« PreviousContinue »
After a photograph from the original by Franz Hanfstangl, Munich. (To page 56.)
His powerful influence acted, not only on young art-students desirous of learning from him, but also on contemporary workers: and even on his former teachers. He often worked on the same canvas with other painters, with whom he was linked by terms of friendship. Besides painting in company with the above-mentioned Johann Breughel, he frequently collaborated with Franz Snyders, unsurpassed as a painter of animals,who, born at Antwerp in 1579, was about his own age. In the Galleries of Dresden and Munich for example, are vigourous scenes from boar-hunts, the joint work of Rubens and Snyders (Fig. 38). It was, however, only for expedition, and because he was so overburdened with work, not of necessity, that he thus sought the help of his friend in painting animals. He was himself a first rate animal painter. And no one has better represented the excited movements of a restive horse. He positively revelled in portraying the beauty of the fine Andalusian steeds, so much prized at that period for riding and hunting. He occasionally even did not disdain to make studies from clumsy Flemish mares (Fig. 39). With the same masterly hand he also painted dogs, among which the fine spotted greyhounds, employed by noblemen for the chase were his special admiration. He was devoted to the painting of wild beasts, many varieties of which he could find at the Zoological Gardens at Antwerp and in private menageries. He often introduces the Bengal tiger with his splendid colouring into his paintings, and lions are not infrequently made principals figures in his compositions. Of which latter animals he has left numerous sketches. We are told that he once invited into his studio a strolling trainer with a magnificent lion, promising the man a handsome sum of money if he would make the beast yawn by tickling its jaw-bones, so that he might study its open mouth. The lion, however, did not approve of this game and, threatening to become dangerous, had to be summarily removed. It is added that, soon after, this same lion tore his keeper to pieces. The finest picture of a lion by Rubens is in the Pinakothek at Munich: painted in 1616 for the Duke of Bavaria. Seven men, three on foot and four on horseback, are represented in the act of attacking a lion and a lioness: one of the men lies dead on the ground, whilst another fights desperately with the lioness, who has thrown him down. A white horse upon which is mounted a Moor also clad in white, severely wounded in its shoulder, rears madly, whilst its rider overpowered by the lion is shouting loudly. Men are cutting and thrusting; horses stamping and rearing; forming a magnificent composition, full
of wildest movement ^DOnatION 0f thE Shefheeds. In the Pinakothek at Munich.
After a photograph from the original by Kranz Hanfstiingl, Munich. (Fig. 40). (To page 56.)
In 1616 Rubens received from the Prince Palatine of Neuburg a commission to paint The Last Judgment for the church at Neuburg. This grand subject had been treated by him already in two separate representations, both of which are now in the Pinakothek at Munich. The stern words of judgment, which divide the Just from the Unjust have already been spoken. In the one picture we may see the Redeemed ascending to heaven like
a dense cloud of smoke toward the Judge, enthroned on a distant height: in the other the Condemned in an tumultuous body are precipitated into an abyss of glowing flame and darkness. The remarkable features of this work lie perhaps less in the profusion of rising and falling bodies, than in the general effect of the whole, which, on so grand a scale, has never since been attempted. The number of souls is endless; thousands and thousands seem massed together: and in both pictures the impression is conveyed