Sacrament. God the Father is represented alone in the distant sky; boy-angels with labels.-Engraved by Snyers. The sky has been ill repainted, and does not harmonize with the rest of the work. The whole picture, indeed, seems to have suffered; for there is not that brilliancy which might be expected, nor indeed any extraordinary character of heads : the best is that immediately behind the bishops on the foreground. -A print by Snyers.

At an altar on the entrance to the choir, Christ. carrying the Cross; said to be one of the most early pictures of Vandyck. It is in many parts like the works of Rubens, particularly the figure with his back towards the spectator, which is well drawn.

The drapery of the Christ being dark, having become so probably by time, is scarcely at all seen, which makes the head look like that taken by St. Veronica. This picture is much cracked, particularly the blue drapery of the Virgin, and the naked back of the figure above-mentioned.--A print by Alexander Voct.

The altar of the chapel of St. Dominie, a black picture by Caravaggio; the Virgin and Christ with St. Dominic, and other saints.

About the church are represented the mysteries of St. Rosario, and other subjects painted hy vari- : ous painters: the best of these pictures are those by Rubens and Jordaens. The Flagellation of Christ is by Rubens. This picture, though ad

VOL. 11.

mirably painted, is disagreeable to look at; the black and bloody stripes are marked with too much fidelity; and some of the figures are awkwardly scourging with their left hand.- A print by Pontius.

The picture of Jordaens is the Crucifixion, with the Virgin, St. John, Mary Magdalen, and St. , Elizabeth; much in the manner of Rubens.

The Adoration of the Shepherds. The light coming from Christ is said to be of Rubens, but there is nothing in the picture by which his manner can be with certainty recognized : there are parts which were certainly not painted by him, particularly the drapery of the Virgin.

- .. ST. AUGUSTIN. The altar of the choir is by Rubens. From the size of the picture, the great number of figures, and the skill with which the whole is conducted, this picture must be considered as one of the most considerable works of Rubens.

The Virgin and Infant Christ are represented at one distance, seated on high on a sort of pedestal, which has steps ascending to it: behind the Virgin is St. Joseph. On the right is St. Catharine, receiving the ring from Christ. St. Peter and St. Paul are in the back-ground; and on the left, on the steps, St. John the Baptist, with the Lamb and Angels. Below are St. Sebastian, St. Augustin, St. Lawrence, Paul the Hermit, and St. George in

armour. By way of link to unite the upper and the lower parts of the picture, are four female saints half way up the steps. The subject of this picture, if that may be called a subject where no story is represented, has no means of interesting the spectator: its value therefore must arise from another source: from the excellence of art, from the eloquence, as it may be called, of the artist. And in this the painter has shown the greatest skill, by disposing of more than twenty figures,' without composition, and without crowding. The whole appears as much animated, and in motion, as it is possible for a picture to be, where nothing is doing'; and the management of the masses of light and shade in this picture is equal to the skill shown in the disposition of the figures.

There is a similar subject to this, painted by Titian, which was in the church of St. Nicola de Fiari at Venice, where he has represented the same saints, which are placed all on a line, without any connexion with each other; and above is the Virgin and Infant, equally unconnected with the rèst of the picture. It is so completely separated, that it has been since made into two distinct pictures ; the lower part forming that which is now in the Pope's collection in the Capitol.

By the disposition, Titian has certainly saved himself a great deal of that trouble of contrivance which composition requires. This artless manner is by many called simplicity ; but that simplicity, which proceeds either from ignorance or laziness, cannot deserve much commendation. As ignorance cannot be imputed to Titian, we may conclude it was inattention; and indeed he has sufficiently shown that it did not proceed from ignorance, by another picture of the same kind of subject in the church de Frari at Venice, where it is treated in a very different manner. Here the Virgin and Child are placed on an altar, instead of a pedestal ; St. Peter, with an open book leaning on the altar, and looking at St. George, and another figure, which is kneeling. On the other side is St. Francis looking up to Christ, and recommending to his protection a noble Venetian, with four other figures, who are on their knees. Nothing can exceed the simplicity and dignity of these figures. They are drawn in profile, looking straight forward in the most natural manner, without any contrast or affectation of attitude whatever. The figure on the other side is likewise in profile, and kneeling ; which, while it gives an air of formality to the picture, adds also to its grandeur and simplicity. This must be acknowledged to be above Rubens ; that is, I fear he would have renounced it had it occurred. Rubens' manner is often too artificial and picturesque for the GRAND STYLE. Titian knew very well that so much formality or regularity as to give the appearance of being above all the tricks of art, which we call picturesque, is of itself grandeur.

There is a quiet dignity in the composition of Titian, and an animation and bustle in that of Rubens; one is splendid, the other is grand and majestic. These two pictures may be considered among the best works of those great painters, and each characterises its respective author. They may therefore be properly opposed to each other, and compared together. I confess I was so overpowered with the brilliancy of this picture of Rubens, whilst I was before it, and under its fascinating influence, that I thought I had never before seen so great powers exerted in the art. It was not till I was removed from its influence, that I could acknowledge any inferiority in Rubens to any other painter whatever.

The composition of Titian is of that kind which leaves the middle space void, and the figures are ranged around it. In this space is the white linen that covers the altar; and it is for the sake of this white linen, I apprehend, that he has made an altar instead of a pedestal, in order to make the linen the principal light, which is about the middle of the picture. The second light is the Virgin, and Christ, and the heads of the figures.

The principal light in the lower part of Rubens' picture, is the body of St. Sebastian : that of the upper part is the light in the sky; in this point there is no apparent superiority on either side.

Of both these pictures there are prints; of Titian's

« ForrigeFortsett »