J. Whichcord: On the antiquities of maidstone, and the polychromy of the middle ages.

The Journal of the British Archaeological Association, vol X. J. R. Smith, 36, Soho Square. Lontoo, 1855

By J. Whichcord, Jun., Esq., F. S. A.

[Read at the Rochester and Maidstone Congress.]

1 See biographical notice in the Journal, vol. ix, p. 111.Prior to entering on the immediate subject of this paper, it may be permitted that I should very briefly advert to the leading points of antiquity now remaining in the town of Maidstone, the more prominent of which have been visited during this Congress; and in doing so I cannot but allude to a distinguished local antiquary (Mr. Clement Smythe*), who, had he been still living, would have hailed this visit of so many kindred spirits with great delight, and from the mass of information possessed by him relative to the local antiquities of this county, and the anxiety he would have felt, have added much to the interest attaching to the visit of the Association to his native town. Mr. Smythe had long intended to publish the result of his researches; and for the interest of the antiquarian history of the county, it is much to be re gretted that his labours were not left arranged in a form fitted for publication.

* The old seal of Maidstone represents a maiden standing on a stone, vol x.I pass over the very meagre early history of Maidstone, although Roman remains found in it, especially a Roman bath, sufficiently prove it to have been in existence at that early date; and it has been recognized by antiquaries, and amongst them by the learned Camden, as the Vagniacæ. The modern name of the town is doubtless derived from the river Medway running through it; the Saxon "Med-weg" being easily resolved in Med-weg's town, Meddestan, Maidstone. In the records of the justices itinerant in the time of Edward I, it is said to have been called Maydenstone, or the town of Maidens.*

The chief remaining antiquities are the group of buildings around the existing parish church, consisting of the church itself, the palace of the archbishops of Canterbury, the college of William de Courtney, already ably treated of in a work by our respected associate the rev. Beale Poste. There are also some very slight remains in a house on the east of the college, conjectured by Newton to be the monastery of Grey Friars, mentioned in the supplement to the Monasticon as being founded by king Edward III and his brother the earl of Cornwall.

On the western side of the river are some remains, confined however to the chapel of the hospital for travellers or pilgrims, dedicated to St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. Thomas a Becket; it was established about the middle of the thirteenth century by Boniface archbishop of Canterbury, son of Peter earl of Savoy, and uncle to queen Eleanor, wife of Henry III.

The Grammar School is interesting as having formerly been a house of the brethren of Corpus Christi, who were to pray for the fraternity of the Guild, and celebrate masses for the repose of their souls. I have been unable to discover any record of a founder of this house, although the fraternity were possessed of a considerable estate. The revenues at the suppression were valued at £40:0:8, when the corporation of Maidstone purchased it, and converted it to the use of a free grammar school; and it is said (I believe, too truly) that it was paid for from the proceeds of the plunder of plate and vestments belonging to the church.

Returning to the group of buildings round the church. The palace, on the authority of Lambard and Kilburne, was begun in 1348, by John Ufford archbishop of Canterbury, and carried on by his successor archbishop Simon Islip, who proceeded very expeditiously with the work, pulling down his palace of Wrotham for the sake of the materials, and by license of the pope charging his whole province with a tax of 4d. in the mark for this purpose. Very little of Ufford or Islip's work is now traceable. The existing structure is to be attributed to cardinal Morton, 1486, and to sir Thomas Wyatt, who became possessed of it through his grandfather sir Henry Wyatt, of Allington castle, to whom it was granted by Henry VIII.

The church was founded by William de Courtney archbishop of Canterbury, who, in 1395, obtained a license from king Richard II to convert the parish church of St. Mary at Maidstone into a collegiate church of one master or warden, and as many chaplains as he should think fit, and to assign and appropriate several rich benefices to their use. In the centre of the chancel was formerly a superb brass of Courtney, the incision for which in a large slab of Bethersden marble is still apparent.

The archbishop, in a codicil to his will, directed his body to be interred in this church. Much discussion has taken place, however, as to the site of his tomb, which was set at rest a few years ago on examination, when his body, arrayed in full pontificals, was found.

On the tomb of Wotton, the first master of the college, situated at the back of the sedilia, between the high altar and the Arundel chantry, are painted the arms of Courtney, and the painted subjects refer to the dedication of the chantry by archbishop Arundel in 1406.

