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In the picture before us, one of the finest productions of the pencil of Rubens, the miraculous effects of the intercession of St. Roch, in favour of those who were afflicted with the plague, are admirably delineated. The Saint, clothed in the habit of a pilgrim, prostrates himself before Jesus Christ, who shews him these words written upon a tablet held by an Angel, Eris in peste patronus. St. Roch places his hand upon his bosom, and testifies his gratitude to God for the blessing afforded him. In an inferior part of the picture, a group of persons, ready to expire, manifest the most lively hopes of escaping from death, on perceiving their protector. An aged woman, clothed in a long white drapery, contemplates with admiration the celestial group. Another woman feels herself revived; while several men, who are equally overwhelmed with this dreadful calamity, express, in the midst of their sufferings, the confidence which governs their minds.
The execution of this chef d'oeuvre is worthy of the genius of Rubens. This immortal artist has, perhaps, produced nothing finer than the diseased group: their heads, their attitudes, are perfect models of sentiment and energy. But admirable as these figures are, taken individually, that of the young woman, which immediately strikes the eye, fixes, in a particular manner, our attention. It is
impossible to pourtray, with greater truth, the affecting and sublime idea of great physical suffering, contrasted with emotions of the warmest sympathy, or to express with more precision the fervour of hope, surrounded by the horrors of death. To this head, that of Mary de Medici, at the moment of the birth of Louis XIII. is solely to be compared; and Rubens was perhaps the only artist capable of executing the one or the other. This picture is designed with that energy, and executed with all that fire of pencil, which characterize the works of Rubens. The colouring is perfectly correct, and admirably varied. In the midst, however, of beauties of the first order, it is perceptible that the figures of our Saviour and the Angel are somewhat too heavy. In other respects they, like the rest, are full of life and motion.
The draperies are, in general, of a vivid tint, but harmoniously united. The cloak of Christ is red; the tunic of the Angel of a bright yellow; St. Roch is habited in brown and violet; the robe of the young woman is a pale red; the dress of the man who supports her in his arms is of dark blue, verging upon green. The other afflicted persons are enveloped in white linen, or in woollen covering, whose tones accord with their livid. and discoloured carnations; but of which the demi-tints and the shadows have considerable force and vigour. The back ground represents a species of hospital. The figures are of the natural size.
Although in our various strictures on the works of Rubens that have enriched this publication, we have endeavoured to give the student an idea of the peculiar beauties and defects of this great artist; we are induced