Belgium – Brussels Picture Gallery – Hall Of The Old Masters

INTERPOLATE here the account of the Brussels Picture Gallery, because it is the most important object to be seen in the town, after the Grand Place and its neighbourhood. You must pay it several visits — three at the very least — and you may as well begin early. Follow the roughly chronological order here indicated, and you will understand it very much better. Begin again next time where you left off last : but also, revisit the rooms you have already seen, to let the pictures sink into your memory. Intersperse these visits with general sightseeing in the town and neighbourhood.

The Brussels Gallery forms an excellent continuation to the works of art we have already studied at Bruges and Ghent. In the first place, it gives us some further examples of the Old Flemish masters, of the Van Eycks and of Memling, as well as several altar-pieces belonging to the mystical religious School of the Brussels town-painter, Roger van der Weyden, who was Memling’s master. These have been removed from churches at various times, and gradually collected by the present Government. It also affords us an admirable opportunity of becoming well acquainted with the masterpieces of Dierick Bouts, or Dierick of Haarlem, an early painter, Dutch by birth but Flemish by training, who was town-painter in democratic Louvain (which town may afterward be made the object of an excursion from Brussels).

But, in the second place, besides these painters of the early school, the Brussels Gallery is rich in works of the transitional period, and possesses in particular a magnificent altar-piece by Quentin Matsys, the last of the old Flemish School, and the first great pre-cursor of the Renaissance in the Low Countries. He was practically an Antwerp man (though born at Louvain), and his place in art may more fitly be considered in the Antwerp Museum.

From his time on we are enabled to trace, in this Gallery, the evolution of Flemish art to its third period, the time of Rubens (also better seen at Antwerp) and his successors, the great Dutch painters, here fairly represented by Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Van der Helst, Gerard Dou, and Teniers.

In the following list of the most noteworthy works of each School, I have adhered, roughly speaking, to chronological order, but with’-out compelling the reader unnecessarily to dance up and down the various rooms of the collection from one work to another. The Gallery itself is one of the most splendid in Europe, and it has been recently rearranged in a most satisfactory manner.

The national collection of pictures by Old Masters occupies the very handsome modern building known as the Palais des Beaux-Arts in the Rue de la Régence, immediately after passing through the Place Royale. (Four large granite columns in front : bronze sculpture groups to right and left.) See plan on opposite page.

Enter by the big door with the four large granite columns. In the vestibule, turn to the right, and mount the staircase. Then pass through Room III. and Corridor A, to Room V. on the right, and on to Room I., the Hall of the Old Flemish Masters, which contains the most interesting works in the Gallery.

You may also, if you like, pass through the collection of Sculpture in the Hall below, entering by Corridor D ; in which case, turn to the left into Rooms VIII. and II., and then to the right into Room I., as above. This is the handsomer entrance. Much of the sculpture has great merit : but being purely modern, it does not fall within the scope of these Historical Guides.

Begin in the middle of the wall, with No. 19, Hubert van Eyck : the two outer upper shutters from the Adoration of the Lamb at Ghent, representing Adam and Eve, whose nudity so shocked Joseph II. that he objected to their presence in a church. These fine examples of the unidealized northern nude are highly characteristic of the Van Eycks’ craftsmanship. The Adam is an extremely conscientious and able rendering of an ordinary and ill-chosen model, surprisingly and almost painfully true in its fidelity to nature. The foreshortening of the foot, the minute rendering of the separate small hairs on the legs, the large-veined, every-day hands, the frank exhibition of the bones and sinews of the neck, all show the extreme northern love of realism, and the singular northern inattention to beauty. Compare this figure with the large German panels on a gold ground in the corners diagonally opposite (Nos. 141, 142), if you wish to see how great an advance in truth of portraiture was made by the Van Eycks. The Eve is an equally faithful rendering of an uninteresting model, with protruding body and spindle legs. Above, in the lunettes, are the Offerings of Cain and Abel, and the Death of Abel, in grisaille. The backs of the shutters will be opened for you by the attendant. They exhibit, above, two Sibyls, with scrolls from their prophecies; below the central portion of the Annunciation in the total picture, with a view through the window over the town of Ghent, and the last words of the angelic message, truncated from their context. This portion of the picture, is, of course, only comprehensible by a study of the original altar-piece at Ghent.

Continue now along this wall to the right of the Adam and Eve.