The painting on this tomb, and on the screen on the opposite side, dividing the high altar from the Gould chantry, has been exquisitely done, and though much defaced, sufficient remains to enable a just restoration to be made; and this colour is so complete a type of the principle which governed the medieval artists in this principle of decoration, that I have ventured to make it the excuse for the following remarks


From the remotest ages of antiquity, the application of colour has been numbered among the arts. So universal, so general, so apparent, is its adaptation from nature, that we must seek for the laws which governed the earliest schools in the works of nature herself. Every age of the world might afford a theme for the principle on which their use of the polychromatic art was based, and the means employed for the object; but it is to the medieval ages to which our attention is to be more immediately directed.

While every age and country has possessed its own distinctive mode of building, characterised by a spirit embodied under widely differing and incompatible forms, the appliances of colour fall under one law; and the same combinations that impart elegance and harmony to the exquisite contours and open surfaces of classic art, are also capable of producing an equally pleasing effect when found in the shadowed projections and intricate shape of pointed architecture.

The attention which of late years has been directed to the study of our national monuments of the past, influenced in a great measure by the establishment of societies such as the British Archaeological Association, has removed the prejudices against the use of colour in restoration, inasmuch as it has established beyond doubt the fact of its use, and as discoveries were from time to time brought to light, the almost universal use of the polychromatic art.

The object of polychromy is to heighten the effect of architectural decorations, by causing a more just subordination of the various parts than can be obtained by mere chiaro-scuro. When the details of enrichment are minute or greatly removed from the eye, the use of strongly contrasting colours is necessary to mark the various details and subdivisions, which would otherwise be lost; or to connect more elaborate with plainer portions of the same work. It is often also used to attract the eye to the more important portions of a building; and the beautiful effect of the brilliant lines, gilded prominences, and rich surfaces harmoniously toned with diaper, is known to every admirer of medieval architecture.

It is probable that in the practice of classic antiquity the ornamented colouring of walls and ceilings, and perhaps in general even the detail of the arabesques, was left to the skill and fancy of the workman. The style of execution in such instances as remain to us, exhibits great facility of production, accompanied by characteristics that distinguish them in a marked manner from the work of an artist. Yet, in most cases, there exists a certain concordance of parts and unity of effect, that uneducated taste would not be able to attain. Perhaps, we should be correct in viewing the various specimens as diversified reproductions of a few types in fashion at the time, with which the workman would necessarily be familiar and capable of applying, without further assistance than the general direction of the superior artist.

In point of fact, decorative painting was naturally subject to the same influence of the same external cause that affected art generally; and in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries had evolved for itself a style essentially distinct, both from the classic and revived manner. In Italy, the style thus formed not only appears from the first to have had a looser hold, but was earlier abandoned for a style in imitation of the antique; all the productions of that country subsequent to the revival are conceived in a distinct spirit, and executed in a manner rapidly deviating from the practice of northern Europe; decorative painting in the hands of the Italian school gradually ceased to be polychromy, and assumed a form subject to all the laws of pictorial composition.

In Gothic polychromy, as in Gothic architecture, not-withstanding the fertility of detail that prevailed, there will be found during the epoch of any particular style, a vast number of instances, in which the ancient architects have imitated themselves; continual repetition of the same idea will frequently be observable in particular districts, or if differing at all, only in the degree that circumstances or individual taste may have modified the original standard. The skill of the designers was exhibited in the reproduction of certain set forms; and in suiting them to particular localities or requirements, rather than gratifying the thirst for novelties. Copies of a few ceilings, strings, shafts, and canopies, with their mouldings and enrichments, and a few examples of diaper, would form an alphabet of polychromy, which would supply all the knowledge of ancient colour an antiquary could require.

In churches of almost the earliest date, traces of colour may be found, generally applied in a very rude manner, and frequently consisting of nothing more than yellow wash and red or black bands; this observation holds true of almost all the decorative painting that is supposed to have been executed during the prevalence of the Saxon and Norman styles; where any pattern has been attempted, it may be immediately recognized by the resemblance it bears to the sculptured enrichments of the period. Per haps, the earliest account of the art is to be found chronicled by Gunton in his history of Peterborough. He says: "There was within these few years a door in the church (Peterborough) having the picture of abbot Hedda and the king of the Danes, as it were expostulating the business, and underneath were these four lines, written in ancient Saxon letters, as if they had been spoken by the abbot:
— "Fers mala, pejora timeas, cedasque rigori,
Nee teneare mora, ne teneare mori.
Hoc ne dabo domitus quod Barbarus advena quærit,
Da, necer immeritus, mors mihi munus erit."

