the desolating hand of social and political power to respond to art's poetry?" is change.

This is a good sample of Mr. Gambier Parry's style. A much longer quotation might have been made, but this is enough to show that he, like Mr. Ruskin, desires to see fine art ministering to the enjoyment of life, not only among the wealthy and highly educated, but among the poor. Some good remarks will be found on the comparative effect of art in town and country life; and these are illustrated by the example of two cottages, one of which, in the course of a year or two, completely changed its aspect from gloom and dirt to brightness and cheerfulness, showing that art has a refining and cheering influence on individual life, and how we may "hope to introduce with patience the materials of a higher and happier life.”

The aim of this excellent essay may be gathered from its concluding sen


The perception of beauty is one of the most precious endowments with which God has blessed humanity. The wise and benevolent do well to foster it in their fellow-men; and we do well to bless God for the inestimable gift, so far as we possess it ourselves, accepting the ministry of art as the surest means for its cultivation to enlighten and refresh the world, and accepting, in relation to it, the fundamental testimony of Nature, that God has spread man's path with beauty because He has consigned his life to work.

The third essay treats of the ministry of fine art to spiritual life. Nature, it is said, needs an interpreter to translate effects in the outward world into thoughts and feelings which can awaken the spirit of man. The early sculptor was haunted by an idea, and had no rest till he embodied it in marble. This is especially the case with the religious ideal. Poetry peopled the material universe with spiritual beings. It is the mission of Christian art to teach the world, through the element of beauty, the love of God to his creatures. This is what no analytical process can do. The artist is not a logician. His sense of beauty is intuitive, and he can but take the forms of beauty which surround him to interpret his thought. The question

well answered, and there follows an eloquent passage, in which the effect of a sunset is explained upon a theory like the Platonic ávávnou. Its fascination "is not that of novelty, but of reminiscence." The same train of thought is pursued further, and finally we are told that beauty is the symbol of divine love. It is more than a poetic fancy in the mind. It is as a bridge, connecting two worlds, material and spir itual, an assurance to our spirits that God is perfect in wisdom and love. Some of our readers will recognize in this chapter thoughts which occur in Michael Angelo's sonnets. That they are pure and noble and elevating to the mind will not be questioned. It is, however, to be regret ted that they are not always presented to the mind of the reader in the clearest

language, and that occasionally sentences occur which would be better for recasting, with a view to greater lucidity and regard for grammar. They are precisely such shortcomings as the author would detect if the essays were revised by him with a view to republication.

The fourth essay is on fine art in archæology. There the author is on firm ground. His antiquarian knowledge is great, and he is familiar with the recent discoveries in Greece, Asia Minor, and Assyria. After a few general remarks on the interest of archæological studies, and a reference to the well-known story of Solon and the Egyptian priest, he says that archæology employs all the powers of the scholar, philosopher, poet, and historian. Moreover, art and history must go side by side in archæology to supplement and illustrate each other. The remnants of ancient art bring before us the life of a people. Even the roughest art tells its tale, sometimes more vividly than if it were more highly finished. For vigor of life and heroic grandeur the sculptures of Nineveh surpass modern works of art. Every one can see the faults of technique, but only a sympathetic mind can appreciate their rude grandeur.

In answer to the question "What is the atmosphere most favorable to the production of works of art?" he reminds us "Whence comes our that it was not in unbroken peace, but in

the short and stirring intervals between of the soul by form." Gibson took a great wars, that the great works of Greek | wider view when he wrote: "Form is art were produced; and the glories of re-spiritualized by tinting; it makes us forligious art in the Middle Ages correspond get the material: the Greeks were right." with a time when there were great moral principles at stake.

Why, then, is marble the best material for sculpture? Because it shows the modelTo the thoughtful archeologist the ling and finish the best. It is better than world's life is always young; not so indi- dark materials, which show a few bright vidual life. We may find corresponding spots, and not a surface of modified lustraces of the artistic feeling in prehistoric tre. This effect is helped by a warm times and in the Middle Ages. Mr. Gam- tint, which gives the mellowing effect of bier Parry compares the cave-man, etching age. Terra cotta and ivory have much to with his flint arrow-point upon bones, with recommend them, and the latter admits of Giotto, as he was found by Cimabue draw-color to any extent. The feeling for color ing sheep upon stones. It is from the is stronger among southern nations than associations of life that archæology draws among northerns, so that pure white marits most interesting lessons. Some good ble would have struck a Greek eye as a remarks on "mannerism " follow. This is blot; not that they attempted realistic coloften the true expression of individual oring, but they aided the effect of archicharacter, and not merely an accident of tecture by the employment of color for style. Finally, "it is in art that, through- the background of groups, for hair, arout the ages of the past, we feel the spirit, mor, and drapery. From the splendid and we mingle with the hearts of men." palaces of Assyria to the temples on the | Nile, all was colored. The arts travelled westward, and were brought to perfection by the genius of Pheidias. The sculptured wall pictures of Nineveh and Egypt, the golden gates of Shalmanezer's palace, with their processions of countless figures in relief, and incidents of history and warfare, were "the first suggestion of an art perfected at last in the friezes of Athens and Phigalia." The enquiry into the use of colors by the Greek artists at the best period of their arts is not easily satisfied, because so many of the traces of color have disappeared. "The deep recesses of sculptured forms, the sheltered corners of walls and hollowed mouldings, alone retain the evidences of the color that once covered them." However, there is enough evidence "to convince unprejudiced judgment that color was an important element of sculpturesque and architectural effect in the greatest works of classic art." On this point it may be sufficient to quote one passage, which gives some details of evidence gathered from well-known sites:

