Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

he says,

to a building, had by degrees become their freshness. In those exquisite re. purely fanciful. Every kind of fantastic mains of ancient art the great painters of ornainent was introduced into them, and the Renaissance found a new inspiration. Vitruvius complains that nature had been They studied the figures, the arabesques, 'altogether lost sight of. “The objects, ,” the very nature of the stucco. With the

"which the ancients took for true insight of genius they were satisfied their models from reality are despised by to copy where it was vain to attempt to the corrupted fashion of the present day. rival. The figures called the “Hours,” We nowadays see upon our walls not so painted by Giovanni da Udine and Perino much copies of actual things as fantastic del Vaga in the Vatican, are identical monstrosities. Thus reeds take the place with two figures found at Herculaneum. of columns in a design, ribboned and in those days Herculaneum was not exstreamered ornaments with curling leavescavated, but the same subjects are freand spiral tendrils take the place of pedi- quently repeated in ancient art for the ments, diminutive temples are supported sake of their beauty, and these very figures upon candelabra, vegetable shapes spring must have been seen by them in the exfrom the tops of pediments, and send forth cavations of Rome. multitudes of delicate stems with twining Without speaking of the paintings which tendrils and figures seated meaninglessly were ruthlessly destroyed in the early part among them. Nay, from the very howers of the excavations, it is melancholy to which the stalks sustain, are made to think that the greater part of those that issue demi-figures having the heads some have been excavated in the course of a times of human beings and sometimes of century have already faded through atbrutes.”

mospheric influences, and that no means This description applies almost entirely of preserving them permanently have been to the latest style in which Pompeii was found. In some cases, the very precau. restored after the earthquake. There are tions taken for their preservation have traces that it had been introduced some been detrimental to them. The picture of what earlier, and we find it the most com- Achilles giving up Briseis - one of the mon not only at Pompeii but in other finest that have come down to us — was Roman ruins of the same period. It has not taken to Naples till more than two been called the grottesche, from the grot. years after its excavation, owing to the toes or subterranean places in Rome great difficulty of detaching it from the where it was first discovered. Severe art- wall. All that time it remained exposed critics, like Vitruvius, who apply the test to the air, and its beautiful coloring sufof strict rules, may find fault with these fered much in consequence. The picture exuberances of fancy; but their very of Adonis dying in the arms of Aphrodite charm lies in their emancipation from rule, was seen in all its freshness by Raoulkept as they are within the bounds of per- Rochette in 1833, three years after its ex. fect taste. These decorations, which were cavation ; but when he saw it again, six frequently combined with beautiful stucco- years later, he found it much faded. The work, have excited the admiration of the charming little pictures of Cupids and modern world generation after generation Psyches in the house of Marcus Lucretius, ever since they were first excavated. excavated in the presence of Mr. E. Raphael and Giovanni da Udine repro. Falkener in 1846, and then tolerably clear, duced them in the Loggie of the Vatican, were nearly effaced two years after by the Giulio Romano in his master-work, the action of the salt in the stucco. Mr. Palazzo del Te at Mantua, and they are Falkener took hurried sketches of them still the ideal of artistic wall-decoration. at the time of the excavation, during a It was one of the most fortunate events momentary absence of the custode, for it in the history of art that in Raphael's was not allowed then to make drawings of time some of the finest of these wall. unedited paintings till after three years decorations were brought to light by the ex- had expired, when they were often spoilt cavations in the baths of Titus on Mount and almost obliterated. Helbig also found Esquiline. There he and his disciples that, after a few years, some of the pictures saw those light and graceful draperies, which had been left on the spot were either those inimitable aërial figures, many of wholly destroyed or much damaged; and which time has now destroyed, but of that even those in the Museum bad suf. which our generation may see the replicas fered from various causes. In many cases on the Pompeian and Herculaneum walls. the original colors of the pictures have We are told how Raphael, when he first changed — sometimes even before the saw them, marvelled at their beauty and excavation. The heat of the volcanic mass

