Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[graphic]

Je 799

1

artist as well as an erudite scholar, worked onward, tiding down the stream of progress, until, fascinated by sensual beauty, by the Syrens of the Renaissance, he lost compass and helm, going down with Art, Chivalry, and Taste, all being wrecked alike, on the shores of the Pagan dead.

In this simple phase of bibliographic art, the student and antiquary may learn much; and our examples, though few, perhaps prove enough to show the attributes of the periods, and the general wish in the present day to build upon true principles.

Of our specimens the earliest is a copy in fac-simile, recovered from an old vellum cover (book unknown), cast away by its possessor in rebinding, as an extraneous affair, that had nothing to do with him or his volume. The owner showed an utter disregard of association-that faculty by which so much of the past is rendered valuable to the future, that makes small things part of a great and instructive whole; like monuments in an old cathedral, telling of good and bad taste and times, that have as much right to their place and page in the world's history as any. "Preserve and protect" should be the book-owner's text; preservation being better than restoration. Beware of the architect that would level tombs and banish monuments to the limbo of a chapter or a charnel house, because they happen not to be of the purest forms. Depend upon it, he is no friend to art or history who disregards the past. Objects once placed in situ, ought to be conserved with pious care as things in ward for the future.

Our example, bearing the inscription "CAROLVS AGRICOLA HAMMONIVSIVRIS VTRIVSQVE DOCTOR," is a good specimen of an old book-plate, rich in design and imagery apart from the heraldry. It is copied from a relief block, a wood cut, rudely executed, probably upon the side of the grain of the wood, with a knife— a method by which doubtless the drawing has suffered, though the design could not suffer. Had it been engraved upon the end of the wood, as practised now, the forms probably would have been purer. The work bears the initials of the artist, J. B., and a date 15. The original is coloured by hand, and exceedingly rich with its mantling of red, black, and white, types of life, death, and immortality; and the whole in combination is very poetical. Of the shield, the dexter chief is occupied by a sower, typical of the fruitfulness of nature; and the sinister base by a like figure bearing emblems of faith, hope, and wisdom. The sinister chief and dexter

base are filled by lancets or, on a ground gules. The crest, occupying a large portion of the design, very suggestively rises (instead of from a wreath) out of a crown of thorns, typical of our Saviour's sufferings. The crest is an angel of faith, bearing in the right hand a golden cross, and in the left the serpent of wisdom; holding in its mouth an empty poppy head, emblems of trust and devotion, the soothing influences of medicine and religion-the faith in this world

[subsumed][merged small][graphic][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]

and the next. The corners are filled by subiects representing the seasons, and the whole is worthy of a learned mediæval doctor, who gloried in his profession, and, doubtless, like all his craft in the middle ages, a great believer in phlebotomy. The favourite old method of rendering surnames in Latin causes much confusion in the identification of names: Carolus Agricola Hammon (both jurisconsult and doctor) was probably a German, and the artist, J. B., of the same nation.

As a contrast to this glorious old block, of the early renaissance, I append some sins from the decadence, that perhaps descended to its most degrading depth in our own century, when heralds produced the strangest combinations-placing colour upon colour, and metal

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »