||IN THE NETHERLANDS.
The same may be said of the majority of genre painters of the
southern Netherlands. 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 Bel-
gium to allow of the creations of native art being retained in the
land. In this respect painting was more advantageously circum-
stanced in Holland. There it was unmistakably associated with the
people, and the greater number as well as the best of its pro-
ductions 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 Contemporaries.
The grandeur of the 17th century school of Dutch painters has
partially obscured the excellencies of their predecessors, and thrown
into the shade what was of sterling value in the Dutch school be-
fore Rembrandt'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 Italianized, the Dutch painters succumbed to the
prevailing influence. It must be noted, however, that the parti-
cular manner which most nearly responded 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 (p.lii), Heemskerck, and Bloemaert, exponents
of a more imaginative treatment, came Honthorst (Gherardo della
Notte) and 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 and 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 impassioned 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 Elsheimer
(1578-1620) of Frankfort, who, however, lived and died in
Rome. He painted as if nature were to be seen only through a
camera obscura; but his pictures are harmonized by the utmost
minuteness and indescribable delicacy of finish, and receive their