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life beyond the fact that he was born at Tournai about the year 1400. Tournai had long been celebrated for important schools of sculpture, and had exported far and wide its productions and artists—in earlier times, for instance, its black fonts to England—and at the end of the fourteenth century it held the foremost position in the art which Brussels and Antwerp wrested from it in the following century. From the little more of which there appears to be some documentary evidence, we may gather that Roger's master, Robert Campin, was a sculptor as well as painter. M. Maeterlinck concludes that it is certain that Van der Weyden often painted statues and retables, and, if the great carved retable of Ambierle, which has been attributed to him, is not by his hand, there would appear to be evidence not only from style, but documentary, that he is responsible at least for the painting of the sculpture, and for that of a number of other famous retables. Amongst these, for example, may be placed that of the Comte de Nahuys, and one which is perhaps the finest of all Flemish examples, the retable of Claude de Villa in the museum at Brussels. (See E. Jeannez, Le retable d'Ambierle en Roumais, in Gaz. archdol, 1886.) It is interesting to note that Waagen, many years ago, was already persuaded of the influence which the Tournaisian schools exercised not only on sculpture but even on the great Flemish painters. In the present state of the question, it is remarkable that this far-seeing critic should have expressed his opinion that 'in the same way that the most famous painters of the Roman and Tuscan schools studied the great gates of Ghiberti of the Baptistery at Florence, so also the brothers Van Eyck and Roger van der Weyden of Bruges were inspired by the sculptors of Tournai.' {Messager des Sciences et des Arts, vol. ii.)

In Gothic times the practice was universal of painting and gilding sculpture of all kinds in stone, wood, GERMAN RETABLES

ivory, and even metal. There seems to have been an absolute dislike for monochrome, which appeared to be incomplete without the aid of the painter to give it the finishing touches. Frequently, no doubt, painter and sculptor were the same individual. As the subject will be treated at greater length in a succeeding chapter, it need only be said here, that although such a striking work as the great Flemish altarpiece at South Kensington is now uncoloured, and perhaps may never have been intended to be otherwise, yet other marvellously fine pieces of the same character, such as the retable of Oplinter in the museum at Brussels, were fully coloured and gilded. There can be little doubt that the painter and sculptor worked together. It was from her Flemish neighbours that Germany received the first impulse towards realism, and when we come to consider presently some of the most striking examples amongst the mass of German altarpieces of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, the evidence of their indebtedness to Flemish art will be manifest. In the treatment of the subjects, and especially in the mannerism of the drapery, the inspiration is from the great masters of painting rather than through the medium of the carved retables. Generally speaking, and especially in the work of the more southern provinces, the German retables give an impression of an arrangement among decorative surroundings of a number of detached figures or statuettes: almost doll-like, and in the worst cases suggesting a puppet show. In the case of the Flemish, and in the north German work, influenced by the proximity of her neighbour, we have a more pictorial, more lifelike representation of the scenes and characters; the perspective is studied, the picture is complete, instead of being formed by isolated figures. The Flemish treatment is more refined, more suggestive of the active collaboration of the painter with the sculptor. The German, even in such a typical example as Michael Pacher's altarpiece at St. Wolfgang, expends himself in a profusion of details, for ever adding independent elements, and elaborating the ornament till not an unoccupied space remains. Taken singly, individual figures in the retable just mentioned are admirable. Their grouping is almost fortuitous, as of an assemblage which might have been collected from various quarters. Yet Pacher was painter as well as sculptor.

It must be admitted, also, that in the case of some altarpieces, both Flemish as well as German, the toystage-like effect is not wholly absent. The composition is divided into a number of compartments or separate stages, peopled with little figures playing their parts in some sacred drama. It is the representation, on a small scale, of a mystery-play, and, indeed, from these entertainments, so popular in the Middle Ages, the idea may have proceeded. It is still continued in the 'Cribs' which it is customary to erect in so many Catholic churches at Christmas time. Even in the best examples of the retables the scenic illusion is unavoidably present. The stage itself is sloped, so that the figures which occupy the hinder planes may be plainly visible, and there is frequently no difference in their respective proportions wherever they may be placed. There is an attempt at producing within a constricted area the effect of greater space for the action of the piece than is really the case. The groups and details of the landscape stand out with startling stereoscopic-like sharpness. The dramatic movement is so striking, and the resemblance to a piece in action so great, that one almost expects to find wings or side scenes from which other characters in the drama will presently emerge and play their parts upon the stage. At the same time one must not forget the evident relationship between these carvings and the storied panels of the diptychs and triptychs, caskets and


mirror-cases which, with less advanced ideas of perspective, delighted our mediaeval forefathers.

In about the second half of the fourteenth century wood-carving was in a highly flourishing condition in the province of Brabant, notably in the towns of Brussels and Antwerp. Reference has already been made to the organization of the guilds which were universal at this period, and nowhere ruled with greater strictness than in the Low Countries. At Brussels and at Malines the wood-carvers seem to have belonged to the guild of the Quatuor Corotiati, the stone sculptors and other allied crafts forming a separate corporation under the invocation of St. Claude and his four fellow-martyrs. Before wood-carvings could be placed on the market they had to satisfy a jury that they were made of properly seasoned oak or walnut and of the proper thickness. This examination satisfactorily passed, a mark was impressed on the piece, which seems, as a rule, to have borne some relation to the arms of the town. According to M. Destrde, who is our principal authority, the mark of an open hand or a castle belonged to Antwerp, and especially to the guild of huchiers charged with the marking of retables. The mark for Brussels, for polychromed work, was Brvesel in Gothic characters enclosed in a rectangle. Another corporation mark of Brussels is a mallet; and a shell, a fleur-de-lis, a compass and a kind of comb with four teeth, would seem to be those of the sculptors. But the whole subject of marks is somewhat involved and awaits further investigation, and careful examination of examples in various museums. Unfortunately these indications are not, in general, easy to discover, hidden away, as they often are, in the most out-of-theway corners. They are none the less important, for even if we are unable in many cases to name the actual carver of a retable or other piece of sculpture, we may at least be certain of the school to which he belonged. Every

craft was necessarily connected with a guild, and thus the work issued from a particular source, and stamped with its mark, was bound to have a family resemblance. No doubt there was more personality in the details of work in mediaeval times, in which more than one artist had a share, than there is in our own day. Still, there were probably commercial workshops, or, as we should say, carving works. Except for their independence, our modern system would not show much difference. For example, a considerable quantity of screen and other wood-carving, not excepting figure sculpture, for the use of churches, has now for some years been executed at Exeter, and there are at least two principal firms. The productions of each house are not so difficult to distinguish. On the other hand we hear, for instance, that this or that screen, or pulpit, or bench end, or figure, has been carried out by Messrs. so-andso. But of the identity or celebrity of the actual designer or carver we know nothing.

The mallet corporation mark of Brussels is found, amongst other examples, on a St. Michael, and on a Madonna group in the Louvre, and on Jan Borreman's retable of St. George in the museum of industrial arts at Brussels. We shall come across Borreman—or Borman—again in a succeeding chapter. He and his son Pascal or Passier were among the greatest and most prolific Brabant sculptors of the end of the fifteenth century. The great retable with the story of the Maccabees in the Brussels Museum is by the elder man, and is marked with the mallet and compass. His retables are especially free from the faults which were just now indicated. The figures are not suggestive of puppets, the planes are correctly disposed, the perspective excellent: the architectural features, in which the influence of the Renaissance is apparent, are free from the fantastic exuberance of ornament frequently found elsewhere. The compass

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