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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architectural silver reliquary, the enamelled plaques chiefly representing New Testament
scenes, and scenes illustrating the miracle of the Mass of Bolsena. The chief colours are
azure blue, green, yellow and violet.

^ Didron, Annales anhdologiques, xv, 1855, pp. 365 ff. At Orvieto is another
enamelled reliquary of S. Savin by Ugolino and Viva. The cathedral of Orte has a
processional cross by Vannuccio, pupil of Viva, and several enamelled chalices (Gaz. des
Beaux-Arts, 1896, pp. 500 ff.).

^ G. Milanesi, Docunienti per la storia delP arte Seiiese, Siena, 1854 — 6.

=* The earliest dated French pieces are a paten in the Museum at Copenhagen
(a.d. 1333), the lio7i d'or of Montpellier in the British Museum, which can only have
been made in a.d. 1338 — 1339, and the enamels on the plinth of the silver statuette of
the Virgin (now in the Louvre) given by Jeanne d'Evreux to St Denis in a.d. 1339
(J. Marquet de Vasselot in A. Michel, Histoire de Part, Vol. Ill, pp. 982 — 983).

■* E. Roulin, Monuments Piot, vi (enamelled crosses of Gerona and Villabertran).
See also Davillier, Orfevrerie en Espagne ; Labarte, Recherchcs &c. and Histoire ; Van
de Put, in Burlington Magazine, 1906, p. 421. Eor the "■t'ckiquier de Charlemagne" at
Roncevaux, see J. J. Marquet de Vasselot, Gazette des Beaux- Arts, 1897, and Hist, de
Part, as above, p. 987.

^ Texier, Dictionnaire d'orfev7'erie, s.v. Montpellier ; Burl. Mag. as above. For the
ichiquier de Charlemagne at Roncevaux, which may be Spanish or French, see Gazette
des Beaux- Arts, 1897, pp. 324 fT. For Franco- Flemish translucent enamels see Gazette
des Beaux- Arts, 1S90.

® C. H. Read, Vetusta Moiiutiienta (Soc. of Antiquaries of London), 1904; The
Royal Colli Cup of the Kings of France and England ; Molinier, Orfevrerie, p. 227.


Cologne'. With the fifteenth century transkicent enamel tended
to abandon figure subjects for the floral designs which we see on
the Burgundian knife-handles and other objects of the period'-'.
Translucent work, perhaps rather champleve than basse tail/c, was
popular in South Germany, chiefly at Augsburg, towards the
middle of the sixteenth century. The gun and powder-flask of
the Emperor Rudolf II (1552 — 1612) are decorated with silver
plaques enamelled in brilliant translucent colours with figures of
Diana and Actaeon, trophies, birds and flowers^ A virginal in
the Museum at Budapest, one of the ivory coin-cabinets by
Christoph Angcrmair (d. I632)^ and ebony cabinets in the Reiche
Capelle at Munich are ornamented in the same manner. The
enamels of the coin-cabinet are the work of the Augsburg
enameller David Attenistctter. The mounts made for large
antique cameos and other jewels of value were often of gold
richly decorated with conventional designs in translucent enamel.
Some of the most admirable examples are to be seen in the
Imperial Historical Museum at Vienna.

There is documentary evidence that translucent enamels were
made in England"', but there is hardly a surviving example of which
the English origin is indisputable. The small plaques on the
mitre and crozier of William of Wykeham at New College, Oxford,
seem to be Italian work"; the fine cup in the possession of the
Corporation of King's Lynn" has been claimed as English, but

^ Schniitgen, in Zeitschrift ficr Christliche Kunst, vii, 1894, pp. 23 ft'. Two small
plaques are in the British Museum, a larger at South Kensington (H. II. Cunynghame,
European Enamels, pi. opposite p. 114).

"^ Archaeologia, i.x (knives of John the Intrepid, Duke of Burgundy) ; Proc. Soc. Ant. of
London, 2nd Series, xv, p. 257 ; and British Museum, Guide to the Medicun'al Room, pi. xiii.

^ In the Imperial Historical Museum at Vienna.

■* In the Bavarian National Museum at Munich, Room 28.

•"' In 1365 Edward III bought from Thomas Hessey various vessels ornamented with
enamel; and in 1370 Walsh and Chichester, goldsmiths of London, made an enamelled
cup for him. The mere mention of enamelled objects in the inventories of English
kings does not allow us to assume their English origin.

** Archaeologia, LX. The similar croziers in Cologne Cathedral and the Victoria and
Albert Museum are considered to be Italian.

^ H. Shaw, Dresses atut ornaments &c., pi. Ixvii ; Sir A. H. Church and others, Some
Minor Arts, p. 76; J. Marquet de Vasselot, as above, p. 987. The enamels on the
Bruce Horn belonging to the Marcjuis of Ailesbury, and the belt supporting it, are also
claimed as English (Some Minor Arts, p. 75).


the attribution is conjectural. The great period of translucent
enamelling" on sunk relief came to an end with the Renaissance,
though there is interesting work of this kind ascribed to the
sixteenth century^ Modern enamellers have given some attention
to the process, but it has hardly attained the popularity of other

The present is the most convenient place to mention "encrusted
enamels," or enamels in the round, in which the vitreous ornament
is applied to a convex surface. The diminutive enamelled jewels
of the Greeks are the earliest known example of the process, which
was revived upon a larger scale in France (perhaps at Paris) in the
second half of the fourteenth century. The inventories of Charles VI
mention enamelled statuettes in the precious metals'-, the character
of which is illustrated by a surviving example, a devotional group,
now in Bavaria, made for that King, and known as the Rossi of
Altottingl It was carried off to his own country by the brother
of Isabeau de Baviere, a circumstance which preserved it from the
general destruction in which examples remaining in France were
involved. Another example of this work is the "calvary" in the
treasury of the Cathedral at Gran in Hungary^ In this master-
piece the base, which is formed of sphinxes in the style of the
early Renaissance, supports the earlier enamelled crucifix. In the
late sixteenth and in the seventeenth centuries enamelling on high
relief was much practised, especially upon the jewelled pendants
made in such numbers chiefly in Southern Germany, and well
illustrated in this country by the examples in the Waddesdon
Bequest at the British Museum ^

^ The process was continued in Spain until the middle of the century (pax in the
Cathedral of Valencia). Cf. also medallions assigned to the i6th century in the Fortnum
Collection in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford.

- " Une image d'or de Nostre Dame esmaillee de blanc, assise en une chayere d'or,
laquelle tient son enfant en son giron vestu d'une cotte esmaillee de rouge clere," &c.

■* Didron, Annates archdologiques, XXVI, pp. 119, 209 ff. ; Molinier, Orfevrerie,
p. 219; H. Havard, Hist, de V orfevrerie fran^aise, fig. on p. 250; O. von Falke, in
A. Michel's Histoire de Vart, ni, pp. 867 — 869. Some would assign an enamelled reliquary
in the Waddesdon Bequest at the British Museum (C. H. Read, Catalogue, no. 67) to
this period.

^ Reproduced in Cardinal Simor's work on the Treasure of Gran.

^ C. H. Read, Catalogue of the Waddesdon Bequest, nos. 147, &c. (British Museum,
1902). See also H. Havard, Hist, de P orfivrerie fraitcaise, chs. xvi and xvii ;


The fie^urcs with which German goldsmiths enriched their
elaborate ebony cabinets or set groups of figures were also thus
enamelled'. The most extraordinary example is the great group
by J. M. Dinglinger in the Griines Gewolbe at Dresden, representing
the Court of Aurungzebe, in which there are no less than a hundred
and thirty-two enamelled figures.

Just as enamelling by the champleve process was a simplifica-
tion of cell-work, so painted enamels- resulted from a simplification
of work in bcjsse taillt\ the processes of transition perhaps varying
in different countries. In Italy translucent enamels on silver
became shallower until sunk relief was abandoned^ The way was
thus prepared for " painting," in which the design, instead of being
engraved in sunk relief, was first transferred by a tracing to the
surface of the metal, and the contours were then covered with
enamel, applied not with the brush, but with the spatula. The
term " painted enamel" is misleading if it suggests that the enamels
of the Penicauds, or Leonard Limousin, are the result of brush-
work : almost every effect was really achieved by the spatula or
the point.

The new process^ may elsewhere have been facilitated by
observation of other branches of vitreous art. Thus there is a
theory that it began in the ateliers of the glass-makers. Here the
workmen were familiar with the art of colouring glass with metallic
oxides ; and when the process of applying enamel-colours to the
surface of plain glass began to be understood, the transference of
the method to a metal surface might readily suggest itself in any
region where enamelling on metal had been practised. Perhaps

W. Frohner, Les collections ilu cMkati de Gohicho'w, pi. xxi ; E. Molinier, Donation de
M. le Baron Adolphe Rothschild, Musee du Louvre, 1902, pi. xxxii; Fairholt and Wright,
Afiscellatiea Graphica (Londesborough Collection), pis. i, v, xxxviii.

^ Examples at Dresden and Munich.

