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Rubens, and not in little pictures of
"I have dwelt longer on this picture than any other, as it appears to me to deserve extraordinary attention: it is certainly one of the first pictures in the world, for composition, colouring, and what was not to be expected from Rubens, correctness of drawing."
Mary the wife of Cleophas, are stand-in such compositions, we properly see ing by with great expression of grief and resignation, whilst the Magdalen, who is at the feet of Christ, and may be supposed to have been kissing his feet, looks at the horseman with the spear, with a countenance of great horror as the expression carries with it no grimace or contortion of the features, the beauty is not destroyed. This is by far the most beautiful profile I ever saw of Rubens, or, I think, of any other painter; the excellence of its colouring is beyond expression. To say that she may be supposed to have been kissing Christ's feet, may be thought too refined a criticism; but Rubens certainly intended to convey that idea, as appears by the disposition of her hands; for they are stretched out towards the executioner, and one of them is before and the other behind the Cross; which gives an idea of her hands having been round it; and it must be remembered that she is generally represented kissing the feet of Christ; it is her place and employment in those subjects. The good Centurion ought not to be forgotten, who is leaning forward, one hand on the other, resting on the mane of his horse, while he looks up to Christ with great earnestness.
"The genius of Rubens nowhere appears to more advantage than here: it is the most carefully finished picture of all his works. The whole is conducted with the most consummate art; the composition is bold and uncommon, with circumstances which no other painter had ever before thought of; such as the breaking of the limbs, and the expression of the Magdalen, to which we may add the disposition of the three crosses, which are placed perspectively in an uncommon picturesque manner : the nearest bears the thief whose limbs are breaking; the next, the Christ, whose figure is straiter than ordinary, as a contrast to the others; and the furthermost, the penitent thief: this produces a most picturesque effect, but it is what few but such a daring genius as Rubens would have attempted. It is here, and
(214.) St. Theresa interceding for the Souls in Purgatory. "The Christ is a better character, has more beauty and grace than is usual with Rubens; the outline remarkably undulating, smooth, and flowing. The head of one of the women in purgatory is beautiful, in Rubens's way; the whole has great harmony of colouring and freedom of pencil: it is in his best manner." (221.) The Trinity.- Christ lying dead in the arms of God the Father. An unimpressive and irreverent representation of the Deity, under the figure of an old man. The Christ is foreshortened with great skill in drawing."
(213.) The Adoration of the Magi. "A large and magnificent composition of nearly 20 figures; in Rubens's best manner. Such subjects seem to be more peculiarly adapted to Rubens's style and manner; his excellence, his superiority, is not seen in small com. positions. One of the kings, who holds a cup in his hand, is loaded with drapery; his head appears too large, and upon the whole he makes but an ungraceful figure: the head of the ox is remarkably well painted." R.
(222.) A small sketch, or copy, of the Descent from the Cross, in the cathedral; good, though perhaps not by Rubens himself.
Virgin is well painted, but not historical; the silk is too particularly distinguished, a fault of which Rubens is often guilty, in his female drapery; but by being of the same colour as the sky, it has a soft harmonious effect. The rest of the picture is of a mellow tint." (216.) The Communion of St. Francis. He is accompanied by many of his order, and "appears more like a Lazar than a Saint. Though there are good heads in this picture, yet the principal figure is so disgustful, it does not deserve much commendation." It was the design, however, of the painter to exhibit the Saint in the act of receiving extreme unction immediately before his death, his body emaciated by disease and abstinence; so that, however disagreeable, the picture has at least truth.
(218.) Christ showing his Wounds to St. Thomas. The expression in the face of the Saint is perfect. "The head of the Christ is rather a good character, but the body and arms are heavy it has been much damaged. On the inside of the 2 folding doors are portraits of the Burgomaster Nicholas Rokkox and his wife, half lengths: his is a fine portrait; the ear is remarkably well painted, and the anatomy of the forehead is well understood. Her portrait has no merit but that of colour.". R.
