Boston Painters and Paintings



IT was a great piece of good fortune for Boston that Mr. Stanton Blake should have had the happy idea of buying ten Dutch paintings at the sale, which took place in 1880, at the palace of San Donato, when the art collections of the spendthrift Prince Demidoff were dispersed, and that he should have made the Museum of Fine Arts the home of these valuable works. The examples of Teniers and Metsu are of the very first order, and the canvases by Ruysdael and Cuyp, though not equal in importance to many of the landscapes by these masters to be seen in European galleries, are still what may be called representative works, and convey to the vision of the untraveled spectator an accurate idea of the style and scope of their respective authors. Altogether this group of ten pictures 1 is of incalculable worth to a community so needy as this in respect to good art, and it would be hard to exaggerate if one were pressing the need of cherishing these precious old works. The Interior of a Butcher’s Shop, by the younger Teniers, is a good specimen of the exquisite art of this delightful master of genre ; there are few finer Teniers anywhere, certainly none even remotely approaching it in this country. Imagine a brown interior, where the huge carcass of a just-butchered ox hangs by its hind-legs in the foreground. All the red and yellow hues of the meat, all the inside structure of the creature, are exposed ; the carcass is held open by a horizontal stick, over which hangs a clean white towel. To say that this is superlatively well done is but little; it makes one realize that an ox’s skinned and dressed carcass is a beautiful object in color. There really is nothing, or next to nothing, which cannot be made to seem beautiful in one way or another, when seen aright, — that is, in an artistic way. Where else shall you find such red and pale yellow tones, so various, fresh, rich, and deep ? There is absolutely no suggestion of paint in it. The meat is wholly meat, with its appropriate form, textures, and hues. The entrails have been removed, but the suet remains. The hide and horns lie on the floor at the left. The head, sans skin except at the muzzle, is on a bench, above which hangs the tongue on a nail. A dog is drinking blood from a shallow brown dish on the floor, which catches the drip from the carcass. At the right, a clumsily built blonde wench (called “ a young and pretty girl ” in the San Donato catalogue), in a costume of gray, white, and blue, bends over a block, where she is engaged in cleaning the ox’s lungs and liver. Beyond her, a man is seen just going out of a door. Still farther back on the same side is a wide chimney-place, where a fire burns briskly. In front of it stands a second man, who holds a glass of liquor in one hand and a pipe in the other, and turns to speak to a homely and stupid-looking woman servant in a dark green gown and black jacket, holding a brown earthen jug in her right hand. There are various minor objects — a wild duck, a cabbage leaf, household utensils, etc. —scattered about the spacious room, which is lighted from the front and the right. The tones of warm brown in the smooth and shining walls are of an exquisite quality, and masterly is the way in which the whole composition is united by the vivid yet delicate chiaroscuro, bringing all the elements of the scene into perfect harmony. Nothing is neglected, no difficulties are evaded ; everything has its right value, its legitimate importance in relation to the whole, its characteristic expression; each detail is quite completed without loss of breadth in the ensemble, and no more trace of labor appears in all this than if it had been a vision breathed upon the panel. It is impossible to contemplate such a mature work of art without doing homage to the author of it, remembering with gratitude the generosity of the American gentleman to whose patriotism its presence here is due, and wishing heartily that there were more students sufficiently endowed with a genuine taste for the art to appreciate it and benefit by it.

