1902 Encyclopedia > Archaeology > Classical Archaeology - Second Period: Schools of Chius, Sicyon, Argus, Aegina, Athens and Magna Graeca

Archaeology
(Part 10)




SECTION II: CLASSICAL ARCHAEOLOGY (ART, SCULPTURE, ETC. OF CLASSICAL GREEK AND ROMAN PERIODS)

Second Period: Schools of Chius, Sicyon, Argus, Aegina, Athens and Magna Graeca


From the date of the earliest historical notices of sculptors, backward to that usually assigned to the Homeric poems, there is an interval of several centuries, during which it would at first sight appear that the art of sculpture had made no sensible advance, if indeed it had not declined. This being improbable, an explanation must be sought for, either with Ulrichs (Die Anfänge der Griechischen Künstlergeschichte, Wurzburg, 1871) in the confusion which seems to reign among the dates of the earliest sculptors, or with Brunn (Die Kunst bei Homer) in the theory that the art of sculpture in Greece during that interval was, like the contemporary art of Assyria, strictly confined to working in relief, and that in this direction it may well have made steady progress, though particular artists are not singled out for praise. It is with sculpture in the round, and with some particular invention, as that of welding iron or ca sting bronze, or with some new technical procedure, as the working of marble, that the first records of artists begin. With regard to the confusion in the dates of these records, it is true that in ancient times the artistic faculty was handed down in certain families, among whom there was also a partiality for certain names. But t o assume on the strength of this, as Ulrich does, that later writers, finding a recurrence of the same name, generally identified it with the most distinguished and hence probably the latest of the artists who bore it, is a means of peopling an apparent void which ought to be supported with better evidence than that which Brunn has controverted at almost every point. For example, in treating of Theodorus of Samus, of whom it is said that he invented the process of casting in bronze, and supposed that he was a contemporary of Polycrates, Ulrichs argues that there must have been two artists of that name (and suggests that there may have been several), because the one who invented bronze-casting must have lived before 576 B.C., previous to which date this art may be inferred to have been known from the remark of Herodotus (v. 82), that the Epidaurians were ordered by an oracle to obtain figures of Damia and Auxesia, not chalkou e lithou [Gk.], but xulou [Gk.]. Why chalkou [Gk.] should not refer to hammered as well as to cast bronze, Brunn is unable to see. Again, it was Theodorus of Samus who built the substructure of the temple of Diana at Ephesus, and Ulrichs is at a loss to conceive how the people of that town could have remained till 576 B.C. without a temple worthy of their goddess. That the previous temple was unworthy of Diana cannot be proved by us, who are ignorant of the feelings of the Greeks in these matters, and who are aware that Jupiter himself had not even in his favourite Olympia a great temple till 456 B.C.

The view taken by Brunn is, as has been said, that until the invention of casting in bronze the Greek sculptors continued to work in relief except when images were required for the purposes of worship, and that in these cases, whether the figure was of wood, stone, or bronze, the rude helpless form of ancient times was preserved. Stimulated, it may to supposed, by the achievements of the newly-invented art, sculptors now began to look to the possibility of producing in marble also a resemblance to the human figure in its substantial roundness. The scene of the first success in this direction was Chius, where a family which for three generations (Melas, Micciades, and Archermus) had been celebrated for its workers in marble, was at this time represented by the brothers Bupalus and Athenis. Works from their hands were to be seen in their native place, in Delus, Iasus, and Smyrna, and consisted, so far as we know, of draped figures of goddesses, with the one memorable exception of a statue by Bupalus intended as a caricature of the poet Hipponax, which was set up in Clazomenae. The poet took his revenge by circulating some verses which stung the sculptor so severely as to drive him to suicide by hanging. The school of Chius had a rival in that of Magnesia on the Maeander, at the head of which was Bathycles, whose fame is associated with the reliefs and figures on the colossal throne of Apollo at Amyclae (Pausanias, iii 18,9; Overbeck, Gesch. d. Griech. Plastik, i. p. 86). He and a number of his pupils or assistants had been purposely invited to the task, and what they accomplished was probably the best that could then be done, however short of the standard of later times it may have fallen in the eyes of Pausanias. One noticeable fact is, that after completing their work, they left behind portraits of themselves, and this, in connection with the portrait of Hipponax, may serve to show that sculptors had already begun to direct their attention to the individual features of the human face. As to the date of Bathycles, Pausanias was uncertain and modern critics are divided, some supposing him to have left Magnesia before its destruction, 636 B.C., others on the occasion of its capture by the Persians, 546 B.C. In favour of the latter date is the statement (Pausanias, iii, 10, 8) that the gold received from Croesis (563-549 B.C.) by the Lacedaemonians was made a gift of by them for the decoration of the figure of Apollo at Amyclae.

