Arts and Crafts in
the Middle Ages

A Description of Mediaeval Workmanship in Several of the Departments of Applied Art, Together with Some Account of Special Artisans in the Early Renaissance


Author of "The Art of the Pitti Palace," "The Art of the National Gallery," "Classic Myths in Art," etc.


The very general and keen interest in the revival of arts and crafts in America is a sign full of promise and pleasure to those who are working among the so-called minor arts. One reads at every turn how greatly Ruskin and Morris have influenced handicraft: how much these men and their co-workers have modified the appearance of our streets and houses, our materials, textiles, utensils, and all other useful things in which it is possible to shock or to please the æsthetic taste, without otherwise affecting the value of these articles for their destined purposes.

In this connection it is interesting to look into the past, particularly to those centuries known as the Middle Ages, in which the handicrafts flourished in special perfection, and to see for ourselves how these crafts were pursued, and exactly what these arts really were. Many people talk learnedly of the delightful revival of the arts and crafts without having a very definite idea of the original processes which are being restored to popular favour. William Morris himself, although a great modern spirit, and reformer, felt the Page vi necessity of a basis of historic knowledge in all workers. "I do not think," he says, "that any man but one of the highest genius could do anything in these days without much study of ancient art, and even he would be much hindered if he lacked it." It is but turning to the original sources, then, to examine the progress of mediæval artistic crafts, and those sources are usually to be found preserved for our edification in enormous volumes of plates, inaccessible to most readers, and seldom with the kind of information which the average person would enjoy. There are very few books dealing with the arts and crafts of the olden time, which are adapted to inform those who have no intention of practising such arts, and yet who wish to understand and appreciate the examples which they see in numerous museums or exhibitions, and in travelling abroad. There are many of the arts and crafts which come under the daily observation of the tourist, which make no impression upon him and have no message for him, simply because he has never considered the subject of their origin and construction. After one has once studied the subject of historic carving, metal work, embroidery, tapestry, or illumination, one can never fail to look upon these things with intelligent interest and vastly increased pleasure.

Until the middle of the nineteenth century art had been regarded as a luxury for the rich dilettante,—the people heard little of it, and thought less. The utensils and furniture of the middle class were fashioned Page vii only with a view to utility; there was a popular belief that beautiful things were expensive, and the thrifty housekeeper who had no money to put into bric-à-brac never thought of such things as an artistic lamp shade or a well-coloured sofa cushion. Decorative art is well defined by Mr. Russell Sturgis: "Fine art applied to the making beautiful or interesting that which is made for utilitarian purposes."

Many people have an impression that the more ornate an article is, the more work has been lavished upon it. There never was a more erroneous idea. The diligent polish in order to secure nice plain surfaces, or the neat fitting of parts together, is infinitely more difficult than adding a florid casting to conceal clumsy workmanship. Of course certain forms of elaboration involve great pains and labour; but the mere fact that a piece of work is decorated does not show that it has cost any more in time and execution than if it were plain,—frequently many hours have been saved by the device of covering up defects with cheap ornament. How often one finds that a simple chair with a plain back costs more than one which is apparently elaborately carved! The reason is, that the plain one had to be made out of a decent piece of wood, while the ornate one was turned out of a poor piece, and then stamped with a pattern in order to attract the attention from the inferior material of which it was composed. The softer and poorer the wood, the deeper it was possible to stamp it at a single blow. The same principle applies to Page viii much work in metal. Flimsy bits of silverware stamped with cheap designs of flowers or fruits are attached to surfaces badly finished, while the work involved in making such a piece of plate with a plain surface would increase its cost three or four times.

A craft may easily be practised without art, and still serve its purpose; the alliance of the two is a means of giving pleasure as well as serving utility. But it is a mistake to suppose that because a design is artistic, its technical rendering is any the less important. Frequently curious articles are palmed off on us, and designated as "Arts and Crafts" ornaments, in which neither art nor craft plays its full share. Art does not consist only in original, unusual, or unfamiliar designs; craft does not mean hammering silver so that the hammer marks shall show; the best art is that which produces designs of grace and appropriateness, whether they are strikingly new or not, and the best craftsman is so skilful that he is able to go beyond the hammer marks, so to speak, and to produce with the hammer a surface as smooth as, and far more perfect than, that produced by an emery and burnisher. Some people think that "Arts and Crafts" means a combination which allows of poor work being concealed under a mask of æsthetic effect. Labour should not go forth blindly without art, and art should not proceed simply for the attainment of beauty without utility,—in other words, there should be an alliance between labour and art.

One principle for which craftsmen should stand is Page ix a respect for their own tools: a frank recognition of the methods and implements employed in constructing any article. If the article in question is a chair, and is really put together by means of sockets and pegs, let these constructive necessities appear, and do not try to disguise the means by which the result is to be attained. Make the requisite feature a beauty instead of a disgrace.

It is amusing to see a New England farmer build a fence. He begins with good cedar posts,—fine, thick, solid logs, which are at least genuine, and handsome so far as a cedar post is capable of being handsome. You think, "Ah, that will be a good unobjectionable fence." But, behold, as soon as the posts are in position, he carefully lays a flat plank vertically in front of each, so that the passer-by may fancy that he has performed the feat of making a fence of flat laths, thus going out of his way to conceal the one positive and good-looking feature in his fence. He seems to have some furtive dread of admitting that he has used the real article!

A bolt is to be affixed to a modern door. Instead of being applied with a plate of iron or brass, in itself a decorative feature on a blank space like that of the surface of a door, the carpenter cuts a piece of wood out of the edge of the door, sinks the bolt out of sight, so that nothing shall appear to view but a tiny meaningless brass handle, and considers that he has performed a very neat job. Compare this method with that of a mediæval locksmith, and the result with his great iron Page x bolt, and if you can not appreciate the difference, both in principle and result, I should recommend a course of historic art study until you are convinced. On the other hand, it is not necessary to carry your artistry so far that you build a fence of nothing but cedar logs touching one another, or that you cover your entire door with a meander of wrought iron which culminates in a small bolt. Enthusiastic followers of the Arts and Crafts movement often go to morbid extremes. Recognition of material and method does not connote a display of method and material out of proportion to the demands of the article to be constructed. As in other forms of culture, balance and sanity are necessary, in order to produce a satisfactory result.

But when a craftsman is possessed of an æsthetic instinct and faculty, he merits the congratulations offered to the students of Birmingham by William Morris, when he told them that they were among the happiest people in all civilization—"persons whose necessary daily work is inseparable from their greatest pleasure."

A mediæval artist was usually a craftsman as well. He was not content with furnishing designs alone, and then handing them over to men whose hands were trained to their execution, but he took his own designs and carried them out. Thus, the designer adapted his drawing to the demands of his material and the craftsman was necessarily in sympathy with the design since it was his own. The result was a harmony of intention and execution which is often lacking when two men of Page xi differing tastes produce one object. Lübke sums up the talents of a mediæval artist as follows: "A painter could produce panels with coats of arms for the military men of noble birth, and devotional panels with an image of a saint or a conventionalized scene from Scripture for that noble's wife. With the same brush and on a larger panel he could produce a larger sacred picture for the convent round the corner, and with finer pencil and more delicate touch he could paint the vellum leaves of a missal;" and so on. If an artistic earthenware platter was to be made, the painter turned to his potter's wheel and to his kiln. If a filigree coronet was wanted, he took up his tools for metal and jewelry work.

Redgrave lays down an excellent maxim for general guidance to designers in arts other than legitimate picture making. He says: "The picture must be independent of the material, the thought alone should govern it; whereas in decoration the material must be one of the suggestors of the thought, its use must govern the design." This shows the difference between decoration and pictorial art.

One hears a great deal of the "conventional" in modern art talk. Just what this means, few people who have the word in their vocabularies really know. As Professor Moore defined it once, it does not apply to an arbitrary theoretical system at all, but is instinctive. It means obedience to the limits under which the artist works. The really greatest art craftsmen of all Page xii have been those who have recognized the limitations of the material which they employed. Some of the cleverest have been beguiled by the fascination of overcoming obstacles, into trying to make iron do the things appropriate only to wood, or to force cast bronze into the similitude of a picture, or to discount all the credit due to a fine piece of embroidery by trying to make it appear like a painting. But these are the exotics; they are the craftsmen who have been led astray by a false impulse, who respect difficulty more than appropriateness, war rather than peace! No elaborate and tortured piece of Cellini's work can compare with the dignified glory of the Pala d'Oro; Ghiberti's gates in Florence, though a marvellous tour de force, are not so satisfying as the great corona candelabrum of Hildesheim. As a rule, we shall find that mediæval craftsmen were better artists than those of the Renaissance, for with facility in the use of material, comes always the temptation to make it imitate some other material, thus losing its individuality by a contortion which may be curious and interesting, but out of place. We all enjoy seeing acrobats on the stage, but it would be painful to see them curling in and out of our drawing-room chairs.

The true spirit which the Arts and Crafts is trying to inculcate was found in Florence when the great artists turned their attention to the manipulation of objects of daily use, Benvenuto Cellini being willing to make salt-cellars, and Sansovino to work on inkstands, and Page xiii Donatello on picture frames, while Pollajuolo made candlesticks. The more our leading artists realize the need of their attention in the minor arts, the more nearly shall we attain to a genuine alliance between the arts and the crafts.

To sum up the effect of this harmony between art and craft in the Middle Ages, the Abbé Texier has said: "In those days art and manufactures were blended and identified; art gained by this affinity great practical facility, and manufacture much original beauty." And then the value to the artist is almost incalculable. To spend one's life in getting means on which to live is a waste of all enjoyment. To use one's life as one goes along—to live every day with pleasure in congenial occupation—that is the only thing worth while. The life of a craftsman is a constant daily fulfilment of the final ideal of the man who spends all his time and strength in acquiring wealth so that some time (and he may never live to see the day) he may be able to control his time and to use it as pleases him. There is stored up capital represented in the life of a man whose work is a recreation, and expressive of his own personality.

In a book of this size it is not possible to treat of every art or craft which engaged the skill of the mediæval workers. But at some future time I hope to make a separate study of the ceramics, glass in its various forms, the arts of engraving and printing, and some of the many others which have added so much to the pleasure and beauty of the civilized world.


I. Gold and Silver
II. Jewelry and Precious Stones
III. Enamel
IV. Other Metals
V. Tapestry
VI. Embroideries
VII. Sculpture in Stone (France and Italy)
VIII. Sculpture in Stone (England and Germany)
IX. Carving in Wood and Ivory
X. Inlay and Mosaic
XI. Illumination of Books


Examples of Ecclesiastical Metal Work
Crown of Charlemagne
Bernward's Cross and Candlesticks, Hildesheim
Bernward's Chalice, Hildesheim
Corona at Hildesheim. (detail)
Reliquary at Orvieto
Apostle spoons
Ivory Knife Handles, with Portraits of Queen Elizabeth and James I. Englis
The "Milkmaid Cup"
Saxon Brooch
The Tara Brooch
Shrine of the Bell of St. Patrick
The Treasure of Guerrazzar
Hebrew Ring
Crystal Flagons, St. Mark's, Venice
Sardonyx Cup, 11th Century, Venice
German Enamel, 13th Century
Enamelled Gold Book Cover, Siena
Detail; Shrine of the Three Kings, Cologne
Finiguerra's Pax, Florence
Italian Enamelled Crozier, 14th Century
Wrought Iron Hinge, Frankfort
Biscornette's Doors at Paris
Wrought Iron from the Bargello, Florence
Moorish Keys, Seville
Armour. Showing Mail Developing into Plate
Damascened Helmet
Moorish Sword
Enamelled Suit of Armour
Brunelleschi's Competitive Panel
Page xviii Ghiberti's Competitive Panel
Font at Hildesheim, 12th Century
Portrait Statuette of Peter Vischer
A Copper "Curfew"
Sanctuary Knocker, Durham Cathedral
Anglo-Saxon Crucifix of Lead
Detail, Bayeux Tapestry
Flemish Tapestry, "The Prodigal Son"
Tapestry, Representing Paris in the 15th Century
Embroidery on Canvas, 16th Century, South Kensington Museum
Detail of the Syon Cope
Dalmatic of Charlemagne
Embroidery, 15th Century, Cologne
Carved Capital from Ravenna
Pulpit of Nicola Pisano, Pisa
Tomb of the Son of St. Louis, St. Denis
Carvings around Choir Ambulatory, Chartres
Grotesque from Oxford, Popularly Known as "The Backbiter"
The "Beverly minstrels"
St. Lorenz Church, Nuremberg, Showing Adam Kraft's Pyx, and the Hanging Medallion by Veit Stoss
Relief by Adam Kraft
Carved Box—wood Pyx, 14th Century
Miserere Stall; An Artisan at Work
Miserere Stall, Ely; Noah and the Dove
Miserere Stall; the Fate of the Ale-wife
Ivory Tabernacle, Ravenna
The Nativity; Ivory Carving
Pastoral Staff; Ivory, German, 12th Century
Ivory Mirror Case; Early 14th Century
Ivory Mirror Case, 1340
Chessman from Lewis
Marble Inlay from Lucca
Detail of Pavement, Baptistery, Florence
Detail of Pavement, Siena; "Fortune," by Pinturicchio
Page xix Ambo at Ravello; Specimen of Cosmati Mosaic
Mosaic from Ravenna; Theodora and Her Suite, 16th Century
Mosaic in Bas-relief, Naples
A Scribe at Work; 12th Century Manuscript
Detail from the Durham Book
Ivy Pattern, from a 14th Century French Manuscript
Mediæval Illumination
Caricature of a Bishop
Illumination by Gherart David of Bruges, 1498; St. Barbara
Choral Book, Siena
Detail from an Italian Choral Book




The worker in metals is usually called a smith, whether he be coppersmith or goldsmith. The term is Saxon in origin, and is derived from the expression "he that smiteth." Metal was usually wrought by force of blows, except where the process of casting modified this.

Beaten work was soldered from the earliest times. Egyptians evidently understood the use of solder, for the Hebrews obtained their knowledge of such things from them, and in Isaiah xli. 7, occurs the passage: "So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, 'It is ready for the soldering.'" In the Bible there are constant references to such arts in metal work as prevail in our own times: "Of beaten work made he the candlesticks," Exodus. In the ornaments of the tabernacle, the artificer Bezaleel "made two cherubims of gold beaten out of one piece made he them."

An account of gold being gathered in spite of vicissitudes Page 2 is given by Pliny: "Among the Dardoe the ants are as large as Egyptian wolves, and cat coloured. The Indians gather the gold dust thrown up by the ants, when they are sleeping in their holes in the Summer; but if these animals wake, they pursue the Indians, and, though mounted on the swiftest camels, overtake and tear them to pieces."

Another legend relates to the blessed St. Patrick, through whose intercession special grace is supposed to have been granted to all smiths. St. Patrick was a slave in his youth. An old legend tells that one time a wild boar came rooting in the field, and brought up a lump of gold; and Patrick brought it to a tinker, and the tinker said, "It is nothing but solder. Give it here to me." But then he brought it to a smith, and the smith told him it was gold; and with that gold he bought his freedom. "And from that time," continues the story, "the smiths have been lucky, taking money every day, and never without work, but as for the tinkers, every man's face is against them!"

In the Middle Ages the arts and crafts were generally protected by the formation of guilds and fraternities. These bodies practically exercised the right of patent over their professions, and infringements could be more easily dealt with, and frauds more easily exposed, by means of concerted effort on the part of the craftsmen. The goldsmiths and silversmiths were thus protected in England and France, and in most of the leading European art centres. The test of pure gold was made Page 3 by "six of the more discreet goldsmiths," who went about and superintended the amount of alloy to be employed; "gold of the standard of the touch of Paris" was the French term for metal of the required purity. Any goldsmith using imitation stones or otherwise falsifying in his profession was punished "by imprisonment and by ransom at the King's pleasure." There were some complaints that fraudulent workers "cover tin with silver so subtilely... that the same cannot be discovered or separated, and so sell tin for fine silver, to the great damage and deceipt of us." This state of things finally led to the adoption of the Hall Mark, which is still to be seen on every piece of silver, signifying that it has been pronounced pure by the appointed authorities.

The goldsmiths of France absorbed several other auxiliary arts, and were powerful and influential. In state processions the goldsmiths had the first place of importance, and bore the royal canopy when the King himself took part in the ceremony, carrying the shrine of St. Genevieve also, when it was taken forth in great pageants.

In the quaint wording of the period, goldsmiths were forbidden to gild or silver-plate any article made of copper or latten, unless they left some part of the original exposed, "at the foot or some other part,... to the intent that a man may see whereof the thing is made for to eschew the deceipt aforesaid." This law was enacted in 1404.

Page 4 Many of the great art schools of the Middle Ages were established in connection with the numerous monasteries scattered through all the European countries and in England. The Rule of St. Benedict rings true concerning the proper consecration of an artist: "If there be artists in the monastery, let them exercise their crafts with all humility and reverence, provided the abbot shall have ordered them. But if any of them be proud of the skill he hath in his craft, because he thereby seemeth to gain something for the monastery, let him be removed from it and not exercise it again, unless, after humbling himself, the abbot shall permit him." Craft without graft was the keynote of mediæval art.

King Alfred had a monastic art school at Athelney, in which he had collected "monks of all kinds from every quarter." This accounts for the Greek type of work turned out at this time, and very likely for Italian influences in early British art. The king was active in craft work himself, for Asser tells us that he "continued, during his frequent wars, to teach his workers in gold and artificers of all kinds."

The quaint old encyclopædia of Bartholomew Anglicus, called, "The Properties of Things," defines gold and silver in an original way, according to the beliefs of this writer's day. He says of gold, that "in the composition there is more sadness of brimstone than of air and moisture of quicksilver, and therefore gold is more sad and heavy than silver." Of silver he remarks, Page 5 "Though silver be white yet it maketh black lines and strakes in the body that is scored therewith."

Marco Polo says that in the province of Carazan "the rivers yield great quantities of washed gold, and also that which is solid, and on the mountains they find gold in the vein, and they give one pound of gold for six of silver."

Workers in gold or silver usually employ one of two methods—casting or beating, combined with delicacy of finish, chasing, and polishing. The technical processes are interestingly described by the writers of the old treatises on divers arts. In the earliest of these, by the monk Theophilus, in the eleventh century, we have most graphic accounts of processes very similar to those now in use. The naïve monastic instructor, in his preface, exhorts his followers to honesty and zeal in their good works. "Skilful in the arts let no one glorify himself," say Theophilus, "as if received from himself, and not from elsewhere; but let him be thankful humbly in the Lord, from whom all things are received." He then advises the craftsman earnestly to study the book which follows, telling him of the riches of instruction therein to be found; "you will there find out whatever... Tuscany knows of mosaic work, or in variety of enamels, whatever Arabia shows forth in work of fusion, ductility or chasing, whatever Italy ornaments with gold... whatever France loves in a costly variety of windows; whatever industrious Germany approves in work of gold, silver or copper, and iron, of woods and Page 6 of stones." No wonder the authorities are lost in conjecture as to the native place of the versatile Theophilus! After promising all these delightful things, the good old monk continues, "Act therefore, well intentioned man,... hasten to complete with all the study of thy mind, those things which are still wanting among the utensils of the House of the Lord," and he enumerates the various pieces of church plate in use in the Middle Ages.

Directions are given by Theophilus for the workroom, the benches at which the smiths are to sit, and also the most minute technical recipes for "instruments for sculping," for scraping, filing, and so forth, until the workshop should be fitted with all necessary tools. In those days, artists began at the very beginning. There were no "Windsor and Newtons," no nice makers of dividers and T-squares, to whom one could apply; all implements must be constructed by the man who contemplated using them.

We will see how Theophilus proceeds, after he has his tools in readiness, to construct a chalice. First, he puts the silver in a crucible, and when it has become fluid, he turns it into a mould in which there is wax (this is evidently the "cire perdu" process familiar to casters of every age), and then he says, "If by some negligence it should happen that the melted silver be not whole, cast it again until it is whole." This process of casting would apply equally to all metals.

Theophilus instructs his craftsman how to make the Page 7 handles of the chalice as follows: "Take wax, form handles with it, and grave upon them dragons or animals or birds, or leaves—in whatever manner you may wish. But on the top of each handle place a little wax, round like a slender candle, half a finger in length,... this wax is called the funnel.... Then take some clay and cover carefully the handle, so that the hollows of the sculpture may be filled up.... Afterwards place these moulds near the coals, that when they have become warm you may pour out the wax. Which being turned out, melt the silver,... and cast into the same place whence you poured out the wax. And when they have become cold remove the clay." The solid silver handles are found inside, one hardly need say.

