SALA DE PINTURA
PAINTING HALL

 

ROGER VAN DER WEYDEN.

 

Or the two schools into which Flemish art was divided in the first half of the 15th century, that which claimed and held preeminence was founded by the Van Eycks, but that which exercised paramount influence on the later painters of Germany and the Netherlands was headed by Roger Van der Weyden.

Whilst every sign guides us to the Eastern border of Belgium as the cradle of the Van Eycks, there is evidence that Van der Weyden took the first lessons of his craft in the West of Flanders; and we thus have to acknowledge the existence of two currents of pictorial teaching, one of which took its rise in the valley of the Maes, the other in the valley of the Schelde.

Roger, the son of Henri Van der Weyden, was born in 1400 at Tournai, a city venerable for its antiquity and traditions, respected as one of the larger municipalities of Belgium, and rich in monuments of architecture.  Tournai was one of the places in which tinted sculpture was commonly produced in the 14th century; and we have seen how stone carving formed part of the decorative portion of canvases assigned to craftsmen of that city. The same peculiarity meets us in Van der Weyden, and affords one of the most remarkable instances of the power with which sculpture under certain aspects may react on painting.

It was observed long since that the form of Van der Weyden’s art, and the clearness of bloom in his pigments, pointed to a school different from that of Van Eyck; but historical testimony was so strong in favour of assuming that Roger Van der Weyden was John van Eyck's disciple that new evidence was required to enable us to demur to the old. That evidence we now possess, and it allows us to state that Roger Van der Weyden was not only born but bred at Tournai; that he was apprenticed to a local and otherwise unknown master, called Robert Campin, in 1426, and made free of his guild in 1432. That he very speedily rose in public consideration after this is proved by the fact that, in 1436, he was painter in ordinary to the city of Brussels.

We shall observe, after scanning the whole of the works of Van der Weyden, that they realize an order of religious thought differing somewhat from that of the Van Eycks. The Van Eycks illustrate the splendour of the church militant, or they fondly depict the placid joys of the Virgin, the smiles of the Infant Christ, and the serene pensiveness of saints; Van der Weyden likes to dwell on the gloomy aspects of sacred history; he prefers the pages in which we read of the agony and pains of the Saviour and the Martyrs.

In Van der Weyden's mind gorgeous beauties of colour have no charm. He may have felt the vibrations of true harmonies; he may have known the technical value of contrasts, but he had no feeling for the richness of tints or the glow of warmly lighted scenes; he must have seen the brilliant pictures of the Van Eycks, yet looked upon them as exotics worthy of admiration rather than imitation. The sun for him seems never to have shone, but in early hours; for the clear morning light under which he presents all objects is the twilight before sunrise; alight which, with impartial kindness, illumines the innermost recesses of an apartment, the still current of a river, the crags on its banks, the towers on its slopes, or the distant snow mountains on its horizon; he had a solid aversion to broad contrasts of chiaroscuro.

Whilst he eschewed effect as a means of producing pictorial illusion, he carried minuteness and finish to such a point that his pictures bear the closest inspection; he sacrificed almost every thing to perfection of detail; he may at times have given life and expression to a face exceptionally noble in type and features, he may occasionally have caught an attitude or gesture; habitually he fell into the convenient faults of gaze, rigidity and moroseness. It may be doubted whether he ever appreciated the value of a smile, for he never gave to his Virgins or saints any thing more than soft and solemn gravity; large eyes are emblematic of deep thought; broad protuberances of forehead, and an extraordinary development of head, are typical of intellect and superhuman power; convulsed features represent grief; attenuated frames, long suffering; and a portly person, the fit enjoyment of the good things of this world.

 

 

 

At rare intervals Van der Weyden succeeded in designing draperies free from excessive angularity, but in general he fell into the common failing of all Flemish painters and delighted in mazes of broken folds, the formality of which generally added to the disagreeable effect of figures already marked by a certain fixity of attitude. In the rendering of nude he was careful, but not invariably perfect; it is not rare to find parts of the same figure well and ably wrought, others the reverse; or to be repelled by clumsy and ill drawn feet and hands. Van der Weyden had a fair knowledge of anatomy and a correct appreciation of form, without the taste to idealize it ; those who have seen the graceful Infants of Italian painters will hardly bear with the coarse stiff doll which generally satisfied their Flemish contemporary.

The uniform lightness which marks Van der Weyden's panels suggests a long habit of painting in tempera. The pains which he took to model flesh with delicacy are highly commendable; his colours though pale, are invariably blended to a nicety, which is the more remarkable as they are of substantial impast. Nothing is more curious than the contrast between the soft fused flesh tones and the patience with which hair and beard are worked out; conscientiousness of detail is carried so far that the most distant and the nearest portions of a landscape are finished with equal minuteness, producing a total absence of atmosphere. A strange peculiarity marks the foregrounds; the figures are made to rest on a barren rocky surface, in the interstices of which a hardy plant at times crops out, the leaves and stems of which are painted with exaggerated care.

In his early days, perhaps, a tinter of stone, Van der Weyden was partial to architectural ornaments, on which he lavished time and trouble without imparting to them that warmth of glow and perfection of relief which are so conspicuous in John Van Eyck. In the art of linear perspective he was almost totally deficient.

 

 

 

Chary of ornament, he never overlaid draperies with embroidery and precious stones, but faithful to the system of reproducing what he saw, he accurately copied the monstrosities of costume which prevailed in his time. It was during his life that singularity of dress was carried to its most extravagant height. Fops wore shoes so pointed that the extremities were tied to the legs for fear they should trip up the wearer; sumptuary laws regulated the dress of people in different classes, and the noble was habitually distinguished by silk and gold apparel; men could not walk in the streets without wooden pattens.

It was one of the objects of the puritan party at Brussels, in Van der Weyden's time, to reform the absurdities of costume so common in the 15th century; but the failure of its efforts might be deduced from the fact that, when Van der Weyden depicted the Kings of the East making offerings to the Saviour, he found no dress more characteristic than that of the noblemen of his day.

It is a fair subject of inquiry how it happened that Van der Weyden rose to the high position which he undoubtedly occupied in the esteem of his contemporaries and successors. The answer will be that it was because he appealed to a feeling in the human breast which generally breeds sympathy, and that he delighted to depict subjects in which the sentiment of the masses was naturally enlisted. He was more indebted for the honour he received to the peculiar religious subjects which he chose, than to the perfection of his painting; and it is matter for serious thought that an artist who did not approach to the excellence of the Van Eycks should have been more extensivelv knon and have exercised a greater influence than any other master of the Netherlands, that Germany should owe to him some of the elements which combined to produce the talents of Schön and Dürer, that Bruges should owe to him its Memling and Louvain its Dierick Bouts, that the school of Cologne should have derived from him a new character; and that the mixture of the three should have found its incarnation in Quintin Massys, the only original artist of Antwerp in the 16th century.

