File #4307: "spanish_english_art.pdf"

Text

SPANISH
AND

ENGLISH NATIONAL ART.
_+—
ART. X.——1. Annals of the Artists of Spain. By WILLIAM STIRLING, M.A. 3 vols. 8vo. London: Ollivier, 184:8.
2. Reports of the Commissioners on the Fine Arts; 5th, 6th, and

7th.

London, 1846-7.

THE ignorance about Spain which prevails in every

other country of Europe is certainly wonderful. Many
regions of Asia have been better explored. That the
religious jealousy of its people, and some additional
vague fears connected with it, have kept the prying
eye of English travellers from its boundaries, we cannot doubt ; but even France, except in the shape of a
hostile invasion, has seldom penetrated beyond that
huge mountain-wall, which sunders—pity it has not
done so more effectually —— these two neighbouring
lands. This utter separation of Spain from the rest of
Europe, for several centuries, extends to what might
be considered a neutral ground,—the vast domain of
art. The first work before us, which fills up an
immense gap in our literature, gives, in the preface,
abundant evidence of this. In a rapid analysis of the
labours of his predecessors, in England and on the
continent, Mr. Stirling has shown how little has been
known of Spanish painting until very lately, and how
inaccurate that little has been. And even at the very

396

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

present moment, we should doubt whether many, he.
sides a few professed picture-collectors,have any distinct
idea of more than three Spanish painters of eminence,
_Murillo, Velasques, and Ribera, under his Italian
soubriquet of Spagnoletto. Yet one single Italian
city has produced a greater number of artists, whose
names are familiar to all that prate about painting.
For instance, the three Caraccis, Domenichino, Guido,
Albani, and Guercino, have given a celebrity to the
school of Bologna alone, which all the painters of
Castile and Andalusia, with Valencia and Estramadura
to boot, have not yet procured for the arts of the
Peninsula. In addition to the first reason given, of
its seclusion from the beat of travellers and collectors,
we may account for this on another ground. The
patronage of Italian art was much more secular than
that under which Spanish art. has ever flourished
—Secular as to persons, places, subjects, and motives.
The stern simplicity of Spanish dwellings and Spanish
habits, contrasts strongly with the luxurious apartments and splendid galleries of Italian palaces. Hence
artists painted for these and for their owners. In
other words, the subjects which they too often treated,
were in accordance with the voluptuous thoughts of
any age or country; and their paintings were liable
to all the vicissitudes of other private property, and
might be sold, or seized, or exchanged, or pilfered, or
turned into securities in a thousand ways, which would
transfer them to other owners. The cabinet, or gallery,
pictures of Italy have thus travelled over Europe, and

NATIONAL ART.

397

Murillo, with the exception of the royal painters,

risks,
whose works were not exposed to commercial
the Spanish artists devoted themselves almost entirely
to the service of the Church. The architect displayed

his skill in raising the splendid cathedrals, Cartujas
which
(Chartreuses), or other conventual buildings,
who, in
formed the glory of old Spain. The sculptor,
modern phrase, would be rather called a carver—for
his
wood was his ordinary material—profaned not
forms,
chisel by producing lascivious, or even profane,
but laboured his life long on sacred images, or the
life-like,
storied panels of a choir, and produced those
which strike
Speaking representations of holy persons,
another
one with awe in the Spanish churches. And
branch of this art is peculiar to Spain. The silver“
or, as Mr. Stirling truly calls them, sculptors
smiths,

manuand architects in plate (p. 159), instead of
facturing, like Cellini, mythological saltcellars, passed
Custodians,
their lives in elaborating those magnificent
to
or Remonstrances, of which a few yet remain
else to
astonish the traveller, and which are nowhere
be found.
It required nothing short of sacrilege, carried on by
these
men utterly reckless of its extent, to dislodge
the
treasures of art; and, unfortunately for Spain,
two most effectual instruments of the crime have been
let loose upon her. First, the foreign foe came, not
like a
merely as a despoiler, to pillage and ruin, but
calculating burglar, who, before he breaks into a house,
has ascertained the value of the plate and money
within, and where it is kept; and so, coolly executes
his scheme of plunder. Never before did a pictureprepared of what
of the
paintings he would purchase, and difl'ident

thirty thousand men, with his

11st

398

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

of his profession as a soldier, rely upon the
security of his trade as a broker. Soult pulled down
his Murillos at the head of his tr00ps, but, under the
shadow of their bayonets, took care to make a regular
deed of contract with their trustees, in which the
buyer had the dictation of his own terms. And after
the heartless soldier of the Revolution, who cared
little for the curses of the poor whom he spoiled,
came the soulless politician of the modern continental
school, who minded as little for their prayers. The
suppression of ‘the religious orders, the sale of church
prOperty, and the spoliation and ruin, which followed as a consequence, of magnificent ecclesiastical
edifices and establishments, have led to a still further
dispersion of the monuments of Spanish art. But
there has been one poor compensation in this second
and domestic act of Vandalism. The paintings or
sculptures thus carried away from their original positions have not been sent abroad, but have been preserved in the country. Miserably placed, badly lighted,
wretchedly framed, often horribly neglected, and surrounded with trash of every description, the masterpieces of Spanish art are now to be seen, in the
principal cities, collected into what is called a gallery,
but what was a church, or a refectory, or a cloister of
success

some convent,——never intended, and therefore totally
unfitted, for their reception.
In Italy, too, the same error has been committed,
and has been cOpied everywhere, of tearing away the
artist’s work from the spot for which he designed,
toned, and proportioned it, where it was surrounded
by accessories to which it was adapted, or which were
made expressly to heighten its effect, and of
hanging

it on the walls

of a hall or gallery, where a painting

with colossal figures by Caravaggio is placed perhaps

NATIONAL ART.

399

the two fit
above a minutely-finished Breugel, because
of
to the place, but not certainly to the eye, or its laws

But at any rate in other parts of Europe
some little care has been taken to make the gallery
suited to the specimens which it contains; and often
costly buildings have been erected for their preservation. The unsettled state of Spain, which has not yet
allowed the roads to be mended, has not permitted
this attention, at least in the provinces, to the splendid
fear,
productions of its artists. And greatly do we
that, as prosperity returns to that long-agitated
nation, its first efforts will be manifested far more by
an ambition to raise cotton-mills and iron-foundries,
than to erect pinacotheks and glyptotkelcs for its
masterpieces of art. Indeed, more important duties
of restoration than this, weigh on the national conscience. And bad as is the present position of paintings
in what are now called their galleries, besides the convenience for inspecting them which is afforded, we
rejoice that the churches are spared the profanation
to which the curiosity of the picture-gazer generally

vision.

subjects the house of God.
But to return. Spanish art is, more eminently than
any other, the daughter of Religion; because, unlike
the Italian or Flemish schools, she never turned her
back upon her mother, nor called down her censures
on herself; but to the end remained her child and
handmaid, working faithfully for her, and on her own
principles. There never has been in Spain a profane,
or to speak more tenderly, a classical school of art ; a
school of nudities, that is, of mythologies, of heathenism, and of the vices. Nay, even more. The extra-

religious domain of Spanish painting would naturally
be the same as of its poetry,——not the classical, but the
romantic, world. In a nation which, up to the very

400

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

moment when its arts reached a great development,
was still engaged in the Christian war against the
Moslem, in which the spirit of chivalry had been pro.
longed by its two chief sources, great courage animated
by strong religious feeling, we should hardly have been
surprised to see the great deeds of the Campeador and
his brother heroes immortalized by the pencil, while
Mars or Brutus might have been easily despised,
beside real, and recent, and virtuous, feats of war.
But even in the face of these more national and noble
themes, painting has remained, in Spain, true to her
maiden love of the celestial alone ; she has given them
up to poetry, and she has disdained aught less elevated
than the glory of God and His saints.

But Mr. Stirling has expressed all this in language
which, as coming from one by no means partial to the
Catholic religion, will be more striking and convincing
than anything that we can say. We must therefore
make room for a long passage from him :—
“ Spanish art, like Spanish nature, is in the highest degree national

and peculiar. Its three principal schools of painting differ in style
from each other, but they all agree in the great features which distinguish them from the other schools of Europe. The same deeplyreligious tone is common to all. In Spain alone can painting be said
to have drawn all its inspiration from Christian fountains, and, like
the architecture of the Middle Ages, to be an exponent of a pe0ple’s
faith. Its first professors, indeed, acquired their skill by the study
of Italian models, and by communion with Italian minds. But the
skill which at Florence and Venice would have been chiefly employed to adorn palace halls with the adventures of pious ZEneas, or
ladies’ bowers with passages from the Art of Love,-——at Toledo,
Seville, and Valencia was usually dedicated to the service of God and
the Church. Spanish painters are very rarely to be found in the
regions of history or classical mythology. Sion Hill delights them
more than the Aonian Mount, and Siloa’s brook than ancient Tiber
or the laurel-shaded Orontes. Their pastoral scenes are laid, not in
the vales of Arcady, but in the fields of J udea, where Ruth gleaned
after the reapers of Boaz, and where Bethlehem shepherds watched

4101

NATIONAL AR’I.

it is a
their flocks on the night of the Nativity. In their landscapes
moves through
musing hermit, or, perhaps, a company of monks, that
: not
the forest solitude, or reposes by the brink of the torrent
there

“ ‘ Gratia cum Nymphis geminisque sororibus
Ducere nuda choros.’

audet

3‘

“ Their fancy loves

best to deal with the legendary history of the
the
[B] Virgin, and the life and passion of the Redeemer, with and
glorious company of apostles, the goodly fellowship of prophets,
the noble army of martyrs and saints; and they tread this sacred
ground with habitual solemnity and decorum ...... Far different” (from

those of the Italian artists) were the themes on which Murillo put

forth his highest powers.