In casting in the "cire perdu" process, Benvenuto Cellini warns you to beware lest you break your crucible—"just as you've got your silver nicely molten," he says, "and are pouring it into the mould, crack goes your crucible, and all your work and time and pains are lost!" He advises wrapping it in stout cloths.

The process of repoussé work is also much the same to-day as it has always been. The metal is mounted on cement and the design partly beaten in from the outside; then the cement is melted out, and the design treated in more detail from the inside. Theophilus tells us how to prepare a silver vessel to be beaten with a design. After giving a recipe for a sort of pitch, he says, "Melt this composition and fill the vial to the top. And when it has become cold, portray... whatever Page 8 you wish, and taking a slender ductile instrument, and a small hammer, design that which you have portrayed around it by striking lightly." This process is practically, on a larger scale, what Cellini describes as that of "minuterie." Cellini praises Caradosso beyond all others in this work, saying "it was just in this very getting of the gold so equal all over, that I never knew a man to beat Caradosso!" He tells how important this equality of surface is, for if, in the working, the gold became thicker in one place than in another, it was impossible to attain a perfect finish. Caradosso made first a wax model of the object which he was to make; this he cast in copper, and on that he laid his thin gold, beating and modelling it to the form, until the small hollow bas-relief was complete. The work was done with wooden and steel tools of small proportions, sometimes pressed from the back and sometimes from the front; "ever so much care is necessary," writes Cellini, " prevent the gold from splitting." After the model was brought to such a point of relief as was suitable for the design, great care had to be exercised in extending the gold further, to fit behind heads and arms in special relief. In those days the whole film of gold was then put in the furnace, and fired until the gold began to liquefy, at which exact moment it was necessary to remove it. Cellini himself made a medal for Girolamo Maretta, representing Hercules and the Lion; the figures were in such high relief that they only touched the ground at a few points. Page 9 Cellini reports with pride that Michelangelo said to him: "If this work were made in great, whether in marble or in bronze, and fashioned with as exquisite a design as this, it would astonish the world; and even in its present size it seems to me so beautiful that I do not think even a goldsmith of the ancient world fashioned aught to come up to it!" Cellini says that these words "stiffened him up," and gave him much increased ambition. He describes also an Atlas which he constructed of wrought gold, to be placed upon a lapis lazuli background: this he made in extreme relief, using tiny tools, "working right into the arms and legs, and making all alike of equal thickness." A cope-button for Pope Clement was also quite a tour de force; as he said, "these pieces of work are often harder the smaller they are." The design showed the Almighty seated on a great diamond; around him there were "a number of jolly little angels," some in complete relief. He describes how he began with a flat sheet of gold, and worked constantly and conscientiously, gradually bossing it up, until, with one tool and then another, he finally mastered the material, "till one fine day God the Father stood forth in the round, most comely to behold." So skilful was Cellini in this art that he "bossed up in high relief with his punches some fifteen little angels, without even having to solder the tiniest rent!" The fastening of the clasp was decorated with "little snails and masks and other pleasing trifles," which suggest to us that Page 10 Benvenuto was a true son of the Renaissance, and that his design did not equal his ability as a craftsman.

Cellini's method of forming a silver vase was on this wise. The original plate of silver had to be red hot, "not too red, for then it would crack,—but sufficient to burn certain little grains thrown on to it." It was then adjusted to the stake, and struck with the hammer, towards the centre, until by degrees it began to take convex form. Then, keeping the central point always in view by means of compasses, from that point he struck "a series of concentric circles about half a finger apart from each other," and with a hammer, beginning at the centre, struck so that the "movement of the hammer shall be in the form of a spiral, and follow the concentric circles." It was important to keep the form very even all round. Then the vase had to be hammered from within, "till it was equally bellied all round," and after that, the neck was formed by the same method. Then, to ornament the vase, it was filled with pitch, and the design traced on the outside. When it was necessary to beat up the ornament from within, the vase was cleared out, and inverted upon the point of a long "snarling-iron," fastened in an anvil stock, and beaten so that the point should indent from within. The vase would often have to be filled with pitch and emptied in this manner several times in the course of its construction.

Benvenuto Cellini was one of the greatest art personalities of all time. The quaintness of the æsthetic Page 11 temperament is nowhere found better epitomized than in his life and writings. But as a producer of artistic things, he is a great disappointment. Too versatile to be a supreme specialist, he is far more interesting as a man and craftsman than as a designer. Technical skill he had in unique abundance. And another faculty, for which he does not always receive due credit, is his gift for imparting his knowledge. His Treatises, containing valuable information as to methods of work, are less familiar to most readers than his fascinating biography. These Treatises, or directions to craftsmen, are full of the spice and charm which characterize his other work. One cannot proceed from a consideration of the bolder metal work to a study of the dainty art of the goldsmith without a glance at Benvenuto Cellini.

The introduction to the Treatises has a naïve opening: "What first prompted me to write was the knowledge of how fond people are of hearing anything new." This, and other reasons, induced him to "write about those loveliest secrets and wondrous methods of the great art of goldsmithing."

Francis I. indeed thought highly of Cellini. Upon viewing one of his works, his Majesty raised his hands, and exclaimed to the Mareschal de France, "I command you to give the first good fat abbey that falls vacant to our Benvenuto, for I do not want my kingdom to be deprived of his like."

Benvenuto describes the process of making filigree work, the principle of which is, fine wire coiled flat so Page 12 as to form designs with an interesting and varied surface. Filigree is quite common still, and any one who has walked down the steep street of the Goldsmiths in Genoa is familiar with most of its modern forms. Cellini says: "Though many have practised the art without making drawings first, because the material in which they worked was so easily handled and so pliable, yet those who made their drawings first did the best work. Now give ear to the way the art is pursued." He then directs that the craftsman shall have ready three sizes of wire, and some little gold granules, which are made by cutting the short lengths of wire, and then subjecting them to fervent heat until they become as little round beads. He then explains how the artificer must twist and mould the delicate wires, and tastily apply the little granules, so as to make a graceful design, usually of some floriate form. When the wire flowers and leaves were formed satisfactorily, a wash of gum tragacanth should be applied, to hold them in place until the final soldering. The solder was in powdered form, and it was to be dusted on "just as much as may suffice,... and not more,"... this amount of solder could only be determined by the experience of the artist. Then came the firing of the finished work in the little furnace; Benvenuto is here quite at a loss how to explain himself: "Too much heat would move the wires you have woven out of place," he says, "really it is quite impossible to tell it properly in writing; I could explain it all right by word of mouth, or better still, show you how it is Page 13 done,—still, come along,—we'll try to go on as we started!"

Sometimes embossing was done by thin sheets of metal being pressed on to a wooden carving prepared for the purpose, so that the result would be a raised silver pattern, which, when filled up with pitch or lead, would pass for a sample of repoussé work. I need hardly say that a still simpler mechanical form of pressing obtains on cheap silver to-day.

So much for the mechanical processes of treating these metals. We will now examine some of the great historic examples, and glance at the lives of prominent workers in gold and silver in the past.

One of the most brilliant times for the production of works of art in gold and silver, was when Constantine, upon becoming Christian, moved the seat of government to Byzantium. Byzantine ornament lends itself especially to such work. The distinguishing mark between the earlier Greek jewellers and the Byzantine was, that the former considered chiefly line, form, and delicacy of workmanship, while the latter were led to expression through colour and texture, and not fineness of finish.

The Byzantine emperors loved gold in a lavish way, and on a superb scale. They were not content with chaste rings and necklets, or even with golden crowns. The royal thrones were of gold; their armour was decorated with the precious metal, and their chariots enriched in the same way. Even the houses of the rich people Page 14 were more endowed with precious furnishings than most of the churches of other nations, and every family possessed a massive silver table, and solid vases and plate.

The Emperor Theophilus, who lived in the ninth century, was a great lover of the arts. His palace was built after the Arabian style, and he had skilful mechanical experts to construct a golden tree over his throne, on the branches of which were numerous birds, and two golden lions at the foot. These birds were so arranged by clockwork, that they could be made to sing, and the lions also joined a roar to the chorus!

A great designer of the Middle Ages was Alcuin, the teacher of Charlemagne, who lived from 735 to 804; he superintended the building of many fine specimens of church plate. The school of Alcuin, however, was more famous for illumination, and we shall speak of his work at more length when we come to deal with that subject.

Another distinguished patron of art was the Abbot Odo of Cluny, who had originally been destined for a soldier; but he was visited with what Maitland describes as "an inveterate headache, which, from his seventeenth to his nineteenth year, defied all medical skill," so he and his parents, convinced that this was a manifestation of the disapproval of Heaven, decided to devote his life to religious pursuits. He became Abbot of Cluny in the year 927.

Figure 1

Examples of ninth century goldsmithing are rare. Page 15 Judging from the few specimens existing, the crown of Charlemagne, and the beautiful binding of the Hours of Charles the Bold, one would be inclined to think that an almost barbaric wealth of closely set jewels was the entire standard of the art of the time, and that grace of form or contour was quite secondary. The tomb was rifled about the twelfth century, and Page 16 many of the valuable things with which he was surrounded were taken away. The throne was denuded of its gold, and may be seen to-day in the Cathedral at Aachen, a simple marble chair plain and dignified, with the copper joints showing its construction. Many of the relics of Charlemagne are in the treasury at Aachen, among other interesting items, the bones of the right arm of the Emperor in a golden shrine in the form of a hand and arm. There is a thrill in contemplating the remains of the right arm of Charlemagne after all the centuries, when one remembers the swords and sceptres which have been wielded by that mighty member. The reliquary containing the right arm of Charlemagne is German work (of course later than the opening of the tomb), probably between 1155 and 1190. Frederic Barbarossa and his ancestors are represented on its ornamentation.

There is little goldsmith's work of the Norman period in Great Britain, for that was a time of the building of large structures, and probably minor arts and personal adornment took a secondary place.

Figure 2

Perhaps the most satisfactory display of mediæval arts and crafts which may be seen in one city is at Hildesheim: the special richness of remains of the tenth century is owing to the life and example of an early bishop—Bernward—who ruled the See from 993 to 1022. Before he was made bishop, Bernward was tutor to the young Emperor Otto III. He was a student of art all his life, and a practical craftsman, working Page 17 largely in metals, and training up a Guild of followers in the Cathedral School. He was extremely versatile: one of the great geniuses of history. In times of war he was Commander in Chief of Hildesheim; he was a traveller, having made pilgrimages to Rome and Paris, and the grave of St. Martin at Tours. This wide culture was unusual in those days; it is quite evident from his active life of accomplishment in creative art, that good Bishop Bernward was not to be numbered among those who expected the end of the world to occur in the year 1000 A. D. Of his works to be seen in Hildesheim, there are splendid examples. The Goldsmith's School under his direction was famous.

He was created bishop in 992; Taugmar pays him a tribute, saying: "He was an excellent penman, a good painter, and as a household manager was unequalled." Moreover, he "excelled in the mechanical no less than in the liberal arts." In fact, a visit to Hildesheim to-day proves that to this man who lived ten centuries ago is due the fact that Hildesheim is the most artistic city in Germany from the antiquarian's point of view. This bishop influenced every branch of art, and with so vital an influence, that his See city is still full of his works and personality. He was not only a practical worker in the arts and crafts, but he was also a collector, forming quite a museum for the further instruction of the students who came in touch with him. He decorated the walls of his cathedral; the great candelabrum, or corona, which circles above the central aisle of the Page 18 cathedral, was his own design, and the work of his followers; and the paschal column in the cathedral was from his workshop, wrought as delightfully as would be possible in any age, and yet executed nearly a thousand years ago. No bishop ever deserved sainthood more, or made a more practical contribution to the Church. Pope Celestine III. canonized him in 1194.

Bernward came of a noble family. His figure may be seen—as near an approach to a portrait of this great worker as we have—among the bas-reliefs on the beautiful choir-screen in St. Michael's Church in Hildesheim.

Figure 3

The cross executed by Bernward's own hands in 994 is a superb work, with filigree covering the whole, and set with gems en cabochon, with pearls, and antique precious stones, carved with Greek divinities in intaglio. The candlesticks of St. Bernward, too, are most interesting. They are made of a metal composed of gold, silver, and iron, and are wrought magnificently, into a mass of animal and floriate forms, their outline being well retained, and the grace of the shaft and proportions being striking. They are partly the work of the mallet and partly of the chisel. They had been buried with Bernward, and were found in his sarcophagus in 1194. Didron has likened them, in their use of animal form, to the art of the Mexicans; but to me they seem more like delightful German Romanesque workmanship, leaning more towards that of certain spirited Lombard grotesques, or even that of Arles and certain parts of Page 19 France, than to the Aztec to which Didron has reference. The little climbing figures, while they certainly have very large hands and feet, yet are endowed with a certain sprightly action; they all give the impression of really making an effort,—they are trying to climb, instead of simply occupying places in the foliage. There is a good deal of strength and energy displayed in all of them, and, while the work is rude and rough, it is virile. It is not unlike the workmanship on the Gloucester candlestick in the South Kensington Museum, which was made in the twelfth century.

Bernward's chalice is set with antique stones, some of them carved. On the foot may be seen one representing the three Graces, in their customary state of nudity "without malice."

Bernward was also an architect. He built the delightful church of St. Michael, and its cloister. He also superintended the building of an important wall by the river bank in the lower town.

When there was an uneasy time of controversy at Gandesheim, Bernward hastened to headquarters in Rome, to arrange to bring about better feeling. In 1001 he arrived, early in January, and the Pope went out to meet him, kissed him, and invited him to stay as a guest at his palace. After accomplishing his diplomatic mission, and laden with all sorts of sacred relics, Bernward returned home, not too directly to prevent his seeing something of the intervening country.

A book which Bishop Bernward had made and Page 20 illuminated in 1011 has the inscription: "I, Bernward, had this codex written out, at my own cost, and gave it to the beloved Saint of God, Michael. Anathema to him who alienates it." This inscription has the more interest for being the actual autograph of Bernward.

He was succeeded by Hezilo, and many other pupils. These men made the beautiful corona of the cathedral, of which I give an illustration in detail. Great coronas or circular chandeliers hung in the naves of many cathedrals in the Middle Ages. The finest specimen is this at Hildesheim, the magnificent ring of which is twenty feet across, as it hangs suspended by a system of rods and balls in the form of chains. It has twelve large towers and twelve small ones set around it, supposed to suggest the Heavenly Jerusalem with its many mansions. There are sockets for seventy-two candles. The detail of its adornment is very splendid, and repays close study. Every little turret is different in architectonic form, and statues of saints are to be seen standing within these. The pierced silver work on this chandelier is as beautiful as any mediæval example in existence.

Figure 4

The great leader of mediæval arts in France was the Abbot Suger of St. Denis. Suger was born in 1081, he and his brother, Alvise, who was Bishop of Arras, both being destined for the Episcopate. As a youth he passed ten years at St. Denis as a scholar. Here he became intimate with Prince Louis, and this friendship developed in after life. On returning from a voyage to Page 21 Italy, in 1122, he learned at the same time of the death of his spiritual father, Abbot Adam, and of his own election to be his successor. He thus stood at the head of the convent of St. Denis in 1123. This was due to his noble character, his genius for diplomacy and his artistic talent. He was minister to Louis VI., and afterwards to Louis VII., and during the second Crusade, he was made Regent for the kingdom. Suger was known, after this, as the Father of his Country, for he was a courageous counsellor, firm and convincing in argument, so that the king had really been guided by his advice. While he was making laws and instigating crusades, he was also directing craft shops and propagating the arts in connection with the life of the Church. St. Bernard denounced him, as encouraging too luxurious a ritual; Suger made a characteristic reply: "If the ancient law... ordained that vessels and cups of gold should be used for libations, and to receive the blood of rams,... how much rather should we devote gold, precious stones, and the rarest of materials, to those vessels which are destined to contain the blood of Our Lord."

Suger ordered and himself made most beautiful appointments for the sanctuary, and when any vessel already owned by the Abbey was of costly material, and yet unsuitable in style, he had it remodelled. An interesting instance of this is a certain antique vase of red porphyry. There was nothing ecclesiastical about this vase; it was a plain straight Greek jar, with two handles at the sides. Suger treated it as the body of Page 22 an eagle, making the head and neck to surmount it, and the claw feet for it to stand on, together with its soaring wings, of solid gold, and it thus became transformed into a magnificent reliquary in the form of the king of birds. The inscription on this Ampula of Suger is: "As it is our duty to present unto God oblations of gems and gold, I, Suger, offer this vase unto the Lord."

Suger stood always for the ideal in art and character. He had the courage of his convictions in spite of the fulminations of St. Bernard. Instead of using the enormous sums of money at his disposal for importing Byzantine workmen, he preferred to use his funds and his own influence in developing a native French school of artificers.

It is interesting to discover that Suger, among his many adaptations and restorations at St. Denis, incorporated some of the works of St. Eloi into his own compositions. For instance, he took an ivory pulpit, and remodelled it with the addition of copper animals. Abbots of St. Denis made beautiful offerings to the church. One of them, Abbot Matthiew de Vendôme, presented a wonderful reliquary, consisting of a golden head and bust, while another gave a reliquary to contain the jaw of St. Louis. Suger presented many fine products of his own art and that of his pupils, among others a great cross six feet in height. A story is told of him, that, while engaged in making a particularly splendid crucifix for St. Denis, he ran short of precious Page 23 stones, nor could he in any way obtain what he required, until some monks came to him and offered to sell him a superb lot of stones which had formerly embellished the dinner service of Henry I. of England, whose nephew had given them to the convent in exchange for indulgences and masses! In these early and half-barbaric days of magnificence, form and delicacy of execution were not understood. Brilliancy and lavish display of sparkling jewels, set as thickly as possible without reference to a general scheme of composition, was the standard of beauty; and it must be admitted that, with such stones available, no more effective school of work has ever existed than that of which such works Charlemagne's crown, the Iron Crown of Monza, and the crown of King Suinthila, are typical examples. Abbot Suger lamented when he lacked a sufficient supply of stones; but he did not complain when there occurred a deficiency in workmen. It was comparatively easy to train artists who could make settings and bind stones together with soldered straps!

In 1352 a royal silversmith of France, Etienne La Fontaine, made a "fauteuil of silver and crystal decorated with precious stones," for the king.

The golden altar of Basle is almost as interesting as the great Pala d'Oro in Venice, of which mention is made elsewhere. It was ordered by Emperor Henry the Pious, before 1024, and presented to the Prime Minister at Basle. The central figure of the Saviour has at its feet two tiny figures, quite out of scale; these are Page 24 intended for the donors, Emperor Henry and his queen, Cunegunda.

Silversmith's work in Spain was largely in Byzantine style, while some specimens of Gothic and Roman are also to be seen there. Moorish influence is noticeable, as in all Spanish design, and filigree work of Oriental origin is frequently to be met with. Some specimens of champlevé enamel are also to be seen, though this art was generally confined to Limoges during the Middle Ages. A Guild was formed in Toledo which was in flourishing condition in 1423.

An interesting document has been found in Spain showing that craftsmen were supplied with the necessary materials when engaged to make valuable figures for the decoration of altars. It is dated May 12, 1367, "I, Sancho Martinez Orebsc, silversmith, native of Seville, inform you, the Dean and Chapter of the church of Seville, that it was agreed that I make an image of St. Mary with its tabernacle, that it should be finished at a given time, and that you were to give me the silver and stones required to make it."

In Spain, the most splendid triumphs of the goldsmith's skill were the "custodias," or large tabernacles, in which the Host was carried in procession. The finest was one made for Toledo by Enrique d'Arphe, in competition with other craftsmen. His design being chosen, he began his work in 1517, and in 1524 the custodia was finished. It was in the form of a Gothic temple, six sided, with a jewelled cross on the top, and was eight Page 25 feet high. Some of the gold employed was the first ever brought from America. The whole structure weighed three hundred and eighty-eight pounds. Arphe made a similar custodia for Cordova and another for Leon. His grandson, Juan d'Arphe, wrote a verse about the Toledo custodia, in which these lines occur:

"Custodia is a temple of rich plate
  Wrought for the glory of Our Saviour true...
  That holiest ark of old to imitate,
  Fashioned by Bezaleel the cunning Jew,
  Chosen of God to work his sovereign will,
  And greatly gifted with celestial skill."

