Fitzwilliam Museum. McClean Bequest.

Catalogue of the mediaeval ivories, enamels, jewellery, gems and miscellaneous objects bequeathed to the museum by Frank McClean online

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into the earlier Middle Ages (see p. 42) ; even if it had, the sight of
a stray surviving example might have suggested to later enamellers
a more economical method, though it is perhaps more natural to
suppose that they experimented for themselves, and arrived at the
results already known to the Romans by an independent process
of discovery. In the curious reliquary in the treasury of Conques,
made for Pepin of Aquitaine, and dating from the first half of the
ninth century, the wings of the eagles upon the roof are in cell-
work, while the plaques upon the sides are champleve in gold^ a
very exceptional base'. The portable altar of the eleventh century
in the same treasure, with cloisonne enamels in copper, appears to
be an experimental work-; other very curious early enamels are
in existence made with copper cells and on a copper base, the
goldsmiths evidently aiming at economy, as had been done in very
rare cases by Byzantine enamellers'. The British Museum has

the South Kensington Museum, 1886). An electrotype reproduction of the chalice is in
the Victoria and Albert Museum. Rohault de Fleury, La Messe, Vol. iv, pi. 299.

^ C. de Linas, Gazette arch^ologiijue, 1887 ; Rupin, Lativre de Limoges, pi. ii ; see
also Darcel, Le trhor de Peglise de Conques, 1861 ; E. Molinier, V exposition retrospective
de 1900, p. 61 f., and Orfevrerie (pi. iii &c.). The reliquary of Pepin has points in
common with the eagle-shaped brooch in the Museum of Mainz, and another of a similar
kind at Speyer (F. Bock, Byzantinische Zellenschmelze, pi. xxix and pp. 384 — 387;
Molinier, Orfevrerie, p. 87). The gospel cover from Lindau has also both cloisonne and
champleve enamels {Vetiista JMoniimenta, 1885, pi. i).

^ Didron, Annates arch^ologiques, xvi, 1856, p. 77 ; Darcel, Trhor de l\'gh'se de
Conques, 1861 ; Molinier, Exposition rt'trospective, 1900, p. 84; H. Havard, Hist, de
forfivrerie fran^aise, pi. ix ; Rohault de Fleury, La Messc, \, pi. .^44.

^ Two Byzantine medallions in copper are in the British Museum {Proc. Soc. Ant. of
London, xxi, p. 195), but the best-known example is the large platjue representing
St Theodore, formerly in the Basilewsky Collection and now in the Hermitage, St
Petersburg (A. Darcel, La Collection Basilc-wsky, pi. xiv ; Labarte, LList. des arts
industriels. Album, Vol. II, pi. 105). Among early western cloisonne enamels on copper
are a medallion representing Our Lord in the Welfenschatz at \ienna (\V. A. Neumann,


two remarkable plaques of the twelfth century with cell-work on
copper^ plaques, the scale being too large to allow the use of gold.
But when once the cheaper metal had been tried, it would not
require a great effort of the imagination to see that the dividing
cells might as well be cut from the solid metal, instead of being
soldered to the surface in strips. There are several transitional
enamels of the eleventh and twelfth centuries which exemplify such
experiments : the work has the general appearance of a cell
enamel, with numerous very fine cloisons dividing the colours ;
but a close inspection reveals the fact that the divisions are not
really applied strips, but partitions reserved in the metal base :
they only simulate cells, but are really produced by a champleve
process-. In yet other early enamels, the greater part of the work
will be champleve, while minor ornamental details, such as rosettes
in borders, will still be produced by applied cells: this is a fairly
frequent feature in the twelfth-century enamels made on the Rhine
and the Meuse. But in the first half of the twelfth century
cloisonne enamel was generally abandoned, and the champleve
style which had been steadily growing in popularity took its place
throughout Western Europe,

The champleve enamels made at Limoges and in the valleys
of the Rhine and Meuse from the eleventh to the fourteenth
centuries form the bulk of the mediaeval enamels to be seen in
great Museums ; and the McClean Bequest has several good
examples of the French style (nos. 47 ff). The priority of the
French and Northern champleve has always been a matter of
dispute. The partisans of the North recall the ancient artistic
supremacy of the Rhine and Meuse. They point to the fact that
in the time of Archbishop Egbert a cross enriched adjunctione vitri
was ordered by Rheims from the goldsmiths of Trier^. They

