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Anthony Van Dyck
by [?]

“Yes,” came the firm answer that betokened the offender was resolved on standing the consequences.

The master relieved the strained tension by a laugh, and declared that he had only discovered the work was not his own by perceiving that it was a little better than he could do. Accidents are not always unlucky–this advanced young Van Dyck at once to the place of first assistant to Peter Paul Rubens.

* * * * *

Commissions were pouring in on Rubens. With him the tide was at flood. He had been down to Paris and had returned in high spirits with orders to complete that extensive set of pictures for Marie de Medici; he also had commissions from various churches; and would-be sitters for portraits waited in his parlors, quarreling about which should have first place.

Van Dyck, his trusted first lieutenant, lived in his house. The younger man had all the dash, energy and ambition of the older one. He caught the spirit of the master, and so great was his skill that he painted in a way that thoroughly deceived the patrons; they could not tell whether Rubens or Van Dyck had done the work.

This was very pleasing to Rubens. But when Van Dyck began sending out pictures on his own account, properly signed, and people said they were equal to those of Rubens, if not better, Rubens shrugged his shoulders.

There was as little jealousy in the composition of Peter Paul Rubens as in any artistic man we can name; but to declare that he was incapable of jealousy, as a few of his o’er-zealous defenders did, is to apply the whitewash. The artistic temperament is essentially feminine, and jealousy is one of its inherent attributes. Of course there are all degrees of jealousy, but the woman who can sit serenely by and behold her charms ignored for those of another, by one who yesterday sat at her feet making ballad to her eyebrow and sighing like a furnace, does not exist on the planet called Earth.

The artist, in any line, craves praise, and demands applause as his lawful right; and the pupil who in excellence approaches him, pays him a compliment that warms the cockles of his heart. But let a pupil once equal him and the pupil’s name is anathema. I can not conceive of any man born of woman who would not detest another man who looked like him, acted like him, and did difficult things just as well. Such a one robs us of our personality, and personality is all there is of us.

The germ of jealousy in Rubens’ nature had never been developed. He dallied with no “culture-beds,” and the thought that any one could ever really equal him had never entered his mind. His conscious sense of power kept his head high above the miasma of fear.

But now a contract for certain portraits that were to come from the Rubens studio had been drawn up by the Jesuit Brothers, and in the contract was inserted a clause to the effect that Van Dyck should work on each one of the pictures.

“Pray you,” said Rubens, “to which Van Dyck do you refer? There are many of the name in Antwerp.”

The jealousy germ had begun to develop.

And about this time Van Dyck was busying himself as understudy, by making love to Rubens’ wife. Rubens was a score of years older than his pupil, and Isabella was somewhere between the two–say ten years older than Van Dyck, but that is nothing! These first fierce flames that burn in the heart of youth are very apt to be for some fair dame much older than himself. No psychologist has ever yet just fathomed the problem, and I am sure it is too deep for me–I give it up. And yet the fact remains, for how about Doctor Samuel Johnson–and did not our own Robert Louis fall desperately in love with a woman sixteen years his senior? Aye, and married her, too, first asking her husband’s consent, and furtherance also being supplied by the ex-husband giving the bride away at the altar. At least, we have been told so.