Pictures Every Child Should Know
Part 2 out of 6
Now Correggio's childhood, or at least his early manhood, could not
have been spent in poverty, because it is known that he used the most
expensive colours to paint with, painted upon the finest of canvas,
while greater artists had often to be content with boards. He also
painted upon copper plates, and it is said that he hired Begarelli, a
sculptor of much fame, to make models in relief for him to copy for
the pictures he painted on the cupolas of the churches in Parma. That
sculptor's services must have been expensive.
On the lovely island of Capri, in the Franciscan convent, will be
found one of his first pictures, painted when Correggio was about
nineteen years old.
He was highly original in many ways. Although he had never seen the
work of any great artist, he painted the most extraordinary
fore-shortened pictures; and fore-shortening was a technicality in art
then uncommon. He also was the first to paint church cupolas.
Fore-shortening produces some peculiar as well as great results, and
being a feature of art with which people were not then familiar,
Correggio's work did not go uncriticised. Indeed one artist, gazing up
into one of the cupolas where Correggio's fore-shortened figures were
placed, remarked that to him it appeared a "hash of frogs."
But when Titian saw that cupola, he said: "Reverse the cupola, fill it
with gold, and even then that will not be its money's worth."
Correggio did not receive very large sums for his work, and since he
was married and took good care of his family, he must have had some
source of income besides his brush. He received some interesting
rewards for his paintings. For example, for "St. Jerome," called "Il
Giorno," he was given "400 gold imperials, some cartloads of faggots
and measures of wheat, and a fat pig." That picture is in the Parma
Gallery, and all the cupolas which he painted are in Parma churches.
Some of his pictures are signed; "Leito," a synonym for his name,
"Allegri." This indicates his style of art.
There is an interesting story told of how Correggio stood entranced
before a picture of Raphael's, and after long study of it he
exclaimed: "I too, am a painter!" showing at once his appreciation of
Raphael's greatness and satisfaction at his own genius.
Doubtless a good share of Correggio's comfortable living came from the
lady he married, since she was considered a rich woman for those times
and in that locality. Her name was Girolama Merlini, and she lived in
Mantua, the place where the Montagues and Capulets lived of whom
Shakespeare wrote the most wonderful love story ever imagined. This
young woman was only sixteen years old when Correggio met and loved
her, and very beautiful and later on he painted a picture,
"Zingarella," for which his wife is said to have been the model. It
seems to have been a stroke of economy and enterprise for painters to
marry, since we read of so many who made fame and fortune through the
beauty of their wives.
They were very happy together, Correggio and his wife, and they had
four children. Their happiness was not for long, because Correggio
seems to have been but thirty-four years old when she died, nor did he
live to be old. There is a most curious tale of his death which is
probably not true, but it is worth telling since many have believed
it. He is supposed to have died in Correggio, of pleurisy, but the
story is that he had made a picture for one who had some grudge
against him, and who in order to irritate him paid him in copper,
fifty scudi. This was a considerable burden, and in order to save
expense and time, it is said that Correggio undertook to carry it home
alone. It was a very hot day, and he became so overheated and
exhausted with his heavy load that he took ill and died, and he may be
said literally to have been killed by "too much money," if this were
true. Vasari, a biographer to be generally believed, says it is a
Correggio said that he always had his "thoughts at the end of his
pencil," and there are those who impudently declare that is the only
place he _did_ have them, but that is a carping criticism, because he
was a very great artist, his greatest power being the presentation of
soft blendings of light and shade. There seem to have been few unusual
events in Correggio's life; very little that helps us to judge the
man, but there is a general opinion that he was a kind and devoted
father and husband, as well as a good citizen. With little demand upon
his moral character, he did his work, did it well, and his work alone
gave him place and fame.
He became the head of a school of painting and had many imitators, but
we hear little of his pupils, except that one of them was his own son,
Pompino, who lived to be very old, and in his turn was successful as
Correggio was buried with honours in the Arrivabene Chapel, in the
Franciscan church at Correggio.
PLATE--THE HOLY NIGHT
This painting is not characteristic of Correggio's work, but
nevertheless it is very beautiful. The brilliant warm light which
comes from the Infant Jesus in His mother's arms is reflected upon the
faces of those gathered about, and even illuminates the angelic group
hovering above him. The slight landscape forming the background is
also suggestive, and the conditions of the birth are indicated by the
ass which may be seen in the middle distance. The faces of all are
joyous yet full of wonderment, the whole scene intimate and human.
The picture is also called the "Adoration of the Shepherds," and that
title best tells the story. See the shepherdess shading her face with
one hand and offering two turtle-doves with the other. The ass in the
distance is the one on which Mary rode to Bethlehem, and Joseph is
caring for it. Even the cold light of the dawning day is softened by
the beauty of the group below. This picture is in the Royal Gallery in
PLATE--THE MYSTIC MARRIAGE OF ST. CATHERINE
The Infant Jesus sits upon His mother's lap, and places the ring upon
St. Catherine's finger, while Mary's hand helps to guide that of her
Child. This action brings the three hands close together and adds to
the beauty of the composition. All of the faces are full of pleasure
and kindliness, while that of St. Sebastian fairly glows with happy
emotion. The light is concentrated upon the body of the Child and is
reflected upon the faces of the women. This painting hangs in the
Other great Correggio pictures are the "School of Cupid," which is
more characteristic of his work; "Antiope," "Leda," "Danae," and "Ecce
PAUL GUSTAVE DOR
This artist died in Paris twenty-five years ago, but there is little
as yet to be told of his life history. He was educated in Paris at the
Lyce Charlemagne, having gone there from Strasburg, where he was
He was a painter of fantastic and grotesque subjects, and as far as we
know, he began his career when a boy. He made sketches before his
eighth year which attracted much attention, and he earned considerable
money while still at school. He was at that time engaged to illustrate
for journals, at a good round sum, and before he left the Lyce he had
made hundreds of drawings, somewhat after the satirical fashion of
His work is very characteristic and once seen is likely to be always
He first worked for the _Journal Pour Rire_, but then he undertook to
illustrate the work of Rabelais, the great satirist, whose text just
suited Dor's pencil. After Rabelais he illustrated Balzac, also the
"Wandering Jew," "Don Quixote," and Dante's "Divine Comedy."
He undertook to do things which he could not do well, simply for the
money there was in the commissions. He had but a poor idea of colour
and his work was coarse, but it had such marked peculiarities that it
became famous. He did a little sculpture as well, and even that showed
his eccentricities of thought.
PLATE--MOSES BREAKING THE TABLETS OF THE LAW
This is one of the illustrations of the Dor Bible, published in
1865-66. The story is well known of how Moses went up into the Mount
of the Lord to receive the laws for the Israelites, which were written
upon tables of stone. Upon his descent from the Mount he found that
his followers had set up a golden calf, which they were worshipping;
and in his wrath Moses broke the tablets on which the Law was
inscribed. The power shown in his attitude, the affrighted faces of
the cowering Jews, the thunder and lightning as an expression of the
wrath of the Almighty are all painted in Dor's best manner.
_Pupil of Wolgemuth and Schongauer_
Albrecht Drer by nationality was a Hungarian, but he was born in the
city of Nuremberg. His father had come from the little Hungarian town
of Eytas to Nuremberg that he might practise the craft of a
goldsmith. Notwithstanding his Hungarian origin, the name is German
and the family "bearing," or sign, is the open door. This device
suggests that the name was first formed from "Thurer," which means
"carpenter," maker of doors.
The father became the goldworker for a master goldsmith of Nuremberg
named Hieronymus Holper, and very soon the new employee had fallen in
love with his master's daughter. The daughter was very young and very
beautiful; her name was Barbara, and as Herr Drer was quite forty
years of age, while she was but fifteen, the match seemed most
unlikely, but they married and had eighteen children! The great
painter was one of them.
Albrecht loved his parents most tenderly, and from first to last we
hear no word of disagreement among any members of that immense
household. Young Albrecht was especially the companion of his father,
being brilliant, generous, and hard-working in a family where everyone
needed to do his best to help along. This love and companionship never
ceased until death, and after his parents died Albrecht wrote in a
touching manner of their death, describing his love for them, and
their many virtues. He was an author and a poet as well as a painter,
and only Leonardo da Vinci matched him for greatness and
versatility. We may know what Drer's father looked like, since the
son made two portraits of him; one is to be seen in the Uffizi Gallery
at Florence and the other belongs to the Duke of Northumberland's
collection. The latter portrait has been reproduced in an engraving,
so that it is familiar to most people.
In the days when the great artist was growing up, Nuremberg was the
centre of all intellectuality and art in the North. The city of
Augsburg also followed art fashions, but it was far less important
than Nuremberg, because in the latter city every sort of art-craft was
followed in sincerity and with great originality.
In those days, the craft of the goldsmith was closely allied with the
profession of the painter, because the smith had to create his own
designs, and that called for much talent. Thus it was but a step from
designing in precious metals to the use of colour, and to
engraving. In making wood engravings, however, the drudgery of it was
left almost entirely to workmen, not artists. Nuremberg was also the
seat of musical learning. Wagner makes this fact pathetic, comical,
and altogether charming in his "Mastersingers of Nuremberg."
Till Drer's time, however, there had been little painting that could
be regarded as art, and when he came to study it there was but little
opportunity in his own land, but Drer was destined to bring art to
Nuremberg. If he went elsewhere to study, it was only for a little
time, because he was above all things patriotic and dearly loved his
With seventeen brothers and sisters, young Drer's problem was a
serious one. His father not only meant him to become a goldsmith like
himself--a craft in which there was much money to be made at a time
when people dressed with great ornamentation and used gold to decorate
with--it was highly necessary with so large a family that he should
learn to do that which could make him helpful to his father. Hence the
young boy entered his father's shop. If he had not been handicapped
with so many to help to maintain, he would have laid up a considerable
fortune, because from the very beginning he was master of all that he
undertook; doing the least thing better than any other did it, putting
conscience and painstaking into all.
"My father took special delight in me," the son said, "seeing that I
was industrious in working and learning, he put me to school; and when
I had learned to read and write, he took me home from my school and
taught me the goldsmith's trade."
The family were good and kind; excellent neighbours, deeply religious,
and little Albrecht certainly was comely. He was beautiful as a little
child, and as a man was very handsome, with long light hair sweeping
his shoulders, and gentle eyes. He was very tall, stately, and full of
In his father's shop he made little clay figures which were afterward
moulded in metal; also he learned to carve wood and ivory, and he
added the touch of originality to all that he did. He was the Leonardo
da Vinci of Germany, an intellectual man, a poet, painter, sculptor,
engraver, and engineer. He approached everything that he did from an
intellectual point of view, looking for the reasons of things.
After a while in his father's shop, he found mere craftsmanship
irksome, and he begged to be allowed to enter a studio. This was a
great disappointment to the father, even a distress, because he could
see no very quick nor large returns in money for an artist, and he
sorely needed the help of his son; but being kind and reasonable, he
consented Albrecht was apprenticed to the only artist of any repute
then in Nuremberg, Wolgemuth.
To his studio Albrecht went, at the age of fifteen, and if he did not
learn much more of painting, under that artist's direction, than his
own genius had already taught him, he learned the drudgery of his
work; how to grind colours and to mix them, and he studied wood
In Wolgemuth's studio he remained for the three years of his
apprenticeship, and then he fled to better things. For a time he
followed the methods of another German artist, Schongauer, but finally
he went forth to try his luck alone. He wandered from place to place,
practising all his trades, goldsmithing, engraving, whatever would
support him, yet always and everywhere painting.
It is thought that he may have gone as far as Italy, but it is not
certain whether he went there in his first wanderings or later
on. However, he was soon recalled home, for his father had found a
suitable wife for him. She was the daughter of a rich citizen and her
name was Agnes Frey. She was pretty as well as rich, but had she been
neither Albrecht would have returned at his father's bidding. There
was never any resistance to the fine and proper things of life on
Albrecht Drer's part. He was the well balanced, reasonable man from
There have been extraordinary tales told of the artist's wife. She has
been called hateful and spiteful as Xantippe, the wife of Socrates,
but we think this is calumny. The stories came about in this way:
Drer had a life-long friend, Wilibald Pirkheimer, who in his old age
became the most malicious and quarrelsome of old fellows. He lived
longer than Drer did, and Drer's wife also outlived her
husband. Pirkheimer wanted a set of antlers which had belonged to
Drer and which he thought the wife should give him after Drer was
dead, but Agnes thought otherwise and would not give them up. Then,
full of rage, the old man wrote the most outrageous letters about poor
Agnes, saying that she was a shrew and had compelled Drer to work
himself to death; that she was a miser and had led the artist an awful
dance through life. This is the only evidence against her, and that so
sane and sensible a man as the artist lived with her all his life and
cherished her, is evidence enough that Pirkheimer didn't tell the
truth. When Drer died he was in good circumstances and instead of
being overworked, he for many years had done no "pot-boiling," but had
followed investigations along lines that pleased him. After his death,
the widow treated his brothers and sisters generously, giving them
properties of Drer's and being of much help to them. During the
artist's life he and she had travelled everywhere together and had
appeared to love each other tenderly; hence we may conclude that the
old Pirkheimer was simply a disgruntled, gouty old man without a good
word for anybody.
If Drer's father and mother had eighteen children, Albrecht and Agnes
struck a balance, for they had none. Whether or not Drer went to
Italy before his marriage in 1494, certain it is that he was in
Venice, the home of Titian, in 1506. Titian was six years younger than
Drer, who was then about thirty-five years old. It is said that he
started for Italy in 1505 and that he went the whole of the way, over
the Alps, through forests and streams, on horseback. Who knows but it
was during that very journey, while travelling alone, often finding
himself in lonely ways, and full of the speculative thoughts that were
characteristic of him, that he did not think first of his subject,
"Knight, Death, and the Devil," which helped make his fame. In that
picture we have a knight, helmeted, carrying his lance, mounted upon
his horse, riding in a lonely forest, with death upon a "pale horse"
by his side, holding an hour glass to remind the knight of the
fleeting of time. Behind comes the devil, with trident and horn,
represented as a frightful and disgusting beast, which follows
hot-foot after the lonely knight, who looks neither to right nor left,
but persistently goes his way.
Titian's teacher, Bellini, was still living, and he was one of Drer's
greatest admirers. Especially did he believe that he could paint the
finest hair of any artist in the world. One day, while studying
Drer's work, and being especially fascinated by the hair of one of
his figures, the old man took Drer's brush and tried to reproduce as
beautiful a tress. Presently he put down the brush in despair, but the
younger artist took it up, still wet with the same colours, and in a
few brilliant strokes produced a lovely lock of woman's hair.
While luxuriating in Venetian heat, Drer wrote home to his friend
Pirkheimer: "Oh, how I shall freeze after this sunshine!" He was a
lover of warm, beautiful colour, gay and tender life. Most of all he
loved the fatherland, and all the honours paid him and all the
invitations pressed upon him could not keep him long from
Nuremberg. The journey homeward was not uneventful because he was
taken ill, and had to stop at a house on his way, where he was cared
for till he was strong enough to proceed. Before he went his way he
painted upon the wall of that house a fine picture, to show his
gratitude for the kind treatment he had received. Imagine a people so
settled in their homes that it would be worth while for an artist who
came along to leave a picture upon the walls to-day--we should have
moved to a new house or a new flat almost before Drer could have
washed his brushes and turned the corner.
Back in Nuremberg, he settled down into the life of a responsible
citizen, lived in a fine new house, in time became a member of the
council, and his studio was a veritable workshop. Studios were quite
different from those of to-day. Then the pupils turned to and ground
colours, did much of their own manufacturing, engaged at first in such
commonplace occupations, which were nevertheless teaching them the
foundation of their art, while they watched the work of the
master. Such a studio as Drer's must have been full of young men
coming and going, not all working at the art of painting, but
engraving, preparing materials for such work, designing, and executing
many other details of art work.
After this time Drer made his smallest picture, which is hardly more
than an inch in diameter. On that tiny surface he painted the whole
story of the crucifixion, and it is now in the Dresden Gallery. To
those of us who see little mentality in the faces of the Italian
subjects, the German art of Drer, often ugly in the choice of models,
and so exact as to bring out unpleasing details, is nevertheless the
greater; because in all cases, the faces have sincere expressions. They
exhibit human purposes and emotions which we can understand, and
despise or love as the case may be.
They say that his Madonna is generally a "much-dressed round-faced
German mother, holding a merry little German boy." That may be true;
but at any rate, she is every inch a mother and he a well-beloved
little boy, which is considerably more than can be said of some
Drer made a painting of "Praying Hands," a queer subject for a
picture, but those hands are nothing _but_ praying hands. The story of
them is touching. It is said that for several years Drer had won a
prize for which a friend of his had also competed, and upon losing the
prize the last time he tried for it, the friend raised his hands and
prayed for the power to accept his failure with resignation and
humility. Drer, looking at him, was impressed with the eloquence of
the gesture; thus the "Praying Hands" was conceived.
Drer was also called the _Father of Picture Books_, because he
designed so many woodcuts that he first made possible the illustration
He printed his own illustrations in his own house, and was well paid
for it. The Emperor Maximillian visited Nuremberg, and wishing to
honour Drer, commanded him to make a triumphal arch.
"It was not to be fashioned in stone like the arches given to the
victorious Roman Emperors; but instead it was to be composed of
engravings. Drer made for this purpose ninety-two separate blocks of
woodcuts. On these were represented Maximillian's genealogical tree
and the principal events of his life. All these were arranged in the
form of an arch, 9 feet wide and 10-1/2 feet high. It took Drer three
years to do this work, and he was never well paid," so says one who
has compiled many incidents of his life.
"While the artist worked, the Emperor often visited his studio; and as
Drer's pet cats often visited it at the same time, the expression
arose, 'a cat may look at a King!'"
On the occasion of one of these kingly visits, Maximillian tried to do
a little art-work on his own account. Taking a piece of charcoal he
tried to sketch, but the charcoal kept breaking and he asked Drer why
it did so.
"That is my sceptre; your Majesty has other and greater work to do,"
was the tactful reply. It is a question with us to-day whether the
King ever did a greater work than Albrecht Drer, king of painters,
After this, Maximillian gave Drer a pension, but when the Emperor
died the artist found it necessary to apply to the monarch who came
after him, in order to have the gift confirmed. This was the occasion
for his journey to the Low Countries, and he took his wife Agnes with
him. In the Netherlands he was received with much honour and was
invited to become court painter; and what was more, his pension was
fixed upon him for life. The great work of his life was his
illustration of the Apocalypse. For this he made sixteen extraordinary
woodcuts, of great size.
On his journey to see Charles V., Maximillian's successor, Drer kept
a diary in which he noted the minutest details of all that happened to
him. He told of the coronation of Charles; of hearing about a whale
that had been cast upon the shore; of his disappointment that it had
been removed before he had reached the place. He wrote with great
indignation about the supposed kidnapping of Martin Luther, while he
was on his way home from the Diet of Worms.
While Drer was in the Low Countries, a fever came upon him, and when
he returned home, it still followed him. Indeed, although he lived for
seven years after his return, he was never well again. Among his
effects there was a sketch made to indicate to his physician the seat
of his illness.
Drer did not paint great frescoes upon walls as did Raphael, Michael
Angelo, and all great Italian artists; but instead he painted on wood,
canvas, and in oils.
In all the civilised world Drer was honoured equally with the great
Italian painters of his time. He was a man of much conscientiousness,
dignity, and tenderness. He was devoted to his home and country, and
regarded the problems of life intellectually. When he came to die, his
end was so unexpected that those dearest to him could not reach his
bedside. He was buried in St. John's cemetery in Nuremberg. After his
death, Martin Luther wrote as follows to their mutual friend, Eoban
"As for Drer; assuredly affection bids us mourn for one who was the
best of men, yet you may well hold him happy that he has made so good
an end, and that Christ has taken him from the midst of this time of
troubles, and from yet greater troubles in store, lest he, that
deserved to behold nothing but the best, should be compelled to behold
the worst. Therefore may he rest in peace with his fathers, Amen."
Our description of this painting calls attention to the fact that the
columns and arches of the picturesque ruin belong to a much later
period in history than the birth of Christ. Drer was not acquainted
with any earlier style of architecture than the Romanesque and
therefore he used it here. "The ruin serves as a stable. A roof of
board is built out in front of the side-room which shelters the ox and
ass, and under this lean-to lies the new born babe surrounded by
angels who express their childish joy. Mary kneels and contemplates
her child with glad emotion. Joseph, also deeply moved, kneels down on
the other side of the child, outside the shelter of the roof. Some
shepherds to whom the angel, who is still seen hovering in the air,
has announced the tidings, are already entering from without the
walls." (Knackfuss). The picture is the central panel of an
altar-piece now in the Old Pinakothek at Munich. Drer's oil painting
of the four apostles--John, Peter, Mark, and Paul--is in the same
gallery. Other Drer pictures are: "The Knight, Death and the Devil,"
"The Adoration of the Magi," "Melancholy," and portraits of himself.
