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Tor the Monthly Magazine. Observations on the Gallery of DUSSELDORF.* In a LETTER to a FRIEND, hy T. C. BRUUN NFF.RGAARD.
THE gallery of Dusseldorf is placed in awingof the palace built in 1710 by the Elector Palatine John William. It has not been injured by the war, though the Testof the palace was laid in ruins by the bombardment of the second of October 1794. ft appears that the French imagined ttie pictures were still there, and spared it only from the natural respect ■which is due to die arts. The prudent directors, foreseeing the dangers to which they were likely to be exposed, had been employed for a fortnight before in packing up the whole collection, consisting of three hundred and sixty-five pictures, which they sent off the day before the bombardment, for Gluckstadt in Holstein. The period of their emigration was six years and a half. The gallery was saved and accompanied by the inspector, professor Brulliot. Its removal and conveyance cost more than 400,000 francs (nearly if 17,000 sterling). Since its return, the whole is nearly restored to its former order.
It mas John "William who began to form this gallery. Being a passionate admirer of the arts, he invited to his residence several celebrated painters, among whom were distinguished Vanderwerff, Schalcken, and Wecnix, whose most valuable productions are comprized in this collection. Charles Theodore greatly augmented it, and likewise had it properly arranged.
The three hundred and sixty-five pictures are judiciously placed in six contiguous apartments; and as there was not sufficient room, it has been found necessary to hang some of them upon the doors and the shutters.
The collection of Dusseldorf has always been distinguished for numerous productions of the Flemish school; it contains many pieces by Vandyke, Itubens,Vanderwertt and Schalcken, and almost all of their best- time. We also find here some beau
* Dus-:eldorf having been made the capital of the grand duchy of Berg, in the Ute partition of Germany, and transferred from the Elector of Bavaria to the trench General Muraf, this Gallery, as well as tiiat of Mannheim, has been removed to Munich, the cpital of the new kingdom of Bavaria. It may be necessary to observe that this letter was written in the year 180.5, and the removal of the Gallery, by oplci of the King of Bavaria, look place in 1606. Iramlattr.
tiful pictures of the Italian school. I will mention some of them; I had seen so many and of so much excellence at Paris that you must pardon me for being rather fastidious. I shall treat more amply of the Flemish school, which particularly attracted my notice, and which I examined more in detail.
The first picture which excited my admiration was that of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, by Schalcken. I have seen many of this master's productions; but I never could forget his defects in design and expression till I beheld this picture. The effects of the light and chiaro-oscuro are expressed with such magnificence, that I was at a loss to what master to ascribe it, so much has Schalcken surpassed himself in this composition. Forster asserts that there are still superior performances of this master atCassel, but it is so long since I saw them, thut I cannot undertake to contradict him, notwithstanding my desire to do so. This picture of the Virginsrepresentseiuhtof them: The five first are proceeding gaily with their lamps burning. Three others behind them, are at a loss how to extricate themselves from their dilemma; one is on her knees, her lamp is nearly extinguished, and she appears to be begging a little oil of herjoyous companions; another, whose lamp has gone out, with clasped hands, implores their assistance, whilst the third in vain blows on her's for the purpose of making it light again. A spark, which has fallen from the lamp, is still burning, and so perfect is the illusion, that one is tempted to extinguish it. The feeble flame of the dying lamp, the effect of that which is blown in vain, and the reflections which fall upon the three Virgins in the centre, astonished me the most in this chef d'aruvrc. This picture, which is two feet eleven inches high, and three feet six inches wide, has been twice engraved, first by V. Green, and afterwards by John Elias Hiiid in 1782. There are three other pictures by the same master, who lived for some time with the Elector John William.
Though the painter of history in general surpasses the painter of manners, from the grand and noble style in which he represents hissubjects; the painter of manners may likewise sometimes excel his rivals; and Gerard Douw, in his famous Mountebank, confirms this opinion. I seldom dwell on pictures of manners; where historical subjects call my attention, a rapid glance is sufficient, and I turn again to history; but this mountebank selling his
nostrums attracted me in spite of myself.
