« PreviousContinue »
In 1634 Velazquez married his daughter Francisca to Juan Baptista del Mazo, a painter, probably already working in the studio. From this date begin the critical difficulties which beset so many of the pictures. Mazo developed a great power of assimilating his father-in-law's style, and Palomino tells us that in his day it was almost impossible to distinguish Mazo's copies of Velazquez from the originals. Mazo's reputation as an original portrait painter must also have been considerable, since he is said to have painted one of the earliest portraits of Queen Mariana, probably during the absence of Velazquez in Italy in 1649. Mazo was certainly employed to paint or copy royal portraits for presentation to foreign courts; the ‘Balthazar Carlos,' at Buckingham Palace, which was sent to England in 1639, is a good example of this. He was also probably employed to work up studies by Velazquez into pictures; thus in the two examples of the 'Riding Lesson’in the Wallace collection and at Grosvenor House the boy and his pony are asserted by Sir W. Armstrong to be absolutely identical in size and form, and to be rendered with exactly the same touches-a proof that they are mechanically reproduced copies. In these, as in other instances, there may have been collaboration on the same canvas; in the view of Zaragoza, for example, some critics think that the foreground figures are by Velazquez. The interesting picture at the Vienna Gallery called the 'Family of Velazquez,' which was painted in or about 1655, seems to us strikingly to exhibit both the skill and the limitations of Mazo in his imitation of Velazquez. The figure of the painter at his easel might almost pass for a back view of the figure in the 'Meninas,' but the inartistic grouping and the exaggerated perspective would have been impossible to Velazquez. It may be doubted, however, whether criticism will ever succeed in entirely disentangling the work of the two men ; at present, at any rate, differences of opinion are very strongly marked. Thus, if we compare the judgements of Sir Walter Armstrong and Señor de Beruete on a few well-known pictures in England, we find that the original portrait of Juan de Pareja is Lord Carlisle's picture (A), Lord Radnor's (B); at the National Gallery the full-length Philip' and the Boar Hunt' are by Mazo (A), by Velazquez (B); the portrait of Pulido Pareja is genuine (*), very doubtful (B); the Orlando Muerto ' is probably a real Velazquez of the early period (A), probably not of the Spanish school (B). Equally great discrepancies at present exist, it may be noted, about the dates of some of the
every strongly, her Armstrong anand, we find authentic koo sever it by twen Englandt artha, proball to increas thirteen House oft
admittedly genuine pictures : thus the ‘Pablillos of Valla.dolid' is placed by Armstrong in the first period, by Beruete in the second, and by Stevenson in the third.
It has been said that our English collections are particularly strong in examples of Mazo, and it must be admitted that of the hundred or more pictures in England which bear the name of Velazquez but a very small proportion can be regarded as genuine. Beruete restricts the total number of authentic pictures now in existence to eighty-three. This is probably too severe an estimate; it would hardly be too liberal to increase it by twenty. Yet out of his small list Beruete assigns thirteen to England-five at the National Gallery (Christ at the House of Martha, Christ at the • Column,' the Boar Hunt,' and the two ‘Philips ),* three at Apsley House (the · Waterseller,' the 'Two Boys,' and the Portrait of a Man'), Sir F. Cook's Old Woman and Omelette,' the ‘Olivares' at Dorchester House, Lord Carlisle's
Balthazar Carlos,' Lord Radnor's 'Juan de Pareja,' and Mr. Morritt's · Venus. Not every one will be satisfied with the omission of the ‘Pulido Pareja,' the ‘Lady with a Fan,' and one or two others which might be mentioned. Yet even so the English collection comes next in importance to the fifty or so undoubtedly genuine examples at the Prado, though it must always be remembered that the difference is not to be measured by mere numbers : the superiority of the Prado collection is far greater in point of quality than of quantity.
We may probably put the existing works of Velazquez as roughly amounting to 100. Adding to these some twenty other pictures specified in the inventories of the royal palaces, most of which probably perished in the fire of 1734, and making allowance for other lost works mentioned by Palomino, Ponz, and Ceán Bermudez (Bermudez enumerates only fifty-two pictures altogether), and for others again not mentioned by any Spanish authority, we are probably within the mark in taking 150 as the total number of pictures produced by Velazquez during forty years of work. The total seems small, but we must remember how much his time was occupied by attendance on the King and by his superintendence of the royal collections and the palace decorations.
* The ‘Betrotbal’ at the National Gallery, assigned by Stevenson to the late middle style, is pronounced by Beruete to be later than Velazquez, perbaps an imitation of Velazquez by Luca Giordano, whose portrait may be recognised in the right-hand lower corner. The 'Adoration of the Shepherds,' though regarded as a genuine Velazquez by Armstrong, is now catalogued as by Zurbaran.
The wonder is that he found time to paint at all after his appointment as Palace Marshal. Will any of the lost pictures, some of which were doubtless stolen, be discovered in the future, like the Christ at the Column'? We fear that the likelihood of this is decreasing every year.