a

bas often made the yellow ochre turn red, i vation of the pictures depends upon especially at Herculaneum; and the cin- various causes, such as the more or less nabar or vermilion - called by the Romans careful preparation of the stucco, and (if minium - becomes black after a time, we admit, with Donner, that the pictures from contact with the air. Zahn saw this are frescoes) on the amount of care taken process go on under his eyes. He noticed to finish them while the wall was still wet. that, while the black grounds faded, the The directions given by Vitruvius about red ones became of an intenser black; and the thickness and composition of the he remarked that investigators who had stucco, in order to ensure its solidity, have not actually witnessed this process on the not always been followed by the Pomspot, on seeing traces of red in these peians, owing probably to the haste with black grounds, erroneously believed that which the town was restored after the the artists had laid a red ground first, earthquake. But the quality of the stucco and painted it over black afterwards. is always far superior to our modern Sometimes the minium has been painted fresco-grounds. The frequent use of sea over a ground of yellow ochre, in which sand in the preparation of the stucco has, case it comes off by degrees, leaving the however, had fatal consequences in develyellow ground exposed. In places where oping saltpetre, which destroys its firmit has been laid on very thin it turns ness. violet. The Pompeians, however, as we The technical part of the Pompeian have seen, used the minium but seldom in paintings has been a matter of dispute for the later decorations. It was a very ex- more than a century. The painter Don. pensive color, and it faded when exposed ner, in an interesting treatise, has gone to the sun unless it went through a process very fully into the arguments, of which we (called by the Greeks kausis) of covering can only give an outline here. The quesit, when the wall was dry, with hot Punic tion was, whether they were done in fresco, wax mixed with oil, and burning it in after- in tempera, or after the old method of the wards by approaching an iron pan with Greeks in encaustic. It was suggested hot coals. This seems to have been rarely from the first that they were frescoes, but practised at Pompeii, and other reds Carcani, with all the authority of a member such as red ochres or sinopis were used of the Accademia Ercolanese, contradicted in preference. Some pictures after their this view in the first volume of the "Pitexcavation are as short-lived as the ephem- ture Antiche d'Ercolani," and maintained eræ, and we owe a debt of gratitude to that, with few exceptions, they were done men like Zahn, Ternite, Raoul-Rochette, in tempera. Winckelmann seems to have Presuhn, Niccolini, and many others, who agreed with him at first, though he became have preserved us the colored drawings doubtful on the subject afterwards. Ranot only of those pictures which are still phael Mengs – than whom there could be extant, and which we do not see in all no more competent judge, as he distintheir freshness as they did, but also those guished himself in fresco and tempera, as which unfortunately have perished. Zahn well as oil-painting - gave distinctly as was for three years at Pompeii — in 1825, his opinion that the pictures were fres1826, and 1827, and again in 1830, during coes. His views, however, do not seem some of the most important excavations to have had the weight they deserved.

-and he made at once drawings on the The Abbate Requeno had tried to prove spot of the principal objects. It was with that the grounds were frescoes and that him at Pompeii that Goethe's son stayed the figures and ornaments were done in when the famous house — called at first encaustic, and he carried with him Carlo Casa di Goethe, but better known as the Fea, Raphael Mengs's friend. This view Casa del Fauno - was first excavated. prevailed for a long time. Early in the Presuhn, who unfortunately died while century, the French chemist, Chaptal, and the second edition of his valuable book afterwards Sir Humphry Davy, analyzed was going through the press, lived eight the pigments found in jars at Pompeii and years in Italy, and contributed, with the in other Roman ruins, as well as fragments assistance of Signor Discanno and Miss of the paintings, and proved that, with one Amy Butts, in keeping, exact copies of exception, a pink color in a jar, probably many a painting which has now entirely, the purpurissum of which Pliny speaks, or almost entirely, disappeared.

they were minerals such as are used in Notwithstanding that so much has been fresco-painting, and that wax, the necesdestroyed, there remain at Pompeii a large sary ingredient for encaustic, was totally number of pictures which exhibit a mar- absent. But though this was convincing vellous amount of freshness. The preser- as far as the general character of the

VOL, LXXIII.

[ocr errors]

LIVING AGE.

