PORTRAIT OF THE BURGOMASTER SIX.

This is the most finished and perfect of all the etchings of Rembrandt; and as it was done expressly for his friend and patron, we can easily imagine that the painter exerted himself to the utmost, so as to render it worthy of the subject. I have been at some trouble to get an account of the family of Jan Six, but have gleaned little from those books connected with the history of Holland. During the war with England, in the reign of Charles the Second, he was Secretary of State to the City of Amsterdam, and his family was afterwards connected with some of their most celebrated men. But what has rendered his name more famous than intermarrying with the families of Van Tromp or De Ruyter, is his patronage of Rembrandt—in the same way that Lord Southampton's name is ennobled by his patronage of Shakspere. We know he was devoted to literature as well as the fine arts, having left a tragedy on the story of Medea, a copy of which is mentioned in the catalogue of Rembrandt's effects, and an etching by the artist was prefixed to the work—viz., the "Marriage of Jason and Creusa;" the rare states of this print are before the quotation of the Dutch verses underneath—also the statue of Juno is without the diadem, which was afterwards added. I have mentioned that this portrait was a private plate; in fact, the copper is still in the possession of the family. In a sale which took place in 1734, for a division of the property among the various branches, fourteen impressions were sold, but brought comparatively small prices, from the number to be contended for. Two proofs, however, on India paper are still in the portfolio of his descendants, which in five years will, it is said, be brought to the hammer, as by that time the parties will be of age. These proofs will in all probability realize two hundred guineas each. The ease and natural attitude of the figure in this work are admirable: the intensity of the light, with the delicacy and truth of the reflected lights, are rendered with the strong stamp of genius; the diffusion of the light also, by means of the papers on the chair, and the few sparkling touches in the shadow, completely take this etching out of the catalogue of common portraiture. The only work I can at present think of that can be brought into competition with it, is the full-length portrait of Charles the First, by Vandyke, in the Queen's Collection, and which is rendered so familiar by Strange's admirable engraving.

