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devised in Kent of makyng the first bedys with the pater noster holowe like muske balls, made of boxe which in a short time susteynyd a 30 or 40 men, that made theym and sold them to Londoners whereby all parties which occupied them gate lyvyng oon with another: unto a haburdasher that carried a sample into Flaunders and ther causid a gret abundance of theym to be made by young prenters used in all such actyvite ther and brought them into England to the destruction of the seid artificers here.' The tract referred to was first printed and edited by Dr. Pauli in a contribution to the Gottingen Abhandlungen for 1878, vol. xxiii., entitled 'Drei Volkwirthschaftliche Denkschriften aus der Zeit Heinrichs V111. von England.' In this we find all that is known on the subject. The letters appear to have been addressed to Crumwell about the year 1532, the writer calling him 'my maister.' They are a lengthy and elaborately worded complaint concerning the goods and work going out of the country, of foreigners brought to and employed in England, and how to reform the Realm and set people to work. The expression 'young

Before leaving this subject some notice must be taken of two pieces, in a somewhat similar style of minute carving, which involve, in addition, questions of historical interest. They are the letters flj> and F in boxwood or cedar, in the museum of the Louvre. The M is carved with legends of the life and martyrdom of Saint Margaret. The F has on the inside, when opened, religious scenes, such as the crucifixion, mixed with others from the romances of the period, and on the outer sides foliage work and ornament of a Renaissance character. The whole is suggestive of a Franco-Flemish origin, and if these curious objects had any practical use, this would probably have been a method of telling the beads: for thirty round

prenters' probably

[graphic]

grains, or beads, surmount the edges of the letter M. This carved letter seems first to have been noticed in an account given in a communication by M. Bon to the proceedings of the Socidtd des Inscriptions et des BellesLettres in 1753. The writer considered it to be of the time of St. Louis, and further conjectured that it belonged to Margaret of Provence, who accompanied him in his first crusade. The F is mentioned by the Abbd Barthelemy in his letters in LEsprit des Journaux, 1779. It is, of course, late fifteenth or early sixteenth century work, and has given occasion for considerable ingenuity in attempting to identify the personages whose initials the letters represent. But the question has not yet been solved. The letter F was bought by M. Debruge Dumenil in 1837 for 120 francs. It afterwards went into the Hope collection for 600 francs, and at the dispersal of the latter was acquired by M. Sauvageot for 2500 francs. Labarte thought that it referred to Francois 1cr and the M to his sister Marguerite d'Angoul£me. But a more likely theory is that the letters are the initials of the names of Philibert of Savoy and the Regent Margaret, in whom we have already been much interested. In an inventory of 1523, which has been published in the Revue Archdologique for 1850 there is mention of 'une belle lettre M de bois bien taill^e a une petite chaine de bois pendant aux lettres du nom de Jdsus.' We may remark the mixture of Italian and Flemish styles and that the subjects in the medallions of the M are still Gothic though the ornamental details are of the Renaissance.

CHAPTER XI

WOOD SCULPTURE IN SPAIN—SOME SPANISH
RETABLES AND THEIR MAKERS

UP to a period as recent as the sixties of last century very little attention had been paid to the arts of Spain, with the exception of the great schools of painting. We knew Velasquez, Cano, or Murillo, but little else. Of archaeological research and books on art there was little or nothing in Spanish, or of the sculptural art of Spain in other languages, and very little had been efficiently illustrated. Indeed, to the present day, the Diccionario de Artistas Espanoles, published at the end of the eighteenth century, is almost the only work of authentic reference in the language of the country. But about 1860 the acquisitions made in the country itself by Sir J. C. Robinson, for the South Kensington Museum, were the means of opening the eyes of a great many hitherto ignorant of the treasures of Spanish sculpture, metal work and textiles, and the interest shown in them culminated in the special exhibition at that museum in 1881. Previously, Sir Richard Ford, in his Handbook for Spain, had been the only one amongst us to attempt anything like a systematic account of the arts of the Peninsula. From whatever sources the styles of the great retablos or altarpieces, in stone or wood, or the sillerias with their elaborately carved stalls, may have been borrowed or inspired, the fact remains that these works have, in common with the treasures of wroughtiron, of the goldsmith's and jeweller's art, or of embroideries, a character of their own which the least experienced critic recognizes at once as Spanish. The neglect and destruction of works of art in Spain that prevailed about the period of the purchases by our museums conduced considerably to the ease of acquirement. It is said that woodwork, and even textiles, were burnt in quantities for the sake of the bullion in the gilding which they contained. The authorities of cathedrals and monasteries were ignorant of their art interest and value, and the opportunities of collectors for a rich harvest were exceedingly great. Nevertheless, so far as wood sculpture is concerned, it cannot be said that our museum at Kensington especially profited, and for a general survey of the art we shall have to go to other museums and to the cathedrals and monasteries of the country itself for what still remains of choir-work, of altarpieces, or of detached figures.

On account of the special character of Spanish art in wood, arising from the national system of polychrome which we call estofado, and from other peculiar methods of enrichment, our observations may extend somewhat beyond the period to which, in general, it has been found necessary to restrict the scope of this book. The system of painting, so important with relation to woodcarving, was not, however, a Spanish invention, nor even peculiar to Spain. In this they were merely, according to their custom, imitating methods employed in other countries. In the earlier times, and almost to the end of the Gothic period, the flesh was painted with a single tint and varnished: later on the draperies were decorated by colouring over gold, and tracing upon this surface 'estofado' fine designs. Among the influences which have contributed to form the art of the Peninsula, we need touch but lightly on the most ancient; that is to say, on the Oriental, or Arab. The effect of the Moorish invasion, and the prolonged occupation of the country, must have been very great, and they have left their traces even in comparatively late Gothic times. Indeed, the earliest choir stalls—those of the convent of Gradafes in the kingdom of Leon, or at least the remnants of them which still exist in the Archaeological Museum at Madrid—are Arab in style, though of the thirteenth century. Later still, in the beginning of the fifteenth, the carver of the stalls of the cathedral of Huesca bore a Moslem name, Mahomet de Boja. For the most frequent examples of Moorish art we should, of course, go to the decorative interior wood-work, the artesonado ceilings, the doors and other ornamental details of palaces and municipal buildings, for example in the Alcazar of Seville. Naturally this is without figures. Briefly, the influence of Oriental art in Spain may be summed up under three systems. The first, in which, from the eighth to the twelfth century, Byzantine methods prevailed, as they existed in the churches of the East: the second, the highly decorated style of the Alhambra and Granada, covering the period between the thirteenth and the fifteenth century: and the third the Mudejar, or mixture of Christian and Moorish, the Hispano-Moresque, due to Christian work carried on by Moorish artists, or the copying and adapting by the latter of Moorish styles and designs. During those times, and indeed for long after the expulsion of the Moors, the wood most generally used was of the pine family: pitch pine, cypress, and, in particular,

Cuenca supplied unlimited quantities of the Cuenca wood so frequently mentioned in inventories as an accepted term for pine, or deal as we should say. As late as the middle of the sixteenth century we find in the contracts for a retable by the entallador Diego de Velasco, and the imagineros who assisted him, that the figures should be in good wood of Cuenca, and in cypress. The Moorish artists kept rigidly to their own

cedar. The vast

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surrounding the city of

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