Though the labours of Cruzada Villaamil and others have thrown much light in recent years on the circumstances of Velazquez's life, we know but little of the man. His letters to Rubens and others have disappeared. There is no journal intime. Can we get a glimpse of his character by studying his portraits of himself? The disputed portrait in the • Surrender of Breda' and the head in the Museum of Valencia (a repetition of which is in Sir F. Cook's possession) are comparatively unimportant from this point of view; but great interest attaches to a picture in the Capitol Museum at Rome, if we believe, as critics on the whole are inclined to believe, that it is a likeness of Velazquez painted by himself. It cannot be the portrait of himself which Pacheco tells us he painted at Rome in 1630 ' after the manner of Titian:' it is painted with too much freedom and atmosphere for so early a date; but it might well be dated about 1635, and this would suit the apparent age of the face. A comparison with the one undeniable portrait of himself in the Meninas' some twenty years later shows a strong resemblance in the lines of the face, in the directness and intensity of the gaze, and in the slight inclination of the head towards the left shoulder, though the face in the later picture is fuller and the hair (perhaps a wig) looks different. The portrait at the Capitol, which is rather less than life-size, has an extraordinarily attractive expression, in which we seem to see the modesty which Rubens noticed in 1628, the kindly nature which prompted Velazquez to do so many good offices to brother artists—to Murillo, Zurbaran, Alonzo Cano, and Carreñor-and the loyalty which led him to stand by the fallen Olivares. The picture gives us the idea of a simple, serene, straightforward nature, as free from vanity and affectation as from envy and suspiciousness. The somewhat dreamy gaze—not so apparent in the Meninas' portraitindicates a touch of imaginative insight which perhaps disappeared in later life. Above all the air of refinement and gracefulness not merely explains his success at the Court and the pleasure which Philip took in his society, but is the outward embodiment of that delicate, unerring taste which was one of his strongest characteristics. These considera tions, though not sufficient in themselves to prove the
á Velazurillo, ich led
The pale naturespicious ? Meninas perhap
point, may yet serve to confirm our belief that we probably have in the Capitol picture an authentic and profoundly interesting portrait of Velazquez by himself. Is it altogether fanciful to suppose that we also get a glimpse of his character at the close of his life in his picture of the Hermits at the Prado, which was painted at the end of 1659, and was probably his latest work? The incidents of St. Antony's visit to St. Paul are treated in a charmingly quaint and simple manner, which recalls the early Italian schools. The peep of mountain and valley is one of the most delicate bits of blue in the whole range of Velazquez landscape, a mere tinge of colour lightly blown over distance and sky. It is pleasant to think that after long years spent in the service of a corrupt, frivolous, and profligate court the last message of Velazquez to the world should be something so pure and fresh as this—the beauty of mountain and valley, the charm of solitude, the loveliness of the loneliness of these lives devoted to prayer and pious meditation.
pere Blue in thar lightly bieter long
ART. VII.-1. The Mantle of Elijah. By I. ZANGWILL.
London : William Heinemann, 1900. 2. Senator North. By GERTRUDE ATHERTON. London :
John Lane, 1900. 3. Quisanté. By ANTHONY HOPE. London: Methuen &
Co., 1900. W hy, in the vast multitude of novels, are there so few
" that deal with political life? The true aim of the novelist, as of the dramatist, is the developement of character in the pursuit of an end ; but the novelist has this advantage--that he can elaborate his setting, elucidate the influences among which his characters move, by detailed description, by comment and analysis, even, if necessary, by historic dissertation. Now it should seem that the political career offers to the novelist the worthiest end and the most picturesque and interesting environment. The ruler's ambition has always passed for the highest, and there is certainly no province of life in which the collision of wills, the action of individual mind upon mind, of temperament upon temperament, and that more subtle action of a moral atmosphere generated by an organised association upon the individual who enters the association, can be observed and depicted so well as in the domain of politics. Nor is there any sphere where the sex interest can more readily be blended with the other springs of action; nowhere can the choice between love and duty be more plausibly represented. Just at present, no doubt, it is the fashion to speak of Parliament as an assembly of talkers, considerably inferior in all the governing qualities to the police magistrates of newly subjugated provinces, or even to the heroic colonists who learn the hard realities of life in shearing sheep or causing them to be shorn ; but in spite of the prevalence of this talk, a seat in the House is still a main object of ambition, and, for that matter, desired and pursued even by novelists. It is certainly true that to write successfully of political life some acquaintance with its actual workings is necessary, but that is not so rare nor so hard to come by as to deter the writer of fiction; and more than the necessary knowledge must have been possessed, for example, by men like Thackeray and Charles Reade, both of whom in their day were candidates. What, then, is the explanation ? Assuming that a political career offers the highest distinction open to the average Briton,
more than example, by their day we that a politice Briton,