1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Greek Art
GREEK ART. It is proposed in the present article to give a brief account of the history of Greek art and of the principles embodied in that history. In any broad view of history, the products of the various arts practised by a people constitute an objective and most important record of the spirit of that people. But all nations have not excelled in the same way: some have found their best expression in architecture, some in music, some in poetry. The Greeks most fully embodied their ideas in two ways, first in their splendid literature, both prose and verse, and secondly, in their plastic and pictorial art, in which matter they have remained to our days among the greatest instructors of mankind. The three arts of architecture, sculpture and painting were brought by them into a focus; and by their aid they produced a visible splendour of public life such as has perhaps been nowhere else attained.
The volume of the remains of Greek civilization is so vast, and the learning with which these have been discussed is so ample, that it is hopeless to attempt to give in a work like the present any complete account of either. Rather we shall be frankly eclectic, choosing for consideration such results of Greek art as are most noteworthy and most characteristic. In some cases it will be possible to give a reference to a more detailed treatment of particular monuments in these volumes under the heading of the places to which they belong. Architectural detail is relegated to Architecture and allied architectural articles. Coins (see Numismatics) and gems (see Gems) are treated apart, as are vases (Ceramics), and in the bibliography which closes this article an effort is made to direct those who wish for further information in any particular branch of our subject.
1. The Rediscovery of Greek Art.—The visible works of Greek architect, sculptor and painter, accumulated in the cities of Greece and Asia Minor until the Roman conquest. And in spite of the ravages of conquering Roman generals, and the more systematic despoilings of the emperors, we know that when Pausanias visited Greece, in the age of the Antonines, it was from coast to coast a museum of works of art of all ages. But the tide soon turned. Works of originality were no longer produced, and a succession of disasters gradually obliterated those of previous ages. In the course of the Teutonic and Slavonic invasions from the north, or in consequence of earthquakes, very frequent in Greece, the splendid cities and temples fell into ruins; and with the taking of Constantinople by the Franks in 1204 the last great collection of works of Greek sculpture disappeared. But while paintings decayed, and works in metal were melted down, many marble buildings and statues survived, at least in a mutilated condition, while terra-cotta is almost proof against decay.
With the Renaissance attention was directed to the extant remains of Greek and Roman art; as early as the 15th century collections of ancient sculpture, coins and gems began to be formed in Italy; and in the 16th the enthusiasm spread to Germany and France. The earl of Arundel, in the reign of James I., was the first Englishman to collect antiques from Italy and Asia Minor: his marbles are now in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. Systematic travel in Greece for the discovery of buildings and works of art was begun by Spon and Wheler (1675–1676); and the discovery of Pompeii in 1748 opened a new chapter in the history of ancient art.
But though kings delighted to form galleries of ancient statues, and the great Italian artists of the Renaissance drew from them inspiration for their paintings and bronzes, the first really critical appreciation of Greek art belongs to Winckelmann (Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums, 1764). The monuments accessible to Winckelmann were but a very small proportion of those we now possess, and in fact mostly works of inferior merit: but he was the first to introduce the historical method into the treatment of ancient art, and to show how it embodied the ideas of the great peoples of the ancient world. He was succeeded by Lessing, and the waves of thought and feeling set in motion by these two affected the cultivated class in all nations,—they inspired in particular Goethe in Germany and Lord Byron in England.
The second stage in the recovery of Greek art begins with the permission accorded by the Porte to Lord Elgin in 1800 to remove to England the sculptural decoration of the Parthenon and other buildings of Athens. These splendid works, after various vicissitudes, became the property of the English nation, and are now the chief treasures of the British Museum. The sight of them was a revelation to critics and artists, accustomed only to the base copies which fill the Italian galleries, and a new epoch in the appreciation of Greek art began. English and German savants, among whom Cockerell and Stackelberg were conspicuous, recovered the glories of the temples of Aegina and Bassae. Leake and Ross, and later Curtius, journeyed through the length and breadth of Greece, identifying ancient sites and studying the monuments which were above ground. Ross reconstructed the temple of Athena Nikē on the Acropolis of Athens from fragments rescued from a Turkish bastion.
Meantime more methodical exploration brought to light the remains of remarkable civilizations in Asia, not only in the valley of the Euphrates, but in Lycia, whence Sir Charles Fellows brought to London the remains of noteworthy tombs, among which the so-called Harpy Monument and Nereid Monument take the first place. Still more important were the accessions derived from the excavations of Sir Charles Newton, who in the years 1852–1859 resided as consul in Asia Minor, and explored the sites of the mausoleum at Halicarnassus and the shrine of Demeter at Cnidus. Pullan at Priene, and Wood at Ephesus also made fruitful excavations.
The next landmark is set by the German excavations at Olympia (1876 and foll.), which not only were conducted with a scientific completeness before unknown, and at great cost, but also established the principle that in future all the results of excavations in Greece must remain in the country, the right of first publication only remaining with the explorers. The discovery of the Hermes of Praxiteles, almost the only certain original of a great Greek sculptor which we possess, has furnished a new and invaluable fulcrum for the study of ancient art. In emulation of the achievements of the Germans at Olympia, the Greek archaeological society methodically excavated the Athenian acropolis, and were rewarded by finding numerous statues and fragments of pediments belonging to the age of Peisistratus, an age when the promise of art was in full bud. More recently French explorers have made a very thorough examination of the site of Delphi, and have succeeded in recovering almost complete two small treasuries, those of the people of Athens and of Cnidus or Siphnos, the latter of 6th-century Ionian work, and adorned with extremely important sculpture.
No other site of the same importance as Athens, Olympia and Delphi remains for excavation in Greece proper. But in all parts of the country, at Tegea, Corinth, Sparta and on a number of other ancient sites, striking and important monuments have come to light. And at the same time monuments already known in Italy and Sicily, such as the temples of Paestum, Selinus and Agrigentum have been re-examined with fuller knowledge and better system. Only Asia Minor, under the influence of Turkish rule, has remained a country where systematic exploration is difficult. Something, however, has been accomplished at Ephesus, Priene, Assos and Miletus, and great works of sculpture such as the reliefs of the great altar at Pergamum, now at Berlin, and the splendid sarcophagi from Sidon, now at Constantinople, show what might be expected from methodic investigation of the wealthy Greek cities of Asia.
From further excavations at Herculaneum we may expect a rich harvest of works of art of the highest class, such as have already been found in the excavations on that site in the past; and the building operations at Rome are constantly bringing to light fine statues brought from Greece in the time of the Empire, which are now placed in the collections of the Capitol and the Baths of Diocletian.
The work of explorers on Greek sites requires as its complement and corrective much labour in the great museums of Europe. As museum work apart from exploration tends to dilettantism and pedantry, so exploration by itself does not produce reasoned knowledge. When a new building, a great original statue, a series of vases is discovered, these have to be fitted in to the existing frame of our knowledge; and it is by such fitting in that the edifice of knowledge is enlarged. In all the museums and universities of Europe the fresh examination of new monuments, the study of style and subject, and attempts to work out points in the history of ancient art, are incessantly going on. Such archaeological work is an important element in the gradual education of the world, and is fruitful, quite apart from the particular results attained, because it encourages a method of thought. Archaeology, dealing with things which can be seen and handled, yet being a species of historic study, lies on the borderland between the province of natural science and that of historic science, and furnishes a bridge whereby the methods of investigation proper to physical and biological study may pass into the human field.
These investigations and studies are recorded, partly in books, but more particularly in papers in learned journals (see bibliography), such as the Mitteilungen of the German Institute, and the English Journal of Hellenic Studies.
An example or two may serve to give the reader a clearer notion of the recent progress in the knowledge of Greek art.
To begin with architecture. Each of the palmary sites of which we have spoken has rendered up examples of early Greek temples. At Olympia there is the Heraeum, earliest of known temples of Greece proper, which clearly shows the process whereby stone gradually superseded wood as a constructive material. At Delphi the explorers have been so fortunate as to be able to put together the treasuries of the Cnidians (or Siphnians) and of the Athenians. The former (see fig. 17) is a gem of early Ionic art, with two Caryatid figures in front in the place of columns, and adorned with the most delicate tracery and fine reliefs. On the Athenian acropolis very considerable remains have been found of temples which were destroyed by the Persians when they temporarily occupied the site in 480 B.C. And recently the ever-renewed study of the Erechtheum has resulted in a restoration of its original form more valuable and trustworthy than any previously made.
In the field of sculpture recent discoveries have been too many and too important to be mentioned at any length. One instance may serve to mark the rapidity of our advance. When the remains of the Mausoleum were brought to London from the excavations begun by Sir Charles Newton in 1856 we knew from Pliny that four great sculptors, Scopas, Bryaxis, Leochares and Timotheus, had worked on the sculpture; but we knew of these artists little more than the names. At present we possess many fragments of two pediments at Tegea executed under the direction of Scopas, we have a basis with reliefs signed by Bryaxis, we have identified a group in the Vatican museum as a copy of the Ganymede of Leochares, and we have pedimental remains from Epidaurus which we know from inscriptional evidence to be either the works of Timotheus or made from his models. Any one can judge how enormously our power of criticizing the Mausoleum sculptures, and of comparing them with contemporary monuments, has increased.
In regard to ancient painting we can of course expect no such fresh illumination. Many important wail-paintings of the Roman age have been found at Rome and Pompeii: but we have no certain or even probable work of any great Greek painter. We have to content ourselves with studying the colouring of reliefs, such as those of the sarcophagi at Constantinople, and the drawings on vases, in order to get some notion of the composition and drawing of painted scenes in the great age of Greece. As to the portraits of the Roman age painted on wood which have come in considerable quantities from Egypt, they stand at a far lower level than even the paintings of Pompeii. The number of our vase-paintings, however, increases steadily, and whole classes, such as the early vases of Ionia, are being marked off from the crowd, and so becoming available for use in illustrating the history of Hellenic civilization.
The study of Greek art is thus one which is eminently progressive. It has over the study of Greek literature the immense advantage that its materials increase far more rapidly. And it is becoming more and more evident that a sound and methodic study of Greek art is quite as indispensable as a foundation for an artistic and archaeological education as the study of Greek poets and orators is as a basis of literary education. The extreme simplicity and thorough rationality of Greek art make it an unrivalled field for the training and exercise of the faculties which go to the making of the art-critic and art historian.
2. The General Principles of Greek Art.—Before proceeding to sketch the history of the rise and decline of Greek art, it is desirable briefly to set forth the principles which underlie it (see also P. Gardner’s Grammar of Greek Art).
As the literature of Greece is composed in a particular language, the grammar and the syntax of which have to be studied before the works in poetry and prose can be read, so Greek works of art are composed in what may be called an artistic language. To the accidence of a grammar may be compared the mere technique of sculpture and painting: to the syntax of a grammar correspond the principles of composition and grouping of individual figures into a relief or picture. By means of the rules of this grammar the Greek artist threw into form the ideas which belonged to him as a personal or a racial possession.
We may mention first some of the more external conditions of Greek art; next, some of those which the Greek spirit posited for itself.
No nation is in its works wholly free from the domination of climate and geographical position; least of all a people so keenly alive to the influence of the outer world as the Greeks. They lived in a land where the soil was dry and rocky, far less hospitable to vegetation than that of western Europe, while on all sides the horizon of the land was bounded by hard and jagged lines of mountain. The sky was extremely clear and bright, sunshine for a great part of the year almost perpetual, and storms, which are more than passing gales, rare. It was in accordance with these natural features that temples and other buildings should be simple in form and bounded by clear lines. Such forms as the cube, the oblong, the cylinder, the triangle, the pyramid abound in their constructions. Just as in Switzerland the gables of the chalets match the pine-clad slopes and lofty summits of the mountains, so in Greece, amid barer hills of less elevation, the Greek temple looks thoroughly in place. But its construction is related not only to the surface of the land, but also to the character of the race. M. Émile Boutmy, in his interesting Philosophie de l’architecture en Grèce, has shown how the temple is a triumph of the senses and the intellect, not primarily emotional, but showing in every part definite purpose and design. It also exhibits in a remarkable degree the love of balance, of symmetry, of a mathematical proportion of parts and correctness of curvature which belong to the Greek artist.
The purposes of a Greek temple may be readily judged from its plan. Primarily it was the abode of the deity, whose statue dwelt in it as men dwell in their own houses. Hence the cella or naos is the central feature of the building. Here was placed the image to which worship was brought, while the treasures belonging to the god were disposed partly in the cella itself, partly in a kind of treasury which often existed, as in the Parthenon, behind the cella. There was in large temples a porch of approach, the pronaos, and another behind, the opisthodomos. Temples were not meant for, nor accommodated to, regular services or a throng of worshippers. Processions and festivals took place in the open air, in the streets and fields, and men entered the abodes of the gods at most in groups and families, commonly alone. Thus when a place had been found for the statue, which stood for the presence of the god, for the small altar of incense, for the implements of cult and the gifts of votaries, little space remained free, and great spaces or subsidiary chapels such as are usual in Christian cathedrals did not exist (see Temple).
Here our concern is not with the purposes or arrangements of a temple, but with its appearance and construction, regarded as a work of art, and as an embodiment of Greek ideas. A few simple and striking principles may be formulated, which are characteristic of all Greek buildings:—
(i.) Each member of the building has one function, and only one, and this function controls even the decoration of that member. The pillar of a temple is made to support the architrave and is for that purpose only. The flutings of the pillar, being perpendicular, emphasize this fact. The line of support which runs up through the pillar is continued in the triglyph, which also shows perpendicular grooves. On the other hand, the wall of a temple is primarily meant to divide or space off; thus it may well at the top be decorated by a horizontal band of relief, which belongs to it as a border belongs to a curtain. The base of a column, if moulded, is moulded in such a way as to suggest support of a great weight; the capital of a column is so carved as to form a transition between the column and the cornice which it supports.
(ii.) Greek architects took the utmost pains with the proportions, the symmetry as they called it, of the parts of their buildings. This was a thing in which the keen and methodical eyes of the Greeks delighted, to a degree which a modern finds it hard to understand. Simple and natural relations, 1:2, 1:3, 2:3 and the like, prevailed between various members of a construction. All curves were planned with great care, to please the eye with their flow; and the alternations and correspondences of features is visible at a glance. For example, the temple must have two pediments and two porches, and on its sides and fronts triglyph and metope must alternate with unvarying regularity.
(iii.) Rigidity in the simple lines of a temple is avoided by the device that scarcely any outline is actually straight. All are carefully planned and adapted to the eye of the spectator. In the Parthenon the line of the floor is curved, the profiles of the columns are curved, the corner columns slope inward from their bases, the columns are not even equidistant. This elaborate adaptation, called entasis, was expounded by F. C. Penrose in his work on Athenian architecture, and has since been observed in several of the great temples of Greece.