(Pronounced Mah-ree-ah-no' For-tu'ne)
_Pupil of Claudio Lorenzalez_
Fortuny won his own opportunities. He took a prize, while still very
young, which made it possible for him to go to Rome where he wished to
study art. He did not spend his time studying and copying the old
masters as did most artists who went there, but, instead, he studied
the life of the Roman streets.
He had already been at the Academy of Barcelona, but he did not follow
his first master; instead, he struck out a line of art for
himself. After a year in Rome the artist went to war; but he did not
go to fight men, he was still fighting fate, and his weapon was his
sketch book. He went with General Prim, and he filled his book with
warlike scenes and the brilliant skies of Morocco. From that time his
work was inspired by his Moorish experiences.
After going to war without becoming a soldier, Fortuny returned to
Paris and there he became fast friends with Meissonier, so that a good
deal of his work was influenced by that artist's genius. After a time
Fortuny's paintings came into great vogue and far-off Americans began
buying them, as well as Europeans. There was a certain rich dry-goods
merchant in the United States who had made a large fortune for those
days, and while he knew nothing about art, he wanted to spend his
money for fine things. So he employed people who did understand the
matter to buy for him many pictures whose excellence he, himself,
could not understand, but which were to become a fine possession for
succeeding generations. This was about 1860, and this man,
A.T. Stewart, bought two of Fortuny's pictures at high prices. "The
Serpent Charmer," and "A Fantasy of Morocco."
When Fortuny was thirty years old he married the daughter of a
Spaniard called Madrazo, director of the Royal Museum. His wife's
family had several well known artists in it, and the marriage was a
very happy one. Because of this, Fortuny was inspired to paint one of
the greatest of his pictures, "The Spanish Marriage." In it are to be
seen the portraits of his wife and his friend Regnault. After a time
he went to live in Granada; but he could never forget the beautiful,
barbaric scenes in Morocco, and so he returned there. Afterward he
went with his wife to live in Rome, and there they had a fine home and
everything exquisite about them, while fortune and favour showered
upon them; but he fell ill with Roman fever, because of working in the
open air, and he died while he was comparatively a young man.
PLATE--THE SPANISH MARRIAGE
Fortuny is said to "split the light into a thousand particles, till
his pictures sparkle like jewels and are as brilliant as a
kaleidoscope.... He set the fashion for a class of pictures, filled
with silks and satins, bric-
-brac and elegant trifling."
Look at the brilliant scene in this picture! The priest rising from
his chair and leaning over the table is watching the bridegroom sign
his name. This chap is an old fop, bedecked in lilac satin, while the
bride is a dainty young woman, without much interest in her husband,
for she is fingering her beautiful fan and gossiping with one of her
girl friends. She wears orange-blossoms in her black hair and is in
full bridal array. One couple, two men, sit on an elegantly carved
seat and are looking at the goings-on with amusement, while an old
gentleman sits quite apart, disgusted with the whole unimpressive
scene. Everybody is trifling, and no one is serious for the
occasion. The furnishings of the room are beautiful, delicate, almost
frivolous. People are strewn about like flowers, and the whole effect
is airy and inconsequent. Fortuny painted also "The Praying Arab," "A
Fantasy of Morocco," "Snake Charmers," "Camels at Rest," etc.
_Pupil of Gravelot and of Hayman_
There seems to have been no artist, with the extraordinary exceptions
of Drer and Leonardo, who learned his lessons while at school. Little
painters have uniformly begun as bad spellers.
Gainsborough's father was in the business of woolen-crape making,
while his mother painted flowers, very nicely, and it was she who
taught the small Thomas. There were nine little Gainsboroughs and,
shocking to relate, the artist of the family was so ready with his
pencil that when he was ten years old he forged his father's name to a
note which he took to the schoolmaster, and thereby gained himself a
holiday. There is no account of any other wicked use to which he put
his talent. It is said that he could copy any writing that he saw, and
his ready pencil covered all his copy-books with sketches of his
schoolmasters. It was thought better for him finally to follow his own
ideas of education, namely, to roam the woodlands and make beautiful
His father's heart was not softened till one day little Gainsborough
brought home a sketch of the orchard into which the head of a man had
thrust itself, painted with great ability. This man was a poacher, and
father Gainsborough recognised him by the portrait. There seemed to be
utility in art of this kind, and before long the boy found himself
apprenticed to a silversmith.
Through the silversmith the artist got admission to an art school and
began his studies; but his master was a dissolute fellow, and before
long the pupil left him.
Gainsborough was born in the town of Sudbury on the River Stour, the
same which inspired another great painter half a century
later. Gainsborough is best known by his portraits, in particular as
the inventor of "the Gainsborough hat," but he was first of all a
truly great landscape painter, and learned his art as Constable did
after him, along the beautiful shores of the river that flowed past
his native town.
The old Black Horse Inn is still to be seen, and it was in the orchard
behind it that he studied nature, the same in which he made the first
of his famous portraits, that of the poacher. It is known to this day
as the portrait of "Tom Pear-tree." That picture was copied on a piece
of wood cut into the shape of a man, and it is in the possession of
Mr. Jackson, who lent it for the exhibition of Gainsborough's work
held at the Grosvenor Gallery, in 1885.
While Thomas was with his first master, by no means a good companion
for a lad of fifteen, he lived a busy, self-respecting life, since he
was devoted to his home and to his parents. Only three years after he
set out to learn his art he married a young lady of Sudbury. The pair
were by no means rich, Gainsborough having only eighteen years of
experience in this world, besides his brush, and a maker of
woolen-crape shrouds for a father--who was not over pleased to have an
artist for a son. The lady had two hundred pounds but this did not
promise a very luxurious living, so they took a house for six pounds a
year, at Ipswich. Thus the two young lovers began their life
together. There was a good deal of romance in the story of his wife,
whose name was supposed to be Margaret Burr. The two hundred pounds
that helped to pay the Ipswich rent did not come from the man accepted
as her father, but from her real father, who was either the Duke of
Bedford, or an exiled prince. This would seem to be just the sort of
story that should surround a great painter and his affairs.
While he lived at Ipswich Gainsborough used to say of himself that he
was "chiefly in the face-way" meaning that for the most part he made
portraits. He loved best to paint the scenes of his boyhood, as
Constable afterward did, but he soon found there was more money in
portraits, and so he decided to go to live in Bath, the fashionable
resort of English people in that day, where he was likely to find rich
folk who wanted to see themselves on canvas. He settled down there
with his wife, whom he loved dearly, and his two daughters and at once
began to make money. It is said he painted five hours a day and all
the rest of the time studied music. As the theatre was Corot's
greatest happiness, so did music most delight Gainsborough, and he
could play well on nearly every known instrument; he became so
excellent a musician that he even gave concerts. He had the most
delightful people about him, people who loved art and who appreciated
him, and then there were the other people who paid for having
themselves painted. Altogether it was an ideal situation.
His studio was in the place known as the "Circus" at Bath, and people
came and went all day, for it became the fashionable resort for all
the fine folks.
From five guineas for half length portraits, he soon raised his price
to forty; he had charged eight for full length portraits, but now they
went for one hundred. He painted some famous men of the time. The very
thought is inspiring of such a company of geniuses with Gainsborough
in the centre of the group. He painted Laurence Sterne, who wrote "The
Sentimental Journey," and a few other delightful things; also Garrick,
the renowned actor.
Even the encyclopdia reads thrillingly upon this subject and one can
afford to quote it, with the feeling that the quotation will be read:
"His house harboured Italian, German, French and English musicians. He
haunted the green room of Palmer's Theatre, and painted gratuitously
the portraits of many of the actors. He gave away his sketches and
landscapes to any one who had taste or assurance enough to ask for
them." This sounds royal and exciting.
After that Gainsborough went up to London with plenty of money and
plenty of confidence and instead of six pounds a year for his house,
he paid three hundred pounds, which suggests much more comfort.
There were two other great painters of the time in London, Sir
Benjamin West--an American, by the way--and Sir Joshua Reynolds. West
was court favourite, but Gainsborough too was called upon to paint
royalty, and share West's honours. Reynolds was the favourite of the
town, but he too had to divide honours with Gainsborough when the
latter painted Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Edmund Burke and Sir William
Notwithstanding, his landscapes, for which he should have been most
famous, did not sell. Everybody approved of them, but it is said they
were returned to him till they "stood ranged in long lines from his
hall to his painting room" Gainsborough was a member of the Royal
Academy and also a true Bohemian. He cared little for elegant society,
but made his friends among men of genius of all sorts. He was very
handsome and impulsive, tall and fair, and generous in his ways; but
he had much sorrow on account of one of his daughters, Mary, who
married Fischer, a hautboy player, against her father's wishes. The
girl became demented--at least she had spells of madness.
When Mary Gainsborough married, her father wrote the following letter
to his sister, which shows that he was a man of tender feeling for
those whom he truly loved:
" ... I had not the least suspicion of the attachment being so long
and deeply seated; and as it was too late for me to alter anything
without being the cause of total unhappiness on both sides, my
consent ... I needs must give ... and accordingly they were married
last Monday and settled for the present in a ready-furnished little
house in Curzon Street, Mayfair ... I can't say I have any reason to
doubt the man's honesty or goodness of heart, as I never heard anyone
speak anything amiss of him, and as to his oddities and temper, she
must learn to like them as she likes his person ... Peggy has been
very unhappy about it, but I endeavour to comfort her." Peggy was his
The abominable Fischer died twenty-years before Mary did--she lived to
be an old, old woman.
Among those whom Gainsborough loved best was the man called Wiltshire
who carried his pictures to and from London. He was a public "carrier"
but would never take any money for his services to the artist, because
he loved his work. All he asked was "a little picture"--and he got so
many of these, given in purest affection, that he might have gone out
of business as a carrier, had he chosen to sell them. Four of those
little pictures are now very great ones worth thousands of pounds and
known everywhere to fame. They are "The Parish Clerk," "Portrait of
Quin," "A Landscape with Cattle," and "The Harvest Waggon."
We have a good many stories of Gainsborough's bad manners. The artists
of his day tried to treat him with every consideration, but in return
he treated them very badly, especially Sir Joshua Reynolds. Reynolds,
who was then President of the Academy greatly admired Gainsborough but
the latter would not return Sir Joshua's call, and when Reynolds asked
him to paint his portrait for him, Gainsborough undertook it
thanklessly. Sir Joshua left town for Bath for a time, and when he
returned he tried to learn how soon the portrait would be finished,
but Gainsborough would not even reply to his inquiry. There seems to
have been no reason for this behaviour unless it was jealousy, but it
made a most uncomfortable situation between fellow artists.
