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The craftsman
Vol. V, No. 4 (January 1904)

Schopfer, Jean
[The silversmith's art: the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries],   pp. [336]-357 PDF (6.4 MB)


Page 337


SILVERSMITH'S ART
THE    SILVERSMITH'S       ART: THE
SIXTEENTH, SEVENTEENTH AND
EIGHTEENTH CENTURIES. JEAN
SCHOPEER.       TRANSLATED       FROM
THE FRENCH BY IRENE SARGENT
WE now enter, with the Renas-
             cence, into modern times. No
             revolution was ever graver,
             deeper, more radical than the
one experienced by civilization in the six-
teenth century. Furthermore, no revolu-
tion was ever more necessary for the libera-
tion of the human mind. In its struggle
against the authority, the ignorance, the
spiritual tyranny of the Church, the six-
teenth century supported itself upon antiq-
uity. The ancients seemed to have received
from Nature that peculiar human wisdom
which the men of the then newly-awakened
Europe wished to acquire.
  c 1( universal desire was to
restore, to revive antiquity.
   The Renascence, on the one
hand, the Reformation, on the
other, created  the  modern
world. To these two move-
ments we owe the final con-
quest of intellectual freedom
and the unlimited progress of
science; to the Reformation
which reacted upon the Cath-
olic world, we owe the estab-
lishment of a higher morality.
  In the domain of art, above
all, in the domain of the deco-
rative arts, we can not, in the
least, congratulate ourselves
upon  the revolution  which
then occurred in the world of rnate t. tteliq
mind. The Middle Ages had followed an
excellent way of life, in seeking to realize an
ideal of beauty belonging and peculiar to
it. There are no anachronisms in the works
of the Middle Ages. The exquisite Virgins
carved on the portals of the cathedrals of
Paris, Chartres and Reims have typically
French faces; in them we find, refined and
beautified by art, the characteristics of a
race. It is plain that the models of these
figures were chosen from among the very
people who came to pray in the church.
Furthermore, the subjects then chosen by
art were episodes of a religious history
familiar to all, and whose events found an
echo in the heart of every person. One of
the most cherished of these subjects was the
Life and Passion of our Lord; another, the
life of the Virgin, for whom the Middle Ages
showed fervent devotion; then again, ac-
cording to the locality, the edifying adven-
nary ot the Holy Sepulchre, presented by Henry Second
  of France to the Cathedral of Reims
                                     337


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