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In spite of a Board school, a railway, and a bank, many are the milder forms of superstition that find here a restingplace. A white donkey at Wenlock is held to be a sacred animal. An old woman of my acquaintance who has one will never allow it to be struck, as she is of opinion" that the baiste be white by the finger of the Lord, and needs no Church marker."

To injure robins, or to take the nest of these birds in spring, is accounted an accursed thing. A poor woman once told me that her lad was a-gettin' more naturaler every year; but sure, you cudn't 'specs much else, for 'Arry he 'ad robbed a robin's nest, it being fobbed upon un as 'ow it was only an ordinary fowl's." It is also believed

generally in Shropshire that to burn the elder bush or to injure a lady-bird will excite the wrath of Heaven. There are many remedies advocated to cure the whooping or chin cough, as it is called here. You are recommended to crawl under brambles, pass under the stomach of a piebald horse, or sit facing the tail of a donkey. Wenlock has its special amusements and interests. Every spring its citizens turn out to see its races; and the Olympian games founded by Dr. Brookes, and held every Whitsuntide in the Linden fields, are very popular and attended by all the country-side. These games consist of competitions in modern athletic sports, diversified by medieval pastimes, such as tilting at the ring. The victor at this exercise gains a silver cup and is crowned by the Queen of Beauty, the fairest lady present, with a wreath.

There is also a library, founded by Dr. Brookes, and among the many interesting donors are found the names of the great Duke of Wellington, of Lord Macaulay, of the Earl of Beaconsfield, of Mr. Gladstone and of Lord Salisbury.-Nineteenth Century.

THE LIFE AND WORKS OF REMBRANDT.

BY WALTER ARMSTRONG.

THE quick rise in the fame of the great Dutch master which has lately taken place bears witness to a general extension of right ideas about art. Forty years ago, so far as we can judge, few even of those who had knowledge would have included Rembrandt among the first half-dozen great painters of the world. If a plebiscite were taken today his name would very likely come out at the top. His rivals for the premiership would, I suppose, be Raphael, Titian, and Velasquez; and it says much for the advance of knowledge that men, some of whose gifts were so much more popular than his, should run any risk of thus losing their place. For Rembrandt was, on the whole, the most purely artistic of all painters. In the enormous mass of his production, whether you search among his pictures, or his drawings, or his etchings, you will scarcely

find an instance of dislocation between the various elements which go to make a work of art. You will recognize a man absolutely faithful to his own personality-a man governed through life by a single desire, that of giving the purest and most condensed expression to his own ideas, whether those ideas were understood by the people about him or not. That any one of whom this can be truly said should hold such a place in popular esteem as that now enjoyed by Rembrandt, goes far, I think, to prove an enormous advance in taste.

The bibliography of Rembrandt is already voluminous. His life, indeed, has not been written so often as those of the two great Italians. His work has been the subject of an extraordinary number of catalogues raisonnés and partial essays of every sort, but his career as a whole had scarcely been ap

proached in a responsible way when the fate C. Vosmaer published the first edition of his well-known Life. Down to that time, some thirty years ago, biographers had been content to take the grotesque libels of Houbraken for gospel.

The Rembrandt who has at last been disentombed from the heap of falsehoods under which he lay buried so long, turns out to be a person differing in a host of essential particulars from the gloomy miser sketched by Houbraken and accepted by Houbraken's successors. But Vosmaer's Life, excellent as it was for its time, soon began to lose authority as new discoveries were made. Dr. Bredius, M. de Roever, and others, were enabled, as a result of their untiring searches among the Dutch archives, to correct, supplement, and even suppress many parts of his narrative, while critics, both in Holland and outside, with Dr. Wilhelm Bode at their head, were arriving at a much fuller and sounder knowledge of the vicissitudes in the master's style than any one could claim twenty years ago. The time was ripe, therefore, for a new treatment of the whole subject. The materials collected were available for a new narrative; the deeper insight into his art was ready to correct, expand, and rearrange the list of Rembrandt's works. No doubt, as the years go by and fresh eyes are attracted to the search, newer facts still may be discovered, newer lights thrown on disputed points of authorship or chronology. But for the present M. Michel's labors bring us up to date, and he sets his hero before us with a vivacity we need not distrust.

