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THE CATHEDRAL BUILDERS



THE NEW YORK
PUBLIC LIBRARY



ASTOR, LENOX AND
TiLDEbi FOUNDATIONS




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THE



CATHEDRAL BUILDERS



THE STORY OF A GREAT MASONIC GUILD



BY LEADER SCOTT ^^^.az^uj.)

Honorary Member of the ' Accademia delle Belle Arti,' Florence

Author of ' The Renaissance of Art in Italy,'
' Handbook of Sculpture,' ' Echoes of Old Florence,' etc.

I



With Eighty-three Illustrations



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NEW YORK

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

153 — 157 Fifth Avenue
1899



'THE NEW YCEK
PUBLIC LIBRARY

fil327B/\

AS.TOR, LENOX AND

TIL^EN fUUNDATIONS

R 1932 L



Richard Clay & Sons, Limited,
London & Bungay.



PROEM

In most histories of Italian art we are conscious of a
vast hiatus of several centuries, between the ancient classic
art of Rome — which was in its decadence when the Western
Empire ceased in the fifth century after Christ — and that
early rise of art in the twelfth century which led to the
Renaissance.

This hiatus is generally supposed to be a time when
Art was utterly dead and buried, its corpse in Byzantine
dress lying embalmed in its tomb at Ravenna. But all
death is nothing but the germ of new life. Art was not a
corpse, it was only a seed, laid in Italian soil to germinate,
and it bore several plants before the great reflowering
period of the Renaissance.

The seed sown by the Classic schools formed the link
between them and the Renaissance, just as the Romance
Languages of Provence and Languedoc form the link
between the dying out of the classic Latin and the rise of
modern languages.

Now where are we to look for this link ?

In language we find it just between the Roman and
Gallic Empires.

In Art it seems also to be on that borderland —
Lombardy — where the Magistri Comacini, a mediaeval
Guild of Libert Muratori{¥ r^^md^sons), kept alive in their
traditions the seed of classic art, slowly training it through
Romanesque forms up to the Gothic, and hence to the full



vi PROEM

Renaissance. It is a significant coincidence that this
obscure Hnk in Art, Hke the Hnk-languages, is styled by
many writers ProvenQal or Romance style, for the Gothic
influence spread in France even before it expanded so
gloriously in Germany.

I think if we study these obscure Comacine Masters we
shall find that they form a firm, perfect, and consistent link
between the old and the new, filling completely that ugly
gap in the History of Art. So fully that all the different
Italian styles, whose names are legion — being Lombard-
Byzantine at Ravenna and Venice, Romanesque at Pisa and
Lucca, Lombard-Gothic at Milan, Norman-Saracen in
Sicily and the south, — are nothing more than the different
developments in differing climates and ages, of the art of
one powerful guild of sculptor-builders, who nursed the
seed of Roman art on the border-land of the falling Roman
Empire, and spread the growth in far-off countries.

We shall see that all that was architecturally good in
Italy during the dark centuries between 500 and 1200 a.d.
was due to the Comacine Masters, or to their influence. To
them can be traced the building of those fine Lombard
Basilicas of S. Ambrogio at Milan, Theodolinda's church at
Monza, S. Fedele at Como, San Michele at Pavia, and San
Vitale at Ravenna ; as well as the florid cathedrals of Pisa,
Lucca, Milan, Arezzo, Brescia, etc. Their hand was in the
grand Basilicas of S. Agnese, S. Lorenzo, S. Clemente, and
others in Rome, and in the wondrous cloisters and aisles of
Monreale and Palermo.

Through them architecture and sculpture were carried
into foreign lands, France, Spain, Germany, and England,
and there developed into new and varied styles according to
the exigencies of the climate, and the tone of the people.
The flat roofs, horizontal architraves, and low arches of the
Romanesque, which suited a warm climate, gradually
changed as they went northward into the pointed arches



PROEM vii

and sharp gables of the Gothic ; the steep sloping lines
being a necessity in a land where snow and rain were
frequent.

