The Middle Ages

Ecclesiastical Art—Wood-carving ana Carvers—Primitive character of thp Furniture ot Castas and Mansions—Huckicrs—Memmiers— A Typical Bedroom —Dinanderie -Woou-work and panelling— Chest, banc, bahut, sideboard, dressoir, credence, table and chair — Embroideries—Definition of Chambre—Textiles and Tapestries— Ecclesiastical hangings- Taoestiy-weavers— Tapestry of Phili]> the Bold—Flemish Looms -Cordovan and F!?mish Leathers—-Goldsmith's Work—Glass and Glass-workers—Guilds ot St. Luke.

IN the turbulent flays of the Middle Ages, the goods of the Church were the only ones respected, and, sometimes, not even those. The castles afforded protection to those n the1" inmediate vicinity, but rival feudal ambitions rendered the calling of a luxurious craftsman more or less precarious. The abbey walls always sheltered a community of carpenters, ioiners, leather-dressers, i-on workers, goldsnrths, sculptors, painters and calligraphists.

Towards the end of the Crusades, the new organisation of the Communes, after the period of anarchy, becomes firmly established. Industry, commerce and art begin to make rapid strides in the towns, and crafts men form themselves into corporations that receive special privileges from their titular overlords. So long as the artists of the ecclesiastical school remained under the protection of the monastic houses, they naturally followed a hieratic road. The ornamentation they were called upon to produce for the Church, they reproduced when luxurious furniture was required in domestic lite. The great Corporations, however, as they grew in wealth and power, demanded something superior to, or at least, different from, the work of their forerunners. In the monastic houses, it was long before this influence made itself felt i but among tne secular clergy t received a hearty welcome.

The distinguishing character of Mediaeval work is the freedom of execution allowed to the; workman. The architect decided on heights, dimensions, dispositions of parts and profiles of stalls, or armo 'res; but the details were left to be worked out by the. ar j stir, ability of the skilled workman. Individual expression was allowed full play, while the original conception of the designer was respected.

GraduaUy, as the Communes became more powerful and were able to afford stable protection to their members, the sf 'lit of association and solidarity tended to break away from exclusively ecclesiastical art.

The art of wood-car ,ing was developed principally in the produc+ion of choir-stalls and altar-pieces. The building of a beautiful temple to the glory of God was usually begun by some pious founder from motives oi grat'i ude or repentance. It was dedicated to some patron saint, and the work was carried out under the supervision of some abbey or other religious house. Often the church or cathedral was originally the abbey church Itself. In early Mediaeval days, the arts and sciences were confined to the cloister, and the embellish-

ment of the Holy House was a labour of love. Many an obscure monk put all that was beautiful and fanciful ilt his nature into the production of carvings in stone and wood that have never been surpassed.

The precise date at which choir-stalls were itro-duced into churches is not known ; but it is certain that they were in general use as soon as the Feinted Style was finally established, that is to say, not later than the thirteenth century. When the sanctuary was ra led off from the rest of the church, the priests, n their light garb, naturallv wanted to be protected from cold, damD and draught by woodwork, which, l<ke the high back of a settle, enclosed the choir.

The stall is composed of several parts : the socle, the tablet, or seat, half of which can be raised, as it turns on hinges, the half thus raised, called the miséricorde, serves as a support for a person resting, hall standing, half sitting ; the paraclosc, or sides that separate ;t from the adjoining stalls [the forward extremities of these are called nuseaux (snouts)] ; the arm rest ; the high back ; the da'is, or baldaquin ; and, lastly, the woodwork at each end of a set of stalls, called joutes (cheeks).

With the exceptions of the socle and seat, every part of the st?ll in all the great Gothic churches has received very richly carved ornamentation, w' ch is often remarkable for ts profusion of detai1.

The miséricorde is ordinarily decorated with foliage and fruits ; but it often presents fantastic objects, such as dragons, sirens, dogs, bears, and hybrid monsters of every kind. Frequently alsr we find personages in

ridiculous and gross attitudes, and all sorts of human and animal caricatures. The paraclose is decorated with Gothic traccry in the ear. iest examples; and later with foliage, tendrils and branches of elegant curve. These are usually open -work, the pierced oak producing a charmingly light and graceful eflect. Sometimes here also we find human and an nal forms. The high backs are enriched with bas-reliefs, the subjects of which are by no means taken exclusively from the Old or New Testament. On the contrary, here the carvers have given free rein to their fancy by reproducing scenes of pxivate life, and graceful compositions of flowers and fruits 'with little animals intermingled. Sometimes the Subjects arc framed in clusters of colonnettes, 01 n pilasters decorated with niches conta ling statues. Sometimes also statues of considerable size adorn tliis woodwork. The j'wees receive the mos+ bf autiful decora+;.ons, and frequently these side entrances to the stalls are ornamented by statues. The dais, which at first was merely a shelter of boards on an nc lined plane over the whole range of stalls, began to assume great importance in the fifteenth century. It curved into vaultings; and very soon each seat received a separate dais decorated with ogives, pinnacles, little steeples, pendentives, culs-de-lampe and crockets; and the skilful carver did not hesitate to ■■ltroduce delightful statuettes into the company of all these decorations.

A fine example of a Mediaeval caned oak stall is shown :n Plate I. By the richness of the carving it must originally have held an important position in some choir. Ri(hly ornamented with Gothic shafting and

Flemish Furniture

tracery, it is a splendid example of architectural furniture. The miséricorde represents a knight fighting with a dragon. The scene depicted with the chisel on the back is the favourite Judgment of Solomon. Around the elbows are various animals and men on all fours. The side scrolls under the dai's are decorated with angels playing trumpets.

The names of the carvers who embellished the Mediaeval cnoirs have, as a rule, been lost ; and fire and icono-clasm have destroyed most of their work. Some few relics, however, of the splendour of wood-carving as *t existed before the Renaissance are st II to be found. For elaborate oak carving of the fifteenth century, it would be hard to find a more interesting example than the carv ed oak stalls in the great church of Bolsward (Broe-derkerk) in Holland. This was built in 1280 ; but the Lchly carved late Gothic choir stalls date from about 1450.

One of the earliest churches of the Low Countries is that of Nivelles. The convent was founded about 650 A.D. by Ita, wife of Pepin of Landen. The Romanesque church, bui't in the eleventh century, somewhat spoilt by bail restoration, atill stands. On the high altar is the shrine of St. Gertrude, which was carved in 1272 by the orfèvres Nicolas Colars, of Douai and Jackenon of Nivelles. This work of art is famous for the delicacy and beauty of its details.

The Protestant Church of Breda fHervormde Kerk), built in 1290, alio contains notable carving, especially 011 the side entrances of the stalls (jouées). The choir was consecrated in 1410, and here the carvers gave free

rein to satire on the clergy, representing the monks in various comical attitudes:

Examples of ecclesiastical furniture of Med'aeval days are naturally scarce, as might be expected on the " Battlefield of Europe." It is indeed astonishing that so much has survived alter the ordeal by fire and sword to which the Netherlands have been so often subjected. Occasionally we come across a muniment chest. An interesting one, the front of which is perforated with quatrefoils, is to be seen in Notre Dame, Huy. This dates from 1225. Two others '.n the same treasury are by the hand of Godefroid de Claire, called " the noble high goldsmith"; these, however, have lost the; original character, having been restored in 15O0 by Jaspar, a Namur goldsmith.

The ordinary movable fun; iturc of a castle or Mediaeval mansion was of a very prinrrive character. It must be remembered that in those days merchants travelled from town to town in veritable caravans. Nobles whose business or pleasure induced them constantly to be changing their residence, also travelled with an escort and baggage-train that resembled a small army. The necessary furniture and goods for the comfort of the household were carried in carts and on the backs oi mules. The wooden furniture was, therefore, primitive. The tables consisted of boards and trestles ; the beds were of similarly elemental construction; and what seats were taken along were also ol the folding variety.

he beds and benches were supplied with cushions carried in chests, and the walls were hung with printed linen or tapestry, while the floors were covered with

rugs, or, in the majority of cases, with odoriferous plants, rushes, or straw. Luxury chiefly declared tself in rich products of the goldsmith's art. which were displayed on buftets of shelves rising like steps. These customs prevailed for several centuries.

Pieces of lurniture of earlier date than 1400 are exceedingly rare; and those existing had a religious destination, and are preserved in, or taken from, churches and convents.

In the fourteenth century, as Gothic Art blossomed alter the disturbing influence of the Crusades, carving entered more extensively into the decoration of furniture, as it was more highly developed in ecclesiastical art The cabinetmakers of the period were skilful carvers : in France and Flanders these hv.chiers-menuisicrs were called upon to supply royal and princely castles with artistic fur iture, the accounts of which have come down to us. We rind not only carved oak, but also tables -ilaid with ebony and ivory. The chief feature, however, of interior decoration during the fourteenth century was the hangings. The Genoese and Venetians stil1 had a monopoly of the trade with the Levant; and Furope was supplied by the Italians with Orient a1 rugs, tablecloths and hangings. The Flemish looms also produced rich stuffs for upholstery and chamber hangings, which were often sumptuously embroidered.

Through the fourteenth century, wood-carving kept pace with the lovely stone sculpture of the cathedrals. We lean: there was no light furniture in palace or castle, but that even in the lady's chamber there were only benches, trestles, forms, faldstools and armchairs. The

wood-carver carved these vpth a mass of bas-reliefs and bosses ; the carpenters surrounded them with panelling ; and the artists painted them red and decorated them with white rosettes.

In studying the arts and crafts of the Middle Ages, we must always bear in mind the fact that art was not specialized. The workmen were thoroughly tramed, and their artistic talents had free play. We iind many men who were at once architects, sculptors, painters, goldsmiths and image-makers. This condition existed till the middle, of the seventeenth century.

In the Middle Ages, the carpenter made the household furniture which formed an integral part of the dwelling; and he was quite capable of giving to it the Gothic ornamentation m vogue.

