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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. 66 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 See larger image VERTUMNUS AND POMONA First half of Sixteenth Century. Royal Collection of Madrid The collection of George Blumenthal, Esquire, of New York, contains as beautiful examples of Sixteenth Century composition and weaving as could be imagined. Two of these were found in Spain—the country which has ever hoarded her stores of marvellous tapestries. They represent the story of Mercury. (Frontispiece.) The cartoon is Italian, and so perfect is its drawing, so rich in invention is the exquisite border, that the name of Raphael is half-breathed by the thrilled observer. But if the artist is not yet certainly identified, the name of the weaver is certain, for on the galloon he has left his sign. It is none other than the celebrated Wilhelm de Pannemaker. In addition to this is the shield and double B of the Brussels workshop, which after 1528 was a requirement on all tapestries beyond a certain small size. In 1544 the Emperor Charles V made a law that the mark or name of the weaver and the mark of his town must be put in the border. It was this same Pannemaker of the Blumenthal tapestries who wove in Spain the Conquest of Tunis for Charles V. (Plate facing page 62.) Mr. Blumenthal’s tapestries must have carried with them some such contract for fine materials as that which attended the execution of the Tunis set, so superb are they in quality. Indeed, gold is so lavishly used that the border seems entirely made of it, except for the delicate figures resting thereon. It is used, too, in an unusual manner, four threads being thrown together to make more resplendent the weave. The beauty of the cartoon as a picture, the decorative value of the broad surfaces of figured stuffs, the marvellous execution of the weaver, all make the value of these tapestries incalculable to the student and the lover of decorative art. Mr. Blumenthal has graciously placed them on exhibition in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Fortunate they who can absorb their beauty. That treasure-house in Madrid which belongs to the royal family contains a set which

The Tapestry Book, by Helen Churchill Candee. 67 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 bears the same ear-marks as the Blumenthal tapestries. It is the set called The Loves of Vertumnus and Pomona. (Plates facing pages 72, 73, 74 and 75.) Here is the same manner of dress, the same virility, the same fulness of decoration. Yet the Mercury is drawn with finer art. The delight in perfected detail belonging to the Italian school of artists resulted in an arrangement of grotesques. Who knows that the goldsmith’s trade was not responsible for these tiny fantastics, as so many artists began as apprentices to workers in gold and silver? This evidence of talented invention must be observed, for it set the fashion for many a later tapestry, notably the Grotesque Months of the Seventeenth Century. Mingled with verdure and fruit, it is seen in work of the Eighteenth Century. But in its original expression is it the most talented. There we find that intellectual plan of design, that building of a perfect whole from a subtle combination of absolutely irreconcilable and even fabulous objects. Yet all is done with such beguiling art that both mind and eye are piqued and pleased with the impossible blending of realism and imagination. Bacchiacca drew a filigree of attenuated fancies, threw them on a ground of single delicate colour, and sent them for weave to the celebrated masters, John Rost and Nicholas Karcher. (Plates facing pages 84 and 85.) These men at that time (1550) had set their Flemish looms in Italy. See larger image TAPESTRIES FOR HEAD AND SIDE OF BED Renaissance designs. Royal Collection of Madrid

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