of an Artist’s Studio
Years ago, a painter stood in his studio, his right
thumb in the belt of his blouse, and his left hand holding the pipe he had
withdrawn from his lips in honour of his visitor, Father Hugo, the Vicar of the
rich Church of St. Jerome. The
artist had not yet reached middle age. He
was famous in Dusseldorf, and some said that his name would someday be known
world-wide. When that day came,
Stenburg ruefully thought that he would be past the enjoyment of riches which
tarried so long. Still, he managed
to enjoy life in the present. He
loved his art. Now and again he
became so absorbed in his work, that he forgot all else but the picture on his
“I will not
limit you to the price. You are an
honest man, Sir Painter, and the Church of St. Jerome will not pay for the
picture. It is a gift of a
makes a great difference. Return
sir, please, a month from today, and studies for the work will be ready.”
So they parted,
both well pleased, and during the following weeks Stenburg studied the
composition of the picture, and penetrated into the Jewish Strasse for models
for his figures.
The Vicar was
satisfied. He desired the central
point to be the Cross of the Redeemer, and left the grouping of the accessories
to the artist. From time to time
the vicar dropped in, often accompanied by another priest, to inspect the
progress of the work. It was to be
placed in the Church upon a feast day, which fell upon the first day of June,
and it was making rapid progress.
bursting of the young green leaves, and the upspringing of the first flowers, a
hunger had seized upon the artist’s soul to leave Dusseldorf, and with his
sketch-book wander over the surrounding country.
On the borders of the forest he came one day upon a gipsy girl plaiting
straw baskets. Her face was
beautiful, her coal black hair fell in waving ripples to her waist; and her
poor, tattered, red dress, faded and sunburnt to many hues, added to her
picturesque appearance. But her
eyes were the feature that caught the artist regard – restless, limpid, black
eyes, whose expression changed every moment – pain, joy, fun, and roguery were
reflected in their depths as swiftly as the cloud shadows chased each other on a
capital picture she would make”! thought Stenburg; “but then who would buy a
gipsy girl? No one”!
The gipsies were looked upon in Dusseldorf with hatred; and even to this
day the fact of being a gipsy is, in the eyes of the law, a punishable offence.
noticed the artist, and flinging her straw down, sprang up, raising her hands
above her head, and snapping her fingers to keep time, danced lightly and
gracefully before him, showing her white teeth, and her glance sparkling with
cried Stenburg, and rapidly sketched her. Quickly
as he drew, it was a weary position for the girl to maintain; but she never
flinched, though a sigh of relief, as her arms dropped and she stood at rest
before him, attested to the artist the strain the attitude had been.
“She is not
only beautiful, she is better – a capital model.
I will paint her as a Spanish dancing girl.” So a bargain was struck.
Pepita was to come thrice a week to Stenburg’s house to be painted.
Duly at the
appointed hour she arrived. She was
full of wonder. Her great eyes
roved round the studio, glancing on the pieces of armour, pottery, and carving.
Presently she began examining the pictures and soon the great picture,
now nearing its completion, caught her attention.
She gazed at it intently. In
an awed voiced, she asked, “who is that”? pointing to the most prominent
figure, that of the Redeemer on the Cross.
Christ,” answered Stenburg, carelessly. “What
is being done to Him”? “Being
crucified ,” ejaculated the artist. “Turn
a little to the right. There! That
will do.” Stenburg, with his
brush in his fingers, was a man of few words.
those people about Him – those with the bad faces”?
here,” said the artist, “I cannot talk to you.
You have nothing to do but to stand as I tell you.”
The girl dare
not speak again, but she continued to gaze, and speculate.
Every time she came to the studio, the fascination of that picture grew
upon her. Sometimes she ventured an
enquiry, for her curiosity consumed her.
“Why did they
crucify Him? Was He bad, very
bad”? “No; very good.”
That was all
she learnt at one interview, but she treasured each word, and every sentence was
so much more known of the mystery. “Then,
if He was good, why did they do so? Was
it for a short time only? Did they
let Him go”?
because –“ The artist paused
with his head on one side, stepped forward, and arranged her sash.
repeated Pepita breathlessly, The
artist went back to his easel; then, looking at her, the eager, questioning face
moved his pity.
I will tell you once for all, and then ask no further questions”; and
he told her the story of the Cross – new to Pepita, though so old to the
artist that it had ceased to touch him. He
could paint that dying agony, and not a nerve of his quivered; but the thought
of it wrung her heart. Her great
black eyes swam in tears, which the fiery gipsy pride forbade to fall.
The picture and
the Spanish dancing-girl were finished simultaneously.
