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pect to the south and east, and never to the north; the woods around them should be dense and wide, and there should be water in abundance; for three things are necessary to hermits, without which their hermitages cannot endure; and these are, sun, wood, and water. It is always of great avail when the site is redolent of devotion, and when it is among faithful and devout people *."
The abbey of the canons regular of Fiesole, built for Cosmo de Medici by Filippo Brunelleschi, is praised by Vasari for the reason that "the building is cheerful, commodious, and truly magnificent." Dom Germain, after describing the marble cloisters of the Carthusians at Naples, says that "the beauty of the whole place inspires the Neapolitans with a wish to become monks;" and speaking of Mount Cassino, and its dormitories one over the other, but no sound reaching between them in consequence of all the rooms being vaulted, he says that "the congregation of Mount Cassino can boast of giving rules for building wisely, solidly, and agreeably +." Vasari also speaks in raptures of the convent of the Fratigesuati at Florence. He describes in minute detail its noble church, its commodious arcade, with a fountain in the centre, communicating by a spacious avenue with a larger and still more beautiful cloister, opening through the principal path into the garden, forming a view more delightful than words could easily describe; the interior of the whole convent being filled with paintings by Pietro Perugino and Domenico Ghirlandajo. If any who affect antiquities more than is requisite, and who love
The sun-excluding window gives the room,"
be disposed to accuse such architects of choosing a Pagan taste, they ought to be reminded that their own favourite sentence about a dim religious light applies much more to what was inherent in the heathen mysteries, that dark religion within dark groves, or small temples with only one aperture, than to any thing really associated with truth, which teaches man to wed himself to light from infancy, and with that pure religion which ever invokes light, as if in the poet's words, addressed to its great symbol,
"All hail, pure lamp! bright, sacred, and excelling;
Thou world's great taper, wicked man's just terror,
God's eldest daughter; O, how thou art full
Who is it that shall tax the architects of such monasteries with
* Constitut. Er. Camald. pars ii. c. 11. Correspondence de Mab. &c. i. 169.
were as sensible as any men could be of what really constituted the blindness of the heathen? Michel Agnolo, says Vasari, " delighted in the reading of Scripture, like a good Christian as he was, and greatly honoured the writings of Fra Girolamo Savonarola, whom he had heard in the pulpit." He did not the less make his buildings cheerful, and suitable for men who might be heard saying with their last breath, " Open the shutters, and let in more light :" let us behold the sky.
The monasteries were often built upon the plan of the Carita at Venice, in which Palladio planned a building representing a private residence of one of the rich and hospitable ancients. "One ought," says Goethe, "to pass whole years in the contemplation of such a work." No doubt, circumstances of time and place may have stamped a very different character upon some monasteries. When anxiously expecting to arrive at the hospitable fireside of the hospice of St. Bernard, and at length a solemn massive pile is faintly discerned rising out of the misty cloud that envelops the mountain, we are not surprised at its rough-hewn, graceless form, since the style of the edifice was determined by the locality, which admitted of no exterior decoration; but certainly, had we found a similar edifice on the Wye or the Loire, no one would ever have taken it for the habitation of monks. The truth is, they were not "men of one idea" even in architecture. They accommodated their buildings to the times they lived in. They did not bear a grudge to all art, to all beauty, to all wisdom, that did not spring from their own minds. They never fondly imagined that there was but one fine thing in the world, namely, Gothic architecture. That was a fine thing, but there are other things besides; and when a different taste arose, they did not see any good in scouting, proscribing, and loathing all that other men delighted in. Neither Einsiedeln, nor St. Urban's, nor Hauterive, nor Corby, were in the Gothic style, and yet no edifices could surpass them in solemn and beautiful effect. In the eighteenth century the monastic dwelling in general was a building as joyous as it was vast and beautiful. Calci on the mountains of Pisa seems to rival a palace of the Arabian Nights. The refectory in the abbey of St. Germain was 115 feet long, 32 wide, and 47 high, and on eight immense windows were emblazoned the arms of Castille.
The buildings of monks are found, not alone amidst the woods and mountains, and the enclosures especially appropriated to them in cities, of which so many might have borne the name of Plasencia, from being noted, like that of the Vera in Spain, for their pleasantness to saints and men, but also in the common thoroughfares and streets, where their hostels or town-houses formerly stood. We have only to open the work of Stowe to witness instances. There," he says, "in Southwark, be the abbot of Battaile, his house. The abbot of Hyde, his house.
The prior of Lewes, his house. The abbot of St. Augustine, his house. On the east side of St. Peter's-lane standeth a large house, of ancient building, sometime belonging to the abbot of St. Mary in York, and was his abiding house when he came to London. In Castle-lane also is one great messuage, of old time belonging to the priory of Okeborne in Wiltshire, and was the prior's lodging when he repaired to London, this priory being of the French order. Within the inn of the Tabard was also the lodging of the abbot of Hide (by the city of Winchester), a fair house for him and his train, when he came to that city to parliament. There was also a great house of stone and timber, belonging to the abbot of St. Augustine without the walls of Canterburie, which was an ancient piece of work, and seemeth to be one of the first built houses on that side the river over-against the city; it was called the abbot's inn of St. Augustine in Southwarke." "In Bosse-lane," he says again, "is the great house that once belonged to the abbots of Chertsey in Surrey, and was their inn when they repaired to the city." But, to return to the monastery itself. In many religious houses were apartments set apart for the king, or for the founder, or for some great and devout personage, who enjoyed the privilege of a room in which he could make an occasional retreat. Thus, in a document in the archives of Monte Cassino, the Emperor St. Henry says, "All our predecessors, Charles, Pepin, Charles, Louis, Lothaire, Lewis, Otho, and others, had their especial camera in this abbey" At Pontigny it was, at the entrance of the abbey, that Thibaud, count of Champagne, built a palace for himself, in order that he might frequently assist at the office of the monks t. Gardens, parks, and beautiful cloistered walks were generally added. The garden of the Franciscans at Oxford was called the Paradise.