Before going on to give a short résumé of the master's life as it is now understood, it may be as well to say the very little that requires to be said of M. Michel's shortcomings as a biographer. If the scheme of his book has a fault, it lies in its endeavor to be exhaustive. He is not content to tell us all that is known or pretty surely divined about his hero. He is rather too prone to indulge in the pleasing but hazardous exercise of founding one probability upon another, a way of building which leads inevitably to unstable structures. He should have kept his own French proverb, Ce n'est que l'imprévu qui

arrive, a little more constantly before his eyes. It might have saved him from making a good many unprofitable guesses as to the motives and mutual relations, for instance, of the Rembrandt family. Take this sentence, on page 22 of the first volume :

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from Amsterdam, Rembrandt probably reThough Leyden was at no great distance ceived few visits from his parents. His father could not easily have left his mill, nor But no his mother her household duties. doubt occasional gifts were despatched by the loving mother, with recommendations to good behavior and economy from the father. The latter counsel was assuredly not un. necessary; generous and impulsive, the young man had little idea of the value of money, as he sufficiently proved in after-life." Judging from her portraits "Madame Mère" never made a present in her life; in any case the passage is futile, and there are too many like it. A similar fault, an occasional inability to appreciate the true boundaries of criticism, peeps out here and there in sections dealing with the master's work. But these, after all, are trivial blemishes. A more positive fault is the obvious inadequacy of M. Michel's knowledge of the Rembrandts in England. Nearly one-fifth of the master's known pictures are in this country, even after allowing for the too numerous examples which have crossed the Channel during the last few years. To the National Gallery and Buckingham Palace pictures reference is duly made, but little is said about those elsewhere; while many of the superb things belonging to Lord Ilchester, Lord Brownlow, Captain Holford, and others, are entirely ignored. This would not be of any great importance in a biography differently conceived, but in one schemed on the comprehensive lines here chosen, it constitutes a real defect. It has been remedied, to a certain extent, by Mr. Wedmore, who has introduced several items into the catalogues at the end, and has given reproductions of Lord Ilchester's

Rembrandt in a Yellow Gaberdine," and of Mr. S. Joseph's "Saskia."

The doubts in connection with Rembrandt begin with the date of his birth. Three different years, 1606, 1607, and 1608, have been given. 1608, have been given. M. Michel, following Dr. Bredius, says he was born on July 15th, 1606, which makes him

sixty-three at his death in 1669. He was the fifth of six children born to the miller, Harmen van Rhijn, by his wife, Neeltjen Willemsdochter van Zuitbroeck. Humble as they were in station, his parents sent him to the Latin school in order that-as Orlers, the best authority for his early years, put it"he might in the fulness of time be able to serve his native city and the Republic with his knowledge." Such studies were not to the boy's mind, however, and Harmen soon perceived that his son's inclination toward art would have to be indulged. He was placed with Jakob van Swanenburch, whom he quitted three years later to study under Lastman at Amsterdam. It was during the first short stay in the city whose chief ornament he was afterward to become, that he underwent the influence of Elsheimer, who had been Lastman's master in Rome, and of Lievens, who was his fellow-pupil in Lastman's studio. But Rembrandt only stayed six months in Amsterdam. He returned to Leyden in 1624, "determined," says Orlers, "to study and practise painting alone, in his own fash

ion."

He remained six years in his native town, working much from the members of his own family and from himself, carrying out those elaborately staged compositions which mark his first period as a painter, and taking the first steps as an etcher. The most successful work of this period is the "Presentation in the Temple," at the Hague, a lighter, colder, slightly more over-schemed forerunner of the superb "Christ and the Adultress" of 1644.

M. Michel paints a graphic picture of Amsterdam in 1631, of her growing trade and prosperity, and of the transformation, not only in the city itself, but in the spirit of the inhabitants, which followed the long struggle with Spain. These were the years of Descartes' sojourn there. They were the years, too, of that feverish mental activity which seems always to follow upon any prolonged national crisis. The picture drawn by Descartes, in a letter to his friend Balzac, reminds us of descriptions of New York after the civil war. He calls himself the "only man not engaged in trade," and rejoices in the liberty given by his soli

