Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

some papers on Light and Heat, written by a young man bag being withdrawn from his mouth, he says: "Indignaof only nineteen years of age, living in one of the remotest tion and pride were the first feelings produced by the perparts of Cornwall. To him Beddoes at once offered the sons about me. My emotions were enthusiastic and subscientific superintendence of the new Institution, which in- i lime. As I recovered my former state of mind, I felt an cluded a laboratory for experiment, a hospital, and a lect inclination to communicate the discoveries I bad made uring theatre. Humphry Davy - for he it was — eagerly during the experiment. I endeavored to recall the ideas; accepted an appointment so congenial to his tastes.

they were feeble and in distinct. One collection of terms, The young chemist forth with began a series of experi however, presented itself; and with the most intense bements on the physiological effects of different gases, in the lief and prophetic manner, I exclaimed: “ Nothing exists course of which he more than once all but killed himself, but thoughts! The universe is composed of impressions, by resolutely inhaling some of the most deadly aerial fluids. ideas, pleasures, and pains !!” Here, then, to all appearOne of the very first of the gases to wbich he turned his ance, was the discovery of a panacea for human ills, such attention was Priestley's “dephlogisticated nitrous air." as had never entered into the imagination of poet to conShortly before, an American chemist, named Mitchell, had ceive. De Quincey says, that when he first experienced propounded a theory of contagion by which this gas was the pleasures of opium eating, he felt that he had made the credited with a capacity of mischief-working perfectly ap discovery that happiness was a thing which could be botpalling. It was stated to be the active principle in all con tled in a small phial and carried in the waistcoat pocket. tagion, and to be capable of producing the most terrible But here was not happiness merely, but ecstasy - not, ineffects when respired in the minutest quantities, or even deed, in quite so compact and portable a form, but easily when applied to the skin. To investigate the qualities of generated in any quantity by the simple process of decomso pestilent an “air” required some little courage. Davy posing nitrate of ammonia by heat! In establishing his first satisfied himseif by cautious attempts, frequently re İnstitution, Dr. Beddoes had in view only to cure and allepeated, that the gas could be breathed, at least in small viate, by means of his “airs," the diseases of the body. quantities, without any of the dire effects ascribed to it. Might he not now, with this It should here be mentioned that in Davy's experiments the gas was inhaled in a diluted form, as his arrangements

Sweet oblivious antidote, did not provide for a complete exclusion of the air in the

Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff course of the experiment. Convinced that it was so far in

Which weighs upon the heart? nocuous, he at last determined on inhaling continuously a tolerably large quantity of the gas. He found that the Davy's discovery, of course, soon got wind, and the first inspirations caused slight giddiness; this was suc British Medical Pneumatic Institution found itself famous. ceeded by an uncommon sense of fulness in the head; then It was now visited by many literary and scientific men, shortly after came a sensation analogous to gentle pressure curious to experience the eflects of the wonder-working gas. on all the muscles, attended by a highly pleasurable thrill Southey, Coleridge, Lovell Edgeworth, and Dr. Roget, ing, particularly in the chest and extremities. “The ob were among the number of those experimented on. Its jects around me," he says, “became dazzling, and my effects were found to vary very much in different constituhearing more acute, and at last an irresistible propensity tions. Some were obviously much more 'susceptible to its to action was indulged in. I recollect but indistinctly influence than others, but all in more or less degree bore what followed; I know that my motions were various and testimony to its exhilarating qualities, and its power to violent." These effects soon ceased on discontinuing the produce new and delightful sensations. respiration.

But the question still remained to be tested, whether an This experiment showed Davy that he had got to do agent whose effects on the constitution were so singularly with a gas of very extraordinary physiological properties, manifested, possessed any useful qualities to sanction its and it stimulated him to further investigation. He soon administration in cases of disease. Did this entrancing found that the feeling of exhilaration was diminished when « air” resemble in its influence the serviceable Scotch too large a quantity was respired ; and further, that the brownie, or only one of those fantastic sprites whose pranks mental effects were by no means uniform, but depended to are of little or no earthly use to any one ? Experience a considerable degree on the bodily and mental condition soon appeared to show that “ laughing-gas," by which at the time of the experiment. Sometimes the feelings name it was now popularly known (though it may be reproduced were those of intense intoxication, attended by marked its action on some persons is to cause hysterical but little pleasure; while at other times the respiration of weeping), was of little use except as a kind of physiologi. the gas gave rise to sublime emotions, connected with cal curiosity. Dr. Beddoes tried its therapeutic virtues in highly vivid ideas. He noticed that the delight was al various ailments, but with little effect, except, indeed, that ways most intense when he inhaled the gas atter excite in one case a few whiffs of it nearly liberated a patient from ment, whether from moral or physical causes. The most all her mortal ills. One or two psychologists, also, curious remarkable experiment which he made was one intended to establish its precise effects on the mental faculties, and to test the effects of the long-continued inhalation of the possibly hopeful, through the exaltation of the intellectual gas in a form more diluted than ordinary. For this pur powers produced by it, to solve some great psychological pose he shut himself up in an air-tight chamber filled with problem, subjected themselves to its influence, but, as the the diluted gas. We have not space to quote the narra result of Davy's last-mentioned experiment might have in. tive of his impressions; but after remaining in the cham dicated, with no effect. Oliver Wendell Holmes tells us, ber an hour and a quarter, the desire for action became so half-laughingly, half-gravely, that on one occasion he inpainful that he came out, and immediately thereafter be haled a pretty full dose of ether - a substance whose physgan anew to respire the gas from a silken bag. His feels | iological effects closely resemble in many points those of ings were now raised to a state which he evidently finds it nitrous oxide -- with the determination to put on record, dillicult to portray in words : “ A thrilling extending from at the earliest moment of regaining consciousness, the the chest to the extremities was almost immediately pro thought he should find uppermost in his mind. He relates duced. I felt a sense of tangible extension highly pleasur that, when under the intluence of the ether, “the veil of able in every limb; my visible impressions were dazzling, eternity was lifted, the one great truth which underlies all and apparently magnified. By degrees, as the pleasura human experience, and is the key to all the mysteries that ble sensations increased, I lost all connection with exter philosophy has sought in vain to solve, flashed upon me in nal things; trains of vivid visible images rapidly passed a sudden revelation. Henceforth, all was clear; a few through my mind, and were connected with words in such words had uplifted my intelligence to the level of the a manner as to produce perceptions perfectly novel. I knowledge of the cherubim. As my natural condition reexisted in a world of newly connected and newly modi. I turned, I remembered my resolution, and staggering to my fied ideas. I theorized; I imagined I made discoveries." | desk, I wrote, in ill-shaped straggling characters, the allWhen awakened from this semi-delirious trance by the embracing truth still glimmering in my consciousne

ess.

The words were these (children will smile, the wise will that of our own more limited Hogarth, is an art of “remonponder): A strong smell of turpentine prevails throughout.| strance," and not of rapture."

After the time of Davy, langbing-gas was almost thrown Rembrandt has had biographers enough; but their disaaside by men of science, as it did not appear capable of greements have involved his life in mystery. Latest re. subserving any useful function. It now fell into somewhat search appears, however, to show that he was born in 1606, disreputable company. Electro-biologists, peripatetic lect- on the 15th of July, and that he died at Amsterdam uring mesmerists, and others of the like stamp, pretended with proper bourgeois comfort, and not at Stockholm, mispublicly to exhibit its physiological properties. But it erably, in the first days of October, 1669. The son of a eventually showed itself possessed of qualities which fitted, miller, whose mill was in the city of Leyden, he went of it for better society. Davy himself, with the prescience of college in that city as boy and youtb; and in days before genius, suggested an application of it which may be said to it was the fashion, in the backward North, to be a painter be the first practical hint towards the use of our modern of culture, he neglected his studies to grapple early with anæsthetics. “As nitrous oxide," he says, “ seems capa art. Owing little even of technical excellence to any masble of destroying physical pain, it may probably be used ter at all — owing most to perseverance and set purpose, with advantage during surgical operations.” It was more and ready hand and observant eye -- he settled in Amthan sixty years after this suggestion had been made, be- sterdam in 1630, when twenty-four years old; sure already of fore the gas began to be used as an anæsthetic. It was in profitable service in fixing upon canvas no fleeting beauty America that nitrous oxide (as well as chloroform) was of maiden or child, but those stern burgher faces, laden first employed to produce insensibility; and from that with thought and with past toil, which even then charmed country it was introduced into England as a tried and use and impressed him more strongly than any other thing he ful anæsthetic, in 1868. When used for this purpose, the saw in the bounded city streets or under the far-reaching gas is inhaled, not in the diluted form in which Davy used skies – skies, you remember, that stretched like a gray it, but entirely free from all admixture of atmospheric air. / canopy over those flats of field, canal, and foot-bridge It is now the anæsthetic commonly used by dentists. For which formed the landscape of his youth, and, touched by the purpose of the operating surgeon, it is not well adapted, a magic hand, passed long afterwards into the landscape as the period of insensibility from one administration lasts of his art. only about a minute, or a minute and a half at furthest. His success was early : perhaps not very brilliant at the But, for the purpose of the dentist, this period is usually beginning, but from the first substantial. He has taken to sufficient; and one of the commonest of dental operations etching two years before his settlement in Amsterdam, and may now be submitted to with perfect freedom from pain. has pursued that art diligently during the first years of his The rapidity with which insensibility is produced, the ab residence. His mother's face — wise, worthy, and even sence of any unpleasant odor or troublesome after-effects, handsome; his own face, rough and keen, and beautiful, and its comparative safety, all eminently fit it for the pur: | like his work, by its expression ; incidents, light or low, pose to which it is now commonly applied. The chief dis of the city streets or long stretching highways — these are advantage in its employment, up to this time, has been the his subjects in the earlier years. Then he turns to religcostliness of the apparatus for making and administering ious work, and then to portrait-painting. It is probable it; but tbis is now in some measure obviated, as the gas that he painted many an obscure portrait before we have may be procured in small compass in a liquid form, and record of his labors in this kind; but however that may be, liberated for use as required.

he gradually takes his place in good burgher society --- rich, The most recent experimental application of nitrous ox- i pious, or intellectual — executing, in 1635, his portrait of ide in this country involves a return to the idea of the old Uytenbogaert, the minister of the sect known as the RemonBristol physician. Dr. Beddoes, we have seen, applied it strants; in 1636, the portrait of Janus Sylvius. This secto diseased bodies ; but, obvious as the idea appears, it ond divine was probably made known to him through his does not seem to have occurred to him that its peculiar young wife - for Rembrandt, prospering early, had someaction rather indicated its applicability to mental maladies. what early married : had married, too, a woman of fair An agent capable of stimulating the Imental powers, and fortune and good position in the town. Saskia Uylenburg producing exalted emotions, would, of all others, appear was her name. She died eight years after her marriage; suited to that class of the mentally alienated who remain leaving one child, a boy, Titus, who in due time became a continually plunged in the depths of melancholy. The gas painter, never much known or greatly esteemed, and who in its dilute form has lately been tried in this class of men. 1 died in 1668, a year or two before his father. tal diseases; but the published accounts do not permit us

Rembrandt, a widower, is busy with his work and with to say that the results are very encouraging. 'For the society ; living in a house in the Breestraat, in the Jewtime, it is true, it wonderfully stimulates the dormant men- | ish quarter, near St. Anthony's Bridge, and collecting in tal powers, and enables the sufferer to recall with vivid- that house a whole museum of works of art: mediæval arness the events of the past. Even in cases in which the mor, and antique bronzes, prints by Lukas van Leyden, power of coherent speech appeared to have been lost for- and prints as precious by Mantegna, and oil paintings by ever, the inhalation of the gas has enabled the patients to contemporary hands. Mediæval and Renaissance work are relate, in a collected manner, long passages of their past alike interesting to him ; but it is from the mediæval spirit lives. For the moment, it often gives a new direction to rather than from that of the Renaissance that he learns. the thoughts, changing in a marked manner the current of In his “ Christ driving the Money-changers out of the the ideas. But the effects are only transient; and it is pos. Temple," he takes the whole figure of Christ from a woodsible that were we acquainted with the mode of action of the cut of Albert Dürer's. Italian art of the sixteenth century gas, this tentative application of it might turn out to be a he admires, but he borrows nothing from it. “ Ce fut mistake. But in regard to this question of its physiologi- | précisément le plus grand trait de son génie, d'avoir adcal action – what changes it undergoes and effects within miré tout sans rien imiter; d'avoir connu les beautés d'un the body — there is hardly anything yet known.

autre art, et d'être resté toujours dans le sien."

In the Breestraat he opened his studio. There Gerard

Dow, Ferdinand Bol, Van Vliet, Philippe de Koning, and MASTERS OF ETCHING.

Gerbrandt van den Eckhout were his pupils. He did not

make mere imitators. An individual capacity, brought BY FREDERICK WEDMORE.

within the influence of his power and fame, was strength

ened and developed, but remained individual still. It was III.

for the preservation of individuality that he decreed that WELL, we have come now to the chiefest among our Mas- each pupil should work unobserved of the rest; each in ters of Etching – the last Dutchman with whom we have his place apart. to deal — he in whose work is resumed the excellence and I have said that Rembrandt was occupied with society power of the whole Netherlands school: he whose art, like but not indeed with society as the word is very often un

[ocr errors]

derstood. He sought the company of grave and thought- | town. And then be takes the Bible for his theme, a ful men to feed his intellect - sought also, I suppose, some portrays what is told there, from Adam's temptation o f company less elevated, in hours when bis object was either the death of Christ. Perhaps nowhere else have you so frank diversion or the observation of things outside his a range of effort : I do not say such exellence of achieve common circle. His nature was developed on many sides : | ment. his friendships and associations were of many kinds. Even Yet sometimes, even in his endeavors, and obviously il the habits of his home, the time and quality of his meals, bis achievements, he was quickly limited by the conditia varied from day to-day. Now he has a banquet with a of his life and time. Take, for an instance, his treatmez citizen who is famous ; now he eats a herring and some of the figure. Perhaps that shows better than anything cheese by himself. And so one is told that his nature was else how very far he was removed from the great mus mean and stingy and low; that the god of his idolatry ters of the Renaissance, and how — though it is strane was money, and that his best-loved friends were friends of to say it - he had some fellowship with the earlier prar the pot-house in the Breestraat. Yet this is the man who titioners of a ruder art. An Italian, bred to work at a waits all day in an auction-room to buy a print by the epoch when there were apparent in glowing freshness, as great engraver of Leyden - the man whe waits there and only " the materials of art," which are “at Florence," be will pay any price rather than fail to acquire it. This is | “the results," which are " at Rome," devoted himself to the man to whom the great public banker — Receiver- perfection of line and modelling. He represented the bod: General to the States of Holland -- gives, year after year, only that he might extol it; and while Fra Angelico his friendship and support ; the man who year after year labor was prayer to the Spirit, his own was praise to the is hand-in-glove with Jan Six, a youthful burgomaster, col Flesh. But certain plain conditions were required to lector, and all-accomplished poet, who must almost realize produce this result; and these conditions were wanting to the ideal of Matthew Arnold. Rembrandt was not " low" Rembrandt and his period in the Netherlands. The in his tastes : his friends were the wisest men in a sober revival of learning, and its diffusion, had flooded Italy wih ! city. He was not sordid in bis ways, adding coin to coin. the waters of Greek thought; had stirred in men's mind Instead of that, he added picture to picture, till he became the sleeping worship of beauty; and had done this too atal insolvent through love of an art, or of a school, not his. moment when the enthusiasm of the old religion was was

Lact Not indeed that bis insolvency was of the usual sort. ing and the world seemed ripe for a change, and in a land For household expenses there was money enough, no where there was beauty abundant, to feed the newer faith. doubt. But his son Titus, being of age, was to inherit his But things were different in the Netherlands. How coul

saa'mother's property, and the painter had expended some of physical qualities be one's ideal in the Netherlands, when this. To complete the sum, there was a sale in the house, the best that were to show were those that Rembrandt has and as the times were hard times for Holland, the sale was drawn in “ Diana at the Bath," and " Danaë and Jupiter*** not as fruitful as it should have been. The value of all Clearly the worship of such beauty as that was an impor works of art bad suffered a depreciation ; the proceeds of sible thing. the sale left Rembrandt in poverty, and his friends were But there were other reasons not a whit less strong. I: 1280 all unable to help him. Their concerns were out of joint, Holland, Protestantism had been a safety-valve of faith like his own.

