Table of contents
As it is utterly impossible to classify these portraits in any systematic order, according to generally recognized rules, I have therefore, arranged them in alphabetical sequence, so that any one desired may be readily found.
THE ALBANY PORTRAIT.This picture bears the inscription ANNO 1492 ÆT. 23. It was probably painted by same Spanish artist in commemoration of the first anniversary of the discovery, and the age of the artist was twenty three years. Mr. Curtis' supposition that it purports to represent Columbus at the age of twenty-three years is entirely untenable. A cursory inspection of the picture shows that Columbus is represented as a man of about fifty years. The picture itself is of very little value, but it is very old and it was presented to the State in 1784, by Mrs. Maria Farmer, a grandchild of Jacob Leisler, Governor of the Province of New York, in 1689. It is hung to-day in the Senate Chamber at Albany, and is considered the oldest picture of Columbus in the United States.
ARCHIVES OF THE INDIES.This picture is a duplicate of the one in the Veragua Palace at Madrid, taken many years afterwards. It presents Columbus clad in armor as a young man with a pointed mustache; he also wears a ruff and slashed trowsers.
I remember having read in Ford that "this picture is quite as apocryphal, and by no means so beautiful as that of Parmigianino at Naples."
THE BERWICK-ALBA PORTRAIT.In the gallery of the Duke of Berwick-Alba, in Madrid, is a magnificent painting representing Columbus. The dress shows that it is a work of the seventeenth century, and though it is very beautiful, is entirely untrustworthy. It is very large, and shows Columbus
seated in a very rich chair of state. Carderera describes it thus: "He is clothed in a red tunic sprinkled with golden flowers, over which he wears a kind of ducal mantle richly embroidered with the same metal, with an ermine tippet on the shoulders. He holds a "carried" sword. I have never seen any copy of this picture just as it is. It was engraved by the famous artist, Rafael Esteva, in a vigorous and masterly manner, following the drawing made by the painter Galiano from the aforesaid picture. But there are some
very curious points about this engraving; the first is, that the original is seated and holds a sword in his hand, while in the engraving he is shown standing with the sword sheathed and his hand on his hip, and there is same change in the background. The second, that at the foot there is the following epigraph: "The original picture was painted in America, by Vanloo." No painter of that name was ever in America, nor was one of that name born within two centuries after the death of Columbus.
In this picture Columbus looks very young; he wears a mustache, with a small tuft of beard on the under lip; bis hair is arranged in a very "dudish" fashion, and he wears the indispensable fluted ruff and ruffles.
Mr. Curtis says that there is a copy in oil of this portrait in the Lenox Library of New York, to which it was presented by Mr. James Lenox; but the only portrait existing in the Lenox Library is the one painted by Mr. Daniel Huntington in 1847. According to Mr. Huntington himself, from whom I have obtained this information, through the courtesy of Mr. Eames, the Assistant Librarian of the Lenox, "it is not a copy at all, but was based oil a comparison of the engraved portraits, and therefore it really has no historical value." (Cut No. 27.)
THE JUAN DE BORGOÑA PORTRAIT.The picture said to be in the Charter Room of the Cathedral at Toledo, is supposed by same to have been painted by Juan de Borgoña, in 1519, thirteen years after the death of Columbus.
Curtis says that there is an engraving of it in one of the English editions of Irving, but I have been unable to find it.
[page 47] I must state, however, that Pi y Margall, in his History of Painting in Spain, says "that such a picture does not exist there," and furthermore, "that there is not the slightest evidence that such a picture ever existed."
THE BOSSI MEDALLION.In Bossi's La Vera Patria e La Vita de Cristoforo Colombo, there is a pretty little medallion representing Columbus. I believe it is taken from the De Bry medallion with some slight changes, as all the hard features are greatly softened. He also reproduces the large De Bry portrait. This medallion is entitled to no more credit than both the portraits of De Bry.
THE DE BRY PORTRAIT.In the introduction to Part V. of the Voyages, which is the second part of the Voyage of Benzoni, there is a beautiful engraving, which many critics think is simply a copy with same variations of the Versailles portrait. It was first published in 1585, and has been reproduced in a11 the editions of De Bry and in many other works.
It represents Columbus with a braad heavy face, which is entirely Flemish in character, with a big, flat nose, and the half arranged symmetrically in horizontal rows of curls, with a cap and the conventional dress. It will be seen immediately, that the features do not agree with the descriptions whieh we have of him.
De Bry claims that the original was painted from life by order of the Catholic Kings, before Columbus sailed on his first voyage of discovery, and that this original was stolen from the Hall of the Council of the Indies and taken to the Netherlands. He says also that as he had had the good fortune to obtain a copy of this portrait from a friend, who had received it from the artist himself, he desired to share his pleasure with his readers, and to this end, he caused it to be engraved on copper in a reduced form by his son.
Unluckily, all this is simply an advertisement to push the sale of his book, as the type of the face, the dress and style of this portrait, show that they are not of Spanish origin.
Mr. Rio says that it is not probable that in the camp before Granada or in the port of Palos, painters should be numerous, or that they should have any desire to portray Columbus, when nobody took the trouble to paint Boabdil, especially as the poor Genoese was considered to be somewhat of a visionary.
As the engraving is really a beautiful one and De Bry's works had a great reputation, it has been reproduced in a number of works, and it is to be regretted that even now it is presented as an authentic portrait of Columbus in some editions of Washington Irving, and in the last edition published in London of the Historie of Ferdinand Columbus.
This portrait is the one which represents Columbus with two warts upon [page 48] the right cheek. Carderera says that these warts appeared only in the earliest prints, and that they were afterwards erased, but in my edition of De Bry, and in all those which I have seen, I have invariably found the warts. (Cut No. 28.)
THE DE BRY VIGNETTE.The medallion in De Bry (see cut No. 29), is truly beautiful from an artistic point of view, but is absolutely different in character from the large engraving by the same artist. This little picture
looks more like Columbus, and I believe the artist followed, to a certain extent, the Capriolo or de Pas engravings.
A careful comparison with the little medallion published by Bossi leads me to believe that the Bossi portrait is taken from De Bry's, with same alterations to make it appear an original engraving. (Cut No. 29.)
THE CARTHAGENA PORTRAIT.Mr. Jomard, in a veryable essay on the portraits of Columbus, enlarged upon the great importance of the picture supposed to exist in the Navy Yard, at Carthagena, Spain. On petition of Mr. Carderera, the Spanish Government ordered it to be Sent to Madrid for examination. This order could not be complied with, as within the memory of man no such picture had ever been in the Navy Yard; and, furthermore, no mention could be found in any inventory of the Yard that any such portrait had ever existed there, nor is any reference made to it in any Spanish work
THE CLADERA ENGRAVING.This engraving is a half-length picture of Columbus, as a young man with a mustache and goatee. Re is clothed in full armor, and wears a fluted ruff and wristbands, which were not worn until half a century after bis death. A silk sash passes over the right shoulder and crosses the body. The right hand only is visible in the act of pointing to his discoveries on a globe. This globe is held in the left hand. His finger hinders a view of the West Indies, but in the portion of the globe which is visible all the coast of America, from the Gulf of Mexico to Greenland, is perfectly shown. The mouths of the St. Lawrence as well as Hudson's and Baffin's Bays are plainly to be seen, which proves that the original from which it was taken must have been posterior to the seventeenth century, or that the artist who copied it was guilty of gross anachronisms.
Cladera says, page 32 : "The portrait of Christopher Columbus has been drawn from an original full-length painting about two yards long, which was the property of his son Fernando, the character of which warrants us in the belief that it was painted at the beginning of the sixteenth century. This picture is in the house of José Colon, of His Majesty's Council, who gave permission to copy it. It agrees whith the descriptions which Don Fernando has given of the features of his father."
It was painted by Antonio Carnicero and engraved by Simon Brieva. Carnicero was born in 1748. He studied at Rome, was painter to the King, and died in 1814. The engraving is beautiful; but, notwithstanding what [page 50] Cladera says of the artistic merit of the original painting from which it was taken, it is absolutely worthless as a historical portrait.
There is a great similarity between this picture and the one in the house of the Duke of Berwick-Alba, which I reproduce elsewhere. The original of this picture is, according to Mr. Curtis, in the gallery of the Duke of Veragua.
Mr. Curtis, by an oversight, says that it was engraved by Carnicero and that the signature is, Bart. Vasque La Grabó. I am sure that this has been [page 52] caused by the carelessness of the amanuensis, as Mr. Curtis had my own copy of Cladera, which reads very clearly, "A. Carnicero del," "Simn. Brieva sculp." (See the Vasquez Portrait.) (Cut No. 30.)
