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An interesting characterization of the different ways of life in Italy, Spain, and France during the seventeenth century comes from the mouth of a fool in Lope de Vega's novel El peregrino en su patria. The fool says that he would prefer to be born in France, live in Italy, and die in Spain; the first because of the straightforward honesty of the nobility and the king, the second because of the freedom and joy in life, and the third, finally, because of the purity and truth of the Catholic faith. The desire to live in Italy expressed by Lope's charac­ter is typical of many French and Spanish artists of the time. Not only Poussin and Claude Lorrain, but also Velazquez and Ribera—to name only four great masters—were all, despite their quite different roots, drawn to Italy and above all to Rome. Italian painters of this time frequently change the location of their activity, but mostly stay on their native soil. However, during the seventeenth century some in Spain and France voiced their concern at this state of affairs. Thus, for example, the Spanish art historian Antonio Palomino stresses that only mature artists were in serious demand in Rome; young painters wasted years there, became disoriented and dazed by 'the astonish­ing labyrinth of wonders,' and might die in poverty. Many artists, continues Palomino, learned to their disadvantage that it was better to frequent Hispanic schools than Roman inns.

Appreciation of those seventeenth-century masters who are now numbered among the most distinguished artists of their time has undergone considerable fluctuation in the course of the last two hundred years. Early criticism of baroque art in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, however, was at first directed less towards painting than towards architecture. In his study Renaissance und Barock (1888), Heinrich Wolfflin expressed criticism of the prefer­ence of that era for 'massive effects, the colossal, the overpower­ing,' and found fault with its apparent violation of renaissance concepts of harmony. Later, in his Kunstgeschichtliche Grund-begriffe [Basic Concepts in Art History] (1915), he appears to have discovered a relationship between the baroque and modern world of forms. Between these two works came Alois Riegl's Die Entstehung der Barockkunst in Rom [The Origins of Baroque Art in Rome] (1908), a positive appreciation of the architecture of the era. Comprehensive analyses of baroque painting began to appear after monographs on artists had been published. Among the major accounts were Hermann Voss's Die Malerei des Barock in Rom [Baroque Painting in Rome] (1925) and Nikolaus Pevsner's and Otto Grautoff's Barockmalerei in den romanischen Ldndern [Baroque Painting in the Romance Countries] (1928).

The work of Italian baroque painters has received a variety of responses over the past two centuries. Caravaggio's oeuvre, which had already divided his contemporaries into two camps, with his opponents taking exception to his apparent disregard for decorum and the lack of historia, was interpreted as a forerunner of modern­ism as early as the last century. Poussin was hailed by his contempo­raries as peintre philosophe and highly regarded by David and Ingres. The evaluation of Guido Reni reads as a story of brilliant fame, which was marred only by the commercial exploitation and trivialization of his paintings.

The work of the Spanish painters has had a mixed reception: masters such as Diego Velazquez, Francisco Zurbaran, and, above all, Jusepe Ribera strongly appeal to the modern observer, but Bartolome Esteban Murillo has made less of an impact. Velazquez was discovered in the mid-nineteenth century by French painters such as Courbet and Manet, who had an unrestrained admiration for the peintre des peintres. Only later did art historians begin to take him more seriously: numerous monographs were produced, among which Carlo Justi's early Diego Velazquez und sein ]ahrhundert [Diego Velazquez and his Century] (1888) has remained a worthwhile discussion of the subject. In the eighteenth century, Murillo's paintings were already so popular that their export was prohibited under Charles III in 1779. However, since the end of the nineteenth century Murillo's work has been dismissed in increasingly critical terms for what is seen as its saccharine senti­mentality. Only in the last two decades of the twentieth century has there been a reassessment of this painter which has attempted to do justice to the status of his art. Zurbaran's work has also been reas­sessed only in recent years. Mainly preserved in the monasteries of Andalusia and Extremadura, these paintings were for a long time inaccessible to the public, and their spiritual figures and monastic asceticism make it difficult to classify them according to current per­ceptions of baroque style. An extraordinary public interest in the painters of the period is suggested by the appearance of many spe­cialist publications as well as numerous exhibitions devoted to these masters during the last twenty years, including Caravaggio, Guercino, Gentileschi, Claude, Murillo, Poussin, Reni, Ribera, Valdes Leal, Velazquez, Vouet, and Zurbaran.

During the course of the seventeenth century, the arts were increasingly used to promote political purposes and either taken into the service of the Counter-Reformation by the Church or adopted by the absolutist courts for the programmatic glorification of the ruler. At the same time, panel painting became a particularly desirable collector's item for noblemen, courtiers, and kings as well as for the bourgeoisie, which was going through a process of emancipation. Even more markedly than during the Renaissance, artistic life was now concentrated in the large centers, either the seats of courts— Madrid and Paris as well as papal Rome—or places of particular economic importance such as the trading cities of Naples and Seville. Nonetheless, the centers of gravity shifted: Florence and Venice, the most important centers of art during the Renaissance, were hardly to play a role in artistic life between 1600 and 1700.

During this time a powerful change was occurring between the various centers of art. Influenced by political and economic factors, the painter's contractual situation changed in individual cities, and many were forced into frequent changes of residence. Caravaggio left Lombardy and went to Rome; from there he traveled to Naples, then to Malta and back again to Naples. The Carracci and many of their pupils moved from Bologna to Rome, some of them returning to their native city. Artemisia Gentileschi was active not only in Rome but also in Florence, Naples, and England. Ribera left Valencia for Rome, and finally settled in Naples. Claude Lorrain, from Lorraine, and Poussin, from Paris, settled in Rome and were active there until the end of their lives. In addition, this period saw an increase in the quantity of exported art, resulting in a lively exchange of works of art between the centers: Poussin painted in Rome for French and Spanish clients, and Ribera in Naples created a number of works for the Spanish nobility and court.

The plentiful surviving information, in addition to the works of art, on the individual painters and their work and on the theory and practice of art as well as the aesthetic values of the seventeenth cen­tury, is mainly derived from archive material. There are also a number of documents which record contemporary views on art and artists. The painter and art historian Giorgio Vasari created a proto­type in 1550 with the first edition of his work on the lives of Italian and particularly Florentine painters, Le vite de' piu eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architetti, which was to be taken up in the course of the following century by a number of authors, some of them artists. Among the outstanding Italian art historians of the seventeenth cen­tury are Giovanni Baglione (Le vite de' pittori, scultori, ed architetti, dal pontificato di Gregorio XIII del 1572 fino a' tempi di Papa Urbano VIII nel 1642, Rome 1642), his successor Giovanni Battista Passeri (Vite de' pittori, scultori ed architetti che anno lavorato in Roma morti dal 1641 fino al 1673, Rome 1642), and the learned librarian and antiquarian of Queen Christina of Sweden, Giovanni Pietro Bellori (Le vite de' pittori, scultori, ed architetti moderni), Rome 1672), as well as the Florentine abbot Filippo Baldinucci (Notizie de' professori di disegno da Cimabue in qua, Rome 1672), from whom we can discover much about the artists who were active in Rome, both indigenous and foreign masters. The painter and lit­erary man Bernardo de Dominici (Vite dei pittori, scultori, ed archi­tetti napoletani, Naples 1742-43) provides detailed information about artistic life in Naples.

The lives and works of Spanish painters are reported in detail by the Seville painter and art historian Francisco Pacheco (El arte de la pintura, Seville 1649), the historian and musician at the court of Philip IV, Lazaro Diaz del Valle (Origen y illustracion del nobilis-simo y real arte de la pintura y dibuxo, 1656-59), and also the painter and art historian Antonio Palomino (El parnaso espaiiol pin-tor esco laureado, Madrid 1724). Finally, French painters are addressed in the writings of Andre Felibien (Entretiens sur les vies et les ouvrages des plus excellents peintres anciens et modernes, Paris 1666-85), and more can be gleaned on this subject from the art-lover and connoisseur Roger de Piles (Abrege de la vie des peintres, Pans 1699).

Biographies of individual artists were still a rarity in the seven­teenth century. Of the artists mentioned here, only one biography is known, a life of Velazquez produced by his pupil Juan de Alfaro (1640-80), long since out of print.


Rome was, of course, the most important center of painting in seventeenth-century Italy. In a nostalgic tone, the historian Giambattista Passeri reports in 1673: 'When Urban VIII became pope it really seemed that the golden age of painting had returned; for he was a pope of friendly disposition and open-minded in nature, and had noble intentions.' Indeed, the history of painting in Rome is primarily the history of the artistic patronage of the popes. This was not only because Italian baroque painting was almost exclu­sively produced in the service of the Church, but also because many artists were summoned to Rome on various commissions by the popes, their nephews and other relatives, and members of families with whom they were on friendly terms.

After the triumph of the Counter-Reformation, the new incum­bents of the Holy See had abandoned their predecessors' dream of world supremacy for the papacy, and now transferred their bid for power to a spiritual realm, to whose wealth the capital city of Rome was to bear witness. They considered themselves the heirs of the Roman emperors and planned to revive the splendor of ancient Rome. The election of Paul V Borghese (1605-21) as pope signified a radical change in the cultural life of Rome. While the pontificates of Sixtus VII and Clement VIII were marked above all by the tenden­cies of the Counter-Reformation, under Paul V, and particularly with his nephew Scipione Borghese, a desire for ostentation and a love of luxury were also to play a significant part in papal schemes. His villa on the Pincio became a meeting place for the literary figures and artists of the city. Each new pontificate during the seventeenth century almost inevitably resulted in the building of a palace or a villa, the foundation of a family chapel in one of the most important churches in Rome, and the establishment of an art collection.

The papal metropolis was thus very attractive, for it promised not only well-paid commissions but also the possibility for an enhance­ment of social rank. A further attraction lay in its overwhelming wealth of superb classical and modern works of art. Rome became the adopted home of many ambitious artists. Every inhabitant of the chair of St. Peter, as soon as he took up his pontificate, began to commission works of art with feverish haste, in order to demonstrate as quickly as possible his wealth and power. With the death of a pope, his family as well as his friends usually fell into disfavor. The fortunes of the busy artists were often of similarly brief duration, since with every new pontificate new families determined the demands made upon them, often striving also to make use of artists from their own home town.

After Pope Julius II had initiated the rebuilding of St. Peter's and its transformation into the foremost church of the Catholic world, during the pontificates of Urban VIII and Alexander VII the comple­tion and decoration of the church became the focus of attention, as did a number of town-planning measures of vast proportions. A high point in the artistic life of Rome was represented by the pontifi­cates of Urban VIII Barberini (1623-44), Innocent X Pamphili (1644-55), and Alexander VII Chigi (1655-67). Urban VIII was only fifty-five years old and in the best of health when he was elected pope. During his reign he employed such artists as Bernini and Pietro da Cortona; the severity of the Counter-Reformation was mit­igated by luxury, and a grandeur and extravagance hitherto unprec­edented. Rome became the most important cultural center of Italy, and offered a rich sphere of activity for painters. There was great demand for paintings for the decoration of churches, private chap­els, and art-lovers' collections, as well as for frescos to adorn the vaults of churches and the ceilings of the many newly built palaces. In about 1600, Annibale Carracci was commissioned to decorate the galleria of Palazzo Farnese. In the 1630s Pietro da Cortona created the frescos for the galleria of Palazzo Barberini and in the 1650s those for the galleria of Palazzo Pamphili. In addition to the popes, there were many clients offering commissions, among them the orders founded in connection with the Counter-Reformation like the Oratorians, Jesuits, and Theatines, which all required new and sumptuous houses of worship. The many new churches, including S. Maria della Pace, the Gesu, S. Ignazio, S. Andrea al Quirinale, and S. Carlo al Corso were supplied with splendid fresco cycles.

The relationship between painter and client was a complex one. In some cases an artist might be regularly employed by a particular client, living in his palace and receiving a monthly salary as well as the customary fees. Thus, we know that Andrea Sacchi lived in the palazzo of Cardinal Antonio Barberini between 1637 and 1640. However, it was more common for a painter to be independent and have his own workshop. If an artist received an important commis­sion, a contract was usually drawn up which included a written record of the agreed extent and destination of the work, its subject, the date by which the work was to be completed, and the fee to be paid. In these cases, the subject was often formulated in very general terms. For example, Urban VIII commissioned an altarpiece for the church of S. Sebastiano showing the martyrdom of St. Sebastian with eight figures; the choice of the eight figures was left to the artist. The fee for the painting was often based on the number of principal figures in the composition, for which many artists had fixed prices. Further, the level of the artist's reputation played a part, so that with increasing fame an artist was able to raise his prices. Thus, Domenichino charged one hundred and thirty ducats per figure in his frescos for Naples cathedral, but Lanfranco is known to have charged only one hundred. Guercino adopted a businesslike attitude towards miserly clients. He wrote to Antonio Ruffo: 'Since my usual fee per figure is one hundred and twenty five ducats and since Your Excellency has set an upper limit of eighty ducats, you will have a good view of only half of each figure.' Apart from com­missioned works, most painters kept a small stock of incomplete pictures which could be shown to visitors and quickly finished as required. Most painters, however, were not rich by any normal stan­dard. Malvasia says of Reni that despite his position as court painter to the pope, he announced on his return to Bologna in 1612 that he was weary of trying to earn a living as a painter and could make money more easily as an art dealer.

The Roman School of Artists

It was from Rome under Annibale Carracci and Caravaggio that the decisive impulses emerged for the development of painting through­out Europe. Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio (1573-1610) after his home town of Caravaggio, came from Lombardy and had received his education in Milan; he arrived in Rome about 1590, spending most of his life and creating his most important works there. Caravaggio's innovations lay in his revolutionary han­dling of his subject matter. He brought secular elements into the rep­resentation of holy lives, practiced a flagrant realism, and was not afraid to portray human ugliness. His heroes are not idealized fig­ures but are often old, sometimes even with dirty feet. His paintings are frequently characterized by a profound darkness from which fig­ures and objects appear under a striking shaft of light. Soon after Caravaggio, a series of Bolognese painters arrived in Rome, where they came to dominate the art scene. Annibale Carracci (1560-1609), of the Carracci family of painters, was summoned to Rome by Cardinal Odoardo Farnese in 1595 to collaborate on the decoration of Palazzo Farnese. His most important work was the ceiling fresco of the Galleria Farnese, on which he collaborated with his brothers Agostino and Domenichino. The Carracci's aim was the revival of the art of Raphael, whose work had sunk into oblivion during the mannerist period. Gian Lorenzo Bernini's observation of 1665 confirms that Carracci had succeeded in this, for he 'had com­bined everything that was good: the graceful line of Raphael, the precise anatomy of Michelangelo, the distinguished manner of Correggio, the coloring of Titian, and the imagination of Giulio Romano and Mantegna.'

Domenico Zampieri, known as Domenichino (1581-1641), also came from Bologna. He worked with Annibale Carracci on the painting of the Galleria Farnese, creating not only a number of images of saints, but also the frescos of S. Andrea della Valle. Domenichino is regarded as the earliest representative of a consis­tent classicism in Rome. His clear simple compositions enhance the lucidity and accessibility of his style, which is marked by a gentle, serene intimacy. Guido Reni (1575-1642), another representative of the Bolognese school, introduced a slightly different dimension to his work. After studying under the Flemish painter Denys Calvaert he entered the Carracci's academy in 1594. His life in Bologna was interrupted by several stays in Rome between 1600 and 1603, 1607 and 1611, and 1612 and 1614. In Rome, Reni was employed by Scipione Borghese on a fixed salary. The emotional content of his artistic compositions and his achievements as a colorist decisively shaped the genres of monumental religious painting, private devo­tional pictures, and history painting. Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Guercino (1591-1666), born at Cento near Bologna, was mainly active there and, after Reni's death, in Bologna. In 1621 he was summoned to Rome by Gregory XV and stayed there only for the two-year duration of his pontificate. His most significant work here, apart from altarpieces, was the decoration of the Casino Ludovisi. Representing pronounced movement and foreshortening in his figures, Guercino filled his work with a dramatic quality which anticipated the high baroque manner of the work of Pietro da Cortona. His model was not classical antiquity; rather, he tended towards a picturesque style that emphasized color.

Pietro da Cortona (1596-1669) came to Rome in 1613, and was active there as a painter and architect. In addition to paintings, he created a number of frescos, including those decorating the gigantic vault of the ceremonial hall of Palazzo Barberini (1633-39) and the frescos in S. Maria in Vallicella (1633-39). Pietro's multi-figured compositions imbued with pathos established his reputation as the founder of Roman high baroque. A quite different position was taken up by Andrea Sacchi (1599-1661) who represented instead a strict classicism. He studied in Rome under Francesco Albani, went to Bologna in 1616, and from 1621 until his death in Rome worked chiefly for the Barberini. Sacchi produced several altar paintings as well as frescoes. His fresco Divine Providence, painted in 1630 in Palazzo Barberini, excited the greatest admiration. Sacchi avoided all exaggeration of action and gesture and instead preferred rigidity of form and the clear closed structure as expressions of ceremonial calm. His works lean towards classical Roman art and towards Raphael.

By the seventeenth century Rome was already considered a mecca for artists from all over Europe. Inevitably, therefore, many painters attempted to make their fortunes in the Eternal City. Among them, the Bamboccianti came from the Netherlands and Flanders; their founder was Pieter van Laer (1599-1642). They represent an artistic movement which effectively introduced a new genre into Roman painting, a naturalistic depiction of contemporary street and inn scenes which avoided any attempt at idealization. The name of the group derived from van Laer, whom his friends called Bamboccio (the word for a deformed puppet or simpleton) because of his pecu­liar physical appearance.

The Bamboccianti had good connections with the French painters in Rome, among whom Poussin and Claude were the most famous. Nicolas Poussin (1594-1664) came from a small village in Normandy and went to Paris, where he worked with Philippe de Champaigne. In 1624 he came to Rome where he was to spend most of his life. Here the master developed an enthusiasm for classical art which led to the creation of a number of small mythological paintings for private clients. After 1648 Poussin discovered landscape painting and produced a series of works in which he skillfully achieved the illusion of depth through the use of color, inserting figures only as accessories. Claude Gellee, known as Claude (1600-82), was also to settle in Rome. He is considered one of the first landscape painters in the modern sense. His sensitively composed subjects are evidence of the artist's confrontation with nature. Often real places are not rep­resented in his works, but grandiose classical landscapes into which Roman or high renaissance buildings are harmoniously set and which become the scenes of meetings between gods and mortals. The German art historian Sandrart, however, observed a certain lack of skill in the painter's rendering of figures in such scenes. Claude prepared drawings after his paintings which were brought together in the Liber Veritatis in order to protect his copyright and guard against unauthorized copies.

Among the most important painters active in Rome in the second half of the century were Carlo Maratta and Fra Andrea Pozzo. Carlo Maratta (1625—1713) was a pupil of Sacchi in Rome and is consid­ered the chief representative of the classicist element in Roman painting during this period. Maratta mainly produced altar paint­ings and religious-historical works, but also distinguished himself as a portrait painter. Fra Andrea Pozzo (1624-1709) from Como was active'in Milan and in 1665 became a Jesuit lay brother. He special­ized in architectural painting in perspective and in 1681, through the agency of Maratta, he was summoned to Rome, where he created his most important work in S. Ignazio.

In the Rome of the seventeenth century, then, no absolutely coherent artistic school can be identified; rather, a number of signifi­cant trends can be detected. Among these stylistic tendencies is the academicism of the Carracci and their followers, whose principal aim was to recapture the classical beauty and harmony of the Renaissance. On the other hand the realism of Caravaggio, whose critics accused him of a lack of invenzione, disegno, decoro, and scienzia, found many followers in Italy as well as in Spain and the Netherlands. The middle of the century witnessed both the exhilar­ating high baroque painting of Pietro da Cortona and the severe classicism of Sacchi. Bellori, in his Idea del pittore, scultore, et archi-tetto published in 1664, established a programmatic theory based on the official tenets of classicism. One of his basic principles was that it was the artist's duty to select the most beautiful and perfect elements from nature and to create from these a perfect form which would actually surpass the imperfections of the natural world. Religious themes dominated the art of the century, for the Counter-Reformation insisted that the primary responsibility of art was to transmit the articles of faith in a convincing manner to every observer. Mythological representations were equally widespread, and it is notable here that, in contrast to France and Spain, no state allegories were created even among representatives of the leading families. The mythological cycles in the galleries of the palaces are restricted to Roman classical antiquity, and any suggestion of a direct link between this period and the current era was avoided.

The Academies

The second academy on Italian soil was founded in Rome in parallel to the various medieval guilds to which the artists belonged. In 1564 Vasari had founded the Accademia del Disegno in Florence, and in 1593, on the initiative of Federico Zuccari, the Accademia di San Luca was established in the papal metropolis. In its statutes the edu­cation of artists was described as its chief aim. This meant not only practical instruction and life drawing, but also lectures and discus­sions on art theory. The Academy was directed by the elected presi­dent, the principe, an artist member, who was advised by consiglieri. The Accademia also achieved great influence in the world of art pol­itics, for all public commissions now came under its control. Its members included not only native but also foreign artists such as Velazquez, Poussin, and Claude. In the 1630s the Accademia was the scene of the famous controversy between Pietro da Cortona and Sacchi, who argued about the manner in which great paintings achieved their effects. Cortona stressed the advantage of lavish com­positions with a number of figures in which the main theme was illustrated by subsidiary episodes in order to establish a richness of content and great splendor. He compared history painting with the epic poem in which the main theme was also extended by means of decorative sub-themes. By contrast, Sacchi's ideal painting was like a tragedy, the impact of which was enhanced by the smallest possible number of characters. He argued that a large number of figures and subsidiary groups achieved only a confusione, rather than a trans­mission of the emotions and feelings of the observer. Sacchi reproached Cortona with losing himself in magnificence, instead of occupying himself with more substantial matters. The dispute between these two men, who were both of the highest reputation, is in some respects representative of the different concepts of the high baroque displayed in Roman painting.

In addition to the Accademia di San Luca, Rome also had the Academie de France, founded in 1666 at the initiative of Colbert and intended as a branch of the Paris Academy. The aim of this academy was to enable gifted students at the Paris Academie, by means of a four-year grant, to pursue their education and enjoy life in Rome without financial worries. By way of recompense, it was expected that they should produce copies of the most valuable works of art there for the French court.

One of Caravaggio's most important commissions in Rome was the decoration of the Cerasi chapel in the church of S. Maria del Popolo. In 1600 he entered into a contract which committed him to complete two paintings for the family chapel of Tiberio Cerasi, Clement VII's treasurer, on the subjects of the conver­sion of St. Paul and the crucifixion of St. Peter, two themes already treated by Michelangelo in the Cappella Paolina in the Vatican. As in other cases, Caravaggio had to prepare a second version of both paintings on the insistence of the dissatis­fied clients.

The painter has chosen the moment when Saul, who, as governor of Damas­cus, had led the persecution of the Christians, falls from his horse and is blinded, struck down by an overpowering apparition of Christ. Saul lies supine on the ground, his arms outstretched, his eyes closed; his body, severely foreshortened and projecting into the background of the painting, glows with heavenly light. Only Saul's horse and servant are witnesses to the event. In a very dark, unrecognizable setting, a harsh light picks out the figure of Saul, the body of the horse, and the face of the servant. The drama of the event is enhanced not only by the silhouette-like composition, in which the horse fills almost the entire picture, but also by the handling of the light. Caravaggio gives no indication of a miracle, excluding any rep­resentation of a divine manifestation which is often seen in other paintings with this theme. Divine power is replaced by the powerful shaft of light. Neither horse nor servant is aware of the significance of the event; the apparition of Christ takes place only within the chosen disciple. The pendant illustrating the crucifix­ion of St. Peter shows Peter being fastened to the cross by three of Nero's henchmen. The three men employ tremendous force in fixing the apostle to the cross. While only one of the men's features can be clearly seen, both the face and body of the saint are in full view. Peter is represented with raised head, as a vigorous man who accepts his martyrdom in full conscious­ness. As in the Conversion of St. Paul, Caravaggio restricts the events to the four main figures and has no need of additional witnesses. He heightens the drama with a composition in which the shape of the cross, projecting across the image, is repeated in the four human figures which stand out from the surrounding darkness under a stark shaft of light. The observer is not drawn into the events represented in the painting; the figures are entirely preoccupied with their activity or with suffer­ing, and not a glance or a gesture is directed outwards.

In these two paintings for the Cerasi chapel, Caravaggio emphasizes the dis­crepancy between the earthly and the spiritual and mystic spheres, showing the saint's unconscious state in the Con­version of St. Paul, or execution in the Crucifixion of St. Peter, without reinforc­ing our sense of the saint's own religious experience through the conventional depiction of a visible heavenly apparition.

The ceiling fresco of the Galleria Farnese, commissioned by Cardinal Odoardo Farnese, is considered the masterpiece of the Bolognese artist Annibale Carracci; he executed it with the assistance of Agostino Carracci and Domenichino. The Galleria is a space twenty meters long and six meters wide and is sur­mounted by a semicircular barrel vault in which the Farnese sculpture collection was stored. The essential idea behind the scheme was the glorification of the house of Farnese through mythological associa­tion. The cardinal's father, Alessandro Farnese, commander to Philip 11, and later governor of the Netherlands, had established a high reputation and fame for the house of Farnese.

Carracci divided the barrel vault lengthwise into three distinct areas. The lateral panels contain a number of smaller mythological scenes, while the four cor­ners contain personifications of the vir­tues and the two large paintings on the front sides show scenes from the Perseus legend. The five monumental paintings in the central panels in the vertex of the ceil­ing are particularly important. In the center can be seen the triumphal proces­sion of Bacchus and Ariadne and next to them are scenes showing Pan and Diana, and Paris and Mercury; finally in the last sections are representations of Ganymede and Hyacinthus. The triumphal proces­sion shows the couple sitting in a chariot, accompanied by joyful nymphs and satyrs. Bacchus, the god of wine and ecstasy, had rescued Ariadne after Theseus had abandoned her on Naxos.

The frescos impressively document Carracci's main artistic aim: to reclaim the naturalistic ideal of renaissance art. Figures of Atlas and herms painted as stone-gray statues support the central section. Real and painted architectural and sculptural elements, garlands, car­touches, and medallions stand beside quadri riportati, tondi, and unframed fig­urative scenes which take place behind the caryatids and nudes. In many areas of the design there is a deceptive element to the closure of spaces, for example at the corners, where the whole is open to the heavens. Often there is no clear dividing line between architecture and painting.

In spite of this complex system of ornament, the images on the ceiling remain easily 'readable' due to the stepped axial symmetry of the scheme beginning at the center. The mythological scenes show either the loves of the gods or love between gods and chosen mor­tals. The central theme of the paintings is the elevation and transformation of the human soul through the power of divine love.

Domenichino and Reni were both Bolognese pupils of Annibale Carracci who came to work in Rome. However, their relationship to history painting was quite different. Their varying aims in the representation of a historia are exemplified by the frescos in the Oratorio di S. Andrea, which is part of the church of S. Gregorio Magno. Here, in a commission of 1609 from Cardinal Scipione Borghese, they created on opposite walls frescos of equal size showing scenes from the life of St. Andrew. Andrew was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, who, according to legend, preached the gospel in Asia Minor and founded the church of Byzantium. He confronted Aegeas, governor of Patras, but could not convert him to Christianity in a disputation. Aegeas subsequently had him scourged and sentenced him to a slow death on an X-shaped cross. Hanging on the cross for two days before he died, Andrew preached to the people and died enveloped in heavenly light. The governor, as he mocked Andrew, was struck with madness and also died.

The two painters depict different stages in the saint's martyrdom. Domeni-chino's fresco shows the scene of the scourging of St. Andrew, while Reni's illustrates the saint on his way to his cru­cifixion at the moment when he catches sight of the cross and—remembering Christ—falls to his knees. Domenichino's painting is clearly structured. The action takes place in front of a Roman temple. On the right-hand side of the painting the saint is being scourged by four torturers, while on the left a group of women fear­fully observe the proceedings; more observers are visible in the background and the governor is seen seated on his throne between the two groups. Domenichino sets the scene in the mar-tyrium of Achaea and its architecture serves to frame the event. The observer of the painting is also kept at a distance by the rear view of the soldier who is restraining the women hurrying to the rescue.

Guido Reni, on the other hand, com­poses his scene with a number of figures in a turbulent landscape. In the center, Andrew, surrounded by three henchmen, falls to his knees and raises his hands in prayer in the direction of the cross which can he seen on a hill in the distance. The procession accompanying the saint— Roman soldiers, women with children and men as observers—is thus brought to a disorderly halt. Yet on closer examina­tion it is possible to discern the way in which the various groups of people are set in relation to each other through looks and gestures. The artist draws the observer into the scene: the line of accompanying figures is so broken up in the center that it appears to allow partici­pation in the main events.

The two paintings by Reni and Domenichino, positioned opposite each other in this manner, gave rise to heated discussion. Bellori speaks of a duello between the two artists, which can be summed up by the so-called vecchiarella [old woman] anecdote. According to this story, Annibale Carracci, asked which of the works of his two pupils he preferred, responded that he himself had understood the essential difference between the frescos because of the behavior and commentary of an old peasant woman or vecchierella. This woman—so Bellori relates—was vis­iting the Oratorio with her nephew, and first gazed at Reni's fresco attentively and presumably with approval, but then turned away from it without a word. But in front of Domeni-chino's Scourging she had shown a lively interest and had explained to the child all the details of the events shown. According to this account, preference was not to be given to Reni's work, in which there was nothing to 'read.' On the other hand, even a person unable to read, like the old woman, could 'read' Domenichino's painting, so that the observation of the painting replaced the reading of a text.

Reni's work appeared to provide his opponents with evidence that the artist was not capable of the maniera grande [grand manner] essential to history paint­ing. Despite these critical voices, how­ever, Reni's work soon came to be valued by many as a masterpiece of baroque painting. The art of the following years was to demonstrate the extent of the influence of Reni's work in general. The critique of the two representations of St. Andrew and the vecchiarella anecdote graphically illustrate the two disparate artistic styles that were established during the seventeenth century—the storia, invenzione, and istruire as sug­gested by Reni's painting on the one hand, and the grazia, delicatezza, and piacere demonstrated by Domenichino's design on the other.

The Massacre of the Innocents at Bethlehem is one of the works already hailed as a masterpiece by Reni's contem­poraries; it was painted towards the end of his second stay in Rome, from 1607 to 1611, shortly before his return to Bolo­gna. Reni created the painting for the Bolognese Bero family for a chapel in the church of S. Domenico in Bologna. The scene shows the episode in the gospel of St. Matthew (2, 1-19), which records that Herod, after he had learnt from the Magi of the East of the 'newborn King of the Jews' in Bethlehem, and had failed to find the child, ordered that all children under the age of two in Bethlehem should be murdered.

Reni reduces the event to its essential elements and portrays it in an almost sil­houetted style. The principle of the com­position is an inverted triangle, the vertex of which is balanced on the lower edge of the painting. At the same time, the two halves are structured with strict symme­try. Each figure in the left-hand half of the painting corresponds to one on the right. In the upper zone, two figures on each side—two women and two soldiers, represented in pairs, in each case one facing forward, one turned away—are contrasted by their gestures. The somber architecture is effectively set-off by the light which floods the background. The focus of the scene is the anguish of the women. While only two soldiers are observed pursuing their brutal task, extensive space is devoted to the suffering of the six women with their pathetic des­perate gestures, almost fainting as they try to protect their children from death.

