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creation at the close of the fourteenth or beginning of the fifteenth century. The subjects are taken from Homer's "Iliad/' and "il est probable (says M. Jubinal) que ce poeme se trouvait originairement reproduit en laine presque tout entier, malgre sa longueur, car ce n'etait pas le travail qui effrayait nos aieux."
Valenciennes was celebrated for the peculiar fineness and gloss of its tapestry, By the indefatigable industry of certain antiquarians, some pieces in good preservation representing a tournament, have lately been taken from a garret, dismantled of their triple panoply of dust, cleaned and hung up; after being traced from their original abode in the state apartments of a prince through various gradations, to the damp walls of a registry office, where, from their apparent fragility alone, they escaped being cut into floor mats.
Those of the Chateau D'haroue, and of the Collection Dusommerard, are also named here; but there is little to say about them, as the subjects are more imaginary than historical. They are of the sixteenth century, representing scenes of the chase, and are enlivened with birds in every position, some of them being, in proportion to other figures, certainly larger than life, and "twice as natural."
Tapisseries De La Chaise Dieu.—" L'Abbaye de la Chaise Dieu fut fondee en 1046 par Robert qu'Alexandre 2de canonisa plus tard en 1070; et dont Torigine se rattachait a la famille des comtes de Poitou.
"Robert fut destinee de bonne heure aux fonctions du sacerdoce." He went on pilgrimage to the tombs of some of the Apostles, and it was on his return thence that he was first struck with the idea of founding a ccenobitical establishment.
iC Reuniaun soldat nomme Etienne, dun solitaire nomme Delmas, et a un chanoine nomme Arbert, il se retira dans la solitude, et s'emparant du desert au profit de la religion, il planta la croix du Sauveur dans les lieux jusque-la converts de forets et de bruyeres incultes, et rassembla quelques disciples pour vivre aupres de lui sous la regie qu'un ange lui avait, disait il, apportee du ciel.
(£ Bientot la reputation des cenobites s'etendit; Robert fut reconnu comme leur chef. De toutes parts on accourut les visiter. Des donations leur furent faites, et sur les mines d\me ancienne eglise une nouvelle basilique s'eleva.
"Telle est a peu pres l'histoire primitive de 1'abbaye de la Chaise-Dieu."
The Chaise-Dieu tapestries are fourteen in number, three of them are ten feet square, and the others are six feet high by eighteen long, excepting one which measures nearly twenty-six feet. Twelve are hung on the carved wood-work of the choir of the great church, and thus cover an immense space. Further off is the ancient choir of the monks, of which the wood-work of sculptured oak is surprisingly rich. ISot even the cathedral of Rheims, of which the wood-work has long been regarded as the most beautiful in the kingdom, contains so great a number. Unhappily in times of intestine commotion this chef d'ceuvre has been horribly mutilated by the axes of modern iconoclasts, more ferocious than the barbarians of old. The two other tapestries are placed in the Church of the Penitents, an ancient refectory of the monks which now forms a dependent chapel to the great temple.
These magnificent hangings are woven of wool and silk, and one yet perceives almost throughout, golden and silver threads which time has spared. When the artist prepared to copy them for the work we are quoting, no one dreamt of the richness buried beneath the accumulated dust and dirt of centuries. They were carefully cleaned, and then, says the artist, " Je suis ebloui de cette magnificence que nous ne soupqonnions plus. C'est admirable. Les Gobelins ne produisent pas aujourdhui de tissus plus riches et plus eclatans. Imaginez vous que les robes des femmes, les ornemens, les colonnettes sont emaillees, ruisselantes de milliers de pierres fines et de perles," &c.
It would be tedious to attempt to describe individually the subjects of these tapestries. They interweave the histories of the Old and New Testaments; the centre of the work generally representing some passage in the life of our Saviour, whilst on each side is some correspondent typical incident from the Old Testament. Above are rhymed quatrains, either legendary or scriptural; and below and around are sentences drawn from the prophets or the psalms.
These tapestries appear to have been the production of the close of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries, denoting in the architecture and costumes more the reigns of Charles VIII. and Louis XL, than of Louis XII. and Francis I. Such pieces were probably long in the loom, since the tapestry of Dijon, composed of a single lai of twenty-one feet, required not less, according to a competent judge, than ten years' labour.
There are some most beautiful, even amongst these all-beautiful engravings, which we much regret to see there—engravings of the tapestry in the cathedral of Aix, which tapestry ought still to enrich our own country. Shame on those under whose barbarous rule these, amongst other valuable and cherished monuments, were, as relics of papistry, bartered for foreign gold. "L'histoire manuscrite de la ville d'Aix dit que cette tapisserie avait servi a Feglise de St. Paul de Londres ou a toute autre eglise cathedrale d'Angleterre; qu'a Tepoque de la Reformation, les tableaux et les tapisseries ayant ete exclus des temples, les Anglais chercherent a vendre dans les pays etrangers quelques unes des tapisseries qui ornaient leurs cathedrales, et qu'ils en brulerent un plus grand nombre /"
This tapestry represents the history of our Saviour, in twenty seven compartments, being in the whole about 187 feet long. It is supposed to have been woven about 1511, when William Warham was Archbishop of Canterbury, and Chancellor. Warham had been previously Bishop of London; and as his arms are on this tapestry, and also the arms of two prior bishops of London who are supposed to have left legacies to ornament the church which were applied towards defraying the expenses of this manufacture, it seems quite probable that its destination was St. Paul's, and not any other cathedral church. The arms of the king are inwrought in two
places; for Henry contributed to the embellishment of this church. He loved the arts; he decorated churches; and though he seceded from the Roman communion, he maintained throughout his life magnificent decorations in his favourite churches as well as the worship of the ancient Catholic Church. It was first under Edward, and more decidedly under Elizabeth, that the ceremonies of the church were completely changed, and that those which had been considered only decent and becoming were stigmatised as popish. Nor did this fantasy reach its height until the time of Cromwell.
Lord Douglas, Earl of Buchan, who founded the Society of Antiquaries in Edinburgh, endeavoured during the interval of the Peace of Amiens, to treat with the Archbishop of Aix for the re-purchase of this tapestry. He would have placed it in a Gothic church belonging to an ancient Scotch Abbey on his domains. He had already ornamented this church with several beautiful monuments of antiquity, and he wished to place this tapestry there as a national monument, but the treaty was broken off.
The Tapestries Of Aulhac, representing the siege of Troy, and those of Beauvais, embracing a variety of subjects from history both sacred and profane; of the Louvre, representing the Miracle of St. Quentin, tapestry representing Alexander, King of Scotland; and those of St. Remi, at Rheims, are all engraven and described.
Those of the magnificent cathedral church at Rheims, consisting of forty tapestries, forming different collections, but all on religious subjects, will probably form the material for future numbers.