« PreviousContinue »
that they are yet followed by thousands and thousands more (Figs. 41—42). The order executed for the Prince Palatine was necessarily simpler in its conception than the above composition, because the Ascent to Heaven and the Descent to Hell are united in one composition. The Pinakothek at Munich possesses not only the splendid sketch of the master, (drawn by the painter's own hand), for the smaller Last Judgment, but also the sketch for the larger composition, erected in the year 1617 over the altar at Neuburg and subsequently removed to the Collection at Diisseldorf, the capital of the Palatinate; whence in 1805 it was brought to Munich with numerous other paintings by the same master (Fig. 43). The work of pupils is unmistakeable in the larger picture at Munich: and the same is the case with two other altar-pieces executed also for the Prince Palatine some years later: the Nativity and the Descent of the Holy Ghost, both likewise now in the Pinakothek at Munich; although in the former painting we may trace as his own work the rejoicing angels (Fig. 44).
According to an old tradition Rubens estimated the price of his works according to the time spent over them. He reckoned about 100 florins a day for his labour which, making allowance for the difference in the value of money at the present time, would be about £ 19. This seems very probable since he was wont to execute pictures of large dimensions in a comparatively short time: and it is moreover confirmed by a letter preserved at the Plantin-Moretus Museum at Antwerp, wherein Balthasar Moretus states that Rubens makes designs for titlepages only in his leisure moments: so that if a drawing for such purpose was required of him on a workingday his price for it was 100 florins. The paintings executed with the help of pupils were comparatively cheaper. This we learn from Rubens himself in his interesting correspondence with Sir Dudley Carleton, British Ambassador at the Hague. These letters dating from the year 1618, a great number of which have been published, are invaluable for the comprehension of his character and his inner life. Through them we are enabled to admire his extensive knowledge, his clearness of sight and the accuracy of his judgment. The subject of this correspondence was the collection of antique marbles owned by Carleton. Without having even seen them Rubens desired to acquire them, because, as he himself said, he was "mad on antiques". Sir Dudley Carleton proposed to exchange his marbles for paintings by the master himself. This proposition the latter accepted most willingly and having received a catalogue of Carleton's antiques with a statement of the prices paid for them, he forwarded a list of his own paintings, detailing their size, value and the amount of cooperation upon each received by him from friends and pupils. There was a Chained Prometheus, 8 feet by 9, — the eagle in which was painted by Snyders,— for 500 florins; a Daniel in the Lion's Den, painted from life— an original executed by him alone — 8 feet by 12, for 600 florins; Leopards (painted from life) with Satyrs and Nymphs, .— also an original by himself, — except the beautiful landscape, which was executed "by a master much skilled in that line", 9 feet by 11, for 600 florins. Other pictures are enumerated with the same accuracy: a Leda with the Swan, attended by a Cupid; a life-size Christ on the Cross, of which the artist says, that it was "perhaps the best picture he had ever painted"; a smaller replica of the Palatine Last Judgment,—
the work of a pupil which, however, might pose as an original if the master were to touch it up —; a St. Peter with other fishermen taking the Tribute-money from the Fish's mouth, painted from life; a replica of the Lion Hunt, painted for the Duke of Bavaria, — begun by a pupil, but repainted entirely by the master, — and another copy, — treated in the same way — of the Christ and His Apostles, owned by the Duke of Lerma; an Achilles disguised as a Woman, an impressive picture with many beautiful young female figures; a SI. Sebastian and a Susanna.
Carleton then wrote to Rubens that he had selected six pictures. And further invited the painter to visit him at the Hague, to inspect his antique marbles, which formed a collection such as no prince nor private individual possessed on this side of the Alps. "But", he continued, "for people in my position who are always on the move, objects of so much weight are not convenient, and moreover — to be frank — we all have human weaknesses— we sometimes change our tastes—, and so my fancy has suddenly taken another turn and has gone over from the sculptors to the painters:
Fig. 48. The Angel Of The Lord Smites The Hosts Of Sennacherie. Pen and ink drawing in the Albertina at Vienna. After a photograph from the original by Braun, Clement & Co., Dornach, Paris and New-York. (To page 68. >
especially to Mr. Rubens." Owing to the construction of his Dutch as well as of his English residences, Carleton after all could only take Rubens' smaller pictures, and there therefore remained after the valuation a cashdifference between the parties. It was however mutually arranged that Rubens should pay in addition 4000 florins for the antique works and 2000 florins worth of Brussel tapestry. Carleton was particularly anxious that the artist himself should chose the latter, wich were to be adorned with representations of figures, for him. Rubens mentions in the letter, in which he consents to this proposition that he had that year spent several thousand florins on his house and that consequently would have much preferred to pay entirely with pictures; "since everyone is more liberal with the fruit of his garden, than with the fruit which he has to buy in the market". In the same connection he uses the words: "I am not a prince; but a man, who lives by the labour of his own hands." In his answer, the polite courtier referred to the above sentence in the following words: "I cannot agree with your statement, that you are not a prince; for I consider you to be the
prince of artists, and of people of noble sentiment. And in this sense I kiss your hand." To a man like Rubens this was surely not mere flattery.
Another circumstance worth mentioning, since it is so characteristic of the artist, we also learn from this correspondence with Sir Dudley Carleton; namely that Rubens was most anxious to satisfy the buyer by giving him the choice of a great variety of subjects. Eventually they both