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columns, the strings of dancing putti and the culsde-lampe themselves, show the strong Renaissance influence in this district at the time. The artist's name is unknown. A Pyrenean, he was no doubt strongly impressed with the art of the Peninsula on the other side of the mountains, which he here endeavours to imitate. But he was at least a master of his craft, and has treated the oak with as much ease of touch as if it had been the softer walnut which later on supplanted it in these districts.

CHAPTER XVII

SYMBOLISM IN CHURCH WOODWORK—MISERICORDS—

BENCH-ENDS

IT is necessary to leave the general consideration of choirs, and to restrict ourselves to those parts only which—though as a rule hidden from view —possess, nevertheless, a peculiar interest of their own. These are the misericords of the stall-seats, and their charm is not only, if principally, on account of the subjects represented upon them. In all countries they are not infrequently examples, also, of the art of woodcarving as it was practised not only by sculptors by profession and training, but also by the mechanic of the workshop, the villager, or the inhabitant of a monastery—the amateur artist, as we might say. The same will hold good — especially in England — with regard to the bench-ends of village churches, and even, in some cases, the rood-screens.

Despite the destructions and degradations which have fallen to the lot of religious edifices in all countries, despite also the changes of taste by which Gothic art had been overpowered by that of the Renaissance, and supplanted frequently by the rococo and the sham antique, and despite the perishable nature and small intrinsic value of wood, these misericords still remain in almost numberless quantities. It is obviously impossible to treat the subject here in detail or with any completeness. Thousands of examples of misericords are noticed in the transactions of the provincial archaeoSYMBOLISM

logical societies of every country, yet many more, no doubt, have escaped especial attention.

As may be gathered from the general description of those which will be presently noticed, the real meaning of the subjects which they offer still affords material for investigation and conjecture. Every now and again the key to these cryptograms appears to suggest itself. As an instance, there is the subject, so frequently found, of the woman clothed only in a net, riding on a goat, which will presently be described. There is evident symbolism of a certain kind everywhere employed in these carvings, but symbolism which after a time became so distorted that its original meaning and place among folk-lore were lost, and the subject was used only from its comic aspect and suggestion. A symbol has been denned as a figure or image employed to represent something else: that is to say, something other than at first sight would appear to be obvious; something in which our ingenuity or experience of the science is to discover a deeper hidden meaning. A misericord with Reynard the fox carrying off his spoils of the poultry-yard does not merely refer to that animal's natural propensities, but, especially if he walks on two legs and wears a hood over his head, is a satire on vices which are to be found even in a monastery. This is still symbolism, even if degenerated into mere ridicule. A signification of symbolism, as expressed by Hugues de Saint Victor, is the allegorical representation of a Christian principle under a material form that may be seized by the senses. From the earliest times and in all ages symbolism has had an attraction for mankind. In the first chapter of Genesis we are confronted with the Tree of Knowledge, and the last book of Scripture is an allegory from beginning to end. At least we are left to discover hidden meanings clothed

limited human knowledge. Those, then, who con

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