London, Volume 6
CXLI.-The National Gallery and Soane Museum.
CXLI.-The National Gallery and Soane Museum.
cannot but wish that the had either a less ambitious title, or that those who have influence over its destinies would hasten to make the collection worthy of such a designation. There is something to our minds painful in contemplating the conduct of those who may be said to have represented the nation in this matter. From the time, , that the ministry was induced, with some difficulty, to purchase the Angerstein pictures, in number, private benefactors have continually stepped forth, sometimes even giving their entire collections, the fruits of long years of research and industry, and involving the expenditure of immense sums of money, to promote the formation of an institution they deemed so desirable: thus, in , Sir George Beaumont, who had half bribed the ministry into the former purchase by a promise of his collection, gave pictures; in , the Rev. Holwell Carr bequeathed ; in , Lieut.-Colonel Olney bequeathed ; in , Lord Farnborough bequeathed ; and at various periods numerous other benefactors have presented or bequeathed some more,--a total of above pictures, for which we are indebted to private munificence. And while all this has been doing for the people, what has the people done for itself? Tremble, public economists, as we announce the
|profligate system of expenditure which must have been carried on! Great Britain, in the years of its labours in the formation of a Gallery, has actually purchased on the average above pictures a-year-we fear, almost . It is a fact that, in this year of grace , we possess not less than pictures, filling very nearly moderate-sized apartments, and small ones! No wonder that Mr. Wilkins and his supporters built an insufficient Gallery: who could have anticipated such headlong work as this?
But, seriously, if we really do believe in the value of such exhibitions, how are we to account for our faith being so very unproductive of tangible results? There is a collection at Frankfort of recent date, and owing its existence to an individual, which already nearly doubles our collection in the ; at Berlin a gallery was commenced about the same period as the latter, and it has already about pictures; the Dresden Gallery contains about ; the Louvre, ; the Florentine, ; whilst Louis of Bavaria and his people possess, in the magnificent Pinacothek at Munich, a gallery numbering no less than pictures. Is it that the people of England have no taste for these things? The late Cartoon exhibition has set at rest that notion for ever. But the itself, destitute as we shall by and by show it is of any kindly assistance to the poor, humble, and necessarily artistically ignorant class of visitors, whom it is most desirable to see there, yet presents in its own records decisive testimony that it is not the people who are indifferent. Let us but think for a moment of the average daily number of visitors, nearly , or of the extent to which a holiday opportunity is used-by persons, for instance, on a Whit Monday-or of the growing increase, almost as striking here as at the Museum, from visitors in the year , to in the year , to , and we must be still more surprised at the pitiful spirit in which the has been treated.
But, of course, what pictures we have are arranged to the best advantage. There must be keepers and attendants, and we have a right to presume competent ones; men who understand that
who know how the
and are able to develope their understanding and knowledge in practice by a consummate arrangement of the works under their charge. Let us see. As we ascend the staircase, cartoons, in the darker part of the passage at the top, catch the eyeevidently fine ones, though we can with difficulty make out the outlines; the subjects are Cephalus and Aurora, and Galatea, by Agostino Caracci, forming the painter's studies for the chief lateral compartments in the fresco ceiling of the Farnese Gallery at Rome. No doubt there must be some fine object in view in placing them here, isolated from and advanced before all the other works of art, and in a situation so disadvantageous to themselves as regards light, though we own we do not perceive what that object is; and whilst we don't choose to believe that it is it is a cartoon particularly requiring light and careful choice of place that it is put here, as a bystander informs us, we are unable to answer the calumny; so we step into the little room on the right, hoping to find
| there the commencement (or perhaps the termination) of the pictorial history so well described by the lady (Mrs. Jameson) whose sentences we have before transcribed. Hogarth's portrait, and his series of pictures,
--Gainsborough, Wilson, Wilkie-yes, this room must be devoted to the English school-ay, West, Reynolds, here they are. But what is this? Canaletti; surely he was not an Englishman: Lancret, too, the French scholar and imitator of Watteau. We are puzzled. Let us try the other little room on the opposite side of the passage. English again: Sir Thomas Lawrence's beautiful picture of John Kemble as Hamlet, West, Hoppner; but here, too, is Canaletti, again representing his school, the Venetian--nor he alone, some of the Dutch painters' works keep his and the Englishmen's company. What can all this mean? Surely the pictures are not hung up in disregard of any order whatever, whether of school or time? Suppose we step forward into the suite of apartments beyond us. Well, in the of them, here is English Reynolds, in his picture of the Graces around the altar of Hymen; Italian Domenichino, with his