The fifth essay is divided into two parts, treating of the ministry of color to sculpture and architecture. It begins with some general speculations as to the power and effect of color, about which, in the authors' opinion, some mystery hangs which has never yet been solved. He claims for color the same right to aim at the ideal which is generally conceded to form. He asks, "Why is the idea of purity associated with white?" Few will be satisfied with the answer, "Because of its exquisite union of all colors;" for few comparatively have ever seen the experiment by which this is proved, and these must confess that the so-called white obtained by the blending of three primary colors is very dingy. Most people, however, will acknowledge the difficulty which art has to meet in consequence of the differences in individual natures, or what we call variety of tastes.

On the question of color applied to sculpture it appears (for it is not too clearly expressed) that Mr. Gambier Parry claims for sculpture that it is not merely imitative but suggestive, "appealing to the moral and intellectual sense."

Socrates's dictum about the province of sculpture is good as far as it goes, but insufficient,- to represent the emotions


Wherever we look among the sites of ancient celebrity, as at Ægina and Athens, in the Morea or in Asia Minor, at Olympia and Halicarnassus and the islands of the Ægean, at Pæstum, Girgenti, or Selinunte, and among

the countless remains scattered far and wide, but of which all trace or name is lost, unquestionable evidences from travellers whose very purpose as scholars and artists was to search out and verify the history and arts of classic antiquity, all combine to one and the same result. In many places the coloring remained bright; in others, where the gold or encaustic had perished from the sculpture, the stain remained. Where the color had faded from the architecture, the etched outlines showed where the architect had designed upon his own mouldings the ornament for the painter; holes in the marble plainly indicated where metal decorations had been fastened on the frieze, where the gilt bronze harness had been fastened to the horses, and where helmets and weapons had been attached to the figures of gods and men.

and Pompeii, which afforded a proof that it was possible for the arts to work har. moniously. When painting is used in decorative architecture, the painter must work under certain restrictions, which, when fairly appreciated, are no hindrance. Certain minor effects may, it is true, be lost, but "the greater elements of form, proportion, and equilibrium" may be se cured. This is very well expressed by the author, who has a good right to speak of the effect upon the artist's mind of the restrictions which architecture imposes. As instances of free work, he mentions the paintings of Michel Angelo in the Sistine Chapel, and those of Raphael in the Stanze. It is by no means necessary, he proceeds to say, that all wall-paintings Altogether this part of the essay is very should be treated architecturally; for ininstructive, as showing the general use of stance, the paintings of Pinturicchio in color, and the objects sought by its appli- the Libreria at Siena would greatly lose in cation to sculpture. The difference be- interest if they were deprived of their histween the climate of Greece and our torical backgrounds; and to come nearer northern climate has to be taken into ac- home, the frescoes of Herbert and Maccount before we can enter into the feel-lise in the Houses of Parliament would ings which led the great architects and suffer from a rigid architectural treatment. sculptors of the classic period to employ The contrast between architectural wallcolor. To what extent it was employed is painting and free picture-painting, and the difficult to say, because five centuries had province of each, is well expressed by Mr. elapsed before Pausanias, Pliny, Strabo, Gambier Parry: "Let picture-painting be and Lucian described the state of the as free as the air it imitates, but architecmasterpieces of antiquity. But consider-tural wall-painting is bound by the respect able light has been thrown on the subject by Professor Cockerell, Dodwell, Sir Charles Newton, and Dr. Schliemann, who all testify to the existence of color in recently discovered sculptures, and to the fugitive nature of the tints. The proc esses to which the statues were exposed are feelingly described by Mr. Gambier Parry:

[ocr errors]

which one art owes to another. In the former, the effect of it should be the annihilation of surface, in the latter its emphasis."

