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resulted, not only from variety in the use made of the material, but also from variety in the material itself. So that in the first place we must avail ourselves, to a certain extent, of the author's very practical and complete knowledge of the more mechanical part of the art. And, as a fitting introduction to this part of the subject, we will quote, with a very hearty assent, the adage which is chosen as the motto of the work—*Proba est materia, si probum adhibeas artificem.' Let no one consider the brittle material here treated of as even comparatively insignificant, or unworthy of the strict and jealous regard which our author claims for it.
Glass in its original manufactured state is either white or coloured. Coloured glass is either what is called pot-metal, that is, coloured throughout its entire substance, or coated glass, which is white glass covered with a coat, more or less thick, of pot-metal colour. The beautiful deep-red or ruby-glass, brought to such perfection in the middle ages, and so unapproachable in ours, is commonly of the latter sort, other colours generally of the former. In some of the styles, however, coloured effects are produced by neither of these kinds, but by painting or staining glass originally white. This is done either by stains which are transparent and penetrating, or by enamels which are opaque, and applied merely superficially, like oil-colours, though they are afterwards fixed by burning
Such being the variety in the material itself, the methods of employing it are equally various and distinct. There is the mosaic method, in which fragments of uniformly-coloured glass are cut to the forms required, and combined with the aid of lead into a transcript of the artist's design, with little employment of any colouring-matter besides. There is the enamel method, in which glass originally white is employed, and the design painted upon it and burnt in.
Thirdly, there is a combination of these two, called the mosaic-enamel method, in which the broader and more positive masses of colour are formed by inserted pieces of coloured glass, and the remainder executed after the enamel method.
The character which the author gives of these several methods is worth observing. The mosaic system, he says, is admirably adapted to the nature of the material, but unsuited for mere picturesque effect, the colouring being produced by broad pieces of glass whose tints can scarcely be varied either in the lights or shadows, which imparts to works executed in this style the flat and hard, though brilliant character of an ancient oil-painting The prevalence of the enamel method he considers to have arisen from the revival of art in the six
teenth century, and the efforts then achieved in oil-painting. The glass-painters of that day “strove to render their own 'art more completely an imitation of nature, and to produce in
a transparent material the atmospheric and picturesque effects * exhibited by the reflectire surfaces of oil and fresco-paintings. • The glass-paintings of this style lost in transparency what they “ found in variety of tint; and in proportion as their picturesque qualities were increased by the substitution of enamel colouring for coloured glass, their depth of colour sensibly diminished.'
Now without assigning that precise limitation of each of these methods to its own period which may be found in the work itself, or defining the proportions in which they were combined at different times, it will be safe to say that the earliest specimens are the most strictly mosaic, and that the increasing use of enamels to give a greater finish to the paintings marks all the later styles, though a purely enamel style was not introduced before the latter half of the 16th century.
The author, as might be expected from any one whose tastes have been formed from medieval models, professes a preference for the mosaic above the other methods. With this preference, and after his disparaging remarks upon the enfeebling refinements which grew up with the increasing ambition to make windows independent works of art, with a more perfect pictorial effect than the early specimens, the reader would be disposed to fix the period of the author's choice at least somewhere previous to the 16th century. We shall find, however, such a conjecture erroneous.
But before we can even form any judgment of the author's principle of selection, we must make a cursory comparison of the styles of glass-painting from which he had to choose, according to the characteristics which he himself assigns them. The general features of the early English style are these. The windows consist of either coloured glass arranged in pictures, or white glass in patterns, surrounded by a border in either case. Coloured windows in this style are perfect mosaics, with a rich, gem-like effect, and exclude light more than any others. The design appears undefined at a distance, with something of the characters of a Turkey-carpet pattern. The glass is commonly arranged either in medallions, or in the form of single figures under canopies. Pattern windows in what is called white glass, are brilliant and silvery in appearance, and are composed of either quarries, that is, diamond-shaped pieces, each bearing a small pattern, or of foliage drawn on white glass and disposed in various forms furnished with borders. The foliage itself is conventional, and resembles the sculptured foliage of the same style. Great mechanical skill and ingenuity is displayed by the
artists in several points. For instance, figures at a great elevation are exaggerated in height to counteract the shortening effect of perspective. This certainly seems to indicate something more than sheer ignorance of perspective as a motive for the conventional drawing of early English times. The arrangement of the lead-work and iron frames (in medallion windows) affords further evidence of both artistic and mechanical dexterity. The general merits of the style are thus summed up by the author: 'Notwithstanding their rudeness and defective drawing, the early English windows in general possess great merit.
Simple and unaffected, they are often grandly conceived, though 'they may be imperfectly executed. A deep and lively feeling often pervades the entire figure, and its countenance, though exaggerated, exhibits expression and character. The early English artists were happy in their representations of deified 6 and sainted personages.
And in allusion to the narrow lancet windows of this style, he says, “The intensity of colours (in windows diminished as the number and size of the windows
themselves increased.' There is certainly a general approbation in this account, which hardly prepares us for the deliberate and unreserved rejection of the style, afterwards proclaimed. Windows of the decorated period assumed a less mosaic and more lively character, which is attributed partly to the introduction of the yellow stain at the beginning of the 14th century, which imparted a paler and more lemon-like tint than the potmetal yellow glass which had been in use before. Severe drawing still characterized the figures, but of a more refined nature than that of the preceding style, and dignified by ample and flowing draperies. The foliage is natural, so as to
, be easily recognised, and the dark outlines of the design become less coarse and heavy than in the earlier specimens.
