Arts and Crafts in the Middle Ages eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 318 pages of information about Arts and Crafts in the Middle Ages.

An old record of the screen of the chapel of St. Andrew at Westminster mentions that it was “adorned with curious carvings and engravings, and other imagery work of birds, flowers, cherubims, devices, mottoes, and coats of arms of many of the chief nobility painted thereon.  All done at the cost of Edmond Kirton, Abbot, who lies buried on the south side of the chapel under a plain gray marble slab.”  H. Keepe, who wrote of Westminster Abbey in 1683, mentioned the virgin over the Chapter House door as being “all richly enamelled and set forth with blue, some vestigia of all which are still remaining, whereby to judge of the former splendour and beauty thereof.”  Accounts make frequent mention of painters employed, one being “Peter of Spain,” and another William of Westminster, who was called the “king’s beloved painter.”

King Rene of Anjou was an amateur of much versatility; he painted and made many illuminations:  among other volumes, copies of his own works in prose and verse.  Aside from his personal claim to renown in the arts, he founded a school in which artists and sculptors were included.  One of the chief sculptors was Jean Poncet, who was followed in the king’s favour by his son Pons Poncet.  Poor Pons was something of a back-slider, being rather dissipated; but King Rene was fond of him, and gave him work to do when he was reduced to poverty.  The monument to his nurse, Tiphanie, at Saumur, was entrusted to Pons Poncet.  After the death of Pons, the chief sculptor of the court was Jacques Moreau.



(England and Germany)

A progressive history of English sculpture in stone could be compiled by going from church to church, and studying the tympana, over the doors, in Romanesque and Norman styles, and in following the works in the spandrils between the arches in early Gothic work.  First we find rude sculptures, not unlike those in France.  The Saxon work like the two low reliefs now to be seen in Chichester Cathedral show dug-out lines and almost flat modelling; then the Norman, slightly rounded, are full of historic interest and significance, though often lacking in beauty.  The two old panels alluded to, now in Chichester, were supposed to have been brought from Selsea Cathedral, having been executed about the twelfth century.  There is a good deal of Byzantine feeling in them; one represents the Raising of Lazarus, and the other, Our Lord entering the house of Mary and Martha.  The figures are long and stiff, and there is a certain quality in the treatment of draperies not unlike that in the figures at Chartres.

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Arts and Crafts in the Middle Ages from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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