Notre Dame, Paris.
In 1921, Roy (republication Roy, 1929, 143) mentioned, without citing any specific documents, that Rosso had worked with the woodcarver Scibec de Carpi and the metal caster Gilles Jourdain on a choir screen (clôture) for Notre Dame in Paris.1 The documents of this project were published and fully considered by Catherine Grodecki, 1975, 99-115. What follows is derived from her article, the conclusions of which she had presented in a paper delivered in 1972. All the documents have been checked and newly transcribed here.
The choir screen that Rosso designed closed the east end of the Choir of Canons of Notre Dame, separating it from the sanctuary of the cathedral. At the very end of 1518, the fourteenth century stone choir screen – the “clausuram lapideam que est inter chorum et altare” – was ordered demolished by Francis I in order to provide more room for a ceremony celebrating a treaty between the French and English. After remonstrances from the canons, the king assured them that it would be replaced at his own expense by a choir screen of even finer workmanship.2 Between 1519 and 1521 the bronze caster (“fondeur de cuivre”) Etienne Barillet was paid for the making and installation of a choir screen that, because no other artisans are paid for work on this project, would seem to have been made entirely of bronze. The final settlement with Barillet, on 17 April 1521, indicates he was paid 1,224 “livres tournois” for his work.3 Thirteen years later, on 13 June 1534, the king donated another 1500 “livres” to be used “à la perfection de la closture de lasdite esglise,” which had been demolished for the ceremony to celebrate the treaty made between France and England twenty years earlier:
Paris, Arch. nat., J. 96110 no. 14 (Roole des expeditions Commandées par le Roy). “… Pour ladite somme de quinze cens livres estre convertie et employée à la perfection de la closture de ladite esglise [Notre Dame de Paris] qui a esté autreffoys rompue en une solempnité faicte par ledite Seigneuer avec les ambassadeurs d’Angleterre à cause de l’appoinctement faict entre les deux roys.”; on the verso of the document: “faict à Paris le XIIIe jour de juing mil VC XXXIIII” (mentioned by Grodecki, 1975, 100, 104, n. 10, 112, with incorrect reference to the Actes de François Ier).
On 26 September 1537 Rosso became a canon of Notre Dame, and attended a meeting of the chapter in the cathedral for the first time on 19 November 1537 (see DOCS.31-35, 37-41). But already on 27 October 1537 the Chapter of Notre Dame asked him to make a design for a bronze choir screen:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 140, p.120: “Rogabunt domini decanus et de Faulcon ex parte capituli dominum de Rossis, canonicum parisiensem, quatinus sibi placeat facere protractum clausure cupree choire ecclesie”; in the margin: “= pro clausura chori” (Grodecki, 1975, 112, Doc. V.(II.) 23).
On 7 December 1537 the chapter charged him, the dean, and the penitentiary to attend to the execution of the choir screen in bronze:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 140, p.148. “Domini decanus, penitenciarius et Roussi providebunt facienda clausure cupree chori ecclesie”; in the margin: “=clausura chori” (Grodecki, 1975, 112, Doc. V.(II.) 24).
In the middle of the following year, on 10 May 1538, the chapter approved an agreement that Rosso had made with the woodcarver Scibec de Carpi for the execution of the choir screen:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 140, p.234. “Visa in capitulo et lecta per Martin et Borreau, notariis castalleti parisiensis, minuta transactionis facte cum Carpy, lignifabro, super factura clausure chori ecclesie, placuit dominis in forma, et domini decanus, penitentiarus et de Rossis providebunt huic negocio prout eorum discretia suadebit”; in the margin: “= Carpy pro clausura chori” (Grodecki, 1975, 112, Doc. V.(II.) 25, and 104, n. 15, where it is stated that the minute of this agreement has not been found).
Three months later, on 30 August 1538, the chapter approved the agreement that Rosso had made with the metal caster of the region of Saint-Martin (identified below as Gilles Jourdain) for the execution of the choir screen:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 140, p.323. “Audito domino de Rossis super conventione facta, sub beneplacito capituli, cum certo fusore commoran[ti?] in vico sancti Martini parisiensi, pro facto clausure chori ecclesie perficiende, domini ad hoc deputati huic negocio vigilanter intendant”; in the margin: “clausura chori” (Grodecki, 1975, 112, Doc. V.(II.) 26).
On 4 December 1538 two canons were charged to look at the work of wood and bronze that had been made, and to search for some very fine black marble:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 140, p.384. “Videbunt domini penitenciarius et Courthon opus tam ligneum quam cupreum clausure chori eccte posthac advisabitur super[?] pecuniis tradendis ejus artificibus per eos respectus petitis et inquirat idem dominus Courthon super bono marmore nigro propter hoc habendo”; in the margin: “= clausura chori” (paraphrased by Grodecki, 1975, 112, Doc. V.(II.) 27).
Just a little more than a month later, on 10 January 1539, Rosso was asked by the chapter to look diligently for the black marble:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 140, p.405. “Dominus Rossius faciet diligenciam perquirendi marmor nigrum pro clausura chori et de precio illius cum mercatoribus conveniendi”; in the margin: “=marmor pro clausura” (Grodecki, 1975, 113, Doc. V.(II.) 28).
Nine months later, on 22 October 1539, the chapter accepted a new design (by Rosso as will be seen below) for a certain part of the choir screen:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 140, p.582. “Accipiat dominus Courchon, alter provisorum ecclesie, protractum certe partis clausura chori ejusdem ecclesie et super hoc erga quos decebit provideat”; in the margin: “clausura chori” (Grodecki, 1975, 113, Doc. V.(II.) 29).
On 14 November 1539 the chapter threatened Scibec de Carpi with a lawsuit to force him to meet the obligations of his agreement:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 140, p.595. “Cogat dominus Desaverelles via justicia Franciscum Carpy minutarium clausure chori ecclesie secundum tenozem sue obligationis propter hoc facere que videbitur crastina die in capitulo”; in the margin: “= Carpy” (paraphrased by Grodecki, 1975, 113, Doc. V.(II.) 30).