COLUMBINA.The portrait in this famous library, founded by Fernando Colon, the natural son of the Admiral, was presented to the library about half a century ago, by King Louis Philippe of France. The attitude is one of contemplation, and though it follows the description of Columbus, it is easy to see that it is a work of imagination. This, besides the evidence of its being modern, renders it of very small importance, whatever may be its artistic merit. The name of the artist who painted it is Mr. Charles Legros.
THE CONCORD PORTRAIT.All I know atout this portrait is what Mr. Curtis says respecting it in his article in The Cosmopolitan Magazine. He remarks that "an alleged portrait of Columbus hangs in the public libraryat Concord, Massachusetts, but it bears no resemblance to the traditional appearance of Columbus. It was presented to the library in 1873, by Mr. A. P. Chamberlaine, and is a copy by Raphael Mengs of an alleged Spanish portrait. It was formerly in the col1ection of Letizia Bonaparte, Napoleon's mother'Madame Mère'at Rome, and was purchased by Mr. Chamberlaine after her death. There is a legend that Mengs, the artist, left a record somewhere that he made a copy of a portrait of Columbus by Titian, but this record cannot now be found, nor is there any evidence that Titian and Columbus ever met."
BOL OR ERMITAGE.Among the superb works of art which make up this magnificent gallery, founded by Catherine of Russia, and now the property of the Czars, this pretended portrait of Columbus, painted by Ferdinand Bol, a Flemish artist born in 1610, and who died in 1681, occupies a very conspicuous position. He was the best disciple of Rembrandt, whom he copied so faithfully that many of his works have been attributed to the hand of the Master. I regret to say that in the catalogue of the Ermitage Gallery I have not been able to find a description of such an important picture. Mention only is made among the other works of Bol, of a "Portrait of a man with a black hat." Can this be the pretended Columbus?
THE LEOPOLD FLAMENG PORTRAIT.In The Life of Columbus by the Marquis du Belloy (Paris), there is a splendid etching by the famous artist Leopold Flameng, assuming to represent Christopher Columbus. The book also includes many other superb etchings of incidents in the life of the Admiral. Unhappily, their artistic merit is in inverse ratio to their historical worth. It seems incredible that so talented an artist as Flameng should not have been more accurate in portraying the types and dress, as well as the
accessories of the period, his celebrated etchings not having the slightest resemblance to any thing Spanish.
A mere glance at the masterly etching (No. 31) will show that this tall, commanding man with the plumed cap, cuirass and cloak with loose sleeves, and with his hand on the hilt of his sword, may be some condottiere of the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries, but could not possibly be Christopher Columbus. Yet the picture is so beautiful, and the book bas been translated into so many languages, generally accompanied by these illustrations, that I must yield to the temptation of presenting it to my readers. (Cut No. 31.)
FONTAINE.Danlos published this portrait, which has been painted by Fontaine, and engraved by Pedro Colón, Duke of Veragua. I do not agree with Mr. Curtis, who believes it is a copy of the portrait in the Naval Museum, with a more cheerful expression. I believe it is a copy from the portrait in the house of the Duke of Veragua.
THE LUCCA GIORDANO PORTRAIT.There is in a palace at Genoa a beautiful picture of Columbus by Lucca "Fa Presto." It represents Columbus as almost a boy with curly hair, attired in the garb of a Franciscan, with a chain around the neck and holding a quadrant in the right hand. The lineaments do not correspond in any respect to those of the Admiral; and, although the painting is charming, it has not the least value as a portrait. (Cut No. 32.)
I will say that, as compared with the Edwards' picture, which, as I say elsewhere, is the ugliest portrait of the Admiral I have seen, this is the one in which he looks the handsomest. (Cut No. 32.)
THE HAVANA PORTRAIT.This picture was presented in 1796 (and not two hundred years ago, as Mr. Curtis says), by the Duke of Veragua to the municipality of Havana, as a loken of gratitude for the honors rendered by the people of Havana to the supposed remains of bis ancestor, Christopher Columbus, on their arrival in that city during the preceding year.
I have often seen it. It is a most miserable daub, and is in very bad condition. No one can believe that it is intended to be a portrait of Columbus. He is represented as clothed in the garb of a familiar of the Inquisitionhas long flowing hair, pointed mustache and very small goatee, with black eyes and protruding underlip; he also wears a ridiculous big white collar and cuffs. He holds in the left hand a globe. The inscription, "Por Castilla y por Leon .Nuevo Mundo ayo Colon," is in one of the corners. Same people believe it to he the picture of the natural son of the Admiral, Don Fernando, who was a churchman. It bears not the slightest resemblance to any other old picture of Columbus.