But however the architecture developed in after times,
it was the Comacine Masters who carried the classic germs
and planted them in foreign soils ; it was the brethren of
the Liberi Muratori who, from their head-quarters at
Como, were sent by Gregory the Great to England with
Saint Augustine, to build churches for his converts ; by
Gregory II. to Germany with Boniface on a similar mission;
and were by Charlemagne taken to France to build his
church at Aix-la-Chapelle, the prototype of French Gothic.

How and why such a powerful and influential guild
seemed to spring from a little island in Lake Como, and
how their world-wide reputation grew, the following scraps
of history, borrowed from many an ancient source, will, I
hope, explain.

It is strange that Art historians hitherto have made
so little of the Comacine Masters. I do not think that
Cattaneo mentions them at all. Hope, although divining
a universal Masonic Guild, enlarges on all their work as
Lombard ; Fergusson disposes of them in a single un-
important sentence ; and Symonds is not much more dif-
fuse ; while Marchese Ricci gives them the credit of the
early Lombard work and no more. I was led at length to
a closer study of them by the two ponderous tomes on the
Maestri ComacinP by Professor Merzario, who has got
together a huge amount of material from old writers, old
deeds, and old stones. But valuable as the material is,
Merzario is bewildering in his redundancy, confusing in his
arrangement, and not sufficiently clear in his deductions, his

1 Professor Giuseppe Merzario. — / Maestri Comacini. Storia Artistica
di Milk duecenfo a?ini, 600 — 1800. Published in 1893 by Giacomo
Agnelli, of 2, Via S. Margherita, Milan. Two vols., large octavo. (Price
12 frcs.)



viii PROEM

chief aim being to show how many famous artists came
from Lombardy.

I wrote to ask Signor Merzario if I might associate his
name with mine in preparing a work for the Enghsh pubhc,
in which his research would furnish me with so much that is
valuable to the history of art, but to my regret I found he
hadMied since the book was written, so I never received his
permission ; though his publisher was very kind in permitting
me to use the book as a chief work of reference. With
Merzario I have collated many other recognized authorities
on architecture and archaeology, besides archivial docu-
ments, and old chronicles. I have tried to make some
slight chronological arrangement, and some intelligible lists
of the names of the Masters at different eras. The re-
searches of the great archivist Milanesi in his Documenti
per la Storia dell' Arte Senese, and Cesare Guasti in his
lately published collection of documents relating to the
buildinof of the Duomo of Florence, have been of immense
service in throwing a light on the organization of the
Lodges and their government. All that Signor Merzario
dimly guessed from the more fragmentary earlier records of
Parma, Modena, and Verona, shines out clear and well-
defined under the fuller light of these later records, and
helps us to read many a dark saying of the older times.

My thanks for much kind assistance in supplying me
with facts or authorities, are due to the Rev. Canonico
Pietro Tonarelli of Parma cathedral ; the Rev. Vincenzo
Rossi, Priore of Settignano ; Commendatore John Temple
Leader of Florence ; and to my brother, the Rev. William
Miles Barnes, Rector of Monkton, who has written the
"English link" for me. Acknowledgments are also due
to Signor Alinari and Signor Brogi of Florence, and to
Signor Ongania of Venice, for permitting the use of their
photographs as illustrations.



\



CONTENTS



PAGE

PROEM V

BOOK I

ROMANO-LOMBARD ARCHITECTS

CHAP.

