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hension of form, the realism of treatment, the draperies which are fitted to and follow the movement of the body, the expression in the faces, the linear and ačrial perspective of the landscape, combine to create a marvellous picture. Still more, they prove how complete was the departure from the old era of conventionality, and show how thoroughly the foundations were laid for a still further development of realistic feeling and truthfulness to Nature, which were never again disregarded, but retained their influence, ultimately to exhibit at once their extreme as well as perfected form in the works of the Dutch painters of the seventeenth century. That the influence thus established should be varied or intensified as years passed on, that it should manifest itself in a broader and more realistic direction, that a new and distinctive character should continue to prevail, were inevitable results. With the changing condition of the people, the spread of education, the invention of printing, the advance of the Reformation, the rejection of all Papal tradition, a new era gradually arose. The evidence of this is apparent in varying degree in the artistic work of all the Northern Schools, but is carried to its completest form in the Schools of Holland. The struggle through which they had passed in their rejection of foreign rule had determined the whole character of the people; in Art, as in Literature and in Religion, earlier tradition was no longer acceptable. The legendary Altar-pieces, Madonnas, Martyrs, representations-—devotional or historic—of Monastic Saints, allegoric design, or ideal mythologic scenes, had no interest for a people whose thoughts were in their homes, in the simplicity of pastoral, or the prosaic incidents of municipal life. M. Michel has some interesting notes on the originals, members of his own family or others, whom Rembrandt made use of for his models. It is not always possible to identify them, at least with any certainty, since the pictures, drawings, or etchings which were thus produced, not unfrequently in fancisul costume, were generally much more in the nature of studies than of likeness, the latter often subordinate to picturesque effect or the solution of some problem in chiaroscuro. Those who are familiar with the etched work of Rembrandt are aware how many of the smaller heads, especially of his earlier time, are studies from himself. Their execution is mostly very summary, and the results unequal in value and importance. His mother's likeness may be frequently recognized. At one time it is only a head of placid and venerable mien ; in another she is pictured in Eastern dress with a scarf twisted turban-like about her head, or again in black fur-bordered cape with black o ban
band across her forehead, the mourning veil and sombre garments of her widowhood. Even more frequently was the charming Saskia, his study not only for fancy pieces, but in more than one instance in what we may regard as actual portraiture. Such is the pencil drawing now in the Print-room at Berlin—reproduced by M. Michel—below which is an inscription in Rembrandt's own handwriting, to the effect that it is the portrait of his wife taken at the time of their betrothal. We recognize the likeness, almost a front face, not only in the Dresden picture of “Rembrandt and Saskia, and in ‘The Jewish Bride’ in the Liechtenstein Gallery, but also, as M. Michel points out—and in this we entirely agree—in the group known as ‘The Burgomaster Pancras and his Wife,' one of the treasures of Buckingham Palace, and which by permission of Her Majesty appeared in the Royal Academy Winter Exhibition, 1889. The likeness of Saskia, with some variation, may be seen also in a ‘Jewish Bride, the property of the Duke of Buccleuch, and in a replica with variations now in the possession of Mrs. Ellice, of Invergarry. Before us while we write is an impression from an etched plate by Marcenay, a Parisian engraver, signed and dated 1755, a portrait group of “Rembrandt and Saskia, in which the features and expression closely resemble those of “The Jewish Bride’ in the Buccleuch picture. So far as decision is possible, we can believe it to have been taken from an original by Rembrandt, but it is not among the portraits catalogued by Smith, nor can we learn
whether it is still in existence. In other pictures Saskia is represented not full-faced but in profile. The finest of these and the one which we may accept as an actual portrait is the celebrated picture in the Gallery at Cassel. It has been copied in etching by Leopold Flameng and by Unger, and an admirable reproduction has been produced by the Berlin Photographic Company. Apart from its beauty, it has interest for us in that the features are repeated with unimportant variations in more than one Scriptural or fancy subject, as in the ‘Abraham dismissing Hagar and Ishmael,’ a picture now in the possession of Mr. Constantine Ionides, and exhibited this year at the Royal Academy Winter Exhibition. Among other studies belonging to Rembrandt's earlier time we recognize some which we assume to be the likeness of his father. We say “assume, since their identification, as M. Michel acknowledges, ‘has been based on hypothesis more or less plausible.” In 1878 Middleton expressed the opinion that Herman Gerritszoon was probably the study for the etching of “The Old Man with a long beard and fur-trimmed cap.” M. Michel
M. Michel tells us that in his attempts to classify the studies
present the name of the sitter is unknown.
