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German, Flemish and Dutch Painting (Classic Reprint)

German, Flemish and Dutch Painting (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from German, Flemish and Dutch Painting

The painters of Germany and the Netherlands provide for the English Art-Student a field of study no less interesting than that furnished by the celebrated Italian Masters.

In Germany - after a school of painters who worked with a deep and honest purpose but with no immense genius - Art, in the persons of Durer and Holbein, made an advance of incomparable importance; and owing to the fact that Holbein spent many of his best years in England, and here painted a large number of his finest works, we have an additional reason for a careful study of the great German Renaissance.

After these masters and their immediate disciples, Art gradually declined in the hands of such copyists as Mengs who was nothing better than a feeble imitator of Michelangelo, and of Denner who smothered Art by his excessive elaboration. The later revival under Cornelius and Overbeck, if it does not arouse enthusiasm, at least commands respect and admiration.

The early schools of Holland and Flanders were so closely allied that it is difficult to divide their honours. To the Van Eycks of Bruges is due the discovery of an improved method of using oil as a vehicle in painting, and they and their followers have never been surpassed in technical excellence.

Then followed Matsys and the early school of Antwerp, and after him came the decline, hastened by over-wrought composition and a futile straining after the style of the Italians. This decline was happily checked by the advent of Rubens, the Titian of the North, whose Art is manly, although it does not possess the idealism or religious sentiment of Italy, or even of the early Flemings.

With his greatest pupil, Van Dyck, all Englishmen are familiar, and indeed this country has an almost equal claim with Flanders to rank him among her painters.

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