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Promenades of an Impressionist By James Huneker Characters: 47932

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


The secret of Titian's colour, the "Venetian secret," was produced, some experts believe, by first painting a solid monochrome in tempera on which the picture was finished in oil. Unquestionably Titian corrected and amended his work as much as did Velasquez. It is a pleasing if somewhat theatric belief that Titian and Velasquez, duelled with their canvases, their rapier a brush. After inspecting many of the Hals portraits the evidences of direct painting, swift though calculated, are not to be denied. This may account, with the temperamental equation, for the less profound psychological interest of his portraiture when compared with the Raphael, Titian, Velasquez, and Rembrandt heads. Yet, what superiority in brush-work had Hals over Raphael and Rembrandt. The Raphael surfaces are as a rule hard, dry, and lustreless, while Rembrandt's heavy, troubled paint is no mate for the airy touch of the Mercutio of Haarlem. But Titian's impasto is lyric. It sings on the least of his canvases. No doubt his pictures in the Prado have been "skinned" of their delicate glaze by the iconoclastic restorer; yet they bloom and chant and ever bloom. The Bacchanal, which bears a faint family resemblance to the Bacchus and Ariadne of the London National Gallery, fairly exults in its joy of life, in its frank paganism. What rich reverberating tones, what powers of evocation! The Garden of the Loves is a vision of childhood at its sweetest; the surface of the canvas seems alive with festooned babies. The more voluptuous Venus or Dana? do not so stir your pulse as this immortal choir of cupids. The two portraits of Charles V-one equestrian-are charged with the noble, ardent gravity and splendour of phrasing we expect from the greatest Venetian of them all. We doubt, however, if the Prado Entombment is as finely wrought as the same subject by Titian in Paris; but it sounds a poignant note of sorrow. Rembrandt is more dramatic when dealing with a similar theme. The St. Margaret with its subtle green gown is a figure that is touching and almost tragic. The Madonna and Child, with St. Bridget and St. Hulfus, has been called Giorgionesque. St. Bridget is of the sumptuous Venetian type; the modelling of her head is lovely, her colouring rich.

Rubens in the Prado is singularly attractive. There are over fifty, not all of the best quality, but numbering such works as the Three Graces, the Rondo, the Garden of Love, and the masterly unfinished portrait of Marie de Medicis. The Brazen Serpent is a Van Dyck, though the catalogue of 1907 credits it to Rubens. Then there are the Andromeda and Perseus, the Holy Family and Diana and Calista. The portrait of Marie de Médicis, stout, smiling, amiability personified, has been called one of the finest feminine portraits extant-which is a slight exaggeration. It is both mellow and magnificent, and unless history or Rubens lied the lady must have been as mild as mother's milk. The Three Graces, executed during the latter years of the Flemish master, is Rubens at his pagan best. These stalwart and handsome females, without a hint of sleek Italian delicacy, include Rubens's second wife, Helena Fourment, the ox-eyed beauty. What blond flesh tones, what solidity of human architecture, what positive beauty of surfaces and nobility of contours! The Rondo is a mad, whirling dance, the Diana and Calista suggestive of a Turkish bath outdoors, but a picture that might have impelled Walt Whitman to write a sequel to his Children of Adam. Such women were born not alone to bear children but to rule the destinies of mankind; genuine matriarchs.