After the ‘Mystery of the Immaculate

Conception,’ he repeated, probably more frequently than any other

subject, the Charity of St. Thomas of Villanueva;’ and it was his
finest picture of that good prelate, inimitable for simplicity and

grandeur, that he was wont to call emphatically his own.’b
“The sobriety and purity of manner which distinguished the
Spanish painters is mainly to be attributed to the restraining influence of the Inquisition. Palaminoc quotes a decree of that tribunal, forbidding the making or exposing of immodest paintings and
sculptures, on pain of excommunication, a fine of fifteen hundred
ducats, and a year’s exile. The holy office also appointed inspectors,
whose duty it was to see that no works of that kind were exposed to
view in churches and other public places. Pacheco, the painter and
historian of art, held this post at Seville, and Palamino himself at
Madrid ...... Another cause of the severity and decency of Spanish
art, is to be found in the character of the Spanish people. The
proverbial gravity—which distinguishes the Spaniard, like his cloak—
which appears in his manner of address, and in the common phrases
of his speech, is but an index of his earnest and thoughtful nature.
The Faith of the Cross, nourished with the blood of Moor and
Christian, nowhere struck its roots so deep, or spread them so wide,
as in Spain. Pious enthusiasm pervaded all orders of men; the
noble and learned as well as the vulgar. The wisdom of antiquity
could not sap the creed of Alcala or Salamanca, nor the style of Plato
or Cicero seduce their scholars into any leaning to the religion of
Greece or Rome ....... After all the revolutions and convulsions of
Spain, where episcopal crosses have been coined into dollars to pay
a

3

Horat. Carm. lib. iv. 8; v. 5, 6.
c
Pal. tom. ii. p.

‘3

Chap. xii. p. 876.

.138.

2

d

402

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

for the bayoneting of friars militant on the hills of Biscay, and the
primacy has become a smaller ecclesiastical prize than our Sodor and
Man; it is still in Spain—constant, when seeming most false—religious,
when seeming careless of all creeds—that the pious Catholic looks
hopefully to see the Faith of Rome rise, refreshed, regenerate, and
irresistible.d N urtured in so devout a land, it was but natural that
Spanish art should show itself devout. The painter was early secured
to the service of religion. His first inspiration was drawn from the
pictured walls of the churches or cloisters of his native place, where he
had knelt a wondering child beside his mother, where he had loitered
or begged when a boy: to their embellishment his earliest efforts
were dedicated, out of gratitude, perhaps, to the kindly Carmelite or
Cordelier who had taught him to read, or fed him with bread and
soup on the days of dole; or who had first noticed the impulse of his
boyish fancy, and guided ‘ his desperate charcoal round the convent
walls.’ As his Skill improved, he would receive orders from neighbouring convents, and some gracious friar would introduce him to the
notice of the bishop or the tasteful grandee of the province. The
fairest creations of his matured genius then went to enrich the
cathedral or the royal abbey, or found their way into the gallery of
the sovereign, to bloom in the gardens of Flemish and Italian art.

.

Throughout his whole career the Church was his best and surest
patron. Nor was he the least important or popular of her ministers.
His art was not merely decorative and delightful, but it was exercised
to instruct the young and the ignorant; that is, the great body of
worshippers, in the scenes of the Gospel history, and in the awful
and touching legends of the saints, whom they were taught from the
cradle to revere. ‘ For the learned and the lettered,’ says Don Juan
de Butron, a writer on art in the reign of Philip IV., ‘ written knowledge may suffice; but for the ignorant, what master is like painting?
They may read their duty in a picture, although they cannot search
for it in books.’8 The painter became, therefore, in some sort a
d

\R

“ See the able article on ‘

Spain,’ in the Dublin Review, No. xxxvi.
art. 4, containing an interesting sketch of the
present state of the
Spanish Church, which, though drawn by the too favourable hand of
an enthusiastic partisan, displays that
knowledge of the subject in
which some zealous Protestant travellers who
have lately written
books about it, are so lamentably deficient, and
the absence of which
few of their Protestant readers ever seem to
detect.”-—[Mr. Stirling’s

note]
8

Discursos Apologeticos. Madrid, 1626, 4to.
p. 36.

'

403

NATIONAL ART.

homilies, more attractive, and
preacher; and his works were standing
delivered from the pulpit.
perhaps more intelligible, than those usually
the
mlght
fix
The quiet pathos, the expressive silence of the picture,
the glozing of the J esult, and
eye that would drop to sleep beneath
the thunders of the
melt hearts that would remain untouched by all
Dominican.”——Vol. i. pp. 10-16.

the principle, that religious art will make religious
artists, and cannot be carried on Without them. It
is well known that early Italian art was not only
eminently Christian, but either produced, or nourished
in holiness, such men as the Beato Angelico, Simone
Memmi, and Fra Bartolomeo. Now Spanish art will
be found to have done the same. We will begin with
an illustrious example. But first we must give some
account of the rise of art in Valencia, to the school
of which it belongs. Mr. Stirling thus describes
it :—
“The city of Valencia,

so

full of beauty and delight,

says the local

proverb, that a Jew might there forget Jerusalem, was equally prolific
of artists, of saints, and of men of letters. Its fine school of painting
first grew into notice under the enlightened care of the good archbishop, [St.] Thomas of Villanueva. Illustrious for birth, piety, and
benevolence, and admitted after his death to the honours of the
Roman Calendar, this excellent prelate, once a favourite preacher of
the Emperor Charles V., became a favourite saint of the south, rivalling St. Vincent Ferrer, and receiving, as it were, a new canonization
from the pencils of Valencia and Seville. There were few churches
or convents, on the sunny side of Sierra Morena, without some
memorial picture of the holy man, with whom almsgiving had been a
passion from the cradle, who, as a child, was wont furtively to feed
the hungry with his mother’s flour and chickens, and, as an archbishop, lived like a mendicant friar, and, being at the point of death,
divided amongst the poor all his worldly goods, except only the pallet
whereon he lay. These pictorial distinctions were due not only to
his boundless charities, but to his munificent patronage of art, which

2d2

404

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

he employed, not to swell his archiepiscopal state, but to em.
bellish his cathedral, and to instruct and improve his flock.”——Vol. i,
pp. 353-4.

has the honour of being the founder
and patron of the school of Valencia; and we need
not be surprised if it had saints among its artists.
One of its greatest ornaments, both in Skill and in
virtue, was Vincente de J uanes, more generally known
by the name of Juan de J uanes. Mr. Stirling shall
once more Speak for himself, and give an account of

A saint then

this great artist :—
“ Being a man of a grave

and devout disposition, his fine pencil
was never employed in secular subjects, nor in the service of the
laity, but wholly dedicated to religion and the Church. Cumberland,
in 1782, doubted if any of his pictures were even then in lay hands.
With this pious master, enthusiasm for art was inspiration from
above, painting a solemn exercise, and the studio an oratory, where
each new work was begun with fasting and prayers. His holy zeal
was rewarded by the favour of the doctors and dignitaries of the
Church. For the archbishop he designed'a series of tapestries on the
life of the Virgin, which were wrought for the cathedral in the looms
of Flanders. He was largely employed by the chapter, and for most
of the parish churches of the city; and many of his works adorned
the monasteries of the Carmelites, Dominicans, Jesuits, Franciscans,
and J eronymites ...... He was also honoured by commands far higher
than those of abbots and archbishops, and which were amongst the
highest marks of heavenly favour that could be given to the devout
artist. On the evening of an Assumption-day, the Blessed Virgin
revealed herself to Fray Martin Alberto, a Jesuit of Valencia, and
commanded that her picture should be painted as she then appeared,
attired in a white robe and blue mantle, and standing on the crescentmoon; above her was to float the mystic dove, and the Father Eternal
was to be seen leaning from the clouds, whilst her Divine Son placed
a crown upon her head. To execute this honourable, but arduous
task, the Jesuit selected J uanes, whose confessor he was, and described to him with great minuteness his glorious vision. The first
Sketches were, however, unsuccessful: and the skill of the painter
fell Short of the brilliant dream of the friar. Both, therefore, betOOk
themselves to religious exercises, and to their
prayers were added
those of other holy men. Every day the artist
confessed and com-

NATIONAL ART.