Juan d'Arphe himself made a custodia for Seville, the decorations and figures on which were directed by the learned Francesco Pacheco, the father-in-law of Velasquez. When this custodia was completed, d'Arphe wrote a description of it, alluding boldly to this work as "the largest and finest work in silver known of its kind," and this could really be said without conceit, for it is a fact.

A Gothic form of goldsmith's work obtained in Spain in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries; it was based upon architectural models and was known as "plateresca." The shrines for holding relics became in these centuries positive buildings on a small scale in precious material. In England also were many of these shrines, but few of them now remain.

The first Mayor of London, from 1189 to 1213, was a goldsmith, Henry Fitz Alwyn, the Founder of the Royal Exchange; Sir Thomas Gresham, in 1520, was Page 26 also a goldsmith and a banker. There is an entertaining piece of cynical satire on the Goldsmiths in Stubbes' Anatomy of Abuses, written in the time of Queen Elizabeth, showing that the tricks of the trade had come to full development by that time, and that the public was being aroused on the subject. Stubbes explains how the goldsmith's shops are decked with chains and rings, "wonderful richly." Then he goes on to say: "They will make you any monster or article whatsoever of gold, silver, or what you will. Is there no deceit in these goodlye shows? Yes, too many; if you will buy a chain of gold, a ring, or any kind of plate, besides that you shall pay almost half more than it is worth... you shall also perhaps have that gold which is naught, or else at least mixed with drossie rubbage.... But this happeneth very seldom by reason of good orders, and constitutions made for the punishment of them that offend in this kind of deceit, and therefore they seldom offend therein, though now and then they chance to stumble in the dark!"

Fynes Moryson, a traveller who died in 1614, says that "the goldsmiths' shops in London... are exceedingly richly furnished continually with gold, with silver plate, and with jewels.... I never see any such daily show, anything so sumptuous, in any place in the world, as in London." He admits that in Florence and Paris the similar shops are very rich upon special occasions; but it is the steady state of the market in London to which he has reference.

Page 27 The Company of Goldsmiths in Dublin held quite a prominent social position in the community. In 1649, a great festival and pageant took place, in which the goldsmiths and visiting craftsmen from other corporations took part.

Henry III. set himself to enrich and beautify the shrine of his patron saint, Edward the Confessor, and with this end in view he made various extravagant demands: for instance, at one time he ordered all the gold in London to be detailed to this object, and at another, he had gold rings and brooches purchased to the value of six hundred marks. The shrine was of gold, and, according to Matthew Paris, enriched with jewels. It was commenced in 1241. In 1244 the queen presented an image of the Virgin with a ruby and an emerald. Jewels were purchased from time to time,—a great cameo in 1251, and in 1255 many gems of great value. The son of ado the Goldsmith, Edward, was the "king's beloved clerk," and was made "keeper of the shrine." Most of the little statuettes were described as having stones set somewhere about them: "an image of St. Peter holding a church in one hand and the keys in the other, trampling on Nero, who had a big sapphire on his breast;" and "the Blessed Virgin with her Son, set with rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and garnets," are among those cited. The whole shrine was described as "a basilica adorned with purest gold and precious stones."

Odo the Goldsmith was in charge of the works for a Page 28 good while. He was succeeded by his son Edward. Payments were made sometimes in a regular wage, and sometimes for "task work." The workmen were usually known by one name—Master Alexander the King's Carpenter, Master Henry the King's Master Mason, and so forth. In an early life of Edward the Confessor, there is an illumination showing the masons and carpenters kneeling to receive instruction from their sovereign.

The golden shrine of the Confessor was probably made in the Palace itself; this was doubtless considered the safest place for so valuable a work to remain in process of construction; for there is an allusion to its being brought on the King's own shoulders (with the assistance of others), from the palace to the Abbey, in 1269, for its consecration.

In 1243 Henry III. ordered four silver basins, fitted with cakes of wax with wicks in them, to be placed as lights before the shrine of Thomas à Becket in Canterbury. The great gold shrine of Becket appears to have been chiefly the work of a goldsmith, Master Adam. He also designed the Coronation Chair of England, which is now in Westminster Abbey.

The chief goldsmith of England employed by Edward I. was one Adam of Shoreditch. He was versatile, for he was also a binder of books. A certain bill shows an item of his workmanship, "a group in silver of a child riding upon a horse, the child being a likeness of Lord Edward, the King's son."

Page 29 A veritable Arts and Crafts establishment had been in existence in Woolstrope, Lincolnshire, before Cromwell's time; for Georde Gifford wrote to Cromwell regarding the suppression of this monastery: "There is not one religious person there but what doth use either embrothering, wryting books with a faire hand, making garments, or carving."

In all countries the chalices and patens were usually, designed to correspond with each other. The six lobed dish was a very usual form; it had a depressed centre, with six indented scallops, and the edge flat like a dinner plate. In an old church inventory, mention is made of "a chalice with his paten." Sometimes there was lettering around the flat edge of the paten. Chalices were-composed of three parts: the cup, the ball or knop, and the stem, with the foot. The original purpose of having this foot hexagonal in shape is said to have been to prevent the chalice from rolling when it was laid on its side to drain. Under many modifications this general plan of the cup has obtained. The bowl is usually entirely plain, to facilitate keeping it clean; most of the decoration was lavished on the knop, a rich and uneven surface being both beautiful and functional in this place.

Such Norman and Romanesque chalices as remain are chiefly in museums now. They were usually "coffin chalices"—that is, they had been buried in the coffin of some ecclesiastic. Of Gothic chalices, or those of the Tudor period, fewer remain, for after the Reformation, Page 30 a general order went out to the churches, for all "chalices to be altered to decent Communion cups." The shape was greatly modified in this change.

In the thirteenth century the taste ran rather to a chaster form of decoration; the large cabochons of the Romanesque, combined with a liquid gold surface, gave place to refined ornaments in niello and delicate enamels. The bowls of the earlier chalices were rather flat and broad. When it became usual for the laity to partake only of one element when communicating, the chalice, which was reserved for the clergy alone, became modified to meet this condition, and the bowl was much smaller. After the Reformation, however, the development was quite in the other direction, the bowl being extremely large and deep. In that period they were known as communion cups. In Sandwich there is a cup which was made over out of a ciborium; as it quite plainly shows its origin, it is naïvely inscribed: "This is a Communion Coop." When this change in the form of the chalice took place, it was provided, by admonition of the Archbishop, in all cases with a "cover of silver... which shall serve also for the ministration of the Communion bread." To make this double use of cover and dish satisfactory, a foot like a stand was added to the paten.

The communion cup of the Reformation differed from the chalice, too, in being taller and straighter, with a deep bowl, almost in the proportions of a flaring tumbler, and a stem with a few close decorations instead Page 31 of a knop. The small paten served as a cover to the cup, as has been mentioned.

It is not always easy to see old church plate where it originally belonged. On the Scottish border, for instance, there were constant raids, when the Scots would descend upon the English parish churches, and bear off the communion plate, and again the English would cross the border and return the compliment. In old churches, such as the eleventh century structure at Torpenhow, in Cumberland, the deep sockets still to be seen in the stone door jambs were intended to support great beams with which the church had constantly to be fortified against Scottish invasion. Another reason for the disappearance of church plate, was the occasional sale of the silver in order to continue necessary repairs on the fabric. In a church in Norfolk, there is a record of sale of communion silver and "for altering of our church and fynnishing of the same according to our mindes and the parishioners." It goes on to state that the proceeds were appropriated for putting new glass in the place of certain windows "wherein were conteined the lives of certain prophane histories," and for "paving the king's highway" in the church precincts. At the time of the Reformation many valuable examples of Church plate were cast aside by order of the Commissioners, by which "all monuments of feyned miracles, pilgrimages, idolatry, and superstition," were to be destroyed. At this time a calf or a sheep might have been seen browsing in the meadows with a sacring-bell fastened at its neck, Page 32 and the pigs refreshed themselves with drinking from holy-water fonts!

Croziers of ornate design especially roused the ire of the Puritans. In Mr. Alfred Maskell's incomparable book on Ivories, he translates a satirical verse by Guy de Coquille, concerning these objectionable pastoral staves (which were often made of finely sculptured ivory).

"The staff of a bishop of days that are old
  Was of wood, and the bishop himself was of gold.
  But a bishop of wood prefers gorgeous array,
  So his staff is of gold in the new fashioned way!"

During the Renaissance especially, goldsmith's work was carried to great technical perfection, and yet the natural properties of the metal were frequently lost sight of, and the craftsmen tried to produce effects such as would be more suitable in stone or wood,—little architectonic features were introduced, and gold was frequently made to do the work of other materials. Thus it lost much of its inherent effectiveness. Too much attention was given to ingenuity, and not enough to fitness and beauty.

Figure 5

In documents of the fourteenth century, the following list of goldsmiths is given: Jean de Mantreux was goldsmith to King Jean. Claux de Friburg was celebrated for a gold statuette of St. John which he made for the Duke of Normandy. A diadem for this Duke was also recorded, made by Jean de Piguigny. Hannequin made Page 33 three golden crowns for Charles V. Hans Crest was goldsmith to the Duke of Orleans, while others employed by him were Durosne, of Toulouse, Jean de Bethancourt, a Flemish goldsmith. In the fifteenth century the names of Jean de Hasquin, Perrin Manne, and Margerie d'Avignon, were famous.

Artists in the Renaissance were expected to undertake several branches of their craft. Hear Poussin: "It is impossible to work at the same time upon frontispieces of books: a Virgin: at the picture for the congregation of St. Louis, at the designs for the gallery, and for the king's tapestry! I have only a feeble head, and am not aided by anyone!"

A goldsmith attached to the Court of King René of Anjou was Jean Nicolas. René also gave many orders to one Liguier Rabotin, of Avignon, who made him several cups of solid gold, on a large tray of the same precious metal. The king often drew his own designs or such bijoux.

Among the famous men of Italy were several who practised the art of the goldsmith. Ugolino of Siena constructed the wonderful reliquary at Orvieto; this, is in shape somewhat similar to the façade of the cathedral.

Verocchio, the instructor of Leonardo da Vinci, accomplished several important pieces of jewelery in his youth: cope-buttons and silver statuettes, chiefly, which were so successful that he determined to take up the career of a sculptor. Ghirlandajo, as is well known, Page 34 was trained as a goldsmith originally, his father having been the inventor of a pretty fashion then prevailing among young girls of Florence, and being the maker of those golden garlands worn on the heads of maidens. The name Ghirlandajo, indeed, was derived from these garlands (ghirlandes).

Francia began life as a goldsmith, too, and was never in after life ashamed of his profession, for he often signed his works Francesco Francia Aurifex. Francia was a very skilful workman in niello, and in enamels. In fact, to quote the enthusiastic Vasari, "he executed everything that is most beautiful, and which can be performed in that art more perfectly than any other master had ever done." Baccio Baldini, also, was a goldsmith, although a greater portion of his ability was turned in the direction of engraving. His pupil Maso Finniguerra, who turned also to engraving, began his career as a goldsmith.

The great silver altar in the Baptistery in Florence occupied nearly all the goldsmiths in that city. In 1330 the father of the Orcagnas, Cione, died; he had worked for some years before that on the altar. In 1366 the altar was destroyed, but the parts in bas-relief by Cione were retained and incorporated into the new work, which was finished in 1478. Ghiberti, Orcagna, Verocchio, and Pollajuolo, all executed various details of this magnificent monument.

Goldsmiths did not quite change their standing and characteristics until late in the sixteenth century. Page 35 About that time it may be said that the last goldsmith of the old school was Claude Ballin, while the first jeweller, in the modern acceptation of the word, was Pierre de Montarsy.

Silver has always been selected for the better household utensils, not only on account of its beauty, but also because of its ductility, which is desirable in making larger vessels; its value, too, is less than that of gold, so that articles which would be quite out of the reach of most householders, if made in gold, become very available in silver. Silver is particularly adapted to daily use, for the necessary washing and polishing which it receives keeps it in good condition, and there is no danger from poison through corrosion, as with copper and brass.

In the middle ages the customary pieces of plate in English homes were basins, bottles, bowls, candlesticks, saucepans, jugs, dishes, ewers and flagons, and chafing-dishes for warming the hands, which were undoubtedly needed, when we remember how intense the cold must have been in those high, bare, ill-ventilated halls! There were also large cups called hanaps, smaller cups, plates, and porringers, salt-cellars, spoons, and salvers. Forks were of much later date.

There are records of several silver basins in the Register of John of Gaunt, and also in the Inventory of Lord Lisle: one being "a basin and ewer with arms" and another, "a shaving basin." John of Gaunt also owned "a silver bowl for the kitchen." If the mediæval household lacked comforts, it could teach us lessons in luxury Page 36 in some other departments! He also had a "pair of silver bottles, partly gilt, and enamelled, garnished with tissues of silk, white and blue," and a "casting bottle" for distributing perfume: Silver candelabra were recorded; these, of course, must have been in constant service, as the facilities for lighting were largely dependent upon them. When the Crown was once obliged to ask a loan from the Earl of Salisbury, in 1432, the Earl received, as earnest of payment, "two golden candelabra, garnished with pearls and precious stones."

In the Close Roll of Henry III. of England, there is found an interesting order to a goldsmith: "Edward, son of Eudo, with all haste, by day and by night, make a cup with a foot for the Queen: weighing two marks, not more; price twenty marks, against Christmas, that she may drink from it in that feast: and paint it and enamel it all over, and in every other way that you can, let it be decently and beautifully wrought, so that the King, no less than the said Queen, may be content therewith." All the young princes and princesses were presented with silver cups, also, as they came to such age as made the use of them expedient; Lionel and John, sons of Edward III., were presented with cups "with leather covers for the same," when they were one and three years old respectively. In 1423 the chief justice, Sir William Hankford, gave his great-granddaughter a baptismal gift of a gilt cup and a diamond ring, together with a curious testimonial of eight shillings and sixpence to the nurse!

Page 37 Of dishes, the records are meagre, but there is an amusing entry among the Lisle papers referring to a couple of "conserve dishes" for which Lady Lisle expressed a wish. Husee had been ordered to procure these, but writes, "I can get no conserve dishes... however, if they be to be had, I will have of them, or it shall cost me hot water!" A little later he observes, "Towards Christmas day they shall be made at Bevoys, betwixt Abbeville and Paris."

Flagons were evidently a novelty in 1471, for there is an entry in the Issue Roll of Edward IV., which mentions "two ollas called silver flagons for the King." An olla was a Latin term for a jar. Lord Lisle rejoiced in "a pair of flagons, the gilt sore worn." Hanaps were more usual, and appear to have been usually in the form of goblets. They frequently had stands called "tripers." Sometimes these stands were very ornate, as, for instance, one owned by the Bishop of Carpentras, "in the shape of a flying dragon, with a crowned damsel sitting upon a green terrace." Another, belonging to the Countess of Cambridge, was described as being "in the shape of a monster, with three buttresses and three bosses of mother of pearl... and an ewer,... partly enamelled with divers babooneries"—a delightful expression! Other hanaps were in the forms of swans, oak trees, white harts, eagles, lions, and the like—probably often of heraldic significance.

A set of platters was sent from Paris to Richard II., all of gold, with balas rubies, pearls and sapphires set Page 38 in them. It is related of the ancient Frankish king, Chilperic, that he had made a dish of solid gold, "ornamented all over with precious stones, and weighing fifty pounds," while Lothaire owned an enormous silver basin bearing as decoration "the world with the courses of the stars and the planets."

The porringer was a very important article of table use, for pap, and soft foods such as we should term cereals, and for boiled pudding. These were all denominated porridge, and were eaten from these vessels. Soup was doubtless served in them as well. They were numerous in every household. In the Roll of Henry III. is an item, mentioning that he had ordered twenty porringers to be made, "like the one hundred porringers" which had already been ordered!

An interesting pattern of silver cups in Elizabethan times were the "trussing cups," namely, two goblets of silver, squat in shape and broad in bowl, which fitted together at the rim, so that one was inverted as a sort of cover on top of the other when they were not in use. Drinking cups were sometimes made out of cocoanuts, mounted in silver, and often of ostrich eggs, similarly treated, and less frequently of horns hollowed out and set on feet. Mediæval loving cups were usually named, and frequently for some estates that belonged to the owner. Cups have been known to bear such names as "Spang," "Bealchier," and "Crumpuldud," while others bore the names of the patron saints of their owners.

Page 39 A kind of cruet is recorded among early French table silver, "a double necked bottle in divisions, in which to place two kinds of liquor without mixing them." A curious bit of table silver in France, also, was the "almsbox," into which each guest was supposed to put some piece of food, to be given to the poor.

Spoons were very early in their origin; St. Radegond is reported by a contemporary to have used a spoon, in feeding the blind and infirm. A quaint book of instructions to children, called "The Babee's Booke," in 1475, advises by way of table manners:

"And whenever your potage to you shall be brought,
  Take your sponys and soupe by no way,
  And in your dish leave not your spoon, I pray!"

And a later volume on the same subject, in 1500, commends a proper respect for the implements of the table:

"Ne playe with spoone, trencher, ne knife."

Spoons of curious form were evidently made all the way from 1300 to the present day. In an old will, in 1477, mention is made of spoons "wt leopards hedes printed in the sponself," and in another, six spoons "wt owles at the end of the handles." Professor Wilson said, "A plated spoon is a pitiful imposition," and he was right. If there is one article of table service in which solidity of metal is of more importance than in another, it is the spoon, which must perforce come in Page 40 contact with the lips whenever it is used. In England the earliest spoons were of about the thirteenth century, and the first idea of a handle seems to have been a plain shaft ending in a ball or knob. Gradually spoons began to show more of the decorative instinct of their designers; acorns, small statuettes, and such devices terminated the handles, which still retained their slender proportions, however. Finally it became popular to have images of the Virgin on individual spoons, which led to the idea, after a bit, of decorating the dozen with the twelve apostles. These may be seen of all periods, differently elaborated. Sets of thirteen are occasionally met with, these having one with the statue of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, with a lamb on his shoulders: it is known as the "Master spoon."

Figure 6

Page 41 The first mention of forks in France is in the Inventory, of Charles V., in 1379. We hear a great deal about the promiscuous use of knives before forks were invented; how in the children's book of instructions they are enjoined "pick not thy teeth with thy knife," as if it were a general habit requiring to be checked. Massinger alludes to a

                "silver fork
To convey an olive neatly to thy mouth,"

but this may apply to pickle forks. Forks were introduced from Italy into England about 1607.

A curiosity in cutlery is the "musical knife" at the Louvre; the blade is steel, mounted in parcel gilt, and the handle is of ivory. On the blade is engraved a few bars of music (arranged for the bass only), accompanying the words, "What we are about to take may Trinity in Unity bless. Amen." This is a literal translation. It indicates that there were probably three other knives in the set so ornamented, one with the soprano, one alto, and one tenor, so that four persons sitting down to table together might chant their "grace" in four-part harmony, having the requisite notes before them! It was a quaint idea, but quite in keeping with the taste of the sixteenth century.

The domestic plate of Louis, Duke of Anjou, in 1360, consisted of over seven hundred pieces, and Charles V. of France had an enormous treasury of such objects for daily use. Strong rooms and safes were built during

Page 42 Figure 7

Page 43 the fourteenth century, for the lodging of the household valuables. About this time the Dukes of Burgundy were famous for their splendid table service. Indeed, the craze for domestic display in this line became so excessive, that in 1356 King John of France prohibited the further production of such elaborate pieces, "gold or silver plate, vases, or silver jewelry, of more than one mark of gold, or silver, excepting for churches." This edict, however, accomplished little, and was constantly evaded. Many large pieces of silver made in the period of the Renaissance were made simply with a view to standing about as ornaments. Cellini alludes to certain vases which had been ordered from him, saying that "they are called ewers, and they are placed upon buffets for the purpose of display."

