Studio: international art — 51.1911

Page: 213
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https://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/studio1911/0234
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Drawings by Rembrandt

ON A COLLECTION OF
DRAWINGS BY REMBRANDT
AND THE OLD MASTERS.
BY FREDERIC LEES.

To discover the springs of a painter’s activities, to
trace the progress of his methods, to foreshadow
the orbit of his flight and unfold his biography by
the aid of the preparatory studies for his finished
handiwork—what more exhilarating task than this
could a student of art be set? Think of his joy
at having a collection of original drawings and
sketches by the old masters placed before him,
and being told to examine and investigate; think
of his gladness on perceiving some fresh glimpse
of an artist’s personality, his delight at each fresh
discovery of an idea which blossomed into a
masterpiece. A page of pen-and-ink sketches by
Paolo Veronese first comes under his hand.
Thought and research reveal the fact that they are
the painter’s initial ideas for the Verona Martyrdom
of St. George. A spirited drawing by Teniers is
discovered to be the preliminary sketch — with
numerous variants of devils and fantastic animals
—for the Berlin Temptation of St Anthony; a
study by Van Dyck to be the one he made before
painting the Ermitage St. Sebastian. But what
have we here? Surely a Michelangelo: the

original studies in chalk for the figure of the
cross bearer in his Last Judgment. And that
this is a Correggio—one has only to compare it
with La Verite in the Louvre to be certain of that

—is as clear as that this
other work is a Holbein :
a drawing for the cele-
brated Dance of Death
series, and the only one
of the forty which now
exists.

This illuminating
method of studying the
drawings of the old masters
is one which might be
more widely adopted by
students and writers on
art. Applied with critical
judgment it is wonderful
how it enhances our in-
terest in these precious
works. We feel that they
are no longer detached
documents, but com-
ponent parts of the lives
of the men who produced
them; we feel that we are being brought into
closer personal touch with these great artists, that
we are, as it were, being admitted to their studios
and allowed to witness the making of master-
pieces.

But it is not every collection by any means
which lends itself to this instructive reading of the
history of art. Though it is quite true that every
sketch by a master, however slight it may be, is a
thing to be treasured, many collections of old
drawings throw little light on the personality and
methods of the artist represented there. It is rare
indeed to find one so rich in works of biographical
and historical interest as that containing the original
sketches for the six celebrated pictures I have
mentioned above.

The reason for this clearly lies in the fact that the
connoisseur who has brought it together is himself
an artist. M. Emile Wauters* possesses, in addition
to the ordinary qualities which go to make a good
collector, that trained eye of the draughtsman
which enables a man to instantly detect the hall
mark of a drawing of genius, and that intimate
knowledge of the history of art which leads him to
select, instinctively as it were, what is most essen-
tial to a clear understanding of the work of the
great painters.

No one who has visited this great Belgian
painter’s studio in the Rue Ampere, in Paris, and
has seen his incomparable collection, is ever likely

* A critical estimate ol M. Wauters’ work is to be found
in The Studio for May, 1908.—Editor.

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