that the conquest of Egypt by Cambyses was only 525 years before Christ. There might then subsist Egyptian pic. tures anterior to this monarch, without their date ascending to the ages which we are treating of at present. It appears to me much more natural to attribute them to the Greeks. Far from imitating the conduct of the Persians, these conquerors applied themselves to repair the ancient monuments of Egypt. They enriched them with new ornaments, among which number, I think, we ought to put the pi&ures which they mention.

Let us go on to other testimonies which they produce to prove, that this art was known in the ages which make the objects of the second part of our work. All is reduced to conjectures, and to inductions drawn from some passages of Homer. They cite no positive fact: they alledge the veils embroidered by Helen and Andromache, of which I have spoke beforé; and support their opinion by the description of the shield of Achilles, and from some other places of the Iliad and Odyssee. They conclude from these facts combined and united, that painting must have been in use at the time of the war of Troy. Are these conjectures well founded, and are these reports really true? That is what we are going to judge of.

The partisans of the opinion which I attack begin by fupposing, that they could not think to stain wool and embroider stuffs, but with a view of imitating painting: this proceeding appears,' say they, very probable : it is more natural and more easy to represent objects by the help of colours and of a pencil, than by means of threads dyed varioufly. The shaded embroidery could not have been invented till long after painting, of which it seems only to be a laborious imitation: yet we see that sort of embroidery much in use at the time of the war of Troy. The invention of painting is then an. terior to that epoch. It is probable, moreover, that to do these works of embroidery, they used, as we do at this time, coloured patterns: this is sufficient to sew, that they knew to paint, and that that art must have been very common and very extensive in the heroic ages.

They They draw almost the same conclusions from the description of the field of Achilles : they insist upon the great variety of subjects and designs which have place in that piece; on the art of grouping figures in bas relief from the multiplicity of colours which Homer, they suppose, would have us understand, that each object was animated with. The different impressions which the action of the fire leaves on the metals is, say they, the only way the poet could invent to give and vary the shades of the colour : this could not have been suggested to him but by the fight of some picture. For, they add, it is not natural to be. lieve, that at first they thought of representing the colour of objects by the tinge which the action of the fire might im. press on metals : every thing, on the contrary, tells us, that they must have begun by using natural colours. The work of Vulcan must only be considered as an imitation of painting

These are the principal reasonings which they use to fupport

the antiquity of this art; it must be agreed, that they are very specious. Let us try to answer them, keeping in view the definition which I have given of painting : that is an essential point in the present question.

Is it very certain, that in the works of embroidery of which Homer speaks, there were different forts of colours, different shades? I think not; and I dare say, by examining the force of the terms which the poet uses, we shall see that he means only different figures, and different flowers {pread over the veils embroidered by Helen and Andromache u.. I do not think they will ever be able to prove, that the expressions used in these passages mean objects coloured varioully *. These designs, to keep close to the

text, + Acad. des inscript. t. 1. H. p. 75. &C.; Madame Dacier in her notes on Homer.

" Iliad. 1. 3. v. 125. &c.; 1. 22. V. 140. &c.

* M. l'Abbé Fraguier, and Mad. Dacier, pretend that the word ivitaTTEV, fignifies to represent with different colour s.

But, 1. they do not quote any authority to prove that ivéxaooey signifies to represent with different colours. This word, as well as that of WROCE, which Homer uses in speaking of the veil embroidered by Andromache, mean literally, to spread, to sow, that is to say, that there were many figures fpread about in these embroideries,


text, were of one uniform colour, different, without doubt, from the ground on which they were embroidered. I do not see any thing that indicates a mixture of fhadings : the figures must have glared on the ground of the embroidery; but the colours which served to represent them, were of one and the same dye: they had no fhadings, no degradation. I embrace this idea so much the more readily, as in the passages where Homer speaks of these sort of works, he never makes mention but of wool of one colour . Besides, in the Odyssee, they bring to Helen a basket of bottoms of worsted spun extremely fine y, If it had been then the custom to use different shadings in embroideries, Homer probably would have given us to un. derstand by some epithet, that these bottoms were of many colours, and that is what he has not done. In vain then do they imagine patterns painted of different colours, fince it appears certain, that the embroideries of which Homer speaks, were only of one colour. Even the idea of patterns serving for models appears to me a supposition not well supported. We are ignorant of the manner in which they worked at the time of the war of Troy; and if I might say what I think, I should believe that they then contented themselves to pounce their designs on the canvas : but in case they think patterns absolutely necessary, it must be owned, that they were simple designs of one and the same colour, such as they do at this time with a pencil or with ink..

