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- A Word Only A Word, Volume 3. - 4/13 -
Before the little door leading into her father's room she again pressed his hand, and then vanished as swiftly as a shadow.
Ulrich remained alone, pacing slowly up and down before the treasury, for he knew that he had done something very wrong, and did not venture to appear before the artist.
When he entered the dark garden, he had again summoned "fortune" to his aid; but now it would have pleased him better, if it had been less willing to come to his assistance.
Candles were burning in the studio, and Moor sat in his arm-chair, holding--Ulrich would fain have bidden himself in the earth--the boy's Cupid in his hands.
The young culprit wanted to slip past his teacher with a low "good night," but the latter called him, and pointing to the picture, smilingly asked: "Did you paint this?"
Ulrich nodded, blushing furiously.
The artist eyed him from top to toe, saying: "Well, well, it is really very pretty. I suppose it is time now for us to begin to paint."
The lad did not know what had happened, for a few weeks before Moor had harshly refused, when he asked the same thing now voluntarily offered.
Scarcely able to control his surprise and joy, be bent over the artist's hand to kiss it, but the latter withdrew it, gazed steadily into his eyes with paternal affection, and said: "We will try, my boy, but we must not give up drawing, for that is the father of our art. Drawing keeps us within the bounds assigned to what is true and beautiful. The morning you must spend as before; after dinner you shall be rewarded by using colors." This plan was followed, and the pupil's first love affair bore still another fruit--it gave a different form to his relations with Sanchez. The feeling that he had stood in his way and abused his confidence sorely disturbed Ulrich, so he did everything in his power to please his companion.
He did not see the fair Carmen again, and in a few weeks the appointment was forgotten, for painting under Moor's instruction absorbed him as nothing in his life had ever done before, and few things did after.
Ulrich was now seventeen, and had been allowed to paint for four months.
Sanchez Coello rarely appeared in the studio, for he had gone to study with the architect, Herrera; Isabella vied with Ulrich, but was speedily outstripped by the German.
It seemed as if he had been born with the power to use the brush, and the young girl watched his progress with unfeigned pleasure. When Moor harshly condemned his drawing, her kind eyes grew dim with tears; if the master looked at his studies with an approving smile, and showed them to Sophonisba with words of praise, she was as glad as if they had been bestowed upon herself.
The Italian came daily to the treasury as usual, to paint, talk or play chess with Moor; she rejoiced at Ulrich's progress, and gave him many a useful suggestion.
When the young artist once complained that he had no good models, she gaily offered to sit to him. This was a new and unexpected piece of good fortune. Day and night he thought only of Sophonisba. The sittings began.
The Italian wore a red dress, trimmed with gold embroidery, and a high white lace ruff, that almost touched her cheeks. Her wavy brown hair clung closely to the beautiful oval head, its heavy braids covering the back of the neck; tiny curls fluttered around her ears and harmonized admirably with the lovely, mischievous expression of the mouth, that won all hearts. To paint the intelligent brown eyes was no easy matter, and she requested Ulrich to be careful about her small, rather prominent chin, which was anything but beautiful, and not make her unusually high, broad forehead too conspicuous; she had only put on the pearl diadem to relieve it.
The young artist set about this task with fiery impetuosity, and the first sketch surpassed all expectations.
Don Fabrizio thought the picture "startlingly" like the original. Moor was not dissatisfied, but feared that in the execution his pupil's work would lose the bold freshness, which lent it a certain charm in his eyes, and was therefore glad when the bell rang, and soon after the king appeared, to whom he intended to show Ulrich's work.
Philip had not been in the studio for a long time, but the artist had reason to expect him; for yesterday the monarch must have received his letter, requesting that he would graciously grant him permission to leave Madrid.
Moor had remained in Spain long enough, and his wife and child were urging his return. Yet departure was hard for him on Sophonisba's account; but precisely because he felt that she was more to him than a beloved pupil and daughter, he had resolved to hasten his leave-taking.