Rembrandt fares ill. His Artemisia about to drink her husband's ashes from a costly cup reveals a ponderous hand. It is but indifferent Rembrandt, despite several jewelled passages. Van Dyck shows at least one great picture, the Betrayal of Christ. The Brazen Serpent only ranks second to it; both are masterpieces, and Antwerp must envy the Prado. The Crown of Thorns, and the portraits, particularly that of the Countess of Wexford, are arresting. His Musician, being the portrait of Lanière the lute-player, and his own portrait on the same canvas with Count Bristol, are cherished treasures. The lutist is especially fascinating. That somewhat mysterious Dutch master, Moro, or Mor (Antonis; born in Utrecht, 1512; died at Antwerp, 1576 or 1578), is represented by more than a dozen portraits. To know what a master of physiognomy he was we need only study his Mary Queen of England, the Buffoon of the Beneventas, the Philip II, and the various heads of royal and noble born dames. The subdued fire and subtlety of this series, the piercing vision and superior handicraft of the painter have placed him high in the artistic hierarchy; but not high enough. At his best he is not far behind Holbein. That great German's art is shown in a solitary masterpiece, the portrait of an unknown man, with shrewd cold eyes, an enormous nose, the hands full of meaning, the fabrics scrupulous as to detail. Next to this Holbein, whose glance follows you around the gallery, are the two Dürers, the portrait of Hans Imhof, a world-renowned picture, and his own portrait (1498), a magical rendering of a Christ-like head, the ringlets curly, the beard youthful, the hands folded as if in prayer. A marvellous composition. It formerly hung too high, above the Hans Imhof; it now hangs next to it. A similar head in the Uffizi is a copy, Sir Walter Armstrong to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Flemish schools are to be seen in the basement, not altogether a favourable place, though in the afternoon there is an agreeable light. Like Rubens, Jan van Eyck visited Spain and left the impress of his style. But the Van Eycks at the Prado are now all queried, though several are noteworthy. The Marriage of the Virgin is discredited. The Virgin, Christ and St. John under the golden canopy, called a Hubert van Eyck, is probably by Gossaert de Mabuse, and a clever transposition of the altar piece in St. Bavon's at Ghent. The Fountain of Life, also in the catalogue as a Jan van Eyck, has been pronounced a sixteenth-century copy of a lost picture by his brother Hubert. We may add that not one of these so-called Van Eycks recalls in all their native delicacy and richness the real Van Eycks of Bruges, Ghent, and Brussels; though the Virgin Reading, given as Jan's handiwork, is of a charm. The Depositions, attributed to Rogier van der Weyden (De la Pasture), are acknowledged to be old sixteenth-century copies of the Deposition in the Escorial. The altar piece is excellent. But there is a fine Memling, glowing in pigment and of beautiful design, The Adoration of the Kings, a triptych, like the one at Bruges. In the centre panel we see the kings adoring, one a black man; the two wings, or doors, respectively depict the birth of Christ (right) and the presentation in the temple (left). There is a retablo (reredos) in four compartments, by Petrus Cristus, and two Jerome Patinirs, one, a Temptation of St. Anthony, being enjoyable. The painter-persecuted saint sits in the foreground of a freshly painted landscape, harassed by the attentions of witches, several of them comely and clothed. To be precise, the composition suggests a much-married man listening to the reproaches of his spouses. Hanging in a doorway we found a Herri Met de Bles that is not marked doubtful. It is a triptych, an Adoration, in which the three kings, the Queen of Sheba before Solomon, and Herod participate. A brilliantly tinted work this, which once hung in the Escorial, and, mirabile dictu, attributed to Lucas van Leyden. No need to speak of the later Dutch and Flemish school, Teniers, Ostade, Dou, Pourbus, and the minor masters. There are Breughels and Bosches aplenty, and none too good. But there are several Jordaens of quality, a family group, and three heads of street musicians. We forgot to mention an attribution to Jan van Eyck, The Triumph of Religion, which is a curious affair no matter whose brain conceived it. The attendant always points out its religious features with ill-concealed glee. A group of ecclesiastics have confounded a group of rabbis at a fountain which is the foundation of an altar; the old fervour burns in the eyes of the gallery servitor as he shows you the discomfited Hebrew doctors of the law. We may dismiss as harmless the Pinturicchio and other Italian attributions in these basement galleries. There is the usual crew of Anonimos, and a lot of those fantastic painters who are nicknamed by critics without a sense of humour as "The Master of the Fiery Hencoop," "The Master of the Eccentric Omelet," or some such idiotic title.

Up-stairs familiar names such as Domenichino, Bassano, Cortona, Crespi, Bellino, Pietra della Vecchia, Allori, Veronese, Maratta, Guido Reni, Romano need not detain us. The catalogue numbers of the Italian school go as high as 628. The Titians, however, are the glory of the Prado. The Spanish school begins at 629, ends at 1,029. The German, Flemish, and Holland schools begin at 1,146, running to 1,852. There are supplements to all of the foregoing. The French school runs from 1,969 to 2,111. But the examples in this section are not inspiring, the Watteaus excepted. There is the usual Champagne, Coypel, Claude of Lorraine (10), Largillière, Lebrun, Van Loo, Mignard (5); one of Le Nain-by both brothers. Nattier (4), Nicolas Poussin (20), Rigaud, and two delicious Watteaus; a rustic betrothal and a view of the garden of St. Cloud, the two exhaling melancholy grace and displaying subdued richness of tone. Tiepolo has been called the last link in the chain of Venetian colourists, which began with the Bellini, followed by Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, Palma Vecchio, Bonifazio, Veronese-and to this list might be added the name of the Frenchman Watteau. Chardin was also a colourist, and how many of the Poussins at this gallery might be spared to make room for one of his cool, charming paintings!

The Prado about exhausts the art treasures of Madrid. In the Escorial, that most monstrous and gloomiest of the tombs of kings, are pictures that should be seen-some Grecos among the rest-even if the palace does not win your sympathy. In Madrid what was once called the Academia de San Fernando is now the Real Academia de Bellas Artes. It is at 11 Calle de Alcalá and contains a Murillo of quality, the Dream of the Roman Knight, Zurbaran's Carthusians, an Ecce Homo by Ribera, of power; the Death of Dido by Fragonard; a Rubens, St. Francis, the work of his pupils; Alonzo Cano, two Murillos, Domenichino, Tristan, Mengs, Giovanni Bellini; Goya's bull-fights, mad-house scenes, and several portraits-one of the Due de la Paz; a Pereda, a Da Vinci (?), Madrazo, Zurbaran, and Goya's equestrian portrait of Charles IV. A minor gathering, the débris of a former superb collection, and not even catalogued.

There are museums devoted to artillery, armour, natural sciences, and arch?ology. In the imposing National Library, full of precious manuscripts, is the museum of modern art-also without a catalogue. It does not make much of an impression after the Prado. The Fortuny is not characteristic, though a rarity; a sketch for his Battle of Tetuan, the original an unfinished painting, is at Barcelona. There are special galleries such as the Sala Haes with its seventy pictures, which are depressing. The modern Spaniards Zuloaga, Sorolla, Angla-Camarosa are either not represented or else are not at their best. There is a Diaz, who was of Spanish origin; but the Madrazos, Villegas, Montenas, and the others are academic echoes or else feeble and mannered. There are some adroit water-colours by modern Frenchmen, and there is a seeming attempt to make the collection contemporary in spirit, but it is all as dead as the allegorical dormouse, while over at the Prado there is a vitality manifested by the old fellows that bids fair to outlast the drums, tramplings, and conquests of many generations. We have not more than alluded to the sculpture at the Prado; it is not particularly distinguished. The best sculpture we saw in Spain was displayed in wood-carvings. The pride of the Prado is centred upon its Titians, Raphaels, Rubenses, Murillos, El Grecos, and, above all, upon Don Diego de Silva, better known as Velasquez.