Vandyck. (262.) A Crucifixion; St. Catherine of Sienna (Sir Joshua calls her St. Rosaria), at the feet of Christ, and St. Dominick. "A sepulchral lamp, and a flambeau reversed, are here introduced, to show that Christ is dead: two little angels are represented on one side of the cross, and a larger angel below. The 2 little ones look like embryos, and have a bad effect; and the large angel is not painted with equal success to many other parts of the picture. The shadows are too red, and the locks of the hair are all painted in a hard and heavy manner. For its defects, ample amends are made in the Christ, which is admirably drawn and coloured, and a breadth of light preserved over the body with the greatest skill; at the
same time that all the parts are distinctly marked. The form and character are of a more elegant kind than those we see commonly of Rubens. The idea of St. Catherine closing her eyes is finely imagined, and gives an uncommon and delicate expression to the figure. The conduct of the light and shadow of this picture is likewise worth the attention of a painter. To preserve the principal mass of light, which is made by the body of Christ, of a beautiful shape, the head is kept in half shadow. The under garment of St. Dominick and the angel make the second mass; and the St. Catherine's head, handkerchief, and arm, the third.". R.
(267.) Portraits of Cæsar Scaglia, one of the Spanish negotiators at the Congress of Munster; and of Malderus, bishop of Antwerp.
Seghers. ( .) Marriage of the Virgin: "one of his best pictures."
Schut. ( .)-Martyrdom of St. George. "It is well composed and well drawn, and is one of his best pictures; but the saint has too much of that character which painters have fixed for Christ. There is a want of brillianey from its having too much har
mony; to produce force and strength, a stronger opposition of colours is required.".
Ambrose Franck. (.) "The Martyrdom of St. Crispin and Crispinius has some good heads, but in a dry manner." R.
Cornelius de Vos. (.)-St. Norbert and another Saint receiving the Sacrament. (240.)-The Family Snoeck presenting an offering to the Church of St. Michael. The portraits are ex"De Vos was tremely well painted. particularly excellent in portraits."-R. Of this there can be no better proof than is afforded by the portrait (237.) of the keeper of the corporation of St. Luke, i.e. the Academy of Antwerp, covered with the medals and other decorations presented, along with the goblets on the table before him, to that Institution by princes and potentates, all of which have long since disappeared. It is painted with wonderful force and truth.
Titian. (.)-Pope Alexander VI. introducing to St. Peter the admiral of his fleet against the Turks (a bishop of Paphos) is an interesting picture, in the early style of this master. It once belonged to the collection of King Charles I.
Teniers. (297.)- Boors smoking, a brilliant specimen of the artist, purchased from the collection of M. Van Schamps for 14,600 francs.
A modern work (382.), the Death of Rubens, by Van Bree, President of the Academy, looks cold, raw, and feeble by the side of the pictures enumerated above, but it has the good fortune to be highly admired by the citizens.
A collection of paintings, chiefly of the older schools of Flanders and Germany, has been bequeathed to the city by the burgomaster Van Ertborn. The very dear and slovenly catalogue contains no notice of them, though they have been in the Museum for many years, nor are they numbered. following, which may be found from their descriptions, are most worthy of notice: Giotto, 2 small pictures, one representing St Paul, the other a Bishop and a Nun. Fra Angelico, an
Emperor humbling himself before a Pope. Anton di Messina, a Crucifixion. A. Durer, Mater dolorosa.Holbein, Francis II. when Dauphin; Portrait of Erasmus; of Thos. More. - John van Eyck, Portraits of a Magistrate, and of two Monks; Interior of a Gothic church.-Margaret v. Eyck, Flight into Egypt.-Memling, Annunciation of the Virgin; Adoration of the Shepherds; the Virgin in a church, and a Bishop praying: Virgin and Child, white; surrounded by Angels, red.-Jean de Mabuse, Mount Calvary. Quentin Matsys, Head of Christ, and of the Virgin.