3781

[ocr errors]

was

pictures went, the cherished idea still and Müller in 1835, wrote that the grounds lingered in some minds that a few at alone were done in fresco, and the figures least might be encaustics. Subsequent and ornaments in tempera, and this view analyses made by Professor Geiger, from was adopted by Overbeck in his second Heidelberg, in 1826, and in later tiines by edition of Pompeji." The architect the French chemist Chevreul, had differ- Wiegmann, Welcker, and Kügler, howent results. Geiger found wax, glue, and ever, all followed in Mengs's footsteps, other organic substances in the stucco, and believed the Pompeian paintings to but Donner attributes this fact to accident, be frescoes, and there is no doubt that and believes that the painted fragments Mazois held the same view. Otto Dooner, taken out of the ruins, on which the experi- with a thorough knowledge of the subject, ments were made, had probably received and with the admirable Teutonic industry, a coating of varnish, as was usually done accuracy, and minuteness, has studied on at the time of the excavation to preserve the spot the methods employed for paintthe pictures. This supposition is borne ing the Pompeian walls, and he has come out by the testimony of Mazois, who wit- to the conclusion that the pictures are nessed the excavations early in the cen-chiefly frescoes, that the tempera painting tury, and who, after describing the process only plays a subordinate and supplemen

by which some of the paintings in the tary part, and that there is no encaustic s house of Sallust were varnished for their wall-painting. This view has been adopted preservation, says :

by Overbeck in his last edition of “ PomCette expérience n'a pas eu le succès qu'on evidence seein entirely in its favor. Pliny

peji," and the arguments as well as the en attendait. Le dissolvant qui avait servi à étendre la cire et à lui procurer la trans- says that wax colors are not suited to parence, s'étant volatilisé avec le temps, la stucco walls, and no encaustic paintings cire a reparu dans son état naturel et a formé have been found on the walls of any of the un tartre blanc qui a fait croire à quelques Roman ruins or of the Catacombs. It is personnes que le procédé d'après lequel les essential not to confuse encaustic paintparois avaient été peintes, était bien vraimenting with the process called the kausis, l'encaustique des anciens, tandis que ces already described, where the wax peintures sont à fresque comme toutes celles merely laid on as a preserving varnish. de Pompéi.

Pliny's description of encaustic painting The presence of the other organic sub. had, from its conciseness, led to various stances may be due to the frequent use of interpretations. He says: sea sand -- which contains many such in the preparation of the walls. Chevreul, of encaustic painting, in wax and on ivory,

In ancient times there were but two methods though he found no wax, resin, or gum, with the cestrum or pointed graver. When, also discovered traces of organic sub. however, this art came to be applied to the stances in the painted wall fragments, but painting of ships of war, a third method was he found neither animal nor vegetable adopted, that of melting the wax colors and matter in the pigments.

laying them on with a brush while hot. PaintIn the controversy between the archæ- ing of this nature applied to vessels will never ologists Letronne and Raoul-Rochette as spoil from the action of the sun, winds, or salt to whether the Greeks painted the walls

water. of their temples or decorated them with The ship-painting is sufficiently clear, but wood panel paintings, the vexed question it has been an open question whether the of the methods employed by the ancients cestrum applied to both the first methods for their mural paintings also found a or only to painting on ivory. According place. Letronne maintained that the to Donner's interpretation it was used for Greeks did not paint in fresco, but used both, and from the fact of Pliny's frequent the fresco process merely for coloring mention of painting with the brush as their walls in the first instance, and painted distinct from encaustic panel-painting, this in tempera or encaustic over it, and that interpretation seems the most probable, this method had been followed at Pompeii. Donner believes that in painting on wood Raoul-Rochette was of opinion that the panels and ivory, the powdered colors, Greeks sometimes practised fresco-paint- mixed with Punic wax reduced by means ing, but that it held a very subordinate of a solvent to about the thickness of place in Greek art, and that in the great modelling wax, were laid on with the days of Greece the temples had been hung cestrum or spatula and burnt in afterwards with wood panel paintings. As for the with the rhabdion, an iron rod, which was Pompeian paintings, he believed them to heated. The cestrum was an instrument bave been done in tempera. Hirt in 1833, pointed at one end and flat at the other;

trum.”

