The Flemish School 3

Now let us go straight to the Van Dyck portrait of - Van der Geest," and we shall see the identical use of this scumble, liquidly and smoothly worked over the modelling of the right cheek and near the eye. The head is one of the greatest achievements of painting and characterisation in existence, and to appreciate thoroughly its beauties it should be copied, in the first instance in brown grisaille, the shadows kept warm. In the second painting, load the impasto on the forehead, nose, and other places where it occurs, with stiff white and a varnish medium ; and when this is dry, or nearly dry, paint thinly the colour of the whole, glazing the mouth and separately drawing some of the hair.
VAN DYCK, CORNELIUS VAN DER GEEST. National Gallery. One of the finest examples of his art.
National Gallery
One of the finest examples of his art.

Note in the grisaille stage how the cheek is lost and found in the white of the ruff, how the blue in the pupil is fused in places into the white of the eye, how in the thin colour stage the stumble is dragged into the dry shadows above and below the brow.
There is more to be learnt in the painting of flesh from this picture than from almost any other I know, so luminous is this masterpiece, so rich, so complete. No lips ever breathed in a picture like these. Nor eyes more liquid, except perhaps in the Van Eyck head with the red turban, to which these are not unlike in many respects. No wonder Van Dyck carried this portrait from Court to Court as an example of his power.
" The Marchese Cattaneo " has no marked impasto, but was probably prepared much in the same manner. The warm colour is too evenly toned to have been done in any other way than glazing, which can be seen in the interstices of the canvas in the neighbourhood of the chin. In the " Marchesa " the ruff is painted thinly over the dark ground, with solid pigment at its laced edge, and the red of the hair floated into the final glazes of the face.
In the small room, which contains some extraordinary drawings by Rubens, is a grisaille composition by Van Dyck of "Rinaldo and Armida " done in asphaltum, black, and white. This is squared off for enlarging. There are similar monochrome studies for portraits in Munich. The whole arrangement for the larger pictures is thought out in these small studies.
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