24. J. Gossart, called Mabuse (1470-1541), triptych with a Glorification of the Magdalen, given by a special votary. The central panel contains the chief event in her history — the Supper at the House of Simon the Pharisee. The host and one guest are admirably represented by Flemish portraits, exquisitely robed, and reproduced in marvel lous detail. The figure of the Christ is, as usual, insipid. Beneath the table, the Magdalen, as central figure, with her alabaster box of ointment, kisses the feet of Christ. To the right, Judas, with his traditional red hair, and bearing the purse, asks, with a contemptuous gesture, Why this was not sold and given to the poor? In the background are the Apostles. Conspicuous amongst them is the conventional round face of St. Peter. The whole scene takes place in a richly decorated interior, with charming colouring and a finely rendered clock, curtain, and other accessories. Gossart visited Italy, and was one of the earliest Flemings to be influenced by the Italian Renaissance. You will not overlook the half-Gothic, half-Renaissance architecture, nor, the chained squirrel, nor the semi-grotesque episodes in the background, very domestic and Flemish. (Moses above the Pharisee’s head marks his devotion.)

The left panel has another principal event in tie Magdalen’s life, the Resurrection of Lazarus. Here also the Christ is insipid, but the Peter behind him, in a green robe, is finely characterized; and the John, affected. Beside are the Magdalen (same dress as before) and Martha, with a group of women and bystanders in singular head-dresses. In the background rises a very ideal Bethany. The right panel represents the kneeling donor (an unknown Premonstratensian abbot) ; on his book is written, ” Mary Magdalen, pray for us.” Above him is seen the floating figure of the Magdalen, clad only in her own luxuriant hair, and raised aloft by angels from her cave, the Sainte Baume, in Provence, to behold the Beatific Vision. The background has Stations of the Cross, actually copied (with the rest of the landscape) from those at the Sainte Baume, which Gossart must have visited at his patron’s instance. On the backs of the wings, yet another scene in the life of the Saint, Christ and the Magdalen in the Garden. All this triptych is finely modelled and well-coloured.

57, 59, 60. Three panels attributed to Roger van der Weyden, of Tournay, town-painter of Brussels, and teacher of Memling — a highly symbolical and religious master. Scenes from the life of the Virgin. In the centre, the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple. The foreground is occupied by St. Joachim and St. Anna, parents of the little Virgin, who is seen mounting the regulation fifteen steps of the Temple, assisted by a somewhat unusual angel. At the head of the steps stands the High Priest. Within, the Virgins of the Lord are seen reading. To the right, still in the same panel, is the annunciation, with the usual features, angel on the left, Madonna on the right, prie-dieu, bed, Annunciation lily, and arcade in the fore-ground. The left panel has the Circumcision; and the right, Christ among the Doctors in the Temple, with some excellent portraits in the background. (For Van der Weyden’s placet, in art, see Conway; for the Madonna ascending the steps, ” Legends of the Ma-donna.”)

61, 62. Also attributed to Roger van der Weyden : parts of the same series. Way to Calvary and the Crucifixion. The first has the Usual brutal soldiers and a suffering but not very dignified Christ. (Study for comparison with others.) Beside the Virgin kneels the donor. The second has the conventional figures of the fainting Madonna, St. John, the Magdalen, and the other Maries : sun and moon darkened. In the distance of both, Flemish towns. (Good trees and landscape.)

Good portrait by unknown (transitional) Fleming (Van Orley?), probably of a lawyer : the charters seem to indicate a secretary of Maximilian and Charles V.

126. A crowded Calvary of the German School (late fifteenth century) with an emaciated Saviour, writhing and distorted thieves, and rather wooden spectators. Observe the St. Longinus in armour on the bay horse, piercing the side of Christ, for comparison hereafter with such later conceptions as Rubens’s at Antwerp. To the left is the group of the Madonna, St. John, and the two Maries. The red eyes of St. John are characteristic of this scene, and descend to Vandyck. The Maries are unmitigated German housewives. The Magdalen embraces the foot of the Cross. On the right are spectators and a brawl between soldiers. The background is full of characteristic German devils and horrors : also St. Veronica, Peter, Malchus, Judas hanging himself, etc.

Above it, 143, German School. Christ and the Apostles : gold background. Very flavourless : shows the tendencies from which the Van Eycks revolted.

By the door, 77. Insipid Flemish Virgin and Child.

Now, return along the same wall, beyond the great Van Eyck in the centre.