The painting was originally 80 by 60 centimètres in size.
Happily for his posthumous reputation, the name of the painter of this daub is absolutely unknown. (Cut No. 33.)
THE HERRERA PORTRAIT.This is taken trom the French edition of Herrera, and bas been reproduced in Bryant & Gay's History of the United States. I believe it is taken from the Montanus portrait. It was also engraved in the English edition of Herrera, translated by John Stevens and published in London, in 6 vols., 1725-1726: under the name of A General History of America. As a portrait, it is absolutely worthless, but it has been reproduced in many other works.
HERRERA, (VIGNETTE).This portrait was published in the edition of Herrera, dated 1601, and looks very much like the De Bry vignette, and probably they are of the same origin.
This vignette was reproduced in the edition of Barcia (1726-1730), but I do not agree with Winsor when he states that the one in Bryant & Gay is a reproduction of this vignette.
HULL.I am indebted to the kindness of Mr. Curtis tor a copyof this beautiful portrait, and as all I know regarding it is what Mr. Curtis states in his able articles in The Cosmopolitan, I will therefore transcribe the paragraphs relating to it verbatim:
"Miss Esther Hull, of Danbury, Connecticut, has a portrait of Columbus [page 55] which is of evident antiquity, but there is no knowledge of its age or origin. It represents Columbus of middle age, with a dove resting upon his shoulder, and there is a companion piece of Amerigo Vespucci by the same artist. All the owner knows of their history is that many years ago they were left for storage with Mr. William Jaggers of New York, with several other paintings. In 1850, the owner wrote Mr. Jaggers from a western State that he had met with reverses and desired to sell his collection. The two portraits were purchased by the father of Miss Hull, who brought them to Danbury. At the left hand upper corner of each canvas is an inscription. On one is, 'Amerigo Vespucci;' on the other 'Cristoforo Colombo,' which indicates that the artist was an Italian."
THE HUNTINGTON PORTRAIT.The portrait in the Lenox Gallery, New York, is one of the best works from the brush of the distinguished artist, David Huntington. It represents the Admiral in a three-quarter length, with a full beard and wearing a cap, and a fur-trimmed mantle. In one hand he holds a scroll, while the other rests on a small globe placed on a table. Notwithstanding its artistic merit, Mr. Huntington himself has stated that the picture is one compiled from a comparison of different engravings, and it has therefore no historical value. (See Berwick-Alba portrait.)
JOMARD.This superb picture, discovered by Jomard in the gallery at Vicenzo, in Italy, in 1844, is supposed by some critics to be the work of Titian, or of one of his disciples, Domenico Campagnola, but there is no proof that Titian or Campagnola ever met Columbus; and furthermore the picture shows by its details that it was painted many years after the death of the Admiral. I copy from Mr. Curtis' interesting article what Jomard says atout it: "The Jomard portrait is so called in honor of a distinguished scholar and critic,
Mr. Jomard, for many years librarian of the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, who discovered it in a gallery at Vicenza, Italy, in 1844. 'I saw it by chance,' says Mr. Jomard (in Bulletin de la Société de Géographie Troisième Série, Tome III., 1843), 'though I was attracted by the ancient appearance of the painting, by its beauty, and by the noble character of the whole figure. Drawing nearer to the painting, what was my surprise when I saw in old gold letters of the style of the time, on the right angle, these two words: Christoforus Columbus. It will easily be believed that I lost no time in collecting all information apt to enlighten me as to its origin.
Thanks to the kindness of the noble and learned Count Orti Manava, Podestá of Verona, I was soon in possession of all facts. It will be easily understood why such a treasure remained so long unknown. The family owning it kept it carefully, although unaware of its importance. The last member bequeathed it to his native city and at his death it was placed in the public gallery."
Carderera believes that this picture, whoever the artist may he, was painted at the beginning of the seventeenth century, about the time of Philip III, as the dress is in exact accordance with the costume of that period, and that the name on it, Christophorus Columbus, was added at a later date, and is simply an imposture.
Jomard claims that this picture embodies all the characteristics of Columbus, and that the anachronisms are the work of later times; but this is carrying his contention to the verge of absurdity.