and Donner thinks that it was toothed at cias. The tradition of encaustic, however, the flat end like the leaf of the Betonica, is so completely lost that the best authorthe plant called in Greek Cestros, from ities arrive at the most opposite apprewhich he derives its name. The painter, ciations. Donner, while recognizing its no doubt, had a variety of these instru- merits in greater brilliancy and depth of ments. Some of the portraits found by coloring, believes it to have been a limited Mr. F. Petrie on the Egyptian mummies process; and he concludes, from the fact at Rubajjât are the only specimens of an- that the great Greek painters constantly cient encaustic painting that we know to used other methods side by side with it, be genuine ; and though they are but poor and also from its having been early abanspecimens of a period of decadence, they doned, that it was unsuited to the broad are invaluable on account of the light they treatment of large compositions. It is throw on this branch of ancient art. Both doubtful whether the greatest of Greek Donner and Cros and Henry clearly see painters, Apelles, painted in encaustic at the traces of the cestrum in these paint- all. Wiegmann and Brunn arrive at much ings, but they also see those of the brush. the same conclusion, and believe that oil. Donner, however, will not admit that in painting has many advantages over encausthe great works of encaustic art the brush tic. Cros and Henry, on the contrary, was used at all, while Cros and Henry be- give the preference to encaustic, arguing lieve it was used " du moins comme in that wax, unlike oil, allies with all colors, strument préparatoire ;” but they add: that it does not fake off, that neither sun, “ Pourtant nous avons reconnu pratique- heat, damp, nor dust can hurt it, that time ment qu'on pouvait se contenter du ces- has no effect on it, and that it can be re

One specimen of painting on touched without inconvenience, and this ivory was found at Pompeii in the shape view is supported by Mr. Cecil Smith. of thin ivory tablets, painted with Egyp- A picture of a painter's studio was found tian figures and ornaments, and probably at Pompeii, and reproduced by Mazois, forming a casket, and these were given but it was destroyed by the rain soon after away on the spot by the Prince of Capua the excavation. 'It represented one of the to ao English lady, and, according to favorite caricatures of the Pompeian artRaoul-Rochette, have never been traced ists – namely, pigmies performing the since. There exists, however, at the avocations of men. One is the artist British Museum an Egyptian casket, seated before his easel, with his brush in which is said to come from Herculaneum, hand, painting another pigmy dressed up and which corresponds with the descrip: as a distinguished personage. Near him tion of the object found at Pompeii, and stands his palette, in the shape of a fourprobably the two were very similar.* legged table, on which the colors are These caskets appear to have been in use spread and a jar for washing the brushes. at that time. A casket almost identical Another pigmy mixes colors over a brazier. with the one in the Museum was found This evidently represents two methods, in the cemetery of Hawara, in Egypt. showing that while the painter is paintDrawings of it may be seen in Mr. F. ing in tempera, he practised encaustic Petrie's book.

also. Encaustic, with the Greeks, was the In 1851, in a shop in the Strada di Stanearest equivalent to modern oil-painting, biæ, various materials for painting were and there can be no doubt that the Greek found — pieces of pumice-stone, pitch, genius brought it to great perfection, for resin, several pigments, a pestle, and jar the ancient writers evidently thought as for pounding the colors - in which Don. much of their painting as their sculpture. ner recognizes the materials required for Painting, in fact, was not only an inde- the coarser method of encaustic painting pendent art, but it was the complement of employed for ships. Some crushed pieces sculpture. We know what value Prax. of resin had been mixed with yellow ochre, iteles attached to the circumlitio of Ni- from which it would seem as if resin as

well as wax might be used in this process. Attempts to identify the two caskets have been No wax was found in the shop, and indeed fruitless. It was supposed that the English lady might have been Mrs. R. Auldjo, to whom the Prince of very little in Pompeii. Capua gave part of the glass vase found in 1834 in the The reasons Donner gives for concludhouse of the Faun, which she gave to the British ing that the pictures are frescoes are : that Museum, and which, united to its other half, is known as the Auldjo vase ; but there is no record of how the the colors on the walls are real fresco col. casket found its way into the museum, and it is in too ors; that the careful preparation of the good condition to be identified, with the object de- stucco rendered any mixture with the colscribed by Raoul-Rochette in Peintures Antiques Inédites," p. 379.