The new phase of art thus entered on, according to tradition, by the Ionians, was now taken up vigorously by the Doric sculptors, among whom the first to attain distinction were Dipoenus and Scyllis, natives of Crete, and members of the ancient guild of sculptors there, which took its name from the mythic Daedalus. Leaving Crete, they settled in Sicyon, probably on the invitation of the tyrant Clisthenes, and were there commissioned to execute at the public cost a group of statues deities. Their work was, however, interrupted by a disagreement which ended in the artists having to leave the town. They established themselves in Aetolia, and were allowed to remain there until, a plague having fallen on Sicyon, the oracle traced it to the wrath of the gods at seeing their statues incomplete. Dipoenus and Scyllis were recalled, and finished their work at a greatly increased price, from which it may be inferred, perhaps, that the original dispute lay in the matter of payment. Among the many sculptures which they executed in Sicyon and other Greek towns, as Cleonae, Argus, Tirynth, and Ambracia, some, it is said, were of wood and ivory, a combination of material which may be regarded as having suggested the chryselephantine sculpture of later times (Pliny, xxxvi. 4,9, 14; Pausanias, ii, 15, 1; 22, 5, Brunn, Gesch. d. Griech. Künstler, i. p. 43). For determining their date, we have a passage of Pliny in which he says, "Primi omnium inclaruerunt marmore aculpendo," adding. "Before Cyrus ascended the throne of Persia, about 576 B.C." From their school proceeded Doryclidas and Dontas, who executed several figures and groups of deities in cedar gold at Olympia for the Heraeum and the treasuries of the Epidaurians and Megaraens; Clearchus of Rhegium, who worked in bronze; and Tectaeus and Angelion, from whom Callon, the celebrated Aeginetan sculptor, learned his craft. As a work of Tectaeus and Angelion, Pausanias (ii. 32, 5; ix. 35, 3) mentions a figure of Apollo at Delus, representing the god in a rigid attitude, the upper arms close to the sides and the fore-arms advanced, in his right hand a bow, and in his left a diminutive group of the three Graces. Contemporary with Doryclidas were Smilis of Aegina and Gitiades of Sparta, the former of whom is known to have executed a group of the Horae, to be placed with a figure of Themis by Doryclidas. From his hand was also a figure of Hera at Samus. Gitiades, who was at once sculptor, architect, and poet, erected the temple of Athene Chalkioikos, and made the figure of the goddess for it. The temple was coated with plates of bronze, on which were reliefs representing scenes from the legends of Hercules and Perseus, and from mythical incidents, among them being the birth of Athene.

Turning now to the remains of Greek sculpture, which may with more or less certainty be assigned to the period in which the foregoing sculptors were at work, we begin with the foregoing sculptors were at work, we begin with the three metopes from the oldest of the temples on the Acropolis of Selinus, in Sicily, which up to now have been regarded as furnishing the first authentic, and as yet the clearest, glimpse of that early stage of Greek art when the foreign elements with which it had grown up were being fast eliminated, and the basis laid of a perfectly independent art. It is not within the range of absolute proof, though it is nearly so, that these metopes belonged to the temple erected by the Selinuntians soon after their settlement as colonists, 651 B.C., or, as other prefer, 628 (Benndorf, Die Metopen von Selinunt). They are sculptured in tufa, and represent - (1), Perseus cutting off the head of Medusa in the presence of Athene; (2), Hercules carrying the Cercopes, bound by the heels, over his shoulders; and (3), a quadriga to the front. In the first two, while the movement proceeds from left to right, the faces are all turned broadly to the front, as if looking to the spectator for applause. It may be that the artist, in thus rendering the grimness and grotesqueness of his subjects with a more staring, and vivid effect, had recourse, as is argued, to an innovation on the older manner of representing the figures altogether in profile. This much appears to be certain, from the minute attention which he has devoted to the structure of the knees, the lower parts of the legs, the feet, and the movement of the flesh on the shoulders, that the loss of half a face, entailed by a position in profile, would have grieved him. The drapery is stiff, and studiously arranged in neat folds, which are not always produced by the manner in which it is worn. The hair is disposed in a system of circular locks independent of each other. The proportions of the figures vary considerably, though uniformly characterized by a solidity and heaviness which, from the similar appearance of Doric columns, has been designated as Doric in style. The remains of colour found on these sculptures showed that the aegis of Athene had been sketched on the breast with a reddish brown, and that the same colour had been applied to the ground of the relif. The maender pattern on the broad fold of Athene's chiton was painted brown, her eyes and eyebrows black. The eyes of the Gorgon were red. The folds of the short chiton worn by Hercules w ere partially left to be indicated by colour. The muscles are strongly exaggerated, so as to mark the extraordinary physical strength attributed to the heroes of the subject.