It was not till the fourteenth century that the i ".crease of luxury and the progress of the arts demanded a division of labour ; and that the huchiers and joiners formed separate bod'es from the carpenters. The huchiers, who then became exclusively what we should now call ioiners and cabinetmakers, devoted their attention especially to all that required ornate treatment i l can ing, such as doors, windows, shutters and panelling, as well as chests, benches, bedsteads, chairs, dressers and wardrobes. These were largely fixtures and formed part of the permanent woodwork of a hall, or bedroom. The mouldings and other ornaments were carved directly out of the oak, and not applied.

Before the great artists of the Netherlands arise, we must go to the miniitures of early manuscr pts in crder to form a correct idea of a Mediaeval interior. We

Fig. i : algulferf. (Fifteenth Century); Fig. 2: Aiguikrf, (Fourteenth Centur)); Fig. 3: Bracket Candlestick; fig. 4- Bed, Chair, and Stool (Fourteenth Century); Fig. 5: Bahut and Chair (Fifteenth Century).

usually lind a very simple arrangement of furniture, which consists of a bed, a bench, an arrnchaii and some kind of drcssoir, or sideboard. The floor is tiled, or tessellated ; and sometimes the bed stands on a rug or carpet, which also covers part of the adjoiring floor space. The windows with small leaded panes are supplied with shutters of two or three wings : these are sometimes covered with leather fastened with large brass-headed nails. The chimney-piece *'s always wide and high; the funnel shape of this occurs in the earliest examples. The shelf above the opening is usually adorned with glass, plate or earthenware. The armchair stands beside, or near, the bed; the dressoir is close by; and the settle is beside, or sometimes in front of, the fire. The bed is often notiiing but a long chest on short legs with a mattress and pillows on top ; and this is moved out in front of the fire iis case of need. The curtains and canopy are, suspended by cords from the rafters, as is also the chandelier.

This same arrangement of furniture occurs ;n a picture of the Salutation, angelique n the Louvre, by an unknown Flemish painter : it has been attributed both to Lucas van Levden and MemJing! This room, reproduced in. Plate II, is one of the middle class at the end of the fifteenth century. The walls are bare, the ceiling shows open rafters of natural wood, and the floor is tiled. The panes of the windows are leaded, and the inner shutters, which are trebly lunged so as at need to fold into the thickness of the wall, are, moreover, divided iujtwo parts, so that only the top may be opened if needed. The other w indow has a window seat. The high chimney-

piece is furnished with the lateral shelves in use throughout Mediaeval times from the twelfth century onward. The chimney diminishes in size as it rises, like an averted tunnel. In summer time, when the fire was not needed, the fireplace was masked by a wooden screen to prevent draughts. In front of this, with its back to the screen, was placed the high-backed settle, which in winter iaced, or was placed laterally to the cheerful blaze of the hearth. The bench shown in this picture is made of plain beards, with a little plain Gothic caning below the seat. For comfort, it is supplied with three red cushions. The bed, which is raised on a low platform, is also furnished with red, bolster and counterpane. The tester is suspended by cords from the ceiling. Beside the head of the bed is a cha r, and next to that a credence, which is used as a wash-hand stand. On it are placed a ewer ami shallow ba^in. These, and the brass chandelier hanging above, are of the manufacture of Dinant, a metal ware knowr all over Europe, under the name of Dinanderie. The chandelier has six branches, each a grotesque form of some ar.irnal, and the top of it is surmounted by the figure of a seated quadruped. It is raised and lowered by a pulley and chain.

The ewer, or aiguière, standing on the credence, is an excellent specimen of Dinande/i? of the fifteenth century ; \t has a double spout, as shown in Fig. i. Other examples of Dinanderie of this period are represented n Fig. 2, a grotesque aiguière ; and Fig 3, a bracket candlestick of very graceful form.

Dinanderie became celebrated as early as the thirteenth century. Although made at first in Dinant, its manu-

facture spread throughout the valley of the Meuse, and Dinantairs were established in various cities and towns in the Netherlands, Germany, England and France. In 1380, one Jehan de Dinant, living at Rheims, furnished some articles to the King. Among the copper and brass ware delivered at this period to the royal household and to the establishments of other great personages by this workman, we find all kinds of kitchen articles, cooking utensils, stoves of all sizes, wash-basins, kettles for heating water for the bath, barbers' basins, large boilers of all kinds, warming-pans for the beds, candlesticks, chandeliers, and aiguières (ewers).

The permanent woodwork of the apartments n Mediaeval days was furniture, without being " movables," just like the carved oak ï 1 the choir of a cathedral. The panelling contained cupboards and wardrobes ; bedsteads were contrived n the timbered lining of tne walls ; and the woodwork reaiiilv lent itself to the adaptation of window seats, settles and benches. It may easily be understood how the woodwork of a room might conceal a whole series of shelves to which sliding panels, or panels opening outwards as doors, gave access. These various compartments served as cabinets for curios, bookcases, glass and plate cupboards, wardrobes and larders. When one of these compartments was made as a separate piece of furniture to stand by itself out against the flat wall of a room, it was called a cabinet, or armoire. As late as the middle, of the seventeenth century, however, the armoire was generally part of the fixed woodwork. Relax was another name for it. Thus in 1635, Monet defines armoire, armaire, aumoire as a

" reservoir pratique en la muraille d seroir et garder tout chose { and Cotgrave (1673) has : " Relai " as ft armaire, a hole or box contrived in <jr against a wall."

The plain box, or chest, was the origin of all the developments of Mediaeval furniture. It had many uses : it contained the treasures and valuables of the lord ; it was used as a packing-case or trunk for travelling ; with supports at the four corners and back, and arms added above, it served as a chair or settle, with a seat that could be lifted on hinges; raised also on legs and supplied with a dais, it became a dressoir, credence, or sideboard; chest-upon- chest superimposed, developed into the elaborate armoire; and, tinallv, supplied with a head and foot rail and made comfortable with mattress or pillows, it served as a bed.

In the old manuscripts of the Middle Ages, we rind many illustrations of the developments of the chest and its various uses. Fig. 4 shows a long chest with short solid legs on which bedding is laid, and over which a canopy with curtains has been raised. 13)' its side is a chaii, the seat of which is manifestly the lid of a small chest. The chest-bed and chai" stand on a carpet: the iloor ;s tiled. The shape of the pillow '-s characteristic of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The carving of the panels in bed and chaii show the " linen fold," which was so popular in the Netherlands and which was laid in even more intricate folds by the English carvers. Gothic tracery m furniture, ;n combination with the " 'men-fold " is shown in the chair of Fig. 5, which exhibits also another chest, or bahut. The original llustration shows flames leapi lg up the chimney, against

which the bed is closely placed. The cushions, with heavy tassels at each corner, arc similar n shape to those in Fig. 4.

There were several varieties of the chest, known by various names, such as huche, bahut and arche. The huche usually had a flat top : it was the oldest and simplest form—a plain oblong box. As time wore on the huche gave its name to the cabinet-makers (the huchiers) of the Middle Ages. They made wrtdows, doors, panels, shutters, bancs, bahuts, armoires, credences, and whatever else was required ; ana the guild of huchiers was one of the largest corporations of the period.

The huchiers were particularly disl-nguished for their execution of choir-stalls and splendid carving. The huche, at first a very simple p ece of furniture, was later decorated with beautiful paintings and rich carv ings ; moreover, il was enriched and strengthened with chiselled and pierced iron hinges and locks.

The chests until the thirteenth century were works of simple carpentry. Tne faces consist of plain surfaces which are ornamented with paintings on l ien or leather ; and further adorned with hinges and clamps of pierced and wrought metal.

The bancs, benches or settles, were made in the Middle Ages by the huchiers. They were made of planks and often had backs and arms. In the fifteenth century, they were enriched with sculpture and surmounted by a canopy or dai's. They were also called formes or bancs d'œuvre. The Clury Museum possesses many fine examples of this period, both 1 i\ il and religious.

In the halls and bedrooms of the Mediaeval châteaux the lane is often seen placed laterally before the wide cliimney-piece, and its high back was very useful in keeping oft the draughts. It may be thought that their rigid form and absence of upholstery rendered them uncomfortable, but the numerous soft cushions with which they were suppL -d quite atoned for the absence of upholstery. {See Plate II.)

The chief use of the Mediaeval sideboard was the display of ornate plate, crystal and similar articles. The kitchen dresser with its shelves holding plates and dishes set upright against the wall is a 'ineal descendant of the old dressoir. The shelves of the dressoir were regulated by etiquette : every noble person could have a dressoir with three shelves ; others, only two ; royalty had four and five.

According to some authorities, the différence between the dressoir and the buffet is simply this : the dresson was intended to display the articles taken irom the buffet, and had no drawers and no cupboard ; the buffet, on the other hand, contained both drawers and cupboards. The buffet of our dining-rooms and our cellarets that close with lock and key, are therefore survivals of the credence of the Middle Ages.

Sometimes the credence and dressoir were combined ■n one piece, or rather the dressoir served as a credence. A small one shown in the illuminated MS. of the Histoire de Gérard, Comte de Nevers, has but one shelf, upon which the silver platters are arranged, leaning against the back, which is covered with some kind of fabric. The cupboard serving as a credcnce is covered with a

Flemish Chest Bench

I'lATI 111.—Flemish Dressoir (Fifteenth Century).

Figs. 6 7: Dressoirs (Fifteenth Century); F'ig. s : Tahl.e on Trestles; tig. 9: Metal Ciiair.

cloth on which are placed three silver ewers—aiguieres. This was, therefore, more of a buffet than a dressoir, for the real dressoir, as we have seen, was composed of shelves (gradins) and had a back (dorsal), or somet'mes a dais of stuff or sculptured wood.

