« PreviousContinue »
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 The Adoeation Of The Shefheeds. In the Pinakothek at Munich.
After a photograph from the original by Franz Hanfstangl, 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
Fig. 45. Pieta. (Sketch for the altar-piece in the Museum at Antwerp.) In the Albertina at Vienna. After a photograph from the original by Braun, Clement & Co., Dornach, Paris and New-York.
(To page 61.)
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
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",