Markedly contrasting with these metopes is a marble relief found in Samothrace in 1790, and now in the Louvre, distinguished for the flatness of the figures, which present the appearance of sections of men (Friederichs, Bausteine, i. p. 18). The subject, as we learn from the names inscribed by each figure, consists of Agamemnon seated, with the herald Talthybius, and Epeius, the sculptor of the wooden horse, standing behind him. The figures are lean and spare compared with those of Selinus; the folds of the draperies are merely indicated, and appear to have been completed in colour. The character of the inscriptions, which are in the old Ionian dialect, corresponds with that of the early vases. That this relief cannot be later than 550 B.C. there is no doubt; but all means of determining its date beyond that period fail. Nor is it safe to assign it higher antiquity than the Selinus metopes, on the ground that the figures are all in profile; for a position in profile was by no means an invariable characteristic of early sculpture, as may be seen by reference to fig. 2, in which are given two examples of the extremely early gold ornaments from Camirus in the British Museum, in all of which the figures are placed full to the front (Millingen, Ancient Unedited Monuments, ii. pl. 1; Muller, Denkmäler, pl. 11, No 39). From the sacred way leading up to the temple of the Branchidae at Miletus there are ten marble statues of seated figures now in the British Museum, for which they were obtained by C. T. Newton. Apart from their importance as works of art assignable to this early period, one of them possesses the additional interested of being, as we learn from the inscription on it, a portrait of Chares, a ruler of the neighbouring Teichiousa. The other important examples of sculpture in this period are - (1), the architrave of the temple at Assus, in the Troad (friederichs, Bausteine, i. p. 9); (2), three statues of Apollo-one found at Thera, and now in Athens, the second found at Tenea, and now in Munich, the third in the British Museum, where it is known as the Strangford Apollo. All three stand in the Egyptian manner, resting the weight of the body on both legs. The head sits rigidly on the shoulders, the brow retires, the eyes project and slope inward towards the nose, the lips are close, and the corners of the mouth turned up, producing something like a smile. The hair appears to have been completed with colour (Overbeck, Gesch. d. Griech. Plastik, 2d ed. I. fig. 8; Firederichs, Bausteine, i. p. 5).





In the course of our notice of this early period certain facts have assumed a prominence which calls for remark. First, it is to be observed that the earliest important schools of sclpture arose in the islands, particularly the islands of Chius, Crete, and Aegina. To what circumstance this was due-whether, for example, to a more active intercourse with Oriental nations - remains unexplained . Next to the islands, the coast of Asia Minor, Magna Graecia, and Sicily were productive of artists. From Crete the new impulse spread to the Peloponnesus, Sicyon, Argus, and Corinth. Secondly, for some reason, the sculptors then mostly worked in pairs. Thirdly, the various materials-bronze, marble, wood and ivory, and gold and ivory-were already in use as in later times. Fourthly, the subjects were - (1), religious and mythological, the epos being the main source; and (2), portraits and statues of successful athletes. Individual artists had at last begun to assert their peculiarities in the conception of the human form. They had begun to give up those general types which bear the same resemblance to a man as does his shadow cast by the sun. in the infancy of art, as in the early morning, the shadows are grotesque. As it advances they improve, till at noon the shadow is lost in the living figure.

