Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

his wife. These pieces, which were of one stone, were 30 cubiis high . The statues of his children, to the number of four, were not much less considerable. They were 20 cubits high · These facts are more than fufficient to prove the taste that the Egyptians had for colossus's. I shall have occasion in the sequel of this work to return again to this ar. ticle.

As to the part of design, I have already mentioned it in the preceding books'. I do not therefore think it necefsary to insist on it at present. I reserve for the third part of this work some particulars of the manner in which these people executed their colossus's. I shall add at the same time fome reflections on the taste and the practice of the Egyptian (chool.

I know not in what class to range a very singular monument which an ancient author faith had been executed by the orders of Sesostris. This is the description, such as Clemens Alexandrinus reported after Athenodorus s.

This author says, that Sefoftris, having brought from the countries which he had travelled over, many able workmen, ordered the inoft skilful of them to make a statue of Osiris. This artist used in the composition all the metals and all the species of precious stones which were then known; but, above all, he put into it the same perfume with which they had, say they, embalmed the bodies of Osiris and Apis. He had given to the whole work a sky-blue colour. Each may form on the arrangement of the different matters what conjec. tures he pleases, by supposing, nevertheless, the reality of the fact, which to me appears improbable.

There remain very few lights on the progress and state of sculpture in Asia. It is certain, that, near the same ages, this art was there in much use. The Israelites had cast the golden calf; Moles had placed on the two extremities of The ark of alliance two cherubins of gold 5. Homer speaks of a statue of Minerva much revered among the Trojans i,

a Diod 1 1. p. 67.

See part !. book 2. h Exod. c. 37. 7.7.66.

e Ibid.; Herod. 1. 2. n. 107.
é Cohort. ad Gent.. p. 43.
i Iliad. 1. 6. v. 302. 66.

He

[ocr errors]

He places in the palace of Alcinous, statues of gold, representing young people who carried torches to give light du

ring the nightk. At the time of Pausanias they law still in the : city of Argos, a Jupiter in wood which was said to have been 5 found in the palace of Priam when Troy was taken. These

facts give us sufficiently to understand that sculpture was at

that time much in use in Asia ; but they do not instruct us : in the taste in which they made these statues.

Moses does not teach us any thing touching the form of the two cherubims which covered the ark, only that they had extended wings one opposite to the other, and their faces turned fronting each other a. This loose and uncertain de

ription has given room to commentators to represent the cherubims differently. Each has formed a particular idea : I shall not trouble the readers with the detail.

We are not more assured as to the form which the golden calf had. Yet there is great reason to think, that this idol had much resemblance to that of the ox Apis so reverenced by the Egyptians. And I should think in consequence that it had a human figure with the head of an ox. There still remain at this time many of these Egyptian representations. If the golden calf was executed in the taste of these models, we might be certain that this piece had nothing estimable on the score of elegance, and the correctness of design.

With respect to the statue of Minerva which is spoken of in the Iliad, Homer does not characterise the design in any

He does not even tell us of what it was made. We can only conjecture that the goddess was represented sitting. On a very remarkable occasion, Homer represents. the Trojan ladies going in form to put a veil over the knees of that statue a.

As to the Jupiter found in the palace of Priam, Pausanias who had seen it, has given us no description of it. He only

manner.

* Odyff. 1. 7. V. 100.
I have already explained for what reasons I have placed the isle of the
Phaeacians in Afia, p. 84.

"L. 2.C. 24. p. 165. m Exod. loco cit.
* Iliad. 1.6. v. 303. See also Strabo, l. 13. p. 897,

observes,

observes, that the statue had three eyes, one of which was in the middle of the forehead ..

Although the authors which I have just mentioned, have not been explicit on these pieces of high antiquity, I believe we may say that all these works were of a very middling taste, and entirely destitute of elegance and agreeableness. I am not reduced to simple conjectures to support this fentiment.

It is more than probable in reality, that the statue of Minerva of which Homer speaks, was no other than the Palladium. We learn from Apollodorus, that this image was executed in the taste of the Egyptian statues, having the legs and thighs joined together p. The Palladium must have been by consequence a fort of unformed and gross mass, without attitude and motionless.

ARTICLE II.

Of Gold work.