Bernard van Orley (transitional). Triptych (sawn in two), with the Patience of Job inside, and Lazarus and Dives outside. In the centre panel, the house falling upon the sons of Job. In the background, Job and his comforters : his house in flames, etc. Left panel, the flocks and herds of Job driven off by the Sabeans, with Satan before the Almighty at the summit. Right panel, Job in his last state more blessed than formerly : his comforters ask him to intercede for them. Beyond this again, the outer shutters (the panels having been sawn through) : extreme left, Lazarus at the Rich Man’s gate; above, his new-born soul borne aloft to Heaven. Below, cooks, servants, etc. Extreme right, the Rich Man dying, attended by his physician (compare the Dropsical Woman by Gerard Dou in the Louvre). Below, Dives in Torments (in a very Flemish Hell) calling to Lazarus. Above, Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom. This is a good characteristic ex-ample of the transitional period between the early and later Flemish art, greatly influenced by the Italian Renaissance. Van Orley travelled in Italy, and imitated Raphael in composition and drawing.

Beyond it, attributed to Roger van der Weyden, 58, 63, 64 (three panels arbitrarily placed together). In the centre panel, two subjects. Left, the Nativity, elements all conventional : ruined temple, shed, ox, and ass (extremely wooden), and St. Joseph in back-ground. (He frequently bears a candle in this scene in order to indicate that the time is night.) Right, the Adoration of the Three Kings, old, middle-aged, young, the last a Moor. St. Joseph examines, as often, the Old King’s gift. Note his costume; it recurs in Flemish art. Left panel, Joseph of Arimathea with the Crown of Thorns, Nicodemus with the three nails, St. John, and the three Maries at the Sepulchre. Right panel, Entombment, with the same figures : the Crown of Thorns and nails in the foreground. Great importance is always attached to these relics, preserved in the Sainte Chapelle and at Monza, near Milan.

At the corner, two good portraits: 27, by Holbein the Younger, of Sir Thomas More.

Flagellation and Ascension, German School, with gilt backgrounds.

Beneath them, a fine Madonna, unnumbered, with child and an apple.

On either side of it, 145, 146, beautiful soft-toned German portraits (by Beham?) of two children, Maximilian II., and his sister, Anne of Austria.

The skied pictures on this wall are only interesting as specimens of the later transitional period, when Flemish art was aiming ill at effects unnatural to it.

Continue along the wall in the same direction.

271, skied, is a Last Judgment by Floris, also transitional and useful for comparison with others elsewhere. To right and left, the Fall of the Damned and the Just Ascending recall early examples at Bruges.

By the door, 101, portrait of Johanna of Spain (the Mad), mother of Charles V.: fine fifteenth century work, attributed to Jacob Jansz of Haarlem.

73, 74. Excellent old Flemish portraits. Between them, 36, a Holy Family and St. Anne, with the donor, a Franciscan monk, by a feeble imitator of Memling.

Above it, 68, Scenes from the Life of the Virgin, with a donor. On the left, the Nativity. Note the conventional elements. On the right, the Circumcision. Above, Angel and patron saints.

200. Portrait of Philippe le Beau, father , of Charles V., companion to his wife opposite. Observe the collar of the Golden Fleece, and the united arms of Spain, Burgundy, etc., on his doublet. These portraits were originally the wings of a triptych.

112. Triptych, Flemish School, early sixteenth century. Centre panel, Miracle of St. Anthony of Padua and thé Mule. (The Saint, carrying the Host, met a scoffer’s mule, which knelt as it passed.) Above, St. Bonaventura, attired as bishop, praying. These must be the chief objects of the donor’s devotion: they are also represented on the outer wings. Right and left, the donor (whose name was Tobias), with his personal patron, St. ;Raphael the Archangel (accompanying the young Tobias), and his wife, with St. Margaret and the Dragon. (For Tobias and the ‘Fish, see Book of Tobit.)

Beneath it, Patinier, a painter chiefly memorable for his landscapes (of which this is a poor example). St. Jerome in the Desert, beating his breast with a stone before a crucifix. Beside him, his cardinal’s hat and lion Not a good example of the master.

54. Tolerable portrait of a doctor, by Bernard van Orley.

69. Roger van der Weyden : head of a Woman Weeping. Perhaps a portion of a large composition, or a study for one. More likely, a copy by a pupil. Much damaged.

