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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. 74 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 See larger image ITALIAN TAPESTRY. MIDDLE OF SIXTEENTH CENTURY Cartoon by Bacchiacca. Woven by G. Rost The same Nicholas Karcher who set the standard in the d’Este works, gave of his wonderful skill to the Florentines, and with him was associated John Rost. These were both from Flanders, and although trade regulations for tapestry workers did not exist in Italy, Duke Cosimo granted each of these men a sufficient salary, a habitat, as well as permission to work for outsiders, and in addition paid them for all work executed for himself. The subjects for the set of tapestries had entirely left the old method of pious interpretation and of mediæval allegory and revelled in pictured tales of the Scriptures and of the gods and heroes of mystical Parnassus and of bellicose Greece, not forgetting those dainty exquisite impossibilities called grotesques. It was about the time of the death of Cosimo I (1574), the founder of the Medicean factory, that a new and unfortunate influence came into the directorship of the designs. This was the appointment of Stradano or Johan van der Straaten, to give his Flemish name, as dominating artist. He was a man without fine artistic feeling, one of those whose eye delighted in the exaggerations of decadence rather than in the restraint of perfect art. He was inspired, not by past perfection of the Italians among whom he came to live, but by those of the decline, and on this he grafted a bit of Northern philistinism. His brush was unfortunately prolific, and at this time the fine examples of weaving set by Rost and Karcher had been replaced by quicker methods so that after 1600 the tapestries poured out were lamentably inferior. Florentine tapestry had at this time much pretence, much vulgar display in its drawing, missing the fine virtues of the time when Cosimo I dictated its taste, the fine virtues of “grace, gaiety and reflectiveness.” Leo X, the great Medicean pope, was elected in 1513, he who ordered the great Raphael set of the Acts of the Apostles, but it was before the establishment of important looms in Italy, so to Flanders and Van Aelst are due the glory of first producing this series which afterward was repeated many times, in the great looms of Europe. Leo X emulated in the patronage of the arts his father Lorenzo, well-named Magnificent. What Lorenzo did in Florence, Leo X endeavoured to do in Rome; make of his time and of his city the highest expression of culture. His record, however, is so mixed with the corruption of the time that its golden glory is half-dimmed. It was from the licentiousness of cardinals and the wanton revels of the Vatican in Leo’s time that young Luther the “barbarian” fled with horror to nail up his theses on the doors of the

The Tapestry Book, by Helen Churchill Candee. 75 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 churches in Wittenberg. The history of tapestry in Italy at the Seventeenth Century was all in the hands of the great families. Italy was not united under a single royal head, but was a heterogeneous mass of dukedoms, of foreign invaders, with the popes as the head of all. But Italy had experienced a time of papal corruption, which had, as its effect, wars of disintegration, the retarding of that unity of state which has only recently been accomplished. State patronage for the factories was not known, that steady beneficent influence, changeless through changing reigns. Popes and great families regulated art in all its manifestations, and who shall say that envy and rivalry did not act for its advancement. See larger image ITALIAN VERDURE. SEVENTEENTH CENTURY The desire to imitate the cultivation and elegance of Italy was what made returning invaders carry the Renaissance into the rest of Europe; and in a lesser degree the process was reversed when, in the Seventeenth Century, a cardinal of the House of Barberini visited France and, on viewing in the royal residences a superb display of tapestries, his envy and ambition were aroused to the extent of emulation. He could not, with all his power, possess himself of the hangings that he saw, but he could, and did, arrange to supply himself generously from another source. He was the powerful Francesco Barberini, the son of the pope’s brother (Pope Urban VIII, 1623-1644), and it was he who established the Barberini Library and built from the ruins of Rome’s amphitheatres and baths the great palace which to-day still dominates the street winding up to its aristocratic elegance. It was to adorn this palace that Cardinal Francesco established ateliers and looms and set artists and weavers to work. This tapestry factory is of especial interest to America, for some of its chief hangings have come to rest with us. The Mysteries of the Life and Death of Jesus Christ, one set is called, and is the property of the Cathedral of St. John, the Divine, in New York, donated by Mrs. Clarke. Cardinal Francesco Barberini chose as his artists those of the school of Pietro di Cortona with Giovanni Francesco Romanelli as the head master. The director of the factory was Giacomo della Riviera allied with M. Wauters, the Fleming.[13] The former was especially concerned with the pieces now owned by the Cathedral of St. John, the Divine, in New York, and which are signed with his name. Romanelli was the artist of the cartoons, and his fame is almost too well known to dwell upon. His portrait, in tapestry, hangs in the Louvre, for in Paris he gained much fame at the Court of Louis

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