- See the books mentioned in note 2, p. 32 ; works by L. Bourdery, articles by
C. Popelin, Gaz. dt-s Beaux-Arts, 1881, p. 107; E. Molinier, Dicliontiaire des t'mailleurs,
Paris, 1885.

•■* For examples see O. von Falke, as above, pp. 890, 891.

■• Enamelling in the round, which, as we have seen, was practised in France at the
end of the 14th century, has points in common with painted enamelling; but the scope
anil application of the latter were so much wider thai it may fairly be called a new


the idea may first have occurred to the decorators of glass vessels,
as enamel-colours appear to have been applied to these rather
earlier than to stained windows. But about the same time the old
process of decorating windows was undergoing a change in the
same direction. It had been the earlier mediaeval usage to colour
the whole body of the with metallic oxides, then to fit
together small pieces, each stained with one tint only, in a leaded
framework so as to form a kind of mosaic, upon which contours,
features and folds of drapery were painted in line. But it now
became the practice to paint the whole design on large sheets of
uncoloured glass ; the process was thus essentially the same as that
employed by the enameller of a glass vessel, or for that matter, by
the painter of maiolica, though the colours were generally thinner,
in order that the passage of the light might not be unduly hindered.
It is easy to imagine that changes of this kind in the art of orna-
menting a glass base might suggest similar modifications to a
kindred art like that of the enameller on metal \

As in the case of translucent enamel on sunk relief, the question
of precedence between France and North Italy is by no means easy
to decide. If any part of the decoration of enamels in the round,
like the Rossi of Altotting (see above, p. 58), can be fairly described
as painted enamel, then the French claim is a strong one; and it is
confirmed if the small enamelled copper plaques, probably made
at Limoges and now respectively preserved in the Musee des
Antiquaires de L'Ouest at Poitiers, and the Musee Vivenel at
Compiegne, are really of the period of Charles VII, as the cos-
tumes of the personages upon them appear to indicate. On the
other hand, it must be noted that the well-known artist Jehan
Foucquet, who used to insert little medallions of enamel, painted
in the Italian style, in the frames of his pictures-, was the friend of

^ See M. Molinier's article on the beginnings of painted enamelling, in Gazette des
Beaux-Arts, 3rd period, xxiv, 1900, p. 422 f.

2 The ground of the enamels of Foucquet and Filarete was black, on which the
designs were painted in gold. Foucquet's two surviving medallions are described by
J. J. Marquet de Vasselot, Deux t!maux de /ehan Foucquet, in Gazette des Beaux-Arts,
August, 1904 : they are in the Louvre, and in the Kunstgewerbe Museum at Berlin.
See also O. von Falke, as above, p. 892, who suggests that neither France nor Italy but
Flanders, the country of the monkey beaker mentioned below, may have first employed
the new method.


Filarete in Italy ; and that Filarctc, as \vc know frtjm his Covi-
mentaries, was in his turn a friend of the Venetian glass-maker
Beroviero. The reproduction by this sculptor of the statue of
Marcus Aurelius on the Capitol at Rome, a work now in the
Dresden Museum and dated A.D. 1465, has diminutive plaques of
painted enamel. Moreover, Venice would be quite a likely place
for the invention of the new process. Once more we are confronted
with a problem which admits of no certain answer. We can only
say that painted enamelling appeared both in France and Italy
towards the middle of the fifteenth century, and that whether the
invention was independently made, or whether one country borrowed
from the other, the style and system of production remain in each
case distinct. In France the new method was rapidly employed
upon an industrial scale ; and as in earlier centuries, Limoges
established a large market for her enamels. In Italy there was
no such commercial manufacture. The work was confined to
paxes, medallions, diptychs, triptychs, enseignes for hats and
other plaques of small size : the artists, who were evidently in-
fluenced by the painters of the North Italian schools, seem to have
lived in different cities and to have worked for a few patrons rather
than for the general public. Their production hardly lasted for
more than a single generation, and had come to an end at an early
period in the sixteenth century. The drawing is usuall)- restrained
and severe ; the flesh is painted in grisaille, finely shaded but never
coloured ; the background is often of translucent enamel, some-
times of brilliant colour, as in the fine portrait medallions in the
British Museum, where it is of a rich crimson. Of less artistic
importance, though highly decorative in eff"ect, are the contemporary
enamelled ciboria for church use, plateaux, candlesticks, trenchers
and other domestic objects, made in considerable numbers at
Venice, and illustrated by a ciborium in the McClean Bequest
(no. 75). The ground is here generally a rich deep blue on which
the gadroons or other modelled features stand out effectively in
white, the whole being finally picked out with gold. A ciborium
of this class in a French collection is signed Bernarditius de
Cannnellis Plebaniis fecit fieri de atmo MCCCCCII^.