EL GRECO AT TOLEDO

Toledo is less than three hours from Madrid; it might be three years away for all the resemblance it bears to the capital. Both situated in New Castille, Madrid seems sharply modern, as modern as the early nineteenth century, when compared to the medi?val cluster of buildings on the horseshoe-shaped granite heights almost entirely hemmed in by the river Tagus. It is not only one of the most original cities in Spain, but in all Europe. No other boasts its incomparable profile, few the extraordinary vicissitudes of its history. Not romantic in the operatic moonlit Grenada fashion, without the sparkle and colour of Seville or the mundane savour of Madrid, Toledo incarnates in its cold, detached, proud, pious way all that we feel as Spain the aristocratic, Spain the theocratic. To this city on a crag there once came, by way of Venice, a wanderer from Crete. Toledo was the final frame of the strange genius of El Greco; he made it the consecrate ground of his new art. It is difficult to imagine him developing in luxuriant Italy as he did in Spain. His nature needed a sombre and magnificent background; this city gave it to him; for no artist can entirely isolate himself from life, can work in vacuo. And El Greco's shivering, spiritual art could have been born on no other soil than Toledo. He is as original as the city.

The place shows traces of its masters-Romans, Goths, Saracens, and Christians. It is, indeed, as much Moorish as Christian-the narrow streets, high, narrow houses often windowless, the inner court replacing the open squares that are to be found in Seville. Miscalled the "Spanish Rome," Gautier's description still holds good: Toledo has the character of a convent, a prison, a fortress with something of a seraglio. The enormous cathedral, which dates back to Visigothic Christianity, is, next to Seville's, the most beautiful in Spain. Such a fa?ade, such stained glass, such ceilings! Blanco Iba?ez has written pages about this structure. The synagogues, the Moorish mosque, the Alcázar are picturesque. And then there are the Puente de Alcántara, the Casa de Cervantes, the Puerta del Sol, the Prison of the Inquisition, the Church of Santo Tomé-which holds the most precious example of Greco's art-the Sinagogo del Transito, the Church of San Vicente-with Grecos-Santo Domingo (more Grecos); the Convent, near the Church of San Juan de los Reyes, contains the Museo Provincial in which were formerly a number of Grecos; many of these have been transferred to the new Museo El Greco, founded by the Marquis de la Vega-Inclan, an admirer of the painter. This museum was once the home of Greco, and has been restored, so that if the artist returned he might find himself in familiar quarters. Pictures, furniture, carvings of his are there, while the adjoining house is rebuilt in a harmonious style of old material. Remain various antique patios or court-like interiors, the sword manufactory, and the general view from the top of the town. El Greco's romantic portrayment of his adopted city is as true now as the day it was painted-one catches a glimpse of the scene when the contrasts of light and shadow are strong. During a thunderstorm illuminated by blazing shafts of Peninsular lightning Toledo resembles a page torn from the Apocalypse.

The cathedral is the usual objective; instead, we first went to the church of Santo Tomé. It is a small Gothic structure, rebuilt from a mosque by Count Orgáz. In commemoration of this gift a large canvas, entitled El Entierro, depicting the funeral of Orgáz, by El Greco, has made Santo Tomé more celebrated than the cathedral. It is an amazing, a thrilling work, nevertheless, on a scale that prevents it from giving completely the quintessence of El Greco. No doubt he was a pupil of Titian; Gautier but repeated current gossip when he said that the Greek went mad in his attempt to emulate his master. But Tintoretto's influence counts heavier in this picture than Titian's, a picture assigned by Cossió midway between Greco's first and second period. Decorative as is the general scheme, the emotional intensity aroused by the row of portraits in the second plan, the touching expression of the two saints, Augustine and Stephen, as they gently bear the corpse of the Count, the murky light of the torches in the background, while overhead the saintly hierarchy terminating in a white radiance, Christ the Comforter, His mother at His right hand, quiring hosts at His left-all these figures make an ensemble that at first glance benumbs the critical faculty. You recall the solemn and spasmodic music of Michael Angelo (of whom El Greco is reported to have irreverently declared that he couldn't paint); then as your perspective slowly shapes itself you note that Tintoretto, plus a certain personal accent of morbid magnificence, is the artistic progenitor of this art, an art which otherwise furiously boils over with Spanish characteristics.

Nothing could be more vivid and various than the twenty-odd heads near the bottom of the picture. Expression, character, race are not pushed beyond normal limits. The Spaniard, truly noble here, is seen at a half-dozen periods of life. El Greco himself is said to be in the group; the portrait certainly tallies with a reputed one of his. The sumptuousness of the ecclesiastical vestments, court costumes, ruffs, and eloquent hands, the grays, whites, golds, blues, blacks, chord rolling upon chord of subtle tonalities, the supreme illumination of the scene, with its suggestion of a moment swiftly trapped forever in eternity, hook this masterpiece firmly to your memory. It is not one of the greatest pictures in the pantheon of art, not Rembrandt, Velasquez, Hals, Raphael, Michael Angelo, Titian, or Rubens; yet it stands close to them all because of its massed effect of light, life, and emotional situation. We confess to liking it better than the Gloria at the Escorial Palace. This glorification of a dream of Philip II does not pluck electrically at your heart-strings as does the Burial of Count Orgáz, though the two canvases are similar in architectonic.

