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Jones, Owen, 1809-1874. / The grammar of ornament

Renaissance ornament,   pp. 107-128

Page 117

o4f polychromy took rd fresh and marked turn, the peculiarities of which,
in connexion with arabesque
and grotesque ornament, we reserve for a subsequent notice.
Turning from Italy to France, which was the first of the European nations
to light its torch at
the fire of Renaissance Art, which had been kindled in Italy, we find that
the warlike expeditions
of Charles VIII. and Louis XII. infected the nobility of France with an admiration
for the splendours
of Art met with by them at Florence, Rome, and Milan.  The first clear indication
of the coming
change might have been seen (for it was unfortunately destroyed in 1793)
in the monument erected
in 1499 to the memory of the first-named monarch, around which female figures,
in gilt bronze, of
the Virtues, were grouped completely in the Italian manner.  In the same
year, the latter sovereign
invited the celebrated Fra Giocondo, architect, of Verona, friend and fellow-student
of the elder
Aldus, and first good editor of Vitruvius, to visit France.  He remained
there from  1499 to 1506,
and designed for his royal master two bridges over the Seine, and probably
many minor works which
have now perished.  The magnificent Chateau de Gaillon, begun by Cardinal
d'Amboise in the year
1502, has been frequently ascribed to him, but, according to Emeric David
and other French archa-o-
logists, upon insufficient grounds.  The internal evidence is entirely in
favour of a French origin,
and against Giocondo, who was more of an engineer and student than an ornamental
artist. Moreover,
intermingled with much that is very fairly classical, is so much Burgundian
work, that it would be
almost as unjust to Giocondo to ascribe it to him, as to France to deprive
her of the credit of having
produced, by a French artist, her first great Renaissance monument.  The
whole of the accounts
which were published by M. Deville in 1850, set the question almost entirely
at rest; for from them
we learn that Guillaume Senault was architect and master-mason. It is, however,
just possible that
Giocondo may have been consulted by the Cardinal upon the general plan, and
that Senault and
his companions, for the most part French, may have carried out the details.
The principal Italian
by whom, if we may judge from the style, some of the most classical of the
arabesques were wrought,
was Bertrand de Meynal, who had been commissioned to carry from Genoa the
beautiful Venetian
fountain, so well known as the Vasque du Chateau de Gaillon, now in the Louvre,
and from which
(Plate LXXXI., Figs. 27, 30, 34, 38) we have engraved some elegant ornaments.
Colin Castille, who
especially figures in the list of art-workmen as "tailleur a l'antique,"
may very possibly have been
a Spaniard who had studied in Rome.  In all essential particulars, the portions
of Renaissance work
not Burgundian in style are very pure, and differ scarcely at all from good
Italian examples.
It was, however, in the monument of Louis XII., now at St. Denis, near Paris,
and one of the
richest of the sixteenth century, that symmetry of architectural disposition
was for the first time
united to masterly execution of detail in France. This beautiful work of
art was executed between
1518 and 1530, under the orders of Francis I., by Jean Juste of Tours.  Twelve
semicircular arches
inclose the bodies of the royal pair, represented naked; under every arch
is placed an apostle; and
at the four corners are four large statues of Justice, Strength, Prudence,
and Wisdom: the whole
being surmounted by statues of the King and Queen on their knees.  The bas-reliefs
represent the
triumphal entry of Louis into Genoa, and the battle of Aguadel, where he
signalized himself by
his personal valour.
The monument of Louis XII. has been often ascribed to Trebatti (Paul Ponee),
but it was finished
before he came to France, as the following extract from the royal records
proves.  Francis I. addresses
the Cardinal Duprat:-"II est deu a Jehan Juste, mon sculteur ordinaire,
porteur de ceste la
somme de 400 escus, restans des 1200 que je lui avoie pardevant or donnez
pour la menage et conduite
de la ville de Tours au lieu de St Denis en France, de la sculpture de marbre
de feuz Roy Loys et
Royne Anne, &c. Novembre 1531."
Not less worthy of study than the tomb of Louis XII., and executed at the
same period, are the
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