Butler ntni '/ am/er, The Seiwood Printing; Works, Fronte, ami London


NO special inducement need be held out to an educated EnglMiman at the present day to take an interest in a particular field of the arts and crafts of the Low Countries. Long before the nobles of Inlanders, France and England were assoc. ited in attempts to free the holy places from the pollu on of infidel possession, the dwellers on the opposite coasts of England, Normandy and the Netherlands had been bound together by many dynastic and trade bonds. As we follow the course of history, we find that the interests ol the English and the Flemings were inext" cably connected; and there was a constant stream of the manufactures of the Low Countries pouring into Fngl'sh ports The English supplied much of the raw material upon which the Flemings depended for subsistence. In mediaeval days the -ihab ants of the Low Countries could always be forced by ErgKsh statecraft to help the Plantagenet kings in their continental intrigues by the mere cutting off of the supply ot wool. Later, the community of tastes and interests 0) Reformation days drew the races closer together ; and all through Elizabethan days, and then onwards till the close of the Marlborough campaigns, the inhabitants of England and the Netherlands were on terms of int nate acquaintance, socially and industrially.

In the following pages, therefore, constant evidence will appear of the influence of the art* and crafts of the Low Countries on English inanutactures and importations. Trade rivalry frequently gave rise to coolness between England and Holland, and to an inglorious war in the days of the Merry Monarch. The latter period I have treated at considerable length on account of the importance of the Oriental trade on the interior decorations of Dutch homes.

On taking a general survey of the Decorative Arts of the Low Countries, we notice several wel]-defined periods and influences.

Materials are too meagre for us to learn much about domestic interiors during the Dark Ages, but we know that, in common -with England and Northern Eranee, Scandinavian Art largely prevailed.

The feudal lords of the territories that now formed the Netherlands were enthusiastic in assuming the cross; and for two centuries the arts and crafts of Byzantium and the luxury of the East dominated Western Europe.

About 1300 the influence oi B\zanti.nn had waned, and the Gothic style was bursting into full bloom. For the next two centuries it held full sway, and was then pushed aside by the Renaissance, which made itself felt at the end of the nfteenth century.

At the end of the sixteenth century we find the Renaissance fully developed; and for the next fifty years Flanders is the willing slave of Rubens and his school. The Decadence quickly follows.

The pro\inces that now constitute Holland and Belgium went hand in hand :n the Decorative Arts until vi about 1600. If there was any difference, Holland was more influenced by German and Flanders by French Art. After the establishment of the Dutch trade with the Far East at the beginning of the seventeenth century, Dutch and Flemish Art diverge.

In the following chapters I have tried to trace these influences and developments.

In illustrating the book I have gone to the original works of tne great masters of design—De Vries, Van de Passe, Marot and others. As for Dutch interiors, nothing can convey a clearer dea of the home than the famous pictures by the Great and Little Masters—Jan Steen, Teniers, Rembrandt, Cocques, Metsu, Maes, Terburg, Dou, Weenix, Van Hoogstraten, Troost, etc., etc., many of whose famous canvases are eproduced here.

I also include photographic reproductions of authentic examples of Dutch and Flemish furniture preserved n the Cluny, K-jks, Itedeli'k and other museums.

In my attempt to reconstruct Dutch and Flemish interiors of past days, 1 have consulted not only histories, memoirs and Dooks of travel, but wills and n-ventoues as well.

I wish to thank Mr. Arthur Shadwell Marti 1 tor valuable research and aid for both text and illustrations.

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