In the earlier part of our period it is to be observed that the Dorian race still continued to furnish the sculptors of distinction, but the main centres of the art were now in the Peloponnesus instead of the islands. In Sicyon the reputation acquired by Dipoenus and Scyllis was enlarged by Canachus, whose works were spoken of in later times (Cicero, Brut, 18, 70) as models of the severe restrained style of the early schools. Statues of deities were his favourite subjects. His material consisted sometimes of wood, as in the figure of Apollo Ismenius at Thebes (Pausanias, ix. 19, 2); sometimes of gold and ivory, as in the figure of Aphrodite at Sicyon. (Pausanias, ii. 10, 4); and sometimes of bronze, as in his celebrated statue of Apollo Philesius at Miletus, which is said to have differed from the Apollo at Thebes only in the material. A figure of Apollo answering in general terms to the description of this statue, occurs on certain coins of Miletus and in a remarkable bronze statuette in the British Museum . the attitude of the statuette is stiff, but less pervaded with rigidity than, for example, the Apollo of Tenea. The form, which is quite nude, shows an advance in t he study of proportions. The shoulders are still square, but the chest is much fuller, and apparently rendered as if with a reminiscence of its expansion and heaving after athletic exertion. Canachus worked with his brother Aristocles, also a sculptor of high reputation, though of his works all we know is that he took part with Ageladas in the execution of three statues of Muses.

The schools of Argus and Aegina appear to have mostly confined themselves to working in bronze. At the head of the former stood Ageladas, whose principal reputation consists in his having been the instructor of the three great masters, Myron, Polycletus, and Phidias. Nine of his works are mentioned, including two statues of Zeus, but no description of his style is added, nor is anything regarding it to be inferred from the very diverse manner of his three great pupils. His date falls between 508 and 452 B.C. Argus had also Aristomedon, Glaucus, and Dionysius. In Aegina, where the quality of the bronze (Aeginetica aeries temperatura-Pliny N.H., xxxiv 2,5,10; 8, 19, 75), as well as the artistic excellence of its sculptors, obtained a wide recognition, the first name of importance is that of Callon, a pupil, as has been said, of Tectaeus, and Angelion of Sicyon, and a contemporary of Canachus (Pausanias, vii, 18,10), with whom, in respect of the severity of his style, he has been compared. Of his works we know only of a statue of Athene at Troezene, and a tripod with a figure of Cora at Amyclae. Possibly, like his contemporaries, his chief study was that of the finely-developed forms of successful athletes. Greatly beyond him in distinction was Ontas, under whose hands the art of Aegina achieved a reputation which was perhaps only surpassed by that of Athens, and, owing to the political collapse of the island, was never obscured by the inferiority of later schools. His works, which appear to have been mostly of bronze, consisted of large compositions as well as of single statues of gods and heroes. After Onatas we have Anaxagoras, who was employed by the united Greek states to execute the bronze statue of Zeus (15 feet high) for Olympia, in commeoration of the battle Plataeae. On the same occasion the Greeks dedicated two other works of art-a bronze statue of Poseidon (10 ¸ feet high) for his temple on the Isthmus; and a golden tripod, standing on a bronze support formed of three serpents, for the entrance of the temple at Delphi. In both cases the names of the artists are unrecorded, and probably it will not be wrong to assume that they also were of Aegina. The golden tripod was melted down during the Phocian war; but the support remained in situ till the time of Constantine, by whose orders it was removed to Constantinople and placed in the Hippodrpme, where it still stands. In 1855 the earth which and accumulated round its base was removed by C.T. Newton, and the names of the Greek states inscribed on its revealed. (Newton, Travels in the Levant, ii. p. 25. For the discussion raised on the antiquity of this monument, see Friederichs, Bausteine, i. p. 64.)

In Athens we find in this period Endoeus, of whom the scanty records permit us to know almost nothing, and Antenor, the author of a bronze group representing the Tyrannicides, Harmodius and Aristogiton, and erected in the Agora at the foot of the Acropolis. That these figures were executed shortly after the incident which they were intended to commemorate, 550 B.C., is very probable. It is recorded that Xerxes carried them off to Susa in 480 B.C., and that they were restored to Athens by Alexander, or Seeucus, or Antiochus. In the meantime, to repair the loss, two sculptors, Critius and Nesiotes, were employed to replace the group (Pausanias, i. 8, 5; Arrian, Exped. Alex. Iii. 16, 7; vii. 19, 2, Pliny, xxxiv. 19, 70). Whether the new sculptors were expected to reproduce the composition and the style of the lost figures - as, for example, Onatas did in replacing the figure of the black Demeter at Phigalia - cannot be ascertained. On the other hand, if the two marble statues in the museum of Naples (Mus. Borbon, viii. Pls. 7,8) have been rightly described as copies of the new group, and if it is right conjecture that the group represented on certain tetradrachams of Athens, and, we may add, on a Panathenaic prize vase in the British Museum, was copied from the older group, on the ground that they were executed about the time when it was recovered from Susa, and therefore probably to commemorate that event, this much at least will be clear, that the composition of both groups was very much the same. On the other hand, the frequency with which statues and groups of statues of various kinds occur on the late tetradrachms of Athens, would equally perhaps require to be explained on the same hypothesis of a restoration, and for this we are not prepared. With respect to the marble statues just mentioned, it is to be observed that the expression of physical energy in them, side by side with a spareness and sinewiness, recalls the characteristic of Myron, and accordingly be better ascribed to the later artist Critius, than to his predecessor Antenor. As comparable in many respects with one of the statues in Naples we give fig. 3.

