Parthagica Directory 03
On October 1st we had more trouble cutting our way through, as we again found great ferns and palms, especially near streamlets of water, and quantities of fallen trees, which made us continually deviate from our direction. The forest was indeed dirty and much entangled in that section, and thus made our march painful, liane catching my feet and head all the time, tearing my ears and nose--especially when the man who walked in front of me let them go suddenly and they swung right in my face. Thorns dug big grooves into my legs, arms and hands. To make matters worse, the high fever seemed to exhaust me terribly. Worse luck, a huge boil, as big as an egg, developed under my left knee, while another of equal size appeared on my right ankle, already much swollen and aching. The huge shoes given me by the trader--of the cheapest manufacture--had already fallen to pieces. I had turned the soles of them into sandals, held up by numerous bits of string, which cut my toes and ankles very badly every time I knocked my feet against a tree or stone. My feet were full of thorns, so numerous that I had not the energy to remove them. The left leg was absolutely stiff with the big boil, and I could not bend it.
Painting in Flanders starts abruptly with the fifteenth century. What there was before that time more than miniatures and illuminations is not known. Time and the Iconoclasts have left no remains of consequence. Flemish art for us begins with Hubert van Eyck (?-1426) and his younger brother Jan van Eyck (?-1440). The elder brother is supposed to have been the better painter, because the most celebrated work of the brothers--the St. Bavon altar-piece, parts of which are in Ghent, Brussels, and Berlin--bears the inscription that Hubert began it and Jan finished it. Hubert was no doubt an excellent painter, but his pictures are few and there is much discussion whether he or Jan painted them. For historical purposes Flemish art was begun, and almost completed, by Jan van Eyck. He had all the attributes of the early men, and was one of the most perfect of Flemish painters. He painted real forms and real life, gave them a setting in true perspective and light, and put in background landscapes with a truthful if minute regard for the facts. His figures in action had some awkwardness, they were small of head, slim of body, and sometimes stumbled; but his modelling of faces, his rendering of textures in cloth, metal, stone, and the like, his delicate yet firm _facture_ were all rather remarkable for his time. None of this early Flemish art has the grandeur of Italian composition, but in realistic detail, in landscape, architecture, figure, and dress, in pathos, sincerity, and sentiment it is unsurpassed by any fifteenth-century art.