' Gazelle Jes Beaux-Arts, 2nd period, .\.\, p. 59.


The " monkey beaker " formerly in the collections of Lord
Arundel of Wardour and of Herr Thevvalt, now in that of
Mr Pierpont Morgan', is painted in grisaille and gold on a black
ground ; it was probably made in the Low Countries in the latter
part of the fifteenth century. The beakers at Vienna, including
the Pokal of the Emperor Frederick III and the Werdenberg'scher
Pokal'', have a ground inlaid with small stars and rays in gold, the
general appearance being very similar to that of the Venetian
work, where however the effect is usually produced by gilding the
surface. It is considered probable that the art of the two areas
must be related, and that the one centre must have influenced the
other ; but it is uncertain through what channels the influence was

The enamellers of Limoges did not, like the Italians, find
models among the works of native artists ; they sought them
abroad, at first in Flanders and Germany, and after the first
quarter of the sixteenth century, in Italy. In the works of the
earlier masters the influence of German and Flemish prints is
unmistakeable, while in some cases the composition appears to
be related to that of Flemish tapestries. The artists who furnished
the models were still in great measure faithful to mediaeval tradi-
tion : the canopies under which the figures often stand illustrate
the compromises attempted by the architects of the time of
Louis XII between classical forms and those of fifteenth-century
Gothic. But by the middle of the sixteenth century all eyes were
turned to Italy, and engravings after Raphael and his school by
Marcantonio, the master of the Die, and others, were reproduced,
with an almost tedious fidelity, from which only a man of genius
like Jean Penicaud was able to emancipate his art. Subjects like
the Banquet of the Gods, the Story of Cupid and Psyche, and
other episodes based upon pagan legend, sink by constant repeti-
tion to the mediocrity of the most popular devotional subjects.

We may assign the painted enamels of Limoges to four periods :
the early or primitive ; the fine period ; the decline ; and the last

1 O. von Falke, as above, p. 893; Lewis Day, Enamellm};, p. 163.

2 T- von Schlosser, Album ausgnvcihlter Gegenstdnde der...Sammhing des aUerhochsten
Kaiserhaiises, Vienna, 1901, pis. vii and viii. These beakers may be Austrian imitations
of Flemish work (see vou Falke, as above, p. 894).


final phase of clccadcncc. Tlic first period lasted from the beL,M'n-
nin^ of the art, towards the middle of the fifteenth century, down
to about 1530; the second from this date to about 1580; the third
to about 1625 ; and the fourth to the closing of the workshops in
the eighteenth century.

The first of the cnamcllers known to us by at least a provisional
name is "Monvaerni'" who flourished about the middle of the
fifteenth century. An artist of considerable power, though un-
equal both in his drawing and his colour, he conveys his meaning
with an intense sincerity, making no attempt to captivate the eye
by prettiness or soft refinements of execution. His enamel is
thickly applied, and his figures are outlined in black, a feature
which recalls the technique of the painter on glass. He has a taste
for white draperies, and his favourite flesh-tint is a pearly grey. A
vivid yellow and green are conspicuous in his scale of colour.
His work is best studied in the Louvre ; but remarkable ex-
amples have passed into the hands of American collectors. A
more familiar name is that of Nardon (Leonard) Penicaud, born
about A.D. 1474, and still alive in 1539. His principal activity thus
falls in the period of Gothic tradition and northern models, though
he lived to see the triumph of Italian influence. He works siir
appret, that is to say, upon a white ground : over this he applies
translucent colours which are singularly rich and sumptuous, the
effect being enhanced by a free use of gold and of small "jewelled "
borders enriched with little discs of foil beneath the glaze {paillons).

^ J. J. Marqiiet de Vasselot, Burlington Magazijic, October 1908, pp. 30 ff..
Revue Archt'ologiqiie, March-April 191 1, pp. 299 ff., and Gazette des Beaux-Arts,
1910, Les hiiaux de Monvaerni an Musce du Louvre. A. Darcel, Gazette des Beaux-
Arts, 2nd period, XIX, p. 522 f., and 3rd period, I, 1889, p. 256; E. Molinier, /V^/V/.,
3rd period, xxiv, 1900, p. 426 ; G. Migeon, Les Arts, 1906, p. 24. The existence
of an artist of so peculiar a name as Monvaerni is doubted, though the word, or
part of it, occurs on a triptych formerly in the Odiot Collection, and on an enamel
in the possession of the Countess Dzyalinska at Cracow (Les Arts, as above, p. 24).
Mr H. P. Mitchell (Burlington Magazine, April, 1910, pp. 37 ff.) has suggested
that the word conceals the name and title of Jean Barton de Montbas, Archbishop of
Nazareth, who had been bishop of Limoges, A.D. 1458 — 1484, in which case the name
would be that of a patron and not that of an artist : the hypothesis has however been
adversely criticised. All that can at present be said is that the artist of this grouj') of
enamels was a man of marked personality and great talent, but that his identity remains


His flesh-tints arc remarkable for a violet tint, which is sometimes
unpleasingly dark, and rich browns are conspicuous in his scheme
of colour. A number of enamellers imitated his style, to one of
whom may be assigned the small medallion in the McClean Bequest
(no. 6s).