Early the following year, on 12 January 1540, the chapter decided to ask Gilles Jourdain and Scibec de Carpi to execute the casting and woodwork of the choir screen according to the indications of a new design (by Rosso, as indicated below) that had been presented to the chapter that same day:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 140, p.635. “Dominus Courchon solicitabit Egidium Jourdain, fusorem cupri parisiensem, pro fusione operis clausure chori ecclesie, juxta ordinacionem projecti hic exhibiti, necnon Franciscum Carpi, minutarium ligni”; in the margin: “=clausure chori” (Grodecki, 1975, 113, Doc. V.(II.) 31).
In the absence of Rosso seven months later, on 18 August 1540, the chapter decided to ask Gilles Jourdain and Scibec to stop their work until his return so that he could give his opinion on the advisability of payment to them:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 142, p.98. “Quoad operarios clausure chori ecclesie petentes pecunias pro eorum respectivis operibus, cessabunt hujusmodi eorum opera usque dominus de Rossis reverus et super hoc auditus fuerit”; in the margin: “=de clausura” (Grodecki, 1975, 113, Doc. V.(II.) 32).
On 14 November 1540 Rosso died (see DOCS.42-45).
Shortly thereafter, on 24-26 November 1540, the chapter decided to retain as its own the revenues of Rosso’s prebend as security for the execution of the work of Scibec de Carpi for whom Rosso had been the guarantor:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 142, p.170. “Videat dominus Morin obligationem Francisci Carpi minutarii pro factura clausure chori ecclesie et juxta tenorem ejusdem, prosequatur eumdem Carpi illam adimplere. Et quia defunctus dominus de Rossis semper respondit pro bona futura dispositione dicte clausure, nec habet dictus Carpi bona in his partibus quia alienigena, ordinatum est quod ponatur grossum prebende dicti defuncti in manibus capituli pro securitate dicte obligationis et responsionis pro dicto Carpi”; in the margin: “= de clausura chori” (Grodecki, 1975, 110, Doc. V.(I.) 11).
On 26 November 1540 a canon was sent to Machault, which belonged to Rosso’s prebend, to collect its income and hold it until the work on the choir screen was finished:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 142, p.171. “Levet dominus de Louviers, prebendatus apus Machellum, et maneant in ejus manibus fructus prebende defuncti domini de Rossis, dum viveret ibidem assignate, similiter et omnes distributiones ecclesie quas lucratus est in manibus magistri Nicolai Jourdain, officiarii ecclesie, quousque opus clausure chori dicte ecclesie juxta conventionem inter eum et capitulum propter hoc factam et pro quo dictus de Rossiis semper respondit et proprium suum factum de hoc fecit”; in the margin: “-De Rossis clausura chori” (Grodecki, 1975, 110, Doc. V.(I.) 12).
Exactly one month after Rosso died, the chapter, on 14 December 1540, filed a suit against Scibec in regard to the unfilled contract that had been made between him and the canons on the execution of the choir screen. The document of this suit is not known, but it is mentioned in another concerning a judgment before the prevost of Paris on 5 February 1541 (modern style; see below). Here Scibec’s attorney gives a defense of the woodcarver’s position by relating the entire account of his involvement in the project of the choir screen for Notre Dame. He states that shortly after Scibec made his contract with the canons (the document of which is not known unless it refers back to the approval by the canons of 10 May 1538 of Rosso’s agreement with Scibec), Rosso furnished Scibec with a drawing for the choir screen. From this drawing Scibec did a large part of the project; there remained only the making of the portal and the assembling onto the choir screen of the bronze and black marble parts that were to be supplied by the chapter. Then Rosso gave Scibec a second drawing – this would be related to the document of 22 October 1539 – which required twice or more work than the first one. This the woodcarver executed except for the last finishing touches and varnishing and the incorporation of the bronze and marble parts. At this point Rosso gave Scibec a third drawing indicating changes to the columns and to the entrance, a project that was very much more costly than the other ones. This drawing would be related to the document of 12 January 1540. The chapter had not yet furnished the bronze and black marble parts that they were now required to supply. The document of 5 February 1541 (modern style) is:
Paris, Arch. nat., L 538 (4) parchemin. “A tous ceulx qui ces presentes lectres verront, Jean d’Estoville chevalier, seigneur de Villebon la Gastine Blanville Boislandry Fretigny Vientes, cappitaine bailly de Rouen, conseiller du roy notre sire gentillhomme ordinaire de sa chambre, cappitaine de cinquante hommes d’armes des ordonnances du roy, garde de la prevosté de Paris. Salut. Savoir faisons que le jourdhuy, dacte de ces présentes, comparans en jugement devant nous ou chastellet de Paris, maistre Nicole Lallement, procureur des doyen et chapitre de l’église de Paris, demandeurs et soustenant la requeste contenue en leur adjournement libelle faict contre maistre Francisque de Carpy, menuisier, le quatorziesme jour decembre dernier passé, et maistre Jehan Peron, procureur du dic m(aistr)e Francisque de Carpy, deffendeur, qui a dict qu’il soustenoit ses deffences et offres baillées par escript au dict Lallement ou dict nom, et que incontinent ou tost après le dict marché passé, luy avoit esté baillé par feu m(aistr)e Rouce Le Roux, aultrement dict Jehan Baptiste, en son vivant chanoyne de la dict eglise et painctre et ymager du Roy nostre Sire, ung pourtraict de la decte closture, selon lequel des lors le dict deffendeur auroit besongné et faict grande quantité d’icelluy pourtraict; et ne restoit a faire de la dicte closture que le portal et entrée, ensemble a fournir par les dicts de chappitre le cuyvre et marbre noir qu’il convenoit mettre et assembler en la dicte closture et saincture. Et encores depuis ce, le dict deffunct Le Roux, autrement dict Jehan Baptiste, auroit et a baillyé au dict deffendeur ung aultre et