Though this picture bas been reproduced in many modern works, I do not think that any one to-day considers it as authentic. (Cut No. 37.)
JULIUS ROMANUS.In the Municipal Palace at Genoa there is a large picture containing two medallions, one representing Columbus and the other Americus Vespucius: the artist was undoubtedly a great master, and by common consent, this picture has been attributed to Julio Romano, who died in 1546. It looks somewhat like the Crispin de Pas cut and may be a copy of same sketch made in Spain: yet I fail to find in it the well-known features of the Discoverer. (Cut No. 38.)
THE MENGS PORTRAIT.I have sometimes read that Raphael Mengs painted a portrait of Columbus in the last century, which was copied from an old master and some even say that this old master was Titian. I have carefully examined the catalogue of the works of Mengs, as well as many biographies of this famous artist, but have failed to find reference to any such portrait. The Concord portrait, already mentioned, has been supposed to be this much sought-for painting, but so far as I can gather this picture cannot possibly be the work of such a master as Mengs.
MONTANUS.Opposite page 44, of my copy of Dr. O. Dapper, Die Unbekante Neue Welt, Amsterdam, 1673, there is a splendid copper plate engraving purporting to represent Columbus. It is supposed to be a copy from a picture painted at Nuremberg, in 1661. It first appeared in the Dutch edition of Montanus in 1671: then in Dapper, who pirated it from Montanus, and also in Ogilby's America. I believe Mr. Curtis is perfectly right in considering the portrait published in Herrera and adopted by Bryant as a copy of the Montanus engraving, with same slight changes. (Cut No. 39.)
THE MUÑOZ PORTRAIT.The frontispiece of the Historia del Nuevo Mundo, is a copy from the original of Mariano Maella and was not painted one hundred years after the death of Columbus, as Mr. Curtis erroneously says. Maella died in 1819, and was the General Director of the Academy of San
Fernando, and Court Painter to the King up to the time of his death. Maella followed the painting in the gallery of Veragua or that in the Archives of the Indies, reproducing it with the cuirass and ruff. This portrait is very similar to that of Cladera, even in the wearing of the sash across the breast. It has a heavy mustache and a small, full, closely clipped beard. It has been reproduced a number of times, with changes dictated more or less by the fancy of the artist. According to Carderera, it is not deserving of much credit. I have about one dozen copies of it and they all differ, more or less.
[page 61] Mr. Curtis says that a copy of this picture was presented in 1818, by R. W. Mead to the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts, but it has disappeared. (Cut No. 40.)
THE PARMIGIANINO PORTRAIT.Perhaps the most beautiful of all the pretended portraits of the Admiral now in existence, is the one at Naples, in the Real Museo Borbonico, which is the work of the chaste and correct brush of Francesco Mazzuola, better known as "il Parmigianino."
This superb panel has challenged the admiration of all who have seen it, on account of its beauty, and has been reproduced everywhere. Unhappily, it is a purely imaginative work, and as Becchi justly says, in his famous work on the Real Museo Borbonico, is not deserving of the slightest confidence.
Carderera, who has examined it carefully, does not believe that the artist ever intended it to represent Columbus. Not even the slightest point of resemblance is to be found between the descriptions of the Admiral and the face in this painting. It represents a courtier of insinuating manners and forbidding appearance. The difference is still greater between the dress and austere aspect of Columbus and the elaborate and effeminate ornaments of this personage, whose head also is entirely different in shape from that of the Admiral. The hair is arranged in elegant and symmetrical curls, which, as well as the long beard, are most carefully combed and crimped, a thing very rarely seen in the time of Ferdinand and Isabella in Italy and Spain. Still more out of fashion is the red cap, slashed after the Dutch mode, and with feathers and gilt button. The same thing can be said of all the rest of his attire and even of the ring which he wears.