The Docks and Basins. Napoleon laboured unceasingly to make Antwerp the first sea-port and naval arsenal of the North, to render it the rival of London in its commerce, and of Portsmouth as a naval establishment. He well knew that the trade of London would to a certain extent be at the mercy of a hostile fleet stationed so near to the mouth of the Thames as Antwerp. The works carried into execution by him are said to have cost 2,000,000l. sterling. English all along endeavoured to frustrate so formidable a design; and the ill-fated expedition of 1809 to Walcheren was designed for the destruction of these works. Napoleon's estimate of their importance may be gathered from his own declaration to Las Casas at St. Helena: "The works hitherto erected were nothing to what I intended. The whole sandy plain which now stretches for miles behind the Tête de Flandres, on the left bank of the river, was to have been enclosed by fortifications and formed into a vast city.
The imperial dockyards and basins, the arsenal and magazine, were to have been constructed there; and those on the right bank were to have been abandoned to private merchants. Antwerp was to rise a province in itself: :-- France without the frontier of the Rhine and Antwerp is nothing." of Paris, At the conclusion of the peace in 1814, the dockyards were demolished in accordance with one of the articles of that treaty.
The two basins were allowed to remain for commercial purposes, and form a chief source of prosperity to the city. In 1843, 1560 vessels entered here. One of the basins is capable of containing 34, the other 14 ships of the line. The entrance to them is difficult, owing to the strength of the current, which sometimes catches the stern of a vessel and drives it ashore. The docks in winter are of great service in protecting vessels, which, if allowed to remain in the open river, would be seriously injured by the floating ice. They are lined with capacious warehouses; and between the two stands a venerable edifice, originally the factory of the Hanseatic League (Domus Hansæ Teutonicæ, Sacri Romani Imperii, 1568), called the
Oosterlings. This building, a palace in extent, served as a warehouse and residence for the Consul or director of that celebrated association of merchants. At the head of the inner dock rises the handsome range of new Warehouses, 5 stories high, vaulted with stone, intended by the King of Holland for a custom-house and bonded warehouse; the centre is ornamented with a Doric portico, but is unfinished.
The Citadel, remarkable for the siege which it endured in 1832, was erected by a celebrated engineer named Pacciotti, for the Duke of Alva, to keep in awe the citizens. It was long regarded as a model of a fortress, especially after the celebrated General Carnot had strengthened greatly its works, and exhausted all his science and skill as an engineer upon it. It withstood, under his command, a blockade of 4 months in 1814, and was at length yielded up to the British under General Graham.
The siege of 1832 began Nov. 29, and ended Jan. 23, when the garrison surrendered themselves prisoners of war. The whole French force in Belgium, under the command of Marshal Gerard, may be estimated at 66,400 men; the troops actually employed in the siege, at 55,000. Such a numerous army and tremendous train of artillery were probably never before
brought to the siege of a fortress of so small extent, and were far greater than necessary to reduce such a place according to the usual practice of war. The troops in the trenches were commanded by the late Duke of Orleans, and the chief engineer was General Haxo. The Belgians were allowed to fire the first gun from Fort Montebello. The Lunette St. Laurent, the part nearest the town, was first attacked, and was taken on the 14th. On the 21st batteries began to breach the Bastion de Toledo; on the 23d the breach was nearly practicable, when General Chassé sent a flag of truce, and the garrison surrendered. The total loss sustained by the town on this occasion has been estimated at nearly 4,000,000 guilders.
The number of the Dutch garrison under the veteran Chassé amounted to 4500 men, with 145 pieces of ordnance. The French had 223 guns, -an overwhelming weight of metal. The trenches dug by them measured between 8 and 9 English miles; and no less than 63,000 projectiles were thrown by them; so that every wall or building within the fortress was all but razed to the ground; even many of the casemates and other parts which had been considered bomb-proof were shattered, and the subterraneous galleries used as an hospital threatened to fall and crush the wounded and dying deposited in them, towards the end of the siege. In looking afterwards at the solid walls rent from top to bottom, and tottering, it might have been supposed that nothing but an earthquake could have caused such total desolation. The whole interior space presented a mass of ruins, the very ground being furrowed and ploughed up by the shot and shells; and, to use the words of an eye-witness, there was not a foot's space of ground or building that was not shattered or pierced. Of the little Gothic chapel which stood within the citadel, scarcely any part remained whole.