second pourtraict, tellement qu’il auroit et a convenu au dict deffendeur de faire deux foys autant ou plus de besongne qu’il y avoit au dict premier pourtraict. Et y a le dict deffendeur besongné et faict besongner, et ne reste plus que a y assembler le cuyvre et marbre noir, et ce faict, reparer la dicte besongne et la vernir. Et que encores depuis, luy a esté baillé ung troisiesme pourtraict par le dicte deffunct Le Roux pour changer les pilliers et le portal de la dicte closture, qui est beaucoup de plus grant coustz que les autres; et se seroit le dict deffendeur rapporté a m(aistr)e Jacques Merlin, pénitencier de la dicte eglise et maistre Jacques Du Drac, doyen d’icelle, et au dict deffunct Le Roux pour ce qu’il estoit homme congnoissant au dict estat; et ne s’en feust rapporté au dict Du Drac et Merlin n’eust esté le dict Le Roux. Et au moyen de ce que les dicts de chappitre ne fournissent qu dict deffendeur du dict cuyvre et marbre, auroit et a gros dommaige et interestz, et auroit et a plusieurs serviteurs qui sans riens faire [?]. Et en livrant le quel cuivre et marbre noir, il offre parachever sans discontinuacion la dicte saincture, et icelle fournir en luy donnant delay compectant, et le payant de la totalité au dict de gens en ce congnoissant, sur ce desduict ce qu’il a receu. Et a ceste fin, a requis les dicts de chappitre estre condempnez a luy fournier et livrer lesdites pièces de cuyvre et marbre noir et en deffault de ce faire qu’ilz soiont condompnez es despens, dommiages et interestz, qu’il a estimé et estime a la somme de mil livres par(isis) ou telle autre somme que de raison. D’autre part, après ce que le dict Lallement a persevéré em sa requeste et denyé le dire et plaidoyé du deffendeur. Nous, parties oyes en leur plaidoyé, icelles avons appoincté et jour a elles assigné aux premières sentences que par nous seront données et prononcées audit chastellet a estre de nous dé libéré de faire droit aus dictes parties, ou autrement les appoincter comme de raison sera sur le plaidoyé faict entre elles qu’elle bailleront par advertissement devans huictaire et demandent et en deffendant par dracune desdites parties et pouront informer par devant notre amé m(aistr)e Jehan Bonnet, examinateur de par le Roy nostre seigneur ou dict Chastellet cum adjuncto qui vauldra enqueste; et pouront les dictes parties faire interogier l’une d’elles l’autre par le dict examinateur sur articles et interogatoires pertiens, qui leur seront comunicquez(?) avant que sur iceulx respondre et affin de despens, dommaiges et interestz. En tesmoing de ce, nous avons faict mectre a ces presentes le seel de la dicte prevosté. Ce fut faict par noble homme et saige maistre Jehan Jacques de Mesmes, conseiller du Roy nostre seigneur et lieutenant civil de la dicte prevosté, le samedi cinquiesme jour de fevrier l’an mil cinq cens quarante” (Grodecki, 1975, 106, Doc. I).
In spite of the action against Scibec, the chapter decided on 25 February 1541 to carry out the castings by Gilles Jourdain and to seek the opinion of a certain “master Dominic” on the wood carving that had been executed:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 142, p.232. “Continuabit opus cupreum clausure ecclesie Egidius Jourdain, fusor ejusdem, et sibi tradat dominus Morin pecunias necessarias, si quas pro hoc habeat. Domini vero archidiaconus Brye, Courchon et dictus Morin videbunt opus lignifabri dicte clausure, et viso, super aptitudine et convenientia futura ejusdem conferent cum quodam nomine magistro Dominico, et eum consulent quid sentiat super illo”; in the margin: “= clausura chori” (Grodecki, 1975, 113, Doc. V.(II.) 33).
A second court hearing took place on 22 August 1541, at which the chapter demanded from Scibec the drawing or drawings by Rosso in his possession so that copies could be made of them for its use, after which the original drawing or drawings would be returned to Scibec:
Paris, Arch. nat., L 538 (5) parchemin. “A tous ceulx qui ces presentes lettres verront, Jehan d’Estouteville, chevalier, seigneur de Villebon…, garde de la prevosté de Paris, salut. Savoir faisons que le jourdhuy, dacte de ces presentes, comparans en jugement devant nous ou chastellet de Paris, maistre Nicole Lalemant, procureur des doien et chappitre de l’eglise de Paris, demandeurs et deffendeurs d’une part, et maistre Jehan Peron, procurer de maistre Francisque Carpy, menuisier du Roy, deffendeur et demandeur d’aultre part : apres que le dict Lalement a declairé ne voulloir respondre au responsif dernier du dict Peron et requis appoinctement de faire enqueste, et aussi requis que le dict Carpy fut tenu mectre es mains du commissaire commis en la cause d’entre les dictes parties le portraict ou portraictz que le dict Carpy a dit avoit en sa possession et luy avoir esté bailléz par les dicts de chappitre ou feu maistre Jehan Baptiste Rossius de Rossiis, en son vivant chanoine de la dicte eglise, pour faire la closture et sainture du cueur d’icelle, pour les dicts pourtraitz estre communicquez aus dictz de chappitre et a leurs tesmoings, et si mestier estoit, en avoir et faire faire de pareilz, et a ceste fin, que le dict Carpy soit tenu se purger par serment de ce qu’il a des dictz portraictz, nous disons que le dict Carpy sera tenu mectre par devers le comissaire donné en la cause les dictz portraict ou pourtraictz de la dicte saincture du cueur de l’eglise de Paris, et ce purger par serment par devant le dict commissaire de ce qu’il a des dicts portraictz, pour iceulx portraictz estre communicquez aus dictz de chappitre et a leurs dictz tesmoings par les mains du dict commissaire, et si bon semble au dict chappitre, en avoir et faire faire des portraictz. Ce faict, les dictz portraictz ou portraict seront renduz au dict Carpy. Et au surplus dedens ung moys prochainement venant, les dictes parties feront et parferont leurs enquestres par devant le dict commissaire sur les faictz par chacune d’elles articullez ou dict procez. En tesmoing de ce, nous avons faict mectre a ces presentes le scel de la dicte prevosté de Paris. Ce fut faict le lundi vingt deuxiesme jour d’aoust, l’an mil cinq cens quarente ung” (Grodecki, 1975, 106-107, Doc. II).
