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Renaissance Fancies and Studies Being a Sequel to Euphorion   By: (1856-1935)

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First Page:

RENAISSANCE FANCIES AND STUDIES:

BEING A SEQUEL TO EUPHORION

BY VERNON LEE

LONDON SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACE 1895

[ All rights reserved ]

Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO. At the Ballantyne Press

TO

MY DEAR FRIENDS MARIA AND PIER DESIDERIO PASOLINI

EASTER 1895

PREFACE

These essays being mainly the outcome of direct personal impressions of certain works of art and literature, and of the places in which they were produced, I have but few acknowledgments to make to the authors of books treating of the same subject. Among the exceptions to this rule, I must mention foremost Professor Tocco's Eresia nel Medio Evo , Monsieur Gebhart's Italie Mystique , and Monsieur Paul Sabatier's St. François d'Assise .

I am, on the other hand, very deeply indebted to the conversation and advice of certain among my friends, for furnishing me second hand a little of that archæological and critical knowledge which is now a days quite unattainable save by highly trained specialists. My best thanks, therefore, to Miss Eugénie Sellers, editor of Furtwängler's "Masterpieces of Greek Sculpture;" to Mr. Bernhard Berenson, author of "Venetian Painters," and a monograph on Lorenzo Lotto; and particularly to my friend Mrs. Mary Logan, whose learned catalogue of the Italian paintings at Hampton Court is sufficient warrant for the correctness of my art historical statements, which she has had the kindness to revise.

MAIANO, NEAR FLORENCE,

April 1895.

CONTENTS PAGE

PREFACE ix

THE LOVE OF THE SAINTS 1

THE IMAGINATIVE ART OF THE RENAISSANCE 65

TUSCAN SCULPTURE 135

A SEEKER OF PAGAN PERFECTION, BEING THE LIFE OF DOMENICO NERONI, PICTOR SACRILEGUS 163

VALEDICTORY 233

THE LOVE OF THE SAINTS

I

"Panis Angelicus fit panis hominum. O res mirabilis, manducat Dominum Pauper, Servus et Humilis." These words of the Matins of the Most Holy Sacrament I heard for the first time many years ago, to the beautiful and inappropriate music of Cherubini. They struck me at that time as foolish, barbarous, and almost gross; but since then I have learned to think of them, and in a measure to feel of them, as of something greater and more solemn than all the music that Cherubini ever wrote.

All the hymns of the same date are, indeed, things to think upon. They affect one the "Stabat Mater," for instance, and the "Ave Verum" very much in the same way as the figures which stare down, dingy green and blue, from the gold of the Cosmati's mosaics: childish, dreary, all stiff and agape, but so solemn and pathetic, and full of the greatest future. For out of those Cosmati mosaics, and those barbarous frescoes of the old basilicas, will come Giotto and all the Renaissance; and out of those Church songs will come Dante; they are all signs, poor primitive rhymes and primitive figures, that the world is teeming again, and will bear, for centuries to come, new spiritual wonders. Hence the importance, the venerableness of all those mediæval hymns. But of none so much, to my mind, as of those words I have quoted from the Matins of the Most Holy Sacrament

"O res mirabilis, manducat Dominum, Pauper, Servus et Humilis."

For their crude and pathetic literality, their image of the Godhead actually giving Himself, as they emphatically say, to be chewed by the poor and humble man and the serf, show them to have been most especially born, abortions though they be, in the mightiest throes of mystical feeling, after the incubation of whole nations, born of the great mediæval marriage, sublime, grotesque, morbid, yet health bringing, between abstract idealising religious thought and the earthly affections of lovers and parents a strange marriage, like that of St. Francis and Poverty, of which the modern soul also had to be born anew... Continue reading book >>




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