7b. Triptych of the Flemish School (Hugo van der Goes?) ; centre panel, Assumption of Our Lady. Round the empty tomb are gathered the apostles ; conspicuous among them, St. Peter with a censer, and St. James. Above, Our Lady taken up in a glory by Christ and the Holy Ghost, represented as like Him. In the background, her Funeral, St. Peter, as Pope, accompanying. Note the papal dress of St. Peter; St. James holds the cross as Bishop of Jerusalem. Left wing, the chief donor, accompanied by his guardian angel and two of the apostles, one of whom holds St. Peter’s tiara, as if part of the main picture. In the background, St. Thomas receiving the Holy Girdle from an Angel, a common treatment in Flemish art, though Italians make him receive it from Our Lady in person. Right wing, donor’s son and wife, with guardian angel. This triptych closely resembles No. 71 (which see later), except that that picture is in one panel, instead of three. I think 71 must have been painted first, and this taken from it, but made into a triptych ; which would account for the unusual flowing over of the main subject into the wings.

Beside it, unnumbered, Patinier : Repose on the Flight into Egypt, with fine landscape background.

49. Martin Schongauer (of Colmar, a German largely influenced by Roger van der Weyden), Ecce Homo, painted like a miniature.

Above, 72, Flemish School, Head of St. John the Baptist on a charger.

47A, Patinier : another Repose on the Flight into; Egypt. Observe persistence of the main elements. Notice in particular, as compared with the similar picture close by, the staff, basket, etc., in the right foreground.

3. School of Memling, perhaps by the master : a Bishop preaching : M. Fétis thinks, exhorting the Crusade in which Pope Nicolas V. Wished to interest the princes of Europe after the fall of Constantinople.

1. School of Dürer : Fine and thoughtful portrait of a man, perhaps Erasmus.

Above it, 78, Flemish triptych (School of Van der Weyden) of the Adoration of the Magi, the elements in which will by this time be familiar to you. Right and left, Adoration of the Shepherds and Circumcision. The exceptional frequency of the subject of the Adoration of the Magi in the Low Countries and the Rhine district is to be accounted for by the fact that the relics of the Three Kings are preserved in Cologne Cathedral, and are there the chief object of local cult.

At the corner, 5 and 6, two good portraits by the German De Bruyn (early sixteenth century). Transitional : show Italian influence.

Between them, unknown German, Wedding Feast at Cana. That you may have no doubt as to the reality of the miracle, a servant is pouring water into the jars in the foreground. He is much the best portion of the picture. Be-hind are Christ, St. John, and Our Lady. Next to them, the bride and bridegroom. (Compare the Gerard David in the Louvre.)

Above it, 142, a very quaint St. George and St. Catherine, early German School, with gold background. St. George is stiffly clad in armour, and painfully conscious of his spindle legs, with a transfixed dragon and broken lance at his feet. St. Catherine looks extremely peevish, with a Byzantine down-drawn mouth : she holds the sword of her martyrdom, and has a fragment of her wheel showing behind her. Her face is highly characteristic of the severity and austerity of early German art. Companion piece (141) at opposite corner.

Now proceed to the next wall.

147A. Tolerable triptych, Flemish School, representing the events of the Infancy. Centre, Adoration of the Shepherds, with the usual conventional features (ruined temple, she, ox and ass, etc.) and St. Joseph holding his

Left of it and great elements here are borrowed. Right, the Circumcision. Symbolical figure of Moses on altar full of the symbolism of Van der Weyden’s School. (Outer shutters, uninteresting, St. Catherine and St. Barbara.)

114. The Seven Sorrows of Mary, in grisaille, with the Mater Dolorosa in the centre. Study these Seven Sorrows: they recur.

47. Pleasing transitional Madonna, School of Van Orley, somewhat Italian in feeling, in a pretty arcade, with nice landscape background.

6. Descent from the Cross (Van der Weyden or his School). Notice the white sheet on which the body is laid, as later in the great Rubens. Nicodemus and Joseph candle, as often, to indicate night-time. , Annunciation, with the usual position he angel reversed. Otherwise the portico other features persist. Compare the great Van Eyck at Ghent, from which some of Arimathea support the body; St. John and one of the Maries hold the fainting Madonna. Left, the Magdalen, with her long hair. By her feet, her box of ointment. Close beside it, the nails, hammer, and pincers. (M. Lafenestre, following Bode, attributes this picture to Petrus Christus, but with a query.)