The only ceiling fresco created by Guercino is this Aurora with the person­ifications of Fama, Honor, and Virtus for the Casino of Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi on the Pincio. The low vault of the Casino was illusionistically raised by the painter Agostino Tassi through painted 'mock' architecture, with extremely foreshort­ened columns. Guercino takes this factor into account and foreshortens the figure of Aurora. In her golden chariot, the god­dess, accompanied by putti with flowers and birds, sweeps through the firmament, allowing the dawn to break. Alongside this procession can be seen two land­scapes: on one side a realistic view of the Casino, and on the other silvery-green poplars with romping flying putti above. Aurora, scattering flowers and driving away the night, passes the seated, bearded Tithonus. In front of her, emerging from the clouds, are the three Horae, the female guardians of heaven. In his dra­matic representation of the scene, set before a sky which opens upwards out of the illusory architecture, the artist's work appears to anticipate the baroque style of Pietro da Cortona. Domenichino was commissioned to pro­duce the painting The Retinue of Diana Shooting Birds by Cardinal Aldobrandini. However, the work later ended up in the collection of Scipione Borghese, who wanted at all costs to own it himself.

A shooting contest is in progress here, with Diana's nymphs shooting at a bird tethered to a perch. Three female archers, seen to the left in the picture, have each already completed their master shots; one arrow is stuck in the post, the second has loosened the binding, and the third has hit the bird as it flies away. Diana, acting as judge of the contest, holds in her right hand a golden circlet which is to be bestowed on the victorious archer, seen left, with the upper part of her body exposed.

Domenichino relies here on Virgil's description in book V of the Aeneid where he reports on the championships held by Aeneas, exiled to Sicily with the vanquished Trojans, in honor of his father Anchises. In the center of the painting stands the tall upright figure of the goddess Diana, around whom the remaining figures are arranged in an oval formation. The onlooker hidden in a bush to the right, holding his forefinger to his lips as an indication of silence, has recently been identified as Actaeon. This skillful hunter, according to Ovid, had watched the goddess of hunting while she was bathing, and as a punishment had been transformed into a stag, which was torn to pieces by the hounds. The iden­tification is supported not only by the naked nymphs in the foreground but also by the two hounds, one of which is seen leaping in the direction of his owner, the hidden onlooker. The role of the observer of the painting is thus equated in a way with that of Actaeon, and becomes that of a voyeur and unwanted onlooker.

The works of Pietro da Cortona and Andrea Sacchi also demonstrate the dif­ferent ways in which great paintings achieve their effects. While Pietro favored the multi-figure history painting, with main and subsidiary action, Sacchi argued for fewer figures in order to achieve a more concentrated impact. Pietro's painting was executed on the commission of Cardinal Sacchetti, whose choice of theme was intended to portray his family as established, although it had in fact only recently settled in Rome. This painting was produced as a companion to Pietro's Sacrifice of Polyxena.

The theme of the rape of the Sabine women is based on the legend of Romulus, the founder of Rome; perceiv­ing the great surplus of male citizens, he invited the Sabines to view the new city and take part in a great banquet. When the visitors least expected it, the Romans fell upon the wives and daughters of the Sabines and put the men to flight.

Pietro places the events in front of a temple of Neptune, where he distributes various scenes of raptus, seizure. In the foreground, three couples are shown in groups on a proscenium. For the physical poses of the group on the right Pietro takes as his model Bernini's Pluto and Proserpine. In its sculptural execution, the arrangement of the main groups, and the flat background which looks like a stage set Cortona's work is reminiscent of the relief compositions of the sixteenth century. Its artistic style and the use of impressive color effects, which was in fact criticized by contemporary observers as a manifestation of decadence, stands in contrast to the classical aesthetic of Andrea Sacchi.

Sacchi's rather different approach becomes clear in the monumental paint­ing the Vision of St. Romuald for the high altar of the church of S. Romualdo in Rome, since demolished. St. Romuald first lived as a Benedictine monk at Ravenna, then spent the rest of his life in France and Italy as a hermit, founding many eremitic settlements, including the most important, Camaldoli. In Sacchi's painting St. Romuald is shown in a white habit with a walking-stick, sitting in a landscape with three brothers of his order. With his left hand the saint points towards the upper left portion of the painting, where his vision is graphically portrayed. Like Jacob before him, Romuald sees a ladder, upon which his monks, dressed in white, ascend to heaven where the future monastery can be seen.

Sacchi emphasizes the supernatural event by contrasting the dark, almost threatening landscape, in which the trunk and branches of a tree frame two sides of the painting, casting a strong shadow on the gleaming white garments of the monks, with the vision, which is depicted in very light and delicate tones.

Among the few genre paintings produced in Rome during the seventeenth century were the works of the Bambocdanti. In Flagellants Pieter van Laer depicts a modest Roman square in front of a church with varied scenes of everyday life. Among the groups of different people such as churchgoers, passers-by, children playing, fruit-sellers, and kneeling pilgrims, two barefooted figures in white hooded man­tles stand out. These are flagellants, Christians who scourged themselves with whips in penance for their sins.

Flagellation, which had already been condemned by the Church during the middle ages and had in fact almost disap­peared by about 1400, experienced a revi­val in the seventeenth century among certain groups of disciplinati. The paint­ing illustrates several forms of religious devotion which were propagated by brotherhoods and other religious associa­tions. Piety is denoted by the praying pil­grims, self-chastisement by the flagellants, and charity by the alms-giving passers-by. In the background, in the interior of a room fish are being sold, possibly an allu­sion to Christ. The numerous references to the austere, self-denying aspect of the Christian faith suggest that the painting should be interpreted as an allegory of the period of fasting.

Diego Velazquez stayed twice in Rome and these periods were of exceptional importance for the painter's artistic development. During the course of his second visit, from 1649 to 1651, he pro­duced one of his masterpieces, the Portrait of Pope Innocent X. This is one of few painted portraits of the pope, although several sculptural portraits by Algardi and Bernini have been preserved.

Little is known about the exact circumstances of its creation. It may well have been a commissioned work, for Velazquez' fame as an outstanding por­traitist had long since reached Rome. But the painter might also have offered to portray Innocent X, whom he already knew from his time as nuncio to the court of Philip IV. Velazquez had a very specific interest in obtaining the favor of the pope: he had been trying for years to achieve entry into the nobility through reception into the order of Santiago, and hoped to gain the goodwill of Innocent X by painting a successful portrait. The art historian Palomino reports that Velazquez, practicing the portrayal of a head from life, first created a portrait of his assistant Juan de Pareja, who had accom­panied him. Only later did he start work on the papal likeness.

Velazquez here falls back on the tra­dition established by Raphael for the three-quarter portrait of a seated figure, which Titian also employed in his por­trait of Pope Paul III. The distinctly unflattering rendering of the features of Innocent X, described by his contempo­raries as unattractive and disagreeably delineated, is said to have induced the subject to exclaim: 'Troppo vero!' [Too true!] In this portrait, Velazquez dispenses with such elements as room set­tings and concentrates entirely on the psychological moment, treating the facial features and hands of the subject with particular care. The coloring is domi­nated by various shades of red. The loose brushwork, which requires the painting to be observed from a distance, is Velazquez' tribute to the Venetians and above all to Titian. The portrait met with strong approval and resulted in the admission of the painter to the Accademia di San Luca.

The theme of these images is the last phase of the wanderings of Aeneas, who, after the destruction of Troy, found him­self in Italy with his companions, where he was to conquer Latium and become the ancestor of the gens Julia. All the scenes here, which are of different pro­portions according to significance and content, are connected with this historic event.

Pietro structures the ceiling into sev­eral adjoining areas, with boundaries that become slightly blurred; the scenes are partly distinguished as quadri ripor-tati, images within an image. A narrative thread leads the observer from scene to scene, and the large square painting in the central field of the vault showing Jupiter reconciling the disputing god­desses Juno and Venus plays a central role. Juno had taken the side of the Greeks in the Trojan war, while Venus, Aeneas' mother, protectively accompa­nied the hero on his wanderings, finally leading him to Latium. Jupiter reconciled the goddesses so that the outcome of the battle against Turnus, king of the Rutulians, would be victorious for Aeneas. Above Jupiter, Fate is personified by a female figure holding the scales of Justice. Another painting shows the suc­cessful landing of Aeneas and his cheer­ing companions at the mouth of the Tiber, where the river god welcomes them. The episodes which take place on earth are shown at the foot of the vault, and, in contrast to the heavenly scenes, are not framed. Thus open, silhouette-like compositions are created, achieving the illusion of a spatial continuum and breaking through the boundaries of the ceiling.

Pietro's frescos are based on a differ­entiated iconographical scheme: Aeneas' journey is seen as an itinerarium mentis, a journey of the soul or process of psychological development, which leads from the vita voluptuosa (Troy in flames) through the vita activa (Carthage) to the goal, the vita contemplativa (Rome). Interpreted in a mystical spirit, the Aeneid, according to the commentary of Cristoforo Landino, represents the tri­umph of the Church and the papacy, which saw itself as the legitimate succes­sor to the imperium Romanum.

Another direction in painting is repre­sented by the two French artists living in Rome, Poussin and Claude Lorrain. Poussin's Kingdom of Flora is among his early works; it was created in Rome, commissioned by the Sicilian nobleman Fabrizio Valguarnera.

The flower goddess Flora is shown dancing at the center of a charming land­scape, surrounded by recumbent and standing figures. These are Greek heroes and demigods who met their deaths through various misfortunes and were turned into flowers. In front of a herm of the god of nature stands Ajax, the Greek; after the armor of Achilles was not given to him but to Odysseus, he fell in disappointment on his sword. Hyacinths grew where his blood flowed on to the ground. To his right, kneeling, is Narcissus, who was so passionately in love with his reflection that he was turned into a nar­cissus. Opposite him sits the enamored nymph Echo; despised by Narcissus, she pined away to a shadow. Behind her is Clythia, the jealous lover of Apollo, who became a sunflower. At the front, to the right, recline Krokos and Smilax, a pair of lovers who changed into a saffron plant and a twining plant similar to the convolvulus. Behind them is Adonis, the lover of Venus who was killed by a wild boar, from whose bleeding wounds the Adonis rose grew. Beside him, to his left, stands Hyacinthus, Apollo's lover, whom he accidentally killed with a discus, and from whose blood the hyacinth then bloomed. Both Adonis and Hyacinthus are pointing to their wounds. In a higher realm, Apollo, the sun god, drives his chariot below the roof of the vault of heaven.

The lively, delicate coloring, a uni­form light which unites the whole scene, the harmonious dance-like movements of the figures, the well-balanced composi­tion, and the ornamental enlivenment of the surface by means of rhythmically connected, clearly accentuated( forms all provide evidence of Poussin's debt to classical antiquity. The arrangement of the figures, which appear on a narrow area in the foreground, is intended to give a natural impression and at the same time to bring out the role of each individual figure. The only movement in the dis­tance is denoted by the glance of Clythia, who is watching Apollo's progress in the firmament.

In choosing his theme, Poussin has relied both on Ovid's Metamorphoses and on a poem by Giambattista Marino. The painting illustrates the idea that life as a whole is eternal, but its forms are caught up in a process of constant change.

Quite different intentions lie behind the painting of Pyramus and Thisbe created by Poussin for his friend, the scholar and antiquarian Cassiano dal Pozzo. It was produced at a time when the artist was predominantly concerned with the prob­lems of landscape painting. This is one of few large-format works by this artist. Poussin places the story of Pyramus and Thisbe in a broad impressive hilly and stormy landscape which extends widely into the background, with a lake in the center and a town on the right.

The story of the two unhappy Baby­lonian lovers is derived from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Pyramus had arranged to meet Thisbe by a spring in order to run away with her as their fathers had forbid­den their relationship. Pyramus arrived late, when Thisbe, waiting at the spring, had already taken flight from a thirsty lioness. In fleeing she dropped her veil, which the lioness tore, her jaws still bloody from tearing the flesh of an ox. When Pyramus reached the scene, finding the tracks of a lion and the torn veil, he assumed that his beloved was dead, and in his guilt fell despairingly on his sword. Thisbe, finding her lover dying, also took her own life. Poussin portrays the moment of the greatest desperation of the two lovers: Thisbe is seen in the foreground, hurrying with frantic gestures towards Pyramus as he lies dying.

Nature participates in the dramatic events: a wild storm is raging, with a fierce gale and bolts of lightning, while the tempestuous sky breaks up in a narrow strip to the left. Dominating the tragic event, which takes place almost casually in the foreground, is the land­scape, marked by the outbreak of elemen­tal natural forces. By his own admission, Poussin was primarily concerned here with the mastery of the artistic problems associated with the depiction of a stormy landscape, and only secondarily with the tragic fate of the two lovers. The central idea of the painting is the helplessness of humanity against the capricious power of Fortuna.

Claude produced the Embarkation of St. Ursula in Rome for Cardinal Poli. According to legend, Ursula, the daugh­ter of the Christian king of Brittany, had promised her hand to Aetherius, the son of the king of England, on condition that he convert to the Christian faith within three years. In the meantime, she traveled from England to Rome with several thou­sand virgins, so that they could be bap­tized there. In Rome, Ursula learned that she was to go to Cologne as a martyr. After being received by Pope Cyriacus in Rome, the saint, with eleven thousand virgins, left for Cologne, where the group was attacked by Attila the Hun and most of them killed. As the only survivor, Ursula was finally killed by an arrow shot by Attila, whom she had rejected.

Here Claude shows the saint with her companions on their departure from the harbor of Rome. The banner with the red cross and the arrow on a red ground in the hands of St. Ursula are references to her impending martyrdom.

Claude's Harbor at Sunrise in Munich is the last of three versions of this subject by the artist. An impressive sunrise by the sea is set off by a seaport with classical ruins; the portico on the right is reminiscent of the Arch of Titus in Rome. In the fore­ground, several laborers are engaged in transporting bales of goods from land to a barge, while others are struggling with heavy planks. A group of people on the shore is observing the activity, and another group is standing within the triumphal arch. Mythological figures are replaced here by realistic figures going about their business in an everyday scene. The busy activity of the seaport does not, however, detract from the atmosphere of calm.

Neither the time nor setting for the scene is identifiable, and there is thus something timeless about the whole piece. Clearly the painter is primarily concerned with the illustration of a natural phenome­non, the sunrise, which penetrates the veil of the early morning mist over the sea.

Landscape with Noli Me Tangere is among Claude's late works. It shows the meeting of St. Mary Magdalene with Christ, as described in the gospel of St. John. When Mary Magdalene went to the tomb of Christ to anoint his body, she found the tomb empty. Turning, she saw Christ with a spade, and believing him to be the gardener asked if he had taken away the body. Then Christ made himself known to her and said: 'Do not touch me' (Noli me tangere).

The meeting is set in a wide land­scape, opening out into the background. Claude designates the garden with Christ and the kneeling Magdalene, who has a jar of ointment, as a holy place by the wooden fence which separates it from the rest of the landscape. The mountain on the right is identified as Golgotha by the three crosses. The gentle morning light which appears behind the figure of Christ has been interpreted as a reference to the Resurrection. In the background, the view opens out to the city of Jerusalem, still veiled by early morning mist, and behind it the immediately adjoining coastline. The landscape, with its excep­tionally fine nuances and richly atmos­pheric effects, and Claude's ability to transform observed natural phenomena into the most delicate values of light and color, suggest an intensive study of nature.

Carlo Maratta painted the Death of St. Francis Xavier for the altar of the right transept of the Gesu. St. Francis Xavier, one of the chief saints of the Jesuit order, joined Ignatius Loyola as early as 1533 and was active as a missionary in Asia, particularly in Goa, Japan, and China. In 1619 he was beatified and in 1662 can­onized.

Maratta's painting, together with another by Gaulli for S. Andrea al Quirinale, is among the first images of the saint. Maratta shows the death of Francis Xavier, who according to legend died on the island of Shangchwan; he is totally abandoned, but comforted by angels.

The painting is divided into two areas. In the lower part Maratta shows the saint lying on the point of death sur­rounded by several people. In the upper part a number of angels attend the missionary's death, perhaps in expecta­tion of his ascension to heaven. The pres­ence of the figure of an Indian refers to Francis Xavier's missionary activity in general, and specifically to Goa; he is intended as an individual attribute of the saint, and here raises his hands in prayer at the sight of his death.

In Maratta's work (he was a pupil of Sacchi), the emphasis is on classical com­positions with few figures and impressive gestures, and with particular value laid upon the three-dimensional quality of the bodies.

Fra Andrea Pozzo was summoned to Rome to create the ceiling paintings for S. Ignazio, the largest Jesuit church in the city after the Gesu. These are the frescos in the apse and a monumental fresco in the barrel vault above the nave, seventeen meters wide and thirty-six meters long. While the apse contains scenes from the life of St. Ignatius, the founder of the order of the Society of Jesus, the ceiling is dedicated to his apotheosis.

The content of the ceiling fresco, Allegory of the Missionary Work of the Jesuits, relates to one of Christ's sayings (Luke 12, 49). In the center of the picture hovers the Holy Trinity, from which a ray of light passes to St. Ignatius, who is borne on clouds by angels. The ray divides into four beams which fall on the four continents known at the time which are represented on the highest level of the trompe-l'oeil architecture. The divine fire is thus passed from Christ to Ignatius, who carries it to all parts of the world. Further Jesuit saints, placed closer to or further away from Ignatius according to rank, as well as a great number of pray­ing devotees, populate the heavens. The personifications of the continents, trans­figured, turn towards the saint, for the efforts of the Jesuit orders to convert heathens have freed them from heresy and idol-worship. Real architectural ele­ments blend into painted architecture, while the barrel-vaulted ceiling is trans­formed by the fresco into a dome flooded with light.

The artist negates the boundaries between the actual space of the church and the painted heavens so ingeniously that it is almost impossible to see how he has achieved it. Pozzo himself indicated with a marble panel in the center of the nave the position to be taken up by the observer who wished to take in the cen­tral perspective of the construction of the painted trompe-l'oeil architecture.


The kingdom of Naples and Sicily was ruled by viceroys under the Habsburg empire between 1516 and 1700. During the Renaissance, Naples had little importance as an art center and produced no paint­ing of European standard. In the seventeenth century, however, things changed when the city became not only one of the leading cul­tural and commercial centers of Europe, but also the major Mediterranean port. It was the largest city of Europe apart from Paris at the beginning of the seventeenth century; with a population of 450,000 it was three times the size of Rome. The viceroy as well as a number of noblemen and well-to-do merchants led a luxurious existence. Several palaces were built for the court, and streets and squares were widened. In addition to this wealth, Naples was also a vibrant urban center. As a result of dense population, it was marked by social inequalities and further distinguished by great popular piety—towards the end of the century there were more than five hundred churches. It was described as a fascinating mixture otpaura e meraviglia [fear and wonder].

The history of the city in the seventeenth century is marked by a number of catastrophic events. For a start, in 1624 Naples was hit by famine and in 1631 by an eruption of Vesuvius. Several years later, after the tax on fish and the price of bread had been raised by the viceroy, the Duke of Arcos, a rebellion broke out led by the fishseller Masaniello. At first the uprising was not directed against the Spanish rulers, but after Masaniello's murder, Naples declared itself an inde­pendent republic, a rebellion which was, however, immediately crushed by the Spaniards. A further disaster was the plague epidemic of 1656 which reduced the city's population by half.

The most important clients for artists, apart from the Church and the religious orders, were the viceroys, the Spanish and local nobility at the court, the major landowners such as the Colonna, Maddaloni, and Montleone, and also the merchant nobility. But despite the con­centration of wealth and power in Naples, the sort of artistic patron­age of the kind created by the popes in Rome was never really established here. The viceroys not only acquired paintings for their own collections but were also required by the Spanish king to buy works for him. Thus they obtained for Philip IV a great number of paintings by Claude Lorrain, Poussin, Lanfranco, and Ribera. The Count of Monterrey, viceroy from 1631 to 1637, owned a large art collection. On his return to Spain he took with him forty shiploads of paintings and classical sculptures. The Marquis of Carpio, vice­roy from 1683 to 1687, had some thousand paintings. Another important patron of the arts was the Flemish merchant Gaspar Roomer, whose outstanding picture gallery included a number of works by Ribera. Nevertheless it was primarily the churches, mon­asteries, and brotherhoods which supplied the most important com­missions to artists. A major contract for Caravaggio, the altarpiece The Seven Works of Mercy, came from the charitable association Pio Monte de la Misericordia, a confraternity which had been founded by noblemen and patricians with the principal aim of caring for the poor. The decoration of churches and monasteries involved further important commissions for the painters. Reni and Domenichino were called from Rome to Naples to paint the ceiling of the Cappella del Tesoro of the cathedral. Lanfranco also came from Rome in the mid-1630s to carry out the fresco decoration of the Certosa di San Martino. The Neapolitan painters Luca Giordano and Andrea Vaccaro collaborated on the decoration of the church of S. Maria del Pianto.

Trade connections with other European countries, as well as with Asia and the Spanish rulers, meant that Naples was particularly open to the widest variety of artistic influences. Hardly a single painter of the so-called 'Neapolitan School' actually came from Naples. The city must have been very attractive to artists. New trends like 'Caravaggismo' took hold quickly, and art developed in a number of directions. Some painters came to Naples because they had not achieved the success they had hoped for in the papal metropolis, or had left it because of the unfavorable nature of the contracts they had received. At the same time, however, painters traveled from Naples to Rome, Florence, or even Spain to work there. Some, although they were only passing through the city, made a powerful impact on it.

Caravaggio (1573-1610), for example, during his flight from Rome where he was wanted for manslaughter, spent the year 1607 in Naples, where the Spanish viceroy the Count of Benevento became his patron. After an interval of several months which he spent in Malta, he came to Naples for a further year shortly before his death in 1610. Despite the brevity of his stay, Caravaggio had a great influence on the Neapolitan art scene. It was here that the so-called 'School of Caravaggio' originated. Artemisia Gentileschi (1597-1651), who came from Rome and had studied under her father, Orazio Gentileschi, first went to Florence and then came to Naples, where she spent the years 1630 to 1637. After a stay in England, she returned to Naples in about 1640, where she produced several altarpieces for churches as well as a number of paintings for the Spanish court and art-collectors. Jusepe Ribera (1591-1652), after studying with Francisco Ribalta in Valencia, left his native land and in 1609 went first to Parma and then to Rome. His time there was not particularly successful and he finally settled in Naples in 1616. He became known as 'Lo Spagnoletto' [the Little Spaniard] and ran a large workshop with many pupils, gradually coming to dominate the art market. Ribera had originally worked much in the manner of Caravaggio, but then distanced himself from the tenebroso [shadowy] style and became famous above all for his light-filled color. Salvator Rosa (1615-73), born in Naples, was at first active there, then went to Rome and finally to Florence. Rosa achieved fame not only as a painter but also as a poet and musician. He became known primarily for his battle scenes and landscapes, but also for vanitas paintings. His romantic landscapes were praised for their poetic content and pathos. Between 1620 and 1630 the first still lifes were created in Naples. The painters Giuseppe Recco (1634-95), Giovanni Battista Ruappola, and Paolo Porpora were famous for their large-format still lifes of flowers, fruit, fish, and kitchen scenes. In the second half of the century, Luca Giordano (1632-1705), a pupil of Ribera, became one of the most successful painters. His extraordinary pro­ductivity—during his life he created no fewer than five thousand paintings—made him known as 'Luca fa presto' [Speedy Luca]. Due to the considerable versatility with which he imitated the styles of various masters, he was also referred to as 'proteo della pittura,' a reference to Proteus, the god of transformation.

As in many other Italian centers of art, such as Venice, Genoa, and Bologna—with the exceptions of Rome and Florence—artistic life in Naples was still closely linked with medieval tradition. The guild of painters was reconstituted in 1665, with the support of the Jesuits, as the brotherhood of SS. Anna e Luca. Its main task, apart from teaching painting, was the support of impoverished painters and the upkeep of its chapel in the Jesuit church. It was not until 1755 that the Accademia del Disegno was founded. There was great competition among the artists for important commissions. De Dominici, chronicler of the Neapolitan artists, reports that Ribera, Corenzio, and Caracciolo had offered fierce resistance when the renowned painters Reni, Domenichino, and Lanfranco were sum­moned from Rome to decorate the chapel of S. Gennaro in the cathedral.

There were a great number of artistic personalities in seventeenth-century Naples who cannot simply be classed together as a 'Neapolitan School.' Among the characteristics of Neapolitan painting of this period are the strongly naturalistic tendencies of the followers of Caravaggio, which rapidly became popular, and, by contrast, the repre­sentatives of the classicism of the Carracci, which asserted itself some­what late in the day. The realism of ordinary lives and the tendency towards somber drama of Caravaggio or Ribera were better suited to Neapolitan religiosity and the city's stark social contrasts than the bal­anced approach of the Carracci or Reni.

Naples was an important stage in the career of many important painters, but only a few of these spent their whole lives in the city.

Among the painters who were to have the most lasting effect on artistic life there was Caravaggio. His Madonna of the Rosary is first documented in 1607, when it came up for sale. It was probably intended for the Dominican church. Legend recounts that the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Dominic and gave him the rosary. She taught him how to use it for prayer and charged him with dissemi­nating the use of the rosary among the people. The subject became popular during the Counter-Reformation after the victory at Lepanto in 1571, in which the Christian West held off the advance of the Turks, ascribed to the effect of the rosary prayer. Above all, however, the rosary was one of the new forms of piety propagated by the Church. These demanded self-discipline and individual initiative, but on the other hand also con­tributed to the structuring of everyday life through ritual, thus binding the faith­ful more closely to the Church.

In the center of the painting, fully facing the observer, slightly shifted to the left of the longitudinal axis, the Madonna is enthroned with the infant Jesus standing on her lap. To her left, St. Dominic, with an ecstatic expression, assisted by other monks to her right, is distributing rosaries to the people. At the left-hand edge of the painting the figure turning his gaze towards the observer is probably the donor. Another figure look­ing out of the picture is the counterpart of St. Dominic, St. Peter the Martyr. The shabbily clad people turn towards St. Dominic with strongly dramatic gestures.

Caravaggio dispenses with the strict division into a heavenly and earthly realm which was traditional in the depic­tion of this scene—the event takes place in a room and the figures are grouped closely together—but nevertheless he has taken care to preserve a strict hierarchy. The Virgin is not only placed at a higher level but is also the only figure com­pletely visible to the observer. The power­ful influx of light and the robust modeling of the bodies through the use of chiaroscuro which casts a strong light on some parts of the body are striking. Here Caravaggio deploys a characteristic early baroque color composition with intensely glowing pigments, each of which appears only once, and divides the painting into three sections, the upper and lower being strictly enclosed fields of color, while black and white predominate in the cen­tral section.

The Madonna of the Rosary is one of Caravaggio's most traditional works, yet it was to have an enormous impact, for in it the painter develops the archetype of the baroque altar panel. The painting alludes to the strict hierarchy of the Church, newly propagated during the Counter-Reformation, according to which the people have no direct access to the Virgin, but have need of the mediation of the saints.

Artemisia Gentileschi created a whole series of large-format paintings with bib­lical and historical themes in which women play a central role. In numerous paintings such as Susanna and the Elders and Judith and Holofernes she deals with the problem of the sexual threat posed to women by men. She tackled the apocry­phal story of Judith, who beheaded Holofernes, in several paintings; one ver­sion was produced in 1630, either in Naples or shortly before she moved to that city.

Judith was an exceptionally beautiful widow who lived in the Israelite town of Bethulia, which was under siege by the Assyrians under their king, Holofernes. After several days of water shortage the council of elders agreed to surrender the town to the enemy. Judith, known to be God-fearing, made a plan to save the town. She went to Holofernes, pretend­ing a wish to help him to victory. Alone in the tent with the king, who was impressed with her beauty and gripped by greed, she cut off his head as he lay drunk and brought it to the town. There it was hung on the battlements of the city walls where it helped the Israelites to vic­tory over the Assyrians, who took to flight in terror.

Gentileschi chooses to illustrate the high point of the story in her painting: Judith is on the point of beheading the king. Her young maid powerfully sup­ports her by holding down the monarch who is trying to defend himself. Holo­fernes' features are contorted by fear. The facial expressions of Judith and her maid are not, as in other paintings on this theme, arrogant or triumphant, but determined and tense as they concentrate on their task. The center of the painting is formed by the head of Holofernes and the hands of the women overpowering the king. Some clues suggest a struggle has already taken place. In her portrayal Gentileschi restricts herself to the essen­tials, namely the beheading of Holo­fernes, and shows the event in a silhouette-like form, so that none of the figures is completely visible. She also dis­penses with any characterization of the surrounding space.

The painter clearly owes her use of strong contrasts of light and dark to the influence of Caravaggio, as well as her glowing range of colors and her silhouette-like elements which concen­trate the composition on a central state­ment. Primary colors predominate: the dark background contrasts with the glowing hues of the blue garment of Judith, the red one of the maid, and the white blood-spattered sheet. The drama of the brutal scene is heightened by the stark light that illuminates the upper part of Holofernes' body, the hands of the women, and Judith's head.

While Holofernes is shown by many painters as the victim of a cruel, cold-hearted woman, Gentileschi's version interprets the story somewhat differently. Her Judith is not a symbol of danger­ously provocative, unpredictable wom­anhood, and neither, therefore, is the beheaded Holofernes shown as a victim of female castration mania. Artemisia Gentileschi's theme is the disempower-ment and punishing of the male, but more emphasis is in fact laid on the strength of women when they act in col­laboration.

Women and power are also the subject of Jusepe Ribera's Battle of the Women. The painting was formerly in the collection of Philip IV; as early as 1666 it is mentioned in the inventory of the Alcazar of Madrid. Two women are shown fighting with swords in an arena. Ribera chooses a most dramatic moment for his scene: while one woman has already sunk to the ground, clearly in defeat, the other is ready to pierce her with her sword. In the background are a number of onlookers who follow the event with the greatest interest. It is presumed that here Ribera is recording an incident which took place in Naples in 1552. At that time, in the pres­ence of the viceroy, the Marquis of Vasto, two Neapolitan noblewomen, Isabella de Carazi and Diambra de Petinella, fought a duel over a young man named Fabio de Zeresola.

The figures are presented in a manner similar to that of late Roman reliefs on the theme of Amazons: in the center of the action are the life-size, three-dimensionally represented figures of the two women. The witnesses of the tense battle, remaining in the background, are of only secondary importance and are therefore only sketched in. Ribera's subtly graduated combinations and har­monies of color and, above all, the pre­dominant golden tones reveal him as a great colorist in the tradition of the Venetian masters Titian and Veronese.

Apart from the portrayal of a histori­cally documented event in Neapolitan society, the battle between the two women has also been interpreted as the battle between virtue and vice.

Jusepe Ribera is mainly known today for those paintings in which he describes in a crude, savage manner the martyrdoms of saints and mythological characters. He treated the theme of Apollo flaying Marsyas in a number of versions in­tended for private collections.

The Phrygian satyr Marsyas had achieved such mastery on the flute that he dared to challenge Apollo to a compe­tition. The victor was to do what he wished with the loser. The two were at first on equal terms, until Apollo, who was playing the lyre, challenged Marsyas to play his instrument the wrong way around, which was not possible with the flute. Apollo thus became the victor and punished Marsyas by hanging him from a pine tree and stripping off his skin.

In the Christian world this myth corre­sponded to the martyrdom of St. Bartholo­mew. Ribera chooses for his painting the scene of punishment: Marsyas, naked and manacled, lying on the ground, is seen being tortured by Apollo. Only the lyre in the left-hand corner of the painting refers to the competition which has just taken place. In the background, horror-struck observers are witnesses of the dreadful event.

Ribera succeeds in emphasizing the dramatic moment with a powerful diago­nal composition which he achieves by allowing Marsyas' body to project, as it were, out of the painting. The drama of the scene is further heightened by the contrast between the face of Marsyas, contorted in pain, the floating red gar­ment of the god, and the turbulent sky on the one hand, and the calm features of Apollo, carrying out his cruel deed with a restrained gesture, on the other.

Salvator Rosa's late work includes atmos­pheric landscapes peopled by mythologi­cal figures, such as the Landscape with Apollo and the Cumaean Sibyl. As Ovid relates (Metamorphoses, XIV, 129-53), Apollo had offered to grant the Sibyl every wish if she would bestow her favors upon him. The Sibyl picked up a handful of dust and asked for as many years of life as there were grains of dust.

Her wish was granted, but as she continued to refuse Apollo's wooing, the god took his revenge. The Sibyl had for­gotten to ask for eternal youth, and from then on continued to age. She lived in misery for more than seven hundred years and her only wish was to die.

Rosa portrays the scene of the meet­ing between the Cumaean Sibyl and her two companions with Apollo, who is seated on a tree-stump with his golden lyre. In the midst of a wild craggy land­scape the cave where the Sibyl lives is shown on the right. On the hill in the background stands the Acropolis of Cumae where a temple to Apollo once stood. Here Rosa proves himself to be a master of the use of light. While the right-hand mountainside lies in shadow, the left-hand one is illuminated from behind, in the direction of the golden-brown eve­ning sky. The scene with the figures stands out from the dark background because of its strong colors: Apollo's garments are salmon-pink, the Sibyl's are painted in lemon yellow and royal blue.

Rosa was clearly influenced by Claude in his choice of subject matter, but presents a different view of nature in his work. His landscapes are not marked by solemn calm, transparency, and clear harmonies like those of the French artist, but rather by passionate movement and tumultuous lighting, which lend his paintings a sinister, desolate, and lonely mood.

The figure of St. Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, is set at the center of the painting which was produced by Luca Giordano in 1660 for the church of S. Maria del Pianto. St. Gennaro Liberating Naples from the Plague was commissioned, together with its pendant piece, The Patron Saints of Naples Worshipping the Cross, by the viceroy, the Count of Penaranda. The church had been built after the dreadful plague epi­demic of 1656 above the grotte degli sportiglioni in Poggioreale, where many had died. At the same time as Giordano's commission, Andrea Vaccaro was asked to produce his Virgin Mary Praying for the Souls in Purgatory. De Dominici reports that at first there was violent rivalry between Giordano and Vaccaro over which painting should be used for the high altar.

St. Gennaro (Januarius) of Benevento was one of the martyrs beheaded in AD 305 for refusing to sacrifice to idols. As patron saint of Naples, he protected the city above all against earthquakes. Today his blood is still preserved in two phials in the cathedral of S. Gennaro; according to popular belief it liquefies annually on his name-day, September 19, a sign of his concern for the people of Naples.

Giordano organizes his painting, which was in fact to adorn the high altar, into two sections. In the heavenly realm, St. Gennaro is shown kneeling on clouds and surrounded by angels gazing upwards towards Christ and the Virgin Mary as he pleads for mercy for the plague-stricken city. With his left hand the saint indicates the many corpses of plague victims lying on the ground. Giordano succeeds in representing the cruelty of the plague with great sensitiv­ity: to the left, a weeping child tries to awaken its dead mother.

Giuseppe Recco's monumental painting Still Life with Fruit and Flowers is among the artist's late works. It shows a lavish arrangement of various kinds of fruit and flowers, with some spread out on the ground and some in baskets. The whole piece is set in a landscape with a rich foli­age of blossoming shrubs and trees. There is a powerful contrast between the dark coloring of the natural scene and the bright hues of the individual fruits and flowers which appear to gleam out from it.

While Recco's painting appears at first glance similar to Dutch flower still lifes, on closer observation a number of differences become evident. The coloring is inspired by the work of Caravaggio and the composition is asymmetrical, with flowers and fruit arranged in less ornamental fashion; the Neapolitan's painting is further distinguished from Dutch works by its monumental size.

By placing the arrangement of flow­ers and fruit in a landscape, the artist puts the two main features of the paint­ing on an equal level. The many still lifes of the period which show fruit have sometimes been interpreted as a reflec­tion of the increasingly abundant supply of goods. They are also seen as represen­tative of the growing interest in the scientific observation of nature which inspired the voyages of research during this period. In addition, the medicinal proper­ties of plants, vegetables, and fruit were being explored. Thus scientific discovery and the spiritual assimilation of the everyday can be seen as the main impetus for this still life rather than higher levels of symbolic meaning. This particular genre was extremely popular in the mer­chant city of Naples, with its prolific Mediterranean vegetation.


In the seventeenth century Madrid was among the youngest of the European cultural centers. It was not until 1561 that Philip II (1556-98) designated the city the country's capital. His decision in favor of Madrid was influenced by its advantageous position in the center of the country and its good climate. With the arrival of the court, Madrid, hitherto an insignificant town, achieved a certain importance as a center of economic and cultural exchange. Under Philip II, the city emerged as an impressive royal residence: the Moorish alcazar: was extended, numerous churches built, streets and squares expanded, and summer residences created in the close vicin­ity of the capital including the Casa del Campo, Aranjuez, El Pardo, and El Escorial. For the decoration of El Escorial, the king sum­moned a series of Italian painters, among them Federico Zuccari, Bartolome Carducho, and Patricio Cajes, some of whom never returned to their homeland. The painters Alonso Sanchez Coello and Juan Pantoja de la Cruz as well as Anthonis Mor, who had emi­grated from the Netherlands, made their names as portraitists.

During the reign of Philip III (1598-1621) Madrid's position was undermined, for under the influence of his favorite, the Count of Lerma, the king moved the capital to Valladolid. As a result of vio­lent protest from the nobility he reversed his decision five years later. Madrid, however, did not play a major role either as an industrial or commercial center during the seventeenth century. Alfonso Nunez de Castro's words of praise in 1658, 'Solo Madrid es corte' [There is no capital but Madrid], was reversed by mockers into 'Madrid es solo corte,' arguing that Madrid was nothing beyond the court, a phrase which accurately summarizes the situation. The city acquired a more impressive character as the result of town-planning measures such as the extension of the Plaza Mayor. Philip III, whom history recorded as the rey piadoso, the pious king, was not, however, out­standing as a patron or collector of art.

It was only during the reign of Philip IV (1621-65) that several large artistic projects were undertaken. These included the decora­tion of the palace of Buen Retiro as well as the rebuilding and redec-oration of rooms in the Alcazar (Salon de los Espejos, Salon Dorado, Salon Ochavado). During the 1630s the hunting seat Torre de la Parada was newly furnished by Rubens and members of his work­shop with mythological paintings and by Velazquez with portraits of members of the royal family in hunting dress. Under Charles II (1665-1700), the last Spanish Habsburg, the chief artistic projects were the painting of the staircase of El Escorial, the Cason of Buen Retiro, and the decoration of several churches in Madrid such as Nuestra Sefiora de Atocha and San Antonio de los Alemanes with vast fresco cycles.

The most important clients for artists in Madrid were the court and the Church, for in Spain there was no self-confident bourgeoisie with a taste for art. The king was considered the chief patron and connoisseur. In 1700 the royal collection comprised 5,500 paintings, of which more than half had been acquired by Philip IV. There were also a number of collectors among the nobility: the Marquis of Leganes owned more than 1,100 paintings and the Marquis of Carpio more than 3,000 works. These collections revealed a similar emphasis: among the Italian masters, the Venetians were unequiv­ocally preferred in Madrid because of their treatment of colore. Thus many works by Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese adorned the walls of the royal Alcazar, El Pardo and the Buen Retiro. Similarly, early Flemish masters were collected, such as van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, and Hieronymus Bosch. Among contemporary paint­ers, the French masters in Rome, Poussin and Claude Lorrain, as well as the Flemish Rubens and the Spaniard living in Naples, Jusepe Ribera, enjoyed great popularity. Paintings by foreign, particularly Italian and Dutch, artists formed the bulk of these collections, for collectors had little interest in the works of native painters. This con­tempt for Spanish masters, as we learn from the painter and writer Jusepe Martinez, is said to have persuaded Ribera to stay in Naples. While his works were very popular in Spain, if he should return— according to Ribera—he would be enthusiastically received during the first year, but would soon be forgotten. Spain, he said, was a beneficent mother to foreigners, but a cruel stepmother to her own


Around the turn of the century, the successors of the Escorial painters summoned from Italy by Philip II achieved a certain impor­tance. Among them should be mentioned the court painters of Philip IV, still under the strong influence of Italian mannerist painters, such as Vicente Carducho (1576-1638), the brother of Bartolome from Florence, Eugenio Cajes (1574-1634), son of Patricio from Arezzo, and Angelo Nardi (1584-1665). The Flemish still-life painter Juan van der Hamen y Leon (1596-1631) and Juan Battista Maino (1581-1649), the son of Italian parents, and the drawing-master of Philip IV were also appreciated.

Many painters came from Seville to Madrid to make their names at court, above all Diego Velazquez (1599^1660), who replaced Philip IV's court portraitist, Rodrigo de Villandrando, after the latter's death. During his early career Velazquez was still strongly influenced by Caravaggio. In Madrid he encountered at first hand the many paintings by Titian in the royal collection and was deci­sively inspired by his meeting with Rubens, staying in Madrid for the second time between 1628 and 1629. Francisco Zurbaran (1598-1664), who was mainly active in Seville, also carried out a number of commissions for the court during the 1630s. Alonso Cano (1601-67), who came from Granada and settled in Seville, completed his education not only as a painter but also as a sculptor and architect; he came to Madrid where he worked both for the court and the Church. He seems to have been in greater demand as a painter and as a designer of ephemeral architecture than as a gifted sculptor. Antonio Pereda (1611-78) was particularly successful as a painter of vanitas works. Under Charles II several native masters such as Francisco Herrera the Younger (1627-85) from Seville, Jose Antolinez (1635-75), Francisco Rizi (1614-85), Claudio Coello (1642-93), and Juan Carreno de Miranda (1614-85) achieved fame not only through their paintings but also because of their numerous ceiling frescos.

Apart from religious paintings, portraits and still lifes were the most sought-after works. Paintings of mythological subjects were, however, considered indecent and were not bought for fear of the Inquisition, since the Church regarded them with mistrust: the clergy saw them chiefly an excuse to represent nudity. In Spain painters did not generally specialize in specific themes, as was common in the Netherlands, but were active in several genres. However, most painters—Velazquez was a remarkable exception— succeeded in achieving a reputation for their mastery of a particular genre. For example, Antonio de Pereda had produced outstanding paintings on the vanitas theme, but showed little talent in the com­position of his history paintings.

The educational standard of these painters was, except in a few cases, not particularly high. Some were even illiterate, as was reported of Antonio Pereda. From the inventories of several artists' estates we know how many books a painter owned, and which ones. While the painter and art historian Vicente Carducho owned 306 books, Velazquez' estate included only 156. The majority of painters lived in impoverished conditions. They earned their daily bread with pictures of saints for private devotions, which they sold at the mar­kets. However, some painters were also active as art dealers and owned their own shops. An important element of some painters' incomes was the painting of the polychrome sculptures which at that time predominated in the decoration of churches. A court artist such as Velazquez, with a fixed income and many extra payments for var­ious official positions and special commissions, of course enjoyed a higher standard of living. He employed a servant, owned silk gar­ments and a carriage, and led the life of a nobleman. However, nei­ther the successful Velazquez nor Murillo left property to their descendants and both died in debt.

While portraits of painters and sculptors were common in Italy and the Netherlands, they were a rarity in Spain, where artists were not considered appro­priate subjects because of their low social status. Vicente Carducho's self-portrait of 1633 is a successful example of this genre. The painter and art historian depicts himself seated at a table, turning slightly to the right, and fixing his con­centrated gaze on the spectator. Wearing court costume, a pen in his hand, his trea­tise on painting in front of him, Carducho presents himself primarily as the author of the Didlogos. At the same time the attrib­utes of ruler and T-square refer to the artist as a scientist. Easel, pencil, palette, and brushes on the other hand character­ize him as a painter. Carducho evidently placed great value on portraying himself as a piclor doctus, a learned painter. He created the portrait in 1633, after a tax dispute between the painters of Madrid and the Real Consejo de Hacienda, the court tax authority, was finally decided in the artists' favor after eight years.

Still lifes, along with portraits, are among the few paintings on secular subjects which were produced in Spain. Several still-life painters worked in the environs of the court, and a number of still lifes are mentioned in the contemporary inventories of the royal collection.

One of the leading still-life painters of Madrid was Juan van der Hamen y Leon (1596-1631), whose Flemish par­ents had settled in the city. He belonged to a group of intellectuals in the circle of Lope de Vega. In his paintings he chiefly shows subjects that refer to the daily life of the court circles in which he was active: there are choice pastries and con­fectionery, the finest of tableware, Venetian glass, and gilded goblets and silver bowls, as well as Chinese porcelain, all exquisitely presented.

The two paintings in vertical format produced around 1625 flanked a door in the house of the courtier Jean de Croy, Count of Solre, in the Calle de Alcala in Madrid. They were designed to serve a trompe-l'oeil function since they contin­ued the pattern of the actual floor. After the count's death the paintings ended up in the royal collection and formed part of the decoration of the room in which Philip IV took his meals.

As suggested earlier, mythological paint­ing was poorly represented in Spain. After Velazquez had been appointed as court portraitist to Philip IV, he made a number of portraits of the royal family as well as several mythological scenes.

The Triumph of Bacchus was painted shortly before his first stay in Rome (1629-31). Produced for the royal collec­tion, the painting hung in the king's summer bedroom. It shows Bacchus sur­rounded by eight drinking peasants seated in a landscape and crowning one of his companions. The figure of Bacchus is closely based on Caravaggio's representa­tion of the same subject, but suggests Velazquez' uncertainty in the handling of the human body at this stage: the figure appears doughy and not fully modelled, a technical difficulty that was to be over­come only during the course of the artist's stay in Italy (1629-31).

It has been demonstrated that Velaz­quez' painting relies on a sixteenth-cen­tury Flemish print. According to the inscription on the print, the peasants begged Bacchus to make them forget their troubles. The god of wine granted their request and allowed mere mortals to par­ticipate in his pleasures and forget their misery. More recent interpretations have seen the painting as referring to the reign of Philip IV: just as Bacchus washes away the cares of humanity with wine, the king was supposed to alleviate the sorrows of his subjects.

If the Escorial is regarded as the chief project of the reign of Philip II, the build­ing and decoration of the palace of the Buen Retiro is considered among the great artistic tasks from Philip IV's reign. The building, constructed between 1632 and 1634, lay to the south of Madrid and was commissioned on the initiative of Count Olivares, the prime minister and favorite of Philip IV. The Buen Retiro became a setting for the king's activity as an art collector and patron. The palace was particularly famous for its gardens and theater. The decoration of the Salon de los Reinos [Hall of Kingdoms], a showpiece in the tradition of princely halls of virtue, was carried out between 1633 and 1635.

The complicated iconographic scheme was designed for the glorification of the reigning house of Habsburg in Spain. The ceiling was adorned by frescos with floral motifs and grotesques, and on the pen-dentives between the windows were the coats of arms of the twenty-four king­doms of the Spanish monarchy. On the shorter walls of the hall hung five equestrian portraits of the royal family by Velazquez and his assistants, portraying the immediate royal predecessors, the reigning royal couple, Philip III and Queen Margaret, and their child, the Infante Baltasar Carlos.

Twelve monumental battle scenes on the longer walls of the hall between the French windows celebrated the most recent victories of the Spanish army in various theaters of war. They were intended to glorify Philip IV's military successes, and at the same time to justify the high costs of waging war which had been the inevitable result of the expan­sionist policy of the king and Olivares. The commissions for the battle scenes went to the most important painters in the court circle: Diego Velazquez, Vicente Carducho, Antonio de Pereda, Felix Castelo, Francisco Zurbaran, Eugenio Cajes, and Jusepe Leonardo. While most painted battle scenes follow a predictable formula, with the general posing in the foreground as a confident victor while the events of battle are played out in the background, Velazquez and Maino chose instead to emphasize the inhumanity and terrors of war; the clash of weapons can hardly be heard here.

The most famous painting in the Salon de los Reinos is Velazquez' Las Lanzas. It recreates the moment after the capture of Breda by the Spanish army when the Dutch commander Justin of Nassau hands over the keys of the city to the Spanish general, Ambrogio Spinola. This scene takes place in a calm atmosphere and clearly demonstrates the victor's respect for the vanquished enemy. Velazquez shows it as a meeting in which the victor approaches the defeated com­mander with an almost friendly demea­nour. His magnanimous behavior rests on his awareness that he owes his victory to fortune, which on this occasion hap­pened to be on his side. We see neither a humble loser nor a triumphant victor, but a meeting of two commanders on equal terms.

Nevertheless some differences are subtly established: while the victorious army is presented as an orderly group with upright lances—which give the painting its Spanish title—the defeated troops stand around in a resigned, disor­derly throng. Velazquez refrains from the allegories commonly ascribed to battle and victory scenes which are generally inserted for the glorification of the victor. He thus breaks the pattern of triumph and humiliation which dominates similar paintings, and at the same time intro­duces a new dimension, one of humanity and generosity in the spirit of the victor, and thus of the Spanish monarchy.

Velazquez used Flemish prints as the basis for the landscape in the back­ground; in his composition he follows a model from the Quadrins bistoriques de la Bible, published in Lyons, in 1553, showing the meeting of Abraham and Melchisedek. The benevolent gesture of Spinola, who has dismounted from his horse to accept the keys and is turning towards his opponent Justin of Nassau, has literary parallels: Calderon de la Barca describes the scene in a similar way in his play of the same name, in which Spinola says to the governor: 'Justinus, I accept them and acknowledge how brave you are, for the courage of the defeated creates the fame of the victor.'

Like the famous Meninas, the Spinners belongs to the late work of Velazquez; both paintings were produced in 1656. Both are based on complex themes which are not initially evident to the spectator. Each picture considers the status of the arts and the social position of the artist in Spanish society. In Las Meninas Velazquez portrays himself openly in the company of the royal family; in the Spinners this message is conveyed in a somewhat more obscure way.

In a manner similar to that of some early bodegon scenes (see p. 413), the action takes place on several planes: the manufacture of Gobelin tapestries is shown with several women spinning and winding yarn in the foreground. Accordingly the picture is interpreted in the first instance as a workshop picture, a scene in the royal carpet factory of Santa Isabel. On a second plane, three women are viewed inspecting a tapestry through an opening which resembles a stage. The tapestry shows a scene from the legend of Arachne from Ovid's Metamorphoses (book 6) and is the key to the interpreta­tion of the painting. The mortal Arachne had presumed to challenge the goddess Athene, the patron of weaving and spin­ning, to a contest in the art of weaving. When the judge declared the carpets pro­duced by Arachne and Athene to be of equal merit, it effectively represented a victory for Arachne since it suggested that her weaving was of divine quality. At the same time, Arachne had insulted the goddess: she had depicted the rape of Europa by Jupiter, who had approached her in the form of a bull. Arachne was thus clearly mocking the gods. Athene promptly turned Arachne into a spider. The tapestry in the painting shows the enraged goddess and to her right Arachne with her completed tapestry. Her punish­ment is indicated in the painting only by a musical instrument on the stage, for music was the traditional antidote to the bite of a spider.

As in the Kitchen Scene with Christ in the House of Mary and Martha (see p. 413), the scene in the foreground has been interpreted as a reference to the one in the background. The weaving women can in fact be associated with the legend of Arachne, since Ovid relates that the god­dess disguised herself as an old woman when she sought out Arachne. In the theme of Arachne's tapestry, Velazquez recalls Titian's painting of the Rape of Europa in the royal collection. Arachne's tapestry therefore refers to Titian's artistic invention, and thus to the renaissance con­cepts of disegno and idea—to the creative genius of the artist which is found in every work of art. The gifted painter Titian is compared to Arachne, who could weave divinely. In the sketchily rendered, light-filled, colorful scene in the background, we may see an allusion to painting as a divine art. In contrast, the figures in the dimly lit foreground are following a lowly occupation.

This late painting by Velazquez inten­tionally refers to the painter's masterly technique, for example in the skillfully suggested turning of the wheel. In this mythological painting Velazquez once again demonstrates his ability to work in this most difficult and also most highly valued of genres.

One of the most important paintings by Alonso Cano of Granada is the Miracle of the Well which he created for the high altar of the church of Santa Maria de la Almudena in Madrid. It depicts a scene from the life of St. Isidore of Seville, the patron of the city of Madrid. After the son of St. Isidore had fallen into a well, the water level rose in response to the saint's prayers and the child came to the surface unharmed. Several figures are closely grouped around the well: in the left-hand corner of the picture stands the full-length figure of the saint, a rosary in his hand. Partly concealed by him, the child's mother gazes at him in astonish­ment with the rescued child in her arms. In the background two more women turn towards each other, astonished by the miracle. The circle is closed by two chil­dren playing with the overflowing water and a dog.

The painting found great favor with the artist's contemporaries and was seen as a 'true miracle' mainly because of its coloring—warm brown and green tones are delightfully complemented by orange and red. Here Cano turned to a manner of painting in which harsh contours are abandoned in favor of modeling loosened by light and shade, with many highlights and surface reflections.

In the painting, two moments from the legend are combined: the rescue of the child and the recognition of Isidore's saintliness by the women. In the compo­sition the saint is isolated and conveys a certain grandeur as the only figure in the painting who is visible from head to foot and standing up. Nonetheless, Cano's painting hardly has the effect of an altar-piece, for the scene has a silhouette-like quality and the figures, as in the work of Murillo, are realistically portrayed in a manner which lends the character of an everyday event to a miraculous occasion.

In addition to scenes from the lives of the saints, vanitas paintings, which point to the transitory nature of earthly things through symbolism and allegory, play an important part in Spanish painting. In The Cavalier's Dream by Antonio Pereda a nobleman is shown asleep at a table. A number of objects are piled up in front of him: jewelry and coins, books, a mask, a burnt-out candle—a warning of the pos­sibility of sudden death—as well as flow­ers, a skull, weapons, and armor, all emblems of power, wealth, and the tran­sience of life. In the background an angel, with a banner with an inscription refer­ring to unexpected death, turns towards the sleeping man. Pereda reminds the spectator that the path to salvation lies only in turning away from the tempta­tions of earthly things and towards prayer, penance, and chastity.

Juan Bautista Maino also produced a painting for the Salon de los Reinos. After the harbor of Bahia had been occu­pied by the Dutch, the Spaniards suc­ceeded in recapturing it on May 1, 1625, the name-day of St. Philip. In Maino's painting the victorious army and the defeated enemy are presented with a wall-hanging which depicts Philip IV (who was not actually present on this occasion) being crowned with a laurel wreath by Victory, the personification of victory, and the minister Olivares. At the king's feet lie three figures personifying war, heresy, and anger. In the foreground, women are caring for the wounded, while children play nearby.

Maino's painting is characterized by sympathy for the wounded and tender­ness towards the children. Thus the sub­ject becomes not only the triumph of the victor but also the misery of the defeated. Like Velazquez' painting, the Recapture of Bahia is far from an unreflecting glo­rification of the misfortune and suffering brought by war.

The decoration of the Salon de los Reinos included ten paintings of Hercules by Zurbaran which were hung above the French windows. The choice of Hercules was clearly not arbitrary, for he repre­sented the embodiment of virtus, the virtue and strength of a just ruler, an alle­gory of the capable regent; he was also considered a forerunner of the Habs-burgs, who traced their ancestry back to the legendary hero. The mythical hero as subject points to the fact that the Spanish kingdom was engaged in constant Hercu­lean struggles with external threats, spe­cifically unorthodoxy and heresy. Nine paintings depicted the Labors of Hercules, the tenth his last battle and the earthly death of the hero.

Hercules is shown here kneeling with his right arm outstretched, his features contorted in pain. His torture derives from the garment soaked in the blood of Nessus, which his jealous wife Deianira had sent him and which is now burning his flesh. In Zurbaran's painting, Hercules, obeying the command of the oracle of Delphi, subjects himself to burn on a funeral pyre; from its flames he will ascend to the heaven of the gods. The stark contrast of light and dark gives the hero's body a powerful three-dimen­sional quality. The coloring of the idyllic landscape, where the sketchily illustrated centaur Nessus lies wounded by Hercu­les' fatal arrow is modelled on Titian and contrasts with the dark foreground which is lit only by the flames.

The Hercules cycle alluded to the Spanish dynasty, since Hercules was con­sidered to be its ancestor and founder, and to its physical and spiritual virtues; it was also intended to emphasize the almost superhuman ability and godlike quality of the regent, Philip IV.

As court painter, Velazquez' main task was to produce portraits of the royal family. Among the portraits of Philip IV painted on the occasion of a particular event is the so-called 'Fraga portrait'. After the Catalan revolt of 1640, the French army had occupied parts of Catalonia and Aragon. In 1644 the Spanish army set out to reconquer these areas and in the same year the king also traveled to the theater of war in Catalonia, accompanied by Velazquez.

The portrait was painted during their stay in Fraga, originally occupied by the French, after it had been liberated by the Spaniards. According to Palomino's report, Velazquez painted the portrait within three days in order to send it to the queen in Madrid. The king is portrayed three-quarter length in the costume of the supreme commander which he wore after the victory when he entered Lerida. With his right hand he braces his military staff against his thigh, holding his hat with the other hand. The king's dress, a red jacket richly decorated with white embroidery, a broad lace collar, and wide hanging sleeves, conveys an impression of wealth and splendor and stands out starkly from the gray-brown neutral background. While Velazquez' early portraits of Philip IV usually show him dressed in black in front of a dark background, conveying a certain austerity and sobriety, in the Fraga painting a change is evident: the king is here shown in a more relaxed and infor­mal mood. The painter achieves this effect through a more free handling of color in the rendering of the costume and the use of vivid pigments. The absence of such attributes as insignia of power and allego­ries in glorification of the regent is typical of Spanish painting.

In Madrid, the portrait was set up under a canopy in the church of San Martin on the occasion of the Catalan victory celebration. As in Maino's Bahia painting, the work fulfilled the function of representing the absent king who could be present throughout his kingdom with the help of portraits.

The Seville artist Francisco Herrera the Younger became court painter to Charles II in Madrid. One of his fourteen paint­ings for the main altar of the monastery of the Discalced Carmelites in Madrid, dating from 1655, is the Triumph of St. Hertnengild. Palomino describes Herrera as a proud, even vain man: fully con­scious of having produced a masterpiece, he demanded that his painting should be hung to the sound of drums and trum­pets.

The work shows the apotheosis of St. Hermengild of Seville, the son of the Arian Visigoth King Leovigild; after steadfastly refusing to adopt the Arian heresy, he was imprisoned and executed by his heretic father. The saint, carrying the cross in one hand and conducted by angels, floats up to heaven in glory. The painting has a strongly theatrical charac­ter: the upper part shows the saint drift­ing upwards in glory while his body, accentuated by bright light and color, is extended in length and forms a bold curve as he floats. Below, at the feet of Hermengild, crowded closely together in the left-hand corner of the picture and colored in dark tones, lie his father Leovigild and an Arian bishop holding the chalice from which the saint had refused to drink.

Jose Antolinez' Workshop Scene effec­tively illustrates the everyday life of the artist in the capital. The room shown is characterized as an artist's workshop by the presence of artist's tools and paintings. An elderly man in ragged clothes, prob­ably a picture dealer, presents a painting of the Virgin to an imaginary client, or to the spectator. A second man appears in the background, younger and well-dressed, also looking towards the spectator and pointing to the old man with his left hand. The young man is presumably Antolinez himself, receiving the picture dealer in his studio. The coins on the table also indicate a financial transaction.

The impoverished surroundings sug­gest that the painting includes a critical reference to the low status of the artist in Spain, where paintings were subject to tax at the same rate as ordinary goods and many painters lived at subsistence level.

Francisco Rizi's Auto da Fe of 1680 has particular historical and documentary value in its depiction of contemporary events. An auto da fe was a ceremony organized hy the Inquisition which was generally combined with some other solemn occasion such as the king's acces­sion to the throne or the birth of a royal heir. The aim of these occasional rituals was to celebrate the triumph of the true faith, and also to arouse fear and horror in its enemies. People arrested for heresy, accompanied by the familiares, those close to the members of the Inquisition, therefore took part in a solemn proces­sion, followed by monks as well as secu­lar and spiritual dignitaries, right up to the bishop. This procession passed through the streets of the city to the festi­val square. An altar was erected in the center of the square, behind which sat the representatives of the Church; those under sentence were placed opposite them. The trial, during which the accused were sentenced either to death, to serve in the galleys, or to prison, was followed by many observers.

The auto de fe depicted by Rizi took place in 1680 in the reign of Charles II in the Plaza Mayor in Madrid. The specta­tor has a bird's-eye view of the proceed­ings. From the balcony of the Casa de Panaderia, the king, his consort Marie-Louise of Orleans, and the queen mother, Marianna of Austria, observe the trial. The painter appears to have been con­cerned mainly with giving an accurate account of the events.

Claudio Coello's La Sagrada Forma also refers to a particular event during the reign of Charles II. Coello, with Rizi and Carreno, is considered one of the most important painters in Madrid of the second half of the century. In 1685 he received the commission to carry out the monumental altar painting for the sac­risty of El Escorial. This painting, which is his major work, depicts the ceremony of the transfer of the miraculous host by Charles II into a specially constructed chapel which adjoined the sacristy of El Escorial. This was the host of Gorkum, presented to Philip II by Emperor Rudolf II, the Sagrada forma, a monstrance from which blood had flowed in 1572 when it was desecrated by Calvinists.

The scene of the event is the chapel in which the king hands over the host to the bishop in the presence of triumphant angels. A number of accurate likenesses, including that of Charles II, give the painting the character of a group por­trait. The warm coloring, with dominat­ing yellow and gold tones, enhances the triumphal character of the event. The representation of space in the painting seems to continue the architecture of the sacristy. Coello reveals here his mastery of illusionistic painting, which he further demonstrated in his frescos and ceiling paintings.


During the seventeenth century Seville, the capital of Andalusia, was the most important artistic center of the Spanish kingdom after Madrid. At the beginning of the century Seville was also still also its most important commercial center; after the colonization of America it was here that the flourishing trade with the Indias, the Spanish colonies overseas, developed. Along the river Guadalquivir the merchant ships brought wealth from the New World, especially gold and silver. The city emerged as the main shipping center for sea trade. However, during the political and economic crisis which gripped the whole of Spain during the first decades of the century, the city went into depression. Seville also faced a demographic crisis: the plague epidemic of 1649 and the famine that followed reduced its population by nearly half.