The Expolio is in the cathedral; it belongs to the first period, before El Greco had shaken off Italian influences. The colouring is rather cold. The St. Maurice in the chapter hall of the Escorial is a long step toward a new method of expression. (A replica is in Bucharest.) The Ascension altar piece, formerly in Santo Domingo, now hangs in the Art Institute, Chicago. At Toledo there are about eighty pieces of the master, not including his sculpture, retablos; like Tintoretto, he was accustomed to make little models in clay or wax for the figures in his pictures. His last manner is best exemplified in the Divine Love and Profane Love, belonging to Se?or Zuloaga, in The Adoration of the Shepherds, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Assumption at the Church of St. Vicente, Toledo. His chalky whites, poisonous greens, violet shadows, discordant passages of lighting are, as Arthur Symons puts it: Sharp and dim, gray and green, the colour of Toledo. Greco composed his palette with white vermilion, lake, yellow ochre, ivory black. Se?or Beruete says that "he generally laid on an impasto for his flesh, put on in little touches, and then added a few definite strokes with the brush which, though accentuated, are very delicate… The gradations of the values is in itself instructive."

His human forms became more elongated as he aged; this applies only to his males; his women are of sweetness compounded and graceful in contour. Some a mere arabesque, or living flames; some sinister and fantastic; from the sublime to the silly is with Greco not a wide stride. But in all his surging, writhing sea of wraiths, saints, kings, damned souls and blest, a cerebral grip is manifest. He knew a hawk from a handsaw despite his temperament of a mystic. "He who carries his own most intimate emotions to their highest point becomes the first in a file of a long series of men"; but, adds Mr. Ellis: "To be a leader of men one must turn one's back on men." El Greco, like Charles Baudelaire, cultivated his hysteria. He developed his individuality to the border line across which looms madness. The transmogrification of his temperament after living in Toledo was profound. Born Greek, in art a Venetian, the atmosphere of the Castilian plain changed the colour of his soul. In him there was material enough for both a Savonarola or a Torquemada-his piety was at once iconoclastic and fanatical. And his restlessness, his ceaseless experiments, his absolute discoveries of new tonalities, his sense of mystic grandeur-why here you have, if you will, a Berlioz of paint, a man of cold ardours, hot ecstasies, visions apocalyptic, with a brain like a gloomy cathedral in which the Tuba Mirum is sonorously chanted. But Greco is on the side of the angels; Berlioz, like Goya, too often joined in the infernal antiphonies of Satan Mekatrig. And Greco is as dramatic as either.

Beruete admits that his idol, Velasquez, was affected by the study of El Greco's colouring. Canaille Saint-Sa?ns, when Liszt and Rubinstein were compared, exclaimed: "Two great artists who have nothing in common except their superiority." It is bootless to bracket Velasquez with his elder. And Gautier was off the track when he spoke of Greco's resemblance to the bizarre romances of Mrs. Radcliffe; bizarre Greco was, but not trivial nor a charlatan. As to his decadent tendencies we side with the opinion of Mr. Frank Jewett Mather, Jr.: "Certain pedants have written as if the world would be better without its disorderly geniuses. There could, I think, be no sorer error. We need the unbalanced talents, the poètes damnés of every craft. They strew the passions that enrich a lordlier art than their own. They fight valiantly, a little at the expense of their fame, against the only unpardonable sins, stupidity and indifference. Greco should always be an honoured name in this ill-destined company."

In the Prado Museum there is a goodly collection. The Annunciation, The Holy Family, Jesus Christ Dead, The Baptism of Christ, The Resurrection, The Crucifixion-a tremendous conception; and The Coming of the Holy Ghost; this latter, with its tongues of fire, its flickering torches, its ecstatic apostles and Mary, her face flooded by a supernal illumination, mightily stirs the ?sthetic pulse. The Prado has two dozen specimens, though two of them at least-a poor replica of the Orgáz burial, and another-are known to be by El Greco's son, Jorge Manuel Theotocopuli; of the numerous portraits and other pictures dispersed by time and chance to the four quarters of the globe, we have written earlier in this volume, when dealing with the definitive work on this Greek by Se?or Manuel B. Cossio. El Greco, through sheer intensity of temperament and fierce sincerity, could pluck out from men who had become, because of their apathy and grotesque pride, mere vegetable growths, their very souls afire; or if stained by crimes, these souls, he shot them up to God like green meteors. To be sure they have eyes drunk with dreams, the pointed skull of the mystic, and betray a plentiful lack of chin and often an atrabilious nature. When old his saints resemble him, when young he must have looked like his saints, Sebastian and Martin. With his ardent faith he could have confuted the Gnostic or the Manichean heresies in colourful allegory, but instead he sang fervid hosannahs on his canvases to the greater glory of Christ and His saints. Perhaps if he had lived in our times he might have painted heads of fashion

able courtesans or equivocal statesmen. But whether primitive or modern, realist or symbolist, he would always have been a painter of dramatic genius. He is the unicorn among artists.