Then on 11 January 1542 the chapter decided to have transported to the choir of Notre Dame the wood carvings by Scibec de Carpi to see if they could be used according to Rosso’s design:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 142, p.445. “Afferri faciat domini archidiaconus de Josayo et Hurtault sumptibus ecclesie ad chorum ejusdem minutariam clausure dicti chori quam fecit Franciscus Carpy, videndam si utiliter conveniat secumdum protractum sibi per defunctum dominum de Rossis, datos ut inde prout fuerit rationis ordinetur”; in the margin: “=de clausura chori” (Grodecki, 1975, 113, Doc. V.(II.) 34).
Twelve days later, on 23 January 1542, the chapter asked that Scibec de Carpi and Gilles Jourdain finish the choir screen:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 142, p.455. “Domini archidiaconus de Josayo et Hurtault alloquentur Carpy minutarium et Jourdain fusorem cupri clausure chori ecclesie ut hujusmodi opus perficiant et habeat iste Jourdain de pecunius arche thesauri xxti scuta super his que sibi deberi possint et debebuntur de qua summa rembursabitur dictus thesaurarius, quamqui dem summam exinde recepit dictus Jourdain”; in the margin: “=De clausura chori ecclesie” (paraphrased by Grodecki, 1975, 114, Doc. V.(II.) 35).
On 28 February 1542 the chapter approved the agreement putting an end to the suit against Scibec:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 142, pp.483-484. “Placeat dominis hic recitata transactio facta per dominos archidiaconum de Josayo, Verjus et Hurtault cum Francisco Carpy, tam super expensis ejus processus contra capitulum, quam opere perficiendo clausure chori ecclesie, et hoc mediante summa mille II C l.t., comprehensa summa IIII C l.t. jam sibi tradita, salva majori si posthac recepisse comperiatur”; in the margin: “Carpy pro clausura chori ecclesie” (Grodecki, 1975, 114, Doc. V.(II.) 36).
A week later, on 8 March 1542 (modern style), the chapter and Scibec made arrangements for the completion and setting up of the choir screen according to the last specifications and drawing made for it. The woodcarver was assigned the making of the molds for the use of the caster. He also became responsible for all the expenses of the woodwork and whatever else was necessary prior to the completion of the casting with the exception of the expenses of any masonry, cut stone, or ironwork that was missing. Where marble was meant to be used in the choir screen Scibec was now to substitute blackened wood (painted black?). He was also to varnish the choir screen. Furthermore, Scibec was to instruct the canons, or one of them, in how to dismantle the choir screen and remove it without damaging or demolishing it.
Paris, Arch. nat., Minutier central, Étude VIII, 61 (Claude Boreau), fol. IIIIC LXXVIIv – IIIIC LXXVIIIv.
“Messieurs les doyen et chappitre de Paris d’une part, et messire Francoys de Carpy. menuizier du Roy demourant a Paris, en son nom, d’aultre part : disans les dictes parties que pour raison de la closture et fermeture de la traverce du cueur de la dicte église et siege épiscopal, que le dict Carpy a par cy devant prins et promis a faire, fournir et asseoir en la dicte église, ils ont esté en procès par devant monsieur le prévost de Paris ou son lieutenant, duquel procès et deppendances ilz ont transigé en la maniere qui s’ensuit. C’est assavoir, que le dict Carpy a promis et promect faire et parfaire la dicte closture de menuizerie selon qu’elle est commancée, mesmement selon le dernier divis et portraict de ce faict, signé par le dict de Carpy et paraphé des dictz notaires a leur requeste, lequel divis est demouré au dict de Carpy pour luy servir a asseoir et parfaire la dicte closture. Et pour ce faire, fournir les mousles au fondeur et faire de son estat tout ce qui est et sera necessaire a faire auparavant que d’avoir et asseoir la fonte. Lesquelz mousles le dict Carpy promect faire et fournir a ses despens au fondeur en si bonne diligence que par faulte d’iceulx, le dict fondeur ne chommera; et commenceza a bailler et fournir partie des dictz mousles au dict fondeur dedans la sepmayne prochainement venant au plus tard, et continuera sans discontinuer jusques a ce qu’il ayt parfaict. Et laquelle closture le dict Carpy promect asseoir bien et deuement en son lieu ainsi qu’il appartient selon le dict divis et pourtraict dernier. Et fournir a ses despens de tout boys et aultres choses qui y seront necessaires, sauf et reservé la maçonnerie et pierre de taille et ferrure si aulcune y en fault. Davantaige, promect le dict Carpy que ou lieu ou il convenoit par le dict patron mectre du marbre noir en la dicte closture, y mectre du boys qui sera noyrcy, qui servira ou lieu du dict marbre, deuement noircy, varny et mis en bon ordre. Lesquelz closture et ouvriages le dict Carpy sera tenu et promect de vernir bien et deuement. Et la dicte closture faicte et parfaicte, le dict Carpy sera tenu et promect bailler a mesdictz sieurs ou l’ung d’eulx par memoire la maniere comment on pourra oster et desassembler la dicte closture affin de l’oster, remectre quant besoing sera, sans la gaster ne desmolir. Et ce, moyennant et parmy le pris et somme de douze cens livres tournois, monnoye courant a present, que pour tout ce qui est et pourra estre deu au dict Carpy a cause de ses ouvriages, et aussi pour tout ce qui luy en sera deu quant il les aura deuement faictz et parfaictz, mes dictz sieurs les doyen et chappitre de Paris luy en promectent et gaigent payer a mesure qu’il parfera le dict ouvraige et entreprinse de la dicte closture, sur ce desduict la somme de quatre cens livres tournoys que le dict Carpy a confessé et confesse avoir sur ce receue, et aultres sommes si aucune s en a receues. Moyennant laquelle somme, les dictes parties d’une part et d’aultre sont hors de court et de tous proces et ont quicté et quictent l’ung d’eulx l’autre de tous despens, dommaiges et interestz, tant tanxez que a tanxer, et de toutes autres choses jusques a huy. Car ainsi… Faict et passé, c’est assavoir par les dictz sieurs les doyen, chanoynes et chappitre de Paris deuement assemblez en leur chappitre, le mardi vingt huitiesme et dernier jour du moys de fevrier, et par le dict messire Françoys de Carpy, le mercredi huitiesme jour du mars ensuyvant, tout en l’an mil cinq cens quarente ung.
