Murillo painted in three distinct styles, and these have come to be known as the "warm," the "cold," and the "vaporous." He painted pictures in the great cathedral of the Escorial and the "Guardian Angel" was one of them. Also, he painted "St. Anthony of Padua," and of this picture there is one of those absurd stories meant to illustrate the perfection of art. It is said that the lilies in it are so natural that the birds flew down the cathedral aisles to pluck at them. Many artists have painted this saint, but Murillo's is the best picture of all.
When the nephew of his first master, Murillo's cousin, saw that work he said: "It is all over with Castillo! Is it possible that Murillo, that servile imitator of my uncle, can be the author of all this grace and beauty of colouring?"
The Duke of Wellington offered for this picture as many gold pieces "as would cover its surface of fifteen square feet." This would have been about two hundred and forty thousand dollars; but we need not imagine that Murillo received any such sum for the work. This picture has a further interesting history. The canvas was cut from the frame by thieves in 1874, and later it was sold to Mr. Schaus, the connoisseur and picture dealer of New York. He paid $250 for it, and at once put it into the hands of the Spanish consul, who restored it to the cathedral.
The story of the saint whom Murillo painted is as interesting as Murillo's own. Among the many wonderful things said to have happened to him was that a congregation of fishes hearing his voice as he preached beside the sea, came to the top and lifted up their heads to listen.
While Murillo was doing his work, he was living a happy, domestic life. He had three children, and doubtless he used them as models for his lively cherubs, as he used his wife's face for madonnas and angels.
He founded an academy of painting in Seville, for the entrance to which a student could not qualify unless he made the following declaration: "Praised be the most Holy Sacrament and the pure conception of Our Lady."
The most delightful stories are told of Murillo's kindness and sweetness of disposition. He had a slave who loved him and who, one day while Murillo was gone from the studio, painted in the head of the Virgin which the master had left incomplete. When Murillo returned and saw the excellent work he cried: "I am fortunate, Sebastian"—the slave's name—"For I have not created only pictures but an artist!" This slave was set free by Murillo and in the course of time he painted many splendid pictures which are to-day highly prized in Seville.
This is a description of Murillo's house which is still to be seen near the Church of Santa Cruz: "The courtyard contains a marble fountain, amidst flowering shrubs, and is surrounded on three sides by an arcade upheld by marble pillars. At the rear is a pretty garden, shaded by cypress and citron trees, and terminated by a wall whereon are the remains of ancient frescoes which have been attributed to the master himself. The studio is on the upper floor, and overlooks the Moorish battlements, commanding a beautiful view to the eastward, over orange groves and rich corn-lands, out to the gray highlands about Alcala."
Murillo's fame brought fortune to his little sister, Therese. She married a nobleman of Burgos, a knight of Santiago and judge of the royal colonial court. He became the chief secretary of state for Madrid.
Murillo made money, but gave almost all that he made to the poor, though he did not make money in the service of the Church, as Velasquez made it in the service of the king.
His work of more than twenty pictures in the Capuchin Church of Seville occupied him for three years, and in that time he did not leave the convent for a single day.
Of all the charming stories told of this glorious artist, one which is connected with his work in that church is the most picturesque. It seems that every one within the walls loved him, and among others a lay brother who was cook. This man begged for some little personal token from Murillo and since there was no canvas at hand, the artist bade the cook leave the napkin which he had brought to cover his food, and during the day he painted upon it a Madonna and child, so natural that one of his biographers declares the child seems about to spring from Mary's arms. This souvenir made for the cook of the Capuchin, convent has been reproduced again and again, as one of the artist's greatest performances.
Toward the close of his happy life, he became more and more devout, spending many hours before an altar-piece in the Church of Santa Cruz where was a picture of "The Descent from the Cross," by Pedro Campana. "Why do you always tarry before 'The Descent from the Cross?'" the sacristan once asked of him.
"I am waiting till those men have brought the body of our blessed Lord down the ladder." Murillo answered. His wife had died, his daughter had become a nun, and all that was left to him was his dear son Gaspar, when in his sixty-third year he began his last work, "The Marriage of St. Catherine." He had not finished this when he fell from the scaffolding upon which he was working, and fatally hurt himself. He died, with his son beside him. He was a much loved man, and when he was buried, his bier was carried by "two marquises and four knights and followed by a great concourse of people." He chose to be buried beneath the picture he loved so much—"The Descent from the Cross," and upon his grave was laid a stone carved with his name, a skeleton and an inscription in Latin which means "Live as one who is about to die."
The church has since been destroyed, and on its site is the Plaza Santa Cruz, but Murillo's grave is marked by a tablet.
Each country seems to have had at least one man of beautiful heart and mind, to represent its art. Raphael in Italy, Murillo in Spain, were types of gentle and greatly beloved men. Leonardo in Italy and Durer in Nuremberg, were types of forceful, intellectual men, highly respected and of great benefit to the world.
Of all the painters who ever lived, Murillo was the one who painted little children with the most loving and fascinating touch.
PLATE—THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
Besides the little angels in this picture, we have a bewildering choice among many other beauties.
Many pictures of this subject have been painted, and many were painted by Murillo, but the one presented here is the greatest of all. It hangs in the Louvre, Salle VI. Mary seems to be suspended in the heavens, not standing upon clouds. Under the hem of her garments is the circle of the moon, while there is the effect of hundreds of little cherub children massed about her feet, in a little swarm at the right, where the shadow falls heaviest, and still others, half lost in the vapoury background at the left, where the heavenly light streams upon them, and brilliantly lights up the Virgin's gown. In this picture are all Murillo's beloved child figures, some carrying little streamers, their tiny wings a-flutter and all crowding lovingly about Mary. Far below this gorgeous group we can imagine the dark and weary earth lost in shadow.
Among Murillo's most famous paintings are: "The Birth of the Virgin," "Two Beggar Boys," "The Madonna of the Rosary," "The Annunciation," "Adoration of the Shepherds," "Holy Family," "Education of Mary," "The Dice Players," and "The Vision of St. Anthony."
(Pronounced Rah'fay-el (Sahnt'syoh)) 1483-1590 Umbrian, Florentine, and Roman Schools Pupil of Perugino
It was said of Raphael that "every evil humour vanished when his comrades saw him, every low thought fled from their minds"; and this was because they felt themselves vanquished by his pleasant ways and sweet nature.
Imagine his beautiful face, with its sunny eyes, reflecting no shadow of sadness or pain. Such a one was sure to be beloved by all.
The father of Raphael was Giovanni Santi, himself an able artist. Both he and Raphael studied in many schools and took the best from each. The son was brought up in an Italian court, that of Guidobaldo of Urbino, where the father was a favourite poet and painter, so that he had at least one generation of art-lovers behind him, at a time when learning and art were much prized. Nothing ever entered into his life that was sad or sorrowful; his whole existence was a triumph of beautiful achievements. There were three great artists of that time, the other two being Michael Angelo and Leonardo da Vinci, both of whom were absolutely unlike Raphael in their art and in their characters.
Raphael was born on April 6th at Contrada del Monte in the ducal city of Urbino. His mother's name was Magia Ciarla, and she was the daughter of an Urbino merchant. She had three children besides the great painter, all of whom died young, and when Raphael was but eight years old his mother died also. It is said that it was from her Raphael inherited his beauty, goodness, mildness, and genius. His father's patron, the Duke of Urbino, was a fine soldier, but he also cherished scholarship and art, and kept at his court not less than twenty or thirty persons at work copying Greek and Latin manuscript which he wished to add to his library.
Raphael had a stepmother, Bernardina, the daughter of a goldsmith, a good and forceful woman, but not gentle like the first wife; and when Raphael was eleven years of age his father, too, died. By his father's will Raphael became the charge of his uncle Bartolommeo, a priest, but the property was left to the stepmother so long as she remained unmarried. Almost at once the priest and the stepmother fell to quarreling over the spoils, and thus Raphael was left pretty much to his own devices, but just when life began to look dark and sad for him, his mother's brother took a hand in the situation. He settled the dispute between the priest and the second wife, and arranged that Raphael should be placed in the studio of some great painter, for the loving lad had already worked in his father's studio, and had given promise of his wonderful gifts. So he became the pupil of Perugino, a painter noted for his fine colouring and sympathetic handling of his subjects. At that time, Italian schools were less wonderful in colouring than in other matters of technique.
"Let him become my pupil," said Perugino, when Raphael was brought to him and some of his work was exhibited; "soon he will be my master." A very different attitude from that of Ghirlandajo toward Michael Angelo.
Raphael and his master became friends and worked together for nine years.
His first work was not conceived until Raphael was seventeen. It was to be a surprise to his master who had gone to Florence. A banner was wanted for the Church of S. Trinita at Citta di Castello, and Raphael undertook it, painting the "Trinity," on one canvas and the "Creation of Man" on another. Then he painted the "Crucifixion," which was bought by Cardinal Fesch, who lived in Rome. That painting is now in a collection of the Earl of Dudley. It was sold away from Rome in 1845, for twelve thousand dollars—or a little more. No one will deny that this is an unusual sum for an artist's first work, but about the same time he did a much more wonderful thing.
He painted a little picture, six and three-quarter inches square. It was of the Virgin walking in the springtime, before the leaves had appeared upon the trees, and with snow-capped mountains behind her. She holds the infant Jesus in her arms while she reads from a small book, and the little child looks upon the page with her. This six inches of beauty sold to the Emperor of Russia, in 1871, for sixty thousand dollars.
Before Raphael was twenty-one, he had left his master's studio and had gone into the splendid world of Rome, where Angelo was straining at his bonds. But how differently each accepted his life! The gentle Raphael, who took the best of the ideas of all great painters, and gave to them his own exquisite characteristics, was beloved of all, shed light upon art and friends alike. To such a one all life was joyous. Michael Angelo, trying ever to do the impossible, betraying his hatred of limitations in all that he did, doing always that which aroused horror, distress, longing, elemental feelings, in those who studied his wonderful work, and giving hope and satisfaction and peace to none—to such as he life must ever have been hateful and painful. These men lived at the same time, among the same people.