In entering into an examination of the execution of this print, it is evident the whole effect is produced by means of the dry point, which must have been a work of great labour. The best impressions are on India paper; and I perceive, by referring to Gersaint's catalogue, that at the sale of the Burgomaster's property, they only brought about eighteen florins. The next portrait amongst his etchings that at all approaches to the Burgomaster, is that of "Old Haring," which has always struck me as one of the foundations for the style of Sir Joshua Reynolds in portraiture. A fine impression of this work, on India paper, is more like Sir Joshua than many prints after his own pictures; and with all the high veneration I have for Reynolds, I cannot omit noticing how very ambiguously he frequently speaks of this great genius. We know his master, Hudson, had an excellent collection of Rembrandt's works, and therefore he must have been early imbued with their merits and peculiarities. This, however, we shall have a better opportunity of noticing when we come to the treatment of colour. The next etching in excellence I should mention is the "Portrait of John Lutma, the Goldsmith," with the light background; this was afterwards softened down by the introduction of a window. And here I must observe, that though he often had light backgrounds to his prints, yet in his finished pictures they were generally the reverse. The etching of "Ephraim Bonus, the Jewish Physician," is also one of his most effective works; the introduction of the balustrade, on which he leans descending the staircase, removes it from the ordinary level of mere portraiture. On the hand that rests upon the balustrade, is a ring, which in the very rare impressions, from its being done with the dry point, prints dark from the burr. These are invaluable, as in that state the whole work has the fulness and richness of a picture. A very large sum was given for the impression of the print in this state—now in the British Museum—in fact, one hundred and sixty pounds; though at the Verstolke sale, where this print was purchased, the commission given amounted to two hundred and fifty pounds: but when we consider that the collection in the British Museum is now the finest in existence, no extra price should be spared to complete the collection, especially as these works are foundations for the sure improvement of the fine arts in the country. The crown jewels are exhibited as a necessary appendage to the rank of the nation—but there the value stops; now the works of art in this country are not only valuable, but intrinsically beneficial. We know that Charles the Second pawned the crown pearls to the Dutch for a few thousands; but our collection of Rembrandts would realize in Holland at least ten thousand pounds. This, of course, is a digression, and is merely mentioned here to show how absurd the hue and cry is, that the country is wasting money in purchasing a few specimens of fine art. The "Portrait of Utenbogardus" is also excellent; and I may here notice the large book, which Rembrandt was so fond of introducing, as a means of a breadth of light and employment for his portraits. Now, to these circumstances we are indebted for some of the finest works of both Reynolds and Lawrence: amongst many, I might mention the large ledger in Lawrence's "Portraits of the Baring Family," and Sir Joshua's picture of the "Dilettante Society," and others. No doubt we find these means of making up a picture both in Raffaelle and Titian; but it is rendered more applicable to our own purposes when it is brought nearer to our own times, especially when translated by so great a genius as Rembrandt. The next fine work amongst his etchings is the "Portrait of Cornelius Silvius," the head of which, being delicately finished with the dry needle, is seldom seen very fine. This also has a book, and the hand extended beyond the frame of the oval opening, upon which it casts its shadow. This practice of representing objects nearer the eye than the frame is certainly to be observed in some of the prints after Rubens and others, and has descended to several common prints in our own time, but ought not to be adopted, as bordering too much upon that art which may be designated as a sort of ad captandum vulgus display. As we shall speak more particularly of Rembrandt's portraits when colour is investigated, these works are merely mentioned as excellent specimens of composition and chiaro-scuro. I must not omit, however, to notice here the great Coppenol, the writing-master to the city of Amsterdam: he holds a pen and a sheet of paper in his hand, and is looking at the spectator with a look of intelligent observation. The head and figure of this work were perfected, in the first instance, before the background was put in, and in this state is exceedingly rare—the one in the British Museum is valued at five hundred guineas, and was left, amongst other rare works in his collection, by the Rev. Mr. Cracherode, to the public. And here we ought to bear in mind, when individuals contribute so largely by their bequests to the country, it is our bounden duty to carry out their views by perfecting the various collections as opportunities offer in the course of time, which to them was impossible. In one of the impressions in the Museum, in a finished state, is written, in a large ornamental hand, a commendation by Coppenol himself, wherein he says he does so to unite his name with that of the great artist, Rembrandt Van Ryn, as by that means he knows he shall secure immortality to himself. The portrait, however, that is the most powerful, as well as the most rare, is Van Tolling the Advocate. The effect, both from the reflected light on the face, and the fearless masses of burr, is more like a picture than a print, and renders every other etching comparatively tame. From the chemical bottles at the side, and from the character of the gown in which he is dressed, I am of opinion that he was a physician. The excellence of this work, added to its rarity, has at all times produced large prices. There are two states of this print—the first with an irregular beard, the second with the beard cut square, also some additional work on the drapery, &c.; but, what is worthy of remark is, in both states it is exceedingly scarce; in fact, there are but seven impressions known—viz., two in the British Museum, one in Mr. Holford's collection, one in Mr. Hawkins', in Amsterdam one, in Paris one, and one in the collection of Mr. Rudge. I ought here to notice that the Van Tolling is one of the prints bequeathed to the nation by the Rev. Mr. Cracherode, and that at the sale of the Hon. Pole Carew's prints, in 1835, this valuable etching was purchased for the late Baron Verstolke, for two hundred and twenty pounds.