At Rhegium, in lower Italy, the mantle of Clearchus had fallen on Pythagoras, unless it be true, as is also stated, that he had received his instruction from an otherwise unknown artist, Euchirus of Corinth. A list of the sculptures by Pythagoras (Overbeck, Antike Schriftquellen, s.v. Ptyhag.) shows that the worked exclusively in bronze, that his subjects, with the exception of a group of Europa on the bull, in Tarentum, consisted of male figures, and these of a kind in which either a strongly-pronounced muscular action, or a marked capacity for it, must have been expressed. The most famous of them was in statue of Philoctetes at Syracuse, of which the epigram writers declared that the expression of pain in it was such as to move the spectator. To disprove the conjecture that the pain might have been expressed in the face alone, there is a gem in the Berlin Museum (Overbeck, Gesch. d. Griech. Plastik, 2d ed., fig. 42) bearing what there is little doubt is a copy from the statue, from which Philoctetes appears to be suffering contortion through every limb from the wound in his foot as he tries to walk. And this, it may be added, while itself an accurate observation of the effect of such a wound, is an admirable illustration of the talent of Pythagoras for strained, and, what is more, a concentrated straining of, muscular action. From a statement of Pliny, it appears that he was the first to express the veins and sinews of the human form, and from Diogenes Laertius we gather that he was the first to apply rhythmus and symmetry to his figures. The precise meaning of these latte words it is difficult to understand, with nothing better before us than a gem copy of one of the artist's works. It will now, however, be far wrong if we take them to refer to that concentration of the entire action of the body upon one point which has been recognized in the figure of Philoctetes, and which we assume to have been the key to the composition of his groups. This interpretation is further in harmony with the statement of Pliny, seeing that an artistic purpose of this kind could not be carried out without the studious expression of veins and sinews (Brunn, Gesch. d. Griech. Künstler, i. p. 132).





We have seen how few of the existing monuments can be traced even conjecturally to the artists of this early period, whose names and praises have been handed down to us. monuments of sculpture there are, manifestly assignable to this period, and some of them worthy of the fame of a great master. But whether the men who executed them were unhonoured in their time, or whether from the insufficiency of or literary records names well known in antiquity may have escaped us, or whether, in fact, the best of these works at least may really have come from the hands of men otherwise well known, remains unexplained. The last-mentioned possibility has been placed in a strong light by Brunn's discussion on the sculptures from the temple of Athene at Aegina, now in Munich. Not that he would trace them directly to the hands of the artists Callon and Onatas of Aegina. What he aims at is to connect the characteristics of the sculptures intimately with the style re corded of these two men, and to leave the rest for conjecture. (Die Aeginetische Giebel-Gruppen, Bayer. Akad. 1869 ;and Ueber das Alter der Aeginetischen Bildwerke, Bayer. Akad. d. Wissenschaft, 1867.) Of the figures in the western pediment, in which the combat over the dead body of Achilles was represented, only one is lost. From the eastern only five completefigures remain. The subject of it was a combat corresponding in its main features with that of the other pediment. In both the central object of the strife is a fallen hero ; in both the goddess Athene appears on the scene. In the central object of the strife is a fallen hero; in both the goddess Athene appears on the scene. In the one group her figure is entire; in the other only her head remains. In the eastern pediment the only recognizable figure is that of Hercules, and from his presence it has been supposed that the subject of the composition was the combat of that hero and Telamon against Laomedon of Troy. The statues of this pediment are of a bolder and more advanced style than the others, from which it has been inferred that they may have been the work of a young man, carried away by a new movement in art, while the others may have been the work of an older artist, hardened in the traditions of his school. One thing, however, is plain from the remarkable uniformity which reigns among the figures of both groups, that the artist or artists had hitherto been limited in their study to one type of the human form, and that the nude form of finely-developed athletes. Nowhere is there individuality, but everywhere an excessive carefulness in rendering the forms. The goddess Athene has all the rigidity of the ancient figures intended for a worship which little brooked innovations. The expression on the faces is throughout the same, and the hair is always rendered in one conventional manner. The figures are spare and hard, with as little flesh as possible. In both pediments the scene -- a combat over a fallen hero -- is intended to stir our sympathy, but entirely fails. There is no straining of muscles, no expression of grief, and no sense of the emergency. We turn from the figures as a whole to the pleasing truthfulness with which the parts are rendered. To give them a greater air of vitality, the lips and eyes of the statues, with such accessories as drapery, sandals, and weapons, were originally coloured blue and red, while many small holes remain to show that part of the armour and aegis on the breast of Athene had been attached in metal, a fact which bears with great importance on the question of the polychromy of ancient statues. With regard to the date of these sculptures, the opinion is, that they could hardly have been executed more than fifty years before the time of Phidias (engraved, Muller, Denkmäler, i. pls. 6-8).