VELASQUEZ IN THE PRADO

Fearful that your eye has lost its innocence after hearing so much of the picture, you enter the tiny room at the museum on the Prado in which is hung Las Meninas-The Maids of Honour, painted by Velasquez in 1656. My experience was a typical one. I went hastily through the larger Velasquez gallery in not only a challenging but an irritable mood. The holy of holies I was enraged to find, seemingly, crowded. There was the picture, but a big easel stood in the foreground blotting out the left side; some selfish artist copying, some fellow thrusting himself between us and the floating illusion of art. In despair I looked into the mirror that reflects the picture. I suspected trickery. Surely that little princess with her wilful, distrait expression, surely the kneeling maid, the dwarfs, the sprawling dog, the painter Velasquez-with his wig-the heads of the king and queen in the oblong mirror, the figure of Se?or Nieto in the doorway, the light framing his silhouette-surely they are all real. Here are the eternal simplicities. You realise that no one is in the room but these painted effigies of the court and family of Philip IV; that the canvas whose bare ribs deceived is in the picture, not on the floor; that Velasquez and the others are eidolons, arrested in space by the white magic of his art. For the moment all other artists and their works are as forgotten as the secrets in the lost and sacred books of the Magi. There is but one painter and his name is Velasquez.

This mood of ecstatic absorption is never outlived; the miracle operates whenever a visit is made to the shrine. But you soon note that the canvas has been deprived of its delicate glaze. There are patches ominously eloquent of the years that have passed since the birth of this magisterial composition. The tonal key is said to be higher because of restorations; yet to the worshipper these shortcomings are of minor importance. Even Giordano's exclamation: "Sire, this is the theology of painting," falls flat. Essence of painting, would have been a truer statement. There is no other-worldliness here, but something more normal, a suggestion of solid reality, a vision of life. The various figures breathe; so potent is their vitality that my prime impression in entering the room was a sense of the presence of others. Perhaps this is not as consummate art as the voluptuous colour-symphonies of Titian, the golden exuberance of Rubens, the abstract spacing of Raphael, the mystic opium of Rembrandt; but it is an art more akin to nature, an art that is a lens through which you may spy upon life. You recall Ibsen and his "fourth wall." Velasquez has let us into the secret of human existence. Not, however, in the realistic order of inanimate objects copied so faithfully as to fool the eye. Presentation, not representation, is the heart of this coloured imagery, and so moving, so redolent of life is it that if the world were shattered and Las Meninas shot to the coast of Mars, its inhabitants would be able to reconstruct an idea of the creatures that once inhabited old Mother Earth; men, women, children, their shapes, attitudes, gestures, and attributes. The mystery of sentient beings lurks in this canvas, the illusion of atmosphere has never been so contrived. In the upper part of the picture space is indicated in a manner that recalls both Rembrandt and Raphael. Velasquez, too, was a space-composer. Velasquez, too, plucked at the heart of darkness. But his air is luminous, the logic of his proportion faultless, his synthesis absolute. Where other painters juxtapose he composes. Despite the countless nuances of his thin, slippery brush strokes, the picture is always a finely spun whole.

When Fragonard was starting for Rome, Boucher said to him: "If you take those people over there seriously you are done for." Luckily Frago did not, and, despite his two Italian journeys, Velasquez was not seduced into taking "those people" seriously. His recorded opinion of Raphael is corroborative of his attitude toward Italian art. Titian was his sole god. For nearly a year he was in daily intercourse with Rubens, but of Rubens's influence upon him there is little trace. Las Meninas is the perfect flowering of the genius of the Spaniard. It has been called impressionistic; Velasquez has been claimed as the father of impressionism as Stendhal was hailed by Zola as the literary progenitor of naturalism. But Velasquez is too universal to be labelled in the interests of any school. His themes are of this earth, his religious paintings are the least credible of his efforts. They are Italianate as if the artist dared not desert the familiar religious stencil. His art is not correlated to the other arts. One does not dream of music or poetry or sculpture or drama in front of his pictures. One thinks of life and then of the beauty of the paint. Velasquez is never rhetorical, nor does he paint for the sake of making beautiful surfaces as often does Titian. His practice is not art for art as much as art for life. As a portraitist, Titian's is the only name to be coupled with that of Velasquez. He neither flattered his sitters, as did Van Dyck, nor mocked them like Goya. And consider the mediocrities, the dull, ugly, royal persons he was forced to paint! He has wrung the neck of banal eloquence, and his prose, sober, rich, noble, sonorous, rhythmic, is to my taste preferable to the exalted, versatile volubility and lofty poetic tumblings in the azure of any school of painting. His palette is ever cool and fastidiously restricted. It has been said that he lacks imagination, as if creation or evocation of character is not the loftiest attribute of imagination, even though it deals not with the stuff of which mythologies are made.

