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where the landscape was the chief object and the figures only accessories.
he discusses with a relation, who held a distinguished appointment in Holland, the possibility of inducing the Northern Netherlands to consent to a renewal of the armistice with Spain. There is a passage in a letter dated Oct. 13, 1624 from the English Ambassador at Brussels, William Trumball, which shows that influential persons seemed to give great weight to the efforts exercised in that direction by so distinguished and talented a man. It says:
After a photograph from the original by Braun, Clément & Co., Dornach, Paris and New-York.
“First of all I would wish to mention a secret armistice and peace transaction, directed by Peter Paul Rubens, the celebrated painter, between the United Provinces and those which still belong to the dominions of the King of Spain. A proof which, according to my modest opinion, shows that they (the Spaniards), in spite of their trying to get Breda (a fort most obstinately defended by the Dutch), are thoroughly tired of the war, and would be content to lay down their arms . . . That is why the Marquis Spinola so firmly resolved either to capture Breda, or to bury his corpse and his honour in its defences”. It stands to reason that Rubens did not carry on these negotiations wholly on his own account, but that he acted at the instigation of the Infanta Isabella. It is certainly strange that this Princess should have confided such offices to the painter. But Rubens was in many respects, and by no means only as a painter, a highly gifted man. He possessed great culture and was known to express himself with eloquence. Intelligent, clever, sincere and amiable, and possessed of a due amount of self-consciousness, he was withal modest by nature. He took wide views on things in general and combined with a clear judgment a firm and unswerving will. Thus the personal esteem that he enjoyed was almost as great and universal as his artistic fame. This is confirmed by the fact that Philip IV. of Spain, - as an existing document proves, -raised him and his legitimate heirs, -it would seem at his own request, — to the ranks of the nobility: “In consideration of the great excellence and rare merit that he had attained in Painting,
Fig. 83. PortRAIt of A YouNg Lady. In the Hermitage at St. Petersburg.
Fig. 84. Portrait of AN old Lady. In the Hermitage at St. Petersburg.
together with his knowledge of History and Languages; besides many other qualities and talents which combine to make him truly worthy of such Royal favour.” In this same document the coat of arms which Rubens was to bear is described as follows: “A diagonal escutcheon: on the upper half, a black hunting horn on a field or, and two cinquefoiled roses with gold-tipped petals; on the lower one a lily or on a field azure, and an open vizored helmet enriched in argent and or. As crest a lily or." It was at the court of Maria de Medici and through the acquaintanceship made there with the Duke of Buckingham that first inspired Rubens with the desire to occupy himself seriously, and not merely occasionally, with the entangled threads of his country's politics. This English peer and ambitious favourite of the young King, Charles I., whom he governed as completely as he had previously done his father James I., came to Paris in April 1625 to make the necessary arrangements for the marriage, then contemplated and which shortly afterwards took place between his Royal master and the Princess Henrietta Maria of France. There was in his suite a certain Gerbier, his confidant, by profession a painter; but who, in the service of the Duke, had developed into a clever diplomatic agent. No sooner had Buckingham made the acquaintance of the muchcourted Dutch painter, for whom he always subsequently entertained a great regard, than he desired to have his portrait painted by him. Rubens executed the grand equestrian painting, now in the Pitti Palace in Florence; for which together with another portrait of the Duke, he received the princely present of an entire service in silver, valued at 2000 crowns. He reserved for himself, however, the admirable and life-like drawing of the Duke so celebrated for his good looks,—which is now in the Albertina Collection at Vienna (Fig. 90). While Rubens was busy painting the Duke of Buckingham, he was at the same time negotiating with Gerbier and making proposals with the object of securing peace for his country. One passage from the report of these negotiations fully illustrates the master's point of view: “Mr. Rubens,” says the writer therein (probably Gerbier himself), “in his conversation with the Duke showed a praiseworthy interest in the Christian Cause”, —meaning the Roman Catholic Faith. After his departure from France and during the rupture between England and Spain, Rubens frequently wrote to Gerbier greatly deploring the circumstances and expressing his longing to restore the golden period which had gone by. He besought Gerbier to inform the Duke of Buckingham how grieved the Infanta was as to the state of affairs, &c.; and he further explained that Her Highness ought not to be compelled to suffer from these unfortunate circumstances, since she had not taken part in the disputes of either party, nor contributed in any way to their dissensions, but had felt throughout that there ought to be friendly relations between them. She also thought that, if the King of Great Britain intended to demand the Restoration of the Elector Frederic V., the exiled King of Bohemia, whose wife was a sister of Charles I., he would have to look to the King of Spain, who presumably had the power to carry out such a Restoration ; but that the actual understanding and the good terms which had always existed between England and the Infanta ought not suffer from this, since there exist no questions of variance between them. During the following years we find Rubens entirely wrapt up in politics. At the instigation of the Infanta and the Marquis Spinola he had exchanged with Gerbier, and occasionally also with the Duke of Buckingham himself, a lively correspondence with a view to bringing about an armistice between the King of Spain, the Kings of England and Denmark, and the United Provinces. In the end, however, it was impossible to do everything by correspondence, and Rubens had to travel hither and thither for verbal conferences. The restless life of a diplomat seems to have been at this period particularly congenial to him; for an event had recently happened, which, for a time,