In the north transept of Winchester cathedral there exists a singular relic of early painting; the arches of early Norman date have their massive masonry concealed beneath a coat of plaister, which retains indications of colour; and on the side of one of the arches that face eastwards are a series of radiating lines, drawn to represent the arch stones, in a blood-red colour, in each of which are intersecting bands, forming a kind of cross saltire, which bands are dotted with spots of a deeper red; the opposite side of the arch is ornamented with a different design, but of the same colour, and a scroll pattern is also existing running round parallel to the arch. A nearer approach to the manner of a later age is shown in the nave of Rochester cathedral, where the sculptured enrichments that fill the spandril spaces, between the double arches of the triforia, and the large single arch within which they are embraced, are picked out in different colours; in some of these cases the enrichments resemble the flattened tooth ornament with which the walls of Westminster abbey are covered. The whole of the Norman work in Rochester cathedral appears to have been covered with colour (the stones of the shafts and arches were painted alternately red, green, and yellow; the whole face of the stone being filled by the same colour), not distinguishing the mouldings. In the south transept, the date of which is early in the thirteenth century, a similar system has been adopted, where the stones and not the mouldings are distinguished, similar to the Lombardic churches of Italy, the stones of which are used of contrasting colour. The labels only are treated as distinct features; the tier of windows at the south end have each stone of the labels marked in a contrasting colour to those of the arches; thus, if an arch stone be green, that portion of the label in contact with it will be red or yellow, and vice versá.

During the former part of what is commonly called the early English period, that is, from 1189 to 1216, decorative painting made but little progress, and the extant specimens exhibit a similar mode to that formerly in use; colours were used in masses without distinction of detail. A screen of about this date, against the north and south walls of the Lady chapel at Winchester, has the centre columns of its tripled shafts painted alternately red and black, the columns on either side of the centre being painted in the contrasting colour; in this case the colour on the columns extends to the adjacent hollow, without any other relief than a double band of black encircling those columns that are red, at about every foot in height. When painting was only partially introduced, as was the case in simpler works, such as churches in rural districts, red was the favourite teint used in the capitals and bases of the columns, and often appearing as a margin to the internal window jaumb, if the jaumb was without mouldings, of the breadth of two or three inches, sometimes with a narrow black line running beside it on its outer edge.

Few traces of colouring of much greater interest will be found prior to the accession of Henry III. The paintings in churches of an early character were often executed at a later period, and this may generally be suspected when the decorations are of an elaborate kind, when no letters or costumes are represented to determine the precise date; such decorations as we have alluded to, with a few figures in the plaister, of the chancel walls, under the east window and on the chancel arch, painted in red or black outline, a few sentences, and a ruder cross or two, are all that the art of the former part of the thirteenth century appears to have been capable of producing.

In the reign of Henry III a great improvement in the art is apparent. In close connexion with historical and imaginative subjects, and forming with them part of the same design, we find a more developed mode of decorative colouring applied both to heighten the effect of sculptured forms, and in the shape of arabesques and diapers diversifying plain surfaces.

A free and bold style in arabesque prevailed from the time of Henry III until the close of the reign of Edward III. Bright and lively colours were applied in masses, the grounds covered with compositions of foliage and birds, animals, and human figures, sometimes in one teint, sometimes in varied colours. One of the most beautiful designs in use was a pattern of vine leaves, frequently drawn with remarkable freedom and elegance, in which the leaves, the tendrils, and the fruit, are represented in red and green teints, with various coloured birds nestling among the leaves; this is found repeated in groinings of this date; for example, in a piece of wall painting in St. William's chapel, in Rochester cathedral; and under the canopy of the monument of Aveline countess of Lancaster, in the choir of Westminster abbey. Various figures and devices are found incorporated with foliage in designs of this description, at some times free and in composition with the foliage, at other times displaying within coloured medallions the faces of men and angels, full-length figures, and emblems. The groined ceiling of Adam de Orlton's chantry in Winchester cathedral, exhibits on a straw-coloured ground, among green foliage with flowers, green and blue medallions, in which are painted the heads of angels surrounded by a nimbus; the groining ribs have their mouldings marked in various colours; and a running enrichment, in a chevron pattern, is painted in red and black on the centre moulding; the coloured mouldings of this date are often powdered with rosettes, or similar ornaments in red, black, or gold; and it was not unfrequent to cover with a sculptured diaper even those mouldings that were intended to be painted.