If we give credit to a passage in a Chronicle of the Carthusians of Enghien, Roger Van der Weyden was a married man before he was an apprentice; and we may suppose that he gave up some earlier profession for that in which he finally became famous.

that Corneille van der Weyden was born before 1435; Mr. A. Pinehart having found several records of that date at Tournai in which mention is made of Roger, his wife Elizabeth Goffaerts and his children Corneille and Marguerite. Two more children, Pierre and Jean, were born in the next following three years.

In 1436 the municipality of Brussels came to a public decision which materially helps to settle the chronology of his life; it was recorded in a public ordinance of the 2d of May "that after the death of Master Roger the office of town painter should be suppressed." This leads us to the necessary conclusion that after Van der Weyden took the freedom of his guild at Tournai in 1432, he wandered to Brussels where, previous to 1436 he was made a citizen, and appointed painter to the city. Certain sumptuary privileges, we are now aware, were connected with this office. As town painter Van der Weyden was furnished with cloth of a certain fineness, and allowed to hang his cloak on the right shoulder; his dignity was below that of a surgeon; his perquisites were higher than those of an architect.

At some period not exactly to be traced Van der Weyden was called upon to paint for the town hall of Brussels four canvases celebrated in the pages of the oldest stories of travel; described by Sweert in the Monumenta, by Calvete de Estrella in the "Happy Journey of King Philip," noticed by Dürer in his visit to the Netherlands, lost in the bombardment of Brussels in 1695, but fortunately reproduced in the arras which still adorns the cathedral of Berne. On one canvas Trajan was depicted delivering one of his captains to the executioner at the prayer of a widow who charged the captain with killing her only son; a second showed Gregory the Great on his knees before the altar of St. Peter, it also represented him receiving the head of Trajan with its tongue in perfect preservation; a third displayed the Judge Herkenbald decapitating his nephew who had ravished a maiden's honour; a fourth the miraculous descent of the holy wafer into Herkenbald's mouth after a bishop had refused him the sacraments.

 

During the years immediately preceding the appointment of Van der Weyden, great changes had taken place in the administration of the municipality of Brussels. A party of puritans had come into office; and if was apparently desirable to symbolize some of the virtues for which the leaders strove by pictorial representation. Enactments in this sense had previously been made. Justice was no longer to be contaminated by the sale of verdicts. Religious communities were to be reformed; and to this end numerous edicts were issued against gambling and adultery. Singing was forbidden in houses and streets, and married men living in concubinage were rendered liable to lose what offices they might then hold, and be for ever excluded from employment and the prerogatives of the city.

That Van der Weyden, before he came to Brussels, should have painted altar-pieces and panels is natural to suppose; that his leisure time at Brussels was devoted to similar occupations is more than probable.

The first pictures of which we have cause to know the approximate date, are those which make up a triptych in the Museum of Berlin representing the nativity, the dead Saviour, and Christ appearing to Mary after the Resurrection. They were given to the Carthusians of Miraflores by John the IId king of Spain in 1445, and are described in the books of the monastery as painted "by the great and famous Fleming Magistro Rogel.'' The chief panel of this remarkable triptych displays one of those scenes of mournful interest in the composition of which Van der Weyden seems to have followed the bent of a natural inclination. The stiff attitude of the figures, the rigid character of the outhnes, and the angular appearance of the draperies reveal undeveloped power; the laborious minuteness of architectural ornaments in the Gothic arches which surround each scene proves that the earliest quality of Van der Weyden was conscientious detail, whilst tinting given to the ornaments themselves, and the presence of angels dyed in pink and blue might betray his early occupation as a colourist of stone, and almost suggest that in his youth he painted miniatures. The central panel is what Van der Weyden's contemporaries called "ung Dieu de pitié"; it is a melancholy representation of the Saviour removed in a lifeless and emaciated state from the cross, and lying at full length in the arms of the Virgin, who leans over him in tears and overwhelmed with grief. Joseph of Arimathea and St. John Evangelist stand by in attitudes, and with expressions, of mournful sympathy; a violet coloured angel floats in air amongst the confused mazes of parti-coloured ornament with which the Gothic arch above the scene is overladen; a landscape is seen in the distance, as sunless and melancholy as the principal figures. The body of the Saviour is livid and stiff; on the face may be traced all the agonies inflicted successively by pain, exposure, and starvation. It is the semblance of a dead man, and in no sense divine, yet we can to a certain extent conceive how such a representation might excite the pity of the uneducated. The horizon of the figures and that of the landscape are different, the latter being represented on a level with the plane, on which the painter stands, and the landscape seen from an eminence; nor is there atmosphere to supply the place of linear perspective.


This altar-piece is said, we know not on what authority, to have been presented by Martin the Vth to kin Juan the IId of Spain. The triptych, No. 17, called Memling, in the collection of William
the IId of Holland, was taken from Miraflores by general d'Armagnac. It was sold to the Berlin Museum for 6000 florins; it has been injured by restoring.

In the side panel to the left, Joseph is represented asleep on a seat, whilst the Virgin sits in front of a dais of gold brocade, and holds in her lap a large-headed Infant Saviour; the Virgin wears a very light blue dress; through the Gothic arch above her, a blue angel hovers in air.

The side panel to the right shows us the Saviour appearing to Mary, and the Resurrection; through the archivolt a blue angel flies. The character of the scenes depicted in the two side panels is similar to that of the central one; the niches of the arches are filled with statues of saints and incidents from the life of the Virgin Mary.

Early as the date of this triptych seems to be when compared with others executed during a long course of years by Van der Weyden, it is by no means a solitary example of its kind; and we must attribute to the same period and probably to the same year the two replicas of an oratory representing scenes from the life of the Baptist in the Museums of Berlin and Frankfort. In both we observe a melancholy calm, and a serene clearness of atmosphere very like those which mark the altar-piece of Miraflores. In both, form and perspective are faulty; and the subjects are set in pointed arches adorned with statuettes.

 

 

Van der Weyden at this time kept a regular atelier for painters' work of all kinds at Brussels. In 1439, Philip the Good ordered a piece of carved work for the church of the Récollets, at Brussels, representing the Virgin and two princesses of Brabant, Mary, wife of John III, and her daughter, Mary, Duchess of Guelders. Roger Van der Weyden was ordered to colour these sculptures, and charged for doing so the sum of forty ridders of fifty gros of Flanders. For the additional sum of six livres, he painted the arms of the Duke Philip and the Duchess on the wooden doors, or wings, which protected the sculptures.