I. THE GUILD OF THE COMACINE MASTERS .... 3

II. THE COMACINES UNDER THE LONGOBARDS . . . . 3 1

III. CIVIL ARCHITECTURE UNDER THE LONGOBARDS ... 6o

IV. COMACINE ORNAMENTATION IN THE LOMBARD ERA .. . 7 1
V. COMACINES UNDER CHARLEMAGNE 90

VI. IN THE TROUBLOUS TIMES I08

BOOK II

FIRST FOREIGN EMIGRATIONS OF THE COMACINES

I. THE NORMAN LINK 121

II. THE GERMAN LINK 1 33

III. THE ORIGIN OF SAXON ARCHITECTURE (a SUGGESTION), BY THE

REV. W. MILES BARNES 1 39

IV. THE TOWERS AND CROSSES OF IRELAND . . . . 161

BOOK III

ROMANESQUE ARCHITECTS

I. TRANSITION PERIOD I'Jl

II. THE MODENA-FERRARA LINK I92

III. THE TUSCAN LINK. I. PISA 2o6

2. LUCCA AND PISTOJA . . . .225

IV. ROMANESQUE AND GOTHIC ORNAMENTATION . . . 242
V. CIVIL ARCHITECTURE OF THE ROMANESQUE ERA . . . 256



/



CHAP.

I.
II.



CONTENTS
BOOK IV

PAGE

ITALIAN-GOTHIC, AND RENAISSANCE ARCHITECTS

THE SECESSION OF THE PAINTERS ..... 265

THE SIENA AND ORVIETO LODGES 282

III. THE FLORENTINE LODGE 308

IV. THE MILAN LODGE - . 345

1. THE COMACINES UNDER THE VISCONTI . . . 349

2. THE CERTOSA OF PAVIA 372

V. THE VENETIAN LINK 383

VI. THE ROMAN LODGE 4°°

EPILOGUE 423

AUTHORITIES CONSULTED 427

INDEX 429



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



Cloister of S. John Lateran, Rome

Comacine Panel from the Church of San Clemente, Rome
Frescoes in the Subterranean Church of San Clemente, Rome
Church of Sta. Costanza, Rome .......

Door of the Church of S. Marcello at Capua ....

Ancient Sculpture in Monza Cathedral

Comacine Capital in San Zeno, Verona

Basilica of S. Frediano at Lucca .......

Fa9ade of San Michele at Pavia .......

Tracing of an old print of the Tosinghi Palace, a mediaeval building once

in Florence, with Laubia on the front .....

Tower of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, Rome

Byzantine Altar in the Church of S. Ambrogio, Milan
Fresco in the Spanish Chapel, S. Maria Novella, Florence .

Door of the Church of San Michele, Pavia

Comacine Knot on a panel at S. Ambrogio, Milan . . . ,
Sculpture from Sant' Abbondio, Como .....

Pulpit in the Church of S. Ambrogio, Milan

Door of a Chapel in S. Prassede, Rome ......

Pluteus from S. Marco del Precipazi, now in S. Giacomo, Venice .
Comacine Capitals .........

Exterior of San Piero a Grado, Pisa .......

Comacine Capital in San Zeno, Verona, emblematizing Man clinging to

Christ (the Palm)

Capital in the Atrium of S. Ambrogio, Milan

The West Door, St. Bartholomew, Smithfield ....
South Side of the Choir, St. Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield .
Palazzo del Popolo and Palazzo Comunale, Todi ....
Fiesole Cathedral. Interior



Frontispiece


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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



S. Clemente, Rome. Interior showing ancient screen

Tower of S. ApoUinare Nuovo, Ravenna

Tower of S. Satyrus. Milan ....

S. ApoUinare in Classe, Ravenna ....

Door of the Church of S. Zeno at Verona

Baptistery at Parma, designed by Benedetto da Antelamo

Facade of Ferrara Cathedral

Church of S. Antonio, Padua

Tomb of Can Signorio degli Scaligeri at Verona

Interior of Pisa Cathedral

Pulpit in the Church of S. Giovanni Fuorcivitas, Pistoja
Church of S. Michele, Lucca ....
Cathedral of Lucca (San Martino) ....
Pulpit in Church of S. Bartolommeo, Pistoja
Church of S. Andrea, Pistoja ....

Church of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas, Pistoja

Church of S. Maria, Ancona

Door of S. Giusto at Lucca ....