Pepita’s last visit to the studio had come. She
looked upon the beautiful representation of herself without emotion, but turned,
and stood before the picture, unable to leave it.
said the artist, “here is your money, and a gold piece over and above, for you
have bought me good luck, the ‘Dancing – girl is already sold:
I shall want you some time perhaps again, but not just yet.
We must not overstock the market with even your pretty face.”
The girl turned
Signor”! but her eyes, full of emotion, were solemn.
“You must love Him very much, Signor, when He has done all that for
you, do you not”?
The face into
which she looked flushed crimson. The
artist was ashamed. The girl, in
her poor, faded dress, passed from his studio, but her plaintive words rang in
his heart. He tried to forget them,
but impossible. He hastened to send
the picture to its destination. Still
he could not forget, “Done all that for you.”
At last the
pain was not to be borne. He would
face it, and conquer it. But he
went to confession in vain to get the peace he longed for, and which can only be
found by faith in Christ alone. A
liberal discount on his picture gave ease of mind for a week or two.
But then up rose the old question, “you must love Him very much, do you
not”? and would be answered. He
grew restless, and could not settle to his work.
So wandering about, he heard of things which had not come under his
One day he saw a group of persons
hastening to a house near the walls, a poor place, and then he noticed others
coming in the opposite direction, and they, too, passed into its low doorway.
He asked what was happening there, but the man he questioned either would
not or could not satisfy him. This
roused his curiosity. A few days
later he learned that a stranger, one of the “Reformed,” lived there, one of
those despised men who appealed on every occasion to the Word of God.
It was hardly respectable, hardly safe, even to know them.
Yet perhaps here he might find that which he sought.
The artist had
heard how these Reformers risked and frequently parted with their all, for the
truth they held. They might posses
the secret of peace. So Stenburg
went to “observe,” perhaps to “inquire,” certainly not to join them; but
a man cannot approach fire and remain cold.
Yes. He saw a man who might
have lived in ease, enduring hardship; one who might have been honoured,
despised; who might have been beloved and respected, an outcast and yet serene,
even happy. This Reformed preacher
spoke and looked as one who was walking the earth with Christ; yes, one to whom
He was all. Stenburg found what he
longed for – a living faith. His
new friend lent him for a time a precious copy of the New Testament, but hunted
from Dusseldorf after a few weeks, he left, and had to take the book with him;
but its essence was left in Stenburg's heart.
Ah! No need to
question now. He felt in his soul
the fire of an ardent love. “Did
all that for me! How can I ever
tell men of the love, that boundless love, which can brighten their lives, as it
has mine? It is for them too, but
they do not see it, as I did not. How
can I preach it? I cannot speak. I am a man of few words.
If I were to try I could never speak it out. It burns in my heart, but I cannot express it – the love of
Christ”! So thinking, the artist
idly drew with a piece of charcoal in his fingers a rough sketch of a thorn –
crowned head. His eyes grew moist
as he did so. Suddenly the thought
flashed through his soul, “I can paint! My brush must proclaim it.
Ah! In that picture His face was all agony. But that was not the truth.
Love unutterable, infinite compassion, willing sacrifice”!
The artist fell on his knees, and prayed to paint worthily, and thus
And then, as he
wrought, the fire of genius blazed up – up to the highest fibre of his power,
nay, beyond it. The picture of the
crucifixion was a wonder – almost Divine, admired by all.
He would not
sell it. He gave it a free - will
offering to his native city. It was
hung in the Public Gallery, and there the citizens flocked to see it, and the
voices were hushed and hearts
melted as they stood before it, and the burghers returned to their homes knowing
the love of God, and repeating to themselves the words written so distinctly
‘All this I
did for thee; What has thou done
himself also used to go there; watching far back from the corner in the gallery
the people who gathered about the picture, he prayed God to bless his painted
sermon. One day he observed, when
the rest of the visitors had left, a poor girl standing weeping bitterly before
it. The artist approached her.
“What grieves thee child”? he asked.
turned; she was Pepita. “Oh!
Signor, if He had but loved me so,” she said, pointing to the face of yearning
love, bending before them. “I am
only a poor gipsy. For you is the
love, but not for such as I”; and her despairing tears fell fast and
was also for thee.” And then the
artist told her all. Until the late
hour at which the gallery closed they sat and talked.
The painter did not weary now of answering all her questions, for the
subject was the one he loved best. He
told her clearly the story of that wondrous life, magnificent death, and
crowning glory of resurrection, and also explained to her the union that
redeeming love effected. She
listened, received, and believed – “All this I did for thee.”
Two years have
passed since the picture had been finished.