3F.Dierick Bouts of Louvain: The Last Supper. A fine and characteristic example of the town-painter of Louvain. The faces are those of peasants or small bourgeois. To the right are the donors, entering as spec tators : their faces are excellent. Judas sits in front of the table. The Christ is insipid. Note the admirable work of the pavement and background. The servant is a good feature. If you have Conway with you, compare this picture with the engraving of the very similar one by Bouts at Louvain, only, the architecture there is Gothic, here Renaissance.

Above it, 8o, unknown Flemish master : the Miracles of St. Benedict. He moves the great stone held down by devils, and performs several other wonders (the visit of Romanus, Maurus saving Placidus, etc.), for which see Mrs. Jameson, ” Monastic Orders.”

3C and 3D. Dierick Bouts : Two companion panels, life-size figures, known as the Justice of the Emperor Otho, and painted for the Council-Room of the Hôtel-de-Ville atvain, as warning to evil-doers, perjurers, unjust magistrates. (Compare the Gerard d of the Flaying of Sisamnes in the Academy at Bruges.) It is-first necessary to uncle stand the story. During the absence of the Emperor Otho in Italy (according to tradition), his Empress made advances to a gentleman of the court, who rejected her offers. Piqued by this rebuff, the Empress denounced him to Otho on his return as having attempted to betray her honour. Otho, without further testimony, had the nobleman beheaded. His widow appeared before the Emperor’s judgment-seat, bearing her husband’s head in her hands, and offered to prove his innocence by the ordeal of fire. She therefore held a red-hot iron in her hand unhurt. Othb, convinced of his wife’s treachery by this miraculous evidence, had the perjured Empress burned alive. The first panel to the right, represents the scene in two separate moments. Behnd, the nobleman, in his shirt and with his hands tied, walks toward the place of execution, accompanied by his wife in a red dress and black hood, as well as by a Franciscan friar. In the foreground, the executioner (looking grimly stern) has just decapitated the victim, and is giving the head to the wife in a towel. The headless corpse lies on the ground before him. The neck originally spurted blood ; flowers have been painted in to conceal this painful element. All round stand spectators, probably portraits of the Louvain magistrates, admirably rendered in Bouts’s dry and stiff but lifelike manner. Behind them, within a walled garden belonging to a castle in the background, stand the Emperor with his sceptre and crown, and the faithless Empress. Good town and landscape to the left. The second panel, to the left, separated from this by a large triptych, represents the nobleman’s wife appearing before the enthroned Otho. In her right hand she holds her husband’s head; with her left she grasps the red-hot iron, unmoved. The brazier of charcoal in which it has been heated stands on the parti-coloured marble floor in the foreground. Around are several portraits of courtiers. Behind is represented the scene of the Empress burning, which closes the episode. I need not call attention to the admirable painting of the fur, the green cot, Otho’s flowered red robe, the dog, the th one, and all the other accessories. This is considered Dierick Bouts’s masterpiece. (Go later to Louvain to complete your idea of him. )

Between these two pictures are arranged five of the finest works in the collection.

32 and 33. Memling : Portraits of Willem Moreel (or Morelli), Burgomaster of Brigs, and his wife, Barbara, the same persors (Savoyards) who are represented in the St. Christopher triptych in the Academy at Bruges. Their daughter is the Sibyl Sambea of the St. John’s Hospital. Both po raits, but especially the Burgomaster’s, are good, hard, dry pictures.

31. Memling : Triptych : perhaps painted in Italy (if I permitted myself an opinion, I Would say, doubtfully by Memling). At an* rate, it is for the Sforza family of Milan. Central panel, the Crucifixion, with Our Lady and St. John. Beautiful background of a fanciful Jerusalem. Sun and moon darkened.

In the foreground kneel Francesco Sforza in armour, his wife, Bianca Visconti, and his son, Galeazzo-Maria. Behind the duke, his coat of arms. Left panel: the Nativity. In the foreground St. Francis with the Stigmata, as patron saint of Francesco, and St. Bavon with his falcon. Right panel: St. John the Baptist, as patron saint of Giovanni Galeazzo. Below, St. Catherine with her sword and wheel, and St. Barbara with her tower, two charming figures. I do not know the reason of their introduction, but they are common pendants of one another in northern art. You can get an attendant to unfasten the outer wings of the triptych for you, but they are not important. They contain, in grisaille, on the left, St. Jerome and the lion ; on the right, St. George and the dragon. (The presence of St. Bavon in this enigmatic picture leads me to suppose it was painted for a church at Ghent. But what were the Sforza family doing there? Perhaps it has reference to some local business of the Sforzas in Flanders.)

