture-fanciers of the French revolution, and restored a few years later at the peace. Squeamish notions still prevailing, the wings were taken to a cellar, and not restored to their original position. They were sold at last, by an ignorant priest, for little or nothing, to Mr. Nieuwenhuys, against whom an action was brought for their recovery. This, however, failed; the wings were sold to Mr. Solly, a London amateur, for 4,0001., and by him to the present King of Prussia.' The panels of Adam and Eve are the only portions of the wings preserved at Ghent, where they may still be viewed in the cellars of the cathedral. The original designs for the Adam and Eve of the Agnus Dei are in the collection of drawings of the Louvre. They are of a small size and on paper. The figure of Adam is a small facsimile of the picture. That of Eve is somewhat different, the head more in profile, and the form a faithful copy of a bad model. On the back of the drawings is a representation of a man seated at a desk or bench, writing. On the same sheet are also three heads of women in caps, designed from nature. We owe the discovery of these drawings to the activity of M. de Reiset, the conservator of the drawings of the Louvre..
Hubert Van Eyck, in the Agnus Dei, is the founder of a type or class of subject, which his brother imitated and
1 Michiels, vol. ii. p. 102.
2 The copy of the Agnus Dei, sold at the breaking up of Mr. Ader's gallery in London, is in possession of a gentleman, the brother-in-law of Mr. Green, who has a collection at Hadley, near Barnet.
his pupils varied ad infinitum. It is strange, however, that, with his vast and splendid talents, he should have left a name so long obscure. Although the pictures of both brothers found their way to Italy through the traffic of those wealthy traders of the Middle Ages, the Lombard merchants, before, perhaps, the younger had completed his improvements, Hubert remained unnoticed. He was unknown even to Wasari, who in his first complete edition omitted mention of him, and repaired his first neglect, in part only, in the late publication of 1568. The omission had been pointed out to him by Lambert Lombard, the well-known painter of the school of Liège, who at that time was intimately acquainted with the literary men and artists of Europe. This tardy recognition was but just, yet failed to restore the honours which Hubert so much deserved. A masterpiece, attributed by many to him, may be seen in the Borbonico at Naples, where it appears under the name of Colantonio del Fiore. The intimate connexion of the Flemish and Neapolitan painters is well known. The picture given to Colantonio has no resemblance with his other works, but, on the contrary, bears the marks of the genius of the Van Eycks. It represents St. Jerome dressed in cardinal's robes, a skull-cap on his head, stretching forward, and with two hands extracting a thorn from a lion's paw. The scene is laid in a studio, where ponderous folios adorn the shelves, and instruments for writing are spread upon a desk. The lion is grand in design. St. Jerome is, in beauty and nobleness of style, akin to Saint John the Baptist in the Agnus Dei; and the broad and simple turn of drapery, with the able drawing and the good proportion of the