XLVIII HISTORICAL SKETCH OF ART
lands. The neighbourhood of France lured away, if not the painters
themselves, certainly many of their works; nor were either wealth
or love of art at this time sufficiently diffused in Belgium to allow
of the creations of native art being retained in the land. In this
respect painting was more advantageously circumstanced in Hol¬
land. There it was unmistakably associated with the people, and
to this day i7ideed is ide7itified with their habits and predi¬
lections. The greater number as well as the best of its productions
are still retained in Holland, coveted though they be by the lovers
of art from every quarter, who at last have learned to estimate
them at their true value.
Rembrandt and his Associates.
The grandeur of the 17th century school of Dutch painters has
partially obscured the excelle77cies of their predecessors, and thrown
into the shade what was of sterling value in the Dutch school be¬
fore Rembra7idt's time. It is only in recent times that research
has succeeded in bringing to light the earlier history of Dutch
painting, and has surrounded Rembrandt, who hitherto had dazzled
as the flash of a meteor in the horizon, with precursors and associates.
Art flourished in the Dutch towns as early as the 15th century,
but it would be more than difficult to separate it from the con¬
temporaneous art of Flanders ; indeed, owing to the similarity of the
two peoples, no very essential difference could have existed. When,
accordingly, at the beginning of the 16th century, painting in the
North became Italianised, the Dutch painters succumbed to the
prevailing influence. It must be noted, however, that the parti¬
cular manner which most nearly resp07ided to the national taste
was generally preferred, and most successfully imitated; that of
Caravaggio, for example, distinctly coarse as it is in its broad realism.
After Karel van Mander, Heemskerk, and Bloemart, exponents
of a more imaginative treatment, came Honthorst (Gherardo delle
Notti) a7id his associates , whose art was entirely based upon this
realism. These painters fearlessly grapple with nature; they con¬
cern themselves little about grace and beauty; they do not despise
what is vulgar a7id repulsive, if only it supplies life and energy.
Lamp-light, abounding as it does in glaring contrast, served ad¬
mirably to enforce startling effects and an impassio7ied exuberance of
expression often bordering upon distortion, and was freely resorted
to with evident relish. Along with Caravaggio, another artist had
considerable influence upon the Dutchmen, viz. Adam Elzheimer
(1574—1620), of Frankfort, who, however, lived and died in
Rome. He painted as if nature were only to be seen through a ca¬
mera obscura; but his pictures aTe harmonised by the utmost mi-
imteness and indescribable delicacy of finish , and receive their
compe7isating breadth from a masterly management of colour. Last-
man, Poelenburg, Goudt, etc.. learned from him.