Der Reliquienschatz des Hauses Braunschweig- Liinebiirg, p. 315 ; F. Bock, Byzantinische
Zellenschmelze, pi. xxxv, fig. 2 and p. 365) ; and a plaque in the Dszyalinska Collection
(C. de Linas, Les expositions rdtrospcctives, i88r, pp. 118, 189).

1 In the table-case with early enamels in the Mediaeval Roini.

2 Plaque representing Our Lord in Majesty {La Colleciion Spitzer, Orfevrerie religieuse,
pi. i ; Rupin, Vceuvre de Limoges, pi. xxi) ; Casket of Sainte-Foy, Conques (Molinier,
Exposition rt'trospective, 1900, p. 84).

^ A. Goerz, Mittelrheinisclie Kegeslen, p. 313, Coblentz, 1876; Migne, Pati: Lat.,
cxxxvii, 27 — 29, p. 514.


remember that in the years from 1137 — i 144 Su^'er of St Denis
had to send for aiiri-fabros Lotharingos, and that the Lorraine of
that time included both Verdun and Cologne; they quote the close
relations existing between the Abbey of Siegburg in the diocese of
Cologne and the Abbey of Grandmont, in the Limousin, relations
culminating in the year 1181, when visits were exchanged and
mutual services for the dead were instituted*. Moreover they
observe that in some of the earliest existing work, for instance the
plaque with the figure of Geoffry Plantagenet (see below), the
colour-scheme is nearer to that of the North than to that which
found favour at Limoges. The curious enamel in the British
Museum with a representation of Henry of Blois, brother of King
Stephen and bishop of Winchester, a work probably executed
between A.D. 1139 and 1146-, in their view suggests by its colour-
ing and its extensive inscriptions Rhenish or Mosan rather than
French affinities ; while the magnificent inscribed crozier now in
the Carrand Collection in the Bargello at Florence, signed by a
certain Frater Willelmus-', and two equally splendid ciboria, one
formerly in the Braikenridge Collection^, the other belonging to
Lord Balfour of Burleigh, appear in the same way nearer to the
work of the Meuse than to that usually associated with the
southern city. Their opponents reply^ that upon the reliquary of
Bellac in the Limousin" there are champleve medallions with
animals, gryphons, and a nimbate figure, similar in character to
Limoges enamels on the reliquary of Ste Foy at Conques", one of

' Texier, Manuel d^^pigraphie...du Limousin, p. 348; A. Darcel, Gazette des
Beaux-Arts, 2me periode, xxn, p. 439.

- Archaeological Journal, X, p. lo ; Journ. Brit. Arch. Association, iii, p. 102;
Labarte, Handbook 0/ the Middle Ages, translated by Mrs Palliser, p. 146 (Murray, 1885);
British Museum, Gtiid^ to the Mediaeval Room, fig. 93, p. iii.

•* Gazetlc des Beaux-Arts, 1887, pi. xviii ; Gazette arcHMogiquc, XIII, 1888, pi. xviii ;
J. Starkie Gardner in Some Minor Arts, London, 1894, p. 72. The crozier was once in
the Meyrick Collection. Mr Gardner argues in favour of an English origin for the
crozier and ciboria.

* Christie's, 1908. Sale catalogue, frontispiece.

' E. Molinier, Gazette cUs Beaux-Arts, 2me periode, XXXlv, pp. 172 ff., and
UOrfhjrerie, p. 178.

