Catalogue of the Retrospective Loan Exhibition of European Tapestries
SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF ART
RETROSPECTIVE LOAN EXHIBITION
WITH A PREFACE BY
J. NILSEN LAURVIK
PUBLISHED BY THE MUSEUM
Published September 29, 1922, in an edition of2000 copies. Copyright, 1922, by San FranciscoMuseum of Art. Reprinted November 15, 1922,500 copies.
Printed by TAYLOR & TAYLOR, San Francisco.In the making of the type-design for the cover, theprinter has introduced an illuminated fifteenth-centurywoodcut by an unknown master. Its originalappears, illuminated as shown, in "L'Istoire de laDestruction de Troye la Grant," a book printedat Paris, dated May 12, 1484, of which only asingle copy is known to exist, that in the RoyalLibrary at Dresden, this reproduction having beenmade from the excellent facsimile of the block shownin Claudin's "Histoire de l'Imprimerie en France."The border-design of the cover is composed of thenames of the chief tapestry-producing cities in Europeduring the Gothic and Renaissance periods.
Halftones made by Commercial Art Company, SanFrancisco.
This historical exhibition of European Tapestries is the fourth in a series of retrospectiveexhibitions which we have planned to illustrate the chronological developmentof some important phase of world-art, as in the Old Masters Exhibition, heldin the fall of 1920, or of the art of an individual in whose work is significantlyreflected the spirit of his age, as in the J. Pierpont Morgan Collection of drawingsand etchings by Rembrandt, exhibited here in the spring of 1920.
In its scope and general lines this exhibition follows closely the plan of our Exhibitionof Paintings by Old Masters, and, as will at once be apparent from thesubject-matter and treatment, covers the same period of European history. Althoughimportant exhibitions of European tapestries have been held at various times bothhere and abroad, it has remained for our museum to arrange the first completehistorical survey of this art given in America. This collection presents in unbrokensequence the main currents influential in the development and decadence of thegreat art of tapestry-weaving in Europe, from the XIVth century down to andincluding the early XIXth century, as exhibited in the work of the foremost designersand weavers of the period, in examples that, for the most part, are brilliantlytypical and always characteristic of their particular style.
Virtually, every loom of importance in France, Flanders, Germany, Switzerland,Spain, England, and Russia is here represented by historically famous pieces whichrun the entire gamut of subjects that engaged the interest of the most celebrateddesigners and weavers of each epoch, from allegorical, classical, historical, andmythological to genre subjects, landscapes, religious pieces, and even portraits andstill-life subjects. The only omissions of any consequence are the Italian looms andSoho, and the output of these was relatively small and the examples extant are veryscarce. However, their absence does not materially affect the historical integrity ofthe exhibition as a whole. On the other hand, the Gothic series is perhaps the mostcomplete assemblage of all the most important types ever brought together at onetime in this country, and every important type of Renaissance design is hereincluded; the collection comprises two of the excessively rare products of theFontainebleau ateliers, as well as unusually fine specimens of the relatively scarceexamples of the Spanish and Russian looms.
My chief concern in organizing this exhibition has been to make it exemplify,first, the history of tapestry, and, second, its śsthetic qualities as these haveappeared during the different periods of its changing and varying development,which, like the art of painting, had its naÔve, primitive beginnings, its gloriousculmination, and its decline. Therefore, every piece has been selected both to representa distinct and significant type in the chronology of the art and to illustrate theartistic merits of that type, and all the tapestries shown are of the highest worth intheir particular category and many of them are among the supreme masterpiecesof European art, considered from whatever point of view one may choose to regardthem. Only too long have these noble products of the loom been relegated to asecondary place in the history of European culture, which they did so much tocelebrate. I sincerely trust that this exhibition, culled from seventeen collectionsin New York, San Francisco, and Paris, may successfully contribute somethingtoward abolishing the hypnotic spell of the gold-framed oil-painting, that artisticfetish which too long has held the uncritical enthralled to the exclusion of otherand ofttimes more authentic manifestations of the human spirit in art.
Regarded from the standpoint of design alone, the extraordinary co-ordination ofcolor and pattern (not to speak of the depth and richness of the inner content)exhibited in certain of these pieces is a sharp challenge to the oft-repeated distinctiondrawn between the major and the minor arts, and one is constrained, afterstudying these tapestries, to conclude that there are no major or minor arts, onlymajor and minor artists, and that greatness transfigures the material to the pointof art, be it paint or potter's clay, and a simple Tanagra transcends in worth allthe gilded and bejeweled banalities of Cellini, whose essentially flamboyant soulsought refuge in gold and precious stones. This truth, too rarely insisted upon, isof prime importance in any consideration of art, whether it be "fine" or appliedart, and a collection such as this should do much to make it clear. Here one mayobserve how the principles of design and color that animate the immortal masterpiecesof mural painting are identical with those that give life and vitality to thesemasterpieces of the loom, and thereby apprehend something of that mysteriouslaw governing the operation of the creative impulse which finds its expression inall the arts, irrespective of time and place, whether it be in rugs, porcelains, Persiantiles and manuscripts, in European primitives, or in the works of Chinese andJapanese old masters, transcending racial differences and attaining a universalaffinity that makes a Holbein one with a Chinese ancestral portrait. Surely suchopulent fantasy of design and color as is revealed in Nos. 1, 3, 5, and 17, to mentiononly four of the Gothic pieces in the collection, is deserving of something betterthan the left-handed compliment of a comparison with painting.