Among the other existing examples of sculpture assignable to this period we would selected as most characteristic- (1.) marble stele found (1838) in the east of Attica, and now in the Theseum at Athens (Friederichs, Bausteine, i. p. 26), representing an armed warrior standing in profile, whose name, as appears from the inscription, was Aristion. The sculptor's name, which is also inscribed, was Aristocles. The relief is low and flat, and executed with the greatest care and attention to details, particularly those of the armour. The ground of the relief was painted red and the armour blue, the ornaments on it being picked out with red. Remains of colour were also found on the lips and eyes, while the crest of the helmet appears to have been added in metal. Altogether, Aristion presents a touching picture of the old upright and severe warrior who fought at Marathon. (2.) Another marble stele in Orchomenus, inscribed with the sculptor's name, Anxenor of Naxus, and representing, in low flat relief and in profile, a man of years wearing a mantle, and standing, resting on his staff, holding a beetle towards the dog at his feet (Overbeck, Gesch. d. griech. Plastik, 2d ed., i. fig. 23; Friederichs, Bausteine, i. p. 29). (3) Another marble stele in Naples (Mus. Borbon, xiv pl. 10., Friederichs, Bausteine, i. p. 28), in which the drapery and the forms are still archair, though showing a considerable advance on the stele of Aristion. (4.) Part of a metope from one of the temples of Selinus in Sicily (Benndorf, Die Metopen von Selinunt, pl. 5), representing a goddess, either Athene or Artemis, trampling on an armed male figure, probably a giant, whom she has hurled to the ground. As an example of the archair manner of relief in this period, this fragment has no equal among existing monuments. The anguish on the face of the giant is depicted with deep feeling; nor is our emotion interrupted by observing that the beard retains its formal trimness, and that the hair remains in graceful ringlets, in no way partaking of the confusion. (5.) Marble relief found on the Acropolis of Athens, and preserved there, representing a female figure, possibly a goddess, stepping into a car (Friederichs, Bausteine, i. p. 25). This relief has been supposed, but without sufficient reason, to be a fragment of the frieze of the older pre-Periclean Parthenon. With more justice has it been compared in point of style with (6), the reliefs of the so-called Harpy tomb discovered at Xanthus in Lycia in 1838 by Sir Charles Fellows, and now in the British Museum (Friederichs, Bausteine, i. p. 37). (7.) From Xanthus the British Museum possesses another archaic frieze of higher merit, representing a procession of chariots, in which the horses are modeled with extra-ordinary care (Prachov, Antiquissima Monumenta Xanthiaca, 1872). (8.) Marble relief in Thasus representing Apollo, Hermes, and nymphs (Overbeck, Gesch. d. Griech, Plastik, 2d ed., I fig. 28). The figures have an Ionic slimness, such as we found on the architrave from Assus, but with finer proportions that that early work. (9.) Three small reliefs in terra-cotta from melus (Overbeck, Gesch d. Griech. Plastik, 2d ed., I figs. 27, 26a, and 26b), representing Orestes and Electra at the tomb of their father; Perseus mounted on Pegasus and carrying off the head of Medusa; and Sappho, seated, resting from her lyre and looking up towards Alceaus, as at the moment when he said, "You sweet, black-haired, modest Sappho, I have something to say to you." A fourth relief of this style is given in fig. 4. The trimness and grace of these early reliefs had a charm for the artists and patrons of later times, especially the times of the first emperors, such as has been exercised in our day by the paintings of the pre-Raphaelite masters, and between the imitations then produced and the original models it is frequently difficult to draw a clear distinction. A critical list of these imitations - whether sculptured in relief or in the round - is given by Friederichs, Bausteine, i. pp. 71-95; and, with illustrations, by Overbeck, Gesch. d. Griech. Plastik, 2d. ed., i. pl. 14. As examples of early sculpture in its inferior walk may be mentioned (10), a series of bronze statuettes which have served as stands of mirrors or otherwise as decorations of furniture. Those which have been or are still stands of mirrors are generally female figures, and it is to be observed that the oldest of them, as distinguished from the later examples, wear a heavy under-garment or chiton, apparently of worsted material, and over this again an ample and by no means light peplos.