Carderera says that one of the causes which has given rise to the pretension that this picture represents Columbus is the clasp on the cap, on which is the representation of a ship passing beyond the Pillars of Hercules. Even in case this is true, it may be simply one of the devices commonly used by notable persons of the time, for whom Jovius, Ruscelli, Capaccio and other famous Italians published their costly works. Don Garcia de Toledo, who was Viceroy of Catalonia, used a compass as his device: Isabel de Cocceggio, displayed two anchors in the sea: Estevan Colonna, two columns on the high sea with a ribbon uniting them, a siren between them and the motto, "His suffulta," and none of them were discoverers. This picture bearing the name of Christopher Columbus, was for many years in the Farnese Gallery and has been described by many distinguished writers, who have overlooked all the inconsistencies in it. It has also been reproduced in many works: even Prescott in his History of the Catholic Kings, has adopted it, but at present nobody considers it to be a portrait of Columbus, and same believe that it is a [page 62] portrait of Gilberto de Sassuoli, a distinguished nobleman who was born in 1502 and died in 1570. That the picture could never have been taken from lire is very easily established by stating the fact that Mazzuola was born in 1503 and died in 1540, and was therefore, only three years of age at the time of the death of Columbus. He was a disciple of Raphael and painted many beautiful [page 63] portraits, among them one of Americus Vespucius. The pretended portrait of Columbus was painted at Parma, in 1527, by order of Cardinal Alessandro Farnesi. The King of Naples was his heir and removed it to Naples. I have also seen a beautiful copy of this portrait on a bank note of the Republic of Santo Domingo, and I have been told by a friend that he has seen it on bills issued by some State banks in this country. The engraving by Bierstadt on [page 64] certain United States bank notes appears to be a copy of the same picture with some very noticeable changes. (Cut No. 41.)
THE PHILOPONUS PORTRAIT.The first plate in the curious work of Honorius Philoponus, Nova Typis Transacta Navigatio, &c., &c., printed in 1621, but with no mention of the place of publication, is a full length portrait of Columbus. As I reproduce it, and it has no particular history or historical value, I do not consider it necessary to give any description of it, but will merely call the attention of my readers to the extraordinary dress and cap worn by the Admiral, as well as to the very original map in which the name of America is given only to the northern part of the United States. I would also like to call attention to the quaint inscriptions on the said map and the design of the caravel. (Cut No. 42.)
SEBASTIAN DEL PIOMBO.Among the treasures in the Bibliothèque Nationale of Paris, is a beautiful wood engraving which bears the following
RIBERA.The figure of Columbus in the large fresco in the Hall of Sessions of the Palace of Deputies at Madrid, is the work of Carlos Luis de Ribera, but although it is of great artistic merit it has no pretensions to be considered a portrait of Columbus.
THE RINCK PORTRAIT.Some days after the close of the sessions of the Congress of Americanists, held at Luxemburg, in 1877, a letter was forwarded to
the Committee on Publication by Baron de Dumast, who had received it from Mr. Rinck, a French portrait painter of New York. The letter was accompanied by a picture which under any circumstances deserves to be reproduced, if only for the amusement of my readers.
I will not follow Mr. Rinck in his original argument in favor of the authenticity of this picture, for I cannot believe for a moment that so talented an artist as he is, would seriously maintain that the old miser weighing an egg in his emaciated hand, is intended to represent Columbus, and that the grotesque lineaments of so vulgar a face, agree with the well-known noble and energetic features of the Admiral, and : at the same time I cannot consider it as a practical joke perpetrated on Baron Dumast.
Mr. Rinck says that in 1845 or 1846, being in New Orleans, he attended an auction gala where he saw the picture which was catalogued under the title, Le Vieux Gastronome, and that recognizing at a glance, the merit of the picture he bid for and secured it, amid the sneers of the bystanders! I think the bystanders were perfectly right, as the subject of the miserable daub seems to be joining in the sneers at the absurd claim made in its favor. The poor old man is attired in a semi-military old coat, of brown and redthe Spanish colors, as Rinck saysbeing, as is well-known, red and yellow. The coat belongs to the Eighteenth if not to the Nineteenth century.
The joke, however, has been carried too far, and it is not my intention to contribute to such an exibition of bad taste. (Cut No. 43.)
SCARDONI.The Worcester Antiquarian Society possesses a picture of Columbus painted by Scardoni. I have been told that it resembles the Moro portrait but have been unable to find a description of it.
SCOTTO.The portrait engraved by Scotto, copied from a design by Belloni, is nothing more than the De Bry picture, with the addition of a small mustache, which makes it still more ridiculous than the original.
THÉVET, (First Picture).There are two portraits of Columbus published by Thévet; one of them is described by Curtis, and is reproduced in Cut No. 44.