(iv.) Elaborate decoration is reserved for those parts of the temple which have, or at least appear to have, no strain laid upon them. It is true that in the archaic age experiments were made in carving reliefs on the lower drums of columns (as at Ephesus) and on the line of the architrave (as at Assus). But such examples were not followed. Nearly always the spaces reserved for mythological reliefs or groups are the tops of walls, the spaces between the triglyphs, and particularly the pediments surmounting the two fronts, which might be left hollow without danger to the stability of the edifice. Detached figures in the round are in fact found only in the pediments, or standing upon the tops of the pediments. And metopes are sculptured in higher relief than friezes.
“When we examine in detail even the simplest architectural decoration, we discover a combination of care, sense of proportion, and reason. The flutings of an Ionic column are not in section mere arcs of a circle, but made up of a combination of curves which produce a beautiful optical effect; the lines of decoration, as may be best seen in the case of the Erechtheum, are cut with a marvellous delicacy. Instead of trying to invent new schemes, the mason contents himself with improving the regular patterns until they approach perfection, and he takes everything into consideration. Mouldings on the outside of a temple, in the full light of the sun, are differently planned from those in the diffused light of the interior. Mouldings executed in soft stone are less fine than those in marble. The mason thinks before he works, and while he works, and thinks in entire correspondence with his surroundings.”
Greek architecture, however, is treated elsewhere (see Architecture); we will therefore proceed to speak briefly of the principles exemplified in sculpture. Existing works of Greek sculpture fall easily into two classes. The first class comprises what may be called works of substantive art, statues or groups made for their own sake and to be judged by themselves. Such are cult-statues of gods and goddesses from temple and shrine, honorary portraits of rulers or of athletes, dedicated groups and the like. The second class comprises decorative sculptures, such as were made, usually in relief, for the decoration of temples and tombs and other buildings, and were intended to be subordinate to architectural effect.
Speaking broadly, it may be said that the works of substantive sculpture in our museums are in the great majority of cases copies of doubtful exactness and very various merit. The Hermes of Praxiteles is almost the only marble statue which can be assigned positively to one of the great sculptors; we have to work back towards the productions of the peers of Praxiteles through works of poor execution, often so much restored in modern times as to be scarcely recognizable. Decorative works, on the other hand, are very commonly originals, and their date can often be accurately fixed, as they belong to known buildings. They are thus infinitely more trustworthy and more easy to deal with than the copies of statues of which the museums of Europe, and more especially those of Italy, are full. They are also more commonly unrestored. But yet there are certain disadvantages attaching to them. Decorative works, even when carried out under the supervision of a great sculptor, were but seldom executed by him. Usually they were the productions of his pupils or masons. Thus they are not on the same level of art as substantive sculpture. And they vary in merit to an extraordinary extent, according to the capacity of the man who happened to have them in hand, and who was probably but little controlled. Every one knows how noble are the pedimental sculptures of the Parthenon. But we know no reason why they should be so vastly superior to the frieze from Phigalia; nor why the heads from the temple at Tegea should be so fine, while those from the contemporary temple at Epidaurus should be comparatively insignificant. From the records of payments made to the sculptors who worked on the Erechtheum at Athens it appears that they were ordinary masons, some of them not even citizens, and paid at the rate of 60 drachms (about 60 francs) for each figure, whether of man or horse, which they produced. Such piece-work would not, in our days, produce a very satisfactory result.
Works of substantive sculpture may be divided into two classes, the statues of human beings and those of the gods. The line between the two is not, however, very easy to draw, or very definite. For in representing men the Greek sculptor had an irresistible inclination to idealize, to represent what was generic and typical rather than what was individual, and the essential rather than the accidental. And in representing deities he so fully anthropomorphized them that they became men and women, only raised above the level of everyday life and endowed with a superhuman stateliness. Moreover, there was a class of heroes represented largely in art who covered the transition from men to gods. For example, if one regards Heracles as a deity and Achilles as a man of the heroic age and of heroic mould, the line between the two will be found to be very narrow.
Nevertheless one may for convenience speak first of human and afterwards of divine figures. It was the custom from the 6th century onwards to honour those who had done any great achievement by setting up their statues in conspicuous positions. One of the earliest examples is that of the tyrannicides, Harmodius and Aristogiton, a group, a copy of which has come down to us (Plate I. fig. 50). Again, people who had not won any distinction were in the habit of dedicating to the deities portraits of themselves or of a priest or priestess, thus bringing themselves, as it were, constantly under the notice of a divine patron. The rows of statues before the temples at Miletus, Athens and elsewhere came thus into being. But from the point of view of art, by far the most important class of portraits consisted of athletes who had won victories at some of the great games of Greece, at Olympia, Delphi or elsewhere. Early in the 6th century the custom arose of setting up portraits of athletic victors in the great sacred places. We have records of numberless such statues executed by all the greatest sculptors. When Pausanias visited Greece he found them everywhere far too numerous for complete mention.
It is the custom of studying and copying the forms of the finest of the young athletes, combined with the Greek habit of complete nudity during the sports, which lies at the basis of Greek excellence in sculpture. Every sculptor had unlimited opportunities for observing young vigorous bodies in every pose and in every variety of strain. The natural sense of beauty which was an endowment of the Greek race impelled him to copy and preserve what was excellent, and to omit what was ungainly or poor. Thus there existed, and in fact there was constantly accumulating, a vast series of types of male beauty, and the public taste was cultivated to an extreme delicacy. And of course this taste, though it took its start from athletic customs, and was mainly nurtured by them, spread to all branches of portraiture, so that elderly men, women, and at last even children, were represented in art with a mixture of ideality and fidelity to nature such as has not been reached by the sculpture of any other people.
The statues of the gods began either with stiff and ungainly figures roughly cut out of the trunk of a tree, or with the monstrous and symbolical representations of Oriental art. In the Greece of late times there were still standing rude pillars, with the tops sometimes cut into a rough likeness to the human form. And in early decoration of vases and vessels one may find Greek deities represented with wings, carrying in their hands lions or griffins, bearing on their heads lofty crowns. But as Greek art progressed it grew out of this crude symbolism. In the language of Brunn, the Greek artists borrowed from Oriental or Mycenaean sources the letters used in their works, but with these letters they spelled out the ideas of their own nation. What the artists of Babylon and Egypt express in the character of the gods by added attribute or symbol, swiftness by wings, control of storms by the thunderbolt, traits of character by animal heads, the artists of Greece work more and more fully into the sculptural type; modifying the human subject by the constant addition of something which is above the ordinary level of humanity, until we reach the Zeus of Pheidias or the Demeter of Cnidus. When the decay of the high ethical art of Greece sets in, the gods become more and more warped to the merely human level. They lose their dignity, but they never lose their charm.
The decorative sculpture of Greece consists not of single figures, but of groups; and in the arrangement of these groups the strict Greek laws of symmetry, of rhythm, and of balance, come in. We will take the three most usual forms, the pediment, the metope and the frieze, all of which belong properly to the temple, but are characteristic of all decoration, whether of tomb, trophy or other monument.
The form of the pediment is triangular; the height of the triangle in proportion to its length being about 1:8. The conditions of space are here strict and dominant; to comply with them requires some ingenuity. To a modern sculptor the problem thus presented is almost insoluble; but it was allowable in ancient art to represent figures in a single composition as of various sizes, in correspondence not to actual physical measurement but to importance. As the more important figures naturally occupy the midmost place in a pediment, their greater size comes in conveniently. And by placing some of the persons of the group in a standing, some in a seated, some in a reclining position, it can be so contrived that their heads are equidistant from the upper line of the pediment.
The statues in a Greek pediment, which are after quite an early period usually executed in the round, fall into three, five or seven groups, according to the size of the whole. As examples to illustrate this exposition we take the two pediments of the temple at Olympia, the most complete which have come down to us, which are represented in figs. 33 and 34. The east pediment represents the preparation for the chariot race between Pelops and Oenomaus. The central group consists of five figures, Zeus standing between the two pairs of competitors and their wives. In the corners recline the two river-gods Alpheus and Cladeus, who mark the locality; and the two sides are filled up with the closely corresponding groups of the chariots of Oenomaus and Pelops with their grooms and attendants. Every figure to the left of Zeus balances a corresponding figure on his right, and all the lines of the composition slope towards a point above the apex of the pediment.
In the opposite or western pediment is represented the battle between Lapiths and Centaurs which broke out at the marriage of Peirithous in Thessaly. Here we have no less than nine groups. In the midst is Apollo. On each side of him is a group of three, a centaur trying to carry off a woman and a Lapith striking at him. Beyond these on each side is a struggling pair, next once more a trio of two combatants and a woman, and finally in each corner two reclining female figures, the outermost apparently nymphs to mark locality. A careful examination of these compositions will show the reader more clearly than detailed description how clearly in this kind of group Greek artists adhered to the rules of rhythm and of balance.
The metopes were the long series of square spaces which ran along the outer walls of temples between the upright triglyphs and the cornice. Originally they may have been left open and served as windows; but the custom came in as early as the 7th century, first of filling them in with painted boards or slabs of stone, and next of adorning them with sculpture. The metopes of the Treasury of Sicyon at Delphi (Plate IV. fig. 66) are as early as the first half of the 6th century. This recurrence of a long series of square fields for occupation well suited the genius and the habits of the sculptor. As subjects he took the successive exploits of some hero such as Heracles or Theseus, or the contemporary groups of a battle. His number of figures was limited to two or three, and these figures had to be worked into a group or scheme, the main features of which were determined by artistic tradition, but which could be varied in a hundred ways so as to produce a pleasing and in some degree novel result.
With metopes, as regards shape, we may compare the reliefs of Greek tombs, which also usually occupy a space roughly square, and which also comprise but a few figures arranged in a scheme generally traditional. A figure standing giving his hand to one seated, two men standing hand in hand, or a single figure in some vigorous pose is sufficient to satisfy the simple but severe taste of the Greeks.
In regard to friezes, which are long reliefs containing figures ranged between parallel lines, there is more variety of custom. In temples the height of the relief from the background varies according to the light in which it was to stand, whether direct or diffused. Almost all Greek friezes, however, are of great simplicity in arrangement and perspective. Locality is at most hinted at by a few stones or trees, never actually portrayed. There is seldom more than one line of figures, in combat or procession, their heads all equidistant from the top line of the frieze. They are often broken up into groups; and when this is the case, figure will often balance figure on either side of a central point almost as rigidly as in a pediment. An example of this will be found in the section of the Mausoleum frieze shown in fig. 70, Plate IV. Some of the friezes executed by Greek artists for semi-Greek peoples, such as those adorning the tomb at Trysa in Lycia, have two planes, the figures in the background being at a higher level.
The rules of balance and symmetry in composition which are followed in Greek decorative art are still more to be discerned in the paintings of vases, which must serve, in the absence of more dignified compositions, to enlighten us as to the methods of Greek painters. Great painters would not, of course, be bound by architectonic rule in the same degree as the mere workmen who painted vases. Nevertheless we must never forget that Greek painting of the earlier ages was of extreme simplicity. It did not represent localities, save by some slight hint; it had next to no perspective; the colours used were but very few even down to the days of Apelles. Most of the great pictures of which we hear consisted of but one or two figures; and when several figures were introduced they were kept apart and separately treated, though, of course, not without relation to one another. Idealism and ethical purpose must have predominated in painting as in sculpture and in the drama and in the writing of history.
|(Brit. Mus. Catalogue of Vases, iii., Pl. vi. 2).|
|Fig. 1.—Kylix by Epictetus.|
We will take from vases a few simple groups to illustrate the laws of Greek drawing; colouring we cannot illustrate.
The fields offered to the draughtsman on Greek vases naturally follow the form of the vase; but they may be set down as approximately round, square or oblong. To each of these spaces the artist carefully adapts his designs. In fig. 1 we have a characteristic adaptation to circular form by the vase painter Epictetus.
In the early period of painting all the space not occupied by the figures is filled with patterns or accessories, or even animals which have no connexion with the subject (fig. 9). In later and more developed art, as in this example, the outlines are so figured as to fill the space.
When the space is square we have much the same problem as is presented by the metope spaces of a temple. In the case of both square and oblong fields the laws of balance are carefully observed. Thus if there is an even number of figures in the scheme, two of them will form a sort of centre-piece, those on either side balancing one another. If the number of figures is uneven, either there will be a group of three in the midst, or the midmost figure will be so contrived that he belongs wholly to neither side, but is the balance between them. These remarks will be made clear by figs. 2 and 3, which repeat the two sides of an amphora, one of which bears a design of three figures, the other of four.
|From Wiener Vorlegeblätter, 1890, Pl. viii., by permission of the Director of the K. K. Österr. Archäol. Institut.|
|Fig. 2.Vase Drawings.Fig. 3.|
The Greek artist not only adhered to the architectonic laws of balance and symmetry, but he thought in schemes. Certain group arrangements had a recognized signification. There are schemes for warriors fighting on equal terms, and schemes which represent the defeat of one of these by the other; the vanquished has commonly fallen on his knees, but still defends himself. There is a scheme for the leading away of a captive woman; the captor leads her by the hand looking back at her, while a friend walks behind to ward off pursuit. Such schemes, are constantly varied in detail, and often very skilfully varied; but the Greek artist uses schemes as a sort of shorthand, to show as clearly as possible what he meant. They serve the same purpose as the mask in the acting of a play, the first glance at which will tell the spectators what they have to look for.
No doubt the great painters of Greece were not so much under the dominion of these schemes as the very inferior painters of vases. They used the schemes for their own purposes instead of being used by them. But as great poets do not revolt against the restrictions of the sonnet or of rhyme, so great artists in Greece probably found recognized conventions more helpful than hurtful.
Students of Greek sculpture and vases must be warned not to suppose that Greek reliefs and drawings can be taken as direct illustrations of Homer or the dramatists. Book illustration in the modern sense did not exist in Greece. The poet and the painter pursued courses which were parallel, but never in actual contact. Each moved by the traditions of his own craft. The poet took the accepted tale and enshrined it in a setting of feeling and imagination. The painter took the traditional schemes which were current, and altered or enlarged them, adding new figures and new motives, but not attempting to set aside the general scheme. But varieties suitable to poetry were not likely to be suitable in painting. Thus it is but seldom that a vase-painter seems to have had in his mind, as he drew, passages of the Homeric poems, though these might well be familiar to him. And almost never does a vase-painting of the 5th century show any sign of the influence of the dramatists, who were bringing before the Athenian public on the stage many of the tales and incidents popular with the vase-painter. Only on vases of lower Italy of the 4th century and later we can occasionally discern something of Aeschylean and Euripidean influence in the treatment of a myth; and even in a few cases we may discern that the vase-painter has taken suggestions direct from the actors in the theatre.
3. Historic Sketch.—We propose next to trace in brief outline the history of Greek art from its rise to its decay. We begin with the rise of a national art, after the destruction of the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations of early Greece by the irruption of tribes from the north, that is to say, about 800 B.C., and we stop with the Roman age of Greece, after which Greek art works in the service of the conquerors (see Roman Art). The period 800–50 B.C. we divide into four sections: (1) the period down to the Persian Wars, 800–480 B.C.; (2) the period of the early schools of art, 480–400 B.C.; (3) the period of the later great schools, 400–300 B.C.; (4) the period of Hellenistic art, 300–50 B.C. In dealing with these successive periods we confine our sketch to the three greater branches of representative art, architecture, sculpture and painting, which in Greece are closely connected. The lesser arts, of pottery, gem-engraving, coin-stamping and the like, are treated of under the heads of Ceramics, Gem, Numismatics, &c., while the more technical treatment of architectural construction are dealt with under Architecture and allied architectural articles. Further, for brief accounts of the chief artists the reader is referred to biographical articles, under such heads as Pheidias, Praxiteles, Apelles. We treat here only of the main course of art in its historic evolution.