Gainsborough has told some not very pleasing stories about himself,
but one of them shows us what a knack he had for seeing the comic side
of things, and perhaps for seeing comedy where it never existed. Upon
one occasion he was invited to a friend's house where the family were
in the habit of assembling for prayers, and he had no sooner got
inside, than he began to fear he should laugh, when prayer time came,
at the chaplain. In a rush of shyness he fled, leaving his host to
look for him, till he stumbled over a servant who said that
Mr. Gainsborough had charged him to say he had gone to breakfast at
Salisbury. Even respect for the customs of others could not make him
It was through his intimacy with King George's family that his quarrel
with the Royal Academy came about. He had painted the three
princesses--the Princess Royal, Princesses Augusta and Elizabeth, and
these were to be hung at a certain height in Carlton House, but when
he sent the first to the Academy he asked it to be specially hung and
his request was refused. Then he sent a note as follows:
"He begs pardon for giving them so much trouble, but he has painted
the picture of the princesses in so tender a light that,
notwithstanding he approves very much of the established line for
strong effects, he cannot possibly consent to have it placed higher
than eight feet and a half, because the likeness and the work of the
picture will not be seen any higher, therefore at a word he will not
trouble the gentlemen against their inclination, but will beg the best
of his pictures back again." Immediately, the Academy returned his
pictures, although it would seem that they might better have
accommodated Gainsborough than have lost such a fine exhibition. He
never again would send anything to them.
He was inclined to be irritated by inartistic points in his sitters,
and is said to have muttered when he was painting the portrait of
Mrs. Siddons, the great actress: "Damn your nose madam; there is no
end to it." The nose in question must have been an "eyesore" to more
than Gainsborough, for a famous critic is said to have declared that
"Mrs. Siddons, with all her beauty was a kind of female Johnson ...
her nose was not too long for nothing."
Notwithstanding that his landscapes were not popular, he used to go
off into the country to indulge his taste for painting them, and once
he wrote to a friend that he meant to mount "all the Lakes at the next
Exhibition in the great style, and you know, if people don't like
them, it's only jumping into one of the deepest of them from off a
wooded island and my reputation will be fixed forever." An old lady,
whose guest he was, down in the country, told how he was "gay, very
gay, and good looking, creating a great sensation, in a rich suit of
drab with laced ruffles and cocked hat."
One of the boys he saw in the country he delighted to paint, and he
also grew so much attached to him that he took him to London and kept
him with him as his own son. That boy's name was Jack Hill and he did
not care for city life, nor maybe for Gainsborough's eccentricities,
so he ran away. He was found again and again, till one day he got away
for good, and never came back.
All his later life Gainsborough was happy. His daughter, who had
married Fischer, the hautboy-player, came back home to live, and her
disorder was not bad enough to prevent her being a cause of great
happiness to her father. The other daughter never married.
Gainsborough says that he spent a thousand pounds a year, but he also
gave to everybody who asked of him, and to many who asked nothing, so
that he must have made a great deal of money during his lifetime, by
his art. It is said that the "Boy at the Stile" was bestowed on
Colonel Hamilton for his fine playing of a solo on the violin. A lady
who had done the artist some trifling service received twenty drawings
as a reward, which she pasted on the walls of her rooms without the
slightest idea of their value.
Gainsborough got up early in the morning, but did not work more than
five hours. He liked his friends, his music, and his wife, and spent
much time with them. He was witty, and while he sketched pictures in
the evening, with his wife and daughters at his side, he kept them
laughing with his droll sayings.
The last days of Gainsborough showed him to be a hero. He died of
cancer, and some time before he knew what his disease was he must have
suffered a great deal. There is a story that is very pathetic of a
dinner with his friends, Beaumont and Sheridan. Usually, he was the
gayest of the gay, but of late all his friends had noticed that gaiety
came to him with effort. Upon the night of this dinner, Sheridan had
been his wittiest, and had tried his hardest to make Gainsborough
cheer up, till finally, the artist, finding it impossible to get out
of his sad mood, asked Sheridan if he would leave the table and speak
with him alone. The two friends went out together. "Now don't laugh,
but listen," Gainsborough said; "I shall soon die. I know it; I feel
it. I have less time to live than my looks infer, but I do not fear
death. What oppresses my mind is this: I have many acquaintances, few
friends; and as I wish to have one worthy man to accompany me to the
grave, I am desirous of bespeaking you. Will you come? Aye or no!" At
that Sheridan, who was greatly shocked, tried to cheer him, but
Gainsborough would not return to the table, till he got the promise,
which of course Sheridan made.
It was not very long after this that a famous trial took place--that
of Warren Hastings. It was in Westminster Hall, and Gainsborough went
to listen several times. On the last occasion, he became so interested
in what was happening that he did not notice a window open at his
back. After a little he said to a friend that he "felt something
inexpressibly cold" touch his neck. On his return home he told of the
strange feeling to his wife. Then he sent for a doctor, and there was
found a little swelling. The doctor said it was not serious and that
when the weather grew warmer it would disappear; but all the while
Gainsborough felt certain that it would mean his death. A short time
after that he told his sister that he knew himself to have a cancer,
and that was true.
When he felt that he must die, he fell to thinking of many things in
the past, and wished to right certain mistakes of his behaviour as far
He sent to Sir Joshua Reynolds and asked him to come and see him,
since he could not go to see Sir Joshua. Reynolds went and then
Gainsborough told him of his regret that he had shown so much ill-will
and jealousy toward so great and worthy a rival. Reynolds was very
generous and tried to make Gainsborough understand that all was
forgiven and forgotten. He left his brother artist much relieved and
happier, and he afterward said: "The impression on my mind was that
his regret at losing life was principally the regret of leaving his
art." As Reynolds left the dying man's room, Gainsborough called after
him: "We are all going to heaven--and Van Dyck is of the company."
He was buried in Kew Churchyard and the ceremonies were followed by
Reynolds and five of the Royal Academicians, who forgot all
Gainsborough's eccentricities of conduct toward them in their honest
grief over his death. He was one of the first three dozen original
members of the Royal Academy.
PLATE--PORTRAIT OF MRS. RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN
This picture is now in the collection of Lord Rothschild,
London. Mrs. Sheridan was the loveliest lady of her time. She was the
daughter of Thomas Linley, and a singer.
She came from a home which was called "a nest of nightingales,"
because all in it were musicians. The father had a large family and
made up his mind to become the best musician of his time in his
locality in order to support them. He was successful, and in turn most
of his children became musicians. His lovely daughter, Eliza
(Mrs. Sheridan), he bound to himself as an apprentice and taught her
till she was twenty-one, insisting that she "serve out her time" to
him, that she might become a perfect singer. The story of this
beautiful lady seems to belong to the story of Gainsborough's portrait
and shall be told here.
When she was a very little girl, no more than eight years old, she was
so beautiful that as she stood at the door of the pump room in Bath to
sell tickets for her father's concerts, everyone bought them from
her. When she was a very young woman her father engaged her to marry a
Mr. Long, sixty years old. She did not seem to mind what arrangements
her father made for her, but continued to sing and attend to her
business, till after the wedding gowns were all made and everything
ready for the marriage, when she happened to meet the brilliant
Richard Brinsley Sheridan, whose plays were so fashionable, and she
fell deeply in love with him. She told Mr. Long she would not marry
him, and without much objection he gave her up, but her father was
very angry and he threatened to sue Mr. Long for letting his daughter
go. Then the beautiful lady ran away to Calais and married
Mr. Sheridan without her father's permission; but she came home again
and said nothing of what she had done, kept on singing and helping her
father earn money for his family. One day, Mr. Sheridan was wounded in
a duel which he had fought with one of his wife's admirers, and when
she heard the news she screamed, "my husband, my husband," so that
everybody knew she was married to the fascinating playwright. Sheridan
for some reason did not at once come and get her, nor arrange for them
to have a home together. For a good while she continued to sing; and
once hearing her in oratorio, Sheridan fell in love with his wife all
over again. He took her from her home and would never let her sing
again in public. They remarried publicly and went to live in
London. He was not at all a rich and famous man at that time--only a
poor law-student--but he would not let his wife make the fortune she
might easily have made, by singing.
This must have made his beautiful wife very sad, but she made no
complaint at giving up her music and letting him silence her lovely
voice, but turned all her attention to advancing his fortunes. She
worked for him even harder than she had for her father, and that was
saying a great deal. When he became a great writer of plays his wife
took charge of all the accounts of his Drury Lane Theatre, and when he
was in the House of Commons she acted as his secretary. Sheridan died
in great poverty and wretchedness, and it is believed had his
self-sacrificing wife not died before him she would have looked after
his affairs so well that he would not have lost his fortune.
Gainsborough painted the portraits of Sheridan's father-in-law, and of
Samuel Linley; and it was said that this last portrait was painted in
forty-eight minutes. Among his other portraits are: eight of George
III., Sir John Skynner, Admiral Hood, Colonel St. Leger, and "The Blue
Boy"; but he was first and last a landscape painter of highest genius.
JEAN LEON GEROME
(Pronounced Zhahn Lay'on Zhay-rome)
_French, Semi-classical School_
_Pupil of Delaroche_
One cannot write much more than the date of birth and death of a man
who lived until three or four years of the time of writing, so we may
only say that Grme was one of the most brilliant of modern French
painters. He was born at Vesoul and his father was a goldsmith. Thus
he probably had no very great difficulty in getting a start in his
work. The prejudice against having an artist in the family was dying
out, and as a prosperous goldsmith we may believe that his father had
means enough to give his son good opportunities.
Grme, like Millet, studied under Delaroche, but became no such
characteristic painter as he. While studying with Delaroche he also
was taking the course in l'Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
His first exhibited picture was "The Cock Fight," and he won a third
class medal by it.
Almost always this painter has chosen his subjects from ancient or
classic life, and his pictures are not always decent, but he painted
with much care, the details of his work are very finely done and their
vivid colour is fascinating.
PLATE--THE SWORD DANCE
This painting may be seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New
York City. The scene is full of action and interest, but perhaps the
details of dress, mosaic decoration upon the walls, patterns of the
rugs, the coloured and jewelled lamps and windows are the most
splendidly painted of all.