On the walls of the Chapel of St. Agatha in St. Pierre of Louvain there hangs a triptych representing a descent from the cross on gold ground. Simon of Cyrene stands on a ladder leaning on the cross, and, with the help of Joseph of Arimathea, who grasps the frame under the armpits and Nicodemus who supports the legs, lowers the body of Christ to the ground. To the left St. Mary Magdalen wrings her hands, to the right, the Virgin faints into the arms of the Marys; two or three other figures complete the composition. The left wing contains the portraits of the donor, and his two sons recommended by St. James, the right, portraits of the patroness with two daughters and St. Elizabeth; the coats of arms in the upper part of the wings are those of the family of Edelheer, and tell us that the patrons are Jacques and Elizabeth Edelheer and their children. On the outer sides of the wings are the Trinity and the Virgin supported by St. John; and beneath the second of these subjects is the following inscription recently recovered from superposed paint:

"This picture was presented by Willem Edelheer and Alyt his wife in 1443."

On the testimony of this inscription it has been assumed that the altar-piece was painted in or before the year 1443, and the name of the painter has been sought in the following passages from Molanus's Ms. History of Louvain.

"Wilhelm Edelheer, Aleida his wife, and Wilhelmus their son, founded in 1443, at the altar of the Holy Spirit, the chapel of St. James the elder . . . Wilhelmus Edelheer, first rector of the chapel, by will dated 1473, founded a second chapel. Master Roger, citizen, and painter of Louvain, painted the Edelheer altar at St. Pierre of Louvain." In other words:

The Edelheer chapel was founded by Willem Edelheer in 1443; Roger Van der Weyden painted in the Edelheer chapel; a picture exists in St. Pierre of Louvain; ergo the altar-piece now in St. Pierre is by Roger Van der Weyden. Nothing can be more fallacious. There is little in this triptych to carry us back to the middle of the 15th century, much on the contrary to betray the hand of a feeble artist of the close of that century, whose want of skill and feeling is shown in dull immobility of masks, in the gaze of staring eyes, in hard and wiry contour, in harsh and dusky colour, and shadeless modelling. The altar-piece purports to have been presented by Willem and Alyt Edelheer in 1443, yet it contains the likenesses of James and Elizabeth Edelheer, the first of whom died in 1479, and the second in 1487. We cannot doubt for a moment that the inscription has been misread or tampered with; and it is equally certain that the picture is a comparatively modern adaptation of one by Roger Van der Weyden, which was frequently repeated.


 

We are informed by almost contemporary chroniclers that at some period of his life Van der Weyden thought it worth while to purchase the freedom of the city of Louvain, and paint pictures there. Two altar-pieces are specially mentioned; one adorning the Edelheer altar in the church of St. Pierre, which if it be the same that is now shown is not original, another in Notre Dame hors les murs, which was bought and sent to Spain by Mary of Hungary. It is related of the second of these pieces which represented the Descent from the Cross that, after it had been copied by Coxie, it was stowed on board of a ship which foundered at sea, and was saved after it had floated ashore. This descent of the Cross was, of all Van der Weyden's com- positions that which met with most favour, and was most frequently imitated; it may indeed have been repeated more than once in the master's own atelier. Of all the replicas which are known at present to exist one is strongly impressed with the stamp of originality and hangs in the Museum of Madrid. The body of the Saviour is being let down from the cross by Simon of Cyrene, into the arms of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea; Mary Magdalen looks on and wrings her hands with the wildest signs of grief; Van der Weyden here exhibiting his peculiarity of exaggerating pain and joy by unnatural action; near her is St. Peter, the Virgin swooning at his feet, and the third Mary, with other saints, close by. The figures of nature's size, exhibit in a proportionate degree Van der Weyden's tendency to hard outline, lean form, and lack of dignified feeling; the Saviour's head is fine, but the group of Mary swooning and the figures round her are the chief attraction, — the blooming flesh tints and harmonious colour contrasting with the livid hues of the crucified body. One of the replicas is in the Escurial, under the name of Albert Dürer, but painted by one of Roger's pupils, grey in tone and harder of line than the original. Another in the Santa Trinita Museum of Madrid, by a stranger to the Flemish school, lacks all grace or charm of colour, and is heavy, dark, and red. A fourth in the Berlin Museum has suffered much from cleaning and restoring, but is an old copy. A triptych, the central portion of which exhibits features not dissimilar from those of the Descent from the Cross of Berlin — such as the composition, grouping, and attitude of the figures — is in the Liverpool Gallery. A sixth, diminutive in size, is still, as we have seen, in the cathedral of Louvain. For half a century the subject was repeated in all the schools of Germany and Holland; and taste, as usual, becoming slave to fashion, the groups were reproduced and changed ad infinitum. A curious instance of exaggerated imitation is the triptych in the Cologne Museum, dated 1480, attributed by some to Israel van Meckenen, and by others to Albert van Ouwater, but really by an artist of the Rhenish school who shows that he had the trick of Flemish colour, but not the skill of Van der Weyden.

The largest and most important commission which Van der Weyden executed before 1450, is that entrusted to him by Rollin, Chancellor of the Duchy of Burgundy, whose likeness we saw so beautifully painted by John Van Eyck for a church at Autun. Rollin had obtained a bull from Eugenius the IVth to build a hospital at Beaune. The first stone of this edifice was laid in 1443; and it is probable on several grounds that the picture was finished in 1447. Grandelot's history of Beaune relates that the bull of Eugenius which authorized the erection of the building under the invocation of St. Anthony was quashed by a bull of Nicholas the Vth (1447-55), who ordered it to be consecrated under the invocation of the Baptist.

The presence of Eugenius the IVth and St. Anthony in the picture may be accepted as proving that it was finished before the accession of Nicholas the Vth. As at Saint Bavon so at Beaune the subject is spread over nine panels, six of which cover the three central ones. In the centre of the highest panel Christ sits on a rainbow, with his feet on the orb and angels beneath him sounding the last trump; in two small compartments on a level with his seat are four angels carrying the emblems of the passion; lower down to the right and left, the apostles, headed by the Virgin and Baptist with Philip the Good, Eugenius the IVth, Jean Rollin, bishop of Autun, and Isabella of Portugal, and beneath them the figures of the accursed and blest rising from their graves, parted from each other by St. Michael, who weighs their souls in a balance; in the extremes are the gates of Paradise and the abode of Satan.

The composition of the central panel is the most faulty portion of the picture, the glory and the foreground being crowded together, instead of being properly parted; but the distribution of the saints in glory is extremely good; the lines are agreeable and in perspective, the figures well grouped together, and animated in motion. The choice of expression in the various faces of the saints shows a good perception and command of character. St. Peter is grand and energetic, the Madonna full of affectionate and motherly feeling; and St. John, with those accompanying him, is amongst the finest of the school, the attitudes being far more bold than are usually found in Flemish creations.

The harmony of the colours of the vestments is vigorous and true; and the folds are not so angular as in other pictures of the master. Although the form of Christ is not excellent, it recalls most forcibly to mind the representations of the same subject by John Van Eyck.

On the outer wings are represented the donors and the guardian saints of the building in monochrome; St. Sebastian, long and thin, exaggerated in motion, as usual with Van der Weyden, but executed with the utmost care and diligence; St. Anthony, with his bell and pig, one of the noblest creations of the Flemish school. The portraits of Rollin and his wife are splendid studies of reality, without flattery or idealism. But, in comparing Rollin at Beaune with Rollin in the Louvre, the energetic financier of John Van Eyck's picture seems much older, and less grand in attitude. The comparison also serves to show the difference which existed between the modes of colouring used by the two painters.