The arts, however, were only belatedly affected by this decline. As a result of the efforts of the Counter-Reformation which followed the Council of Trent (1545-63), in which Spain took the lead, the first half of the seventeenth century saw a boom in the foundation of monasteries in Seville: the thirty-seven monasteries and convents already in existence were augmented by fifteen new foundations, and a number of hospitals were also built. The decoration of these monasteries, their churches, sacristies, refectories, and cloisters, as well as the many hospitals with altarpieces and large cycles of paint­ings, opened up a rich field of employment to the painters and sculp­tors of Seville. An additional market of considerable importance was created by the American colonies, to which stacks of paintings with biblical themes and scenes from the lives of the saints were conveyed by the shipload. Portrait-painting represented a further source of income for painters. The nobility in the city and the dignitaries of the Church as well as the local representatives of the Dutch trading colonies had their portraits painted.

Yet Seville already enjoyed special esteem in Spain during the Renaissance, not only as an economic center, but also as an intellec­tual one. As a nueva Roma [new Rome] it attracted a number of important individuals. Around 1600 Francisco Pacheco, the painter and art historian known as Velazquez' teacher, had gathered a circle around himself consisting of humanists, writers, and theologians. They were to play an important part in the artistic life of the city. This circle of scholars, known as the 'Pacheco Academy,' produced several literary works as well as texts on art. Pacheco himself pub­lished one of the three great seventeenth-century Spanish treatises on art, El arte de la pintura, in which he deals exhaustively with theo­retical and practical questions of painting and in the same thorough fashion considers questions of Christian iconography and the appro­priate representation of religious art. His views reflected the con­cerns of the Inquisition which, with the help of specially nominated censors—of whom Pacheco was one—made certain that no heretical ideas crept into art and that in general the country was preserved from the 'Lutheran heresy.'

Around 1600 Pacheco was one of the most important representa­tives of the Seville school of painters, together with Juan de las Roelas and Francisco Herrera. However, the paintings of these mas­ters are often heavily indebted to Dutch or Italian prints and copies after Italian masters, and are not particularly innovative in style. The works of the young Diego Velazquez, Francisco Zurbaran, Alonso Cano, Francisco Herrera the Younger, Bartolome Esteban Murillo, and Juan de Valdes Leal were soon to transform Seville into one of the most important centers of art of the Spanish Siglo de Oro after the capital.

These painters obtained their education in the craft-oriented set­ting of the workshops. After seven years' apprenticeship in Pacheco's workshop, Diego Velazquez (1599-1660) obtained his master's diploma from the Seville painters' guild committee, and was thus entitled to open his own workshop. However, as early as 1622 he left his home town and in 1623, as discussed earlier, he settled in Madrid as court painter to Philip IV, at the start of a brilliantly successful career. Francisco Zurbaran (1598-1664), after studying for only three years with a little-known Seville church painter, Pedro Diaz de Villanueva, had completed his journeyman years and was at first active in his hometown, Llerena, and its environs, before settling in Seville in 1626. He obtained a number of commissions there, but he also took part in important projects for the court at Madrid in the 1630s, remaining there even during the plague epidemic of 1649 before finally moving to the capital in 1658. By contrast, Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1617—82), who was born a generation later in Seville and had learned his craft in Juan de Castillo's workshop, stayed in his native town all his life, was hugely successful there, and in 1656 was mentioned as 'the best painter in the city.' He ran an extensive workshop enterprise where he employed several assistants and trained apprentices. Murillo is recorded as having visited the capital only once, in 1658. Juan de Valdes Leal (1622-90), who probably studied with Antonio del Castillo in Cordoba, also moved to Seville in 1656, where, apart from a short stay in Madrid in 1664, he remained for the rest of his life.

These artists were active not only as producers of oil paintings however. Often polychrome sculptures played a more significant role than panel paintings in the decoration of church and monastery altars. In the preparation of such splendid sculptural schemes the painters were closely involved as doradores [gilders] and policroma-dores [sculpture painters], activities which represented an important source of income for them. The Hermandad de S. Luca, the Seville painters' guild, regulated both training and the production of art by means of strict ordenanzas or decrees.

In 1660, on the instigation of such major painters as Murillo and Herrera the Younger, an Academy was founded; however, it was forced to close as early as 1674 because of financial problems. The Academy was a private initiative by the artists, who aimed to extend their inadequate training in drawing. Teaching in the workshops concentrated on the purely practical aspects of a painter's activities, while theory, which included drawing, was somewhat neglected. The Seville artists met every evening under the aegis of this Academy in the Casa de la Lonja, the stock exchange, where they practiced life drawing.

The artistic as well as material success of the important Seville artists was very variable. While at the beginning of the century the artists' sphere of activity was predominantly restricted to Seville, in the course of the century Madrid became more attractive as an artis­tic center. Several painters, including Velazquez, Zurbaran, and Herrera the Younger, attempted with varying success to establish themselves in the capital. While Velazquez succeeded in being pro­moted to chief court painter to Philip IV and Herrera the Younger became court painter to Charles II, Zurbaran, although he did carry out several commissions in the capital, spent his main creative period in his native city. Other painters, such as Murillo and Valdes Leal, were active in Seville almost all their lives and were committed to the Academy, but in spite of their fame were not offered commis­sions by the court in Madrid.

During the early decades of the century, the work of the young Velazquez and Zurbaran, as well as of Murillo, appeared to be heavily indebted to the influence of Caravaggio and his followers. In their paintings human bodies and objects are defined by precisely delin­eated contours and appear to possess a certain sculptural hardness created through a contrived deployment of light and shade, which is strictly divided and highly contrasted. The composition in general has a two-dimensional effect, and a coolness of tone is evident in the pre­dominantly dark coloring; this style of painting in Murillo's work has been described as estilo frio. In the second half of the century the influ­ence of Titian and other Venetians, as well as Rubens, van Dyck, and the Flemish painters, became dominant in Seville. The paintings of this period are characterized by loose outlines and a doughy modelling of the body, gentle illumination with a blurring of the boundaries between light and shade, light and misty backgrounds, warm color­ing, and pronounced spatial composition.

The bodegones produced in Seville and Toledo are among the few secular forms of Spanish painting, uniting elements of still-life and genre scenes. Ordinary people are shown at their everyday occupations such as pouring water, cooking, or eating and drinking. In the representation of individ­uals and in the presentation of the objects and foodstuffs, there is a particular concentration on tactile values and a pains­taking structuring of surfaces. In the early work of Velazquez bodegones play an important role.

Among the most significant of these is the Kitchen Scene with Christ in the House of Mary and Martha from his Seville period. Two women are depicted in the foreground; the older one looks towards the spectator, pointing to the younger woman, who is preparing a meal. There are several vessels on the table with ingredients such as fish, eggs, and garlic. In the background to the right is a small image of Christ's visit to the house of Mary and Martha, which leaves open the question of whether this is a painting or a view of another room. Such images, structured on two levels, and in which two scenes belonging to different areas of space are united, can already be found in the second half of the sixteenth century in the work of Dutch masters such as Pieter Aertsen (see p. 469).

So far there has been no satisfactory explanation of the content of the painting. One plausible interpretation, how­ever, is that the older woman is didacti­cally pointing out to the maid in the foreground the different ways of life, the vita activa and the vita contemplatwa represented by Martha and Mary in the scene in the background. This interpreta­tion is placed in the context of the controversy as to which is better, strong faith and pious seriousness, or hard work and diligence. At the same time the painting might contain a reference to the remark of St. Teresa of Avila that Christ was to be found among the kitchen pots and pans.

Cycles depicting the lives of saints were rich in images and proved to be an impor­tant source of work for artists. In the 1620s, Francisco Zurbaran painted three large series for churches and cloisters: two cycles for the Dominicans, depicting the lives of St. Dominic and St. Bonaventura, and one for the order of the Mercedarians, based on the life of St. Peter Nolasco, can­onized in 1628. Peter Nolasco, who died in Barcelona in 1249, was the founder of the Mercedarians. Zurbaran committed himself to the production of twenty-two large-scale paintings; it is unlikely that all of them were executed. The original aim of this order of knights was to ransom or liberate Christian captives from the Moorish regime.

One painting shows a vision of St. Peter Nolasco with the crucified apostle Peter. When the saint had persisted in praying for days for permission to under­take a pilgrimage to the tomb of the apostle Peter, Peter suddenly appeared to him and told him that there were other more urgent tasks for him as a Christian, in particular the liberation of the penin­sula from the Moors.

Zurbaran sets the visionary event in an undefined space in which Peter Nolasco kneels to the right, receiving the message of the crucified apostle with half-closed eyes and humbly outstretched arms, and bending slightly forwards. The apostle, enveloped in a cloud of light, is presented in such a way that fastened to his inverted crucifix he is almost in direct eye-contact with St. Peter Nolasco. Zurbaran lends a realistic quality to the event by avoiding any distinction between the heavenly and earthly spheres.

Among the representations of saints during this period, the portrait-style image occupies a special place. In pic­tures of saints who resemble ladies of the nobility, Zurbaran created a portrait type which has become known as retrato a lo divino. Zurbaran delivered twenty-four Standing Virgins to a convent in Lima, now lost but which perhaps were in the style of the painting of St. Margaret shown here, which was produced in

Zurbaran presents the saint to the spectator at full length in an appealing attitude wearing shepherdess's dress and with a Bible in her hand. The halo indi­cating her sainthood is not shown. St. Margaret, a virgin from Antioch, refused as a Christian to marry the prefect Olibrius and was therefore disowned by her father who had remained a pagan. During the persecution of Christians under Diocletian she suffered a cruel martyrdom and was finally beheaded. The shepherdess costume refers to her childhood in the country, and the dragon at her feet, which she attempts to drive away with the cross, to the dragon which devoured her but from which she emerged unscathed.

With its severe outlines and the sharp contrasts of light and shade in the manner of Caravaggio, this painting achieves a powerful sculptural effect.

Murillo also dispenses to a considerable extent with the distance between the earthly and the heavenly realms in his many religious paintings. His saints are depicted as kindly and sympathetic human friends. His approach to religious themes is well exemplified by one of his early works, the Holy Family with a Little Bird, The Holy Family is shown in a dark, poorly furnished room. The Virgin Mary sits at the distaff, lovingly watching the Child who holds a bird in his right hand and is teasing a dog. A strong chiaroscuro which outlines the fig­ures as in a relief is characteristic of the artist's early style. There is not a single indication of the holiness of the people represented. Clearly Murillo is chiefly interested in describing emotions like parental love, tenderness, and pride. It should be noted that the figure of Joseph is closer to the center of the picture than that of Mary. This indicates the re-evaluation of Joseph during the reforms of the Council of Trent.

Murillo dedicated several paintings to the life of St. Thomas of Villanueva (1488-1555). With St. Teresa of Avila and St. Ignatius Loyola he is among the most important Spanish saints of the Counter-Reformation. About 1670, Murillo pro­duced this painting with its companion piece, St. Thomas as a Child Distributes His Clothes, for the altar of the chapel of St. Thomas in the church of the August-inian monastery in Seville.The masterly composition and technical composition of St. Thomas of Villanueva Heals a Lame Man establishes it among his mas­terpieces.

The scene refers to caritas, the saint's love for his fellows, a theological virtue which characterized the saint from his childhood. Thomas was court preacher to Charles V and in 1544 was appointed archbishop of Seville. According to the reports of the Ada Sanctorum St. Thomas ordered that food should be given to the poor every day in the courtyard of the archiepiscopal palace in Valencia. When one day he saw a lame man walking with crutches, he called him over and asked him what he needed. The lame man answered that he was a tailor who mended clothes and it was his dearest wish to be able to practice his craft again, which he was unable to do because of his disability. The saint made the sign of the cross over the lame man and ordered him to go to work. The healed man dropped his crutches and ran in haste down the steps of the palace in order to take up his work again.

To illustrate the event, Murillo makes use of a practice widespread in the middle ages: he depicts two scenes simul­taneously, thus rejecting the unity of place and time more common in the seventeenth century. The foreground shows the scene of the healing of the lame man. In the presence of two pupils, St. Thomas makes the sign of the cross over the man kneeling before him. In the dis­tance, on a different level, the saint is shown feeding the poor in front of the archiepiscopal palace, with the lame man already happily healed, running down the steps without his crutches.

The contrast between the monumen­tal, sinister scene, painted in dark, somber colors, with the supernaturally tall saint in his black habit in the foreground, and the cheerful scene in the background with a bright, glowing play of colors, is evi­dence of the painter's exceptional talent as a colorist.

Murillo collaborated with Valdes Leal on several paintings for the church of the Hospital de la Caridad in Seville. The two companion pieces created by Valdes Leal for the church, the allegories In ictu oculi [In the Face of Death] and Finis gloriae mundi [The End of Worldly Glory], are based on the concept of vanitas, the illusory and transient nature of all earthly things.

The hospital was founded by the wealthy Seville merchant Miguel de Manara, who entered the brotherhood of the Caridad in 1662 after the death of his wife, and committed himself to doing good deeds on behalf of the poor and sick.

Charitable work as the only chance of salvation from eternal damnation is the theme of Valdes Leal's paintings. In the first painting death is shown as the destroyer and annihilator of everything that human beings have amassed in the course of their lives—knowledge, office, dignity, and possessions. Death appears in the form of a skeleton, extinguishes the light of life, and brings time to a halt. Even power and scholarship are useless to mankind in the face of death.

The second painting is a view of the inside of a vault full of corpses in various stages of decay; in the foreground the remains of a bishop and a knight of Calatrava are particularly noticeable. Above, the hand of Christ holds a set of scales. In one bowl are the symbols of the Seven Deadly Sins and in the other are the symbols of the Christian faith: char­ity, prayer, and penance. Both allegories remind the spectator that death seizes all equally and without discrimination and that their good and bad deeds will be judged at the Last Judgment.


Around 1600 a unified French state was formed, and the absolute monarchy which gradually established itself put an end to the feudal fragmentation of the country, the internal unrest, and the religious conflicts of the preceding century. These changes were to be of deci­sive significance for French painting of the seventeenth century. With the conversion of Henri IV (1589-1610) to Catholicism in 1593 and the Edict of Nantes in 1598 the Wars of Religion ended and freedom of religious thought was granted in France. At the same time a political and economic crisis, which had also inevitably affected the arts, was brought to an end.

By the end of the sixteenth century, Paris had already become the most important artistic center in the country. The systematic urban planning schemes of Henri IV transformed the city into a modern metropolis. The relatively progressive attitudes of the state were fur­ther reflected in the reorganization and beautification of the capital. Louis XIII (1610-43) and his chief minister, Cardinal Richelieu, had already placed art at the service of the state, but the conscious exploitation of art as propaganda which was so vigorously pursued under Louis XIV (1661-1715) was unprecedented. Jean-Baptiste Colbert, chief minister of the 'Sun King,' was not only responsible for finance but was also the ultimate arbiter in matters of art. He drew the most renowned artists in the land to the court in order to realize a vast project, the building and decoration of the palace of Versailles, on which work was to continue for many decades. Colbert, who bore the title of surintendant et ordonnateur general des bdtiments, arts, et manufactures de France, organized the arts and used them for political purposes. A number of artists were sub­ordinate to him: Charles Perrault, Louis Le Vau as premier archi-tecte du roi, Charles Le Brun as premier peintre du roi, and Andre Le Notre as premier jardinier du roi. The Academie Royale de Peinture was founded in 1648 in Paris with Colbert as political director and Le Brun as artistic director; it soon became a very effective instru­ment of royal artistic propaganda.

In addition to the court, which commissioned a number of works of art, the Church also had many projects to distribute among paint­ers. Paris was an important center of the Counter-Reformation and there were even efforts on the part of the Catholic church to trans­form the city into a 'New Rome.' The great orders settled in the city; between 1600 and 1640, sixty new monasteries and twenty new churches were built.

It is not until the generation of the painters born around 1600, Le Nain, Vouet, and La Tour, however, that one can speak of a French school of painters. Simon Vouet (1590-1649) spent twenty years in Rome and achieved such a high reputation there that in 1624 he was elected president of the Accademia di San Luca. Returning to Paris in 1627 he entered the service of Louis XIII, but also worked for the Church and for private clients. Vouet ran a large workshop and had several pupils. He threw off the influence of Caravaggio as well as of Guercino and Reni and introduced the vocabulary of the Roman baroque to Paris. Georges de La Tour (1593-1652) lived and worked mainly in the provinces. However, he also had contacts at the court of Louis XIII and in 1639 was granted the title of peintre ordinaire du roy. But his most important clients were found in the bourgeois circles of Luneville and Nancy. La Tour became famous primarily for his night scenes, which reflect the influence of Caravaggio. Artificial lighting usually dominates his scenes, allow­ing the artist to achieve a strongly sculptural effect with strong light­ing and sharp outlines. La Tour mainly created paintings of mystical and philosophical content, with themes such as becoming, passing away, and prediction, distinguished by the monumentality of their composition, a small number of figures, and a strong concentration on atmosphere. The Le Nain brothers, Matthieu (1607-77), Louis (1593-1648), and Antoine (1588-1648), also came from the prov­inces, from Laon, but then went to Paris where they were among the founder members of the Academy. They worked together and signed their works only with their family name, so their paintings are diffi­cult to distinguish from each other. They were known for their genre scenes but also for portraits, mostly of ordinary people. While in the Netherlands the theme of everyday peasant life was generally treated in a satirical or coarse manner, the Le Nain brothers brought out the human dignity and seriousness of the people in their clearly com­posed paintings.

Philippe de Champaigne (1620-74) came from Brussels. He acquired his training with the landscape painter Jacques Fouquieres and in 1621 came to Paris, where he immediately enjoyed great suc­cess. As chief painter to the queen mother, Marie de' Medici, he supervised the decoration of the Palais du Luxembourg. His fame was based chiefly on his court portraits. Philippe de Champaigne was a sympathizer of Jansenism, a strict movement within the bour­geoisie directed against Jesuits alleged laxity in matters of doctrine. This explains the severity and dignity of the figures he portrays. Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) left France as early as 1624 and went to Rome, but he never quite lost contact with his native land. The many paintings he created for high French officials and friends and patrons in Paris and his prolific correspondence give evidence of his continuing relationship with France. At the urging of Louis XIII, Poussin returned to Paris for two years (1640-42) and participated in the decoration of the Louvre.

Charles Le Brun (1619-90), a pupil of Vouet, was also drawn to Rome where he spent a long period. Appointed premier peintre du roi in 1664, Le Brun carried out the decoration of a number of hotels in Paris and created large cycles of paintings for the king. His most important works were produced at Versailles where he took over the decoration of the Gallery of Mirrors, the Halls of Peace and War, and the Ambassadors' Staircase. Le Brun's significance lies not only in his artistic achievement, but also in his influence on the vari­ous artistic projects undertaken by Louis XIV. As an important and extremely active figure in the artistic policy of Louis XIV, he enjoyed the favor of Colbert and became director of the Academie Royale de Peinture. The death of his patron Colbert in 1683 also meant the end of Le Brun's career, for Colbert's successor, Louvois, preferred Mignard, his rival.

Pierre Mignard (1612-95) first studied with Jean Boucher in Bourges and later with Vouet in Paris. In 1636 he went to Rome where he stayed for twenty years. He achieved great fame as a por­traitist and after Le Brun's death in 1690 became director of the Academy; here he fought on the side of the followers of Rubens for the recognition of the importance of color in painting. Another pupil of Vouet was Eustache Le Sueur (1616-55), who painted a number of painting cycles for churches, palaces and hotels as well as por­traits. One of his major commissions was for twenty-two paintings on the life and work of St. Bruno for the Carthusians of Paris. The influence of Poussin is noticeable in the elegant neo-classicism and freely handled coloring of his work. Hyacinthe Rigaud (1659-1743) came from Perpignan and came to Paris at the age of about twenty, where in the course of his studies at the Academie Royale he obtained the second prize in historical painting in 1682. On the advice of Le Brun, however, Rigaud concentrated on portrait paint­ing. He created several grand portraits but also images of friends, which are inevitably more private in character.

Since painting in France in the seventeenth century was placed in the service of the state to a much greater extent than elsewhere, fewer individual movements emerged in art. There are, however, two contrasting aesthetic currents evident at this time: one—sub­stantially larger—group of painters aspired to a strict classicism, while the other leant more towards baroque. The exceptional depen­dence of the court painters was quite remarkable for its time, and was not found in the other art centers of Europe. The absolutist system was glorified in numberless allegorical and mythological paintings, while religious paintings by comparison declined in importance. At the same time, a new style of grand portrait develops which proclaims the virtue and glory of the ruler by means of a number of symbols and allegories.

In Paris at the beginning of the century, artists were also orga­nized into guilds and companies. Despite the resistance of Henri IV, who opposed the guild system because it inhibited his plans for the improvement of Paris, in 1622 the privileges of the guilds were newly confirmed: according to the rules only guild members were allowed to carry on a trade. The guild masters caused further con­flict between the two factions by demanding a reduction in the number of court painters. 1648 saw the inaugural meeting of the Paris Academy, where the formulation of the statutes was based on the academies of Rome and Florence. The emphasis lay on theoreti­cal education and on life drawing for which two hours daily were reserved. However, the Academy was not yet financially supported by the state, and it came into conflict with the guilds. As a rival establishment the painters' guild, under the direction of Vouet, opened its own academy, the Academie de Saint-Luc. After violent debates the two academies were finally amalgamated in 1651 as the Academie Royale, which was given new statutes in 1655. The new Academy moved into rooms in the Louvre and was supported by a subsidy from the king which gave it the status of a royal institution. With Colbert as vice-rector (1661) and protector (1672) the Academy was increasingly placed in the service of the state; in gen­eral, the absolutist regime had mastered the skill of acquiring con­trol over all aspects of culture and in particular of subjugating painters and their work. Colbert had founded the Academie Francaise as early as 1635 in order to strengthen the French lan­guage and preserve it from 'impurity' and to exercise influence over philosophy and literature.

The Academie Royale did not take over the full professional training of the artist, but only the theoretical part of it which included drawing from life and lectures. The lectures were intended above all for the instruction of students, whereas in Rome they rep­resented a forum for artists, giving them the opportunity to clarify their ideas. The practical part of their training still took place largely in the master's workshop. Prizes were awarded at regular intervals to particularly gifted students and occasionally exhibitions of the work of Academy members were organized. The lectures repre­sented an attempt to set up a system by which a work of art could be precisely evaluated. Thus, Freart de Chambrai and Le Brun sought to analyze works of art according to the categories already defined by Italian writers on art—invention, proportion, color, expression, and composition. At the same time a strict hierarchy of painting genres was promulgated; according to these standards everything that was not histoire was considered of little significance. In estab­lishing this order of precedence, reliance was placed upon norms and categories taken from philosophy and the practice of art. The contents of paintings were considered according to their respective values, and here the Aristotelian and Neoplatonic division of reality into form and substance played a role. The depiction of God and man as the expression of form was allocated the highest value. Nature followed in a subordinate position as substance, first living, animated things, then, in the lowest place, inanimate objects. In addition, attention was paid to the various artistic conditions that must be fulfilled by the painter. A history painting demanded mas­tery of drawing and composition. The historical painter must also give evidence of ingenium as well as theoretical knowledge. The por­trait painter, on the other hand, was expected only to have practical experience and skill in handling color. According to this hierarchy, still lifes were placed on the lowest level, below landscapes, animal paintings, and the portrait, while the highest rank was, of course, allowed to history painting.

During the last thirty years of the seventeenth century a violent debate took place at the Academie Royale. Two movements had developed in contemporary painting, each championed and repre­sented by prominent painters. The so-called Poussinists were in no doubt as to the supremacy of dessin, outline, over color. In opposi­tion to this approach, the Rubenists saw color as the most important element of painting. The discussion between the Poussinists and the Rubenists was continued in the Querelle des anciens et des modernes. This controversy among the Academicians began in the years 1671-72 and was to persist until 1699. Charles Perrault's trea­tise of 1688, the Parallele des anciens et des modernes, gives an account of the basic elements of this debate. Two fundamental approaches to painting were discussed, based on the relationship between classicism and modernism on the one hand and on the contrast between Poussin and Rubens on the other. The Poussinists and their spokesman Le Brun saw in classical antiquity an unsur­passable artistic model and considered its rules to be still binding. They regarded Poussin as the greatest painter of their time and gave absolute preference to form, the principle of drawing, and thus to classicism. For Poussin, as for many members of the Academy, clas­sical antiquity remained the standard. Even nature was to be cor­rected where it did not conform to the Greek or Roman ideal of beauty.

The opposing party, the Rubenists, led by Mignard and with Roger de Piles as spokesman, prized the coloristic qualities of Rubens and gave preference to color over drawing. In his dialogue on color, Roger de Piles places the Venetians above Raphael and Rubens above Titian. The Rubenists mocked the Poussinists' trust in authority and believed that in the siecle Louis le Grand [the century of Louis the Great] a pinnacle of artistic perfection had been reached.

Thus the opposing forces in this polemical debate were Poussin and Rubens, old and new art, form and color, classicism and baroque. Not least, however, this was a quarrel between two genera­tions of artists. That this quarrel also involved political elements is evident from the fact that Louvois, the successor to Colbert, sup­ported the Rubenists and Mignard was therefore appointed head of the Academy. From an aesthetic point of view, this meant equality between couleur and dessin. At the same time a step was taken which would initiate new directions in eighteenth-century art: works of art were no longer judged solely according to a rigid catalogue of rules, but the emotions arising on contemplating them were also taken into account. A certain stylistic pluralism began to establish itself, and the works of Venetian and Flemish masters could now take their place beside Roman and French paintings.

Among Simon Vouet's numerous relig­ious paintings is the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. The painting was commis­sioned by Richelieu in 1641 as part of the altarpiece for the Jesuit church of Saint-Louis. It contains the scene described by St. Luke in which the Virgin Mary hands the child over an altar to the high priest Simon.

Vouct places the event in the setting of a splendid temple architecture, show­ing it from an aerial perspective. The Virgin kneels on steps and presents the peacefully sleeping child to Simon. Next to her stands Joseph, gazing lovingly at the child. Other observers behind Simon also appear to be moved by the event. Several repoussoir figures on both sides separate the action from actual space. All the figures are strongly outlined with sculpturally draped garments. The painter does not particularly emphasize the supernatural or emotional content of the scene.

Here Vouet seems to have moved beyond the Caravaggism of his early work: the composition contains hardly any baroque elements and should be viewed rather as directly anticipating neo-classicism. One of La Tour's most important works is St. Irene with the Wounded St. Sebastian. La Tour does not, like most painters, choose as a representative scene from the legend of Sebastian the saint's martyr­dom, but depicts Irene and her compan­ions mourning the martyr's death. Sebastian, the commanding officer in the Emperor Diocletian's bodyguard, had converted to the Christian faith. He was betrayed and as punishment he was tied to a tree and shot with arrows by archers. Left for dead, he was found by Irene, the widow of the martyr Castulus, who nursed him back to health. The saint, who had thus miraculously survived his execu­tion, confronted the astonished Dio­cletian, reproaching him for his senseless persecution of Christians. However, he was then beaten to death with clubs.

La Tour chooses to depict a night scene lit only by a torch held by a maiden. To her right stands Irene in an attitude of mourning, and behind her two other women, one praying, the other drying her tears with a cloth. The figures of the women express dignified, restrained sorrow. The saint is pierced by only one arrow and his perfect body already sug­gests neo-classical elements. The martyr's nakedness is reminiscent of depictions of dead heroes and Sebastian is thus repre­sented as a hero of his faith. The light of the torch held by one of the women enig­matically illuminates the gentle, quiet grief of the women and emphasizes the supernatural quality of the scene. There is an unreal calm, with no sign of movement in the picture. La Tour's painting is char­acterized by simple, clear forms and mas­terly color composition. Ugliness, which could well have been introduced into the wounded body of the saint, and drama, as they are found in Caravaggio, evidently have no place here.

One of the favorite subjects for artists during the sixteenth and seventeenth cen­turies was the amorous adventures of Venus, the goddess of love. Venus had several times deceived her husband, Vulcan by consorting with Mars, the god of war. Most popular of all was the scene in which Vulcan surprises the adulterous couple, throws an invisible net over them, and exposes them to the mockery of the gods.

The Le Nain painting shows Venus, accompanied by Cupid, in Vulcan's forge. The god of metalworking and crafts is seated, oddly inactive; only his assistants, the Cyclopes, are occupied in making armor for the gods. It is not clear why Venus is visiting her husband at the forge, although the armor on the right at the feet of the seated god, towards which both Venus and Cupid are looking, could be the armor of Aeneas which Venus ordered from Vulcan in order to help the hero in his victory over the Latins. The heads of the two Cyclopes in the background are brightly illuminated by the furnace fire. The physical disability of Vulcan, who was born lame, is evident from his bent back and the legs crossed in an unnatural position.

No communication can be observed between the figures in the group. They are shown almost motionless and strangely rigid; only the Cyclops in the background gazes at Venus. The relationship of the two gods is established by posture but not through eye contact; their alienation is underlined.

In Rome, Nicolas Poussin received a number of commissions from his friends. The self-portrait which he made in Rome was for Freart de Chantelou, one of his Parisian patrons. Poussin painted it him­self because the portraits a Roman artist had made of him did not come up to his expectations.

The painter presents himself, a portfo­lio in front of him, half-length in a dark green garment covered by a stole, gazing with a serious expression at an imaginary spectator. Three picture frames in the background characterize the location as a workshop.

On the basis of several details Poussin's self-portrait has been interpreted as 'painted art theory' while several signs of respect for the recipient have been discov­ered. As we know, the artist occupied him­self intensively with questions of theory and was working on a treatise on painting. The canvas at the front, which is empty but for an inscription which dates the painting and describes its subject, is a reference to the disegno interno, that is, idea and con­cetto, which—before the practical execu­tion of the painting—are the prerequisites for the creation of any picture.

With the particular emphasis on the significance of disegno in painting, the special creative activity of the artist was contrasted with the practical (disegno estero). As early as the fifteenth century a positive theory of disegno had already been developed in Italy, and it was on this basis that the intellectual claims of paint­ing were based. Only a small part of the second canvas in the painting is shown, a woman's profile clasped by two hands. The woman, who wears a diadem with one eye, has been interpreted as an alle­gory of painting, which, as the noblest of the three arts (architecture, sculpture, and painting), is the only one to which a crown is attributed. The embrace may be an emblem of the friendship which bound Poussin to the recipient of the portrait.

A further reference to Poussin's friendship with Chantelou is to be found in the ring worn by the subject, which has a diamond cut in the shape of a four-sided pyramid. The pyramid is an emblem of Constantia, or constancy. The ring probably, therefore, referred to the durability of the artist's feelings of friend­ship, but might also allude to his adher­ence to the doctrine of strict classicism in art.

Philippe de Champaigne created several versions of his portrait of Cardinal Richelieu. Richelieu, Louis XIIPs prime minister, came from the lower echelons of the nobility of officialdom; at the age of twenty-one he had already become bishop of Luijon, and shortly afterwards Marie de' Medici appointed him secretary of state. The full-length portrait, the impres­sive posture, the red of the cardinal's robes, the ceremonial folds in the gar­ments, and the splendid carpet in the background are all intended to convey a sense of grandeur.

The composition is notable for its monumentality and severity. Richelieu appears as a distinguished and power-hungry politician rather than as a God­fearing and world-renouncing priest. His aged and pallid face, as well as the rhe­torically moving hands, establish Richelieu as a representative of modern rationalism, absorbed in the ascetic work ethic.