One of Raphael's greatest pictures came into the possession of a poor widow, who being hard pressed by poverty, sold it to a bookseller for twelve scudi. In time it was bought from the bookseller by Grand Duke Ferdinand III. of Tuscany, who prayed before it night and morning, taking it with him on his travels. That picture is now in the Pitti Palace at Florence and it is called the "Madonna del Granduca." The Berlin Museum purchased a Raphael Madonna for $34,000 which was painted about the same time as these others, but after a little the artist left Florence where he had been studying the methods of Leonardo and Angelo and returned to Urbino, the home he loved, where his conduct was such that all the world seems to have become his lover. It is written that he was "the only very distinguished man of whom we read, who lived and died without an enemy or detractor!" No better can ever be said of any one.
While he dwelt in Perugia and Urbino he had painted the "Ansidei Madonna," so called because that was the name of the family for which it was painted. That Madonna was sold in 1884 to the National Gallery, by the Duke of Marlborough for $350,000. A Madonna on a round plaque-like canvas, 42-3/4 inches in diameter, was bought by the Duke of Bridgewater for $60,000. It is the "Holy Family under a Palm Tree," painted originally for a friend, Taddeo Taddei, who was a Florentine scholar. Many of the pictures which after many vicissitudes have landed far from home and been bought for fabulous sums were painted for love of some friend, or were paid for by modest sums at the time the artist received the commissions. Lord Ellesmere in London now owns the "Holy Family under a Palm Tree."
It is said of Raphael that whenever another painter, known to him or not, requested any design or assistance of any kind at his hands, he would invariably leave his work to perform the service. He continually kept a large number of artists employed, all of whom he assisted and instructed with an affection which was rather that of a father to his children than merely of an artist to artists. From this it followed that he was never seen to go to court, except surrounded and accompanied, as he left his house, by some fifty painters, all men of ability and distinction, who attended him, thus to give evidence of the honour in which they held him. He did not, in short, live the life of a painter, but that of a prince.
There is something wonderfully inspiring about such a life. We read of emperors and the homage paid to them; of the esteem in which men who accomplish deeds of universal value are held, but nowhere do we behold the power of a beautiful and exquisite personality and character, allied with a single art, so impressively exhibited.
He urged nothing, yet won all things by the force of his loving and sympathetic mind. "How is it, dear Cesare that we live in such good friendship, but that in the art of painting we show no deference to each other?" he asked of Cesare da Sesto, who was Da Vinci's greatest pupil.
In discussing the great ones of the earth, Herman Grimm, son of the collector of fairy tales, says: "Can we mention a violent act of Raphael's, Goethe's or Shakespeare's? No, it is restful only to recall these wonderful men."
One of Raphael's most beautiful Virgins was modeled from a beautiful flower-girl whom he loved, "La Belle Jardiniere."
Raphael as well as Michael Angelo was summoned by Pope Julius II., but how different were the two occasions! Michael Angelo had stood with dogged, gloomy self-assertiveness before the pope, head covered, knee unbent. Uncompromising, while yet no injury had been done him, resentful before he had received a single cause for resentment, the attitude was typical of his art and his unhappy life.
When Raphael appeared, his bent knee, his "chestnut locks falling upon his shoulders, the pope exclaimed: 'He is an innocent angel. I will give him Cardinal Bembo for a teacher, and he shall fill my walls with historical pictures.'" The artist's behaviour was no sign of servility, but the simple recognition of forms and customs which the people themselves had made and by which they had decided they should graciously be bound. The attitude of Angelo was not heroic but vulgar; that of Raphael not servile, but in good taste, showing a reasonable mind.
Pope Julius had summoned Raphael for a special reason. Alexander VI., his predecessor in the Vatican, had been a depraved man. The fair and virile Julius had a healthy sentiment against occupying rooms which must continually remind him of the notorious Alexander's mode of life. Some one suggested that he have all the portraits of the former pope removed, but Julius declared: "Even if the portraits were destroyed, the walls themselves would remind me of that Simoniac, that Jew!" The word 'Jew' was then execrated by all Christians, for the world was not yet Christian enough to know better.
Raphael was summoned to decorate the Vatican, that Julius might have a place which reminded him not at all of Alexander. It is said that when Raphael had completed one of his masterpieces the pope threw himself upon the ground and cried, "I thank Thee, God, that Thou hast sent me so great a painter!"
While at work upon his first fresco at the Vatican—"La Disputa," the dispute over the Holy Sacrament—Raphael met a woman with whom he fell deeply in love. Her father was a soda manufacturer and her name was Margherita. Missirini relates this incident in Raphael's career.
"She lived on the other side of the Tiber. A small house, No. 20, in the street of Santa Dorothea, the windows of which are decorated with a pretty frame work of earthenware, is pointed out as the house where she was born.
"The beautiful girl was very frequently in a little garden adjoining the house, where, the wall not being very high, it was easy to see her from the outside. So the young men, especially artists—always passionate admirers of beauty—did not fail to come and look at her, by climbing up above the wall.
"Raphael is said to have seen her for the first time as she was bathing her pretty feet in a little fountain in the garden. Struck by her perfect beauty, he fell deeply in love with her, and after having made acquaintance with her, and discovered that her mind was as beautiful as her body, he became so much attached as to be unable to live without her."
She is spoken of to-day as the "Fornarina," because at first she was supposed to have been the daughter of a baker (fornajo).
Raphael made many rough studies for his picture "La Disputa," and upon them he left three sonnets, written to the woman so dear to him. These sonnets have been translated by the librarian of l'Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts, as follows: "Love, thou hast bound me with the light of two eyes which torment me, with a face like snow and roses, with sweet words and tender manners. So great is my ardour that no river or sea could extinguish my fire. But I do not complain, for my ardour makes me happy.... How sweet was the chain, how light the yoke of her white arms about my neck. When these bonds were loosed, I felt a mortal grief. I will say no more; a great joy kills, and, though my thoughts turn to thee, I will keep silence."
Although he had been a man of many loves, Raphael must have found in the manufacturer's daughter his best love, because he remained faithful and devoted to her for the twelve years of life that were left to him. It was said some years later, while he was engaged upon a commission for a rich banker, that "Raphael was so much occupied with the love that he bore to the lady of his choice that he could not give sufficient attention to his work. Agostino (the banker) therefore, falling at length into despair of seeing it finished, made so many efforts by means of friends and by his own care that after much difficulty he at length prevailed on the lady to take up her abode in his house, where she was accordingly installed, in apartments near those which Raphael was painting; In this manner the work was ultimately brought to a conclusion."
Raphael painted this beautiful lady-love many times, and in a picture in which she wears a bracelet he has placed his name upon the ornament.
After this time he painted the "Madonna della Casa d'Alba," which the Duchess d'Alba gave to her physician for curing her of a grave disorder. She died soon afterward, and the physician was arrested on the charge of having poisoned her. In course of time the picture was purchased for $70,000 by the Russian Emperor, and it is now in "The Hermitage," St. Petersburg.
A writer telling of that time, relates the following anecdote: "Raphael of Urbino had painted for Agostino Chigi (the rich banker already mentioned) at Santa Maria della Pace, some prophets and sibyls, on which he had received an advance of five hundred scudi. One day he demanded of Agostino's cashier (Giulio Borghesi) the remainder of the sum at which he estimated his work. The cashier, being astounded at this demand, and thinking that the sum already paid was sufficient, did not reply. 'Cause the work to be estimated by a judge of painting,' replied Raphael, 'and you will see how moderate my demand is.'
"Giulio Borghesi thought of Michael Angelo for this valuation, and begged him to go to the church and estimate the figures of Raphael. Possibly he imagined that self-love, rivalry, and jealousy would lead the Florentine to lower the price of the pictures.
"Michael Angelo went, accompanied by the cashier, to Santa Maria della Pace, and, as he was contemplating the fresco without uttering a word, Borghesi questioned him. 'That head,' replied Michael Angelo, pointing to one of the sibyls, 'that head is worth a hundred scudi.' ... 'and the others?' asked the cashier. 'The others are not less.'
"Someone who witnessed this scene related it to Chigi. He heard every particular and, offering in addition to the five hundred scudi for five heads a hundred scudi to be paid for each of the others, he said to his cashier, 'go and give that to Raphael in payment for his heads, and behave very politely to him, so that he may be satisfied; for if he insists on my paying also for the drapery, we should probably be ruined!'"
By the time Raphael was thirty-one he was a rich man, and had built himself a beautiful house near the Vatican, on the Via di Borgo Nuova. Naught remains of that dwelling except an angle of the right basement, which has been made a part of the Accoramboni Palace. His friends wished him above all things to marry, but he was still true to Margherita though he had become engaged to the daughter of his nephew. He put the marriage off year after year, till finally the lady he was to have married died, and was buried in Raphael's chapel in the Pantheon.
Margherita was with him when he died, and it was to her that he left much of his wealth.
In the time of Raphael excavations were being made about Rome, and many beautiful statues uncovered, and he was charged with the supervision of this work in order that no art treasure should be lost or overlooked. The pope decreed that if the excavators failed to acquaint Raphael with every stone and tablet that should he unearthed, they should be fined from one to three hundred gold crowns.
Raphael had his many paintings copied under his own eye and engraved, and then distributed broadcast, so that not only men of great wealth but the common people might study them.
Henry VIII. invited him to visit England, and become court painter, and Francis I. wished him to become the court painter of France.
He loved history, and wished to write certain historical works. He loved poetry and wrote it. He loved philosophy and lived it—the philosophy of generous feeling and kindly thought for all the world. He kept poor artists in his own home and provided for them.
