Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

shows them on the border of the dress of the Virgin in the church of Santa Maria Novella at Florence. So also in a similar subject by Vitale of Bologna, 1345, and Christopher of Bologna, 1380, where also the robe of the Virgin has the lyre-shaped ornament all over it. But abundant examples may be found in our National Gallery in the works of Andrea Orcagna, Taddeo Gaddi, etc., and they are especially shown in the beautiful picture of the Annunciation by Fra Filippo Lippi, on the border of the dress of the Virgin and cuff of the Angel Gabriel. I here give an example from Spinello Aretino (Fig. 4), and another of same date (Fig. 5), side by side with one taken from St. John's tunic in the Crucifixion (Fig. 6), where the identity of

[ocr errors]

127

LGZLVL

Fig. 4.

Fig. 6.

Fig. 6.

character is obvious. But artists used considerable licence in forms, and never exactly repeated them. These simulated letters continued to be in use until the approach of the Renaissance, and some examples may be found even as late as the sixteenth century. Of their special meaning I find no clue, but I should rather suppose that the practice of placing them on the borders of garments was derived from the phylactery rather than from the passage in Numbers suggested by Mr. Way. I can trace little resemblance to any form of Hebrew characters.

be well to pursue this subject a little further. Mr. Hope alludes to these forms as “ Arabian," which I have long held as probable, though the imitation is

It may

somewhat remote. Arabian characters are seen, even now, in Oriental fabrics, and it was through Italy that the fine dyes of the East were introduced to the West. In this translation also came two new words, viz., scarlet and crimson (scarlato, cremesino), derived from the Arabic, to distinguish two shades of red, as, previously, nearly all shades were included under the term “purple,” from the Greek “Fogpugtos," which still survives in “porporati,” as applied to cardinals and in “purpurino,” which Florio translates as "a lively red colour that women use for painting, called cheeke vernish.” It was, doubtless, through the crusades, or it might be from the early connection of the Saracens with Italy and the Norman occupation of the South, that fabrics from the East originated those of Italy, and subsequently of Flanders. Therefore that these forms had an Arabian origin is extremely probable, and I have previously alluded to the Oriental character of other details.

I have already referred to the special treatment of the angels in early Italian art, and I here give a representation of the cherub from the Crucifixion at

Fig. 7.

St. Michael at Plea, which is really typical, and can in no way be paralleled in any English art of the time, yet is characteristic of that of Italian of the fourteenth century (Fig. 7). I had described the termination as

[ocr errors]

Fig. 8.

being flame, from its red colour; it is most likely, however, meant for cloud, and in that case must be contrasted with the very different convention in English medieval art, as is so well shown in the magnificent illuminated page of the Litlington Missal, where the same subject is treated. The angels there are attenuated figures, issuing from clouds, represented by the wellknown nebuly convention of English art, precisely similar to what is seen in the carvings of the roof of Mildenhall

Church, Suffolk, as here shown from an example of the fourteenth century (Fig. 8), and it is conclusive that both forms could not have belonged to the same school. An Italian banner of the fourteenth century in the South Kensington Museum, with the

subject of the Crucifixion, though rude in treatment, illustrates the convention of the angel as above and its distinctive art, as well as the fold previously alluded to in the parazonium.

The irradiated aureole of the Ascension, the plan of which is here given (Fig. 9), is totally different in its boundary, and unlike what is seen in English work as above given (Fig. 8). The projecting rays take a character which greatly developed in Italian art. Lippio di Dalmasio (752) and Pesellino (727), in our national collection, illustrate its growth, and the first is contemporary with the works under consideration. But this character is seen in woodcuts as late as the sixteenth century in works published in Venice.

Sir Digby Wyatt alluded to the treatment of the hands, to which he applied the term “effilé.” Having a preference for the language of Shakespeare and Milton, I would

Fig. 9.

Fig. 10.

suggest the heraldic term "displayed” as more intelligible. The peculiarity is seen in Christ bearing the Cross, the Crucifixion and Resurrection, and, at Karlstein, it is also to be found in the subject to which I have referred. In fact, it was a conventional affectation, which seems to have arisen in the Tuscan school, and can be traced even in the works of Orcagna, but disappeared as art advanced.

The annexed cut (Fig. 10) may serve to give a proximate date to the works in question. It is copied from the

Crucifixion of Spinello Aretino, out of a group of soldiers and others, and the sharply-pointed bascinet, with its spinous process over the brow, occurs also in the Betrayal, at St. Michael at Plea, and as the latter pėculiarity is generally found in our brasses at the end of the fourteenth century,

1380-1400, it is safer to refer it to the later date. The coif, with its peak by its side, is identical in both shape and colour, being red, with that worn, but without the torse, by the official holding the mace, and I do not recognise it as familiar to English costume.

I have thus given the evidence by which I support my opinion, for an opinion without evidence is without value. Of the ethnology of the artist we know nothing. He may have been English, or Flemish, or Italian; that his teaching must have had its source with the latter, the details I have given declare.

In the works alluded to, the known conventions of English medieval art are set aside, as I have shown, and those of Italian art adopted. We must bear in mind that all ecclesiastical and conventional art was obedient to a law, and monastic communities, especially of some orders, had their travelling artists. Cæsarius of Heisterbach, of the Cistercian order, in the thirteenth century makes especial allusion to one celebrated for his Crucifixions, and through this practice art was disseminated throughout Europe. From the inequalities shown in the retable, I am inclined to think that the artist had been a miniaturist, for his defects are those of one accustomed to small work, and his excellencies in delicacy of touch point to the same conclusion, to which one might add his distribution of ornament.

I must here allude to an argument or suggestion, for I do not wish to misinterpret, that has been made by way of showing that the retable was painted by one John Ocle. It is interesting to know that John and Robert Ocle were painters in Norfolk and Suffolk at the beginning of the fifteenth century. As the subject was placed before me by Mr. Hope, I was told to note that two of the backgrounds in relief were on the theme of the oak; that St. John the Evangelist was specially distinguished by his garment of the rayed cloth of gold of Lucca, and that in the Resurrection the two shields of the Passion were suspended from the necks of eagles, the eagles being the emblem of St. John. My answer is, that the oak is as constant as the vine in ecclesiastical art, and it is obviously introduced here as an alternative to avoid monotony, and it is in two out of five only. But had the whole five panels had the theme of the oak for a background, it could never be accepted as a rebus, as it would be outside all our experience, but when in the minority it is impossible. As regards the specialization of St. John whether by cloth of gold or not, it is immaterial, for if there be one fact in ecclesiastical art more patent than another, it is the constant manner in which the Evangelist is pointed out in the Crucifixion and Ascension. No law is more complete. Touching the eagles they are given according to the heraldic form“ displayed,” which is frequent in diapers of the fourteenth century,

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »