Page images

teenth-century statuette of St. Catherine from the Maskell collection, now in the museum at Kensington, is a fine example of these methods, difficult to explain, in which the grounds of the draperies are prepared by fine alternating bands of gold, yellow ochre, Indian brown, and indigo, modifying the prominence of the gilding, yet without losing any of its rich effect. Undoubtedly the Spanish colourists borrowed freely from the practice of their Mussulman conquerors in the arrangement of tones and colorations in the Moorish faience, and from such monuments as the third mirhdb of the cathedral of Cordova.

The process termed est of ado may, generally speaking, be taken to mean the preparation of the surfaces to be treated before painting and gilding, especially in its application to draperies by the laying of colour on a gilt ground and tracing on it ' est of ado,' fine designs. In wood figures the carving is executed in a somewhat summary manner, for though the decorator must have a perfectly smooth surface to work upon, the wood itself is destined to disappear under successive layers of white and varnishes. The estofador worked with the dorador: gold on colour, colour on gold, the patterns applied to the metal with roulettes, punches, and other tools of the kind, giving to the representation of stuffs and tissues, in this manner, the shimmering, scintillating effect of rich damasks. The southern temperament of the Spaniard, still further influenced by oriental associations, revelled in such rich displays. In the early days the ensamblador or trazador was the architect in chief, and had under him sculptors, draughtsmen, decorators, master carpenter, and master mason, but not the painters, gilders, and estofadores. The imagineros were the sculptors, who worked from the designs supplied them by the trazador, the encarnadores were the flesh painters, the estofadores the painters of stuffs or draperies; the encarnadores ranking higher than the last named. The doradores were the gilders. With the proper tools the layer of colour on the ground of gold was traced through so as to expose the metal in parts, thus forming the designs of the stuffs to be imitated, at the same time that divers effects of tonality could be produced. Reliefs were also applied on the dead gold ground, the term estofar implying the method of representing rich stuffs and damasks, so that the saintly personages should be clothed in the most magnificent garments. Francisco Pacheco, in his Arte de la pintura (1649), gives long details of all the methods of polychroming sculpture, with recipes for colours, varnishes, gilding, and the rest, and almost a treatise on the then vexed question of the respective merits of highly polished and matt effects.

In the seventeenth century, when painting in Spain acquired a national and individual character, the system changed. Draperies were copied from nature, and real stuffs used instead of painting, pushing the practice of imitative realism to the last extreme. Figures of the latter kind are known as imagines de vestir, and no doubt the practice, common to this day, had an early origin. An image, said to have been given by St. Louis of France, is in the Capilla Real of the cathedral of Seville. Jointed limbs and mechanism to move them are frequently to be found. Yet although the artist had sometimes little more to do than the painting of the face and hands, the greatest ones did not disdain giving their assistance, and the colouring of the flesh received as much care in details as a miniature portrait. If the chisel were wielded by a Montanez, a Roldan, or a Nunez, an Alonso Cano, a Pedro da Mena, or a Pacheco, the talent of the sculptor was supplemented by his skill as a painter. The painter Geronimo Garcia collaborated with the sculptor Miguel Garcia, nor are the names of Murillo or Valdez Leal, amongst others in the first rank, to be omitted. Of Cano, as a sculptor, we possess fewer examples in wood than in stone. Amongst the former are the lifesized crucifix of the high altar at Valencia, a little St. Antony in the church of St. Nicholas, at Murcia, a St. Bruno in the Cartuja of Granada, and a seated figure of Elijah sleeping, his head resting on his hand, in the church of Santo Thome at Toledo. The last named is more probably by Becerra. In the Victoria and Albert Museum there is a group in painted terra cotta attributed to the school of Cano, which is much in the style of the Elijah. Whatever may be the measure of our admiration for this style, concerning which there is room for difference of opinion, we may take the group as very fairly illustrative of Cano as a wood sculptor.

Pasos are the groups of figures representing scenes in the Passion, often larger than life, which, to this day, are favourites in Spain and carried in processions. They are frequently of the exaggerated realistic type, with real stuffs glued on, and eyes of glass and enamel: horrible pieces of anatomy, with gaping wounds and other evidences of torments, in which the passion for realism and of truth in art is pushed to its ultimate limits. Yet many still existing are the work of Montaftez, who made several for the different churches of Seville, which are still used in the Holy Week ceremonies. Others, at Valladolid, are by Gregorio Hernandez (1566-1636) and Juan de Juni (d. 1586), at Murcia by Salcillo. There is one in the Victoria and Albert Museum by Risueflo, a pupil of Cano. Some dispute seems to have arisen in the seventeenth century witn regard to the relative merits of the painting of sculpture in general, and on the question of matt or polished surfaces. Pacheco, the father-in-law and master of Velasquez, in his Arte de la pintura, abuses the 'vulgar enamellers.' 'What audacity,' says he, 'have those who say that painting on a plane surface is the culminating point of the arts, and that, as to painting the flesh of a statue, they could do it better with their feet than the specialists could with their hands!'

Though of late date, a short mention must be made of Gregorio Hernandez. Born in 1566, he is considered, by M. Paul Lafond, as one of the purest glories of Spanish sculptural art. There is a Mater Dolorosa by him in the chapel of La Cruz, Valladolid (not mentioned, however, by Lafond), which in the opinion of many is his cJief-d'ozuvre. Unfortunately, as in the case of so much other church statuary in Spain, it is made ridiculous by the additions of monstrous crowns and draperies. We may not like, perhaps, the tears of glass encrusted in the wood, but, after all, such methods have ancient authority, and from the accounts which have come down to us, were practised by Pheidias or Antenor. Amongst the very few examples of the work of Spanish wood sculptors in the Victoria and Albert Museum, is a curious small relief attributed to Berruguete, representing St. Sebastian. The whole of the exposed parts of the body of the martyr, and of the little angel who accompanies him, is covered with seed pearls arranged and tinted so as to suggest actual flesh. The drapery and other adjuncts are sprinkled with powdered glass and minute fragments of coral and tinsel. It cannot be denied that in this work, which shows great labour and ingenuity, there is also art of a kind—indeed, of considerable merit. But one hardly knows how to characterize it or what to think of it.



IF we look at a map of the English dioceses in the twelfth century, such as Mr. Edmund Prior gives us in his History of Gothic Art in England, it is impossible to help being struck by the astounding activity displayed in the building of cathedrals, of abbeys, and of magnificent parish churches in those early days of the revival of the arts. Starting from the south and progressing towards the north we find—to name but a few only—Salisbury (1130), Ford Abbey and Wimborne (1145), Bristol (1150), Wells (1170), Glastonbury (1185), Gloster (1170), Lichfield (1190), Shrewsbury (1180), Canterbury (1175), St. Albans (1200); and, in the north, York, Kirkstall, Fountains, and many more. The succeeding century was the golden age of English Gothic. Henry 1n., on his accession in 1216, rebuilds Westminster Abbey, Lincoln is completed, Wells and Salisbury also. To add to our astonishment we may remember that the whole population of England at that time amounted to less than three millions. Doubtless these magnificent edifices became treasurehouses of sculpture of all kinds. The fabrics themselves, so far as the architectural sculpture in stone is concerned, are still open to our admiration. But

« PreviousContinue »