We admire the enthusiasm of Mr. Ricketts for Velasquez, and his analysis is second to none save R.A.M. Stevenson's. Yet we do protest the painter was not the bundle of negations Mr. Ricketts has made of him in his evident anxiety that some homage may be diverted from Titian. Titian is incomparable. Velasquez is unique. But to describe him as an artist who cautiously studied the work of other men, and then avoided by a series of masterly omissions and evasions their faults as well as their excellences, is a statement that robs Velasquez of his originality. He is not an eclectic. He is a man of affirmations, Velasquez. A student to his death, he worked slowly, revised painfully, above all, made heroic sacrifices. Each new canvas was a discovery. The things he left out of his pictures would fill a second Prado Museum. And the things he painted in are the glories of the world. Because of his simplicity, absence of fussiness, avoidance of the mock-heroic, of the inflated "grand manner," critics have pressed too heavily upon this same simplicity. There is nothing as subtle as his simplicity, for it is a simplicity that conceals subtlety. No matter the time of day or season of the year you visit Velasquez, you never find him off his guard. Aristocratic in his ease, he disarms you first. You may change your love, your politics, your religion, but once a Velasquez worshipper, always one.

Mr. Ricketts, over-anxious at precisely placing him, writes of his "distinction." He is the most "distinguished" painter in history. But we contend that this phrase eludes precise definition. "Distinguished" in what? we ask. Style, character, paint quality, vision of the beautiful? Why not come out plumply with the truth: Velasquez is the supreme harmonist in art. No one ever approached him in his handling save Hals, and Hals hardly boasts the artistic inches of Velasquez. Both possessed a daylight vision of the world. Reality came to them in the sharpest guise; but the vision of Velasquez came in a more beautiful envelope. And his psychology is profounder. He painted the sparkle of the eyes and also the look in them, the challenging glance that asks: "Are we, too, not humans?" Titian saw colour as a poet, Velasquez as a charmer and a reflective temperament. Hals doesn't think at all. He slashes out a figure for you and then he is done. The graver, deeper Spaniard is not satisfied until he has kept his pact with nature. So his vision of her is more rounded, concrete, and truthful than the vision of other painters. The balance in his work of the most disparate and complex relations of form, space, colour, and rhythm has the unpremeditated quality of life; yet the massive harmonic grandeurs of Las Meninas have been placed by certain critics in the category of glorified genre.

Some prefer Las Hilanderas in the outer gallery. After the stately equestrian series, the Philip, the Olivares, the Baltasar Carlos; after the bust portraits of Philip in the Prado and in the National Gallery, the hunting series; after the Crucifixion and its sombre background, you return to The Spinners and wonder anew. Its subtitle might be: Variations on the Theme of Sunshine. In it the painter pursues the coloured adventures of a ray of light. Rhythmically more involved and contrapuntal than The Maids, this canvas, with its brilliant broken lights, its air that circulates, its tender yet potent conducting of the eye from the rounded arm of the seductive girl at the loom to the arched area with its leaning, old-time bass-viol, its human figures melting dream-like into the tapestried background, arouses within the spectator much more complicated états d'ame than does Las Meninas. The silvery sorceries of that picture soothe the spirit and pose no riddles; The Spinners is a cathedral crammed with implications. Is it not the last word of the art of Velasquez-though it preceded The Maids? Will the eye ever tire of its glorious gloom, its core of tonal richness, its virile exaltation of everyday existence? Is it only a trick of the wrist, a deft blending of colours by this artist, who has been called, wrongfully-the "Shakespeare of the brush"? Is all this nothing more than "distinguished"?

Mr. Ricketts justly calls Las Lanzas the unique historic picture. Painted at the very flush of his genius, painted with sympathy for the conquered and the conqueror-Velasquez accompanied the Marquis of Spinola to Italy-this Surrender of Breda has received the homage of many generations. Sir Joshua Reynolds asserted that the greatest picture at Rome was the Velasquez head of Pope Innocent X in the Doria Palace (a variant is in the Hermitage Gallery, St. Petersburg). What would he have said in the presence of this captivating evocation of a historic event? The battle pieces of Michael Angelo, Da Vinci, and Titian are destroyed; Las Lanzas remains a testimony to the powers of imaginative reconstruction and architectonic of Velasquez. It is the most complete, the most natural picture in the world. The rhythms of the bristling lances are syncopated by a simple device; they are transposed to another plane of perspective, there in company with a lowered battle standard. The acute rhythms of these spears has given to the picture its title of The Lances, and never was title more appropriate. The picture is at once a decorative arabesque, an ensemble of tones, and a slice of history. Spinola receives from the conquered Justin of Nassau the keys of the beleagured Breda. Velasquez creates two armies out of eight figures, a horse and fourteen heads-here is the recipe of Degas for making a multitude carried to the height of the incredible. His own portrait, that of a grave, handsome man, may be seen to the right of the big horse.

The first period of his art found Velasquez a realist heavy in colour and brush-work, and without much hint of the transcendental realism to be noted in his later style. The dwarfs, buffoons, the ?sop and the Menippus are the result of an effortless art. In the last manner the secret of the earth mingles with the mystery of the stars, as Dosto?evsky would put it. The Topers, The Forge of Vulcan, are pictures that enthrall because of their robust simplicity and vast technical sweep though they do not possess the creative invention of the Mercury and Argus or The Anchorites. This latter is an amazing performance. Two hermits-St. Antony the Abbot visiting St. Paul the Hermit-are shown. A flying raven, bread in beak, nears them. You could swear that the wafer of flour is pasted on the canvas. This picture breathes peace and sweetness. The Christ of the Spaniard is a man, not a god, crucified. His Madonnas, masterly as they are, do not reach out hands across the frame as do his flower-like royal children and delicate monsters.

