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and share parts of the pression of the dus Eynho
picture the print is by Lefebre, and the Rubens is engraved by Snyers, and by Remoldus Eynhovedts : in the first impression of that of Snyers, there are parts of the Virgin, and St. Catharine, and the lap of St. Augustin, which are unfinished.
One is so much used to anachronisms in church pictures, that it ceases to be an object of criticism. From the frequency of seeing pictures peopled with men who lived in different ages, this impropriety may babitually become less offensive; introducing, however, St. John the Baptist, as an elderly man, in the same picture where Christ is still an infant, though it may be said to be a crime of less magnitude, not being so violent a breach of chronology, yet appears to the spectator even more unpardonable, perhaps from his being so often used to see them represented together as children. · The altar on the left hand; St. Augustin in ecstacy, by Vandyck. This picture is of great fame, but in some measure disappointed my expectations ; at least on just parting from the Rubens, the manner appeared hard and dry. The colouring is of a reddish kind, especially in the shadows, without transparency. The colours must have suffered some change, and are not now as Vandyck left them. This same defect of the red shadows I have observed in many of his pictures. The head of an elderly woman, said to be the saint's mother, is finely drawn, and is the best part of the picture; and the angel sitting on a cloud is the best of that group. The boy with the sceptre is hard, and has no union with the blue sky.
This picture has no effect, from the want of a large mass of light; the two angels make two small masses of equal magnitude. · The St. Augustin is drest in black, though in the print of P. de Jode (according to the usual liberty of these engravers after Rubens and Vandyck), it makes the principal light; and a light is thrown on the other figures in the print, which are quite dark in the picture.
An altar in the right aisle; the Martyrdom of St. Apollonius, by J. Jordaens. There is nothing much to be admired in this picture, except the grey horse foreshortened, biting his knee, which is indeed admirable. Jordaens' horses are little inferior to those of Rubens. . On the sides of the church are hung many pictures of the inferior painters of the Flemish school; the best are, two of J. Jordaens; the Last Supper, in which are some excellent heads in the manner of Rubens; and Christ praying in the garden ; but the angels here are truly Flemish. There is likewise a Crucifixion by Backereel, which has some merit. ; . . In the sacristy is a small crucifix by Vandyck, well drawn; especially the head, which is a fine character.
RECOLLETS. The altar of the choir is the famous Crucifixion of Christ between the two Thieves, by Rubens. To give animation to this subject, he has chosen the point of time when an executioner is piercing the side of Christ, whilst another with a bar of iron is breaking the limbs of one of the malefactors, who in his convulsive agony, which his body admirably expresses, has torn one of his feet from the tree to which it was nailed. The expression in the action of this figure is wonderful : the attitude of the other is more composed; and he looks at the dying Christ with a countenance perfectly expressive of his penitence. This figure is likewise admirable. The Virgin, St. John, and Mary, the wife of Cleophas, are standing by with great expression of grief and resignation, whilst the Magdalen, who is at the feet of Christ, and may be supposed to have been kissing his feet, looks at the horseman with the spear, with a countenance of great horror : as the expression carries with it no grimace or contortion of the features, the beauty is not destroyed. This is by far the most beautiful profile I ever saw of Rubens, or, I think of any other painter ; the excellence of its colouring is beyond expression. To say that she may be supposed to have been kissing Christ's feet, may be thought too refined a criticism ; but Rubens certainly intended to convey that idea,
as appears by the disposition of her hands; for they are stretched out towards the executioner, and one of them is before and the other behind the Cross ; which gives an idea of her hands having been round it; and it must be remembered, that she is generally represented kissing the feet of Christ ; it is her place and employment in those subjects. The good centurion ought not to be forgotten, who is leaning forward, one hand on the other, resting on the mane of his horse, while he looks up to Christ with great earnestness.
The genius of Rubens no where appears to more advantage than here: it is the most carefully finished picture of all his works. The whole is conducted with the most consummate art; the composition is bold and uncommon, with circumstances which no other painter had ever before thought of; such as the breaking of the limbs, and the expression of the Magdalen, to which we may add the disposition of the three crosses, which are placed prospectively in an uncommon picturesque manner : the nearest bears the thief whose limbs are breaking ; the next the Christ, whose figure is straiter than ordinary, as a contrast to the others; and the furthermost, the penitent thief: this produces a most picturesque effect, but it is what few but such a daring genius as Rubens would have attempted. It is here, and in such compositions, we properly see Rubens, and not in little pictures of Madonnas and Bambinos. It appears that Rubens made some changes in this picture, after Bolswert had engraved his print from it. The horseman who is in the act of piercing the side of Christ, holds the spear, according to the print, in a very tame manner, with the back of the hand over the spear, grasping it with only three fingers, the fore-finger straight, lying on the spear; whereas in the picture, the back of the hand comes under the spear, and he grasps it with his whole force.
The other defect, which is remedied in the picture, is the action of the executioner, who breaks the legs of the criminal; in the print both his hands are over the bar of iron, which makes a false action : in the picture the whole disposition is altered to the natural manner in which every person holds a weapon, which requires both hands; the right is placed over, and the left under it. · This print was undoubtedly done under the inspection of Rubens himself. It may be worth observing, that the keeping of the masses of light in the print differs much from the picture: this change is not from inattention, but design : à different conduct is required in a composition with colours, from what ought to be followed when it is in black and white only. We have here the authority of this great master of light and shadow, that a print requires more and larger masses of light than a picture.
In this picture the principal and the strongest