 

At the period when this picture was completed we may presume that Van der Weyden also finished for a member of the Flemish family of Bracque a triptych with half lengths now belonging to the Marquis of Westminster. Surrounded by an old oaken frame, and covered with ancient scriptural inscriptions, it seems to have been a votive picture destined to adorn a se- pulchral monument. The outer surface of the triptych contains a wooden cross; above the cross is a scutcheon and the motto, "Bracque et Brabant". A large skull is also represented, with the epitaph of the person commemorated. This epitaph, to the following etiect, reminds us of that of Hubert Van Eyck. It is written in French: —

"Mirez vous ci orgueilleux et avers

Mon corps fu beaux ore est viande a . . ."

The rest of the words, probably "aux vers," are obliterated by time.

The funereal and solemn tenor of these inscriptions is reflected in the picture itself. In the centre of the triptych, surrounded by a halo, merging from red into yellow, the Saviour holds a brazen ball and cross, emblematic of universal rule; the Virgin, with hands joined in prayer, looks towards him on the left, and the Evangelist, holding the chalice, contemplates him on the right. On the wing, near the Evangelist, is Mary Magdalen; on that near the Virgin is St. John the Baptist. The Saviour, in a dark-brown habit, holds up his right hand, and extends his two fingers in the act of blessing. Long hair, parted in the centre, falls upon his shoulders, encircling, with a small and double-pointed beard, a dark-toned face, full of heavy muscular developments, broad overhanging cheeks, eyes so immovable as to impart an air of ferocity to the countenance, and a heavy underlip with drooping corners; the shadows of this unpleasant type of divine solemnity are oppressively dark and sad. The Virgin, on the other hand, is full of soft and benign expression; a drapery of white surrounds her face, which is modelled with copious colour, nicely blended, of a pale-white tone. St. John the Evangelist contrasts with the Virgin by vigorous colour and transparence; the face is soft, and beams with a calm sentiment of resignation. St. John the Baptist is less ably depicted, austere, not noble; through the half-closed lips the teeth appear, and this trivial detail helps to mar the face. The Magdalen in tears is the most graceful figure in the whole composition; the head is covered with a white turban, from which a delicate veil depends, passing under the chin and leaving the neck exposed; a low, grey dress, tightly laced in front, exhibits all the forms, and is scantily covered by a blue drapery. In the Magdalen's hand is the cup of ointment. Grreat harmony and modelling may be noticed in the flesh tints, which are delicately outlined; the hand holding the ointment is well proportioned, and contrasts favourably with those of all the other figures, which are thin, ill-jointed, and ill-designed. It is characteristic, indeed, that in parts, such as the extremities, a feeble knowledge of anatomy is shown; whilst in others, as in the neck and bosom of the Magdalen and the throat of the Evangelist, considerable attainment in the same study is remarkable. The general aspect of the draperies is broader and less angular than that of Van der Weyden generally; they are painted with a breadth and profusion of colour which mark them as a late production of the master's hand; nor can we fail to notice that, in the execution of a varied landscape background. Van der Weyden has been more than usually successful. Behind the Baptist, Jerusalem forms a landscape marked by some aerial perspective, enhanced and strengthened in effect by the lines of the meandering Jordan. The light upon these landscapes is that of early morning, the twilight casting its white colour on distant snow mountains, not unlike those in Van Eyck's picture at the Louvre.

 


TRIPTICO DE LA FAMILIA BRAQUE

 

This votive altar-piece is like that of Beaune in its style and mode of execution, the Saviour in both having much the same character. St. John the Baptist also possesses similar features of resemblance. The figure of the Magdalen is the original of more than one of Memling's sentimental female saints, the feature of the altar-piece being particularly this, that the female figures surpass the male in a marked manner. Nothing, indeed, is more striking than the execution and preservation of the Magdalen; in some of the male faces and hands the shadows of the flesh tints have partially suffered from over-painting; but, with these exceptions, the panel is in excellent preservation. In the catalogue of the Grosvenor Gallery this altar-piece is attributed to Memling; but characteristic points show that it was painted by Van der Weyden, who had less feeling and grace, and less parsimony of colour than his pupil.

 

One of Van der Weyden's lost pieces — a gift, in 1446, to the Carmelites of Brussels, represented the Donor and his family kneeling before the Virgin and the Infant Saviour, above whom two angels soared, supporting a crown of stars; on the wings at one side were monks; on the wings at the other side a knight of the order of the Golden Fleece with his family. This triptych was damaged by Calvinists in 1581, and restored in 1593; it has since perished.

Another picture of Mary embracing the Saviour was probably painted at this time, as well as the "Martyrdom of the Philosophers converted by St. Catherine," executed for the convent of Groenendael.

Van der Weyden had long been married to Elizabeth Goffaerts, a lady of his own station. He was independent in means, having money at interest in the "domaine de Brabant" and in Tournai; Cornelius, one of his sons, was studying at the College of Porc in Louvain; his daughter Margaret, born at Tournai in 1432, was marriageable; Peter, his second boy, born at Brussels in 1437, had elected to learn the paternal trade; Jean, the third, born at Brussels in 1438, was apprenticed to a goldsmith. A dwelling in the Rue de I'Empereur, with part of a tenement at a comer of the Montague de la Cour at Brussels, was the place of usual residence for the whole family. Every record and every historical fact seems to point to a constant residence at Brussels; and yet there is ground for assuming that at some period between 1440 and 1450, Van der Weyden occasionally lived at Bruges. Cyriacus of Ancona calls him Roger of Bruges, Van Mander and Vaernewyk tell how Roger of Bruges painted cloths; they speak of numerous works in churches and houses. Dürer alludes to "Rüdiger's painted Chapel'' in the Kaisershaus, and his "costly" pictures in Sanct Jacob of Bruges, and when the agents of the Duke of Ferrara pay Van der Weyden for work that he has done, he is called "M°. Ruziero depintore in Bruza." It may be that the cloths of which these accounts are given, or a triptych which Durer called "a chapel," were portable works taken from Brussels to Bruges, that Bruges being better known than Brussels, was the place upon which the Ferrarese agents were ordered to negotiate their payments; it may have been from Bruges that Van der Weyden started on the journey which he made, in 1449, to Ferrara and Rome.

The constant communications between Italy and Flanders by Lombard and Belgian traders had made the Italians well acquainted with the advance of art in Belgium. Pictures by John Van Eyck had been sent to Sicily. An altar-piece by Van der Goes had been taken to Florence; and the names of Flemish painters were mentioned with respect at least by Neapolitans; but this acquaintance was not at first mutual; for few Italian paintings had found their way into Belgium. A few years, however, after the death of John Van Eyck a circumstance occurred which might well contribute to make the painters of the two countries curious of each other. Antonello da Messina came to Flanders, learned the uses of oil medium, and carried back to Italy the practical results of his experience. The new improvements were calculated to excite, they actually did, as we have seen, excite inquiry in Italy, and Van der Weyden very probably thought that there was at least experience to be gained by visiting the Peninsula.