[page 66] Mr. Curtis says in his article in the Cosmopolitan, regarding this picture: "André Thévet, in his Portraits et Vies des Hommes Illustres which was first publisbed in Paris in 1584, gives us a Columbus of a solemn type that looks more like an astrologer of the middle ages than a seaman. It is a rude woodcut and has been frequently copied. It appears in N. D. Clerck's Tooneel der Beroemder Hertogen, published at Delft in 1617; in North's edition of Plutarch' s Lives, publisbed at Cambridge in 1676; Isaac Bullart's Académie des Sciences et des Arts, published at Brussels in 1682, and in several other works of later date. Clerck says that Thévet obtained the portrait in Lisbon, and that it was painted by a Dutcb artist while Columbus was living there."
THE VASQUEZ PORTRAIT.The origin of the Cladera, Muñoz and Vasquez pictures, and of the high-relief in the Cathedral at Havana, is very curious. About the end of the last century, the Duke of Veragua found among the collection of pictures belonging to the family, a beautiful painting of a man seated on a sart of a throne, attired as a grandee of Spain, bearing the inscription of D. Cristobal Colon. Believing it to be the picture of the great Admiral, he at once instructed the celebrated engraver Vasquez to make a copper-plate of it, stating that the original was in the gallery of the family. As the Vasquez engraving was a magnificent work of art and the engraver had the high authority of a descendant of Columbus as to its authenticity, no doubt was entertained as to the correctness of the claim. Muñoz accepted the picture as did Cladera, and when the high-relief was ordered for the Cathedral at Havana, this engraving was the original from which it was taken, no attention being paid to the anachronisms in the dress and the type of tlle picture, which cannot possibly be a portrait of Columbus if we consult the pen portraits of him left by bis contemporaries.
This engraving bas been widely copied: the more especially because it had been accepted by such eminent authorities as Muñoz and Cladera. The beautiful original of this engraving was never intended as a portrait of the Admiral, but of his grandson, Cristobal Colon y Toledo, brother of the third Admiral of the Indies, D. Luis, the son of D. Diego, son of the Discoverer. The age, type, and accessories of the picture described on page 69, which is still in the Veragua gallery, agree exactly with the appearance of the person whom it is now known to represent.
The engraving is of large size and bears the inscription: "CHRISTOVAL COLONCOPIADO DE UN QUADRO ORIGL., QUE SE CONSERVA EN LA FAMILIABART VAZQUE LA GRABO 1791." It is a threequarter-length portrait of Columbus, in which he is represented as a young man clad in armor with a ruff around the neck. He wears a mustache and goatee and holds a globe in his right hand and in the left a baton of command.
THE VERAGUA PORTRAIT.The portrait in the gallery of the Duke of [page 69] Veragua, one of the descendants of the Admiral, was painted at the end of the XVIth century. It retains some of the features of the Columbus face, but he is represented as a young man with mustache and goatee, wearing a ruff and cuffs, which were worn at the time it was painted: Carderera considers it to be worthless. It is claimed that this portrait is a copy from an original which was carried from Santo Domingo to Havana, together with the supposed remains of Columbus, at the close of the last century. Such an original was not received at Havana, and probably never existed in Santo Domingo. The only portrait at Havana is one sent, in 1796, by the Duke of Veragua, the great-grandfather of the present Duke. It is, perhaps, a portrait of Don Fernando Colon, the son of the Admiral. It is said that this original picture was painted on board, and was about 18 or 20 inches in height: no one, to my knowledge, has ever seen it.
THE VERSAILLES PORTRAIT, No. l.In the Versailles Gallery there is a beautiful portrait painted on wood, which was presented to the Gallery long ago, by the Count de Montesquieu. Though it has great artistic merit, it is absolutely worthless as a portrait, as it has none of the characteristics of
Columbus. It is a bust; the face is very broad and clean-shaven, with a big flat nose, large dark eyes, and long hair almost concealed by a cap. According to Carderera, the dress and cap are an exact reproduction of the fashion of the time of the Catholic Kings; yet Feuillet des Conches calls them strange and exotic.
Feuillet des Couches believes that it was painted by a disciple of John de Bruges or Van Eyck, as both the type and the style are Flemish: others say that it may have been painted at Lisbon, while Columbus was at that Court.
It is undoubtedly very old and bears so close a resemblance to the de Bry portrait, that it is believed to be the original followed by that artist; yet the de Bry has two well-defined warts on the right check and the Versailles has none.