The salt cellar was always a piece de resistance, and stood in the centre of the table. It was often in the form of a ship in silver. A book entitled "Ffor to serve a Lorde," in 1500, directs the "boteler" or "panter," to bring forth the principal salt, and to "set the saler in the myddys of the table." Persons helped themselves to salt with "a clene kniffe." The seats of honour were all about the salt, while those of less degree were at the lower end of the table, and were designated as "below the salt." The silver ship was commonly an immense piece of plate, containing the napkin, goblet, and knife and spoon of the host, besides being the receptacle for the spices and salt. Through fear of poison, the precaution was taken of keeping it covered. This ship was Page 44 often known as the "nef," and frequently had a name, as if it were the family yacht! One is recorded as having been named the "Tyger," while a nef belonging to the Duke of Orleans was called the "Porquepy," meaning porcupine. One of the historic salts, in another form, is the "Huntsman's salt," and is kept at All Soul's College, Oxford. The figure of a huntsman, bears upon its head a rock crystal box with a lid. About the feet of this figure are several tiny animals and human beings, so that it looks as if the intent had been to picture some gigantic legendary hunter—a sort of Gulliver of the chase.

The table was often furnished also with a fountain, in which drinking-water was kept, and upon which either stood or hung cups or goblets. These fountains were often of fantastic shapes, and usually enamelled. One is described as representing a dragon on a tree top, and another a castle on a hill, with a convenient tap at some point for drawing off the water.

The London City Companies are rich in their possessions of valuable plate. Some of the cups are especially beautiful. The Worshipful Company of Skinners owns some curious loving cups, emblematic of the names of the donors. There are five Cockayne Loving Cups, made in the form of cocks, with their tail feathers spread up to form the handles. The heads have to be removed for drinking. These cups were bequeathed by William Cockayne, in 1598. Another cup is in the form of a peacock, walking with two little chicks of minute proportions Page 45 on either side of the parent bird. This is inscribed, "The gift of Mary the daughter of Richard Robinson, and wife to Thomas Smith and James Peacock, Skinners." Whether the good lady were a bigamist or took her husbands in rotation, does not transpire.

An interesting cup is owned by the Vintners in London, called the Milkmaid. The figure of a milkmaid, in laced bodice, holds above her head a small cup on pivots, so that it finds its level when the figure is inverted, as is the case when the cup is used, the petticoat of the milkmaid forming the real goblet. It is constructed on the same principle as the German figures of court ladies holding up cups, which are often seen to-day, made on the old pattern. The cups in the case of this milkmaid are both filled with wine, and it is quite difficult to drink from the larger cup without spilling from the small swinging cup which is then below the other. Every member is expected to perform this feat as a sort of initiation. It dates from 1658.

One of the most beautiful Corporation cups is at Norwich, where it is known as the "Petersen" cup. It is shaped like a very thick and squat chalice, and around its top is a wide border of decorative lettering, bearing the inscription, "THE + MOST + HERE + OF. + IS + DUNNE + BY + PETER + PETERSON +." This craftsman was a Norwich silversmith of the sixteenth century, very famous in his day, and a remarkably chaste designer as well. A beautiful ivory cup twelve inches high, set in silver gilt, called the Grace Cup, of Page 46 Thomas à Becket, is inscribed around the top band, "Vinum tuum bibe cum gaudio." It has a hall-mark

Figure 8

of a Lombardic letter H, signifying the year 1445. It is decorated by cherubs, roses, thistles, and crosses, relieved with garnets and pearls. On another flat band is the inscription: "Sobrii estote," and on the cover, Page 47 in Roman capitals, "Ferare God." It is owned by the Howard family, of Corby.

Tankards were sometimes made of such crude materials as leather (like the "lether bottel" of history), and of wood. In fact, the inventory of a certain small church in the year 1566 tells of a "penny tankard of wood," which was used as a "holy water stock."

An extravagant design, of a period really later than we are supposed to deal with in this book, is a curious cup at Barber's and Surgeon's Hall, known as the Royal Oak. It is built to suggest an oak tree,—a naturalistic trunk, with its roots visible, supporting the cup, which is in the form of a semi-conventional tree, covered with leaves, detached acorns swinging free on rings from the sides at intervals!

Richard Redgrave called attention to some of the absurdities of the exotic work of his day in England. "Rachel at a well, under an imitative palm tree," he remarks, "draws, not water, but ink; a grotto of oyster shells with children beside it, contains... an ink vessel; the milk pail on a maiden's head contains, not goat's milk, as the animal by her side would lead you to suppose, but a taper!"

One great secret of good design in metal is to avoid imitating fragile things in a strong material. The stalk of a flower or leaf, for instance, if made to do duty in silver to support a heavy cup or vase, is a very disagreeable thing to contemplate; if the article were really Page 48 what it represented, it would break under the strain. While there should be no deliberate perversion of Nature's forms, there should be no naturalistic imitation.



We are told that the word "jewel" has come by degrees from Latin, through French, to its present form; it commenced as a "gaudium" (joy), and progressed through "jouel" and "joyau" to the familiar word, as we have it.

The first objects to be made in the form of personal adornment were necklaces: this may be easily understood, for in certain savage lands the necklace formed, and still forms, the chief feature in feminine attire. In this little treatise, however, we cannot deal with anything so primitive or so early; we must not even take time to consider the exquisite Greek and Roman jewelry. Amongst the earliest mediæval jewels we will study the Anglo-Saxon and the Byzantine.

Anglo-Saxon and Irish jewelry is famous for delicate filigree, fine enamels, and flat garnets used in a very decorative way. Niello was also employed to some extent. It is easy, in looking from the Bell of St. Patrick to the Book of Kells, to see how the illuminators were influenced by the goldsmiths in early times,—in Celtic and Anglo-Saxon work.

Figure 9

Page 50 The earliest forms of brooches were the annular,—that is, a long pin with a hinged ring at its head for ornament, and the "penannular," or pin with a broken circle at its head. Through the opening in the circle the pin returns, and then with a twist of the ring, it is held more firmly in the material. Of these two forms are notable examples in the Arbutus brooch and the celebrated Tara brooch. The Tara brooch is a perfect museum in itself of the jeweller's art. It is ornamented with enamel, with jewels set in silver, amber, scroll filigree, fine chains, Celtic tracery, moulded glass—nearly every branch of the art is represented in this one treasure, which was found quite by accident near Drogheda, in 1850, a landslide having exposed the buried spot where it had lain for centuries. As many as seventy-six different kinds of workmanship are to be detected on this curious relic.

Figure 10

At a great Exhibition at Ironmonger's Hall in 1861 Page 51 there was shown a leaden fibula, quite a dainty piece of personal ornament, in Anglo-Saxon taste, decorated with a moulded spiral meander. It was found in the Thames in 1855, and there are only three other similar brooches of lead known to exist.

Of the Celtic brooches Scott speaks:

 "...the brooch of burning gold
  That clasps the chieftain's mantle fold,
  Wrought and chased with rare device,
  Studded fair with gems of price."

Page 52 One of the most remarkable pieces of Celtic jewelled work is the bell of St. Patrick, which measures over ten inches in height. This saint is associated with several bells: one, called the Broken Bell of St. Brigid, he used on his last crusade against the demons of Ireland; it is said that when he found his adversaries specially unyielding, he flung the bell with all his might into the thickest of their ranks, so that they fled precipitately into the sea, leaving the island free from their aggressions for seven years, seven months, and seven days.

One of St. Patrick's bells is known, in Celtic, as the "white toned," while another is called the "black sounding." This is an early and curious instance of the sub-conscious association of the qualities of sound with those of colour. Viollet le Duc tells how a blind man was asked if he knew what the colour red was. He replied, "Yes: red is the sound of the trumpet." And the great architect himself, when a child, was carried by his nurse into the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, where he cried with terror because he fancied that the various organ notes which he heard were being hurled at him by the stained glass windows, each one represented by a different colour in the glass!

Figure 11

But the most famous bell in connection with St. Patrick is the one known by his own name and brought with his relics by Columbkille only sixty years after the saint's death. The outer case is an exceedingly rich example of Celtic work. On a ground of brass, fine gold Page 53 and silver filigree is applied, in curious interlaces and knots, and it is set with several jewels, some of large size, in green, blue, and dull red. In the front are two large tallow-cut Irish diamonds, and a third was apparently set in a place which is now vacant. On the back of the bell appears a Celtic inscription in most decorative lettering all about the edge; the literal translation of this is: "A prayer for Donnell O'Lochlain, through whom this bell shrine was made; and for Donnell, the successor of Patrick, with whom it was made; and for Cahalan O'Mulhollan, the keeper of the bell, and for Cudilig O'Immainen, with his sons, who covered it." Donald O'Lochlain was monarch of Ireland in 1083. Donald the successor of Patrick was the Abbot of Armagh, from 1091 to 1105. The others were evidently the craftsmen who worked on the shrine. In many interlaces, especially on the sides, there may be traced intricate patterns formed of serpents, but as nearly all Celtic work is similarly ornamented, there is probably nothing personal in their use in connection with the relic of St. Patrick! Patrick brought quite a bevy of workmen into Ireland about 440: some were smiths, Mac Cecht, Laebhan, and Fontchan, who were turned at once upon making of bells, while some other skilled artificers, Fairill and Tassach, made patens and chalices. St. Bridget, too, had a famous goldsmith in her train, one Bishop Coula.

The pectoral cross of St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne is now to be seen in Durham. It was buried with the Page 54 saint, and was discovered with his body. The four arms are of equal length, and not very heavy in proportion. It is of gold, made in the seventh century, and is set with garnets, a very large one in the centre, one somewhat smaller at the ends of the arms, where the lines widen considerably, and with smaller ones continuously between.

Among the many jewels which decorated the shrine of Thomas à Becket at Canterbury was a stone "with an angell of gold poynting thereunto," which was a gift from the King of France, who had had it "made into a ring and wore it on his thumb." Other stones described as being on this shrine were sumptuous, the whole being damascened with gold wire, and "in the midst of the gold, rings; or cameos of sculptured agates, carnelians, and onyx stones." A visitor to Canterbury in 1500 writes: "Everything is left far behind by a ruby not larger than a man's thumb nail, which is set to the right of the altar. The church is rather dark, and when we went to see it the sun was nearly gone down, and the weather was cloudy, yet we saw the ruby as well as if it had been in my hand. They say it was a gift of the King of France."

Possessions of one kind were often converted into another, according to changing fashions. Philippa of Lancaster had a gold collar made "out of two bottles and a turret," in 1380.

Mediæval rosaries were generally composed of beads of coral or carnelian, and often of gold and pearls as Page 55 well. Marco Polo tells of a unique rosary worn by the King of Malabar; one hundred and four large pearls, with occasional rubies of great price, composed the string. Marco Polo adds: "He has to say one hundred and four prayers to his idols every morning and evening."

In the possession of the Shah of Persia is a gold casket studded with emeralds, which is said to have the magic power of rendering the owner invisible as long as he remains celibate. I fancy that this is a safe claim, for the tradition is not likely to be put to the proof in the case of a Shah! Probably there has never been an opportunity of testing the miraculous powers of the stones.

The inventory of Lord Lisle contains many interesting side lights on the jewelry of the period: "a hawthorne of gold, with twenty diamonds;" "a little tower of gold," and "a pair of beads of gold, with tassels." Filigree or chain work was termed "perry." In old papers such as inventories, registers, and the like, there are frequent mentions of buttons of "gold and perry;" in 1372 Aline Gerbuge received "one little circle of gold and perry, emeralds and balasses." Clasps and brooches were used much in the fourteenth century. They were often called "ouches," and were usually of jewelled gold. One, an image of St. George, was given by the Black Prince to John of Gaunt. The Duchess of Bretagne had among other brooches one with a white griffin, a balas ruby on its shoulder, six sapphires Page 56 around it, and then six balasses, and twelve groups of pearls with diamonds.

Brooches were frequently worn by being stuck in the hat. In a curious letter from James I. to his son, the monarch writes: "I send for your wearing the Three Brethren" (evidently a group of three stones) "...but newly set... which I wolde wish you to weare alone in your hat, with a Littel black feather." To his favourite Buckingham he also sends a diamond, saying that his son will lend him also "an anker" in all probability; but he adds: "If my Babee will not spare the anker from his Mistress, he may well lend thee his round brooch to weare, and yett he shall have jewels to weare in his hat for three grate dayes."

In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the women wore nets in their hair, composed of gold threads adorned with pearls. At first two small long rolls by the temples were confined in these nets: later, the whole back hair was gathered into a large circular arrangement. These nets were called frets—"a fret of pearls" was considered a sufficient legacy for a duchess to leave to her daughter.

In the constant resetting and changing of jewels, many important mediæval specimens, not to mention exquisite vessels and church furniture, were melted down and done over by Benvenuto Cellini, especially at the time that Pope Clement was besieged at the Castle of St. Angelo.

Probably the most colossal jewel of ancient times was Page 57 the Peacock Throne of Delhi. It was in the form of two spread tails of peacocks, composed entirely of sapphires, emeralds and topazes, feather by feather and eye by eye, set so as to touch each other. A parrot of life size carved from a single emerald, stood between the peacocks.

In 1161 the throne of the Emperor in Constantinople is described by Benjamin of Tudela: "Of gold ornamented with precious stones. A golden crown hangs over it, suspended on a chain of the same material, the length of which exactly admits the Emperor to sit under it. The crown is ornamented with precious stones of inestimable value. Such is the lustre of these diamonds that even without any other light, they illumine the room in which they are kept."

The greatest mediæval jeweller was St. Eloi of Limoges. His history is an interesting one, and his achievement and rise in life was very remarkable in the period in which he lived. Eloi was a workman in Limoges, as a youth, under the famous Abho, in the sixth century; there he learned the craft of a goldsmith. He was such a splendid artisan that he soon received commissions for extensive works on his own account. King Clothaire II. ordered from him a golden throne, and supplied the gold which was to be used. To the astonishment of all, Eloi presented the king with two golden thrones (although it is difficult to imagine what a king would do with duplicate thrones!), and immediately it was noised abroad that the goldsmith Eloi was possessed Page 58 of miraculous powers, since, out of gold sufficient for one throne, he had constructed two. People of a more practical turn found out that Eloi had learned the art of alloying the gold, so as to make it do double duty.

A great many examples of St. Eloi's work might have been seen in France until the Revolution in 1792, especially at the Abbey of St. Denis. A ring made by him, with which St. Godiberte was married to Christ, according to the custom of mediæval saints, was preserved at Noyon until 1793, when it disappeared in the Revolution. The Chronicle says of Eloi: "He made for the king a great numer of gold vesses enriched with precious stones, and he worked incessantly, seated with his servant Thillo, a Saxon by birth, who followed the lessons of his master." St. Eloi founded two institutions for goldsmithing: one for the production of domestic and secular plate, and the other for ecclesiastical work exclusively, so that no worker in profane lines should handle the sacred vessels. The secular branch was situated near the dwelling of Eloi, in the Cité itself, and was known as "St. Eloi's Enclosure." When a fire burned them out of house and shelter, they removed to a suburban quarter, which soon became known in its turn, as the "Clôture St. Eloi." The religious branch of the establishment was presided over by the aforesaid Thillo, and was the Abbey of Solignac, near Limoges. This school was inaugurated in 631.

While Eloi was working at the court of King Clothaire II., St. Quen was there as well. The two youths struck Page 59 up a close friendship, and afterwards Ouen became his biographer. His description of Eloi's personal appearance is worth quoting, to show the sort of figure a mediæval saint sometimes cut before canonization. "He was tall, with a ruddy face, his hair and beard curly. His hands well made, and his fingers long, his face full of angelic sweetness.... At first he wore habits covered with pearls and precious stones; he had also belts sewn with pearls. His dress was of linen encrusted with gold, and the edges of his tunic trimmed with gold embroidery. Indeed, his clothing was very costly, and some of his dresses were of silk. Such was his exterior in his first period at court, and he dressed thus to avoid singularity; but under this garment he wore a rough sack cloth, and later on, he disposed of all his ornaments to relieve the distressed; and he might be seen with only a cord round his waist and common clothes. Sometimes the king, seeing him thus divested of his rich clothing, would take off his own cloak and girdle and give them to him, saying: 'It is not suitable that those who dwell for the world should be richly clad, and that those who despoil themselves for Christ should be without glory.'"

Among the numerous virtues of St. Eloi was that of a consistent carrying out of his real beliefs and theories, whether men might consider him quixotic or not. He was strongly opposed to the institution of slavery. In those days it would have been futile to preach actual emancipation. The times were not ripe. But St. Eloi Page 60 did all that he could for the cause of freedom by investing most of his money in slaves, and then setting them at liberty. Sometimes he would "corner" a whole slave market, buying as many as thirty to a hundred at a time. Some of these manumitted persons became his own faithful followers: some entered the religious life, and others devoted their talents to their benefactor, and worked in his studios for the furthering of art in the Church.

He once played a trick upon the king. He requested the gift of a town, in order, as he explained, that he might there build a ladder by which they might both reach heaven. The king, in the rather credulous fashion of the times, granted his request, and waited to see the ladder. St. Eloi promptly built a monastery. If the monarch did not choose to avail himself of this species of ladder,—surely it was no fault of the builder!

St. Quen and St. Eloi were consecrated bishops on the same day, May 14, St. Quen to the Bishopric of Rouen, and Eloi to the See of Noyon. He made a great hunt for the body of St. Quentin, which had been unfortunately mislaid, having been buried in the neighbourhood of Noyon; he turned up every available spot of ground around, within and beneath the church, until he found a skeleton in a tomb, with some iron nails. This he proclaimed to be the sacred body, for the legend was that St. Quentin had been martyred by having nails driven into his head! Although it was quite evident to others that these were coffin nails, still St. Eloi Page 61 insisted upon regarding his discovery as genuine, and they began diligently to dismember the remains for distribution among the churches. As they were pulling one of the teeth, a drop of blood was seen to follow it, which miracle was hailed by St. Eloi as the one proof wanting. Eloi had the genuine artistic temperament and his religious zeal was much influenced by his æsthetic nature. He once preached an excellent sermon, still preserved, against superstition. He inveighed particularly against the use of charms and incantations. But he had his own little streak of superstition in spite of the fact that he fulminated against it. When he had committed some fault, after confession, he used to hang bags of relics in his room, and watch them for a sign of forgiveness. When one of these would turn oily, or begin to affect the surrounding atmosphere peculiarly, he would consider it a sign of the forgiveness of heaven. It seems to us to-day as if he might have looked to his own relic bags before condemning the ignorant.

St. Eloi died in 659, and was himself distributed to the faithful in quite a wholesale way. One arm is in Paris. He was canonized both for his holy life and for his great zeal in art. He was buried in a silver coffin adorned with gold, and his tomb was said to work miracles like the shrine of Becket. Indeed, Becket himself was pretty dressy in the matter of jewels; when he travelled to Paris, the simple Frenchmen exclaimed: "What a wonderful personage the King of England must be, if his chancellor can travel in such state!"

Page 62 There are various legends about St. Eloi. It is told that a certain horse once behaved in a very obstreperous way while being shod; St. Eloi calmly cut off the animal's leg, and fixed the shoe quietly in position, and then replaced the leg, which grew into place again immediately, to the pardonable astonishment of all beholders, not to mention the horse.

St. Eloi was also employed to coin the currency of Dagobert and Clovis II., and examples of these coins may now be seen, as authentic records of the style of his work. A century after his death the monasteries which he had founded were still in operation, and Charlemagne's crown and sword are very possibly the result of St. Eloi's teachings to his followers.

While the monasteries undoubtedly controlled most of the art education of the early middle ages, there were also laymen who devoted themselves to these pursuits. John de Garlande, a famous teacher in the University of Paris, wrote, in the eleventh century, a "Dictionarius" dealing with various arts. In this interesting work he describes, the trades of the moneyers (who controlled the mint), the coining of gold and silver into currency (for the making of coin in those days was permitted by individuals), the clasp makers, the makers of cups or hanaps, jewellers and harness makers, and other artificers. John de Garlande was English, born about the middle of the twelfth century, and was educated in Oxford. In the early thirteenth century he became associated with the University, and when Page 63 Simon de Montfort was slain in 1218, at Toulouse, John was at the University of Toulouse, where he was made So professor, and stayed three years, returning then to Paris. He died about the middle of the thirteenth century. He was celebrated chiefly for his Dictionarius, a work on the various arts and crafts of France, and for a poem "De Triumphis Ecclesiæ."

During the Middle Ages votive crowns were often presented to churches; among these a few are specially famous. The crowns, studded with jewels, were suspended before the altar by jewelled chains, and often a sort of fringe of jewelled letters was hung from the rim, forming an inscription. The votive crown of King Suinthila, in Madrid, is among the most ornate of these. It is the finest specimen in the noted "Treasure of Guerrazzar," which was discovered by peasants turning up the soil near Toledo; the crowns, of which there were many, date from about the seventh century, and are sumptuous with precious stones. The workmanship is not that of a barbarous nation, though it has the fascinating irregularities of the Byzantine style.