In their masterly filling of the allotted space, in the fine subordination of thevaried details to the general effect, as well as in the loftiness and intensity of theemotion expressed, these glorious products of the loom are worthy exemplars of thehighest ideals of mural decoration no less than of the aristocratic art of tapestry-weaving.Reflections such as these are the natural consequence of a comparativestudy of art, and these and kindred reasons are the impelling causes prompting oneto exhibit, not only tapestries, but rugs and textiles of all kinds, in an art museumand to give them the same serious study one would accord a Leonardo, a Giotto, aRembrandt. ∆sthetically and racially, they are no less revealing and frequentlymore interesting in that they are the products of the earliest expressions of thoseśsthetic impulses the manifestation of which has come to be called art; nor arethey less authentic and expressive because communicated with the force anddirectness of the primitive loom, which give to all its products a certain characterand worth rarely equaled by the more sophisticated products of the so-called finearts.
It is our hope that this catalogue will serve as a helpful guide to all those wishingto make such use of this collection. Every serious student of the subject no lessthan every unbiased specialist will, I am sure, appreciate at its true worth thescholarly work done by Dr. Ackerman, whose researches have made such a textpossible. Bringing to the task a critical judgment and a scientific method of analysishitherto applied almost exclusively to the identification and interpretation ofprimitive paintings, the author has been able to correct several well-establishederrors and to throw new light on many doubtful and obscure points which are sowell documented as should make them contributions of permanent value to theliterature of the subject.
In conclusion we wish to thank Messrs. William Baumgarten & Company, C.Templeton Crocker, Demotte, Duveen Brothers, P. W. French & Company, A. J.Halow, Jacques Seligmann & Company, Dikran K. Kelekian, Frank Partridge, Inc.,W. & J. Sloane, William C. Van Antwerp, Wildenstein & Company, and MesdamesJames Creelman, William H. Crocker, Daniel C. Jackling, and Maison Jamarin ofParis, for their kindness in lending us these priceless examples of the Europeanweavers' art that constitute this notable assemblage of tapestries, and to record ourdeep appreciation of the generous co-operation of the patrons and patronesses whosesponsorship has made the exhibition possible by guaranteeing the very considerableexpense involved in bringing the collection to San Francisco. And last, but notleast, we wish to express our grateful appreciation of the unremitting thought andattention devoted by the printer to designing and executing the very fitting typographicalform that contributes so largely to making the varied material containedherein readily available to the reader, and to acknowledge, on behalf of the author,the friendly help of Arthur Upham Pope, whose suggestions and criticisms havebeen found of real value in the preparation of the text of the catalogue.
J. NILSEN LAURVIK, Director
San Francisco, September 29, 1922.
The patrons and patronesses of the Exhibition are: Messrs. William C. Van Antwerp,Edwin Raymond Armsby, Leon Bocqueraz, Francis Carolan, C. Templeton Crocker,Sidney M. Ehrman, William L. Gerstle, Joseph D. Grant, Walter S. Martin, JamesD. Phelan, George A. Pope, Laurance Irving Scott, Paul Verdier, John I. Walter, MichelD. Weill, and Mesdames A. S. Baldwin, C. Templeton Crocker, Henry J. Crocker,William H. Crocker, Marcus Koshland, Eleanor Martin, George A. Pope, and MissesHelen Cowell and Isabel Cowell, and The Emporium.
THE SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF ART
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
WILLIAM C. VAN ANTWERP, EDWIN RAYMOND ARMSBY
ARTHUR BROWN, JR., FRANCIS CAROLAN, CHARLES W. CLARK
CHARLES TEMPLETON CROCKER
WILLIAM H. CROCKER, JOHN S. DRUM, SIDNEY M. EHRMAN
JOSEPH D. GRANT, DANIEL C. JACKLING
WALTER S. MARTIN, JAMES D. PHELAN, GEORGE A. POPE
LAURANCE I. SCOTT, RICHARD M. TOBIN
JOHN I. WALTER
J. NILSEN LAURVIK
THE MUSEUM IS HOUSED IN THE PALACE OF FINE ARTS
ERECTED BY THE PANAMA-PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL
EXPOSITION IN 1915
For a detailed list of the tapestries
catalogued herein see the subject and title index at
the end of the volume
|LIST OF WEAVERS||58|
|SUBJECT AND TITLE INDEX||61|
|MAP||Facing Page 16|
|Showing the principal centers of production of Gothic and early |
|The Annunciation||Facing Page 24|
|The Annunciation, the Nativity, and the Announcement to the Shepherds||26|
|Scenes from the Roman de la Rose||27|
|Entombment on Millefleurs||31|
|Millefleurs with Shepherds and the Shield of the Rigaut Family||32|
|The Creation of the World||34|
|Four Scenes from the Life of Christ||35|
|The Triumph of David||38|
|Two Pairs of Lovers||39|
|Hannibal Approaches Scipio to Sue for Peace||40|
|Cyrus Captures Astyages, His Grandfather||41|
|Triumph of Diana||46|
|Scene from the History of Cleopatra||48|
|Verdure with Dancing Nymphs||50|
|The Conquest of Louis the Great||51|
|The Poisoning of a Spy||54|
|The Arms of France and Navarre||55|