Period I. 800–480 B.C.—The fact is now generally allowed that the Mycenaean, or as it is now termed Aegean, civilization was for the most part destroyed by an invasion from the north. This invasion appears to have been gradual; its racial character is much in dispute. Archaeological evidence abundantly proves that it was the Northern invasion. conquest of a more by a less rich and civilized race. In the graves of the period (900–600 B.C.) we find none of the wealthy spoil which has made celebrated the tombs of Mycenae and Vaphio (q.v.). The character of the pottery and the bronze-work which is found in these later graves reminds us of the art of the necropolis of Hallstatt in Austria, and other sites belonging to what is called the bronze age of North Europe. Its predominant characteristic is the use of geometrical forms, the lozenge, the triangle, the maeander, the circle with tangents, in place of the elaborate spirals and plant-forms which mark Mycenaean ware. For this reason the period from the 9th to the 7th century in Greece passes by the name of “the Geometric Age.” It is commonly held that in the remains of the Geometric Age we may trace the influence of the Dorians, who, coming in as a hardy but uncultivated race, probably of purer Aryan blood than the previous inhabitants of Greece, not only brought to an end the wealth and the luxury which marked the Mycenaean age, but also replaced an art which was in character essentially southern by one which belonged rather to the north and the west. The great difficulty inherent in this view, a difficulty which has yet to be met, lies in the fact that some of the most abundant and characteristic remains of the geometric age which we possess come, not from Peloponnesus, but from Athens and Boeotia, which were never conquered by the Dorians.
|Mon. d. Inst. ix. 39.|
|Fig. 5.—Corpse with Mourners.|
|Arch. Zeit. 1884, 8.|
|Fig. 6.—Gold Plaques: Corinth.|
|Olympia iv. 33.|
|Fig. 7.—Handle of Tripod.|
The geometric ware is for the most part adorned with painted patterns only. Fig. 4 is a characteristic example, a small two-handled vase from Rhodes in the Ashmolean Museum, the adornment of which consists in zigzags, circles with tangents, and lines of water birds, perhaps swans. Sometimes, however, especially in the case of large vases from Geometric ware. the cemetery at Athens, which adjoins the Dipylon gate, scenes from Greek life are depicted, from daily life, not from legend or divine myth. Especially scenes from the lying-in-state and the burial of the dead are prevalent. An excerpt from a Dipylon vase (fig. 5) shows a dead man on his couch surrounded by mourners, male and female. Both sexes are apparently represented naked, and are distinguished very simply; some of them hold branches to sprinkle the corpse or to keep away flies. It will be seen how primitive and conventional is the drawing of this age, presenting a wonderful contrast to the free drawing and modelling of the Mycenaean age. In the same graves with the pottery are sometimes found plaques of gold or bronze, and towards the end of the geometric age these somtimes bear scenes from mythology, treated with the greatest simplicity. For example, in the museum of Berlin are the contents of a tomb found at Corinth, consisting mainly of gold work of geometric decoration. But in the same tomb were also found gold plates or plaques of repoussé work bearing subjects from Greek legend. Two of these are shown in fig. 6. On one Theseus is slaying the Minotaur, while Ariadne stands by and encourages the hero. The tale could not have been told in a simpler or more straightforward way. On the other we have an armed warrior with his charioteer in a chariot drawn by two horses. The treatment of the human body is here more advanced than on the vases of the Dipylon. On the site of Olympia, where Mycenaean remains are not found, but the earliest monuments show the geometric style, a quantity of dedications in bronze have been found, the decoration of which belongs to this style. Fig. 7 shows the handle of a tripod from Olympia, which is adorned with geometric patterns and surmounted by the figure of a horse.
It was about the 6th century that the genius of the Greeks, almost suddenly, as it seems to us, emancipated itself from the thraldom of tradition, and passed beyond the limits with which the nations of the east and west had hitherto been content, in a free and bold effort towards the ideal. Thus the 6th century marks the stage in art in which it may be said to have become definitely Hellenic. The Greeks still borrowed many of their decorative forms, either from the prehistoric remains in their own country or, through Phoenician agency, from the old-world empires of Egypt and Babylon, but they used those forms freely to express their own meaning. And gradually, in the course of the century, we see both in the painting of vases and in sculpture a national spirit and a national style forming under the influence of Greek religion and mythology, Greek athletic training, Greek worship of beauty. We must here lay emphasis on the fact, which is sometimes overlooked in an age which is greatly given to the Darwinian search after origins, that it is one thing to trace back to its original sources the nascent art of Greece, and quite another thing to follow and to understand its gradual embodiment of Hellenic ideas and civilization. The immense success with which the veil has in late years been lifted from the prehistoric age of Greece, and the clearness with which we can discern the various strands woven into the web of Greek art, have tended to fix our attention rather on what Greece possessed in common with all other peoples at the same early stage of civilization than on what Greece added for herself to this common stock. In many respects the art of Greece is incomparable—one of the great inspirations which have redeemed the world from mediocrity and vulgarity. And it is the searching out and appreciation of this unique and ideal beauty in all its phases, in idea and composition and execution, which is the true task of Greek archaeological science.
|Mus. Napoléon, 57.|
|Fig. 8.—Jug from Rhodes.|
In very recent years it has been possible, for the first time, to trace the influence of Ionian painting, as represented by vases, on the rise of art. The discoveries at Naucratis and Daphnae in Egypt, due to the keenness and pertinacity of W. M. Flinders Petrie, threw new light on this matter. It became evident that when those cities were first inhabited Ionian vases. by Ionian Greeks, in the 7th century, they used pottery of several distinct but allied styles, the most notable feature of which was the use of the lotus in decoration, the presence of continuous friezes of animals and of monsters, and the filling up of the background with rosettes, lozenges and other forms. Fig. 8 shows a vase found in Rhodes which illustrates this Ionian decoration. The sphinx, the deer and the swan are prominent on it, the last-named serving as a link between the geometric ware and the more brilliant and varied ware of the Ionian cities. The assignment of the many species of early Ionic ware to various Greek localities, Miletus, Samos, Phocaea and other cities, is a work of great difficulty, which now closely occupies the attention of archaeologists. For the results of their studies the reader is referred to two recent German works, Böhlau’s Aus ionischen und italischen Nekropolen, and Endt’s Beiträge zur ionischen Vasenmalerei. The feature which is most interesting in this pottery from our present point of view is the way in which representations of Greek myth and legend gradually make their way, and relegate the mere decoration of the vases to borders and neck. One of the earliest examples of representation of a really Greek subject is the contest of Menelaus and Euphorbus on a plate found in Rhodes. On the vases of Melos, of the 7th century, which are, however, not Ionian, but rather Dorian in character, we have a certain number of mythological scenes, battles of Homeric heroes and the like. One of these is shown in fig. 9. It represents Apollo in a chariot drawn by winged horses, playing on the lyre, and accompanied by a pair of Muses, meeting his sister Artemis. It is notable that Apollo is bearded, and that Artemis holds her stag by the horns, much in the manner of the deities on Babylonian cylinders; in the other hand she carries an arrow; above is a line of water birds.
|Conze, Mel. Tongefässe, 4.|
|Fig. 9.—Vase Painting: Melos.|
Some sites in Asia Minor and the islands adjoining, such cities as Samos, Camirus in Rhodes, and the Ionian colonies on the Black Sea, have furnished us with a mass of ware of the Ionian class, but it seldom bears interesting subjects; it is essentially decorative. For Ionian ware which has closer relation to Greek mythology and history we must turn elsewhere. The cemeteries of the great Etruscan cities, Caere in particular, have preserved for us a large number of vases, which are now generally recognized as Ionian in design and drawing, though they may in some cases be only Italian imitations of Ionian imported ware. Thus has been filled up what was a blank page in the history of early Greek art. The Ionian painting is unrestrained in character, characterized by a licence not foreign to the nature of the race, and wants the self-control and moderation which belong to Doric art, and to Attic art after the first.
Some of the most interesting examples of early Ionic painting are found on the sarcophagi of Clazomenae. In that city in archaic times an exceptional custom prevailed of burying the dead in great coffins of terra-cotta adorned with painted scenes from chariot-racing, war and the chase. The British Museum possesses some remarkable specimens, which are published in A. S. Murray’s Terra-Cotta Sarcophagi of the British Museum. On one of them he sees depicted a battle between Cimmerian invaders and Greeks, the former accompanied to the field by their great war-dogs. In some of the representations of hunting on these sarcophagi the hunters ride in chariots, a way of hunting quite foreign to the Greeks, but familiar to us from Assyrian wall-sculptures. We know that the life of the Ionians before the Persian conquest was refined and not untinged with luxury, and they borrowed many of the stately ways of the satraps of the kings of Assyria and Persia.
|Furtwängler, Goldfund v. Vettersfelde.|
|Fig. 10.—Fish of gold.|
Fig. 10 shows a curious product of the Ionian workshops, a fish of solid gold, adorned with reliefs which represent a flying eagle, lions pulling down their prey, and a monstrous sea-god among his fishes. This relic is the more valuable on account of the spot where it was found—Vettersfelde in Brandenburg. It furnishes a proof that the influence and perhaps the commerce of the Greek colonies on the Black Sea spread far to the north through the countries of the Scythians and other barbarians. The fish dates from the 6th century B.C.
|Fig. 11.—Gold Ornaments from Camirus.|
We may compare some of the gold ornaments from Camirus in Rhodes, which show an Ionian tendency, perhaps combined with Phoenician elements. On one of them (fig. 11) we see a centaur with human forelegs holding up a fawn, on the other the oriental goddess whom the Greeks identified with their Artemis, winged, and flanked by lions. This form was given to Artemis on the Corinthian chest of Cypselus, a work of art preserved at Olympia, and carefully described for us by Pausanias.
From Ionia the style of vase-painting which has been called by various names, but may best be termed the “orientalizing,” spread to Greece proper. Its main home here was in Corinth; and small Corinthian unguent-vases bearing figures of swans, lions, monsters and human beings, the intervals between which are filled by rosettes, are found wherever Corinthian trade penetrated, notably in the cemeteries of Sicily. For the larger Corinthian vases, which bore more elaborate scenes from mythology, we must again turn to the graves of the cities of Etruria. Here, besides the Ionian ware, of which mention has already been made, we find pottery of three Greek cities clearly defined, that of Corinth, that of Chalcis in Euboea, and that of Athens. Corinthian and Chalcidian ware is most readily distinguished by means of the alphabets used in the inscriptions which have distinctive forms easily to be identified. Whether in the style of the paintings coming from the various cities any distinct differences may be traced is a far more difficult question, into which we cannot now enter. The subjects are mostly from heroic legend, and are treated with great simplicity and directness. There is a manly vigour about them which distinguishes them at a glance from the laxer works of Ionian style. Fig. 12 shows a group from a Chalcidian vase, which represents the conflict over the dead body of Achilles. The corpse of the hero lies in the midst, the arrow in his heel. The Trojan Glaucus tries to draw away the body by means of a rope tied round the ankle, but in doing so is transfixed by the spear of Ajax, who charges under the protection of the goddess Athena. Paris on the Trojan side shoots an arrow at Ajax.
|Mon. d. Inst. i. 51.|
|Fig. 12.—Fight over the Body of Achilles.|
In fig. 13, from a Corinthian vase, Ajax falls on his sword in the presence of his colleagues, Odysseus and Diomedes. The short stature of Odysseus is a well-known Homeric feature. These vases are black-figured; the heroes are painted in silhouette on the red ground of the vases. Their names are appended in archaic Greek letters.
|Mus. Napoléon, 66.|
|Fig. 13.—Suicide of Ajax.|
|Arch. Zeit. 1882, 9.|
|Fig. 14.—Harpies: Attic Vase.|
The early history of vase-painting at Athens is complicated. It was only by degrees that the geometric style gave way to, or developed into, what is known as the black-figured style. It would seem that until the age of Peisistratus Athens was not notable in the world of art, and nothing could be ruder than some of the vases of Athens in the 7th century, Athens. for example that here figured, on one side of which are represented the winged Harpies (fig. 14) and on the other Perseus accompanied by Athena flying from the pursuit of the Gorgons. This vase retains in its decoration some features of geometric style; but the lotus and rosette, the lion and sphinx which appear on it, belong to the wave of Ionian influence. Although it involves a departure from strict chronological order, it will be well here to follow the course of development in pottery at Athens until the end of our period. Neighbouring cities, and especially Corinth, seem to have exercised a strong influence at Athens about the 7th century. We have even a class of vases called by archaeologists Corintho-Attic. But in the course of the 6th century there is formed at Athens a distinct and marked black-figured style. The most-remarkable example of this ware is the so-called François vase at Munich, by Clitias and Ergotimus, which contains, in most careful and precise rendering, a number of scenes from Greek myth. One of these vases is dated, since it bears the name and the figure of Callias in his chariot (Mon. dell’ Inst. iii. 45), and this Callias won a victory at Olympia in 564 B.C. Fig. 15 shows the reverse of a somewhat later black-figured vase of the Panathenaic class, given at Athens as a prize to the winner of a foot-race at the Panathenaea, with the foot-race (stadion) represented on it. A large number of Athenian vases of the 6th century have reached us, which bear the signatures of the potters who made, or the artists who painted them; lists of these will be found in the useful work of Klein, Griechische Vasen mit Meistersignaturen. The recent excavations on the Acropolis have proved the erroneousness of the view, strongly maintained by Brunn, that the mass of the black-figured vases were of a late and imitative fabric. We now know that, with a few exceptions, vases of this class are not later than the early part of the 5th century. The same excavations have also proved that red-figured vase-painting, that is, vase-painting in which the background was blocked out with black, and the figures left in the natural colour of the vase originated at Athens in the last quarter of the 6th century. We cannot here give a detailed account of the beautiful series of Athenian vases of this fabric. Many of the finest of them are in the British Museum. As an example, fig. 16 presents a group by the painter Pamphaeus, representing Heracles wrestling with the river-monster Achelous, which belongs to the age of the Persian Wars. The clear precision of the figures, the vigour of the grouping, the correctness of the anatomy and the delicacy of the lines are all marks of distinction. The student of art will perhaps find the nearest parallel to these vase-pictures in Japanese drawings. The Japanese artists are very inferior to the Greek in their love and understanding of the human body, but equal them in freshness and vigour of design. At the same time began the beautiful series of white vases made at Athens for the purpose of burial with the dead, and found in great quantities in the cemeteries of Athens, of Eretria, of Gela in Sicily, and of some other cities. They are well represented in the British Museum and that of Oxford.
|Mon. d. Inst. x. 48 m.|
|Fig. 15.—Foot-race: Panathenaic Vase.|
|Wiener Vorlegeblätter, D. 6.|
|Fig. 16.—Heracles and Achelous.|
We now return to the early years of the 6th century, and proceed to trace, by the aid of recent discoveries, the rise of architecture and sculpture. The Greek temple in its character and form gives the clue to the whole character of Greek art. It is the abode of the deity, who is represented by his sacred image; and the flat surfaces of the temple offer a great field to the sculptor for the depicting of sacred legend. The process of discovery has emphasized the line which divides Ionian from Dorian architecture and art. We will speak first of the temples and the sculpture of Ionia. The Ionians were a people far more susceptible than were the Dorians to oriental influences. The dress, the art, the luxury of western Asia attracted them with irresistible force. We may suspect, as Brunn has suggested, that Ionian artists worked in the great Assyrian and Persian palaces, and that the reliefs which adorn the walls of those palaces were in part their handiwork. Some of the great temples of Ionia have been excavated in recent years, notably those of Apollo at Miletus, of Hera at Samos, and of Artemis at Ephesus. Very little, however, of the architecture of the 6th-century temples of those sites has been recovered. Quite recently, however, the French excavators at Delphi have successfully restored the Delphi. treasury of the people of Cnidus, which is quite a gem of Ionic style, the entablature being supported in front not by pillars but by two maidens or Corae, and a frieze running all round the building above. But though this building is of Ionic type, it is scarcely in the technical sense of Ionic style, since the columns have not Ionic capitals, but are carved with curious reliefs. The Ionic capital proper is developed in Asia by degrees (see Architecture and Capital; also Perrot and Chipiez, Hist. de l’art, vii. ch. 4).
|from Fouilles de Delphes Album by permission of A. Fontemoing.|
|Fig. 17.—Restoration of the Treasury of Cnidus.|
The Doric temple is not wholly of European origin. One of the earliest examples is the old temple of Assus in Troas. Yet it was developed mainly in Hellas and the west. The most ancient example is the Heraeum at Olympia, next to which come the fragmentary temples of Corinth and of Selinus in Sicily. With the early Doric temple we are familiar from examples which have survived in fair preservation to our own days at Agrigentum in Sicily, Paestum in Italy, and other sites.