Raphael died on Good Friday night, April 6th, in his thirty-seventh year, and all Rome wept. He lay in state in his beautiful home, with his unfinished picture of the "Transfiguration," as background for his catafalque. That painting with its colours still wet, was carried in the procession to his burial place in the Pantheon. When his death was announced, the pope, Leo X., wept and cried "Ora pro nobis!" while the Ambassador from Mantua wrote home that "nothing is talked of here but the loss of the man who at the close of his six-and-thirtieth year has now ended his first life; his second, that of his posthumous fame, independent of death and transitory things, through his works, and in what the learned will write in his praise, must continue forever."
Raphael painted two hundred and eighty-seven pictures in his thirty-seven years of life.
PLATE—THE SISTINE MADONNA
It is said that the "Sistine Madonna," while painted from an Italian model—doubtless the lady whom Raphael so dearly loved—has universal characteristics, so that she may "be understood by everyone."
He lived only three years after painting this picture and it was the last "Holy Family" painted by him. The Madonna stands upon a curve of the earth, which is scarcely to be seen, and looming mistily in front of her is a mass of white vaporous clouds. On either side are figures, St. Sixtus (for whom the picture was named) and St. Barbara. Beside St. Sixtus we see a crown or tiara; and the little tower at St. Barbara's side is a part of her story.
Barbara was the daughter of an Eastern nobleman who feared that her great beauty might lead to her being carried off; therefore he caused her to be shut up in a great tower. While thus imprisoned Barbara became a Christian through the influence of a holy man, and she begged her father to make three windows in her gloomy tower: one, to let the light of the Father stream upon her, another to admit the light of the Son, and the third that she might bathe in the light of the Holy Ghost. Both St. Barbara and St. Sixtus were martyrs for their faith.
This Madonna is painted as if enclosed by green velvet curtains, which have been drawn aside, letting the golden light of the picture blaze upon the one who looks; then upon a little ledge below, looking out from the heavens, are two little cherubs—known to all the world. They look wistful, wise, roguish, and beautiful, with fat little arms resting comfortably upon the ledge. Raphael is said to have found his models for these little angels in the street, leaning wistfully upon the ledge of a baker's window, looking at the good things to eat, which were within. Raphael took them, put wings to them, placed them at the feet of Mary, and made two little images which have brought smiles and tears to a multitude of people. The "Sistine Madonna" hangs alone in a room in the Dresden Gallery.
Among Raphael's greatest works are: The "Madonna della Sedia" (of the chair), "La Belle Jardiniere," "The School of Athens," "Saint Cecilia," "The Transfiguration," "Death of Ananias" (a cartoon for a series of tapestries), "Madonna del Pesce," "La Disputa," "The Marriage of Mary and Joseph," "St. George Slaying the Dragon," "St. Michael Attacking Satan" and the "Coronation of the Virgin."
REMBRANDT (VAN RIJN)
Dutch School 1606-1669 Pupil of Van Swanenburch
Here are a few of the titles that have been given to the greatest Dutch painter that ever lived: The Shakespeare of Painting; the Prince of Etchers; the King of Shadows; the Painter of Painters. Muther calls him a "hero from cloudland," and not only does he alone wear these titles of greatness, but he alone in his family had the name of Rembrandt.
One writer has said that the great painter was born "in a windmill," but this is not true. He was born in Leyden for certain, though not a great deal is known about his youth; and his father was a miller, his mother a baker's daughter.
When the Pilgrim Fathers, who had sought safety in Leyden, were starting for America, where they were going to oppress others as they had been oppressed, Rembrandt was just beginning his apprenticeship in art.
He was born at No. 3, Weddesteg, a house on the rampart looking out upon the Rhine whose two arms meet there. In front of it whirled the great arms of his father's windmill, though he was not born in it; and of all the women Rembrandt ever knew, it is not likely that he ever admired or loved one as passionately as he admired and loved his mother. He painted and etched her again and again, with a touch so tender that his deepest emotion is placed before us.
Rembrandt had brothers and sisters—five: Adriaen, Gerrit, Machteld, Cornelis, and Willem. Of these, Adriaen became a miller like his father, and presumably the old historic windmill fell to him; Willem became a baker, but Rembrandt, the fourth child, it was determined should be a learned man, and belong to one of the honoured professions, such as the law. So he was sent to the Leyden Academy, but here again we have an artist who decided he knew enough of all else but art before he was twelve years old. He found himself at that age in the studio of his first art-master, Jacob van Swanenburch, a relative, who had studied art in Italy, and was a good master for the lad; but Rembrandt became so brilliant a painter in three years' time, that he was sent to Amsterdam to learn of abler men.
The lad could not in those days get far from his adored mother; so he stayed only a little time, before he went back to Leyden where she was. There was his heart, and, painting or no painting, he must be near it.
Until the past thirty years no one has seemed to know a great deal of Rembrandt's early history, but much was written of him as a boorish, gross, vulgar fellow. Those stories were false. He was a devoted son, handsome, studious in art, and earnest in all that he did, and after he had made his first notable painting he was compelled by the demands of his work to move to Amsterdam for good. He hired an apartment over a shop on the Quay Bloemgracht; it is probable that his sister went with him to keep his house, and that it is her face repeated so frequently in the many pictures which he painted at that time. This does not suggest coarse doings or a careless life, but permits us to imagine a quiet, sober, unselfish existence for the young bachelor at that time.
Soon, however, he fell in love. He saw one other woman to place in his heart and memory beside his mother. His wife was Saskia van Ulenburg, the daughter of an aristocrat, refined and rich. He met her through her cousin, an art dealer, who had ordered Rembrandt to paint a portrait of his dainty cousin. Rembrandt could have been nothing but what was delightful and good, since he was loved by so charming a girl as Saskia.
He painted her sitting upon his knee, and used her as model in many pictures. First, last, and always he loved her tenderly.
In one portrait she is dressed in "red and gold-embroidered velvets"; the mantle she wore he had brought from Leyden. In another picture she is at her toilet, having her hair arranged; again she is painted in a great red velvet hat, and then as a Jewish bride, wearing pearls, and holding a shepherd's staff in her hand. Again, Rembrandt painted himself as a giant at the feet of a dainty woman, and in every way his work showed his love for her. After he married her, in June 1634, he painted the picture, "Samson's Wedding," "Saskia, dainty and serene, sitting like a princess in a circle of her relatives, he himself appearing as a crude plebeian, whose strange jokes frighten more than they amuse the distinguished company. ... The early years of his marriage were spent in joy and revelry. Surrounded by calculating business men who kept a tight grasp on their money bags, he assumed the role of an artist scattering money with a free hand; surrounded by small townsmen most proper in demeanour, he revealed himself as the bold lasquenet, frightening them by his cavalier manners. He brought together all manner of Oriental arms, ancient fabrics, and gleaming jewellery; and his house became one of the sights of Amsterdam." His existence reads like a fairy tale.
It is said that Saskia strutted about decked in gold and diamonds, till her relatives "shook their heads" in alarm and amazement at such wild goings on.
Before he married Saskia he had painted a remarkable picture, named the "School of Anatomy." It represents a great anatomist, the friend of Rembrandt—Nicholaus Tulp,—and a group of physicians who were members of the Guild of Surgeons of Amsterdam. It is so wonderful a picture that even the dead man, who is being used as a subject by the anatomist, does not too greatly disturb us as we look upon him. The thoughtful, interested faces of the surgeons are so strong that we half lose ourselves in their feeling, and forget to start in repulsion at sight of the dead body. A fine description of this painting can be found in Sarah K. Bolton's book "Famous Artists" and it includes the description given by another excellent authority.
The artist was twenty-six years old when he painted the "School of Anatomy." This picture is now at The Hague and two hundred years after it was painted the Dutch Government gave 30,000 florins for it.
Rembrandt painted a good many "Samsons" first and last—himself evidently being the strong man; and the pictures beyond doubt express his own mood and his idea of his relation to things. After a little son was born to the artist, he painted still another Samson—this time menacing his father-in-law but as the artist had named his son after his father-in-law,—Rombertus—we cannot believe that there was any menace in the heart of Rembrandt—Samson. Soon his son died, and Rembrandt thought he should never again know happiness, or that the world could hold a greater grief, but one day he was to learn otherwise. A little girl was born to the artist, named Cornelia, after Rembrandt's mother, and he was again very happy.
Meantime his brothers and sisters had died, and there came some trouble over Rembrandt's inheritance, but what angered him most of all, was that Saskia's relatives said she "had squandered her heritage in ornaments and ostentation." This made Rembrandt wild with rage, and he sued her slanderers, for he himself had done the squandering, buying every beautiful thing he could find or pay for, to deck Saskia in, and he meant to go on doing so.
At this time he painted a picture of "The Feast of Ahasuerus" (or the "Wedding of Samson") and he placed Saskia in the middle of the table to represent Esther or Delilah as the case might be, dressed in a way to horrify her critical relatives, for she looked like a veritable princess laden with gorgeous jewels.
One of his pictures he wished to have hung in a strong light, for he said: "Pictures are not made to be smelt. The odour of the colours is unhealthy."
The first baby girl died and on the birth of another daughter she too was named Cornelia, but that baby girl also died, and next came a son, Titus, named for Saskia's sister, Titia, and then Saskia died. Thus Rembrandt knew the deepest sorrow of his life.
He painted her portrait once again from memory, and that picture is quite unlike the others for it is no longer full of glowing life, but daintier, suggestive of a more spiritual life, as if she were growing fragile.
It is written that "from this time, while he did much remarkable work, he seemed like a man on a mountain top, looking on one side to sweet meadows filled with flowers and sunlight, and on the other to a desolate landscape over which a clouded sun is setting." With Saskia died the best of Rembrandt. He made only one more portrait of himself—before this he had made many; and in it he makes himself appear a stern and fateful man. It was after Saskia's death that he painted the "Night Watch," or more properly, "The Sortie."
Rembrandt's home, where he and Saskia were so happy, is still to be seen on a quay of the River Amstel. It is a house of brick and cut stone, four stories high. The vestibule used to have a flag-stone pavement covered with fir-wood. There were also "black-cushioned, Spanish chairs for those who wait," and all about were twenty-four busts and paintings. There was an ante-chamber, very large, with seven Spanish chairs covered with green velvet, and a walnut table covered with "a Tournay cloth"; there was a mirror with an ebony frame, and near by a marble wine-cooler. Upon the wall of this salon were thirty-nine pictures and most of them had beautiful frames. "There were religious scenes, landscapes, architectural sketches, works of Pinas, Brouwer, Lucas van Leyden, and other Dutch masters; sixteen pictures by Rembrandt; and costly paintings by Palma Vecchio, Bassano, and Raphael."
In the next room was a real art museum, containing splendid pictures, an oaken press and other things which suggest that this was the workroom where Rembrandt's etchings were made and printed.
In the drawing-room was a huge mirror, a great oaken table covered with a rich embroidered cloth, "six chairs with blue coverings, a bed with blue hangings, a cedar wardrobe, and a chest of the same wood." The walls were literally covered with pictures, among which was a Raphael.
Above was a sort of museum and Rembrandt's studio. There was rare glass from Venice, busts, sketches, paintings, cloths, weapons, armour, plants, stuffed birds and shells, fans, and books and globes. In short, this was a most wonderful house and no other interior can we reconstruct as we can this, because no other such detailed inventory can be found of a great man's effects as that from which these notes are taken: a legal inventory made in 1656, long after Saskia had died and possibly at a time when Rembrandt wished to close his doors forever and forget the scenes in which he had been so happy.
Holland being truly a Protestant country, its artists have given us no great Madonna pictures, although they painted loving, happy Dutch mothers and little babes, but on the whole their subjects are quite different from those of the painters of Italy, France, and Spain.
Rembrandt's studio was different from any other. When he first began to work independently and to have pupils, he fitted it up with many little cells, properly lighted, so that each student might work alone, as he knew far better work could be done in that way. It is said that his pictures of beggars would, by themselves, fill a gallery. He had a kindly sympathy for the poor and unfortunate, and tramps knew this, so that they swarmed about his studio doors, trying to get sittings.
There is a story which doubtless had for its germ a joke regarding the slowness of an errand boy in a friend's household, but which at the same time shows us how rapidly Rembrandt worked. The artist had been carried off to the country to lunch with his friend Jan Six, and as they sat down at the table, Six discovered there was no mustard. He sent his boy, Hans, for it, and as the boy went out, Rembrandt wagered that he could make an etching before the boy got back. Six took the wager, and the artist pulled a copper plate from his pocket—he always carried one—and on its waxed surface began to etch the landscape before him. Just as Hans returned, Rembrandt gleefully handed Six the completed picture.
He was a great portrait painter, but he loved certain effects of shadow so well that he often sacrificed his subject's good looks to his artistic purpose, and very naturally his sitters became displeased, so that in time he had fewer commissions than if he had been entirely accommodating.
His meals in working time were very simple, often just bread and cheese, eaten while sitting at his easel, and after Saskia died he became more and more careless of all domestic details.
Rembrandt finally married again, the second time choosing his housekeeper, a good and helpful woman, who was properly bringing up his little son, and making life better ordered for the artist, but he had grown poor by this time for he was never a very good business man. His beautiful house was at last sold to a rich shoemaker. Every picture latterly reflected his condition and mood. He chose subjects in which he imagined himself always to be the actor, and when his second wife died he painted a picture of "Youth Surprised by Death"; he had not long to live. He became more and more melancholy; and sleeping by day, would wander about the country at night, disconsolate and sad. Finally, when he died, an inventory of his effects, showed him to be possessed of only a few old woollen clothes and his brushes The miracle in Rembrandt's painting is the deep, impenetrable shadow, in which nevertheless one can see form and outline, punctuated with wonderful explosions of light. Nothing like it has ever been seen. It is the most dramatic work in the world, and the most powerful in its effect. Other men have painted light and colour; Rembrandt makes gloom and shadow living things.
This miracle-worker's funeral cost ten dollars; he died in Amsterdam and was buried in the Wester Kirk.
This picture is generally known as "The Night Watch," but it is really "The Sortie" of a company of musketeers under the command of a standard bearer. Captain Frans Banning-Cock and all his company were to pay Rembrandt for painting their portraits in a group and in action, and they expected to see themselves in heroic and picturesque dress, in the full blaze of day, but Rembrandt had found a magnificent subject for his wonderful shadows, and the artist was not going to sacrifice it to the vanity of the archers.
This picture was called the "Patrouille de Nuit," by the French and the "Night Watch," by Sir Joshua Reynolds because upon its discovery the picture was so dimmed and defaced by time that it was almost indistinguishable and it looked quite like a night scene. After it was cleaned up, it was discovered to represent broad day—a party of archers stepping from a gloomy courtyard into the blinding sunlight. "How this different light is painted, which encircles the figures, here sunny, there gloomy!... Rembrandt runs through the entire range of his colours, from the lightest yellow through all shades of light and dark red to the gloomiest black." One writer describes it thus: "It is more than a picture; it is a spectacle, and an amazing one... A great crowd of human figures, a great light, a great darkness—at the first glance this is what strikes you, and for a moment you know not where to fix your eyes in order to comprehend that grand and splendid confusion... There are officers, halberdiers, boys running, arquebusiers loading and firing, youths beating drums, people bowing talking, calling out, gesticulating—all dressed in different costumes, with round hats, plumes, casques, morions, iron corgets, linen collars, doublets embroidered with gold, great boots, stockings of all colours, arms of every form; and all this tumultuous and glittering throng start out from the dark background of the picture and advance toward the spectator. The two first personages are Frans Banning-Cock, Lord of Furmerland and Ilpendam, captain of the company, and his lieutenant, Willem van Ruijtenberg, Lord of Vlaardingen, the two marching side by side. The only figures that are in full light are this lieutenant, dressed in a doublet of buffalo-hide, with gold ornaments, scarf, gorget, and white plume, with high boots, and a girl who comes behind, with blond hair ornamented with pearls, and a yellow satin dress; all the other figures are in deep shadow, excepting the heads, which are illuminated. By what light? Here is the enigma. Is it the light of the sun? or of the moon? or of the torches? There are gleams of gold and silver, moonlight coloured reflections, fiery lights; personages which, like the girl with blond tresses, seem to shine by a light of their own.... The more you look at it, the more it is alive and glowing; and, even seen only at a glance, it remains forever in the memory, with all its mystery and splendour, like a stupendous vision." Charles Blanc has said: "To tell the truth, this is only a dream of night, and no one can decide what the light is that falls on the groups of figures. It is neither the light of the sun or of the moon, nor does it come from the torches; it is rather the light from the genius of Rembrandt."
This wonderful picture was painted in 1642 and many of the archer's guild who gave Rembrandt the commission would not pay their share because their faces were not plainly seen. This picture which alone was enough to make him immortal, was the very last commission that any of the guilds were willing to give the artist, because he would not make their portraits beautiful or fine looking to the disadvantage of the whole picture. This work hangs in the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam. He painted more than six hundred and twenty-five pictures and some of them are: "The Anatomy Lesson," "The Syndics of the Cloth Hall," "The Descent from the Cross," "Samson Threatening His Step Father," "The Money Changer," "Holy Family," "The Presentation of Christ in the Temple," "The Marriage of Samson," "The Rape of Ganymede," "Susanna and the Elders," "Manoah's Sacrifice," "The Storm," "The Good Samaritan," "Pilate Washing His Hands," "Ecce Home," and pictures of his wife, Saskia.
SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS
English School 1723-1792 Pupil of Thomas Hudson
When Reynolds was "little Josh," instead of "Sir Joshua" he grew tired in church one day, and sketched upon the nail of his thumb the portrait of the Rev. Mr. Smart who was preaching. After service he ran to a boat-house near, and with ship's paint, upon an old piece of sail, he painted in full and flowing colours that reverend gentleman's portrait. After that there was not the least possible excuse for his father to deny him the right to become an artist.
The father himself was a clergyman with a good education, and he had meant that his son should also be well educated and become a physician; but a lad who at eight years of age can draw the Plympton school house—he was born at Plympton Earl, in Devonshire—has a right to choose his own profession.
At twenty-three years of age Sir Joshua was painting the portraits of great folk, and being well paid for it, as well as lavishly praised. His first real sorrow came at a Christmas time when he was summoned home from London where he was working, to his father's deathbed.
After that the artist turned his thoughts toward Italy, but where was the money to come from? Earning a living did not include travelling expenses, but a good friend, Captain Keppel, was going out to treat with the Dey of Algiers about his piracies, and learning that the artist wished to go to Italy he invited him to go with him on his own ship, the Centurion. So while the captain was discussing pirates with the dey, Sir Joshua stopped with the Governor of Minorca and painted many of the people of that locality. Thence on to Rome!
Strange to say, Raphael's pictures disappointed the English artist, and he said so; but Michael Angelo was to Reynolds the most wonderful of painters, and he said that his pictures influenced him all the rest of his life. He wished his name to be the last upon his lips, and while that was not so, yet it was the last he pronounced to his fellow Academicians in his final address.
It was in Italy that a distressing misfortune came upon Sir Joshua. He meant to learn all that a man could learn in a given time of the art treasures there, and while he was working in a draughty corridor of the Vatican, he caught a severe cold which rendered him deaf. He continued deaf till the end of his life and had to use an ear-trumpet when people talked with him.
When he got back to England, Hudson, his old master, said discouragingly: "Reynolds, you don't paint as well as when you left England." On the whole his reception at home, after his long absence, was not all that he could have wished, but he took a place in Leicester Square, settled down to live there for the rest of his life, and went at painting in earnest.
Although artists criticised him more or less after his return, the public appreciated him and very soon orders for portraits began to pour in upon him, and the flow of wealth never ceased so long as he lived. It was said that all the fashionables came to him that did not go to Gainsborough, but those who were partial to Sir Joshua declared that all who could not go to him went to Gainsborough. The two great artists controlled the art world in their time, dividing honours about equally. It was said that all those women and men sat to Sir Joshua for portraits "who wished to be transmitted as angels... and who wished to appear as heroes or philosophers."
Sir Joshua was a charming man, generous in feeling—as Gainsborough was not—and his closest friend was Dr. Johnson, the most different man from the artist imaginable, but Reynolds's art and Johnson's philosophy made a fine combination, each giving the other great pleasure. Besides Johnson, his friends were Goldsmith, Garrick, Bishop Percy, and other famous men of the time. These and others formed the "Literary Club" at Sir Joshua's suggestion. About that time there was the first public exhibition of the work of English artists, and Sir Benjamin West and Sir Joshua Reynolds built the Royal Academy for that first exhibition, with the help of King George's patronage. Joshua Reynolds was knighted when he was made the first president of that great body.
Soon after the Academy was established, Reynolds began a series of "discourses," which in time became famous for their splendid literary quality, and some people, knowing his close friendship with Burke and Dr. Johnson, declared that the artist got one of them to write his "discourses" for him. This threw Johnson and Burke into a fury of resentment for their friend, and the doctor declared indignantly that "Sir Joshua would as soon get me to paint for him as to write for him!" Burke denied the story no less emphatically. Besides these speeches, which were a great advantage to the members of the Academy, Sir Joshua instituted the annual banquet to the members, and King George—who just before had given the commission of court painter to one less talented than Sir Joshua—bade him paint his portrait and the queen's, to hang in the Academy. This was a great thing for the new society and advanced its fortunes very much.
Barry and Gainsborough were both churlish enough to envy Sir Joshua and to quarrel with his good feeling for them, but both men had the grace to be sorry for behaviour that had no excuse, and both made friends with him before they died—Gainsborough on his death-bed.
Toward his last days the artist was attacked with paralysis, but grew better and was able to paint again; then he began to go blind—he was already deaf—and this affliction made painting impossible. Shortly before his death, he undertook to raise funds for a monument to his dead friend, Dr. Johnson, but he grew more and more ill, "and on the 23d February, 1792, this great artist and blameless gentleman passed peacefully away."
That he was very painstaking in his work is shown by an anecdote about his infant "Hercules." "How did you paint that part of the picture?" some one asked him. "How can I tell! There are ten pictures below this, some better, some worse"—showing that in his desire for perfection he painted and repainted.
So untiring was he in seeking out the secrets of the old masters that he bought works of Titian and Rubens, and scraped them, to learn their methods, insisting that they had some secret underlying their work. So anxious was he to get the most brilliant effects of colours that he mixed his paints with asphaltum, egg, varnish, wax, and the like, till one artist said: "The wonder is that the picture did not crack beneath the brush." Many of these great pictures did go to pieces because of the chances Sir Joshua took in mixing things that did not belong together, in order to make wonderful results.
Sir George Beaumont recommended a friend to go to Reynolds for his portrait and the friend demurred, because "his colours fade and his pictures die before the man."
"Never mind that!" Sir George declared; "a faded portrait by Reynolds is better than a fresh one by anybody else."
The same tender, sensitive and devoted nature which caused Sir Joshua's mother to weep herself blind upon her husband's death, belonged to the artist. All of his life he was surrounded by loving friends, and his devotion to them was conspicuous. He, like Durer and several other painters, was a seventh son, and his father's disappointment was keen when he took to art instead of to medicine. So little did his father realise what his future might be, that he wrote under the sketch of a wall with a window in it, drawn upon a Latin exercise book: "This is drawn by Joshua in school, out of pure idleness."
But by the time Joshua was eight years old and had drawn a fine "sketch of the grammar-school with its cloister... the astonished father said: 'Now, this exemplifies what the author of "perspective" says in his preface: "that, by observing the rules laid down in this book, a man may do wonders"—for this is wonderful.'"
Sir Joshua laid down—even wrote out—a great many rules of conduct for himself. Some of these were: "The great principle of being happy in this world is not to mind or be affected with small things." Also: "If you take too much care of yourself, nature will cease to take care of you."
When Samuel Reynolds, Joshua's father, consulted with his friend Mr. Craunch, as to whether a boy who made wonderful paintings at twelve years of age, would be likely to be a successful apothecary, he told Craunch that Joshua himself had declared that he would rather be a good apothecary than a poor artist, but if he could be bound to a good master of painting he would prefer that above everything in the world. This was how he came to be apprenticed to Hudson, the painter. Young Reynolds's sister paid for his instruction at first—or for half of it, with the understanding that Reynolds was to pay her back when he was earning. At that time Reynolds wrote to his father: "While I am doing this I am the happiest creature alive."
One day, while in an art store, buying something for Hudson, Reynolds saw Alexander Pope, the poet, come in, and every one bowed to him and made way for him as if for a prince. Pope shook hands with young Reynolds, and in writing home, describing the poet, the artist said that he was "about four feet six inches high; very humpbacked and deformed. He wore a black coat and according to the fashion of that time, had on a little sword. He had a large and very fine eye, and a long handsome nose; his mouth had those peculiar marks which are always found in the mouths of crooked persons, and the muscles which run across the cheeks were so strongly marked that they seemed like small cords." This is a masterly description of one famous man by another.
He finally was dismissed from his master's studio on the ground that he had neglected to carry a picture to its owner at the time set by Hudson, but the fact was the older artist had become jealous of the work of his pupil, and would no longer have him in his studio.
Afterwards, while he was painting down in Devonshire—thirty portraits of country squires for fifteen dollars apiece—he said: "Those who are determined to excel must go to their work whether willing or unwilling, morning, noon, and night, and they will find it to be no play, but, on the contrary, very hard labour." This shows that Reynolds's idea of genius was "an infinite capacity for hard work."
While Reynolds was on his memorable journey to Rome, he made several volumes of notes about the pictures of great Italian artists—Raphael, Titian, etc. And one of those volumes is in the Lenox Library, New York City. He made a most characteristic and delightful remark in regard to his disappointment in Raphael's pictures. "I did not for a moment conceive or suppose that the name of Raphael, and those admirable paintings in particular, owed their reputation to the ignorance ... of mankind; on the contrary, my not relishing them, as I was conscious I ought to have done was one of the most humiliating things that ever happened to me."
He loved home and country so much that while in Venice he heard a familiar ballad sung in an opera, and it brought the tears to his eyes because of its association with "home."
His young sister, was so undecided in her ways and opinions as to make it impossible for Reynolds long to live with her, but she undertook to be his housekeeper when he returned to London, and she also tried to copy his pictures Reynolds said the results "made other people laugh, but they made me cry."
Reynolds painted the portraits of two Irish sisters—the Countess of Coventry and the Duchess of Hamilton—two of the most beautiful women in all the British Empire. "Seven hundred people sat up all night, in and about a Yorkshire inn, to see the Duchess of Hamilton get into her postchaise in the morning, while a Worcester shoemaker made money by showing the shoe he was making for the Countess of Coventry." Sir Joshua declared that whenever a new sitter came to him, even till the last years of his life, he always began his portrait with the determination that that one should be the best he had ever painted. Success was bound to attend that sort of man.
He painted every picture almost as an experiment; meaning to learn something new with every work, and he spent more than he made in perfecting his art. As he said: "He would be content to ruin himself" in order to own one of the best works of Titian.
His deeds of kindness are beyond counting. He rescued his friend Dr. Johnson from debt—thereby saving him from prison; and when a young lad, "a son of Dr. Mudge," who was very anxious to visit his father on the occasion of his sixteenth birthday, grew too ill to make the journey. Reynolds said gaily: "No matter my boy. I will send you to your father." He painted a splendid portrait of the boy and sent it to Dr. Mudge. This gift of a picture, however, was very unusual with Reynolds, who, unlike Gainsborough who gave his by the bushel to everyone, declared that his pictures were not valued unless paid for. When Sir William Lowther, a gay and rich young man of London, died, he left twenty-five thousand dollars to each of thirteen friends, and each of the thirteen commissioned the painter to make a portrait of Lowther, their benefactor. His work room was of interest: "The chair for his sitters was raised eighteen inches from the floor, and turned on casters. His palettes were those which are held by a handle, not those held on the thumb. The stocks of his pencils were long, measuring about nineteen inches. He painted in that part of the room nearest to the window, and never sat down when he painted." The chariot in which he drove about had the four seasons allegorically painted upon its panels, and his liveries were "laced with silver"; while the wheels of his coach were carved with foliage and gilded.
Sir Joshua knew that it paid to advertise, and as he had no time to go about in that gorgeous chariot he made his sister go, for he declared that people seeing that magnificent coach would ask: "Whose chariot is that?" and upon being told could not fail to be impressed with his prestige. The comical inconsequence of this anecdote concerning a man so important robs it of vulgarity.
The graceful anecdotes told of Reynolds are without number, but one and all are to his advantage and show him to have been good and gentle, a devoted and high-bred man.
PLATE—THE DUCHESS OF DEVONSHIRE AND HER DAUGHTER
This is generally considered one of the finest of Sir Joshua's pictures, if not the most beautiful of all. He was such a welcome guest at the houses of grandees that perchance he had noticed the lovely duchess playing with her still more lovely baby, and thought what a charming picture the two would make. As a representation of the artist's ability to portray grace and sweetness it can hardly be surpassed. He painted it in 1786, half a dozen years before his death, and it now hangs in Chatsworth, the home of the present Duke of Devonshire.