ors unnecessary; that in many cases he

a

has found the joints, though carefully con, them, moreover, exposed to a much cealed under the ornaments, where a fresh stronger light than they were intended ground had to be made ; that fresco being for, since the rooms in a Roman house the most lasting process it was also the received all their light from the atrium and most likely to be used for wall-painting. peristylium. We would fain ask who were From the directions Vitruvius gives about these wonderful decorators whose work, wall-decoration, it is clear that fresco was after nearly two thousand years, fills us the only suitable method, and he points to with admiration? It is probable that the the ancient Greek walls as models. In houses were decorated by associations of fact, Donner believes that tempera paint. painters which were formed in those days ings would long ago have perished. It to satisfy the enormous demand for works is true that the Egyptians painted in tem- of art that existed in the Roman Empire. pera thousands of years before the Pom- Since the second Punic War and the tak. peians painted their walls, and that their ing of Corinth, when the first Greek works colors have shown greater durability than of art had been brought over, the taste for those of the Pompeians; but this is inainly Greek art had gone on increasing. For owing to the extreme dryness of their cli- two centuries the Greek towns had been mate, while at Pompeii the pictures almost systematically pillaged of their treasures, always come to light in a very damp which had been carried to Rome. But condition, and take several weeks to dry, the originals could not suffice to satisfy the before the preserving varnish can be put taste which pervaded all classes of society, over them. The process of fresco secco and a great many copies had to be made. (that is, wetting the wall, covering it with Art degenerated into a bandicraft, and this a layer of lime, and painting upon it; or is one of the reasons why - while in painting straight on the wet wall with Greece it had been exclusively cultivated colors mixed with lime) has also been by people of free condition - it became traced at Pompeii, while tempera has been in the Roman Empire mainly the work of used principally for touching up.

Donner Greek slaves or freedmen. Pliny comrefutes an error of Carcani, adopted by plains a great deal of the degeneration of Overbeck in his second edition, that the art in his time, and of its being no longer fresco colors combine chemically with the in honorable hands. Quand la Grèce stucco, and become inseparable from it. vaincue, says Wallon, “ laissa tomber This is not the case. The water alone dans l'esclavage tant de maîtres plus penetrates into the stucco, while the parti. habiles que les maîtres de Rome, ce cles of color adhere firmly to the surface. travail déchut aussi dans la considération Through the absorption of the water, part publique. On laissa l'art, on prit l'arof the hydrate of lime in the stucco is dis- tiste." The slaves are frequently medsolved. It rises to the surface, and is tioned by Roman writers as painters; converted into carbonate of lime, giving they were often educated by their masters the paint a coating which not only protects in the art for which they had a natural it, but imparts a greater lustre' to the col- aptitude, having been born and bred

It is evident that the thicker the among the highest and noblest traditions. stucco is, the more water it absorbs and It was sometimes made a condition of the more time it allows for the composi- their liberation that they should continue tion before drying, while a larger propor. to exercise for their masters' benefit the tion of the solution of hydrate of lime is art in which they had been trained by developed.

them. Pliny mentions that a freedman Uninteresting as the subject of the of Nero decorated with paintings a por. technique may seem, it is most important tico at Antium (Porto d'Anzio), Nero's for the right appreciation of the Pompeian birthplace; and it is very probable that paintings. The defects in the details, such Pompeii was painted by Greek slaves. as occasional inaccuracy of drawing, want Thus, paradoxical as it may seem, the of finish, and the absence of the more del profession of art had fallen somewhat into icate shades of expression, are more easily discredit as the taste for works of art inaccounted for; and our admiration will creased. Art, however, never held more increase if we consider the hasty process than a subordinate place in the life of the by which such a marvellous combination Romans, while among the Greeks it was of artistic work was produced. We see part of the national life itself.

ors.

« ElőzőTovább »