so large a proportion of the master's work, there can be little difference of opinion, and we will quote a passage from M. Michel, which very well expresses ideas with which, we feel assured, everyone will agree:—
‘Though he recognized that nothing is unimportant in this difficult art, and that the great portrait-painter is he who wins the richest result from his boundless material, he also perceived, with the earlier masters, that the eyes and the mouth are the supremely significant features of the human face, the features to which we look for the expression of life, of thought, and of the various emotions that stir the soul. . . . In Rembrandt's personages the eye is the centre wherein life, in its infinity of aspect, is most fully manifested. His portraits are distinguished, not only by the absolute fidelity and precision of the likeness, but by a mysterious limpidity of gaze, which seems to reveal the soul of the sitter, inviting us to yet closer study and a yet deeper knowledge of its secrets. This life-like expression in the eye is well seen in Rembrandt's portrait of himself in the National Gallery, No. 672.’
As to Rembrandt's treatment of Biblical subjects, the contrast between these and the purely religious pictures of others, notably of the Italian Schools, is often so distinctive, that at first sight the spectator may fail to appreciate the intense religious sentiment which the master endeavoured to express. The models from whom he took the secondary personages or the onlookers whom he brings into his composition must often have been very ordinary commonplace people, the lower class of Jews or even mendicants who frequented the quarter in which the master himself had made his home. But as the picture ‘grows upon us,’ and we are impressed with the intense spirit of realism, the absolute acceptance of fact which it is intended to convey, we perceive how appropriate are their forms and attitudes to the parts into which they are introduced —their very ugliness giving relief to the leading figures in the composition—and we become conscious of the earnestness, the depth, the intensity of the religious feeling which has inspired and which dominates the scene. It would be easy to multiply instances; but we will only refer, as among the more important, to the ‘Presentation in the Temple,’ in the Hague Museum, of which M. Michel has given a full-page illustration; to the “Descent from the Cross,’ at Munich, though now unhappily in a somewhat unsatisfactory condition, and to “The Woman taken in Adultery’ in the National Gallery. In this latter work, says Kügler, “a touching truthfulness and depth of feeling, with every other grand quality peculiar to Rembrandt, are seen in their highest perfection.’ The master was no less successful successful in several of his etchings, as, for instance, in ‘The Angel appearing to the Shepherds, in ‘The Death of the Virgin, in ‘The Hundred Guilder’ plate, “The Christ healing the Sick, and in the marvellous composition “Our Lord crucified between two Thieves, otherwise known as ‘The Three Crosses.’ In all of these, the introduction of figures, in themselves homely or commonplace, so far from lowering, increases the reverential feeling with which we contemplate the design. The three great pictures which must always hold their place, if not as the finest, certainly as the most important examples of Rembrandt's work, each in its turn represent, as it were, the culmination of the three chief periods which we recognize in his artistic career. These representative works of his “earlier,' his “middle,” and his ‘later time,’ are, as is well known, ‘The Lesson in Anatomy, the so-called ‘Night Watch, and “The Syndics of the Cloth Hall.' As to the first of these, “The Lesson in Anatomy, the vigorous criticism of Fromentin, who describes the handling as ‘thin and unimpassioned, and the drawing of the dead body as faulty, and as showing want of knowledge in the modelling, may be accepted, in so far as it compares the quality of this early work —it was executed in 1632—with that of later years, and there is certainly much in the picture to which we may take exception, as the foreshortening of the corpse, &c. But remembering its date, it would be difficult to conceive a more admirable group. ing. The prominent portrait is that of the Professor Claes Petersz, known to us as “Tulp, a pseudonym borrowed from the tulip (tulpen) carved upon the façade of his house.
* Seated in a vaulted hall at a dissecting table on which the corpse is laid obliquely, he holds up one of the tendons of the left arm with a pair of forceps and seems to be enforcing his demonstration by a gesture of his left hand. Seven students, all men of mature age, are grouped to the right around the corpse, at whose feet lies a large open volume. All excepting the professor are bareheaded, and all, like their master, dressed in black, except the man nearest to Tulp on the right, who wears a dress of neutral tint inclining to violet. Broad white collars stiffened or hanging loosely about their necks enframe their faces . . . The figures are illuminated by a soft light from the left, which is concentrated on the corpse and on the heads of the two seated auditors in the foreground.’
It is a noble picture, and as we stand before it we lose all perception of faulty arrangement, and imperfect drawing, or hesitating chiaroscuro, and feel only wonder and admiration at its manifest perfection. And then we turn to the ‘Night Watch, the picture of his “middle