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Randall Davies

Meantime we must turn our attention to Holland, where Frans Hals, who was born only three years later than Rubens, namely in 1580, was the forerunner of Rembrandt, Van der Helst, Bol, Lely, and a host more of greater or less painters, who made their country as famous in the seventeenth century for art as their fathers had made it in the sixteenth for arms.

The man who began all this street fighting was a Frenchman—Eugène Delacroix. While still a youth he was bullied, and the bully was such a redoubtable giant that it took somebody with the grit and genius of Delacroix to tackle him, but tackle him he did. The story of the fight, which is a long and glorious one, is so admirably told in Madame Bussy's life of Delacroix, that I have obtained permission to give the essence of it in her own words.

While according all due honour, and probably more, to Cimabue as the originator of modern painting, it is to his pupil, Giotto, that we are accustomed to look for the first developments of its possibilities. Had Cimabue's successors been as conservative as his instructors, we might still be not very much better off than if he had never lived.

But the greatest of all the Dutch painters, in some ways the greatest painter that has ever lived, was Rembrandt van Ryn (1606-1669). Beside him all the rest seem merely commonplace, and their works the product of this or that demand, according to their different times and circumstances, executed with more or less skill.

In England, meantime, great things were being accomplished amid peaceful surroundings. In portraiture Lawrence soon became supreme, and what excellence he possessed was accentuated on his death in 1830 by the appointment of Sir Martin Archer Shee as his successor in the Presidency of the Royal Academy. That was the end of portraiture in England until a new school arose.

Coming to the second period in the development of the new art—roughly, that is to say, from 1400 to 1450—Vasari observes that even where there is no great facility displayed, yet the works evince great care and thought; the manner is more free and graceful, the colouring more varied and pleasing; more figures are employed in the compositions, and the drawing is more correct inasmuch as it is closer to nature.

The painters of genre, by the number, quality, and diversity of whose pictures the Dutch School is specially distinguished, may be roughly divided into three classes; namely, those who studied the upper, the middle, and the lower classes respectively.

Let us now cross the channel again, and see what is going on there, in 1863. Evidently there is something on, or there would not be so much excitement. As we approach the Capital we are aware of one name being prominent in the general uproar—that of Édouard Manet.

Three names stand out conspicuously from the ranks of Florentine painters in the latter half of the fifteenth century. But progress being one of the essential characteristics of the art at this period, as in all others, it is not surprising that the order of their fame coincides (inversely) pretty nearly with that of their date.

As a link between the painters of genre and the landscapists, we may here mention some of the numerous artists who either made landscape the background for groups of figures and animals, or peopled their landscapes with groups—it matters not which way we put it. Among these we shall find several of the most famous, or at any rate the most popular artists of the Dutch School.

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