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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. 60 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 See larger image PUNIC WAR SERIES Brussels Tapestry. Sixteenth Century. Collection of Arthur Astor Carey, Esq., Boston It is impossible to overestimate the importance to Brussels of the animating experience and distinguished commission of executing the set of tapestries for the Sistine Chapel after cartoons by Raffaelo Sanzio. The date is one to tie to (1515) and the influence of the work was far-reaching. The Gothic method could no longer continue. The Renaissance spread its influence, established its standards and introduced that wave of productiveness which always followed its introduction. There are many who doubt the superiority of the voluptuous art of the high Renaissance. There are those who prefer (perhaps for reasons of sentiment) the early Gothic, and many more who love far better the sweet purity of the early Renaissance. Before us Raphael presents his full figures replete with action, rich with broad, open curves in nudity, and magnificent with lines of flowing drapery. To him be accorded all due honour; but, if it is the privilege of the artist’s spirit to wander still on earth, he must find his particular post-mortem punishment in viewing the deplorable school of exaggeration which his example founded. Who would not prefer one of the chaste tapestries of perfected Gothic to one of those which followed Raphael, imitating none of his virtues, exaggerating his faults? It is these followers, the virilities of whose false art is as that of weeds, who have come almost to our own day and who have succeeded in spoiling the historical aspect of the New Testament for many an imaginative Sunday-school attendant by giving us Bible folk in swarthy undress, in lunatic beards and in unwearable drapings. These terrible persons, descendants of Raphael’s art, can never stir a human sympathy. Just here a word must be said of the workmen, the weavers of Brussels. For them certain fixed rules were made, but also they were allowed much liberty in execution.

The Tapestry Book, by Helen Churchill Candee. 61 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 The artist might draw the big cartoons and thus become the governing influence, but much of the choice of colour and thread was left to the weaver. This made of him a more important factor in the composition than a mere artisan; he was, in fact, an artist, must needs be, to execute a work of such sublimity as the Raphael set. And as a weaver, his patience was without limit. Thread by thread, the warp was set, and thread by thread the woof was woven and coerced into place by the relentless comb of the weaver. Perhaps a man might make a square foot, by a week of close application; but “how much” mattered nothing—it was “how well” that counted. Haste is disassociable from labour of our day; we might produce—or reproduce —tapestries as good as the old, but some one is in haste for the hanging, and excellency goes by the board. The weaver of those days of perfection was content to be a weaver, felt his ambition gratified if his work was good. See larger image EPISODE IN THE LIFE OF CÆSAR Flemish Tapestry. Sixteenth Century. Gallery of the Arazzi, Florence

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