French Nicholas Poussin, with his Phineas and his followers turned to stone at the sight of the Gorgon's head; Neapolitan Salvator Rosa, Spanish Velasquez, Dutch John Both, Flemish-no, we do not see any Flemish picture, so we must give up the idea of the representation of all the schools, that we began to fancy was aimed at. It is hardly necessary after this to go into the other rooms to perceive that the fact is that our , while miserably small in its extent for such a nation as England, is positively disgraceful in its arrangements; that so far from teaching its humble visitors any portion of the history of art, it perplexes and confounds whatever little knowledge of it they may possess, by the inextricable jumble presented of works of different countries, different periods of time, and essentially different schools or classes of painting. The authoritative explanation of such a state of things is not the least curious part of the business. The late keeper, Mr. Seguier, was examined on the subject by a parliamentary committee; and here is a specimen of the evidence. He is asked,
to which he answers,
When further asked if he has ever turned his attention to such
the reply is,
And why? It is true that if we had a building worthy to contain a of pictures, much more room would be occupied by them, under an excellent system of arrangement, than now; because the absent individual pictorial facts required to complete the general pictorial history would be marked by bare spaces, at once telling what would be very desirable to be known, that there were such deficiencies, and ready for the accommodation of the pictures that properly belonged to them, whenever these might be attained. But what has this to do with the essential question of arrangement or no arrangement in the existing building? The
| pictures might certainly be grouped together into schools, and with a due observance of the more important epochs as to the matter of time, without taking up an inch of extra room; and we are happy to see that even in Mr. Seguier's case there were only a
between his opinions and our own. With Mr. Seguier's successor, just appointed, there can be little fear, we imagine, that such innocent words will be any longer allowed to do so much mischief. That appointment seems to us full of promise for the future prosperity of the ; and makes the present a peculiarly fitting time for the introduction of the topics on which we have taken the liberty to say a few words --progress-improvement. As regards the general management of the institution, it is most liberal and judicious; the public are admitted the days in the week, without fees or invidious distinctions; the other days are appropriated to the use of students. The entire annual expense of the Gallery is somewhat short of a-year.
We propose now to look at the contents of the Gallery in something like the order we may suppose would be observed under a better system. Unfortunately, we seek in vain in any
But commencing with these men, the grand masters of the schools of modern painting, the chief features of European artistical history may be traced downwards to the present time, with sufficient precision for ordinary purposes, by means of these pictures. Of the works of that universal and precocious genius, Lionardo da Vinci (-),[n.243.1] who made his own master give up painting altogether in despair in consequence of the superiority of a single figure :painted by the pupil in a picture the master had in hand of the
we have but example,
which has become so completely a matter of doubt, that its subject and painter have been both questioned. It is said really to represent Joseph interpreting Pharaoh's Dream, which agrees better certainly with the age, and expression of the principal figure, and the work has been ascribed to Bernardino Luini by Waagen, and to Andrea Solario by a well-informed writer in the
Mrs. Jameson considers the design to bear too much evidence of the master's style to be for a moment doubted, whilst inclining apparently to the general belief that it was executed by of Lionardo's best scholars. Passing from the founder of the Milan school to the still greater founder of the Elorentine, Michael Angelo (-), we are again reminded of the defects of the Gallery. Of all the works of that mighty master-spirit, we have here no originals direct from his hand; the extraordinary little picture entitled
being but a fine copy, and the painter's share in the of the most important works in the (allery, is confined to the composition and drawing, the picture itself being painted by Sebastian del Piombo, a glorious portrait-painter and colourist, but unequal to the sublimities
| of such a work. Michael Angelo is known to have frequently assisted Sebastian, who was of the few that supported his cause in the contest then going on between his partisans and those of Raphael; but the general history of the furnishes more direct evidence of the connection; notwithstanding the circumstance--that the exact facts are in dispute. Mrs. Jameson believes them to have been these:--Michael Angelo, with characteristic haughtiness, disdained to enter into any acknowledged rivalry with Raphael, and put forward Sebastian del Piombo as no unworthy competitor of the great Roman painter. Raphael bowed before Michael Angelo, but he felt too strongly his superiority to Sebastian to yield the palm to him. To determine this point, the Cardinal Giulio de Medici, afterward Clement VII., commanded this picture of the
from Sebastian, and at the same time commissioned Raphael to paint the
both were intended by the Cardinal as altar-pieces for his cathedral of Narbonne, he having lately been created Archbishop of Narbonne by Francis I.--On this occasion, Michael Angelo, well aware of the deficiencies of his friend Sebastian, furnished him with the design, and, as it is supposed, drew some of the figures himself on the canvas ; [n.244.1] but he was so far from doing this secretly, that Raphael heard of it, and is said to have exclaimed,
