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- Pictures Every Child Should Know - 20/52 -
he rushed to the King and told what had happened. He had no sooner finished than the nobleman appeared and told his story. The King blamed the nobleman for his rudeness.
"You have not to do with Holbein," he said, "but with me. I tell you, of seven peasants I can make seven lords, but of seven lords I cannot make one Holbein. Begone! and remember that if you ever attempt to avenge yourself, I shall look upon any injury offered to the painter as done to myself."
It was Holbein who, visiting a brother artist and finding a picture on the easel, painted a fly upon it. When the artist returned he tried to brush the fly off, then set about looking for the one who had deceived him.
His portrait painting was so superb that he received many commissions.
Meantime, Sir Thomas More had fallen into disfavour with the King and was to lose his head, but it is written that the artist's portraits "betray nothing of this tragedy." He was as ready to climb to fame by the favour of his generous patron's enemies as he had been to accept the offices of Sir Thomas More. He painted the portraits of several of the wives of Henry VIII., and it may be said that there was a good deal of that monarch's temperament to be found in Holbein himself. Take him all in all, Hans was as detestable as a man as he was excellent as a painter.
In his adopted home in Lucerne, Holbein had painted frescoes, both on the inside and the outside of a citizen's house, and this house stood until 1824, when it was torn down to make way for street improvements, but several artists hastily copied the frescoes so that they are not entirely lost.
Before he left Germany for England, Holbein had been commissioned to decorate the town hall in Basel, and a certain amount of money was voted for the work, but after he had finished three walls, he decided that the money was only enough to pay him for what he had already done. The councillors agreed with him, but as money was a little "close" in Basel at that time, they felt unable to give him more, and so voted to "let the back wall alone, till further notice."
He painted one Madonna whom he surrounded with the entire family of Burgomaster Meyer, including even the burgomaster's first wife, who was dead. This work is called the "Meyer Madonna."
It is said that after Holbein's return to Basel he, with others, was persecuted for his "religious principles," but if this were true, his persecutors went to considerable pains for nothing, because Holbein was never known to have any sort of principles, religious or otherwise. He was neither a Protestant, nor a Catholic but a painter, a man without convictions and without thought. He did not care for family, country, friends, politics, religion, nor for anything else, so far as any one knows.
When he was asked why he had not partaken of the Sacrament, he answered that he wanted to understand the matter better before he did so. Thus he escaped punishment, and when matters were explained to him, he did whatever seemed safest and most convenient under the circumstances.
On his return to England, he settled among the colony of German and Netherland merchants, who were in the habit of meeting at a place called "The Steelyard," as their home and warehouses were grouped in that locality, with a guild hall and a wineshop they alone patronised.
While associated with his compatriots Holbein made portraits of many of them, and these are magnificent works of art. He painted them separately or in groups; in their offices and in their guild hall, as the case might be. The men whom he thus painted were: Gorg Gisze, Hans of Antwerp, Derich Berck, Geryck Tybis, Ambrose Fallen, and many others. He designed the arch which the guild erected upon the occasion of Anne Boleyn's coronation, and he painted Henry's next Queen, Jane Seymour.
Holbein painted many portraits of Henry VIII. and probably all those dated after 1537 were either copies or founded upon the portrait which Holbein made and which was destroyed with Whitehall.
While he painted for Henry, Holbein received a sort of retainer's fee of thirty pounds a year, but he may have received sums for outside commissions which he undertook. On one occasion, when he took a journey to Upper Burgundy to paint a portrait of the Duchess whom Henry contemplated making his next wife, the King gave him ten pounds out of his own purse. We have no record of vast sums such as Raphael received.
Henry did not succeed in making the Duchess his wife, so Holbein was sent to paint another--Anne of Cleves--that Henry might see what he thought of her before he undertook to make her his queen. Holbein did a disastrous deed, for he made Anne a very acceptable looking woman, (the portrait hangs in the Louvre) and Henry negotiated for her on the strength of that portrait. Later, when he saw her, he was utterly disgusted and disappointed.
Holbein, notwithstanding this trick, was employed to paint the next wife of Henry, and doubtless he also made the miniature of Catherine Howard which is in Windsor Castle. Holbein finally died of the plague and no one knows where he was buried. His wife died later, and it was left for his son, Philip, who was said to be "a good well-behaved lad," to bring honours to the family. He was apprenticed in Paris, and, settling later in Augsburg, he founded a branch of the Holbein family on which the Emperor Matthias conferred a patent of nobility, making them the Holbeins of Holbeinsberg.
PLATE--ROBERT CHESEMAN WITH HIS FALCON
This is one of the best of the many splendid portraits Holbein painted. It hangs in The Hague gallery. The gentleman was forty-eight years old and in the portrait he wears a purplish-red doublet of silk and a black overcoat, which was the fashion of the day, all trimmed with fur. He has curly hair, just turning gray. His left hand is gloved and on it he holds his falcon, while with the other hand he strokes its feathers.
Of all sports at that time, falconry was the most fashionable and every fine gentleman had his sporting birds. Robert Cheseman lived in Essex. He was rich and a leader in English politics. His father was "keeper of the wardrobe to Henry VIII." and he himself served in many public offices. He was one of the gentleman chosen to welcome Anne of Cleves when she landed on English soil to marry Henry VIII. These details were first published by Mr. Arthur Chamberlain and are taken from his sketch of Holbein and his works.
Among Holbein's other famous pictures are: "The Ambassadors," "Hans of Antwerp," "Christina of Denmark," "Jane Seymour," "Anne of Cleves," and "St. George and the Dragon."
WILLIAM HOLMAN HUNT
_English (Pre-Raphaelite) School_ 1827-- _Pupil of Academy School_
The story of the Pre-Raphaelites is all by itself a story of art. Holman Hunt was one of three who formed this "brotherhood"; and he, with one other, are the only ones whom some of us think worthy of giving a place in art. This is to be the story of the brotherhood rather than a story of one man.
The last great artist England had had before this extraordinary group, was J. M. W. Turner, truly a wonderful man, but after him England's painters became more and more commonplace, drawing further and further away from truth, There was one, J. F. Lewis, who went away to Syria and lived a lonely and studious life, trying to paint with fidelity sacred scenes, but he was not great enough to do what his conscience and desires demanded of him; and, finally, Constable declared that the end of art in England had come. But it had not, for up in London, in the very heart of the city, in Cheapside (Wood Street) there was born, in April, 1827, a child destined to be a brilliant and wonderful man, who was actually to rescue English art from death. Many do not think thus, but enough of us do to warrant the statement.
The new artist was Holman Hunt. He was the son of a London warehouseman, with no inclination whatever for learning, so that it seemed simply a waste of time to send him to school. This continually repeated history of artists who seem to know nothing outside their brushes and colours, is astonishing, but it is true that artists for the most part must be regarded as artists, pure and simple, and not as men of even reasonably good intellectual attainments, and more or less this accounts for their low estate centuries ago. One does not associate "learning" and the artist. When we have such splendid examples as Drer and two or three others we discuss their intellectuality because they are so unusual.
Holman Hunt was like most of his brother artists in all but his art. He hated school and at twelve years of age was taken from it. His father wanted him to become a warehouse merchant like himself, and he began life as clerk or apprentice to an auctioneer. He next went into the employment of some calico-printers of Manchester. The designing of calicoes can hardly be called art, even if the department of design had fallen to Holman Hunt's lot and we have no evidence that it did, but he started to be an artist nevertheless, there in the print-shop. He found in his new place another clerk who cared for art; and this sympathy encouraged him to fix his mind upon painting more than ever. He used to draw such natural flies upon the window panes that his employer tried one day to "shoo away a whole colony of flies that seemed miraculously to have settled." This gave the clerks much amusement, and also attracted attention to Holman Hunt's genius.
His very small salary was spent, not on his support, but in lessons from a portrait painter of the city. His parents did not like this, but they could not help themselves, and thus this greatest of the Pre-Raphaelites began his work.
The Pre-Raphaelites were a little group of men who believed that artists were drawing too much on their imaginations, not painting things as they saw them, and that the painter had become incapable of close observation. He worked in his studio, did not get near enough to nature, and instead of trying to follow along this line, this group of men, with their new and partly correct ideas, meant to go back further than the great masters themselves and present an elemental art. This was a part of their scheme and partly it was justified, but of all the men who undertook to make a new school, Holman Hunt was the only one
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