Men had saved in sound health the half of their creed by And yet, in some sense, this scattering of his precious resolutely lopping off the rest of it. What remained to things was a voluntary act with Rembrandt. Had he them - to Dutchmen of the time of Rembrandt - Fas remained a widower, Titus could only bave inherited at strongly alive and active; and in the midst of a half-hid his father's death; but Rembrandt – careless in some eous world, that creed summoned them to think of a world moods, as he was careful and sagacious in others — bad that was better, though they lacked imagination to confallen in love with the fine figure of a peasant girl, of the ceive what the better might be. The influence of commoa village of Rarep, in Waterland. He had married the girl | Protestantism upon beauty in art — that may have been in 1654; and two years afterwards, failing otherwise to wholly bad; but this is not the place in which to speak of discharge his obligations towards his son, there came the it. The influence of Protestantism such as Rembrandt's sale by auction, and the apparent, nay, for a little while, l upon the intellectual and spiritual sides of art, as art was the genuine poverty. But with a healthy man of genius, practised at Amsterdam — that was probably a more mixed whose genius is recognized, things have a tendency to right thing, and we do well to glance at it ere passing on. The themselves. Soon enough Rembrandt is paid for his work stunted yet sturdy, realistic, un poetical faith of the Netheragain ; his etchings too are sought after as of yore. He landers induced in art some recognition of possible dignity takes to academical subjects: we know not why, unless it | in present poverty and suffering, and did, though very be that M. Blanc's conjecture is a correct one, and that the roughly, still unmistakably proclaim that mind and spirit model is constantly his wife. And then he ceases altogether were masters, and flesh but the servant of these. This to etch — confines himself to work with the palette and the Christianity did not recoil from what was physically hideous. brush, and then perhaps illness comes upon him, for work of | Pity, remonstrance: these were her belongings ; and they any kind is rare, and it can hardly be that he is rich and needed but too often to be used. Patiently one must ac idle. And then there is that break in the story of his life cept the ugly facts of life, though passionately indeed one which has enabled some to say that he went to England for may sorrow and declaim, if passion of remonstrance can rea while: some, that he went to Stockholm, and died there, move but one of them. And thus it is that Rembrandt miserably. The rest is mystery, and almost silence. etches seven-and-twenty plates representing in diverse There is but one more record, and it is of recent finding, pbases and stages the lives and sufferings of beggar and and it attests that on the 8th day of October, 1669, in the hunchback and cripple and leper, as these crouch wretchedly church called Westerkirk, in the city of Amsterdam, there in the corners of hovels, or uselessly solicit some succor from was laid down, with all the common pomp of pall and the rich, or bide in solitude their foulness and degradation. taper, “bell and burial,” the body which during three-and. | Is it pot an unparalleled thing — this array of the misera. sixty years had held the restless soul of Rembrandt. | ble? They are not drawn, like the beggars of Murillo, that

“The restless soul !” Is that word the key to all his you may behold the picturesqueness of their rags; nor like variety of aims and arts ? —- for he is various, not alone in the beggars of Callot, that you may laugh at them and no subjects, but in methods of expression. Now the brush tice well the adroitness which will serve their ends. Ther serves him ; now the tool of the engraver; and now the is no comedy nor farce in them, nor any beauty in their needle of the pure etcher is the instrument with which he garments' sbreds and patches. They are a serious fact 10 works. With one or with the other, he essays the repre life: theirs is a common condition of humanity. So Rem; sentation of all things within his ken : his own face, plain brandt drew them, like a philosopher who accepted a and shrewd, his mother's face, bis wife's, the preacher's, things ; but touched in this case by that pity for the burgomaster's, print-seller's ; then the gait of the beggar on Present, that hope for their Future, which bis religion hi the door-step, the aspect of the fields and dykes beyond the taught him.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

And here bis religion is distinctly a spiritual gain to bis ' more tban Academical. Rembrandt did not much believe Art. Where then, and why, is it a loss? It is a loss be-/ in Diana, and troubled himself little about Antiope. But cause somehow or other, with all this useful faith in a present facts of all kinds interested him; and having better future — faith wbich the true Renaissance held but etched everytbing under the gray Dutch sky but the bare slackly, and showed but little in its Art - the Art of Rem- | bodies of men and women in Amsterdam, be set himself, in brandt has no scope for wide imagination : no sweet and his later days, to etch these. These baboon or gorilla-like secret thing is revealed through it: there flows through it gaunt monsters of men — “ The Bathers” – it is not posto the minds of men no such divine message as even we of sible tbat Rembrandt admired them, as he drew. There these latter days can read in the art of the earlier Floren- / was more of satire than admiration. And in the whole tines. True and real, very likely - it is rarely bigb and short Academical series, what strikes you most is the cruel interpretative. The early Art of Italy, fed on a fuller faith, | brutal truthfulness. There is no glimpse of any one's ideal: could do more with infinitely smaller means. Turn from not even the poor and flesby ideal of Rubens could be satthe soberest of Rembrandt's sacred pictures - the picture | isfied here. These round and palpitating figures — they most filled with piteous human emotion - I mean the begin well, perhaps, but is there one that is completely “ Death of the Virgin," which is real as the death of his good? We single out the “ Woman with the Arrow" as mother — turn from this to the still glowing canvas on an exception to the common rule of ugliness — though even which Botticelli bas imaged his conception of a Paradise here we find that among critics there is no general consent with countless companies of little children, children only, of praise - and now contentedly pass on from ground round the throne of God, and in circles ever more distant, where Rembrandt seems well-nigh lowest among the low, the great ones of the world - the last, who were first — to meet him again where among the great he is almost the and you feel at once, more strongly than can be told by greatest. any words, what Netherlands Protestantism has cost to There is no doubt that Rembrandt painted many por. Rembrandt ; for, instead of this parable and this revelation, traits of persons who were never near to fame. You meet he can give you but a buman sorrow.

with some in public exhibitions and in private houses. Look at him for a moment, such as he is, as a religious Very often, like the etched portrait of Uytenbogaert, the artist; and considerable as are the merits forced upon your “gold-weigber," they are not only portraits, but elaborated view, you will find that other allowances will have to be compositions. Of these an example called “ The Shipmade for him than those which you have made already on builder" — seen at Burlington House, in January, 1873 — account of his epoch's limited though genuine faith. Take will occur to many readers. But the etched portraits were bis “ Adam and Eve” – he calls it “ The Temptation" - often of distinguished men. Failing these persons of disand note the absolute vulgarity in the conception of that tinction — as when, in his youth, sitters of the desired rank scene. What is our first father in this print, if not a low were unattainable - he etched the faces that he knew bred, low-minded, but still prudent bourgeois, tempted, as most thoroughly : chiefly, indeed, his mother's. It is also such a one conceivably might be, by the leers of this squat to his delight in reproducing that with which he was most woman and the good big mouthful of rare fruit wbich she familiar that we must attribute the abundance of portraits holds in her outstretched band ? No doubt a part of the of himself: now leaning at his ease upon the window-sill; failure of this work is to be attributed to the heavy north and now with drawn sabre; and now with hand on bilt of ern ugliness of the women of the land - an ugliness which, sword — magnificent in meditation — and now with plainshore than anything else, tells against Rembrandt in his est raiment, a keen plain face looks up at you from the treatment of the nude - but part of it is due to a cause drawing-board. But the etched portraits, as I have said, within himself; he lacked the imagination to conceive when they were not of himself, nor of his mother, nor of poetically : there is nothing of seductiveness in his work ; the so-called “Jewish Bride,” whom M. Blanc believes to there is nothing of sweetness; there is very little of be his first wife, Saskia Uylenburg, were generally of men , pleasure.

of thought or action : of men, indeed, whose thought or He lacked, I say, imagination to conceive poetically; but action had “told ” upon the life of Amsterdam. 6 The the subject once well found for him, he could contrive em Burgomaster Six” is a city magnate, as well a poet and bellishments which were effective enough, and neither art.connoisseur. “John Asselyn" is a painter of repute. thought nor work was spared to give it these. His imagi. “ Ephraim Bonus" is a famous physician. And Uytennation did not play happily about the spirit and idea of the bogaert, the “gold-weigher,” is Receiver-General to the scene : it plied its task only to add to the strangeness or States of Holland. the picturesqueness of the setting. And yet the print! Among a thousand excellences in these portraits, let us which all the world knows as the Hundred Guilder Piece" | note a few. See how the “Uytenbogaert” is more than shows that in exceptional moods Rembrandt could conceive a portrait - for it is a composition - and see how the as worthily as he could execute. True dignity, nay, maj. keen perception, the analytical yet synthetic mind, the esty, of attitude is shown in the “ Raising of Lazarus ;”. assured knowledge, and the hand that moves in accurate and in the “ Death of the Virgin” the artist himself has obedience to the will, have in their all but unparalleled been profoundly moved - else how portray that piteous combination enabled the artist to say clearly a dozen things gaze and that gesture of sorrow and resignation which lift / instead of one, in this picture. It is a gold-weigher's room : this work out of the usual level of his sacred Art! But a place for quiet business and weighty affairs. There are commonly his pictures from the Testaments suffer not only places enough for laziness and laughter: this is for serious, under the necessary conditions of Dutch Protestant creeds, anxious, yet met bodical and ordered toil. See, on the table, but from the absence of elevation in the types selected, the l the scales and the ranged money-bags : on the floor an irorabsence of spiritual imagination, and the temptation to l bound coffer whose strength, quite apart from size and prowhich the artist sometimes yielded to forget his subject and / portion, the etcher has shown by lines of indefinable cleverits meaning, and to see in the Scriptural groups little else ness. To the right, the trusty servant kneels to take troin than a happy opportunity for the distribution of strong

bis master a bag of coin, which instantly he will pack in lights and stronger shadows.

