“PEASANT” JEWELLERY—BARBARIC JEWELLERY—MYCENAEAN PERIOD—ETRUSCAN PERIOD—GREEK WORK-ROMAN OSTENTATION — ROMAN EXTRAVAGANCE — ROMAN WORK—ALEXANDRIAN WORK—THE TREASURE OF HILDESHEIM—THE TREASURE OF BERNAY—THE TREASURE OF BOSCOREALE—THE TREASURE OF PETROSSA—BYZANTINE ART—THE PALA D’ORO—THE ALTAR OF SANT’ AMBROGIO —THE PALIOTTO AT PALERMO—CELTIC ART—ANGLO-SAXON ART—THE ALFRED JEWEL—THE RING OF ETHELWULF—IRISH METAL WORK—IRISH CUMDACHS—THE ARDAGH CHALICE—IRISH BROOCHES—THE DOMNACH SHRINE—THE TARA BROOCH—NORMAN INFLUENCE IN ART—GOTHIC ART—EARLY ENGLISH PERIOD—GERMAN SILVER WORK—THE ENGLISH RENAISSANCE
IT is very much the fashion in these days to collect the beautiful things our predecessors have made; and,rather fortunately, there is also a tendency for such collections eventually to gravitate either by gift, bequest or purchase, to public museums where all can benefit by them. Coming thus under the care and supervision of the experts who act as curators and guardians, the objects are carefully arranged, sometimes chronologically, and sometimes by countries of origin.
Thus with gold and silver work, in which we are now interested, we can see at a glance the order of production in a period of time covering perhaps two or three centuries of German work, while close at hand and easy of comparison may be seen a group of English work similarly arranged. Nothing could give the student a clearer conception of the history of the varying methods of It will be readily seen that to beat up such a shape out of flat sneet metal puts a great strain upon it, and is a severe test of ductility and malleability.
The higher the shape the more severe the test; and none but an artist will to-day spend time and trouble in having a cup thus beaten up in the old-fashioned way, whilst the manufacturer simply rolls a piece of sheet metal into a cylinder, solders it down the sides, and puts in a bottom separately.
Among the golden treasures found at Mycenae was one especially beautiful gold cup, now in the British Museum. It is of beaten gold and without ornament. The hammer marks are still plainly visible on the inside of the cup, the blows laid carefully side by side, as though they had been made yesterday. These marks do not show on the outside, from which we may infer that the cup, when made, was polished, and the marks obliterated.
The most curious feature in this cup is that it is hollow from the. base on which it stands upwards; it is therefore probable that the goldsmith copied it from a pottery shape. If he had thought more of the goldsmithing and less of the pottery, he would have soldered a foot on, making the top part only a receptacle for wine or whatever else it was to hold.
As it is, the hollow foot could not well be cleaned, and the smith must have had much trouble to work it into such a form. The handle is nearly flat; it is solid, and has three sunk lines running down the centre of the outer surface. On each outer edge of the handle is a beaded pattern. It is of the ” cup-handle” shape.
This ancient piece of gold work is possibly of more value to the archaeologist than the artist, but it is interesting as a specimen of hammer work, beaten, it should be remembered, at a time when the smith had no nicely rolled sheets of even thickness ready to hand, but gold in ingots or in the lump only. Besides this, however, when ideas were forming themselves and slowly taking shape, the modern artist will often find among ancient works unusual types and thoughtful forms that are instructive, because, as a rule, purely evolutiotionary.
Another cup in the British Museum, of the Mycenaean age, from Cyprus, is of a form not uncommon to work of this time. It is of thick silver, spreading outwards towards its top, and does not appear to have been beaten or ” raised.” If not, then it must either have been cast whole, or made round out of thick sheet metal and soldered, the bottom being added and soldered also.
There is a dignity about this piece which is quiet and unostentatious, its only enrichment being lines in groups of three, at the top, middle, and bottom of the outside of the cup. The handle is of a simple and original shape, having not even a remote suggestion of the shape of handles of to-day.
It also is devoid of enrichment except in the simple graved line near the outer edge. An Etruscan gold cup of fine workmanship of the fifth century B.C. is one of the gems of the Victoria and Albert Museum (Fig. i). It is in wonderful preservation, and the ornament, though of extreme delicacy, is as perfect as though it left the workman’s hands yesterday. It has a round bottom and no foot, the top part forming a wide mouth, the curve of the sides of which is nearly in a line with that of the bottom.
The outside of the body is divided into spaces by vertical flutings, the spaces being filled in with that wonderful granular work for which this period and district were so noted.