But let us now pass on to an even greater man than Teniers, and glance at The Usurer of Gabriel Metsu. This is an interior with two figures ; dimensions twenty-six by thirty inches. The figures are about fifteen inches high. In the centre sits the usurer, an old man, with gray, almost white hair and beard, and a weather-beaten, brown, and wrinkled face. He wears a red cap, a chocolate-brown coat, partly covered by a dull brown cloak which falls from his left shoulder, and a white neckerchief. He holds in his rough but skillful right hand a pair of scales, while with the left he lifts a gold coin which he is about to weigh. He looks up with a hard expression at a visitor who has just entered, and who stands at his left, — a disconsolate widow, who weeps as she holds up to his gaze a parchment with seals attached. She wears a blue skirt, brown waist and overskirt, and white cap with black trimmings. Upon one arm she carries a covered basket, and with her right hand she dries her tears with a handkerchief. In front of the old money-lender is a table covered by a cloth of red, with stripes of varying shades of brown. On this table are heaps of gold and silver coin, a piece of white paper, some chamois cloth, an iron-bound leather coffer, and beyond, a silver dish. The light comes from an unseen window at the left, and falls directly on the table, above which hangs a dark green curtain with a gold fringe. At the left of the background is a cabinet, on which are account-books, papers, etc. ; further to the right is a painting of Bacchus, in a black frame ; and at the extreme right is an arched doorway, dimly seen in the shadow. The walls are of a cool brown, verging upon a dark olive tone. The interest centres naturally upon the usurer’s face and figure and the objects on his table. The lighting is beyond all praise. The textures, as for example of the coin, the strong-box, the table-cloth, are marvelously felt. The color is of an indescribable depth and brilliancy; and it is particularly well worth while to call attention to the old man’s head, the character and expression of which are likely to impress themselves strongly upon the memory. Is it any wonder that Fromentin calls the art of these Dutch genre painters a model art; that he refers to Metsu with Terburg and De Hoogh as the best and the most learned draughtsmen of their school; or that he, the most searching and severe of critics, should say of this trio’s works that “ the color, the chiaroscuro, the modeling of the well-filled surfaces, the play of the surrounding air, finally the workmanship, — that is to say the operations of the hand, — all are perfection and mystery ” ? Perfection and mystery! — yes, that is true of every great work of art, because it reflects truthfully the greater perfection and mystery of nature. This beautiful picture of Metsu’s has been reproduced in an engraving by Flameng. It is, without contradiction, the bright, particular star of the group.

The landscape called The Skirt of the Forest, by Jacob Ruysdael, represents a lonesome spot, where a narrow stream winds through the country by the edge of a wood of beeches, oaks, and alders which closes in the left of the composition. On the dark surface of the water three ducks swim and some weeds and snags float. At the right is a mossy bank, with trees here and there, and the solitary figure of a fisherman. The foliage, it is almost needless to remark, is drawn with the minute precision of the old schools. The sky is of a fine, tender quality of blue, with gray cumuli, the tops and right sides of which are illuminated by a mellow, warm light. This note is very happy, but the total impression of the work is sombre. In the drawing of the trees, in the well-calculated contrasts of light and dark, in the grave but rich browns and grays, and above all in the profound feeling of melancholy and retirement, no one can fail to recognize the characteristics of the greatest Dutch landscapist. The Ruined Cottage would be of great interest without the figures painted in by Wouwermans, yet it is incontestable that the figures, small as they are, and well subordinated, aid the composition, by becoming, as it were, a part of the landscape. They look, as Millet said, not as if brought together by accident, for the moment, but as if they had among themselves an innate and necessary connection. The landscape fills the eye, and no one cares to notice what the figures are doing, — a fortunate circumstance, since their occupations are as far as possible from romantic, whereas the picture as a whole is full of romantic feeling. You must fancy a thoroughly ruined old farmhouse, the roof three quarters gone, a wing reduced to a heap of débris, and a good, substantial, inhabited modern farmhouse just beyond it at the right. A traveler has halted and dismounted near the abandoned house, and stands with his back towards us, while a boy holds his gray horse, and a valet sits hard by, watching over his master’s personal effects. Towards the left, two figures are dimly seen in a meadow in the middle distance, and the landscape retires to a blue line, broken by intervening trees. The sky is somewhat like that in the other Ruysdael, but better, the lights very keen and bright, the clouds moving, the tones of bluish-gray extremely choice and delicate, the feeling of changeable weather very marked ; the whole life of the picture, in a word, is in this breezy and cloud-filled sky. The play of light and shade in the foreground, where a stray gleam of sunshine strikes upon the cloaked cavalier and his horse, leaving the rest of the objects in comparative obscurity, is highly effective ; there is an alluring mystery in this delusive half light among the ruins of the cottage and among the trees ; and how superbly the great artist has placed side by side these grave and sonorous tones of brown and gray which alternate and support each other throughout this beautiful work ! — now, alas not in so perfect a condition as might be wished, owing to a provoking bloom of the varnish on its surface.

