A Wanderer in Holland eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 339 pages of information about A Wanderer in Holland.
finds Egypt; then quickly remembers how indigenous it all is, and how characteristic of the untiring Hollander, who rules the waves even more proudly than the Briton, and has cheated them of the very ground beneath his feet.  And if sermons may be found in bricks as well as stones, one has a thought while looking at them about Christianity itself.  Certainly there is often pitiful littleness and short-comings in the individual believer, just as each separate brick of these millions is stained or worn or fractured; and yet the Christian Church, august and significant, still towers before men; even as these old blocks of clay compile vastly and undeniably in an overpowering whole.”

Among a huddle of bad and indifferent pictures in the Kunstliefde Museum is a series of four long paintings by Jan van Scorel (whom we met at Rotterdam), representing a band of pilgrims who travelled from Utrecht to Jerusalem in the sixteenth century.  Two of these pictures are reproduced on the opposite page, the principal figure in the lower one—­in the middle, in white—­being Jan van Scorel himself.  The faces are all such as one can believe in; just so, we feel, did the pilgrims look, and what a thousand pities there was no Jan van Scorel to accompany Chaucer!  These are the best pictures in Utrecht, which cannot have any great interest in art or it would not allow that tramway through its bell tower.  In the reproduction the faces necessarily become very small, but they are still full of character, and one may see the sympathetic hand of a master in all.

Jan van Scorel was only a settler in Utrecht; the most illustrious citizen to whom it gave birth was Paulus Moreelse, but the city has, I think, only one of his pictures, and that not his best.  He was born in 1571, and he died at Utrecht in 1638.  His portraits are very rich:  either he had interesting sitters or he imparted interest to them.  Opposite page 40 I have reproduced his portrait of a lady in the Ryks Museum at Amsterdam, which amongst so many fine pictures one may perhaps at the outset treat with too little ceremony, but which undoubtedly will assert itself.  It is a picture that, as we say, grows on one:  the Unknown Lady becomes more and more mischievous, more and more necessary.

The little Archiepiscopal Museum at Utrecht is as small—­or as large—­as a museum should be:  one can see it comfortably.  It has many treasures, all ecclesiastical, and seventy different kinds of lace; but to me it is memorable for the panel portrait of a woman by Jan van Scorel, a very sweet sedate face, beautifully painted, which one would like to coax into a less religious mood.

Utrecht is very proud of a wide avenue of lime trees—­a triple avenue, as one often sees in Holland—­called the Maliebaan; but more beautiful are the semi-circular Oude and Nieuwe Grachts, with their moat-like canals laving the walls of serene dignified houses, each gained by its own bridge.

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A Wanderer in Holland from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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