«105

often stand
municated before commencing his labours: and he would
for whole hours with his pencils and palette in his hand, but without
him
touching the divine figure, until his spirit was quickened within
at last
by the fervency of his prayers. His piety and perseverance
our
overcame all difficulties; and he produced a noble picture of
the
Lady, exactly conformable to the vision, which long adorned
altar of the ‘Immaculate Conception’ in the Jesuits’ convent, and
became famous amongst artists for its excellence, and amongst friars
for its miraculous powers. In Valencia it enjoyed the title of ‘La
Purisima,’ and was widely known by an engraving; after the expulIndesion of the Jesuits, it remained in their church till the War of
i.
pendence; but its subsequent fate has not been recorded.”—Vol.
pp. 356-8.

But Spain has, in the truest sense of the word,
given birth to a painter-saint. His life is in every
respect so beautiful, that though it occupies a considerable space, we cannot resist the temptation of
giving it at length, as abridged by Mr. Stirling; premising only that we do not thereby mean approval of
some levities to be found in the narrative :—
has produced many devout artists, clerical as
well as laic, to Pedro Nicolas Factor alone have the honours of”
canonization been accorded. His father, Vincente Factor, was a

“Although Spain

native of Sicily, and by trade a tailor; and coming to Valencia to
seek his fortunes, he there fixed his abode, and married Ursula
Estana. The first fruit of this union was a son named Bautista, who
afterwards became a grave and learned doctor of law at Xativa ; the
second was Pedro Nicolas, who was so called because he was born
on St. Peter’s day, 1520, and because his father regarded St. Nicolas
with peculiar devotion. This auspicious birth took place in a house
in
adjoining, and afterwards taken into, the Augustine convent, and
a chamber occupying the spot where the Host was afterwards kept.
In honour of the event, the tailor and his wife were wont, in after
years, to wash the feet of twelve poor men and a priest every
in
St. Nicolas’s day, and gave them a meal, and two reals each
soon
money. The saintly and artistic tendencies of their second son
began to develop themselves. Whilst yet a child, he took great
haunt, and
delight in fasting; his parents" oratory was his favourite
to make little altars and images of saints his. favourite pastime.
Neglecting his lessons one day at school, the fact was maliciously

406

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

pointed out by another boy to the master, whose leathern thong,
which served him for a birch, immediately descended on the shoulders
of the future saint, and called forth, not only renewed application,
but a display of Christian meekness very rare amongst boys or men:
for the sufferer, as soon as the pedagogue’s back was turned, instead
of doing battle with the traitor, humbly kissed his hand, and thanked
him for his good offices. His food and clothes were frequently given
to the poor, and much of his time was Spent in the hospitals, and in
attendance on the sick, especially those affected with leprosy and
other loathsome diseases. Meanwhile he prosecuted his theological
studies with great ardour; and he also acquired a knowledge of
painting, although the name of his master has not been recorded.
His father, who seems to have thriven by the needle, wished to set
him up in trade as a dealer in cloth, and even offered him one thousand ducats for this purpose; but the monk being strong within
him, he resisted the parental entreaties, and entered the Franciscan
convent of St. Maria de Jesus, a quarter of a league distant from
Valencia, in his seventeenth year. There he became distinguished
during his noviciate for his rigorous observance of the rules of the
order, and he took the final vows on the first Sunday of Advent,
1538. His life was henceforth devoted to the earnest discharge of
all the duties, and to the practice of every austerity which, in the
eyes of his country and Church, could elevate and adorn the character
of a mendicant friar.
“As soon as he was of sulficient age, he received priest’s orders,
and was ordained a preacher at the Franciscan convent at Chelva, a
house not unknown to legendary fame. In its garden no sparrows
were ever seen, although the adjacent walls swarmed with them,
because, in former times, a pious gardener-monk, whose potherbs
had suffered, and whose soul was vexed by their depredations, had
prayed for their perpetual banishment. Amongst the groves, too, of
this garden was a cave, called the Cave of Martyrs, because it had
been the favourite oratory of two religious, who were afterwards put
to death by the infidels of Granada. In these sparrowless shades,
Factor spent much of his time; and in this cavern, being unable to
discipline himself to his own satisfaction, he caused a novice to flog
him until his body was lacerated and empurpled to his heart’s content. His zeal for his own flagella-tion was extraordinary. When he
held the post of master of the novices, who were twenty-two in
number, in the Franciscan convent of Valencia, reversing the usual
position of novice and master, he frequently caused them to flog him
by turns, ordering one to give him a dozen lashes for the twelve apostles;

NATIONAL ART.

407

e, and the rest other
another fifteen for the fifteen steps of the templ
d chastisement from
numbers on similar pretexts, until he had receive
his own hands, he
compelled to inflict the scourge with
them all.
In the choir, at the
accompanied the strokes with a solemn chant.
the
altar, and in the pulpit, he was equally unwearied in
musician, his services were
of his sacred functions. Being a good
and his fame for
highly valued in the musical parts of worship;
he officiated.
sanctity attracted many people to the church where
fell into
Whilst engaged in public or private prayer, he frequently
duration, in which he was so
ecstasies or raptures, sometimes of long
sometimes
unconscious of material things, that sceptical bystanders
thereby.
thrust pins into his flesh, without exciting his attention
him a high
As a' preacher, his eloquence and earnestness gained
radiant with superreputation. In the pulpit, his face often became
straying into
natural light; and, on one occasion, a hen and chickens
had been another
the church, stood motionless at his feet, as if he ‘
all men took for

St. Anthony, which,’ says his biographer gravely,
he would frequently lie
a miracle.’ His humility was so great, that
the feet of the
down in the Cloister, or even in the street, to kiss
unbounded, and he was rarely seen
passers-by. His charity was
he could not
with any other clothing but his brown frock, because
his friends
refrain from giving away the under garments with which
was to stand, ladle in
provided him; and one of his few recreations
‘olla,’ and spiritual
hand, at his convent door, dispensing soup and
in the calendar ever
counsel to the mendicant throng. No saint
barefoot, and dieted to
fasted more rigorously; or more rigidly went
Paula,f he was
bread and water. Like his great chief, St. Francis de
his labours, his mortifia determined woman-hater; but in spite of
men,
cations, and his prayers, he was sometimes, like other holy
severest trial of
tempted by demons in fair, seducing shapes. His
he
this kind took place in his own cell on a St. Ursula’s night, when
Martyr
was in great danger of being worsted, had not that Virgin
away.
appeared in a flood of glory, and scared the tempter
“ In painting, his favourite subject was the Passion of our Lord, on
so
which he endeavoured to model his own life, and which sometimes
to solitary spots
powerfully affected his fancy, that he used to retire
many
amongst the hills, to meditate on it with tears. He painted
of Santa
representations of this religious mystery in his own convent
been
Maria de Jesus, where the greater part of his life seems to have
houses, espespent. He frequently, however, visited other religious

If

'

.

f St. Francis of Assisium.

408

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

cially those to which he was guardian, as those of Chelva,
Val de
Jesus, and Grandia. For these establishments he executed
pictures,
sometimes in fresco, and not unfrequently illustrated and
explained
by pious verses of his own composition.
“His reputation for sanctity having spread far and wide,
on the
establishment of the royal Convent of Barefooted Nuns at
Madrid,
in 1559, its founder, the Infanta Juana, with the consent of
the king,
appointed him confessor to the sisterhood. In this
nunnery, rich in
reliques presented by kings and popes, he executed a
pictured

Christ at the column.’ But the ceremonial and
distractions of a
court-life soon vexed his austere soul, and led him to
determine on
returning to the quiet of his Valencian Cloister. With his staff
in
his hand, and his loins girded for the journey, he
passed the avenues
of the Prado and the gate of Atocha, and turned aside to
offer up a
prayer in the stately church dedicated to the Virgin of Atocha,
one of
the oldest and holiest effigies in Castile. As he knelt
at her splendid
shrine, beneath its lamps of silver, where so
many crowned heads
before and since have bowed, it is recorded that
the image miracu‘
lously addressed him in these words : Fray Nicolas,
why dost thou
depart, and forsake the brides of my Son?’
(Porque te vas, y dexas
solas las esposas de mi Hijo 1’) Amazed and
terrified by the portent,
the poor confessor remained speechless and
trembling until the Virgin,
'

h, reassured him by
adding, ‘ Go in peace’ (Vete in buen hora), which
he accordingly did,
IS natlve palm-trees 1n the

be painted the ‘ Triumph of
in the Cloister, and enriched the choir-books
'
illuminations, and became more
e

with

he was seized with a fever,
which, acting on a frame already exhausted
by

labours and privation, carried him
off on the 23rd of December, in
the sixty-third year of h is age.
On his death-bed be displayed the
,,
humihty and devotion, and enjoyed the
same
spiritual distinction for

hrough life; his last wish was to

be

1109

NATIONAL ART.