The pictures were exhibited together at Rome. in , the year of Raphael's death; when, according to Vasari, both were infinitely admired, though the supereminent grace and beauty of Raphael gained the general suffrage of victory. From Narbonne the Raising of Lazarus' passed into the famous Orleans collection, and thence at the sale in England in to Mr. Angerstein for guineas, who it is said was afterwards offered by Mr. Beckford, but broke the negociation by insisting on guineas; and again by the French government, in order that they might place it by the side of its original rival then in the Louvre, which was also refused. The surface was seriously injured until West retouched it-and it is said, we know not, with what truth, that he so largely worked upon it as to leave scarcely any portion of the picture untouched. other specimens of the Florentine school are in the Gallery; the a
said to be by Andrea del Sarto, who, after Michael Angelo and Fra Bartolomeo, ranks in the school, but which is either not by him, or very unworthy of him, though unfortunately our only presumed specimen of the master; the , a
The only pictures here that enable us to judge of the state of painting prior to the period of the appearance of the constellation before just enumerated, are by Van Eyck, of which we shall hereafter speak, by Francia, and by Pietro Perugino, Raphael's master. Francia (-) belonged to what may be termed the early Bolognese school, but the principles on which he painted are so evidently like those of Perugino, that we may safely look on the works as most interesting and valuable examples of the materials that existed for the erection of that mighty school which was to call Raphael architect. Francia's pictures consist of the portions of an altar-piece, namely, a
and on a lunette or arch, a
the head supported by the Virgin Mother on her lap, and with angels at the head and feet; both so pure, so simple, and so divinely holy in character and expression, that the sight of them, amidst the miscellaneous assemblage of pictures around, seems like a sudden light from above. And these are by a goldsmith of Bologna, a man who never touched pencil or palette till he was ! The
by Perugino (-), has much of the same simplicity, purity, and elevation, and shows that Raphael's master deserves infinitely more attention and honour, for his own sake, and for what he must have taught his
pupil than for the mere accidental fact of his having been Raphael's master, which has hitherto chiefly made him known in this country. Perhaps, indeed, we have hardly an instance of man of such thoroughly original and independent powers as the painter of the
deriving so much from another, as did the painter of the exquisite
that have filled the civilized world in form and another with the sense of divinest loveliness, many of which are known to have been borrowed from Perugino, though enhanced in the borrowing. We are certainly richer in our specimens of Raphael (-) than of the other great men we have mentioned. We have the
so noble in conception and so splendid in execution; the Cartoon of the
belonging to the same original series of as the at , and deposited here by the Governors of the , a work which cannot help fancying must have been traced by the hand as well as the energy of a giant; and, lastly, the portrait of
almost unequalled in all the essentials of a grand portrait-painting; all important works, though still too few in number to do justice to this wonderful painter, who, like Shakspere, seemed the product of the mingled greatness of his time. Vasari says of the portrait of the Pope, now in the Gallery, that it was so like as to inspire fear as if it were alive; a remark that gives us as fine a glimpse of the character of the great patron of Raphael and Michael Angelo, as the story of the statue made by the latter, who, having exhibited his clay model, the Pope was so struck with the terrible expression that he asked,
Michael replied that his object was to represent him admonishing the people of Bologna, and asked him if he should place a book in of the hands.
was the warlike pontiff's impetuous exclamation;
Of the pupils of Raphael, we have a single specimen, a
of his chief favourite, Giulio Romano (-), who assisted him in many of his works, was made by him his chief heir when he died, and what was still more remarkable, commissioned by Raphael's express direction to complete the works he should leave unfinished. No fear that the reputation of Romano would fall into oblivion, even if every of his productions were to perish; we should always feel ihe must indeed have been a rare painter, to whom Raphael would have confided such an executorship. The
is a small picture, and therefore not exactly of the class to illustrate Romano's excellence; it is in grand mythological subjects on a scale of proportionate grandeur that his soul found room to develop itself worthily. Garofalo (-), so called from his device, the clove-pink, was another pupil of Raphael's; of his works adorn the Gallery. Of the remaining painters of the Roman school, Baroccio (-) contributes picture, a
reminding us of the saying applied to him as to Parrhasius, that his personages looked as though they fed on roses; Caravaggio (-) ,
vulgar enough in conception, but rich and true in tone,--it was said of him by of the Caracci, that he
rather than colour;--Guercino (-) , a
in which we may trace Caravaggio's influence over his friend in the striking effects of the light and shade, with an elegance and dignity that Caravaggio had no conception of; Mola (-) , among them a very beautiful
Carlo Maratti (-) ; and Pannini (-) .
The remarkable and most harmonious variety of excellencies of the great leaders in the modern artistical movement is very striking; it seems almost like a new version of the story of Minerva and the head of Jupiter-painting at once appeared to spring upon the world so fully armed and appointed. Whilst Raphael gave us new conceptions of loveliness in feature and form, of composition, and of character, and Michael Angelo drew gods and men like gods, investing them with an almost supernatural grandeur, Titian (-) and his followers, dipping their pencils in the rainbow, witch'd the world with their colouring, leaving to Correggio the perfecting the knowledge of all the subtle mysteries of light and shade. And now our Gallery begins to look rich. , , , , -Titians, and of them, at least, glorious examples of the master. Look at that great black eagle with outstretched wings soaring away with the beautiful boy, Ganymede, the future cup-bearer of the gods. What fine contrasts of colour! what delicious effects of tone in the rosy limbs! or this
which, in the words of Ludovico Dolce, in a letter to a friend written on seeing a duplicate,
or, greatest of all this
taken altogether, of the finest things in existence, and which may be described in the lines that Titian evidently had in view when he painted it
They meet-Bacchus and Ariadne--on the sea-shore, the god leaping impatiently fromn his chariot, the distressed maiden startled for a moment out of her accustomed thoughts of the flown Theseus, but passing hurriedly on. We must not dwell on the remaining pictures by Titian,
Of the other illustrious of the school of the city of the waters, Giorgione (-) is said to have painted the
that is in the Gallery; but the work suggests little of the merits of him who was no unworthy rival of Titian, and, according to Waagen, it is ascribed to him on insufficient grounds. We have already mentioned the share that Sebastian del Piombo (-) had in the great picture of the
Of his own works there are ; a portrait of Giulia Gonzaga, and a picture with portraits of himself (a magnificent-looking fellow, certainly, with a beard that would do honour to an Eastern emperor) and Cardinal Hippolito, the Maecenas of his time, who, without territories or subjects, lived at Bologna in a state that surpassed any Italian potentate's; and when the Pope caused some representation to be made to him as to the propriety of dismissing some of his retainers, as unnecessary to him, replied,
is represented in the Gallery by a
This is the painter of whom the curious story is told:--He was sent as a scholar to Titian whilst young, and a few days after Titian happened to find some very spirited drawings lying about his studio, and inquired as to the author. Tintoretto stepped forward, no doubt proud enough; when Titian ordered another scholar to-conduct him home. Tintoretto then purchased casts, chiefly from Michael Angelo's statues, inscribed his artistical faith on the walls of his apartment-Michael Angelo's design and Titian's colour-and set to work: the result was that, without particularly imitating either, he became what he desired, and in a high sense of the term--a painter. The other productions of the Venetian school are a portrait by Bassano (-), the Italian Rembrandt, as he has been called; a curious picture representing the building of the Tower of Babel, where the mode of building so important a work seems as primitive as the time, by Bassano's son, Leandro (-); a
by Paul Veronese (-), the a very fine work, but still giving us inadequate notions of the gorgeous style of the artist; a
by Padovanino (-); a
by Alessandro Veronese (-), called also L'Orbetto, from a noticeable event in the painter's history, his having when a boy led about an old blind beggar, said to have been his own father; and Canaletti (-), from whom we have pictures, views in and round Venice, the subjects that of all others his fancy best loved to luxuriate in.
said the great Venetian, on seeing of the works of the latter; and we can feel the full force of the eloquent and most significant exclamation, as we look upon these treasures of art, the
(who that has once seen can ever forget the face of the Virgin Mary in that picture, which is finer even than that of Christ), and
(La Vierge au Panier), of the great artist's greatest works: nor are these all our possessions; there are different pictures of studies of heads, angels and seraphim, and the
though this last is either a copy or a duplicate of the original in the possession of the Duke of Wellington. Of the
by Correggio (-), it has been said, that
[n.248.1] Will it be believed that all this perfection of hand, heart, and soul was achieved in ignorance of the great works of his contemporaries, consequently, was an altogether unaided advance upon the state of art that prevailed when he began his career in his own native Lombardy? Yet so it was; and when at last a production of Raphael's met his eye--a
we can imagine and sympathise with the varied feelings and emotions that it called forth.
were his words, after a long examination. Though not a pupil, Parmegiano (-) was evidently an imitator of Correggio; he is the painter of this tall picture, the
where St. John, in the foreground, is pointing to the Virgin and youthful Christ in the clouds, while St. Jerome is asleep in the background. A great compliment to art was paid through the medium of this work, if Waagen's supposition be correct, that it was this on which Parmegiano was engaged during the assault upon Rome by the troops of the Constable Bourbon; an event of which the painter was so delightfully unconscious that the news he received of it came in the shape of the hostile German soldiers looking to see what plunder might be obtained. What followed was enough to make wish to blot all remembraRces of former misdeeds of the Goths and Vandals of the north. The soldiers stopped to gaze on the work before them, became entranced by its beauty, and quitted the place, as that should be sacred from all tumults, even the very unscrupulous and unrespecting ones of war. Unfortunately, another party afterwards seized the painter, and exacted ransom, in consequence of which he left Rome in poverty, and went to Bologna, where and at Parma he grew again wealthy and famous-then left the real art of alchymy he possessed for the nominal , and died poor. Though executed at the early age of , this
is esteemed, in spite of its exaggerations and other defects, of Parmegiano's finest productions.
Of the Paduan school and its chief, Andrea Martcgna, we have nothing; but of theFerrara school, a kind of branch of the Paduan, there are pictures, by Mazzolino da Ferrara (-), and by Ercole Grandi da Ferrara, -; all religious subjects, and all interesting as showing the state of art in that part of Italy before Garoolo returned from Raphael's studio, and informed his works with much of his master's grace and grandeur.
By the time of the Reformation the followers of the great men who had shed such splendour over the commencement of the century had ceased to deserve that name, and might, in some cases at least, be rather called their caricaturists: such, for instance, in their more important works, were the professed disciples of the great Florentine, Vasari, the historian of painting, and Bronzino, whom we have before mentioned. Signs of decay were everywhere visible. It was as if the grandeur and beauty that the small, but most memorable band of men, the Da Vincis and Raphaels, the Michael Angelos, Titians, and Correggios, had suddenly introduced into the world, had been too great an advance for the taste and knowledge of men generally, who, after a brief fit of overwrought admiration and excitement, fell back, through the natural effects of re-action, into a worse than their former state. But the progress of the new faith infused new vigour and energy into the old ; and where the contest did not end in establishing the Protestant, it undoubtedly helped to refix more firmly in its foundation the Roman Catholic religion. Such was the case in Italy; and the arts soon felt the impulse. Towards the latter part of the century there were living at Bologna brothers and their cousin, bent on no less a task than the establishment of a grand school of painting of a somewhat different class than any that had gone before. To the results of a close study of nature and of the antique they desired to add the results of an equally attentive examination of every great master's peculiar qualities; and thus produce, in theory at least, works of still loftier excellence. These men, having made themselves worthy of such a position, opened a studio in the house of the cousin, Ludovico, to prepare others, who might also carry on the good work. This was the foundation of the famous eclectic school of Bologna by the Carracci; of whom, Agostino (-), drew the Cartoons in the vestibule or passage before mentioned; another, Ludovico (-), who planned the school and chiefly guided its operations, is the painter of the
and of the copy of Correggio's
whilst the and greatest, Annibale (-), enriches the Gallery with a noble series of works, no less than in number, among which are indeed gems, the and the
both are painted in distemper, and originally, it is supposed, decorated the same harpsichord. It is not unworthy of remark, as showing how greatly application may develop excellence, that of the Carracci, whilst Agostino, who was of a light gay disposition, worked at the easel but by fits and starts,--whilst Ludovico, whose phlegmatic temperament and lofty mind naturally inclined him to study and work, laboured steadily in his vocation,--it is Annibale, the often rude and impatient, but always generous and enthusiastic, who surpassed both in the incessant character of his application and in its results With delightful traits of Annibale, we must conclude our brief notice of this noble trio to whom modern art owes so much: he is said to have kept his colours and his money in the same box, both equally at the disposal of his scholars; when he died, he was buried, according to his own desire, by the side of Raphael. Among these scholars stand out conspicuous, Guido (-) and Donmenichino (-). The talents of Guido were so early and conspicuously shown that the Carracci grew jealous, and Guercino (before mentioned) and Domenichino were pushed forward by them in consequence. We have pictures by Guido
| in the Gallery, of which, the
is in the artist's best manner, warm, harmonious and delicate; and the same number by Domenichino, who has been ranked among the of painters, and whose progress upwards was still more remarkable than his master's, Annibale Carracci. He was called the
by his fellow students; upon which Annibale day remarked that the nickname was only applicable to Domenichino's patient and fruitful industry. It was a maxim of the latter that not a single line ought to be traced by the hand which was not already fully conceived in the mind. That all this implied anything but the want of energy and enthusiasm Annibale had day an interesting proof: he found Domenichino acting in person the scene which he had to paint.
Among the recent acquisitions of the Gallery is by John Van Eyck (- ), which seems to show that the discoverer or restorer of oil painting had leapt at once to perfection, in the preparation of the vehicles of his colours, and kept the knowledge thus acquired to himself, for there is nothing in modern pictures to be compared with Van Eyck's for mingled delicacy and effect, and we fear for permanence. Above centuries have passed over this little quaint piece of brilliancy, without a trace of their existence. The subject is unknown: it consists of figures, a male and a female, holding each other's hands. The picture belongs to a very interesting period, when John Van Eyck and his brother had raised the school of Flanders to the highest pitch of eminence among the earlier schools of European art. They were men, as we may almost perceive in this interesting picture, who added to the most exquisite technical skill, profound feeling, and powerful perception and delineation of character. Before and after them there is a melancholy waste, not in northern art itself, but in our Gallery of its specimens. The fine old romantic school of painting might never have existed for aught we here perceive to the contrary. When we next arrive at works of the Flemish school, it is after a period of decline and degradation; from which a new artist at once, by his single strength, raised it; namely, Rubens (-), who, by the variety and value of the stores of a mind to which Nature had been most unusually bountiful of her richest gifts, informed it with a glowing life, an energy of character and passion, mingled with almost unequalled harmony of gorgeous colouring and picturesque composition, that placed both the school and the founder of it at the very highest, point of reputation,--we perceive in this Gallery how deservedly. Rubens was equally great in history, landscape, and portraiture: of the last we possess, as yet, no examples; of the we have a
representing Rubens' own chateau near Malines, with the country around it, a wonderfully beautiful work; and of the , among pictures of different sizes and value, the well known
of the most harmonious and picturesque of compositions; and, above all, the glorious
painted by Rubens in this country whilst ambassador to the Court of Charles I., to whom he presented it. Rubens had of course numerous pupils and followers, of them scarcely less great than himself. Rubens' intimation of something of this kind was owing to an interesting incident whilst he was painting his grand work,
of the pupils pushed another against it, the part touched was wet, and, consequently, considerable damage done. To allay probably the alarm of
| his companions, another pupil, Vandyck, stepped forth and did his best to set all to rights unknown to the master. When Rubens next looked at the picture, he was more than usually pleased with a certain portion-Vandyck's. It is said by some that Rubens' jealousy was so excited on his discovering the truth that he repainted the part; others, that it increased his esteem for his scholar; a supposition more in accordance with the princely generosity of Rubens's character, and supported by the strongest facts, namely, that they parted friends, and remained friends after parting, Rubens at time even offering him his daughter in marriage. The pictures in the Gallery from the hands of Vandyck (-) are in number, among which may be particularly mentioned the magnificent historical picture of
and the portrait generally esteemed without equal in the world--that of
as it is incorrectly called, or
as no doubt it should be designated. Of Jordaens (-), the most important of Rubens's pupils next to Vandyck, the Gallery possesses a
and of other Flemish masters works, of them by Teniers (-), whose productions have been justly likened to reflections from a convex mirror, such is their minute truth and nature.
From the Flemish the transition is easy to the Dutch school, and a very fair sprinkling of the works, some in number, of its most eminent men, may be found in the Gallery. Rembrandt (-), great King of Shadows, is here nobly represented. of the finest productions in his early careful style, the
enriches the Gallery; also his
(or washing), a landscape, and of his marvellous portraits. Nothing can exceed the poetical grandeur of the style of these works, in spite of their roughness of execution (people with too curious eyes should remember Rembrandt's caution, that paint was unwholesome); or in spite of an infinitely more important defect, the inherent rudeness, it may almost be called vulgarity, of the figures. When Vandyck was once admiring a work of Rembrandt's in the painter's presence, the latter exultingly remarked,
was the quiet and not undeserved reply. A landscape by John Both (-), a
by the half amphibious Vandervelde (-), and a landscape by Cuyp, the Claude Lorraine of the Low Countries, are the only other Dutch works our space will permit us to particularise. But we have incidentally recalled a name which, in itself almost a strain of music, opens a vista of the most charming productions that any age or time has given to us. Our is here again worthy of its name: no less than works by Claude Lorraine (-) are in it. It were useless here to enumerate them, by whatever name called, in order to account for the figures put into them, and which are so bad that Claude used to say he gave them away, and sold only the landscape: landscapes essentially they are; and he must be difficult to please who would, desire to see them any thing else. We can well understand the feeling which made Sir George Beaumont, himself a landscape-painter of the finest taste, after he had given his pictures to the Gallery, beg for of them, his especial darling, back again during his lifetime, when we know that it was a Claude (
) that he so desiderated. Claude, with Nicholas Poussin (-), and Gaspar Poussin (-),
| may almost be said to form a school of their own, though Lanzi places them in the Roman, and other writers in the French school. France was their country either by birth or immediate descent, but from Italy they derived their nurture. Nicholas led the way in that kind of landscape which has grandeur for its object, and was followed by Gaspar, the mightiest master in the style we have yet had, and Bourdon (-), a scarcely less eminent French painter, of whom we have but a single specimen, the
this is the painter, by the way, who copied from recollection a picture of Claude's so perfectly, as to astonish that great painter no less than it astonished the public generally. The Gallery is rich in the works of both the Poussins, there being by Nicholas (or , if the
as the truly grandest, perhaps, that ever was painted, and Nicholas'
(where the very tints and tones seem smitten with the disease they illustrate) in style, and the Bacchanalian pictures in another, as works of the very highest kind. The mechanical perfection attained by some of our painters is very extraordinary; Gaspar could paint a landscape in a day. The pictures by Lancret (-), pupil and imitator of Watteau, demand but a passing mention, and complete our collection of the works of the French school. And we may here, immediately after the great landscape-painters above named, not unfitly find a niche for a man who was a school almost in himself, Salvator Rosa (-), poet, musician, actor, architect, improvisatore, and painter, of whom we have a single work,
why we have nothing more important, we leave those to tell who, when of the greatest of Salvator's productions,
were offered to the Gallery, refused them; the individual who had a chief voice in their refusal afterwards purchasing them for the Grosvenor Gallery.
There remains but schools more to be noticed--the Spanish and the English. As to the Spanish, pictures alone represent it; by Murillo, the most distinguished of Spanish colourists, which consist of a Holy Family, St. John with the Lamb, and a Spanish Peasant Boy, the last belonging to a class with which our countrymen have been made familiar, through the medium of engravings; whilst the picture is by Murillo's master, Velasquez (-), a portrait, and therefore giving us some opportunity of judging of the truth of the skill attributed to him in that branch of art. When his patron, Philip IV., came day into his room, he saw, as he thought, Admiral Pareja, in a dark corner, whom he had ordered to sea ;
said he; of course, the admiral's portrait remained silent, and the king discovered his error. But neither the portrait nor the anecdote give us any adequate idea of the mighty talent of the greatest of Spanish painters, of whom it has been said, in
[n.253.1] Referring once more to the title
it seems natural to conclude that of the most important objects aimed at in its formation would be the gathering together, at almost any cost, the specimens of English art, from its earliest days down to the present time. How else, indeed, could a truly Gallery be formed? It is very odd, but it does.seem to be the fact, that such an idea has never entered the minds of those who have it in their power to carry it out to its legitimate practical conclusion. We have about English pictures, it is true; but as to their quality, or the extent to which they illustrate English art, it is all matter of accident. They are very liberal at the ! they take every thing that is offered, if it be not very bad, and by no means exclude the works of Englishmen: but purchasing is a different matter: we believe not a single native picture has been obtained in that way. We may then really consider ourselves fortunate that our English school has any worthy representatives. There are of Hogarth's (-) inestimable moral series, the Marriage la Mode, in pictures, and his own portrait with the dog; of Wilson's (-) glorious landscapes, the Niobe and the Villa of Maecenas; of Gainsborough's (-), less grand, perhaps, but richer in colour and still more freshly beautiful-these are the Market Cart and the Watering Place; pictures by Reynolds (-), including his Infant Samuel, Holy Family, and of his finest portraits--the Banished Lord, and Lord Heathfield, the brave defender of Gibraltar--with a study of Angels' heads, exquisitely beautiful; picture by Copley (-), the Death of Lord Chatham; by West (- ), of which the least ambitious is by far the best, namely, the Orestes and Pylades; by Lawrence (-), including the famous Kemble portrait, to which a corresponding picture of Mrs. Siddons has lately been added by a friend; by Wilkie (-)-the Blind Fiddler and Village Festival-works whose merits are as rare as their reputation is universal; with others by Constable, Hoppner, Beechey, Jackson, Beaumont, Phillips, and Hilton (died )- the last a truly noble work, representing, from the Fairy Queen, Sir Calepine rescuing Serena--a work which, in rich, art-loving, somewhat self-glorifying England, the painter was unable to sell, and kept therefore till the day of his death. It was purchased a short time back by some public-spirited gentlemen, Hilton's admirers, and presented to the nation, which will yet be proud of it.
Among the other Galleries of London, there are several which we should have been glad to have noticed had our space permitted us to do so: and we can but regret that it does not. Such are--the collection in , rich in Italian pictures, and more particularly of the Venetian school; Sir Robert Peel's, of which Waagen speaks so highly as
a monument of the artistical taste and knowledge of their owner and collector; the Bridgwater, formerly the Stafford Gallery, to which a great work in folio volumes has been specially dedicated, and which holds the rank among English collections, being rich in all schools-preeminently so in the highest, and containing above pictures; the collection in
|Stafford House, belonging to the Duke of Sutherland; Lord Ashburton's; the Duke of Wellington's; Mr. Hope's; and the Marquis of-Westminster's, better known as the Grosvenor Gallery, of the wealthiest in the country in the works of Rembrandt, and the Dutch and Flemish painters, and containing many and valuable works in all the other chief schools.
|We conclude then with a notice of a building which has no doubt often attracted the eye of the reader as he passed through , by the peculiarity of its general appearance-by the Gothic-looking corbels attached to the front without any apparent object, and by the figures on the upper part of the building, which to some may be familiar as copies of the Caryatides attached to the Temple of Pandroseus at Athens. That is the Museum of Sir John Soane, the eminent architect, presented by him to the public, and secured for ever to its use by a parliamentary enactment. And of the most munificent gifts ever made to a nation, was made also in the most munificent manner: Sir John provided an endowment for the maintenance of the Museum, as well as the Museum itself, leaving us nothing to do but to enjoy, and be grateful.[n.254.1] The
| interior is probably the most extraordinary succession of little halls, little corridors, little dining, breakfast, and drawing-rooms, little studios and parlours, or, what comes to the same thing, appears so from the multitude of objects crowded into them, that ever awaited the eyes of a curious visitor; and the names are no less fantastic: Monk's Parlour-Catacombs-Sepulchral Chamber-CryptShakspere Recess-Tivoli Recess-Monument Court-such are the appellations of different parts of the building. As to the contents, they are at once so multifarious, and so different, that to describe them satisfactorily in any other way than by reprinting the description sold at the Museum is all but impossible. There are Egyptian antiquities, Greek and Roman antiquities, modern sculptures, gems, rare books and manuscripts, pictures, architectural models (an extensive collection, illustrating chiefly Sir John's own public works); in short, we should hesitate before we ventured to name anything positively as not being there. Walls, cabinets, recesses, ceilings, are everywhere covered--not an inch of spare room is to be found--the walls, indeed, doing double duty, by means of an ingenious contrivance-moveable planes with sufficient space between for the pictures; by whichmeans a room of about - feet by can accommodate as many pictures as an ordinary gallery feet long by feet broad. The value of the countless articles here so ingeniously arranged varies of course; many of them are of inestimable price. A foreigner, mentioned by Mrs. Jameson, compared its labyrinthine passages and tiny recesses to a mine branching out into many veins, where, instead of metallic ores, you find works of art; and the remark does no more than justice to the Soane Museum. Its formation was the work of the chief portion of a life-time, and involved an expenditure that has been estimated at upwards of To this general idea of the contents of the Museum we can but add a rapid glance over some of the more interesting among the articles that belong to our general subject, the Pictures. Among these are the portrait of Soane, by Lawrence; Reynolds's famous
from of Raphael's Cartoons, a relic saved from the wreck of the lost cartoons, which remained in the possession of the family of the weaver who originally worked them in tapestry; copies of other heads from the same, by Flaxman; another of Hogarth's moral series,--the paintings of the
with several others of the painter's original works; also paintings by Canaletti, of them esteemed his finest work, Watteau, Fuseli, Turner, Callcot, Eastlake, Hilton. Yes, we must notice thing beside, the truly magnificent
found by Belzoni in a tomb, and which is of the finest Oriental alabaster, transparent when a light is placed in it, and most elaborately sculptured all over. It measures feet inches in length, feet inches in breadth, and feet inches in depth at the highest part. It is, in all probability, the most beautiful relic of Egyptian art existing. The learned are sadly at issue as to whom it belonged; Sir Gardner Wilkinson considers it was the
of the father of Rameses the Great, whose conquests are represented on the walls of the great Temple of Ammon at Thebes.
[n.243.1] Dates of birth and death.
[n.244.1] Several of the original drawings by the hand of Michael Angelo, and in particular the first sketches for the figure of Lazarus, were in the possession of Sir Thomas Lawrence.
[n.248.1] Handbook to the Public Galleries of Art in and near London, with Catalogues of the Pictures, &c. by Mrs. Jameson; a book so admirably fitted for its purpose, that we can only wish every one of our readers may have the benefit of it as an instructive and delightful companion on their artistical visits.
[n.253.1] Penny Cyclopsedia --Velasquez.
[n.254.1] As the regulations concerning admission are, from the confined character of the place, and the great and peculiar value of the objects contained in it, necessarily framed and observed with great care, we subjoin from the Description what we may call the official announcement :--The Museum is open to general visitors on Thursdays and Fridays during the months of April, May, and June, in each year; and likewise on Tuesdays from the first week in February to the last in August, for the accommodation of foreigners, persons making but a short stay in London, artists, and those who, from particular circumstances, may be prevented from visiting the Museum in the months first specified, and to whom it may be considered proper such favour should be conceded: persons desirous of obtaining admission to the Museum can apply either to a trustee, by letter to the Curator (George Bailey, Esq.), or personally at the Museum a day or two before they desire to visit it; in the latter case, the applidant is expected to leave a card, containing the name and address of the party desiring admission, and the number of persons proposed to be introduced, or the same can be entered in a book kept for the purpose in tne hall, when, unless there appears to the Curator any satisfactory reason to the contrary, a card of admission for the next open day is forwarded by post to the given address.