From 1646 to 1647 Eustache Le Sueur produced a series of mythological scenes for the Cabinet de 1'Amour of the Hotel Lambert in Paris. Two of the paintings represented the Muses. The Muses were associated with their leader Apollo as daughters of Zeus and the Titaness Mnemosyne. Classical writers ascribed inspiration to them. Le Sueur depicts three muses as garlanded virgins clothed in pastel-colored garments within an Arcadian landscape. Clio, the muse of history, dominates the image from her slightly left-of-center position. With exposed breasts, cradling in her right arm a trumpet, the attribute of Fama (the personification of rumor), she leans on a leather-bound folio. To her right Eutherpe, the Muse of lyrical poetry accompanied by flute music, plays her instrument. Sitting with her back to the viewer, Thalia, the Muse of Comedy, gazes at a mask. The varied 'responsibilities' of the Muses have been clarified by Le Sueur through his color scheme. Just as the three Muses encompass all the genres of poetry, their garments incorporate the whole spectrum of tones making up by the primary colors, yellow, red, and blue.

Alexander's Entry into Babylon is part of a cycle made by Le Brun for Louis XIV between 1662 and 1668. In 1661 he received a commission from the king to paint a scene from the life of Alexander the Great, and decided in favor of the Family of Darius. The extraordinary suc­cess of this work inspired Le Brun to create a monumental cycle of four paint­ings. These are the Crossing of the Granicus, Battle of Arbela, Alexander's Entry into Babylon, and Poros before Alexander, which depict triumphs and victories of the Macedonian king.

The entry into Babylon took place after Alexander's victory over the Persians in the battle of Gaugamela near Arbela (331 BC). Accompanied by his victorious army and captured enemies and seen in a gilded carriage drawn by elephants, Alexander, who has had himself pro­claimed king of Asia, enters the subju­gated Babylon. The center of the painting is occupied by the carriage with the trium­phant Alexander. In the foreground, lively events are being played out: mothers with children and a lyre-player watch the pro­cession with astonishment, and several slaves carry a bier. The artist's special interest in the representation of the human figure is indicated by the variety of features and reactions represented here: the stolid stare of one of the bier-carrying slaves, the admiring glance of the lyre-player, and the somber expression of a Babylonian who leans against the statue of Semiramis, the builder of Babylon.

Le Brun treats the event in the manner of a relief. In the background are seen the hanging gardens of Babylon. The magnificently laid out classical ensemble and its archeological details are con­trasted with the realistic, anecdotal hap­penings in the foreground. The series was conceived as a homage to the king, who saw himself as a successor to Alexander, the greatest military commander of clas­sical times and the conqueror of Asia. The Alexander cycle was created at the time of the overthrow of Flanders (1667), which marked the beginning of the period of Louis XIV's greatest military success. Le Brun's paintings were not only made into prints, but Gobelins tap­estries were also designed after them. The painter himself regarded the cycle as his masterpiece.

The Martyrdom of St. John at Porta Latina is one of Le Brun's early works which he produced at the age of twenty-three for the church where it still hangs. It depicts the martyrdom of St. John the Evangelist who was tortured in Rome under Trajan. He survived the torture unharmed and later died a natural death. Le Brun chooses the moment when the Evangelist is about to be lifted into a cauldron of boiling oil. Angels observe the proceedings with flowers and palm branches, the symbol of his 'martyrdom.' In the composition, which strongly emphasizes the spatial, and the violent movement which dominates the painting, Le Brun demonstrates that he is still clearly under the influence of Vouet. He is evidently concerned to represent the emotions expressed in the faces of the participants as well as defining the Roman military standard and the lictors' bundles with antiquarian precision.

The church of Val-de-Grace is among the most important baroque ensembles in Paris. It was founded by Anne of Austria, the wife of Louis XIII; after a long period of childless marriage she took a vow that if she bore a son she would have a splen­did house of God built for the Bene­dictine monastery of Val-de-Grace. The church was designed by Francois Mansart, who planned the church with a nave and with a central construction, the dimen­sions of which exceed the width of the central nave.

Mignard created the ceiling painting for the magnificent dome based on the model of St. Peter's. God is seen in celes­tial glory, surrounded by saints and mar­tyrs, as well as important dignitaries of the church. This is a circular composition with a view of more than two hundred figures. Below, the founder of the church, led by St. Louis, presents the model of the building. The painting was enthusiasti­cally received by contemporaries and was celebrated by Moliere among others.

Mignard painted Perseus and Andromeda for the Grand Conde (as Louis II, prince of Bourbon was known), and it hung in his collection at Chantilly. The painting is among Mignard's many mythological works.

The scene depicted is from the legend of Perseus which Ovid describes in his Metamorphoses. Perseus, the son of Zeus and Danae, after beheading Medusa, reached the shores of Phoenicia riding the winged horse Pegasus. There he came upon Andromeda who was chained to a rock expecting to be devoured by a seamonster as punishment for the boast of her mother, Cassiopeia, that her daugh­ter was more beautiful than the Nereids. Andromeda's father Cepheus promised her in marriage to Perseus and offered his kingdom as a dowry if he vanquished the seamonster and freed his daughter. Perseus killed the beast with one stroke of his sword—according to another version he held the head of Medusa up to it, whereupon it turned to stone—and took the king's daughter as his wife. Mignard depicts the moment when Perseus has freed Andromeda and the king and his wife are hastening gratefully towards him with a crowd of people behind them expressing astonishment at the event. The whole scene is spectacular and filled with movement. In the center of the painting stands Perseus with Pegasus, who sprang out of the blood of the slain Medusa, behind him. At the feet of the hero, who is pointing towards Andromeda, lies the head of Medusa, while in the foreground lies the slain seamonster. Mignard demon­strates his talent as a superb colorist with the lavish hues of the natural forms and the splendid garments of the figures.

The painting, in which Rigaud portrays Louis XIV at the age of sixty-three, was originally intended as a present for the king's nephew, Philip V of Spain. Since he particularly liked the painting, the king had a copy made of it and kept the original himself.

In a slight contrapposto, Louis XIV leans with his right hand on his military scepter, while he braces his left arm on his hip. The king is shown in full state regalia. He wears a cloak of rich fabric with the Bourbon lily on a blue ground and with an ermine lining. The throne is seen behind him on a rostrum, sur­mounted by a baldacchino. The crown lies to the left on a cushion and behind it stands a column symbolizing dignity, power, and endurance. The exposed legs of the king correspond to the pose of a ruler from the classical era.

Louis XIV is portrayed by Rigaud as a shining example of royal power, but ultimately as the embodiment of the French monarchy. The features of the elderly king are realistically rendered by the artist. While in his Portrait of Richelieu (see p. 423) Champaigne was chiefly concerned to convey the character of the cardinal, Rigaud's main aim was to establish the status of his subject.


Ehrenfried Kluckert

During the baroque age the emblem exerted a specific and pervasive influence on culture. It generated all sorts of refer­ences which touched on writing, rhetoric, painting, and festival ritual. The emblem is essentially an image which can be inter­preted on a number of levels and is based on allusion, allegory, and symbol. Its curious language of signs can be traced back to the hieroglyphs popular in the Renaissance. It was during this period that supposed Egyptian hieroglyphs were rediscovered. Florentine humanists believed that behind the mysterious language of signs found in these ancient objects the original wisdom of humanity was con­cealed and encoded in order to preserve it from profane intrusion.

Horapollo's Hieroglyph'tea, a com­pendium of Alexandrine knowledge from the fifth century AD, was used as a source; a Greek version of it was brought to Italy in about 1500 and soon became widely known. The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili by Francesco Colonna, including images and signs consisting of Egyptian hieroglyphs, Pythagorean symbols, and cabalistic numerology, published in Venice in 1499, influenced both later books of emblems and, in particular, the subject matter of painting and writing, and even the planning of ornamental flower-beds in horticulture. The most famous book of emblems, which was soon widely dis­persed throughout Europe, was the Emblematum Liber of Andrea Alciati, which was translated into German in 1531 in Augsburg, and later into other European languages. Other important books of emblems are the Emblemata nova de secretis naturae chymica pub­lished by Michael Maier in 1618, known as Atlanta fugiens, and the Iconologia by Cesare Ripa, published in 1758.

An emblem is composed of the pic-tura, the image, the inscriptio, the motto, and the subscriptio, a Latin epigram. The image, also called imago or symbolon, includes almost every conceivable motif, whether from everyday life or the animal or vegetable kingdoms. The motto, which is placed above the image, refers to the subject of the emblem. Finally, the sub­scription clarifies and interprets what is illustrated. Often a wise saying or a piece of moralistic advice is incorporated. The German baroque painter Georg Philipp Harsdorffer observed in his Poetical Funnel: 'Poetry is called a speaking pic­ture but painting a silent poetry.' Here the spoken word is required to be graphi­cally represented, for the 'silent word' (the picture) explains what the 'speaking picture' (the word) is unable to convey.

For Harsdorffer these so-called 'picture-poems' are important elements of poetry and drama. Daniel Casper von Lohen-stein's tragedy Epicharis, which appeared in 1665, is concerned with the fall of the Emperor Nero. Gaius Piso is to be declared ruler in his stead. However:

'What has Rome to expect from Piso?

Does not every vice already come from


The poison may yet be healed/ wherewith

the scorpion

On earth injures us; but when he injures/

He who is transferred to the high throne

of stars/

His poisoned torch often infects whole


This enigmatic aphorism is inspired by an emblem which is solved by the riddle. It comes from the book of emblems Idea de un principe politico christiano by Diego de Salver of 1640 (see above). The motto reads 'More harmful than on earth' and refers to the scorpion which is seen in the heavens. Below is an earthly landscape. The motto is explained in the subscriptio: the scorpion, although distant in heaven, exerts a more terrible influence on man­kind on earth than if he were still there. A king whose conduct is morally dubious, having once ascended the throne and thus ruling 'from above,' is capable of corrupting mankind and nations.

The use of visual metaphor was far more widespread during the baroque period than today. Emblem books were widely circulated and there was a broad general knowledge of the allusions made in them.

The decoding of seventeenth-century Dutch genre paintings is particularly fas­cinating, since almost all hidden allusions or symbols can be traced to emblem books or folk literature of the period. In Jan Steen's Leaving the Tavern (see right) of about 1660, a small boat with a party of revellers can be seen. Three men and four women are preparing to depart, while a further high-spirited drinker is shaking out the last drops from the barrel for a farewell drink. This young man, who stands in the center of the painting, appears repeatedly in Jan Steen's paint­ings. The artist links events which occur simultaneously: on the left are the lively people getting ready to leave and on the right are the tipplers crowding out of the tavern, while in the foreground are a group of figures who have evidently sunk into a blissful alcoholic stupor. A small splinter group at the right-hand corner of the painting are squatting behind a tree playing cards. The man's posture is sche­matic and suggests the deeper meaning of the picture, demonstrating the essential purpose of the collective conviviality: pouring out, drinking, and enjoying. Such motifs were widely distributed at the time but were not merely intended to describe the superficial jollity of a drinking party.

There is a cryptic message here, a mischievously conveyed moralizing which in the last instance was ignored. The painting incorporates the theme of the five senses, a subject frequently enter­tained in Dutch painting—drinking (taste), smoking (smell), embracing (touch), and singing (hearing), as well as the play of glances and facial expressions of the occupants of the boat (sight) can be clearly identified, but only by means of corresponding models in the literature of emblems. In 'Vader Cats' popular col­lections of emblems, that is, Jacob Cats' Mirror of the Times of 1632 (Spiegel van den Ouden ende Nieuwen Tijdt, see below), the five senses turn up as a travel­ling group in a ship intended as an alle­gory of life. At the stern and bow stand a skeleton (Death) and a spirit (Life) point­ing the way. The man with the barrel might symbolize the 'overflowing desire of youth.' In an emblem with the motto 'Defervere necesse est' [It is necessary to restrain exuberance]; (see above right) we see a wine-barrel in a cellar dripping with wine. In the subscriptio the fermentation process of the young wine is compared with the awakening desire of youth. It is also possible that the typical Cythera theme familiar to us from Antoine Watteau is being touched on here and transformed into a decidedly bourgeois mode: the little group of people who have happily taken their places in the boat might be seen as traveling towards the paradise of their joyful emotions.

The emblem can be seen as an aid to the interpretation of the baroque culture of images. The transfer was simple, since the model image could be decoded with­out difficulty from the motto and the subscriptio. Thus the court culture of fes­tivals made use of emblems in order to directly convey the message of, for exam­ple, a firework display on the occasion of a wedding or the visit of a dignitary. In addition to the craftsmen and technicians who prepared the celebration, the inventor was responsible for the settings and images. Often he would design well-known emblems and had frameworks, decorations, and illuminations made. The Elector Johann Georg II of Saxony was known for his extravagant celebrations in Dresden. In 1637 he ordered festivities in the course of which ten emblematic pic­tures were illuminated, centering on such themes as 'War,' 'Triumph of Power,' 'Fear of God,' and 'Justice.'

The use of the book of emblems in the cultural activity of the baroque era was thus reflected in a variety of media.



The seventeenth century is always described as a golden age for the Netherlands. This concept can be traced back to the Dutch writer Arnold Houbraken: in 1721 he published his Groote Schouburgb in which he gathered together the lives of the Dutch artists of the pre­ceding century. No other country or era has produced so many art­ists whose work is still considered to be significant today. The concept of 'paradise on earth' refers above all to Holland in the northern part of the Netherlands, the dominant of the seven north­ern provinces. As a land of peasants and fishermen, the north had not distinguished itself culturally by the beginning of the seventeenth century and in this respect was quite unlike the southern provinces, particularly Flanders where the important commercial cities of Bruges and Ghent had a flourishing cultural life by the fifteenth cen­tury; painters such as Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling, and Rogier van der Weyden could confidently compare their work to that of the great Italian masters. In the sixteenth century, Antwerp and Brussels gained in industrial importance. Cultural life in these cities began to flourish again, reaching a high point in the paintings of Pieter Brueghel.

All the provinces of the Netherlands had been under Burgundian and then Habsburg rule for a time, until the Spanish king Philip II succeeded his father, Emperor Charles V. After the iconoclasm of 1566, Philip crushed the Protestant uprising and established a brutal regime with the assistance of the Inquisition. After the murder of Egmont in 1568 the War of Independence broke out; it was to last for eighty years. But only the northern provinces, under the strong influence of Calvinism, finally achieved their goal; the predomi­nantly Catholic South remained dependent on Spain. In 1579 the northern provinces joined the Union of Utrecht and in 1609 they secured an armistice. This effectively marked the birth of an inde­pendent republic of the northern Netherlands.

The rise of Amsterdam as a new commercial center began when the Spaniards conquered Antwerp in 1585 and blockaded the river Schelde, which literally left the city isolated for commercial pur­poses. The Dutch had rapidly built up a strong fleet, which by 1588 had already defeated the Spanish fleet. By 1602 the East India Company had been founded, and Holland grew into a mighty com­mercial power which by the middle of the century was battling with England for supremacy at sea. A new nation was beginning to develop its own culture.

Art was at first closely connected with the tradition of Flanders, which had been introduced by the many emigrants into the cities of Holland. Soon, however, an individual character emerged, based on a new view of the world and marked by the citizens' national pride about the independence they had won for themselves and their unprecedented prosperity. The Calvinist religion reinforced this pride. After Calvin's teachings on predestination, economic success was considered a sign that the nation had been chosen by God. This explains the turning towards material reality, the 'love of objects' which the Dutch historian Johan Huizinga considered were the dis­tinguishing characteristics of the Dutch mentality during this period. Artists responded with a realism of an exceptional quality, which not even Caravaggio had been able to achieve quite so consistently. In the Netherlands, the skillful true-to-life rendering of objects became especially valued. However, the pictures are never simple copies of reality, they are always staged to make a particular picto­rial statement. This aspect was often overlooked after Dutch realism was rediscovered in the mid-nineteenth century by the French real­ists and Impressionists. In contrast to the classical taste of the eight­eenth century, nineteenth-century critics and observers had a sense of common interest with these artists, prizing the very devotion of the Dutch to a realism that was apparently without any idealized exaggeration. Until well into our own century, it was assumed that Dutch painters of this period had boldly renounced the introduction of any higher meaning into their work.

This would, however, have been unthinkable during the seven­teenth century. 'Nothing is without meaning in anything,' wrote Roemer Visscher, one of the most famous Dutch writers of emblem books. In such books the meanings underlying objects were revealed and conveyed in mottoes and verses (see pp. 428-29). The sermon on the transience of all earthly things was hardly to be evaded in Calvinistic Holland. In the face of the eternal values of God they must be counted worthless and 'vain.' This concept of vanitas can in fact be seen as the leitmotif of the baroque age. But it appears to have been particularly volubly expressed in Holland, where the citi­zens continually assessed their earthly ambitions and admonished themselves to behave in a moral and virtuous manner.

These are also important themes in the art of the southern Netherlands. But while the Dutch developed new kinds of allegories with the subliminal meanings of everyday things, artists like Rubens and Van Dyck fell back on the figures of classical mythology; in spite of the often unequivocally sensual rendering of these subjects, they remain remote from real life. Flemish art emerged under quite differ­ent conditions. Here, as in other countries, there was a demand for large-format altar paintings. Here the artists followed the Italian tra­dition, even though a coarsely sensual element gives an individual character to the art of Rubens and Jordaens.

In the northern provinces, however, the Church virtually ceased to commission works of art while Calvinism strictly maintained the prohibition of images. Dutch churches were places of assembly rather than of devotion. Dogs were brought into churches as a matter of course, children were fed and allowed to play there, and conversations were conducted even during the sermon. The church was a sociable place, not an awe-inspiring one. In the whitewashed space of the church, in which no decoration was permitted except for coats of arms, memorial tablets, and tombs, the bright light created a variety of effects. Next to the complicated perspectival construction of images, this was the particular charm of the church interior, a style which developed only in Holland.

Like the Church, the nobility were not prominent as patrons of art in Holland. A feudal court culture of the kind that was develop­ing to a high point in the rest of Europe could hardly have evolved in the north. In Brussels, the stadholders, or governors, of Philip II con­ducted a court which encouraged the arts. In The Hague too there was a court headed by the stadholder, a status which was granted to the descendants of the national hero William of Orange-Nassau. The house of Orange, however, maintained an unpretentious life­style as it was dependent on the city patricians; the supreme power lay unequivocally with the States General. The citizens also replaced each other intermittently in the office of stadholder. Houkgeest's church interior (see left) must have been painted for a supporter of the court or for the court itself, for it focuses on the tomb of William of Orange, recalling the services of the house of Orange towards the liberty of the people. It was painted in 1650, the year when the stad­holder was removed from office.

The dominating structures of city and bourgeoisie decisively characterized the arts, and the works of the painters conformed to the interests of the citizens. Under these conditions, completely new genres of painting were established: landscape and still life, until then merely tolerated as decorative concomitants of history paint­ing, became emancipated and were adopted as independent themes. In addition, representations of everyday scenes, which had hitherto been considered genre works, became viable for. the first time as large-scale paintings.

Since classical antiquity, art theorists had considered the ability of a painter to narrate stories as they were found in literature a par­ticular challenge, although only one moment could actually be illus­trated. The subject was presented in the foreground, and the manner in which it was depicted was considered to be of secondary impor­tance. In the new categories, landscape, still life, and genre, on the other hand, it seemed to matter very much that the subject was well represented. For the Dutch, landscape paintings displayed the fruit-fulness of the land while the precious objects in the still lifes and the domestic interiors mirrored prosperity and the abundance of goods available from exotic parts of the world. Dutch seafarers made this trade possible and marine painting therefore acquired particular sig­nificance (see left).

Most artists specialized in one of these categories and frequently even in a particular genre: the phenomenon of specialist painting was more marked in the Netherlands than anywhere else.' Hendrik Avercamp, for example, mainly painted winter sports on the ice, Paulus Potter predominantly painted cows, Aert van der Neer spe­cialized in moonlit landscapes, and still-life painters such as Willem Kalf and Pieter Claesz managed all their lives with only a few props. Gerard ter Borch demonstrated a particular skill in the painting of satin fabrics, while others were noted for their rendering of metal objects; some painted only flowers and others dead game. Rubens employed particular specialists: Jan Brueghel often painted the flow­ers, Frans Snyders the animals, and Jan Wildens and Frans Woutens the landscape backgrounds. Many landscape painters were not even able to paint small stock figures and required the assistance of spe­cialist colleagues.

Subjects, objects, compositions, and the manner of execution were strongly influenced by the preferences of the city where an artist lived. This situation can be largely attributed to the guild system, which was more powerful in the Netherlands than anywhere else. An artist might sell his work only where he was a member of the guild, which strictly supervised the conditions of production. Painters mainly came from craft families: Rembrandt's father was a miller, Jan van Goyen's a shoemaker, and Ruisdael's a framemaker. In Holland, painting was considered to be a craft, although artists in Italy had claimed since the Renaissance to belong to the artes libe­rates and thus to be recognized as intellectual workers and not as craftsmen.

But even in Holland, some artists were highly paid, highly respected, and heaped with honors. Success and failure, as in absolu­tist states, depended on the favor of the mighty. But the wielders of power were more frequently subject to change than feudal rulers since offices were elected. Rembrandt's rise and fall is a startling example of this dependence (see pp. 441-43), while more diplomatic characters such as ter Borch and Gerard Dou were better able to handle the constant shifts of power.

Most painters, however, could not live by painting alone. Vermeer was an art dealer on the side, van Goyen speculated in real estate and tulip bulbs, Jan Steen was a licensed publican, and Philips Koninck operated a ferry between Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Some women painters also became well-known. Judith Leyster painted portraits and genre scenes in the style of Frans Hals, her painting master. Clara Peeters, about whose life little is known, influenced early still-life painting, and towards the end of the cen­tury Rachel Ruysch and Maria Oosterwijk achieved international fame with their flower still lifes.

Prices for paintings rose enormously with the popularity of the artist, and some works achieved sensational prices. For this reason works of art were also regarded as objects of speculative investment. The production of painting was no longer mainly based on fixed commissions, and what can be seen as a modern art market began to emerge. Gallery-owners obtained commissions for their artists, but bookshops and print shops as well as annual fairs also served as commercial centers for art. Even at the ordinary weekly markets paintings were sold among the fruit and vegetables. The Golden Age introduced a remarkable expansion in painting.


The portrait served as a vehicle for the self-representation of the citi­zens. Anyone with any sense of their own significance had themselves painted. As with aristocratic portraits, Dutch artists understood the importance of conveying the status and dignity of the subject. But more than ever before, a new value was placed on a directness and faithfulness to life. As in landscape, genre studies, and still lifes, portrait artists also sought to achieve a realism which destroyed the imported formulas. The pioneering steps were taken at the beginning of the century by artists in the wealthy coastal city of Haarlem: Esaias van de Velde with landscape, Willem Buytewech with genre painting, and Frans Hals with the portrait. Rembrandt, of course, towers high above the many other portraitists of his time. Frans Hals lived in Haarlem all his life. He painted portraits exclusively, some of which can also be classified as genre paintings. They show ordinary people, mountebanks, women selling fish, laughing children, or the mad Malle Babbe with her jug of drink. The vitality and freshness of these figures is also achieved in the artist's most dignified grand portraits. His Laughing Cavalier (see p. 433) is shown, according to tradition, as a half-length figure; the classical pose of the subject, which is slightly foreshortened, with the hand resting on the hip unmistakably transmits his sense of self-confidence. However, Hals succeeds in freeing his subject from the static stiffness which usually accompanies such an attitude. This can be attributed quite simply to the sheer brilliance of the painting: the deep black pigment contrasts with the gleaming white areas and is enhanced by the sparkling colors of the richly embroidered jacket. Subtle compositional techniques are also introduced here: none of the decisive lines corresponds to the right angles prescribed by the picture edges. The play of shadows impels the man forward, out of the surface of the image, his right arm in particular straining out of the picture. His massive physical presence is certainly impressive. But it is ultimately the man's facial expression that makes him appear so real to us. In conventional portraits the subjects often gaze into the distance, look through the spectator, or pensively look past him. This man, however, appears to respond to the gaze of the spec­tator, almost to speak to him. His smile appears about to break at any moment into a hearty laugh which could topple his elegant pose. This sense of immediacy essentially constitutes the particular fasci­nation of Hals' work.

Portraits were often commissioned for special occasions, for example as a memento of a wedding. This could be a double por­trait, like the one by Rubens (see p. 438), but usually there were two separate panels. The picture of the woman was always intended as the right-hand piece since she traditionally sat to the man's left. Unfortunately the panels were sometimes separated, a fate that is particularly unfortunate in the case of Hals' companion pieces Stephanus Geraerdts and Isabella Coymans (see below, left and center). No other work in the history of portraiture radiates such a natural attraction between the partners. Isabella expresses the joy-fulness of youth in her lively posture as she turns towards her hus­band, while he, seated, unlike his wife, embodies a stately dignity. The couple's gaze has met; she offers him a rose which he is about to take from her. Separated from each other, neither the gaze nor the gestures of the couple can be understood. Hals has here captured a moment from a sequence of events even more skillfully than in The Laughing Cavalier, and which is extended in the imagination. Again the static quality of the portrait has been subverted. In order to achieve this in his work, as early as the 1620s Hals developed a new type of portrait, establishing a style which is also represented in the Man with Slouch Hat (see below right), one of his last portraits. The subject turns towards the spectator as though the latter had spoken to him. Leaning his arm on the arm of the chair, he adopts an uncomfortable position which can only be temporary. He gives the impression that he is about to turn away again so that he can lean back in his chair. This understood movement is preserved in the enormous sweep of the big hat, but is conveyed above all by the extremely dynamic brushwork. This is typical of the artist's late style, one which Edouard Manet was to discover for himself in the nineteenth century. The brushwork of the portrait of The Laughing Cavalier at the beginning of his artistic career, had already demon­strated a high level of confidence in his technique. But now the face consists of juxtaposed spots of color and is no longer carefully mod­eled. The hand is indicated by only a few brushstrokes, so that it is not clear whether the painting is to be seen as finished. But these bold slashes of the brush are deployed to establish liveliness of expression. This was a particular challenge in the case of a picture like this one which consists largely of black areas. The few white accents on the collar and sleeves or the highlighted areas of the face and hands would not suffice on their own. But in the black areas themselves, there is a certain fascination in the lively interaction between the different materials.

Rembrandt's work underwent a similar stylistic development. In the 1650s and 1660s he gave up the smooth style of painting and careful modeling which distinguish, for example, his self-portrait of 1640 and the portrait of his wife Saskia (see p. 441). In the Portrait of Mar gar eth a de Geer (see p. 436, above), painted during the last decade of the painter's life, Rembrandt modeled the paint in certain areas to the level of relief, either using a palette knife or working directly with his fingers. In other places, the color is applied quite thinly and transparently, and a broad, liquid brushstroke remains visible. Thus an interesting tension is created in the surface of the painting, although Rembrandt almost completely renounced color contrasts and concentrated on nuances of brown tones. By varia­tions in modeling he was able to emphasize certain elements: hands and faces are worked up with dense volumes of paint, while the background and cloak are applied thinly over broad surfaces. Nevertheless, the cape is recognizable as fur and the fine weave of the deep black garment is carefully suggested. The broad surface painting contrasts with the millstone ruff, worn in highly starched folds, which Rembrandt renders with delicate, careful brushstrokes. The handkerchief, however, is dashed on crudely, almost gracelessly with thick white paint. In these two light-colored passages of the painting two opposing sides of Margaretha de Geer's personality seem to be evident. She is alert and vital, but also disciplined and decorous, obviously well used to prosperity and luxury, but at the same time—observe the hands—rooted in the soil and accustomed to an active working life. In the portrait of this seventy-eight-year-old woman, who belonged to one of the most influential families of the country, Rembrandt uncovers a variety of qualities which char­acterize the founding generation of the republic.

The young modern generation as represented by Stephanus Geraerdts and Isabella Coymans behaved quite differently. Decent black did nothing for them and they are dressed in the latest fash­ions. The demure ruff is discarded and Isabella reveals a low neck­line without embarrassment. Such exposure was just as much a political issue as Stephanus' long hair. In 1652 church councillors in Haarlem pilloried 'wild hair' in men, and a heated dispute over the propriety of this fashion raged for several years. Finally a synod decided that persons who were inclined to such worldly vanities could be excluded from holy communion.

After the middle of the century, when this young generation was taking over power, the loose, dynamic style of Rembrandt and Hals became unfashionable and was dismissed as daubing. The young patricians, who were able to succeed to their inheritances without a care, cultivated a neo-classical taste in art which met their demands for explicit elegance and grandezza. The new model for portraiture was the aristocratic style of Anthony van Dyck and a fine applica­tion of color. This change in taste meant that the two great portrait­ists Hals and Rembrandt had difficulty in obtaining commissions towards the end of their lives. They had been the founding painters of the new generation.

For decent and devout Calvinists the requirement of moderation was central to their lives. Boastful behavior was outlawed, and respectable people were required to distance themselves from the splendidly dressed landsknechte [mercenary foot-soldiers] and dandies like those seen in a painting by Buytewech (see p. 460). The black fabrics that seemed so modest were in fact more costly than the most shimmering of garments; the ruffs were sewn from the finest batiste into artful constructions. Even with a modest appearance and decent behavior there was no way of denying that a portrait mainly served to represent the individual. Thus it was easy to lay oneself open to reproaches of vanity and surrender to sensual pleasures and worldly possessions. Correspondingly, the northern provinces pro­duced no paintings like the one by the Antwerp artist Frans Francken of a mayor surrounded by his possessions (see p. 431).

One possible method of self-denial for the subject of a portrait was to have themselves depicted in a social or political function as the holder of an office. As such, a person was rarely portrayed as an individual but was seen in the company of other important post-holders actively demonstrating their selfless commitment to the com­munity. There were guilds in the medieval tradition, societies based on academic professions, or the citizens' militia, the so-called Schuttersgilden. The acquisition of official status in one of these societies was an expression of high social status. This explains the exceptional importance of the group portrait in Holland.

For the painter, the challenge of the group portrait consisted of making a loosely organized, lively arrangement of the many individ­uals, rather than lining them up stiffly in a row. Rembrandt achieved this in his Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp (see below) so convincingly that the painting hardly appears to be a group portrait at all. It seems more like a historical painting illustrating an anatomy lesson. This was in fact a significant event which took place over a period of three days, for the city council allowed a cadaver to be supplied only once a year; usually it was the body of an executed criminal. The lesson is being held by Nicolaes Tulp, the praelector of the guild of surgeons, surrounded by members of the guild. The situation appears as life-like as if Rembrandt had actually painted it during the anatomy class. Each of the figures represented responds individ­ually to the lesson, and even the viewer participates in a sense, for a free space has been left for them in the circle. It is quite possible to imagine that Rembrandt attended an anatomy class for study pur­poses. His portrait is a sophisticated construction: the men are ranged behind each other in such a way that in reality there would have been nowhere for them to stand. It was the only way for him to show so many large figures in the painting. Each subject paid a cer­tain amount to have himself immortalized in art. The portrait was hung in the assembly hall of the guild with other paintings.