laid out to
celestial music proceeded from his cell. His body being
Montesa, many of
public view, was visited by the Grand Master of
dead
the nobles, and all the clergy of Valencia; and reliques of the
friar were so eagerly sought for, that a poor student, under pretence
of kissing his feet, actually bit off two of its toes before the corpse
was consigned to its sumptuous tomb in the chapel. All his sayings
and doings were diligently chronicled; and his friend, Fray Cristoval
Moreno, despatched a monk to Catalonia, to collect the particulars of
his last journey, which were afterwards recorded in the life published
in 1588 by authority of the Patriarch Juan de Ribera. Numberless
examples were there cited of his prophetic and miraculous powers,
in which he rivalled his friend, Luis Beltran, who likewise became a
saint of great fame at Valencia. Hearing a report of the king’s
death during the sitting of the Cortes at Moncon in 1563, Factor
is said to have retired to his cell, and after inflicting grievous
self-chastisement, to have received a communication from heaven,
that the report was groundless, as it turned out to be. The victory
at Lepanto and the death of Queen Anna were announced to him
at Valencia, at the very time that these events were taking place,—
the one in the Gulf of Corinth, and the other in the capital of
his
Spain. Countless sick persons were restored to health through
prayers; and by virtue of a lock of his hair a hosier’s wife at
Barcelona obtained a safe and easy delivery, and a rector of the same
city was cured of gout in his legs. Witnesses were found to make
oath, that they had seen on the friar’s hands the stigmata, or marks
of the nails, like those of our Lord and of St. Francis de Paula
(of Assisium). These and similar prodigies at length obtained for
Factor the honours of canonization from Pope Pius VI., who, on
the 17th of August, 1786, declared him a ‘beato,’ or saint of the
second order. In 1787, a medal, bearing his head, was struck
in his honour at Valencia by the Royal Academy of San Carlos;
and in 1789, a small engraving of the new saint was executed
by Moles.
“ ‘ Factor’s pictures,’ says Cean Bermudez, ‘ although somewhat
poor in colouring, displayed considerable skill in drawing ;’ and they
were full of that devotional expression and feeling that belongs to
the pencil that speaks out of the fulness of a pious heart. Unhappily,
none of his works are now known to exist, either in the Museum of
Valencia, or in the Royal Gallery at Madrid ; perhaps none of them
Ponz esteemed the
have survived the fall of the convents
Maria

Triumph of the Archangel Michael,’ in the cloister of Santa
worthy of the
de Jesus, as the painter’s best work, praising it as

.....

410

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

school of Michael Angelo, and deploring the injuries which it had
sustained both from time and neglect.
“Moreno has preserved some fragments of Factor’s writings,
both in prose and verse. The former consist chiefly of letters
addressed to nuns. There is likewise a curious ‘ Spiritual Alphabet’
(Abecedario Espiritual), in which each letter begins with a name
or title of the Supreme Being,—as A. Amor mio, B. Bien mio, C,
Oriador mio, and the like. The verses are devotional hymns on
the ‘Love of God,’ the ‘ Union of the Soul with God,’ and similar
subjects.”——Pp. 368-79.

Many other instances may be collected of the piety
of Spanish artists. Mr. Stirling thus describes Vargas,
an eminent painter :—
“ Vargas died at Seville in 1568, with the reputation of a great

painter and a good and amiable man. To a natural modesty and
kindness of disposition, he added that sincere and fervent piety not
uncommon amongst the artists of the age, and so well befitting one
whose daily calling lay amongst the sublime mysteries of religion,
and required him to fix his contemplations on things above. After
his decease there were found in his chamber the scourges with
which.
he practised self-flagellation, and a coffin wherein he was wont to lie
down in the hours of solitude and repose, and consider his latter end.
Notwithstanding these secret austerities, he was a man of wit and
humour withal; as appears by his reply to a brother painter, who
desired his opinion of a bad picture of ‘ Our Saviour on the Cross
;’
‘ Methinks,’
answered Vargas, ‘ he is saying, “ Forgive them, Lord,
for they know not what they do.” ’ ”—P. 313.

\_

Again, Nicholas Borras was not only a painter of
great ability, but a religious “ of scrupulous piety,
and austere habits.”g Fray Juan Sanchez Cotan was
another very eminent religious painter. He was hardly
known till his forty-third year, when he became a
Carthusian monk in 1604.
“ This step,” says

Cean Bermudez,

greatly aided his progress

in virtue and in painting, and like other
both
holy artists, he found
1n prayer his best inspiration......
Fray Juan, at his death, which took
place at Granada, in 1627, was reckoned ‘ one
of the most venerable
8

Vol. i. p. 380.

411

NATIONAL ART.


‘ He had prein Spain.
monks, as well as one of the best painters

his
Palomino, ‘his baptismal grace and virg1n purIty;
served,’ says
”1‘

were wont to call him the holy friar Juan.’
brethren

of art

One of the strangest characters in the history
in
is certainly Alonso Cano, a mixture of cleverness
his profession, eccentricity of conduct, and goodness
without
of heart. He was made a canon of Granada,
inbeing in orders, and the violence of his temper
after having
volved him in all sorts of mishaps. But
been deposed, and reinstated, through royal patronage,

of his
never in Spain refused to art, the remainder
life was chiefly devoted to pious exercises and works
of charity. Poverty and wretchedness never appealed
were
to him in vain, and his gains, as soon as won,
was,
divided amongst widows and orphans. His purse
therefore, often empty; and on these occasions, if he
him,
met a beggar in the street, whose story touched
for pen
he would go into the next shop, and asking
and paper, sketch a head, a figure, or an architectural
direction for
design, and give it as his alms, with
to it.
finding a purchaser, at a price which he affixed
His benevolence of heart being equalled by his readiwere
ness of hand, these eleemosynary drawings

them
rapidly multiplied, and a large collection of
came into the possession of Palomino?”
His death-bed was most exemplary and edifying,
but not without a dash of his two other characteristics
He
—-his artistic feeling, and eccentricity of mind.
he
would not be attended by his own curate, because
'

converted Jews, for whom he had an abhorrence
almost amounting to a mania, ludicrous in its manihim to
festation. And when the person selected by
moments, a
attend him, held before him, in his dying
h

Pp. 436, 439.

1

VOL ii. p. 791.

412

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

wretchedly-executed crucifix, Cano, with his feeble
hand, put it aside. The good man was Shocked,
and
“ My son, what
reminded him what it was, saying:
are you doing? This is the image of our Lord,
the
Redeemer, by whom alone you can be saved.” “ So
I do believe, father,” said the dying man, “ yet vex
me not with this thing; but give me a simple cross,
that may adore Him, both as He is in Himself and
as can figure Him in my mind.”k No one who
has
seen Alonso Cano’s own representation of the Crucifixion will be astonished at his fastidiousness; we
never recollect seeing a picture of it more forcible and
striking than one by him at Seville.

I

I

He had been most unacceptable to the chapter of
Granada, upon whom he was thrust by Philip IV. : he
had been in a perpetual quarrel with them, he was at
last expelled by them, and reinstated against their will,
and we are told that “ he never forgave the
chapter
he was taken ill, the chapter, as appears
from entries
in its books, not only voted 500 reals on the 11th of
August “to the canon Cano, being sick and
very poor
and without means to pay the doctor,” but
eight
days after made a further grant of 200, t
“poultry and sweetmeats I”
we call charity, but what is
charity, that dictated this

dulcet vote; so very unlike that of a
modern corporain favour of a decayed brother.
tion
Similarly distinguished in the twofold sphere of rek

Page ’.798. We have changed the
neuter in Mr. Stirling’s translation into the masculine. The
Spanish would be either, but the
last clause shows that the w ords must
refer to our Lord, and not to
the cross.

NATIONAL ART.

413

Carducho, Cespedes, the
ligion and art, were Pacheco,
and if we
greatest artistic genius perhaps of Spain;
and favourite
may judge from their choice of abode
Zurbaran. But
subjects, Morales “the divine,” and
what was
our readers will be more anxious to know
of
the moral and religious character of the prince
the inscription
Spanish painters, Murillo. We think
motto of his
chosen by himself for his tomb, as the
his
life, will, better than many words, describe

principles.

It was——

“ VIVE MORITURUS.”
“ Live as one who hath to die.” “ The friend,” writes
Mr. Stirling, “ of good Miguel Manara, and the votary
Almoner,” (St. Thomas) “ of Valencia, he
the
of

holy
and
practised the charity which his pencil preached;
his funeral was hallowed by the prayers and tears of
the poor, who had partaken of his bounties. His
story justifies the hortatory motto graven on his tomb ;
he had lived as one about to die.”1 In fact, his sacred
pictures are so many evidences of his deep religious

sentiments.
We have not troubled ourselves, in this review of
Mr. Stirling’s work, with mere artistic details. For
these we must refer our readers to the book itself. It
contains inaccuracies, where religious tOpics are concerned; and, like all Protestant works on Spain, there

are to be found in it the common-places of superstition,” “priestcraft,” “idolatry,” and so forth. But
the extracts which we have given will show, that in
have
Spite of all that prejudice (too vulgar now to
been expected in a refined and warm-hearted lover of
art), he fully bears testimony to the high religious
and moral tone of Spanish artists, as of Spanish art.
1

Vol. ii.‘ p. 901.