Roger van der Weyden : Portrait of Charles the Bold of Burgundy, wearing the Golden Fleece. An excellent and characteristic piece of workmanship. The arrow has a meaning: it is the symbol of St. Sebastian, to whom (as plague-saint) Charles made a vow in illness, and whom ever after he specially reverenced.

34. Memling : Portrait of an unknown man, which may be contrasted for its compartive softness of execution with the harder wok of his master beside it. Above these : —

6. Triptych, by Heemskerck (early Dutch School), representing, Centre, the Entomb-m t, Christ borne, as usual, by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. In front, the crown of thorns. Behind, the Magdalen; then the Madonna and St. John, the two Maries, and an Unknown man holding a vase of ointment. To the left and right, the donor and his wife, with their patron saints, Peter and Mary Magdalen (keys, box of ointment).

20. Jan van Eyck (attribution doubtful ; probably a later artist, perhaps Gerard David) : The Adoration of the Magi. Another good example of this favourite Flemish subject. In the foreground, the Madonna and Child : one of Van Eyck’s most pleasing faces (if his). Then, the Old King, kneeling; the Middle-aged King, half-kneeling; and the Young King, a Moor, with his gift, behind. (The Old King in such pictures has almost always deposited his gift.) In the back-ground, Joseph, and the retinue of the Magi. Ruined temple, shed, ox, ass, etc., as usual.

140. Unknown German master (Lafenestre says, Flemish). Panel with Our Lady and Virgin Saints, what is called a

Paradise Picture,” apparently painted for a church or nunnery in Cologne, and with the chief patronesses of the city churches or chapels grouped around in adoration. Our Lady, with her typical German features, sits in front, in a robe of blue, before a crimson damask curtain upheld by angels. Her face is sweetly and insipidly charming. She holds a regal court among her ladies. In front of her kneels the Magdalen, with her long hair and pot of ointment. To the left, St. Catherine of Alexandria, crowned as princess, and with her wheel embroidered in pearls on her red robe as a symbol. The Infant Christ places the ring on her finger. Further on the left, St. Cecilia with a bell, substituted in northern art (where the chimes in the belfry were so important) for the organ which she holes in Italy. Then, St. Lucy, with her eyes in a dish, and St. Apollonia, holding her tooth in a pair of pincers. In front of these two, in a richly brocaded dress, and beautiful crown, St. Ursula, the great martyr of Cologne, with the arrows of her martyrdom lying at her feet. To Our Lady’s right, St. Barbara, in a purple robe trimmed with ermine and embroidered with her tower (of three windows), offers a rose to the Infant. Her necklet is of towers. As usual in northern art, she balances St. Catherine. Beside her kneels St. Agnes, in red, with her lamb, and her !,ruby ring : beyond whom are St. Helena with the cross (wearing a simple Roman circlet), St. Agatha, holding her own severed breast in the pincers, and St. Cunera with the cradle and arrow, one of the martyred companions of St. Ursula. In the background, the True Vine on a trellis, the garden of roses (” is my sister, my spouse”), and a landscape of the Rhine, in which St. George kills the ,dragon. This is a particularly fine composition of the old German School.

3E. Dierick Bouts : Martyrdom of St. Sebastian. Characteristic peasant face; admirable cloak and background.

115. Good, dry portrait, by an unknown early Flemish artist. Our Lady and an angel with a charter in the background. Observe the animals and the scenes in the background, foreshadowing later Dutch painting. (Among them, Augustus and the Sybil.)

107, 108. Fine portraits of a donor and his wife (accompanying the last), with their patron saints, Peter and Paul. The tops of all have been sawn off.

Above these, 7, a triptych, by Coninxloo. Centre, Family of St. Anne. Interesting for comparison with the great Quentin Matsys in the centre of the room. Left, Joachim’s offering rejected in the Temple (small episodes behind). Right, the death of St. Anne. Come back to the central panel after you have viewed the Quentin Matsys. (The component personages are explained there.)

115. Good family group of a donor and his sons, with St. George; and his wife and daughters, with St. Barbara. (The crucifixes mark monks and nuns.)

At the corner, 141, German School. St. Mary Magdalen and St. Thomas, on gold background. Companion piece to 142. At opposite end

13. Cranach the Elder. Hard portrait of a very Scotch-looking and Calvinistic elder.

50. School of Martin Schongauer: Christ and the Magdalen in the house of the Pharisee. Very contorted. Compare with the Gossart.

