The Church of St. Jaques contains the tomb of Rubens, and many pictures, a number of them veiled and shown only for a fee.
The museum contains some of the best (most natural) paintings in Europe. The pencil of Rubens has imitated nature so perfectly that the eye almost fails to detect a flaw in the execution. The spectator may know that he only stands before a flat surface of paper daubed with paint; but his soul will be stirred, his pulse begins to beat faster and his imagination runs away with him, as he looks at such masterly executions of a skillful hand as is the “Dead Jesus” and some others in this museum. The congealed blood in his side, upon his hands and on his head, with the tears of Joseph and Mary and others, so natural that one mistakes the pictures for the reality, create feelings in the beholder such as he seldom experiences elsewhere, even in Europe. He first mourns for the dead and pities the afflicted; then he recovers himself again, and thanks the artist for having given him a key to the thoughts and feelings which he himself must have cherished while executing this painting. It is said, that when Roubiliac was erecting the Nightingale monument in Westminster Abbey, described on page 86, “he was found one day by Gayfere, the Abbey mason, standing with his arms folded, and his looks fixed on one of the knightly figures which support the canopy over the statue of Sir Francis Vere; as Gayfere approached, the enthusiastic Frenchman laid his hand on his arm, pointed to the figure, and said in a whisper, ’Hush! hush! he vil speak presently.’” Can we conceive that Rubens painted the “Dead Jesus” without sobs and tears?
I had seen acres of paintings in the Kensington Museum in London, in the Louvre in Paris and in Palais de Versailles; but it was reserved for me to see the paintings of Rubens and of Van Dyck last, so that I might know their merit.
Near the entrance of the Museum, stands a fine monument and statue to the honor and memory of
ANTONIO VAN DYCK
No one would wish to leave Antwerp without having seen the “gilded halls” by the river side, containing some of the most brilliant apartments in existence.
Antwerp has a population of about 120,000 inhabitants, and is the chief sea-port of Belgium. The Scaut Fleuve (River Scheldt) is from a quarter to a third of a mile wide at Antwerp.
Early on Tuesday morning (August 10th) I started on “a run through Holland.”