J. BOREAU CL. BOREAU”
“Le dict messire Françoys de Carpy confesse avoir eu et recue ce jourd’huy de mes dictz sieurs les doyen et chappitre de Paris, sur et tantmoins du contenu au blanc la somme de cent escuz d’or au soleil, et ce, oultre et par dessus les quatre cens livres tournois contenues ou dict blanc, par luy receues paravant huy, et autres somme s’aucunes en a receues. De laquelle somme de cent escuz d’or soleil par luy ce dict jour receue, il a baillé aultre quictance, laquelle et la presente ne serviront que pour une seulle quictance et acquit d’icelle somme de cent escuz d’or soleil. Promet. …Faict l’an mil cinq cens quarente ung, le mercredi huitiesme jour de mars.
J. BOREAU CL. BOREAU”
(Grodecki, 1975, 107, Doc. III).
Gilles Jourdain declared on 12 September 1542 that he had received from the canons 2732.5 “livres” of bronze to employ in the choir screen and that he had already done a part of it weighing 1550 “livres” and delivered it to Scibec:
Paris, Arch. nat., Minutier central, Étude XCI, 16 bis (Cl. Hallé). “Honnorable homme Gilles Jourdain, marchant fondeur en cuyvre, bourgeois demourant a Paris rue Saint-Martin, confesse avoir eu et receu des venerables chanoynes et chapitre de l’eglise de Paris la quantité de deux mil sept cens trente deux livres et demye de cuivre, pour employer es ouvriages qu’il a promis faire pour les dictz chapitre selon le marché faict entre eulx paravant huy et pour servir a la closture du ceur de la dicte esglise, et selon les patrons qui luy ont esté baillez et seront, si aucuns restoyent a bailler. Et promect le dict Gilles employer es dictz ouvriages les dictz II M VII C XXX II livres et demye le plustot que faire ce pourra. Et oultre confesse le dict Gilles avoir receu des dictz chapitre la somme de deux cens vingt livres tournois, sur et tantmoins de ce qu’il a faict et est tenu faire ou dict ouvriage pour façon. Dont en quict prom. et oblig. et ren. Faict l’an mil cinq cens quarente deux, le mardi XIIe jour de september.”
On the reverse of this document appears the addition:
“Fault mettre au doz ce qui s’ensuit : Nobles et discrettes personnes messires Jehan Moireau, Jacques Verjus et Jehan Heurtault, chanoynes de la dicte esglise, dient et certiffient que le dict Gilles Jourdain a baillé et fourny paravant huy a messire Francisque de Carpy, menuisier, pour les dictz de chapitre, portion des dictz ouvriages poisans ensemble quinze cens cinquante huit livres.” (Grodecki, 1975, 107-108, Doc. IV; also published by E. Coyecque, “Quittance du fondeur Gilles Jourdain,” Humanisme et Renaissance. Documents et travaux, III, 1943, 20).
The caster then asked, on 18 December 1542, that his work be weighed, payed for, and transported to the woodcarver, who needed it for inclusion in the choir screen:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 142, p.687: “Petente fusore cupri clausure chori ecclesie certas petias quas nuper fudit ponderari et de eisdem solvi illasque minutario tradi pro adaptatione earumdem cum suo opere minutarie dicte clausure domini Gontier Verjus et Heurtault huic providebunt”; in the margin: “=De fusore clausure chori ecclesie” (paraphrased by Grodecki, 1975, 114, Doc. 37).
On 20 February 1543 it was decided that the last work by Gilles Jourdain be weighed and that he be paid accordingly for it:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 142, p.736. “Viso et relato pondere ultime fusionis cupri ad opus clausure chori ecclesie tradetur fusori Jourdain pecunia de archa thesauri secundum estimationem hujusmodi ponderis”; in the margin: “=fusor cupri clausure chori” (paraphrased by Grodecki, 1975, 114, Doc. V.(II.) 38).
By 18 May 1543 the choir screen was in place when the chapter delegated three canons to look at it in order to decide if the wood and bronze should be gilded and to judge if the planned bronze angels should be replaced by wood candelabra:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 143, p.316. “Visitabunt domini decanus, archidyaconus Brye et Courchon clausuram chori ecclesie, si conveniat deaurari lignum et cuprum ejusdem, as loco ymaginum angelorum cupri, ponatur candelabra lignea, et referant” (Grodecki, 1975, 114, Doc. V.(II.) 39).
On 23 May 1543 the chapter decided to purchase 700 “livres” of bronze to complete the choir screen:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 143, p.321. “Habeat de Courchon ab archa thesauri ecclesie pecunias ad hoc necessarias et emat VIIC l cupri pro perficiendo opere cupri clausure chori ejusdem ecclesie” (paraphrased by Grodecki, 1975, 114, Doc. V.(II.) 40).
Three and a half months later, on 5 September 1543, a goldsmith was asked to gild the choir screen:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 143, p.404. “Venier faciet do(minus)
Ricardi illum aurifabrum de quo hic loquutus est videre clausuram chori ecclesie quantum pro deauratione ejusdem exponeretur” (Grodecki, 1975, 114, Doc. V.(II.) 41).
Two days later, on 7 September 1543, Scibec was paid all that was owed him but he was asked to furnish instructions on how to dismantle the choir screen:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 143, p.405. “Capiantur in archa thesauri ecclesie VIXX l. t tradende Francisco Carpy minutario super his que sibi debentur pro clausura chori sed prius tradat modum et instrutionem illam dispertionis ubi et quando opus erit”
(paraphrased by Grodecki, 1975, 114, Doc. V.(II.) 42).
By the date of this last document it may be assumed that the choir screen designed by Rosso, beginning in the autumn of 1537, was completed and installed just under three years from the time of his death, although the gilding may still have needed to be done. But there are subsequent references to the choir screen in the sixteenth century that tell something more about it.