Other well known Reynolds paintings are "The Hon. Ann Bingham," "The Countess of Spencer," the "Nieces of Sir Horace Walpole," and the "Angels' Heads" in the National Gallery.
PETER PAUL RUBENS.
Flemish School 1577-1640 Pupil of Tobias Verhaecht
The story of Peter Paul Rubens, whose birthday falling upon the saint days of Peter and Paul gave to him his name, is hardly more interesting than that of his parents, although it is quite different. The story of Rubens's parents seems a part of the artist's story, because it must have had something to do with influencing his life, so let us begin with that.
John Rubens was Peter Paul's father, and he was a learned man, a druggist, but he had also studied law, and had been town councillor and alderman in the town where he was born. Life went easily enough with him till the reformation wrought by Martin Luther began to change John Rubens's way of thinking, and he turned from Catholic to Lutheran.
From being a good Catholic John Rubens became a rabid reformer; and when, under the new faith, the Antwerp churches were stripped of their treasures, the magistrates were called to account for it. John Rubens, as councillor, was among those summoned. The magistrates declared that they were all good Catholics, but a list of the reformers fell into the Duke of Alva's hands and Rubens's name was there. This meant death unless he should succeed in flying from the country, which he instantly did. That was in 1568, when he had four children, but Peter Paul was not one of them—since he was a seventh son.
The Rubens family went to live in Cologne, where the father found his learning of great use to him, and he was honoured by being made legal adviser to Anne of Saxony who was William the Silent's second queen. John Rubens's behaviour was not entirely honourable and before long he was thrown into prison, but his good wife, Maria Pypelincx undertook to free him. He had treated her very badly, but her devotion to his cause was as great as if he had treated her well. Despite his wife's efforts he was kept a prisoner in the dungeon at Dillenburg for two years, and afterward he was removed to Siegen, the place where Peter Paul was born.
In the sixteenth century there were no records of any sort kept in the town of Siegen, and so we cannot be absolutely sure that Peter Paul was born there, but his mother was certainly there just before and after the date of his birth, which was the 29th of June 1577. After his birth, his father was set free in Siegen and allowed to go back to the city in which he had misbehaved himself. In Cologne he became once more a Catholic, and he died in that faith. Meantime, ten years had passed since Peter Paul's birth, and both his father and mother were determined above all things their son should have a fine education, quite unlike other artists, for the boy seemed capable of learning. While he was still very small he could speak to his tutor in French, to his mother in Flemish, and to his father in Latin. Besides these languages he spoke also Italian and English. Before he was an artist, Rubens, like Durer and Leonardo da Vinci, was a child of rare intelligence. As a little chap he went to Antwerp with his mother—this was after his father's death—and in Belgium he took for the first time the role of courtier, in which he was to become so successful later in life. The charming little fellow, dressed in velvet and lace, took his place in the household of the Countess of Lalaing, in Brussels.
Very soon after entering that household, Rubens was permitted by his mother to leave it for the studio of the painter who was his first master, though not the one who really taught him much. Rubens did not stay there long, but went instead to the studio of Adam van Noort, an excellent painter of the time. After that he studied under another artist, who was both a scholar and a gentleman, Van Veen, and with him Peter Paul was able to speak in Latin and in his many other languages, while learning to paint at the same time.
Thus we find Rubens's lot was always cast, not among the rich, but among the intelligent, the well bred, and the cultivated. This fact alone would prepare us to anticipate pleasant things for him and from him.
In those days of guilds, there were many rules and regulations. Van Noort, Rubens's teacher, was dean of the painters' guild and through his influence the guild recognised Rubens as "master," which meant that he was qualified to take pupils; thus he was pupil and teacher at the same time.
One is unable to think of Rubens as having low tastes, as being morose, erratic, or anything but a refined, gracious, and brilliant gentleman. He began well, lived well, and ended well.
None of his teachers really impressed their style of art upon him. He was the model for others. Rubens became nothing but Rubens, but all the art world wished to become "Rubenesque."
Rubens went to Mantua to see the art of Italy, and while there he met the Duke of Mantua who was Vincenzo Gonzaga, the richest, most powerful personage of that region and time. The duke engaged Rubens to paint the portraits of many beautiful women—just the sort of commission that Rubens's pupil, Van Dyck, would have loved; but Rubens's art was of sterner stuff, and the work by no means delighted him. He had great ideas, profound purposes, and wished to undertake them, but just then it seemed best that he perform that which the Duke of Mantua wanted him to do; hence he set about it.
Later Rubens went to the Spanish court, not as a painter, but as a cavalier upon a diplomatic mission. Bearing many beautiful presents to King Philip III., he went to Madrid, where his elegance, manly beauty, dashing manner, and ability to speak several languages made him a wonderful success. He remained for three years at the court and studied the methods of Spanish painters. He also painted the members of the Spanish court, as Velasquez had done, but they looked like people of another world. The Spanish aristocracy had always been painted with pallid faces, languid and elegant poses; but Rubens gave them a touch of the life he loved—made them robust and apparently healthy-minded. Of all great colourists, Rubens took the lead. Titian with his golden hues and warm haired women was very great, but Rubens, "the Fleming" as he was called, revelled in richness of colouring, and flamed through art like a glorious comet.
Rubens had long been wanted in his own country. His sovereigns, Albert and Isabella, wished him to return and become their painter, but they were unable to free him from his engagements in Italy and Spain. At last Rubens received word that his mother, whom he loved devotedly, was likely to die, and what kings could not do his love for her accomplished.
Although his patron, the Duke of Mantua, was absent, and his consent could not be secured, Rubens set off post-haste to his mother's home. He arrived in Antwerp too late to see Maria Pypelincx, who had died before he reached her. Once more on his native soil, Albert and Isabella determined to induce him to remain. He had intended to go back to Mantua and continue his work under the duke, but since he was now in Belgium he decided to stay there, and thus he became the court painter in his own country, which after all he greatly preferred to any other.
He was to have a salary of five hundred livres ($96) a year, also "the rights, honours, privileges, exemptions, etc." that belonged to those of the royal household; and he was given a gold chain. In this day of large doings there is something about such details that seems childish, but a "gold chain" was by no means a small affair at a time when $96 was considered an ample money-provision for an artist.
That gorgeous gold chain, a mark of distinction rather than a reward, is to be seen in all its glory in one of Rubens's great paintings. The artist himself is mounted upon a horse, the chain about his neck, while he is surrounded by "no fewer than eight-and-twenty life-size figures, many in gorgeous attire, warriors in steel armour, horsemen, slaves, camels, etc." This picture, "The Adoration of the Magi," was twelve feet by seventeen, and was painted at the town's expense. It was later sent to Spain and placed in the Madrid Gallery.
One of the greatest honours that could come to students of that day, was to be admitted to Rubens's studio to paint under his direction, and it is said that "hundreds of young men waited their turn, painting meanwhile in the studios of inferior artists, till they should be admitted to the studio of the great master."
Rubens was a king among painters, as well as a painter patronised by kings.
He had two wives, and he married the first one in 1609. Her name was Isabella Brant. Sir Joshua Reynolds said of her: "His wife is very handsome and has an agreeable countenance, but the picture is rather hard in manner"—by which he meant a picture which Rubens had painted of her. One of his greatest privileges when he was engaged at the court of Albert and Isabella, had been that he need obey none of the exactions of the Guild of St. Luke, none of their rigid rules concerning the employment of art students. Rubens could take into his service whom he pleased, whether they had been admitted as members of the guild or not, though to be a member of the guild was a testimony to their qualifications. In the end, this did a good deal of harm, for Rubens employed students to do the preliminary work of his pictures, who had not been his pupils and who were not otherwise qualified. Thus we read criticisms like that of Sir Joshua's; and many of Rubens's pictures are marred in this manner.
A story is told of Van Dyck and other pupils of Rubens breaking into the master's studio and smudging a picture which Van Dyck afterward repaired by painting in the damaged portion most successfully. We are also told in connection with Rubens's picture, "The Descent from the Cross," that Van Dyck restored an arm and shoulder of Mary of Magdala, but certainly Van Dyck did not become a pupil of Rubens till some time after that picture was painted.
The work of a wonderful period in Rubens's art was completely destroyed. In two years time he painted forty ceilings of churches in Antwerp, all of which were burned, but there is a record of them in the copies made by De Witt, in water colours from which etchings were afterward made. This work of Rubens was the first example of foreshortening done by a Flemish painter.
Above all things Rubens liked to paint big pictures, on very large surfaces, as did Michael Angelo. "The large size of picture gives us painters more courage to present our ideas with the utmost freedom and semblance of reality. ... I confess myself to be, by a natural instinct, better fitted to execute works of the largest size." He wrote this to the English diplomat Trumbull in 1621.
In the midst of Rubens's greatest success as a painter came his diplomatic services. It was desirable that Spain and England should be friends, and Rubens always moving about because of his work, and being so very clever, the Spanish powers thought him a good one to negotiate with England. While on a professional visit to Paris, the English Duke of Buckingham and the artist met, and this seemed to open a way for business. The Infanta consented to have Rubens undertake this delicate piece of statesmanship, but Philip of Spain did not like the idea of an artist—a wandering fellow, as an artist was then thought to be—entering into such a dignified affair. The real negotiator on the English side, was Gerbier, by birth also a Fleming, and strange to tell, he too had been an artist. The English engaged him to look after their interests in the affair, and as soon as Philip learned that their diplomat was also an artist, his prejudices against Rubens as a statesman, disappeared. So it was decided that the two Flemings, artists and diplomats, should meet in Holland to discuss matters. About that time Sir Dudley Carleton wrote to Lord Conway: "Rubens is come hither to Holland, where he now is, and Gerbier in his company, walking from town to town, upon their pretence of taking pictures, which may serve him for a few days if he dispatch and be gone; but yf he entertayne tyme here long, he will infallibly be layd hold of, or sent with disgrace out of the country ... this I have made known to Rubens lest he should meet with a skorne what may in some sort reflect upon others."
