Later, the cares of fame and those of success were other causes of forgetfulness. In 1845, this landscape painter, emulator of the Hobbemas, Ruysdaels, and Lorraines, resembles no more the shabby, frisky rapin whom we then knew.
Several pictures were to follow him from Italy: a Sebastian del Piombo, a Bronzino, and a Mirevelt, which he describes as of extreme beauty; and with his usual happy faith in his own good luck, he hoped to pick up some other bargains such as "Hobbemas and Holbeins for a few crowns," in the towns through which he would pass on his journey.
As the door closed, the butler, having placed the coffee and liqueurs on the table, withdrew in the rear of his battalion, and the two young men were left alone beneath the Rembrandts and Hobbemas on the dining-room walls. There was a moment's silence between them; then young Spence, leaning across the table, said in the lowered tone of intimacy: "Why do you suppose he dodged that last question?"
In Rome Balzac purchased a Sebastiano del Piombo, a Bronzino and a Mierevelt, he hunted up some Hobbemas and Holbeins, he secured a Natoire and a Breughel, which he decided to sell, as it proved not to be genuine, for he wanted "pictures of the first rank or none at all"; furthermore, he brought back to Paris a Judgment of Paris, attributed to Giorgione, a Greuze, a sketch of his wife, a Van Dyck, a Paul Brill, The Sorceresses, a sketch of the birth of Louis XIV representing the Adoration of the Shepherds, an Aurora by Guido, a Rape of Europa, by Annibale Carrachio or Domenichino, and there we have the beginning of his gallery such as he described it in Cousin Pons.
But I spent much time in the Museum, where there is one of the finest Hobbemas in the world, and where two such different creative artists as Claude Monet and Josiah Wedgwood are especially honoured.