Of the decorative sculpture which adorned these early temples we have more extensive remains than we have of actual construction. It will be best to speak of them under their districts. On the coast of Asia Minor, the most extensive series of archaic decorative sculptures which has come down to us is that which adorned the temple of Assus (fig. 18). These were placed in a unique position on the temple, a long frieze running along the entablature, with representations of wild animals, of centaurs, of Hercules seizing Achelous, and of men feasting, scene succeeding scene without much order or method. The only figures from Miletus which can be considered as belonging to the original temple destroyed by Darius, are the dedicated seated statues, some of which, brought away by Sir Charles Newton, are now preserved at the British Museum. At Ephesus Mr Wood has been more successful, and has recovered considerable fragments of the temple of Artemis, to which, as Herodotus tells us, Croesus presented many columns. The lower part of one of these columns, bearing figures in relief of early Ionian style, has been put together at the British Museum; and remains of inscriptions recording the presentation by Croesus are still to be traced. Reliefs from a cornice of somewhat later date are also to be found at the British Museum. Among the Aegean Islands, Delos has furnished us with the most important remains of early art. French excavators have there found a very early statue of a woman dedicated by one Nicandra to Artemis, a figure which may be instructively compared with another from Samus, dedicated to Hera by Cheramues. The Delian statue is in shape like a flat beam; the Samian, which is headless, is like a round tree. The arms of the Delian figure are rigid to the sides; the Samian lady has one arm clasped to her breast. A great improvement on these helpless and inexpressive figures is marked by another figure found at Delos, and connected, though perhaps incorrectly, with a basis recording the execution of a statue by Archermus and Micciades, two sculptors who stood, in the middle of the 6th century, at the head of a sculptural school at Chios. The representation (fig. 19) is of a running or flying figure, having six wings, like the seraphim in the vision of Isaiah, and clad in long drapery. It may be a statue of Nike or Victory, who is said to have been represented in winged form by Archermus. The figure, with its neatness and precision of work, its expressive face and strong outlines, certainly marks great progress in the art of sculpture. When we examine the early sculpture of Athens, we find reason to think that the Chian school had great influence in that city in the days of Peisistratus.
|From Perrot and Chipiez, vii. pl. 35, by permission of Chapman and Hall, Ltd., and Hachette & Co.|
|Fig. 18.—Restoration of the Temple at Assus.|
|Fig. 19.—Nikē of Delos, restored.|
At Athens, in the age 650–480, we may trace two quite distinct periods of architecture and sculpture. In the earlier of the two periods, a rough limestone was used alike for the walls and the sculptural decoration of temples; in the later period it was superseded by marble, whether native or imported. Every visitor to the museum of the Athenian sculpture. Athenian acropolis stands astonished at the recently recovered groups which decorated the pediments of Athenian temples before the age of Peisistratus—groups of large size, rudely cut in soft stone, of primitive workmanship, and painted with bright red, blue and green, in a fashion which makes no attempt to follow nature, but only to produce a vivid result. The two largest in scale of these groups seem to have belonged to the pediments of the early 6th-century temple of Athena. On other smaller pediments, perhaps belonging to shrines of Heracles and Dionysus, we have conflicts of Heracles with Triton or with other monstrous foes. It is notable how fond the Athenian artists of this early time are of exaggerated muscles and of monstrous forms, which combine the limbs of men and of animals; the measure and moderation which mark developed Greek art are as completely absent as are skill in execution or power of grouping. Fig. 20 shows a small pediment in which appears in relief the slaying of the Lernaean hydra by Heracles. The hero strikes at the many-headed water-snake, somewhat inappropriately, with his club. Iolaus, his usual companion, holds the reins of the chariot which awaits Heracles after his victory. On the extreme left a huge crab comes to the aid of the hydra.
|Athen. Mitteil. x. 237.|
|Fig. 20.—Athenian Pediment: Heracles and Hydra.|
|Athen. Mitteil. xxii. 3.|
|Fig. 21.—Pediment: Athena and Giant.|
There can be little doubt that Athens owed its great start in art to the influence of the court of Peisistratus, at which artists of all kinds were welcome. We can trace a gradual transformation in sculpture, in which the influence of the Chian and other progressive schools of sculpture is visible, not only in the substitution of island marble for native stone, but in increased grace and truth to nature, in the toning down of glaring colour, and the appearance of taste in composition. A transition between the older and the newer is furnished by the well-known statue of the calf-bearer, an Athenian preparing to sacrifice a calf to the deities, which is made of marble of Hymettus, and in robust clumsiness of forms is not far removed from the limestone pediments. The sacrificer has been commonly spoken of as Hermes or Theseus, but he seems rather to be an ordinary human votary.
|Fig. 22.—Figure by Antenor, restored.|
In the time of Peisistratus or his sons a peristyle of columns was added to the old temple of Athena; and this necessitated the preparation of fresh pediments. These were of marble. In one of them was represented the battle between gods and giants; in the midst Athena herself striking at a prostrate foe (fig. 21). In these figures no eye can fail to trace remarkable progress. On about the same level of art are the charming statues dedicated to Athena, which were set up in the latter half of the 6th century in the Acropolis, whose graceful though conventional forms and delicate colouring make them one of the great attractions of the Acropolis Museum. We show a figure (fig. 22) which, if it be rightly connected with the basis on which it stands, is the work of the sculptor Antenor, who was also author of a celebrated group representing the tyrant-slayers, Harmodius and Aristogiton. To the same age belong many other votive reliefs of the Acropolis, representing horsemen, scribes and other votaries of Athena.
|Fig. 23.—Bust from Crete.|
From Athens we pass to the seats of Dorian art. And in doing so we find a complete change of character. In place of Dorian draped goddesses and female figures, we find nude male forms. In place of Ionian softness and elegance, we find hard, rigid outlines, strong muscular development, Dorian sculpture. a greater love of and faithfulness to the actual human form—the influence of the palaestra rather than of the harem. To the known series of archaic male figures, recent years have added many examples. We may especially mention a series of figures from the temple of Apollo Ptoos in Boeotia, probably representing the god himself. Still more noteworthy are two colossal nude figures of Apollo, remarkable both for force and for rudeness, found at Delphi, the inscriptions of which prove them to be the work of an Argive sculptor. (Plate V. fig. 76.) From Crete we have acquired the upper part of a draped figure (fig. 23), whether male or female is not certain, which should be an example of the early Daedalid school, whence the art of Peloponnesus was derived; but we can scarcely venture to treat it as a characteristic product of that school; rather the likeness to the dedication of Nicandra is striking.
Another remarkable piece of Athenian sculpture, of the time of the Persian Wars, is the group of the tyrannicides Harmodius and Aristogiton, set up by the people of Athens, and made by the sculptors Critius and Nesiotes. These figures were hard and rigid in outline, but showing some progress in the treatment of the nude. Copies are preserved in the museum of Naples (Plate I. fig. 50). It should be observed that one of the heads does not belong.
|Fig. 24.—Head of Hera: Olympia.||Fig. 25.—Spartan Tombstone: Berlin.|
Next in importance to Athens, as a find-spot for works of early Greek art, ranks Olympia. Olympia, however, did not suffer like Athens from sudden violence, and the explorations there have brought to light a continuous series of remains, beginning with the bronze tripods Olympia, Sparta, Selinus. of the geometric age already mentioned and ending at the barbarian invasions of the 4th century A.D. Notable among the 6th-century stone-sculpture of Olympia are the pediment of the treasury of the people of Megara, in which is represented a battle of gods and giants, and a huge rude head of Hera (fig. 24), which seems to be part of the image worshipped in the Heraeum. Its flatness and want of style are noteworthy. Among the temples of Greece proper the Heraeum of Olympia stands almost alone for antiquity and interest, its chief rival, besides the temples of Athens, being the other temple of Hera at Argos. It appears to have been originally constructed of wood, for which stone was by slow degrees, part by part, substituted. In the time of Pausanias one of the pillars was still of oak, and at the present day the varying diameter of the columns and other structural irregularities bear witness to the process of constant renewal which must have taken place. The early small bronzes of Olympia form an important series, figures of deities standing or striding, warriors in their armour, athletes with exaggerated muscles, and women draped in the Ionian fashion, which did not become unpopular in Greece until after the Persian Wars. Excavations at Sparta have revealed interesting monuments belonging to the worship of ancestors, which seems in the conservative Dorian states of Greece to have been more strongly developed than elsewhere. On some of these stones, which doubtless belonged to the family cults of Sparta, we see the ancestor seated holding a wine-cup, accompanied by his faithful horse or dog; on some we see the ancestor and ancestress seated side by side (fig. 25), ready to receive the gifts of their descendants, who appear in the corner of the relief on a much smaller scale. The male figure holds a wine-cup, in allusion to the libations of wine made at the tomb. The female figure holds her veil and the pomegranate, the recognized food of the dead. A huge serpent stands erect behind the pair. The style of these sculptures is as striking as the subjects; we see lean, rigid forms with severe outline carved in a very low relief, the surface of which is not rounded but flat. The name of Selinus in Sicily, an early Megarian colony, has long been associated with some of the most curious of early sculptures, the metopes of ancient temples, representing the exploits of Heracles and of Perseus. Even more archaic metopes have in recent years been brought to light, one representing a seated sphinx, one the journey of Europa over the sea on the back of the amorous bull (fig. 26), a pair of dolphins swimming beside her. In simplicity and in rudeness of work these reliefs remind us of the limestone pediments of Athens (fig. 20), but yet they are of another and a severer style; the Ionian laxity is wanting.
|Fig. 26.—Metope: Europa on Bull: Palermo.|
The recent French excavations at Delphi add a new and important chapter to the history of 6th-century art. Of three treasure-houses, those of Sicyon, Cnidus and Athens, the sculptural adornments have been in great part recovered. These sculptures form a series almost covering the century 570–470 B.C., and include representations of some myths Delphi. of which we have hitherto had no example. We may say here a few words as to the sculpture which has been discovered, leaving to the article Delphi an account of the topography and the buildings of the sacred site. Of the archaic temple of Apollo, built as Herodotus tells us by the Alcmaeonidae of Athens, the only sculptural remains which have come down to us are some fragments of the pedimental figures. Of the treasuries which contained the offerings of the pious at Delphi, the most archaic of which there are remains is that belonging to the people of Sicyon. To it appertain a set of exceedingly primitive metopes. One represents Idas and Dioscuri driving off cattle (Plate IV. fig. 66); another, the ship Argo; another, Europa on the bull, others merely animals, a ram or a boar. The treasury of the people of Cnidus (or perhaps Siphnos) is in style some half a century later (see fig. 17). To it belongs a long frieze representing a variety of curious subjects: a battle, perhaps between Greeks and Trojans, with gods and goddesses looking on; a gigantomachy in which the figures of Poseidon, Athena, Hera, Apollo, Artemis and Cybele can be made out, with their opponents, who are armed like Greek hoplites; Athena and Heracles in a chariot; the carrying off of the daughters of Leucippus by Castor and Pollux; Aeolus holding the winds in sacks. The Treasury of the Athenians, erected at the time of the Persian Wars, was adorned with metopes of singularly clear-cut and beautiful style, but very fragmentary, representing the deeds of Heracles and Theseus.
|from Furtwängler's Aegina, by permission of A. Buchholz|
|Fig. 27.—Restoration of West Pediment, Aegina.|
We have yet to speak of the most interesting and important of all Greek archaic sculptures, the pediments of the temple at Aegina (q.v.). These groups of nude athletes fighting over the corpses of their comrades are preserved at Munich, and are familiar to artists and students. But the very fruitful excavations of Professor Furtwängler have put them in Aegina. quite a new light. Furtwängler (Aegina: Heiligtum der Aphaia) has entirely rearranged these pediments, in a way which removes the extreme simplicity and rigour of the composition, and introduces far greater variety of attitudes and motive. We repeat here these new arrangements (figs. 27 and 28), the reasons for which must be sought in Furtwängler’s great publication. The individual figures are not much altered, as the restorations of Thorwaldsen, even when incorrect, have now a prescriptive right of which it is not easy to deprive them. Besides the pediments of Aegina must be set the remains of the pediments of the temple of Apollo at Eretria in Euboea, the chief group of which (Plate II. fig. 58), Theseus carrying off an Amazon, is one of the most finely executed works of early Greek art.
Period II. 480–400 B.C.—The most marvellous phenomenon in the whole history of art is the rapid progress made by Greece in painting and sculpture during the 5th century B.C. As in literature the 5th century takes us from the rude peasant plays of Thespis to the drama of Sophocles and Euripides; as in philosophy it takes us from Pythagoras to Socrates; so in sculpture it covers the space from the primitive works made for the Peisistratidae to some of the most perfect productions of the chisel.
In architecture the 5th century is ennobled by the Theseum, the Parthenon and the Erechtheum, the temples of Zeus at Olympia, of Apollo at Phigalia, and many other central shrines, as well as by the Hall of the Mystae at Eleusis and the Propylaea of the Acropolis. Some of the most important of the Greek temples of Italy and Sicily, such as those Architecture. of Segesta and Selinus, date from the same age. It is, however, only of their sculptural decorations, carried out by the greatest masters in Greece, that we need here treat in any detail.
|from Furtwängler's Aegina, by permission of A. Buchholz|
|Fig. 28.—Restoration of East Pediment, Aegina.|
It is the rule in the history of art that innovations and technical progress are shown earlier in the case of painting than in that of sculpture, a fact easily explained by the greater ease and rapidity of the brush compared with the chisel. That this was the order of development in Greek art cannot be doubted. But our means for judging of the painting of the Painting. 5th century are very slight. The noble paintings of such masters as Polygnotus, Micon and Panaenus, which once adorned the walls of the great porticoes of Athens and Delphi, have disappeared. There remain only the designs drawn rather than painted on the beautiful vases of the age, which in some degree help us to realize, not the colouring or the charm of contemporary paintings, but the principle of their composition and the accuracy of their drawing.
|From Monumenti dell’ Instituto di Correspondenza archeologica, xi. 40.|
|Fig. 29.—Vase of Orvieto. (The Children of Niobe.)|
Polygnotus of Thasos was regarded by his compatriots as a great ethical painter. His colouring and composition were alike very simple, his figures quiet and statuesque, his drawing careful and precise. He won his fame largely by incorporating in his works the best current ideas as to mythology, religion and morals. In particular his painting of Hades with its rewards and punishments, which was on the walls of the building of the people of Cnidus at Delphi, might be considered as a great religious work, parallel to the paintings of the Campo Santo at Pisa or to the painted windows of such churches as that at Fairford. But he also introduced improvements in perspective and greater freedom in grouping.
|Arch. Zeit. 1878, pl. 22.|
|Fig. 30.—Vase Drawing.|
It is fortunate for us that the Greek traveller Pausanias has left us very careful and detailed descriptions of some of the most important of the frescoes of Polygnotus, notably of the Taking of Troy and the Visit to Hades, which were at Delphi. A comparison of these descriptions with vase paintings of the middle of the 5th century has enabled us to discern with great probability the principles of Polygnotan drawing and perspective. Professor Robert has even ventured to restore the paintings on the evidence of vases. We here represent one of the scenes depicted on a vase found at Orvieto (fig. 29), which is certainly Polygnotan in character. It represents the slaying of the children of Niobe by Apollo and Artemis. Here we may observe a remarkable perspective. The different heights of the rocky background are represented by lines traversing the picture on which the figures stand; but the more distant figures are no smaller than the nearer. The forests of Mount Sipylus are represented by a single conventional tree. The figures are beautifully drawn, and full of charm; but there is a want of energy in the action.
There can be little doubt that the school of Polygnotus exercised great influence on contemporary sculpture. Panaenus, brother of Pheidias, worked with Polygnotus, and many of the groupings found in the sculptures of the Parthenon remind us of those usual with the Thasian master. At this simple and early stage of art there was no essential difference between fresco-painting and coloured relief, light and shade and aerial perspective being unknown. We reproduce two vase-paintings, one (fig. 30) a group of man and horse which closely resembles figures in the Panathenaic frieze of the Parthenon (fig. 31); the other (fig. 32) representing Victory pouring water for a sacrificial ox to drink, which reminds us of the balustrade of the shrine of Wingless Victory at Athens.
|Fig. 31.—Part of Frieze of the Parthenon.|
Most writers on Greek painting have supposed that after the middle of the 5th century the technique of painting rapidly improved. This may well have been the case; but we have little means of testing the question. Such improvements would soon raise such a barrier between fresco-painting and vase-painting,—which by its very nature must be simple and architectonic,—that vases can no longer be used with confidence as evidence for contemporary painting. The stories told us by Pliny of the lives of Greek painters are mostly of a trivial and untrustworthy character. Some of them are mentioned in this Encyclopaedia under the names of individual artists. We can only discern a few general facts. Of Agatharchus of Athens we learn that he painted, under compulsion, the interior of the house of Alcibiades. And we are told that he painted a scene for the tragedies of Aeschylus or Sophocles. This has led some writers to suppose that he attempted illusive landscape; but this is contrary to the possibilities of the time; and it is fairly certain that what he really did was to paint the wooden front of the stage building in imitation of architecture; in fact he painted a permanent architectural background, and not one suited to any particular play. Of other painters who flourished at the end of the century, such as Zeuxis and Aristides, it will be best to speak under the next period.
|From Gerhard’s Auserlesene Vasenbilder, ii. pl. 1.|
|Fig. 32.—Nikē and Bull.|
It is now generally held, in consequence of evidence furnished by tombs, that the 5th century saw the end of the making of vases on a great scale at Athens for export to Italy and Sicily. And in fact few things in the history of art are more remarkable than the rapidity with which vase-painting at Athens reached its highest point and passed it on the downward road. At the beginning of the century black-figured ware was scarcely out of fashion, and the masters of the severe red-figured style, Pamphaeus, Epictetus and their contemporaries, were in vogue. The schools of Euphronius, Hiero and Duris belong to the age of the Persian wars. With the middle of the century the works of these makers are succeeded by unsigned vases of most beautiful design, some of them showing the influence of Polygnotus. In the later years of the century, when the empire of Athens was approaching its fall, drawing becomes laxer and more careless, and in the treatment of drapery we frequently note the over-elaboration of folds, the want of simplicity, which begin to mark contemporary sculpture. These changes of style can only be satisfactorily followed in the vase rooms of the British Museum, or other treasuries of Greek art (see also A. B. Walters, History of Ancient Pottery; and the article Ceramics).
|Fig. 33.—East Pediment, Olympia. Two Restorations.|
|Fig. 34.—West Pediment, Olympia. Two Restorations.|
Among the sculptural works of this period the first place may be given to the great temple of Zeus at Olympia. The statue by Pheidias which once occupied the place of honour in that temple, and was regarded as the noblest monument of Greek religion, has of course disappeared, nor are we able with confidence to restore it. But the plan Olympia:
Temple of Zeus. of the temple, its pavement, some of its architectural ornaments, remain. The marbles which occupied the pediments and the metopes of the temple have been in large part recovered, having been probably thrown down by earthquakes and gradually buried in the alluvial soil. The utmost ingenuity and science of the archaeologists of Germany have been employed in the recovery of the composition of these groups; and although doubt remains as to the places of some figures, and their precise attitudes, yet we may fairly say that we know more about the sculpture of the Olympian temple of Zeus than about the sculpture of any other great Greek temple. The exact date of these sculptures is not certain, but we may with some confidence give them to 470–460 B.C. (In speaking of them we shall mostly follow the opinion of Dr Treu, whose masterly work in vol. iii. of the great German publication on Olympia is a model of patience and of science.) In the eastern pediment (fig. 33), as Pausanias tells us, were represented the preparations for the chariot-race between Oenomaüs and Pelops, the result of which was to determine whether Pelops should find death or a bride and a kingdom. In the midst, invisible to the contending heroes, stood Zeus the supreme arbiter. On one side of him stood Oenomaüs with his wife Sterope, on the other Pelops and Hippodameia, the daughter of Oenomaüs, whose position at once indicates that she is on the side of the newcomer, whatever her parents may feel. Next on either side are the four-horse chariots of the two competitors, that of Oenomaüs in the charge of his perfidious groom Myrtilus, who contrived that it should break down in the running, that of Pelops tended by his grooms. At either end, where the pediment narrows to a point, reclines a river god, at one end Alpheus, the chief stream of Olympia, at the other end his tributary Cladeus. Only one figure remains, not noticed in the careful description of Pausanias, the figure of a handmaid kneeling, perhaps one of the attendants of Sterope. Our engraving gives two conjectural restorations of the pediment, that of Treu and that of Kekule, which differ principally in the arrangement of the corners of the composition; the position of the central figures and of the chariots can scarcely be called in question. The moment chosen is one, not of action, but of expectancy, perhaps of preparation for sacrifice. The arrangement is undeniably stiff and formal, and in the figures we note none of the trained perfection of style which belongs to the sculptures of the Parthenon, an almost contemporary temple. Faults abound, alike in the rendering of drapery and in the representation of the human forms, and the sculptor has evidently trusted to the painter who was afterwards to colour his work, to remedy some of his clumsiness, or to make clear the ambiguous. Nevertheless there is in the whole a dignity, a sobriety, and a simplicity, which reconcile us to the knowledge that this pediment was certainly regarded in antiquity as a noble work, fit to adorn even the palace of Zeus. In the other, the western pediment (fig. 34), the subject is the riot of the Centaurs when they attended the wedding of Peirithous in Thessaly, and, attempting to carry off the bride and her comrades, were slain by Peirithous and Theseus. In the midst of the pediment, invisible like Zeus in the eastern pediment, stands Apollo, while on either side of him Theseus and Peirithous attack the Centaurs with weapons hastily snatched. Our illustration gives two possible arrangements. The monsters are in various attitudes of attempted violence, of combat and defeat; with each grapples one of the Lapith heroes in the endeavour to rob them of their prey. In the corners of the pediment recline female figures, perhaps attendant slaves, though the farthest pair may best be identified as local Thessalian nymphs, looking on with the calmness of divine superiority, yet not wholly unconcerned in what is going forward. Though the composition of the two pediments differs notably, the one bearing the impress of a parade-like repose, the other of an overstrained activity, yet the style and execution are the same in both, and the shortcomings must be attributed to the inferior skill of a local school of sculptors compared with those of Athens or of Aegina. It even appears likely that the designs also belong to a local school. Pausanias, it is true, tells us that the pediments were the work of Alcamenes, the pupil of Pheidias, and of Paeonius, a sculptor of Thrace, respectively; but it is almost certain that he was misled by the local guides, who would naturally be anxious to connect the sculptures of their great temple with well-known names.
|Olympia, iii. 45.|
|Fig. 35.—Metope: Olympia; restored.|
|Olympia, iii. 48.|
|Fig. 36.—Nikē of Paeonius; restored.|
The metopes of the temple are in the same style of art as the pediments, but the defects of awkwardness and want of mastery are less conspicuous, because the narrow limits of the metope exclude any elaborate grouping. The subjects are provided by the twelve labours of Heracles; the figures introduced in each metope are but two or at most three; and the action is simplified as much as possible. The example shown (fig. 35) represents Heracles holding up the sky on a cushion, with the friendly aid of a Hesperid nymph, while Atlas, whom he has relieved of his usual burden, approaches bringing the apples which it was the task of Heracles to procure.
Another of the fruits of the excavations of Olympia is the floating Victory by Paeonius, unfortunately faceless (fig. 36), which was set up in all probability in memory of the victory of the Athenians and their Messenian allies at Sphacteria in 425 B.C. The inscription states that it was dedicated by the Messenians and people of Naupactus from the spoils of their enemies, but the name of the enemy is not mentioned in the inscription. The statue of Paeonius, which comes floating down through the air with drapery borne backward, is of a bold and innovating type, and we may trace its influence in many works of the next age.
Among the discoveries at Delphi none is so striking and valuable to us as the life-size statue in bronze of a charioteer holding in his hand the reins. This is maintained by M. Homolle to be part of a chariot-group set up by Polyzalus, brother of Gelo and Hiero of Syracuse, in honour of a victory won in the chariot-race at the Pythian Delphic charioteer. games at Delphi (fig. 37). The charioteer is evidently a high-born youth, and is clad in the long chiton which was necessary to protect a driver of a chariot from the rush of air. The date would be about 480–470 B.C. Bronze groups representing victorious chariots with their drivers were among the noblest and most costly dedications of antiquity; the present figure is our only satisfactory representative of them. In style the figure is very notable, tall and slight beyond all contemporary examples. The contrast between the conventional decorousness of face and drapery and the lifelike accuracy of hands and feet is very striking, and indicates the clashing of various tendencies in art at the time when the great style was formed in Greece.
|Mémoires, Piot, 1897, 16.|
|Fig. 37.—Bronze Charioteer: Delphi.|
The three great masters of the 5th century, Myron, Pheidias and Polyclitus are all in some degree known to us from their works. Of Myron we have copies of two works, the Marsyas (Plate III. fig. 64) and the Discobolus. The Marsyas (a copy in the Lateran Museum) represents the Satyr so named in the grasp of conflicting emotions, eager to pick up the flutes which Athena has thrown down, but at the same time dreading her displeasure if he does so. The Discobolus has usually been judged from the examples in the Vatican and the British Museum, in which the anatomy is modernized and the head wrongly put on. We have now photographs of the very superior replica in the Lancelotti gallery at Rome, the pose of which is much nearer to the original. Our illustration represents a restoration made at Munich, by combining the Lancelotti head with the Vatican body (Plate IV. fig. 68).
Of the works of Pheidias we have unfortunately no certain copy, if we except the small replicas at Athens of his Athena Parthenos. The larger of these (fig. 38) was found in 1880: it is very clumsy, and the wretched device by which a pillar is introduced to support the Victory in the hand of Athena can scarcely be supposed to have belonged to the great original. Tempting theories have been published by Furtwängler (Masterpieces of Greek Sculpture) and other archaeologists, which identify copies of the Athena Lemnia of Pheidias, his Pantarces, his Aphrodite Urania and other statues; but doubt hangs over all these attributions.
A more pertinent and more promising question is, how far we may take the decorative sculpture of the Parthenon, since Lord Elgin’s time the pride of the British Museum, as the actual work of Pheidias, or as done from his designs. Here again we have no conclusive evidence; but it appears from the testimony of inscriptions that the pediments at all events were not executed until after Pheidias’s death.
|Fig. 38.—Statuette of Athena Parthenos.|
Of course the pediments and frieze of the Parthenon (q.v.), whose work soever they may be, stand at the head of all Greek decorative sculpture. Whether we regard the grace of the composition, the exquisite finish of the statues in the round, or the delightful atmosphere of poetry and religion which surrounds these sculptures, they rank among the masterpieces of the world. The Greeks esteemed them far below the statue which the temple was made to shelter; but to us, who have lost the great figure in ivory and gold, the carvings of the casket which once contained it are a perpetual source of instruction and delight. The whole is reproduced by photography in A. S. Murray’s Sculptures of the Parthenon.
An abundant literature has sprung up in regard to these sculptures in recent years. It will suffice here to mention the discussions in Furtwängler’s Masterpieces, and the very ingenious attempts of Sauer to determine by a careful examination of the bases and backgrounds of the pediments as they now stand how the figures must have been arranged in them. The two ends of the eastern pediment (Plate III. fig. 65) are the only fairly well-preserved part of the pediments.
Among the pupils of Pheidias who may naturally be supposed to have worked on the sculptures of the Parthenon, the most notable were Alcamenes and Agoracritus. Some fragments remain of the great statue of Nemesis at Rhamnus by Agoracritus. And an interesting light has been thrown on Alcamenes by the discovery at Pergamum of a professed copy of his Hermes set up at the entrance to the Acropolis at Athens (Plate II. fig. 57). The style of this work, however, is conventional and archaistic, and we can scarcely regard it as typical of the master.
