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Fifth Series, Volume LXXIII.
CONTENTS. I. THE PAINTINGS OF POMPEII,
694 698 701
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From The Edinburgh Review. that an impassable gulf separates that old THE PAINTINGS OF POMPEII.*
world from the world of to-day, and that The first visit to Pompeii is an event in we live in a wholly different order of ideas. life. Nothing in nature or art surprises Everything at Pompeii is beautiful, even and fascinates like this close glimpse of the commonest kitchen utensil. The Greco-Roman life unfolded as if by en- genius of Greece had pervaded every in
hantment in all its details. To the clas- dustry. “ Unter allen Völkerschaften sical scholar it is a vivid illustration; to haben die Griechen den Traum des Lethose whose minds are a blank page on bens am schönsten geträumt.” Pompeii, the subject it opens a new horizon, it im- though not a Greek colony, had been early parts a new enthusiasm which has all the under Greek influence. It was probably fresbness of first love. In Théophile founded by the Ausonians, an old Italic Gautier's pretty story, " Arria Marcella,” race, sometimes called Oscans; but its the hero, Octavien, who visits Pompeii, oldest temple — which was in ruins long falls into a trance, and dreams that the before the eruption was a Greek temple lovely form of which he has seen the of about the same date as the great Poseiimpress on the hardened ashes in the don temple at Pæstum, the sixth century Naples museum, has come to life again B.C. ; and it shows that at that time Pomand loves him. When he clasps her in peii was occupied by Greek settlers. The his arms, she turos into a handful of close proximity of the Ionian colonies ashes; but the lovely vision clings to him Cyme (Cumæ), Dicæarchia (Pozzuoli), all the rest of his days. He marries. Parthenope, and the adjoining Neapolis His wife finds she is not his only love. – must bave necessarily had an important She ransacks every secret drawer - in effect. The Samoites, who subsequently vain. Could she be jealous of Arria Mar- invaded Campania, adopted the Greek cella, the daughter of Diomed, the freed. civilization, and Pompeii was influenced man of Tiberius ? So it is with us when by Hellenism earlier than Rome. In inwe visit Pompeii. We cannot at first dustry and luxury, says Nissen, it was believe that we are in a dead city — dead probably much in advance of Rome, where since eighteen centuries - so fresh does the conservative tendency of State instieverything seem; the carriage-ruts on the tutions retarded their progress. The stones, the inscriptions on the walls, the Oscan, the language of all the Samnite paintings in the houses.
people, bore the traces of this culture. It Frisch noch erglänzt die Wand von heiter is only known to us in a fragmentary way brennenden Farben.
through inscriptions on coins and stone. Wo ist der Künstler ? Er warf eben den The former were struck soon after the Pinsel hinweg !
Samnite invasion, the latter are of a later But we soon wake out of the dream, to find date and were found in considerable
numbers at Pompeii. At first mixed with • 1. Pompeji in seinen Gebäuden, Alterthümern Greek, Oscan developed into an indepenund Kunstwerken dargestellt. Von J. Overbeck; dent language; and at the time when the Vierte im Vereine mit A. Mau durchgearbeitete und vermehrte Auflage. Leipzig: 1884.
Romans penetrated into Campania, about 2. Untersuchungen über die campanische Wand- the middle of the fourth century B.C., it malerei. Von W. Helbig. Leipzig: 1873. 3. Wandgemälde der vom
was superior in some respects to the Latin
Vesuv verschütteten Städte Campaniens. Von W. Helbig. Nebst einer of the same period. Like Etruscan and Abhandlung über die antiken Wandmalereien in early Greek, it was written from right to technischer Beziehung, von Otto Donner. Leipzig: left; but, while Etruscan has not yet been 1869.
4. Die Landschaft in der Kunst der alten Völker. deciphered, the Oscan language has preVon K. Woermann. München: 1876.
sented no such difficulty. It was closely 5. Choix de Peintures de Pompéi. Par Raoul-related to Latin, and easily understood by
Paris : 1844-51. 6. Die schönsten Ornamente und merkwürdigsten the Romans, with whom the Oscan plays Gemälde aus Pompeji, Herculanum und Stabiae. called the Atellanæ became so popular Von W. Zahn. Berlin : 1829-52.
that they transplanted them in a Latin 7. Pompeji: die neuesten A usgrabungen von 1874Von E. Presuhn. Leipzig: 1881.
form to Rome. The poet Ennius prided
himself on having three souls because he account of the eruption, in which his uncle, knew three languages — Greek, Latin, and the great Pliny, found his death. As in the Oscan - which, translated into modern Krakatoa eruption of 1883, the ashes were phraseology, means that to learn a new scattered far and wide. They “ascended language is to become a new man. Under so high in the air," writes Dion Cassius the Roman influence the Oscan decayed, about a hundred and twenty years after the and, when the Romans finally conquered event, “ that they darkened the sun, and the Samnites in the Social War, it gave were transported by the wind into Africa, way to Latin, and, after having been abol- Syria, Egypt, and Rome. When they apished officially, gradually went out of use. peared in this city, before the news of the One or two inscriptions, of a date not long combustion in Campania had been reanterior to the destruction of Pompeii, ceived, the people could not imagine show that it was remembered by at least whence they came, nor judge it to be anya few. The Pompeians learnt Greek at thing else but an effect of a general an early age. There is every reason for destruction of the world.” Titus's good believing that the letters of the Greek intention of rebuilding the Campanian alphabet found on the walls two or three towns probably met with too many difficulfeet from the ground, were written there ties, for it was not executed; but another by the children on their way to and from smaller Pompeii rose not far from the old school.
one, and underwent the same fate in the The few allusions to Pompeii in Latin fifth century. There are traces that the literature prove that it became a favorite inhabitants of the old town returned to it, resort of the Romans. Its lovely situation soon after the disaster, to try to exhume and climate, its fertility, its Greek tradi- their portable valuables; but by degrees tions, combined to make it a little earthly Pompeii was forgotten, though the site paradise. Seneca spent his youth there; was more or less remembered, and its the emperor Claudius and Cicero had name was found in maps and historical villas there. Nor was it without commer-records with that of Herculaneum and cial importance. Built on an elevation Stabiæ. formed by an ancient stream of lava, it was
Excavations were not begun till the situated at the mouth of the Sarnus middle of the eighteenth century, after then a navigable river which, according to previous attempts had been made at Her. Strabo, constituted its harbor. The neigh- culaneum. In 1748 laborers, in digging boring towns Nuceria, Nola, Acerræ - in a vineyard, came across a bronze statue, made use of it for exporting their produce; and it was found that it would be far easier and Pompeii itself exported wine, oil, to excavate Pompeii than Herculaneum, pumice-stone (Pumex Pompeianus), the as, owing to its more elevated situation, tish-sauce called garum, and a special kind Pompeii had not been reached by the lava of cabbage. Nothing was feared from stream, and was buried under ashes and Vesuvius. The volcano had not been in lapilli only. For a long time the excava. activity within the memory of man; it was tions were conducted in a desultory and believed to be wholly extinct, and its green careless manner, with very few workmen and woody slopes only spoke of fertility. and without a distinct plan, and in this Sixteen years before the eruption, however, way much was irreparably lost or dea warning, in the form of an earthquake, stroyed. The houses, apart from the disturbed the peace of the inhabitants. treasures they contained,
then Both Seneca and Tacitus relate that thought to be of no iriterest; they were • Pompeii, a celebrated town in Campa. frequently covered up again after the obnia, was destroyed by an earthquake.” jects had been extricated, and many
have The destruction, however, was only par. now been disinterred for the second time. tial, and the inhabitants had not quite The excavation of the amphitheatre, becompleted the restoration when the final gun in 1748, was not completed till 1816. catastrophe overtook them. Two remark. The street of the tombs, the great and able letters of Pliny the Younger give an Ismall theatres, the temples of Isis and
Æsculapius, the forum triangulare, the removed for their preservation to the gladiators' barracks, and several private museum at Portici, which was incor. houses, were all begun between the years porated into the Naples museum early in 1763 and 1769, frequently interrupted, this century. Descriptions can hardly and only finished many years afterwards. give an idea of the charm of these picWinckelmann mentions that in 1762 there tures, of their rich harmonious coloring, were only eight men at work in Pompeii. which many art-critics have compared to In 1764 the number rose to fifty, chiefly Titian, of the serene, joyous conceptions convicts and Tunisian slaves.
of human life, of the grace and dignity of In the history of the excavation there is the figures. Stately gods and goddesses, a characteristic account of a visit which sporting cupids, bacchantes, fauns, centhe emperor Joseph II. paid to Pompeii taurs, dolphins, arabesques, are multiplied in 1769, accompanied by his sister, Queen in infinite variety. Most of the subjects Marie Caroline, and Ferdinand, king of are taken from Greek mythology ; but Naples, to whom she had been married some represent scenes from the daily life the year before. The emperor, on hearing of the Pompeians, and throw much light how the excavations were carried on, ex- on their habits and occupations. With pressed his astonishment and dissatisfac. few exceptions the subjects are treated tion. When he asked the director, La with taste and delicacy. In a civilization Vega, how many men there were at work, where to
themselves were and was told thirty, he asked the king ascribed the passions of mortal men, it is how he could allow such a work to be per- not to be wondered that art sometimes formed so languidly, and said that there ministered to the licentious ideas of the ought to be three thousand people engaged day, but those pictures which have been on it; that there was no work like it in removed from public view are few comEurope, Asia, Africa, or America; and pared with those which must delight even that it reflected special honor on the king the severest moralist.
To Helbig spedom. In the beginning of this century cially belongs the merit of having traced the excavations were suspended, but these pictures to their origin. He divides Joseph Bonaparte, and after him Joachim them into two groups those that have Murat, recommenced them with fresh an idealistic, and those that have a realistic vigor. In 1813 there were no less than tendency. The former include the mythsix hundred and seventy-four men em- ological subjects and a certain number ployed, and for the first time a regular of scenes from real life, such as female system was adopted. On the return of figures meditation, at their toilet, paintthe Bourboos there was another period of ing, or playing on musical instruments, slackness, and it was not till 1861 that the and frequently in company with Eros. А excavations became thoroughly well or- few of the mythological subjects are draganized under the direction of Signor matic, but most of them bear an idyllic Fiorelli, who has carried them on ever character, representing scenes full of sesince in the most able manner, and accord-renity and repose which the eye dwells ing to the best methods.
on with pleasure. Of all the remarkable things found at The realistic tendency is represented Pompeii none are more important than by a certain number of scenes from daily the pictures, on account of the light they life, such as the flogging of a schoolboy, a throw on ancient painting. While many baker's shop, the fullers at their work. masterpieces of Greek sculpture and archi. These are inferior, both in composition tecture have come down to us, the Greek and execution, and are for the most part paintings, from the fragility of their na- found in shops, taverns and other places ture, have perished, and it is chiefly in where little heed was paid to the decorathe Roman ruios that we find some tradi- tion. They all bear a local character, each tion of them left. At Pompeii every house subject occurs only once, and they have and every room was decorated with fres- undoubtedly been designed as well as ex.
The best of these were at first lecuted on the spot, design and execution