The same purpose was served by what is probably Rembrandt's most famous work, the Night Watch (see right). This is a group por­trait of some members of a company of the Amsterdam civic guards' guild. For such group portraits the most popular composition was an apparently informal banquet where the banners and other necessary props usually nonetheless appeared very posed. Rembrandt, by contrast, shows a moment that could actually have taken place. The captain and lieutenant have moved out of the throng and are moving forward, others are slowly forming an ordered procession, some of the men are still cleaning or loading their guns, and the drummer is giving the signal for the company to set off. It is implied that a signifi­cant moment is being represented—a famous company just before a victorious battle during the War of Independence, or some similar event—or so the spectator is prompted to assume.

During the armistice, however, the citizens' militia had only a nom­inal function and even after it ended there were no battles on the northern terrain; mercenary forces were contending in the actual thea­ters of war in the south. It was ultimately a matter of honor to belong to one of the guilds of the civic guards. Rembrandt suggests a historic moment here only as a way of lending a noble aspect to his bourgeois clients, as the latter were well able to appreciate. It is a myth that they were not satisfied with the painting. But this artistic subterfuge was also an excuse for the painter to illustrate a lively situation.

Incidentally, this is not in fact a night scene; this error, which gave the picture its name, is probably due to the heavily darkened varnish which was later cleaned. Rembrandt set the event in shadow so as to allow the figures to emerge brightly and festively from the dark. A girl in a shimmering gold garment, perhaps a supplier to the camp, is the most brightly lit figure, reinforcing her central role in the scene. She carries, in a sense, the symbol of the company on her belt: the hen's claws derive from the same root as the Kloveniers, the armed militia. It is this motif that identifies the group in the first place.

Rubens and Rembrandt

Among the many important Dutch paint­ers of the seventeenth century, Rubens and Rembrandt stand out as the two giants whose status is comparable to that of Velazquez or Poussin. Both dedicated themselves primarily to the traditional genres of historical and portrait painting as well as producing important landscape works. In spite of several similarities between the two, there are striking differ­ences which essentially determine the artistic relationship between the two painters, who never came to know each other personally. Background, training, milieu, and career, but above all their positively antithetical personalities marked the diverse character of their artistic achievements. Rembrandt began his career thirty years after Rubens. When he was still a pupil, Rubens was already a famous artist and in the 1630s, while Rembrandt was trying to find clients, Rubens was having difficulty in fending off commissions.

Peter Paul Rubens

Rubens had traveled extensively. Immedi­ately after completing his studies he set off for Italy; commissions were hard to obtain in Antwerp which was suffering under Spanish rule. In Italy he came to the attention of the Duke of Mantua who instantly engaged him as court painter. Meanwhile, Rubens also spent time in other cities, and while studying the great masters of the Renaissance began to develop his own style. Through the Gonzaga he came into contact with other provincial princes early in his career: he was sent to the Spanish court on an offi­cial mission, for example, and worked for Rudolf II in Prague. In 1609 the stad-holders of the Spanish king in Brussels appointed him their court painter; how­ever, Rubens continued to live in Antwerp. The art-loving Infanta Isabella in particular gave him continued support. Through Isabella he was able to establish further contacts with the dynastic rulers of Europe.


Rubens quickly became spoiled by suc­cess and his new social status was soon reinforced by his marriage to Isabella Brant, the daughter of a respected patri­cian and state secretary, barely a year after his return. In his marriage portrait, the Honeysuckle Bower (see above), Rubens demonstrates love and pride in equal measure. He evidently adored his wife throughout her life, and an intimate affection is undoubtedly clear in this painting. Such representations of emo­tional attachment were not commonly represented in formal portraits intended for display, since love between the couple was not generally established as the basis of marriage. As Rubens and Isabella turn almost imperceptibly towards each other, a harmonious interplay is staged, and the honeysuckle twining around the bridal couple, as if by chance, expresses their sense of unity on a symbolic level.

At the same time, however, this is decidedly a show portrait, despite the intimate, natural surroundings of the bower. An awareness of rank is indicated not only by the strikingly rich clothing but also by the confidence of the full-length type of portrait. The superior posi­tion of the man is firmly established; Isabella sits at his feet, a posture that cannot be disguised even by her tall hat. The dagger as part of the insignia of the aristocracy in the man's left hand is almost as important to Rubens as the woman to whom he offers his right hand. Rubens was showered with official honors: in 1624 the Spanish king ele­vated Rubens to the ranks of the nobility, in Cambridge he was awarded the degree of master of arts, and he was knighted at Whitehall.

Reason and Discipline

This sort of career had not been inevita­ble. The painter's father, Jan Rubens, as a Protestant lawyer and adviser to the Duchess had to flee Antwerp after the period of iconoclasm, and Peter Paul was born in Siegen in western Germany. His mother, who had remained a Catholic, returned from there to the Schelde after his father's death. As he was the younger son, there were only enough funds to pay for a short period at the Latin school, after which he went into service as a page with the widow of a count before begin­ning his studies in art. But, through his brother Philip, Rubens encountered humanist thinking and continued his own education through his association with several influential personalities. Philip was studying in Antwerp with the famous humanist Justus Lipsius who, influenced by the endless warmongering of the period, urged the renewal of Roman stoicism. The view of life that Peter Paul Rubens developed is strongly marked by this school of thought and is also at the root of his artistic creativity. His letters express the conviction that a life worthy of humankind respects reason as the highest power. Everything else must be subordinate to it; the emotions must be kept under control and discipline preserved.

In his painting of the Drunken Silenus (see right) Rubens graphically illustrates the animal-like qualities of man that are released through the excessive consumption of wine. The helpless state of the old man, who is part of the entourage of the wine god Bacchus, is explicitly portrayed. 'Drunkenness dis­ables the use of the limbs and the intel­lect,' as the story of Silenus teaches us. 'It wastes money, stimulates the blind passions of Venus and Mars, and brings about premature death,' we are warned by a print after another depiction of Silenus by Rubens. But in both works the painter describes human weakness with a degree of amused sympathy which acknowledges that carnal impulses are part of the human personality and no one can entirely overcome them.

Reason and discipline were iron rules in the artist's own life and they made it possible for him to acquire wealth to a degree that was almost unheard of for a painter. With a keen head for business, he organized his workshop as though it were a factory. His status as court painter enabled him to exceed the limit of the number of pupils prescribed by the guilds. He approached the Spanish king with a plea for ennoblement, well aware of the guild-free and tax-free status that would be assured to him as a nobleman. Soon Rubens acquired extensive real estate property in his hometown, and as early as the 1620s moved into a grand town house (see left below) which, in addition to his residence, housed his studio, sales premises, and important art collection. Rubens had the house fur­nished so that he could receive important visitors there.


A further element in the artist's success, however, was his diplomatic talents. This ability was first demonstrated in the early 1620s, when Rubens received from Marie de' Medici, the widow of the French king, the commission to produce a twenty-one-part cycle of paintings about her life. This project, although apparently very promising from a finan­cial angle, was soon revealed as a decid­edly delicate undertaking. After her husband's murder, Marie had taken over the regency on behalf of her son, then a minor, who subsequently became Louis XIII. This difficult assignment could hardly be mastered by the artist's natural flair, since Cardinal Richelieu, with his increasing influence over Louis, was planning to remove Marie from power. When she ordered the cycle of paintings, Marie had already been obliged to sur­render power. She was barely tolerated at court and was later forced into exile. While struggling for the restoration of her position, she required Rubens' paint­ing to represent nothing less than the jus­tification of her actions as regent.

In a frenzy of splendid garments, and supported by armies of mythological characters, Rubens contrived to portray Marie's reign as a blessing for France. In one of the paintings, the magnificent ship of the Medici is moored at Marseilles, and Henri's future consort sets foot on French soil for the first time (see above). Humble, and yet with a spring in her step, she is greeted by two female figures representing France and the city of Marseilles. Her crossing from Italy had apparently been personally supervised by Neptune, with an entourage of tritons and naiads. In each of the paintings of the cycle, Marie's life is always seen under the protection of the gods. The young Marie, for example, is personally edu­cated by Athena, the goddess of wisdom.

These had been the traditional means of glorifying a would-be divine ruler since the Renaissance and such iconography reached its high point during the absolu­tist seventeenth century. Admittedly Rubens did not actually put Marie on a level with the gods. Rather, she is positively supervised, led, and conducted by them. In this way Rubens referred to higher powers and put the sovereignty of the regent into a relative context—a clever method of avoiding the danger of uncritical glorification. Maria, on her part, declared herself well satisfied and immediately gave Rubens a further com­mission for a cycle on the life of her mur­dered husband, Henri IV, which was never completed.

After the twelve-year armistice between the northern provinces of the Netherlands and Spain had ended in 1621, and England and France had entered the war, Rubens gave further evi­dence of his diplomatic skill, this time in peace negotiations in the service of the Spanish crown. Over a period of years this second career made great demands upon him. In 1627 he traveled to Rotterdam, Delft, Amsterdam, and Utrecht on the pretext of meeting the painters of the northern provinces, while he was actually meeting English negotia­tors in order to prepare for direct deal­ings with the English king, with whom he finally worked out a peace agreement.


Meanwhile his first wife had died, and in 1630, four years after her death, Rubens married Helene Fourment. The aging painter was plagued by gout and longed for a private life far from the interna­tional stage and aristocratic circles. The sixteen-year-old Helene gave the fifty-three-year-old painter new zest for life: 'I have taken a young wife from a good though bourgeois house, although all the world tried to persuade me to set up a household in court circles. But I feared the notorious weakness of the nobility, arrogance, particularly with the opposite sex, and therefore I preferred to take a wife who does not blush to see me take up the paintbrush. And to tell the truth, it would have seemed hard to me to exchange the precious treasure of free­dom for the caresses of an old lady.' Helene was his model for several por­traits, and even in the mythological and biblical scenes of these years her features are repeatedly represented. Rubens now painted most of his work himself, includ­ing carefree tributes to love such as the Festival of Venus (now in Vienna) and the Garden of hove (now in Madrid).

In 1635 the stadholders finally yielded to Rubens' plea to be liberated from the diplomatic service, and Rubens could, as he wrote, 'cut through the golden knot of ambition.' He had 'no further aim in this world but to live in peace.' He carried out this intention in retirement at Het Steen, a property in the country (see p. 459), where he could reflect on his Flemish home and his life together with his young wife.

The complexity of Rubens' personal­ity at the end of his active life can be grasped through an examination of three pictures from his final years. Two years before his death, in 1640, he painted probably his most risque portrait of Helene, the so-called 'Little Fur', a unique testimonial to his admiration of vitality and the joy of life. The Self-Portrait of 1636, however, expresses his official side: highly respected, well-heeled, supplied with all the honors that could be bestowed upon a painter. The three-quarter-length or so-called knee-length portrait was one which Rubens otherwise reserved for official state por­traits. There are numerous motifs imply­ing the dignity of the subject: the column is a standard component of the aristo­cratic portrait, just like the glove care­lessly held in the hand, and the dagger draws attention to the subject's knight­hood. Impressive volume is provided by the big hat and splendid robe. The dig­nity is not merely external, however: wisdom and experience speak from the alert but serene gaze. One eye flashes inquisitively, open to the world, the other is dark, serious, turned in on itself.

Rubens' tireless efforts for peace were finally disappointed—he was not to live to see the end of the war in Europe. In 1638 his disturbing painting The Consequences of War expressed his disil­lusionment (see p. 449). It must have seemed to him as though humanity would never again come to its senses.

Rembrandt van Rijn

If Rembrandt had anything in common with Rubens apart from outstanding artis­tic gifts, it was enormous ambition. The thirty-two-year-old Rubens had demon­strated an aristocratic self-confidence in his wedding portrait, and at thirty-four Rembrandt also displayed himself as some­one who had arrived: in velvet and silk, furs and jewels, he depicts himself as a dig­nified, self-confident man. To an expert it would also be evident that he not only pre­sented himself in the costume of the early sixteenth century, but he also took up a particular posture, with which he alluded to well-known portraits by Titian and Raphael representing Ariosto and Castiglione. Rembrandt thus surrounded himself by an aura of exceptional culture and sophisticated manners as represented by these two renaissance figures. And like Titian, the prince of painters, from 1633 Rembrandt signed his works only with his Christian name, self-consciously placing himself in a great tradition.


By about 1640 Rembrandt had indeed reached the peak of his career. Nine years earlier he had left his home town, Leyden, where he had completed his studies in art and run his first workshop, and moved to Amsterdam, where there were more commissions. In his first four years there he painted about fifty por­traits, for each of which he received up to five hundred guilders, at a time when a laborer would have earned only about one hundred guilders a year. Rembrandt even obtained a commission from the stadholder for a series on the Passion.

He came from a modest background, however; his father was a miller in Leyden. But, like Rubens, Rembrandt constantly strove to improve his educa­tion. He registered at Leyden University and learned Latin, a language that was indispensable for a prospective historical painter. In Amsterdam he associated with Jewish intellectuals and his house was in the Jewish quarter. He did not travel very much, however, for he was convinced that Amsterdam offered sufficient artistic stimulation.

Like Rubens, Rembrandt ran his workshop in great style: over the decades he took on some one hundred and fifty pupils and assistants. They produced copies of his own works which he then signed; original works by his pupils were also sold under his name. This was per­missible under the guild statutes, but no one took the custom quite to the extremes that Rembrandt did. For some years this workshop practice has been the subject of considerable debate. The master's enormous output, which during his lifetime established his fame, is now being evaluated in a manner that does justice to the work of his pupils.

Rembrandt's promising rise to fame, like that of Rubens, involved a suitable marriage. In 1634 he married Saskia van Uylenburgh who came from a Friesian patrician house and was furnished with a substantial dowry. Soon Rembrandt was able to consider himself a prospective patrician also; after all he was the favor­ite painter of the generation which set the new standards in art. Like Rubens, he moved into a large town house. His young wife often modeled for him.

In the year of their marriage he began one of the most ostentatious of his many portraits of her, demonstrating splendor and wealth (see left). But, unlike Rubens' wedding portrait, it was not their own wealth he was showing off, for Saskia is playing a historical role in a splendid por­trait btstorie, a historical costume portrait very popular among their contemporar­ies. She is wearing renaissance dress, which matches the strict profile portrait that was quite rare in the seventeenth cen­tury. Rembrandt did not complete the portrait of his wife until after her early death in 1642; the feather on her cap alludes to the transience of life.


Saskia's death marked the point at which Rembrandt passed the height of his suc­cess, and a decline began which had become inexorable by the early 1650s at the latest. He had taken up with Geertje Dirckx, who had entered his household as nurse to his son Titus. But he soon tired of his liaison with this woman of nearly forty, and instead took the young Hendrickje Stoffels into his house as a maid. In 1649, however, Geertje sued Rembrandt over his verbal promise of marriage, and as a result he was forced to make regular maintenance payments to her. Hendrickje, on the other hand, was excluded from holy communion by the council of the Reformed Church in 1656 because she was living in an unlawful relationship with Rembrandt; the artist himself was not accused, since it seems that he did not belong to the Church.

About the same time Rembrandt painted a picture of Hendrickje paddling in a river, her simple garment carefully lifted (see left). The broad surface paint­ing, with its fresh and dynamic sketchy technique, is representative of the master's late style. Tentative, but with a playful delight at the same time, Hendrickje has a very youthful look. One can imagine that the forty-eight-year-old Rembrandt prized the same qualities in the woman twenty years his junior as Rubens did in his Helene. But Rembrandt did not want to marry Hendrickje since he would then have had to repay Saskia's fortune to her family. He was no longer in a position to do so. In 1656 he had to declare himself officially bankrupt and his possessions were impounded.

Rembrandt, quite unlike Rubens, was not good at handling money; he specu­lated unwisely, acquired a large art collec­tion which was beyond his means, and carelessly spent whatever money he hap­pened to have. In 1660 Hendrickje and Rembrandt's eighteen-year-old son Titus founded a company which took over the financial responsibility for the artist's affairs in order to protect him from his creditors. Hendrickje died in 1663, prob­ably of the plague, followed by Titus in 1668, a year before his father. His unseemly affairs had put a strain on Rembrandt's reputation among respect­able citizens.

Rembrandt did not have Rubens' ingratiating and diplomatic manner when dealing with potential clients. At the outset of his time in Amsterdam, Saskia's uncle, Gerrit van Uylenburgh, had obtained commissions for him. But in his personal contacts with his clients Rembrandt became increasingly temperamental and boorish. He was unable to sustain his promising relationship with the court in The Hague and received no further com­missions. He also demonstrated little understanding of the constantly fluctuating balance of power among the Amsterdam upper classes and was unable to make allies of the right people. The biggest official commission offered by the city of Amsterdam, the decoration of the new city hall on the Dam, went to his former pupil Govacrt Flinck, who enjoyed great popu­larity. It was only after the latter's early death that the commission was divided between several artists, and in 1661 Rembrandt was able to contribute a large painting of the conspiracy of Claudius Civilis. However, in the end the councillors did not accept it, and he was stuck with the gigantic work for which he was unable to find a buyer.


During the last twenty years of his life, during which he had to struggle against many hardships, Rembrandt again painted several self-portraits. Altogether he portrayed himself more than eighty times. This suggests a certain self-confidence and self-regard, but it was only partly narcissistic. Above all, Rembrandt used his own image as a model which was always available to him, and an object of study for the empir­ical psychology on which his creative work is based. It is difficult to determine how far he is revealing his character and psychological makeup in his portraits and the extent to which he is posing in order to be able to study variants of pos­sible expressions.

He painted himself in all sorts of cos­tumes: as a soldier, a beggar, an oriental, a representative of various levels of soci­ety—and with many different facial expressions. At the beginning of his career such self-portraits certainly served as promotional samples of his artistic abilities, but they soon became desirable as collectors' items in their own right. These portraits also open up to us the unstable, unsettled personality of the artist, who, unlike Rubens, found no sup­port in the rigid regulation of life, but dis­covered the freedom of development in shifting situations. At the lowest point of his financial difficulties, far removed from prosperity and fame, Rembrandt paints himself in a powerful self-portrait (see above) like a king: he sits as though on a throne, clothed in garments that appear to be of gold. Benevolent and wise, he looks down on the spectator. This is equivalent to Rubens' late self-portrait. But while Rubens confidently wears the knightly dagger, Rembrandt is playing a part, posing as a king with his maulstick as a scepter.

Rembrandt rarely represented him­self as a painter. In one of his last self-portraits he sits with his maulstick in front of a canvas on which he is painting the portrait of an old woman. But here too he is playing a part, that of the classi­cal painter Zeuxis, who was supposed to have died from excessive laughter which caused him to choke while he was paint­ing a comical wrinkled old woman from life. Perhaps this is a last, sarcastic com­ment on the many portraits which Rembrandt created from life with unsur­passed realism.

History Painting

'The most noble deeds and strivings of rationally thinking beings' were presented to the eyes by history painting, wrote Rembrandt's pupil Samuel van Hoogstraeten in 1678 in his Inleyding tot de hooge schoole der schilderkonst. It therefore deserved to be ranked most highly among all the categories of painting. Nonetheless, art­ists and collectors in Holland did not seem particularly to favor his­tory painting, but unequivocally responded to landscapes, genre paintings, and still lifes. Many more paintings were produced in these categories than in the traditionally predominant field of his­tory painting. However, higher themes, such as historic events, mythological stories, and biblical narratives remained the subjects of discussion in intellectually cultured circles.

One of the forerunners of Dutch history painting was the Amsterdam artist Pieter Lastman. From 1603 to 1607 he was in Italy, where he was influenced by Caravaggio and Adam Elsheimer, a German painter living in Rome. Lastman's lively narrative style was based on his intense powers of observation and imagination. Unlike mannerist artists, he no longer considered the invention of cleverly devised compositions and complicated figural poses to be of prime importance; the theme of the picture should not merely be an excuse for a demonstration of artistic virtuosity. Lastman took the stories he wanted to tell seriously, and again concentrated on con­veying their content clearly and memorably. He gave his attention in the first instance to human emotions, an interest which he passed on to Rembrandt, who as a young painter came to Amsterdam from Leyden for several months specifically to study with Lastman. In Odysseus and Nausicaa (see above) Lastman employs a theme from classical mythology. Odysseus, cast ashore, surprises the king's daughter and her entourage on an excursion and pleads for her help. While the other women express with distraught gestures their alarm at the sight of the 'wild man,' the naked Odysseus, and attempt to flee, the king's daughter retains her composure and confronts the unknown man. Lastman shows her outlined as a single figure against the sky and greatly foreshortened from the point of view of the kneeling Odysseus, a posture which gives her a monumental appearance. The scene is arranged diagonally to create a sense of depth, a novel means of composition which introduces a dynamic element into the picture and therefore can effectively be incorpo­rated into the baroque narrative structure. The axis between Odysseus and Nausicaa accommodates the uncertainty of the moment, a field of tension between hope and fear, alarm and curios­ity, rejection and attraction. We cannot yet foresee that Nausicaa will bring Odysseus to her father, who will make a ship available to him. After ten years of wandering Odysseus was thus finally able to return home.

Mythological themes traditionally corresponded to the tastes of the aristocracy and were therefore not produced in very great num­bers in Holland. But scenes from the New Testament are also rare, since the Calvinist church adhered to the prohibition of images, and even pictures for private devotion were found in very few house­holds. However, Utrecht, the only bishopric in the northern prov­inces during the middle ages, remained Catholic for the time being and produced painters who specialized in religious subjects. They also formed their own stylistic school within Dutch painting, the so-called 'Utrecht Caravaggisti.' The search for models and for inspi­ration had taken Dutch painters to Italy since the beginning of the sixteenth century. A century later, Utrecht artists in Rome such as Hendrick ter Brugghen, Gerrit van Honthorst, and Dirck van Baburen encountered the wholly innovative art of Caravaggio, whose methods they adopted and introduced to Holland: realism, non-idealized figures based on ordinary people, and the use of chia­roscuro, the creation of dramatic intensity through the contrast of light and shade. Without the work of the Utrecht Caravaggisti, Rembrandt's painted experiments with light are unthinkable for Rembrandt himself never actually visited Italy.

In his painting Christ Before the High Priest, Gerrit van Honthorst makes dramatic use of a single candle which illuminates the interrogation of Christ in the dark room. Christ's white robe reflects the light over a broad surface, as if it were emitted from his own person. The effect is unavoidably reminiscent of the words of Christ: 'I am the light of the world. He that follows me shall not remain in darkness but shall have the light of life.' Thus the figure of Christ is idealized, his inner calm standing in contrast to the seething anger of the high priest, who urges him to justify himself in the face of the accusations of the witnesses. Christ is about to con­firm that he is the Son of God. 'Thereupon they spat at him, covered his face, and beat him with fists.' Honthorst did not, however, choose this particular scene, full of foreground drama, for his paint­ing. Instead he illustrates the moment immediately preceding it: the words have not yet been spoken and the inner tension of the conver­sation is hanging in the air. Night scenes like this one were Honthorst's specialty—in Italy he was nicknamed Gherardo delle Notti, Gerard of the Nights. In Rome, where he lived from 1610 to 1620, he had already achieved an excellent reputation. On his return to Utrecht, Honthorst rose to become one of the most famous paint­ers in Holland, painting regularly for the stadholder in The Hague and for Christian IV of Denmark. He was finally summoned to England by Charles I.

In Flanders the demand for altar and devotional pieces remained fairly constant, and was even considerably heightened by the propa­ganda of the Counter-Reformation. The Church, as well as private individuals and associations, commissioned religious paintings, very much in the tradition of the middle ages when families or guilds maintained their own chapels in the churches. In Antwerp, for example, the guild of archers commissioned a descent from the cross from Rubens for the cathedral instead of large group portraits of its members. Rubens' monumental Descent from the Cross of 1612-14 is one of the landmarks of baroque. The white shroud creates a diag­onal line running from the upper right to the lower left of the image, linking all the figures in the composition. One movement leads to another, one hand grasps the next; the difficult task is carried out safely and without agitation, in devout concentration. Although Christ is given prominence as the central character, the theme here is the co-operation of those who are taking him down from the cross. This unusual emphasis is explained by the function of the painting as an altarpiece for the archers' guild. Rubens is showing the mem­bers of the civic militia, who have by their office devoted themselves to the common good, the importance of their commitment. In his preoccupation with humanistic thought, he had come to believe that dignity was bestowed upon humanity only when personal interest took second place to community spirit.

With this Descent from the Cross, Rubens became the pre­eminent Flemish artist of his time. He was the new major force against whom all others had to be measured. Rembrandt met the challenge by creating his own version of the famous Descent from the Cross (see above right). It was probably not a commissioned piece but resulted from the urge to meet the challenge of the master within his own style. Later Rembrandt's Descent from the Cross came into the possession of the stadholder Frederik Hendrik, who then ordered from him further scenes of the Passion for a cycle. Rubens' altar painting is twenty times larger than Rembrandt's, which was intended as a picture for private devotion. Rembrandt never actually saw Rubens' painting himself; he worked from a print, and as a result the composition is reversed. In Rembrandt's version, the scene unfolds further back in the picture space, as if seen through a key­hole, while Rubens directly involves the spectator. Rembrandt's painting is distinguished by a muddy quality which makes the pale blue coloring of the assisting figure on the upper left the strongest tone in the picture; Rubens on the other hand dramatizes the event with powerful accents of color in front of a threatening sky, with the figures illuminated as if by cold flashes of lightning. In Rembrandt's image, the light seems to emanate from Christ himself. The crucified Christ is unquestionably the main figure here, while the other charac­ters seem to form a frame around him. The figure dressed in blue is a self-portrait of Rembrandt himself. He involves himself in the biblical event and thus confronts himself with his own guilt as a sinner over the death of Christ—a concept which was constantly being invoked in contemporary chorales, for example.

In addition to portraits, Rembrandt dedicated himself mainly to history painting. The high point of his creative work in this field is the great painting Jacob Blesses the Sons of Joseph (see right). The scene from the Old Testament shows the aged Jacob, who, sensing the approach of death, sits upright once more in order to bless his grandchildren. Since the middle ages this story had been frequently depicted as it is a key passage in the Christian religion. Ephraim and Manasseh, through the patriarch's blessing, are accepted among his sons, the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel. However, Jacob blessed the younger grandson instead of the firstborn, Manasseh, with his right hand, crossing his hands over in order to do so. Ephraim, the founder of Christianity, was thereby promised a greater future than had been given to Manasseh and Judaism: 'His younger brother,' said Jacob, 'shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.'

Rembrandt, however, does not seem to have concerned himself with this fateful decision. His version departs significantly from the biblical narrative and its traditional motif, particularly because Jacob does not cross his hands and blesses only one of the grandsons. This must be ascribed to some special interest on the part of the unknown client, about which only speculation has so far been possible. For the Calvinist and other Protestant interpretations of the scene the prefer­ence for one grandson over the other does not play a central part, and Jewish exegetes such as Rembrandt's friend Rabbi Menasseh ben Israel could certainly have interpreted it in a Judaic sense. It is also possible that Rembrandt created the picture without a specific commission. The biblical painting offered him the opportunity to take his own understanding of painting as a subject. It is a story in which the sense of touch is particularly significant. In many of Rembrandt's works, the hands are emphasized and, unlike the sketchy treatment of limbs in the work of Frans Hals, are usually modeled very carefully with thickly applied paint. Jacob's hand, conferring the blessing, is shown by Rembrandt in a gesture of feeling the way. The old man cannot perceive with his eyes—he is blind and his face is in shadow— but he recognizes by touch. 'Rembrandt presents the sense of touch as the symbol of the sense of sight,' suggests Svetlana Alpers in her description of the apparently contradictory gesture. Only through touch, one might be intended to conclude, does one achieve sight, the 'recognition' of seeing. The sense of touch plays an important role in Rembrandt's perception of the world, for painting is recognition through touch. But the particularly impressive aspect of Jacob Blessing the Sons of Joseph, profound interpretations aside, is the heavily charged tension of the scene and the high authority and cer­tainty of the aged Jacob. Robed in white, he draws all the light to himself. All eyes are bent on the gesture of blessing, no details distract from it, and the room is scarcely suggested. This painting is the cul­mination of Rembrandt's late style. He increasingly dispensed with foreground drama and concentrated on internal processes which he allowed to unfold in an intense silence.

Rembrandt dedicated some thirty works to the Old Testament, creating images of subjects in which the Dutch were particularly interested. The Calvinist preachers counselled careful study of bibli­cal stories, and there was of course a relationship with the Old Testament within the large Jewish community. The Jews who had emigrated to Holland, predominantly from Portugal, were not con­fined to a ghetto in Amsterdam, but lived in more or less close con­tact with their fellow citizens and had to a great extent the same rights as their Christian neighbors. From the end of the 1630s onward Rembrandt lived in the Jewish quarter and had close friends among cultured Jews.

It can be assumed that any client who commissioned Old Testament scenes wanted them to have some contemporary rele­vance in order that they could be projected as paradigms of his own existence in the present. The stories might, like parables, present models of morality: Susanna professed virtuous chastity, while Daniel was the embodiment of conscientiousness, since he saved Susanna from being sentenced. The name of Solomon became pro­verbial for wisdom, and Abraham, trusting entirely in God and pre­pared to sacrifice his son Isaac, represented unshakable obedience; his faith and hope were considered exemplary. On the other hand, the fund of narratives also offered the possibility of expressing warnings against weakness of character or an evil cast of mind. Delilah, for example, illustrates moral weakness—out of selfish greed she allows herself to be tempted into the worst betrayal of the common good.

The ominous consequences of such behavior were illustrated by Rembrandt in an expressive early work, The Deception of Samson (see above). Samson, of the Jews, has been furnished by God with unconquerable powers. In order to undermine this threat, the Philistines bribe his wife Delilah to find out the secret of his powers so that he can be overcome. Exploiting his trust, at a favorable moment she cuts his hair and thus robs him of his strength. Rembrandt shows the moment immediately following when the Philistines burst out from their ambush and fall upon the defenseless Samson, while Delilah flees the scene of horror, the hair and scissors in her hand. The light falling through the opened curtains harshly reveals the cruel deception in a drama of emotions in which the spec­tator is inescapably involved. In contrast to his late works, here Rembrandt chooses a mood of extreme drama, selecting the moment of the story which permits the most dramatic treatment. But here too, the emotions accompanying the events are apparently his main concern: pain and aggression, tension and alertness are mirrored in the faces of the Philistines, while Delilah's expression wavers hesitantly between terror and triumph.

The theme can also be seen as an allusion to the political situa­tion in the northern provinces, in particular to the War of Independence against Spain. Scenes from the Israelites' struggle for freedom could easily be interpreted in the Netherlands as referring to its own situation. After his hair had grown back, Samson did ulti­mately destroy the Philistines. The picture, which was painted in 1636, more than a decade before the Peace of Westphalia, could equally be understood as an expression of the wish finally to achieve independence. In addition to the story of Samson, the Dutch particu­larly liked David's heroic battle against Goliath, equating David with William of Orange. Another frequently painted subject was Esther, the Jewish woman married to the Persian king Ahasuerus. She risked her life in order to persuade the king to lift an edict against the Jews. The Dutch saw in the Jews persecuted in the Persian kingdom a parallel to their own situation as a community of faith not tolerated by Catholic Spain.

While the Dutch thematized the war with the assistance of Old Testament stories, painters like Rubens relied on mythological and allegorical figures. His allegory War and Peace (see right) suggests a unique combination of his diplomatic and artistic activities. Rubens had been sent to England in 1627 to negotiate a peace agreement with the king, a mission in which he actually succeeded. To seal this diplomatic success, while still in England he painted this picture for Charles I, intended to validate retrospectively the king's decision.

