In the Cathedral at Worms, over the altar, is a very old painting, in which the Virgin is represented throwing the infant Jesus into the hopper of a mill; while from the other side he issues, changed into wafers or little morsels of bread, which the priests are administering to the people.
Mathison, in his letters, thus describes a picture in a church at Constance, called the Conception of the Holy Virgin. “An old man lies on a cloud, whence he darts a vast beam, which passes through a dove hovering just below; at the end of the beam appears a large transparent egg, in which egg is seen a child in swaddling clothes, with a glory round it; Mary sits leaning in an arm-chair and opens her mouth to receive the egg!” Which are the most profane—these pictures, or the Venus Anadyomene of Apelles, the Venus of Titian, and the Leda of Correggio?
THE OLDEST OIL PAINTING EXTANT.
“The oldest oil painting now in existence, is believed to be one of the Madonna and infant Jesus in her arms, with an Eastern style of countenance. It is marked DCCCLXXXVI. (886). This singular and valuable painting formed part of the treasures of art in the old palace of the Florentine Republic, and was purchased by the Director Bencivenni from a broker in the street, for a few livres.”
The above is found quoted in many books, in proof that oil painting was known long before the time of the Van Eycks; but all these old supposed oil paintings have been proved by chemical analysis to have been painted in distemper. See vol. ii., p. 141, of this work.