Pilaster of the Door of the Cathedral of Beneventum
Baptismal Font in Church of S. Frediano, Lucca .
Pulpit in the Church of Groppoli near Pistoja

Pulpit in Siena Cathedral

The Riccardi Palace, built for Lorenzo dei Medici .
Tomb of Mastino II. degli Scaligeri, at Verona .
Capital of a Column in the Ducal Palace, Venice .
Doorway of the Municipal Palace at Perugia

Palazzo Pubblico at Perugia

Court of the Bargello, Florence ....

Tower of Palazzo Vecchio at Florence

Eighth-century Wall Decoration in Subterranean Church of

Rome ...••••'•
Frescoes of the eighth century in the Subterranean Church of S.

Clemente, Rome, with portraits of the Patron Beno di Rapizo and

his Family

Interior of Church of San Piero a Grado near Pisa, with Frescoes of the

ninth century .....

Figures from paintings in Assisi by Magister Giunta of Pisa

Fresco at S. Gimignano ....•••••

Front of Siena Cathedral ........

Door in Orvieto Cathedral

Monument to Cardinal de Braye

Palazzo Vecchio, Florence • •

Shrine in Or San Michele, Florence

Small Cloister of the Certosa of Pavia



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. Clemente,



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268

270
272
278
296

300

314
316

332
358



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Marble Work on the Roof of Milan Cathedral .....

Capital in Milan Cathedral ........

North Door of Como Cathedral, sculptured by Tommaso Rodari .

Renaissance Front of the Church of the Certosa at Pavia .

ra9ade of Monza Cathedral ........

The Cathedral and Broletta at Como ......

The Ca d'Oro, Venice

Ducal Palace at Venice. The side built by the Buoni Family .

Court of the Ducal Palace at Venice .......

Apse of the Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo on the Coelian Hill, Rome
Basilica of S. V^oXo fuori le tnura, Rome .....

Pulpit in Church of S. Cesareo in Palatio, Rome. Mediaeval Sculpture
inlaid in Mosaic ..........

Candelabrum in S. Paolo at Rome .......



Xlll

To face page 364
366
368
378
380
382
388
390
392
404
406

408

412



BOOK I

ROMANO-LOMBARD ARCHITECTS



/



THE CATHEDRAL BUILDERS

CHAPTER I

THE GUILD OF THE COMACINE MASTERS

In looking back to the great church-building era, i. e. to
the centuries between iioo and 1500, do not the questions
arise in one's mind, " How did all these great and noble
buildings spring up simultaneously in all countries and all
climates ? " and " How comes it that in all cases they were
similar to each other at similar times ? "

In the twelfth century, when the Italian buildings, such
as the churches at Verona, Bergamo, Como, etc., were built
with round arches, the German Domkirchen at Bonn,
Mayence, Treves, Lubeck, Freiburg, etc. ; the French
churches at Aix, Tournus, Caen, Dijon, etc. ; and the
English cathedrals at Canterbury, Bristol, Chichester, St.
Bartholomew's in London — in fact, all those built at the
same time — were not only round-arched, but had an almost
identical style, and that style was Lombard.

In the thirteenth century, when pointed arches mingled
with the round in Italy, the same mixture is found con-
temporaneously in all the other countries.

Again in the fourteenth century, when Cologne, Stras-
burg, and Magdeburg cathedrals were built in pure
Gothic ; then those of Westminster, York, Salisbury, etc.,
arose in England ; the Domes of Milan, Assisi, and



4 THE CATHEDRAL BUILDERS

Florence in Italy ; and the churches of Beauvais, Laon,
and Rouen in France. These all came, almost simul-
taneously, like sister buildings with one impronto on
them all.

Is it likely that many single architects in different
countries would have had the same ideas at the same time ?
Could any single architect, indeed, have designed every
detail of even one of those marvellous complex buildings ?
or have executed or modelled one-tenth of the wealth of
sculpture lavished on one of those glorious cathedrals ?
I think not.