If we are to credit the Greeks with having been introduced by the Assyrians to one branch of art more than another, we should say it was the art of gem-engraving. Not that we possess Greek gems which compare in style and antiquity with those of Assyria, but, if for no other reason, because we find a technical process of so great difficulty existing at all in Greece at an early period. Perhaps the earliest examples of the art in Greece possessed of artistic merit are two scarabs from Aegina, one with the figure of a bowman in pure Aeginetan style, and the other bearing the inscription Kreontida eimi [Gk.] (Bullettino d. Inst. Arch. 1840, p. 140); three from Asia Minor, two of them being inscribed, the one Semonos [Gk.] , the other Aristoteiches [Gk.] (Brunn, Gesch. d. Griech. Künstler, ii. pp. 633 and 604). The only glyptic artist mentioned in this early period is Mnesarchus of Samus, the father of Pythagoras. In contrast with the paucity of early gems from Greek soil is the immense number of scarabs yielded by the tombs of Etruria, which at least reflect the style of this period. The material consists principally of rock-crystal, carnelian, and banded agate, and the subjects, it is worthy of remark, are mostly taken form the heroic legends of Greece, figures of deities being exceedingly scarce, as indeed is also the case on the Etruscan bronze mirrors, which, however, are obviously of a later date.

Painting, or rather colouring, as it would be more properly described in its earliest phase, in which it was entirely subservient to architecture and ceramography, is said to have been first elevated to an art by Cleanthes of Corinth, who introduced the drawing of figures in outline; by Telephanes of Socyon, who improved on this by indicating of Corinth or Craton of Sicyon, by the introduction of colours (Pliny, N. H. xxxv. 4 15). Again we have Eumarus of Athens, who is said to have first distinguished in his paintings men from women, probably by the means adopted in the early vases, that is, by painting the flesh white in the case of women. The historical truth of these statements may be doubted; not so, however, those that refer to Cimon of Cleonae, whomade an unquestionable advance in the treatment of draperies, and in exchanging the conventional manner of rendering the human form for an approach to truthfulness to nature (Aelian, Var. Hist. viii. 8; Pliny, N. H. xxxv. 8, 6). Cimon appears to have been the founder of the early Peloponnesian school of painting. As the task imposed on painters at that time was mostly the decoration of the cella walls of temples, we must suppose that they executed their paintings on the prepared stucco of the wall either when it was fresh (al fresco), or when it was dry, by means of some binding material, a tempera. Like their followers down to the time of Apelles, they used only the simple colours, white, yellow, red, and bluish black, in the mixing of which to obtain other shades they seem to have advanced very little, greater attention being directed to the drawing than to the colouring. From the school of Asia Minor, which, from the proximity of the Lydians, Phrygians, and Phoenicians, with their long practice in working in colours, may have arisen earlier than that of the Peloponnesus, the first name we hear of is that of Bularchus, who, according to Pliny (N. H., vii 38, 126; xxxv. 8,55), produced a large painting of the taking of Magnesia, which he sold to Candaules, king of Lydia, for its weight in gold. From the coast of Asia Minor our records of painting pass to Samus, an island which was conspicuous in early times for the grand scale of its undertakings. There Mandrocles, who made the bridge of boats across the Bosphorus by which Darius crossed with his army 515 B.C., executed a large historical painting of this passage of the Persians across the bridge, with Darius seated, enthroned, on the shore. This picture, according to Herodotus (iv. 88), was placed in the Heraeum of Samus. To the Samian school belonged Calliphon, and Agatharchus. It is also not unlikely that it had exercised some influence on Aglaophon of Thasus, the father and instructor of Polygnotus. From Corinth the art of painting, coupled with that of modeling in clay, passed to Etruria, lower Italy, and Sicily. At present the only examples of early Greek painting which we can adduce are furnished by the vases, a branch of the art which the ancients themselves regarded, it appears, with sufficient disrespect. For us, the vases, which have been preserved in great numbers, have this special value, that they present in an unbroken line, if in a comparatively degraded form, the various stages of Greek painting from its first beginnings under Oriental influence to its decline. The class which belongs to the period now before us is distinguishable from the others by the fact that the figures upon them are first scratched in outline on the red ground of the vase and then filled in with black the whole being covered with a varnish which seems to have lost nothing of its brilliancy. The other colours employed are white for the flesh parts of women and the hair of old men, white and a dark purple for the details of draperies and other accessories. The eyes are always placed full in profile, and the drawing of the figures is exceedingly stiff and angular. By far the greater part of this class of vases have been found in the tombs of Etruria, and for this reason they were called Etruscan, a designation which they retained till the frequency of Greek inscriptions, recording the artists' names upon them, contrasted with the total absence of Etruscan inscriptions, led to their being correctly traced to Greek workshops. As to their date, it has recently been argued by a high authority (Brunn, Probleme in der Geshichte der Vasenmalerei) that the greater part of these vases - in fact, all that have been found in Etruria, with at most two or three exceptions - are the production of Greek vase painters at a period not earlier than the end 3d century B.C., when a taste for the archaic manner must have revived. This theory has encountered much opposition. Applying it to the large collection of vases of this class from Etruria in the British Museum, one vase alone remains as a genuine example of the work of an early period. Whether we regard these vases as spontaneous productions or as imitations, they will serve to convey at best a dim idea of early Greek painting as a fine art. Of the next class of vases-those with red figures on black ground-some appear, from the severity of the drawing, to belong to the end of this period. The whole question of ancient vase-painting has been very fully and ably discussed by Otto Jahn in his Introduction to the Vasen-Sammlung zu München.