On a kind of covered stale you see a mountebank with a phial in his hand, disposing of his drugs and surrounded by people of the lower classes. A woman has her pocket picked without perceiving it, so deeply is she engaged by the extraordinary things which she hears. Here it a little Savoyard, with his box containing his treasure, a little marmot which every body is anxious to see; and there a match-woman, hunting the vermin on her child. This good mothei might have performed this duty without letting us know it. The natural manner in which the artist has represemed the scene, renders it Kill more disgusting. One of the principal persons in this composition is a jolly fportsman with a hare on his shoulder. His silly look and the solemn attention with which he gazes at the mountebank, Seem to promise the latter that the countryman will not continue his journey till be has made him his dupe. You imagine you see a gardener, who passes by with his *heel-barrow,actuallv moving along. The mass of the spectators are principally engaged in listening and speaking. At a casement we discover the painter, who has represented himself with his pallet and pencils.
Great naivete pervades this piece, and the beads are full of expresssion. Though 1 find in his Dropsical Man at Paris a much higher finish, his Mountebank exhibits a much more sprightly touch. It appears to me that a picture resembles a cook; we are not fond of reading those the author of which has explained every tiling so as to leave nothing for us to sdd; be wishes to make us acquainted with every thing, and sometimes we would rather be allowed to guess. We throw ■own his book, angry that he has not left lissome small intervals to fill up. Hagedorn says, on the subject of this celebrated picture in his Reflections on Painting: "That in the figures you find such delicate traits as are rarely met with in the most celebrated kind of painting."
The Mountebank is ono of the largest performances of Gerard Douw. It is three feet, five inches on height, mid two feet, seven inches in breadth. It was painted in 1632, and is in wood. It has been aquatinted and finished with the cravsr by Professor Hess. This print, which has ipoeared in Kngland, is perfectly in the spirit of the original, n commendation which can rarely be bestowed on an engraving. Without prejudice to the other i
productions of this eminent engraver, who resides at Dusseldorf, this plate may be considered as his master-piece.
If we consider Vandyke as a historical painter, he does not come near his master, Kuhens, either for the richnessof his compositions, or the grand manuer of his execution; but with respect to his portraits, only look at them and you will give them the palm. In the other schools he has but one rival, Titian, and even with him ■ he may in some instances maintain a successful competition.
There are at Dusseldorf twenty-one. performances of Vandyke, most of which are of his best years. Among his historical pictures, I prefer that of Christ carried to the Tomb, which is painted with delicate colours and yet produces a wonderful effect; it is censured for incorrectness in the design. Others prefer his Jupiter as a Satyr surprising Antiope asleep. Among his portraits, a whole length of a woman pleases me most. You likewise see his own portrait painted in hit youth.
I met with two pictures by Raphael: the first is a HolyFamily, one of his early performances, on which I shall not enlarge; and the other a beautiful Academy of his best time. It is St. John the Baptist in the Wilderness, who, under the figure of a handsome young man, is seated on a rock, from which gushes a spring. He is almost entirely naked, has a cross in his left hand and a cup full of water in the other. What an admirable position, what truth, what design, what grandeur of style! Who was ever capable of uniting so many qualities except Raphael? And Forster refuses him the honour of having painted this pieee because he thinks the colouring too fine. He ascribes it to Andrea del Sarto. But this is not a reason; Raphael was perhaps not always the greatest colourist, but he assuredly was sometimes. To admit this, it is only necessary to see some of his portraits, as I have, beside those of Titian; they even dispute the precedence with the latter. I think the defect of design in the shortening of the kit foot gives us still more right to ascribe it to Raphael; for we know that in this particular that master was not always very happy. We are told that this picture was covered by a landscape in watercolours that was not badly executed. In cleaning it, the owner discovered that there was an oil-painting underneath. Whatasurprize! What rapture must the person have felt who cleaned it, when he discovered, by degrees, the exquisite work of the god
of painting. It is not improbable that, at the time, it was found necessary to cover this master-piece with a landscape before it could be exported. It is well known with what difficulties the removal of the productions of the ancient masters was attended. This performance lias been engraved by V. Green.