The existence of one of these churches argues a plurality
of workers under one governing influence ; the existence of
them all argues a huge universal brotherhood of architects
and sculptors with different branches in each country, and
the same aims, technique, knowledge and principles per-
meating through all, while each conforms in detail to local
influences and national taste.

If we once realize that such a Guild must have existed,
and that under the united hands of the grand brotherhood,
the great age of church-building was endowed with monu-
ments which have been the glory of all ages, then much
that has been obscure in Art History becomes clear ; and
what was before a marvel is now shown to be a natural
result.

There is another point also to be considered. The
great age of church-building flourished at a time when
other arts and commerce were but just beginning. Whence,
out of the dark ages, sprang the skill and knowledge to
build such fine and scuplturesque edifices, when other
trades were in their infancy, and civic and communal life
scarcely organized ?

It is indeed a subject of wonder how the artists of the
early period of the rise of Art were trained. Here we
find men almost in the dark ages, who were the most splen-



THE GUILD OF THE COMACINE MASTERS 5

did architects, and at the same time sculptors, painters, and
even poets. How, for instance, did Giotto, a boy taken
from the sheep-folds, learn to be a painter, sculptor, and
architect of such rank that the city of Florence chose him
to be the builder of the Campanile ? Did he learn it
all from old Cimabue's frescoes, and half Byzantine
tavole ? and how did he prove to the city that he was a
qualified architect ? We find him written in the archives
as Magister Giotto, consequently he must have passed
through the school and laborermm of some guild where
every branch of the arts was taught, and have graduated
in it as a master.

All these thino^s will become more and more clear as
we follow up the traces of the Comacine Guild from the
chrysalis state, in which Roman art hybernated during the
dark winter of the Middle Ages, through the grub state
of the Lombard period, to the glorious winged flights of
the full Gothic of the Renaissance.

And first as to the chrysalis, at litde Como. The origin
of the name Comacine Masters has caused a great deal of
argument amongst Italian writers new and old. Some
think it merely a place-name referring to the island of
Comacina, in Lake Lario or Como ; others take a wider
significance, and say it means not only the city of Como,
but all the province, which was once a Roman colony of
great extension. Others again, among whom is Grotius,
suggest that it is not a place-name at all, but comes from
the Teutonic word Gemachin or house-builders. As the
Lono-obards afterwards called them in Italian Maestri
Casarii, which means the same thing, there is perhaps
something to be said for this hypothesis.

The first to draw attention to the name Magistri
Comacini, was the erudite Muratori, that searcher out of
ancient MSS., who unearthed from the archives an edict,
dated November 22, 643, signed by King Rotharis, in which



6 THE CATHEDRAL BUILDERS

are included two clauses treating of the Magistri Coma-
cini and their colleagues. The two clauses, Nos. 143 and
144, out of the 388 inscribed in crabbed Latin, are, when
anglicized, to the following intent —

"Art. 143. Of the M agister Comacinus. If the
Comacine Master with his colliganti (colleagues) shall have
contracted to restore or build the house of any person
whatsoever, the contract for payment being made, and it
chances that some one shall die by the fall of the said house,
or any material or stones from it, the owner of the said
house shall not be cited by the Magister Comacijttts or his
brethren to compensate them for homicide or injury ; be-
cause having for their own gain contracted for the payment
of the building, they must sustain the risks and injuries
thereof."^

"Art. 144. Of the engaging or hiring of Magistri.
If any person has engaged or hired one or more of the
Comacine Masters to design a work {conduxerit ad operant
dictandam), or to daily assist his workmen in building a
palace or a house, and it should happen that by reason of
the house some Comacine should be killed, the owner of
the house is not considered responsible ; but if a pole or a
stone shall kill or injure any extraneous person, the Master
builder shall not bear the blame, but the person who hired
him shall make compensation."^

^ " Si Magister Comacinus, cum collegis suis, domum ad restaurandum,
vel fabricandum super se placito finito de mercede susceperit, et contigerit
aliquem per ipsam domum aut materiam, aut lapide lapso moti, aut quod-
libet damnum fieri, non requiratur domino, cuius domus fuerit, nisi
Magister Comacinus cum consortibus suis ipsum homicidium aut damnum
componat, qui postquam fabulam firmatam de mercede pro suo lucro
susciperit, non immerito sustinet damnum."