414

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

Independently of this, Mr. Stirling has given us the
first work worthy of its subject which English litera.
ture possesses. He has not found much that was
new,
nor was it to be expected. Diligent searchers
had

types, with sublime, but understood,
subjects, with

As

it

and mind, and of
is created, so it gave
,

NATIONAL ART.



415

growth to, Spanish art. It began and it perfected.
The principles, the types, the subjects, the boundaries,
all were her prescriptions.
Now we are about to make a great experiment,
in connection with art, upon which posterity will have
to pronounce, whether it has been a grand triumph or
a most egregious failure. In the first place, we are
going to apply to art the power of huge mechanical
pressure, the grand discovery of our age. The ancient
Roman slowly carved and polished his column out of
porphyry, by steel and sand : we should blow it out of
the rock by gunpowder, and cut it like chalk with
The Greek patiently sculptured his
a steam-saw.
statues from the obstinate marble; we squeeze ours
in carton-Meme, or cast them in pottery, and nickname it Pam'cm. We cut iron bars as our forefathers
cut paper; we shape anything out of anything—out
of glass, or gutta percha, or papier-maché, or iron, or
felt, or zinc, or clay; material is nothing, if enough
pressure can be applied to it. So far it has succeeded,
and we are determined to push our principle into the
domain of art. What generations of men did it not
require to erect one great cathedral! Its upheaving
from the soil was the work of centuries; so that the
laws which directed it, became one after the other
obsolete, and each edifice stands the built-up chronicle
of national architecture, on which, from crypt to spire,
are recorded in plain hieroglyphics, the revolutions of
taste, and the developments of mechanical skill. But
now in a few years of an architect’s life, the Thames
sees its banks crowned by an edifice of the dimensions
of six or more cathedrals, one in plan, in design, in
materials, and in execution. The palace of Westminster is a phenomenon such as the world has not
seen, since the days of Roman edification. How the

416

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

old crane on the top of Cologne Cathedral would stare,
could it stretch its neck far enough, at the aerial rail.
ways that bestride the English building, project pensile
over its loftiest towers; and marvel at seeing a boy
quietly raise to the top, and deposit on its exact bed,
a mass which would have made its poor sides ache for
half an hour to get up, and much more to steer to its
destination! Thanks to our mechanical skill and
power for this.
Having :thus, as if by magic, erected the building,
we are going to try if we cannot succeed in the same
manner with pictorial art, to decorate it. Avowedly
we have no British school of painting. We have probably the first animal painter, and the best marine
painter, and some of the best landscape and portraitpainters in Europe. But even so we have no school.
Landseer and Stanfield stand alone; our portrait
painters make likenesses but not pictures. Our historical painters, though belonging to the same academy,
c0pying the same models, and living in the same city,
form nothing that approaches to a school. Let any
one remember Herbert’s House of Nazareth, and
Etty’s Joan of Arc, hanging together on the same
wall, and say What they had in common. Well—having neglected to form and train a national school
of art, we are going to try if we cannot create one.
On a sudden our usual process is to
be undertaken;
vast spaces are to be
frescoes, beyond

coveredwith

417

NATIONAL ART.

Arthur, Duke of Wellington. All this and much
more is, in a moment, to be brought into life, there,

where Europe, present and future, will be best able to
or of
judge us. Can the sudden pressure of ambition,
if not
gold, produce artistic genius, or at once ripen it,
before cultivated? Has this ever yet proved a hotbed plant, and submitted to be forced? This is our

first great experiment.
The second, to our minds, is still more serious. In
describing, a few sentences back, the range of the
subjects adapted for the decoration of the parliamentary edifice, we were obliged to omit one class—the
religious. We may truly say that this is necessarily
excluded. It is not for a moment our Opinion, that
strictly religious subjects could have been introduced
into the series. But this is our point. It is the first
time that an attempt has been made to form a great
school of art, by the State and not by the Church,
through the agency of the head without the heart,
with exclusion of the only principle which can give
unity of purpose, or of manner. In other words, no
artist (and certainly no school of artists) has ever
reached grandeur in depicting the real, who has not
deeply imbued himself with enthusiasm from the.
ideal. And where is this to be found? Greece or
Rome found it in nymphs, or Cupids, or Apollos, or
other abstract types of beauty and grace. But these
cannot now act on the imagination or affection of any,
Christian or infidel. The type to us is as cold as the
marble, or as dull as the bronze which embodies it.
The Catholic Church unveiled to art a new world of
the ideal, in two marvellous unions of what before had


and the union of sorrow with divinity. Upon these
art has fed and grown till now, wherever it has
'

3

2 e

418

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

attained true greatness; we are going to experimental.
ize, whether she can be made to do so now without them,
The separation, in mind and imagination, of perfect
beauty from all that is voluptuous and earthly, the
effort by art to represent this faultless image, this
"stainless conception, is surely the most refining pro“cess through which the mind can pass, in its preparation for giving life to all that is tender, gentle, fair,
and sweet. It is the milk wherewith infant art should
first be nourished; it should be the youthful artist’s
dream, as it was Raffaele’s when he painted the Madonna of San Sisto. And in her alone, whom he thus
portrayed, has this graceful and sublime abstraction
of beauty been fulfilled. If this study is necessary
for the tender, the other is no less so for the heroic.
The perfection of the heroic is innocent suffering.
'Yet sorrow, bodily pain, and the outward marks of
insult, are of themselves but poor subjects for art.
They are opposed to the natural estimate of the sublime; they are mean in the hands, and in the eyes, of
unchristian art. No man could ennoble them. Among
the works of the ancients, is there one in which even
the effort is made to give dignity—not to
deep tragic
grief, but to abjection, poverty, or the sufferings of a
criminal? The so-called dying gladiator, with the
form of a hero, an attitude of consummate skill, and
one single wound, comes nearest to the
attempt; and
'

statue to represent a warrior, and not a
prize-fighter. Now on the
other hand, let us consider what the
Christian artist is
taught to do. First, he has to imagine wretchedness

419

NATIONAL ART.

may befal man, poverty, scorn, universal dereliction, calumny; mental anguish, agony, a crushed
soul, and a wrung heart; bruises, buffets, wounds, the
halter round the neck, the thorns round the brow, the
scourge upon the back, and the cross on the shoulder;
all these in one person combined; and then he has to
depict him, not dignified, not of noble bearing, not
raised in mind, by haughty abstraction, over his woes,
but looking out from the midst of them upon you so
sweet, so solemn, so tender, and so benign, that you
weep, and love, and burn, in looking upon Him. The
painter must have come up to the conception of the
truth, but to his mind the ideal of the sublime in suffering: the extreme of griefs borne as none but God
could bear them. Morales has done this, and has

been therefore called the divine.”m
If the study of the Madonna is the most perfect
initiation into the tender, that of Our Lord is the
surest instruction in the sublime, in art. But where
these are not subjects of thought and of frequent
representation, neither can they be modes of training,
or exercises of the powers. It is not the study of
such subjects in the works of other artists, it is not
the abstract belief in such themes, it is not even the
mere artistic or romantic enthusiasm respecting them,
that will give inspiration; it is only the firm and
devout conviction of the reality of our types, produced by their being familiar objects of daily thought,
or rather meditation, that will gradually purify the
image of all that is terrestrial, and make it the die
which impresses our work with its own faithful likeas deep as

” In the

Church of the Capuchins at Bruges will be found an
exquisite Morales, given to it by Mr. Steinmetz, of that city, under
such conditions as prevents its ever being sold or removed. Mr.
Stirling does not" mention this picture.

262

420

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

Where devotion is precluded and unknown,
towards the two most perfect models of artistic beauty
and grandeur, there cannot ever be a school of Chris.
tian art. And as there never yet has been a great
historical school formed save by this, we repeat, an
experiment of a novel character is about to be made,
the erection of a national school without the aid of
religion.
But there is another difficulty in the way of arriving
at anything complete in this new effort to develop art.
History in every age comes in contact with religion;
and many of the noblest scenes in our annals, as in
those of every Christian country, must present many
religious and ecclesiastical elements. Yet the traditions which connect the present generation with them
neSS.

ruthlessly consigned to the regions of the legendary
and the superstitious. Is this feeling to be persisted
in, or is it to be reversed? Let uS see the consequences of the former alternative, by two or three

examples.
Let us imagine that a great national
building in
France had to be decorated by the combined
genius
and Skill of its great painters; and that the
general
scheme was to comprise all that was
great and noble
in the annals of the country, in men and in events.
Could we imagine it possible
that St. Louis of France

justice or favour to every petitioner, or as the
soldier
of Christ, taking the cross with his
nobles (a splendid
or dying of the plague resigned
scene),
and patlent—
kingly and saintly in an Ignoble death? Now the

NATIONAL ART.

