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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume IV: The art and architecture of the Crusader states

VI: The arts in Frankish Greece and Rhodes,   pp. 208-250 PDF (15.7 MB)

Page 250

chapel of the knights in 1504.31 Its decorations are contemporary work of
a lavish nature, armorial bearings intermixed with naturalistic flowers and
winged dragons; the scenes, set in landscapes where island castles recall
Rhodes itself, are stylistically near the French schools of the time, nearest
perhaps to those of Lyons and central France. They are framed in Renaissance
arches and pilasters. The seven choral books presented by Villiers de l'Isle
Adam to the church in Rhodes still survive in Malta, with the chants as used
by the knights, and here too the decoration seems Flemish or northern French.32
 Of the other arts, little remains of all the luxury of equipment which amazed
pilgrims and visitors in the church of St. John or the palace of the grand
master. The treasure of St. John taken to Malta was pillaged by Napoleon
or carried to the court of Paul I of Russia, where little is known of it
since the revolution of 1917. One fine piece of wood-carving survives, the
doors of the hospital which were presented to the Prince de Joinville in
1836 and are now in the Musée de Versailles. They are dated 15 12
and therefore belong to the last period of Hospitaller art in the island.
Twenty-four Gothic panels are surmounted by the arms of Amboise and Villiers
de l'Isle Adam and framed in spiral columns. It is a splendid piece of curvilinear
decoration, and has all the flat richness of surface that characterizes this
Franco-Levantine art. Fragments of similar work, which formed the chapel
screen at Bodrum, existed there built into the Moslem pulpit, until the chapel
was turned into a museum. On Patmos, the most sacred spot of the knights'
territory but one that was entirely controlled by Greek monks, the convent
of St. John possesses a rich treasure of manuscripts, plate, and woven fabrics,
but it is all Byzantine work and owes nothing to western influence. The monastic
buildings, surrounded by their twelfth-century walls and in their present
form mainly seventeenth-century work, seem to have been little altered during
the period of the knights.33 
 31. G. Bosio, Dell' Istoria della sacra religione et illma militia di San
Giovanni Gierosolimitano, I (Rome, 1594), 497. Two pages of the missal are
reproduced in the St. John's Gate Picture Book, published in 1947 by the
Grand Priory in the British Realm of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital
of St. John of Jerusalem. 
 32. Scicluna, The Church of St. John in Valetta, p. 185. Music seems to
have been cultivated in Rhodes: we hear of an Englishman skilled in an instrument
composed of four flutes joined together (Bouhours, Histoire de Pierre d'Aubusson,
p. 175). 
 33. Gerola, "I Monumenti medioevale delle tredici Sporadi: Le isole dei
monaci di ' Patmos'," Annuario della R. Scuola archeologica diAtene. . .
, II (1916), 84-99; G. Jacopi, "Le Miniature dei Codici di Patmo," Clara
Rhodos, VI-VIl (1932), 571-591 (161 pls.), and "Cimeli del Ricamo, della
pittura e della toreutica nel Tesoro del Monastero di Patmo," Clara Rhodos,
VI-VII (1932), 707-7 16 (123 pls.). 

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