VIENNA IN LONDON
By IRIS CONLAY THE Vienna treasures, a magni ficent selection of which are now in the 'late Gallery, were collected through no conscious planning of any single individual. " No premeditated, logical plan shaped their formation," the directors of the Vienna gallery pointedly remind us in the catalogue, " their growth could be compared with some sort of natural process like that of an old tree. To be more exact they should be described as the product of the entire life of a great race whose heads for four centuries occupied the first throne of Christendom. They reflect the destiny, the tastes, the love of splendour of this race and, above all, its deep love and understanding of the arts,"
All this is indeed true. This collection has a unity which is unmistakable, and the character which the Holy Roman Empire has stamped it ' with has set the standard of taste for Europe ever once. On the one hand barbaric and sensuous, on the other restrained, profoundly thoughtful and reverent, the most perfect balance man has yet achieved.
Enter the centre gallery hung high with rich and subtly-shaded tapestries; wander between the cases of gold and silver vessels wrought by such incomparable masters as Cellini; see the rock crystal goblets dazzling and intricate. the ivories and jewels set in elaborate baroque designs, so many inspired by religious themes. Be delighted, and even amused, by the pageant armour which never was meant to go to war; examine in detail the illuminated MSS., the clocks and astronomical instruments; enjoy the fascinating human touches supplied by the painter's pattern book and the handwriting pattern book. the playing cards and the box and counters of "Tric-Trac," a medieval equivalent, I suppose, of the game of draughts. When these treasures have set the stage of your mind in the rich decor of the times. then look at the pictures collected into the galleries off the main hall.
With the exception of a few superb primitives, gathered together in a tiny room, the pictures are mainly of the maturer schools. Venetian art, for instance, the most
complete expression of the Italian renaissance, is represented in all its confident freedom. Beginning with Ciiorgone, whose Laura " is is portrait of such living power that it haunts the imagination when the impression of many larger and more lurid portraits have faded, passing to Titian, the great master of character. to Tintoretto and to Veronese and to Bassano—there alone is a unique study of a great school. Backed up by examples of these painters' work at the Munich collection in the National Gallery, we, in England this summer, have opportunity unparalleled.
Titian's " Pope Paul HI "—a head of dignity and strength emerging from a shell of a body near to death in its weakness, that is one of his many portraits to remember. Tintoretto's "Susanna and the Elders" —in which the tint of flesh illumines the whole scene in a cold pearly light—that is another experience of a picture. Lotto's man's head is so modern in its expression of doubtful discontent that the artist might have made a life-study of Freud. The night-scene of Bassano's "Shepherds in Adoration "—yet another breathlessly intense masterpiece.
Leaving the Venetian for the Dutch school there are a thousand
discoveries to be made. Seek for Neer's " Fishing by Moonlight," a romantically nostalgic landscape. Admire Mieris's observation and quiet cynicism in "The Doctor's Visit." Don't slide past Beyeren's "Still Life," it is sheer perfection in its small way.
Among the Flemish pictures are two unforgettable " Velvet " Breughels, " A Mountain Landscape with the Temptation of Christ " and " The Adoration of the Kings." Both, as the title of the first suggests, subject the religious theme to the material surroundings, building remarkable compositions out of innumerable details with a jewel-like intensity of colour.
But what can be said before the Rubens, the van Dycks, the Holbeins, the Rembrandts, the Velazquez, the Durer? Obviously nothing adequate that has not been said before. See them, therefore, for yourselves. Your art critic knows when to be quiet.
MAINLY ABOUT FRUIT MANY of the best and earliest strawberries will he spoiled by birds even if not entirely eaten, if ee do not cover them promptly with netting. The nets should not be kept in position longer than necessary, otherwise the beds will become infested with neglected weeds. Allow a very few runners to form on young one-year old plants for replacements, and remove the others. Loganberries and raspberries are sending up suckers which give next year's fruit. They should he carefully tied in, especially loganberries, which have brittle stems. Blackberry suckers are vigorous, but not quite so necessary, because the plant bears freely on shoots formed from moderately old wood; so it does not pay to allow too many suckers on brambles. Gooseberries are ready for a first picking in this early year, and currants will not be long. Grape vines should have their bunches severely thinned with long-bladed
.cissors. The bunches should lose about three-quarters of their berries if the job is done well. Apples and pears will soon cast off a number of small fruits; they could not bring to maturity the enormous number they set. E. J. KING.