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German, Flemish and Dutch Painting H.J. Wilmot-Buxton

German, Flemish and Dutch Painting

H.J. Wilmot-Buxton

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266 pages
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PEEFACE.*THE painters of Germany and the Netherlands provide for the •*- English Art-Student a field of study no less interesting than that furnished by the celebrated Italian Masters.In Germany—after a school of painters who worked with a deep andMorePEEFACE.*THE painters of Germany and the Netherlands provide for the •*- English Art-Student a field of study no less interesting than that furnished by the celebrated Italian Masters.In Germany—after a school of painters who worked with a deep and honest purpose but with no immense genius—Art, in the persons of Diirer and Holbein, made an advance of incomparable importance - and owing to the fact that Holbein spent many of his best years in England, and here painted a large number of his finest works, we have an additional reason for a careful study of the great German Renaissance.After these masters and their immediate disciples, Art gradually declined in the hands of such copyists as Mengs who was nothing better than a feeble imitator of Michelangelo, and of Denner who smothered Art by his excessive elaboration. The later revival under Cornelias and Overbeck, if it does not arouse enthusiasm, at least commands respect and admiration.The early schools of Holland and Flanders were so closely allied that it is difficult to divide their honours. To the Van Eycks of Bruges is due the discovery of an improved method of using oil as a vehicle in painting, and they and their followers have never been surpassed in technical excellence.Then followed Matsys and the early school of Antwerp, and after him came the decline, hastened by over-wrought composition and a futile straining after the style of the Italians. This decline was happily checked by the advent of Rubens, the Titian of the North, whose Art is manly, although it does not possess the idealism or religious sentiment of Italy, or even of the early Flemings.With his greatest pupil, Van Dyck, all Englishmen are familiar, and indeed this country has an almost equal claim with Flanders to rank him among her painters.We trace a gradual decline through Snyders, Jordaens, and other pupils of Rubens—through Teniers, Lely, and others of less note, and Art had almost died out, when it again awoke to new life under Henri Leys and his celebrated school.The very early Dutch painters were almost Flemish in character, and it was not until the time of Rembrandt that Holland could be said to possess a school of her own.Rembrandt formed many artists of the first rank- and his influence for good was felt in his country longer perhaps than that of any other individual master. With him and his followers began the realisation of the ideal of Dutch Art—the representation of the people and their doings. The painters of Holland who stayed at home and depicted what they saw in their own land, produced works of far greater interest than their fellow countrymen who went to Italy and strove in vain to rival the artists of the South.The principal pupils of Rembrandt were Gerard Dou, Ferdinand Bol, Govaert Flinck, Carel Fabritius, and Nicolaas Maas. In Dou, Bol and Flinck, we find artists who produced works of most minute finish without loss of breadth in composition and execution- and in De Hooch and Ver Meer, masters almost unequalled in their treatment of light—a legacy which they had received from Rembrandt.It is to Holland also that we turn for the greatest masters of landscape, architecture, animal and marine painting—Hobbema, Ruis-dael, Cuyp, Potter, Van de Velde, and Bakhuisen- and even when they descended to such trivialities as the flowers of Van Huysum, the fowls of DHondecoeter, or the kitchens of Kalf, the paintings of Holland are still of absorbing interest.English noblemen were the first to recognise and appreciate the merits of several of these artists, and this country possesses (as the recent exhibitions of Old Masters at Burlington House have shown) more of the chefs-doeuvre of Dutch paint