About four years later, on 15 May 1547, those in charge of the funeral of Francis I communicated to the chapter the necessity of removing the choir screen because of the ceremony that would be attended by twelve cardinals and four bishops:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 144, p.825. “Dominica XVa maii anni predicti decima(?) hora(?) vesperis, convenientibus in vestiario ecclesie dominis decano, cantore, archidyacono Brye succentore, penitenciario Pelourde et aliis in magno numero. Retulit item dominus cantor se cum reverendissimo cardinale Bellayo episcopo parisiensi, dominis nivernensi episcopo, dicto decano et Gontier, hora sexta de mane in choro dicte ecclesie, magistros ceremoniarum pompe funebris funeralium defuncti regis Francisci iuxta eorum promissionem expectasse, super ordine ponendi in hujusmodi funeralibus, presertim, sessionibus in choro dicte ecclesie. Et dominus expectatis et non venientibus, dictum reverendissimum cardinalem dixisse quod in servicio hujusmodi funeralium debebant interesse XII cardinales et ad minus IIII episcopi, pro quorum sessionibus conveniebat auferri clausuram chori ecclesie quo res commodius habeatur, propter quod facta fuerat ipsorum dominorum dicta convocatio. Super quo, prehabita singulorum dominorum deliberatione, conclusum est quod, considerante magnis sumptibus dicte clausure – et id citra jacturam(?) ecclesie – illam non auferri posse; sed ubi vero placeat domino nostro Regi hoc fieri, illam, seu loco illius, aliam, citra expensis ecclesie reponi…” (Grodecki, 1975, 114-115, Doc. V.(II.) 43).
On 8 June 1547 Scibec de Carpi was paid for his help in taking down the choir screen by furnishing the “clavettes” [keys] necessary for the assembling and disassembling of it without damaging it:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 144, p.846. “Ordinatum est solvi Franciscum Carpi minutarium de summa IIIIxx l.t. super residuo sui debiti factionis, et directionis lignee et cupree clausure chori ecclesie, liberando les clavettes et modum parandi et separandi hujusmodi clausuram quotiens opus citra deteriariocionem(?) ejusdem” (Grodecki, 1975, 115, Doc. V.(II.) 44).
The chapter then asked the new king, Henri II, on 27 June 1547, for a donation for the remaking of the choir screen that had been “demolished” for the funeral of Francis I:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 144, p.865. “Scribatur domino de Treszey continente sibi placeat procurar penes dominum nostrum Regi haberi ecclesie aliquam pecuniam pro repositione seu refectione alterius clausure chori que demolita fait in servicio et funeralibus defucti regis Francisci” (paraphrased by Grodecki, 1975, 115, Doc. V.(II.) 45).
Considering the expense of the choir screen and the damage that it would suffer from not being used, the chapter decided, on 14 January 1549, to have it re-made in place and, to complete it, to order a bishop’s chair of the same material and design:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 145, p.581. “Consyderatis sumptibus facture clausure chori ecclesie et detrimento ipsius defectu repositionis et reparationis ejusdem, ne tantum opus inutile remaneat, ordinatum est illam reponi et juxta texturam et continuacionem seu compositionem illius fiat cathedra episcopolis”; in the margin: “=clausura chori et cathedra episcopolis” (Grodecki, 1975, 115, Doc. V.(II.) 46).
Almost two years later the choir screen seems not yet to have been re-erected when, on 7 December 1551, two canons were designated to have it put up without delay:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 147, p.391. “Videant domini cantor, concellarius et Moreau requestam parrigendam domino nostro regi pro reparatione cathedrarum chori et banilox(?) celi ad deferendum Corpus Christi”; in the margin: “=de cathedris chori” (paraphrased by Grodecki, 1975, 115, Doc. V.(II.) 47).
Grodecki, in Actes, 1975, 115, n. 1, believed that the urgency of this re-erection followed from the damage caused to the canons’ seats by a general procession in the presence of the king that was held on the occasion of the enthroning of the bishop Eustache du Bellay on 18 November 1551 (Paris, Arch. nat., LL 147, pp. 377, 391).
A contract was made on 15 January 1552 for the re-erecting of the choir screen:
Paris, Arch. nat., LL 147, p.414. “Ordinatum est quod magister Guillemus Garlette, clericus fabrice ecclesie, tradat domino Jolivet summam octo scutorum auri ad solem, per conventione per eum facta reponendi clausuram chori”; in the margin: “=clausura chori. mand. clerico fabrice” (Grodecki, 1975, 115, Doc. V.(II.) 48).
From the many documents that refer to the choir screen that Rosso designed only the vaguest impression can be had of what it looked like. It was designed to close off the east end of the choir of the canons that occupied the center of the three bays of Notre Dame west of the crossing. It would seem to have been placed between the fourth set of piers, counting from the crossing, or immediately to the west of them (No. 12 on plan: Fig.Notre Dame, Paris, Plan). It was approximately 26 meters wide; its height was probably about 4 meters.4 The choir screen occupied the site of the medieval stone choir screen that was destroyed in 1518 on the orders of Francis I for the needs of a state ceremony. That choir screen had already been replaced by another of bronze made by Etienne Barillet between 1519 and 1521 at the expense of the king. Barillet was paid 1,224 livres tournois. Whether or not he designed this choir screen or was only the caster of it is not known. Then in 1534 Francis I donated another 1500 livres for the “perfection” of the choir screen. It was for this project that Rosso provided at least three designs.
Only one month after Rosso himself received his canonicate in the Chapter of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the canons asked him, on 27 October 1537, to make a design for the choir screen. On 7 December of the same year he was asked to attend to the execution of it, in bronze, as specified at this time. What is not indicated anywhere is whether Rosso’s project was an entirely new choir screen or the completion and elaboration of Barillet’s bronze structure. The documents referring to the latter would seem to indicate that it was complete when it was installed.5 But Francis I’s donation of 1534 was for the “perfection” of it, which could indicate that the canons were to have Barillet’s choir screen completed and elaborated. Perhaps the original intention, in 1534, was somehow to make Barillet’s choir screen a finer and more beautiful one. However, all the documents related to Rosso’s project suggest an entirely new choir screen. Like Barillet’s it was also to be of bronze.6
Nevertheless, this was not to be the sole material of the executed choir screen, for on 10 May 1538 the canons approved an agreement that Rosso had already made with the woodcarver Scibec de Carpi, and his lengthy and major involvement with this project almost certainly indicates that the choir screen was to a large extent planned to be executed in wood. Bronze parts were still included in the design, as is indicated by the documents referring to the participation of the bronze caster Gilles Jourdain, beginning already by 30 August 1538.7 In addition, there were to be certain parts made in fine black marble. As pointed out by Grodecki, the combination of these materials indicates something of the innovativeness of Rosso’s design.
