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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/255

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METAL-WORK


219


METAL-WORK


the church of St. Paul re-covered at an expenditure of ne'e were likewise employed ; of these a more detailed

1452 pounds of silver. account will be given later. We shall call attention

A large amount of metal-work is also required for here only to the best-known specimen that has been

the illumination of the basilica. Constantine alone preserved, the pentaptych in the treasury of Milan

pre-sented to the Lateran church 174 separate ar- cathedral ; the central division of this is ornamented

tides of the greatest variety intended for this pur- by this process with the paschal lamb and the cross, pose. It is sufficient here to make mention merely of Finally, as to the workshops from which the Church

the chandeliers, or lustres {corona), the candelabra, derived its metal-work, there can be no doubt that

and lamps; they were made of bronze, silver, or gold, they existed in all the larger cities of the civilized

The Lateran church received among the rest a chan- countries of ancient Christendom; but the cities of the

delier with fifty lamps of the purest gold, weighing Eastern Roman Empire, and especially Byzantium,

120 pounds, and a candelabrum of the same material, seem to have been pre-eminent. There is a tendency

with eighty lamps. Even the vessels for storing the even at the present day to consider almost all of the

oil were sometimes made of precious metal. The larger works that have been preserved as products of

Lateran basilica was the owner of three such vessels Eastern art. In fact a large number of works in

of silver, weighing 900 pounds. Practically nothing metal were brought from the Orient to the Western

however of all these treasures has come down to us; countries. We mention here only a reliquary cross

only a few small cliandeliers of bronze, dating from in St. Peter's at Rome, a present of the Byzantine

the fifth to the eighth centuries, have been found, most emperor Justin II [cf. Beissel, "Verwendung edler


of them in Egypt. There remains one more article of metal that was much used in the service of the Church from the earliest centuries, thecenser. According to the" Liber pontificalis" the baptistery of St. John at the Lateran had a censer of gold weighing fifteen pounds, which was ornamented with green precious stones. If we take account then of all these articles, the con- clusion naturally follows that the use of articles of metal in the ser- vice of the Church had attained ex- traordinary proportions in Chris- tian antiquity.

More difficult than the enumer- ation of the works in metal is the description of their decoration and the technical processes employed in their manufacture, because on this point our literary sources are almost wholly silent, while of the old Christian works, which might enlighten us, but very few are ex- tant. We must therefore, in this case also, confine ourselves partic- ularly to the statements of the " Liber pontificalis ". Here we find numerous references to images


The Tassilo Chalice


Metalle zum Schmucke romischer

Kirchen vom 5-9. Jahrh." in Zcitschrift fiir christl. Kunst",

iMi^seldorf, IX (1890), 331 sqq.]. II. Middle Ages. — A. — We jjii the Middle Ages with the

I •} zantine metal-work, in order to remove at the outset the impression that the term Byzantine is used to express a definite period of time ; it is used rather to denote a def- inite geographical circle of art and culture, that is to say, Byzantimn with its immediate and more dis- tant surroundings. There were two factors that exerted a power- ful influence upon the Byzantine work : first, the almost boundless extravagance which prevailed at the imperial Court, and which, as a result of the intimate relations ex- isting between State and Church, made itself felt also in the latter; second, the close contact with the art of the inland provinces, partic- ularly with Persian art. The Per- sian, or, to use a more general term, the Oriental, influence gave rise to an extravagant seeking after colour effects in the art. of metal-


{imagines) of Christ, the Blessed Presented by Tassilo and his wife Luitperga working accompanied by a sup- Virgin, the Angels, and Apostles; ;^j4^riasrilfp°rr^SfsefvT?in6^^^ pression of the main object, namely m most cases it is impossible to the production of plastic works, determine whether the works were carved or cast, cer- To understand the latter change, we must briefly ex- tain it is that both methods were employed. The plain a few technical terms.

statues of Christ and the Apostles on the ciborium To give artistic form to the .shapeless mass of metal

presented by Constantine to the Lateran church were the processes employed are casting and hammering,

undoubtedly carved. In some cases the core of the or chiselling. In the former process the metal is

statue was of wood which was overlaid or covered brought to a liquid state and poured into a hollow

with silver or gold. Painted images also were some- form, which has previously been prepared by pressing

times decorated with reliefs of silver or gold. Gregory a solid model into a yielding mass. Although casting

III, for example, employed five pounds of pure gold must be regarded as the original mode of treating

and precious stones in the decoration of a statue of the metals, nevertheless, so far as giving artistic form to

Madonna in S. Maria Maggiore. Precious stones in gold and silver is concerned, hammering was of greater

particular were a favourite form of decoration for importance. By means of hammers the sheet of

articles made of metal; golden statues were at times metal is hollowed out and in this way given plastic

completely covered w'th them. When Sixtus I pro- form. Very closely connected with hammering is the


vided the confession of the Vatican basilica with costlier furnishings, Valentmian presented a tablet in relief with the images of Christ and the Apostles, which was studded with precious stones. The bap- tistery too beside the Lateran church possessed a censer which was adorned with precious stones. The works in bronze were often inlaid with silver decora-


art of engraving; this consists in dirccling Ihe blow of the hammer not directly upon the niefal but trans- mitting it by means of small steel chisels. It is these two latter processes that we have chiefly in mind when we speak of the goldsmith's art. By means of these the ancient art of the Occident produced its most beautiful works in metal. A different state of affairs


tions. Thus the chapels of St. John received doors existed in the Orient, and particularly in the home of

with silver ornamentation. This was probably a kind the Mesopotamio- Persian and Syrian art, where, so

of niello (cf. Rosenberg, "Niello", Frankfort, 1908). to say, the hand had less plastic training than the eye

To obtain colour effects enamel and rcrroterie cloison- a gift, for colour. The glittering gold here received