To the fifty years of the next or fine period belong most of the
great enamellers, of whom we may specially mention the three
Jean Penicauds, and the artist allied to their school who sometimes
signs K. I. P. ; Leonard Limousin ; Pierre Reymond ; and Couly
Nouailher (Noylier). The Penicaud family had a large atelier,
the products of which are commonly marked on the back with a
monogrammatic stamp, but the presence of this stamp does not
necessarily imply that the whole enamel is the work of one of the
Penicauds, any more than the signature of a painter is always a
proof that the whole of a painting is by his own hand. Much of
the less important detail was doubtless executed by pupils, the
master carrying out the important features ; in other cases the
whole is the work of inferior artists.

Jean Penicaud I, perhaps a nephew of Nardon, is a transitional
artist still working sur apprct, and employing an equally sumptuous
scale of colour. He uses paillons freely, but not, like his pre-
decessors, chiefly in the orfreys or borders of garments. His
compositions, like those of Monvaerni, recall the designs of
Flemish tapestries^

With Jean Penicaud H, brother or cousin of the last, the process
siir apprct is abandoned, and painting in grisaille or camaieu on
dark blue or black ground becomes popular'-. This artist was a
master of technique, and attempted very subtle effects, especially
in his treatment of faces and of the nude. His son, Jean
Penicaud HI, was the greatest of the name, a real artist who
designed many of his own compositions, and emancipated himself
from the servile reproduction of foreign models. K. I. P., an artist
who produced small enamelled plaques with cavalry encounters
and similar scenes, executed with great vigour, was evidently

1 Gazette des Beaux- Arts, 3rd period, XXIV, 1900, p. 428.

- For descriptions of the process of painting in grisaille see Darcel, Gazette ties Beaux-
Arts, 2nd period, xix, 1865, p. 528.


associated with the Penicaud atelier. Some have even identified
him with Jean Penicaud II'.

Ldonard Limousin-, perhaps the most celebrated of all enamel-
lers, was at his best about the middle of the sixteenth century ; by
1570 his work had degenerated, and his death occurred within ten
years of that date. He never had so fine a ta.ste or such prodigious
powers of execution as the Penicauds, but his scope was wider, and
his official position as peiutrc du roi gave him a distinction in his
own day which has survived to our own. He painted groups and
ornamental designs both in colour and in grisaille, but is chiefly
known for his portraits, which have come down to us in consider-
able numbers. Some of these are admirable works ; yet as a class
they lack breadth and freedom : they are too faithful in their
imitation of the contemporary school of French art ; and this often
lends them a certain provincial air. The grounds are blue or
black ; the shading of the features and the rendering of the hair
are of the most minute and careful execution. The subjects include
many of the most notable personages of the French Court.

In his grisailles, Leonard .sometimes substituted a turquoise
blue for the more common black ground : in his coloured work he
uses foils under brilliant translucent colours heightened with gold.
In one phase of his art he affected white grounds, and avoided
deep and opaque colours, a manner in which he was followed by
inferior artists. The panel in the McClean Collection (no. Gi) is
executed in this manner and is by an enameller influenced by this

Pierre Reymond^ enjoyed a long career, during which he pro-
duced a great number of dishes, tazzas and other objects, now
distributed among the museums and private collections of Europe.
He signed pieces as early as 1538, was still working in 1570, and

' A plaque with a figure of Dialectic shows, upon the pedestal on which Dialectic
sits, a combat of cavalry in K. I. P.'s characteristic style. But one of the three other
plaques of the same set is signed by Jean Penicaud, and has the stamp of the atelier on
the back {Gaz. des Beaux-Arts, and period, xxxni, 1886, p. 130). A panel in the
British Museum representuig St Mary of Egypt is also signed LP. Mr H. P. Mitchell
has suggested an identification with Jean Poilleve [Burlington Magazine, 1909,
pp. 278 ff.).

- Signature L. L.

^ Signature P. R.

D. S


died in 1584, but the period of his highest achievement was the

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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 7 of 14)