this cask upon the floor; and then he will be off" upon his Many, then, of his professedly religious pictures had no errand. We know him, thanks to Rembrandt's never-tirreason to exist. They were in truth less religious than his ing study of his minor characters, even the Salanios and troop of beggar-pictures — they were less spontaneous re Salarinos of the drama — a prompt man, he, we say, and sults of his own thought. Raison d'être is still more lack ever at his master's call. And Uytenbogaert? What is ing to some of his Academical pieces, unless indeed one is he, if these be his surroundings? There is a double excontent to allow the presence of these without the justify pression in his face and gestures, conveyed with I know ing beauty. Action, they have; and little else. Anatom not what subtlety of Art, reached sometimes in the finest ically, the drawing is not bad, for Rembrandt understood / moments of a great player — one has seen it in Fargueil anatomy; but the figures are constantly ill proportioned. and Kate Terry. The gesture says to the servant — nay, Yet certain of these pieces, if at the same time less, are also says to all of us — how infinitely precious is that gold

weighted bag; how great must be the care of it! And that these portraits of Rembrandt, wben considered: the face says this too. But such a thought is only moment- i gether, give us the means of transport across two hundre ary. The mind, reflected in the face, is seen to be pre- years. We are in Amsterdam, in the 17th century : 1 occupied by many an affair. “ Here, how much gold regling with the city's movement; knowing familiarist maining to be dealt with! Wbat accounts to finish? What | works and ways. Absolute individuality of character.business to discharge !"

truth, not only to external appearance, but to the ser Now place by the side of Cytenbogaert the portrait of | mind and soul of the men who are portrayed -- and tre Janus Lutma. The two have the same dignity: the di ;- i be it noted, arrived at very swiftly, and expressed with a nity of labor. It is the Netherlands spirit. With his back unfaltering hand, cramped by no nervous and fidge in to the window, from which a placid light falls on his are. i anxiety — this, I suppose, the world may recognize in it whitened head, sits Janus Lutma, goldsmith, meditating on etched portraits of Rembrandt. his work. By him are the implements of his art. They How true the bands are to the faces and the lives! Carl were used a little, but a minute ago, and soon will be re- and not over-care, has been bestowed upon them. The fumed. Meanwhile, the nervous, active hand - an old is in every hand Rembrandt has drawn prominently, hand, but subtle still - is relaxed, and there is no anxiety, i master's rapid facility and a mas

master's rapid facility and a master's power. Mark the not even the anxiety of a pleasant busy-ness, in the gold

bands of Renier Ansloo, – that stolid Anabaptist ministe'. smith's face. It is a happy, tranquil face : still keenly ob - and the fine, discerning, discriminating hand of Clemer servant, yet greatly at rest. For in the main the work of life de Jonghe, the print-seller : a man accustomed to the dea is done, and it has prospered; a goodly gift has been well fingering of delicate papers. Mark too the nervous hap , used. There is rest in the thought of past achievements :

of that brooding student, Haaring the younger, who onc.a kindly smile on the aged mouth - mouth bappily garru

knows to have been something finer than a common and lous of far-away workdays. And Lutma sits there, wait

tioneer. And for physical feebleness, seen in an old mani ing, only less plainly and immediately than the tired bell hand, note the wavering hand of Ilaaring the elder. For ringer of Rethel's one great picture — waiting for Death, physical strength in an old man's hand - a tenacious hand who will come to him as a friend," and find him smiling for sure yet subtle uses -- see the sinewy craftsman's hagi still, but with a finished task and a fulfilled career.