* L. Paluslre et B. de Montault, Orfhjrerie et imaillerie Limousine, 1886, pis. i and ii.
^ Bulletin Monumental, 1901, p. 308; Rujiin, Vceuvre de Limoges, pis. i, iv, v and

p. 145. Enamels of the same class in the collection of M. Sigismond Bardac have upon

D. 4


which bears the date ii 37. To this period the relations between
Siegburg and Grandniont cannot apply. So early a date justifies
the attribution to Limoges of the panel in the Museum of Le Mans
with the figure of Geoffry Plantagenet, Count of Maine (d. A.D.
1151)', and also that on the ciborium (altar-canopy) of the Cathe-
dral at Bari^ which is dated of the period between A.D. 1 130 — 1 154.
Similar early panels were placed upon French tombs ; one
representing Eulger, Bishop of Angers (d. 1149), is reproduced by
M. Rupinl Like the problems raised by the earlier history of
enamelling, the question is one which existing evidence cannot
finally decide.

The principal enamelling centres in the Northern area were
Cologne, with its Benedictine monastery of St Pantaleon, Aachen,
Trier and Hildesheim^ Of these Cologne was the most important,
and it w^as here that the great reliquary-shrines of the late twelfth
century were chiefly made. In the Meuse Valley, Liege and
Verdun were chiefly important. In the former city worked the
famous enameller Godefroid de Claire (fl. A.D. 1150 — 1169); in the
latter, Nicholas of Verdun (fl. 1181 — 1205), to whom are due the
enamels of the antependium at Kloster Neuburg near Vienna, and
the remarkable reliquary at Tournai^ The enamellers of the
Meuse make more abundant use of the human figure than those
of the Rhine, and the objects which they ornamented are more
various in form and design.

them the name of St Martial, patron saint of Limoges (Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 3rd
period, xxiv, pp. 350—352). Others of a similar character from the ancient abbey of
Silos, and now in the Museum of Burgos, are reproduced in Gaz. des B.-A. 1906, p. 40,
and E. Roulin, Vancientrdsor de Silos, 1901.

' Labarte, Hist, des arts indiislriels. Hi. pp. 662 ff. ; Rupin, as above, pi. xiii ;
H. Havard. Hist, de r orfevrerie fra7tfaise, pi. xvii ; L. Gonse, Chefs d''auvres des
Musses de France, p. 198; Gaz. des Beaux-Arts, 1886, p. 310; Labarte, Handbook of
the Middle Ages, p. 124; Exposition Universelle de 1900; Cat. officiel de fexp. rt!tro-
spective, p. 31.

^ E. Bertaux, Monuments Plot, vi, 1899, pi. vi ; and Hart dans V Italie mdridionale,

P- 454-

* Hceuvre de Limoges, pi. xiii. See also A. W. Franks in J. B. Waring's Examples
of ornamental art in Glass &c., Vitreous art, p. 25.

* O. von Falke and H. Frauberger, Deutsche Schmelzarbeiten des Mittelalters,
pp. 18 ff. ; Kepertorium fiir Kunstwissenschaft, 1905, pp. 516 ff.

^ A. Darcel, Les arts industriels du Moyen Age en Allemagne, p. 30 ; B. du Mortier,
Etudes sur les principanx monuments de Tournai, 1862, p. 66.


Tlic work of the whole Northern area is characterised by a
different colour-sclieme from that in favour at Linioj^es from the last
quarter of the twelfth century. Green and yellow are prominent,
with blues paler and colder than the rich lapis on which the French
workmen so largely relied. The designs for the most part appear
upon a plain metal ground, on which are enamelled numerous and
characteristic inscriptions ; these explain the favourite symbolical
subjects, especially Old Testament scenes prophetic of the New
Testament, and bear evidence of considerable erudition on the part
of the designers. At Limoges inscriptions are rare', and the
subjects are usually based on the New Testament or on the legends
of the Saints : the lapis blue is constantly used as a ground, and
diapered with small rosettes, circles and quatrefoils. Enamelling
here rapidly became a large and important industry, the products
of which were exported into neighbouring countries : it was con-
ducted upon commercial principles, with the result that a high
proportion of the work has but little artistic merit'-.

The best period of Limoges champleve work was at the close
of the twelfth and in the early part of the thirteenth century: with
the approach of the fourteenth century the commercial character
of the output becomes too obvious. In recent years a classifica-
tion of the various styles has enabled us to arrive at a relative
chronology. The enamels fall into three successive classes :

1. Those with enamelled figures upon a metal ground, plain,
or enriched with engraved scrolls {fo?td vermicide) or stars.