The crinolined princess, Margarita, with her spangles and furbelows, is a companion to the Margarita at the Louvre and the one in Vienna. She is the exquisite and lyric Velasquez. On his key-board of imbricated tones there are grays that felicitously sing across alien strawberry tints, thence modulate into fretworks of dim golden fire. As a landscapist Velasquez is at his best in the Prado. The various backgrounds and those two views painted at Rome in the garden of the Villa Medici-a liquid comminglement of Corot and Constable, as has been pointed out-prove this man of protean gifts to have anticipated modern discoveries in vibrating atmospheric effects and colour-values. But, then, Velasquez will always be "modern." And when time has obliterated his work he may become the legendary Parrhasius of a vanished epoch. To see him in the Prado is to stand eye to eye with the most enchanting realities of art.

CODA

When a man begins to chatter of his promenades among the masterpieces it may be assumed that he has crossed the sill of middle-age. Remy de Gourmont, gentle ironist, calls such a period l'heure insidieuse. Yet, is it not something-a vain virtue, perhaps-to possess the courage of one's windmills! From the Paris of the days when I haunted the ateliers of Gér?me, Bonnat, Meissonier, Couture, and spent my enthusiasms over the colour-schemes of Decamps and Fortuny, to the Paris of the revolutionists, Manet, Degas, Monet, now seems a life long. But time fugues precipitately through the land of art. In reality both periods overlap; the dichotomy is spiritual, not temporal.

The foregoing memoranda are frankly in the key of impressionism. They are a record of some personal preferences, not attempts at critical revaluations. Appearing first in the New York Sun, the project of their publication in book form met with the approbation of its proprietor, William Mackay Laffan, whose death in 1909 was an international loss to the Fine Arts. If these opinions read like a medley of hastily crystallised judgments jotted down after the manner of a traveller pressed for time, they are none the less sincere. My garden is only a straggling weedy plot, but I have traversed it with delight; in it I have promenaded my dearest prejudices, my most absurd illusions. And central in this garden may be found the image of the supreme illusionist of art, Velasquez.

Since writing the preceding articles on El Greco and Velasquez the museum of the Hispanic Society, New York, has been enabled, through the munificent generosity of Mr. Archer M. Huntington, to exhibit his newly acquired El Grecos and a Velasquez. The former comprise a brilliantly coloured Holy Family, which exhales an atmosphere of serenity; the St. Joseph is said to be a portrait of El Greco; and there also is a large canvas showing Christ with several of his disciples. Notable examples both. The Velasquez comes from the collection of the late Edouard Kann and is a life-size bust portrait of a sweetly grave little girl. Se?or Beruete believes her to represent the daughter of the painter Mazo and his wife, Francisca Velasquez, therefore a granddaughter of Velasquez. The tonalities of this picture are subtly beautiful, the modelling mysterious, the expression vital and singularly child-like. It is a fitting companion to a portrait hanging on the same wall, that of the aristocratic young Cardinal Pamphili, a nephew of Pope Innocent X, also by the great Spaniard.

* * * * *

BOOKS BY JAMES HUNEKER

MEZZOTINTS IN MODERN MUSIC

BRAHMS, TSCHA?KOWSKY, CHOPIN, RICHARD STRAUSS, LISZT AND WAGNER

12mo. $1.50

"Mr. Huneker is, in the best sense, a critic; he listens to the music and gives you his impressions as rapidly and in as few words as possible; or he sketches the composers in fine, broad, sweeping strokes with a magnificent disregard for unimportant details. And as Mr. Huneker is, as I have said, a powerful personality, a man of quick brain and an energetic imagination, a man of moods and temperament-a string that vibrates and sings in response to music-we get in these essays of his a distinctly original and very valuable contribution to the world's tiny musical literature."-J. F. Runciman, in London Saturday Review.

MELOMANIACS

12mo. 31.50

Contents: The Lord's Prayer in B-A Son of Liszt-A Chopin of the Gutter-The Piper of Dreams-An Emotional Acrobat-Isolde's Mother-The Rim of Finer Issues-An Ibsen Girl-Tannh?user's Choice-The Red-Headed Piano Player-Brynhüd's Immolation-The Quest of the Elusive-An Involuntary Insurgent-Hunding's Wife-The Corridor of Time-Avatar-The Wegstaffes give a Musicale-The Iron Virgin-Dusk of the Gods-Siegfried's Death-Intermezzo-A Spinner of Silence-The Disenchanted Symphony-Music the Conqueror.

"It would be difficult to sum up 'Melomaniacs' in a phrase. Never did a book, in my opinion at any rate, exhibit greater contrasts, not, perhaps, of strength and weakness, but of clearness and obscurity. It is inexplicably uneven, as if the writer were perpetually playing on the boundary line that divides sanity of thought from intellectual chaos. There is method in the madness, but it is a method of intangible ideas. Nevertheless, there is genius written over a large portion of it, and to a musician the wealth of musical imagination is a living spring of thought"-Harold E. Gorst, in London Saturday Review (Dec. 8, 1906).

BOOKS BY JAMES HUNEKER

ICONOCLASTS:

A Book of Dramatists

12mo. $1.50 net

CONTENTS: Henrik Ibsen-August Strindberg-Henry Becque-Gerhart

Hauptmann-Paul Hervieu-The Quintessence of Shaw-Maxim Gorky's

Nachtasyl-Hermann Sudennann-Princess Mathilde's Play-Duse and

D'Annunzio-Villiers de l'lsle Adam-Maurice Maeterlinck.