As to the Cuyp, it is universally admired ; there is no gainsaying its beauty, or the tender and mellow charm of its amber atmosphere; yet —shall I dare to own it ? — though it was the first to please me, it was also the first of which I began to tire. Cuyp was certainly great in his line, and this is a fair example of his art. “ In a meadow near the Meuse,” says the San Donato catalogue in its delightfully precise description, “ a brown cow with a white head is smelling of some thistles.” And so forth, and so on, — the yellow cow, the black cow with white marks, the red cow, and the rest, all arranged as pictorially as possible ; in point of fact, do not the English cattle-painters to this day follow Cuyp’s grouping more or less closely ? Then comes the quiet river, and, in the distance, the town of Dordrecht, in silhouette against a sky filled with the soft golden light that Cuyp knew so well how to bring down like a thin veil upon his landscapes.

Maas’s picture of The Jealous Husband depicts that historical personage in the act of sneaking down one of those quaint and shadowy spiral stairways (so effectively introduced by Maas’s master, Rembrandt, in his picture of The Philosopher in Meditation, in the Louvre), bound to interrupt an interesting chat between his wife and a young man. The old man, however, seems to belie the title of the picture by the expression of pleasure on his wrinkled and not too prepossessing countenance. The work is upright in form, dark, and rather soft in handling, far inferior to the work of Teniers and Metsu in every respect.

Netscher’s picture represents two plump children blowing soap bubbles from an open window, which is decorated with two allegorical caryatides of Freedom and Servitude, and with a low relief representing Cupids at play. Netschcr probably repeated this subject, with slight variations, more than once, for there is a similar painting by him in the National Gallery, London. He appears to have been very fond of painting statuary and reliefs, and met with better success in that particular than in the treatment of living forms.

Of the masterly still-life pictures by Kalf, Van Huysum, and Verelst, it would be hard to say which is the best. Van Huysum is assuredly the most admired, but his preëminence may be disputed. In the judgment of some intelligent observers, Kalf’s quinces, gourds, melons, asparagus, peaches, plums, grapes, figs, etc., are painted with more affection, and consequently more art, than Van Huysum’s faultily faultless flowers, from whose petals innumerable visitors have tried in vain to wipe away the painted drops of dew.