Winter had come again. The
cold intense, and the wind moaned down the narrow streets of Dusseldorf, and
shook the casements of the artist’s dwelling.
His day’s work was done, and by the blazing pine logs he was seated,
reading a copy he had with difficulty obtained of his beloved New Testament.
A knock sounded at the door, and a man was admitted.
He wore an old sheepskin jacket, on which the snow had frozen; his hair
hung in dark locks. He glanced
ravenously towards the bread and meat upon the table, even as he gave his
message, “Would the gentleman come with him on urgent business”?
demanded the painter.
That, he must
not tell, or the agents of the law might get to know, and drive them out of
their camp in the woods.
you wish me to come”?
say,” replied the man; “but one who is dying wants to see you.”
the artist. “I will accompany
you.” The man murmured his thanks
as he devoured the food.
“Sire, we all
are famished with hunger.”
brought a bag of provisions. “Can
you carry this?”
gladly. But come there is no time
followed. His guide led him quickly
through the streets, and out into the country beyond. The moon rose, and showed they were in the forest.
The branches were laden with snow, and the great tree trunks confusing.
No path, but the man never hesitated.
He silently and swiftly kept ahead of Stenburg.
At last they came to a clearing. Here
a few tents were erected.
there,” said the man, pointing to one of the tents, then turned to a group of
men, women and children, who thronged about him.
He spoke to them in a wild unknown tongue, and lifted his bag from his
crouching, crept into the tent. A
brilliant ray of moonlight illuminated the poor interior.
On a bed formed of a mass of dried leaves was the form of a young woman.
Her face was pinched and hollow, “Why,
At the sound of
the artist’s voice the eyes opened. Those
wonderful dark eyes still were brilliant. A
smile trembled to her lips, and she raised herself on her elbow.
said, “He has come for me! He holds out His hands!
They are bleeding! And He says, ‘For thee. All this I did for thee’.”
And she not long after bade him farewell.
after when both the painter and the gipsy girl had met in another land above, a
gay young nobleman drove in his splendid equipage into Dusseldorf, and while his
horses were baited, he wandered into that famous gallery.
He was rich, young, intelligent – the world bright, and its treasures
within his grasp. He stood before
Stenburg’s picture – reading and rereading the words at the foot of the
frame. He could not tear himself
away – it grew into his heart. The
love of Christ laid its powerful grasp on his soul.
Hours passed; the light faded; the curator touched the weeping nobleman,
and told him it was time to close the gallery.
Night had come – nay! rather, for that young man, the dawn of eternal
life. He was Zinzendorf.
He returned to the inn, and re-entered his carriage-but to turn his back
on Paris, and seek again his home.
moment he threw life, fortune, fame, at the feet of Him who had whispered to his
"All this I did
What has thou
done for me? "
was the father of the Moravian Missions, answered that question, by his devoted
life, and his welcomed death.
The beauty of a consecrated life has never been more perfectly revealed than in the daily living of Frances Ridley Havergal. On the back cover of the book Royal Chambers by FRH and edited by Sentinel Kulp we are told that, 'At the age of four she was reading and memorizing the Bible. At seven she was writing her thoughts in verse. Greatly encouraged by her father, William Havergal, an Anglican clergyman involved in improving and composing English hymnody, conditions were ripe for the development of her gifts.
Though frail and delicate in health, Miss Havergal was an avid student. Blessed with a voice so pleasing she was sought after as a concert contralto soloist, she was also known as a brilliant pianist of the classics. With an insatiable thirst for Scripture she eventually memorized the entire New Testament, along with the Psalms, Isaiah, and the Minor Prophets, as well as becoming fluent in several languages along with Greek and Hebrew.
At fifteen she had a conversion experience, but it was not until twenty-one that consecration became an issue. Attending an art gallery in Dusseldorf, Germany, she was confronted by a picture of the crucifixion. Beneath were the words, "This I have done for thee; what has thou done for me?" While gazing at the picture a flood of tears streamed down her cheeks. Though gifted with fine musical talents and a vibrant personality offering great possibilities for much worldly acclaim, from that moment she dedicated all to the service of her Lord. As an established writer and composer, she was referred to as "the consecration poet".'.
Frances Ridley Havergal went on to write many beautiful hymns, one of them based on the words beneath the painting. She also wrote the famous hymn, "Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to thee". Her life and devotion to the Lord Jesus has inspired many men of God since that time including Bishop H. C. G. Moule, who wrote many devotional books and bible studies, also blessing many.
picture no longer hangs in the gallery of Dusseldorf, for when some years ago
the gallery was destroyed by fire, it perished – but it preached, and God used
it to tell of His gift, of whom Paul said, “He loved me and gave Himself for