Of the delightful work of the fifth and sixth centuries there are scarcely any examples in Italy. The so-called Iron Crown of Monza is one of the few early Lombard treasures. This crown has within it a narrow band of iron, said to be a nail of the True Cross; but the crown, as it meets the eye, is anything but iron, being one of the most superb specimens of jewelled golden workmanship, as fine as those in the Treasure of Guerrazzar.

Page 64 Figure 12

The crown of King Alfred the Great is mentioned in an old inventory as being of "gould wire worke, sett Page 65 with slight stones, and two little bells." A diadem is described by William of Malmsbury, "so precious with jewels, that the splendour... threw sparks of light so strongly on the beholder, that the more steadfastly any person endeavoured to gaze, so much the more he was dazzled, and compelled to avert the eyes!" In 1382 a circlet crown was purchased for Queen Anne of Bohemia, being set with a large sapphire, a balas, and four large pearls with a diamond in the centre.

The Cathedral at Amiens owns what is supposed to be the head of John the Baptist, enshrined in a gilt cup of silver, and with bands of jewelled work. The head is set upon a platter of gilded and jewelled silver, covered with a disc of rock crystal. The whole, though ancient, is enclosed in a modern shrine. The legend of the preservation of the Baptist's head is that Herodias, afraid that the saint might be miraculously restored to life if his head and body were laid in the same grave, decided to hide the head until this danger was past. Furtively, she concealed the relic for a time, and then it was buried in Herod's palace. It was there opportunely discovered by some monks in the fourth century. This "invention of the head" (the word being interpreted according to the credulity of the reader) resulted in its removal to Emesa, where it was exhibited in 453. In 753 Marcellus, the Abbot of Emesa, had a vision by means of which he re-discovered (or re-invented) the head, which had in some way been lost sight of. Following the guidance of his dream, he repaired to a Page 66 grotto, and proceeded to exhume the long-suffering relic. After many other similar and rather disconnected episodes, it finally came into possession of the Bishop of Amiens in 1206.

A great calamity in early times was the loss of all the valuables of King John of England. Between Lincolnshire and Norfolk the royal cortège was crossing the Wash: the jewels were all swept away. Crown and all were thus lost, in 1216.

Several crowns have been through vicissitudes. When Richard III. died, on Bosworth Field, his crown was secured by a soldier and hidden in a bush. Sir Reginald de Bray discovered it, and restored it to its rightful place. But to balance such cases several of the queens have brought to the national treasury their own crowns. In 1340 Edward III. pawned even the queen's jewels to raise money for fighting France.

The same inventory makes mention of certain treasures deposited at Westminster: the values are attached to each of these, crowns, plates, bracelets, and so forth. Also, with commendable zeal, a list was kept of other articles stored in an iron chest, among which are the items, "one liver coloured silk robe, very old, and worth nothing," and "an old combe of horne, worth nothing." A frivolous scene is described by Wood, when the notorious Republican, Marten, had access to the treasure stored in Westminster. Some of the wits of the period assembled in the treasury, and took out of the iron chest several of its jewels, a crown, sceptre, Page 67 and robes; these they put upon the merry poet, George Withers, "who, being thus crowned and royally arrayed, first marched about the room with a stately gait, and afterwards, with a thousand ridiculous and apish actions, exposed the sacred ornaments to contempt and laughter." No doubt the "olde comb" played a suitable part in these pranks,—perhaps it may even have served as orchestra.

One Sir Henry Mildmay, in 1649, was responsible for dreadful vandalism, under the Puritan régime. Among other acts which he countenanced was the destruction and sale of the wonderful Crown of King Alfred, to which allusion has just been made. In the Will of the Earl of Pembroke, in 1650, is this clause showing how unpopular Sir Henry had become: "Because I threatened Sir Henry Mildmay, but did not beat him, I give £50 to the footman who cudgelled him. Item, my will is that the said Sir Harry shall not meddle with my jewels. I knew him... when he handled the Crown jewels,... for which reason I now name him the Knave of Diamonds."

Jewelled arms and trappings became very rich in the fifteenth century. Pius II. writes of the German armour: "What shall I say of the neck chains of the men, and the bridles of the horses, which are made of the purest gold; and of the spears and scabbards which are covered with jewels?" Spurs were also set with jewels, and often damascened with gold, and ornamented with appropriate mottoes.

Page 68 An inventory of the jewelled cups and reliquaries of Queen Jeanne of Navarre, about 1570, reads like a museum. She had various gold and jewelled dishes for banquets; one jewel is described as "Item, a demoiselle of gold, represented as riding upon a horse, of mother of pearl, standing upon a platform of gold, enriched with ten rubies, six turquoises and three fine pearls." Another item is, "A fine rock crystal set in gold, enriched with three rubies, three emeralds, and a large sapphire, set transparently, the whole suspended from a small gold chain."

It is time now to speak of the actual precious stones themselves, which apart from their various settings are, after all, the real jewels. According to Cellini there are only four precious stones: he says they are made "by the four elements," ruby by fire, sapphire by air, emerald by earth, and diamond by water. It irritated him to have any one claim others as precious stones. "I have a thing or two to say," he remarks, "in order not to scandalize a certain class of men who call themselves jewellers, but may be better likened to hucksters, or linen drapers, pawn brokers, or grocers... with a maximum of credit and a minimum of brains... these dunderheads... wag their arrogant tongues at me and cry, 'How about the chrysophrase, or the jacynth, how about the aqua marine, nay more, how about the garnet, the vermeil, the crysolite, the plasura, the amethyst? Ain't these all stones and all different?' Yes, and why the devil don't you add pearls, too, among Page 69 the jewels, ain't they fish bones?" Thus he classes the stones together, adding that the balas, though light in colour, is a ruby, and the topaz a sapphire. "It is of the same hardness, and though of a different colour, must be classified with the sapphire: what better classification do you want? hasn't the air got its sun?"

Cellini always set the coloured stones in a bezel or closed box of gold, with a foil behind them. He tells an amusing story of a ruby which he once set on a bit of frayed silk instead of on the customary foil. The result happened to be most brilliant. The jewellers asked him what kind of foil he had used, and he replied that he had employed no foil. Then they exclaimed that he must have tinted it, which was against all laws of jewelry. Again Benvenuto swore that he had neither used foil, nor had he done anything forbidden or unprofessional to the stone. "At this the jeweller got a little nasty, and used strong language," says Cellini. They then offered to pay well for the information if Cellini would inform them by what means he had obtained so remarkably a lustre. Benvenuto, expressing himself indifferent to pay, but "much honoured in thus being able to teach his teachers," opened the setting and displayed his secret, and all parted excellent friends.

Even so early as the thirteenth century, the jewellers of Paris had become notorious for producing artificial jewels. Among their laws was one which stipulated that "the jeweller was not to dye the amethyst, or other false stones, nor mount them in gold leaf nor other Page 70 colour, nor mix them with rubies, emeralds, or other precious stones, except as a crystal simply without mounting or dyeing."

One day Cellini had found a ruby which he believed to be set dishonestly, that is, a very pale stone with a thick coating of dragon's blood smeared on its back. When he took it to some of his favourite "dunderheads," they were sure that he was mistaken, saying that it had been set by a noted jeweller, and could not be an imposition. So Benvenuto immediately removed the stone from its setting, thereby exposing the fraud. "Then might that ruby have been likened to the crow which tricked itself out in the feathers of the peacock," observes Cellini, adding that he advised these "old fossils in the art" to provide themselves with better eyes than they then wore. "I could not resist saying this," chuckles Benvenuto, "because all three of them wore great gig-lamps on their noses; whereupon they all three gasped at each other, shrugged their shoulders, and with God's blessing, made off." Cellini tells of a Milanese jeweller who concocted a great emerald, by applying a very thin layer of the real stone upon a large bit of green glass: he says that the King of England bought it, and that the fraud was not discovered for many years.

A commission was once given Cellini to make a magnificent crucifix for a gift from the Pope to Emperor Charles V., but, as he expresses it, "I was hindered from finishing it by certain beasts who had the vantage of the Pope's ear," but when these evil whisperers had so Page 71 "gammoned the Pope," that he was dissuaded from the crucifix, the Pope ordered Cellini to make a magnificent Breviary instead, so that the "job" still remained in his hands.

Giovanni Pisano made some translucid enamels for the decorations of the high altar in Florence, and also a jewelled clasp to embellish the robe of a statue of the Virgin.

Ghiberti was not above turning his attention to goldsmithing, and in 1428 made a seal for Giovanni de Medici, a cope-button and mitre for Pope Martin V., and a gold nutre with precious stones weighing five and a half pounds, for Pope Eugene IV.

Diamonds were originally cut two at a time, one cutting the other, whence has sprung the adage, "diamond cut diamond." Cutting in facets was thus the natural treatment of this gem. The practise originated in India. Two diamonds rubbing against each other systematically will in time form a facet on each. In 1475 it was discovered by Louis de Berghem that diamonds could be cut by their own dust.

It is an interesting fact in connection with the Kohinoor that in India there had always been a legend that its owner should be the ruler of India. Probably the ancient Hindoos among whom this legend developed would be astonished to know that, although the great stone is now the property of the English, the tradition is still unbroken!

Marco Polo alludes to the treasures brought from the Page 72 Isle of Ormus, as "spices, pearls, precious stones, cloth of gold and silver, elephant's teeth, and all other precious things from India." In Balaxiam he says are found "ballasses and other precious stones of great value. No man, on pain of death, dare either dig such stones or carry them out of the country, for all those stones are the King's. Other mountains also in this province yield stones called lapis lazuli, whereof the best azure is made. The like is not found in the world. These mines also yield silver, brass, and lead." He speaks of the natives as wearing gold and silver earrings, "with pearls and-other stones artificially wrought in them." In a certain river, too, are found jasper and chalcedons.

Marco Polo's account of how diamonds are obtained is ingenuous in its reckless defiance of fact. He says that in the mountains "there are certain great deep valleys to the bottom of which there is no access. Wherefore the men who go in search of the diamonds take with them pieces of meat," which they throw into this deep valley. He relates that the eagles, when they see these pieces of meat, fly down and get them, and when they return, they settle on the higher rocks, when the men raise a shout, and drive them off. After the eagles have thus been driven away, "the men recover the pieces of meat, and find them full of diamonds, which have stuck to them. For the abundance of diamonds down in the depths," continues Marco Polo, naïvely "is astonishing; but nobody can get down, and if one could, it would be only to be incontinently devoured Page 73 by the serpents which are so rife there." A further account proceeds thus: "The diamonds are so scattered and dispersed in the earth, and lie so thin, that in the most plentiful mines it is rare to find one in digging;... they are frequently enclosed in clods,... some... have the earth so fixed about them that till they grind them on a rough stone with sand, they cannot move it sufficiently to discover they are transparent or... to know them from other stones. At the first opening of the mine, the unskilful labourers sometimes, to try what they have found, lay them on a great stone, and, striking them one with another, to their costly experience, discover that they have broken a diamond.... They fill a cistern with water, soaking therein as much of the earth they dig out of the mine as it can hold at one time, breaking the clods, picking out the great stones, and stirring it with shovels... then they open a vent, letting out the foul water, and supply it with clean, till the earthy substance be all washed away, and only the gravelly one remains at the bottom." A process of sifting and drying is then described, and the gravel is all spread out to be examined, "they never examine the stuff they have washed but between the hours of ten and three, lest any cloud, by interposing, intercept the brisk beams of the sun, which they hold very necessary to assist them in their search, the diamonds constantly reflecting them when they shine on them, rendering themselves thereby the more conspicuous."

Page 74 The earliest diamond-cutter is frequently mentioned as Louis de Berquem de Bruges, in 1476. But Laborde finds earlier records of the art of cutting this gem: there was in Paris a diamond-cutter named Herman, in 1407. The diamond cutters of Paris were quite numerous in that year, and lived in a special district known as "la Courarie, where reside the workers in diamonds and other stones."

Finger rings almost deserve a history to themselves, for their forms and styles are legion. Rings were often made of glass in the eleventh century. Theophilus tells in a graphic and interesting manner how they were constructed. He recommends the use of a bar of iron, as thick as one's finger, set in a wooden handle, "as a lance is joined in its pike." There should also be a large piece of wood, at the worker's right hand, "the thickness of an arm, dug into the ground, and reaching to the top of the window." On the left of the furnace a little clay trench is to be provided. "Then, the glass being cooked," one is admonished to take the little iron in the wooden handle, dip it into the molten glass, and pick up a small portion, and "prick it into the wood, that the glass may be pierced through, and instantly warm it in the flame, and strike it twice upon the wood, that the glass may be dilated, and with quickness revolve your hand with the same iron;" when the ring is thus formed, it is to be quickly thrown into the trench. Theophilus adds, "If you wish to vary your rings with other colours... take... glass of another Page 75 colour, surrounding the glass of the ring with it in the manner of a thread... you can also place upon the ring glass of another kind, as a gem, and warm it in the fire that it may adhere." One can almost see these rings from this accurate description of their manufacture.

The old Coronation Ring, "the wedding ring of England," was a gold ring with a single fine balas ruby; the pious tradition had it that this ring was given to Edward the Confessor by a beggar, who was really St. John the Evangelist in masquerade! The palace where this unique event occurred was thereupon named Have-ring-at-Bower. The Stuart kings all wore this ring and until it came to George IV., with other Stuart bequests, it never left the royal Stuart line.

Edward I. owned a sapphire ring made by St. Dunstan. Dunstan was an industrious art spirit, being reported by William of Malmsbury as "taking great delight in music, painting, and engraving." In the "Ancren Riwle," a book of directions for the cloistered life of women, nuns are forbidden to wear "ne ring ne brooche," and to deny themselves other personal adornments.

Archbishops seem to have possessed numerous rings in ancient times. In the romance of "Sir Degrevant" a couplet alludes to:

"Archbishops with rings
  More than fifteen."

Episcopal rings were originally made of sapphires, said to be typical of the cold austerity of the life of the wearer. Later, however, the carbuncle became a Page 76 favourite, which was supposed to suggest fiery zeal for the faith. Perhaps the compromise of the customary amethyst, which is now most popularly used, for Episcopal rings, being a combination of the blue and the red, may typify a blending of more human qualities!

Figure 13

In an old will of 1529, a ring was left as a bequest to a relative, described as "a table diamond set with black aniell, meate for my little finger."

The accompanying illustration represents a Hebrew ring, surmounted by a little mosque, and having the inscription "Mazul Toub" (God be with you, or Good luck to you).

It was the custom in Elizabethan times to wear "posie rings" (or poesie rings) in which inscriptions were cut, such as, "Let likinge Laste," "Remember the ♥ that is in pain," or, "God saw fit this knot to knit," and the like. These posie rings are so called Page 77 because of the little poetical sentiments associated with them. They were often used as engagement rings, and sometimes as wedding rings. In an old Saxon ring is the inscription, "Eanred made me and Ethred owns me." One of the mottoes in an old ring is pathetic; evidently it was worn by an invalid, who was trying to be patient, "Quant Dieu Plera melior sera." (When it shall please God, I shall be better.) And in a small ring set with a tiny diamond, "This sparke shall grow." An agreeable and favourite "posie" was

"The love is true
  That I O U."

A motto in a ring owned by Lady Cathcart was inscribed on the occasion of her fourth marriage; with laudable ambition, she observes,

"If I survive,
  I will have five."

It is to these "posie rings" that Shakespeare has reference when he makes Jaques say to Orlando: "You are full of pretty answers: have you not been acquainted with goldsmiths' wives, and conned them out of rings?"

In the Isle of Man there was once a law that any girl who had been wronged by a man had the right to redress herself in one of three ways: she was given a sword, a rope and a ring, and she could decide whether she would behead him, hang him, or marry him. Tradition Page 78 states that the ring was almost invariably the weapon chosen by the lady.

Superstition has ordained that certain stones should cure certain evils: the blood-stone was of very general efficacy, it was claimed, and the opal, when folded in a bay leaf, had the power of rendering the owner invisible. Some stones, especially the turquoise, turned pale or became deeper in hue according to the state of the owner's health; the owner of a diamond was invincible; the possession of an agate made a man amiable, and eloquent. Whoever wore an amethyst was proof against intoxication, while a jacynth superinduced sleep in cases of insomnia. Bed linen was often embroidered, and set with bits of jacynth, and there is even a record of diamonds having been used in the decoration of sheets! Another entertaining instance of credulity was the use of "cramp rings." These were rings blessed by the queen, and supposed to cure all manner of cramps, just as the king's touch was supposed to cure scrofula. When a queen died, the demand for these rings became a panic: no more could be produced, until a new queen was crowned. After the beheading of Anne Boleyn, Husee writes to his patroness: "Your ladyship shall receive of this bearer nine cramp rings of silver. John Williams says he never had so few of gold as this year!"

A stone engraved with the figure of a hare was believed to be valuable in exorcising the devil. That of a dog preserved the owner from "dropsy or pestilence;" a Page 79 versatile ring indeed! An old French book speaks of an engraved stone with the image of Pegasus being particularly healthful for warriors; it was said to give them "boldness and swiftness in flight." These two virtues sound a trifle incompatible!

The turquoise was supposed to be especially sympathetic. According to Dr. Donne:

"A compassionate turquoise, that cloth tell
  By looking pale, the owner is not well,"

must have been a very sensitive stone.

There was a physician in the fourth century who was famous for his cures of colic and biliousness by means of an iron ring engraved with an exorcism requesting the bile to go and take possession of a bird! There was also a superstition that fits could be cured by a ring made of "sacrament money." The sufferer was obliged to stand at the church door, begging a penny from every unmarried man who passed in or out; this was given to a silversmith, who exchanged it at the cathedral for "sacrament money," out of which he made a ring. If this ring was worn by the afflicted person, the seizures were said to cease.

The superstition concerning the jewel in the toad's head was a strangely persistent one: it is difficult to imagine what real foundation there could ever have been for the idea. An old writer gives directions for getting this stone, which the toad in his life time seems to have guarded most carefully. "A rare good way to get Page 80 the stone out of a toad," he says, "is to put a... toad... into an earthen pot: put the same into an ant's hillocke, and cover the same with earth, which toad... the ants will eat, so that the bones... and stone will be left in the pot." Boethius once stayed up all night watching a toad in the hope that it might relinquish its treasure; but he complained that nothing resulted "to gratify the great pangs of his whole night's restlessness."

An old Irish legend says that "the stone Adamant in the land of India grows no colder in any wind or snow or ice; there is no heat in it under burning sods" (this is such an Hibernian touch! The peat fuel was the Celtic idea of a heating system), "nothing is broken from it by striking of axes and hammers; there is one thing only breaks that stone, the blood of the Lamb at the Mass; and every king that has taken that stone in his right hand before going into battle, has always gained the victory." There is also a superstition regarding the stone Hibien, which is said to flame like a fiery candle in the darkness, "it spills out poison before it in a vessel; every snake that comes near to it or crosses it dies on the moment." Another stone revered in Irish legend is the Stone of Istien, which is found "in the brains of dragons after their deaths," and a still more capable jewel seems to be the Stone of Fanes, within which it is claimed that the sun, moon, and twelve stars are to be seen. "In the hearts of the dragons it is always found that make their journey under the sea. No one having it in his hand can tell any lie until he has Page 81 put it from him; no race or army could bring it into a house where there is one that has made way with his father. At the hour of matins it gives out sweet music that there is not the like of under heaven."

Bartholomew, the mediæval scientist, tells narratives of the magical action of the sapphire. "The sapphire is a precious stone," he says, "and is blue in colour, most like to heaven in fair weather and clear, and is best among precious stones, and most apt and able to fingers of kings. And if thou put an addercop in a box, and hold a very sapphire of India at the mouth of the box any while, by virtue thereof the addercop is overcome and dieth, as it were suddenly. And this same I have seen proved oft in many and divers places." Possibly the fact that the addercop is so infrequent an invader of our modern life accounts for the fact that we are left inert upon reading so surprising a statement; or possibly our incredulity dominates our awe.

The art of the lapidary, or science of glyptics, is a most interesting study, and it would be a mistake not to consider it for a few moments on its technical side. It is very ancient as an art. In Ecclesiasticus the wise Son of Sirach alludes to craftsmen "that cut and grave seals, and are diligent to make great variety, and give themselves to counterfeit imagery, and watch to finish a work."