The two clever men got through with their talk, nothing unfortunate happened, and Rubens got off to Spain where he laid the result of his talk with Gerbier before the Spanish powers. He was given a studio in Philip's palace, where he carried on his art and his diplomacy. The king became delighted with him as a man and an artist, and as well as attending to state business, he did some wonderful painting while in Madrid. He was there nine months or more, and then started off for England to tell Charles I. of Philip III.'s wishes. But upon his arrival he learned that a peace had just been concluded between France and England, and all was excitement.
He was received in England as a great artist; every honour was showered upon him, and when he made Philip's request to Charles, that he should not act in a manner hostile to Spain, Charles agreed, and kept that agreement though France and Venice urged him to break it.
Charles knighted Rubens while he was in England, and the University of Cambridge made him Master of Arts. The sword used by the king at the time he gave the accolade is still kept by Rubens's descendants.
While he was in London Rubens was very nearly drowned in the Thames going down to Greenwich in a boat.
When he first went from Italy to Spain on a mission of state, he carried a note or passport bearing the following lines: "With these presents" (he took magnificent gifts to Philip, among them a carriage and six Neapolitan horses) "comes Peter Paul, a Fleming. Peter Paul will say all that is proper, like the well informed man that he is. Peter Paul is very successful in painting portraits. If any ladies of quality wish their pictures, let them take advantage of his presence." When he visited England there was no longer need of such introduction; he went in all the magnificence that his genius had earned for him.
Rubens was always a happy man, so far as history shows. He married the first time, a woman who was beautiful and who loved him, as he loved her. He was able to build for himself a beautiful house in Antwerp. In the middle of it was a great salon, big enough to hold all his collection of pictures, vases, bronzes, and beautiful jewels. There was also a magnificent staircase, up which his largest pictures could be easily carried, for it was built especially to accommodate the requirements of his work.
Rubens's greatest picture was painted through a strange happening when this beautiful house was being built. The land next to his belonged to the Archers' Guild and when the workmen came to dig Rubens's cellar, they went too far and invaded the adjoining property. The archers made complaint, and there seemed no way to adjust the matter, till some one suggested that Rubens make them a picture which should be accepted as compensation for the harm done. This Rubens did, and the picture was to be St. Christopher—the archers' patron saint; but when the work was done "Rubens surprised them" by exhibiting a picture "of all who could ever have been called 'Christ-bearers.'" This was "The Descent from the Cross"—not a single picture but a picture within a picture, for there were shutters folding in front of it, and on these was painted the archers' patron, St. Christopher.
Rubens's daily life is described thus: "His life was very methodical. He rose at four, attended mass, breakfasted, and painted for hours; then he rested, dined, worked until late afternoon; then, after riding for an hour or two one of his spirited horses, and later supping, he would spend the evening with his friends.
"He was fond of books, and often a friend would read aloud to him while he worked." This is a pleasant picture of a reasonable and worthy life.
It is said that once he painted eighteen pictures in eighteen days, and it is known that he valued his time at fifty dollars a day.
His pupil, Van Dyck, being pushed for money, turned alchemist and tried to manufacture gold, but when Rubens was approached by a visionary who wanted him to lend him money by which he might pursue such a work, promising Rubens a fortune when he should have discovered how to make his gold, the artist laughed and said: "You are twenty years too late, friend. When I wield these," indicating his palette and brush, "I turn all to gold."
Many are the delightful anecdotes told of Rubens. It is said that while he was at the English court he was painting the ceiling of the king's banqueting hall, and a courtier who stood watching, wished to say something pour passer le temps, so he asked: "Does the ambassador of his Catholic Majesty sometimes amuse himself with painting?"
"No—but he sometimes amuses himself with being an ambassador," was the witty retort, which showed how he valued his two commissions.
When King Charles I. knighted Rubens he gave him, beside the jewelled sword, a golden chain to which his miniature was attached. If Rubens had gone about with all the chains and decorations given him by kings and other great ones of the earth he would have been weighted down, and would have needed two pairs of shoulders on which to display them.
Rubens's first wife died; and when he married again, he was as fond of painting pictures of the second wife as he had been of the first. The name of the second was Helena Fourment, and she is called by one author "a spicy blonde." Certainly she was very gay, big, and robust, and only sixteen years old when she married Rubens who was then a man of fifty-three. Of one picture, "The Straw Hat," for which he is supposed to have used his wife's sister as model, he was so fond that he would not sell it at any price.
Rubens had a rare mother, as shown in her letters to her husband, John, when he was in prison for his wrongdoing. It would seem that such a mother must have a strong, forceful son, and Rubens is less of a surprise than many artists who had no such influence in their childhood. The history of Rubens's mother is worthy of being told even had she not had a famous son who painted a beautiful picture of her.
Rubens's "Holy Families" are like those of no other painter. The Virgin, the Child, all the others in the picture, are quite different from the Italian figures. These are human beings, good to look upon; full of love and joy, softness and beauty.
It was his learning that first won favour for him in Italy. The Duke of Mantua hearing him read from Virgil, spoke to him in Latin, and being answered in that tongue was so charmed that the foundation of their friendship and the duke's patronage was laid. In Italy he was called "the antiquary and Apelles of our time."
His nephew-biographer writes of him: "He never gave himself the pastime of going to parties where there was drinking and card-playing, having always had a dislike for such."
As Rubens grew in fame, he found that many were jealous of him, and on one occasion a rival proposed that he and Rubens each paint a picture upon a certain subject and leave it to judges to decide which work was the best—Rubens's or his own.
"No," said Rubens. "My attempts have been subjected to the scrutiny of connoisseurs in Italy and Spain. They are to be found in public collections and private galleries in those countries; gentlemen are at liberty to place their works beside them, in order that comparison may be made." This was a dignified way of disposing of the case.
Rubens loved to paint animals, and he had a great lion brought to his home, that he might study its poses and movements.
The flesh of his figures was so lifelike that Guido declared he must mix blood with his paints. He was called "the painter of life."
Rubens, a seventh child, had also seven children, two belonging to his first wife, five to the second.
Many stories are told of his patience and his kindness. It is said that at one time his old pupil, Van Dyck, returned to Antwerp after an absence, greatly depressed and in need of money. Rubens bought all his unsold pictures, and he did this charitable act more than once, and is known to have done the same thing for a rival and enemy, out of sheer goodness of heart.
Kings and queens came to the Rubens house, people of many nations did him honour; and toward his closing days, when gout had disabled him, ambassadors visited him, since he could not go to them.
In a description of his death and burial which took place at Antwerp we read: "He was buried at night as was the custom, a great concourse of citizens ... and sixty orphan children with torches followed the body." He was placed in the vault of the Fourment family, and as he had requested, "The Holy Family" was hung above him. In that picture, we find the St. George to be Rubens himself; St. Jerome, his father; an angel, his youngest son, while Martha and Mary are Isabella and Helena, his two wives.
He left many sketches "to whichever of his sons became an artist, or to the husband of his daughter who should marry an artist." But there were none such to claim the bequest.
PLATE—THE INFANT JESUS AND ST. JOHN
The little girl behind Jesus is supposed to represent his future bride, the Christian Church. The thoughtful, far-seeing look upon the face of the Christ-child, though it does not clash with His youthful charm, is meant to suggest that He has a premonition of His work in the world. The other joyous little figures also demonstrate the artist's love for children. He brings them into his pictures, as cherubs, wherever he can, and they are frequently just as well painted and more universally appreciated than his stout women. In this picture he has a good opportunity to show his adorable flesh tints, combined with the movement and freedom naturally associated with child life.
The original painting is in the Court Museum at Vienna, but it has always been so popular that many copies of it have been made, and one of these is in the Berlin Gallery.
PLATE—THE ARTIST'S TWO SONS (See Frontispiece)
This picture hangs in the Lichtenstein Gallery at Vienna; the two boys, eleven and seven years of age, are the sons of Rubens by his first wife, Isabella Brant; and Albert, the elder of the two, greatly resembles his mother. He is evidently a student, for he wears the dress of one and carries a book in one hand. The other is placed affectionately upon the shoulder of his little brother, Nicolas, whose face, figure, and attire are all much the more childish of the two.
Critics consider this painting to mark the Highest point which Rubens reached in portraiture. It has all the colour, character, and vitality of his best work. Some of his other pictures are: "Coronation of Marie de Medicis," "The Kirmesse," "Slaughter of the Innocents," "Susanna's Bath," "Capture of Samson," "A Lion Hunt" and "The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus."
JOHN SINGER SARGENT
American and Foreign Schools 1856-1926 Pupil of Carolus Durand
This artist was born in Europe, of American parents; thus we may say that he was "American," though he owed nothing but dollars to the United States, since his instruction was obtained in Italy and France, and all his associations in art and friendship were there. He was probably the most brilliant of the artists termed American. His great mural work in the Boston Public Library, is hardly to be surpassed.
Above all, Sargent's portraits are masterly. He was famous in that branch of art before he was twenty-eight years old. Among his finest portraits is that of "Carmencita," a Spanish dancer, who for a time set the world wild with pleasure. The list of his famous portraits is very long.
Sargent's father was a Philadelphia physician; who originally came from New England, but the artist himself was born in Florence. He was given a good education and grew up with the beauties of Florence all about him, in a refined and charming home. He was the delight of his master, Carolus Durand for he was modest and refined, yet full of enthusiasm and energy. In his twenty-third year he painted a fine picture of his master. Sargent was a musician as well as a painter; a man of great versatility, as if the gods and all the muses had presided at his birth.
