Studio: international art — 16.1899

Page: 184
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A. H. Mackmurdo

but conscientiously drew up and finished his plans nothing less than a revelation ; and Mr. Mack-
with his own hands. Mr. Mackmurdo, reversing murdo promptly succumbed to the spell of the
the usual order of events, next went up to Oxford, Renaissance. With all a neophyte's enthusiasm
and it is from that time, when he had the privilege he determined to assimilate as much as he might
of knowing John Ruskin, that he dates the most of the spirit of his new surroundings. He obtained
powerful impulse of his life as an artist. Ruskin's the fullest facilities for sketching, taking measure-
advice to the young student was to undertake a ments and even casts of practically anything he
systematic study of Gothic cathedrals, whereby, be wanted in the Duomo and other public places in
it observed, both professor and disciple under- Florence. To such effectual purpose did Mr.
stood not the fifteenth century perfection of build- Mackmurdo avail himself of the opportunities
ing in which all previous traditional development afforded him that he brought away a considerable
culminated, but rather the crude and tentative collection of models and drawings, not of purely
forms of the thirteenth century. Accordingly Mr. architectural work only, but also of furniture,
Mackmurdo set about making elaborate measured textile patterns, and other ornamental details,
drawings of Wells Cathedral, and, these studies com- Moreover, he acquired a number of original
pleted, followed them up by a similar treatment of specimens of ancient workmanship, particularly of
some half-dozen cathedrals in France. As yet embroideries and woven fabrics. Such objects—
everything he had done was in strict accord with laws designed for the safeguarding of national
the precepts of Ruskin ; but in the pursuit of his monuments notwithstanding—were then and are
researches Mr. Mackmurdo's steps were tending still to be obtained much more easily than they
further and further southwards, until at last he ought to be, owing to the indifference of eccle-
found himself in Italy. The Rubicon (to speak siastics, who, alas ! set so little store by antiquity as
metaphorically at least) was now crossed. To his to be notoriously open to barter the inestimable
eyes, who had hitherto been reared in the heirlooms of their churches for novel abominations
straitest school of primitive Gothic, Florence was in the way of tinsel finery. Such wholesale and

reckless looting of church property
indeed is carried on, and that by the
very men who should be most jealous
mm m* W Mi guardians of the same, that the avail-

gMLHBB|HHBHflBl able reserve of sacred treasures percep-

tibly diminishes year by year, and, unless
more drastic measures than heretofore
iNHHPfwIBk ';l8B' are enforced, not in Italy alone but

S' JiBStr' nearer home too, the time will very

' ■HnHBi!! . ■vMEMI quickly arrive when there will be no-

thing left worth the trouble of either
keeping or carrying away.
mm Another instance of official careless-

ness to which Mr. Mackmurdo took
exception was that whereas, on occa-
sions when the Arno rises to the extent
i I of endangering the bazaar stalls with

which (like the Rialto at Venice and
y I the quays of the Seine in Paris) the

Ponte Vecchio is lined, the cheap and
paltry wares displayed for sale there
are all removed to a place of safety,
on the other hand the priceless Uffizi
drawings by old masters were allowed
to remain in their places where they
hung on the walls, and to take their
chance of being destroyed by inunda-
tion. Happily, however, this abuse has
embroidered screen designed (1884) by a. h. mackmurdo since been remedied.

184
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