Varieties of the dressoir of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries appear in Plate III, and Figs. 6 and 7, and a credence of the fifteenth century of Gothic decoration from the Cluny Museum, Paris, on Plate IV.

The Mediaeval table was a simple al'fair, with either fixed or movable supports. In mae casts out of ten, either in hall or cottage, it consisted simply of a board and trestles. In court and castle, kings and nobles sat only on one side, the other being left free for service, and for a clear view of the mummers, jongleurs and minstrels who entertained the company during the feast. These boards and trestles could be readily folded up and packed away in carts for travelling. A good example of the fifteenth century table of this construction occurs n a picture of Mary Magdalen at the feet of Jesus, by Deriok Routs (1410 -1475). This is represented in Fig. 8.

We have seen that the chest with its various developments—chair, bench, bed and dressoir—-furnished the Mediaeval chamber. The ordinary hail contained merely a plain bufiet and a table, consisting of boards and trestles, with simple forms for seats. Chairs there were none, except for the lord ami honoured guests at the. head of the board. It must not be supposed, however, that there was no attempt at comfort or decoral «on in the homes of the Middle Ages. It would be dirficult

to attach too much :mportance to the use of cushions and hangings.

We have already seen one form of chair in Figs. 4 and 5, which show a box with a lid for the seat, on which is a cushion. This chair has arms and a high panelled back. The common stool, faldstool, or cscarbeau also appears in Fig. 4. The rigid square high-back<;d chair, however, was not the only form known in the Middle Ages. The type represented in Fig. 9 was in great favour. This chaii is reproduced from a miniature by Jehan de Bruges (11. 1370). This form of chair, with curved lines in the back, arms and supports, was a great favoui'te, not only 1 the Netherlands, but throughout Europe for several centuries. Sometimes it was made of wood, and carved on the extremities of the back, arms and legs; and sometimes it was made of wrought metal, brass, silver and even gold. In the latter case it was probably plated. Sometimes the inventories mention chairs of great value and very precious workmanship. Some of them were even ornamented with enamel. These were the work of the orfèvre. Brass and copper chairs of this type were made in large numbers by the skilful snàths of Dinant. Naturally they were comfortably and sumptuously upholstered. An inventory of 1328 contains an tem of a chair of copper garnished w';h velvet.

Flanders was always famous for its woven stuffs : wool was the staple on which its prosperity depended. The Duke of Burgundy recognized this when he chose the Golden Fleece as the emblem of his great Order of Knighthood. Apart frum the looms, the art of the

needle was also held in high esteem | and ladies of high and low estate devoted much of their time to embroidery.

Everything was embroidered : vestments ami cloths for the church j shoes, gloves, hats and clothes of men and women; and cushions and draperies for the house. Notwithstanding the lavish use of tapestry, the taste for embroidered materials was ever on the increase. The entire furnishings for a bedroom were often the product of the needle ; for instance, the " embroi lered chamber" of Jane of Burgundy, Queen of Pfrlip V, at her coronation at Rheims in 1330, was ornamented with 1321 parrots, with the arms of the King, and 1321 butterflies, with the arms of Burgundy.

In Mediaeval days, the word " chamh/e" had a broader signification than it has to-day. By chamhre wab meant the whole of the rugs, curta: is, hangings and upholstery that adorned a bedroom. There was a distinction drawn between " " and " tup-isserie ". " Courtpointcrie " ncluded everything p^rta1'cling to the bed, such as the dai's, mattress, headboard, etc. The " tafissene " was changed every season like the altar cloths and vestments of church and clergv. Cords were run across the rafters, and the curtains and canopies were hung on these with hooks. Thus the rooms at the various seasons received such names as the "Easter," "Christmas," or "All Saints' Chamber." Then again the rooms were named after the subjects (mythological,, romantic or religious), of the tapestry that adorned them, such as the Chamber of the Cross, of the 1 Lons, of the Conquest of England, of Queen

17 2

Penthesile, of the Nine Paladins, of the Unicorn and Maiden, etc., etc.

Plate II shows how the canopy and curtains of the bed were usually supported. Sometimes, however, the hangings were attached to the rods by means of tenterhooks.

The inventories and chroricles of the Middle Ages frequently mention textiles ; but it is c lificult to know from the numerous terms the oM scr ,bes employ whether they are describing woollen and oilk tapestry, brocades, damasks, velvets, or embroidered material. The fabrics are of many varieties, and their names vary wi':h the details of production and places of manufacture, as well as the material of which they are composed, and the subjects they depict.

A great deal of By/antine tapestry, with other hangings and carpets, was brought nto Western Europe, by those returning from the First Crusadp (1096-1099); and after 1146, when Count Robert of Sicily brought home from his expedition into Greece some captive silk-workers, and established a manufactory for brocades ani damasks at Palermo, beau1 ful mate als were carried northward trom Italy.

During the early centuries the use of tapestry was very extensively devoted to the decoration of churches, and therefore represented scenes frum the Scriptures, and lives of the Saints and the Virgin.

Cathedrals and monasteries were very rvh 1 hangings of tapestry, brocades, and embm.deries of various kinds, as well as stuffs on which ornaments were laid and sewn. About 985, the Abbot Robert of the monastery

of Saint Florent of Saumur, ordered a number of curtains, carpets, cushions, dossers and wall-hangings, all of wool; and, moreover, had two large pieces of tapestrv made in which silk was ntroduced, and on which lions and elephants were represented upon a red background.

In 1133, another Abbot of the same monastery had two dossers made to hang in the chc r during festivals. On one of these the twenty-four elders of the Apocalvpse with citharas and viols were depicted. The hangings he got for the nave, represented centaurs, lions and other an nals.

On all festal occasions, the cathedrals were beautifully decorated with superb tapestries. Some of them served as hangings and door-curtams, others draped the altars, while the seats and backs of the benches were covered with pieces callcd bancalia, spalcrae, and dossa'ia. Tapestries also covered the baldachins, or canopies; and foot-carpets, called subsiraforiz, tapetes, tapeta, or tapecii were lavishly spread upon the ground.

During the thirteenth century tapestries came nto general use for hangings in pri rate mansions. It is not anlikely that Baldwin, Count of Flanders, who came into power in 1204, stimulated the work of the Netherland looms; for, from the very opei nng years of the thirteenth century, the Flemish weavers adopted brighter colours in their tapestries; and Damme, the poet of Bruges, received all kinds of goods from the East, including " seeds for producing the scarlet dye."

This was the period when the Roman was in full flower, and the tapestries naturally turned from Bib1 -cal to heroic stories. The artists and weavers now

begin to devote their energies to the production oi secular subjects. The stories of Pans and Helen, .Eneas, and others from Grecian mythology, become as popular as those inspired by the Bible.

High-vvarj.) workers were established in Paris, Arras, Brussels and Tournai in the first half of the fourteenth century ; but it is not until the reign of Charles V (1364.1380} that they are explicitly described n the inventories. The King was a collector of French and Flemish tapestries : he had more than 130 armo: al tapestries and 33 " tapis a images " that decorated the walls.

The Dukes of Anjou, Orleans, Berry and "Burgundy, had very valuable sets. Charles VI also had fine pieces. He bought from Nicholas Bataille, a Flemish worker, who calls himself a citizen of Paris in 1363, about 250 hangings. Bataille produced many superb pieces for the wealthy houses of the day, and many sets for Ph:iip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. A fellow-worker, Jacques Dourdin, who died in 1407, made tapestries for the Duke of Burgundy, to whom he sent in 1389 The Conquest of the King of Friesland by Aubri the Burgundian, The Story of Marionet, Ladies netting uut for the Chase, be Wishes of Love, The Nine Amazons, The H story of Bertrand Duguesclin, and A History of the Romance of the Rose. The latter must have been very choi ce, as it was woven " in gold of Cyprus and Arras thread." He also furnished this rich patron Wi :h other hangings, the greater number of which were cloth of gold.

The marriage of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, to the daughter and heir of the Count of Flanders, in 1369, greatly helped the Flemish tapestry-workers,

who soon equalled those of Paris. For instance, the Duke gave an order to Michel Bernard of Arras for a fine piece, called The Battle of Rosbeck, of colossal dimensions. It measured 285 square yards, and cost 2,600 francs d't>r. Other sets purchased from the Arras looms were : The Coronation of Our Lady, The Seven Ages, Story of Doon de la Roche, History of King Pharaoh and the People of Moses, Life uf St. Margaret, The Virtues and Vices, History of Froimont de Bordeaux, Story of St. Geotge, Story of Shepherds and Shepherdesses, Life of St. Anne, Story of Percival the Gaul, Hunt of Guy of Romany, History of Amis and Amile, History of Octai'ius of Rime, History of King Clovis, History of King Alexander, and of Robert the Fusileer, History of William of Orange, and a Pastoral.

The Flemish looms thus early acquired a great reputation, rivalling those of the midland and northern proA inces of France. Paris, Arras, Brussels and Tournav were the chief centres for the most beautiful high-warp tapestrv. Arras was celebrated as early as 1311, when Marchaut, Countess of Artois, pa:d a large sum for " a woollen cloth worked with various figures bought at Arras " ; and in 1313 she ordered from the same town " five cloths worked in high warp." The name became generic : the Italian^ called all woven tapestries Arazzi ; the Spaniards, Panos de raz ; and the: English, " Arras," a name that was used foi many centuries. Polonius hides " behind the arras," in Hamlet, and Spenser, in The Faerie Queen, says :

1 hence 'o the hall, which was on every -.ide With rich array and costly arras light.

Agnes Sorel owned a superb specimen at her Château de Beauté in 1350. It is described as " a large piece of Arras, on which are pictured the deeds and battles of Judas Maccabaeus and Antiochus, and stretches from one of the gables of the gallery of Beauté to the other, and is the same height as the said gallery."