In this picture of the famous Spanish dancer Sargent shows all the life and character he can put into a portrait. The girl seems on the point of springing into motion. She is poised, ready for flight and the proud lift of her head makes one believe that she will accomplish the most difficult steps she attempts. The painting is in the Luxembourg, Paris.
Other noted Sargent portraits are "Mr. Marquand" in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, "Lady Elcho, Mrs. Arden, Mrs. Tennant," "Mrs. Meyer and Children," "Homer St. Gaudens," "Henschel," and "Mr. Penrose."
TINTORETTO (JACOPO ROBUSTI)
Venetian School 1518-1594 Pupil of Titian
Tintoretto was born with an ideal. As a young boy he wrote upon his studio wall: "The drawing of Michael Angelo, the colouring of Titian," and that was the end he tried to reach. His father was a "tintore"—a dyer of silk, a tinter—and it was from the character of that work the artist took his name. He helped his father with the dyeing of silks, while he was still a child, and was called "II tintoretto," little dyer.
As the little tinter showed great genius for painting, his father placed him in Titian's studio, but for some reason he only stayed there a few days, long enough, however, to permit us to call him a pupil of Titian; especially as he wrote that master's name upon his wall and determined to imitate him. After his few days with Titian, Tintoretto studied with Schiavone and afterward set up a studio for himself.
As a determined lad in this studio of his, Tintoretto tried every means of developing his art. He studied the figures upon Medicean tombs made by Michael Angelo, taking plaster casts of them and copying them in his studio. He used to hang little clay figures up by strings attached to his ceiling, that he might get the effect of them high in air. By looking at them thus from below he gained an idea of foreshortening.
Although this artist nearly succeeded in getting into line with Michael Angelo, he did not colour after the fashion of his master, Titian. Tintoretto was about twenty-eight years old before he got any very big commission, but at that age a chance came to him. In the church of Santa Maria del Orto were two great bare spaces, unsightly and vast, about fifty feet high and twenty broad. In that day anything and everything was decorated with masterpieces, and it was almost disgraceful for a church to let such a space as that go unfrescoed. Tintoretto saw an opportunity, and finally offered to paint pictures there for nothing if the church would agree to pay for the materials he needed. The church certainly was not going to refuse such an offer, even if Tintoretto was not thought to be much of an artist at the time. If the work was poor, one day they could choose to have it repainted. Thus Tintoretto got his first great opportunity. He painted on those walls "The Last Judgment" and "The Golden Calf." They made him famous, and gained him the commission to paint the picture which is used as an illustration here.
The brothers of the Scuola di San Rocco asked him to compete with Veronese, in painting the ceilings after he had done four pictures for their walls.
Tintoretto consented, and Veronese and two others who were in the competition set about making their sketches which they were to present for the brothers' consideration. Finaly the day of decision came. All were assembled, the artists armed with sketches of their plans.
"Where are yours, Tintoretto?" the others asked. "We expect a drawing of your idea."
"Well, there it is," the artist answered, drawing a screen from the ceiling. Behold! he had already painted it to suit himself. The work was complete.
"That is the way I make my sketches," he said.
Though the work was magnificent it had not been done according to the monks' ideas of business and order. They objected and objected.
"Very well," the artist cried; "I will make the ceiling a present to you." As there was a rule of their order forbidding them to refuse a present, they had to accept Tintoretto's. This did not promise very good business at the time, but the work was so splendid and Tintoretto so reasonable that they finally agreed to give him all the work of their order—nearly enough to keep him employed during a lifetime. After that he painted sixty great pictures upon their walls.
He painted so much and so fast that he did not always do good work, and one critic declares that "while Tintoretto was the equal of Titian, he was often inferior to Tintoretto"—which after all is a very fine compliment.
His life was so tranquil and uneventful that there is little to say of it; but there is much to say of his art. He lived mostly in his studio, and when he died he was buried in the Santa Maria del Orto—the church in which he had done his first work.
Veronese had given to Venice a brilliant, glowing, rich, ravishing riot of colour and figures, but Tintoretto was said to rise up "against the joyful Veronese as the black knight of the Middle Ages, the sombre priest of a gloomy art." Tintoretto was of stormy temperament, and upon one occasion he proved it by thrusting a pistol under a critic's nose, after he had invited him to his studio; it is this half savage spirit that may be seen in his paintings. He had deep-set, staring eyes, it is said, a furrowed brow and hollow cheeks, indicative of his passionate spirit. He painted very few female figures, but mostly men. When he did paint a woman, she looked mannish and not beautiful. When he painted gorgeous subjects, like doges and senators, he gave to them gloomy backgrounds, awe-inspiring poses, and he seldom painted a figure "full-face" but three-quarter, or half, so that he did not give himself a chance to present human figures in beautiful postures. He is said to have been the first who painted groups of well-known men in pictures intended for the decoration of public buildings. One great critic has written that "while the Dutch, in order to unite figures, represented them at a banquet, Tintoretto's nobili (aristocrats) were far too proud to show themselves to the people" in so gay and informal a situation. With the coming of Tintoretto it was said "a dark cloud had overcast the bright heaven of Venetian art. Instead of smiling women, bloody martyrs and pale ascetics" were painted by him. He dissected the dead in order to learn the structure of the human body. In his paintings "his women, especially, with their pale livid features and encircled eyes, strangely sparkling as if from black depths, have nothing in common with the soft" painted flesh which he pictured in his youth while he was following Titian as closely as he could. As he grew older and his art more fixed, he followed Michael Angelo more and more. Titian's colouring was that of "an autumn day" but Tintoretto's that of a "dismal night." Yet these very qualities in Tintoretto's work made him great.
PLATE—THE MIRACLE OF ST. MARK
This painting in the Academy at Venice tells the story of how a Christian slave who belonged to a pagan nobleman went to worship at the shrine of St. Mark. That was unlawful. The nobleman had his slave taken before the judge, who ordered him to be tortured. Just as the executioner raised the hammer with which he was finally to kill the slave, St. Mark himself came down from heaven, broke the weapon and rescued the slave.
The figure of the patron saint of Venice is swooping down, head first, above the group, his garments flying in the air. A bright light touches the slave's naked body, as he lies upon his back, the executioner having turned away and raised his hammer aloft, while others have drawn back in fright at the appearance of the patron saint. We may imagine that Tintoretto was trying to acquire this power of painting wonderful figures hovering in the air when he hung his little clay images from the ceiling of his studio years before. Other pictures of his are: "The Marriage of Bacchus and Ariadne," "Martyrdom of St. Agnes," "St. Rocco Healing the Sick," "The Annunciation," "The Crucifixion," and many others.
TITIAN (TIZIANO VECELLI)
(Pronounced Tit-zee-ah'no (Vay-chel'lee)) Venetian School 1477-1576 Pupil of Giovanni and Gentile Bellini
Titian was a child of the Tirol Mountains, handsome, strong, full of health and fine purposes, even as a boy. He was born in a little cottage at Pieve, in the valley of Cadore, through which flows the River Piave; and he wandered daily beside its banks, gathering flowers from which he squeezed the juices to paint with. When he grew up he became a wonderful colourist, and from his boyhood nothing so much delighted him as the brilliant colours flaunted by the flowers of wood and field.
Gathered about his good father's hearth were many children, Caterina, Francesco, Orsa, and the rest, living in peace and happiness, closely bound together by love. Titian had a gentle, loving mother named Lucia, while his father was a soldier and an honoured man. In the little town where they lived, he was councillor and also superintendent of the castle and inspector of mines, no light honours among those simple country people. Doubtless Titian inherited his splendid bearing and his determined character from his soldier father.
Even while a little child, the man who was destined to become a great artist began his work with the juices of the wild-flowers, which he daubed upon the wall of the humble home in the Tirol valley, making a Madonna with angels at her feet and a little Jesus upon her knee. But if Titian was a great painter, he was never even a fair scholar. He went to school, but would not, or could not, study. His father soon saw that he was wasting his time and being made very unhappy through being forced to do that for which he had no ability; so he was soon released from book-learning and sent to Venice, seventy-five miles from home, to learn art. In Venice, the Vecelli family had an uncle, and it was with him that Titian lived, though he studied first with Sebastian Zuccato, the head of the Venetian guild of mosaic workers, and a pretty good teacher in his way. He was not able to teach Titian very much, for the boy was an inspired artist and needed a good master; so, after a little, the family held a consultation and it was decided that Titian should become the pupil of Gentile Bellini, a very clever artist indeed. There was an interesting story told about this master which made the Vecellis feel that their boy would do well to be under the influence of a kind-hearted man, as well as a genius. It seems that Bellini's fame had become so great that the Sultan had sent for him to paint the portraits of himself and the Sultana. Bellini went gladly to Turkey to do this; but he took with him certain pictures to show his patron. Among them was one of St. John the Baptist having his head cut off. The Sultan looked at it, and cutting heads off being a large part of his business, he saw that Bellini had not scientifically painted it, and in order to show him the true way to conduct such matters, he sent for a slave and ordered his head chopped off in Bellini's presence. Bellini was so terrified and sickened by the dreadful sight that he fled from Turkey and would not paint its ruler, the Sultana nor anyone else who had to do with such cruel things as he had witnessed.
It was into this man's studio that Titian went as a young boy, but after a little he displeased Gentile Bellini, who complained that his pupil worked too fast, and therefore could not expect to do great work. He declared that picture painting was serious and careful work, and that Titian was too careless and quick. As a matter of fact, Titian was too wonderful for Bellini ever to do much for; and since he could not get on with him, he went to another master—Gentile Bellini's brother, Giovanni. One of Titian's chief troubles in the studio of Gentile had been that he was not allowed to use the gorgeous colouring he loved, but in the brother's studio he found to his joy that colour was more valued, and he was given more freedom to use it. Also there was a young peasant pupil with Giovanni, who, like Titian, loved to use beautiful colours, and he and the newcomer became fast friends.