In War and Peace Rubens illustrates a Golden Age reflecting the effects of the new peace treaty. He chooses an allegorical image: in the center sits Venus, the goddess of love, feeding a boy with a stream of milk. A satyr is pouring fruit from a cornuco­pia, a woman brings precious armor and jewels; humanity is seen generally enjoy­ing riches and abundance. Another woman dances to a tambourine, suggest­ing the enjoyment of the sensual pleas­ures of the world of Bacchus. In this idyll even the wild animals have been tamed. In the background, however, hate and war are being vigorously fended off. Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, pro­tects freedom and prosperity by force­fully pushing aside the god of war, Mars, and the fury Alecto. The message is sup­ported by the composition: the group around Venus is placed in a pyramidal scheme; but the warlike characters, in an extremely turbulent diagonal, are being literally driven out of the picture. Rubens has essentially represented a dip­lomatic dispute in a magnificent painting. He is appealing to the English king to use the wisdom of diplomacy to end the war and bring about peace.

Only eight years later Rubens painted an allegory of war for the Duke of Tuscany which indicates how disappointed and disillusioned he was. He had retired from the diplomatic service in the meantime, having been forced to recognize that all his efforts and partial successes had in fact failed to lead to peace. The whole of Europe was afflicted by the Thirty Years War. As Rubens' new allegory demon­strates, Mars could no longer be held in check. However much Venus deploys all her charms, 'attempting to hold him back with caresses and embraces,' as Rubens wrote, she has to realize that this time the fury is stronger than she. The dreadful figures of Plague and Hunger hasten forward. With a bloodstained sword the god of war stamps out all the aspects of a civilized Europe: arts and sci­ences, family life, and fertility are person­ified in the figures writhing on the ground. Jakob Burckhardt wrote of this painting that it was 'the eternal and unforgettable frontispiece to the Thirty Years War.'


A simple ferry with peasants, cows, and a horse-cart is the central feature of Esaias van de Velde's The Cattle Ferry (see above). On the river bank a small boatyard can be seen, ramblers and tipplers sit beneath the crooked porch of an inn, and in the background a church tower and windmill stand out above the trees. An everyday setting of this kind would be unusual in Italian or French painting of the same period; only historical subjects were considered worthy of depiction, and landscape paintings would be considered relevant only if they represented idealized scenes incorporating heroically impressive or idyllic themes, with shepherds and sheep, the bliss of Arcadia. There must be more to see in a landscape painting than the viewer would find on a walk in familiar, ordinary surroundings. Art was supposed to illustrate an ideal realm which transported the spectator beyond the everyday.

In Holland, by contrast, the approach to landscape was some­what different. The independence of the young republic from the long-standing cultural traditions of these nations and a pride in the country expresses itself, for example, in the patriotic symbol of the hollandse tuin, the fruitful enclosed garden; such ideas encouraged artists to represent their native landscape without idealization. Instead of astonishing views, they were more interested in scenes which might be regarded as typical. Similar subjects had already been represented in sixteenth-century Flanders, but only in drawings and prints. In the 1620s Esaias van de Velde was the first to apply the new concept of landscape to painting: seemingly trivial and modest views of the Dutch countryside such as one might encounter at any time in the course of a stroll.

The Dutch thereby set themselves apart from the wider European traditions of landscape, on the model of German renaissance paint­ers such as Albrecht Altdorfer, which had been adopted in sixteenth-century Flanders. The aerial perspective allowed the spectator a broad view over scenery in a manner that would otherwise have been inconceivable. All the elements of landscape were assembled in one picture: high mountains and ranges of hills, forests and fields, rivers and oceans, city and country. And somewhere in all this a few very small figures representing the Temptation of Christ, St. George, or the Flight into Egypt.

Jan Brueghel, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, was still part of this tradition. The eldest son of the great 'Peasant,' Bruegel first became well-known as a flower painter, but he also pro­duced a number of landscapes, mostly in small format, with lively scenes of daily life. His Landscape with Windmills (see right) is already imbued with the new spirit to the extent that it contents itself with an apparently accidental glance at a simple flat plain without particular motifs. In many respects, however, it remains trapped in the conventional Flemish pattern. The spectator's view is not from ground level but from a higher standpoint, which allows an exceptionally broad field of vision. In addition Brueghel has raised the horizon so that he is working against the correct perspec­tive. This is cleverly disguised as he merges the horizon impercept­ibly with the sky. In order to suggest depth, the picture is divided horizontally into three strips; the front section is defined by brown tones, the middle one by yellow and green, and the background by blue tones. Beyond the foreground, which lies in shadow, the gaze is attracted by the luminous middle ground, while the blue in the back­ground seems to recede, reinforcing the sense of depth. This still cor­responds to the pattern developed in the sixteenth century by Flemish painters such as Joachim Patinir, although Brueghel was skillful enough to transform it subtly.

As has been suggested, the Dutch painters were the first to free themselves from this pattern in the 1620s. The little Dune Landscape with Trees and Wagon by Pieter de Molijn in Braun­schweig (see right) is considered an important milestone in this development. No distant view distracts from this modest motif. Molijn creates a uniform coloring in a reduced palette of green, yellow, and brown tones which are combined in the painting to create a light and airy effect.

A comparison with the painting by Esaias van de Velde reveals another unusual aspect of this work. In order to create a sense of depth in the landscape, Esaias fell back on the traditional formula in which elements of the picture appear to recede into the distance in a zigzag formation. Molijn's composition, by contrast, depends on a single diagonal, which is determined by the course of the brightly lit sandy path. This element, which was fundamental to later land­scapes, probably goes back to Adam Elsheimer, the German painter active in Rome around 1600 (see p. 476), whose works were known in Holland through prints. Molijn achieves a powerful dynamic through the use of the diagonal: the path seems to pass only faintly through the picture and the cart rattling along will soon have disap­peared from view. The spectator has the impression of being able to enter and exit the landscape along the path. Esaias' painting shows a static situation closed in on itself: the river looks like a lake, framed on all sides by the trees on the banks. On each side the protruding trees form the conventional repoussoir which closes off the view to the edges of the picture. The area of dark shadow in the foreground also serves to round off the image at the front. Molijn's dune land­scape, on the other hand, does not offer a closed-off view, but shows an apparently incidentally chosen section from a greater whole which might continue beyond the edges of the picture. This is char­acteristic of many works by Dutch landscape painters up to Philips Koninck. Inevitably, the sense of a scene almost chosen at random is somewhat undermined by the fact that the composition itself had to be carefully contrived in order to create a picture that would have the power to command the viewer's attention.

Molijn's innovations in composition and color were further developed by his Haarlem artist colleagues Salomon van Ruysdael and Jan van Goyen. Van Goyen's landscape with a view of his native town, Leyden (see p. 452), is also based on a diagonal composition, although it is not as clearly defined as in Molijn's work. Van Goyen's muddy, almost monochrome coloring is unsurpassed. On account of the thinly varnished application of color, the beige primer on the wood panel shows through the whole picture, contributing to its atmospheric effects: the outline of the church by the river appears almost to dissolve into damp mist and the veiled sunshine, while the shimmering light is suggested by the lively, ill-defined brushstrokes. The sober interpretation of the subject and poetic transfiguration enter into a tense liaison as nature and the work of man become blurred in the vibration of the damp air into an inseparable unity.

In spite of their patriotism, several Dutch artists were drawn to Italy from where they brought the southern light and the charming landscape of the Roman Campagna back to the North Sea coast. In about 1620, a colony of Dutch artists established a circle in Rome around the landscape painter Cornelis van Poelenburgh and Bartholomaeus Breenbergh; they became known as the 'Schilderbent,' the band of painters. It was a boisterous, hard-drinking club; each new member was accepted as a 'Bentvueghel,' a bird of the band, with a parody of ancient rituals, and supplied with a nickname. Rome's reputation soon spread as 'the heart of Sodom,' as the English moralist Joseph Hall wrote. Samuel von Hoogstraeten shuddered at the thought of his stay in Rome, and warned that three things above all should be avoided there: fellow-countrymen, wine, and women. But through their close contact with their fellow-coun­trymen, Dutch artists were also able to maintain a degree of inde­pendence from the strict guidelines of the Roman Academy. Between the 1630s and 1650s they were followed by a second generation of landscape painters, including Nicolaes Berchem, Jan Both, Jan Asselijn, and others. They took as their models the so-called 'heroic landscapes' of the French artist living in Rome, Claude Lorrain, but preferred to give them an idyllic mood by adding small figures of shepherds or gypsies. The term bambocciate is associated with these lively landscape scenes after the nickname given to Pieter van Laer.

These genre scenes often incorporate a moralistic element. In Nicolaes Berchem's landscape (see right above), the woman seated on a horse holds an upturned bowl while the man catches the water in his hat. Drinking was seen as a vice of excess, and is here com­mented upon by the animal behavior of the urinating horse, while the woman, by contrast, virtuously demonstrates moderate restraint.

The great appeal of Italian landscapes, indicated by high prices for the paintings, induced even artists who had never themselves been in the south to adopt its warm light, sometimes even projecting it onto native subjects. The Dordrecht painter Aelbert Cuyp, for example, bathed his River Landscape (see right below) in a golden evening light. His painting, now in the Karlsruhe Kunsthalle, is dominated by the cows standing by the water which appear transfig­ured, almost glorified by the golden light. The field of vision recedes far into the distance, an effect which is reinforced by the sloping ground in the front of the image and seems almost to monumental­ize the animals. In Holland the cow was not considered a mundane subject at all. It not only stood for earth, spring, fertility, and pros­perity, but became, like the hollandse tuin, a symbol of Holland itself: the bollandse kuh, fat, fertile, and peaceable.

Aelbert Cuyp belongs to the second generation of Dutch land­scape painters who came to artistic maturity around the middle of the century. These artists distanced themselves from the consistent realism of the founding fathers who wanted to capture the essential character of the northern landscape, and introduced instead heroic and sublime aspects into their landscapes. The most important land­scape painter of this generation, if not of the whole century, is con­sidered to be Jacob van Ruisdael, who developed a variety of new motifs and meanings. He integrated real life into a superior course of events more distinctly than any of his predecessors. The dramatic settings of his landscapes diverge from the calm serenity which dis­tinguishes the works of van Goyen or Salomon van Ruysdael, an uncle of Ruisdael. In order to achieve a tension in the structure of his painting, Ruisdael often concentrates on a central element of the scene, which may appear somewhat surprising in a landscape paint­ing. And yet a tree, a windmill, even a cornfield or a path among the dunes may, as in a historical painting, become the chief protagonist of an event. This is certainly the case with the dramatic Waterfall with Mountain Castle (see p. 455, below) now in Braunschweig.

A view like this can no longer be seen as a straightforward repre­sentation of a landscape, for the picture is made up of various set-pieces, each inspired by a different event in Ruisdael's life. The motif of the castle on the rock goes back to a journey to Germany which he undertook at the beginning of the 1650s with Nicolaes Berchem. This was the only time he ever left the Netherlands. Here Ruisdael discovered the castle of Bentheim, towering on a little rock above the plain, which later appeared, in a guise considerably glorified and exaggerated by dramatic imagination, in some of his paintings and drawings, effectively transferred from the north German lowland plain to the Alpine regions. More than a decade later this image per­sisted in the Braunschweig painting. But the work of other artists also served as sources for motifs. The drama of this image expresses to some extent Ruisdael's tragic understanding of the world. It is not necessary to go back to contemporary emblem literature to under­stand the waterfall which carries everything along with it as a symbol of the transience of life. However, the castle gleaming in light high above on the rock seems to be conversing with heaven itself; the source here may be the biblical concept of the eternal city on Mount Zion

The awareness of the constant presence of death penetrates many of Ruisdael's landscapes. In his winter landscapes black and gray clouds convey a gloomy mood. The lively activity on the frozen lakes and rivers of the kind seen in the work of Hendrik Avercamp would be inconceivable in Ruisdael's melancholy winter scenes. In the Winter Landscape now in the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum all life seems to have come to a stop, and is positively frozen, like the boat on the shore and the ships' masts in the background. But smoke is rising from the houses, which are colored in warm tones, suggesting that life here is waiting for the spring, which seems to be heralded by the sunny blue of the opening heavens.

The symbolism in Ruisdael's work is unobtrusive, but it is offered somewhat more explicitly than in the pictures of van Goyen for example. In his View of Leyden sky and earth, the earthly and the heavenly spheres, seem to mingle into an inseparable unity. It sug­gests a different understanding of the world from that implied by Ruisdael. In Ruisdael's Bleaching Fields near Haarlem (see left) the separation of the two spheres is intensified. Only the town's churches, in particular the mighty Grote Kerk of St. Bavo, are able to push through the horizon and penetrate the regions of the heavens. The unusual choice of the vertical format allows Ruisdael to describe an expanse of sky which seems to promise freedom, while the human sphere of activity seems relatively very small. The two realms are linked, apart from the churches, only by the echo that the white clouds find in the gleaming areas of the outspread sheets in the bleaching fields in the foreground. In contemporary literature and in emblem books, white clean linen corresponds to the chaste souls of saints. Only those who leads virtuous and modest lives can gain entrance into heaven—such was the Christian rule of life that could be read into a simple town view.

Ruisdael brings together the distinguish­ing elements of the Dutch landscape. At the point where land, water, and sky intersect stands the windmill; the work of mankind appears to be mercilessly exposed and unprotected from nature. This impression arises from the fact that the mill is seen from a lower point of view than the rest of the landscape; as a result it appears severely foreshortened and tipped slightly forwards. Just as the mill is exposed to nature, so mankind is subordinate to the power of God. At the moment depicted, the wind has dropped and the sailing boat lies motionless on the calm water, but the sky is turbulent, dark clouds are rising, and one last ray of sun­shine falls upon the mill—soon there will be rain and thunder. This moment in time, the fixing of a particular instant, is a special quality of Dutch landscape painting, and Ruisdael brought this mood to its culminating point.

If Ruisdael's Mill at Wijk near Duursteede has become the representative image of the mill, then the famous Avenue of Middelharms of his pupil Meindert Hobbema is the quintessential Dutch avenue. The windswept poplars assert themselves with difficulty in the broad plain, illustrating the way in which human beings have attempted to take possession of this land with rational systems. Hobbema here demonstratively abandons the diagonal model which had dominated Dutch landscape painting for years and resorts to the old central per­spective. The avenue divides the picture into two parts with a striking consistency and runs in a dead straight line towards the town. The spectator is thus drawn directly into the image and has the impression of being on their way to the town, perhaps slightly elevated on the box of a coach; soon they will meet the hunter with his dog. This painting is dis­tinguished not only by its bold composi­tion but above all by the clean clarity of its light.

Rembrandt's landscapes express an even higher degree of moral content than is suggested by Ruisdael; they can actually be read as Christian historical paintings. Nature also served Rembrandt as a medium for certain themes. His aesthetic interest in nature itself only emerged later, particularly in drawings. The ten landscape paintings, however, were all created relatively early in his career, between 1636 and 1640. The Landscape with Storm (see p. 456) was painted by Rembrandt at about the same time as the Deception of Samson, one of his most dramatic pictures (see p. 448). The land­scape illustrates such a vivid play of natural forces that the viewer might begin to see in it a manifestation of divine power. A knowl­edge of the use of metaphor in contemporary literature can posi­tively transform the landscape into a religious image: a vehicle halfway to a high-lying town approaches a bridge where a waterfall rushes down the mountain. The carriage can be compared to the wandering soul searching for salvation, which shines out invitingly in the form of the brightly lit town at the top of the mountain. On its way there, the soul must leave behind the transient world, repre­sented by the waterfall, in order to find salvation in the 'heavenly Jerusalem' with Christ who is symbolized by the bridge.

However, landscape painting also offered history painters like Philips Koninck and Rubens an opportunity to dispense with moral­izing content. Philips Koninck developed an unconventional form of panoramic landscape (see right). Every element seems to cowers under the sky as its clouds sweep over the land. In contrast to the Flemish landscape tradition, here the sky takes over more than half the height of the picture. Koninck boldly dispenses with any accent that might fix the image, whether in the center or at the edge of the picture. Only the reflection of the clouds in the river which runs through the scene provides any kind of focus. In spite of the path in the foreground which runs at an angle, the field of vision is no longer closed by a diagonal composition, but is built up from hori­zontals parallel to the picture plane, graduated in strips in the back­ground. Here Koninck alludes to the Flemish formula, but without being tied to the color perspective. By subtle balancing of the light and dark zones he creates a wide plain which is open on all sides, but still creates a self-contained image.

Rubens, who produced a whole series of landscapes, was also indebted to the Flemish landscape model. In his Autumn Landscape with View of Het Steen in Morning Light (see right) the high stand­point extends the view into the distance; the town of Mechelen is seen on the horizon. Unlike Koninck, Rubens effects this aerial per­spective through the use of brown, green, and blue pigments which are dissolved into delicate tones by the carefully considered treat­ment of light. A tall tree in the foreground to the right, which would have framed the view of the landscape in a conventional way, was evidently overpainted by the artist. Here Rubens celebrates the rich fertility of the delightful Flemish landscape on a sunny autumn morning, a scene enlivened by a wealth of narrative details. The artist had in fact just bought the country house seen on the left and he spent the last five years of his life here with his young wife and growing family. In this environment he again remembered the Flemish tradition and took pleasure in the simple life of the country, which he undoubtedly idealized, alluding in this work to the classi­cal pastoral idiom. Life in the Flemish countryside is represented here as a lost Arcadia, a paradise on earth. The late landscapes were painted by Rubens for himself and this painting very probably hung at Het Steen. Here the painter expresses his personal feelings and his deep affection for this spot of earth; this above all differentiates his landscape from the sober Dutch approach that is exemplified by Koninck's panorama.

The English landscape painter John Constable clearly grasped this when he saw the Autumn Landscape with Het Steen in Morning Light, which had come into English possession at the beginning of the nineteenth century. He marvelled at the special qualities of Rubens' landscapes—'the freshness and dewy light, the joyous and animated character which he has imparted to it, impressing on the level monotonous scenery of Flanders all the richness which belongs to its noblest features'—declaring that 'in no other branch of the art is Rubens greater than in landscape.'


The English artist Sir Joshua Reynolds deplored the waste of the Dutch genre painter Jan Steen's talent on unworthy subjects. He could have become one of the great masters of art if instead of paint­ing 'vulgar figures,' he had devoted himself to 'the selection and imitation of what is great and elevated in nature.' Scenes of daily life, without a historical, biblical, or mythological narrative, were regarded as essentially unworthy subjects. But genre scenes were very common in Dutch painting and very popular among the citi­zens. During Reynolds's time, in the eighteenth century, the more profound significance of these works was overlooked and these meanings have only been reconstructed during the last few decades. Like landscape paintings, they are sometimes explicitly, and some­times only subliminally, thematized.

Haarlem artists initiated the first attempts to represent everyday scenes from their own time and environment. Willem Buytewech, only ten of whose paintings have survived, anticipated some of the elements of genre painting with his so-called 'Merry Companies.' His followers included such artists as Pieter Codde, Willem Duyster, and Dirck Hals, the brother of the great portrait painter Frans Hals. Convivial social activity had already been represented in painting in Flanders during the sixteenth century, but always as an illustration of biblical narratives such as the calling of Matthew or the story of the prodigal son. They generally showed appropriate historical dress and were thus removed from contemporary experience.

Buytewech's Merry Company (see above) appears as natural as if the painter had just come upon the group—the four young people seem to have been disturbed in their sociable circle by someone entering the room. In fact Buytewech has assembled all the elements of the picture with careful thought, and the apparently trivial scene was conceived with reference to a more profound meaning. This is an allegorical representation of the five senses, represented by every­day objects: the wine represents the sense of taste, the burning candle indicates sight, the cigar suggests smell, the musical instru­ments hearing, and the man's hand on the woman's arm and the bowl with the glowing ashes the sense of touch. Buytewech further describes what happens when one abandons oneself to the charms of the senses without the control of reason: the four young people are uninhibitedly indulging in the enjoyment of earthly pleasures. But this is also somewhat cryptically implied. The monkey stands for sin and sensuality, the musical instruments and the dagger in its sheath are potential erotic symbols, and the gesture of the man dressed in green is still perfectly comprehensible today. The woman with the striking lace collar is in the tradition of 'Dame World'; she is the embodiment of all earthly wishes. Her traditional attribute, the globe, is replaced here by a map. The invitation from 'Dame World' to give way to the worldly joys of the senses is one to which the three young men have surrendered entirely. References to such meanings which were given to everyday things are found in contem­porary literature and emblem-books as well as contemporary prints from paintings, which were provided with appropriate commentar­ies. Next to the deceptively authentic representation of reality, the Dutch valued the game of revealing the veiled meanings of paint­ings—as if one were to find a big bunch of grapes under a pile of leaves, as the Dutch folk writer Jacob Cats wrote. No less was expected from such genre scenes than the highly cultured renais­sance humanists anticipated from mythological representations. In Dutch genre painting, however, only an alert mind rather than a spe­cial education was required to connect the images to everyday wisdom; the 'reading of pictures' was a sport of ordinary people, not a cultured self-affirmation of the elite.

In addition to Arcadian figures and representatives of the rich upper classes, simple peasants in the inns also appeared in these works. This feature goes back to the Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder, who had depicted peasant feasts in the mid-sixteenth century. Adriaen Brouwer is considered to have successfully revived this tradi­tion at the beginning of the seventeenth century. He influenced both the Flemish and the Dutch peasant genre and artists like Adriaen van Ostade in Haarlem and David Teniers in Antwerp. Coming from northern Flanders, he spent five of his mere fifteen creative years in Holland and then became active in Antwerp. His artistic faculties were and are highly regarded. Both Rubens and Rembrandt owned several of his works. The reception of his work is typical of the mis­understanding of Dutch genre painting. It seemed obvious that Brouwer himself should have moved in the circles depicted in his paintings. He may even have portrayed himself as a frequenter of inns—the central figure in the Metropolitan Museum painting has been seen as a self-portrait. Nevertheless his paintings are construc­tions, and the choice of milieu was above all dependent on artistic considerations. Brouwer painted his works in the studio, not in the public house. He may well have made studies there, but he also fell back on current types, such as those of Pieter Bruegel. The exceptional quality of his painting, the care taken with the settings, and the well-considered application of color speak against the concept of Brouwer as a good-for-nothing who was only concerned with drinking sprees.

The peasant genre often serves to belittle in moralistic fashion the fool who behaves like an animal. After all, it was not peasants who bought these paintings but well-mannered citizens who could thus observe how cultured they themselves were by contrast to these unwholesome characters. At the same time these images served as warnings against surrendering to sensual excess. Smoking or 'drink­ing tobacco' was considered as much a sin as consuming alcohol, gambling, or sexual debauchery. Excessive consumption of tobacco was reputed to reduce male potency. Adriaen van Ostade shows how undignified a person's behavior can become if he gives way to alco­hol and tobacco.

Adriaen Brouwer, by contrast uses such scenes of excess in the first instance to illustrate human emotions. His Smokers (see above) could indeed be seen as an allegory of taste, but Brouwer seems mainly concerned with depicting the various reactions to unaccus­tomed pleasure. His characters display quite openly how they feel. They are also shown as individuals, not as types, as they are in Ostade's work. Each person brings his own story with him and his own character, which allows him to express his particular feelings. Brouwer's theme is human emotion, which he was able to represent with unique ability. His whole interest lies in the facial expression of sorrow, anger, enjoyment or disgust. In the Frankfurt painting The Bitter Drink (see above left) he represents a single human emotion: the deep revulsion in reaction to an evil-tasting drink. There are no accessories, no background, and no narrative suggested here—just this one emotion.

The simple milieu of the lower classes allowed Brouwer to por­tray human behavior in a natural manner. The citizens of the higher classes were bound by cultural constraints and could not give free rein to their emotions. This higher social group is the world of Gerard ter Borch from the obscure town of Deventer. He took genre painting into a new phase around the middle of the century, often showing well-to-do women surrounded by servants and dressed in elegant clothing. In his best paintings Gerard ter Borch never com­mits himself to a statement; the feelings and thoughts of his charac­ters remain ambiguous. While Brouwer portrayed well-defined emotions, the thoughts of Gerard's Woman Drinking Wine are not entirely obvious. Clearly she has received a letter and has now laid out her writing utensils in order to reply to it. The writing and receiving of letters is one of the great themes of Dutch genre paint­ing. Usually it refers to amorous relationships. This is indicated in many paintings by playing-cards with hearts or—as here—the explicit depiction of a bed in the background, surrounded by a canopy. Prosperous citizens adopted from the aristocracy the game of billets d'amour, and advisers were consulted as to how allusions in love-letters should be properly formulated and how they should be responded to.

The drinking of wine, also a constantly recurring theme of genre painting, was considered quite simply unseemly for women of good breeding. If a woman was fond of wine, she could be easily seduced. A low neckline was a further unmistakable sign. The young woman here, however, is very modestly dressed. The spectator is moved by her evident conflict of conscience. Gerard portrays her sympatheti­cally, well aware that everyone undergoes a similar conflict at some time between the temptations of the senses and the virtue of reason. The young woman's final decision is left open.

In the Netherlands there were definite ideas about the appropri­ate role of women. In well-to-do houses a woman took responsibil­ity for the household and had to supervise the domestic staff. Most women understood this task as a challenge and a moral duty. A well-conducted house, after all, bore witness to the exemplary character of the lady of the house. Many paintings show that everything is turned upside down if she neglects her duties. In addition, the educa­tion of children above all was entrusted to her. Pieter de Hooch shows a young mother who has probably just finished feeding her child and is now lacing up her bodice (see right, below). It was not usual, however, for a well-off woman to nurse her own children. The folk writer Jacob Cats, whose widely read books gave advice about suitable behavior in all possible situations of middle-class life, rec­ommended that: 'One who bears children is a mother only in part, but she who nurses her children is a mother in every way.' It was thought that moral and intellectual qualities were passed on with the mother's milk.

Pieter de Hooch developed a particular sense of depth in his paintings by allowing a view of the back room from the front room of a house, so that people really appeared to be moving within the interior and not in some uncertain corner of a room. The light comes not from an undefined source, but streams through the window as the bright light of day, unfolding in the house in a precisely observed treatment of light.

These initial efforts were followed by Jan Vermeer who brought Dutch genre painting to its highest level. The artist, who lived in Delft, left behind hardly more than thirty works which stand out like precious jewels from the enormous number of paintings pro­duced during the seventeenth century. He worked very slowly and carefully, as his financial independence permitted him to do. Badly paid artists such as van Goyen, however, had to paint a great quan­tity of material, and therefore painted fast, in order to sell more pic­tures and earn a living. Vermeer had married a wealthy woman and inherited his parents' inn. Above all, however, he was regularly sup­ported by a Delft collector and in the 1660s his paintings reached high prices. He began as a history painter, but soon turned to genre painting. Pieter de Hooch, three years older than Vermeer, encour­aged the younger painter to paint spacious interiors in which the fig­ures would have plenty of surrounding room and freedom of movement, while the theme of courtship goes back to Gerard ter Borch, whom Vermeer had met.

In the Girl with Wineglass, now in Braunschweig (see right, above), Vermeer opposes surrender to human urges with a call for moderation: the man in the background has succumbed to the numbing effect of tobacco, while the gentleman in the foreground is concentrating fully on the attractive young woman—surrender to wine is surrender to love. The woman in the stained glass of the window has suggested to some a depiction of temperance who shakes the reins as a metaphor for moderation. The ancestral portrait on the wall opposes exemplary discipline to the reprehensible behavior of the two men. It has frequently been assumed that the woman is being seduced. However, her low neckline, the provoca­tive red dress, and ultimately her sublime indifference to her admirer and her the conspiratorial glance at the spectator show clearly that it is the woman who is in charge of the situation. She is not being seduced; it is she who is seducing the man.

From the end of the 1650s Vermeer painted indoor scenes almost exclusively, always with a window on the left-hand side through which bright light pours into the room. Obviously he chose this model because it offered the best opportunity to study and depict the effect of light on the observer's perception of space and objects. In order to examine more accurately the influence of light on objects, he occasionally used a camera obscura which is reflected in the char­acteristic luster of the highlights in his pictures. The French Impressionists were to rediscover Vermeer from a similar interest in the effects of light.

This painting of a simple kitchen maid requires no anecdotal content or sym­bolic allusions. It grips the spectator through the physical presence of the maid, but also through her oblivious con­centration on her actions. It is a mood, not a story, that is being conveyed here. The well-rounded but dignified vitality of the woman is stressed by the fact that she fills up a great part of the composition. With a full, dry brush Vermeer creates a painterly surface relief which gives her a sculptural quality. At the same time the painting is imbued with a sense of time-lessness, as though the flow of milk would never end. If Vermeer gives this earthy woman a physical heaviness, he allows the fine fea­tures of the Woman with Scales (see right) to appear positively Madonna-like and ethereal (she is believed to be Vermeer's wife, who bore him fourteen children). She is evidently of a higher social status, which is matched by the fine coloring of the piece. But both women, completely absorbed in their tasks, radiate an unshakable harmony— the kitchen maid in her oblivious manner, the elegant woman in her conscious effort. She holds the scales in such a pre­cise manner that the weighing seems to take on a higher significance. This secular activity is associated with the Last Judgment, which is depicted in the paint­ing in the background.

Due to the numerous symbolic ele­ments in the picture, this work has always been seen as an allegory, and gave rise to a number of inconsistent interpre­tations: pearls, for example, could stand for seduction by worldly luxury, but also for the purity of the Virgin. The woman in the picture, however, is weighing nei­ther pearls nor gold, as has long been assumed; the scales are empty. Here a symbolic weighing of her own actions is intended which corresponds to the signif­icance of the mirror on the wall at the left as a sign of self-knowledge. At the same time, however, it refers to narcissistic vanity—just like the precious objects on the table. It is essential, as the Last Judgment implies, to renounce vanity in the knowledge of the transience of human existence.

The woman's activity has also been related to Ignatius of Loyola. Vermeer, after his marriage converted to Catholicism, the faith of his wife, and maintained contacts with Jesuits. Ignatius had counseled weighing one's sins as though one were standing before one's judge on the day of judgment: 'I shall be like the balanced scales, ready to follow the way that leads to the fame and praise of God, Our Lord, and to the sal­vation of my soul.' Balance, in fact, could be considered the theme of the painting: the alignment of the scales is only a symbol for this, while the compo­sition in general, as well as the emotional state of the young woman, directly illus­trate this desirable state.

Both paintings are quite remarkable in their varied handling of light: the first captivates us with the contrasting colors of yellow and blue, which were much prized by Vermeer; the other dispenses with color accents and relies for its effects on the tension between light and dark. The face and hands of the young woman emerge from the diffused dark as if bathed in light, and framed in pure white. This positively dissolves the outlines and they seem to be wreathed in an aura. Similar effects of light can be observed on the kitchen maid, in particular on her hands and arms.

In his delicate manner of painting the Delft artist was influenced by Gerard Dou, the founder of the Leyden school of 'fine painting,' to which, in addition to his pupil Frans van Mieris, artists like Gabriel Metsu and Gottfried Schalcken also belonged. Dou was famous for his remarkably fine color technique which, as a contem­porary remarked, often approached the smoothness of enamel. We know he used a magnifying glass for painting and hung a cloth as a canopy over his easel, so that not an atom of dust could settle in the layer of paint. Dou had studied with Rembrandt between 1628 and 1631 as one of his first apprentices. But while the master soon abandoned this smooth manner of painting, Dou developed it further into his own style of 'fine painting.'

