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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. 68 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 See larger image THE STORY OF REBECCA Brussels Tapestry. Sixteenth Century. Collection of Arthur Astor Carey, Esq., Boston And so it came that the Renaissance swept all before it in the world of tapestry. More than that, with the increase of culture and of wealth, with the increased mingling of the peoples of Europe after the raid of Charles V into Italy, the demand for tapestries enormously increased. They were wanted for furnishing of homes, they were wanted as gifts—to brides, to monarchs, to ambassadors. And they were wanted for splendid decoration in public festivals. They had passed beyond the stage of rarity and had become almost as much a matter of course as clothing. Brussels being in the ascendency as a producer, the world looked to her for their supply, and thereby came trouble. More orders came than it was possible to fill. The temptation was not resisted to accept more work than could be executed, for commercialism has ever a hold. The result was a driving haste. The director of the ateliers forced his weavers to quick production. This could mean but one thing, the lessening of care in every department. Gradually it came about that expedition in a tapissier, the ability to weave quickly, was as great a desideratum as fine work. Various other expedients were resorted to beside the Sixteenth Century equivalent of “Step lively.” Large tapestries were not set on a single loom, but were woven in sections, cunningly united when finished. In this manner more men could be impressed into the manufacture of a single piece. A wicked practice was introduced of painting or dyeing certain woven parts in which the colours had been ill-selected. All these things resulted in constantly increasing restrictions by the guild of tapissiers and by order of royal patrons. But fraud is hard to suppress when the animus of the

The Tapestry Book, by Helen Churchill Candee. 69 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 perpetrator is wrong. Laws were made to stop one fault after another, until in the end the weavers were so hampered by regulations that work was robbed of all enthusiasm or originality. It was at this time that Brussels adopted the low-warp loom. In other words, after a brilliant period of prolific and beautiful production, Brussels began to show signs of deterioration. Her hour of triumph was past. It had been more brilliant than any preceding, and later times were never able to touch the same note of purity coupled with perfection. The reason for the decline is known, but reasons are of scant interest in the face of the deplorable fact of decadence. The Italian method of drawing cartoons was adopted by the Flemish cartoonists at this time, but as it was an adoption and not a natural expression of inborn talent, it fell short of the high standard of the Renaissance. But that is not to say that we of to-day are not ready to worship the fruit of the Italian graft on Flemish talent. A tapestry belonging to the Institute of Art in Chicago well represents this hybrid expression of drawing. (Plate facing page 78.) The principal figures are inspired by such as are seen in the Mercury of Mr. Blumenthal’s collection, or the Vertumnus and Pomona series, but there the artist stopped and wandered off into his traditional Flemish landscape with proper Flemings in the background dressed in the fashion of the artist’s day. See larger image BRUSSELS TAPESTRY. LATE SIXTEENTH CENTURY Weaver, Jacques Geubels. Institute of Art, Chicago

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