International studio — 81.1925

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mceRHAEionAL

showed an extraordinary faculty of observation
that does all credit to his residence in a town
where splendid schooling in the natural sciences
was to be obtained at its famous university. His
art, shown at its ripest in the painting of the
Mackay collection, though by no means lacking
in expressive feeling, makes its strongest appeal
through its clear intellectual quality. A strict
feeling for style permeates the composition and
subordinates the detail to a closely thought-out
construction. Just as the principal group in the
foreground is built up into a triangular form, so
the least detail of the landscape is planned as
regards depth of perspective. Every fold of
Mary's and Joseph's garments is accurately de-
vised, and each little plant is organically correct.

The combination of accurate observation of
nature with a feeling for abstract design in the
presentation of the detail is extraordinary. The
path leading into the background of the picture,
the fields with tiny figures in the distance, the
charmingly conceived and yet remarkably styli-
cized clouds, the heavy-laden orange tree in the
foreground, and the half leafless willow in the
middle ground with twigs of an almost Japanese
delicacy, all this is reminiscent of Diirer's most
beautiful nature studies and it is no wonder that
Mantegna served as an inspiration for many of
the great northern painters such as Diirer and
Holbein. Mantegna, however, combined with
this stylicized naturalism the almost medieval
piety and naive phantasy that characterize nearly
all of the Early Renaissance masters.

The Madonna kneels in landscape suggesting
the rocky hill country near Padua, but she is, in
visionary fashion, surrounded by a ring of cheru-
bim with red and blue wings floating on serrated
golden cloudlets. Without these cherubim, with-
out the halos which distinguish Mary and Joseph,
we might not realize that we are dealing with a
Biblical subject, although the marked solemnity
of the conception and the earnestness which
breathes from the whole composition convince us
that we have here to do with an unusual theme.

With Fraficia's "Madonna" and the "Holy
Family" by Lorenzo Costa—a work of somewhat
similar type only recently acquired by Mr. Mackay
—we approach the transition from the fifteenth
to the sixteenth centuries when a simplified com-
position came into being, and intricate detail was
renounced in favor of massive forms and a pains-
takingly compact construction, in which the sides
were balanced in relation to the centre.

One would never suppose from Francia's none
too elaborate handling of detail that he had
originally been a goldsmith, but it is easy to con-

nect the enamel-hke surface of his painting be-
neath which the color glows powerfully with his
knowledge of translucent enamels. In addition to
its unusual charm of color, notably in the deep
blue of the Madonna's cloak and the rose colored
garment of the angel, Francia's types here, as in
all his compositions, are peculiarly sympathetic.
The figures in this particularly expressive paint-
ing, derived from Perugino and above all emulous
of Raffael, though they be, are not without an
individuality of their own, though they may all
seem members of one happily gifted family.

From Francia, who in his later years was
influenced by the young Raffael, it is no great
step to the famous native of Urbino himself. It
is particularly fortunate that Mr. Mackay was in
a position to include one of the rare works of
Raffael in his collection. Although of small dimen-
sions, it demonstrates clearly the great attributes
of his style; the beauty and richness of his
draughtsmanship, the inspired concentration of
his composition and the nai've and child-like spirit
animating his figures. How expressive and imbued
with plastic feeling the figure of the youth on the
right who sits drawn together like a ball; how
spiritual the St. John, his hands folded in prayer
as he sleeps; how notably childlike in expression
the profile of Christ which stands out clear and
sharp against the light sky. How delicate, finally,
the landscape, with the little trees on the right
with their tender foliage, the clumps of grass
expressively indicated on the left, and the clear
vault of the sky where angels in tones of yellow
and red make an etherial appearance.

This little picture was a portion of the predella
of the altar which Raffael painted in 1505 for the
nuns of St. Antonius in Perugia. In curious
fashion, the chief painting of this predella, as well
as a second portion, have found their way into
American collections, the first into Mr, Pierpont
Morgan's collection, the second to the Gardener
collection in Boston while the remaining portions
are in England.

It is a long step from Pisanello to Raffael, but
all the-works of that period known as the Early
Renaissance share certain generic qualities—a
penetrating observation of nature, conformity of
composition and decorative charm combined with
an inward vision and an outwardly agreeable
aspect. The individual stages of development
during the century, from a flat presentation to a
greater plasticity and depth; from a medieval
piety to a worldliness, enshrined, however, in a
high ideal of human worth, may be clearly fol-
lowed in the series of masterpieces of the Mackay
collection.

AUGUST 1925

three jorty-jive
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