PORTRAIT OF VAN TOLLING 
PORTRAIT OF VAN TOLLING

I shall now enter upon an investigation of the Landscapes of Rembrandt, which, equally with his portraits, are quite peculiar to himself, but differing from all others not from any eccentricity of manner, but from their giving the real essence and character of the scene, when denuded of any trifling and extraneous matters. Whatever Rembrandt touched was impressed with the peculiar characteristics of his genius; hence it is that the smallest stroke in his etchings is pregnant with truth. Though painting belongs exclusively to no country, but represents the natural appearance of each, still it is reserved for genius alone to be able to perceive and place on canvas the essence, as it were, or great leading features of the subject. I am now more particularly speaking of landscape scenery. In all countries and climates there are peculiarities of effect, which, however interesting to the traveller, or a source of investigation to the philosopher or man of science, yet are necessarily excluded from the recording pencil of the artist; his appeal is to mankind at large, not to the isolated few who observe but one side of the subject. The true artist looks upon nature as the chameleon, capable of giving out any variety, and yet all equally true; hence it is that the skies, for example, of Claude, Salvator Rosa, and Gaspar Poussin are universally subordinate to the general effect of the picture. These men, living in Italy, were quite aware of the various prismatic effects observable in sunset, but were also convinced of the necessity of making the sky subservient, at least conducive to, the breadth and harmony of the picture. It may be said that Titian and Tintoret embodied the deep and intense blues of the Venetian atmosphere, but we may remark that their skies are always held in check by the deep reds and browns of the draperies of their figures. Let us now, however, turn our remarks more immediately to Rembrandt, and the scenery and effects observable in Holland. Any one conversant with the pictures of the Dutch school must have observed peculiar features in the skies of Backhuysen, Cuyp, and Rembrandt, arising entirely from the localities of the scenes of their several pictures. My young friend, E. W. Cooke, long a resident in Holland, and a keen and observing artist, remarked that the skies in the pictures of Backhuysen, though dark and inky, were precisely what we see now—the deep Zuyder Sea swallowing up any refraction of light which would otherwise have illuminated the clouds; while the skies of Cuyp, receiving the coruscations arising from the meeting of the two rivers, the Meuse and the Waal, the scenes of most of his pictures, exhibit that luminous reflection and unsteady appearance peculiar to his works. I mention these matters, not to prove that these great observers of nature followed implicitly what was presented to their observation, but to show that when even copying the peculiar character of natural phenomena, it was done with a strict reference to the harmony of their works, and made subservient to one great broad principle. In a flat country like Holland, especially where a low horizontal line is chosen, we perceive a peculiar feature takes precedence of everything else—that is, the quick diminution of those lines which run to the point of sight, whilst the lines running parallel with the base line of the picture retain their length in a greater degree; hence the accumulation of these lines, such as the division of fields, &c., gradually shade down the distant parts of the landscape, while the foreshortened lines assume the appearance of so many spots, or dark touches. In Rembrandt we perceive this character faithfully rendered, and also, assisted by his judicious management, the lines, such as the banks of canals or roads, as they reach the foreground, are strongly pronounced, by either bringing them in contact with strong light, or giving them breadth and force by enriching them with broken ground, reeds, or dark herbage. The objects that stand up, such as trees, &c., are enlarged and darkened as they approach the eye; thus not only enabling them to keep their situation, but also to assist the perspective effect in the highest degree. His small landscape etchings illustrate these remarks, and are full of the touches of truth and nature; and where objects are wanting to give variety and interest, he introduces masses of shadow, or dark clumps of trees, leaving other parts in mere outline. The love of his art caused him to be always provided with the materials for drawing and etching, so that we have these transcripts of nature fresh from the fountain head. We know this from an anecdote mentioned by Daulby. In describing the etching of "Six's Bridge," in his catalogue, he says, "This plate was produced by an incident which deserves to be related. Rembrandt lived in great intimacy with the Burgomaster Six, and was frequently at his country seat. One day, when they were there together, the servant came to acquaint them that dinner was ready, but as they were sitting down to table, they perceived that mustard was wanting. The Burgomaster immediately ordered his servant to go into the village to buy some. Rembrandt, who knew the sluggishness of the Dutch servants, and when they answer austons (a-coming) they are half an hour before they appear, offered the Burgomaster a wager that he would etch a plate before his man returned with the mustard. Six accepted the wager, and Rembrandt, who had always plates at hand ready varnished, immediately took one up, and etched upon it the landscape which appeared from the window of the parlour in which they were sitting. The plate was finished before the servant returned, and Rembrandt won his wager. The etching is slight, but it is a wonderful performance, considering the circumstance that produced it." It is not wonderful on account of the rapidity with which it was done, but the genius and science that pervade every touch, not only in the general arrangement, but in the judicious management of the smallest darks; they are all in the most effective situations. When the plate was bit in, the name was left out; it was afterwards added with the dry point; also a little shading was given to the hat of one of the figures on the bridge, which in the rare state is white. I may notice here that it was also Rembrandt's practice to sketch with the dry point alone, as several of his landscapes show; this has a very rich and full effect. His most finished and striking landscape is perhaps the etching of the "Three Trees." What I have said respecting his giving force to those parts nearest the eye, may be seen in the strong dark under the platform of the mill—which etching I have given, as it has always been considered the mill in which he was born; but I believe it is merely a mill of a picturesque character, which he consequently etched. In the rare impressions, the sky is much stained on the plate towards the house and mill, and I believe intentionally so, as it enables the subject to melt more softly into the background, by the outline being less harsh; at least, I found in my copy, when the person employed to clean the margin of the plate cleaned the stains in the sky also, that I had to restore them. As it will be necessary to go over the ground again with regard to Rembrandt's landscapes, when we enter upon an investigation of his principles of colour, I shall now commence upon that department, fully conscious how high he stands as an artist in that difficult branch of the art, at the same time aware how feeble words must be to express adequately the deep-toned richness of Rembrandt's colouring.

SIX'S BRIDGE 
SIX'S BRIDGE
REMBRANDT'S MILL 
REMBRANDT'S MILL