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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. 44 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 T CHAPTER V HIGH GOTHIC HE wonderful time of the Burgundian dukes is gone; Charles le Téméraire leaves the world at Nancy, where the pitying have set up a cross in memory of his unkingly death, and where the lover of things Gothic may wander down a certain way to the exquisite portico of the Ducal Palace and, entering, find the Gothic room where the duke’s precious tapestries are hung. In this sympathetic atmosphere one may dream away hours in sheer joy of association with these shadowy hosts of the past, the relentless slayers in the battle scenes, relentless moralists in the religious subjects—for morality plays had a parallel in the morality tapestry, issuing such rigid warnings to those who make merry as is seen in The Condemnation of Suppers and Banquets, The Reward of Virtue, The Triumph of Right, The Horrors of the Seven Deadly Sins, all of which were popular subjects for the weaver. With the artists who might be called primitives we have almost finished in the end of the Fifteenth Century. The simplicity of the very early weavers passed. They were content with comparatively few figures, and these so strongly treated that in composition one scarce took on more importance than another. When Arras and other Flemish towns, as well as Paris and certain French towns, developed the industry and employed more ambitious artists, the designs became more crowded, and the tendency was to multiply figures in an effort to crowd as many as possible into the space. When architecture appeared in the design, towers and battlements were crowded with peeping heads in delightful lack of proportion, and forests of spears springing from platoons of soldiers, filled almost the entire height of the cloth. The naïve fashion still existed of dressing the characters of an ancient Biblical or classic drama in costumes which were the mode of the weaver’s time, disregarding the epoch in which the characters actually lived. An adherence to the childlike drawing of the early workers continues noticeable in their quaint way of putting many scenes on one tapestry. Interiors are readily managed, by dividing—as in The Sacraments set in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York—with slender Gothic columns, than which nothing could be prettier, especially when framed in at the top with the Gothic arch. In outdoor scenes the frank disregard of the probable adds the charm of audacity. Side by side with a scene of carnage, a field of blood with victims lying prone, is inserted an island of flowers whereon youths and dogs are pleasantly sporting; and adjoining that may be another section cunningly introduced where a martyred woman is enveloped in flames which spring from the ground around her as naturally as grass in springtime.

The Tapestry Book, by Helen Churchill Candee. 45 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 See larger image DAVID AND BATHSHEBA Flemish Tapestry, late Fifteenth Century See larger image HISTORY OF ST. STEPHEN Arras Tapestry, Fifteenth Century And flowers, flowers everywhere. Those little blossoms of the Gothic with their perennial beauty, they are one of the smiles of that far time that shed cheer through the

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