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In addition to their works in oil, these artists discovered a new method of painting in watercolours. They revived this branch of art by the beautiful and rich effects they produced through the novel treatment of their materials. The paper is allowed to get saturated with colours, and it requires great knowledge of the process and skill in handling to use this method to advantage. The aim is to give more of the depth and colour of oil painting, without losing the softness and richness of watercolours, and the use of body colour is allowed where necessary. The result has been a new manner of painting, and all these artists have been very successful in its use, and have produced brilliant pictures, which have much of the strength of oil painting, yet preserve the charm and the delicacy of the slighter medium, and have a peculiar quality and beauty of their own.
Thus these painters of Holland have been always seriously and earnestly at work, yet very happy in the enjoyment of life as it passed on the difficult but inspiring road they chose for their journey; wandering each one into his own special and favourite by-path, as the spirit of art led him, but all advancing to the same goal, the heart of nature, and its deeper and hidden meaning. Though this object of constant pursuit is elusive and is always escaping just as the prize seems won, though the end is never fully attained, perhaps is never attainable, the true artist still strives on, and the greater the man, and the stronger and farther his sight, the more is he able to penetrate into the mystery that curtains us around.
There is a vigorous School of Art in Holland to-day, and the painters there are following in the footsteps of the men we have been speaking of. This includes such able artists as Albert Neuhuys, who with great facility in execution, and a fine sense of colour, comes next to Josef Israels as a figure painter, B. J. Blommers, P.ter Meulen, W. Steelinck, H. J. Van de Weele, H. W. Mesdag, the wellknown marine artist, J. Kever, W. B. Tholen, Tony Offermans, Jan Van Essen, J. H. Van Mastenbroek, J. Scherrewitz, J. H. Jurres, Simon Maris, the son of William Maris, and the younger William Maris, the son of James Maris. P. J. C. Gabriel, a clever landscape artist, and Th. de Bock, at one time a pupil of James Maris, have recently passed away. De Bock was a landscapist of ability, and the best of his work is strong and broad in treatment, and full of restrained colour. He often introduces into his pictures the birch trees so common in Holland. They evidently had a great fascination for him, especially when the sunlight struck the trunks of the trees, and made them shine a glowing white amid the prevailing green of the landscape. Though his early pictures are suggestive of his master, James Maris, and though he is sometimes slightly reminiscent of Corot, still de Bock developed a distinct and original vein of his own, and by the straightforwardness and sincerity of his work he has made a position for himself in the art annals of Holland.
In writing, however, about modern Dutch artists, we have only considered the seven great painters who came among the first in order of time, and by their originality and striking characters completely changed the ideas of art that were prevalent in their coun
try, and turned the artistic current into its present channels. They are the men of genius who brought about the revival of Dutch art, and whatever may be the opinions held by different people concerning this phase of art, there can be no doubt that these seven men are responsible for its existence, — Bosboom, Israels, Mauve, Weissenbruch, and the three Marises. While we are perhaps too near the time of the production of the works of their successors to judge as to their value, we are farther removed from the founders of the school, and are in a somewhat better position to form an opinion of them and of the pictures they painted. In the following chapters an account is given of each of these seven artists, and an estimate of their work, and what it means. This does not pretend to any finality of judgment, but is only the expression of the opinions arrived at by one who is fond of their pictures and has derived a great deal of pleasure and enjoyment from the opportunities he has had of seeing and considering them.