tude as well as in the panorama of life unfolded before him. He was not right, as we know, in supposing himself to be "the only man not engaged in trade." The revival of civil life had been followed by a great increase in the attention given to the arts. The institutions fostered by the war had encouraged painters, and now, with returning prosperity, other institutions, and especially those connected with charity, came forward to commission pictures. One of the most extraordinary things about Holland during the bitter years is her activity in the arts. As you read the pages of Motley, you wonder how any but the most indispensable pursuits, the drawing of water and the baking of bread, could survive such scenes of carnage and confusion. And yet all through the struggle between William of Orange and Philip's lieutenants, painting never quite gave up the ghost, while no sooner had the conflict withdrawn from the devastated provinces than art renewed its activity, and on all hands those who had borne arms in the fray began to sit to painters. For a long time Amsterdam was the chief place to profit by the return of peace. Her position, at once well sheltered and easily accessible both from the interior and the sea, has often been likened to that of Venice, but, perhaps, a compar ison would be better with Constantinople. Her position at the head of the then navigable Zuider Zee, and at a point where all the canals of Holland converged from the south, was very similar to that of the Eastern capital on the Sea of Marmora. Within a century of William the Silent's assassination in the palace at Delft, Amsterdam had practically grown into the town we all knew until the other day. Like several other Dutch cities, she has now begun to put on suburbs at an alarming rate, but in 1630 she was already at the knees of that rampart over which she only began to swarm some twenty years ago.

It was in this Amsterdam that Rembrandt established himself in 1630; here, in 1632, that he painted his first corporation picture, the "Lesson in Anatomy;" and here, in 1634, that he married his wife, Saskia van Uylenborch, much of whose short married life

must have been spent in sitting to her husband. M. Michel enumerates some eighteen portraits of her of one kind or another, not counting compositions in which she may have sat for single figures. Some have recognized her features in an even greater number of cases. Saskia died in 1642, the year of "The Night Watch." Vosmaer, through a misapprehension by his friend, Dr. Scheltema, of an entry in a parish book, gave a second wife to Rembrandt, one Catharina van Vyck, whom he was supposed to have married in 1665. It is now believed that Saskia's only successor was Hendrickje Stoffels, whose irregular connection with the master began about 1650 and lasted to her death, which is supposed to have occurred about 1662. The most intricate and obscure points in Rembrandt's life are those connected with Saskia's disposition of her property. She made a will in favor of her son Titus, with a contingent remainder for the benefit of her sister Hiskia, but as the will also contained a stipulation that Rembrandt should not be legally bound to carry out its provisions, because she had confidence that he would behave in the matter in strict obedience to his conscience," it is difficult to understand exactly how it came to precipitate his ruin. M. Michel goes into all this question with great care, making good use of the documents disinterred by Dr. Bredius and other Dutch inquirers. And yet we are left with the impression that the mot de l'énigme has yet to be discovered, unless, indeed, we find it in the pure carelessness, the mere "letting things slide," of Rembrandt himself. However this may be, the fact remains that between 1654 and 1658 the painter was stripped of all the property he had accumulated in the historic house in the Bree-straat, and that for the rest of his life he was a sort of nomad, shifting his lodgings with uncomfortable frequency, and carrying with him nothing but the materials of his art and some little wreckage from his collections, which seems to have been saved we know not how. During all this period, except the last few years, he had for legal tuteurs Hendrickje, and his son Titus, who made shift to manage his affairs while he confined his

thoughts to art. How he passed the melancholy years which intervened between their deaths and his own we can only conjecture. That he preserved some remnant of cheerfulness seems to be proved by the famous portrait in the Carstanjen collection at Berlin, which shows him laughing lightheartedly in spite of his troubles, his solitude, and his more than sixty years.

During Rembrandt's early period of activity the office of presiding genius was in commission, so to speak, between the members of his father's family. In the years of his first maturity at Amsterdam it was filled by Saskia; during the last and greatest time it fell to the erring, but faithful, Hendrickje Stoffels, whose sympathetic features appear on her master's canvases almost as often as did those of Saskia during his early middle age. He paints her dressed and undressed, and her figure-buxom is the only word for it-suggests the nearest approach to objective beauty he ever reached in his dealings with the female form. For clearly she sat for the "Bathsheba" of the Louvre. Even now all doubts have not been dispelled as to Hendrickje's status, neither is it quite certain that she died before her master. One tradition says he married her, but no record of any such marriage has been found. No mention of her has been discovered later than 1661, and the record of her burial has been searched for in vain. Of the two women who have come down to posterity in Rembrandt's shadow, she seems to me by far the more interesting. Saskia lived and died in the odor of sanctity. She loved her husband, and bore witness to her love in the last act of her life. But even through the halo thrown around her by Rembrandt's art we seem to divine a creature deficient in blood, a child to be petted and adorned, rather than a woman to be loved, a being who shrank in the fierce light of her companion's genius, as a shallow-rooted plant withers in the sun, rather than one to whom his worship was life and satisfaction. With all her ignorance-she could not write-and her absence of finesse, Hendrickje looks a better companion for her master. Her comely features brim over with generosity, with breadth of sympathy, with

