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

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

The

The Tapestry Book, by Helen Churchill Candee. http://www.justdogstrollers.com/26151-h/26151-h/26151-h.htm 50 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 The drawing shows, first, one scene of many groups but a sole interest, with none but probable divisions. Much grace and freedom is shown in the attitudes of the persons on the shore, and strenuous effort and despair among the engulfed soldiers. Extreme attention to detail, the making one part as finished as another, even to the least detail, is noticeable. The exaggerated patterns of the stuffs observable in earlier work is absent, and a sense of proportion is displayed in dress ornament. The free movement of men and beasts, and the variety of facial expression all show the immense strides made in drawing and the perfection attained in this brilliant period. It was a time when the artist perfected the old style and presaged the new, the years before the Renaissance had left its cradle and marched over Europe. This perfection of the Gothic ideal has a purity and simplicity that can never fail to appeal to all who feel that sincerity is the basic principle of art as it is of character. The style of Quentin Matsys, of the Van Eycks, was the mode at the end of the Fifteenth Century and the beginning of the Sixteenth, and after all this lapse of time it seems to us a sweet and natural expression of admirable human attributes. In the new wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the labels of certain exhibits, purchases and loans allude briefly to “studio of Jean de Rome.” It is an allusion which especially interests us, as our country now holds examples of this atelier which make us wish to know more about its master. He was a designer in the marvellous transition period of about 1500, when art trembled between the restraint of ecclesiastic Gothic and the voluptuous freedom of the Renaissance; hesitated between the conventions of religion and the abandonment to luxury, to indulgence of the senses. It is the fashion to regard periods of transition as times of decadence, of false standards of hybrid production, but at least they are full of deepest interest to the student of design who finds in the tremulous dawn of the new idea a flush which beautifies the last years of the old method. See larger image THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN Flemish Tapestry, about 1510. Collection of J. Pierpont Morgan, Esq., New York

The Tapestry Book, by Helen Churchill Candee. http://www.justdogstrollers.com/26151-h/26151-h/26151-h.htm 51 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 Attributed to this newly unearthed studio of Jean de Rome hangs a marvellous tapestry in the new wing alluded to, one which deserves repeated visits. (Plate facing page 58.) Indeed, to see it once creates the desire to see it again, so beautiful is it in drawing and so exquisite in colour and weave. It is suggested that Quentin Matsys is responsible for the drawing, and it is known that only Bruges or Brussels could produce such perfection of textile. Indeed, Jean de Rome is by some authorities spoken of as Jean de Brussels, for it is there that he worked long and well, assisting to produce those wonders of textile art that have never been surpassed, not even by the Gobelins factory in the Seventeenth Century. The tapestry in the Metropolitan Museum is now the property of J. Pierpont Morgan, Esq., but began life as the treasure of the King and Queen of Spain who, at the time when Brussels was producing its best, were sitting firmly on a throne but just wrested from the Saracenic occupancy. Spain, while unable to establish famous and enduring tapestry factories of her own, yet was known always as a lavish buyer. Later, Cardinal Mazarin, with his trained Italian eye, detected at once the value of the tapestry and became possessed of it, counting it among his best treasures of art. It is a woven representation of the triptych, so favourite in the time of the Van Eycks, and is almost as rich with gold as those ancient altar decorations. The tapestry is variously called The Kingdom of Heaven, and The Adoration of the Eternal Father and is the most beautiful and important of its kind in America. Fortunate they who can go to the museum to see it—only less fortunate than those who can go to see it many times. In the private collection of Martin A. Ryerson, Esq., of Chicago, are three examples of great perfection. They belonged to the celebrated art collection of Baron Spitzer, which fact, apart from their beauty, gives them renown. The first of these (plate facing page 60) is an appearance of Christ to the Magdalen after the Entombment, and is Flemish work of late in the Fifteenth Century. It is woven in silk and gold with infinite skill. With exquisite patience the weaver has brought out the crowded detail in the distance; indeed, it is this background, stretching away to the far sky, past the Tomb, beyond towns and plains of fruited trees to yet more cities set on a hill, that constitutes the greatest charm of the picture, and which must have brought hours of happy toil to the inspired weaver. The second tapestry of Mr. Ryerson’s three pieces is also Flemish of the late Fifteenth Century. (Plate facing page 61.) This small group of the Holy Family shows at its best the conscientious work of the time, a time wherein man regarded labour as a means of worshipping his God. The subject is treated by both artist and weaver with that loving care which approaches religion. The holy three are all engaged in holding bunches of grapes, while the Child symbolically spills their juice into a chalice. Other symbols are found in the book and the cross-surmounted globe. A background of flat drapery throws into beautiful relief the inspired faces of the group. Behind this stretches the miniature landscape, but the foreground is unfretted by detail, abounding in the repose of the simple surfaces of the garments of Mother and Child. By a subtle trick of line, St. Joseph is separated from the holier pair. The border is the familiar well-balanced Gothic composition of flower, fruit, and leaf, all placed as though by the hand of Nature. The materials used are silk and gold, but one might well add that the soul of the weaver also entered into the fabric.

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