Another noted contemporary who was celebrated mainly for his portraits was Cresilas, a Cretan. Several copies of his portrait of Pericles exist, and testify to the lofty and idealizing style of portraiture in this great age.
We possess also admirable sculpture belonging to the other important temples of the Acropolis, the Erechtheum and the temple of Nike. The temple of Nike is the earlier, being possibly a memorial of the Spartan defeat at Sphacteria. The Erechtheum belongs to the end of our period, and embodies the delicacy and finish of the conservative school of sculpture at Athens just as the Parthenon illustrates the ideas of the more progressive school. The reconstruction of the Erechtheum has been a task which has long occupied the attention of archaeologists (see the paper by Mr Stevens in the American Journal of Archaeology, 1906). Our illustration (Plate V. fig. 75) shows one of the Corae or maidens who support the entablature of the south porch of the Erechtheum in her proper setting. This use of the female figure in place of a pillar is based on old Ionian precedent (see fig. 17) and is not altogether happy; but the idea is carried out with remarkable skill, the perfect repose and solid strength of the maiden being emphasized.
Beside Pheidias of Athens must be placed the greatest of early Argive sculptors, Polyclitus. His two typical athletes, the Doryphorus or spear-bearer (Plate VI. fig. 80) and the Diadumenus, have long been identified, and though the copies are not first-rate, they enable us to recover the principles of the master’s art.
Among the bases discovered at Olympia, whence the statues had been removed, are three or four which bear the name of Polyclitus, and the definite evidence furnished by these bases as to the position of the feet of the statues which they once bore has enabled archaeologists, especially Professor Furtwängler, to identify copies of those Polyclitus. statues among known works. Also newly discovered copies of Polyclitan works have made their appearance. At Delos there has been found a copy of the Diadumenus, which is of much finer work than the statue in the British Museum from Vaison. The Museum of Fine Arts at Boston, U.S.A., has secured a very beautiful statue of a young Hermes, who but for the wings on the temples might pass as a boy athlete of Polyclitan style (Plate II. fig. 60). In fact, instead of relying as regards the manner of Polyclitus on Roman copies of the Doryphorus and Diadumenus, we have quite a gallery of athletes, boys and men, who all claim relationship, nearer or more remote, to the school of the great Argive master. It might have been hoped that the excavations, made under the leadership of Professor Waldstein at the Argive Heraeum, would have enlightened us as to the style of Polyclitus. Just as the sculptures of the Parthenon are the best monument of Pheidias, so it might seem likely that the sculptural decoration of the great temple which contained the Hera of Polyclitus would show us at large how his school worked in marble. Unfortunately the fragments of sculpture from the Heraeum are few. The most remarkable is a female head, which may perhaps come from a pediment (fig. 39). But archaeologists are not in agreement whether it is in style Polyclitan or whether it rather resembles in style Attic works. Other heads and some highly-finished fragments of bodies come apparently from the metopes of the same temple. (See also article Argos.)
|Fig. 39.—Female Head: Heraeum.|
Another work of Polyclitus was his Amazon, made it is said in competition with his great contemporaries, Pheidias, Cresilas and Phradmon, all of whose Amazons were preserved in the great temple of Artemis at Ephesus. In our museums are many statues of Amazons representing 5th century originals. These have usually been largely restored, and it is no easy matter to discover their original type. Professor Michaelis has recovered matter of controversy. The first has been given to the chisel of Polyclitus; the second seems to represent the Wounded Amazon of Cresilas; the third has by some archaeologists been given to Pheidias. It does not represent a wounded amazon, but one alert, about to leap upon her horse with the help of a spear as a leaping pole.
|Fig. 40.—Types of Amazons (Michaelis.).|
We can devote little more than a passing mention to the sculpture of other temples and shrines of the later 5th century, which nevertheless deserve careful study. The frieze from the temple of Apollo at Phigalia, representing Centaur and Amazon battles, is familiar to visitors of the British Museum, where, however, its proximity to the remains of the Lycia. Parthenon lays stress upon the faults of grouping and execution which this frieze presents. It seems to have been executed by local Arcadian artists. More pleasing is the sculpture of the Ionic tomb called the Nereid monument, brought by Sir Charles Fellows from Lycia. Here we have not only a series of bands of relief which ran round the tomb, but also detached female figures, whence the name which it bears is derived. A recent view sees in these women with their fluttering drapery not nymphs of the sea, but personifications of sea-breezes.
The series of known Lycian tombs has been in recent years enriched through the acquisition by the museum of Vienna of the sculptured friezes which adorned a heroon near Geul Bashi. In the midst of the enclosure was a tomb, and the walls of the enclosure itself were adorned within and without with a great series of reliefs, mostly of mythologic purport. Many subjects which but rarely occur in early Greek art, the siege of Troy, the adventure of the Seven against Thebes, the carrying off of the daughters of Leucippus, Ulysses shooting down the Suitors, are here represented in detail. Professor Benndorf, who has published these sculptures in an admirable volume, is disposed to see in them the influence of the Thasian painter Polygnotus. Any one can see their kinship to painting, and their subjects recur in some of the great frescoes painted by Polygnotus, Micon and others for the Athenians. Like other Lycian sculptures, they contain non-Hellenic elements; in fact Lycia forms a link of the chain which extends from the wall-paintings of Assyria to works like the columns of Trajan and of Antoninus, but is not embodied in the more purely idealistic works of the highest Greek art. The date of the Vienna tomb is not much later than the middle of the 5th century. A small part of the frieze of this monument is shown in fig. 41. It will be seen that in this fragment there are two scenes, one directly above the other. In the upper line Ulysses, accompanied by his son Telemachus, is in the act of shooting the suitors, who are reclining at table in the midst of a feast; a cup-bearer, possibly Melanthius, is escaping by a door behind Ulysses. In the lower line is the central group of a frieze which represents the hunting of the Calydonian boar, which is represented, as is usual in the best time of Greek art, as an ordinary animal and no monster.
Archaeologists have recently begun to pay more attention to an interesting branch of Greek art which had until recently been neglected, that of sculptured portraits. The known portraits of the 5th century now include Pericles, Herodotus, Thucydides, Anacreon, Sophocles, Euripides, Socrates and others. As might be expected in a time when style Portraits. in sculpture was so strongly pronounced, these portraits, when not later unfaithful copies, are notably ideal. They represent the great men whom they portray not in the spirit of realism. Details are neglected, expression is not elaborated; the sculptor tries to represent what is permanent in his subject rather than what is temporary. Hence these portraits do not seem to belong to a particular time of life; they only represent a man in the perfection of physical force and mental energy. And the race or type is clearly shown through individual traits. In some cases it is still disputed whether statues of this age represent deities or mortals, so notable are the repose and dignity which even human figures acquire under the hands of 5th-century masters. The Pericles after Cresilas in the British Museum, and the athlete-portraits of Polyclitus, are good examples.
Period III. 400–300 B.C.—The high ideal level attained by Greek art at the end of the 5th century is maintained in the 4th. There cannot be any question of decay in it save at Athens, where undoubtedly the loss of religion and the decrease of national prosperity acted prejudicially. But in Peloponnesus the time was one of expansion; several new and important cities, such as Messene, Megalopolis and Mantinea, arose under the protection of Epaminondas. And in Asia the Greek cities were still prosperous and artistic, as were the cities of Italy and Sicily which kept their independence. On the whole we find during this age some diminution of the freshness and simplicity of art; it works less in the service of the gods and more in that of private patrons; it becomes less ethical and more sentimental and emotional. On the other hand, there can be no doubt that technique both in painting and sculpture advanced with rapid strides; artists had a greater mastery of their materials, and ventured on a wider range of subject.
|Heroon of Gyeul Bashi Trysa, Pl. 7.|
|Fig. 41.—Odysseus and Suitors; Hunting of Boar.|
In the 4th century no new temples of importance rose at Athens; the Acropolis had taken its final form; but at Messene, Tegea, Epidaurus and elsewhere, very admirable buildings arose. The remains of the temple at Tegea are of wonderful beauty and finish; as are those of the theatre and the so-called Tholus of Epidaurus. In Asia Minor vast temples of the Ionic order arose, especially at Miletus and Ephesus. The colossal pillars of Miletus astonish the visitors to the Louvre; while the sculptured columns of Ephesus in the British Museum (Plate II. fig. 59) show a high level of artistic skill. The Mausoleum erected about 350 B.C. at Halicarnassus in memory of Mausolus, king of Caria, and adorned with sculpture by the most noted artists of the day, was reckoned one of the wonders of the world. It has been in part restored in the British Museum. Mr Oldfield’s conjectural restoration, published in Archaeologia for 1895, though it has many rivals, surpasses them all in the lightness of the effect, and in close correspondence to the description by Pliny. We show a small part of the sculptural decoration, representing a battle between Greeks and Amazons (Plate IV. fig. 70), wherein the energy of the action and the careful balance of figure against figure are remarkable. We possess also the fine portraits of Mausolus himself and his wife Artemisia, which stood in or on the building, as well as part of a gigantic chariot with four horses which surmounted it.
Another architectural work of the 4th century, in its way a gem, is the structure set up at Athens by Lysicrates, in memory of a choragic victory. This still survives, though the reliefs with which it is adorned have suffered severely from the weather.
|Nat. Mus., Naples.|
|Fig. 42.—Greek Drawing of Women Playing at Knucklebones.|
The 4th century is the brilliant period of ancient painting. It opens with the painters of the Asiatic School, Zeuxis and Parrhasius and Protogenes, with their contemporaries Nicias and Apollodorus of Athens, Timanthes of Sicyon or Cythnus, and Euphranor of Corinth. It witnesses the rise of a great school at Sicyon, under Eupompus and Pamphilus, which was noted for its scientific character and the fineness of its drawing, and which culminated in Apelles, the painter of Alexander the Great, and probably the greatest master of the art in antiquity. To each of these painters a separate article is given, fixing their place in the history of the art. Of their paintings unfortunately we can form but a very inadequate notion. Vase-paintings, which in the 5th century give us some notion at least of contemporary drawing, are less careful in the 4th century. Now and then we find on them figures admirably designed, or successfully foreshortened; but these are rare occurrences. The art of the vase decorator has ceased to follow the methods and improvements of contemporary fresco painters, and is pursued as a mere branch of commerce.
But very few actual paintings of the age survive, and even these fragmentary remains have with time lost the freshness of their colouring; nor are they in any case the work of a noteworthy hand. We reproduce two examples. The first is from a stone of the vault of a Crimean grave (Plate IV. fig. 67). The date of the grave is fixed to the 4th century by ornaments found in it, among which was a gold coin of Alexander the Great. The representation is probably of Demeter or her priestess, her hair bound with poppies and other flowers. The original is of large size. The other illustration (fig. 42) represents the remains of a drawing on marble, representing a group of women playing knucklebones. It was found at Herculaneum. Though signed by one Alexander of Athens, who was probably a worker of the Roman age, Professor Robert is right in maintaining that Alexander only copied a design of the age of Zeuxis and Parrhasius. In fact the drawing and grouping is so closely like that of reliefs of about 400 B.C. that the drawing is of great historic value, though there be no colouring. Several other drawings of the same class have been found at Herculaneum, and on the walls of the Transtiberine Villa at Rome (now in the Terme Museum).
|Olympia, iii. 53.|
|Fig. 43.—Hermes of Praxiteles; restored.|
Until about the year 1880, our knowledge of the great Greek sculptors of the 4th century was derived mostly from the statements of ancient writers and from Roman copies, or what were supposed to be copies, of their works. We are now in a far more satisfactory position. We now possess an original work of Praxiteles, and Praxiteles. sculptures executed under the immediate direction of, if not from the hand of, other great sculptors of that age—Scopas, Timotheus and others. Among all the discoveries made at Olympia, none has become so familiar to the artistic world as that of the Hermes of Praxiteles. It is the first time that we have become possessed of a first-rate Greek original by one of the greatest of sculptors. Hitherto almost all the statues in our museums have been either late copies of Greek works of art, or else the mere decorative sculpture of temples and tombs, which was by the ancients themselves but little regarded. But we can venture without misgiving to submit the new Hermes to the strictest examination, sure that in every line and touch we have the work of a great artist. This is more than we can say of any of the literary remains of antiquity—poem, play or oration. Hermes is represented by the sculptor (fig. 43 and Plate VI. fig. 82) in the act of carrying the young child Dionysus to the nymphs who were charged with his rearing. On the journey he pauses and amuses himself by holding out to the child-god a bunch of grapes, and watching his eagerness to grasp them. To the modern eye the child is not a success; only the latest art of Greece is at home in dealing with children. But the Hermes, strong without excessive muscular development, and graceful without leanness, is a model of physical formation, and his face expresses the perfection of health, natural endowment and sweet nature. The statue can scarcely be called a work of religious art in the modern or Christian sense of the word religious, but from the Greek point of view it is religious, as embodying the result of the harmonious development of all human faculties and life in accordance with nature.
The Hermes not only adds to our knowledge of Praxiteles, but also confirms the received views in regard to him. Already many works in galleries of sculpture had been identified as copies of statues of his school. Noteworthy among these are, the group at Munich representing Peace nursing the infant Wealth, from an original by Cephisodotus, father of Praxiteles; copies of the Cnidian Aphrodite of Praxiteles, especially one in the Vatican which is here illustrated (Plate V. fig. 71); copies of the Apollo slaying a lizard (Sauroctonus), of a Satyr (in the Capitol Museum), and others. These works, which are noted for their softness and charm, make us understand the saying of ancient critics that Praxiteles and Scopas were noted for the pathos of their works, as Pheidias and Polyclitus for the ethical quality of those they produced. But the pathos of Praxiteles is of a soft and dreamy character; there is no action, or next to none; and the emotions which he rouses are sentimental rather than passionate. Scopas, as we shall see, was of another mood. The discovery of the Hermes has naturally set archaeologists searching in the museums of Europe for other works which may from their likeness to it in various respects be set down as Praxitelean in character. In the case of many of the great sculptors of Greece—Strongylion, Silanion, Calamis and others—it is of little use to search for copies of their works, since we have little really trustworthy evidence on which to base our inquiries. But in the case of Praxiteles we really stand on a safe level. Naturally it is impossible in these pages to give any sketch of the results, some almost certain, some very doubtful, of the researches of archaeologists in quest of Praxitelean works. But we may mention a few works which have been claimed by good judges as coming from the master himself. Professor Brunn claimed as work of Praxiteles a torso of a satyr in the Louvre, in scheme identical with the well-known satyr of the Capitol. Professor Furtwängler puts in the same category a delicately beautiful head of Aphrodite at Petworth. And his translator, Mrs Strong, regards the Aberdeen head of a young man in the British Museum as the actual work of Praxiteles. Certainly this last head does not suffer when placed beside the Olympian head of Hermes. At Mantinea has been found a basis whereon stood a group of Latona and her two children, Apollo and Artemis, made by Praxiteles. This base bears reliefs representing the musical contest of Apollo and Marsyas, with the Muses as spectators, reliefs very pleasing in style, and quite in the manner of Attic artists of the 4th century. But of course we must not ascribe them to the hand of Praxiteles himself; great sculptors did not themselves execute the reliefs which adorned temples and other monuments, but reserved them for their pupils. Yet the graceful figures of the Muses of Mantinea suggest how much was due to Praxiteles in determining the tone and character of Athenian art in relief in the 4th century. Exactly the same style which marks them belongs also to a mass of sepulchral monuments at Athens, and such works as the Sidonian sarcophagus of the Mourning Women, to be presently mentioned.
Excavation on the site of the temple of Athena Alea at Tegea has resulted in the recovery of works of the school of Scopas. Pausanias tells us that Scopas was the architect of the temple, and so important in the case of a Greek Scopas. temple is the sculptural decoration, that we can scarcely doubt that the sculpture also of the temple at Tegea was under the supervision of Scopas, especially as he was more noted as a sculptor than as an architect. In the pediments of the temple were represented two scenes from mythology, the hunting of the Calydonian boar and the combat between Achilles and Telephus. To one or other of these scenes belong several heads of local marble discovered on the spot, which are very striking from their extraordinary life and animation. Unfortunately they are so much injured that they can scarcely be made intelligible except by the help of restoration; we therefore engrave one of them, the helmeted head, as restored by a German sculptor (Plate III. fig. 63). The strong bony frame of this head, and its depth from front to back, are not less noteworthy than the parted lips and deeply set and strongly shaded eye; the latter features impart to the head a vividness of expression such as we have found in no previous work of Greek art, but which sets the key to the developments of art which take place in the Hellenistic age. A draped torso of Atalanta from the same pediment has been fitted to one of these heads. Hitherto Scopas was known to us, setting aside literary records, only as one of the sculptors who had worked at the Mausoleum. Ancient critics and travellers, however, bear ample testimony to his fame, and the wide range of his activity, which extended to northern Greece, Peloponnese and Asia Minor. His Maenads and his Tritons and other beings of the sea were much copied in antiquity. But perhaps he reached his highest level in statues such as that of Apollo as leader of the Muses, clad in long drapery.
|Fig. 44.—Amazon from Epidaurus.|
The interesting precinct of Aesculapius at Epidaurus has furnished us with specimens of the style of an Athenian contemporary of Scopas, who worked with him on the Mausoleum. An inscription which records the sums Timotheus, Bryaxis, Leochares. spent on the temple of the Physician-god, informs us that the models for the sculptures of the pediments, and one set of acroteria or roof adornments, were the work of Timotheus. Of the pedimental figures and the acroteria considerable fragments have been recovered, and we may with confidence assume that at all events the models for these were by Timotheus. It is strange that the unsatisfactory arrangement whereby a noted sculptor makes models and some local workman the figures enlarged from those models, should have been tolerated by so artistic a people as the Greeks. The subjects of the pediments appear to have been the common ones of battles between Greek and Amazon and between Lapith and Centaur. We possess fragments of some of the Amazon figures, one of which, striking downwards at the enemy, is here shown (fig. 44). Their attitudes are vigorous and alert; but the work shows no delicacy of detail. Figures of Nereids riding on horses, which were found on the same site, may very probably be roof ornaments (acroteria) of the temple. We have also several figures of Victory, which probably were acroteria on some smaller temple, perhaps that of Artemis. A base found at Athens, sculptured with figures of horsemen in relief, bears the name of Bryaxis, and was probably made by a pupil of his. Probable conjecture assigns to Leochares the originals copied in the Ganymede of the Vatican, borne aloft by an eagle (Plate I. fig. 53) and the noble statue of Alexander the Great at Munich (see Leochares). Thus we may fairly say that we are now acquainted with the work of all the great sculptors who worked on the Mausoleum—Scopas, Bryaxis, Leochares and Timotheus; and are in a far more advantageous position than were the archaeologists of 1880 for determining the artistic problems connected with that noblest of ancient tombs.
Contemporary with the Athenian school of Praxiteles and Scopas was the great school of Argos and Sicyon, of which Lysippus was the most distinguished member. Lysippus continued the academic traditions of Polyclitus, but he was far bolder in his choice of subjects and more innovating in style. Gods, heroes and mortals alike found in him a sculptor who knew how to combine fine ideality with a vigorous actuality. He was at the height of his fame during Alexander’s life, and the grandiose ambition of the great Macedonian found him ample employment, especially in the frequent representation of himself and his marshals.
We have none of the actual works of Lysippus; but our best evidence for his style will be found in the statue of Agias an athlete (Plate V. fig. 74) found at Delphi, and shown by an inscription to be a marble copy of a bronze original by Lysippus. The Apoxyomenus of the Vatican (man scraping himself with a strigil) (Plate VI. fig. 79) has hitherto been regarded as a copy from Lysippus; but of this there is no evidence, and the style of that statue belongs rather to the 3rd century than the 4th. The Agias, on the other hand, is in style contemporary with the works of 4th-century sculptors.
Of the elaborate groups of combatants with which Lysippus enriched such centres as Olympia and Delphi, or of the huge bronze statues which he erected in temples and shrines, we can form no adequate notion. Perhaps among the extant heads of Alexander the one which is most likely to preserve the style of Lysippus is the head from Alexandria in the British Museum (Plate II. fig. 56), though this was executed at a later time.
Many noted extant statues may be attributed with probability to the latter part of the 4th or the earlier part of the 3rd century. We will mention a few only. The celebrated group at Florence representing Niobe and her children falling before the arrows of Apollo and Artemis is certainly a work of the pathetic school, and may be by a pupil of Praxiteles. Niobe, in an agony of grief, which is in the marble tempered and idealized, tries to protect her youngest daughter from destruction (Plate VI. fig. 78). Whether the group can have originally been fitted into the gable of a temple is a matter of dispute.
Two great works preserved in the Louvre are so noted that it is but necessary to mention them, the Aphrodite of Melos (Plate VI. fig. 77), in which archaeologists are now disposed to see the influence of Scopas, and the Victory of Samothrace (Plate III. figs. 61 and 62), an original set up by Demetrius Poliorcetes after a naval victory won at Salamis in Cyprus in 306 B.C. over the fleet of Ptolemy, king of Egypt.
Nor can we pass over without notice two works so celebrated as the Apollo of the Belvidere in the Vatican (Plate II. fig. 55), and the Artemis of Versailles. The Apollo is now by most archaeologists regarded as probably a copy of a work of Leochares, to whose Ganymede it bears a superficial resemblance. The Artemis is regarded as possibly due to some artist of the same age. But it is by no means clear that we have the right to remove either of these figures from among the statues of the Hellenistic age. The old theory of Preller, which saw in them copies from a trophy set up to commemorate the repulse of the Gauls at Delphi in 278 B.C., has not lost its plausibility.
|Hamdy et Reinach, Nécropole à Sidon, Pl. 7.|
|Fig. 45.—Tomb of Mourning Women: Sidon.|
This may be the most appropriate place for mentioning the remarkable find made at Sidon in 1886 of a number of sarcophagi, which once doubtless contained the remains of kings of Sidon. They are now in the museum of Constantinople, and are admirably published by Hamdy Bey and T. Reinach (Une Nécropole royale à Sidon, 1892–1896). Sarcophagi of Sidon. The sarcophagi in date cover a considerable period. The earlier are made on Egyptian models, the covers shaped roughly in the form of a human body or mummy. The later, however, are Greek in form, and are clearly the work of skilled Greek sculptors, who seem to have been employed by the grandees of Phoenicia in the adornment of their last resting-places. Four of these sarcophagi in particular claim attention, and in fact present us with examples of Greek art of the 5th and 4th centuries in several of its aspects. To the 5th century belong the tomb of the Satrap, the reliefs of which bring before us the activities and glories of some unknown king, and the Lycian sarcophagus, so called from its form, which resembles that of tombs found in Lycia, and which is also adorned with reliefs which have reference to the past deeds of the hero buried in the tomb, though these deeds are represented, not in the Oriental manner directly, but in the Greek manner, clad in mythological forms. To the 4th century belong two other sarcophagi. One of these is called the Tomb of Mourning Women. On all sides of it alike are ranged a series of beautiful female figures, separated by Ionic pillars, each in a somewhat different attitude, though all attitudes denoting grief (fig. 45). The pediments at the ends of the cover are also closely connected with the mourning for the loss of a friend and protector, which is the theme of the whole decoration of the sarcophagus. We see depicted in them the telling of the news of the death, with the results in the mournful attitude of the two seated figures. The mourning women must be taken, not as the representation of any persons in particular, but generally as the expression of the feeling of a city. Such figures are familiar to us in the art of the second Attic school; we could easily find parallels to the sarcophagus among the 4th-century sepulchral reliefs of Athens. We can scarcely be mistaken in attributing the workmanship of this beautiful sarcophagus to some sculptor trained in the school of Praxiteles. And it is a conjecture full of probability that it once contained the body of Strato, king of Sidon, who ruled about 380 B.C., and who was proxenos or public friend of the Athenians.
More celebrated is the astonishing tomb called that of Alexander, though there can be no doubt that, although it commemorates the victories and exploits of Alexander, it was made not to hold his remains, but those of some ruler of Sidon who was high in his favour. Among all the monuments of antiquity which have come down to us, none is more admirable than this, and none more characteristic of the Greek genius. We give, in two lines, the composition which adorned one of the sides of this sarcophagus. It represents a victory of Alexander, probably that of the Granicus (fig. 46). On the left we see the Macedonian king charging the Persian horse, on the right his general Parmenio, and in the midst a younger officer, perhaps Cleitus. Mingled with the chiefs are foot-soldiers, Greek and Macedonian, with whom the Persians are mingled in unequal fray. What most strikes the modern eye is the remarkable freshness and force of the action and the attitudes. Those, however, who have seen the originals have been specially impressed with the colouring, whereof, of course, our engraving gives no hint, but which is applied to the whole surface of the relief with equal skill and delicacy. There are other features in the relief on which a Greek eye would have dwelt with special pleasure—the exceedingly careful symmetry of the whole, the balancing of figure against figure, the skill with which the result of the battle is hinted rather than depicted. The composition is one in which the most careful planning and the most precise calculation are mingled with freedom of hand and expressiveness in detail. The faces in particular show more expression than would be tolerated in art of the previous century. We are unable as yet to assign an author or even a school to the sculptor of this sarcophagus; he comes to us as a new and striking phenomenon in the history of ancient art. The reliefs which adorn the other sides of the sarcophagus are almost equally interesting. On one side we see Alexander again, in the company of a Persian noble, hunting a lion. The short sides also show us scenes of fighting and hunting. In fact it can scarcely be doubted that if we had but a clue to the interpretation of the reliefs, they would be found to embody historic events of the end of the 4th century. There are but a few other works of art, such as the Bayeux tapestry and the Column of Trajan, which bring contemporary history so vividly before our eyes. The battles with the Persians represented in some of the sculpture of the Parthenon and the temple of Nike at Athens are treated conventionally and with no attempt at realism; but here the ideal and the actual are blended into a work of consummate art, which is at the same time, to those who can read the language of Greek art, a historic record. The portraits of Alexander the Great which appear on this sarcophagus are almost contemporary, and the most authentic likenesses of him which we possess. The great Macedonian exercised so strong an influence on contemporary art that a multitude of heads of the age, both of gods and men, and even the portraits of his successors, show traces of his type.
We have yet to mention what are among the most charming and the most characteristic products of the Greek chisel, the beautiful tombs, adorned with seated or standing portraits or with reliefs, which were erected in great numbers on all the main roads of Greece. A great number of these from the Dipylon cemetery are preserved in the Central Museum at Athens, and impress all visitors by the gentle sentiment and the charm of grouping which they display (Gardner, Sculptured Tombs of Hellas).
|Hamdy et Reinach, Nécropole à Sidon, Pl. 30.|
|Fig. 46.—Battle of The Granicus: Sarcophagus from Sidon.|
Period IV. 300–50 B.C.—There can be no question but that the period which followed the death of Alexander, commonly called the age of Hellenism, was one of great activity and expansion in architecture. The number of cities founded by himself and his immediate successors in Asia and Egypt was enormous. The remains of these cities have in a few cases (Ephesus, Pergamum, Assus, Priene, Alexandria) been partially excavated. But the adaptation of Greek architecture to the needs of the semi-Greek peoples included in the dominions of the kings of Egypt, Syria and Pergamum is too vast a subject for us to enter upon here (see Architecture).
Painting during this age ceased to be religious. It was no longer for temples and public stoae that artists worked, but for private persons; especially they made frescoes for the decoration of the walls of houses, and panel pictures for galleries set up by rich patrons. The names of very few painters of the Hellenistic age have come down to us. There can be no doubt that the character of the art declined, and there were no longer produced great works to be the pride of cities, or to form an embodiment for all future time of the qualities of a deity or the circumstances of scenes mythical or historic. But at the same time the mural paintings of Pompeii and other works of the Roman age, which are usually more or less nearly derived from Hellenistic models, prove that in technical matters painting continued to progress. Colouring became more varied, groups more elaborate, perspective was worked out with greater accuracy, and imagination shook itself free from many of the conventions of early art. Pompeian painting, however, must be treated of under Roman, not under Greek art. We figure a single example, to show the elaboration of painting at Alexandria and elsewhere, the wonderful Pompeian mosaic (fig. 47), which represents the victory of Alexander at Issus. This work being in stone has preserved its colouring; and it stands at a far higher level of art than ordinary Pompeian paintings, which are the work of mere house-decorators. This on the contrary is certainly copied from the work of a great master. It is instructive to compare it with the sarcophagus illustrated in Fig. 46, which it excels in perspective and in the freedom of individual figures, though the composition is much less careful and precise. Alexander charges from the left (his portrait being the least successful part of the picture), and bears down a young Persian; Darius in his chariot flees towards the right; in the foreground a young knight is trying to manage a restive horse. It will be observed how very simple is the indication of locality: a few stones and a broken tree stand for rocks and woods.
Among the original sculptural creations of the early Hellenistic age, a prominent place is claimed by the statue of Fortune, typifying the city of Antioch (Plate VI. fig. 81), a work of Eutychides, a pupil of Lysippus. Of this we possess a small copy, which is sufficient to show how worthy of admiration was the original. We have a beautiful embodiment of the personality of the city, seated on a rock, holding ears of corn, while the river Orontes, embodied in a young male figure, springs forth at her feet.
|From a photograph by G. Borgi.|
|Fig. 47.—Mosaic of the Battle of Issus (Naples).|
This is, so far as we know, almost the only work of the early part of the 3rd century which shows imagination. Sculptors often worked on a colossal scale, producing such monsters as the colossal Apollo at Rhodes, the work of Chares of Lindus, which was more than 100 ft. in height. But they did not show freshness or invention; and for the most part content themselves with varying the types produced in the great schools of the 4th century. The wealthy kings of Syria, Egypt and Asia Minor formed art galleries, and were lavish in their payments; but it has often been proved in the history of art that originality cannot be produced by mere expenditure.
|Fig. 48.—Head of Anytus: Lycosura.|
A great artist, whose date has been disputed, but who is now assigned to the Hellenistic age, Damophon of Messene, is known to us from his actual works. He set up in the shrine of the Mistress (Despoena) at Lycosura in Arcadia a great group of figures consisting of Despoena, Demeter, Artemis and the Titan Anytus. Three colossal heads found on the spot probably belong to the three last-mentioned deities. We illustrate the head of Anytus, with wild disordered hair and turbulent expression (fig. 48). Dr Dörpfeld has argued, on architectural grounds, that shrine and images alike must be given to a later time than the 4th century; and this judgment is now confirmed by inscriptional and other evidence.