The conclusions which they intend to draw from the Thield of Achilles, do not appear to me to be better founded. Let us read attentively the text of Homer, we shall see that he never had in view any thing but a piece of goldsmiths work; and what he says of the diversity of colours, might be perfectly explained either by the action of the fire upon the metals, or by their mixture and their oppofition. We cannot even suspect that lie meant shadings, degradations, and union of colours, nothing, in a word, that constitutes the essence of painting.

The words @póva Foixirs which we find used for the veil of Andromache, may admit of great difficulty. I doubt, notwithstanding, whether they can draw any great advantage from them. This is the only time that this expresfion is found in Homer: it is consequently very difficult to fix the sense. Yet, as far as we can judge, Homer did not design flowers of different colours; but rather different species of flowers. We find, it is true, the word worxidos used to design objects variously coloured, but that is only in authors greatly posterior to Homer. They will never prove, that, in the writings of this great poet, this word Mould design objects coloured variously, * Odyfi. 1.4. V. 135. 1.6. V. 53. and 306. 1. 13. V. Ic8. Ibid. 1. 4. V. 134.


There is nothing, for example, in the manner in which Homer describes a vine ingraved on the shield, which could not be given by the mixture of metals, and by the colour the adion of the fire is capable of imprinting on them : the stems were gold, the dark grapes were of imbrowned steel, and the props of silver 2. But we must observe, that the poet does not speak of the leaves of this vine. If he had entered into that detail, he must necessarily have said they were green; and that is what Homer has not done ; he has left us to understand that the stems adorned with their leaves were of gold.

This observation should be applied to the whole dcfcription of the shield of Achilles : no place acquaints us that this poet had an intention to design red colours, blue, green, &c. The action of the fire, and the mixture of metals, is not sufficient to give these colours : we must use for these sorts of effects metallic colours, that is to say, paint in enamel, a secret which certainly must have been unknown at that time. We even see that all the personages which Homer had occasion to put in this composition are of gold «, even to shepherds who conduct a flock.

Lastly, even agreeing that the veils of which Homer speaks were fhaded with different colours, and that the objects painted on the shield of Achilles indicate mixtures of dyes and colours diversified; the antiquity of painting does not appear to me more solidly establithed. To say that

b Ibid. v. 577

z Iliad. 1. 18. v.561. &c.


* Iliad. 1.18. v.517.



the art of embroidery had not been invented, but to imitate the art of painting, is a notion without any foundation. How do they know that in dying of wool, and in making use of different colours to embroider stuffs, the intention of the first men had been to copy painting. The end which they proposed in all times had been to imitate nature : painting itself was not invented but for this purpose. But, add they, it is more easy to represent objects by the help of colours and a pencil, than by any other means. I agree to it: this reason nevertheless is not more convincing; I appeal to experience.' It teaches us, that in the arts they have often begun with the most difficult proceffes before they attained to the most simple and the most easy.

The proof that Homer never had in view painting, properly so called, and that he even did not know it, is, that the terms consecrated in the Greek language to design this art *, are not to be found in his writings. Pliny has even Temarked that this poet very seldom speaks of colourse. If painting had been in use in the times that Homer lived, can we believe that he would have neglected to speak of so admirable an invention, he who was so particularly attached to describe the arts? We may add, that we see no pictures † in the palace he is pleased to describe, although he puts there statues and other ornaments of chafing and ingraving..

They knew, certainly, if I may be allowed the term, to daub wood and other things of some colour. The Greeks at the time of the war of Troy used to paint their vessels reda, and

yet that colour at that time was very imperfecte. The

* Γραφών and ζωγράφος, which are aften found in authors who have written since Homer. Zwypúpos 'is neither in the Iliad nor in the Odyssee. if we there see the word ypaper, it is not in the acceptation of painting. It never fignifies in Homer but to represent, to describe an object.

• L. 33. fe&t. 38. p. 624.

of Virgil has not been so circumspect. He puts pictures in the temple of Carthage. Æneas finds himself among the heroes who were painted there.

Animum piitura pafcit inani. Æneid. 1. 1. V. 464. &c. But this is not the only occasion where, as I have already remarked, Virgif has not been afraid to offend against cuftom ; I thall cite many examples of it in the sequel? 4 Iliad. 1. 2. B. V. 141. • See Theophraft. de lapid. p. 400.; Plin. 1.33. sect. 37, p. 624.


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