Gerard Dou became one of the most successful and highly-paid artists in Holland. His reputation by far exceeded that of Rembrandt, and his art was approved by classicists. After the resto­ration of the Stuarts in 1660 the States General, in order to win the favor of King Charles II, presented to him with precious objets d'art and several paintings. These included Dou's Young Mother (see p. 466), reinforcing the idea that the artist was held in high esteem during this period. The painting shows the companionship between a young mother and her children in a simple setting; they are estab­lished as good role models through the luxurious effect of 'fine painting.' The virtuous character of the young woman is underlined by many features which have special emblematic significance.

The large academic element in the university city of Leyden cher­ished a particular interest in cryptic meanings or those which were complex in structure. Such cryptic meanings also marked the work of the Leyden artist Jan Steen, whose earthy peasant scenes effec­tively disguise the fact that they are essentially moral lectures in paint. Steen, however, almost always included written sayings in his pictures in order to draw attention to the underly­ing message. He had to accept accusations that he was in the first instance a writer, which did not sit well with his painting. Unlike Dou, Steen was unable to live from the sale of his paintings. As an additional source of income, he therefore ran a brewery in Delft and in 1762 obtained a licence to manage an inn at his house in Leyden. As they did with Brouwer, and with as little justification, people have drawn conclusions from the paintings about the crude charac­ter of the artist. This unfavorable judgment hardly corresponds with his role as holder of several important offices and his activity in the professional association of rhetoricians. Steen painted in Leyden but also lived for a long time in Haarlem, Delft, and The Hague, where he met his future wife, the daughter of the landscape painter Jan van Goyen. In the 1660s he produced large, complex paintings which incorporate his views on humanity. In The Life of Mankind (see right, above) he literally pulls aside the (painted) curtain and grants the spectator a look at the stage of life. The people shown are fol­lowing their impulses: some are gazing deeply into their glass, others indulging their passion for gaming, yet others flirting with each othfer. Tfee inherent theme of the piece is evident from the many oys­ters which are being offered, eaten, and finally discarded every­where. Oysters were considered an aphrodisiac and thus function as a sign of unfettered sexual urges. Unnoticed by the persons in the tavern room, a boy looks down at the goings-on through a gap in the planks of the ceiling and blows soap bubbles which are tradi­tionally a symbol of transience. A clock is also clearly in view on the back wall. Steen does not hold up the moralizing finger of a teacher, but concludes sympathetically that human beings are inescapably trapped by their urges as their lifespan is limited.

Sympathy for the earthy, compulsive side of human nature also marks the work of the Flemish painter Jacob Jordaens by whom Jan Steen was influenced. In 1649-50 Jordaens had furnished the summer residence of the stadbolder, Huis ten Bosch near The Hague, with large cycles of paintings. This was possible after the Peace of Westphalia as he was a Protestant. The sumptuous furnish­ings of his scenes made him particularly prized in aristocratic circles. It is true, however, that the furnishings of his history paintings and the virtuosity of his technique often stand in stark contrast to the themes depicted.

In his painting The King Drinks (see right, below) the golden glow on the jewelery, festive dishes, and velvet robes gives the impression of a feast of noble companions. A closer look reveals that somewhat crude characters are celebrating here in a boisterous and uninhibited manner. It is the feast of the Bean King, which in Flanders was held on the feast of Epiphany. Jordaens' representation of this feast was so popular that his workshop produced a whole series of variations on this theme. The king was the guest who found the bean baked into a piece of bread. He then reigned over the table and led the entertainment. The moment is shown in which the king raises his glass and the company enthusiastically shouts 'the king drinks.' It was the king's task to allocate roles to the other partici­pants in the banquet. The queen, the cupbearer, the minstrel, the doctor, and the fool had slips of paper with their new roles fastened to them, and were thus officially appointed—two of these 'orders' lie on the floor in the foreground. Jordaens' model for his king, with his unmistakably striking head, was his old teacher Adam van Noort with whom the artist kept up a friendly relationship. Despite his evi­dent sympathy for the subject, which is conveyed less by the explicit characterization of the individuals than by the fine painting and light brushwork, here Jordaens, as a cultured citizen, is essentially concerned with moderation. 'Nil similius insano quam ebrius' is written in the cartouche above as a motto—nothing is more like a madman than a drunkard. Above this is the thunderously laughing face of a satyr framed by bunches of grapes and demonstrating Bacchus' mastery over the scene. It is the same theme that Rubens demonstrates in his Drunken Silenus (see p. 439). But while Rubens depicts a mythological figure, Jordaens illustrates the consequences of excess in a genre scene with people from his own circle, in which his contemporaries could recognize themselves.

Genre painters portrayed human weak­ness with considerable sympathy. They shared their fellow-citizens' high-spirited love of life and enjoyment of pleasure, although in church they were constantly admonished towards restraint, reason, and discipline. Speaking the truth through laughter, as counselled by the Calvinist humanist and folk writer Jacob Cats, could be the motto of many genre paintings. To a certain extent genre paint­ing served as social education. But while the moral sermon was painted in the most beautiful colors, the pictures them­selves were a constant temptation to sur­render to sensual pleasures. And the more seductive the sensuality of his paintings, the more highly prized was the painter in Holland. This deliberate ambiguity con­stituted the charm of genre painting.

Still life

The ambiguity between seductive sensuality and moralizing content is characteristic not only of genre paintings, but also of the many still lifes which were created in the Netherlands. As a result of flourish­ing trade and the strength and variety of production in agriculture and business a new, rich assortment of wares became available which was to influence the lives of many people. This also inspired the depiction of consumer goods in still-life paintings. In Flanders this development had begun to emerge some time earlier, but pure still lifes were first created about 1600.

The depiction of secular objects, like landscapes and genre scenes, at first legitimized itself in the guise of history painting. A work by the Flemish painter Pieter Aertsen is dedicated to the story of Christ in the house of Martha and Mary (see right, below). The scene itself is played out only in the background, while a still life in the foreground is prominently displayed, showing a large haunch of meat, bread rolls, and flowers among other things. It is true that the story of the title serves here not only as an excuse to show a kitchen piece, but also for a confrontation between vita activa and vita contemplativa, between Martha's leaning towards earthly things and Mary's devotion to the word of God. But the moralizing inter­pretation is hidden behind the presence of the secular objects which here literally take the foreground.

The new category of independent still lifes developed as kitchen pieces, market scenes, or tables laden with food took up ever more space in history paintings. Jan Brueghel unites these early forms of still-life in a sumptuous Allegory of the Sense of Taste (see above), part of a cycle of five paintings illustrating allegories of the senses. Here Brueghel gathers together everything that arouses the sense of taste, but is not yet ready to dispense with personification as a clas­sic form of allegory: a female figure embodies the sense of taste. In the pure still life—as in genre painting—the objects themselves rep­resent the various senses: musical instruments, for example, stand for hearing, flowers for smell, and foodstuffs for taste.

Around the turn of the century, Antwerp artists such as Osias Beert and Clara Peeters developed the early forms of the so-called 'laid table,' a sub-category of the still life, which was to be varied and further developed over the following decades. The display still lifes are in this tradition. For special occasions display tables would be arranged in households with valuable possessions such as goblets, porcelain wares or gold and silver containers together with delica­cies on a sideboard. A still life like the one by Clara Peeters (see right) is, however, not simply a copy of such a table, but was designed in conformity with the picture's own rules. This is sig­nalled, for example, by the fact that each of the bosses on the lidded goblet reflects the image of the artist at her easel with her brush and palette. As in Flemish landscapes, a high viewpoint is adopted here and the upwardly raised horizon corresponds to the table surface, which is almost imperceptibly tipped forward. This ensures that each of the objects is easy to see. They have been arranged in such a way that wherever possible they do not overlap.

Clara Peeters was active in the second decade of the century in The Hague and Amsterdam, where she influenced still-life painting for a time; in Haarlem artists such as Floris van Schooten, Floris van Dyck, and Nicolaes Gillis also painted ontbijtjes, breakfast pieces, following a similar pattern. Here however, as early as the 1620s, the composition was altered in a manner which pointed the way for others. Willem Claesz Heda and Pieter Claesz abandoned the raised angle of vision and preferred to arrange the objects in an extended diagonal rising from left to right, enlivening the static structure of the composition. The pioneering invention of the diagonal in land­scape painting, which can also be attributed to Haarlem, was adopted by the still-life painters. Willem Claesz Heda in his Dresden still life boldly leaves a large area of the picture's surface empty while still creating a coherent artistic scheme. In comparison to Clara Peeters' display table, the objects do not appear to have been consciously arranged. Rather there is the impression that someone has ended his meal in such a hasty manner that his wineglass has broken. In fact, here too everything has been chosen and arranged with considerable forethought.

Characteristic of the Haarlem still life from the 1620s to the 1640s is almost monochrome coloration with subtle use of tones of brown, green and gray, a phenomenon which relates to the muddy landscapes of Jan van Goyen. These so-called monochrome banketjes present a special challenge to the artist in the reproduction of such diverse materials as those of a pie, pewter plate, silver bowl, and wineglass. Over several decades Heda used variations of the same objects in his paintings, which were nonetheless so carefully selected that they offered a view of a great variety of materials which he evi­dently considered an inexhaustible source of interest.

But the choice of the objects is also dependent on their higher meanings, which are again intended to transmit a moral message. As in the genre paintings and landscapes, this level of meaning is more or less explicit. The moralizing content in the so-called vanitas still lifes, is however, unmistakable, reminding the observer of the transi­ence of all earthly existence. Pieter Claesz, for example, combined four vanitas elements at once—a pocket watch, a skull, an over­turned glass, and a candleholder, with the wick of the candle just burning out. The striving after knowledge, represented by a book, various papers, and a quill pen is set against the endless wisdom of God beside which human efforts appear vain and arrogant. In the university city of Leyden special book still lifes were created which illustrate the abundance of reading material (see right, below). Today it is astonishing to discover that as early as 1600 Barnaby Rich deplored the great number of books as one of 'the great diseases of our time, which so fill the world that it is not able to digest the superfluity of worthless stuff which every day is hatched and brought into the world.' Often the books in the still life themselves are clearly falling apart, and it is obvious that the paper will soon disintegrate. All knowledge is frail in view of the transi­ence of life. Thus the scholars bore in mind the limits of their intellectual ambitions and exhorted themselves to exercise restraint. In many still lifes the Christological interpretation of earthly things which had already been associated with them in devotional pictures of the middle ages continues to have a lasting influence. There is hardly a Madonna, Annunciation, or Adoration in which flowers or fruits, animals or insects do not symbolically inform the event. In this tradition, the Fruit Basket of Balthasar van der Ast (see left) can be read as a confrontation between good and evil, death and resur­rection. The bruises on the fruit where it has begun to rot are quite noticeable and flies, butterflies, and dragonflies flutter around them. Insects are frequently associated with the power of evil, and are seen as creatures of the devil. Opposed to these are symbols of the Resurrection: lizards, because they shed their skins, are believed to have many lives, the apple refers to Christ's taking upon himself mankind's original sin, and grapes are interpreted as the disciples of Christ since Christ referred to himself as vitis vera, the true vine.

Some still lifes effectively became devotional paintings: in a painting by Simon Luttichuys the few objects are arranged in a niche, which often housed pictures of saints or devotional images since the arch is considered an attribute of dignity. Wine and bread in the painting refer to the Last Supper. The stem of the wineglass consists of a skillfully formed serpent, a reminder of the original sin which was overcome by Christ.

Many special forms of still life developed, with books, fish, birds, game, kitchen equipment, or flowers, the preferences varying from place to place. Flower still lifes were produced in many areas, begin­ning with Ambrosius Bosschaert in Utrecht and Jan Brueghel in Antwerp and Brussels. Like the laid tables, Brueghel's painted bou­quet of flowers (see p. 474, above) only appears to be as he might have found it. In fact the flowers are piled up to such a height that it would have been impossible for their stems to reach the vase. In order to show so many blooms, Brueghel would have had to spread them out on a surface but he nevertheless managed to convey the illusion of a round bouquet. It is such a finely constructed edifice, from very small flowers to large heavy blooms, that it gives the impression that the whole world of flowers has been assembled here. In fact these flowers would never in reality be seen all together in a vase, for they bloom at different times of the year: peonies and irises, tulips and roses, carnations and anemones, lilies and narcissi. Brueghel painted the flowers straight from the model, without pre­liminary sketching. It took a correspondingly long time for him to be able to produce a picture of this kind, for he could only paint the flowers when they were in bloom. 'It is irksome,' he complained, 'to paint everything from nature, so I would rather make two more landscape paintings.'

Many of the flowers depicted had just been introduced from dis­tant lands and were still considered rarities in 1600. Their expensive cultivation was for a long time a privilege of the nobility. But the easily grown tulips soon became objects of speculative investment in Holland and many people tried to make their fortune from them. In the 1620s the tulip was quite simply the fashionable flower. Unusual varieties fetched astonishingly high prices. The Semper Augustus with red-streaked leaves and white stripes was at the top of the list; a single bulb could sell for one thousand guilders, and at the height of 'tulip mania' it changed hands for four thousand guilders in cash and a coach with two dapple-grey horses worth two thousand guild­ers. In 1636-37 a point of extreme inflation was reached which drove many into ruin, among them the landscape painter Jan van Goyen. The Grand Council of Holland finally brought an end to this by declaring all post-1636 transactions to be invalid.

Flowers like those seen in the pictures were not affordable for everyone. The bag of game in Frans Snyders' extensive still life (see right) indicates aristocratic circles, for the hunt was a privilege of the nobility which then shared out the game to the people on their estates. Such a luxurious still life met the special requirements of the court or nobility, hanging either in dining halls, galleries, or hunting lodges. But most of the objects shown in Dutch still lifes were luxury goods anyway, above all delicacies such as lemons, pies, light-colored bread, meat, oysters, lobsters, and wine. Even pewter pots and plates were valuable as long as the majority of the population used wooden plates and cups. Thus the still lifes thematized the seduction of mankind by luxury goods and earthly charms. These are almost always opposed by an admonition about transience. Both are united in flowers. They were considered the epitome of beauty, but at the same time were short-lived and thus demonstrated the transience of earthly attractions. 'Why do you gaze upon the flow­ers that stand so beautifully before you/ And yet through the might of the sun pass away all too fast?/ Take heed of God's word alone, that blossoms eternally./ What does the rest of the world become? Nothing' reads the inscription on a copper plate in another of Brueghel's still lifes.

The depiction of the beauty and preciousness of flowers placed high demands on the abilities of painters. 'In this painting I have done the best that I am able to do,' wrote Brueghel to his client, the Milanese Cardinal Borromeo. 'I believe that never before have so many rare and diverse flowers been completed with such care. Among the flowers I have painted a piece of jewelry with handmade medals and rarities of the ocean. I leave it to Your Honor to judge whether the flowers do not surpass the gold and jewelry.' Jan Brueghel rendered the blossoms with great mastery as realistically as possible; they appear deceptively authentic, almost as if they could be touched and smelled.

Pleasure in illusionistic deception in imitation of nature is typical of all categories of painting in the Netherlands, but it produced posi­tively excessive effects in the specialization of trompe-l'ceil still lifes, known in Dutch as bedrijghertje. Dutch painters took up the challenge of the two classical painters Zeuxis and Parrhasius, who, according to Pliny, attempted to surpass each other in their skill at illusionistic painting. Zeuxis painted grapes so convincingly that the birds tried to peck at them, but he had to recognize that Parrhasius excelled even this when he tried to pull aside a curtain in front of the latter's work which turned out to be painted. Such painted and partly drawn curtains are often found in Dutch still lifes: doors, win­dows, and cupboards are apparently open and nails protrude from the walls on which objects are hung.

Samuel van Hoogstraeten, a pupil of Rembrandt, also found enjoyment in trompe I'oeil and became a recognized master of this skill. However, he considered this type of picture only a game, while the true task of the artist lay in history painting for this required inventio, not merely imitatio. Admittedly one could achieve high esteem with the Bedrijghertjes. He himself had received a medal of honor from the Habsburg Emperor for a successful exercise in deception. His Karlsruhe Pinboard (see left, below), full of refer­ences to his life and his works, is a kind of representation of his extensive training as a painter—the spectacles symbolize the sense of sight—and as a writer—indicated by writing equipment and two of his own plays, while the combs refer to the ordering of thoughts. With the gold chain of honor given by the Emperor and a poem of praise he openly boasts of his own talents: 'You who doubt that Zeuxis' master hand/ deceived the birds with flat painted grapes, that a noble dispute could rob him of the mastery/ through the work of a more delicate brush and a white painter's garment,/ come and see Hoochstraet! The ruler of all the world/ falls into the same error through the art of his brush.'

Between the Netherlands and Italy: Germany in the Seventeenth Century

'Now we are wholly, indeed more than wholly, devastated!

The throngs of impudent folk, the raging trumpet,

The sword thick with blood, the thunder­ing cannon royal,

Have consumed all our sweat and work and provision.

The towers stand in flames, the church is turned upside-down, The council hall lies in horror, The strong ones are mown down, The maidens are dishonored, And wherever we look is fire, plague, and death, which drives through heart and spirit.'

Germany in the seventeenth century was dominated by the events of the Thirty Years War. Andreas Gryphius' poem Tears of the Fatherland of 1636 illus­trates the extent of the destruction. After the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 it took the whole of the second half of the cen­tury to overcome the consequences of the devastation. Only slowly did art begin to flourish again and it was not until the late baroque and rococo periods that Germany was to experience a cultu­ral blossoming. In southern Germany and Austria in particular, artists such as Johann Michael Rottmayr, Cosmas Damian Asam, Johann Baptist Zimmer-mann, and Franz Anton Maulpertsch developed their own solutions from the type of ceiling painting that had been invented in Rome.

But in the seventeenth century there were a number of active artists of German origin. The painter Joachim von Sandrart collected their biographies in his German Academy of the Noble Arts of Architecture, Sculpture, and Painting of 1675. In their native land they certainly had few opportunities. As a result of the war, there was a lack of teachers and col­lectors, and young aspiring artists found themselves obliged to go abroad. German artists were frequently regarded as members of the Dutch or Italian schools. The northern Germans Jurgen Ovens and Christopher Paudiss studied with Rembrandt and the genre painter Matthias Scheits from Hamburg with Philips Wouwerman in Haarlem. Later they were again able to work in Germany. Govaert Flinck's German origin has, however, been largely forgotten. He is considered one of the important history and portrait painters of Holland, who for a time was thought by his contemporar­ies superior to Rembrandt, whom he trained under. However, Flinck was actu­ally born in Kiev on the lower Rhine. Caspar Netscher from Heidelberg, a pupil of Gerard ter Borch, is numbered among the Dutch genre painters, and Ludolf Bakhuysen, born in Emden in East Fresia, is considered an Amsterdam marine painter. The circle of Bamboccianti (see p. 375) active in Rome included Johannes Lingelbach and Johann Heinrich Roos, the first from Frankfurt, the second from the Palatinate. Both had received their training in Holland, where Lingelbach had for a time painted stock figures for Jacob van Ruisdael. Jan Both, one of the most important Dutch Italianists, attracted German pupils in Rome such as Johann Franz Ermels and Wilhelm van Bemmel. Bemmel founded a family of landscape painters in Nuremberg which continued over several generations.

While many of the great Dutch mas­ters hardly traveled and developed their style in confrontation with the tradition of their city, German artists seem to have responded to a variety of stimuli, even from several different countries. Their work is correspondingly difficult to cate­gorize, and a specifically German version of baroque painting could not have developed in these circumstances. Some individual artistic personalities created their own style of art and exercised great influence on other artists.

Among these, Adam Elsheimer is by far the most important. This painter, who came from Frankfurt, went via Venice to Rome, where he worked for ten more creative years before he died at the age of thirty-two in 1610. In Rome he had con­tacts with Dutch artists and in particular with the landscape painter Paul Bril and with Rubens. Rubens was not the only artist to admire Elsheimer's work. His pictorial inventions, which were dis­persed throughout Europe in the form of engravings, were the foundation of some of the essential elements of baroque com­position.

Yet Elsheimer left behind only a small oeuvre consisting of scarcely thirty paint­ings. This may be attributed to the high cost of painting on miniature copper plates, but also probably to the painter's character: Rubens, at any rate, deplored his laziness. In many of his works the landscape plays an important role, but its mood always serves to convey the emo­tional content of the story being told. In the night scene Flight into Egypt (see left) Elsheimer shows three different sources of light, which illuminate the picture just enough for us to recognize the holy family: the moon and its reflection in the water, the torch in Joseph's hand, and the fire lit by the shepherds. Caravaggio, whose work Elsheimer had been able to see in Rome, had been the first to show sources of light in the picture itself—pre­viously the scene had been lit by indeter­minate sources outside the painting. In this nocturnal landscape, Elsheimer con­veys the uncertainty of the holy family, appearing as if lost under the wide starry sky, but also the confidence which will enable them to travel on and soon spend the night with the shepherds in a shel­tered spot.

In addition to Elsheimer, Johann Liss, twenty years his junior, is considered one of the most important German painters of the seventeenth century; he too was active mainly in Italy. During his fifteen creative years Liss assimilated a great number of different artistic sources which he had observed during his years of journeyman travels: in Haarlem the genre painting of Buytewech, in Antwerp the art of Jordaens, but also of Jan Brueghel, in Paris the coloring of Valentin de Bourgogne, in Rome the monumental half-length figures of Caravaggio, Feti, and Strozzi with their dramatic effects of light and dark, but at the same time the careful fine painting of Elsheimer in his small formats. His work is not only stylistically confusingly rich, but also diverse in subject matter: genre scenes, religious and mythological scenes, miniature paintings, monumental half-length pictures, and large altarpieces. Sandrart, who stayed with Liss in Venice in 1629, could not decide which of the diverse pictures he should prize the most. In Venice, where Liss worked for the last years of his life, he produced paintings which were far ahead of their time. They were to have a considerable impact on rococo painting in the eighteenth century.

This is particularly true of a work like the Inspiration of St. Jerome (see right), which Liss painted for the church of S. Nicolo dei Tolentini in Venice where it still hangs in the place for which it was painted. The Venetian travel guides of the seventeenth and eighteenth singled out the painting for special praise, and it was copied many times; Fragonard, for exam­ple, made an etching after it. The color­ing is unusual for the early seventeenth century as it is dominated by pastel tones which did not become popular until the rococo, but the most innovative aspect of the composition lies in the fact that it is not built out of the figures, but is based completely on the ensemble of color sur­faces. Thus a continuum of color is created in which the earthly and heavenly spheres mingle with each other. In this way Liss reflects the importance of the moment depicted, in which St. Jerome becomes aware of the divine power. Between light and shadow a rich spec­trum of subtle color tones is opened out, enlivened by a vibrant brushwork which links Liss to the great Venetian painters of the late sixteenth century and which was conveyed to artists who were to introduce a second flowering of Venetian art: Piazzetta, Ricci, and Tiepolo.

A third German painter of European status is Johann Heinrich Schonfeld. He spent eighteen years in Italy, mainly in Naples. In his work Schonfeld skillfully combined such opposite qualities as ele­gance and drama, charm and theatrical­ity. His formative years in Rome owed less to the powerful Roman baroque than to the fine classicism of Nicolas Poussin—but his scenes have a lighter and more free effect. Schonfeld's figures are elegantly elongated, appearing light-footed and slender. His colors are corre­spondingly delicate, carried by the gentle basic color of the hazy atmosphere of the background. The highly diverse gray-blue tones belong to Neapolitan paint­ing, as does the muddy darkness, which is dramatically lit up by bright shafts of light and diagonal shafts of light. Magnificent processions such as those shown in Schonfeld's Triumph of David (see below) were very popular in the baroque era and were staged at every possible opportunity. Schonfeld was able to experience them in Naples at the court of the Spanish viceroy.

Next to the commercial city of Augsburg, where Schonfeld was active for another thirty years after his stay in Italy, Frankfurt, as one of the most important trade centers of Europe, was also a major artistic center. Here great auctions were held, for the rich citizens were also potential art buyers. Georg Flegel from Bohemia found his clientele here. He is considered the most impor­tant German still-life painter, with an outstanding talent for reproducing the surface quality of a wide range of materi­als, as in the Cupboard Picture which unites all the gifts with which a host would honor his guests. This tradition, inherited from classical times, may possibly have been known to this humanistically educated painter from Philostratus' Imagines.

Flegel developed his painting style in confrontation with the Flemish tradition which was present in Frankfurt and Hanau where a large community of Protestant refugees from Flanders had been taken in. In Hanau a new town had been founded in 1597 especially for immigrants; Daniel Soreau, a painter from Antwerp, had been involved in its planning. Here he founded a special school of still-life painting. In addition to his sons Isaak and Peter, his workshop included Peter Binoit as well as Sebastian Stoskopff who came from Strasbourg, and who took over the workshop on his teacher's death.

Stoskopff's individuality lies in the clear structure and strict composition of his paintings; he often limited himself to a few objects, such as a bowl of strawberries, for example (see above), in which he celebrates the sheer wonder of color. With this isolated illustration of a few objects in a painting, Stoskopff influ­enced French still-life painters such as Jacques Linard and Louise Moillon in Paris, where he lived for many years.

Hamburg offered similar economic conditions to those in Frankfurt, and here too artists found their clients. The still-life painter Georg Hinz developed the individual category of Kunstkammer Shelves (see above left), unique in the whole of European still-life painting. It is a trompe-l'ceil cabinet piece, a picture imitating a set of shelves. Various objects are tidily stored here, just like those that the princely and bourgeois collectors of the baroque liked to gather together in their cabinets of curiosities. Rare objects stand beside valuable and wonderful ones, artifacts are measured against natu-ralia. The Kunstkammer Shelves of Georg Hinz represented an attempt at an ency­clopedic understanding of the world by means of representative objects. At the same time, however, the choice and com­bination is also at the service of the cen­tral theme of the era: an admonition about the transience of earthly splendor and the promise of resurrection after death.

Anthony Van Dyck in England

While German artists could look back on a tradition of great masters from Diirer to Holbein, painting was first developed as a significant medium in the British Isles only in the seventeenth century. Around 1680 an interest in the subject emerged that established the foundations for the subsequent golden age of English painting from Hogarth to Turner. But up to the eighteenth century foreign painters were dominant in England, and commis­sions were almost exclusively limited to portrait painting. The influence of Hans Holbein the Younger, who had been active at the English court during the 1530s, remained decisive for several gen­erations. His followers included Nicholas Hilliard under Elizabeth I; his iconic, emphatically two-dimensional portrait type was finally replaced by the styles of Dutch painters such as Paul Somer, Cornelis Johnson, and Daniel Mytens. Their work introduced the more realistic Dutch portrait to the English court. In 1632, exactly one hundred years after Holbein, Anthony Van Dyck, a pupil of Rubens, arrived in London. His style was to define English portrait painting up to the death of Sir Thomas Lawrence in

Van Dyck was recruited by King Charles I, who can be described as the first great art patron among British rulers. His interest in art was inspired to some extent by Rubens' nine-month stay in London. The artist had come on a dip­lomatic mission but the king preferred to discuss art rather than politics with him and his wish to obtain the services of Rubens' pupil Anthony Van Dyck as court painter was reinforced by the visit. James I had already promised the young painter an annual income after a short stay in England in 1620, which meant that in practice he had already entered royal service. Nevertheless he soon set off for Italy to continue his education and then tried to establish himself in Antwerp. But as long as Rubens contin­ued to exercise his enormous influence there, it was not possible for Van Dyck to develop an independent artistic per­sonality. Thus Charles finally succeeded in bringing him to the court. Charles offered exceptional conditions, and Van Dyck was attracted by court life. Unlike Rubens, who deliberately avoided taking a noblewoman as his second wife, he married Lady Mary Ruthven, a member of the queen's closest circle.

In his self-portraits Van Dyck liked to portray himself as an aristocratic person­ality. He had a well-defined sense of the exquisite, of worldly sophistication and aristocratic refinement. His friendship portrait with Endymion Porter (see left) is the only one in which he depicted him­self with another person. Porter, as adviser to the king in artistic matters, played a decisive role in finally binding Van Dyck to England. The portrait emphasizes Porter's gentle, friendly char­acter and the warmth of his affection. The close connection between the painter and the king's confidant is symbolized by the hands of the two men, which rest closely together on a rock—an image of the indestructibility of their friendship. In the ten years which remained to Van Dyck before his early death, he painted forty portraits of Charles I alone, and thirty of his consort Henrietta Maria. Commissions from the aristocracy began to multiply.

His position at the court is compar­able to that of Velazquez in Spain; both were highly esteemed and well-paid members of the court, and both were ennobled. Paradoxically Charles was interested in Van Dyck above all because he saw him as the true heir of Titian. He admired the Venetian prince of painters especially because of his impressive portrait of the great Emperor Charles V, whom he saw as a role model. Van Dyck justified the king's expectations: the equestrian portrait (see above), for example, is clearly based on Titian's painting of Charles V on horseback. Charles is presented as Carolus Rex Britanniae, as is announced by the notice attached to the tree, ruler of all Britain. The armor and the horse shown in motion lend him an aura of energy and decisiveness, and his steady gaze conveys dignity and nobility. It is a conscious idealization of the king, who had very precise ideas about how a monarch ought to present himself without in fact possessing the abilities of a great ruler.

Van Dyck's portraits in England epit­omized a certain aristocratic manner. His rich palette contributed to this, as did the loose brushwork which enlivened the portraits despite their static poses. He gave Vis subjects an oWious dignity; they radiate pride and elegance and, with a touch of melancholy, maintain the elec­tive nature of their status. At the same time Van Dyck did not rely on significant attributes, but was able to attain an appropriate aura by gaze and posture alone.

The nineteen-year-old Philip Lord Wharton was one of the first people to be portrayed by Van Dyck in England (see above). The gentle tones of the landscape lend particular delicacy to the noble fea­tures. The clear reference to Arcadia sug­gests Neoplatonic ideals of beauty and idyllic love; here Van Dyck was alluding to the occasion for the portrait, the mar­riage of the young lord.

The king's court painter was ulti­mately so constrained by time that he had to speed up his painting methods. The French writer Roger de Piles reports that Van Dyck arranged specific consulta­tions; each client was allowed exactly an hour for a sitting, then the brushes were rinsed out and another palette taken up for the next client. In this way Van Dyck was able to work on several portraits at the same time. But the idyll of a peaceful and prosperous existence which is expressed in many of his portraits was deceptive. The Civil War loomed—in 1649 Charles was to be beheaded. The influence of Van Dyck was already enormous in Genoa, Antwerp, and Amsterdam, but in England above all every portraitist was soon imitating his style.

Van Dyck's most important follower was Sir Peter Lely, the first court painter to the restored monarchy. He was also foreign by birth. Born in Soest, Westphalia, he had studied in Haarlem and came to London in the early 1640s. Van Dyck's work was a constant source of inspiration to him. His portrait of Louise de Keroualle, the mistress of Charles II, emphasizes Lely's brilliant technique. Like Van Dyck, however, he did standardize his portraits to some extent for the sake of high volume. Van Dyck, in spite of the enormous demands placed on him, had developed an individ­ual pose for each of his clients in order to give them some element of individuality.

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