Theophilus on glyptics is too delightfully naïve for us to resist quoting his remarks. "Crystal," he announces, "which is water hardened into ice, and the Page 82 ice of great age hardened into stone, is trimmed and polished in this manner." He then directs the use of sandstone and emery, chiefly used by rubbing, as one might infer, to polish the stones, probably en cabochon as was the method in his time; this style of finish on a gem was called "tallow cutting." But when one wishes to sculp crystal, Theophilus informs one: "Take a goat of two or three years... make an opening between his breast and stomach, in the position of the heart, and lay in the crystal, so that it may lie in its blood until it grow warm... cut what you please in it as long as the heat lasts." Just how many goats were required to the finishing of a sculptured crystal would be determined by the elaboration of the design! Unfortunately Animal Rescue Leagues had not invaded the monasteries of the eleventh century.

In sculpturing glass, the ingenuous Theophilus is quite at his best. "Artists!" he exclaims, "who wish to engrave glass in a beautiful manner, I now can teach you, as I have myself made trial. I have sought the gross worms which the plough turns up in the ground, and the art necessary in these things also bid me procure vinegar, and the warm blood of a lusty goat, which I was careful to place under the roof for a short time, bound with a strong ivy plant. After this I infused the worms and vinegar with the warm blood and I anointed the whole clearly shining vessel; which being done, I essayed to sculp the glass with the hard stone called the Pyrites." What a pity good Theophilus had not begun Page 83 with the pyrites, when he would probably have made the further discovery that his worms and goats could have been spared.

In the polishing of precious stones, he is quite sane in his directions. "Procure a marble slab, very smooth," he enjoins, "and act as useful art points out to you." In other words, rub it until it is smooth!

Bartholomew Anglicus is as entertaining as Theophilus regarding crystal. "Men trowe that it is of snow or ice made hard in many years," he observes complacently. "This stone set in the sun taketh fire, insomuch if dry tow be put thereto, it setteth the tow on fire," and again, quoting Gregory on Ezekiel I., he adds, "water is of itself fleeting, but by strength of cold it is turned and made stedfast crystal."

Of small specimens of sculptured crystal some little dark purple beads carved into the semblance of human faces may be seen on the Tara brooch; while also on the same brooch occur little purple daisies.

The Cup of the Ptolemies, a celebrated onyx cup in Paris, is over fifteen inches in circumference, and is a fine specimen of early lapidary's work. It was presented in the ninth century by Charles the Bald to St. Denis, and was always used to contain the consecrated wine when Queens of France were crowned. Henry II. once pawned it to a Jew when he was hard up, and in 1804 it was stolen and the old gold and jewelled setting removed. It was found again in Holland, and was remounted within a century.

Page 84 In the Treasury of St. Mark's in Venice are many valuable examples of carved stones, made into cups, flagons, and the like. These were brought from Constantinople in 1204, when the city was captured by the Venetians. Constantinople was the only place where glyptics were understood and practised upon large hard stones in the early Middle Ages. The Greek artists who took refuge in Italy at that time brought the art with them. There are thirty-two of these Byzantine chalices in St. Mark's. Usually the mountings are of gold, and precious stones. There are also two beautiful cruets of agate, elaborately ornamented, but carved in curious curving forms requiring skill of a superior order. Two other rock crystal cruets are superbly carved, probably by Oriental workmen, however, as they are not Byzantine in their decorations. One of them was originally a vase, and, indeed, is still, for the long gold neck has no connection with the inside; the handle is also of gold, both these adjuncts seem to have been regarded as simply ornament. The other cruet is carved elaborately with leopards, the first and taller one showing monsters and foliate forms. Around the neck of the lower of these rock crystal cruets is an inscription, praying for God's blessing on the "Imam Aziz Billah," who was reigning in Egypt in 980. This cruet has a gold stand. The handle is cleverly cut in the same piece of crystal, but a band of gold is carried down it to give it extra strength. The forming of this handle in connection with the rest of the work is a veritable tour de force, and we should have Page 85 grave doubts whether Theophilus with his goats could have managed it!

Figure 14

Vasari speaks with characteristic enthusiasm of the glyptics of the Greeks, "whose works in that manner may be called divine." But, as he continues, "many and very many years passed over during which the art was lost".... until in the days of Lorenzo di Medici the fashion for cameos and intaglios revived.

In the Guild of the Masters of Wood and Stone in Florence, the cameo-cutters found a place, nevertheless it seems fitting to include them at this point among jewellers, instead of among carvers.

The Italians certainly succeeded in performing feats of lapidary art at a later period. Vasari mentions two cups ordered by Duke Cosmo, one cut out of a piece of lapis lazuli, and the other from an enormous heliotrope, and a crystal galley with gold rigging was made by the Sanachi brothers. In the Green Vaults in Dresden may be seen numerous specimens of valuable but hideous products of this class. In the seventeenth century, the art had run its course, and gave place to a taste for cameos, which in its turn was run into the ground.

Cameo-cutting and gem engraving has always been accomplished partly by means of a drill; the deepest point to be reached in the cutting would be punctured first, and then the surfaces cut, chipped, and ground away until the desired level was attained. This is on much the same principle as that adopted by marble cutters to-day.

Page 86 Mr. Cyril Davenport's definition of a cameo is quite satisfactory: "A small sculpture executed in low relief upon some substance precious either for its beauty, rarity, or hardness." Cameos are usually cut in onyx, the different layers and stratifications of colour being cut away at different depths, so that the sculpture appears to be rendered in one colour on another, and sometimes three or four layers are recognized, so that a shaded effect is obtained. Certain pearly shells are sometimes used for cameo cutting; these were popular in Italy in the fifteenth century. In Greece and Rome the art of cameo cutting was brought to astonishing perfection, the sardonyx being frequently used, and often cut in five different coloured layers. An enormous antique cameo, measuring over nine inches across, may be seen in Vienna; it represents the Apotheosis of Augustus, and the scene is cut in two rows of spirited figures. It dates from the first century A. D. It is in dark brown and white.

Among the treasures of the art-loving Henry III. was a "great cameo," in a golden case; it was worth two hundred pounds. This cameo was supposed to compete with a celebrated work at Ste. Chapelle in Paris, which had been brought by Emperor Baldwin II. from Constantinople.

Figure 15

In Paris was a flourishing guild, the "Lapidaries, Jewel Cutters, and Engravers of Cameos and Hard Stones," in the thirteenth century; glass cutters were included in this body for a time, but after 1584 the revised laws did not permit of any imitative work, so glass Page 87 cutters were no longer allowed to join the society. The French work was rather coarse compared with the classic examples.

The celebrated Portland Vase is a glass cameo, of enormous proportions, and a work of the first century, in blue and white. There is a quaint legend connected with the famous stone cameo known as the Vase of St. Martin, which is as follows: when St. Martin visited the Martyr's Field at Agaune, he prayed for some time, and then stuck his knife into the ground, and was excusably astonished at seeing blood flow forth. Recognizing at once that he was in the presence of the miraculous (which was almost second nature to mediæval saints), he began sedulously to collect the precious fluid in a couple of receptacles with which he had had the foresight to provide himself. The two vases, however, were soon filled, and yet the mystical ruby spring continued. At his wit's ends, he prayed again for guidance, and presently an angel descended, with a vase of fine cameo workmanship, in which the remainder of the sacred fluid was preserved. This vase is an onyx, beautifully cut, with fine figures, and is over eight inches high, mounted at foot and collar with Byzantine gold and jewelled work. The subject appears to be an episode during the Siege of Troy,—a whimsical selection of design for an angel.

Some apparently mediæval cameos are in reality antiques recut with Christian characters. A Hercules could easily be turned into a David, while Perseus and Medusa could be transformed quickly into a David and Page 88 Goliath. There are two examples of cameos of the Virgin which had commenced their careers, one as a Leda, and the other as Venus! While a St. John had originally figured as Jupiter with his eagle!

In the Renaissance there was great revival of all branches of gem cutting, and cameos began to improve, and to resemble once more their classical ancestors. Indeed, their resemblance was rather academic, and there was little originality in design. Like most of the Renaissance arts, it was a reversion instead of a new creation. Technically, however, the work was a triumph. The craftsmen were not satisfied until they had quite outdone the ancients, and they felt obliged to increase the depth of the cutting, in order to show how cleverly they could coerce the material; they even under-cut in some cases. During the Medicean period of Italian art, cameos were cut in most fantastic forms; sometimes a negro head would be introduced simply to exhibit a dark stratum in the onyx, and was quite without beauty. One of the Florentine lapidaries was known as Giovanni of the Carnelians, and another as Domenico of the Cameos. This latter carved a portrait of Ludovico il Moro on a red balas ruby, in intaglio. Nicolo Avanzi is reported as having carved a lapis lazuli "three fingers broad" into the scene of the Nativity. Matteo dal Nassaro, a son of a shoemaker in Verona, developed extraordinary talent in gem cutting.

An exotic production is a crucifix cut in a blood-stone by Matteo del Nassaro, where the artist has so utilized Page 89 the possibilities of this stone that he has made the red patches to come in suitable places to portray drops of blood. Matteo worked also in Paris, in 1531, where he formed a school and craft shop, and where he was afterwards made Engraver of the Mint.

Vasari tells of an ingenious piece of work by Matteo, where he has carved a chalcedony into a head of Dejanira, with the skin of the lion about it. He says, "In the stone there was a vein of red colour, and here the artist has made the skin turn over... and he has represented this skin with such exactitude that the spectator imagines himself to behold it newly torn from the animal! Of another mark he has availed himself, for the hair, and the white parts he has taken for the face and breast." Matteo was an independent spirit: when a baron once tried to beat him down in his price for a gem, he refused to take a small sum for it, but asked the baron to accept it as a gift. When this offer was refused, and the nobleman insisted upon giving a low price, Matteo deliberately took his hammer and shattered the cameo into pieces at a single blow. His must have been an unhappy life. Vasari says that he "took a wife in France and became the father of children, but they were so entirely dissimilar to himself, that he had but little satisfaction from them."

Another famous lapidary was Valerio Vicentino, who carved a set of crystals which were made into a casket for Pope Clement VII., while for Paul III. he made a carved crystal cross and chandelier.

Page 90 Vasari reserves his highest commendation for Casati, called "el Greco," "by whom every other artist is surpassed in the grace and perfection as well as in the universality of his productions."... "Nay, Michelangelo himself, looking at them one day while Giovanni Vasari was present, remarked that the hour for the death of the art had arrived, for it was not possible that better work could be seen!" Michelangelo proved a prophet, in this case surely, for the decadence followed swiftly.



"Oh, thou discreetest of readers," says Benvenuto Cellini, "marvel not that I have given so much time to writing about all this," and we feel like making the same apology for devoting a whole chapter to enamel; but this branch of the goldsmith's art has so many subdivisions, that it cries for space.

The word Enamel is derived from various sources. The Greek language has contributed "maltha," to melt; the German "schmeltz," the old French "esmail," and the Italian "smalta," all meaning about the same thing, and suggesting the one quality which is inseparable from enamel of all nations and of all ages,—its fusibility. For it is always employed in a fluid state, and always must be.

Enamel is a type of glass product reduced to powder, and then melted by fervent heat into a liquid condition, which, when it has hardened, returns to its vitreous state.

Enamel has been used from very early times. The first allusion to it is by Philostratus, in the year 200 A. D., where he described the process as applied to the armour of his day. "The barbarians of the regions of the ocean," Page 92 he writes, "are skilled in fusing colours on heated brass, which become as hard as stone, and render the ornament thus produced durable."

Enamels have special characteristics in different periods: in the late tenth century, of Byzantium and Germany; in the eleventh century, of Italy; while most of the later work owes its leading characteristics to the French, although it continued to be produced in the other countries.

It helps one to understand the differences and similarities in enamelled work, to observe the three general forms in which it is employed; these are, the cloisonné, the champlevé, and the painted enamel. There are many subdivisions of these classifications, but for our purpose these three will suffice.

In cloisonné, the only manner known to the Greek, Anglo-Saxon, and Celtic craftsmen, the pattern is made upon a gold ground, by little upright wire lines, like filigree, the enamel is fused into all the little compartments thus formed, each bit being one clear colour, on the principle of a mosaic. The colours were always rather clear and crude, but are the more sincere and decorative on this account, the worker recognizing frankly the limitation of the material; and the gold outline harmonizes the whole, as it does in any form of art work. A cloisonné enamel is practically a mosaic, in which the separations consist of narrow bands of metal instead of plaster. The enamel was applied in its powdered state on the gold, and then fused all together in the furnace.

Page 93 Figure 16

Page 94 Champlevé enamel has somewhat the same effect as the cloisonné, but the end is attained by different means. The outline is left in metal, and the whole background is cut away and sunk, thus making the hollow chambers for the vitreous paste, in one piece, instead of by means of wires. Often it is not easy to determine which method has been employed to produce a given work.

Painted enamels were not employed in the earliest times, but came to perfection in the Renaissance. A translucent enamel prevailed especially in Italy: a low relief was made with the graver on gold or silver; fine raised lines were left here and there, to separate the colours. Therefore, where the cutting was deepest, the enamel ran thicker, and consequently darker in colour, giving the effect of shading, while in reality only one tint had been used. The powdered and moistened enamel was spread evenly with a spatula over the whole surface, and allowed to stand in the kiln until it liquefied. Another form of enamel was used to colour gold work in relief, with a permanent coating of transparent colour. Sometimes this colour was applied in several coats, one upon another, and the features painted with a later touch. Much enamelled jewelry was made in this way, figures, dragons, and animal forms, being among the most familiar. But an actual enamel painting—on the principle of a picture, was rendered in still another way. In preparing the ground for enamel painting, there are two things which have been essentially considered in all times and countries. The enamel ground Page 95 must be more fusible than the metal on which it is placed, or else both would melt together. Also the enamel with which the final decoration is executed must be more easily made fluid than the harder enamel on which it is laid. In fact, each coat must of necessity be a trifle more fusible than the preceding one. A very accurate knowledge is necessary to execute such a work, as will be readily understood.

Figure 17

In examining historic examples of enamel, the curious oval set in gold, known as the Alfred Jewel, is among the first which come within our province. It was found in Somersetshire, and probably dates from about the year 878. It consists of an enamelled figure covered by a thick crystal, set in filigree, around the edge of which runs the inscription, "AELFRED MEC REHT GAVUR CAN" (Alfred ordered me to be wrought). King Alfred was a great patron of the arts. Of such Anglo-Saxon work, an ancient poem in the Exeter Book testifies:

"For one a wondrous skill
  in goldsmith's art is provided
  Full oft he decorates and well adorns
  A powerful king's nobles."

Celtic enamels are interesting, being usually set in the spaces among the rambling interlaces of this school of goldsmithing. The Cross of Cong is among the most famous specimens of this work, and also the bosses on the Ardagh Chalice.

The monk Theophilus describes the process of enamelling in a graphic manner. He directs his workmen to Page 96 "adapt their pieces of gold in all the settings in which the glass gems are to be placed" (by which we see that he teaches the cloisonné method). "Cut small bands of exceedingly thin gold," he continues, "in which you will bend and fashion whatever work you wish to make in enamel, whether circles, knots, or small flowers, or birds, or animals, or figures." He then admonishes one to solder it with greatest care, two or three times, until all the pieces adhere firmly to the plate. To prepare the powdered glass, Theophilus advises placing a piece of glass in the fire, and, when it has become glowing, "throw it into a copper vessel in which there is water, and it instantly flies into small fragments which you break with a round pestle until quite fine. The next step is to put the powder in its destined cloison, and to place the whole jewel upon a thin piece of iron, over which fits a cover to protect the enamel from the coals, and put it in the most intensely hot part of the fire." Theophilus recommends that this little iron cover be "perforated finely all over so that the holes may be inside flat and wide, and outside finer and rough, in order to stop the cinders if by chance they should fall upon it." This process of firing may have to be repeated several times, until the enamel fills every space evenly. Then follows the tedious task of burnishing; setting the jewel in a strong bit of wax, you are told to rub it on a "smooth hard bone," until it is polished well and evenly.

Benvenuto Cellini recommends a little paper sponge Page 97 to be used in smoothing the face of enamels. "Take a clean nice piece of paper," he writes, "and chew it well between your teeth,—that is, if you have got any—I could not do it, because I've none left!"

A celebrated piece of goldsmith's work of the tenth century is the Pala d'Oro at St. Mark's in Venice. This is a gold altar piece or reredos, about eleven feet long and seven feet high, richly wrought in the Byzantine style, and set with enamels and precious stones. The peculiar quality of the surface of the gold still lingers in the memory; it looks almost liquid, and suggests the appearance of metal in a fluid state. On its wonderful divisions and arched compartments are no less than twelve hundred pearls, and twelve hundred other precious gems. These stones surround the openings in which are placed the very beautiful enamel figures of saints and sacred personages. St. Michael occupies a prominent position; the figure is partly in relief. The largest medallion contains the figure of Christ in glory, and in other compartments may be seen even such secular personages as the Empress Irene, and the Doge who was ruling Venice at the time this altar piece was put in place—the year 1106. The Pala d'Oro is worked in the champlevé process, the ground having been cut away to receive the melted enamel. It is undoubtedly a Byzantine work; the Doge Orseolo, in 976, ordered it to be made by the enamellers of Constantinople. It was not finished for nearly two centuries, arriving in Venice in 1102, when the portrait of the Doge then Page 98 reigning was added to it. The Byzantine range of colours was copious; they had white, two reds, bright and dark, dark and light blue, green, violet, yellow, flesh tint, and black. These tints were always fused separately, one in each cloison: the Greeks in this period never tried to blend colours, and more than one tint never appears in a compartment. The enlarging and improving of the Pam d'Oro was carried on by Greek artists in Venice in 1105. It was twice altered after that, once in the fourteenth century for Dandolo, and thus the pure Byzantine type is somewhat invaded by the Gothic spirit. The restorations in 1345 were presided over by Gianmaria Boninsegna.

One of the most noted specimens of enamel work is on the Crown of Charlemagne,[1] which is a magnificent structure of eight plaques of gold, joined by hinges, and surmounted by a cross in the front, and an arch crossing the whole like a rib from back to front. The other cross rib has been lost, but originally the crown was arched by two ribs at the top. The plates of gold are ornamented, one with jewels, and filigree, and the next with a large figure in enamel. These figures are similar to those occurring on the Pala d'Oro.

[Footnote 1: See Fig. 1.]

Figure 18

The Shrine of the Three Kings in Cologne is decorated both with cloisonné and champlevé enamels,—an unusual circumstance. In Aix la Chapelle the shrine of Charlemagne is extremely like it in some respects, but the only enamels are in champlevé. Good examples Page 99 of translucent enamels in relief may be seen on several of the reliquaries at Aix la Chapelle.

Theophilus gives us directions for making a very ornate chalice with handles, richly embossed and ornamented with mello. Another paragraph instructs us how to make a golden chalice decorated with precious stones and pearls. It would be interesting as a modern problem, to follow minutely his directions, and to build the actual chalice described in the eleventh century. To apply the gems and pearls Theophilus directs us to "cut pieces like straps," which you "bend together to make small settings of them, by which the stones may be enclosed." These little settings, with their stones, are to be fixed with flour paste in their places and then warmed over the coals until they adhere. This sounds a little risky, but we fancy he must have succeeded, and, indeed, it seems to have been the usual way of setting stones in the early centuries. Filigree flowers are then to be added, and the whole soldered into place in a most primitive manner, banking the coals in the shape of a small furnace, so that the coals may lie thickly around the circumference, and when the solder "flows about as if undulating," the artist is to sprinkle it quickly with water, and take it out of the fire.

Niello, with which the chalice of Theophilus is also to be enriched, stands in relation to the more beautiful art of enamel, as drawing does to painting, and it is well to consider it here. Both the Romans and the Page 100 Anglo-Saxons understood its use. It has been employed as an art ever since the sixth and seventh centuries. The term "niello" probably is an abbreviation of the Italian word "nigellus" (black); the art is that of inlaying an engraved surface with a black paste, which is thoroughly durable and hard as the metal itself in most cases, the only difference being in flexibility; if the metal plate is bent, the niello will crack and flake off.