The portrait of Luca Giordano, painted by himself, is in the manner of l'Espagnolet.
The Blessed Virgin, with the Infant Jesus, is, without doubt, the master-piece of Carlo Dolce. He painted it in 1649, Bt the age of thirty-three. You know that I am not partial to this master, hut I nevertheless think that this performance has been criticised too severely, perhaps, because it is hung immediately underneath the beautiful Raphael. Our opinion of a picture too frequently depends on the manner in which it id placed. Many pictures are exceedingly great losers by being misplaced. Different artists have assured me, that this is the reason why certain pieces of Itubens excite less admiration at Paris than at Antwerp.
The head of Christ, by Correggio, is very expressive: it made me melancholy.
By Andrea del Sarto, who treated Francis I. with such ingratitude, we find a Holy Family, consisting of the Blessed Virgin, the infant Jesus, Elizabeth, nnd , the infant St. John, I was uncommonly delighted with tlio head and the white drapery "I" Elizabeth. Tins piece is undoubtedly one of the mo-t capital per* fbrmances of that master, as well on ac/ connt of the grace of the heads, as the beauty of the colouring. This picture, which is four feet two inches in hci;ht, and three feet two inches in breadth, is painted on wood, and has been engraved in the dotted manner by L. Cosse.
By Domenicliino, whose St. Jerome I am never weary of admiring, there is here one picture that does him honour,Susanna bathing. He here proves himself one of the first painters of expression. Susanna, having just come out of the water, is sitting on the steps of the basin, drying her fair body. She is surprised by the two elders,m>d appears to beshrieking out. One of the elders on the outside of the balustrade, leans over, anil extends his arms towards her, whilst the other forces the door, and approaches her. The countenance of Susanna is not at all distorted, as Forster asserts; on the contrary, the distress and agitation of a virtuous woman are admirably expressed in it. The heads of the elders u/e replete with expression: it is
impossible to paint desire with greater truth than in the head of him who is breaking open the door. This picture is eight feet five inches high, and ten feet seven inches broad. It has been engraved in the dotted manner by Eginton.
The various judgments passed on Adrian Vanderwerff are overcharged. Some find in his works all the perfections of painting, and others all its defects. The latter have seen too little of him, and the former, enraptured with the finish of th* details, forget the faults of the general composition; a wise medium should be observed, in every thing. A painter who has bestowed so much pains on details at Vanderwerff, ought to he studied before an opinion is passed on liim. No painter perhaps excels him in drapery. Fault is found with his flesh, which, it must be admitted, is daubed, nnd of an ivory cast; but if we have discovered one defect, must we for that reason forget all hit beauties?
Vanderwerff ought to be stndied at Dusseldorf: we there find a great number of his works, and even of his most capital ones. He resided there at different times during the reign of John William. We see here twenty-live pieces by that master, and all but one are nearly of the same dimensions. Of these I prefer the following:—
1. Jesus in the midst of the Doctors. Jesus Christ is represented asa handsome child, full of intelligence : standing before a table, on which are lying papers and the Sacred Scriptures. The doctors stand round him; his bare head is shadowed with lu:ht hair; he is dressed in a grey habit over which a purple mantle reaches down to his knees. The eyes and attention of all present are fixed upon him, and the principal light falls on his head. The expression in the heads, the colouring, a well studied architecture, and in particular the choice and execution of the draperies, cannot fail to excite admiration. This picture, painted in 1705, is two feetsix inches in height, and one foot, nine inches in breadth; it has been engraved bv Green in the stroke manner.
2. Jesus laid in the Tomb, painted in 1703,15 among the pictures of this master at Dusseldorf, and is that to which I should give the palm, both on account of the correctness of the design and the expression of the heads. The head of Jesus Christ is laid upon a rock; Joseph of Arimathea, richly dressed, on the top of it; be-ide him is the Blessed Virgin taking the crown ot thorns from the head of the Saviour; tlic
three three Marya. are at the feet of Christ. Magdalen is kissing his hand. Other Dermis are seen behind Joseph. 1 could lierer be tired of admiring the expression of grief in the heads of Magdalen and of Joseph, and the delicacy with which Mary takes oif the crown of thorns; you would »y tiiat she was still r -mid of hurting him.
3. The Adoration of the Shepherds. The principal light falls upon the infant Jesus.
4. Sarah presenting Hagar to Abraham. This picture was painted in 1699. It is impossible to suppose that such great luxury prevailed in the apartments of the ancient patriarchs. But we are inclined to forgive this fault iu the painter of history, nhen we behold the admirable execution of his imaginary luxury.
5. Abraham sending away Hagar and hhmacl. Xhis piece, painted in 1701, reconciles us with the faults against history remarked in the preceding. Its author here seems to have studied and felt the simplicity of patriarchal life.
All these pictures are nearly of the same dimensions as the first.
6. Jesus presented to the Jews by Pontius Pilate; four feet high, three feet rive inches broad, painted on canvas at Rotterdam in 1691. In this, as in the preceding pictures, the expression of the heads is particularly admired.
We Snd here nine pictures by Rembrandt, both portraits and historical subjects. Of the former, I prefer his own portrait, in which are exhibited that touch replete with energy, that clair-obscure magic, which causes his pencil to be so highly admired.
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin hi Guido Reni is one of his finest proaactions. The Virgin is rising toward heaven, borne in the clouds by two angels; two other angels conceal themselves under her drapery. The attitude of the Virgin, the correctness, the agreeable expression of the heads, the exquisite drapery, all enchant us in this master-piece. Professor Uess has engraved it in the doited manner. This picture is nine feet two inches in height, and six feet six inches in breadth.
-I have still a few words to say concerning Rubens. We find here foitytii of his works. I shall not enter into any detail of them; since every day may be seen at the Museum (in Paris) more than fifty of his pieces.
The Last Judgment is one of the pro'• V«t» of the pencil of Rubens, and is,
beyond dispute, one of Tiis capital works, replete with force and energy. I nevertheless think that this subject is not within the province of painting, any more than the Deluge, as I have elsewhere observed. The celebrated Lessing has made the same remark on his Laocoon. It cannot be denied that this picture possesses great beauties, hut the subject is not treated in a manner worthy of its author. Scarcely any of the figures has the position or the character adapted to it, not even the principal personage, which is Jesus Christ. If ever subject afforded scope for expression, it is undoubtedly this, in which men of all ages, of ail passions, of all virtues, and of ail vices, might be represented. He cannot therefore reasonably be pardoned for having introduced so many ignoble and unmeaning countenances, when he had at his command all the expressions by which human life can be characterized. But while we censure his defects, it is impossible to forbear admiring the grandeur and beauty of his composition, his exquisite groups, the variety of his attitudes, the boldness of his pencil, the warmth of that inimitable colouring wljich enchants us in all the works of Rubens, especially when we behold them at a certain distance; of that colouring which, unrivalled at the time when he painted, procured him the crown of immortality. This picture, one of the largest of that master, and which, from the magnitude of its dimensions, obliged the owner t» construct tha gallery, is eighteen feet nine inches in height, and fourteen fevt in breadth. It has been engraved by Cornelius Vischer.
The Fall of the rebellious Angels into Hell, a sketch. It is impossible to guess where the artist begun, or where lie finished. The spectator suffers with the falling spirits, What beautiful confusion! It is an exertion of the genius of Rubens, which can be compared to nothing but the sublime conception of Milton's Paradise Lost. This piece has becu engraved by Lucas Vostennaim. <
The whole-length portraits of Rubens and his wife, are well painted, and are replete with grace and truth. They have been engraved by Hess.