During the troublous times n France under Charles VI, the Paris looms ceased to work, and Flanders supplied all the tapestry that came to France. In 1395, the Duke of Orleans orders his treasurer to deliver to Jaquet Dordin, " merchant and bourgeois of Paris," 1,800 francs for " three pieces of high-war]) tapestry of fine Arras thread."

Leather was also extensively used during the Middle Ages for aterior decoration : t was hang upon the walls and beds ; it was spread upon the floors ; and it covered the seats and backs of chairs, coffers, cabinets, shelves, folding stools, frames, trames for mirrors, and all Kinds of boxes both large and small. In 1420, we hear of a piece of Cordov an called cuirace vermeil " to put on the floor around a bed," and also a % chamber hanging " of "silvered cmr de mouton, ornamented with red ligures." Charles V of France had " rifteen cuirs d'Arragon to put on the floor in summer," and the Duke of Burgundy's inventor}- of 1427 mentions " leathers to spread in the chamber i 1 summer time.*'

The Duke of Berry had twenty-nine great cuirs among his possessions, which were used to cover the walls, beds anil chairs.

Leather made a very sumptuous, durable and decorative wall-hanging. The patterns of flowers, foliage,

arms, devices and other figures were richly gilded, and stood out in high relief from the brillant backgrounds of red, blue, green, orange, violet, brown or silver. Although the use of gilded leather (cuirs dures) did not become general until the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the art of gilding, silvering, painting and goffering leather had long been known. It is more than probable that the First Crusaders brought home specimens ; but it is certain that Cordova was making beautiful gilded leathers in the eleventh century. The most beautiful, as well as the most beautifully worked, leathers came from Spain, where they were often called Guadamcciles, from Gha<lames in Africa where they were prepared for many years, and from which town the Moors carried the art into Cordova. Ebn' Abd el Noûr el Hamîri el Toûnsi (of Tunis), :n his geographical work written m the twelfth century , thinks it worth while to mention that the djild el Gkuclamosi comes from Ghadames. The monk, Theophilus, n his Divcrsaram artium Schedula shows how well Arabian leather was known, and describes the methods of preparing it tor decora1"'on ; but from what he says it appears that leather was used at that period only for the coverings of chairs, stalls, benches, stools, etc., and not for wall-hangings.

From Cordova the manufacture spread into Portugal, Italy, France and Brabant. The great centres for gilded leathers in the Middle Ages were Cordova, Lille, Brussels, Liège, Antwerp, Mechlin and Ver :ce ; and each town impressed a special style upon its productions, which connoisseurs are able to recognize.

The Cordovan leathers are stamped with patterns of very liigh relief, gilded and painted, the designs consisting of branches or large flowers :in the style of the textiles of Damascus and India. The South Kensington Museum has a very fine collection of Spanish leathers ornamented with foliage, flowers, vases, birds and pomegranates. The colours of the background are green, blue, white, gold, red, etc.

The Flemish leathers are very similar to those of Cordova, but the relief is less pronounced and the designs are more delicate. The hangings of Flanders are almost exclusively made of calfskin, and they were highly prized throughout Europe.

Generally speaking, the earliest specimens of gilded leathers resemble on a large scale the miniatures in the manuscripts : there :s little or no perspective, and the; subjects are like those of the contemporary tapestry drawn from sacred or mythological stories. The details of the faces, ornaments, costumes, arms, etc., arc stamped by hand-work and finished witn a brush ; and the background, instead of representing sky, is ornamented by guiJloches (twisted bands) in gold and colour, applied by means of a goffering iron.

The Low Countries were almost as celebrated for their orfèvrerie as for their tapestries. Celebrated schools of goldsmith's work existed in the Netherlands during the tenth and eleventh centuries in Waulsort under the direction of d'Erembert, in Stavelot and in Maestricht ; and the diocese of Liège had an important atelier for enamel-work in the twelfth century. A very skilful goldsmith named Godefroid de Clerc worked m the town of Huy in the first half of the thirteenth century,

and another was Friar Hugo, who made in the Abbaye d'Oignies the iamous pieces now n the treasury of the Sisters of Notre Dame in Namur.

The principal towns of Flanders, Ghent, Bruges, Tournay, liege and Brussels, possessed in the thirteenth century skilful goldsmiths who followed the principles of the School of the Rhine. In 1266, the Brussels goldsmiths formed an 'riportant Corporation to which John III, Count of Hainault, granted privileges. It was in the fourteenth century particularly that the Flemish goldsmiths acquired a great reputation.

A great deal of the goldsmith's work during these centuries was ornamented with niello, the style, of decoration following the Rhenish School.

The goldsmiths were sculptors, chisellers and engravers, as well as designers ; and, moreover, modelled beautifully 111 wax. When their works were cast in silver, they ornamented these themselves with beaten bas-reliefs, or traced delicate patterns upon the surface of the metal with the burin. Wishing to make, the figures stand out more prominently, they used cross-hatchings on the background and cut out the shadowy parts, which they then filled with black enamel. This made the uncovered portions of the silver shine with more brilliancy. To this effective work'was given the name niello (nigellum), on account of, its^colour. 1 his black enamel was used to ornament the chalices and other church vessels, the hilts of swords, 5 handles of knives, and particularly the handsome little "coffers, or cabinets, which, with the bahiit, comprised, the furniture that the bride always carried to her new

home. These little boxes were usually of ebony, ornamented more or less with :ncrustations of ivory, shell, mother-of-peari, pidra-dura, or niello, according to the wealth of the respective families. When decorated with niello, the designs consisted of simple ornaments or arabesques, single figures or groups.

Western Europe made no glass in Mediaeval days : what was used in church and castle all came from the East. In the early inventories, whenever an object of coloured glass is found, it is always accompani ed by a mention of its Oriental orgin. It is doubtful whether even plain glass was manufactured in England, France, Germany or the Netherlands before the close of the Crusades. The efforts made as late as the fourteenth century by several French and German princes to attract glass-blowers to their don nions shows how scarce they were.

In 1338, we rind a feudal noble giving a portion of his forest to a certain Gv'onet, who was acquainted with the methods of glass-making, to set ap a glass factory, on condition of supplying his house every year witn one hundred dozen bell glasses, twelve dozen little vase-shaped glasses, twenty dozen hanaps, or cups with feet, twelve amphorae, and other objects. As n all the other industrial arts, Flanders was well to the fore in the manufacture ot pla! 1 glass. Before 1400, glass factories existed there; but the products were only white glass, not gilded nor enamelled. The Flemish wares, however, were highly prized, and were freely exported to other countries. In 1379, we find n the inventory of Charles V of France: " Ung gobclet

2b et une aiguière de voirre hlant de Flandres garni d'argent."

To have glass mounted m silver shows how precious it was considered in those days. Moreover, the royal accounts of the end of the fourteenth century prove that Charles VI accorded high protection and recompense to the Flemish glasb-blowers who established their industry in France. Before the end of the. fifteenth century, we find entries tnat would seem to show that the Low Countries were no longer exclusively dependent on the Orient tor coloured and enamelled glass. In the inventory of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy (1477), we read : " Une coupe de mine jaune gamy d'or ; . . . une c^uppe de voirre vert gamy d'or ; . . ■ un pot de voirre de couleur vert, gamy d'or ; . . . un aiguière de voirre vert torssé garnye d'or ; . . . deux petis pots de voirre bleu espez, gamn d'argent duré ; . . . ung voirre taillé d'un esgle, d'un griffon et d'une double couronne gamy d'argent." These, however, may have come from Venice, which city had in the latter half of the fifteenth century learned from the Greeks the secret of making coloured, gilded anil enamelled glass.

Pa;nting on glass was never held n higher honour than during the fifteenth century : castles and mansions were adorned with coloured wiidows like the churches ; and, therefore, a considerable number of windows of this pe: od have survived. The Cathedrals of Tournay, Dietz and Antwerp offer splendid examples. In M. Levy's Histoire de la peinture sur verre, are the names of several Flemish glass-ptniters that have escaped oblivion.

The principal schools that fostered ah forms of

Decorative Art were the Guilds of St. Luke. They sprang up in every prosperous city, and were very close corporations of trades uniunism. The idea probably originated in Italy. A Society of St. Luke was established in Venice before 1290, and another in Florence in 1349. One Gerard de Groote organized a brotherhood of this kind in Cologne in the fourteenth century ; and Societies of St. Luke were founded in Flanders in the fifteenth century. These Guilds exerted the greatest influence upon taste and ski 1, for n these Societies of Guilds of St. Luke, side by side with the Masters of Painting and Sculpture, were placed what we may call the Masters of the Decorative Arts. There were workers in stone and marble including mosaics in colour for the decoration of churches and chapels; workers ,11 enamel and ceramics for vases, panelling and pavements; workers in wood, sculptors and carvers for the altar fronts, canopies, choir stalls, etc. (these menuisicrs also worked in marquetry and intarsic, anil produced furniture for the sacristy, coffers, buhuts, etc., and pontifical seats); glass-workers w ho produced windows, panels and embroideries with glass beads for decoration ; metalworkers, including goldsmiths, bronze-workers, who made sacred vessels, luminaries, fonts ornamented with repousse- work, chiselling, engraving, i, icrustat*on with precious stones and Viiello-niellure; leather-workers including makers of harness for wars and tourneys) ; giMers, setters of jewels; booKbinders; : luminators and pamters of manuscripts; weavers and embroiderers of tapestries, silken stuffs, etc.

Society benefited by development of|these arts very

greatly, and the sumptuous adornment of the churches soon extended to private dwellings. Carved panels, or panels inlaid with precious woods, soon decorated the walls ot wealth)' houses that were further enriched by magn ficent tissues of silk and gold, tapestries or panels of stamped leather as a background for pictures beautifully framed n carved and gilt wood. In marquetry funrture, the most remarkable objects were the coffers for iewels, and the cabinets (stipi), in ebony, shell and 'vory, embellished with gilt, bronze, and the dower chests, "arches de mariage."


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  • karoliina
    What does dinanderie veritable mean?
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