Figure 19

Niello is more than simply a drawing on metal. That would come under the head of engraving. A graver is used to cut out the design on the surface of the silver, which is simply a polished plane. When the drawing has been thus incised, a black enamel, made of lead, lamp black, and other substances, is filled into the interstices, and rubbed in; when quite dry and hard, this is polished. The result is a black enamel which is then fused into the silver, so that the whole is one surface, and the decoration becomes part of the original plate. The process as described by Theophilus is as follows: "Compose the niello in this manner; take pure silver and divide it into equal parts, adding to it a third part of pure copper, and taking yellow sulphur, break it very small... and when you have liquefied the silver with the copper, stir it evenly with charcoal, and instantly pour into it lead and sulphur." This niello paste is then made into a stick, and heated until "it glows: then with another forceps, long and thin, hold the niello and rub it all over the places which you wish to make black, until the drawing be full, and Page 101 carrying it away from the fire, make it smooth with a flat file, until the silver appear." When Theophilus has finished his directions, he adds: "And take great care that no further work is required." To polish the niello, he directs us to "pumice it with a damp stone, until it is made everywhere bright."

There are various accounts of how Finiguerra, who was a worker in niello in Florence, discovered by its means the art of steel engraving. It is probably only a legendary narrative, but it is always told as one of the apocryphal stories when the origin of printing is discussed, and may not be out of place here. Maso Finiguerra, a Florentine, had just engraved the plate for his famous niello, a Pax which is now to be seen in the Bargello, and had filled it in with the fluid enamel, which was standing waiting until it should be dry. Then, according to some authorities, a piece of paper blew upon the damp surface, on which, after carefully removing it, Maso found his design was impressed; others state that it was through the servant's laying a damp cloth upon it, that the principle of printing from an incised plate was suggested. At any rate, Finiguerra took the hint, it is said, and made an impression on paper, rolling it, as one would do with an etching or engraving.

In the Silver Chamber in the Pitti Palace is a Pax, by Mantegna, made in the same way as that by Finiguerra, and bearing comparison with it. The engraving is most delicate, and it is difficult to imagine a better Page 102 specimen of the art. The Madonna and Child, seated in an arbour, occupy the centre of the composition, which is framed with jewelled bands, the frame being divided into sixteen compartments, in each of which is seen a tiny and exquisite picture. The work on the arbour of roses in which the Virgin sits is of remarkable quality, as well as the small birds and animals introduced into the composition. In the background, St. Christopher is seen crossing the river with the Christ Child on his back, while in the water a fish and a swan are visible.

In Valencia in Spain may be seen a chalice which has been supposed to be the very cup in which Our Saviour instituted the Communion. The cup itself is of sardonyx, and of fine form. The base is made of the same stone, and handles and bands are of gold, adorned with black enamel. Pearls, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds are set in profusion about the stem and base. It is a work of the epoch of Imperial Rome.

In England, one of the most perfect specimens of fine, close work, is the Wilton Chalice, dating from the twelfth century. The Warwick Bowl, too, is of very delicate workmanship, and both are covered with minute scenes and figures. One of the most splendid treasures in this line is the crozier of William Wyckham, now in Oxford. It is strictly national in style.

The agreement entered into between Henry VII., and Abbot Islip, for the building of the chapel of that king in Westminster, is extant. It is bound in velvet and bossed with enamels. It is an interesting fact that some Page 103 of the enamels are in the Italian style, while others are evidently English.

Limoges was the most famous centre of the art of enamelling in the twelfth century, the work being known as Opus de Limogia, or Labor Limogiae. Limoges was a Roman settlement, and enamels were made there as early as the time of Philostratus. Champlevé enamel, while it was not produced among the Greeks, nor even in Byzantine work, was almost invariable at Limoges in the earlier days: one can readily tell the difference between a Byzantine enamel and an early Limoges enamel by this test, when there is otherwise sufficient similarity of design to warrant the question.

Some of the most beautiful enamels of Limoges were executed in what was called basse-taille, or transparent enamel on gold grounds, which had been first prepared in bas-relief. Champlevé enamel was often used on copper, for such things as pastoral staves, reliquaries, and larger bits of church furniture. The enamel used on copper is usually opaque, and somewhat coarser in texture than that employed on gold or silver. Owing to their additional toughness, these specimens are usually in perfect preservation. In 1327, Guillaume de Harie, in his will, bequeathed 800 francs to make two high tombs, to be covered with Limoges enamel, one for himself, and the other for "Blanche d'Avange, my dear companion."

An interesting form of cloisonné enamel was that known as "plique à jour," which consists of a filigree

Page 104 Figure 20

Page 105 setting with the enamel in transparent bits, without any metallic background. It is still made in many parts of the world. When held to the light it resembles minute arrangements of stained glass. Francis I. showed Benvenuto Cellini a wonderful bowl of this description, and asked Cellini if he could possibly imagine how the result was attained. "Sacred Majesty," replied Benvenuto, "I can tell you exactly how it is done," and he proceeded to explain to the astonished courtiers how the bowl was constructed, bit by bit, inside a bowl of thin iron lined with clay. The wires were fastened in place with glue until the design was complete, and then the enamel was put in place, the whole being fused together at the soldering. The clay form to which all this temporarily adhered was then removed, and the work, transparent and ephemeral, was ready to stand alone.

King John gave to the city of Lynn a magnificent cup of gold, enamelled, with figures of courtiers of the period, engaged in the sports of hawking and hare-hunting, and dressed in the costume of the king's reign. "King John gave to the Corporation a rich cup and cover," says Mackarel, "weighing seventy-three ounces, which is preserved to this day and upon all public occasions and entertainments used with some uncommon ceremonies at drinking the health of the King or Queen, and whoever goes to visit the Mayor must drink out of this cup, which contains a full pint." The colours of the enamels which are used as flat values Page 106 in backgrounds to the little silver figures, are dark rose, clear blue, and soft green. The dresses of the persons are also picked out in the same colours, varied from the grounds. This cup was drawn by John Carter in 1787, he having had much trouble in getting permission to study the original for that purpose! He took letters of introduction to the Corporation, but they appeared to suspect him of some imposture; at first they refused to entertain his proposal at all, but after several applications, he was allowed to have the original before him, in a closed room, in company with a person appointed by them but at his expense, to watch him and see that no harm came to the precious cup!

The translucent enamels on relief were made a great deal by the Italian goldsmiths; Vasari alludes to this class of work as "a species of painting united with sculpture."

As enamel came by degrees to be used as if it were paint, one of the chief charms of the art died. The limits of this art were its strength, and simple straight-forward use of the material was its best expression. The method of making a painted enamel was as follows. The design was laid out with a stilus on a copper plate. Then a flux of plain enamel was fused on to the surface, all over it. The drawing was then made again, on the same lines, in a dark medium, and the colours were laid flat inside the dark lines, accepting these lines as if they had been wires around cloisons. All painted enamels had to be enamelled on the back as well, to Page 107 prevent warping in the furnace when the shrinkage took place. After each layer of colour the whole plate was fired. In the fifteenth century these enamels were popular and retained some semblance of respect for the limitation of material; later, greater facility led, as it does in most of the arts, to a decadence in taste, and florid pictures, with as many colours and shadows as would appear in an oil painting, resulted. Here and there, where special metallic brilliancy was desired, a leaf of gold was laid under the colour of some transparent enamel, giving a decorative lustre. These bits of brilliant metal were known as paillons.

When Limoges had finally become the royal manufactory of enamels, under Francis I., the head of the works was Leonard Limousin, created "Valet de Chambre du Roi," to show his sovereign's appreciation. Remarkable examples of the work of Leonard Limousin, executed in 1547, are the large figures of the Apostles to be seen in the church of St. Pierre, at Chartres, where they are ranged about the apsidal chapel. They are painted enamels on copper sheets twenty-four by eleven inches, and are in a wonderful state of preservation. They were the gift of Henri II. to Diàne de Poictiers and were brought to Chartres from the Chateau d'Anet. These enamels, being on a white ground, have something the effect of paintings in Faience; the colouring is delicate, and they have occasional gold touches.

A treatise by William of Essex directs the artist how to prepare a plate for a painted enamel, such as were Page 108 used in miniature work. He says "To make a plate for the artist to paint upon: a piece of gold or copper being chosen, of requisite dimensions, and varying from about 1/18 to 1/16 of an inch in thickness, is covered with pulverized enamel, and passed through the fire, until it becomes of a white heat; another coating of enamel is then added, and the plate again fired; afterwards a thin layer of a substance called flux is laid upon the surface of the enamel, and the plate undergoes the action of heat for a third time. It is now ready for the painter to commence his picture upon."

Leonard Limousin painted from 1532 until 1574. He used the process as described by William of Essex (which afterwards became very popular for miniaturists), and also composed veritable pictures of his own design. It is out of our province to trace the history of the Limoges enamellers after this period.



The "perils that environ men that meddle with cold iron" are many; but those who attempt to control hot iron are also to be respected, when they achieve an artistic result with this unsympathetic metal, which by nature is entirely lacking in charm, in colour and texture, and depends more upon a proper application of design than any other, in order to overcome the obstacles to beauty with which it is beset.

"Rust hath corrupted," unfortunately, many interesting antiquities in iron, so that only a limited number of specimens of this metal have come down to us from very early times; one of the earliest in England is a grave-stone of cast metal, of the date 1350: it is decorated with a cross, and has the epitaph, "Pray for the soul of Joan Collins."

The process of casting iron was as follows. The moulds were made of a sandy substance, composed of a mixture of brick dust, loam, plaster, and charcoal. A bed of this sand was made, and into it was pressed a wooden or metal pattern. When this was removed, the imprint remained in the sand. Liquid metal was Page 110 run into the mould so formed, and would cool into the desired shape. As with a plaster cast, it was necessary to employ two such beds, the sand being firmly held in boxes, if the object was to be rounded, and then the two halves thus made were put together. Flat objects, such as fire-backs, could be run into a single mould.

Bartholomew, in his book "On the Properties of Things," makes certain statements about iron which are interesting: "Though iron cometh of the earth, yet it is most hard and sad, and therefore with beating and smiting it suppresseth and dilateth all other metal, and maketh it stretch on length and on breadth." This is the key-note to the work of a blacksmith: it is what he has done from the first, and is still doing.

In Spain there have been iron mines ever since the days when Pliny wrote and alluded to them, but there are few samples in that country to lead us to regard it as æsthetic in its purpose until the fifteenth century.

For tempering iron instruments, there are recipes given by the monk Theophilus, but they are unfortunately quite unquotable, being treated with mediæval frankness of expression.

St. Dunstan was the patron of goldsmiths and blacksmiths. He was born in 925, and lived in Glastonbury, where he became a monk rather early in life. He not only worked in metal, but was a good musician and a great scholar, in fact a genuine rounded man of culture. He built an organ, no doubt something like the one which Theophilus describes, which, Bede tells us, Page 111 being fitted with "brass pipes, filled with air from the bellows, uttered a grand and most sweet melody." Dunstan was a favourite at court, in the reign of King Edmund. Enemies were plentiful, however, and they spread the report that Dunstan evoked demoniac aid in his almost magical work in its many departments. It was said that occasionally the evil spirits were too aggravating, and that in such cases Dunstan would stand no nonsense. There is an old verse:

"St. Dunstan, so the story goes,
  Once pulled the devil by the nose,
  With red hot tongs, which made him roar
  That he was heard three miles or more!"

The same story is told of St. Eloi, and probably of most of the mediæval artistic spirits who were unfortunate enough to be human in their temperaments and at the same time pious and struggling. He was greatly troubled by visitations such as persecuted St. Anthony. On one occasion, it is related that he was busy at his forge when this fiend was unusually persistent: St. Dunstan turned upon the demon, and grasped its nose in the hot pincers, which proved a most successful exorcism. In old portraits, St. Dunstan is represented in full ecclesiastical habit, holding the iron pincers as symbols of his prowess.

He became Archbishop of Canterbury after having held the Sees of Worcester and London. He journeyed to Rome, and received the pallium of Primate of the Anglo-Saxons, from Pope John XII. Dunstan was a Page 112 righteous statesman, twice reproving the king for evil deeds, and placing his Royal Highness under the ban of the Church for immoral conduct! St. Dunstan died in 988.

Figure 21

Wrought iron has been in use for many centuries for hinges and other decorations on doors; a necessity to every building in a town from earliest times. The word "hinge" comes from the Saxon, hengen, to hang. Primitive hinges were sometimes sockets cut in stone, as at Torcello; but soon this was proved a clumsy and inconvenient method of hanging a door, and hinges more simple in one way, and yet more ornate, came into fashion. Iron hinges were found most useful when they extended for some distance on to the door; this strengthened the door against the invasion of pirates, when the Page 113 church was the natural citadel of refuge for the inhabitants of a town, and also held it firmly from warping. At first single straps of iron were clamped on: then the natural craving for beauty prevailed, and the hinges developed, flowering out into scrolls and leaves, and spreading all over the doors, as one sees them constantly in mediæval examples. The general scheme usually followed was a straight strap of iron flanked by two curving horns like a crescent, and this motive was elaborated until a positive lace of iron, often engraved or moulded, covered the surface of the door, as in the wonderful work of Biscornette at Notre Dame in Paris.

Biscornette was a very mysterious worker, and no one ever saw him constructing the hinges. Reports went round that the devil was helping him, that he had sold his soul to the King of Darkness in order to enlist his assistance in his work; an instance of æsthetic altruism almost commendable in its exotic zeal. Certain jealous artificers even went so far as to break off bits of the meandering iron, to test it, but with no result; they could not decide whether it was cast or wrought. Later a legend grew up explaining the reason why the central door was not as ornate as the side doors: the story was that the devil was unable to assist Biscornette on this door because it was the aperture through which the Host passed in processions. It is more likely, however, that the doors were originally uniform, and that the iron was subsequently removed for some other reason. Page 114 The design is supposed to represent the Earthly Paradise. Sauval says: "The sculptured birds and ornaments are marvellous. They are made of wrought iron, the invention of Biscornette and which died with him. He worked the iron with an almost incredible industry, rendering it flexible and tractable, and gave it all the forms and scrolls he wished, with a 'douceur et une gentillesse' which surprised and astonished all the smiths." The iron master Gaegart broke off fragments of the iron, and no member of the craft has ever been able to state with certainty just how the work was accomplished. Some think that it is cast, and then treated with the file; others say that it must have been executed by casting entire, with no soldering. In any case, the secret will never be divulged, for no one was in the confidence of Biscornette.

Norman blacksmiths and workers in wrought iron were more plentiful than goldsmiths. They had, in those warlike times, more call for arms and the massive products of the forge than for gaudy jewels and table appointments. One of the doors of St. Alban's Abbey displays the skill of Norman smiths dealing with this stalwart form of ornament.

Among special artists in iron whose names have survived is that of Jehan Tonquin, in 1388. Earlier than that, a cutler, Thomas de Fieuvillier, is mentioned, as having flourished about 1330.

Figure 22

Elaborate iron work is rare in Germany; the Germans always excelled rather in bronze than in the sterner Page 115 metal. At St. Ursula's in Cologne there are iron floriated hinges, but the design and idea are French, and not native.

One may usually recognize a difference between French and English wrought iron, for the French is often in detached pieces, not an outgrowth of the actual hinge itself, and when this is found in England, it indicates French work.

Ornaments in iron were sometimes cut out of flat sheet metal, and then hammered into form. In stamping this flat work with embossed effect, the smith had to work while the iron was hot,—as Sancho Panza expressed it, "Praying to God and hammering away." Dies were made, after a time, into which the design could be beaten with less effort than in the original method.

One of the quaintest of iron doors is at Krems, where the gate is made up of square sheets of iron, cut into rude pierced designs, giving scenes from the New Testament, and hammered up so as to be slightly embossed.

The Guild of Blacksmiths in Florence flourished as early as the thirteenth century. It covered workers in many metals, copper, iron, brass, and pewter included. Among the rules of the Guild was one permitting members to work for ready money only. They were not allowed to advertise by street crying, and were fined if they did so. The Arms of the Guild was a pair of furnace tongs upon a white field. Among the products of the forge most in demand were the iron window-gratings so invariable on all houses, and called by Page 116 Michelangelo "kneeling windows," on account of the bulging shape of the lower parts.

One famous iron worker carried out the law of the Guild both in spirit and letter to the extent of insisting upon payment in advance! This was Nicolo Grosso, who worked about 1499. Vasari calls him the "money grabber." His specialty was to make the beautiful torch holders and lanterns such as one sees on the Strozzi Palace and in the Bargello.

In England there were Guilds of Blacksmiths; in Middlesex one was started in 1434, and members were known as "in the worship of St. Eloi." Members were alluded to as "Brethren and Sisteren,"—this term would fill a much felt vacancy! Some of the Guilds exacted fines from all members who did not pay a proper proportion of their earnings to the Church.

Another general use of iron for artistic purposes was in the manufacture of grilles. Grilles were used in France and England in cathedrals. The earliest Christian grille is a pierced bronze screen in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

In Hildesheim is an original form of grille; the leaves and rosettes in the design are pierced, instead of being beaten up into bosses. This probably came from the fact that the German smith did not understand the Frankish drawing, and supposed that the shaded portions of the work were intended to be open work. The result, however, is most happy, and a new feature was thus introduced into grille work.

Figure 23

Page 117 Many grilles were formed by the smith's taking an iron bar and, under the intense heat, splitting it into various branches, each of which should be twisted in a different way. Another method was to use the single slighter bar for the foundation of the design, and welding on other volutes of similar thickness to make the scroll work associated with wrought iron.

Some of the smiths who worked at Westminster Abbey are known by name; Master Henry Lewis, in 1259, made the iron work for the tomb of Henry III. A certain iron fragment is signed Gilibertus. The iron on the tomb of Queen Eleanor is by Thomas de Leighton, in 1294. Lead workers also had a place assigned to them in the precincts, which was known as "the Plumbery." In 1431 Master Roger Johnson was enjoined to arrest or press smiths into service in order to finish the ironwork on the tomb of Edward IV.

Probably the most famous use of iron in Spain is in the stupendous "rejas," or chancel screens of wrought iron; but these are nearly all of a late Renaissance style, and hardly come within the scope of this volume. The requirements of Spanish cathedrals, too, for wrought iron screens for all the side chapels, made plenty of work for the iron masters. In fact, the "rejeros," or iron master, was as regular an adjunct to a cathedral as an architect or a painter. Knockers were often very handsome in Spain, and even nail heads were decorated.

An interesting specimen of iron work is the grille that surrounds the tomb of the Scaligers in Verolla. It is Page 118 not a hard stiff structure, but is composed of circular forms, each made separately, and linked together with narrow bands, so that the construction is flexible, and is more like a gigantic piece of chain mail than an iron fence.

Quentin Matsys was known as the "blacksmith of Antwerp," and is reported to have left his original work among metals to become a painter. This was done in order to marry the lady of his choice, for she refused to join her fate to that of a craftsman. She, however, was ready to marry a painter. Quentin, therefore, gave up his hammer and anvil, and began to paint Madonnas that he might prosper in his suit. Some authorities, however, laugh at this story, and claim that the specimens of iron work which are shown as the early works of Matsys date from a time when he would have been only ten or twelve years old, and that they must therefore have been the work of his father, Josse Matsys, who was a locksmith. The well-cover in Antwerp, near the cathedral, is always known as Quentin Matsys' well. It is said that this was not constructed until 1470, while Quentin was born in 1466.

The iron work of the tomb of the Duke of Burgundy, in Windsor, is supposed to be the work of Quentin Matsys, and is considered the finest grille in England. It is wrought with such skill and delicacy that it is more like the product of the goldsmith's art than that of the blacksmith.

Another object of utility which was frequently Page 119 ornamented was the key. The Key of State, especially, was so treated. Some are nine or ten inches long, having

Figure 24

been used to present to visiting grandees as typical of the "Freedom of the City." Keys were often decorated Page 120 with handles having the appearance of Gothic tracery. In an old book published in 1795, there is an account of the miraculous Keys of St. Denis, made of silver, which they apply to the faces of these persons who have been so unfortunate as to be bitten by mad dogs, and who received certain and immediate relief in only touching them. A key in Valencia, over nine inches in length, is richly embossed, while the wards are composed of decorative letters, looking at first like an elaborate sort of filigree, but finally resolving themselves into the autographic statement: "It was made by Ahmed Ahsan." It is a delicate piece of thirteenth or fourteenth century work in iron.

Another old Spanish key has a Hebrew inscription round the handle: "The King of Kings will open: the King of the whole Earth will enter," and, in the wards, in Spanish, "God will open, the King will enter."

The iron smiths of Barcelona formed a Guild in the thirteenth century: it is to be regretted that more of their work could not have descended to us.