In a military point of view, the injuries done to the outer fortifications, excepting the breach, were not con
siderable. They have all been repaired, and a new demi-lune has been erected to strengthen the works. mission to see the citadel may be obtained, by application through a laquais de place at the Hôtel de Ville. At present no traces of the siege remain, except in the absence of the houses, barracks, and church, which previously filled the interior. The only objects worth notice are, the confined casemate in the Bastion Duque, originally used as a prison for galley-slaves, in which General Chassé was lodged for a month, deprived of the light of day; and the temporary Hospital, erected by the Dutch, consisting of a bomb-proof roof of earth 8 ft. thick, supported on planks by numerous trunks of trees 6 ft. high, with sloping beams of wood at the sides, instead of walls.
There is a large and New Theatre, splendidly fitted up, but open only part of the year.
The Hôtel de Ville (1581), in the Grande Place, is not equal in splendour to those of Ghent, Brussels, or Louvain, but is still a handsome edifice, of Italian architecture, designed by Corn. de Vriendt (Floris), ornamented externally with the 5 orders, one over the other. It contains, in the Passport Office, a painting of the Judgment of Solomon, by F. Floris; in the Salle des Mariages, a richly carved chimney-piece, representing the Marriage in Cana; in the Salle de Justice, another, an elegant work in the style of the Renaissance; and the town Library.
The Bourse, built in 1531, is interesting, because it was "there where merchants most did congregate" in the times when the whole world's trade was carried on in it. Sir Thomas Gresham, who resided at Antwerp (1550) as British Agent, chose it as a model for the Royal Exchange in London. Round the inner court runs a species of cloister, supported by columns of florid Gothic, not without beauty. The English established a connection with Antwerp at an early period: they had an Exchange of their own here, which
still exists, retaining the name Engelsche Beurs. Edward III. visited the city in 1338, and a son born to him here by Queen Philippa was named Lionel of Antwerp in consequence.
Other antique buildings worthy of notice are, the Maison du Géant, Rue des Nattes, long occupied by the knights of the Teutonic Order; in the same street, a chapel, of the 15th century, in the house of M. van Cannaert; the Vieilles Boucheries (1505), near St. Paul's church, now a corn warehouse. The Council Room of the Brewer's Company is remarkable as the few which have escaped modern changes. It retains its original fireplace and furniture, and is still hung with stamped and gilt leather, and lighted by chandeliers, all dating from the end of the 17th century. A chefd'œuvre of Jordaens is over the fireplace, which was painted for the place in which it now hangs.
There is a fine collection of paintings and antiquities belonging to Mdle. Herry.
The Post Office is in the Place Verte, next door to the Hotel du Parc. Letters may now be posted at the branch offices (Bourse, &c.), as at Brussels.
The house in which Rubens resided and died was situated in the Rue de Rubens, No. 1450, not far from the Palais du Roi. The screen, of rich Italian architecture, with the archway leading into the garden, was designed by Rubens himself.
In the garden
stands the pavilion where he painted, and the stone table at which he sat. The loyal Duke of Newcastle (the horseman), having quitted England in disgust after the Battle of Marston Moor, resided in this house, which he rented of Rubens's widow, and entertained here Charles II. and other refugee cavaliers.
At the en
The Quai, extending by the side of the Schelde, more than a mile, forms an agreeable promenade. trance of a street is a Triumphal Arch erected (1624) in honour of Philip IV. of Spain,
"Cui Tagus, et Ganges, Rhenus cui servit et Indus."