- Der Meister der Apokalypsenrose der Saint Chapelle und die Pariser Buchkunst um 1500
The book is richly illustrated and clearly arranged, offering a comprehen-sive overview of a crucial moment in the history of art and in material culture. Nettekoven's engagement with both large- and small-scale art and imagery across media is courageous. It is also overdue, for we all too often rest in a context of connoisseurship that has encouraged scholarly isolation. The premodern artistic climate intertwined the designers of tapestries, book illumination, panel painting, and stained glass. Stained-glass designers, such as the early sixteenth-century Lowlands artist Dirick Vellert (known for his prints) for example, designed glass for such monumental settings as King's College Chapel, Cambridge and also executed stained glass roundels about the size of a dinner plate.
The clarity and structure of the book reflects its origins as Dr. Nettekoven's dissertation. The book is provided with an appendix of the works attributed to the artist and a very useful guide to the 238 illustrations. She introduces the issues and the artist's predecessors such as the Master of the Dreux Budé and the Cöetivy Master and then looks at a series of works in turn, beginning with arguably the most significant work in stained glass in France of its time, the west rose of the Sainte-Chapelle. Constructed by Louis IX to reflect France's acquisition of Passion relics, chief among them the Crown of Thorns, the chapel has long been recognized as an artistic watershed, both for architecture and for stained glass. She argues that Charles VIII's reconstruction of the 1243–48 rose, which took place shortly after 1482, in a flamboyant Gothic style signaled his commitment to fostering an artistic renaissance. The designer was a dominant figure of his time.
The Master of the Apocalypse Rose has been identified with a wide range of important works, including stained glass in the Parisian churches of St.-Severin and St.-Germain-l'Auxerrois, nine illuminated manuscripts, the renowned Unicorn tapestries of the Five Senses in the Musée de Cluny, Paris, and a much-weathered fresco of the Tree of Jesse in the church of Saint-Severin. Nettekoven concentrates on several books, such as the Hours of Nicolas Le Camus and the Heures de Séguier in the Musée Condée, with a large number of illustrations. These lavish works dazzle the eye, from the small-scale calendar illustrations to the full-page format. As one's eye become accustomed to shifts in scale and the materials of paper, glass, textile, and vellum, the characteristics of the artist become apparent. He is a master of symbolic composition, achieving at the same time the decorative and the didactic. The Cluny Unicorn Tapestries, for example, speak at once as heraldic signs and at the same time as intricate illustrations of human interaction and poems of longing and desire. The details of the Apocalypse Rose allow the reader unfamiliar with research on glass to see the scope afforded to the artist in such a medium. Stained glass permits images that incorporate a substratum of color overlaid with a graphic system similar to that used in the art of printing for highly dramatic results. [End Page 519]
Nettoken expands on studies of these one-of-a-kind objects to give equal weight to printed books and single-sheet prints, by which the artist exerted a widespread and lasting influence. Here is where the innovative focus is centered. Her analysis contains a chronological overview of publication beginning in 1491 that includes the great printing houses of the era, Simon Vostre, Thielman Kerver, and Anthoine Vérard. In the Bibliothèque nationale is an illustrated danse macabre of Charles VIII, and from the Huntington Library in California L'art de bien vivre and L'art de bien mourir. In viewing the printed books, the reader is led through the complexities of visual production, where designs by...