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The craftsman
Vol. V, No. 5 (February 1904)

Schopfer, Jean
The silversmith's art in contemporary France,   pp. 433-457 PDF (7.2 MB)


Page 433


SILVERSMITH'S ART
THE SILVERSMITH'S ART IN CON-
TEMPORARY FRANCE. BY JEAN
SCHOPF ER. TRANSLATED FROM
THE FRENCH BY IRENE SARGENT
WE have traversed seven cent-
             uries of the history of the
             goldsmith's art; examining on
             our passage the most remark-
able works of the Midle Ages, the Renas-
cence, the seventeenth and eighteenth cent-
uries. We now approach our own times
and our conclusion.
  We pass, without slackening our pace,
through almost the entire extent of the
nineteenth century, which will hold an un-
important place in the history of the deco-
rative arts. The greatest kindness that we
can show to this period is to remain silent
concerning it. Let it remain humble and
lilOue(; as it ougnt ;
for it consummated
the ruin of the deco-
rative  arts  whose
long-suspended ani-
inatioi we are to-day
struggling to restore.
  If we cast a sweep-
ing glance over the
silversmith's work of
the  seven  centuries
which  we have re-
viewed, we see that,
in the Middle Ages,
it shows a perfection
Figure I a. Rcliq uary of
the Crown of Thorns ; which has never since
Notre Dame, Paris. )e-
signed by Viollet-le-Dlue. been  equaled ; that,
Exeeutel byPussielgue further, art was then,
as we wish that it were now, within the
reach of all.  Then it did not exist ex-
clusively for the rich, as it has done since
tihe Renascence. A respect for art beau-
tifIed the most humble objects. Beside,
the artist chose and cherished themes which
were familiar to all. A Christian, working
for Christians, he found in the Gospels and
the Lives of the Saints, subjects of which
every one understood the significance and
felt the emotional power. And as to orna-
ment proper, it was always drawn from the
Fi'ure 1b. Reliquary. 1)esutgued by Viollet-le-Due
           Executed by Poussielgue
flora of the surrounding country. Wood,
mmea(low anld garden provided the foliage,
plants and flowers from which the artist
drew the dlecorative element of his works.
  In the Renascence, as we have seen, a
radical change occurred. The Subjects of
works of art were drawn from classical
sources, and, therefore, were understood by
comparatively few persons.  Ornament it-
self ceased to be sympathetic with Nature.
                                      433


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