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By Elbert F. Baldwin
European academies of art, together with Belgian civil, military, and
religious authorities, assembled in the Grande Place before the City Hall. They were there to hear a special performance on the famous carillon of bells in the tower of Notre-Dame, and to see a procession
representing the progress of art through the ages. From the figures of the giant Antigonus and his wife, the traditional patrons of Antwerp, representations of Egyptian, Assyrian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Gothic, and Renaissance art-creative times passed in processional form. Last of all came the crowning feature of the whole pageant, namely, the “ Homage to Sir Anthony van Dyck ;" for all this celebration was to commemorate the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of the second of the two mighty painters whom Antwerp has given to the world. There he stood, that second one, in impersonation, preceded by a figure representing the Archduke Albert and the Infanta Isabella, his protectors; by one representing Rubens, his master, and by those of many of the personages who, through his portraits, have become immortal in art, if not in history—Charles I., Marie Henriette, and their children, Marie de' Medicis, the Earls of Strafford and Arundel, Marie Louise of Tessis, the Marquises of Brignole and Spinola, Cardinal Bentivoglio, François de Moncada, and others. Sir Anthony rode surrounded by honor-guards, each representing a city where his best-known pictures are to be found—Antwerp, Brussels, London, Paris, Madrid, Genoa, Florence, Munich, Dresden, Berlin, Kassel, The Hague. The great memorial of the anniversary, however, is an exhibition. still open, of the master's works. For this purpose several hundred canvases, many of them of enormous value, have been taken from museums, churches, and private galleries throughout Europe and gathered in the old Flemish capital, always the home both of commerce and of culture, where, three centuries ago, Anthony van Dyck first saw the light of day.
When he was fifteen years old, he entered Rubens's studio. He made such progress there that before he was twenty he was not only working on pictures which the master gave out as his own, but had done such noteworthy composition as to cause his enrollment as a master in the Guild of St. Luke. This Guild, already two centuries old, nained after the artist-Evangelist, was the great instigator and benefactor of Flemish art. The young Van Dyck thus became himself a master while working under one.
It was an unheard-of honor to one of such tender age. Rubens was too great a man, nevertheless, to have any jealousy of his pupil as a possible rival. On the contrary, he insisted on procuring a commission for him from the Jesuits, in connection with his own work, to paint forty pictures for them. In the year when the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from the Low Countries, the name of Anthony van Dyck
began to be known in those countries as Hague. Once, when residing in Holland, that of another Rubens. An Antwerp he went to Haarlem to call on Frans Hals, picture-dealer wrote to the Earl of Arundel whom he had never met. Not finding the in England that the new painter's works great Dutch artist at home, he sent word were gaining almost as much esteem as to him that a stranger wished to have his that enjoyed by those of the master him- portrait painted. When Hals appeared, self. Nevertheless, it was that same kind the Fleming said that he had but two master who presented his pupil to Lord hours to spare. He asked if Hals could Arundel, through whom access was later make an attempt in that time. The obtained to the English monarch, and to Dutchman was, of course, equal to the honors never before paid to any painter. task, and finished the picture. The apparAt the end of his apprenticeship Rubens ently astonished stranger remarked that gave the finest horse in his stable to Van “ Portrait-painting seems a simple thing. Dyck, who, in return, presented to his I will try it myself.” Thereupon he began elder three canvases which had attracted to sketch, taking Hals as his subject. He the latter's special commendation. One had not proceeded very far, however, in of them, a“ Christ Seized upon tire Mount his masterly precision, before the Dutchof Olives," henceforth occupied the place man cried out : “ You are Anthony van of honor in the chief room in Rubens's Dyck! No one else could do what you house. From association with such a have done.” master, his pupil thus gained, not only That judgment was not alone Hals's. It invaluable technical instruction, but also a has been said that the head of Richardot generously given start in life. Further in the Louvre at Paris), painted at this more, both derived a certain mental stim- time, is as strong as any in portraiture, ulus from the similitude of their education, unless it be that of Cornelius van der tastes, and ideas, their unremitting labors Gheest (in the National Gallery, London). and their material successes. In truth, the It might also be added that, of its kind, pupil's genius merited protection and pat the portrait of the youthful William II. of ronage. If Shakespeare nodded occa Nassau (in the Hermitage at St. Peterssionally, so did Rubens ; but even in the burg). has never been equaled, even by younger Fleming's early pictures it is hard Gainsborough with his “ Blue Boy." to find an awkward or unnatural attitude Anthony van Dyck is not generally or an expressionless feature.