Actually, as the documents make clear, Rosso provided at least three designs for the choir screen that was executed by Scibec and Jourdain. No record exists of any earlier design by Rosso for a choir screen to be made entirely in bronze. The first design given to Scibec would most probably have been made before 10 May 1538, when the canons approved Rosso’s agreement with the woodcarver. Scibec executed all the woodcarving required by this plan except for the portal; he also did not incorporate into the choir screen the bronze and black marble parts, as they had not been delivered to him by the time that he had completed his work. A second drawing by Rosso for part of the choir screen was received by Scibec shortly after 22 October 1539, which, in the woodcarver’s opinion, required twice as much work, if not more.8 It is not specified in any document for what part of the screen this drawing by Rosso was made, but it is likely that it was for the portal that Scibec had not yet executed. Perhaps, then, it was only the portal that required so much more work and not the entire choir screen, the first design of the rest of which might have remained the same. Scibec completed his work for this project except for finishing touches and varnishing and the incorporation of the marble and bronze parts. A third drawing by Rosso was received by the canons on 12 January 1540, who on that same date asked Scibec and Jourdain to execute the choir screen according to it. Scibec stated that it presented a much more costly project and that it indicated changes to the columns and entrance. This drawing, too, could have been only for the portal. It would seem that Scibec executed the carvings for this project but when he was finished the canons had still not provided him the bronze and black marble parts to include in the choir screen. His wood carvings may have been entirely done by the time that Rosso died on 14 November 1540.9
Some of the bronze parts of the choir screen may have been cast by this time, although nothing in the documents specifically indicates this. In any case, on 25 February 1541 the canons decided again to have castings made. On 8 March 1542 Scibec was charged to make molds for the caster, which, it might be assumed, were formed in plaster from wood carvings made as models for the bronze parts, or at least for some of them.10 It was also decided then that the black marble should be replaced by wood painted black. Jourdain’s casts from Scibec’s molds were completed by 18 December 1542 and ready to be transported to Scibec. By 18 May 1543 the choir screen was in place in Notre Dame.
At that time the canons considered whether the wood and bronze of the choir screen should be gilded, and on 5 September 1543 a goldsmith was hired to do some gilding. It is probable that the woodwork, which was varnished, was highlighted with gold like the paneling in the Gallery of Francis I. The bronze parts could have been entirely gilt, or only partially gilt.11 But the choir screen must have had sufficient gold to be referred to in 1587 as “la traverse dorée du choeur” and in 1615 as “la cloison dorée.”12 Also, on 18 May 1543 the canons considered whether or not the bronze angels planned for the choir screen – and hence, apparently, part of Rosso’s plan – should be replaced by wood candelabra. As a new supply of bronze was bought on 23 May 1543 it could be assumed that they settled upon the angels. However, it is not known that they were actually made.13
From Scibec’s extensive involvement with this project it seems most probable that the choir screen was largely of wood. For one thing, it was he who was to receive the other parts for incorporation into what he had made. Furthermore, on 11 January 1542 the canons decided to have transported to Notre Dame Scibec’s carvings in order to see if they could be used according to Rosso’s design. This was before the bronze parts were cast and the marble (later wood painted black) parts were made. Hence, if it could be erected without the latter parts it would seem that the choir screen was fundamentally of wood. It should also be noted here that the canons were concerned that the choir screen was executed as indicated by Rosso’s design and it might be assumed that the choir screen installed two and a half years after his death did follow his plan.
The choir screen had to be an open structure in order that the canons seated in their choir could see the service taking place just east of it at the high altar of the cathedral. Hence the screen had to have some kind of grill work. This grill work would have at least to have filled the upper half of the choir screen. It might be conjectured that it was this grill work – perhaps slender balusters – that was the part of the choir screen made of bronze. It would have been set into the framework of the screen made of wood with carved panels below, and, perhaps, with smaller ones above this grill. The central entranceway, fitted with a door that must also have contained a grill, would have been flanked by columns, carrying presumably an entablature.14 It is likely that the black marble, because of its weight, was planned for the bottom of the choir screen, forming either a continuous base or the bases of the major uprights of the screen. The latter is more probable because the choir screen was designed to be easily dismantled, stored, and re-erected without damaging it. Eventually, however, wood painted black was substituted for the apparently unobtainable black marble.15 References to cut stone, masonry, and ironwork in the document of 8 March 1542 may refer to the various attachments of the parts of the screen and of the attachments to the structure of the church and the stone enclosures of the north and south sides of the choir of the canons. In 1547, when the choir screen was dismantled for the funeral of Francis I, Scibec was paid for certain “clavettes” – keys, pegs, pins or latches – that would be used for the assembling and disassembling of it. Already on 8 March 1542 and again on 7 September 1543 Scibec had been asked to give instructions on how to take down and put up the screen. The moveable aspect of Rosso’s design must have been part of its conception from the very beginning, and may also have been a characteristic of Barillet’s project of 1519-1521. But the weight of the latter, made entirely of bronze, may have made it too much of a burden to take down easily and transport for storage. This factor may, then, have prompted Rosso to design his choir screen largely of wood, keeping, nevertheless, some part of it in bronze. The major parts of it would have been lighter, with the heavier elements of bronze and black marble fewer in number but rich in appearance.
No parts of the choir screen are known to have survived and no picture in any media records its appearance. A drawing by Israël Sylvestre in the Louvre (Fig.Sylvestre, Paris, 33009), done before 1691, when the artist died and when the choir screen was no longer in place,16 shows the area of Notre Dame where it was located and also depicts somewhat sketchily two large chairs just inside the area of the choir of the canons. One of these is most probably the bishop’s chair ordered on 14 January 1549 in the same material and design as the choir screen. The other chair is of exactly the same design and is either a later copy of the first one or else two chairs were made in the first instance instead of only one that the relevant document mentions. These carved wood chairs, which were probably made not before 1552 and possibly later (see below), are in a style that could reflect Rosso’s and hence something of the appearance of the choir screen. One might be able to recognize in the drawing of the chairs details of strapwork, plaques, reclining animals, and perhaps herms. Such details of Rosso’s decorative vocabulary could have appeared on the screen, but one might also expect there to have been certain religious motifs as well.
Four years after it was erected in Notre Dame (but as yet without its angels) the choir screen was dismantled for the funeral of Francis I. The canons ordered that it be put up in 1549 and again in 1551 and 1552, but when exactly it was re-erected is not known. It may have been only then that the bishop’s chair mentioned in 1549 was made, and perhaps another matching it as well. The choir screen was in place in 1587 and also in 1615.17 There is no record of it after the latter date. It was certainly not standing in 1627.18
2 See Grodecki, 1975, 100, and 111, Doc. V.(II.) 18, of 10 December 1518. The destroyed choir screen, although not its material, is again mentioned in a document of 15 December 1518 (Grodecki, 1975, 111, Doc. V.(II.) 19) that records the solicitation of help from Francis I’s mother in obtaining from the king the re-building of the choir screen. Apparently the existence of the medieval choir screen is known only from these two documents. It is not mentioned in Gillerman, 1977 (1973) or in Gillerman, 1975.
3 See Grodecki, 1975, 100, 104, ns. 7-9, and 111-112, Docs. V.(II.) 19-22, and reference to the record of settlement with Etienne Barillet of 17 April 1521 (published by E. Coyecque, “Notre Dame de Paris, 1396-1526,” Nouvelle archives de l’art français, IV, 1887, 90-91). It is in this settlement record that Barillet is referred to as a “fondeur de cuivre” and the choir screen is mentioned as “la closture du cueur.” But already in the document of 15 December 1518 (see n. 1) it is stated that the re-making of the choir screen would be “de cupro.”
4 Grodecki, 1975, 101, Fig. 1, numbered 12, shows the place of the choir screen and the choir of the canons. Gillerman, 1977 (1973), 31-32, 209, Fig. 1, and Gillerman, 1975, 49, believes that the north and south sides of the choir of the canons extended about 1.3 meters into the next bay to the east, in which case the original stone choir screen, of which she did not know the existence, would probably have crossed that much nearer to the high altar of the church. So, too, then, would have Rosso’s. In this position it is more understandable that the stone screen was in the way for ceremonies before the altar, and why it was found necessary to have the later screens, by Barillet and Rosso, so designed that they could be taken down. Gillerman, 1977 (1973), 29-30, says that the north and south sides of the choir, which are in place, are 13 feet high, including the “couronnement” added by Viollet-le-Duc. The choir screen, like the jubé at the western end of the choir, must have been approximately the same height.
6 Although the Latin and French words used in the various documents could mean copper, Grodecki, 1975, 105, n. 24, points out that they can also mean bronze and this is their most likely meaning here. As the cast parts of the choir screen were eventually gilded, it is probable that they were not of copper, which, if used, would have been selected for its color and hence would not have been covered with gold.
7 Grodecki, 1975, 102, states that Jourdain must have finished the work that his agreement with Rosso, confirmed by the canons on 30 August 1538, indicated, that is, by the end of the year. But documents of 1540, 1541, 1542, and 1543 all show that the caster was continually being pressed to bring his work to conclusion. Some of his continuing occupation with this project may have been due to the changes that Rosso made to its design. Nevertheless, there is no indication in the documents that Jourdain had completed any portion of his part by the end of 1538.
8 Grodecki, 1975, 102, believes that there was a slowing down of work on the choir screen during the early part of 1539 because of Rosso’s activity at Fontainebleau; she also points out that Scibec received the (second) commission for the wood paneling of the Gallery of Francis I in April of that year.
10 With reference to the document of 8 March 1542, Grodecki, 1975, 99, 102, states that Scibec was to complete the choir screen “selon le devis et le dessin établis par le menuisier.” But the document seems rather to indicate that it was to be finished according to the last specifications and the last drawing of Rosso.
11 Grodecki, 1975, 103, 105, n. 26, remarks that the wood part of Rosso’s design does not seem to have called for gilding, for Scibec, in the document of 5 February 1541, mentions only the varnishing of it. But as he would not have done the gilding he may not have found it necessary to remark on it. The gilding, however, is a detail that, while it may not have appeared in Rosso’s drawings, may have been expected because he knew that it was Scibec’s practice to highlight his carvings with gold. The gilding of the bronze may also not have been shown on Rosso’s drawings, and yet he may have had it in mind. This could be true even if the canons on 18 May 1543 had to decide whether gold be used or not, for if so they would have to pay for it and they might have wished to see if it were actually desirable. Grodecki believes that originally only the bronze was to be gilded, but that the woodwork may, then, also have been highlighted. But the last mentioned document makes reference at one and the same time to the gilding of both the bronze and the wood.
15 Of interest here is Sir John Wallop’s later remark in his dispatch of 17 November 1540 that the king, Francis I, “further shewed me that He hathe founde dyvers mynes of marbell, bothe white and blacke, the white by Marguysen, and the blacke besides Sherbroke: …” (McAllister Johnson, “Diplomatic Correspondence,” 1972, 53).
16 Paris, Louvre, Inv. 33009, pencil, 39.5 x 38.2; inscribed in pencil in the lower right corner: 40-48; see Grodecki, 1975, 100, Fig. 3, 103, 105, n. 28; and Gillerman, 1977 (1973), 31, 50, n. 15, Fig. 10, and Gillerman, 1975, 49, 54, Fig. 17. According to Grodecki, the drawing would not have been done before 1552, when at least one of the two large chairs at the east end of the choir was made (on which, see below). It is not, however, certain that either one of them was done by that time. In any case, the drawing was done before 1691 when Sylvestre died.