421

of his
place which St. Louis held in the estimation
countrymen, St. Edward the Confessor held in that
of ours. The laws of good King Edward were the
standard of our forefathers’ ideas of legislation. His
reign was in fact the dawn of peaceful rule. In it
was performed the most important and diffith of all
social operations, the complete absorption of one race

into another, like that of the Lombards into the
Italian, or the Visigoths into the Spanish. The
Danes, after forty years of intolerable tyranny, gradually, under hismild sway, melted into the pOpulation,
and disappeared from the eye of the law. But independent of the importance of his reign in a political
point of View, the personal character and incidents of
this prince afford a merited, and a most hOpeful theme
for pictorial art. His wonderful escapes in infancy
and in youth from the fate of his murdered brother,
his mild and wise legislation, the death of Godwin,
his death, with the miraculous token that forewarned
him, are all admirable passages for the pencil. But
there are two which we should still more like. If, as
we hOpe, this national palace is to be accessible to the
lessons of
peOple, and its walls are to teach them
virtue united with greatness, would not a salutary one
be given to noble and to simple, by the picture of
own
good St. Edward distributing his alms, with his
hands, among the poor? Or would the lesson be too
stern for the one, and too suggestive of regret for the
past in the other? Again, they who have seen in the
old frescoes of Italy what a beautiful and solemn scene
is the enshrining, or bearing to the tomb of one whom
all men have loved in life, and revere, as a saint, after
death, will easily understand what a splendid and instructive painting the burial, or later enshrining of
St. Edward would make. But really we feel quite

422

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

ashamed of ourselves, in the face of foreign nations
and of posterity, to see this great and holy king totally

omitted in the Walhalla of English royalty; while
Queen Boadicea, about whose very reality no one cares
a rush, and Raleigh throwing his cloak for Elizabeth
to walk on, and the murder of Rizzio, are to figure in
the Royal Gallery or the Royal Antechamber.
But connected intimately with this saintly monarch
is another important consideration. Here we are
building or rebuilding and decorating—what? why
his own very palace or abbey. That noble minster to
which this edifice will and can be only an adjunct, as
its very name testifies, was his foundation, originally
built, endowed, and named by himself. Within a few
yards of the palace stands his tomb, desecrated without, inviolate within, stripped of its gold and pearls,
but rich with his holy remains ; by it stands his chair,
on which every monarch of this realm has been careful
to be crowned, as though anxious to inherit his spirit
with his throne; surely as a matter of history and of
justice the very founder of the place deserves commemoration. The account of the event furnishes a
series of beautiful subjects, illustrative of the manners
and feelings of the time. 1. The
king announces to
his council his intention of
fulfilling his vow, made
when in distress, to go on
pilgrimage to St. Peter’s
shrine at Rome. The assembled prelates and nobles

g consequently repairs to
the small abbey of Thorney, ruined
by the Danes, and
on its site erects the church which
received the name
of Westminster. If no other
subject is admitted,

NATIONAL ART.

423

up into
surely the commencement of what is growing
in the world,
one of the grandest groups of buildings
ought to be commemorated in it.
imBut this brings before our minds another very
scheme of decoration.
portant omission in the proposed
of the rise
There is not one single picture illustrative
or of
or progress of the very arts here employed,
such
literature of any sort. And indeed how could
sense
be introduced, without shocking every English
the specof propriety ‘P For you must throw open to
show
tator the interior of monastic life. You must
the aged monk in a nook of his abbey-library engaged



novices, in the
and intelligent designer stands with his
midst of shrines and reliquaries, and pyxes of quaint
forms and precious materials ; here one is busy engrathe
is
ving the pure gold chalice, there another fitting
alternate jewels and glowing enamels in the costly
tomb and
reliquary; while the heavier metal work of
altar-screen lies scattered about. In another place

conducting the

you will see the religious artificers
whole manufactory of their glorious glass pictures

from the furnace to the window, colouring, drawing,
and tinting, with pencils that might have been dipped
in the rainbow, figures to which heaven’s sun was to
be seen,
give life and glory. Again, the carver should
of
artfully extracting from the gnarled oak features
to
graceful sweetness, and forcing the rocky stone yield
the image of compassionate sorrow to stand beneath
the reed. In fact, to build these very houses of parliament, every old church has been ransacked for
from
models, and thousands of casts have been taken
or a
the works of monastic hands; and not a throne

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

4:24:

gate, scarcely even a lock or a door handle, has been
admitted, which has not been c0pied from the metal
work of those ages, preserved in collections.
Now surely it would be graceful, if not even just, to
make due acknowledgment to those to whose ingenuity
we owe the first introduction of every fine art, and to
whose industry we are indebted for the abundant
monuments of labour and skill by which we are now
enabled to perpetuate it. But here the difficulty
meets us: must this be done at the expense of three
centuries of false teaching of the peOple, concerning

the

“ dark ages

of monkish ignorance,” and must we
Open to the public gaze, fervid with toil and ingenious
production as the beehive, those religious retreats,
which they have been taught to consider as only
the receptacles of lazy drones, who were well smoked
out, if not occasionally burnt, with the faggot of
Harry’s orthodoxy? We fear that this consideration,
this very shame of having told lies so long, will deter
the nation from admitting the history of art into the
very palace consecrated to its deve10pment. For our

Europe, she is compelled, for ensuring perfection to
the work, to borrow every detail, as well as
every
feature and proportion, from those calumniated
ages;
so that no spire, nor
tracery, nor buttress, nor niche,
nor canOpy, nor crocket, nor jamb, nor
panel, nor
boss, nor bit of metal-work, has been
admitted, which
could not be justified by monastic, or
ecclesiastical,
models of Catholic times.
What we have said of the decorative arts,
may be
said of every other branch. How
will you represent

NATIONAL ART.

425

the rise of architecture (our Baulmnst rather) better
than as Overbeck has done, in his magnificent composition of the arts rising under the auspices of religion?
He has introduced the architect of St. Stephen’s at
Vienna, explaining his plans to his pupils; and how
could the same be represented in England, except by
some one like St. Edward at Westminster, or St.Wil—
frid at Ripon, or William of Wickham at Winchester,
planning or watching the erection of our ancient
cathedrals, either in their rude germs, or in their
rise
grander expansion? How could you show the
of national music but as the same great artist has
done it, or as was done in a picture now in the Royal
Academy, only that instead of St. Gregory, we should
have St. Osmund, instructing his choristers in his

mental science be exhibited, but by a peep into the
laboratory of Friar Bacon? How the rise of agriculture better than by the monks of Crowland draining
the morass, and changing it into a paradise? How,
in fine, the rise of our great cities more picturesquely
than by the good Fathers of Lindisfarne, with their
treasure of St. Cuthbert’s body, settling on the sedgy
banks now crowned by Durham’s awful minster?
But in fact on every side, in whatever relates to the
social, moral, or literary history of England, we are
met by the bugbear of religious prejudices, and by
the real difficulties of religious art; by subjects for
which there is no preparation in the artist’s training;
no store of images or recollections in his mind, no
affection or veneration in his heart. They must therefore be set aside.
We are naturally led, by the consideration of this
already
subject, to say a few words on the work
executed in the new Houses of Parliament; because

4:26

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

it partly affords a test of

the truth of our allegations.
The central picture in the House of Lords represents
a religious subject, the “ Baptism 0f Ethelbert,” and
has a counterpart opposite in “ The Spirit of Reli.
gion.” These pictures, especially the first, have
received high commendation; and it must be observed, that every design having passed the ordeal of
a Royal Commission, composed of noble patrons, and
acknowledged admirers, of art, they must be considered as sanctioned by authority, and evidences to
the world of the public taste in this country. We are
not now looking at our subject with a technical eye;
we do not speak of the drawing, or the colouring, or
the execution as fresco, of the work; Mr. Dyce will
meet with far better judges than ourselves in these
artistic matters. We deal with the case as one of
higher interest. Has the baptism of Ethelbert succeeded as a great work of historico-religious art? In
Spite of the many excellences of the work, we must
answer negatively.
It does not come up to the
grandeur of the subject. The artist was cramped, for
he could have done it more justice: but he had the fear
of a commission before his eyes. We will not find fault
with secondary points—as the king being in an attitude and in an attire which reminds one forcibly of
the ancient representations of Henry II., undergoing
his penance at St. Thomas’s shrine: and
yet having
on his head his kingly crown, the
only part of his
royal array that must have been indispensably laid
aside, for baptism to be administered, as
is represented, by afi‘usion ; or as the pontiff, on
the other
hand, being without his mitre, in an act in
which it
is expressly prescribed. Catholic
eyes seize on such
and perhaps posterity may again look
defects easily,
at pamtmgs with Catholic eyes. But
what we really

NATIONAL ART.





