Page:EB1911 - Volume 08.djvu/110

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DESIDERIUS—DESK


of Fiesole, still surrounded by the quarries of sandstone of which the hill is formed, and inhabited by a race of “stone-cutters.” Desiderio was for a short time a pupil of Donatello, whom, according to Vasari, he assisted in the work on the pedestal of David, and he seems to have worked also with Mino da Fiesole, with the delicate and refined style of whose works those of Desiderio seem to have a closer affinity than with the perhaps more masculine tone of Donatello. Vasari particularly extols the sculptor’s treatment of the figures of women and children. It does not appear that Desiderio ever worked elsewhere than at Florence; and it is there that those who are interested in the Italian sculpture of the Renaissance must seek his few surviving decorative and monumental works, though a number of his delicately carved marble busts of women and children are to be found in the museums and private collections of Germany and France. The most prominent of his works are the tomb of the secretary of state, Marsuppini, in Santa Croce, and the great marble tabernacle of the Annunciation in San Lorenzo, both of which belong to the latter period of Desiderio’s activity; and the cherubs’ heads which form the exterior frieze of the Pazzi Chapel. Vasari mentions a marble bust by Desiderio of Marietta degli Strozzi, which for many years was held to be identical with a very beautiful bust bought in 1878 from the Strozzi family for the Berlin Museum. This bust is now, however, generally acknowledged to be the work of Francesco Laurana; whilst Desiderio’s bust of Marietta has been recognized in another marble portrait acquired by the Berlin Museum in 1842. The Berlin Museum also owns a coloured plaster bust of an Urbino lady by Desiderio, the model for which is in the possession of the earl of Wemyss. Other important busts by the master are in the Bargello, Florence, the Louvre in Paris, the collections of M. Figdor and M. Benda in Vienna, and of M. Dreyfus in Paris. Like most of Donatello’s pupils, Desiderio worked chiefly in marble, and not a single work in bronze has been traced to his hand.

See Wilhelm Bode, Die italienische Plastik (Berlin, 1893).


DESIDERIUS, the last king of the Lombards, is chiefly known through his connexion with Charlemagne. He was duke of Tuscany and became king of the Lombards after the death of Aistulf in 756. Seeking, like his predecessors, to extend the Lombard power in Italy, he came into collision with the papacy, and about 772 the new pope, Adrian I., implored the aid of Charlemagne against him. Other causes of quarrel already existed between the Frankish and the Lombard kings. In 770 Charlemagne had married a daughter of Desiderius; but he soon put this lady away, and sent her back to her father. Moreover, Gerberga, the widow of Charlemagne’s brother Carloman, had sought the protection of the Lombard king after her husband’s death in 771; and in return for the slight cast upon his daughter, Desiderius had recognized Gerberga’s sons as the lawful Frankish kings, and had attacked Adrian for refusing to crown them. Such was the position when Charlemagne led his troops across the Alps in 773, took the Lombard capital, Ticinum, the modern Pavia, in June 774, and added the kingdom of Lombardy to his own dominions. Desiderius was carried to France, where he died, and his son, Adalgis, spent his life in futile attempts to recover his father’s kingdom. The name of Desiderius appears in the romances of the Carolingian period.

See S. Abel, Untergang des Langobardenreichs (Göttingen, 1859); and Jahrbücher des fränkischen Reiches unter Karl dem Grossen (Leipzig, 1865); L. M. Hartmann, Geschichte Italiens im Mittelalter (Gotha, 1903); and Paulus Diaconus, Historia Langobardorum, edited by L. Bethmann and G. Waitz (Hanover, 1878).


DESIGN (Fr. dessin, drawing; Lat. designare, to mark out), in the arts, a drawing, more especially when made as a guide for the execution of work; that side of drawing which deals with arrangement rather than representation; and generally, by analogy, a deliberate planning, scheming or purpose. Modern use has tended to associate design with the word “original” in the sense of new or abnormal. The end of design, however, is properly utility, fitness and delight. If a discovery, it should be a discovery of what seems inevitable, an inspiration arising out of the conditions, and parallel to invention in the sciences. The faculty of design has best flourished when an almost spontaneous development was taking place in the arts, and while certain classes of arts, more or less noble, were generally demanded and the demand copiously satisfied, as in the production of Greek vases, Byzantine mosaics, Gothic cathedrals, and Renaissance paintings. Thus where a “school of design” arises there is much general likeness in the products but also a general progress. The common experience—“tradition”—is a part of each artist’s stock in trade; and all are carried along in a stream of continuous exploration. Some of the arts, writing, for instance, have been little touched by conscious originality in design, all has been progress, or, at least, change, in response to conditions. Under such a system, in a time of progress, the proper limitations react as intensity; when limitations are removed the designer has less and less upon which to react, and unconditioned liberty gives him nothing at all to lean on. Design is response to needs, conditions and aspirations. The Greeks so well understood this that they appear to have consciously restrained themselves to the development of selected types, not only in architecture and literature, but in domestic arts, like pottery. Design with them was less the new than the true.

For the production of a school of design it is necessary that there should be a considerable body of artists working together, and a large demand from a sympathetic public. A process of continuous development is thus brought into being which sustains the individual effort. It is necessary for the designer to know familiarly the processes, the materials and the skilful use of the tools involved in the productions of a given art, and properly only one who practises a craft can design for it. It is necessary to enter into the traditions of the art, that is, to know past achievements. It is necessary, further, to be in relation with nature, the great reservoir of ideas, for it is from it that fresh thought will flow into all forms of art. These conditions being granted, the best and most useful meaning we can give to the word design is exploration, experiment, consideration of possibilities. Putting too high a value on originality other than this is to restrict natural growth from vital roots, in which true originality consists. To take design in architecture as an example, we have rested too much on definite precedent (a different thing from living tradition) and, on the other hand, hoped too much from newness. Exploration of the possibilities in arches, vaults, domes and the like, as a chemist or a mathematician explores, is little accepted as a method in architecture at this time, although in antiquity it was by such means that the great master-works were produced: the Pantheon, Santa Sophia, Durham and Amiens cathedrals. The same is true of all forms of design. Of course the genius and inspiration of the individual artist is not here ignored, but assumed. What we are concerned with is a mode of thought which shall make it most fruitful.  (W. R. L.) 


DESIRE, in popular usage, a term for a wishing or longing for something which one has not got. For its technical use see Psychology. The word is derived through the French from Lat. desiderare, to long or wish for, to miss. The substantive desiderium has the special meaning of desire for something one has once possessed but lost, hence regret or grief. The usual explanation of the word is to connect it with sidus, star, as in considerare, to examine the stars with attention, hence, to look closely at. If this is so, the history of the transition in meaning is unknown. J. B. Greenough (Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, i. 96) has suggested that the word is a military slang term. According to this theory desiderare meant originally to miss a soldier from the ranks at roll-call, the root being that seen in sedere, to sit, sedes, seat, place, &c.


DESK (from Lat. discus, quoit, in med. sense of “table,” cf. “dish” and Ger. Tisch, table, from same source), any kind of flat or sloping table for writing or reading. Its earliest shape was probably that with which we are familiar in pictures of the monastic scriptorium—rather high and narrow with a sloping slab. The primitive desk had little accommodation for writing materials, and no storage room for papers; drawers, cupboards and pigeon-holes were the evolution of periods when writing grew common, and when letters and other documents requiring preservation became numerous. It