Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/111

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111
THE ORIGIN OF PAINTING.

ous designs found in the caves of France are of this animal.* The second of these drawings, found in La Loz^re, represents a mam- raoth's head sculptured on a staff of command. The images of the chamois, bear, and ox are found more frequently ; hut figures of the reindeer are most numerous. Some are engraved on plates of bone^ and others serve to ornament various objects. Sometimes groups of animals are represented, or, on the other hand, the ani- mals are only partly drawn, and merely the head or head and chest are visible.

The larger part of these drawings do not excel in execution the figures which our school-boys make on walls ; but the figures of the reindeer are generally superior on account of the remarkable care with which the characteristic lines of the animal are traced, and also, in examples that are otherwise very rare, by the addition of a few shadows. We conclude that the artist of the caves was particularly interested in the reindeer, which furnished his con- temporaries with their principal food, as well as with clothing materials, arms for hunting, and household implements. We know, in fact, that the cave-dwellers lived on reindeer-meat, dressed themselves in its skin, made thread of its tendons, and cut their arrow-points from its bones. In other words, as the reindeer had not yet been domesticated, it stood to those primitive men as a valuable game, and the hunting of it occupied the larger part of their existence. We thus explain why that animal haunted the imagination of the artist of those times. The drawings of the chamois, the bear, and the ox were also often surprisingly exact and really valuable.

Besides these designs of mammals, there have been found in the caves of France a number of drawings of fishes, tolerably cor- rect, but very uniform. According to Broca, they can all be re- ferred to the salmon.

All these relics of the primitive arts of design prove abun- dantly that the men of that prehistoric age observed carefully the forms and attitudes of animals and were capable of representing them in an exact and elegant style, attesting, according to Broca, a real artistic sense.

Nothing like this has been observed in the reproduction of the human figure, and drawings of that kind are extremely rare. There are two such deserving mention, one of which represents a naked man, armed with a club and surrounded by animals ; the second, a fishing scene, a man lancing a harpoon upon a marine animal — a fish according to Broca, a whale according to other authors. The whole of the design is puerile and out of shape, and

  • Similar linear ornaments have been found in the caves in Belgium, and are referred

by Dupont to the age of the mammoth.