a toleration that is modern, and with a capacity for the love that grows with love. After a few moments' study of the picture at Berlin,* we are not surprised to learn how Hendrickje was as good a mother to Saskia's child as to her own, and we recognize that she was Rembrandt's true affinity. It would be fanciful, perhaps, to connect the freer method of his last years with her character, but the curious sympathy between her looks and the abandon with which Rembrandt worked with her for his model cannot be mistaken.

Rembrandt's son Titus died in 1668, and the old painter was left with two children, his grand-daughter Titia, the daughter of Titus, and Hendrickje's daughter Cornelia, to form his only links with the past. His own death took place about thirteen months later. So far no allusion to it has been found in any contemporary document, except the death-register of the Werter-kerk of Amsterdam, in which this entry occurs Tuesday, October 8th, 1669; Rembrandt von Rhijn, painter, on the Roozegraft, opposite the Doolhof. Leaves two children."

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The English version of M. Michel's biography deserves nothing but the warmest praise. The omission of some twenty-nine illustrations which are to be found in the French original causes a momentary regret, especially that of the St. Petersburg "Danäe," but we are consoled by finding some of the gaps filled up with first-rate reproductions from such fine things as Mr. S. Joseph's "Saskia," and the never to-be-forgotten Rembrandt in a Yellow Gaber dine" at Lord Ilchester's. Miss Simmonds has done her work in a way that is, unhappily, very rare indeed. Not once in the course of these six hundred pages are we reminded that we have to do with a translation. Her English is simple and elegant, while her author's meaning is invariably understood, and not seldom conveyed in language clearer and more terse than his own. This is high praise, but it is thoroughly well deserved. It is more difficult to speak of Mr. Wedmore's share in the work because that is not so easy to follow. If he is responsible for the numerous

* No. 828 (B) in the Museum Catalogue. NEW SERIES.-VOL, LIX., No. 3.

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corrections, in matters of fact, as well as for the initialled notes, then he has justified his selection as editor. The division into two volumes makes the book much more convenient than the original, and the extra plates are the most satisfactory of the whole series.

Before laying down my pen I should like to say something on certain aspects of Rembrandt's career which have not yet, perhaps, received the attention they deserve. Original as he was, Rembrandt shared the common lot in being strictly the child of his surroundings. Like Rubens, Velasquez, and others of whom we are too apt to think as isolated phenomena, he had his devanciers. In spite of its extremely personal quality, his art was closely allied, during its early stages, to what his neighbors were doing. For every peculiarity of his youthful work you will find a precedent in Jakob van Swanenburch, his first master; or in Pieter Lastman, his second; or in Jan Lievens, his precocious fellow-worker; or in Adam Elsheimer, the German Italianizer for whom Dr. Bode claims the first foot on the path followed by so many illustrious Dutchmen of the seventeenth century. Add to these names that of his own fellow-townsman, Lucas van Leyden, and you have a complete list of those by whom Rembrandt's early proceedings were chiefly affected. The tradition which includes Joris Verschooten and Jakob Pynas among his actual teachers may, apparently, be disregarded. No one of all these, with, of course, the exception of Lucas, whose influence was posthumous as well as indirect, can be called a distinguished artist. Swanenburch excites some slight interest for his father's sake and his pupil's. Lastman was a painter of skill to whom all power of concentration and artistic selection had been denied. Lievens had a touch of genius, spoiled by his dispersed way of seeing things, and by an essential discord between his conceptions and their execution. His paint was thin, starved, eked out; his ideas often strongly dramatic. And yet, weak as they were, we can see that if these men had not painted as they did, Rembrandt would scarcely have become the Rembrandt we know. There is a sym

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