2. Those in which the ground is enamelled, while the figures
are reserved in the metal or applied.

' Inscriptions are found on the Chasse of Mozac in Auvert,me, tlie Virgin of Sauvetat,
Puy de Dome, the bust of Nexon, Haute Vienne &c. Tlie last gives tlie name of liie
enameller Aymeri Cbretien, who wori<ed at Limoges. See Bulletin Monumental, XLix,
1883, p. 457 ; Mdangcs (fart et cCarchiologie, 2"'« annee, pi. xxvii ; La Collection Spitzer,
VoL I, Orftvrerie, p. 86.

"^ Early Limoges enamels are comprehensively treated by ^L Rupin in his work
Vccuvre de Limoges, already so often quoted : references to the early writers will be
found. ^L Molinier has discussed the early period of Limoges in many of his books,
notably in his Orfevrerie, Vol. U of his Histoire ties arts appliques a r Industrie. Tlie
most recent treatment of the subject is that by ^L J. Marquct de Vasselot, in A. Michel's
IListoire de Part depuis Us premiers temps ehrt'tiens, n, pp. 939 til".



3. Examples similar to those of the second class, except that
the figures are also enriched with enamel applied in narrow furrows
or grooves, somewhat after the fashion of niello {emaux de niellure).
The first class dates from the last decades of the twelfth century
to about A.D. 1230. The earlier examples of the second class are
those in which the ground is variegated with rosettes and horizontal
bands (cf. no. 50) ; it is followed by a new group in which the
ground is covered by reserved scrolls with enamelled flowers, the
first of these two fashions being in full vogue about A.l). 1250, the
second falling in the latter half of the century. The types with
the doll-like applied figures also belong to this period. The third
class begins about the third quarter of the century, and is continued
in the century following. To the fourteenth century may also be
ascribed a number of enamels in which red is more freely used than
in earlier times. The growth of Gothic architecture in Northern
France modified the character of ecclesiastical metal-work to the
detriment of the enameller's art. The flat surfaces, which in
Romanesque times were available for ornament of rich colour,
were now restricted by traceries, buttresses and other plastic
embellishments, which left the enameller far less scope than before.
The South of France did not keep pace with the changes of the
North, and Limoges continued to work in a Romanesque style in
the fourteenth century ; but when at last the new fashions finally
triumphed, the city suffered eclipse until the adoption of " painted
enamels" revived an ancient industry in a new form.

The Limoges style of enamelling was naturally imitated in the
countries which had begun by purchasing the tombs, the reliquaries,
book-covers, candlesticks, gemallions and other objects forming
the staple products of the district. At first foreigners sent their
orders to Limoges, and French masters went abroad to superintend
the disposition of their work. Thus the executors of Walter of
Merton, Bishop of Rochester, entered into an agreement with
Maitre Jean de Limoges to make, and set up in England, an
enamelled monument at the close of the thirteenth century^ But

1 J. J. Marquet de Vasselot, as above, p. 941.

- Thorpe, Custuviale Roffense, p. 193 ; A. Way, Arch, [oiirnal, u, p. 171: the tomb
itself has disappeared, like many others of which drawings are preserved in the Bodleian


with the lapse of time foreign countries themselves acquired the
art, and became in part at least independent of the Limousin
masters. In the German area the chief centre of cnamellinj^ passed
from the Valle)-s of the Rhine and Meuse to that of the Danube
(Vienna). We learn from documents of the existence of English
enamellers. The Paris taille-roU of A.n. 1292 mentions " Richardin,
esmailleur de Londres'," and it may be assumed that there were
mail)' others who carried on in their own country the industry
which they or their masters had learned in France. Such enamels
as the shield on the monument of Sir John d'Abernon (d. 1277)
at Stoke d'Abernon are probably English'-, and the champlev^
medallions in the British Museum with the arms of the Abbey
of St Mary of Wardon, Bedfordshire (fifteenth century), may have
the same origin''. Nor is there any reason to doubt that the
armorial pendants, the "prints" of mazers and the earliest
enamelled Garter-plates are of English manufactured Mr Albert
Way discovered a recipe for making enamel in a fourteenth-century
MS, in the British Museum {Archaeological Journal, II. 172)1 But
there is no proof that champleve enamelling was practised in
mediaeval England on a scale at all comparable to that which we
find on the continent : the frequent entries in inventories afford no
proof to the contrary because the provenance of the objects men-
tioned is usually uncertain. Limoges enamel was naturally imported
into Spain and was early imitated there. Some of the work still
to be seen, such as that of the plaques upon an ivory casket from
the Abbey of Silos, now in the Museum of Burgos, is of the twelfth
century, and of an original appearance suggesting a Spanish