This portrait has been engraved very often and the best representation of it is the beautiful plate by Mercuri. It has also been reproduced by Gavard in the Galerie Historique de Versailles and Mr. Curtis mentions thirteen copies of it including the de Bry in 1595. It is catalogued at the Museum as a work of the XVIth century under No. 2,997. (Cut No. 46.)
THE VERSAILLES PORTRAIT, No. 2.The best notice I have found of the second portrait at Versailles, is that written by Mr. Curtis, and, as this gentle man has kindly authorized me to make any use I desire of his essay and cuts, I copy verbatim from his often quoted artic1e in The Cosmopolitan. Mr. Curtis says: "The second Versailles portrait which is said to 'have disappeared [page 71] during the Franco-Prussian war, was very ancient a1so, and plainly of Dutch origin. It was painted on a small panel of wood twelve by fourteen centimètres in size. There was an anchor on the frame and on the right side of the figure an inscription of eight lines in ancient Dutch, which reads: 'Cristoff de Colomb, Groots Admiral Vost Zee onder Fernand,' that is, 'Christopher Columbus, Grand Admiral of the Eastern Seas under Ferdinand.' The head was completely bald, and the costume a great coat, or vitchouva, worn by sailors in the beginning of the sixteenth century. Its antiquity was evident, not only in the materials used, but because the costume, the style of letters and orthography of the inscription were not in vogue later than 1650."
ANONYMOUS.In the Illustrated American Biography, published at New York, in 1853, by Jones and Emerson, there is a beautiful wood engraving which it is pretended is a half-length portrait of Columbus, omitting the hands. The face is noble and commanding and the eyebrows strictly historical; the forehead is high and intellectual, but the nose, mouth and eyes have not the wellknown characteristics of Columbus. The hair is quite long and he wears a full beard and mustache; he is clad in armor, with the right shoulder half covered by a mantle. It bas been copied in many American educational works, anel that is the reason fot my describing it ; as a portrait it is absolutely worthless.
ANONYMOUS.The allegorical picture of Columbus which I reproduce in cut No. 47 bas been published in many geographical works. It looks like a reproduction of the Parmigianino portrait, and is therefore worth no more than the original from which it was taken. On the one side the crews of Columbus are seen disembarking from his ships on an island covered with palms, and on the other is a thriving manufacturing town. Unluckily the [page 72] sword traversing the background of the picture, also shows allegorically the instrument by which the conquest was accomplished.
COLUMBUS ON HORSEBACK.GENOA.In the Paradiso di Albaro, belonging to the Saluzzo family, there is a large portrait of Columbus on horseback, riding over one of the islands he has discovered. We are told that the picture is very beautiful and full of life and light, that the luxuriant vegetation of the [page 73] tropics is shown to advantage and with truth, but as the head is purely imaginary, it has no value as a portrait.
THE BRYAN EDWARDS PICTURE.I think it is proper to conclude this long enumeration of the portraits of Columbus, by a family group representing the Admiral, Beatriz, Don Diego and Don Fernando. This engraving is in the fourth edition of the History of the West Indies, published in London, in 1807, and it is copied "from an ancient Spanish picture in the possession of Edward Horne, Esq., of Bevis Mount, near Southampton," so says Edwards.
Edwards also claims that the date of the picture is about 1504, at the time of the return of Columbus from his fourth voyage, and the evidence that he adduces to this effect, incidentally establishes the fact that it is apocryphal.
He says that the Mar del Sud is marked on the original map, and as the Southern Sea was not discovered until 1513, by Balboa, it is absolutely impossible that this portrait could have been taken from life.
The portraits of Beatriz, Fernando and Diego, would be a great acquisition for the lovers of art from a historical point of view, but unfortunately this is a fact too good to be true: a mere glance is sufficient to convince us of the fallacy of the pretension, as the types, the dress, accessories and other particulars, show that this picture must have been painted at least one hundred years subsequent to the date claimed, and that the modest artist who painted it, and forgot to sign his name, had no intention of portraying so illustrious a family, but probably some rich Dutch merchant or planter, and his sons, who, after a lesson in geography, are preparing to partake of the luscious fruit, which a female servant wearing an apron is bringing to the table. A nondescript animal intended for a dog, but resembling a cross between a sheep and the former animal, is depicted as hungrily eying the head of the family.
The features of the servant and the boys are of the true Dutch type. In regard to Columbus, I will only say that this is the ugliest alleged portrait of him I have ever seen. (Cut No. 48)