After enumerating some of the great wall-paintings of the age of Pericles, and showing how "the feeble Byzantines, the Christian mosaicists, and the Gothic wallpainters only followed on the lines which They were at first well cleaned upon their had reached them through dark and evil discovery; then on arrival at their destina- times from the finest art schools of antions well soaped for taking plaster casts, tiquity," the author points out that "there then chemically washed to get rid of the soap were two distinct systems of painting by (as the Elgin marbles and others in the British the Greeks Museum were treated), and at last presented on walls. Wall-painting was essentially -one on panels, the other to us bare marble; and people think that they the art of the great building age; grand, were ever bare, from which the old encaus

tic painter's work has thus been ruthlessly

stripped, and not a blush of it remains.

The contemplation of such barbarism seems to have been too much for the author, as the concluding sentence of the essay defies analysis and, like some others in the book, needs recasting.

The subject of the second part of the fifth essay is architectural wall-painting. The author, after stating that the revival of ideas of coloring Christian buildings was comparatively recent, shows how this was stimulated by discoveries in Greece

heroic, monumental." We can only form

a faint notion of what the Greek wallpaintings were from descriptions, and from designs on ancient vases; but we gather that they were characterized by sculpturesque self-restraint. Some of the existing Lekythi (of which a fine specimen is in the British Museum, "on which is painted the group of Orestes, Electra, and Iphigenia at the tomb of Agamemnon") are remarkable for the perfection of the drawing and the intensity of the color. From this, and from the Cameirus vase, also in the British Museum, representing

the surprise of Thetis by Peleus, we may | tion were used. Both Mr. Hope and Mr. form a conception of the character of the Ruskin give many instances of mosaic wall paintings of the classic age, and of decoration, chiefly in the hieratic style. the essentially architectonic character of Mr. Gambier Parry brings his antiquarian the paintings of Polygnotus and his con- knowledge and love of research to bear temporaries. upon the origin and early history of the art. Like Dr. Schliemann, whom he quotes,* he derives mosaic from pebbles put before a door and arranged in a pattern. As regards the name, he thinks mosaic is connected with μovσelov,† the ordinary Greek term npwois not being adequate to express the high finish of such work, nor the term for a pavement, λιθόστρωτον ἔδαφος.

An interesting and just deduction is drawn from the superiority in many of the existing vases of the composition and treatment to the design. Where this is found to be the case, we may infer that the composition reflects the work of a better period of art, whilst the faults of design are attributable to the inferiority of the workmen in succeeding centuries. The essay concludes with an eloquent assertion of the claims of architecture to be regarded as the centre of all the arts

towards which they are all attracted by mutual regard and interest, and round which, as in natural relationship, they group their various attributes; with all their skill and all their poetry, making architecture itself completely beautiful, at once the home and the glory of

them all.

Pliny (xxxvi. 61) quotes a line of Lucilius, which speaks of pavement being adorned

Arte, pavimento atque emblemate vermiculato. The word musivus is used for mosaic by a writer towards the close of the third century A. D., and also by Augustine.‡ This is the nearest approach to mosaic in Latin. It was used somewhat promiscuously "from the grand pavement of the battle of Issus to the picture of the Madonna made of inlaid flowers by Italians at a village festa."

After this enquiry into the origin of the name, Mr. Gambier Parry raises the question whether the most ancient nations

We have quoted largely from the author's own words, because it would be difficult to improve upon them, and because his practical knowledge of painting united to architecture, and working in due subordination to it, entitles him to speak the Chinese and the Egyptians-prac'with an authority which few living men tised mosaic. He answers the question can claim. It is a pity that the classical in the negative. The Chinese appear to names were not subjected to scholarly have used colored marbles laid chequerrevision. The eye would not then be wise, and colored tiles laid like a chessoffended by such blots as "Olympion " for board; but true "mosaic, architectural or "Olympieion," "Lechithoi" for "Leky-pictorial, appears to be conspicuous by its thi" (Gr. kvoo), "Zanthus " for "Xan- absence among the arts of the Celestial thus," "Pheigalia" for "Phigalia," and Empire." Nor did the Egyptians prac"Agatharcus" for "Agatharchus.' The tise true mosaic, though sometimes they publications of the Hellenic Society have nearly approached it. "The true mosaics familiarized the students of art with a in Egypt were first Greek, then Roman, more correct orthography, and it is not in design and workmanship, and lastly too much to expect that a writer who Byzantine and Arabic." shows so much knowledge, so much observation, and so firm a grasp of principles should conform to the received standard.

Whence did the Greeks get their ideas of mosaic? They had the elements in use in the fifth century B. C., but these may have been imported from Phoenicia. The use of colored marbles was very ancient. The tomb of Atreus at Mycenae, of the twelfth century B.C., is described by Dr. H. Schliemann (" Tiryns ") and in Dodwell's "Classical Tour" "as having originally presented a rich effect of color as well as of ornamental carving." This was produced by the employment of inlaid variously colored marbles.