Library (A.W.Franks, Vitreous Art, in J.B. Waring's J5'.v(zw//t'j&c., asabove, pp. 25 — •26).
The enamel on the monument of William de Valence is still to be seen in Westminster
Abbey (Stothard, Monumental Effigies, p. 4r ; Didron, Annales archMogiques, viii,
p. 267 ; Gazette des Beaux- Arts, 2me periode, xxii, p. 443). For other enamelled tombs,
now destroyed, see Didron, as above, p. 265 ; Arnaud, Voyage arc/u'ologique dans F Aube,
1837 (Monument of Henri I, Count of Champagne, d. 1180).

^ Gazette des Beaux- Arts, 1874, p. 14 ; H, Geraudin, Paris sous Philippe le Bel, r837.

- Arch. Journal, I, p. 209; xix, 285.

•* Ibid., .XI, 29 — 30. The enamel is however of no great importance.

■• On Garter-plates see W. H. St John Hope, On the early Stall-plates 0/ the Knights
of the Garter, 1 889.
' Ibid., II, p. 172.


imitation of the Limoges style'. The enamelled ciboria and pro-
cessional crosses still preserved in the peninsula are also regarded
as of indigenous workmanship.

Champlev<^ enamel still enjoyed some popularity in our country
in the seventeenth century. Roundels for the centres of large
pewter dishes, with the Stuart arms or of the Stuart period, exist
in various collections^ while the first half of the century witnessed
the production of coarser work in the shape of large candlesticks
and fire-dogs'*, in which the metal used as a base is no longer
bronze but bras.s. These enamels, represented in the McClean
Collection by the candlestick (no. 6o), have the peculiarity of not
being finished by grinding and polishing. They were left untouched
after the last firing, so that the surface of the work shows continual
inequalities, a circumstance which in the eyes of many enhances
their decorative effect. The prevailing colours are blue, green,
white and an orange yellow ; and it may be noted that work of
just the same kind with a similar colour-scheme appears in Russia
at the same period. As painted enamels were introduced into
the Russian dominions from France (see p. 68), so this rough
champleve work on brass may have been a western importation ^
It remained very popular in Russia, and the familiar enamelled
triptychs and other devotional tablets are all examples of the
process. The Hungarian enamels already mentioned are similar
in colour, and in the absence of the final grinding.

^ E. Roulin, Uancien trt'sor de Silos, 1901, p. i. For other early Spanish enamels
see C. H. Read, Report on the Historical Exhibition at Madrid, 1893, p. 23 (British
Museum); A. van de Put, Burlington Magazine, 1906, p. 421. The last-mentioned
author suggests that enamelled armorial pendants found in Spain may be the Emaux
d^Arragoti discussed by C. Davillier in Recherches stir Vorfevrerie en Espagne, p. 65.
These armorial pendants are found in many countries, and those discovered in England
may well be of English workmanship (British Museum, Gtiide to the Mediaeval Room,
P- 55)- Spain furnished some interesting examples of ^viaiix de niellure (E. Roulin on
the cross at Villabertran, in Monuments Piot, vi, 1899, p. 208).

2 Several such roundels are in the British Museum, one still in its place in the centre
of a large pewter dish [Guide to the Mediaeval Room, fig. 164 on p. 227).

3 Fire-dogs and candlesticks in the Victoria and Albert Museum ; candlesticks in the
British Museum [Guide to the Mediaeval Room, p. 123). See also Gazette des Beaux-
Arts, 2nd period, x.xiv, p. 372.

