Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/622

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Athens was in the possession of Italians from 1387 until it was captured by the Turks in 1458, and during that interval a few scholars visited the city. After 1450 all is darkness until 1674, when the Frenchman Jacques Carrey made his drawings of the Parthenon.

Its sculptures could hardly have been known to the men of the Renaissance. A few of the greatest statues were known to Michelangelo—the Torso of the Belvedere especially, and he declared himself its pupil. This figure was one of the chief promoters of the Renaissance in sculpture.[1]

The especial reverence for classical antiquity, which in former times so exclusively prevailed, invested every fragment of ancient sculpture, even the most trivial, with a sentimental importance. . . . The antique had comparatively little to do with the truly great Italian school of sculpture of the fifteenth century. . . . External nature, religious feeling, human character and expression, these were alike the school, and in a far greater measure than the antique, the inspiring motives, of (Ghiberti, della Querela, Donatello, Luca della Robbia, Verocchio and a long list of splendid names).[2]

Winckelmann's "History of Ancient Art" appeared in 1764, after long years of preparation. Pater says:

It is since his time that many of the most significant examples of Greek art have been submitted to criticism. He had seen little or nothing of what we ascribe to the age of Pheidias; and his conception of Greek art tends, therefore, to put the mere elegance of the imperial society of ancient Rome in place of the severe and chastened grace of the palæstra. For the most part he had to penetrate to Greek art through copies, imitations, and later Roman art itself . . . a turbid medium.[3]

The foregoing extracts give the true doctrine. Roman art, not Greek, furnished the inspiration of the Renaissance sculptor, speaking generally. The tables that immediately follow furnish a striking proof.

Dates at which Seventy-six of the most Celebrated Statues were Found—Unearthed

A selection was made of seventy-six of the most famous statues of Greece, and from Mr. Edward Robinson's scholarly catalogue of the casts of the Boston Museum the dates at which these statues became known to the world were set down. The little table follows:

  1. Robinson, Boston Museum Catalogue, p. 324.
  2. "Italian Sculpture of the Middle Ages," introduction by J. C. Robinson, superintendent of the art collections of the South Kensington Museum, London (1862).
  3. W. Pater, "Renaissance," p. 205.