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Fig. 62. St. Ignatius LOYOLA HEALING THE Possessed. In the Imperial Gallery at Vienna.
After a photograph from the original by J. Löwy, Berlin. (To page 78.)
idea of the grandeur of the interior of this Jesuit church, the gilded marble decoration of which formed so exquisite a frame for Rubens' paintings, resplendent in glowing colour.
The Imperial Picture-Gallery at Vienna possesses two of these sketches; one by Sebastian Vrancx, who, like Rubens before him, was a pupil of Adam van Noort; the other, executed in 1665, by Anton Geringh. Another representation of the interior of this church by the same clever architectural painter is in the Munich Pinakothek. Unhappily the church was struck by lightning in 1718 and totally destroyed in the resulting conflagration. The building itself was however reconstructed on a much simpler scale, but the ceiling frescoes were totally lost. In the Plantin-Moretus Museum there are drawings by Jacob de Wit, and reproductions from the 36 paintings which adorned the ceilings of the aisles and of the galleries over them: but of the three paintings which were in the vestibule only one has come down to us in an engraving. The gilded vault of the nave was divided by ornaments in stucco into variously shaped spaces, occupied by single figures. In the centre, child-angels hovered around a radiant wreath encircling the name of Mary. A preliminary sketch for the decoration of this centre vault has been preserved and is now, like most of Rubens' drawings, in the Albertina at Vienna (Fig. 60). Fortunately it was possible to save from destruction the three great altar-pieces which were almost entirely the work of the master's own hand. They were bought by the Empress Maria Theresa and are now in the Imperial Museum at Vienna. The two principal ones of vast size represent scenes from the later Lives of the Saints with numerous life-size figures. In one of these the Founder of the Jesuit Order, St. Ignatius Loyola, in his priestly vestments stands beside an altar; whilst near him are assembled a number of monks belonging to the Society of Jesus attired in black robes. Above, in a cloud of light, hover a number of child-angels, whilst by his prayers the Saint is heals several demoniacs, brought to the steps of the altar (Fig. 62). The other picture represents Loyola's colleague, St. Francis Xavier, another Founder of the Order, preaching Christ in India, and resuscitating in His Name the dead in the presence of an astonished multitude. High above among the clouds we may perceive the emblems of the Catholic Faith, whilst angels bear before them the Saviour's Cross, from which shaffs of light cast down an idol in the vestibule of its temple. Out of these subjects, which to another would perhaps have been quite devoid of artistic suggestion, Rubens by his powerful imagination, has created great master-pieces, which, from their general conception and expressive power, from their colouring and effect of light and shadow, might even be reckoned amongst his very finest productions. St. Francis Xavier was canonized in the year 1619 and St. Ignatius Loyola in 1622; from which facts we may conclude that the artist painted the picture of the former Saint for the high altar of this church immediately after his Canonization and that that of St. Ignatius, which is to be seen above the high altar in the abovementioned drawings, replaced it only three years later. The third picture saved from this church now also in the Imperial Museum at Vienna, represents the Assumption of the Virgin, and was painted for a side altar. The Virgin, surrounded by angels and enfolded in a cloud of light, full of joyous expectation is ascending into heaven, whilst the assembled apostles and holy women gaze into the empty sepulchre and look upward with profound devotion. Rubens himself declared this Assumption to be the best that he had
Fig. 63. COUNT THOMAS ARUNDEL AND HIS Wife. In the Pinakothek at Munich.
done of the entire series. There is a large composition of the same subject in the Liechtenstein Gallery, the origin of which is not known: but another fine example, engraved by Paul Pontius in 1624, is in the Academy at Düsseldorf (Fig. 61), a sketch for which is in the Pinakothek at Munich. When in the year 1805 the Düsseldorf pictures, collected by the Electors Palatine, were brought to Munich, to protect Rome from the French, this picture remained behind. The extremely heavy panel of oak on which it is painted, proved too weighty for the means of transport obtainable in those days, and so, in order that the removal of the other works of art might not be delayed, it was left unpacked as it was in the market-place. On account of its weight again it was not taken to Paris, and thus escaped the fate of the unfortunate Assumption in the Imperial Collection at Vienna, which to facilitate its transport was sawn into three pieces, by order of the French Deputy-Commissioner Denon. Besides this picture now in the Imperial Museum, which, after an absence of six years, was brought back to Vienna in 1815, there is yet another work of the master, the most celebrated representation of this subject, — which adorns the high-altar of the Cathedral at Antwerp. Rubens was asked to paint this picture in 1619; but its execution was retarded, so that it was only placed in its position in 1626. We are told that he painted this work, — also a very large one, - in less than 16 days; but that probably only implies the time spent by the master himself over the work; since the collaboration of pupils, whose working days were not counted, can be clearly detected in it.
It was no doubt through Sir Dudley Carleton that Rubens became acquainted with a man, famous in his day as a great Mæcenas, and unrivalled as a collector, especially of antique marbles: Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel. In 1620 the artist painted in one canvas portraits of this patron of the Arts and his wife; a sumptuous picture now in the Pinakothek at Munich. The group might perhaps be better designated as “Portraits of the Countess of Arundel and her suite”. In an open hall with spiral marble columns, hung with heavy curtains wheron are richly embroidered the family coat of arms, the floor of which is covered with a magnificent carpet, is seated the Countess, attired in a gown of black silk. With her right hand she caresses a huge hound, who lays his head affectionately in her lap. To her left a small page in a gold-embroidered red dress carrying a falcon on his wrist, implies his mistress' devotion to the chase. She appears also to have kept a sort of jester in her train, for a dwarf dressed in yellow and green stands beside the hound. Behind the Countess' chair, and rather in the background, we may see the Earl of Arundel himself (Fig. 63).
The armistice during which the Netherlands enjoyed the blessings of peace came to an end in 1620. Religious warfare had broken out again in Germany, and the first battle had been decided in favour of the Emperor and the Catholics. The world was anxious to see the likeness of the socalled Victor of the White Mountain: and it was Rubens, who was commissioned to paint it — to be reproduced in numerous etchings. We see the victorious Count Boucquoy, Commander-in-Chief, arrayed in his armour and scarf, and with his baton in his hand, encircled by a wreath of bay and oakleaves, and surrounded by a number of allegorical figures. We may further perceive towns and rivers in chains beside the altar of Victory; a winged Nikè is bearing trophies, whilst Hercules with his club, — Symbol of Power, - crushes to the ground the Hydra and Medusa. Angels holding aloft a chalice and the Popal double cross, - symbol of the Catholic Faith, crown the Imperial eagle, to whom the genii of War and Victory offer the palm and the terrestrial globe (Fig. 64). Whilst Rubens designed this sketch (now at the Hermitage), intended for reproduction, most carefully in grey on grey, he was content on other occasions only to heighten similar
Fig. 64. CHARLES DE LONGUEVAL, Count Boucquoy. Painted for an engraving by Vorstermann.
In the Hermitage at St. Petersburg.
(To page 81.)
drawings with sepia; as, for instance, the cleverly executed design in the collection of Weimar, representing a warrior, whose name we may probably also seek among the heroes of the Thirty Years War (Fig. 65).