Ferrara, to which we first trace him, was the seat of a court in which literature and art were cultivated with much assiduity; a city of artificial growth favoured by a constant immigration of foreigners, Italian and Transalpine. From the earliest years of the century to a period subsequent to Van der Weyden's visit, it was the habit of the Marquises of Este to employ artists of distant schools. Side by side there might be seen in the same edifices, Henry of Brabant and Baroncelli of Florence, sculptors whose carved work was illuminated by Michael the Hungarian. The fashionable goldsmith was Simone de "la Magna"; and Zanin "de Franza" designed embroidery for ecclesiastical dresses. — Vittor Pisano took to Ferrara the complex style of an Umbrian modified by contact with the Veronese, and Piero della Francesca was preparing to introduce the choicer elements of Umbro-Tuscan art. Angelo di Pietro of Sienna, who, strangely enough, earned the name of "Parrasio," doubtless carried thither the antiquated manner of his countrymen; and Bono Ferrarese imported that which he had learnt at Padua. Conspicuous amongst local craftsmen, Galasso Galassi scarcely rose above the rugged and repulsive grinmess of the 14th century; whilst Tura and Cossa were striving to perpetuate the stern but unpleasant realism of the Mantegnesques. It is easy to conceive that Van der Weyden, when transplanted to such a soil, would be received with favour. The tendency of Ferrarese artists such as Bono, Galasso, Tura and Cossa was to favour pictorial forms essentially related to those which were accepted as perfect beyond the Alps. The Squarcionesque type was more coarsely realistic, the Squarcionesque mask was plainer than that of the Flemish naturalists. As Van der Weyden, early in 1449, finished a triptych representing the Descent from the Cross, the Expulsion, and a portrait of Lionel d'Este, Bono and Angelo of Sienna were engaged in the country seats of Migliaro and Belfiore, Galasso was about to decorate the palace of Belriguardo, and Tura was on the eve of entering, if he had not actually entered, the service of the Mar- quis. It is said by Cyriacus, that Angelo of Sienna became an imitator of Van der Weyden, but we observe the same tendency in all the Ferrarese of the time, who might have done better than adopt the dryness of the chief of the Tournaisian school. That Van der Weyden, in the spring of 1449, made personal acquaintance with the Ferrarese artists whom we have mentioned, hardly admits of a doubt when we observe that the payments made to him in the name of Lionel at Ferrara, and later in that of Borso at Bruges, passed through the hands of Filippo "de li Ambruoxi,'' who was Tura's assistant. What became of the triptych at Ferrara was never discovered; but we may perhaps consider as part of it the beautiful panel at the Uffizi which so completely answers to Cyriaco's description. It is a small piece, in which we see the body of the Saviour supported by Joseph of Arimathea, the Virgin to the left holding his right, St. John to the right grasping his left arm; Mary Magdalen kneeling in front and grieving. The scene is laid in an open meadow, with Calvary in the distance, and a landscape full of figures. The composition is well ordered, and the Saviour is one of the most successful that the master ever painted; the colour of full body, clear, and well preserved, and some of the heads admirable in their realism.

 

 

Was it Van der Weyden's fortune to visit Milan before he came to Ferrara, or did his fame reach the Sforzas through the Estes? There is a picture in the Zambeccari collection at Bologna, which points to some connection between Van der Weyden and the Milanese court at a period subsequent to the painters travels in Italy.

It represents the Saviour crucified and bewailed by the Virgin and St. John Evangelist. Two kneeling figures face each other in the foreground. The first, a man in armour, supposed, from the shield and helm near him, and from a certain likeness between this and other portraits, to be Francesco Maria Sforza Duke of Milan, the second a female believed to be Bianca Visconti. A page to the left of the latter, is taken to be the son of Francesco and Bianca Galeazzo Maria Sforza; the page seems 15, Francesco 58, years of age. The style and execution of the panel are those of Roger Van der Weyden; the head of Sforza has been rubbed down and retouched. The wings of the altar-piece represent landscapes (with, to the left), St. Francis and another saint, and above them the adoration of the Saviour; — (to the right), St. Catherine and St. Barbara, and above them St. John the Baptist; the upper scenes of the wings are in the manner of Memling. On the outer side of the wings, in dead colour, is St. Michael on horseback, to the right, killing the dragon; St. Jerom to the left extracting the thorn from the lion's paw; in the distance an altar with the Saviour on the Cross. These two panels are very fine, well relieved, and in the style of Memling.

Of what effect was Van der Weyden's visit on the technical treatment of panel pictures in this part of Italy? The existence of a new medium in Flanders must have been made known to an increasing number of craftsmen ; and it is not beyond the range of probability that Van der Weyden's receipts may subsequently have become familiar to Piero della Francesca as they must have become familiar to Galasso, Tura, and Cossa; but the Flemish style, as displayed in the masterpieces of the Netherlands, was certainly treated by Italians with general coldness, and this for reasons stated at a later period by Michael Angelo, who thought too much attention was expended on tints, green fields, trees, rivers, bridges, and landscapes filled with many scattered figures, and who considered that Flemish painting had no art, no symmetry, no proportions, no selection, and no grandeur.


THE SFORZA TRYPTIC

 

 

From Ferrara Van der Weyden proceeded to Rome, hardly, we should think, avoiding Florence which lay temptingly in his way. There we may conceive the staid and puritanical Fleming gravely admiring the masterpieces of Florentine art, from the time of Giotto to that of Beato Angelico, wandering into the Chapel of the Brancacci, scanning with eagerness the classic figures of Masaccio, and unconsciously following the footsteps which Raphael, Michael Angelo, and Leonardo were afterwards known so frequently to tread. The Garden of the Medici was not then in its splendour, but Cosmo had long been known for his magnificence and generosity, chiefly to the Dominicans and their favoured painter Beato Angelico. The same feeling which induced him to build a room in the convent of San Marco, for the purpose of enjoying the works of the best artist of the religious and mystic school, might lead him to appreciate and to welcome a stranger imbued like Van der Weyden, with an unusual share of religious zeal. Roger was commissioned to paint a Madonna; and under the attributes of St. Cosmo and St. Damian he is said to have transferred to the picture the features of Cosmo's dearest children, Piero and Giovanni. After some vicissitudes the panel was carried away from Italy, and finally came to rest in the Staedel collection at Frankfort, but the arms of Florence in a scutcheon beneath the foreground, and the presence of Cosmo's patron saints Cosmo and Damian, conclusively prove for whom it was ordered. The Virgin stands under a dais wyth the Saviour affectionately clasped to her bosom, between St. Peter and St. John and St. Cosmo and St. Damian. There is no religious piece in the complex of the master's works which displays more tender feeling. The heads are natural and expressive without loss of austerity or dignity; the colours are laid on with stiff impast and pleasant clearness; and the draperies are cast with unusual simplicity and breadth.

THE MEDICI MADONNA

 

Amongst the great men in art at Florence in the middle of the century were Lippi and Ghiberti. Whether these representatives of the highest Italian genius met or associated with Van der Weyden is unknown. Angelico, to whom some sympathies seemed likely to bind him, had left Tuscany some years before for Rome; but even there it would appear, the two masters did not meet, and Van der Weyden was inclined to neglect rather than praise the compositions of the inspired Dominican.

Taking advantage, no doubt, of the pilgrim caravans which from all parts of Italy made their way to the Jubilee, Van der Weyden reached Rome in 1450, with the purpose of visiting and admiring the treasures of art already numerous there. He found the city restored to some sort of splendour by the efforts of Martin the Vth, Eugenius the IVth and Nicholas the Vth. He visited amongst other churches, San Griovanni Laterano, and seeing there the wall distempers of Gentile da Fabriano declared that they were the work of the best painter in Italy. It was the softness and blending of a manner akin to his own in its serenity that, we should think, attracted and pleased him. We know not how, or at what time exactly. Van der Weyden went back to the Netherlands. His pictures found their way to the furthest ends of the Peninsula; — to Naples, where Alphonzo of Arragon owned a Madonna meeting Christ on the road to Golgotha, to Genoa, where Facio saw the only genre composition of the Brussels painter, — ''women in a bath." It is characteristic that Van cler Weyden came home to his native place unchanged and immoveable in the peculiar practice which makes his productions so easy of recognition.

Foremost amongst the influential men from whom Van der Weyden had commissions on his return from Italy we should notice Pierre Bladelin, treasurer of the Golden Fleece, and Jean Robert, abbot of St. Aubert of Cambrai, both of whom were connected in different ways with the court of the Dukes of Burgundy. Of the first it is related that he rose by perseverance and honesty from the position of a simple citizen at Furnes to that of an officer of the ducal household. His marriage with Margaret van de Vage- viere, a rich heiress of Bruges, gave him an introduction to Court; and he soon passed through subordinate offices to that of director of finance and keeper of the privy purse. Disliked by the courtiers because he was economical, he preserved a stainless reputation for integrity; and so, won the favour of Philip the Good and his son Charles the Rash. With an annual income of six thousand gold pieces, which Pliilip doubled yearly as a reward for his services, Bladelin founded the little town of Middelburg in Flanders, where he subsequently contrived to settle the burnt-out coppersmiths of Dinant. The castellated mansion and the church, which were the most proinent buildings of the place, were finished as early as 1450, and the high altar of the latter was decorated with an altar-piece by Van der Weyden.

Jean Robert was both an abbot and a man of the world. He was on terms of intimate friendship with his bishop Jean de Bourgogne, who sometimes paid him a visit accompanied by Philip the Good. On these occasions the convent walls reechoed sounds which were not those of penitent prayer. The bishop and the Duke dined luxuriously at the abbot's board, and Philip boasted that he drank the abbot under the table. For the high altar of St. Aubert of Cambrai, and at the special request of Jean Robert, Van der Weyden painted an altar-piece which, it is very probably conjectured, now lies in the Museum of Madrid.

The Middelburg altar-piece was removed in comparatively recent times from its original resting place, and came at last into the Berlin Museum ; a brighter or more attractive one it had not been the painter's fortune to complete. The patron of the altar, the treasurer Bladelin, is conspicuous in the foreground of the central panel, praying with great devotion before the Infant Christ. The subject is the Adoration of the new born Saviour, a subject conceived in the feeling of the Nativity by Van der Goes at Santa Maria Nuova of Florence. The light which radiates from the Infant illumines the figures of Mary and Joseph, who kneel about the litter; whilst in the gloom of the distance the shepherds adore the Presence. Subordinate to this incident the kings of the East prostrate before a vision of the Infant in heaven, and Mary with the Child appearing to Augustus, are painted on the side panels. It would be difficult to name a picture of the time in which portrait character is more cleverly marked. We see the living form of Bladelin in the dress of his time; nothing more quaint than his black fur pelisse, black tights and pattens, except perhaps the quaint apparition of Augustus in the garb and semblance of Philip the Good. There is a wondrous disregard of proportion in the several parts of the composition; the heads are prominent and overweighted when contrasted with frame and limb. The three angels which adore the Majesty of the Babe at the Virgin's knees are diminutive as those of Nelli at Gubbio, they are mere children by the side of Bladelin; but the finish of the parts, the delicacy of the touch, and the gloss of the colours are very attractive, and a melancholy serenity dwells in the features of all the dramatis personae.

 


THE MIDDLEBURG TRYPTIC

 

The altar-piece of Cambrai was ordered at Brussels by Jean Robert in person, who entered the date and conditions of his contract in a journal kept by himself:

"On the 16th of June of the year -55, he says, I, John, abbot, bargained with Master Roger de la Pasture, the master-workman in painting at Brussels, to make a picture, five feet square, having eleven stories of such device as the work will show. These were made at various dates; and the said picture was six and a half feet high and five feet broad; which picture was finished on the day of Trinity, in the year -59, and cost in principal 80 golden pieces, of 43 sols 4 den. each, money of Cambrai, all of which was paid at divers times. And was likewise paid to his wife and workmen, when the picture was brought, two pieces of gold of 4 livres 20 den.; and it was taken by the carman, Gillot de Gonguelieu du Roquier, in the first week of June, in the year -59, on a cart with three horses."

Amongst the pictures transferred within the last few years from the interior of Spanish monasteries to the Museum of Madrid one was observed by the late Dr. Waagen to answer the description given by the abbot of St. Aubert. In this triptych, which measures about the same size as that entered in the journal at Cambrai, we find the three great episodes of gospel history embodied : in the centre, the crucifixion with the seven sacraments in the background of a Gothic church; — to the right, Adam and Eve expelled from Paradise; to the left, the Last Judgment; and in the carving of the pointed arches in which these subjects are set, six scenes from the Passion, seven days of the Creation, and seven works of charity. Dr. Waagen, who describes this altar-piece minutely, seems to have been of opinion that Van der Weyden never produced an example more remarkable than this for fitness of distribution, liveHness of incident, or truthful expression in heads.

Van der Weyden never signed nor dated any of his pictures; and it is only by their style that we distinguish his works. We are thus in doubt as to the time when the Epiphany and the Virgin sitting to St. Luke — two fine compositions in the Gallery of Munich — were executed; but these altar-pieces display much the same treatment as the Nativity of Middelburg, which is the finest production of the master, and we may assign them to the same period.

The picture of St. Luke was bought by the brothers Boisserée at Brussels, and was described as having belonged to a chapel in which the mass of the painter's guild was annually read. It was held in great venera- tion and frequently copied.

