Mechanical an Useful arts. Ancient and Modern Enamel.

The Year-Book of Facts in Science and Art
Exhibiting the Most Important discoveries and Improvements of the past year,
in mechanics and the useful arts; natural philosophy; electricity; chemistry; zoology and biology; geology and geography; meteorology and astronomy.
By John Timbs,
editor of "the Arcana of Science and Art."
David Bogue, Fleet Street,
Mr. Digby Wyatt has read to the Society of Arts, a paper "On the Art of Enamel, Ancient and Modern." After a description of the composition of pure Enamel and of the nature of the pigments usually employed to colour it, Mr. Wyatt proceeded to enumerate the six leading varieties which had been adopted at various periods in the history of the art to unite the vitreous paste with its metallic base, endeavouring as far as possible to describe each genus in the language of some contemporary authority. The first, or Byzantine process — which obtained throughout the Eastern Empire from probably the time of Justinian down to about the year 1300 — was illustrated from the particulars furnished by Theophilus, the celebrated artist-monk of the eleventh or twelfth century; and its chief peculiarity appeared to have been the formation of casements, or cavities, for the reception of the enamel by means of the gold filigree. The second, or early Limoges style — which was so much practised in that city from probably the eleventh century until the frightful siege and massacre by the Black Prince — was described from a comparison of the notices of Mr. Albert Way with those of MM. Petit, Dussieux, Pottier, and the Abbi Texier; and would seem to have substituted for the filigree compartments of the Byzantine mode excisions formed in the thick copperplate by the graver. The third, or early Italian mode — practised for probably some fifty years before the days of Ugolino Veri, the artist who executed the celebrated shrine in Orvieto Cathedral, in the year 1338, and carried by subsequent goldsmiths and enamellers down to the end of the sixteenth century — was detailed from descriptions given by Vasari and Benevenuto Cellini about the middle of that century. It appears to have held a midway position between the ancient "champ levé" or incised, and the painted enamels afterwards produced; consisting in engraving silver after the manner of medallic relief, and then floating over it with variously coloured transparent pastes. Benevenuto was said to have, if not invented, at least been the first to describe the improvement that took place about the beginning of the sixteenth century in the art, which constituted what Mr. Wyatt called jewellers' enamel. It consisted in using as a vehicle with the glass-powder employed to cover small gold or silver objects in the round "or in the highest relief," water in which pips of pears had been steeped. This held the paste in its place until vitrification took place, and was yet so delicate a cement as in no degree to interfere with the perfect purity of the enamel. The fifth, or "late Limoges" variety was described as having sprung at once, fully armed from the brain of that Jupiter of enamellers, Leonard Limousin, under the auspices of Francis the First; and differed from its predecessors chiefly in entirely covering the surface of the metal with an opaque paste, and then painting on that with transparent colours, regaining the effect of a translucent ground by applying silver leaf in particular situations, fastening it with a glass of colourless enamel, and then tinting over it. These peculiarities, as well as the "peinture grialtre" and touching with gold, were illus-trated from the manuscripts published by M. Maurice Ardent, of Limoges. This style appears to have dwindled into nonentity under the hands of the Nonailhers, a family who lived (they can scarcely be said to have flourished) during the latter part of the seventeenth century.

In connexion with the detail of the sixth and last process, the miniature style, honourable allusion was made to the labours of Sir Theodore de Meyerne and his connexion with Petitot, the principal and best known of this school of art. The improvements effected in this style would seem to have been a great enrichment of the palette by the addition of new pigments, the power of multiplying the number of firings, and graduating the succession of tints, their hardness and fusibility by the addition of fluxes, &c. Unhappily, the mystery which many selfish artists have thrown over their modes of procedure renders them exceedingly difficult to analyze or describe. Mr. Wyatt then gave a rapid sketch of the history of the art, and concluded by expressing an earnest hope that we may ere long adopt and fully carry out the whole practice of the Middle Ages.

Ei kommentteja :