In temple architecture the principles of both the Doric and Ionic orders were already fully established, the latter in Asia Minor and the former in Greece proper; and it is characteristic of the national importance attached to this branch of art, that not only was the best available talent of the time procured, irrespective of local connection, but also that architects appear to have found a public for the writings in which many of them narrated their proceedings, and described the appliances used by them in building, as did Cherisphron and his son Metagenes in regard to the temple of Diana at Ephesus; or laid down the principles they had followed, as did Theodorus with regard to the temple of Hera of Samus. Among the remains of Doric architecture assignable to this period, the first to be mentioned are the two temples at Peastum (Major, Les Ruines de Paestum ou de Posidonie, 1768; cf. Schnaase, Bildende Künste, ii fig. 36), of which the larger derives a special interest from the two rows of columns, one above the other, with which it is furnished in the interior, for the purpose of supporting, as it appears, a hypaethral roof. Differing in many details from the Paestum temple is that of Selinus, the sculptured metopes of which have already been described, and assigned to the commencement of this period. The columns are here slimmer, being 4 ¸ times the lowest diameter in height; but the architrave has gained in height and heaviness. A transition from the heaviness of the old Doric temples - of Paestum and Selinus, for example - to the graceful proportions of the Doric order in Attica is presented by the temple of Athene in Aegina, the columns of which, however, are still too short, being a littleover 5 times the lowest diameter in height, and the architrave and frieze too high for the attic-Doric style. Of the Ionic order during this period the principal example was the temple of Diana at Ephesus, the construction of which, begun by Theodorus of Samus, was carried on by Cherisphron of Crete and his son Metagenes, and completed by Demetrius and Paenius about the time of Croesus, 565-551 B.C. 120 years having, it is said, from first to last been consumed on the work (Strabo, xiv. 640; Vitruvius, vii. praef., Pliny, N. H. xxxvi. 14, 95). This temple having been burned by Herostratus, was restored under the direction of Alexander's architect Dinocrates. The oldest instance of the Ionic order in Greece proper, so far as we know, was found in the treasury erected at Olympia by Myron, the tyrant of Sicyon, after his chariot victory, 658 B.C. This building consisted of two chambers, the walls overlaid in the ancient manner with bronze plates, and the one executed in the Ionic, while the other was of the Doric order. The architects of this early time were not, however, restricted to the erection of temples, but had other problems to solve, as, for example, in the Scias of Sparta, a round building with tent-shaped roof, used originally for musical performances and afterwards for public assemblies. Theodorus of Samus was the architect of the Scias. Probably the Odeum erected at Athens by Solon or Pisistratus had the same round form, and was intended for meetings of the same kind. Then followed the construction of theatres, that in Athens, which was of stone, having been commenced shortly after 500 B.C.


Read the rest of this article:
Archaeology - Table of Contents




Search the Encyclopedia:



About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Sitemaps
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us



© 2005-17 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries