« PreviousContinue »
they were brought to England, only to be sold again the following year, since when they have disappeared. A few years ago there was a rumour that they had been rediscovered in the South of France.
Rubens must have already possessed that marvellous productive power for which he remained unrivalled throughout his artistic career. From the 20th of April 1602 we find him back again in Mantua, having carried out, not only the commissions of the Archduke, but also those of the Duke of Mantua.
It stands to reason that Rubens during his stay in Rome studied antique art as well as the works of the great
Masters of the Renaissance, and he had also an opportunity of continuing these studies, in the rich collections ot Painting and Sculpture belonging to his patron Vincenzo Gonzaga himself. At the Louvre we find excellent drawings made by Rubens after Michelangelo's Prophets in the Sixtine Chapel. His attempts to impart to his own creations something of the Titanic grandeur of the great Florentine are clearly visible in a drawing in the Albertina collection in Vienna (Fig. 2), representing his two patrons, Sainl Peter and Saint Paul. It is most interesting to examine closely the manner in which Rubens set to work when copying Italian Masters. His copies of the portrait of Isabella d'Este, now in the Museum of ArtHistory at Vienna: and of a young Venetian lady at Dresden, both after Titian, clearly show how minutely Rubens had studied that great colourist, and how at the same time he never lost his own individuality. For his works are not merely copies, but rather faithful translations into his own language of colour and form; especially the Dresden picture, where one may even detect in the fair Venetian something of his own Flemish ideals of beauty.
On other occasions Rubens treated his subject even more freely; as for instance in his Triumph of Julius Caesar in the National Gallery: a sketch intended to be a free interpretation of a portion of the fine cartoons by Andrea Mantegna, now at Hampton Court. The young artist seems to have been also attracted by antique marbles and especially by old Greek and
Roman portrait-busts. It was as if the cold marble awoke to life before his soul: and it was under such impressions that he executed those translations of ancient portraits which in 1638 were multiplied by Vosterman, P. Pontius, H. Witdoek and Schelte a Bolswert (Figs. 4—5). The thorough grasp that Rubens acquired of the classical beauty of old marbles is best proved by the profiles of a Roman couple, now in the collection of Prince Liechtenstein in Vienna (Fig. 6). There are also in the Albertina fine male and female heads drawn from the antique, with studies for folded hands on the same sheat (Fig. 7). Side by side with these vigorous drawings, we should also mention the noble sketch of an old man with a beard, which probably served as a model for some holy bishop and well illustrates the method employed by the young Rubens in his studies from life (Fig. 8).
In 1C03 he was sent to Spain by the Duke of Mantua. It seems that he considered the artist the fittest personage to deliver certain presents intended for King Philip III. and his minister the Duke of Lerma. The voyage was not favoured with fine weather, for it rained uncessantly for twenty days. Only a portion ot the gifts, which included a carriage with seven Neapolitan horses, could be delivered uninjured; whilst the other part with the pictures painted by Rubens for the Spanish court were entirely ruined through the rain. The proposal of the Mantuan Ambassador that the pictures should be restored with the assistance of some Spanish painter, was firmly rejected by Rubens who declared, "that he did not choose to be associated with any one else". The circumstance that the interview with the King was delayed, enabled him however not only with his own hands to restore his damaged pictures, but also to paint two new ones: — Heraclitus and Democritus, the Weeping and the Laughing Philosophers; which two pictures are still in the Madrid Gallery. After he had accomplished his mission to the King of Spain he was employed until the following autumn by the Duke of Lerma, of whom he painted an equestrian portrait, besides thirteen single figures: Christ and his Twelve Apostles. These last are also still in the Madrid Gallery, but the figure of Christ himself has disappeared. Later replicas of these thirteen pictures are to be found at the Palazzo Rospigliosi in Rome, while a number of drawings for them are in the Albertina at Vienna (Fig. 9). The excellent portrait of a Franciscan priest, now in the Munich Pinakothek, is said also to have been painted in Spain (Fig. 10). At the beginning of 1604 Rubens returned to Mantua, where his chief work during that and the following year as the completion of a triptych for the Jesuit-Church. The centre-piece represented the Trinity, the two wings the Baptism and Transfiguration of Christ. At the taking of Mantua by the French in 1797 these three pictures were carried away; but the centreportion divided into two portions was subsequently brought back, and is now in the Public Library. The Transfiguration is in the Museum at Nancy, while the Baptism, much repainted, found its way in 1876 to the Gallery of Antwerp.
In the year 1605 tne Emperor Rudolf II. commissioned Rubens to copytwo pictures by Correggio. In 1606 he was again in Rome, where he began to paint an altar-piece for an Oratory just built, known as the new church (Chiesa Nuova). Before, however, he could finish it, he was recalled by the Duke of Mantua, in whose company in the following year he went to Genoa. Here he devoted special attention to the architecture ot the town and, in order to improve the taste for building in his own country, conceived the idea, of making a collection of drawings of Genoese palace-architecture. This plan he subsequently carried out in conjunction with N. Rykemans; and a collection of etchings, including no less than i}6 plates of the "Palazzi di Gcnova", appeared at Antwerp in two separate
Fig. 13. The Rivergod Tjuf.r (or Tigris) With The Goddess Of Plenty. In the Hermitage at St. Petersburg. After a photograph from the original by Braun, Clement & Co., Dornach, Paris and New-York. , (To page aa.)
parts in the years 1613 and 1622 respectively. For the Jesuit-church (St. Ambrogio) at Genoa he painted — it is uncertain when — two altarpieces: the Circumcision and St. Ignatius healing a Demoniac and restoring to life Dead Children. This latter, which is very large, is a splendid work.