thought of as an etcher, but he showed Acting on the master's sound advice, noteworthy talent in this domain also. his pupil went to Italy to study and to One finds astonishing workmanship in the work. The influence of the years spent series of grisaille portraits of his eminent there is noticeable in the modification of contemporaries, especially of fellow-artists, an over-great Rubens leaning. The pic which were published as engravings by tures painted before and after that period Martin van den Enden. With wonderful have greater mellowness and depth of expressiveness, Van Dyck etched the heads color. Though he lived in Venice, Flor- in some two dozen of the plates; and the ence, Rome, and Palermo, most of Van prints in their early state, before any Dyck's work was done at Genoa, and is addition of gravers' line-work, are highly still there in the splendid old palaces of prized, both for their historical worth and the Balbi, Brignole, Durazzo, Raggi, and also as an evidence of the characteristics Spinola families. Van Dyck's portraits of of an artist's real heyday, when, for the members of these houses combine a Flem- most part, he was still unconscious, unish strength and energy with an Italian hampered, unflattered, and hence unconstateliness and elegance-Rubens and ventional. Some geniuses “ arrive "early. Titian in one.
and the sketches, etchings, and oil work After some years in Italy, Van Dyck of this period of a particular genius show returned to his home city, where, by him at the speedily reached summit of his Rubens's departure as Ambassador to powers. England and Spain, the young artist found Probably by reason of inducements a clear field. His fame now extended offered to him in advance, our artist, now over Europe. He worked not only at thirty-three years old, decided to settle in Antwerp, but at Brussels and at The England; at all events, he was received
BY ANTHONY VAN DYCK
WILLIAM II. OF NASSAU.
Hermitage, St. Petersburg. with unprecedented distinctions. He was of his person and the refinement of his immediately made painter-in-ordinary to manners. Permanent evidence of royal King Charles, who also bestowed upon favor is found in the painter's thirty-six him a pension and a knighthood, a town (according to some authorities) portraits house at Blackfriars and a country lodge of the King and twenty-five of the Queen. at Eltham. What was more, the King In nearly every representation of Charles gave him a good deal of his personal one is struck by a certain proud melansociety, often dropping down from White choly, a presage of coming doom. No hall in his barge to spend an afternoon matter how genuinely, if diplomatically, with one who charmed all by the elegance engaging in deportment the painter was
he was also, what every portrait-painter with silver lace. His right hand rests on should be, a psychologist. He knew how the head of a brown spaniel. Princess to win all hearts, but he knew as well how Mary comes next, in a white satin dress to dip beneath the surface of things. which, like the robe of her brother Charles, Hence some of his portraits were not only seems, to more modern notions of dress, realities but prophecies.
out of keeping with a child's age. Lastly Among the best works of his English comes the charming little Duke of York, period are the most popular of all his in another stiff silk frock-blue this timepictures, namely, those of the King's chil- and holding an apple in his hand. dren. Visitors to the Dresden, Berlin, During the remaining years of his life Sir London, and Turin galleries are familiar Anthony van Dyck painted the portrait of with these ; that in the last-named city is nearly every prominent person connected an especially good example. It shows with the English court. No artist was three of the children, Prince Charles (later ever so sought after or received so many Charles II.), Princess Mary (later wife of orders.
orders. A visit to his studio was a regular William II. of Orange), and the Duke of part of the programme of the fashionables York (later James 11.). Prince Charles, of Charles's time. One reason for such about five years old, stands at the left signal popularity and success may be found in a long, stiff scarlet frock embroidered in the chagrinful consciousness that in
England there were no native painters worthy the name. There was a demand for portraits from the King and the nobles; hence we find a Holbein serving Henry VIII.; an Antonio Moro, Queen Mary ; a Cornelius Janssens, James I.; a Rubens and a Van Dyck, Charles I.; a Lely and a Kneller, Charles II.
A year after Rubens passed away he was followed by his great pupil. Already shadows were beginning to fall thick and fast on that England where Charles and his narrow-minded nobles, unmindful of just mutterings from the people, had been living lives of too great dalliance. Early in 1641 the royal family were compelled to flee from London ; later, one of Van Dyck's best friends and patrons, the Earl of Strafford, was led to the scaffold. His authorities had sold Van Dyck's other royalist friends quickly scattered Martin Dividing his Cloak with a Begfar and wide. The old, bigoted, kingly gar,” they armed themselves with pitchera was passing away, with the dogma of forks and other weapons, surrounded the divine right. There was a kind of poetic church, and would not allow it to be justice that the delineator of so many removed. Compared with the works of defenders of aristocratic privilege should the early Flemings and Italians, however,
our artist's religious pictures show a It was an early death; Van Dyck was seeming lack both of spontaneity and of only forty-two years old, but he had ac conviction. Sometimes we even carry complished the labors of a century. He away from his delineation of sacred scenes left nearly a thousand canvases, most of the impression of a clever and objective them of exalted merit.
foreshortening rather than that of a subOf these canvases, the earliest are largelyjective, deep-down, Hans Memling, Fra religious in subject. What he was capable Angelico fervor. Contrasted with those of doing in that field may be gathered painted in the ages of simpler, sincerer from appreciations by high and low. On religious feeling, Van Dyck's altar.pieces seeing the “ Crucifixion ” at Mechlin, Sir suffer, but they hardly suffer as much as Joshua Reynolds declared it to be one of do most similar attenipts during the sixthe first pictures in the world. When teenth and seventeenth centuries. Comthe farmers near the little village of Sa- pared with the works of his actual conventhem, Belgium, heard that the parish temporaries, our artist gives us fewer