427

The Spirit of Relimiss throughout the picture, is
with the comgion,” such as should have dispensed
The day of allegorical
position opposite altogether.
surfeited of them
paintings is gone by; the world was
of Louis the
by the scicentisti and the puerih'ties

and
Fourteenth’s artists. They belong to Versailles
rococo, not to the palace of Westminster and Gothic
compartments. Never was there a more splendid

reality embodying The Spirit of Religion,” than the
historical baptism of Ethelbert. There is Religion,
sea and Alp, and
come several thousand miles over
through many unsettled regions, to bring to an almost
truths,
unknown race, the knowledge of her sublime
not
and various learning, and with these the blessing,
of civilization, but of debarbarization, the arts of more
the
advanced nations, the virtues of social life, and
And
beauties of peaceful sway and loving subjection.
this Religion comes, the first unarmed invader of the
meek,
English shore, yet a bannered host. A band of
and black-robed recluses from the ruins of the Coelian
hill, have undertaken the conquest, and have marched
into Kent, bearing before them, as Venerable Bede
informs us, the image of our Redeemer, and His
of
saving Cross. But chiefly she comes in the person
their leader, the bishop of the picture, on whose figure
and countenance should be impressed the training of
the
long years of austerity, the noble bearing of
Roman citizen, and the beaming enthusiasm inspired
mission,
by the consciousness of the sublimity of his
and of his present act. While Religion thus presents
herself in the likeness of her highest minister, she
comes not unattended by the symbols of her gifts and
her authority. From St. Gregory’s Epistles we learn
how careful he was to furnish his missionaries with
all the requisites for the splendid performance of every

.

,

428

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

religious function; and no doubt on occasion of the
first, and a royal, baptism in England, nothing would
be wanting to give it solemnity and even magnificence.
We have therefore, on the one side, all the barbaric
pomp of the Saxon Bretwalda brought forth, to
honour a state festival; then the rugged features, the
stalwart frames, the gold and steel armour of the
Saxon thanes; men who never before experienced awe
or deep reverence, now at last subdued in mind and
attitude, expressing wonder at the mystic rite, amazement at their sovereign’s submission, a half super.
stitious veneration of the mysterious strangers who so
calmly exercise their power, and a subdued curiosity
about the rich and novel appurtenances of the new
worship. And on the other side, we have the might
of Religion displayed in its gentle majesty, subduing
yet winning, humbling the pride of race and of rude
strength, and the boast of warlike glory, but enriching

.

terious rite perfornhed, the king is put in
possession
of fellowship with the Christian monarchs of
Europe,
baptism is the gate at once into the Church and into
civilization. And all that, by contrast, indicates the
superior culture, and the higher refinement of the
Roman churchmen, and the
messengers of the Supreme
Pontiff, should surround them ° that
array of ministers
which always accom.
.
panled a bish0p in so great a function,
ought to have
been present. Again we
repeat, that in the whole
range of our history, there is not a
scene which,
painted, could more perfectly have exhibited “The
Spirit of Religion ” than this which
soars over the

NATIONAL ART.

429

royal throne in the House of Lords. But Mr. Dyce
has chosen, or has been compelled, only to record with
his pencil, the simple fact, that King Ethelbert was


Turning now to what is intended to represent The
Spirit of Religion,” we must be content to say that we
do not understand it accurately. A bishop seems to
be instructing a monarch in the Bible. The prelate is
certainly of the earth earthly, a solid mundane frame
in an inaccurate COpe; very different from the sweet
and noble, bearded saints that we see in our good old
masters. Although the commissioners, in giving the
subjects for painting, do not explain what they mean

by “The Spirit of Religion,” or of Chivalry,” we
cannot be wrong in thereby understanding “the principle or power existing in these influences, which,
when animating the breast of man, can make him
perform heroic and almost superhuman things for

their sake.” Thus “ The Spirit of Chivalry would
nerve the true knight to encounter any risk or danger,
and rush upon an entire host of foes, to rescue an
oppressed or captive damsel; or to face Mahound and
Termagaunt themselves, in obedience to her chaste
command, if free; or would impel him to take the

baptized.

cross, and endure famine, and plague, and war,

in

paynim land, to rescue the sepulchre of his Lord.
And thus, “ The Spirit of Religion” is that still sublimer inspiration which, for the sake of higher rewards,
will make a man brave danger or suffering, or despise
greatness and wealth, and urge him on to marvellous
deeds. It is the Spirit of the martyr, and no less of
the humble friar, who alone lands on the coast of
Africa to redeem, or free by exchange, his fellow
Christian slaves; it is the principle which has made
the monarch resign his crown for God’s sake. In

430

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

Mr. Horsley’s picture, the king’s crown is not on his
head: is it to signify that he has so laid it down?
If so, let us be allowed to say, that the symbolism of
the power required to effect this is wanting. Never

yet has Bible-text, or Bible-comment, acted thus upon
the mind and feelings of a royal scholar. No crown
was ever yet laid down at the foot of the Bible. If
the power of Religion to work this wonder had to be
expressed, there is a symbol that would have shown at
once to the eye, the motive, the power, and the effect.
The bishOp should hold in his hand, not a book, but a
crucifix.
The want of a religious school of art, or rather of a
school with religious traditions in concert with the
great themes on which it has to be exercised, is thus
.clearly seen in What has already been done. We may

perhaps be glad, in some respects, that such subjects
as we have before touched upon should have been
omitted, because we could hardly hope that the great
body of English artists would give their souls to the
execution of them, with the feeling they would require.
Hence, the commissioners have been justly cautious
not to trench upon the doubtful ground of the Reformation, or other religious crises: and the only pictures
which can be called strictly religious (except the
scriptural ones in the peers’ robing-room) are “ The
Conversion of the Anglo-Saxons by St. Augustine’s
preaching,” and “ The Reformation,” symbolized by
Queen Elizabeth receiving the Bible in Cheapside.”
And if by this latter picture it is meant to convey the
impression, that till this event occurred, the Bible was



not known in England in the vernacular tongue, it
will tell a simple untruth; a thing to be avoided in
painting as much as in words.
We have sufficiently expressed Our fear respecting

431

NATIONAL ART.

be tried, of
the success of the experiment about to
suddenly creating a national school of high art, without
further
the aid of the religious element. But we must
the arrangements
express our regret that some of
still further
made by the commissioners are only likely
and
to hamper art, and what is worse, to restrain
limit the great moral results, which might be anticiWe
pated from so extensive a pictorial undertaking.
will venture to make some remarks upon this subject.
We assume that the greater part of the paintings
will be accessible to the public. The great galleries,
and corridors, and waiting rooms must be decidedly
clerk,
so. We do not suppose that an attorney’s
carrying a bag for Scotch appeals, or a barrister
hastening to argue a peerage case before a committee
of privilege, will loiter to look at the pictures; but
too, will
we hope that the peOple, women and children
a
be admitted as they are to the Museum, to enjoy
none are to
sight of so glorious a national work.
look at it but peers and commons, we certainly grudge
its expense. Now, one of the first rules in painting
for the public on a great scale is, that all should be
the case in
simple and intelligible. This should be
regard to order and choice of subjects, to composition
and to details. The great axiom should never be
forgotten, that pictures are the books of the ignorant.
Yet, let any one examine the subjects chosen for the
various passages and corridors, and see what amount
of information or moral impression will be communicated to the beholders by the paintings on their walls.
It will not be like the rudely storied bridges of Lucerne, where the peasant can read the history of every
remarkable event in his country’s history in successive
pictures, nor like the more finished portico at Munich
similarly decorated; but» it will be so many broken

If

432

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

of historical matters, not one complete, and each
returning back over the same period, so that no unity
of plan or object can be discernible. For instance,
St. Stephen’s Hall has to illustrate “ some of the
greatest epochs in our constitutional, social, and eccle.
siastical history, from the time when the Anglo-Saxon
nation embraced Christianity, to the accession of the
house of Stuart.” (7th Report, p. 10.) The ecclesiastical epochs are the two just mentioned. The others
contain some fine subjects, but some that will afford
little SCOpe for intelligible impression. For example,
“ A Sitting of the Wittena—gemot” can present little
that is real; nor will it be easy to impress any distinct
character on “ An Early Trial by Jury.” Then, afterwards, the central corridor takes us back to “ The
Phoenicians in Cornwall,” and “ A Druidical Sacrifice,” and “ The English Captives in the Slave Market
at Rome.” These are chosen by way of contrast with
some very modern subjects, “ Cook in Otaheite,” a
sets

~

“ Suttee

tion.”

Sacrifice StOpped,” and

“Negro Emancipa-

But the very key to the selection is too
ingenious to be easily grasped by a common Spectator,
and it will require a Felix Summerly to write a handbook of the paintings in Westminster palace, and a
man at the gate to sell it, for the
understanding of
what- a brief inscription and a date
ought to make
intelligible to every Englishman.1n
But the taste for contrasts seems to us to have beAgain, we must go back to “ the Norman Porch ” for “ Canute”
‘1

reproving his Courtiers,” a pendant for “Elizabeth at the Sea-side,
after the Defeat of the Armada.” Now both
these, especially the
first, are necessarily low pictures. The sea will
not admit of a. high
back-ground, nor of trees to fill up the upper
Space. Canute must
even be seated, and so lower the line of
figures. Yet to this subject
has been allotted a space 18 feet 2
inches high, by 10 feet 10 inches
wide!

