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MURNER


645


MURNER


sense of fine arrangement, of a happy symmetry and harmonious balance of grouping, as in his Holy Fami- lies, in the Louvre, is a quality which he alone seems to have possessed in his age.

Murillo was a great painter of sentiment. Like Rembrandt, he understood tliat the true language of the Gospel was the language of the people. Like him, he especially delighted in the merciful and tender as- pects of the Gospel. Nothing can be more touch- ing than the "Prodigal Son" of the Hermitage — not even Rembrandt's treatment of that subject — or his sketches on the same parable in the Prado. Like Rembrandt, he loves to bring the sacred truths near to us, to make us see them as intimate and familiar real- ities, to show us the Divine all about .us in our lives. Murillo, no doubt, has the defects of these qualities. He never suffered enough. His optimism, his bon- homie, his grace, lack the seriousness that trials should have imparted. His serene smile lacks that intangi- ble quality of having been through sorrow. Failing this experience, the soul tends somewhat to levity and to preciosity.

His pre-eminence as, superlatively, the painter of the Immaculate Conception seems to have been fore- shadowed in the circumstances of his birth. At Se- ville, in 1617, the dogma of the Immaculate Concep- tion was solemnly promulgated for Spain; and this splendid celebration took jilace in Murillo's native city only a few months before his birth. The pictorial treatment of the subject had long been determined, in its main outlines, by a vision said to have been vouch- safed to a Franciscan of the sixteenth century, and a hundred examples of it are found among earlier paint- ers. The mere theological dogma of the Immaculate Conception — exemption from the original taint — necessarily eluded all material representation: the equivalent chosen was the theme of the Assumption. The body is seen exempt from all the laws of gravita- tion. Murillo has treated this theme more than twenty times, without repeating himself or ever weary- ing: six versions at Madrid, six others at Seville, the famous Louvre picture (dated 1678), and still others scattered over Europe — all these did not exhaust the painter's enthusiasm or his power of expressing apoth- eosis.

It is a remarkable fact that these pictures, which represent the most transcendently spiritual action, are the most thoroughly feminine paintings in Spain. But for religious representations of the Blessed Virgin and the saints, indeed, woman is almost absent from Spanish painting. The most famous portraits of women, the infantas or meninns of Velasquez, retain nothing of feminine charm: they are simulacra and phantoms without verisimilitude. Side by side with these apparitions, Murillo's Virgins produce a com- forting effect of relief. Here are women, true and vital, witli I he most thoroughly external charms of their sex. In I lii'in I he impulse of love rises to ecstasy, and with- out Muiiilo Spanish painting would be deprived of its most beautiful love poems. Many persons, it is true, see in this style of painting the symptoms of decadence in Spanish religious sentiment. This question of the soundness or unsoundness of his devotional tendencies cannot be treated here, but it may at least be claimed for Murillo that his art — notably in these Immaculate Conceptions — is no less genuinely religious than the dry productions of, say, a Philippe de Champaigne.

Palomimo, Noticias, Elogios y Vidas de los Pintores (Madrid, 1715-24); Cean Bermudez, Diccionario historico de los mds ilus- tres profesores (Madrid, 1800) : VlARDOT, Notices sur les principaux peintrei de I'Espagne (Paris, 1839); Passavant, Die christliche Kunst in Spanien (Leipzig, 1853); Tubino, Murillo, su ipoca, su vida, sus cuadros (Seville, 1864); CrRTis. Velasquez and Murillo (London, 1883); 3tj&ti, ' Murillo (Leipzig. 1892); Knackfdsb, Murillo (Leipzig, 1897); Calvaebt, Murillo (London, 1908).

Louis Gillet.

Mumer, Thomas, greatest German satirist of the sixteenth century, b. at Oberehnheim, Alsace, 24 Dec,


1475; d. there, 1537. During the epoch immediately preceding and during the early years of the Reforma- tion, three figures are especially prominent among the loyal champions of the Church in Germany, namely Johann Geiler von Kaysersberg, his friend .Sebastian, the well-known satirist, and Thomas Murner, the ablest and most formidable of Luther's opponents. In 1481 Murner's parents, pious people in comfortable circumstances, settled in Strasburg, where his father practised as an advocate. Thomas, who was of deli- cate health, entered the Franciscan Order at the age of sixteen. After his ordination, he began his restless and unsettled life, visiting the most celebrated univer- sities either as a student or as a teacher. He studied theology at Paris, philosophy and mathematics at Cracow, and law at Freiburg, where he was awarded the degree of Bachelor of Theology in 1500. Six years later, when again at Freiburg, he was made Doctor of Theology. In 1518 he graduated Doctor of Laws at Basle. His impulse towards a roving life was due, not only to his love of learning, but also to his mission as a preacher and his zeal for the interests of his order. From 1519 he took part in the controversies which began with the appearance of Luther as a reformer. In 1523 he went to England and was cordially received by Henry VIII, whose book on the sacraments he had translated into German the previous year. On his return to Strasburg, he found himself compelled to fly before the rebellious peasants and seek refuge at Lu- cerne. Here he became the most determined adver- sary of Zwingli. Together with Dr. Eck, he took part in the religious discussion at Baden in 1526. When Lucerne was taken in the first War of Kappel (1529), Murner was to have been given up. He managed, however, to escape, and, after many wanderings, was appointed pastor in his birth-place, where he spent the rest of his days.

As an author, Murner was at first an enthusiastic friend of Humanism. In Cracow he lectured on liter- ary a;sthetics, and in Freiburg on Vergil, whose "jEneid" he had translated. In token of gratitude for his appointment as poet-laureate in 1505, he dedi- cated this translation to Emperor Maximilian. In his "Ludus studentum Friburgensium " (1511), Murner explains the rules of prosody and quantity after the fashion of a game of chess and backgammon. This method he had already employed four years before at Cracow in his ' ' Chartiludium logicEe ", but his applica- tion of it to jurisprudence provoked the derision of the lawyers. His sympathy with Humanism did not save him from the resentment of the Alsacian Humanists, when he attacked Wimpfeling's "Germania", which aimed at proving that Alsace had never belonged to France. Murner's defence of his position, the "Ger- mania nova", was suppressed by the Stra.sburg au- thorities: a further attempt at justifying himself against the attacks of the partisans of Winipfeling also proved unsuccessful, and did not jirevcnt his opponents from distorting his name into M loiiar (growling fool). Even, in this early controversy, Murner had shown a sharp eye for his opponents' weaknesses, and a marked gift for exposing them to ridicule: in his subsequent writings, he is revealed as a master of satire. Just as Geiler illustrated his popular sermons with compari- sons drawn from everyday life, Murner compares, in his "Andachtige geistliche Badefahrt" (1511), the for- giveness of sins to a hydropathic treatment. In " Nar- renbeschworung" and "Schelmenzunft" he deals with the same subject as Brant's "Narrenschiff", but his work is entirely original in treatment and far surpasses the earlier work in its popular appeal, its wit, and its vigour — degenerating, indeed, at times into coarse- ness. His subsequent satires, "Gauchmatt" (Fools' Meadow) and "Die Miihie von SchwindeLsheim und GretmijUerin .lahrzeit", in 5yhich he severely criticizes a special kind of fools, the "fools of love", form a kind of sequel to the "Schelmenzunft". There is no