In the period which followed, that of the perpendicular style, began that fatal diminution in the intensity of tints, which, more and more encouraged as the artists' ambition of pictorial effect increased, ended at last in the washy imbecility of the purely enamel method. Still it was long before the subordination of glass to the architectural members of the building was so entirely lost sight of as it was in days when mullions and tracery were unsparingly swept away to make room for the broad divisions of a feeble transparency. The glass-stainer did what he could to force his art into prominence, without proceeding to this violence; his figures were expanded to nearly the full width and height of the respective lights they occupied, but the stone divisions of those lights circumscribed their growth, and the consequence of this half acknowledgment of their subordination was, a disproportion in the figures themselves, caused by their adaptation to the space allotted them, which made them low and squat. They were distinguished, however, by a repose, and freedom from forced or extravagant attitudes, which had not accompanied the bold, severe, and spirited drawing of the earlier styles. The grand characteristic of perpendicular glass, says the author, is delicacy, sometimes bordering on timidity, and general breadth of effect. And, he admits, the windows of this period lost in power what they gained in refinement. The foliage retrograded from the approach to nature made in decorated times, without recovering the crisp outline and bold effect of early English work. On the whole, the author does not seem to have much to say in favour of the perpendicular period; certainly not enough to support an assertion of its superiority to what preceded it.
Concurrently with the close of the perpendicular period in England, arose on the continent the Cinque Cento style, and afterwards prevailed for a time in our own country. Of this style it is as well to say at once, that the author of the work we are examining considers it the golden age of glass-painting, and still further limits this period of prosperity to the years between 1525 and 1535, during which it flourished in greatest perfection. So far as we discern, he gives it this preference solely on the ground of its more refined and correct drawing. In almost all other points it seems inferior to its predecessors. Windows of this date, though chiefly constructed on the mosaic system, have a less mosaic appearance than the earlier ones. The positive colours are qualified by the introduction of tints of less power and vivacity. An effect of distance and atmosphere was attempted, and, pictorially considered, the attempt was successful, but qualities much more valuable, as accessories to the building, were sacrificed for it. With all the finish of this style, there appears to have been a want of mechanical skill in some respects when compared with that of earlier times. For instance, the utmost pains were taken, we are told, to glaze the paintings so as to conceal the leads. How much more artistic was the employment of the leads in every intricate and
graceful form, as the outline of the design itself, with the iron frames necessary to the stability of such a surface as a large early English lancet presents, wrought into the beautiful medallion forms into which the glass itself was composed! Least of all can the minor details of the style furnish the author's grounds of preference. The ornaments consist of foliage &c. intermixed with genii, Cupids, and angels, vases, candelabra, fruit, wreaths, festoons, cords and tassels! There would require at least some selection to fit them for the purposes of church-decoration. On the other hand, it is but fair to give, in the author's own
warm terms of commendation, his opinion of the drawing and colouring in use at this time. In technical knowledge of the “human figure,' he says, the glass-painters of this period cer“ tainly surpassed their predecessors, and their successors likewise. Its form and proportions are in general well preserved in their work, and their pictures are often as well executed as designed, a matter of very rare occurrence in glass-painting.' And in spite of the decrease in depth and brilliancy of colours, which he acknowledges as a characteristic of the style, he says elsewhere, that during the ten years mentioned above, ' Cinque • Cento glass-paintings display in general the most gorgeous
effects of colours, and the greatest contrasts of light and shade, • that have hitherto been attained in painted glass without sacri
ficing the transparency of the material.' He traces the superior pictorial qualities of the glass-paintings of the first * half of the sixteenth century' to the progress made at that period in fresco and oil-painting. Finally, he concludes that during this period glass-painting reached a degree of excellence ' which has not only never since been equalled, but also affords 'a satisfactory ground for the belief that if glass-painting • cannot boast of possessing examples as full of artistic merit
as the works of the great masters, this deficiency is attri• butable not to any inherent incapacity in this system of
painting for a display of high art, but simply to the want • of skill in those who have hitherto practised it.'
The so-called Intermediate'style, which is in fact no distinct style at all, but only a period of attempted revival, seems for that reason hardly to be numbered among
the progressive styles from which our author had to make his choice. Still its characteristics do bear upon his views, because they illustrate the result of imitating ancient examples at all. At all events, this part of the work is worth notice here, as pointing out and accounting for the errors into which modern glass-painters have commonly fallen. The author does not flatter the artists of his own day. . Modern imitations of • the ancient style are,” he says, distinguished by a display ' of the imperfect drawing of the ancient artists without any • of their feeling or inspiration. - The erroneous notion that • nothing besides brilliancy of colour is required in a glass
painting has engendered the cultivation of a low species of • art, and the servile imitation of the grotesque and extravagant drawing of the middle ages.' Against this truly Chinese fidelity of imitation he justly protests, though he does not appear to have a very clear apprehension of a more liberal principle. The French are said to employ higher artistic
. talents in the pursuit than ourselves, and consequently to