The central figure is a dancing girl, only partly draped, balancing a
sword on her head, while a brilliant green veil flies from head and
face. Other Oriental women squat upon the floor watching her with a
half indolent expression, while their Oriental masters and their
friends sit in pomp at one side, absorbed in the dance and in the
girl. The expressions upon all the faces are excellent and, the
jewelled light that falls upon the group, the rich clothing, the grace
of the dancer--all make a fascinating picture of a genre type. Other
Grmes are "Daphnis and Chloe," "Leda," and "The Duel after the
_Pupil of Fra Bartolommeo_
It is a good deal of a name--Domenico di Tommaso di Currado
Bigordi--and it would appear that the child who bore it was under
obligation to become a good deal of a something before he died.
Italian and Spanish painters generally had large names to live up to,
and the one known as Ghirlandajo did nobly.
His father was a goldsmith and a popular part of his work was the
making of golden garlands for the hair of rich Italian ladies. His
work was so beautiful that it gained for him the name of Ghirlandajo,
meaning the garland-twiner, a name that lived after him, in the great
art of his son. Domenico began as a worker in mosaic, a maker of
pictures or designs with many coloured pieces of glass or stone.
Ghirlandajo's art was no improvement on that of his teacher, but he in
turn became the teacher of Michael Angelo.
The Florentine school of painting, to which Ghirlandajo belonged, was
not so famous for colour as the Venetian school, but it had many other
elements to commend it. One cannot expect Ghirlandajo to rank with
Titian, Rubens, or other "colourists" of his own and later periods,
but he did the very best work of his day and school. He attained to
fame through his choice of types of faces for his models, and by his
excellent grouping of figures.
Until his day, the faces introduced into paintings were likely to be
unattractive, but he chose pleasing ones, and he painted the folds of
garments beautifully. He was not entirely original in his ideas, but
he carried out those which others had thus far failed to make
Often, in his wish to paint exactly what he saw, he softened nothing
and therefore his figures were repulsive, but Fra Bartolommeo's pupil
gave promise of what Michael Angelo was to fulfill.
Ghirlandajo and Michael Angelo were a good deal alike in their
emotional natures. Both sought great spaces in which to paint, and
both chose to paint great frescoes. Indeed Ghirlandajo had the
extraordinary ambition to put frescoes on all the fortification walls
about Florence. It certainly would have made the city a great picture
gallery to have had its walls forever hung with the pictures of one
master. Had he painted them, inside and out, when such an enemy as
Napoleon came along, with his love of art, and his fashion of taking
all that he saw to Paris, he would likely enough have camped outside
the walls while he decided what part of the gallery he would transfer
to the Louvre.
One of the reasons that Ghirlandajo is famous is that he often chose
well known personages for his models, and as he painted just what he
saw, did not idealise his subject, he gave to the world amazing
portraits, as well as fine paintings. The same thing was done by
painters of a far different school, at another period. The Dutch and
Flemish painters were in the habit of using their neighbours as
Ghirlandajo is classed among religious painters, but let us compare
some of his "religious" paintings with those of Raphael or Murillo,
and see the result.
He painted seven frescos on the walls of the Santa Maria Novella in
Florence, all scenes of Biblical history, as Ghirlandajo imagined
them. They show him to have been a fine artist, but to have had not
much idea of history, and to have had little sense of fitness.
Ghirlandajo's seven subjects are taken from legends of the Virgin, and
the greatest represents Mary's visit to Elizabeth; it is called "The
Visitation," and it is a fresco about eighteen feet long painted on
the choir wall.
Let us imagine the possible scene. The Virgin Mary came from Cana, a
little town in Galilee placed in the hills about nine miles from
Nazareth, the home of the lowliest and the poorest, of a kindly
pastoral people living in the open air, needing and wanting very
little, simple in their habits. Elizabeth, Mary's old cousin, lived in
Judea, and St. Luke writes thus: "Mary arose in those days and went
into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judea; and entered
into the house of Zacharias" (Elizabeth's husband) "and saluted
This record had been made at least eleven hundred years before
Ghirlandajo painted in the Santa Maria Novella, and from it one cannot
imagine that Mary made any preparation for her journey, nor does it
suggest that Elizabeth had any chance to arrange a reception for
her. Even had she done so, it must have been of the simplest
description, at that time among those people. One can imagine a lowly
home; an aged woman coming out to meet her young relative either at
her door or in the high road.
There may have been surroundings of fruit and flowers, a stretch of
highroad or a hospitable doorway; but the wildest imagination could
not picture what Ghirlandajo did.
He paints Elizabeth flanked with handmaidens, as if she were some
royal personage, instead of a priest's wife in fairly comfortable
circumstances where comfort was easily obtained. Mary appears to be
escorted by ladies-in-waiting, hardly a likely circumstance since she
was affianced to no richer or more important person than a carpenter
of Galilee. Possibly the three ladies that stand behind Mary in, the
picture are merely lookers-on, but in that case the visit of Mary
would seem to have been of public importance, especially as there are
youths near by who are also much interested in one woman's hasty visit
to another. The rich brocades worn by Elizabeth's waiting ladies are
splendid indeed and the landscape is fine--a rich Italian landscape
with architecture of the most up-to-date sort--showing, in short, that
the artist lacked historical imagination. He found some models, made a
purely decorative painting with an Italian setting and called it "The
Visitation." The doorway on the right is distinctly renaissance.
Such a painting as this is not "religious," nor is it historic, nor
does it suggest a subject; it is merely a fine picture better coloured
than most of those of the Florentine school. There is another painting
of this same subject by Ghirlandajo in the Louvre, but it is no nearer
truth than the one in the Santa Maria.
Ghirlandajo painted other than religious subjects, and one of them, at
least, is quite repulsive. It is the picture of an old man, with a
beautiful little child embracing him. The old man may have tenderness
and love in his face, but his heavy features, his warty nose, do not
make one think of pleasant things and one does not care to imagine the
dear little child kissing the grotesque old fellow.
It was before Ghirlandajo's time that another painter had discovered
the use of oil in mixing paints. Previously colours had been mixed in
water with some gelatinous substance, such as the white and yolk of an
egg, to give the paint a proper texture or consistency. This
preparation was called "distemper," and frescoes were made by using
this upon plaster while it was still wet. Plaster and colours dried
together, and the painting became a part of the wall, not to be
removed except by taking the plaster with it.
The different gluey substances used had often the effect of making the
colours lose their tone and they presented a glazed surface when used
upon wood, a favourite material with artists.
There are numberless anecdotes written of this artist and his brother,
and one of these shows he had a temper. The brothers were engaged in a
monastery at Passignano painting a picture of the "Last Supper." While
at work upon it, they lived in the house. The coarse fare did not suit
Ghirlandajo, and one night he could endure it no longer. Springing
from his seat in the refectory he flung the soup all over the monk who
had served it, and taking a great loaf of bread he beat him with it so
hard that the poor monk was carried to his cell, nearly dead. The
abbot had gone to bed, but hearing the rumpus he thought it was
nothing less than the roof falling in, and he hurried to the room
where he found the brothers still raging over their dinner. David
shouted out to him, when the abbot tried to reprove the artist, that
his brother was worth more than any "pig of an abbot who ever lived!"
It is recorded in the documents found in the Confraternity of St. Paul
Domenico de Ghurrado Bighordi, painter, called del Grillandaio, died
on Saturday morning, on the 11th day of January, 1493 (o.s.), of a
pestilential fever, and the overseers allowed no one to see the dead
man, and would not have him buried by day. So he was buried, in Santa
Maria Novella, on Saturday night after sunset, and may God forgive
him! This was a very great loss for he was highly esteemed for his
many qualities, and is universally lamented.
The artist left nine children behind him.
Ghirlandajo's pictures may be found in the Louvre, the Berlin Museum,
the Dresden, Munich, and London galleries. Most children will find it
hard to see their beauty.
Great men are likely to come in groups, and with Ghirlandajo there are
associated Botticelli and Fra Filippo Lippi.
PLATE--PORTRAIT OF GIOVANNA DEGLI ALBIZI
This lovely lady was the wife of one of the painter's patrons,
Giovanni Tornabuoni, through whom he received the commission for a
series of frescoes in the choir of the Santa Maria Novella,
Florence. The subjects chosen were sacred, but since Ghirlandajo, no
more than his neighbours, knew what the Virgin or her contemporaries
looked like, he saw no reason why he should not compliment some of the
great ones of his own city and his own time by painting them in to
represent the different characters of Holy Writ. So, as one of the
ladies attendant upon Elizabeth when Mary comes to visit her, we have
this signora of the fifteenth century. The artist made another picture
of her, the one here shown, but in the same dress and posed the same
as she had been for the church fresco. This accounts for its dignity
and simplicity. It would seem like a bas-relief cut out of marble were
it not for its wonderful colouring. It is in the Rudolf Kann
Collection, Paris. This artist's other pictures are "Adoration of the
Shepherds," "Adoration of the Magi," "Madonna and Child with Saints,"
"Three Saints and God the Father," "Coronation of the Virgin," and
"Portrait of Old Man and Boy."
GIOTTO (DI BORDONE)
_Pupil of Cimabue_
Giotto painted upon wood, and in "distemper"--the mixture of colour
with egg or some other jelly-like substance. We know nothing of his
childhood except that he was a shepherd, as we learn from a story told
of him and his teacher, Cimabue.
The story runs that one day while Giotto was watching his sheep, high
up on a mountain, Cimabue was walking abroad to study nature, and he
ran across a shepherd boy who was drawing the figure of a sheep, with
a piece of slate upon a stone. In those days we can imagine how rare
it was to find one who could draw anything, ever so rudely.
Immediately Cimabue saw a chance to make an artist and he asked the
little shepherd if he would like to be taught art in his studio.
Giotto was overjoyed at the opportunity, and at once he left the
mountains for the town, the shepherd's crook for the brush.
In those days the studio of one like Cimabue was really a workshop.
Artists had to grind their own colours, prepare their own panels upon
which to paint, and do a hundred other things of a workman rather than
an artist kind in connection with their painting. Such a studio was
crowded with apprentices--boys who did these jobs while learning from
the master. Their teaching consisted in watching the artist and now
and then receiving advice from him.
It was into such a shop as this, in Florence, that Giotto went, and
soon he was to become greater than his master. Even so, we cannot
think him great, excepting for his time, because his pictures,
compared with later art, are crude, stiff, and strange.
No pupil was permitted to use a brush till he had learned all the
craft of colour grinding and the like, and this was supposed to take
about six years. These workshops were likely to be dull, gloomy
places, and only a strong desire to do such things as they saw their
master doing, would induce a boy to persevere through the first
drudgery of the work. Giotto persevered, and not only became an
original painter, at a time when even Cimabue hardly made figures
appear human in outline, but he designed the great Campanile in
Florence, and he saw it partly finished before he died. The Campanile
is a wonder of architecture, but Giotto's Madonnas had to be improved
upon, as certainly as he had improved upon those of Cimabue.
There are many amusing stories of Giotto, mainly telling of his good
nature, and his ugly appearance, which everyone forgot in appreciation
of his truly kind heart. Once a visit was made to his studio by the
King of Naples, after the artist had become famous. Giotto was
painting busily, though the day was very hot. The King entered, and
bade Giotto not to be disturbed but to continue his work, adding:
"Still, if I were you, I should not paint in such hot weather." Giotto
looked up with a laugh in his eye: "Neither would I--if I were you,
Sire!" he answered.
There is a famous saying: "As round as Giotto's "O," and this is how
it came about. The pope wanted the best of the Florentine artists to
do some work in Rome for him and he sent out to them for examples of
their work. When the pope's messenger came to Giotto the artist was
very busy. When asked for some of his work to show the pope, he
paused, snatched a piece of paper and with the brush he had been
using, which was full of red paint, he hurriedly drew a circle and
gave it to the messenger who stared at him.
"But--is this _all_?" he asked.
"All--yes--and too much. Put it with the others." This perfect circle
and the account the messenger gave of his visit so delighted the pope
that Giotto was chosen from all the Florentine artists to decorate the
Thus Giotto worked till he was fifty-seven or eight years old when he
put aside his brush and turned to sculpture and architecture. Meantime
he had far outstripped his master in art. The arrangement of the
groups is about the same, but the figures look human and the draperies
are more natural, while he gives the appearance of length, breadth,
and thickness to his thrones and enclosures. We shall not choose a
Madonna for illustration, but another of Giotto's masterpieces,
remembering that good as he was in his time, he seems amazingly bad
compared with those who came after him.
PLATE--THE MEETING OF ST. JOHN AND ST. ANNA AT JERUSALEM.
In 1303 a certain Enrico Scrovegno had a private chapel built in the
Arena at Padua and he sent for Giotto to come there and adorn the
whole of its walls and ceiling with frescoes. These remain, though the
chapel is now emptied of all else, and they suffice to bring scores of
art-lovers to Padua. The picture here reproduced represents the
meeting and reconciliation between the father and mother of the Virgin
before her birth. The peculiarly shaped eyes and eyebrows that Giotto
gives to all his characters are specially noteworthy here as in every
one of the thirty-eight frescoes. There are three rows of pictures,
one above the other and in them are portrayed the principal scenes in
the lives of Christ and the Virgin. The painter here reached his
high-water mark, showed the very best he could produce in sincere,
_Pupil of Karel Van Mander_
Franz Hals belonged to a family which for two hundred years had been
highly respected in Haarlem in the Netherlands. The father of the
painter left that town for political reasons in 1579, and it was at
Antwerp that Franz was born sometime between that date and 1585. His
parents took him back to Haarlem as an infant, and that is the town
with which his name and fame are most closely associated.
Little is known of his early life except that he began his studies
with Karel Van Mander and Cornelis Cornelissen. What we know of his
family life is not to his credit. In the parish register of 1611 is
recorded the birth of a son to Franz Hals and five years later he is
on the public records for abusing his wife, who died shortly
afterward. He married again within a year and the second wife bore him
many children and survived him ten years. Five of his seven sons
Franz Hals drank too much and mixed too freely with the kind of
disreputable people he loved to paint, but he never became so degraded
that his hand lost its cunning, or his eye its keen vision for that
which he wished to portray. In 1644, he was made a director of the
Guild of St. Lucas, an institution for the protection of arts and
crafts in Haarlem, but from that time onward he sank in popular
esteem, deservedly. He fell into debt, then into pauperism, and when
he died, about the age of eighty-six, he was buried at public expense
in the choir of St. Bavon Church in Haarlem.
It was in the year 1616 that Hals first became known as a master of
his art by the painting of the St. Jovis Shooting Company, one of the
clubs composed of volunteers banded together for the defence of the
town should occasion arise. Such guilds were common throughout
Holland, and they became a favourite subject with Hals, as with other
painters of the time, who vied with one another in portraiture of the
different members. These groups were hung upon the walls of the
chambers where meetings were held for social purposes in times of
peace. The men of highest rank are always given the most conspicuous
places in the pictures. The flag is generally the one bit of gorgeous
colour in the scene; but Franz Hals seized the opportunity to show his
wonderful skill in detail while painting the cuffs and ruffs worn by
these grandees. In all his work there is an impression of strength
rather than of beauty; it is the charm of expressiveness he is aiming
at, rather than the charm of grace and colour to which the Italian
school was devoted. He differed from that school, also, in his choice
of subjects, for he was distinctly and almost entirely a portrait
painter, and within his own limited range he is unsurpassed. A
wonderful collection of his works is to be seen in the Haarlem Town
PLATE--THE NURSE AND THE CHILD
Considering the woeful life that Franz Hals led, it is amazing to
think that he of all artists is the best painter of good humour. He
puts a smile on the face of nearly every one of his "leading
characters," whether it be a modest young girl, a hideous old woman, a
strolling musician, or a riotous soldier, and in every case the laugh
suits the subject. It may have been his own easygoing shiftlessness,
his way of casting care aside with a jest that enabled him to live so
long and to accomplish so much in spite of his poverty and other
The roguish look upon the face of this baby of the house of Ilpenstein
makes it appear older than the pleasant faced nurse. The dress of the
child is such as Hals delighted to spend his talents upon. The picture
is in the Berlin Gallery.
Among his best known paintings are "The Laughing Cavalier," "The
Fool," "The Man with the Sword," and "Hille Bobbe. the Witch of
_Pupil of Jacob van Ruisdael_
When a man becomes famous many people claim his acquaintance, and
often many places his birthplace. In Hobbema's case it has never been
decided whether he was born in the little town of Koeverdam, or in the
city of Haarlem or in Amsterdam. Nor is it quite certain when he was
born; but what he did afterward, we are all acquainted with.
No one knows much about the life of this artist, but his master was
doubtless his uncle, van Ruisdael. Hobbema was dead a hundred years
before the world acknowledged his genius, thus he reaped no reward for
hard work and ambition. He, like Rembrandt, died in great poverty, and
with nearly the same surroundings. Rembrandt died forsaken in
Roosegraft Street, Amsterdam, and Hobbema died in the same
locality. We must speak chiefly about his work, since we know little
of his personality or affairs.
If Bcklin's pictures seem to be composed of vertical lines, Hobbema's
are as startling in their positive vertical and horizontal lines
combined. We are not likely to find elevations or gentle, gradual
depressions in his landscapes, but straight horizons, long trunked,
straight limbed trees; and the landscape seems to be punctured here
and there by an upright house or a spire. It is startlingly beautiful,
and so characteristic that after seeing one or two of Hobbema's
pictures we are likely to know his work again wherever we may find it.
Hobbema got at the soul of a landscape. It was as if one painted a
face that was dear to one, and not only made it a good likeness but
also painted the person as one felt him to be--all the tenderness, or
maybe all the sternness.
It may be that Hobbema's failure to get money and honours, or at the
very least, kind recognition as a great artist, while he lived,
influenced his painting, and made him see mostly the sad side of
beauty, nor it is certain that his landscapes give one a strange
feeling of sadness and desolation, even when he paints a scene of
plenty and fulness.
The French have made a phrase for his kind of work, _paysage
intime_--meaning the beloved country--the one best known. It is a fine
phrase, and it was first used to describe Rousseau's and Corot's work;
but it especially applies to Hobbema's.
While this artist was not yet recognised, his uncle van Ruisdael was
known as a great artist. The family must have been rich in spirit that
gave so much genius to the world. Hobbema certainly loved his art
above all things, for he had no return during his lifetime, save what
was given by the joy of work. There are those who complain that
Hobbema was a poor colourist. True, he used little besides grays and a
peculiar green, which seemed especially to please him; but since that
colouring belonged to the subjects he chose, one cannot complain on
the ground that what he did was unsatisfying. For lack of knowledge
about him we can think of him as a man of moods, sad, desolate ones at
that; because his work is too extreme and uniform in its character for
us to believe his method was affected.
PLATE--THE AVENUE, MIDDELHARNIS, HOLLAND
This perhaps is one of the most characteristic of Hobbema's
pictures. Note a strange hopelessness in the scene, as well as
beauty. The tall and solemn trees, the high light upon the road,
suggesting to us all sorts of joys struggling through the
cheerlessness of life. What other artist would have chosen such a
corner of nature for a subject to paint? To quote a fine description:
"He loved the country-side, studied it as a lover, and has depicted it
with such intimacy of truth that the road to Middelharnis seems as
real to-day as it did over a hundred years ago to the artist. We see
the poplars, with their lopped stems, lifting their bushy tops against
that wide, high sky which floats over a flat country, full of billowy
clouds as the sky near the North Sea is apt to be. Deep ditches skirt
the road, which drain and collect the water for purposes of
irrigation, and later on will join some deeper, wider canal, for
purposes of navigation. We get a glimpse on the right, of patient
perfection of gardening, where a man is pruning his grafted fruit
trees; farther on a group of substantial farm buildings. On the
opposite side of the road stretches a long, flat meadow, or "polder,"
up to the little village which nestles so snugly around its tall
church tower; the latter fulfilling also the purpose of a beacon, lit
by night, to guide the wayfarer on sea and land; scene of tireless
industry, comfortable prosperity, and smiling peace. ... Pride and
love of country breathe through the whole scene. To many of us the
picture smiles less than it thrills with sadness. Perhaps it speaks
thus only to those who find a kind of hurt in the revival of the
spring, which promises so much and may fulfill so little."
Hobbema's "Watermill" is very well-known and so are his "Wooded
Landscape," and "Haarlem's Little Forest."
_School of Hogarth (English)_
William Hogarth, like Watteau, originated his own school; in short
there never was anybody like him. He was an editorial writer in
charcoal and paint, or in other words he had a story to tell every
time he made a picture, and there was an argument in it, a right and a
wrong, and he presented his point of view by making pictures.
English artists in literature and in painting have done some great
reformatory work. Charles Dickens overthrew some dreadful abuses by
writing certain novels. The one which has most interest for children
is the awful story of Dotheboys' Hall, which exposed the ill treatment
of pupils in a certain class of English schools. What Dickens and
Charles Reade did in literature, Hogarth undertook to do in
painting. He described social shams; painted things as they were, thus
making many people ashamed and possibly better.