2 " Si quis Magister Comacinum unum aut plures rogaverit, aut con-
duxerit ad operam dictandum, aut solatium diurnum praestandum inter
suos servos ad domum aut casam faciendam et contigerit per ipsam
casam, aliquem ex ipsis Comacinis mori non requiratur ab ipso, cuius casa
est. Nam si cadens arbor, aut lapis ex ipsa fabrica, et occiderit aliquem



THE GUILD OF THE COMACINE MASTERS 7

These laws prove that in the seventh century the
Magistri Comacini were a compact and powerful guild,
capable of asserting their rights, and that the guild
was properly organized, having degrees of different ranks ;
that the higher orders were entitled Magistri, and could
*' design " or " undertake " a work ; — i e. act as architects ;
and that the colligantes worked under, or with, them. In
fact, a powerful organization altogether ; — so powerful and
so solid, that it speaks of a very ancient foundation.

But when and how did it originate ?

Was it a surviving branch of the Roman Collegium ? a
decadent group of Byzantine artists stranded in Italy ? or
was it of older Eastern origin ? A clever logician could
prove it to be all three.

For the Roman theory, he could base his arguments on
the Latin nomenclature of officials, and the Latin form of
the churches.

For the Byzantine theory, he would have the style of
certain ornamentations, and the assertions of German
writers, such as M tiller, and Stieglitz.

For the ancient Eastern theory, he might plead their
Hebrew and Oriental symbolism.

We will take the Byzantine theory first. M tiller {Archaeo-
logie der Ktmst, p. 224) says that : " From Constantinople
as the centre of mechanical skill, a knowledge of art radiated
to distant countries, corporations of builders of Grecian birth
were permitted to exercise a judicial government among
themselves according to the laws of the country to which
they owed allegiance;" and Stieglitz, in his History of
Architecture, records a tradition that at the time the
Lombards were in possession of Northern Italy, i. e. from
the sixth to the eighth century, the Byzantine builders

extraneum, aut quodlibet damnum fecerit, non reputelur culpa magistro,
sed ille qui conduxit, ipsum damnum sustineat." — From the Edict of
Rotharis — edited by Troyes.



\y



8 THE CATHEDRAL BUILDERS

formed themselves into guilds and associations, and that on
account of having received from the Popes the privilege of
living according to their own laws and ordinances, they were
called Freemasons. 1 Italian and Latin writers, however,
place the advent of these Greek artists at a later period ;
they are supposed to have been sculptors, who, rebelling
ao-ainst the strict Iconoclasm of Leo, the I saurian —
718 A.D. to 741 — came over to Italy where art was more
free, and joined the Collegia there.

But at this time most of the chief Longobardic churches
were already built by the Comacine Masters, and were
Roman in form, mediaeval in ornamentation, and full of
ancient symbolism. Herr Stieglitz must have pre-datedhis
tradition. Besides this I can find no sign in Italian build-
ings, or writers about them, of any lasting Byzantine
influence. Indeed pure Byzantine architecture in Italy
seems sporadic and isolated, not only in regard to site, but
in regard to time. The Ravenna mosaics, a few in Rome,
a little work in Venice, is all one can call absolutely Byzan-
tine ; and the influence never spread far. The Comacine
ornamentation indeed has qualities utterly distinct in spirit,
though in some of its forms allied to Byzantine. It is
possible that some of these Eastern exiles joined the Coma-
cine Guild, but there is quite enough in the communications
of Como with the Greeks, to account for their having im-
bibed as much as they did of Byzantine style. Some of



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