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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. 56 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 Brussels Tapestry. Sixteenth Century. Collection of Arthur Astor Carey, Esq., Boston Indeed, the Gothic tapestries more than any other existing pictures take us back to that epoch of our lives when we lived in romance, when the Sleeping Beauty hid in just such towers, when the prince rode such a horse and appeared an elegant young knight. The inscrutable mystery of those folk of other days is like the inscrutable mystery of that childhood time, the Mediæval time of the imagination, and those of us who remember its joys gaze silent and happy in the tapestry room of the Ducal Palace at Nancy, or in Mary’s Chamber at Holyrood, or in any place whatever where hang the magic pictured cloths. When the highest development of a style is reached a change is sure to come. It may be a degeneration, or it may be the introduction of a new style through some great artistic impulse either native or introduced by contact with an outside influence. Fortunately, the Gothic passed through no pallid process of deterioration. The examples that nest comfortably in the museums of the world or in the homes of certain fortunate owners, do not contain marks of decadence—only of transition. It is a style that was replaced, but not one that died the death of decadence. It is with reluctance that one who loves the Gothic will leave it for the more recent art of the Renaissance. Its charm is one that embodies chasteness, grace, and simplicity, one that is so exquisitely finished, and so individual that the mind and eye rest lovingly upon its decorative expressions. It is averred that the introduction of the revived styles of Greece and Rome into France destroyed an art superior. One is inclined to this opinion in studying a tapestry of the highest Gothic expression, a finished product of the artist and the craftsman, both having given to its execution their honest labour and highest skill. Unhappily it is often, with the tapestry lover, a case similar to that of the penniless boy before the bakeshop window—you may look, but you may not have,—for not often are tapestries such as these for sale. Only among the experienced dealer-collectors is one fortunate enough to find these rare remnants of the past which for colour, design and texture are unsurpassed. But the Gothic was bound to give way as a fashion in design. Politics of Europe were at work, and men were more easily moving about from one country to another. The cities of the various provinces over which the Burgundian dukes had ruled were prevented by natural causes, from being united. Arras, Ghent, Liége instead of forming a solidarity, were separate units of interest. This made the subjugation of one or the other an easy matter to the tyrant who oppressed. As Arras declined under the misrule of Charles le Téméraire (whose possessions at one time outlined the whole northern and eastern border of France) Brussels came into the highest prominence as a source of the finest tapestries.

The Tapestry Book, by Helen Churchill Candee. 57 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 See larger image THE CREATION Flemish Tapestry. Italian Cartoon, Sixteenth Century See larger image THE ORIGINAL SIN Flemish Tapestry. Italian Cartoon, Sixteenth Century The great change in tapestries that now occurs is the same that altered all European art and decoration and architecture. Indeed it cannot be limited to these evidences alone, for it affected literature, politics, religion, every intellectual evidence. Man was breaking his bonds and becoming freed for centuries to come. The time was well-named for the new birth. Like another Birth of long ago, it occurred in the South, and its influence gradually spread over the entire civilised world. The Renaissance, starting in Italy, gradually flushed the whole of Europe with its glory. Artists could not be restrained. Throbbing with poetry to be expressed, they threw off design after design of inspired beauty and flooded the world with them. The legitimate field of painting was not large enough for their teeming originality which pre-empted also the

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