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we have but few surviving remains. There is one little room, however, on the east side of the Clock Court, called "the Cardinal's Closet," which, though much reduced in size and injured by time, preserves in many essentials its pristine state. It is now open to public inspection, and is described in the author's New Guide to the Palace, p. 150. The ceiling is the chief point of interest, and is very beautiful, being of pure cinque-cento design in octagonal panels, with decorative scroll-work and other ornaments in relief. The ribs are of moulded wood, with balls and leaden leaves at their intersections: these, and the ornamental work within the panels, are gilt, the ground being of light blue. It is observable
that Cavendish, in the poem already quoted, makes particular reference to the roofs with gold and byse," byse being a rich light blue paint :
“My buildings sumptuous, the roofs with gold and byse,
Shone like the sun in mid day sphere
With images embossed, most lively did appear ;
Expertest artificers that were both far and near,
Thus I wanted nought my pleasures to fulfil.” Round the upper portion of the walls, on two sides, is a finely wrought cornice or frieze, in the same style as the ceiling, recalling the lines :
"Nor did there want
The roof was fretted gold. The whole decoration of this room, faded though it is by time, gives us that idea of splendour and richness, without SPLENDID DECORATION OF WOLSEY'S ROOMS. 27
gaudiness, which was characteristic of the artistic taste of the great Cardinal.
Some further traces of the decoration of Wolsey's rooms are also to be found in the suite already referred to, behind
the colonnade in the Clock Court. The finest is a large and lofty chamber with a deep-bayed oriel window, abutting on the court, and with a beautiful ceiling. An adjoining room has a ceiling of like nature, exhibiting the Cardinal's hat, his crosses, and his pole-axes crossed, with other devices. The walls were of course originally hung with tapestries of silk and gold, and the windows ablaze with coloured glass. Two other rooms of this apartment have their walls covered with oak panelling of two different varieties of the linenfold pattern.
All his other chambers were equally resplendent. “One has to traverse eight rooms," says the Venetian ambassador, who frequently visited him at his country residence, “before one reaches his audience chamber, and they are all hung with tapestry, which is changed once a week.” Du Bellay, also, who came over to England on a diplomatic mission with Anne de Montmorency, and was entertained with the rest of his suite with great magnificence at Hampton Court, bears similar testimony to its gorgeousness.
“ The very bed-chambers had hangings of wonderful value, and every place did glitter with innumerable vessels of gold and silver. There were two hundred and four score beds, the furniture to most of them being silk, and all for the entertainment of strangers only."
The whole furniture of Wolsey's palace was on the same scale of splendour as its decoration. It threw the King's quite into the shade. Foreigners just arrived from the Courts of France, Germany, Spain, and Italy, were filled with amazement at his magnificence. Nothing like it had ever been seen before out of Rome. For tapestry he seems to have had a perfect passion. His agents ransacked the Continent for the choicest products of the looms of Flanders ; and in the year of the meeting of Henry and Francis at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, we find him in correspondence with Sir Richard Gresham, the father of the more famous Sir Thomas, the founder of the Royal Exchange, with regard to the purchase of arras wholesale.
Such profane and worldly luxury on the part of an ecclesiastic could not fail to fall under the puritanic lash of the malignant Skelton, who comments severely on his "building royally" such “mansions curiously":
“With turrets and with towers
WOLSEY'S MAGNIFICENT TAPESTRIES.
His dart, and bent his bow,
From the allusions in these verses, it would seem that Skelton had actually seen some of the tapestries that decorated Wolsey's palaces. That he was thoroughly familiar, at any rate, with one set belonging to Wolsey, three pieces of which still hang on the walls of Hampton Court, is certain. We refer to the “Six Triumphs," entered in the Cardinal's Inventory of which we can at once identify three, those of Renown, Time, and Death, as being those now hung in Henry VIII.'s Great Watching or Guard Chamber. Duplicates of the Triumphs of Death and Fame are in the South Kensington Museum, where may be also seen the Triumph of Chastity. When we consider that £3,000 was given a few years ago for the three pieces in the Museum, and that Wolsey's set of six formed but an insignificant portion of his whole collection, we can arrive at some idea of the value and richness of the hundreds of hangings that shone on the walls of his palace.
We need not describe in detail here these beautiful “triumphs." It will be sufficient to observe that, belonging to the finest period of Flemish art, before the influence of the Italian Renaissance had made itself felt, they are as interesting for the cleverness of the design, as for the harmony of colour and the delicacy of workmanship. Every piece contains two distinct aspects of the triumph, represented under a mystical or allegorical form; and over each part is worked a scroll, with quaint old French verses or legends, in black letter, indicating the moral of the allegory beneath. One of these—that above the Triumph of Fate over Chastity -may be cited as a specimen :
Combienque . l'omme . soit . chaste . tout . pudique
A . cela . la . mort . tous . les . bivans . amovie. In each piece a female, emblematic of the influence of which the triumph is celebrated, is shown enthroned on a gorgeously magnificent car, drawn by elephants, or unicorns, or bulls, richly caparisoned and decorated; while around them throng a host of attendants and historical personages typical of