•* Mr E. Dillon, however, suggests that this style of enamelling came to us from
Russia [Burlington Magazine, 1210, pp. 261 flf.).


The style of enamelling which superseded champlev<5 in popular
favour is known in France as email de basse taille, and in Kngland
as translucent enamel on sunk relief. In this variety the design
is cut in relief on a silver or gold base in such a way that the whole
lies below the level of the original surface. The cavity is then
filled with enamel in translucent colours, and as these vary in
richness and intensity with the depth of the relief, very beautiful
effects are produced. The method of preparing the base resembles
that of sculpture in in cava rilievo or relief en creux, which the
Egyptians of all the ancient dynasties practised in fine stone with-
out any idea of further decoration ; but the Egyptian work is of
course cut deeper below the surface, and is upon a much larger
scale. The famous names of Giovanni Fisano and Duccio of Siena
are among the earliest connected with enamelling in this fashion ;
Vasari says that the former made a retable for the high altar of
Arezzo, enriched with enamels on silver ; while the latter artist
signed a chalice for the convent of St Francis of Assisi in A.D.
1290-. Specimens of translucent enamel are numerous in Tuscany,
and several are in the Bargello at Florence. Special mention may
be made of a few examples which are historically interesting. The
silver altar of Pistoia^ is the work of Pietro di Leonardo of
Florence, Andrea di Jacopo d' Ognabene, and Leonardo di Ser
Giovanni, the first two working at the end of the thirteenth and
in the early years of the fourteenth century, the last completing
the whole in 1371. The reliquary for the corporal in Orvieto
Cathedral was completed, as the inscription upon it records, by
Ugolino of Siena and his companions {socii aiirifices) in I338-*.

' Benvenuto Cellini describes the method in his Tratlato deW oreficeria, ch. iii. Gold
is a better metal than silver for enamelling on sunk relief, firstly because it dilates less
and the enamel is less liable to become brittle and crack, secondly because it admits of
the use of the rich reds with which such fine effects may be produced : silver is suitable
for blues, greens, violets and certain yellows, but not for reds (L. Falize in Gaz. des
Beaiix-Arls, 3rd period, 11, 1889, p. 79).

- Gaz. des Beaux-Aiis, 2nd period, xviil, 1878, p. 573.

^ T/te Reliquary and Illustrated Archaeologist, 1906, pp. i9ff. ; Gazette des Beaux -
Arts, 2nd period, xxvii, 1883, p. 20. The original altar decoration was stolen by Vanni
Fucci, whom Dante places in the 7lh bolgia of the Inferno. ''Son Vanni Fucci Bestia,
e Pistoia niij'u degna tana " {Inf., XXI V, 125).

■* d'Agincourt, Peinture, pi. cx.xiii; Gazette des Beaux- Arts, 1877, pp. ^S: IT.;
Jieliquar)', as above, p. 25 ; Archaeological /ournal, xii, pi. iv. It is a large


The same artist was emplo)'ed upon the reliquary of St Juvenal,
also at Orvicto^ The names of numerous enamellers of Central
Italy, chiefly from Siena, survive upon the chalices, processional
crosses, and other works of the later fourteenth century which have
been preserved in many churches and museums-. The chalice
(no. 6i) in the McClean Bequest is a typical example in the
Sienese style.

Translucent enamel rapidly spread into Spain and France*.
For the former country it was especially practised at Gerona in
Catalonia, at Barcelona, and at Valencia'*. Perhaps the enamels
which were made at Montpellier in this style may be due to
Spanish influence, as part of the city was held by Aragonese
princes in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries^ But the art
soon became popular in Northern France, and its most splendid
production is the royal gold cup in the British Museum enamelled
with the story of St Valerie, and originally made to the order of
the Due de Berri for presentation to Charles V". Some fine plaques
of the fourteenth century, with figures of saints, are attributed to

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Online LibraryFitzwilliam Museum. McClean BequestCatalogue of the mediaeval ivories, enamels, jewellery, gems and miscellaneous objects bequeathed to the museum by Frank McClean → online text (page 6 of 14)