Guides to Fine Arts Like Painting, Designing, Architecture, Sculpture, Photography and More

THE CENTRAL, OR ROMANESQUE PERIOD.

During the Romanesque Period (950-1250) architecture was pursued according to laws which had grown out of the achievements and experiences of earlier ages, and had reached such a perfection as entitled it to the rank of a noble art. But this was not true of painting, which was then but little more than the painting of the Egyptians had been, that is, a sort of picture-writing, which was principally used to illustrate the doctrines of religion, and by this means to teach them to peoples who had no books, and could not have read them had they existed.

During all this time the art of painting was largely under the control of the priests. Some artists were priests themselves, and those who were not were under the direction of some church dignitary. Popes, bishops, abbots, and so on, were the principal patrons of art, and they suggested to the artists the subjects to be painted, and then the pictures were used for the decoration of churches and other buildings used by the religious orders. The monks were largely occupied in miniature-painting; artists frequented the monasteries, and, indeed, when they were engaged upon religious subjects, they were frequently under the same discipline as that of the monks themselves.

Next to the influence of the church came that of the court; but in a way it was much the same, for the clergy had great influence at court, and, although painting was used to serve the luxury of sovereigns and nobles, it was also true that these high personages often employed artists to decorate chapels and to paint altar-pieces for churches at their expense, for during the Romanesque period there was some painting on panels. At first these panel-pictures were placed on the front of the altar where draperies had formerly been used: later they were raised above the altar, and also put in various parts of the church. The painting of the Romanesque period was merely a decline, and there can be little more said of it than is told by that one word.

Glass-painting dates from this time. The very earliest specimens of which we know are from the eleventh century. Before that time there had been transparent mosaics made by putting together bits of colored glass, and arranging them in simple, set and ornamental patterns. Such mosaics date from the earliest days of Christianity, and were in use as soon as glass was used for windows. From ancient writings we know that some windows were made with pictures upon them as long ago as a.d. 989; but nothing now remains from that remote date.

There is a doubt as to whether glass-painting originated in France or Germany. Some French authors ascribe its invention to Germany, while some German writers accord the same honor to France. Remains of glass-painting of the eleventh century have been found in both these countries; but it is probable that five windows in the Cathedral of Augsburg date from 1065, and are a little older than any others of which we know. This picture of David is from one of them, and is probably as old as any painted window in existence.

Fig. 21.—King David. From a window in Augsburg Cathedral.

The oldest glass-painting in France is probably a single fragment in the Cathedral of Le Mans. This cathedral was completed in 1093, but was badly burned in 1136, so that but a single piece of its windows remains; this has been inserted in a new window in the choir, and is thus preserved. With the beginning of the twelfth century, glass-painting became more frequent in Europe, and near the end of this century it was introduced into England, together with the Gothic style of architecture. Very soon a highly decorative effect was given to glass-painting, and the designs upon many windows were very much like those used in the miniatures of the same time. The stained glass in the Cathedral of St. Denis, near Paris, is very important. It dates from about 1140-1151, and was executed under the care of the famous Abbot Suger. He employed both French and German workmen, and decorated the entire length of the walls with painted windows. St. Denis was the first French cathedral in the full Gothic style of architecture. The present windows in St. Denis can scarcely be said to be the original ones, as the cathedral has suffered much from revolutions; but some of them have been restored as nearly as possible, and our illustration (Fig. 22) will give you a good idea of what its windows were.

Fig. 22.—Window. From the Cathedral of St. Denis.

The stripes which run across the ground in this window are red and blue, and the leaf border is in a light tone of color. There are nine medallions; the three upper ones have simply ornamental designs upon them, and the six lower ones have pictures of sacred subjects. The one given here is an Annunciation, in which the Abbot Suger kneels at the feet of the Virgin Mary. His figure interferes with the border of the medallion in a very unusual manner.

Perhaps the most important ancient glass-painting remaining in France is that of the west front of the Cathedral of Chartres. It dates from about 1125, when this front was begun; there are three windows, and their color is far superior to the glass of a later period, which is in the same cathedral. The earliest painted glass in England dates from about 1180. Some of the windows in Canterbury Cathedral correspond to those in the Cathedral of St. Denis.

In the Strasbourg Cathedral there are some splendid remains of painted glass of the Romanesque period, although they were much injured by the bombardment of 1870. Fig. 23 is from one of the west windows, and represents King Henry I.

This is an unusually fine example of the style of the period before the more elaborate Gothic manner had arisen; the quiet regularity of the drapery and the dignified air of the whole figure is very impressive.

An entirely different sort of colored windows was used in the churches and edifices which belonged to the Cistercian order of monks. The rule of this order was severe, and while they wished to soften the light within their churches, they believed it to be wrong to use anything which denoted pomp or splendor in the decoration of the house of God. For these reasons they invented what is called the grisaille glass: it is painted in regular patterns in gray tones of color. Sometimes these windows are varied by a leaf pattern in shades of green and brown, with occasional touches of bright color; but this is used very sparingly. Some of these grisaille windows are seen in France; but the finest are in Germany in the Cathedral of Heiligenkreuz: they date from the first half of the thirteenth century.

This entry was posted in Bookmark the rel='bookmark'>permalink.

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.