In one important direction sculpture certainly made progress. Hitherto Greek sculptors had contented themselves with studying the human body whether in rest or motion, from outside. The dissection of the human body, with a consequent increase in knowledge of anatomy, became usual at Alexandria in the medical school which flourished under the Ptolemies. This improved anatomical knowledge soon reacted upon the art of sculpture. Works such as the Fighter of Agasias in the Louvre (Plate IV. fig. 69), and in a less degree the Apoxyomenus (Plate VI. fig. 79), display a remarkable internal knowledge of the human frame, such as could only come from the habit of dissection. Whether this was really productive of improvement in sculpture may be doubted. But it is impossible to withhold one’s admiration from works which show an astonishing knowledge of the body of man down to its bony framework, and a power and mastery of execution which have never since been surpassed.
With accuracy in the portrayal of men’s bodies goes of necessity a more naturalistic tendency in portraiture. As we have seen, the art of portraiture was at a high ideal level in the Pheidian age; and even in the age of Alexander the Great, notable men were rendered rather according to the idea than the fact. To a base and mechanical naturalism Greek art never at any time descended. But from 300 B.C. onwards we have a marvellous series of portraits which may be termed rather characteristic than ideal, which are very minute in their execution, and delight in laying emphasis on the havoc wrought by time and life on the faces of noteworthy men. Such are the portraits of Demosthenes, of Antisthenes, of Zeno and others, which exist in our galleries. And it was no long step from these actual portraits to the invention of characteristic types to represent the great men of a past generation, such as Homer and Lycurgus, or to form generic images to represent weatherbeaten fishermen or toothless old women.
|Fig. 49.—Giant from Great Altar: Pergamum.|
Our knowledge of the art of the later Hellenistic age has received a great accession since 1875 through the systematic labours directed by the German Archaeological Institute, which have resulted in recovering the remains of Pergamum, the fortress-city which was the capital of the dynasty of the Philetaeri. Among the ancient Altar of Pergamum. buildings of Pergamum none was more ambitious in scale and striking in execution than the great altar used for sacrifices to Zeus, a monument supposed to be referred to in the phrase of the Apocalypse “where Satan’s throne is.” This altar, like many great sacrificial altars of later Greece, was a vast erection to which one mounted by many steps, and its outside was adorned with a frieze which represented on a gigantic scale, in the style of the 2nd century B.C., the battle between the gods and the giants. This enormous frieze (see Pergamum) is now one of the treasures of the Royal Museums of Berlin, and it cannot fail to impress visitors by the size of the figures, the energy of the action, and the strong vein of sentiment which pervades the whole, giving it a certain air of modernity, though the subject is strange to the Christian world. In early Greek art the giants where they oppose the gods are represented as men armed in full panoply, “in shining armour, holding long spears in their hands,” to use the phrase in which Hesiod describes them. But in the Pergamene frieze the giants are strange compounds, having the heads and bodies of wild and fierce barbarians, sometimes also human legs, but sometimes in the place of legs two long serpents, the heads of which take with the giants themselves a share in the battle. Sometimes also they are winged. The gods appear in the forms which had been gradually made for them in the course of Greek history, but they are usually accompanied by the animals sacred to them in cultus, between which and the serpent-feet of the giants a weird combat goes on. We can conjecture the source whence the Pergamene artist derived the shaggy hair, the fierce expression, the huge muscles of his giants (fig. 49); probably these features came originally from the Galatians, who at the time had settled in Asia Minor, and were spreading the terror of their name and the report of their savage devastations through all Asia Minor. The victory over the giants clearly stands for the victory of Greek civilization over Gallic barbarism; and this meaning is made more emphatic because the gods are obviously inferior in physical force to their opponents, indeed, a large proportion of the divine combatants are goddesses. Yet everywhere the giants are overthrown, writhing in pain on the ground, or transfixed by the weapons of their opponents; everywhere the gods are victorious, yet in the victory retain much of their divine calm. The piecing together of the frieze at Berlin has been a labour of many years; it is now complete, and there is a special museum devoted to it. Some of the groups have become familiar to students from photographs, especially the group which represents Zeus slaying his enemies with thunderbolts, and the group wherein Athena seizes by the hair an overthrown opponent, who is winged, while Victory runs to crown her, and beneath is seen Gaia, the earth-goddess who is the mother of the giants, rising out of the ground, and mourning over her vanquished and tortured children. Another and smaller frieze which also decorated the altar-place gives us scenes from the history of Telephus, who opposed the landing of the army of Agamemnon in Asia Minor and was overthrown by Achilles. This frieze, which is quite fragmentary, is put together by Dr Schneider in the Jahrbuch of the German Archaeological Institute for 1900.
Since the Renaissance Rome has continually produced a crop of works of Greek art of all periods, partly originals brought from Greece by conquering generals, partly copies, such as the group at Rome formerly known as Paetus and Arria, and the overthrown giants and barbarians which came from the elaborate trophy set up by Attalus at Athens, of which copies exist in many museums. A noted work of kindred school is the group of Laocoon and his sons (Plate I. fig. 52), signed by Rhodian sculptors of the 1st century B.C., which has been perhaps more discussed than any work of the Greek chisel, and served as a peg for the aesthetic theories of Lessing and Goethe. In our days the histrionic and strained character of the group is regarded as greatly diminishing its interest, in spite of the astounding skill and knowledge of the human body shown by the artists. To the same school belong the late representations of Marsyas being flayed by the victorious Apollo (Plate II. fig. 54), a somewhat repulsive subject, chosen by the artists of this age as a means for displaying their accurate knowledge of anatomy.
On what a scale some of the artists of Asia Minor would work is shown us by the enormous group, by Apollonius and Tauriscus of Tralles, which is called the Farnese Bull (Plate I. fig. 51), and which represents how Dirce was tied to a wild bull by her stepsons Zethus and Amphion.
The extensive excavations and alterations which have taken place at Rome in recent years have been very fruitful; the results may be found partly in the palace of the Conservatori on the Capitol, partly in the new museum of the Terme. Among recently found statues none excel in interest some bronzes of large size dating from the Hellenistic age. Rome. In the figure of a seated boxer (Plate V. fig. 72), in scale somewhat exceeding life, attitude and gesture are expressive. Evidently the boxer has fought already, and is awaiting a further conflict. His face is cut and swollen; on his hands are the terrible caestus, here made of leather, and not loaded with iron, like the caestus described by Virgil. The figure is of astounding force; but though the face is brutal and the expression savage, in the sweep of the limbs there is nobility, even ideal beauty. To the last the Greek artist could not set aside his admiration for physical perfection. Another bronze figure of more than life-size is that of a king of the Hellenistic age standing leaning on a spear. He is absolutely nude, like the athletes of Polyclitus. Another large bronze presents us with a Hellenistic type of Dionysus.
Besides the bronzes found in Rome we may set those recently found in the sea on the coast of Cythera, the contents of a ship sailing from Greece to Rome, and lost on the way. The date of these bronze statues has been disputed. In any case, even if executed in the Roman age, they go back to originals of the 5th and 4th centuries. The most noteworthy among them is a beautiful athlete (Plate V. fig. 73) standing with hand upraised, which reflects the style of the Attic school of the 4th century.
After 146 B.C. when Corinth was destroyed and Greece became a Roman province, Greek art, though by no means extinct, worked mainly in the employ of the Roman conquerors (see Roman Art).
Fig. 50. HARMODIUS AND ARISTOGITON.
Fig. 51. FARNESE BULL. (Naples.)
Fig. 52. LAOCOON GROUP. (Vatican.)
Fig. 53. GANYMEDE OF LEOCHARES. (Vatican.)
Fig. 61.—WINGED VICTORY OF SAMOTHRACE. (Louvre.)
Fig. 63. HEAD OF WARRIOR, RESTORED, FROM TEGEA.
Fig. 62.—WINGED VICTORY OF SAMOTHRACE. (Louvre.)
Fig. 64.—MARSYAS OF MYRON. (Lateran Mus.)
Fig. 65.—EAST PEDIMENT OF THE PARTHENON; LEFT AND RIGHT ENDS. (Brit. Mus.)
Fig. 66.—METOPE OF THE TREASURY OF SICYON AT DELPHI.
(From Fouilles de Delphes, by permission of A. Fontemoing.)
Fig. 68.—DISCOBOLUS OF MYRON, RESTORED BY PROF. FURTWÄNGLER.
Fig. 67.—GREEK PAINTING OF WOMAN’S HEAD.
(From Comptes Rendus of St. Petersburg, 1865. Pl. I.)
Fig. 69.—FIGHTER OF AGASIAS. (Louvre.)
Fig. 70.—PORTION OF FRIEZE OF MAUSOLEUM. (Brit. Mus.)
From a Cast.
Fig. 71.—APHRODITE OF CNIDUS. (Vatican.)
Fig. 72.—BRONZE BOXER OF TERME. (Rome.)
Fig. 73.—BRONZE OF CERIGOTTO. (Athens.) Found in the sea near Cythera.
Fig. 74.—AGIAS AT DELPHI.
(From Fouilles de Delphes, by permission of A. Fontemoing.)
Fig. 75.—CORA (KORÉ) OF ERECHTHEUM. (Athens.)
Fig. 76.—APOLLO AT DELPHI.
(From Fouilles de Delphes, by permission of A. Fontemoing.)
Fig. 77.—APHRODITE OF MELOS. (Louvre.)
Fig. 78.—NIOBE AND HER YOUNGEST DAUGHTER. (Florence.)
Fig. 79.—APOXYOMENUS. (Vatican.)
Fig. 80.—DORYPHORUS OF POLYCLITUS. (Nat. Mus., Naples.)
Fig. 81.—ANTIOCH SEATED ON A ROCK. (Vatican.)
English Photographic Co.
Fig. 82.—HERMES OF PRAXITELES. (Olympia.)
IV. Select Bibliography.—I. General works on Greek Art.—The only recent general histories of Greek art are: H. Brunn, Griechische Kunstgeschichte, bks. i. and ii., dealing with archaic art; W. Klein, Geschichte der griechischen Kunst, no illustrations; Perrot et Chipiez, Histoire de l’art dans l’antiquité, vols. vii. and viii. (archaic art only).
Introductory are: P. Gardner, Grammar of Greek Art; J. E. Harrison, Introductory Studies in Greek Art; H. B. Walters, Art of the Greeks.
Useful are also: H. Brunn, Geschichte der griechischen Künstler, (new edition, 1889); J. Overbeck, Die antiken Schriftquellen zur Geschichte der bildenden Künste bei den Griechen; untranslated passages in Latin and Greek; the Elder Pliny’s Chapters on the History of Art, edited by K. Jex-Blake and E. Sellers; H. S. Jones, Ancient Writers on Greek Sculpture.
II. Periodicals dealing with Greek Archaeology.—England: Journal of Hellenic Studies; Annual of the British School at Athens; Classical Review. France: Revue archéologique; Gazette archéologique; Bulletin de correspondance hellénique. Germany: Jahrbuch des K. deutschen arch. Instituts; Mitteilungen des arch. Inst., Athenische Abteilung, Römische Abteilung; Antike Denkmäler. Austria: Jahreshefte des K. Österreich. arch. Instituts. Italy: Publications of the Accademia dei Lincei; Monumenti antichi; Not. dei scavi; Bulletino comunale di Roma. Greece: Ephemeris archaiologikè; Deltion archaiologikon; Praktika of the Athenian Archaeological Society.
III. Greek Architecture.—General: Perrot et Chipiez, Histoire de l’art dans l’antiquité, vol. vii.; A. Choisy, Histoire de l’architecture, vol. i.; Anderson and Spiers, Architecture of Greece and Rome; E. Boutmy, Philosophie de l’architecture en Grèce; R. Sturgis, History of Architecture, vol. i.; A. Marquand, Greek Architecture.
IV. Greek Sculpture.—General: M. Collignon, Histoire de la sculpture grecque (2 vols.); E. A. Gardner, Handbook of Greek Sculpture; A. Furtwängler, Masterpieces of Greek Sculpture, translated and edited by E. Sellers; Friederichs and Wolters, Bausteine zur Geschichte der griechisch-römischen Plastik (1887); von Mach, Handbook of Greek and Roman Sculpture, 500 plates; H. Bulle, Der schöne Mensch in der Kunst: Altertum, 216 plates; S. Reinach, Répertoire de la statuaire grecque et romaine, 3 vols.
V. Greek Painting and Vases.—Woltmann and Woermann, History of Painting, vol. i., translated and edited by S. Colvin (1880); H. B. Walters, History of Ancient Pottery (2 vols.); Harrison and MacColl, Greek Vase-paintings (1894); O. Rayet et M. Collignon, Histoire de la céramique grecque (1888); P. Girard, La Peinture antique (1892); S. Reinach, Répertoire des vases peints grecs et étrusques (2 vols.); Furtwängler und Reichhold, “Griechische Vasenmalerei,” Wiener Vorlegeblätter für archäologische Übungen (1887–1890).
VI. Special Schools and Sites.—A. Joubin, La Sculpture grecque entre les guerres médiques et l’époque de Périclès; C. Waldstein, Essays on the Art of Pheidias (1885); W. Klein, Praxiteles; G. Perrot, Praxitèle; A. S. Murray, Sculptures of the Parthenon; W. Klein, Euphronios; E. Pottier, Douris; P. Gardner, Sculptured Tombs of Hellas; E. A. Gardner, Ancient Athens; A. Bötticher, Olympia; Bernoulli, Griechische Ikonographie; P. Gardner, The Types of Greek Coins (1883); E. A. Gardner, Six Greek Sculptors.
VII. Books related to the subject.—J. G. Frazer, Pausanias’s Description of Greece (6 vols.); J. Lange, Darstellung des Menschen in der älteren griechischen Kunst; E. Brücke, The Human Figure; its Beauties and Defects; A. Michaelis, Ancient Marbles in Great Britain (1882); Catalogue of Greek Sculpture in the British Museum (3 vols.); Catalogue of Greek Vases in the British Museum (4 vols.); J. B. Bury, History of Greece (illustrated edition); Baumeister, Denkmäler des klassischen Altertums (3 vols.). (P. G.)
- Grammar of Greek Art.
- It may here be pointed out that it was found impossible, with any regard for the appearance of the pages, to arrange the Plates for this article so as to preserve a chronological order in the individual figures; they are not arranged consecutively as regards the history or the period, and are only grouped for convenience in paging.—Ed.
- The date is given when the work cannot be considered new.