« PreviousContinue »
of an unknown man painted about 1609-1610. Above all he enjoyed representing scenes from Antique Mythology. Indeed he would not have belonged to the educated class of his time had he not possessed as thorough a knowledge
of the histories of Roman and Greek gods and heroes as he had of the Gospels. Two different representations of the Liberation of Andromeda, apparently painted about the same period (1610-1615), rank among his happiest mythological creations. One of these is in the Hermitage at St. Petersburg; in
which against the dark background of a precipice the hero is seen advancing. Upon his waving locks Victory places a crown of bay, whilst around the figures of the rescued maiden, Victory, the winged horse and the fearful Gorgon's head hover a number of laughing cupids. In the foreground we may observe
a portion of the dead monster, represented somewhat indistinctly in order not to interfere with the joyous impression of the rest of the composition (Fig. 22). More beautiful still is the other picture in the Berlin Museum. It is true that the figure of Andromeda is here perhaps less attractive; but on the other hand, the cupids, especially those laying around the white horse
Fig. 32. FAUN AND DIANA (THE GIFTS OF AUTUMN). In the Picture Gallery at Dresden.
After a photograph from the original by Braun, Clément & Co., Dornach, Paris and New-York. (To page 47.)
are more fascinating. In the spacious landscape overhung by a shadowy atmosphere the deep blue sea spreads beyond the rocks: where, between two cliffs, the monster convulsively expires. The wide perspective, the fine horse, the shining armour of the hero, the graceful figure of the girl, and the delicious infant heads, together form an admirable poem, quite unique in harmony of colour (Fig. 23).
Fig. 33. THE BETRAYAL OF SAMSON. In the Pinakothek at Munich.
After a photograph from the original by Franz Hanfstängl, Munich. (To page 47)
Rubens always possessed great talent in the representation of the winsome grace of cherubs and putti. In 1611 his wife Isabella Brant presented him with a daughter: and it was perhaps this happy event that specially led him to sketch so often the figures of children. Among collection of drawings at the Albertina, is a sheet covered with hastily-drawn, but none the less charming, Cupids in a great variety of attitudes (Fig. 24). They' are probably sketches for the charming picture painted at this period: Mary with the Infant Christ surrounded by playful Cherubs (Fig. 25); originally no doubt an altar-piece, but now in the Gallery of the Louvre. He also designed a number of fascinating putti entwined in a garland of fruit:
Fig. 35. LADY AND CHILD (probably Isabella Brant with her son Albrecht).
a photograph from the original by Braun, Clément & Co., Dornach, Paris and New-York.
a work now in the Pinakothek at Munich (Fig. 26). The magnificent garland of fruit which they bear was probably executed by Jan Breughel, one of his most loyal friends. A similar idea is to be found in a delightful sketch in the Hermitage Collection, known as the Statue of Ceres. Here exquisite baby-figures crowd around a niche containing a figure of the goddess and adorn it with garlands of fruit (Fig. 27). It is possible, that this fine sketch was originally intended as a design for a titlepage, such as in 1603 Rubens commenced making for the books published by his friend, Balthasar Moretus.
There were at that time a great many skilful engravers, who reproduced the designs of Rubens' both in painting and drawing: and very many of these were also multiplied by etchings. The art of engraving, which in other countries had become debased to a very low level, made rapid progress in