I have been too diffuse, and I havs; been too brief; but it is out of my power to correct these faults. I shall be happy if I can only enable you to appreciate tlte beautiful collection which I have attempted to describe.
Permit me to subjoin a few observa
lions relative to those who Tiave written concerning this gallery. Nicholas de Pigage, chief architect to the Elector in 1779, published a w»rk entitled: De la Galerie Electorate de Dusseldorrf, ou Catalogue Raisonnie et Figures de ses Tableaux. This description is embellished with thirty large plates, engraved by Christian Mechel of Basil. All the pieces are there represented in the order in which they are hung. They are in general well engraved, and in the true style of the different masters. In engraving each part of a gallery on a single plate, the dimensions must of course be attended to; hence the subjects of the smaller pictures are rendered so confused, as not to he distinguishable. Such is the fate in this work of the performances of Vauderwerff. The designs for the engravings and the plates themselves, cost .the Elector about one hundred thousand francs, (upwards of four thousand pounds sterling). These plates are so worn that no more impressions can be taken off". Eight copies still remain at the gallery for sale; the price is six louis d'ors; The descriptive part of the text is well executed, but with respect to the opinions, the author is in general too lavish of his praise, conceiving that the name of a great painter is sufficient to protect his performances from all imputation.
J. R. Forsrer treats at considerable length of this.colloction in his Tour of the Lower Rhine, which, for its style, may justly be considered a master-piece. Many of his judgments are correct, and evince the man who combines genius and knowledge: others display the amateur prepossessed against the Flemish school, and, who sometimes finds fault only that he may be consistent with his system.
In the Calendrier du Bus Rhin, by F. Muhr, a publication which has appeared annually «ince 1799, are given descriptions and engravings of the principal articles in this admirable collection. The engravings are executed with care by Hess; and the descriptions, written with discernment, atibrd an accurnte idea of the artist mid of his work. In short it is such a performance as every lover of the art would wish to see in his library.*
* Since the above letter was written, M. Lar.ger, the director of the gallery, has published thirteen engravings from designs by celebrated masters, preserved in this cvllcctieu.
To the Editor of the Monthly Magazine.
ON looking over some volumes of your excellent miscellany, I met with a passage in a letter, subscribed D. F. ia the Magazine for June, 1800, which not a little surprised me. The writer of that letter, in elucidating the following line of Milton's Lycidas, "Looks towards Numancos and Bagonis hold," makes this observation, " I conceive Numancos must have been intended for the ancient Numantia, near Tarragona, on the coast of Catalonia; and, that Milton has given a Spanish termination to the word." Now, Mr. Editor, the position here assigned, for Numantia, appears to me, utterly irreconcilcablc with the descriptions left us of that most interesting town, by the historians, and geographers, of antiquity, as also to the opinions of every modern writer of character, on the subject; and, as 1 have not been able to trace, in the subsequent numbers of your Magazine, any remarks on this head; I am induced to transmit to you the following, partly drawn from tlie best authorities, ancient and modern, and partly the result of my own observation and enquiries, in a tour through Spain, eighteen years ago.
I had entered Spain, from France, by Bayonne, crossed the west end of the Pyrenees, to Pampelona, the cnpital of Spaaish Navarre, and proceeded southwards to the river Ebro*.
The river there flows in a broad deep channel, with moderate rapidity, and is crossed in a large bark. At high floods it overflows the plain in the north, but the banks ou the south side are too elevated to bo ever exposed to inundation.
A couple of miles above the ferry, on the south side of the river, .stands Alfaro, a small town, supposed, by some writers, to occupy the site of Grnccarns, a town founded and enlarged by the celebrated Tiberius Semproiuus Gracchus, after his conquest of the Celtibcrians, in the year 179, A. C. It is, however, asserted, and with more probability, that Graccurris stood where is the present town of Agreda, which is situated in the line of the great Roman road from Tarragona, westward by Numantia to the Atlantic Ocean, on the coast of Portugal.
From the ferry on the Ebro, the road
• See Monthly Magazine for December, 1804, p. 39*.