Even at this period, however, when the tout ensemble of Gothic edifices was, perhaps, more gorgeously magnificent than at any other time, the antiquary will perceive a want of that nicety that distinguishes the work of a succeeding age. To the fifteenth century may be ascribed the perfection of a system of polychromatic decoration, which, if wanting somewhat in the striking and original character of earlier work, exhibits art acting under the influence of settled laws, with greater certainty of effect, a vast improvement in technical skill, and more elaborate variety in the designs. The difference in the modes of painting that prevailed, during the decorated and perpendicular periods, shows itself particularly in the forms of the diapers, which at the later date are more set, with a frequent use of geometrical patterns, and greater minuteness in the colouring.

At no time does it appear to have been considered indispensable, that the whole, or any particular part of a build ing, should be coloured; in fact, the symbolism of colours, if ever acknowledged, had been forgotten, and the use of decoration in a building was regulated by no other law than the simple canons of taste, the caprice of the artist, or the munificence of a founder; a striking instance of this may be observed in Maidstone church, where the canopied sedilia on the south side of the chancel have never received any other painted decoration than the shields on front of each canopy, although the adjacent walls were covered with diaper, and the oak screen on the opposite side exhibited the most glowing teints. In late work the boarding is sometimes without ribs, painted in imitation of clouds; in the case of groined ceilings the ribs and bosses follow the same rule, but the spandriis are frequently diapered.

Wall surfaces were generally of a blue or red teint; blue when forming a ground for pictorial compositions, and more commonly red when unbroken; large surfaces of any colour were invariably diapered, and generally in a deeper shade of the same colour, but the diapering is sometimes omitted when figures are introduced. So attached were the middle age artists to the use of diaper, that even works in metal, especially effigies, are engraved all over in similar forms to those used on coloured surfaces. Nothing exhibits their abhorrence of unbroken teints more forcibly than the minute delicacy of their works in mosaic and enamel. All enriched work was painted in contrasting colours, the surfaces red or green. Upon the monuments on the north side of the choir of Westminster abbey, a sort of bistre colour is made use of, as a counterchange for red; in the pannels round the tomb, in the cornices, and in the series of quatrefoils for the display of arms on Valence and Crouchback's monuments. On lord Bourchiere's monument beneath the screen of St. Paul's chapel, green appears in corresponding situations, with blue introduced for relief in hollows, where the object sought was to give depth. Small column shafts or beads were often painted in a spiral curve, or barbers'-pole fashion, white and black, white and red, red and black, or red and blue; small fillets were often white; and all bosses, crockets, finials, and prominent edges, gilt; and the whole powdered over with star-like flowers or sprigs of gold, or black if on a red ground, and generally gold over all other colours. On king Sebert's monument, the faces of the pyramidal canopies are more plainly coloured, and the faces of the intervening pinnacles have their pilaster faces gilt, relieved by green in the pannels. The octagonal bases of shafts often had their alternate faces painted of different colours, and the various cap and base mouldings picked out and gilded.

Strings usually had their plain surfaces and hollows red or green, the bead often gilt, but the concave parts of cornices when enriched were often blue. The fine effect produced by the use of very few colours, may be judged by the screen in Edward the Confessor's chapel; the faces here have a red ground, the soffits blue, and over these universal teints the gilded lace work of the tracery must have shown to great advantage. The favourite arrangement seems to have been red, green, and gold; but when the series of mouldings requiring to be distinguished by alternate colours were deep, it was often customary to give greater variety by using different shades of the same colour, and which were often placed adjacent to each other; the same means was resorted to when the very limited number of positive colours, occasionally in the intricacy of Gothic tracery, brought the faces of two members having the same colour into contact with each other.

Diapers were of several kinds; that most commonly met with extends itself over large surfaces in a running pat tern, often executed in a deeper shade of the ground colour. There is a variety of this kind of diaper, that may perhaps with more propriety be termed arabesque; such is shown in the groined canopy over the tomb of Aveline countess of Lancaster; here we see an entwining pattern of vine leaves and fruit, the fruit and strigs red, and the leaves green; the ground shows a straw colour, perhaps originally gilded. A second form, perhaps better under stood by the word powdering, scatters over the ground a profusion of small sprigs or flowers, generally black or gold; the diaper of a wall sometimes consists of nothing more than the founder's initials, the monogram i.h.c. or like devices, in red, geometrically arranged upon an uncoloured ground, that is a ground which has no other colour than the prevailing teint of the building.

The plain faces of buttresses and pinnacles and small running bands are often ornamented with a pattern in two colours, sometimes simple and extending itself over the whole surface; or if that be very much prolonged, repeated throughout its length: the prevailing tint for this ornament is white and black or white with the prevailing ground; it seems to have been the aim of the Gothic artists to avoid as much as possible creating spaces of a single colour; for the smallest mouldings are generally powdered with red, black, or gold sprigs.

