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“Thanks to thee, little maid, for that word !' returned the stranger. * Better, thou sayest?'
‘Saint-André, speak thou, or I'll make thee!' exclaimed the Sire fiercely. “Is all as the child says ?'
And as Raoul answered in the affirmative, the old noble released him, and turning to the stranger, he said with a gentleness that was all the more marked after his late passion, ‘Gualtier, I am right glad.'
“Take me to him-let me see him,' was all the other replied; and in obedience to De Cervoles' command, Raoul led the way to the merchant's house.
This then was Gualtier de la Ferté ! This worn, bent, ill-clad stranger, ordered about by a ruffianly sea-captain, was the hero whom Raoul's fancy had pictured as a gallant and fearless knight! Even as he strode eagerly along the street after his guides, he gave place to every man he met, almost shrinking aside; while De Cervoles kept the middle of the road, and altered his course for no one. None of the party spoke till the two nobles had entered the merchant's house; and while De Cervoles was introducing himself to the good wife, who was rather dismayed by this sudden invasion, Gualtier turned to Françoise, and asked where Aloys was.
I shall startle him,' he said in his low subdued voice. "Tell him that his father has come home.'
But Gualtier had not long to wait. In a few minutes Françoise beckoned him into the inner room, Aloys raised himself on the bed with a little cry of pleasure, and the Crusader folded his only child in a long loving embrace.
(To be continued.)
· HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF ILLUMINATION.
(IN SIX PARTS.)
PART II.-BYZANTINE ILLUMINATION.
With the foundation of the Eastern Empire began a new era of art; and out of the Christian Faith arose new ideals of perfection, the embodiments of which had yet to be found. It was not for want of fine models or of Art Schools that Constantinople failed in laying a broad and good foundation for Christian art, for there can be little doubt that Constantine intended his new city to be the nursery of sculpture and architecture to the Roman Empire. It was with this idea that he made the ancient cities of Greece contribute their choicest treasures to enrich it, and that schools of architecture were founded in the surrounding provinces. But the first great epoch of art had passed away for ever. The new religion brought with it a vast treasury of symbolism and traditional lore, which sought for expression on the final emergence of the Church from persecution; and the forms of the ancient faiths could not be galvanized into life again by an age in which human life was passing into an entirely new stage of development, and to which the beautiful careless life of the Greeks, with all its forms of expression, had become a bright dream of the past.
Lifeless as pure Byzantine art was, for the most part, its chief interest lies in the great influences which it exercised throughout Europe, wherever the missions of the Eastern Church extended; for, polished and refined as was the wealthy city, it was not there, but among the rude conquerors of Lombardy, that the foundations of living art were again laid, and the way prepared for Nicolo Pisano and Giotto. In Rome itself, after several centuries of decline, art was in the sixth century hopelessly degraded; probably Eastern influence preserved its feeble existence, and Eastern artists composed the mosaics, some of which still remain in the Italian churches. These mosaics are the only works existing in sufficient numbers to enable us to form an idea of early Christian art. Manuscripts, being the most perishable of all kinds of painting, are very rare, ånd probably those of the earlier centuries must have perished from Rome and Ravenna during the invasions of the Goths. In Constantinople itself, and wherever its influence extended, mosaic became the most important branch of art, and the blank walls of the Roman basilicas were covered by Byzantine workmen, with the only kind of mural painting as yet discovered. Originating among the Byzantines, who probably learned the elements of the art from Eastern tribes, it yet could not be brought to perfection in the cramped schools of Byzantium, or under the despotism of the Eastern Church. Yet these early efforts attract interest and attention, when we remember that they were the beginnings of the art which was to find its consummation in the mosaics of St. Mark's and Murano, with pavements 'waved like the sea, and dyed like a dove's neck '-walls within and without a wealth of beauty, all burning gold, and richly stained glass and clear marbles—a noble inheritance for Venice, and a prestige of her future glory. It is possible that the knowledge of colour learned by the Byzantines in the treatment of mosaics may have been a reason for the comparatively deep tone of colour prevalent in all their early painting. It is especially noticeable in the illuminated MSS., from the fact that all other early work is quite pale in colouring till the eleventh century.
The great type of early Byzantine art is the celebrated Church of Santa Sofia, which is considered by architectural writers to form a starting-point, from which to date its commencement. It evidences, with contemporary work of all kinds, the transitional state of art at the period. The sculpture is to a great extent copied from Roman models, and there is an entire absence of animal life in it. The capitals seem combinations of all the old Greek orders, and many of them were actually
taken from old buildings, to be inserted in the new one. There could indeed be little to hope for the art of a people whose first models were from the debased work of Rome, and who, as time went on, reproduced the same types in yet feebler imitation. The lifelessness which marks the Byzantine work was, however, in part the result of the despotic sway exercised by the Eastern Church. Kügler mentions that in the argument brought forward at the Second Council of Nicæa, A. D. 787, in favour of the use of images in church, it was said, 'It is not the invention of the painter which creates the picture, but an inviolable rule, a tradition of the Catholic Church.' This traditional treatment of religious subjects has been adhered to by the Eastern Christians from that time, and is now, as it was in those early centuries, fatal to all progress in art.
The later Roman art died out after the sixth century, or became merged into that transplanted from Constantinople. Christian painting in Rome seems to bave adhered for a long time to the characteristics of the rude art of the Catacombs, as in the representation of events and persons by symbolical figures and classical legends ; our Lord being represented under the form of Orpheus and various other symbols. In 692 A. D., the Council of Constantinople proclaimed that the personal representation of Christ was to be preferred to the symbolical, and a new element was thus-introduced into Christian painting. One of the first examples extant of the representation of our Lord in human form is in a Syriac copy of the Gospels written in the sixth century in Mesopotamia, which became one of the chief schools of Eastern painting.
There is in this MS. a miniature of the Crucifixion, with soldiers at the foot of the Cross playing at a Roman game.
The ancient manner of writing among the Romans was that of using red and black inks for the text on white vellum ground; and this custom prevailed all over the Western Empire. There was, however, another method, which originated with the Greeks, and passed on from them to the Romans about the second century. This was the golden style,' which consisted of letters written in gold on vellum stained purple or rosecolour. It was most popular at Constantinople, and was there brought to great perfection, according, as it did, with the Eastern taste for costly and gorgeous ornament which prevailed there. Writing in silver is also to be met with, but very rarely; probably it was little practised on account of the tendency of silver to tarnish. One of the earliest remaining specimens of the golden style of writing is the Roman Calendar at Vienna, which is attributed to the third or fourth century. Some time later, coloured letters and ornaments on gold grounds were introduced; and the gradual increase of gold on the borders and other parts, indicate the diffusion of the Byzantine style. Another MS. of about the third century is the celebrated Virgil of the Vatican. It is richly decorated throughout with miniatures, the high lights in which are picked out with gold. The oldest copy of the entire Bible is the Greek Codex Alexandrinus, which was written early in the fifth century. In this MS. there is no gold, and the only ornamentation consists in the use of red ink and occasionally flourished lines. The 'Coitonian Genesis,' in the British Musem, which is also very ancient, has been unhappily nearly destroyed by fire. About the eighth century the art of staining vellum seems to have declined, and the colour used to have become duller; and gradually the custom prevailed of inserting only a few leaves of the stained material, perhaps the title-page or preface; or occasionally the centre of the page is coloured and the border left white. A curious characteristic of early MSS. was that of adopting classical images for the representation of ideas. Thus in a Byzantine Psalter of the ninth century Melody stands as a female figure by David's side ; further on, Wisdom and Prophecy are with him; and in another picture, Repentance. In a fine MS. of the wars of Joshua, the river Jordan is personified by a man leaning on an urn from which the water flows: the town of Gibeon is represented by a seated woman, with sceptre, crown, and nimbus. This MS. is written on a roll of fine parchment, and probably dates from the seventh century. In later times, when these symbolical figures appear in MSS., which they occasionally do till the thirteenth century, they are no longer dressed in the classical garments, but in the dresses worn by the Byzantine ladies of the period.
Almost all over the Western world and the Sclavonic North are found traces of Byzantine influence over art, especially in the ninth century. Early Arabian art was also strongly coloured by its characteristics, and in its turn seems to have mingled many of its peculiarities with the later work of the Byzantines. But about this time, another school of art was arising, which, though barbarous enough, had within it the germ of life and the promise of future power. This became ere long the root of all the Gothic art of Europe, and is known as the Lombardic school. While Byzantine art clung to its traditionary forms without an effort at progress or revival, this Lombard element grew year by year in knowledge and power; and, extending itself by means which we cannot trace, leavened all the early art of Europe. It has been noticed before that the Byzantine artists were obliged by the rules of their Church to confine the forms of their pictures within the limits prescribed by tradition ; so that their manner of representation has been for centuries the perpetual repetition of certain ancient models copied with increasing feebleness as the work became more mechanical. Gorgeous colours and splendour of gold and silver was all that remained to Byzantine painting after the tenth century. But in Lombard work there is no limit whatever to the subject or the mode of representing it, and its spirit inspired the schools of the widely-spread Byzantine style with new life and vigour. A glance at the figures of men and animals in any MS. of the period is sufficient to ascertain if the Lombard element has been at work. There dawns in the faces an expression never seen in the fixed stare of the melancholy visages in Byzantine paintings, and in the gestures and movements there is real life though rudely expressed. The animals, no longer nondescript monstrosities, are evidently observed to the best of the artist's power. Mr. Ruskin, in speaking of Lombardic art in one of his lectures, said, “You have often heard it said that Giotto was the founder of art in Italy. He was not ; neither he, nor Giunto Pisano, nor Nicolo Pisano. They all laid strong hands to the work, and brought it first into aspect above ground; but the foundation had been laid for them by the builders of the Lombardic churches in the valleys of the Adda and the Arno.'
It is noticeable that this early Gothic school exercised but a transient influence on the art of Constantinople and its immediate neighbourhood. And although in some Greek MSS. of the ninth and tenth centuries the Lombardic influence is traceable, the conventional types and mannerisms were with few exceptions rigidly adhered to, and Byzantine Illumination had become in the fourteenth century so bad, as to lose all claim to be called art.
In many Byzantine MSS. the initial letters are formed of human beings in all imaginable attributes; these are called anthropomorphical alphabets, and are many of them ingeniously designed, though this quaint conceit is never found in the best periods of Illumination.
Zoographical alphabets, or letters formed of birds and beasts, are still more common; but this is a taste which prevailed more or less in all times and places among Illuminators. The fish and serpent seem to have been special favourites, aud through the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries, whole alphabets are often to be met with formed of these two animals separately or woven together.
In 1203, when Constantinople was taken by the Venetians, the works of art suffered greatly, and many were consumed by fire. The capture of the city also caused numbers of artists to emigrate to Italy, which probably hastened the extinction of art in the ancient Byzantine schools. The glory had indeed departed from the splendid city, decked though she still was with all the lifeless beauty of gold and dazzling colours. For, till the end, the Byzantine Church surrounded herself with the splendours of costly mosaics and jewelled vestments and all the gorgeous appurtenances of a stately ritual. Till within the walls of that first work of the early Byzantines, the magnificent Church of Santa Sofia, the Bishops, Priests, Emperor, and nobles of the ill-fated city met to celebrate for the last time their grand old Liturgy before the silver altar, and beneath the 'golden dome,' which, tradition says, was lined with pure gold. But long ere that time the spirit of art had passed away from Constantinople, to find a new existence among the rude and barbarous Gothic hordes of Western Europe.
(To be continued.)