The subject of ancient mosaic, of which Mr. Gambier Parry treats in the first part of his sixth essay, has been already handled by Mr. Hope in his work on Byzantine architecture. He points out that mosaic pavements, called by Pliny (xxxvi. 25) genus pavimenti Gracanici, were introduced into Italy in churches of cities connected with the Eastern Empire, Ravenna, Venice, etc. He also shows that a similar work was applied to surfaces of walls-only in the case of the floors pietre dure were employed; on the Musis opus." walls incrustations of enamel and composi

Troja, 1884, pp. 53, 54.

+ Cf. Horace, Ep. ii. 2. 92: "Cælatumque novem Civ. Dei, 16. 8.

The author supposes that the tessellated work of the Chaldæans was known to the Greeks, whose artistic eyes saw in it capabilities of improvement. The pavements at Tiryns, itself of Phrygian origin, are "suggestive of colored mosaic floors" an inference drawn from Dr. Schliemann's " Tiryns (1886), from which a quotation is given.

[ocr errors]

From these early instances "there is a long interval before we come to the earliest known pictorial mosaics. They were in Greece, at Delphi and Olympia." The existence of a mosaic at Delphi, representing the meeting of two eagles at a place called the navel of the earth, is gathered from the scholiast on Lucian "De Saltatione." A still more ancient mosaic is that which was discovered by the French expedition, 1831, at Olympia in the pronaos of the temple of Jupiter. "It is still in situ, and probably the earliest extant specimen of Greek mosaic." It has been described by Sir Charles Newton and M. A. Blouet, and derives additional interest from its having been executed at the same time as the building of the temple (about 450 B.C.), and from its having been part of the ornament of the temple where the great statue of Pheidias was placed.

[ocr errors]

is that which, on Pliny's authority, was made for Sulla, and placed in the Temple of For tune at Palestrina.

Mosaic was applied with good effect to portraiture, which gained in durability what it lost in finish. Instances are given of Caracalla's gladiators and the friends of the emperor Commodus, whose portraits were erected in a portico of his garden. Early in the first century B. C. mosaic had become a necessary part of official furni ture, and Mr. Parry quotes Suetonius, who tells us how Cæsar carried mosaic about in his campaigns that his official "pavement" might be always ready. The com mon adoption of mosaic suggested the use of native materials. Where marbles could not be obtained, stones of various colors, and clay, baked red or black, were em ployed. Frequently, as has been remarked before, the composition is so superior to the execution that it is impossible not to believe that the originals were the work of able artists. And thus an additional interest is imparted to mosaics as preserv ing some record of the composition of an cient pictures and wall-paintings.

Interesting as mosaics are which represent mythological subjects, those are even more interesting which illustrate contemporary life. "One of the best examples The next instance of mosaic by Greek of the kind is the great mosaic of Italica, artists which Mr. Gambier Parry men- near Seville." This represents the intetions is the work of Sosus (about 220 rior of a Roman circus, and bears testiB.C.), described by Pliny, under the name mony to the importance of a city of which of an "unswept room (olkos doúpuros), in little remains, though it was founded by the centre of which were the famous Scipio Africanus, and was the birthplace doves, drinking water and preening their of the emperors Trajan, Hadrian, and Thefeathers. The mosaic of Pliny's doves odosius. A still finer specimen of mosaic, in the Capitol is composed of marbles, representing the entire scene of the circus, jewels, and a few glass imitations of is at Lyons. This is fully described, and them." Pliny gives the names of several is an excellent illustration of the lively Greek artists in mosaic-Parnesos of interest taken by the Romans in the Elis and Sosus of Pergamus. "One of games of the circus. Another favorite the finest of the Pompeian mosaics, con- subject was taken from the kingdom of structed of tesseræ of vitreous enamel," Neptune. There is a good instance of bears the name of the artist, Dioscorides this on the coast of Spain, on the floor of of Samos. The absence of notices by the church of St. Michael at Barcelona, Pausanias of Greek mosaics is noted and "where the whole glory of the ocean king. accounted for by the author on the ground dom is portrayed in mosaic, with fishes, that Pausanias was more of a scholar than nereids, and tritons sporting among the an artist. Some of the mosaics at Pom- waves, and indicating the spot once occupeii were wall pictures, but the finest of pied by a temple of Neptune." These all was a pavement. subjects were very popular towards the tributable to the extension of Roman comclose of the first century A. D., a fact at merce by sea. Of all such designs the palm is given by Mr. Gambier Parry to the mosaic found at Constantine, described in glowing language, which should be studied, as it contains, among other memorable expressions, a fine euphemism for

The subject is the battle of Issus, in which the prominent figure appears to be Alexander the Great, in the thick of the fight, having just speared his foe, whose horse has fallen in the attempt to fly. The earliest mosaic in Italy of which an account has been preserved

• H. N. xxxvi. 61.

« ElőzőTovább »