The use of diaper is to supply the place of middle teints, the introduction of which destroys the brilliancy and interferes with the keeping of polychromatic painting; a mass of colour of whatever weight or prominence may be enriched and at the same time toned, to almost any limit, by a judicious use of diaper.

In pictorial compositions, a wider range was allowed, and compound and neutral teints will frequently be met with.

* Fresco is the art of painting in size colour upon a fresh plaister ground; the name is derived from the Italians, who call it dipengere in fresco, in contra distinction to the dipengere in secco. (Merrimee.)

** In the south aisle of the choir at Westminster, the walls of the recess, known as king Sebert's monument, appear to have been painted in wax.

*** Illuminating manuscripts.
As far as can be ascertained, very similar menstrua were used to liquefy the pigments employed, both in the classic and middle ages; painting on plaister was practised at both periods, but it is exceedingly doubtful whether fresco* (properly so called) was used to any extent in Europe, prior to its recorded introduction in Italy.

Wax with the volatile oils, and resin, appear to have been the general media; and perhaps the paintings executed in wax, may so far be called encaustic, as that term applies to bringing out the wax by means of heat after the painting is done:** a very considerable portion of the remains of medieval colouring appears to have been executed with turpentine and resin, more particularly those that exhibit, after the lapse of ages, much of their ancient brilliancy, and adhere with tolerable tenacity to the surface painted on. Wax dissolved in gum water may also have been employed, as gum was much used for a similar purpose*** in the middle ages: ancient paintings executed with honey and wax possess a high degree of durability, and this method was much in favour among the Grecian artists, but its use in the middle ages is only conjectural.

In the fifteenth century however oil seems to have predominated. There are instances of the use of oil in the late part of the fourteenth century, and most of the monuments in the choir of Westminster Abbey are painted entirely in oil. In those cases however where it is possible to ascertain the original teints, they appear inferior in brilliancy and certainly in surface to the other work of the same date. Oil also was used for the pictorial decoration of St. Stephen's Chapel, Westminster, of which we read that Hugh de St. Albans and John Cotton were employed as principal painters on wages of one shilling per day (see Britton's Architectural Antiquities), and about this time came into general estimation among artists; although scarcely capa ble of the same fixity of teints as the older compositions, oil has been found to possess many qualities that render it superior in handling, combining more readily with the various pigments and flowing freely; the modes of preparing oil for colouring, however, appear to have been different to those now in use. Few ancient specimens will be found that have received more than a single coat of paint, whereas on the modern system the work must be painted over several times before an even surface or an equal intensity of teint can be produced; these repeated coats are destructive of all nicety and finish.

* No variation appears to have been made in this practice, even when oil was intended to be used. The oil paintings on what is termed king Sebert's monument in Westminster abbey, may be mentioned as executed on a thin coat of plaister, although both the assigned antiquity of these subjects, and the probability of their being the production of a native artist, may be doubted.

** Merimée gives various recipes of a more modern date for the preparing of grounds for wall painting; he appears to recommend saturating the cement that forms the ceruse with drying oil and wax (in preference to boiled oil).
When any extent of wall surface was proposed to be painted, it was usual to cover the stonework with a thin coat of plaister or whiting, for the purpose of concealing the joints, and affording a better ground;* the ground thus gained was, in works of importance, very carefully prepared with size of thin glue or of gum-arabic, dissolved in water, with the addition of a little dry white lead, or sheep-skin size, to prevent the too great absorption of colour.** For gilding, sizes similar to those now or lately in use were adopted and laid as a second coat over the previous one. The gilding of middle age works will generally be found to have been performed in a superior manner and to have stood well.

In appearance these paintings most nearly resemble flatted work varnished: the colours have in general more force than is usually attained by modern oil; glossy, yet free from glaze, and possessing considerable body. They are not absorbed by wood or stone; nor do they adhere very tenaciously; though easily separable from the ground, they are not liable to crack.

Distemper paintings are very common, and do not differ materially from the appearance of such work in the present day; in buildings of small importance, simple earths dissolved in water, were often the only colouring media applied, and continued to be used in our village churches, down to a very recent date.

I shall now allude to a very leading feature in the polychromatic art, viz., the use of coloured glass, which, after all, important as this art is considered, and justly considered, should be looked upon only as carrying out the polychromatic decoration of a building.

The mode of colouring glass, by fluxing with certain mineral substances, was known at an early period during the classic ages, and extensively applied in the manufacture of ornamental articles; but the comparatively small use that was made of glass for domestic purposes, and more especially the little necessity that existed in those countries for its introduction as a means of excluding weather, checked the progress of the art of glass-working. Even in habitations of a superior order glass windows were only introduced upon a limited scale, and then only in those apartments that were more particularly private: nothing, indeed, seems to have been aimed at, but to provide a mode of excluding any occasional inclemency of the seasons from apartments where the value of light itself was little considered. It is true that in some temples, and perhaps in buildings of a more public character, glass, or some substi tute for glass, seems to have been occasionally employed; but there is no evidence that these scanty apertures that were formed for the admission of light, were ever consi dered as in themselves important and telling features in the composition, nor was any attempt made to render the openings decorative in themselves.

In the earlier modifications of our national style, little improvement was attempted, though, even previous to the Norman sera, the glazing of church windows had been introduced on the Continent, and even copied in our own country; yet in the majority of our religious edifices, to a much later period, those openings that were necessary for light, equally admitted the stormy winds and beating rains of winter. To judge from the mode of building adopted by our ancestors, the climate of England must have been much milder than at present, or their hardy habits rendered them less sensitive to the fluctuations of the seasons.

The first evidence of improvement is found in the contracted apertures that distinguished the early English style, when the character of the edifice, or the limited means at the disposal of the founder, did not permit the introduction of the new and scarce luxury of glass. smallness of the deeply-recessed windows shows an attempt at the exclusion of the weather that soon ripened into the superior comfort of a later age.

How soon it was attempted to render what was in itself a mere matter of convenience, a mode of ornament, it is hard precisely to determine. Of early English glass we have many specimens, but the art of glass painting cannot be said to have reached its perfection until the decorated period, and even here it is questionable whether the palm of supremacy should be awarded to this or the succeeding style. The differences in treatment are obvious; the principles on which the artists of these different times proceeded, distinct; each possesses peculiar merits, and perhaps of both it may be said, that they harmonize best with the architecture of their respective periods.

Since the decline of the pointed style, the principles that ought to govern the use of painted glass have been greatly misunderstood. From the end of the fifteenth century, Europe seems to have been entranced by the miracles of Italian art; and so impressed were the designers of this period with the mania for glass-painting, that, forgetting the bar that the nature of their material opposed to success, they attempted to make their windows pictures. How clumsily they set about this, and with what unfortunate results, is marked upon every window of the date. In fact, it appears it was this attempt at pictorial effect which was the cause of the decline of the art of glass-painting, when the difficulties of execution which the material presented could not compete with oil as a medium for artistic skill. The glass painter has, indeed, little or nothing to study in common with the oil painter; the material, manipulation, and effect, required, are totally distinct; the parts most beautiful and effective on canvass, are faults and blotches in the more transparent material; and the details and minutiae so requisite in one, are a confused and indistinct jumble in the other.

As far as the effect of stained windows is concerned, their purpose would be equally answered by a judicious arrangement of pot glass; but it is quite possible for a painted window to be interesting in itself, without losing its proper relation to the architecture. There can be but one opinion on the attempt made, in the last century, to represent on glass pictorial subjects, conceived according to the rules of historical composition, and executed upon the same principles as an ordinary painting: indeed, many of the windows of that date might be copies of tolerably good oil pictures, to which, however, they are inferior. The character of stained glass is sacrificed to an aim that is unsuccessful. How hopeless such an aim is must be evident to every one that reflects upon the different cir cumstances that distinguish a painted window from a shadowed painting, — the light comes through a window, it falls upon a picture. From the transparency of the mate rial, no depth of shadow can of course be obtained, and the lights themselves are dimness: the effect of the whole is cold, sombre, and unreal.

Whether a painted window be adorned with figures and heraldries, or display only diapering and geometrical pat terns, it should be considered, as before observed, only as carrying out the polychromatic decorations of the building; and this leads to a remark which presses heavily upon modern practice. It is alike useless and incorrect to glaze windows with coloured glass, while the walls themselves are left in naked coldness. If the walls, mouldings, and sculptured enrichments, of a building are heightened by colour; if the dark oak of its wooden ceiling is contrasted by red, blue, and gold, on its moulded ribs; or the whole canopy above is resplendent with stars that shine forth from a depth of azure; if masses of red on the walls throw out the more lightly-touched enrichments of the sculptured forms, — then, and then only, it becomes proper to dye the light of heaven with somewhat of the glories it illumines, and to turn the cold, blank openings into storied portals —
"With painted stories richly dight,
Casting a dim religious light,"
through which the mind seems to catch a glimpse of that spirit of beauty which the art around him had almost created. A painted window is the last addition decorative art makes, — the climax by which genius sets its seal upon a perfect work.