In course of years the name of the artist who painted it was forgotten, and the catalogue of the Munich Pinakothek registered it till quite recently as by John Van Eyck. St. Luke, attended by the ox, kneels on the right with a drawing board and style in his hand, and looks musingly at the Virgin, who sits enthroned under a rich dais, giving the breast to the Infant Christ. The scene is laid in an open hall through the pillars of which we see a terrace and battlements, down which a man and woman look at a garden, a city wall, a river lined on both sides with houses and turrets, and a landscape of blue hills. The wonderful minuteness of this distance, and its close resemblance to that in John Van Eyck's votive panel at the Louvre, (Rollin) are an excuse for the nomenclature so long retained by the brothers Boisserée. It is only when we turn to the study of form and treatment that we perceive the hand of Van der Weyden. We note the stiffness and strain which peculiarly distinguish the Brussels master, his oblong shape of heads, his lean and lanky frame of infants, his habitual surcharge of small and broken folds in superabundant drapery, and his hard and inflexible contour; and yet with all these faults, and injured though it be by rubbing, repainting, and modern coloured glazings — the picture is a fine one and well worthy of Van der Weyden.

MADDONNA DI LUCCA ( Lucas el Evngelista tomando notas de la Virgen)

 

 

The triptych of which the Epiphany forms the centre, was bought from the Church of St. Columba at Cologne, for which it is said to have been painted; yet in the figures of the kings who adore Christ, that which kneels and kisses the Infant's hand is a likeness of Philip of Burgundy, and that which stands to the right is Charles the Bold, whilst' a patron behind St. Joseph remains unknown. On the right wing of the altar-piece, the Annunciation; on the left, the Presentation to Simeon are depicted. No picture of the master is more imbued with religious feeling; none is more happily arranged and carried out. The Epiphany became a model composition in the Flemish schools; it was copied by numerous followers of Van der Weyden; conspicuous amongst whom we should cite Hans Memling.

Van der Weyden was not celebrated for artistic skill only. He was of good repute as a citizen, and known for his benevolence. His portrait, wihich has been preserved, represents him as a beardless man of 50 with short shock hair, and a look of serious melancholy. In the background hangs a bit of his favorite composition, the Dieu de Pitié. When he sent his son Cornelius to take the cowl at Hérinnes he endowed the monastery with a sum of 400 crowns; he was equally liberal to the Carthusians of Scheut; his affiliation to the religious brotherhood of the Holy Cross in the Church of Caudenberg by Brussels is noted in a record of 1462. In 1461 we find him valuing as referee some stone tinting, executed by Pierre Coustain for Philip the Good in the palace of Brussels. Amongst the pictures of his later time we may notice the Crucifixion, a triptych in the Belvedere at Vienna, where the Virgin is represented fainting at the foot of the cross and supported by St. John; two donors, a male and a female, kneel in the foreground; and St. Veronica and the Magdalen are introduced into the side wings. Though assigned to Martin Schongauer, it is a good school piece from Van der Weyden's workshop, and exhibits the practised hand of an artist familiar with anatomical design. It is marked by an affected air in the heads, wan forms, large eyes with their eyelids thinly coloured, and pallid landscapes with foregrounds intersected by crevices and covered with spare vegetation. We are less sure of Van der Weyden's authorship in the large panel of the Seven Sacraments, which hangs in the Antwerp Museum, though the scutcheons on it prove that it was painted for Jean Chevrot, bishop of Tournai.

Van der Weyden died at Brussels on the 16th of June, 1464, and was buried under "a blue stone" in the nave of the church of Sainte Gudule, where, the body of his wife, who survived him many years, was also placed.

Yearly masses for the soul of Van der Weyden were founded by his wife. Part of a pension paid to her by the corporation of Brussels, as the widow of their "portraiteur" (20 gold peeters), she gave in 1477 to her relative Henrich Goffaert, Canon of Caudenberg, to spend in masses for the repose of her self and her husband.

There is reason for not accepting as genuine two panels which bear Van der Weyden's name, in the Belvedere at Vienna. Of these the first represents the Eternal in heaven, the Virgin and Child, and St. Anne kneeling, two little dogs in the foreground, and a hedge of roses, behind which is a landscape and a city. The second is an Adoration of the Magi; both are poor productions of a later date.

Of another picture at Berlin, ascribed to Van der Weyden and signed "Sumus Rugerii manus," it is well to note the following -:

Zanetti, in his "Pittura Veneziana'', mentions a panel suspended, at the time he wrote, in a passage leading from San Gregorio, at Venice, to a neighbouring convent. He thought, at first, that it must be by Roger, yet doubted when he found that the panel was of Venetian fir, and not of the oak in use amongst the Flemings. At a later period Lanzi saw this piece in the Nani Palace at Venice, and repeated Zanetti's statement. Some persons who think that Van der Weyden visited Venice when he came to Italy, might suggest that he would then paint with the materials of the country; and they might think this the more natural as the Anonimo (ed. Morelli) describes a po trait of Van der Weyden in the house of Marco Zuanne Ram at Venice, in 1531, finished in oils by Roger himself, and dated 1462. This, however, would not prove that Roger was in Venice. The Anonimo merely says that the portrait was "from the hand of Rugerio da Burselles"; and it is certain that the family of Ram was one of wealthy merchants established at Venice for purposes of trade, and likely to have had this portrait from Flanders. But all such speculations fall to the ground as we look at the picture. The subject is Saint Jerom on a throne, to the right, Mary Magdalen, and to the left, St. Catherine; the style, Italian of the sixteenth century, and the wood on which it is executed peculiar to the Venetians. From the attitude and motion of the saints, and the character of the heads, which not only differ from those of Van der Weyden, but of the Flemish schools in general, it is certain that the picture was done by a painter of the school of Padua. The figures have the slenderness, the features the aquiline contour uncommon in Flemish productions; the outlines and drapery, are hard; the colour has the thinness which marked the school of Mantegna.

Supposing, therefore, even that Van der Weyden came to Venice, and that he, and not Antonello, carried thither the secret of oil-painting, it still remains a certainty that this is not a picture produced by him, but the work of some unknown artist of the Italian school.

The Gallery of Munich contains but one picture to which the name of Van der Weyden is attached : "Christ crowned with thorns"; it is not unlike the weak production of a pupil of Quintin Massys.

The type of the school is more visible in the "Annunciation" of the Antwerp Gallery, — a diminutive panel, painted with great care and finish, and not dissimilar in execution from one in the Louvre, attributed to Lucas Van Leyden, and of old supposed to be the work of Memling.

It is not quite certain that the portrait said to be that of Philip the Good, in the same collection, is a likeness of that prince, though Louys engraved it for the Collection of the Dukes and Princes of the House of Burgundy, by Jonas Suyderhof. It was purchased at Besançon, in 1827, and once belonged to the minister Colbert. In style it is hard and dry, like a neighbouring bust of a monk, attributed to Memling. In the Academy of Bruges there are also two pieces falsely assigned to Van der Weyden. The first is the Adoration of the Magi, the second the Adoration of the Shepherds, a night scene; both executed half a century after Van der Weyden's death.

Three panels from the abbey of Flemalle are catalogued as by Boger in the Stsedel collection at Frankfort. They represent the Trinity, St. Veronica, and the Virgin and child, and are painted in the style of Van der Weyden's school.

A panel in the late Wallerstein collection (Kensington Palace) represents Joseph of Arimathea supporting the body of Christ, which is embraced by the Virgin with deep affliction. This is the work of an imitator of Van der Weyden's compositions.

A Descent from the Cross in the gallery of the Hague assigned by Waagen to Van der Weyden, but catalogued as Memling, has much of the master's character but less finish, and a darker flush of tone than is usual when he works in person. It may be a school piece.

The Deposition in the Tomb ascribed to Van der Weyden, at the National Gallery, is a dry grey tempera which betrays the hand of a German imitator.

Unsatisfactory in other ways, and surely but a school piece, is the small crucified Saviour between the Virgin and Evangelist with the Magdalen at the foot of the Cross in the Gallery of Dresden. S

chool pictures likewise, and of a very inferior class, are the eleven panels under Van der Weyden's name in the Museum of Brussels.

The Virgin and Child in half length with a damask hanging for a background, and the same subject full length in a landscape, are ascribed to Van der Weyden in the collection of Prince von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, without having any claim to be accepted as genuine.

A head of Christ seen to the shoulders, bought by Mr. J. M. Parsons from the Abel Collection at Stuttgardt, is amongst the works assigned to Roger Van der Weyden.

The Brussels Royal Library contains a manuscript of the Chronicles of Hainaut in which there is a miniature falsely assigned to Roger Van der Weyden. Mr. Wauters ascribes to Roger Van der Weyden a series of tapestries called the "Seven Sins," of which many are in Spain.

He also speaks of a newly discovered picture in two compartments, one of which represents the Marriage of the Virgin, the other an unknown subject in which an old man is led before a bishop, whilst in the foreground two figures lie in prostrate supplication. The costumes are of the 15th century, and the style of the pictures similar to that of the "Seven Sacraments" at Antwerp.

In 1613, after the death of the Duke of Aerschot, an inventory was made of his property amongst which was the following : "Six paintings, of a round form on wood, with painted mouldings, and having in golden letters a history of the life of Joseph; — the whole painted in oil properly and artificially, and as was judged by the painter Novilliers, by the hand of Master Roger.

The catalogue which has now been given of the works, real or fictitious, by Van der Weyden, shows that many of his celebrated pictures are no longer extant. The canvasses of the town-hall at Brussels perished in the bombardment of 1695. Almost all the pictures in Italy are missing: — the Women Bathing, at Genoa; the Adam and Eve and donor, at Ferrara; and the pictures of Alphonzo of Naples. The portrait in the Gallery of Zuanne Ram, at Venice, may, as has been remarked, be that which goes under the name of Memling in the late Mr. Rogers's Gallery; if it be so, it is not a genuine Van der Weyden. A Virgin and Child, full length, in a temple, the property of Gabriel Vendramin, at Venice, has also perished. The pictures of the Gallery of Margaret of Austria — the Trinity, a small piece; the portrait of Charles the Rash; and a diotych of the Crucifixion and the mass of St. Gregory — are no longer to be found. The altar-piece of the Carmelites of Brussels has disappeared, together with numerous canvasses which adorned the convent of Groenendael in the forest of Soigne, and the picture in the collection of Archduke Ernest, in 1593.

The name of "Roger Van der Weyden the younger" has been freely given in our time to pictures in which we trace little more than the style of Van der Weyden's school as handed down by pupils and assistants in his workshop. It would be tedious to notice the numerous works which fall into this class; but it may be said of the majority of them that they are unworthy of any serious attention. There is some trace of a painter called Roger Van der Weyden in the register of the Antwerp guild for 1528, but we know nothing of pictures that he may have executed; and it is on mere presumption that school pieces are assigned to him because they are reminiscent of the shop of old Roger Van der Weyden.

Goswyn Van der Weyden, born at Brussels in 1465, and free of the guild of St. Luke at Antwerp in 1503, is described as the master of numerous apprentices between 1504 and 1513. In 1504 and 1530, he was "elder" of the corporation. This painter is known to have composed a triptych, historically traced to an altar in the Church of Tongerloo, representing the Death, Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin. Goswyn represented himself on the wings with his grandfather; and above these two figures was a tablet with the following inscription: —

"Opera R. P. D."

"For Arnold Streyter, abbot of this church, Goswyn Van der Weyden, a septuagenarian, painted this picture — a monument for posterity, in his old age, which expresses within it, to the life, his image, imitating the art of his grandfather, Roger, called the Apelles of his age, in the year of the Redemption of the World, 1535."

It has been usual to accept a diptych of the Assumption, in the Brussels Museum, as a part of the altar-piece of Tongerloo, but the error upon which this assumption was founded has been completely exposed of late years, and we have no records to prove that Roger Van der Weyden had a grandson of the name of Goswyn.

 


TRIPTICO DE LA FAMILIA BRAQUE (DETALLE)

TRIPTICO DE LA FAMILIA BRAQUE (DETALLE)

TRIPTICO DE LA FAMILIA BRAQUE (DETALLE)

 

EL HOMBRE DE LA MANO EN EL LIBRO

LA DAMA DE LA PAÑOLETA BLANCA

RETRATO DE MUJER

RETRATO DE MUJER

RETRATO DE HOMBRE- SAN IVO

RETRATO DE FRANCESCO D'ESTE

RETRATO DE CARLOS EL TEMERARIO((CHARLES THE BOLD)

RETRATO DE ISABEL DE PORTUGAL

TRIPTICO DE LA CRUCIFIXION

EL DESCENDIMIENTO DE LA CRUZ (DETALLE)

EL DESCENDIMIENTO DE LA CRUZ (DETALLE)

EL SUEÑO DEL PAPA SERGIO

SAN JOSE

TRIPTICO DE LA ANUNCIACION

EL NACIMIENTO (ALTAR DE SAN COLUMBA)

LA PRESENTACION EN EL TEMPLO (ALTAR DE SAN COLUMBA)

RETRATOS DE FELIPE EL BUENO (PHILIP THE GOOD)

RETRATO DE ANTONIO DE BORGOÑA (ANTHONY OF BURGUNDY)

RETRATO DE LAURENT FROIMONT

RETRATO DE UN CABALLERO DE LA EPOCA

EL JUICIO FINAL (DETALLES)

ALTAR DE LOS SIETE SACRAMENTOS (DETALLE )

ALTAR DE LOS SIETE SACRAMENTOS

RETRATO DE HOMBRE DE LA EPOCA

 

SALA DE PINTURA
PAINTING HALL