"His style is a little jerky, but it is one of those rare styles in which we are led to expect some significance, if not wit, in every sentence."-G.K. Chesterton, in London Daily News.

"No other book in English has surveyed the whole field so comprehensively."-The Outlook.

"A capital book, lively, informing, suggestive."-London Times

Saturday Review.

"Eye-opening and mind-clarifying is Mr. Huneker's criticism; … no one having read that opening essay in this volume will lay it down until the final judgment upon Maurice Maeterlinck is reached."-Boston Transcript.

OVERTONES:

A Book of Temperaments

WITH FRONTISPIECE PORTRAIT OF RICHARD STRAUSS

12mo. $1.25 net

CONTENTS: Richard Strauss-Parsifal: A Mystical Melodrama-Literary

Men who loved Music (Balzac, Turgenieff, Daudet, etc.)-The Eternal

Feminine-The Beethoven of French Prose-Nietzsche the

Rhapsodist-Anarchs of Art-After Wagner, What?-Verdi and Boito.

"The whole book is highly refreshing with its breadth of knowledge, its catholicity of taste, and its inexhaustible energy."-Saturday Review, London.

"In some respects Mr. Huneker must be reckoned the most brilliant of all living writers on matters musical."-Academy, London.

"No modern musical critic has shown greater ingenuity in the attempt to correlate the literary and musical tendencies of the nineteenth century."-Spectator, London.

BOOKS BY JAMES HUNEKER

EGOISTS

A BOOK OF SUPERMEN

Stendhal, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Anatole France, Huysmans, Barrès,

Hello, Blake, Nietzsche, Ibsen and Max Stirner.

With portrait of Stendhal, unpublished letter of Flaubert, and original proof page of "Madame Bovary."

12mo. $1.50 net

"The best thing in the book happily comes first, the essay on Stendhal. Closely and yet lightly written, full of facts yet as amusing as a bit of discursive talk, penetrating, candid and very shrewd, this study would be hard to beat in English, or, for that matter, in French. It is, too, the best of the essays as regards discrimination. There are no shades of Stendhal's genius, whether making for good or for ill, that are missed by this analyst, and, moreover, both the lights and shadows are justly distributed… He seeks to show you the color of a man's mind, and it is evidence of his validity as an essayist that straightway he interests you in the color of his own. He is an impressionist in criticism… Such an essayist is Mr. Huneker, a foe to dulness who is also a man of brains."-Royal Cortissoz in New York Tribune.

"JAMES HUNEKER: INDIVIDUALIST"

"As a critic, whether of music, the plastic arts, of poetry or fiction or philosophy, he is of those who never attain finality; but he is always stimulating, provocative of thought, and by virtue of this quality, not invariably possessed by critics, he is entitled to a distinctive place in American letters."

Edward Clark Marsh in The Forum.

BOOKS BY JAMES HUNEKER

VISIONARIES

12mo. $1.50 net

Contents: A Master of Cobwebs-The Eighth Deadly Sin-The Purse of

Aholibah-Rebels of the Moon-The Spiral Road-A Mock

Sun-Antichrist-The Eternal Duel-The Enchanted Yodler-The Third

Kingdom-The Haunted Harpsichord-The Tragic Wall-A Sentimental

Rebellion-Hall of the Missing Footsteps-The Cursory Light-An Iron

Fan-The Woman Who Loved Chopin-The Tune of Time-Nada-Pan.

"The author's style is sometimes grotesque in its desire both to startle and to find true expression. He has not followed those great novelists who write French a child may read and understand. He calls the moon 'a spiritual gray wafer'; it faints in 'a red wind'; 'truth beats at the bars of a man's bosom'; the sun is 'a sulphur-colored cymbal'; a man moves with 'the jaunty grace of a young elephant.' But even these oddities are significant and to be placed high above the slipshod sequences of words that have done duty till they are as meaningless as the imprint on a worn-out coin.

"Besides, in nearly every story the reader is arrested by the idea, and only a little troubled now and then by an over-elaborate style. If most of us are sane, the ideas cherished by these visionaries are insane; but the imagination of the author so illuminates them that we follow wondering and spellbound. In 'The Spiral Road' and in some of the other stories both fantasy and narrative may be compared with Hawthorne in his most unearthly moods. The younger man has read his Nietzsche and has cast off his heritage of simple morals. Hawthorne's Puritanism finds no echo in these modern souls, all sceptical, wavering and unblessed. But Hawthorne's splendor of vision and his power of sympathy with a tormented mind do live again in the best of Mr. Huneker's stories."-London Academy (Feb. 3, 1906).

* * * * *

CHOPIN:

The Man and His Music

WITH ETCHED PORTRAIT 12mo. $2.00

"No pianist, amateur or professional, can rise from the perusal of his pages without a deeper appreciation of the new forms of beauty which Chopin has added, like so many species of orchids, to the musical flora of the nineteenth century."-The Nation.

"I think it not too much to predict that Mr. Huneker's estimate of Chopin and his works is destined to be the permanent one. He gives the reader the cream of the cream of all noteworthy previous commentators, besides much that is wholly his own. He speaks at once with modesty and authority, always with personal charm."-Boston Transcript.

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