All present were quickly dismissed, the bolts were drawn and Philip appeared.
He looked paler than usual, worn and weary.
Moor greeted him respectfully, saying: "It is long since Your Majesty has visited the treasury."
"Not 'Your Majesty;' to you I am Philip," replied the king. "And you wish to leave me, Antonio! Recall your letter! You must not go now."
The sovereign, without waiting for a reply, now burst into complaints about the tiresome, oppressive duties of his office, the incapacity of the magistrates, the selfishness, malice and baseness of men. He lamented that Moor was a Netherlander, and not a Spaniard, called him the only friend he possessed among the rebellious crew in Holland and Flanders, and stopped him when he tried to intercede for his countrymen, though repeatedly assuring him that he found in his society his best pleasure, his only real recreation; Moor must stay, out of friendship, compassion for him, a slave in the royal purple.
After the artist had promised not to speak of departure during the next few days, Philip began to paint a saint, which Moor had sketched, but at the end of half an hour he threw down his brush. He called himself negligent of duty, because he was following his inclination, instead of using his brain and hands in the service of the State and Church. Duty was his tyrant, his oppressor. When the day-laborer threw his hoe over his shoulder, the poor rascal was rid of toil and anxiety; but they pursued him everywhere, night and day. His son was a monster, his subjects were rebels or cringing hounds. Bands of heretics, like moles or senseless brutes, undermined and assailed the foundation of the throne and safeguard of society: the Church. To crush and vanquish was his profession, hatred his reward on earth. Then, after a moment's silence, he pointed towards heaven, exclaiming as if in ecstasy: "There, there! with Him, with Her, with the Saints, for whom I fight!"
The king had rarely come to the treasury in such a mood. He seemed to feel this too, and after recovering his self-control, said:
"It pursues me even here, I cannot succeed in getting the right coloring to-day. Have you finished anything new?"
Moor now pointed out to the king a picture by his own hand, and after Philip had gazed at it long and appreciatively, criticising it with excellent judgment, the artist led him to Ulrich's portrait of Sophonisba, and asked, not without anxiety: "What does Your Majesty say to this attempt?"
"Hm!" observed the monarch. "A little of Moor, something borrowed from Titian, yet a great deal that is original. The bluish-grey leaden tone comes from your shop. The thing is a wretched likeness! Sophonisba resembles a gardener's boy. Who made it?"
"My pupil, Ulrich Navarrete."
"How long has he been painting?"
"For several months, Sire."
"And you think he will be an artist of note?"
"Perhaps so. In many respects he surpasses my expectations, in others he falls below them. He is a strange fellow."
"He is ambitious, at any rate."
"No small matter for the future artist. What he eagerly begins has a very grand and promising aspect; but it shrinks in the execution. His mind seizes and appropriates what he desires to represent, at a single hasty grasp...."
"Rather too vehement, I should think."
"No fault at his age. What he possesses makes me less anxious, than what he lacks. I cannot yet discover the thoughtful artist-spirit in him."
"You mean the spirit, that refines what it has once taken, and in quiet meditation arranges lines, and assigns each color to its proper place, in short your own art-spirit."
"And yours also, Sire. If you had begun to paint early, you would have possessed what Ulrich lacks."
"Perhaps so. Besides, his defect is one of those which will vanish with years. In your school, with zeal and industry...."
"He will obtain, you think, what he lacks. I thought so too! But as I was saying: he is queerly constituted. What you have admitted to me more than once, the point we have started from in a hundred conversations--he cannot grasp: form is not the essence of art to him."
The king shrugged his shoulders and pointed to his forehead; but Moor continued: "Everything he creates must reflect anew, what he experienced at the first sight of the subject. Often the first sketch succeeds, but if it fails, he seeks without regard to truth and accuracy, by means of trivial, strange expedients, to accomplish his purpose. Sentiment, always sentiment! Line and tone are everything; that is our motto. Whoever masters them, can express the grandest things."
"Right, right! Keep him drawing constantly. Give him mouths, eyes,
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