11. Amberger : German School, sixteenth century; excellent portrait of a gentleman: good beard.

29. To the left, Lombard, sixteenth century: A Last Supper. Only interesting as showing transition. Compare with Dierick Bouts.

Above it, 106. Flemish School. Mass of St. Gregory, with the Crucified Christ appearing on the altar. (Recall the Pourbus at Bruges.) A most unpleasant picture. Be-hind, are the elements of the Passion. Left, the donors; right, Souls in Purgatory, relieved by masses. Many minor episodes occupy the area.

37 and 75. Two Madonnas. Not very important.

43. Good portrait by Bernard van Orley.

48. Patinier : Dead Christ on the knees of the Virgin (Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows), painfully emaciated. A sword pierces Our Lady’s breast (and will recur often). Around it, the rest of the Seven Sorrows. Note the landscape, characteristic of the painter.

30. Lombard : Unimportant picture, meaninglessly described as Human Misfortunes. It seems to commemorate an escape from shipwreck and from plagues by the same person. Left panel: A ship sinking; a man saved on the shore. In the background, under divine direction of an angel, he finds his lost gold in a fish’s body. Right panel, He lies ill of plague, while above is seen the’ miracle of St. Gregory and the Angel of the Plague (Michael) sheathing his sword on the Castle of St. Angelo.

12. Coninxloo : Joachim and Anna, with the rejected offering. From them, a genealogical tree bears the Madonna and Child. To the left and right, the angel appearing to Joachim, and Joachim and Anna at the Golden Gate. (Read up the legend.) Curious architectural setting.

40. Van Orley. Pietà, with the usual group, and family of donors. Interesting as a work of transition.

Above it, 98. Triptych, with Descent from the Cross, Flemish School. Usual figures: identify them. On the wings, to the left, Agony in the Garden, Kiss of Judas, Peter and Malchus ; to the right, The Resurrection, Noli Me Tangere, Disciples at Emmaus, etc.

71. Good unknown Flemish picture of the Assumption of Our Lady (closely resembling No. 70, which see again). The empty tomb stands in the midst, with lilies ; around, St. Peter and St. James, and the other apostles; above, Our Lady ascending, borne by a duplicated figure of Christ (one standing for the Holy Ghost), in an almond-shaped glory. On the right, Her Funeral, with St. Peter wearing the triple crown; on the left, St. Thomas receiving the girdle from an angel. Compare with 70, which Lafenestre judges to be the work of a different artist.

21. Petrus Christus : Madonna and Child. One of the finest Madonnas of the School of Van Eyck.

The place of honour in the centre of the room is occupied by 38, a magnificent ** triptych by Quentin Matsys, one of the noblest works of the transitional School, strangely luminous, with very characteristic and curious colouring. It represents the favourite Flemish subject of the Family of St. Anne. (It was painted for the Confraternity of St. Anne at Louvain, and stood as an altar-piece in the church of St. Pierre.) Central panel : An arcade, in the middle arch of which appears St. Anne, in red and purple (throughout), offering grapes to the Divine Child, who holds a bullfinch, and is seated on the lap of Our Lady. To her right, Mary Salome, with her two sons, James and John. To her left, Mary Cleophas, with her sons, James the Less, Simon, Thaddus, and Joseph the Just. Be-hind the parapet, beside St. Anne, her husband, Joachim; and beside Mary Salome, her husband, Zebedee. Beside Our Lady, her husband, Joseph; beside Mary Cleophas, her husband, Alpheus. Beautiful blue mountain landscape. Left panel: The angel appearing to Joachim, in a magnificent blue landscape. Joachim’s dress is constant. The angel’s robe is most delicious in colour. Right panel: The Death of St. Anne, with Our Lady and the other Maries in attendance. Behind, their husbands. The young Christ gives the benediction.

Now, go round to the back of the picture, to observe the outer wings. On the left, St. Joachim driven from the Temple by the High Priest. On the right (chronologically the first), Joachim and Anna (much younger), making their offerings (on marriage) to the High Priest in the Temple. (Same High Priest, younger; same dresses.) The portrait behind recalls the earlier Flemish man-nett; otherwise, the work is full of incipient transition to the Renaissance. Little episode of Joachim and Anna distributing alms in the background. (When the triptych is closed, this wing comes in its proper place as first of the series.)