A frank treatment of locks and bolts, using them as decorations, instead of treating them as disgraces, upon the surface of a door, is the only way to make them in any degree effective. As Pugin has said, it is possible to use nails, screws, and rivets, so that they become "beautiful studs and busy enrichments." Florentine locksmiths were specially famous; there also was a great fashion for damascened work in that city, and it was executed with much elegance.

Page 121 In blacksmith's work, heat was used with the hammer at each stage of the work, while in armourer's or locksmith's work, heat was employed only at first, to achieve the primitive forms, and then the work was carried on with chisel and file on the cold metal. Up to the fourteenth century the work was principally that of the blacksmith, and after that, of the locksmith.

The mention of arms and armour in a book of these proportions must be very slight; the subject is a vast one, and no effort to treat it with system would be satisfactory in so small a space. But a few curious and significant facts relating to the making of armour may be cited.

The rapid decay of iron through rust—rapid, that is to say, in comparison with other metals—is often found to have taken place when the discovery of old armour has been made; so that gold ornaments, belonging to a sword or other weapon, may be found in excavating, while the iron which formed the actual weapon has disappeared.

Primitive armour was based on a leather foundation, hence the name cuirass, was derived from cuir (leather). In a former book I have alluded to the armour of the nomadic tribes, which is described by Pausanias as coarse coats of mail made out of the hoofs of horses, split, and laid overlapping each other, making them "something like dragon's scales," as Pausanias explains; adding for the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with dragons' anatomy, "Whoever has not yet seen a dragon, Page 122 has, at any rate, seen a pine cone still green. These are equally like in appearance to the surface of this armour." These horny scales of tough hoofs undoubtedly suggested, at a later date, the use of thick leather as a form of protection, and the gradual evolution may be imagined.

The art of the armourer was in early mediæval times the art of the chain maker. The chain coat, or coats of mail, reached in early days as far as the knees. Finally this developed into an entire covering for the man, with head gear as well; of course this form of armour allowed of no real ornamentation, for there was no space larger than the links of the chain upon which to bestow decoration. Each link of a coat of mail was brought round into a ring, the ends overlapped, and a little rivet inserted. Warriors trusted to no solder or other mode of fastening. All the magnificence of knightly apparel was concentrated in the surcoat, a splendid embroidered or gem-decked tunic to the knees, which was worn over the coat of mail. These surcoats were often trimmed with costly furs, ermine or vair, the latter being similar to what we now call squirrel, being part gray and part white. Cinderella's famous slipper was made of "vair," which, through a misapprehension in being translated "verre," has become known as a glass slipper.

After a bit, the makers of armour discovered that much tedious labor in chain making might be spared, if one introduced a large plate of solid metal on the chest and back. This was in the thirteenth century.

Page 123 Figure 25

Page 124 The elbows and knees were also treated in this way, and in the fourteenth century, the principle of armour had changed to a set of separate plates fastened together by links. This was the evolution from mail to plate armour. A description of Charlemagne as he appeared on the field of battle, in his armour, is given by the Monk of St. Gall, his biographer, and is dramatic. "Then could be seen the iron Charles, helmeted with an iron helmet, his iron breast and broad shoulders protected with an iron breast plate; an iron spear was raised on high in his left hand, his right always rested on his unconquered iron falchion.... His shield was all of iron, his charger was iron coloured and iron hearted.... The fields and open spaces were filled with iron; a people harder than iron paid universal homage to the hardness of iron. The horror of the dungeon seemed less than the bright gleam of iron. 'Oh, the iron! woe for the iron!' was the confused cry that rose from the citizens. The strong walls shook at the sight of iron: the resolution of young and old fell before the iron."

By the end of the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, whole suits of armour were almost invariable, and then came the opportunity for the goldsmith, the damascener, and the niellist. Some of the leading artists, especially in Italy, were enlisted in designing and decorating what might be called the armour-de-luxe of the warrior princes! The armour of horses was as ornate as that of the riders.

The sword was always the most imposingly ornamented Page 125 part of a knight's equipment, and underwent various modifications which are interesting to note. At first, it was the only weapon invariably at hand: it was enormously large, and two hands were necessary in wielding it. As the arquebuse came into use, the sword took a secondary position: it became lighter and smaller. And ever since 1510 it is a curious fact that the decorations of swords have been designed to be examined when the sword hangs with the point down; the earlier ornament was adapted to being seen at its best when the sword was held upright, as in action. Perhaps the later theory of decoration is more sensible, for it is certain that neither a warrior nor his opponent could have occasion to admire fine decoration at a time when the sword was drawn! That the arts should be employed to satisfy the eye in times of peace, sufficed the later wearers of ornamented swords.

Toledo blades have always been famous, and rank first among the steel knives of the world. Even in Roman times, and of course under the Moors, Toledo led in this department. The process of making a Toledo blade was as follows. There was a special fine white sand on the banks of the Tagus, which was used to sprinkle on the blade when it was red hot, before it was sent on to the forger's. When the blade was red hot from being steeped four-fifths of its length in flame, it was dropped point first into a bucket of water. If it was not perfectly straight when it was withdrawn, it was beaten into shape, more sand being first put upon it. Page 126 After this the remaining fifth of the blade was subjected to the fire, and was rubbed with suet while red hot; the final polish of the whole sword was produced by emery powder on wooden wheels.

Figure 26

Damascening was a favourite method of ornamenting choice suits of armour, and was also applied to bronzes, cabinets, and such pieces of metal as lent themselves to decoration. The process began like niello: little Page 127 channels for the design were hollowed out, in the iron or bronze, and then a wire of brass, silver, or gold, was laid in the groove, and beaten into place, being afterwards polished until the surface was uniform all over. One great feature of the art was to sink the incision a little broader at the base than at the top, and then to force the softer metal in, so that, by this undercutting, it was held firmly in place. Cellini tells of his first view of damascened steel blades. "I chanced," he says, "to become possessed of certain little Turkish daggers, the handle of which together with the guard and blade were ornamented with beautiful Oriental leaves, engraved with a chisel, and inlaid with gold. This kind of work differed materially from any which I had as yet practised or attempted, nevertheless I was seized with a great desire to try my hand at it, and I succeeded so admirably that I produced articles infinitely finer and more solid than those of the Turks." Benvenuto had such a humble opinion of his own powers! But when one considers the pains and labour expended upon the arts of damascening and niello, one regrets that the workers had not been inspired to attempt dentistry, and save so much unnecessary individual suffering!

On the Sword of Boabdil are many inscriptions, among them, "God is clement and merciful," and "God is gifted with the best memory." No two sentiments could be better calculated to keep a conqueror from undue excesses.

Mercia was a headquarters for steel and other metals Page 128 in the thirteenth century. Seville was even then famous for its steel, also, and in the words of a contemporary writer, "the steel which is made in Seville is most excellent; it would take too much time to enumerate the delicate objects of every kind which are made in this town." King Don Pedro, in his will, in the fourteenth century, bequeathes to his son, his "Castilian sword, which I had made here in Seville, ornamented with stones and gold." Swords were baptized; they were named, and seemed to have a veritable personality of their own. The sword of Charlemagne was christened "Joyeuse," while we all know of Arthur's Excalibur; Roland's sword was called Durandel. Saragossa steel was esteemed for helmets, and the sword of James of Arragon in 1230, "a very good sword, and lucky to those who handled it," was from Monzon. The Cid's sword was similar, and named Tizona. There is a story of a Jew who went to the grave of the Cid to steal his sword, which, according to custom, was interred with the owner: the corpse is said to have resented the intrusion by unsheathing the weapon, which miracle so amazed the Jew that he turned Christian!

Figure 27

Page 129 German armour was popular. Cologne swords were great favourites in England. King Arthur's sword was one of these,—

"For all of Coleyne was the blade
  And all the hilt of precious stone."

In the British Museum is a wonderful example of a wooden shield, painted on a gesso ground, the subject being a Knight kneeling before a lady, and the motto: "Vous ou la mort." These wooden shields were used in Germany until the end of Maximilian's reign.

The helmet, or Heaume, entirely concealed the face, so that for purposes of identification, heraldic badges and shields were displayed. Later, crests were also used on the helmets, for the same purpose.

Certain armourers were very well known in their day, and were as famous as artists in other branches. William Austin made a superb suit for the Earl of Warwick, while Thomas Stevyns was the coppersmith who worked on the same, and Bartholomew Lambspring was the polisher. There was a famous master-armourer at Greenwich in the days of Elizabeth, named Jacob: some important arms of that period bear the inscription, "Made by me Jacob." There is some question whether he was the same man as Jacob Topf who came from Innsbruck, and became court armourer in England in 1575. Another famous smith was William Pickering, who made exquisitely ornate suits of what we might call full-dress armour.

Page 130 Colossal cannon were made: two celebrated guns may be seen, the monster at Ghent, called Mad Meg, and the huge cannon at Edinburgh Castle, Mons Meg, dating from 1476. These guns are composed of steel coils or spirals, afterwards welded into a solid mass instead of being cast. They are mammoth examples of the art of the blacksmith and the forge. In Germany cannon were made of bronze, and these were simply cast.

Cross bows obtained great favour in Spain, even after the arquebuse had come into use. It was considered a safer weapon to the one who used it. An old writer in 1644 remarks, "It has never been known that a man's life has been lost by breaking the string or cord, two things which are dangerous, but not to a considerable extent,"... and he goes on "once set, its shot is secure, which is not the case with the arquebus, which often misses fire." There is a letter from Ambassador Salimas to the King of Hungary, in which he says: "I went to Balbastro and there occupied myself in making a pair of cross bows for your Majesty. I believe they will satisfy the desires which were required... as your Majesty is annoyed when they do not go off as you wish." It would seem as though his Majesty's "annoyance" was justifiable; imagine any one dependent upon the shot of a cross bow, and then having the weapon fail to "go off!" Nothing could be more discouraging.

Figure 28

There is a contemporary treatise which is full of interest, Page 131 entitled, "How a Man shall be Armed at his ease when he shall Fight on Foot." It certainly was a good deal of a contract to render a knight comfortable in spite of the fact that he could see or breathe only imperfectly, and was weighted down by iron at every point. This complete covering with metal added much to the actual noise of battle. Froissart alludes to the fact that in the battle of Rosebeque, in 1382, the hammering on the helmets made a noise which was equal to that of all the armourers of Paris and Brussels working together. And yet the strength needed to sport such accoutrements seems to have been supplied. Leon Alberti of Florence, when clad in a full suit of armour, could spring with ease upon a galloping horse, and it is related that Aldobrandini, even with his right arm disabled, could cleave straight through his opponent's helmet and head, down to the collar bone, with a single stroke!

One of the richest suits of armour in the world is to be seen at Windsor; it is of Italian workmanship, and is made of steel, blued and gilded, with wonderfully minute decorations of damascene and appliqué work. This most ornate armour was made chiefly for show, and not for the field: for knights to appear in their official capacity, and for jousting at tournaments, which were practically social events. In the days of Henry VIII. a chronicler tells of a jouster who "tourneyed in harneyse all of gilt from the head piece to the sabattons." Many had "tassels of fine gold" on their suits.

Page 132 Italian weapons called "lasquenets" were very deadly. In a letter from Albrecht Dürer to Pirckheimer, he alludes to them, as having "roncions with two hundred and eighteen points: and if they pink a man with any of these, the man is dead, as they are all poisoned."

Bronze is composed of copper with an alloy of about eight or ten per cent. of tin. The fusing of these two metals produces the brown glossy substance called bronze, which is so different from either of them. The art of the bronze caster is a very old and interesting one. The method of proceeding has varied very little with the centuries. A statue to be cast either in silver or bronze would be treated in the following manner.

A general semblance of the finished work was first set up in clay; then over this a layer of wax was laid, as thick as the final bronze was intended to be. The wax was then worked with tools and by hand until it took on the exact form designed for the finished product. Then a crust of clay was laid over the wax; on this were added other coatings of clay, until quite a thick shell of clay surrounded the wax. The whole was then subjected to fervent heat, and the wax all melted out, leaving a space between the core and the outer shell. Into this space the liquid bronze was poured, and after it had cooled and hardened the outer shell was broken off, leaving the statue in bronze exactly as the wax had been.

Cellini relates an experience in Paris, with an old man Page 133 eighty years of age, one of the most famous bronze casters whom he had engaged to assist him in his work for Francis I. Something went wrong with the furnace, and the poor old man was so upset and "got into such a stew" that he fell upon the floor, and Benvenuto picked him up fancying him to be dead: "Howbeit," explains Cellini, "I had a great beaker of the choicest wine brought him,... I mixed a large bumper of wine for the old man, who was groaning away like anything, and I bade him most winning-wise to drink, and said: 'Drink, my father, for in yonder furnace has entered in a devil, who is making all this mischief, and, look you, we'll just let him bide there a couple of days, till he gets jolly well bored, and then will you and I together in the space of three hours firing, make this metal run, like so much batter, and without any exertion at all.' The old fellow drank and then I brought him some little dainties to eat: meat pasties they were, nicely peppered, and I made him take down four full goblets of wine. He was a man quite out of the ordinary, this, and a most lovable old thing, and what with my caresses and the virtue of the wine, I found him soon moaning away as much with joy as he had moaned before with grief." Cellini displayed in this incident his belief in the great principle that the artist should find pleasure in his work in order to impart to that work a really satisfactory quality, and did exactly the right thing at the right minute; instead of trusting to a faltering effort in a disheartened man, he cheered the old bronze founder Page 134 up to such a pitch that after a day or two the work was completed with triumph and joy to both.

In the famous statue of Perseus, Cellini experienced much difficulty in keeping the metal liquid. The account of this thrilling experience, told in his matchless autobiography, is too long to quote at this point; an interesting item, however, should be noted. Cellini used pewter as a solvent in the bronze which had hardened in the furnace. "Apprehending that the cause of it was, that the fusibility of the metal was impaired, by the violence of the fire," he says, "I ordered all my dishes and porringers, which were in number about two hundred, to be placed one by one before my tubes, and part of them to be thrown into the furnace, upon which all present perceived that my bronze was completely dissolved, and that my mould was filling," and, such was the relief that even the loss of the entire pewter service of the family was sustained with equanimity; the family, "without delay, procured earthen vessels to supply the place of the pewter dishes and porringers, and we all dined together very cheerfully." Edgecumb Staley, in the "Guilds of Florence," speaks of the "pewter fattened Perseus:" this is worthy of Carlyle.

Early Britons cast statues in brass. Speed tells of King Cadwollo, who died in 677, being buried "at St. Martin's church near Ludgate, his image great and terrible, triumphantly riding on horseback, artificially cast in brass, was placed on the Western gate of the city, to the further fear and terror of the Saxons!"

Page 135 In 1562 Bartolomeo Morel, who made the celebrated statue of the Giralda Tower in Seville, executed a fifteen branched candelabrum for the Cathedral. It is a rich Renaissance design, in remarkably chaste and good lines, and holds fifteen statuettes, which are displaced to make room for the candles only during the last few days of Lent.

A curious form of mediæval trinket was the perfume ball; this consisted of a perforated ball of copper or brass, often ornamented with damascene, and intended to contain incense to perfume the air, the balls being suspended.

The earliest metal statuary in England was rendered in latten, a mixed metal of a yellow colour, the exact recipe for which has not survived. The recumbent effigies of Henry III. and Queen Eleanor are made of latten, and the tomb of the Black Prince in Canterbury is the same, beautifully chased. Many of these and other tombs were probably originally covered with gilding, painting, and enamel.

The effigies of Richard II. and his queen, Anne of Bohemia, were made during the reign of the monarch; a contemporary document states that "Sir John Innocent paid another part of a certain indenture made between the King and Nicolas Broker and Geoffrey Prest, coppersmiths of London, for the making of two images, likenesses of the King and Queen, of copper and latten, gilded upon the said marble tomb."

There are many examples of bronze gates in ecclesiastical Page 136 architecture. The gates of St. Paolo Fuori le Mura in Rome were made in 1070, in Constantinople, by Stauracius the Founder. Many authorities think that those at St. Mark's in Venice were similarly produced. The bronze doors in Rome are composed of fifty-four small designs, not in relief, but with the outlines of the subjects inlaid with silver. The doors are in Byzantine taste.

The bronze doors at Hildesheim differ from nearly all other such portals, in the elemental principle of design. Instead of being divided into small panels, they are simply blocked off into seven long horizontal compartments on each side, and then filled with a pictorial arrangement of separate figures; only three or four in each panel, widely spaced, and on a background of very low relief. The figures are applied, at scattered distances apart, and are in unusually high modelling, in some cases being almost detached from the door. The effect is curious and interesting rather than strictly beautiful, on the whole; but in detail many of the figures display rare power of plastic skill, proportion, and action. They are, at any rate, very individual: there are no other doors at all like them. They are the work of Bishop Bernward.

Unquestionably, one of the greatest achievements in bronze of any age is the pair of gates by Lorenzo Ghiberti on the Baptistery in Florence. Twenty-one years were devoted to their making, by Ghiberti and his assistants, with the stipulation that all figures in the design were to be personal work of the master, the Page 137 assistants only attending to secondary details. The doors were in place in April, 1424.

The competition for the Baptistery doors reads like a romance, and is familiar to most people who know anything of historic art. When the young Ghiberti heard that the competition was open to all, he determined to go to Florence and work for the prize; in Page 138 his own words: "When my friends wrote to me that the governors of the Baptistery were sending for masters whose skill in bronze working they wished to prove,

Figure 29

and that from all Italian lands many maestri were coming, to place themselves in this strife of talent, I could no longer forbear, and asked leave of Sig. Malatesta, who let me depart." The result of the competition is Page 139 also given in Ghiberti's words: "The palm of victory was conceded to me by all judges, and by those who competed with me. Universally all the glory was given to me without any exception."

Figure 30

Symonds considers the first gate a supreme accomplishment in bronze casting, but criticizes the other, and usually more admired gate, as "overstepping the limits that separate sculpture from painting," by "massing together figures in multitudes at three and sometimes four distances. He tried to make a place in bas-relief for perspective." Sir Joshua Reynolds finds fault with Ghiberti, also, for working at variance with the severity of sculptural treatment, by distributing small figures in a spacious landscape framework. It was not really in accordance with the limitations of his material to treat a bronze casting as Ghiberti treated it, and his example has led many men of inferior genius astray, although there is no use in denying that Ghiberti himself was clever enough to defy the usual standards and rules.

Fonts were sometimes made in bronze. There is such a one at Liege cast by Lambert Patras, which stands upon twelve oxen. It is decorated with reliefs from the Gospels. This artist, Patras, was a native of Dinant, and lived in the twelfth century. The bronze font in Hildesheim is among the most interesting late Romanesque examples in Germany. It is a large deep basin entirely covered with enrichment of Scriptural scenes, and is supported by four kneeling figures, typical of the Page 140 four Rivers of Paradise. The conical cover is also covered with Scriptural scenes, and surmounted by a foliate knob. Among the figures with which the font is covered are the Cardinal Virtues, flanked by their patron saints. Didron considers this a most important piece of bronze from an iconographic point of view theologically and poetically. The archaic qualities of the figures are fascinating and sometimes diverting. In the scene of the Baptism of Christ the water is positively trained to flow upwards in pyramidal form, in order to reach nearly to the waist, while at either side it recedes to the ground level again,—it has an ingenuous and almost startling suddenness in the rising of its flood! An interesting comment upon the prevalence of early national forms may be deduced, when one observes that on the table, at the Last Supper, there lies a perfectly shaped pretzel!

The great bronze column constructed by St. Bernward at Hildesheim has the Life of Christ represented in consecutive scenes in a spiral form, like those ornamenting the column of Trajan. Down by Bernward's grave there is a spring which is said to cure cripples and rheumatics. Peasants visit Hildesheim on saints' days in order to drink of it, and frequently, after one of these visitations, crutches are found abandoned near by.

Saxony was famous for its bronze founders, and work was sent forth, from this country, in the twelfth century, all over Europe.

Figure 31

Orcagna's tabernacle at Or San Michele is, as Symonds Page 141 has expressed it, "a monumental jewel," and "an epitome of the minor arts of mediæval Italy." On it one sees bas-relief carving, intaglios, statuettes, mosaic, the lapidary's art in agate; enamels, and gilded glass, and yet all in good taste and harmony. The sculpture is properly subordinated to the architectonic principle, and one can understand how it is not only the work of a goldsmith, but of a painter.