PAINTING IN FLANDERS, HOLLAND, AND GERMANY.

Of course the Van Eycks had many followers. Among them were Petrus Christus (records 1444-1471), Gerard van der Meire (records 1447-1474), Hugo von der Goes (1405?-1482), and Justus of Ghent(1468-?), all of whom were good artists, but I shall pass to a more important one, Rogier van der Weyden (1400-1464), who was himself the head of a school of as great importance as was that of the Van Eycks. His realism was his chief characteristic, and this was so great as to make some of his works repulsive, especially his martyrdoms, in which he detailed horrors with great exactness. He also loved to paint pictures which illustrated the myths of the Middle Ages. Our illustration is from one of these works (Fig. 54).

Fig 54 Fig. 54.—The Sibyl and the Emperor Augustus.By Rogier van der Weyden. In the Berlin Museum.

This picture is from the story that when the Roman Senate decreed divine honors to the Emperor Augustus, he consulted the Tiburtine Sibyl as to whether he ought to receive them or no. She replied to him that it was more becoming for him to go away silently, and told him that a Hebrew child should be born who should reign over the gods themselves, or that a king should come from heaven whose power should never end. Another version, which is the one this picture represents, says that the heavens opened, and a vision of the Virgin with the Saviour in her arms, standing on an altar, was shown the emperor. He worshipped it, and heard a voice saying, “Haec ara filii Dei” (This is the altar of the Son of God). Augustus reported this to the Senate, and erected an altar upon the spot in Rome where the Church of Santa Maria in Capitolio, or the “Ara Cœli,” now stands.

Many pictures by Van der Weyden are seen in European galleries. He was also a fine miniaturist. He was official painter to the city of Brussels, and was buried in its cathedral.

His son, Rogier van der Weyden the younger, became very rich and benevolent. He died at Brussels in 1529. His works are not numerous in public galleries.

The elder Van der Weyden had a pupil, Hans Memling (records 1450-1499), who became the greatest master in Belgium. I shall not give you a long account of him; but shall tell you of his greatest work, which was the Shrine of St. Ursula, at the Hospital of Bruges, and is the best example of this type of early Flemish art which still exists. It is divided into six compartments, with two ends, and other panels on top, all of which are finished with the greatest care, and give the whole story of St. Ursula and her eleven thousand virgins, which is that Ursula was a daughter of a king of Brittany who was a Christian. The young girl was educated with the greatest care, and the fame of her beauty and wisdom spread all over Europe. At length the king of England asked for her to be the wife of his son. The princess replied that she would wed him on three conditions: first, that he should give her ten virgins of noble blood for her companions, then to each of these virgins and to herself he should give a thousand maidens as attendants; second, he should allow her three years with these companions, with whom she should visit the shrines where the bodies of the saints repose; and third, the English king and his court should receive baptism.

I cannot give space for all the details of this story, which is of great interest; but the result was that Ursula received all that she asked, and started on her journey to Rome, in the course of which she and the eleven thousand maidens met with many adventures. At last, having reached Cologne on their return, they encountered an army of barbarians which was besieging the city, and all were slain.

The subjects of the pictures as they were painted by Memling were: 1, the first landing at Cologne in the beginning of the journey; 2, the landing at Basle; 3, the arrival in Rome; 4, the second arrival at Basle on her return toward home; 5, commencement of the martyrdom, when Ursula and her train are first seen by the barbarians; 6, death of Ursula.