Examples of painted glass may be seen in almost the earliest buildings in this country. The art then consisted in the arrangement and contrast of pieces of glass of bright colour; and, later in the century, is a very crude attempt at the representation of the human figure. The workmanship seems to be in imitation of mosaic work, to which its principles bear a great similarity. This kind of work was very inapplicable to the display of figures, as every diffeent colour required a separate piece of glass, and the lines of the lead-work, or arming, which held the glass, of course ramified all over the design.

A very great change in the art is exhibited in the works of the early part of the thirteenth century, and many remarkably beautiful specimens, of undoubted originality, exist. Although many examples may be cited of the mo saic description of work, yet the glass of this date wore a more free and lighter aspect; it may be also remarked in the frequent use of beautifully-designed borders, executed with the rich ruby and azure colours; the ground often consisted of a diapered pattern, in imitation of some natural climbing plant; figures, when used, were commonly placed within a border, or aureole, always within the marginal border,. — sometimes a series of these are placed one above the other the whole height of the window.

As the architecture at this period yielded to the various improvements and requirements of a more luxurious and tasteful age, so its attendant arts, required in the several species of decoration to modify their application to be suitable to, and adorn the newly suggested architectural features.

To the fourteenth and earlier part of the fifteenth century, may be ascribed the glory and perfection of glass painting, as well as the other branches of mediaeval art. When every individual feature was toned to a due subordination, giving to the whole grandeur and magnificence, and so far from the glories of one art competing or subtracting from the interest of another, architecture, painting, and sculpture, harmoniously combined, to form one glorious whole.

The design now becomes much altered, and whereas that of the last century harmonized with the delicate workmanship of the early English style, this, more boldly developed, is far more appropriate to the expanded and richer efforts of the succeeding century; the very minute borders and diapered patterns cease to be the distinguishing feature, glass of deep and rich colour is used in masses, and we find figures enclosed with a representation of a canopy; the borders and back grounds are, however, by no means given up, but are often most beautifully and effectively introduced in contrast to the deeper and brighter colours.

From the latter part of the fourteenth, to nearly the end of the fifteenth century, the peculiarities consist in the adoption of larger figures, with very elaborate canopies, often forming the whole ground-work of the window; aerial perspective is also attempted. In the latter part of this century, we have all these effects more strikingly prominent. Scrolls are also very common, generally having reference to the design, or commemoration of the founder; but the great fault of glass of this date was in the attempted competition with oil paintings, and the endeavour to make a material do that of which it is not capable; this aim at pictorial effect also soon destroyed the subordination and harmony with the other features of the building: and it seemed seeking to attract entire attention; in fact, to such an extent was this carried, that the architecture was made subservient to the glass, and it is not, I believe, a solitary instance of a mullion being cut away, for the more effective display of the glass picture. It is, however, very common to see one subject carried through a whole window, despite of mullions and tracery. The half tint, again, introduced into the drapery of figures to aid this pictorial aim, detracts much from brilliancy, and does away with the unique properties and peculiarities of painted glass, namely, brightness and transparency.

Horace Walpole has preserved, from Mr. Vertue's MSS., a curious deed, which hands down to us the names of the artists who executed the windows in the magnificent chapel of King's College, Cambridge. It runs thus: "Indenture, May 3rd, 18 Henry 8th, between the provost Robert Hacomblein and Thomas Locke, surveyor of the works on one part, and Francis Williamson of Southwark, glazier, and Simon Symonds of St. Margaret's, Westminster, glazier; the two latter agreeing curiously and sufficiently to glaze the windows of the upper story of the church of King's College, Cambridge, of orient colours and imagery of the story of the old law and of the new law, after the manner of goodness in every point of the King's new Chapel at Westminster, also according to the manner done by Bernard Flower, glazier, deceased; also according to such patterns, otherwise called ' vidimus'; to be set up within two years next ensuing, to be paid after the rate of 16d. per foot for the glass."

Many elaborate specimens, executed in the sixteenth century, exist, all however more or less tainted with the above-mentioned defects; but while admiring the careful and accurate drawing and the artistic beauty of the design as an individual work of art, such excellences cannot counterbalance the want of harmony with the features of the structure the design is to embellish; and the feeling of the decline of the spirit of medieval art is in no case so painfully apparent as in the contemplation of the works of the Tudor age, compared with those of the preceding centuries.

The general features of this era of glass painting, differ little in their general composition, from the style immedi ately before it; but all its defects are exaggerated; oftentimes the polychromatic spirit in the decoration is entirely lost sight of, and in lieu of the harmony of unnumbered dyes, chequering, mingling with, and toning each other, a dim and cloudy neutral tint is substituted.