of Lutma. But in our admiration of the sentiment and character of

It has long been the fashion to admire, indiscriminately. this almost unequalled work, let us not forget the wholly

the chiar-oscuro of Rembrandt, which does indeed very marvellous technical skill which the observer may easily

often deserve a wholly unlimited admiration, but which is find in it. The play of sunshine, bright and clear, with

open now and then to Mr. Ruskin's charge, that it is both out intensity, throughout the upper half of the picture; the

forced and untrue. What people perceive the soonest and cold, clear stone of the slanting window-sill, washed, as it praise the most are the more " sensational" of his effects of were, with light; the strain of the leather fabric, stretched light and shade. Seeing these, they think that they see all. from post to post of the cbair, on either side of the old

But it takes long to understand how much of consummate man's bead, which rests, you see, against it, and presses it

art there is in that real power of Rembrandt's : how it is back; the modelling of the bushy eyebrows and short gray something much more than the mere brutal force of con 1200 beard - these are but some points out of many. They

trast. The violence of contrast is usually presented in in. may serve to lead us to the rest.

teriors, - especially in fancy subjects, and when one To be closely imitative is not the especial glory of etch passes to the landscapes, one ceases to remark it frequently. ing; and Rembrandt himself is fuller of suggestion than of The disposition of light and shade is not less masterly in imitation. He does suggest texture very marvellously : these — but sometimes rather more — but its effect is less sometimes in the accessories of his portraits, as in the flow-| immediate. There are two exceptions : for we get the old tered cloth of the gold-weigher's table; and sometimes in familiar juxtaposition of strongest light and deepest dark he portraits themselves, as in the long hair of the “ Jew in the “Grotto with a Brook" - here chiefly in the first sh Bride :"

state - and we get it to some extent in the “ Three Trees," “ Hair, such a wonder of Aix and floss;

which, though the lines of the sky are hard and wiry, is Freshness and fragrance; floods of it, too!”

yet justly esteemed among the best of Rembrandt's land

scapes, because of its extraordinary vigor and passion of The quality of this woman's hair is best observed in the storm, and because of that clear sense of space and open early state of the print. There too the light is natural, country which you have as you look at it. But for an exthe inspiration direct. Thus far the thing has been done ample of the most subtle qualities of chiar-oscuro in Remat a sitting. In the finished picture the light is a studio brandt, one must go back for an instant to the portraits, light, and the work, while very vigorous and scientific, lacks and look at the picture of Abraham Franz. He was a dethe particular delightfulness of a sudden transcript from nat voted amateur -- an example to all amateurs ; for he deure and the life.

nied himself many necessaries of life, so that he might pos“ A transcript from the life" - it is that, more than any sess a collection of great prints. Look at bis portrait, in qualities of technique and elaboration, that gives an interest the first state only. He sits in a room just light enough for so intense to Rembrandt's portraits. It is hardly too much him to be able to examine his print, critically, lovingly, al to say of him that his labor is faithful in proportion as it is his chosen station in the window. Bebind him is a curspeedy. He must have observed with the utmost keenness tain, and across the curtain fall certain streaks of gentle and rapidity, and it is with a like rapidity that he must / sunlight, which are among the really greatest, most of have executed all that is intellectually greatest in his work. I dered, most restrained achievements of a master's art. Absorbed in his own labors, -- singularly free, we may be As a landscape-painter, Rembrandt was in advance of sure, from petty personal vanities, and the desire to please | his age; or rather he had the courage to interpret the unworthily — Rembrandt has given to his sitters the same | spirit of his own time and country. While Poussin still air of absorption. They are not occupied at all with the peopled his glades with gods and goddesses, and Claude. artist who is drawing ihem : no, nor with those who will | the shepherd and shepherdess of Arcadian days rechinus notice his work. The Burgomaster Six, leaning against | in the cool shadows of his meadows, Rembrandt dren. the window-sill, is deep, I take it, in his own manuscript such things as were before him whenever he went to play. Bonus, the physician, halts upon the stair, not quite from Amsterdam to any neighboring village, truuks resolved whether he shall turn back to ask one other ques slowly along the bigh road, edged with stunted trees, or tion or give one other counsel. Coppenol is absolutely oc wandering by the side of the weary canal. Thus it is that cupied in giving the boy his writing lesson. Rembrandt at one point at least he touched the moderns, but at other himself, looking up from the drawing-board, looks up only points he was very far removed from them. If he sketches for observation. And it is thanks to the absence of de the woman going to market and the farmer on his borse, tachment from habitual life and work - it is thanks to the l he did so because these objects happened to be before every-day reality of the faces and their surroundings and could give some animation to his laudscapes. D

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Iscapes. But he

« ПредишнаНапред »