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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/261

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METAL-WORK


223


METAL- WORK


strances, and reliquaries. So far as lightness of the structure in particular is concerned, this peculiarity is again best recognized in the reliquary and also in the monstrance. Very frequently since the fourteenth century the form chosen is that of two angels kneeling upon a base-plate and supporting the reliquary, some- times holding it in a horizontal position as a casket, sometimes vertically as a tower. In Germany there are two excellent examples of this inverted position, two reliquaries in the cathedral treasures of Aachen, which are constructed in the form of chapels with towers abounding in open-work, and are borne by saints. Reliquaries in general assumed the form of churches in miniature ; gabled hood-mouldings, pinna- cles, finials, crockets, rampant arches and buttresses, in short the whole architectural scaffolding of the early Gothic cathedral are found in the shrines, of wliich the most important is the reliquary of St. Gertrude in Nivelles, the work of Nicholas in Douai and Jacque- mon de Nivelles (1295). The same is true of the remaining works in metal.

The architectural ornaments forced themselves also upon articles on which we would not expect them; thus the knob (nodu.s) of the chalice often became a small chapel with many sharp corners and edges, making the handling of the chalice more difficult. Likewise, the popular plastic figures were placed upon articles of use that require a heavy formation, such as book-covers. A beautiful silver book-cover from the Benedictine convent of St. Blasien in the Black Forest is studded in this way with numerous figures of saints ; they are found even upon the smaller articles of use, as upon a cloak-clasp in the cathedral of Aachen. The manufacture of the religious works is taken more and more out of the hands of the monks and clerics, who now furnish only the ideas, and gradually passes altogether into the hands of the lay goldsmiths. By this statement of course we do not wish to imply that there were not individual artists still active in the convents, for that remains true even to the present day, but for the development of an en- tire period they are of no moment.

Among the few works of France, that have been preserved, the so-called "golden hor.se of Altotting" attained great fame ; it is a half-worldly, half-religious ornament representing the veneration of the Madonna by King Charles VI, whose horse in the lower part of the picture is held by a squire (1404). In Germany we can find no evidence of such exactly defined schools of art as in the Romanesque age ; the works still in ex- istence are exceedingly numerous, especially busts of saints and chalices. In contrast with the preceding epochs Italy now took a pronounced lead in the execu- tion of artistic metal-work for the Church; the Italian works are compact, they favour a strong substructure, which permits the application of the favourite translu- cent enamel ; there is evident also a tendency to ex- cessive ornamentation, whereby the fi.xed forms are almost suffocated. Among the schools of Italy Siena was at first pre-eminent ; from this city the goldsmith Boninsegna was called to Venice in 1345 to make re- pairs there to the Pala d'Oro of St. Mark's. Sienese masters also began in 1287 the silver altar in the cathedral at Pistoia, which was finally completed in 1399 by Florentine goldsmiths and is the largest piece of work of this kind. The masterpiece of the Floren- tine school, the silver altar of the baptistery, was be- eun in 1366 by Leonardo di Ser Giovanna and Berto di Geri; this too was not completed until one hundred years later, when the Renaissance had already fully entered into Italian art.

Bronze casting also continued to produce numerous works for the service of the Church. North Germany and the Netherlands (Dinant) were most prominently active in this field. Here we must mention first of all the numerous baptismal fonts of bronze, which are decorated on their outer sheathing with representa-


tions in relief and architectural ornaments, next the seven-armed candelabra, door-knobs, water-vessels (aquamanile), lecterns, especially the beautiful eagle- lecterns. In Germany the names of many of the masters have been handed down ; in Wittenberg, Wil- kin (1342), in Elbing, Bemhuser, and in Luljeck and Kiel, Hans Apengeter. Lastly mention should be made of the bells which were also cast in bronze. While Germany distinguished itself by its religious works cast in bronze, it was surpassed by France in another branch of the metal-worker's art.. Here in the beginning of the thirteenth century the art of the smith passed through its first periotl of full vigour. At that time, thanks to the highly developed technical processes, France produced metal-work for the doors of churches such as has never been produced since. Germany, England, and the Netherlands felt the fa- vourable influence of the French art,, which produced its magnificent works on the cathedrals at Rouen, Sens, Noyon, and especially on the cathedral at Paris. Here every wing of the fold- ing doors has three iron bands, that serve also as hinges, divided into a thousand branches and decorated with birds of every kind and fan- tastic creatures. In addition to the metal- work of the doors the blacksmith furnished the Church with artis- tic chandeliers, railings, pedestals for the Easter candle, lamps, and lec- terns. The first place in the manufacture of artistic railings un- doubtedly belongs to Italy, where the high perfection attained by the art of the Italian blacksmiths may best be seen in Florence (Sa Croce), Verona, and Siena.

III. Renaissance. — While the religious metal- T/ork in the Gothic style had in- creased in quantity often at the expense of quality, a decided retrogression in respect to quantity is noticeable during the Renais- sance. This is especially true of Germany. The dis- tressing religious agitations, the defection of many of the faithful from the old religion and the increasing indifference to religious faith had the effect of re- ducing the production of articles for church use to very c.nall proportions. In Italy, it is true, we know the names of numerous artist goldsmiths — there are about 1000 of them — but there also the munber of religious works of the Renaissance is very small. At the head of the new movement in metal-work for the Church we find the most distinguished sculptors, in fact the leading masters of the Renaissance preferred to exe- cute their work in metal (bronze) ; we need mention here only the names of Ghiberti and Donatello, the former the creator of the famous bronze doors of the baptistery at Florence, the latter the maker of the high altar in bronze in II Santo at Padua; as these works however belong to the domain of sculpture we must leave them out of consideration here.

The changes in style follow the course of the general evolution in art. 'The vertical forms of the Gothic


Reliquary of St. Kl


French GoWsmith's Work (XIII Cent.)