Pulence, and luxury which is the consequence, have gi

ven birth to gold work. Pomp and effeminacy had contributed to perfect this art, whose origin, as we have seen in the first part, afcended to very remote ages. The enumeration of all the facts which prove how much the works in gold were common in the ages we are at present busied in, would engage us in infinite details: this of all the arts which have relation to design, is that which seems to have been most cultivated. Let us chuse some proper subjects to make known the progress of gold work, and find out the objects which can give us an idea of the point of perfection to which that art was come at that time in Egypt and in Asia.

The scripture acquaints us, that the Israelites, the moment

o L. 2.c. 24. p. 165, PL. 3. p. 180.

It is in this sense that we ought to underftand the expression our Brxg, which Apollodorus uses, as Scaliger, Kusther, and many other critics have proved

they

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

they went out of Egypt, borrowed a large quantity of vases of gold and silver of the Egyptians 9,

This fact shews that gold work must have been then much cultivated among these people. To the testimony of Moses we may join that of Ho. mer. The poet makes mention in the Odyssee, of many presents which Menelaus had received in Egypt. They consisted of different works in gold, the taite and workmanship of which supposed great address and skill. The King of Thebes gave to Menelaus, two large silver tubs, and two beautiful tripods of gold. Alcandra, wife of this monarch, made a present to Helen of a gold distaff, and of a magnificent silver basket, the edges of which were fine gold and elegantly wrought". This union, this mixture of gold with silver appears to me worthy of remark. The art of soldering thefe metals depends on a great number of fciences. This is a proof that the Egyptians had been used a long time to the working of metals. We perceive also in the design of this basket a fort of taste and a particular kind of finishing.

We ought to refer also to the Egyptians that great quanltity of trinkets which the Hebrews were provided with in the desert. It is said that they offered for the making of the works destined to divine service, their bracelets, their earrings, their rings, their clasps, without counting the vases of gold and silver . Moses made all these trinkets be melt. ed, and converted them to different works proper for thic worship of the Almighty. The greatest part of these works were gold, and among them they had pieces of great execution and highly finished workmanship. A crown of gold'entirely surrounded the ark of alliances. The table of thewbread was adorned with a border of open chased gold work, The chandelier of seven branches appears to me above all worthy of much attention. The description which the holy scripture makes of it, gives us an idea of a very ingenious and well-composed design . This piece considerable in it.

4 Exod. c:12. V. 35.
r Odysf. 1. 4. v. 125. &C. Exod. c. 35. V. 22.
• Ibid. c. 25. V. II,

u Ibid. y. 24.& 23. * Ibid. v. 31.&c.

self, self, was of very fine gold beat by the hammers. I pass over in silence a number of other works equally estimable for the matter, and for the workmanship which must have been very delicate.

With respect to Asia, gold work was at that time as much cultivated as in Egypt. Profane history furnishes us with sufficient testimonies which prove that many people in Afiz had made a great progress.in ingraving, in chasing, and generally in whatever concerned the working of metals. The greatest part of the works cried up by Homer came from A. sia u. We there remark armours, cups, and vases of a very elegant design and a very agreeable taste. Herodotus speaks also with great encomiums of the richness and magnificence of the throne on which Midas distributed justice. This prince made a present of it to the temple of Delphos. 'Tis true Herodotus has not left us a particular description of this throne. But as he assures us that the work deserved to be seen“, we may conjecture that the workmanship was highly finished. I shall observe lastly, that Homer gives in general to the nations of Asia, arms much more ornamental and much more rich than to the Greeks. Those of Glaucus, and of many other chiefs of the Trojan army, were gold . The attention of Homer to cry up these circumstances, proves not only the opulence and luxury of the Asiatics, but also the great knowledge which these people had at that time in works of gold, and the arts which depend on it.

Although my intention was to avoid details, yet I can. not dispense with myself from making some reflections on the shield of Achilles, a work, the idea of which appears to me admirable, and which would certainly produce a high effect if it was executed. Many reasons engaged me to speak ofit under this article. Homer could not take the idea of such a work, but from some models which must have come near it. He has then only followed and embellish

*

y Exod c. 35. V. 31. & 36.

z See Iliad. 1. 11. V. 19. 1. 23. V. 741. &c.; Odyff. 1. 4. v. 615. &c. I. 15.V. 414. & 459.&c. L, 1. n. 14. b Iliad. 1. 6. V, 236. l. 2. B. y. 376. 1. 10, V. 439.

ed

« ElőzőTovább »