Aside from the San Donato group a dozen other works of the Dutch and Flemish school claim our attention. A small but undoubtedly genuine painting by Rubens is the Bacchus with Attendant Fawn and Satyr, which gives an excellent idea of its author’s style, color, and execution. Already overcome by wine, the fat young god, crowned with the grape-leaf wreath, lolls in the arms of his favorite comrades, one on either side, as naked as himself. He is the epitome of flesh, with the proportions of a prize pig, a sodden face marked with the signs of a thousand debauches, and a wandering, weak, and watery gaze. At the left of the trio lurks a tiger. The landscape, which from the darkest shadows at the right of the composition grows lighter towards the left, is full of rarely beautiful browns and greens. The painting of the figure of Bacchus is fluent, fat, magical in its flesh tones. Nothing could be more perfect in the way of workmanship, and Rubens’s mastery is here exhibited on a small scale as conclusively as in his greatest canvases. Van der Helst was one of those worthy and admirable Dutch painters who applied all the science of an incomparable school to the simplest and most satisfactory sort of portraiture. His portrait of a burgomaster, a dark, sober, reserved work, almost wholly without other colors than black, white, and brown, is sound, dignified, and complete. This is the face of a hard-headed, practical, healthy, well-to-do gentleman, with all the enviable serenity of his race, but without a trace of stupidity or of vulgarity. A black, soft hat and a black cloak, with a white ruffled collar, set off the brown flesh of the weather-beaten and dignified face and of the competent hands. The Head of a Girl, by Grimani, is delightfully quaint and pretty. It has an exaggerated Rembrandtesque effect of light and dark which pleasantly stirs the imagination. The head, seen in profile, is all in shadow save a plump rosy cheek, a delicate ear, a lovely neck, and a mass of golden hair drawn into a cunning knot. Cuyp’s portrait of his daughter, on the contrary, introduces to us a positively ugly person, whose rich dress only emphasizes her lack of beauty. Her costume consists of a silk gown of pale rose color, with a wide lace collar and a pearl necklace, further ornamented by roses on her bosom and in her hair. She holds a basket of fruit in her lap. The background is a landscape; the figure is life-size and half-length ; and the color is not especially good. The oddly named Venus and Mars, from the Sumner collection, is ascribed to Terburg, not without some reasonable doubt. It is a Dutch cabinet picture of a stout and stupid officer and a coquettish woman who aims a killing side-glance at him. A hag, a Cupid, and a hound complete the group, which is as ill composed as possible, and almost as void of meaning. Parts of the work are finely executed, but the theory that it is by Terburg needs the support of strong external testimony. Metsu’s Woman in Confinement appears to be a masterpiece of painting, but is constantly hung so high, presumably from motives of delicacy, that it is impossible to pronounce on its merits with any positiveness. There are a few things that might well be left unpainted, and doubtless this subject is one of them. There is nothing to be said of Adam Pynacker’s Landscape, with its golden sky, brown clilfs, romantic design, and high finish, except that it is an inferior example of a superior school. David Vinckenboons’s A Fight with Death is a curious and horrible scene. The Destroyer, represented by a skeleton, and armed with a bow and arrows, approaches a crowd of gayly dressed people, who have been making merry, and now are panic-stricken at his coming. Some of them turn to seek safety in flight or in hiding, while others offer a futile resistance. Death aims his shaft, and several victims are already falling to the earth. Side by side with this grisly apparition Father Time advances, laying low with his irresistible scythe all who come in his way. In the distance, a frightened herd of brutes in full flight try to escape the common doom. The mediæval spirit of this parable is impressive in its earnestness. Jacob van Artois’s large Landscape with Figures possesses some marked merits of foreground, but is spoiled by a weak and conventional sky. A mass of dark trees rises at the right, and some peasants and goats are dimly seen on a road which is shaded by the wood. At the left, a lake, a church spire, and blue hills lead the sight away to a disappointing horizon. If the Sea Piece attributed in the catalogue to Adrian van der Velde be by any member of that family, it must be by Willem van der Velde; but he was a painter of so much ability that it would be more respectful to conclude that this very commonplace marine, pale, colorless, uninspired, and uninteresting, was in fact not the handiwork of any Van der Velde. Van Huysum’s Fruit and Flowers is another respectable specimen of mechanical art, which age has covered with a uniform veil of saffron. Grapes, peaches, plums, oranges, chestnuts, a glass of wine, a butterfly, a knife, etc., all are mimicked artfully, but without the gusto that is needed to make them beautiful. Kierinx’s The Ferry, a large landscape with figures ; Boël’s Flower Piece, a big, dark composition in the style of Snyders ; Van Eeckhout’s Guard Room, a third-rate genre with five small figures of soldiers; and finally Simon de Vlieger’s Marine, describing an absurd fleet on an impossible sea, conclude my list of Dutch and Flemish pictures, in the enumeration of which no effort at chronological order has been made : because, first, I wished to consider the San Donato group by itself; and secondly, for the reason that the greatest of the Netherlander appeared almost simultaneously, made their exits in the same way, and, taking all the secrets of their art with them, left the world to wonder evermore at their genius.

The English school, which was famous once, and may be so again, begins here with Sir Peter Lely, who, like Van Dyck and many other ornaments of the school, was an adopted, not a native, Englishman. Sir Peter knew how to please the belles of Charles II.’s time better than any one else. His portrait of the Duchess of Cleveland presents to our notice an amusing person, who holds an arrow, and is feeling of its point, evidently borrowing all the arts and weapons of Love, while she levels a murderous glance at her intended victim, and smiles with an indescribable air of experienced coquetry. She is plentifully besprinkled with powder, displays a neck and breast of rotund proportions, and her hair is arranged crisply in little curls all over her head. She wears white, of course, and a neat breadth of light-green drapery floats about her form in a way which indicates two things, — a breeze and Sir Peter’s consciousness of his ability in the treatment of such accessories. His Portrait of Sir Charles Hobby is chiefly noticeable on account of a big wig and the wearer’s air of mingled dignity and stupidity.

The greatest of English portraitpainters and the whilom head of the British school is represented by a Portrait of Miss Louisa Pyne, a plain little girl, who sits with her hands crossed in her lap, and casts a demure sideglance at somebody. The costume is of a yellow hue, which matches her hair, and of bronze colored stuff, with a bead necklace. In the arrangement, the lighting, the expression of personality, the accomplished limner makes his art evident. The mellow golden tone, the softness of lines, and the sympathetic character of the work, all call to mind the lamented George Fuller. Sir Joshua’s study for The Banished Lord, in which a keen personal quality is felt, and in the dramatic manner of its lighting suggests a souvenir of Rembrandt, is another valuable example of the famous Englishman. The portrait of Charles James Fox ascribed to Gainsborough represents that statesman arrayed in a scarlet coat, and with a most amiable expression, but innocent of the least suspicion of intelligence. The portrait of Benjamin West by Lawrence, which describes a mild, gentle old man in a morning robe, is not well enough painted to demand more than a passing notice, and in no sense represents the distinguished painter.

Not far away hang two canvases from the hand of the founder of the modern landscape school, John Constable, who, as the connecting link between the great Dutchmen, Ruysdael, Hobbema, Cuyp, and their contemporaries, and the Frenchmen of 1830, Rousseau, Dupré, Troyon, sheds an eternal lustre upon English art. As each country has a nature peculiar to itself, so it raises up sons who are able lovingly to paint its skies, woods, fields, hills, valleys, rivers, and sea-coasts even as they are, to filial eyes unlike the landscape of any other part of the earth. What Ruysdael did for Holland, Constable did for England and Corot for France. “ Old John ” was the first man to represent those effects of “ umbrella weather ” which make England so beautiful, — dark clouds laden with rain moving over the verdant face of the country, with the sun bursting forth, or about to burst forth, in an opening ; in a word, those transient aspects which are the life of landscape art, because they suggest the infinite variety of nature. Constable’s straightforward, simple, and manly method is an unmistakable sign of the genuineness of these two small works, His Native Village and Rochester Castle. The former is a strong sketch of a dark-green meadow, rising in a gentle slope to a wood which crowns a ridge in the shadow of gray clouds. There is a glimpse of the farmhouses of East Bergholt, a winding road, groups of fine trees, etc., in the distance. The sky is gray and white, with an area of tender blue ; it has a look of changeableness, of a fleeting phase, which is equivalent to Constable’s autograph on the canvas. Rochester Castle, also a sketch, is rich in grays and dull greens. It is a picturesque subject, blocked in rudely, but with a master’s eye for values.

Three works of the British school remain to be considered, the best of which is William Etty’s Woman Reclining, a small nude figure, thinly painted, of a pink tone, set off by white and red draperies and a foreground of brown earth. The pose is not without grace. The face is hid by the arms. It is a study of more than mediocre value. The landscape is like one of those that the old Italian masters painted, with a blue mountain in the distance. The color is full and frank. Bonington’s slight but spirited sketch of a Scene from Gil Blas affords not more than the vaguest idea of his powers as a painter. He was educated in France, and is highly appreciated there now, being one of the mere handful of British painters represented in the Louvre. Solitude is the appropriate name of a large landscape by Robert Barrett Browning, the son of the poet. A mountain lake lies at the foot of a range of dark cliffs, which are reflected in its placid waters. In the blue sky hangs a new moon. By the tarn’s edge slender willows, rank grass, weeds, and wild flowers grow. The work is dull, sombre, and heavy, the composition disagreeable. There is a singular absence of “ quality ” in this painting.

There are a few American paintings to which no reference has been made in the preceding remarks about Boston painters, but not so many as there should be, not so many as there will be when we are sufficiently educated to be sensible of the merit which owes its birth to the conditions of American life, and now seems likely to be recognized first abroad, and last at home. W. L. Picknell’s landscape, The Ipswich Coast, which came into the possession of the Museum in 1885, after having been exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1884, is the most important American landscape in the collection. It is a strong example of the modern out-door school, painted evidently in a very glaring light. It has all the sharpness, chill, aridity, clarity, and tenuity of the American atmosphere, with the sparkle and freshness of a bright day on the sea-shore. The modeling of the ground is very vigorous, and nothing is wanting but a touch of poetry, which age may give to the picture. Mr. Picknell’s prose is very fine and logical, but one admires without loving it. In the foreground is a tract of white, dry sand, just above high-water mark. The coarse and spindling grass which grows on the margin of the waste has withered here and there, forming patches of red and yellow, and elsewhere lifts its slim spears in tufts of green. The hummocks crowned by this rank grass cast bluish shadows across the sand. At the left is a small rocky elevation ; at the right, a rough road winding away towards a distant bay, on the further shores of which rises the “ utmost purple rim ” of the hills. The sky is of a palpitating, cool blue, in which float vague clouds, silvery gray and shining where the sunlight rests upon their tops.

A Rough Day, Harbor of Honfleur, France, by Frank M. Boggs, is a lively marine, and well represents a province of the art in which Americans have won many laurels. The water, upon which the observer seems to look down from some high pier-head or jetty, is chopping, seething, and of a dirty cream color. The stormy sky is of a heavy slate-gray hue. A small pilot-boat sloop is bounding towards us under full sail; her hull is painted blue, and her canvas is very dark brown. Only one man, clad in a blue blouse and sou’wester, is visible on her deck. In the distance, the end of a pier is seen at the right. A small steamer tosses and tugs restlessly at her hawsers on the waves near it. At the left is a bell beacon. Gulls flying in the wind, and the smoke eddying from the steamer’s funnel, emphasize the general aspect of action, briskness, breeziness. The buoyancy of the sloop, the liquid quality of the water, and the coloring generally are excellences which must promptly be recognized. The contrast between the heavy, dark sky and the luminous water is one of those abrupt effects which appear exaggerated and unnatural in a picture, but, even if a closer semblance of truth might be desirable, we are obliged to take the painter’s word for the facts, knowing how well trained and artistic are Mr. Boggs’s eyes. It is also worthy of remark that all he does is thoroughly his own.

Elihu Vedder’s Lair of the Sea Serpent is not intrinsically a remarkable painting, but it was talked into celebrity when it was first exhibited, and a vast deal of fine writing was done about it. “ At last,” exclaimed the critics, in ecstasy, “the myth of the sea has found an interpreter.” In the studios there were sarcastic allusions to the stuffed eel which had served as a model for the unknown survivor of the saurians. On the other hand, there were people sufficiently imaginative to see a pathetic yearning in the creature’s gaze. The scene is a sandy waste by the sea, where reddish tufts of grass maintain a precarious existence among the dunes. It is calm and sunny weather, and the blue sea slumbers under a soft blue sky. On the sands lies coiled a colossal lead-hued snake, his head resting on a dune as he looks out over the waters. The tone of the painting is not particularly pleasant, being chiefly a combination of soft greenish blues and foxy reds. Vedder has painted many better canvases which have not been so much debated. His resources, also, are better illustrated in other works than in the Sea Serpent, which wants the element of mystery, and, considering the boundless capacities of the subject, displays but little invention.

A considerable number of this artist’s small pictures are in the private collections of Boston, where his abilities always have been appreciated. Perhaps there is nothing better in color among his productions than the vaguely named Two Figures, owned by Mr. Henry Sayles. Vedder never reached his highest level of imaginative creation until he undertook the illustration of the Rubáiyát of Omar Kháyyam. He has painted some very bad as well as some very good pictures, in his time; but in a certain weird vein of fancy he is unequaled among American artists.

Mrs. S. T. Darrah’s picture of Glass Head is a gray and melancholy seacoast scene, in a manner inspired by Daubigny. The glimpse of water, with sailing craft, and of a cape beyond, has a striking verisimilitude. The work is sincere, broad, and almost masculine.

The earliest product of the pictorial art of Italy is an altar-piece of the Sienese school of the fourteenth century, representing the entombment and assumption of the Virgin. It is a valuable and interesting specimen of the primitive art of the Renaissance. The Pietà, with paintings of saints on panels, by Bartoloméo Vivarini, who made the first oil-painting exhibited in Venice, is signed and dated 1485. It was first carved in wood in high relief, and then painted. The face of the Virgin, who supports the lifeless body of her Son on her lap, is full of a touching expression of grief. The whole altar-piece is about six feet square, richly ornamented and gilded, and in a good state of preservation. The small sketch of the Assumption of the Virgin, by Tintoret, which was bequeathed to the Museum by Mr. T. G. Appleton, is about thirty inches high by eighteen wide, with a rounded top. The picture, in the Jesuits’ church, Venice, has been engraved by Kilian, and is eloquently described in Taine’s Italy. Mr. Appleton had good reasons for believing that this sketch was actually the work of the fiery Venetian master, and there is nothing in the work to contradict this supposition. Carlo Maratti’s Christ and the Woman of Samaria is an example of a second-rate old master who belonged to an epoch of decadence. It is effeminate in manner, and as to color recalls a poor specimen of Murillo. Luca Giordano, who belonged to the same era, was, however, more of a man than Maratti, and the three paintings signed by him, which have been relegated to the West room, deserve better positions. The largest composition — The Golden Age — contains full twenty life-size nude figures, excellently drawn, and arranged in a large, free fashion in two main groups, one towards either extremity of the canvas. It is a pagan idyl of innocence, in which youths, maids, and jocund cherubs sport in the pleasant country. Several of the figures are full of grace, and nothing is wanting but a purer scale of color, since there is little or no evidence of that hasty execution which gained for the artist the sobriquet of Fa Priesto. The Eucharist is another large work, showing twelve half-length and life-size male figures grouped about the Lord, who is giving the sacramental bread to one of his disciples, kneeling with clasped hands to receive it. Some of the heads have much intelligence. The Flaying of Marsyas, which, I believe, is a replica or a variation of one of Giordano’s paintings in the Naples museum, is of a bricky tone, and may be dismissed as an imitation of Ribera, whose subjects, however revolting, were painted with far greater art. Giovanni Paolo Pannini, an eighteenth - century artist who was renowned for his skill in the treatment of architectural compositions, is represented by two large paintings of interiors which are more curious than beautiful. The Roman Picture Gallery is a comprehensive souvenir of the Eternal City, a lofty hall full of arid paintings representing precisely the many historic monuments of the capital, — its pagan remains and its Christian temples, its fountains, villas, statues, castles, parks, bridges, and streets. It is almost better than an album of photographic views such as tourists bring home with them. The Interior of St. Peter’s illustrates a little man’s way of looking at a great subject. It is a literal, correct, painstaking, and mightily disappointing description of the vast edifice, with many little puppets, meant for people, walking about and standing in groups here and there upon the pavement. These bloodless drawings (for they can hardly be called paintings) remind one of the apostle’s words concerning the letter which killeth and the spirit which giveth life. Rome, if we may believe the countless men and women who have felt her peculiar charm, is no such insignificant locality as Pannini, with his “ microscopic eye,” would have us believe.

Only three pictures illustrate the German school. Cranach’s Deposition from the Cross is a strong and brutal realization of a painful scene, which has been treated by countless painters without a touch of tenderness, but never with a more uncompromising literalism. The body of Jesus, an afflicting spectacle, with the bleeding spear-wound conspicuously brought to view, is surrounded by a group of eight figures. There is good work in some of these heads. The claims made by the Museum catalogue in behalf of the little picture attributed to the younger Holbein — A Donor and his two patron saints, St. Peter with the keys, St. Paul with a sword — are ingenious, and, I might add, plausible, if the author of the notes had not committed the error of characterizing the head of St. Paul as “ intellectual and refined.” There is nothing in the history of the work that is inconsistent with the Berlin expert’s theory that it is an original Holbein, nor is there anything in the work itself, except the disproportion in respect to the size of the heads which is noticed by the catalogue editor, and occasions some doubt in his mind, to controvert the presumption of its authenticity. It is “ highly finished ” indeed, and “ the hands . . . are so literally rendered that their truth to life can only be appreciated by looking at them with a magnifying-glass.” It is also hard, severe, and angular; has absolutely no merit of expression, and none of feeling beyond its entire sincerity. Most of these qualities are not wholly incompatible with the German expert’s notion. The Landscape with Figures and Goats, by Rosa di Tivoli, is a dark and chaotic picture. Rosa di Tivoli was a German artist named Roos, who went to live at Tivoli, near Rome ; hence the euphonic improvement in his name. The catalogue of the Louvre says that he “ vécut dans la débauche, et mourut dans la misère,” and this painting seems to confirm the first part of the statement.

William Howe Downes.

  1. The Interior of a Butcher’s Shop, by David Teniers; Fruit and Vegetables, by Willem Kalf; Vase of Flowers, by Jan van Huysum ; The Usurer, by Gabriel Metsu ; Skirt of the Forest, by Jacob van Ruysdael; The Ruined Cottage, by Jacob van Ruysdael (the figures by Philip Wouwermans); Dordrecht, by Aelbert Cuyp; Soap Bubbles, by Gaspard Netscher; The Jealous Husband, by Nicholas Maas ; Still-Life, by Simon Verelst.