I do not wish to attempt to undervalue these works, excellent as all must allow them to be in point of design, artistical feeling, and technical skill; but that they are totally misapplied as subjects for windows, when lights and shadows are constantly influenced by the transparency of the material, and when from the height of the subject from the eye, the elaborate and minute manipulation cannot be appreciated; also doing away with the intention of the art of glass-painting, which undoubtedly arose from the necessity of producing a rich effect from what would otherwise be blank, individual, and unconnected features. Im mediately following this period (the era of the Reformation), the bigoted zeal of the Puritans prevented the advance of the art, and demolished the greater part of existing subjects. In deploring the work of these spoilers in the beautiful church of Peterborough, an old writer observes: " Having destroyed all the tombs, altars, and pavements, they now have leisure to look at the windows above them, which would have entertained any persons else, with great THE POLYCHBOMY OF THE MIDDLE AGES. 51 delight and satisfaction, but only such zealots as these whose eyes were so dazzled, that they thought they saw Popery in every picture and piece of painted glass.'" One of the arguments used by the Puritans for breaking the painted glass was, because by darkening the church it obscured the new light of the Gospel.

Here, then, was the practice of glass-painting for a while exterminated: some few specimens were, however, produced soon after the reformation, but from the disuse of the architecture with which the art was so intimately associated, and from the imitation of the Italian school, at that time becoming so much the fashion, the works were of little note, and when used, frequently foreign in design.

Except where occasionally we admire the work of some Dutch or German artist, a void in the art exists, until the spirit which has lately arisen from the restoration of many of our religious edifices, and the accompanying decorative arts, have animated the energy of the wealthy, the soul and talents of the artist: and while we see and admire these restored works, it is most devoutly to be hoped that the spirit which created medieval taste may animate its admirers, and that from the ashes of restoration may arise a phoenix, — the monument and illustration of the taste and genius of the nineteenth century.

Sir Joshua Reynolds has remarked, that "invention is one of the marks of genius; but if we consult experience, we shall find that it is by being conversant with the in ventions of others we learn to invent, as by reading the thoughts of others we learn to think." Hence the real practical value of the study of antiquity. The above remark may well be applied to the labours of the Archæological Association, whose object is to become conversant with the works of others, hereafter probably to work important ends in the history of our age.

In these days, we have the power of producing the finest subjects this art is capable of. From the ability of the artists employed, — the practical works on the subject serving as so much experience, — in the mechanical means, in the knowledge of chemical combination and burning in of colour, we have infinite advantages over the craftsmen of the middle ages; and however much may be said of the lost secrets of the art, we have certainly little to envy the ancients in their method of proceeding.

But instead of employing these various talents to advantage, what is it that we shall leave to posterity to perpetuate and immortalize our proficiency in art? Skill, science, refinement, not one attribute is wanting to greatness or originality, but the adaptive principle is wanting: that principle which identifies a nation with its deeds, art, at any era with its productions. We know not our own power; like the first restorers of literature, we spend our strength in imitations, — so true, so beautiful, so comprehensive of the spirit of the original, as make us grieve for the days and men, whose attainments were wasted for so trivial an end. It is but to believe that we can impart to our creations the impress of ourselves, and it is done. We need no new inventions; no mind can create a style in art, he may acquire a manner; but style is the invisible and unconscious work of an age and people; a thousand circumstances go to determine the character and develo ment of art at any particular period; it cannot be separated from the people themselves, the whole turn of their mind, their habits of thinking, their religious impressions, their domestic occupations, their public character and political station, all are reflected in it, and it is this that makes art a more valuable, more trustworthy record than aught else besides. It matters not what it operates upon. Stone or glass, marble or canvas, Grecian, Gothic, Indian, or Elizabethan, — from any or all of these, national art is capable of rearing itself a monument that shall tell its tale to eternity.

In the present day, however, a decided privation seems to mark our people; conscious of our own want of popular individuality, we endeavour to borrow from other times a lustre that may gild our era, though it be only with a reflected light. On every hand edifices arise, not inferior in cost and labour to the most magnificent edifices of the past; a feverish anxiety characterises every department of industry, and our own age, when it shall come to be recorded in the annals of the world, will be remembered as one when the people were more wealthy and busy, the channels of successful enterprise more broad and widely ramified, and the whole race of mankind hurrying each other forward in a race, whose goal none knew, and of whose track no vestige is imprinted on the face of time.

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