PETER PAUL RUBENS 1577-1640 Flemish School
DIEGO RODRIGUEZ DE SILVA VELASQUEZ 1599-1660 Spanish School
THE student of art, when he reaches the period of the seventeenth century, turns a sharp corner. He has been traveling for three centuries in Italy, with brief visits at long intervals to Flanders and Germany, the second of his trips to the latter including a visit to England. But, as he turns the corner of the seventeenth century, Italy is left behind, Spain attracts his attention to the west, while far to the north Holland and, a second time, Flanders beckon him.
For in Italy the last of the great artists passed away with Tintoretto. The country itself had become the prey of despots who were in the hire of foreign rulers; and the loss of political liberty was accompanied by lower social standards, by intellectual and artistic decline. There were still clever painters, but they were little men, without originality, content to reproduce the manner of their great predecessors; copying chiefly their weaknesses; trying by extravagances to disguise the absence of originality in themselves.
At this period, to find something vital in art, -- something, that is to say, that grows and ripens because of the