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The Tapestry Book, by Helen... - Yesterday Image

The Tapestry Book, by Helen... - Yesterday Image


The Tapestry Book, by Helen Churchill Candee. 40 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 See larger image THE SACK OF JERUSALEM (DETAIL) Burgundian Tapestry, about 1450. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York A fine piece at the same museum is the long, narrow hanging representing scenes from the life of Christ, with a scene from Paradise to start the drama. (Plate facing page 41.) This tapestry, which is of great beauty, is subdivided into four panels by slender columns suggesting a springing arch which the cloth was too low to carry. All the pretty Gothic signs are here. The simple flowers upspringing, the Gothic lettering, the panelling, and a narrow border of such design as suggests rose-windows or other lace-like carving. Here is noticeable, too, the sumptuous brocades in figures far too large for the human form to wear, figures which diminished greatly a very few decades later. The Institute of Art, Chicago, possesses an interesting piece of the period showing another treatment of a similar subject. (Plate facing page 48.) In this the columns are omitted, the planes are increased, and there is an entire absence of the triptych or altar-piece style of drawing which we associate with the primitive artists in painting. We have seen in this slight review that Paris was in a fair way to cover the castle walls and floors of noble lords with her high loom and sarrazinois products, when the English occupation ruined the prosperity of the weaver’s guild. Arras supplied the enormous demand for tapestries through Europe, and made a lasting fame. But this little city, too, had to go down before the hard conditions of the Conqueror. Louis XI, in 1477, possessed himself of the town after the death of the last-famed Burgundian duke, Charles the Bold, and under his eccentric persecutions the guild of weavers scattered. He saw too late his mistake. But other towns benefited by it, towns whither the tapissiers fled with their art. There had also been much trouble between the last Duke of Burgundy and his Flemish cities. His extravagances and expeditions led him to make extraordinary demands upon one town and another for funds, and even to make war upon them, as at Liége, the battles of which conflict were perpetuated in tapestries. Let us trust that no Liégois

The Tapestry Book, by Helen Churchill Candee. 41 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 weaver was forced to the humiliation of weaving this set. This disposition to work to his own ultimate undoing was encouraged in the duke, wherever possible, by the crafty Louis XI, who had his own reasons for wishing the downfall of so powerful a neighbour. And thus it came that Arras, the great tapestry centre, was at first weakened, then destroyed by the capture of the town by Louis XI immediately after the tragic death of the duke in 1477. Thus everything was favourable to the Brussels factories, which began to produce those marvels of workmanship that force from the world the sincerest admiration. It is frankly asserted that toward the end of the century, or more accurately, during the reigns of Charles VIII and Louis XII (1483-1515), tapestry attained a degree of perfection which has never been surpassed. See larger image SCENES FROM THE LIFE OF CHRIST, WITH ARMORIAL SHIELDS Flemish Tapestry, Fifteenth Century. Institute of Art, Chicago See larger image HISTORY OF THE VIRGIN Angers Cathedral We have a very clear idea of what use to make of tapestries in these days—to hang

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