But if the buildings and adjacent grounds alone prove thus attractive, what shall we say of the treasures of art and erudition so often contained within them? Some reformers, it is true, required that monasteries should offer nothing to the sight but what was poor, cheap and common ; but it would seem as if they only made an exaggerated use of truths which were not the less acted upon when the interests of art and learning were not neglected. "It appears to me,” says Vasari, about to write the life of the painter Dom Lorenzo, monk of the Angels of Florence, "that permission to pursue some honourable occupation must needs prove a great solace to a good and upright man who has taken monastic vows. Music, letters, painting, or any other liberal or even mechanical art, must, in my opinion, be a valuable resource to him; for after
* Dom Gattula, Hist. Abb. Cassinensis, 370.
+ Chaillon des Barres, l'Abbaye de Pontigny.
Vita B. Lanfr. c. 11. ap. Mabil. Acta SS. Ord. S. Ben. t. ix. 36.
having performed all his religious duties, the monk so gifted passes his time creditably, as well as happily, in quiet contemplation, secure from the molestation of those ambitious desires by which the idle and unoccupied are constantly beset, to their frequent shame and sorrow." At all events, even in the oldest monasteries, we find proof of encouragement being given to the arts of painting and sculpture, and that too from the highest authority, as when Pope Paschal I. placed the portraits of many saints in the dormitories of the convent of St. Agnes *.
At Fontanelle, Luxeuil, and St. Germain de Flaix, the dormitories were filled with noble pictures, as were also the refectories, and the whole of the churches †. The statement that in the dormitories of Monte Cassino, in ancient times," nihil fuit pictum aut variatum," leaves us to conclude that the rest of the monastery contained pictures. In 1266, we read of Hermann, the son of Frederick, count of Kirchberg, giving to the monastery of Reinhardsborn "the picture in which the history of St. Benedict is so ingeniously represented." In the abbey of Porta, one saw the picture of the founder, Count Bruno, of the ancient dynasty of Plisna and Smolna, under which was written,
"Sic est Brunonis facies; sic pictus in armis
In the Benedictine monastery of Bosan, at Ciza, were many curious antique pictures ||, though the interest was excited less by the artistic effect than by the inscriptions accompanying them, and by the ingenuity of the form of instruction. Over one cell was inscribed, "Quinque sunt opera cellæ præcipua. I. Jussis intendere. II. Utiliter legere. III. Meditationi insistere. IV. Frequenter orare. V. Decenter quiescere." On another, a painter represented a ladder to heaven, with precepts of salvation for steps, and a monk praying at the foot of it. Near it was another ladder leading downwards. From the tomb of a monk, a tree with seven branches rose up, over which was written, "Opera eorum sequuntur illos ¶." The branches were inscribed, "Obedientia, castitas, patientia, humilitas, paupertas, caritas, pax." On another cell, the enemy of man was represented, invested with symbols of his qualities, which were designated as pride, luxury, avarice, sloth, anger, envy, calumny; and under him was written," Ecce draco magnus **!" In the Capuchin's cloister at Sursee may be seen painted the whole
* Mab. Ann. Ord. S. Ben. t. ii. 443.
Vita S. Anseg. ap. D'Achery, Spicileg. ii.
§ Chronic. Portensis.
life of St. Francis; in the picture which represents his dream, the black armour with yellow crosses on it produces a spectral effect, suspended as it is round the chamber, in which he is seen sleeping, under one of those tall canopies which give such a solemn aspect to beds of the antique fashion. The library of the monastery of St. George, in Venice, was covered, as Dom Germain said, with paintings almost in miniature. Over every class there were figures of the principal authors belonging to it. The pictures in the refectory of Cluny represented the founders and benefactors of the monastery*. In general, portraits of eminent persons, historical scenes, and noble compositions, representing scriptural events or religious mysteries, were the works chiefly found in monasteries. The portraits are often highly curious, as being authentic. When Fra Giovanni da Fiesole was painting, in the convent of St. Mark, medallions of all the popes, cardinals, bishops, and saints who had been Dominicans, the brethren of his order assisted him by procuring likenesses of these various personages from different convents, by which means he was enabled to execute portraits that have now such an historical value. The convent of the Carmelites of Paris contained likenesses of many of the most illustrious women of the seventeenth century. There you saw those faces, the loveliness of which history has found it necessary to describe, in order to explain tragical events. The picture by Titian, representing Charles V. and the empress, clothed in linen garments, kneeling in prayer, with folded hands, before the majesty of Heaven, was painted by order of the emperor, who said he intended taking it with him to the monastery of St. Yuste, where he intended to retire, and it remained there till it was removed to the Escurial.
Art requires patronage, but still more sympathy. In convents, even of the professed poor, painters found the latter, and accordingly the mendicant orders had pictures that cities would be proud to possess. The Capuchin convent at Seville was full of paintings by Murillo. The poor friars, who had nothing to give for pictures, had a collection fit for an emperor. Murillo, who was fond of the Capuchins, used to go to them and spend a few days with them, in spiritual retreat, which often led to his giving them a picture. Artists were often induced and inspired to achieve noble works, through a certain pleasure in labouring for particular monasteries. The Carthusians, near Florence, wishing to have some pictures in the angles of a large and beautiful cloister surrounding a fine meadow, Jocopo da Puntormo was delighted to undertake them. "The manner of life here presented to him," says his biographer, “that tran
• Em. David, 117.