433

NATIONAL ART.

into a decided immorality.
trayed the Commissioners
contain six“
The Peers’ and Commons’ corridors”
and the subject for
teen compartments for paintings,
humble
this noble and important Space seems, to our
The whole is to be dejudgment, strangely chosen.
of the
voted to the unhappy and inauspicious reigns
Stuarts, commencing with the Long Parliament, and
ending with 1689. But the selection of the particular
more difficult
subjects is made upon a principle still
“ will
is expressed in these words :
to approve.
on the
be seen that the subjects have been selected
has been
principle of parallelism, and that an attempt
made to do justice to the heroic virtues which were
displayed on both sides.” (P. 10.) When the Commissioners on the Fine Arts received their appointment, they accepted the office of public instructors,
by all that they should bring to act upon the public
mind. In every great struggle for mastery there will
be heroic deeds on both sides, and individual acts of a
generous nature ; but surely on the one side these will
be, at best, the fruit of a mistaken conscience acting
honestly in a bad cause; often they will be the result
of personal generosity or better impulses, which only
lend a false lustre to that cause. But after all, there
is a right and a wrong side in the contest; and they
should be boldly discriminated. Men should be taught
that no amount of heroism, or of individual excellence,
can sanction a cause which is wrong in principle, and
Now, let us imagine a.
so vitiated in its very root.
Chartist taking his son to the Peers’ corridor, to indoctrinate him in the “ heroic virtues” of those who
expelled “ the fellows of a college in Oxford,” and
beheaded Charles I.° He may tell him that the Com-

It

It

His burial is the subject given, but this of course intimates his

0

violent death.
3

2f

434

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

missioners of the crown, so far from wishing to
condemn the rebels, as they have been called, and give
any preference to their cavalier opponents, have expressly aimed in those grand corridors, to put them on
a footing of perfect equality, and do justice to the
heroic virtues of both. This, surely, is not a principle
to be thus publicly avowed.
We have said that genius must be hampered by the
plan pursued, because little or no scope is given for
the greater faculties of invention and arrangement.
There Should doubtless be a controlling power; but
much more ought to be left to the artist than is now
done. Mr. Dyce, by some signal good fortune, is the
only one who has had fair play. The queen’s robingroom is to be decorated with the history of Arthur
and his knights, and the entire management is in his
hands, of principals and accessories. This gives a
good artist a fair chance. He can select such subjects
as will harmonize and yet contrast, and make an
epic
of his work. This tocador de la Reynap will be the
only apartment in which unity of idea will prevail. But
how much' better would it be, if this principle were
further extended. In one small room are to be
crowded our eight principal poets : how can justice bedone to them, by one picture for each? In the Villa
Massino at Rome, three German painters were engaged by the late prince, to illustrate
by their pencils
the three great poets of Italy. Overbeck, Cornelius,
and Veith were the artists; but to each
was entrusted
a separate room, and Dante,
Tasso, and Ariosto have
Space enough, 63011 to diSplay his various charms.
The selection and combination of the
subjects exhibits each artist’s genius even more than his
execution. Shakspeare cannot be represented
by any
P

The name of a delicate boudoz'r in the Alhambra.

435

NATIONAL ART.

His
one picture.
require a series of

versatility, and immense scOpe,
paintings to do him justice. He
has indeed fallen into good hands; and we are much
mistaken if the public does not regret, on seeing Mr.
Herbert’s Lear, that he was not allowed room enough
to display the poet in more than one mood. The
artist has not only chosen a grand subject, but he has
treated it with a solemnity, a sternness, which almost
elevates it to a sacred character. His picture adheres
to the wall, as fresco should, not merely by the firmness of the intonaco, and the tenacity of the colours,
but by its accurate fitting to the space, to its light,
to its lines, and to its materials. It is a part of the
building : not an easel painting transferred to the wall.
In like manner we would much rather give oneartist
a room or a gallery to himself, and let him plan the
paintings that are to adorn it, than follow the present
method of crowding several into one room, and producing a patchy and ill-harmonized collection, rather
than series, of pictures.‘1
There is one other point to which we wish to draw
attention, and we will conclude. It is to. the distribution of subjects with consideration of their age.
We cannot but think that the eye will look for some
proportion between the architecture and the style of
art. It is true that we shall never be able to disguise the fact, that we are in an edifice raised in the

will have pictures beginning with Queen Boadicea,
written, Mr. Herbert has had allotted to
him a grand work; a large ball to be painted with scriptural subjects, in which his genius will have fair play, and will, no doubt:
brilliantly display itself]
‘1

[Since the above was

2 F 2

436

SPANISH AND ENGLISH

and ending with the Death of Nelson, and the Meeting
of Wellington and Blucher at Waterloo. There will
also be the Death of Wolfe, and Lord Cornwallis
receiving the Sons of Tippoo. The gallery itself is
to be dedicated “to the military history and glory”
of Great Britain.
we must needs show forth the
glory of our country in the field, by scenes of bloody
encounter, why not commemorate Cressy, and Agincourt, and Poitiers, where the mailed warriors and
unerring bowmen of old England would agree much
better with the rich Gothic decorations of the apartment? The introduction of files of red-coated guards
ch arging with bayonets, or uncoated tars working their
guns, would be utterly unsuited to the place. Some
of the subjects too have been so vulgarized, by mean
representations for years, that they could hardly be
brought up again to the heroic standard. But the
committee-rooms may be considered as the modern
every-day rooms of the building. They are plain
square apartments, wit-h immense wall-spaces; with
no more than simple decoration; while their furniture,
occupants, and purposes, belong to the life of the age.
Here modern subjects might be introduced in perfect
keeping, and with great effect. There would be room,
if one pleases, for the whole Peninsular war, and, what
would be still more appropriate, for the commemoration of great legislative measures, which are generally the result of the patient labour of the committeeroom. But the Royal Gallery we would have filled
with the choicest deeds of true greatness in the annals
of our country, in those ages which preceded the

If

architectural age of the building. We would have
that apartment, beyond others, to be the gallery of
British virtue, whether shown forth in feats of chivalry.
or in generous acts of virtue, whether
foreign or do-

NATIONAL ART.

437

Several such have been chosen, as the actions
Alfred, Bruce, and Philippa. But what has the
of
such a place, or the marriage
buccaneer Blake to do in
times,
Henry V. P Then, when we get nearer our
of

mestic.

of battles fought amidst
we have nothing but a series
in no less villanous
clouds of villanous saltpetre,”
rivet the attention of
costumes. These will no doubt



be the instructive
the passer-by: but they will not
A grand episode in a
lessons of an age of peace.
but the din of
battle may be made a moral lecture;
the gashing and
war itself, the strife, and the agony,
not good to be
the blood-pouring of the field, are
nation, which hails a victory not as
paraded before a
of peace. Again
an arch of triumph, but as the gate
and indeed
we most fervently trust, that this gallery,

of England
only to the truly good. Let the history
beholder.
be read on its walls, even by the unlettered

him nothing but what you would inspire him to
imitate, or what at least you would not be sorry to
be
hear him praise. Let the arrangement of subjects
more simple and more intelligible. In rooms partithe
cular ideas or points may be illustrated, but
corridors, and waiting-rooms, and lobbies, must be
for the peOple, and brought to their level. If we are
making a new experiment in art, we are also making
to
one in its effects. For the first time we are going
instruct by pictures. Let not the chance be lost, by
over ingenuity, or complex efforts. A chronological
most
arrangement will give every variety, and be
intelligible.
We know how difficult it is, in England, to obtain
of name or of position
ahearing, unless some privilege
nation
glves one a title to it. We have no doubt the
Show

4.38

SPANISH AND ENGLISH NATIONAL ART.

considers the whole matter of the edifice as one belonging to “the Woods and Forests,” just as building
a new seventy-four does to the Admiralty; and it
does not see why it should trouble itself about the
painting of the one, any more than about the decoration of the state-cabin of the other.
is somebody’s
place to look after each, and John Bull’s yearly to
grumble at the estimates for both. Each may be a
failure in the end—the one may lag miles behind its
experimental squadron, and have to be cut down; the
other may be pronounced by foreigners and good
judges an abortive effort in regard to art. However,
they have been duly paid for, and there is an end of
the matter. We trust, however, that the apathy
which has been shown till now on the subject of the
national palace, as the great field and monument of

It

national art, will not continue. We sincerely hope
that men of intelligence and of public standing will
take the matter up, and that artists in particular will
give their views Openly and boldly. For we are sure
that the Royal Commission is formed of men too highminded to be unfavourably biassed in their award of
the commissions still at their disposal, by any candid
and Open remonstrances or appeals. Their
reputation
individually, as well as the glory of national art, is at
stake: and mistakes, in great works like these, are
irreparable. Such an opportunity as the present will
not return. If it does, it must, and
only can, be .by
some grand Catholic
undertaking.

_