Italians had always painted saints and Madonnas, but Hogarth pretended
to despise that sort of work, and painted only human beings. He did
not really despise Raphael, Titian, and their brother artists, but he
was so disgusted with the use that had been made of them and their
schools of art, to the entire exclusion of more familiar subjects,
that he turned satirist and ridiculed everything.
First of all, Hogarth was an engraver. He was born in London on the
10th December, 1697, and eighteen days later was baptised in the
church of St. Bartholemew the Great. His father was a school teacher
and a "literary hack," which means that in literature he did whatever
he could find to do, reporting, editing, and so on.
Hogarth must early have known something of vagabond life, for his
father's life during his own youth must have brought him into
association with all sorts of people. He knew how madhouses were run,
how kings dined, how beggars slept in goods boxes, and many other
Hogarth said of himself: "Shows of all sorts gave me uncommon pleasure
when an infant, and mimicry, common to all children, was remarkable in
me.... My exercises, when at school, were more remarkable for the
ornaments which adorned them, than for the exercises themselves." He
became an engraver or silver-plater, being apprenticed to Mr. Ellis
Gamble, at the sign of the "Golden Angel," Cranbourne Alley, Leicester
Engraving on silver plate was all well enough, but Hogarth aspired to
become an engraver on copper, and he has said that this was about the
highest ambition he had while he was in Cranbourne Alley.
The shop-card which he engraved for Mr. Ellis Gamble may have been the
first significant piece of work he undertook. The card is still among
the Hogarth relics. He set up as an engraver on his own account,
though he did study a little in Sir James Thornhill's art school; but
whatever he learned he turned to characteristic account.
He continued to make shop-cards, shop-bills, and book-plates. Finally,
in 1727, a maker of tapestry engaged Hogarth to sketch him a design
end he set to work ambitiously He worked throughout that year upon the
design, but when he took it to the man it was refused. The truth was
that the man who had commissioned the work had heard that Hogarth was
"an engraver and no painter," and he had so little intelligence that
he did not intend to accept his design, however much it might have
pleased him. Hogarth sued the man for his refusal and he won the
suit. He next began to make what he called "conversation pieces,"
little paintings about a foot high of groups of people, the figures
being all portraits. These were very fashionable for a time and made
some money for the artist. Both he and Watteau were fond of the stage,
and both painted scenes from operas and plays.
In time he moved into lodgings at the "Golden Head," in Leicester
Fields, and there he made his home. He had already begun the great
paintings which were to make him famous among artists. These were a
series of pictures, telling stories of fashionable and other life. His
own story of how he came to think of the picture series was that he
had always wished to present dramatic stories--present them in scenes
as he saw them on the stage.
He had married the daughter of Sir James Thornhill, and had never been
thought of kindly by his father-in-law till he made so much stir with
his first series. Then Sir James approved of him, and Hogarth found
life more pleasing.
There are very few anecdotes to tell of the artist's life, and the
story of his pictures is much more amusing. One of his first satires
was made into a pantomime by Theophilus Gibber, and another person
made it into an opera. Many pamphlets and poems were written about it,
and finally china was painted with its scenes and figures. There was
as much to cry as to laugh over in Hogarth's pieces and that is what
made them so truly great. One of his great picture series was called
the "Rake's Progress" and it was a warning to all young men against
leading too gay a life. It showed the "Rake" at the beginning of his
misfortunes, gambling, and in the last reaping the reward of his
follies in a debtor's prison and the madhouse. There are eight
pictures in that set.
In this series, especially in the fifth picture, there are
extraordinary proofs of Hogarth's completeness of ideas. Upon the wall
in the room wherein the "Rake" marries an old woman for her money, the
Ten Commandments are hung, all cracked, and the Creed also is cracked
and nearly smudged out; while the poor-box is covered with
cobwebs. The eight pictures brought to Hogarth only seventy guineas.
One of his pictures was suggested to him by an incident which greatly
angered him. He had started for France on some errand of his own, and
was in the very act of sketching the old gate at Calais, when he was
arrested as a spy. Now Hogarth was a hard-headed Englishman, and when
he was hustled back to England without being given time for argument,
he was so enraged that he made his picture as grotesque as possible,
to the lasting chagrin of France. He painted the French soldiers as
the most absurd, thin little fellows imaginable, and that picture has
largely influenced people's idea of the French soldier all over the
As Hogarth grew old he grew also a little bitter and revengeful toward
his enemies, often taking his revenge in the ordinary way of
belittling the people he disliked, in his paintings.
Hogarth came before Reynolds or Gainsborough; in short, was the first
great English artist, and his chief power lay in being able instantly
to catch a fleeting expression, and to interpret it. An incident of
Hogarth's youth illustrates this. He had got into a row in a pot-house
with one of the hangers-on, and when someone struck the brawler over
the head with a pewter pot, there, in the midst of excitement and
rioting, Hogarth whipped out his pencil and hastily sketched the
expression of the chap who had been hit.
Hogarth was friends with most of the theatre managers, and one of his
souvenirs was a gold pass given him by Tyers, the director of Vauxhall
Gardens, which entitled Hogarth and his family to entrance during
their lives. This was in return for some "passes," which Hogarth had
engraved for Tyer.
Upon one occasion Hogarth set off with some companions for a trip to
the Isle of Sheppey. Incidentally Forest wrote a sketch of their
journey and Hogarth illustrated it. That work is to be found,
carefully preserved, in the British Museum. The repeated copying and
reproduction for sale of his pictures brought about the first effort
to protect his works of art by copyright. But it was not till he had
done the "Rake's Progress" that he was able to protect himself at all,
and even then not completely.
Just before his death he was staying at Chiswick, but the day before
he died he was removed to his house in Leicester Fields. He was buried
in the Chiswick churchyard; and in that suburb of London may still be
seen his old house and a mulberry tree where he often sat amusing
children for whom he cared very much. Garrick wrote the following
epitaph for his tomb:
If Genius fire thee, Reader, stay;
If Nature touch thee, drop a tear;
If neither move thee, turn away,
For Hogarth's honour'd dust lies here.
Farewell, great Painter of Mankind!
Who reached the noblest point of art,
Whose pictured Morals charm the Mind
And through the Eye correct the Heart.
PLATE--THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT
The picture used in illustration here is part of probably the very
greatest art-sermon ever painted, called "Marriage
la Mode." The
story of it is worth telling:
"The first act is laid in the drawing-room of the Viscount
Squanderfield"--is not that a fine name for the character? "On the
left, his lordship is seated, pointing with complacent pride to his
family tree, which has its roots in William the Conqueror. But his
rent roll had been squandered, the gouty foot suggesting whither some
of it has gone; and to restore his fortunes he is about to marry his
heir to the daughter of a rich alderman. The latter is seated
awkwardly at the table, holding the marriage contract duly sealed,
signed and delivered; the price paid for it, being shown by the pile
of money on the table and the bunch of cancelled mortgages which the
lawyer is presenting to the nobleman, who refuses to soil his elegant
fingers with them. Over on the left is his weakling son, helping
himself at this critical turn of his affairs, to a pinch of snuff
while he gazes admiringly at his own figure in the mirror. The lady is
equally indifferent; she has strung the ring on to her finger and is
toying with it, while she listens to the compliments being paid to her
by Counsellor Silver-tongue. Through an open window another lawyer is
comparing his lordship's new house, that is in the course of building,
with the plan in his hand. A marriage so begun could only end in
misery." This is the first act, and the pictures that follow show all
the steps of unhappiness which the couple take. There are five more
acts to that painted drama, which is in the National Gallery, London.
HANS HOLBEIN, THE YOUNGER
(Pronounced Hahntz Hol'bine)
_Pupil of Holbein, the Elder_
There were three generations of painters in the Holbein family, and
the Hans of whom we speak was of the third. His grandfather was called
"old Holbein," and when more painters of the same name and family came
along it became necessary to distinguish them from each other thus:
"old Holbein," the "elder Holbein," and "young Holbein." The first one
was not much of an artist; still, in a locality where at best there
was not much art he was good enough to be remembered.
"Young Holbein" was born in Augsburg, which is in Swabia, in southern
Germany; "elder Holbein" and his father, Michael, "old Holbein," had
moved there from Schonenfeld, a neighbouring village, about forty
three years before little Hans was born, the old Michael bringing his
family to the larger town where it was easier to make a living.
The "elder Holbein" was a really good artist and well thought of in
Augsburg, and when little Hans's turn came he had no teacher but his
father, unless indeed we were to call him also a pupil of his elder
brother, Ambrosius. His uncle Sigismund, too, taught him something of
art, for the whole Holbein family seem to have been artists. Young
Holbein was never regularly apprenticed to any outsider.
Art was not then taught as it is now. The work of a beginner was often
to paint for his master certain details which it was thought that he
might handle properly, while the master occupied himself with what he
thought to be some more important part of the picture. It is said that
Hans often painted the draperies of his father's figures when his
father was engaged upon the altar pieces so fashionable at the
time. The Holbeins one and all must have been bad managers or
improvident; at any rate, Hans did not turn out well as a man and we
read that his father was always in debt and difficulty although he
received much money for his work and was not handicapped, like Drer's
father, by a family of eighteen children.
The story of the Holbeins is quite unlike that of the Drers, and not
nearly so attractive.
Some time before Hans was twenty years of age, the entire family had
packed up and gone to live in Lucerne, while Hans and his brother,
Ambrosius, went travelling together, as most young Germans went at
that time before they settled down to the serious work of life. The
last we hear of Ambrosius he had joined the painters' guild in Basel,
and probably he died not long afterward, or at any rate while he was
still young. There was in Basel a certain Hans Bar, for whose wedding
occasion Hans Holbein designed a table, on which he pictured an
allegory of "St. Nobody." This was very likely such work as our
cartoonists do to-day, but being the work of Holbein, it had great
artistic value. Besides that, he painted a schoolmaster's sign to be
hung outside the door.
As an illustrator, Holbein made the acquaintance of several authors
about that time and started on the high road to fame. He was a man of
very little conscience or fine feeling, and there could hardly be a
greater contrast than that between the clean sweet life of Drer and
the brawling, unfeeling one that Hans Holbein led.
Drer married, had no children, but tenderly loved and cared for his
wife, taking her with him upon his journeys and making her happy.
Holbein married and beat his wife; had several children and took care
of none of them. His wife grew to look old and worn while he remained
a gay looking sport, quite tired of one whom he had had on his hands
for ten years. He wandered everywhere and left his family to shift for
itself. One writer in speaking of the two men says:
"Drer would never have deserted his wife whom he took with him even
on his journey to the Netherlands; and he was bound by the same
tenderness to his native town. However much he rejoiced to receive a
visit from Bellini at Venice, or when at Antwerp, the artists
instituted, a torch-light procession in his honour, nothing could have
moved him to leave Nuremberg." Drer loved his home; Holbein hated
Holbein had a cold, light-blue eye; Drer a soft and tender
glance. While Drer lived he was the mainstay of his family--father
and brothers. Holbein's father died in misery and his brother's life
was disastrous, Hans doing nothing to serve them and looking on at
their sufferings indifferently.
There is a court document in existence which tells the particulars of
Hans Holbein's arrest for getting into a brawl with a lot of
goldsmiths' apprentices during a night of carousal. The court warned
him that he would be more severely punished if he did not cease his
lawless life and he was made to promise not to "jostle, pinch, nor
beat his lawful spouse." When he died he made no provision in his will
for his family. There is a picture of his wife, Elizabeth Schmidt, to
be seen in his "Madonna" at Solothurn Holbein used her for the
model. She then was young and blooming and the model for the child was
his own baby; at that time he found them useful.
His life of folly can hardly be excused by impulsiveness or emotion,
for his pictures show little of either. He was best at portrait
painting. At that time guilds and town councils wanted the portraits
of their members preserved in some way, and it was the habit of
painters like Holbein to form picturesque groups and give to such
dramatic groupings the features of townsmen. Rembrandt did this much
later than Holbein, when he painted the "Night Watch," or as it is
more properly called, "The Sortie."
Probably Holbein's first important work was to make title pages for
the second edition of Martin Luther's translation of the New
Testament. This MS. was made about the time that Holbein's work began
to be of interest to the public, and so the commission was given to
After a time this artist went to England with letters of introduction
to Sir Thomas More, Chancellor to King Henry VIII. Sir Thomas treated
him very kindly and set him to work making portraits of his own
family. During the time he was living at More's home in Chelsea, the
King himself, used frequently to visit there, and on one occasion he
saw the brilliant portraits of the More family and inquired about the
artist. Sir Thomas offered the King any of the pictures he liked, but
Henry VIII. asked to see the artist. When brought before him,
Holbein's fortune seemed to be made for the King asked him to go to
court and paint for him, remarking that "now he had the artist he did
not care about the pictures."
Holbein seems to have been a favourite with Henry and many anecdotes
are told of his life at Whitehall, where he went to live. Once while
Holbein was engaged upon a portrait, a nobleman insisted upon entering
his studio, after the artist had told him that he was painting the
portrait of a lady, by order of the King. The nobleman insisted upon
seeing it, but Holbein seized him and threw him down the Stairs; then
he rushed to the King and told what had happened. He had no sooner
finished than the nobleman appeared and told his story. The King
blamed the nobleman for his rudeness.
"You have not to do with Holbein," he said, "but with me. I tell you,
of seven peasants I can make seven lords, but of seven lords I cannot
make one Holbein. Begone! and remember that if you ever attempt to
avenge yourself, I shall look upon any injury offered to the painter
as done to myself."
It was Holbein who, visiting a brother artist and finding a picture on
the easel, painted a fly upon it. When the artist returned he tried to
brush the fly off, then set about looking for the one who had deceived
His portrait painting was so superb that he received many commissions.
Meantime, Sir Thomas More had fallen into disfavour with the King and
was to lose his head, but it is written that the artist's portraits
"betray nothing of this tragedy." He was as ready to climb to fame by
the favour of his generous patron's enemies as he had been to accept
the offices of Sir Thomas More. He painted the portraits of several of
the wives of Henry VIII., and it may be said that there was a good
deal of that monarch's temperament to be found in Holbein
himself. Take him all in all, Hans was as detestable as a man as he
was excellent as a painter.
In his adopted home in Lucerne, Holbein had painted frescoes, both on
the inside and the outside of a citizen's house, and this house stood
until 1824, when it was torn down to make way for street improvements,
but several artists hastily copied the frescoes so that they are not
Before he left Germany for England, Holbein had been commissioned to
decorate the town hall in Basel, and a certain amount of money was
voted for the work, but after he had finished three walls, he decided
that the money was only enough to pay him for what he had already
done. The councillors agreed with him, but as money was a little
"close" in Basel at that time, they felt unable to give him more, and
so voted to "let the back wall alone, till further notice."
He painted one Madonna whom he surrounded with the entire family of
Burgomaster Meyer, including even the burgomaster's first wife, who
was dead. This work is called the "Meyer Madonna."
It is said that after Holbein's return to Basel he, with others, was
persecuted for his "religious principles," but if this were true, his
persecutors went to considerable pains for nothing, because Holbein
was never known to have any sort of principles, religious or
otherwise. He was neither a Protestant, nor a Catholic but a painter,
a man without convictions and without thought. He did not care for
family, country, friends, politics, religion, nor for anything else,
so far as any one knows.
When he was asked why he had not partaken of the Sacrament, he
answered that he wanted to understand the matter better before he did
so. Thus he escaped punishment, and when matters were explained to
him, he did whatever seemed safest and most convenient under the
On his return to England, he settled among the colony of German and
Netherland merchants, who were in the habit of meeting at a place
called "The Steelyard," as their home and warehouses were grouped in
that locality, with a guild hall and a wineshop they alone patronised.
While associated with his compatriots Holbein made portraits of many
of them, and these are magnificent works of art. He painted them
separately or in groups; in their offices and in their guild hall, as
the case might be. The men whom he thus painted were: Gorg Gisze, Hans
of Antwerp, Derich Berck, Geryck Tybis, Ambrose Fallen, and many
others. He designed the arch which the guild erected upon the occasion
of Anne Boleyn's coronation, and he painted Henry's next Queen, Jane
Holbein painted many portraits of Henry VIII. and probably all those
dated after 1537 were either copies or founded upon the portrait which
Holbein made and which was destroyed with Whitehall.
While he painted for Henry, Holbein received a sort of retainer's fee
of thirty pounds a year, but he may have received sums for outside
commissions which he undertook. On one occasion, when he took a
journey to Upper Burgundy to paint a portrait of the Duchess whom
Henry contemplated making his next wife, the King gave him ten pounds
out of his own purse. We have no record of vast sums such as Raphael
Henry did not succeed in making the Duchess his wife, so Holbein was
sent to paint another--Anne of Cleves--that Henry might see what he
thought of her before he undertook to make her his queen. Holbein did
a disastrous deed, for he made Anne a very acceptable looking woman,
(the portrait hangs in the Louvre) and Henry negotiated for her on the
strength of that portrait. Later, when he saw her, he was utterly
disgusted and disappointed.
Holbein, notwithstanding this trick, was employed to paint the next
wife of Henry, and doubtless he also made the miniature of Catherine
Howard which is in Windsor Castle. Holbein finally died of the plague
and no one knows where he was buried. His wife died later, and it was
left for his son, Philip, who was said to be "a good well-behaved
lad," to bring honours to the family. He was apprenticed in Paris,
and, settling later in Augsburg, he founded a branch of the Holbein
family on which the Emperor Matthias conferred a patent of nobility,
making them the Holbeins of Holbeinsberg.
PLATE--ROBERT CHESEMAN WITH HIS FALCON
This is one of the best of the many splendid portraits Holbein
painted. It hangs in The Hague gallery. The gentleman was forty-eight
years old and in the portrait he wears a purplish-red doublet of silk
and a black overcoat, which was the fashion of the day, all trimmed
with fur. He has curly hair, just turning gray. His left hand is
gloved and on it he holds his falcon, while with the other hand he
strokes its feathers.
Of all sports at that time, falconry was the most fashionable and
every fine gentleman had his sporting birds. Robert Cheseman lived in
Essex. He was rich and a leader in English politics. His father was
"keeper of the wardrobe to Henry VIII." and he himself served in many
public offices. He was one of the gentleman chosen to welcome Anne of
Cleves when she landed on English soil to marry Henry VIII. These
details were first published by Mr. Arthur Chamberlain and are taken
from his sketch of Holbein and his works.
Among Holbein's other famous pictures are: "The Ambassadors," "Hans of
Antwerp," "Christina of Denmark," "Jane Seymour," "Anne of Cleves,"
and "St. George and the Dragon."
WILLIAM HOLMAN HUNT
_English (Pre-Raphaelite) School_
_Pupil of Academy School_
The story of the Pre-Raphaelites is all by itself a story of
art. Holman Hunt was one of three who formed this "brotherhood"; and
he, with one other, are the only ones whom some of us think worthy of
giving a place in art. This is to be the story of the brotherhood
rather than a story of one man.
The last great artist England had had before this extraordinary group,
was J. M. W. Turner, truly a wonderful man, but after him England's
painters became more and more commonplace, drawing further and further
away from truth, There was one, J. F. Lewis, who went away to Syria
and lived a lonely and studious life, trying to paint with fidelity
sacred scenes, but he was not great enough to do what his conscience
and desires demanded of him; and, finally, Constable declared that the
end of art in England had come. But it had not, for up in London, in
the very heart of the city, in Cheapside (Wood Street) there was born,
in April, 1827, a child destined to be a brilliant and wonderful man,
who was actually to rescue English art from death. Many do not think
thus, but enough of us do to warrant the statement.
The new artist was Holman Hunt. He was the son of a London
warehouseman, with no inclination whatever for learning, so that it
seemed simply a waste of time to send him to school. This continually
repeated history of artists who seem to know nothing outside their
brushes and colours, is astonishing, but it is true that artists for
the most part must be regarded as artists, pure and simple, and not as
men of even reasonably good intellectual attainments, and more or less
this accounts for their low estate centuries ago. One does not
associate "learning" and the artist. When we have such splendid
examples as Drer and two or three others we discuss their
intellectuality because they are so unusual.
Holman Hunt was like most of his brother artists in all but his
art. He hated school and at twelve years of age was taken from it. His
father wanted him to become a warehouse merchant like himself, and he
began life as clerk or apprentice to an auctioneer. He next went into
the employment of some calico-printers of Manchester. The designing of
calicoes can hardly be called art, even if the department of design
had fallen to Holman Hunt's lot and we have no evidence that it did,
but he started to be an artist nevertheless, there in the
print-shop. He found in his new place another clerk who cared for art;
and this sympathy encouraged him to fix his mind upon painting more
than ever. He used to draw such natural flies upon the window panes
that his employer tried one day to "shoo away a whole colony of flies
that seemed miraculously to have settled." This gave the clerks much
amusement, and also attracted attention to Holman Hunt's genius.
His very small salary was spent, not on his support, but in lessons
from a portrait painter of the city. His parents did not like this,
but they could not help themselves, and thus this greatest of the
Pre-Raphaelites began his work.
Back to Full Books